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(9/22/03 9:09 am)
Lunge and Riposte II
Dorn's spirit was drawn back from the Vault of Souls. As his essence moved from the netherworld to the mortal realm, he dimly perceived a vast elemental engine, drawing in souls. Near its rim shone an uncorrupted stronghold of his faith. He reached out for it -

- and found himself back in his body, whole and healed.

Slaine stood over him.

"You have been brought back by the grace of the Hierarchy, Dorn of the Dwarf-lands. I shall require certain oaths from you, to ensure that your new life has...meaning."

* * *

With Bav's testimony that the mysterious vrock-summoning maiden was nearby, Sylvan decided that the group's cover in Rastor was blown. Rather than sneaking out and heading for Mount Stalagos, they would strike at the closer threat of Tal and his cohorts.

Rerrid showed them the secret back-ways of the village, allowing them to creep through Rastor unseen.

Slaine cloaked the group in a veil of silence. Bav unlocked the doors of Tal's townhouse, and they proceeded to methodically and thoroughly slaughter every one of the evil cultists and drug-dealers there. Aelfric's detect evil ensured that only the guilty were taken. A few were spared for later questioning.

They encountered only the slightest resistance - Tal had a single guard who saw them, and he was taken down by a stroke from Aelfric's sword. Tal himself tried to escape using a potion of invisibility, but under Sylvan's direction, they blocked all the exits and brought the rogue down within seconds of him vanishing.

Rerrid gathered the few people of Rastor loyal to him, and within three hours, the town was entirely secure.

* * *

In Tal's house, they found clothing belonging to the enigmatic wagoner Gilraen. Piecing together what they learned from questioning Tal and their other prisoners, they guessed that Gilraen had been replaced by a shapeshifting stranger en route from the moathouse. At first, they suspected an emissary from the the Mountain, or a rogue sorceress, or possibly even the escaped Tiefling Vacra, but finally Dorn and Sylvan hit on the answer.

"A succubus."

* * *

"Mr. Chembrish? Cembrish?"

"Call me Tal."

Sylvan nodded. Tal was tied to a chair in the ruins of an abandoned house on the outskirts of Rastor. Slaine had questioned the rogue earlier, but Sylvan wished to interrogate him again, and more thoroughly. Tal had been charmed and kept in a zone of truth.

"Tal, then...who was your guest?"

"I don't know her name. She said she was a messenger from Naquent."

"Indeed. Tell me of this Naquent."

Tal happily divulged what he knew of the mysterious priestess. Sylvan skillfully moved the interrogation onwards, getting Tal to name and describe what he knew of the mountain's defences, denizens, and activities. The interrogation took the better part of a day, but Sylvan emerged satisfied that he knew everything Tal did.

The wizard nodded to Rerrid. "Tal is yours now, to do with as you see fit. I would caution you that he may recieve a sending from his superior in the Temple, a woman named Naquent. If you kill him, and her spell therefore fails, she may send scouts to learn his fate. We shall endeavour to return before then.

Furthermore, you may rid those addicted to this Tanbrosh substance of their illness with a neutralise poison spell. There may be others, outside Rastor, who are thralls to the drug, and they may attack. Orcs, perhaps, or giants. You would do well to guard your house against attack."

Rerrud bowed. "Aye. A dwarf knows how to keep his halls. Do you intend to go onto the mountain?"

Sylvan nodded, and the dwarf continued. "Then you'll need this. There's an old secret door leading into the temple. The portal only opens to those who can solve a riddle, and I've never cracked it. It may be of some use."

Bav said "that wagon of relics from the moathouse is still in Tal's yard - we could take that and sneak in, pretending to be cultists."

"Indeed" said Slaine.

("I am the demon Balthazar" echoed inside Sylvan's head.) "No", said the wizard hurriedly, "I think attempting to decieve the cult is not the best plan, though we shall try it if we cannot enter the dwarven temple."

They set off the next morning. Behind them, Rastor seemed alive with a new hope. Rerrid and his dwarven kin were busy, rebuilding the village's defences, healing those sickened by Tanbrosh withdrawal, and generally curing the ills brought by Tal and his cronies.

Ahead of them, lightning flashed around the rim of the mountain.

* * *

"Mistress." The succubus knelt before Naquent. The demoness's robes had changed, and now she dressed like a rather tomboyish noblewoman. A rapier was at her side. Naquent glanced at the slumbering form of the paladin Valorie, and wondered if the succubus was somehow being infected with the paladin's martial nature as she fed.

