So I went to give Her Majesty a piece of my mind. When I found her, she and the rest of the guys were heading out to beat on some bandits. How could I stay mad at her? I mean, she let me beat on bandits to my heart's content and even throw fences at them! Then she gave me a job where I get to kill people in an official capacity. How sweet is that? Now when I stride down Owlbearton's streets (can you call muddy lanes streets?), people treat me with respect. Which is very cool. So me and Merisiel have made up. How can you not like a Queen that is also amazing with the daggers?
I was wondering what Merisiel was up to when she sent me on that long "diplomatic mission" to Daggermark. She didn't tell me that that kingdom was full of assassins! I almost lost my life getting back here. I guess that she was just trying to get me out of the way. I have half a mind to commit regicide. Or is that queenicide? Well, whatever it is, she better have those knives very sharp and hope she gets the jump on me. Cause I am flaming mad!
[runs out the door with murder on the mind]
With the skeletons defeated, our bedraggled party drags itself back to the central chamber. Though the urge was strong to open the gate and finish this thing, common sense rules for once and we decide to spend the night and recuperate. Besides, with Kyra being drained of the power of her goddess for the day, we didn't want to face the certain undead monster that we knew was lying beyond that gate.
So we trudge back upstairs to where our insane friend with the crossbow is waiting. This would be a good chance to sleep but also to steel my resolve for the morrow. Facing this talking undead menace is something that I have dreaded since we first found out about him, but I believe that Gorum will steel me and allow me to face down this foe with courage and glory, even if I am to fall.
In the middle of my sleep, I am awoken by the insane one screaming. Blood is flowing under the door. Kyra tries to reason with the fool but after a few fruitless minutes, I step in, slap the man upside the face, and tell him to pull it together and act like a man for once. This seems to do the trick, as he collapses into a quivering ball of silence. We open the door to find one of those bloody skeletons trying to pull itself together. Valeros squashes the skull and we go back to sleep.
The dawn sees us heading back to the crypts. Valeros opens the gate and we head through the room with the reflecting pool. Valeros and Merisiel both saw a horrible visage of themselves in the pool and I was afraid of what I might see of myself. The idea of seeing myself old, decrepit, and weak is one that I fear even more than the walking bones in mail. So I avert my eyes successfully and work my way across the room only to have a swarm of bats cover me and start to bite. This requires me to open up my stance and take them on, which unfortunately requires me to look towards the pool. Gorum must have had my back at that moment for the visage in the pool was laughable and I shook it off. After a few minutes, the swarms are defeated and the rays of Sarenrae heal our festering wounds.
Working our way through the crypts, we find a room that had trap written all over it. A bridge between two deep pits is guarded by two large stone statues. Of course, Valeros and Merisiel go traipsing over the bridge without a moment's thought, tripping the trap and sending the two statues rushing over the bridge. Merisiel manages to stay in front of the statues but Valeros is knocked into the pit. As we stand stunned for a moment thinking about how to rescue Valeros, the trap starts to reset and the statues start to retreat back over the bridge. Thinking quickly, I get the rest of the group to cross the bridge as the trap resets. Except for Ezren who always manages to stay 30.5 feet behind the group and thus is too late to cross with us. Valeros starts to concoct a difficult plan to get Ezren across when the sound of Merisiel pulling apart the trap allows Ezren to cross in safety. Which leads us to the large brass doors that we know hold the key to our quest and the final enemy.
Using up our diminishing reserves of Sarenrae's healing touch, not to mention the wand of curing that we found, Valeros is returned to full health and we open the doors. Inside is a grand crypt. We immediately see the everflame we were sent to fetch as well as a huddled girl, who must be the insane man's sister. Or was that daughter. Well, it matters not because at that moment a creaky, evil voice announces itself. And our doom. This menacing skeletal thing in mail with an amazing longsword walks into view and welcomes us as his newest undead minions. Merisiel, as per usual, rushes to attack, hoping to catch the thing flat-footed. You could have heard a pin drop when she realizes that the thing was actually ready for her. And its bleeding skeleton minions make their appearance and Merisiel realizes that she is screwed. Valeros and I set up a defensive perimeter at the doors while Merisiel attempts to flee back behind our defenses. She drops and we are now four. Between Valeros, myself and Kyra's goddess, we manage to drop the skeletons but that left the main villain time to whittle away at Valeros' and my defenses. Valeros drops after a few good hits and we are now three.
