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(10/25/03 6:30 pm)
shilsen's Campaign Log

I'm a player in a RttToEE campaign which just wrapped up today. We'd been keeping a campaign log in the form of a journal from shortly after entering the Crater Ridge Mines. I'll be posting the journal entries every few days. Comments and questions are very welcome. So, without further ado:


Arwan: A scholar and necromancer from Celene, Arwan had to flee his homeland for reasons unknown to his companions. He met Joshua in Verbobonc and travelled to Hommlet with him, where both joined the party. He has made it amply clear to everyone in the party that he is only interested in his own benefit, but remains a member of the party primarily due to circumstances and his undoubted ability as a spellcaster. Interests: Arcane knowledge (esp. ancient tomes), personal power & dissecting cadavers.

Brandon: The only surviving member of the original party. A worshipper of Kord from Irongate, far to the East of the Flanaess, Brandon had a dream and travelled to Verbobonc to discover his destiny. Young and impetuous, Brandon's solution to most problems is to charge it and hit it with his greatsword. He functions as one of the party's front-line combatants, a role he is very happy to fulfil. Interests: Swordplay, ale and women, especially large ones.

Eranilor: A former teacher, scout and bounty hunter from Celene, Eranilor was travelling to Greyhawk City with his lover when a bandit attack slew her. Reaching Greyhawk & seeking work, he was hired by the archmage Jallarzi and sent south to Hommlet to join the party. Preternaturally calm and self-possessed, Eranilor uses his archery, alertness and intelligence to deal with most problems. Interests: Literature, philosophy & studying different sentient species.

Gillian: (NPC) A captive freed by the party in their adventures, the elven swordsman Gillian now fights alongside his rescuers. Quiet and not particularly communicative, he is a useful member of the party as one of its two front-line fighters (along with Brandon).

Joshua: Young, naive, overweight Joshua is an erstwhile member of the temple of St. Cuthbert at Verbobonc. An orphan raised by the temple, Joshua never lived beyond its walls for any real period of time until Bishop Heufran asked him to travel to Hommlet and aid the party there. Events that have occurred since have shocked and amazed the young priest, and he holds to his faith as the only constant thing in a world of contradictions. Interests: Prayer, ale, and smiting the enemies of St. Cuthbert.

Tink: The newest member of the party, the little kender is fearless and happy-go-lucky, although both qualities are being sorely tested by her experiences in the Crater Ridge Mines. As the party's primary scout and rogue, she makes her presence strongly felt in combat and outside it, but often feels her position and opinions are underestimated or disregarded by most of the other members of the party (both due to stature and gender). Interests: Pretty trinkets, new experiences, and sneak attacking enemies thrice (and more) her size.


The original members of the party were hired in Verbobonc by Jolene (princess of Veluna & bride to Thrommel) and various powerful civic leaders to locate Prince Thrommel, heir to Furyondy, who had recently been kidnapped by unknown forces. They were also asked to investigate a potential re-emergence of the old Temple of Elemental Evil near Hommlet. Investigating the area around Hommlet, they visited the abandoned Moathouse (an ancient evil outpost), Nulb (also abandoned former bandit town), & the site of the old Temple. They fought troglodytes, various humanoids, undead, and even a young blue dragon. They garnered a lot of information about the re-emergence of the Temple in the vicinity of a town called Rastor, but no information about Thrommel. There were also rumours about a plague in the Greyhawk City area, caused by travellers from another plane (one of whom the party encountered). With certain members leaving, the party took its current form (other than Tink) and decided to travel to Rastor. Arriving there, the party found the cultists and followed them to their base in an old dwarf mine in an extinct volcano, Stalagos. Entering the Crater Ridge Mines through the less-guarded of two entrances, the party fought and destroyed an elemental temple dedicated to the element of Earth. Finding maps depicting much of the mines, including the locations of 3 other elemental temples & three bridges leading to a central island on the lake in the crater, the party continued onwards. Eventually they fought and dstroyed the guard-post at the head of the nearest bridge. At that point, the journals begin...


Entry 1 (Eranilor):
Arwan - Elf Necro5/Alienist1
Brandon - Human Rgr2/Clr5 (Kord)
Eranilor - Elf Rgr2/Rog3/Deepwood Sniper2
Gillian - Elf Ftr6
Joshua - Human Clr6 (St. Cuthbert)
Tink - Kender Wiz3/Rog3

...after we cleared out the bridge complex (apparently the Northern Bridge Complex, from a note we found in the duergar's room), we decided to check out the surrounding area and make sure it's safe. Had to wait for a bit because Brandon wanted to give that weird beast (the one which charmed him) a funeral! Scared the crap out of the cook who was hiding in the kitchen when he busted in and set the thing on fire.

Anyway, we found a battle going on in another tunnel, between a number of Temple guards and a pair of owlbears. Brandon seemed to want to pretend to be friends, so we helped them out. Whatever his brain may be doing, our resident Kordite is definitely getting better with that greatsword of his. Didn't do too badly with my sword either, even if it's less than half the size of his. Poor Gillian spent most of the fight tangled up in a net trap that he triggered, with Arwan and Joshua trying to help him, although Arwan took time off to fire one of his magic missiles at one of the owlbears. He seems to be getting more skilled too, since now he's firing 4 missiles at a time instead of one. Racist or not, as long as he's pulling his weight in the party, I'm happy. Anyway, rather than the opposition, what was interesting about the fight occurred in the middle of it. There were a few crates around and suddenly this little figure (halfling-size) popped out of one and fired a magic missile (just one - not in Arwan's league) at an owlbear. Had a weirdly colorful suit of armor, red hair in a topknot, and looked to be in her teens.

I spoke to her (can't recall - or pronounce - her full name, but Tink will do) after the fight, and it seems she snuck into the Temple in a crate along with some friends, hoping to loot it (obviously she's a genius!), and emerged to find her friends gone. She's been hiding here ever since, and the Temple guys had been looking for her. No surprise that they didn't find her, since she's extremely quiet and stealthy (definitely has enchanted items on her), but I doubt she'd have lasted long if she pops out of her hiding place when she hears a battle going on outside. Arwan claims she's from another plane of existence! He may be right, since I know that infinite species do exist out there (that university education wasn't totally wasted on me). Funny how elves and humans (and, come to think of it, every species I know of) know this and still regard themselves as wonderfully important in the scheme of things. The more time you spend with supposedly sentient species, the more you realize that they aren't all that bright.

Anyway, after the owlbears were dead, Brandon spent all of 2 minutes trying to persuade the 3 surviving Temple guys that we were on their side, before losing patience and attacking them. Can't complain, since that's probably a record for him. We killed 2 and took the third prisoner. After that, we checked out the rest of the area, while talking to Tink. We found a barracks we hadn't checked before, presumably occupied by all the troops we killed. Picked up some supplies and a lot more arrows. We heard some growling heading in our direction, and popped into the corridor to find a pair of ten-foot tall apes heading for us. We knew there were cave apes around (mentioned on the duergar's note), so no surprise, but I'm curious where all these creatures come from. Anyway, turned out to be 4 apes (3 females), plus a big leader-type. The fight wasn't difficult, although Brandon and Gillian took some heavy damage (no surprise there!). At one point I actually moved up to take the big ape's charge, since Brandon looked like he needed a breather (possibly because I'd just shot him in the back by mistake - that'll teach me not to shoot while people are in front of me!). Thought I might actually blow my record of not being wounded since I met these guys, but still wasn't touched. Arwan summoned a 6 ft long weasel (don't ask!) during the fight, and Joshua did a single amazing blow on the ape that actually buckled its knees. He claims it's a gift from St. Cuthbert, which allows him to smite his enemies. I'm pretty sure every kobold shaman believes that he has special dispensation from his god (Kurtulmak, I think) to smite his foes, but as long as it works, what do I care?

After the fight, four of us (not Arwan or Tink) went and checked out the apes' caves. Didn't find any more, which is strange, since one would expect either a larger number of females and young (if they've been here for a while), or an opening to the outside, if they entered here recently. We did find some manacles (ape-size), and we know hobs tend to keep captive apes as combat backup, so maybe they were brought here. Haven't seen a single hob in here, of course. This place seems to produce more questions the further we go on. As Hamlet might have said, there are more things in the Temple, Eranilor, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Reminds me, I haven't read my Shakespeare in a while. I never asked these guys, but I'm fairly sure none of them will have read much (if any) of his works. None of them is from Greyhawk, but Shakespeare was famous all over the Flanaess. Arwan's the only one who's fairly well-read, and I don't see him as a drama buff. Guess I'm the only adventurer who carries a pair of drama books in his backpack.

We found no more apes, but we did find 4 troglodytes and killed them. I'm a little tired of all this killing, but it's them or us. Also found some treasure, including a magical longsword with a wave pattern on it. I wonder if it has any powers like the earth-marked sword that Brandon used until the destruction of the Earth temple destroyed it too. We returned to find Arwan had disemboweled one of the apes (& talked Tink into doing that to another couple), to study their anatomy. I'm as interested in anatomy as the next guy (more, in fact), but leaving trails of ape guts all over the floor is not my idea of fun. Anyhow, we decided to interrogate the prisoner after that. She wasn't particularly cooperative, despite Brandon knocking her on the head a few times, but paid a lot more attention when I explained that I wasn't interested in torturing her, so either she told us something useful or I killed her. A couple of the others (esp. Tink and Brandon) looked at me a little funny when I said that, but I wasn't kidding. It's a little stupid to have issues with killing someone, but not have problems with sticking 4 ft of steel into someone who's distracted in combat by another opponent. Anyway, the woman (called Zoe) made out I wasn't lying, and became somewhat more cooperative, but she really didn't know much. So we went ahead and made camp.

I was still wondering what to do with Zoe, since I'd much rather give her a quick death, than leave her tied up somewhere to starve, but the problem was resolved while I was in reverie. When my watch came up, Joshua told me (Arwan and he had first watch) that Arwan went to check on the prisoner and came back to say she tried to escape and he killed her. I'd bet a few platinum pieces that Arwan's lying. I wonder what he thinks he had to gain from killing her. I need to talk to him sometime. Nothing happened over the rest of my watch. When Brandon and Tink took the last watch, I curled up with my Shakespeare. Not having to rest for more than four hours a night can be really helpful sometime, although I've always been a little curious about the whole concept of dreams and sleep, and how their lack may affect the way elves differ from other species. Maybe I'll get a chance to study up on that after we get out of here. That should be an "if", but then I'm invulnerable, remember?

In the morning, we headed off towards the north. There's no way I'm crossing that bridge (a map Tink had found calls it the "Air Bridge") while there are other troops in this complex, and I'm glad everyone else seems to agree. Tink's map said that there was a hag up north, before the Water Temple, and she said she'd heard cackling coming from the north on one of her earlier "expeditions" from her crate. Cackling! How clichéd can one get? We found a large cavern filled with a lake from wall to wall, with a boat drawn up on the shore. We left Gillian and Joshua on the shore and headed across. There was a large stone pillar sticking out of the water, so Brandon suggested we investigate it. There were handholds on the side, as well as a ledge, and as soon as we pulled up next to it, Tink hopped out onto the ledge. As she did so, a rock thrown from above landed next to the boat, rocking it. I looked up to see the hag looking down on us from a higher ledge.

When I saw her, I felt a strange weakness run up my limbs for a moment (and judging from the sounds made by the others, so did they), but it passed immediately. I quickly nocked an arrow and hit her, while Arwan also scrambled out of the boat. The hag immediately leapt off the cliff, clear over the boat into the water. As all of us scanned the water, she came up right below the boat and tipped it over. Luckily, I managed to hurl myself onto the ledge, but Brandon landed in the water. Before the hag could submerge, Arwan nailed her with a volley of magical orbs (apparently a new spell he'd been working on, called sonic orb), and Tink and I followed suit with a volley of arrows. The hag sank back down into the water, presumably dead. We pulled Brandon out, and I suggested trying to retrieve the body. I got the others to hold onto one end of a rope, and dived into the water in search of the body. I was half-expecting to find the hag alive and in wait for me, but figured it might be worth the risk. Plus I haven't had a chance to bathe since entering this place and I really felt grimy. Turned out to be worth it, since I had no problem finding the body, and the others pulled it up with the rope. Turned out to be wearing really powerful bracers of strength, so it was worth it. I would have liked to retain them, but Bandon suggested giving them to Gillian, and since he's the frontline fighter along with Brandon I figured that made more sense. If I'm lucky, the next opponent will be wearing gauntlets of dexterity that are stronger than mine! Tink, meanwhile, had climbed up the rock to the cleft the hag had been sitting in, and found a potion of blur and some nice pearls. A pretty good haul overall, for just a couple moments of tension. Even Brandon wasn't injured, which must be a record of some kind for us!

Anyway, continuing on...

Edited by: shilsen at: 12/9/03 4:05 am
(10/28/03 6:42 pm)
Session 2
Here's the journal for the next session, this one written by our resident necromancer, with a helthy dose of Cthulhoid insanity thrown in.

Entry 2 (Arwan):
Arwan - Elf Necro5/Alienist2
Brandon - Human Rg2/Clr6 (Kord)
Eranilor - Elf Rgr2/Rog4/Sniper2
Gillian - Elf Ftr7
Joshua - Human Clr7 (St. Cuthbert)
Tink - Kender Wiz3/Rog4

It is all as Master Merik said. I feel the time of the conjunction drawing near. Soon the stars will reach the proper alignment and the walls between worlds will grow thin, the walls between us and the plane of imprisonment that holds Them. No longer bound by Their ancient pact with the Elder Gods, it is not a question of if They will return but when and, more importantly, where. I suspect that the prayers of those who dwell in the elemental temple, unwittingly or otherwise, will assure that They break through here. The proper preparations must be made before Their coming otherwise all is lost. Lacking the power or knowledge of their forbearers, the puny demigods of this twilight age cannot hold Them back. Once They have overcome the weak gods of this world They will begin a campaign of conquest that will engulf the entire universe in a tide of darkness.

This is how Master Merik explained it to me. In the beginning, before the Age of Dragons or Elementals, before any other thing that moved or breathed, there were only Them. After the Great War of Banishment and the chaining of Their servants, the Old Ones, came god-worship and the first Age of Miracles. After thousands of cycles the Elder Gods were forgotten and with their passing the celestials, the cosmic races that enforced their will, departed from the material planes, bringing the first Age of Miracles to an end. Other ages came and went. Some ages rediscovered god-worship, bringing about new gods and Ages of Miracles, while others were ages of power and magic, of fire and steel. Only They remain unchanged, for They are immortal and have waited with inhuman patience with the proper aligning of the spheres. That time is now.