"Report. What of those that destroyed my agents at the moathouse?"

"As your scrying detected, lady, they entered Rastor. They made contact with an aged, insane dwarf who fancies himself lord of Rastor, and used his home as their base."

"I shall have Tal kill him."

"Tal is dead, lady. All your agents in Rastor are dead, save those that rot in the dwarf-lord's dungeon. The Tanbrosh laboratory is destroyed, and all Tal's schemes are destroyed. Those he enraptured with the drug are free of it."

"Hedrack promised...but..." Naquent's mind spun. Tal and the Tanbrosh were a long-term plan of the cult. The loss of Tal and all the cult's influence in both Rastor and Hommlet was a disaster. Without Tal's contacts, their chances of finding the Champion in time were greatly diminished.

Naquent stumbled back onto the bed, pushing Valorie's form aside. If Hedrack reported this disaster to the Doomdreamers, Naquent could find herself fed to Chymon, or worse. And she had taken the prime sacrificial candidate Valorie to pay the succubus. Disaster upon disaster unless the intruders were stopped.

"Mistress, do not despair." The succubus' voice was almost honey-sweet with care. "I have here the rapier of Bav, a thief employed by the intruders. With this, you can scry on them - he is the weakest of will. They intend to come to the mountain, and you can warn the gatehouses. They will be caught, and slaughtered soon."

Naquent smiled.

"That's good, mistress. Don't worry about Rastor - I have a plan for retaking it. You don't need Tal and his drugs to enrapture anyone", said the succubus, "you have me."

"So your counsel is to rely on a succubus?"

"One bound to you, mistress. Unlike I have drained sweet Valorie dry, I am yours."

That gives me about a month thought Naquent, and I'm damned if I need you for that long.

(9/30/03 2:03 pm)
The Back Door
The party crouched behind a rock just off the narrow road that wound up the steep slopes. Stalagos towered above them, mighty and impregnable. The only sign of civilisation they had seen was this road, made by the dwarves centuries before. The northern branch, leading to the south door according to Tal's confession, was cut deeply and unnaturally into the rock. Multiple disintegrates guessed Sylvan. Dorn shuddered.

"According to the directions on Rerrid's scroll, the secret door should be somewhere beyond that big outcropping" said Dorn. "We should find a waterfall, and the door is behind that."

Slaine turned to the water mephit companion. "Sploosh. Go scout for the waterfall. We'll meet you there if its safe." The mephit nodded and rushed off downslope. The rest of the party crept across the road and began laboriously climbing the rocky slope.

"We'll need to inch along these cliffs, here" said Dorn. Bav grinned and nimbly scaled the first section of rock. Sylvan gritted his teeth and began climbing. Dorn was well used to mountaineering. However, the two Hierarchy agents were left standing at the base of the cliff, unable to climb more than a few feet.

"Take off your armour" suggested Dorn.

Slaine bristled at the idea. "We need this protection to smite the enemies of the Hierarchy"

"Our faith would protect us" suggested Aelfric the paladin.

"Wisely put, Sir Aelfric" said Slaine. "Indeed, the armour of faith is stronger than steel."

Sylvan banged his head off the rock. After a few minutes, the cleric and the paladin had stripped off and stowed their armour. They began to climb - and fell. Neither was especially dextrous. The party was no more than a few yards from the main road into the fortress of their enemy, and they were stuck at the first obstacle.

* * *

Sploosh found a narrow stream at the base of the mountain, and swam up it like a salmon. Soon, he was at the waterfall his human friend had spoken off. What fun! He poked his head into the water that flowed out of the mountain


The holy water in the mephit began to boil.

* * *

"Ow." Slaine picked himself up off the ground and tried climbing again. In an hour's climbing, they'd moved about fifty feet. Sylvan sat on a rock and fumed at the incompetance of the clerics. Dorn helpfully suggested techniques involving ropes and pulleys.

Bav had gone scouting. From a high place, he could see a fortified gate. Tal's information was proving accurate, at least.

Suddenly, Dorn roared "curse me for a ninnyhammer!"


"I have the cloak of arachnida we took from the cleric in Nulb. Watch this." The dwarf walked up the side of the cliff like a spider, until he was clinging to an overhang directly above Slaine and Aelfric. Dorn then dropped a rope down to them.

