Suit of Keys

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Session 60, Played 10-Nov-2019

Honestly, it was a pretty short chase.

At the end of the room was a giant pair of double doors made o' solid stone. I checked 'em over 'n' couldn't see any traps or locks, so I pulled out my Insistent Doorknocker 'cause why be predictable, but it couldn't get through the doors! Those were some thick doors! So I asked Llew 'n' Forth to pull 'em open, but they weren't paying attention to me (happens a lot), so I tried to pull 'em open myself to set a pathetic example for the group, 'cept they moved! Surprised, I let 'em go 'n' they closed up again, but that got Llew 'n' Forth to pay attention, as planned, and Llew pulled the door open a bit while I was busy gettin' out my Immovable Rod and my Traveler's Any-Tool and turnin' it into a crowbar. Forth, bein' a dwarf, was more interested in the tools I was makin' than the door so he nearly tripped over me 'n' ran into the door, 'n' wasn't much help at all.

The sad thing was, nobody even expected Alembic to help.

So once I had my crowbar I jammed it into the crack 'n' heaved 'n' we could almost see inside and… BOOM!!!! The whole door vanished into a powdery mist o' stone 'n' ash. Darn it, Alembic! Couldn't you warn us before Disintegrating a door we're holding?!?!!??!

Anyhoo, now that we had a good view of what was goin' on in the next room, it didn't look good. Around the edges of the room was a floor-level area, where we were. In the middle of the room, so it could be dumpin' all kinds o' nastiness into the floor-level area, was a bunch o' the machinery from Gillamoor! The giant's brain was there, powerin' some kind o' apparatus, 'n' it was connected to other parts o' the giant by bits of intestine. Which I only knew 'cause I remember the things tryin' to beat the livin' daylights out o' me oh so long ago, 'n' I think it was Llew who helpfully identified them for me back then. So thanks for that, Llew. In the middle o' the platform was a pile o' hundreds 'n' hundreds o' charred skeletons, all goblin-sized, so now we knew where all those goblin corpses went. Finally, in the back o' the room was another image o' the Mother o' Wights, cacklin' 'n' turnin' knobs 'n' sayin' that now we were gonna get it. And between us and her was a massive portcullis that looked like it was made o' solid adamantine. Now THAT'S somethin' worth lootin!

Well, I knew my cue. I figured that had to be the real Mother o' Wights, 'n' I had one job to do against her 'n' heck if I wasn't gonna do it. I flew forward, slipped through the portcullis with ease ('cause a girl's gotta keep her figure, y'know), got hit by another Forbiddance 'n' Unhallow (doesn't she get tired o' castin' those things? At least I'm Chaotic, so it doesn't hurt me so much, or at least that's what Alembic says about 'em). I tingled a bit, so I knew it'd stripped some of Alembic's protections off of me, but I could still fly, 'n' I could still breathe, 'n' that was really all I needed at the moment. I said a prayer to Calistria 'n' kicked off Silency. You wanna cast spells, Mother o' Wights? Well, I have another idea…

So, the Mother o' Wight's no dummy; I'll give her that. The moment I got through the bars she knew the jig was up, so she turned on all the machinery to end the world 'n' such. 'N' I had no idea how literal that was.

All the bones started spinnin' 'n' turnin' into a whirlwind 'n' formin' into some giant undead-tornado-golem thingy, 'n' Llew gasped 'n' I knew that was bad so I called out so she could tell me what it was before I went silent, seein' as I was in the room with it 'n' everythin' and now it didn't seem like the best idea in the world if I couldn't hide from it. So, for namin', it was called an "Undead Mortuary Cyclone". Which seemed kind o' redundant, but apparently the regular kind o' these things (not the undead kind) absorb livin' people to become bigger 'n' more powerful, so once they've wiped out a village or whatnot, they kind of peter out 'n' get killed by paladins or adventurers or whatever. This one absorbed both living critters AND undead to get bigger 'n' more powerful. And right behind us, past the doors and a few hours' journey away, was the biggest sea o' undead the world had ever known.

As far as Llew could tell, if we failed and it got past us and got to the sea, it would be the end of all life on Golarion.

No pressure, though.

So, to hurt it you needed to use magic bludgeoning weapons, so I was out. Plus it couldn't be flanked and had no vital parts, so I was feelin' much better 'bout goin' after the Mother o' Wights. If it passed over dead critters (neither alive nor undead), it turned them into undead. If it killed you, it turned you into undead. Which were more powerful, 'cause it had a Desecrating Aura. But which it could then eat. This was the most twisted, awful, confusin' destructive force of unnature I'd ever seen. I was kind o' pleased 'cause it was so confusing, but much more repulsed 'cause the end o' the world 'n' all that. On top o' just poundin' you with its undead fists, it could breathe bodies on people (eew!), 'n' it was pretty resistant to spells, 'cept Alembic could probably hurt it 'cause he's actually good at what he does 'n' all, even if I do tease him a lot. But the best news of the day: As far as Llew knew, all it had for senses was Darkvision, 'n' the Mother o' Wight's machines were makin' shadows all over the room, so I'd be able to wink out 'n' get her.

'N' she knew it. She targeted me with somethingorother that stung quite a bit, but didn't do anythin' else. Alembic helpfully told me it was a Destruction spell, and if I weren't so lucky I'd be permanently dead from it. Well, at least I knew I had her attention!

From behind me, I heard Llew start in on the bars, then start yellin' at Alembic that the bars were adamantine 'n' she needed him to disintegrate 'em, but he was apparently all out of Disintegrates so instead he just went ahead 'n' Stone Shaped the top of 'em so Forth could knock 'em in, 'n' he made us all Smitey, too. I figured since I couldn't hurt the cyclone anyway, as Silency activated 'n' the world went dead silent I Smote Evil on the Mother o' Wights (it felt good), then winked out 'n' flew over next to her. I could tell from her face that she knew she was Silenced, 'n' I was going to follow her everywhere. Llew ran in 'n' hit the tornado, 'cause end o' the world 'n' all, 'n' it looked like she hurt it a bit, though it's hard to tell with tornadoes 'n' all. I'm pretty sure she was smitin' evil on it, but you can't really tell such things, 'specially when you can't hear.

Unfortunately, what I did notice was the cyclone gettin' all uppity 'bout gettin' hit. It spun 'n' blew 'n' hurled chunks o' bodies at the rest o' the party, which I'm sure hurt quite a bit, but bein' a flyin' gnome in a tornado was no picnic, either, 'n' it was all I could do to stay next to the Mother o' Wights 'n' not reappear in a particularly vulnerable spot, say, right in front of her 'n' her scythe. But I stayed hidden, 'n' she couldn't see me, so she ran away, hopin' to trick me into stabbing her. But I didn't, 'n' I let her run, 'n' I followed her… right up 'til she ran right into the middle o' the darned tornado! Stupid smart bad guys! Once she'd scraped me off, she moved back to her corner 'cause she was even faster than I was, even with Alembic's Haste and flight 'n' everything, 'n' she pulled out a wand and cast a Blade Barrier between us. That didn't seem right, but at least I could probably get through it 'n' keep harassin' her. 'Cept now I wished I'd stabbed her when I had the chance!

Unfortunately, Alembic couldn't see me, either, 'n' didn't know my plans, so he filled up the room around her with his woody guys, then put a lava wall behind her so there was nowhere safe for me to go in that corner! It was downright crowded! Forth came runnin' all the way around the cyclone guy to give Llew a flank (can you even flank a cyclone?), but it moved him into my Silence field 'n' I saw him tryin' to lay hands on himself (not that way, silly! This was a fight!) 'n' nothin' happened, so I knew I had to get out of his way. 'Cept one corner was full o' wood golems 'n' lava, one corner was full o' Forth, 'n' the other half o' the room was all full 'cause o' Llew. And then Alembic was out in the hallway castin' spells from afar. So, bein' a smart girl 'bout not gettin' my friends killed, I flew past all of 'em, out into the hallway and down a bit so I wouldn't even get Alembic, 'n' I started countin' seconds 'til the Silence wore off, 'n' I started cursin' myself for lettin' myself be so useless to my friends, but I was still smitin' evil on the Mother o' Wights, 'n' if they lost 'n' the cyclone went to destroy the world, at least the Mother o' Wights wouldn't live to see it.

While I was sittin' there, I got to watch Alembic's face, but I'm not really good at readin' humans, but he was tryin' to cast somethingorother 'n' he looked a bit relieved 'n' less wind-blown, so I think Forth 'n' Llew managed to do in the cyclone and save the world. While I was out in the hallway bein' quiet, of course. I am never usin' that wand again!

I flew back in 'n' there was nothin' but a big billowin' mist on one half o' the room, so I flew on in, knowin' I was goin' to have to be at my best to dodge all the blades, but knowin' my Silence was goin' down soon so I wouldn't be hurtin' my friends. 'N' Forth looked really bad, so once I got into the mist and through the blades I pulled out a scroll o' Heal. 'N' those blades? They were an illusion! And not some highfalootin' illusion like the kind the Jeggares put out that always fool me; just a plain old, ordinary, everyday, "Even Trig can see through it!" illusion. I yelled out to the team that the Blade Barrier wasn't real, except… silenced! Stupid stupid stupid wand!!

And o' course right after I yelled to everyone the Silence went down, 'cause that's my life, 'n' I heard Forth trundlin' in below me (I was near the ceiling at the time, 'cause of all the tree guys I presumed were on the ground), then I heard a horrific CRACK as the Mother o' Wights' scythe cut into Forth. I was happy I had my scroll out, but I was worried I was goin' to drop down 'n' find a dead dwarf. It sounded really, really bad. 'Cept then I heard a whoosh! as she swung at him again, so I knew he was OK!

I prayed to Calistria (seriously, this time), remindin' her that the end o' the world would cause no end of lack of fun, 'n' tried to activate my scroll o' Heal. And it worked! Thank you, Calistria! It was a simple matter to just drop down 'til I saw the top of his fuzzy head (under the helmet) 'n' kind o' kick him in the head 'n' Heal him at the same time, which would've been all kinds o' fun 'cept I was within a couple o' feet o' the Mother o' Wights' scythe 'n' I was pretty banged up already, but I heard Forth take in a breath 'n' knew he was feelin' much better. Llew came in 'n' started tryin' to kill her, but the fog was messin' with her rhythm 'n' she missed a lot, which isn't like her. Forth landed a couple o' solid blows on her, so her time was limited. The Mother o' Wights had a choice to make: Kill me, or kill the freshly-healed paladin. Bein' a vindictive undead type, she went for the paladin, 'n' barely scratched him up a bit. Then Alembic Dispelled the fog.

I could see her in all her glory. Every tendon. Every vulnerable inch. The place I could hit her to cut off her scythe-claw. The place I could drop her to the ground. I started in on my speech, about the loss of Umok, the orphans she'd created, the pain she'd caused, all the orphans she would never create again…
…'cept Llew asked me to wait. To stay my hand so that she could get the killin' blow.

Llew wanted me to betray everythin'. Betray my goddess, who considers vengeance a really personal thing. Betray my family, who were waitin' for me to strike the killin' blow. Betray my instincts, 'cause everythin' was screamin' at me to kill her now.
But it was Llew. My pale angel o' death. The one who held me when I sat up from bein' dead. The one who got madder'n anythin' ever if anyone tried to hurt me. The one who loved me dearly for who I was, 'n' who I loved right back like the sister I never had. 'N' I waited. 'Cause dead is dead, 'n' Calistria really isn't all that uppity if she knows you're thinkin' of her. And I told Llew, 'You owe me dinner!"

Llew agreed, and laid in, 'n' the Mother o' Wights screamed 'cause Llew was mad, 'n' Llew knew darned well I wasn't goin' to stay my hand a second time. So she struck true, 'n' the Mother o' Wights fell before her.
And I stabbed her a few times after she fell, just 'cause it seemed like the right thing to do at the moment.

Llew strode over, grabbed me (which she had trouble with 'cause o' the ring o' Freedom o' Movement 'n' all), planted a big kiss on the top o' my head, 'n' said we could have anything I wanted. I said the first thing that popped into my head: "Orc food!"
Ah, well, I'd regret it, but Llew was bigger'n I was, 'n' she'd regret it more.

Llew asked me whether I had any holy water on me, but she told me to just stop and behave myself after I'd produced half a dozen vials. She anointed the Mother o' Wights' corpse 'n' said words o' Pharasma 'n' all that, 'n' said that the Mother o' Wights would be the final entry in her book o' killin'.

I sure hoped not! Otherwise I might get bored!

So, speakin' o' Calistria, apparently not bein' the one to get in the final stab didn't get her all that riled at me, 'cause I felt the girls perk up 'n' the cheeks blush 'n' all the other nonsense that comes from bein' favored by her, which is awfully nice when you're in town with a bunch o' eligible young male gnomes to entertain you, or even elves (yum!). But in a hellish dimension full o' undead (includin' a sea full of 'em) surrounded by a dwarf, a hunchback, and a pretty-but-decidedly-female half-elf? Not so fun. I could tell the others were favored, too, 'cause Forth smelled like dirt 'n' Llew started mutterin' 'bout needin' to fight with a dagger for the day, which didn't seem like anythin' to be displeased with, since I had to do it every single day o' my life!

While we were lootin' the Mother o' Wights' body, Llew said that maybe I'd accept Shoanti food instead of orc food, 'n' I was kind o' disappointed 'cause I hadn't had anythin' truly terrible in a few days, but I figured I liked her so I said it was OK. We got some standard clericy stuff, like a rod o' somethingorother that Alembic liked, her holy symbol, some rings, and her wand o' illusions, but when Llew grabbed the Moaning Diamond ('cause it was there 'causing all kinds o' noise, 'n' I just didn't want to talk about it 'cause I think it likes the attention), the whole world shook. Literally. Oops!

We were suddenly in a crisis: There were hundreds, if not thousands o' people in the town at the other end o' the vault, Alembic was out o' spells 'n' couldn't've carried 'em all anyway, 'n' there were all the people we'd rescued 'n' put in a Magnificent Mansion 'til we could save 'em. Fortunately, my gnome brain got to save the day, 'n' I felt much better 'bout not killin' the Mother o' Wights. 'Cause I was lookin' at that big ol' Moanin' Diamond, 'n' thinkin' 'bout how much trouble it'd caused us, 'n' how much I'd like to get rid of it, 'n' how easy it would be to hand over to an azata or other Good outsider for safekeeping, and I had it!

I told Llew I was goin' to save everyone by givin' away the diamond, 'n' she said that that was fine with her, so I pulled out my scroll o' Plane Shift to Elysium 'n' kicked it off… eventually. Yeah, scrolls like tension. So it waited for some more shakin' 'n' rock-fallin' to happen before it finally let me go. I asked anyone else whether they wanted to come, and I was touched when everyone wanted to come along, even Alembic! That's how you know your true friends: They're willin' to travel to an entire plane o' people just like you!

Anyhoo, the first thing I learned is that Elysium is a Big Place. I expected a bunch of azata to pop out at me 'n' welcome me 'n' light my nose hairs on fire or somethin', but we were just in a beautiful, pristine, forest-like place that seemed awfully wonderful 'n' made me wish I didn't have the Life Bubble up so I could smell the air. Alembic started mentionin' somethin' 'bout time runnin' much faster here, so wouldn't everyone be dead before we got back 'n' I realized I'd goofed, but there's nothin' to do after you goof but to keep on goin' 'cause it's the right thing to do. So I yelled out in Celestial for help, but nobody answered! Llew looked at the ground for azata tracks, but I could tell she didn't really know what she was lookin' for.

Inspiration struck again, as always happens with gnomes in desperate situations with bags full o' useful items. I pulled out the lone Raucous Canard I'd bought way back in Logas to embarrass someoneorother (probably Blackburn, but who knew?), 'n' yelled into it in Celestial, "We have a bunch o' mortals who need savin' right now, 'n' there's a giant moanin' diamond in it for anyone who's willin' to help!"
Bein' direct with azata's the thing to do, y'know, 'cause we're all a bit loopy 'n' like everything crystal-clear.

It didn't take but a moment or two before this beautiful flamin' woman with a body made o' lava came flyin' up, leavin' a trail o' fire behind her. She had to be powerful enough! I told ber 'bout the big underground cavern 'n' the people who might be good or might be evil in the town down there, 'n' I needed someone to dig 'em out 'n' get 'em to the surface so we could sort 'em all out before they all died, 'n' she asked a couple o' smart questions like, "And can I destroy everything else?" 'n' I said, "Sure," 'cause fun's fun 'n' all, 'n' she quickly gathered as many friends as I could take 'cause they all liked the idea of a big dark underground smashy-smashy, makin' me like 'em all the more, 'n' I asked their names but then forgot 'em again 'cause I was in a hurry, 'n' then I used my returning scroll o' Plane Shift to get us back.

'Cept it was stubborn, too, 'n' the azata laughed at me 'n' teased me a bit. But they were gettin' a big ol' noisy diamond and some fun destruction time, so I didn't mind. Once it went off, we appeared somewhere in the Mother o' Wights' realm, 'n' Llew got us oriented 'n' told the azata which way to go 'n' off they went to do their savin' 'n' destroyin' 'n' whatnot, 'n' we eventually got everyone out of there 'n' back to Eledir proper, where Llew 'n' Forth started sortin' 'em out (which was all kinds o' fun to watch, but I had to do my payment stuff 'n' such). I cheated a little 'n' used Calistria's eyes on the azata to thank 'em 'n' give 'em payment, but I figured Calistria'd blessed me for a reason, 'n' that reason was to save all those people.

So, Llew 'n' Forth dealt with all the people from down below ('n' I have no idea where Liff went or whether he survived, 'n' I didn't really care 'cause if he'd come up, Llew 'n' Forth would've killed him, 'n' if he hadn't he'd be all squishy now), 'n' eventually the town guard 'n' the king heard about all this 'n' asked us to come visit, 'cause he knew if he'd summoned us I'd've had to stab him in the knee.

We went over 'n' I made Heddy kiss my ring. I'd've made him kiss other parts but I know Llew would've scolded me for it. But what's the fun in emerging triumphant if you can't rub it in a little? Anyhoo, he had all kinds o' proclamations. Alembic's family was restored to nobility, which I didn't understand 'cause they sure acted like nobles before, but Alembic seemed really happy about it so I wasn't going to argue. Forth got to report to his temple that his mission was complete, 'n' they said he'd have to wait a moment 'n' they'd send word of his next one. Remind me never to be a paladin o' Torag. Tough crowd. Llew got praised for doin' her duty, but I was bettin' she was prouder 'cause her book was goin' to get published. Heddy turned to me 'n' told me that the temple of Asmodeus had decided to forgive me for all my past transgressions.

Best… laugh… EVER!!!!

I kind o' regretted not transgressin' more, but I'm sure ol' Blackburn had to swallow a lot o' bile to sign off on that one.

We all had baths (well, at least I know Llew and I did), then a celebratory feast, then I started headin' for the temple o' Calistria for some proper celebratin', but then I remembered the temple was in Logas 'n' I was in Eledir 'n' Alembic was out o' teleports.


I went to bed alone that night, which is a horrible sin for a conquerin' hero, said my prayers to Calistria, 'n' went to sleep.

And yeah. I got my reward. And no, you don't get to know.

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Session 59, Played 03-Nov-2019

As I thought, the Mother o' Wights was all polite 'n' such 'n' didn't bother us while we were nappin', so we woke up all refreshed 'n' ready to kill her. Very nice of her 'n' all. Considerin' that the day before I'd gotten to see my poor azata girls choke to death on whatever it is that Alembic's protectin' us from, I decided I'd better prepare Air Bubble, just in case it happened again, 'n' we spent some time buffin' up.

Once we were out of Alembic's cabin, he summoned up some more o' the wood guys, 'n' I said I couldn't promise not to burn 'em, but he said that was OK 'cause he could always make more. Alembic's a good guy when it comes to breakin' his stuff. Then Alembic made us all fly, 'n' I thought the same thing 'bout the Air Bubble, so I took out Spidey 'n' put Spider Climb on myself, just in case. I got us into the next room, 'n' this one wasn't a museum at all. It was a really nice studio, with a writing desk, a sofa, 'n' all kinds of other furnishings, plus a full-size portrait o' the Mother o' Wights on the wall. There was another image of her at the other end o' the room, 'n' she was sayin' she was impressed with us. With all these pictures, at least we all knew she wasn't ashamed of the way she looked, which was pretty darned awful. Forth went on in with one o' the wooden guys, 'n' the portrait kind o' came to life 'n' started talkin' at him. It was even more creepy than it sounds.

Anyhoo, the Mother o' Wights wanted to know all our names, 'n' was tryin' to be all charmin' 'n' all, but she didn't seem to like me all that much 'n' asked whether I was the entertainment or somethin', so I started juggling for her. It didn't seem to make her any happier. Once she had our names 'n' such she said she was going to make us an "important bargain". Being used to livin' around Asmodeans, I was immediately against it, whatever it was. Well, she told us she'd been tasked by Urgathoa with findin' the greatest threat to her (Urgathoa) in this world, 'n' she'd been workin' at it for hundreds of years, but she was pretty sure we were it. 'Cause first she tried chasing 'em down 'n' didn't get very far, but then she tried lurin' them in 'n' got us. I was thinkin' of arguin' with her that the only country she'd set up was Isger, so maybe she had the biggest threat to Urgathoa in Isger, but I was pretty dubious she'd found the biggest threat in the world, but I figured I should probably keep quiet 'n' let Forth 'n' Llew talk, 'cause their gods cared about bargains 'n' Urgathoa 'n' the like. Alembic was faster than I was, though, 'n' he said we probably weren't that big of a threat, but that didn't dissuade her.

So she started ramblin', as she's wont to do, 'n' we had to listen, 'cause beating on a picture may be satisfyin' but it doesn't accomplish much. As far as she figured, she was done. She'd found Urgathoa's biggest threat, so she didn't have to do that any more, so she was happy to just walk away 'n' give peace to the surface world 'n' let us go. Never mind the tens of thousands of people she'd already brutally tortured 'n' murdered; she was perfectly happy to just leave. Bein' Calistrian, I told her my goddess was one o' vengeance, and wouldn't like it if I just walked away. That actually made her smile, 'cause 'parently she'd thought I was an Asmodean. Which doesn't make any sense at all, so it just goes to show she really didn't know us all that well. Forth, bein' a paladin 'n' all, couldn't decide for himself so he said he'd let Llew choose for him. I dunno; I guess the Asmodeans really didn't know paladins all that well when they taught me about 'em, but bein' all evil 'n' all, maybe they just didn't know. Llew said that her god-given duty was to track down and kill the Mother o' Wights. No wishy-washiness there! You go, Llew! The Mother o' Wights took Llew more seriously than she had me, 'n' she said that if we didn't back down she'd kill "everyone".

I wanted to ask her exactly what she meant by, "Everyone," 'cause that word can mean a whole lot of things. Everyone in the area? Everyone in her realm? Everyone in Isger? Everyone in the world? I might've asked, but once Llew'd made up his mind for him, Forth went off on a speech 'bout why he had to kill her. Would've been downright impressive if he hadn't let Llew go first. She said that if that was the way we wanted it, she was disappointed in us but she'd kill us all.

Whatever. It's been tried.

Our next stop was the next door out, 'n' one of Alembic's golems tried to open it, and a bunch o' huge fireballs filled the room 'n' tried to hit everybody. 'Cept me, 'cause I bet the Mother o' Wights knew I was pretty dodgy. Llew 'n' Forth got burned up pretty bad, so I gave Llew a potion to heal herself while Forth channeled. Fortunately, Alembic'd protected us from fire, or that might've been really bad for 'em. Once they were healed enough, we went into the next room 'n' there was another image of her (doesn't she have anything better to do than set up a walking, talking museum to herself? Well, considerin' she's an undead who's been alive for hundreds or thousands of years, maybe not). This one said that she was irritated with herself for not convincin' us to back down. Kind o' funny, watchin' her get mad at herself 'cause we were stubborn. We knew what was coming next, 'n' I knew I couldn't do anythin' about it 'cause the triggers were always inside the room, so I just opened the next door.

Screaming. Really, really, loud screaming. So loud it tore up your insides 'n' made you need to use the bathroom 'n' throw up and pull out your own ears all at once. Fortunately, it didn't last very long, but ow! Forth started healin' us again 'n' Alembic put up a spell to protect us from loud noises, too. He's got a spell for everythin'! The next door tried to be all fancy with three big expensive-lookin' locks, but she really shouldn't be wastin' her money ilke that 'cause it was easy enough to remove 'em all. Wincing, I opened the next door to see what was goin' to hit me next, but nothin' did. Instead, the room was full o' people all chained up 'n' mutilated 'n' groanin' 'n' everythin' else you expect from the Mother o' Wights. Forth 'n' Llew confirmed that they were alive 'n' they weren't evil, which I already knew 'cause it's the way the Mother o' Wights does things. Obviously, the moment we walked in somethin' nasty was goin' to happen to all those people 'n' the Mother o' Wights would show up 'n' tell us it was all our fault for not turnin' around.

Villains are SO predictable!

So Forth channeled from outside the room to heal some of 'em up, 'n' they looked a bit better. I started lookin' really carefully for any traps that'd go off and kill all these folk, 'n' sure enough there was some kind o' flail thingy on the floor that'd spin 'round 'n' kill them all. Didn't take me long to make sure it wouldn't do any flailin', then Llew 'n' Forth came in 'n' started cuttin' down the people (by that I mean cuttin' their chains to free 'em, not murderin' innocent prisoners), while Alembic kept watch. Forth channeled one more time to make sure they were all healthy, then Alembic summoned one of his mansion things for them to hide in 'til we came back. Llew 'n' Forth told 'em to rest 'n' eat. I told 'em to try the maze. Alembic told 'em to get a massage from the unseen servants, but I don't think unseen servants can do that sort o' thing so that's just cruel, Alembic.

Anyhoo, the next door was a bit more bafflin' to me. I could sense that it was some kind o' teleportation trap, where if you set it off you'd be teleported somewhere (probably awful), but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make it stop. Probably my gnome curiousity was battlin' with my gnome sense o' self-preservation, 'cause that's a common thing for us gnomes, but eventually self-preservation prevailed and I managed to disable the trap. 'Cept no one really trusted that I'd done it 'cause they were so used to me doin' it without battin' an eyelash, so I had to unlock 'n' open the door to show 'em it was safe.

'Cept it wasn't.

There was a floatin' eyeball in the middle o' the room that'd been waitin' for someone to open it, 'n' it set off some kind of alchemical frost bomb that tried to freeze everyone in place. 'Cept I'm used to practical joke bombs like that so I got out o' the way, 'n' everyone else had rings o' Freedom of Movement so they didn't get caught either. 'Cept for Alembic's tree guys. They didn't do so well. So it was a good thing he was having most of them hang out at the back, 'cause we were going through them pretty fast. I think he had only one or two left after the blast.

I guess even bored undead would-be world-destroyers run out of ideas eventually. That's my only explanation for the next room. It had nothin' in it! It was like she'd come up with this big plan for a museum tour, an' then a set o' killin' rooms, 'n' then a paladin trap room, 'n' then she'd been tryin' to think of what to come up with next but she couldn't think of anythin' so instead she gave up 'n' just thought, "Oh, whatever. Nobody's ever goin' to get this far so why bother?"

Little did she know!

So Llew was still hurtin' from the frost bombs so I gave her the rest o' my potions 'cause I never use 'em, 'n' I checked 'n' unlocked the next door. This one was a temple to Urgathoa, complete with altar! So I ran on in to Consecrate it, 'n' it tried to do somethin' to me but it didn't work, so I Consecrated the altar first. 'Cause I can keep my priorities straight! Then I checked it for traps 'n' it was doin' some kind o' negative channelin' thing that Death Ward protected me from (thanks, Forth!). So I disabled it, 'cause it's what I do.

I unlocked the next door 'n' Alembic tried to open it 'cept it had some kind o' spring on it that kept it closed. This made Llew 'n' Forth suspicious, so Forth put new Death Wards on all of us 'n' I got out my Immovable Rod to prop the door open 'n' everyone took this door more seriously than the others. It was a good thing, too, 'cause when one of Alembic's last wood things opened the door 'n' I stuck in the Immovable Rod to keep it open, I got bitten by a great big dragon head. And it hurt! Even through Alembic's Stoneskin! That was one angry dragon! I stepped back from the door 'cause I'm smart enough to know when I'm about to get eaten, 'n' Forth made us all Smite (thanks, Forth!) 'n' he 'n' Llew went in to engage it. 'Cept it was quite the ornery caster. First it put up a Force Cage to try to lock everyone 'cept Forth out o' the room (Alembic got rid of that), then it did some weird time thing 'n' suddenly there were a whole bunch of it, so I used Shieldy on myself 'n' moved up to give Llew a bit o' luck 'n' it bit me anyway, then Llew 'n' Forth hit it a bunch 'n' it did the time thing again 'n' healed up, then I ran away 'n' it bit me again, then Llew 'n' Forth hit it a bunch 'n' it did the time thin again 'n' healed up, 'n' it was lookin' like this was goin' to go on forever, or at least until it ran out of time things or we ran out of healing.

Llew 'n' Forth were havin' all kinds o' trouble hittin' it, so even though I knew I was badly hurt, I told Alembic to go ahead 'n' teleport me behind it. I had my Shield up, 'n' I could do my dancin', 'n' maybe, just maybe, I could distract it enough to let Llew 'n' Forth finish it off before it killed me.

So, all I can say is, I'm a good distraction. Forth 'n' Llew started hittin' it more often, 'n' I could wave my dagger at it like I was goin' to try to stab it but then use Ornery instead 'n' it just kind of annoyed it, 'n' it tried to beat Forth to death, 'cause it's what you do, and eventually it looked like it was goin' to drop before Forth did 'n' Alembic hit it with Lightning because he thought it was going to try to run away and it worked.

We were seriously banged up, so Forth and I started channeling to heal everyone, while Llew 'n' Alembic borrowed my treasure stitchin' carpet 'cause there was a massive dragon hoard to deal with 'n' we didn't have a lot of time. So Alembic checked for anythin' we could use right away, didn't see anythin', 'n' into the carpet everythin' went. We'll check it later. We were almost out of resources, but the next message told us that we had to hurry: The Mother o' Wights left us a message that since we got past her pet great wyrm red dragon revenant, she was going to run.

The chase was on...

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Session 58, Played 20-Oct-2019

Once the Mother o' Wight's image was gone, we could see past her and into the building. It looked a lot like an Asmodean church, with pews full o' worshippers all neatly aligned 'n' facin' an altar with a couple o' priests on it on the left, but off to the right were two skeletal guys around some big cage with a lever next to it. As far as I could tell, the lever'd just open the bottom o' the cage 'n' drop whoever was in it into the whatever was below, which seemed like an awfully elaborate way to kill someone if you ask me, but religion.

Since we were obviously about to enter a church o' unholiness, Alembic started Death Warding us with his wand, 'n' the clerics just smiled 'n' let us do our thing, like they had all the time in the world to wait for us to kill them. Once we were Death Warded, Forth stepped into the church 'n' immediately his Life Bubble popped 'n' he coughed a bit 'n' said the whole place stank of death. Once he'd stepped in the whole congregation turned to look at him and smiled, 'n' the priests welcomed him 'n' said they were happy to see us all as had been foretold. All the people in the pews were more o' the same: Paladins, inquisitors, 'n' clerics of good-aligned gods, who'd clearly lost their faith somewhere along the way. Know what's better'n losin' your faith? Dying 'n' spending eternity with the god or goddess you swore to serve! How hard is it to die? Sheesh. I've done it twice now.

Anyhoo, dyin' aside, they didn't seem like an immediate threat, nor did the skeletal guys with the cage and the lever, nor did any o' the dead bodies in the chandeliers, or on the walls, or anywhere else (can't they think of anything else to decorate with?), so Forth 'n' Llew started tellin' us what was goin' on. Forth said he smelled somethin' like brimstone over by the skeletal guys, so the floor probably opened up into fire or lava or somethin' else nasty. Llew said the guys guardin' it were ice wights, 'n' they'd be a nasty fight so Alembic protected us from cold. The priests at the front were clerics o' Urgathoa, 'n' they were in the middle o' some ritual where all the parishioners had all gorged themselves on some huge, magnificent feast at the front o' the room, 'n' now they were prayin' fervently to their old gods, 'n' once they were done they were going to eat some rotten human flesh 'n' hope they didn't get infected.

There's a reason I like Calistria. Better rituals.

Llew said the whole purpose o' the ritual was to draw the attention o' the good gods to what the Mother o' Wights was doin', which again seemed like a Really Bad Thing. I asked whether we should kill 'em all, 'n' whether it was OK with everyone else, 'n' the priests cut in 'n' said they could hear me 'cause rude, 'n' Llew said she was OK with me killin' everyone 'n' Forth made one o' those vague statements like, "They've made their choices," which really wasn't a "Yes" or a "No" in my mind, 'cause paladins can be confusin' that way, 'n' Alembic's happy to kill anyone who isn't killing him so his opinion didn't really count.

The priests insisted that all they wanted to do was help us, 'n' they didn't want to fight, so I was kind o' waitin' for Llew or Forth to do somethin', 'cause Calistria's pretty OK with murder 'n' mayhem if you think someone might possibly deserve it (in fact I think she thinks it's kind o' funny), but Torag's a dwarf god, 'n' heck if I know what the heck he thinks. Alembic solved the problem for me by summonin' a couple o' wood guys to attack the ice wights, which kind o' made everythin' go to heck. It looked like he summoned three, but one of 'em dissolved as soon as it came in, so two seemed OK. I got ready to use a scroll o' Fireball on the clerics if they tried anythin', but they seemed more panicked than anythin' else. The ice wights engaged the wood guys, but then Forth went runnin' in 'cause Forth isn't Forth unless he's gettin' beaten on, 'n' Llew started buffin' herself 'n' Alembic sped up everybody but me.

Trouble was, with us in the middle and the parishioners 'n' clerics on the left 'n' ice wights on the right, we were in a bit of a bind. So I blew up the parishioners 'n' the clerics with a Fireball. 'N' they all died. Just like that. Like tiny little twigs in a bonfire. Remember what I said 'bout Calistria not mindin' a little accidental mayhem? Well, I was pretty thankful for that 'cause I was thinkin' a good-aligned god might've taken some offense at that. 'Cept they were all Urgathoa worshippers who'd abandoned their own faiths, so I was planning on killin' 'em anyway and the fact that they were weak as kittens just sped things up. I wouldn't've fireballed kittens. 'Cause kittens.

Forth started getting beaten on, which is always a spectacle, 'cept this time all his blood started turnin' black 'n' icy 'n' flamy all at the same time, 'n' it didn't look good at all 'n' he swung at the ice wight 'n' couldn't hit worth a darn, so I was goin' to have to get involved. And that meant fire. Because it always means fire. Llew went in to help out Forth 'n' I told Alembic to protect 'em both from fire 'n' he did, 'cause sometimes he listens to me, 'n' I Fireballed the lot of 'em. From all the meltin' on the ice wights I think it did a lot of good, 'cept it blew up one of Alembic's trees, which I almost felt a little bad about. But the things were really tearin' Forth up to the point that I was wonderin' whether he'd survive the fight, so Alembic send a snake o' fire through the wights 'n' I Fireballed 'em again 'n' that was enough for Llew to kill one. Forth finally managed to get his wits together 'n' kill the other one, but he was still burnin' so Llew had to out 'n' out Heal him. I stepped into the church 'n' lost my Life Bubble, too, and it stank. I ran over 'cause I knew it'd be hilarious 'n' I Consecrated the church's altar. Take that, Urgathoa! Best 200 gold I ever spent! 'Course I couldn't much tell that it did anythin', but the spell went off 'n' that was good enough for me.

Then it dawned on me: How'd I cast Consecrate when even Llew 'n' Forth were havin' to focus to cast positive energy spells? Llew explained that the aura that made it hard to cast was gone from here. One more sign that the Mother o' Wights needed us in a fair fight for some reason.

While I was standin' there on the now-Consecrated altar bein' all disrespectful to Urgathoa, Forth came over 'n' looked at the priests. Each of 'em had a fancy scroll tube. Once I'd checked 'em for traps, Alembic opened 'em. Inside were instructions to the priests to feed us, bless us, 'n' give us anythin' we needed. They really were tryin' to be helpful. But they were horrifically evil and deserved to die anyway. At least in my book, and that's the one that counts, since I'm the one who blew 'em up.

Llew said some nice words over the dead 'cause she's good that way, 'n' we looked over the lever. It was just a boring old Teleport Trap that put you into a cage, 'n' then the wights dropped you into a lava pit. I really wondered 'bout the person who thought it up: Would a group teleportin' somewhere unknown really not be flyin'? And if they were flyin', what good was the lever goin' to do? Didn't seem like a well-thought out trap at all to me. Maybe later I could improve it.

As we looked around, it turned out the door to the outside had closed at some point durin' the fight. Alembic mentioned that he was pretty tapped out, 'n' Forth was lookin' pretty tired, too, 'n' I figured the Mother o' Wights obviously had to fight us at our best so there was no reason not to rest, but of course the moment I said it sounded like a good idea everyone figured something'd go wrong 'n' we decided to move on. Alembic had his tree guy try to open the next door, but it was locked, so it was pretty comedic watchin' the stupid tree tryin' unsuccessfully to open the door while Alembic was takin' a moment to figure out whether it was 'cause the tree didn't have thumbs or whether 'cause somethin' else was wrong.

So I unlocked the door 'n' let the tree open it, 'cause it was the nice thing to do.

Another image of the Mother o' Wights. *yawn*. This one told us to help ourselves to anythin' we thought might be helpful in the next room, but it was just a room full of holy symbols of all the people she'd corrupted. The door past the room had a plaque on it that read, "My first creations were weak and pitiful." It took us a moment to realize that she was goin' to have us walk through a fricking museum of her creations! Her nefarious plan was clear! She was going to bore us to death!

'Cept I'm a thoughtful girl, so I wanted to collect all the holy symbols so I could return 'em to their rightful temples, 'n' Llew 'n' Forth didn't want to waste the time, but when your gnome's bein' more pious than you it's time to let her do her thing, so we lost around five minutes dumpin' holy symbols into my Portable Hole, but it made me feel better. THEN we went on to see the museum.

Opening the door, we saw four skeletons done up in magnificent costumes, each on a pedestal, and each with a plaque. The closest one was done up as some kind o' female demon, with great wings covered with some kind o' writing I couldn't read, bleedin' glowy hooves, 'n' three tails. The plaque read, "Nocticula, Demon Lord of Secrets". Llew said she 'n' all the others were fast zombies, so they probably wouldn't be all that tough, but the Mother o' Wights'd gone to a lot of trouble to make 'em up. Past Nocticula was a tentacly guy labeled "Dagon, Demon Lord of the Sea". Then a twisted-up giant labeled, "Kostchtchie, Demon Lord of Giants". I made Alembic read the name out loud 'n' then said, "Gesundheit". He wasn't amused. The final one was "Pazuzu, Demon Lord of the Wind". The wood golem wandered up to Nocticula 'n' she pretty much destroyed him. I took a shot at her but missed horrifically, but Llew made up for it by walking up and hitting her but good. Forth moved up to help, 'n' Alembic helpfully pointed out that the other three zombies were Time Stopped 'n' probably wouldn't interfere if we didn't get too close to 'em.

Since Forth 'n' Llew were havin' trouble hitting, 'n' Nocticula was obviously goin' to eventually start doin' some real damage, I tried to summon some lillend azatas to help us, 'cept the stupid scroll didn't want to work for me! Fortunately, Alembic wasn't as bad as me 'n' he slowed the critter down. I gave Llew some luck to help her hit, 'n' I should've given it to Forth 'cause he started flappin' his axe around 'n' sunk it into the wall. Llew hit her for a lot more damage, 'n' she wasn't hurtin' Llew much at all 'cause she'd been slowed. Which meant I had time to go back to summoning, 'n' this time the scroll worked!

Unfortunately, by the time my azatas finally arrived Llew 'n' Forth'd already finished off Nocticula. Fortunately, I got 3 azatas to heed my call, which made me feel really loved 'n' special, 'cause it was the most I could get. Unfortunately, I didn't really have any space for all 3 of them so I had to put one of 'em next to Pazuzu. Sorry, girl! I had two of 'em start doin' their bard thing, 'n' the one next to Pazuzu healed Llew a bit 'cause it was a nice thing to do and I was asking all politely in Celestial 'n' everythin', which made the azatas smile 'cause they have Truespeech 'n' I was just bein' polite. 'Cause azatas. I expect to see a lot of 'em once I'm dead, so gotta get on good terms with 'em now.

Unfortunately, the stinky gas we'd smelled was apparently really bad for azatas, 'n' two of my girls started wiltin' almost immediately. I felt kind o' bad for summonin' 'em in. The one who'd healed Llew said it was OK 'cause I was fightin' a good 'n' righteous fight, just before Pazuzu obliterated her. So I stepped in to stab him, 'cause it was the obvious thing to do. With my two girls performin' Llew 'n' Forth could hit much better, 'cause bards are awesome that way. In fact, Forth out-and-out killed Pazuzu, then Llew one-rounded guy whose name I don't even want to bother to write 'cause too many consonants. Since we were doin' so well, one o' the azata 'n' I started in on Dagon, 'n' he hit me a bit, but not too bad, 'n' Llew 'n' Forth came over 'n' we made short work of him, but not before a second of my azata died from the poison. Poor girls!

I quickly named my third azata Julie, 'cause everyone knows that outsiders with names don't die, 'n' climbed up onto her to ride her just 'cause she was so huge 'n' pretty 'n' I wanted to. 'N' she didn't mind, 'cause she was summoned.

Once Dagon dropped, and as Julie was healin' me 'cause I'd asked her to, another image o' the Mother o' Wights appeared to explain her creations' shortcomings, talkin' 'bout how some of 'em were hard to hit but didn't do much damage, while others did a ton o' damage but were too easy to hit, 'n' so forth. All very boring and self-righteous. 'N' none o' their gear was magical, so maybe the Mother o' Wights bein' cheap in her own museum might've contributed to their downfall, eh?

The next door was labeled "Planes", so it seemed appropriate to have Julie Knock it open. We moved into the next room 'n' it was a giant green-skinned humanoid with wings. Some kind of angel? Can you make undead out of angels? 'Cause that just seems wrong. Julie didn't know what it was, either, so we all just did the proper thing 'n' ran in and killed it. Once it was dead, we saw that the plaque said, "Planetar Angel". So it was an angel! Unfortunately, Julie's time was up so I hugged her goodbye and stood on my own two feet. Or floated. Whatever.

We didn't get the Mother o' Wights this time, but a door that said, "During my trip into the good realms I found even greater things to putrify". Which just made me want to stab her all the more. Who goes on vacation to other people's places just to putrify them? OK, maybe I break or burn a few things, but I don't putrify anything! Or zombify my hosts!
We went into the next room 'n' it was a smaller angel this time, but this one had six wings. It was labeled a "Solar Angel" and it was a bit harder to kill, but apparently turnin' angels into undead doesn't work all that well (as you'd figure), and I'd say the demon lord zombies were tougher than the angel zombies, all in all.

Anyhoo, we got her little sob story 'bout how the Good planes weren't good enough for her, so she decided to try some others 'n' the next door said "Plane of Fire". Which was good, 'cause we were protected from fire. Alembic cast Open on the door and sure enough, there was some kind of fire thing there, which Llew said was an "elder fire ravener plague beast", as if that meant anythin' to me. Apparently it did to Alembic 'cause he panicked and hid around the corner, but I figured the last two'd been cake walks, so I used Shieldy on myself and ran in to distract it. 'Cept instead of tryin' to hit me it breathed on everyone. And its breath stole life away!

I started tryin' to complain to Llew that she should've said somethin, 'n' she pointed out that I'd gotten all gung-ho 'n' run in before she'd had a chance to say "Boo", and I had to admit she was right, but it still hurt. 'N' Forth 'n' Alembic were burned pretty badly by the fire part of the breath in spite o' their protections. Llew warned me I wouldn't be able to find any weaknesses on it, 'n' lookin' at the big blobby thing I figured I could've figured that out myself. But Llew put up her protective aura on us 'n' we started beatin' on it, 'n' I didn't like it much 'cause it wanted to beat me to death 'n' it was pretty good at it, then Forth did another weird fumbly thing with his axe so it decided to eat him instead. Thanks, Forth! Anyhoo, Llew kept beatin' on it 'til a bunch o' spirits started spinnin' round it, 'n' Llew said those were the souls o' those it'd drained, 'n' Forth finished it off. He didn't want to talk 'bout who the last soul was.

Alembic surprised us all by pullin' out a wand o' Restoration that must've cost a pretty penny, 'n' we got all healed up 'n' got all our levels back, but at this point we were well and truly pooped. So we chose the room where the planetar angel'd been 'cause it was nice 'n' big 'n' easy to defend, 'n' Alembic summoned some kind o' cabin, 'n' we decided to go in and rest.

I figured if the Mother o' Wights was goin' to all this trouble to get us to fight her in our top form, she wouldn't try to do somethin' while we were restin'. Would she?

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Session 57, Played 13-Oct-2019

Maybe it's just a long history of things goin' "Kablooey" when I start distractin' people or gettin' interested in their work (I know Phil had to throw me out o' his dimension quite a few times 'cause o' that), but I figured when a skeletal boatman's polin' you 'cross an entire sea o' undead tryin' to get at you and devour you, it's not a good time to be makin' polite conversation. Or really any kind o' conversation. I wasn't even juggling.
But Alembic, bein' Alembic, 'n' not one to live up to my expectations even though they're pretty low, decided it was time to be downright chatty with Mr. Dead Boatman. He asked why the boatman did it (he was bound, as would be expected. 'Course I lived in an Asmodean orphanage for a decade or two, so bindin' outsiders to do your biddin' is kind o' part of the basic education, along with reading, writing, 'n' stabbing misbehavers with forks, 'cept you don't get to choose who's misbehavin' for some reason so that was frowned upon). He asked whether the boatman would rather be dead (honestly kind of a fair question). He asked the boatman what we could expect beyond the sea 'n' all that.

Trouble was, I think he wasn't just bound to pole the boat; he was also s'posed to be mysterious 'n' depressin' as all get-out. He kept talkin' about how we'd have to make moral choices, 'n' every choice'd degrade our souls, 'n' whatnot, 'n' I figured it was just like Llew said: We were in a bigger version o' the tower in the woods, 'n' I figured we'd gotten through that all right. Forth hadn't even fallen or anythin'. Yeah, I made some people hate me forever, but I'm sure they deserved it.

Anyhoo, three hours o' metaphysics and morality later, we got to the far shore. By the time I heard it I was almost ready to jump overboard 'n' swim for it, 'cause Alembic's a talker when he gets his mind set on it. And he had his mind set. But the boatman pulled up, 'n' I was sure they were gonna start talkin' 'bout how the dock was a metaphor for the body 'n' the sea was a metaphor for the soul or whatnot 'cept the bell rang 'n' the boatman had to leave. I was thankful that I wouldn't have to listen to any more o' the conversation, but not so thankful that we had guests 6 hours in our wake, 'n' if we took our usual path o' straight-line destruction, our followers wouldn't have much of an issue keepin' up with us. Ah, well, we'll have to deal with 'em when the time comes. I'm hopin' Liff's with 'em. I wanna get a good look at his hands. They don't need to still be attached to his body when I do, though.

I started idly thinkin', as I do, 'n' got interrupted by a voice in my head, soundin' like a chorus o' the most evil people I'd ever heard. And how do you sound evil? That's gotta take work. But I wasn't payin' much attention 'cause he (they?) were sayin' all the typical stuff 'bout me bein' a disappointment 'n' all, and I'd heard that for many years in the orphanage, so it went in one ear and out the other. Llew started doin' that eye thing to tell us to look at somethin' but it's hard through her goggles, but it was enough to let me know that someone we couldn't see was comin', and he probably wasn't friendly. Almost as if he could tell Llew'd pointed him out, he appeared on the dock walkin' towards us, 'n' he was one hot-lookin' gnome. If I weren't in a den of unspeakable evil with a chorus o' unspeakable voices in my head, I'd've excused myself right there and done some Calistrian worship. 'Cept he was obviously part o' the evil, 'n' so I was obviously oh so Not Interested.

The guy introduced himself as Basileus, which I figured took a Hell of a lot of nerve on anyone's part, and I do mean "Hell", 'cause that's Asmodeus's right-hand devil and if there's one thing I learned in school it was not to mess with him or Asmodeus, 'cause even if you thought you were more powerful 'n' them, they'd use their brains to twist you into little horrified agonized pieces, 'n' this guy was really askin' for it. 'Cept Llew said he was the real deal.


Guess it was time to listen politely 'n' answer his questions 'n' not make any deals, 'cause they'd be bad unless there was somethin' they wanted us doin' anyway (like killin' the Mother o' Wights) that they could help with (like by grantin' wishes) while livin' up to their principles an' at least screwin' us over at least a little bit. 'Cause Asmodeus is like that. I figured I'd listen to the deal, not understand it, then ask him why he was helpin' us, 'n' from that I could probably figure out how bad the deal was.

He first looked us over 'n' said that Llew was an inquisitor of Pharasma, 'n' Forth was a paladin o' Torag, 'n' I was a cleric o' Calistria, but a minor disappointment. I figured I could work my way up to major disappointment soon enough, an' anyway, Calistria 'n' I had a gentlewoman's agreement: I was a pretty apathetic worshipper, 'n' she gave me pretty apathetic spells, 'n' we both nodded our heads 'n' said, "Meh," at each other and were happy with the arrangement. Who was he to judge?

Anyhoo, he wanted to make some kind o' divine pact with a human, but that meant he couldn't interfere with any other god's business, so he couldn't deal with me, Llew, or Forth. He turned to Alembic. The deal was pretty simple: We were about to get in a fight with the Grim Reaper (he even showed us some kind o' spell so we could see the guy waitin' for us), and anyone ol' Grimmy killed would be permanently dead without some kind o' divine intervention. 'N' Asmodeus was willin' to be our intervention. For the mere price of acceptin' the deal, he'd resurrect one of us if we died. If two of us died, he'd resurrect us both, but at the cost of Alembic's soul at the end of his life. 'N' if all three of us died, he'd resurrect us, but he'd take Alembic's soul right then. Just to emphasize the point, he showed the "Fields of the Unworthy" with a bunch o' crucified paladins, clerics, 'n' inquisitors who'd obviously tried to make it through 'n' failed. The good news was, Basileus was showin' us the platform on which the Grim Reaper was waitin', so we had a good idea how to get there.

The rest o' the party 'n' their Lawful-thinkin' minds (Llew isn't Lawful, but she can think that way. I can't. It hurts my brain) started discussin' the deal. I figured I'd just bug Basileus 'bout it 'cause devils do like to boast. I asked him whether Asmodeus had a stake in this (he did), 'n' which side he wanted to win (ours), so it was pretty much guaranteed to be an "only a little bit bad" deal. By the time I was finished figurin' that out, the rest o' the party'd figured out the catch: Other'n me, the rest o' the party was mortal 'n' would be dead in a couple o' centuries anyway, 'n' if I couldn't find ways to keep myself entertained I might bleach in three or four centuries, though I was countin' on the world stayin' interestin', which was one o' the reasons I started travelin' young. So Asmodeus'd cheerfully resurrect 'em once they eventually died, they'd die again anyway 'cause old, 'n' he'd get Alembic's soul. Seemed like an awful lot of work for a single soul, but that's the kind of thing Asmodeus does.
As I said, not that bad of a deal. But Alembic didn't like it 'cause it was his soul we were talkin' 'bout, so he refused.

Basileus did the Asmodean thing where he acted all disappointed that "we" had figured it out, but had that smile that said, "Oh, you're going to be fun! I'll figure out a way to trick you yet," that all Asmodeans get once you get the better of 'em on a deal. Which is why I don't make deals with 'em. They get all hurt if you forget 'em 'cause they spend SO much time figurin' out all the little traps 'n' legal whatnots, 'n' you don't care 'bout the law 'n' you stab the little devils they send after you to seek revenge 'n' they get all offended like it's not part o' the game or somethin'.

Anyhoo, with Basileus on his cheerful disappointed way, we discussed tactics against the Grim Reaper. The big problems were his death effects: We couldn't afford to be critically hit, 'n' we couldn't afford to die. I remembered the scroll of Iron Body in my haversack and asked what happened if we couldn't be crit. Turns out we wouldn't die! So Alembic had a spell to turn us all into elementals, 'n' we'd still be able to use our weapons 'n' fight, 'n' then he'd cast Deathless on all of us so we couldn't die, 'n' between that and Llew's Heal spells, a bunch o' Death Wards, and Protection from Evil, we could probably take him. Other than bein' cut to ribbons by his scythe, of course.

We set about makin' it so. Anythin' we didn't want gettin' polymorphed we had to put down, so I put down my dagger, my Handy Haversack, my holy symbol (you never know), and Shieldy. Everyone else put their stuff down, 'n' Alembic started castin' the spell. Everyone else wanted to be earth elementals 'cause they were tough 'n' strong, but I wanted to be an air elemental 'cause they're light 'n' quick, like me. I asked whether I could be a smelly one with a little brown tinge, but Alembic said the spell didn't work that way, and I'm just thinkin' he didn't want to. Llew did her Death Wards, Alembic Polymorphed us, then as we were pickin' up all our stuff he made us all Deathless, then Hasted us, 'n' finally Dimension Doored us to the platform…
...except the grim reaper wasn't there?!?!?

Forth moved forward 'n' spotted him hiding off on the other side o' the platform, so he told us to gather 'round. Llew moved up 'n' I followed 'n' put a bit o' luck on her, just for luck, 'n' Forth made us all smite. The grim reaper ran up 'n' hit Forth, but it didn't seem too bad. Forth smote 'n' hit him, but just once. Then Llew stepped to the other side of him and just tore him to pieces! I wouldn't be surprised if you could find bits 'n' pieces o' grim reaper all over the Fields o' the Unworthy. If he'd had eyes, they'd've been clouded over. As it was, I just stepped in, looked for a bit o' spine pokin' out, 'n' snipped it. He dropped. I worried that Llew was goin' to be mad again that she didn't get in the killin' blow, but she seemed pretty OK with just havin' him dead.

Alembic turned me back into a gnome 'n' we threw the reaper's stuff into my Portable Hole, except for a scroll that had some kind o' entry code on it, but as we were doin' it Forth 'n' Llew reported that all the souls of all the paladins, clerics, 'n' inquisitors who'd died here were finally free 'n' movin' on to be judged, 'n' they were all thankin' us! How nice! As a return favor we went down 'n' got all their stuff, too, 'n' put it in the hole. I'm sure they didn't mind.

There was a road leadin' out o' the fields, 'n' since we couldn't know how long it was, Alembic made us some steeds 'n' we rode for a few hours. Eventually we came to a big ol' wall with a big ol' gate in it. Alembic studied it 'n' said it had an Alarm on it and an Arcane Lock, but I figured we'd just remove the alarm and use the words. I disabled the Alarm, then tried to read the words, but they were gobbledygook to me. And I speak 9 languages! But Alembic said you had to read it all magic-like, 'n' he did, 'n' the doors opened, 'n' an image o' the Mother o' Wights herself appeared, welcomin' us as the first adventurers worthy o' seein' her.

Llew watched intently. Apparently, the Mother o' Wights needed us 'cause her goddess Urgathoa'd put her on some kind of "villain quest", 'n' she needed to face us 'n' kill us fair 'n' square in order to gain some boon.

So yeah, the entire demirealm was created just to get us to come to her. 'N' here we were. And there was someone else comin' just a few hours behind us.

Interestin' times…

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Session 56, Played 06-Oct-2019

So, Alembic said he was pretty tapped out, 'n' it didn't seem likely that any critters were likely to come huntin' in the dragon's lair, so we figured it was a good place to get some shut-eye. We tried to rest again, 'n' this time we didn't get wilted or eaten or anything! Miracles DO happen!

In the "morning", after Forth 'n' I'd done our prayers 'n' Llew'd done whatever it is that she does with Pharasma, Alembic summoned up some Phantom Steeds for us. I asked him to make mine rainbow, 'n' he said he did, but in the dark everythin' was just shades o' grey, but it sure looked rainbow to me, so I was happy. We started ridin' 'cross the lands that were labeled "Factories/Necromancers" on our map, so we figured we were probably lookin' for some kind o' place where necromancers manufactured undead critters. The ground was a lot cleaner than it'd been in the Proving Grounds, 'n' Llew 'n' Forth figured that was probably because they needed all the parts for their "factories". I figured it just meant not many people made it this far, 'n' we were better 'n the rest of 'em. It doesn't hurt to be honest!

It only took 'bout an hour of riding on the steeds before we first heard, 'n' then saw one o' the factories in front of us. 'N' it looked just like the one in Gillamoor, but much, much, MUCH bigger! Just as we suspected, the Mother o' Wights'd taken everything she'd learned from all her plottin' 'n' schemin' 'n' was puttin' it all to good use here in her own little domain. The closest buildin' was churnin' out skeletons as far as the eye could see (which wasn't far in the darkness), 'n' the moment Forth asked where they were gettin' all their supplies a warsworn came rumblin' up 'n' dumped its load in the factory. THAT'S where the parts came from!

Now, I'm a sensible girl: We were after the Mother o' Wights. This factory might've been an abomination that needed to be destroyed on Golarion, but in here it was just addin' to the already-overwhelmin' sense o', "This whole place just needs to be destroyed 'n' transported to the Plane o' Positive Energy for some fun cleansin'." So I suggested we just ignore the factory 'n' go around. I was pretty flabbergasted when both Llew 'n' Forth agreed with me. I wish I knew more 'bout people, 'cause I was beginnin' to think they'd been replaced by pod people. But they made the same arguments I did: The Mother o' Wights was our primary target, 'n' there was no reason to get distracted here 'cause we could always come back and raze this place once she was dead. Trouble was, there wasn't a heck of a lot of "around" to go to; the buildings stretched on for as far as the eye could see (not far) or the ear could hear (a lot farther) in either direction. We decided we'd just cut over one o' the buildings, avoidin' the alleyways, 'n' hope nobody with any sense looked up.

No such luck.

We weren't even halfway 'cross the buildin' before a siren started crankin' up 'n' we tried to run for it. Llew 'n' Forth said it wasn't workin' 'n' something big 'n' fly-y was comin' our way, 'n' Llew put up her field to protect us from death effects. Which sounds a lot more powerful'n it is, even though it's awfully powerful, 'cause it doesn't actually protect you from dyin', just from people usin' spells 'n' negative channeling and that kind o' thing to kill you. Since she was worried 'bout such things, I used my wand (which I've taken to carryin' 'stead o' Shieldy, 'cause nobody ever swings at me any more, they just cast Horrid Wilting 'n' try to make me die from a distance) to Death Ward Forth, figurin' he'd want to run off on his lonesome and bleed on someone some time soon.

Alembic was the first one to see it, 'cause he had his super-special Darkvision up, but his description of "giant rocky skeleton thing with gases comin' out" didn't do Llew any good at all. Whatever it was, it hit Forth with some kind of electric beam thingy 'n' it looked like it hurt a lot, but he didn't bleed a whole ton, so I didn't know whether that was good or bad: Did he not bleed 'cause it didn't hurt, or did he not bleed 'cause it was electricity? I didn't think Forth'd like havin' that discussion right now, so I let it drop. I'd probably forget to ask later. Llew was still buffin' herself before goin' in (which is probably why she doesn't bleed as much as Forth does), so I figured it'd help if we could all see what we were fightin', so I used my little gnome brain to create four little balls o' light (red, green, blue, and purple), 'n' the first thing I noticed was that my horse wasn't rainbow at all! It was just a bunch o' shades o' grey!

Alembic! That liar!

Anyhoo, I sent the Dancin' Lights off to light up the critter, 'n' once Llew saw it she immediately said it was a "Zit Middle", which sounds really nasty any way you think about it, but it didn't look like an ooze or pus or anythin' else I'd ever seen comin' out of a zit, so I started wonderin' what kind o' zits these namin' guys had, to name that thing a "Zit Middle", but Llew said that no, it was with a "T", but "Zit Mittle" made even less sense, 'n' Llew just sighed 'n' stopped tryin' to 'splain to me 'cause we were kind o' busy. She just said that it was one o' the critters that was flyin' up high so we weren't supposed to fly over 100' up (I remembered that bit), but this one must've heard the siren 'n' come down to play.

Lucky us.

So Llew warned us 'bout what to do 'n' what not to do: Keep Death Ward up 'cause it could do Wail o' the Banshee at will, don't use cold or electricity, use holy bludgeoning weapons (fresh out o' those), don't use positive energy on it, 'n' look out for its Deeper Darkness spell. As we saw, it had nasty eye bolts, 'n' it could put people in a permanent bit o' stopped time that'd protect 'em, but take 'em out o' the combat. Sounded nasty.

After she was done 'splainin', Forth did his "make all of us Smite Evil at once" thing, and the zit middle (I'm just going to call it a pus monster, even though it didn't look like pus at all to me) didn't like that one bit so it did its eyeball thing at Forth again, so I suggested to Alembic that maybe, just maybe, he might want to protect us from electricity a little bit. He gave me a look that told me he got the point. Good. But I Death Warded him 'cause I figured I could keep up with Llew 'n' she could keep her field up, so we'd be good for a bit yet, and I Smited the critter, and it felt good. (No; the critter didn't feel "Good"; it felt good to smite it!) Alembic protected us all from electricity, an' I didn't say anything rude, 'n' Llew 'n' Forth started movin' in to get at the critter.

'Cept once Llew moved away from me I felt some kind o' horrible miasma around me. I shook it off, but it was pretty obvious I needed to be Death Warded as soon as I had a moment. The critter saw we were comin' and moved away from my lights (but not before zappin' Forth again, but this time he was somewhat protected 'n' it didn't look as bad), but Alembic could still see it 'n' told us to all huddle together. We did, 'n' he teleported us right on top of the thing. It rewarded him by beatin' him near senseless, then eyeballin' him into oblivion. Llew told me I needed to use my Breath of Life on him, so I knew it was bad. Then she just up and killed it. I'm not joking. Some planet-killin' pusball that doesn't look like pus, 'n' she just turns to me 'n' tells me to save Alembic, then just kills it. Just like that.

Never. Make. Llew. Angry.

I tried to make the scroll o' Breath o' Life work on Alembic, but I think it kind o' sensed my feelings about him at the moment, him and his, "Here's a rainbow pony!" but it's not really rainbow, nor even a pony or anythin', so it didn't work. But Forth came through 'n' saved him, so I didn't have to feel guilty 'bout it. 'Cause I would've. Honestly.

We healed Alembic a bit (even Llew's wand was ornery, 'n' in spite of not being supposed to work in this plane it worked both times I tried it) and moved on. After a while, the ground turned to sand, so I made my armor look like a bathing suit (rainbow, of course, and quite modest, thank you very much!) 'n' started singing beach songs, but Llew told me there was no singin' so I had to be quiet. We flew on our horses for a ways, but suddenly they all popped at once. And considerin' mine wasn't really rainbow, I wasn't goin' to miss it all that much. 'Cept Forth 'n' I were fallin' straight down towards a couple o' snakes like the one that'd tried to eat me way back when -- a "hollow serpent", if memory serves. 'N' this time there were two of 'em! 'Cept as we were fallin', we could see more 'n' more down the way: It was an entire fence o' the things! Talk about unfriendly neighbors!

Fortunately (or unfortunately) the snakes didn't want to eat us 'til they'd dried us up a bit, 'cause o' course undead have to do everything backwards and like their food dry 'n' chewy (the abominations!) so they cast a couple o' Horrid Wiltings our way, just to be unpleasant. Llew flew right in 'n' the snake bit her on the way in, but she hit it right back. I figured I was just going to get myself into trouble if I didn't protect myself, so I put up a Death Ward, sidled over next to Llew, 'n' called on Calistria to make a double o' myself. How do you like that, Alembic? I can make Mirror Images, too! Well, one Mirror Image. And it only lasts for twelve seconds. But it's there!!!!
Forth engaged the other one 'n' Alembic sped us up, which is always appreciated. I started stabbin' the snake with Llew, but Forth cheated 'n' smote his so he killed his first. Llew was kind o' pissed 'bout that, but hey, she killed the pus monster so she couldn't really complain all THAT much. The snake tried to eat Llew but that didn't work out all that well for it, 'n' Alembic kept it from runnin' away with one o' those giant walls o' lava. It tried to run anyway, so Llew 'n' I killed it. (Well, I poked it 'n' Llew killed it.)

They didn't have any loot on 'em so we healed up from the Horrid Wiltings 'n' Alembic made us new ponies (and this time mine was rainbow, 'cause I checked and Alembic learns things), 'n' we moved on. This time we were movin' more carefully, watchin' the ground for stuff, so it wasn't a surprise that Llew spotted a faint trail runnin' perpendicular to our path. She could tell everyone on it was goin' to the right, 'n' she 'n' Forth wanted to follow it, but I wanted to see the vile sea first. We argued a bit, then finally I Death Warded everyone 'n' we headed towards the sea. 'N' it got louder. 'N' louder. 'N' louder. 'Til it was nearly deafening. Then we saw the "sea". It was thousands and millions of undead, roiling in a massive pit going on forever, waving 'n' moving like an ocean, but just… an ocean of undead.

Yeah, we weren't goin' THAT way.

So we followed Plan B 'n' followed the path for a ways, 'til it reached a grandiose archway leadin' into an open-air buildin' juttin' out over the "sea". The archway itself had all kinds o' Urgathoan symbols on it, so it was obviously some kind o' monstrosity. I've learned my lesson with archways, so I studied it, 'n' Detected Magic on it, 'n' couldn't figure it out, 'n' Alembic looked it over 'n' it wasn't a trap, it was just some kind o' Silence spell, so we went through and… peace and quiet! All the screamin' undead went silent! It was a nice, peaceful place to rest 'n' relax while waitin' for… what?
At the far end, right next to the edge, was a bell. A ferry bell. So just like all those myths 'bout gettin' ferried 'cross the river o' the dead, 'cept this wasn't a river, this was an honest-to-goodness sea of undead critters. I checked out the bell. Alembic checked out the bell. It was a simple Sending spell to let the ferryman know we were here. Alembic 'n' Forth admitted that they were pretty tapped out 'n' could use a rest, but we didn't want to rest in the ferry building, so we moved off a ways 'n' Alembic built us a little stone hut.

Well, as near as we could figure it'd be around 16 hours before Forth 'n' I got our spells back, though nobody really cared 'bout my "spells" but me, so we played some cards, 'n' I sang some songs in my head, 'n' I juggled, 'n' danced, 'n' put nuts 'n' raisins up my nose and sneezed 'em out at Alembic 'n' such, but just as we were quietin' down 'n' gettin' ready to sleep proper-like we heard some voices outside: Two guys, speakin' in Common, talkin' bout Dimension Dooring in and killing us, or breaking down the walls and killing us, or just waiting for us to come out and killing us. Charming fellows. Forth called out 'n' told them that we didn't want any trouble, but they asked whether we had any loot, so it was obvious they were going to have to die. Sometimes, you make the wrong choices in life. But Forth let 'em wander off, 'n' they said they were goin' to set up an ambush for us, which was awfully forthright of 'em, but I used my gloves to peek through the walls 'n' didn't see 'em, so I guess they really had wandered off to ambush us. Go figure!

So, the rest o' the party isn't as vengeful or bloodthirsty as I am (I figured once they said they were goin' to kill 'n' loot us it was kind o' my religious duty to hunt 'em down 'n' kill 'em, but I'm kind of a slacker of a priestess. 'N' Calistria knows it, 'n' I don't think she cares all that much. 'Cause whatever). Instead o' searchin' for the ambush 'n' fighting the guys, we just Dimension Doored to the bell 'n' Forth had me ring it. Forth 'n' Alembic asked where I went, 'n' Llew asked why I was all translucent. I couldn't figure it out, but Alembic said it looked like I'd gone "ethereal". We figured this was part o' the process so we all rang the bell, 'n' then we didn't have time to experiment 'cause the creepy skeletal boatman showed up just like he's s'posed to 'n' asked me what I wanted, 'n' I told him I wanted to go across the sea, 'n' he said I'd have to pay the toll.
I've learned my lesson, so I asked him exactly what everythin' entailed, 'n' it sounded easy enough: 2 coins from each of us. But he couldn't take us in the state we were in.


Then Alembic mentioned that turnin' ethereal hadn't been in the bell yesterday.


Then the 2 adventurin' guys showed up to kill us, figurin' they had Ghost Touch weapons 'n' we wouldn't so we'd be easy marks.

Now that's an oopsie.

Alembic sped us up, I put Light on Forth to create some shadows 'n' hid, 'n' Llew 'n' Forth closed in 'n' started hitting the guys. Turned out they weren't "guys" at all, but giant skin-wearin' undead called ekorshehs (or somethin' like that). Llew said we had to make sure they didn't manage to hit us with both claws. Easy enough! I flew through/over my guy (handy bein' incorporeal, even if my knife isn't), 'n' my guy quickly learned just what a flankin' rogue with a Ghost Touch dagger can do to kidneys, even undead ones. Llew beat on the one I was helpin' her with, Forth killed his, and I killed ours. The boatman was gettin' impatient so we rushed over, waited to turn solid again, then handed over our fares. Llew quickly searched the corpses 'n' brought along a couple o' nice-lookin' swords.

We got on the ferry and headed for our final destination: The Mother o' Wight's seat o' power.

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Session 55, Played 22-Sep-2019

So, there are nice ways to wake up: A soft kiss on the cheek. A pat on the bum. The aroma of a hot breakfast bein' carried into your room while you stay snug and warm and cozy in bed.
Gettin' hit by Horrid Wilting is none o' those.