The elemental priests have no idea what it is they really worship and whose return they hasten with their prayers, but I think I have figured it out. The earth temple venerates the fertility deity known as the Black Goat of the Woods (a possible reference to an obscure satyr-god, perhaps implying she is his mate). The god of the water temple is the squid-thing that lies dead and dreaming in a sunken corpse-city beneath the seas of another world (though I still don’t understand why a water deity would be imprisoned under water). The fire temple deity would have to be Cthuga, the only fire-related member of the pantheon, meaning a confrontation with his fire-vampire minions is possible. Though the priestess of the water temple said the temple of air is the weakest I find that hard to believe. That temple’s patron is undoubtedly He Who Must Not Be Named, and I am loath to face anyone capable of bringing the wrath of the Unspeakable One to bear.

That leaves the Elder Elemental Eye. It is obvious this is only a guise behind which something else lurks as the others hide behind air, earth, fire, and water. There is mention of an Old One that manifests as a great, unblinking eye. I suspect the Elemental Eye is one of greater stature however, perhaps the Key and Guardian of the Gate or maybe even the daemon sultan himself. I mentioned the time of conjunction, and perhaps my greatest enemy is time. I believe I have deduced the identity of the other gods of the elemental temple and can make the necessary preparations, but I must also ascertain the true name and nature of that which lurks behind the mask of the Elder Elemental Eye before the conjunction, else all is lost. Master Merik is counting on me; he waits on the other side and I must not fail him.

…after our confrontation with the hag (a creature even more loathsome in person than I believed possible), assailants of disparate natures attacked us. The alien halfling Tink, the gray elf archer Eranilor, the Kordite priest Brandon and myself were still on the hag’s island when combat began and thus spared from the initial assault. The first attack came in the form of noxious spells that did grievous damage to our two comrades, the elven fighter Gillian and the human priest Joshua, who had remained behind. Next came a raging dwarf (a foe-hunter of elves, undoubtedly) who immediately set upon a still-dazed Gillian.

My other comrades boarded our modest boat and set off for the sub terrene lake’s shore while I strategically elected to remain behind. From this vantage point I could better ascertain the location of the spell-caster behind the acidic barrage that melted armor and flesh alike. It was not a wizard that I noticed, however, but a crocodile of enormous proportions and baleful red eyes (a summoned fiendish specimen, perhaps?) threatening to swamp the boat. A magic missile distracted him long enough to allow the others to reach the shore and render assistance to the now prone Gillian and the priest human priest Joshua.

Between the Kordite and the archer the battle with the dwarf went quickly, though unfortunately for Gillian it was already too late. Joshua had also sustained damage, but remained conscious and was able to tend to his own wounds with priestly spells. The crocodile started to follow the others onto shore, most likely intent on first making a quick snack of Tink (thus robbing me of the possibility of a future dissection), whom in turn seemed determined to do battle with it. Another magic missile brought it back into the water, either to seek safety or come after me, but it immediately vanished from sight (not into the water but in the proverbial puff of smoke), undoubtedly returning to the hell-dimension from whence it came.

Brandon (in yet another example of the suicidal tendencies seemingly inherent in all Kordites) apparently saw the wizard responsible for the initial spell-assault and charged after him only to be cut down by the yet another burst of arcane energy. The wizard then vanished in the manner of his conjured croc. This is the first time I have seen the Kordite laid low. The wizard (for some reason the name Nelbor comes to mind) must be a spell-caster of no small power, and perhaps it is best I stayed on the island. I would be more than grateful for a glance at his spell-book, however, though the chances of that happening are about equal to that of a warm reception was I ever again to grace the exquisitely sterile halls of Celene.

The bodies of Gillian and the dwarf were disposed of in a most logical manner, weighted with stone and dumped in the hag’s (past tense) lake, but not before they were thoroughly looted. I can’t say I disapprove of that; their possessions certainly are no longer of any use to them, but I am obligated to wonder if, circumstances providing, the same treatment awaits me. If it comes to that, however, I will certainly be in no position to protest or complain, so it is not a thought worth pursuing.

I believe it was about the time the aquatic, frog-like kuo-toans made their presence known and presented us with a request for the pleasure of our company courtesy of their priestess-queen. Could we have fought our way past them? Perhaps, but sometimes it is wiser to “go with the flow” and see where events lead. As it was, we willingly accompanied them to parts unknown.

We traveled for what felt like miles through the twisting streams that wind through the elemental temple’s underbelly (the distance was in fact about a hundred feet) before arriving at the throne of the human water-priestess (Kelashein) whom the kuo-toans revere as a queen. How she came to rule them in probably an interesting story, but as with most questions posed down here it will probably go answered.

Sitting contentedly upon a throne of stone that looked no more comfortable than a granite slab she radiated the aura of one who is accustomed to being obeyed, though whatever qualities she may possess that inspire such devotion in the kuo-toans escapes me. To one side stood of the throne stood a kuo-toan in robes (the wizard/priest Nilbool) and on the other an unusually large and savage-looking specimen, red-eyed and not a little fiendish in appearance (Oomkaan).

The priestess informed us she had been following our activities with great interest, particularly the destruction of the earth temple (thankfully, the Black Goat of the Woods is a rather distant deity), which she thoroughly approved. Furthermore, she invited us to accompany a group of her elite warriors, a strike force of sorts, for an upcoming raid on the temple of fire.

Acquiesce, attack, or simply depart? Again, we decided to simply follow along and see where events would lead. Aiding one temple against another, why not? A place of rest was prepared for us, and that night a feast was held. I refrained from partaking of the kuo-toan food or drink and I’m sure at least some of the others did the same. There were no strange rites or bloody rituals and I must admit I was a bit disappointed. Despite the efforts of the Kordite and halfling the night passed without incident.

While the others slept I continued researching the identity of the Elemental Eye. My incomplete translation of the Vandergast Heresies was no help. If only the League of Seven Stars hadn’t interrupted me before I could finish the translation. I have grown more powerful since then, and if we ever meet again… The book of elemental lore I took from the chambers of a dead wizard is also woefully inadequate. I’m surprised these idiots haven’t blown themselves up. If I escape this temple with my life perhaps I’ll return to the Emporium of Curious Wonders and acquire that greedy little gnome’s draconic translation of the Tnotikon Fragments. This time I’ll have the money to pay for it, or the power to simply take it for that matter.

The next day we returned to the river-labyrinth and set out for the temple of fire. It was much closer to the water temple than I had expected, making the journey mercifully short. Among the kuo-toan strike force were the elite’s elite, the robed spell-caster Nilbool and a strange, unarmed fighter (“monitor” someone called him) who would eventually demonstrate the barehanded fighting skills of a trained monk (Urlurg).

Upon reaching the fire temple resistance was surprisingly light, consisting of a short battle with salamanders and a hellhound, with Tink delivering the coup de grace. A few bribes later (behold the power of cash) we stood in the massive cavern that housed the fire temple’s altar. As if on cue, a claw-handed fire-priestess (the high priestess?) stepped out of a side entrance to the cavern. Brandon, acting in his usual manner, charged the priestess while the kuo-toan elite headed for the altar, which sat on a pedestal in the center of a circular pit at the heart of the cavern.
I assumed Brandon would need help against the priestess, but Tink and a mephit allied with the water cultists reached them first. In the midst of their battle the mephit struck both Brandon and the priests with its breath attack. After that any illusion of camaraderie with the kuo-toans vanished, and I believe eventually attacking us was their intention all along. Brandon and Tink defeated the priestess with surprising ease, and then turned on the kuo-toans in their vicinity (who in all fairness had turned on them first).

Meanwhile, the kuo-toan wizard-priest Nilbool succeeded in destroyed the fire altar with some sort of scroll and I, knowing the consequences of the earth altar’s destruction, headed for the nearest exit only to encounter Nilbool facing off with Eranilor. I decided to attack Urlug with an Enervation spell before he could join the fray but missed (he was quite agile for a frog). With a great leap he vaulted over the chasm surrounding the ruined alter and landed mere feet away.
Fortunately (for me) he chose Eranilor as his target, leaving me free to deal the approaching mephit (whose true intention was probably only escape). A Negative Energy Wave spell dropped the mephit while the monk weathered it quite well. A volley of magic missiles had an equally miniscule effect on Urlug (a brooch of shielding?) but Eranilor managed to wear him down (in hand-to-hand combat with a bow!) and Tink again delivered the finishing touches. Minutes later the fire temple did indeed begin to disintegrate in the manner of the earth temple and we fled…

(11/2/03 4:14 am)
Session 3
Session 3 (written by Tink)

My search for my friends have yet to yield anything but I fear that they may have met their end. At least in the mean time this new group that I have joined up with has proved very entertaining. The hag that we ran across was quite exciting, and the fight at the fire temple altar was exhilarating, but what came next has to be by far the most fun. Arwan turned us all invisible using a wand (which I would really like the chance to get a closer look at), and set up behind the curtain waiting for our chance to strike. Mind you, I of course do not need invisibility to move around unseen, but the rest of the group makes a herd of cattle seem quiet (well, maybe not Eranilor, he seems to do okay). It’s like this one time, in the mountains, Bigby and I were trying to get a good look at this group of travelers camping out, and I of course was silent as a corpse in the woods in the dead of night, wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, these bumlookers had the nerve to stand outside the curtain and call us out!!! Can you believe it?!?! I figured the best move for me was to set myself up in a spot where I could easily slip in and take someone out, so I crawled under the bed and waited for my opportunity. You know, Eranilor seems to be not such a bad guy after all. He may be an elf, but hey, an elf is simply a few inches off the ears from being a kender right? Where was I? Oh yeah!!! So here I am, strategically positioned for a critical strike, when the enemy decided their best bet was to send in their dog. Come on I think!!! What are we supposed to do? Play fetch with the blasted thing? Why not send in a horde of kittens? Maybe a swarm of parakeets? I’m not too sure of what happened next since I was lying in wait for my chance to save everyone, but next thing I know…there’s some big bad giving Eranilor the what to...and well, I can’t have that going on cause let’s face it…next to me, he’s the one with the most sense!! So I make my move and head in for the kill, when Eranilor finally finished the ugly mug off. Huzzah I think, one less person I have to save. What would these guys do without me? I’m not sure what Awan was doing exactly, I guess he was somewhere sketching the dead, but let me tell you about Brandon. He was wrecking arse!!! I haven’t seen such skill since Bigby!! The dead were dropping around him like panties in a brothel!!! I for one was quite impressed. I did manage a sneak attack with a stunning shocking grasp on one who I am sure was one of the strongest foes we faced, but thanks to Brandon, there was not much else I was needed to do. As much as I would have liked it to be me, Brandon was the hero of this battle. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Now let me tell you of the folly to follow. We eventually find our way to a room with some kind of tombs or something in it, and Arwan darn near creams his skivvies!! Before either Eranilor or I could offer a word of caution, Brandon and Arwan start opening one of them, not noticing the substance covering the lid. I wonder what kind of dog that was they sent into that room? Where can I get one? It’s a shame we had to kill it. Oh, sorry, I was at the opening of the sarcophagus…. They found some dead guy in there (surprise, what do you expect to find?), and something else but I’m not quite sure what it was. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get a look later. This group does after all tend to be a little careless with their things. Good thing they have me to watch their backs!! Arwan, Brandon, and Joshua , proceed to open another, and things start going wrong. Joshua and Arwan seemed to have contracted some sort of disease or something and it was eating away at their skin. We tried everything, but nothing seemed to help. Poor Joshua, he in no way deserved this! Arwan, on the other hand, may have had Ka come back to bite him in the bottom, but to see him suffer that was very heart wrenching. You know, he may not know it, but deep down, he likes me. He may look at me like a bug on the wall, but way down deep at the bottom of his, ahem, heart...(I’m sure he has one), I’m his friend. Just when we thought all was lost, Brandon had a little powwow with his god, and he told us some obscure blather about the strength being in the guardians. So what are the guardians you may wonder? Well, so did we. Here we are, carting around two unconscious friends that something decided to make a snack of trying to figure out what in the name of light Brandon’s god could have been talking about!! We end up trying to actually have a conversation with a giant bat, (hey, stranger things have happened), when once again Brandon’s god speaks up and tells him we are getting cold (isn’t that a game I played as a girl?). I think that we were all completely vexed at this point. We tried laying them on the floor between two statues, talking to bats, searching a sarcophagus, heck, I even considered amputation at this point, when captain caveman’s bashing instinct paid off. He started hacking away at one of the statues, and Eranilor and I finally pitched in to help. After destroying both, the spell was broken, and our two fallen comrades were no longer a tasty treat.

You would think that this would be a lesson learned wouldn’t you? Well ladies and germs, let me tell you…NOT!!!!!…..What happens when we come across another sarcophagus? You got it, they try to open it. The most Eranilor and I could do at this point was kind of share a thought of - what is wrong with these guys?!?!? Oh well, not everyone has the sense of a rogue. I do believe though, that the next room taught them a lesson. We wander around a bit more, and come to yet another room of sarcophagi, (what is with these people - doesn’t anyone bury anybody anymore?), and Brandon begs me to use the fireball wand to send a little light into the room. So I decide to make him happy and oblige. Brandon leads the group in (I of course kept an eye on the hall), and these things, ghosts, something, come out from everywhere. It had to have been the single most interesting thing I have ever seen!!! Weapons really seemed to have no effect on them. We were, in short, getting our butts kicked. As much as I wanted to maybe get a closer look at these things, I remembered one thing that Bigby taught me - if a kender runs away, she will live another day. I had many close calls before I finally understood this. Like this one time, on this ranch, I tried to milk that bull...anyway, never mind that, what was I saying? Oh yeah!! The group took its licks, but we managed to get out. I think Arwan finally appreciates my wisdom because he actually took my advice and used the wand of invisibility to escape a potentially fatal situation where he was surrounded by these undead. It’s a good thing for me too, 'cause I was just about to go in there to save him!! Maybe this group will stand a chance of living should something happen and I am no longer here to guide them….Nah!!

(11/2/03 8:06 am)
Re: Session 3
Love the writeups! Tell your players Thanks and give them virtual XP! "The dead were dropping around him like panties in a brothel!" :D

(11/3/03 4:19 am)
Glad you're enjoying it. I figured it would be more enjoyable to have each journal entry from a different PC's (and hence player's) perspective. And in this bunch they are very different perspectives.

Next one in a couple days.

(11/5/03 3:49 am)
Entry 4
Brandon’s Journal (PRIVATE PROPERTY!)

Well, it’s been a couple of days since I last made an entry into the journal. It’s been pretty busy along with some odd things happening.

I think the weirdness began with Arwan helping me open up all of those coffins. At first, I did not think twice about it since I did need help in opening them up (the lids were pretty heavy). We ran into some trouble with undead and such and after that encounter I felt sort of drained - just didn’t have the same get up and go. So we all decided to rest a bit, get healed, pray for some spells and so forth. We started to settle down near the room with the guardian statues. As we were setting up camp, Tink decided to explore a little. There was a chimney in the ceiling in the “big bat” cave. Joshua cast an air walk spell on Tink and she “climbed” the air to the chimney. Tink went up the to the top and looked around outside (you know how curious she is about things). Just as we were about to settle down, wouldn’t you know it, one of the bridge guards comes sneaking up on us.

