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April 1, 2004

Bright Spots in the Dark

Rosorc's Journal

As we trudged forward towards the mountain a quick two hours passed. Not feeling very cheerful, I started to hum quietly to myself. An old song my mother had sung to me as a babe; “Gold and Silver...Diamonds and Gems...Steel and Mirthril...All bring a Dwarf’s heart to mend...Spiced Potatoes and Heaps of Meat......Sour Cheese and Thick Heavy Bread...Spirits by the Bottle and Hearty Ale”, oh, so thick and frothy, “by the Keg...”.

Not able to wait any longer I took a good swig from my flask; watery or not it helped take the edge off. As I was replacing my flask I noticed a short, black, and horned being running our way with a war fork. Immediately, I pulled my axe and shield into a defensive position. Edging a little in front of Theona, the goddess of ale (Does she always glow that way? Or is it the red sky that makes her cheeks so full and vibrant?).

On cue, breaking my inner musings, Tassar yelled out his name and that he was sure the vile beast had heard of him. Amazingly enough the beast dropped to the ground shivering. Fearing foul play I pulled my shield above my head and took a knee. I really didn’t want to be suprised an attack from above. Seeing one was not coming the party and I slowly approached the beast.

By my arrival, Tassar had already acquired the war fork, in what seemed to be some sort of strange trade for a mace he had been carrying. William was asking whether the little beast spoke common. In broken common it wimpered out, “A little. My name is Hixtali.” Finding communication was possible we all took turns asking him questions about the local area, portals, and directions.

Sensing Theona had procured our needed information we decided to let Hixtali lead us to an “Evil” mage’s lair who supposedly could help us. So smart and worldly.... Oh, back to where I was, we headed out.

After traveling a short while we reached some sort of disgusting, putrid red river. Walking up the bank a little Hixtali said it would be safe for us to cross here, waded out, and crossed in a short amount of time unharmed. For a short while of the 200 foot expanse all we could see of him was the top of his head. Realizing I was tall enough to cross the river I headed out. Disgusting as it was, the less thinking about it the better, I thought. Poor Theona really didn’t like the idea. Nor did Deitricha who had placed Tassar on her shoulder to help him as he would have surely drowned before he had crossed. As we forded across Dietricha gave out a terrible yelp and started to run.

“Something has grabbed onto my legs,” she hollered. Upon those words we all ran for the other side. When she staggered out of the river she dropped Tassar and stumbled to the ground. Two large blood leeches were attached to her legs. Quickly, Areon and Theona helped remove them. One wriggled back into the river but the other was slain by Tassar as it hit the ground. Luckily Deitricha was strong enough yet to heal herself. As she did I could swear I saw a white pillar of light faintly shoot into the sky directly above her. I hoped I was seeing things. Strongly wishing I had been, I didn’t bring mention it to the group.

While Deitricha gathered her strength we all took a moment to clean our weapons and ourselves to the best of our ability. I handed Theona a water flask to aid in her struggles. She shot me a gleaming smile and said, “Thanks”.... Stroking my beard I nodded and walked away smiling. I barely caught the curt look shot my way by Areon. Wonder what that was about?

We quickly got back on our way. Miles passed and soon we were at our destination. A large cave loomed before us. The entrance was dark and ominous.

Upon arrival, Hixtali stopped dead in his tracks and refused to go any farther. Looking upon the ground I could see why. Hundreds of sets of demon bones and skulls lay strewn about the ground in front of it. Seems we may like this “Evil” mage after all. Upon orders from Tassar, Hixtali agreed to wait for us out here. Feeling it may help bring a little loyalty, I threw the little beast a hunk of dried meat out of my pack. The way he devoured it you’d have thought he had never eaten before.

As I turned, William was already walking into the cave yelling,”Hello...Hello... Is anyone in there?” Immediately any form of suprise was gone. If looks could have killed poor William would have dropped on the spot. Tassar, Areon, and I followed him in first, followed by the ladies.

Inside the cave was an old, small, wooden hut. Right down to a front door and shutters on the windows. This seemed really out of place. Made even more eerie by another large batch of demon bones and skulls littering the ground around it. Not sensing his earlier stares of death William walked right up to the door and knocked, asking,”Is anyone here? We are here to see the mage.”

As the door started to creak open I don’t know where most of the arrows, slings, and crossbows were pointing - at William’s back or the slowly opening door. I thought I had problems with that worldly thing, he definitely takes the keg! I now know I have been trumped in this department, hands down.

Staggering back from the door William looked shocked as a large, flying disembodied eye levitated through the door and asked what we wanted. Stuttering he asked,”If we could meet with the mage.” Shortly after that the eye disappeared and a wild eyed half elf appeared in its place. She stated curtly,”Welcome, my name is Hexla, Won’t you come in?” Upon which she turned her back to us and headed inside her home. Leaving the door open for us to follow. Lowering our weapons, exchanging quizzical glances, we all followed her in.

The interior was sparsley furnished. Mostly shelves and tables. Books, tubes, pots, beakers, and other oddities lined them. There was a large bed in one corner and a table with a mixture of stools and chairs around it in the center of the room. Shortly after the general pleasantries of meeting someone new were exchanged, Tassar piped up, “Do you have any ale?” She smiled politely and brought him a large mug of what appeared to be some sort of thick, red liquid. He nodded and tossed a gulp down. Seeing his eyes cross and face flush I quickly realized that wasn’t the ale for me. Did I just say that? Clangeddin forgive me!

As the rest of the group discussed our predicament with Hexla, Tassar started playing with some demon skulls in one corner of the room. Talking to himself and definitley feeling no pain. Two more draughts and he feel asleep on the floor where he sat. Snoring loudly. Very loudly.

Hexla said that she could help us but she would need a pair of silver eyes for the spell. Luckily for us William had a pair in his head. Seems he took objection though. He said,”I need them to see.” That is when Theona told William she was pretty sure they would grow back. William just didn’t seem to agree with her on this. So he offered his sliver hair in their place.

Hexla agreed she could use the silver hair for something else she was working on. Then offered the information we needed to start looking for a portal home in exchange. Quickly she sheared Williams head, placing the hair in a small sack, and then sat down at the table. Following suit the lot of us minus Tassar, who some how wound up sleeping on the mage’s bed of all places, and listened to her words.

She said that she didn’t have the exact info but knew of a place we could find it. She told us of a Pillar of Skulls that reached far into the sky. That we could find the info there. She then drew us a small map. At this point we had thanked her and were standing. William stated he would return and offer up his eyes if all of our other endeavors to return home failed. Hexla’s eyes lit up at this. Seems she had been stuck here a long time and wanted to return home herself, very badly.

Upon rising Theona asked Hexla,”Do you have any potions of read magic?” She said yes and then they haggled price. Seems Theona wanted two and that the final price was a hundred gold. I offered up my last large stash of treasure, a big hunk of amber. It was enough to close the deal. Upon recieving the potions Theona asked Hexla to drink one first. Seems Theona really has some of that worldy stuff I have been looking for. Hexla quickly drank hers, followed by Theona. After a short period of time Theona said she had to read a spell book she found before we crossed into hell. Seeming pleased she placed it back in her pack. She then thanked Hexla.

We had started for the door when William walked over and picked Tassar up off the bed. Throwing him over his shoulder we took our leave. Walking out of the cave we found that Hixtali had deserted us, probably as quick as we turned our backs.

Starting down the hill I glanced at William. He looked terrible, even for in hell. Covered in dried blood, his head recently sheared, and Tassar had just purged his innards down his back, I still had to have a good thought for him. He seemed sincere in his offer to come back and offer up his eyes to take us home if all else failed. Seems he possesses a strength I hadn’t seen to that point yet.

After a quick direction check we headed off toward the Pillar of Skulls, closely skirting the River of Blood. After we had traveled a while we heard a terrible clattering noise. We could see in the distance, a squad of twenty large, bluish, demonic looking dwarves in heavy armor. Seems they were after something as they were in full doubletime. Everyone yelled to hide. Almost everyone but myself found a large enough boulder to get behind. Seems I stood out like a sore thumb. Theona got my attention and threw me a potion. Through hand signals and whispering she bade me to drink it. Knowing it was from Theona, goddess of ale, I threw it back in one gulp.

Then a fuzzy feeling hit my gullet. Then I couldn’t see my hands. Heck I couldn’t see any of me. I think I yelped out. Luckily the squad of demons were making so much noise that they didn’t hear me. Once again, the fair lady had saved my day.

We waited patiently for the creatures to be way out of sight before we rose to our feet. Luckily by then I could see myself. From Theona or not I don’t think I like potions... Now a thick and frothy ale, that would hit the spot...

A few moments passed of watching behind us for any signs of the strange and threatening beings to return, and then we were back on the trail following the directions given to us by the Mage Hexla. We hadn’t traveled long when Tassar recovered from his stupor and took to foot himself. Luckily for William as the load was clearly wearing on him. At first he staggered a bit but then after a time he seemed to fully recover. At least I think so. The chatter was definitely back along with the halfling bounce in his step.

We could see the Pillar of Skulls way before we were there. It rose for miles into the sky. The closer we got to it the louder the noise of voices that rose from it. They were deafening by the time we reached its base. All trying to shout at us at once. Then all shouting at each other to shut up so they could speak. It was incredible in a horrible kind of way. So many differant races were present. Some I knew and some I had never seen before. Thanks to Clangeddin I won’t be here I thought. As I was already peering upwards I could have sworn I saw that white pillar of light above me this time. Guess I better watch what I think.

By the time I refocused on the world around me the others were already in full banter with some of the skulls. Three in particular argued back in forth. The largest obviously from an Ogre claimed to know what we wanted but he wanted one of our companions in exchange. Deciding this was a non issue we listend to the second and his request.

“I will tell you what I want if you bring me a fiend,” he cried. This being a little more appropriate we gave thought. Then an elf skull turned to Theona and said,”Remove the large mouthy one from the pillar and I will tell you what you want.” Sensing this was our best deal I quickly grabbed my axe and charged forward. I bashed and bashed until the Ogre skull fell to the ground. Seeing what I was doing, Tassar stopped pouring that horrible red ale into different skulls’ mouths and came to help me.

He kicked it a couple of times trying to shut it up, but it wouldn’t stop yelling. So he threw it into the Blood River which ran close by. The loud mouthy one finally silenced, the Elven skull answered all of the questions we asked. He gave us directions to a known portal on the plains. He then said we would need a key to open it. A red brick from the Avernus Road leaving Lord Bel’s Keep. Seems he is the ruler of this level of hell and the bricks in his road are quite magical.

After brief description we realized we would be skirting that ominous keep we had first seen when we arrived. It also meant we would have to cross that dreaded river again. After a few more minutes of listening to the other skulls shriek the Elven skull regained control and told us of a bridge to the south that we may cross instead of fording the river again. Though he warned it was heavily guarded.

All along our conversation, the second skull that had wanted a fiend as payment for his knowledge, kept saying the elf was lying. Throwing out his own directions and crazy statements of what we would need to open the portal. Finally Theona asked the Elven skull why he was here. He told a sad tale of a life as a merchant going terribly wrong some where along the way. This was enough to satisfy her so it was enough to satisfy the rest of us.

We turned our backs to the Pillar of Skulls and moved a short distance away so we could here each other better. After much discussion we headed down river to try our luck at the bridge.

When we arrived it was apparent we weren’t crossing here. Huge and made of bones, the bridge was covered with several different types of fiends, both winged and on foot, large and small, there was no way to sneak across. By the looks of them there was also no way to fight our way across. Even Tassar’s,”We can take ‘em”, statement rang hollow. Disappointed, we headed back to the crossing point we had used earlier.

On our second, not so glorious, bath in the Blood River we all ran across with all of the speed we could muster. Still I heard both Theona and William yell as they crossed. Seems Theona was all right but William had a blood worm attached to his leg. He pulled it from his leg upon which Theona killed it with her rapier. A little healing by Deitricha, ughhh...that is a white pillar of light above her, and we were soon on our way to Lord Bel’s keep.

Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, we snuck around it at a very large distance. Even then, when we came into view of the road we were staggered by what we saw. An uncountable army of Fiends and Demons were standing on the road!!!! What I wouldn’t give for a good kegger right now.

Sensing they were ready to depart somewhere we attempted to wait them out. We got several hours hours of much needed rest in this manner. Gouts of flame erupted from the ground around us. Demons shrieked and cackled in the distance but it was the first real moment’s peace we had in a long while.

Like an angel from the skies above, Theona took this time to hand me a fresh flask of ale out of her pouch. Glorious woman. After a large swig, I thanked her with a wink and an especially masculine stroke of my beard. I think she actually blushed. Or is it just that damned red sky again, showing on her cheeks?

Being brought out of my contemplation by screeches and what I guess would pass for demonic fanfare, the tremendous army moved down the road. As the last glimpse of them passed around the corner, Tassar made his break for the road.

He quickly worked a brick free and was returning when a deafening roar let loose from the ramparts of the keep. At least 50 or more winged demons took flight and were heading straight for Tassar. At first he started to run. Then realizing his plight he threw me the brick and turned to face his impending doom. I think I heard Deitricha yell “No!” at this point but the surrounding noise was very great.

As I caught the brick I realized my fate was entwined with his. Both being so short and no place to hide, we would never out run the winged fiends. Placing the brick in my pouch I turned to meet my fate. No sooner had my visor dropped and my axe was pulled out when a large gout of flame struck down part of the onrushing fiends.

Sensing we had a chance, Areon yelled for us to retreat in a defensive manner and fighting only when needed. We could already see the fiends on the ground starting to regenerate. Agreeing, we started to back up as a group when another cry deafened the sky. Another batch of winged fiends slammed into our pursuers from the side. Weapons clashed and screams tore through what seemed to be our very bones.

We all could tell that we were no longer even noticed at all. We turned and ran. We ran all the way to and through the river of blood again without pause. Thankfully, no one was carrying any unwanted passengers after the fording. We took a sharp turn in the path and nearly ran right into the Demonic looking dwarf squad we had earlier avoided. Seeing us in full view there was no hiding this time!

Tassar and I turned to fight. Everyone else yelled for us to run. As our friends dissapeared behind us we decided they might need us more.... So we set out at a blinding pace. To the others in the group it had to almost be comical. Seems elves and humans, lightly geared, can move a lot faster than a dwarf and a halfling fully geared for battle.

We ran and ran. All of the years of carrying coal in the forges paid its just dues here. Some how we maintained a steady lead on them. We ran all of the way to the bridge we had seen before. Unlike last time, though, we were definitely noticed. The winged fiends took to the air and the fiends on foot joined the chase.

Shortly after we passed the bridge, our tailers slowly gaining ground, both Areon and William yelled that they could see our destination ahead. To our disbelief a lone figure stood in our way. He was very tall and dark. He had what was an unmistakable evil aura about him. We all started to yell at each other at once. I screamed I would ram him with my shield so the rest could get through, but as I started my final charge he yelled for us to halt. Amazingly we all did. More amazingly, the fiends chasing us did also.

He called us forward and told us he would let us pass through the portal on one condition. We would have to carry a black orb with us to the other side. His words crackled like the flames that inter the bones of a funeral pyre. His demeanor left no question that we would obey him or surely die. Tassar looked briefly at Deitricha, said,”Sure,” and grabbed the orb. I pulled the brick out of my pouch and as a group ran through the horsehoe shaped portal......

We found ourselves in of all places the middle of a cobblestone street. One that perversely headed up in both directions. There were also lights somewhere high over head. Then I noticed there were run down houses, shops, and Inns, I can taste it now mug after mug.....thick and frothy...I wonder if Theona, goddess of ale, will let me repay all of her kindness in true dwarven fashion....

Breaking my mental meanderings, I gathered my senses. I noticed all sorts of strange beings shambling by us. Most definitely nothing my sparse travels had encountered. I also noticed that the Orb in Tassar’s hand had crumbled to dust at his feet. Somehow that seemed to deeply disturb me.........

Posted by Erik at 12:36 | Rosorc’s Journal

April 3, 2004

Out of the frying pan?

Deitricha's Journal

Travel across the plain was hot and dry. Rosorc tried taking off his armor in order to travel lighter, but between the random gouts of flame and the noise of dragging it behind him, he soon decided to just wear it and be hot. We all learned a little about helping him into it! I was glad we had, however, as we finally ran out of luck (we thought); rounding a boulder in time to come face-to-face with a little spiky figure and no time to hide!

Tassar immediately introduced himself, at which the figure dropped flat to the ground! We all came over to see it, although I was watching the sky in case something else was coming over to see us. The thing was already trying to back away, even as Tassar “bartered” for its weapon, a war fork. It spoke an odd language until William spoke to it in Common; luckily, Hixtali spoke a little. The poor thing was immmediately overwhelmed by questions from us all.