So, wakin' up was unpleasant, 'specially since we supposedly had a watch. But whatever was attackin' us was too far out for Llew or Forth to see, 'n' Alembic 'n' I'd been asleep. As Llew 'n' Forth started buffin', I grabbed my weapons, stood up, 'n' used Shieldy on myself. Alembic turned himself invisible 'n' ran off, callin' out that he'd made a wall between us 'n' "it", whatever "it" was. Trouble was, I didn't really believe him 'cause the thing finally flew into sight, 'n' it was a HUGE dragon, but I couldn't tell what color it was 'cause darkvision. But Llew's better'n me 'n' she said it was an ancient green dragon rivener, whatever that meant. Well, it breathed acid all over the place, 'n' even though I dodged the acid there was still a cold draininess to it 'n' I felt all weak 'n' sickly just bein' 'round it, so 'parently "rivener" means "undead so its breath is full o' negative energy". Forth channeled to heal the rest o' the party, 'cause they'd taken the brunt o' the acid, I protected Llew from negative energy with my wand, 'n' she did the same for the rest of us with her, "Don't get hurt by undead" aura.

Alembic made us all fly, but then it hit us with Chain Lightning 'n' everyone else in the party was suddenly lookin' awfully near death, so I suggested that maybe Alembic should get us the heck out o' there, 'cause I knew neither Llew nor Forth'd suggest it, 'n' Alembic was too quick to suggest it, so maybe they'd listen to me. Fortunately, everybody agreed that we weren't in any shape to take on an ancient dragon who'd taken us by surprise, 'cept Alembic 'cause 'parently the Chain Lightning'd been enough to knock him out. Llew ran over 'n' Healed him while the dragon was wheelin' about for another run, 'n' he didn't need to be told twice to get us the heck out of there.

We arrived back in town, 'n' the bum/guide at the obelisk told us that we shouldn't come back lookin' so weak, 'cause it'd make us prey. Well, I was gonna say that I hadn't had time to get out my makeup while we were gettin' out from under the ancient undead dragon, but Llew just thanked him 'n' told me to give him the stuff, so I opened up my portable hole 'n' made him help us get all the stuff out of there. He said he'd put it to good use, 'n' I kind've believed him. We headed for the tavern to get a decent night's sleep somewhere that dragons weren't goin' to show up. Forth said he'd gotten a message from the dragon that we'd failed, but yeah, let us wake HIM up from a sound slumber 'n' pound on him for a bit before he could get his bearings, 'n' we'd see how HE'D do.

Anyhoo, we went back to the tavern, everyone said, "Hi," 'n' we went to our room 'n' I took a proper bath (if you don't want to see it, don't look, Alembic!) 'n' got back to bed. Llew kept watch, 'n' she said that Liff'd come by sniffin' around while were asleep, but she didn't kill him, which I thought was really too bad.

Once we were up 'n' Forth 'n' I'd done our prayin' 'n' such, we started discussin' how to kill the dragon. Seemed pretty straightforward, even if it was a giant undead death machine: Forth'd have us all smite it, Alembic'd wall it in, 'n' we'd shoot the living (or undead) daylights out of it with bows, 'cause it moved too fast to catch. 'Cept Forth didn't have a bow. Which was especially embarrassin' considerin' I thought we'd just given quite a few over to the bum by the obelisk. So we went back, got Forth a twig with a string, he said he could make it work, 'n' we went by the temple o' Asmodeus to get some scrolls o' Greater Darkvision to help us see farther. 'N' o' course they did their job 'n' tried to recruit me, 'n' o' course I showed 'em I'd been there, done that, 'n' was a gnome to boot, so they didn't take it personally when I said, "No," 'n' didn't even sent me on the stupid, "Hell is great!" boat ride or anythin'. So I got to go in an' buy the scrolls, 'n' the sales guy showed me how to use 'em, which was awfully kind o' him, 'n' I asked him whether he had any spell pages of the spell, 'cause Alembic wanted one o' those. He did, but I'm not made o' cash so I thanked him and sent Alembic in to buy his own darned page.

Once we were ready, we got Phantom Steeds again 'n' headed back out. A warsworn was back, showin' just how useless our efforts to clean out the place would be until the Mother o' Wights was dead, 'n' Llew stopped us when she figured we were 5 minutes out from where we'd last fought the dragon. How she knew that, I had no idea, but she kept borrowin' my wayfinder so at least I felt useful. We did all our buffin', with Death Wards 'n' Greater Darkvisions 'n' all kinds o' other stuff flyin' about willy-nilly, 'n' then we headed in to fight the dragon. 'N' it called out that it hadn't expected us to buff so much so it wasn't goin' to come out and play 'til our buffs wore off. I was worried for a moment, but then Llew said that that was OK, since she could tell which way its lair was, 'n' we were just goin' to head on over 'n' help ourselves.

THAT started the fight!

We got hit by a Horrid Wilting again, 'n' it hurt a bit again, but next was a Fireball, which was at least somethin' different. I lit up an arrow 'n' flew out to be bait to try to draw it in so we could see it. It worked, kind of, 'cause it flew up 'n' hit me but it was invisible so we couldn't see it. Llew 'n' Alembic got to work makin' everyone on that side able to see, while I put True Strike on my arrow 'n' flew back to the group, waitin' for it to show up so I could shoot it. 'Cept no one thought to make me able to see so I didn't get to shoot anythin', so instead I put some luck on Llew but that didn't seem to help her at all. Then Forth did his smite thing but it didn't include me. And considerin' the look on Llew's face, it didn't include her, either, so we were on our own! It breathed acid on us again, but this time with the Death Ward 'n' the protection from acid it didn't seem to hurt anyone all that much (I dodged it again). On the other hand, Llew 'n' Forth didn't seem to be doin' a lot to it, I still couldn't see it, 'n' it kept flyin' up 'n' biting me, which was beginning to get pretty old.

Then Alembic put up a bunch o' walls between us 'n' Llew 'n' Alembic, 'n' the dragon just hopped over 'n' started eatin' us big-time. Why, Alembic? Why? What did I ever do to you?


Anyhoo, it really wasn't lookin' good for me, so Alembic dropped the walls 'n' Llew, bein' sweet, flew up 'n' started smackin' it properly with her sword. It didn't like that so it ripped her up somethin' awful, 'n' Forth did somethin' to swap places with her 'n' it ripped HIM up somethin' awful. It didn't look like either o' them was goin' to last very long, 'n' near the beginnin' o' the fight the dragon'd done somethin' to Alembic to keep him from teleportin' so me 'n' my Plane Shift scrolls were our last hope, 'n' I didn't even know which plane they went to, 'cause Alembic'd bought 'em 'n' he might've played some bad practical joke on me.

I figured it was better to go out a hero than a coward, so I winced, flew up to Forth, took another hit, 'n' gave him more luck. Llew, bein' Llew, didn't stay down 'n' used my distraction to fly in 'n' hit the dragon. So it hit her 'n' dropped her, 'n' hit me 'n' dropped me, 'n' I got ready to say my apologies to Pharasma…
…'cept all of a sudden I was awake again 'n' the fight was still goin'! 'N' Llew was mad. More than a little mad. So she flew up 'n' started carvin' into the thing, 'n' it couldn't get away from that wrath 'n' she killed it.

I was impressed.

Turned out that Alembic'd used a Wish to bring us back.

I was impressed again.

We made sure the dragon was dead, got a couple o' rings and an amulet off of it, Forth healed the little damage it'd done after Alembic's Wish, 'n' we headed over to its lair, 'n' picked up some gold.

If this was the kind o' critter we were goin' to be fightin' from here on out, we were goin' to need some bigger weapons...

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Session 54, Played 15-Sep-2019

So, the big question was, "What were we going to do?"

And the answer was, "A whole lotta nothin'!"

And I say that with all due affection, but I was askin' whether we were goin' to go out so I should stay all ready, or whether we were goin' to go up to the inn rooms so I could see how bouncy the beds were and how sticky the ceilings were 'n' how hot 'n' swimmable the baths were 'n' all the important stuff like that, but instead we were just sittin' there at our table watchin' all the other groups plan their moves. But Alembic pointed out that it wasn't all random at all: Each group would meet up, set out, come back in a couple of hours, 'n' then the fighter-types who didn't need to rest would find another group 'n' join up with 'em. It was all very chummy 'n' bizarre at the same time. Alembic, bein' the curious sort, decided to ask Terese 'stead of just makin' stuff up like I would.

So, it turned out that the whole thing was all twisted and logical and sensible and whimsical so everyone from a lawful soldier to a chaotic gnome could appreciate it: You rented a room from Adele (I figure that must've been the name of the guy in front, 'cause I didn't recognize it) or Terese, 'n' they'd keep your stuff safe while you were gone. 'Cept if you didn't come back, your party'd get it. Except that led to murder by party member, so they learned to give the gear to the previous party you'd been with. That way, every group had a vested interest in seein' their own get home, 'n' everyone wanted to travel with someone else every trip in the hopes o' gettin' a jackpot. Chaotic, organized, and interestin'! I liked it! O' course, there were groups like us that were always together, but they tended to be the "elite" and "rich" groups who lived in houses up in the rich area o' town (right against the wall farthest from the provin' grounds) 'n' were gone for weeks at a time, but none o' those sorts ('cept us, apparently) frequented the tavern here. Most o' the groups in the tavern came back every night, 'cause it was too dangerous to camp out in the plains, 'n' socialized 'n' made new groups 'n' headed out again unless they needed rest.

After all that, our group was finally ready to head out 'n' check out the plains, which was kind o' disappointin', 'cause I was lookin' forward to puttin' a dagger or three in Liff, but considerin' what ol' Farbridge had said (the soldier, not Alembic), Liff probably wasn't the real problem so stabbin' him'd accomplish very little 'cept makin' me feel better. But there was that.

Anyhoo, we went out to the square by the gates 'n' Alembic started summonin' some magic horses for us, 'n' I asked for a big white one with a long flowing mane. 'N' all the people 'round us started mockin' him for bein' so high-n-mighty-n-powerful, 'n' I might've joined in a little, 'cept then my horse started lookin' a bit urine-colored 'n' its mane 'n' tail started gettin' shorter so I shut up. A beggar called me over, 'n' I knew Llew didn't like me wanderin' off 'n' gettin' into trouble without tellin' her I was doin' it, so I checked in with her 'n' then talked to the beggar. He was obviously one o' the folk who couldn't do much of anythin' so he was all gaunt 'n' withered like someone who'd been lyin' around livin' off a Ring o' Sustenance for many years without actually exercisin' or anything, so once again I patted my Ring o' Freedom o' Movement fondly, and my belly as well. He didn't notice. He told me that Alembic was too powerful, so I shouldn't trust him. I gave him a gold piece, 'cause I figured it was entertaining information at the least, 'n' the guy didn't seem like a bad sort 'n' could probably use a meal. Then he told me not to trust anyone. I was convinced I'd finally found a good soul down here, so I called Llew over to try to Detect Good on him, but she didn't want to, so instead I gave him another gold piece. I figured either he'd eat like a king for a few days, or he'd be murdered for his money. In the former case, I'd be happy. In the latter, I'd follow my goddess and wreak horrible vengeance. Win-win!

I tried to do a few little pratfalls while gettin' on my horse to loosen up the crowd, but all I got were a couple o' chuckles. Practice, my dear. Practice. We rode on out, 'n' the plains were just as bad as everyone'd said. There were constant battles with skeletons 'n' zombies near the gates, but they were obviously "practice" battles with new adventurers gettin' helped out by more experienced ones 'til they could make it on their own. Just like nobody had horses, nobody had Darkvision, either, so all the groups were carryin' torches around and makin' themselves really obvious to any undead that were around. Nobody looked like they needed or wanted our help, so we moved on.

As we got deeper into the plains, the signs of torchlight got fewer 'n' farther between, 'n' we started hearin' battles in the darkness, meanin' at least some o' the parties had some way o' seein' out there. We heard one o' those giant warsworn thingies moving about, 'n' we knew it was way out of the league of the guys who were here, but it seemed to be goin' slow enough 'n' loud enough that most o' the parties'd be able to avoid it. 'Cept Forth wanted to kill it, 'cause random paladin reasons I didn't understand. Llew agreed, but at least Llew's easy to read: It was a big powerful undead, 'n' we could kill it easily enough without breakin' a sweat, makin' the area safer for the less-experienced adventurers.

We moved closer to it 'n' started buffing and "it" became "them" as a second one came up. About a hundred suits of old armor flew up off the ground 'n' started tryin' to pound Forth silly, but he gets hit harder in the head every morning to get himself out o' bed. So I just kind o' giggled. This was going to be silly. Alembic, bein' a wally kind o' guy, put up a wall o' lava in front o' the farther one. I was impressed! Not only was it somethin' new and cool (in a hot way), but I could see it so I wouldn't run into it! Nice one, Alembic! Llew was waitin' for something sensible to happen, but then Forth made us all Smite-y, includin' me, so that wasn't gonna happen.

Takin' the hint, I flew towards the far one 'til I could see it, smote it (tingly!), then flew back to the closer one, winked out, 'n' hid behind it. I don't know whether it could sense me or not, but it ran off towards Forth 'n' Llew, 'n' I didn't want to give away my position 'cause I wasn't fully defensive yet, so I just let it go. Alembic had his wall barf lava all over the ground. Why? I have no idea. I guess it was intimidatin' or somethin'? Then they decided they were tired o' livin' 'cause one of 'em did the armor-throwin' thing on Llew. Yeah, on Forth it's funny. On Llew it's, "Time to die now."

To add injury to insult, the other one ran around in a crazy circle, catchin up Llew 'n' Forth in its swarmin' parts 'n' knockin' 'em both to the ground.

Eeew. These things were gonna die. Hard. Sure enough, while Alembic was castin' a bunch of invisible stuff 'n' makin' me worry 'bout flyin' around (he even turned himself invisible, the pest!), Llew 'n' Forth killed the first one. 'Cause Llew. I had a chance to look over 'n' see all these flyin' swords chasin' Alembic all over the place. Guess that's why he turned invisible. They weren't more'n minor pests to the rest of us, 'n' I might've had a cut or two from 'em, but they were easy enough to ignore to go after bigger prey. For Alembic, even shaving's a life-or-death ordeal for him, so I figured he was doin' whatever he could to avoid the swords.

Fortunately, Alembic was bein' nice today, so he warned me 'bout the invisible wall 'n' how tall it was, which was helpful 'cause I'd seen the swords bumpin' 'gainst it but I didn't know how high I'd need to fly to get over it. So I went over 'n' smote on the remainin' one 'n' it felt good. Alembic made some more lava spew out o' the wall 'n' I was beginnin' to think that maybe, just maybe, he didn't know what the heck he was doin'. Forth 'n' Llew joined up with me 'n' we made short work o' the other warsworn, but those blades were really desperate to cut up Alembic, so I kind o' forgave him his cowardice… this time. One o' his lava spews even hit the last warsworn before it died, so I was pretty impressed overall.

Since we were all a little cut up, I asked Llew whether I should channel to see whether it attracted the Mother o' Wight's attention 'n' brought her to us right away. She gave me one o' those glares 'n' said, "No."
I started arguin', as is my wont, 'n' she asked me why I'd asked if I was gonna do it anyway. Er… gnome?
'Cept all the warsworn dumped hundreds o' pounds o' armor 'n' weapons on the ground that they could probably use back in the city, so Forth had me roll out my portable hole 'n' we shoveled it all in. At the end of it, Forth just walked up among us 'n' channeled.

It nearly killed me, but I didn't laugh. 'Cause I could see the look on Llew's face, 'n' I'd've died if I'd laughed.

So, our horses'd been wiped out some time durin' the fight, which is kind o' normal, so Alembic made us new ones 'n' we flew on, for hours 'n' hours, 'til we were getting near the end o' the plain. The story was pretty much the same: Sources o' light were rarer 'n' rarer, 'n' fights were bigger 'n' louder, so we were gettin' into "more experienced parties" territory.

Suddenly, Llew's horse disappeared! Just like that! We were ridin' along, then she was just floatin' there in the air like a big vengeful balloon o' violence. We figured we were in for somethin' nasty, so we started buffin' 'n' Llew put up her big, "Don't die from undead field," which was good, 'cause right then half a dozen shadows appeared all around us 'n' started touching us. Kind o' tickled, but not much else, 'cause Llew, but there was somethin' massive movin' off in the distance that'd summoned the shadows (shadows don't just appear. I know that, 'cause I'm one of 'em. Sort of). Alembic Hasted us 'n' Forth channeled. I tried to use my shiny new Thorn on one o' the shadows, but my horse didn't want to listen to me 'cause Alembic'd created it 'n' it probably had some resentment issues. Llew had no such issues 'n' killed two of 'em right out, so they decided that summoned or not they weren't sticking around for that 'n' ran away into the ground.

So o' course somethin' popped all the rest of our horses, 'n' Forth 'n' I fell to the ground. Alembic made us fly 'n' Forth got away from the ground as fast as he could, but I figured someone had to be the bait so I put Death Ward on myself, then flapped up only a few feet 'n' started callin' out for help like a feeble little bird. If they could resist that, they weren't the vicious life-stealin' undead I knew they were. 'Cept it wasn't the shadows that came out o' the ground, it was some giant worm! Its huge maw was bigger'n the house I grew up in, but it miscalculated when it was openin' its mouth so it just kind o' knocked me out o' the way as it rushed past me, 'n' I ended up just lookin' at the side of a giant clumsy angry worm. Worked for me.

Llew called out that it was a night crawler. I started to argue that my daddy was a fisherman and that was NOT, in fact, a night crawler, or else I was REALLY happy that my daddy had killed as many as he had. 'Cept Llew, so I got The Look 'n' shut up 'n' listened as we repositioned ourselves. Like other sucky undead, it sucks the liquid out o' you, 'n' somehow that makes you more susceptible to what other undead want to do to you, like shadows. They're incredibly powerful, have amazing senses use cold, swallow people whole, hit for amounts o' damage that'd make even Forth blanch, 'n' have a poison that'll kill you outright no matter how tough you think you are. We needed good silver weapons to hurt it, which worked for me, since Thorn is mithral 'n' holy 'n' all, but I was worried 'bout Forth and all his adamantine. On top of everythin' else, it can use Finger of Death 'n' Plane Shift to get you alone 'n' then kill you.

No fun at all.

Forth made us all smite again, so I moved up 'n' stabbed it, 'n' the smite took, 'n' it felt good. Even better, what with Shieldy 'n' the dancin' 'n' the smitin' I figured I was near-impossible to hit. Sure enough, it came after me again 'n' missed again, Llew kept buffing, 'n' Forth 'n' I started cutting it up. It didn't like that so it breathed a cone of cold up at us, but I was expectin' it so I danced out o' the way and stabbed it some more. Things were goin' great! Then the shadows all surrounded me, hopin' to distract me. Hah! As if that'd work!

Then it bit me.

Ouch. Ow ow ow ow ow! Holy cow, that HURT! It tried to pull me into its massive maw, but my brand new ring saved my life! Thank goodness for eatin' 'n' sleepin'! It tried to sting me 'n' undulate at me, but my dancin' was enough to keep me from gettin' killed by those. Nasty worm! Forth finished off the worm 'n' I killed one o' the shadows, 'n' without their master 'n' with Llew's aura still goin' they were nothin'. I was expectin' Llew to be mad that she'd missed out on killin' the worm, but she was more'n happy to see it dead 'n' me alive, 'n' that made me all warm 'n' tingly inside.

Unfortunately, after healin' me up Forth was pretty tapped out, as was Llew, 'n' we decided we needed to camp for the night. As the only one who needed sleep, I found a little crevasse, showed the party where I'd be in case they needed me, then disappeared and got myself some well-deserved sleep.

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Session 53, played 08-Sep-2019

I figured Alembic'd figured out everything we needed, but he didn't, so back to Eledir we went for more time at the library. I'd've complained, but the town was startin' to really get lively again, so I could get into all kinds o' trouble without too many people noticin' so Heddy wouldn't have to pardon me or anythin'. We spent another night at the inn, 'n' I had another weird dream, this one 'bout the whole buildin' shakin' like crazy 'n' makin' all the lights swing, so I did what any sensible gnome would do 'n' swung from the lights 'n' climbed the walls 'n' then when nobody cried out 'bout an undead army rushing in I went back to bed 'n' got a little more sleep.

'Cause… prayin'! Errg. WHY did I choose such a STUPID time to pray? Guess it just proves to Calistria that no matter how much I complain, I've gotta be devoted 'cause what other idiot would wake up at that time o' the morning?

Anyhoo, once we were all gathered for breakfast we learned that the earthquakes were happenin' every few days now, which made Eledir seem like a really great place to live, 'cept for the whole tumblin' into the Mother o' Wight's vault 'n' all. Alembic was all worked up 'bout somethin', 'n' once we could talk to him in private he said there was a teleport trap over the whole darned city. Now, I didn't know what the heck a teleport trap was, but I didn't let on so as to let him have the fun of 'splainin' it to me, 'n' we overheard that there was some kind o' eerie spire in the middle o' the merchant district. Duty called!

We went over 'n' I did very little. Alembic hummed and hawed 'n' scratched his head 'n' such, 'n' the spire was about eight feet tall 'n' maybe a couple o' feet across, 'n' they'd roped it off 'cause some poor soul'd been near it when it came up 'n' was now lyin' there dead like a shriveled up little prune, but no one'd had the guts to go get him for fear of whatever shriveled him. Personally, he reminded me of dwarvish breakfasts, so I didn't want to go through that again 'n' I figured someone else'd clean him up 'n' take care of him. I examined the spire 'n' figured it looked more like an "obelisk" than a "spire". It was a sickly green with black veins, 'n' Alembic pointed out that the black veins spelled out some kind o' writin', 'n' Llew pointed out that the veins were black blood 'n' that since the black blood wasn't dissolvin' into unholy water somethin' was wrong here, like maybe the spire was part o' the Mother o' Wight's domain in Orv or somethin'. That would be a mighty long obelisk!

I didn't cast Deathwatch 'cause I didn't want to know, and I didn't cast Comprehend Languages 'cause I didn't want to know. Sometimes I'm a smart girl.

Anyhoo, we couldn't leave the poor soul all shriveled up out there, so Llew started headin' over to get him 'n' I stopped her for a moment to put Death Ward on her with MY NEW WAND, 'n' she went over 'n' dragged him out 'n' said a few words over him, 'cause she's nice that way. Lookin' over his corpse, she said near as she could figure his life essence'd been used to power the teleport trap, which is a pretty rotten way to die, I've got to admit. Alembic said that the runes said somethin' along the lines of, "Gods're odd, but if you're stupid enough to touch this here black-and-green phallic symbol o' death-n-drainin' you'll be GREAT!"
I was thinkin' someone'd scratched out "dead" 'n' written in "great", but Alembic said it didn't look that way. 'N' he said that it wasn't touchin' the obelisk that made you "great", but usin' the teleport trap, but to me it seemed like both things were just a way to get stupid greedy people to die. So I couldn't really knock 'em all that much, 'cept it was the Mother o' Wights 'n' all, 'n' I didn't know 'bout the guy who'd powered the spell. I doubted he'd been stupid or greedy; just unlucky.

Alembic, bein' Alembic, wanted to do more research, but it's not like we can get anywhere without him anyway, 'n' he does lots o' useful stuff like make sure we don't have to breathe the air down there, 'n' now that my Ring o' Sustenance was gone I was havin' to eat 'n' use the bathroom 'n' such 'n' it was takin' some gettin' used to. So I figured we'd humor him, 'specially since he wanted to go see King Heddy's mages, 'n' I wanted to see how Heddy was doin' with all the earthquakes 'n' such.

This time they showed us right in, 'cause I think somethin' bad'd happened to the guard who hadn't recognized us, 'n' Alembic went right over to the mages. They asked what they could do for us, so I asked for a couple o' scrolls o' Antimagic Field, but apparently that's another thing that gnomes can't have (as if they don't have a single Necklace o' Fireballs in this whole gosh-darned infernal town), so they said they didn't have any. Alembic whispered that if I'd shut up 'n' be good he'd get 'em for me, 'n' I pondered it for a minute, 'n' decided bein' annoying later was better'n being annoying now. But not by much.
The mages'd been studyin' the spire/obelisk/phallus from afar, 'n' said it looked like it operated on the same principle as the Emerald Spire, 'n' THAT was somethin' they had a lot' o' literature on. It was another result of another wizard tryin' to make another domain of Orv, but failin' pretty catastrophically 'n' creatin' the tower, which stretched all the way from the surface down to Orv. This thing looked similar, 'cept it looked intentional instead of accidental. 'N' they mentioned that the teleport trap was already catchin' merchants on their way in to Eledir; there was a whole line o' people waitin' to talk to King Heddy 'bout their missin' friends.

Alembic came up with a plan for us, 'cause he seemed to know the most 'bout what was goin' on, which was a first, but I figured he needed to win occasionally. He could dispel the teleport trap, but it'd only last around 20 minutes 'n' then come back again, so he'd dispel it, we'd teleport down to where we'd been before, he'd cast a spell to locate one o' the missin' merchants, 'n' that'd lead us to the Mother o' Wight's domain without us havin' to set off the trap. Trouble was, he'd need a belonging o' one o' the missing merchants. So he assigned me to find one! Yay! A mission!

I went to the line o' people waitin' to talk to King Heddy 'n' tried to get one of 'em to give me the name of a missing local merchant, but for some reason they didn't trust a wild-haired gnome askin' crazy questions. Llew suggested that maybe Alex 'n' Marilyn could help me, so I tracked 'em down 'n' sure 'nough, with a bit of walkin' 'round 'n' talkin' to people we got a couple o' names. So, bein' in a hurry 'n' not wantin' to bother with knockin' on doors 'n' dealin' with gnome-mistrustin' servants 'n' such, I ran straight over to Jocelyn's… and ran into the rest of the party! Fancy meeting them here! I didn't even think Forth was willin' to go near a temple o' Asmodeus, much less ask one for help. My favorite Hellknight was there, 'n' he told me that he was gettin' used to me so I wasn't annoyin' him any more, 'n' I told him that was insultin', 'n' he promised that my very existence annoyed him which was right cordial of him, since bein' lawful 'n' all he had to be tellin' the truth, so I was happy, he was Lawfully annoyed, 'n' we walked in.

'Cept I was in a hurry, so I just blurted out that I wanted a couple o' indulgences 'n' Llew rolled her eyes 'n' Alembic looked worried 'n' Forth pretended he hadn't heard me, 'n' they made me wait with everyone else, which was kind o' nice 'cause I kind o' missed them.
A couple o' high-up muckety muck Asmodeans came stormin' out of Jocelyn's office, 'n' they looked like they were in a hurry so I gave 'em a formal greetin' 'n' all, 'n' they had to stop 'n' greet me back 'n' I could tell it made 'em really mad. I really enjoy temples o' Asmodeus.
Once Jocelyn showed up I asked her for permission to steal underwear from a couple o' houses 'n' Alembic insisted that it didn't have to be underwear 'n' combs or such would be OK, but you can never be sure it's actually somebody's unless it's clearly been used by them, right? Alembic paled a little bit 'n' Jocelyn smiled 'n' offered the indulgences for free, but she's still an Asmodean so I can't trust her so I paid her a gold piece. I'm sure Llew was proud o' my underwear-stealin' self.

I'd love to say why Llew 'n' Forth 'n' Alembic were visitin' Jocelyn in the first place, but I forgot to ask.

I'd also love to say that stealin' underwear from rich merchants was excitin' 'n' dangerous 'n' involved a real test o' my skills. As it was, I pretty much wasted the gold piece. Nothin' but a few Alarm spells, some 'spensive door locks, and not even a lock on their laundry hampers. I got the smelliest laundry I could find, 'cause I figured that'd be best for Alembic, then wrapped it up all nice-like so he'd appreciate the thought. By the time I found the party, they were at the main square waitin' for me.

It turned out that there were spires like this in every town in Isger. That was bad. But Alembic'd dispelled the teleport trap on this one 'n' it'd stayed dispelled. That was good. But there were teleport traps on every other city in the country. That was bad. But Llew was worried 'cause Jocelyn had told her that the amount o' power needed to do that was nearly godlike, so she decided to create lunch for us. That was good. On our way over, I gave Alembic the underwear. He did not seem pleased. That was good. But as Llew was summonin' lunch Alembic was castin' his find person spell on the underwear, 'n' at the very same moment he asked, "How can he be right here in the town square?" 'n' we heard screams from the town square, interruptin' lunch. That was bad.

Not wantin' to risk more people gettin' hurt, Alembic Dimension Doored us over. There, standin' right next to the obelisk, was our missin' dwarf merchant. 'Cept his scalp'd been peeled back 'n' something'd been done to his brains, his eyes'd been replaced by jewels, his teeth by rocks, 'n' he was killin' everyone within reach. That was bad. The people on the ground around him'd been torn apart, as if by some horrific force, 'n' he was goin' on 'bout how great he was, 'n' on seein' us he decided he was gonna kill the Heros of Eledir to make a name for himself. We would've killed him anyway, but at this made it Lawful. At least I think so.
So, he didn't look so alive any more so I went ahead 'n' put Death Ward on Forth 'cause wand, 'n' Forth did somethin' that filled me with the power o' goodness (which was just fine) 'n' Torag (which was awkward, to say the least), told me to go ahead 'n' smite the guy (whatever you say, Forth), 'n' then ran in and swang at the guy 'n' missed. 'N' I figured it was probably 'cause his god was a bit confused at him tellin' a gnome to go 'round smitin' evil in Torag's name. Since the guy was comin' our way anyway, Llew spent a bit o' time gettin' herself buffed up for some undead whoopin' 'n' she Smote Evil on the guy! So we could ALL do it! What fun! Alembic Smote the guy 'n' sped us all up, I put Death Ward on Llew 'cause wand, 'n' the guy swung at Forth a bunch o' times 'n' was almost as bad at hittin' Forth as Forth was at hittin' him. I mean, he hit Forth a couple o' times, but if Forth doesn't bleed a bit, it's not a real fight.

Llew was done with Forth's nonsense, walked up, 'n' hit the guy once with a blow that nearly chopped him in half! Even all of us were kind o' surprised, but he was an undead abomination runnin' around in her town, killin' her townsfolk, so I figured she was pretty pissed. Forth hit him a couple o' times, but it wasn't a heck of a lot compared to what Llew'd done. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I Smote the guy 'n' ran up 'n' stabbed at him. And it HIT! And it stuck into him really deep! I gotta get Forth to do this Smite thing more often! I don't think I've ever stabbed anything that hard! The guy wasn't stupid, so he tried to take out Llew. Might as well've tried to take out the moon. She bled a little, spat a gobbet on the ground, 'n' said, "Is that the best you can do?", then finished him off in a gruesome, oh-my-goodness-he-won't-be-comin'-back-any-time-soon manner. I started goin' through my Handy Haversack, askin' Llew what we needed to kill him permanent-like, but Llew said he was a "deific guardian", 'n' other than bein' tough as nails wasn't much of anythin' else. 'N' bein' tough apparently isn't all that useful when three people're smiting you.

Trouble was, the damage'd been done. He'd channeled a bunch o' negative energy 'n' killed a bunch o' townsfolk, 'n' Forth tried to channel to heal some of 'em but those as had been caught in the blast were all beyond his help. As Llew 'n' Forth healed up, Alembic identified his weapon for us (a gold and silver Unholy batleaxe. Yuck!), 'n' I looked him over for more valuables 'n' noticed that his clothes were kind o' worn. Like, really worn. I called Llew over 'n' she estimated he'd been in those same clothes for 10-12 years now.

Thinkin' back 'bout my time in Phil's craftin' dimension, I started gettin' worried. Really, really worried. 'Cause if the Mother o' Wights was havin' that kind o' time, it meant we didn't have any to lose. It took everyone else a few more seconds to think o' the same thing I did, 'cause they probably hadn't had three or four marriages and/or divorces in the course of a few months in a pocket crafting dimension, but they got the idea.
The other idea was even more sickening: There was one o' these bad guys in every town in Isger right now, 'n' every town had a teleport trap on it, so help wasn't comin'. Those towns and villages had to fend for themselves, which for the most part meant fleein' for the hills 'cause they couldn't fight back.

A cold, hard anger started burnin' inside o' me. What the Mother of Wights had done was beyond evil. It was cruel, and destructive, 'n' tearin' families apart. I decided right then 'n' there that I'd be visitin' the temple library some time soon to find out the most powerful vengeance azata there was (if there was such a thing) and have a looooong talk with one 'bout what the Mother of Wights was doin'. Until then, I'd work on killin' her myself.

We got our stuff, told Alex and Marilyn to enjoy the feast Llew'd summoned ('n' neither Llew nor I were happy 'bout that), 'n' Alembic teleported us to the gate to Happy Funland, or whatever it was I named it before. I was too mad to remember. 'N' Llew cast some spell to find out how to get to the Mother o' Wights' lair. 'N' got the response, "You can't get there from here."

Crap. We had to go straight into the trap.

We buffed up as best as we could, an' I even used a wand o' Invisibility on myself just in case. As we were buffin' up, Alembic handed me the scrolls o' Antimagic Field 'n' Plane Shift I'd wanted, 'cause I guess sellin' powerful scrolls to hunchbacked sorcerers isn't as bad as sellin' 'em to gnomes. But I'll 'fess up, it was really sweet of him, and I started thinkin' I should stop givin' him such a hard time. 'Cept I'll probably forget 'cause gnome brain. But at least I'd be nice to him for the next few minutes. Hey. What'd he just cast? What was I sayin'?

Anyhoo, once we were as ready as we'd ever be (minus lunch, which was still sittin' there coolin' 'n' bein' enjoyed by Alex, Marilyn, 'n' a bunch o' their friends), Alembic went ahead 'n' tried to teleport us to Logas, 'n' told us we'd feel a pull in the "wrong" direction 'n' we should just go with it 'n' allow it to happen. I kept my mouth shut 'bout how I'd heard very similar instructions in the temple o' Calistria on more'n one occasion, 'n' figured it'd probably be different. It was. We appeared right next to the bottom of a spire in the square of a torchlit city. Llew whispered it looked like the city was 10-20 years old, but there was no fight to be seen; just a dark city lit by torches. Before we could so much as get our bearings, a human-lookin' guy dressed in beggar-lookin' rags called us "new recruits" 'n' said we should pick up a bag 'n' head over to the "barracks" for "orientation".

And that was all kinds o' worrisome. Who spends millions o' gold pieces buildin' teleport traps to a plain ol' ordinary underground town? I mean, there were people walkin' in the streets, beggars, shopkeeps; if it weren't for the pitch black sky you'd think we were in any ol' town in Golarion. We could see humans, o' course, but also elves, dwarves, gnomes, 'n' even half-orcs, but no dark elves nor dark dwarves. Maybe they were in disguise? Or maybe they didn't teleport around the underground willy-nilly like we do topside?
I kept floatin' around like an invisible silent balloon, figurin' that with Forth around things were likely to go to pot any time now, but the conversation just kept right on goin'. The beggar said we could do anythin' here we could do topside, 'cept the pay was better down here. The bags he was pointin' at turned out to be just ordinary adventurer's kits; the kind you pick up when you're first headin' out into the world. Plus medium-sized leather armor 'n' simple weapons. Seemed like enough to make some fool feel brave enough to go out and get killed. Maybe that was the Mother o' Wight's plan? Attract thousands o' idiots 'n' have 'em all wander off 'n' get themselves killed to feed her undead army? Seemed awfully elaborate.

We learned that the dark elves 'n' dark dwarves each have their own towns, 'cause I guess they're special or somethin', 'n' Llew said she heard the sounds o' battle over the walls; as far as she could tell people were fightin' those giant undead war machines we'd evaded. Sometimes her ears scare me, 'specially when it comes to hearin' undead. Forth stared at the beggar real hard 'n' reported he was evil, which didn't surprise us much, 'n' he didn't deny it nor get uppity, which didn't surprise us, either. Seemed like everything underground was evil 'n' didn't care if you knew 'bout it. Kind o' like carrots.

Llew muttered so low only we could hear her that she wanted to purge everythin' in this town. Alembic was examinin' everythin' 'n' pointed out two important facts: Every backpack had a Ring o' Sustenance in it 'n' just enough food to survive 'til it started workin', 'n' the whole town was engulfed in an Unhallow effect that also had the effect o' castin' Remove Fear on everyone. So, everyone in town's happy because no one's afraid o' dyin'?
Stranger and stranger.

We decided not to kill the beggar ('n' when I say, "We," I really mean, "Forth 'n' Llew," 'cause with all their rules 'bout what to kill 'n' what not to, I never really worry 'bout it. They've never tried to make me let a slaver or a rapist stay alive, nor kill someone I thought was innocent o' any wrongdoin', so as far as I figured they were doin' right by me 'n' they could tell me who to stab. 'N' with Forth, it was always a surprisin' mystery who he'd talk to 'n' who he'd stab, so he was always all kinds o' fun to follow around), so we headed over to the barracks for orientation. There were about half a dozen other people there as well, 'n' our two camp counselors orienters were named Wes 'n' Liff. Wes looked human enough, but Liff just kind o' sat in a corner, starin' at everyone 'n' takin' notes.

Orientation was pretty weird. Wes said that our job was to go kill the Mother o' Wights, which was kind o' what we were plannin' on anyway, but he went ahead 'n' showed us a map o' what they knew 'bout the region. There were the dark dwarf 'n' dark elf camps alongside ours, all as a sort o' startin' point. Then there were Plains o' Peril or whatnot where you had to fight your way across some open plains for a week. Then an area where a bunch o' necromancers tried to kill you 'n' you had to fight your way through. Then some divine guardians. Then a sea of acid or poison or some other nastiness (black blood?) you had to get across. Then the Mother o' Wights herself, on a place not-so-cleverly called Wight Island. Reminded us a lot o' the tower we'd had to go up that'd been designed to generate powerful evil people through a gauntlet o' death, except on a much larger scale.

And we had to go through it.

The weird part was, in the tower, you had to go up or starve to death. In town, you had rings o' sustenance so it didn't much matter how long you stayed in town, 'n' Wes emphasized that they needed artisans 'n' crafters 'n' innkeeps 'n' merchants 'n' the like to keep the town goin', so if you had some skill and you didn't want to fight, you didn't have to. In fact, with a free ring, if all you wanted to do was lie around in the gutters all day, you could. Explainin' the beggars, who now seemed like they were makin' better life choices than most.

The charts were kind o' fun, too. The dark elves were in the Hopeless Haunt. The dark dwarves were in the Mountains o' Despair. The Plains o' Peril were actually called the Provin' Grounds, which I think didn't sound as good. I would've changed it, but even though I didn't think Liff could see me, his creepy demeanor told me that vandalism would probably end us up in a fight.

Anyhoo, vandalism aside, Wes did all the talkin', Liff did all the watchin', 'n' Wes mentioned that every year or so the whole place grew, like a giant wart on a witch's nose, 'n' there were a lot o' quakes 'n' uproar 'n' whatnot, 'n' the next one was do in about 6 months. This didn't correspond with the "real" world all that well, 'cause the quakes were only once every few days, not once every hour, but maybe every so often the Mother o' Wights did a big one that made Eledir shake. Even though the Mother o' Wights set the whole thing up, she didn't seem to be really involved in the day-to-day runnin' of anythin', so the people were left to fend for themselves, 'n' they didn't have a government or anythin' 'n' just did what they felt like, 'n' they felt like killin' the Mother o' Wights. Seemed reasonable to me. 'Cept just to go across the plains they needed parties o' 30-40 people, 'cause that's how tough the monsters were. Lookin' over the other new recruits, I figured we'd be able to make do with less.

Llew started askin' pointed questions, such as where was Wes from anyway? Wes said he was from Logas Below, but he didn't look like a dark dwarf or dark elf. Also, nowadays only around 1/3 of the people who arrived were there by accident; the other 2/3 were adventurin' parties lookin' to grow more powerful 'n' richer by jumpin' into the trap. Kind o' like us, but less focused on endin' all this nonsense. People who came seekin' power usually did pretty well, but those tryin' to do good were always thwarted. Well, there's a first for everythin'. Movin' around was a pain; the whole place was one big teleport trap, which was awfully convenient if you wanted to get to the town, but not so much anywhere else. Flyin' wasn't much of an option if you went over 100' high 'cause there were huge winged things that killed anyone or anythin' flyin' that high. 'N' no one knew what was up there, but everyone agreed they were way more powerful'n anythin' on the ground, but they didn't bother you as long as you didn't fly too high. The town itself was pretty much what we'd seen: There were inns, stores, houses, 'n' so forth, 'n' if we wanted to settle down we could probably find a house that'd been left behind when the previous owner'd failed to return from a trip to the plains.

Llew started gettin' interested in Liff, so I snuck up with her as she looked at what he was writin' down. He had Llew, Forth, an' Alembic's real names 'n' classes, 'n' he even suspected there was a gnome really good at hidin' somewhere in the room. Snoopy guy!

Once we were out of hearin' of those in the orientation (at least we hoped), Llew said that Wes seemed mercenary, but honest, even though he was probably evil. Just like everything else underground. I was beginnin' to understand the dwarves' flight from the underworld more 'n' more. Seemed like an awfully nasty place, all in all. I decided I didn't want to stand out so I changed my armor to look like rags, but everyone else kind o' smirked at it so I guess it wasn't that good of a disguise, but I couldn't figure out why it wasn't so I let it go. Llew asked me how I was at findin' underground contacts, an' I had to admit I was probably pretty crappy at it; usually I just wandered around towns, playin' with kids 'n' dogs, shopping, chattin' people up, 'n' tellin' 'em what I was lookin' for 'n' they'd point me the right way, but if I actually wanted to find shady people I figured I'd have to start in a shady bar, 'n' I didn't know where any o' those were, 'n' you can't exactly walk up to a shopkeep 'n' say, "Excuse me, sir, can you tell me where the shadiest bar in town, with possible connections to the criminal underground is?"
Shopkeeps don't answer questions like that, even if they know the answers.

We went back to talk to the beggar at the spire 'n' asked him about an inn for adventurers, 'n' he recommended one, so Llew asked him about Liff. He told us that Liff was creepy, 'n' shakin' his hand'd make you feel all creepy. Rumor had it that he killed people on the sly, watchin' those who came in to town, markin' 'em in his book, 'n' killin' the ones he deemed rich or interestin' enough to kill, then takin' their gear. Seemed like a nice way to spend the night settin' up an ambush for him, so I suggested it. The rest o' the party said they'd take it under consideration. Llew gave him a gold piece for his trouble. I did, too, 'cause I liked the information about Liff.

Next was the tavern. It had a new-ish sign with an image of a hole in the ground painted all black, so we went in 'n' I called out, "Hi," to everyone to try to get some criminal masterminds to say, "Hi," back, but they didn't. Sorry, Llew! One group even started arguin' 'bout whether I was a gnome or a tiefling, which pretty much told me everythin' I needed to know 'bout how many gnomes I'd find down here. Llew looked around 'n' said that if I wanted to talk anyone up to try to get some leads, I should try either the bartender, a group o' surly-lookin' soldier types in a dark corner, or a group o' rowdy barbarians gettin' roarin' drunk 'n' throwin' axes at some poor tied-up guy. They looked like fun!

I ran over to 'em and jumped up and down and told the guy who was throwin' to throw ME! He didn't understand for a moment, but he caught on really quickly (as barbarians do when it comes to throwin' things) 'n' picked me up 'n' hurled me… straight up into the rafters! Guess he was drunker'n he thought! I figured I'd go with the gag 'n' winked out. They started lookin' 'round, tryin' to figure out where I'd gone, while I snuck over to where Alembic was talkin' to the soldier types. On the way I noticed Llew talkin' to the bartender, but I figured she wouldn't be nearly as entertainin' as Alembic tryin' to be charmin'. Sure enough, Alembic was just offerin' the guy a drink 'n' the guy said he didn't drink anythin' but water, 'n' I could make water today! Not THAT kind! So I filled up his cup 'n' he looked at me askance, but he thanked me anyway 'n' drank the water, which meant he hadn't met many gnomes 'n' was way too trustin' of us. I hadn't even thought to poison him!

Anyhoo, soldier guy was buildin' his own army to defeat the Mother o' Wights, 'n' his "only" rule was that he'd be the one to kill her, 'cept army, general, and all that nonsense means all kinds o' rules I wouldn't be able to follow anyway. Alembic asked him where he was from, 'n' he said he was a Farbridge from Logas, meanin' him 'n' Alembic were related, which made me even sorrier I hadn't put anythin' in his drink. I let slip that we were the ones who'd taken down the Jeggares just as Llew 'n' Forth arrived, 'n' Llew didn't yell at me so I figured I hadn't messed up for once. Since they were all talkin' nonsense with Mr. Lawful Soldier, I popped back up into the rafters, fell down among the barbarians, 'n' scolded the guy who threw me for throwin' me too high. It took 'em all a minute to get the joke, 'cause barbarians, but after a few moments they all started laughin' 'n' I figured I'd made a few new friends. Or at least non-enemies, which is always useful in parts like this.

I got back to our table 'n' Soldier Guy was tellin' us 'bout the town. Even though there was no government, it was so organized it seemed to be bein' run by devils. Everyone was doin' what was expected of them, and those that didn't disappeared at night. He thought Liff was behind all the disappearances, too, but he figured Liff was the wrong guy to move against; someone more powerful 'n' smarter was probably pullin' Liff's strings just to make him the obvious target. Wheels within wheels. I wanted to learn more 'bout the devils 'n' whether we'd be able to find the Asmodeans who'd accidentally teleported down before us (on their way to Jocelyn's), so I made some secret gestures at Elden (soldier guy turned out to have a name! Who knew?), but he didn't know what I was up to. The bartender did 'n' called me over, 'n' he said there's a temple of Asmodeus right in town 'n' they're not hidden at all; they just call themselves the "underground temple" 'cause they're underground (and Asmodean. Stupid Lawfuls). He gave me directions, but told me if I visited 'em I'd have to speak clearly, 'n' be forthright 'n' honest with 'em. I couldn't agree to that.

He asked us whether we'd want a room, 'n' Forth said we would 'n' paid 10 platinum pieces for it 'cause dwarves don't understand money or somethin', 'n' he sent us on back, 'cept we ended up in a Silenced hallway, 'n' out the other side was another tavern. 'Cept this one was for adventurin' parties, 'n' there were groups o' adventurers at all but a few o' the tables, 'n' they all welcomed us cheerily 'n' the barkeeps name on this side was Terese an' I liked her a lot more than the other guy. We got pointed to a table 'n' someone mentioned it was unlucky so I rubbed some o' Calistria's luck on it, 'cause it's what I do, 'n' we started plannin'. The other groups were more than willin' to share their information with us, which I thought was right neighborly of 'em, 'n' they told us we could just fight our way 'cross the plains 'n' the area o' the necromancers, but we'd want to use stealth to get past the divine guards. After that, no one'd figured out how to get past the vile sea… yet. But across the sea is a huge spire, and on top o' the spire is the grim reaper himself.

We all looked over at Llew, 'n' she said yeah, she knew what it was, 'n' it was really nasty, but we could probably kill it.

I felt better.

Until she started offerin' up information 'bout undead in exchange for information 'bout the terrain, 'n' the other groups eagerly started lookin' through her book to see how to kill some o' the things they'd encountered. 'N' they talked about the sky things.

'N' Llew recognized 'em. 'N' said they destroy entire worlds.

Then I felt worse.

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Session 52, played 01-Sep-2019

We spent a little time punchin' the Mother o' Wights in the face (at least I did), but since it was an illusion 'n' my hand passed right through it I got pretty bored pretty quick, so I asked Llew 'n' Forth what we were going to do. Forth wanted to talk to the dwarves again, 'cause Forth likes talkin' to everybody, even if they're beatin' on him, so we talked for a minute 'n' agreed on the kinds o' things I might say (or not say), 'n' I pulled out my other scroll o' Sending 'n' tried to cast it. 'Cept I was still all covered with grease, 'n' grease 'n' scrolls don't mix all that well so I ended up flappin' my arms 'round 'n' chantin' 'n' such for no reason 'cause it didn't work. But the scroll didn't explode, so that was a plus. I tried wipin' off my hands on the plants, but that didn't work, so finally Alembic had to Prestidigitate my hands clean enough to do all the weird gestures 'n' such, 'n' then the scroll finally worked.

After TWENTY MINUTES of work!!!

Stupid scrolls!

So, I asked the guy how he was doing on his end, 'n' told him that the plants were dead, 'n[' that we wanted to meet, 'n' when could we meet, 'n' where could we meet, but I managed to get it into 25 words or less, which I think I just failed on this time 'round. But he was just like Forth 'n' didn't want to tell me anythin' useful so all he told me was that things were "good" 'n' he wanted to meet "soon" at the same place we'd met him before. 'Cause soon must be some kind o' dwarven technical term or somethin',

Anyhoo, we weren't doin' anything important, so Alembic teleported us back to the spot behind the tent, 'n' it took a little while but the dwarf finally showed up with two merchant types. I knew they were gonna be friendly so I rubbed my hand all over my chest while they weren't lookin' then offered one a shake! Squip! My tiny hand popped right out of his! It was hilarious! At least to me. I don't think anyone else appreciated the finer aspects of the humor, so they all just kind of ignored it. But I enjoyed it.
So, the main dwarf started talkin', 'n' it was no wonder Forth liked him so much 'cause he liked to talk almost as much as Forth did, but it was pretty much, "The plant people are all shut down. You're still wanted criminals for murderin' a bunch o' us, so don't go to town until I get that bit sorted out for you. These here are a weaponsmith 'n' an armorsmith to make you somethin' nice as a reward for savin' us all."
But he used a lot more words. And they were dwarven merchants, so they had dwarf-sized stuff, which meant they probably wouldn't be able to do much for me.

So I asked 'em about makin' my dagger Holy. Nope! How 'bout some kind o' Daylight spell on it? Nope! So yeah, I was sittin' there feelin' pretty ripped off, 'cept the main dwarf said that if they didn't have anythin' I wanted he'd give me a little bag o' black diamonds, which were like regular diamonds 'cept they sparkled in darkness 'stead of light. Llew was instantly in luuuurv. So I took a bag o' those, 'n' figured they'd be worth somethin' on the surface since they were probably hard to come by up there. He was also an "information broker" 'n' figured he'd give us some information that was worth somethin'. As if he didn't need us to run off 'n' kill the Mother o' Wights or anythin'.

So, it turned out the Mother o' Wights is still diggin' down down down to reach the "Land of Black Blood" in Orv. Which, considerin' how literal everyone seemed to be in the Darklands, was probably some place full o' black blood. 'N' it was. Figures. Anyhoo, he did tell us a lot o' useful information. "Orv" is apparently just a bunch o' separate chambers deep underground, each one so big that it's like its own world. I seem to recall hearin' that some of 'em even have little miniature suns 'n' such. 'Cept I doubted a place called the "Land o' Black Blood" would have one, 'cause black. Each world'd been created by some guy named "The Vaultkeeper", which I figured was some god or other I'd never heard of, which wasn't that uncommon, seein' as how the Asmodeans didn't educate me all that well at all. You'd've thunk they could've figured out a way to get me to pay better attention, but they were too lazy.

Anyhoo, each land o' Orv is like its own separate plane, 'cept it's on our plane. The dwarves'd explored a few 'n' he rattled off a lot of 'em 'cause he was tryin' to impress Forth (or maybe it was a she 'n' it was some kind o' matin' yammerin' ritual), but I heard somethin' 'bout a Black Desert, a Midnight Mountain, 'n' a bunch o' other stuff that all just meant "place too dark to see in". They'd been to the Land o' Black Blood, but they considered it suicide: The blood was like distilled necromantic energy, 'n' would kill you if you so much as looked at it funny. Abraxus the demon lord ruled over it or guarded it or somethin', 'n' he's a keeper o' secrets, includin' a ritual to wipe out all magic in the world. Which seems like kind of a jerk thing to do, but he hadn't done it yet. So, the Mother o' Wights needs black blood, 'n' she's goin' there to get it. The land's been taken over thousands o' times over the aeons, 'cause o' course give someone somethin' that'll kill a bunch of other people 'n' they'll go nuts killin' each other to get their hands on it. But no one's ever managed to hold the land, so there's that. Probably 'cause there IS A DEMON LORD IN YOUR LAKE!!!

Our dwarf finished his loooooong tale by tellin' us that the dark elves had a footfold in the lake, 'n' he could direct us to them, even though he didn't like 'em. I figured I got along with 'em just fine last time we'd met, 'cause I'm a fellow fae 'n' I'm clueless 'n' not as edible as I look, and that usually satisfies most fae to sit around 'n' talk a bit. Either kill you 'n' eat you 'n' swallow your soul 'n' dessicate your body 'n' use it for decorations, or sit around 'n' have some tea.

We're easy.

After givin' us directions to the elves, our dwarf friend went on ('cause she really had the hots for Forth) that the Mother o' Wights was diggin' a HUGE chamber under Eledir, which kind o' implied she was makin' her own land or somethin'. Stealin' the lake? Tryin' to attain godhood? Who knew? We finally thanked the dwarf 'n' got out o' there 'n' teleported to town. Shopping!

And hoo, what a shoppin' trip it was! The black diamonds turned out to be worth a LOT more than any of us'd figured, so we started gettin' to work on stockin' up on all the highest-end gear we could get. I replaced all my scrolls 'n' alchemicals, then got a ring o' not bein' grabbed, since it seemed like we were stayin' in an inn or a mansion every night anyway, so I didn't really need to not eat or sleep, 'n' I was getting sick o' not eatin' 'cause it's BORING! Besides, now that I can make my own water (not THAT kind o' water), I don't even have to carry much to be able to feed myself. So I got the ring, then I got a wand o' not dyin' o' negative energy 'cause that's bad, 'n' then I swapped out my dagger for one that was holy to boot, 'cause I figured that'd help. I even got one that'll hit ghosts just as well as regular critters, just because. 'N' I named it Thorn, 'cause I'll never forget the freaky little guy. I swung by the temple 'n' got myself a couple o' scrolls o' Consecrate, mainly for laughs 'cause I figured it'd tick off both the Mother o' Wights AND Urgathoa, so that's a win-win. I also got myself a magic bow, just 'cause I had some extra money, 'n' I decided to keep the rest in case anyone else needed some money, 'cause I was feelin' flush.

While I was gettin' my stuff, Alembic went to the library 'cause he's unloved (well, *he* said he was gonna do "research"), 'n' Llew took pity on him 'n' went with him, 'n' Forth went over to the temple o' Torag to ask them. 'N' of course FORTH had to learn everythin', so I went ahead 'n' got pretty tipsy 'n' ordered an orc-sized meal (which wasn't bad -- orcs don't have as bad taste as you'd think, 'parently) 'n' sat there pickin' at it as Forth rambled on.
First things first, black blood is powerful. You can just pick up a handful o' the stuff 'n' if you're a necromancer it makes all your spells much more powerful. So it's popular stuff among the undead crowd. Go figure. Needless to say, usin' it twists you somehow, but I doubt the Mother o' Wights was all that concerned 'bout that part of it. Abraxis gets peeved if you do too much there, so you gotta move quiet-like unless you want to get killed by a demon lord. So, I'm the quietest person I know, but even *I* wouldn't take that bet, so I'm guessin' the Mother o' Wights was either hopin' to charm him or make a deal with him or be really sneaky 'n' quiet.

Turns out Alembic wasn't as useless as I thought, or Llew just figured it all out 'n' decided to tell it all to him so he'd sound smart. He's a handy guy to have around, Llew, but he doesn't deserve your pity knowlege. Anyhoo, "Alembic" started tellin' us 'bout Orv: It takes a lot o' magic to make a new realm; even more than it takes to make an artifact. So usually creatin' a new one involves hundreds 'n' hundreds o' people, not just one crazy undead witch 'n' her passel o' skeletonized courtiers. So she didn't seem to have the "firepower" to make a new realm on her own. Maybe the moanin' diamond 'n' the black blood together'd be enough, but it was doubtful.

Llew wanted to learn more 'bout black blood, so she went over to HER temple (I didn't go to the temple o' Calistria, 'cause I was busy shoppin' 'n' listenin' to other people's stories 'n' I knew MY priestess would think black blood was some kind o' newfangled puddin' cooked up by the Asmodean chefs in town). So SHE learned that undead 'n' aberrations are immune to the effects o' black blood, 'cause it makes sense, 'n' the stuff is unbelievably cold, so we'd need Alembic to protect us from that. (See? He can be useful! As long as he's not pretendin' he has friends other'n us or anythin'.)
Llew's priest is pretty useful 'cause he always comes up with the funny 'n' stupid stuff people do when they encounter somethin' unbelievably powerful 'n' evil. Yes, it has a source, 'cause we had to know that, 'n' that's the walls o' the cavern itself. Yes, if you drink it it's "bad". You either become a powerful necromancer or you die. Lose-lose. If you take black blood out o' the cavern it degrades into unholy water, which meant the Mother o' Wights'd have to preserve it somehow, most likely by castin' Gentle Repose on it. Critters that touch it accidentally become stupider, angrier, 'n' more beastly, 'n' their claws get ice cold 'n' they can breath black blood. Which is just kind o' scary. What if you have your mouth open when they breathe on you? Either you're a necromancer or you're dead! Sucks to be you!

Oh, yeah, and it makes undead more powerful. Big surprise.

We spent the night at the inn. I'd like to say it was a normal night, but it wasn't. I was goin' to bed thinkin' 'bout the black diamonds, 'n' how they were s'posed to sparkle in the dark, but how I could only see it when Alembic cast his spell on me, when I woke up in Calistria's bedroom again. I was kind o' gettin' used to it, 'cept this time she had purple elves with her instead o' regular elves. Now, I'm not usually a color-prejudice girl, but those purple guys were hot. 'N' Calistria smiled at me 'n' told me she'd heard that I was goin' to see Abraxis, 'n' that was all dangerous 'n' whatnot 'n' I'd need to be prepared, 'n' she 'n' her brood were gonna do just that.

So, I don't blush easy, but talkin' 'bout what came next isn't comin' outta me. But at the end of it, when I woke up in the morning it was still before dawn ('cause stupid prayin'), yet I could see perfectly! I had Darkvision! And as I thought about that, I realized that I could speak Abyssal!

As far as I could tell, that at least meant I'd be able to see Abraxis 'n' beg him for my life when he ate me. Thanks, Calistria?

Once I'd prayed 'n' we'd had breakfast, we teleported back to the dwarves underground to get some gear Forth'd ordered, since he was the right size 'n' all, 'n' they gave us a map to the Land o' Black Blood, which I'm gonna start calling Abraxusville 'cause it's catchier. Or maybe Cheery Honeyville, 'cause that'd be funny.

Speakin' of our soon-to-be-not-so-good-buddy Abraxis. Abraxus. A brachia. Abram. That guy. He was the demon lord o' forbidden lore 'n' magic, 'cause everybody's got to have a hobby, 'n' apparently drow, sorcerers, 'n' spirit naga worship him. I asked what drow were, 'n' it turns out the purple elves have their own name 'n' everythin'. I should color myself blue 'n' call myself a "red". He's one o' the oldest demons o' the Abyss, which is pretty funny since he isn't even THERE, but he supervised the aboleths when they called the big rock that came down 'n' hit 'n' made Earthfall. So I kind of owed him for that one, 'cause that one really messed up the fae more than most people realize, but I figured I probably wasn't goin' to be doin' any demon lord slayin' any time soon. He can strip artifacts or creatures of all their magic, or even wipe the knowledge o' spells off the face of Golarion. Nasty guy indeed.

Bein' dumb, we teleported to the spot on the map the dwarves pointed us to. In other words, his front door. I decided I'd show off 'n' cast Detect Magic on the door, 'cause everyone keeps forgettin' that I'm a cleric o' Calistria 'n' all, but you could've knocked me over with a feather when the door really was magic. Then I had to go through the embarrassment o' asking Alembic to tell me what it was, 'cause I never learned any o' that stuff 'cause my priestess isn't exactly the scholarly type, 'n' he said it was an Alarm spell. That made it even more embarrassin', 'cause I could've just walked up to it 'n' sniffed at it 'n' figured that out. Since we were supposedly goin' in to see the dark elves or drow or whatever they wanted to be called, I suggested we just set it off. Llew 'n' Forth thought that was a pretty bad idea, since if it was a loud alarm who knew who it would bring, 'n' Alembic agreed with them. So I did my job 'n' turned it off, but I first called out in Undercommon that I was going to do it, since removin' it was probably costin' someone a pretty penny 'cause it seemed like a pretty nice one. At least until I made it go away. Nobody objected when I did, so I did, 'n' we went down the passage.

It was steep, and long, and I decided right from the get-go to use Spidey so I wouldn't slip too much, then I started walkin' on the ceiling so I wouldn't get trampled by the others, 'n' 'cause bein' upside-down for a long time makes my head feel all fuzzy 'n' weird 'n' I like it. And it took us about 20 minutes, so by the time we were near the bottom I was gettin' good and dizzy. Unfortunately, as we were goin', we all started feelin' this dismal feelin', like each one o' us was the survivor of a massive battle in which all our friends had died, 'cept we could all see each other, so we knew it hadn't happened, but it was still depressing.

As we came near Cheery Honeyville, it started reeking of death. Once we got to the entrance, we could see that it was vast. Hugely big. FAR beyond anything our eyes could see, 'n' an occasional flare-up in the distance told us this place was miles across. It was like an underground sea, 'cept the water was black blood. We still had the feelin' 'bout our friends dyin', 'n' I think it hit Alembic harder'n the rest of us 'cause he has so few friends but he started feelin' really bad so Llew had to cast somethin' on him and that perked him right up. Ahead of us was a rickety wooden bridge that was really made of fungus (now how did I know that? Darn it, Calistria! What did you do to my brain now?), leading to a small island in the sea that we could barely make out. There were bones scattered on the shore near the water.

I offered to go across the bridge 'n' test whether it was strong enough for everyone else, so Alembic put a Fly spell on all of us. Before I could head across, we all (well, almost all of us 'cause I don't think Alembic pays attention) heard some roarin' in the distance. Llew, bein' Llew, said it was some kind o' undead dragon castin' spells, but it was a LONG way away. We waited for a minute to see whether it was going to come over 'n' get itself killed, but it didn't so I stomped across the bridge. Seemed solid enough to me, but nobody else trusted my judgement so they all flew 'cross. Can't say as I blamed 'em, but it still hurt a little bit.

On the other side o' the bridge was a cistern o' black blood with a ladle. Didn't even have a sign that said, "Do not drink," which was givin' the residents far too much credit for bein' smart, in my opinion. A path led up to a stone building, but we'd have to walk through a whole lot o' dead zombies, dead skeletons, 'n' dead dark elves to get there. Some of 'em had been ripped limb from limb. Even though Llew said it looked like the battle'd been 4 days ago, in a land o' strong necromancy, dead doesn't mean dead so I decided to cast Deathwatch to be sure.

And oooooh, was I sorry! Even though none o' the dead were undead, some o' the stone around our feet was, mainly comin' out o' the well. Then all 'round us, all the walls of Cheery Honeyville were ALL undead; it was like we were in the bleedin' stomach o' some undead giant, 'n' everythin' its blood touched turned undead, whether it had been alive before or not. I nearly threw up, even without the help of a vomit casule. I don't think I've ever regretted castin' a spell that much, but I've been alive for quite a while now, so I'm not sayin' it's not possible I might've done worse in the past. I didn't particularly feel like touchin' the ground any more, so I started floatin' along like a little gnome balloon.

Anyhoo, we walked up to the buildin' 'n' the door'd been bashed down 'n' ripped off, which pretty much meant undead 'cause they seem to like bein' destructive that way, 'n' I was still tryin' to be polite 'n' all so I called out that if there were any dark elves inside we were comin' to rescue them, but if there were any undead we were here to kill 'em, 'cause sometimes honesty is the best policy, especially with undead. Llew 'n' I heard a really weak voice callin' out, "Kill me", so we figured either the undead we're bein' amenable to their own destruction, which would be odd, or there was a survivor who needed our help. We went on in. Inside the buildin' were a bunch o' arcane writings all over the walls that I figured were Alembic's job, some smashed alchemical stuff that I figured was Alembic's job, one dark elf strapped down to a table that was half dead, half undead (OK, Deathwatch came in handy on that one), and one dark elf who'd been completely disassembled a la Calum Jeggare. So he was still alive, but all his body parts were in different jars 'n' wired together so he didn't die. Unlike Calum, Alembic didn't shake his jar. Which was right nice of him. His head kept askin' us to kill him, but we needed answers. There were dead dark elves all over the place, 'n' we wanted to know what happened.

So I started followin' wires 'n' unentanglin' this 'n' movin' that 'n' pretty much doin' what gnomes're best at, 'n' while I was at it Llew told me she needed some holy water to kill the other undead so I gave her some, 'n' then I mentioned to Llew that she'd have to put a Heal on him right quick once he was fully disconnected, 'n' the head got all upset 'n' started tellin' us that no, no, we couldn't use Heal 'cause it'd attract Abraxis. Which would be a Bad Thing. So we brought in Alembic on the whole dealy, 'n' I pulled the plug, Alembic teleported us back up to the archway way out o' reach o' Cheery Honeyville's influence, 'n' Llew hit all the body parts with Heal.

'N' they turned back into a dark elf. 'N' he was nekkid. 'N' he was cute. 'N' life was good. 'Til Forth handed him a cape 'cause Forth can't let me have any fun.

Anyhoo, turned out his name was Sarin 'n' he was more than willin' to tell us what happened: The dark elves thought they were pretty tough, but the Mother o' Wights showed up 'n' crushed 'em like bugs. She took all their research notes about the black blood, tortured a few of 'em just for fun, took Sarin apart to extract information from him, 'n' then just left him to die, but not before castin' a spell to help him live longer, 'cause she's that kind o' person. The worse news was that she had somethin' called a "vault seed", which is what the Vaultkeeper used to create all the vaults in the first place, 'n' she bathed her little seed in the black blood, which was probably Not a Good Thing. She was still cartin' around her moanin' diamond, 'cause who wouldn't want to carry 'round a sad moanin' diamond for eternity, 'n' a bunch o' liches to keep her company 'cause she doesn't like the living 'n' they don't like her. The liches were usin' cold magic enhanced by black blood, so they'd be a nasty thing when we finally had to kill 'em.

Forth, bein' Forth, wanted to know what the dark elves'd been doin' with their blood research, 'n' he was forthright 'n' said they used it to control undead, create more powerful undead, 'n' research how to fight undead created usin' the blood. All very sensible if you're a dark elf I'd imagine.

We went back to the important stuff 'bout the Mother o' Wights. She sacrificed a few of her own to "activate" the seed, 'n' now all she needed was a location 'n' time, 'n' we pretty much knew the location (right under Eledir), but time was what neither he nor we knew. Llew asked him 'bout the undead dragon 'n' he didn't know anythin' 'bout it, so we figured it was probably another o' the Mother o' Wight's illusions 'cause it would make sense: Create an illusion of a big nasty undead dragon to make Llew 'n' Forth run in 'n' fight it with positive energy, then have that attract Abraxis 'n' have him get rid o' her problems for her. Sounded a little too convenient, so Llew 'n' Forth agreed there was no reason to go 'n' fight the dragon.
Finally, Forth asked 'bout how to fight the Mother o' Wights 'n' he said there wasn't much to tell; his entire group'd lasted less'n a minute against her. He was done 'n' he was gettin' the heck away from Cheery Honeyville, 'n' none of us could blame him.

Once he was on his way we went back to the house to search it. Alembic salvaged a bit o' alchemical gear, Llew 'n' I found some rubbings of arcane formulas, 'n' Llew 'n' Alembic started workin' on figuring 'em out. I found some research notes hidden poorly in a desk, so I handed 'em over to Llew 'n' Alembic 'n' they worked on those too. We left Cheery Honeyville back to the gateway 'n' Alembic cast a Magnificent Mansion so we could BATHE. Or at least Llew 'n' I could; Alembic didn't mind bein' stinky as long as he was doin' research, 'n' Forth's a dwarf, so there's that.

Once we were bathed 'n' fed 'n' I'd chased some invisible servants 'round the maze a couple o' times, Alembic briefed us: The place the dark elves were workin' was called "The Bloodforge", which is a pretty cool name, I'll admit. The rubbings were all taken from some ancient cube scribed with thousands 'n' thousands o' spells by an ancient necromancer who'd been studyin' the black blood as well. Supposedly the cube holds all the secrets o' the black blood, if you can just read it all. Which seems like an awfully inconvenient way to store knowledge. What's wrong with books?

But apparently studying the glyphs can break your brain 'n' make you go mad, so I was just as happy to let Alembic do it.

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Session 51, Played 18-Aug-2019

Sometimes, Forth confuses me. Other times, he confuses me. This time, I was downright confused.

The two dwarf mage guys were obvious casters, so I hid and pulled out Silencey. They told us to disarm and talk to them, and Forth said we were gonna talk but we weren't gonna disarm, and the dwarf guys were gettin' uppity, and I figured thing's start 'splodin' pretty soon so I went 'round a corner to hide better 'n' I heard hittin' 'n' castin' 'n' such, so I asked Forth whether we were still talkin', 'n' he said, "Yes," so I didn't do anythin', but one o' the dwarves said that Forth'd swung at him 'n' Forth didn't deny it so who knows?

Alembic decided that my brain wasn't hurtin' 'nough 'n' started talkin' 'bout how they weren't pod people, but they were disguised as pod people, but they were disguised in such a way as to not LOOK like pod people, 'n' my head hurt even more so Alembic did me a favor 'n' wrapped 'em up in a stone wall and asked 'em to talk. I was lookin' forward to it, 'cause whatever they were goin' to say wasn't goin' to make less sense than Forth 'n' Alembic were right now. I was pretty grateful to Llew; she was just keepin' quiet and waitin' to kill 'em once Forth messed this one up. 'Cept it kept right on goin'. They spewed some kind o' fog or steam out o' the top o' the stone wall, makin' this pretty nifty volcano effect that made me like 'em more, 'n' Alembic said they'd Dimension Doored out 'n' Llew pointed back where I'd been around the corner. This was gettin' downright silly. So yeah, I gotta admit it. I was beginnin' to enjoy it, and was wonderin' how I could make things even more confusin' without anyone blowin' up.

