Alayi's Journal
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Alayi’s Bio

Family from one of the settled shifter villages; plenty of exposure to evil / aberrations loose in the woods. Began my ‘career’ by protecting my own kith and kin, but began to range further and meet new folk. Interest in defending my people led me to become a ranger, interest in defending wood / homeland led me to the druids. Orcish Gatekeepers willing to give me a chance, and as I learned from them, I made a friend of the (completely ordinary female) wolf I call Fang.

Alayi and Fang, image (c) Kristin Johnson

Character sheet: Alayi Longwalker [Shifter Ranger2⁄Druid1]
Companion sheet: Fang [Wolf Companion of Alayi]

Posted by Kate on January 21, 2007, 13:42

For starters

I’d been living around Mossmantle for a while, having heard of some trouble with their supply caravans. When the town council made an announcement at the local inn, I made sure to be there to hear it.

Bandits have been attacking folk on the road between here and Varnar; they need to find out who, and put a stop to it! The council looked for volunteers, and I was quick to step up.

The others who wanted to help are a mixed bag; an elven Silver Flame paladin, a young human named Tomas, and a warforged. I thought about calling him Al, but he wants to be called Defender. Because he wants to defend someone. Thankfully, he chose the Silver Flame (Alune, I think. No, Alunys is it).

Although there was some talk of getting horses (or a wagon for the warforged), we walked out of town on our own two feet. “Getting to know you” talk quickly left me wondering about Tomas - he seems half juvenile delinquent, and almost proud of being warned out of town before sunset. Eventually, I scouted ahead of the others, leaving Fang to “track” Tomas. Better to keep an eye on him - and I thought I’d be watching out for the Silver Flame on this jaunt!

We agreed to continue walking past nightfall, partly in hopes of meeting one of the caravans, and partly in hopes of finding trouble before it found us. Tomas thought this was heresy. Apparently “people sleep at night” (I mused aloud if he wanted us to sleep so he could “share” our stuff). The Silver Flame passed her time in converting Defender... sort of.

Eventually, I was distracted by a glow off to the east; it seemed like a fire well off the trail, and I wanted to check it out. The others wanted to follow, but they were not very quiet! Alunys and I outpaced the rest quickly, and soon heard shouts ahead. Over a rise, the glow was brighter, and from the top of the hill we saw a barn and farmhouse in flames. There were local farmers throwing buckets of water at the structures, too.

When we came down to help, we asked about the owners of the farm, but no one knew where they were. When Tomas and Defender caught up, I asked the warforged if he could withstand the flames to check inside. Apparently warforged can be damaged by fire, but although he was willing to look, the places were collapsing in on themselves - too late! Alunys asked aloud if anyone knew what had happened, and an old man stepped forward.

He was from the next farm over; on seeing flames, he’d sent his son to call out the neighbors and come to the farm himself. As he got closer he saw a group of men heading north. Hmmm... we saw no one on the road, the group must be off across the plains, somewhere. Alunys began looking for signs of magic, but I pointed out that Fang and I make a business of tracking...

Fang had better luck than I, quickly scenting a trail to follow. We left the farmers to finish putting out the flames, and headed north to see who and why the farmstead had been attacked in the first place. Some four hours later, we reached the wood. Sure enough, these bandits were using the forest for cover.

Once inside the treeline, we came upon a low hill with a cave entrance half-hidden among some boulders. I called Fang, and we waited while the whole party discussed the best way to approach the situation (and Defender pulled out a sword and attached it to his arm. Hm). We had little in the way of stealth, of course, and before I knew what was happening Tomas was looking innocent as Defender strode across the clearing and down a narrow passage. Thanks for instigating this, Tomas!

I quickly followed, quietly as I could. Forty feet in and the passage widened slightly, finally opening to a rough cavern. On the far side the passage continued, but forked left and right. Defender fetched up here, unsure of which way to take. I tried using my skills to discern which passage was used - both, of course, although the right-hand side was the most popular. Fang was unsure, herself, as was the Silver Flame who was sensing for “evil”.