I am now face to face with my ultimate fears and I am proud to say that Gorum gave me the courage to face this thing that shouldn't be. My blade crashes down in a blow that I am sure will end this thing's unlife...only to have its gold chain deflect my certain death blow at the last second. It follows through with its sword and I am left in the embrace of Gorum.
When I awake, I find out that Kyra managed to get Valeros on his feet, though weakly, and his presence was enough to distract the thing while Kyra used her last healing to put it back in the grave. Our bedraggled group claims its prize from the ghost of Kassen, the man for whom this tomb was built. I am hoping to get some better armor out of the deal, though Valeros seems to claim each thing that we find. Kassen tells us the story of friendship and betrayal that caused his downfall. He also tells us of a three-part amulet that would lead to treasure beyond our imaginations. Well, I can imagine quite a bit. And though Kassen would like us to retrieve the amulets and prevent this treasure from being found, I think our group has other ideas.
We arrive back to Kassen (the town) to a hero's welcome that turns a bit grim when news of what happened at the tomb is told. But it is clear that Gorum has more adventures waiting for me and I feel stronger in my skills as a warrior. Just let there be beings with souls this time. I've had enough of these undead for a while.
After a brief rest, our band decides to head down the stairs into the bowels of this hellacious place. I am a bit concerned, since our raving "friend" with the crossbow keeps talking about "the talking dead" and, though we have seen some sanity-destroying undead in the upper level, none of them could talk. It thus seems as if going down will bring us face to face with this demon of undeath. I just hope my sword can cut huge swathes from its body.
Going down the stairs, we come to a circular room with a pedestal. It tells us that going north will provide sustenance, east death and west a way to raise the portal. Merisiel and Valeros take off to the north like an arrow shot and find a water fountain. They both drink a large mouthful and find themselves healed, both of wounds and of the damage to their strength that they took from that shadow creature. Ezren, Kyra and myself refrain from drinking, since everyone knows that magic fountains usually only work once per person and I would rather have that card up my sleeve for later.
We go back to the circular room and head towards death. Valeros says that he would rather see if we actually need to find a way to raise the portal before braving the obviously flooded chambers to the west. The portal to the east takes us to a catacombs. It quickly becomes obvious that the bodies that used to lie in each of the catacomb's vaults have been removed by something. Considering how many undead we have fought, I am not surprised. However, as we move through the catacombs, only Valeros detects the approach of the undead. These zombies are covered with green slime oozing from open sores and other wounds. The stench is nigh unto unbearable, but I steel myself and move into attack position. The battle is swift, but not without consequences. As each zombie is cloven with our weapons, its puss spills onto our skin. It seems that Valeros has contracted something from this, though Merisiel, Kyra and myself are able to shake off the effects. I bet Valeros is wishing he hadn't of drunk from that fountain now.
We find a blood stain that still has a backpack lying in it. After using the broom that I brought from the upper floor, we discover some newly minted gold coins and a magical vial. It seems that somebody other than the villagers have been here recently. A door nearby leads to a room with a reflecting pool and a portcullis. True to form, Merisiel and Valeros charge off across the room. Both of them see their reflection in the pool as if they were rotting away. Valeros steels himself and looks away while Merisiel flees from the room and charges past us. After Valeros reunits with the party, we chase after Merisiel and find her huddled and babbling under one of the benches near the magical fountain.
Since it seems we need to raise a portal afterall, we enter the water logged corridors to the west. Valeros sees a room with a number of charred corpses and some sort of hanging plant matter and decides that we should head the other direction. A water logged door breaks under his strong pull and we find a room containing 3 rather large frogs. As the battle breaks out, Valeros is captured by the tongue of one of the frogs, effectively removing him from the battle. I rush to his aid and sever the tongue with one mighty chop from my blade. Unfortunately, the damage was already too severe for Valeros and he collapses by my side just as I am also ensnared by a second tongue. Reaching to my side for my trusty handaxe, I climb over the vegetation between me and frog, finally putting the devil to rest and freeing myself from its grasp. Valeros is made whole again by Kyra and we press on. We discover a room with a large winch on the far wall. Again, Valeros and Merisiel take off without a second's thougth. I swear by Gorum, they will meet their death someday in this way. And today was almost that day.
