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(11/1/02 9:23 am)
Infiniti Campaign Log
We just started RttToEE last Saturday. We have eight people: one DM (me) and seven players. I hope you enjoy the log (which I wrote) and I only hope it is one tenth as enjoyable as others posted, such as Andorax's and PrinceLorren's.

I've been reading the module for months now and reading every thread I see on this board, but I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions on my campaign! My DM-ing style includes healthy doses of role-playing, combat, traps, and the like. I think I excel on combat scenarios, and my players call me evil so I guess I do well enough!

(11/1/02 9:24 am)
Re: Infiniti Campaign Log
Player Characters:
Shangor Steele - male dwarf, cleric 4 of Moradin (played with a Scottish accent)
Verilia Bluepipe - female halfling, druid 4 (wolfrider, see animal companion)
Kale Fletcher - male human, fighter 4 (tank archer, considering Order of the Bow Initiate)
Corwyn Soorithil - male elf, ranger 2/rogue 2 (considering Dungeon Delver, odd for an elf, loose translation of last name to common is "Moonchaser")
Keth - male human, monk 4 (of the Order of the Iron Cross, dedicated to St. Cuthbert)
Adriana Knightflame - female human, sorceress 4 (hot babe with an attitude)
Sylvan - male elf, wizard 4 (considering Fatespinner, likes to cheat fate and stack the deck in his favor, and is addicted to gambling, also suffering from amnesia from some past event so he does not no where he trained or who he was apprenticed to)

Swift - wolf animal companion of Verilia
Tiny viper familiar of Sylvan (not named...yet)

We are playing in my own world, not Greyhawk. I used to have a web site with color images, but no longer. I'll probably have it back up before this campaign is over, though. The players are from a country called Karacul, a warrior nation comprised by many dwarves (about 40%). Karaculians primarily worship Heironeous, although Moradin plays a large part in their lives, especially for the dwarves. Karacul, a militocracy, is separated from its northern neighbor by a very long mountain range called the finger of Heironeous. It is at the eastern edge of this mountain range, north of the capital city of Khorasan, where I placed Hommlet and the rest. Hommlet has been given autonomy (for the most part) by both Karacul and its neigher, Kaldor. Burne and Rufus pay a small tax to both nations in return for minor help and trade leniencies.

Verilia, Kale, and Keth were all together, last having escorted Rachel, a wizardess and sister to Lord Hajid, a samurai and leader of the town of Tahmista (three days travel west of Khorasan), to her home in the island nation of Barahd. Barahd is a magocracy and lies off the southern coast of Karacul. In Barahd they met Adriana, who was looking for an adventuring party heading towards Khorasan and then to Hommlet. Her uncle, Otho Gyver, sent her a letter stating his worries about a resurging evil.

Upon returning to Tahmista, Kale (a town guard) was asked to investigate the town of Hommlet and the ToEE. Of course, he has been relieved of duty so that Kale would not presume to use his position while investigating Hommlet. Keth was also met by his master and informed of the same mission. Verilia had a strange dream where she saw her instructor wearing an unusual, ochre-colored robe, with a strange, fiery symbol on the back, and standing near the Great Oak. Suddenly, as he touched the Great Oak, flames shot from his arm and enveloped the tree.

Shangor Steele and Corwyn spent time together in the western parts of the Finger of Heironeous. The elf ranger/rogue is strangely interested in dark, dank places, and although he has no interest in becoming a dwarf, he is interested in dungeon delving. The dwarf cleric was informed about Tulian Saltheart's clan disappearing and the rumored existence of the Eye of Tulian. His superiors are in contact with Lord Hajid and arranged for the meeting between them and the arriving party from Barahd in Tahmista. They are to investigate the Saltheart Clan disappearence near Hommlet and Mt. Stalagos, and its rumored association with the ToEE. Corwyn will join him mainly because of the treasure, although on a lesser note, Shangor is his friend.

The final party member, Sylvan, had lost his memory long ago. In fact, he only recently chose his name. Since (or maybe even previously, he doesn't know) he has had visions of fire and mayhem, sometimes while awake. He has been slowly travelling west from Khorasan, perhaps randomly, perhaps fate has determined his path. The high priest of Heironeous in Tahmista has divined the arrival of this strange wizard and determined that he should join the group.

Prelude - A Fiery Meal:
The seven players and their companions arrive in Tahmista in three separate groups. The main people in town, Lord Hajid, the high priest of Heironeous, the monk master of the Order of the Iron Cross, the druid instructor from the Hillfoot Shire, the mayor, and others receive the party at a formal dinner.

Everyone gets introduced. The most notable conversation goes as follows:

Kale: "Corwyn, what do you do?"
Shangor, chiming in: "Mainly he shoots his mouth off, but occasionally he finds the time to pick a lock or disarm a trap."
Corwyn: "<sigh> Dwarves..."
Shangor: "Och, elves..."

Prior to the first remove, Lord Hajid introduced himself and everyone and made a toast to the success of the mission. During the toast, the large candelabra in the middle of the table erupted in a huge gout of flame, spawning a large fire elemental right there on the table! In the first few seconds, Kale, Shangor, and Corwyn leapt onto the table to deal with the elemental up close and personal. Unfortunately, they had to move within its reach and summarily got wasted. In response, the elemental turned and sent flame strikes at the rest of the party decimating them quite easily. In less than two rounds, the entire party was killed or severely injured with the exception of the elf wizard Sylvan. Then the elemental turned to him and said, "You have strayed far from Tessimon, young apprentice, but not far enough. I cannot return you physically, but I will take your soul!" With that, the elemental grabbed the wizard, who felt a wrenching pain throughout his body and closed his eyes, preparing to die. He also felt a mild push from his left and the ranger asking, "Are you okay?" Opening his eyes, he noted that the room was not in shambles from the battle, nor were any of his new comrades burned to a crisp! Another blasted waking vision!

{DM Note: prior to starting the session, I had all the other players in on the ruse and it worked out great! They were told to flub their rolls (natural ones, etc.) and make poor combat choices (move up and then fire a bow, etc.) The wizard player had no idea everyone else was in on it! He got a little worried when party members were keeling over everywhere, but realized something was up when the elemental had combat reflexes and flame strike :) }

Lord Hajid brought in the last known survivor the previous assault on the ToEE, Sir Krestin. The grizzled veteran told stories of his delving into the temple dungeons, of defeating the temple, destroying Yellowskull, releasing Zuggtmoy and whatever else he could remember. He told the party about the leaders of the town Burne and Rufus, Elmo, and Y'Dey and warned them about Nulb. The party asked many questions, and felt they got what they could out of the veteran. The dinner ended, and the following day the party were given riding horses and a cart and then headed off to Hommlet, via Khorasan.

{DM Note: there were no encounters on the way. Sometimes I guess the random encounter dice just don't want encounters!}

Arrival in Hommlet:
In Hommlet, influenced by Adriana, the party first makes it way to Papa's Bakery, where they get a refreshingly good, though light, meal. Otho tells his niece about the ochre-robed figures traveling from the east, which is especially unnerving because the only things to the east are the ToEE, the moathouse, and Nulb! Verilia gets a little upset at this news, wondering again why her instructor was also wearing ochre-colored robes. He also gives her and the rest of the party a quick run-down on key people in Hommlet and its general politics.

They first encounter Chatrilon Unosh in the Inn of the Welcome Wench, heckling the poor elven bard. "Why don't you stick that recorder up your @*#!, it'll sound better!" The party gets an immediate dislike for Chat (especially the elves in the party) and not only do they not believe a word he says, but refuse to allow him to join. They meet Vesta who comforts the bard and attempts to curb Maridosen's bad attitude. They also meet Nierethi Poscurian, but do not talk to him much and after a brief conversation between Sylvan and Nierethi, they quickly decide that he is not suited to join the group. While attempting to talk to Maridosen (who has an attitude problem), the halfling barbarian Questin Himmble enters and tenders an offer to Verilia (the halfling druid with the wolf companion), "Hey, why don't you and me go upstairs and 'get busy'? Bring your wolf, too!" Needless to say, she didn't accept.

Questin then pulls out a dice cup, idling shaking it, hoping to attract the attention of similarly minded folk. Of course, Sylvan's eyes light up and moves in to partake of the action. They quickly engage in a game of Knights, wherein Sylvan attempts to cheat on every roll. As expected, eventually he gets caught and the halfling gets roaring mad! Questin rages, grabs and chair, and breaks it over Sylvan's back! The rest of the party nearly double over in laughter at the site of a raging halfling barbarian! They had thought (as did Sylvan) that Questin was merely a rogue. To cover up his nefarious deed, Sylvan quickly charms the barbarian and the game continues a few more rounds, with the halfling ignoring any furthing cheating attempts.

{DM Note: I made Knights up on the spur of the moment. Roll 4d6 and whoever gets the most fours wins. If you get four ones, you win double the bet amount. In order to cheat, roll a bluff check based on dex, opposed by sense motive based on wisdom, and for every five points over your opponent's roll you get to change one die result. If you cheat and are spotted by more than your dex modifier, you are caught. Questin, though enraged, only attacked with subdual damage and quite easily hit the flat-footed mage's AC of 10.}

The party then meanders around the town, talking to Todariche Nem (the Sage), Y'Dey, and Yundi (Jaroo was not home). Finding out more information, especially after a large donation to St. Cuthbert (Keth's order worships St. Cuthbert and it's been a while, if ever, since he last tithed), the part heads back to the Inn for dinner and a good night's sleep. However, nearly as soon as they enter, Xaod bursts in after them, nudges the ranger aside and stumbles upstairs to the common room. The wizard Sylvan purchases a mug of ale in a pottery mug and follows him. Upon waking the paladin up, Sylvan gives him the mug. While Xaod buries his face in the mug, drinking like a thirsty fish, the wizard casts mirror image. When Xaod looks up again, he seems confused by the number of wizards sitting next to him. "Are you okay? This is my brother", asks Sylvan. Squinting in concentration at the wizard and his images, Xaod replies, "Well, I guess none of you are evil." Sylvan finds out about Xaod's similar visions of fire and mayhem, but, in the end, the party chooses not to bring a drunkard along.

Encounter at the Moathouse - Utreshimon:
The next morning, they decide to investigate the moathouse. On the way, they meet Ol' Del and talk to him for a little bit. Verilia the druid is concerned about the pelts, but then realizes Ol' Del is an experienced trapper and does not trap for sport or for riches, but as a means to support himself, and general eats the animals he traps. Upon mentioning the moathouse, Ol' Del warns the party about the dragon...and they don't believe him! "Yeah, right, old man." "Crazy old coot, probably not even a large lizard." They even ask him the color, which he confidently identifies as blue. Unfortunately, the party now distrusts his opinion so much that they bid him a safe journey and refuse to discuss the moathouse any further!

Well, they arrive at the moathouse. On approaching the drawbridge, the halfling is attacked by the frog, who sticks her with his tongue and pulls her close, but fails to bite. With the help of the rest of the party, the frog is quickly dispatched and a small argument ensues about whether they should harvest the legs of the frog now or later. Corwyn takes a few minutes to study the bridge before deciding that it is safe to cross.

{DM Note: It's amazing sometimes what party members will argue about. "I think we should cut the legs off now and take 'em with us, and I don't care if they do weigh more than 30 pounds apiece!" I only kept the frog encounter due to there being a small-sized party member.}

They see the big smear, correctly identify it as blood and correctly ascertain that it was a body dragged up the stairs and through the double doors. However, they had already forgotten about the blue dragon warning and, without any preparatory spells, move up the stairs!

Utreshimon surprises half the party while charging out the door, albeit slowly, and attacks the monk. Big U, while hovering in the courtyard creates a blinding dust cloud which makes all attacks rather ineffective, assuming the party could even find the dragon and get to him before he moved again.

In response the party moves around so that they are not in a line, with only the cleric casting a spell (resist elements - electricity). The druid casts creeping cold and Big U starts taking damage. No one else seriously hurts the dragon, however. Utreshimon concentrates all of his attacks on the monk and takes him down pretty quickly, with a final swipe of a wing while the monk drops to the ground. Surprisingly, the monk is still alive, but spurting blood everywhere.

The combat fares little better for the party as they cast relatively ineffectual spells (flaming sphere and faerie fire by the druid, flaming sphere and mirror image by the wizard), although when the dust settled a magic missile and fireball off a scroll from the sorcerer injures the dragon. The druid took a big hit from an AoO while casting faeire fire right next to Utreshimon, and made the concentration check! They also miss on most melee and missile attacks. Big U then moves into a hovering position over the fighter, provoking attacks of opportunity, and cranking up the power attack. At one point, Corwyn made a critical hit (threat plus confirmation) and another critical threat, but both missed due to the concealment, even with Corwyn's blind-fighting!