I decided to take the right-hand passage, and the others followed, so I emphasized to the warforged to stay with the Silver Flame. After many twists and turns, the tunnel opened into another larger cavern. This one had water dripping into pools, and mushrooms and fungi growing on the floor. A path was worn across the stone, leading to yet another tunnel, from which voices could faintly be heard. I told the others to wait, then sneaked across for a better look-and-listen.

Defender blocked the passage, conveniently enough, since Tomas still wanted to follow! I snuck up the passageway until I reached a curtain, pulled across the path. I muffled my torch until only a faint glow, then crept up to the curtain and gently lifted a corner. A small cavern was revealed, another curtain across the way, and several large purple mushrooms to each side. How lucky that I can see in very low light! Shrieker mushrooms, just waiting for movement or light to give the alarm!

I gently lowered the corner of the cloth, then snuck back down the tunnel to tell the others of my discovery. The Silver Flame was all for calling them out and attacking them openly, I was hoping we could sneak across somehow, and Tomas made a quick trip for himself in the hopes of finding a secret passage around the trap. Unable to find anything, he returned, and we decided to explore the left-hand passage instead.

Back to the fork in the tunnel, and Defender first in line with his torch held high. I warned him to stop quickly if he saw anything at all, so I could go ahead and check it out. I might have saved my breath; we were walking along when I heard “Oops” as he walked right through the tripwire, breaking it! A wood-framed gate crashed down from the ceiling, trapping everyone except Tomas. From up ahead, we heard another crash - and then a low growl.

Here came something - a large panther, with tentacles! It blurred and shifted as it growled at us, and then Defender stepped up and blocked the hallway. I managed to squeeze in next to him and shoot at the thing, but my arrow passed right through its body. Alunys was trying to shoot it, too, but her arrows went wide - Defender was in her way. He was quickly in combat with the beast, so I put my bow away and pulled my scimitar.

Unfortunately, I had to pull my bow again due to the trouble Alunys was having. I told Fang to stay back, while the warforged and the Silver Flame argued about the meaning of “defending” - he wouldn’t let her fight, although he was taking a beating. He even got hit by one of her arrows but it didn’t make him let her by! I started shooting past the argument and into the fight, even though I knew the displacer panther was only half-likely to notice. As Defender got more beat-up, I decided to ask Fang to trip him so we could fight, too.

It took a couple of attempts, but finally Defender hit the floor and I pulled my scimitar again. I heard the sound of the wooden gate opening, too, and hoped it was Tomas! But with no time to waste, I sicced Fang on the beast, and shifted into the fight. We traded blows for a short time, but then the Silver Flame told us to back up - despite that, Tomas suddenly tumbled through the battle and popped up behind the beast - and then Alunys began to throw fire at the panther.

Tomas was swinging and hitting it from behind, while also yelling that we were “leaving him” and calling the paladin names. He seemed to be surprised that she was throwing fire at the beast with him behind it. As she seared it with her spell, I finally got some shots in with my bow - and finally finished it off. While they argued over battle tactics, I pointed out that he was acting like a kid. Unfortunately, that’s what he is...

Posted by Kate on February 14, 2007, 00:54

And next

After a bit of healing magic, Defender walked right off down the passage again. Alunys called him back quickly - what about more traps? - and we ended up following Tomas who searched for traps, while Alunys searched for secret passages. I tried to talk to Defender about fighting tactics, but quickly realized that although he has lots of training, he has little real-world experience. The wars ended right after he was built!

I also listened for people coming to check the trap we’d set off; it only made sense that they would. Sure enough, Fang and I caught the sound of steps behind us; Defender quickly covered his torch. We all listened intently, and Alunys told us that someone had seen our light. She told us not to move, listened - and then told us to attack! I immediately dashed back down the passage.

Around a corner I ran into four armed guards. I decided to barrel right on through, unsure if there were more further up the tunnel. I took a couple of hits, Defender came up behind and killed one of my attackers with a blow, and I ran on up the tunnel with Fang at my heels and my sword and torch ready. Almost to the fork in the tunnel and I turned back, confident that we were alone. I was healing myself a little bit as we went, when one of the guards came fleeing toward me! I pulled my scimitar and smiled.