Slowly, it became clear that the castle belonged to Lord Bel, and this area was known to have a portal in it - therefore, Hixtali was the guard. I wonder why the Lord sent out such a guard? Once we told it we weren’t trying to invade, and in fact wanted OUT, it relaxed slightly. It seemed to like Theona best, which was a riot, as she was making some pretty outrageous statements that weren’t quite lies and yet.. and yet! By the time she finished both threatening and pretending to be friends, Hixtali described someone called Hexla who hurt the locals, by which we hoped and prayed it meant a good person who could help us out.

The only other option, apparently, was to go back to the Lord’s citadel and use a portal there, or go to the front lines of some Hellish battle, or to some rift into a worse place! Instead, Hixtali led us across the plains, to a river of blood. The ford was “only” about three feet deep, which was over both Hixtali’s and Tassar’s heads. Hixtali waded right in, but Tassar asked nicely for a ride. I was glad to help; none of us liked the idea of walking through the awful stuff! I headed across with Tassar on my shoulder, and it didn’t take long for some thing to latch onto my leg! I started running for the far shore, even as it drained my strength away. Before I reached the bank, another one did the same.

I made it to the far side, thank Tymora, and my friends quickly got two disgusting worms off me. Tassar killed one while the other made it back to the blood. I agreed with him that I looked like hell - I felt like it! Luckily, I was able to heal myself of the worst of the damage, and we continued on. Poor William was really bothered by Hixtali’s method of cleaning itself - it licked off the river’s blood as he walked. The rest of us simply suffered.

A couple of hours later, we reached the foothills of the mountains. Soon, we wound up at the bottom of a slope, the mouth of a cave above. Hixtali flat-out refused to climb up with us and Theona’s bribes had no effect. William and Tassar started climbing, Rosorc tossed a hunk of meat to Hixtali, and Theona tried to talk it into waiting for us. I think it promised just to get us moving; as soon as the last of us reached the cave we turned to see a black dot racing away. We had little time to worry about that, however, as William decided to holler into the cave an announce our presence!

The rest of us held our weapons at the ready, peering into a cave strewn with bones and skulls, and also a small wooden hut. Willliam was already knocking on the door. A female voice shouted at him, “Who’s there?”, so Tassar introduced himself, but she hadn’t heard of him. We told the voice that we were looking for directions out of Hell, and got yelled at some more. At least she was asking if we had anything to offer for her services, and not trying to add us to her collection of dead things outside. The door cracked open slightly when we promised we were not demons, and we caught sight of an eye. The voice asked for a bat skull, which we were unable to provide, but apparently we didn’t look too dangerous, as the door finally opened all the way and a female half-elf came out.

Tassar, naturally, asked right away if she had any ale! She gave him a sweet smile and poured a red liquid into his mug, which he sipped at and found quite strong! She chuckled and agreed with him that “blood ale” is very strong, indeed. Hexla, too, ended up here by accident, and with her cabin! Tassar by now was having conversations with the skulls in the cave instead of us, and singing. Hexla had been in Hell for a while, but thought it too dangerous a place to explore for a way out. I pointed out that the locals were terrified of her, but Tassar gave her a distraction by asking if he could keep one of the horned skulls (the “cute” one) for his helmet.

Hexla said she could send us home, but she needed one of William’s silver eyes to use in the spell. And, she wanted his other eye so that she could send herself home, too! Apparently, she isn’t from the same realm as we are, but I was surprised to find William desperate enough to get out, that he was really thinking about it! I mean, we didn’t even have proof that her spell would work, and he would be blinded! Meanwhile, Tassar staggered into the hut and passed out on her cot. I turned back to see Hexla cutting William’s hair off, and telling him about the Pillar of Skulls to the south in return. She said the Pillar would ask for something, too, but we prayed it wouldn’t be William’s eyes! He then picked up Tassar, who puked on him. I really began to feel sorry for William at this point!

Before we left, Theona traded another skin of ale with Rosorc for an amber gem, which she traded with Hexla for two potions (the inside of the hut was full of potion-making equipment), and then asked Hexla to drink one to show it was safe. She then drank the second, and pulled out a couple of spell scrolls to read. We finally understood that she hoped the scrolls from the chest next to the portal would have some clue to return us there, but after perusing the scrolls, shook her head sadly. We said goodbye to Hexla and headed for the Pillar of Skulls.

We didn’t get far before we saw a formation of creatures coming our way. We scattered into a field of boulders, trying to hide from the big blue-skinned dwarf-like beings. Some were better at it than others, and Areon was a big help! Rosorc, unfortunately, found his spiked armor a real disadvantage until Theona tossed him a vial and told him to drink. He disappeared just before the war band passed us by! As soon as they were out of sight we headed south again, walking for three hours and more before a tall pillar came into sight. We stepped off the path, briefly discussing what to say to whatever we found, and Tassar finally woke up from his drunken stupor.

Tassar’s headache was exacerbated by the Pillar; it turned out to be a column of heads, all talking, and shouting, and arguing with each other and then with us! Each head claimed it knew the way out, and each one wanted a boon - one wanted a party member, another a fiend, etc. It was very loud and confusing! I wondered how we’d tell any one’s story from another; they were all in Hell, why tell the truth? Finally, Theona found an elf that she thought might be worth listening to, and Rosorc and Tassar busied themselves attacking an ogre’s head nearby that the elf happened to especially hate. I thought it was useless, but they soon chopped it out and pitched it into the river of blood (swearing at us the whole way), and the elf told Theona about a portal further south.

Although another head swore the way to go was west, we decided to follow Theona’s hunch and learned about a horseshoe-shaped formation, and that we needed a brick from the highway leading from the Lord Bel’s citadel to the Blood Rift in order to open it. None of us looked forward to wading the river again, but the elf explained that the one bridge was heavily guarded. I guess Hixtali didn’t do too badly by us after all! Tassar, meanwhile, decided to head south to check out the bridge first, just in case, and we followed. The bridge of bones was there, all right - and guarded by a varied multitude! We turned around without a word, followed by an irate halfling.

We made it to the ford without trouble, at least. I picked up Tassar again, and we all ran across! Theona shouted, but it was William who got drained this time. He came out of the blood with a worm on him, yanked it off, and held it up only to be bitten again. As soon as he dropped it Theona dealt with it. I quickly healed him up, glad that we made it with so little trouble. We then headed toward the castle, swinging around to where the road was, and finding, to our dismay, that the road was choked with a massive army! We tried to settle down and wait them out, getting singed in the process when a fireball exploded nearby, but finally hid near the road and waited for the army to march. It took hours - we even got some naps!

Finally, quiet seemed to descend. Tassar bolted for the road, picked a brick out of it, and raced back to us. As he did so, a flight of winged beasts swept out of the fortress and headed our way! Rosorc somehow ended up with the brick as the fiends came screaming out of the sky. Tassar, naturally, wanted to stop and fight. I feared it was pointless, but at that moment one of the fireballs hit the center of the formation, knocking many to the ground. We knew we couldn’t outrun them, so we tried to ready ourselves for battle with the remainder (and Tassar wanted me behind him again), when another flight of creatures flew overhead and attacked the first group! Praying they were sufficiently distracted, we bolted for the river. Our third crossing was quiet - but as soon as we reached the shore, shouts told us that the detachment of blue-skinned creatures had finally caught sight of their prey.

Tassar wanted to fight, the others to run. I told him that it was probably a moot point, we’d be fighting eventually, and he agreed to run with us until then. He and Rosorc were pretty slow, I fear - but so were the things chasing us! We managed to keep ahead of them, barely. We made it past the Pillar (what an exciting day for those poor souls!), and gave the bridge a wide berth. It wasn’t enough, we soon found out - the whole guard was soon on our trail. We didn’t have time to worry - the horseshoe shaped formation came into view, and a big guardian in front of it! It shouted at us to hold and a wall of flames burst ahead of us.. but our pursuers turned back!

We didn’t have time to think what that meant, as the thing told us we could pass through the portal to the “City of Doors” if we brought a black orb along. It also said we’d die if we didn’t take it, and Tassar grabbed the orb with one hand, me with the other, and we all dashed into the portal! Rosorc pulled out the brick, William gave the guardian a funny look, and next thing, we found ourselves on a cobblestone street. The orb crumbled to dust.

The street curved faintly upward in both directions, and the houses looked a little rundown. There was a haze overhead, and lights twinkling faintly through it. They didn’t look like any stars I’ve ever seen! The street itself was full of the strangest creatures I’ve ever seen before - although we must be quite a sight ourselves; dusty, hot, and covered with three layers of blood. I’m glad we’re out of Hell, but what is this City of Doors, and how will we get home?

I hope our money is good, here. Rosorc is practically weeping with joy as he heads down the street to find an inn and ale. A bath would be nice, too...

Posted by Kate at 21:09 | Deitricha’s Journal

April 4, 2004

Of what I can remember…

Tassar's Journal

Ok, it is still clear that we were walking and found… someone. I don’t remember who or what it was, but it took us to someone else. This other person lived in a cave on the mountain. I do remember climbing the mountain, but I don’t remember the little fellow being there with us when we reached the cave.

Now, the cave entrance I will remember forever. I have seen bone piles before; in caves of animals or some particular evil thing that had gathered its prizes. But this took the cake, no questions asked. This cave was filled, with of all things, the skulls of demons. Quite impressive. Some of the skulls were the size of my hand, other I could nearly stand in the eye sockets alone. Horns and all kinds of misshaped growths were represented on all of them.

In this cave we found a small house. Thinking this a possible deadly foe, everyone was checking their weapons and making sure they had a clear route to run if things went bad, when the new guy strolled up and yelled into the place. Then if that were not enough he knocked on the door. I guess he was thinking if you are going to one of the nine hells to get killed and eaten, you might as well be polite about it. No need to scare the possible mad creature with untold power by arriving unannounced.

Then I think some time passed, it is still a little fuzzy. I do clearly remember asking the lady who lived in the house for some ale. She gladly went into her house and returned and filled my mug. I intended to sip it first, but it was so tasty that my first sip was a good gulp. I was warm and feeling a little fuzzy in seconds. Then I don’t remember much for a while.

From what I gathered from my companions I must have passed out after only a few more of my sips. I was also told that I vomited all over the new guy. At least I wasn’t useless. Oh, Hexi something, that is what Areon said the little creature who took us to cave was named. Anyway, then we went to some kind of tower of heads and got directions. After that we went to a bridge and I am told that I tried to make a point for fighting some really big creatures. Again, I do not remember any of this.

As Deitricha tells me, the Hexi something was the elf-lady, or half elf-lady. I am a little confused on this all still. She also said that we went to a road and stole a brick from it. And that I had insisted on fighting a large hoard of flying demons. If she didn’t look so serious, I would say she was pulling my leg. But as she told me the story, it was confirmed by nods from the others. I guess they talked me out of it, as I am alive and all.

She went on to tell me that the party then went back across the river of blood again (I might remember a river of blood) and we found more people to fight. As it is told, Rosorc and I both were wanting to stay and fight this batch. But, again we were not allowed to do so. Instead we ran to a portal. On the way to the portal we found a man with a black orb. This too I do not remember.

What I do remember is standing in a street with all my friends and some black orb was in my hands and it was turning to dust. I am not sure of much of this, with the pain still throbbing in my head from the ale. As we walk to find an inn, I notice a couple of things. First, everyone is covered in blood but me. Second, I have a war fork, and I can’t remember where I got it. Third, the new guy is missing most of his hair. And there has got to be a good story about that.

Fourth, I got a chance to be in several fights and got as much as a swing in on a foe. This seems weird. Fifth and final, we are all still alive.

Posted by Jim at 16:29 | Tassar’s Journal

April 6, 2004

I'm Falling...!

Deitricha's Journal

Well, we were soon following Rosorc up the street toward a sign with a bed on it. One look inside and we changed our minds, however - it was only a flophouse, no food or drink or privacy! The houses and alleys were looking more rundown than ever when we caught sight of another building ahead; huge and black and rather spider-like, it gave us all a bad feeling. We turned back, hoping to retrace our steps and maybe find a better part of town. Not before a gnome tried to talk us into following him down a dark alley to an “inn” he knew of - we must have looked like real strangers to town, I fear!

We managed to extract ourselves from that conversation, and walked on up what passed for a main street. Finally, we reached a crossroads - with a zombie standing smack in the middle of it! It was not only not attacking anything, it was covered with notes! I was horrified, and I think Areon was, too; we stayed as far from it as we could, while Rosorc and Theona walked right up to check it out. The papers, apparently, were job notices and other messages, and the zombie itself would even give directions by pointing when asked. I was very glad when we moved on.

The town was still pretty rundown, and someone asked if it was worth trying to find a “better” area - maybe this was all there was! I said that it only made sense for a portal from Hell to land in the worst part of a place, so I had faith that we could find a safer spot to rest. Even as we spoke, we had to dodge a flapping imp-shaped ooze overhead, carrying a scroll. Sights like that helped keep us moving! Unfortunately, looking up at it caused me to finally register that I could see rooftops directly overhead in the sky. Whatever shape this city is, it was too much for my sense of up and down - I learned the true meaning of the word vertigo!

Of course, this meant the rest of the party realized the strangeness of the city as well, and Theona pulled out an aleskin which we happily shared right there in the street! Tossing the empty to a voice in an alley, we began walking again. Areon, bless him, suggested that I hold someone’s shoulder and look at the ground rather than keep staring into the sky until I felt like I was falling upward. This also helped me keep out of trouble when strange creatures passed us, including a gigantic, red, winged demon that gave us the eye as we passed. I wonder if we’ve met him recently?

The area finally began to improve; we passed through an industrial area full of foundries and sulfrous smells, and when we noticed that the locals were well-dressed enough to give us looks, we figured it was time to find an inn. The Alabaster Mermaid was the first we saw, and to my amusement, Rosorc insisted on holding the door open for Theona. The innkeeper was glad to offer us access to his bath rooms, sending a very nervous serving girl to lead the way. At least our money is good here! There were three big rooms, so Tassar and I made a merry dash for the first one. We weren’t planning on a private room but no one followed us! Leaving my backpack and bags and weapons on the verge, I jumped into the bath and proceeded to clean my armor, my clothes, and myself!

Finally, we all met in the common room, feeling much more presentable. William’s hair, I fear, looked really bad now that what was left of it was clean. Areon generously paid for all our rooms for the night, and we settled into one to divide up the treasure and gear that we’d collected. Everyone then headed back downstairs for food! The menu was rather eye-opening, so we ordered one of everything and sampled. I think I’ll stick with the goat, myself. At least I know what that is! Realizing that it was nightfall, we headed back up to sleep. We found that Areon had paid for three rooms. While the rest eyed each other in some embarrassment (except for Rosorc), Tassar and I gleefully dashed into the first again. I have no idea how the others divided up in the end.

The night passed quietly - what a blessing! Meeting for breakfast in the morning, we found a note saying that the elves “went shopping”. They soon came back from selling the leftover treasure, carrying a lot of gold and a winged cat for Areon. I like the cat! We all then “went shopping”! I changed my gold into six amethysts, leaving almost seventy in gold pieces and some silver, plenty of walking money! Still, it’s just fun to be adventuring with friends. The bazaar was lots of fun to just walk around and window-shop in. What an amazing place this City of Doors is! William got his hair trimmed a little better, and as for Rosorc - he returned with an intricately braided beard, decorated with mithril chain and gemstones! It was a work of art. Theona got a “gift” from a small boy - two roses and a mithril chain. How she did blush! Rosorc then braided it into her hair. It’s very pretty - but Theona’s not sure what to make of that dwarf!

I thought that perhaps we could get ideas for a way home from the local temples, but the merchant I spoke to said that there weren’t many in town. The lady who runs this city doesn’t approve of a lot of magics, which I decided to keep in mind. Thank Tymora we hadn’t had much reason to cast anything, yet! William found out that the best way to find a portal home would be in the Clerks’ Ward, which was back where we’d spent the night. Theona handed me a bunch of healing type potions, and we left the market.

Back at the Clerks’ Ward, we found a large marble building titled the Hall of Records. The first clerk we found, however, told us that we were in the wrong place. The goatlike centaur directed us down the street a couple of buildings to Information. That clerk sent us further down the hallway to the Portal Registry. This clerk seemed to know what we wanted, but insisted that we fill out about twenty pages’ worth of forms, applying for information on a portal to Faerun. Areon, to my surprise, turned out to have the patience to sit down and do the job, although I read over his shoulder. Five gold pieces and a filled-out application later, the clerk told us it was closing time and to come back tomorrow. I feared we’d have a minor explosion from the party at that point!

Back at the inn, we got a sample of how smitten Rosorc truly is. He ordered a fine private dinner for two, himself and Theona, who instead slipped out the door “for a moment”! Rosorc gave her a little while, then began to eat. I tried to tell him that she might not return his favor, but he wouldn’t talk to me. Finally, Theona returned, covered with cuts! Rosorc didn’t even blink, just cleaned her up and gave her an ale. Theona started drinking like I’ve never seen before. She finally managed to tell him that dwarves and elves don’t mix - as she passed out under the table. Poor Rosorc! He wasn’t bothered at all, though, which made me wonder how dwarven women are normally wooed? He just bought her a room, carried her up to it, and locked her in alone!