The party suddenly began to make excellent progress along the cliff.

* * *


The holy water was all gone now.

Darkness filled the void in the water mephit's heart. He was Olhydra's now.

Sploosh gestured and summoned another mephit. An hour later, that mephit called a third. "Bad solids are coming" said Sploosh. "We will kill them."

* * *

After two hours of scrambling (or strolling, in Dorn's case) over the cliffs around the crater, they stumbled onto a narrow ledge leading to a waterfall.

Dorn led the party forward - "The door should be behi"-

Stinking Clouds exploded all along the ledge.

Bav and Sylvan dodged back to clear air. Slaine tried to stagger forward through the choking fog, but his lungs filled with poison and he could not get far. Aelfric made it to the waterfall, and cleared the far edge of the clouds just in time to see three mephits leap out and attack him.

"Little help here!"

Dorn sprinted along the wall and down the waterfall. His axe smashed one of the mephits in two. It reformed, so he smashed it again. Between the dwarf and the paladin, the renegade mephits were destroyed quite handily.

Once the gas cleared, Slaine came up and ran his hand through the water that had been Sploosh.

"What happened?"

Aelfric shrugged. "The mephit attacked us without reason."

"Perhaps the mountain has a corruptive influence" reasoned Sylvan. "Perhaps the moathouse was not the water temple as we suspected?"

Slaine frowned at the mountain as if it had personally affronted him. "We shall purge it ALL."

* * *

"There's a little locking device here, behind the waterfall. Looks like it takes gems as the keys" said Bav. "If you give me all your gemstones, I'll -"

"Of course", interrupted Sylvan. "The dwarf riddle - it gives the order of colours. Green for emeralds, blue for sapphires, perhaps, or crystals, red for rubies."

"Exactly, so if you give me all your gemstones, I can-"

"We have no time for this." Slaine pushed Bav out of the way and struck the dwarf-door with a stone shape. The secret door was forced open.

The way into the mountain was open.

(9/30/03 2:07 pm)
Wonderful Things
Dorn took Slaine's lantern and shone the beam into the darkness. The light glimmered off carvings of stern dwarves. It glittered on the polished stone floors, and shone on the surface of the massive anvil-altar. Then crystals in the ceiling caught the light, and magnified it, and in a glorious crescendo of illumination threw in back into the temple. Dorn blinked back tears of pride, and began to step over the threshold.

Slyvan laid a hand on his shoulder. "No - it might be trapped. Bav?"

Bav poked at the threshold, found nothing, noticed some gemstones, jumped into the temple, heard a huge grinding noise, and immediately jumped back out.

"It's not trapped, but there's something in there."

Slaine tested Bav's theory by stepping over the threshold himself. The grinding noise reappeared, and Slaine saw something moving in the darkness. He turned and walked back out.

"Perhaps it is keyed to my kind" said Dorn. He entered the temple, and all remained calm. "I AM DORN AXEBITER, CLERIC OF HAMMER ASPECT. I CLAIM SANCTUARY HERE FOR MYSELF AND MY ALLIES."

The temple remained silent even after the rest of them entered.

* * *

"To sum up", said Sylvan, "we've got (1) a large temple (containing a guardian of some sort, which we still haven't actually seen, and don't especially want to), (2) one small sanctum (containing an emerald that Dorn claims contains the essence of all stone everywhere, and won't let us touch anyway, (3) a holy water font (that only works for dwarves), (4) a feasthall and some supplies (which are rather old and possibly lethal), (5) a trapped door, (6) a locked door and (7) a locked and trapped door."

"How do you speak in brackets?" muttered Bav.

"I believe this temple is safe enough" said Slaine. "All we need to do is work out how to open those main doors."

"I shall knock" declaimed Sylvan. "Follow me."

The party trooped after him. As they approached the main door of the temple, Aelfric said "hang on, where's Bav?"

There was a tremendous crash from behind them. They ran back to the locked and trapped doors. The ceiling had opened, disgorging tons of boulders. Bav stood sheepishly in the middle of this utter devastation. A tiny six-inch-square section of floor had escaped being smashed by falling stones, and he had happened to be standing there.*


* * *
Sylvan blasted the main doors open. They found evidence that the doors had closed of their own accord in the past, so Dorn wedged them open with a bench from the feasthall. He then used his cloak of the arachnida to get the party over the pit trap.

They scouted down the corridor. Their lanterns brought light to corridors dark for centuries.

