My Friday night group has decided to run this campaign and I have come here looking for advice in the past and noticed a distinct lack of posts within this forum. I can assume that is because it is either old (which it is) and everyone has moved on to greener and newer adventure paths or the fact that the apparent plot leaves something to be desired (to put it lightly).
So to helpfully generate at least some discussion or traffic within this forum I thought I would post my characters journal as we play. It will be in character (as much as I can) with player comments noted in areas.
My character is a chaotic neutral Half-Orc Cleric of Gorum with a 25 point build.
Characteristics: STR 16; DEX 14; CON 14; INT 8; WIS 15; CHA 14
Replaced Orc Ferocity with Sacred Tattoo, and Weapon Familiarity with City-Raised
Traits: Unbreakable Hate, Deft Dodger, and Campaign Trait Looking for Work. As a reward for writing a backstory you were allowed to add a Campaign Trait in addition to the standard two.
Domains: War [subdomain Tactics] and Strength [subdomain Ferocity]
1st level feat was Ironhide
Equipment: Greatsword, Longsword, Heavy Shield-Wood, Punch Dagger, Scale Mail
Half-Orc cleric of Gorum
Tsadok, like many of Riddleport is an orphan. He does not know who his parent were, and he does not care to know. He grew up on the streets fighting for every meal, and for a dry place to rest. Because of his penchant for violence he came to the attention of Boss Croat and worked for many years as a Hushman within his organization.
It was during his employment that he learned of Gorum as one of the marks Tsadok was sent to kiss was himself a devout follower. The fight became an intense affair, enough so that Tsadok was horrifyingly scarred from repeated blows to the head from his targets punch dagger. When Tsadok finally gained the upper hand in the fight, after breaking his targets left arm and biting off his right hand, the mark thanked Tsadok for a worth fight. Explaining that Gorum was proud of his follower this day. The remaining minute before he bled to death the mark told Tsadok of Gorum and his teachings, and from that moment on Tsadok has followed the will of Gorum.
Tsadok would then announce his presence to every mark that he was sent to kiss, making sure that the fight was not perceived by Gorum as a cowardly attack. All attacks were during the day, never at night. The more that was witness to the attack the better. Several marks would run, and this drove Tsadok mad with anger. He would chase the individual through town bellowing his name, calling him a coward. Eventually Boss Croat grew tired of Tsadok’s fervent beliefs and fired him.
Since then, Tsadok has thirsted for battle. Hiring on to any who would hire him if it promised the chance at a fight. He even considered going to Clegg Zincher and fighting in the arena. It was then that he learned of the Gold Goblin Gambling Hall tournament and subsequent reopening. The possibility of becoming a bouncer a lure that offered more coin and less strings . . .
The day of the big tournament was about to begin but the Golden Goblin was closed until late afternoon and I spent that time wandering the wharf district hoping to find someone spoiling for a fight, or to catch one of Riddleport's many cut-purses in the act. Sadly that was not to be and I found the day slowly move to the late afternoon.
Arriving soon after the Golden Goblin opened I was impressed with the patrons waiting to enter. It would seem there was a lengthy note that was being read by all before they could enter and there seemed to be some hesitation by those ahead of me. When I finally advance far enough to read the contract as it were I laughed heartily at its intent. Knowing the document to be playing to the theme of cheating the devil of his gold the contract was a nice touch, so I signed and entered within.
(PLAYER COMMENT: Almost everyone in our party that read it balked at the "contract" and it took the DM explaining that it wasn't a "real" contract but a thematic element. The idea that the campaign would end right at the start was rather humorous to me.)
Upon entering I was greeted to the site of many of its workers dressed as sultry succubi and attendant devils. The bouncers did not look to pose any threat and some of those that knew me or of me, tended to drift to opposite sides of the room. There even seemed to be some sort of imp or small creature in a cage above the gambling house.
An hour or so after I entered the owner entered gave a rather flourishing speech and started the tournament. I admit that the games were challenging and my luck was not with any of them. Although in the end I more than doubled my money it wasn't because of the games of chance.
(PLAYER COMMENT: We didn't spend to much time on the games of chance only doing roulette and listening to a few insults. We did play long enough that one of the players almost won the tournament.)
Later in the evening a sudden burst of magic and bright light blinded me as an individual told us all to drop to the floor and no one would be hurt. A small scuffle from near the exit told me that someone came in from the entrance and disabled the bouncers there. Words of magic were spoken on the stage and movement told me they were grabbing the chest of silver and making for the exit.
Roaring in anger at not being able to see and the throng of bodies on the floor making any movement difficult at best I screamed at the mage that when my eyes returned I would cut him from stem to stern. To be honest I have no idea what that actually means but I have heard many a captain in Riddleport use that threat and it always seemed to work.
(PLAYER COMMENT: Nothing like waiting two weeks to finally play and get taken out of a fight with a crappy roll on a save.)
Sadly I was unable to back up my threat as the sorcerer was dead by the time my eyes returned. It seem that a few people had fought back against the attackers, a dwarf wielding a greatsword covered in blood looking to have been the largest killer of the thieves. After a later visual inspection, most of the blood was his own, a cleric of the Drunken Hero offered him aid.
With the raid over many of the owners employees quit, afraid of more attacks. It would seem that my hope to find work as a bouncer would in fact pay off. The owner in fact did offer such a position, but instead he offered a partnership. If we helped and the Golden Goblin thrived than we would share in the profits. The idea of such a partnership would probably be short lived but I was willing to try, especially if fights were to become common place.
Those in attendance and soon full partners included the dwarf (Barbarian), and four humans (Monk/Bard, Cleric, Rogue) and a strange looking gaunt and pale woman (summoner).
In fact the very next day a group of drunken sailors came in and eventually started to cause trouble. Proclaiming that they were robbed of their coin the previous night and jumping up on the tables. As much as I thought that removing them from the table with my great sword would be satisfying, it would not honor Gorum since they were drunk and relatively unarmed. Not to mention the mess it would create. Instead asking for Gorums blessing I increased in size and yelled at them to get down. (Intimidate) The dwarf partner on the other hand drew his weapon and thus so did the sailors.
Their skill with a blade was poor and made even poorer with drink. A small tussle ensued leaving one of the sailors dead (and making a mess of one of our tables) the largest of their band wrapped in my arms and the other two wetting their britches. The Gendarm arrived shortly after taking the sailors into custody.
The next few days showed an increase in patrons, the word beginning to spread that the Golden Goblin was the best place to spend your evenings and your coin.
The next night I had an interesting dream . . .
You stand in an open plain, a recent battlefield. The sky, a striking crimson; whether it is dawn or dusk you cannot say. In the background you hear the sounds of crackling fire, the groans of wounded soldiers, and a slow rhythmic pounding sound. As you struggle to come to terms with these strange surroundings, you begin to realize that the pounding sound seems to be getting louder. You now feel the ground begin to tremble underfoot. Then suddenly, you see a form materializing on the horizon. As the figure approaches you are struck with a distinct combination of awe and fear. This being stands twice and a half the size of any man, clad from cap to boot in black iron armor, its eyes burning with a mystical flame. You know deep down that you stand in the presence of Gorum, Lord of Battles!
"I set a task before you, stripling." As he speaks you can feel your bones rattle. As he stares at you, you feel your face sting as if you sat too rear a camp fire. It take all you fortitude to continue to meet his gaze.
"You will seek my blade." He continued, either oblivious or unmoved by your discomfort.
"You will find the Fang of Kathalphas." With each word you felt as if your bones may snap, and your skin blistered as he stared.
"Firsts you must acquire my token. It will guide you onwards." You dropped you your knees, feeling crushed, unable breathe. No longer can you meet his gaze. You can smell your skin as it begins to cook.
"My token lingers in the hands of an unworthy. A fool and coward unworthy of its might." You hear him say as you crumple to the floor, your skin melting off your face.
"Seek him on the crow's path. Find my token. Seek my blade!"
You shoot up from your bed. Covered in a thin sheen of sweat. You instinctively touch your face, making sure it remains intact. Was it a dream then? Shaken, you rise and prepare yourself for the day. "A dream, or perhaps something more." you ponder as you try to shake a pair of burning eyes from your mind.
A great many strange things have been happening in Riddleport as of late. The day of the Cheat the Devil gambling tournament I was awoken to the shaking of the earth as if Gorum himself tread the earth. The day after a group of sea birds took flight and banked in a great circle until they eventually flew into the cypher gate, killing themselves. The next day all the metal seemed to cling to itself, making my armor uncomfortable and the drawing of weapons difficult, and now a surge of water came in during the night as if high tide didn't bring in enough of the ocean, the streets were covered with more puddles than normal, accumulations of fish rotting everywhere. These are bad omens and I fear it will only get worse.
The day after my vision I asked some of my new partners if they had ever heard of Crow's Path. Being familiar myself with Riddleport I knew of no such street name. Although one of the members, the human gamble wondered if I meant Raven's Street. The name was similar and it made sense that Gorum would not give a literal translation to where I would find this coward so I decided to go. The dwarf that helps the owner did not think it wise to travel there as it was gang territory and unsafe. I laughed at his warnings as I fear no man, and Riddleport was full of braggarts and thieves. Somer were dangerous but only because of the fear they caused in others.
My erstwhile partners decided to go along as there were no pressing matters that needed attending to before the Golden Goblin opened. We traveled to Raven Street where only drunks lay in the streets, but others watched from the darkness. Doubting that any of the louts in the street were who I was looking for I shouted for the coward to show himself. That I had been tasked by Gorum himself to retrieve his token. I was only met with silence until I moved further down the street. Then a man proclaiming to be a thief said we would be unharmed if we gave up our weapons and money. Before any reply could be given our dwarven barbarian ran after the loudmouth, frothing as if bit by a rabid dog.
No sooner had I made my way around a large pool of filth than I heard one of my partners ask for the Drunken Heroes blessing and I increased in size. It is no secret that Gorum has fought along side the Drunken Hero, what is probably least known is they often fight each other as well. His god deemed his request worthy and indeed I grew in size and strength. But before I could make my way to the braggart, he was already in two pieces having been hacked to death by the dwarf and the gambler.
Upon reaching his corpse, I visually looked for the token but could not find anything. The gambler was sure that the gem in the pommel of his sword was the token so I grabbed it up and began moving back to the street entrance. I could not understand why Gorum would use a gem as a token as the Lord of Iron cared not for material wealth, especially gaudy weapons that would break in real combat such as the scimitar I know held.
Upon returning to the Golden Goblin I had decided that in fact the sword and its gem were not what I looked for and tossed it back to the gambler who was salivating at the prospect of selling the sword for gold. The rest of the items on the braggarts corpse had been gathered by either the gambler or dwarf but none of these items seemed to be of any import and not what I was seeking.
The rest of the night was spent brooding over what was required by my lord and god.
The next day is when it was discovered that the tides had washed a great amount of water into the city, adding to its already horrible smell. I also learned that a new girl was to be hired as help and was a cypher mage acolyte that had not gained acceptance within the college. I waited then for her to arrive since she may be knowledgeable in a great many things, and the possibility of her understanding my dream couldn't hurt.
Sadly none of the dream made any sense to her and so I spent the evening watching for cheats and thieves while fuming over what I did not understand.
A few hours into the night a scream from the kitchen drew my attention, one of the cooks ran out screaming about a snake and fainted. By the time I had arrived it was hiding among the tables and cookware. One of the other cooks was on the ground having been bit. While I attended to the wounds the pale female used magic to launch bolts of arcane energy into the beast. The furniture providing no cover from the attack.
I learned later that the creature was a cinder snake known to inhabit areas not far from Riddleport, It was also discovered that Clegg Zincher was the one to blame as he and the owner had a "complicated past." For our help, the dwarf that helped the owner offered up some of his old adventuring gear, thinking that it may help us as we continue our work.
The next day was like every other since I agreed to become a partner with Saul and the others. I awoke, did my prayers and did what I could to pass the morning until beginning work in the evening. The days were dull, the thirst of battle was not being sated and I began to wonder if I should leave Saul's employment and make out on my own. Admittedly, since we had agree to help, the money coming in had been good, but my love of a good fight was not being met.
Saul admitted that Master Feldon the dwarf had not returned but he wasn't worried since Feldon was one to drink at times and was probably having a day to himself. Saul will not tell us what Feldon was doing for him but my fear that Clegg may have done something to him warranted a visit by me to the pits that evening to make sure Clegg was not using him in the arena. The strange human that spends most of his time drinking or in bed with woman when not insulting people went with me. He of course just wanted to go for drink, as he had become bored with what was available at the Golden Goblin. Clegg knew we were there and had his men specifically watching us but I did not discover Feldon and the pit fights were a dull affair and not worth my time, so I eventually left.
The next day I awoke, with the feeling that it was to be a good day. After my morning prayers that feeling intensified. Perhaps Gorum's eyes were on me and today would present itself with battle.
That morning there was still no sign of Feldon and now Saul was worried. He claimed that he had taken out a large loan from Smeed to get the Golden Goblin off the ground and had sent Feldon to Smeed to pay a large amount of that loan back since the Golden Goblin was doing so well. Saul had given Feldon 2,000 gold to pay back and he was sure that Feldon had not stolen the money as he was a loyal friend. It was then that I realized that Smeed's tenement was located on Raven Street and immediately I thought again of my dream.
We traveled back to where we had caused the death of some local cutpurses and could tell that word on the street was beginning to spread that we were not a group to be trifled with. Smeed's shop was a closed building proclaiming that only by appointment could you meet with him. I banged on his door and got his attention, the sting of curses that followed my knock would make even a sailor sour. He adamantly refused to talk with us saying he knew nothing and would not let us enter. I continued knocking until the door opening again and was surprised to see the gambler of our group standing there. Apparently the back door to the building was open and he let himself in, then came to let us in.
The shock on Smeeds face when he came back downstairs to find us inside was quickly masked when he yelled for Otsk to attack. A human sized beast with a red face and covered in fur bounded down the stairs and into our party. The creature was incredibly strong, and began crushing the gambler after having bit him. After a quick prayer of guidance from Gorum I moved in and with my great sword and the dwarf we made short work of the beast. As I kicked off the carcass of the animal I glared at Smeed, saying that we were only here to talk, but if he attempted anything that warranted my sword again, Riddleport was going to be looking for a new moneylender. The barbarian in our group was not amused at having been shot with a crossbow by Smeed during the fight and took major convincing to keep him from tearing Smeed to pieces.
Our interrogation led only to the conclusion that Feldon had not arrived with the payment, and Smeed had no idea he was even coming to pay any of the loan. It was then that I noticed that Smeed wore a medallion on his neck of a gauntleted hand grasping a sword. Snatching it from his neck, I asked where he received it. Smeed saying that it was some trinket he bought a while ago. Knowing this was in fact the token I was looking for I took my coin purse and shoved it into Smeed's hand. I told him, "It's yours no longer." The amount of gold given was in the area of 80 gold, I hoped that also bought some favor for having broken in and killed his pet. We did not need Smeed getting the Gendarme involved and having us arrested.
(PLAYER COMMENT: The medallion was a boon from the GM for the backstory, and journal. While worn, it counts as a Holy symbol, and grants a +1 to hit. It also will allow a reroll of a failed save at a +4 bonus, but if used the bonus to Hit is lost for the rest of the day until I do my morning prayers. Pretty damn swanky!)
We continued our search outside, and found Feldon's blood covered cloak stuffed in a small crate outside Smeed's house. Smeed was not to happy when we reentered his house to question the cloak after he had locked all his doors. The gambler was quite adept at opening doors it would seem. Again Smeed proclaimed his innocence and had no idea why that was there.
Unable to track the movements around the area we found the cloak, some of the locals were questioned by the others but nothing was learned. So we returned to the Golden Goblin with the bad news. As expected Saul was upset but said that he needed us to run an errand while he pondered what might have happened to Feldon. A shipment of rare and exotic alcohol had finally arrived in the port and he needed us to retrieve it. The alcohol was intended for the grand opening but was late.
The acid tongued human was quick to bolt to the door when he learned of this and seemed as a child would be if heading to a circus. The speed of the party not fast enough for his desire to reach the destination he so desired to be at. When we arrived there was a large group of well equipped street thugs on the docks. A man I knew to be a local mercenary that worked for Clegg was handing a bag of coins (assumed) to the captain.
With a snide smile, the mercenary said we were to late. The response from the dwarf was all that was needed as he charged up the gang plank and attacked the nearest thug in an attempt to reach the mercenary. The cleric of the drunken god caused the dwarf to grow in size while the gambler jumped from the docks to the ship. As I also asked for Gorums blessing my increased size coupled with the dwarf would surely break the gangplank so I waited until I could move onto the ship. The fight was intense and one member of the mercenary's crew used a large, and loud, ranged weapon to injure the barbarian. As I was engaged with multiple foes as was the cleric of the drunken hero, all I could do was ask for Gorums blessing to heal the warriors in battle, the effect to keep the dwarf standing also allowed for the street thugs to also receive Gorums healing. The fight itself was long and ended with all but one of the street thugs dead, the mercenary dead at the hands of the dwarf and the individual with the ranged weapon, swimming away after having been knocked off the ship.
The ships captain only sustained a broken finger, as the dwarf broke it as punishment for selling goods that rightfully belonged to us. I was rewarded with the mercenaries magical shield and cloak. I gave the cleric of the drunken hero my old shield as I no longer needed it and it appeared that he did as he had been cut multiple times during the fight.
(PLAYER COMMENT: I received the +1 Large Steel Shield and Cloak of Resistance +1. This was the best day ever! Three magic items in one day!)
We returned to the Golden Goblin with the alcohol and after cleaning ourselves up and healing the wounds sustained relaxed with very fine drink. I retired that evening with a smile on my face.
The next day was almost like any other as I spent the day following in my duties to watch for cheats and keep a general wary eye on the customers. Just as we were closing up I heard the sound of several individuals entered the back area of the kitchen and the front door was simultaneously kicked in with a large group of thugs entering.
Immediate prayers to Gorum once again increased my size and I met the individuals in the back of the Golden Goblin. One of them having run past to head upstairs. While I dispatched the group in the rear, the dwarf and the acid tongue human and his new pet fox fought those at the front door. A shouted warning by me brought the pale magic wielding woman and the cleric to hunt down the one thug that had run upstairs. By the time I had finished my foes and returned to the front, the dwarf and the human were in dire trouble as another group had followed. Both of them were gravely injured but it was then that I saw that our gambler had been shot full of arrows and had fallen. Not allowing him to die from the cowards arrow I ran to his aid proclaiming that Gorum had no intentions of letting him die this day and I channeled his power into life giving energy. Knowing the gambler to be stable but critical I set to killing the bowman. The cleric of the drunken hero had arrived to lend his healing aid to the dwarf shortly after I had engaged the bowman and we quickly dispatched the remaining thugs.
Breathing heavily, standing over the dead bodies of my enemies I roared my defiance at those who could hear my rage.
(PLAYER COMMENT: Was sent a quick file from GM)
As the final combatant fell, the air still permutated with violent tension, each warrior drew long labored and huffing breathes. It is in these moments, that you remember why you serve the Lord of Battles. It is not enough to simply fight, it is only by fending off death can one grasp what it truly means to be alive. Life is conflict, and it is through conflict that we define our lives.
As these thoughts trickle past you, you begin to assess the battles resolution. You foes have all seemingly been vanquished, and your allies seem no worse for wear; more or less. As you move to assist the gambler, your medallion slips its chain can falls to the ground. As it hits the hard wooden floor, instead of the expected clamor, you receive a sickly splash. Your holy symbol now lay floating in a puddle of fresh blood. As you reach down to reclaim it, the medallion began to whirl and spin wildly. For several seconds you stare in bewilderment as it thrashes about in the gore. Finally, it comes to rest. The blade of Gorum's sword pointing southwest.
With the fighting over and done, tending to the wounds of my comrades was in order and it would seem the gambler has now joined the dwarf in being blooded in heavy combat. With Gorums blessing those wounded in battle were healed.
The rest of the evening comprised of dragging multiple bodies out into the back alley, with arcane spells used by the pale woman to clean the stains left at the front door. Looking at the now dead combatants for who they were, I recognized the half-orc that had kicked in the door. I remembered seeing his face while working for boss Croat not so long ago. The alchemist who died upstairs presumedly searching for Saul probably worked for someone, although I did not know who.
All of them were well armed and it would seem employed from multiple under bosses. Though I doubt any would own up to the fact they were their men as they had failed in their duty, assuming it had been to kill Saul. Either that or these men moonlighted on the side and this attack was run by Zincher.
The desire to learn who was truly behind the attacks was unimportant to me overall. The constant battle being waged against Saul was not only filling my pockets with gold, but sated my lust for combat.
The next day, the now recovered gambler, the acid tongued human and I left to sell some of the weapons and gear that the previous nights attackers wore. The rest we decided to hold onto since the Golden Goblin was showing signs of growth, and as the business increased more guards would be required and now we had gear to give them.
That night the Golden Goblin was packed. The word on the street of the attack and failure brought many of Riddleports denizens to see what the fuss was about. Most gambled, every one drank, and the till was very fat that evening.
Saul met with us to tell us that he had not found anything about master Feldon but he did find out about a meeting taking place in the Boneyard. It would seem that the assumption that multiple bosses were behind the attack was true and their lieutenants were meeting to discuss what to do next. Sauls information gathering skills are quite impressive, which only makes me believe that master Feldon is in fact dead, since Saul has discovered nothing about his disappearance.
The next day, the dwarf and I went to look at the Boneyard from a good vantage point and decided against Saul's recommendation of approaching the meeting from the north. The south provided more cover and shallower water to move through. Saul's information gathering skills were great, but his tactical acumen was poor.
That evening we gathered up and approached from the south, the dwarf leaving slightly earlier to approach from the east. He hoped to time his arrival with ours, the water in the south gave him pause and decided to keep his feet dry. I wonder why a dwarf would come to Riddleport if water was so terrifying. As it turns out, the dwarf arrived shortly ahead of us. His desire to "crack skulls" driving him faster than normal. Even though we explained that we should take the lieutenants alive if possible, I fear that the dwarf will kill everything that moves just to sate his thirst for blood. I also wonder if he would make a good disciple of Gorum, his thirst for blood may be greater than his thirst for battle. We will have to see. Asking for Gorums blessing, I covered my armor in tiny needle like spikes.
The sudden attack of the dwarf though did not meet the resistance that it should when his great sword slammed down. The sounds of breaking sticks replacing the sounds of pain and breaking bones. As the rest of us moved up the ground gave way and multiple rat men sprang up to meet us. I had heard tales of Whiskers (PLAYER COMMENT- Riddleport slang for were-rats) in Riddleport, but didn't really believe them. One of them threw something to the ground and a giant swarm of cockroaches began to move about, directed by the same desire to kill us as the Whiskers.
A shout of warning arrived at roughly the same time, and in the darkness I made out the slender shape of an elf, using his cowards bow began shooting the were-rats. The gambler shouted something about having to use silver to hurt them but I ignored that as I could easily see the dwarf cleaving chunks of their hide with his great sword. The pale woman moved forward and with arcane words released a wave of bright, undulating color. Two of the Whiskers dropped their weapons and grabbed at their eyes, hissing in surprise and anger. As a reward for her actions one of them attacked her.
The fight was quick, and sadly my blade skills were pitiful and I will have to show proper penance to Gorum for my failings. But I was able to heavily damage the swarm and one of the Whiskers but the lions share of damage was unleashed by the acid tongued human, his pet fox and the dwarf.
(PLAYER COMMENT: Again, nothing like waiting for 2-weeks to play then not rolling higher than a 6 on a d20 for 4 rounds of combat. Gah! I even rolled a 3 on my initiative. /sigh)
When the combat ended the elf approached closer to our group and gave an apology for not arriving in time to give a proper warning. The elf introduced himself, although I do not remember his name. The dwarf though, seemed like he was going to attack him, even though he knew the elf was assisting us in the fight. I detect a racial hatred there and one that may become a problem if not addressed early. I saw a similar attitude towards the elven cypher mage apprentice that worked for us for a week or so.
The gambler retrieved some papers off one of the Whiskers but the darkness made it difficult to read, the elf though suggested we return to his camp to talk in a dryer and safer area. Along the way he described himself as being from an order that sent him far to the north to assist against a great darkness that was approaching. He was tracking the movements of some individual who's name began with a Z. A pronunciation that led to no idea of how it was spelled. This individual had met with Saul, and it would seem that Saul had set us up to be captured or killed by those in the Boneyard.
The sudden rush of hatred that flooded my vision was mirrored in the dwarfs actions as we both stood and began a march back into Riddleport to confront Saul. Perhaps this dwarf would make for grand disciple indeed. The rest followed, not because we led, but because they wanted answers for themselves.
(PLAYER COMMENT: The dwarf barbarian could not play the evening of the game so he is unmentioned in this journal.)
We marched into town the questions racing about everyones mind. Did Saul sell us out? Is his hand being forced by a more powerful boss? Are we to mistrust this elf, Kwava?
As we approached the Golden Goblin we decided to split up. All but the cleric of the drunken hero was to approach from the back and his intent was to enter into the casino and tell Saul that it was an ambush. That plan was immediately scrapped as we noticed a roving patrol of guards protecting the rear entrance and the front. The acid tongued human sent his fox to find the cleric before he stumbled into a fight he would not be able to handle. It seems that he is able to communicate with the animal in some way. Those around him hearing only his part of the conversation, and always it seemed that the fox was trying to assert itself as the alpha of their group.
Eventually the fox found the cleric and guided him to the rest of us. We decided that walking in the front door would be the best course of action. The possibility that the guards were hired to watch the casino while we were gone a reason to assume that nothing was wrong. Wary of a confrontation we approached, my shield was out, but not a weapon. As we became known to the guards a shout and weapons being drawn told us that Saul did sell us out. In order to question the little gimp we would have to carve our way through the guards. A sudden explosion from the roof showed that one of the guards was the individual that was knocked off the boat when we went to retrieve our expensive alcohol from the docks. The acid tongued human and the pale woman seemed ready to work on him while the cleric, gambler and I made short work of the three men outside.
While others attempted to climb the building to get at the shooter, I asked for Gorums favor and increased my size. Using this new size, strength and weight I was able to take the newly replaced door off its hinges, snapping the lock bar on the other side. I was greeted with arrows from cowards and a glorious sight of men with weapons drawn.
The fight was intense but short. I was immediately set upon by one of the current bouncers pigs that he kept in the basement and several of the guards. Gorum enhanced my size and my strength (PLAYER COMMENT: Had Bulls Strength and Enlarge Person running, also decided to go Long Sword and Shield since the barbarian was not in attendance. I figured it would be better if I limited the damage I took.) and I made short work of my combatants. When I slew the first pig the bouncer lost it and charged me. His mistake. My increased size allowed me to cut his head from his shoulders before he even reached me. (PLAYER COMMENT: Gotta love a attack of opportunity because of my reach and getting a critical with a x2 weapon doing 2d6+6 base.)
I noticed that Saul ran from the fight after the gambler had savagely attacked him. His escape and the screams of help from the pale woman drew the gamblers attention away from the escaping Saul to a sorcerer that was getting the better of the woman.
As the rest of the group worked on the remaining guard I ran after Saul know that the location he was headed to had no exit, only the vault. The metal doors provided no safety as I broke them from their reinforced hinges with a shoulder slam at full run. (PLAYER COMMENT: Rolled an 18 on a d20 which modified to a 28 on a break check. I wasn't expecting to get in since it took two rolls on the front door.)
Instead of finding a cowering cripple, I found him dead. The wounds from the gambler were not what had killed him, but instead a small vial laying next to his outstretched hand and the foam around his lips confirmed that he killed himself with poison.
Roaring in anger at being denied answers I stormed out of the vault to look for clues in his room. The others after finishing the last of the guards ran in and joined in my displeasure. While the gambler looked through the items in the vault I found a ledger that showed Saul had been funneling funds to some one with the initials D. A. Continuing through all the marks made I could not find any mention of 2,000 gold being sent to Smeed on the day that Feldon went missing.
Fearing that we would be assaulted by gendarme at any moment I suggested that we gather our belongings, take what we wanted and depart town. It was at that moment that the gambler who also would appear to be very good with locks, opened a chest from within the vault and discovered the deed to the golden goblin. With this document we effectively became the new owners. I would imagine that after we filled the alley with more bodies, even the underbosses in the area would be wary of attempting open conflict. Either way, word would soon get around Riddleport and trouble would be soon to follow.
Looking about we found that in the basement, inside one of the cages that held the swine, we found Feldons ring. Hopefully Feldon died quickly before being fed to the pigs. A trapdoor was also found and the stench from the trapdoor had us setting many barrels of ale on it to keep it closed until we could fully investigate it.
The pale woman and I decided to take the ledger to the elf, Kwava, to see if any of the information in it would aid in his investigation. The fox loped along with us. When we showed Kwava the ledger and explained there was someone named D.A. he reacted with a slow sigh. The initials were known to him and they went to an elf who was hunted by his own race. He agreed to come back into town with us and stay at the Golden Goblin. A full explanation of the individual he seeked would be given there.
It was noted that in the early morning hours as we returned back to casino that the dark blot in the sky was gone. Unsure if this was good or bad did not matter, as all I wanted to do was sleep.
We're about to start the campaign as well and I'm planning on journaling it too - hopefully we can get more people to chime in on what they read and relate past experiences...
Our party will start off as:
Half-Elven Master Summoner (the Summoner's twin sister)
Elven Void Mage & Spellbinder (seemed to fit the theme of the campaign)
Human Bard (probably an Arcane Duelist)
We'll be using 20 point builds.
I look forward to reading your campaing as it advances and comparing it with our own... but please make sure to use the spoiler tags ;)
(PLAYER COMMENT-Some of the 'DMs interpretations' are in fact me forgetting what actually happened or was said between the game and me writing the journal. Usually I don't remember the finite detail without my notes so I 'wing-it' and hope for the best. In this case Kwava didn't return with us but left to go and talk with his group about the discovery of cash being funneled to the female elf. That being said the journal from now on will reflect that and hopefully I don't cause any more confusion that I already have.)
Upon reaching the Golden Goblin I parted ways with the fox and the pale woman and headed to my small room to sleep the early morning away. Even though Gorum would not care if I slept soundly or not, I thanked him anyway upon waking after a restful and uninterrupted sleep. Even my morning prayers were late, but again, I doubt that Gorum cares when he is worshipped.
We spent the late morning and early afternoon repairing the damage done to the Golden Goblin. The cleric of the drunken hero said the carpenter was surprised that we needed a new door so soon. I do not relish seeing my companions balk at the price of repairing the vault door I smashed open, even though I admit that is a memory that I will always cherish.
We made sure the staff that arrived for their jobs were informed that Saul was no longer the owner of the Golden Goblin, but their services were still required. Whether or not they noticed Saul's corpse piled in with the others, they agreed to stay on and work. We then decided to investigate the smugglers tunnels beneath the Golden Goblin to make sure that no uninvited guests could enter without breaking down the front door for the third time.
The smell that assaulted our noses spoke of foul creatures, their spore, and backwash from the bay. We proceeded down a long tunnel that wound its way down into the earth. The slope was not to steep, but walking was not easy. Eventually we came to a deep pool of water with the passage continuing on the far side. Some smugglers tunnel this was. The only way across was to swim or carefully tread along a narrow rock ledge no bigger than my toes.
The gambler it would seem is an excellent climber as he scurried across like some bilge rat scurrying along a rope. The cleric of the drunken hero on the other hand does not walk a straight line, in service or when sober. The armor he wore immediately pulled him down into the depths, but it was then that we noticed the creatures in the water that were causing his dive. The dwarf and I jumped in and even though combat underwater is an experience I hope to never experience again, we made short work of the ugly creatures.
Once again moving down the tunnel we came to an intersection sounds and smells of water came from the left passage while scurrying and hushed voices came from the right. Asking for Gorums blessing I became much stronger and quickly moved into the room. The bipedal lizard looking creatures had heard our approach and were ready for us. I engaged one of the creatures and began cutting large chunks of its hide off with my long sword. The rest of my companions engaged the others in the room and within a few moments had gained a major upper hand as several of them were dead or dying. Two of the creatures ran off while their companions fought. Enraged at their cowardice I pushed through the lines of the creatures taking blows that bounced from my armor and gave chase.
The creatures were much faster than I in my armor, but I would continue to chase as long as I could. They moved through some room with strange colors and the light within the room seemed to absorb the light of my companions as they followed. The orcish eyes had no trouble seeing in this darkness but the others were curious as to what would cause their lights to dim.
The creatures had moved off beyond my hearing so I began moving forward cautiously with the dwarf into the darkness ahead of the others. If we were lucky the cowards had informed their superiors and they were rushing to us for a glorious battle and their doom.
Instead we came into what looked to be a bedchamber of some kind. A small vial that caused a mist was sprayed on my by the dwarf. The smell was worse than that of the tunnels. The dwarf, seeing humor in my discomfort tried to console me by saying I smelled better. I wasn't amused. The gambler though rifled through all he could touch and found a great many wonders that he pocketed.
Again the dwarf and I made for the hall on the opposite side of the room and continued on. We came to a room where the two lizard creatures were barking at an elven woman with very dark skin. She had kicked over a table to hide behind and scattered lumps of rock about the room. The rocks looked to have been cut from stone that looked like the cypher gate. It was later found to in fact be the cypher gate, just this portion of the gate was underground.
She spoke in a tongue similar to the elves I have heard speak but in common, and said that she was glad we removed Saul for her, as he had outlived his use. Then with a crossbow that she held in one hand fired a bolt coated in poison at me. The bolt struck true and pierced my hide but the poison was not strong enough to affect me. The two lizard creatures and two misshapen lumps of flesh and bone charged. The demons, as I found out later, ran past me and into the others. Its was as if I was not even there.
Sadly I was unable to reach the elf and kill her for her cowardly use of a ranged weapon because the two lizard creatures attacked me. (PLAYER COMMENT: I rolled so damn low on initiative that everyone else had engaged the drow and I was penned in by the demons and trogs.) The fight although glorious was unfulfilling for me as I was unable to reach the elf and she escaped by climbing onto the cypher gate and running up the arch outside. The acid tongued human and his pet fox gave chase but were to slow.
When she reached to the top of the arch she leaped to the bay below. Magicks keeping her from smashing into the waters far below. She swam to a small boat and murdered its two fisherman and began sailing out the bay with only our anger following in her wake as we were unable to give chase.
It would appear that this woman was the elf that Kwava was looking for and so we gathered what we could and left to return to the Golden Goblin. That evening while working the ground began to shake and as people moved outside we saw a fiery comet fly overhead and out to the horizon where it apparently hit land. A large explosion that burned my eyes could be seen even though the distance was great. It was then that the water in the bay began to recede back to the ocean like low tide, only quicker. The dwarf realized that a sudden wave of water was building out to sea and was going to come crashing back to land soon. Shouting words of warning to all who would listen and could hear we retreated further into the city as a massive wave crashed into Riddleport.
Many lives were lost because they had been standing at the docks when the wave hit and could not outrun its speed. A small inward smile crept across my face when I thought about the elf in her tiny boat. I wonder if she capsized and drowned. It was then that I realized the explosion was in the southwest. The same direction my vision of Gorum directed me to go. Perhaps I would meet this elven woman again. Hopefully the next time she would not be able to escape my wrath.
Even allowing for mis-memory, it's interesting to see some things your DM is doing differently to me :) Nothing wrong with it, bound to happen, and makes for an interesting contrast. For instance, in my game, Saul managed to escape from the Goblin, and fled into the tunnels. My group found Saul talking with the drow woman when they investigated. Also, in my game, the drow did not escape - she was shot down by bowfire just as she leaped from the Cyphergate.