Tink did a good job in sneaking up on the fellow (I couldn’t even see her, and I knew where she was!). Boy, that gal has some brass tits…she drops down on the guard taking him totally by surprise. He didn’t know what hit him! Now if only Tink could hit harder. All of us except for Arwan went after the guard and his companion. We took the first one down easily and Eranilor did some fancy shooting to bring down the second one - but not before the alarm was spread. Remembering the trolls and ogres that the Water Temple people bribed, I thought it would be a good idea to have all of the party go after the rest of the guards.

I went back to get Arwan. I found him immersed in his spell book. I told him that we needed his help to go after the other bridge guards, but he just ignored me. As I got closer to him, the odor emanating from his spell book was overpowering. It smelled as if someone had crawled up and died in it a couple of weeks ago. Concerned, I went closer to Arwan, but he failed to notice me until I grabbed for his spell book and took it away from him. He got real nasty real fast. Figuring that something bad was going on but wanting a second opinion from Joshua, I ran as fast as I could back to the rest of the group - but not before Arwan threw some magic missiles at me (it didn’t hurt much but I was surprised at his action - obviously, no sense of humor).

Reaching the group, I tried to explain what happened. As I was doing so, Arwan comes up to us and demands his old evil smelling spell book back (try to say that 10 times fast). Well, I tossed it to Joshua and tried to hit Arwan lightly with the flat of my greatsword to calm him down a bit. After some discussion, the group decided to give the book back to Arwan saying that they didn’t know who did what to whom and that the spell book belonged to Arwan. What concerns me is that Arwan seems to be going over the deep end, and therefore, becoming unreliable. I am beginning to wonder if I can trust Arwan to do his part in a fight. And equally as important, will Arwan turn against the party, catching us by surprise? Between his actions in casting the magic missiles at me and the odorous/evil smelling spell book of his, the possibility that Arwan is becoming evil and will turn against us is pretty real. As powerful as he is becoming, Arwan could do us real damage. I almost feel that I need to have a protection from the elements cast on myself at all times (both sonic and fire).

I might be overreacting. After the incident mentioned above, we all decided to go after the other guards. We shortly ran into a pack of the bridge guards that consisted of some ogres, trolls and gnolls (but no humans!). After my episode with the undead, I decided to play this more cautiously and unlimbered my mighty composite bow. Arwan came through for us by tossing a couple of fireballs at the guards and Tink even used her fireball wand to help put them down (it was almost too easy - I should have known better). Figuring that before we went any farther we should rest, restore some of the party that felt a little weaker after the encounter with the undead and generally clean things up, we headed back to the caves and rested there for the next few hours. Next morning, after Joshua and I cast some restoration spells, we returned to the scene of the previous fight.

At the end of the corridor, the two exits were both locked. We used a dispel magic on the double doors and then I pushed them open. We met some human archers, but they went down easily except for one who ran away. I started to chase the guy, with the rest of the party in close pursuit. As I turned down a hallway, I started to check out one of the doors when all of a sudden a bolt of lightning comes from nowhere. I move forward cautiously trying to see who was causing the damage. It soon became apparent that there was someone there with improved invisibility cast on him. From that point on it went downhill.

Moving forward, I found myself next to this monk. I swung at him but my blow glanced off him as if I had hit him with a piece of straw! When he swung, I felt as if the world had crashed down on me. As I backed up, Joshua came charging down the hall and went right into the monk’s face. From there, it started to get really hairy. Arwan tossed a couple of sonic balls into the larger room beyond the hall, taking out a bunch of dire rats and some other lower level guards. Joshua is going head to head with the monk. The invisible sorcerer tosses out another lightning bolt and some magic missiles. And Tink uses her fireball wand to toss a fireball into the fray. Meanwhile Eranilor is trying to hit something (anything) with his bow but was having a hard time of it.

Everything is going pretty fast - Tink sucks down a potion of cure moderate wounds, I (much to my shame) am forced to run away to the room we had just passed and do some healing on myself. While I am doing this, Joshua gets killed by the monk, the sorcerer tosses two more sets of magic missiles and Arwan summons a monster to help us in the fight. Eranilor finally kills the monk, but the sorcerer tries to escape (being invisible really helps - unless you are leaving a bloody trail behind you!). I ran after the bloody trail, bumped into the sorcerer and ran him through. After the fight, most of us had some injuries so I set about healing as fast as we could. We didn’t know what was going to hit us next!

As the healing was underway, Arwan wanders off to the room with a large circle in its center. He casts detect magic and sure enough, the large circle turns out to be a circle of summoning. To his credit, he doesn’t go into the circle - but wouldn’t you know it, some kuo-toans from the water temple enter the room and the dummies walk right into the circle. Before you can say "Let’s get out of here", a very large spider (like 15 feet in diameter) appears. Thank Kord he decides to go after the water temple people. Arwan said that the spider was a Bebilith, a rather nasty demon.

With the sounds of the Bebilith diminishing, the party decided to look around. We find one of the guards still alive. We ask him some questions and he indicates the monk’s name was Tac, and he together with a sorcerer named Iridic, were the main characters responsible for guarding this bridge. He also said that their living quarters were nearby. When asked about the Bebilith, the guard went white with fear and said that he would be better off dead if that thing were loose. Since it was, I helped him with his wish and cut his throat.

Searching in the bag of holding, I was able to find our one and only raise dead scroll. Checking to see if Joshua was really dead (or just faking it - he does have a weird sense of humor), I discovered that he really was dead and so used the scroll on him. It worked and lo and behold, Joshua was back among the living (but looking a little beat up). The first thing that Joshua does is to cure his wounds. He didn’t even say thanks! After Joshua was back to his normal self (or as close as he could get), we headed off to find Tac’s and Iridic’s quarters. Eranilor and Arwan went into the monk’s room and didn’t find anything. Meanwhile, I was pounding away at the sorcerer’s door (it had a magical lock) and finally got it opened. In the room we found a pretty wooden box with a big lock on it. Tink found out that the lock was trapped and tried to remove the trap. She came close a couple of times - but on the fourth or fifth try, she set it off. Voila -instant statue. Arwan started to laugh maniacally but hopefully it’s just the tension of the moment.

We all moved back to the barracks area to re-group, get some rest and figure out what to do about Tink. Boy, will she be pissed when she turns back into flesh - of course, we do have the little problem of how to do that!

(11/8/03 4:07 am)
Against the Water Temple
Entry 5 (Joshua):

Arwan - Elf Necro5/Alienist4
Brandon - Human Rg2/Clr8 (Kord)
Eranilor - Elf Rgr3/Rog4/Sniper2
Joshua - Human Clr8 (St. Cuthbert)
Tink - Kender Wiz3/Rog5

Brandon and Arwan were very insistent to open the door, mainly because of the growling that they heard on the other side of it. Considering that Tink was still a statue back in the barracks, and I was still extremely drained after my recent experience with death (praise be to the Lord of the Cudgel for my return!), neither Eranilor nor I thought it was that good an idea, but who ever listens to reason in this group? When the door was opened, we found a chamber with a large bear chained to the wall. Apparently it was used as a guard, and had been mistreated (judging by the wounds on it). Brandon began to calm it down and feed it, and it was strange and actually refreshing to see some of his more humane qualities come to the fore, instead of the lust for death and destruction that this place causes in him. The danger of injustice and lawlessness is that they cause not just evil but tempts the good to turn to evil means in fighting it too (or so Bishop Haufran always said).

One among us did not need that kind of influence, of course. Arwan suddenly began spellcasting. Eranilor asked what he was doing, but there was no response, and a moment later he completed the spell. Wounds sprang up all over the poor bear, including old ones that ripped apart, and it roared as streams of blood gushed forth. Brandon and Eranilor quickly put it out of its misery, and the latter and I turned to yell at Arwan for that callous act (Brandon stayed strangely silent). Forgive me, St. Cuthbert, but I was too weak (physically and in my will) to strike him as he deserved. But he has been warned, and next time something like this occurs, I shall smite him mightily.

Naturally, Arwan was unrepentant, and we continued on. We explored a few rooms, finding some treasure and more importantly, a wine cabinet. There was no ale, but I really needed a drink, and Brandon and I indulged ourselves. The rooms finally led into a tunnel littered with bodies, apparently the work of the bebilith demon that had been released by the kuo-toans. Although I did not see it (, dead at the time!), obviously it is a mighty force. For some reason Brandon and Arwan wished to follow its trail. Eranilor and I reluctantly agreed to go on, with the former even scouting ahead invisibly. When he returned to describe a number of empty tunnels ahead, I refused to go on any further in my condition. I did not want to encourage Brandon and Arwan as helping them with those crypts had, but they still wanted to continue, so Eranilor agreed to wait for them while I returned to the barracks. I returned there to find Tink's statue safe, and was joined some minutes later by Eranilor. The two madmen returned some time later, to report that they discovered some dead monsters, killed by the bebilith. I was almost disappointed that they had not run into the monster (forgive me for my thoughts - I must recite twenty extra psalms tonight!).

We made camp in the barracks and remained there for the rest of the night. Eranilor and Brandon took the watches between them. According to Eranilor, he had conversations with both Arwan and Brandon about their argument, and warned the former not to attack party-members again. During the night, I cast a detect evil spell on Arwan and was horrified (if sadly unsurprised) to find him radiating strongly of evil. Although I have encountered many evil characters in my travels before, I have never traveled with one, and I am unsure what I must do. As long as he benefits and aids the party, I cannot in all conscience reject him, but at the same time, how can I travel with him knowing his potentiality for evil? Give me guidance, St. Cuthbert! I should also note that my sleep was extremely restless, with dreams of eyes constantly watching me. Almost made me feel like being back in the seminary! Also, there was some apparently some problem with Arwan's snake not being where it should be, but I missed it. Anyway, that is supposedly a problem he has on a regular basis.

Next day, I told both Eranilor and Brandon about what I had discovered about Arwan. Brandon did not seem to care, which is strange, considering his faith. Although Kordites are a strange and often fickle group, at least they are steadfast in their opposition to evil. Or so I always thought! And especially considering that he wished to burn Arwan's spellbook because he thought it was evil, but now he does not care that the book's owner himself is evil! Surely strange are the ways of chaos, as the good Bishop often reminded me. I think I should contact him and let him know my situation, and ask for guidance. Eranilor simply grinned when told and asked me why I was surprised. He does have a point, I agree, but is there any need to be so calm about it? And it is definitely not amusing!

Anyway, we left the barracks, with me keeping an eye on Arwan and Brandon carrying Tink via a rope slung over his back. Returning to the bridge, we found the boats gone (big surprise there!) and began to travel across the lake due to a water walking spell from Brandon. We proceeded without trouble, but when we had come close enough to the Water Temple to see into the room with altar, suddenly four green, scaly arms shot out of the water to grab at Brandon, and a crossbow bolt shot out at him. He dropped the rope, sending the statue into the water (I don't know why he didn't just strap her sensibly to his back), and hacked at one of the creatures, while Eranilor shot another. Arwan hit one with magic missiles (he is definitely getting more powerful, firing 5 at a time now!) and also fired a sonic spell into the water as the creatures sank back into it. As Brandon prepared to haul the rope back up, he discovered that the creatures had bitten through it. Tink was lost in the water below us, and we could not follow due to the spell upon us. We also did not know what dangers lurked there, besides the obvious one of the kuo-toans that had attacked us.

Eranilor offered to have the spell dispelled by me and to enter the water, protected by freedom of movement (from Brandon), water breathing (potion), and protection from evil (me) spells. I suspect he has grown fond of Tink, but he only smiled when I asked him about it later. Some time after he went underwater, we felt some tugs on the rope signaling us to pull him up, but moments after, it went slack as something cut it. Blood also floated up to the surface, signaling that he had been attacked. Then Brandon made a brilliant tactical move, summoning a pair of celestial sharks, that disappeared into the depths to help our companion. With our concentration on Eranilor's plight, none of us noticed that Kelashien had appeared on the Water Temple altar, until the sound of her chanting disturbed us, and we turned to be hit by a cloud of evil darkness. Luckily, the spell could not affect me much due to my neutrality (balance always defeats the extremes, as the Saint said), and Brandon shook off its effects. Arwan, of course, was totally unaffected. He, in fact, responded with a black bolt of crackling energy that struck Kelashein to leave her hunched in pain. I would have laughed, to see evil fighting evil, but there was no time. Instead of followed Arwan's bolt immediately, I waited (while Brandon rushed towards her) until Kelashein began casting another spell, when I hit her with a blast of Searing Light that burned the priestess with holy power, ruining her magic. As she vainly cursed us, Arwan struck her with another arcane bolt, and Brandon literally swept her head off her shoulders with a blow of his sword. Obviously, St. Cuthbert was watching over us!

Moments later Eranilor appeared, swimming up to the surface slowly with Tink's statue, and I took it from him. He mentioned that the sharks had driven off (and probably killed) our attackers, that were the Skum we had seen, not Kuo-Toa. All of us came to the altar, to find it containing strange pools of liquid, and some weird magical horns. Arwan immediately appropriated the horns. Brandon, after having looted the priestess' body, was taken with another bout of madness and tried to jump into a dark oily pool. The results might have been terrible, but were only funny, since the water walking spell was still in existence, so he crashed to a stop in mid-air two inches above the pool. I must confess I laughed somewhat loudly, but I think it was justified. Anyway, we decided to leave the altar, and enter a nearby tunnel, with Brandon staying behind to chop on it with his magical greataxe. After some time, his efforts worked and the altar began to collapse, with the water around it boiling. Brandon ran to join us and we quickly moved on.

To our surprise, we found the entire temple deserted, and explored it thoroughly. Nothing much happened, other than Eranilor falling into a pit (but catching himself before he could land on the carrion crawler at the bottom), Eranilor triggering a trap (seeing an invisible character hit and outlined by lightning is quite amusing), and Arwan finding the statue of an octopus and seeming very happy about it (I think he almost smiled, but maybe I imagined it). As we moved onwards, we finally entered a large hall and found the strange half-demon kuo-toa we had seen before, and two mephits. At the same time, we heard the tinkling of bells. It sounded just like the ones we heard in the Fire Temple when pursuing the human who found us right after Tink explored the opening in the bat-cave, but we could not make out where it came from. Eranilor and Brandon, who were scouting ahead, said later that they heard one of the mephits say, "Another one has arrived," so apparently the bells are some sort of signal. For what, we don't yet know. Anyway, we attacked, with Eranilor's arrows dropping both of the mephits, and Brandon attacking the kuo-toa. It took off in flight immediately (strangely, it did not seem to have wings when we saw it last), and although hit by an arrow and by a fireball from Arwan, kept going.