The next morning, Tassar and I cracked our door open to see a kid bringing a tray to Theona’s door. On it was breakfast and a note. She looked confused, so we, giggling, told her all about her fine dinner of the night before. She disappeared for the baths as we headed downstairs to find breakfast. Rosorc was still not listening to me about Theona, and I was finally sent to get her out of the baths, as she seemed inclined to spend the whole day there instead of going to the Hall of Information! I talked to her through the door, finally giving up and walking in only to find her hiding underwater! Pulling her out, I finally got her dressed and ready to face us all when we figured out that she was still confused about the night before. She thought her cuts were from Rosorc’s armor! That elf should not drink so much! I convinced her that she only had dinner with him and we finally headed out.

There was a different clerk, of course. We feared we’d have to start all over, but he managed to find our file and, even better, a lot of details about how to get home! There’s one portal back to Faerun, right under the worst part of town, and in its catacombs (no, I’m not going to think too hard about that, I’ll just get vertigo again!). It’s only open once every thirty-two days, and it’s open today! We needed a black rose to open the portal, and we could hire a guide to get us to the right area. Off we went! First stop was the market, where Rosorc’s shopping came in handy; he knew right where to find a flower shop selling black roses. And two more for Theona! We also hired “Bob” to get us there.

Bob led us to an alley in the Hive district, and an archway in a wall, with steps leading downward. There were white-haired workmen across the way but they didn’t bother us as we headed inside, leaving Bob behind. Rosorc led the way, carrying the rose, and we wandered the corridors for some time. It was all we could do - there was no sign of a portal. We did find more zombies, however, and these acted like the real thing! I worried that I couldn’t or shouldn’t turn them, but the others did just fine without my help. Rosorc and Tassar waded right into battle, Theona and Areon shot arrows, and William and I tossed shurikan and spells. We all managed not to hit a party member this time!

Zombies killed, we’re off to wander the tunnels again. I pray we find this portal, soon!

Posted by Kate at 13:38 | Deitricha’s Journal

April 7, 2004

Smitten in the City of Doors

Rosorc's Journal

A strange city indeed, this place of doors. Roofs over our heads and such sights I never could have imagined before. Seems fitting such an amazing thing was to occur. As I searched the horizon I caught sight of what could be an Inn ahead. Letting the group know, we wandered up the street.

Now I have always been a level headed dwarf, more or less, and have kept to myself by nature. Never being close to any family member but my mother, so feelings come difficult to me. Which makes what is going on inside me so trying now.

Standing in front of what we believed to be an Inn I held the door for this wonderful, beautiful being named Theona. Making it more difficult for me is I know that as a plain, average dwarf, that this is probably going to hurt me very bad. Being a Silver Elf, with much grace and beauty, she will more than likely never return what I feel. Nor in rights I guess should I ever hope her to.

Though told by my Mother as a youngster that, “You will know the one. From the depths of your heart, my son, it will be as if the mountains themselves have taken hold. Will give you their knowledge and share their joy.” As a young boy I used to laugh this off, believing my Mother to be a little romantic in thought.

As I grew, left home, and travelled I have still thought such. Places came and went. People passed through my life. Never even a tingle from the mountains. Now I have a chain of mountains landing on my heart, and a head swimming as if I have consumed all of the ale in the Realms. While a wonderful thought not something that will help me in this instance. Did I just say that?

This in itself is making me a little uneasy. I can catch myself glancing in her direction and feel as if I am walking in the clouds or in dwarven terms rolling in gold....

Ughhh! What’s this? This isn’t an inn, it’s a flop house. We really can’t stay here. Heck there is No Ale!!!, food, bath houses, or for that matter privacy. After quick discussion we decide to move on and test our luck somewhere else.

Moving out to the street we head off to look for another Inn. A real Inn. At this point our surroundings’ oddities are starting to affect some of our party members. Deitricha is definitely freaked by there being no up or down here. She keeps whispering back and forth with Tassar who really seems confused by her concerns. Bouncing up and down he seems to be looking everywhere at once. Exuberant over every new wierd thing we happen to pass.

After travelling several blocks a dirty little gnome approaches William and says,”Guvnor may I interest you in an Inn. Just a couple of alleys away.” Taken back by the obvious danger we all convinced William that we would find an Inn on our own.

Growing weary from our searches, we stopped for a moment. Feeling it would take some tension off, Theona, giver of ale and seemingly new center of my world, decided to pass a flask of ale around. Learning the hard way, I realized from now on to get mine before Tassar. For his size he seems to drink a very large share.

Heading back out we decided to change directions again. A very dark and spidery looking building lay ahead. Which usually only means one thing. Avoid at all costs. From the look in Areon and Theona’s eyes they had the same dark thoughts.

Starting out again, we came to a little better part of town. At this point we ran into an amazing sight. A very large zombie was standing in the middle of the intersection with billboards nailed to him. Most of our party skirted the sight, but Theona and I ran up to take a look.

I was amazed at all of the languages she could speak, heck for that matter read. Oh, this is bad. I think I’m blushing. I’ve got to get it together. All right, we’re moving again. Whew! What was that about “help needed”? Oh, well, we aren’t staying here anyways. At least that isn’t the plan...

Travelling for quite some time we passed through a lot of different areas of town. Finally arriving in a good neighborhood with nothing less than a fine Inn. First at the door, I was quick to hold it for Theona. Am I being too obvious? I wish I understood this stuff better! I have to remember to try and talk to Tassar alone sometime about this stuff. He and Deitricha seem pretty happy. Heck they are completely as strange of a pair as we would be. What am I saying a pair.....

Areon generously paid for baths and rooms for us for the night. Each of us took off for our own cleaning rituals. Seems there are more than two sexes here in the City of Doors. Three different bath house rooms were available. Pulling my gear in the male’s bathroom I cleaned everything I owned. Finishing up I dried myself, my armour, and the rest of my belongings. Then I put on my finest traveler’s outfit. Which, under the circumstances, just didn’t seem as fine as I once thought.

Taking the time I took my gear to one of the rooms Areon had rented and stowed it. Areon then brought me my share of the coin we had found a few days earlier. Things in order, I went down stairs for a drink and some food. Soon, I was joined by the rest of the group. Listening to the server, we decided to try one of each meal. That way everyone could try some of each. Luckily for myself, they had hard bread upon my request. A little taste of home!

Having a full belly and several thick and frothies in me to help my swimming head and heart, I excused myself. As I wandered up to the room my head started to buzz again, as if on cue. How am I going to show Theona how I feel? Wishing I had more life experience at at this point, I arrived at my room in time to see William laying down for the evening. Thinking I may ask him some pointed questions about the workings of female elves I opened my mouth to speak..... Only to be greeted by the sound of snoring. My luck. No answers. Just snoring to think by.

Sometime in the night, sleep took me for a time. Waking early I rose and went down to eat some breakfast. Convincing the cook that I really would like some potatoes and onions with my meat, I leaned back in my booth. A plan was formulating in my mind. Being full of second guesses, I was glad when Tassar staggered down to join me.

After several minutes of wild talk from Tassar, I realized that I wouldn’t be needing any advice from him at all. Not that his heart wasn’t in the right place, but we are two different individuals. He wanted to control and protect Deitricha in an odd way, it seemed to me. Where as I was looking for an equal and a partner. I may have misinterpreted the conversation, as confused as my head was, but I still think I will follow my own heart’s advice here.

Having finished eating as a group, we headed out to the market for some shopping.
Quickly splitting off when we arrived, I headed out to attain the items I needed for many things.

First I headed to a Jeweler. A short, squat man with pudgy fingers. He said his name was Kythar. No matter his appearance or manners, which were definitely lacking, his work was exquisite. I required two lengths of fine Mithril chain from him. One of 24” in length and the other 18” length. Both were to match the other in all other ways.

Having this order in, I went about restocking my gear and supplies. I even inquired about a magical bag I had overheard two celestials talking about. Seems these bags hold an amazing amount of stuff without ever growing heavy. Finding a shop with them, I quickly realized the expense was way beyond my means. Though I do now know they are called Bags of Holding, for my effort. I believe one day I will own one of these. They would make an adventurer’s life a whole lot easier.

Getting warm, I took a quick pull from a flask and continued my preparations. Unbeknownst the others, I slipped back to the Inn and talked to the proprietor. I ordered a feast for two. Private booth, candle light, both elven and dwarven ale and spirits, and lots of flowers on the table.

This being done, I bolted back to the market, so as to not arouse the curiosity or worry of the others with a lengthy absence. Upon arrival I picked up the chains Kythar had made for me. The small fortune was worth every last gold. As I said before, his work was exquisite. Borrowing a silver mirror from him I put an elablorate courting braid into my beard with the larger length. There is usually a lot more ceremony with something like this, but I really didn’t have the time. Thanking Kythar with a grateful arm clasp, I turned and took off back into the market.

It was a short time later that I had procurred the paper and ink to write a note, two roses, and a seemingly trustworthy boy for delivery. Still unsure of myself, I had made the note out as a thank you from a friend. Though I wanted to say, no, holler to the heavens, so much more.

Plans in place I casually walked up to the others. Seems everyone was having a reasonably good time. It was good to blow off some steam after our crazy past few days. Hard to believe how recently I had met this group. Now it seems as if we go back a long ways.

“A gift for Lady Theona,” the boy called out as he approached us. “Here my lady,” he continued as he handed her the flowers with the mithril chain wrapped around them. He then passed my note to her. I nearly fainted. She was taken back but thanked the youth. Then quizzically looked at the card. Smelled the flowers and unwrapped the chain.

Seems Deitricha noticed the connection between my chain and this one immediately. I don’t know how to describe the look but it was almost bewildered. I think she had figured me out.

Seeing she was unsure of what to do with her new gift, I approached fair Lady Theona. I gently pulled it from her hands and nimbly wrapped it and one of the flowers into her lovely silvery, soft hair. Noticing myself as if out of a dream, at first I stepped back, not believing I had been so forward. I thanked her for everything and quickly meeked away. Embarrassed for sure. Seems everyone was giving me a slack jawed look of shock.

Shopping done, whispering settled, we headed for the Clerks’ Ward for some info. Along the way I found myself nipping some ale to help calm my nerves. Upon arrival we got a bearaucratic run around for a while. Seems this place is definitley into its paper work.

Areon filed the proper papers, it would seem, at the third office we visited. We paid the five gold coin fee. Then the clerk told us to return tomorrow and we would have our information. Slightly miffed we thanked him and headed out back to the Inn.

Seems I will remember The Alabaster Mermaid as long as I live. Upon our arrival back I approached the Lady Theona and requested her presence for dinner. After what could have been mistaken for confusion or outright fear she stammered she would join me. As we sat, the rest of our troupe (all but Areon who had retired to his room) gathered around as if at a theater. So, I had our server pull the privacy blind.

A few awkward, quiet moments passed, and Theona asked to be excused for a moment. A few moments became a half hour. Feeling saddened I started to eat by myself. Deitricha at this point approached my table and asked if she could speak to me.

She told me that I was going to be rejected. That Dwarves and Elves don’t mix and many other things I didn’t bother to hear. I sort of nodded along. I didn’t bother trying to explain to her that this was the one and only person I had ever or will ever feel this way about. That the mountain had spoken. I had listened. My life’s partner was set.

There would be no other. I had already accepted that upon rejection I would grow old alone. A dwarf’s heart is a deep and puzzling thing. It was not for me to decide now. All I can do is try. Show my best and pray.

When Deitricha had finally walked away my heart nearly skipped a beat. Theona was standing back at the table. She was mumbling some sort of apology. Her hands were cut so I helped clean them up. She then sat back down and nearly drank the table dry. Dwarven spriits...Elven mead... She ate her meal. Conversation was sparse but I could see she was wrestling things over in her own mind. Her eyes sparkled in the candle light, her smile brightened the room, and her presence alone made me feel complete.

Feeling better I drank a few healthy rounds with her. As she started to get talkative, the alcohol finally caught up. My Lady Theona passed out and slid limply under the table. Pushing the table aside, I gently raised her to my shoulder. Carried her upstairs and placed her in the room I had rented for myself. I tucked her into bed. I pressed my hand to my mouth in the form of a kiss. Then gently placed it on her forehead and walked quietly out of the room, making sure the door locked as I left.

Going back downstairs I rented myself another room for the night. Wrote Theona a note, ordered her breakfast in bed, and paid to have flowers placed on the tray when it was delivered. Head spinning, thoroughly exausted both mentally and physically, I then went off and passed out in my new room.

Morning was quick to come. Everyone was up early except for Theona. We all waited outside the Inn for her. Seems she was in the bath and wasn’t in any hurry to come out. Deitricha volunteered to go and retrieve her. After what seemed like a long time they returned together. Both barely giving me more than a quick glance.

Areon for that matter was acting a little quiet around me too. William was talking enough for everyone though. Soon we headed back to the clerk district. All went rather uneventfully. To our disbelief, we received all of the information that we needed. Seems a portal was open today for our trip home. It was below the city and we needed a black rose to open it.

Already knowing where to get flowers, we headed off. As we passed through the Bazaar, I stopped and got a black rose from the shop I was at the day before. We also found a guide to take us to the catacombs while we were there. He was a young man named Bob.

Under Bob’s directions we made quick time to the catacombs. This is where he stopped and said we would be on our own. We thanked him and headed in. Leading the way with the black rose, I was the first to see the shambling forms of zombies lumbering our way.

I tucked the rose in a safe spot, dropped my visor, and charged with my axe. Quickly I had dispatched one and was working on the next. I could hear my comrades fighting behind me. It was a brief fight. Having dropped two foes I breathed a sigh of relief. “Now this is something I am used to”, I thought. Wiping off my weapon, I rejoined the others. Glad to see no one was hurt. Also glad to see that beaming smile I was so quickly growing to adore.....

Posted by Erik at 12:53 | Rosorc’s Journal

April 9, 2004

Excerpts from Areon's Journal

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 21, 1373, Silverymoon

We left from Theona’s house, and returned to the alleyway behind the Bright Blade Brandished. I started looking for signs of which way the guard went, but I am still not good at tracking movements in cities. Fortunately Theona found some blood and drag marks on the ground, and we were off. We managed to make our way through the city, following drag marks, and blood. After several hours, the sun was starting to rise, and we found finally Tassar, hanging upside down in an old abandoned warehouse.

Tassar has really pissed the guards off, though I am unsure why he has. He is drunk and disorderly an awful lot, but he has never (to my knowledge) done anything that would warrant the type of beating they gave him. He was hanging upside down and almost every bit of exposed flesh was either covered in dry blood or turned a blackish-purple color. If I had known the guards were going to do this, I would have stepped in and tried to stop them.

Theona splashed some water on Tassar, and he stirred a little; I was amazed that after all the beating he had taken he could even be alive. Theona tried to give him a healing potion, and though it did make him look a little better, he still looked absolutely horrid. Theona said she thought that we should take him to a temple to be healed, and though I was wary of taking Tassar outside, I had to agree that clerical care would be much better for him, than us trying to give him healing potions. I said that we should not take him to Tymora’s temple, as surely Deitricha would find out what happened. Theona suggested taking him to the Temple of Silver Stars. She had done some sort of job for them once before, and thought they may be nice enough to help for the little bit of gold we had between us.

Theona took Tassar out and I followed at a distance, hoping that no one would take to much notice to the injured Halfling. We made our way across town with little more than stares of wonderment, and the Clerics were most helpful. They healed Tassar for the small donation that Theona and I were able to give, and after he was healed Tassar made a donation as well.

We returned to meet at the Bright Blade Brandished, and it seemed everyone was in a dire mood. Tassar kept muttering things about “Mr. Bucket,” Antonio has had some sort of fight with his father, and Deitricha seemed upset as well. Antonio wanted to leave as soon as possible, and as we made our few remaining preparations to leave Theona returned o her hose to get Dante. She returned without Dante, saying that he had left without even leaving a note.

We left town then, and finally free of the city walls, it seemed that the whole mood of the party lightened. We made good time on our way to check a tower that Theona had heard about while we were in Silverymoon. But we were delayed when we came upon a dead cow in the middle of the road. Antonio insisted that it was the work of a vampire, but he could not find any lurking about in the bright sunlight. I know there are a few other blood sucking creatures that exist, so I was not quite ready to make a judgment about what was responsible then.

We traveled on, coming upon a town. Theona wanted to stop to let someone know about the cow, so we headed for a nearby farm. Tassar was sure he smelled pie coming from a house, and bolted off with Deitricha following, to keep him out of trouble. We found two men working in a field, who we told about the cow. They thanked us for finding her, and told us that there had been a few cows lost on other farms as well.

We headed into town for a bit of lunch, and Theona started a conversation with an older human man named Marl. She asked him about the tower and the old guy went on for forever and eventually one by one we left. After several hours, Theona finally made it out of the inn.