{DM Note: Big U gets a pretty good save, and he made it quite easily against the flaming sphere. However, while not damaging the dragon, the flaming sphere did force him to move about. I rolled a 2 for Utreshimon's initiative!}

A couple of lucky hits by the fighter and the ranger cause Big U to unleash his breath weapon on them, including the wolf. The fighter gets injured, the ranger/rogue evades the lightning, and the wolf drops like a pelt. At this point, the cleric finally manages to get to the monk (a dwarf in medium armor moving while blind is very slow) and heals him in the nick of time. After the dust dies down, the mages open up magic missiles, and everyone gets in a few good licks. Big U puts on max power attack and bites the fighter really hard, then moves to the top of the wall to breath again. After some misses and some small damage, Utreshimon attacks the mage one more time, then flees southward, bleeding from many wounds. One more successful crossbow bolt for only minor damage and then Big U escapes. The druid managed to stabilize her wolf before it expires.

{DM Note: I treat animal companions like player characters. The wolf was at -8 when stabilized and the monk was at -9. The party got really scared when the dragon put 12 points into power attack on the bite! All in all, it was a successful combat. The key was the party not staying in a line so as to avoid everyone taking damage from a lightning breath weapon. This is where the session ended.}

(11/1/02 9:17 pm)
Re: Infiniti Campaign Log
Great write up. I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more. Sounds like your prior reading of these boards and the module in general has done you good.

Cordo Crowfoot
(11/1/02 9:20 pm)
Re: Infiniti Campaign Log
Sounds like a great session, and you are lucky to have such good players. I especially like Sylvan's vision, getting all the other players in on the ruse, good stuff. :)

My only comment is that I don't know if I would let a charm person be so easily brushed off, both by Vesta, who almost had a fight and someone casting spells on another person in her common room, and by Questin, who is going to realize what happened the next day. I don't think he would be happy.

(11/1/02 9:54 pm)
Re: Infiniti Campaign Log
Thanks to you both! Actually, it isn't even the next day yet, we stopped immediately after the battle with Big U - the future King of the Hobgoblins!, and they will learn soon that all actions have consequences, some of them being very harsh. In this case, Questin will take it personally on Sylvan (any ideas on how he would react besides just ho-hum fighting?), Xaod will also react - I'm thinking one single punch to the nose without his gauntlet - "You mess with me again, I'll kill ya. Call me Francis...", and Vesta will have a little talk with Elmo about people bewitching her paying customers.

In addition, Maridosen has relayed the necessary information to Dunrat, who will get Chatrilon to shadow the PC's. In my view (and thus Dunrat's), a wizard who can cast charm person very well is someone who is to be feared. I'm thinking that Chat will be given the instructions to attempt to divide and conquer the party. Perhaps Sylvan would prosper more under the proper tutelage? "Hey, I heard about what you did to Questin and Xaod...impressive. My employer might be interested in acquiring your services from time to time. If not, well, I hope you can breathe underwater." :evil

(11/8/02 6:14 pm)
Session Two
Moathouse - Upper Level
After having just routed Utreshimon, the hearty and hardy adventurers heal up somewhat using spells and potions (bringing both the monk Keth and the wolf Swift to consciousness). The druid Verilia then instructs her animal companion Swift to remain at the rear of the party, where he should be safe from further injury.

One by one, with the ranger Corwyn leading the way, the group moves into the Great Hall. They first spot the half-eaten body of the cleric and stare in muted silence, being more concerned with the fact that it is wearing ochre-colored robes than with the fact that it is half-eaten. Perhaps Utreshimon is not in alliance with the forces that previously controlled the moathouse? Corwyn then spies the female corpse in the northwestern corner and moves to investigate. However, no one seems willing to touch the body in the center of the room, due in large part to the unusual placement of a heavy mace on top of the corpse, but Kale overcomes his fear and searches both bodies. Sylvan determines which of the equipment from the bodies is magical, and Utreshimon's former hoard gets distributed. Shangor, Verilia, and Sylvan try to determine the history of the triangular holy symbols with the upside down 'Y' and the relevance of the lilac mask, to no avail.

{DM Note: I had planned to used the magic item "enhancements" posted on the board, but forgot about it when they grabbed the mace. I am going to have the mace "awaken," throbbing with a dull ochre color (ten foot radius) when it is grasped in the presence of an altar or the obelisk. From there on, it will always throb when held and feel cold to the touch, even through the wooden haft, but it will have no additional effects. The sorceress Adriana currently has it.}

The party then searches the northwestern portion of the moathouse, staying out of the stairwell and moving quietly around it. They find some of the equipment in the ruined mess hall to the west, the dwarf Shangor being particularly entranced in a shapely rock. The trophy room disturbs Verilia greatly and she fervently vows revenge upon whoever glorified the slaughter of innocent animals. She starts pulling down the stuffed animal heads and piling them up in one corner while the rest of her group continues to investigate the southeastern corridor.

Corwyn and and the archer Kale take the lead in investigating the remaining rooms. They stumble upon a family of bats in the room with the previously fine tapestries. Calling for help from Verilia, communication with the bats reveals that the only horror nearby is the large frog residing in the moat. That frog's large enough to eat bats, not the other way around, and it scares the guano out of them! They have already lost (insert name of bat in a very high-pitched whine). Fortunately, our heroes have already killed the frog and the family of bats is comforted by assurances from Verilia. Indeed, one (presumably a younger child) flies out to investigate and perhaps partake of the ready supply of food.

{DM Note: My party has better than average magical items for their level, although I don't feel it is too unbalancing. In this case, Verilia has a torc of animal speech. BTW, you pronounce her name like verily-a, named by her parents who respect truth.}

While Kale searches the room with the festering rodent (he hates rats), Corwyn moves off into the large chamber in the southeastern corner of the moathouse to investigate it alone. Everyone else stays behind in the Great Hall or in the corridor. As Corywn moves closer to the rubble that opens out into the moat itself, a grey jelly-like substance rears up from the rocks and makes a surprise attack on the ranger's mithril chain shirt! Fortunately, the ooze misses and Corwyn's immediate reaction is to retreat down the corridor. The ooze, sensing that it missed its only opprtunity, moves off into the water and disappears from sight. The party is glad to be rid of it and not have to fight.

Black Room
Corwyn opens the door to the Black Room and, at first, refuses to enter. He studies the threshold and scrutinizes the room from outside the doorway. Eventually, pulling together his courage, he enters the room and searches it more carefully. Everyone else then enters, all noting the rubble in the southeast corner and how, contrary to where the grey ooze laired, this corner is carefully blocked off from the moat. After finding nothing, the party decides this is an altar room of some sort, painfully trying to recall some lost religious or even arcane details about the black wall hangings. Accordingly, they search the room in great detail and Corwyn finally notices the hidden staircase behind a secret door. Amazingly, without fear this time, he immediately moves down the stairway, followed bravely by Kale, Shangor, Verilia, Adriana, Sylvan (with his viper hidden in a pocket), Keth, and Swift.

{DM Note: I rolled for the two elves to automatically detect this door and the one leading to the portcullis at the bottom of the stairs, but they both failed. IIRC, Corwyn gets +12 on his rolls, so he has a reasonable chance.}

Pillar Room
At the bottom of the staircase, a heated discussion erupts on how to best proceed through the doorway. Eventually, Corwyn listens at the door and he hears footsteps approaching his location. He decides to open the door and move to the inside of the room, allowing his comrades to join him in the event of hostilities. He already has his weapon out, so he opens the door, steps just inside and to the left inside the room, and surprises an approaching gnoll by swinging his sword in front of its face. He immediately follows up with another strike, but misses, and then draws his second weapon. Being a ranger certainly has its advantages, if only he could hit once in a while.

The lone human opponent, a female cleric, opens up a door on the south wall, and bolsters a group of undead, which is out of the party's sight. The gnolls then move into position around Corwyn, simultaneously blocking the secret passage and any others in the passage from exiting. Kale, second in line, attempts to force one gnoll from the entranceway and gets sliced up by a battleaxe in return. However, he still manages to push the gnoll a good five feet from the door. Corwyn gets an attack of opportunity on the gnoll, but his sword still refuses to find purchase. The rest of the party move up a little, but are otherwise unable to effectively attack or aid their companions. Shangor tries to swing his warhammer at the gnoll and is hampered by the cover from the edge of the doorway.

Corwyn slashes at the gnoll twice and only strikes the gnoll once, wounding him slightly on the shoulder. The cleric then commands the undead to attack, and steps into the same room in order to cast some buffer spells while remaining out of the line of sight of her enemies. She starts with bless, making the gnolls less inclined to flee if things start going badly.

{Dm Note: At this point Corwyn is in the southeastern most corner and did not spot the secret door. He is also effectively blocking that particular path of retreat for the gnolls.}

The gnoll attempts to push Kale back into Shangor (who moved up), but fails miserably. Clearly, the fighter has muscle. Kale has yet to draw a weapon so he does not attack the gnoll as it tries to bull rush him. The other gnoll swings futilely at the agile Corwyn and only succeeds in scoring the pillar. In return for the bull rush, Kale draws his longsword and slices up the gnoll's face, who reels and nearly falls. Still in the stairway, Adriana casts invibility. Shangor once again swipes at the gnoll through the doorway and misses. No one else is able to take an action.

Corwyn attacks the gnoll and hits once with the off-hand weapon, but still does not manage to bring his opponent down. The cleric then peeks around the corner and casts random action on Corwyn, who barely succeeds in resisting its effects. The skeletons then move out and nearly fill up the entire room. Only a few, however, including the large skeleton, are able to attack and none seriously injure Corwyn or Kale. Kale finally takes out the gnoll with another swing and steps a little further into the room, allowing himself to be surrounded by skeletons. The last gnoll makes a valiant attempt on Corwyn and slashes him across the shoulder. Shangor steps up to the secret doorway and calls upon the might of Moradin to vanquish his undead foes. However, he fails to affect the bolstered undead, and they ignore his attempt. Verilia peeks into the room and starts to summon an ally.

Corwyn, still unable to hurt the gnoll badly, attacks with only his primary weapon and scores a large gash across the beast's belly. The cleric, sensing victory, cackles, "You shall not prevail against the dread power of the Elder Elemental Eye! Surrender now and I shall grant you a mercifully pleasant passage into oblivion! Hee hee hee!" She follows her cackling with a glare at Corwyn, and casts resistance. The remaining gnoll decides to let the skeletons tear up the invaders and moves to the northwestern corner, being careful to not step on the pristine white sheet. Kale destroys the nearest skeleton, even though he's attacking with a longsword, and makes room for Shangor. Shangor steps into the room and tries again to banish the undead. This time he succeeds and all but obliterates them! Verilia completes her summoning of a dog and positions it in front of the cleric, and its first bite finds an opening in the heavily armored priestess and its fangs sink deep into her leg! Verilia then moves to the north wall and attempts a spell on the gnoll, but it resists. Now able to maneuver in the room, Adriana moves invisibly towards the north wall and Sylvan moves up.

{DM Note: Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the rules on bolstering so I ran it poorly for the bad guys. Gren got +3 levels (making them all 5HD), which made them harder for Shangor to turn, but I used their original HD for damage, so he destroyed them all once he was able to turn them. Oh well, I now realize my error and informed the party about the actual rule so they will be better prepared in the future if a group full of bolstered skeletons don't get destroyed.}

Corwyn moves next to the dog and attacks the cleric through the doorway. Unfortunately, due to the cover of the door, he misses. The cleric then commands the druid Verilia to sleep and, as Verilia slumps against the wall breathing soundly, she orders the gnoll to kill her. As the cleric ignores the futile attack of opportunity from the dog, she draws her weapon, prepared to take on the ranger personally. Finally able to do something, Sylvan steps into the room and casts charm person on the cleric, but she remarkably manages to resist. Adriana then moves up to just in front of the gnoll, who is preparing to coup-de-grace the sleeping druid, and fires her loaded crossbow right into its unsuspecting face. Bam! The hyena-looking freak falls to the cold stone with a bolt sticking out of its eye.

The dog attracts the full fury of the cleric. Corwyn manages to tumble through her, but not without getting a bruise on the back from her morningstar, then leaps up behind her and strikes the priestess through the heart from a flanking position! The party quickly searches the body and the room, using another detect magic spell to locate the most important items.

{DM Note: Most important -- in their mind. For some reason, they got really worried about the white blanket on the floor. They were amazed when I described it as pristine and really white and thought it had some religious significance or unseen magical power. It wasn't until I explained that some splattered blood was on it that they relaxed. I do these little things every once in a while to keep them on their toes and, probably because I'm a little evil. :evil They'll have a comprehend languages ready the following day, if they live. Verilia missed her save on the command by one and got really worried about the order to the gnoll. Fortunately, Adriana was there, and invisible, and critted! Also, Corwyn critted on his sneak attack behind Gren!}

Torture Chamber
After completing their search of the chamber with all the skeleton dust, Corwyn listens at the westernmost door and hears footsteps approaching. He readies his primary weapon, opens the door...and totally misses the approaching gnoll! However, before either can react, Keth tumbles through the gnoll and pops up behind him, then snaps the his neck with a hard twist. Another gnoll is seen at the southern end of the new room, just outside the door. Frightened from the viscious attack, he flees up the staircase as the rest of the party moves into the new room and beyond to the southern corridor.