We followed it into the tunnels, which became the rough, unworked mine tunnels at this point. They seemed deserted and empty for the most part, except for one that contained a human corpse strung up across the exit. Brandon moved to cut it down, and as soon as he touched it the corpse exploded, spraying us with its disgusting remains. I wish I could have a bath! Nearby, we found a room with glyphs on the floor, and a ledge on the far wall. Eranilor jumped up onto the ledge, but triggered a glyph on the way, being hit by a blast of acid. Luckily he dodged it, but not the blast of magic missiles that hit him in mid-air, as well as the sound burst spell that hammered down as he landed on the ledge. Luckily, he apparently withstood both, instantly shooting at something before him, and I heard some creature cry out in pain. As Brandon ran forward to try to climb up and join him, the creatures cried out something to Eranilor (I do not understand the tongue, but it was one of the savage humanoid ones), who lowered his bow and began to speak to them. He called down that they were bugbears, and asked us to join him. "Hey! How do you expect me to climb in plate mail! Lower me a rope..."

(11/12/03 3:34 am)
Is anyone actually reading this? Just curious. And missing all the adoring fan mail, of course :b Either way, next session coming up...

(11/12/03 3:38 am)
Bugbear party
Entry 6 (Eranilor):

...the bugbears introduced themselves as Fesad and Steeran (guess the studies in linguistics paid off), and one offered to heal me. I can't say which one did, since they're difficult to tell apart, but it was a fairly humorous moment, being healed by a 7 foot tall hairy humanoid who'd just cast a spell on me and whom I'd perforated for her troubles. Maybe we can all get along! Yeah, right! Anyway, Brandon soon climbed up to join us, while poor Joshua stood at the bottom of the wall in his plate mail and plaintively asked for a rope to be thrown down (I wonder what Arwan was up to in the meantime). It turned out that the bugbears were members of a small tribe that had come up from the Underdark, and tried to lay claim to part of the mines. They'd also heard the bebilith pass by and been scared out of their wits, hence the aggressive reaction to my sudden appearance. We agreed to accompany them back to their tribe, and work with them to kill the demon. I wouldn't mind having the bebilith run around chewing up temple members, but the chances of us running into it unprepared were too high. Joshua was somewhat nervous about the idea of meeting the bugbear tribe - finding out he's traveling with an evil mage has really made him paranoid. I allayed his fears and we headed off to the tribe, which was in a nearby cavern.

On the way, at a junction we passed a trail of thick, solidified slime, and presumed that the bebilith had been wounded and had passed that way. I certainly hoped so, as far as the wounding is concerned. Considering how many people that creature had shredded, if it didn't take any damage from them, it would probably be next to immune to us. Probably immune to non-magical weapons. Still, with Joshua and Brandon around to enchant our weapons, and Arwan's enhanced arcane skills, I figured it wouldn't be a problem as long as we weren't surprised by it. While I was musing about the dangers of going demon-hunting, we reached the tribe's lair. There seemed to be a little over a dozen warriors, with a number more of non-combatants. They were led by a female bugbear named something-Lax, who didn't take too well to Brandon's comment (presumably jocose, but with him it's sometimes difficult to say) that we should kill them all. Luckily, no bloodshed ensued (that's a first!). In fact, we actually agreed to hunt and kill the demon with the tribe's warriors, for a share of some dwarven treasure that they claimed to have found. Not having had the opportunity to interact with bugbears before, I could have settled for a detailed discussion on how their society works (it seemed to be a matriarchy, which I have never heard of among the more savage humanoids), but figured that would not be the most popular suggestion. Who knows - maybe someday after I get out of this godforsaken place!

At this point, Arwan informed us that he wanted to teleport to Greyhawk to pick up a new spellbook. He's definitely getting quite powerful as a mage. Joshua suggested instead that they travel to Verbobonc (he's spent most of his life at the temple of St. Cuthbert there), so that he could get Tink un-petrified and also dispose of the huge amount of items and wealth that we'd accumulated. Arwan agreed, and both of them left (with a list of items that we could use), with a promise to return next morning to the room we stayed in at the Water Temple, since Arwan needed to return to a place he had spent some time in. Their departure both surprised and impressed the bugbears, and probably made us somewhat more powerful in their eyes (which might explain why they didn't attack us with only Brandon and me left). At this point, Brandon got the bright idea to go looking for the bebilith. I would really have preferred to talk to some of the bugbears, but didn't want to have to explain to the others the next day that Brandon had made himself into dinner, so went along (after obtaining a promise that he only wanted to find where it was). The leader sent two bugbears to accompany us.

We followed the trail of slime until it led into a cave to the side. At that point, I absolutely refused to go any further. So did the bugbears, but Brandon decided to go investigate. All I can say is that it is a sobering thought when you realize that one of the people whose abilities your life depends on has less intelligence than an overgrown goblin! Anyway, Brandon crept (figuratively speaking) up and looked into the cave. The next moment he had turned around and was running for us as fast as he could, while the bebilith came rushing out of the cave behind him. That creature was much faster than us, and things might have got very troublesome, if it wasn't for the fact that it paused to fire a giant web at Brandon. Luckily, it missed, and the web blocked the entire tunnel. Brandon actually thought of pausing to fire spells back at it through the web, but I decided to leave (the bugbears were long gone) and he followed suit.

After heading back to the bugbears to let the chieftain know what happened, Bandon and I traveled back to the Water Temple. I half-expected to be attacked by the half-fiend Kuo-Toa, but that didn't happen. We made ourselves comfortable in the room we'd occupied before, and waited for the return of the others. With half a day to ourselves, I got a chance to catch up on some much-needed relaxation and reading. Living on the edge is enjoyable in its own right, but I had been doing without the more sedentary joys for a long while, so I enjoyed the chance while I could. It is strange to think that it is less than two months ago that I had been sharing a camp with Rinalin, and now she is dead, and here I am in the middle of an evil elemental temple, fighting insane clerics and strange monsters. Good thing I gave up being surprised a couple decades ago, since otherwise I'd have been in a state of continual amazement for the last couple of weeks. I wonder what Rinalin would say about my current situation. Probably tell me I should take better care of myself and say that I was getting grimmer and a lot more serious than I used to be. And she'd probably be relieved, if a little piqued, that I do not miss her (although I'd do anything to have her back). Heh! Elen sila lumen omentielvo, cariad (old elvish for "A star shines on the hour of our meeting, darling").

Speaking of humor and seriousness, considering the scrapes he's been dragging me into recently, I was tempted to freak Brandon out by hitting on him. Hah! Knowing him, I think that might make him run faster than from the bebilith. But he's not my type and just thinking about the scene it would cause made me grin for the next hour. Anyway, next morning the other three returned, as promised, with Tink as good as new. As loud too, since she seemed extremely excited, rushing around and hugging Brandon and me. I'm beginning to get quite fond of her. Joshua related a strange story of some plague in Verbobonc, along with problems in Greyhawk City too. So it seems that there is no actual help that can be spared for us, as far as other warriors are concerned, but at least now people in Verbobonc (apparently including some who hired the original party, including Brandon, in the first place) know where we are and that the Temple of Elemental Evil has risen again. More importantly, our companions brought back a number of items for us. I got a magical bow and bracers that aid my archery, as well as a new cloak. Considering that I'm the only person in this group who uses the bow regularly, and also the only one with absolutely no magical training, I figure I might as well become as effective in my niche as can be.

After re-equipping ourselves, we left for the bugbear camp. This, however, was not to be an uneventful trip. Very shortly after we entered the tunnels, three lions jumped down on us from a higher ledge alongside the path. They seemed to be demonic in nature, with the same glowing red eyes, which indicated a magical origin. Luckily they only managed to cause slight wounds on Joshua and Tink, while Brandon took a deeper bite but used his magically-enhanced strength to fling off the lion before it could leap on him. Moments later, a very deftly placed stab from Tink and my arrows had dropped the animals. At that moment, we heard the sound of movement above us. Quickly we scrambled up the wall (well, all except Joshua), with Arwan levitating himself. As Tink and I turned to lower a rope to Joshua and haul him up (man, he's heavy!), we realized that Brandon had rushed down the tunnel after whoever was fleeing. Moments later, we heard the now-familiar crack of a lightning bolt, and the sound of Brandon fighting. Arwan sent a fireball rocketing into the Kordite's opponents, which shook the tunnel around us. By the time Joshua was up and we'd joined Brandon, he'd sliced up the few opponents who survived Arwan's magic. As he searched the bodies, he explained that the half-fiend kuo-toa had been there and had taken flight again down the tunnel. As he was explaining, we heard a piercing scream of agony from the direction the kuo-toan had gone, and we turned to each other to exclaim, "Bebilith!"

Tink offered to go investigate, and turned herself invisible. After some time, she returned to say that some about sixty feet ahead of us was a place where one of the tracks from a higher tunnel crossed ours over a wooden bridge and the bebilith was hanging under it, chewing on the kuo-toa. I would have appreciated the information without Tink sneaking up and grabbing me by the butt (I didn't make a sound, but had to spend a couple moments waiting for my heart to descend from my throat!). Arwan fired a fireball down the tunnel which ignited the bridge and collapsed it, but when we got close enough to see, the demon was gone. We could hear it moving in one of the tunnel mouths, but couldn't make out where it was. Tink yelled and screamed (VERY loudly for her size!), but couldn't draw it out. Considering its previous actions, which had seemed mindlessly aggressive, the demon seemed surprisingly cautious now. I suggested conjuring up a creature to investigate, and Brandon called up a lantern archon and asked it to check the tunnels. As it moved up to do so, the demon leapt out of one tunnel, grabbed it in mid-air, and landed inside the next. Arwan immediately hit the tunnel mouth with another fireball (he doesn't seem to run out any more!), but we heard no results. Brandon then decided to climb up while we all prepared to cover him, and apparently saw it looking back at him. He fired off a searing light spell while dropping back down, so he couldn't see the result, and when Tink (still invisible) went up to investigate, it was gone. While we wondered what to do, she came up with the idea that it might be circling around to attack us, so we retraced our steps.

After returning to the lower level, we moved on with Tink in advance, using a potion to allow her to see in the darkness. She returned soon to say that she had seen it trying to sneak up on us in the darkness, and Joshua cast a light spell on a coin and threw it down the tunnel to illuminate it. There stood the demon-spider, waving its legs but strangely (and thankfully!) not attacking. Brandon immediately fired off another searing light that only nicked it, and I followed up with two arrows. The first gashed it badly, but the second sank deep into one of its eyes. Before I could fire another arrow, the monster collapsed, dead. The sound of its body hitting the floor was followed closely by the sound of our collective jaws dropping. I couldn't help grinning, as our great bebilith-hunt ended so anti-climactically. And if all our battles end thus, I can definitely live with it!

Brandon decided to behead the beast, and seemed quite upset that it had died so easily. I understand that he wanted to fight it, but as one wise man once said, the important thing is not to die gallantly for your cause, but to make the other guy (or in this case, demon) die for his! Anyway, we returned to the bugbears with the head, and they were overjoyed to see it dead. Not only did they provide the promised reward, but they began a huge feast. Brandon was soon teaching them to gamble, Joshua was deep in his cups, Tink was running around juggling, chattering non-stop, drinking, and...well, being Tink, and Arwan had disappeared somewhere. I began to get a headache, and decided to go off somewhere quiet. BIG mistake!

As I left the main cavern, Tink joined and trotted along beside me, chattering away. We had only moved a little way down the tunnel, when we were suddenly surprised by a snarling gnoll, armored in a chain shirt and wielding a longsword and shortsword. It seemed to appear out of thin air, so I presume it was concealed by some magic, since I would have seen it otherwise, even with the distraction from Tink. The gnoll struck me a blow, and Tink tumbled across to flank it, striking a solid blow with her sword. I stepped back, unlimbered my bow, and fired a shot into it. After this momentary success, things quickly went south faster than a migrating bird under a haste spell! Tink seemed unable to strike the creature, which seemed to ignore her efforts, and I put on an exhibition of the most inept archery that I have in the last half a century. The gnoll, now frothing at the mouth, struck me repeatedly and my bow too, quickly reducing the latter to matchsticks. Even though it was wounded (I can't miss ALL the time, after all!), I was bleeding profusely and unlikely to be able to survive much longer, so I took a calculated risk. Counting on Tink's ability to dodge, I pulled out the bead of force I had in my pack and hurled it against the gnoll. The concussion of it almost made me pass out, and hurt Tink too, but it worked as I planned, encasing the gnoll in a bubble of force. The other members of our party came running up at this point, while I collapsed against the wall.

While Joshua and Brandon healed me and then restrained the gnoll (which passed out before the bubble dissipated), Tink berated me for hurting her. I was in no mood to argue at this point, with a pounding headache. Looking at the pieces of my bow, I couldn't help grinning at the fact that I had just lost a magic item worth over 8,000 gold pieces, an amount which would have allowed me to retire into comparative luxury, barely hours after I obtained it. Ah well, difficult come, easy go, and better a bow than me! And I guess I can look forward to finding out what kind of armor and weapons the gnoll had. Considering how heavily Joshua had enchanted that bow, he must have had a fine sword to destroy it, and his chain shirt looked fine too. And I'm sure Tink could use another shortsword (she's building up a nice collection). Now all I need is something to get rid of this headache! Aargghh!!

(11/18/03 3:11 am)
Miscellaneous combats
Entry 7 (Arwan):

Time, that hoary tyrant, moves on and on while I have made pitifully little progress in my quest. Barring some unforeseen windfall I fear I have failed Master Merik. I am no closer to ascertaining the true name of the Elder Elemental Eye, and if recent events represent what I interpret them to mean, it may already be too late. I do not know if I will have another opportunity to make a journal entry so this may be the final one…

After the battle with the gnoll (from which I was thankfully absent) , we considered the most efficient ways to extract information from the gnoll, who remained bound, foul smelling, and infested with fleas (who admittedly proved the better man than I for they admirably withstood the gnoll’s stench with nary a complaint). While the others went through the usual litany of torture and excruciations I cast a spell of detecting surface thoughts. Surely it would be child’s-play to read the mind of such a simple creature, not that I would have the opportunity to try, as it turned out.

It is the nature of the spell to bombard the caster’s mind with a incomprehensible barrage of mental-images before he or she may focus on the thoughts of a single individual, and so the simple brains of the surrounding bugbears were laid open before me. It was then, I think, that the darkness came. Not the ordinary darkness that follows the vanishing of light, but a deeper magical darkness the likes of which I had never before encountered. I was immediately struck by images of Stalker, the shadowy subterranean “boogie-man” that has preyed on the fears and nightmares of bugbears since time out of mind, but I suspected it was something far more dangerous.

As usual, I was a) correct and b) immediately made to regret it. The pitch-blackness was also filled with magical silence, preventing the casting of my more potent spells. A bolt of lighting (sight and sound were certainly not necessary to ascertain its nature) did a good job of shaking us up a bit and the two-faced warrior/priest (one on his head and the other on his chest) who emerged from a second magical darkness as we emerged from the first (and thus were trapped between the two) was the icing on the cake. Perhaps it was the lightning or just being underground so long, but the two-faced man’s sudden appearance didn’t seem quite that strange at all.