Valeros falls off the edge into a deep water pit, his armor sinking him to the bottom as he struggles to swim. At the same time, Merisiel is literally surrounded by skeletons, as they rise from the bottom of the pool. Merisiel shouts something like "Why do we always have to face monsters that are immune to my daggers?" I try to make my way to the front for battle, but find my way blocked as first Merisiel and then Kyra block the passage as they are pressed by skeletons. Frustrated by my inability to swing my blade, I grab a rock from the crumbling walls and throw it at the skeletons, missing by a wide margin. Meanwhile, we haven't seen Valeros in a bit and I start to fear he may have moved on to the afterlife. Merisiel comes close to making her final journey as well, but manages to get to safety as Kyra and myself finish off the skeletons. Just as the final one goes down, Valeros appears on the surface and pulls himself up with a wicked grin.
As I walk towards the winch to open the portal, Valeros correctly states that we should rest before we open up the portcullis to who knows what? So we head back to the room of sustenance and prepare to sleep. Just as sleep comes to calm my weary soul, we hear something...
As we stare down the hallway bristling with statues wielding weapons, I caution Merisiel to check for traps or perhaps hidden levers that might help us get past the obvious traps that line the hallway. But with nary a thought for her own safety, our elf traipses down the hallway, only stopping long enough to rip up a pressure plate and spew its contents down the hall. As much as I appreciate the elf's bravery, or perhaps deathwish is a more appropriate term, I wish she would just slow down sometimes. If I have to pull her body from some self-imposed peril...Gorum help me, there will be a reckoning!
I follow Merisiel down the hall and into a room with a large statue of Kassen wielding two shields with the words "Home" and "Family" on them. Before I could even assess the room, Merisiel runs down to the door by the statue, tripping a slide trap on the way and riding it down to the bottom where the door lay. Valeros and I move to her side just as the statue springs to life with its menacing shields. One solid hit from the shield sends Merisiel fleeing to the back of the room for Kyra's sustenance. Valeros and I move to flank the infernal machine, but never manage to get our act together. After a few hits on it and a few in return from the statue, I am at a pivotal point where the next hit might send me to my ancestors! The statue emits a mist that covers my vision, but also allows me the moment to escape back to Kyra for healing. Unfortunately, as I arrive, Kyra gives a yell in some language I've never heard and dives into the fray, leaving me clinging to life and out of the battle. I move around the room, peering through the mist when Ezren does something and the mist disappears. I see the construct teetering on its final leg and energy blazes through my body as I launch myself with a scream at the thing. It bashes me with its shield, but before my last shred of consciousness leaves my body, I manage to cleave it from shoulder to midriff. When I later awaken, I found that my last blow sent the infernal machine to its death. Thanks to Gorum for guiding my blow!
The room Merisiel was so hot to get to contained gifts from the village of Kassen. My gift is a greatsword of immense beauty and craftmanship. I remember helping Braggard, the smith, to forge this beauty thinking it was intended for some fabulously wealthy nobleman. I will wield it will honor.
We move back to the other side of the dungeon, and open a door leading to a smoke filled room. Before I can manage to get into the room, Valeros and Merisiel are attacked by a smokey demon from the evernight that drains Valeros' strength and seems to ignore the attacks of Valeros' sword and Merisiel's daggers. Now I have to admit, growing up on in the northlands, I never saw such abominations in my life. A girl could rely on her sword spewing her enemy's blood into the sky, and once he was down, he would stay down. But these undead unnerve me to no end. As I stare down the hallway, willing myself to action, but afraid of a death where my steel means nothing and envisioning my death as a shriveled husk, my strength drained to nothing, I falter. The prayers of our wise women come to my lips and I watch as Merisiel plunges her hands into a fire and pulls forth a glowing dagger that she uses to vanquish the smokey demon, with the help of Kyra's god and her glowing fire.
Afterwards, I wonder whether my own tribe was right. Is my place in this world suckling children while preparing a home for my man? I need to think upon these things. It is obvious that the thought of these infernal undead creatures fills me with fear in a way that creatures made of flesh and bone don't. Hopefully, Gorum will see his way to guiding me through these troubling times.
The party moves back to a room we had been warned about. A large pillar shooting arrows need to be bypassed. Thankfully, Valeros wields "Home" and I heft "Family" and we provide cover for our comrades as we make our way through the room. Of course, in the process, Merisiel uncovers more of the infernal undead and fights them while I fetch Ezren across the room. These undead actually pull themselves together once they have been slain. It is unnatural I tell you. This "shrine" to Kassen is cursed and should be destroyed once we leave. These undead aren't natural and any place cursed by these beings is better off returning to the rock and dirt it came from.
Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Fine with me! The spotlight is the WORST place to hide (and to go through Amiri's pockets while she's grandstanding...)
Just remember who spots things in the party. I bet that I could spot your grubby little hand going into my pouch. Then you better hope that you can outrun me!
Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
That is probably because I never got a swing in on the beetle, because you and Valeros were hogging all the glory and running around like two elk in heat with each other. I swear, I am gonna abandon the back of the marching order and get up front so I can put the hurt to a few things. Screw Ezren, he and his floating club can take care of themselves!
Our group gathered itself at the bottom of a steep hill and peered across the valley to our destination. Using my keen eyesight, I noticed what looked like large dead bodies outside the cave entrance we were heading towards. It was at this time that Valeros arose from his drunkenness and asked, "Where am I?" By the time we filled in our comrade on his whereabouts over the past few days, we noticed that Merisiel had taken off across the valley to check out the dead bodies, figuring that she could loot while we talked. Not a bad idea. So we hightail it across the valley after her.
Upon arriving outside the cave, the bodies turn out to be two horses and four ponies, all savaged in a great way that left no hope. Merisiel's search had turned up nothing, though Kyra found a bag with some provisions and ... wait for it ... pillows. Merisiel tries to remove the hinges on the doors to the dungeon complex and almost ends up with the doors lying on top of her. Valeros tries his hand at opening the door, while I watch bemused by his attempt. A fit of morning heaves gave me my opening and I pushed the doors open.
The scene inside was gory, with some old skeletal remains joined now by two savaged human bodies. I quickly figure out that the bodies were probably those of the villagers sent to vex us and harass us through this farce of a right of passage. At that moment, Ezren, never able to leave well enough alone, kicks at the skeletons and they arise with lightening speed to surround the group. Merisiel gets hit by one and scampers about like a baby, crying about her boo boo. Valeros stands up to them, but goes down in a flurry of scimitars. I retreat to the defense of the door with Ezren, when Kyra calls up the glory of her god and over half the skeletons crumble to dust, with the remaining few damaged. It was at this moment that Ezren calls forth a spell that I can only assume summons my ancestors because his club flew forth from his hands and started to slay skeletons left and right like a chieftain of my tribe.
With the skeletons laid back to rest, we moved into a room full of pillars and peppered with pit traps. Merisiel ends up falling into one of the pits, only to find out that it is lined with those pillows we found earlier. Then we come across a lever. Now even I know that you don't pull unknown levers, but Merisiel has that lever down before word one can escape my lips. We hear a thunk and a clicking noise before all goes silent. We move forward and find a door with three bolts. It quickly becomes apparent that lowering the lever opens one of the bolts, so Valeros, Kyra and I quickly fan out and look for the other two levers we expect to be in the room. Avoiding the pit traps, we find the levers, lower them, and escape the room.
I should mention at this time that we had been following a wailing noise that was causing Merisiel no end of stress. We follow it down a hall to a room which has been barricaded. As we try to force the door open, crossbow bolts rain on our party. Eventually we find a townsfolk who has gone utterly insane, screaming, "The walking bones, the walking bones!" I wonder if he is related to Ezren. In any case, I want to put him down like you would a horse who has gone lame. In my tribe, if a warrior loses his mind, the tribe would end his misery, since that is no way for a warrior to go to his gods. But Kyra would hear nothing of it, so I washed my hands of this man and let them deal with him while I caught a few moments of rest.
We eventually move back to the first room and enter a door through the other side that has a large pool of water, over 40 feet deep. A voice says from the dark, "Magic is the key". As we bring light into the room, we see hundreds of keys at the bottom of the pool. Even my warrior mind saw that we needed a detect magic, so Kyra casts that and discovers one of the keys is magical. Valeros agrees to swim down and get the key. I have to admit, he looked very hot as he stripped off his armor. In short order, he had the key and we moved onward. The door to the right reveals a hallway with statues wielding clubs covered in ... wait for it ... pillows. Sigh. Will this childish game never end?
From the Journal of Ezren Zefiir: as translated into Common by Amiri of the Six Bears
As I begin this journal my new compatriots of peregrination are scattered about in a variety of tents in a most uncomfortable glen our barbaric young lady-warrior suggested we sleep in. As I write, everyone else is sleeping My ears are gravid with a stridulent, porcine variety of snoring that whelms the crackling of our fire and the distant howling of wolves. Crap, it is noisy around here!The air is sharp with cold, the ground is rough and rocky, and my legs ache from a long day spent traipsing down a back-woods path. I am too old for this! I am at once vexatious and atingle to finally be on the road, out from under the impracticable pollex of my dilatory pedagogue, and thoroughly enjoy this small, but obviously supposititious, introduction to adventuring life. Still, adventuring is sure sweet!