My group is also not far ahead of you, so will be interesting to see your take on the next handful of events.
And so the next few days after the giant wave of water slammed into Riddleport have been the best days I have had since I remember living here. Every day, giant sea creatures would wander onto shore and attack the local populace. Every day I was gifted with a foe to fight, and every night a meal made from their corpse. The creatures were tough but easy enough to handle, the poison or toxin from their attacks made them a worthy foe to destroy.
On the third night, Kwava showed up at the Golden Goblin. His appearance causing me to remember that we were to meet him the night before but having forgotten to because of the destruction and attacks.
We explained everything that had happened in the tunnels beneath the Golden Goblin and the probable escape of the dark skinned elven woman. It was then that we realized that we had forgotten to track down the elven woman that was now an apprentice cypher mage. We had discussed having her look at the items the dark elf was interested in but again, the attacks had kept our attention, or at least mine.
Kwava seemed to understand who the woman was and that his fears were now a reality. He explained of a race of elves that lived far below the ground with dark colored skin called Drow. He explained that his people had believed them to be small in number and in some ways relegated to myth. But know these Drow were getting ready to start a war with the surface elves and that Kwava needed our help.
My heart leapt at being asked to assist in the war. In Gorum's name I would smite all those that opposed my right to strength of arms. Elves and their cowardly ways of using bows would leave that much more for me to kill in the true test of combat. But it would seem that my lust for battle would have to wait as Kwava asked for us to learn what it was that the Drow was doing on Devil's Elbow, the site where the sky rock fell.
It was then that the gambler explained that the lure of the ore from the sky rock has made it the most valuable item in Riddleport. The wave though having destroyed many, if not all of the ships that could transport us there would make our journey impossible. Kwava explained that he in fact did have a captain with a ship and had expected our agreeing to help so had payed for our voyage already.
If I were a suspicious man, I would worry about Kwava, but the lure of combat with the drow woman and her subordinates was greater. It was decided that we would meet the captain that evening and he turned out to be a rather likable fellow. His combat skills unknown, but his warm and honest dialog made me like him from the start. We agreed to leave at first light on the tide and the journey should have us arriving by noon that day, the waters were choppy but sailable.
The next morning as we approached the dock we could see smoke, and as we got closer we could see that the ships rigging was on fire. The cleric of the drunken god and I rushed forward issuing large quantities of water to fall upon the fires and quench the flames. When we had the fires put out we learned that the ship was damaged and it would delay our departure by a day.
The acid tongued human and the gambler learned that the attacks had been carried out by individuals that were probably hired by Clegg Zincher. It was then that we learned that Zincher was already on the island plundering it of the sky rock ore and did not want any competition. Although there was no true evidence pointing Zincher to the arson, I believed that it was an action that was ordered by him none the less.
The next morning we left, after having spent the night on the docks keeping a close and personal eye on the ship. Several individuals passed by and I would bet they were going to make another attempt on the ship, but our appearance and the word on the streets of our lethal nature kept them from trying again. As we boarded the ship we met a small group of dwarves that were going to the island with orders and papers proclaiming their right to dig for the sky rock ore. Their leader seemed an alright fellow, much tamer in demeanor than our dwarf.
The voyage was quick and uneventful. The seas themselves were also much smoother, a blessing from the gods according to the captain. Along the way he explained of the curse put upon Devil's Elbow, and was unsure if the tales were true. When we arrived and docked we were met by a group of miners that were adamant about leaving the island. The ranted about some creatures that lurked in the tall grass that carried away grown men when they attacked. The man seemed completely at his wits end, rambling on about creatures that would rise back up from the dead.
It would seem that he also made quite an impression on the captain as he began helping the dwarves unload their gear quicker and made a quick assurance to transport the miners back to Riddleport. Before he sailed off, we told him to return in two days time and we would have taken care of our business and would be ready to go. The island was only 5 miles long in the shape of a crescent moon, and I could not imagine it taking that long to track her down and kill her once and for all.
Towards the middle of the island we could see a large tower of some kind that rose above the trees. A sudden burst of light from the top made it our first priority to journey to. It was also because the miners that had just left told us the cypher mages were there and we hoped the elven apprentice would be there as well. When we arrived the camp seemed to be made of old structures, probably those of the original inhabitants before the so called 'curse.' The gambler noticed that large birds were circling the area and that usually indicated that bodies may be in the area.
We fanned out peering into some of the structures and slowly made our way to the center of the buildings. To ensure that whatever this creature was that could drag a man off would have a tough time with me, I asked for Gorum's blessing and my armor became covered in spikes and needles. Upon reaching the center of the town a wave of individuals that appeared to be undead of some sort wearing the robes of cypher mages attacked. Their tongues were long and thick and they also appeared to have suckers of some kind on them.
With Gorum's might and fervent belief we destroyed the creatures in short order. (PLAYER COMMENT: I attempted to channel positive energy into the undead 3 times and with 2d6 channel I rolled a 2, a 3 and then 4 I believe. There are days that I really, really, really hate dice.) The gambler seemed to have a rough time in the fight as two tongues had found purchase on his flesh. No sooner had he pried one off, than he was hit with another. He skin took on a pale tone, similar to the woman of our group, but said it was caused by blood loss as the tongues acted like a leech.
I decided to keep a wary eye on the gambler as the tongue may be how the mages had been afflicted. It was then that a tower window opened and the elven apprentices face peered out from within. Once she discovered that it was us, she quickly ushered us inside the hastily boarded up tower. Perhaps now we will learn what has befallen this place, and I could finally learn why Gorum directed me here.
Upon entering into the tower, we discovered four more cypher mages. Two of them were heavily wounded while the other two other than looking disheveled were fine. Samaritha seemed to be slightly above full on panic once we were able to question her as to what was going on. It would seem that the creatures here would bite someone and shortly after they would die and rise as the creatures we had just fought on the outside of the tower.
It was then that one of the cypher mages yelled down from above that “they’re coming back” and at that statement, Samaritha went pale and curled up in a fetal position. Shortly after the warning I could hear the sounds of what appeared to be several horses running up the hill to the tower. Looking between the hastily boarded up windows I could see several oily skinned blue creatures that ran on four legs and had two tentacles sprouting from their backs. Each creature was the size of a small horse and I lost count at how many I saw, but I estimated at least twenty of them approached.
The eerie thing of the assault was there was no noise from the creatures other than their claws on the ground as they ran forward. Soon after they hit the tower with enough force that the tower shook, and appeared to move off its foundation. The creatures then began scaling the walls as easily as I walked the ground. Stabbing between the slats of wood I was able to hurt one of the creatures. The only evidence to the strike was the blood on my blade as the creature did not react to being stabbed with a howl of pain as I expected.
Our group spread out on multiple floors with the pale woman, the acid tongued human and his fox and I keeping an eye on the ground floor. I watched over the main doorway but the creatures managed to pull their way in from the windows. Their bodies allowing them to squeeze through even though it should not have been possible. Two made their way in from windows on the ground floor and two on the floor above. The dwarf and cleric of the drunken hero dealt with those while we fought below. The pale woman was bit from the creatures and several us were stabbed from the tentacles that sprung from their backs.
As we dispatched the creatures we could feel the tower shift now that it no longer was on a foundation. Several seconds later it fell on its side with all of us inside and several of the creatures still on the outside. No sooner had it fallen then it began to roll down the cliff side towards the water below. Unsure of how it happened I was able to maintain my balance throughout the entire collapse and was able to hurl the pale woman from the tower as she was no longer in a state to do so on her own. The fox leapt from the tower at the same time and the acid tongued human managed to get Samaritha out as well.
Before the tower reached the sea I was able to leap out but was caught up with all the rocks and dirt and ended up riding this down to the beach were I was dumped unceremoniously onto my face. I slowly made my way to the others about the time the gambler and pale woman made it down the hill to the rest of us. It would seem they missed the most of the fall and were unharmed. The pale woman though did look to be bad off but from the bite of the creatures rather than the collapse of the tower. Samaritha said that she didn’t have much time left before she might change into the creatures we encountered in the ruined town above. It was decided that we should make our way to Zinchers camp as quickly as we could, hoping that he had the capabilities to heal her wounds. I was loathe to do this, as I do not trust Zincher, but if there was the possibility of finding a cure for this, I would take it.
After we made the climb back up the hill to head to Zinchers camp I suddenly felt hot and disoriented when we approached near to where the tower once stood. Before anyone was able to help I collapsed and fell into catacombs that were hidden by the tower. The distance I fell was great but I managed to hit several ledges before rolling off onto another ledge before making it all the way to the ground level.
As I picked myself up and looked around I noticed an ancient skeleton sitting on a throne in the far corner of the room. As I noticed several more on small blocks of stone to the right and left the of the throne I could hear the creature in my mind as it proclaimed that it needed more time to complete repairing the blade and it would not give it up. It was then that I realized that I had found the warrior that carried the legendary Fang of Kathalphas. This was where my vision had pointed me to after the fight in the Golden Goblin. Reading my weapons I proclaimed that Gorum’s had grown tired of waiting on empty promises and that I would now take over where he had failed.
Red runes flared to life around the creature and I as it moved down from the throne. For several seconds we fought as I could hear the sound of battle far off in the distance. (PLAYER COMMENT: Gods how I hate dice at times. I had cast Weapon of Awe on my long sword and hit him initially. I then spent the next 5 rounds of combat not being able to roll higher than a 3 on a d20. Meanwhile the skeleton and I had both cast Enlarge Person on ourselves and it was Raging and kicking my butt.) Its skill with a blade proved to be somewhat better than my skill with a blade and it began to slowly beat me down. Roaring in anger I dropped all pretense of defense and dropped both the long sword and the shield and drew my two-handed sword. I was rewarded with this bold tactic by destroying the creature with a single blow. (PLAYER COMMENT: Of course I had to roll a 1 on backing up the Threat.)
When the creature collapsed into dust the runes winked out and I could see that my companions were down on the floor level near me but most were heavily wounded. The skeletons that had been on the blocks of stone were no more. I gathered up the remains of the Fang of Kathalphas. The blade was no longer the two-handed sword as it had once been but was now no longer than a short sword. Gorum has allowed me to finish the task he set before this warrior who had failed and I had no intention of disappointing him. Retrieving the armor as well the group found several other items of magic that were quickly passed out among the group and we began our trek to Zinchers camp.
Exhausted and a bit grimy we arrived at Zinchers camp just after dark. His men alert for attack from either the blue beasts or the walking dead escorted us into camp quickly. Zincher’s second in command, Akron, a brute of a man carrying a large hammer took us to Zincher’s large tent at the center of the camp.
Zincher looked like I had remembered him, just more harried. Dark circles under his eyes spoke of little sleep. Perhaps this island has been getting the better of him. Ignoring his obvious exhaustion, Zincher put on an air of superiority. I was not comfortable asking for his assistance, but as it turned out he did have the capability of removing the disease that was ravaging the pale woman.
As payment for his elixir we had to agree to assist him with some errands. One of those was defending the camp during the night as attacks from the walking dead were common place and his men needed a rest. Of the other two errands, only one was going to prove to be difficult. In addition to gathering 30 pounds of the star rock he wanted us to capture one of the blue beasts and return it to him alive.
The evening was rather quiet and our assistance in defending the camp was not needed as only a couple of the walking dead approached the camp and Akron and his men removed the threat quickly. The next morning we set out for the crater to see if we could gather some of the rock and if we were lucky find and capture one of the beasts. When we arrived at the crater we could see that there were several large stones of blue crystal scattered around the crater. When we got nearer to the stones we could see that inside the crystal was a blue beast, very much like an insect before it gains its wings.
Thinking that capturing the beast was now going to be a moot point I attempted to pick up one of the stones, hoping to roll the stone onto its side and then roll it back to Zinchers camp. As soon as I touched the stone though, the crystal began to crack and the beast stirred inside. With a quick prayer to Gorum for strength I readied myself for battle. The creature once it burst forth moved to a larger cluster of crystals and arched its back. Soon after the crystals began opening and more of the beasts poured out.
For the next several minutes we fought a fierce hand to hand combat with the beasts as more of them arrived and departed to free others scattered in the area. Several of us were bitten and I could feel the disease that had plagued the pale woman course through my veins. (PLAYER COMMENT: In order to make the save I only had to roll higher than a 3 on a d20. So of course on the second bite I rolled a 2. Meanwhile the dwarf barbarian whose Fort save was lower than mine could not roll lower than a 10 on any of his rolls. Lucky bastard. :) ) Now being aware of the disease, I was able to remove it from my body with a prayer to Gorum, his rage burning the taint from my blood. The cleric of the drunken hero also heeded his gods will and removed the disease from some of the others in the group.
When it was over we had subdued one of the creatures as the acid tongued human had pummeled it into submission. Once we had the creature tied up with several ropes I asked for Gorum’s blessing in healing our group and the creature. We spent the next half hour looking through the crystal eggs and discovering several pounds of the star rock ore. We found more than enough to give our agreed upon weight of ore, and to ensure that Zincher did not try and take the rest we buried the remaining ore near the docks for later retrieval.
Once that was complete we dragged the beast back to Zinchers camp and set about altering his cage to make sure the creature could not escape. We also made sure that Zincher and Akron knew that these creatures could shift their size and shape to allow for entry or escape, through holes that were smaller than their bodies.
We spent the rest of the day resting and talking with Akron. I could sense there was something Akron would not speak about and that he was not telling me the whole truth, but I could tell he meant no ill will toward us. Nothing I did or said would get Akron to talk. I eventually gave up trying to learn this secret as it was pointless to continue trying. Later that night though as I was resting Akron woke me with a gentle kick and nodded in the direction of Zincher. Being able to see in the dark, I could tell that Zincher was walking out of the camp, almost like a petulant child that did not wish to walk any longer.
I woke the dwarf and began waking the others. The dwarf followed Zincher out from the camp while I readied my armor and woke the others. When we finally caught up with Zincher he was returning to camp from where ever he went. Following in his wake was the dwarf who with wide eyes obviously had something to say. Zincher admonished us for following him and even threatened us but through all that bravado I could tell he was happy to see us. Unsure what was causing this, I asked for Gorum’s sight and could see that some sort of magic was being used on Zincher that explained his behavior.
Once the dwarf was out of earshot of Zincher he explained seeing Zincher speak with a group of drow and a woman he did not recognize cast some sort of spell on him. With this new information, we pulled Akron aside and explained to him what we saw. It was then that he explained who he was and the secret that I sensed was there but just under the surface. Akron was some sort of constable from Korvosa and he was here to arrest Zincher for certain crimes. A shocking statement, but one that had no bearing on what we were going to do. Once Akron realized we did not care what happened to Zincher became more relaxed around us than before. He explained the Zincher had been acting “off” ever since they arrived at the island. Unsure what the drow wanted with Zincher, our only guess was to have him gather the ore for their own purposes. According to the dwarf, the ore could be used to armor that weighed less than its iron counterparts. Something a frail elf would enjoy indeed.
Knowing there was a sizable presence on drow on the island and the fact that we were going to depart the next day, assuming the captain returned as promised, we had to go out and look for them during the late evening. We hiked over to where the dwarf saw the drow and Zincher talking and then followed the drow tracks farther off. The cleric of the drunken hero noticed a small fissure in the rock face a little down the trail that appeared to be where the drow had gone. The fissure was difficult to notice and the fact that the human was able to see this in the dark was impressive to say the least.
The gambler offered to look in first convinced that a trap could be set but did not find one. No sooner had I entered the tunnel leading our party inside than some magical wave of force hit the first of us entering into the tunnel. It would seem that there was in fact a trap of some sort and the gambler was mistaken. The trap also served as an alarm as booted feet began to approach from the narrow tunnel deeper into the fissure. The dwarf engaged the four drow that arrived to see what had set off the trap. A quick melee ensued with the gambler and acid tongued human dodging and weaving through the drow warriors as the dwarf fought them one at a time. The fight lasted only a minute before all the drow were dead. Moving farther into the cave we discovered that it entered a small cove with a small dock for moving to larger platforms of rock farther out in the water.
There was a group of ten drow armed with either sword and shield or cowardly bows. There was a wild eyed drow that had some sort of lizard that followed him. The female drow that the dwarf saw with Zincher was there as well as Depora, the female drow that had escaped our wrath in the tunnels beneath the Golden Goblin. By then my prayers to Gorum had been answered and with increased size and strength, as well as the ability to move more fluidly in my armor. A grand melee began with the dwarf working one side of the dock with myself and the gambler working the other side. My reach and size painted me a target for the wild eyed drow who used his lizard to channel his spells through. The fight getting through the warriors and the lizard were easy affairs, but the wild eyed drow used magic to attack me with a flaming sword that moved in the air, attacking me from a distance. (PLAYER COMMENT: Nothing like getting hit with a crit on a 4d6 weapon for a total of 32 damage with 34 health remaining before the crit.)
The cleric of the drunken hero quickly moved forward and healed the wound dealt to me so that I could continue my wrath against the spell caster. It was during this fight that I discovered the power of the Fang of Kathalphas. Having discarded my long sword and great sword for the Fang, I learned that great magic was still within the weapon when I struck a telling blow against my enemy and a great sword wielding skeleton appeared. The skeleton wore heavy armor with markings of Gorum on it, and the warrior wielded a great sword in its hands. Right after it appeared I could sense through the Fang that it was awaiting my orders and so I had it begin attacking the cowardly archers. The warrior only lasted for half a minute before it crumbled to dust, armor and weapon included, but for a small while two of the skeletal warriors harried the bowman that had been shooting at the pale woman and cleric of the drunken god. (PLAYER COMMENT: This weapon is of the GMs make, and sort of a side plot item for my character. Right now its a short sword that can benefit from two-hand weapon feats. I’m given the idea that as the campaign progresses I will continue to find pieces of the sword that I will use to repair the weapon with over time. So right now its a +2 Keen short sword. On a successful crit it will summon in a skeleton [called a Spartolos Champion] that I can direct with simple one word commands, kill, flank, etc. The skeletons will only remain for 4 rounds before they fall apart. Their HPs and Base attack are based on my own to a certain degree and they use a great sword as their weapon. Very cool, and very Gorum-esque!)
By the time I had made it to the far side of the docks Depora was under assault by the gambler. Their fight was a feeble affair with small weapons and minor cuts. I managed to hit the cowardly Depora once for her insolence of having shot me with her poisoned crossbow in the tunnels. Unfortunately it was to be my only attack on her as she moved far out of my reach. It didn’t matter as the gambler and the acid tongued human’s fox had finished her off. The other drow woman who I only hit once as well fell soon after from the dwarf who was swimming in the pool and fighting her at the same time. As I helped the dwarf onto the docks at the conclusion of the fight I could see the remains of some large, black and white colored sea creature that the dwarf had fought off as well. It would seem that this dwarf was as adept in the water as he was on land which I find odd, since all the dwarves I have heard of hated the sea.
Breathing hard from the exertion of the fight and its length we sat down to rest before learning what we could from the bodies of the now dead drow.
As the gambler and pale woman moved through the now cooling bodies of the drow looking for magical items and anything of import the dwarf pulled himself from the water after having removed a fist sized tooth from the whale he fought. Shaking my head at his obvious love of the trophy I moved to help those that were injured during the fight by asking for Gorum’s blessing after the hard, but glorious fight.
We discovered a few books, one of which was a journal of the drow woman Depora that we had chased after. Scanning its pages quickly I could tell that Kwava would want this book as well as a map we found marking locations of drow encampments. The wry smile that crept across my lips at finding such a map meant that my chances of getting in this war were increasing. Gorum indeed blessed me on this day.
We also retrieved several items that the captain of the ship that was set to arrive on the next day may want. His obvious fear of the island may cause his delay or just his absence. If he does follow through with the agreement then the items would be a bonus, if you will. Chain, canvas, block and tackle, and many other items those of the sailing profession would find useful. The dwarf, eerily knowledgeable of such things pointed out what would be best to take. His . . . transformation since finding the sword in the tunnels beneath the Golden Goblin has been . . . interesting to follow. In all, it has only added more complexity to an already complex individual. Nothing seems to be missing, just a desire to be on the sea.
We returned to Zincher’s camp to see if he had become more coherent since the death of the female drow and also to rest the remaining part of the night. When we arrived we discovered Akron had made his plans known of his arresting of Zincher and all the men that were under Zinchers command were now working along with Akron. Honor among thieves and all that.
We questioned Zincher as to his involvement. It turned out that the drow had ensorcelled him soon after arriving. He had been giving her all the star metal and it was for her why we had captured the blue beast. What she wanted with it I do not know, a shock weapon to use on the battlefield against the elves was the only reason that made any sense. Zincher, like a true Riddleport underboss offered us vast amounts of money if we were to free him. Personally, I was rather happy that he was in chains. It felt to me that he was going to receive proper punishment for all that he had done against us and the traitor Saul.
Akron gave us all of his equipment and allowed us to take anything we wanted. In response we killed the caged beast and searched for the star ore that we had retrieved but realized that it had already been given to the drow earlier in the evening and was already in our possession since we discovered a large amount of the star ore in the cave.
The next day at noon, familiar sails were spotted on the horizon moving towards the island. After getting close to the shore and once the captain realized it was in fact us on the dock and not under attack from some imagined demon he brought the ship up to the dock. It would seem that he was also very nervous and wanting to leave as quickly as he could. The items that we brought for him were half-heartedly taken, the delay in loading the items generating more emotion that being given something that he could use. Sadly, I shook my head at his fear. Even explaining to him that the last few days were the best days of my life. The island and its weather were pleasant enough. Several creatures that were in the star rock were released and there was plenty enough to kill. Several dark skinned elves that wanted us dead were killed by our hand. If anything, I explained, this could be considered a vacation of sorts. The captain took this all in and stared back in horror. I honestly could not understand his fear.
We arrived back in Riddleport in the early evening, the seas being very calm during our trip. When we arrived the docks were full of people waiting to hear of what was on the island as none had returned yet. There was even a group of dwarves from the gas forges there wanting to talk with us about any star ore we may have recovered, of which we made an appointment with for the next day. Fostering some good will with their group, I gave them a large chunk of the ore to experiment with. Samirtha had traveled with us back to Riddleport and thanked us for our assistance. She even begrudgingly gave a quick hug to the dwarf who restrained himself from pushing her away, and with that she moved off back to the college.
(PLAYER COMMENT-At this point we had been playing for a rather long amount of time and had accumulated a vast amount of gear that we either could not, or did not want to use. So a somewhat large amount of time was spent organizing all the gear we wanted to sell or use in trade.)
The meeting with the dwarves went well. It was learned that the ore was similar to mithral, a lightweight and stronger than iron metal, but was also resistant to magic. They offered to smelt the ore we had into workable armor of which almost everyone did. As payment for such armor we offered in trade a great many magical weapons that we had accumulated since our first days at the Golden Goblin. I had a breastplate made that allowed for easier movement to replace my iron armor of the same style. (PLAYER COMMENT- I had the dwarves fashion a Noqual Agile Breastplate.) The rest of the ore we sold to them at a fairly good price.
Samirtha and the cypher mages offered their assistance as a thank you for what we did to return their mages back to Riddleport. Unfortunately we only rescued Samirtha, but they thought enough of her to enchant one item for each of us as thanks. I decided that I would have my new armor enchanted as did several others and because of the difficulty we offered some items we had collected that they could sell or keep in trade.
During this time Kwava returned and asked for us to meet him at his camp outside the city to explain all we had found. After explaining what we had found and done, we gave him the journal we had discovered and he read through its pages carefully. With a slow sigh he claimed that his fears were true. The star rock was brought down through magics employed by the drow. Bows in combat were bad enough, to be able to drop rocks from the stars was a cowards weapon of vast size. Kwava explained that he wanted us to take the journal and maps to Eviana, an elf of some import living in Crying Leaf, a small forest at the edge of Celwynvian. The area was roughly 6 days journey on foot north, north-east of Riddleport.
Because we no longer expected to be in Riddleport for a long while, we sold the Golden Goblin to individuals interested in running the casino and were willing to pay us 20,000 gold. We were given 5,000 gold initially and the rest would come in payments over time. The gambler was wary of the deal since we had no way to collect the remaining gold unless we physically came to Riddleport, but in the end I did not care if the remaining gold did not arrive. The Golden Goblin was no longer of any interest to me when I knew of a war that I would soon be involved with.
We arrived the evening of the first day at a roadside inn for travelers that followed the trade path we currently walked. While resting with warm food and good ale we learned of trouble at a small farming town north of the inn along the trade road. It would seem that something was killing the livestock of the farmers and there were even rumors of people being taken as well. It would appear my fortunes have increased on the road and Gorum is putting me in the path of greatness.
The next day in the early evening we came upon the small farming town. At a distance it looked peaceful and dull enough but because I expected some sort of attack a quick prayer to Gorum was answered and my new armor was covered in spikes. As we got closer we could see people moving about the town, but before I could hail them to assure them we meant no harm a cry of alarm went out. The alarm was not because of our arrival but because three large winged creatures with barbed tails swooped low into the town roaring at the farmers as they ran for their homes. The dwarf quickly moved forward making noise to draw the creatures attention away from the farmers. The tactic worked as all but one flew by the dwarf racking him with their claws and leaving a bloodied and shocked dwarf in their wake. Seeing the size of the creatures now I asked for Gorum’s blessing again and was rewarded with increased strength.
I too then began bellowing, trying to draw their attention to me instead of the others but none payed heed to my challenge. That or the creatures were generally afraid of my wrath. As much as I would like to believe that is true, I think they were more interested in an easy meal and the dwarf and gambler were providing it as they were both bloodied and stunned by the ferocity of the attacks from the small dragon looking creatures. I moved in and gave a telling blow to one of the creatures that was attacking the dwarf and soon after the dwarf finished it off by chopping its head off. By then the others had managed to down another of the creatures before the combined might of the group dropped the third and final creature. The cleric of the drunken hero was doing what he could during the fight to keep both the gambler and the dwarf standing but it was difficult work. The blood coating those two was as much theirs as the monsters they attacked.
As payment for their services I offered a quick blessing from Gorum for such a grand display of combat and healed those nearby. The few farmers that were hurt had bleed out during the fight and only a prayer from the cleric of the drunken hero was given. The remaining farmers once they realized the beasts were dead came out of their homes and cheered our success and thanked us for their salvation. As payment they slaughtered one of their cows and we ate well that evening on meat, bread and pies. (PLAYER COMMENT- We also leveled after this fight taking us to 6th level. At this point I diverted from Cleric to Urban Barbarian as it fit with my character concept as a city-raised half-orc. I realized that I probably should have alternated between Cleric and Barbarian from the beginning, as that may have been the better way to show a more combat oriented cleric of Gorum. Either way, I enjoy playing Clerics and being able to back-up heal has been important for our group. Now I just get to better myself in martial skills. Speaking of skills I now get 3 Skill ranks per level instead of 1 Skill rank, so its like Christmas!)
The next few days the hike was uneventful as the countryside was quiet. Only the constant Varisian wind showed any movement among the plants. Then on the horizon we could see a cloud of dust that seemed to be getting closer. I was able to pick out a group of horseman leading horses and immediately warned the dwarf to be silent for if they were in fact elves I did not need his hatred of their kind to ruin our ability to follow through with Kwava’s request. As they neared I could tell they were not elves and admittedly I breathed a sigh of relief. The riders were human and I wondered if they were Shoanti barbarians, in which case a fight was about to happen. Before I was able to warn the others for possible conflict I noticed that the riders had hair. All the Shoanti I had heard of, true barbarians of the plains and surrounding areas were clean shaved. Only those Shoanti in the cities that cast off their native ways grew their hair out.
When they finally noticed our group they slowed and one of them, their leader as it turned out, held up a hand in greeting and a universal sign of peace as his hand contained no weapon. One of the books we had discovered in the cave with the drow described many of the Varisian customs of the people. A sort of guide to interactions with the people of the area. The riders were in fact Velashan, a group of people that have found common ground with each other, with most of its people hailing from northern Varisia and the lands of the Linnorm Kings. The leader claimed to be heading to Riddleport to sell the horses that were not being ridden, but because of our greeting and willingness to attempt a formal travelers discourse he offered to sell us his horses at a reduced rate.
I had never ridden a horse before, more disposed to eating one rather than riding to be truly honest. The beasts were of a fine stock and magnificent and they stood heads taller than many horses I have seen. Being tired of walking, and listening to the constant stream of profanity and complaining from the dwarf about his aching feet, I asked the leader to show me which of his stock would be the horse that he would pick for himself if he were in my shoes. He smiled and directed me to a heavy horse that he claimed to be the finest he had ever reared. Its name was Stonebreak, and as long as I promised on my honor to never sell this horse to anyone I could have it for a great item of worth. I had a suit of mithral chain that was not sold during our previous trades and offered that as payment to which he was most satisfied.
Once I had purchased one of his horses the others began in earnest to find items of wealth that we no longer needed and began trading for heavy horses like the one I had and smaller, lighter versions for the gambler, acid tongued human and the pale woman. I thanked the riders and their leader and probably made a fool of myself trying to get into the saddle, but the riders made no comment or smiled at my failures.
Once seated, the gambler gave some quick instructions of how to ride and we moved off in the direction of the forest and what I hoped to be a friendly encounter. At least the dwarf was no longer complaining about his feet.
I am the one playing the dwarf barbarian in this motley band. I thought I would jump in as well because UseplanB has been doing a real great job with the journal and I thought it might be fun to add some stuff as we go along.
My character is a neutral Dwarven Barbarian also of a 25 point build.
Current characteristics: (loot and level up included) Str 18; Dex 14; Con 17; Int 12; Wis 10; Cha 8
Replaced hatred with Ancient Enmity: Elf, and Deep Warrior replaced Defensive training.
Traits: Glory of Old, Reactionary
Current weapon of choice (and central item that has kind of taken over the life of the character) is a +2 Aquatic Bane greatsword. After acquiring this item, I and the GM just randomly started playing up that my character would hear sea shanties, the sound of the waves, cinematic things like that. So I in turn have my barbarian occasionally begin speaking in bad movie pirate lingo and sounds as he is suddenly an old grizzled veteran of the sea although he is barely into dwarven adulthood and had never seen the ocean before.
Rolfe was raised in the same manner as most other children of his race; hard labor, strict classes, and military bearing at all times were the focus of his instructors. Two things quickly became apparent to Rolfe’s instructors under the mountain, he was exceptionally skilled and comfortable working weapon and he was equally impossible to keep under control.
While Rolfe completely came to life in his combat training, at all other times the yoke of order and control that defined the Dwarven way of life constantly chaffed his will. Every other person he met seemed perfectly content and happy to fall in line and accept the structured and military-like precision that is the norm, but for Rolfe, that way of life was like a slow and rancid poison that was seeping under his skin minute by minute.
Upon reaching adulthood, Rolfe decided he could not handle it a moment longer and immediately renounced the order and organization of his childhood. After so many years of being oppressed by his elders, the life of freedom and living in the wild seemed to be the only future for him. Over time, after wandering on his own for a few years, he finally meandered his way about until he finally ran out of money just about the time Riddleport came into view.
Figuring there might be some sort of establishment looking for a hired sword, Rolfe shouldered his mighty greatsword and headed into the chaos, and that was just fine for him.
Not so much a journal entry, more along the line of musings…
Yar me hearties, I be havin no idea why I be writing things down, other than if that crazy praying orc can do it then by the briny deep so canz I! Argg I also need to stop sounding so much like one of those sun-baked halfwits laying about the docks looking for work. It seems that since finding this magnificent blade, I just can’t help myself. The call of the sea, yar it makes me heart shiver ‘n me eyes a turnin’ yonder towards the blessed deep blue. Ahh I yearn for the feel of that there salty breeze passing against me cheeks and the rocking of the deck below mah stout legs…. Blblbrlrlblbl where was I?
So, I’m in Riddleport, overall not a bad place to be compared to where I come from. I’d prefer the open chaos of the markets and the threat of a fight at every turn to the boring and rigid life back “home”. Can’t thank the gods enough that I’m out of that horrible life and out on my own, dwarves… who needs em? I heard about this big event at this gambling hall called the Gold Goblin, and as I checked my empty pockets for the fifth time that day, I thought I might mosey over to see if someone could use a hired blade to guard the door. Somehow, in ways I don’t even rightly remember, I got hooked up with this motley band of folks that all got caught up in a big fight that erupted in middle of the nice little party Saul had going there.
Aye lads, it were a glorious battle that night for sure! Many a soul danced with the devils down the long planks into the sea that eve, and me arms swung a blade with the strength of the waves ya can believe that ya can! Errr, I mean it was a brilliant battle and all of my current comrades were the reason for the victory. We’ve decided to stick it out together to see where all of this mess leads us, and so far it has been both bloody and fun, not to mention we’ve made tons of gold in the process.
Most of the folks that I have thrown my lot in with seem to be of the most respectable kind of ruffians, thieves with hearts of gold ye might say. We have one fellow that does marvelous things with a hand axe, short sword, and lock picks; one fine young lass, well she makes lots of dancing lights, balls of fire, and arrows made of pure energy and other such things that make no sense to me. One of the lads is cleric and a fine upstanding young man, I certainly can agree with him on his choice to worship the Lucky Drunk! We also have this strange man with a pet fox with far too many tails, and all he does is lay around and tell us all how badly we are doing and how we should watch our form or how we shouldn’t stand in the “green stuff on the floor” or how he can’t believe we could still be alive if we are this incompetent! ARRRG he be makin’ me rage with the fury of the cold unforgiving deep YAARR lads we be wantin’ to string him from the mast!
*cough cough* Rounding out the group is a half-orc worshiper of Gorum, he and I tend to see the thick of battle the most as we have very similar ideas about how to win a fight. He is almost as willing as I am to rush into a fight, but I think some of that divine power that flows through his veins tempers his rage a bit. He seems to be more calculating in his tactics, where I believe a bigger greatsword answers every problem in life, yarr.
*scratches head* I’ll be honest here lads, I haven’t exactly cared much about why we were doing the things we were doin, or even really what we were doin at the time harharhar! Tsadok the praying orc there usually has to explain things to me and remind me who needs the keel-haulin and who is our friend, I don’t rightly care much about the difference, but he keeps me in line. All I know is that so far with these fine lords and ladies I’ve killed more men and elves (legally mind you, all in the name of self-defense aye!), I’ve owned a bar, I’ve single-handedly slain a giant killer whale that wanted me stout sea legs for a dwarf-snack, and giant drake-lizard-things nearly ripped me from stem to stern! It’s been a glorious road so far, me hearties, and this old sea Cap’n can tell ye, it looks ta’ be one grand adventure ahead of us. I expect to string up more elves, slay more beasts, and send more souls to their watery graves below in the briny deep says I!!
Oy lads, I can tell ya that night after we traded for those magnificent beasts from that nicely dressed barbarian Windbraid, or Breezehair, or Blowymane, no no it was Windbraid I’m sure of it…maybe… whatever I didna have to fight him so it wasn’t that important to remember what blasted name he went by. Anyway we camped that night about a day’s ride from the edge of Crying Leaf forest. Oh it had been a while since I had spent any real time out in the open air away from Riddleport, and it was nice. It were the first time in weeks I hadn’t been assaulted by the smell of rotten fish, dirty human, or any of the hundreds of other foul odors that town can throw up at any given time! And I can also tell ya it were nice to use some o’ them survival skills I’d picked up, I’d gotten rusty in my time in the city.