As the Billy Kill-a-lots in the party commenced their usual antics, I decided the spell-caster hiding in the darkness (as I assumed there would be) was the most dangerous of the bunch. Casting a spell of polymorphization, I assumed the form of a towering umber hulk with the intention of using its ability to sense its surrounding via subtle vibrations, thus allowing me to detect the whereabouts of the spell-caster mentioned above. It was about this time, I think, that Tink emerged from the first magical darkness, spotted me in my new, monstrous form and, thinking I was an enemy monster (at least I assume that was her motivation), proceeded to swat at me with her Sword of Wondrous Torch-Lighting.

Already injured by the lightning bolts, I was in no shape to receive such wounds, (halfling-born though they were) and the sudden dispelling of the more durable umber hulk form seemed a sure sign I was not meant to participate in this battle. Under the cover of the second magical darkness (which was not silenced like the first) I cast a teleport spell that took me to the room where I had studied my scrolls not so long ago as the others caroused with the bugbears. I drank two of my curing potions and thus refreshed started back on foot for the scene of the battle.

By the time I arrived it was over, and Tink presented me with the arrow-laden corpse of the two-faced man as a sort of peace offering to atone for the wounds she inflicted on my person. It was a nice gesture and an honest mistake so in the end I probably will forgive her and kill her quickly and painlessly like I’d always intended. A cursory study of the two-faced man’s corpse seemed to indicate he was not a member of some undiscovered race but rather an ordinary human who’d been altered by some magic or alchemy with which I am unfamiliar.

The wizard (who was never actually seen) escaped but his familiar (or so I assume), a shocker lizard as it were, was left behind dead as a stone. I took a sample of its blood for future study and/or trade. We passed the night in the cavern of the bugbears (even they seem to have forgotten the true name by which they were known in the Old Times and felt neither the desire nor responsibility to enlighten them). While the others slept (all but Brandon, who lay with the chiefteness in his most repulsive act to date and thus was too preoccupied to take notice) I performed the Dho-Hna incantation as described in the Nameless Book and for the first time saw the inner city at the two magnetic poles. On this matter I fear Master Merik was mistaken.

The inner city was not deserted as he maintained, but instead filled with thousands of things that seemed to stare back at me in spite of their apparent lack of sensory organs. They began to approach, passing through the air as a man might walk across the ground and I, beset by a dread that shames me even now, panicked and closed the portal. I had hoped the inner city would be a place of refuge in the event I am forced to quit this miserable world, but it is not so. My options vanish one by one as if Fate herself were conspiring against me (bitch that she is, she is undoubtedly in league with her brother, that bastard Time!).

I checked to make sure that Brandon was still occupied. At this rate the world will soon be peopled with a veritable race of Brandon’s half-human bastard offspring unless of course the imprisoned gods finish it off first. It doesn’t matter to me either way so long as I succeed in my quest, and then this world be damned.

The next morning we headed out with the intention of finishing off the Fire Temple, and what a delightful day it turned out to be! The discovery of a skeleton (probably dwarven by the size and shape of it) clutching a map that hinted at “dangerous” areas in our vicinity proved to be too great a temptation for Brandon (and I must admit I was also curious) but in the end proved a bit pedestrian as far as perils go. In one area Brandon only succeeded in half-burying himself in a rockslide. The other area seemed to be the habitation of a gray render (the creature was strangely rune-covered if I remember correctly) that died with disappointing ease.

Our determination to move straight on to the Fire Temple was once again tested (a test we failed miserably) by the discovery of a room (a true room, not a cave or cavern) built assumedly for some purpose out here in the “wild lands” between temples, but if so it was a purpose we never had the opportunity to discover. In the center of the room was a statue of a dragon with forelimbs outstretched. Brandon pulled on one of the limbs and sure enough the room abruptly began to sink (or rather descend). Only Tink, Eranilor, and I escaped before it (Brandon and Joshua in tow) disappeared from view.

Here came the first true indication of the gravity of things. In an attempt to reach our companions I used a wand of monster summoning to summon a thoqqa with the intention of using its stone-melting abilities to tunnel to the sinking room. Before I could give it a command, it turned on me and attacked, an impossible occurrence under normal circumstances because a summoned creature is bound by magic to obey the summoner. I was too quick for it and before it could try again Tink slew it (once again I am obliged to give her a quick death and not a slow, painful one).

For lack of a better plan we continued on in hopes that Brandon and Joshua had found a way to escape and would meet up with us later. I don’t know if that would qualify as optimism or pessimism, but either way it worked out. We discovered them at the bridge complex, along with four bodies (not that Brandon in the company of bodies is at all strange) and looking a bit perplexed (a bit of an understatement in Joshua’s case). When questioned about what had occurred, this is what Brandon had to say.

As the room sank it began to fill with water that seemed to be from the lake in the crater. Through the use of magic Brandon and Joshua were able to escape the room and survive the long swim to the surface where they found themselves at the bridge complex, which was now apparently guarded by four cloaked warriors. Brandon set upon them at once and Joshua followed suit, and soon where six once stood only two remained, and here is my favorite part of the story.

Upon inspection of the cloaked warriors an amulet of Heironeus was discovered, and Joshua is of the opinion one of the dear, departed corpse-men (corpse-woman, actually) was a paladin. Spies they were, adventurers like us seeking to infiltrate the temple and destroy it from within. Really, it was all I could do not to laugh at the irony. Actually I did laugh, but Joshua didn’t notice. He seemed ready to bash in his own head out of remorse. Meanwhile Brandon took the whole thing in stride (there is potential in that one). To mollify Joshua, I suggested teleporting us to Verbobonc (the bodies and two party members safely ensconced in a Portable Hole while the rest traveled with me outside) where restorations and resurrections could be made, and this was the second time I was made aware of the grimness of our (my) situation.

The teleportation didn’t work. I don’t mean we arrived somewhere other than our intended destination or that one of us materialized halfway in a wall. The spell simply didn’t work. No magic, no portal, no nothing. In retrospect I am of the opinion Tharizdun, the other imprisoned god, is responsible, if only indirectly. Tharizdun is a god of entropy (perhaps he is Entropy itself) and as such his domains are death (of not only life but Space and Time as well) and destruction. As the walls of his planar prison weaken, Tharizdun’s essence leaks (bleeds?) into other dimensions, upsetting the natural order. As the strongest of the natural forces, it is only logical that magic would be the first affected. Thus, as Tharizdun comes closer to freedom, the laws of magic (and eventually all the natural forces) will decay. The behavior of the thoqqua and failure of the teleportation spell are undoubtedly only the beginning.

Joshua heroically put on a brave face for the rest of us and contented himself with the knowledge he could raise (or attempt to raise) one of the fallen warriors tomorrow. We went on and Brandon and Eranilor killed a salamander blackguard, but I had nothing to do with it so who cares?

(11/18/03 7:21 am)
Re: Miscellaneous combats
Excellent writeups. Why didn't the teleport work?

(11/19/03 4:15 am)
Teleport and other stuff
Bill (our DM for this campaign) did some reworking of the module. I'm going off memory here, so I might not be completely correct. But apparently over the centuries in his prison Big T worked out a way to cut off access between the other gods and their clerics, and also messed up planar connections to the prime material plane. So a lot of changes occurred to the game world. Teleportation screwing up was one of them.

I had problems with some of Bill's decisions because they did seem as if they were focused on nerfing player options (esp. higher level ones) and leading to railroading. But with the nature of this module I think that's somewhat inevitable.

We've switched to a much more free-form campaign now (I'm DM-ing), and I'm focusing a lot on player freedom and options. I think we're all enjoying that a lot - though the players/PCs are sometimes spoiled for choice and unsure where to go :D RttToEE was fun, but a little hack-&-slash for my liking.

(11/19/03 6:51 am)
Re: Teleport and other stuff
No more logs?! Tell me it isn't so! :eek

(11/19/03 9:12 am)
Sorry - I didn't mean to give the impression that we quit the campaign midway. Actually we played RttToEE through to the end and then switched to a new campaign. So these logs run all the way through to the big finish. I'm just posting a new entry every 3-4 days, and will keep doing so.

(11/24/03 4:12 am)
Entry 8
Entry 8 (Tink):

Tink - Ftr2/Rog7 (retroactive change)

Into the Mind of Tink

I’m still here. Trapped in this place and without my friends. The new group that I happened upon has turned out to be a gift of the gods. I don’t know if I would still be alive if I were on my own (of course, I have had to save their butts a few times, I must say). I wonder if people realize how lucky they are when they have a kender in their midst? Bigby always did. Many a time he would raise his hands to the sky and bellow, “Why am I the lucky one?”. I seem to have become the party’s scout, which is a good thing because Eranilor may be a wiz at locks, but he moves with the grace and stealth of a golem. I wonder if there are any in here? And what kind? How would one go about getting one for themselves?

So there I am, moving down this corridor so quietly you could hear a fairy break wind, making sure that the rest of the group stays out of harm's way, when this great big...dare I say it...*blah*..bubble headed, red skinned spider type thing drops down on me! Eeeewwwww! Well, what’s a kender to do? I make quick work of it with my trusty dagger, and another one joins the fray. Come on already! Last time I checked, this wasn’t a party, and they weren’t invited! So why are these things looking at me like I’m an hors-d’oeuvre? Just as I was taking control of the situation, Brandon showed up to finish the second one off. He sure is useful for a human - almost as good a guy as Bigby! Save for the fact that his train of thought is still boarding at the station, he is one heck of a companion (okay, so he may have saved my butt a few times, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle in the long run!). To the side of this room was a curtain with two more of the creepy spider things sliced and diced on the floor in front of it. Upon careful inspection, it was found to be a bedchamber. Inside we found…hmmmm…I could really go for a nice cold glass of milk right now, and maybe some cake…oooohhh, nanna’s carrot cake...mmmm…I wonder if I have anything sweet in my li'l haversack here.

I have found Paverell. I saw his little freckled hand hanging in a room of horror. I fear the worst, which is the obvious. Paverell is dead. It was my job to watch him, keep him out of trouble. I failed. He was my friend. He was my blood. I am sorry Auntie Julibelle.

Always before, the spring returned.
The bright world in its cycle spun
In air and flowers, grass and fern,
Assured and cradled by the sun.
Always before, you could explain
The turning darkness of the earth,
And how that dark embraced the rain,
And gave the ferns and flowers birth.
Already I forget those things,
And how a vein of gold survives
The mining of a thousand springs,
The seasons of a thousand lives.
Now winter is my memory,
Now autumn, now the summer light-
So every spring from now will be
Another season into night.

My heart still breaks, my eyes still weep, but I must move on. If there is any chance that my remaining friends are to live, I must move on. I must hurry. And when we get out of here, we’ll collect Bigby, set our face to the sun, our feet to the moons, and follow the winds. We stopped for a bite to eat. I find that my appetite just does not exist at this time, so I decide (I think it may have been at Eranilor’s suggestion) to scout ahead. He joined me in the search and we came across some bunks built into the walls. One bunk in particular caught our interest seeing as how it was way up high. So I climb the wall next to the ladder (what kender has ever taken the normal road?) and found a chest. Figuring that Eranilor may want to practice his skills a bit I call him up to check it out. He opened it with ease(whatever, I could have done that) and inside we found a couple of books on elven poetry. Since he lost his own books in an unfortunate hole incident, I thought it appropriate that he keep them. Who else would really have had the appreciation to deserve such beautiful words? We also found a scroll tube with a few spells inside. What did we do with them? Oh well, doesn’t matter much, trivial.

After eating we move on ahead. I keep the creepy elf Arwan ahead of me at all times. There is something about him I don’t trust. I truly believe he would turn on all of us at the first sign of not needing us anymore. There is something dark and sinister about him, and we are in a dark and sinister place. So much evil to feed evil. And as Nanna always said...“If the milk is spilt, the cat will lick it.” I will definitely keep him in sight. Once more I scouted up ahead of the party to see what may lie in wait, and I could not believe my own eyes! Around a bend in the midst of smoke and flame, something stands up and steps out! It must have been 60 feet tall, and 25 feet wide! It was dark and foreboding, and probably the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Normally I would have simply stayed put and slain the creature, but out of concern that the rest of the party would come up at a bad time and get hurt, I ran back to warn them. I crouch down and lay in wait for the creature to show its face, or its back for that matter (did it even have a back?). What would you call something like that? Did it actually walk or just kind of glide? Oh well, it matters not. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was set for the kill, As the smoke beast moved towards us, I fired an arrow, but it seemed to have no effect. Luckily Eranilor’s arrows did. Brandon the stout heart moved in and attacked, as did I with my dagger in hand. There I was, toe to toe with the beast, fighting for my life and the lives of my friends (yes, and Arwan too). Oh yeah, Brandon was there too. Thrice did my blade stab true. Brandon put all his might into the blows he delivered, and then you will not believe what I saw. Joshua came upon the scene standing a good 12 feet tall! He was as big as this bear I saw the one time in the woods east of Pappy’s house (and yes, a bear does shyte in the woods…why does everyone always ask that anyway?). Oh yeah, anyway, with the divine guidance and strength of his god, Joshua whaled this thing with his morningstar. I could tell it was really hurting when it started to retreat back into the room it came from. What was Arwan doing at this point? Who knows, he’s always lurking in the dark, out of harm's way. He may have thrown a spell or two, I wouldn’t know. Don’t get me wrong, he can be useful, and I have tried to be nice, but he’s just so creepy. So anyway, the thing retreats, and I get one last stab at it, and Brandon gives chase. As he followed, he set off a pit trap that was right beneath us. I easily tumbled out of the way, and Brandon barely managed to keep himself from plunging to his death. Meanwhile, more arrows from Eranilor slew the monster.

We proceeded past the pit trap, into a room with a 20 foot ledge at the end. Eranilor jumped up onto the ledge to be greeted by a cone of fire right in the kisser! He really should look before he leaps. Other than that, he would make a great kender! I really wanted to see what was up there, but after the greeting that Eranilor got, I had to pass on that one. We all followed Brandon up a flight of stairs at the right of the ledge (except for Arwan, who was lurking somewhere as usual), and found ourselves in a really weird setup. There was some kind of diamond shape on the floor, with this thing in the middle, surrounded by these other weird things. Brandon went on to the next room and I stayed behind checking things out. By the time Joshua and Eranilor joined me in the weird room, Brandon came back. He said that one of the creatures in the room turned into a jellyfish right before his eyes (and I thought Toby had an imagination!), and he thought that Arwan killed the little fire creatures. Then he did the nicest thing and gave me a really pretty rock with some strange writing on it. I have no idea what it is, but I like it.