I flew over to the dark elves 'n' gifted 'em my extra tree token, figurin' their enemies wouldn't know what hit 'em, but that just confused the elves, but that was fine with me 'cause it meant they could join the club. I'm helpful that way. I figured as long as Forth 'n' Alembic were fightin' the non-fightin' foggy dwarf menace I could learn more 'bout dark elves, so I got ready to chat 'em up 'n' figure out more 'bout where they lived, 'cept Alembic said it was time to go so I flew over to him and he Dimension Doored us all outta there.

Told you it was confusing!

'Cept it got worse. I asked 'bout all of Talon's stuff, 'n' wouldn't the dwarves take it all 'n' we wouldn't learn 'bout what she was really doin', 'n' what 'bout the loot from all the dead orcs? Since I've turned just about undetectable, everybody sent me on in to get the stuff from Talon's tent. (Not before I emptied my Handy Haversack in front of 'em in protest. I didn't know Llew's eyes could roll that far. But no manure in there… this time...) The dwarves were talkin' to the dark elves 'n' they were talkin' me up like I'd killed half o' everyone in there, and I was this demonic fighter who'd kill 'em all, 'n' they were totally innocent bystanders and witnesses to my power.

I knew I liked dark elves!

So I went into Talon's tent 'n' grabbed what I could, which was some papers 'n' a journal, 'n' I drew a sketch o' the map, though my drawin's not all that good, 'n' I went back to the party. They read through the journal 'n' learned that Talon'd been really careful to funnel no more than 20 soldiers at a time to go in 'n' get killed. Llew knew that real armies don't work that way; you can't keep sendin' people to the same death trap to die over and over again, so the people must be gettin' replaced. Talon's journal kind o' confirmed that, 'cause she kept talking 'bout the "Perfect World" she was goin' to create with the Mother o' Wights, but it sounded awfully Lawful to me. Anyhoo, as usual the Mother o' Wights'd lied 'n' said she'd submit to Talon's rule once it was all done (why does anybody believe her?!?!?!), but by Llew's count most o' the army was probably plant people by now, and we'd probably killed a good portion of who was left when we came in askin' questions.


There were some nice cleric scrolls among the loot, so I asked if I could have 'em, seein' as to how I was a cleric 'n' all, 'n' much to my surprise the party said OK! Who knew? Once we'd read the journal 'n' I'd prepared the scrolls 'n' such, we decided we needed to put the evidence back so the dwarves could find it. It'd been 'round an hour or so since we'd left, so we figured the dwarves'd be gone, 'n' Alembic popped us back into Talon's tent. And a huge swarm o' dwarf soldiers 'n' mages 'n' investigators 'n' whatnot. Honestly, it was surprisin' there was enough room where we were to get in, but Alembic'd chosen a corner 'n' apparently dwarves don't like to stand in corners. As they all looked up in awestruck wonder at us…
...I started dancin'! 'Cause why not? 'N' it might keep 'em confused long enough for Alembic to get us out of there.

And it did!

Forth held out the journal 'n' said it was important 'n' all, then dropped it, 'n' then Alembic got us out o' there while all the mages 'n' soldiers 'n' stuff were marvelin' at my talent, wonderin', "Who is that marvelous creature, and how might I marry her?"

Sorry, boys! I'm married to the free life!

Since that was a loss, Alembic teleported us back to Logas, just 'cause he knew I didn't like it as well as Eledir 'cause it didn't have King Heddy or Jocelyn or my favorite dog to play with, but it did have the temple of Calistria, 'n' I figured I probably owed some obeisance or whatnot. Elves! Llew 'n' Alembic went to the library to try to learn anything they could 'bout the plant-that-eats-people-'n'-spits-out-pod-people thing, 'n' I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask Greenbrow 'bout it. 'Specially since it meant takin' him into a back room. 'Cept he was busy at the moment, 'n' by the time I got to see him I'd had to do my obeisance 'n' no I don't wanna talk 'bout it 'n' he didn't know anythin' 'bout plant-pod-people so it was just an unpleasant trip all 'round.

Llew 'n' Alembic had more luck. We were facin' somethin' called a "body thief" -- a giant bit o' greenery that ate people 'n' spit out plant-controlled duplicates of 'em. They want to replace everyone with a Lawful version o' themself to create a "perfect world". I had found my natural enemy! And of course, bein' my natural enemy, they had lots o' tentacles they used to grab you 'n' swallow you, then once you were in 'em they'd drain you 'til you were dead, 'n' instead o' comin' back undead you'd come back Lawful plant, which seems even worse somehow. Once you were back, you were under their control, but you could wander off 'n' do your own thing, so you didn't have to hang out with them.

At least that's nice.

Anyhoo, spits acid, grabs you with tentacles, drains your life energy, check, check, check, got it. Move on. We spent the night in Logas, so I took a looooong hot bath 'cause I figured I'd be in some plant's belly in the mornin', 'n' then slept in my giant human bed! I even ate a big dinner 'cause why not 'n' it tasted good. Llew shelled out to buy me a couple scrolls o' Sending, 'n' I clearly remembered the face o' the dwarf mage I kept askin' whether I was s'posed to stab, so I spent a bit o' time writin' up a message all formal-like 'n' havin' Llew 'n' Forth 'n' Alembic check it for content to make sure it made sense, then I activated one o' the scrolls 'n' told the dwarf we needed to meet. He told me we could meet behind the tent in 3 cycles. Since he was a guy, I didn't figure he meant 3 months, but I checked with Forth, just to be sure, 'n' Forth figured it was 3 days, too. *Phew!* He also said the usual: Dwarven council compromised, trust no one, yadda yadda yadda. My life in short.

With nothin' to do in Logas, we teleported up to Eledir 'n' met with Heddy. Turned out there'd been earthquakes like somethin' was diggin' under 'em, 'n' reports o' driders attackin' the farms outside o' town, but no trouble in town. Well, we liked those farmers so we spent a couple o' days trackin' down 'n' killin' every drider Llew could find, 'n' sealin' up the hole they'd dug themselves out of. Kind o' like killin' ants, but bigger, meaner, 'n' uglier.

After 3 "cycles", Alembic teleported us back beside the tent, I winked out 'n' went in, found the dwarf with company, waited politely, 'n' once we were alone I winked in again. He didn't even start! Good man! So I pointed to where the rest o' the party was 'n' winked out again, 'n' he gestured that I should be quiet. I was bettin' that on a bad day with a 3-elf hangover 'n' a head wound I'd be quieter'n Forth mouth breathin' 'n' squeakin' 'n' gruntin' just outside the tent, but I didn't say it. Dwarf boy came out 'n' Dimension Doored us to some strange cavern. But it wasn't an ambush!

So, he was still sore 'bout all the people we'd killed, 'n' I was 'bout to explain that they were just too Lawful to live but Forth put it more politely 'n' I just agreed that if they hadn't attacked us even after we'd told 'em that Talon was a plant, they wouldn't've died. We told him 'bout the plant, 'n' he was hemmin' and hawin' 'bout what to do as if he didn't know darned well we were gonna go kill it for him. 'Cause Lawful. Then he didn't trust us 'cause we were bein' helpful, which kind o' summarizes why I don't want to live in the Darklands in a nutshell. That, and the total lack o' light. 'N' comfy beds.

Anyhoo, Llew told him 'bout her bein' an inquisitor o' Pharasma 'n' all, 'n' how she was huntin' the Mother o' Wights, 'n' anythin' that allied itself with her or got in the way had to die, 'n' that was somethin' he could understand. Forth talked 'bout bein' a paladin o' Torag 'n' needin' to protect the city. I told him I just wanted to kill plants. He accepted it. He didn't ask Alembic. 'Cause Alembic's shifty. He finally agreed he'd keep his people away from the area on the map where we figured the plants were, since it was the place Talon'd been sendin' the troops, 'n' 20 people at a time meant we were probably dealin' with 4 or 5 plants. He showed us where Eledir Below was, 'n' where the undead army was, 'n' where we all thought the plants were, 'n' we headed out.

The plan was pretty simple: I'd put Freedom of Movement on Llew, then she 'n' Forth'd go in 'n' kill 'em all (he had a ring), 'n' Alembic 'n' I'd stay back 'n' provide fire support. We buffed up, I greased up, 'n' I even had Alembic put Resist Fire on us so we could use a bunch o' Fireballs without worryin' 'bout it. 'Cept there was somethin' itchin' in my brain, like we were forgettin' somethin' important...

We got to a bend in the passage beyond which the plants probably were, so I stopped to use Shieldy as Forth, Llew, and Alembic went ahead. Acid! Tons and tons and barrels and barrels and gallons and gallons of acid! THAT'S what we forgot! Oops!

So Forth, Llew, 'n' Alembic were sizzlin' 'n' burnin' 'n' lookin' none too pleased with their massive acid baths, but Llew 'n' Forth, bein' Llew 'n' Forth, went in and started choppin' anyway. 'Cept I also heard Forth doin' lots of healin' 'n' saw him channel. I moved into position but their tentacles were really long so I got hit a couple o' times 'n' only both Forth and my combined efforts usin' Liberating Command kept me from getting' grabbed, 'n' even worse, my scroll didn't go off again. Alembic tried to protect us all from acid but he got eaten for his troubles. And I mean eaten. One moment he was movin' along, slappin' protection on me 'n' Llew, 'n' next moment he was in a plant's mouth, 'n' the next moment he was swallowed. I figured he was probably pretty happy he'd protected himself from acid 'n' Llew'd Death Warded him before he went down. Two of 'em spewed more acid on us, which wasn't good at all for Forth 'cause he still wasn't protected, 'n' even nicked me a bit 'cause I was too fascinated watchin' Alembic go down a plant's gullet to manage to dodge all the acid. Forth kept right on healin' himself 'n' beatin' on one o' the plants, 'n' it shuddered 'n' stopped movin', 'n' that let Llew kill the one that had Alembic in it. He didn't look happy. With all those tentacles grabbin' everyone effortlessly, I needed a change o' plans, so I protected myself 'n' backed out just as Alembic rewarded the remainin' plants with a REALLY big Fireball. I think he was kind o' mad.

So I got to listen to the rest o' the fight, as the plants changed tactics after watchin' Llew 'n' Forth chop their friends into salad 'n' started stealin' their weapons 'n' Alembic's wands, but I pulled out the wand o' Invisibility we'd found 'n' turned myself invisible so I could get back in there 'n' start helpin', then pulled out Llew's wand so I could start healin' everybody on the sly. 'Cept Alembic was still mad so I heard a bunch o' lightning go off, then Llew 'n' Forth choppin' things, then silence. I flew back in 'n' all the plants were dead. So I started invisibly pokin' Forth with Llew's wand to heal him. 'Cept I'm sure he knew it was me 'cause I was gigglin'.

As Forth did some real healin' to get everyone back up to snuff, I ran around among the plants 'n' didn't find any loot, 'n' the rest o' the party went over to look at some statue at the end o' the room. It was a statue o' the Mother o' Wights, beckoning towards the entrance to the room, as if to say, "Come on in and get massacred."

Now that's just cold.

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Session 50, Played 04-Aug-2019

So, when I say, "It all went to heck," I mean, "Talon told the guards to kill us all 'n' then sat down to watch the entertainment."
I figured that was kind o' rude, but then the guards started ragin' 'n' attackin' Llew 'n' Forth 'n' hittin' 'em somethin' awful 'n' from all the blood 'n' screamin' 'n' foamin' at the mouths 'n' such I figured we were dealin' with barbarians again, which meant they wouldn't much care at all 'bout anythin' I was gonna do so I'd have to be creative. On the bright side, from just outside the tent we heard another fight break out 'n' the dark elves called out that since we were takin' care o' their business anyway they'd hold off the guards outside 'til they decided they were done helpin' us.

Sounded fair enough. I was feelin' better 'bout givin' them the vomit capsules already. 'Cause sharin' is carin'.

As the orcs in the room were closin' in on Llew 'n' Forth one of 'em couldn't quite reach so he jumped up on the map table 'n' Talon smacked him 'n' told him to get down, so I figured I could probably use that. 'Cept because Alembic doesn't like it when we aren't nearly dyin', he decided to try to open a pit up under Talon, 'n' she was floatin' (of course) but her nice chair wasn't, so she lost her chair 'n' I'm sure that made her mad at us. With a bunch o' barbarian orcs beatin' on Llew 'n' Forth 'n' Talon about to join in (and she even said as much) I figured I should confuse things a bit so I pulled out a smokestick 'n' threw it in the middle of the orcs around Forth, figurin' it might slow down Talon as well. Then I started tryin' to sidle over to the wall but one o' the orcs suddenly reached over 'n' smacked me! Hey! That's not fair! And even worse'n not fair, it HURT! A lot!!

Llew, bein' Llew, didn't appreciate me gettin' beat on, which I appreciate in her, so she killed one o' the orcs for me. Not the one that hit me, mind you, but I was a bit away from her. I couldn't see what Forth was doin' in the smoke, but it sounded all bangy 'n' bloody so I figured he was doin' all right, 'n' I told Alembic I needed to fly. He went ahead 'n' made all of us fly, so I started up to try to shadow out 'n' stab Talon 'cept as soon as I started movin' one o' the orcs hit me again an' I was beginnin' to think that I wasn't goin' to survive long enough to do anythin' more than smoke up the place, but I managed to wink out 'n' fly over to Talon 'n' stab her, but just as I came up to her she sensed me 'n' moved a little so instead of her kidney I just stabbed her ribs, which didn't do a heck of a lot o' good considerin' my knife probably wasn't as long as her rib was thick. She looked at me 'n' kind o' rolled her eyes like she was wonderin' what I was doin', then she actually said, "What are you doing? Can't you see that your friends over there need help?"
'Cept they really didn't. Llew 'n' Forth started cuttin' down the orcs, 'n' Alembic lightninged 'em. I figured I couldn't think o' much that Talon could've done to see me; I wasn't touchin' the ground so it wasn't tremorsense, 'n' Alembic didn't say anythin' 'bout her havin' lifesense or anythin' like that, so I figured if she was some kind o' animal critter (as apparently rakshasa are), she could probably smell me. I could take care o' that!

So I flew away from her 'n' winked out, 'n' she didn't bother with me 'cause she probably figured I wasn't all that useful, 'n' I pulled out a potion that'd remove my smell (at least that's what the vendor told me it'd do, 'n' he hasn't steered me wrong yet) 'n' drank it down. 'Cept Llew 'n' Forth were finishin' off the last o' the orcs right at that moment 'n' Talon decided to skedaddle. Just as she was runnin' away, the tent wall on the other side burned down 'n' we saw a lot o' archers, who started shootin' at us. Annoying!

Forth channeled to heal all of us 'n' he included the dark elves, since we could finally see 'em 'n' they were fightin' some more o' the orcs for us, but that just made 'em mad. I'd say I could've warned Forth, but it's not like I know all the fey in the world 'n' what they prefer or not, 'n' maybe they worshipped Zon Kuthon or somethin', but Forth made 'em mad at us, which is kind of his job. Since they were mad anyway, Alembic walled 'em off along with the rangers 'n' the other orcs, which is one o' the more useful things he does, 'n' I put up Fickle Winds to protect anyone in case they ever got through. It was an expensive scroll, but I was pretty tired of bleeding so I figured better safe than sorry. The dark elves disengaged 'n' wandered off, 'n' the orcs started bangin' on the wall, 'n' Forth healed us some more, which I really appreciated, 'n' Llew said that Talon was hidin' just outside o' the tent, on the other side from the side that burnt down. So I ran out 'n' stabbed at her again. 'Cept this time I was so eager to try to hit her that I just kind o' bumped into her right breast with my head 'n' bounced off, 'n' my dagger never even got near her, 'n' she gave me a look. I'm glad rakshasas don't have gaze attacks, 'cause I figured she would've killed me then 'n' there with her disdain. Forth 'n' Llew caught up 'n' actually started hurting her, so o' course she ignored me 'n' tried to beat up on Forth. But that was just kind o' suicide by paladin.
'Cept Llew was there, so Llew killed her first.

And then she decomposed into a bunch o' vines 'n' then withered 'n' melted away into nothin'.

So, I'm no "expert" on rakshasas, but that wasn't one o' the things Alembic'd mentioned them doing on a regular basis. Llew figured she was just a plant for the Mother o' Wights, which really was pretty clever so I figured I owed her some jumping beans in her socks or a feather in her nether garments as a reward. 'Cept it'd have to wait 'til we got back to town, 'cause if I did it now it would be kind of obvious who did it an' that takes away a lot o' the fun. 'Cept by the time we're back in town I'll probably have forgotten. Ah, well. It's the thought that counts!

Then we had one o' those weird conversations that I seem to be gettin' into more and more 'round this crew, where Forth 'n' Alembic were thinkin' we ought to be killin' off that army that was just outside of Alembic's Force Wall, and Llew was sayin' that maybe we should leave 'em alive since they were basically the only thing between the Mother o' Wight's army and the surface now. She had a point, but Forth 'n' Alembic wanted to kill stuff, 'cause it's kind o' what they do, so we decided to take on an army. I got out one o' those scrolls o' Fireball we'd found 'n' we all got ready 'n' when Alembic said the word I figured he'd dropped the wall 'n' I used the scroll 'n'...
...nothin' happened!

Stupid, cheap, undead-made piece o' cow dung scrolls! So o' course since I'd kept on doin' nothin' through the whole fight everyone kind o' ignored me, 'cept one o' the bowmen took a shot 'n' when they realized my Fickle Winds was workin' they decided they'd come up close 'n' personal with Llew 'n' Forth. Which was kind o' sad, but kind o' gratifyin', and at least I'd done somethin' during the entire fight! But there were the archers, 'n' there were the orc barbarians, 'n' there were a couple o' dark dwarves who seemed to be in charge o' the whole mess, 'n' there were the dark elves doin' a runnin' commentary wondering what the heck I was up to, 'cause they figured I couldn't really be that useless, but I guess they didn't know me all that well after all. They all ignored me 'n' went after Llew 'n' Forth, 'cept for the dark dwarves, who made for Alembic, so he turned the whole floor into tar! It was a neat trick, but hoo, boy did it stink! I asked him whether he was OK and he said he was, so I moved in to try to help Llew 'n' Forth.

It turned out the archers weren't nearly as good as the barbarians at protectin' their vitals, so I got in quite a few good stabs, 'n' the dark elves were startin' to think I wasn't totally useless. While we were moppin' up the orcs 'n' archers (who were still orcs, but just not as good orcs), Alembic decided he needed my help after all, 'cause the dwarves disappeared 'n' he Glitterdusted 'em 'n' they didn't like that so they started beatin' on him, which is kind of how everyone feels 'bout Alembic, but we just don't act it out. Llew did some fancy little move that let me get in an extra stab on a guy, then I flew over to start helpin' out Alembic. I told him to stop bein' a coward 'n' give me a flank, 'n' he did, so I stabbed the living daylights out of one of 'em. But they couldn't be distracted from killin' Alembic, 'cause they had taste, so we had to wait for Llew 'n' Forth to show up to mop up the rest of 'em. Alembic was lookin' a little peaked, 'cause I figure he's not as used to bleedin' as Forth is.

A handful more guys showed up, so I tried the scroll again and this time it worked and dropped a nice fireball on the lot of 'em (and I was even polite enough to tell the dark elves to avert their eyes), and then Llew, me, 'n' Forth closed while Alembic hit 'em with lightning so they didn't last long.

As we were recoverin' from that little bit, we heard a bang and two more dwarf guys showed up. These two were obvious mage types, 'n' the dark elves said, "Now the real fight begins."

Oh, good.

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Session 49, Part II, Played 23-Jun-2019

So, once I explained what I was lookin' for to Phil, he said that it'd cost me, 'n' I figured as much, but then he told me how much, 'n' I figured I could probably scrape it together so we'd best get to work. I offered to go with him to Eledir to get all the ingredients he needed, but he said somethin' 'bout goin' incognito 'r some such so he went out 'n' got what he needed 'n' took the stuff I was tradin' in as payment 'n' we went into his craftin' dimension.

And it was very very borin'. He was one o' those gnomes who just does stuff for hours or days on end, so focused he barely notices anythin' else. The first few days were pretty fun, 'cause I was givin' him all kinds o' distractions he hadn't thought of 'n' he was really enjoyin' 'em, but then as gnomes o' two different types'll do, we started drivin' each other crazy. He lit me on fire right out o' the bath so I lost some hair in places I don't like losin' my hair (it itches), 'n' I thought I glued his slippers to the floor 'cept he wasn't wearin' slippers, 'n' stuff like that. After about three weeks o' carnal gnome craftin' he figured he was right sick o' me 'n' told me I should go wait outside his dimension, 'n' I didn't mind 'cause we gnomes understand each other 'n' know it's nothin' personal, 'n' I was out o' the dimension for all of two minutes before he came back out 'n' said he needed me again 'n' it was 'cause he'd been alone in there for another 4 weeks 'n' was missin' my company, if you get my drift. An' I'm sure you do so I won't go there any more.

Anyhoo, we had our on-again, off-again whirlwind fling for all of an hour in the "real" world, but it was probably a couple o' months o' gnome time, but neither of us'd done anythin' like it before so I doubt either of us aged at all. Nice thing 'bout bein' a gnome! At the end of it all he handed me a belt that was beautiful! It was all worked leather, 'n' fit me perfectly as if he knew the size 'n' curve o' my waist rather intimately, 'n' was all worked with vines 'n' thorns 'n' wasps flying among 'em, 'n' I figured he'd done me right proper so I paid him, put on the belt, took off everything else, and gave him his tip. Then I went out o' the house to wait for Alembic to come back. 'Cept I forgot Phil was a wizard, too, so he was nice enough to pop me back to Eledir as a favor, 'n' I got to surprise Alembic tryin' to pick up on two cute human girls.

There's nothin' like ruinin' Alembic's fun.

Anyhoo, I had no idea what day it was, nor what month, nor what year, even, but I figured that was so normal for me that nobody even noticed that I'd been gone for a couple o' months. 'Cause to them I hadn't been. But I gave Llew 'n' Forth big hugs 'cause I'd missed 'em, 'n' I was even a little bit nice to Alembic 'cause he's really not a bad guy… sometimes. They asked whether I'd done all my shoppin' 'n' I was ready to go, 'n' I said I was, so Llew 'n' Alembic buffed us up 'cause they're smart that way 'n' then we teleported back to our cabin.

And it was really, really obvious that we'd been gone for a couple o' months. Everything was all run-down 'n' covered with dust, 'n' the wood was lookin' saggy 'n' rotten, 'n' I figured things decayed a lot faster underground, 'cept Llew reminded me that we'd only been gone two days 'n' things didn't decay this fast in 2 days, even underground. So we figured somehin' bad was up 'n' we let Forth 'n' Llew guard the door while Alembic cast Open on it. 'N' it was all dusty outside, too! 'Cept Forth said it wasn't dust, it was the russet mold that ate your brain 'n' turned you into a vegetable person. Which is what was attackin' us at the moment.

So, we learned that vegetable people aren't that tough, which is probably why they call 'em "vegepygmies" instead o' "vegepeople", but maybe "vegepansies" would've been better, 'cept a bit redundant. Alembic assured us that the Life Bubbles he put on us'd keep us safe from the mold, but considerin' the efficacy of his spells recently I was still pretty leery o' the stuff. Checkin' over the corpses, it was the corpses o' all the dwarves we'd killed, which was pretty sad, in my mind. First the undead'd killed 'em 'n' their corpses'd been taken over by brain critters. Then we'd killed 'em 'n' the brain critters 'n' they'd been taken over by russet mold. Then we killed 'em again, 'n' this time Forth 'n' Llew had us burn the whole city to the ground to get rid o' all the mold. Well, they had Alembic burn the city, 'cause when I burn stuff it costs money, so I appreciated the thought.

Once the city was good 'n' proper toasted we took the exit we'd been meanin' to take so many months ago, or maybe just a couple o' days, 'n' it was a long, smooth, steep passage goin' down, down, 'n' down some more. Alembic didn't want us to get tired so he made us all fly, which was right nice o' him, 'cause that way I could keep up with all the tall people without havin' to hurry. 'Cause Forth flies like a lead balloon covered with hedgehog spikes and dipped in molasses. Which sounds both tasty and ouchy at the same time. As we went down, the passage was gettin' wider 'n' wider. Forth said it looked like it'd been bored by some kind o' acid-spittin' creature like a trained worm or somethin'.

We eventually hit a junction, where our passage met what could only be called a major highway goin' east-west. Kind o' like the road from Logas to Eledir, 'cept deep, deep, DEEP underground. Before goin' on we listened for traffic, 'n' sure enough Llew heard some kind o' cart or sled with bells on it comin'. I figured it was as good a time as any to try on Mr. Shadow. A merchant from down here was bound to be good at seein' in the dark, so it'd be a good test, 'n' if he could see me I'd know Mr. Shadow was no good down here. So I called out to Mr. Shadow 'n' he was right next to me like he'd been waitin' for me to call to him in all this darkness, 'n' I put him on and he was comfy 'n' fit just right 'n' I settled in to see whether the merchant'd be able to see me.

It was a good thing I'd just taken a few month's trainin' in bein' bored. 'Cause that merchant was slooooooooooow. Once he finally came into view I was almost nappin', 'n' it turned out he was some big fat guy in robes that hid what he was, which I'm beginnin' to think is pretty typical down here. He was ridin' a giant slug that was pullin' a cart full o' wares, 'n' it looked just like a normal surface world merchant 'cept for the slug 'n' the evil aura o' otherness he was exudin'.

Forth greeted him, as Forth does in ALL situations, appropriate or not, 'n' he greeted us back, 'n' seemed right keen on sellin' us stuff. 'Cept he didn't seem to notice me. Llew 'n' Forth had some pleasant conversation with him. East of us was Eledir Below, which sounded like it was just below Eledir, go figure, 'n' he figured if we wanted to we could travel with him 'n' he'd help us get into the city. West of us was the great war with the undead, that'd been goin' on for years with no end in sight. The dark dwarves 'n' the drow'd put aside their differences to fight the common enemy, 'n' they were now bolstering their ranks with vegepygmies created from their fallen and the russet mold. So it didn't matter where you died in this battle; your body'd be up again before you could say, "Fnoggle fig ptoh flag persnoggle," and you'd be fightin' again, maybe for the same side, 'n' maybe for a different one. Sounded like the most depressin' war I'd ever heard of. And I find war in general pretty depressin'. The last thing he could tell us was that the Mother o' Wights was leadin' her undead army, and it was known that she was usin' the Moanin' Diamond to make fortifications to bolster her troops, 'cause everyone knew they couldn't stand up to the combined might o' the dark dwarves 'n the drow otherwise.

I asked a question 'n' he started 'n' asked whether there was another one o' us, meanin' he hadn't seen me so Mr. Shadow was workin'. That made me happy, so I figured he'd been nice and I ought to buy somethin', but after my adventure with the devil I wasn't goin' to give any old stranger any coin o' mine. So I offered him my heavy woolen blanket 'cause I really didn't need it 'cause o' my boots, 'n' my fantasies o' helpin' out some poor freezin' people'd been dashed when I actually tried to use it to help one o' the victims in the tower 'n' she thought I was givin' her a hand towel. So I pretty much didn't need it any more, 'n' it was well-woven 'n' such 'n' I doubted they got any nice wool out o' their slugs, so maybe he'd want it. The guy told me I could take anythin' off the side o' the slug, so I looked around and got this weird stretchy thing that looked either like somethin' you'd throw a rock with, kind o' like a sling, or a Calistrian sex toy. 'N' bein' a Calistrian priestess 'n' all, I was pretty sure it wasn't a sex toy. 'Cept I'm not a very good priestess.

Anyhoo, I guess this guy wasn't a devil 'cause Llew asked to buy a hat o' disguise from him 'n' he sold it to her. Then we decided we needed to go kill the Mother o' Wights 'n' stop the war, so we bade our farewells to the vendor 'n' moved on. Once we were out o' earshot I cast Detect Magic on my weaponized sex toy to find out whether it was cursed or anythin', but it wasn't. (Maybe some kind o' undies?) Forth said the guy'd probably been evil, but he'd been civil so he didn't need killin'. Kind o' like Asmodeans. 'Cept I didn't say that part out loud 'cause I didn't want to get Llew mad at me all over again. It'd been months 'n' she was still givin' me the leery eye like it'd just been a day or two. Forth was also pretty sure that goin' to the city was a sure death sentence, 'cause they didn't like dwarves there, and dwarven paladins even less. So, to the battle front!

As we were walkin' along the big highway, we heard someone comin' the other way. We stepped to the side o' the road again, but this time I didn't use Mr. Shadow 'cause I wanted him to be a surprise in case we got in any real trouble. 'N' it was a small group o' dark dwarves, battered 'n' bloody, 'n' two of 'em were draggin' a litter with a third. I ran over and yelled, "Hi!", and channeled energy at 'em, 'cause it seemed like a friendly thing to do and I figured Forth'd start talkin' at 'em anyway, so why not start things off right, 'n' they got downright confused, but at least I saw that I'd healed 'em a little so they weren't undead. Do plants heal from channeled energy? I have no idea! So maybe they were vegedwarves, but they didn't seem all that hostile.
Sure enough, before I could even say, "You're welcome!" before they could thank me, Forth was talkin' to 'em. They were from the front lines, 'n' when Forth told 'em we were goin' to fight undead they said that their commander, Commander Talon, could really use folk like us 'n' we ought to go to her 'n' enlist.

They did their dwarf grunty thing back 'n' forth for a while, so you could hardly tell one of 'em was a light dwarf 'n' the rest were dark, but we didn't get much more information out of 'em, so just as Forth was ready to let 'em go I channeled again, turned on Calistria's eyes (would they even work on dwarves if I wasn't bearded 'n' flat-chested?), 'n' started askin' their leader to please tell me more about Commander Talon.

Well, whatever magic I've got in my big purple eyes, it was too much for the dwarf to resist. He let us know that Commander Talon was a rakshasa, which is some kind o' evil outsider 'n' the gang told me later I needed good-aligned pointy things to hurt her (check!), she'd have lots of magic to control my teeny little brain (check!), 'n' she'd epitomize one o' the classic sins (please don't be Lust! Please don't be Lust!). But Commander Talon was both brilliant 'n' ruthless: She'd send just enough troops to fight the undead to the death so that both sides all died, then she'd bring in the russet mold to bring back her troops. Didn't seem all that brilliant to me, since the Mother o' Wights could just bring back her troops as well, but I'm not a brilliant military commander who epitomizes sin. Well, OK. Maybe you can argue that last one a bit. But not a commander!

Anyhoo, I said my goodbyes 'n' toodled off, 'n' they were downright friendly towards me, though not towards the rest o' the group, so again I was wonderin' what Calistria's grand plan was with me after all, or whether she had one or I was just another amusin' distraction she occasionally granted weird powers to. Probably the latter. Seems more like her.
As we continued down the road, we started seein' more 'n' more wounded comin' back the other way, 'n' even some corpses that were turnin' into vegethings. They were gettin' more organized 'bout the vegethings now, 'n' put 'em in cages to grow so they could be wheeled back to the front, 'n' there were gettin' to be more 'n' more cages.

Eventually, the first guard tried to stop us. He said we were on the King's Road, 'n' violence was forbidden on it by the king, but we weren't allowed to go any farther. I asked him whether he meant King Heddy, 'cause I figured I could go up 'n' talk to Heddy 'n' get permission to perform violence whenever I felt like it, 'cause Heddy's a nice guy that way, but he said that no, it wasn't Heddy. I finally figured out that they were orcs, but they seemed pretty civilized for everything I'd heard 'bout orcs. But they were the first ones I'd met, so maybe they just had a bad reputation 'cause they're ugly 'n' they live underground. But then why not dwarves?

Anyhoo, the nice orcs said that if we wanted to meet Commander Talon we should go off the road and onto a side passage, but the main battle was in Logas Below, so the party decided we should just go deal with the undead first 'n' see whether Talon came to us. The orc didn't mind us goin' on to fight undead, which was again right civil of him. He got some weird look in his eye 'n' said, "I am loyal!" 'n' let us go on. 20 minutes later we hit the next road block, 'n' they even had a big ballista that they pointed at us. We got the same song 'n' dance 'bout it bein' the King's Road 'n' we weren't s'posed to go any farther, but we mentioned Commander Talon again 'n' they responded with, "I am loyal!" like that was some kind o' weird password, 'n' I figured it was a pretty stupid password 'cause they were tellin' it to us 'stead of askin' us for it, but I don't live underground so what do I know?

These guys pointed us off the main road again, again tellin' us to go see Talon, so for whatever reason I didn't understand Forth decided that this group was more convincin' than the last one so off to see Talon we went. We came up to a big ol' gate 'n' I could've let us in but I figured they'd probably take that as rude, 'cause I hadn't yet seen a gnome down here 'n' they probably wouldn't understand me anyway. Since we were gettin' close, we buffed a bit, 'n' then I knocked 'n' they asked who it was 'n' I told 'em 'n' they told me to drop my disguise so I cleverly said, "What?" 'n' they explained that I must be one of Talon's spies on the surface world which was hilariously stupid of 'em but I didn't even bother lyin' 'n' just tried to take off my disguise.
Which wasn't there, so it didn't work.
But they spotted Llew's hat o' disguise that she'd purchased from Slug Guy 'n' that was enough for them so they let us in.

It's a wonder Talon hasn't been assassinated yet.

We got led over to a big ol' tent that led into one o' Alembic's Magnificent Mansions, 'cept I figured it was probably Talon's 'n' not Alembic's, but who really worries 'bout whose mansion is whose any more? They put us in a waitin' room with a bunch o' other muckety-mucks, but the ones that interested me were the drow: There were two really pretty female elves, 'cept they looked really mean, like from the Mistress of Pain area o' the temple, 'n' they had white hair 'n' purple skin 'n' looked like they wanted to kill us. So I figured I owed 'em a courtesy, fey-to-fey 'n' whatnot, but typically that ends up in violence 'n' bloodshed 'n' dead fey all over the place, but it's what you do. So the only thing I knew 'bout drow was that you shouldn't call 'em elves 'n' they like poison. So I walked up to the first one 'n' asked whether she was a drow. She was! She asked whether I was a g-nome, 'n' I figured that was a nice way o' pronouncin' it so I said that yes, I was, 'n' I was secretly pretty happy 'cause if she'd heard o' gnomes, I could probably get away with more. I told her I'd heard her kind liked poison, so since I wasn't here to fight her I'd like her to have a vomit capsule as an offering, just out of fey-to-fey civility. She asked what it did, 'n' I told her, 'n' she ate it anyway, 'n' she threw up all over herself 'n' me anyway 'n' it was hilarious 'n' I'd had my mouth closed so it was just all awesomeness!

As I Prestidigitated myself 'n' her clean, she asked me whether I had another one. I said I sure did and I gave it to her. She gave me a wicked smile that said it'd go well-used, 'n' I suggested that Alembic didn't care for 'em, but I think he understood me 'cause I was talkin' to 'em in Elven so I don't think he's going to drink anything she offers him.
Too bad.
Ah, well, I did my courtesy and figured it'd do diddly-squat if they decided they wanted to kill us, but at least it meant waitin' in the room with 'em was more pleasant, 'cause I had the anticipation o' getting to see who vomited next, 'n' the buffs were tickin' down 'n' so was my Prestidigitation, but we got called in real quick. The drow were unhappy, but someone said somethin' 'bout us bein' spies or whatnot 'n' they quieted down. I think it was the vomit capsule that relaxed 'em.

Since only Forth 'n' I spoke Undercommon, Forth asked me to do the talkin'. Which should've warned me that somethin' was fishy. But we went in 'n' met Commander Talon, 'n' she started askin' all kinds o' weird questions like, "What did you tell people, exactly?", and, "Who knows that you're here?", and, "Do you really think you can kill the Mother of Wights?"
So I was doin' my best to be pleasant 'n' polite 'n' answer all her questions honestly, 'cause I figured that's what Forth'd do, then Forth suddenly blurted out, "Did you make a deal with the Mother of Wights?" 'n' it all went to heck.

I will never understand paladins.

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Session 49, Part I, played 23-Jun-2019

When you hear, “Soul-stealin’ paralyzin’ magic-slingin’ bat-winged undead demon-y mohrg-y things,” the first thing in your teeny little brain ought to be, “Protect me! I’m just a teeny little brain!” I figured gettin’ close to Llew would take care o’ that one for me. But the second thing is, “Protect me! I’m just a fleshy, pulpy, bleedy little body!”, so as I started flyin’ towards the fight I tried to activate the scroll that’d turn my body into iron, at least as far as Alembic’s description of it told me. I didn’t know whether I’d still be able to move once I was made of iron, but I figured if I couldn’t maybe Llew’d figure somethin’ out to catapult me at the bad guys or somethin’ and I’d still be useful. Trouble was, it was a lot more squirrely than any scroll I’d tried to activate before, so when I pulled it out and tried to read it again, my eyes went all cross-eyed ’n’ I got a bit of a headache ’n’ nothin’ else happened, so I figured Iron Trig wasn’t gonna happen any time soon.

As I came ‘round the corner to see what was happening, Alembic was in the way (as always), Llew was in the doorway fightin’ somethin’ (one o’ the mohrgs, I figured), and Forth was callin’ out from inside the room that he’d downed one, and they weren’t as tough when they were dead. Or something like that. But I figured it was pretty obvious, ’n’ you could say that ‘bout just about anythin’. “It’s not as tough when it’s dead.”
But I guess with undead it’s a thing or somethin’. What do I know?

So with Llew ’n’ Forth in a room right next to a bunch o’ undead casters, I figured I wasn’t goin’ to need to be made o’ iron or anythin’ like that any time soon. ‘Cept Llew was swingin’ at the one right in the doorway and her sword bumped the doorway a couple o’ times ’n’ she was gettin’ downright unlucky. I could fix that! Alembic tried to cast somethin’ at ‘em that didn’t work (as always), but at least he didn’t move so I was able to sneak in ’n’ rub a little bit o’ Calistria’s luck on her backside. I figured maybe helpin’ her kill a bunch o’ undead would make her feel better ‘bout the whole Asmodean thing, ’n’ wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all, plus now that I was next to her my teeny little brain was protected. Win-win-win! And then Forth had to go ’n’ spin ‘round with that great big axe-thing o’ his ’n’ started cuttin’ down all the demon-mohrgs like ripened wheat in a field (’n’ Trig gets a simile right! Don’t get used to it! EVER!), ’n’ Llew cried out, “Save one for me!” ‘cause she likes to record those things in her book an’ I know ‘cause I’ve been yelled at for killin’ things so I know not to do it, but Forth’s a paladin ’n’ so he doesn’t mind gettin’ yelled at so he cut ‘em all down ’n’ my luck didn’t do anythin’ ’n’ neither did Llew. ‘Cept she started yellin’ at Forth for bein’ greedy ’n’ suddenly all the demon-spirits tried to steal our souls like they do ‘cept Llew’s Circle protected us like it does ’n’ I kept my little mouth shut ‘cause I know Llew can be mad at more than one person at once ’n’ my luck not goin’ off wasn’t goin’ to help her mood at all.

Anyhoo, I suggested to Forth that maybe he should channel to get us all healed up ‘cause everyone ‘cept Alembic was a bit bloody, ’n’ he did ’n’ maybe it made Llew feel better but I’m not good at readin’ people like she is so I just decided to search the room for traps. There was one, but it was a big ol’ Fireball that I’d disabled with the switch back in the fun fun lightnin’ room, so there was no joy to be had in Dead Mohrgville. But there was tons o’ loot. Like an army’s worth o’ weapons ’n’ armor ’n’ magic. I got a handful o’ oils that were designed to hide things, which seemed like all kinds o’ fun, ’n’ a bunch o’ scrolls o’ Fireball ’n’ Lightning that I was sure I needed somewhere, ’n’ nobody stopped me from takin’ ‘em, not even Llew or Forth or Alembic, ’n’ they were the only ones there. So I figured there were big booms in my future, and that made me happy.

Trouble was, yet again we couldn’t carry all of it, so I knew I was going to be expected to figure that out, so I’d ask ‘bout it once we got back to town. We gathered up what Alembic said was the most valuable stuff, ’n’ Llew asked me whether I’d be willin’ to turn all the traps back on, just in case people started snoopin’ ‘round before we got back, so I did, but as I was goin’ in Melissa showed up again ’n’ gave me a big smile ’n’ thanked me ’n’ told me she could rest now, ’n’ that made killin’ all those guys worth it. Or at least bein’ in the general vicinity while Llew ’n’ Forth killed ‘em all worth it.

We went back up to Crawly Brain Town ’n’ I locked the sewers as well, ’n’ Alembic teleported us back to Eledir just long enough for me to ask around, sell some o’ the valuables we had, ’n’ get myself a Portable Hole, which is kind o’ like one o’ Alembic’s pits ‘cept it’s not full of acid, which is a good thing. And it doesn’t go away, which is another good thing. But that let Alembic teleport us back to Brainville, I unlocked the gate, disarmed all the traps, we filled up the Hole, I re-armed the traps, I re-locked the gates, ’n’ we teleported back to Eledir for some good old-fashioned loot-selling.

As usual, the group let me do the sellin’ ’n’ the divvyin’ up, ‘cause I’m both charmin’ and honest, and I think they like to watch my little pink head bobbin’ ’n’ weavin’ among all the taller folks. The town guard was more’n happy to take all the military-type stuff off of us, like the plate mail ’n’ so forth, ’n’ Eledir was recoverin’ enough that we sold the rest of it without a lot o’ bother. I found that I was awfully close to gettin’ a top-notch belt o’ health ’n’ quickness, which is the kind o’ thing I like to buy, but they didn’t have any in town, so I asked Alembic to teleport me back to old Phil’s place, ‘cause I knew he was a crafter ’n’ a gnome ’n’ he had a secret craftin’ dimension ’n’ all that, but Alembic said he was too tired to teleport me any more that day so I’d have to ask him tomorrow. ’N’ I knew he was tellin’ the truth ‘cause he’ll take any excuse to get me out of his hair for a while.

It was gettin’ pretty late by the time we’d finished our shoppin’, so I stopped by the temple ’n’ paid my respects (Elves. Yum!) ’n’ then went back to our old inn ‘cause I like the way they treat me there, ’n’ they don’t feed me any dwarf food or anythin’ like that, ’n’ I did somersaults on the bed ‘cause it seemed different, then went to bed, thinkin’ ‘bout what it must be like to spend your lifetime in darkness.

And I had the weirdest dream.

I was in Calistria’s bedroom again, ‘cept this time she was all purple-skinned ’n’ white-haired ’n’ looked kind o’ like Llew would if she had a terrible accident in a wine press, ’n’ she was with a bunch o’ purple elves ’n’ bald gnomes ’n’ so forth, ’n’ she started tellin’ me ‘bout the fey o’ the darkness, ’n’ did I really want to be like them ‘cause they were all twisted ’n’ evil ’n’ such by bein’ closer to Rovagug. And I told her I didn’t want that, but I at least didn’t want to keep bangin’ my head against the rocks every time Alembic forgot to cast Darkvision on me, ’n’ she laughed at me (like she always does), ’n’ said I should probably embrace the shadows, not the darkness. Well, that made ‘bout as much sense to me as embracin’ the water but not the liquid, but everybody there was nekkid ’n’ it was elves ’n’ such even if they were purple ’n’ evil so I started tryin’ embracin’ things. And the thing I embraced wasn’t an elf or a gnome or Calistria. It was a shadow. But not one o’ those evil, undead, suck-your-strength-’til-you-wither-’n’-die shadows. This shadow wanted to be my friend. Which probably sounds kind o’ awkward in a big ol’ pile o’ heavin’ naked bodies, but I understood.

I slipped my right hand inside of its hand, kind o’ like a glove ‘stead of a handshake. Then I put it on, kind o’ like a coat. And you’d expect a coat made o’ shadow to be cold or creepy or scary, but it was kind o’ warm an’ welcomin’. And I saw the eyes o’ the others and I could tell that they couldn’t see me, even though they could see in the dark, ‘cause I’d embraced the shadow, not the darkness.

Good one, Calistria!

Once I woke up in the mornin’ I just had to try it out! So I said, “Good mornin’!” to the innkeep ’n’ tried to put on my shadow but it was all bright ’n’ sunny in the inn so I just flapped my arms at him a bit ’n’ he just figured it was me bein’ me ’n’ brought me some kind o’ fruit I didn’t think I’d ever seen before, or maybe he’d just carved an apple to look all fancy, but I appreciated it and took it and ate it and moved over to a corner to start figurin’ it out. ’N’ once I was out o’ the sun ’n’ in the corner, I felt my shadow with me so I put him on again ’n’ the innkeep gasped ’n’ I could see his eyes lookin’ right through me ’n’ this was goin’ to be the most fun thing EVER!!!

I wasted most o’ the mornin’ hidin’ in shadows from things: Dogs. Kids. People who weren’t payin’ attention to me anyway. But it didn’t take long to get the hang of it, ’n’ I learned that as long as there was a place for my shadow to be hidin’ near me, I could call him over ’n’ put him on ’n’ no one could see me, even people who could see in the dark. ‘Cause ‘parently “dark” ’n’ “shadow” are two different things. Who knew?

Once I was good ’n’ ready I snuck up on Alembic ’n’ asked him to teleport me to old Phil, ’n’ he’s so used to me poppin’ out o’ nowhere he wasn’t even surprised one bit, but he was more’n happy to get me out of his hair ’n’ popped me over there. I walked up to his fake log cabin ’n’ once Alembic’d teleported away made myself all nice ’n’ presentable. But as he opened the door bits o’ my outfit kept poppin’ open, ‘specially ‘round the cleavage, ’n’ my lips were all dry ’n’ I had to keep lickin’ ‘em, so I gave Phil Calistria’s eyes ’n’ told him I needed him to do somethin’ for me.

I think I’m lucky I didn’t give Phil a heart attack.

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Session 48, played 16-Jun-2019

So, it’s all well ’n’ good to say, “OK, let’s kill everythin’ in town,” but even I didn’t really mean it, ‘cause maybe some o’ the dark dwarves really were dark dwarves ’n’ not brain-eatin’ abominations. So we asked Alembic how we could recognize the brain-eaters ’n’ he didn’t know, which is kind o’ his go-to answer, ’n’ I suggested usin’ Detect Evil, but Forth admitted that the dark dwarves were by and large evil so that wouldn’t work, so how ‘bout Detect Chaos, but they were chaotic, too. So, I’m all for withholdin’ stabbin’ things that don’t deserve it, but these dead dark dwarves were makin’ things awfully hard on us. Alembic suggested that normally the bodies the brain guys are in usually decay after a week or so, so these bodies were doin’ right well by ‘em and maybe they didn’t want to leave, but much as I’m a live ’n’ let live kind o’ girl, I really have to draw the line at brain-eatin’ abominations. They really had to die. I suggested stabbin’ ‘em to see whether they bleed, ‘cause that’s my normal suggestion when we’re stumped, but as usual everyone pooh-poohed that idea, ‘cause ‘parently everyone ‘cept gnomes get offended when you stab ‘em to try to find out whether they’re really who they say they are.

Llew suggested that we do it all careful ’n’ quiet-like, goin’ buildin’-to-buildin’ ’n’ takin’ ‘em out a few at a time. I had a wand o’ Silence that said that that was a great idea, but Forth didn’t like it ‘cause it seemed too much like an ambush. We went back ’n’ forth a bit, ‘cause knockin’ on someone’s door ’n’ sayin’, “Hi! We’re here to kill you!” seems pretty forthright to me, but ‘parently Llew’s plan didn’t sit well with Forth so we were goin’ round in circles gettin’ nowhere.

I finally got fed up and suggested just killin’ the cleric o’ Rovagug, ‘cause whether or not he was a brain-eater Forth wouldn’t get in trouble for killin’ him. I was half-jokin’, but Forth said that that sounded like a good plan. So…when the paladin says the gnome’s plan is good, you know you’re in trouble. So everyone buffed on up, Llew put up a Magic Circle ‘cause we knew the brain-eaters couldn’t get through ‘em, ’n’ the idea was that I’d lure the cleric out into the circle ’n’ we’d see whether he could enter it. Easy as pie!

I strode up confidently ’n’ banged on the door. The cleric wanted to know what I wanted before he’d open the door. So I told ‘im the paladin was here to burn his place to the ground ’n’ kill him unless he came out and talked to us.

And he screamed for help!

What kind o’ evil cleric IS he? I know Llew said they weren’t really very good clerics, but if I’d said that to any o’ the clerics at the orphanage he’d be all bluster ’n’ anger ’n’ come stormin’ out to give me what for ’n’ tell me that was no kind o’ choice ’n’ the paladin had to have it wrong ’n’ all that, ’n’ he’d have 37 reasons the paladin couldn’t lawfully kill him right there. But I guess that’s ‘cause Asmodeans are more Lawful than Evil, so instead o’ gettin’ all indignant this guy started screamin’ like we were gonna kill him. OK, so we were, but he didn’t have to be such a baby about it.

He’d locked the door, which was kind o’ sad, so I unlocked it but he held the bar in place with all his strength, but I was just as strong as him, which meant he couldn’t possibly be a real human, ’n’ then Forth just walked up ’n’ lifted the bar out o’ the way ‘cause Forth. Llew ’n’ Alembic kept back to watch for company as Forth ’n’ I went in to start interrogatin’ the guy. Well, not really. I just stabbed him. I couldn’t really tell whether it was real blood or not, so I was waitin’ to see whether Llew or Forth could tell me, but then Forth took a big ol’ swing with his hammer ’n’ smashed in the guy’s rib cage ’n’ said that yep, he wasn’t human.

I’ll never understand paladins.

Anyhoo, the guy started gettin’ up so I stabbed him ’n’ he dropped, but Alembic warned us that a little bitty brain’d be comin’ out ’n’ we’d have to kill it too, so we waited. Llew ’n’ Alembic said we’d attracted company with all our noise. I’d’ve argued that it was the cowardly cleric’s screamin’ that was attractin’ company, but she’d made her point ’n’ I didn’t want to irritate her when she was lookin’ for stuff to kill. I figured it was a good time to protect my brain ’n’ pull out Shieldy while we were waitin’, ’n’ Alembic ’n’ Llew were castin’ some stuff outside so we knew company was gettin’ nearer. The little brain thingy finally crawled out ’n’ huddled in a corner so I couldn’t flank it. Pesky little bugger! Alembic Magic Missiled it but that didn’t hurt it, ’n’ he said it had some kind o’ globe up that protected it from spells. I tried to trip it, but that didn’t work, either. Fortunately, whatever was protectin’ it didn’t protect it from Forth’s hammer so he set to work. It decided this wasn’t fun ’n’ turned invisible, which was inconvenient.

I heard a big boom outside that said that Alembic was throwin’ Fireballs ’n’ he quickly told us that ALL of the dwarves were brain guys, so we didn’t have to worry ‘bout killin’ ‘em. Right after that Llew’s bow started goin’ like mad so I knew she was teachin’ ‘em that she was deadly even at a distance. Hearin’ ‘em scream kind o’ made up for the missin’ guy, but I was feelin’ pretty stupid ‘bout losin’ my one foe in a 10’x10’ room. Kind o’ like stealin’ a watermelon from the high cleric’s personal table ’n’ then forgettin’ where you put it ’til it rotted ’n’ made the whole latrine smell even worse’n usual, ’n’ then bein’ forced to eat it ‘cause we were naughty. But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyhoo, since I couldn’t fight the invisible guy I just left ’n’ used Shieldy, ’n’ Forth followed me ’n’ we figured the invisible guy would eventually do somethin’ other than hide ’n’ we’d see him then. Alembic tried lightning but it didn’t have any effect, either, so ‘parently Alembic was goin’ to do very little again this fight. Llew stopped shooting just long enough to make all the invisible guys visible so I could finally spot the little guy who’d gotten away, ’n’ he was tryin’ to do somethin’ to Alembic so I went around ’n’ stabbed him, ‘cept Alembic can’t flank worth a darn so I couldn’t get in a stab at a vital brainy bit ’n’ my dagger just slid off. Alembic! Get with the program!

Alembic, bein’ Alembic, ran away. Fortunately the brainy thing wasn’t as smart as it looked ’n’ tried to eat me, so it ended up just pawin’ at me uselessly as well. Now you know how it feels, brain boy! ‘Course, I have friends, so Forth came up ’n’ smashed it. Which was really even more disgusting than it sounds. I was kind o’ glad at the moment to be tiny and weak ’n’ not smashing brains with a big ol’ hammer, ‘cause ew.
Llew went back to killing ‘em with a bow, ’n’ Alembic finally got fed up ’n’ dropped most of ‘em into an Acid Pit. Most o’ the time I give him grief for that ‘cause I don’t like the screams. This time, I just didn’t mind. ’N’ the rest of ‘em… ran away!

What kind o’ overwhelmin’ bad guys are these?!?!?

Everyone else was runnin’ right to try to catch ‘em, so I ran left ‘cause it looked shorter ’n’ I figured I could slow ‘em down. ‘Cept WHAM! I ran face-first into an invisible wall! Alembic called out, “Sorry ‘bout that!” but I knew he wasn’t, ‘specially when he then made everyone else go fast so they left me all behind.

So ‘bout all I know ‘bout the rest o’ the fight is that one of ‘em tried to open up the grate leadin’ to all the mohrgs, but Forth killed it before it could finish, Alembic got almost all the rest of ‘em with another pit, ’n’ Llew killed the king herself ’n’ pushed him into a pit ‘cause Llew. ’N’ I caught up just after it was all done ’n’ they were sayin’ that ‘cause they had Prayer up (what? Why didn’t I get that?) ’n’ Haste (which I didn’t get) ’n’ some other things (which I probably didn’t get), we should race down the hole ’n’ kill all the mohrg, too.

As I was runnin’ over Alembic was puttin’ Fly on Forth ’n’ Llew, so I refreshed Shieldy ’n’ used a wand o’ Fly on myself, ‘cause it seemed the thing to do, ’n’ I managed to get there just in time to watch Forth go down ’n’ hear a loud clang ’n’ hear Forth yell that there were traps, so I flew down just enough to see that Forth had completely missed the disarm lever ‘cause Forth ’n’ just walked into a spiked wall trap.

I’d’ve tried to lead the way to help ‘em out but there were a bunch o’ spiky devils peekin’ ‘round the corner ’n’ Forth couldn’t resist goin’ after ‘em ’n’ Llew wanted to keep Forth from getting himself killed so she followed after him. We could hear all kinds o’ stuff goin’ on as well; the devils were summoned ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth could tell that, ’n’ the casters who were doin’ the summonin’ were farther down the hall, with the devils providin’ a bottleneck to keep us back. Fortunately, since we were all flyin’ we could stack up a bit ‘cause the ceilings were nice and high. Unfortunately, Forth said not to hit the devils ‘cause they were spiky ’n’ you’d get hurt doin’ it, but I figured it was worth a stab to try to make one pop. It didn’t, ’n’ it hurt to stab him, so there was that. Llew ’n’ Forth started mopping ‘em up so I tried to get farther down the hall past ‘em to start lookin’ for more traps, but they didn’t want me to ’n’ kept stopping me so it took me a bit, and one even tried to grab me but the grease I’d put on kept me loose, but eventually I got ahead and got to look at the next junction.

Sure enough, there was a big ol’ trap there, with what looked like a giant stone foot (Rovagug’s foot) ready to come down behind anyone who went through, meanin’ one party member’d be stuck with all the casters on one side, ’n’ the rest’d be stuck behind the foot. I asked Alembic whether he’d be able to teleport us through, but he said he didn’t know ‘cause the place was Unhallowed ’n’ that might block teleportation, but I was gettin’ used to Alembic sayin’ he didn’t know things or that his magic wouldn’t work, so I figured it was fine. Durin’ the whole fight with the devils he kept castin’ stuff ’n’ it kept not workin’ ’n’ I’m beginnin’ to think he has some kind o’ performance anxiety ’n’ can’t cast when he’s around devils or some such.

Anyhoo, I warned everyone that I could stop the leg from comin’ down but it’d be a while, ’n’ they should check the door at the end o’ the hall, ’n’ got to work. Forth guarded me while Llew ’n’ Alembic went to look. While I was workin’, the mohrg showed its ugly face at the end o’ the hall, but it wasn’t a regular skeleton with intestines ’n’ whatnot like Llew’d described; this one had bat wings ’n’ everything ’n’ cast somethin’ that made me feel like I’d been in the desert for the last 3 weeks. Without my boots or my ring! My lips were parched, my fingers were cracked ’n’ bleeding, ’n’ it was really pretty awful. Forth got it, too, so it was some kind o’ spell, ’n’ he channeled to heal us ‘cause it hurt so much. Llew called back that there was some kind o’ room full o’ knobs ’n’ whatnot, ’n’ I figured that was an invitation ’n’ asked her whether I should go over ’n’ look, ’n’ she said I should finish what I started, ’n’ I told her that she sounded a lot like an Asmodean sayin’ stuff like that.

Hoo, boy! Sometimes the wrong thing just comes out o’ your mouth an’ you don’t even know it ’til you’re strung up by your ankles in your bedclothes bein’ whipped for disrespect. ‘Cept Llew isn’t like that, but she was LIVID. I’ve never seen her so mad, even at the bad guys! She gave me what for, ’n’ asked me whether that’s what I really thought o’ her, and ‘bout how Asmodeans were EVIL, ’n’ she was a cleric o’ Pharasma, ’n’ she wasn’t evil, ’n’ I tried to explain that it was just the Lawfulness of it all that got me ’n’ that just made it worse ’n’ I should’ve just apologized ’n’ shut up. Even worse, Alembic was in the fun room gettin’ zapped with electricity ’n’ screamin’ his head off, so now I really wanted to go, just to watch if nothin’ else.

Fortunately, the bat guy hit us with another o’ those dry spells ’n’ nearly killed me. Sometimes, even a painful distraction’s a good one. Llew came over ’n’ healed me so I figured we were good, ’n’ she said it was a demonic mohrg ’n’ on top o’ everything else it could steal your soul ’n’ cast all kinds o’ nasty spells like we were noticin’, so I figured since she wasn’t yellin’ we were good ’n’ I hurried over to the room where Alembic was gettin’ barbecued. All the knobs ’n’ levers were clearly labeled with gobbledygook, so it was easy to see which one did what, ‘specially lookin’ at all the wires ’n’ such, but ‘parently Alembic can’t read gobbledygook, either. I could’ve turned off the electricity, but that wouldn’t have been any fun, so I turned off the stompy foot instead ’n’ let Llew ’n’ Forth know they could go. Alembic ran off to follow them ‘cause he’s no fun, ’n’ I got to dance ‘round with the lightning. It was tickly, but didn’t hurt at all.

Everyone else ran down the hall to fight the bat guy, ’n’ they yelled back that there were four of ‘em. I wanted to go help, but I had to make sure they weren’t going to get into any more trouble so there was one more trap switch I didn’t recognize so I turned that one off, let the lightning dance around me one more time, got out a handy scroll, ’n’ finally decided to head over to try to help out my friends…

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Session 47, played 02-June-2019

While I was busy stuffin’ my face, Llew mentioned that maybe there’d been some loot on the driders, so I sighed, ’n’ pushed my food away for a few, ’n’ we went out ’n’ searched the driders ’n’ found some decent money ’n’ some scrolls ’n’ wands Alembic ’n’ I split. I’d’ve been more mad ‘bout missin’ my dinner ‘cept I got a wand that’d make my eyes hot so anything I looked at caught on fire, and if that isn’t the best gift a gnome could have I don’t know what is!
So I was OK missin’ my dinner, even when we had to go through the slimy worm’s slimy den ’n’ dig ‘round for stuff in his mess, ’n’ that was nasty but had more scrolls ’n’ wands. Which is kind o’ funny if you think ‘bout it, ‘cause you have to be able to see to use a scroll, ’n’ it’s always dark around here, so why have ‘em, but I guess everythin’ ‘round here can see in the dark, so it doesn’t much matter to ‘em.

So I went through my maze ’n’ found my bed ’n’ slept as long as I wanted to, but once I was up I could tell I didn’t even need to pray yet so I asked the servants ’n’ I’d only slept ‘bout 3 hours, so I had my servants carry me ‘round like a queen for a while, then I had them blindfold me ’n’ hide me in the maze, then I started wonderin’ why anyone would want to not sleep ‘cause it’s BORING!!!!! It finally came time to pray so I got some spells ’n’ then it was breakfast time ’n’ I wasn’t hungry, either. But I ate anyway ‘cause I love eatin’ ’n’ I think now that the ring’s started workin’ I’m going to hate it even more.

We traveled for most o’ the day with Llew leadin’ the way, but ‘parently there were lots ’n’ lots o’ undead tracks goin’ every which way, so every time it was time to choose a new passage Llew was hard-pressed to pick one, ’n’ it seemed like they’d been searchin’ for somethin’, but who knows what ‘cause undead. Eventually Llew had to admit she really didn’t know which passage to choose, so I suggested we choose one randomly ’n’ they DID!!! Now I knew that times were desperate! But this one led pretty quickly back to Alembic’s mansion. Something fishy was going on here! Forth started tryin’ to draw a map (note to self: Get better paper for signs ’n’ maps), but it happened again: We went in the right-hand passage and came out the middle passage right by the mansion. We started thinkin’ there might be some kind o’ illusion here, so Llew put True Seein’ on herself ’n’ she said that sure enough, we’d been walkin’ ‘round all day in one big giant room with a bunch o’ illusory walls to keep us goin’ in circles forever.

What a fun idea!

So Llew pointed to the wall that she said was an illusion ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic walked through it easily ’n’ I bumped my head on it. I thought gnomes were s’posed to be good with illusions?!?! I guess it’s “good at gettin’ fooled by ‘em”, which is kind o’ my life anyway. Since I was stuck ’n’ couldn’t get through the wall myself (good illusion!), Forth made me cover my eyes ’n’ he started carryin’ me. (Note to self: Buy spurs and a riding crop.) Llew started bein’ a good tour guide ’n’ all ’n’ described the room to me as the three o’ them carried me in: It was a giant room, too far across to see all the way, ’n’ the floor was all rocky, ’n’ now the rocks in the floor were attackin’ us, ’n’.. what now?

So there was a lot o’ yellin’ ’n’ I opened my eyes ’n’ dropped off o’ Forth just in time for a pair o’ big earthy fists to come out o’ the wall ’n’ punch me in the head and it hurt. Then Alembic did his Dimension Door thingy but somethin’ went wrong ’n’ it was stingy ’n’ I ended up bein’ next to Llew ’n’ one o’ the giant rocky guys ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic were nowhere in sight. What the heck, Alembic? So I used Shieldy on myself just so I wouldn’t get pounded on so much but the big guy hit me some more and I figured it was time to start doin’ some real dancin’. Llew said they were earth elementals ’n’ I wouldn’t be able to hurt ‘em, ’n’ I figured as much, but at least now I had an excuse to defend myself. Llew started hittin’ the big guy, ’n’ then Alembic came tumblin’ through all the walls ’n’ got beaten on by the big guy, and that image was enough to totally break my brain ’n’ suddenly the walls turned see-through ’n’ I could see ‘bout a dozen more earth elementals headin’ our way. ’N’ it was my job to stop ‘em, ‘cause otherwise Llew was goin’ to get pounded into jelly! Alembic put some kind o’ spell on her, but I didn’t think it was goin’ to help against that many.

I went full-on dance mode, dodged big guy’s attack, strode up in front o’ the line o’ elementals, ’n’ told ‘em in Celestial that if they were goin’ to try to hurt Llew, they’d have to get through me first! It was a great speech. ‘Cept I don’t think anyone in the room understood a word I was sayin’. ’N’ cursin’ in Celestial’s no fun at all. Who wants to yell out, “Sweet-cheeked cherub poots?”
That’s not a curse! That’s an embarrassment! Give me Goblin for cursin’ any day!

Anyhoo, Llew killed the big guy, ‘cause it’s what Llew does, ’n’ it was lookin’ good for us ‘cause all I had to do was keep these guys swingin’ at ’n’ missin’ me. ‘Cept they didn’t read the script ’n’ they just burrowed right through me, knockin’ me to the ground! That’s not fair! Just ‘cause you weigh ten tons and I’m a bit under one doesn’t mean you can knock me ‘round like that!

‘Cept it does. They knew I wasn’t a threat, so those as could just went right past me, and those as couldn’t just haphazardly swung around hopin’ they’d accidentally hit me when I dodged the wrong way. Alembic, havin’ been hit, went Invisible on us but at least I could hear him up in the air still castin’. I got up ’n’ headed over to help Llew, pullin’ out Llew’s wand on the way, ’n’ Llew managed to kill another one, but both of us got hit some more ’n’ it was lookin’ pretty grim. ‘Cept Alembic managed to Stoneskin both of us ’n’ that helped a LOT, ’n’ then Forth showed up ’n’ started poundin’ ’n’ that helped even more, ’n’ finally Alembic started Fireballing ‘em all ’n’ that let Llew ’n’ Forth kill ‘em even faster. I moved out to keep ‘em away from Llew, makin’ sure they were all swingin’ at me (’n’ missin’), ’n’ that let Llew ’n’ Forth reposition as Alembic Lightninged them. One more trip through the bunch for me to keep ‘em swingin’ ’n’ the rest o’ the party brought ‘em down.

I don’t think I chipped a single pebble off a single elemental, but I was still feelin’ pretty good ‘bout my performance. Forth started channeling to heal us up, but we noticed one elemental still standin’ at the other door. I cast Comprehend Languages ’n’ I could finally understand him, but all he was sayin’ was, “You’re not allowed through the door,” which wasn’t all that useful. I finally had to pull out my old scroll o’ Tongues, ’n’ we learned they’d all been summoned ’n’ bound here to keep people from gettin’ through the room, ’n’ they kind o’ liked the work, ‘cept all of them ‘cept this guy were now dead so I s’posed they probably didn’t like it as much. After discussin’ it a bit with the elemental, we Dimension Doored past him ’n’ he thanked us for not makin’ him fight us, ’n’ I decided I liked him. But I wasn’t gonna name him, ‘cause I was thinkin’ things I name have a tendency of dyin’, ’n’ I wanted him to have a long ’n’ happy life guardin’ his door.

We started walkin’ onwards ’n’ Alembic mentioned that I could speak in any gibberish I wanted, ’n’ as long as Tongues was up everyone would understand me anyway, so I tried it ’n’ it was all kinds o’ fun! So after ‘bout an hour I think people might’ve been gettin’ tired of my constant stream of yammerin’ just to see whether I could come up with a whole new language before the spell wore off, but they were polite enough not to throttle me ’n’ they said they heard Undercommon up ahead. Like I’d know! I could suddenly understand everything! I’m gonna need another one o’ these scrolls!

Anyhoo, since someone else was tryin’ to talk I decided to be quiet for a bit ’n’ listen in, ’n’ it was two people talkin’ to a “drider scum”. From what I could tell, they’d caught the drider tryin’ to sneak into their camp ’n’ they were goin’ to torture her for information then kill her. So, I didn’t particularly love driders, but really, if you don’t like someone, just give ‘em a quick, clean death; don’t torture ‘em or soak ‘em in acid ’til they die a screaming, miserable death of agony or anythin’ like that. Just kill ‘em ’n’ be done with it. So me ’n’ Forth went forward, ‘cause o’ course Forth wants to talk to everybody, ’n’ I think he’d try to negotiate with Rovagug himself before tryin’ to kill him, but I love him for it ’n’ it meant I wouldn’t be alone.

So we stepped forward so we could see the talkers ’n’ they could see us, ’n’ it was a pair o’ dirty dwarves, ’n’ that’s not an expletive or anythin’, it’s just that their skin was darker’n anythin’ I’d seen before in a dwarf, so I just kind o’ assumed. They recognized Forth as kin, and so as not to be distracted just put the drider out of its misery. I appreciated the thought, though I don’t know how Forth felt about that kind o’ thing.

Anyhoo, it was the same old, same old. Forth said he was happy to meet ‘em ’n’ hoped he didn’t have to kill ‘em ’n’ such, ‘cause no matter how charmin’ he’s tryin’ to be he always has to add that, “Hope I don’t have to kill you,” bit that tends to put people off. So they liked me more’n they liked Forth, but that was OK, ‘cause it didn’t look like we’d have to kill ‘em anyway. They were worshippers o’ Mogrim, which Forth said was kind o’ like a dwarven Pharasma ‘cept Lawful instead o’ Neutral ‘cause dwarves. You’d think that with all their Lawfulness ’n’ such you’d see more dwarven worshippers o’ Asmodeus, but I don’t recall seein’ a one in my time at the orphanage.

We started off with polite chit-chat ‘bout other creatures passin’ through ’n’ the earth elementals ’n’ such, but they weren’t all that concerned ’n’ they’d deal with the elementals now that they knew they were there. We asked about the Mother o’ Wights ’n’ her undead army, ’n’ they said she’d been through ’n’ they’d kicked her butt ’n’ sent her on her way, but I’ve learned to look for Llew’s little, “This bugger is lyin’” signal, ’n’ there it was, so I knew they’d gotten THEIR butts kicked. Sure enough, the whole gateway to go deeper into the Darklands had its towers destroyed, ’n’ it looked like there’d been a huge battle ’n’ a lotta dead dwarves.

So they didn’t mind us passin’ through to take on the Mother o’ Wights, but we’d have to pay a “tithe” just to make it right ’n’ proper, ’n’ apparently the “tithe” was to buy a drink at the bar. Hey, a tithe even I could handle! So we went to the tavern, ’n’ I ordered somethin’ on fire so he gave me a drink that burned my eyebrows off so I was happy, ’n’ we got some food that wasn’t quite as bad as the dwarven food on the surface, but that was probably ‘cause they had less of a choice of dirt-flavored ingredients they could mix together ’n’ call “food”.
One I wasn’t burnin’ I turned on Calistria’s eyes ’n’ started tryin’ to charm the barkeep to get more information ‘bout the fight, ’n’ it worked a bit. The barkeep told us that it’d been an ugly, ugly fight, ’n’ the Mother o’ Wights’d been there, along with a handful o’ liches ’n’ a few vampires. Just ugliness all around, all right.