I’ll have ya know I took a double watch that night, my beautiful blade sitting at the ready across my knees, my back to the fire, my eyes trained directly towards the direction of that stinking elf-forest. I just knew that one of those dirty leaf-eaters was going to sneak out of the trees and come for us, but not on my watch, I’d be ready I’m here to tell ya! So I sat there staring as hard as I might down the road, waiting, my hands gently resting on the hilt of my great sea blade. Ahh the sound of the crackling fire be remindin’ me of the whip ‘n crack o’ the sails, the breeze across the ground tryin’ to be a gale tha’ would shake the main mast, I swear the ground below my feet began to sway in time with the waves. Aye mates, I swears on my wooden leg that I won’t let the waves take our ship! Get below deck boys, we’ll ride this one out either to shore or certain death in the arms of our beloved sea!! Arglaglrlg … where was I?
Oh aye, camping, miserable business I promise you. The praying orc Tsadok snores when he’s not muttering about “A good day to die!” or “BEST DAY EVAR!” in his sleep. Ya learn a lot about yer companions on the road, too much if ya ask me! The female that makes all the magic, she sleeps with her eyes half open, if tha’ don’t beat all, an the rogue sleeps flat on his back with his arms crossed and never moves. I tell ya it’s creepy that is, like he’s already in his grave stiff and cold – Gods protect us! Bah, the whole night was a waste between keepin’ me eyes open for attack from the slender pasty-faces and the noises of the others I was not as rested as I’d like ta be come sunrise.
However, I’ll tell ya watchin these other folk I be “ridin” with the next day sure put me spirits back on track good and sure. I am pretty sure that cleric of Cayden Cailean couldna tell ya which end was the front and which end was tha back of that horse he traded for. The animal had a name, but I’m pretty sure it should have been “Carry’s the Lost” or something like that. I’ll bet most of these city rats will be singin a sore tune tonight when they try and use those rumps to sit for dinner HARHARHAR! It is better than walkin though, my poor achin feet already be thankin me for the relief, ahhh much better than walkin says I!
So the mornin comes, we all rise and go about our daily rituals and other nonsense to rid ourselves of the stiffness in our joints from sleeping on tha ground. I am not certain, but I swear I heard that darn orc asking for the Gorum for plenty of chances to worship in battle this day… Now I’ll kill a man in a fair fight, or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight, but I’ll not be askin any o’ the gods to be sendin me the chance to try! Crazy I tell ya, absolutely crazy. We finally all make our preparations and finally break camp and get moving towards, and again I canna believe I am sayin this, willingly head towards a place tha elves live without the intent to kill them.
Before we started our ride for tha day, Tsadok pulled me to tha side askin that I ride in the last place, to protect our rear in case anything might attack us from tha blind side. Reluctantly I agreed but I did see the sense in wha’ he was sayin as the best warrior needs to be tha one to protect everyone else from sneakers or cowards tha might wants to jump us while we wasn’t lookin. As if I wouldna be lookin HARHARcough. I think he may have had other intentions, but I’m not particularly good at sensin’ when others be hidin’ stuff from me, so I dunno but he was kinda nervous about me ridin’ up front.
We rode most of the day with very few stops and even I was startin’ ta chap a bit at bein in tha saddle so long. Just when I was about to start complainin, I realized we were at the edge of tha forest and this nice little road we had been followin’ turned into a pretty small an’ narrow trail right into them trees. Well this perked me right up lads, as I was very near to be killin’ elves, which always brightens my day right up! Before we headed in, the orc gave me a glance that seemed to say tha’ I needed to keep my mouth shut an’ stop yammerin’ on about killin’ pasties! I decided he was right, they shouldna know I hates them so much, so’s I can surprise them with my speed and agility, like when I be afightin a band of the royal navy’s finest astern, repellin’ the mangy invaders from takin’ my ship! YAR ya will na’er take this ship as long as there be brine sprayin’ across the bulwark and me hands have the strength to cross cutlasses with ya! KEELHAUL THEM ALL LADS! Make em rue the day they chose to cross the washboard an’ try and take this mighty vessel! ALL HANDS TO THE BOW, dinna let them elves cross the line! … I mean, ah, let’s watch the trail for dangers, it might be, ah dangerous, like in a zone of danger, a sort of danger zone.
A fat lot of good me highly trained survival instincts and wilderness skills did ta protect us from what came after ridin’ just a couple of hours into tha stinkin’ green hell-hole. Just as the trail shrank from a nice comfortable ridin’ trail to a very narrow game trail, the trees exploded all around us in fangs, claws, wings, tails, and acid clouds! For a second there I though the damn trees had come alive and were angry with us, but then I saw the giant teeth and razor sharp serrated tails and I could tell these creatures were tryin’ ta put dwarf on tha menu, which of course I couldna let happen. Before I could even leap heroically from my mount, the giant leathery winged-lizard seemed ta find every bit of dwarf-meat not covered by my shiny noqual tin-can! I hate seein’ so much of my own blood decoratin’ the trees and shrubs, as that usually never ends well for yours truly!
The battle was intense, ya can be sure of that lads! As per usual, the crazy orc and I were left to do most of the heavy liftin on this one as them damnable drakes were smart and used tactics! The others had a time of it dancin’ in and out of the acid clouds the angry whelps kept belching at us. I was a vision to behold as the spirits themselves manifested about me in a cloud and added their own bit of violence to the fray. While I am sure the fight was always in our favor, I ain’t afraid ta admit tha’ when I looked down at me chest to see one of those beasts had speared right through my shoulder with one of those wicked sharp tails, well I thought tha’ maybe I should take things a bit more seriously! The monk somehow managed to run up a tree and hang upside down from a limb while fightin, and still managed to mock me and remind me not ta stand in front of the sharp tails so much. With a few choice words I reminded that I was busy killin things!
Things started ta look a bit on the grim side for us, we mighty band of friends. None of us were down mind you, but me wounds were starting to take their toll and the Hured the cleric was havin’ a might bit of a hard time keepin’ me in fightin’ shape. Then as if we hadna had enough surprises today, a band of the sneaky forest gits appear out of thin air and shoot at us! Methinks they were the worst shots ever because they didna hit a one of us, but kept pokin’ holes in the drakes we were strugglin’ with. After just a couple of seconds the third an’ final beast fell to the ground with a whump as it’s great bulk crashed down. I immediately turned to face these new threats and prepared to charge right into the middle of them. I could already feel me blade sinkin’ into soft elf-flash and the pleasing jerk a sword makes when yer blade catches and sticks a bit in that spot between bones in the neck… why wasn’t Tsadok attacking? I stared in disbelief as my other faithful companions sheathed their weapons and began to parlay with the savages! Tsadok quickly got in my way, I tried to move him to the left so I could charge, but his god had made him the size of a house (and he weighed as much as one too) so he refused to budge.
Fightin’ off the exhaustion tha’ always follows a big battle after the rage subsides, I looked down and noticed tha’ a fair amount of me insides were now on tha outsides of me skin and tha’ me hands were barely able to keep me blade from fallin’ to tha ground. Both Hured and Tsadok had ta make prayers on me behalf to their respective gods ta keep me alive that day, I’ll not be forgettin them beasties for a long time. Out of respect for their help, and because they seemed to not be willin’ ta fight the elves, I decided tha’ I would hold my rage towards the elves for now. I’m sure a moment would come that would provide me with just tha right time ta attack!
The leader of the tree-huggers spoke out harshly and quickly, just beggin’ me blood ta boil and pop him one as he declared his name ta be Kaershiel or something similar. His guards kept a close eye on me as I kept me as me knuckles were white on the grip of me blade, but they be makin’ no moves against me or me friends so I did the same. I’ll tell ya though, it be a long quiet ride to their village where Kaershielwhatever paraded us about like we was putting on a show in the square. It were like these little folk had never seen humans or dwarves before, and tha’ canna be right as all elves hates us dwarves, I think… Yar that’s the sea’s truth I knows it in me bones, elves hate the stout folk and the dwarves hates the bark-biters. But for hatin’ me cause I’ma dwarf, they sure did seem like they’d never seen the likes of us before…hmmm.
Kaershielsywhatsy takes us to a nice and clean hut/house on the edge of town an asks tha’ we wait here for a bit. Other gits came an took tha horses off to feed an water them, I’ll let them do tha’ as those are a set of chores this pirate never looked forward to! While we waited, the monk kept remindin’ me that we were basically bein hed captive here in this house. He went on and on about how these elves were so such easy folk to fight with and how mad he would feel if he were surrounded on all sides by an ancient enemy and how he wouldna let himself be captured by such lesser beings and on and on and on. Me rage was beginning to get tha better of me until Tsadok stepped in and silenced tha’ monk with one of his combination tusk-snarls and glares that peel the tar right off the decks! It’s probably for the best, these elves all look very battle-ready and it woulda been a tough fight for me to take them all.
Kaershielhishighandmighty comes back and takes us to meet this Eviana lady tha’ seems ta be tha leader of this outpost. I stand in tha back and doze a bit as Tsadok and the rogue do a lot of talkin’ back and forth with the elf lady. I only really woke up long enough ta accept the big bag o’ gold she dropped on us for comin all the way out to this god-forsaken place. She mentions tha’ the dark elves have been sneakin’ over the walls and raiding them for weeks now and tha’ she would pay very well if’n we was to join her band in killin them elves. Now this put your’s truly in a mighty sticky spot ta figure out. It goes completely against my old heart ta work for a stinkin elf, but when said stinkin elf be payin ya hard gold ta kill other nastier stinkin elves… wells I guess we be havin an accord! I be now in tha line of work known as “elf killin” (legal like now, as these be nasty evil dirtier elves).
So for now lads, I be wanderin about this outpost tryin ta find the ways these drow keep sneakin in and killin folk. I be tryin ta avoid the elves as much as can be, they all talk slow and loud like we are children an it makes me want ta cut them off at tha knees. Not to mention but I keep stubbing me toes and bouncing me nose off invisible magical barriers and walls magic users have put in place to defend tha town. All in all, it’s been a long day!
The early spring weather had been pleasant enough on the ride and I began to realize that the weather I had grown accustomed to while growing up in Riddleport was poor. I guess that would be considered fitting considering that the people of Riddleport, at least the ones that I knew and associated with, were poor. But like my own personal fortune, the weather had improved remarkably since leaving Riddleport.
We eventually reached the edge of the forest and I did what I could to keep an eye out for the elves that would surely be here and keep an eye on the surly dwarf. Sadly his belly aching had began after having riding for a few hours and instead of his feet, it was now his backside that ached. Considering his general disposition of the dwarf I knew any encounter with the elves was going to be tense and had a good chance of coming to blows. Granted I had no qualms breaking elven faces with the Fang, I understood that angering both factions in a war was not a good plan. Right now only these Drow had earned my ire by openly attacking me and the others.
The path that we had been following had gotten smaller the longer we traveled on it. What had once been a road with wagon wheel ruts had gone to just a simple path that one could ride along easy enough. Thankfully the gambler’s advice was paying off as I had no difficulty guiding the horse along. I asked the dwarf to ride near the rear of the line, since we were riding single file by this point, to keep his belligerent rantings as far away from any elf patrol I came upon. I expected that any point we would encounter these elves since there was supposed to be a war going on and I can’t imagine that we were in any way silent in our advance into their territory.
We rode like this for another hour before the narrow trail became even narrower and riding along was as easy as before but if you were not paying attention you could easily move off the path and not realize you had done so. This continued for another hour before the trees to my right seemed to suddenly snap and crack as if being shouldered aside by some large creature. No sooner had I looked to the sound then I was being attacked by raking claws of some large green flying lizard. The creature did not resemble the sleek looking creatures we had fought back in the farming village, instead these seemed more brutish in nature. No sooner had the raking claws found purchase in my torso then it released an acidic cloud of gas and let go, flying off. It was then that I could hear that the others were under similar assault. Quickly scanning the skies I could see that these creatures would be a fitting combat to test my skills on. As cowardly as their assault was, it appeared to be rather successful as I could see many of the group had been bloodied as well. The cleric of the drunken hero was in a near panic, but managed to reach his god and many of our minor wounds were quickly healed.
Thankfully the steeds we had just purchased had the sense to not panic and I managed to get off of mine and it moved off into the trees so that real blood letting could begin. As I asked for Gorum to assist me by shielding me in his faith, I moved forward towards the creature that flew off the ground and attacked me with its long snout. Again, the cleric of the drunken god asked for his assistance and again the remaining cuts on my body healed. Realizing that the creature was having a difficult time getting through my defenses and the fact I couldn’t reach it with some acrobatic maneuver that I was not comfortable trying, I asked for Gorums blessing again and increased my size to match the creature I faced. Grinning at the creature I moved in and began hewing off large chunks of its scaly hide. It was then that I noticed the elves firing into the creatures with their cowardly bows.
Roaring in anger at not being able to truly focus on the fight at hand I shouted a heated greeting to the elves and told them to not fire on the dwarf unless they wished to be cut off at the knees. I followed that greeting up with a warning to the dwarf to not attack the elves. Whether he heard or not I could not tell as the creature I was fighting was still alive. It had been unable to breach my defense but before I could kill the creature the gambler tumbled under its body and leapt upwards cutting open its belly. I understood the dwarfs anger towards the elves in that moment as I wanted to physically throttle the gambler for stealing the honor of the kill that I should have been given. As payment for his actions the gambler was showered in the entrails and blood of the beast as it split open under its own weight before crashing to the ground.
With the final beast dead the elves grouped up and approached slowly, cowardly bows out but not loaded. The leader who I found out later to be named Kaerishiel explained that he knew of our coming and “told” us to follow him. I made sure that I positioned myself between the dwarf and elves and could easily tell that the dwarf only needed a word from me or a misstep by the elves and he would be on them like a gutter kid on free food. I told the elf that we were here to meet with Eviana, and he turned and curtly pointed out that he knew that and was taking us to see her. Any other questions was met with either stony silence or an annoyed stare followed by his asking us to be quiet. A safe bet would be to say that if I did not like the man then the dwarf was showing incredible restraint for not braining him, repeatedly.
For several hours we rode on in silence, any grumblings from the dwarf were not heard and I imagined that he was just filling up with rage as we rode on. Eventually we came to a thicket of thorny branches and vines and the elf moved forward producing a silver whistle which he then blew. Shortly after the vines parted like a curtain would, opening from the bottom upward allowing entrance into a small village.
Once inside I saw nothing but elves, there may have even been a few half-elves as well. The one thing that did stand out was that they were all armed in some way, even their cowardly bows were also within hands reach. The elves though seemed to have never seen a half-orc, human or a dwarf for that matter because all they did was stare, their mouths agape.
The elf led us to a decent sized cottage and once inside he told us to stay here and then left, leaving two guards by the door. The room was large enough to be considered a great room, it had a table bearing several fruits on it. Grabbing an apple and asking for Gorums blessing to remove any possible taint I proceeded to look into the two adjoining rooms. Both were small affairs that had only mats on the ground, I could see no beds or cots. Their lack of comfortable sleep may be why the elf has such a bad attitude. It was then that I heard the acid tongued human out in the great hall goading the dwarf into some sort of assault on the elves. I stepped out and just stared at the acid tongued human. He caught my glare and held his tongue then, the dwarf though looked ready to strike out and the two guards shifted nervously at their posts.
To be truly honest, I wanted to punch the elf as much as the dwarf, but it wouldn’t do us any good to do so, and I would be painting myself a bad example. A few seconds of self-satisfaction is not worth my honor to carry out my deed I promised to do. Still though, maybe the dwarf will do it and I can have the few seconds of smug satisfaction before attempting to diffuse the situation.
After several hours the elf returned and told us to again, follow him. We moved deeper into the village and came to a great house made of wood. If I cared of beauty, and of elven home craftsmanship, I would have been in awe. As it were all I saw was something that would probably burn at some point. We entered into a grand hall with a long table running down its center. Seated at its head was an elven woman, who like all the others was armed with a sword. The elf that brought us sat down to her left, the air of frustration and hatred obvious to even a blind man. I took a seat as close as I could to Eviana, while the dwarf took the furthest from any of the elves and just stared at Kaerishiel.
She surprised me by initially thanking us for making the journey so far north and apologized for the attack by the serpents in the forest. The beasts she claimed were becoming more bold as her forces were tied to watching for Drow instead of beasts. I have to admit, I liked the woman for her honesty in a trying time with people that seemed unwilling to accept aid from outsiders.
I handed her the journal and map found in the Drow cave, Kaerishiel looked up with a surprised look on his face and began viewing the map. Eviana quickly read through the journal and when done dropped a bag of gold on the table as thanks for bringing these to her. The gold had a jarring effect on the dwarf and it appeared that for a small time, gold became more important than elves. Once she understood that my desire was to test my mettle against these Drow on the battlefield in Gorums name she asked if we would remain in the village while she looked over the journal and map in greater detail.
For the next few day we rested, and it would appear that these elves do not rest as long as we do, because on the first night there we noticed that the community began in earnest in the early morning while the moon was still high in the night sky. The next day wandering around the town I noticed that parts of the town had seen some sort of damage and learned that the dark elves had snuck in at times to harass the people. This bode well for me as I could tell the dwarf to keep an eye out for these Drow and perhaps his belligerence wouldn’t be totally used on who was our ally.
The townsfolk were pleasant enough, a far cry from the people of Riddleport. The town itself was very clean, and I never heard a voice raised in anger. In fact the only time I heard a loud voice was when an elven vendor would speak with any of us in common. They spoke as if we were deaf and a child with no knowledge of the language. I surprised a few when I replied to them in their own native tongue. I had spent time with the gambler learning the language once I knew we were to going to be interacting with them. We learned that there was a permanent magical fixture in the village that could transport people to the elven great city and that they could locate items of interest for us if we wished. The gambler seemed highly interested in this and began brokering for items he wanted.
The day though was quiet, and somewhat dull. As I rested that night I drifted off to sleep dreaming of battles yet to come and glory in Gorum’s name.
As a background story for the Second Darkness campaign the GM asked all the players to make a 9th level dwarf that would have some connection to a dwarven prince. The prince is being played by the dwarven berserker in the Second Darkness campaign. This one-off game is only going to go for a session or so but (I believe) is going to give us some back story into the elves.
I decided to push a side of the fighter (my favorite class) that I had not done yet in Pathfinder and made a two-weapon fighter. No arch-types, just a crap-ton of feats. We used a 25-point build with no traits. Armed with that knowledge and the average wealth of a 9th level PC (46,000 gold) I came up with a dwarven berserker.
His general description is a dwarf that has seen a very rough road in life, but it seems to agree with him rather than wear him down. His personal belief of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger has led to his horrible facial scars, missing teeth, and poor eye-site. He wears his hair in a short cropped mowhawk and his beard is generally short. This is mostly because over the years of fighting it has been cut, burned and ripped out. So now he just keeps it short and most dwarves of the hold have learned not to poke fun at its length.
Male Dwarf Fighter 9
NG Medium Humanoid
Init: +7; Senses: Darkvision 60’; Perception: +1
AC 26, touch 15, flat-footed 23 (+10 armor, +3 dex, +1 natural, +2 deflection)
HP 122 (9d10+54)
Fort +12, Ref +8, Will +6 (+2 vs. Poison, Spells, and Spell-like effects)
Melee +1 Keen, Cold Iron Dwarven Waraxe +19/+14 (1d10+10), +1 Keen, Cold Iron Handaxe +19/+14 (1d6+10)
Ranged Axe, Throwing +14/+9 (1d6+7)
Special attacks None
During Combat Gregor will always close with the enemy as quickly as possible drawing his weapons as part of his move action unless already readied. Once in melee with the enemy Gregor will always full attack with both weapons and Power Attack. If the enemy is to difficult to hit, he will stop his Power Attack but will continue to attack with both weapons until the enemy or Gregor is dead.
Str 20, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 5 (I know, I know. A 5, really? But its only a one night game, and I figure this guy is so horribly scarred, gap toothed and crude that it fits.)
Base Atk +9; CMB +14; CMD +27 (+4 CMD versus Trip and Bull Rush)
Feats Two-Weapon Fighting, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Dwarven Waraxe), Toughness, Weapon Specialization (Dwarven Waraxe), Double Slice, Weapon Focus (Handaxe), Weapon Specialization (Handaxe), Improved Initiative, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
Skills Climb +10, Intimidate +3, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +6, Knowledge (Engineering) +6, Ride +4, Survival +7
Languages Dwarven, Common
SQ Bravery +1 Will save vs. Fear, Weapon Training: Axes (+2 Hit/Damage), Heavy Blades (+1 Hit/Damage), Armor Training: Reduce Armor check penalty by 2 and Increase Max Dex bonus by 2
Other Gear +1 Full plate, +1 Keen Cold Iron Dwarven Waraxe, +1 Keen Cold Iron Handaxe, Ring of Protection +2, Cloak of Resistance +2, Belt of Physical Might (+2 Str and Con [stats already figured in]), Amulet of Natural Armor +1
–––Gregor Stonebiter, personal body guard to Prince Wrothgar Stonebeard , and general lout –––
Actually, that’s not totally true, the Prince doesn’t necessarily need a personal bodyguard. He carries a shield as big as he is and has Torag’s protection. If that weren’t enough he has the rest of us to keep him safe. We have another cleric of Torag, a paladin of Torag, a hand cannoner , and on top of that his own personal assassin. I generally just remove those that wish to harm the Prince, one piece at a time, with relish. (PLAYER COMMENT: The prince is a full cleric, as is another player, a ninja, a paladin/fighter, a gunslinger, and me.)
The prince had been tasked with journeying from our mountain holds to meet with the elves of the nearby forests. It was believed that if we could make allies of the skinny, bark eating, fair haired, hoity toities, then we could concentrate on other forces that wished to do us in. Something about a war on two fronts being bad and all that. Since the prince is the youngest son, and expendable, he was asked to broker some sort of peace. Naturally the prince came to me to ask if I would assist. By Trudds beard I wasn’t going to let my prince and friend down, so I agreed. Besides if it all went goblin head shaped I would get to plant my axes into the skulls of the uptight elves.
We had been journeying for several days riding ponies before finally making it to the forest. After a while the assassin whispered something to Wrothgar and he warned everyone in hushed tones that we were being watched. I figured that if the elves shot first then all bets were off and I was going to be ready, so I drew my axes. After several minutes of riding slowly forward and nothing happening I shouted a challenge to the elves to show themselves. They didn’t, but I did get that look from the assassin. You know the look, the kind the wives give their unfortunate husbands when they say they are going out for an ale with the boys, which is then followed with an apology to his mates that he can’t go. The only real difference here was the assassin wouldn’t try and brain me with a cooking pan. I grinned at her and winked. It didn’t help.
Fearing an eventual ambush I hopped off the pony and grabbed the reins in my teeth and continued forward, deeper into the forest with my weapons out. Thats when my sharp dwarven ears picked out the sounds of my mates moving forward at a quickened pace. My questioning look was met with a reply from Wrothgar that he could hear the sound of combat from ahead.
Well I wasn’t going to miss a good fight so tightening my jaw I ran forward pulling my pony with me. When we arrived at the scene of the fight I could see several forest animals moving forward and suddenly transforming into the weedy little gits. Lying scattered on the forest floor were several dead elves. Among the bodies were these shadowy apparitions that attacked with claws or spells of some kind.
Spitting out the reins and with a war cry for the ages, I gleefully ran into the fray. Just before I reached these shadowy creatures, one of them let loose with some electrical magic that targeted the prince and some of the others near him. Even at the distance that I was away from the spell my skin tingled. It was either that or the fact that I bloody well hate casters and I wanted to brain the snot out of the thing for shooting the boss. Either way, I ran at that creature and took a mighty swing with my waraxe. Even though the creature looked to be made of shadow, I met with resistance and the creature took note of my presence in the most shocking of fashion, no pun intended.
The creature and I tussled for a few seconds, and it seemed to change its approach to spells because the next spell hit me and I swear I pooped blood. At the very least it was coming out of my ears (as I found out later), my nose (which is normal and I’m surprised it still works to be honest), and even my eyes. I retaliated of course and right before I killed it (at least I assume it did because it dissipated) it nailed me with that spell again. The second one hit harder and I know I pooped blood on that one. Also not uncommon in my line of work but its rare, well I hope pooping blood is rare. It took a few seconds to shake the second blast off but when I did I reengaged one of the remaining ones and helped to quickly take it down.
Once we had destroyed the creatures the elves came forward and thanked us for our assistance and that they were expecting us. Since their weapons were put away I guess that meant the fight was over. Great. Well, not really. I was having fun. Elves are the death of fun.
Our GM caught the nasty flu-like bug that is going around our area so we did not play this past week. Instead the gang got together and while rocking out to Two Steps from Hell played a bunch of board games. Lords of Waterdeep, Nightfall from AEG and Timeline. I highly recommend Lords of Waterdeep if you haven’t played that. My finally winning that game has no bearing on that recommendation. Nightfall was okay, only a couple of us had ever played it before so we did the “beginners” version. By the time I understood what we were doing the game ended. Then we played a few games of Timeline, which is a fun game and something that should be done in schools when the teacher wants a break. But boy did that game make me feel stupid.
Anyway, because I wanted to put something up and we had not played I decided to post Tsadok as he is now. Currently we just arrived at Crying Leaf and are 6th level. I plan on going back to cleric (which is Tsadok’s favored class) for the next three levels. I also plan on taking Extra Rage next level to augment the Barbarian class while still working on Cleric. Once I hit Cleric 8/Urban Barbarian 1, I will switch back to leveling as a Urban Barbarian until the end of the campaign.
CN Medium Humanoid
Init: +2, Senses: Darkvision 60’; Perception: +7
AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 21 (+7 armor, +3 shield, +2 dex, +1 dodge, +1 natural armor)
HP 62 (5d8+1d12+46)
Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +9
Melee +2 Keen, Fang of Kathalphas +12 (1d6+6)
Special attacks Channel positive energy 5/day (DC 14, 3d6), ferocious strike 6/day (+2 damage)
Spells Prepared (CL 5th; concentration +10)
3rd—magic vestmentD, deadly juggernaut, invisibility purge
2nd—bulls strengthD, weapon of awe (three times)
1st—enlarge personD, Gorum’s armor, shield of faith (three times)
0 (at will)—create water, detect magic, enhanced diplomacy, purify food & drink
D Domain spell; Domains Strength (Ferocity sub-domain), War (Tactics sub-domain)
If there is advanced warning of possible combat, Gorum’s Armor is cast, especially if going against creatures with natural attacks. Seize the Initiative (War domain [Tactics sub-domain]) is now always used by Tsadok for the chance of getting a higher initiative. First round of combat will almost always be the casting of Shield of Faith for a +2 Deflection bonus. Sprinkle in Enlarge Person if the fight is important enough for 1 round of not swinging at bad guys. Other spells usually available if needed are Weapon of Awe or Deadly Juggernaut.
Because of a generally high armor class, and the Crowd Control class ability, Tsadok will attempt to engage with as many enemies as possible. With only 6 rounds of Controlled Rage available, Tsadok will only enter into a Rage if against a superior foe or the largest threat to the party.
If during combat the party is taking enough damage that it would warrant a Channel, he will gladly do so. In Tsadok’s mind, if he is required to channel to keep his allies alive then it should also keep his enemies alive. Gorum does not care who is fighting, only that there is a battle. Perhaps by giving his allies another few seconds of life, they will fight harder and prevail or die because their enemy fought harder instead.
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +8; CMD +20
Feats Ironhide, Dodge, Weapon Focus (Greatsword)
Skills Climb +8, Diplomacy +6, Heal +7, Intimidate +9 (+10 versus crowds), Knowledge (Local) +5, Linguistics +3, Perception +7, Profession (Gambler) +7, Sense Motive +7
Languages Common, Orc, Elven
SQ Unbreakable Hate: +2 Concentration checks, Channel positive 3d6, Crowd Control: +1 Dodge AC and +1 Hit against two or more enemies, Controlled Rage, Orc blood
Gear +1 Noqual Breastplate (Agile) with Armor Spikes, +1 Heavy Steel Shield, Fang of Kathalphas, Gauntlets of Giant Strength +2, Cloak of Resistance +1, Token of Gorum
All stats include magic items
Token of Gorum: +1 sacred bonus to Attack, may reroll one failed save with a sacred bonus of +4, if reroll is used lose the bonus to attack for remainder of day, counts as a Holy Symbol, counts as a Channel foci Iron Eye (FoB)
Fang of Kathalphas: “This broken blade bares a masterfully crafted ebon steel hilt, and a blade of bone inlaid with red runes. Obviously, the sword was forged as a great weapon, now however it is no larger than a short sword.”
The Fang, acts in all ways as a +2 keen short sword. Any feat or ability the wielder may have that applies to two-handed swords, also applies when wielding the Fang. Additionally, anytime you score a critical hit against a living target (not undead or construct) the fang creates a Spartolos (Skeletal) Warrior. The Hit Dice of the Spartolos created by the fang is equal to the wielders level -3.
The Spartolos immediately appears in an unoccupied square within ten feet (10 ft.) of the wielder or the target of critical hit. If no unoccupied square exists in this radius, the Spartolos will not appear. The Spartolos cannot act on the round in which it was summoned, but will continue to serve the wielder of the Fang for the next four rounds. Immediately after its action on the final round, it crumbles to dust, leaving nothing behind. The Spartolos will follow simple verbal commands (attack, charge, stay, flank, etc.), but cannot execute complex strategies or tasks. There can never be more Spartolos active, then 1/2 the current wielders HD.
“This armored skeleton stands in a battle-ready pose; its weapon held high as burning red light shines in its eye sockets.”
Human Skeletal Warrior
NE Medium Undead
Senses Darkvision 60’
AC 19, touch 11, flat-footed 18 (+6 armor, +1 dex, +2 natural armor)
HP Varies (5xHD)
Fort Varies (+ 1/3 HD), Ref Varies 1 (+ 1/3 HD), Will Varies (+ 1/2 HD)
Special Defenses DR 5/Bludgeoning, Immune Cold, Undead Traits
Melee +3(+3/4 BAB) Greatsword (2d6+4)
Str 17, Dex 13, Con —, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +3/4 BAB; CMB +3(+3/4 HD); CMD +14(+3/4 HD)
After thanking us for our assistance in helping the elves defeat these black shadowy creatures they turned back into forest animals and ventured back into the forest to eat berries or whatever it is that elves do. A few remained to recover their fallen kin and one of them said he would lead us to meet with their Lord. He seemed a quiet fellow, not much on talking and politely waited for us to heal up our wounds, and gather our ponies.
Expecting the journey to be short all of us began walking, leading our mounts. After an hour or so I asked how much farther it was going to be and the elf turned and said at the pace that we were moving several more hours. I’m not sure if that was a dig at our shorter legs or not, but I decided to mount up and ride there at a much quicker pace. As the others also began climbing into their saddles, the elf transformed into a horse. Neat trick if you’re into something that most meat eating beasts would go after I suppose.
After about an hour I began to make out the subtle scent of wood smoke when the horse, I mean elf, began galloping headlong into the forest. Trying to keep up, our ponies began a very quick trot and we came upon an elven village that had recently seen battle. As soon as we entered into the village the elves turned to face us and began drawing weapons. As I was falling out of the saddle to quickly get into an attack footing, the elf that brought us here transformed back and began calling for peace with his arms in the air.
Every elf that I could see looked at us with hatred on their eyes, muscles taught and ready to spring into action. Only one elf was wailing, something about her daughter. Knowing that these elves would be ready to go if I said the wrong thing I waited for the boss to direct our immediate future. A rather regal looking fellow moved forward and introduced himself as Lord Ericeal and thanked us for answering their call for aid, which was news to me. The boss talked with the elf for a while, doing his best not to look at the woman who would not shut up. By Trudds beard that woman could wail loud enough to crack stone. Turns out the one elf that I was keeping a keen eye on was the womans husband and apparently related to the Lord in some way. Probably better that the boss wasn’t paying attention to me because I had been trying to goad the elf into attacking me. Good thing he didn’t, braining royalty wouldn’t help the situation. It was for the best, the Lord asked the elf to escort his wife home.
Eventually they took us to a small lodge to rest in before the official talks would begin and we could find out why we had come so far. The lodge was an interesting affair. They apparently though we slept on rocks because the only furnishings, if you could call them that, were blanket strewn boulders placed about the room. I imagine that the whole town could hear our laughter once we all looked at one another and then back at the stones.
After about an hour of rest we met with their Lord Ericeal in a more formal setting and to be honest, I was bored after a few minutes. I did my best to remain quiet, not being formally trained in the diplomatic arts as it were. They seemed to ramble on and on for an eternity before I whispered to the boss something about us not being as long lived a race as elves and we were wasting time. He agreed but he still kicked me under the table. The Lord got the clue and brought out some stones with dwarven runes carved onto them. From the look of the stones and what they said, in an ancient dialect of dwarven, they were stones from a dwarven made surface entrance. They had discovered the entrance shortly after the discovery they came under attack.
It was then that we found that during the recent raid, the granddaughter of the Lord was taken by the shadow creatures. Which would explain why the elves looked at us as they had, thinking that all dwarves summoned black shadows to do their bidding. They may be long lived, but they weren’t to bright.
We agreed that we would investigate these ruins at first light and do everything within our power to return their child, some sort of seer or elven prodigy. Either way the kid was important and it would make the boss happy to make sure these elves learned that all dwarves were not . . . evil.
When we arrived at the entrance the next day we found the corpse of an elf that had used a pick to open the sealed entrance. That should have been a clue right there, the elves should leave mining to dwarves. They don’t have the constitution for it. Both the boss and our other healer looked at the body and claimed that it was fresh, even though the body looked to have been aged hundreds of years. Their belief was necromancy or undead. Great! This day just got weirder.
We journeyed along the tunnel slowly descending deep into the earth. Along the way there was a dwarven story carved into the walls. Each story was essentially the same, yet different. It seemed like a thousand dwarves each carved into the walls the same story. There were subtle differences but the overall message was the same. Shunned by their kin they had followed the new teachings of a being named Sphixiron.
We eventually came to a large circular room and were halfway across when we were attacked. The beings were dwarves, but with much darker skin color, a very dark grey color. They looked wild eyed and threw acidic bombs before attacking us directly. The fight was short, and I could say that as a dwarf they fought poorly. No real tactics, just raw anger. In any case they fell, all of them, with no telling injuries to our party.
Continuing on we eventually came to a giant pillared hall, filled with treasures at the latter half of the room. A fabled hammer was found as if it had fallen from a great height, but would not move by my hand. The boss picked it up as if it were light as a feather. The hammer was a weapon of legend and could only be held by one of royal blood. Impressive looking, but still a hammer, I preferred axes. It was then that we could hear chanting from ahead. When we got closer we could see the elven girl on an alter with four robed dwarves leading a congregation of hundreds. With a few spells of aid from Thoradin we charged forward hoping to end or at the least, interrupt the ritual.
The four robed individuals were the only ones that attempted to stop us. The congregation continuing the chanting. The four dwarves each seemed to be altered in some way, but all with black scales showing in their flesh in areas. The one I faced had a large tail and he failed at tripping me. (PLAYER COMMENT: Had a CMD of 27, and he rolled a 30 on the trip. But I got to use my dwarven racial to adjust my CMD to 31 and the trip failed. Getting to use odd racials is always fun!) The fight was glorious and gruesome. Within moments my opponent was laying on the floor in chunks. As I assisted the boss with one of the other robed individuals the ritual completed. A loud voice boomed in the halls proclaiming our folly. Thats when the boss told me to grab the girl and run. Knowing that he was going to stand there and face the being coming into being made me pause. Suddenly a giant roar followed by a huge stream of acid shot from the face of the creature forming at the end of the room. A dragon, an ancient, huge black dragon that exuded pure evil. Its size so large that it would easily fill the chamber we were in. Finding the girl cowering behind a pillar, I scooped her up and ran.