Arwan joined us, he seems obsessed with what the party may have gained in his absence. He asked me if I found anything unusual, and I told him no, I hadn’t. He didn’t seem happy with that answer and pressed me for more information, asking if I had found anything at all, and I told him no, but Brandon gave me a pretty rock. He asked if he could have it, and I said no way! He has been nothing but mean to me and all I’ve ever done is try to be nice to him. Boy, mean people sure do suck! He then asked if he could see it, so I said sure. He seemed really interested in it, and let it out that it was an item of magical properties. How curious. He really wanted it bad, and offered to trade a pretty unusual dagger for it, and as much as I hated to give it up seeing as how it was a gift, I have learned enough of Arwan to know that he would not have let it alone at that. I am growing quite fond of my companions, and consider most of them friends at this point, but the simple fact is that I am new to their group, and I am not quite sure whose side they would take should Arwan try to take it from me. Oh well, I just hope I have not offended Brandon, as he is dear to me.

Brandon got curious about the diamond thing with the thingies surrounding it (maybe he has a little kender in him), and decided to bring forth a great big lion to play with it. Well, it must not have liked to too much cause this fire elemental appeared out of nowhere and attacked. Brandon took care of it easily, just in time for another one to show up. I’m like, woah!!! What is going on here? Brandon also took care of that one (I think) and we moved on.

We come to this big pile of rocks and notice a bunch of little things crawling and gathering within. I feel the bile rise in my throat as I realize it’s thousands upon thousands of little spiders. How gross! Now mind you, Kender are small because they are meant to do small things, and it’s the small things that make a difference…but spiders?!?! What purpose do they serve but to make me sick? And if the reality of the spiders weren’t enough, they start to form into one mass, with one eat the kender! I used my wand of fireballs, and my alchemist’s fire, and the rest of the group used every means available to destroy them. They chased us pretty much all the way back to the last room we were in and got a lucky shot in on me. It left me feeling a little drained, but Joshua thinks that will fade with some rest. I hope so, this group counts on me! At one point Arwan made me invisible and sent me into the hall to see if they could find me. So I climbed the wall to go over them, and they shot out at me with some sort of appendage. Luckily I jumped out of the way just in time. So much for that theory. I guess Arwan’s motto is, when in doubt, test it on the kender…geez. It was kind of fun though. I don’t get it, one night I like the pale faced elf, the next I’m thinking I’m going to have to stick my dagger in his gullet. I guess time will only tell. It was really cool though when he summoned this giant lizard and it started to eat the spiders. There’s something you don’t see every day! Oh yeah, and more of these fire elementals showed up and attacked Eranilor, but I saved him.. I sure hope he appreciates me!

So we end up in this room and I’m not quite sure what happened. There was some strange noodle nosed creature on a ledge who screamed like a banshee, and by the time I got into the room to actually see what was going on, Arwan cast some sort of spell that seemed to simply tear it open. It was fascinating and worrisome at the same time. This has been a very eventful day. One filled with wonder and grief. I grow tired.

I will miss you Paverell. There is now a tear in my heart that may never mend. I can only hope that I find our friends before they meet the same fate. May your next great journey be your finest my friend. And may the other side fill your pouches.

Edited by: shilsen at: 11/24/03 4:19 am
(11/28/03 5:02 am)
Demonstone issues
Entry 9 (Brandon):
Arwan - Elf Necro5/Alienist5
Brandon - Human Rg2/Clr9 (Kord)
Eranilor - Elf Rgr3/Rog5/Sniper2
Joshua - Human Clr9 (St. Cuthbert)
Tink - Ftr2/Rog7

Well, it looks like we are going to rest up a bit. I volunteered to take the first watch. I didn’t expect anything to happen and even if it did, I though that we were pretty well protected being up on a ledge 20 feet above the cavern floor. Nothing happened during my watch but, halfway through Tink’s watch, she woke everyone up. She had said that she heard some noises coming our way.

I had taken out my bow thinking to shoot whatever was out there but whoever they were they were not carrying anything as a light source. They were making sniffing sounds like they were smelling us out. I had drawn my bow and had planned to shoot them but with no light that was going to be hard to do. So I changed out to my great sword.

I activated it as a light source and we saw two giant sized creatures - even larger than Hill Giants and they were carrying VERY big flails. Eranilor loosed three arrows at them but didn’t seem to do a lot of damage. The closest one to us took a couple of steps towards us and swung his flail at me when he was 15 feet away! Since I couldn’t hit him, I swung at the flail. Boy were those things BIG! Arwan had placed an invisibility spell on Tink so as long as she didn’t attack, the Giants couldn’t see her but they sure as hell could see everyone else!

I figured that since the giants were taller than the ledge and since they had a 15 foot reach, I needed to get off the ledge and attack then directly - so I did. Apparently while I was keeping the one nearest us busy, Tink had snuck up on the same one and had hit him from behind! While both of us were so engaged, Arwan was still safely (all things being relative) on the ledge and Joshua successfully used a Command spell on the second one, putting him to sleep.

Tink impressed me. She really tore into that Giant (I think he was more surprised then me). Eranilor kept on plinking away with his bow, Joshua finally was able to safely get off the ledge and Arwan was doing what Arwan usually does - keeping out of danger. We soon dispatched the both of them. In retrospect, even though the giants had damage reduction and could regenerate, killing them was too easy and made me overconfident.

Since we made so much noise during that fight, Tink and Eranilor decided to check out the passageway to the south to make sure there were no new surprises. Joshua and I went back up to the ledge where Arwan was. When we got there, Arwan was in the process of casting a spell (it looked to me like Detect Thoughts) and he was holding one of his precious stones in his hand. When asked what he was doing, he said that he really wasn’t doing anything (yeah, right!).

We finished our rest period with no further interruptions. After everyone was fit again, Arwan seemed to be drawn to the dead giants. He took out their vocal cords and cut off their ears (I really think there is something very weird about that boy). Tink noticed some shiny objects among the rocks that had fallen from the cave ceiling during the fight with the giants. It turned out to be diamonds. Most of them were not of very high quality, but one of then seemed to be worth about 750 gp. So Joshua got the bright idea of raising from the dead the paladin that we accidentally killed (so how was I supposed to know she wasn’t one of the bad guys?!).

Halfway during the spell casting, it seems to start going wrong. The body started to smoke and hellfire erupts around the body. From the flames and smoke, the paladin emerged. She tells us that she has come from Nerull’s realm and that we have really screwed things up. It seems that whenever we had asked aid from one of our gods (e.g., Kord), Tharizdun was able to take advantage in the laws of balance between good and evil and perform some dastardly deed.

She also gave us some vague hints that we were wasting out time and that we should be doing something else but would not elaborate. Tink asked her if any of her companions were alive in this place. The paladin informed Tink that Bigby was ahead and was, for now, still alive.

The paladin then informed Arwan that one of the stones that he carried was a demon stone, that it was very dangerous and he should get rid of it or destroy it, if he could. Arwan then took out the stone and attempted to touch her with it. The paladin did not take kindly to this action, avoided the stone and summoned a black steed with red eyes and fangs. Boy was this fun, just when I started to think things were getting boring again.

Arwan, not to be outdone, attacked the paladin with a sonic orb spell. At this point, I began to believe that the paladin (even though when Joshua cast the detect evil spell, Arwan, the stone and the paladin all detected as evil) was right about the stone. I dropped my great sword and charged Arwan to grab the demon stone from him.

Unfortunately, I did manage to take the stone from him. As soon as I did, this feeling came over me that everyone out there was against me and wanted to do me harm! Arwan appeared to be a little upset about what I did and he cast a wall of force around me. While Arwan was focused on me, the paladin mounts up on the black horse and disappears, which allows Arwan to focus entirely upon me. Oh joy!

Meanwhile, I was having my own problems! Some insidious evil was trying to take over my mind. I continued to struggle against it but I seemed to be losing the fight. With one final surge, I was able to finally cast down the stone. Since I didn’t have my sword, I used my spells against the demon stone. I first cast Holy Smite against it. It seemed to be having some effect, but ironically it also seemed to be affecting Arwan because he suddenly put his hands to his head as if he had just been mightily hit on his head. I then cast Searing Light and the stone exploded. I barely managed to avoid serious injury. I don’t know how Arwan felt about the destruction (he seemed to be overwrought and threatened some dire actions against me (what else is new?). But the thing in my mind disappeared and that was what was important. I also think that Kord would have been pleased with my actions.

At this point, Tink wanted to know what the hell was going on. Since she wasn’t at the original meetings, we brought her up to date on what had transpired and what we were doing here.

Tink was in a lather to get going again so that we could find Bigby before he too was destroyed. So we continued onward going south by southwest in the tunnels. We came to one tunnel that broadened out to a large cavern and in the middle was the corpse of a man in torn black robes wearing the air temple’s symbol around his neck. We heard some scratching noises from a tunnel in the northeastern part of the cavern. Tink went out to investigate, but as she got closer to the sounds, they suddenly stopped.

Rather than continue on with our journey, we all decided to find out what was there rather than leave a potential threat at our rear. As Tink and I entered a cavern with a pit in its middle, we were struck by this dual blast of sonic energy from, as it turned out, two destrachans. We were soon able to put these guys out of the action. Apparently, the destrachans had been active recently because we found four dead bodies in the corner of the cavern. Since there was nothing that we could do for them, I tossed the bodies into the sand pit where they slowly sunk out of sight, not the best burial but better than nothing. (Tink had tried previously trawling in the sand pit but had found nothing interesting).

We continued on towards the air temple and came to a door on the west wall about 30 feet from the opening of another large cavern. Tink, hearing some sounds ahead, went forward to investigate and soon found herself embroiled in a fight with two cloakers. Eranilor went to join Tink. Meanwhile Arwan and I were guarding the door figuring that with the noise Tink and Eranilor were making in fighting the cloakers, some reinforcements might charge at any time through the door. Joshua was in between the door and the cloaker fight ready to help in either direction. It seemed to me that the cloaker fight was well in hand, so I opened the door and spotted 8 Kuo-toans standing about 40 feet away. I cast a flame strike on them and then dodged got out of the way. I asked Arwan to cast a fireball or something at them and I think that he did.

Looking down the corridor, it appeared that two of the Kuo-toans were down, two of them were seriously wounded with two of the less seriously wounded moving these out of harm’s way. But two of them seem to be unharmed. Not knowing any better, I charged these two. They both swung at me while I was charging but neither of them was able to hit me. That is when I really got a surprise! Before I knew it, these Kuo-toans turned out to be some type of mechanical construct called Guardians of the Boats and they had two sabers physically attached to their arms instead of hands.

They both swung at me and I got clobbered! I had never seen anything like it. One minute I was standing there whole and hearty and the next I felt like sliced beef. For the first time that I can remember, I fled the fight! I quickly disengaged and went out to the main tunnel where I started to heal myself.

From later reports, I found out that Joshua really took some actions that even now amaze me. He went right up to those two mechanical things and stood his ground. They informed Joshua that they were Guardians of the Boats and that no unauthorized individuals were allowed to pass. Somehow, among Tink, Joshua, Eranilor and Arwan, they were able to defeat both of these mechanical slicing machines.

(12/1/03 3:56 am)
Near-drowning, arena combat & damsels in distress
Entry 10 (Joshua):

Even after the second of the strange constructs fell to my morningstar and the invisible Tink's dagger, we had no time to pause. Eranilor, already hasted by Arwan's timely spell, ran around the corner after the two fleeing kuo-toas, followed more sedately by our resident necromancer. Presumably Tink too moved on. I could still hear Brandon feverishly healing himself out in the corridor, where he had fled. From the sounds, I knew that for some reason he was using his own spells instead of the wand he carries. Hardly an intelligent move considering that we specifically purchased the wands to save our spells. Strange are the ways of chaos! Anyway, I too was wounded, and used one of my wands to heal myself. Naturally the powers of its creator were far less than that which the generosity of St. Cuthbert has granted me, so it took me longer than if I had indiscriminately used my own spells, but I resisted the temptation. As I relinquished the depleted wand, Brandon came charging back into the corridor and paused to break the rapiers off the creatures' arms. I presume it was a form of revenge. Or simply greed?

Anyway, at the same time, we heard the sound of Eranilor's bow and his warning shout: "Hey, guys?! Kuo-toan cleric ahead, and Gillian's back. As a ghast!" Somewhat confused at the shout, I moved forward as best I could, while Brandon charged past me again. Coming around the corner, I saw a large hall with a side corridor leading to another one. Eranilor was shooting at a kuo-toan standing at the far end, while Arwan fired off a fireball from a wand that looked like Tink's. Not seeing her, I wondered if he had harmed her in any way. The impulsive Kordite again charged forward, only to be struck by an arrow fired by someone around the corner. I moved to aid him, cringing inwardly as I passed by Arwan and put myself between him and the kuo-toan, who ducked back around the corner. Another fireball from the wand erupted near it, hopefully catching it in the last. As I neared Brandon, I was horrified to see his enemy. It was truly Gillian, or rather his body animated by the stain of undeath, clawing and biting at his former allies. A foul stench emerged from him, but I was too far away to be affected. As he clawed at Brandon, the Kordite stiffened and stood motionless, paralyzed by the ghast. Eranilor, meanwhile had moved ahead of me and fired a trio of arrows into the creature. A gash opened in its side from an invisible blade, showing that Tink too was in the fray. I called upon the power of my god, and he answered as reliably as ever (unlike the fickle will of Brandon's deity, I may add). St. Cuthbert's holy power manifested through me and sent the ghast reeling back. Another blow from Tink sped its retreat and it fell, seemingly dying (or so I erroneously thought then!) through a half-open pair of doors behind it. Beyond lay a small dock opening onto the lake, and the creature fell into the water.

For the moment, we seemed safe. Although Brandon was paralyzed, that is. Knowing that the paralysis would soon wear off, I passed through the doors onto the dock to see if any other danger threatened, while the others searched for the kuo-toa. In the distance there were a couple of boats drifting away, but I saw no creatures nearby. Turning back, my eyes fell on a small bench, bearing a pair of grisly trophies. A partly-carved thighbone lay next to a carving knife, and next to it was what seemed to be part of a gnome skull, actually containing pieces of brain! Disgusted and fearful that it might be one of the friends Tink had mentioned, I gingerly picked them up and turned to give them a watery burial, murmuring the Third Burial Psalm at the same time. As I neared the edge of the dock, a giant creature (like a monstrous lobster) surged out of the water and seized me! I screamed in surprise and terror, praying desperately that my companions would hear me. Tink and Eranilor, that is, since Brandon was still paralyzed (maybe I should have used up that Remove Paralysis scroll on him, after all) and Arwan was ... well, Arwan! As I tried vainly to free myself from the huge claw locked around my waist, my prayer was answered. Eranilor stepped onto the dock behind me and fired a volley of arrows at point-blank range into the beast's head. One sank deep into an eyeball, and I saw the dark intelligence go out of the other. For a moment I thought I was safe, but to my horror the dying beast sank backwards into the water, pulling me with it.