Remarkably, no one follows the gnoll and the monk Keth proceeds down the corridor. He ignores the stench and the cold eminating from the room to the east. Passing by the second column, Keth is surprised by a blood-curdling scream and an attack from a ghoulish creature. He feels his muscles begin to stiffen, but manages to fight off the effects.

Others in the party move closer, leaving Sylvan in the room to the north (not the room with the secret door). Three more creatures attack from the eastern room, but two of them are quickly turned by the cleric of Moradin, Shangor Steele, and flee to the corner. After only a few more seconds, and with little problem, the adventurers destroy the undead monsters.

Keth, Corwyn, and Shangor move into the torture chamber, not minding at first the strong stench of death, decay, and dried blood. They attempt to search it thoroughly, but give up in a few minutes due to the cold and the smell. Shangor, in particular, looks visibly upset at the implements of torture in the room. Meanwhile, Sylvan remains in the adjoining room to the north, apparently comforting his viper. Adriana laughs as Kale searches the dead bodies of the ghouls, but her laughter is cut short when his efforts turn up with a gold ring! They search the cells to no avail and finally move to the two doors in the west, beyond the stairs.

{DM Note: We have great fun with Sylvan and his "trouser snake." :) }

As Kale moves past the stairwell, a bedraggled Spugnoir peeks out from behind an opening door. A tense moment ensues, but fortunately Kale does not react violently. After a few brief words, Verilia gives Spugnoir food and water and Sylvan steps up and offers the wizard a potion of healing and the group quickly befriends the potion seller. From Spugnoir, they find out a little more about the moathouse: that there is a much larger eastern portion beyond some secret door, a secret entrance is about a quarter of a mile east, and this outpost, the moathouse, is where Lareth the Beautiful made his final stand and was killed in his quarters, near the secret entrance. Canoness Y'Dey is rumored to have struck the final blow, disfiguring Lareth for death's embrace!

Spugnoir promises to replenish Sylvan's potion, possibly trading spells at a later date, and offers the group a significant discount. He also agrees to join with the party temporarily, but warns them he is very low on spells. Unbeknownst to Spugnoir, so is the party!

{DM Note: The last gnoll moved back around to the secret door entrance in the black room that the party used. He went into the room with the five pillars and out the other secret door. I rolled many times for Sylvan to see or hear him but they all failed! He is going to alert Garrik and the clerics. The bad guy's plan will be to set up bait, and lure the party into the passageway with the portcullis. Then, upon a signal, the trap will be loosed, cutting off one or two party members. with covering fire from their bows (including Garrik's) half the gnolls will move in to grapple and overbear the lone PC. They will them strip the PC of equipment and throw him/her onto the obelisk to "feed" their dread deity. Ysslansh will summon a fiendish dire rat behind the players attempting to lift the portcullis, then retreat to the room with the shaft to prepare for an attack and finish up. Geynor Ton will stay with the gnolls and cast bless and other spells, finally using ranged weapons until either the party breaks through or one of the party members is captured. The best thing the players have going is the archer Kale. Anyone know what kind of cover/concealment bonuses the portcullis itself might provide?}

(11/16/02 11:12 am)
Session Three
Abduction of a Monkchkin
The heroes and Spugnoir politely discuss potions, spells, and the weather while the last gnoll moves up the main stairs, back towards the same secret staircase the party used, and into the secret corridor to warn his superior, Garrik, and the remaining clerics about the intrusion. Although Sylvan is in an adjoining room when the gnoll opens up the secret door, he neither spots the movement through the open door nor hears it. Unfortunately for the brave adventurers, the gnolls and clerics have plenty of time to prepare a trap.

One gnoll waits by the trap-springing mechanism. One serves as bait. Three prepare to ambush and grapple any PC's trapped on their side of the portcullis. Garrik and the last two prepare to provide covering fire through the portcullis for the gnolls attempting to capture the PC's. The stinking troglodyte cleric Ysslansh prepares to summon a fiendish dire rat on the other side of the gate. Lastly, the human cleric of the Elder Elemental Eye, Geynor Ton, prepares a bless spell and loads his crossbow for additional covering fire.

Kale Fletcher, the human archer, spots the bait and immediately follows him towards the portcullis, ignoring the chorus of "Don't! It's a trap!" behind him. The elven ranger Corwyn and the human munchkin monk Keth also ignoring the warnings and follow, Keth himself yelling about traps. Unfortunately for the monk, he is much faster than his comrades and nearly catches the gnoll who had a huge lead. As Keth passes underneath the portcullis, Garrik yells out "Grfghh Ulg!", which roughly translates into "Active the bloody portcullis mechanism, you great oaf!" in gnoll. The portcullis slams down behind Keth and just in front of Corwyn, almost cutting him open. As the rest of the party approaches, a huge battle ensues.

Ysslansh's plan starts working well, except that the gnolls cannot grab the monk, who continuously smacks them with his shocking kama. Fed up with the electricity from the kama, one gnoll disarms the monk. Feeling better, another tries to step in again, only to get a backfist to the bridge of the nose. The third gnoll picks up the kama and tries to hit Keth with it, failing miserably. Keth, livid that the ugly hyena would touch his weapon, given to him by the grace of St. Cuthbert, yanks the weapon out of the gnoll's surprised hands and jabs the pointy end into the gnoll's ear, killing him instantly.

Ysslansh summons a fiendish dire rat near Verilia, then moves away down the corridor to prepare. Kale and the gnolls trade missile fire. Spugnoir steps up and blasts Geynor with his last remaining spell, a magic missile, nearly dropping him. In retaliation, the cleric steps around the corner to drink a potion of healing. Verilia, seeing this, yells out, "Hey! That's one of our items!" and draws her sickle to attack the rat.

The elven wizard Sylvan comes up with an ingenious plan, clearly dictated to him from the depths of the fox's cunning spell that is still in effect from the fight with Utreshimon (which seems like so long ago). First, he casts daze on the gnoll ranger, who promptly fails his save. Corwyn, planning on going ranger-a-ranger with Garrik, sees an opportune moment to do some serious damage while the opponent ranger cannot attack. Suddenly, Geynor Ton steps back into view and casts random action on Corwyn, who likewise fails his save! Sylvan then sends his viper familiar in to attack Garrik, who cannot take the attack of opportunity from the tiny snake entering his personal space. The snake misses and when Garrik can move, he steps back and hacks the viper, almost cutting it in two. Corwyn then spends the round swearing in Elven at the top of his lungs at the enemy ranger.

Verilia orders her wolf animal companion Swift to wait around the corner while she and Adriana dispatch the fiendish dire rat. Verilia, Kale, Shangor the dwarven cleric of Moradin, and Corwyn then try to work together to lift the portcullis, taking fire from the gnolls. Spugnoir and Adriana the human sorceress return the gnolls' fire, but to little effect. One gnoll drops his bow, pulls out a battleaxe and hacks at Shangor through the bars. Corwyn and Verilia pour acid on the bars and then start hacking at them. They have great difficulty trying to lift the gate. Adriana attempts a magic missile spell at Garrik, to end his threat once and for all. However, when the missiles hit his chest, they are absorbed into the blue medallion around his neck! The gnoll ranger is wearing a brooch of shielding! The dog!

Meanwhile, the remaining gnolls on the other side of the portcullis block Keth's movement towards his party. They also give up any hope of grappling the expert in unarmed combat, pull out their battleaxes, and hack into his body. This is far more successful and within seconds, Keth is laying on the stone, bleeding from a huge gash across his chest. Geynor, knowing Ysslansh wants the prisoner alive, immediately binds Keth's wounds. One of the gnolls then heaves the monk on his shoulder and starts making his way to the pit chamber. The other gnolls soon follow, and the party still struggles to lift the gate. Where's a half-orc barbarian in the party when you need one?

Sylvan comments that they should just cut their losses and leave Keth to his fate. After all, no one made the monk chase after the gnoll. Perhaps this was his destiny? So, Sylvan picks up his injured viper, named Ace, and tries for an indirect tactic and starts searching for more secret doors in the adjoining room down the hall, ignoring the words written in blood of "Ogres must die!"

The Longest Corridor
Eventually, with a combined effort the party lifts the portcullis. Sylvan warns, "I didn't get to whatever age I am by being foolish. At least I think I didn't. Probably." The group of heroes moves down the winding corridor, only to be ambushed again by Garrik, Geynor Ton, and two other gnolls with bows. Corwyn is first in line and absorbs a couple of shots. The two sides then trade missile fire and the gnolls eventually run up, blocking the advancing party.

Garrik gets wounded and tries to run away, making it just to the southeastern door before taking an arrow in the back and dropping. Geynor Ton, the last enemy left, also decides that retreat is a good option and steps over Garrik's body, kicking it, mumbling "Pathetic." He steps through the door and closes it behind him. The party continues to follow the retreating cleric, ignoring for now the bodies of the gnolls on the floor.

Geynor Ton runs down the hall, dodging the missile fire from his opponents, who have followed through the door. He makes it past the ghast on the top of the stairs and turns around, continuing to fire his crossbow. The party approaches the ghast and they try to take it down quickly. The undead monster, however, buys Geynor enough time to make it back to the pit chamber, where the real battle awaits.

The Pit Chamber
By the time the party makes it to the chamber at the bottom of the staircase down the longest corridor, Ysslansh, three gnolls, and Geynor Ton have prepared. As Kale turns the corner he gets three arrows in the face and sees the troglodyte on the platform, holding the rope that seems to be holding the platform up. With his free hand, the troglodyte casts obscuring mist and the room is concealed.

The battle rages for quite a while. Ysslansh readies his shield in the following round and merely waits to drop the platform as soon as an opponent steps onto it. The gnolls hold off the party members for a while, but eventually the party is too much and they defeat the gnolls. Geynor Ton is the last to go and drops in the corner. Ysslansh eventually drops the platform in frustration as no heroes take the bait. Realizing that the troglodyte is too difficult to hit, Kale drops his weapons and grapples him.

Sylvan, for some inexplicable reason, stabilizes Geynor Ton in the corner, then searches him. Then, after verifying that Sylvan takes all the valuables from his body (except the shield and armor), Corwyn heaves the cleric's body into the pit, expecting a reaction from the grappling lizard and getting none. Others join in the grapple with the troglodyte, pummeling the monster and eventually knock him out. Adriana then beats the tar out of the unconscious body, bashing its head in with her new magical mace. Corwyn also heaves the lizard body into the pit.

The party has a momentary scare when Adriana walks near the 3'x3' stone statue and her maces begins throbbing with a dull ochere light. However, all it does it vibrate a little and emit a light within a ten foot radius, so they seem relieved. She does, however, move away from the statue, but the throbbing continues as long as the mace is held. Sylvan and Spugnoir examine the statue closely and come to the conclusion that the different colors, and thus figures engraved on the surface, represent different factions of the evil elemental temple. Sylvan thinks that the figures themselves are representative of the leaders of the temple. The statue will clearly require more study, but it will have to wait until everyone's healed.

Regrouping in the room with all the beds, the party searches all the bodies. Verilia then realizes that Garrik is still alive! She ties up the gnoll ranger and the party begins to decide their next course of action. Will it be to leave? Hole up somewhere for the night (no one has spells and everyone is badly injured)? Continue exploring? This last doesn't seem like a good option, especially after spotting another ghoul down the western corridor, even if it wasn't coming towards them.

{DM Note: Garrik unbelievably stabilized at -1. I ruled that the ghouls wouldn't leave the crypts. They don't really know that the party members are good guys yet. This was a long session, being almost entirely combat and lasting from 7:30PM to 2:30AM.}

The Death of a Monk
Before the big battle, Ysslansh, Geynor Ton, and two gnolls took the naked form of Keth down to the top of the obelisk on the first platform. While two gnolls held him up, Ysslansh dumped a potion of healing down his throat and then pushed the monk off the platform onto the obelisk. Witnessing the results of the effects of the obelisk on a hapless gnoll a few days ago, Ysslansh figured that this would help feed his dread deity.

Keth wakes up to a numbing pain, surrounded by writhing, purplish veins on the convex stone floor. Or, is it a metal floor? Iron? No time to really think about it, though. He stands up in the dark gloom and, picking a direction at random, heads north. Suffering more loss of strength, Keth then chooses randomly again and runs clockwise around the top of the obelisk, noticing that there is a wall in the huge chamber about 15 feet away. Nearly falling off the obelisk to the unknown depths below, the monk miraculously makes it to the second platform.