An arrow flew by, then Defender came running up, which spurred the guard on; he even got past me as I slashed at him! Fang and I chased him back up the tunnel and finished him off, then listened closely for anyone else coming. All was quiet, so I took his money and his club and we went back to the others yet again. They had finished off the other guards, so I replaced my arrows from their gear and we headed up the tunnel, searching fast before someone came looking for the search party. Alunys said she’d heard that the leader’s name is Darvin.

Finally, we heard voices, and saw a light. I told the others to wait a moment, then crept close. The passage ended, opening out to a larger cavern, and I saw that we were on a ledge above the cavern floor. The ledge was also barred firmly with wooden poles. No chance of getting through them without being noticed, I fear! In the cavern I saw wood tables, benches, and torches on the walls. There were about a dozen more human guards, and on the far side, I saw a group of peasant farmers imprisoned by more wooden poles in a pen. There were two passages out of the cavern. I listened to the talk, but it was mostly about dice and drinking. I realized that the furniture was made of broken-up wagons, and there were even wheels piled in a corner. We had our bandits red-handed!

I crawled back to tell the others what I’d seen, and discuss what to do. Back to town? Hide nearby and heal up? Ambush more search parties until there was no one left? Somehow get the farmers loose and armed, and hope for the best? Eventually, we headed back to the trap, hoping to reset it and hide the bodies and somehow get a little rest. I also tried telling ghost stories about the bodies to Tomas... but now voices were heard at the gate. No rest for the weary!

The voices were commenting on the gate being closed - apparently, they assumed the searchers trapped themselves, so they sent someone to get keys, and “nature boy”, who controls the beast. I peeked around the corner, and sure enough, the light was fading. We had a few minutes to decide what to do. Although we were still hurt, the consensus was to wait in ambush. Tomas was hidden under a pile of bodies, while Defender stood in the panther’s lair. Alunys and I stood up the passage, bows drawn.

Soon, we saw several people, including a druid with a bone-plated giant rat. They stopped when they saw the pile of bodies, then caught sight of Defender. Who said “Hey” and waved at them with his sword arm. While I stared in disbelief, the first guard quickly stepped back and whispered to the rest, and the druid began to cast a spell. NOW Defender chose to charge into battle! Alunys and I had to walk up to shoot with any chance to hit, after that!

Defender was plowing through the guards, and Alunys shot and killed another, but the druid cast a spell to summon three wolves to fight us. I sicced Fang on one, then shot the spellcaster - but he summoned three more. They pulled Defender down, Fang was bitten, and the other druid ran away with his rat-thing. We were left to fight the horde... which lasted longer than Alunys expected, making me realize this “nature-boy” must be Ashbound. Tomas killed a wolf, and the last guard ran away. We were still fighting the summoned wolves; I found out that the paladin can use her bow to bludgeon things, but Fang went down before her attacker dissipated.

I dropped everything to stabilize my friend while the battle raged around us. When I looked up again, I realized that Defender was down, too, and that Tomas had killed several of the wolves himself. He and Alunys dragged Defender while I carried Fang, and we made a run for the safety of the woods outside the cave. Somehow, we made it, with me covering our tracks all the way.

Tomas and Alunys spent hours figuring out how to fix Defender enough to wake him up, while I stood watch. As soon as the warforged was awake, I crashed!

Posted by Kate on February 14, 2007, 01:00

But now

I was pleasantly surprised to wake rested - no emergencies! I prayed, then healed myself and my wolf while we talked over what to do next. We felt some urgency to rescue the farmers, for we had no idea what the bandits had in store for them. We were too far away from the cave to see how many have entered and left since we’d escaped. So, we decided to hide near the cave and watch for a while.

After some time, four men came out of the trees and entered the cave; the druid was not among them. Defender immediately suggested moving over to that spot, hoping to ambush the next “patrol” on their way out. We managed to move without too much noise, then settled down; Defender insisted that the next patrol would be out within an hour. An hour was too long for Tomas; I had to chuck a rock at him to stop his whistling.