As the murky water closed over my head, and I quickly sank downwards, I thought this was finally it. I was going to my rest in the halls of St. Cuthbert's realm, and I stopped resisting, at the thought. But wait - that evil paladin (?!) had said all dead souls were going to Nerull's realm! That would not do! Calling on my god-granted strength I struggled to break free, and finally succeeded. By then I was too deep to see the surface, but I managed to hit the side of the crater and hang on. Unable to swim due to my heavy armor, I slowly and painfully began to climb upwards, lungs labouring under the strain. I could not see the surface, but I saw a light moving down towards me. Strangely, it seemed to be a flame burning underwater! For a moment I thought it was a miracle sent to bring me hope, but then I saw the rope trailing out behind it and realised it must be Tink (invisible, as ever) and her flaming sword. Unbelievably, she must have dived in after me. Hopefully, I continued to move upwards, and the light moved down. Soon, I felt her arms as she looped the rope around me, and a quick tug had us ascending much faster. Just as hope was rekindled within my heart, I felt a surge in the water, and the rope went slack. Moments later, a giant creature of some kind surged out of the darkness and narrowly missed us. Unable to see it properly, I was struck by its next attack, although my armor protected me somewhat. As I gave myself up for lost again, the beast thrashed around in pain and blood pooled around me. Seizing the opportunity, Tink had mortally wounded it. The distracted beast relaxed its grip and I was able to draw my mace and strike it mightily, slaying it. Freed again, I kept climbing with Tink's welcome aid.

Slowly emerging from the blood and getting a better view of the surface, I was again surprised to see Arwan hovering in the water some distance above us, and apparently fighting the ghast Gillian. Had Arwan too come to rescue me? That seemed too unbelievable to be true. Apparently Arwan had used some magic, since he moved through the water without swimming, and seemed to be breathing as we had previously when using the water breathing potions. Despite the precariousness of my position, I once more called upon the power of St. Cuthbert, and again he answered, sending the ghast fleeing in terror. Arwan swooped down, seized me, and dragged me up to the surface. As I lay on the dock gasping like a fish, all I could think was that Arwan had helped to rescue me! Would wonders never cease? What was left? Maybe Tink would turn out to be a polymorphed giant or Eranilor would shoot himself in the foot one day! When I recovered my breath, I thanked Tink (still invisible) profusely. Thanking Arwan was somewhat awkward in view of some of my previous comments, but I did so too. Eranilor, who had been handling the ropes tied to Tink and Arwan, only grinned and said that I looked a little fatter after the water I had drunk. Idiot! Brandon was still in the shame shape - and position - as before.

While I recited a prayer of thanks to St. Cuthbert, the others busied themselves in various ways. Tink enjoyed herself by posing the pliant form of the Kordite. Apparently Eranilor and Arwan had found the kuo-toan dead and a chest of valuables too. Arwan walked over and handed me a scroll of divine spells he had found in there. Curiouser and curiouser! This change in his demeanour is very confusing for me. Is it just that the demonstone's influence has worn off, or has that affected him in a more positive sense? Is he simply faking such behavior to throw us off? Did he somehow realise I planned to ask him to leave when we found the entrance to these mines (which Eranilor says is only a short distance ahead) and is trying to prevent that? I truly do not know. What is undeniable is that he tried to rescue me too, and for that I owe him some consideration. I shall have to ask the Lord of the Cudgel for guidance. Despite what the evil paladin said, asking for such aid should not be unwonted. Her statement that our gods are not taking a hand in matters is obviously a lie. They are providing Brandon and me, and presumably all other clerics, with our spells whenever we pray to them, and allowing us to use them. When I enchant Tink's sword, or blind an enemy, or grow with Righteous Might and smite my foes, it is only the power of St. Cuthbert manifesting through my mortal form. There is evil and chaos to be smitten here, and I must persevere in that quest.

Anyway, after Tink reappeared and Brandon recovered (extremely disgruntled at having missed the excitement of my near-death!), we continued onwards. Our departure was delayed when Tink suddenly started crying. Apparently she had caught sight of the gnome skull I had seen, and realised that it belonged to a friend of hers. The poor kender seems to be having progressively bad luck in finding her friends. Brandon, crass as usual, made some insensitive comment about her friends dying, sending her into hysterics. While Eranilor consoled her, I quickly persuaded the Kordite that he should go kick in a few doors (always a favourite pastime of his) and we moved on. Despite our closeness to the main gate and the air temple, what we found were empty rooms, storage cupboards, garbage, etc. One room contained three dwarven statues (one belonging to a queen called Tulien, or so Tink says), and Brandon promptly struck one with his sword. Sometimes I wonder if he is insane too!

Eranilor said he heard shouts and crying coming from somewhere further along (how do elves hear these things?), and we quickly moved on to find a large set of double doors with the sounds coming from beyond them. Arwan turned Tink and himself invisible, while Brandon opened the door and ran in. Before I could do the same, a strange creature appeared in the doorway, appearing like an animated demonic statue. It must have been one of the gargoyles I have heard about. Before it could attack, a set of arrows from Eranilor dropped it on its face. Moving into the room, I saw a strange scene. A catwalk led all the way around a pit or arena of some kind, with steel spikes keeping those below at bay. A tethered dog, foaming at the mouth, snarled at a crying woman pinioned just beyond its reach. A dwarf and a strange spiny humanoid creature (a demon of some kind!) were also tied in the pit. On the catwalk stood Brandon, facing a gargoyle and another twice its size. I cast a spell on the large one, forcing it to dance at my Command. Brandon took the opportunity to strike the smaller one heavily, forcing it to land in the pit. Unfortunately, it landed near the dwarf and struck out viciously, killing him. Moments later, it slumped over as a wound opened in its flesh & Tink reappeared, dagger in hand. A volley of magic missiles struck the large (still dancing one) as Arwan too appeared, floating in mid-air, and Brandon too struck it and moved away. It still showed signs of fight, but only until Eranilor too attacked, firing three arrows into it with one sinking deep into its heart.

Meanwhile, Tink had moved to try to free the pinioned demon! I rushed to remonstrate with her (I was on the catwalk above), and to my surprise, Arwan flew down to try to prevent her. Again his actions confuse me. Seeing him unable to restrain her, I tried to climb down and slipped, falling ignominiously on the sand. Luckily, only my dignity was hurt. After a very animated argument, we decided to allow Tink to free the creature (it had a name, apparently, but not worth recalling) if it swore not to harm us. I stood ready with weapon upraised for the slightest sign of betrayal, and obviously the creature recognised my resolve, since it fled immediately. It seems the collar around its neck was some kind of magical restraint, so I gave it to Arwan. He could probably understand it and use it better than anyone else in the group, and if he is turning his back on his evil ways, it behoves me to aid that transition as best I can.

Apparently the demon revealed to Tink that her friend Bigby had been in the mines as a prisoner too, which is why she was freeing it (still not a good reason, in my opinion). Joining the others, we found that Brandon had apparently found another young female prisoner to join the one in the pit (and, for some reason, 'bravely' slain the dog pinioned there!). He was obviously very taken with them (admittedly they are quite beautiful), and more surprisingly, they are extremely taken with him. The fact that they are courtesans or something of that nature helps, I am sure! Much more importantly, the women (called Benysh and Elenyra) provided the information that Bigby was apparently insane for a period and revealed some information about a hidden valley called Kenderburg where Tink's people live. Tink was justifiably horrified at the idea of her people being in danger. The women also said that the guards at the main gate had been reinforced with elementals, monstrous humanoids, clerics, and others. Obviously a difficult battle awaits us. Especially considering the amount of Arwan and Brandon's magic that has been depleted today, and the fact that we have two non-combatants as a liability (I am sure Brandon would differ!) with us. Still, with the blessings of St. Cuthbert I am sure we will prevail in our chosen course. Hail the Cudgel!

(12/5/03 3:51 am)
Entry 11 (Eranilor):

...At this point, with the spellcasters in the group low on spells and two non-combatants in tow, things didn't look particularly good. In view of what Elenira had told us about extra guards having been posted at the gates. I'd have preferred to simply teleport out of the mines to Verbobonc & return later, but unfortunately it seemed Tink's friend Bigby might be in danger. So we decided to continue onwards. Knowing that there were a pair of large doors a couple hundred feet down at the end of the corridor, I suggested that Arwan turn Tink invisible and we let her scout ahead. Moments after she left, Brandon got the bright idea to follow and help her. Not only did that somewhat invalidate the idea of scouting up ahead, but he took the two women with him! Presumably they had each suffered cranial injuries during the captivity, since they went along happily! I refused to move, and Joshua and Arwan stayed put too. Brandon made a couple of disparaging comments to the women about me being a coward, but I ignored him. I'm used to him thinking with his greatsword (pun unintended) & to his comments about my habit of using a bow and staying out of melee, but I learned how to distinguish idiocy from courage a few decades ago, so he doesn't bother me. So Brandon, with his glowing greatsword (really no pun this time!) went and squatted in the middle of the corridor with his new-found admirers (concussions for sure!) about a hundred feet ahead of us, while Tink went on beyond that. After a while, she returned to report finding a side-corridor that gave off a cold & evil feeling, as with that wraith-infested crypt near the Fire Temple (like "Arwan's family re-union", according to her), & further on a strange bird-like creature sitting on a ledge and watching the main corridor. Still hadn't checked out the doors, so she went back. Guess it's sometimes an advantage to have a fearless member of the party (Joshua, still squelching in his armor, can vouch for that!). After another interval of time, I heard knocking down the corridor & she returned to say that she'd heard voices (& possibly chanting) on the other side & knocked on the door but got no response.

So we decided to try something else, while Tink danced around me invisibly & recited a children's poem. Don't ask why! As the wise say, do not meddle in the ways of kender, for they are short, crazy & quick to pee-pee. I used my Hat of Disguise to make myself look like one of the gargoyles we'd fought in the arena-room, & we draped ropes around the women's hands to make them seem to still be prisoners. Then we three headed for the door while the others went invisible and followed. Passed the bird-like creature on the way, but I pretended to ignore it. Also passed the side-corridor, which definitely had a nasty feel to it (evil corridors - just about all we need now!), and found another one near the big door at the end. I also heard chanting & voices beyond the door, but when I knocked on it, there was no response other than the voices disappearing. Finding a concealed hatch, I opened it to see a large room beyond, with a strange statue (which Elenyra said hadn't been there before) on a plinth in the center, & doors to north & south. Arwan offered to use a Knock spell on the door (locked & barred on the other side), and we opened it. Entering the room, I went to investigate the southern door, while the women entered (& some of the invisible people, whom I could hear behind me). Meanwhile Tink, unknown to us, had gone to investigate the closest side-corridor outside the room (& found a lavatory!). I heard nothing beyond the door to the south, which seemed to be locked on the other side, and headed to the other. Passing the statue, I noticed that it was dressed in regalia from the Furyondyan royal house. Brandon and his erstwhile companions had been hired to find the kidnapped Thrommel, prince of Furyondy, so I wondered if this was a representation or actually his petrified form. Not stopping to check, I reached the northern door. As I reached for it, I heard the soft sound of Arwan (still under the effect of his spell) flying by above the statue. As he came within reach, it suddenly lashed out at him (luckily it missed), with both arms forming some kind of pseudopod. And that's when, to paraphrase the Bard, someone cried "Havoc" & let loose the dogs of war!

I stepped back and fired three arrows into the creature, whatever it was. The body, covered with a stony skin & an oily residue, was amorphous & constantly shifting shape. But apparently it could take damage, since my arrows gashed it. A moment later, the door next to me flew open, almost knocking me down, and a quartet of large skeletons charged in, wielding huge spears and clubs. A couple swung at me, but missed. At the same time, I heard spellcasting from the corridor we'd come down. The only other people visible were the two unfortunate women, & before they could flee a dozen large black tentacles appeared from the floor around them, seizing them, one skeleton and the creature on the pedestal. At the same time, a volley of arrows shot through the door to the south, dispelling the illusion & revealing over a dozen human archers beyond it, some on a platform suspended from the ceiling. Only one hit me, but one of the poor women (Benysh, I think) was skewered while being seized by the tentacles (talk about a bad day!), which completed the job and pulverized her body. It's strange that I did not see through the illusion when I checked the southern door, but right then I didn't have much time for worrying about it. Suddenly Brandon appeared in the far corner of the room, holding forth his holy symbol and trying to drive back the undead. What do you know? The man can do more than swing a sword! The four skeletons collapsed into dust, surprising Brandon more than me (wish I had a picture of his expression). Arwan, Joshua & Tink were still invisible at this point, although I heard someone clanking into the corridor the spellcasting came from, so I presumed it was our resident Cuthbertite (Cuthbertian?). Elenyra managed to pull herself free from the tentacle and ran in the same direction, leaving the room to Brandon, the statue-creature, twelve tentacles, & the first group of warriors, who had dropped their bows and charged. What a party!

Since the big monster was occupied in slashing at the tentacles holding it, Brandon and I concentrated on dropping the humans. They were being urged forward by a large human in half-plate armor and shield, wielding a sword that seemed to have the symbol of the air temple on it. I wondered if I could trust my eyesight, keen though it is, considering I was all the way across a crowded room, but he dispelled my doubts by leveling it and uttering some command, which sent a blast of air rocketing across to strike me. Didn't seem too strong, leaving a bruise at most. Just as he did this, I heard more spellcasting from the darkness down the corridor & two volleys of magic missiles shot out of it, hammering into Brandon. This, combined with the wounds he had already taken from our opponents, made him look shaky & I began to wonder how much longer he could last. Luckily, more familiar casting came from the doorway and Joshua reappeared. His sound burst stunned nearly all of the remaining warriors, including the guy with the air sword, causing them to reel & drop their weapons. Tink, who'd apparently been awaiting such a chance, also reappeared with her dagger darting out to kill a couple of the others. At the same time, I could hear Arwan casting spells in the corridor, presumably engaging the caster there. I took the opportunity to put an arrow between the eyes of the (ex) air-sword wielder, pinning his corpse to the wall, and dropped a couple more while Brandon took care of two, sending the last pair fleeing. This seemed to clear up much of the room, but unfortunately the big beast had managed to free itself from the tentacles, having destroyed most of them with an awesome display of strength.

It stepped down, swinging at Tink with its pseudopod. Not only did it hit, but the apparently adhesive slime stuck her to it (& seemed to hurt her further, from the look on her face). Luckily, she managed to wriggle out of its grasp and tumbled away, as did Joshua (okay, so he didn't tumble - although that would have been amusing to watch!) after casting an ineffectual spell on it. At this moment, one of the three archers on the platform (who'd been putting on an execrable display of shooting so far) did manage to graze me, but it wasn't serious, and there was something bigger to occupy me. Brandon had moved behind me (that's a switch!) & was healing himself, so I was the only target left in the room. As I shot a few more arrows into it, the beast (whose wounds were slowly healing, I noticed) charged and struck me. Instantly, I knew what Tink had felt, as the slime seemed to suck at my essence, hurting me more permanently than the actual wound. Thanks to Joshua's strength-enhancing magic, I was able to pull myself free & tumble out of its way. As I came to my feet, I noticed that the constant arrows from the enemy archers had stopped, & saw Arwan (who'd apparently used a spell to protect himself from arrows) floating in the air before the platform, taunting & firing acidic missiles from a wand at them. Nice of him to run interference for us, although a little voice says it was more for enjoyment & to show off his powers. Either way, I was happy. Not much time to be glad, since the slime-creature (just seeing how many names I can come up with) was still attacking. This time it struck at Brandon and missed, & he wounded it in return. Its wounds were apparently starting to affect it, & two more arrows finally dropped it. Just for good measure, I put a third one into it. Good riddance!