Then I heard the thundering crash of earth collapsing. The boss had used the hammer to cause the room to collapse, killing everyone there under piles of stone and earth. The only ones that made it out were me and the elven girl. For several moments I cursed every foul word I knew at no one. The girl just looked at me with wide eyes. My Prince was dead. I had failed as his friend to keep him alive, but I would succeed at completing his last task. Grabbing the girl I made for the surface to return her to her family.
It was all a dream. A great and wonderful dream, Gorum, Devils Elbow, the Drow, our journey to the elven forests.
I awoke cold and wet, the damp of Riddleport once again on my flesh and armor. When I opened my eyes I realized that the dream was truth. My companions were with me, only the location was not as I had remembered.
My last conscious thought was going to sleep the night before in the elven village. The dream of flight, being chased by a dragon, saving someone . . . it was all turning to fog. The same fog that coated the large stones and the field I awoke in. At my feet was a ruby the size of my fist attached to a thick golden chain. Looking about there were objects resting in the grass near all our feet covered in dew. The large stones seemed to be some sort of monument, to some unknown event. Confusion seemed evident on all our faces as we stood up and shook loose the cobwebs of sleep.
The items at our feet all seemed to be of dwarven make, which is to say, very heavy, sturdy and in some ways very gaudy. The barbarian said that the stones were a monument of thanks to the dwarven people from the elves and that the items at our feet were gifts from the rescued girl in the dream. A girl that I was having a hard time remembering.
Donning the necklace we made our way back to the elven village. For some reason all of us seemed to know the way back. Trying to shake the cobwebs from my head I couldn’t understand what happened. Even the elves were surprised at our arrival back in the town. It would seem they did not realize we had somehow left as well.
Returning to our lodge for a morning meal and to clean up we were eventually called to a meeting with Eviana. She decided that with the information that we had provided that an all-out attack on the Drow was the only way to end the hostilities. I grinned at this news, the prospect of finally honoring Gorum in the best way. We would leave the village and march for a day and a half to the ruined city of Celwynvian, an ancient elven city.
The march was as expected, the dwarf complained of his aching feet, and the contempt from the elf, Kaerishiel was plainly evident. The rest of the elves were polite and even though it was evident that we required longer to sleep and give proper venerations to our gods, or the study of spells, they waited. The elves did not march as armies would, or at least how I thought armies did. They instead broke into bands of five or six elves and moved in a skirmish formation. This allowed us to also form our own group but we did what we could to remain within eyesight of Eviana’s group.
We eventually arrived at a small encampment where the rest of the elves began setting up tents. A tent was provided to our group to use that was every bit as extravagant as the others. After the tent had been set up Kaerishiel arrived to inform us that a dinner would be served and that we were expected to be there. It was painfully obvious that Kaerishiel did not want us there. I may have to amend my verbal leash on martial retribution against this man, for he has finally earned my utter ire.
The dinner was a simple affair where Eviana would not discuss how to prosecute the war, that would be left until the morning before the attack. At this news I was disappointed and passed the time speaking with one of the elves who had only recently arrived back to Celwynvian after a long stay near a town of Sandpoint. She seemed affable enough, and spoke at great length of the town and the fact that the numbers of Drow were unknown to the elves. Once we learned that the attack was to take place before the sun rose the next day so all of us retired early so as to be properly rested.
The meeting in the pre-dawn of the next day told of multiple attacks being timed to begin once the sun touched the highest remaining spire in Celwynvian and our task was to assault an old library deep within the city. We learned that there were demons in the city, but it appeared that they were autonomous in their actions as the Drow did not direct them. There were also rumors of a giant green dragon in the area, called Razorhorn. As I smiled at the prospect of fighting a dragon I noticed that the elven woman I spoke with at the dinner bristled at this news. Once again, Kaerishiel voiced his opinion that our group should not attack the library but instead stay behind and guard the tents. Before any of us could reply Eviana told him to accept his role as we accepted ours, honor would be given to all on this day.
With the meeting over we made way to our objective. Casting Silence on myself to reduce the groups noise, we moved as quickly as we could and awaited the proper time to strike. The building was a two story affair with overgrown vines and a stone door that was partially open. On the roof were two patrolling drow that the acid-tongued human and his fox would engage while the rest of us would attempt to open the door.
Considering that I had removed the stout vault door back at the Golden Goblin long ago, I figured the stone door would not prove difficult. I was wrong. The suddenness of our assault was lost as we spent several long and agonizing moments trying to open the door. Not that our opening the door immediately would have made a great deal of difference. One of the Drow on the roof was able to get off a cry of alarm before he was dispatched. Instead we listened to the repeated berating from the acid tongued human about how he would open the door differently.
For several moments, the dwarf, cleric of the drunken god and I pulled and pried at the door before it was open large enough to allow entry. In my enlarged form I would clog up the entrance, so removing Gorums blessing of size I moved into the room, allowing the now arrived giant spiders to bite at me. None of them could penetrate the armor and so I began hacking away with the dwarf. Several times the webs within the room made it difficult for me to swing and I sadly spent as much time trying to hit the fast moving spiders as I did pulling my sword arm free from the webs.
As soon as the last spider fell I took the northern door and tried to open it. Thankfully it was made of wood and not stone as the exterior door was, but it was locked. The rest moved south and gained entry immediately being attacked by small impish demons. Once more I put my shoulder into the door and this time it broke free and fell inward revealing seven Drow in various stances. At least four of them were using their cowardly bows, but their obvious leader drew my attention.
Before I was able to act, arrows flew in my direction and the leader released some foul magic at the cleric of the drunken hero who was by my side. The leaders two swordsman ran forward blocking our entry but their maneuver and combat skills were poor. The pale woman of our group spoke her mystical tongue and I felt as if everything suddenly moved in slow motion. Driving the Fang into the guard to my right I continued forward as his body collapsed. The body hit the floor after I had reached their leader some thirty feet away. The lone remaining swordsmans weapon harmlessly glanced from my armor as I moved by. The remaining combat was swift and short. I was also blessed with Champions that manifested during the fight as a reward for expert swordsmanship.
Attending to the wounds of the group while others searched, we discovered some journals that we gave to Eviana upon returning to camp. It would seem the initial assault was going well, the suddenness of the attack driving the Drow back. It would only be a matter of time before a stalemate would begin to form, and that is when the fighting would get interesting. There was no word of Razorhorn which was disheartening, but Eviana then asked us to move further into the city and destroy one of their weapon stores. It would seem that the Drow loved using acid as well as poison and a ruined building that belched a foul green smoke was discovered and Eviana asked for our group to destroy it.
We moved back into the ruined city, the sun now much higher in the sky. Sounds of fighting could be heard from all around us deeper in. Eventually we found the ruins that was our target, and even though we tried to scout forward quietly to determine what it was that we would face, the dwarf just ran into the open. This tactic did work in alerting us to the location of something as a sudden bolt of electricity shot out from the open side of a collapsed dome hitting the dwarf and leaving him shaking for a few seconds.
What ever it was that had done that was hiding in a giant pool of acid, so with Gorums blessing I moved around the corner, the divine power of Gorum pushing the acid away from my legs as I plodded into the pool. What I found was rather interesting. The creature seemed to be part Drow and part spider. Very large and able to move about in the area with no reduction to its movement. Destroying the creature was again easy to do but not before I also was hit by one of these bolts of electricity, for minutes after that strike my teeth tingled.
As we moved through the pool we came to a large room above the acid waste I waded through where some Drow was already engaged with the gambler. There were also two large creatures of stitched together flesh that smelled of death. By the time I made it into the room I once again found that the movements of the creatures seemed to slow, but not before the gambler had been beaten to the ground.
This fight was an intense affair as the creatures were in fact some form of undead, but could not stand up to the might of myself and my companions. I roared as loud as I could, as the last of the foul creatures died, my exultation to Gorum for allowing me to fight this day. Sadly the gambler was in fact dead. A valiant but stupid move on his part. He was skilled with the blade and hatchet he had grown accustomed to using but these creatures were to strong and with their alchemical leader backing them up, he had no right taking them on alone. The death of the gambler was hard though for the dwarf to handle, grabbing the dead form up in his hands he ran off in the direction of Eviana’s camp.
I would guess that he hopes that Eviana would be able to find a powerful cleric in their army that might be able to return his soul to his body. Shaking my head at that thought, I rested while the others looked about for anything of value.
AHOY lads, belly up ta tha bar while yer ole ship cap’n lays another of his sea yarns upon ya while ya be eatin’ and drinkin’ yer shiny coins away in this here finest of fine clinky-clink establishments! All hands on deck for this gale boys, as I’m sure this tale will downright make yer shiver in yer boots. Sea legs or not, I can promise ye one thing, the things I can remember from me old adventurin’ days will make ya turn as white as the foam in a forty foot swell off the Sallow Coast!
Now, where was I… AND WHY DON’T I HAVE A FULL MUG?!? Barkeep! Another one to wet me whistle kind sir. Oh aye, now I be rememberin’, but even now it stays a big foggy in me mind. We woke up outside of that stinking elf town, out on a hill somehow outside the walls and defenses put up by the bark eaters. I swears by the great swollen reefs I can’t remember how we got out there, or even what I was dreamin’ about before somethin’ jarred me awake, but I knows it were a grand dream of epic proportions lads. This dwarf ne’er does anythin’ small, go big or go home says I! AYE! Anyway I awoke to find the biggest book you have every laid those sad little blue eyes of yourn on layin’ at me feet just as pretty as you please. Big as this table I tells ya, and heavy as keg full of tha’ good Dwarven drink, not that weak thin stuff you humans call ale… blah I’d rather drink the mop water off the deck after the swabbies get done with it! It was a great book, full of page after page of all the things every race or monster had ever done wrong by us Dwarves. I’d read that book for an hour and I swear to ya me blood would begin to boil and I’d be madder than a nest of giant hornets after a hail storm, always good before a fight.
So anyways, we, the band of heroes mind ya, trudge back into town all shakin’ our heads and talkin’ tryin’ ta remember what we was about the night before. Them old elves sure were surprised to see us comin’ in from tha outside, I be bettin’ they had no idea we’d even left that little hole they’d so “kindly” given us ta rack in. We’d just gotten in, and hadn’t even had time ta drink a respectable drink before tha’ foul pasty Kiereshel comes about pokin’ his head in demandin’ all rude like tha’ we should get it in gear an head over ta see Eviana. My sword was almost out an ready before I knew what I was doin, luckily I had tha’ crazy big book in me hands slowin’ me down or else I’da split his head open like a fish left in the sun too long. Have I mentioned I hates me some pointy-eared gits? *spits* May the seas wash all elves away ta tha briny depths!
Now, that Eviana, for an elf mind you, she wasn’t all bad. She treated us with respect and I hates ta admit it but she started to work on ta me good side. So when our band of heroes wandered into her receivin’ room there, I kinda hung back against tha wall there so as to not say somethin’ that I might be later regrettin’ I saids. However when she laid it on us that she had decided ta go ta war with the dark breeds, well ya can be sure Tsadok’s face lit up like a fareball loose in a fireworks stand. I swear that big tusky gap-toothed smile of his wrapped all the way around tha ta the back of his head as I heard his whisper under his breath somethin’ thankful to Gorum. Of course after bein’ all cooped up and whatnot we all were spoilin’ for a fight so we agreed to go along for tha ride.
Ok so this was tha first time I was really part of any sort of organized military action, an I’ve got no shame in admittin’ that this here was one sailor tha’ was feelin’ abit out of his depths. Those dirty tight-lipped bastards wouldn’a tell us a thing about their battle plans or what was expected of us. I knew we were the most able bodied fighters in tha bunch, so for the life of me I couldn’a figure out why they kept it all secret like. All they would say is travel in our own little bunch, stay off tha road, and try not ta make too much noise as we stomped through tha trees. I’ve never seen an army travel like this! Any respectable army forms up and travels together, an’ I should know, the Dwarves make armies out of groups of children lining up for bread in tha mornin’! So all this sneakin’ an hoppin’ around tha trees wasn’t workin’ out so well for our crew as we tend ta be more like a killer whale in tha middle of a blood frenzy.
Along tha way we are told tha’ we are headed ta the old ruins of Celwynvian, which I guess is some old elven town of some kind of importance. Tha old tales say tha’ this big place used ta be the elven capital back before they abandoned the planet before Starfall. While them cowards was gone, tha dark breeds snuck in and took over tha place, made it their home. Wells when them pasties came back naturally there was a lot of fightin’ over who owned tha place and it seems that fightin’ was still goin’ on! So now not only does I gets the pleasure of killin’ elves (granted only the dark breed), but I gets to wreck their ancient and beloved home seed-pod-home-thingy??? Aye lads, tha’ made me old heart over-flow with warm gushes of joy and sunshine that did.
So we finally make it ta tha designated camp spot for tha night, and not a moment too soon as me old dogs were a barkin! Back in those days I wore fightin’ boots, not walkin’ boots, and by the end of a days’ march I was always happy ta take a load off them poor boys. We hadn’t stopped five minutes and here comes Kiereshel stompin’ around and bein’ a bigger nuisance than a seaweed rash around yer tenderly-bits down south if’n ya know what I mean! Not tha’ I’d know anythin’ abouts a seaweed rash mind ya, I’ve ne’er been with one of them types of ladies. Not tha’ I haven’t been with tha ladies, no tha’s not what I’m sayin’ at all either ya dolt! Of course I’ve been with tha ladies, they loves them some of the most dreaded pirate Cap’n Coldforge! I’m just sayin’ I’ve never been with ladies of tha’ ilk, the garbage barge wenches or the mud-huggers that rut anywhere there be flat land ta lay on. Yer missin’ tha point boy, back ta me story!
Of course Kiereshel demanded tha’ we set up guards and sentries and whatnot, and anyone else I’da agreed with. But since it was dear old pointy-head hisself, I immediately flopped down and went ta sleep as soundly as I could. Jest a quick side note here fellas, I’ve slept on plenty of hard ground before, and swung in plenty a sweaty ship bunk in my time, but I’ll never forget how uncomfortable it was sleepin’ amidst all them damn elves. None of them make any noise, it be unnerving I tell ya, not natural at all. But even with all that weirdness, I still managed ta gets meself a full nights rest in tha’ thick forest.
We awoke tha next mornin’ and followed our normal routines gettin’ it all together. Them elves just sat around waitin’ and watchin’ us as I guess they only needs a few hours of sittin’ and thinkin’ quietly ta themselves ta be rested. If any of ya lads here ever understand how them elves work, well you just keeps it ta yerselves as I don’t care ta know at all. But we finally got it all together an headed out for yet another day of walkin’ about tha forest. I canna remember now how long we walked, but we slunk along for a bit until we came upon some right nice and respectable ruins tha’ actually gave some cover and some defensible positions. Eviana, being smarter than yer average elf, decided tha’ this would be a good spot to set up a more permanent base camp to start wagin’ her war from. I guess that meant we was fairly close ta tha place we needed ta be.
Durin’ the day, some group of other elves in all shiny and pretty armor showed up and met with Eviana. Tsadok wouldn’a let me get near them as I was in a pretty sour mood by this time and woulda probably picked a fight. However I did notice this one particular lady-elf that had green hair and beautiful black eyes, named Shalelu methinks. She seemed ta command a lot of attention just from her appearance, not ta mention her rank.
Well I decide tha’ tha best way ta prepare for battle is ta drink it up, so I start knockin’ em back and eventually my sword calls ta me an I start beltin’ out the best sea tunes I can come up with. Of course these stuffy tree-huggers can’t deal with tha sound of me great singin’ voice and they sure did not know tha words to me songs, so they kind of scoot away from me an leave me ta me singin’. It were a glorious night, I can promise ya that. You’ve heard me here at tha bar boys, singin’ me heart out with Clyde tha bard over there so ya can just imagine how wonderful me voice sounded out in them trees… I don’t remember much after tha’ point, maybe ya can track down one of tha others in tha group an they can fill out tha rest of tha night for ya.
I do remember being rudely shaken awake in tha wee hours of tha mornin’ that next day. Tsadok is all smiles and grins, well as much as his tusks would let him grin anway, as he told me ta suit up for a war. I vaguely remember him even tellin’ a crude joke or two about killin’ small animals or children or somethin’. Either way, he was in some kind of mood since he knew he was gonna get to hit things with his sword tha’ day. Our job was ta sneak in (again with tha sneakin’, have they met me??) ta this old library of some kind, kill anythin’ inside, an hold out until the thin-skins show up ta take over guard duty from us. Then we would high-tail it back ta base for a new assignment, easy as pie.
Well, it was easy for a while. Tsadok asked Gorum to keep us all under wraps until we got to where it was we was goin, an of course his God answered with a silence spell so no one would hear us runnin’ along. We got ta tha library without any incident, an it were a nice sized place, a two floor affair with a couple of dark breeds on top playin’ guard. Tha’ crazy monk of ours and his summoned fox headed up ta that roof and dealt with them guards, although it didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. One of them squeekers got off a yelp before he could finish them off, lettin’ anyone else around knows we was about. While he and his pet were off doin’ that craziness, we had ta tackle a big ole’ stone door tha’ was keepin’ us from gettin’ inta tha place. At first we all thought it was gonna be easy, but I guess there was some spiders about the size of yer plow horse there on tha inside and they had webbed up tha place pretty fine. It took all of us workin’ together an me nearly rippin’ me arms right from their sockets ta get them doors to budge enough tha’ we all could worm our way through. Poor Tsadok had to give up his blessing of size that he so loves from Gorum or he ne’er woulda made it in, an then he’da missed all tha fun.
So we the heroes of this here tale got inside an of course immediately acted like youngling fighters an split up. Some of us dashed in an ta tha left ta fight these really annoyin’ little baby lookin’ demon things that were throwin’ things at us. Tsadok an a couple others split ta tha right and crashed in a door, surprisin’ tha heck outta a band of drow tha’ were certainly not expectin’ tha’ half-orc for dinner! As is customary, the situation was dealt with handily, although I’m sad ta report tha’ I was of little use in tha row. Them stinkin’ dirty cheatin’ drow poison everythin’ they get their pointy little fingernails on. They had poison blades, poison nails, poison teeth, poison hair, even poison boots I’m here ta tell ya. One of them sneekers gots in behind me and got in a good shot when I wasn’t lookin’ and tha poison dropped me asleep like a stone. Tha fellas had it all under control though, an woke me after they had handled the remaining uglies.
Things turned bad after tha’ though. We headed back outside ta explore the grounds an we ran inta somethin’ truly ugly! I was runnin’ on tha flank an out of nowhere a bolt of lightning streaks across tha ground and zaps me in my sensatives before I even knew what was what! I turn ta face whatever tha’ was, and I see for tha first time what really nasty things these drow can do. They took the top half of a boy dark breed and somehow mounted on tha body of a giant spider like some kind of evil twisted stinky centaur. I know I know, I never woulda believed it either unless I’da seen it with me own eyes, but I promise ya tha’ is what was throwin’ spells at me from it’s safe little pool of acid.
Well the fight went the way it did, an in the middle of it our rogue got a bit full of himself an decided ta charge ahead an fight this dark elf caster an it’s two corpse creations. Vors, well, he didn’a make it through that fight. I do not know what tha’ little nimbly bastard was thinkin! Just cause he had gotten used to usin’ tha’ crazy axe and dagger of his didn’t make it ok for him ta rush in there alone. After it was over, Tsadok and Hured both looked him over and declared him ta be moved on ta tha next world, but I didn’t agree with tha’ particular assessment. I ran over, scooped up his limp and broken body, and ran for tha basecamp carryin’ his carcass like a sack of potatoes.
Did we revive our friendly rogue? Did we find more of them scary as hell drider things? Well lads, order this old sailor up another beer an a plate of them hot potatoes ya been chewin’ on this whole time and I’ll be glad ta finish up me tale for ya!
With the dwarf carrying the now dead gambler over his shoulder and running back to the main camp, I told the cleric of the drunken hero to go with him. We spent the next few minutes gathering up items of interest and destroying everything else. When that task was done, the pale woman, acid tongued human and I returned to the main camp. When we arrived we found that the Drow pulled off a daring attack while most of its defenders were away. It would seem that the elves managed to fend them off but not before Eviana was injured, her arm now in a sling. As I found out later, she would not allow herself to be healed until her warriors were healed first, a noble but questioning act in my view.
We later found the dwarf and the cleric of the drunken hero near the tents that contained the healers and the wounded. We were there for a few moments before Eviana arrived to giver her condolences, and ask if there was anything she could do. The dwarf, in his straight forward and gruff manner, said to ‘bring him back.’ Removing the dancing sword from the gamblers pack, I claimed that the worth of the sword should easily pay for the required scrolls. Nodding, she dispatched a mage, who teleported away, only to return later that evening with the spells required to bring him back from death and to remove any latent sickness. (PLAYER COMMENT: We sold the +1 Dancing Short Sword for a Scroll of Raise Dead, and 2 Scrolls of Restoration.)
Once the gambler returned to our camp, still a little worse for wear, I told them all that I did not want this done to me should I die in battle. The dwarf and others looked at me with furrowed brows. I had to explain that battle is where I always wished to be and it would be inevitable for me to meet my end in such a manner. To bring me back from dying at the hands of a superior foe diminishes not only the foe but me. I did begrudgingly admit that if I should trip and fall while crossing a river and were to drown, for example, . . . I suppose that I would be willing to allow for my soul to be returned to my body. (PLAYER COMMENT: I so don’t want to die, as I am really digging this character, but in the end I feel that death in combat is the ultimate goal.)
The next day, shortly after we awoke, we found that Eviana had decided to give us the morning to ourselves to rest and recuperate. This news was greatly upsetting to me as I was ready to continue my work in Gorums name and was being asked to sit the morning out. I spent my time working on the defenses of the camp repairing the damage caused by the previous days attack. Thankfully, my fortune was to change because a few hours after I had begun my work Eviana called us to her tent. It was learned that Kaerishiel had become pinned down and his rangers were in dire need of assistance. Even though part of me wanted to allow him to die because of his treatment towards us, I knew that to voice that opinion would not be very diplomatic. As I agreed to go and help, the dwarf said to let him rot. Diplomacy it would seem is not part of the dwarfs more popular traits. It didn’t help that several of the others either kept their mouths shut or that the thought of Kaerishiel dying did not bother them plain on their face. I stepped forward and voiced my acceptance to saving him a little louder and thankfully, the rest agreed with the dwarf agreeing last.
Once we learned of the location we moved forward at our highest capable speed while trying to maintain some semblance of stealth since Kaerishiel was deep in Drow occupied territory. When we arrived we could see that time was short. Kaerishiel and his rangers were holed up in some ruins using the naturally difficult terrain to their advantage. The area around their location was littered with dead Drow. All of them it would seem were killed by their cowardly bows with only a few near the ranger’s location having seen actual glorious combat. The rangers were using their cover and firing to a nearby tower attempting to stop the Drow at the top from constructing some large siege engine.
The two Drow located near the base of the tower cried out in alarm and moved forward. Their deaths were quick and soon we were at the doors. Because I had prepared for Gorums blessing while moving forward the others made it to the tower only to find the doors barred from the inside. Picking up my pace I shoulder rushed the great door and heard the snapping of wood as the bar gave way and the door swung open. (PLAYER COMMENT: DC 18 Break check and rolled a 15 on the d20. Much better than the damn stone door from the previous day.)
The Drow had actually set up a good defense with two swordsman backed by two pikeman barring entrance. Several cowardly bolts fired in at me and did considerable damage since I had not been able to right myself after destroying the door. Thankfully my preparation to slow their poisons meant that I would not risk falling asleep from their poison during the fight. Several hours later when the blessing wore off, well, I might get a good nap. As I began hacking into the swordsman I suddenly heard words of magic being spoken and suddenly I felt my muscles begin to tense up and seize. Shaking the effects off I shouted a challenge at the Drow cleric in the back of the room. Suddenly a loud explosion hit in among the swordsman and pikeman and the deafening sound causing both of the pikeman to drop their shields and weapons. Holding their hands to the sides of their head I could tell they were stunned and so I made a dash past them right at the cleric.
Gorum was definitely with me as two solid blows from the Fang brought forward his undead champions to fight alongside the rest of us. When it was evident that the way to the roof was becoming clear since the tables had turned in our favor with the loss of their warriors, the dwarf and gambler rushed to the roof killing the remaining bowman still engaged in a losing fight with the pale woman who was pounding them with her arcane bolts. As soon as I had finished the cleric, the cleric of the drunken hero joined me as we ran up the stairs to help stop the siege engine from firing on the rangers position. We arrived to find the last Drow falling from a well placed hatchet strike from the gambler, the siege engine never having fired.
Calling out to Kaerishiel and seeing his battered form emerge from the cover of their ruins allowed me a wry smile since I knew that it had to be hard for him to admit that he needed our help. Perhaps this will go some way towards smoothing out his open hostility towards us. The engine seemed to be some sort of giant bow that would fire some sort of alchemical agent attached to a giant spear. Shaking my head at the cowardly weapon I moved down to lend any assistance to the rangers along with the cleric of the drunken hero. Finding two of their group dead the cleric and I did what we could to help the living. Gorum was not willing to give his healing aid to those that used bows, but the drunken hero on the other hand was more than willing to assist. (PLAYER COMMENT: Rolled a 6 on 3d6, with the other cleric rolling a 14 or some such on 3d6.) Picking up one of their dead to throw over my shoulder we journeyed back to the main camp with Kaerishiel’s rangers.
When we arrived back at the main camp we were welcomed with cheers. It would seem that Kaerishiel was very well respected by the other elves and his loss would have devastated their morale. Eviana thanked us each in turn and even Kaerishiel gave a curt nod as he headed off to their clerics. Eviana then told us that on the next day we would be making a push to one of the larger buildings on the following day and told us to rest. Confirming that the dragon Razorhorn had not made an appearance was satisfying as I wanted to test my mettle against the great beast. It would seem that I would have to wait for that test.
The next day we had a very quick meeting with Eviana and learned that three groups were going to assault this elven building. Shalelu and her rangers were one group with Kaerishiel and his rangers as the other. Our group had the more dangerous of responsibilities as we were going to assault the front, right into its defenses. It was hoped that our attack would allow for Shalelu and Kaerishiel to gain entry from the rear after scaling its walls. To assault in this manner got my blood pumping and made my heart pound in my chest in anticipation of a glorious fight. This war had become everything that I had wanted in life, and each day brought a new and wonderful surprise.
Long before the sun began to climb in the sky our groups moved off deep into the ruins of the old city. Eventually both Shalelu and Kaerishiel broke off to approach from their respected areas, and each gave a quick farewell with a wish for success. It would seem that our saving of Kaerishiel had tempered his ire somewhat and now he begrudgingly seemed to accept that we were needed. Since we had a few minutes before the assault I asked for Gorums blessing and shared out his gift of delaying poison, and the cleric of the drunken god increased our resistance to the acid the Drow seemed to favor.
When the appointed time arrived, we began rushing forward as a group moving down the main boulevard that led to the building. Once we were close enough to see what we faced the pale woman released a ball of fire that landed among their warriors and archers. The effect was devastating as half their force fell to the spell. They responded in kind when a Drow wizard let fly a ball of fire as well. Our group fared much better, but the pain was excruciating and seemed to fully affect me, while others seemed unharmed. (PLAYER COMMENT: My d20 kicked off a 19 to a 4 and I spectacularly failed my save for full damage which took nearly 1/3 of my life.) As the others ran forward to engage the wizard and remaining foes two demonic beings moved in to engage the pale woman who I was standing near. They looked similar to the creatures we fought long ago in the tunnels beneath the Golden Goblin but this time they fell to the Fang quickly with Gorum releasing more champions to assist.
As the last creature fell, I became fatigued from the rage that had only coursed through my veins a moment earlier. Moving as quickly forward as I could I asked for Gorums blessing to heal the wounds caused from wizards arcane treachery and in turn also healed damage done to the cleric of the drunken hero who also looked burned. As I slowly moved forward I heard the dwarf call out in alarm and could hear the sound of something large moving within the darkened entrance of the building. As the others moved forward arrows began firing out from the darkness with incredible force, the acid tongued human backing out from the door with a grievous wound. Ordering the champions to attack they ran forward swinging at some as of yet unseen beast. When I finally arrived I saw a creature that stood twice as tall as I was, and it seemed to be made from elves that had been attached together. It was a horrifying sight and I quickly moved in to attack the creature. It was then that I noticed that everyone in the room could not see the creature until a wayward alchemist fire that the gambler used lit up the back room for a few seconds. By the time I had reached the creature it had fallen to the combined might of the others. Gathering us together I again asked for Gorum to heal our wounds and channeled positive energy into our group before we ventured further into the building.
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Oi shove-off barkeep, this old adventurer not be botherin’ anyone in yer fine house of spirits sir! I paid me gold, now let me an these fine princes of men (even though they be human) be while we enjoyin’ our drinks and pass about tall tales of tha old days. Those days were glorious I tell ya, I used ta be quite the adventurer ya know, before I took tha’ old arrow ta tha knee. Ruined my career it did, but tha’ be another tale for another day.
What’s tha’ ya ask, what happened ta old Vors the Gambler? Tha luck was with him tha’ night for sure gents, tha’s for sure. I carried his carcass all tha way back ta tha’ silly dew-drinker camp, had him slung over my shoulder like a sack of flour I did. Truth be told, most of tha heavy parts of him had been lopped off by them critters in tha dark, so he really wasn’t all that heavy. Methinks the worst part was how sore my feet were after runnin’ all that way in my killin’ boots. If’n I remember right, I had ta soak me dogs in a bucket of goat milk for 3 hours ta fix tha’ run I did. Thankfully Hured followed me as I ran, it was nice ta know that I had a bit of support should I run inta any more dirty shadow elves.
I almost fell as tha basecamp came inta view as I could immediately tell tha’ there had been a terrific battle here while we was out doin’ Eviana’s bidding. Nasty business tha’ fight must have been boys, cause things didn’t look like a normal fight. Now you boys haven’t seen proper fightin’ yet, either yer too young or too rich ta have spent time in the trenches, but these kind of battles have a certain look ta them. Limbs get hacked off in certain ways, bodies lay certain ways, there is just a look ta tha battlefield after it’s all said an done. This was different.
Tha first thing was that there were no dead Drow anywhere, all of their dead had been carried off. Tha bloodstains were there and wicked looking blades with tha’ nasty green ichor slathered all over laid about as evidence. Mostly though, there were many of the pasty leaf-eaters pinned ta tha walls an the ground by many, many, many wicked poisoned arrows tha’ looked way too big ta come from normal bows. Also, tha slashes on tha corpses were small. There be a lot of them, lots of clean and small cuts all over each an every body, like someone went crazy with some of tha sharpest daggers ya’d ever seen in yer life. Carts were laying on their sides, tents were on fire, it were just pure chaos lads, and it smelled even worse.
After takin’ all tha’ in, I ran for the healer’s tents in tha back of tha camp. As I ran up, Eviana was there and even she had felt the sting of a dirty dark-breed blade or two as her arm was wrapped in bloody bandages while she directed the recovery efforts. Now, I gotta say, sometimes the elves go too far. Even her bandage was made of silk, had golden threads weaved into tha linings, an had pretty little images of no less than four differn’t leaves inked inta tha fabric… I mean really guys? Believe me when I tell ya, them silly bark-munchers live so long they even have time ta make them bandages look all fancy an whatnot. Alls I could do was shake my head and try not ta say anything nasty as I needed a favor.
I pushed right past all them silly saplings, shouldering more than a couple right out of their boots, an laid Vors right at her feet. I summoned up all tha niceties and polite wordings tha I know and quietly (although I’m sure it were full of menace) but firmly suggested tha’ she make Vors be not dead. Hured says it sounded more like a rockslide shouting “BRING HIM BACK” but I’m sure his memory isn’t all tha’ great, him being human an all. NO INSULT INTENDED, no insult intended lads I know you be human as well, but by the Forge ya be a short lived race an often ya forget the details. Put yer blades away an have another drink, sheesh ya be a sensitive lot tonight.
Eviana pointed around me at tha piles of dead gits layin’ about an said she’d not be able ta do much for us. Tha’ old elf sure did change her tune fast enough once I handed over Vors fancy dancin’ sword in trade though. Ya know that thing would stand right up on it’s own and fight whatever ya told it ta? Durndest thing I ever saw. He didn’t use it much though, he preferred tha’ crazy hatchet he loved so much, but tha’ worked out just right as rain so I didn’t feel bad tradein’ it in fer his soul. Eviana found one of her better finger-wigglin’ mages an had him teleport back ta their big home town ta gather tha materials an whatever it be they use when makin’ magic. Normally I be a firm believer in steel always bein’ tha answer, but steel cannot bring a soul back ta life, so this time I had ta admit magic was a good thing ta have about.
Later tha’ night tha’ mage returned and Eviana got some of her folks to bring Vors back. Ya’d think tha’ it was a pretty complicated thing, gettin’ a soul back from tha underworld. Turns out it were only like 15 words and a pretty shiny rock an poof, back in business. Proves what I always say, greed is tha most powerful force in tha universe. Wave tha’ shiny diamond about an the Gambler would even come back from him grave ta get a chance at it! Vors looked pretty worse for wear after his trek from the underworld an all, an one of them pointy-eared clerics restored him a bit, but they said that even with their help he’d still be off his game for at least another week or two an they’d try again then. Either way, I slapped Vors on tha back and made sure he was ok before I yelled at him fer bein’ so stupid an runnin’ inta such a fight without me! It’s my job ta get hit in tha face, not his, but it sure was good knowin’ he was back as he be one solid mate ta have in a fight. Knows how a man’s spine comes apart nice an clean he does, like slicin’ up turkey dinner he’s so precise.
Anyway, back ta my story. Eviana gives us tha rest of that day off as she has ta make sure tha camp be defended an she was ta wait ta hear back from the other leaders ta see what tha next move might be. Tsadok looked like someone had kicked him in the softy-bits (if orcs have softy-bits, that be one thing I’m not so sure about) when Eviana told him to rest. Gorum has tha’ guy wrapped up so tight ta fight ya’d think he was full of bow-string on tha inside. He kept mutterin’ about blood tha’ needed spillin’ and guts tha’ needed ta see daylight an him bein’ stuck fixin’ stupid elf fences like a farmer. I swear tha’ stress vein in his forhead be shaped like a sword, an it were a poundin’ all day while he fumed about not fightin, it were a funny day.
After a couple of hours, this elf runner sprinted past our tent like a merchant’s yacht ridin’ the tide back ta port. There was a bunch of shoutin’ and yellin’ in elvish about Kaerishishishakiel or whatever bein’ in trouble an needin’ a rescue. Now, as far as this humble dwarven sailor was concerned, Kaekypoo there could rot in his own juices out there in tha ruins for all I cared. I couldn’a help but smirk as I listened ta the runner an many of tha elfy soldiers plead with Eviana ta send a detachment ta save him. She told them over an over she had no one ta spare as all bodies were needed ta secure tha camp against another attack. A sense of dread started ta grow in my belly like the stink of dead rats after a 3 month sail as things got real quiet and suddenly I heard the pitter-pat of cutesie elven booties runnin’ up ta our tent. I swore under my breath as tha runner beckoned ta us demandin’ tha’ we run to Eviana’s tent right away! Tsadok leapt right up and was out tha’ door like he had been shot out of a ballistae, I wasn’t as motivated.