Once we were done payin’ our tithe, we rented a cabin for the night ’n’ then went over to the temple o’ Mogrim ’n’ met the cleric there. Llew said somethin’ weird ‘bout it remindin’ her o’ the temple o’ Pharasma in Logas before we’d rescued Father Farrington, but the place didn’t make me feel homesick at all. We were polite, but it was a really short visit, ’n’ the cleric said we’d really ought to talk to the king, so we bid our farewells. Once we were out o’ earshot, Llew said that the temple wasn’t sanctified and that wasn’t a real cleric ’n’ maybe he was a simulacrum ’n’ oooooooh… THAT’S what she meant!

So now we were on our guard ’n’ we decided to go see the king to see whether HE was a simulacrum, ‘cause that’d be BAD. ‘Cept we didn’t really have a way to prove whether or not he was a simulacrum other than killin’ him, ’n’ I think offhand regicide isn’t on the paladin’s “I can do that” list.

We wandered over to the king’s palace ’n’ knocked on the door ’n’ met the king ’n’ he wasn’t very king-like. In fact, he reminded me a lot o’ Heddy: He didn’t know what was goin’ on, he got all worried when we mentioned the temple, ’n’ he assured us everythin’ was fine, then admitted he needed some help cleanin’ out the sewers ‘cause they were full o’ undead. He believed Llew right out when she said that she thought the priest wasn’t a priest, ’n’ he admitted they’d been hurt worse’n some’d like to let on, so some people weren’t fully “qualified” for the jobs they were doin’. He showed us over to the sewers, ’n’ I was most impressed with the ease with which I could’ve picked the lock ’n’ let the undead out. Good thing I didn’t think it’d be a funny joke. But Llew looked down there ’n’ got that look on her face that meant she was thinkin’, ’n’ she told us the undead down there were “mohrgs”, guys who used their intestines like tentacly tongues ’n’ grabbed you ’n’ paralyzed you ’n’ killed you ’n’ raised you as zombies under the mohrg’s control. ‘Cause an undead not bein’ right disgustin’ isn’t a real undead at all. ’N’ ‘cause Llew likes tellin’ us this kind o’ stuff, I learned that they were serial murderers who were publicly executed before gettin’ a chance to atone, so they went back to killin’ after they were dead.

So, considerin’ all the ways bad people become undead, it really seems like the safest thing to do with ‘em all is just keep a gateway to the plane o’ positive energy open all the time ’n’ just chuck ‘em in there, like an undead garbage dump!

I traded Heddy II a vomit capsule in exchange for the keys to the sewers, ’n’ I pretended I’d need ‘em ‘cause I’m polite like that, ’n’ Llew scanned him as he walked away ’n’ sensed that he was Chaotic Evil.

I wanted my vomit capsule back!

We decided we’d better tour the rest o’ the city, ’n’ pretty soon knew we weren’t in such a nice place when we found a temple to Rovagug himself there. ‘Cept just like the temple to Mogrim, it wasn’t sanctified (unsanctified?), wasn’t bein’ used, ’n’ the cleric was a fake. I first looked at ‘im with my gloves, then Forth confronted him ’n’ he admitted that the king’d told him to do it to “keep up appearances”, which is kind o’ stupid if “appearances” is “worship the god that wants to bring about the end of all life in the universe”.

Somethin’ in this town is really weird, and for once it isn’t me!

The rest o’ the town was a lot more normal: A work area with lots o’ smithin’ areas, a cistern, ’n’ then I realized: Where were all the women?!?!?! Forth looked kind o’ aghast, ’n’ Llew told me I’d already talked to a few, ’n’ I had NO IDEA! While I was gettin’ giggled at for that, Llew spotted Not Heddy II headin’ over to talk to the cleric, so I tried to sneak over ’n’ listen in, but they stopped talkin’ when I got near, which was pretty suspicious in ’n’ of itself ‘cause when I don’t want to be seen, nobody sees me, so they had some kind o’ mystical sense that dwarves shouldn’t have. I left.

We went back to the cabin to discuss our options: The town was fishy as all get-out, but I wasn’t quite ready to just kill everyone in town ‘cause they confused me. That’s Alembic’s job. ’N’ undead are undead, so killin’ ‘em’s Llew’s job. ‘Cept if we went down there with the townsfolk still alive, we could pretty much expect the grating to get locked down ’n’ maybe sealed over once we were inside, ‘cause the townsfolk just seemed that evil. ’N’ considerin’ what’d happened the last time Alembic’d tried to teleport us somewhere, I didn’t want to have to rely on teleportation to get out of anywhere in the Darklands unless Alembic could see it.

Before we decided anythin’ else, includin’ tactics, Alembic decided we needed more privacy so he made one o’ his mansion things right there in the middle o’ the cabin, ’n’ I think it was probably ‘cause he’n’ Llew are the only really tall ones ’n’ he didn’t want to sleep in the dwarven bunkbeds ’n’ didn’t want her to have to, either, but it also gave us some privacy. So we sat down in the mansion ’n’ kept talkin’. Llew didn’t think the dwarves were simulacrums, but they sure as heck weren’t actin’ like dwarves, either. ’N’ we couldn’t just kill ‘em all for being weird ’n’ evil, ‘cause that’d open up a whole new can o’ worms. Like Old Guy. He was weird ’n’ evil. Should we go back ’n’ kill him? ‘Cause I liked him.

Anyhoo, we decided we’d go ahead ’n’ clear the sewers first, ‘cause that’d give the fake dirty dwarves a chance to double-cross us so we could kill ‘em all justified-like, ’n’ we started castin’ buffs ’n’ then I noticed a little dwarven girl with big eyes wavin’ at me. See? I can tell! ‘Cept I could see through her! So I first made sure everyone else could see her and I wasn’t bein’ illusioned again, ‘cause I’m bad at that, ’n’ then I asked her who she was ’n’ what she needed ’n’ why she was hauntin’ Alembic’s mansion (which I honestly thought was pretty funny, actually) ’n’ all that.

Her name was Melissa, which is a really sweet name for a ghost, ’n’ she wanted vengeance for her death. Well, considerin’ I’d been itchin’ for a reason to kill all the fake dwarves ’n’ undead ’n’ just be done with it, I told her I’d be eager to help. ’N’ she said I was nice, which was kind o’ funny considerin’ I’d just agreed to kill a bunch o’ people for her. The Mother of Wights had shown up with a powerful army of undead ’n’ murdered her entire family, herself included, ’n’ she’d been turned into a ghost until her murder could be avenged.

Can do, Melissa! Can do!

Trouble was, Melissa went on to tell us that the Mother o’ Wights had killed ALL the dwarves; there were none left. Little creepy crawlies that Alembic identified as “intellect devourers” had come along, found all the corpses, turned ‘em into their puppets, ’n’ were now pretendin’ to be a dwarven town with an inn, just so they could take over people’s brains ’n’ eat ‘em (the brains, not the people) once everyone was asleep.

For once, I was happy ‘bout my ring.

And now, it was time to kill everythin’ in town.

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Session 46, Played 26-May-2019

It didn’t take us long to figure out what came “next”. We wandered down the passage for about 10 minutes, then Forth told us it was openin’ up into another big room, ’n’ all of us could hear the creakin’ ’n’ grindin’ that told us we’d found the livin’ siege engines. Sure enough, as we got closer to the entrance, we spotted one of ‘em moseying about, happy as, er, an undead animated siege engine could be?

We talked for a bit ‘bout what to do, since Old Guy’d told us not to fight the siege engines if we didn’t have to, so I figured the best thing to do was see whether they could sense me if I was hidin’. Alembic thought that was a great idea! I could go out, sneak past ‘em all, put up a light, ’n’ Alembic could teleport to the light ’n’ get away from the things. Sounded like a typical Alembic, “I hope I don’t get huuuuuuuuuurt!” plan, which made it sound hilarious, ‘cause it always leads to him gettin’ beaten up ’n’ bloody ’n’ sad, ’n’ that makes me giggle. ‘Cause I’m a bad person.

Anyhoo, Alembic wanted to help me with his “plan”, so he turned me invisible, an’ I figured the least I could do was go along with it ’til it went horribly horribly wrong, so I snuck out ’n’ much to my surprise, the siege engines couldn’t sense me. So I kept on going ‘round the outside o’ the room ’til I saw a biiiiiig opening, ‘cept it looked like a dead end back ‘bout thirty feet in, ’n’ I figured Alembic wouldn’t see the humor in makin’ him teleport in there. So I kept going ’til I found a real exit, then I found a good spot where I was sure it’d be lit up for Alembic, then I cracked a sunrod, dropped it, ’n’ ran for all I was worth.

Sure ‘nough, the constructs got all uppity ’n’ smashed my sunrod ’n’ that thing cost money, ya big ingrates! But I’d been carryin’ it for months ’n’ not usin’ it, so I figured I should let ‘em have their fun. Alembic timed it just about right ’n’ popped in right after they were done smashin’, ’n’ Llew ran up the passage. Forth stuck around ‘cause Forth, ’n’ he knew that if he didn’t Alembic was gonna get smashed somethin’ awful, which was kind o’ what I was lookin’ forward to see, but he did his job ’n’ they smashed him instead so Alembic could get away, then he got away.

Leaving me… in the middle o’ the giant room full o’ constructs with a bunch of ‘em all riled up ’n’ blocking the passage out? This was your “plan”, Alembic? I had to admit, it was pretty funny, ’n’ he’d gotten me good, so I was kind o’ proud o’ him. He’s learnin’.

Anyhoo, since I had the whole room to myself anyway ’n’ the constructs were busy bein’ all smashy somewhere else, I tippy-toed over to the dead-end cave to see whether there were any secret doors there. But as I got close a feelin’ in my head told me it’d be nice to go even farther in and I knew it wasn’t me thinkin’ that, so I skedaddled away before it got a chance to do anythin’ to my tiny little brain, ’n’ I blessed Calistria again for givin’ me a better brain as one o’ her priestesses, then I decided that fun time was over so I drank my potion o’ Spider Climb ’n’ went over the constructs to catch up with the others.

Forth was a little worried ‘bout me, ‘cause he’s sweet that way, but everyone else kind o’ expected that I’d show up when I was good ’n’ ready, ’n’ I did. We walked on a bit, ’n’ we started seein’ decorations like hangin’ skulls ’n’ piled up bones that said, “We’re not very bright, ’n’ we’re going to attack you and get whupped,” but I figured I ought to be polite so I looked at their bones for ‘em. Sure enough, they’d put on an Alarm spell, ‘cause they didn’t have much imagination, so I asked Llew ’n’ Forth whether they wanted me to set it off or disarm it or leave it. They wanted me to disarm it, so I did.

I figured if the denizens were decoratin’ with bones they couldn’t be too bright, so I got out some parchment ’n’ twine ’n’ chalk ’n’ labeled myself “Not Food” in Undercommon. Couldn’t hurt. Might help. And who knows what kind o’ nasty bitey things live down here that might be just bright ‘nough to read ’n’ see the sign ’n’ think, “Oh, that’s not food. I’ll eat that tasty dwarf over there!”
An’ that’s what Forth’s for, after all!

Once we were past the Alarm spell it didn’t take long ’til we spotted a curtain on one side o’ the wall that was disguised to look like rock. I had to admit, for stupid people it was pretty well done. But even Forth saw it, so there’s that. I snuck up and checked it out, ’n’ it wasn’t trapped or anythin’, so I went back ’n’ Forth felt the need to announce himself. I figure it’s some kind o’ paladin thing. Sometimes I gotta relieve myself. Sometimes Forth’s gotta announce himself. It’s just nature’s call.

So Forth announced himself in Common, as he does, ‘cause Undercommon would’ve made sense, but much to my surprise a polite, whispery, evil-soundin’ voice answered ’n’ asked what Forth wanted. So Forth, bein’ Forth, offered not to kill ‘em all if they’d just stay out of our way ’n’ let us through. ‘Cause Forth’s truthful, ’n’ that was pretty much his god’s honest truth right there. But it’s not the kind o’ thing you actually say to other people, ‘cause they get uppity ‘bout it.
So yeah, Evil Whispery Person Who Will Now Be Named Ptango didn’t like that, ’n’ he (she? It? Congratulations, Ptango! You’re a girl!). So she got uppity, ‘cause it’s what they do, ’n’ I started doin’ the charmin’ dance, tellin’ her ‘bout how great ’n’ powerful she ’n’ her “people” were, ’n’ not callin’ ‘em mud-dwellin’ bone-chewin’ morons or anythin’ like that, ’n’ how we wanted to properly honor ‘em with a tithe ’n’ such, ’n’ she got all happy ’n’ said we could leave a gem worth at least 100 gold pieces on the floor ’n’ she’d let us through all peaceful-like.

And then it was Llew’s turn, ’n’ she told us that Ptango was lyin’ right then ’n’ there, so that was useful information ’n’ I appreciated it, but I was going to have to work with the two of ‘em on at least some kind o’ tact, ‘cause now we were goin’ to have to kill Ptango and all her friends, and I’d been hopin’ to get through ONE group o’ people without killin’ ‘em all. ‘Cept we’d gotten through Flubbadoo’s place without killin’ any o’ his people, so I guess askin’ to do it twice was just too much.

I figured I’d at least try to make things funny so I put down a vomit capsule on the floor, hopin’ one o’ Ptango’s friends would get curious ’n’ try it out, but the threats started ’n’ I knew we were ‘bout to fight so I picked it up, then Alembic said he’d put down a gem and could we please not fight?

Sounded just like Alembic, so I totally fell for it… right until he put Stoneskin on all of us ’n’ started the fight in earnest. Ah, well. At least I tried to keep Ptango’s people alive. She couldn’t take me to task on that one. So I used Shieldy to protect myself.

In concrete proof we were fightin’ the stupidest critters capable o’ communication, they cast some spells that lit us up so we could see better. Er, “ow”? Then Ptango shot me with some Magic Missiles that bounced off o’ my Shield spell. Forth said that that was it, he was gonna kill ‘em all, ’n’ Ptango argued that she’d heard me cast a spell and figured I’d be safe. Forth wasn’t buyin’ it, but it at least showed they weren’t quite as stupid as I was thinkin’. Alembic decided it was killin’ time so he sped us up, ’n’ since I wasn’t doin’ much useful I used my magic to open the curtain for Forth. Behind it was definitely a lady, ‘cept she was all purple-skinned ’n’ had the bottom half of a spider. Then the curtain fell back closed ‘cause I really hadn’t thought that one through all that well ’n’ I figured it was just goin’ to be one o’ those fights where I ran around and didn’t do a heck of a lot.

Llew was gettin’ tired of all of us not killin’ things that needed killin’, so she walked up ’n’ cut down the curtain. At which point the spidery lady (which Llew called a “drider”, which gets really fun when you say, “Spidery Dridery Lady”) blurted out, “Oh my goodness! Thank you! You have freed me!”

I wouldn’t’ve thought much of it ‘cept Forth BELIEVED HER!!!! I almost fell over laughin’. Llew’s eyes bugged out from behind her spectacles and I was wonderin’ whether she was gonna kill Forth or the drider, ‘cause they both pretty much deserved it for that little farce. But the drider tried to run away so Llew gave it a good whack ’n’ once it was in the clear it turned around and hit her with some kind o’ spell that didn’t do anythin’ cause Llew ’n’ we were finally havin’ a real fight ‘stead of a “who can tell the worst lie?” fight. Which was good for the driders ‘cause I’d’ve won the lying one hands-down. So I ran on in and zapped it with Sparky, ’n’ Llew came on in and killed it, ’n’ we were still waitin’ to see what Forth was gonna do ‘bout all this, when Alembic started firin’ lightning all up ’n’ down the halls ’n’ tellin’ us there were more of ‘em in the main hall ’n’ why weren’t we in there helpin’ him instead of up a little side hall chasin’ a lone drider?

So I went back into the hall ’n’ started tryin’ to head for Ms. “I started it all” Ptango, but I found another curtain ’n’ Forth came along to cut it down for me. Behind it was another drider. But Ptango called out to all her sisters that we’d declared war on ‘em or some such ’n’ we heard a LOT more comin’. I was hopin’ Llew ’n’ Alembic would follow us, but they were busy buffin’ up to deal with all the reinforcements. So it looked like no one felt like leavin’ ’til this was dealt with.

Yep. That’s us. Diplomatic ’til it fails. Then genocide. Sorry, driders! We tried!

The driders started comin’ in bigger numbers, ’n’ I learned they could cast lightning too ‘cause they lightninged Llew ’n’ Alembic, ’n’ I figured that was pretty much all she wrote for their chances; beatin’ on Forth’s all well ’n’ good, ’n’ I don’t take bein’ hit all that personally, but if you’re gonna hit Llew and Alembic you’re just askin’ to die in some awful way. That usually involves acid ’n’ hitting. Alembic decided to show off ’n’ prove he was better’n them by walling off the ones that were comin’ up behind us from the way we came ’n’ then lightninging all the ones that were gatherin’ in front of us, in a massive, “Eew it smells like burnt spider!” moment. The driders didn’t seem to enjoy it much, either. Since they were all sizzly now, Forth walked up ’n’ killed one. But the ones behind us still wanted to die, so they broke a hole in Alembic’s wall ’n’ started lightninging him even more. Now the hall smelled like burning Alembic. And if I have to be honest, I think I liked the burning spider smell better. I sighed. I was gonna have to decide between my scroll o’ Heal ’n’ my scroll o’ Breath of Life. Please don’t make me use Breath o’ Life on Alembic, Calistria! PLEASE!!!

Alembic threw lightning back at them ‘cause I guess that was the spell o’ the day and I totally missed the notice, but that was OK ‘cause I don’t think I can cast lightning anyway. I don’t know; I never really paid attention. Then he ran over to Forth ’n’ started begging for healing, ’n’ did somethin’ else. Since he touched Llew ’n’ Forth while he was doin’ it, I figured he was probably protectin’ them from lightning. ‘Cause it was that kind o’ day.

Llew ran up to the last two we could see in front of us ’n’ I ran up to help ’n’ provide her a flank, and they totally ignored me ’n’ attacked Llew. So yep, didn’t look like I’d be doin’ much today. Llew killed the one I was helpin’ her flank ’n’ the other one, so I started healing her, ’n’ Forth healed Alembic ’n’ Alembic threw more lightnin’ to kill all but one ’n’ Forth ran down ’n’ got the last one ’n’ it seemed like we were finally out o’ driders to kill when we heard somethin’ really huge squeezin’ down the passage from whence we’d come. What now?

There was a giant wave of sickly green slimy stuff that covered Forth ’n’ Alembic, ’n’ from the sizzlin’ ’n’ the smell I was pretty sure it was acid. I couldn’t see what’d spit it, but Forth ’n’ Alembic said it was a huge worm, ‘cept it talked in their heads ’n’ told ‘em it was gonna kill ‘em for killing its driders. Yeah, that’s the trouble with the Darklands: Everything’s nasty ’n’ bitey ’n’ tries to kill you, then you kill ‘em ’n’ you learn they were someone else’s pet. Alembic put up a Force Wall to try to keep it away, ’n’ Llew told me to start up my wand o’ Lesser Restoration ‘cause Forth needed it, then ran down the hall to join Forth ’n’ Alembic. I didn’t see any reason to follow ‘em, so I stood there at the end of the hall, well out o’ danger, got out my wand, and set to work tryin’ to Restore Forth.

‘Cept then I decided it would be better to go even farther down the hall ’n’ hide ‘round the corner, ‘cause that’s the way my brain works. So I stopped castin’ ’n’ went around the corner ’n’ walked RIGHT INTO THE WORM!!!! Stupid thing was the thing that’d tried to talk in my head before, but this time it’d worked!!! I barely had time to start dancin’ before Forth… yes, FORTH!!!… came runnin’ up the hall faster’n any dwarf I’ve ever seen, got whacked by the worm for his troubles (did I mention it had tentacles?), ’n’ tried to save me! It was SOOOOOOO sweet! If he’d been a gnome, or even a little more shaven… OK, a LOT more shaven, I might’ve rewarded him with a kiss. ‘Cept we were both about to be eaten by a giant tentacly worm ’n’ my lips aren’t goin’ anywhere near that beard, so I didn’t. All my dancin’ and Forth’s nobility didn’t mean diddly ’n’ the worm pounded on me ’til I was sure my ears were bleedin’, ’n’ I think the only reason I was alive was ‘cause of Alembic’s Stoneskin, but I’d never admit it to him. The tentacles tried to grab me, too, but if there’s one thing they teach you at the temple, it’s how NOT to be grabbed by giant animated tentacles, because apparently it’s a “thing”, so it didn’t get a hold of me.

I danced some more and ran away ’n’ it couldn’t hit me ‘cause I was too dodgy so I heard it tell me in my head to die, ’n’ I didn’t want to so I didn’t but it still hurt a lot more ’n’ I was pretty surprised I was still on my feet, but at least I was pissing it off ’n’ keeping everyone else safe. That part made me feel pretty good. So all my dancin’ and orneriness let Llew ’n’ Forth get at it ’n’ they started beating it up somethin’ awful, ’n’ Alembic kept casting spells that didn’t work ‘cause that’s what he does against big monsters, ’n’ I ran ’n’ hid ‘cause I figured its next spell’d probably kill me but then I heard Forth kill it ’n’ I felt better. Llew came runnin’ round the corner to check on me ’n’ make sure I was OK, ’n’ it was really sweet ’n’ she doesn’t have a beard, but she’s a girl, so…
…anyhoo, she ruffled my hair ’n’ I didn’t mention she’d probably just ripped open half a dozen holes from the beatin’ ’n’ Forth healed us up ’n’ I used Llew’s wand to heal myself up the rest o’ the way, then Alembic summoned his mansion so we could rest ’n’ I ate like a pig ‘cause I was really hungry ’n’ tired.

Stupid ring!

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Session 45, Played 19-May-2019

Seein’ as how the last door/archway had had that weird spell on it that I couldn’t sense, I asked Alembic to check out the door. He didn’t sense anythin’, and I didn’t see any traps, so he went ahead and tried to cast a spell to open it. Which always makes me giggle ‘cause it was locked ’n’ had a pretty fancy little lock on it. The kind o’ lock where you look at it and you think, “Wow, if that lock was a gnome, I’d date him!”
‘Cause he was worth a lotta lotta money.

Trouble was, he wasn’t a gnome, he was a lock, so I just opened him. No hard feelings, Mr. Lock, but I just don’t swing that way. The door did. Or at least it swung open once I unlocked it. Beyond the door was the nicest bit o’ underground I’ve ever seen; all tiled and marble ’n’ nice-like, with torches makin’ it nice ’n’ dimly lit, which was really nice after all that time in the dark. A really pleasant, polite male voice that just oozed Lawful Evilness (I can tell those things, ‘cause I was raised by Asmodeans) didn’t even take the time to greet us, ‘cause he was too surprised that I’d just opened his lock that easily. Well, if you want a lock, you hire a dwarf. If you want an unlock, you hire a gnome. It’s really that easy. But I didn’t think that was the explanation he wanted, so I let him ask more questions ’til he got to more interestin’ ones. While he was talkin’, we could finally make him out at the end o’ the hall, and he looked like nothin’ so much as a butler.

Finally, he asked how we’d gotten into the derro pens, which was a fun story, so I told him we’d come through an archway ’n’ gotten there, ’n’ he cursed ‘cause the derros’d dug their way out again, but asked how we got through the arch. Since I knew Forth wouldn’t lie about it, I figured I’d do him a solid so I told the guy we’d walked right through. I don’t know whether or not he believed me, but Alembic reassured him that the spell that kept ‘em in was still there, so he got a little less rankled ’til I told him we’d had to kill a few on our way in, and that made him kind o’ mad. But I’ve dealt with Lawful Evil types all my life; if you walk through their rice silo they’re going to go in an’ count the grains to make sure you aren’t robbing ‘em blind by walkin’ out with grains o’ rice stuck to the bottom o’ your shoes, so I figured we might as well get the accountin’ and the possible-but-necessary killin’ out o’ the way, which was kind o’ sad, ‘cause he seemed like a decent sort, other than bein’ obviously evil and all that. ‘Cause underground butlers who’re unduly polite when you walk into their pantries are always evil. Everyone knows that!

Then he pointed to the other doors and I realized my comparison to pantries was for more apt than I’d been hopin’ for: There were doors labeled “mushrooms”, which was OK, ‘cept it make me think o’ dwarven breakfasts ’n’ I nearly threw up, which probably would’ve been funny right then ’n’ there, but then one labeled “shriekers”, which I hoped was just extra-noisy food, ‘cept other doors were labeled “derro pens” so it was kind o’ obvious that we were standin’ in the worst-ever pettin’ zoo or somethin’ fishy was up.

Lawful Evil butler, anyone?

Anyhoo, dealin’ with angry Lawful Evil people is what I do, so I stepped up and apologized so nicely ’n’ he said he’d consult the master ’n’ I figured we could either run or talk but we hadn’t killed THAT many derros ’n’ I’d heard plenty more so I could probably talk us out of it with some hard labor or somethin’ similarly borin’ but non-fatal. So we stood ‘round for a few minutes ’n’ I didn’t vandalize anythin’ ‘cause I didn’t want to pay for it ’n’ I was tryin’ to be charmin’. The butler finally got back ’n’ asked us real nice-like to follow him, so we did, ’n’ he led us into a big room with a bunch o’ huntin’ trophies on the wall, most o’ which I didn’t recognize, but I didn’t think much of it ‘cause I don’t recognize a lot o’ things. As the butler was leadin’ us in, Llew whispered back to us that we had to be really careful, but I wasn’t worried. I figured we’d apologize, we’d pay some stupid fine or do some stupid job, ’n’ we’d be free to go. Lawful Evil people’re easy to figure out; you just gotta know the rules, and occasionally follow ‘em. Just not often enough to let ‘em get used to it.

In the big room with all the big dead critters was a big ol’ table with three people at the end: A man with a quill, a woman with a quill, an’ a shriveled up desiccated dead guy. Oops! He moved! Not dead! Just really really really old! I was thinkin’ o’ castin’ Deathwatch just to be sure, but I figured that’d probably be considered rude, ’n’ I was tryin’ to be polite. The old guy did the usual Lawful Evil stuff: He wanted to know why we were in his house, ’n’ what we were plannin’ on doin’, ’n’ so forth, so Forth told him about us chasin’ the Mother o’ Wights ’n’ after a bit o’ remindin’ he remembered her ’n’ how she’d invaded his home ’n’ he’d had to chase her out. Note to self: Do not piss off old guy.

So, the old guy admitted that the derro were their food and we were goin’ to have to pay for them, so he wanted to know how many we killed ’n’ all that, so I turned on Calistria’s eyes ’n’ tried to charm him into lettin’ us off with a warnin’ or a slap on the wrist, ‘cause we were chasin’ the Mother o’ Wights ’n’ all ’n’ we could exact revenge for him on his behalf for her rudeness, but he was either too old or too Lawful for that, so he wanted to know how many adults ’n’ kids we’d killed, ’n’ I knew I hadn’t killed any kids but Alembic’s kind o’ free with his acid pits ’n’ all, ’n’ I hadn’t really checked, so all I could say was I thought we’d killed 6, and the one I’d killed hadn’t looked much like a kid.

So his little quill-keepers started doin’ their thing, pretendin’ they were workin’ out how much a derro was worth, ’n’ I know that game ‘cause I was raised by Asmodeans ’n’ he was already thinkin’ of a price so they were just puttin’ on a show to make us nervous, but I didn’t really care ‘cause it was either pay or kill him or do a job, ’n’ other than not feelin’ much like killin’ him ‘cause he’d been awfully polite ’til now I really didn’t have a preference. So, he looked at Alembic ’n’ wanted his Ring of Sustenance. I KNEW IT! I knew mine didn’t work! I’d’ve offered it to him but he’d’ve known, ‘cause he was old and old people know things like that. Then he started complimentin’ us, ‘cause it’s part o’ the Lawful Evil ritual, ’n’ he said that Forth was a paladin ’n’ Llew was an undead hunter ’n’ Alembic was a sorcerer, ’n’ I was a diplomat, ‘cause he couldn’t figure anythin’ else out ‘cause I had a clerical aura, but not enough of one to notice.

I’d better pray some more. Or not. I don’t know that Calistria cares about that kind o’ stuff.

Anyhoo, he finally got around to the job: Their water supply’d been cut off, kind of explainin’ their desire for Rings o’ Sustenance. I felt kind o’ bad ‘cause I knew that Calistria’d offered to have me be able to make water that mornin’, but I hadn’t understood the exact nature o’ that spell ’til now. Guess I’d better take it. Anyway, anythin’ that happens underground is bad, so they figured it’d be dangerous to go find out what blocked it, hence they were sendin’ us. Seemed like a typical Lawful Evil thing to me. ‘Cept he said that if the job was tougher than he expected he’d reimburse us, which was awfully non-Asmodean of him. I mentioned that, ’n’ he got all interested and asked whether I was Asmodean, ’n’ I was truthful ’n’ told him I was just raised by ‘em and tend to irritate them just by bein’ around. He could understand that. Most Lawful Evil types can.

Finally, he warned us ‘bout the arches: They turned people into farm animals. And for Lawful Evil, they really didn’t come off as all that evil. They had the derro go through the arches before they ate ‘em, so it was kind o’ like eatin’ steak, ‘cept you were destroyin’ the mind of a sentient creature to do it. ‘Cept it was derro minds, so are you really destroyin’ anything? Since Forth wasn’t all up in arms ‘bout it, I figured killin’ derro wasn’t all that bad of a thing. Though I still felt bad ‘bout whoever killed the kid. Hoped it wasn’t me. I was pretty sure it wasn’t, but still, you worry ‘bout that stuff.

Llew asked ‘bout the arches, ’n’ old guy gave us an amulet that supposedly’d protect us. I wasn’t 100% sure, and I didn’t want to test it out. Then the butler started leadin’ us to the problem. He had to lead us through the house, and it was right fine mansion, even if it was deep underground. If I had to live down here, this is the kind o’ house I’d want to live in. Lots o’ furniture to climb on, and artwork to deface, and chandeliers to swing from, ’n’ doors I didn’t know where they went, ’n’ so forth. Llew wanted to know the butler’s name, but he didn’t have one, so I decided to call him “Mitch”. Mitch wasn’t particularly thrilled, but he didn’t stop me. Llew asked about the master’s name, and I figured that had to be the old guy, so I suggested “Flubbadoo”, but Mitch nixed that one. Mitch is a good name for a butler. So Llew tried to make conversation with Mitch, ’n’ we learned that he was almost 100 years old ’n’ had been doin’ this his entire life. Heck, I’m 52 and I’d been doin’ it for under 15 minutes ’n’ I was bored, so Mitch had my respect for that. Not Flubbadoo was even older, ’n’ he’d been exiled here before Mitch was born. But Not Flubbadoo takes longer to say than Old Guy, so for now he’ll be Old Guy.

We finally got to the water supply ’n’ it was kind o’ smart, but kind o’ dumb. A stream was s’posed to pass over a grating, filling a cistern in the floor. So when the water was runnin’ you could drink from the stream, ’n’ when the water wasn’t you could drink from the cistern. But the stream’d been cut off for ‘bout a week or so, ’n’ they were already almost out o’ water. I’d’ve made the cistern a lot bigger just in case stuff like this happened. So our choices were to go upstream or go downstream, ’n’ everyone else was sensible ’n’ wanted to go upstream. No sense of curiosity!

We headed up the passage, which was plenty wide; at least 5’, so I could’ve had friends, but everyone else was feelin’ cramped so they had me go in front, since I could still move ‘round. Once we were out o’ Mitch’s earshot, Forth ’n’ Llew started worryin’ that the water cut-off ’n’ the tremors that accompanied it happened ‘bout a week ago, right when we opened the door the first time, but I figured I would’ve sensed any earthquakes my meddlin’ had ‘caused, ‘cause it’s the kind o’ thing I appreciate. Llew wanted Alembic to look at the magic o’ the amulet ’n’ wanted me to read it, so Alembic said it was an Arcane Mark, which sounds pretty cool but was apparently pretty borin’, ’n’ the amulet said, “Exiles from the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune”, which made me like ‘em even more, ‘cause anyone who could tick off the Asmodeans that much ’n’ not be dead must be pretty clever.

Anyhoo, I got to the end o’ the passage ’n’ it looked like a cave-in all right, and for a gnome to know that means it was pretty obvious. I used Spidey on myself ’n’ walked up the wall, ‘cause gnomes and sudden floods don’t mix, especially without a Ring of Swimmin’, ’n’ Llew thought that was a good idea so she drank a potion (I guess she felt bad that I complained when she asked to use Spidey, but watchin’ her waste a potion while I had Spidey in my hands made me feel bad) ’n’ she walked up the wall, too. ‘Cept (and I know I’m not supposed to say this ‘bout a woman, but I’ll dare) Llew’s heavier ’n me ’n’ she started a cave-in. Since I was already on the ceilin’ it wasn’t much of a cave-in for me; I just stepped on a few fallin’ rocks ’n’ was out of it, but as all the rocks were fallin’ I saw open space above me. Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic all avoided gettin’ buried ’n’ Alembic put up a stone wall that stopped the rocks from fallin’, so we regrouped ’n’ decided what to do. I leaned over ’n’ put my hands down on the ceiling ’n’ activated my peeky gloves. It took a little bit o’ repositionin’, durin’ which Alembic might’ve said a couple things ‘bout my posterior ‘cause he’s a pervert, but I could pinpoint where he needed to blow a hole so we could get up into the cavern above, and then I skedaddled because I didn’t want to get washed away, and ‘cause skedaddle is fun to say. I did also mention that I saw a couple o’ boulders movin’ in the room above, as if there was a giant critter up there just waitin’ for us.

So we buffed up (at least those as had buffs), and once everyone was braced, Alembic Disintegrated the ceiling. Forth headed on up to see what was goin’ to eat him today, ’n’ apparently there were 3 giant purple worms with huge toothy mouths ’n’ big stingers ’n’ even Forth sounded a little worried so I figured they must be really big. Llew moved in and cast a spell that made me feel better, ’n’ Alembic moved in ’n’ sped up Forth ’n’ Llew, but it didn’t reach me. I used Shieldy on myself, ‘cause gettin’ eaten by giant purple worms didn’t sound like a fun thing today, And a worm just CAME THROUGH THE GROUND AND TRIED TO EAT ME!!

Ok. Worms. Burrowin’ in the ground. I guess that’s what they do. I rescind my objection.

Anyhoo, Forth saw that I was feelin’ kind o’ oppressed, so he decided to try to cheer me up by wavin’ his weapon around and runnin’ at one o’ the worms I couldn’t see, ’n’ I could hear the worm bitin’ him ’n’ pickin’ him up ’n’ I could see it in my head ’n’ I heard him thwack the worm ’n’ I figured Forth gettin’ eaten ’n’ thwackin’ on things meant that all was right in the world. Llew moved out o’ sight too, right towards the one Forth was busy chokin’, ’n’ I heard her thwack at it, but then I didn’t hear much o’ anythin’ any more ‘cause Alembic filled the upstairs room with lightning, not once but TWICE! The worms got all sizzly, and the smell! Oh, the smell! Now I know what cooked worm tastes like ‘cause it’s all my nostrils would let me smell ’n’ I never have to taste THAT again!

Speakin’ o’ tastin’ good, Forth suddenly went quiet ’n’ Llew called out that he’d been swallowed whole! OK, that’s a new one! He hasn’t done that before! I started dancin’ ’n’ ran away from the worm next to me ’n’ it tried to bite me but got a rock in its teeth for its troubles. But then I learned they weren’t payin’ attention to me; they were all mad at Alembic ‘cause of all his lightnin’ ’n’ stuff ’n’ bit at him somethin’ awful. I think he’d’ve been torn into three or four pieces if it weren’t for his mirror images. As it was, he was floatin’ up there lookin’ terrified with only a couple o’ images left, but still safe ’n’ sound. The worm that’d swallowed Forth suddenly started twitchin’ somethin’ awful ’n’ out of its middle popped Forth in a horrible, tragic parody o’ childbirth. I hope never to see it again.

But the worm was dead, ’n’ Forth, other than bein’ covered with slime ’n’ smellin’ like worm guts, seemed OK. I guess that’s one way to kill ‘em. Llew killed the one next to her, so I ran by the last one to help Alembic get away. Even though I was doin’ my best dancin’ I could feel its teeth rake across my Shield spell, meanin’ these guys were mean. Just ‘cause it couldn’t possibly smell any worse in there Alembic decided to add a Fireball to his repertoire, but even though it made the last worm stink even more, it didn’t drop it. It tried to eat Alembic ’n’ got his last images, so Forth ran over to help but missed it, ’n’ Llew ran over ’n’ it grabbed her, makin’ her curse somethin’ awful at Alembic so I was wondering what he’d done, but she took even more exception to bein’ grabbed ’n’ killed it. Us: 3, Worms: 0, unless you counted eatin’ Forth, which is just kind o’ par for the course so I don’t.

We started cleanin’ up, ’n’ Forth said he’d been poisoned so I used my wand o’ Lesser Restoration on him ‘cause I haven’t named it yet. Forth channeled to heal everyone who’d been bitten by worms, ’n’ I was kind o’ sheepish ‘cause I’d barely even been nipped at, but considerin’ they’d been able to swallow Forth that was probably for the better anyway. Llew took notes on poison purple bitey worms while Alembic fixed the aqueduct ’n’ I looked around for treasure. There wasn’t any, which wasn’t surprisin’, them bein’ worms ’n’ all. But I did get to dig around in giant piles o’ worm poop, ’n’ that was fun, ’n’ didn’t smell nearly as bad as they did when they were cookin’. But since they were half-cooked anyway, we figured we’d offer ‘em to Not Flubbadoo ‘cause they’d probably taste as least as good as derros and had a heck of a lot more meat on ‘em.

Alembic put up a Force Wall so we could walk down the passage without gettin’ washed away, but I ran on the roof anyway, just in case. The butler was about to say that we hadn’t fixed the aqueduct when the Force Wall came down and all the water started flowin’. I could tell that he was impressed. He decided to take us back to the Old Guy, but first he Prestidigitated us ‘cause I’d kind of forgotten to, and apparently I’d used it earlier in the day for somethinorother, but heck if I could remember. It’s a fun spell! Anyway, once we weren’t covered with worm stomach acid or worm poop or whatnot, we got to go back to the Old Guy ’n’ everyone let me tell the story o’ fightin’ the worms. Well, charmin’ people’s my forte, but I did my best, ’n’ he smiled at me ’n’ told me I’d done a good job tellin’ the story so I was happy. ‘Cause makin’ Lawful people lie is fun.

Once we were done, he showed his Lawful side by sayin’ what we’d done was worth more ’n’ a few derro so he wanted to pay us so that we were even. He offered us cash, information, or companionship.

Companionship!?!?!? I guess he really didn’t know who I worshipped. We don’t take that as payment, buddy! We give it! Anyway, I wasn’t gonna argue with him, so Forth ’n’ I immediately asked for information. Alembic wanted the cash, of course, but Llew wanted the information as well. All the people ‘round the table seemed kind o’ disappointed that none of us’d chosen companionship, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to pay for it, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth didn’t do that kind o’ thing (or were at least discreet enough that I didn’t notice), ’n’ Alembic’d rather have cash any day o’ the week.

For information, he told us ‘bout his “battle” with the Mother o’ Wights. Apparently she’d shown up all rude-like, ’n’ he’d kicked her butt ’n’ sealed her away down deeper in the Darklands. Past the wall where he’d sealed her were many, many driders who tended to attack ten or twenty at a time. I’d’ve asked what driders were, but he was on a roll. His war with the driders went on so long that their siege engines came alive ’n’ started guardin’ the area on their own. Man, does everything come back from the dead when the Mother o’ Wights is around? So we’d be facin’ many raidin’ parties of 10-20 driders until we could arrange a truce with ‘em (why was he lookin’ at ME when he said that? Oh, yeah…), ’n’ we should just avoid the siege engines. The driders weren’t dependable, though, so we shouldn’t trust ‘em to stick with any agreement if they thought they could get the upper hand on us.
As for the Mother o’ Wights, she suffered from the same thing every caster does: If you get close enough ’n’ hit her when she tries to cast, she’s kind of hosed. It’s how he defeated her.

So he gave us permission to travel through his mansion and past the seal as long as we didn’t kill anythin’, ’n’ he invited us to stay for dinner and an evenin’ of rest. I didn’t particularly want dinner, ‘cause I figured purple worm was on the menu (he’d told the butler to go carve it up ’n’ hang it up to dry), but I wouldn’t’ve minded a full-sized bed. But the rest o’ the party didn’t trust him enough so we left. Llew gave him his amulet back ’n’ asked him for his name. I was waitin’ for him to say, “Flubbadoo,” but he just told us to call him “Master Thrune”, which wasn’t nearly as fun to say. So we left. The butler led us through the seal, then went back and closed it up.
No sooner than he was gone than Alembic said he was tired and needed to rest. What the heck, Alembic? But he said he had a spell for that, ’n’ he created a door. And through it was a GIANT MANSION!!!!! All was forgiven, Alembic! There was more food than I could eat, ’n’ a whole bunch of semi-corporeal servants who’d do whatever I told ‘em to do, an’ my room was at the end of a maze, ’n’ I could make the servants do whatever I told ‘em to do, and what a wonderful place!
I even had a human-sized bed, so I jumped myself to sleep. Because.

In the mornin’, I took Comprehend Languages ‘cause we keep usin’ it, but otherwise I told Calistria to surprise me. Once we were out o’ the mansion we could see signs of an ancient battle, or at least one that was a few years ago, ’n’ we started headin’ down. My legs started gettin’ tired so I climbed onto Forth an’ rode for a while. Then it started gettin’ cold so I changed into my Boots o’ the Winterlands. FINALLY! Unlike the Immovable Rod, they were finally goin’ to pay for themselves! We went a bit further an’ started to see ice on the walls. Finally, we came to a HUUUUUGE room, so far across we couldn’t see the other side. The walls were solid ice, with frozen bodies visible inside of ‘em, and there were stalactites ’n’ stalagmites through the whole room. ’N’ there was a weird gurglin’ from the middle. Alembic, bein’ the cautious sort, protected us from cold.

I had a spell for this! I summoned a little fire beetle ’n’ quickly named him Bright Butt ‘cause I knew he’d only be around for a few seconds ’n’ sent him to go look at the gurglin’. He barely made it there before he winked out, but we could see it was some kind o’ hole or spring. But water was flowin’ into it, not out, so I figured it wasn’t a spring. It was a… drain? Good job, Bright Butt! Since nothin’ had attacked him, we headed in to see what it was all about. There were bodies inside o’ the stalactites ’n’ stalagmites as well. What the heck? We were gettin’ close enough to see what the drain was doin’. It looked like some kind o’ hot spring that was meltin’ all the ice in the room ’n’ makin’ it flow into the drain. We were still tryin’ to figure it out when it erupted! And we’re talkin’ boilin’ steam fillin’ the entire room ’n’ cookin’ all of us. I was sure I’d managed to avoid all the water, but I still got singed a bit. Everyone else was in bad shape, ’n’ I needed to get ‘em out of there!
That’s when all the ice came crashin’ down from the ceiling ’n’ sendin’ ice cold air through the room. My boots ’n’ Alembic’s spell protected me, but Llew was beginnin’ to ice up so I decided to hold off on leavin’ ’til she could get out ’n’ I started rummagin’ around for my scroll o’ Freedom o’ Movement to get her out o’ there. Forth, bein’ Forth, was like an ox in a blizzard: He just kept goin’. ’N’ Alembic could fly, so I wasn’t all that worried ‘bout him. But I needed to stay with Llew ’n’ make sure she got out.

Llew looked terrible. She was all burned ’n’ frostbitten ’n’ miserable ’n’ cursin’, but she was Llew. She didn’t need my help. She got out o’ the room on her own two legs without me doin’ anythin’, ‘cause she never wants to show any weakness. But she did curse a lot. ‘Cause Llew. So I followed her out and quietly started usin’ the wand that isn’t Ornery on her (can I help if it I can’t remember all my wands’ names?) ’n’ Forth channeled ’n’ after a while we were all healed up.

Llew was cursin’ ’n’ tellin’ Alembic to just use Dimension Door to get us across the room, but he couldn’t see the other side to do it. Wait a minute! I thought I had somethin’! Sure ‘nough, I remembered that I could make Dancin’ Lights, which we usually use to entertain kids or expose secret trysts, but this seemed like a good enough use for ‘em so I made a few lights ’n’ sent ‘em off lightin’ up the room ’til Llew spotted the exit. I stopped ‘em there so Alembic could see, ’n’ he Dimension Doored us across the room.

We quickly moved on into the next passage, wonderin’ what horrific thing was awaitin’ us next…

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Session 44, Played 12-May-2019

We gathered up the rest o’ the cash from the five families and headed out to do some well-deserved shoppin’. I figured the new armor was a hint that I was gettin’ hit a little too often, so I splurged and traded in my old ring o’ protection for a much better one, at quite a steep price! After that I was pretty tapped out, so knowin’ we had a week to burn I made sure to rent my inn room in Logas for the week, ‘cause some people think gnomes don’t like stayin’ the same place two nights in a row, but when they’ve got swimmin’ pool-sized baths ’n’ all the food I can eat ’n’ he’ll special order any food so I’ve had orc food ’n’ elf food ’n’ dwarf food ’n’ all kinds o’ other foods, it’s a good place to stay.

I was probably payin’ him too much, but he never complained, and neither did I.

So I rode with the dogs a bit, an’ played with the kids around town, ’n’ showed up at the temple o’ Calistria a bit to due my clericly duties ’n’ such, but most o’ the work available to me was either stabbin’ jilted lovers or servicin’ halflings, neither o’ which appealed to me at all, but I did what I had to. I did get to track down a merc who’d come into town and beat up one o’ the acolytes while she was freelancin’, but the other Calistrians were downright mean; I mean, he deserved a bit o’ beatin’ ’n’ stabbin’ ’n’ such, but they cut off parts that ought not be cut off, so I decided that work wasn’t so good for me either. Honestly, I’d’ve just handed him over to Blackburn ’n’ given Mr. Blackburn a huge grin and told him to treat the merc as a “special guest”, an’ Blackburn would’ve believed me ’n’ it would’ve been all lawful-like, but the Calistrians started callin’ me “lawful” ’n’ “Blackburn’s toadie”, so I left before I hurt ‘em.

Worst cleric of Calistria, ever.

Since the temple was getting kind o’ mean ’n’ the parents were startin’ to hide their kids from me (what’s a few burns? I healed ‘em! ‘Cause I can channel now!), I decided to start followin’ Llew ’n’ Alembic ’n’ Forth around. ‘Cept Llew likes me as company ’til she’s doin’ somethin’ serious, ’n’ then she makes me wait outside, ‘cause she doesn’t think I can be serious. I mean, she’s right ’n’ all, but it hurts to have her be so right all the time. I can hang out with Forth all I want. And he’s a dwarven paladin. So that’s pretty much not much at all. ’N’ Alembic and I tolerate each other all right for at least 15 minutes a day, but after that we kind o’ go our separate ways.

The first thing Alembic asked everyone was whether we needed any potions, and I asked him what kind he could make, ’n’ he told me a lot o’ things I didn’t understand, but I did understand Ant Haul, and I figured if Llew or Forth were ever in real trouble ’n’ needed to get dragged out o’ somewhere, that’d be handy. So I asked for one o’ those, ’n’ Alembic wandered off for a couple of hours ’n’ came back with one. Heck, if it was that easy for him, why did I keep payin’ full price for potions at the apothecary! Alembic gave me a half price deal, ’n’ it didn’t take him any time at all!

Once he was back, Llew ’n’ Forth said we ought to investigate the Darklands, seein’ as we were goin’ there ’n’ all. ‘Cept… I already knew a lot! ‘Cause when I slept on that book ’n’ learned Undercommon, seems like I learned more’n that. ‘Cause maybe Calistria likes little gnomes who’re trying to save the world from bein’ overwhelmed by disease-spewin’ undead horrors more than haughty-taughty elves who’ve got nothin’ better to do than stick a needle in some deservin’ jerk’s backside ’n’ watch ‘im twich ’til he stops twitchin’ ’n’ needs a healer or apologizes for bein’ a jerk. OK, yeah, it’s kind o’ funny the first time. And the second. But by time 3 or 4 you start thinkin’ that your fellow acolytes are kind o’ sadists.

Anyhoo, I was ‘bout to start tellin’ everyone ‘bout the Darklands ‘cept Forth’d found a book about it ’n’ started readin’ important stuff out to us, ’n’ he enjoys that kind o’ stuff so I shut up and let him talk. The top level of the Darklands is called Narvoth, ’n’ it’s mostly caves ’n’ such where the only requirement to be part of Narvoth is that you’ve got to be able to get to the next layer down from there. So not a particularly excitin’ place, and the creatures there are mostly either surface races that’ve gone down (dark elves, dark dwarves, dark gnomes, ’n’ all kinds o’ other dark critters, I’m sure), or underground races that’ve come up (OK, didn’t know any o’ those). But there are only 4-5 entrances to Narvoth in the world, ’n’ we’d found one. Or at least the Mother of Wights had, ’n’ we were followin’ her. Lucky us.
Below Narvoth was Sekamina, which is a HUGE place that connects to ALL the Narvoth regions (‘cause not all Narvoth regions connect). Sekamina is the way you get around underground, and on occasion there’ve been paths directly from Sekamina to the surface and that’s always been bad, ‘cause the creatures livin’ underground are almost always evil, ‘cause apparently bein’ in the dark all the time makes you mean. But Sekamina’s mainly a way to get around the Darklands, ‘cause under Sekamina is Orv, and none of us knew much ‘bout it. My book said there were underground oceans ’n’ even suns down there. Forth said there were gugs, which is a fun word to say, but the way he said it made ‘em sound no fun at all.

Once we were oriented, or at least knew what to call the places when we were hopelessly lost in ‘em, we started discussin’ what we knew ‘bout what was down there. I knew that durin’ Earthfall a bunch o’ elves’d run underground to hide, ‘cause elves do weird stuff like that, ’n’ they’d turned into dark elves ’n’ turned evil. Which made me wonder whether turnin’ my armor dark for long enough’d turn me evil, but I didn’t want to try ‘cause I liked bein’ nice. Anyhoo, Forth knew ‘bout dark dwarves, ‘cept he called ‘em duergars, ’n’ dark gnomes (svirfneblins), and of ‘em all only the svirfneblins’d be anythin’ close to polite. ‘Cause gnomes. Other’n that we’d be runnin’ into troglodytes (another fun word) ’n’ derros, which sound more like a cinnamony desert than a creature. ‘Cept their name rang a bell.
Once we’d gotten past all that fun, we’d be hittin’ grimslakes ’n’ serpentfolk ’n’ dark elves ’n’ ghasts ’n’ ghouls in Sekamina. I had no idea what grimslakes or serptentfolk were, but I figured the grimslakes were probably pretty serious ’n’ the serpentfolk had somethin’ to do with snakes. But I could be wrong. Frequently am.

Then Forth started listin’ off the “environmental hazards”, which is just a nice way of sayin’, “Stuff that’s gonna kill you without intendin’ to.”
Apparently everythin’ down there’s poisonous or good at hiding, and food and water’s hard to come by. There are invisible gases that kill you the moment you walk into ‘em, ’n’ slimes ’n’ molds ’n’ other funguses (fungi?) that form huge colonies, some of which can even create people! Forth read about a russet mold (that was probably red) that’d eat your brain ’n’ turn you into a mold zombie under its control. Creepy!

It was kind o’ like gnome bedtime stories!

Forth went on, ’n’ said there were even undead mold, which got Llew’s attention. He said that we didn’t know anythin’ ‘bout Orv, so I told him all ‘bout the etherfrogs down there, slimy big ol’ blisters with nostrils ’n’ mouths ’n’ not much else ‘cept big ol’ eyes on their backs. ‘Cause I knew ‘bout them for no reason. Forth ’n’ Llew just kind o’ looked at me like I’d grown a second head, ’n’ Alembic looked like he had a headache.

Once we were done talkin’, I figured I’d better stock up on gnome rations, ‘cause it sounded like we might be there for a long time, ’n’ Alembic came with me ‘cause he likes to watch me shop in case I buy somethin’ interestin’, and when I ordered 100 gnome rations ’n’ the storekeep looked at me as if I’d grown a second head (a lot of that goin’ around; I should probably check my heads), Alembic asked why didn’t I just get a Ring o’ Sustenance like a normal person? I pointed out that I couldn’t afford one, but he pointed out that if I’d just sell my Ring o’ Swimmin’ I’d be able to, but then what would I do in the bathtub? Alembic was willin’ to bet I’d be able to swim in the bathtub without the ring, so if a sobbin’ Llew ’n’ Forth ever find me lyin’ naked and lifeless at the bottom of a tub they’ll know it was all Alembic’s fault.

And they will avenge me.

Anyhoo, I traded in my swimmin’ ring and some cash for a Ring o’ Sustenance, ’n’ I put it on and still felt hungry, ’n’ Alembic said it wouldn’t work for a week, so what the heck good was it? But I figured I had enough rations ’n’ such to last me at least a week, so I’d be OK. Especially in town, where I could buy extra food when I felt like it. Once we were done shoppin’, we met back up at the inn and right there was King Heddy, come all this way to see us! I ran up and hugged him for real, not like the hugs I give Blackburn, ’n’ he patted me on the head. He told us he considered the whole Mother o’ Wights thing closed, so we shouldn’t be riskin’ ourselves to stir up trouble when none was needed.

It was as if he’d forgotten I was a gnome or somethin’.

But I forgave him, ’n’ he went off, ’n’ Llew wanted to see how Father Farrington was doin’ with the temple, ’n’ he was doin’ a right fine job, but she gave him some weird back-handed, “You can come with us if you want to but we don’t really need you if you don’t want to come,” kind o’ speech, ’n’ he said that the families were all uppity ‘cause Lawful stuff I didn’t understand, ’n’ Heddy was involved, too, so all I knew was that we were s’posed to take members of every family to go kill the Mother o’ Wights. Okay. Whatever. I told the group I could talk the families into anything, so they just had to tell me what they wanted the families to do, ’n’ Llew said I was turnin’ evil for wantin’ to manipulate people’s heads that way, but I was already confused ‘cause o’ the whole people wantin’ to come along thing, so I figured I was just sharin’ the confusion. Which is evil somehow. But whatever. I didn’t feel any more evil, ’n’ Calistria wouldn’t care one way or the other, as her acolytes’d already demonstrated, so I’d just keep bein’ me and hope that confusin’ people wasn’t evil. ‘Cause it’s fun.

Then someone said Heddy had to be involved, an’ I offered to make him do whatever we wanted, ‘cause he likes me, ’n’ Llew called me evil again, and I think it’s her new word for “cute” so I don’t mind. Then everyone started talkin’ more politics an’ Lawfulness and such ’n’ I didn’t pay any attention so I’m sure it was important but Llew ’n’ Forth’d tell me what to do ‘cause they were good about that, and they didn’t want me to charm anyone into doin’ anythin’ at the moment so I figured I was good. And I hate to say it, but listenin’ to the politics was at least better’n runnin’ with the kids ’n’ the dogs ‘cause it was different.

Exactly one week later, I got up two hours before dawn, cursed my stupidity again, prepared my spells ’n’ did Comprehend Languages ’n’ Deathwatch again ‘cause they kept comin’ in handy, even if they were borin’ to cast over ’n’ over again, ’n’ waited for the cook to wake up so I could have breakfast. ‘CAUSE I WAS HUNGRY! Stupid ring! Lost ol’ Swimmy for a ring that doesn’t even work right! And Alembic told me to be patient, but that’s not somethin’ I’m good at.
Once the cook and everyone else was awake ’n’ we were eatin’ breakfast, the whole world shook. It was pretty fun! But everyone else was all worried ‘bout it, ‘cause it probably meant the Mother o’ Wights was burrowin’ around down under the city ’n’ we needed to get down there ’n’ stop her. A couple o’ Sendings between the two cities later, ’n’ we knew the earthquake’d been stronger in Eledir, so Heddy was orderin’ us to go take care o’ things. He’s so cute, thinkin’ he can order me to do anythin’!

We finished breakfast, everyone else buffed up ‘cause you never know what the undead are gonna do, and Alembic teleported us back to the village. Our friendly neighborhood hound was still guardin’ the door, but I figured it was a good day to run like crazy from a rampaging adamantine golem, so I walked up ’n’ used the Blackburn word ’n’ I was kind o’ disappointed ‘cause it worked ’n’ the golem didn’t attack me. But we went up and opened the door ’n’ such, ’n’ stepped in, ’n’ felt all that queasiness, ’n’ then Alembic sighed ’n’ told us to go out again. I figured it was a game so I hopped out on one foot, but he looked back in the door ’n’ cast somethin’ an’ the inside changed, ’n’ he said the fake dimension was gone ’n’ we could go in again. So we did.

And it was time for another long discussion, ‘cause it was just one o’ those days that’d never end. I was kind o’ hopin’ somethin’ would attack us to interrupt us, an’ I thought o’ throwin’ somethin’ at the golem to make it mad, but at least this discussion kind o’ made sense. ‘Cause we were about to walk all the way down to the Darklands, ’n’ it was far enough that Alembic didn’t think 100 days of gnome rations were enough, ’n’ he made me get that stupid ring that didn’t work ’n’ I was glad I’d had a big breakfast ‘cause this was boring! But the door was gonna close, and the gears would be on the outside ’n’ we would be on the inside. Would they be safe? They were valuable, ’n’ they were important, ’n’ all the “great” families knew we had ‘em ’n’ were about to use ‘em, so any one of ‘em could try to come up ’n’ get ‘em. And the hound’d probably let ‘em, ‘cause golems aren’t that bright. On the other hand, we were riskin’ our lives to get their diamond mine back, or at least kill the Mother o’ Wights so they could get their OWN darned diamond mine back, so stabbin’ us in the back wouldn’t be very bright. ’N’ the Mother o’ Wights didn’t need the gears any more, and anyone else in the area who could take on an adamantine golem one-on-one probably didn’t need the cash from the gears. So they were probably safe. We waited for the doors to close, ’n’ Alembic gave me Darkvision so I wouldn’t run into things, which wasn’t as fun but was probably faster, ’n’ since I was bored I started scourin’ the walls for secret doors ’n’ found one ’n’ opened it, but it was nothin’ but a tinker’s workshop. Without even a tinker to pass the time with! I cast Detect Magic because I could, ’n’ a lot o’ the tools were magical. So I told everyone to take some ’n’ carry them ‘cause they’d be worth money. But nobody wanted to! I couldn’t really figure it out, but ‘parently everyone thinks everything in here is the rightful property o’ the families in Logas, so we need to leave it alone. I figure everyone who ever owned this stuff is already dead, but there was too much for me to carry so I wasn’t going to argue.

We started heading down, and as we went underground Forth got more and more cheerful. I was worried that by the time we reached the Darklands he’d be giggling like a schoolgirl. We heard the sounds o’ mining, so we snuck up but it was just old automatons still diggin’ away. Most of ‘em had broken down, but a few of ‘em were still hard at it, doin’… whatever it was that minin’ automatons do, which is pretty noisy ’n’ dusty ’n’ boring. So far, the “Darklands” weren’t much of an adventure, and I was gettin’ hungry. Stupid ring!

It was past lunchtime (which I defiantly ate in front o’ everyone, cursin’ at my ring in Undercommon) when we finally found somethin’ different: A perfectly cubical room that had been constructed by magic. Alembic figured this was where they’d found the moanin’ diamond, ’n’ the first person who’d picked it up had tried to use its powers ’n’ done somethin’ boring, indicating that he or she wasn’t a gnome, and then they’d tunneled all around lookin’ for more moanin’ diamonds, ‘cause greedy. Alembic commented that this must’ve made the minin’ much easier, but Forth pointed out that the diamond’d be good for tunnelin’, but not for minin’, ‘cause it doesn’t actually separate out anythin’. It just makes and closes tunnels.

A couple of hours further in we found our first signs of an ancient battle: A bunch of old automatons were smashed up ’n’ broken, plus a bunch o’ dead mummified bodies Forth identified as “duergar”, which is apparently a fancy name for dark dwarves. Everyone nodded sagely like it made sense for a bunch o’ dark dwarves to attack a bunch of automatons, but there wasn’t much for us to do ’til Llew found the body of a gnome. I tried to rush over and give him(?) some Calistrian last rights, but Llew was already on it, and I figured he was dead so he wouldn’t mind. I wondered who he was? But his belt ’n’ gear indicated he was probably the tinker from up above, ’n’ he came down to help his automatons fight the duegar and gave up his life for it. I understood. Rest well, friend. You did your best. If they turn out to be mean, I’ll stab a duegar in the eye for you, just for old time’s sake.

We kept followin’ the main passage down, and whoever’d been makin’ it was gettin’ better ’n’ better, ’n’ it was gettin’ nice ’n’ fancy ’n’ decorated… ’til we came to a room with an archway with some writin’ over it ’n’ some symbols o’ Urgathoa, at least accordin’ to Llew. It was the usual: Curses and temple markings and, “If you go in here, you’ll die ‘cause we’re mean,’” ’n’ all that. So Alembic put Life Bubble on us, just in case, ’n’ we kept going.

Our next mystery was a door on the right side o’ the hall, and a locked gate on the left side. Through the gate was a nice bedroom, with a huuuuuuuge bed and a glowin’ chandelier. It wasn’t magical, so Llew ’n’ Alembic were curious. I didn’t want to go into a room with a gate on it without investigatin’ the closed door first, so I opened it ’n’ we went in ’n’ it was a bunch o’ dead people chained to the wall. LLew confirmed they weren’t undead, ’n’ lookin’ them over they were all Darklands critters who’d been tortured, then abandoned in here like someone was keepin’ ‘em for somethin’ and then skedaddled. Hope it wasn’t us that made ‘em skedaddle. But no, they’d been here quite a while. Strange. We did our job: I unlocked ‘em and Llew laid ‘em out and said words over ‘em, ‘cause Pharasma even deals with Darklanders. They had all their gear on ‘em, so they weren’t captured for loot; it was just the usual Urgathoan/undead cruelty. Reminded me o’ the Jeggares. It was time to jump on the bed! I turned around, raced into the gated room (which I’d already unlocked), took a huge leap onto the bed, intendin’ to try to reach the canopy, and…

…it ate me.

Yep. The bed was another stupid mimic, ‘cause they love eatin’ gnomes ‘cause we can’t resist shiny things. But I was prepared, so I pulled out my alchemical solvent ’n’ started meltin’ myself free, but Llew doesn’t like seein’ her gnome get eaten so she came runnin’ into the room to kill the mimic (which I appreciated) and the chandelier popped down and tried to eat her! Another mimic?!?!? Then Forth cast somethin’ to teleport me free (I wasn’t done yet, Forth!) and the barrels attacked him, and we realized the whole great big room was a mimic! So it grabbed me again ‘cause Forth made it know I was gettin’ loose, an’ Llew lost her temper ’n’ just started hackin’ off huge chunks o’ mimic ’n’ I think it would’ve thrown her up if it could’ve but instead it just had to sit there with pain stuck to the roof of its mouth like some kind o’ honey-and-molasses-and-bees mixture it couldn’t get rid of, ’n’ Forth tried to join in but his weapon got stuck, ’n’ I didn’t hear what Alembic did ‘cause the mimic was chewin’ on me some more, but Llew got fed up and killed it and the whole room melted.

Best. Room. Ever!!!!

‘Cept Llew was still pretty mad so I channeled ’n’ Forth channeled ’n’ I even used Prestidigitation to clean the two of ‘em up ‘cause I figured I owed them ‘cause only gnomes like that kind o’ stuff. But it was SOOOOO fun! I almost died!

Thanks, Llew!

We kept on goin’ down ’n’ down ’n’ Forth started goin’ round a corner ’n’ he said he’d spotted a big room with a big undead dragon in it. Before it could react to bein’ called a big undead dragon Llew’d put up her protective field ‘round us ’n’ Alembic sped us up, then it breathed fire all over all of us but Llew was in front o’ me so I kind o’ missed the whole show. It was s’posed to be all scary-like, too, but I didn’t see that, either. I guess it was from hangin’ out with Llew ’n’ Forth too much. Anyway, the whole room was smellin’ like burnt dwarf, as it does, so Forth took exception ’n’ smote the dragon ’n’ killed it, ‘cause that’s what smitin’ does, ’n’ Llew was unhappy ‘cause Forth’d killed it too fast so she hadn’t gotten to hit it, ‘cause that’s what Llew does, ’n’ then Forth channeled to heal everybody from the burns, ’n’ I tried to help by channelin’ a couple o’ times but I don’t know as how anyone noticed.

We went into the room ’n’ there was no dragon hoard or anythin’, so I joined Llew in grumblin’, but there was an archway with some strange writin’ on it, ’n’ I looked at it and I could tell it was in Aklo, ‘cause I’m smart that way, but I hadn’t learned Aklo, I’d learned Undercommon, ‘cause I was dumb that way. So I cast Comprehend Languages ‘cause I’m smart that way ’n’ read the sign ’n’ it said, “Entrance to Narvoth,” ’n’ whoever’d written it’d taken a LOT of pride in their work; it was a fancy archway. But it screamed, “Trap!” so I looked it over but couldn’t see one, but Alembic looked it over ’n’ said there was some kind o’ polymorph spell on it. I’d’ve volunteered to go through, but Alembic admitted he wouldn’t be able to undo whatever happened to me, ’n’ my bead’d protect me anyway, and I didn’t want to waste money for no reason, at least unless it was funny, and I didn’t know whether or not polymorphin’ would be funny. I heard more voices talkin’ in Aklo past the archway. They clearly hadn’t heard us yet, ’n’ were just talkin’ ‘bout normal stuff like what to eat ’n’ who to kill ’n’ so forth.

Alembic Dimension Doored us past the archway, ’n’ the guys in back heard us ’n’ started comin’, ’n’ a goblin-lookin’ guy came walkin’ up the corridor towards us. For some reason I knew he was a “derro”, and that he and his kind were all psychotic and sadistic and ought to be wiped off the face of Golarion, plus its Darklands just to be sure. Llew felt the same way. So when the guy welcomed us in Aklo an’ then told his friends to eat us, I greeted him politely in Undercommon ’n’ apologized that we were going to kill ‘em all. He cackled and liked that!

At least I hadn’t learned Undercommon for nothin’ after all!

So, derro are mean and psychotic and vicious and vile, but they’re also fragile little buggers. Alembic dropped some in a pit and hit some with chain lightning. Llew ’n’ Forth stabbed a few, ’n’ even I stabbed one. And they died right quick. The rest decided they didn’t like this and asked us to please go away and stop killin’ them and let them wait for tastier, less ouchy people to kill ’n’ eat. Forth didn’t think this was a good idea, so he started tryin’ to go down a passage to kill more of ‘em, but it caved in ‘cause Forth weighs as much as a horse and wagon loaded with rocks ’n’ garbage, so we were at a bit of a stalemate. Yeah, I could’ve gone in and killed a few more of ‘em, but it didn’t seem all that purposeful to just go in to their house ’n’ slaughter ‘em all for bein’ mean. More goblin-like than gnome-like.

We tried to parlay, but all we learned was that their leader’s name was Schism, ’n’ Llew was pretty sure that was the name o’ the guy who’d come out at first ’n’ been hit in the face with Alembic’s lightnin’. Forth tried to feed ‘em some dwarf rations ’n’ they hated ‘em, so at least they had some taste. Never again.

We moved forward and came into a square room that had charcoal drawin’s that looked like some kind o’ historical account o’ the derros battle with the Mother o’ Wights. She’d come down, fought ‘em for “more meals than we can count”, which probably meant at least three, killed a few hundred derro, put up the archway with the spell on it to keep ‘em from goin’ upwards (’n’ they said the spell just killed you outright, which isn’t funny at all), Anyhoo, it was kind o’ interestin’, but nothin’ new. She’d used spells ’n’ poison gases ’n’ undead to kill all the derro, then blocked ‘em from goin’ upwards ’n’ spent the night restin’ here, then moved on and downwards.

So that’s what we needed to do…

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Session 43A, Played 28-Apr-2019

I sat up from my nap and my head was achin’ somethin’ awful and my bed’d turned into hard, hard ground with lots o’ dirt, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic were all starin’ at me like I’d grown a second head or somethin’, ’n’ I looked around and we were all sittin’ there in front o’ the adamantine door to the caves, as if we’d never opened ‘em or found Father Ferrington or anything.

So, if Llew ’n’ Forth are to be believed (and I think they are, unlike other, unnamed members o’ the party), once we were all done with the chain guys I’d pulled out the first gear and stretched as far as I could and reached up on tippy-toes and tried to put the gear into its receptacle… and dropped it smack on my head, fell down, and lay there twitchin’ for a bit. They figured I seemed to be havin’ a good dream ’n’ I didn’t seem all that hurt, so they just let me lie there ’til I woke up on my own.

Droppin’ the gear didn’t sound like me. Layin’ there twitchin’ for a bit did, so I let it go.

Anyhoo, I went back up to the door and this time there wasn’t any “no magic” field around it, so I knew my memory from last time was probably all made up, an’ I put the gears in more careful-like, protectin’ my fragile little head, ’n’ the door started openin’ (again?). But this time it opened all slow-like, so we had plenty o’ time to get ready.