Very low on strength, he still manages to pull himself up. He figures out that the platform can go both up and down, but decides up is the better option. Too bad he didn't consider staying in place.

Reaching the top of the cavern, Keth looks around for a way out. Before he can respond, a grell comes out of the darkness and paralyzes him on its first attack! The venom from the spiked tentacle courses through Keth's veins, and he can only agonize in horror as the monstrous brain-like creature begins to chew on his body. Little does he realize as his life ebbs that he dies a more merciful death than he would have suffered on top of the obelisk. At least his soul will reside with St. Cuthbert.

Edit: spelling - nothing "wibrates", unintentional bump :)

Edited by: Infiniti2000 at: 11/20/02 7:52:13 pm
(11/26/02 3:39 pm)
Session Four
The Night Watch
After a very long and arduous day, especially after losing Keth, the party decides to rest the night in the oddly shaped room with the smelly bed, musty pipe, and old cup of coffee. They move the six beds (one with a box on it) from the room to the east, setup a watch order, and promptly go to sleep. They leave the box untouched because it emits a magical essence upon casting detect magic. The humans of the party break up the watch for five hours or so and then let the elves take over until about morning.

During the night, when the elves Corwyn and Sylvan are on watch, Corwyn hears the portcullis rattle. Remembering that he left the portcullis lowered, Corwyn moves out into the next room and listens more intently at the hallway to the north, but doesn't move any further to investigate. He doesn't hear anything else and tells Sylvan about it.

The wizard Sylvan pulls out Ace, his viper familiar. Ace got his name from the card Sylvan drew during a big card game many years ago. The memory of the card game is still foggy, like the rest of his amnesia-clouded memory, but Sylvan does know that that is when Ace got his name, certainly not from that bitch...who? The fog is too thick.

Not quite able to speak coherently with his own familiar yet, Sylvan wakes up the druid Verilia. The halfling uses her powerful Torc of Animal Speech to ask Ace to investigate the portcullis, but "Stay out of sight! And stay out of trouble!" The viper does so and notices nothing unusual. He returns and reports as much to Verilia, who reiterates the information to the snake's master.

{DM Note: At this point, the player who lost Keth is still creating a new character, a human fighter (strong melee is something this party needs). To quickly bring him into the group, I made him a prisoner of Garrik and placed him in the small room north of the portcullis trap door. Gaynor Ton ordered Garrik not to kill him yet.}

Er, Welcome to the Group
In the morning, everyone woke up slightly more refreshed and prepared for a new day. Even Garrik woke up, though he was in a foul mood, especially towards his human captors. The party decides to question the gnoll ranger, but he only responds to the dwarf cleric, Shangor Steele of Moradin. Shangor bargains that if Garrik tells them everything he knows, he will be allowed to leave and keep his armor, but not his weapons. Garrik readily agrees, used to being treated far worse under the rule of Master Thaque and then Ysslansh. The gnoll tells Shangor of the human prisoner in the small northern room near the portcullis trap door, that the other human prisoner was dropped onto the Obelisk to be fed to Ysslansh's dread deity, and how the portcullis operates. He also told them that he lost a gnoll warrior when first investigating the obelisk and that he was sucked into the obelisk, which seems to sap your strength.

Having gathered what information they could from Garrik, they adhere to Shangor's word and let him go free, while the party stays in the odd-shaped room to plan and prepare further. Sylvan casts comprehend languages in order to read the scroll from the small black tube and uncovers a little about some dark ritual involving something called the Black Cyst, but his reading is interrupted by Spugnoir, who says, "Er, how do we know Garrik is leaving? Isn't that the same way to the human prisoner he told us about? Doesn't he seem to hate humans?"

{DM Note: Yes, I was nice. I really didn't think the player deserved to lose his character before he even finished making him! To his credit, he didn't say a word and knew full well that his character was about to die.}

Adriana exclaims, "Oh, crap!" Everyone rushes out of the room towards the northeast of the dungeon to stop Garrik from killing anothe prisoner. By the time they get there, Garrik has tried to get his hands around the prisoner's throat, but failed. Instead, he has grabbed a longsword from the room to the north and begins to slice him up. Although this is a pretty easy job, it takes a little too long, and the party catches up. After a brief battle, Garrik is killed, and their potential new companion is brought conscious, barely having survived his imprisonment.

{DM Note: new character - Aldoroc, 4th level human fighter, very strong (21 strength, 18 +1 at fourth level, +2 for Gauntlets of Ogre Power), cleave and great cleave.}

The party unbinds Aldoroc and talks to him for about 30 minutes, temporarily agreeing to allow him to join the group. They search the room to the north and uncover some equipment, most noticeably Aldoroc's breastplate and some of his other confiscated equipment.

The group moves back into the odd-shaped room, now with Garrik's magical armor, and investigates the box. Corwyn attempts to disable the trap, and accidentally triggers it! Fortunately, he ducks entirely out of the way to avoid the spray of acid. Inside the box, he finds the remaining equipment from Keth and the clerics, and some other magical items that belong to Aldoroc.

At this point, Spugnoir decides to leave for home, asking if anyone wants to join him. The party refuses and wishes Spugnoir luck on his journey back to Hommlet. Spugnoir promises to see them again at his potion shop or for a drink at the Inn of the Welcome Wench.

{DM Note: I figured Spugnoir wouldn't continue for a complete exploration, especially since he left his spellbook at home.}

The Crypts
Spurred on by the new presence of a strong melee combatant, the group decides to investigate the rooms to the west. Moving slowly into the dank, cobweb-filled crypts, Corwyn and Kale lead the party. Suddenly, ghouls burst from nearby sarcophagi and attack. One ghoul from the far side of the chamber charges Kale, bites a chunk out of his shoulder, and paralyzes him. Unfortunately, no one is near enough to keep the same ghoul from attempting to rip out Kale's throat. However, little enough damage is done that Kale saves against the threat and the ghouls are summarily defeated. A few minutes later, Kale breaks out of the paralysis. Everyone searches through the crypts more thoroughly and find nothing except the exit into the ghoul warrens to the south and a secret door to the north.

Deciding on investigating the secret door first, Corwyn once again takes up the lead. Finding no traps on the door, he opens it up to find a dusty and dark passageway that leads north out of sight. Shangor informs him that it runs no more than fifty feet or so and then turns left. He gets all the way to the iron rung ladder leading up to nowhere, when Kale steps in front and starts climbing the ladder. Kale gets to the top, finds the secret door, and then opens it find a ghast staring him in the face!

The ghast immediately attacks, but miraculously misses. Kale climbs down twenty feet and then drops the last ten feet, more concerned about an uncontrolled drop while paralyzed than a mere drop of ten feet. The undead spawn also drops and lands on Kale, injuring them both. Corwyn helps Kale dispatch the undead quickly, with only minor bruises on the archer. Kale then climbs back up to confirm that the ladder terminates in the torture chamber upstairs that no one really wanted to search thoroughly before; for obvious reasons.

The Forestchickens
Corwyn checks out only about thirty feet into the ghoul warrens and decides not to investigate them further yet. The party agrees and, instead, they investigate the strange wall to the east, at the end of the southeast passage. Using his knowledge in the arcane arts and his training at spellcraft, Sylvan identifies the wall as a wall of stone, although an unusually thick one since it doesn't sound so hollow. Shangor cleverly draws a pick and heaves to, cutting a hole in the wall big enough for even a chubby dwarf.

Continuing down the very dusty corridor, they exit through a door into much fresher air. The corridor to the east smells of open air and probably leads out to the abandoned cottage and well that Spugnoir spoke of. However, the party bravely decides to check out the single door immediately to the north. Corwyn hears nothing, opens the door and moves slowly down the passage, accompanied by Aldoroc. Upon seeing the slightly broken, lifelike rat statue, they get nervous and more cautious, but are still surprised by the leather-skinned lizard-like chickens! Corwyn immediately recognizes them as cockatrices, and although he hates them with a passion, he decides that running is currently the best option.

Unfortunately, the cockatrices can actually fly and fly very quickly. The unwanted battle ensues anyway. The party eventually kills the dreaded lizard-turkeys, but not without cost. Aldoroc is turned to stone and the group despairs of getting him free from the petrification.

Thinking the area clean, they continue exploring, uncovering the last cockatrice. With a combined assault, the last monster is defeated quickly. They search the final rooms, uncovering the dead, disease-ridden body of a former worshipper of Lolth. Remembering that at one time that Lareth the Beautiful worshipped Lolth and that he resided in likely these very chambers, they presume the body to be his. However, they also recount a story where Lareth the Beautiful was struck down by a blow to the face from Y'Dey's mace. Which is true?

The Death of Spugnoir
While contemplating the discovery of the body, the loss of the monk, and the petrification of the new comrade, the party decides to head back to Hommlet. However, they do not want to leave the statue alone and want to bring Y'Dey to the moathouse in order to free Aldoroc from his enchantment. So, Verilia, the fastest member of the party (while riding her wolf Swift) begins the journey to Hommlet.

Only a mile from the moathouse, she spots an arm sticking out of a bush. Upon closer examination she realizes that it is Spugnoir, who has been looted and apparently died from a single strike through the heart from the back. The druid immediately hops on Swift and returns the moathouse to inform the rest of the party. The group is understandably shocked, upset, and frightened at the prospect of an assassin knowing their location, and desiring to kill them.

{DM Note: Chat obviously killed Spugnoir, who failed his fort save by 1! Chat was the one rattling the portcullis. I wanted to give the party a scare. Unfortunately, it didn't help as Verilia started travelling alone. I rolled her spot opposed to Chat's search (reverse hide). Both were 20 so she saw the body. This was a poor session. The group was very upset and things didn't go well. That's one reason why this update is late. It's also useful to note that we already had the next session and it went much better. You'll see later this week.}

(12/4/02 9:08 pm)
Session Five
The Journey to Hommlet
The party decides to leave in the morning, rather than risk the journey to Hommlet in the middle of the night while an assassin is free and obviously targeting them. They prepare for an evening in the torn up room where they found the disease-ridden body, bundling up to stave off the cold air from the encroaching winter. At least, all of them do except those on watch.

Early in the wee hours of the morning, Sylvan is on watch with Swift, Verilia's animal companion. Swift moves slowly towards the door, growling. He seems to have caught a whiff of something, from the other side of the door, or perhaps heard something beyond the ability of elven ears. Sylvan moves closer to the door and listens, but still hears nothing. After a few minutes, Swift calms down, moves over by the statue and lies down. Clearly, the danger has passed.

In the morning, the party drags the tabletop from the bedroom, the room behind where the last cockatrice hid. Sylvan reduces the statue and Kale hauls it out of the moathouse, just past the drawbridge. Kale puts the statue on the makeshift sled, waits for it to grow back to its normal size, and then Corwyn ties the statue to the tabletop. The group makes the slow and uneventful journey back to Hommlet, picking up the body of Spugnoir on the way, which has since been mutilated by scavenging animals; his eyes have been pecked out, and part of his torso and innards have been ripped open and eaten. They find Sebbekai, Spugnoir's calico cat familiar. Verilia speaks with the cat and discerns a rough guess as to a description of the killer. After all, most bipeds look alike, they just smell different. The cat follows the group.

Hommlet - Home Sweet Home
Entering Hommlet from the east, the group must travel over the hill and pass by the keep of Burne and Rufus, which lies on top and on the southern side of the road. Elmo and a few guards happen to be nearby, and they stop the group from going further. Elmo glances at Spugnoir, "Poor Spugnoir! But, I always told him it was foolish to adventure by himself." He tells the group that only Canoness Y'Dey has the power to help Aldoroc and Spugnoir, but it'd be a miracle if she'd help anyone. Elmo grumbles this last part under his breath.

Elmo informs Sylvan that he will be fined for casting a spell purposefully to mislead an unsuspecting innocent. A few days ago, Sylvan had casted mirror image, possibly to take advantage of Xaod, and it was witnessed by a third party. Sylvan argues vehemently that the spell was cast on himself and he had no intent to take advantage of anyone. Still, unfair and illogical as it seems, the constable orders him to pay a fifty gold piece fine or spend two nights in jail. The rest of the group explains the events at the moathouse, however, and look to get the fine reduced or eliminated, accounting for special circumstances. Elmo thinks about it and agrees to bring the matter up to Burne and Rufus. After all, trouble at the moathouse is more important than a minor infraction that really didn't cause any harm. Sylvan and Adriana accompany Elmo to the keep while the rest of the party hauls the makeshift sled to the Temple of St. Cuthbert.

After brief introductions and a detailed description of their adventures in the moathouse, Burne agrees to drop the fine and, instead, asks the adventurers to continue their explorations. Adriana attempts to bargain for additional magical supplies, but Burne offers little. "I'm truly sorry, my dear, but we have little to spare. Perhaps, while you further investigate the tunnels behind the crypts and especially the pit chamber where your friend Keth perished, may St. Cuthbert provide him with a better home, we can find suitable compensation."