Long story short, Kaerishiel, in his infinite wisdom as a military leader, had gotten himself pinned down in some old ruined towers deep in the city an was in danger of gettin’ hisself killed because of his incompetence. Eviana begged us ta save him, let him rot says I, but good ole’ Tsadok was spoilin’ for any chance ta get out of camp and kill somethin’ so he jumped right in volunteerin’ us all ta run right out an save his arse. So of course we all suited back up an headed out ta retrieve tha’ idiot elf.
We got out ta tha spot without any trouble, we avoided a couple of scoutin’ parties, but tha was about it. We could tell right away tha’ Kookyrot there was in dire straights. He an what was left of his group were holed up in this old tower tha’ was two waves shy of fallin’ down on them anyway. Them dark-breeds were in this other much nicer an fancier tower down tha way to tha south of them. Between tha towers was this killin’ field full of dead bodies so full of arrows it looked like the grasslands had grown up out here all blowin’ in tha wind and whatnot. So much blood had seeped inta tha ground it were like walkin’ in a marsh, tha ground was all spongy an muddy. I glanced at Tsadok an he was just a’grinnin’ from ear ta ear as he focused on tha dark ones tha’ stood guard outside tha southern tower. It was a fair run from our spot in tha trees ta tha’ door, an the archers millin’ about on tha second floor were gonna get plenty of shots at me soft sensitive spots as we would have ta charge through open ground ta get ta them. Oh well, it’s what they make armor for isn’t it?
So we all run at tha tower like a bunch of younglings runnin’ for dinner, an of course them black-hearted gits rained shots down on us from above. Tha only smart one of us was Malika, she let us run ahead as a distraction while she hid in tha crumblin’ remains of a third tower and lobbed magic glowin’ arrows over our heads. Tha fightin’ was close quarters and vicious, as ya’d expect with these crazy beasts. I was right about them blades: sharp, fast, and covered with more of tha’ stupid green an black poison. One of em again got a lucky shot in around my breastplate, but I swear I felt tha’ charm bracelet tha’ nice horse barbarian guy with tha horses gave me get white hot for a second and I was fine again. I was right in tha thick of it lads, an it were glorious! These devil-eyed monsters knew their way about a sword an weren’t afraid ta try an poke holes in my sails for sure! Hured was dancin’ all over tha’ battle singin’ tha praises of the Wanderin’ Hero and askin’ fer his blessings and healin’ powers, it were a wonderful time. Eventually we did what we do best, killed em all an saved tha day yet again.
Kaerishiel was able ta come out of hidin’ an I know it just grated him somethin’ awful knowin’ it was us tha’ had ta come an pull his pointy-eared butt outta tha flames. I’m sure it still bites him like hot coals on his soft and well kept elven feet tha’ he had ta thank us in public fer fixin’ his mess. Tha’ alone was worth tha trip, killin’ elves was just bonus.
What’s that? What was them Drow doin’ up in tha tower? How should I know boy, do I look like a tactician or some kind of book-readin’ magic-itian-person tha’ can just read minds? As far as fightin’ is concerned, I let folks like Tsadok or Saru worry about strategizin’ an whatnot, they just make sure tha stuff tha’ needs diein’ ends up near tha space tha’ tha end of me trusty blade will be in. I takes it from there. I don’t much worry about the large scale sorts of ideas, I just handle me own space on the battlefield an let tha rest come ta me.
Of course Kaerishiel was welcomed back with all kinds of hootin’ an hollerin’ from his boys, I guess them elves really liked him. Not a word was said about how it was us that let him keep his pale skin where it was, but we did our job and maybe earned some favor from the Elven gods along way, savin’ one of their favored sons or whatever. We patched ourselves up, cleaned up our gear an headed back ta tha tents ta get some much-needed shuteye before whatever we’d be facin’ tha next day.
A runner dragged us outta our beds well before the sun even had tha good sense to open his eyes so we could be included in tha battle plans for tha day. Tha plan was ta attack this academy building deep in Drow territory in this sort of three-pronged attack. Shalelu and Kaekeater-ishiel would each lead a group around back of this big buildin’ an scale up tha back while some hapless group of idiots got stuck playin’ decoy stormin’ tha front gates out in tha open… Tha’s right, this hapless group of idiots got stuck with tha’ brilliant plan. I was hoppin’ up an down waving my arms and shoutin’ ta be heard, voicin’ my objections, but these tall elves kept just steppin’ in front of me so no one could see me! Chargin’ the front gates, really? Of course, as I looked about me at what was left of Eviana’s “army”, even for a race tha’ always looks young, these soldiers looked more like saplings playin’ at soildierin’ rather than a presentable army. I guess tha’ if there was a group there tha’ had any chance of strollin’ up ta tha front gates and knockin’ all polite as you please and makin’ it back out alive, well it would be us. Alls I could do was hang me head and make peace with good Father of the Forge an pray for a glorious death so he’d reuse me when makin’ the next round of dwarves.
Now, bein’ ambushed an scrappin’ fer yer lives be one thing, yer blood be pumpin’ in yer veins an all ya can think about is rippin’ his throat out before he does it ta you! But starin’ down tha valley, lookin’ at an armed force ready an waitin’ to repel all boarders, well tha’ there be somethin’ totally different. All tha different things tha’ might happen play through yer mind while you be tryin’ ta keep yerself from runnin. Keepin’ tha’ fear bundled up an hidden down deep knowin’ any one lucky shot might be tha last, it makes for a tough few minutes before everythin’ starts kickin’ off. HAH BOY! You have no fear?? Then I says ya’ve never been in a real fight other than scrappin’ with yer infant brothers fer room at yer mother’s teet! Every warrior, except may Tsadok tha’ spent his days tryin’ ta find new ways ta get inta battle, knows fear before a battle. Even if ya have no fear for yer own death, a real warrior fears tha’ he might make a mistake an get his mates killed. Ya may not be worried about yer soul after ya die, but ya should always fear how yer death leaves a hole in the wall, a hole tha’ might let the tide sweep away all yer companions. Think on tha’ ya snotty little imp before ya speak up ta tha likes of me like tha’ again. The wrap on this sword handle has seen more bloodshed in tha last decade than you’ll likely see in yer whole life. Show some respect.
While we were standin’ there in tha pre-dawn hours, waitin’ for the signal to attack, I was so intent upon goin’ over my plans and seein’ the possibilities in me mind tha’ I only barely noticed tha’ Malika had started weavin’ her hands in front of her an mutterin’ arcane symbols with furious focus. She was concentratin’ so hard beads of sweat had sprung up on her brow as she made sure tha’ every single word came out right. There’s no shame in admittin’ I almost stained my trousers as a giant ball of fire burst inta life over my head with a roar! I stared in wonder as tha’ big ball of doom flew overhead and zoomed towards them evil guys down tha way. I turned an looked back at Malika, askin’ when she had picked up tha’ little gem of a spell, an all she would do is smile and put her finger ta her lips.
What I was not so happy about, is after tha fireball landed and wreaked havoc on those dark-breeds, one of them also knew tha same spell and flung it back at us. Luckily, we were hero enough ta avoid tha worst of tha’ could of done ta us, but still it rattled me ta know tha’ this was a whole different class of bad guy!
We were able ta wrap up tha outside defenders with little effort, a few scrapes and cuts but otherwise, the fireball did its job very well. On the inside however, was something very different. It was very large and looked like it was a pile of elven corpses all stuck together and moving. There were many hands holding several longbows firing at a rapid pace, firing arrows tha size of oxen. Only Tsadok an I were really able to handle tha fight as no one else in tha group could see in tha pitch black of the cavern. Our friend tha monk took one of those giant arrows to the chest an it nearly pinned him ta tha wall behind him. We brought tha monster down, but tha’ was one mean monster!
Further in the building we discovered a three entrances to go through. Deciding to push straight we entered into a smoke filled room that contained a few old tables and a glowing rune. As we moved into the room fanning out to try and keep everyone visible in the smoke a bird like cackle began. A strange arcane rune carved in the floor flared and suddenly there was a large bird like creature in its place. The cleric of the drunken hero yelled that it was a Vrock but by then it had run forward and attacked. Unsure of what the creature was I began raging at its even being present. With glee the dwarf, gambler and I cut it down with little damage received back. For its size, the Vrock was rather agile but could not stand to the constant attack we gave it.
Leaving that room we returned to the main alcove containing the three sets of doors. While the dwarf and I regained our breath the gambler moved about unlocking and disarming a magical trap on one of the doors. He also pointed out that the door we were about to enter seemed to have bloody footprints leading from it heading to the door that contained the trap.
Once the dwarf and I were ready we pushed on to the room that was not trapped and found a small hall that had the missing elves we were sent to hopefully rescue. Unfortunately some one had recently slit their throats and they were all dead. A true coward that would kill a helpless foe. Pushing on we entered into a large room similar in size to the last room where the Vrock was. In its center was a pool of water that moved from one side to the other, as if some invisible being was swimming back and forth. The rest of the room contained rows of seating that rose higher the further away from the center of room. As the dwarf moved to the waters edge, two waves of water emerged, faces barely seen within the water as if it were a creature. They attacked but were easily dispatched. Once they had died, the water no longer moved and the dwarf claimed they were happy to die as they had been held as prisoners here to torture others. Not understanding how he knew that, I had no reason to doubt him.
Continuing back out we journeyed to the last structure the doors led to. The trap had not reset and so we entered into another small room similar to where the elves had been stacked and chained. Thankfully this room was empty but we heard the sounds of the drows harsh but musical language. The dwarf, who was versed in their tongue said something about them trying to escape through some sort of portal. Not wanting to loose our quarry I began bashing down the door before the gambler had a chance to pick its lock. It fell to a second shoulder rush and entered into a pristine and undamaged room. To the left of the door way was a pool of water that came from the wall and to the right was a gated wall that was closed. No Drow were seen, only a small elven woman who sat near the pool asking for our help.
She claimed to be a prisoner here and unable to leave because of the foul magics of the drow. After the water creatures we just fought I wasn’t surprised. She then said she would help us get to the drow if one of us would enter the pool to retrieve her leaf. I admit that sounded strange but everything elves do is strange to me. Knowing that the dwarf had some affinity with the water now, and I did not know how to swim I asked if he would go retrieve it. The dwarf did not look pleased at having to do so, but his new role of all things relating to water made him the obvious choice, even if he didn’t want to admit it. Before he was able to leap into the pool the scene changed, as if it was all a dream. Instead of a small pool of clear water with a elven woman standing next to it, there was a giant . . . fish. It sprung tentacles and seemed to be intelligent and not like most animals, not that I would ever understand a fish.
The dwarf and I began to engage the creature while tentacles flailed about the room. Its reach was immense and the gambler found out that it also contained some sort of disease that transfered to him by touch. Even the dwarf and I could feel the aura of disease by standing near to the creature, our flesh began to bubble with small tentacles pushing out from the skin. Twice during the fight I noticed the dwarf shake off the effects of something that seemed to be bothering him. I later found out that the creature spoke to him and tried to convince him that his allies were in fact his enemies. The fight did not last long and seemed to die rather quickly for something so large. The gambler was healed by the cleric of the drunken hero, the disease having caused his skin to dry up and crack.
When the creature died though it revealed that room was in fact damaged and old like the rest of the structure. At the opposite end of the room from the pool was a shimmering portal to looked to lead somewhere. Fortunately in front of it was a rather well muscled drow and several other drow warriors and their cowardly archers. The large fellow said something about Nolveniss not being able to wait around to wait for our deaths or something to that effect. At that point both he and the dwarf charged. (PLAYER COMMENT: Its so annoying to use Seize the Initiative on yourself and roll a 1 and a 2 on 2d20 meaning my initiative was a 4, while the dwarf never seems to go below 20. I feel so sloooooow sometimes.) I did not want to interfere with the dwarfs honorable fight so I moved past to engage the rest in the room. I laughed at their inability to land a solid blow, my defense and skill with a blade easily beyond their ability.
It was during the fight that I noticed that the magical portal seemed to flicker for a second. Fearing that it might close before we had the chance to move through it I did what I could to hold the remaining drow off so that the others could get through. It would seem their bloodlust was up and would not leave the drow behind and instead finished them off before heading to the portal. The gambler had run through only moments before but when I arrived I did not see him. Only a slow moving elf who talked with no emotion. His gaze was to the sky but mine was to the city I now stood in. The city looked like Celwynvian, only untouched by the ravages of time. I stood there agape for a few moments before I realized that the others had not followed me through when they should have. I approached the elf, following his gaze to a shadow like blot that looked like the one that was above Riddleport for so long. As I touched the elf to pull his gaze away from the blot he vanished in a cloud of smoke. A few seconds later, he reappeared and reacted like he did when I first stumbled into his room.
Before I could ask any questions the gambler appeared in the doorway saying that he had been here for almost a quarter an hour and wonder what had taken so long. When I told him that I followed him through the portal only a few seconds behind him, he furrowed his brow. So we stood and waited for the others. They all arrived within a minute of each other but several minutes after I had run through.
We spent the next few minutes talking with the elf in the room, or at least we tried. Once the dwarf realized that he could make them disappear by poking them he had found a calling that made him forget of the sea. Eventually we found that we were in fact standing in Celwynvian before Earthfall, when the Starstone stuck. Although the reactions from the elves we spoke with all seemed to be emotionless ghosts. They claimed to have seen their darker skinned cousins from time to time. That they were rather rude individuals but it was their way and the elves here passed off that attitude as normal.
We stood there in the middle of the city for a while trying to figure out what to do. It would seem that Shalelu and Kaerishiel had been taken prisoner by this Nolveniss. The gambler claiming to have seen them being dragged through the portal as the illusion dropped after the fight with the fish. In a odd twist of irony, time was short for them. Thinking that since we went through a portal in the Academy of Arts in our time, we should investigate the Academy of Arts in this time. When we arrive we saw that many elves were stepping into the same portal we had used to get here, but the vision of the other side was different. Trying to question those around us, when the dwarf was not poking them out of existence for a few seconds, we learned that we should talk with either Ekardani or Telgoren. They seemed to know what was going on and Telgoren was closer to our location so we went there.
It would seem that Telgoren was not an elf, but a rather stately looking human. As I later learned he was in fact Azlanti, a mythical race that no longer walked on Golarion. He claimed that all the studies were being done at the observatory and that we could probably find what we needed there. Learning where it was located in the city, we raced to the observatory as quickly as we could, the idea of rest never crossing my mind.
We arrived at the observatory and rushed inside. Once inside we found a group of drow that had been waiting for us. Knowing that time was short for Shalelu and Kaerishiel I stepped to the side allowing for the pale woman to fling another ball of arcane fire at the group so the fight would be quick. As it turned out the drow were quicker and so we did it the old fashioned way. I was happier this way but in the back of my mind I knew we had to hurry. Once the fight was done and those that needed healing received it we split up to find our quarry.
Pushing to one side of the structure I found what I was looking for. It wasn’t Shalelu, Kaerishiel, or this Nolveniss fellow. Instead I found what could only be Razorhorn. A magnificent green dragon with a sharp horn occupied a landing within the observatory. With a quick thanks to Gorum for finally finding the creature I grew in size and bellowed a warcry that shook the very walls. (PLAYER COMMENT: HOLY CRAP that dragon hits hard. I so expected to die on this fight. By the time I even reached the creature to swing I was down 51 of 73 health. Nothing like failing a reflex save from the dragon’s breath.) The others rushed into the room while I did what I could but found that its hide was as strong as steel. Several times the Fang bounced from its hide. Gorum was with me during the fight for one of his champions appeared after a very telling blow by me. The cleric of the drunken hero was doing all he could to keep those near the creature alive. Even the acid tongued human was shouting his words of rough encouragement. Eventually though I brought the creature down where it collapsed to the ground with a loud crash. (PLAYER COMMENT: I think I only managed to hit the thing 3 times in the entire fight. One crit, and two regular hits. I just got the glory hound award as I actually got the killing blow in. Most of the damage done was the dwarf and the sorcerer.)
Stopping only to catch our breath, Gorum blessed us with his healing energies before we began running up the stairs to the roof. When we arrived at the roof I learned that I would be of no help during this fight as the Nolveniss fellow was flying in the air above one of the odd pieces of artwork that moved about on the roof. As the gambler and acid tongued human moved about by leaping over vast distances to try and close with this man and one of his men I began cutting the bonds that held Shalelu, Kaerishiel and two other elven rangers. Before I was able to free the two rangers a ball of fire landed among us killing the two rangers and gravely injuring those of us near the stairs at the roof. The dwarf was using one of the cowardly bows that he grabbed from the corpse of the giant creature only earlier today. Sadly it was the only way to fight the drow as his ability to fly made any true combat impossible. I will have to work on remedying that, for I will not use the weapon of a coward.
In time the man fell to the dwarfs arrows, as did large rocks from the sky into the city. As the body of the dead drow hit and fell to a lower rooftop, the acid tongued human seemed to leap down, from ledge to ledge to the corpse. Kaerishiel yelled to him to hurry and find the key or we would all perish. Looking up I could see the Starstone burning as it fell, and it was much bigger than the stone that hit Devils Elbow. Looking back at the acid tongued human he had grabbed the body of the drow and with key in hand, scaled the walls back to us like a spider. With a bright flash the key activated and we found ourselves standing back in the ruined room where we had fought the muscular drow.
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Huh? What be ye on about there Sparky? Aye, I’m tha great and famous Cap’n Coldforge tha’ ye be lookin’ for. Coldest heart tha’ ever set sail upon those beautiful blue waves out tha door there. Of course I have a ship, the Dancin’ Maiden docked out past the last berth there, fastest ship in port right now I swear it by me squinty right eye I does! No, I’m not takin’ any passengers right now, I’m in this hell hole of a port for some business of me own an not interested in any fares, so bugger off an leave an old sailor alone while I entertain these fine folk with a yarn or two about me days as an adventurer.
Now tha’ I have my beer (thank ya barkeep, ya be servin’ only the best ta me an my men) where did I leave off with me story last night? Oh aye, tha’ crazy walkin’ death machine with way too many arms an mouths an whatnots… So yeah tha’ thing died after Tsadok an I trimmed its branches back a bit. I can remember how tha room looked in tha flickerin’ light from tha’ crazy firebomb Vors smashed up against tha wall. There be three ancient stone doors starin’ back at us in the darkness; one door ahead an one standing at odd angles off ta either side of us. Not bein’ very creative types of adventurers, we decided ta just plow ahead inta tha’ center door an see what might be lurkin’ there. Ta my surprise tha door swung open rather easily, I were expectin’ ta have ta budge ‘n grudge it tha hard way. Ya know, just ta mention it now tha’ I think about it, them Elves don’t make a lick of sense. They be spendin’ hours an hours makin’ the finest gaudy baubles or decoratin’ a shield with spidery filigree so looks like real leaves adorn their armor, but they cannot put a buildin’ together to last any real length of time. Beautiful swords they can make, but their old city there had fallen apart at tha seams. A respectable dwarf city will last thousands an thousands of years lads, no matter how long it stays buried, but not an Elf city, not made ta last at all. So I was surprised when tha door slid right open on those hinges as quiet as can be.
Inside I nearly choked as a thick cloud of smoke hung in the air, so thick even with my ability ta see in tha dark I couldn’t see tha end of me nose! Ta make it even worse, there be a thick scent of decay and bile tha’ just clung ta everything an made ya want ta run out an toss yer mornin’s eatin’s right away. Somethin’ foul (HAH an as it turned out somethin’ FOWL, HAH oi I crack meself up I does) had made this room it’s home, an it was somethin’ nasty.
Tsadok, his military mind always on point an thinkin’ ahead, quietly snorted tha’ we should all stay very close as it were too dark an smoky ta see. Suddenly there be a flash off ta our left as some runes on tha ground lit up. Out of tha darkness a giant half-vulture-half-beastynastyugly rips inta us and starts rippin’ this way an tha’ with it’s sharp talons an beak. Hured shouted out tha’ it were a Vrock, as if tha’ helped me any. I wouldn’t know the word Vrock any more than I would know the nine Hells (at least back then, I knows the Hells pretty well these days) so I did whats I always does, put tha pointy end of me sea-blade inta the soft bits of whatever be standin’ before me. For such a smelly beast, it went down without much of a fight. Tsadok an I had gotten pretty in step after so much killin’ together, so we were able ta distract it an take advantage of tha openins back an forth until it fell.
What I can tell ya, is tha’ if’n it weren’t bad enough ta fight such a nasty and slimy baddy there in tha dark, it be ten times worse ta fight it when yer own cleric decides it be time ta call down tha wrath of his worshipfulness in tha middle of battle, only ta find out tha’ his god may not like yer own particular feelings about things. I don’t know what spell Hured called down, somethin’ about smitin’ his enemies an all tha’t holy clap-trap, all I know is tha’ whatever he cast nearly knocked me an Tsadok off our feet as well. Burned tha nasty right off me hide tha’ spell did, an I thinks he did it on purpose I does, ta make a point tha’ we needed ta change our ways an whatnot. In response, tha Vrock cast a spell (who knew giant scaly birdies had it in em ta cast magics… hrmm) an suddenly there be eight of him runnin’ about. It took us a while ta clear out tha extra mirror images, but it was sure a surprise fer this dwarf.
Tha’ nest room turned out ta be a dead end, so we turned about an headed back ta try them other two doors. Vors started pokin’ about an I heard a low whistle of respect escape his lips as he admired a trap tha’ was set by another expert. He tried explainin’ the intricacies an how many different ways it would have killed us, but me eyes just glazed over an he finally got ta tha point of deactivatin’ tha darn thing. We decided ta come back ta tha’ door as somethin’ really nasty might be behind it, which of course made Tsadok kick tha’ wall he was so frustrated knowin' there might be a nasty back there. In hindsight, I almost wish we woulda stayed with tha' door an not skipped ta the third door, as what I saw behind tha' third door will haunt me forever.
This may seem strange comin’ from me, especially because I haven’t been bashful in talkin’ about how I hates me them bark-biters, but no one deserves what them poor souls got. Tha door opened up ta a room about the size of this one here, without all tha tables and bar and whatnot. We barely had room ta open tha door it was so packed in with bodies. Bodies shackled ta tha wall, hangin’ from tha ceilin’ with tha arms wrenched out of their sockets, bodies on tha floor chained ankle ta ankle ta iron rings in tha floor. The dark breed had captured these poor souls, tormented and tortured them, then left them all ta rot in that hell. Everythin’ was covered with their own blood an feces covered by layers of dirt and sweat. Tha bad part is it looked like they had made it up until tha’ very day, until them heartless drow walked through and slit every throat from ear ta ear just before we started our assault on tha buildin’. They died badly friends, badly indeed, and though I’ll not be one ta shed a tear for any elf tha’ dies in battle with me blade, never would I wish for or allow tha’ sort of death ta be tha end of them. On tha’ Tsadok an I certainly agree.
Shouldering through all tha’ dead elf flesh, we found a doorway tha’ led ta another room beyond it. Tha’ room had a big pool of water in tha center with raised seatin’ like an amphitheater on either side of it. Now, I be an expert on all tha things tha’ water be able ta do, an it were sloshin’ about left an right all on its own there in a certainly non-natural way. So bein’ the observant one I made sure tha rest of me mates knew what was what. I guess they had already seen it for themselves as tha smirks and glances tha’ fired back in me direction all but screamed out “NO KIDDING?!?”. Bein’ tha expert on water, I approached tha pool an two giant water elementals sprung right up an screeched at me. I wouldna have known what they were sayin’ but me darling Sea-Blade there helps me ta understand tha water speech, doesn’t help me speak it, but helps me get the gist of what gets barked at me. Them two waves were all accusin’ me an tha group of keepin’ them captive in tha’ pool forever an for torturin’ them. Obviously they had tha wrong bunch of honorable people, but since no one could tell them tha’, well tha’ only left tha one option of forceful diplomacy. Sadly for them sea-critters, me trusty blade there gives me a huge advantage when on the opposin’ side to Aquans. Tha’ fight didn’t last long, nor did it end in their favor as ya can see.
We searched about an found that again this room led to nowhere, so we turned about again an squeezed past all them dead soldiers tryin’ not ta get too much git-blood on us. That only left tha one door with tha super trap Vors had already disabled. It would seem tha’ Vors is more than just yer run of the mill gambler, he also seems handy with other “tools of the trade” as he calls em. He had just bent and inserted his picks inta tha door when Tsadok (having decided tha’ this process was taking entirely too long) roared as he crashed his armored bulk right inta tha crease between tha doors. Vors nearly lost an eye as them picks came flyin’ right back outta tha’ door at him.
Them doors crash open an we pile inta tha room expectin’ a fight as we’d clearly heard voices an tha sounds of troops in here. Instead we found a room tha’ looked like it hadn’t been touched by tha ages. Gleaming white marble, gold runes in tha walls, fancy hangin’ light racks full of tha brightest candles ya ever saw, it were amazin. An ta top it off, sittin’ just as pretty as ya please on this little stool over next ta another pool of water was this little elf lady spirit thing. She was a yappin’ on about bein’ trapped here throughout tha ages by evil Drow magics and whatever, let her rot says I in a loud voice, but no tha group was just heartbroken for tha’ poor pointy-eared snake. All ya have ta do is get my magic leaf from tha pond right there and I’m free she says. Again, I assert tha’ she can get it herself if’n it’s so important, but Tsadok gives me these eyes tha’ look like a puppy dog just got run over by tha milk cart, all bubblin’ up with tears and eye-slime he was, so I sighed and dragged my feet over ta tha edge. At tha’ point, all up was down and right was left as suddenly tha biggest catfish ya have ever seen exploded outta tha water and tried ta gulp me down like a furry dwarf snack. Tentacles were a’whippin’ about smackin’ everyone anywhere armor wasn’t coverin’ it’s bulk slammin’ against us up front, an tha smell made me want ta cough up me stomach an walk right away.
Again though, my Sea-Blade just started singin’ in me head and I was beltin’ out tha best of them shanties I love so much as I went ta work on tha’ big fish. Everyone was helpin’ an I don’t think they noticed when tha’ thing almost got in me dwarf noggin an convinced me tha’ they was tha enemy. Lucky for them when I get angry it gets a lot harder ta convince me ta change me mind, but tha’ fish-fellow there certainly had a convincin’ story ta tell. Anyway I shook it off and we all had a hand in guttin’ him and dispellin’ tha illusion he/she/it had created about the elf-lass an the nice an clean room. Once it died, tha room went right back ta bein’ in tha shambles tha’ everything else was in.
Vors popped open tha’ door in tha back of tha room just in time ta see a bunch of dark-breeds draggin’ Shelalu and Kaerishumpy inta some swirly-whirly portal. We fought a bunch of Drow tha’ were very keen not ta let us inta tha’ portal, an some of them were even competent with a blade, but mostly we just heroically swept them aside an went after Shelalu inta tha portal. I had ta teach this one tall muscular dark-blood what it really meant ta be a barbarian. He thought tha’ just cause he had a big sword and wore light armor he was good enough ta stand toe ta toe with tha likes of me, pahshaw he had that wrong idea. Tsadok even stepped around him ta make sure we weren’t interrupted in our greatsword duel, and in tha end, I split tha’ dirty mouth-breather from tops ta tails with me favorite move, I calls it “Tha Tsunami”! Some day when yer strong enough I’ll shows it ta ya lad. I swear on tha Great Forge had it just been Kaerishupper I woulda turned right back and let his carcass get what it deserved, but dangit Shelalu had ta go an get herself captured too, so I had ta go help her.
At that point, things started ta happen tha’ I just flat don’t understand. If ya ever track down Malika she can give ya a class on whether we travelled through time or ta some pocket dimension or whatever, it’s all beyond me. All I know is we ended up in a place tha’ looked like Celwynvian before tha StarFall. The elves were there, but they were just apparitions tha’ ya could poke an they’d disappear for a few seconds then reappear havin’ forgotten anything they just did. It was bizarre, an most of it didn’t make sense ta me. We ran around tha town a lot, asked a lot of tha not-there elves if they had seen tha Drow and then ran around some more. Finally thought we had tracked them down in some fancy-shmancy buildin’ across the town, an instead ran inta that stinkin’ Razorhorn dragon tha’ we’d been lookin’ for. I wish ya could’ve heard Tsadok shoutin’ his praises an thanks ta Gorum for tha chance ta fight tha’ big lizard. I think he was all rainbows and unicorns for weeks afterwards just cause he got ta lay his blade ta dragon flesh for tha first time. It was all hands on deck ta fight tha’ evil monster, but in tha end, Tsadok’s Fang-blade was tha last stroke as he severed it’s big head from tha rest of him. Or her, I guess, I never checked it’s dragon underbits ta see if it were a he or a she, I just assumed it were a him all these years but I really don’t know.
Right after Razorhorn fell, we took a moment ta let the battle fatigue wash over us while Hured administered some words of healin’ upon us. Gorum must have been pleased with Tsadok as even he was able ta pass around some channeled heals on our weary bunch. We had grown accustomed ta our monk spouting off a litany of things we’d done wrong after every battle, but even he was looking a little worse for wear after that fight. Not to mention, I am pretty sure I saw smoke or steam comin’ waftin’ up off of Malika’s fingers she had been slingin’ so many spells. All of us were about out of resources, but we knew we had ta push on.
We ran up a long long long staircase ta this room that had giant planets an stars floatin’ around on wires and whatnot, it looked like some kind of galaxy or somethin’ all modeled up ta be studied. There were some mages waitin’ for us usin’ Shelalu and Kippypants there as bait. I flung myself at tha closest one before he was really able ta get any spells off, but his friends sure did scorch my hide before me mates made it up them last stairs. It worked out though, tha group split up ta tackle the three little mages while we figured out how ta handle the big guy floatin’ around tha room. I remembered them bows I’d picked up from tha’ crazy elf-corpse zombie thing and in me last few moments of rage, was able ta muster tha strength ta use tha bow ta plant arrows solidly in that mage’s frail body. Arrow after arrow followed right inta his chest, as it turned out I seem ta had quite the affinity for archery, and I finally brought him down after what felt like an eternity.
As ya can see, we escaped outta there an made it back ta our rightful time, once again avoiding all kinds of death an mayhem tha’ seems ta follow us around like a hungry cat. An tha’ wraps us me story for tonight lords an ladies, I’ll be back tomorrow night with tha next installment, should ya happen ta be about. So I’ll see ya then!
Standing once again in the chamber that we fought the fleeing Drow in hours earlier we took stock of our wounds. Shalelu and Kaerishiel were both wounded and somewhat charred around the edges from the arcane ball of fire. Asking for Gorums blessing I healed those of us that were still gravely injured before we began the trek back to the main camp. Stepping outside of the building we were surprised to see that it was still early morning, the sun not having moved very far in the sky at all. Setting that aside we set off at a brisk pace to return to the main camp.
Again, as when we rescued Kaerishiel from his predicament we were greeted with cheers. Evianna, now with both arms working, came forward to greet us as we entered. Pleasantries aside, I was ready to continue the work of prosecuting this war. Spells be damned, I could still breathe and swing a sword, and Drow still bled. Sadly it would seem that the loss of their leadership meant the Drow were being routed, the war it would seem was over.
Because of this new and terrible development, it was decided that a great feast and celebration would take place this evening. The day it would seem was to ourselves. Before I left I gave Kaerishiel a curt nod and was surprised when he extended his hand. Giving a warriors shake and a quick smile to the mouth agape Shalelu, I retired to our tent, were we decided to go through our spoils of war and see if there was anything worth handing out. The only item of interest to me was the signet ring of the late Nolveniss Azrinae which I pocketed, as well as a pouch containing the crushed remains of diamonds which I may need in the future as components for my divine spells.
Since I was still sore from the earlier fights I decided to rest and quickly dozed off to sleep. The dreams were not pleasant dreams, torture, darkness and evil. When I awoke it was early in the afternoon and after a quick dip in the cool waters of the stream nearby I decided to pass the time working on my gear and getting it cleaned off. A large amount of blood was caked onto the armor, mine and Drow. The pale woman offered to do it with her magics but I declined as I needed something to pass the time and allowed me to shake off the dreams.
Eventually the evening arrived and having nothing better to wear than my now cleaned armor I went as I always did, ready for battle. The dwarf did not hesitate in his desire to find drinks and was followed quickly by the acid tongued human. Even the cleric of the drunken hero tagged along, his large stein in his hands. The rest of us moved about the festivities on our own. Several elven hands slapped my back and a few warriors shakes were given, but it was all somewhat depressing for me. A celebration at the end of conflict did not sit well with my emotions. The true celebration was during battle, fighting for ones life. Eventually I ran into Shalelu and some of her rangers, and she handed me one of the many drinks being passed around. Old habits dying hard, I asked for Gorums blessing and removed any impurities within the drink. Shalelu did not ask why I did this and she didn’t seem offended by the act. It was during this time that I could hear the loud and boisterous singing from the dwarf over the din of those talking. Shalelu gave a laugh, and all I could do was shake my head. His singing was . . . not entirely good.
After an hour of small talk the actual meal began and once again, I asked for Gorums blessing before digging in. Its not that I distrusted the elves or that any one here would desire to poison my food but having grown up in Riddleport, it was generally a safe thing to do. Besides, Gorum did not seem to mind giving his blessing. The food was typical elven fare, which meant bland and mostly plant. Once dinner was over Evianna stood and proclaimed that she would like to present awards to those in her service that had done great deeds for the elves in securing their victory. Standing, I looked about to finally meet these other elves, since I had only met Shalelu and Kaerishiel. I was rather surprised when in fact Evianna was looking at us.
She handed items of great import to her people to our group as a way of offering thanks for our assistance. I have a strong feeling that if it were not for our actions this war would not have turned out as it had. Regardless, the elves were rather pleased and I was presented with a piece of bone that was discovered by the elves long ago in the possession of one who wore black iron armor. Evianna knew that it was a item of great magic but she did not know what it was until she had seen me wield the Fang of Kathalphas. The piece of bone set perfectly onto the end of the blade. As I placed the piece onto the end of Fang it burst into flame along its hilt and was uncomfortable to hold. The heat that radiated within the sword as I gripped its pommel matched the fury in my heart when in battle. A fine gift indeed.
Eventually the evening had turned into night, and then into early morning when I retired back to the tent to sleep. Instead of dreams of glory and war as I hoped after finding another piece of the sword, I was instead given dreams of torture, darkness and evil, again. The dreams seemed familiar and yet distant, an unknown vision given to me by Gorum? A warning? Unsure of what the dreams meant I returned to my morning routine and offered thanks to Gorum for allowing me to fight another day and to hopefully find The battle.
Returning to Eviannas area in the camp to figure out what was planned for the day I found the dwarf passed out on one of the tables. Several mugs of ale and empty bottles of wine scattered about his body. Instead of finding Evianna, I found one of her many advisors who asked that I remain in camp as Evianna and the others had gone to the Academy of Arts building where the portal was found. I also learned that Evianna’s camp was being torn down, albeit slowly, for their return trip Crying Leaf.
Frustrated at having to wait, I went back to our camp and began the same process of taking down our tent. I let the others know what was going on and most seemed eager to go, the belief that we would also be returning to Crying Leaf. Little did I know that we were in fact not going to be going to Crying Leaf. I decided to pass the remainder of our time off by getting used to the new weight and length of the Fang. Picking out a tree that had seen substantial damage when the Drow had attacked the main camp previously, I began “sparring” with the tree. I admit that the flames that licked off the blade continually tried to ignite the tree, and several times I stopped to create water to douse those flames. The heat from the pommel remained but I could tell that in time, I would grow accustomed to the discomfort.