Except all we heard was screamin’ and moanin’ and sufferin’, ’n’ I was the last one to see ‘cause o’ my improved and excellent height, but from everyone else’s reactions I wasn’t gonna see anythin’ good. Sure enough, as soon as I could see over the lip o’ the door, I saw a totally different room from the one I remembered: There was still an altar to Urgathoa in it, but this time it was in the center o’ the room, and Father Ferrington (and why did I recognize him?) was chained to it, bein’ stretched out, while all around the room there were around a dozen other people in various torture devices, and they were the source o’ the screamin’. There didn’t seem to be any exits from the room other than the big opening right across from us, maybe sixty or seventy feet away. For a moment I was worried I’d started ‘em dyin’ by openin’ the door, but the two events didn’t seem related. They seemed to be in really bad shape, like, “So bad you shouldn’t be able to scream so much,” but they were still screamin’, and they looked like they only had a few seconds before they all died.

Well, that was more than I could take care of in that amount of time, so I decided to make myself useful and called on Calistria to let me cast Deathwatch. An’ it worked! So the previous experience MUST have been a dream, ‘cause Calistria may like me ’n’ all, but even she said she’s got to follow the stupid ‘god rules’ ‘bout how many spells I get a day. Anyhoo, yep, all the people were people, not undead, and all of ‘em were as near as death as I could make out with the spell, so I called it out to everybody else ‘cause I figured maybe Forth could go in and channel or somethin’ to give me some time to get ‘em all out of all those contraptions.

Forth started movin’ in, but as he passed through the entrance there was some kind o’ shimmerin’ or shudderin’ or somethin’, and he stumbled a bit and got confused, so I could tell it would take him a moment to get the channel off. Alembic said it was magic, but he couldn’t tell what it was. I’m gettin’ kind o’ bored with that refrain, so I shot Alembic a dirty look, but I didn’t think he could tell, ‘cause he was busy lookin’ at the magic. Llew moved up to join me just at the threshold, waitin’ to see what happened to Forth, ‘cause that’s what we do.

I decided to make sure we weren’t gettin’ in over our heads, so since there wasn’t any anti-magic around the door, I pulled out my Immovable Rod an’ set it to prop the door open. ‘Cept it just fell to the ground uselessly.

I want my money back.

Forth moved in to the center o’ the room to best channel for everyone, but just as he was grabbin’ at his holy symbol an image of a woman appeared. We all knew it was the Mother of Wights, ’n’ we all knew it was an illusion so we didn’t attack it, ’n’ she said, “Those who are strong enough to open the door have succeeded. My minions are on their way.”
Didn’t seem like a very useful or interestin’ monologue; I guess she was too busy diggin’ around underground to take megalomaniacal undead monologuing trainin’, but I have to say I was pretty disappointed. Forth was, too, and channeled anyway, but it didn’t help any o’ the people. Somethin’ was stiflin’ him! And as he did that, we heard the sounds o’ battle approachin’, like hundreds o’ people were fightin’ ’n’ screamin’ ’n’ dyin’ ’n’ headed our way, ’n’ it didn’t sound like the kind o’ thing you wanted joinin’ you in a small-ish room, helpless victims or no helpless victims!
Alembic twiddled his fingers and did some magic ’n’ nothin’ happened… again. I was beginnin’ to think I was goin’ to have to take him to the temple and have one of our acolytes straighten him out, ‘cause he sure as heck needed straightenin’, an’ cleric or no, I wasn’t gonna do it! A girl’s gotta have SOME standards!

Anyhoo, that was neither here nor there at the moment, ‘cause we had to get busy (and not in THAT way), so Llew and I moved in, and Forth moved to the entrance at the opposite end of the room to try to head off whatever-it-was that was approachin’. Movin’ into the room made my stomach lurch, but so does the image of Alembic naked so it wasn’t so bad. Alembic came in and finally did somethin’ useful by wallin’ off the opposite entrance. It made it so we couldn’t hear the approachin’ army any more, but it also made it so the approachin’ army would have to burrow through some stone walls to get at us, givin’ us time to get the prisoners free. I scrambled up to Father Ferrington, but he had a lock on every limb, so I sighed an’ asked Forth ’n’ Llew for help. Llew took over guardin’ the door while Forth started cuttin’ Ferrington free. I asked him whether he wanted any help, an’ he told me I shouldn’t bother. I would’ve been offended, ‘cept I know he can cut chains faster’n I can unlock locks, so I wasn’t.

At that point all the walls came crashin’ down and we saw somethin’ awful. And it’s easy to say, “Somethin’ awful”, ‘cause describin’ the thing isn’t easy. In front of it were a bunch o’ floatin’ swords on ghostly, distorted limbs you could barely see they were so see-through. Guess that’s why they call it “see-through”, huh? Maybe ten feet back from the swords in the darkness of the hall was a mass o’ dead bodies, ‘cept they were all movin’ ’n’ groanin’ ’n’ screamin’ ’n’ wavin’ their swords about like they were goin’ to cut us all to ribbons. It unnerved me, but that was nothin’ new. I’m gettin’ kind o’ used to it. Well, I decided I wasn’t particularly in the mood to share a room with whatever IT was, so I kissed goodbye to 3000 gold and tossed my Bead of Force in its way. Not only did it block up the hall so the thing couldn’t get through, but it trapped four of the swords as well! Now THAT was money well-spent, unlike a certain rod I could think of!

Llew told us it was a “warsworn”, an undead formed from large grisly battles, the bloodier for both sides, the better. Its “big thing” was absorbin’ the dyin’, ’n’ we had plenty in the room, meanin’ I’d done well to keep it out. Woo hoo! On top of absorbin’ more bodies, which is nasty enough, it was usin’ telekinesis to wield those 7 swords, makin’ it really mean. At least when its swords weren’t trapped in a ball. Or if you had up Protection from Evil. Apparently the swords couldn’t handle that. Other than that, it could beat on you real hard, hurl suits of armor like catapults, you needed magical bashing weapons to hurt it, it was intelligent, but not too intelligent, and it was another “beat it to death before it eats you” critter. Which is kind of like most of what we face.

Forth cut Ferrington free and told me to heal him, Alembic did something to one o’ the swords and it clattered to the ground (THAT one, Alembic! Do more of those!), and Llew knocked another o’ the swords to the ground, but it gave her a deep cut for her troubles. The big blob… I mean, the warsworn smashed against my sphere, but my sphere held, makin’ me feel even better ‘bout the purchase, and the last free sword went around Llew to kill one o’ the trapped guys. Now that’s just petty!

I used Llew’s wand on Ferrington to wake him up and told him to get out of there, but there was no Ferrington in the mad, terrified eyes that opened up and looked at me. *sigh* That’s right. In my dream I had to Heal him, so I started kissin’ more gold goodbye as I pulled out another scroll of Heal. Forth chased down the last sword and cut it down. Alembic cast some spell on one o’ the other guys, but I have no idea what it did. Llew kept waitin’ for the beastie. I told her the sphere’d last ten minutes, but she didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in it.

Sure enough, the beastie started crawlin’ up the wall and over the sphere. You didn’t say it could climb, Llew! I prayed to Calistria, feelin’ awfully familiar, but she answered my prayers again and the scroll of Heal went off, so I Healed Father Ferrington an’ he seemed much better, an’ I told him to run again, an’ this time it looked like he’d listen. Forth moved in to help Llew, an’ Llew started cutting the living daylights out o’ the thing. Body parts were flyin’ everywhere. That’ll teach you to climb over my sphere, beastie! Alembic started draggin’ one o’ the guys to safety, which I thought was right nice of him, but another wall would’ve been nicer.

It didn’t particularly like what Llew was doin’ to it, so it smacked her back a long way. Forth was still engaged with it, but I wanted to make sure it couldn’t get at the people so I tried to use a scroll o’ Force Wall to cage it in but it didn’t work. Llew got up and ran back in, then Alembic walled her ’n’ Forth in with the creature. Not nice to them, but a lot better for the victims. Alembic has his good days. Just to show how much it hated us, it made a bunch o’ swords start attackin’ Llew ’n’ Forth, ’n’ they got cut up real bad. I couldn’t help them, so I used Spidey on myself to start freein’ other victims. I really didn’t have to hurry. Llew’d already cut up the critter somethin’ awful, so smitey Forth smashed it to bits and we were done.

Forth noted that a lot o’ the bodies in the pile were from the Darklands, ’n’ Father Ferrington started confirming everything I’d dreamed: This room was for torturin’ people (OK, I hadn’t dreamed that, but it was kind of obvious), ’n’ Ferrington’d been in here for years, so he’d heard a lot of things. The miners had unearthed a “moaning diamond” (OK, didn’t know that) that the Mother of Wights’d really wanted, which is why she came here in the first place. She used it to burrow all the way to the Darklands, ‘cause apparently noisy diamonds help you dig. Who knew? Once she was there, she waged war on the denizens, building her army as she depleted theirs, and she was plannin’ on eventually comin’ back up and takin’ over the surface world as well.

Once Ferrington was done, and started talkin’ ‘bout how the families would owe us somethin’, Alembic admitted he was a Farbridge, ’n’ Ferrinton formally thanked him. So I told him I was a Belmafoodleptock, ’n’ he told me I was obviously an employee of Alembic. The real Ferrington’s a much bigger jerk than the dream Ferrington was. Llew didn’t get any thanks, either; he said she ’n’ Forth were just doin’ their jobs. I was kind o’ regrettin’ usin’ the scroll on him by then, but it was too late; I had no idea how to “take backsies” that kind o’ thing. ’N’ it would probably irritate Forth ’n’ Llew if I did. Just like the dream, Llew gave Ferrington his holy symbol back, an’ he was all astonished. Didn’t make him any nicer.

We talked about teleporting back to Logas, but Alembic was tapped out, so we decided we’d camp for the night. Ferrington reminded us o’ the liches, so just like before we had to pull out the spellbooks ’n’ burn ‘em. Once we were camped, we had eight madmen with us, so I did some dancin’ ’n’ jugglin’ to keep ‘em entertained. My dancin’ didn’t go so well, ‘cause it’s hard to keep track of your feet when your hands are busy, but my jugglin’ was top-notch. At sunset Ferrington did his prayin’ and Healed three of ‘em, but they kept watchin’ me, ‘cause there was nothin’ else to do. Once they got bored and fell asleep (which everyone watchin’ me eventually does), I went to sleep, too.

In the mornin’, Alembic teleported us all back to Logas in shifts, ’n’ we went to the temple o’ Pharasma ’n’ reported. I started tryin’ to help, ’n’ Llew told me I should probably report to the temple o’ Calistria, but I told her they probably didn’t miss me, ’n’ the head priestess wasn’t all that bright ’n’ probably wouldn’t care all that much one way or the other, but then she gave me that look that said I really ought to be going, so I went to the temple o’ Calistra ’n’ reported anyway, ’n’ the priestess was more interested than I thought she’d be, but she just thanked me for takin’ care of it for her. So I spent an appropriate amount o’ time at the temple, then went over and got my usual inn room and had a good meal.

Just like in my dream, we had a week before the door’d open again, so we spent a day takin’ care o’ the crazies (Llew ’n’ Forth preferred “victims”, but it’s not as fun to say) ’n’ doin’ minor replenishment shoppin’ ’n’ sellin’. I figured followin’ the dream couldn’t hurt, so I got myself another book o’ Undercommon ’n’ tried again, and sure enough in the morning I spoke Undercommon! If only all languages came so easy!
Speaking of coming easy, we got an invitation from Father Ferrington to visit his mansion that evening. It was all scripted and on nice parchment and everythin’, so I figured I should look nice, so I put on my Calistrian formals (at least I made my armor look like ‘em) and joined the group to head on over. Llew kind o’ looked at me with that, “Oh, Trig, what are you doing?” look she gets, but I figured no one’d be interested in a gnome anyway, and makin’ untoward advances towards a Calistrian is well-known to get you a dagger in the crotch, so I’d be fine.

Turns out all five families where there. Callum was there, Blackburn was there. Ferrington was unfortunately there, but I figured it was his house. And Captain Farbridge and Mayor Muskgrove were there. And they said they’d all agreed to reward us for our hard work. There were five chests in the room! I ran over and hugged Blackburn around the knees and thanked him, ‘cause I know it embarrasses him, ’n’ Callum wanted to talk to me but didn’t want to in front o’ the whole group so I have that to look forward to, an’ I could ignore the rest of ‘em with the best of ‘em.

I dutifully checked all the chests for traps, but none of ‘em were, which just goes to show none of the families really know me. But I could tell the tiniest chest was for me, ’n’ inside, buried among the gold, was the most beautiful armor I’ve ever seen! I was glamoured, just like my armor, and sized just like my armor, and shadowy just like my armor, but it just felt more magical. Blackburn told me it’d provide better protection ’n’ had some built-in protection from death, too.

I knew he liked me!

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Session 43, Played 14-Apr-2019

If there’s one thing you can say ‘bout me, it’s that I’m pretty good ‘bout learnin’ things NOT to do. So I got up ’n’ prayed ’n’ chose a couple o’ spells that sounded like they’d come in handy, then went downstairs ’n’ told the innkeep I wanted a proper gnome breakfast. So he gave me this whole platter that covered the whole table, ‘cept all the dishes were covered with bowls so I couldn’t see ‘em or smell ‘em, and of the twenty or thirty bowls he told me I could only choose five.

It was a good thing I came down an hour before sunrise, ‘cause it took me ’til the rest o’ the party was up and about before I chose my bowls. I got some muffins, some cold eggs (I was gonna complain, but I figured they were probably hot when I started), some old stew ’n’ stale bread from the night before, some dried little fruits that I didn’t recognize, and some sticks and a bug. I figured the bug was a bonus, and the innkeep’d only meant to put the stick on the plate, but I figured fair’s fair so I ate the bug.

It was bitter.

Once Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic’d joined me ’n’ ate, we decided we’d buff up and teleport right to the edge o’ town ’n’ try to catch anyone waitin’ for us by surprise. ‘Cept I needed to do a little shopping first ‘cause I’d used up some of my disposables, and Thorn’s tree’d done well by me so I needed another one. Once I had my scrolls ’n’ such I used Spidey on myself, but that’s all I could think to do, and nobody else cast anythin’ on me ‘cept some communal cold protection from Alembic so I figured I was on “trouble duty”..

I like “trouble duty”.

We teleported in, ’n’ the adamantine golem was still standin’ there over the entrance to the caves, but nobody attacked us and we couldn’t see anyone lookin’ at us, so I walked up the nearest buildin’ to the roof ’n’ looked around but I still didn’t see anyone. So since everyone else had buffs-a-burnin’ we started movin’ towards the next set o’ buildings over by the shore of the river. On our right were some ramshackle houses ’n’ such, but Forth wanted to search the town in some particular order, ‘cause paladin or dwarf or just plain ol’ Forth but I didn’t see any reason to question it; it seemed random enough to me ‘cause I didn’t know the rules and that made it fun.

It didn’t take more than a hundred feet towards the river before we saw some guy just standin’ there over among the ramshackle buildings. He was lookin’ at us, and didn’t look particularly friendly. Llew said he was a lich, and I think I heard a cat make that noise once when it was coughin’ up a hairball, but she said it meant he was a really nasty caster who’d hit us with all kinds o’ death ’n’ cold spells, ’n’ we needed to bash him with blunt magic weapons to kill him. Since I didn’t have any of those, I pulled out Mr. Quiet ’n’ started usin’ him as Forth ’n’ Alembic moved away, ’n’ I told Alembic he’d need to speed me up ’n’ Llew she’d need to move away from me. Alembic sped us up and moved up into the air, then a big stinky yellow cloud o’ nasty landed on us ‘cause lich boy was done waitin’ for us to be ready. I coughed a bit, but kept focusin’ on Mr. Quiet, ’n’ Llew, bein’ sweet ’n’ knowin’ I was ‘bout to do somethin’ immensely clever (though she never calls it that) protected me from lich stuff. Mr. Quiet went off an’ I went sprintin’ into the open, lookin’ for the lich, and with Alembic’s Haste at work I got far enough to see him tryin’ to hide behind a building. Bein’ dead ’n’ all, he wasn’t very hide-y.

He didn’t like the way I was runnin’ straight at him, ’n’ that was kind o’ my plan ‘cause I was Silenced so he couldn’t scream at me, ’n’ I was Death Warded ’n’ I was protected from cold, so I didn’t think there was much he could do to me. He looked at me all evil-like and let out a maniacal cackle ‘cause I think they sign a contract that they have to do that when they’re bein’ evil, ’n’ he threw a Fireball at me and I kind o’ laughed back at him ‘cause throwin’ a Fireball at a gnome’s kind o’ like throwin’ poisoned candy at a goblin… whatever that means. ‘Cept the Fireball didn’t mean anythin’ to me ’til I spun away from one particularly ornery lick o’ flame ’n’ saw Forth standin’ right behind me burnin’ like a dwarf at an Asmodean roast. He had the big bloodshot eyes, ’n’ the look o’ dumbfounded surprise, ’n’ the perfectly-shaped ‘O’ mouth in the middle of a smoulderin’ beard that smelled like burnin’ dog…

What the friggin’ heck, Forth! What are you doin’ behind me?!?!?!

I tried to gesture to Forth to get the heck away from me, ‘cause bein’ ‘round me’s dangerous ’n’ all, but that’s when the second Fireball hit. Bein’ as I’d had a decent breakfast and a nice night’s sleep I didn’t have any trouble dancing aside from this one either, but Forth roasted some more and I was startin’ to think that one more o’ those things’d do him in.

Darn it, Forth! Don’t follow gnomes! You know better!

Lich boy started makin’ some kind o’ speech, but while it was easy to recognize the maniacal cacklin’, tryin’ to read those raspy dry lips was just beyond me, so I signaled to him that I couldn’t hear him ’n’ he’d have to wait on his soliloquy, and he gestured somethin’ rude at me, and I figured we’d just have to hate each other ‘cause we couldn’t even insult each other properly. At least I didn’t have to listen to his stupid soliloquy.

Since he’d been dumb enough to come out from behind the buildin’ to cast his second Fireball (I thought casters we’re s’posed to be smart. ‘Cept Alembic. He gets by by bein’ annoyin’, so maybe the lich was from his school), I ran up next to him, gave him my best big gnomish girly grin, heaved up my chest at him, and decided to follow him as his bestest friend wherever he went. Then Forth ran up and whacked him a good one, ‘cause he deserved it. I giggled, but I don’t think he heard it.

That’s when the other two liches popped out. Outside of my Silence field. That wasn’t good…
…then I caught sight of Alembic who flew up and cast a pit that didn’t do anythin’. That wasn’t good again…
…then Llew popped out from between some buildings, ran up, and whacked another of ‘em but good. That was good.

My bestest friend reached over and poked Forth with his finger. Yeah. It was about as effective as it sounds. I don’t know what he was expectin’, but Forth ’n’ I just standin’ there lookin’ at him all confused probably wasn’t it. We were kind o’ busy, so I’m sure the other liches (lichi? Lychees?) were doin’ things, but I distracted my friend a bit, ran up the side o’ the buildin’ and around behind him, ’n’ he tried to touch me too but he’s not my type so I didn’t let him, ’n’ I gave Forth the flank. So Forth killed him for me. Good Forth!

The other two liches weren’t amused by my antics, which is kind o’ what I do, so they Dispelled Spidey ’n’ I fell into Alembic’s pit, but I made my fall gentle so it was just a little stingy acid ’n’ I could deal with it, ’n’ the other dropped another o’ those clouds on me so I couldn’t see a thing. Which was all right by me, ‘cause I needed to be busy down there ’n’ didn’t need them droppin’ anythin’ else on me. By that time Mr. Quiet’d worn off ’n’ I heard Llew ’n’ Forth beatin’ the livin’ tar out o’ the liches who were too busy tryin’ to kill me to defend themselves. I pulled out my last scroll o’ Fly, figurin’ it would be faster’n usin’ Spidey, ’n’ by the time I flew up the liches were all dead. Nice job, gang!
I started usin’ my wand o’ not bein’ sick any more to heal myself up from the clouds (Sicky? Welly? Wally!), ’n’ Forth made me come near so he could channel ’n’ heal me. Which was sweet ’n’ all, but I was pretty much fine ‘cept for a few acid burns. Forth, not so much…

While we were healin’ up, Llew said we had to find their prophylactics ’n’ destroy them to make ‘em stay dead forever. I gave her a quizzical look so she drew me a picture. That was even more confusin’.
But I was not about to ask my priestess ‘bout the matin’ habits o’ liches, ‘cause lookin’ at what they used to prevent themselves from havin’ little lichlings, I just didn’t want to know. We grabbed their loot (a few thousand gold worth o’ boots ’n’ headbands ’n’ such), ’n’ Llew said we were all stinky (‘specially me) so I tried usin’ my gnomish Prestidigitation to clean up ’n’ it worked. Who knew? That’s not what the temple taught me it was for, but that’s enough o’ that.

Since they’d apparently said they were the town council or somethin’ durin’ the first guy’s soliloquy, we decided to check the city hall for anythin’ interestin’. There were three daises in there, and the first two didn’t have anythin’ interestin’, but the third had a secret stash with some kind o’ book in it. The first bit o’ the book was town records, but the rest was apparently spells ’n’ such. There was a silly little explosive glyph protectin’ the book, but tryin’ to make a gnome explode’s after she’s had a decent non-dwarven breakfast just isn’t goin’ to work. I cleared out that one ’n’ we threw the book in my pack, ’n’ the others said I’d just been careless with the other podiums ’n’ it turned out they were right ’n’ we got two more o’ the books, all protected with glyphs ’n’ such, but they weren’t much use against me since I wasn’t weighted down by mushrooms ’n’ grain ’n’ sadness.

We moved on pretty quickly after that, ‘cause we were all warded ’n’ such ’n’ the spells wouldn’t last that long. We checked down by the river, but it looked like some kind o’ barracks-y place that wasn’t interestin, ’n’ the next house was a big rich person’s house with about half an alchemical lab in it, which didn’t make much sense but I guess rich people do weird things too. Alembic said it was all equipment for extractin’ diamonds from other things, but as usual, I didn’t want to know. The rest o’ the street were more rich people’s houses, and all we learned was that the rich people had MUCH bigger houses than the poor people, but they were just as dead, ’n’ their houses got looted much worse’n the poor people’s. So yeah, bein’ rich. Overrated. Leave me in the streets playin’ with the dogs ’n’ the urchins, thanks!

Once we’d figured out we were pretty much done with the town, we went back and searched it more throughly, since the only thing left was the golem. I suggested to Alembic that he hold up the Farbridge gear ’n’ call out the Farbridge password, ‘cause he was a Farbridge ’n’ I figured it’d work. But Alembic, so he didn’t want to do it. So we went a while arguin’ about all the other possible things to do, like lurin’ the golem out somewhere in the wilderness or whatnot, but finally sense prevailed and in went Alembic, lookin’ white as a sheet, holdin’ up the gear ’n’ hopin’ not to die. The golem woke up ’n’ told him to speak the password. So he did. And it didn’t eat him! So I winced ’n’ held up the Blackburn gear, figurin’ if anyone was goin’ to get eaten or beaten it’d be me, ‘cause I don’t even look like a human, but I called out the Blackburn password ’n’ I was OK. Llew used the Farrington password, ‘cause Pharasma, ’n’ Forth used the Muskgrove password, ‘cause mayor, and ‘cause the only one left was mine again! Jeggare! I giggled at gettin’ the worst families, but it worked! The golem sat back down on its haunches ’n’ looked like it was goin’ to let us in.

So I started tryin’ to gather up all the gears from everyone to put ‘em away for safekeepin’, but one o’ the bodies chained to the door (yeah, they’ve been chainin’ bodies so many places I hardly even notice ‘em any more) came alive, charged forward, and ripped Llew nearly to pieces! To add insult to injury, it wrapped all its chains around her so she was bleedin’, chained, and pissed off! Through gritted teeth, she said it was a “gallows dead”, created by hangin’ people to be tortured to death (like these guys), but we could just beat ‘em to death. Figurin’ that wasn’t my department, I gave Llew a bit o’ luck to try to help her get out of her chains, ‘cause they looked pretty nasty. But instead of usin’ it, she put up her aura to protect us from death, ‘cause that’s what’d hurt her so badly. Forth beat on the critter to try to make it let go, so it did and started beating on him. But even though Forth bleeds a lot he’s not as grabby, so the chains couldn’t get a grip. Llew moved around to give Forth a flank so she was way out of reach, so I gave Forth luck instead. And he killed the thing. Not a bad use o’ luck.

‘Cept then the other two popped off the wall and attacked. It was a veritable chain of fools! Alembic tried another spell that didn’t work (he’s doin’ that more and more these days. May have to ask him about it), but I kept pourin’ luck into Forth ’n’ Llew kept bein’ Llew so the other two died much faster’n the first one. I even tried channelin’ at ‘em, but it was about as good at hurtin’ monsters as it was at healin’ friends. We healed Llew ’n’ Forth up, ‘cause they both needed a LOT of healing, and I walked over to the door with all the gears.

And almost fell over! The gears were suddenly really, really heavy! As was my haversack! All my magic was gone! Stupid door! Do you KNOW how much stuff I carry? So I put everythin’ down so I could move, ’n’ started liftin’ the heavy gears into place (and why is the GNOME doin’ this?). Each time I put one in it clicked into place and there was all kinds of whirrin’ and bangin’ and whatnot, and when I put the fifth one in the whole door sunk into the floor! I winced, figurin’ a horde o’ undead were gonna pounce on me, but… nothin’!

The other side o’ the door was a deep room with some kind of altar at the back, so I dragged all my stuff in and found out the magic came back about 5 feet into the room, then I looked down at the gears and watched ‘em whirrin’ and listened to ‘em clickin’ and figured we had ‘bout an hour before the door went back up again. Or had I heard that somewhere? Didn’t matter! Sounded right! The others were kind o’ leery ‘bout comin’ cross the no-magic zone, but eventually they all did ’n’ we looked around the room. The altar was to Urgathoa (no surprise) and had been added later (no surprise), and there were carts for carryin’ diamond dust (no surprise), and they even had some diamond dust in ‘em (no surprise, considerin’ the curse). At the other end o’ the room were tracks leadin’ deeper into the mines (please, someone! Surprise me!), ’n’ there were some papers lyin’ on the floor. I looked at ‘em and they looked like gobbledygook, but I’d prepared Comprehend Languages that mornin’ ‘cause Calistria loves me when I pick random stuff so I cast it… and it was still gobbledygook. Or at least nothin’ interestin’. Just mining ledgers and whatnot that nobody but Forth or Alembic’d be interested in.

I finally got surprised when Llew said the altar hadn’t been used in a while. Why build it if you aren’t going to use it? We didn’t see anythin’ else, and we didn’t know whether or not we were goin’ to go down into the mines yet, so Forth started lookin’ around and he found a secret door! In proof positive that gnomes should NEVER eat dwarven food, I had no trouble at all seein’ more explosive glyphs and disarming them, then unlocking the door. Take that, mushroom oatmeal!

Inside the room was a little 20’ x 20’ room, all dark. I activated my ioun torch and there was a guy in a cage in the middle of it. Because Calistria thinks I’m her extra-special girl I cast Deathwatch and I could tell everybody that he was alive! Probably another plague victim or somethin’. The rest o’ the room made it obvious what it was for: There were torture devices all over the wall, ’n’ the guys’ cage was all barbed and nasty. Forth said he wasn’t evil, so I went over to open the locks but there weren’t any, so I just glared at Forth. Llew suddenly gasped. The man in the cage was Father Farrington! The real one! And he was all messed up!

So I pulled out my scroll of Heal and I prayed to Calistria that since I was her favorite most-special gnome today could the scroll please work for once and IT DID!!! And I Healed Father Farrington right up and got rid of all his diseases and wounds and madness and all that and I felt extra special and I told him he owed me a scroll of Heal because those things are expensive.

He was confused.

Then Llew started talkin’ to him and we got some good information: The Mother of Wights had found an artifact that would help her raise an army of undead, but she needed living beings to raise. So she’d gone deeper and deeper into the mines ’til she’d found a breech into the Darklands, where she’s buildin’ her own undead empire.

This is bad.

He said he was tortured every few days, so we probably had a little while. He figured they’d been waitin’ for him to starve to death, but he had on a Ring of Sustenance so he hadn’t. Llew asked him about the liches and he said the Mother of Wights’d called them unworthy so their prophylactics were disguised as spellbooks. In my pack. Eeeeeeeeew! Now I have to clean it! With fire and death!
Once we had Father Farrington out of the room, I locked it up again. Then jammed the lock. Then glued the whole door. It might not hold ‘em out for very long, but at least they weren’t going to get through the lock!

We headed outside and I made a nice little campfire out o’ my bead and the prophylactics, ’n’ they burned just fine ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Father Farrington ’n’ Alembic all made sure they were good and destroyed, and I was happy ‘cause I didn’t want to think about baby liches, much less see any, and nothin’ came out so after an hour the door closed and I went back and got the gears, ‘cause I don’t mind being in no-magic fields.

Then Father Farrington told us it’d be a week before we could open the door again. Oops.

Alembic teleported us back to town, ’n’ we sold the liches’ gear (after I’d cleaned it as best as I could) ’n’ distributed the loot. I restocked all the scrolls I’d used in town, then decided that Comprehend Languages’d been so useful I ought to learn what the underground elves speak. So I headed on over to the temple, ’n’ my priestess looked at me with her big pretty green eyes and asked, “Underground Elves?”, so I went ’n’ found Greenbrow ’n’ gave him the big eyes and he wouldn’t talk ‘bout underground elves, but he said most o’ the underground fey learn a language called Undercommon to be able to talk to each other ’n’ all the other underground critters. Kind o’ like Common for bein’ underground. Hey!

So I wandered a few taverns askin’ ‘bout learnin’ Undercommon ’n’ they said I should talk to Forth but I figured it should be a surprise, so I started pokin’ round the libraries in town ’n’ most of ‘em shooed me away ‘cause gnome, but eventually I found an old guy who seemed like he spoke a lot of languages ‘cause he told me to go away in a lot of ‘em so I turned the big eyes in full force on him and he succumbed to my will and let me borrow a couple o’ books on Undercommon.

Bein’ a gnome, I didn’t study ‘em. I just put ‘em under my pillow and prayed extra hard to Calistria to grant me yet another boon, ‘cause I was greedy and fickle. I did my obeisances and went to sleep, and I guess I prayed right ‘cause in the mornin’ durin’ my prayers I realized I spoke Undercommon!

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Session 42, played 31-Mar-2019

Even though Forth ’n’ I were all healed up from bein’ dead ’n’ such, Llew ’n’ Alembic were still pretty banged up so Forth did some healin’ on ‘em, and we started takin’ stock of our resources, such as it were. I was fine, of course, ‘cause I don’t do much but throw things, and I’d already done my shoppin’, but Alembic was almost tapped out, ’n’ so was Forth, so they wanted to rest up ’n’ recharge before we went back up. Trouble was, by my reckoning, the adamantine golem was just wakin’ up and would be on its way any time now, so we couldn’t exactly spend the night in town or anythin’. It took a few minutes of explanin’, but eventually Alembic let Llew tell me that golems are slow. We were travelin’ to and from Finder’s Gulch in only an hour or two ‘cause we were teleportin’ and usin’ flyin’ steeds, but the golem wasn’t goin’ to take hours to get here, it was goin’ to take closer to a week! So I figured that meant it was bath time, so I got another big ol’ human-sized room with a human-sized bed an’ a human-sized bath ’n’ did some swimmin’ ’n’ divin’ ’n’ playin’ ‘round like an otter, but eventually I decided I needed to get some rest, ‘cause bein’ dead probably isn’t all that good for you, even though I felt fine.

In the mornin’… well, no. AT NIGHT TWO HOURS BEFORE DAWN I got that pokin’ in my head that told me it was time to do my prayin’, so I wanted to get back to sleep so I just said, “Gimme whatever I had yesterday,” ’n’ tried to curl up again, but the goddess in my brain told me it didn’t work that way ’n’ I had to get up anyway ’n’ do my prayin’ right ’n’ proper to get my spells, ’n’ I’d’ve cursed her but I was sure Calistria didn’t like the rules any more’n I did, ’n’ she’d probably rather be in bed herself with a couple dozen elves ‘stead o’ listenin’ to me stammer through my prayers. But I got through ‘em (can’t pray in bed, either. Stupid rules!) ’n’ got another hour o’ sleep, then got up and went downstairs. Seein’ Forth, I realized I’d never had dwarven food, so I ordered a “hearty dwarven breakfast”. And got mush. A lot like the stuff I got at the orphanage, except this stuff was thicker ’n’ browner, ’n’ you could stand a spoon in it. And are those… mushrooms? No wonder dwarves are always so grumpy!

As I was busy chokin’ down breakfast, blessin’ Calistria that I had a small stomach so I wouldn’t have to suffer much longer, Llew ’n’ Alembic came down and all three of ‘em had eggs ’n’ bacon ’n’ sausages ’n’ muffins ’n’ fresh fruit, ’n’ Forth said he was eatin’ exotic food. I’d have to be sure to stab him in the shins later.

Once we’d “eaten”, Alembic teleported us back to the edge o’ the farmlands just outside o’ Finder’s Gulch, ’n’ summoned us some Phantom Steeds. I wasn’t feelin’ particularly adventurous after my dwarven meal, so I just asked for a horse that was the same color as the road, since that was the same color as my breakfast so if I threw up on it nobody would notice. ‘Cept maybe the mushrooms’d stand out a bit. We got to the first farmhouse with the fire pit, ’n’ the pit wasn’t burnin’ any more, meanin’ that Llew’d done her job right. As if I ever doubted. We kept on ridin’ ’til we got into a big ol’ orchard full o’ what used to be cherries ’n’ apples, ‘cept now Llew ’n’ Alembic said they were corrupted ’n’ they’d be poisonous. I asked what’d happen if I fed one to a steed, ’n’ Llew told me not to, ’n’ Alembic said they weren’t hungry ’n’ they ate only gnomes, ‘cause they feed on magic. I didn’t care whether or not he was lyin’, ‘cause it was a good story and it was more fun to think ‘bout my horse tryin’ to eat me. I kept a dagger at its ear, just in case.

‘Cept I probably shouldn’t’ve been musin’ ‘bout stabbin’ my horse in the middle o’ hostile territory, ‘cause suddenly this giant green ram with vines ’n’ thorns instead o’ wool came chargin’ out o’ the woods ’n’ rammed right into me. ‘Cause ram. ’N’ it was the weirdest thing! It hit me dead-on, ’n’ I saw its horns tryin’ to rip into me ’n’ tear out my guts, but it didn’t hurt at all. ‘Cept Forth was makin’ noises ’n’ blood was spurtin’ out from him all over so it was kind of obvious he’d done that thing to save me! How sweet! I’d have to hug him… once he wasn’t spillin’ his guts all over the ground o’ course. Lookin’ at how bad he looked, I had to admit, I was glad it wasn’t me!

I started tryin’ to move around it to give Llew ’n’ Forth a flank (can you even flank a plant? ‘Cept it looked like a ram. ‘Cept it was a plant. Anyhoo…). It started buckin’ ’n’ rompin’ about, jumpin’ ‘round ’n’ tryin’ to stomp on us. And yeah, I got stomped on. I blame the oatmeal. And the early wake-up. It hurt a lot, but Forth channeled ’n’ that made it hurt less, ’n’ Alembic put up an invisible wall to keep it away from us long enough for us to buff up, which Llew was doin’ already. Not wantin’ to get trampled again, I pulled out Thorn’s last tree ’n’ threw it right in front o’ the ram, which slowed it down a bit more so it only stomped on me this time, but again the oatmeal ’n’ the lack o’ sleep did me in and I got a hoof in the gut for my troubles. While I was lyin’ there sufferin’ I noticed that it’d trampled all our wonderful steeds as well. Will this day never end?

Llew came ‘round ’n’ started stabbin’ it, ’n’ I went up the tree, so it got bored o’ tramplin’ on me ’n’ started beatin’ on Forth. Didn’t look fun. And I’d been there. Llew yelled at Alembic to do somethin’, so he sped us all up, which was nice ‘cause it got me up the tree ’n’ away from the ram faster, ’n’ hopefully Llew ’n’ Forth’d kill it before it killed Forth (again). I figured the only way I was going to hurt a giant ram-plant-thing was to try to hit somethin’ vital inside of all those weeds, so I went up a little higher ’n’ hid from it, but then Alembic hit it with a big ol’ Fireball ’n’ that was enough to let Forth see an opening and he killed it.

We didn’t want it re-sprouting or anythin’, so I dropped my Campfire Bead on it to start it burnin’, ’n’ we started healin’ each other up, ‘cept we didn’t get much time to do so ‘cause I heard another couple o’ casters comin’. Probably the owners o’ the ornery ram plant shrubbery. Now that I knew what I was s’posed to do with casters, I turned myself invisible, ’n’ they summoned a big poofy air thingy to fight us. Alembic called it an air elemental, but I think big poofy air thingy is funner to say. ‘Cept it takes too long. So now it’s George. Another “earth elemental” named Fred came crawlin’ up out o’ the ground, so Alembic Fireballed ‘em both to test the waters, as it were. I started Silencin’ myself so I could do some good, but they could see me and cast some kind o’ spell that bounced off me ’n’ Alembic. Alembic said it was some kind o’ pollywog spell, which I figure meant they were tryin’ to turn me into a frog, which is kind o’ cliché if you ask me.

Once my Silence was up I ran up near Fred ’n’ I figured he’d just run away ’n’ cast more spells at me, but Llew ’n’ Forth took the cue ’n’ ran up ’n’ started poundin’ on him. George summoned in some bitey bugs that were really annoyin’ ‘cause they could see invisible things too, so I got stung a bit, but Fred was all out o’ luck ‘cause he could either run away ’n’ get hit by Llew ’n’ Forth, or he could try to fight ‘em. He tried to fight ‘em. It ended pretty much as you’d expect, ‘cept when I went around to give Llew ’n’ Forth a flank the bugs didn’t follow me ’n’ started eatin’ Alembic instead. I’d’ve laughed, but I was silenced and invisible, so Alembic wouldn’t’ve heard it anyway. Alembic doesn’t like bugs, so he blew most of ‘em up with another Fireball. George was runnin’ out o’ stuff to throw at us, but I couldn’t get near enough to him to silence him, so Llew ’n’ Alembic just killed him from afar. Not very bright to protect yourself from melee fighters in an arrow-and-casting fight.

Once the elementals were dead, they turned into elves with Urgathoan symbols all over ‘em. I figured it was some kind o’ mind control or torture, but Llew ’n’ Alembic told me they were “Creeping Death Druids”, which sounds more like somethin’ they’d be comin’ to the temple o’ Calistria to get cured discreetly than somethin’ they’d be braggin’ ‘bout.

We healed up, I stopped the rambush from burnin’ down the forest (yes, I made that up myself, and I’m proud. Sort of), we burned the elves ‘cause why not, Alembic summoned more steeds, ’n’ we moved on. And we got to Finder’s Gulch!

And there, sittin’ right atop the entrance to the mine we were s’posed to go into to get at the Mother o’ Wights, actin’ like the reignin’ construct king o’ the world, was one o’ the hounds.
It was big ’n’ mean-lookin’, ’n’ we knew we couldn’t kill it, so we had to figure out what to do instead. I suggested flyin’ over it ’n’ lurin’ it ‘round Finder’s Gulch ’n’ havin’ it trample all the buildings to flush out any undead that were hidin’ in the city. But since we didn’t know how high it could jump or what it’d react to, we decided to try goin’ in all sneaky-like, ’n’ checkin’ to make sure it didn’t sense us.

We looked around at the nearby buildings, ’n’ sure enough there were wights all huddled in the shadows waitin’ to ambush us. First Alembic did a bunch o’ stuff ‘cause we knew we’d need it, like makin’ us fly ’n’ makin’ us resistant to cold ’n’ givin’ us Life Bubbles. Once we were ready Llew put up her protective field ’n’ Forth Death Warded himself ’n’ Alembic made him fly and he flew on over to the first building full of ‘em ’n’ channeled at ‘em. They shot a bunch o’ arrows at us, but without the ability to drain us they didn’t do much at all. Alembic cast some spell I’d never seen before that killed a bunch of ‘em, ’n’ Llew Death Warded me so I could go in. She’s generous that way, ‘cause I know how much she likes killin’ undead.
Once we were all protected it was pretty much of a slaughter, ‘cept Llew said these were like flies hangin’ ‘round a cow, and the big ol’ cow was probably in the big domed building off to our south(?) a bit. Didn’t matter which direction. It was a ways away.
‘Cept when we killed the last o’ the little guys some icy guy appeared ’n’ started attackin’ Llew ’n’ Alembic, ’n’ Llew said it was him. ‘Cept we were Death Warded ’n’ protected from cold, so all he could do was try to hack us to pieces. ’N’ we’re really good at that. So Llew got hacked up a lot, I tried to get my scroll o’ Heal to work ’n’ it didn’t, ’n’ Alembic failed to hurt it with a spell as Forth moved in. It hit all three of ‘em pretty hard! Nasty bugger! So I figured I was next on the menu ’n’ flew in ’n’ made Llew lucky.

Undead don’t like Llew when she’s lucky.

She carved him up like a misbehavin’ halflin’ at an Asmodean feast ’n’ big chunks o’ icy flesh started droppin’ all over the ground. Llew likes bein’ lucky. With all the pieces off of it, Forth managed to kill it, but both Llew ’n’ Forth were burnin’ with some kind o’ flame they said’d kill ‘em if they didn’t put it out. I started up one o’ my big scrolls o’ Restoration and by the time I cast it Llew’d put out the fire, but it healed up the rest o’ her (except her wounds) right quick. Forth cast a Restoration on himself.

I wanted to keep movin’, but Llew said she was gettin’ pretty low. I suggested one more fight, ’n’ she agreed. What could possibly go wrong?

We healed up ’n’ went over to the big building. I examined the door and removed the trap, then told Alembic to open it, then giggled ‘cause it was still locked. So I undid the lock as well, Alembic opened it, ’n’ fog came pourin’ out. We couldn’t see anythin’ in there! I tried to use my Feather Fan token to clear it out, but it wouldn’t work ’n’ Alembic finally told me to read the instructions (who does that?) ’n’ it has to be ON WATER? What kind o’ useless magic device is that?!?!!? So I started cussin’ in goblin ‘cause it’s a good cussin’ language ’n’ Llew got tired o’ my antics ’n’ just walked on into the fog. She said she heard 3 things in there, so I gave myself some light ’n’ rummaged around in my bag for a scroll o’ Wind Wall. Not the best way to clear fog, but at least we’d get a single 2’ wide path o’ clarity. Alembic opened a wall a ways away from us and send Forth in, and suddenly we had a two-front battle. I put up the Wind Wall right along the wall where I heard Alembic open it, ’n’ apparently that helped ‘cause Llew ’n’ Forth said they were in a big fight with some undead ladies. The ladies kept makin’ Llew bleed, so I kept channelin’ to stop her bleedin’, ’n’ that made the ladies mad, which made me happy. ‘Cept I couldn’t see anythin’. Just Llew startin’ bleedin’, then stoppin’, then startin’, then stoppin’. Was probably really irritatin’ for her.

Once the three ladies were dead, we found one survivor: A guy covered with Urgathoan tattoos who wasn’t a Creepin’ Crud Doodad, but an Urgathoan sacrifice all full o’ diseases. Forth, Llew, ’n’ I were all immune, but we all looked worriedly at Alembic. So Forth cured the guy ’n’ we decided to teleport him back to town.

We found 9 more people in the buildin’ once the fog cleared, but they were all dead, so we gave ‘em rites ’n’ teleported back just outside of town. Llew took the guy in ’n’ turned him over to the Pharasmans, then got a Periapt of Health for Alembic ’n’ gave it to him.

Since we were now all disease-free, we headed into town ’n’ spent the night.

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Considerin’ that we’d just heard that some unkillable giant adamantine death golem-hound-thingy was goin’ to be comin’ after us in a bit over 24 hours, the rest o’ the group was remarkably calm, kind o’ like they’d either figured somethin’ out, or they’d resigned themselves to spendin’ the rest o’ their lives airborne. I figured it’d have some plus sides; we could fly over the Mother o’ Wight’s place ’n’ let the golem wreak some havoc for us risk-free, but I figured there were some things I didn’t want to spend my life doin’ airborne (though others could be funnier; where’s Blackburn’s personal chimney, anyhoo?), but I trusted Forth ’n’ Llew, ’n’ yeah, even Alembic, ‘cause he’s a coward ’n’ he’d do the worst o’ the lot of us airborne all his life, so if he wasn’t panicking, neither would I.
So when they said, “Let’s head back to town ’n’ rest for the night,” I figured it was ‘cause they didn’t think the giant death machine was worth worryin’ ‘bout yet, so I wouldn’t worry ‘bout it either.

We first teleported back to Logas, and since we had all five gears now, I set about tryin’ to get myself some more scrolls to defend from arrows. Neither the temple o’ Calistria nor Blackburn had any more scrolls o’ Fickle Winds (I almost told Blackburn that Jocelyn was better ‘cause she’d had one the last time I’d asked her, but I figured since it was almost certainly her accuser devil sittin’ there in Blackburn’s office I shouldn’t draw attention to her at the moment. Subtle, that’s me!), so I had to make do with four scrolls o’ Wind Wall. Not as effective nor as fast, but easier for me to use in a pinch and a lot cheaper, so there was that. And hopefully there were few enough o’ the arrow guys that one’d be enough, but with undead they typically come in hordes, or so I’m told. While I was shoppin’, Llew had Alembic teleport her to Eledir a couple o’ times to bring back some non-evil Pharasmans to re-populate the temple she’d inquisited, ‘cause she’s responsible that way. Me? I would’ve completely forgotten ‘bout that by now, ‘cause it’d been almost a day.

Even though we had some time before Ouchy showed up (well, it needed a name, didn’t it?), I figured it wasn’t smart to take risks so I stayed in the inn with the others, but I made sure to get a full-sized room ’n’ bath ’n’ everythin’, ‘cause baths are good.

In the morning (after my stupid prayers that I’m already hatin’ havin’ to get up for, but Calistria was obviously feelin’ sorry for me ‘cause she gave me a bonus spell in the mornin’, so I chose one that’d deflect arrows, ‘cause it seemed like a smart thing to do), we went downstairs to breakfast ’n’ there was a gift basket full o’ breads ’n’ sweets for us. It was from Blackburn, thankin’ us for takin’ care o’ Farrington, ’n’ I figured that was right neighborly of him, ‘specially considerin’ he had a special dark brown muffin labeled as just for me. I bit into it all excited-like wonderin’ whether I was goin’ to turn into a bug or throw up or have rhinoceroses come outta my butt or somethin’, but it was just… chocolate. A brown muffin that tasted like chocolate? What kind o’ special surprise was that?

Blackburn’s a sadist, he is.

Once we were ready to go, Alembic teleported us to Griswold’s hut. Someone threw a rock at it, but I didn’t even get to deny it ‘cause nobody cared, not even Griswold. Then Alembic gave us Phantom Steeds so we could ride on up. I was too distracted by the chocolate muffin fiasco to say what I wanted, so Llew made Alembic give me a horse that looked like a fluffy white cloud or a poodle, and I thought it was pretty cool, though it wasn’t floofy ‘nough, so I thanked Llew ’n’ we rode on up into the hills.

By around noon, we found ourselves pretty high up in the hills, ’n’ we came over a crest ’n’ we were overlookin’ a huge basin. Lookin’ down into it, we saw abandoned farms along the outskirts, so it looked like we were on the edge o’ the civilization ‘round Finder’s Gulch, which meant we had to be on our guard to look out for both guards ’n’ undead. We started ridin’ in, ’n’ right there while we were ridin’ past the first set o’ fields somethin’ spoke in our heads ’n’ said, “Come no further, humans, or you die!”
I figured I didn’t want to go on without Alembic, ’n’ maybe the disembodied voice was talkin’ ‘bout Llew, too, Llew asked it whether it was guardin’ the place or ‘fraid o’ the place or what, ’n’ it offered that if they let it eat me they could go. Llew drew her sword at that point, ‘cause she’s sweet that way.

I looked ‘round for it so I could point it out to Forth ’n’ Alembic ‘cause they’re not very observe-y, ’n’ I saw it hidin’ in the grass about 60 feet off the road, so I rode my FLYING HORSE THAT LOOKED LIKE A CLOUD right up over it, ‘bout 20 feet up, ’n’ I could see a big ol’ snake thing coiled up in the grass below me.

Then I learned a lot o’ things.

First, I learned that snakes can jump up pretty high; at least 20’. Second, I learned that snakes bite really really hard. Third, I learned that snakes are really really dry. I felt all the water bein’ ripped out o’ my system, and all those beautiful baths that kept my skin nice ’n’ moist were all done away with. On the bright side, I didn’t need to pee any more. Fourth, though I kind o’ already knew this, snakes are grabby. Fifth, Forth has some kind o’ spell that makes snakes let you go, which is a really specialized kind o’ spell for a paladin to be wanderin’ around with, but I was happy he had it ‘cause I popped right out o’ the snake’s coils and landed safely on the ground. Sixth, Llew called out that we were facing a “Hollow Serpent”, some legendary undead thing that could only be created by gods, and that was really, really, really dangerous, ’n’ did all kinds o’ water-drainin’ stuff to people. I could confirm that for her.

So, not bein’ a complete idiot, I went all dodgy ’n’ ran away, and the snake nearly nicked me again anyway. That is one dangerous snake! An’ my little legs weren’t long enough so it looked like I was gonna be snake chow. Ah, well, at least I could probably find somethin’ interestin’ in my bag to do from the inside. Alembic ’n’ Llew started buffin’, probably figurin’ I’d be able to get away and I was sorry I’d be disappointin’ ‘em, but then Forth did somethin’ else ’n’ I was standin’ next to Llew ’n’ Alembic and Forth was the one ‘bout to get eaten! Stupid dwarf! Gettin’ out o’ scrapes like that is MY job; at least let me take a chance at it, or die tryin’! Oh, and thanks. Appreciate you savin’ my life.

So o’ course it grabbed Forth ’n’ started eatin’ him, ‘cause it’s what snakes do, ’n’ what Forth does, ’n’ Llew ran up but slipped on some o’ my blood ’n’ missed it pretty badly. Sorry, Llew! I’ll try to bleed less next time! Forth did his smitey thing and hit the snake somethin’ awful, so bad it started runnin’ away with him, but Alembic was havin’ none o’ that and put up a stone wall in front of it to try to make it stop ’n’ fight like a real snake. Do real snakes stop ’n’ fight? I dunno. I’ll have to visit Greenbrow ’n’ find out, ‘cause information is important to the soul. That’s a good enough reason, I bet.

Since I was in the clear now, I pulled out a scroll o’ Freedom of Movement ’n’ put it on Llew to try to give her a helpin’ hand, ‘cause she really really really wanted to kill this snake, ‘cause Pharasma ’n’ legendary snake ’n’ all. Llew ran up and missed again (I blame Forth’s blood this time), ’n’ Forth cut loose like his life depended on it (which it probably did) ’n’ managed to kill the snake, at which point Llew kind o’ lost her temper ‘cause she didn’t even get to hit the legendary snake thing that was an enemy of her goddess ’n’ all, so I figured she needed a good ventin’. So when she cut off its head ’n’ mounted it on a pike I figured I’d try to help, but I was still all beat up ’n’ bloody ’n’ I couldn’t lift much normally and whatever the snake’d done’d made me even weaker, so I just cheered her on while Forth ’n’ I started healin’ up. And it took a LOT o’ healin’ for the two of us! That was one mean snake!

Once we were all done, ’n’ Llew was all done, Llew chastised me ’n’ Forth for runnin’ on ahead all the time ’n’ gettin’ all beat up, ’n’ I’d’ve objected ‘cept I’d just done it, ’n’ I’m always teasin’ Forth for doin’ it, so lesson learned. For a minute I thought I’d lost my horse, ‘cause I had no idea how to go up ’n’ get it, but Alembic just flew on up ’n’ led it down for me ’n’ didn’t even tease me or anythin’. Things must be gettin’ serious. We moved on ’til we reached the farmhouse, and of COURSE it had a burnin’ pit with manacles on spikes in the middle, ‘cause why not? So I greased myself up (everyone started lookin’ at me funny, but heck if I’m goin’ anywhere near magic manacles without some handy grease on me), ’n’ Llew put a Magic Circle on us an’ we approached as a group, ’n’ this time I smelt the fires gettin’ hotter ’n’ smellin’ o’ burnin’ flesh ’n’ knew I was lookin’ at a haunt (see, I learned somethin’ in school!) so I yelled out, “Haunt! Get clear!” ’n’ dove for cover, but Llew’d spotted somethin’ in the dead center that’d caught her attention, ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic are Forth ’n’ Alembic, so they all got singed a bit when the haunt exploded.
Once the fire cleared, we looked at the pit ’n’ there were all kinds o’ silver holy symbols o’ all kinds o’ gods, Calistria ’n’ Pharasma included, ’n’ the one from Pharasma was platinum, meanin’ it was from someone important. Fortunately, it didn’t have any initials carved into it, which meant it wasn’t Farrington’s.

But Llew figured out the haunt: They’d been capturin’ good- and neutral-aligned clerics ’n’ others who were tryin’ to clean out Finder’s Gulch ’n’ they’d been ritually burnin’ ‘em in this pit. So Llew cut all the manacles ’n’ said words over their remains ’n’ took all the holy symbols to return to their respective temples ’n’ apparently that was enough to dispel the haunt. Nice job, Llew!
I tried to heal everybody o’ their haunt damage by channelin’ 3 times, but my power’s still pretty weak, so Forth had to wrap it up with a “real” channel.

Some day…

We rode on through the fields, ’n’ it wasn’t even an hour before somethin’ flew up ’n’ hit Alembic in the side. I would’ve teased him ‘bout it, ‘cept when I looked over there was a flyin’ guy with an evil-lookin’ holy symbol (Llew said it was Urgathoa) ’n’ a ranseur stuck in Alembic’s side. Llew jumped off her horse ’n’ ran around him to get in position ’n’ he hit her ’n’ made her bleed a bit, so I hopped off my horse ’n’ tried to move in to help, but he hit me when he shouldn’t’ve been able to, ’n’ did the same to Forth. Alembic backed off ’n’ put up a bunch o’ Mirror Images, ‘cause Alembic. But this time I really couldn’t blame him, ‘cause this guy hit hard.

Speakin’ o’ hittin’ hard, he decided he didn’t like gnomes ’n’ stepped back ’n’ laid into me. I felt a lot o’ important things get ripped up, ’n’ the world got all black ’n’ woozy, but I was still standin’ when he was done, so I created an extra image of myself ’n’ spit out, “Blessin’s o’ Calistria on you, Llew, now kick his ass!” and granted her Calistria’s luck. I think a couple o’ pieces o’ lung came with it. Or maybe liver. But it definitely tasted like lung. In any case, Llew had my luck, which she used to tear apart Mr. I Hate Gnomes while yellin’, “Lay off my gnome, you bastard!”
Sometimes, I love Llew.

Unfortunately, Forth decided to be all tactical, which doesn’t seem to be dwarves’ strong point, so instead o’ just steppin’ up and finishin’ the job, he walked around the guy to his back to get in a flank with Llew ’n’ give the guy a solid whack. Seein’ the guy raise his ranseur again, I figured I was done for ’n’ told Calistria I was comin’ up for another visit. ‘Cept instead o’ comin’ after me he declared Llew a “worthy foe” and tore into her instead. But she stayed standin’, so I gave her more luck ‘cause I was pissed ’n’ she was even more pissed ’n’ she killed him.

Then the two Fireballs hit us. I managed to dodge ‘em both, which was lucky, ‘cause I figure either one would’ve killed me in my condition, but it was really time to start gettin’ healthy again so I got out the wand Llew’d given me ’n’ started healin’ myself while Llew ’n’ Forth went to deal with the new guy. He was an obvious necromancer through-’n’-through, ’n’ so he started ramblin’ on ‘bout how we’d killed his obviously-deficient disciple ’n’ now he had to sully his hand by dealin’ with us himself ’n’ whatnot; all the standard evil megalomaniac schtick. I think they teach it in necromancer school, or it’s part o’ their spellcastin’ or somethin’.

Anyhoo, Llew ran ‘round behind him ‘cause at some point Alembic’d Hasted everybody but me, so he went ’n’ sucked a bunch of life out of Forth, who waited ’til Alembic’d dispelled the bad guy’s Mirror Images before goin’ in and givin’ Llew a flank. Llew tore him up somethin’ awful but he managed to get off a spell ’n’ teleported back near me, all healed up as if he’d never been hit, ’n’ he ’n’ Alembic traded some spells so I didn’t know what the heck was goin’ on. Since I was still half-dead and didn’t have any other tricks up my sleeve, I pulled out a tanglefoot bag ’n’ started runnin’ towards him. If you can’t kill him, at least mess up his sense of style!
Forth ’n’ Llew were comin’ huffin’ ’n’ puffin’ back our way (well, OK, Forth was huffin’ ’n’ puffin’ ’n’ Llew was just runnin’), so the guy got this weird look on his face and screamed and…

…oh, the agony o’ that scream! It was like everyone I’d ever loved who’d died was despairin’ all at once o’ ever seein’ the light o’ day again, and the blackness was overwhelmin’, and I was sinkin’, and…
…I was in line. A long, interminable line o’ countless creatures of all types, an’ I was thinkin’ I’d die of boredom before the line got through three people, and…
…I was in Calistria’s bedroom again, and I was lookin’ into those deep eyes, and thinkin’ that maybe I should be tellin’ her ‘bout her cleric in Logas who just might not be the deepest of depths, or even a puddle on a rainy day…

…and I was in Llew’s arms, with Blackburn smilin’ that evil smile o’ his behind her, and everything hurt, ’n’ suddenly she was kissin’ me square on the lips ’n’ tellin’ me that I was her good luck charm and I made everythin’ have meanin’ or something so I had to double check: Was it my corpse that was the good luck charm, or me?
She just hugged me tight ’n’ I tried to hug her back but I couldn’t reach ‘round her and I was still sore from bein’ dead, but she’d said a right pretty speech ’n’ I was cryin’ a bit, ’n’ I wasn’t into that kind o’ thing but if Llew needed it I’d be there for her, and not just ‘cause I was a Calistrian.
So I looked around, and Forth was there, and Blackburn was there, and Llew was there, and Alembic was there, and I was kind o’ expecting three farmer guys and an old auntie and a young human girl in blue with a stupid yappy dog, but I don’t know why I was thinkin’ that.

But we’d made it! We were all still alive! Relatively speakin’!

It turned out that the guy’d killed both me ’n’ Alembic with that scream o’ his (Alembic called it a Wail o’ the Banshee), but Forth’d sacrificed himself to save Alembic. ‘Cause Forth seems to like bein’ dead, ’n’ was probably happy to have me to keep him company in line, even though I hadn’t seen him there. I would’ve found him, ‘cause I wouldn’t’ve stayed in line anyway. Llew carved up the necromancer some more ’n’ Alembic finished him off with some Magic Missiles, ’n’ that let ‘em teleport straight back here, where they’d used their gathered cash (includin’ some o’ mine, which I didn’t mind) to bring me ’n’ Forth back.
By the time they were done explainin’ all that to me Blackburn had the Restoration ready ’n’ suddenly my strength was back so I could give Llew a proper hug, ’n’ then I hugged Forth ’n’ Alembic too, ‘cause I love ‘em all.

But I’m not doin’ very well any more. I asked ‘em outright: I could probably write the temple in Kyonin ’n’ get ‘em a proper cleric o’ Calistria to help ‘em out. She might be bristly, or snarky, or mean, but she’d be a proper undead-killin’ cleric o’ Calistria. ’N’ they all said they’d rather have me.

I don’t think I’ve blushed so much since…
…well, NEVER! I don’t get ‘shamed, so this is the next best thing!

But we were out o’ time. The golem was comin’. I got dressed, thanked Blackburn (‘cause you can insult ‘em all you want, but you gotta thank ‘em and pay ‘em proper for services rendered or it’s bad), ’n’ got to my contacts to sell our loot right quick. Seein’ that we’d gotten a wand o’ Invisibility, I got an idea in my little pea brain and bought a wand o’ Silence, too.

If I was gonna be doin’ nothin’ in every combat, I might as well be doin’ it while followin’ a caster around…

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Session 40, Played 17-Mar-2019

Well, it was time to go back to Logas and start investigatin’, so we teleported back, an’ I was beginnin’ to think that teleportin’ was overrated ‘cause you’re always wonderin’ where you are, what day it is, and whether Alembic really got you where you were goin’, and so forth, but it looked enough like Logas that *I* couldn’t tell the difference, so I set forth my proposal to the team: First, I needed to go to the temple o’ Calistria, and I couldn’t tell ‘em why, but if I didn’t come out they needed to come get me. They agreed to that a little TOO quickly, like Forth was waitin’ for an excuse to burn down the temple or somethin’, but at least they agreed to it. Forth even got clever and they took a couple o’ little cuts from the papers in case they got destroyed so they could re-make ‘em. Llew was sweet ’n’ all and offered to come with me, but my parents’d taught me well not to get outsiders involved in Calistrian dealings, so I figured we’d all be safer if I went in alone.

So I went in and asked to see the priestess, and I offered “valuable information in exchange for valuable information” like I was s’posed to when I was bein’ serious ’n’ all, but she still thought I might be jokin’ around and said my “valuable information” might not be all that valuable. So I went ahead ’n’ showed her the papers, ’n’ she gave me a clueless look like she didn’t know what they meant. So I told her. And she still stared at me with big blank eyes. No big evil Calistrian grin. No wheels within wheels. Just big, blonde, blank elven eyes waiting for me to get to the point. Either she was better’n I’d ever hope to be, or she wasn’t the brightest firefly in the Calistrian forest. So I came right out with it: “Is this your work?”
“What? No.”
It was all I really needed, so I thanked her, told her that knowin’ that Blackburn was either guilty o’ stealin’ the gear or bein’ framed was indeed valuable, ’n’ figured the reason she was still alive under a control freak like Blackburn was ‘cause she wasn’t a threat to him.
Ah, well, live and learn! At least she’d made me a cleric!

I went back to the group ’n’ told ‘em that I hadn’t learned anythin’ new, so I asked to teleport to Eledir ’n’ talk to Jocelyn. I know, I know, I’d just been complainin’ ‘bout teleportin’, but it’s a lot faster’n walkin’ or ridin’ (even on flyin’ horses), ’n’ it seemed like now we were in a hurry. This time Llew ’n’ Alembic wanted to come along ’n’ I told ‘em they were welcome. There were more hellknights ’n’ impaled people outside the temple this time, ’n’ I really didn’t mind ‘cause I thought ‘bout all those villagers who’d been raped, enslaved, or murdered on account o’ them and I figured bein’ impaled was kind o’ gettin’ off light, and I said, “Hi,” to the hellknight and he wasn’t grumpy or anythin’ so I guess he was used to me ’n’ we went on in. So I tried to be all clever ’n’ told her I was askin’ her for a favor ’n’ then showed her the papers ’n’ her eyes didn’t light up either. So it turned out she was just thinkin’ real hard ‘bout what to do, ‘cause the Asmodeans in Logas are way more powerful than the Asmodeans in Eledir, so she didn’t dare go directly against Blackburn, so she had to be slow ’n’ methodical. She asked whether I’d talked to Blackburn, ’n’ of course I hadn’t ‘cause that’d be a Forth thing to do, ‘cept Forth wouldn’t talk to Blackburn anyway ‘cause he hates Asmodeans, so it seemed like a silly question but she just gave me that look that told me I wasn’t thinkin’ Lawful. So I guess I was s’posed to just go ask Blackburn whether or not he was a fink. Whatever.

Anyhoo, Llew ’n’ Alembic thought talkin’ to Blackburn was a good idea, so back to Eledir we teleported. I kind o’ wanted to eat a vomit capsule just to throw up on Alembic, but I was savin’ up for some armor and while throwin’ up is fun, good armor is better. For now. Sooner or later, though…
Alembic started talkin’ ‘bout how since he was a noble he knew a bit about how to approach this whole thing, so since I don’t get the whole, “Talk to the person you’re accusin’,” thing, I decided to let Alembic do all the talkin’. And the very first thing that happened was that he asked an acolyte to see Blackburn ’n’ the acolyte asked whether we had an appointment. ‘Cause Alembic isn’t an annoyin’ gnome, or an albino inquisitor, or a grumpy dwarf, he’s just another human wannabe noble caster, so nobody recognizes him. Alembic convinced him to go tell Blackburn anyway, ’n’ he came back all terrified and apologetic, ’n’ I figured he was in for a bad evenin’, so I asked for an indulgence to stab him, ‘cause I thought it’d hurt less than whatever’d happen to him under Blackburn, but he said they’d take care of it, and he didn’t seem too happy about it. Guess he knew Blackburn, too.

We went in to his office, ’n’ Blackburn looked pleased as pie to see us. There was one o’ those ‘accuser devils’ like the one that’d been followin’ me (and as far as I knew still was) sittin’ in front of his desk, out of his sight, so I waited to see whether he knew about it. He welcomed us in, told us to pay no mind to the devil (though I poked it a couple o’ times, just to make sure it was real, ’n’ it slapped at me and acted all angry ’n’ scared, so I figured it was real), and told us he had a business proposition for us. So, he got all legal on us ’n’ told us that since the gear was legally the property o’ the Blackburn family, he had every right to retrieve it, and even more, he trusted the redcap more’n he trusted me. Well, NOW he was right to!

Anyhoo, he rambled on and on a bit ‘bout how many Asmodeans had been seduced by the Jeggares into workin’ for the Mother of Wights, ’n’ how he’d spent time in his own temple testin’ everyone he could, but he finally concluded that the corruption in Logas wasn’t from his own temple, but he had a strong suspicion who it was but he couldn’t act against ‘em. I couldn’t figure THAT little bit out, but then he gave us the gear willingly and with no strings attached, verified that now we had 4 gears, ’n’ told us we wouldn’t be findin’ the Farrington gear on the trail. He said that he believed Farrington had turned.

Yep. Father Farrington. The Pharasman. I kind o’ ‘spected LLew to ‘splode right there. But as he leaned back with that big grin on his face and I looked ‘round at everybody else, I realized he thought he’d pulled some kind o’ coup on Llew ‘cause now she HAD to investigate Farrington. I dunno; I figure if someone tells you someone else is up to no good they’re doin’ you a favor, but ‘parently the way you do it matters, and Blackburn’d done it all wrong just to trap Llew into helpin’ him no matter what. He admitted that he didn’t think he’d be around for long, ‘cause the accuser devil meant that someone was investigatin’ him and they always put things in the worst light. I figured I owed him a solid, so I reassured him that MY accuser demon’d done all right by me, showin’ how much I hated the law and loved to break it just to make lawful sorts cranky, an’ I thought it did a bang-up job of representin’, me, but he didn’t seem all that reassured. Since Llew was mad at him I didn’t bother tellin’ him that the devil was Jocelyn’s. I figured they’d work that out between themselves; no point in gettin’ involved in church business, after all!

Once we were out I told Llew I figured him thinkin’ he’d trapped her was pretty funny. She disagreed, and still seemed pretty pissed. Most o’ the time I just think ‘bout Llew as this badass death machine who I just follow ‘round and cause mischief for, but I forget she takes her job really seriously, ’n’ Blackburn’d just really messed with her. Ooooh, it was going to take me a LOOOOOOOOONG time to figure out what to get Blackburn for his next nameday…

Anyhoo, once she was over bein’ peeved, Llew got pretty excited, ‘cause she really was goin’ to get to inquisit a high cleric of her own church for high treason ’n’ whatnot, so it was kind o’ what she was born to do (or whatever. I kind o’ doubt she was born, a wee little baby, and her parents looked at her and said, “Oooh, who’s going to go hunt down corrupt clergy of Pharasma now? You are!” And if they did, they were really, really sick folk and I don’t want to meet them). So Llew wanted to inquisit some acolytes as a warm-up act, ’n’ I thought it’d be pretty funny, but I was also sure I’d get in the way ‘cause I don’t do things right most o’ the time. OK, ever. If there’s a process, I’ll do it wrong, so I figured I’d just watch Llew’s back ’n’ get her out of any mischief. So she went to the church o’ Pharasma to check the records, ’n’ I went to the church o’ Asmodeus to buy myself an indulgence to break in in case Llew wasn’t successful. And I couldn’t! The slimy Asmodeans wouldn’t sell me indulgences to break into other people’s churches! What kind of law is THAT? It made no sense at all to me, but at least Llew got on better’n I did so it wasn’t needed. Stupid law! Told you that devil was right about me!

Llew’d learned that Father Ferrington had been a dedicated, zealous, undead fighter ’n’ had moved up in the ranks o’ Pharasma pretty quickly. He was an acolyte durin’ the times o’ the Goblin Wars, presided over Freya ’n’ Blackburn’s son’s wedding, ’n’ led an ill-thought-out assault force on Finder’s Gulch. He came back claimin’ victory, but had no proof, and changed from an undead-huntin’ zealot to an administrative paper-pushin’ politician. Things were already smellin’ fishy: Why hadn’t Blackburn presided over his own son’s weddin’? Who else was on that mission? That list was even more damning than anything we’d heard so far: Calum and Algeron Jeggare. The guys whose heads were adornin’ pikes ‘round the Asmodean church in Eledir. Basically, no one on the list who came back didn’t become important, and every one of ‘em whose name we recognized had become a scumbag. The list o’ dead included many o’ their direct superiors; in other words, men and woman with the spines to resist temptation. So the Mother o’ Wights had used the Goblin Wars as cover to sow discord ’n’ plant agents, ’n’ now, years later, we were the first ones to be unravelin’ it.

This was gonna get really, really ugly. Lots of clergy’s heads were gonna roll. ’N’ Llew was eatin’ it up. She was gonna purge her own church! I’ve never seen her with such fire in her eyes. Glad it wasn’t directed my way.