Burne is interrupted by a guard who whispers in Elmo's ear. Elmo then reiterates the message to Burne, not worrying about the presence of Sylvan and Adriana, who are obviously friendly. "Your Wizardship, we've just uncovered the bodies of Karlun the Miller and his wife. They were murdered. We've searched the premises, but found nothing."

When Adriana gets to the Temple of St. Cuthbert and pays the 500 gold piece fee, Canoness Y'Dey casts break enchantment on Aldoroc and frees him from the stone. The party then inquires about the erstwhile potion seller. The priestess informs the party that she can raise Spugnoir, but he will be missing his eyes and part of his abdomen, including necessary components of his digestive tract. It would not be a pretty sight. However, she does have a scroll of resurrection and can cast that instead, but it is much more expensive, three times the cost. For now, the party settles on casting speak with dead to see if Spugnoir has the money to pay for it and wants to come back to life. Spugnoir does, but they decide to resurrect him the following day in order to have some time to think about it. They ask if they can leave the body at the church, but Y'Dey responds, "Certainly not! This is not a morgue, this is the holy sanctuary of St. Cuthbert!"

{DM Note: I let speak with dead allow the body to carry the knowledge of whether or not the person wishes to return. They paid Y'Dey 300gp to cast it. I also let them know ahead of time that the Canoness has a scroll of resurrection and two of true resurrection. It doesn't really hurt the campaign, though, because they can always go back to Khorasan (the Verbobonc equivalent IMC). However, I was very impressed that the party wanted to help Spugnoir! I guess they felt responsible for his death. Or, could the motive be entirely selfish? Hmm...}

The party brings the body to Spugnoir's residence for lack of a better location. Obviously, Renne is very upset over the event and cries well into the evening. The entire group enters the shop and plans an extended stay, but Renne doesn't mind. She enjoys the company. After half an hour or so, a customer enters. He is a large human swordsman with long dark hair and a swagger, and wears a breastplate. He demands some potions, but Renne is no mood to sell them and Verilia tells him to come back in a couple of days. The man is very rude, however, and kicks Sebbekai on the way out. Verilia, angered at this, contemplates crushing the human who is only three times her height, but chooses to insult him instead. The warrior struts away, chuckling at the absurdity of the halfling.

In the early evening, another visitor enters, asking to see one named Sylvan, and introduces himself as Tiendin Stoutheart. He is a distinguished, middle-aged gentleman, tall, imposing, with a beard tapered to a point and with thick, bushy eyebrows. He asks the elven wizard, in a thick, haughty accent, "I am of antiquities and I'm quite interested in the sceptre. My dear boy, would you be so kind as to sell it to me? I'm quite reasonable. Shall we say...two thousand gold pieces, no questions asked?"

Sylvan is taken aback by this. Something grips his gut, call it fate, and warns him against selling the sceptre. He thinks to himself, "How could this man have found out about the sceptre? It must have some power or some other significance!" Sylvan also realizes that Corwyn currently has the sceptre and he is out doing business with the halfling Joman Dart at the Old Trading Post. Sylvan says that he wants to think about the proposition, so Tiendin informs him that he will return tomorrow evening.

{DM Note: Tiendin is obviously Master Dunrat and the other rude fellow was Grune. Once Grune found the party, he notified Master Dunrat, who set up the stalwart eye across the street and went in. Master Dunrat found out about the sceptre from Jaroo, who found out from Elmo, who was present when Sylvan and Adriana were talking to Burne.}

The Battle at the Potion Seller's Home
Sylvan spends the following day identifying magical items and determining the properties of the newly acquired potions, while Corwyn and Adriana attempt to sell unwanted masterwork equipment and other mundane items. In the evening, Tiendin comes calling again. This time, everyone is present. Kale answers the door and sees Tiendin, who asks for Sylvan. He talks to Sylvan briefly, but Corwyn interrupts and takes Sylvan towards the back door to discuss it more privately. Tiendin is still just outside the front door, Renne is behind the counter in the front room, Shangor Steele and Aldoroc are upstairs, and Adriana and Verilia are in the hallway between the front and the back.

Master Dunrat and his party are already prepared for battle and are awaiting the assassin's go-ahead signal. Chat is waiting inside by the back door, invisible, and is studying Sylvan for a death attack. Unfortunately for him, both Corwyn and Sylvan spot him and realize something is amiss. Chat still gets the jump on Sylvan, but his attack is not very effective (prior to three rounds of study) and he yells out to his comrades for help. In retaliation, Sylvan casts glitterdust, which turns Chat visible and blinds him at the same time. Corwyn tries to stab Chat, but the shield spell cast from the wand protects him well.

Grune and Toridan, a half-orc bruiser, step through the door to attack Kale. Kale, however, responds by nearly decapitating Grune, who then retreats into the corner to quaff a potion of cure light wounds. Chat, hemmed in by Corwyn and Sylvan, casts obscuring mist to aid his escape. Unfortunately, he is quickly charmed by Sylvan, who is still buffed from a fox's cunning spell. Also at the back of the shop, Verilia hears casting from outside the rear door and she prepares some protection spells. Some additional mercenaries storm in the front door, moving to surround Kale and Adriana. Adriana works on blasting Toridan with magic missiles, however, because the great axe is cutting up Kale pretty badly. Closes quarters don't work well for archers, at least not until Kale joins the Order of the Bow Initiate.

Aldoroc arrives on the scene and quickly dispatches one of the mercenaries. Another mercenary tries to push Aldoroc back, but only succeeds in getting killed and having Aldoroc cleave into his comrade! Three mercenaries are dropped in a mere two seconds. The back door opens suddenly and Verilia, who was waiting for it to open, casts body of the sun, attempting to affect Chenashi and Vacra, but both are protected from fire. Chenashi counters with a cause fear and makes Verilia run up the stairs, past her comrades, burning them with her spell! Corwyn continues to attack Chatrilon and hits once or twice, but his weapons find difficult purchase past the assassin's defenses.

Kale and Adriana relentlessly pound the half-orc while the girl Renne hides behind the counter. Kale shrugs off Master Dunrat's spells. Aldoroc kills the remaining mercenaries inside the shop and Grune and steps over to help the beastial Toridan against Kale. Sylvan manages to charm Chat, who steps back defensively and starts talking to his newly found friend. Chenashi and Vacra move in to fight with Sylvan and Corwyn. Breaking the charm person, Sylvan then attacks Chat, who fights off the blindness and escapes outside, leaving the maniacal Chenashi to fight Corwyn on her own. She doesn't last long and Corwyn attempts to follow the fleeing assassin and tiefling, but instead moves towards the front door through the shop.

Kale and Aldoroc quickly dispatch Toridan and Grune. Left alone to face everyone at the front door, Master Dunrat decides to use his special weapon and tosses a bead of force at the counter, killing Renne and badly injuring Kale, Adriana, and Aldoroc. Kale and Aldoroc are trapped by the force of the bead, but Adriana escapes the trap. Staggered, she eventually manages to move slowly down the hall and quaff a potion of cure light wounds. Inside the force, Aldoroc dumps a potion of cure light wounds into Kale and then both proceed to stare impotently out at Master Dunrat, both enraged over the death of the little girl. Shangor moves around the force and fights Master Dunrat in hand-to-hand combat. A cleric of Moradin versus a cleric of ... what is that two-tiered inverted ziggurat symbol anyway? Verilia recovers from her fear and also makes it out the front door, confronting Dunrat with a powerful creeping cold spell and her sickle, codenamed Pop.

Corwyn moves quickly out the front door and he, Shangor, and Verilia converge on the lone Master Dunrat. Shangor and Dunrat trade spells, with neither affecting the other. Corwyn tumbles about, getting behind Dunrat's ebbing shield spell, and Verilia's creeping cold continues to injure the evil cleric. Suddenly, Chat flanks Corwyn and attacks, but makes a rather poor attempt at a sneak attack. Corwyn, remembering Chat's shield spell, tumbles behind him in a leap-frog style and nearly cuts him down in one stroke. Vacra witnesses the powerful counterattack from the heroes and wisely decides to return to the grove and await developments with Jaroo.

As Corwyn finishes off the assassin, Master Dunrat eschews the prepared animate dead spell in favor of an inflict serious wounds on Verilia. She fends off the majority of the spell, but is still badly injured and nearly drops. Master Dunrat only lasts a few more seconds before he, too, falls unconscious. Shangor decides to keep him alive for questioning and binds his wounds.

The Aftermath
The group gathers the bodies and dropped equipment inside the shop. They have to still avoid the force bubble, but otherwise put Dunrat with all the bodies in the storage room. Sylvan casts detect magic and Corwyn searches through the most valuable equipment, separating the magical from the mundane and the masterwork from the less well-crafted items.

Before the duration on the effects of the bead of force expire, Elmo and a half dozen of Burne's Badgers arrive. Contrary to the party's initial thoughts of getting arrested, Elmo orders the guards to gather the dead and unwanted equipment and take them away. He then agrees to let the party question Dunrat in the morning, but wants to be present. He plans to go back to the keep tonight to let Burne and Rufus know what happened. It seems like the cult presence in Hommlet was more prevalent than anyone thought, but it seems to have been mostly rooted out. The party plans to sleep the night, putting the decaying dead bodies of Spugnoir and his daughter in the storage room with the unconscious form of Dunrat.

Tomorrow will bring a day of questioning, more identifying, more selling, and of preparing to continue the investigation at the moathouse. Or will it?

(12/13/02 5:32 pm)
Session Six
The Interrogation of Master Dunrat
In the morning, everyone awakens, including the prisoner, who struggles futilely against the bonds that Corwyn tied. Before carrying Spugnoir to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, the group decides to interrogate Master Dunrat. However, as they prepare, Elmo arrives and asks to join in the questioning.

They gather in the storeroom of the shop, with Dunrat in the corner. The plan is for Aldoroc to untie Dunrat while Sylvan charms him. If it fails, then he will try again. Unfortunately, Dunrat is quite strongly willed and resists both attempts of charm person. In fact, he attempts his own charm person in retaliation, but gets clobbered by Aldoroc before completing the spell. The party groans together in frustration, and surprise, not realizing at first that Dunrat is not just a cleric. Not wanting to waste a healing spell on the prisoner, Elmo offers to take Dunrat to the grove to his good friend, Jaroo. There, they can revive the prisoner and question him normally. The party agrees.

Kale and Aldoroc express an interest in joining Elmo. Verilia suggests that they all go, that they should not split up the party. Sylvan responds, "We're in the middle of town, and it's broad daylight. What could possibly happen?" So, in the end, only Verilia, Kale, Aldoroc, Swift, and Elmo take the prisoner to the peaceful grove.

Earlier, on the way to Spugnoir's, Elmo stopped by the grove to check in with Jaroo and let him know what's up. Elmo asked Jaroo to join him in interrogating Dunrat, but Jaroo didn't think it was a good idea and so declined. In the meantime, Jaroo, Maridosen, and Vacra plan an ambush at the grove while they finish tying up the last loose ends. They plan to leave town on the morrow.

The Ambush at the Grove
As the party approaches the small cottage in the grove, the door opens. Jaroo steps out, smiling, and waving at Elmo. Then, he starts casting a spell! Jaroo drops a briar web centered right on Elmo! Maridosen, the barkeep from the Inn of the Welcome Wench, also steps out, wearing armor, a sheathed rapier, and wielding a shortbow. Six more mercenaries also step out, likewise taking out shortbows.

{DM Note: Alas, until later in the fight, I missed the point about the cover bonus in entanglements, so full cover would not have allowed anyone to target those in the middle with a ranged attack.}

Kale and Elmo become stuck in the web and try to free themselves, taking damage from the thorns. Elmo and Aldoroc get hit by a couple of arrows from the archers. Before Verilia and Swift can react, Jaroo then casts hold animal on the wolf. Verilia then decides to stay still until the hold wears off and she can ride Swift out of the briars, taking a moment, however, to kill the unconscious Dunrat. Of course, she has to swing her arm through thorns to hit the cleric, but the pain is worth the trouble. Kale is still badly hurt form the previous fight and has to quaff a couple of potions of cure light wounds just to keep from dropping due to the thorns.

The mercenaries and Maridosen concentrate their fire on enemies trying to escape the web. Jaroo merely waits. Vacra, invisible, also waits for a good opportunity to attack. Eventually, Aldoroc makes it out of the web right in front of Jaroo and company. He looks worse for wear from the thorns, but starts cleaving threw the mercs. As Maridosen steps up, Vacra casts charm person on Aldoroc and tells him to follow her into the cottage, telling the others not to harm him. He does so, attempting to move past Jaroo and Maridosen, but they take attacks of opportunity anyway! So much for following Vacra's lead. In return, Aldoroc spins and attacks Maridosen, injuring her badly.