By the end of three hours even the warforged was losing patience! We were talking over a frontal assault on the screaming mushrooms when I decided to take a quick scout around the area in search of some other opening to the bandits’ cave. Fang came along; once in the brush, I think we both were relieved to have a little peace and quiet. Even better, we found a narrow cleft in another rock outcropping!

I climbed down the steep entrance a short way, listening in the darkness, but heard and saw nothing. Still, it was something to tell the others about, so we returned and I told them of my hunch that this was somehow the “back door”. Tomas was unconvinced, but in the end, we all went back for a closer look. Defender pulled out his everburning torch and climbed right in, while we waited at the top. Soon, he was back, telling us that the cave widened out to a deep pool of water.

Hmm. Now I was not so sure of my hunch! Warforged might not need to breathe, but... Defender decided to go back for a closer look, and we waited some more.

His next climb out had better news: the pool of water was deep, but fifteen feet under the rock it led to another cave, which had torches and buckets in it! A short swim would reach it, or a pull from a rope. Tomas immediately refused to consider the idea! He did promise to come back in the front way to provide a distraction, and I knew Fang would have trouble climbing, so I sent her with him while Alunys and I climbed down to the water with Defender.

We reached the beach with ease, following a new tunnel worn through the stone until we came to another cavern. This one had lanterns on the walls, but was full of boxes, not people. More loot, I guessed, and edged around to the opposite side to look out the door while Defender and Alunys had a look at the stash. The tunnel out of the cavern curved, so I followed it until I reached a door in the wall - and could see light at the end of the passage.

The other two caught up with me at this point, and Defender tried the door, but it would not open. Since all stayed quiet, Alunys looked under the door. It was dark. So, she knelt down with a torch and shoved it close, and we both looked and saw - boots! We got up fast!!

Then, as if the gods were watching over us all, the shrieking mushrooms suddenly went off.

We heard lots of movement in the tunnel ahead, and movement behind the door. We stepped back for Defender to bash the door in, but he couldn’t get enough momentum in the narrow tunnel to do it. As he headed off down the tunnel, paladin in tow, I pulled out a dagger and used the club as a hammer to try to wedge the door shut on its mysterious occupant.

Of course, as the warforged and the Silver Flame reached a room full of guards getting ready to hunt down Tomas and Fang, I heard something being drawn behind the door! I quickly dropped the club and put my dagger away, pulling my scimitar and swinging wildly as the door opened to reveal a man with a shield, wearing a chain shirt, and wielding a big sword. Defender and Alunys attacked the guards, who were yelling “Get them!” and probably very confused; then Alunys was backing toward me, trading arrows with someone in the room.

I had to focus on the man in front of me, despite hearing Defender screaming “You’re all going to die!” down the hallway, and Alunys cheering as she shot her foes to death. Thankfully, I was able to dispatch my opponent to an early grave, and take a quick look into the room behind him. Some twenty feet across, it looked like a bedroom, and it appeared empty, so I ran down to see what my comrades were up to.

The cavern was full of the bodies of guards, and Alunys, who pointed out the exit for me to follow Defender. I found myself on the other side of the shrieker cavern, ran through to the tunnel, and found Tomas and Fang and Defender and the rest of the guards, also dead. I greeted my big bad wolf who’d killed a guard herself, then Tomas gleefully stabbed the shriekers. We headed back to the main room, which I finally recognized from when I saw it from the displacer panther’s tunnel.

The prisoners were still in their cage, and I thought of the man I’d killed, so we checked his body - sure enough, there were keys! We gave the man’s longsword to Alunys, and found a locked chest in the room, but first took the keys out to release the farmer, Mevin, and his wife and sons. Although we’d seen no sign of the druid, we decided to wait out the night in the cavern and help get everyone home in the morning. Mevin hadn’t heard much while imprisoned, though he thought they were to be sold as slaves (which the druid was angry over - he didn’t want anyone taken from the farm in the first place).