First things first, Blackburn seemed like he really wanted this purge to happen, ‘cause it’d make him more powerful, AND avenge his son, so at least his motivations were there on the table. We went back durin’ evenin’ services and saw the hapless acolyte gettin’ beaten, and it sure looked worse ’n’ a stabbin’ from me would’ve been, but his choice. Once he was done whimperin’ ’n’ such ’n’ the services were over we went on in and met with Blackburn ’n’ asked him why he hadn’t presided over his own son’s weddin’. Freya’d asked for it, o’ course, so he hadn’t gone to the wedding in protest. All very sensible and logical and useless.

We headed back for the inn, and some hopeless clods were tryin’ to follow us unseen. I tried to signal Llew quiet-like to let her know, but considerin’ she was practically quiverin’ with glee I figured she knew. I asked her whether she needed him delayed and she said, “Yes, please.”
Happy to oblige.
I vanished into the shadows the way a proper rogue does ’n’ waited for the man who was givin’ my profession a bad name to pass, then dropped a tanglefoot bag on him, just ‘cause it was funny and harmless and I figured I could afford the indulgence for that one. He tried to run away anyway, but Alembic put up an invisible wall behind him that he ran into, which was kind of funny, ’n’ Forth not knowin’ what was goin’ on ‘cause he’d missed it all was funniest of all. But Llew inquisited him ’n’ he said that “Delilah” had ordered him to follow us ’n’ “make sure we were safe”, which was a load o’ horse pucky ’n’ we all knew it. Llew let him go, ‘cause she wanted the church to know she was onto them, which must be an inquisitor thing. I offered to follow him, but she said she didn’t want me to put myself at risk, which was kind o’ insultin’ but kind o’ sweet at the same time so I didn’t. She said that “Delilah” wasn’t a good Pharasman name, but I wouldn’t know.

Everyone wanted to stay somewhere different for the night, but since they didn’t sleep ’n’ I did I figured I’d pay for the Inn & Outsider ’n’ let some unspeakable abominations guard me, ‘cause they’re Lawful ’n’ they like hurtin’ people ’n’ as a payin’ customer I figured that was what I needed. But when I asked for extra protection they wanted me to sign somethin’ so I just said, “No thanks,” and got one o’ the usual ultra-steep rooms with no demonic or diabolic or any other kind o’ company, ‘cause when someone’s tryin’ to kill you it’s no time for that kind o’ thing. The rest o’ the group stayed somewhere else, but nothin’ happened ’n’ I found ‘em in the morning well enough, other than that prayin’ in the devilish rooms was kind o’ weird, but I figured Calistria wouldn’t mind, ’n’ might even find it humorous to be prayin’ to a chaotic goddess in a lawful room ’n’ all.

Once I’d replaced my tanglefoot bag (right handy things) we Dimension Doored to Calum’s to avoid bein’ followed ’n’ he saw us right away and was friendly ’n’ all hosting goodness, ‘cept his story was just as bad as everyone else’s: He remembered leavin’ on the mornin’ o’ the journey, and then nothin’ else ’til his resurrection. I didn’t ask ‘bout Alembic shakin’ his jar ‘cause it was awfully funny but probably not all that important at the moment. All he remembered was that Sasskiya suggested the journey in the first place, and it was a big list o’ important people. And he was pretty sure he’d been killed on the journey to Finder’s Gulch, ’n’ had never made it there. Must be creepy, bein’ dead that long. Kind o’ makes me want to try it, but I might get fast tracked by Pharasma or someone might forget to bring me back, so probably not a good idea.

Anyhoo, everythin’ was pretty clear-cut at this point: We had the 3 gears from the families that didn’t go on the journey. Blackburn’d given us the 4th gear, ’n’ his son hadn’t gone on account o’ bein’ dead. Llew let loose.

And I mean let LOOSE. She declared the church o’ Pharasma in Logas a den o’ corruption that needed to be taken DOWN. Forth agreed to follow her lead, which was kind o’ impressive ’n’ terrifyin’ at the same time. We buffed ourselves as if we were goin’ to be takin’ on dragons ’n’ stormed into the church. Llew didn’t even let the acolyte try to delay her; she just said she was goin’ to see Farrington ’n’ the acolyte could barely keep ahead o’ her. Once she ’n’ her swirlin’ cloak was facin’ Farrington himself, she inquisited him but good, accusin’ him of consortin’ with the Mother o’ Wights, thereby committing high treason to his faith, ’n’ all kinds o’ other good stuff.

If I ever have to take down a temple of Calistria, I’m gonna let Llew do the talkin’.

She finished up askin’ him for a plea, ’n’ he just said, “Lock the doors and kill them all.”

So, I figured that meant I could kill anyone I could reach, but I was good ’n’ asked anyway. Llew ’n’ Forth told me I had free rein against anyone doin’ anythin’ but cowerin’. Fun!

You had to kind o’ feel sorry for ol’ Farrington. He thought he had the drop on us, ’n’ put up a stone wall between him ’n’ us ’n’ started tryin’ to slip away, but Alembic just made the wall go away ’n’ Llew stepped in with him and gashed him somethin’ awful. Forth could read the writin’ on the wall and just headed out to prevent any reinforcements from comin’ in. So there I was, useless again. Lookin’ at Llew and the soon-to-be-dead Father Farrington and Alembic right there to help her if he tried another getaway spell, I figured Forth was more likely to need help so I followed him into the hallway.
Farrington suddenly came out of another door ’n’ started runnin’ past us (how many doors are in this place, anyway?), but Forth was ready ’n’ cut him down ’n’ he turned into icy goo. Another simulacrum. What a surprise! I yelled it out, and Llew called back from somewhere that she knew. Some woman was tryin’ to cast somethin’ at us so Alembic dropped her in a pit, which was pretty funny ’til she spent a while screamin’ before goin’ quiet.

I do not like those pits on livin’ things. It’s just not right, no matter how evil they are. Just give ‘em a clean death ’n’ be done with it.

It was too crowded in the hall, so I ran through a bunch o’ legs into the room Ferrington’d come out of ’n’ found Llew comin’ in the other side. Imagine the luck!
So Llew ’n’ Forth started poundin’ on the acolytes in the hall, Alembic kept addin’ pits, and when I heard a woman down the hall castin’ somethin’ that singed Llew ’n’ Forth a bit I made Llew fly ‘cause I figured it’d be funny to see the caster meet the angry flyin’ Llew.
It was.

And no acid or screamin’.

She did hit us a bit with somethin’ stingy, but it wasn’t too bad, but then another door opened and more acolytes were murderin’ innocents right there, just to get at Forth. The monsters! Alembic had to drop the invisible wall he’d put up ’n’ I had to make Forth fly so he could get there on time, but just as he got there one o’ the acolytes tried to throw one o’ the innocents into one o’ the pits! Forth did some magic that saved him, but I was ready to stab ‘em all and throw ‘em into the pit myself, acid or no acid!
Casty lady got cut into little pieces and dropped into the acid pit by Llew, ‘cause avenging inquisitor is avenging, ’n’ she didn’t scream or anythin’, ‘cause pieces.

So Forth healed all the innocents, but one o’ the bad guys channeled negative energy to try to kill ‘em all. I did my best, callin’ on Calistria to heal their wounds, but she wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Forth ’n’ Llew just killed the priests. Llew cut the last one clean in half just for good measure. Forth channeled again and healed us up, ’n’ Llew gave me that look that said, “Keep Forth distracted,” so I started singin’ ’n’ dancin’ ’n’ askin’ stupid questions ’n’ talkin’ to the people we’d just saved ’n’ Forth figured it was totally normal for me so he didn’t hear the screamin’ in the next hall ‘cause ‘parently Llew or Forth’d left at least one guy alive back there ’n’ now he was regrettin’ it.

Llew’s good at what she does, so I wasn’t even out o’ one-eyed chicken jokes before she was comin’ back, cleanin’ off her mithral dagger. She told us that the real Farrinton was still in the mine, going on 5-6 years now. Everyone who came back from the raid was a simulacrum, including Farrington and the 2 Jeggares. The living originals were kept trapped in the mine in case the Mother of Wights needed to make new simulacra, ’n’ she kept ‘em constantly tortured to keep ‘em from gettin’ any ideas o’ escapin’. Some people, like Calum, fought to the death, which made me think better of him. But it sounded like I’d need a few scrolls o’ Heal before I went to the mines! The Farrington simulacrum blackmailed people into doin’ evil acts, then used those for more blackmail, ’n’ so forth, kind o’ like the tower. It was like the Mother o’ Wights was one big evil-makin’ machine.
We tore the place apart and learned a bit more: The gear was with a “trusted team” that had been sent to take it to the Mother o’ Wights the moment we caught the guy followin’ us the night before.

So of course Llew ’n’ Forth had to do everything Lawful-like. She sent her silver raven with a note to Jeremiah in Eledir ‘bout what she’d done to the temple here. Then she went to see Mayor Muskgrove. I’m not one to trust the law too much, so I made myself scarce ’n’ kept an eye on things from outside. They talked inside for a while, then a team of ‘em went over to the temple ’n’ looked around, talked to the survivors, ’n’ seemed to believe Llew’s story. But of course Llew ’n’ Forth weren’t done, so Llew went to see Blackburn ’n’ I hid again, ‘cause cautious, but ‘parently that went well too so I did no jailbreakin’ that night.

Blackburn was one step ahead of us. He told us we’d be facin’ 2 people and the Farrington golem, and he had a team following ‘em and could give us the approximate location. I kind o’ felt sorry for them. Then I thought o’ the innocent parishioners ’n’ figured I could stand the sound of one or two more acid pits.

We teleported out ’n’ waited in ambush. Eventually we heard ‘em coming, but Forth can’t hide for beans, so we barely had time to buff before they saw us. Forth rushed in headlong, o’ course, ‘cause Forth, and… hit himself?!?!? That’s a new one, Forth!
The clerics were just there to dispel whatever Alembic tried to do, so I figured that was smart if they didn’t like pits but stupid if they didn’t like gettin’ cut to ribbons by an angry inquisitor. But it turned out that only one of ‘em was doin’ that ‘cause the other one hit the golem with fire and it sped up and hit Forth somethin’ stupid. He bled more than I’ve seen in ages. Alembic dropped that one in a pit, and I wasn’t goin’ to argue, ‘cause Forth was lookin’ bad, even with Stoneskin ’n’ everythin’.

I flew in ’n’ did my job ’n’ got the golem to swing at me so Llew could get in clean, and she got a nice cut on it, but I was worried ‘bout Forth ‘cause I couldn’t help him quite yet ’n’ I needed him to last a few more seconds. The golem pounded Forth some more ’n’ his emergency “don’t die yet” spell went off so I knew he was in trouble. I pulled out my only scroll of Heal, prayed to Calistria… and it WORKED!!! The scroll actually WORKED!!! I called out to Forth that I could save him as soon as I could get to him…
…and Forth took the chance and flew to me, leavin’ Llew alone against the golem.
I heard all the crackin’ bones and winced, but at the end o’ the poundin’ she was still standin’ proud, badass heretic-slayer that she was, and as I Healed Forth she turned ‘round and out-and-out single-handed KILLED the golem.

I think the priest was demoralized at that point.

I’ll never know, ‘cause Alembic was mad ‘bout being Dispelled and just Disintegrated him right there. Guess no questionin’ for that one, then. Nor the acid pit one. We healed up Llew as best as we could and I clambered up the golem to get the gear, checked the trap, and…
…it had already been set off.

Uh oh.

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Session 39, Played 10-Mar-2019

In the mornin’ I chose “give me somethin’ random”, and ended up bein’ able to summon small critters ’n’ take fear off o’ people. I didn’t think the fear one would be of any use with Forth or Llew, and I didn’t think I could cast spells powerful ‘nough to cure Alembic of his fear yet. Ah, well! Maybe I’d get a chance to try it! Worst case I’d get to summon a celestial dolphin to flop around in the forest a bit, ‘cept it seemed kind o’ mean to do that to a dolphin. And what the heck’s “celestial” about dolphins?

Anyhoo, dolphins aside, I came out o’ the temple ’n’ met up with the rest o’ the group, ’n’ Alembic gave me the stink eye like he always does when I come out o’ the temple (or really anywhere else for that matter), ’n’ as we were havin’ breakfast; well, *I* was havin’ breakfast, and ‘cause it was so tasty with bacon ’n’ sausages ’n’ eggs ’n’ toast ’n’ fruits ’n’ berries ’n’ nuts ’n’ such most o’ the rest o’ the group ate even though they didn’t have to. I figured I could save some money by skippin’ lunch, so I ate a TON! Where was I again? Oh, yeah! Alembic wanted to take a look-see at the whatzit. Llew suggested that we shouldn’t be lookin’ at it in the open, so we went up to our (well, their) room ’n’ Alembic gave it a good goin’ over.

He was impressed. It didn’t have to be magical ‘cause it was just really well designed to be part o’ some big machine, and lots o’ the parts had to flex just so ’n’ fit just so at the same time so it HAD to be made o’ platinum. I’d bet my butt dimples a gnome designed it! Since it was pretty hefty and made o’ platinum, Alembic said it’d be worth around ten thousand gold if we wanted to sell it. ‘Cause Alembic’s always thinkin’ ‘bout stuff like that.

Once Alembic was done with his snoopin’, Forth started discussin’ whether we should go back to the Eledir path or stay on the Logas one. But I thought Drendle’d said all the whatzits’d be on the Logas side! So I asked whether we had a good reason to bother with Eledir any more, ’n’ the rest o’ the group couldn’t think o’ one, so north from Logas we rode! (At least I assume it was north; Llew was leadin’ ’n’ I don’t question her.) I asked Alembic for a blue steed with a white mane that tasted like blueberries, ’n’ he obliged! He’s always good when he’s showin’ off his magicky side. After a couple o’ hours I was watchin’ a squirrel chase a butterfly when the squirrel started runnin’ all over a golem. I pointed it out to the rest o’ the group as if I’d been payin’ attention ’n’ actually lookin’ for it. Once again, there was a bashy guy ’n’ a throwy guy. This time Alembic made us all fly, ’n’ put Stoneskin on Llew ’n’ Forth. I took an antitoxin pill in case I had to go in to help ’n’ offered one to Alembic, but he’s gettin’ wise to me and didn’t take it. Then Llew ’n’ Forth took their positions while Alembic and I took to the air, then Alembic cast up and invisible wall between the two golems. That woke ‘em up and they started attackin’, but only the bashy guy could attack anyone, and he just hit Forth, which we’re kind of used to. I yelled the command word for the Blackburns, and o’ course it didn’t work ‘cause it (almost) never does. The throwy guy kept throwin’ stuff at me, ‘cause I’m charmin’ that way, but Llew ’n’ Forth carved up bashy guy, then went around the wall and carved up throwy guy. I’d say I didn’t do anythin’, ‘cept I did yell the command word ’n’ I let bashy guy swing at me once so Llew could get at ‘im, but otherwise I just kind o’ looked for more squirrels, and then once bashy guy was down I checked him for whatzits. Alembic tried that command spell o’ his, but I’m not sure it does what he thinks it does, ‘cause once again they didn’t pay much attention to him.

Bashy guy (we’ll call him Number One, since I don’t think I’ve used that yet) had a whatzit! I did my usual due diligence ’n’ then disarmed ’n’ pulled out the whatzit ’n’ popped it in my Handy Haversack quick as I could. ‘Cept Alembic was worried so I had to pull it out again so he could cast Detect Magic on it. He said he saw faint traces that said a spell’d gone off when the golems activated, not when I’d pulled out the whatzit. I didn’t argue. As long as he wasn’t claimin’ I’d botched the job, he could say whatever he wanted to about the whatzit. Back into the haversack it went. We went over to Number Three (the other one, since Two would’ve been boring) ’n’ he had one too! Good for you, squirrel! Got us two whatzits in one morning, and we were over halfway to bein’ done!

Llew was still a bit beat up from gettin’ hit by the golem so I used Ornery to heal her up. Forth said I’d been very brave to fly in and let the golem take swings at me, ’n’ I just blushed a little and didn’t point out how I hadn’t needed healin’ for the golems yet, so it’s not like runnin’ around their big slow feet was causin’ me any grief. Their poison, on the other hand…

We rode on and in the afternoon Llew spotted two more golems, ‘cause she pays attention so she’s better’n me at such things, but these two were different: One had both its arms ripped off, ’n’ the other was missin’ its head. Alembic said it probably wasn’t “special battle tactics” as I was thinkin’, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth agreed with him and told me to go touch ‘em. And because I like Forth and didn’t want to see how badly I could make him blush, I made no comment ‘bout the number o’ times some surly man’s told me to touch somethin’ I didn’t want to. But I didn’t. I just snuck over and…

…creepy!!!! The unmistakable tang of evil fey filled the air, makin’ my skin crawl ’n’ the hairs on the back o’ my neck itch. This wasn’t one o’ those powerful female fey who’ll eat you as soon as look at you, but who’ll make bargains if you’re nice to ‘em. These were fey who were just plain mean. I didn’t like it. I called out in Sylvan but nobody answered, so I stuck to my job ’n’ touched the armless one. It didn’t move, but it didn’t make me feel any better. So I named it Number Two because it deserved it. Forth made me go over and poke the other one. It didn’t move either, so I named it Number 17 and skedaddled back to the group. Once I was in Llew’s circle o’ protection the evil aura lessened a bit, so I decided to stick close to her for a while.

Now that I’d gone and done all the dangerous stuff, we all went in. I figured Llew ’n’ Forth were doin’ it to make Alembic feel better ‘bout bein’ a coward, and I wouldn’t’ve minded ‘cept for that queasy, greasy, bad fey feelin’. With Llew next to me I went over old Number Two and found that he’d had a whatzit, but it’d been removed. And not just some stupid “rip it out and reap the rewards” idiot, either. Someone who knew what they were doin’ tripped all the right springs to get it out without springin’ the trap, so I was up against some competition.

I’d win.

Llew started lookin’ over the damage and the ground, ’n’ I stuck close to her but stayed out of her way ‘cause she gets all intent-like, and I suspect that when she’s lookin’ at the ground like that there are little bitty ants bein’ burned to death and dyin’ by the intensity of her gaze, and I’m not much bigger’n an ant to her, so why take risks? She first said the golems were destroyed by somethin’ usin’ blunt weapons (read: stupid), but she finally realized they were usin’ pickaxes and just weren’t gettin’ through the golem’s hide all that often. Lookin’ at the tracks and the damage and such, Llew concluded that the golems’d been swarmed by redcaps. Which also explained the greasy evil fey feeling I was feelin’. The whole thing hadn’t happened more’n a few days ago, so the redcaps knew what we were doin’, came in, took out a couple o’ golems, ’n’ got their hands on a whatzit. Probably just to mess with us.
Sick bastards. If it’d’ve been me I’d’ve left a note leadin’ to some kind o’ trap-filled maze, ‘cause that’d’ve been funnier. Llew said their trail led deeper into the forest, ’n’ it was gettin’ pretty dark, so we decided to “camp” back in town.

I didn’t mind the good food, the luxury, the baths, or the plentiful berries that were startin’ to pour into town, but if we didn’t start hard campin’ soon I’d feel awfully silly ‘bout all the gear I’d been carryin’ around all this time in anticipation o’ campin’ in the mountains in the snow.

Guess Alembic just isn’t built for that kind o’ stuff, so he keeps a couple o’ teleports handy to sleep in the lap o’ luxury. I’d mock him, but I’d do the same thing in his shoes, so I won’t. He piled up a bunch o’ rocks ’n’ stared at ‘em for a while, loudly tellin’ us he was memorizin’ the rocks so we could teleport back to ‘em, and I figured that was pretty stupid of him to yell it like that ‘cause the redcaps might hear, but I didn’t say anythin’ ‘cause Llew didn’t ’n’ I figured she’d’ve yelled if it were really dumb. Since we were doin’ stuff, I carved, “Your hat looks more pink than red to me,” in Sylvan in a tree. ‘Cause it seemed kind o’ twisted.

Once we were back in town, Llew ’n’ Alembic wanted to know more about redcaps and why they might be stealin’ whatzits ’n’ such, but they didn’t know ‘bout any libraries in town that would know anythin’ ‘bout fey or the natural world or whatnot. So they turned to me. And I headed over to the temple and asked the priestess real nice-like ‘bout libraries ‘bout nature, ’n’ she said the people of Logas didn’t really care much ‘bout nature so I wouldn’t find any libraries, but there were plenty o’ bards in town, and maybe I could ask one o’ them. I checked the waitin’ area for bards, but o’ course there weren’t any ‘cause they’re ALL cute ’n’ charmin’ ’n’ such, so they don’t have to pay to play, or if they do then they’re not any good and I don’t want to talk to them anyway.
I met up with Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic ’n’ told ‘em I had to go find a bard, ’n’ Alembic ’n’ Forth didn’t want to come along, but Llew did, ’n’ that made me feel better.

So I asked the horses in the stable whether they knew where a bard was, ’n’ they didn’t know what a bard was. So I asked the dog I always wrestle with, but he just wanted to play. And his kid didn’t know what a bard was either. Llew had that look on her face that said that I was doin’ somethin’ wrong again, and she suggested that maybe I should start askin’ humans. Adult humans. I figured that was a great idea so I asked the stablemaster, ’n’ he at least said that maybe I should start checkin’ in taverns.

And oh, what a night! First tavern I go into, a couple o’ guys say, “Hey, isn’t that a couple o’ those adventurers who took out the Jeggares?” ’n’ they insisted on buyin’ us drinks, then o’ course I had to dance for ‘em ‘cause I like showin’ off, then we got to talkin’ for a while, then Llew eventually rolled her eyes and reminded me we were lookin’ for a bard who knew ‘bout nature. So I asked, but there wasn’t one in this particular tavern, but maybe the one down the road…
…and on and on it went, ’n’ Llew was good company ‘cause she never once lost her temper when she was sayin’, “Trig, get off the chandelier,” or, “Trig, get out from under her dress,” or, “Trig, stop bartending!” and it wasn’t ’til around midnight that I finally found the bard we were lookin’ for ’n’ got him good ’n’ tipsy ’n’ feelin’ awfully friendly ’n’ talky, but not friendly in that kind o’ way (‘cause that’s distractin’), ’n’ Llew grabbed Alembic ’n’ Forth ’n’ started askin’ him ‘bout redcaps.
We learned a lot of stuff we already knew: Their caps made ‘em heal magically, and they liked runnin’ in, kickin’ people with their iron shoes, ’n’ runnin’ away again. And cold iron works against ‘em. But we also learned that they use big people’s weapons, particularly scythes, ‘cause they want to cause as much pain as possible. On the other hand, listenin’ to us describe what we’d fought ’n’ conquered, he figured we’d be able to slaughter ‘em in droves, so they probably wouldn’t be much of a threat to us. And they deserved to be slaughtered, ‘cause they were all natural-born sadists and delighted in causin’ as much pain (both physical and emotional) as possible.

Listenin’ to all this, Llew was sure we were headed for a trap. The golems hadn’t moved when they’d been attacked, so a high-level caster (better’n Alembic) had to be involved to freeze ‘em like that. Or someone already had control of ‘em, like the Mother of Wights. Redcaps weren’t good with traps, so they had to have another ally who could disarm the whatzit before they took it. She figured our best course was to find the redcaps ’n’ either reason with ‘em or put the fear of us into them so deep they were more afraid of us than their master. I figured Llew’d choose the latter course, ‘cause she’s good at that kind of thing.

We got a good night’s sleep in a nice inn (well, I know *I* did ‘cause I’m payin’ a gold piece a night for a human-sized room with a human-sized bath and the best food they’ve got, ‘cause they know to give me different stuff every day and I like ‘em for it), then buffed up (‘cause we were expectin’ an ambush) and teleported back to the spot with Number Two.
Llew’d put a circle on me ‘cause she’s nice that way so it didn’t feel as creepy as before, but I still felt the fey. Alembic’s rocks were all knocked over but there were no tracks near ‘em, but I kind o’ started feelin’ sorry for the dirty little redcaps when Llew just looked ‘round, figured out that they’d been throwin’ rocks to knock over the pile, then found where they’d been throwin’ ‘em and found their tracks.
Hide from THAT, stupid dirty little redcaps. (Well, OK, they’re probably bigger’n me, but the rest o’ my party makes up for it.)

Llew started followin’ the tracks with Forth at her side, ’n’ I took to the bushes to provide a nasty surprise for any redcaps that tried to ambush them, ’n’ Alembic stayed even farther behind ‘cause Alembic.

As we moved deeper into redcap territory, we started seein’ animals hung from trees. They were mutilated somethin’ awful, ’n’ Llew confirmed that they weren’t just slaughtered; they’d been tortured. “Creatively” tortured, and then hung up and left to die. A few of ‘em were left alive so I put ‘em out of their misery, ’n’ Llew thought it was a cruel thing to do but we couldn’t exactly burn all our resources healin’ every injured bunny or raccoon that we came across, but heck if I was goin’ to let ‘em stay sufferin’. There’s a time to let your critters go, and this was one o’ those times. Didn’t mean I wasn’t goin’ to take it out o’ the redcaps’ hides. Slowly and painfully. Sometimes bein’ Calistrian feels good. As we moved on, the saplings gave way to young trees, and there were humans strung up in those. First kids on the smaller trees, then women on the larger trees, and finally men on the trees big enough to support ‘em. For all the sentient beings, the redcaps’d put wooden bowls under ‘em to catch all their blood for their caps. I asked Forth whether this was enough so I could just kill ‘em on sight, ’n’ Forth said, “Yes,” so it was redcap huntin’ season.

Once we were in among the biggest trees the redcaps’d stopped tryin’ to hide their tracks, figurin’ they were safe. I aimed to dispel that notion. Llew said she saw a light a bit off the trail, so we followed her ‘cause sometimes she just knows things and we know enough not to argue with her. She pointed the lights out to me and I could finally see ‘em, but she and I agreed that they weren’t gettin’ any closer, so it was obviously some kind o’ trap tryin’ to lure us off the trail. We got back to the trail ’n’ followed it ’til it wasn’t a trail any more, just a whole bunch o’ redcap footsteps all ‘round, as if they lived here but didn’t have any houses or anythin’. Alembic asked me whether fey used illusions, ’n’ I felt like sayin’ somethin’ smart but killin’ the redcaps was more important at the moment so I just said, “Yes,” so he put up a spell that let Llew see through illusions, made himself able to see invisible things, ’n’ turned himself invisible. Or somethin’ like that. It was pretty confusin’ all in all ’cause Alembic flew up to look around while Llew was lookin’ at stuff from ground level ’n’ suddenly there was all kinds o’ buzzin’ ’n’ zappin’ ’n’ the smell o’ roastin’ Alembic up above us, ’n’ I looked up and there were all these glowy balls floatin’ ‘round an empty space ’n’ zappin’ it with lightning, so I figured I knew where Alembic was. The screams helped too.
I flew up to try to hit one (oh, yeah, Alembic’d made us fly at some point. Sometimes I’m so mad I just don’t pay a lot of attention to things), but I didn’t hurt it much at all. Forth did somethin’ so that he ’n’ Alembic switched places (neat trick!) ’n’ Llew put herself between Alembic and the nasties. He protected himself ’n’ Llew from electricity and the nasties tried zapping him once more then ran off. Whatever they were, they were smart, ’n’ they were annoying!

They didn’t come back ‘cause we were on to ‘em now, so we moved into the “lair” and Llew spotted a cottage. It was built for a small person, but there was a human-sized axe out front. Smoke was comin’ out o’ the chimney. Alembic ’n’ I suggested a fireball down the chimney would be a nice touch, but Forth’s gotta talk to EVERYBODY (gotta be a paladin thing). So he called out, and the guy called back that he hated all of us, hated ME the most, ’n’ hated Llew the least. I took it as a badge of honor and was hopin’ to draw first blood. But I knew I had to just stand there for a while while Forth talked, ‘cause it’s a paladin thing. He knew ‘bout the gear, ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew were willin’ to negotiate with him, ’n’ he said he’d give us information if we went to the Eledir trail ’n’ slaughtered all the redcaps there in very painful ways. I was kind o’ leery; what if they were nice redcaps? But Llew ’n’ Forth said all the waffle words that made it so we weren’t promisin’ anythin’, ’n’ he told us where to look for ‘em. He made untoward comments ‘bout me, but I didn’t kill him ‘cause I’m good that way. Llew wanted to know why he needed the other redcaps dead, ’n’ he said it was ‘cause they were in a competition and his side was losin’. So they’re dirty little cheats on top of everything else! She made him promise that if she brought back all the redcaps’ blood that he’d use that ’n’ not harm any more innocents ’til that blood ran out, ’n’ he agreed to that, but I figured a good fireball or two would stop innocent bloodshed just as well ’n’ be far more satisfyin’, but I’m not in charge, ‘cause… hey, why am I NOT in charge?…

Anyhoo, we said goodbye to Gristle (his name) and his “will o’ wisps” (the glowy things; apparently his pets) and teleported back to Eledir, then got our phantom steeds ’n’ rode up to where the redcaps were supposed to be. This time I got a dark orange horse with a blood red mane and iron hooves. Alembic called it a redcap horse. I was not amused, but I didn’t want to upset him and lose my color privileges so I kept my mouth shut. We found a broken golem with its head cut off right ‘bout where we were ‘sposed to, but somethin’ was funny; the golem’d been killed 6-12 months ago; not recently. Llew looked it over ’n’ figured it out, ‘cause she does that kind o’ thing: The pass here was too narrow for the undead to go ‘round it, so as they’d started makin’ their forays into Isger lands, they’d had to kill this one to get it out o’ the way. No redcaps involved. But we DID see a dark wood ahead, so we buffed up and went in.

There were no tracks in these woods, but we saw the eerie glow that said will o’ wisps were near, so Alembic protected us and they left us alone. There were a bunch o’ redcap huts, but they seemed abandoned. Comin’ closer, we saw all the little smashed redcap corpses lyin’ dessicated in the middle o’ their little village, ’n’ I managed not to giggle. ‘Specially when a swarm o’ ghosts came pourin’ out o’ the bodies ’n’ attacked us! They tried to use some moanin’ ’n’ shriekin’ at me, but Calistria was in my brain now, protectin’ me, so I didn’t feel afraid. Thanks, Calistria! I knew my dagger wouldn’t do much good, so I pulled out Shocky ’n’ tried to use her, but the ghosts were dodgy little things ’n’ I didn’t want to stop dodgin’ myself for fear o’ gettin’ wasted away, or whatever they do. Alembic hit them with lightning that DID hit, Forth channeled, ’n’ Llew used her ghost killin’ sword to kill ghosts (who knew?), so while I didn’t do much of anythin’, everyone else did. Towards the end I finally DID touch one with Shocky, but it wasn’t particularly satisfyin’; it didn’t seem to bother the ghost much at all. I guess Shocky’s for people, not ghosts. Now I know.

Llew said we had to lay ‘em to rest properly, so I let her do her thing ’n’ helped as I could, ‘cause even I could drag around little desiccated redcap corpses. Once they were laid to rest, we decided to check their houses. And I got what I deserved when I tried to just walk in: Poison on the doorknob caused me all kinds o’ agony for a bit, ’n’ Alembic got hit with a spear. Good reminder to check all your doors before openin’ ‘em, Trig! Llew found more corpses, ’n’ all of ‘em had been electrified. There was some writin’ in Sylvan on the wall, so I told ‘em it said, “Undead are here,” ’n’ Llew put it together from there: The redcaps had to hide from the undead, but they got scared, and their will o’ wisp “pets” smelled that fear ’n’ came in ’n’ ate ‘em. Nothing less than they deserved. But we put ‘em to rest anyway.

We went back to Logas and I got restored at the temple (MY temple, though they still charged me for it. Hey!), stayed at a nice in, and in the morning went back to meet with Gristle. In the meantime Llew ’n’ Alembic learned that will o’ wisps are aberrations that feed on fear, which was exactly what we’d already figured out, so it made us feel smarter. Gristle admitted he knew that the other redcaps were ghosts, but figured we’d be powerful enough to put ‘em to rest, and we were. But there was no blood, so he was goin’ to keep hunting innocents. I figured Llew’d let us kill him right there, but she didn’t.
He passed us a note under the door from Archibishop Blackburn instructing Gristle to fetch the gear, and including the Blackburn password. Gristle said he and Blackburn got along really well, and went WAY back. What a surprise! So the redcaps had handed the gear over to a half-elven bard named Calistria (really, lady? That takes some guts!), who was supposedly working for Blackburn. They handed over the gear in a clearing not far down the road, and it was probably in Blackburn’s hands by now.

So, it looked like our “beloved” cleric of Asmodeus was another one of Mother of Wight’s thralls.

Who would’ve thunk?

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Session 38, Played 03-Mar-2019

So the one problem with not thinkin’ things through is that they sometimes come back and bite you on your pert little ass. I was up two hours before dawn, spent an hour prayin’, got my spells, and then…?


I couldn’t exactly go out an’ play with the dogs or the badgers or whatever else I could find, ‘cause we were ‘bout to go out on the road in the wilderness, and I was pretty sure there were animals there, and I wanted to be able to talk to them. So I explored Logas before dawn for a while, and thought ‘bout vandalizin’ the temple o’ Asmodeus, ‘cept Blackburn’d been right friendly to us, as had Jocelyn, so I really didn’t have it in me. I thought ‘bout breakin’ into the wizards’ library and vandalizin’ it a bit, ‘cept that would’ve taken my knocker, ’n’ we might need that today. Bein’ up early is boooooooooooring!
I finally found a tavern with a few people who hadn’t gone to bed yet and spent the last o’ my time before Alembic got up dancin’ ’n’ singin’ ’n’ flirtin’ ’n’ generally having a good time.

Alembic didn’t say anything ‘bout me “glowin’”, so I guess he wasn’t lookin’, or he just didn’t see such things. You never can tell with Alembic. But we gathered up Forth ’n’ Llew, ’n’ they didn’t talk ‘bout me “glowin’” either, so I figured it was something they’d have to look for, which was a bit of a relief. We had breakfast and decided to teleport out to the place in the road where we’d branched off to take out the fortress ’n’ the dragon. Once we were there, Alembic summoned Phantom Steeds for us, ’n’ I asked for one that was yellow ’n’ black ‘cause it seemed appropriate to ride in Calistria’s colors, ’n’ he told me he could make the horse taste like honey and I licked it and it did! Alembic’s the best! Sometimes. So I started lickin’ the horse all over, ’n’ sometimes it was sweet ’n’ sometimes it was sour ’n’ sometimes it tasted like vomit or somethin’ even nastier ’n’ it made me gag.
Best. Horse. Ever!

When I started gettin’ lower on the horse Llew decided that was enough ’n’ we should start ridin’, and I’d’ve argued that magic horses don’t have those parts so it doesn’t matter where I lick ‘em, but I figured that was a debate for another day. We rode along and the horses flew! I was on a FLYING HORSE!!! That tasted like honey and vomit! It was my best day ever!
So as usual the group let me take point, and after about 30 seconds Llew told me I was off the road already, but I was on a tasty flying horse! How could I concentrate with that goin’ on?

Once Llew was showin’ us the proper way to go it didn’t take long to get to Phil’s cabin, and you could tell he was a hermit ‘cause of all the “Go Away” signs in all kinds o’ languages. There was even a sign in Gnomish warnin’ that he was “very serious”, but I figured that was OK; no one in the party laughs at my jokes, either. ‘Cept when Alembic steals my candy, but that’s another story entirely. So at least I knew he liked gnomes, ‘cause how could I resist ALL those signs tellin’ me to go away? His cabin was a bunch o’ logs stacked up together nice ’n’ flammable-like, so I went up to the door and knocked and called out that we were there to visit. He called out through the door askin’ why he should talk to us, ’n’ I told ‘im it was ‘cause we were cute (which was true for 2 of the 4 of us, at least. And maybe my horse, if he was into those kinds o’ things). That was enough to get him to tell us to wait while he got dressed ’n’ came out.

Once he was done he came on out to look us over. He was a plain-lookin’ middle-aged human(?) man in plain-lookin’ clothes, kind o’ ‘xactly what I ‘spected, but he looked at me and asked whether I was a real gnome. That’s my favorite question ‘cause I get asked all the time and I never remember what I said the last time, so I told him I thought I was, but I couldn’t really remember, so he should ask Llew. Llew gave me that kind o’ half-glower, half-smile that said she thought it was good answer too. But he looked us over ’n’ asked what we wanted ’n’ we told him we were goin’ to kill the Mother o’ Wights ’n’ he said we weren’t good enough ’n’ we were goin’ to die, so we told him we killed a dragon, ’n’ Forth even remembered what color it was and everything. (It was dark and I was in a pit. What do you want?) I turned on the big eyes ’n’ told him we really needed the information. He gave me the eye and said he’d need payment from us.

What is it about these horny damned humans and their gnome fetishes? Aren’t human women good enough for ‘em? And gods, they have elven women at the Calistrian temples! Why do you have to be so obsessed with gnomes? But I was an ordained cleric now, and there was no weaselin’ out of it this time, so I shuddered and figured I could at least Prestidigitate him clean a bit, and went over ’n’ grabbed his hand and said, “OK, let’s go.”

Apparently I was bein’ a bit presumptuous.

Once he got a word in edgewise, he wasn’t lookin’ to sleep with me at all! He just wanted to know my full name! That was easy! Trigonomopherianogglepatrix Belmafoodleptock, ‘cause I’d come from a quiet family. He asked Alembic for a scroll of a spell he didn’t know, so I tried to hand Alembic a scroll of Atonement ‘cause it wasn’t doin’ me any good ’n’ it would’ve been funny, but instead he gave him a scroll of Wall of Stone ’n’ the guy seemed pretty happy, since it’d let him make his cabin out o’ stone instead o’ wood. Maybe he’s part dwarf, too. Speakin’ o’ dwarves, he just made Forth chop a bunch o’ wood. ‘Cause I guess he didn’t want to learn ‘bout rocks or some such. But he did want to learn ‘bout undead, ’n’ Llew started goin’ off ‘bout all the undead commonly found in the area, and how to kill ‘em (‘cause she’s good at that), ’n’ how many of ‘em she’d killed, ’n’ how she’d killed ‘em, ’n’ I sat down ’n’ started listenin’ ‘cause it was really interestin’ and I never remember any o’ that stuff anyway, but eventually she was done and he was happy. He said that the thing that impressed him the most ‘bout us was that we hadn’t even mentioned the diamond mine; we were goin’ after the cause o’ the problems, not tryin’ to go ‘round her. I told him I figured we weren’t s’posed to take any diamonds anyway ’til she was dead, so why worry ‘bout that ’til she was over ’n’ done with. He said we might have what it takes to deal with her. He told Forth he could chop the wood later ’n’ he’d answer our questions first and he invited us inside.

Well, “inside” was like nothin’ I’d ever seen before! We stepped through the doorway and suddenly we were in some kind o’ magnificent mansion, with high ceilings, lush furnishings, all kinds o’ stuff to get into, and even gnome-sized furniture! Speakin’ o’ gnome-sized furniture, once he was across the portal he transformed into a gnome, and not a bad-lookin’ one at that! Now this was an obeisance I could get into! All he needed to do was give us useful information, and I figured he was plannin’ on doin’ that anyway, but I figured Calistria wouldn’t mind if I bent the rules a little, bein’ Calistria ’n’ all.

Trouble was, he had a LOT to tell us. His name was Philosopher Drendle, so o’ course ‘cause humans can remember less ’n even me, they shortened it to Phil Dren. He’d been a spy for the Cheliaxians back when Isger was doin’ OK, but when the goblin wars came that’d kind of all come tumblin’ down. But he was a wizard, so he set up shop here and kept track o’ Logas ’n’ Eledir ’n’ everythin’ else since then. He knew all ‘bout Finder’s Gulch, both before and after it fell to the Mother o’ Wights. He started off with stuff we already knew, ‘bout how the diamond mines funded all the royal families and how they didn’t trust each other. But then he pointed out that that meant they didn’t trust any o’ the diamond transporters to use magic. There was no teleportin’, nor flyin’, nor magical tasty steeds; all the diamonds were hauled out with nothin’ but horses, carts, ’n’ an equal number o’ guards from each house. The workers in the mines were mostly undead ’n’ golems, ‘cause they don’t steal, ’n’ the mine was sealed with an adamantine door that you needed 5 whatzits just to open (one from each family). He said it was self-closin’, but I had an Immovable Rod that’d debate that. The problem was, each family’d hidden its whatzit in one o’ the golems in the wilderness, and there was no tellin’ which one ‘less you said the proper command word ’n’ got into it. Or just destroyed it. Plus, the moment you picked up one of the whatzits, a timer started ’n’ you had 48 hours to use it or the hounds’d wake up ’n’ make adamantine dog chow outta you. I suggested we just leave the whatzits in the wilderness, ’n’ he figured that’d work, or I might be able to turn it off. I appreciated the compliment!

Just to make things more fun, each golem was made by a particular family ’n’ would only respond to its command word, ’n’ there was no tellin’ which golem was from which family. So we’d be spendin’ a while searchin’ golems for whatzits. On the bright side, the whatzits were all made o’ platinum so they should be pretty obvious once we find ‘em. Finally, once we get past all the golems, the mountains’re swarmin’ with mischievous redcaps who’ll cause trouble, ’n’ the Mother of Wights is livin’ in the mine, ‘cause ‘parently incorporeal creatures can go on through. So it’s a door wide enough for one person, ’n’ once you open it it’s likely a whole host o’ incorporeal undead’ll come bubblin’ up around you. Not soundin’ like the most fun game in the world!

Well, once he’d wrapped up ’n’ had his invisible servants serve us tea ’n’ such I asked Forth whether the information we’d received was valuable, ’n’ he said it was, so that was enough for me ’n’ I grabbed Phil and headed for the first room that looked somethin’ akin to a bedroom. Llew looked pretty aghast, but gnomes’re few ’n’ far between ‘round here, and it was now my religious duty! Or at least I figured it was close enough. Phil couldn’t figure out what I was doin’ for a moment but then I pointed at my holy symbol ’n’ he caught on right quick ’n’ he found us a bedroom with a proper gnome-sized bed ’n’ everything.

OK. Elves’re nice. Really nice. But there’s nothin’ like bein’ spooned by someone your own size in a bed your own size ’n’ everythin’. I could’ve lain there all day, ‘cept the rest o’ the party was waitin’, ’n’ my religious duty was done ’n’ all, so I had no more excuses ’n’ had to get up ’n’ go search for golems.

We said goodbye to Phil ’n’ set off.

Unfortunately, my ministrations’d taken too long ’n’ Alembic had to summon new horses, ’n’ this one didn’t taste like anythin’; not even horse! So we set about followin’ the road (which even I could do, ‘cause it was pretty obvious) ’n’ lookin’ for golems. It wasn’t all that surprisin’ that it took us a while to get up a ways above Phil’s cabin into the foothills proper without findin’ one, but the longer we searched the more I began to wonder whether we actually knew what a golem looked like. Fortunately, just before dusk, Llew spotted one (like she always does) ’n’ it looked pretty much like what we’d been lookin’ for: A big iron guy standin’ there all covered with vines, a bit off the road so he wasn’t easy to spot unless you were really lookin’ for him.
I was askin’ whether we should kill it ’n’ Llew said you destroy golems, not kill ‘em, so that was one more thing for me not to remember. But Alembic made us all fly ’n’ we all flew over ’n’ I yelled out the Jeggare command word ‘cause I thought it’d be funny and the golem woke up and threw a javelin at me and I figured that meant it had good taste, but everyone else tried all the other family words and none of ‘em worked (I got to try Blackburn, ‘cause I got two), so we decided we needed to “destroy” it. Alembic did somethin’ that made it stand still, which was pretty nice, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth chopped it up with their adamantine weapons, which was all in all pretty impressive ‘cause I’d never seen adamantine cut into iron before ’n’ it was pretty nasty ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth weren’t kiddin’ around. Since there were 20 golems total, I decided to call this one Number 8, because it seemed like an 8 kind of day. So we searched Number 8 and he (it?) didn’t have anything on him (it? I don’t care), which meant we had 19 more golems to go.

Even though the fight’d been easy, it was gettin’ dark. I helpfully suggested goin’ back to Phil’s to spend the night, but the rest o’ the group wanted to camp, in case we learned anythin’ useful at night. I wanted a fire and toasted marshmallows, ’n’ Forth said it was OK, so I lit up my campfire bead ’n’ pulled out my gnome rations, but these were some kind o’ delicious soup in a paper bag. With no silverware. So I didn’t get to toast marshmallows, and it took a bit o’ work to eat all the soup without eatin’ too much o’ the soggy bag, and it was kind o’ weird bein’ the only one at the campfire eatin’, but all the rest of ‘em had that ring that meant they didn’t have to eat. I can’t imagine livin’ without eatin’. It’s too fun! Or sleepin’! Speakin’ of which, I volunteered for third watch, but since everyone else stayed up I couldn’t exactly pray discreetly so I told Llew I had to tinkle, and not to worry if it took me an hour or so, and she just rolled her eyes in that way that told me she knew I was lyin’ but she was lettin’ me get away with it ‘cause I was obviously doin’ somethin’ useful.

I like Llew. She and I, we understand each other.

So I slipped off, and just ‘cause I don’t like to lie to Llew I tinkled, and then I prayed and got my spells. I was in a hurry so I just chose that funny, “Pick the ones you picked yesterday” choice, but it didn’t take any less time. Stupid gods and their stupid rules! I supposed the next day I’d take the “choose somethin’ at random” option. I’m sure Calistria likes that one. ‘Specially for gnomes.

In the morning we searched around again and found our second golem. This one never moved at all, even when we called out all the command words, so I called it Number 19, which seemed like a good number for not movin’. Llew ’n’ Forth started talkin’ ‘bout whether or not to destroy it. Llew felt like it was probably a threat to anyone who’d come by, and it might have one of those platinum things in it, but Forth figured it was probably still protectin’ the town. Llew pointed out that if it was protectin’ Eledir from undead it was doin’ a pretty crappy job, and I gave the win to her for that one, but we didn’t destroy it anyway. We just marked where it was on a map and figured if we needed to we’d come back to it. So I ate lunch while everyone else stared at me (keep at it folks; never gonna bother me. A gnome’s gotta eat!) and we searched in the afternoon. Llew spotted another one, but it didn’t move either, so I called it Number 16 because that’s like a 19 except the 9 got flipped over. Alembic told us that it was “active” (not “alive"), but we hadn’t done whatever it was that triggered it. Everyone decided that one night o’ campin’ with me was enough, so Alembic teleported us back to Eledir and we spent the night there. I couldn’t figure out a good way to get us to Logas or Phil’s, so I just made sure I got a big human-sized room with a human-sized bath and had a luxurious evenin’, and even got to pray in my room in private in the mornin’! And Eledir was startin’ to look better. Just more alive. More people, more activity, more food, more wares. Made me feel good to know I’d been a part of it.

Once everyone else was up Alembic teleported us back to the last golem we’d been to, ‘cept immediately Llew said we were in the wrong place and on the Logas trail and this was the wrong golem. And I believed her ‘cause Llew. Plus, not only were we at one of ‘em (Number 14, ‘cause a 4 looks kind of like a 9 if your writin’s bad), but there was another one right across the road (Number 9, ‘cause now I can just drop the 1. See? Namin’ golems is a good game, even if they just get numbers). Once we saw two at once, we could see they weren’t all the same; each golem had some differences on ‘em, so someone knowin’ what to look for would know which golem was which.

While Llew was tellin’ Alembic what he’d done wrong (a conversation I always enjoy), Alembic started backin’ way from the golem we were next to, ‘cause he’s a coward that way. And the golem came alive and whacked him! And the other golem came alive and hit him with a big old javelin, ‘cept it was attached to a chain so it looked like it was tryin’ to spearfish Alembic back to it. I’m not used to seein’ Alembic bleed that much, and he’s a pretty scrawny guy, so I was actually worried for him.
Well, Forth started carvin’ into Number 14 and it didn’t like that so it started poundin’ him, and Llew started helpin’ Forth, so it started poundin’ her, too. Number 9 was busy throwin’ javelins at Alembic ’n’ he took control of it for a moment, but then lost it again. What about me? Well, the golems didn’t care ‘bout me. Nothin’ I could do could get their attention! So I called on Calistria to grant me the touch o’ luck ’n’ I started touchin’ Llew ’n’ Forth to make ‘em lucky, hopin’ that would help ‘em hit more. It worked, ’n’ they started hittin’ much better (at least Forth did; Llew didn’t seem to be havin’ any trouble in any case), but one o’ the golems spit a poison cloud on us and I got poisoned, ‘cause me.

Not too much of a price to pay to feel like I was helpin’.

Anyhoo, Llew ’n’ Forth chopped up the two golems with only a bit o’ help from me ’n’ without Alembic dyin’, so I figured it was a win, ’n’ Forth started healin’ us all up. I’d eventually managed to get Number 9 to swing at me once, but it wasn’t like he hit me, so I kind o’ stood ‘round in Forth’s channelin’ appreciatin’ that I didn’t need it. Once Alembic was feelin’ better ’n’ he’d seen two golems at once, he could tell us a few things: First, there were two types of golems (duh!). The ones with chained poles were for ranged troops, especially casters. The ones without chained poles were just fighters. The worse news was that he knew why none of ‘em were responding to the command words: Once you used one, if it was the wrong one, they’d ignore the rest! Just like those stupid paranoid families! Fortunately, we’d been usin’ the Jeggare command word first on ALL of ‘em, so at least we knew we hadn’t hit a Jeggare golem yet. The command for the ones on the Logas road seemed to be, “Attack anyone who shows fear,” which was really kind of a mean command to have around Alembic.

Llew wanted to figure out where we were, so I pulled out my wayfinder ’n’ handed it to her to use. ’N’ she gave me one o’ those looks that said, “Is there anything that you don’t keep in your pack, Trig?”, to which I gave her the little hands-behind-my-back shrug-n-grin that said, “Nope.” We weren’t that far north of Logas, but Llew wanted to make sure there were no golems between us ’n’ there, so we rode south to Logas, made sure we hadn’t missed any, then rode north again to find the next pair.

I looked these two over and decided they were Numbers 5 and 7. And Number 5 bowed to the Jeggare command word! Woo hoo! Trouble was, Number 7 didn’t, ’n’ got all grumpy at us. Forth flew in before Alembic could try to control it and got whacked for his troubles, ’n’ Alembic got control but lost it after only a round, so Llew got whacked on and poisoned. I slipped in behind her and touched her with the wand she bought me and it flashed all bright ’n’ healed her a LOT! Good wand! So I don’t know what Forth was thinkin’, but maybe he thought we were done cause he started spinnin’ round with his hammer and sayin’ that he felt sick, but Llew finished off Number 7. We went over to Number 5 and found one of those whatzits in it, so me ’n’ Alembic looked it over ’n’ agreed it’d be better for me to try to take it out. It took me a little while, and Llew was helpin’ with some spell that made me a wee bit better, but eventually I pulled it out without settin’ off any Sendin’ or anythin’, then I popped it in my handy haversack, ‘cause that’s where all interestin’ things go.

We decided to go back to Logas to heal up ’n’ rest for the night, but I was actually tired so I took advantage of bein’ a bona-fide cleric to get myself a nice little room in the temple and sleep. Alone.

Yeah, I know. It’s not like me. But I was tired.

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Session 37, Played 24-Feb-2019

So nobody even kidded around and said, “Hey, Trig! Why don’t you help us research dragons?”, which could’ve been a bit hurtful ‘cept we all knew it was the truth and I wasn’t ‘bout to argue with bein’ sent sellin’ ’n’ shoppin’ while they did their work. So I sold the gear off the latest guys we’d killed, and I gotta say, whoever’s equippin’ ‘em’s doin’ a right nice job of it, ‘cause their gear is worth a BUNDLE!

O’course, research is slower’n hagglin’, so I asked a stray dog what it had done that day, and it just wanted to play, so I ran around with it for a while, and rolled around in the mud a bit, and chased some kids and got chased, and then figured it was time to find Alembic’n’Llew (and notice I don’t mention Forth, ‘cause I have no idea where he went once I rode away on the dog).

So… black dragons. They spit acid. So much it’ll make a pool deep enough to drown a gnome. Hey! So don’t be on the ground, and be protected from acid. Alembic had those covered. Check. It liked to use cold-based spells, ‘cause chaotic. I found it kind o’ refreshin’ that it wasn’t goin’ to be a one-trick wonder, but Alembic said he could protect us from cold as well. Check. It had nasty teeth and claws. I’d already donated to the Stoneskin pool, and Llew put in some more. Check. And Alembic was hoggin’ all the glory! Oooh, but they liked swimmin’ around in the water, so Alembic could let us breathe, but he couldn’t make us move! So I got to buy some scrolls o’ movin’ in the water (spitstream? Sounds kind o’ nasty, but whatever). Plus, the dragon could land its fat ol’ butt on all of us and pin us down at once, so scrolls to keep that from happenin’ (Freedom o’ Movement, ‘cause it’s got “Freedom” right in the name!). I could cast ‘em, but I couldn’t afford ‘em, so people bought ‘em for themselves and I’d cast it when the time came. Useful again! Woo hoo!

I took care o’ the additional shoppin’, plus I had enough left over to get one o’ those amulets o’ bein’ safe from the Mother o’ Wights, but I figured I’d just keep it safe in my handy haversack ’til the time came, ‘cause I liked my amulet o’ armor and I didn’t hear anythin’ ‘bout the dragon bein’ diseased. We talked a bit about goin’ after the dragon that evening so it wouldn’t know we were comin’, but Alembic’d used a lot o’ Dimension Doors to catch up with that barbarian, and the last thing I wanted was to get trapped in a cave with a dragon ’n’ no way out. Llew wasn’t all that happy about it, but she figured I was right ‘bout Alembic needin’ all his spells, so we settled down to rest for the night. I halfway thought of askin’ Alembic for a quick teleport to Logas so I could stay at the temple, but then I’d owe him a favor and I didn’t think I’d be able to bear that for as long as I remembered it.

In the mornin’ we had a nice breakfast, Alembic put on some kind of air-breathin’ spell on us, ’n’ we teleported to the location of our fight. And there, right over our head, was a big ol’ black dragon, lookin’ down at us. I figured we were ‘bout to be in for the fight of our lives, but it probably didn’t know that Forth doesn’t use a bow so it flew off back towards its cave, darin’ us to follow.

We did. ‘Cause we’re not very bright that way.

‘Course we weren’t stupid. We searched around for ambushes, checked for traps, ’n’ so forth, but it looked like the dragon was takin’ us seriously and had pulled in all his troops to defend his cave. (His? I mean, I don’t know anythin’ ‘bout dragons, but I didn’t see any giant testicles or anythin’ hangin’ down when he was flyin’ over us, but maybe they’re inside or somethin’. I’d’ve asked Alembic ‘bout it, but he probably wouldn’t’ve given me a polite answer.)
After a while, the track we were followin’ turned into a path. And that turned into a road. Llew sent me over to a copse o’ trees, so I dutifully went over and tinkled in it, but I didn’t know that it was doin’ any good, ‘cause if I’d’ve really had to go I’d’ve told her.

Anyhoo, as we were gettin’ pretty close to where we figured the cave’d be, I made sure Llew could see invisible things, in case the dragon was waitin’ to surprise us. Alembic made it so he could see too, just to show off. We found a sign that the Blackguard mines were right ahead, but there was a bend in the road so Forth told me to peek ‘round the corner. So I did, and it was a big cleared-out valley with a mine entrance at the other end, and a couple o’ guys with a wagon. And OF COURSE FORTH WANTED TO TALK TO THEM!!!

I swear, that dwarf could meet Rovagug himself and he’d want to talk to him first.

So we put up all our long-lastin’ spells, ’n’ I cast all the Freedom spells so no one’d get stuck under a dragon butt (but apparently not dragon testicles), Llew put up a Magic Circle, ’n’ Alembic made everyone ‘cept me fly. I used a scroll ‘cause I didn’t want to be the only one not flyin’.
Once we were ready, we went back ‘round the corner and the wagon guys were gone, of course! We went on into the entrance o’ the cave (did I mention not so bright?), it was an old Jeggare gold mine (o’ course), and Forth warned us against hurtin’ people willy-nilly ‘cause just ‘cause they were in a dragon’s cave didn’t mean they weren’t innocent.


We moved into the cave, ’n’ there were the guys, unloadin’ the wagons. Turned out they were just payin’ their tithe, but they yelled out a warnin’ to everyone in the cave that we were there. Instead o’ gettin’ mad, Forth just recommended that they go. And they unhitched their horse and took him with them (I could tell on the horse that it was a boy) ’n’ Llew said they were evil but Forth didn’t care much ‘cause he was here to slay dragons. So… I’m not much of an expert on paladins ’n’ such, but always lettin’ evil guys go ‘cause they aren’t bein’ evil at the moment doesn’t seem like any code I’ve ever heard. ‘Course I haven’t heard many codes, bein’ Calistrian ’n’ all, and the Asmodeans only taught us ways to make paladins dance to our puppeteering based on those codes. Which I thought was borin’ so I didn’t pay attention and now I wished I had.

Anyhoo, we kept goin’ carefully into the cave for another forty or fifty feet when Llew suddenly said that there weren’t any dragon tracks in the cave.

Uh oh.

Llew suggested maybe ‘cause the dragon liked water so much there might be a nearby lake that it was usin’ as an entrance, ’n’ Alembic said he remembered readin’ somethin’ about one around here. (I think he just makes it up and gets lucky often enough for us not to notice.) We skedaddled out o’ the cave ’n’ Alembic sealed it up so the dragon couldn’t get out the front side ’n’ then we flew to where Alembic said the lake was, and sure enough, there it was, as if he were right or somethin’!
Llew spotted dragon tracks all ‘round the lake, ’n’ the lake was all brackish ’n’ nasty, just like black dragons like, apparently. So I put Slipstream on people ’n’ we went down. Into pitch blackness. The water was so filthy you couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you! Llew ’n’ I could feel a current, but I was dead blind. Alembic did somethin’ ‘bout that, too, ‘cause he was just feelin’ all show-offy today. We were pretty worried ‘bout fightin’ a dragon (’n’ losin’) in this open opaque water, but eventually we found a cave entrance and felt our way in. Alembic sealed it behind us with a spell, ’n’ I used a scroll o’ Control Water (thanks, Jocelyn!) to clear out the passageway so we could see. We walked up it a bit and saw a big room up ahead.

So of course Forth flew on up into it, and I knew we were in trouble ‘cause suddenly without seein’ anythin’ my knees started knockin’ ’n’ my tummy started churnin’ ’n’ I did what any sensible gnome would do: I flew up and challenged the dragon!

‘Course, it was a little less dramatic than that. ‘Cause there wasn’t any dragon I could see in the cave. Just the fear. And I didn’t know draconic, so I tried yellin’ at it in Elven, ‘cause why not?

The rest o’ my part o’ the fight was ‘bout like that. The dragon appeared out o’ nowhere (Llew ’n’ Alembic said it’d been invisible) and bit ’n’ clawed ’n’ beat the crap out o’ me. Once again, Alembic’s Stoneskin probably saved my life, so I figured he was just extra-blessed today and I’d have to be nice to him for the rest o’ the day. A bunch o’ guys came runnin’ out o’ the darkness ’n’ cast a bunch o’ spells at us, one of which broke my flyin’ so I fell back down into the cave with Llew ’n’ Alembic. ’N’ first Alembic flew up and threw a fireball in the direction o’ the casters ’n’ I heard a lot o’ screams ’n’ then silence so I figured Alembic’d hit them (told you he was lucky today!) ’n’ Llew did somethin’ to Forth, then Forth did somethin’ to everyone ‘cept me ‘cause I was too far below it all ’n’ he ran off to fight the dragon, out o’ my sight.

I could pretty much hear the rest ‘cause Alembic was givin’ a blow-by-blow. “He put up a Force Wall between you! I just Disintegrated it! Go get him! Holy crap, Llew!”
‘Cause ‘parently Llew flew up ’n’ just started carvin’ the livin’ daylights out o’ the dragon, ’n’ it started rippin’ the livin’ daylights out o’ her, ’n’ Forth joined in and flanked it with her, and it must’ve been awfully spectacular ‘cept I was IN A HOLE! Alembic shot it with some magic but ‘parently it was immune. Well, can’t win ‘em all, Alembic.

Since I couldn’t fly, I started walkin’ up the side o’ the hole (thanks, Spidey!) and drinkin’ healin’ potions, but from the sound o’ things Llew was goin’ to need help before the dragon went down so first I used Alembic’s wand o’ Fly to make myself fly again and then I pulled out the scroll o’ Heal I’d gotten from Jocelyn.

And it didn’t work. Just kind o’ my entire day.

So I reached Llew just as she killed it, but she was lookin’ pretty awful. A bunch o’ swordsmen showed up ’n’ of course Forth had to go run into the middle of ‘em ’n’ get carved up, ‘cause why wouldn’t he, so I flew over to help him out while Llew got herself all patched up. Fortunately, Alembic’d managed to get a Fireball in on these guys before Forth got in the way, so they dropped pretty fast, though they did make Forth bleed a lot, as usual. At the end, there was one guy standin’ and I remembered to ask Llew’s permission to drop him, ’n’ she said to go ahead, but I missed by a mile so she finished him off. I think Alembic stole all my luck for the day!

Once the dragon ’n’ his(?) men were dead, we started searchin’ the mines. At the other end o’ the giant room was a giant pile o’ loot! Thousands and thousands of gold coins and gold cups and gold plates and all kinds of other proof that if you ooze acid everywhere you can’t own much o’ anything that isn’t gold. But we made a note of it and searched the rest o’ the mines, ’n’ managed to free a bunch more locals-turned-slaves (always feels good) ’n’ Forth knocked a hole in Alembic’s wall to let ‘em all out, ‘cause Forth lets everyone go. We put Ant Haul on Forth ’n’ Llew, loaded ‘em up with loot, ’n’ teleported back to Eledir to report.

Great, great, we killed a dragon. But what about the Mother of Wights?
Oh, whoops. Was that what we were doin’?

So we divvied up the loot, again, and I was pretty flush so I refilled all my scrolls (‘cause if you use ‘em once you’re bound to need ‘em again), but I still had a ton o’ gold in my pockets and quite the itchin’ to get back to the temple in Logas. So I convinced Alembic I needed to go there for their markets ’n’ he teleported me there.

I dutifully searched ‘round the markets first, and found a nifty little pink stone that’d make me harder to hit, so I bought it. Then I headed over to the temple to find Greenbrow ’n’ pay my obeisances ’n’ such, but once the acolytes in the entryway saw me they started whisperin’ ’n’ pointin’ at me and one of ‘em ran off. I figured I’d done somethin’ else wrong when the head priestess came out with some yellow-n-black nonsense in my size ’n’ told me to put it on, but I changed my armor to make it look like the teensy little bit she was holding up ’n’ asked whether it’d do ’n’ she smiled ’n’ said sure.

She led me in to the central shrine ’n’ we prayed, and then she had me take off my armor, so now I knew why the thing she’d offered me had so little fabric in it, ‘cause it was a little embarrassin’ to take so long to get nekkid, ‘specially ‘cause I had to get all the lockpicks ’n’ daggers out o’ my hair. She seemed to find the whole thing pretty amusin’, ’n’ then we got in the baths ’n’ washed each other. So, I’ll admit it, I don’t tend in that particular direction, but soapin’ up a large woman’s breasts is all kinds o’ fun ‘cause you keep slippin’ ’n’ fallin’ in the pool ’n’ such, ’n’ she didn’t seem to mind all my tomfoolery. So we coupled, ’n’ I was disappointed Greenbrow didn’t show up, but heck if I’d admit that to the priestess, ’n’ then he had me put my holy symbol on ’n’ pray some more.

And there, in the temple of Calistria, drippin’ ’n’ naked ’n’ a bit flushed ’n’ shivery from all our activity, I heard her! “Serve me well, Trig!’

I guess she wasn’t one for long speeches ’n’ such.

So the priestess ’n’ I got dressed, ’n’ she sent me to some acolytes to show me the proper prayers ’n’ such, ’n’ they told me I had to choose a particular time o’ day to pray, ‘cause Calistria was whimsical, but the gods’ rules were strict ’n’ they could only intervene if I followed their laws, like it or not. So I thought ‘bout when I could do it in secret, and since I usually did the watch just before dawn I chose two hours before dawn. The acolytes were pretty appalled, ‘cause ‘parently most people aren’t awake at that hour, but that was kind o’ my idea; I didn’t exactly want everyone to know I was suddenly an ordained cleric o’ Calistria, though the acolytes told me I’d glow to anyone who knew to look.

Oh, good. That was goin’ to make sneakin’ SO much easier!

Well, now I knew what I was shoppin’ for. I changed my armor back to be normal-lookin’ so Alembic wouldn’t suspect anythin’, then found a new headband to give me better wisdom, ‘cause I know clerics need it and I know I don’t have it. I met up with the rest o’ the group ’n’ we decided to rest for the night. I asked to stay at the temple, ’n’ I tracked down Greenbrow ’n’ gave him a goin’ over, then at two hours before dawn I started the prayers…
…and I immediately knew why it took clerics an hour! I don’t know how they do it!

Imagine bein’ at a restaurant, and none o’ the food has names. You just know what it looks like, ’n’ what it smells like, ’n’ what it’ll taste like, ’n’ the chef says, “Pick any two dishes you want!”
Yeah, that’s what bein’ a cleric’s like. ‘Cept there was one table o’ appetizers and I got to choose four, ’n’ one table o’ dishes ’n’ I got to choose two, ’n’ one table o’ house specials ’n’ I got to choose one, and I figure if I get any more powerful as a cleric my brain’s liable to pop from havin’ to make all these choices every day!

Yeah, the little voice said I could just ask for the same thing every day, but where’s the fun in that?

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Session 36, Played 10-Feb-2019

It’s kind o’ scary just how long you can stand around discussin’ how to kill the people that are waitin’ to kill you and have ‘em patiently wait outside ’til you’re good ’n’ ready to kill ‘em. The problem was, we had to figure out a plan, ’n’ we couldn’t agree on one. I figured we’d have Alembic teleport us into the night sky so we could swoop down on ‘em from above, and it’d be really cool, and bards would write epic stories ‘bout our descent from on high to smite our foes, but Llew didn’t like it ‘cause they had all those towers built specifically to repel flyin’ critters, so we’d probably be facin’ a stiff barrage. Llew was thinkin’ it would be a lot more sensible to go out the side door ‘cause there couldn’t be that many of ‘em there waitin’ for us, and Forth was cute as ever and just wanted to knock a hole in the wall on the other side ‘cause that’d surprise ‘em for sure! ‘Cept maybe all the noise from POUNDIN’ A HOLE IN THE WALL, but that’s Forth for you; personally I think all dwarves are a bit deaf, ‘cause they move around so noisily it deafens their kids. Alembic really really REALLY wanted to use fog, ‘cause… OK, I really DON’T know why Alembic wanted to use fog, but we finally agreed on a plan: I’d get ready to dodge arrows ’n’ open the door, and as I was dodgin’ Alembic’d put up a fog to hide us all, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth’d go out and deal with the ruffians. ‘Cause I like the word “ruffians”.

We got all situated, and I was wonderin’ ‘bout the rest o’ the group bein’ all ‘round me, ‘cause what if an archer was thinkin’, “I’m going to shoot the person next to the person that opens the door?” But I knew my job, so I limbered up, started dancin’ a bit before I opened the door, ‘cause most rogues make the mistake o’ doin’ it afterwards, and if you’re all full o’ arrows that fancy dancin’ won’t do you a lick of good, and opened the door.

I’d like to say we faced an army of hardened veteran ruffians and we had to fight for our lives.
Instead, all the arrows flew right over my head and clattered against the back wall, ‘cause every single archer had assumed a human-sized person’d be openin’ the door. Of the dozen-odd arrows that came my way, ONE of ‘em was low enough to hit me, and it bounced off Alembic’s Stoneskin spell nice ’n’ proper. Alembic threw up his fog (well, he cast it; it would’ve been cooler if he’d actually vomited it out. I gotta see whether he can do that), ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew ran out ’n’ turned left. I followed ‘em, and figured they’d probably need me to open up the cages, so I got up over the fog ’n’ got all dodgy again, and the guys shot at me again, but they were pretty bad shots ’n’ only one guy hit me (I think it was the same guy) ’n’ Alembic’s Stoneskin protected me again, so it didn’t much matter. I didn’t know why Llew ’n' Forth weren’t flyin’ yet, but I figured they were waitin’ for me to be a distraction, ‘cause I’m good at that, so I flew over to the cage and… a rope?!?!?! Who ties a cage shut with a stupid rope!?!? It was goin’ to take forever to untie that knot, ’n’ it’s not like my dagger’d be all that much faster, bein’ small ’n’ all. I started complainin’ really loudly, so Forth ’n’ Llew came up ’n’ cut open the rope ’n’ the guys inside, ’n’ they dropped really fast. So since they didn’t need me to open the cages, ’n’ I couldn’t fit in the cage with them ’n’ the guys, I figured I’d settle down on Alembic’s fog to see how comfy it was.

It was nice.

Trouble was, once I was sittin’ there, on top o’ the fog but a little bit in it, I heard a bunch more guys down in the fog proper, lookin’ for people to hit. Llew told the people topside to surrender, ’n’ a few of ‘em did, but none o’ the guys in the fog did so I figured we’d have to start dealin’ with ‘em. I’m no good in the fog so I went over to a roof to get a good view o’ one side o’ the fog. Since I couldn’t see any of ‘em, I started callin’ over to the horses to see whether they could see anythin’, but they could only see the guys who fed ‘em hidin’ over with them, so they weren’t much use. So o’ course while I was waitin’ for somethin’ to happen Llew went to the other side o’ the fog to go in and start lookin’ around, so they all ganged up on her as Forth was dealin’ with the last guys in the cages (and I don’t know what they said while I was nappin’ in the fog, but wow Forth was carvin’ ‘em up like they’d said wood houses were better’n stone or something). I flew over to start shootin’ at the ones on Llew’s side, but she yelled at me to come on down and give her some help flankin’, so I did that instead. Didn’t hit any of ‘em, but apparently I was helpin’ by just standin’ there and bein’ a distraction.