By the time Kale makes his way out of the web, he is badly injured and can barely stand. Elmo is not much better, but both lay into Jaroo and Maridosen. Vacra has moved away from combat. Suddenly, a dire weasel hurtles out of the cottage and jumps on Aldoroc, taking him down and latching on to his throat. Three of the mercs move around the web to get a better shot at the wolf and to cut off retreat. One of them encounters Verilia leaving the web and, sensing more profit, decides to cut a deal. Verilia drops a silvered dagger for him and moves around the web unmolested to help her comrades. The merc picks up the dagger and leaves the grove, getting shot at by another merc on his way out.

Jaroo pounds mercilessly at Kale, who could not quite make it entirely out of the briar. Kale wonders what drove Jaroo wild and what strange background he had to be both druid and monk, not understanding at the moment Jaroo's true nature. Elmo keeps asking, "Why, Jaroo? Why do you attack us?", as he struggles against Maridosen. Elmo moves away from the rapier-wielding fighter, however, to deprive the dire weasel Snip of his meal and save Aldoroc's life. Maridosen and the last mercenary continue to attack Elmo, as Jaroo turns towards the approaching wolf rider and lobs a fireball from his necklace. Unfortunately for him, he does not know that Vacra is nearby the druid, invisible of course, and she fails to escape all the damage. Only her natural resistance to fire keeps her alive. Once again, Vacra flees, with no one the wiser this time. Verilia and Swift are both injured by the fireball, and she decides to regroup. She runs away from Jaroo and prepares some healing and buffing spells, hoping that Elmo can hold out for a little bit. Kale finally struggles free from the briar, but soon falls to relentless blows from Jaroo.

Verilia returns, dismounts Swift, and tells him to go get the other members of their party. She then moves up within 20 feet of her fellows and casts Regenerate Ring. This has the immediate beneficial effect of stabilizing her friends Kale and Aldoroc. She then moves in to take on Jaroo in hand-to-paw combat. This was Verilia's first time using animal form in combat and she chose the form of a leopard. The last merc sees the leopard and says, "I didn't sign on for fighting something like that!" and runs away. By this time, most of Jaroo's buff spells are depleted, so he starts contemplating fleeing. Instead, he casts obscuring mist to help a future escape attempt. Elmo slumps to the ground as Maridosen lands a lethal stab. While Maridosen fights with Verilia, Jaroo casts detect magic and starts searching the bodies of Kale and Aldoroc. Verilia finishes off Maridosen and the last merc and concentrates her last efforts on the dire weasel. They have a fair match going until Verilia tries to get around the weasel to reach Jaroo and stop him from getting away. Snip jumps on Verilia's back and begins draining her blood. Verilia realizes she is likely to die and decides to try to take the weasel out with her. To this end she falls backwards (on top of the weasel) into the briar web. Luckily, she survives the damage, but Snip does not.

At that moment, Swift, Corwyn and Adriana arrive to help dispatch Jaroo. Jaroo pulls the brooch of shielding from Kale, his magical quiver, and the gauntlets of ogre power from Aldoroc. He then takes off behind the cottage to make his escape, but Corwyn and Adriana follow him, with Swift's direction.

{DM Note: I gave Swift a "scent" check to see if he could tell where everyone was and, specifically where Jaroo went. I rolled a natural 20, so he first led Corwyn and Adriana to the rear of the cottage at the edge of the mist.}

At the back of the cottage, Jaroo sees the ranger, sorceress, and wolf step out of the mist. He moves up a little closer and drops a second fireball from his necklace. Corwyn evades it entirely and runs up to Jaroo while Adriana tosses a futile magic missile, watching the energy get absorbed into the brooch. She wonders, "Does everyone have one of these things?" Corwyn jabs Jaroo with his longsword while Jaroo slams him with his fists. Verilia stumbles out of the mist in leopard form up to Adriana and is lucky that Adriana does not immediately kill her. The fight continues and when Corwyn and Adriana are within twenty feet of each other again, Jaroo moves away, provoking an attack of opportunity, and lets loose his last, and most powerful, fireball. This one nearly drops Adriana, but Corwyn again escapes unscathed.

Corwyn then moves up again to attack Jaroo and cuts him up badly. As Jaroo is obviously losing the fight, he uses his most powerful attack: he shapeshifts to look nearly identical to Corwyn! Adriana is confused by this new twist and holds back, letting Corwyn deal with the druid. Eventually, Jaroo is dropped unconscious and both Adriana and Corwyn decide to end his threat for good. They then see Jaroo for what he really was, a doppelganger!

The Return to the Potion Seller's Shop
A few healing potions and everyone is brought conscious. Adriana casts detect magic and the party strips the bodies of all magical items and valuable possessions. They also find the dead bodies of Yundi and Wyst in the cottage. With their loot and the body of Elmo on Aldoroc's back, they make their way back to Spugnoir's. However, they encounter Yether the Keen on the way. The cleric of Pelor takes the body inside, and promises to have Burne and Rufus consider what to do about it. Otho Gyver, Adriana's uncle, is also at the Temple of Pelor. He and Adriana converse for a time while the others rest.

Everyone eventually regroups at the potion seller's shop and home. Sylvan finishes identifying items (the reason he never joined the battle), and the party gathers enough money together to have Y'Dey use her scroll of resurrection on Spugnoir. Spugnoir thanks the group profusely and graciously accepts his amulet of natural armor and ring of protection. He sells the ring in order to afford the raise dead spell on Renne. He agrees to let the party use his lab and even has a room to put up Sylvan while the others stay at the grove or Papa's Bakery.

(12/13/02 5:35 pm)
I'm just curious, is anyone still reading this? :) I don't mind posting it for my own benefit, but...Anyway, I have a special treat in store after the next session log (#7). I plan to insert an Interlude that was written by the player of Adriana. It is a prologue to a novelization of their adventures and far better written than the drivel I post. ;)

(12/13/02 8:15 pm)
Re: Reading?
Me! Me! Me!

I'm here :) I read nearly everyone's drivel... er, I mean logs, especially the ones about the same place as my own (like yours). It's a shame we don't have a 'read this many times' meter on this forum. Then you could see how many more times yours is looked at than mine :P

Group Editing & Authoring Support
flexible campaign management for the web
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(12/14/02 2:28 am)
Re: Reading?
Infiniti, I always read your logs when you post. You seem like a good DM and you write very interesting logs. While my party is long past the point you are at, it is interesting to read how others played these parts. Looking forward to the prologue.

Zag:rollin ig

(12/14/02 8:49 am)
Session Seven
The Cast of Characters
The players characters:
Verilia Bluepipe - female halfling Druid 5
Sylvan - male elven Wizard 5 (future Fatespinner)
Corwyn - male elven Ranger 2/Rogue 3
Kale Fletcher - male human Fighter 5 (future Order of the Bow Initiate)
Adriana - female human Sorceress 5
Shangor Steele - male dwarven Cleric 5 (Moradin)
Aldoroc - male human Fighter 5 (formerly Keth the monk)

Swift - male wolf animal companion of Verilia
Ace - male tiny viper familiar of Sylvan

The Making of Stuff
The party gathers at Spugnoir's lab to discuss the division of treasure, both magical and mundane. They also discuss the desire for some of them to craft new items for themselves. Sylvan wishes to scribe a scroll or two and learn some spells. Verilia wishes to perform some ceremonies in order to advance her animal companion, Swift. And, most importantly time-wise, Kale wants to make a masterwork mighty composite longbow.

Given the amount of time Kale requires, Sylvan also decides to craft a collar of resistance for Swift, paid for by Verilia of course. Swift will be quite powerful indeed when the druidical ceremonies are complete.

Verilia enters the now empty grove with Swift. The grove will be more than suitable for the ceremonies. She brings with her all necessary components and begins. A day later, Swift looking larger and more powerful, she continues with the second ceremony. After the third day of intense druidical rites, Swift is an immense wolf, over eight feet long and almost six feet tall at the shoulder. Verilia, however, is drained. She takes the next week to recuperate from the exhausting activities, though she feels very proud of her friend, and her commitment to him. She clearly intends for Swift to remain with the group for a long time.

{DM Note: MotW allows druid to advance their animal companions, per the advancement rules in the MM, by spending 200XP per hit die. Verilia spent 600XP and advanced the wolf by 3HD! Now he is one of the most powerful members of the group, especially when I rolled near max HP!}

Kale, out of curiousity, asks Joman Dart from the Old Trading Post what special woods he might have, with which he could make a bow. The halfling replies, "Why, I just happened to come across a branch or two of darkwood. I'd say it'd make a fine bow, less than half the weight, very sturdy." So, Kale purchases the wood and other materials and sits down with his masterwork artisan tools. It takes him a full 23 days, and more materials than he started out with, but he ends up crafting a beautiful darkwood bow. He engraves runes on the bow, signifying it's name of Truesight.

{DM Note: It is a Mighty Composite Longbow (+3 STR), made from Darkwood. The only thing darkwood does is make it weigh one half normal. I cannot understand how it could take 12+ weeks using the normal rules, so I changed it to days instead of weeks. According to the rules, it would have taken 23 weeks! 23 weeks! ??? As is, the craft skill sucks!}

Meanwhile, Corwyn, Adriana, Aldoroc, and Shangor help Elmo search out more cultists in town. They do not find any. However, Corwyn finds a secret room in the mill that the town guard must have missed. Upon investigating, they find an unlocked, but trapped trunk containing only an ochre-colored robe. The trunk was trapped with a glyph of warding, much like the chest in the moathouse.

A week into the first month of winter, it begins to snow. Snow is something a little bit exotic for Shangor and Corwyn, who have spent much of the last few years underground. It is also something that Adriana has only ever seen on the mountain tops of her island nation of Barahd, far to the south. Nevertheless, the snow and cold force the group to purchase winter clothing and prepare themselves accordingly.

The Welcome Wagon
The journey to the moathouse is uneventful. Perhaps it is because the party keeps to the road? Perhaps it is because the lands surrounding Hommlet and the moathouse are not dangerous? Perhaps Utreshimon has come back and eaten everything within ten miles?

They approach the moathouse very carefully, with Verilia preparing a Mass Resist Elements (Electricity). The other spellcasters similarly prepare a few spells, Adriana with Mage Armor and Endure Elements (Electricity), Shangor with Endure Elements (Electricity), and Sylvan with Mage Armor and Fox's Cunning. Kale and Aldoroc move first across the drawbridge, scooping snow out of the way with their shields.

Everyone moves slowly into the courtyard, taking extra time to peer through the windows and move quietly. They take care to remain spread out as well, in order to not present a good target for a breath of lightning. By the time they move up the staircase, the group expects trouble. They find it, but the creature they encounter is not the same type of reptilian they were expecting.

The grick awaits the intruders at the foot of the blocked staircase going up to the nonexistent second story. Kale and Aldoroc charge the beast while the others merely move into the great hall, still expecting Utreshimon to appear. The battle is over quickly, however, because both fighters are able to injure the grick with their magical longswords. In return for its death, the grick merely scratches Kale a few times.

{DM Note: I merely advanced the grick by two hit dice. The grick as presented in the MM is no match for a group of prepared adventurers with magical weapons. The first round, Aldoroc did 12 points of damage to it. Without the advancement it would have died in the first attack in the surprise round. How pathetic is that for a rear guard?}

The Crypt
The party moves cautiously about the upper and lower floors. They decide to descend down the main staircase. They encounter nothing on the way to the crypt area, but notice two things. One, all the doors are closed and they remember leaving them open when they left with Aldoroc's statue (though Aldoroc doesn't remember that). Two, all of the dead bodies are eerily gone. All of them.

Upon reentering the crypt area, they are beset by four ghouls and a wraith. The wriath slips only part of its incorporeal body through the wall and attacks Verilia. She is hurt but resists the majority of the pain. Adriana unleashes a series of magic missiles into the wraith. Kale, Corwyn, and Aldoroc take on the ghouls. Two are killed and then Aldoroc becomes paralyzed. The wraith gets hit again by more magic missiles and then flees towards the crypt chamber, though underground out of sight. One ghoul rips into the throat of the paralyzed Aldoroc, but the tough fighter resists the nearly lethal attack. Corwyn and Kale step up to help the fighter as the remaining ghouls retreat into the crypt area where they are better protected. Sylvan moves up to the front of the party and places himself in front of the ghouls. The wraith then appears and makes a critical attack on the wizard, but he fortunately resists the potentially deadly effects of the undead's touch. The wraith is able to hit Sylvan a second time before another magic missile from Adriana destroys it. This last attack, however, is much more effective and Sylvan reels in pain. The ghouls are dispatched quickly by Corwyn and Kale.