Tomas came down to tell us that he’d gotten the chest open, and found bags and bags of coins to go with the stolen goods from the caravans. I was pleased to think we could give farmer Mevin a head start on rebuilding his home! As Tomas discovered a secret compartment in the chest and revealed a suit of armor emblazoned with the symbol of the Emerald Claw (yech!), and some potion vials, it dawned on me that we would need help getting everything back to Mossmantle.

While the rest stayed to guard the farmers and the goods, I decided to make a run for Mossmantle on my own. I left Fang behind to help guard, and swam out through the “back door”, hoping not to meet the Ashbound druid!

Thankfully, it was a quiet run through the nighttime woods, and near dawn, I was thumping on the door to the head of the town council. Garsay was already awake, and I quickly told him of our adventures. He agreed to get wagons together, and volunteers, so I curled up for a nap!

I was a slow trip back, but eventually I led the wagon train as close to the bandits’ cave as possible, and found that everyone was safe. It took the rest of the day to clear out the caves and send Mevin and his family home, but we all pitched in to help. We found ourselves hailed as heroes, and given the rest of the coins we’d found as a reward, and invited back to Mossmantle for a festival in our honor. It promised to be quite a party.

It took a couple of days for all the events, and I had a chance to get to know the Silver Flame a little better. Although I was worried that there were more bandits to find on the road to Varnar, Alunys had a more specific worry. She’d come to Mossmantle following a prophecy, that foretold evil falling from the sky in this place. She spent a lot of time watching.

And, midmorning after the festival, her prophecy seemed fulfilled! Something was sighted on the eastern horizon, approaching rapidly. It turned out to be a large airship, a ring of fire encircling it, and headed westward over our heads. There’s nothing but the Wood and the Demon Wastes to the west, why were they so far out of their normal routes? Tomas was jumping up and down with excitement, but I was worried about fire in the forest...

And as the ship passed overhead, we saw it lurch to one side, heard explosions, saw smoke. Defender was shouting at everyone to take cover, although it quickly passed us by. Trailing smoke, it descended over the rise beyond Mossmantle and crashed nearby. We immediately ran after...

Posted by Kate on February 14, 2007, 01:02

Yet Still

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

And So

We stood at the bottom of the shaft, looking around the room. There were three exits, one to the north, and two more east and west. Alunys studies them for an evil taint, while I searched the southern wall for any sign of a hidden door. When neither of us found anything, Tomas said he was curious about the northern route, so Defender marched into it. We followed but soon ran into a collapsed section of the tunnel. There was a smaller passage branching off near the rubble, however, so in we walked.

The new passage led to a half-collapsed chamber. Dire rat sized tracks crisscrossed in the dust on the floor. Alunys heard the sliding of stones, whispered a warning to me, and I looked at the rubble but saw nothing. I began to back out of the room anyway, but now Tomas was asking us what was going on, and Defender walked past me into the room for a closer look. I pulled my bow as Defender caught sight of several large rodents coming our way and began swinging his sword!

The rats were large, with bony armor and acid saliva burning the stone when it dripped from their jaws. Defender slew one, I missed with my scimitar and pulled my bow, and Alunys announced that the rats themselves were evil! She smote at them, while Defender killed a second and Tomas cheered him on from the doorway. Alunys was swinging her warbow at one, while I traded shots with the last, getting bitten in the process. We quickly finished them off and Alunys healed me up.

Defender had walked yet further into the room; now he shouted to us that there were more rats coming, and Alunys saw evil around them as well. Now, I knew that horrid rats are not usually evil, but neither are golems. Something odd is going on! But for the moment, we had three more rats on our hands. Defender was doing most of the work, and I noticed that Tomas had wandered off somewhere (“to his death, probably”, I muttered under my breath), but we stayed in that room until all of the evil rats had been destroyed and the room searched.

We walked back to the main room, looking and listening for any sign of Tomas. None, but an arrow left on the floor pointing down the eastern exit, so we followed. We soon heard a commotion, and ran, finding Tomas locked in battle with a giant spider! He killed it on his own, however, so we followed the tunnel as it sloped downward, until we reached water. Defender continued on into the water (I swear, that Tomas is as finicky as a cat!); although it wasn’t very deep we waited for him to scout ahead.