Just five years ago, I was but a map-maker in Absalom suffering under the withering gaze of the church of Abadar as they bear me no small animus over my father's conviction of heresy. Those bastards of Abadar made my early life hell I left Absalom behind and decided it was time to find someone trained in the arcane arts who might help me grow the small spark of magical skill I'd felt inside since I was a little boy. I searched for a master to scratch my magical itch Unfortunately, the only master willing to take on a 40-year old student was old whats-his-name in Kassen and I've spent the better part of this last half-decade training myself and being perfectly and precisely ignored by a maladroit, somnolent, arrant twit. The guy I found to train me would be more adept at filling a grave than teaching magic
How convivial it must be for the townsfolk to impel me into this lot to take part in their little light liturgy that seems to be in essence a hazing ritual so the superannuated brood has something fun to do when it's cold out rather than sitting around the fireplace and debating suicide. I am not amused at being the crux of the joke for a bunch of backwood hicks I'm am truly thrilled to start this adventuring life, though, and my companions, though vernal, brusque, and insensate, are an interesting covey. My adventuring companions are neat!
The lady-warrior from the north seems interested in rascality as much as hostility and her habiliment leaves nothing to the imagination. And by imagination I mean, I can't imagine how she stays warm. Our barbarian is as beautiful as she is deadly! Our cleric seems obsessed with some god or another and in truth is probably the more level-headed of us--five years ago I would've been the more level-headed, I think, but this last half-decade under the pollex of the old pedagogue seems to have driven me a little mad. The cleric is the only one of us who isn't off her rocker! Our fighter is a taciturn fellow, which doesn't fit this group at all, but maybe he'll explore his voice soon enough. Frankly I think the fighter isn't all there yet. Lastly, we have an elf with us and despite my guess that she's three times older than me I'm positive that she's been possessed by a six-year-old human child serial killer with incredible urges to collect and use all manner of daggers. The elf gives me the willies! She's dangerous, impulsive, frightening, and alien to me. In Absalom her kind were flogged publicly--here, she's best watched cautiously from a distance. We must use caution.
It seems as though something is developing. I shall write more later. Crap something is happening! BRB!
So the town of Kassen is pretty much nowhere. Which really doesn't bug me too much, since I CAME from nowhere. But it doesn't mean I want to stay here that long either. If it wasn't for the emptiness in my pockets, I would be off on my quest to get as far away from the great white north as possible. But Braggard the Smith is keeping me busy and my pockets are starting to fill with coin a bit faster than I can drink it, so that is good.
This whole quest thing is pretty much a farce in my book. I mean, I single-handedly took down a Frost Giant <shows her kick-ass giant sword>, so what threat could there possibly be on some lame-ass quest that these wimpy townsfolk want us to go on? To tell the truth, the only reason I agreed to go on it at all is a) Braggard asked me to and b) they gave away a backpack of supplies.
The group of "young hopefuls" they stuck me with isn't all bad. I like that elf Merisiel. I mean, how could you not like a girl covered from head to toe in daggers. And she puts them to a mean use. I am looking forward to beating her in body counts, but it isn't going to be easy.
The wizard Ezren is pretty much as cranky and crazy as his master, though if he knew that I said that, he would probably point his finger at me and in a wavering voice say, "Fear...Fear...Fear." He keeps doing that to me, though nothing comes of it. I think it might be his coping mechanism. Whatever.
Kyra is a bit quiet, which suits me fine. I don't need any holier than thou types trying to convert me to their god or whatnot. Just keep the cures coming so I can keep the body count piling high!
And finally, that Valeros guy seems to be a quiet type, but perhaps he is just getting used to our group. More on him later.
So the townsfolk herd us out of town like goats and give us this lame-ass puzzle map that we need to put together. <in her best sarcastic voice> Thank GOD we had a wizard to figure out this hard, hard map puzzle<end sarcasm>. So we march forward and run into a group of orcs. I quickly realize that they are illusions sent to test us after I take one of the illusions down, but the rest of the group takes longer to figure that out. Even with me standing there inside the frickin' orc. Again, lame, lame, lame. I hope this adventure gets better. Or at least puts gold in my pocket.
That night, we sleep in a cozy briar thicket surrounded glade I found. Defending only one side is important. Some mangy wolves track us down, but I dispatch all three of them myself, with a timely grease from cranky mage. Not a bad night's work.
Now we are staring up at this arch in the hill in front of us. I guess this is where the townsfolk have hidden this everburning flame. Hopefully they won't try to frighten us with their illusions again and I can get some real battle in.