I spotted Evianna and her cadre of elves as they approached the camp and decided to walk down to meet up with them to learn what I could as we marched back into camp. Evianna claimed that a new development had arisen and that she would like to discuss our helping them yet again. I noticed that there was a rather disheveled looking elf in the group that had returned with Evianna, which was odd since they generally very fastidious in their appearance. Nodding in agreement to her question I followed her back to her tent. I seemed to surprise her when she turned and found me standing there, it would seem that she had intended on talking later but my eagerness to do something moved her schedule forward a little.
As her stewards gathered the others, I kicked the dwarf to wake him from his slumber. The man could put away alcohol I will grant that. It took a few minutes but we all gathered together to hear Evianna’s newest plea for assistance. It turned out that the portal was active again, but led to the Drow capital, or at least, one of their major cities. Because there was no evidence or explanation as to what the Drow were doing in Celwynvian she wanted us to go through the portal to learn what we could. When I asked where this city was located she told me that the Drow lived deep underground. I raised an eyebrow and stole a glance at the dwarf who seemed to push the fog of alcohol away for a second.
Not that I wouldn’t love running through their city and cutting down every Drow I saw, but I seriously doubted that we would be able to go. Especially since none of us were, in fact, Drow, and I let Evianna know this. She smiled and said that it was believed with certain magics we would in fact take on the appearance of Drow that they were holding the corpses of. The other eyebrow went up at that statement and I didn’t have to look at the dwarf to see his displeasure of that idea. I heard it. If a person could actually spit venom, I’m sure the dwarf would have. In fact I think that everyone in the immediate camp know knew of the dwarfs displeasure at said idea.
For several tense minutes we discussed the merits of the idea and it eventually came down to the fact that one of the Drow had the capability to pull stars from the sky and drop them wherever they pleased. This cowardly act did not bode well for any race. The elf that explained how it would work, last and what it would take to loose the illusion was the rather odd looking elf that had returned with Evianna. Once I was assured that the disguise would work and that I could gleefully kill any Drow without fear of discovery I was in. Granted killing the Drow might bring about reprisal for the death not so much because I’m a half-orc. It took some serious brow beating and many levels of guilt were used but we eventually got the dwarf to agree to go. His martial skill is paramount to our success and I could only do so much.
The appointed time came and the magics were performed and even though in many ways I felt the same, I could feel the evil of the man whose guise I now wore. Not to mention I gained knowledge in a few arcane tricks, and understood their language.
The decision was to play at being chased by Kaerishiel and his rangers through the portal where they would retreat once we were in. A ruse that in many ways was hard to stomach as I had NEVER run from a fight, but run I did. Once through we joined up with a merchant who was carrying supplies to the city and his advice of working for the house he worked for was the best idea. With House Azrinae failing in their assault on the surface world, House Vonnarc had become the more powerful house. It was suggested that we convince the Slave Mother of House Vonnarc to allow us to work for them. Along the way we learned that one Alevra Azrinae, the matron of the house, and her son Cardrinerc were still around. If it was Azrinae that was behind the weapon then using an apparent rift between houses might allow us to wipe Azrinae from history.
The city was magnificent and disturbing all at the same time. House Vonnarc was no different and they seemed to use creatures as slaves. Cruelty it would seem is all that a drow feels, but power is what they desire. Easy emotion to manipulate I hope. The meeting with the Slave Mother went well I would guess as we were welcomed into House Vonnarc just not with open arms.
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“…an there be I a’flying the skull and bones
the fearsome pirate Cap’n Rolfe I be!
Pass the rum an break them stones
a pile of gold and a pirates life for me…”
Bggglrlrgrlrlrllll whatcha be interruptin’ me singin’ for ya scurvy blackguard! I be famous for me singin’ says I, don’t go interruptin’ me when I be in full swing an so in tune. “OOOOOOOOOHHHH so pass the rum an hang tha lights…” Oh by tha briny gods lad what be ya goin’ on about that’s so important an old sailor can’t even finish his lively tune? What’s tha’? Ahhh well why didn’t ya say so in tha first place ya dolt, of course I be willin’ ta talk about me adventurin’ days. Was ya here last night? Ah tha’s great, I’ll just pick up where I left off then…
So after all tha’ runnin’ an fightin’ we finally got back ta our rightful place an time. We were a motley lookin’ group I can say, like tha rats runnin’ from tha bilge we was, but we lived an tha’s what be important for sure. We headed back ta tha elfy camp out there in tha woods hualin’ Shalelu and Kaerishiel between us as they’d had one heck of a day. As we dragged our sorry skins back inta camp we were greated with cheers an huzzahs all about for a change. While we was off huntin’ down them crazy dark-skins the war took a turn for tha better an the Drow seem ta have been routed. Evianna reported tha’ the evil ones were fleein’ in every direction and makin’ full ahead for their home towns. Of course it was because of us ya idiot, we was tha mighty heroes savin’ what couldn’t be saved an all tha’ silly stuff. Without us, them elves woulda lost everythin’, or so tha’s how I tell it.
I stole a quick glance at ole Tsadok there, an I could tell tha’ this turn of events really did not sit well with him. I was hopin’ ta sit around a fire and swap body counts with him, but tha news tha’ tha war was about over really spun him down inta a dark an foul mood. I’ve seen hurricanes tha’ didn’t have as many dark clouds across their face as tha’ orc did tha’ night. So I just left him ta his own thoughts, mostly as someone passed a beer stein before me face talkin’ about celebratin’ tha night away in our honor. Well lads, far be it from me ta turn down free ale an spirits, wouldn’t want ta offend our hosts now would we? Whatya say barkeep, one or two on tha house for this old war hero? OUCH OI there man, no need ta throw things at me, I was just askin’ by tha gods! I wish I could tell ya more about tha’ night, but I’m pretty sure I drank me memories right out of me head I did. I know I sang like a darlin’ song bird, capturin’ tha whole host with me wondrous vocal styling’s I did. I’d betcha even tha gods themselves pulled up a seat at tha table me songs were so beautiful. ‘Tis a shame I’ll never remember much more than tha’, it’s just one blur after tha’. I know Hured an our drunk monk joined in though, don’t let them tell ya any different.
I guess it was tha next mornin’ when Tsadok kicked tha table I had apparently chosen as me bed for tha night. I felt tha table shake, heard him snarlin’ at me, then the clinky and clashy of a pile of bottles an steins tha’ had fallen in a ring about me body. Almost like a holy halo of beer and wine, I told ya them gods showed up when I sang, an they left me tha good drinks as a gift for sure! It took me some doin’ ta wade out of tha’ pile of glass, but I made it I did. A big yawn, a big stretch, and a big burp an I was right as rain an ready for whatever Tsadok was on about. I noticed tha’ there were some folk about pickin’ up and slowly stashin’ away things gettin’ ready ta head back ta what I guessed would be Cryin’ Leaf. I gave tha’ orc the stink eye right then an there I did, as I had no intention of losin’ sleep ta pack up gear. He saw me look and nodded in a different direction an I caught sight of Evianna an a bunch of dressed up tree-hoppers headed inta her tent. Tsadok seemed a bit on edge even for him, an them elves had a air about them that said there be some business tha’ needed ta be handled, so I nodded back an gathered me wits about me. I also noticed a bit of ale left in a mug near me so I swilled it down, just ta cut the edge ya know.
Tha group gathered up in Evianna’s tent for whatever business was so important tha’ early in tha morning. I swear tha’ whole tent was very wobbly, it an everyone in it would not hold still at all, they all kept swayin’ from side ta side ta side ta side ta side ta side, over an over, back an forth, I had ta grab tha’ desk just ta keep them all still. I’ve never loved a table so much in me life boys, but tha’ table made life all better tha’ day it did. So I was only half payin’ attention, as I was still tryin’ ta work the drink outta me system from tha night before, an as Shalelu droned on an on it was getting’ harder ta keep on me feet. Then, in one eternal second, I heard some words pass her pasty elf lips tha’ sobered me right up and focused me whole world about her face. She said she wanted us ta become dark elf filth so we could infiltrate their home cities ta find out anythin’ we could about their weapon tha’ could pull down stars.
I didn’t care why, I didn’t care what, all I heard was tha’ they had some foul magics tha’ could actually infuse our own bodies with tha essence of a recently killed Drow, so tha’ we would become Drow. My reaction was immediate an I’m pretty sure they heard me yellin’ all tha way back in Riddleport. I’ve never been so insulted, degraded, an angry in all me life lads, before or since. How dare anyone suggest tha’ I look like one of them bark-biters, much less allow the essence of one be soaked inta me body. No no no no no lads, tha’ weren’t about ta happen ta good old Rolfe no sir. I swear even them long lived elves had never heard some of tha curses comin’ out of me tha’ day, I knows it cause I saw them lean over ta each other several times an ask what tha words meant.
Well of course Tsadok an Hured talked me inta it. I started ta get worried when I noticed Vors had slipped up behind me an had his black-jack slipped up in his hand. I scowled at the monk as I’m sure it were his idea ta mash me over tha head, he just whistled innocently an took a drink. Gods where does tha’ man hide all those bottles of booze he be constantly pullin’ from?? Anyway, I knew tha’ without me sea-blade there ta carve a path through whatever trouble they’d get themselves inta, then tha group woulda not gotten back alive. So I consented, hatin’ myself an everyone else around me for makin’ me do it, but if meant savin’ everyone from another massive end of tha world scenario then of course I was in.
I’ll never understand what magic was used tha’ day, but I could feel tha’ dead Drow’s menace and anger seethin’ through every part of me. I’m usually a very balanced and kind-hearted sorta dwarf, very go with tha flow ya might say, but tha’ elf suit made me want ta wipe all tha’ away an just start hackin’ up the fine folk about me. If tha’ tiny peek inta their mind be just a fraction of what they feel all day, then I certainly be understandin’ why they like killin’ so much. Those sea-harpies be some of tha angriest souls I ever did come across outside of tha hells mind ya.
So we get turned inta evil elf suits an one of tha group, probably Tsadok as he is always the military mind, suggests we spend some time learnin’ each other’s faces an whatnot so we don’t kill each other. So we spend an hour or so learnin’ what we looked like an getting’ used ta our new skins. After a while we go over our cover story, which is tha’ Kaerishiel an his rangers were chasin’ us down an we made it back ta tha portal just in time. In all tha confusion of a hundred rangers pourin’ through tha portal we’d slip away and get goin’, which is what happened. We jumped through tha portal and scooted away while tha fightin’ was heaviest, right inta tha arms of some alchemy merchant fella tha’ happened ta be wanderin’ by with his cart at just tha right moment.
He ended up givin’ us a tour as we wandered about the cavern headed up ta be presented ta tha ruling matriarch ta make sure we was ok. It took hours for us ta wind our way about tha roads and hills until we finally got ta tha right place. Keep in mind this was a cavern underground, but it stretched about a mile north an south and about half a mile east an west. This was a big place full of nasty, sharp, an spikey houses and gates built inta tha stone. One of tha scariest lookin’ under-halls I’ve ever been in, everythin’ was made ta poke or cut ya, nothin’ pretty about it just made with murderous intent. Ya could almost feel tha hatred oozin’ off ever inch of tha place.
Eventually we meet tha matriarch and get accepted inta tha fold thanks ta some fast talkin’ and willingness ta spill blood, much tha same as our normal day. All in all, it was a horrible day thanks for makin’ me talk about it. You know what, I needs some song to brighten up me night after all this drow talk! “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH Pass the rum an hang the lights…..”
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So men, you’ve been listening to that dwarf tell you stories of adventure and treasure. Makes you want to go out there and get some for yourself. Well, I can tell you that it is not all hack and slash. You can’t always keep what you kill. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your soul just to stay alive.
Now if ol’ Rolfe can keep quiet long enough, I’d like to tell you my side of what he is about to tell you.
As you already heard, Evianna had task us with gathering information about the war between the dark and light elves. They also need to know more about this starfall thing. Now gathering information is not our thing, but the elves here were in dire straits. Evianna and this shady elf wizard came up with an idea that we dawn the skins and appearances of a few fallen drow and head off through the portal to their city in the underdark.
I may not be the best when it comes to fighting, but I do my part. Sneaking into a drow city and pretending to be them just to gather info, well we are just not that suited. This sounds like something Vors could do, but not the rest of us. Well you already know that we agreed to go, but there were some serious reservations about going.
Through the portal and into the hands of a merchant by the name of Gadak. He took us to his home, which happened to be the second most powerful family citadel in the underground city. Gadak was a servant of House Vonnarc and he suggested that we become servants, too, as House Azrinae was falling. Up till now, I had been nervous about our cover. Getting inside House Vonnarc’s gates gave me some confidence that this crazy plan might work. The first true test was about to come with the meeting of the Slave Mother.
After some words from our new sponsor Gadak and a few quick answers from our assumed leader Malika, we were granted a trial period into the house as low servants. We had to prove ourselves worthy of House Vonnarc in order to stay around. We were each given low quality house signet rings. We were assigned our own group room to sleep.
Now proving ourselves seemed easy enough, just do what they say when they say it and we are in. At least that is what I thought. My first assignment was to clean the stables. I thought, “I can ride a horse. Surely cleaning up after one should not be hard.” Well I was wrong on two fronts. First, they don’t ride horse underground, they ride lizards. Second, lizards and I don’t mess well. This caused the scaly things to not like me and one thing led to another…well let’s just say I missed lunch and dinner. My next task was going to introduce me to the darker side of life. I was hauled off to the torture chamber were a drow female was “re-educating” other drow screw-ups of how things were done proper. You see, the drow believe that everyone receives the same education and you should know everything. If you fail in your task, well it is explained to you again at the end of a whip. I have to say, it takes a special kind of lady to re-educate folks so efficiently.
So my turn came along, and they stripped me down to my nothings. I was chained up with my hands out above my head. When that first slap of learning hit me, all I could think about was that this enchantment may break and my true identity would be relieved. I looked down and noticed that I was still drow in appearance. Just as a sigh of relief came another slap of learning brought me back to the moment. By the time ten slaps had come, I was ready to go home…to the surface that is. I got dressed and out of habit was about to call on a few blessings from Cayden to take away the pain but realized right then and there how dire this whole situation is. You cannot ask for a blessing in front of these folks. Their God ain’t your God and that would be real bad.
I hobbled back to the room and explained to everyone what happened to me and told them how we had to be careful about our ways versus the drow. Tsadok understood immediately what I was saying. I rested the rest of the night, if you could call it that.
The next day I decided to try my hand at guard duty, this task seemed much easier as I had the skills for it. As a reward for not getting beaten, I was given permission for some free time within the citadel. I decided to try get in good with the First Son’s, Erdrinneir, personal guard. I was a little over ambitious and was turned away.
Day three of service rolled in and wanting a repeat of success, I tried my hand at guard duty again. This time however, the task masters wanted me to run some errands. Sounds easy enough, but again, the easy stuff wasn’t easy and before I knew it I was back in the torture chamber. Thinking quickly on my feet, I figured that I needed to make an impression on a member of the higher ranks, so I did the only thing I could do to warrant the pain taster’s individual attention. I turned my head around so I could see her behind me and said, “Do your worst.” I even offered up my backside for an easier target. Fellas, that sentence and act were the last two things I remember of the entire day. When I came to, it was the next day. There I lay on the chamber floor, with a few others who had not been able to keep their wits before the end. This time was a little different than the last. I actually had some open wounds along with the bruises of the beating. I drug myself off the floor and got dressed.
When I got back to the room where the others were, I laid down for a little bit and explained what had happened. I was scolded as a fool, but I just smiled. I had a plan.
I reported for duty on the fourth day with the others as usual. The task masters remembered who I was and assigned me look out duty, I think out of pity. Though, these folks are not the pitying type. All went well for my shift, and I returned to the room to rest. While I rested I decided that the first son might be too well guard, I needed someone lesser. The obvious choice was the second son and his guard. I tried to impress upon them my usefulness. I was successful this time and was invited to play, a new game to me, a drow favorite. Being a gambling man, I sat down and enjoyed the game trying to gather as much fringe information as possible. I left with a little coin in my pocket and some new acquaintances as well. I was even invited back.
By the fifth day, we all had our turn in the torture chamber save the dwarf. He had been proving well as a guard. As a shock to me, these folk preferring women, Malika had not been as much a shining star as I would have thought. Though I suspect she was working an angle that she wasn’t letting on about. Saru, our quick hand fighter was excelling at cooking. He was even being asked for by request. Tsadok, my friend, was getting frustrated. He was doing ok at the guard duties, but with no fighting and no open praying, he steaming with anger. Vors had his ups and downs with his tasks but he had other goals in mind. We had been noticing that our “sponsor” was spying on us while we worked, so Vors set out on a campaign to sort him out. After our day’s tasks were completed, we started putting together ideas of what to look for and where to look. I decided to try a different tactic with the pain taster. During my free time, I went to her tried to romance her. Though she was interested in seeing me, she was in no way liking the romance. I was lucky to only be turned away. Rolfe had been making an impromptu map of the citadel as best he could and in doing so found a shrine chamber and a library.
Next day’s task came and went as usual with some of us going to the torture chamber. That day’s free time was spent with Tiryin’s, the second son, guards gambling. I made the acquaintance of higher up guard named Immanis. He was an older drow, season with more than a few fights. He sat down and joined us gambling and by nights end, he was a bit lighter in the pocket. As I left, he asked if I would come back and give him a second chance at my new money. I agreed and parted ways.
Now fellas, after six days straight of impersonating the enemy and making the wrong kind of friends wears on you. It starts to eat at your conscience. It starts to question who you are and what you mean to yourself. That’s right. It is heavy and deep. But what would come next would make your stomachs turn.
The seventh day, came as normal. And as normal so did our performances. All day long, I had been contemplating my next move to get in good with the middle echelons of the citadel. I knew that if I had discussed my idea with the group, they would not approve. So with only a statement of where I was going, I left in pursuit of the pain taster’s affection. Now, I had already been shot down by using romances. I figured that she was looking for someone who likes pain. So gathering all of my inner will, I submitted to her and beg for a beating. To sweeten the ruse, I mixed in a few phrases of pleasure with the request of whips and chains. She bit off on the whole thing, literally and figuratively. At some point that night I knew I was in deeper than I wanted to be. Somewhere along the way to ecstasy, I once again lost consciousness and awoke naked and scarred. Wrapped in some silk bedding I began looking at the scars and noticed that they were more than just wounds, they were engravings. Rolfe will tell you, I did not look very good. There were two other females in the room giggling at the fact that I was there. Drovoani, the pain taster, who had given me courtesy of her name sometime in the night, was gone. I dressed myself and left the chamber. In the hall, I noticed my friend Saru outside on the floor, passed out. The guards just stood there, indicating they had something to do with his condition. I woke him up and helped him back to our room.
The others were not happy when we returned. They were even frighten a little by my new appearance. Who could blame them. First we were wearing drow flesh and now mine has been etched up like a shaman’s totem pole. I tried to argue that I was merely making an impression on a noble of the house. Trying to leverage our position here. While we were discussing the happenings and dealings of the night, albeit one sided it seemed, a knock came at the door. We all straightened up real quick as Rolfe answered the door. A messenger entered and announced that I have been sent a gift from Drovoani, a new set of fine work clothes in house colors and a much finer quality signet ring. This new ring effectively sealed my promotion to full servant. The messenger left and the looks I received from my friends could have killed thousands. Saru commented snidely, “Some impression.” This day’s task would prove a slight set back. I was summoned personally to attend a noble’s torturing pleasure. I thought along the way that I was to torture someone. However, when I got there I realized that I was the subject. Apparently, Drovoani had been talking my actions up to some of the other nobles and wanted to demonstrate my toughness. However, I had not fully recovered from the previous night and fell far short of her expectations. I was shunned to guard duty for the next few days.
Saru was soon promoted to a full servant thanks to his cooking skills. Who would have thought that the deft hands of a monk would translate into a great cook? The duties of the others in our group seemed routine at this point. Rolfe and Tsadok had taken to dueling with nobles, though it was more for show than really doing much sword play. Malika started to notice that my path with Drovoani was not a bad choice and tried to make a call or two to the mistress. Malika may be better suited for this path than I, but if it gets us in well…here’s to pain. Vors had switched to guard duty as the re-education process was starting to wear thin on his patience. Even he found a groove eventually.
I began to alternate evenings with Immanis and the guard and submitting to Drovoani. I was trying to solidify a firm ground of support to legitimize my stay here in the citadel. I figured if you only work one angle and it gets taken from you, then you have nothing to stand on. I wanted to secure my place there. During this time, I discovered that I had been given some new powers. Not permissions like going outside mind you, but new innate abilities. I could feel the cursed powers running through me. Now each day we had been there, Tsadok and I had to be sneaky with our morning rituals and prayers to our respective gods, hoping that they were still listening. Nothing like being the beacon for your god and having to hide it for fear of getting killed. Try explaining that one to Gorum. Malika would prepare as well but wasn’t in need of staying totally hidden from view and earshot. Anyways, I became concerned that the longer good and evil occupied my body at the same time, what would happen to my soul? Would it be shredded to pieces? Would the two sides eventually betray the other and reveal me as I truly am? Cayden Cailean taught his disciples to better themselves through strength and liberty, yet there I was submitting to her pleasures and staying bound to her by servitude. Would Cayden cut me off for that? But you see fellas, logic has a way to bring it all back in perspective. If any more of House Azrinae’s drow come back from the surface war telling the tales of what happened up there, it will be very hard indeed to suspect me of being involved.
One day shy of being there two weeks and we were summoned to the Slave Mother’s Chamber. There Drovoani and Undamesta, the Slave Mother, wait for us. Drovoani began explaining that there were three driders that needed to be brought to justice. Drovoani looked at me and stated that the driders’ head needed to be brought back as proof of our obedience. I knew she meant my obedience. So not to let my ruse be discovered I responded, “It shall be done my Mistress.” And bowed. Undamesta assigned two royal guards to accompany us to the driders.
On the way to the caves where the driders were supposed to be hiding out, there was a slight discussion about whether the two royal guards were going to make it back alive. By the time we got there a real decision had not been made yet. The driders were not that hard to engage. Tsadok was relieved for some real fighting. But he and I both realized with the two royal guards present, we would not be able to call any blessings or favors from our gods. Malika said some words and flung a fire ball at two of the driders. The royal guards saw, but did not react to it. They did not engage the driders until ordered to by Saru. We all made quick work of the driders. With their heads removed, we decided not to kill the royal guards as we suspected they might be an asset when we returned.
Back at the citadel, we presented the heads to Undamesta. The two royal guards gave favorable reports on the mission. Drovoani and Undamesta were pleased and rewarded us with a day off. That evening we plotted to do some recon in the city the next day. Rolfe and Malika were going to the library to research more and Saru, Tsadok, Vors, and I were going to go into town and find House Azrinae’s holdings and see what remains. Another messenger came and changed my mind for me. Seemed as though Drovoani was impressed with the deed and wanted to reward me personally. There was angry looks from my friends. But we did not discuss it.
The next day, came and we all went about our ways. I met up with Drovoani in her chambers and she led me down to the courtyard were we boarded one of those wagons without wheels. You know the ones that are carried by slaves in the front and back. They took us on a ride through town and stopped at a house of pleasure. Now mind you I did not know it was a pleasure house until we went inside. Drow have a different spin on pleasure. Not everything is pain. This was all the fun pleasures of the surface world rapped up under one roof. I started with, and had only the intentions to partake in the alcohol. Drovoani was determined to try it all. I remember feeling sick and wonderful all at the same time. I cannot remember much more than that. And I probably don’t want too either. I will say that when I came to, I hoped to Cayden that I did not do something to offend him.
Well fellas, I’ll let Rolfe tell you his side of the story. I’ll get the barkeep to get everyone a round.
(PLAYER COMMENT: I just want to say here that there are times when the game mechanic makes me want to scream.)
It would seem that our stories of vengeance upon House Azrinae was good enough to ingratiate ourselves to House Vonnarc. Slave mother Unamesta allowed us to become members of their house, as it would seem that “volunteers” were rare. The only down side was we were on the bottom rung of the social ladder, and the penalties for failure were often final.
Knowing that our magics would hold our disguise for over three months, being underground with no visible sun, the only way to track time was our bodies natural desire for rest. I had no desire to remain here any longer than was required but we were going to have to prove ourselves before we would be given freedom to move about the city. That was going to require work, and as it would seem, floggings.
Our options were to either work among the house staff or as guards. Assuming that my martial prowess would lend more credence to being a guard and not a cook I opted for this route. As it would turn out, this process was mind numbingly boring. The only time I was given any ability to showcase my abilities was during drill sessions that involved running. Lots and lots of running. On at least one occasion I was flogged for my inability to keep up (PLAYER COMMENT: Nothing like making a CON check and rolling a 3, yay, more beatings.)
The others though seemed to fit in with their chosen paths quite well. The acid tongued human seemed to continually gain kitchen duties. The dwarf seemed to gain a level of trust with a certain noble as they would duel all the time. The gambler left the house staff after several beatings to become a guard. The pale woman seemed rather inexperienced at servants work and had been beaten several times although she seemed to weather those beatings rather well. The cleric of the drunken hero though, back talked the woman who gave the beatings and became a pet project of hers. It would seem that over the last few weeks the cleric has taken a shining to this woman and is willingly spending time with her. Enough so that the others are beginning to voice their concerns as to if the cleric is still to be trusted.
For me, these last two weeks have been spent mostly on the whipping block. My inability to do anything correctly for these Drow is driving me to my own personal insanity. I am very close to snapping, and at that point the blood will flow. Sadly I know that it will mostly be own and a wasted effort at redemption.
My only bright point in the time we have been here was when were asked to track down several of the half spider creatures that we fought back in the caustic pit. We were followed by two of the house guard, I assume to make sure that we also would not run off and report as to how we did. The creatures were quickly found and dispatched with minimal effort. Gorum was still with me as one of his champions arrived to help during the fight. My inability to speak to Gorum because of our disguise has been a sore point and thankfully his warrior proved that Gorum was still allowing me to battle in his name.
In time I hope to move on and discover this weapon or how the Drow can pull stones from the heavens so that we can leave this place. I do not know how much longer I can endure this place.
(PLAYER COMMENT: I have to admit this part of the AP is driving me nuts. I like the idea behind gaining the “slave points/trust points” but as a character that gains 1 skill rank per level, its very difficult to enjoy. When you sit at a table and wait for your turn to finally act and then are rewarded by rolling a 8 or less and fail, while the rest around the table “can’t get below a 20” makes it a long night. The GM thought that it was his fault and a small debate among the players formed on the lack of skill points awarded to certain classes, but the fact that the DCs are sometimes rather difficult to hit AND they are required to advance a story become hard to choke down at times. I still enjoyed the game, but I was extremely frustrated with my dice for most of the night.)
The days are beginning to stretch on and I have no idea how much longer I can stand it. In Riddleport, when I began to feel this way I could find a fight easily enough. Here, in this accursed cave I have to mind my manners or our mission might fail. Stopping this weapon is important, stopping the war is not. So I sit here and fume, I grow more sullen and angry. Perhaps the lack of feeling the sun on my skin is part of this, perhaps it is because I wear an alien skin and wish to be rid of it. Either way, our investigation needs to progress or I fear I will snap and begin killing all I see.
That was to change, at least not how I wanted it to, when Undamesta the Slave Mistress arrived and with a sneer ordered us to follow her. Going high up into the tower we have never been allowed to enter we came to a bloodbath. Inwardly I smiled as I could still smell the coppery scent of blood on the air. Lying dead in the room were two of the house Vonnarc guards. Sitting in the room was one of the two elder sons, I remember not which one it was. His open aggression was then focused onto us as we entered when it would seem that we were not who he hoped would walk through the door. Undamesta barked at him and he quieted down but the look of ire at our presence was evident.
There was one other in the room, a woman who looked to be of common stock among the Drow. Undamesta then turned to us and proclaimed that we were to get her out of the Vonnarc estate without being seen. It would seem that the son had done something that could politically be very damaging to their family. The death of the two guards spoke of how far the family would go to protect the secret.
Nodding an understanding we left the room with the woman in tow. Several of us moved forward and would make sure the coast was clear and then bring up the rear once past. After several leapfrogs of this we made it to the outer courtyard where she had some of their lizard mounts waiting. In order to leave unseen, or at least attempt to be unseen, we would need to ride along the side and eventual roof of the cave. I would imagine that I paled a little when she suggested that. Unfortunately though, she was right and we did just that.
Buckling myself in as best I could the ride up the wall was uneventful and somewhat terrifying. Being a follower of Gorum combat does not scare me. The idea of dying from falling though was a real fear, though not one I was aware was possible until now. It wasn’t until we were on the roof of the cave that we came under attack from house Vonnarc guards. Who sent them did not matter, only that we survived the encounter and they did not. Having grown accustomed to the sensation of hanging on I let the lizard do its work and spurred it on towards the enemy cursing their name while wielding the Fang. Combat was fierce and I managed to slay one of the riders in short order while engaging two others. They were skilled, but had I been able to use the boons of my god in the open I do not think their skills would have gotten the better of me. It wasn’t until I saw one of the lizards suddenly fall, the ceiling coated in a slippery, greasy stain that I began to fear for my life. It wasn’t until the end of the battle that I realized that the pale woman was causing the area to become coated in her arcane magics. A gruesome fate for those that fell, and cowardly to a degree. Either way, we were successful on returning the Vonnarc’s sons companion to her home within the city.
As a reward for our success we were given a day off. I used the time to roam the town with the dwarf looking for ways to move about the city should we need to make a hasty escape. Along the way I decided to risk asking Gorum for his help in deciding if going into House Azrinae would net us our information, pain and fire was all I felt in return.
When the dwarf and I returned a box had been sent to our room as a reward from the woman we helped the prior day. Within were several vials of a smoky vapor that the cleric of the drunken god said was a drug. When we looked to him for how he knew this, he smirked and sheepishly shrugged. It would seem his new “love” had caused him to experience its properties. The dwarf though, uncorked a bottle to smell it as we learned this and thus infected several of the group with its poison. For several hours afterward I felt as if I were invincible and could take on the world, others grew pale and nauseous.
On the next day, Undamesta again entered our chambers and told us to gather all our belongings and to follow her once again. We proceeded past the tower we entered the day before and instead went to the tower that we knew belonged to the matron of house Vonnarc. After she knocked the other son opened the door and bid us inside, Undamesta was not allowed in. This son also contained the same sneer that the other son had and brusquely told us to follow him. For several long minutes we wound our way up the tower through several rooms, many of which contained vast tomes of knowledge.
We eventually came to a room and once inside he turned and left. The room was full of all sorts of dark magics, and I was fairly sure that the four statues were not in fact statues. Suddenly in a flash of magic a tall female Drow appeared sitting in the throne where a moment ago no one was seated. Looking at us as a predator looks at prey she told us to eat and directed our attention to table with food on it. Moving forward I knew that I would be unable to ask for Gorums blessing to remove any possible poison from the food and so I did not eat anything. It wasn’t until I heard the gambler notice that all the food was from the surface world, nothing like what we had been eating since arriving here several weeks ago.
Before we could decide if this was a test she stood and proclaimed that our ruse was up. The dwarf tensed and stayed my hand to him knowing that to attack her now would be a fools errand. She was prepared for us because she knew, and if we attacked our mission would surely fail as the room would probably flood with guards as she teleported away. Any chance of escape disappeared the moment we entered this room at the top of a long tower full of Drow.
The ruse, most definitely, was up. Though the matron suggested that if we would but scratch her back she would return the favor. It would seem that this weapon, or the knowledge of how to do what house Azrinae was doing was not lost on house Vonnarc. Vonnarc though wanted the very den of debauchery that our cleric of the drunken hero had been spending a lot of time in to be removed of its owner. The drugs and vices were draining her resources and she wanted it gone. As payment for doing this she would provide us with the information we needed. In no way did I trust her, but under the circumstances we had nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain. So we went.
The den, as the cleric of the drunken hero explained, was two levels and the owner was a rather fat Drow. Not having really ever seen a fat Drow, I imagine spotting him would be easy. Once we entered I knew that was a wrong assumption on my part. The room was full of smoke and low, distorting lights. Even with my ability to see in the dark the area was difficult to see in. I assumed that the owner would be upstairs and so I made my way to the stairs with the gambler in tow. The guards in the area were plentiful but glassy eyed. The drug and tobacco smoke making their job difficult and hopefully our job somewhat easier once we found the owner.
Moving around we spied upon a door that led to a private area which a guard said, in slurred speech, was where the owner stayed and that no one was allowed to enter. Calling down to the others to come upstairs, the gambler and I made our way to the door. The gambler had just produced some tools for opening the door when it was suddenly opened from the inside by the cleric of the drunken hero. It would appear that this brought about the wrath of the few guards in the room with the owner and another of the large creatures called a drider. The combat was quick and did not end well for any who entered the room save our group. The guards in the outer room either did not notice or were to drugged to care.
Closing the door we looked about for maps and information that the matron asked us to gather up if we found any, as well as any treasures the late den owner no longer needed. While searching about we discovered a secret door that led to a small balcony outside and we used this to make our exit without alerting any of the remaining guards to our actions.
(PLAYER COMMENT: Running way behind on my journals, I apologize.)
Moving further away from the den we took stock of new possessions and quickly passed them out. The only item of interest to me was the signet ring of the house the fat Drow belonged to. This took my total of signet rings up to three and were fine trophies that I hoped I would relish for a long time to come. While the others decided on what they would like to take as a trophy I read through the books we collected. It would seem that the den owner was working with a mercenary company to some end. Why the matron wanted the book was beyond me, but to understand a Drow was not something I wanted to waste time doing. Once the items were doled out we headed back to House Vonnarc and the matron.
Again we were led to her chambers by one of the sons and as we entered her chambers she was busy reading some scroll and did not look up. Dropping the items she asked for on her desk I began to explain that we had finished our task when she held up a finger and ignored me. After waiting several seconds and her continuing on what she was doing I moved to the table and openly asked for Gorum’s blessing to remove any taint from the surface world food that was still there and sat down to eat.
Eventually she finished what she was doing and looked up, not even looking through the maps and books we brought back. She told us that what were seeking was a chamber located deep beneath the elven city. It was there that House Azrinae was working ancient magics to bring about another earthfall incident. She told us that there was even a gate to the east that would lead to the surface world and that she hoped the surface dwellers would remember that the Drow were not above assisting us. If it wasn’t said with a smug sneer on her face I would have believed that she might be somewhat worried about another earthfall.
With that she began enchanting some spell. Within a few seconds as we talked about our plans her spell finished and the magics that held our disguises in place unraveled. Within a few seconds we were standing within her chambers as ourselves. I must admit it was like someone had released the shackles of bondage from me. Shortly after this feeling of joy I realized that we were still high up in the tower and leaving the city was going to become . . . difficult. With another smug sneer she teleported away leaving us in the room with her four aberrations that were now slowly herding us to the chamber door.
As we left the room we began to feverishly come up with a plan when the acid tongued human said that he could allow us to fall as a feather to the ground if we could find a window. From there we would have to make our way to the stables and steal some of the lizards that they rode so that we could repeat our performance from a few days ago. Moving through several rooms we made it to a stairwell that led down to the fourth floor where we knew of at least one window that would suit us. Thankfully all the rooms we passed through were empty until we came to a large chamber where several wizards were working some foul summoning magics. Quietly we crept behind them to the opposite side where the door out was located. The spell must have required great concentration because we were not heard. The noquall armor that I wore was rather light and I know I crept by in quiet, although there were others in our group that were not so quiet.