He was soon back, telling us of a large room with slabs of stone and strange runes. Since Tomas still didn’t want to get wet (and Defender refused to carry him), we headed back to check out the western route, too. Defender and Alunys led the way - so they were the ones who fell when the floor collapsed! A forty-foot shaft, and our friends at the bottom. I lamented the fact that I was the only one to bring rope, which was now our ladder out of the ruins, and watched Defender and Alunys begin a very slow climb up.

Tomas got bored waiting, and jumped across the gap to the other side. I followed, warning the others to climb to the inside, then waited for them while Tomas roved ahead in search of something new. He was back before the others climbed out, telling us about spiderwebbing all over the walls ahead. I healed Alunys a bit when she got out, hoped Defender would last until he had time to repair himself, and got out my bow. We walked down to the webbing, using Tomas’ flaming torch to burn through the webs until we reached the end of the hall, and a large room could be seen. Hmm... do we clear all of this out?


We decided to go for it, and moved forward into the webs. We were talking about how best to burn them away - the torch in Defender’s hand, a blue flame in Alunys’, but the *whoosh* of the webs going up in smoke quickly got a reaction. As large shadowy spidery forms began to skitter through the webbing, Tomas fired his crossbow while I held my fire, waiting for them to close in. Sure enough, a spider soon got within Defender’s reach and was smashed - and then several more swarmed him!

The spiders were biting at Defender but not even hurting him, so we stayed back and shot at the ones on the ground. A single arrow was usually enough to kill one. Alunys was using her blue flame to set them ablaze as well. We moved slowly into the room, still burning the webs away, and a high arched ceiling began to come into view. Still more spiders attacked, too, and their bites hurt! The floor was covered in bones, and we could see a pit in the floor at the end of the room. First, however, we had to deal with the spiders - big, bigger, biggest! And dropping from the ceiling or swarming across the floor, they were determined to do us in.

Tomas stayed by the door again, shooting at spiders as he could get a clear shot. Defender was determined to do most of the fighting, as the spiders’ poison didn’t hurt him at all. He got in my way a few times - I’ll have to apologize for booting him in the butt the one time. Finally, we finished off the last spider, and were able to search the room in peace. The walls were covered with scenes from a goblinoid city. It had an altar to the dragon Eberron, and strange runes on the walls again. Defender was doing some quick repair work while Tomas went over the altar, sliding back a secret panel and pulling out a locked box.

He quickly had the box open, revealing an everburning torch, a small mirror, a sack of coins, a gem, and a small gold statue of a dragon. Alunys went through the coins, trying to figure out their age or region, but they were unfamiliar to her. So, we turned our attention to the pit in the floor. When all we saw was water, we decided it was time to take a break! Defender bashed away for eight hours, then stood watch while the rest of us got some much-needed sleep. He then finished his repair job, but not before I climbed the rope and checked on Fang. She was enjoying the wilderness!

Although Tomas noticed a pulley system above the pit, and Defender discovered the remains of a ladder down the side of the pit, I thought it safest to leave our one rope where it was. Defender climbed down the pit, while we talked over which pool of water to wade through first - this one, or the eastern route? When Defender reached the bottom (and the water here, too, was only about three feet deep), Tomas grabbed an extra torch and dashed off to check if the glow could be seen at the other pool. While he was gone, Defender described what he was seeing - carved stone walls, bones in niches, and exits to his left and right. When Tomas returned (no luck on a connection between the rooms), we all climbed down into the crypt together.

The exits led off to the left and to the right. Defender headed right. The passage was ten feet wide, with more niches full of bones along the walls. Defender was looking for “stuff” but I was pretty adamant that that was a bad idea. Luckily, we didn’t see anything to test our resolve. The skulls in the niches were humanoid, but not human. I am pretty sure they were hobgoblins. There were smaller branches off the tunnel, but they ended after a short distance, holding more burials. About a hundred feet down the passage, however, we entered another chamber. This one had large columns down the length of it, and stone statues of hobgoblin soldiers against the walls.