After collecting Theona, we headed out of town, and into a chain of events that left one party member dead and one creature quite charred.

We found a set of huge footprints while we were walking and Tassar, in his ultimate wisdom, decided that we should follow the tracks. At the end of the footprints we found a huge troll which Tassar decided needed to be killed, he ran up to attack it, an distance we knew this could only turn out badly, we prepared to help him. Theona and I both loosed bolts and arrows into it, and Tassar attacked it. Antonio claimed that fire would be the most effective thing against it, and Deitricha threw a flask of oil on it, following Antonio’s advice.

Theona then shouted to Antonio to light he bolt and she would shoot the troll, setting it on fire, but Antonio decided it would be better to poke the troll to set it on fire. The troll, enraged that Antonio had lit him on fire, reciprocated by ripping Antonio in half. The troll then expired.

We were left with a problem of what to do with Antonio’s body. We didn’t want to just leave it to rot, so we decided it would be best to take it to his parents. We returned to Silverymoon uneventfully and Deitricha and Theona went to let the family know what had happened. Tassar and I stayed behind so that we would not be creating any scenes, especially with Tassar’s reputation.

We will be leaving again soon I am sure. I don’t think Antonio’s death has deterred us from traveling onward…

Kythorn 23, 1373, Ruined Tower

Theona left us for a short while to check her house from anything Dante may have left. We sat around not really being able to leave, but still quite ready to be gone from Silverymoon.

After a short while she returned, with a strange new character in tow. He looks human, though his silvery eyes suggest that he is a little more than just that. Theona introduced him as William and told me that he was a mage. I found this odd as he had armor and carried a mace, but for now I will let it pass.

Theona and I went to get Tassar, who had been hiding out to keep out of trouble. We found him paying his rent to Lady Brenin, and when we returned to meet the rest of our party, Tassar met William for the first time. I don’t think it went too badly, as Tassar only nicknamed him “new guy,” and demanded that William buy him ale.

We got ready to leave town, and because William had a Warhorse, we decided in order to get along more quickly we would ride our pack horses. As I expected, Tassar got himself up with Deitricha, but I hadn’t been thinking about our remaining party member, until she hopped onto the horse behind me. I don’t know why, but I tensed up a bunch. I reprimanded myself for being so stupid. I didn’t think Theona was hitting on me. She’s independent enough, and a city dweller at that, why would she like someone who is far more comfortable in the wilderness, like me? But I still can’t be completely sure. While we were traveling the horse made a small misstep and Theona grabbed onto me a little tighter so she didn’t loose her balance and fall off. I would have just written it off as just that…but I thought she held on longer than was necessary.

I’m not sure whether or not to pursue it. I know I need to approach her about it, but I don’t know how I can, or even when! Not to mention I could just be reading into her little action entirely too much…

Blah…my head is starting to hurt thinking about it…on with the day…

We had a relatively uneventful trip to the tower, stopping in White haven to rest overnight before continuing to the tower. We stabled our horses in White Haven, so that if we end up in the tower for an extended period of time, nothing will come by and have an easy horse-snack.

We headed to the tower, and once we were close to it, we heard a wolf howl. William started to whine about how much he hated wolves, and I began to wonder if he was even a mage. Maybe he was just a coward who wanted to get some treasure at the expense of others…

We did spot a wolf watching us from near the tower, but he quickly disappeared. Then shortly after, a dozen wolves appeared, bearing down on us. Theona and I ran to the tower, but everyone else ended up getting caught by a wolf. Tassar had been knocked from his dog Otto, and he and Deitricha were both fighting from the ground, and William was unconscious and being dragged away from the battle by a wolf.

I left the safety of the tower to rescue William; I couldn’t let our party kill two mages in less than 3 days. The wolf dropped dead with one arrow from my bow, and I bandaged William enough that he seemed to be stable. Not long after, the wolves fled, realizing that we were more than a match for them.

Deitricha healed those who had been injured and Tassar made a wolf stew. After eating William wandered into the tower to investigate it. I started wondering why he was wandering off alone, especially into a “haunted” tower, when Theona Admonished him for trying to wander off alone. I can tell William is not used to adventuring yet, Though I am pretty sure Antonio would have done the same thing…I know mages who wandered off from their parties ended up dead. My mother was always wary of being alone, and she had many stories of fellow mages who were too foolish to live very long.

We decided that we would then head into the tower, down a staircase that William had found. Theona started down first, until Tassar, William and Otto slid by her on the slippery steps. Once at the bottom of the steps, everyone ran in their own direction, exploring the ruins, until we heard Theona scream for help. I ran back as quickly as I could to find a needle-nosed insect with bat-like wings attached to Theona’s neck. Deitricha killed the creature, and a bunch more dropped from the ceiling, attacking us. We managed to fend them off, but not before both theona and Deitricha had lost a lot of blood. William actually managed to kill one, though it exploded all over Deitricha and Theona. I think that they may have been the cause of all the dead cows, though I am not entirely sure.

Posted by Tim at 20:42 | Areon’s Journal

April 10, 2004

Roses from Rosorc

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 29, 1373, The City of Doors

The trouble with endeavoring to look sure of yourself in an extraordinary situation is that you may be sending the wrong signals to your friends as well.

First, we really needed to find an inn— we were just exhausted from our entire visit to Avernus. Our first attempt to find a place to rest brought us to a flophouse— no food, no bath! Determined not to look too lost, we were never the less attracting seedy individuals— a shifty-looking gnome offered to show us the way to an inn— we need only follow him into a dark alley first. We decided to stick to this main “road” we were on. We also passed a very ominous arachnid-shaped building, all of us in agreement that it likely was not an inn.

We soon came to a signpost that we had to decide whether to read or attack— it was an actual zombie with scraps of paper nailed to it! My friends, other than Rosorc, decided to keep their distance, but I wanted to read the notices in case we could find a bill for an inn. There were personal notes and job postings— one for someone who was good at “finding things” to apply for work at the “Brainless Dretch,” and another seeking magic items with an address of “31 Darkbane Alley.” I figured there must be more to this zombie than being a board for bills, so I asked directions to a good inn. The zombie groaned and pointed straight up at the rooftops above us. That’s right, they were directly above us! Poor Deitricha was already getting sick from staring at the skyline from this odd angle; we suggested she look down, but not before we all saw something that looked like a cross between and ooze and a mephit fly past carrying a scrollcase.

I got my last flask of ale out and passed it around, and tossed the remainder to a voice from an alley asking for what was left. Feeling a bit more fortified, we hardly reacted to the large red scaly creature that exited a door onto the street beside us and just kept walking.

The area we were passing through eventually became even hazier and the sounds of a foundry drifted to us— we were obviously in the factory ward now. Needing fresher air, we continued on.

Things finally started to look cleaner after we’d walked for an hour or more. The area seemed safer too— guards in red spiked armor watched us, alert for trouble, as we passed by. We came to a door with a sign above it: “The Alabaster Mermaid”— an inn at last! Better still, it had rooms, food, and baths available. Areon generously offered to pay for our accommodations and bought three rooms and access to the bath area. There were three baths, labeled for male, female, and “other.” Tassar and Deitricha headed into the one marked for females, and Rosorc was already walking towards “males” so I took the chance the “other” would be empty and headed in. I’m not sure how they were piping the warm water through the baths, but it was one of the nicest experiences— and I needed a bath badly! My clothes were still sticky from the River of Blood, so I scrubbed them as well.

Feeling better, but hungry, I headed back to the common room of the inn. We couldn’t make heads or tails out of their menu, so we just ordered one of everything. Some of it was a bit scary-looking, but there was plenty of ale to wash it down, thankfully!

Things were a bit more awkward when it was time to grab rooms. Areon had only purchased three, and of course Tassar and Deitricha ran in one immediately. William and Rosorc took the next, so Areon and I got the last. I’m not entirely sure Areon is aware of the soul bond we have formed— he knows things have changed between us, but it was so gradual that I’m not sure myself when I became conscious of it. It is there and that is enough for now.

Of course, since elves don’t sleep, we just mediated as normal, and then I suggested we find a marketplace to sell our extra loot at— we could collect the money and take our friends back to the market when they awoke. I know Areon likes to be outdoors as much as possible, and even though there is not much “nature” to be found in this haze-shrouded city, I figured he’d like it better than sitting in an inn. We got directions to the Great Bazaar and headed off. I would say that the sun was coming up, but honestly, it was more like a lightening of the haze.

I was able to get my clothing magically cleaned, which saved me the expense of buying new, and we got 2000gp for all the extra stuff we’d been hauling around. Areon has been looking for an animal companion for some time, so it was ironic that he was able to buy an animal that is surely native to our world— a tressym, or flying cat, that he calls Nianque, with fur and feathers that are a good color match to my own hair. We were both pleased to be able to let the poor thing stretch its wings outside of a cage. Several hours had passed by this time, so we hurried back to the inn to find our friends finishing up breakfast. After handing out the remaining shares of coin, we took them back to the market ward so they could shop for themselves.

While shopping, we also found information on portals, or rather, where to find information on them, so we could more easily return home. As nice as this City of Doors (called Sigil by the natives) is, even I am longing to see some greenery and real sunshine.

What happened next is all a blur— I think I have made a grave error with my newest friend. A young human lad ran up to me, hailing me as Lady Theona, and presented me with some red roses and a beautiful mithril chain. Attached was a thank you note “from a friend.” Wondering how Areon had managed to orchestrate this when he hadn’t left my sight hardly at all, I stood there confused until Rosorc, seeing my bewilderment, took the chain and wove it into my hair with a rose. I absentmindedly thanked him as Areon led us back to the Clerk’s Ward to get the information we needed for the portal home.

We eventually arrived at a huge marble building called the Hall of Records and met with a creature that looked like a cross between a goat and a human (I’ve since discovered that they are called bauriar). He instructed us to go elsewhere, and with our new instructions, we eventually made our way to the Office of Portal Registry. Rosorc thoughtfully held the doors for me all the way through— dwarves are much more polite than I had ever realized!

We met with a short human called Marxel who insisted that we fill out a huge stack of forms before he could give us information on the portal we needed. Areon got to work filling them out while I attempted to bribe the clerk. Areon and my friends finished filling out the forms before I was able to successfully bribe Marxel, but not, I’m afraid, before the office had closed for the day. Marxel took the forms and bade us come back in the morning.

I was still pondering the gift I’d received in the Market Ward when we arrived back at the Alabaster Mermaid. I was surprised to see the dining area completely transformed— a table for two with candles, red roses and several ales and wines was set. Rosorc led me to one seat and— Areon went up the steps to our room and closed the door.

I noticed, at this point, that Rosorc had something woven through his beard— a mithril chain that matched the one in my hair!

Already seated, I grabbed the nearest flagon and took a big gulp of a very strong alcoholic beverage. I needed it! I am ashamed to say that I panicked when I realized that I was the object of Rosorc’s affection, and as the meal was served and a privacy screen set in place, I had to excuse myself from the table and bolted out the door of the inn.

Between the drink I had consumed and my mounting anxiety I had lost any rational thought I’d had. Knowing Areon would help me from an awkward situation, I grabbed a handful of pebbles from the alley and threw them at (what I hoped) was our window. He lifted the sash, but I could see by the hurt look on his face that he thought I had returned the dwarf’s affection by accepting the gift. He did not throw me a rope to climb up the vine-choked wall of the inn, and I did not want to yell up to explain the misunderstanding, so I attempted to scale the wall myself— and was blinded by pain. I apparently went back into the inn, sat back down with Rosorc, and drank myself unconscious, but I don’t remember it.

I became conscious hours later, on a bed in a room that I did not recognize, but alone. Right then, a tray was delivered to the room, with breakfast, more roses, and a note saying “With thanks for a divine evening— Ro.” What had I done? I now noticed that I was absolutely covered in little puncture wounds on my hands and arms (all that I could see at the moment), though it was obvious that most had been tended to. With a feeling of uncertainty that I’m not used to, I snuck down to the baths to clean the wounds and clear my head.

I sat there for an hour before one of my companions came looking for me. Deitricha, without Tassar, came into the room where my bath was. Determined to hide my shame, I let myself sink to the bottom of the basin, hoping she’d think I’d left, but she spotted me and hauled me out. There was no way I could hide the wounds from her, so I unburdened myself with what I assumed I had done the night before. She laughed when I told her that I’d stuck myself on Rosorc’s spiked armor during a romance I could not remember, and assured me that I’d cut myself to ribbons trying to climb to my bedchamber up a wall covered in razorvine. Relieved that I hadn’t broken my promise to Areon, but sad that I had likely ruined my friendship with Rosorc, I put the mithril chain around my neck instead— a reminder of a good comrade if nothing else. Deitricha assured me that I had told Rosorc that, “elves and dwarves don’t mix,” though he may have believed me to be referring to the two types of spirits I’d drunk together the prior night before sliding unconscious under our table.

I was unable to make eye contact with any of our friends (though Tassar winked at me, I swear!), as we went back to the Office of the Portal Registry. Another clerk called Gelvik attended us, but thankfully had looked over our paperwork and found a portal to our home. There was only one active portal they could find, and it only opened once every 32 days. Today was the day, so we didn’t have time to spare. We needed a black rose to activate it, and, unfortunately, it was in the catacombs below the Hive district— near where we’d arrived. The portal was accessible because apparently the stewards of the city had moved a wall, thereby allowing traffic to it. Rosorc was able to obtain a black rose quickly enough, and with a lightboy named Bob to guide us, we rushed off to the Hive.

Bob stopped short of a hole in a wall near where three white-haired, blue humanoids floated, hammering away and making repairs to the structure. The boy pointed to the stairs down, indicating we were on our own from this point on. We made our way quickly, not yet having to choose a fork, for the path was fairly direct, when suddenly we saw four shapes shambling towards us. Zombies— this time without ads! Rosorc ran forward to hack two to pieces, while I shot one and Tassar slew another— had the passage been wider, my other comrades would have been able to better fight them as well. Strangely, I find comfort in fighting undead— it is the one thing I’ve done so far today that I am sure is right for my friends.

Posted by Kristin at 02:10 | Theona’s Journal

A chance to rest…

Tassar's Journal

After a bit of wandering through this odd town, by the way, how do they know what is down town, if every part is down from another? I was concerning my time with helping Deitricha who had become greatly bothered by the city. I held her hand and kept telling her not to look up. I think it was too much of challenge to her senses though.

Me, I found this place amazing. If I didn’t know better, I would say it was built by a quirky Gnome named Eldrek, or Gadgets as my father called him. Gadgets seemed to make everything upside down. Not that his creations didn’t work proper, they just seemed completely built upside down. Well, Gadgets was a fine person indeed, and I would sneak over to visit him some nights. He had things that had lights and whistles and moved in so many odd ways. He would always show me his newest attempts, then we would sit down and share some of his finest Gnomish weed. Come to think of it, maybe that is why I always snuck over to visit him.

Well, the party tried to lead us to an inn. It took a while, but eventually we found a signpost. Now, I had to try my hardest to look disgusted by it, but inside, I was laughing my guts out. In this strange place, which I have yet to hear a name for, hmm… I will call it Gadgets. Well here in Gadgets they make signposts out of mummies. Deitricha wanted to stomp it out of existence; I did my best to hold her back. After all, how could let her destroy a part of Gadgets, especially a part that was so odd it would seem if old Gadgets made it personally. Eventually two of the party went to read the thing, I was quite busy holding Deitricha back, and they found directions to a nice inn. Here is the kicker; I looked up in time to see the mummy point out the direction to go. I love this place.

The pointing was all she could take; I think we moved on just to calm Deitricha down more than to find the inn. We took a path that we thought most promising and passed many, many, many more oddities. Gadgets is a great place!

Finally we found an inn and the ladies were exited to find that it had baths. I followed Deitricha in to one room and did my best to clean her clothes and items for her, between getting her new bars of soap. She was trying to rub her skin off to get the feeling of blood off of her. I had to keep telling her that it was all gone, but she continued to clean. Eventually I cleaned up too, although I don’t take the pleasure in a bath as humans seem too. I have heard that elves are worse, but I have never seen that in person. I can only imagine the Dwarf, Rosorc, is probably trying to rub some foundry dust into his skin rather than rub it out.

Well, Areon had purchased the rooms and we got some food and went up to get some rest. The inn was very nice; I think it may be the nicest inn I have ever been in. The food! Oh, blessed by the gods in my opinion. Yes, it was the finest meal, seconds and thirds, which I have ever had. For a while I think my mind was wandering, we had all gone to some places to find a portal, which meant we needed to negotiate and fill out forms. Now, why any society needs so much paperwork I can’t imagine. I let my mind wander most of the day, well maybe the entire day.

To me, it felt as if I have changed a little, as if Tempus is smiling upon me. I feel energized and maybe even a little bit hardened by the trip to the Nine Hells. Perhaps Tempus is showing me that I don’t have to kill every foe I meet. Or maybe he is happy that I have survived the trip. I don’t know, but I do feel … stronger.

