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Yet Still

Alayi’s Journal

The airship came down on the plains, not in the forest, only a couple of miles away from Mossmantle. We quickly arrived on the scene, only to find the ship in pieces. The ground had been gouged deeply by wreckage, but the fire elemental was nowhere to be seen. Bodies, of course, were scattered hither and yon.

As we spread out to check for signs of life, the paladin scanned for signs of evil, too. She focused quickly on a faint trace to the northwest, but Defender discovered someone still alive under parts of the ship. He began hauling pieces of junk off of a gnome, Alunys scanned him and said he was not evil, and I reached in between rescuers to give him a quick stabilizing healing spell. He needed more help than I could give; his legs were crushed.

The ship itself was named the Silver Star; its crew consisted of humans and half-elves, all dead. Fang and I took a quick sweep around the area, looking for signs of anything leaving the crash site, and ran into a farmer telling the Silver Flame that he’d seen a large stone man heading northwest; a tall granite giant that was missing an arm. Back to the gnome we went, hoping to learn more.

The gnome was awake, and asking what had happened to his golem. We asked if it was the stone man, and he told us how it, his bodyguard, had gone berserk. The crew couldn’t stop its rampage. We asked him several other questions - who are you, why was the ship headed this way? - but he lost consciousness again. The warforged was ready to charge off into the unknown right then and there!

The gnome woke up again, thankfully, and was able to tell us a bit more. The golem wasn’t evil, he said (!), and it would not harm the ringbearer. He gave an iron ring to the paladin, telling us that the golem was supposed to obey the wearer’s instructions. When he fainted again, we searched him for more clues, and found papers identifying him as Roland Bramble, from the city of Sharn, Morgrave University. Alunys said that people from there spend their time looking for “things”.

I decided to find the golem’s missing arm, if possible, for our evil detector as well as for an idea of what to look for. I was glad to find it, and gladder still that it wasn’t moving. I half expected to see it crawling off to the northwest... Alunys saw evil within the thing. Defender decided to take it along “just in case” and slung it over his shoulder. Tomas found a golem footprint, and I found more; back toward the Towering Wood we went!

It was a slow trip, and I didn’t dare speed up; although it went generally northwest, the footprints didn’t take a straight line. After some miles, the Silver Flame tried calling it back with the iron ring, but we looked over the plain and saw nothing. After almost twenty miles, we could make out the treeline of the Towering Wood ahead - but Tomas was keen on getting horses from somewhere, and detoured to a farmhouse nearby.

The farmers hadn’t any horses to spare, but pointed us toward a horse ranch some hundred miles out of our way. We thanked them and continued. Of course, Tomas was tired, and didn’t mind letting everyone know. Defender even offered to carry him but he kept trudging and talking until the paladin started to take pity on him, too. When he plunked himself on the ground and refused to take another step, I shrugged, curled up, and went to sleep!

In the morning (thanks, Defender, for watching for us!), Alunys could still sense an evil aura to follow. We set out on the trail, despite Tomas’ opinion that we’d gone plenty far enough on this chase. The Silver Flame disagreed, telling him about the Voice that had told her a prophecy that seems to fit this event. She seems a little obsessed! They argued over philosophy for a while. The warforged commented on the increasing number of trees (although still a day’s walk from the Wood), and insisted that someone should climb up a thirty-foot sapling for a “better look”. I climbed one to make him happy, saw nothing, and we walked on.

We stopped at nightfall, and in the morning, the paladin had found berries for us to eat. Apparently, no one had much in the way of trail rations - hence Tomas’ desire to turn back! I was able to cast a spell on several of the berries to make meals for my companions, and we kept on. Finally, at the end of the day, we reached the treeline. There was a definite trail to follow through the underbrush!

That night, we could hear wolves howling, but they didn’t come too near. In the morning, I found blackberries to cast Goodberry on, shared them out, and prayed while Alunys worked on converting Defender again. Of course, all he wanted to know about were the military prospects within the Silver Flame organization...