As the creature died, a shout of agony rang out from another side corridor (near where the human warriors had come from). Tink, who had re-entered the room & moved under the archers' platform, gave a scream of "Bigby!" and hared off down the corridor. Brandon ran after her, with Joshua some distance behind. As they ran, I saw another bird, just like the one we'd seen before, watching us from far down the exit corridor. I'd have liked to have investigated it further, but now was not the time. An arrow shattered it (like an object, rather than a living being) & another slew one of the archers. The last two fled into an opening to the side of the platform. Arwan immediately flew down to check the dead bodies. I paused to tell him to follow us, & saw Elenyra re-enter. She asked us where we were going, & I replied that my companions had disappeared down the corridor & that she should leave. She quickly grabbed some equipment while telling me to look her (& her organisation) up if we are ever in Verbobonc. It's unfortunate that we couldn't accompany her out of the mines (the entrance was in front of me just at the corridor's end!), but I had more important concerns right then, & I got out of the charity business a long time ago. With a parting shout at Arwan, who seemed to be having a grand old time with the corpse pinned to the wall (no, he was just looting it), I ran around the corner & after the others.

I found them standing & arguing halfway up the steps in front of a wall of obviously unnatural darkness. Apparently Tink had touched it & been hurt (she said something about "unnatural cold"), & Brandon had vainly tried to dispel it, & now they were trying to work out what to do. That was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in a long while, even if it was in a couple of moments. Despite the exit being temptingly close, within a few yards of us, there was obviously no way Tink would leave (we could still hear the chanting & screams at this point) & I wasn't about to leave anyone behind. Brandon seemed interestingly reluctant to enter the darkness (can't kill it with a sword, you see), although he did offer to cast a protection from evil on anyone else willing to do so. Joshua cast a larger area version of the spell on himself, but with his wonderful surefootedness I didn't think him walking into the darkness was a good idea. So I had the others tie a rope around me & plunged in. As I said at the time, "I hate this heroic crap!" Plunged is right, since there was a landing immediately beyond the darkness & I (expecting more steps) landed flat on my face. Right then I didn't really care, since Tink had been right about the cold. It seemed to pierce my body, like being out in the open in the mountains of Celene in winter, but with a hungry & almost sentient urgency to it. Not having much choice, I pushed on. After travelling some fifty feet or so, I was having second thoughts, but continued. Moments later, I emerged from the darkness to see more steps & another landing ahead of me. I called back to the others (sound seemed to travel perfectly fine through the darkness) to join me. Brandon was the first, having apparently decided to follow the rope behind me, & then the others. Each seemed somewhat hurt, other than Arwan, who had a look of almost orgasmic bliss on his face. What we could see of it, that is, since his facial tattoos had reformed themselves into a strange, swirling pattern around his face. Brandon commented that it was the mark of Tharizdun, but I doubt Arwan heard. Apparently Tink had persuaded him to touch the darkness & it made him feel stronger (& put a silly grin on his face). So presumably it is sentient, since it's picky about what it'll eat.

Anyhow, we didn't have much time for abstruse reasoning, although I was admittedly tempted to hold Arwan in the darkness & see if he bloated up with energy & exploded - purely scientific curiosity, of course! Brandon & I had moved a few steps upwards, & as we stepped forward, a floating ball of light appeared at the end of the corridor. Seeing (?) us, it began to pulsate with various colors. I nocked an arrow, thinking "Once more into the breach" & then...

(12/9/03 4:03 am)
Air Temple Ambush
Entry 12 (Arwan):

As the strange ball of light began to corruscate with different colors, I fired a volley of magic missiles at it, which only made it glow more brightly and seem to grow. Eranilor's arrows had surprisingly more effect, blasting it into oblivion. Meanwhile Brandon ran recklessly past the creature, if such it was, into the giant chamber beyond (another example of suicidal Kordite tendencies). Joshua huffed and puffed in his wake, while Tink asked me to turn her invisible. Before acquiescing, I obtained her fireball wand in exchange. After all, if she died, it would be a waste of a good wand. My timing was excellent, as usual, since a band of gnolls burst around the corner, just in time to receive a fireball that fried them in their tracks. The two survivors went down under Eranilor's arrows and Joshua's morningstar.

Meanwhile, the sounds of combat and Brandon's yells for help (oddly interrupted by moments of silence) reverberated from the massive cavern beyond. Joshua lumbered into the room, as quickly as he could go. I strategically took a rear position & peeked through the archway, with Eranilor beside me (our archer seems quite careful of his own skin whenever possible), and saw a singular scene. Broad steps led up to an altar in the center of a huge chamber. A body lay upon it, apparently a sacrifice, and a pile of other bodies lay on the floor beyond it. Human hearts were arranged in a circle around the altar (a sight that took me back to my apprenticeship with Master Merik). I, however, lacked the opportunity to truly appreciate the artistic display, since my attention was drawn to the numerous opponents of disparate natures that I saw arrayed against us. On the altar stood a corpulent armored human (presumably the high priest of the Air Temple) facing Brandon. Floating beside the altar & attacking the Kordite was an elemental of enormous proportions, apparently composed of air. Interestingly, it must have radiated a zone of silence, since it made no sound & neither did Brandon whenever it neared him. Standing at an archway similar to ours were nearly a dozen human warriors wielding bows, next to a female human in the familiar ochre robes of the temple. Near her, upon the steps, stood an especially large and fierce-looking half-orc wielding a greataxe (presumably a bodyguard). Nearer to us were a trio of gnolls. Just to add the icing on the cake, a strange ghoulish-looking undead creature wearing leather armor was dragging another kender like Tink across the floor on the far side the altar.

As usual, my companions reacted in a completely uncoordinated manner. I’m surprised these idiots haven’t got themselves (& more importantly, me!) killed yet. Tink rushed into the room, presumably seeing the other kender, and her invisibility disappeared as she passed through the doorway. Apparently not feeling particularly hospitable, the archers fired at Joshua (thankfully between me & them), and each of them missed completely or failed to penetrate his armor! Mayhap these elemental clerics need to hire some elven archers. Simultaneously, the female cleric cast a spell on Joshua. He apparently resisted it successfully, responding with a sound burst that stunned her and many of the archers nearly as well as one of his homilies on St. Cuthbert would have. This apparently enraged the half-orc, who immediately set upon Joshua, frothing at the mouth. Eranilor, still carefully staying out of harm's way, dropped a couple of the remaining gnolls & hit the half-orc with another shot. Joshua delivered the coup de grace with a mighty blow to its skull. The remaining gnoll headed for Brandon (apparently the center of attention), as did the strange undead creature. While the air elemental kept Brandon occupied, the high priest slashed open the throat of the sacrificial victim (there's a man who concentrated on the important things in life!). Immediately a nimbus of purplish-black magical darkness appeared above him, the likes of which I have never before encountered, bathing his armor and mace. I refrained from fireballing the area for Brandon's sake (at least for the moment), and targeted the archers instead, dropping a few of them. It should have been all of them, but the paltry power of the wand was no comparison for my own more potent spells, which I had already used. Unable to appreciate such subtle differences, the remaining archers fled from my evident arcane ability.

The battle on the altar remained fast and furious, with Brandon striking the cleric with a mighty blow & being struck in turn by the elemental. The gnoll and the undead remained nuisances at best, but a spell from the cleric seemed to daze Brandon leaving him almost defenseless. Meanwhile Tink was climbing the side of the altar platform to help him. Deciding Brandon might need more help than could be provided by a kender, I targeted the area with a carefully-aimed fireball, but succeeded only in killing the gnoll. Eranilor, meanwhile, had perforated the female cleric with his patented through-the-eyeball shot, allowing Joshua an attempt to dispel the high priest's protective spells. The purplish-black glow still remained on his armor & shield, but his movements seemed to slow, so I assume Joshua did some good. Unable to defend himself, Brandon suffered grievous damage from both elemental & undead, but miraculously remained standing. Luckily, a follow-up spell from the priest seemed to have no effect, and the latter paused to pick up his glowing shield. Tink rendered assistance by striking the elemental solidly from the back (with a dagger, of all weapons!), but too late to distract it from the Kordite, as was I with a blast from my wand of magic missiles. Our two comrades were much less effective. Eranilor fired at the cleric, but some sort of wind wall deflected his missile. Joshua tried a ray of searing light but it could not pierce the other's magical defenses, and he angrily moved closer.

However, these distractions had bought some time for Brandon, who recovered and launched an attack - that missed all his targets! So did the undead, & the elemental turned its attention to Tink with the same result (her blur effect serving usefully here). She struck back more effectively, as did I with my magic missiles, and Eranilor with his arrows. Chunks of air (is that possible?) flew from the creature's body under our combined assault. The cleric paused to dispel magic on Brandon (only affecting his sword) & made the fatal mistake of ignoring our rotund priest. Joshua gave a yell and charged at him, and smote the evil cleric down. Seizing the opportunity, Brandon struck down the undead creature. Meanwhile Tink not only stolidly absorbed a blow from the elemental but struck back effectively, causing her target to dissipate into wisps of air. Personally I believe the cleric's death simply ended the spell that held it on this plane of existence and returned it to the void whence it came, but Tink remains convinced she killed it. Who cares, anyway? I must say that the Water Temple priestess spoke truly. The Air Temple was pitifully weak. Despite rushing into battle Brandon once again failed to get himself killed, though in this case he would have been in less danger fighting a rosebush (a parched one at that). Better luck next time.

Tink finally found Bigby. I must say I didn’t find him very impressive. Maybe he’s not the same Bigby I heard stories about. We also liberated twenty or so other survivors of the Air Temple’s hospitality. Skulls and blood everywhere but I couldn’t ascertain what the Air Temple acolytes were trying to accomplish. Certainly too much effort involved to simply summon an elemental, but what would one expect from fools fumbling around in the dark? Honestly, these temple imbeciles have no idea what they’re doing. Imagine if they actually succeeded, though that might have proven amusing. Only the events following the destruction of the sacrificial altar are noteworthy, for the walls echoed with peals of disembodied laughter, shaking the very foundations of the temple. Rather than hampering him(it), the destruction of the altar(s) has apparently furthered the cause of the Elder Elemental Eye, or perhaps Tharizdun him(it)self. Maybe the destruction of the altar was actually the final step in the ritual we interrupted. It is a humorously ironic twist to say the least.

The decision was made to return the survivors to their home, the rustic paradise of Rastor. As we left the temple and emerged into daylight, the sky seemed much darker than normal for that time of day. No connection with the bodiless laughter or all-pervading aura of menace I’m sure. Brandon and Eranilor went ahead to Rastor and found it to be a burnt out ruin, just as the survivors, who claimed to have been taken from there by force, described it. How unimaginative. No blood-soaked charnel-beasts feeding on the corpses of the dead? No chaos-warped children scampering about on all fours (tentacles, that is)? No crucifixions, vivisections, alterations, or transmutations? Some noticeable changes had taken place, however. Fires seemed to burn brighter and faster, obviously implying some sort of fundamental change, and perhaps an increase in the strength and intensity of even the most basic manifestations of the four alchemical elementals. Maybe time itself is under siege, as the reality-warping influence of Tharizdun bleeds through the ever-widening gap between his place of imprisonment and the Material Planes. To the west we saw steam and smoke gather into angry clouds and form what looked suspiciously like Tharizdun’s symbol. It was time to move on.

The party elected to travel to Verbobonc via a teleport spell (the very one I was keeping in reserve in the event of the party’s destruction). The city was unchanged in that it still seemed under the influence of some ailment of the mind. Madness and rioting everywhere and yet I felt strangely empty. Perhaps I am becoming jaded. The weight of this material existence hangs heavily upon me. I find myself more and more disgusted by the necessities and limitations of the flesh. Soon new opportunities of metaphysical exploration will come and I can cast off this clumsy shell of blood and bone. The Far Realms beckon.... Ah, onto the story. The Verbobonc guardsmen who greeted us were exceedingly paranoid, though I suppose paranoia as a concept becomes rather meaningless in the face of an apocalypse. The weather, at least, was relatively normal. We sought to relay our information to the Viscount but encountered guild wizards instead (feeble pretenders, how I hate them!!!) that informed us all the leaders were dead, felled by magical and mundane assassination and treachery courtesy of the urban sprawl otherwise known as Greyhawk. Again I am obliged to point out that the architects of this supposed cosmic upheaval are rather uninspired in the implementation of their conspiracies and intrigues. I’ve seen more drama in the work of that half-wit of a playwright, Villym Shakes Spear. What sort of name is “Shakes Spear” anyway? Is that his name or what he does? If that’s what it takes to make him put his pen down, so be it.

We accompanied the wizards to their guild-house (I shall never get the smell of buffoonish pomposity out of my clothing) and relayed the goings-on within the temple. They had the audacity to question our veracity. How fortunate for them I was all but bereft of spells. Ah, well. All things come to he who waits. Or is it revenge is a dish best served cold? Stupid clichés, they’ll die too! In the end the wizards did offer us shelter for the night, though the doors were magically barred from the outside and worse yet the rooms didn’t have a southern exposure. Honestly, who builds a room without a southern exposure? At some point two servant-wenches brought us a light repast (undercooked and for free still overcharged). During mindless conversation (like nettle-bugs in my ears) the wenches revealed Rastor to be the source of Verbabonc’s fine ale. Coincidence? It doesn’t take a professional deductor to put that one together. A bit later two of our hosts returned and offered to escort Tink on a walk through the garden, with Brandon and Eranilor in tow. I elected to remain in the room and return to my studies. When they returned they informed Joshua and myself that strange clouds hung in the sky and that stars had shifted in position (some disappearing altogether), altering the very constellations themselves!

It is all as Master Merik predicted. When Aldebaran is ascendent in the Hyades…Never mind. There is no need to restate what is already known. Tomorrow we meet with some priests to discuss these events and plot our course of action. There are other actions to plot as well. The stars are aligning and the veil grows thin. When the stars are right the blind idiot chaos at the center of all things will have a moment of lucidity, then the question can be asked. Soon…

(12/9/03 9:56 am)
Re: Air Temple Ambush
We shall call that silenced air

Great writeups!

(12/10/03 7:03 pm)
So I've gathered. I believe this messageboard contributed greatly to our enjoyment of the adventure.

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