I think we were at a market; I was just enjoying my company and the wonderful city of Gadgets. The rest of the party seemed to be having a good time. I noticed for some reason, that Rosorc kept looking at Theona. If I didn’t know better I would think he was in love. But, he is a Dwarf, how do they show love? Do they hit their prospective mate with a hammer? Do they five them an Orc head? I have to admit that this will be very curious to witness. Oh, I almost forgot, Areon likes her too. This will be good.

Finally we were back at the inn, Areon had told me the name of the place, but to me it is still Gadgets. After another night of a comfortable bed, in which I am ashamed to admit I really enjoyed, I got up early to get some breakfast. I have to get up early; it takes a little time to get some breakfast in before the party usually gets up to join me, for more breakfast. Today I found Rosorc already eating. He called me over for some food and a talk. I could see by his uncomfortable body motion that he wanting to talk about some personal thoughts. Now first Dwarves don’t talk about their personal feelings to anyone, and having a guess of what the talk would be about, I was more amazed that he wanted to talk to me.

If you don’t know, Dwarves in particular are the most mischievous race in all the Realms. I didn’t know that until I moved to Silverymoon, where I met many a Dwarf. Now what a Dwarf does is plays games with others. Their favorite game is to play stupid. Oh the joys I have witnessed watching a Dwarf in a bar. For instance, one may come up to the bar and take someone’s ale, drink it down in one gulp, and wander away as if it was no big deal. Usually it is done to humans for humans think themselves so smart. Well, after a bit of astonishment passes and the human realizes that someone drank his ale, he will get up and confront the Dwarf. Now the Dwarf first will act like he does not know what the human is talking about. And let me tell you, a Dwarf can keep a straight face. And if the human makes a strong enough case for the deed, the Dwarf will change his method to looking confused and telling the human that it was either his ale to drink, or better yet, he will tell the human that he had offered it to the Dwarf. After a while the human gets tired of beating his head against a stone wall or believes the Dwarf. In any way it goes, the Dwarf always gets the drink for free and the human is convinced that the Dwarf is the stupid one.

Now knowing this, it was time to play a game on a Dwarf. After all, they think themselves smarter than anyone else. So when Rosorc asked how Deitricha and I get along, I smiled greatly and made some mentions of how to be in the right position of to use leverage. After his initial shock wore off, he stopped me and stated that he meant since we were of different races. With an even bigger smile I started to explain that all the races in our realm seem to have ‘boy parts and girl parts.’ And before he could stop me again I began the stupid birds and the bees speech my father gave to me. I was having so much fun; I thought I might stain my shorts.

Rosorc stopped me again and with a quite a bit of effort to ask me in unmistakable terms how it was for me to date a person of another race, in the way of personal feelings and if it was strange to be with one that was different from myself. It was hard to not laugh out with all of my being, but by some means I kept a straight face. I then began to tell him how to protect a person of another race in battle. Always making sure not to mention Theona’s name, instead I used “loved one of another race and other gender.” Each time I used the “other gender” phrase he seemed to wince, I was not saying that his hammer swung the other way, no just picking on him. For in all of his trouble he never mentioned that it was a woman that he was interested in. Oh, the looks on his face that day will stay with me forever.

Eventually he was saved from more confusion as other members of our party started filtering in to get some breakfast. Deitricha was the only one to notice my smile, I told her that I would tell her later. And I did, when no one was around to hear her laughter, she nearly fell to the ground when I explained the looks the Rosorc was giving me.

After some more breakfast we headed out to finish the paperwork. Some time, which I had little concept to the time in this place, we finally got directions. I was pleased to have a feeling of direction or goal. We went to the market again to find a black rose for the portal. I wonder if it just had to be a black thing, like the orb I carried. That is still bothering me too.

Anyway, blessed Tempus was upon us for he gave us a chance for a little battle before we leave. A couple of meager undead. Not a real challenge, but it got our muscles into use, and that felt good.

Posted by Jim at 11:10 | Tassar’s Journal

April 11, 2004

Maybe Another Time

William's Journal

The City of Doors is a strange place indeed. Maybe another time I would have enjoyed exploring it, but we have horses we need to get back and there’s a portal to Hell we need to close.

We eventually found an inn, bathed, slepted, and gathered enough information to find a way out. Right now we just finished killing more undead. Killing undead... that always makes me smile a little. Providing a few zombies are all we have to deal with, then Lathander willing, we shall be home by night fall.

Posted by Fred at 02:36 | William’s Journal

Silver Chain and Red Tape

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 29, 1373, The City of Doors

Rosorc started heading up the street in search of an inn, and the rest of us quickly fell into step with him. We came upon a building that had a bed crudely drawn on the sign, and when we poked our heads in we saw rows of beds lining the walls. It looked worse than any normal common room, and we decided that it would be best not to stay in such a run down (and smelly) place.

We headed back out and up the curving street. Shortly after, a gnome offered help to William for finding an inn, which was several “alleys” over. We convinced William that we could probably find our way on our own, and left without taking any help from the gnome.

We did note a huge black spider-shaped building, and though I was not sure, it looked to me like a building that would be dedicated to Lolth. I was not exactly interested in heading that way, and neither was the rest of the group, so we headed away from the building.

Shortly after we left the gnome, we came upon a horrific sight: A zombie standing in the middle of the street. Theona and Rosorc decided that they would inspect it, but I did not want to get to close. The zombie was covered in tons of papers, just nailed or stapled to its rotting flesh. Theona said that most of them were just notices. It appears that the zombie was a bulletin board. While we were standing near it, someone said ‘I wonder where we could find an in,’ and the zombie pointed back in the direction we came. We then asked it where we could find a nice inn. It pointed up. This led me to notice the strangest thing about this city.

I looked up and saw above us…rooftops. It was almost like I was looking up into a mirror through the fog. I could tell that they were not the same buildings, however, as even from the distance (up?) I could tell they were nicer. I am guessing (because of the upward curve that we were walking on) that we are in a city that is in the middle of a ring.

When Deitricha realized how we were situated, she began to freak out. I suggested that she hang on to someone else and not look towards the center of the ring. So Deitricha held on to different people in the party (depending on who she was closest too). Theona also helped out by passing around a flask of ale.

Once Tassar had finished the ale he threw the empty flask at a drunk, who was calling for a swig from a nearby alley.

Our travels took us out of the grimy slums and into an industrial area, and after a short while, into nicer surroundings all together. We found an inn with baths available (called “The Alabaster Mermaid”), for we were all still covered in blood from the Hells, save Tassar, who had been carried over most of them.

I knew we all really wanted to get cleaned up, so I paid for our baths. Theona took a room to herself, Rosorc and William took one and Deitricha and Tassar bolted into the other. I had no intention of crowding in with Rosorc and William; I figured Deitricha and Tassar were doing something private, and I figured Theona would have been offended had I invaded her privacy, so I waited for one of the available baths to clear out before I went in to clean myself up.

After I had I returned to the main inn, where we bought dinners and picked at each others’ meals trying the food that were popular to this plane of existence. I was feeling a little beat, and I wanted some time to think, I paid for rooms so that each of us had a place to sleep. There were six of us and each room could fit two of us, so I got three rooms, assuming that we were comfortable enough with each other to share rooms. I guess that fighting to keep each other alive isn’t a companionship builder, as I heard some grumbles about room sharing. But if no one like it they can just buy their own rooms. I am more comfortable when not in and inn anyway....

Not long after I had retired to my room, Theona came in and asked me if I would mind splitting up the coin that we had found before we bounced ourselves into Hell. I agreed and we did, then I returned back to the same room. I was surprised to see Theona come in once again, but when she dropped her stuff and hopped onto one of the beds, I realized that she had chosen to stay in the same room as me.

We spent a few minutes talking, and decided that we should go out and sell the magical items we had acquired after we had rested, since our rest took little time compared to our companions. We rested, and left early; it was still dim outside when we left the in. Theona left a note with the clerk at the front desk, so that our companions would know where we had gone.

The market place was entirely to crowded for my liking, but Theona passed through it like a deer through the brush of the Cold Wood. We managed to sell everything we had intended too, getting hopefully exactly what it was worth.

As we were heading out of the market I saw a small blue cat for sale in a cage entirely too small for it. When I took a closer look I realized it was a tressym, a winged cat which has an amazing intelligence. I knew immediately that it shouldn’t be trapped the way it was, so I drug Theona over to the stand and bought the animal. After I bought it I let it out of the cage and tried to cast a spell that would allow me to talk to it.

My father told me that once I was powerful enough, I would be able to cast a few simple spells that would make my travels as a ranger easier. I thought that it would be a good time to try, and I did. I wasn’t sure that it would work, and the tressym just stared at me for a moment. Then I felt a little different, like I had something I wanted to say even though I did not have any idea what I should be saying to a tressym. Then she spread her wings and said, “This feels so much better to be able to spread my wings. Thank you!”

I realized that my spell had indeed worked, not sure how long I had left I asked the tressym if she had a name. She said that she didn’t, so I told her that I would need to think about it, but I would give her a name.

I also remember my father telling me that once I could cast spells I would also be able to ask an animal to become a companion of mine. He told me that the animal would be bound to me by divine power, and it would be able to help my work, whether as a scout or a protector.

There was something about the animal that I found amazing to me. I know that I am partial to cats; my mother has a small black housecat that she named Kismet, and my father has a panther that he named Malnamé. But this cat had wings and was blue, not black like either of my parents’ cats or even a normal color for the woods. But all the same, I felt that I wanted this cat to be with me for more than just a few days, until I could return it to a more normal home.

I asked the tressym if it would like to be my companion, and to my amazement she decided that it wished to be. I know she was very happy to be free of the cage that was entirely too small, and she was probably free of a horrible fate also (seeing as the sign on the cage said “Tressym: the next best thing to chicken!”), but I wasn’t sure she would make that kind of commitment to someone who she had just met.

We returned to “The Alabaster Mermaid” and collected the rest of our friends, who were now up and about. After we ate a quick breakfast we gave everyone a share of their loot, we headed back to the market for yet more spending! After an hour or so, everyone had bought what they wanted.

We then left the market and headed for the clerk ward in search of the Hall of Records, so maybe we could find a portal out of this town and back home. The clerk at the Hall of Records directed us to the Hall of Information. The clerk at the Hall of Information, directed us to the Office of Portal Registry, and the clerk in the office, a human named Marxel, gave us a huge stack of papers to fill out.

I set to work on that, with Deitricha reading over my shoulder and helping me to answer the questions. I finally got finished and turned in the paperwork, paying the five gold processing fees, and the clerk informed me that they had closed and we should come back the next day.

I admit I had spent most of the time playing with my new friend, who I had decided to name Nianque. But Theona and I had been sticking together most of the time since we had arrived in this strange city. On our way back, I saw the young boy coming with flowers, and I knew something odd was going on…

He called her “Lady Theona” and gave her a bundle of roses with a mithril chain wrapped around them. She looked at me as if I had gotten them for her and showed me the card. “…from a friend…” I know we were both looking at each other very oddly. She was looking oddly at me because she thought I had gotten the flowers for her, and I was looking at her oddly because I couldn’t figure out who would want to give Theona flowers. Then Rosorc was there, braiding the chain into Theona’s hair. Well, I realized who sent the flowers, much to both of our amazement. Theona seemed upset, and I think that she made an impression on Rosorc that she had not intended to.

We returned to the inn, and Rosorc invited Theona to have dinner with him. I recognized that he intended to have dinner alone with her, so I paid for another night in my room and went up to rest. I was happy to have the time alone as well, as spending so much time without seeing any nature is kind of depressing.

Not long after I had been in my room I heard something small hit the window. Then I heard it again. The noise continued I ignored it at first, until I realized that it had to be someone trying to get my attention. I went and opened the window…which oddly enough had little splatters of blood all over it. I opened it, expecting a prank, and down below was Theona. I could see her hands and forearms were covered with blood, and I realized that the vine that covered the walls was a security device as well as a decoration.

She asked me for help with Rosorc, though I still don’t know why. She is far more intelligent than I am, and she is the one who deals with people all the time, not me. I told her that I didn’t know what kind of help I could be, and she left the alley, even more upset than she had come into it.

She never returned to the room, and I guessed that she must have decided to sleep in her own room this night. I hope she is not angry at me, but I don’t know how to deal with people. I suppose I might have been able to deal with a wolf, but then again, I’m sure she could have too, as it wouldn’t have been romantically interested in her.

I tried not to think about it too much, though I did leave the window open so that Nianque could get in and out. I don’t want her to make a mess inn the room! But I had an uneventful night, and the next morning went down and waited for everyone to assemble so we could return to the Office of Portal Registry, and hopefully get home.

Everyone but Theona had met up, and we began to wonder where she might be. Deitricha decided that she would go find her and after a little while, she returned with Theona, who looked very upset.

We headed back to the Office of Portal Registry, and were greeted by a different clerk, this time not a human. I was worried that we would be filling out paperwork once again, but he managed to find the file we had filled out the day before and gave us the information about a portal that would take us back to Silverymoon or to Toril at the very least. It was an intermittent portal, and only worked every 32 days. Of course, today was the day it was working, so we had to hurry! We also found out that we would need a black rose to make it work, and Rosorc said he knew of a place where we could find one.

We hired a boy named Bob to guide us to the portal which was in the Hive district. Rosorc got a black rose and handed two red roses to Theona, who blushed, and looked very upset, though she did not say anything. I wanted to say something to get her to smile, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I don’t know that she really wants to talk to me though, after the way I treated her last night. She has not said anything to me today. Actually, she hasn’t even looked at me. I hope I can do something to make up for last night.

Bob stopped near a hole in a wall, and said that he dared not go any further, we thanked him and headed down into the depths. This place still has not made me any happier. It is less crowded, but there is not any open space.

After a few minutes of following the twisting tunnels, we came upon four zombies that had no paper attached to them, nor did they seem to have any interest in giving directions. Rosorc charged two that were further away, but two moved forward to block the rest of us from moving out of the narrow hallway we were in.

Tassar attacked one of the zombies, and I fired two arrows at it, though only one of them hit. Tassar finished it off and managed to get out of the way enough that I could pull my greatsword and help him in melee. We quickly killed the other blocking our way, and discovered that Rosorc had killed two others clearing the room of enemies.

I was sure that we would be facing more before we found the portal, and hopefully we would be able to make it out in time….

Posted by Tim at 18:31 | Areon’s Journal

April 14, 2004

Shiver Down the Spine

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 30, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold

It seemed there was no end the undead attacking us. We walked a few paces, into an area filled with stone crypts, and were attacked again. I’ve discovered that, in spite of our great aim, Areon and I don’t do too much damage to the shambling corpses we shoot— Deitricha seems to be able to use her divine power to disintegrate them, and Rosorc and Tassar are quite fond of walking right up to undead and hacking them in half. Of course, that only works if they are corporeal. William is fairly sensible for a mage, and doesn’t run right up and poke at them, using ranged spells instead.

Even though there was only one black rose amongst us, and we were constrained for time, our group immediately split up when we discovered that some of the empty tombs contained coin. Tassar ran off one way, Rosorc ran off another way, Deitricha and William stayed in the larger chamber where we’d just fought. Moments later, I could hear what sounded like looting coming from the direction Tassar had gone— he’d apparently found a rather nifty-looking dagger and some coin. Areon walked about 20’ away from where that skirmish had been and called me over, apparently to check out some open sarcophagi in a side chamber. I walked in and began to dig around without saying anything, finding a few coins, when I realized Areon was just standing there looking at me like he had something to say. In fact, he got as far as, “Theona, I need to tell you…” when we heard a shriek from (or because of) the halfling, as Tassar engaged some manner of creature in a far section of the catacombs. With a promise to talk later, Areon ran to Tassar’s aid. I was about to follow him when I heard a cry from Rosorc— without thinking, I ran headlong into the dark— Areon was holding the torch! I am lucky that I carry a moon mote with me, and used that for enough light to get to the dwarf, who was now fighting for his life against two shadowy things. William arrived just a few seconds after I did, with a better light source, in time for us to see Rosorc’s weapon pass right through a shadow, and then the shadow pass right through Rosorc’s armor, weakening him. I shouted for Deitricha as loudly as I could.

Right at that moment, I had the most horrible, sickening feeling pass through me and I knew Areon was in trouble. Just as Deitricha arrived, I shouted “undead” and turned to run off towards where I sensed Areon was. As I did so, Rosorc grabbed my arm and handed me a scroll— I stuffed it into my pack, planning to look at it later, and ran faster than I ever have.