Stepping through the door into the next room I was greeted with the son who had been our guide through the tower, several mages and a large construct of some kind. Before I could even react the dwarf had closed the distance to the construct and had attacked. The son responded by casting some sort of death spell that clouded our area and began drifting into the room we were exiting. The cloud managed to kill one of the mages in the room, his face in terror as he inhaled the noxious vapors. Knowing that speed became important to avoid the cloud and to close with the wizards in the room I asked for Gorum’s blessing and using his blessed speed left the cloud and engaged two of the mages. The fight itself was quick, their necrotic beams striking me but doing only superficial damage. The Fang drank deep of Drow mage blood, the sizzle and pop from its flaming blade. Gorum was pleased as a Spartolos Champion arrived during the fight and it assisted in slaying of one of the mages.
The son surprised by the appearance of surface worlders managed to escape a moment before I closed the distance to finish his foul existence. Using magics a door of light appeared behind him and he stepped through the doorway closing a second later. The mages and his construct though were dead. As were the mages in the room we had come from, the killer cloud having drifted into the room during their ritual. Quickly we took stock of any item we might need, or more importantly, want. Grabbing the cloaks that many in the House Vonnarc wore to disguise ourselves we moved on to find the room with the window.
Moving down a hall we eventually came to the window, a great stained glass piece depicting a great many unpleasant things. In a glorious act of vandalism, the Spartolos Champion dove through the window clearing a space for us to follow and falling into dust before it ever reached the cave floor. As the acid tongued human granted slow falling boons we could hear guards moving towards us from rooms we had not gone through. As a last act I watched as the dwarf pulled several of the vials of black vaporous drug from his bag. Knowing his intent to toss them at the end of the room before he jumped I shook my head and leapt out the window, a cowardly act but very amusing. It also appeared to work for no Drow looked from the window as we moved to the stables.
The creatures did not baulk at our not being Drow and within a few minutes we were strapped into our saddles and moving up the cave wall to the ceiling. Unaccosted we made it outside of the city and found some caves to hide ourselves in as traffic was still steady during this time of day. The cleric of the drunken hero was still in bad shape as several drugs that had been coursing through his system had left him in a weakened state. The killer cloud had also done damage to many in the group and only Gorum was able to assist in clearing the toxins from their bodies. The cleric of the drunken hero had apparently angered his god with the rampant drug use and carving of strange symbols on his flesh.
After a few days we left the cave and made our way to the gate we were told of. Knowing that we would be coming the Drow had built up a small army to prevent our return to the sun. The gate was at the end of a long narrow bridge that spanned a deep darkness and the Drow were on the side nearest the gate. Preparing for glorious battle I cast as many blessings as Gorum would allow on myself and the others. Using potions of invisibility we moved across the bridge. Their wizards were able to see us coming and our element of surprise lost, so we charged. In my enlarged state, I kept to one side to allow for the less dexterous of us to still move along the center of the bridge. One of their wizards mimicked the pale woman by spreading a slick substance on the bridge but I easily avoided the mess and slammed into their lines.
Immediately Gorum blessed the combat with two of his Spartolos Champions. Fighting was brutal and glorious, blows being traded on both sides. Many of their warriors could not penetrate my defenses but the cowardly archers were able to and several bolts pierced my flesh. As the combat raged on I heard a scream of terror from the pale woman and turning to look saw that a large spider like creature had moved onto the ledge behind us and was attacking her. Doing everything she could do with magic she kept the creature at bay. A multitude of images of her constantly absorbing the attacks from the spider saving herself from damage. The creature though fell to our combined might when I left the scrum the dwarf, gambler and acid tongued human were engaged in. No sooner had the spider fell then the last archer was brought down and the way home open to us. (PLAYER COMMENT: I started this whole fight with two crits and lots of damage and then my dice left me. I couldn’t roll higher than a 6 on a d20 for three rounds, and that was with three attacks a round. Thankfully I rolled better on the spider but not much.)
Once we had grabbed up the items of interest the group stepped through the elven gate to Gorum knows what. I could smell where we were long before I could see it. The air was crisp and clean, and I could feel a warm breeze that gently removed any chill from the shaded grounds. Having spent almost three weeks in the underground cave, the suddenness of the sunlight was painful. I could hear individuals in armor and the sudden shifting of their weight from a relaxed stance to something more guarded, not to mention the sound of several cowardly bows being drawn back.
When I could finally see again I found that I was standing on a large platform of white marble. Ringing our group were several elves and their weapons were out as I heard. Either bows or spears and they were readied for action. Quickly I threw my hands in the air and roared out a response that all would be able to hear that we were from Crying Leaf sent by Evianna. An elf in rather elaborate robes carrying a book stepped forward and told the guards to stand down, and introduced himself as Valashtier. Asking us to follow him we were led away with a large contingent of guard around and behind us.
When we explained that the elven gate we stepped through was near a drow city and that guards should remain there, Valashtier did not react although several guards could be seen rolling their eyes. Marching along he told us that were in Iadara and far away from Crying Leaf. The elves that moved about the city looked on in idle curiosity, but not mouth agape as had been the case when we arrived in Crying Leaf. Eventually we came to a elven house and Valashtier asked that we take refuge inside to rest and to make our selves more presentable before meeting with their queen. He claimed that we were free to move about the city but asked that we be ready to meet with the queen fairly soon.
Taking that our time may be short as a whole we instead moved into the city to sell many of the items that we had been carrying for a long period of time. Either selling outright or using items in trade I managed to find a mithral breastplate that could replace my aging noqual armor. I found a more powerful version of my magically resistant cloak and located a ring that would allow me to forgo eating and allow me to rest in only two hours of time. Several times, elven companions have made the need for this ring paramount to a normal existence.
Returning to the house I found that several new elven clothes were laid out for us. Instructions were left that these were there for our meeting with the queen. A steward waited outside to send word to Valashtier when we were presentable. It took major convincing to get the dwarf out of his armor and into these clothes. I was rather surprised to find that the clothes fit perfectly, as if they had measured every inch of my body. Belting Fang on I stepped outside and waited for Valashtier. When he arrived he noticed the weapon and said that no weapons were permitted within the queens chambers. I admit at this point I felt as if I should stay behind and let the others go, the dwarf agreed. Eventually Valashtier convinced me that our belongings would not be tampered with and that he would leave guards outside to satisfy us.
The queens chambers were as I expected, large, full of guards, and several individuals dressed similarly to Valashtier. The conversation that took place was anything but what I expected. The queen, Telandin Edasseril, asked us to tell our story. Knowing that the acid tongued human would do a better job, I let him speak. I found that he did not leave out any details when asked, which was odd. His embellishment was almost non-existent, except when it was factual. When we completed the tale, she nodded but Valashtier essentially called it rubbish. The shock on my face was evident, as it was on the others. No amount of explanation on our end would sway the queen or her advisors to our tale. At one point I threated Valashtier that to continually calling me a liar would be detrimental to his health, guards be damned. The guards heard and bristled at the comment, as did the advisors. Valashtier was not amused or threatened, but before it came to blows the queen asked that we retire to our house and asked for Valashtier to schedule us to regale the court with our tale in the distant future. With that, the audience was over and we were escorted back to our house.
At this point our ire was rather high among the group and we debated leaving. Knowing that preventing another earthfall incident was paramount, the dwarf though did not care. When we did arrive back at the house there was a book that had been added to our collection of possessions that was not there when we left for the audience with the queen. The book was apparently a collection of children’s stories used to teach morals and one of the stories was earmarked with a purple flowered vine that was similar to the crown worn by the queen. Its initial meaning was lost on me after reading it, but it appeared to be a message from the queen. The disinterested guise she wore during our audience was not for us but for others. We talked about this new information but some of the group were still seeing red, so we decided to sleep on it and with cooler heads discuss the situation in the morning. Unfortunately we were not allowed to sleep on it. During the night a group of guards entered into our house and with a cry about some Winter Council attacked. It was a double cowardly attack, as not only were we asleep but they used their cowardly bows.
Luckily for me, the armor I own is rather light and not uncomfortable to sleep in. Long nights in Riddleport and having to survive on the streets there meant sleeping in what you owned so I was accustomed to sleeping in armor. The elves that attacked were rather surprised when we counter attacked their cowardly barrage. The fight was rather short and I was only struck twice by arrows, the others of the group were not so lucky. The cleric of the drunken hero nearly died as he had awoken to their arrival and was then filled full of arrows. It was also discovered that the cowards used poisoned arrows much like the drow did. (PLAYER COMMENT: I would only fail the Fort save on a 1, so what do I do? First arrow that hits me I roll a 1. Had to use my token of Gorum for a reroll with a +4 but lost the +1 hit for the remainder of the day. I was only hit by two arrows in the entire fight where the dwarf was hit a lot. /sigh I hate dice.)
While some were looting the corpses of the now dead assassins I began healing those that were wounded. The acid tongued human managed to take one alive but before we could question him the queens guards arrived. All of them looked shocked at the bodies and that we had been attacked. The asked us to gather our belongings and to go with them to safer quarters within the palace under the queens direct protection. Again there were grumblings but we went. The guards formed a protective detail around us in case of more attacks by assassins, though I doubted we would see any. We arrived in a rather immense room that we were told were for traveling dignitaries and merchants of high importance. The room was immense and extremely comfortable looking. The bed had to be one of the most comfortable I had ever laid in. Sleep was rapidly approaching when I began to hear the crying of an individual in an adjacent room. Her sob story about never being allowed to leave got under my skin and I barked at her to shut up and we would discuss her troubles then as none of us had any real sleep as of late and some of us were still wounded. Thankfully she shut up.
In the morning I know I slept rather late, the activities of the prior day meant my prayers to Gorum were not done during my normal hour. Once I finished I found a large table in the main room had been prepared with a feast that contained actual meat. For the first time in a very long time I smelled and tasted meat. No fungus, breads or fruits and nuts. Actual cooked animal meat. The bacon was devoured by all when the smells awoke the remaining members of the group. For a small amount of time we forgot where and why we were where we were. Spirits were high and it was then that we met the woman that had been crying earlier upon our arrival. She called herself Quilindra, a bard and political prisoner. She claimed that she had been here for several years and had been imprisoned for speaking out against this Winter Council.
I then realized that during the night, the dream I’d had of talking with a woman was in fact a message from the queen. She said something about being a puppet and that the Alevra Azrinae we spoke about might in fact be a general Alevra of the Winter Council. It was then that I focused on those words and realized that I had almost forgotten hearing them the night before. It was also when I noticed that our food had been replenished without a servant having brought anything. As I looked about the main room I also realized there was no door and could not remember exactly how we came into the room we were now in. The cleric of the drunken hero was doing the same and when we asked where the door was Quilindra claimed that she only found it once when she thought about it really hard. When she approached the door she was attacked by some mechanical beast and driven back into the room. The rest of the group seemed not to be listening and were eating more of the food that had just appeared.
Standing I gathered my gear and began looking about the room trying to see through the fog that I knew was there but was unseen. The cleric of the drunken hero proclaimed he found something and began walking toward some unseen object when he was suddenly struck by a powerful force. He sailed backwards some distance and I replied by charging where he had been standing and swinging at the unseen attacker. The sound of metal on stone as the Fang struck told me something was there and was surprised to see a Spartolos Champion appear after the strike. The creature swam into view when it struck me, the pain seemed to focus my mind and I could see two giant stone constructs in the shape of wasps. The construct hit me harder than anything had ever hit me before. With a grin and a war-cry in Gorum’s name I renewed my attack with the cleric of the drunken hero arriving to heal the wounds the creature caused. The Spartolos seemed to see the attackers as well but before it could even strike the construct destroyed it in one awesome blow.
I then heard the pale womans voice and suddenly the room seemed to slow down again. Risking a quick glance back I could see that she was looking around for the attackers but did not see them, the danger though she could sense, the dwarf, gambler and acid tongued human though remained seating eating their food as if nothing was happening. I cursed at the dwarf to elicit some warriors response but he seemed not to care or hear. Ignoring the rest, my full attention was brought back to the fight at hand. For several seconds the constructs and I fought, my defenses keeping them at bay somewhat, but I could tell that it was a losing battle. Even with the ministrations of the cleric of the drunken hero the strength at which these constructs hit was more than he could heal. As I began to see my vision narrow and my blade began to dip under its weight the others of the group joined in the fight and within a matter of moments one of the constructs fell. Renewed at the death of the one construct the group focused their energy on the remaining threat and soon it too collapsed into rubble.
Beyond their resting place was a door and as we approached several of the group returned to their seats and resumed eating. The magic of the room was strong and to leave here was going to be difficult.
Gathering the others who seemed to succumb to the magics of the room when the fight ended took longer than I hoped. Every time I carried one member out I could feel the magics of the room attempt to wrest control of my mind, though I managed to shake it off, Gorum be praised.
Once we all left the room we found ourselves once again in a familiar hall, the young Quilindra directed us to the exit. She told us that she knew of several elven gates we could use to move ourselves across the face of Golarion. Deciding that her magics would allow us to track down our quarry we moved deeper into the city. The oddest thing was that it was empty. No one walked about its streets, no children could be heard playing or crying. At one point we hid below a low wall and heard a few guards moving past us. As the walked by I was able to hear that they were surprised that the Queen had summoned everyone to address them that morning and the guards thought it odd that she would call everyone, including the towns guards. Guessing that she realized we had escape, she used her influence to open the door for us.
Soon we came to a small courtyard with a marble floor. After we all stepped onto to it we suddenly found ourselves in a cave mouth. Inside were several merchants hawking their wares. Several elven guards moved about but none gave notice to our band as there were several races here selling their goods. Quilindra said that there was another gate that would send us to the frozen lands far to the north and that the elves there would not be pleased to see non-elves there. As she made her way to the gate I stopped off at a merchant and asked if he would direct any elves looking for us to direct them in another direction. I payed him a small sum of money and made sure that the glare I gave him when he took the money spoke that my vengeance would be swift and bloody should he fail. His blanch at the glare told me he would do as asked.
We arrived at the gate and Quilindra looked at the dwarf then us and she also asked that she be allowed to do the talking as we were only moving from one gate to another gate. Nodding at this we stepped onto the marble and suddenly we were surrounded by snow, the cold and several spear tips. Because we were expecting this, I threw my hands up to show I meant no harm even though the dwarf looked ready to start something. Once Quilindra was able to get them to understand that we were passing through, they escorted us to the gate we wanted.
Stepping through this new gate we arrived into a dark land where the very trees looked dark and brooding. We continued to follow Quilindra when we came upon an old ruined looking castle. The castle seemed to have a similar design to some of the buildings we had seen in Celwynvian as there were very few hard angles. The building looked to be made of several round towers. Moving in we looked about trying to find a gate that only Quilindra would know when she saw it. Eventually we came to a large room where a battle had taken place as several skeletons laid about the room. As we moved into the room a ghostly apparition rose up through the floor and screamed. The shriek tore at the soul and for a moment many of us were stuck dumb by its wail. The pale women’s face froze in terror and she collapsed, dead. Not having time to worry about the loss we set into the creature, its spells and attacks tore into us but eventually we prevailed. Looking about the room we discovered several items of magic, one of which was a shield that appeared more powerful than the one I carried now. Discarding my shield I gathered up the newly discovered one as the dwarf placed the body of the pale woman in his magical bag. It would seem that the cleric of the drunken hero was still atoning for his god and was unable to bring her back.
Stepping through the portal we finally arrived in what we knew to be a swamp inhabited by foul demons and their ilk. No sooner had we stepped through than two giant spiders descended on us. Their arms immediately found their way into my armor, and in one swift action ripped it from my body, knocking my shield aside as well. Roaring in anger, I drew the Fang and laid into them. Its flaming blade made short work of the creatures but the damage had been done. The dwarfs armor was similarly ripped from his body as well but was broken by the assault, Gorum had protected my armor as it was undamaged.
As we put our armors on, the dwarf donning an old set he contained within his bag, we noticed that the patch of ground on which we and the gate stood looked perfectly normal, the grounds a few feet beyond were twisted and befouled. The cleric of the drunken hero suggested that we should rest as he had run through his spells and was limited in what more he could do if we encountered more creatures. Deciding on a watch detail I sat down to rest first as my ability to see in the dark would more beneficial in the late evening and early morning. When I was awoken to take my shift I noticed that I felt as if I had slept for the entire night. Once I confirmed with the cleric of the drunken hero that I had only been asleep a few hours, I realized that the ring I had purchased in the elven markets was working. The vendor told me that the magics of the ring would not work for a week as it attuned itself to my body. In my mind, we had only stayed in our elven prison one night, but the magics of the ring spoke otherwise. Cursing at this loss of time I settled in to a watch, using the body of one of the dead spiders as cover. The swamp was eerily quite, as there were no sounds of life. No insect chirps, no birds flying overhead. Because of this silence I decided to stay awake and let the rest sleep through their shifts, as any approach on our group would be heard some distance away.
In the morning Quilindra said that this place was called tanglebriar and some distance off was the castle we were looking for. Moving in the swamp it became apparent that it would take all morning just to reach our destination as the muddy waters slowed our movement to barely a crawl. We had been walking for only an hour when we encountered a group of giants. Their bloated features and black eyes spoke of their affinity with the swamp. Knowing that to run off in this swamp would mean our being cut off from aid we maintained our position and prepared for their charge as the swamp did not slow them down. Muttering a quick prayer to Gorum I increased in size enough that I almost matched their bulk. The cleric of the drunken hero filled us with magics that allowed us to move easier, attack faster or dodge their blows. The giants hit hard, but not hard enough. In one minute of combat all six of them were laid low. The dwarf making sure to get the killing stroke on the second giant I was in the process of slaying. Glowering at him, he grinned and went off after the one that the gambler had been battling with. At least he was in a good mood, his sour face made me want to drown him and for all I knew that was impossible as long as he used that sword.
Looking through their belongings we discovered a magical punch dagger that I took as a trophy from the kill, and a scroll that would summon a planar creature to assist us. Deciding that we could use this scroll to gather the required spell components we would need to raise the pale woman, the cleric of the drunken hero read the scroll. Soon after a being of obvious divine power appeared by our cleric and asked what it could do to help. When we asked if it could locate our required diamond it nodded and left. A minute later it reappeared with the diamond and asked for 6,000 gold as payment. The group was easily able to come up with the money, as most of it was discovered on the pale woman. Soon after the being left and the cleric of the drunken hero cast his spell. Luckily Pharasma had not judged her soul and she was returned to us. Not having the required magics to remove any latent sickness from her ordeal we moved on, filling her in on what had happened since her death.
Continuing on we were suddenly attacked from four large toad like creatures that rose from the swamp. Their obvious demonic heritage spoke to their intent. A spell cast from each of the creatures washed over us, the pale woman dropped to one knee, once again at deaths door. The damage was great but it would seem that the cleric of the drunken hero and the acid tongued human were affected by greater forces than the rest of us. Quickly praying for Gorum to heal us before we engaged in battle, I felt his healing touch reach all of us followed by the healing powers of the drunken hero as he prayed for aid as well.
No sooner had our healing magics happened than the creatures moved up to attack. I was caught off guard as the creatures mouth opened and almost swallowed me whole! The spikes on the armor prevented me from moving any farther down its throat, but the smell wafting up from inside the creature was enough to cause me to periodically become sick. In my lucid moments I aided the sounds of combat by asking for more healing magics from Gorum. Soon after I managed to pull my newly acquired punch dagger and began to work on the creature from the inside. Roaring in laughter at the ludicrousness of it all and enjoying every bit of the experience I almost destroyed the creature before the others cut me out. Smiling from ear to ear at being given a wonderful combat experience, I thanked Gorum for his blessing.
Just wanted to say again that your write ups are very entertaining and that I'm really enjoying following the group's adventures!
After you guys are finished playing the AP, I'd be interested to hear what you thought of it as a whole. What were your favorite parts? What were your least favorite parts?
A lot of people have complained about this AP, but your group seems to be having a good time of it. I'd be curious to find out if your DM made any changes to the AP to make it run more smoothly, etc...
Anyway, thanks for posting!
Thanks for the compliment Laric.
I will say that as a whole I am enjoying the game. I say that with certain caveats though. 1) I get to play a melee oriented cleric which is something I do not always get to do while simultaneously always seeming to have to play a cleric in the plethora of games I have played in over the years. That in and of itself makes me rate this higher. 2) I enjoy the group I play this with.
I had warned the GM to take a good look through the messages/posts here about this AP because I had seen a lot of negative comments about the AP and he has made adjustments. What exactly they were, I do not know. He has informed us of at least one thing he left out but I can't remember why he did so.
I am currently running a Rise of the Runelords (Anniversary Edition) game for a different group and am thoroughly in love with that story so far. Just started what would be book 3, Hook Mountain Massacre. In terms of rating that AP with Second Darkness I would definitely say that RotRL wins.
The person that is playing the dwarf has had some reservations to certain aspects of this AP (dwarf with racial hatred of elves makes helping one and killing another hard to justify at times).
I admit the skill-a-thon that we had to go through while in the guise of drow got old fast (not that you could tell from my journal entry). That being mostly because my dice hate me and I was only getting 1 skill rank per level. I'm one of the first to say I hate "optimized" or "min-maxed" builds. I understand them, and I won't judge a person for doing so, but I did set my INT to 8 so I knew I was going to be shy in the skills department.
If I had to rate the game on a 1 to 10 scale I would give it a 6, maybe a 7 because of my character class and concept. Hating ranged weapons and loving wars, this fit perfectly with the AP, especially if you consider another earthfall incident as a ranged weapon. I think had the AP pushed more of a semi-good guy mentality in the early part of the AP, then the later desire to stop the drow would be there even with the elves themselves being tools. The pseudo-rogue aspect at the beginning does not lend well to wanting to be a 'hero.'
As it would turn out Gorum was not done in answering my prayers for the day.
We continued on for another hour in the direction only Quilindra knew. Then we began to hear the roaring laughter of someone followed by the wails of grief and despair from others. The swamp being rather featureless was doing a wonderful job of hiding whatever was making the noise with its fog and plants. Eventually we came upon another of the great creatures that had tried to swallow me whole riding upon a large plank of wood while being pulled by smaller creatures festooned with spikes.
Knowing that our ability to move anywhere in this terrain was difficult at best we slowly moved forward while granting ourselves boons for the upcoming conflict. The gambler was having a hard time of it. The swamp was sapping his strength and resolve quickly. Asking for Gorum to bless him with increased strength was all I could do to aid him. As for the rest, I asked for Gorum to grant us the ability to choose from the Lord of Iron’s many benefits as the combat shifted.
No sooner had I closed most of the distance to the creatures than the acid tongued human and the dwarf appeared behind the creatures using some sort of magics. Immediately after the large creature seemed to suddenly appear near the cleric of the drunken hero and was quickly grabbed up in its mighty fist. The cleric began vomiting forth whatever was left in his stomach after the last encounter with these creatures. Stepping forward I began attacking the creature with the Fang. Its hide though was strong and I had to throw everything I had into the attack in order to even cut its flesh. The cleric of the drunken hero managed to slip from his grasp easily enough once he had emptied his stomach . . . again, and managed to finish the creature off using the great marble stein he now carried.
The others looked like they had fallen into glass shards. Then jumped through more windows. Then jumped down a well with glass as water. It would seem that the creatures they fought were able to injure them for simply hitting them. The acid tongued human and the gambler looked the worst, though the dwarf didn’t look good. So, with a toothy grin at the bountiful blessing I asked for Gorum to shed his healing light onto those in attendance so that we could find more blessings.
We continued on but the swamp began to take its toll on my body. The general nature of the endless bog, and having to trudge through its uninhabitable environs was very off putting. Even with the endless bounty of Gorum I was beginning to feel run down. After drinking a few potions that the cleric of the drunken hero carried I began to feel much better but I admit I was still exhausted.
Eventually we came to a what looked to be an island when it was in fact just higher ground. A faint glow could be seen from within a ruined structure that stood in the middle of the grounds. The only other interesting fact was that the grounds here looked similar to the grounds around the gate we had entered. The grass here still grew and was green, the pervasive wilted look was not evident. Looking to Quilindra I asked if this was what we were seeking and she shook her head that it wasn’t and took cover behind a fallen pillar of stone.
The rest of us though moved forward cautiously with our weapons out. Suddenly the dwarf cried out in alarm and grabbed at his ankle. I simple metal trap had snared the dwarf before he had begun moving up the stairs into the ruined structure. Stepping forward I was about to assist the dwarf when he wrenched it open releasing his foot. It was then that a strange eldritch symbol began to glow on one of the pillars and a wave of magics washed over us. For a brief moment I was confused as to where I was but the feeling passed.
The acid tongued human ran past, using the dwarf as a spring board, and made it into the structure where the glow was coming from. It was then that a lithe and very agile creature suddenly appeared on top of one of the ruined walls. A few other creatures appeared between us and the acid tongued human. Having expected something to happen we were ready although the dwarf paused in his initial step as if confused for a moment.
The area was to confined to effectively fight in and the creature on the wall seemed to be the biggest threat so moving past the battle that was quickly unfolding I ran to attack the creature on the wall. It was during this run that the spirits that would surround the dwarf in his rage attacked me. Not understanding the full meaning of this, I ignored the attack to engage the creature. It seemed to have a tentacle and with it considerable reach. The attack that came as I closed opened a deep wound that would not stop bleeding. Perhaps it was the attack from the dwarfs spirits or the fact that the creature was high up on a wall but I missed. No sooner had that happened than the creature leaped away, deftly using the half fallen pillars as stepping stones. Roaring in anger at the cowardly disengagement of combat the acid tongued human appeared and using his magics caused us to appear near the creature, effectively boxing it in. The blades the creature wielded were many and sharp. When it was over everyone was bleeding a lot of blood from the cuts, the acid tongued human had fallen but was stable. It was decided that we would rest here as the cleric of the drunken god had used all of his abilities in the four hours it took us to get where we now were.
I personally wanted to continue but the damage to the group was substantial and the rest was needed by many. Even I had run through a large amount of my spells but was still capable of fighting. With the addition of my new ring the desire to sleep was almost lost on me as was my desire to eat. Hopefully, Gorum willing, something will arrive during the night to test my skills on, being awake for the full evening would guarantee I was ready for the fight, only Gorum would know if I was destined for the fight.
Thanks for the feedback Laric,the posts are fun (when work is slow enough that I have time to post them)!
I think this character has really made the AP a lot more bearable than it otherwise would have been. I mean a dwarven barbarian that can't stand being underground and hates order and rigid military life transitioning into a swashbuckling pirate has been a lot of fun. Especially because it was a magic item that did it, he doesn't have hardly a day of sea time to his name, but he sure sounds like it!
I found it very difficult to play certain points, and really the character should have left the story. His bitter, ancestral enemy is any kind of elf and right off the bat we forced to work with, then save, elves. Elves that are down-right nasty and hostile to the party. Then to top it off, we have to be forced into a Drow skin for an extended time. That night I seriously had to contemplate changing characters because I just couldn't see how the dwarf could get past that grudge. Eventually I just said that he was far more loyal to the group, but really if you consider that this group was just thrown together in Riddle Port and has a very brief time together before that point, I feel like I kinda copped out a bit with that decision.
I also think the skill-use gauntlet section of the AP was torture and really not fun for any of us. When you had two clerics with no skill points and other party members that were focused in areas that were not options for us (such as my darn barbarian bodyguard roll that required knowledge nobility??) it just wasn't fun at all. I would greatly suggest skipping that part and finding some other way for the group to work it's way up the social ladder. I think if I were to run it I would insert some search and destroy fights or some other tasks thought up by the house leaders.
Other than that, so far, it's been ok but I still think it's the group and the character mixes that have made it fun, not necessarily the AP.
Laric, I am glad you are enjoying the journals. I have been the GM for this AP, and really, Useplanb and Kallidos have gone above and beyond to convey the events of this adventure, and I wanted to publicly applaud them.
As with any game, the group really makes the difference. I am lucky to have a group of friends who really worked with me as I ran this. Being fairly new to GM'ing I had alot of reservation going into this AP, and now that we are on book 5, I have learned quite a bit. If I had to do it all over again, here is what I would alter:
-The introductory themes of the AP do not match the themes of the rest of the adventure. The characters are directed (appropriately so) to make shifty, seedy, urban-style characters. This works out well throughout book 1, but then shifts dramatically as the PC's are asked to essentially go save the world. As the players mentioned above many of them responded with a "What?! Who? Me?" reaction. Perhaps it is my latent romanticism, but when I read the adventure I envision this dramatic shift as the characters become swept up into these world-shattering events and transformed from everyman to heroes. As it turned out, the only real motivation became bloodlust, greed, and players desire to not derail my first adventure.
-At every stage of the adventure, there is a fairly significant NPC that the PC's have to deal with to progress the plot that treats them like garbage! I had to completely rewrite several NPC's to be more supportive of the group. Even still, there where several times where the party was on the verge of quiting simply because the people they were trying to save were jerks, and without a "noble soul" selfless type-character to rally the it took the players go along with it.
-As mentioned before, there are several skill challenges in this AP. They are conceptionally interesting but don't translate well to a group of players (perhaps a failing on my part). My players complained about them, but to be honest I reduced those parts of the adventure by at least 50%. The Drow Slave Point(SP) part of the adventure in particuliar required them to achieve 75 SP, I stopped at 30! If I could go back, I would used the SP thing intially as an intro to "life as a Drow" then shifted to specific tasks for individual NPC's. The book does this, but too little, too late.
In closing, I would say that the guts of this AP are great! The plot and story are excellent when you read it as a GM. Unfortunately, there are several points where you almost literally have to ram the plot down the PC's throats, and this might leave a bit of a bitter taste in their mouths. I hope that answered your questions.
Thanks to all you for your honest and insightful responses.
The campaign journals have been very entertaining to read, but it's also great to have some insight into what your experience has really been like. I'll keep what you have said in mind if I ever decide to run a Second Darkness campaign.
Question for Kallidos: I love the swashbuckling pirate dwarf angle of your character. However, it seems like this would be the worse possible AP to make a character who has an intense hatred of elves. I'm curious, did this happen by chance or were you hoping that your character would eventually be able to make peace with the elves through the events of this AP?
Questions for Khlaive: First off, I want to say that it sounds like you have done a great job with a very challenging AP.
You mentioned that you are fairly new to GM'ing, and that you had a lot of reservations about Second Darkness prior to starting, so what made you decide to go with SD? Were you considering running any other APs?
Also, with regards to the shift in campaign focus from "seedy urban setting" to "save the world" mindset, now that you know how things went for your group, what advice would you give to other DMs in dealing with this? I imagine being good guys from the start might make things easier in the later part of the AP, but wouldn't it make it more difficult at the start. Some people have suggested having an all elven party, any thoughts on that?
Questions for everyone: You've all described some of the challenges of this AP, but so far, what was your favorite moment/encounter? What do you think is the best adventure in this AP?
Actually I built the character as a rebellious youth sort of framework. I knew I was playing a barbarian so I imagined that he would not be able to deal with the rigid structure of stereotypical dwarven life, he needed to be out on his own and free. I didn't know anything about the AP except that there were drow plastered all over the cover, so I saw a trait that changed the ancient enemy to elves and decided to run with it. I had no idea that we would be turning into the saviors of the elven nation or I would have done it differently. I had to stretch it pretty far that the true neutral barbarian dwarf was enduring all of this abuse at the hands of the elves for the greater good of stopping another major celestial event. He would have been far more likely to just kill the elves and let some other group of crazy do-gooders take up the campaign while he knocked heads back in Riddleport.
The pirate thing just kind of manifested because of the loot we found. The character itself only has like 5 days in the water, he's never been a deckhand or a sailor of any kind. Early on we found this aquatic bane greatsword that just out of the players joking and interacting about how this dwarf was now going to be killing all the fishes and seaweed it sort of took on a life of itself. Eventually the GM said that I started hearing sea shanties in my head and that I felt like I was always at home in the water etc. I just started talking like a pirate and acting like I had always been on the sea. UseplanB's character Tsadok took a long time trying to handle the idea of a pirate dwarf, but it was fun so we just ran with it. Because of it, I believe this character has been the most memorable I've ever played.
As for the most fun, there is a battle scene where the party comes running down this path to a cove with bridges and planks and whatnot right on the water and they are all set and waiting for you. Being the military minded group that we are, our plan was run forward and crash into them while hitting them harder than they hit us. It worked for the first round, then the nice and quiet little caster bad guy way off in the back looks at me and the GM says those dreaded words "make a will save...". Well, crap! Suddenly my barbarian decided it would be a fantastic idea to jump off the boardwalk and take a swim under the action, where a giant killer whale was waiting to eat anyone that fell off. Of course the boss couldn't know I was wielding the aquatic bane greatsword and I ended up murdering that whale all on my own with the bad guy standing over me on the planks above raining down blows upon my head with his +3 mace or whatever it was.
After that scene, the black and white movie version of what it means to be a pirate was cemented upon this character concept and it never went back. That was a fun night.
Favorite moment or encounter?
Heh, its funny you should ask. Its become a running joke around the table that Tsadok is like a dog getting fed by his master every night and for the dog, every day is the "best day ever!" Every encounter we have had has steadily increased in difficulty so for the character "every encounter is his favorite encounter, and it was the best day ever!"
To be honest I think, as a player, my favorite encounter was the fight against all the drow in the cave on Devil's Elbow. It was the first time I got to use Fang, my dice stayed with me through the whole fight, I was crit by a nasty spell and damn near died, but kept on keeping on as a true Gorumite would.
As for memorable, the idea of hanging in the mouth of a demon (don't remember type), roaring in laughter at the ludicrousness of it all while continually punching away with a +2 Vicious Punch Dagger had to be a rather interesting sight.
I hope I didn't come off as overly negative. I actually like this AP. I chose to run the Second Darkness for a coupkle of reason. First among those reasons was ease of access. We just happened actually have all of the books available. Also, a lot like yourself, I was just curious. I hadn't heard much about the AP and thought lets try something different.
If you were planning on running this AP, I would make sure that at least one member of the group is an Elf or at least connected to the Elven community. Optimally, it should be a character that is central to the group and well liked. That way, the other characters will be more inclined to follow the plot because their helping their friend save his "family", even if their family is a bunch of pompous Elven jerks. Running an all Elven group would work, but you would have to completely rewrite the first book as I can't think of a valid reason for a band of Elven heroes to be working at a scuzzy humans filthy casino.
As far as party alignment goes, an "all-good" group wouldn't be ideal either. There are several parts of the adventure path where "moral flexablity" is required. A Paladin would really have a hard time donning magic drow flesh and pretending to be a sadistic dark elf in kinky underground S&M world.
Motivation is the key in this AP (rhyme not intended). This is really where I failed. Make going after the Drow personal for the PC's. If I could do it again, I would have a family member killed or kidnapped by the Drow. I would also make the fight where Kwava comes in and saves the party much more dangerous, so that his rescue is much more appreciated.
I'm sure I could think of more but I think that covers the key elements.
Since we were going to stay here on dry ground for an evening, we decided to look about to make sure that there would be no surprises. In the process of our search we noticed that the pervasive evil of the swamp itself was gnawing at the edges of the dry land we now stood on. In a matter of minutes the swamp seemed to swallow a large portion of the dry land and was rapidly approaching the steps of the ruined building we now sat in. With the removal of a glowing staff by the acid tongued human, the protective magics it wielded had disappeared, as did the glow.
An argument began among us as to what to do. Their desire to have spells from resting and my desire to continue on. If you could breathe, you could fight. There were plenty of potions among the group, as well as wands of offensive spells. Quilindras explanation that the location of the winter council was close and the rapidly rising waters of the swamp won out and so we began our trek again. The swamp began taxing our very strength and souls the moment we reentered its waters and began walking.