"Y'know" said Aelfric, "someone might notice this light."

"Like those orcs?"

The tunnels filled with war cries.

Bav shot an arrow into the darkness, and it found its mark. Sylvan quickly incanted a spell. They all heard his voice as if he was whispering in their ears. *This is a message spell. It will allow us all to communicate over distance. Dorn, block that corridor. Aelfric, Bav, the northern branch.*

Then the orcs were upon them. Dorn threw a web at his targets, then began to hack through them. Aelfric and Bav were hard pressed, especially when four orcs landed crippling blows on the paladin**. It was only through Slaine's divine healing that the paladin stayed standing. He cleaved through the orc chieftain, and pushed down the corridor - into an ambush. Orcs were everywhere - leaping out of the shadows, firing crossbows, pushing clumsy siege engines, stabbing, biting, clawing...but most of all dying.

"BARUK KHAZAD!" roared Dorn, who had run through his own spiderweb and now attacked the orcs from the rear. The orcish line faltered, then collapsed. The orcs fled, but there was nowhere for them to go. Swords glittered in the lantern-light, flashed once, and came back dripping with gore. A river of blood lapped around their feet and flowed down the tunnel.

* * *

In another cave, Bav found a hydra.

"RUN AWAY!!!!"

They regrouped, buffed, hasted, and charged.

The hydra looked up blearily, grunted once, then fell over dead, bleeding from the vast gaping wounds inflicted on it by the party's blades and spells.

"The Hierarchy blesses us!" said Slaine.
"Praised be the Hierarchy" said Aelfric.
"Efficient" admitted Sylvan.
"And there's a secret door here" said Bav.
Dorn did some stonework calculations in his head. "That should lead back into the temple. Convenient."

"Excellent, excellent". Sylvan rubbed his hands. "We have almost secured the area around the temple, and done it all without any significant loss. We'll just scout these last few caves, and head back."

They took up their weapons and walked east - towards the Temple of Air.

*: Bav has AC22. The stone trap inflicts 10d6 damage, and has an attack of +20. I roll a 1 and miss. Typical.
**: Four criticals in two rounds from the orcs.

Edited by: Mytholder at: 10/9/03 2:26 am
(10/11/03 7:47 am)
Re: Wonderful Things
Love the log, please keep it up! :D

(10/11/03 5:19 pm)
The Air Temple I
Bav darted through shadows and hid behind rocks. He was one with the darkness, perfectly stealthy and utterly unseen, the perfect scout.

He was so stealty, in fact, he crept past the four gnolls and their half-orc captain without either group seeing the other. It was only when Slaine's lantern was spotted that the gnolls attacked. A hail of arrows bombarded the party.

"Ambush!" shouted Dorn, rushing forward to strike at the half-orc. Sylvan shrugged and tossed a fireball into the middle of the gnolls. "Let's just finish this quickly."

Gnoll-hair burned as the four gnolls were incinerated. Graud staggered out of the flames, his red eyes gleaming as his sword smashed Dorn's shield aside and dealt the dwarf a wicked blow. Aelfric and Slaine advanced on the half-orc, and Bav circled around to attack Graud from behind.

And then Bav looked over his shoulder.

Just to his south was a gleaming marble hall, filled with writhing smoke, robed priests, sacrificial altars and a palpable aura of evil.

"Uh, guys?"

Horns sounded to the south. Human guards poured into the cave, blocking their retreat to the dwarf temple. In the marble hall, Fachish began to invoke an air elemental. Four cave-bear skeletons under the cleric Chorath lumbered forward.


Sylvan was the first to reach. He ran forward and hurled a lightining bolt at the chanting priest, exhausting his third level spell reserve. The priest grunted as electrical energy blasted through him, but he completed the rite, and an elemental formed on the altar.

Sylvan shouted orders to the rest of the party, forgetting about his message spell in the heat of battle.
"Aelfric! Get those guards! We need a retreat! Everyone else - kill that cursed cleric!" Dorn sprinted past Bav and Sylvan, charged up onto the altar, and smashed his axe into Fachish's side. The cleric yelped and fled. Dorn tried to follow, but the air elemental transformed into a whirlwind and swept the dwarf up, slamming him into the ceiling of the temple.

"Slaine! Get that cleric!" shouted Sylvan. The inquisitor charged after Fachish. The elemental on the altar wavered for a moment, then swept forward, still carrying Dorn. It tried to suck Bav into its vortex, but the rogue dodged. It then zoomed past Sylvan.