The Secret Altar Room
The party searches through the tunnels slowly, with Corwyn out in front. Shangor's inspection of the walls reveals that they were not cut away with tools, but clawed away with fingers and nails. Indeed, little bits of nails and even some whole, decayed fingers can still be found in the walls. Despite the gruesome nature of the walls, the smell of the tunnels, and the encroaching feeling of evil, the heroes resolutely continue forward. Or, rather, they continue onward due to the twisting nature of the warrens.

Eventually they come upon The Chamber. They first notice the unnatural cold, and that their winter clothing seems to help little. Even the endure elements spells seem of little use against the chill. The purplish walls, somehow resembling a metal though obviously made of stone are especially unnerving to Shangor. In fact, his whole dwarven essence is affronted by the odd angles and cutting of the stone. The large pillar with four sides depicting figures in various poses of various colors stands from floor to ceiling, about nine feet high. This statue is identical to the one previously found in the pit room, though that one was only three feet tall. An altar made of some unknown black porous material stands in front of the pillar, resting on a short outcropping of the purplish rock, maybe a foot high. The altar nearly resembles an anvil in shape, but is clearly not an anvil. A sense of dread fills the party as they realize the fact, not mere speculation, that this is an evil place.

With much trepidation, the group searches the room, but without touching anything. Corwyn determines that four secret compartments are located on the pillar, one at the bottom of each side. Steeling himself and putting on thick leather gloves, Corwyn opens each of the compartments, pulling out a small metal sphere, a small drum wrapped taut in an odd black leather, a set of silvered chimes, and a bronze brazier with some chunks of incense.

Adriana casts detect magic and is overwhelmed by the magic emanating from the altar. She also senses the magical aura around the metal sphere, but nothing else. Shangor and Sylvan attempt to discern the nature of the items they found, but fail to recall anything specific; perhaps these items are related to a ritual of some kind. It is clearly not the same ritual as outlined in the scroll discussing the Black Cyst, however.

Aldoroc and Kale try to push the rock from under the altar. To do so without touching the altar itself is difficult, but not impossible. After a few minutes, they succeed, but amazingly the altar floats in place! Truly, some powerful magic is present.

Shangor, feeling the intense evil present in the room, decides to channel positive energy into the altar. Although his attempt is not as strong as he would like, something...evil pulls at Shangor's power and rudely draws a second helping! Shangor is completed surprised, bewildered, and not a little bit frightened at the prospects of this event. Discussions begin amongst the group, especially Shangor, Corwyn, and Sylvan, about what could possibly do that.

Kale cannot resist the temptation any longer and finally decides to tamper with the altar. He draws out an arrow and drops it on the altar to no effect. Then, unfortunately, he draws a second arrow and pokes at the altar with it. A purplish light runs up the arrow and into his hand, coursing through his body like unholy energy. He tries to resist its effects and fails, becoming paralyzed. Then, the altar starts becoming translucent, resembling what can best be described as a translucent jelly mold with a black, swirling mass at its center.

Adriana stands at the other end of the room and fires a crossbow bolt at the altar. Apparently, the altar does not wish to be harmed because another purplish energy bolt arcs across the intervening space and likewise paralyzes her. A long discussion ensued about the dangers of touching the rigid party members. Sylvan theorized and postulated for a good twenty minutes before Corwyn finally grabs Adriana and Kale and pulls them from the room before they are adversely affected by the cold. Two hours later, both Kale and Adriana recover.

What is the purpose of this room? What strange powers does the altar possess? What is this unnatural cold that permeates everything in this room? These questions, and more, run through the minds of the group as they leave the dangerous altar room for easier pickings in the pit. Maybe.

(12/14/02 8:56 am)
Re: Reading?
Thanks, ZansForCans and Zagig. Look for the additional writeup sometime in the next few days. It's about nine pages in a Word document, so I'll probably have to spread it across multiple posts (and to keep this one thread page trimmed a little). I read everyone's logs, too. Zagig, isn't it time for an update? :) With Session Seven, I've caught up, but we play again tonight.

(12/15/02 3:28 pm)
Interlude - Part 1
The stars were exceptionally brilliant. Then again, they were always that way over Barahd. The island nation's massive concentration of mystical energy was so powerful that it made the skies shimmer. It was an almost imperceptible thing, and it was easily ignored by those who spent their time in the small country.
        On clear nights, however, even the most oblivious couldn't help but notice how the stars seemed a little brighter. And if one looked close enough, they even seemed to shimmer like diamonds being spun by firelight.
        I stood alone on a small rise just outside of town; outside of the noise and the lights and the distractions of people, especially those who used magic. Gods knew Barahd was replete with them. Out here in the loneliness of a chilly night, I could sit in the darkness and be alone with my thoughts. At least, that was the plan.
        "Brooding again, Adriana?"
        I turned to the soft female voice that had materialized at my left shoulder. I treated its owner to a scowl that was probably lost in the darkness, bright stars notwithstanding, "Trying to be alone, Rachel. Get the point?"
        Rachel was a wizard, a few years older than I and with some very powerful magic in her arsenal. She was also a close friend and someone I loved, but I wasn't really in the mood for company and didn't much care about hurting anyone's feelings at the moment.
        Rachel merely sat beside me and took my hand. She knew how I was and she had an amazing knack for not letting me get to her, "The way I see it, you've got two choices. First, you tell me what's going on without me sitting here pestering you about it. Or-"
        "Or you cast charm person on me and hope to hell I don't resist it well enough?"
        She produced a candle from her cloak and set it on the ground in front of us. The flame was already glowing brightly, though it gave off no heat. A nice spell that everlasting flame. She smiled and the light flickered across her delicate features, "Come on."
        I sighed and produced something of my own from my robe. It was a folded letter I'd received only this afternoon. I told her this and gave it to her to read.

Dear Adriana,
        I know it's been a long time since I've written to you. I'm sorry. I know that if your mother and father were alive, they'd probably have made sure we kept in better contact.
        I would like you to come to Hommlet and visit me. There's something going on out here. Something bad. I can't really be sure of much at this point, but there's evil near. An evil we haven't seen in almost a decade.
There have been reports of Hobgoblins in and around the old temple and of ochre-garbed wanderers about the moat house that stands as sentinel for the Temple of Elemental Evil. Come quickly, Adriana. I fear the temple isn't so quiet anymore.

Uncle Otho

        Rachel refolded the letter slowly and handed it back to me. She stared off into the distance for a long moment before she turned back, "He's right."
        "What?" I asked in shock, "You know about the temple? You know that there's something going on?"
        Rachel nodded slowly, "Yes. My brother sent me back here to get help, as a matter of fact. He sent me back for you."
        "Lord Hajid doesn't even know me," I protested sharply.
        "Well, not you specifically," Rachel replied, "but he sent me to get someone who is strong and who can handle what might be up there."
        "I appreciate the vote of confidence," I stated with a sardonic little laugh, "but there are hundreds of mages on this island that are far more powerful than I."
        She smiled again, "True. But none more . . . well . . . suited to the task. I've rarely met anyone with your particular strengths."
        "Meaning that I'm a pain in the ass," I stated for her, "that I've got a bit of a problem with my temper and I'm not the most demure lady at the ball. Is that what you're struggling to say?"
        "Exactly," Rachel said, "and for what's up there, or what might be, you are the best woman for the job."
        "I still think a more powerful sorcerer would do better," I grumbled, "From what little I know of how the temple used to be, I'm no match."
        "There is a balance in all things," She said in her best wise tone, "and the people that will be going are on your level. They're young and somewhat inexperienced, but they are also tough and strong and capable."
        "Who are these brave souls?" I asked.
        "Three of them are here in town," Rachel answered, "They escorted me back. I can take you to meet them if you'd like. They're leaving in the morning for Tahmista. There they'll meet with the rest of the party."
        I stared into space for a long moment. For some reason, the stars had dimmed. Maybe it was just me, but the shimmer seemed just a little less noticeable, the shine a little less brilliant than it had a few minutes before.
        "All right," I said, "let's go meet your friends. If I'm going to do this, I don't want to waste any more time or think about it any longer."

(12/15/02 3:29 pm)
Interlude - Part 2
On Karacul's northern border at the west end of the mountain chain known as the Finger of Heironeous, a ruggedly built dwarf was leaning over a cooking pot with his stubby nose engulfed in rich-smelling fumes that wafted upward from the broth.
        I knew nothing of this at the time, of course, but a great deal of what I'll relate in my story I learned later from the rest of my party. For whatever reason, I am the one responsible for chronicling our tale, as if I don't have enough to do what with destroying monsters and demons and so on. Of course, I've come to love these people very much, and there's little I wouldn't do for them. Some of them I've loved only briefly, as they did not survive the epic quest.
        "Can't you be patient just once, Shangor?" A handsome elf said as he entered the room. The dwarf bolted upright and back, nearly bringing the hanging pot with him.
        The elf laughed as he moved over to the cooking fire and stirred the stew lightly.
        "Aye, you're a right funny lad," Shangor Steele said in a thick brogue, "sneakin' up on me like that. Damned rogue."
        Corwyn, that's really the only name he goes by, laughed even harder, "I could've just shot you from the doorway."
        "I coulda' cracked ye're skull open, too," Shangor said gruffly, "but that's no way for friend's to act now, is it?"
        "What's a dwarf want with a delicious meal like this anyway?" Corwyn asked after he'd tasted the thick broth, "shouldn't you be eating some kind of . . . something that smells like an old boot?"
"What does an elf want wi' living under ground in a cave?" Shangor teased back as he settled into his favorite low-slung lounging chair, "Are ye' afraid of trees, lad?"
        Corwyn's retort was cut short by another set of footsteps entering the section of cave the two men occupied. A middle aged dwarf entered the high-ceilinged chamber and moved to sit near Shangor, "Shangor, how are you this evening, brother?"
        "I'm alive," Shangor groused with a small grin on his face, "No thanks to Corwyn's cookin'."
        The elf merely shook his head and got three bowls from a shelf near the cooking pot, "How does the evening find you, Goldryn?"
        "Much better," Goldryn replied, though his usually bright mood was noticeably dulled. Corwyn handed him a heaping bowl of deer stew, gave one to Shangor and sat in the remaining low lounge, "What is it?"
"We need your help," Goldryn began idly stirring the stew to cool it down some, "have you ever heard of the great dwarven Queen Tulian Saltheart and her clan, Shangor?"
        "Aye," Shangor said after gulping down a spoonful of food. He didn't seem to mind the heat; "they lived near Mount Stalagos, a week's travel or so outside the town of Hommlet o'er a hundred years ago."
        Goldryn nodded, "Yes. They've disappeared, but we've recently unearthed rumors of their greatest treasure."
        Corwyn sat forward, "Which is?"
        Goldryn nodded knowingly, still playing with his food, "The Eye of Tulian is the brightest in the World, or so the saying goes. It is a gem beyond your comprehension, Corwyn. We believe that their disappearance is directly connected with the Temple of Elemental Evil."
        Corwyn and Shangor exchanged glances. Shangor put his bowl down on the small table in front of them and looked Goldryn directly in the eyes, "It canna' be! That infernal place was cleaned out fifteen years ago!"
        "So we thought," Goldryn said. He put a spoonful of stew in his mouth gingerly after blowing on it for a few seconds. Satisfied that it was no longer lethal, he began to devour it heartily, "but there have been rumors of things happening near there. Strange things. There have been hobgoblin sightings in the area. And perhaps more than just ghosts in the town of Nulb."
        "Doesn't sound too bad," Corwyn suggested after polishing off the last of his bowl. He went to the pot and refilled it, "hobgoblins are like insects. They pop up just about everywhere. Tell me more about the gem!"
        Goldryn nodded and held out his empty bowl to Corwyn. The elf smiled and refilled it for him. He brought back a fresh one for Shangor as well. Goldryn went back to fiddling with the stew and said: "The jewel. Highly prized and possessed by the Saltheart clan. It's called the Eye of Tulian."
        "Sounds expensive," Shangor noted via a mouthful of meat and potatoes.
        "It's priceless," Goldryn added, "it's about as large as the palm of your hand. It's been carved into the shape of an eye, thus the name. Very valuable and we believe it may have mystical powers."
        "So ye believe the Saltheart clan's disappearance may connected to these hobgoblins and the activity near Nulb?"
        Goldryn nodded again, "And the Temple of Elemental Evil."
        "What do ye want me to do?" Shangor said with finality, "That is why ye've come here tonight, isn't it, Goldryn? Surely it isn't fer the jewel."
        The cleric grinned a bit sheepishly, "Well, that and supper. I want you to investigate. Corwyn, too, if he feels up to it."
        Corwyn shrugged his shoulders, "Doesn't bother me. But we two are really no match for what must be scaring you up there. If the old evils are coming back, we wouldn't last against them by ourselves."
        "You won't be by yourselves," Goldryn stated, "I have been in contact with Lord Hajid, one of the town leaders in Tahmista. I know that a small party from Barahd will be arriving there shortly. His sister Rachel has gone back to Barahd to get help, and I'm told that there are three others with her. There may be others too, I'm not sure."
        Shangor ate the last few bites of his meal in silence. He set his bowl down and glanced over at Corwyn. The elf nodded ever so slightly and Shangor turned back to Goldryn, "Aye. We'll go to Tahmista and meet ye're friend."
        Goldryn smiled and stood up, "I knew you would. You've always been a brave lad, Shangor."
        "Let's hope it stays that way," The dwarf replied.