I found Tassar and Areon in the doorway of a room that contained what looked like several bat-winged, severed heads, each with a long tongue, flying back and forth just out of reach. Areon seemed to be frozen in place with his eyes wide open, with Tassar beating the creatures away from him. Luckily Tassar outguessed the grisly creatures’ moves and hacked them down before they could do more damage to Areon. I quickly told Tassar of the situation further into the catacombs, and that I’d keep Areon safe until he snapped out of the paralyzing affects of the flying creatures. Oddly, Tassar winked at me as he sped off.

Well, Areon and I were alone again, but he wasn’t moving. While I was trying to decide whether to drag him somewhere slightly safer (if there was such a place here!), I heard Tassar yelling at some more undead creatures that he’d disturbed. I could look down the hall far enough to see that zombies where shuffling towards him from a few directions. I tried to prevent one from getting behind him with a well-placed bolt, but only succeeded in redirecting its attention to me. I walked backwards, continuing to shoot bolts into the undead thing, always keeping my own body between Areon and the zombie. After five or six bolts, it was beginning to succumb to the damage, but by then I had backed right into Areon’s chest. Luckily, his immobility had just worn off, and he was able to reach past me and finish it off with his sword. As the corpse landed at our feet, Deitricha ran up behind it, and we learned that Rosorc had found the portal using the black rose (and, apparently, our comrades had finished off the remaining undead). My only regret now was that no one wanted to stay and finish checking the now-empty sepulchers for valuables that zombies don’t need. Areon must have sensed my hesitation, as he grabbed my hand and pulled me through the shimmering portal with him.

We found ourselves standing in a long, dusty, stone corridor about 30’ wide. Areon (still holding my hand, I noticed) and I wanted to try the double doors that were within a few feet of where the portal had dropped us, in case they led outside, but Tassar was already running in the opposite direction. We studied the walls, which were carved with a mountain motif, until curiosity got the better of us and we followed the halfling.

The dwarven stonework, which is what we determined we were looking at, must be several millennia old— at least 3000 years. With Deitricha’s knowledge of history and Rosorc’s of, well, dwarves, we determined that we were in a hold of the Delzoun dwarves that had been lost to history, and that we were somewhere in the Spine of the World. We weren’t terribly far from where we’d hoped the portal would lead to, though our arrival in this place was somewhat surprising— the few footprints in the dust led me to believe that we’d taken a portal that wasn’t all that popular.

Somehow, the stately halls of the long-departed dwarven clan are more oppressive to me than natural tunnels are, but at least we don’t have to walk single file here. We wandered past what looked like a garden of rocks, with ten chambers leading off from it, each one with a bit of story depicting a dwarven hero, or a dwarven god, such as Berronar Truesilver. I think Rosorc finished looking through a few more of them for the stories contained therein, but I gave up and found a spot to sit until my comrades where done exploring. We’d found a second set of double doors, but decided to wait until after we’d all rested to explore further. Areon had determined the few faint prints we’d noticed were from orcish war boots, but thankfully, we hadn’t seen any orcs.

I had offered to take third watch during our rest period, after Tassar and Rosorc had each taken one. I sat down to relieve Rosorc, and suddenly remembered I still hadn’t looked over that scroll he gave me. I waited until he was settled in and read it:

My Dearest Lady Theona,

Your every whim holds me bound in rapture. I am struck beyond return. From your dimples, to your wry upturned smile, your beautiful long flowing hair, your wit and intellect that seems to have no bounds, I am mesmerized and transfixed. Truly I don’t now what I can do. My waking moments are consumed with seeing you happy and just being there in your life.

My inner being cries for me to share the beauty and joy gifted to me by the mountains. To hold your hand, to stroke your cheek, to sing the sweet joys of life, to grow old in your arms. The well of this dwarf’s heart runs deep indeed. Strong and pure, undaunted and open, for all to see.

I have prayed long and hard to Clangeddin as to what I should do. He has sent me signs that the mountains do not lie. My heart is bound to you. It may not be probable that your feelings will ever change, but it is written in the great halls that I must and will be there, if or when they do.

Caring and loving from a distance, I will not hide my feelings. Nor shall I push too hard. I shall be there; your rock of security in life’s darkest storms.

My Lady, I ask you this one boon. I bid you always wear your chain as I shall always wear mine. Bound in destiny under the mountains, somewhere is written our love truly belongs.

Always Yours,


Oh. I am quite confused. I know very little of the dwarven ways, but I assumed when I put the chain around my neck, it meant no more or less than when I would use the silver mug given to me by Antonio, or food given to me by Tassar. I suppose each race is different, but then, that is one of the main points I had originally tried to make!

I just sat for a while, trying to absorb what I read. Either I was doing a very bad job of keeping watch, or Areon is very good at moving quietly— I nearly jumped as I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Areon sat down beside me, and, whispering in Sylvan, said, “I did not mean to be as callous as I was last night. You are one of the best friends I have ever had and I would gladly trudge through the Hells with you again. I did not see anyway that I would be able to deal with Rosorc better than you. You are the one who always is dealing with people. I just assumed that you would be able to deal with him just as everyone else. I am sorry that I brushed you off the way I did.”

I could tell that he was struggling with several other thoughts that he seemed unable to express, but I was actually relieved that he was as confused about the whole thing as I was. I still need and value his advice though, so I decided to show him the note Rosorc had given me, knowing he’d keep it to himself, and, if possible, help me deal with it without hurting the dwarf’s feelings.

He was quiet about that for a while, and then, finally suggested that I simply not wear the chain, for fear that it would lead Rosorc to think I returned his affection in any measure. As pretty as it is, I am inclined to agree with him. I wrapped the chain around the handle of the monogrammed silver tankard I carry, as a reminder of two of my favorite “drinking buddies” and placed them in my backpack.

Almost on queue, I heard a rumbling and Tassar stood up from his bedroll— the rumbling being his stomach reminding him it had been several hours since he’d eaten. It is a good thing his stomach is so reliable; since we can’t see the sun come up we have no other way of knowing what time it is!

After a bit of breakfast, we gathered up our gear and pushed through the nearest set of double doors. Tassar and Rosorc hurried on ahead, leaving me to see if they sprung a trap, apparently. We entered a great hall, 50’ wide, with 30’ high vaulted ceilings, surrounded by balconies still hanging with ancient tapestries— war banners, according to Rosorc. They appeared to be family crests of long-dead houses. Rosorc told us that this hall is much larger than the great hall of Citadel Adbar, but even in this grand space, I could still feel the weight of the mountain bearing down on us. Areon pointed out that the orc tracks in this area looked more recent.

There were even more doors leading out of the grand hall. The first few rooms we checked either stood empty or contained dilapidated furniture, but the fifth one we opened revealed a passage with a light at the far end. Tassar, with Rosorc right behind, ran ahead of us and burst in to the room at the end of the hall— a room filled with orcs.

Posted by Kristin at 16:54 | Theona’s Journal

April 16, 2004

We've Found Something...

William's Journal

We dispatched those zombies a little too easily and I soon found out why. The party split up and I followed Rosorc figuring he’d be the safest bet. He checked a room while I waited in the hall. Shortly after he vanished from view I heard a noise off to the one side and Rosorc holler for help in another direction. He was closer so I went to see what was happening only to find him fighting what looked like a shadowy thing. I attempted to help, and then Theona appeared cast some light then ran off to get everyone else. I didn’t know it at the time, but they had problems of their own they were dealing with. Eventually Deitricha came and somehow made Rosorc’s waraxe a magical weapon. He was able to finish off the shadowy things and that’s when I saw a light off in the distance. Tassar was fighting something but I couldn’t make out what it was. The three of us immediately went to help. It was more zombies and some other undead with a bit more intelligence in their eyes. It was an interesting but short battle ending with Rosorc telling us that the black rose was glowing. As Rosorc was attempting to find which way the portal was it opened right before us in swirling colors. Something cold touched me at that point and I felt very weak, so I quickly jumped through the portal…

and into a hall. Everyone else slowly appeared as if out of nowhere. Rosorc mentioned the dwarven architecture ad so I asked if he knew where we were. He didn’t and so Areon and Tassar both scouted. We ended up following Tassar down to a small room with writing on the wall. Rosorc read aloud the history of this place. The story ended up being spread across 4 rooms. I know we’re in our home world now, but not to sure exactly where. It was mentioned about resting here and so we did. A good night’s sleep did help to clear my head a little and with the healing Deitricha had given me I have most of my strength now. In the morning we explored a bit. Rosorc was beaming with pride when we found a large room with banners of different dwarven families hanging on the walls. We looked down a side door and started searching the smaller rooms. Tassar ran ahead as he often does and when I saw him toss his torch back I knew he found something. Now we’re going to see what.

Posted by Fred at 03:16 | William’s Journal

Once Lost, Once Found

Rosorc's Journal

Walking around the first corner into the next room, we met the onslaught of another pile of undead beings. Quickly, I manuvered myself to cover Theona’s back while still charging the closest zombie available. Two quick swings and I was on to the next. Nothing like a good fight to displace all of the thoughts rolling through my head.

Realizing Theona, William, and Areon were doing little damage to the zombies, I whirled as I dropped the next one. Lowering my visor I heard the song of battle rage in my head. A song, no, a good song, one that this dwarf is used to. Swinging my axe with cold and methodical precision, I helped my friends in need.

As a new batch of undead charged out of the catacombs, Deitricha hollered to her god and turned a large part of them. After they crumbled to dust, all that was left were a few friends Tassar was playing with at the far end of the chamber. Still charged with the lust for battle, I helped put his wanna-be comrades to rest for good.

Room clear of any acting foes, I pulled my visor up, glancing for my Lady Theona. Somehow, through all of the commotion, she wound up next to Areon. Now I am not the brightest dwarf but I have to think that something is up. Ever since Theona and my wonderful night of dinner, it seems like the only one getting closer to her is Areon.

Brushing off any such thoughts I started listening to the others. Every one was scrambling about looking for loot. Concerned about finding the portal in time, I pulled out the rose and waved it around the room. Definitely no portals, here. Placing it back safely behind my shield, I started to explore the catacombs myself.

I wandered down a short hall, hearing the voices of my friends still echoing here and there. Not having a torch didn’t bother me. Being a dwarf, it was a non-issue, or so I thought. Not seeing anything of the portal in this room, I wandered into the next. My friends’ voices were moving the other way. Seems Tassar was in some sort of trouble. Their voices seemed to be coming from both ways, in front of and behind me. So, I chose to run forward to help. I figured I could search for the portal along the way.

As I ran forward to help Tassar I ran into two very cold and shadowy forms. They immediately closed to attack. Dropping my visor, I swung my axe. The only reward for my effort was a clean pass right through the nearest being. Then they were on me.

I must have screamed as they both touched me the first time. A chilling burst of energy sapped the strength right out of my chest. Their damned hands passed right through my armour. My legs buckled momentarily. Then I stepped back and swung my axe again. The same nonsense. My axe passed right through, not even fazing my foe.

Now I knew I was in trouble. I backed to the wall and fished an oil flask out of my pouch. At this point, I heard William’s and Theona’s voices coming up the hall. I threw the oil flask in the shadowy figures’ general direction and shattered it on the floor. Remembering the ploy William and I had used once before, I called for him to use his burning hands spell. He let loose but it didn’t seem to affect either creature. On top of which, it missed the oil.

A low light came from the hallway. Then Theona was there with a small globe of light in her hand. Her beauty shone even in the low light. Not wanting her to know I was in trouble, and fearing for my very existence, I quickly mumbled something about Tassar needing her and tossed her a scroll I told her I had found in the catacombs. Now this was no ordinary scroll. It was a well penned letter from myself to her with all that I felt for her......

My Dearest Lady Theona,

Your every whim holds me bound in rapture. I am struck beyond return. From your dimples, to your wry upturned smile, your beautiful long flowing hair, your wit and intellect that seems to have no bounds, I am mesmerized and transfixed. Truly I don’t now what I can do. My waking moments are consumed with seeing you happy and just being there in your life.

My inner being cries for me to share the beauty and joy gifted to me by the mountains. To hold your hand, to stroke your cheek, to sing the sweet joys of life, to grow old in your arms. The well of this dwarf’s heart runs deep indeed. Strong and pure, undaunted and open, for all to see.

I have prayed long and hard to Clangeddin as to what I should do. He has sent me signs that the mountains do not lie. My heart is bound to you. It may not be probable that your feelings will ever change, but it is written in the great halls that I must and will be there, if or when they do.

Caring and living from a distance, I will not hide my feelings. Nor shall I push too hard. I shall be there; your rock of security in life’s darkest storms.
My Lady, I ask you this one boon. I bid you always wear your chain as I shall always wear mine. Bound in destiny under the mountains, somewhere is written our love truly belongs.

Always Yours,

Believing I was indeed in trouble, I truly wanted her to know how I felt if I succumbed to these foes I seemingly couldn’t hurt. Within in a moment she had turned and was gone. Relieved and stressed at the same time, I braced myself for the beings’ next round of attacks.

That is when I heard Deitricha yell. As she did, one of the figures dropped right into the floor. The other one put what could be its hand right into my chest again, and I dropped to a knee. My breath labored in my chest, and my armour seemed to weigh a ton. I tried to raise my axe but it hung limply in my hands.

Then Deitricha started to mumble, then yell. A wave of strength washed through my body. The cold spots in my chest disappeared. Then my axe began to glow. Not a bright light but a low almost throbbing light. Knowing in some way I should, I swung my axe for all I was worth.

A smile slowly crept across my face as I felt it slowly pass though the creature. Rising up off my knee, for the first time I knew I had struck home. It shuddered and then touched me again. My strength momentarily lapsed. Then Deitricha stepped behind me and started to yell. I don’t know what she was doing but she forced the weakness out of my body as I fought the shadowy figure.

Finally with a great chop I dispersed the being for good. Turning to Deitricha with a greatful smile, I thanked her. Then I turned to run ahead towards where Tassar’s voice was coming from. Seems even from here, I could hear the grunts of battle and the clatter of weapons.

William ran at my side. Both of us encountered the whirling battle at the same time. As I entered the fray I took a quick gouge wound. Somehow the ghoul had found an open spot in one of the joints of my armour. A quick queasy feeling came over me, though my body pushed it off. Axe still glowing with Deitricha’s magic, I quickly put it to work. I dropped one quickly before I heard another yell.

All of the undead dropped to the floor in piles of dust. I knew that Deitricha was the only one in the group with such power, so I looked at her and gave her a quick salute with my axe. She then turned quickly and started inspecting Tassar. Seems he had taken lots of damage in his battles so far. She laid hands upon him and called for the aid of her Goddess, healing up what she could for him. Areon and Theona came down the hall at this point... looking no worse for wear.

I had dropped the black rose at my feet in my last swing. As I bent to pick it up, a large glimmering door appeared in the wall several feet from me. I knew right away that this was what we were looking for. I quickly hollered for everyone to hurry through and that I would buy the first round....Clangeddin be praised I could use a couple of thick and frothies at this point... when we got to an Inn or tavern.

As my companions started to leap through the portal, the shadowy figure Deitricha had driven away returned and charged me. Weapon still glowing I charged right at it. Tassar, quick to seek a fight, was right at my side. As I drew close I hollered for him to go to the portal, that his weapons would be no good on this foe... besides, this one was personal.

I swung once, a mighty blow. Nearly running lengthwise through its corporeal body. After a quick dodge I cleaved it out of existence with my second swing. As I turned in triumph I noticed I was alone. Everyone else was gone. Portal glowing in front of me, I dropped into thought....

In retrospect, I wondered what I was doing here, new companions aside. The old Rosorc would have pushed off all of these trying situations and caught a good buzz at the local Inn. Now, I’m not thinking that I would go dry or anything as ludicrous as that. I realized that some things in life are worth working for. Heck worth working hard for....I really know I just didn’t say that!

My brain buzzing with so many thoughts, I raised the black rose and took a long whiff of its heady fragrance. I thought of my beautiful Theona’s face in that low candle light not so long ago and stepped blindly into the portal.

Opening my eyes, I was almost knocked off my feet. As far as I could see was the most amazing stonework I had ever seen. A thirty foot wide corridor. No visible support pillars. Every part of the walls and ceiling intricately etched. This was a dwarves’ Nirvana. I was so engrossed by my new surroundings, I hadn’t noticed Tassar take off down the hall. Or Theona and Areon take off the other way.

Hearing Tassar yell for me I turned and walked in awe. Reaching the large door he had entered, I followed. A large sitting chamber with a rock garden was inside. This was obviously a holy site. The rocks in the room almost hummed with dwarven power and might. No one else was present in the room, but the rocks obviously remembered times past.

Taking several minutes, I translated a story along the wall. From it I gathered we were in the lost Hold of the Delzoun Dwarves. They had been lost from history over 3,000 years prior. A place that no other dwarf in a long time had tread. I took a quick nip from my flask and then offered thanks to Clangeddin for his favor. I was witnessing what dwarven scholars only dreamed of. I walked through all ten chambers, devouring every story written on every wall. Dwarven heroes’ names and deeds that were only faint myths at home, were commonplace here.