Aelfric fought valiantly against the horde of guards. His sword sliced through one, and a well-placed kick felled another one. He clashed shields with another, driving the smaller man back and then driving his sword through a gap in the guard's armour. He hammered at the armour of the fourth, but could not find a weak spot.

Then the elemental was upon him. The world span, and the cave ceiling smashed into his face.

* * *

Slaine followed Fachish south, hewing at the fleeing cleric. The master of the Air Temple spat spells at Slaine. Hold Person failed to stop the Inquisitor. Confusion did not dissuade him. Finally, Fachish screamed "damn your eyes" and blinded Slaine.

The inquisitor blinked, shrugged and let faith guide his hand.

His mace caught Fachish in the lung. With a ghastly cracking noise, the master of the air temple breathed his last.

A cave bear skeleton clattered into position behind Slaine. Beyond, a door at the end of the corridor opened, and a heavily armoured warrior appeared. Slaine was blind and trapped between two foes.

* * *

Sylvan looked around - Slaine was blind and trapped. Bav was duelling one of the cave bears, blocking the monster from advancing, but unable to injure it with his rapier. Both Aelfric and Dorn were trapped in the air elemental, visible only as bloodied blurs as the elemental hurled them into every wall and rocky protrusion it could find.

More guards arrived. The whole temple was in uproar now. Choranth cast Hold Person on Bav, but the thief managed to resist. Still, Sylvan knew that he could not hold out for long.

The wizard came from the Kingdom of Carcassone, a land of duellists, of noble knight and chivalry, a land where the troubadours delighted in songs of heroism and valiant last stands.

Bereft of spells, he drew his wand of magic missiles. He held it before him like a fencing foil.

"En garde..." he muttered as the guards closed in.

Edited by: Mytholder at: 10/11/03 5:21 pm
(10/11/03 6:10 pm)
Advice they should head if they get out of this..

Don't split the party.

(10/11/03 9:26 pm)
Re: Ouch.
You are kind (at least) not to silence the air elemental.

"Don't split the party."

DestyNova1 speaketh the truth.

(10/12/03 5:21 am)
Re: Ouch.
Fachish didn't have time. By the time he'd summoned the elemental, Dorn was on top of him.

(11/17/03 3:30 am)
The Air Temple II
Spinning around inside the elemental, Dorn and Aelfric desperately tried to cut their way free. Their enchanted blades did bite into the airy form of the elemental, but it spun on, slamming them into the walls of the cave. It danced back into the Air Temple, making for the stairway to the balcony over the lake.

Bav was backed into a corner, duelling with the skeletal bears. His rapier could not injure the horrors, but he was able to block their attacks and stop them from reaching Sylvan. The wizard's wand of magic missiles spat darts of energy at the approaching guards.

Another cave bear clatteringly charged towards Slaine.

"Slaine" shouted Bav. "Undead thing. Behind you. Turn!"

The blind cleric obligingly turned around and waved his mace hesitantly. Bav ducked under the flailing bone-claws of his bear adversary and shouted.

"No" BLOCK "turn them!" PARRY " Do something holy, NOW!"

Slaine slapped his chest, found his holy symbol and brandished in the face of the skeletal bear. "BEGONE!" The bear obligingly turned around and lumbered away from the cleric - towards Bav.

"Oh, wonderful."

Another cleric, the mistress of the cave bears, approached Slaine. "Prepare to die, Hierar-". Her speech was cut off when Slaine blindly swung his mace and hit her solidly in the chest. She stagged back, then drew her own weapon. A door at the end of the corridor opened, and an armoured man strode forward.

"Kellial" said Chorath. "Make this one bleed." The master of the south gate ordered his ogres forward along the other corridor, then advanced on Slaine.

* * *

With a last effort, Dorn drove his axe into the calm at the heart of the whirlwind. The elemental exploded in a rain of small stones, gusts of wind, dwarf and paladin.

"Aelfric! Help us kill the skeletons" ordered Slyvan.

A squad of ogres appeared on the far side of the temple.

"Er...kill the ogres too. Dorn, get Slaine out of there!"

Slaine was trapped between Chorath and Kellial. The cleric put up a valiant fight, but Kellial's sword was keen indeed. A half-dozen blows smashed into Slaine's plate armour, and blood soon welled up through the cracks.

