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But then

Alayi’s Journal

Defender climbed down the rope very slowly. Slowly enough that Tomas decided to kill two birds with one stone and perched himself on Defender’s shoulders. Defender yelled at Tomas about how he was NOT a pack mule, but Tomas hung on tight! Alunys was laughing at them both, but then Defender decided to hit bottom quite literally, letting go of the rope with about ten feet left to fall. Although Tomas rolled away and wasn’t hurt, Alunys got an awful look on her face and started climbing down, yelling about Defender’s backpack... uh, oh.

Sure enough, the tablet was smashed to fragments and dust. Defender rolled the whole mess up in my bedroll, insisting that we could magic it back together at a later date, and Tomas made a rubbing of what fragments we could piece together. He stuffed the paper into his own bag, then picked up something that had fallen out of the tablet when it smashed. Another six-inch disk! This one had a sapphire in the center, and a different map. It looked like the shadow marches, to me. We talked about how to find out more - perhaps the injured gnome? - but first we had to check out the passage that we’d walked away from before.

Instead of stopping at the water’s edge this time, we walked right in. Defender carried a torch over his head, while Tomas dragged his magical torch through the water, hoping to see anything coming his way. The water reached three feet deep, and then we walked out of the passage and into a long vaulted chamber with openings to each side. Defender walked to the closest opening and peered in. More carved walls showing hobgoblin warriors, and green stones - slime-covered benches - stuck up out of the water.

Across the hall, we found another room that looked the same. I looked at the aberrations the hobgoblins were fighting, recognizing several from my own experiences... but then, Defender walked inside the room and was attacked! Tentacles in the water! He was grappling with several; all we could see were tentacles and suction cups and a big beaked mouth. I shot right at it - but the arrow bounced off! Thank heavens Defender’s arm sword cut right through and killed it easily. Especially as Tomas and Alunys were shouting that more were coming from down the hall and across the way!

I got hit by a tentacle while putting my bow away - ow! And pulled my scimitar. Defender was shouting, as he was now at the rear of the battle instead of the front, leaving Tomas and Alunys to fight as best they could. That meant Tomas hitting me with an arrow and a fast apology! Another tentacle hit me, but I was ready with my scimitar and slashed at it in return. Still nothing; the blade bounced away. I backed off, realizing that I could not do anything but get out of Defender’s way. Sure enough, he killed it with a single blow again. Must be the magic in his sword?

I backed down the length of the room, healing myself, alongside Tomas. Alunys was ducking and weaving around the tentacles, while Defender dispatched the creatures as fast as he could. When all were dead, we walked to the end of the hall and discovered a set of doors with large brass rings to pull them open by. Water and age made them stiff, but finally we were looking through the doors at an even larger chamber. Defender stepped inside and promptly fell down a set of underwater stairs...

We waited for the glow of his torch to return; he asked us to wait a bit while he searched the lower halls, then made his way down the steps again. We saw him turn a corner, and his light fade away. Tomas hadn’t even gotten bored yet when we saw the light coming back at a faster pace! He came up the steps, yelling, and broke the surface while waving a skeletal arm and shouting, “They’re coming!!!” Sure enough, several skeletal hobgoblins were following him up the stairs.

As Defender stopped and turned, swinging his fists at the skeletons, Alunys pulled out her holy symbol and held it up. When the skeletons ignored her, I headed for the doors, shouting to the others that we should get back so I could close them up again. Tomas was already there, but Defender kept fighting to “hold them off” and Alunys was trying to get him to come with us. I got one door closed, and held the other ready, and then Alunys decided to raise her holy symbol and turn the skeletons a second time.

They crumbled to dust, collapsing in front of her! Defender will be a willing convert yet, I think! But first, he waited a while in case more skeletons were coming, and then walked back down for one last check of the area. He found more rooms and halls, rotted wooden doors, and nothing more of interest. Finally, he too was ready to head back to Mossmantle.

When we reached the surface, Alunys had a surprise for us - she has a unicorn companion! The unicorn healed several of us, but it disappears sometimes as well. At least the rest of out trip back was uneventful. And the gnome was still in Mossmantle! Poor guy needs some serious healing for his legs, still, but he was curious about what we’d seen and found. Eventually we showed him the “new” key, and decided among ourselves to check out the Shadow Marches to see where the map led to. Alunys is still following her vision prophecy, I want to make sure this isn’t a threat to the Towering Wood, Defender is following Alunys, and Tomas just wants to see a city.

And we have to go to a city to catch a lightning rail as the fastest route to the Marches. (Hope Fang is willing to put up with this adventure). But we have to pay attention; the gnome thinks demonic possession is a big part of why things are coming up evil that normally wouldn’t be. And the entity is obviously interested in the same thing we’re trying to figure out!

Posted by Kate on April 4, 2007, 08:41 | Alayi’s Journal