After about thirty minutes we began to see a large structure in the distance. As we closed the distance it was obvious that the citadel, which was also setting on semi-dry land, had been under siege. Great cracks in the outer walls, the outer doors having been ripped from their frames. Moving into the outer courtyard we could see diseased goat like men dancing around the area, drunk or just oblivious to our arrival. Large masses of plant like growth moved about of the area as well. Avoiding these creatures we made our way to the inner courtyard where we could see that the main doors to the citadel were sealed.
As we began moving forward the unmistakable sounds of skittering filled our ears. Suddenly the walls were covered in all manner of demons. Several of the creatures looked to be the same type of demon we fought earlier in the day. There were to many to fight, in Gorums name I was not proud to feel despair for the first time in my life at the prospect of battle. The fight would be glorious, but it was an unwinable scenario and our goal was in sight. Instead of the tide of demons washing over us they maintained their position on the walls, watching us with evil intent. After a few moments one of the demons leapt from the wall and landed in the center of the square, directly between us and the front door, his very bulk shaking the ground when he landed. The dwarf looked to charge but thankfully held his action.
With a smile that spoke of arrogance the demon asked why we were on their lands. When I replied that we were there to seek retribution on the winter council for their actions the demon looked surprised. Almost as quickly as it had been surprised the demons smile returned and it told us that our goals were the same. It approached the group and I could hear the dwarfs hand tightening on the pommel of his great sword. The demon agreed to allow us to enter but we would have to leave one of us behind. Before I could even protest, its arm snapped out and grabbed Quilindra. The demon said that she would be kept as safe as they could keep her, but if we did not remove the magics that prevented their entry quickly, she would die. Throwing her over its shoulder the demon leaped toward the wall, the rest of the demons retreating. The dwarf said, ‘Good riddance,’ but I wonder if he was talking about Quilindra, his hatred of elves overshadowed his reasoning at all times.
As we approached the doors a voice shouted down to us asking us why were there. I replied that we had been sent by the Queen and arrived from the capital city after using the elven gates. There was no immediate reply so the dwarf began insulting and threatening our questioner. Whether that worked or not the door opened slightly and we were rushed inside. The inside of the citadel looked vastly different than the outside. Where the battle damage from the siege had worn at the walls, the interior was spartan but clean. The elf that greeted us told us that he was in charge of the guards and again asked why were there. When we asked about a general Alevra, his recognition at the name was apparent. He told us to rest, and that food and beds would be provided. When we were cleaned up and ready he would take us to meet with the winter council.
The rooms they provided were easily identifiable as cells, but they contained two beds each, and they were dry. The doors remained open unless we closed them and that a guard was posted at the end of the hall if we had any questions. Hospitality here was on par with Crying Leaf and much better than those received while in the capital. For a few hours I rested and then tracked down the guard captain to ask him about those in the council. He was happy to inform me of each of the four members and what their expertise brought to the council. I learned that the druid was an elf that was older than any the guard captain had ever known of. That he was a traditionalist, and did not look into the present for immediate solutions, but looked to the long view of actions. There was a priestess of Calistra who was the most laid back in her affairs. To which the guard captain gave me a knowing wink and smile, although I do not know why. Her opinions generally caused the druid discomfort and that council meetings would devolve into shouting matches. There was a wizard, but he rarely left his room and was known to have a bad temper. The last council member was a warrior and that she seemed to have the most level head, but was focused on their war with the demons outside the walls.
Discussing our options with the rest of the group we decided to start with the Priestess of Calistra, and again the wink and wry smile from the guard captain. After arriving we could tell that her chambers were rather tailored to a comfortable lifestyle. The bed was rather large and images of wasps everywhere. In fact the images strongly resembled the stone constructs we fought in order to leave the capital. We explained to the best of our knowledge that the General Alevra that was rumored to be here was in fact working with house Azrinae to bring about another Earthfall. She then explained to us that the “general” had in fact fled the council long ago. An altercation with the druid caused the magics that protected the winter council from the demons outside to momentarily fail. She did pledge her assistance, but said that we would have to convince others as well. So we left to speak with the mage.
Before we entered into he areas the guard captain stayed back and said that we were on our own. He had no intention of going anywhere near the man. This should have been our fist clue, the meeting was short and rather non-existent. The pale elf, rather reminiscent of the pale woman that traveled with us, ignored our questions and pleas. Eventually he turned and told us to leave, when we tried again to petition his aid he all but physically threw us out of his room.
We decided to try speaking with the guard captains superior. Her chamber was rather spartan and very simple in design, the woman wore a suit of full plate armor and had a seriousness to her that spoke of martial skill. Unfortunately the mages demeanor pretty much sealed the dwarf to verbally accosting the warrior for her assistance. Even with the gambler and I trying to smooth out the shock of the verbal assault she was like ice. She accepted our reasoning and did offer to help but told us to remove the dwarf from her presence and warned us of even allowing him to speak in front of the druid.
Moving to the druids chamber I told the dwarf that he wasn’t going in. He protested that he wanted to go anyway to “talk” with the elf. When I explained again that he wasn’t going in, I expected there to be a fight. Instead we both glared at each other with neither of us giving way. I told the rest to go in and explain the situation and to see if they can get his assistance, while I stood outside with the dwarf. I have no illusion as to the power of the dwarf, I have seen him cut down many creatures and when it came to martial skill, I imagine that he would win out over me, but I was not going to let him enter the chamber and foul it all up.
After a few minutes the door opened and we were informed that he would help us if we would remove some demons from one of the outer towers. Considering the state of the citadel, I did not understand what that would accomplish. The gambler just shrugged and quietly explained that the dwarf was probably right and that we should just ignore the whole thing. The acid-tongued human also looked to agree with the gambler. The insanity of the swamp must have finally taken its toll, because to these three the idea of curling up to die was more sane than stopping another Earthfall. Their disgust of the elves was overshadowing their desire to live. COWARDS! BLOODY SPINELESS COWARDS! Gorum damn their souls for eternity, I had no intention of dying to a coward or because of the will of cowards to do nothing.
Marching to the main door in disgust I was surprised to see that the others were following. When I turned to look at them, they were preparing the gear for a fight. I shook my head and went outside. The cleric of the drunken hero said that he had magics that would take us straight to the tower but when he attempted to do so, nothing happened. So instead we walked.
Avoided the large shambling plant like creatures and the sick dancing man goats we made it to the tower and began a long and arduous climb. The fact that the base of the tower was filled with all manner of feces didn’t help much. The stench was overpowering and several of the group began retching at the smell. The climb up the stairs took a fair amount of time, several times we would have to leap across open gaps in the stairs. All of us would tie ourselves off before making the leap, and several times I didn’t get the distance I had hoped for and would have fallen if not for the ropes. The impatience of the dwarf got the better of him and his desire to move forward safely was overshadowed by his desire to reach the top. His plummet was avoidable but the vast amount of demonic spoor broke most of his fall and eventually he made it to the top covered in it. Perhaps that fall may blunt his attitude somewhat, but I doubt it.
No sooner had we almost cleared the last stairs to the top of the tower than waves of magical electricity flew down into all of us. The smell of cooked flesh and burning hair momentarily masking the smell of the demonic crap below. The pale woman collapsed from the assault and an immediate prayer to Gorum for his aid for the cowardly attack was all I had time to do as the dwarf had already run up top and began his assault.
The top of the tower contained several of the large bird like men that we had fought long ago in the ruined city of Celwynvian. Although these seemed larger somehow, perhaps the darkness of the room in the past made it seem smaller then. It did not matter, and with a prayer to Gorum my size increased and I began to move into the creatures as they moved forward. The dwarf was immediately set upon by several of the creatures and the blood that flew was equally dwarf red as demonic black. After a few moments the dwarf fell to the onslaught and the remainder of us managed to drop the creatures in short order with minimal damage received. The dwarf though was on deaths door and was rather close to visiting Pharasma but the cleric of the drunken hero was able to prevent his departure.
Breathing heavily, I looked about and smiled at the carnage that had happened. Gorum would be pleased.
Returning to the keep we again returned to the druids chambers, the dwarf and I remaining outside again. After a few moments, the others returned and said that the council meeting would begin on the morning of the next day. The guard captain then said that they had cleared out space for us in the keep that were better accommodations. He led us to a large room with several of the beds inside and said that it was for important people that would travel to the keep at times. Looking at him, I said that the cells where we stayed previously were fine. I doubted that this room was magically warded as the one in Kyonin, but the delivery of the guard captains offer was exactly the same.
He then looked in the room and then back at me, all with a confused look on his face, not knowing why I was reluctant to enter. Even asking for Gorums blessing to see the glow of magic could do nothing to prove the room was safe. The pervasive magic of the keep caused the room to glow as much as the hall I know stood in. Even the others of the group were hesitant to enter. When the guard captain finally said that he didn’t understand why we didn’t want to go in, I explained in detail the problems we encountered in Kyonin.
He still looked perplexed but assured us that the room was just a bigger, nicer room than where we had stayed earlier. He even offered to come by every few hours to prove that the room and everything was “fine.” With a long sigh I entered into the room expecting . . . something, but nothing happened. Dropping my gear near one of the bunks I quickly cleaned myself up to some degree and rested for a few hours.
Waking on the arrival of the guard captain to check on us I asked if I could seek audience with the warrior woman. Nodding and guessing that it wouldn’t be a problem he escorted me to her room. Some of the others decided to go along, either fearful of the possibility we were in another “room” or just because they wanted something else to do. The woman was respectful, if curt, and I spoke at length with her about the demons outside. I specifically talked about the pig like demon that held Quilindra captive. She explained that their natural demonic nature made them exceptionally resilient and that weapons devoted to good would bypass their defenses and harm them. Taking this under advisement I made sure that on the next morning I would pray to Gorum for his assistance in defeating the unnatural defenses of these creatures. Unsure as to Quilindra’s fate, I wanted to make sure I would be ready when the time came.
The next morning arrived and as a group we were summoned to the seat of the winter council. The guard captain gave us a quick explanation of what was expected, when to stand and sit and so on. He also informed us that the mage was in a particularly foul mood and was very unhappy at having to attend. Knowing that he was very close to snapping, I made sure that I would be immune to one of his spells should he try and cast it. We were seated at a large table and made sure to follow the rights of standing when the council entered and sitting after the eldest, the druid, sat down.
It was then we pleaded our case to find the location of this General Alevra and prevent another earthfall incident. Shortly there after the arguments began. The priestess and warrior trying to shout over the mage while the druid sat there looking disinterested or resigned to a fate he no longer wished. A sudden crash of the dwarfs axe on the table brought their attention away from each other and for the moment, shut them up. The cleric of the drunken hero and dwarf again tried to make the council understand that their power was being usurped in the capital, that someone was using their name to control their government and allow the earthfall incident to pass by without anyone knowing it was happening until it was to late. For a brief moment it seemed to strike through when the mage openly admitted to sending the warriors to kill us while we were in Kyonin and that if we would have just died none of this would be happening. My eyes shot wide open and knocking my chair over I moved to the mage and told him that I had words for him and that at the end of the conversation one of us was going to be dead.
This seemed to shock everyone and the mage snapped. Screaming that Alevra was right and that the earthfall was needed to cleanse the world of its taint, then suddenly he disappeared. The druid was the first to grasp what had happened and that it shouldn’t have been able to happen at all. As the three remaining members of the winter council stood, the druid began running for some stairs with a quick shout for us to follow. Running up the stairs into a tower the druid explained that the mage was removing the spike. When we arrived in the room he was just reaching down to grab the spike. As he touched the item he transformed into some form of dark skinned elf. If he did in fact turn to drow I was unsure because no soon had he changed than several demons of all size appeared into the chamber. One of the demons was the one who took Quilindra who deposited her rather unceremoniously onto the ground.
Because the dwarf waited I was able to ask for Gorums blessing for his sword to bypass their defenses and then moved deeper into the room closing the distance to the mage. The large pig-faced demon that dropped Quilindra was also holding the chains to another large demon who looked to have been badly burned on part of its body. That demon broke its chains and rushed at me carrying not only to the other side of the room but through the very keep walls. Grinning at the awesomeness of the attack I made sure that I was on top of the creature when we impacted with the grounds some eighty feet below.
As I stood I managed to ask for Gorums blessing as well and the Fang would now be able to cleave through these demons with ease. It was then that I noticed that buried in the demons skull was a fragment of the Fang. Roaring Gorums name I laid into the creature with all abandon. For several seconds we fought, Gorum blessing the attack with Spartolos warriors every few seconds. In time the Spartolos were able pile onto the demon making my decapitation of the demon possible. As I offered a prayer of thanks to Gorum and touched the Fang to the remaining part, the weapon fused together with the heat of the sun. I could feel the power of Gorum burning my soul even as I held the blade. (PLAYER COMMENT: Its now a great sword, with flaming burst and viscous, with the viscous damage happening even when holding the blade and that it is unavoidable, no DR or resistance will reduce the d6 fire damage taken.)
As I sheathed the blade and tried to take stock of how I was going to return to the fight, the pale woman stepped from a door of magical energy. She looked like she had been in close combat, something I know she shouldn’t do. Quickly she said that the mage was invisible and no one could find him, the that the cleric was having a hard time. I nodded and with another arcane gesture a doorway appeared and we stepped through into glorious carnage.
As I stepped from the door I asked for Gorum to reveal those cowardly attackers that used magics to hide and immediately the mage appeared standing next to the dwarf. Knowing that the dwarf would now make short work of the mage I ran into the room charging the nearest demon I could find. The power of the Fang was unstoppable and within seconds two large demons were dead from its blade. Just as I began to charge another demon I heard the unmistakable sound of metal being driven into stone and suddenly the demons disappeared. With great sadness I turned to look at who was still standing. All were well, roughly, although I could not find Quilindra anywhere.
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AHOY LADS! Tha’s right ya squinty-eyed barrel-jacks I be back from yet another voyage full of plunder an gold ready ta spend me ill-gotten booty here in this fancified waterin’ hole! Pop tha corks and tap tha barrels, I be tyin’ one on tonight arrrrr! Wha’s tha’?!? Ya didna even save me favorite stool by tha bar?? You lot be full of scurvy rats says I, no love in them tar black hearts is there? HAH! Tsadok there been tellin’ ya stories again has he, well I be glad tha’ I came back just in time ta set tha record straight.
Nay I won’t be borin’ ya with tha details of what happened, I’ll be jumpin’ right up to where that stuffy Tsadok brought ya ta in our adventure. Where was he? Oh aye tha’ crazy demon day, now I tell ya tha’ was one day I was for sure this pirate was a gonner. Tsadok knew better than ta let me get in an talk to tha’ stuffy druid elf so once again he kept me outside. Lemme tell ya mates, by this time I’da had just about as much elf as I could stand. I know he’s told ya about all the underhanded, shifty, not ta mention downright rude things them sharp-eared gits had done ta us all while we was savin’ their people! We was heroes we was, heroes treated like beggers an pack-mules! But tha high druidness there offered us some safe rooms and lodgings until tha big meetin’ tha next day. Of course tha last time some high-n-mighty elf-twit offered us anythin’ we ended up in some sort of time-warp room that served us endless amounts of bacon an sweet wine while we wasted away, so of course we was a bit nervous about this one.
It were a bit funny ta watch Tsadok try an explain ta tha guard cap’n there why we was all himmin’ an hawwin’ an draggin’ our feet about goin’ through tha’ doorway. Tsadok, even though he be havin’ orc blood ragin’ through his veins (an believe me he is solid as a dwarven rock wall in a fight) still manages ta try an make sure he doesn’a say things tha’ might offend if’n he can help it. Finally he just gave up an explained tha last time, but the guard still didna seem ta get it. At some point we just decided ta go for it and we plunged right in, an it weren’t half bad for elf rooms. We quickly spread out as we be wont to do, an I found a nice cozy place ta rest me weary bones. Ya never know how long it may be until yer next restin’ spot, so I take advantage of places ta sleep! Besides, me old dogs were tired again from all the fightin’ and walkin’ we’d been doin’ of late, so sleep was called for!
As far as I know, tha night went by wonderfully as I slept like a wee baby at his mother’s neck I did. The guard cap’n came an rousted us right early and we all went through our respective mornin’ rituals. After a bit we headed up ta where all them high an mighty elf folks on tha Winter Council were supposed ta meet. Tha’ guard tried ta explain how we was supposed ta act, all proper an whatnot, pretty much ignored every last bit of tha’ as I didna give a ripped sail if I offended them sneaky rats. I figured by this time they be owin’ us a ton of respect an glory fer all tha hard work we’d already done for them anyways. If somethin’ I did managed ta offend them, I figured theys can just sit on it!
They usher us inta this “holy” place an all four of them black-hearted scoundrels already be seated and tappin’ fingers on tha table waitin’ for us. I did my best, yet again, ta convince these dense rock-headed elves tha’ someone was using their name ta corner the Queen an dominate the court back in their home. I was also sure ta mention how useless an weak they had become just sittin’ up here on their high horse an not even meetin’ ta work out issues. As soon as I finished, they broke out inta squabblin’ with each other like a whole nest of wharf rats fightin’ over a bloated seal corpse. We couldna get a word in edgewise until the crazy mage said somethin’ about he was tha one tha’ ordered us trapped in tha’ crazy bacon room! At tha’ comment, me giantest axe came whistlin’ down an lodged itself firmly in tha’ fancy table they all were sittin’ about, got their attention right fast it did! About tha’ time, Tsadok said somethin’ menacin’ into tha’ crazy mage’s ear (he’s good at sayin’ menacin’ things) an tha’ mage’s loony basket filled right up ta overflowin’ it did. He screamed out somethin’ about Alevra bein’ right an we all should be killed in tha next cataclysm. Then poof, his narrow butt disappeared right outta tha’ silly room.
When tha’ happened, tha rest of the Winter Council looked at each other as the color drained from their faces. HAH they really were pasty gits for a minute there, hah hah *cough cough* sorry there mate, no offence intended. They went screamin’ outta tha’ room hollerin’ for us ta follow them cause they feared tha’ simple-minded finger-wiggler had gone an pulled up tha spike, which is what was keepin’ all them nasty demons outta tha castle there as well, just ta mention tha’ little bit of information. We made it up ta where they be safe-guardin’ tha’ sacred iron spike just as the mage was yankin’ it up outta tha ground. Well if tha’ weren’t bad enough, as soon as he did it he started screamin’ and writhin’ on tha spot as his skin turned jet black an his hair turned white as cold steel in tha frozen mornin’ air. So, tha’ how they change… We had been wonderin’ how Alevra had managed ta hide her pale skin so long underground an against all tha Drow magic, now we know she didna have to because she straight changed her colors! Them elves get weirder by tha moment I tell ya, never trust ya one of them golden haired gits!
About that time, bwooop multiple nasty demons appear in tha room with no warnin’. Tha’ big pig-faced one from outside plopped Quilindra on the ground sayin’ he was a demon of his word, well weren’t we in for a big surprise. Just as blades an spells start swingin’, Quilindra sheds her skin and turns inta one sexy slinky winged succubus. She turned them evil black eyes at me an suggested tha’ I head downstairs ta let in all of her friends, an tha’ sounded like a right sensible idea ta me. Her demon magic ended up getting’ past me natural dwarven resistance an she charmed me right outta me socks, arrgh it were embarrasin’. I took two steps towards tha door when that elven cleric of the Wasp God also made a suggestion tha’ instead I go murder somethin’ an her suggestion seemed ta dominate my mind so I figured tha’ was a better idea than goin’ downstairs.
So I killed whatever it was tha’ was in front of me, an as soon as I finished tha’ then I remembered that beautiful demon lass wanted me ta go downstairs, so I shrugged my shoulders an headed downstairs again. But noooooo, tha cleric again yells at me ta find tha now Drow mage and get tha spike from him. She didna care tha’ he was invisible, she said ta find him so find him I did. About tha’ time, Tsadok steps through some dimensional door with our sorceress an rips tha invisibility right off tha’ poor drow, which happened ta be standin’ right next ta me giant sword… it didna end well for him between my steel and Maleeka’s spells.
Well, I found tha mage like tha lady said, so since I was done with her task I remembered again tha’ I was supposed ta head downstairs an open tha doors so I shouldered me blade an started headin’ downstairs. Out of the noise tha’ cleric wench yells at me again ta put tha spike back in tha right spot an tha’ there sounded like a right good plan, so I did what she asked an put tha spike back in tha hole in tha ground an bamm! All them demons poof evaporated away, poor Tsadok was fit ta be tied I tells ya. Anyway, I never did get tha’ door open, but I had to keep doin’ what tha’ cleric wanted for a good couple of weeks an tha’ were embarrasin’!
Once the initial fight was over, I decided to help the druid move through the keep to make sure that there were no surprises, or areas that needed to be defended while repairs were made. Moving about the keep I could tell that fighting had been everywhere. The demons used the opportunity created from the mages removal of the spike to great use. I was unsure how many were dead but I did offer my services to those that needed it and were not openly carrying a bow. The druid did what he could for the remainder of the morning before asking if we would look through the mages quarters for any information that could assist us in our quest. After an extensive look through both his personal chambers and his lab, all we could find was a journal that listed several houses within the court that were aware of Alevra’s plans or were assisting the mage in asserting his control over the general court. We returned to the druid with the journal and explained what we had found, he took the book and said that he would be leaving for Kyonin to inform the queen of what had happened. Before he left, he thanked us for our assistance and asked us to wait until the following morning when he would be back. His demeanor was different according to the others, more open and honest. Having not talked to him because I was keeping an eye on the dwarf I took their observation at face value.
I spent the rest of the day talking with the warriors of the hall that had interesting stories to tell of the fight as I also regaled them with my own tales. Gorum does not approve of warriors boasting of their accomplishments, but I took the evening activities as a way to get the soldiers to unwind, and learn of Gorum through my tale of the combat. As it would turn out, not many warriors wanted to relive the mornings assault, their resolve seemed frayed at best. Those that did listen and speak though may in time worship Our Lord in Iron.
The next morning the druid returned and again thanked us for our assistance from the previous day. He also wanted to impart that the queen was also very pleased at our actions and as a reward opened up the keeps vaults for us to take items of our choosing. I found a pair of gauntlets that were more powerful that what I currently wore as well as a breastplate of mithral that far exceeded what I currently wore. I discovered that it did not inhibit my movement in any way and was extremely comfortable to wear. Oddly enough, the cool temperature of the lower vault seemed to rise to a more pleasant temperature after donning the armor. Before I left I found a few pearls that could be used to allow me to ask for Gorums blessing in increasing my size, should I use my only blessing of the day. Why Gorum would suddenly allow for this by finding a small pearl I did not know, but to question the mind of a god is to invite madness.
Seeing that other members also found items of great import to them, the dwarf was also wearing armor similar to mine, but his was already dirtier. How he managed that task in such a short time I’ll never know. Once we had finished there the druid said that also in the lower vaults were books where the mage had spent time doing research. Information there could possibly assist us in what we would need to stop Alevra. For a few hours we poured through dusty and dirty tomes until the pale woman found a tome that included hand written notes. The druid confirmed that both sets of hand writing matched both Alevra’s and the now dead mages hand writing. It was then that the druid explained that the elves were cursed and that if they engaged in base behavior, or were, in fact, evil enough, that they would transform into the drow race. To me that seemed ludicrous, but he said this with a straight and serious face. My skills in gambling were poor so for all I knew he was just bluffing, but this was not time for a joke and he had no reason to bluff, so it must be true.
Once we finished in the vaults the druid wanted to take us to Kyonin where the queen wished to personally thank us for our assistance in the defense of the winter councils seat of power. Using magics of nature we were whisked to Kyonin in a short amount of time, appearing just outside the large building where we were taken to after the assault while we slept. Again we went instead to the inner court where not only was the queen present, but a much smaller retinue of advisors as well as Kwava and Shalelu. Once the formal thanking was finished the queen shooed her advisors away and a more relaxed atmosphere was given. I spent a few moments talking with both Shalelu and Kwava, glad to see they were well and then with the queen. During this time we ate and drank as plenty of food had been provided, even meats.
After an hour of pleasantries, the talk became serious. The information learned in the vaults and with information imparted to us from the queen we had little time in stopping Alevra from causing another Earthfall. She provided a map of the land of black blood, the area that the drow matriarch told us to look for House Azrinae. The map was copied from a map that an elven pathfinder had drawn long ago. Along with this we learned of a creature that was strong with the earth that lived there who would impart knowledge and information in exchange for items of power. Since we had a magical bag that the dwarf carried full of items of great magic that none of us used or wanted, we felt that we had what we needed should we need to talk with the creature. Before we left Kyonin by activating the portal of marble, we purchased a diamond needed to cast a spell that could raise a person from the dead, should that happen, as well as several thousands of gold worth of diamond dust.
Knowing that again we would return to the dark lands as we began to call it, the others realized that many of them were unable to see in the dark. Again, these sun dwellers forget and did not think to locate an item within the vaults to take or even to purchase when we arrived in Kyonin or when purchasing the dust. The dwarf and I remained at the gate while the others quickly reentered the city markets and found several magical items that would allow them the ability to do what the dwarf and I could do naturally.
Doing what we could to disguise ourselves before activating the portal, which was nothing more than darkening our flesh with charcoal, and pulling our hoods over our heads. The dwarf . . . well, we would just have to hope for the best. We did see some creatures within the drow city that were his height, but not as well armed or as hairy. There were two paths that we could follow according to our map, one which was heavily used was quicker, and the other was longer but less traveled. The reason it was less traveled was because it was seen as more dangerous. Knowing that arriving in the land of black blood and succeeding in stopping Alevra would require for our group to go unseen, we took the longer route.
We traveled for the better part of a day, about the time we decided to stop and rest the dwarf began complaining that his feet once again hurt, as if we didn’t already know. Finding a small alcove that would allow us to move off the path we followed, the acid-tongued human set up a large tent that he claimed was more comfortable to stay in than the chambers we now traveled through. I decided to sleep for a few hours after having set up the tent while the others ate in silence and rested. Once that was done I stayed on watch until the group had fully rested. While on watch with the cleric of the drunken hero I began hearing a noise that sounded like something large being dragged was getting closer. Moving to the edge of the alcove I had to leap back in as suddenly a large snake or worm of some kind moved by in the direction we traveled. The creature was so large that it filled the tunnel and its flesh seemed to be coated in some sort of dark liquid which it left behind in small puddles once it passed. Not wanting to touch the foul liquid I reported to the others in the morning of what had happened and that we should probably avoid touching the liquid as we traveled on.
About mid-day, I assume, we found that the tunnel became larger and we also noticed that the small puddles we had been stepping over as we walked were now much larger within this chamber. Large enough that we would have to skirt around the small pools rather than just stepping over them. The room itself was also extremely cold, enough that I felt asking for Gorums blessing to protect me from the cold was warranted. A short way into the chamber we were suddenly set upon by these odd creatures that breathed cones of black mist that seemed to drain the health of all. For several long seconds we fought and killed off the creatures, the dwarf finding that his sword seemed to have no problem cutting their thick hides. Once we healed the damage done we began to move forward again, giving the larger pools a much wider berth.
We continued on for hours until the great tunnel began to narrow. Eventually the tunnel became small enough that at times even I had suck in my gut to move through the area. It was then that we noticed that light seemed to be coming from ahead. Shortly after that the tunnel opened into a large cavern with multiple large plants of varying colors that grew so tall that small tendrils from the upper part of the plant fell back down to the ground. The light came from the plants and a large amount of glowing fungus that grew in patches around the cavern. It was a rather pleasing sight and somewhat relaxing after all we had seen in these dark lands.
As we moved further into the cavern we noticed that the plants could sense our presence and the small tendrils would reach out for us. It was at the same time that one of the tendrils found purchase on the gambler that the drow and dark skinned dwarves attacked from a side passage high up in the cavern wall. One of the dwarves was rather large and appeared to be under the same spell that I used to increase my size and strength as well. Along with these cowardly attackers was some sort of black jelly like cube with a blackened skull floating above the main cube.
A quick glance at the gambler showed that he was in a deep slumber, the plant appearing to have some sort of poison his frail human form could not overcome. Roaring in anger and asking for Gorums blessing I also increased my size and moved towards the closest creature, which happened to be the jelly like cube. As I stepped forward I heard a cry of alarm from the dwarf, followed by a crash as a deep pit suddenly appeared beneath his feet. The acid tongued human ran towards the enlarged dwarf and it was at this time I could no longer pay attention to my companions. A flurry of attacks from the drow, mind spells from another dwarf, and foul magics from the cube kept my attention. For several seconds I fought everything within reach, and eventually the large dwarf appeared on my side and announced his presence with a grievous blow to my side. Several attacks from the cube like creature seemed to pull at my very body, trying to weaken its form in some way, but by Gorums blood I resisted everything. Sensing only myself I continued to attack and kill everything. The black cube, two drow, both the caster dwarf and enlarged one fell to my blade. Gorum blessing my every stroke with another Spartolos warrior as my vision began to close to a long tunnel. As the last creature fell I heard the words of prayer from the cleric of the drunken hero and it would appear that even he enjoys watching a good fight for I was healed a great amount. (PLAYER COMMENT: I started the fight with 174 health and ended with 7, the cleric was doing what he could to keep himself alive after being hit with an Enervate that critted. The barbarian was in the pit the whole time, and the rogue was out of it until the very end when the other cleric was finally able to free him from the plant. The monk had dimension doored his way up to the top to take out the drow mage that was there. I was definitely feeling the melee love from all the bad guys as well as a lot of magic from the cube and duergar. Our sorcerer was unable to play that evening.) With a final roar of defiance at the denizens of these dark lands I moved to begin assisting those that needed healing as well.
We continued through the forest of odd plants, avoiding their reach and once we had made a good distance away from the fight we stopped to rest for the evening. Sadly it was a quiet and uneventful one. In the morning we again began our trek towards the lands of the black blood. Sometime in what I assume to be the early afternoon we could see a large domed structure in the distance. As we got closer the surrounding grounds were littered with small 3-4’ tall spikes of natural stone rising from the floor of the cavern we were now in. When we reached the outer doors and opened them we found the bodies of two dead drow warriors and could hear the unmistakable sound of combat deeper in the building.
When we moved further in we saw a large female creature that appeared to be made of dark colored stone fighting several drow females. The drow were employing their gods magic in an attempt to kill off what I assume was the creature we were meant to confer with. The group and I moved into the room with war cries and made short work of the drow. In the back of my head the warning began but I payed no heed. Thanking us for our assistance, the creature asked why were here. So we told it of our desire to locate a drow matron called Alevra who was using ancient magics to destroy the surface world. The creature nodded and claimed to sense the presence of drow far into one of the many caverns. She told us to head to the top of a giant plant and there we would be able to stop their ritual. As thanks for the information I offered the creature the large gem we were given as payment, but she refused saying that our assistance was payment enough. Again, a warning in my head that something was wrong, but again, I ignored my gut. Gathering additional information from the creature about the area we were going to go to was given and again we offered the gem, this time though, she accepted the payment. Knowing that time was short we made haste for this giant plant. Late in the evening we arrived to what appeared to be a giant root that fell some 300’ from the cavern roof. The sides of the root covered in the feces of the bats that moved about its trunk high above.
As we stood there trying to figure out what to do, and how to do it, others began voicing their concerns that something about this was not right. Even though the root looked to have small wooden alcoves and walls high above, the idea that drow would be here enacting some ritual seemed wrong. The acid tongued human climbed part way up the root before returning to say he saw no evidence of anyone there. Again the feeling returned, almost as a condescending reproach at my failure to heed its warning. Cursing at the lost time, we returned to the creature. We arrived back at the shrine very late in the evening or early in the morning. It was at this time that we confronted her about her advice. She proclaimed innocence and that she told us all she knew. Knowing this to be a lie I stepped forward roaring at her to tell us what we wanted to know. Shaken by the force of my voice and the dwarf walking up to her with his sword out is when the illusion seemed to fade. Standing before us was a drow who sneered at us before using her magics to run away before we could act.
As the dwarf and I cursed at our being duped and having lost almost a day traveling I noticed a small crack near the alter where the drow had been standing. The dwarf and gambler confirmed that there was a door under the alter but it was going to a lot of strength to move the alter aside. Roaring again in anger, the rage in my blood boiling I called out to Gorum for all his strength. As the others moved to help, I shoved the large stone out of the way. (PLAYER COMMENT: Got to use Strength of the Gods to increase my Strength from 22 to 26 [as I already had a +4 enhancement bonus] and the rage increased it to a 30 for a +10 bonus and rolled a 15 on the d20.)
The opening revealed a long spiraling stair that led deeper down into the earth. I looked at the dwarf wondering just how deep the earth went as we descended down the stairs. The steps though were very slick with moisture and the cleric of the drunken hero was having difficulty navigating his way down the stairs. When we arrived at the bottom we saw a large crystal with a creature that looked like the drows illusion inside. The figure did not move and appeared to be frozen within. For several minutes we looked at the structure and it wasn’t until the dwarf said that he heard a voice in his head saying that the light of day would free the creature from the crystal prison. The dwarf seems to hear a lot of voices in his head. Shrugging at the idea, the cleric of the drunken hero cast a spell of light onto the crystal. Moments later the crystal shattered and the figure inside was free, growing in size to that of the drow illusion. The creature then thanked us for our assistance and the situation was so identical to our last one that I had to make sure, so I poked her with my finger. The action surprised her and she looked from where I poked her to me, the anger at the action was evident but she did nothing. She did feel of cold stone though and not some soft drow.
Asking us to meet her above in her chambers she disappeared up the steps having no issues with their being slick with moisture. When we reached the top we repeated why we were in the dark lands and what we were attempting to do. The information that she gave us told us of five different areas within these lands where runes of power had been activated. She told us that we would have to deactivate the runes somehow before we could stop Alevra from causing another Earthfall. Using the map we had been given she marked their locations and corrected a few errors as well as told us what she sensed was in the area so that we would be better prepared. Knowing that time was short we decided to rest anyway.
With a late start the next morning we left her shrine and proceeded to the first and closest rune. The gambler knew what the creatures, called ropers, were that we were told were in the area and that they looked like stone to blend into their terrain and that their attacks used some sort of toxin to weaken the body so they could eat their prey. After a good days march we arrived at the location on our map and looked up the 150’ cliff face we would have to climb to reach the rune. The acid tongued human and sorcerer was able to move us all with magic to the top of the cliff where we appeared before six of these oddly shaped creatures with long tentacle like arms. Lightning seemed to arc from a glowing rune in the ground and strike the creatures at random doing no damage. It was also then that the gamble commented that they were immune to electricity as well, and that they hated fire.
Before anyone could act the gambler charged to the center roper and attacked with his hatchets. No sooner had he done so than the acid tongued human moved to one of the creatures on our right. The ropers proved to move slowly as the gambler had told us, but their reach was something that was unexpected. Three of the ropers attacked the gambler with multiple tentacles from as far away as 50’ from where the gambler stood. The tentacles damage seemed minor but the gambler suddenly collapsed as again his frail human constitution could not handle the toxin. Not wanting to risk suffering the same fate, a quick prayer to Gorum to grant me his vigor and stamina gave me all the protection needed.
Drawing the Fang I charged the closest roper and almost cut it in half but before I could land the killing blow the sorceress blasted it apart with her fire magics. She had also managed to wall one of the creatures off with glowing walls of magical energy so that we could slow down their attacks. The fight though went quickly as most of the group focused their attacks to drop the creatures quickly. Once they were dispatched we began working on how to deactivate the rune when the acid tongued human tried asking the rune to calm down. The electricity seemed to wane somewhat and I was reminded of the watery creatures from long ago in Celwynvian, perhaps this was something similar. After a few moments the electricity seemed to fade to nothing, but not before discharging into a few of us.
Nodding at our success we began planning our hike to the next rune.