Dorn darted along the wall of the Air Temple and dropped down behind Chorath. He paused for a moment, tried to think of something witty to say, then shrugged and slammed his axe into her. She staggered - but on the far side of her, Slaine fell.

Kellial grinned.

Dorn nodded grimly, then struck Chorath again with his axe. The cleric fell to the ground, leaving the corridor clear for the two fighters to clash. Stepping over the bleeding forms of their allies, the two charged at each other.

* * *

Aelfric looked around. Bav and Slyvan were still being menaced by the cave bear skeletons, and his sword would be as ineffective as a rapier. The ogres and foot troops massing on the far side of the temple would soon overwhelm them.

Inspiration struck. He made an earnest prayer to the Hierarchy, and his shining white horse cantered into the temple. Aelfric pointed at the cave bear skeletons. The horse broke into a gallop, then leaped. Its shining hooves smashed through the skull of one skeleton instantly.

Bav cheered. Sylvan took the opportunity to send a brace of magic missiles down at Chorath's stunned form. She collapsed in a heap.

The paladin turned and attacked the ogres.

* * *

"Dwarf" drawled Kellial. "I am Kellial, Lord of the South Gate, Master Swordsman of the School of Isil; my dragon banner has never been taken in battle, nor has my sword ever gone without tasting the blood of my-"

Dorn whacked Kellial with his axe twice, and followed up with an off-hand shield blow for good measure. "I am Dorn. This is a dwarven mountain, and we're taking it back."

Aelfric's horse kicked through the bones of another skeleton. "Cheers", muttered Bav as the bear that had been clawing at him for an eternity shattered. He ran forward to aid Aelfric. The paladin's sword flashed and cut. Two ogres fell.

Kellial fell to Dorn's attack.

Bav cut down the last of the guards blocking their retreat.

The tide turned.

* * *

Dorn staggered back into the temple, dragging Slaine's unconcious form. Aelfric was tending to his horse, while Bav rooted through the piled bodies.

"If it wasn't for that horse, we'd be dead" said Bav.

"We should get out of here now" said Dorn. "Back to the refuge of the dwarven temple. Where is Sylvan?"

"A load of the temple guards ran out the South Gate. Sylvan's gone to shut the gate."

The wizard returned. "All the guards gone?" asked Bav.

Sylvan holstered a nearly-exhausted wand of magic missiles. "Yes. All gone. Aelfric, help Dorn with Slaine. Bav...that, that, and that are magical. Take them and leave the rest."

* * *

They returned the next day. Slaine consecrated the altar, destroying it. The Air Temple was broken.

Sorry about the delay in updating - it's been a hectic few weeks. We're several sessions ahead of this now (they just repelled a giant attack on Rastor last night, which cost one character his life), and I'll try to catch up with the updates soon....

(11/18/03 6:08 am)
Settling Dust
They returned two days later, to search the temple. Dorn eagerly gathered the gold and masterwork weapons, while Aelfric and Slaine were more concerned with fortifying the south gate and securing the evil relics. They had found a handy haversack earlier, and had blessed and warded one pocket for use as an "evidence bag".

Bav and Sylvan were more interested in the surprisingly well-stocked wine cabinet of the Master of the Air Temple. While Sylvan searched for cheese, Bav wandered out onto the balcony.

For the first time, he realised the sheer scare of the Mount Stalagos Complex.

Three massive stone bridges crossed a wide, stagnant lake, meeting at an obsidian island. A massive black spike stood in the centre of the isle. To his horror, he realised that the spike was identical in shape to the obelisk in the moathouse.

He glimpsed other details - the lightning towers, the small boats bobbing in the lake, the brooding clouds that hung over the mountain - before he noticed the eyes in the lake. He squeaked and fled back into the temple.

"There's something out there!"

Sylvan swept the wine into a bag, and shouted down to Slaine. "Move, quickly!" Aelfric quickly barricaded the exits from the Air Temple, and they fled back towards the secret entrance to the dwarf temple. As they approached the door, Bav heard a loud splash from the hydra cave.

"Ignore it" ordered Sylvan.

* * *

Once they were all inside, Sylvan used clairvoyance to observe the hydra cave.

"It's a dragon."

Aelfric's hand tightened on his sword.

"And it's....scratching a note into the ground. He' the people who destroyed the air midnight."

"He wants to say hi?" said Bav.