We walked through the forest all day long, following the trail of footprints and faint evil. At nightfall, I went searching for more food, then went to bed, leaving Defender to stand watch. It is nice that he doesn’t have to sleep...

I didn’t get much sleep, either. We were woken by shouting from the warforged as he swiped at a black shadow with red-lit eyes. The paladin shouted that it was a wraith, then hit Defender with one of her arrows again. I saw Fang heading for the other end of the clearing - good girl! - and focused on casting a healing spell as I took a swipe at the shadow for myself. I got its attention - ow! - and Defender slashed it again with his magic sword arm, causing it to dissipate. I healed myself up and went back to bed!

In the morning, I cast my spell to feed us, and we were on our way. We hadn’t been travelling for long when we reached the outskirts of ancient ruins... and heard the sound of stone hitting stone! I quickly snuck up to see what was happening. I found our one-armed quarry, picking up rocks and throwing them to one side as if he was uncovering something. Interesting!

I snuck back to the others to tell them what I’d seen, wondering aloud how long he’d been at this project? Alunys put on the iron ring, and the warforged prepared to “slam” it; I think he’s been imagining a battle with someone like himself the whole time! Defender and I agreed that we did not want the golem to uncover whatever it was working on; it’s possessed by evil, after all.

Out walked the Silver Flame, and commanded the granite golem to stop digging. It stopped, stood up and looked at her. Tomas turned out to be curious about what was being uncovered, but she ordered it to re-cover the spot anyway. Then, she decided to sense the evil in the area - and was stunned by the intensity! Naturally, as soon as she went into shock the golem lurched toward her.

It drew back before it hit her, at least, which gave Defender his opportunity to “slam” it. With the golem occupied, Fang and I ran to the spot it was working on to see what was there. We found a stone shaft leading down, and a lid partially pulled away from capping it. Who knew what was down there? I quickly started shoving it back into place!

Alunys shook herself and pulled out her bow, but her arrow bounced harmlessly off the golem. It turned and swung at her, anyway! She was hurt, backed up, and gave the iron ring to Tomas. He told it to stop again; it looked at Tomas but did not back down. As it walked toward the two of them, Defender hit it again. It still swung at the paladin but it missed; she got out of the way as Defender slammed it a third time.

I kept shoving at the lid, the Silver Flame circled behind some ruins so as to heal herself, and Tomas backed away fast while telling the golem to stop - repeatedly. The golem kept turning to chase after the paladin (all that good energy!), which gave the warforged lots of chances to hit it. He was taking big chunks of granite off it. He was also taking a good deal of damage as the golem fought back.

Alunys decided to try her fire spell again, and blue flames were soon arcing over the ruins and searing the golem. Tomas was still shouting orders at it, so I called to him to help me shove on the lid. It was heavy, and I wanted only one enemy at a time! Thankfully, Defender was able to crush the golem to pieces; he immediately set to repairing the damage to himself.

While he did that, we peered over the edge of the shaft. Still quiet, and the paladin sensed no evil - that was a relief! The golem’s body still had a faint aura to it, which left us a mystery as to how it had become possessed. Tomas searched through the golem rubble and discovered an adamantine disk with a ruby in the center. On the disk was a relief-styled map to these ruins. And it wasn’t evil, either. The place seemed more interesting to me, after that!

I suggested closing the lid for the night (just in case), then checking out what was inside in the morning. So, we shoved it over the opening, and I went out to forage. I came back to find Tomas checking out the iron ring and the warforged still at work; at nightfall we went to bed. The next day, Defender had to finish his repairs, so I went out to find food to last us while exploring. I came back with four days’ worth.

The disk looked to be some sort of key, too - it had odd bumps on it. We tied a light to my rope and lowered it down the shaft, finding it to be about forty feet to the bottom, and opening out to a chamber of some sort. I decided it would be better to leave Fang outside, and gave her a hug and directions to be careful! Tomas tied the rope to make it easy to climb, and down we went...

Posted by Kate on February 21, 2007, 00:19 | Alayi’s Journal