(12/15/02 3:30 pm)
Interlude - Part 3
        It was quite a little group.
        As I entered Rachel's small house on the edge of town, I was greeted by the sight of three people sitting around a blazing hearth fire with a rather large wolf.
        "Everyone," Rachel said to get their attention, "This is my friend Adriana. She's agreed to go back to Tahmista with you and meet with Hajid."
        The group that stood before me was comprised of two male humans and a small halfling girl who was actually a little shorter than her wolf.
Keth, the first man to introduce himself, was a broad shouldered monk with a friendly smile and a razor sharp kama strapped to his belt. He shook my hand politely and stepped back. A bit shy, which I found odd for a monk.
        The next man was not shy. He stepped forward and kissed my hand and introduced himself as Kale Fletcher, an archer who specialized in the longbow. Rachel told me that he worked as a town guard for Lord Hajid in Tahmista.
        Verilia, the halfling, came forward next, along with her wolf, "It's okay, he won't bite you."
        I knelt down and let her animal companion sniff my hand. After a moment, his tail wagged happily, "You're a druid?"
        She smiled a pretty little smile at me, "Yes. This is Swift, my friend. He's been with me since he was a puppy."
        "It's getting late," Rachel said, "and you've got a few days to travel yet. Why don't we get some rest?"
        The trip to Tahmista was uneventful. We didn't run into any bandits or roving creatures or anything. Of course, in Karacul, it was pretty hard to find these things due to the persistence of the militocracy in honing their might. In a militocracy, lawbreakers were rare and monster incursions were rarer. Not that it didn't happen, of course, but Karacul was a long established country and had one of the best military organizations in the world.
        Everyone else in the party had been to Tahmista before, so when we got to town, they all split up and went off to take care of whatever business they had. Having never visited and having no business, I simply wandered around and checked the place out. It was a pretty uneventful day.
        The same wasn't true for the rest of my friends, of course. Verilia went to a small grove set aside for the worshippers of Ehlonna to meditate and rest. She settled down with her wolf and began to pray.
        After only a few moments, Verilia felt an odd sensation wash over her, like ripples in a warm bath. She opened her eyes and saw that she was no longer in the grove, but at the center of a great forest of mighty trees. At the center of this forest stood one of the oldest and largest oaks in the world. Known to druids as The Great Oak, this massive tree was the symbol of everything they believed in. It's enormous trunk and branches that stretched out wide over the clearing were symbols of strength and harmony to Ehlonna's followers.
        After a moment, Verilia spotted a figure entering the glade. The man wore ochre-colored robes with a strange black flaming eye symbol on the back. As the man drew closer to the tree, Verilia recognized him as her old instructor, Baran. She called out to him, waving her arms to get his attention, but Baran seemed either not to hear or just paid no attention.
        Verilia's joy was suddenly shattered when her instructor reached out and touched the tree. As his finger made contact, gouts of flame erupted from his hands and within seconds totally engulfed the trunk. As the halfling watched in horror, unable to move, the fire leapt upward and the tree was nothing more than a massive pillar of writhing fiery death. Baran turned to her and grinned evilly. She screamed, but nothing came out. The ugly black smoke form the blaze enveloped her and all was darkness.
        It was only when Swift began to lick her face that the small woman came to and realized she'd had one of the most powerful and disturbing visions of her life.
        Some people have all the fun.
        Kale's day was somewhat less exciting. He was simply told that there would be a meeting this evening with Lord Hajid, Mayor Yamita the Thumbless, and several other important people.
        "We want you to investigate Hommlet," the captain of the guard, Constable Peffimoto was saying. He sat behind a small wooden desk and stared across at Kale with a passivity and gentleness that the fighter had rarely seen, "We believe the Temple of Elemental Evil is no longer unoccupied."
        "You can't be serious."
        "I wish I weren't," the Captain said calmly, "but there have been more than a few rumors and several confirmed reports. Lord Hajid is gathering a party together to investigate. We want you with them to sort of . . . make sure things go in the right direction."
        "I'm to lead them?" Kale asked.
        "Not exactly," the Captain replied, "your job, aside from combat and investigation, of course, will be to represent our interests. Make sure that things don't get out of hand up there."
        Kale stood and began pacing the room, "Sir, I'm not a spy."
        "No, not a spy," the Captain stated matter of factly, "just a man capable of doing a job. And a man we can trust. Understood?"
        Kale opened his hands wide, "I'm here to serve, Captain."
        "Excellent," the Captain said with a broad grin, "but there is one more thing. For the duration of this mission, you will be stripped of your position and rank."
        Kale stopped in mid-pace, "What?!"
"Easy," the Captain said calmingly, holding up his hand, "it's not permanent. You may have your job back when you return, though I suspect it'll be far beneath you by then."
        Kale thought it over briefly, "What's the plan?"
        "Be at Lord Hajid's house this evening around seven," The Captain said as he stood up, "all will be explained for you. I'm proud of you, Kale. You've come a long way in a short time."
        Kale shook his hand and left with thoughts of the future on his mind.
        At the Order of the Iron Cross, a monastery to St. Cuthbert, Keth was met by his instructor, Master Yimai. The monk master led Keth into a back room and sat him down.
        "Thank you for seeing me, master," Keth said with a polite bow, "what may I do for you?"
        Yimai returned the bow and smiled, "Join our Holy cause, my son. A party is gathering tonight at Lord Hajid's house. A party whose goal is to investigate and see to it that the Temple of Elemental Evil does not rise to its former power."
        "I thought that was taken care of years ago," Keth put in, "surely the evil is not rising so soon?"
        Yimai nodded gravely, "Yes it is. As evil is so apt to do, my son. It's rarely ever stopped for good. Our hope, however, is that you and the rest of your brave party can see to it that the evil is halted long before it begins to gain its former power."
        Keth bowed again, "Of course I will join them. Any opportunity to hone my skills, especially against evil, is welcome. Thank you, Master Yimai."

(12/15/02 3:32 pm)
Interlude - Part 4
        Sylvan, the final member of our party, wandered into town a few hours before sunset. I actually saw him enter a tavern, though at the time I didn't know who he was. Perhaps I should have. There was something mysterious about him. Something...not quite right.
        At first I thought it was just me. The elf looked perfectly normal, although by his dress and what I could see of his belongings, he looked like a magic user of some kind. Call it intuition or just a knowledge of people, but when I saw him strolling down the street and when he entered the pub, he had a vibe about him, as if he'd never been to Tahmista before, or perhaps didn't know why he'd come.
        This was the case, of course, not that I knew it at the time. Having had similar visions of fire and destruction like Verilia, he'd followed his instincts to Tahmista, not really knowing why.
        In the tavern, he was met by a scruffy human priest of Heironeous.
        "So, you finally made it," The man said in a gruff baritone as he took a seat next to the quiet elf.
        "Looks like I have," Sylvan said flatly, "and what would you know about it?"
        "I've been expecting you," The cleric said, "my name is Priest Bateel."
Bateel smiled down at Sylvan, "You've been having visions, haven't you?"
        Sylvan eyed him warily, his right hand moving stealthily down to his crossbow, "How do you know this?"
        "Relax, Sylvan," Bateel said, "I've had them too. And you were in some of them. Your coming was foretold to me by the grace of Heironeous."
        "So you know why I'm here?" The elf asked, slipping a crossbow bolt from its quiver, "I thought it was just fate."
        "No you didn't," Bateel said, "and if I were you, I wouldn't try anything with that crossbow. There's no need for it and there are too many people in here who would defend me to boot."
        The big cleric smiled down at the elf, "Not that I'd need it. Don't press your luck."
        Sylvan sighed and leaned back in his chair, "Okay, what do you know?"
        Bateel swallowed the last fourth of his ale and wiped his beard down with the back of a hand, "That you have lost your memory. You don't know who you are, really. You're a wizard, not greatly powerful, but that will change. And I know that you're the man for our job."
        "And what job is that?" Sylvan asked warily, "I don't like that you know so much about me and I know nothing of you. It stacks the deck a little too much in your favor."
        Bateel laughed heartily and whooped the much smaller elf on the back, "And a gambler to boot, eh? Well, let me even the odds for you, friend. We believe that there is a resurgence of evil in the Temple of Elemental Evil-"
        "Interestingly enough," Sylvan quipped.
        Bateel ignored him, "-and that these visions we've been having are a result. Lord Hajid, along with other members of our town's leadership, is putting together an expeditionary force to go up to Hommlet and investigate what's going on. Hopefully stop it, too."
        "And just what makes you think I'm interested in going up there to that bastion of incredibly powerful evil?"
        Bateel stood and turned to leave, "To find out why you're having visions. And for the same reason you came here."
        Sylvan waved him off, "Sounds like a pretty big gamble to me."
        Another laugh from the priest, "Yeah, I suppose it is. Right up your alley. Lord Hajid's house at seven."
        "Don't count on me being there."
        Bateel patted him on the back, "I'll put money on it."

(12/15/02 3:33 pm)
Interlude - Part 5
        I met up with the rest of my group at Lord Hajid's rather large manor at a little before seven. We were met by a couple of servants in a plushly furnished front living room.
        "They'll receive you as soon as the others arrive," One of the servants, an elderly dwarf, informed us.
        "The rest?" Verilia asked. Kale and Keth nodded in unison.
        "Thanks for letting us in on it," I grumbled, "We're gonna have to work on our communications, boys."
        At that moment, the front doors opened and two more people entered. When I saw them, I almost burst into laughter but saved myself by biting my tongue. It wasn't that the two men were a dwarf and an elf, which was unusual enough. It was the fact that the dwarf was as wide as he was tall. He kind of reminded me of a wide barrel with arms and legs. He could probably bash the hell out of you, though.
        Introductions were quickly made and the servants told us that one more was still to come.
        "So, you guys came all the way from the western end of the Finger of Heironeous?" Verilia asked.
        "Yes," Corwyn replied, "Shangor here is a cleric of Moradin. His superiors asked us come down here and join you."
        "This must be bigger than we think," Verilia said, "Maybe this isn't the best idea I ever had."
        "I wouldn't worry," Keth reassured her, "I think it's just that they want to put together as well rounded a team as possible to investigate this trouble. It's really an honor to be asked."
        "Aye," Shangor added, "and it's our duty to ensure that the evil that once inhabited that damned place doesn't rise up again."
        "And why are you doing it?" I asked Kale.
        "Pretty much the same reason as Shangor," Kale replied casually, "It's my duty. It's what I do."
        "I suppose that goes for you, Corwyn?" Verilia asked, "or maybe it's just loyalty?"
        "A little of both," Corwyn replied, "besides, it sounds like an extraordinary opportunity to learn. What about you two women? You're not clerics or a part of any military group. Why are you risking your necks?"
        It was at this point that we learned about Verilia's vision at the grove. Reason enough to want to find out what was going on and stop it.
        "And you, lass?" Shangor asked, "what's ye're stake in all o' this?"
        I smiled at him charmingly. The guy grows on you very quickly, "I have my reasons."
        "You don't care to share them?" Kale asked. There was a hint of suspicion in his voice that I didn't like.
        "Not particularly," I quipped, "except for this."
        I handed him the letter I'd received from my uncle. He read it aloud to everyone and then handed it back to me. It wasn't the only reason I was going, of course, but he seemed satisfied with the answer, not that I gave a damn at the time whether he was satisfied or not.
        "Our last guest has arrived," The elderly servant stated. He opened the door and in stepped the mysterious elf I'd seen earlier that day. He moved into the room and cast a probing glance over us.
        "My name is Sylvan," He said before anyone could introduce themselves, "and before any of you ask why I'm here, I don't know really."
        "You were invited," A new voice said from the hallway. We all turned to see a large male human cleric of Heironeous standing in the archway.
        Sylvan grinned at him, "How much did you wager?"
        "Plenty," He replied, "but it's nothing I can spend. Welcome all. I am Bateel, the priest of Heironeous in this town. Lord Hajid and the rest of the group are waiting. Please follow me."
We all exchanged a trepidacious glance and followed the cleric down the hall to what felt like our destiny.

(12/15/02 3:35 pm)
Next Page
Well, that's the fifth and last part of the interlude. I hope you've enjoyed it. On to a new page!

PS I've posted on this thread a lot over the weekend, so you you got a lot of reading to do, starting with Session 6! ;)

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