"Or attack us" said Dorn.

"He's gone" said Sylvan, "back through the hydra's tunnel to the lake."

* * *

There were still several hours before midnight, so they left the dwarf temple and headed north-west, through the orc-caves. After traipsing through the blood-stained caverns, they came to the two barricaded doors at the north end of the orc complex.

Bav put on his best orcish voice.

"Rrgh. Help! Let me (who am orc) in. All orcs dead! Help!"

The door opened, and the party rushed in.

"NOW!" roared D'Gran.

The ambush began.

(11/30/03 5:19 pm)
The Fire Bridge
Slaine and Bav charged in to engage the gnolls, while Dorn and Aelfric quickly formed a defensive line. Sylvan and Tippesh traded fireballs, and the evil wizard came off the worse. Roaring, D'Gran ordered his troops forward.

Dorn drew on the powers of his cloak, and a web shot out, trapping D'Gran, Tippesh, Heunar and one of the giants. D'Gran cursed and melted into gas. Sylvan hurled another fireball, but the ogre mage slipped through a keyhole before the blast struck.

Tippesh and Heunar were not so lucky. Even with their protective spells, the blast destroyed them.

A few quick chops later, the southern half of the complex was almost clear. The party pulled around the corner and hastily buffed. When Rau and Vech pushed through the burning web, they were met by Aelfric the Paladin - enlarged, blessed and strengthened with every buff spell they had. Slaine stood behind him, his hands glowing with healing energy so the paladin's wounds closed as soon as they opened.

When D'Gran appeared again and blasted the party with a cone of cold, he was met by a barrage of magic missiles and spiritual hammers. Simultaneously with his attack, the double doors opposite the bridge flew open, and two trolls holding terrible lizards on leashes emerged.

Aelfric's ten-foot-long blade flashed twice, and the two lizards fell dead. The trolls slashed at the paladin, wounding him severely, but Slaine was there to prop him up.

D'Gran became a fly and tried to escape, but a pin-point magic missile burst brought him down and - humiliation of humiliations - a create water spell conjured a puddle to drown the fly.

The remaining forces of the bridge complex were slaughtered hastily.

"Whew" said Bav.

"A worthy fight" said Dorn, "I salute you, Sir Aelfric".

"THANK YOU, FRIEND DWARF" boomed Aelfic, "BUT I OWE MUCH TO inquisitor Slaine". His voice suddenly dropped as the enlarge person wore off.

Slaine opened a cupboard to discover the unconscious form of a halfling. "A prisoner!" he muttered, and used the last of his healing magic to cure some of her wounds.

"Grab her and MOVE" said Sylvan. The wizard had been searching through the possessions of the wizards and D'Gran with detect magic, and was holding a scroll.

"Good haul?" asked Bav, reaching for the scroll.

"No questions. Move. Now."

* * *

They slipped back into the dwarven temple via the secret door. Slaine turned to Sylvan the moment the door was shut.

"What's on the scroll?"

"Basically, we're rumbled. This is a letter from someone called Naquent to D'Gran, warning him of our coming. They know our names, our abilities, they know my favourite spells...everything. We've lost the element of surprise completely."

"The sorceress who summoned the vrock in Rastor..." wondered Aelfric. Dorn growled.

Bav was reading the note over Sylvan's shoulder. "Hang on, it's not that bad. She insists that D'Gran take us alive, and secretly. They knew we were coming, but we still defeated them handily."

"Bav is correct. This changes nothing."

"That is an assumption I am not willing to make" snapped Sylvan.

"In any will take them time to respond to the destruction of the bridge complex."

"I thought that was the Fire Temple", said Bav. "Doesn't D'Gran work for the Fire Temple?"

"Yes...but the temple's to the east, I think. I don't know why the bridge is so far from the Temple" said Slaine.

"What about our appointment?" said Aelfric.


"That dragon. The one who wants to meet us at midnight?"

"Oh" said Slaine. "Him."

"We are in no shape to fight a dragon today" said Dorn.

Sylvan flipped through his spellbook idly, then stopped. "I have an idea. Follow me!"

(11/30/03 5:47 pm)
And you would get another post tonight, about their meeting with Vranthis, but I managed to close the window instead of posting, 'cos I'm a freaking genius.

Reports are currently about five sessions behind. Just had my first use of lesser planar ally by the good guys. Holy smeg, but Movanic Devas rock as allies...

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