Worn out, we decided to rest. As I was still looking about this glorious place, I said I would take first watch. The time passed uneventfully. I reread some of what was on the walls. After my watch ended I passed out from exhaustion.

Sleep took me but I didn’t rest. I had a dream.. Well what I think was a dream. It was so real. When I awoke I was covered in sweat and shivering to the bone. I quickly jotted down all that I remembered. I will write this out in full, I thought. There is a message here. Not wanting to alarm the others, I kept this to myself.

Already shaken, I rose to see Theona and Areon huddled together. They were whipering back and forth. I saw her hand him my letter. Then, she slowly removed my chain and attached it to a fine silver drinking flask.

I couldn’t believe it. She was ready to show her true feelings. Now she had taken our courtship to the next level. I wonder how she knew dwarven culture so well. That she knew she would have to return the chain to me with a gift to acknowledge us as life partners under the mountain. What was I worrying about? I hope Areon didn’t take it too hard. This Lady Theona is such a wonderful being. How was I blessed to find her.....

Happy as the brewmaster on taste test day, I got myself around. Ate some hard tack and washed it down with some ale. I then sat down and changed the braid in my beard. It was an intricate braid. It was to let all know that this dwarf was spoken for.

After the others rose I didn’t let on to what I had seen. I would wait for the surprise from my lady. Tassar was up, grumbling about food and badgering Deitricha about more privacy. William was talking to Areon about being somewhere around the “spine mountains”.

As I listened, I noticed Tassar must have gotten bored again. He was wandering down the hall with Deitricha in tow. I turned to follow. Shooting Theona a wink and smile, I realized that this would be a great day.

After traveling down a large corridor we came to what had to be the Great Hall. It was huge, making Citadel Adbar seem small by comparison. War banners hung as if they were just placed there yesterday. Tapestries hung with family names and crests. This was getting weird. Just like in my dream... I stopped cold in my tracks. There was a family banner that I knew very well. It hung in my father’s smithy. It was ours. The Ironfeld Crest. What strange tie did I have to this long dead place?

Tassar was asking if I would “mind if we took some of the tapestries for sale later”. Taken out of my suprised stupor I quickly snapped, “No.” That is when we saw them. Orc tracks in the dust. Fresh orc tracks at that.

One thing we all agree on, it is the hatred of orcs. Tassar was almost possessed as he hurried about, running from one room to the next. Knowing his intentions, I tried to keep up. As he ripped open the fifth door I heard him shout with glee. Tearing down the hall, I was quick to follow.

Down the hall was a room filled with orcs. Stinky, smelly, ugly orcs. Defiling, now what I can only assume, what was at one time my forefathers’ home. I was so angered, I stopped feeling the ground beneath me as I charged down the hall....

Posted by Erik at 14:00 | Rosorc’s Journal

April 17, 2004

Tempus will be pleased…

Tassar's Journal

Our battles in the catacombs were just beginning; shambling zombies and ghouls were around almost every corner. At one point we were fighting at every entrance to the room we were in while Deitricha (finally staying behind me) used her holy symbol to turn them to dust. Although Rosorc and I were making sure each other knew how many we had killed. He had the lead, 3 to 2.

After we cleared that room, the party split into different directions to check out the open caskets and to look for more undead to fight. I went to our left, the direction that two ghouls had come from. I found a small alcove with empty caskets, well except for a few coins and a silver dagger, and then the caskets were empty. I worked my way back to the room to check on the party and it seemed that Deitricha was the only one there. Apparently she decided to stay in a central location so she could run to whichever side she was needed.

With no screams or sounds of battle, I decided to continue to search. A search that didn’t take long to find trouble. I re-entered the hall I was just in and went the other direction, when I was halted by what sounded like voices. Now, curiosity got the better of me. I have never heard undead talk, so I went right into the room to check it out without telling anyone I found voices.

Once in the room that had the voices the source became clear as several creatures flew into view. They looked like human sized heads with fangs, long teeth and long tongues. Where ears would or should be, these creatures had what looked like big bat wings attached. Four of them came out me with shrieks that could curdle ale. I yelled back at them and attacked. As I began cutting them down I heard Areon come to help me. Well, at least he tried for the creatures let out another one of the screeches and it apparently had a bad effect on him. When I had the creatures down to two, I took the chance to peer over my shoulder at him and he was standing still. Some kind of fear must have gotten him.

A moment later Theona came into the room as I cut down the last of the creatures. She had a look of confusion on her face as she looked at Areon. I told her ‘not to worry, he was as useful as normal.’ She said that Rosorc and the others needed help and she would stay with Areon, hmm. Ok, I took off toward the direction of the battle sounds, running full speed until I had to duck to keep from losing my head.

Out from behind a corner came another ghoul and several more shuffling undead. With a smile and a call to Tempus I began cutting into them when Rosorc came into the room to help me. He held up four fingers with a proud grin across his face. I gave him a smirk and said six. He gave a short gruffing noise and all but jumped right into the pile of zombies fighting me. We each got one more before Deitricha came in and turned the rest to dust. Rosorc and I just looked at each other and shrugged. How can we have fun if she keeps taking away our foes?

The party came back together and Deitricha (the destroyer of our toys) healed me some with her powers. It seems her deity requires her to give me a small speech each time she heals me also.

Rosorc was telling me about the creatures of shadow they had fought when he noticed his black rose was glowing. He lead us a short distance, lead by the glow of the rose and we found the portal. As we looked at the shimmering glow of the portal, William (yes Rosorc said how well he fought and now he earned a name) went running past us and leaped into the portal. First we stared at each other, wondering what had overcome him, then we noticed that one of the shadow things was back. Rosorc ordered us all to go through the portal. They all went. I stayed with him and tried to use my torch to distract it. With two quick swings he put the beast down. Then together we went through the portal.

On the other side we found our party in a huge hallway. It was obvious we were in a Dwarven stronghold. But the dust on the floor was thick, showing very few have passed this way in a long time. Areon went one way and I went the other. I found many small rooms with what looked like small stone shrines in them. I called the others down to look and Rosorc was in near tears (at the beauty of it for a Dwarf I guess). He claimed it was just dust in his eyes though.

We rested for a while to let the group get some rest and recoup spells. I found out during this time that Deitricha has great aim. You see, each time I looked at Rosorc and Theona I began to snicker, and Deitricha hit me in the back of the head. And later, when I looked at Theona and Areon and snickered, again she smacked me in the back of the head. It really wasn’t fair; she was snickering here and there too.

Well, the next morning did come and we had some breakfast and began to look for what else this place held. We went through some big doors (really big doors) and found a great hall. It must have been really dusty because Rosorc was wiping his eyes a lot.

We then went into one of the small doorways leading off of the great room. We found a small hallway with more doors to the side. Now I tried to be patient, I really did. I thought Rosorc had the right to look at the stuff first, since we came to believe this is a long lost Dwarven stronghold. But the fellow was just too slow. And there were so many doors. And well, no one was looking so I began to scout ahead. At first I just found small rooms that seemed to be personal quarters, then I opened one door to another hallway. This hallway had torches lit and the guttural sounds of Orcs.

Now I know what Rosorc will do if I tell him first that there are Orcs in the other room of this Dwarven place. And I know if I told Areon about a room full of Orcs he would have the same slobbering drool and slobber hanging form his mouth as Rosorc would as he dove into the room of Orcs with reckless abandon. So, seeing how those two will get here eventually, and I can’t let them get all the fun I tossed my torch back into the hall that the party is in. They will figure it out. Then I pulled my sword and dagger and began running. I figure I can get two maybe three before they realize what is going on. The noise should bring my friends.

I was just reaching full speed when I passed out of the hall and into the room. I now notice there is about 20 Orcs in here, all soon to be dead. I pick two with their backs to me and charge in.


Posted by Jim at 12:18 | Tassar’s Journal

Escape to Orc Mountain

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 30, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold

After killing the first four zombies, we moved on into a room lined with stone crypts. Rosorc charged off, hacking into the risen undead bodies. Theona and I tried to use our ranged weapons to take down the zombies, but our arrows and bolts only stuck in them, and did not slow them in the slightest. Deitricha can use divine power very effectively against the undead, fortunately. She cried out to her goddess and the zombies crumbled into dust.

Once the room was cleared, we ended up splitting up and exploring the ruins. I found a sarcophagus with a pile of coins in it. I called Theona over, in hope that I might be ale to talk to her. She came over and began digging through the dust and remains. I know she did not realize that I had intended to talk to her. She stopped and looked at me, obviously confused about why I had called her over.

“Theona,” I said, “I need to tell you about-“

I was cut off by a yelp, and I knew that someone was in trouble. I rushed of telling Theona that we could talk later. I reached Tassar to find him fending off several misshapen heads, which had wings and burning green eyes. I pulled out my sword to strike one, but it let out a gut-wrenching shriek, and I found myself unable to move. Tassar continued to fight the creatures; eventually killing them all before they could harm me in anyway.

Theona soon appeared at my side and directed Tassar to go and help the others fight whatever monsters they were fighting. Tassar ran off, getting the attention of several zombies as he ran. Theona fired off a crossbow bolt and got the attention of the zombie that she hit. It began shambling towards us, and Theona stuck several crossbow bolts into it. She kept herself between the zombie and me, and it was almost on us when I felt strength return to my muscles, and brought my sword around, slicing through the zombie with a satisfying squelch, and dumping it in two pieces on the ground.

Deitricha came into the room and told us that Rosorc had found the portal home. I know that Theona did not want to leave until we had collected any treasure that was in the catacombs. I took her hand and whispered in her ear, “Our friends need us more than any treasure.” She reluctantly gave in and we heading to the portal and stepped through.

We found ourselves standing in a large hall. Dwarven stonework filled the halls and I could see Rosorc reading the walls in awe. Apparently the dwarf misses his home; I am sure I saw him tear up as he read the stories.

Rosorc thought that we were in a lost hall of the dwarves, and as we explored further, we determined that it indeed was. Family banner adorned the walls. Rosorc read stories that he said were merely legend in his home.

We thought that the fortress had fallen to Orcs, as I found some faint tracks of orcish war boots. It worried me that there were orcs in the halls, because if a random orc patrol found us, the whole mountain of orcs would come down on us.

After a while we all tired of exploring the ruins and decided to rest. Rosorc took the first watch and Theona volunteered for the last. I stayed near her while she was meditating, which drew repeated glares from Rosorc, though I have no understanding of why.

I meditated during the second watch, and when I had finished, I quietly walked over to Theona to have the conversation that I had promised her. I quietly crossed to her and sat down. I explained to her that I did not mean to be as callous as I was the night before. I had assumed that Theona would be able to deal with Rosorc better than I would ever be able to. Apparently I was wrong.

Theona accepted my apology, and showed me a scroll that Rosorc had given her. It was a love letter. Then she asked me what I thought she should do. I told her that wearing the mithral chain probably meant something important, and that perhaps she shouldn’t wear it.

She took the chain out of her hair and wrapped it around one of the silver mugs. Then I noticed that the mug did not have her name on it. My name was on the mug!!

Theona just smirked and tucked it back into her pack.

I returned to my gear and found the mug in it. I was sure of the name before I even saw it. Theona Galanodel.

I wonder what that means....

Tassar got up soon after I had put my gear back into my backpack. After a quick breakfast, we headed through the mountain halls. After a few rooms Tassar through open the doors to a room filled with orcs. Tassar charged forward with Rosorc in tow, screaming battle cries through the halls...

Posted by Tim at 23:34 | Areon’s Journal

April 20, 2004

Good news, bad news

Deitricha's Journal

Finished with killing the zombies, we took a deep breath and looked about. Tassar walked down one of several hallways and immediately called out to us that he had things under control. This caused us to abandon our other searches and chase after him. Bless him, he’s figured out how to get our attention - no monsters to fight, but he had found the real catacombs! Theona set to checking the closed stone coffins, Rosorc paced the perimeter, holding the black rose, and I stood in the middle, watching the multiple exits; it didn’t take long for me to see movement in four!

Several zombies and at least one ghoul met our attacks. Arrows, lightning bolts, and my staff struck the creatures. Theona and I soon decided that I ought to ignore the prohibition against magic (which from the lightning bolts, William had been ignoring for some time), and I turned several to dust. Thank Tymora it was successful! Perhaps defending yourself from attack is tolerated. Unfortunately, several of the things remained, and we fought on. I noticed Tassar in trouble, even as William walked up next to me and cast magic missiles into Tassar’s foe. Go, William! Still, as Tassar was wildly missing, I decided to turn the mass again. More crumbled, leaving Tassar and William with just one zombie to argue over killing. We left it to Tassar, who decided to make us another torch. I was just glad he was all right!

Rosorc headed off into the darkness, soon telling us he’d found sarcophagi; William headed another way and found broken-open crypts, which Theona went to check, and soon, everyone was agan spread out, walking down hallways while I stayed in the main room, listening for trouble. Soon enough, Tassar shouted, “Tempus!!”; I told the others and started to run after him. I could hear an awful shrieking! Theona shouted that it sounded as if Rosorc had found trouble, too, even as Areon dashed by me toward Tassar. I thought we would split the party evenly, when I heard cries for a cleric in Rosorc’s hall. Praying Tassar and Areon would be OK, I turned back, soon finding Rosorc surrounded by two shadowy figures. Theona, clutching a scroll and surrounded by dancing lights, dashed past me to get help from the others, William cast a cone of flame down the hallway at the shadows, and I tried turning the things, but only one left. William kept casting spells to no avail, Rosorc’s axe passed right through, and the creature touched me, draining my strength. In desperation, I raced towards Rosorc, casting magic weapon on his axe and praying it would work!

Rosorc’s next blow seemed to make contact, thank Tymora! Staying behind the fighter for once (wouldn’t Tassar be mad?), I realized that Rosorc had lost strength to the thing as well. I restored him a little, and then realized I could hear sounds of battle from ahead of us, Tassar’s voice especially! What a maze we must be in! Of course, he had something surrounded, again. Knowing we had to finish this battle to get to our friends, I kept healing Rosorc as he attacked the creature, until he destroyed it outright! Knowing our friends were in trouble, the three of us raced down the hallway. We’re lucky there weren’t any traps! Tassar was being attacked by four undead and looking pretty bad, as William’s spells flew overhead and Rosorc barrelled into the middle of the crowd. I couldn’t see the elves, or hear the shrieking anymore, but I turned three of the four undead to dust. Tassar was disgusted, as usual, but I pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to turn anything else until I had prayed for spells, so he was in luck.

Tassar set about dispatching the last undead, as I finally heard sounds of fighting and the elves’ voices. I turned up another passage in time to see Areon cleave the last undead right in front of Theona. Suddenly, shouts from behind let us know that the portal had finally been found! And, at the same time, screams told us that the other shadowy firgure had finally returned. It hit William even as he dashed into the portal. Rosorc stepped up to fight it, shouting at us to enter the portal, but of course, Tassar stepped up beside him, attacking the thing with his torch. Rosorc’s axe was still magical, thank Tymora! And he was able to disperse the evil thing. I healed Tassar a little, and we stepped into the portal with our friends.

We found ourselves standing in a great stone hall. By the carvings, anyone could guess this was dwarven stonework. Thick dust on the floor, quiet, and Rosorc said the style was ancient. Tassar and Areon immediately headed in opposite directions, looking for a way out! I healed everyone as much as I could, earning myself a smooch from the halfling, and Theona passed out a handful of gold to each of us - all the treasure she’d had a chance to find in the catacombs, she told us sadly. Areon found a set of huge double doors at the end of the hall, and Tassar began finding smaller doors set into the walls of the hallway. We waited at the big doors for him to get bored, but he opened a door, whistled, and walked right in! Rosorc, muttering about not disturbing dwarven keeps, headed after him, and the rest of us followed. I told Tassar, “You win!”, which got me a grin, and I think it was a good thing after all, at least for Rosorc! The room was full of carvings, writings, and a stone garden that he said was a shrine to the god Moradin’s wife. Most interestingly, the writing (over the course of several rooms), told the tale of the hold, part of a lost dwarven kingdom some three millenia old.

This was a relief - at least we are back in our own world! We also found faint, old, orc prints in the dust as we walked around, which put Areon on edge (Rosorc was distracted by the story or he’d have been more angry, too, I think). Rosorc made a good suggestion - that we stop and rest here, where it was obviously quiet, and leave by the large doors afterwards. Tassar was trying to find a chink in the big doors to see through, when Rosorc walked up and tried saying various dwarven gods’ names while touching the doors. He didn’t get a response but found the doors moved easily. We then settled down in a side room and slept. I was finally able to heal everyone up!