This chamber, unlike the others we’d entered, had a set of stone doors at the end of the hall. Better yet, a circular indentation in the middle looked like the lock to fit the disc! Alunys looked for evil while Tomas fit the disc into the indentation, then twisted it - and the lock opened! We shoved at the doors, pushing against the water on both sides, until we could enter the next chamber. This one held a raised altar, above the waterline. Along the walls were six skeletons, dressed in corroded armor. We stepped inside, expecting the skeletons to come to life, but... nothing. Tomas headed for the altar.

On it, he found a clay tablet. It was covered with undecipherable marks - more of the runes like we’d seen on the walls. I’d rather we left it sit, and maybe make a copy somehow, but Alunys decided it was safe to pick up. She felt that it was important to take away the item that the “evil” wanted. The back of the tablet was blank, there was nothing on the table beneath it. I wrapped it up in my bedroll for safety, and we stashed it in Defender’s pack. Tomas checked the altar for any hidden compartments, found nothing, and we left the altar room, locking the door behind us.

We decided to check out the left hand passage before climbing out (no one looked forward to that climb). This one led us past many more burial niches, and ended in another chamber, although this one had no doors. Tomas searched the room and discovered a concealed door. On opening, he found a staircase leading up. So, up we went. The steps led us into a new room, with only one exit - and the passage had collapsed. I thought hard about all of our wandering, and decided that this was not the other side of the collapsed passage by the rats’ room, but we still had reached a dead end. Yet, as I stood there, I noticed a breeze...

The fresh air was coming into the room from somewhere over our heads. We found an air shaft in the corner, a narrow opening that led straight up. I could make out a faint light at the top, so I asked Defender to lift me up, and began to climb. I went slowly, but after thirty feet or so, I reached vegetation. I poked my head through the overgrowth, and found myself in the forest. It looked familiar, so I whistled for Fang, who quickly found me! I asked the others if I should get the rope, they yelled back “Yes!”, and soon everyone was back aboveground, although Defender has a few new scratches to buff out.

It’s only noon, so we’ve decided to head down one last time. We want to check out the other flooded chamber. Even Tomas, since he got soaked in the crypt anyway...

Posted by Kate on March 30, 2007, 22:37

But then

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

Now What

The trip to Varnar would take twelve days on foot or six days by horse (with Defender running, but he’s proud to say that he doesn’t get tired). I wasn’t much for riding, but soon found myself watching the others haggle over the prices of horses, mules, etc. Tomas was being a cheapskate while knowing nothing about animals, but eventually Defender bought two (Alunys has her unicorn). I realistically named mine, “Target”, while Tomas cynically dubbed his, “Shoe”.

The gnome was in no shape to travel with us, even though he needed more care than the village could provide. We promised to send someone for him, and he wrote out a note for us to post to Morgrave University. Finally, we were off to the southeast. The first day was quiet, but on the evening of the second day, as we set up camp, Alunys and I noticed a large wolf approaching from the south.

As it got closer, we realized that it was covered in bony plates; I pulled my bow, warned the others, and let fly, but the arrow bounced right off! The wolf charged me, biting, and I found out the hard way that its jaws were dripping with acid. Fang missed a bite, the unicorn missed its attack, and then Defender and Tomas plowed into the fray. When the wolf turned on Defender, I crawled away to try again, only to see more wolves appearing from nowhere!

The new wolves didn’t have bony plates, at least, but they converged on Tomas for some reason. Alunys shot a smiting arrow at the bony wolf, while Fang attacked a “normal” wolf to draw it away from Tomas. Tomas was rolling on the ground, trying to get away from the pack, and I was slashing away with my scimitar, but two pulled me down again - at least I saw the unicorn finish off the leader of the pack!