It’s a livin’.

At the end of it all, once it didn’t matter much, I got in a couple o’ good stabs on a couple o’ the guys too dim to surrender, but it didn’t feel like a heck of a lot. Once they were all dead ’n’ defeated I set about freein’ all the slaves. I found the cookin’ slaves, ’n’ the smithin’ slaves, ’n’ the sex slaves, ’n’ the horse feedin’ slaves, ’n’ I freed ‘em all and lined ‘em all up ‘gainst a wall so we could keep track of ‘em. Didn’t need any slaves wanderin’ out at night and gettin’ themselves killed! We started talkin’ ‘bout takin’ ‘em back to Eledir, but they were all locals and they just wanted to go home. But we had a bunch o’ farm kids to deal with, too, so someone came up with the brilliant idea o’ pairin’ up the orphaned kids with the kidless farmers ’n’ had me do the sales pitch and… it worked! Every last one o’ the kids got adopted by a needy home! I figured I’d done all right that night. ‘Cept I don’t know that Calistria’s the goddess o’ findin’ everybody a home or whatnot, but I figured she wouldn’t be mad ‘bout it. ‘Cause we all know how kids’re made, right?

Once the human “treasure” was rescued (yeah, call me sentimental, but I figured they were the most important), I started in on the loot while Llew did her thing to get information out o’ the guards. The loot was more’n any of us could carry, ’n’ the horses weren’t willin’ to let me load ‘em up as Alembic cast Ant Haul on ‘em ’n’ teleported ‘em to Eledir, even when I tried explainin’ to them all nicely, but Llew just started yankin’ on their reins and kickin’ ‘em and they started behavin’. Maybe they’re all worshippers o’ Calistria. Anyhoo, we had artwork ’n’ furs ’n’ horses ’n’ totems ’n’ weapons ’n’ armor ’n’ all sorts o’ stuff that looked like more loot’n we’d ever had before. I grabbed a few o’ the choice scrolls and a wand for myself ‘cause I knew it’d help the party, then started sortin’ the rest by value so Alembic’d be able to teleport the most important stuff first.

While I was doin’ all that (and Alembic helpin’, ‘cause I can’t lift much), Llew ’n’ Forth learned that the leader o’ this fort was actually scared o’ the leader o’ the southern fort, ’n’ paid him a tithe ’n’ everything. We didn’t get much more out of ‘em, so we set to work.

All in all, it took ‘bout 3 days to get all the loot back to Eledir. By then all the slaves ’n’ kids’d gone back to their farms, Forth ’n’ Llew’d reported to the people they felt needed to know (I had money so I was kind o’ distracted in the stalls ’n’ all), we sold all our stuff, ’n’ we started shoppin’. Alembic’s a really good shopper ‘cause any time we wanted somethin’ we couldn’t find in Eledir, he’d teleport us to Logas so we could get it, ’n’ if I happened to need a trip to the temple o’ Calistria, he’d come with me and wait in the lobby all patient-like. (Well, I assume he just waited in the lobby. Never know when an acolyte with an obeisance’ll come along.)

I got myself a nice cloak that’d protect my mind better, ‘cause I always need such things, and I got Jocelyn to give me a scroll of Heal, ‘cause I figured I’d eventually need to use one on Forth. Llew made a present of a wand o’ Cure Moderate Wounds to me, and I figured that was very kind of her, since Forth’d need it, too. I paid her back the money I owed her, then gave Alembic some money for the Stoneskins he was always castin’ on me ‘cause I really liked it, and realized I was gettin’ pretty low, so I stopped shoppin’ ’n’ spent a little more time at the temple. Llew got herself a cloak just like mine (only bigger, ‘cause she’s a little taller ’n’ me), Alembic got a staff to make up for the one he’d given back to Heddy, ’n’ Forth got a better shield, which I figure was money well-spent.

Once we were ready, we went back to find the first set o’ bandits we’d encountered. It took us quite a while, ‘cause they’d gone back to farmin’. I was pretty happy ‘bout that. We asked them ‘bout the southern fort, but they didn’t know any more than the bandits from the fort had. It was still 3-4 days from when the southern fort’d send their next set o’ guys to pick up their tithe, so we learned the route, and that it was always 2 guys, and we set up an ambush for ‘em.

Waitin’ for two guys while hidin’ on the side of the road is borin’. There. I’ve said it. I’ll say no more ‘bout it.

They rode right past me but spotted Forth standin’ waist-deep in the weeds. So they stopped ’n’ started talkin’ to him. They knew who he was, ’n’ didn’t balk from admittin’ that they were bandits, and it seemed like it might o’ been a bit of a sociable event except right there in the open Alembic started castin’ some kind o’ spell! I was in the middle o’ sneakin’ under the back guy’s horse with the intent o’ disablin’ it, when both of ‘em rode off to attack Alembic! Stupid sorcerer! I managed to dodge the horses’ hooves all right, but what kind o’ “ambush” were we pullin’ here? Standin’ out in the open, talkin’ at ‘em, and then castin’ spells at ‘em seems a lot more like “open and fair combat” with ‘em. And I don’t like that kind o’ combat nearly as much.

Unfortunately, I have short little legs so I didn’t do much o’ anythin’. I shot one with an arrow. That might o’ cut him a little. And that’s about it. They cut up Llew ’n’ Alembic pretty bad, but Llew ’n’ Forth cut them up worse, but not before one of ‘em sent off some kind o’ message ‘bout how he’d “failed his lord” ’n’ all. ‘Course, I don’t see how gettin’ ambushed ’n’ beat up is “failin’”, but I’m not Lawful, so there’s that.
Alembic said the spell he’d cast was short-ranged, so we secured the non-dead guy so he wouldn’t bleed to death or ride off, ’n’ Alembic teleported us up to the top of a hill so we could see better. In the distance I spotted a rider makin’ like hay for the hills, so I told Alembic to teleport us as far as he could in that direction. We were really close this time, so Alembic did it one more time ’n’ we were in front of him!

Forth hit the horse but it didn’t drop, so Llew did some kind o’ giant column o’ flame on the guy ’n’ the horse ’n’ that killed it all right. I dropped a tanglefoot bag on the guy ’n’ he rewarded me by steppin’ up and beatin’ on me hard. Where’s that Stoneskin, Alembic? Owwwwww!
Alembic wasn’t anywhere to be seen, ‘cause I guess he’d seen what the guy did to me and didn’t want any part of it, but then Forth just walked up and chopped the guy clean in half! Awww! He does care! I hugged his leg and thanked him, but he was all gruff ’n’ surly ‘cause he has to be ‘cause he’s a paladin.

We dragged corpse guy (not horse corpse) back to tied-up guy ’n’ Llew did her magic on tied-up guy. He knew a bit: The leader was some kind o’ dragon, but he didn’t know which kind, ‘cause the second-in-command is a barbarian who takes the orders from the dragon ’n’ issues ‘em to the men, so the men just have to trust that there’s a dragon back there. I searched the guy for scales, but no luck. We asked Alembic ‘bout dragons, but no luck. I swear, what does that man spend all that time in his room studyin’? The whole group is in a cave that’s a former mine, with around 16 guys and the dragon. Llew figured the ol’ hermit we’d heard ‘bout would probably know a lot ‘bout both mines ’n’ dragons, so she wanted to track him down to see what we could learn. We figured we’d first make the dead guy talk, ’n’ if he didn’t know anythin’ we’d find the hermit. Llew was good with that.

The rest o’ the gang was the former Thieves’ Guild o’ Wolfpoint, explainin’ the number of ‘em who know just where to stab to make it hurt the most. They originally volunteered to kill undead, ‘cause they wanted to be heroes, but they were kind o’ disorganized ’til they were recruited by the barbarian guy. So they worked for him for a while out o’ the fort in the caves, but then their orders changed ’n’ they started havin’ to bring in gold ’n’ silver. The guy figures that’s probably when the dragon took over.
He insisted that they were heroes, still protectin’ Eledir and just takin’ gold ’n’ silver from dead farmers who’d never miss it, and they wouldn’t’ve even fought us ‘cept Alembic’d shot first. I couldn’t argue with him there. They also knew that there were four of us, and Forth was “the weak guy”. Forth didn’t like that description much at all.

Since the guy didn’t seem to be all that bad, we let him go with a warnin’, and he rode off on one o’ the horses we didn’t kill. We teleported back to Eledir with dead guy, ’n’ I wanted to make him talk to Jocelyn ‘cause it would’ve been mean ’n’ funny, but Llew said we should try her guy first, ’n’ that was OK with me. We knew we’d get 5 questions, so we set up 4 ’n’ left the last open in case somethin’ new came up.
The dragon is black. That didn’t ring any bells with Alembic.
The dragon’s 3-4 horses long. That’s a big dragon!
The mine has only one way in and out of it.
The mine doesn’t have any formal defenses beyond havin’ a dragon in it.
Death smells like rot and decay
Yeah, I got in the fifth question ‘cause the rest o’ the group couldn’t think of any more. I was happy!

Well, we had a little bit more loot to sell, and a LOT to learn about dragons! Time to get to work!

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Session 35, Played 03-Feb-2019

What’s that? We’re headed north, not south?! Well, if you wouldn’t give all your directions such similar-soundin’ names it wouldn’t be such a bother! If I had to choose between “North” and “Fderkyanokalindunk”, it’d be no trouble at all! But “North” and “South”? They have the same number o’ syllables! They even end with the same sound! And don’t even get me started on “East” ’n’ “West”!

Anyhoo, while I grumbled Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic headed “North”, ’n’ I followed ‘em ‘cause I figured they’d need me, ’n’ Llew said the trail was really obvious, ’n’ I trusted her ‘cause she knew that kind o’ thing, ’n’ we rode for a while. I figured we’d probably have to be stealthy, so I made my armor look like the kind one o’ the bandits was wearin’, ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic gave me some grief about it ‘cause I didn’t look anythin’ like a bandit, but I figured lookin’ like a local was a lot better’n lookin’ like a dwarven paladin with shiny new armor. Unless we were plannin’ on fightin’ first ’n’ talkin’ later, in which case I really ought to know before we go in.
Llew started showin’ off by spottin’ the fort first before any o’ the rest of us while starin’ at the ground to track. But as soon as she pointed it out I had no trouble at all spottin’ it: A big ol’ wooden palisade like humans like, ‘round a farmhouse, some tents, and a few other buildings, nested in a valley so it’d have good defenses on all sides.

It’s like humans never have to deal with gnomes. Or fire.

Anyhoo, once we got close enough for Forth ’n’ Alembic to see (I figure dwarves’ve got those beady eyes and they’re used to the dark, but I don’t know what Alembic’s excuse is), we started lookin’ over the place ’n’ tryin’ to figure out just what it was. Forth ’n’ LLew pointed out that bandits don’t usually set up forts; when things get bad they just up ’n’ leave. And the watchtowers were in the wrong place, all in the middle o’ the town instead of around the edges where they belonged. I figured they were bein’ sensible and protecting ‘em from gnomes like me, but Llew ’n’ Forth said they looked more like they were protectin’ the big grain silo in the middle. So probably lots o’ greedy bandits, ’n’ they liked to help themselves to the food, ’n’ the guy in charge was all Lawful and didn’t want them takin’ more than their fair share, so he was keepin’ ‘em out. That’s what you get for makin’ your ruler Lawful! Give me King Heddy any day!

Forth said it looked like someone with military trainin’d set the whole place up, and we needed more information, so I went all sneaky and tip-toed up as close as I could, bein’ extra-careful to watch for surprises in the woods. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any so I got to just go up as close as I could. Once I was closer I saw that they’d dealt with fire or gnomes before, ‘cause they’d cleared out the last 50 feet of everythin’, even short grass or little rocks, so I’d be totally in the open if I got any closer. There were a bunch o’ platforms along the walls (two along the long walls, one along each short wall) with four guys with bows on each one. They were pretty well-trained, it looked like, ‘cause they weren’t goofin’ off or playin’ pranks on each other, ’n’ I saw one group signal to another group ’n’ so forth, ’n’ I stuck around for a few minutes just to see whether they’d do anythin’ stupid, but they didn’t, ’n’ I didn’t want to burn a potion this early into the exploration, so I decided to go back ’n’ report my findin’s.
On my way back I ran into another patrol circumnavigatin’ the perimeter, ‘cause I can talk all military-like when I need to, but I was better’n them so I saw them but they didn’t see me and we went our separate ways.

I told the group ‘bout what I’d seen, and I figured they’d just send me back at nighttime to see whether I could get closer ’n’ get some better ideas, but Forth just wanted to walk on up to the front gates ’n’ knock! He figured they were bein’ run efficiently, they’d killed a bunch o’ undead, ’n’ their only real crime so far was shakin’ down the locals for loot.

So yeah, I just don’t understand Lawful at all.

Llew said that she wasn’t goin’ to let Forth go it alone, so she’d go with ‘im, and they should get spotted by the circumnavigatin’ group, ‘cause that way there’d be a lot fewer arrows if things went bad. I still didn’t like it, but I told ‘em I’d break ‘em out when the time came. There was nothin’ in that fort that I saw that could keep me out, ’n’ I figured once I got in, Alembic could teleport to me, grab the other two, ’n’ teleport back out again. It doesn’t work that way? What good are you, then?

Since my escape plan had a serious flaw named Alembic in it, I started arguin’ harder ‘gainst Llew ’n’ Forth surrenderin’ themselves. Forth kept sayin’ he just wanted to talk, not surrender, but I figured it was probably the same thing. Alembic was on my side, which probably wasn’t the best o’ things, but it couldn’t be avoided. We at least agreed to wait to see the place at night, which was a plus in my book, and right around sunset a bunch o’ outrider groups carryin’ stuff in came in. There was our ticket! We could wait ’til mornin’, ambush one o’ the groups on their way out, talk to them, and get all the information we needed to know without the risk o’ capture!
‘Cept I used the “ambush” word ’n’ that kind o’ ended the argument with Forth right there. He came up with some excuse that even if we just got in their way to talk to them, their orders’d be somethin’ different from the orders o’ the nearby guys, like, “Kill anyone who gets in your way,” so we’d be more likely to have a fight with the outriders. I was OK with that, ‘cause that kind o’ order’s enough for me to figure some people ought to get taken down, but Forth wouldn’t hear of it, so that was that.

A bit after nightfall, some guys came out and set some traps. Apparently not very many, ‘cause I hadn’t run into ‘em before, but maybe they were just careless. I finally convinced everyone to let Llew fly over the camp invisibly at night to see whether she could learn any more about ‘em. I’d’ve suggested myself, but I think Forth was a little sore with me for arguin’ so hard against just talkin’ to ‘em, but sometimes, you just know talking isn’t going to end up well. So we waited a couple o’hours ’til it was good ’n’ dark ’n’ we could hear music ’n’ merry-makin’ in the camp, then we sent Llew off like a giant invisible badass balloon.
She didn’t have any trouble, ’n’ when she got back she reported that they were slavers, auctionin’ off women ’n’ men they’d captured in the farmlands to the amusement o’ the bandits. So… death sentence from me right off the bat, ’n’ this time Forth didn’t argue much, ‘cept to argue that maybe bein’ a slaver didn’t merit the death penalty in all parts o’ the world.

It does in the parts I’m in.

Anyhoo, Llew described a lot o’ other stuff she saw; some weird animal totems, ’n’ some weird religious stuff, but she didn’t recognize it, ’n’ I figured we could figure it out once the slavers were all dead. Forth kind o’ rolled his eyes at me in that way he does when he’s bein’ Lawful, but he finally agreed that we needed to go in swingin’.

While we were waitin’ for it to be late enough for everyone in the camp to be asleep, I searched through my lunches to find some candy, which isn’t easy when you’ve got a bunch o’ well-packed gnome lunches and you’re in a hurry and you need to make sure you aren’t all covered with honey and bees, or on fire, or tryin’ to pull little cactus burrs out o’ your nether regions, but I finally found some and once we were ready to go I concentrated real hard so I’d be able to talk to animals. It’s somethin’ I can do, but I don’t, ‘cause I always forget. And I figure Yellow probably didn’t have much to say anyway, bein’ a coward ’n’ all. Llew did somethin’ to my eyes to help me see better, which I appreciated, but I really thought it’d be better on Alembic, since he seems half-blind all the time. She said it’d be better on me, so I didn’t argue.

Alembic teleported us in right next to the stables (and he called it somethin’ different, like Division Door, but a teleport’s a teleport in my book, and we were in one place and then another, so it was a teleport). Forth let the charge up an alley between two buildings to the front door o’ the barracks, as we figured we’d catch ‘em off-guard, but o’ course the door was locked ’n’ Forth’s shakin’ o’ the doorknob woke someone up. So I ran up and put my handy-dandy Portable Door on top o’ the real door, ‘cause it’s the kind o’ thing I buy, and Alembic cast Open on it, ’n’ Llew ran in and started whackin’ people. ’N’ that’s what I like ‘bout Llew. When people need a good whackin’, she doesn’t hesitate.
So Forth went in, too, ’n’ Alembic ’n’ I heard bodies droppin’ left and right, ’n’ Forth wasn’t bleedin’, so I figured my job was to make sure we didn’t get any unexpected company. Alembic first sped us up, ’n’ then cast somethin’ out towards the courtyard ’n’ said no one’d be comin’ from that direction, ’n’ I got to work on the door across the way to make sure no one’d be able to open it by surprise. It was one o’ the doors into the farmhouse, so I figured we might be needin’ it later, so I just did a bit o’ jammin’ with my any-tool to make sure I’d be able to get back in when I needed to.

And just as soon as I was satisfied with job, Llew ’n’ Forth said they were done ’n’ I need to open the door again! I was pretty pleased ‘cause it meant they weren’t stoppin’ to stabilize the slavin’ bastards, and there’s a little bit o’ satisfaction in knowin’ that a slavin’ rapist is bleedin’ out in the next room. But maybe that’s just me. So I pulled my stuff back off o’ the door, and o’ course the other guys’d locked it too, so I had to open THAT lock up and let everyone in, and they all ran into the dark room like it was nothin’. Alembic was at least polite enough to say, “Oh, I have a spell that lets me see in the dark,” and then cast it and went on in, but there I was, lookin’ in at the pitch blackness, as Llew was describin’ some kind o’ knick-knack room full o’ bone carvings. Forth opened a door and called out that he’d found some kids, ’n’ I figured that was gonna be MY job ‘cause I’m good with kids ’n’ I didn’t want ‘em gettin’ hurt by bein’ in the way, while Llew opened another door and said she’d found more art.

So Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic ran off ahead while I activated my ioun stone o’ seein’ stuff ’n’ went in to talk to the kids. So I told ‘em they had to stay in the room and keep real quiet, ‘cause bad stuff was happenin’ and I wanted ‘em to be safe. So, they didn’t know me from a goblin raider, but I’m charmin’ with kids, ’n’ they said they’d be good ’n’ stay in the room, ‘specially when I promised ‘em candy if they were good. (I hadn’t fed it to the horses, so why not?) I went over to lock the door across the way and they got kind o’ scared sayin’ that their mean ol’ teacher would be mad if she found the door locked, but I figured I’d be stabbin’ mean ol’ teacher a bunch o’ times anyway, so I could deal with her bein’ mad at me. ‘Cept I didn’t say that out loud, ‘cause I’m a clever girl that way.

Once I was sure the kids were safe, I chased after the rest o’ the group, ‘cause they were fightin’ somethin’, and I got there and Forth was bleedin’ pretty well already, so I figured things were goin’ fine, ‘cept once I saw the way the guys were wieldin’ their weapons I knew they had some rogue-y trainin’ so I needed to get in there to protect Forth. But no sooner was I finally in there and safely between them ’n’ Forth (’n’ they stepped around me to stab him some more, ‘cause they know a better rogue when they see one) than Forth dropped one ’n’ Llew dropped the other. Llew said she heard castin’ behind us, and sure enough Alembic (who I’d run past) hollered that a bunch o’ caster types were after him, ’n’ he closed the door to hide from them. They burned on through the door, but saw me ’n’ sent a whole bunch o’ burnin’ Fireballs my way. It was just like my childhood games, dodgin’ dancin’ bouncin’ burnin’ balls o’ death, and I was kind o’ gigglin’ at the memories, but one o’ the balls came after Alembic (who’d run all the way back to where I was) and he didn’t seem to be havin’ nearly as much fun as I was. I threw my thunderstone at ‘em, ‘cause the vendor said it would really mess up casters, but it didn’t seem to do much of anythin’. I’d be mad, but if you believe every wondrous thing every vendor says about every item you buy, then you really deserve to get ripped off. It was a stone. It made a loud bang when I threw it. Money well-spent. But wasted. At least it was one thing I didn’t have to re-stock next time I was in town!

Then I went blind. Or I should say, the stupid wizard guys did somethin’ else ’n’ there was a bright flash ’n’ suddenly I couldn’t see anythin’. The fiery orbs kept tryin’ to hit me, but even blind I’d had to dodge better than them as a wee little twenty-year-old, so I wasn’t particularly bothered. But I didn’t get to see much o’ the fight. Just a lot o’ boomin’ ’n’ zappin’ ’n’ clankin’ and Forth sayin’, “Ow,” like he always does, which is kind o’ reassurin’ ‘cause it means he’s still with us, ’n’ Alembic sayin’ funny stuff to cast spells that sounds really hilarious when you’re blind and you and pretend he’s speakin’ in a foreign language ’n’ summonin’ goblins in drag to be his love slaves ’n’ all, but all in all I wasn’t bein’ particularly useful.

Once I could see again I could see that I was all glowy, which was kind o’ nice ‘cause I didn’t need my light any more, but kind of a pain ‘cause it’d make hidin’ from anyone almost impossible, unless they were blind. In which case it would be pretty easy. So I was pretty mad ‘bout bein’ blinded then glowy, so I ran in and stabbed one and he just dropped like I was a great big troll or somethin’, ’n’ Llew yelled at me again ‘bout stealin’ her kills, so apparently I’d stabbed the wrong one. I was going to have to find some way for her to mark ‘em so I’d know which ones not to stab. Alembic cast somethin’ at the guy next to us and suddenly all the ghosty doubles that were around him went away entirely. I didn’t think it did much good, but then I realized that these were like the Mirror Images that Alembic used all the time, ‘cept I could tell which person was real ‘cause o’ the stuff Llew put in my eyes! So Llew got to kill that guy, and that made her happy. And it made me happy, ‘cause slaver.

The rest o’ the guys all pulled out shocky wands ’n’ started tryin’ to fry Forth, but he didn’t want to be fried so he dodged better than I’d ever seen him dodge before, and since I didn’t have any help with the guy next to me I just poked at the misty ghosty images and popped a couple, ‘cause I figured it’d be helpful. It was, ‘cause it let Llew ’n’ Forth drop the rest of ‘em just as we heard another group comin’ in from the way we’d just come! Busy beavers!

Forth drank a potion, which meant he was hurtin’ pretty bad, so I pulled out Ornery but Ornery wasn’t feelin’ very cooperative so he only healed Forth a tiny bit. As we ran to meet the new guys, I gave Ornery a few choice words in Goblin and suddenly he was a LOT more willin’ to heal Forth, ’n’ I felt better ‘cause I think there was a little less blood comin’ out o’ him.

And what should come into the room but a great big bear! I was overjoyed! I yelled, “Hi, bear! We’re your friends! We’ll feed you the horses if you calm down and don’t fight us!”
But the bear just said it wanted to kill us all and then eat the horses anyway. Stupid bear.

And this is why I don’t talk to animals.

So Llew ’n’ Forth killed it, ‘cause it was just an ordinary bear and didn’t have much of a chance against people with weapons ’n’ armor, ’n’ then this guy in the next room started wailin’ ‘bout how mean we were to have killed his bear! And it’s like, WE’RE mean? WE’RE not the ones who sent a poor stupid bear against a bunch o’ seasoned adventurers in armor. What did the idiot THINK would happen? We’d see the bear ’n’ panic ’n’ surrender?

Llew headed for the sound o’ the voice through a trophy room full o’ stuffed animals ’n’ even some stuffed undead (wouldn’t want to know who had to do that job), and a big guy with a bigger hammer popped out of a doorway and smacked Llew pretty hard. I heard crackin’, and she didn’t seem too happy.
I tried to run in and around him to get Forth a flank, but he just reached out his weapon, gentle-like, ’n’ blocked my path and stopped me right in front o’ him! Like a big ol’ papa gnome, ‘cept three times too tall! He told me that I shouldn’t be there (and he called me “boy”), ‘cause I was a kid and this was a grownup fight. I decided to roll with it and started actin’ like a kid and stabbin’ at him and callin’ him a “bad man”, figurin’ if things went south I could hang out with the kids for a bit before breakin’ everyone else out. ‘Cept he chose to pound on Forth, and Forth’s used to that kind o’ thing, so after a bit he ’n’ Llew dropped the guy, ’n’ I helped not one whit. Llew was so mad at him that she left her sword in him for a bit, but once he was dead she grabbed it out, and Alembic told us even more guys were comin’ soon. Ah, well, attack a camp, get a campful o’ guards!

We kept pressin’ deeper into the buildin’, first through the guys’ bedroom (with a nice rug for the now-dead bear to sleep on), and into another room with a lady who tried to whack Forth with a club. I moved on past her to try to calm her down with my sap, figurin’ she was a prisoner, but when she cast a lightning bolt that hit Llew I figured that (a) she wasn’t a prisoner, and (b) she was going to die very soon. So I dropped my sap and pulled my dagger and did very little ‘cause Forth ’n’ Llew dropped her, too. I figured I wasn’t doin’ anyone any good so I offered to finish off the last couple o’ rooms in the house while Forth ’n’ Llew went back to help Alembic with whoever was comin’ in the front door.

I found the classroom ’n’ the door to the kids’ room I’d locked, so I knew I’d been around the entire buildin’, but my gnome sense was tinglin’; somethin’ ‘bout the buildin’ just didn’t add up. So I put my seein’ gloves ‘gainst the wall I suspected, ’n’ sure enough there was all kinds of treasure through it! All I had to do was find the door. ‘Cept there was a fight goin’ on and I really needed to go check it out.
I got to the fight just in time to see the last of four guys fall in one of Alembic’s pits, so I figured the fight was probably going pretty OK, ‘cept the guys were tryin’ to climb out. I hid for a bit waitin’ for ‘em to come up in the hopes o’ puttin’ a nice arrow into one of ‘em, but after a bit it got borin’ so I went back to find the secret door I knew had to be there. I eventually found it in the boss guys’ bedroom (of course), so I called out to Llew in Elven that it was there, just in case anythin’ happened to me. While I was alone and safe in an empty buildin’ and the rest o’ the party were fightin’ for their lives.

Yeah, I’m the conscientious sort.

The rest o’ the group finished moppin’ up everyone stupid enough to have come in, and now it was time to go outside and deal with the forty or fifty guys standing outside the buildin’, bows ready, waitin’ for us to open the door.

Sounds fun!

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Session 34, Played 20-Jan-2019

So, we all knew we were goin’ to go kill the Mother of Wights, and we knew she was in Finder’s Gulch, but we didn’t have much of an idea how to get there. So we found a nice table at our tavern, sat down, and spat out what we knew about the place. I said, “Nothin’,” which wasn’t all that helpful, but at least it was truthful. But everybody else had some better ideas, ‘specially Alembic since apparently it was a Big Thing back when it wasn’t infested with wights ’n’ such. So, what Alembic knew was that it was up in the mountains (kind o’ not surprisin’, since it was a “gulch” ’n’ all, and you don’t tend to find people callin’ things “gulches” in river valleys or plains or such). There were paths to it from both Logas and Eledir, but the path from Logas was shorter ’n’ steeper. (Again, kind o’ made sense that the shorter path into the mountains was steeper, but Alembic was on a roll so I let him ramble.) Alembic knew the one from Logas was more popular back in the day, but he couldn’t say why, though I thought that maybe bein’ SHORTER had somethin’ to do with it! Everyone knows that people like shorter things!
So, the history was kind o’ creepy. 100 years ago, Finder’s Gulch was a diamond mine. For whatever reason, a cleric o’ Urgathoa showed up, killed everyone, then gave herself a bunch o’ diseases, cut herself up, and forced the survivors to eat her. Yeah, yeah. I know. “If she killed everyone, who did she feed herself to?”, but it’s Alembic’s story, not mine! Anyhoo, the people she fed turned into the original wights, ’n’ she died but impressed Urgathoa so much that she came back as a daughter of Urgathoa, which is apparently some kind of really nasty maybe undead maybe not undead thingy that we’re going to have to figure out how to kill. Maybe 20-30 years later, Isger started worryin’ ‘bout all the wights up in the mountains and built a bunch o’ iron golems and put ‘em up there to block up all the roads. If they had that many iron golems, why they just didn’t go on in and kill her I’ll never know, but humans don’t think straight a lot o’ the time. Kind o’ like Alembic ’n’ his stories. Anyhoo, the Goblin Wars came along and ended all that, and we knew what was goin’ on now: The Mother of Wights had gotten in touch with the Jeggares, some o’ the clerics o’ Asmodeus, ’n’ a bunch o’ other people to convince ‘em all to turn a bunch o’ people into undead in the hopes of “saving” the country ’n’ coming out on top, ‘cept the Mother of Wights was plannin’ on double-crossin’ ‘em all and killin’ every last one of ‘em.

Gotta admit, at least she thinks these things through.

Llew said that was all good information, but we needed more, so I told her I could hit up my alchemist for information, and he’d probably point me to some o’ his friends, then they’d point me on to their friends, then I’d have to find ‘em all in the various taverns ’n’ such in Eledir, so it would probably be a few hours and I needed to know whether we had any kind o’ time limit. Alembic got all irritated ’n’ said that maybe I didn’t have to do all this alone, ’n’ everyone else could help with the research ’n’ askin’ around, and I kind o’ felt bad for him ‘cause we all knew he was unpopular, but then I realized he probably meant he’d go to some kind o’ library and that would work ‘cause books don’t hate. So Forth said he’d go talk to the dwarves at the temple o’ Torag, Llew said she’d check the Pharasman archives, I’d ask around the taverns ’n’ such, ’n’ Alembic’d do somethin’ so he didn’t feel all lonely.

So my first stop was my alchemist buddy, and I asked him whether he knew anyone who was maybe 130, 140 years old who’d remember what it was like in the old days, but he just kind o’ laughed at me and said that humans didn’t live that long, so I told him I already knew that and maybe he could stop bein’ a smart-ass and point me to some non-humans, but he wasn’t any use at all, ‘cept he said that maybe the temple of Asmodeus’d have some records I could look through. Well, I didn’t particularly want to look through a bunch o’ dusty old records, but I figured if I asked Jocelyn real nice she’d set one o’ her acolytes to it for me, and that was OK with me ‘cause if you sign up to be an acolyte of Asmodeus you kind o’ deserve to get treated that way, so I headed over to see her. Out in front o’ the temple was some chopped up guy with his head on a pike and his body in pieces on the ground, with a bunch o’ rocks around him, but I didn’t know who he was, and I need to ‘cause it’d tell me whether Jocelyn was in a good mood or a bad mood, and it turned out the hellknights’d tracked down the old high priest ’n’ handed him over to Jocelyn for punishment for consortin’ with demons.

Good mood it was.

So I headed on in, and ‘course the acolytes know me ‘cause I’m there a lot ’n’ I’d just bought a scroll ’n’ such, so they got Jocelyn right away, and I was right, she was all smiles ’n’ such, and her robes looked finer ’n’ made me wish I’d actually paid a little attention when they were tryin’ to teach me the clerical ranks ’n’ whatnot so I could congratulate her properly, but I just rambled on a bit ‘bout how good the new robes looked on her and congratulations ’n’ such ’n’ she smiled even wider, and when I said I was lookin’ for information she got all happy ’n’ asked me whether givin’ me the information would repay the favor I’d done her ’n’ I said sure ‘cause I had no idea what she was talkin’ ‘bout but she definitely didn’t want to be in my debt any more, ’n’ probably didn’t know that I had no idea what she was talkin’ ‘bout. ‘Cause I’m a good liar. Learned from that halfling girl in Gillamoor, and have been practicin’ ever since.

Anyhoo, since it was repayin’ a favor o’ some kind, Jocelyn took me to the archives herself, and she read all the dusty books so I didn’t have to, ’n’ it made me like her even more ’n’ wish she wasn’t a stuffy old Asmodean, ‘cause I knew if I crossed her she’d kill me as soon as look at me, and it’s hard to have friends you can’t play harmful practical jokes on.
Jocelyn knew a lot, ‘cause Asmodeans like their records ’n’ such. In addition to what we already knew (and I was polite enough not to tell her I knew any of it, and to pretend to be really interested even when she got all borin'), she first told me that the paths up to Finder’s Gulch were full o’ bandits who’d managed to survive all the undead passin’ through their lands ’n’ were comin’ back stronger’n ever, which wasn’t surprising; look at how strong we were after a couple o’ months o’ fightin’ undead! ‘Course, all the outlands were full o’ bandits, so we were likely to run into some. I asked her whether it was Lawful for me to kill ‘em, since I figured she was probably more Lawful than King Heddy, and she got even happier and told me that if I knew they were bandits then I was welcome to kill ‘em. I like Asmodeans. They’re lawful, but they’ll answer yes/no questions straight up. Sometimes. OK. Hardly ever. Maybe I just like Jocelyn. ‘Cause she doesn’t mess with my brain.

Anyhoo, she continued with current events by tellin’ me that some o’ the golems we’d killed in the river (we did what now?) were “corrupted” Isger golems. I pretended I was smart ’n’ didn’t ask what “corrupted golems” were, but I figured I’d better ask Alembic ‘bout it, but she said we should be really careful travelin’ in the mountains ‘cause the golems wouldn’t necessarily behave like normal golems. I figured that wouldn’t be much trouble for me, since I didn’t know what “normal” golems behaved like in the first place.

Once she was done with what was goin’ on now, she started lookin’ at the history. The old path was a horse path that’d had carts on it, so it was probably still a pretty decent road, ‘cept there were a few bridges along the path that were probably collapsed since then, so we should be prepared for some climbin’. I smiled and thought of my brand new Boots of the Winterlands, Immovable Rod, and my old rope, and figured I’d be able to get the group ‘cross any ravines. The old record talked about the mountains near Finder’s Gulch bein’ infested with “redcaps”, even before the Mother o’ Wights came along, and this time I’m sure Jocelyn saw me writin’ it down on my arm along with the rest o’ the notes, but she just smiled a little ’n’ didn’t say anythin’ ‘cause she’s nice that way. The more important stuff from the archives was that while normal wights aren’t anythin’ a well-trained group o’ soldiers needs to fear, the wights the Mother o’ Wights created could single-handedly take out a platoon o’ soldiers, explainin’ why they’d gone to all the expense to create all those golems. Even worse, the wights o’ Finders Gulch ‘re clever: They hunt in packs, use sound tactics, are stealthy ’n’ clever, and are dedicated to makin’ livin’ people into more wights. Basically no fun at all at parties. As if hidey smart wights weren’t bad enough, early reports out of the village were that once it was destroyed, some o’ the dead villagers came back as vengeful ghosts, so now it’s a haunted village full o’ ghosts.

This trip is lookin’ less and less fun!

Once Jocelyn’d told me all that she asked me whether my favor was repaid, ’n’ I said sure, and she smiled, but I figured I’d probably end up doin’ her some more favors in the future by accident, so I’d keep harassin’ her for stuff. What’s the worst that can happen? I get followed by another devil? Get in line, chum!

I met up with the others and we learned a little more. At the temple of Pharasma, Llew learned ‘bout the wights ’n’ ghosts too, but also learned that the temple’d been looking to destroy ‘em for a while now (no word of a reward… yet). The Eledir road was for food goin’ in to the village, and the Logas road was for diamonds comin’ out. Forth didn’t learn much other than that the dwarves were pretty angry with the humans for settin’ up a diamond mine without them, then losin’ it to a single priestess. They kind o’ had a point. Alembic didn’t say what he’d been doin’, but he definitely smelled more girl-y than book-y, so I’m pretty sure I know how he spend his hours in Eledir. But he’d volunteered to do the legwork in Logas, so I didn’t hold it against him.

I may tease him mercilessly about it later, but I won’t hold it against him.

Speakin’ o’ teasin’ Alembic, the moment he teleported us to Logas I changed my outfit to look like a homeless orphan, then tousled up my hair a bit (more), rolled in the dirt, ’n’ started followin’ Alembic ‘round, snifflin’ at him and lookin’ at him with big eyes, scared ’n’ obedient at the same time. I like to think I was puttin’ on a good show. Then he had the nerve to order me to get him a beer! So I figured I had a writ to break into any place in Logas that I hadn’t yet used, but I wasn’t allowed to take anythin’, so I started wrackin’ my brain tryin’ to figure out how to get into someone’s house and get them to give me beer after admittin’ I’d successfully broken in and not taken any stuff. Seemed like a LOT of work for a joke, and jokes that take work aren’t funny unless fire or pain is involved. So I got bored o’ thinkin’ and just fetched him a beer, ‘cause I wanted to keep up the act. But after handin’ it to him, I pretended to trip ’n’ scrape up my knees ’n’ sniffled a bit, and people started lookin’ at Alembic approvingly like he was doin’ the right thing. Stupid Asmodeans!

So while Alembic was sittin’ there enjoyin’ his beer, ’n’ people were tryin’ to bump into me and knock me over again all subtle-like, and I wasn’t stabbin’ ‘em ‘cause I hadn’t bought that particular indulgence… yet, I asked Alembic ‘bout redcaps. And basically they’re angry gnomes in steel shoes. You’ve got to use cold iron to cut ‘em (check), they like to stomp ’n’ kick people with their steel shoes (whatever), their caps are red ‘cause they dip ‘em in the blood o’ their enemies (which means they’ve got to have a LOT of enemies, ‘cause I don’t know that my cap’d be all that red if I did that), you can take their caps away to make ‘em weaker (OK, that sounds really fun), and they hate religion. In fact, they’ll run away from any “true believer” presenting their god’s holy symbol. I started thinkin’ ‘bout how long it’d been since I’d paid Calistria an obeisance, and started thinkin’ it was probably time for me to visit the temple, and not just for information.

First, though, it was time to visit Alembic’s cousin or brother or uncle or whatever-the-heck-he-was, Brighton Farbridge, Captain o’ the Guard (or whatever). He seemed happy enough to see us, and when Alembic started askin’ him ‘bout the road he could tell us a bit about it from the Logas side o’ things. The Jeggares got their wealth from the diamond mine at Finder’s Gulch (the plot thickens!), and rumor has it that the people up there unearthed somethin’ that attracted a cleric of Urgathoa named Ilkanya Alanar, who went on to do all the disease-castin’ and hostage-murderin’ and so forth to become the Mother o’ Wights. So, I don’t care much for “Alanar”, but Ilkanya’s got a nice ring to it. Couldn’t she have become, “Ilkanya, Mother o’ Wights” or somethin’? Ah, well, there’s no accountin’ for taste! It’s not like I’d go around cuttin’ myself into pieces and feedin’ myself to other people for an accursed diamond, either. Farbridge specifically said Urgathoa’s “wrath”, so while other people were thinkin’ ‘bout something Ilkanya would’ve wanted, I was thinkin’ maybe it was somethin’ she wanted to destroy, like maybe a diamond that cured all diseases or made you immune or somethin’. But it doesn’t much matter, ‘cause we don’t know what it is ’til she’s dead. But in general, the people of Logas figured the Mother of Wights was someone else’s problem: They weren’t buggin’ her, she wasn’t buggin’ them, ’n’ there were golems between her ’n’ them. ‘Cept they were kind o’ forgettin’ her whole plot to wipe the city off the map with an army of undead, but humans are stupid that way.
On the sly, Farbridge mentioned that there were actually Urgathoans in town that he was tryin’ to root out, and they were probably another reason the townsfolk weren’t so keen on bothering the Mother. Before we left, he said the same thing ‘bout the golems: They’d seen some “corrupted” ones, so if we were plannin’ on headin’ up, we had to watch out for ‘em. He even told us they were iron golems, but Alembic didn’t know anythin’ about them, so we decided to go to the library.

Once we were there, I was gettin’ pretty bored so I offered to play hide-n-seek with the head librarian. He thought it was a great idea ’n’ he started showin’ me all the best places to hide, ’n’ he said he’d search for me really hard but I knew he wouldn’t so I kind o’ look forward to him gettin’ to explain to the angry moms how those drawings got into those kids’ books. ‘Cept I used chalk, ‘cause I’m good that way (and I didn’t have anything better to write with) so I didn’t ruin anything. And I was tired o’ bein’ a waif so I came out all dressed noble-like, and the head librarian didn’t even notice, makin’ me sure he was lyin’ when he said he’d looked all over for me, ‘cause he obviously didn’t even know what I looked like. Alembic said the library didn’t have any useful information, but I was beginnin’ to think it wasn’t the library that was the problem here. But the head librarian did tell us that the Guild of Magicians probably built the golems, so we could ask there, and Llew’d spent the time learnin’ ‘bout daughters o’ Urgathoa, ’n’ of course she learned everything there was to know ‘cause she wasn’t Alembic.

They’re basically adopted daughters o’ Urgathoa (which kind o’ explains the name), ’n’ they look like the people they were from the waist up, but from the waist down they’re twisted, deformed things. I really didn’t want to ask, and Llew didn’t elaborate. They’ve got all the stuff they knew in life, so the Mother o’ Wights would be a high-level cleric, plus a nasty claw that had a “devastatin’ attack” that didn’t sound all that fun, and that caused all kinds o’ nasty diseases. Other’n that, you just kill ‘em like any other creature, and they’re evil so Forth’s smite’ll work, as will Llew’s protection.

At this point Alembic was plannin’ on goin’ to the Guild o’ Magicians to talk to THEM and read MORE books and I was pretty much done, so I told ‘em I was headed to the temple of Calistria to find out whether there were any elves or gnomes there old enough to remember the path before the Mother of Wights, ‘cause we all live to proper ages, not like humans who breed like rabbits ’n’ die like ‘em, too. On the way all these people were noddin’ at me and bowin’ to me, and some o’ the merchants were givin’ me free candy ’n’ stuff, but it didn’t ‘splode so I knew they weren’t lovin’ me ‘cause I was a gnome, they were lovin’ me ‘cause I was dressed all noble-like, so I snubbed ‘em, and apparently that made me even more important so it was all I could do to avoid havin’ a retinue by the time I got to the temple.

I figured I could kill two birds with one stone real quick-like, so as I walked in I looked around for a likely candidate for my obeisance. And maybe Calistria was just smilin’ on me or maybe she was punishin’ me, but there in the waitin’ room for the servicin’ area was a group o’ halflings who couldn’t’ve been more’n an hour off the farm. They were all done up farmer’s-weddin’ style, with fineries passed down from their granddads or their great-granddads, and smellin’ like manure ’n’ hay, ’n’ some of ‘em still had hay in their hair to prove to anyone beyond a doubt that they were yokels, ’n’ they had a big ol’ bag o’ coins that I was sure were all copper ’n’ they were mutterin’ ’n’ gigglin’ ’n’ obviously wonderin’ what they could afford for the would-be groom for what was obviously a year’s wages for them.
So I just waded on through ‘em, still in my noble’s outfit, ’n’ grabbed the groom (I presumed) by the hand, ’n’ dragged him off, and found a room, and got to work.
‘Cept whatever acolyte was in charge o’ this room’d really fallen down on the job; it was really small to begin with, and then it was cluttered with brooms ’n’ mops ’n’ a couple o’ buckets, ’n’ there was no bed ’n’ no light, so I had to set my ioun torch goin’ cause farm boy had no idea what the heck he was doin’.
And yeah, he was bad. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever had worse. Maybe he was nervous, or stupid, or used to tied-up sheep or somethin’, but I started to really pity his would-be bride. But I know what Calistria says: “If you’re not enjoying yourself, at least make sure your partner has the experience of his lifetime. Or make him suffer such agony as he will never forget.”
I figured since this was an obeisance ’n’ all I should probably do the former ’n’ not the latter, ’n’ I think I did a pretty good job ‘cause I left him lyin’ there semi-conscious in the dark room with the brooms and his trousers half-down ’n’ the door ajar, but I figured an acolye’d find him ’n’ get him all fixed up.
Trouble was, now I smelled like hay ’n’ manure so I had to go to baths before I saw the priestess, so that was really nice but took a bit o’ time ‘cause I hadn’t had a hot bath in a LONG time and I really needed one.

Once I was all cleaned up I went to see the priestess. I turned on the charm (though I didn’t dare use the Big Eyes on her, ‘cause I figure Calistria’d poke ‘em out for pullin’ that kind o’ stunt), and she admitted that she hadn’t been around for all that nonsense, but there were a few elves in the temple who were old enough, ’n’ she’d ask around for me. So I waited in the waitin’ room, gettin’ some sidelong glances from the other halflings who were probably wonderin’ when their turn was (considerin’ your friend’s performance, I think it’s safe to say, “Never!”, and that’s why I don’t do halflings!), but eventually the priestess came back and told me I could see “Greenbrow”, a male elf, which kind o’ surprised me ‘cause I was kind o’ ‘specting to get information secondhand, as it were, and I didn’t know miners to swing that way, at least publicly. But whatever, I went in to see Greenbrow and he was a handsome enough sort, so I figured if I’d been a miner with those tendencies I’d’ve jumped him on the spot, so no harm there. ‘Cept Greenbrow started talkin’ and it turned out he was a guide. I keep forgettin’ that elves’re good for other things, but when the only time you see ‘em is in your dreams o’ Calistria, you start gettin’ biased, y’know?

Anyhoo, turns out he was a fantastic resource, ‘cause he’d been up’n’down that path dozens o’ times, and he was still pretty young for an elf so he could remember it all real clearly, and since I’m all charmin’ he was willin’ to talk me all the way through it all. So, there were five or six serious gorges on the way from Logas to Finder’s Gulch, and all of ‘em used to have bridges on ‘em that Logas had paid to have built, but having been on ‘em, Greenbrow didn’t think they’d still be around, so we’d have to have some way to cross the gorges — either flyin’ or bein’ real good climbers. He recommended flyin’. Once we were past the gorges, there weren’t just redcaps, but other creatures as well; there were rocs flyin’ round in the high mountaintops who had a solid taste for horse meat, and if they happened to take the rider too that didn’t bother them at all. There were all kinds o’ other nasty critters, but they were all the kinds you usually see in the mountains, so the ones we really needed to prepare for were the redcaps and the rocs.

Once we got there, we had to be ready for Finder’s Gulch, ‘cause it wasn’t a normal village. It was built all secure-like, so most of it was underground, and nobody who wasn’t mining or involved with mining was allowed down there, so Greenbrow’d never seen it. On the surface was a simple wooden village with stores ’n’ inns ’n’ the like for travelers coming to and from the place, but the live-in people were mostly underground. The above-ground part was well-defended, too, with ballistas and a couple o’ towers (one for each entrance) and otherwise set up to hold off an army. Too bad it couldn’t keep out one cleric o’ Urgathoa. Probably wouldn’t keep us out, either, but good stuff to know! But the whole thing was built into a ravine, so one more time flyin’ was probably the best way to go, ‘cept for the rocs that’d try to eat you out o’ the sky if you weren’t flyin’ carefully.

So once he was done, I figured since we were in the temple ’n’ all I should offer him thanks in kind, and imagine my surprise when he took me up on it! And oh. My. Goodness. The halfling might’ve been the worst I’d ever had. Greenbrow was better’n any dream I’d ever had! I had the momentary thought that maybe he was just doin’ his obeisance, and choosin’, “Please the other one,” ‘stead of, “Pain beyond imaginin’,” but at that moment he did somethin’ and I just plain didn’t care any more.
Once I could stand up again (and believe you me it took a while), I knew why Calistria was always surrounded by elves, and I had to admit I was pretty jealous. I decided I liked elves. I really, really liked elves. Greenbrow deserved another visit. Or twelve.

Anyhoo, the acolyte at the front was kind enough to remind me I was starkers before I went out on the street (and the stupid halflings acted like they’d never seen a naked gnome before, and unless they’ve never been near gnomes, they must’ve), so I did myself up as a noble again and started lookin’ for the rest o’ the group.
You’d think askin’ ‘bout a dwarf, an albino, and a hunchback’d either get people waitin’ for the punchline or sayin’, “Oh, yeah, I saw that group!”, but it took a surprisin’ amount o’ time to track ‘em down in front o’ the mayor’s office. They were waitin’ to see him, ’n’ Llew told me she’d heard ‘bout the same thing from her temple, ‘cept they said 4-5 gulches (I figured it had to be 5), Finder’s Gulch’d produced around 10,000 gold pieces a day in diamond dust plus a few fine diamonds, and the Mother o’ Wights’d turned the entire thing into a “wight’s hoard”, where if you accepted payment in diamonds you’d be cursed until you returned the diamonds to the hoard in Finder’s Gulch. The rest o’ the party was all worried ‘bout the diamonds Heddy gave us, but I was sure they were fine, ‘cause Heddy’s an upright sort. But I’m bettin’ the Mother o’ Wights paid the Jeggares in those kinds o’ diamonds. But Llew said we shouldn’t accept diamonds as payment any more ’til this mess was all cleaned up, and I figured it wasn’t too likely someone else was goin’ to offer us diamonds so I agreed.

They’d also gone ’n’ seen the rest o’ the families ‘bout gettin’ permission to get into the Guild o’ Magicians, which I figured was a waste o’ time ‘cause I had permission to break in anywhere I wanted to, but they just shushed me and kept tellin’ me more news. They’d visited old Calum Jeggare and he’d given them some 80-year-old book tellin’ how his grandparents’d helped finance the golems and there were two kinds: Iron golems and some custom-crafted golems called “stalkers” that were shaped like big wolves. I didn’t like the sound o’ that already, ‘cause I don’t like wolves. The good news was that there were only 2 of ‘em. The bad news was that they were made of adamantine and there was one guardin’ each path, so we’d have to figure out a way past ‘em.

We finally got into Mayor Muskgrove’s office, and imagine my surprise when he pointed me at Father Ferrington’s chair! They DO care! All the traps were set ’n’ such, ’n’ there were a few minor modifications, but I set to twiddlin’ ’n’ testin’ ’n’ tunin’ ’n’ makin’ sure none o’ the other builders’d messed anythin’ up, but other than a lot o’ gnomish obscenities and one clever wit who just tried to put a splinter in my butt, there wasn’t much harm done. The rest o’ the group was talkin’ some nonsense ‘bout how they’d got permission from the rest o’ the families to go into the Guild, ’n’ they needed his permission, but I was more interested in how Forth’d reacted to meetin’ Blackburn. Guess I’d never know. Anyhoo, he gave us permission to go to the guild, but he was kind o’ disappointed that I didn’t do anythin’ to the chair. I figured it didn’t do anythin’ to me, so fair’s fair, but he said that every other gnome had added somethin’ to it. I was ‘bout to go off on how if he was goin’ around predictin’ gnome behavior then obviously there was somethin’ wrong with those other gnomes, but Llew put some gum on the chair and Muskgrove was happy, so we got to leave without any incidents. It was late enough in the afternoon that everyone wanted to go first thing in the mornin’ so they’d have plenty of time. That idea did not bother me at all. After assurin’ the party I’d be OK, I went back to the temple to spend the night. And if you’ve gotta ask why, then you gotta work on your readin’ comprehension. ‘Cept while I was there I also asked the priestess whether I was cursed, ’n’ she said I wasn’t, so I figured I was right; Heddy was a solid guy.

In the mornin’ (and yes, gettin’ out o’ bed was hard), I met back up with the group ’n’ we went to the guild, but the old guildmaster said I wasn’t allowed to touch any books, on account o’ bein’ a gnome, but he had a puzzle he was hopin’ I could solve for him. It sounded fun, ’n’ then he handed me a roll o’ scrolls and an ornate wooden box ’n’ I was lookin’ forward to seein’ what it was. Then I pulled open the first scroll ’n’ it was carefully-scribed animal outlines, like you give to kids to color in. The box was full o’ colored wax crayons. So I started writin’ some obscenities in Sylvan, but I saw that some other gnomes’d beaten me to it. I figure I got my “Llew karma” for the day by not stabbin’ him then ’n’ there, but Llew said I should go shoppin’ with Forth, but not spend any diamond dust. I told her I’d already spent all o’ mine and the priestess said I wasn’t cursed, so she got happier and gave me a shoppin’ list ’n’ some stuff she needed, too.

Shoppin’ with Forth was all kinds o’ fun. ‘Cause I had Llew’s money so I kept talkin’ ‘bout buyin’ silly stuff with it, like some string or a little pull horse or maybe some hot pepper taffy, ’n’ Forth kept patiently lecturin’ me that I shouldn’t misspend other people’s money so I’d back down. It was a fun game, ‘cause Forth’s all serious ’n’ he tries to be patient with me, but sometimes I think I see his beard twitch a little. But in the end I spent Llew’s money right ’n’ proper on the ointment she’d asked for, ’n’ I even made sure to ask around to make sure the vendor was well-regarded, and that seemed to cheer Forth up a bit. ‘Cause I like to think I brighten his day every day by lettin’ him reform me a little. ‘Course, then I call back to my old habits, but then who would he have to reform?
Trouble was, I also happened to mention sneakin’ into the Guild’s library ’n’ markin’ it up with chalk ’n’ such so I’d be within my rights o’ indulgence, but Forth didn’t like it ’n’ told me not to, ’n’ I didn’t want to hurt his feelin’s ‘cause I like him, but I still wanted to break into the vault ’n’ vandalize it. I figured I’d do it once Llew ’n’ Alembic were out, ‘cause Llew’s got sharp eyes, ’n’ I can deal with either one of ‘em bein’ mad at me, but havin’ both Llew ’n’ Forth mad at me at once’d be sad.

The news wasn’t good. The golems were all paid for with diamond dust 80 years ago. There were 16 iron golems that cost 150,000 gold pieces apiece to make (why am I writin’ this? Why should I care? Shut up, Trig, Llew’s talkin’ some more and it may be important later), and 2 adamantine golems in the shape o’ wolves that cost 600,000 gold pieces to make. The really important bit was that there were 12 iron golems on the Logas passage, and only 4 on the Eledir passage, makin’ our choice pretty clear. Even better, every family had a password, and we had all five of ‘em, so if we all started yellin’ at once we might be able to get a few o’ the golems to stop tryin’ to kill us.
In terms of fightin’ ‘em, both Alembic ’n’ Llew figured a single iron golem’d be a pretty tough fight for our group. You need adamantine weapons to hurt ‘em (check), but they’re strong fighters, they can breathe a cloud o’ poison gas that out-and-out kills you in under a minute, fire heals ‘em (so no alchemist’s fire), and electricity slows ‘em (‘cept I don’t have any). The best way to fight ‘em is with a rust monster (didn’t see any in the pet shops, and I’m sure I’d’ve noticed) or Rusting Grasp. I could at least ask around ‘bout that.
The adamantine golems’re another kettle of fish. We can’t hurt ‘em, even if we do they’re unkillable without a miracle, wish, or adamantine vorpal weapon, the only spell that hurts ‘em is Transmute Metal to Wood, which I’ve never heard of, ’n’ if they hit you it destroys all your gear. I kind o’ rubbed my Handy Haversack when I heard that one. I have SO many nice things!
Llew told us about ghosts ’n’ wights, ’n’ we knew most of it (ghosts are incorporeal ’n’ they damage you by agin’ you, while wights’re just grunt troops that drain your life force), ‘cept the specialized wights we might fight can channel their drains through weapons, or maybe even arrows, so we need to protect ourselves from arrows to boot!

Now that we knew it was OK to spend the diamond dust that I had already spent, both Llew ’n’ Forth bought new armor for themselves, which made me happy ‘cause I’m tired o’ watchin’ Forth bleed. If Alembic bought somethin’, I didn’t see it, but o’ course I wasn’t payin’ attention. But then he said it was time to teleport us back to Eledir before I got a chance to vandalize the guild! I would’ve argued, but I didn’t think Llew or Forth’d listen to the merits o’ vandalizin’ a library.

Since I had no more money ’n’ everyone else figured they were ready enough to get started, ‘cause Alembic could always teleport us back if we needed more stuff, we got our Phantom Steeds and headed west out of Eledir. ‘Cept I’d almost forgotten but when Llew mentioned questionin’ the brigands I ran and bought a sap. I asked Alembic to make my steed look like an undead unicorn ’n’ he did, so I decided to be nice to him for the day. It only took us a couple o’ hours to get to the first inn, which was s’posed to be a day’s ride out o’ town, but phantom steeds’re pretty fast. Once we got in, I started chattin’ up the clientele, ‘cause it’s what I do, ’n’ we started learnin’ ‘bout the state o’ things. With the undead invasion, all the farms had been abandoned ’n’ then trampled, so even those farmers who’d come back were just tryin’ to make do with whatever’d survived, ’n’ there’d likely be a bit of a food shortage in Eledir this year. The inn was barely open, and just got alcohol a few days ago, and had to pay for a couple o’ burly armed guards just in case o’ stray undead wanderin’ in. I bought the guards a round, ’n’ they proved they were serious by refusin’ ’til they were off-duty. Good crowd!

But the big problem, and the thing that was going to plague Eledir even worse if nothin’ was done, was that there weren’t enough workers to tend the farms that were tryin’ to grow stuff. The lands were full o’ brigands who’d survived the undead horde, and who were the stronger for it, and were now just takin’ anythin’ they wanted ‘cause there was no law in the land. I asked the innkeep whether it was lawful in his land to kill brigands, and he said, “Yes,” so I’d heard it from both Jocelyn and the innkeep so I figured I was safe stabbin’ people. Or at least sappin’ ‘em. But with the brigands about, and ‘specially the brigand lords, there were too few workers ’n’ almost no travelers, so the land was dyin’.

It seemed like we needed to take a detour and take us out some brigand lords.

Llew ’n’ Forth said it was probably smarter to keep goin’ ’n’ wait to be ambushed, so I figured that sounded fun ’n’ we rode on. So, I don’t know whether the guy was ‘specting nothin’ but tall people, or he’d never dealt with gnomes before, but up ahead of us about a hundred yards was a guy whose upper body was all well-hidden in a bush, but from my low-down angle I could see the rest of ‘im plain as day. A ways behind him was the rest of his gang, hangin’ out and totally unaware that we were comin’. Talk about a sad lookout! So I pointed him out to Llew, ’n’ she pointed ‘em out to the others, and they all decided they just wanted to walk straight into the ambush ’n’ see what happened. I’m a delicate girl, so I popped off my steed ’n’ into the weeds, and pulled out my brand-new sap ‘cause I figured I was gonna get a chance to try it out.
So the rest o’ the group rode forwards slowly so I could keep up, and the “lookout” started wavin’ a red cloth towards his friends ’n’ they finally started stirrin’, ’n’ Llew told ‘im that he’d better start wavin’ the blue flag or whatever the other color was, ‘cause otherwise there’d be trouble. Unfortunately, Llew’s kind o’ scary, even when she’s tryin’ to be nice, so he up ’n’ skedaddled on us, screamin’ his head off.

We moved on towards the rest of ‘em, and we heard the guy tellin’ ‘em that we were on flyin’ horses, and that wasn’t normal, and apparently Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic’d just walked right over some pits without even noticin’, and I was in the weeds so I hadn’t seen ‘em either, but Llew demanded to see their leader ’n’ after a bit more hemmin’ ’n’ hawin’ they sent out a guy. Forth asked me to call out my name again, and I don’t know why he does that, but after he called, “What’s your name?” I called back, “Trig!” and all the guys got scared ‘cause none of ‘em had seen me. I was thinkin’ less and less o’ these brigands. Forth rolled his eyes like he does when we play this game, and then he asked the leader what his name was and he called himself Banewielder, which was a mighty big name for a brigand who was too scared to admit he was their leader.

So they didn’t want to do anythin’ but talk, so I put my sap away and I was kind o’ sad I didn’t get to use it, but they were bein’ polite ’n’ I said so, and that cheered ‘em up so they started talkin’ more, ’n’ pretty soon we figured out these were the very farmers ’n’ laborers we were lookin’ for, ‘cept they were payin’ tithes to a pair o’ bandit lords, one to the north and one to the south, and they had to be bandits ‘cause otherwise they’d get killed. But Llew pointed out that it was pretty silly that they were stealin’ their own silverware to pay the tithes, and they had to agree.

We asked ‘em ‘bout the road, and all they really knew was that it was too dangerous to go up, but there was a miner named either “Old Filbert” or “Philip Dren” or somethin’ like that, who had a cabin about a day’s ride past here, and if we could find him he’d probably know more ‘bout the roads than anyone. The farmers-turned-brigands just knew that there were lots o’ rocs in the mountains, so we had to be careful.

We all agreed that the first thing we needed to do was get rid o’ the bandit lords so these gents could get back to farmin’ and laborin’ ’n’ such. Llew checked for the tithe-takers both north ’n’ south, ’n’ she could see the tracks o’ both set o’ bandits clear as day, so once we learned that the last tithe-takers came from the north, so we headed south to head ‘em off at the pass, so to speak.

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Session 33, Played 06-Jan-2019

So, with nothin’ better to do than keep headin’ up and killin’ evil, I went over and checked the door that led to the stairs up. At least, I figured it was gonna lead to the stairs up. Now if a gnome had designed this place, the door’d lead to a slide that whirled you ‘round and ‘round and down the whole tower, passin’ through honey ’n’ candy the whole time, ’til it dumped your sticky sweet butt into a pit full o’ hungry spiders. ‘Cause spiders’re scarier ’n’ ants, ’n’ poison, ’n’ it would make less sense, so… gnome.

Anyhoo, it wasn’t a gnome. The door wasn’t trapped, wasn’t locked, and led to stairs goin’ up. Demons may claim they’re chaotic, but I was beginnin’ to think we gnomes had ‘em beat down pat. And that made me kind o’ proud. No; really proud! So Forth led the way up, ’n’ Llew followed him so she could see stuff at the same time he could, ’n’ they put me third so I couldn’t see anythin’, ’n’ Alembic was behind me ’n’ could still see over me, slouch ’n’ all (though he still had the staff, so the slouch was noticeably improved).
Forth got to the top o’ the stairs and peeked up into the next floor, and hissed down to us that there were four guys up there starin’ at a birdbath, ’n’ the bath had little pedestals ‘round it with ropes on ‘em, ’cept once Forth started hissin’ I s’pose they were probably starin’ at him instead o’ the birdbath, like some kind o’ great bearded kettle that was on a too-hot stove just waitin’ to burn some unsuspectin’ little kid who wanted nothin’ more than a bit o’ tea with his cookies. Bad Forth!

Anyhoo, with Forth hissin’ ’n’ all, he ’n’ Llew ’n’ the guys started talkin’, ‘cept it got a little confusin’ ‘cause apparently there was a big giant demon in there too that Forth hadn’t mentioned so Llew had to, but these were more rope-pullin’ guys. The demon told ‘em to tell us the “rules”. They were s’posed to pull the ropes when the demon told ‘em to or they saw somethin’ or some such (I’ve seen plots o’ Asmodean clerics less convoluted than whatever the heck this “plan” was), and those ropes’d tell the guys downstairs which ropes to pull, and those ropes’d push the spears that killed the girls… wait a minute!
So the rule was, “IF you feed a girl, she gets killed, and IF you open a door without rapin’ a girl, she gets killed,” but I hadn’t done either o’ those things! So I called up ’n’ asked which guy’d pulled the rope that killed my girl, ‘cause he’d gone early and if they were goin’ to go to all that trouble to set up some kind o’ convoluted rules thing that hurt my brain to think about, then they could at least follow ‘em, or I’d just have to start stabbin’ all of ‘em ‘cause they weren’t makin’ any sense. And they couldn’t even get who went early straight, ‘cause ‘parently “Terence” told “Bobby” to pull the rope that killed the girl, but neither one of ‘em wanted to admit which of ‘em had gone early. So Alembic and I came up to get a good look at all of ‘em, and the demon let us up and I figured he was just about as confused ‘bout the rules as all the rest of us, and he was probably pretty happy I was there to clear things up.

I told Terence and Bobby that my rules were simple: I’d take the girl back to town, pay to get her raised, and if she was OK with it they were off the hook. But if she didn’t want to come back ‘cause of all the bad memories ’n’ such, I’d hunt ‘em to the ends of Golarion and make ‘em suffer before they died. They didn’t say anything, so I figured they were OK with it. The demon offered to raise the girl for me, but I said, “No,” ‘cause I already had a devil followin’ me around forever watchin’ my every move, ’n’ that was creepy enough, so the last thing I needed was some twenty-foot demon tryin’ to cohabitate with some four-foot devil under my bed, and I didn’t want to see the droppings NOR the babies. Ugh!

Llew told me she was proud o’ me, ‘cause I was learnin’. I think it’s more I didn’t need any more outsiders followin’ me, but I didn’t tell her that. I kept ‘specting the demon to attack us, or Forth to attack the demon, but the demon was happier to just chat with us, and I was kind o’ ‘specting him to put on a little apron and serve us tea ’n’ biscuits ‘r somethin’. Turned out he was happy ‘cause everyone who wanted to move on had to wish it, and he was the wish granter, so he had all kinds o’ beds to hide under when this was all over. Forth tried to push things a bit by askin’ the guys to help us (nope!), then he started smashin’ up the fountain thingy, cuttin’ the ropes, ’n’ otherwise causin’ trouble, but the demon didn’t do anythin’ to stop us, ‘cause it wasn’t against any rules HE had to enforce. Honestly, he seemed pretty pissed ‘bout his whole job, and I could understand bein’ a slouch. I hate to think o’ some o’ the things the Asmodean clerics unknowingly ate after I’d “cleaned” their dishes, ‘cause I was good at slouchin’ that way.
The guys figured the jig was up and there was going to be violence, so they wished themselves outside o’ the tower, so the demon teleported ‘em right outside… 80’ up and in the pocket dimension. Note to self: Don’t wish for anythin’ from demons!

Llew didn’t particularly feel like makin’ a wish, nor acceptin’ that there wasn’t another way, so she suggested that we just go ahead and cut a hole in the wall right next to the door the demon was supposed to wish us through. The demon smiled and thought that was a fine idea, so Llew ’n’ Forth set about doin’ it. As the pieces started fallin’ I noticed that there was a latch on one of ‘em that indicated Llew ’n’ Forth were hackin’ up a secret door that was there all along, but I didn’t have the heart to tell ‘em. Once they’d cut through, we saw a corridor full o’ lightnin’, which was good, ‘cause that’s what the door told us’d be there, but it made me think the demons were even more lawful than they were lettin’ on, so Alembic protected us all from lightnin’ (he’s a handy man, Alembic is) and we started up. I was a little hesitant; wasn’t Forth s’posed to kill demons? Wasn’t the demon s’posed to kill us? All this paladin/demon chumminess was startin’ to worry me ‘bout Forth’s mental state o’ health. But Llew said her beef was with undead, not demons, and Forth said that killin’ a demon that was trapped in its own pocket dimension and that wasn’t doin’ us any harm would be a waste o’ resources, when we had the big boss to take on later on. I figure with that kind o’ reasonin’ you can pretty much talk yourself out o’ killin’ anyone, but if Llew ’n’ Forth didn’t think the demon was a problem, I wasn’t goin’ to pick a fight with him. HE hadn’t pulled the rope early!

The lightnin’ corridor was all kinds o’ fun, ‘cause even though we were protected it made all our hairs stand up, so mine was even standier than usual, ’n’ Forth’s beard looked big enough to scrub both walls o’ the corridor at once. I had some fun makin’ the sparks dance ‘cross my fingers and between my fingers ’n’ my nose ’n’ such, and probably started gigglin’ a bit, but we were still in an Evil Tower so I got a look from Llew ’n’ Forth that said, “Shut up and pay attention,” so I did. Sort o’. Though I did try to light one o’ my farts on fire. Didn’t work.

The next floor showed that even the builders were gettin’ lazy, ‘cause there wasn’t even a door any more, just an archway that read, “The Finish Line”. The room was lit by torches, ’n’ had weapons ’n’ armor hangin’ on the walls, dust on the floor, and an altar to a bunch o’ gods in the center. Llew said all the ones she could see were evil. Around the altar were two beat-up lookin’ guys who looked like they’d made it through the entire gauntlet, but hadn’t quite figured out how to go on from here, and one robed guy who looked for all intents and purposes like an Asmodean cleric. I figured I’d try to test him in a few ways, but Llew was tired o’ all the games so she just out-and-out asked him how we were s’posed to get past the room, and he said we had to embrace evil. So she went on over and hugged him, and that worked.

I love me some Asmodeans.

I sauntered over, gave him my winningest grin, and told him I loved Asmodeans ‘cause they were so predictable, and started tellin’ him ‘bout the orphanage and Jocelyn and he knew Jocelyn and he was a cleric too and we got on just fine and I gave him a bit heartfelt hug ‘cause Asmodeans need ‘em. And I was free to go!

So Forth ’n’ Alembic, they aren’t the huggin’ types. So o’course we had to spend a bunch o’ time chit-chattin’ with the cleric, ‘cause Forth ’n’ Alembic had to work up enough manliness to hug another man, which is kind o’ sad. And no, I couldn’t hug the cleric again in their place, it had to be them!
The two guys were pretty mad ‘bout the whole “hug” thing, but I figure they just weren’t huggers either ‘cause the clue was pretty obvious, but one of ‘em hugged the cleric (the cleric didn’t like huggin’ him as much as us, but I’m bettin’ me ’n’ Llew were cuter ’n’ smelled better) ’n’ started headin’ up, and we told him to hold on a minute ‘cause we still wanted to talk. Or at least wanted to give Forth a little more time to build up the courage to hug another man. The other guy just rejected huggin’ entirely and tried to leave anyway, and keeled over dead on the spot.