After some discussion about which set of doors to try (there turned out to be another at the other end of the hall), Rosorc pushed them gently open and we found ourselves in a much greater hallway, indeed! What craftsmen these dwarves must have been! There were balconies above us, and tapestries of dwarven families - and more recent orc tracks in the dust on the floor. Carefully, we began checking the doors in the walls, hoping to find a way to the surface. One of the first doors checked, however, opened into a hallway full of doors which led to sleeping chambers. I’d have expeted them all to be the same and moved on, but Tassar decided to run down the hall and open every door. Suddenly, he shouted, threw his torch behind him into the hall, and went running through the door he’d just opened! Rosorc was next - turning to look into the doorway, then suddenly dashing inside. The rest of us ran up, found a small hallway instead of a room, and chased the first two into a roomful of about twenty orcs.

With no other choice, we attacked.

Posted by Kate at 14:12 | Deitricha’s Journal

April 21, 2004

From Where Dreams May Come

Rosorc's Journal

Sleep took me but I didn’t rest. I had a dream.. Well what I think was a dream. It was so real.

......as I walked from our bed chamber, I passed down the hall to our dining room. It was a large, decorative room. My whole family was gathered around our feasting table. Each brought joy to my heart. My lovely wife Theona was teaching our children their lessons.

Raising her eyes, she gave me a wonderful smile. Alaysia Alana, our sweet and beautiful daughter, jumped up and ran over to give me a hug. A little angel, she could be the spitting image of her mother. Long flowing hair, neatly brushed, her thin frame, and an incredible smile. You could see all of her mother’s elven traits. Releasing her hug, she asked,”Are you going to be joining us, Father?” A quick nod, a peck on her forehead, and then I dropped into the nearest open chair.

Theroduin, our son, asked,”Will you and Mother be leaving again, soon? You know you have just returned home from your last trip.” Taking my time answering, I admired my son. A fine young man he was. He was a cross somewhere between my grandfather and myself. Dark hair and coal black eyes. Rather tall for a dwarf, but very broad and powerful already for his young age. You could swear that he was already starting to grow some stubble on that chin of his.

I started to ponder his question as the servants began to bring in lunch. Shooting an inquisitive glance to my wife, she nodded her head yes. Sad that we had to leave the children so soon, myself, I told him,”Yes, my boy, but we will return shortly. Of course, with presents for all!”

Alaysia Alana’s eyes lit up. She also had her mother’s appetite for the finer things in life.......

Standing in the rock garden, you could feel the power and blessing of Berronar Truesilver in this place. Even though Delzoun had been long abandoned. As I stood there in this long forgotten holy place, I called out for her to hear my plea. I opened my heart and mind. I asked her for what I wished for most. Almost sad when I was finished with my prayer, as I believed it was impossible if not just improbable for it to come true.

Little did I know that the full moon outside had reached its apex. That magic ran thick in the air of this old and powerful shrine. As I lowered my head and returned to my watch, I never even noticed the two interlocking silver circles that had appeared on the rocks below my feet, and then within the same instant, were gone.

......”Please hurry back Father,” Alaysia Alana whispered. “I will, my dear, I will,” I said. Then continued as I messed up the hair on Theroduin’s head,”Take care of your sister, my boy.” Theona was giving them both hugs as we left our humble abode in Silvery Moon. Walking out to the stable, we waved one last time before we headed out for the mission at hand......

Wandering off, I travelled the halls of Delzoun. It was as if I had first-hand knowledge of this place where I had never been. I passed through many common areas. I saw our family crest, the Ironfeld Crest, hung in the great hall and several other places along the way. After seeming to travel hours through Delzoun, I came to a rather large door.

Etched right into the stone of the door was our family crest. More than a little curious, I pushed the door open. Inside was a very large, lavish dwelling. Now this wasn’t an Ironsmith’s lodging. I walked through the door into plush decour. There were many books on shelves and scattered about a low table. One, left open, caught my interest. It was the family tree of the Ironfeld lineage from eons back. Sitting down, I skimmed through page after page, not stopping till I reached a page that shook me to my inner core.

“Rosorc and Theona Ironfeld, No descendants” The scariest thing of all was that the passage was penned 3200 years prior. How did they know? What did they know? Putting the book in my pack to show the others, I investigated the rest of the rooms in my ancestor’s dwelling.

......”Ro’ dear, do you think the children will ever figure out our secret?” Theona asked as we rode along. Caught off guard, I nearly fell off my light war horse, Cadderly. Now I was wondering which secret of many my lovely wife meant. Still stumbling for words, she continued,”Eventually someone in the Realms will tell them that it isn’t natural to have an elf and a dwarf born as twins.”

Slowing my mount down, I turned to her and replied thoughtfully,”They are but ten and five winters old. Though I have feared this myself of late. How do we tell our children that they are born of their parents’ love and the magic of the gods only?” Then I continued on,”When would they be ready to accept the prophecy of their birth?” Upon the mention of the prophecy Theona lowered her head in thought as we rode towards our goal.....

Every room in the dwelling seemed to be set up in 2 different sizes. Confused, I walked into what must have been the study. Standing slack jawed I stood there staring at what could only be paintings of myself and the fair Lady Theona on the wall, but dressed in the garb of a much older time. After brushing off this shock, I continued on to what had to be the master bedroom of the house. Here I found a diary of what had to have been Theona’s - or the lady’s of the house, I think.

I was very confused at this point. Not knowing whose diary it was, I skimmed it. It seems the writer and her husband had been very sad for a very long time. That they had not been able to have children in their long marriage. That the grief was slowly killing her, now that her husband was reaching old age.

Here I went kind of fuzzy. I felt light headed and started to black out. Before I went out I caught a glimpse of a very strange thing....

A strong and powerful dwarven matron was standing above me. She was talking with a very thin and beautiful elven woman. Both had the glow of magic as they weaved their hands above me. Seems as they spoke they were dead set that they weren’t going to fail this time. That a debt would be repaid, and a prophecy would be fulfilled.

When I awoke I was covered in sweat and shivering to the bone. I quickly jotted down all that I remembered. There is a message here, I thought. Not wanting to alarm the others, I kept this information to myself.

Posted by Erik at 12:40 | Rosorc’s Journal

April 27, 2004

And 'Round We Go

Deitricha's Journal

Luckily for us, the room full of orcs were actually sitting down to dinner. We had a chance to charge in and take them by surprise. Tassar and Rosorc traded claims over orc kills; one would get a shot in, the other would finish the job. Rosorc has developed the knack of continuing a swing when he knocks an enemy down; a few times, he really mowed through the crowd!

Theona shot one dead right in front of us, and William killed one with a spell! He’s really gaining confidence in his spellcasting, and this day, it showed. Areon, of course, was simply in a battle rage. Even as the rest of the orcs grabbed their weapons and headed our way, he was up on a table, swinging wildly. Unfortunately, an orc in the corner grabbed a horn and began to blow; Theona’s arrow-shot surprised but didn’t stop him.

As the battle raged, I saw Theona looking pretty bad; orcs with bows were targeting her. I raced over and healed her up, then turned to see the reinforcements arrive! Two huge ogres and a mage-like, one-eyed orc. Uh, oh! William cast something at the ogres, causing them to charge through the melee after him. Poor William! Huge javelins barely missed him as he ducked back into the hallway!

Both Areon and Rosorc were looking worse for wear (which didn’t stop Rosorc from mowing down three orcs in a row, or Areon fighting like mad); Theona pointed me at Areon and waved a healing potion as she ran towards Rosorc, so I tried to make my way to Areon. An ogre reached right over me to smash at William, but Tassar killed the other one with a well-placed stab. I was amazed! Finally, I got Areon healed, and he ran to attack the archers at the other end of the room. I then healed Rosorc, and suddenly, every enemy was dead and I could heal the rest of the party!

Of course, we knew that several (including the mage) had escaped, and we could hear horns calling in the distance, so our time was limited. That didn’t stop us from searching the bodies, or me from giving a kiss and congratulations to a very proud Tassar! I asked the others if it would be wiser to follow the escapees through the kitchen, or to move back into uninhabited regions. Exploring the room, we found one other door. Theona found blood and scratches on the floor of the passage, and Rosorc went ahead of her. He got spiked by a trap, showing us where the blood and scratches came from! Stoically, he walked on, followed by the rest of us, except for Tassar, who said he was keeping watch. In the kitchen. It sounded like his mouth was full.

The hallway ended in a wooden door, barred, and marked with a symbol for the dark elves. For once, we all agreed that we were not interested in adding trouble with the drow to our situation! We turned back just in time to hear Tassar snap, “No! It’s my stew!!”, which warned us that more reinforcements must have arrived. Rosorc led the charge into the kitchen, killing two orcs right away, but taking a lot of damage, too. While I healed him up, Areon charged after the rest. So much for getting back into unoccupied territory! We ended up in another room, with columns down the sides, and a cave-in at one end. The other end held more orcs, another ogre, and the mage, again.

Shooting arrows and spells, we dashed in and hid behind the columns. Except for Rosorc, who charged right down the middle of the room into battle. He killed some orcs, but the mage pulled a lever, and Rosorc fell into a pit, several inches deep in oil! Two of the orcs lit a torch and dropped it in, Rosorc managed to catch it, but still set himself on fire! I raced forward, uncoiling my rope, and praying the others would cover me. William cast more spells, very effectively! Again, this got him more attention than he liked.

The ogre grabbed a dead orc body and flung it at Rosorc, luckily missing so badly that it knocked another orc to its death as well. It then took another body, and flung it at William, knocking him to the floor! Rosorc was climbing slowly, but I was worrying about William, and when Tassar fell into the pit full of oil, the goddess gave me strength! I hauled Rosorc the last few feet out of the pit and headed over to stabilize William. The ogre was still throwing bodies, but that ended fast when Tassar flung his war fork from Hell at the ogre and killed it outright!

Finally, I got Tassar out of the pit, and set to using up all but one of the charges from the healing wand he’d given me. With everyone healed as much as possible, we checked out the doors at the end of the room. Unfortunately, the orcs had had enough time to lock them thoroughly. Theona tried using her mystery wand, and we found out it shot a ray of enfeeblement, but that didn’t get us anywhere. I pointed out that the orcs might be using other passages to close in from behind, and we turned back. Tassar was far ahead of us, already. We did stop to penny the kitchen door shut, then caught up with Tassar, who was opening random doors in the Great Hall. He quickly found something of interest!

Four green-lit torches in the corners, an altar at the end surrounded by charred orc bodies, and fifteen-foot tall statues of dwarves in wall alcoves. One held a waraxe, the other, a warhammer. There was a mithril axe on the altar, and Tassar shouting for Rosorc! We decided to leave the dwarf alone in that room, since he wanted the mithril axe and we didn’t want to mess things up with non-dwarf presences (except for Tassar, who decided to open all the other doors while we waited). The door soon opened, and Rosorc came out, axe in hand. Theona snagged the torches, passing them out so we all had permanent light.

While Tassar explored a new passageway, I decided to check the other doors quickly before following. A roomful of statues got Rosorc’s attention, but as I headed for the next, Tassar reappeared, red-faced and choking! He slammed the door behind him and told us there were bad things were that way. I healed him up, and told everyone that I was out of spells for the day. The guys, of course, decided to check the “bad thing” out with Rosorc’s new axe. The rest of us waited at the end of the hall while the fighters walked down to where a hole in the ceiling was barely visible. When nothing came out to fight them, they got impatient and began shooting arrows into it!

I got impatient with the waste of ammunition and time and chucked a couple of sling bullets at them, which got their attention (thank heavens no one shot an arrow at me, come to think of it!). Tassar is now pretending to be cowed by my mighty sling, but spoils the effect by giggling. He won’t let us forget those two ogres any time soon! The party has reassembled in the room, and chocked the doors shut to settle down for a bit. So far, we’ve heard no sound of pursuit, and I pray we can get some rest after this eventful day!

Posted by Kate at 13:01 | Deitricha’s Journal

April 29, 2004

Killing Time

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 30, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold of Barannsar

We charged into a dining hall. Thankfully, this surprised all of the orcs, who, for a few seconds at least, were unarmed with anything other than eating utensils. I sank a bolt into one before he even had a chance to pull a weapon, and I was pleased to see my comrades having similar successes. In fact, if not for one orc with a horn, we would have likely finished them all off in under a minute. That orc was my next target. He didn’t go down, but the alarm he was sounding went up an octave when my bolt hit him.

I was quickly targeted by several orcish archers, and two of them hit. I managed to stay up while Deitricha went between all of us providing healing as needed. At one point, she needed to heal both Areon and Rosorc, so I threw my healing potion to Ro as I feared Areon would not last long enough to drink it.

Though we were making a good swath through the orcs, the horn blower had managed to summon a one-eyed orc cleric and two ogres, the latter were quickly dispatched by Tassar and William, whose spells seem to have the accuracy of a well-crafted bow. Areon helped me finish off the archers, but the horn blower and the cleric ran from us when the ogres fell.

This time, I insisted we “loot” the fallen creatures, and managed to pick up a good amount of coin. I wandered off to check out a passage to our right while Tassar followed the path of the routed orcs, which just happened to be the kitchen. I found some odd scratches in the floor, with a rather largish splotch of dried blood staining the stone floor around them. I called Areon to come look, but Rosorc had followed me and walked right up to the— well— trap, before I could stop him. A big spike shot out of the ceiling and rammed into the stone, skewering Rosorc. Areon appeared and announced that it was “dwarf blood.” Thankfully Ro’s pride was more damaged than his person. We figured out what was causing the scratches on the floor, of course.

William and Deitricha caught up to us, while Tassar volunteered to stay in the kitchen. We walked a few more feet down the passage, only to come to a bolted wooden door. Rosorc was able to read the symbol scratched on the door: Drow. We agreed as one that we didn’t need to open that particular door today.

We walked across the dining area to hear Tassar defending a pot of stew— more orcs! There were only five this time, and Rosorc took out two while Areon chased down the rest. We all ran after him, to come to yet another large hall filled with a dozen foes— including that cleric and a fresh ogre.

There were columns along each wall which made good vantage points to shoot arrows (or spells) from, though Rosorc decided to take the fight over to the orcs at the far end of the room. As he charged, we saw the cleric pull a lever and the floor fell out from under the startled dwarf. He landed in a pit with several inches of oil in it. Two orcs stepped up and lit a torch to throw in— thankfully Rosorc caught the torch before it touched the oil in the pit, but, since he was now soaked in oil, he lit up like an Azer anyway. Deitricha threw a rope to him while the rest of us continued to fight the orcs. The ogre, it appeared, was not very bright— after tossing a spear our way, he started lobbing the orcs surrounding him at us. A few went into the pit, never to rise, but one sailed across the room and knocked William out. I thought it had squashed him, but Deitricha was able to revive him after helping Rosorc out of the trap. Tassar slipped into the pit (I think he fell, but it’s not always easy to tell since he shouts a triumphant battle cry regardless of the situation) and then killed the ogre by throwing his green war fork up out of the pit. He’s getting to be a pretty good pitfighter.

Once again the cleric ran away from us, this time through a pair of double doors at his end of the hall. We were able to close the oil pit, but no amount of trying would get those doors open. In a fit of desperation, I took out that mystery wand we found and aimed it at the door. A beam of green light came out, but didn’t apparently harm the doors, which I’m sure were barred on the opposite side. William and Deitricha conferred and determined the wand cast a Ray of Enfeeblement. Here’s hoping I can get it to work again the next time we actually need it!

After collecting some loose coins off of the fallen bodies, we made our way back to the kitchen and I used some coppers to penny the door shut from our side. I imagine the one-eyed cleric has a multitude of doors available if he is determined to find us, but he seems a coward. At this point, we noticed Tassar was moving much more quickly than the rest of us, and so we hurried out the grand hall to find him flinging doors open. He found an unusual room when he opened the second door on the right in the hall— the one with a mountain and sun motif carved into it. The inside was an obvious sanctuary, with four green torches lighting the corners, two alcoves, each with a 15’ tall statue of a dwarf wearing platemail; one had an axe, the other bore a warhammer. In the center of the room an altar stood, with a bright mithril axe resting on it. The charred remains of orcs surrounded the altar.

Those of us that weren’t dwarves filed back out into the hallway, lest we end up like the black smudges surrounding the axe. Closing the door, we waited, hoping Ro would know what to do. He must have been worthy of the fine weapon, as he reappeared moments later hefting the well-crafted axe. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but he looks— different, somehow. I went back in and grabbed the four torches—they are the everburning variety, and since the axe was leaving the shrine, it seemed that we’d have better use of the light.

Tassar was unable to restrain himself for long, and wandered off into a hallway he’d found behind another door. He came running back out a minute letter, breathless and asking for ale. While I fished him out a flask from my bag, he tried, only somewhat successfully, to describe a halfling-sized creature that had dropped long arms down from a hole in the ceiling, attempting to strangle him. Rosorc went back in to look with him, but the creature did not make another appearance.

I believe we’d only broken camp a few hours before, but between the charred dwarf, strangled halfling and two spellcasters with little if any magic left, we agreed to rest again, back at our original camp site. Deitricha had done a good job of keeping Areon and I patched up, so I believe we’ll take two watches so our friends can get the extra rest they need.

Posted by Kristin at 17:12 | Theona’s Journal