Fang and the unicorn attacked the again, while I crawled out of the battle a second time to regain my feet. Fang and the wolves were trading bites, Defender got mauled, and Tomas was unconscious on the ground; Alunys tried to get to him and was pulled from the unicorn’s back! I healed myself up somewhat and rejoined the fight, but there seemed to be more wolves every time I looked around. The unicorn healed Tomas enough to wake him, but now the grass and foliage seemed to come to life and entangle us all. We HAD to find who was behind all of this!

As we began to get the upper hand in the fight, I started scanning the trees around us for a glimpse of the druid that I was now certain was guiding our attackers. Nothing. Even after we finished off all of the wolves, and the entanglement ended, I could catch no hint of whomever set them on us. I was very frustrated! But back to the party; we had a lot of healing to do!

Thankfully, the horses hadn’t scattered far, and eventually we settled down for the night at our original camp. Defender stood watch, while we hoped for the best and went to sleep.

The night was quiet, and the next day. Defender wanted to stop and camp under a lone tree, so that we could sleep in the branches and ambush any possible attackers. I did some more healing, as did the unicorn before disappearing for the night, then climbed into the tree to satisfy Defender’s whim while the others slept below. Fang got my bedroll. The night was quiet, so - onward!

On the sixth day, we arrived in the small city of Varnar. Tomas was disappointed that the city had no wall, therefore not meeting his ideal of a “real city”. Then, he wanted to know about “papers”, which Alunys said we’d take care of in the same place that she had to send the gnome’s message from. And that we could not forge them (with a glare at Tomas!).

After a quick argument over our “reason for travel” - we settled on research - we bought identification papers. Mine even has a portrait of myself and Fang on it. We then headed over to the Silver Flame’s church, then to an inn for a night’s rest. We stopped by House Lyrander to give them news of their airship, which they already knew about, and Tomas suddenly announced that he wanted to sell the gold statue.

Of course, it was way too pricey for this area, and I ended up feeling bad for Alunys, who got a lot of stares - druids and their companions aren’t too rare around here, nor warforged, but she stuck out. Eventually, Tomas gave up on selling the statue (this is a trade center for ranches, not treasure), and ended up putting all his cash and gems in an “account” at the House “bank”. I kept mine in hard currency, thanks!

Finally, we made it back to the inn, and went to bed.

Not for long - I woke up to Alunys screaming “Assassins!!!” and running out the door of our shared room! I leapt out of bed, saw her leaning out the window at one end of the hallway, and turned to look down the stairs at the other end. I saw nothing. Meanwhile, Alunys was shouting for Defender, and I ran to check on Tomas. His door was locked, and he wasn’t answering our shouts!

It took several tries to break the door down, and when we did - the room was empty. I was telling Alunys that they must have gotten to him first when Tomas popped out of hiding, which was a relief, and accused me of trying to get in his bed, which I answered in an unprintable fashion. He claimed not to have heard us knocking, but before we could argue the point, we finally heard the sound of steps on the stairs.

The halfling proprietress was naturally outraged at the ruckus we were raising in her establishment! I told her about the attack (Alunys had hollered out at some point that she’d been hit by a dart), and realized at the same time that Alunys was looking really sick, to the point of sitting down right where she stood. I headed for our room to collect our gear, and discovered that the whole place had been ransacked! My cursing drew Tomas to the door, who accused us of being slobs.

The window was now wide open - and empty, of course. I picked up everything, realized that none of my stuff was gone, and took Alunys her gear, which she quickly checked. None of hers was missing, either! While we were scratching our heads over that, the town guard arrived. Their head investigator was NOT happy with me, as I’d messed up his whole crime scene. I apologized as best I could, told him our story, and offered to pay for the broken-down door. They were able to discover that our lock had been picked, the next question being: why attack the Silver Flame, first?

Defender and Fang and the horses were all right, and he guarded us for the rest of the night. In the morning, I prayed for a lot of spells to restore Alunys’ strength after the poisoning, and we got ready to go. The innkeeper waived our charges as an apology for the attack happening there, and the investigators let me go with a warning not to touch a crime scene next time!

I wonder what they were looking for...

Posted by Kate on July 4, 2007, 00:06