Not my fault! I’m not paying for it!

Nobody else wanted to pay for it, either, so I didn’t bother castin’ Gentle Repose on ‘im. He’d reaped what he’d sewed, which never made any sense to me anyway. If you sewed it, shouldn’t you “scissor” it? Or hem it? Or somethin’. I’m no seamstress, but I know no one’s ever “reaped” one o’ my skirts! I’d’ve known!
So we spent a while talkin’. The Asmodean, whose name I never got so now he’s George, so George had been forced to come in, but, bein’ an Asmodean and knowin’ that demons aren’t that bright, tried to negotiate his way through. So he got assigned to this floor to cast some kind of “toning” spell on people to make ‘em evil and in tune with one o’ the gods on the altar. Forth said it was Atonement, just like for paladins, but I’ve never heard o’ paladins usin’ spells to make themselves worship evil gods, so I think he was wrong. ‘Cept the cleric said he wasn’t, and I could have a scroll of it as a free prize for my hug, ‘cause my hug was so nice (I’m sure), so I took one, ‘cause I knew Jocelyn had loaned me a scroll o’ Control Water and we could’ve used it about a half-dozen times since then and I always regretted givin’ it back.

Anyhoo, he said some more stuff ‘bout how the demon upstairs was a manatee, but he mispronounced it somethin’ awful, like, “Nalfeshnee” (gesundheit), and he couldn’t be free ’til the nalfeshnee (I’m gonna call him Mel) either gave him permission to go or got killed, and Jocelyn wasn’t very bright and made lots of enemies (aw, she’s just like me!). Forth ’n’ Alembic’d finally worked up enough courage to hug him, and he didn’t like it, and they didn’t like it, and it was all silly and awkward and pretty much the funniest part was that he didn’t like huggin’ Alembic even more than he didn’t like huggin’ Forth. I considered gluin’ him ’n’ Alembic together, but their hug didn’t last long enough for me to get in there. As consolation prizes for bein’ such bad huggers he offered ‘em scrolls of Atonement, too, and ‘cause he wasn’t a jerk and he realized that Llew really was a pretty good hugger after all he gave her one. Forth didn’t want one, ‘cause Forth had post-traumatic hug syndrome or somethin’.

The huggy guy (not the dead one) was perfectly willin’ to let us go upstairs first to see what was about, so we all buffed up and then went up. As usual, I was behind Forth ’n’ Llew, so I couldn’t see much o’ anythin’ when Forth said there was a cage in front of him. I couldn’t see any of it, but from what I saw later I can say that there was a cage in front o’ the door so people comin’ in could be ogled by the people in the room without any touching, then there was a big trap door in the middle o’ the floor (the disposal chute we’d been avoidin’ all this time), then a throne with the sneezy demon in it across the way, plus two guys in smaller chairs on either side of the demon; a guy in armor and a weaselly-lookin’ guy.

Bein’ mushy-brained, I didn’t particularly want to see the demon ’til I had to, so I was stayin’ in the hallway, but apparently armored guy was “might” and weaselly-lookin’ guy was “treachery”, and they were wonderin’ whether we were gonna replace ‘em and it was some kind o’ formal challenge ’n’ all that nonsense that evil guys seem to really like ‘cause it makes good guys’ brains hurt or somethin’. But whatever nonsense they were talkin’ ‘bout Might decided he was gonna take us on, so he started walkin’ round the room ramblin’ ‘bout this ’n’ that ’n’ the other thing and doin’ some kind o’ ritual, and I figured we oughta shoot him or somethin’ but Llew ’n’ Forth were just watchin’ him and I was stayin’ hidden so he got to drag his sword around and mutter and such, and I’m sure it made him feel better ‘bout about to be gettin’ beat ’n’ such, then he opened the cage so Forth ’n’ Llew could get at ‘im. But they just stood there ’n’ let him finish his ritual, but he wasn’t done yet ‘cause Alembic ’n’ I hadn’t come out yet, and he told us he could sense us ’n’ ordered us to come out, so Alembic did ‘cause Alembic’s compliant that way, but I didn’t feel like comin’ out and I figured it we were gonna fight anyway it didn’t much matter how mad I made him first, and he didn’t have any hostages to kill so I was feelin’ pretty safe.

The demon asked how many people were goin’ to die, and Might said that 2 people were goin’ to die, which meant he couldn’t count all that well, but then he surprised pretty much everyone in the room by turnin’ around and attackin’ squirrelly guy! Squirrels. Weasels. They’re all nasty sly little animals that’ll bite you as soon as look at you the moment you start tryin’ to steal their food or squeeze ‘em to make ‘em squeak or stuff ‘em down someone else’s pants. OK. I’m lyin’. Squirrels and weasels are all kinds o’ fun. I love ‘em. So it’s really not fair that they’re used to describe treacherous guys. You know who’s treacherous? Well, no, neither do I. I kind o’ get along with animals, now that I think about it. And I even get along with Asmodeans and they’re not particularly lie-y. But Treachery’s just too long of a name so from now on I’m calling him “Gil”, the gill-y guy. Ah! Fish! He’s fishy!

Anyhoo, Might hit Fishy Guy (I like it!) ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth raced in to help him ’n’ Alembic started castin’ to help out and I… got into the room and used Shieldy! Stupid short little legs! Forth ’n’ Might got bloodied up pretty bad, but Forth ’n’ Llew were bloodyin’ up the demon ’n’ Might was bloodyin’ up Fish Guy (yeah, lots of blood), then Alembic went ahead and Disintegrated Fish Guy, which was really kind o’ funny ‘cause he was s’posed to be all dodgy but instead he was all dusty, but then the demon did somethin’ and the world got all queasy ’n’ nasty ’n’ spinny…
…’n’ I woke up and we’d won! Good job, us!

So Might took off his helmet ’n’ smiled at us like we were s’posed to remember him, ’n’ he looked awful familiar, then he told me I should’ve gone on that date with him and I recognized him: The pervy paladin from Gillamoor! Barrett! Human tryin’ to get into gnome pants! Yeah, I knew him! In addition to survivin’, he’d been givin’ the demon tactical advice; in particular, how to space out the attacks just right so we’d be able to get to ‘em all in time ’n’ save the city. Nice job, Barrett! No, that still doesn’t mean I’ll date you!

So, while we picked up and searched ‘round for loot he started tellin’ his tale, ‘bout how he’d been captured with the rest of ‘em, but worked his way up just to kill this demon, but he was waitin’ for us to show up ‘cause he knew we would. (OK. I’ll admit, he’s cute when he has faith in us. But he’s human. And Lawful! Blecch!) Considerin’ what people’d had to do to get here, when the sneezy demon told him to challenge ‘em and they didn’t try to kill the demon he could kill ‘em, and he put all their gear in a big pile in one corner and salvaged the best for himself. The pile-o-dust-that-was-Fish-Man had a bandolier o’ daggers, but too big to be of use to me and too small to be of use to anyone else. I sorted through the pile o’ stuff Barrett’d made and got everything that I considered valuable, while Llew found some kind o’ secret compartment in the throne that had some nice scrolls, though I don’t know what good a “limited” wish is. Isn’t that kind o’ like a “somewhat” promise. “Oh, I promise I’ll do that. Unless I don’t.” But Alembic seemed to like it, so I let ‘im keep it. There were a couple o’ books on improvin’ yourself, includin’ one on makin’ yourself faster, and I asked pretty pretty please if I could have it and after a bit of back-n-forth they let me.

We went back down to the cleric and I asked his name and it was Alistair Blackburn, just like the guy in Logas, ’n’ maybe Asmodeans were just all so cranky ‘cause they were all inbred. I wanted to set him free ‘cause it’d’ve been funny, but Llew beat me to the punch ‘cause she’s all straightforward ’n’ such.

Once we had him, and we’d checked and he had the demon-banishin’ spell all ready (surprise surprise. Plannin’ somethin’, Asmodean? I’d’ve been disappointed in him if he hadn’t had it ready, ‘cause even I’d thought of it, and I’m just raised Asmodean, not born that way). So I went down and, even though I didn’t know whether or not it’d work, I turned on the big eyes on the big demon down there and asked him to please, pretty please let himself be banished back home so we wouldn’t have to deal with him any more. And it worked!!! Who knew? Alistair banished him back home all good ’n’ proper, ’n’ we were able to save the girls, ’n’ I gave ‘em some o’ my food (the bags that I was pretty sure were safe), which wasn’t much, but I was feelin’ bad for ‘em and I was happy with ‘em ‘cause they’d been watchin’ my dead girl so well.

We went on down ’n’ out o’ the tower, then Alembic told us all we had to do was break the archway ’n’ the tower’d be trapped in its own pocket dimension forever, so we did. Well, Llew ’n’ Forth did. I just rooted ‘em on. Outside the tower were around 90 people just waitin’ for us to come out ’n’ rescue ‘em! Even the guy I’d stabbed was there! He was still mad. Which just goes to show some people are just born angry.

So, I’d like to say the trip back to town was easy, but it wasn’t. I was worried ‘bout my girls ‘round all those evil guys, so I had to watch ‘em all like a mother hen, ‘cept when I was practicin’ all the weird balancy-mumbledypeg things in the book, or climbin’ trees to get down stuff Llew or Forth said were edible, or goin’ into brambles to get stuff Llew or Forth said were edible, or gettin’ generally convinced that Llew ’n’ Forth’s idea of “edible” was, “Anything we can send Trig somewhere nasty to have to go ’n’ get.”
But we kept the people fed ’n’ watered, though it wasn’t easy, ’n’ Alistair didn’t want to feed ‘em for free ’n’ such, ’n’ I trained, ’n’ we moved, ’n’ I occasionally slept, but at the end o’ the week we got to town with me feelin’ more tired than when we’d started the trip.

While I was watchin’ my girls ’n’ trainin’ ’n’ fetchin’ food, Alembic was studyin’ the other scrolls. Turned out the Mother of Wights had summoned and bound the itchy demon herself, just to cause trouble in Eledir. There were more details of the Jeggare’s failed plot to take back control of Isger, includin’ plans to corrupt the clergy ’n’ a list o’ names o’ people who’d made deals with the itchy demon or the succubi (who the itchy demon had brought in), ’n’ the list matched the one we already had, which was nice, ‘cause neither Jocelyn nor King Heddy were on it. The one new thing we learned was that the Mother of Wights had left a nice undead army sittin’ between Eledir and the Hellknights’ castle so if they tried to help they’d end up wiped out. Joke’s on them. ‘Cept we have to tell ‘em even if we don’t like ‘em. ‘Cause we’re good that way.

Once we hit town, we told ‘em they had to first help out the refugees, then they could start celebratin’. We had to run a few quick errands, like I had to sell some stuff to get enough cash together to go get my girl raised, and then I had to do some hagglin’ to get the clerics of Pharasma to do it at cost. Guess I didn’t have the pull that Llew did. ‘Cept I have the Big Eyes, ’n’ I used ‘em ruthlessly, ’n’ the girl came back, which was good, ‘cause I didn’t have to track down Terrence and Bobby, but bad, ‘cause I was kind o’ low on cash. Unfortunately, turns out that when you raise a commoner you can’t fix the negative damage like you can for most people, so she’d always be a bit weaker and sicklier than she’d been before, but bein’ alive probably made up for that quite a bit, at least in her mind, and in mine. I got her name, just in case I ever needed it: Jeannie Simmons.

Once I had that taken care of, it was time to tell King Heddy what we’d done. So I got everyone together and told ‘em we had to go back to King Heddy and give him back his scepter (or staff, or specter, or whatever) and tell him what was goin’ on, and Forth ’n’ Llew didn’t think it was all that important, ’n’ Alembic didn’t seem to want to go at all, but I kind o’ wanted to see what Heddy was up to ‘cause he’s the best king I’ve ever met (OK, he’s the only king I’ve ever met, and I like him. Maybe I just like kings!). So we walked right in the main entrance to the castle and there was this big ol’ line o’ people waitin’ to see Heddy, ’n’ I could kind o’ see that, him bein’ a great guy ’n’ all, but heck if I’d wait in line to see him. So I told the guard we were here and we wanted to see Heddy, and he asked whether we had an appointment and I said, “Of course not!” and he told us we’d have to wait in line, so I told him we didn’t do lines and he said then I should try again tomorrow.

So, he got my dander up, so I pulled out a bit o’ my hair and wrote a little note that said, “We’re here,” and I asked the guard if he would kindly give it to the king. So he did, and got beat up a bit for his trouble, which I kind o’ felt a teensy bit bad about, ‘cept he’d tried to make me wait in line, so he kind o’ deserved it. But he came on back and brought us to see King Heddy, which was all I’d wanted in the first place. The king told a bunch o’ people to do some random stuff, so I handed a guy my juggling balls and told ‘im they were very important, ‘cause it seemed like somethin’ Heddy’d do, and then we followed Heddy into his chambers. Complete with chamber pot, ‘cause I checked. ‘Cause those things can be scary.

We told Heddy what we’d done, and about the tower ’n’ the refugees ’n’ such, ’n’ how we figured we’d saved the town and now we were after the Mother o’ Wights, and Llew even remembered to tell him to warn the Hellknights ‘bout the ambush, which was good ‘cause I’d probably have forgotten, and then felt bad about it. At least a little bad. Hellknights’re people, too… I think.
So Alembic had to give the staff back, and it made Heddy all happy but Alembic put on a big sour face while he was doin’ it so I think the staff just makes people happy. Maybe I’ll have to buy one. I heard there’s a Rod o’ Wonder made ‘specially for gnomes. I’ll have to look for one!

But the best part o’ the whole meetin’ was the cookies! There were sour ones, ’n’ hot ones, ’n’ ones that tasted so bad they made you want to throw up, ’n’ even some with little rocks in ‘em. And somewhere in there was one good cookie! So just to be fair to make sure Heddy didn’t know I mixed ‘em all up so we both had to take our chances. Everyone else ate from the bottom tray with “normal” cookies. Bleah.
At the end of it all, Heddy declared that he figured he’d made us do somethin’ right, so he was goin’ to take credit for the whole affair, and I figured that was only right ’n’ proper, him bein’ king and all, and no one else objected so I figured it was OK. Since we were goin’ to have to be fightin’ the Mother, Heddy figured he’d better fund us, so he gave us a big ol’ chest full o’ diamond dust. He claimed he’d made it himself, but I was skeptical. But it was around 60,000 gp worth o’ loot, and it wasn’t even trapped, so I wasn’t arguin’.

On our way out, I told Heddy ‘bout the guy with the jugglin’ balls ’n’ Heddy ordered him to learn to juggle in a week or he’d be put to death. I didn’t think it was very funny, ‘cause death isn’t fun at all and it’s pretty expensive, so I hoped Heddy was kiddin’.

Anyhoo, we divvied up all our loot, then went our separate ways to go shopping. I replenished all my gnome food, ‘cept this time I had to ask for the “old gnome” food that didn’t ‘splode in case I had to feed some more humans; one o’ the girls took a jellyfish to the face on the trail home and she wasn’t happy ‘bout it at all, so I figure I gotta be a little more careful. Then Alembic came moochin’ for some money to buy a wand o’ Fly, and I wanted to know why he needed a wand if he could cast it on his own, but everyone else was chippin’ in so I did too, bein’ a good teammate ’n’ all. I finally got my own personal godforsaken scroll o’ Control Water (bought it off Jocelyn, just to show her I was lawful ’n’ all. And it made me giggle.), and while I was there I figured it wouldn’t hurt to pick up some Freedom of Movement as well. Then I replenished all of my alchemicals, ’n’ that’s always an expensive trip but the halfling guy who runs the place is downright pleasant; always has cakes ’n’ sweets ’n’ a kind word for me, and flirts me up somethin’ awful, though I’ve seen a couple o’ bruises on his face that say his wife don’t like it so much. Doesn’t matter. He’s a halfling. I’d break him. He knows it. I know it. She knows it. So it’s all in good fun.

I couldn’t afford any o’ the “important” big-ticket items like better armor or a better belt, so instead I looked for “interestin’” big-ticket items. I found a couple I figured’d be useful in the long run, picked ‘em up, put ‘em in my haversack, ’n’ got ready to go Mother huntin’.

Now where did I leave Yellow, anyway?

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Session 32, Played 09-Dec-2018
I’m gonna come right out and say it: I was proud. The group just couldn’t resist the door labeled “Acid”, ‘cause it was kind of a challenge lookin’ us right in the face. ‘Cept before we could go in we kind o’ noticed all the people whinin’ ’n’ moanin’ ‘round us ’n’ askin’ to be let go. ‘Cause it turns out they were kind o’ scared o’ the demons ’n’ didn’t make a lot o’ noise while they were alive, but once we finished ‘em off and they were sure they were dead they all asked us to let ‘em go.

So, I hate shackles more ’n’ just ‘bout anythin’, but I also know that in places like this sometimes you gotta leave ‘em on, so I waited for Forth ’n’ Llew to do their usual checks, and I got the usual answers: Some of the prisoners were evil, some of ‘em were neutral, and a scant few of ‘em were good. But none of ‘em were undead or demons so I went over to get to work but Forth started gettin’ all existential with ‘em and asking ‘em why they were there and whatnot. Now I’m no philosopher, but askin’ someone who’s been chained up, “Why are you here?” isn’t goin’ to get you some deep, meaningful answer; it’s going to get you, “‘Cause some so-and-so chained me here, you idiot!”
And that’s kind o’ what he got.

But he seemed happy with the answers, ‘cause it was the usual for this place: The demons’d knock people comin’ up the stairs out ’n’ chain ‘em to the wall, and once they were done bein’ chained to the wall they could challenge a demon to fight and if they defeated one they got to go on. ‘Parently these demons weren’t nearly as tough as they seemed to us, ‘cause a lot of people got past ‘em. Some guy whispered somethin’ to Forth, and I wouldn’t’ve even noticed ‘cept Forth told us: Some guy killed a demon ’n’ went up, but before he did he predicted that Forth was comin’.
But I was bettin’ he just predicted, "Some surly dwarf with a beard is goin’ to come,” ‘cause that’s a sure bet no matter how far in the wilderness you try to hide, so I figured it was just some guy tryin’ to be impressive ’n’ mysterious ’n’ such, but he had beaten a demon one-on-one, and I couldn’t’ve done that, and he’d moved on, so why was he goin’ ‘round sayin’ things ‘bout Forth behind his back?

The demons in here’d been pretty lazy; all the prisoners were just done up with simple manacles, so once I got the go-ahead it took me no time at all to get ‘em all free. I tried to count ‘em ‘cause I thought it’d be fun, but I got bored less than halfway through so let’s just say it was around 60 people we let go. And I figured all they’d done was got captured and eaten a bit o’ dead person, so they weren’t so bad. One of ‘em was even nice enough to point out a hidden cabinet to me, so I found the silly little poison trap, disabled it, and got us some nice healing potions out o’ the deal. Forth channeled to heal ‘em all and they all headed out.

We had Alembic’s protection from acid up, so we opened the acid door, and the trouble was his spell wasn’t, “Protection from Stink,” so even though the acid wasn’t hurtin’ us (and there was a lot o’ acid), it was stinkin’ up a storm. Didn’t help that we could see various puddles that looked like melted people, ’n’ I kind o’ felt bad for ‘em ‘cause they’d gone ’n’ beat the demons ’n’ such, and then tried to go on up when they were so tired that a bit o’ acid (well, OK, a LOT o’ acid) did ‘em in. Fortunately, the acid wasn’t too deep (‘course, I was walkin’ on the wall to try to stay out o’ the worst of it), so we got to the next landin’ without any trouble. And there was a big ol’ door with two tests on it: There was a little door ‘bout my size with an intricate-lookin’ lock on it, then there was a big bar ‘cross the whole big door that some huge guy might be able to just lift. So I could recognize an invitation when I saw one ’n’ I got to work on the lock. Turned out it was just for show, ‘cause I opened in a heartbeat, but I nearly lost one o’ my picks ‘cause Forth was feelin’ all show-offy ’n’ lifted the whole big stupid door over his head.

We could see into the room, so we could tell there was a big pool blockin’ the entrance, with dissolved bodies floatin’ ‘round in it. Acid-proof or no, I didn’t particularly want to go swimmin’ ‘round in that, so I scurried in along the wall. Llew skittered on in along the other wall, ’n’ Alembic floated on in ‘cause Alembic. Forth, bein’ Forth, just stepped in ’n’ plunged into the pool, ‘cause Forth. It was deep all right; Forth went up to his neck, so it was deeper ’n’ I wanted to be in. I crawled over ’n’ used Spidey on ‘im, ‘cause I figured he didn’t want to be wadin’ all the way ‘cross, ‘specially if it got any deeper. And no sooner had I gotten the spell on him than three skeleton guys with leathery skins (trust me, you had to see ‘em) popped up across the pool from us ’n’ started hurlin’ Dispel Magics at us. How did I know it was Dispel Magic? ‘Cause one of ‘em got me and I dropped right into the pool I didn’t want to be in! Yecch!

Fortunately, I’m not a bad swimmer, so I managed to keep my mouth out o’ the yuck and I got to hear Llew tell us they were “babau” demons, which kind of reminded me o’ sheep, ‘cept they didn’t look anything like sheep, ‘cept maybe sheep after they’d been shorn a bit too much by a drunken ogre farmer, ’n’ “Drunken ogre farmer shorn sheep demon” is a mouthful, which is why I suppose they were just called “babaus”. Made sense now. So as usual, I was s’posed to stab ‘em with cold iron, ‘cept they were summoned so they couldn’t get near us as long as Llew’s Circle was up, but they could sit there ’n’ try to dispel it all day, so we should probably kill ‘em first. So Forth ’n’ I swam over ’n’ climbed out while Llew ’n’ Alembic shot at the babaus. Ok. That’s fun to say. Babau. Babau. Babaubaubaunanoobeboo ba bow wow. Babau.

Anyhoo, everyone started yellin’ warnin’s at me: Forth said there was somethin’ in the water with me, and Alembic said there were prisoners on the walls o’ this floor too (kind o’ busy here, Alembic), so I was waitin’ to see what Llew would warn me ‘bout when something popped out o’ the water and dragged me under. The good news is, the water was clear down below the surface. The bad news is, Mr. Grabby was pretty ornery and I had to work pretty hard to get loose from ‘im. Plus, he was all ooze ’n’ such so I didn’t think I’d be able to hurt him much, and bein’ in the water washed off all my precious, precious grease, so I needed to get away from this guy. By the time I got back to the surface, one of the babaus was down and Llew ’n’ Alembic seemed to be holdin’ their own or better, Forth was bein’ all sweet ’n’ holdin’ his axe down for me to climb, so I went ahead and did it, ‘cause I didn’t want him to feel useless.

Trouble was, Mr. Grabby figured if I was too slippery, he’d just grab someone less slippery so poof! Just like that he popped up, grabbed Forth, and both of ‘em vanished. Like magic! Llew said it was magic, and probably some other choice words for my intelligence I chose to ignore, but she said he was probably down in the pool somewhere with Forth, so I figured we’d wait to see which one of ‘em came up. Llew killed another babau, ‘cause Llew, and the babaus (well the last babau) was beginnin’ to see the hopelessness of his predicament, but he kept right on fightin’, ‘cause summoned.

When Forth didn’t pop up after a few seconds, I grabbed a potion o’ Water Breathin’ and forced it into Llew, figurin’ I couldn’t hurt the blobbo guy, but she sure as heck could. ‘Cept he was feelin’ all chummy towards me and popped up ’n’ grabbed me again. He pulled me under again ’n’ I could see Forth all stuck to the bottom ‘cause Forth (I think all dwarves sink like rocks, honestly. It’s probably the beards). This time as I struggled to get out he turned even gooier ’n’ started oozin’ in my nose ’n’ mouth.

So. Just NOT goin’ anywhere with any comparisons or metaphors or anythin’ there. Just. No. It was DIsgusting. With a capital D, and a capital I, and I don’t know ‘bout the rest ‘cause I’m bored with spellin’. But suddenly I couldn’t breathe ’n’ my lungs were fillin’ up with ooze and I knew if I didn’t get out o’ there I was done for. So I struggled like my life depended on it, ‘cause my life depended on it, and I got loose again and got to the surface ’n’ started hackin’ him out. ‘Cept he was dancin’ all ‘round out o’ Llew’s reach, so I had to go under one last time to give her my potion o’ Slipstream, and once she could keep up with him she ’n’ Forth killed him right quick, lettin’ me vomit out the rest o’ the pieces of him. I thought ‘bout eatin’ my vomit capsule, just to be sure, but I didn’t want to worry Llew or Forth, and who knew when Alembic would ask me for some candy again?

Speakin’ o’ Alembic, once everythin’ was over and we were surfacin’, he jumped into the pool. Guess he didn’t want to be the only one who wasn’t wet or somethin’. So all four of us climbed out ’n’ started doin’ the usual with the prisoners: Askin’ ‘em who they were, how they’d gotten there, ’n’ so forth. Forth was a little less philosophical on this level, but I think he was still tired from goin’ swimmin’, ‘cause water isn’t a natural habitat for dwarves. We freed the prisoners, ’n’ Alembic offered to protect ‘em from the acid on their way down, but all of ‘em ‘cept one said they weren’t afraid of a little acid, so I trusted that one little guy more ’n’ the rest of ‘em, but once we were done talkin’ with them Alembic protected as many as he could anyway and they headed down. Seemed like ‘bout thirty of ‘em this time.
And their story was pretty much the same one we’d heard on the floor below: They’d come up, get drowned, wake up strapped to the wall, and they could go up to fight whenever they felt strong enough. So the next level was the test of fire. They told the same story ‘bout the guy who’d come through ’n’ said Forth was comin’, so if this guy was so all-knowin’ and all butt-kickin’, why wasn’t this tower destroyed yet? Guess I don’t know ‘cause I don’t have a beard and wander around mutterin’ nonsense.

Anyhoo, those as needed to refreshed their spells, we ‘specially made sure Alembic’s protectin’ us from fire was still up, ’n’ we headed upstairs. The next level was kind o’ funny, with a bunch o’ open space, some circles carved in the floor, and a couple o’ guys fightin’ to the death the the middle o’ one o’ those rings. One was a big burly guy, and the other was a little dodgy guy, and there were a bunch o’ guys chained to the wall watchin’ the whole thing. There was a third demon-lookin’ guy watchin’ the two of ‘em and Llew said he was an “incubus”, and I figured that probably didn’t mean you put chicken eggs in his belly and he pooped out little chicks ‘cause that’d be cute and she said he was a demon and demons don’t tend to do cute things like poop out baby chicks, but we really didn’t have much time for conversation ‘cause Forth just walked in and started hittin’ him with his hammer.

At least I didn’t have to worry ‘bout subtlety.

‘Specially when seven more of ‘em showed up ’n’ they all started castin’ somethin’ together and Alembic decided he didn’t like it and blew up the whole room with a giant Fireball. Well, it was the test o’ fire, so you’d think these guys’d be better-prepared for it, but even the ones who were still standin’ were lookin’ pretty darned singed, and a few hammer blows, sword slashes, and a bit o’ dancin’ by yours truly later ’n’ they were all down. ’N’ no baby chicks. So Llew must’ve felt bad ‘bout yellin’ at me for takin’ her kills, ‘cause she tried to let me kill the last one of ‘em, but I’d been busy the whole fight dancin’ ‘round ’n’ makin’ ‘em miss me so they wouldn’t bloody up Llew or Forth (or, I admit it, even Alembic), so I was still dancin’ when I swung ’n’ I missed the guy by a mile. So Llew took ‘im out for me, which was quite kind ‘cause it would’ve been embarrassin’ to miss and then get conked on the head for my troubles.
So these guys’ story (and there were around 15 of ‘em, so I was startin’ to see the pattern, bein’ a clever girl’n all) was that they were welcome to go up any time they wanted to, they just had to pick another guy on the level ’n’ fight ‘im to the death. Kind o’ sick, so I respected the guys on the wall a lot more’n the guys who weren’t on the wall.

Anyhoo, we let ‘em go ’n’ they left, but before that they told us that our “friend”’d been through, challenged one o’ the demons instead o’ one of the humans (clever!), and he’d said somethin’ ‘bout having to go “kill his kid” and gone on upstairs, ‘parently mentionin’ Forth but not ramblin’ on ‘bout him, makin’ me kind o’ wonder whether he was really a dwarf. Llew said that incbui’s kids’re called “cambrian demons”, which makes NO sense at all (‘chick demons’? ‘Hatchlings’? ‘Cockadoodles’?), and they’re blue, which makes even LESS sense, so I figured we just had to kill ‘em cause they weren’t right. But they’re just fighter types, so seemed like they wouldn’t be much more trouble than their pas, ‘cept Llew said they could look like anyone ’n’ use fear to make people run away, so I figured I’d just be runnin’ around for a while once they came out.

I was ready to go up, but everyone else said they were pretty tapped out and this seemed like a good place to rest. The guys said no one from any other levels ever visited. I wanted to stay in the acid room ‘cause it seemed safer, but everyone else complained ‘bout the stink so we decided to stay in the fire room. I searched around for the secret cabinet with the potions ’n’ found it, but this one wasn’t trapped. I was confused, but I kind o’ liked the asymmetry, but I didn’t trust the potions ’til Alembic did his magic stuff on ‘em to make sure they were OK. Go figure.

We gathered up the incubi’s weapons ‘cause they looked valuable, then spent a LOT of hours just sittin’ in a big room. I had some jugglin’ balls ’n’ some cards, and I did some tumblin’ ’n’ dancin’ ’n’ singin’, but eventually I got tired ’n’ bored so I just had some gnome rations ’n’ got lucky ‘cause it was one of the ‘splodin’ bags ’n’ I got hot gruel all over my face and it hurt a lot but it was funny and tasted good ‘cause it had lots o’ honey in it, ’n’ then I slept ’til they woke me up to go on.

Once we were ready, everyone else started castin’ their spells, so I greased myself up and, as usual, offered to grease anyone else up who wanted it. ’N’ Llew accepted! So I greased her all up good, ’n’ she looked awesome, ‘cause grease’ll do that to you. Then I used Spidey on myself ’n’ o’ course everybody wanted Spider Climb, ‘cause I guess walkin’ on walls is so much more glamorous than bein’ covered with a thin layer of slick odorless goo. There’s no accountin’ for tastes.

We went up the stairs and, sure ‘nough, it was the fire version o’ the acid stairs. There were shoots o’ flames hittin’ us from both sides, then the closed door with the big bar on top and the little lock on the bottom. ‘Course Alembic’d protected us from fire so none of it bothered us, but as I started lookin’ at the lock I saw that they’d actually bothered to trap this door with a Fireball, so I took it off. And right there and then, without so much as a “by your leave”, Forth reached on over me and lifted up the door before I even got to pick the lock! Showoff! Next time I’ll leave the trap on while I work on the lock just to slow him down. I swear, you bring a girl in to open doors for you, and you don’t wait for her to open the door, and…

Anyhoo, this room was different. There were a bunch o’ women chained to the walls, all starkers, and none of ‘em lookin’ like they were tough enough to have survived the lower floors. Sittin’ at a table in the middle o’ the chamber were two guys, one buff, one weasely, kind o’ starin’ at each other. There was a tray o’ food nearby. After what Llew’d said ‘bout the cambrian demons lookin’ just like people, I figured we were lookin’ at two of ‘em, so I wanted to start stabbin’ ‘em to find out, but Forth wanted to talk. So I’m beginnin’ to like Forth more and more ‘cause I can’t figure out what the heck he’s goin’ to do from one level to the next, but I thought the whole point o’ bein’ lawful was bein’ predictable, and that Forth wasn’t.

So the guys wouldn’t let me stab ‘em or Alembic throw acid at ‘em or anythin’, ‘cause they were all grumpy. I didn’t like ‘em. I even told ‘em I’d heal ‘em after I did it and they still said, “No,” so I was sure they were cambrians. But the story on this level was that you had to rape one o’ the girls to move on, but these guys weren’t willin’ to do it, so they were stuck here. I decided I liked ‘em a little bit more just for that, but I felt even worse for the girls, ‘cause they were just stuck here and hadn’t even fought their way up voluntarily. I tried to feed one of ‘em, and the guys told me not to, and she refused to eat, and that’s when I saw the little murder hole behind her head: If we misbehaved, she’d be killed and there wasn’t anythin’ we could do ‘bout it. So I gave up on tryin’ to feed her, and started lookin’ for a way out.

This floor was split into chambers, and this room took up only around a quarter o’ the floor. There was one door with a Forth bar, and one door with a Trig door, and the idea was that you’d rape a girl, open the right door for you, ’n’ move on. So that’s where I started gettin’ confused. What happened when a woman got this far? ‘Cause I’m not naive; I was raised in a temple o’ Calistria, and I knew all the various ways a woman could please another woman, and heck, if I’d come of age before the goblins’d come I probably would’ve done most of ‘em, even though my proclivities don’t tend that way, if you get my meanin’, but there, right there and now, they were sayin’, “Trig, you gotta rape that woman over there,” and heck if I had any idea at all what they meant for me to do. So I figured it had to be a free pass, so I told ‘em since I couldn’t figure out how to do it I was just going to go over and unlock the door anyway, and before I even started over they got all mad and killed the girl I’d been tryin’ to feed.

Damn them. That was gonna cost me a heap o’ coin, ‘cause I’d gotten her killed, and heck if I wasn’t goin’ to make up for it to her. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rage ’n’ track ‘em down ’n’ kill ‘em all slowly. ‘Cept that might get more o’ the girls killed, and that would’ve broken my heart. So I had to stand there, helpless, shakin’ with rage, needin’ to kill some demons. Alembic started ramblin’ ‘bout somethin’orother and I wasn’t payin’ much attention, but suddenly he had one o’ the girls free and the spears just bounced off the heads o’ the other two! He’d Stoneskinned two of ‘em and teleported away the third! I could’ve kissed him right then and there, and that’s Alembic we’re talkin’ bout! It was time for some killin’!

Llew ’n’ Forth started smashin’ the bonds on the trapped ones so I used my gloves to look through the wall to see the perpetrators, but it was just a bunch o’ mechanical stuff someone was usin’ from another room.
Alembic decided he was tryin’ for “10 best men I’ve ever met” list ’n’ Glitterdusted the two guys at the table. Why? I have no idea! But it was hilarious! They got all mad and started threatenin’ to kill us ’n’ all, which was even funnier, ‘cept only the big guy had gone blind ’n’ the little guy was throwin’ all kinds of sharp things at Alembic, ‘cause he was pretty mad. I figured he was mad enough anyway, so I stabbed him just to make sure he was human, ‘cept he moved the wrong way at the last minute and I stabbed him a lot deeper’n I’d intended. That, or I was laughin’ too hard to aim straight. But he bled just like a human, so I apologized, but he was havin’ none of it.

Well, I figured we’d just beat ‘em unconscious, carry ‘em out, and turn ‘em loose of their own recognizance later, but Llew was pretty sore at me ’n’ Alembic for havin’ a bit o’ fun, and she turned on her big scary voice ’n’ told the guys to surrender. So they did. ’N’ I did. ’N’ we all behaved ourselves ‘cause she was scary mad. I offered to heal weasely guy, but he was still pretty sore ‘bout bein’ stabbed, so I guess he hadn’t hung around with too many gnomes before, so I let him go.
As they stormed out the door, a bunch o’ blue guys teleported in all around us and started stabbin’ us. Their weapons were cuttin’ right through Alembic’s Stoneskin, meanin’ they were probably adamantine, so all I was thinkin’ was that we were gettin’ revenge for the dead girl and all the raped girls and I was lookin’ at enough money to raise her, all in one big gangly gang of blue soon-to-be-dead demons.
I was still happy.

The moment Llew dropped one I moved in and started dancin’ to distract ‘em from cuttin’ Forth to ribbons, ’n’ learned that my cold iron dagger worked on ‘em just fine. It made me feel good to cut up these so-and-sos! I think everyone else agreed, ‘cause the blue guys didn’t last very long ’n’ Llew made sure every last one of ‘em was good ’n’ dead and I made sure every last one o’ their weapons made it into our loot stash, ‘cept Llew wanted one for herself and I figured that was always a smart thing.

I used one o’ the scrolls o’ Gentle Repose on the dead girl, ’n’ apologized to her all formal-like ‘cause it seemed like the right thing to do, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic talked to the other girls and they were all farm girls who’d been kidnapped with the rest of ‘em. The two guys we’d chased off had been Asmodeans with some kind o’ code o’ honor against rapin’ the girls, so I thought more of ‘em, even if they were awfully grumpy just for gettin’ stabbed.

We decided to move on, and I was still on the poop list for gettin’ that girl killed, so Forth got to show off again and lift the big heavy door to the next room. It was another quarter-floor room, ’n’ we found two livin’ prisoners (one man and one woman) ’n’ a bunch o’ ghouls. ‘Parently the man ’n’ woman were “spares” for the main room, ’n’ the ghouls were the sex toys o’ the day. At this point I figured Llew ’n’ Forth’d already decided that anyone they found after this floor had to die, ‘cause fightin’ each other to the death in an honorable way is one thing, but rapin’ helpless farm girls ’n’ then goin’ on to rape helpless ghouls is just, just…
I’m an eloquent woman when I need to be, but I have no words for how bad that is.

Forth couldn’t lift the next door so Llew did it for him and I didn’t even snerk all that hard at him (at least loud enough for him to hear) ’n’ we found all the ropes that prisoners would pull to kill girls. So someone’d pulled the rope that killed my girl ’n’ then gone upstairs. If he wasn’t dead up there, he’d have some awful good ‘splainin’ to do to me to keep on livin’.
We opened the last o’ the rooms and it was all symmetric, which just rubbed me wrong ‘cause even I wouldn’t’ve made a symmetric floor, ’n’ these were demons we were dealin’ with, so what gives? But Llew killed all the ghouls, we freed the other man ’n’ woman for 8 freed prisoners total (includin’ the dead girl), ’n’ we decided what to do next.

What we knew we weren’t goin’ to do was send all the girls (and the two guys) out with Big Angry and Little Angry out there. So we told ‘em to wait for us with all the food ’n’ such, ’n’ we’d come back for ‘em.

I sure as heck hoped…

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Session 31, played 02-Dec-18

Well, it was too late to do anythin’ ‘bout the rings, ‘cause I’d sold ‘em fair ’n’ square, so we all went ‘bout our business, figurin’ we’d need to rest for the night anyway. I did some drinkin’, and some dancin’, and some cavortin’, but nothin’ serious ‘cause I was on the job ’til the siege was lifted, but I had a good time and went to bed happy. And did not get attacked by undead!

In the mornin’ we were all gettin’ up and doin’ our things ’n’ Forth was lookin’ even worse ’n usual so I offered him a drink ’n’ he said, “No,” so I knew somethin’ was wrong with him, but I was too polite to ask. ‘Sides, I knew he wouldn’t tell me anyway. So anyway, some page guy showed up and told us that King Heddy wanted to see us, and I got all excited and happy ‘cause Heddy’s a fun king, and he gave me that writ that let me make people do fun stuff, but nobody else seemed all that excited to see him. So I kind o’ had to lead them to the castle, and reminded ‘em not to go in the maze unless you like bein’ bored, and I said, “Hi,” to all the guards and they all waved me in ‘cause they’re good that way, and there was Heddy doin’ all kinds o’ good kingly stuff like makin’ arguin’ farmers fight it out (‘cause gettin’ out your aggression’s good sometimes) and lettin’ guys standin’ in line make decisions for other guys (‘cause “Justice o’ the People” ’n’ all that) and otherwise just bein’ a swell king, but when he heard we were there he stopped all that ’n’ put some random guy in charge and came back to see us. ‘Cause we’re important.

So Heddy was worried ‘cause Cheliax had send him a Sending telling him that they had a big ol’ army o’ Hellknights just waitin’ in the fortress east of us to help save the city and all we had to do was ask, and he wanted to know whether we needed ‘em. Now, I don’t much like Asmodeus, but I can work with him when I need to. Cheliaxians? They make Asmodeus seem like a drunken party-lovin’ pink unicorn in comparison! I told Heddy he should just give ‘em marchin’ orders… eastwards, where they wouldn’t cause anybody any trouble. ‘Cept I guess the people east o’ them. But hopefully it was mountains or wilderness or just a big ol’ cliff into the sea so they could test their Lawfulness, but nobody liked my idea. Llew ’n’ Forth just suggested that he thank ‘em kindly and ask ‘em to stay put, which was definitely more diplomatic than my answer, but not nearly as fun.
Eventually sense won out (Boo!) and Heddy decided he’d just politely ask ‘em to stay put.

Once that nonsense was all done with, I asked Alembic for a white pony with a sky blue mane and floofy hooves ‘cause I was goin’ to be stabbin’ a demon and everyone knows demons hate unicorns, but Alembic wanted to teleport all the way to the succubus camp, ‘cause he’s lazy that way and gets a sore butt real easy. Fortunately, after arguin’ ‘bout how long it would take to ride the whole way vs. how long it would take to teleport, then ride, Llew ’n’ Forth sided with me to save Alembic’s spells for when we needed ‘em, so I got my pony, complete with a little icicle horn ‘cause Alembic’s really a good guy when he’s not bein’ lazy or slouchy or tryin’ to get rid o’ flowers he didn’t want on unknowin’ ladies or things like that.

So we rode on out to where we expected the tower to be, ‘cept there was no tower to be found! We were confused for a bit, then Llew said she wanted to look at the plans again, and I got to be helpful ‘cause the Asmodeans had figured that ‘bout the only use I’d ever be would be stabbin’ goblins in their warrens, so they taught me a bit ‘bout readin’ maps ’n’ plans ’n’ the like so I’d know where to go to do the killin’, so I knew what a lot o’ the symbols meant and I could help Llew ’n’ Forth read ‘em and I got to feel all smart. ‘Cept I couldn’t read the writin’ and Alembic cast a spell and could read it, but I figured usin’ magic was cheatin’ anyway so I still felt good ‘bout it. See? The Asmodeans can be useful on occasion!

So, the tower was s’posed to be 70-90 feet across and 150 feet tall, with 9 stories, each one with an unfun theme like “poison” or “fire” or whatnot, so it wasn’t like we could possibly be missin’ it, so what gave?
Alembic figured it out from the writin’: The guys who’d built it had liked playin’ with dimensional stuff. Not only was there some kind o’ weird dimension-y stuff happenin’ in the middle shaft o’ the buildin’, and maybe some weird teleportin’ stuff (I wouldn’t’ve understood it anyway, but I don’t know that Alembic did, and he was the one readin’ it), but the whole buildin’ itself was hidden in a pocket dimension, which kind o’ explained why we couldn’t find it. We were wanderin’ around, lookin’ for a big ol’ buildin’, and what we were really s’posed to be lookin’ for was a little archway. Worst of all was the description of what the buildin’ was used for: They’d take 100 prisoners and let ‘em in on the bottom floor, and if they could make it to the top they’d get their freedom or whatever. But o’ course that’s always a trap, and any time someone tells you, “Do this to be free,” you know it’s the last thing you want to do, and sure enough they’d kill off a bunch o’ prisoners on every level, either by havin’ to fight demons or by trapped stairs or by fire or acid or poison, ’til by level 7 or 8 there’d be only one prisoner left, and that prisoner would get to face off against Carg the manatee demon and get gored ’n’ squished ’n’ stuff. Not very nice. Even the necromancers were decryin’ it as a waste o’ resources, ‘cause they were losin’ 100 people a week they could be “processin’” themselves, but all it said to me was that everyone and everythin’ involved in makin’ the tower, or livin’ or undyin’ inside of it, needed to die (or re-die).

Once we knew what we were lookin’ for, Alembic flew on up and told us he couldn’t see anythin’, and Llew looked around in the woods a bit and couldn’t find anythin’, so I suggested that since Llew was so good at trackin’ and all these necromancers had been runnin’ 100 guys a week to the tower, maybe there was a trail. Everyone acted like I’d grown a second head ‘cause I’d come up with a sensible idea. Some girls might be embarrassed, but I know my brain. Yeah, it surprised me, too.
We moved on up to where we expected would be a straight line between the necromancer camp and the tower, ‘cause if necromancers are anything like Alembic they’re lazy as sin and wouldn’t bother makin’ a path with turns in it if they could help it, and sure enough Llew found the path right away. We followed it and found this giant clearin’ where they’d quarried all the rock for the buildin’ and cut down all the trees ’n’ such, and all I can say is that I think Alembic’s been gettin’ into Forth’s stash, ‘cause how he missed it from way up high is beyond me.

Anyhoo, the arch was in the middle o’ the clearin’, and it had a pair o’ big bronze doors leadin’ in, and there was a big ol’ dragon-lizard-reptile thingy with a lot o’ heads on it chained up in front o’ the door. Fortunately, it was asleep, so I could count all 11 heads. It gave me a headache just thinkin’ ‘bout tryin’ to move around with 11 heads on, ‘cause Head 1 might want to go this way, and Head 2 might want to go that way, and Head 3 might want to lick itself, ‘cause animals do that a lot, but Heads 4 and 5 might be in the way o’ that kind o’ thing, and Head 6, and see? I’m gettin’ tired o’ thinkin’ ‘bout it and I’m not even halfway through the heads. Anyhoo, the beastie was asleep, and Alembic told us it was a “pyrohydra”, and any heads we cut off would just grow back two at a time, so we had to cut off heads one at a time and immediately seal them with acid. ‘Cept I was only carryin’ 3 bottles of acid, and I counted 11 heads. And Alembic, bein’ Alembic, didn’t have any acid-y spells that’d hurt the critter, ‘cause he likes fire ’n’ water ’n’ ‘lecricity instead, and the only acid spell he’s got is the pit spell for throwin’ in gnomes he doesn’t like and makin’ ‘em swim in it, and he claimed that spell wouldn’t fit the hydra. Or maybe he was just savin’ it for when I wasn’t payin’ attention again. Fat chance!

So since we didn’t have enough acid, and it wasn’t likely the necromancers would be bringin’ any more prisoners today, seein’ as they were all dead (the necromancers, not the prisoners. We saved a few o’ them!), Alembic teleported us back to town to stock up on alchemicals and spells, rest up (for no reason I know of, ‘cept Alembic’s lazy), and try again the next day. I didn’t feel much like carousin’, so I just commandeered a few random animals and tried to ride ‘em around town, and learned that pigs’re pretty smart ’n’ you can tell ‘em what to do ’n’ they’ll do it, but pig farmers are an ornery lot, even when you’ve got a writ from the king sayin’ it’s OK. They ought to be more loyal. Or maybe not. That one pig ran into so many boxes while I was tryin’ to cling to his ears that I might’ve messed up his meat somehow.

Anyhoo, next mornin’ we teleported back to the tower, all stocked up on acid, and had a plan: Llew ’n’ Forth’d chop heads, and Alembic ’n’ I’d acid ‘em. So Alembic put Stoneskin on us, ‘cause no matter what I say about him, he’s willin’ to spend cash to keep us all safe, so I ought to be nicer to him. But nah.
Then he protected us from fire, so I was beginnin’ to feel downright friendly towards him, and we flew in with our plan, and Llew chopped off a couple o’ heads and I threw some acid on ‘em and… what’s that?!?!?
Turns out my little acid pots weren’t enough to disable a head, so I had to hit a stump *and* Alembic had to hit a stump, and even then the chances were iffy, so we managed to disable one stump but the other one just popped out two heads fresh as daisies and we were back to square one. Y’know, Alembic, it would have been nice to know that we needed more powerful acid before we were in the middle o’ the fight!
I hated to do it to poor Forth, but I was goin’ to have to replace his stash with somethin’ weaker so that when Alembic snuck off with it he wouldn’t be quite so addle-brained. “I didn’t see any giant clearing! I forgot to mention that you need really strong acid!”
Sheesh, Alembic! I’m dryin’ you out!

So Llew was as sick o’ the plan as I was and she just started stabbin’ the thing’s body, and just like most critters when you mince its body up it stops movin’ around so much. Yeah, it was tryin’ to regenerate all over the place, but with Llew stabbin’ it constantly it couldn’t keep up with her, ’n’ Forth could cut off the heads easy-like, ’n’ Alembic ’n’ I could acid ‘em and make sure the acid was effective, so once we took the, ‘Kill it, then kill it” approach it worked out real well.
I checked the doors and it was a bunch of amateur stuff: An Arcane Lock and an Alarm spell, like a wizard who’d never met a rogue before. So I took off the Alarm spell, and picked the Arcane Lock just to be ornery, then Alembic cast Open on the door from a safe distance. Nothin’ came out.

We went in, and I’ll admit I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, but this was somethin’ else. There were literally hundreds o’ bodies piled in the middle o’ the room, and even as we watched another body came fallin’ through the ceilin’ to land on the pile. Alembic mentioned that that was probably that weird magic he’d been readin’ ‘bout on the center shaft, but it was the kind o’ thing I really didn’t need to know ‘bout, ‘cept on higher levels not to step into the middle o’ the chamber. There were flies buzzin’ all over the bodies, includin’ a few king-sized flies that were bigger’n I was, so I figured our first task was goin’ to be to kill them. ‘Cept since we were lettin’ light into the room we heard a bunch o’ cries, and we saw that throughout the room were cages crammed full o’ prisoners, packed so tight they couldn’t so much as turn around. So no Fireballs, Alembic.

It looked like we had a few dozen prisoners to free, with maybe 8 cages of 10 prisoners each, but I didn’t count ‘em all, I just got to work on the locks ‘cause it’s what I do, and everyone else started lookin’ round for other stuff to do. Forth decided I was too slow for his tastes, so he just started smashin’ away at the locks with his big ol’ axe, and all I could think was that I may be slow, but at least the people I was letting out were goin’ to have all their fingers and toes when I released ‘em. And gee, if there weren’t all these Arcane Locks I might be able to go a little faster. Yeah, I can get through ‘em, but I’ll admit, they slow me down quite a bit.

So things were goin’ just fine, with the flies buzzin’ and me pickin’ and Forth smashin’, and maybe it was like a song that some halfwit drunken orc worshipper o’ Rovagug might o’ come up with, but I didn’t think so. But then a new guy popped out, all impeccably-dressed and lookin’ like a nice maitre’d at some posh place like the Outsider Inn or some such, ‘cept he had a fly’s head ‘stead of a human head, and ‘stead o’ bein’ all welcomin’ he popped out and stabbed Forth with a knife and sucked on him with his proboscis, and Forth started lookin’ even worse’n usual when he’s drained. Plus his buzzin’. It was maddening. I just couldn’t focus on what I was doin’, and it looked like everyone else was havin’ the same issues, spendin’ half their time coverin’ their ears ’n’ swattin’ at imaginary flies ‘stead o’ tryin’ to kill nicely-dressed ugly-faced boy.

I got enough of a glance at his first swing to know he was rogue trained, and I was better, but I knew better than to tell Forth to get near me, ‘cause we all know how well that ended up. But someone called out that we all needed Good-aligned weapons ’n’ I had the wand for it, ‘cept I was havin’ all kinds o’ trouble tryin’ to do two things at once so I’d only just managed to get it out when Alembic did somethin’ and it was easier to move again. Sounded just like his Haste spell, but I don’t know why that helped with the distractin’ noise. It just did. So the little bugger (OK, he was taller than me, but shorter’n anyone else) kept turnin’ invisible and poppin’ out to backstab people, ’n’ he was smart enough not to backstab me, so I just make Llew’s weapon Good, figurin’ she’d do better’n me at hittin’ him, ’n’ Forth smote him, and I figured it was curtains for him, but he kept turnin’ invisible.

Finally he made the mistake o’ stabbin’ Alembic. ‘Cause Alembic’s a coward. And a sorcerer. And if you want to see the full fury o’ magic unleashed on your sorry butt, make Alembic feel endangered. So the guy did his stab-n-hide thing at Alembic, ’n’ Alembic lit up the entire area with a Glitterdust ‘cause he was scared. And there on top o’ one o’ the cages was fly guy, all conveniently blinded ’n’ everything. O’ course, Alembic’d blinded himself as well, but now that bughead couldn’t go invisible, I figured his job was done anyway. So I walked up and stabbed him (the bug, not Alembic, ‘cause I’d used Spidey before we came in.) So did Forth ’n’ Llew.
He decided he hated me the most (I was proud) ’n’ tried to stab me, but I was dancin’ and he missed, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth took him down. We chopped off his head ’n’ everythin’ ‘cause who knows what you’re supposed to do with fly guys. We didn’t happen to have a giant toad handy to eat ‘im.

We spend some time freein’ up the rest o’ the prisoners ’n’ makin’ sure Forth wasn’t too bad off, ‘cause he gets hit by everythin’, then we checked our map ’n’ it looked like the next level was the level o’ acid. So Alembic protected us from acid ’n’ I gave everyone antitoxin just in case ’n’ we headed up the steps, with Forth in the lead ’n’ me followin’ along to check for trapped stairs, ‘cause the map’d warned us about that kind o’ thing. The map lied.

There wasn’t any acid to be found; instead a big ol’ grey hand popped out o’ nowhere ’n’ grabbed Forth ’n’ banged him against a wall. I drank a potion o’ Darkvision to figure out what was goin’ on, and there were these big guys who looked kind o’ like elephants with no trunks and bitty little tusks. So faceless elephants, so I’ll just call ‘em “phant demons”. Llew ’n’ Alembic started helpin’ Forth, but near as I could tell two o’ the phant demons were just hangin’ back dispellin’ all our magics, ’n’ the other two were grabbin’ Llew ’n’ Forth and bangin’ ‘em somethin’ awful. With them grabbed, I couldn’t do much o’ anythin’ ‘cept grease up Llew ’n’ hope for the best. Alembic put up some kind o’ magic wall to keep the two in the back out, but they just teleported in. It wasn’t a bad idea, but I thought Alembic knew about demons. Guess I was wrong. Llew started choppin’ the livin’ daylights out o’ the one that had her grabbed, then Alembic shot some weird green beam at him and he just crumbled into ash. Nice one, Alembic!

Then the lights went out again. Stupid dispellin’ phants!
So it took me a minute, ‘cause I could tell I was kind o’ in danger, then I heard Alembic turn another one into ash (why didn’t he do that against the hydra, I wondered?), and I heard Forth gettin’ beatin’ on somethin’ awful, so I knew all was right in the world, then I fished out another potion o’ Darkvision and put it up again, ‘cept the fight was almost over by the time I could see. Forth was nearly dead, but NOT dead, which was a plus, and Llew was so sick o’ bein’ grabbed she was cuttin’ up the remainin’ guys like they were perverted drunkards at a seedy tavern, ’n’ Alembic tried the greeny beamy again but this time it didn’t work, so I figured it was runnin’ out o’ steam, but me? I didn’t do much o’ anythin’ other than watch Forth get beaten on.

Once the final guy fell, Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic all said they were pretty tapped out. Guess the fights are a lot harder when I can’t see anythin’. But there was an ominous door on one side o’ the room labeled “Acid”.

Do we go in, or do we let everybody recover?

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So if you ever want to feel like a schmuck, spend all your money on little doodads like the really cool Bead of Force I’m carryin’ around, but then look at your big dead friend ’n’ his floppy lifeless beard ’n’ watch the tray goin’ around gatherin’ donations to bring him back, and know that you can’t put more than a few hundred on the tray ‘cause you spent too much on toys. Then watch everyone else pony up, and loot the dead guy’s bag for gold and find out that there’s more than enough, and feel much better ‘bout your toys!

Trouble was, we had some news that couldn’t wait, so we ended up cartin’ Forth’s body ‘round town as we checked in with Jacob and Jeremiah and showed ‘em the list o’ Friends o’ the Succubi so they’d know who not to trust, then we had to show it to Heddy, who didn’t seem all that surprised to see that his chief advisor was on the list, ’n’ then we had to go see Jocelyn ‘cause it’d be fun but we didn’t want to drag Forth’s corpse around her temple ‘cause he wouldn’t’ve liked it and she would’ve and I don’t like her THAT much, so Alembic watched over Forth’s body while Llew ’n’ I paid a visit to Jocelyn. The same ol’ hellknight was there, but heck if I could find a way to irritate him, so I’d kind o’ just given up and Llew asked politely to see Jocelyn. He seemed displeased to see me, so there was at least that; that cheered me up a bit.

Jocelyn had us in and we showed her the list and at first she just started talkin’ ‘bout the weak-minded needing pacts with demons to get stronger ‘stead o’ doin’ it themselves the proper way, so I pointed out all the clerics of Asmodeus on the list. I swear I expected her to titter. She didn’t, ‘cause she was all right ’n’ proper, but I know she wanted to. I would’ve. I told her I didn’t want to know what would happen to ‘em, but I expected she’d be doin’ a Sendin’ to Cheliax ’n’ causin’ ‘em some troubles, but she said it’d be better to wait ’n’ got an evil gleam in her eye that only clerics of Asmodeus can really get right and I almost felt bad for the other clerics. ‘Cept they’d first started worshippin’ Asmodeus, and then turned from him to make deals with demons, which kind o’ meant they deserved whatever was comin’. And now I really didn’t want to know. ‘Cause it wasn’t gonna be “just punishment” nor “just” punishment; it was gonna be really, really awful. And I just didn’t want to know. We finished our tea and cookies, and I figured now Jocelyn owed me, but I’d have to work out with Llew how to ask for a favor without damning my soul, which is apparently pretty hard, but first we had to go raise Forth.

This time we let the temple o’ Torag raise him, ‘cause it seemed kind o’ appropriate, ’n’ he got up all dazed ’n’ confused ’n’ I almost played hide ’n’ seek with him in his own beard but I figured Llew wouldn’t’ve approved so I stayed out. Besides, he’d been dead. Who knew what kind o’ zombie lice were livin’ in there, just waitin’ for some innocent young gnome to crawl in and be consumed, never to be heard from again?
It was still pretty early in the day, but I didn’t have enough gold to buy anythin’ fun, and Llew ’n’ Alembic ’n’ Forth all needed rest, so I joined ‘em at the tavern ’n’ did some drinkin’ ’n’ dancin’ ’n’ whatnot ’n’ turned in early to prepare for another day o’ killin’ necromancers.

In the mornin’ I popped up and found Forth and it didn’t seem like his latest death had done his brain any good at all. He was havin’ some kind o’ beer or somethin’ for breakfast, which I didn’t think was dwarven custom but I’d never much paid attention, but he also wasn’t all that excited ‘bout killin’ necromancers or anythin’ else for that matter. He just seemed down Even his beard wasn’t its usual dangerous-lookin’ self. Trouble was, the only ways I know of to cheer someone up involve property damage or bodily injury (or both), and I knew Forth wouldn’t’ve liked either o’ those, so I thought that sittin’ quietly and behavin’ myself might help. I did my best! I think I was still and quiet and good for at least 44 seconds. But he didn’t seem all that much cheerier after it, so I figured cheerin’ him up was beyond me, and Llew’d take care of it, ‘cause Llew can do anythin’. Eventually Llew ’n’ Alembic came down, but they didn’t do anythin’ other than put up a Magic Circle ’n’ teleport us to the succubus camp; I figure Llew figured killin’ some necromancers was what was needed to make Forth right. ‘Cause Forth is all dour ’n’ serious all the time anyway. Being even more dour’n that was just depressin’.

It didn’t look like anyone’d been at the succubus camp, but we decided we should be careful anyway, so I snuck on ahead to lead the way while everyone else came up behind. ‘Cept apparently walkin’ in a straight line in the woods is impossible. I’d cut ahead, go under a bush, duck past a log, and slip through some rocks, then pop up to look for everyone else, and either they were wanderin’ all zig-zaggy through the woods, or I was. And bein’ a gnome, I know that whenever anyone gets accused o’ bein’ zig-zaggy, it’s probably the gnome. So we gave up on that idea and I was a little miffed that I couldn’t even walk a straight line right. But a little proud, too.

As we got closer to where the necromancer camp was s’posed to be, the bushes got thicker ’n’ tanglier so we had to clamber over ’n’ under ’n’ around ‘em, and it was a grand ol’ time, ‘cept I kept gettin’ lost ’n’ havin’ to find Llew. Llew was surprisingly nimble, but you kind o’ expect that she can do anythin’. Alembic managed to keep up, and even Forth made a good go of it. I was proud of him! Even if he was so sad I wanted to think up a new name for him! For some reason I kept thinkin’ either “Eeyore” or “Marvin”. No idea where those came from!

Once Llew figured we were about half an hour out, I tried to use Spidey on myself but he decided he hated me (probably for not usin’ him sooner and havin’ all that fun without him), but Alembic made him work, so now I could stick to all the trees ’n’ bushes ’n’ it was almost as fun as bein’ dipped in glue and chased by a bear, but probably not quite as much fun. I handed out antitoxin to everyone ’n’ they drank it down without a thought, so it looks like it’s about time to test out that vomit capsule on Alembic again. Gotta teach people to be careful what they drink!

We moved forward again, but pretty soon Llew ’n’ I spotted a skeleton lookout in a little crow’s nest in a tree. It was kinda cute, if kinda creepy undead cute. I told everyone I could just go up ’n’ kill it quiet-like, but they wanted Alembic in range in case things went wrong, ’n’ he needed to be a lot closer. And Forth was gettin’ through the bushes, but it wasn’t graceful. Kind o’ like a whale givin’ birth to a giant hedgehog that then rolled down through a slope o’ brambles and landed on a beehive in the mud. So Alembic turned him invisible so the noise wouldn’t sound like it was comin’ from anywhere, and I had to admit, it seemed to make him quieter. Though less fascinatin’ to watch.
But we made it close enough that Alembic could see the skeleton without it seein’ us, so I snuck up to the tree ’n’ started climbin’ the back side of it. ’N’ that special sense I get when somethin’ isn’t right went off, and I concentrated like I do, and there was some kind o’ spell protectin’ the tree. So I took it off ‘cause I’m good at that kind o’ thing and kept goin’ up the tree. Once I was behind the skeleton, I popped out ’n’ stabbed it but good, but it just kind o’ dangled ’n’ rattled around. It didn’t seem all that dangerous to me. So I gave Llew the thumbs-up ’n’ came down ’n’ told her I’d killed it, but she said it hadn’t been a skeleton, and I said it sure was ‘cause it had bones ’n’ everythin’, so she said it hadn’t been an animated skeleton. I couldn’t argue with that one.

Alembic got that constipated look he gets when he’s concentratin’, and he said that we couldn’t be more than a couple hundred feet from the camp, ‘cause the Alarm spell I’d taken down didn’t go all that far. So we looked around Llew said she could hear the camp nearby. We backed up quite a bit and buffed up. ‘Parently I’d done so much to impress the group in my battle with the inanimate skeleton that they decided to make me a front-liner. I got my own Magic Circle, and Bull’s Strength, and Fly, and Llew used one o’ the scrolls o’ Death Ward on me, so I was feelin’ pretty good ‘bout stabbin’ things. We moved back toward the camp as quickly as we could without bein’ stupid-noisy, and once I spotted the camp (I figured I had an unfair advantage over Llew ‘cause it was disguised as bushes, and I’m always on a wary relationship with bushes so I notice ‘em) I pointed it out to Alembic and he Dimension Doored us on in.

I was all ready to just start stabbin’ anyone in creepy robes who wasn’t tied up, but before I could do anythin’ Forth told ‘em all that they could surrender and they wouldn’t get hurt. So I was stuck waitin’ for ‘em to do somethin’ stupid so I pulled out Shieldy and protected myself, while Alembic Hasted all of us to make the inevitable killin’ go faster. Llew was doin’ Llew stuff; all I know is that she was doin’ magic out o’ respect for not killin’ anythin’ ’til Forth told us it was OK. Then Forth just started whacking on one of ‘em! I swear! That dwarf! Just wants to hog all the glory and then die in every fight! As if to prove my point, he moved deeper among all of ‘em to draw their fire. ‘Cept when you’re a flat-footed slow dwarf makin’ yourself the target of a bunch o’ casters isn’t particularly bright. So at first count I saw 5 or 6 guys, but as they moved around and shot a bunch o’ acidic arrows at us and summoned some black tentacle thingies, we got up to 8. So the tentacles weren’t much of a problem, but I know all of us got hit by at least one o’ the arrows, and they stung. Another guy tried to do somethin’ to Forth but it didn’t work. Llew told me later it was ‘cause of her anti-death field. Which just sounds cool. So Alembic got grabbed by the tentacles, ‘cause Alembic, so since somethin’d actually touched him he teleported away, ‘cause Alembic. I figured we probably wouldn’t see him again, so Llew ’n’ I flew over to help out Forth and together the two of us dropped one of ‘em. One down, seven to go! And one of ‘em was caught in his friend’s black tentacles! Then Forth started showin’ off and just pulped one of ‘em inside his own tent! I was glad I couldn’t see it all that clearly, ‘cause the smacking sounds were… bad. Guess Forth doesn’t care for necromancers! Can’t blame him!

‘Course, the necromancers now had all of us ‘cept Cowardly all lined up in a nice little bunch. A whole bunch more black tentacles popped up, ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew got grabbed, and I was only safe ‘cause I’d been dancin’ up a storm so they just barely missed me. Things were lookin’ ugly, ‘cept then a HUGE Fireball nearly blinded ’n’ deafened me as Alembic dropped somethin’ really nasty from the sky. From where I could see, I think he got 3 or 4 o’ the remainin’ guys, plus about 3/4 o’ their big tent, plus a bunch o’ the little tents, plus lots and lots of black tentacles (not to self: They don’t burn). OK. I don’t get to call him Cowardly any more, ‘cause that was pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, I know my job. I had to grease up either Llew or Forth to get ‘em back in the fight. And sorry, Forth, lookin’ at that beard, I just wasn’t goin’ to touch it. So I stopped dancin’, knowin’ full well I was goin’ to tentacle town, and greased up Llew. And yeah, I got grabbed, so I didn’t see much o’ what was goin’ on after that. I know Forth got loose first ‘cause my grease wasn’t good enough for Llew (need to get better grease), and I figured I’d just squirm loose and… HEY! You do NOT put a tentacle THERE, mister! I was a little too flustered and indignant from their impropriety so I didn’t quite get loose, but I heard Alembic’s Lightning Bolt go off and some Forth bashing (that is, bashing bein’ done by Forth, not TO Forth), and then it was quieter and I extricated myself from the oh-so-inappropriate tentacle and Llew did the same (though I didn’t see whether hers were so bad).

So we started cleanin’ up, makin’ sure bodies were really bodies and not just undead horrors playin’ possum like we’d seen before, and checkin’ in the big tent Alembic blew up and whatnot. There were the remains of a desk in the tent, and desk meant paperwork, ’n’ Llew was pretty peeved ‘cause any paperwork that’d been in there really wasn’t there any more. The rest o’ the destruction was a bunch o’ broken lab equipment ’n’ burned up bodies, but I figured they were probably zombies that never got a chance to come out and harass us. Forth gave us some healin’ ‘cause he’s good that way, and Alembic set to tryin’ to use magic to bring back the biggest o’ the burnt-up books he’d found while Llew ’n’ I stood watch when we heard another guy comin’ through the bushes. ‘Cept he knew we were there, too, ‘cause he sent a big ol’ cloud o’ somethin’ our way. I didn’t get to find out what it was, ‘cause I was too far back to get hit and Alembic dispelled it before it could spread out ’n’ get me, and I have to admit, even as a gnome I really didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anythin’ by not smellin’ it. We all charged towards him ’n’ he had three prisoners chained up in front of him to try to protect himself, but we were flyin’ so they weren’t goin’ to do much good, so he cast somethin’ at me and for a moment I started to feel all squirrel-like but then the fancy bead the man’d said would protect me from bein’ turned into anythin’ (like a squirrel) broke with a loud POP! and I stayed normal. So I figured that was a thousand gold well spent! ‘Cept now I needed another one! I hoped these guys were rich!

Alembic sped us up ‘cause I think he’s gettin’ impatient with how slow we kill things so they always get a chance to grab him and he doesn’t like that ‘cause he’s not the huggy sort, ’n’ we all flew up ’n’ started beatin’ on him. ‘Cept Forth, who first healed the prisoners, ‘cause Forth’s a good guy that way. Our bad guy tried to do somethin’ all black ’n’ dark ’n’ nasty, but Llew had somethin’ up that protected both us and the prisoners. And no, sorry. I can’t be more descriptive. I didn’t know what the heck was goin’ on! I just knew my stabbin’ target was tryin’ to fly away! So me ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew went up and hit him some more, but sometimes we hit and sometimes we missed and it was pretty irritatin’, and he dropped a Fireball on the prisoners ’n’ Llew. Forth did his “save the innocents” thing and this time he didn’t die, nor did any o’ them, so good on you, Forth! Alembic shot the guy a little more and he dropped.

Llew started strippin’ him down and tyin’ him up all rough-like, and Forth started checkin’ on the prisoners, and Alembic was busy tryin’ to pat himself on the back with both hands, so when I came down I noticed the bad guy looked a lot like Forth on a bad day, so I asked Llew whether we were goin’ to let him die. I figured it was a rhetorical question ’n’ all. I mean, he’d just been usin’ dark magic ’n tryin’ to kill his prisoners, and I suppose tryin’ to turn me into a squirrel was mean, but I figure it probably would’ve been fun for a while, but anyhoo Llew gave me a look that said, “OK, you pointed it out, you save the man’s life.”
So I used Ornery, ‘cause I figured Ornery wouldn’t work on him, but he did, so I don’t understand Ornery at all.

Once everyone was safe ’n’ sound and those that needed to be were all tied up, Alembic got back to fixin’ the book, and eventually he got it done and it was some kind o’ borin’ plans for some borin’ fortress. And I knew, I just knew, that those plans meant that the fortress was already built and that was where we’d be goin’ next. But first we had to get the prisoners to safety, and the necromancer in nice bonfire. Oh, what? Jail? OK. Apparently jail.
While Alembic was fixin’ the book, Llew ’n’ I looked around for valuables, and I found quite a few rings ’n’ potions ’n’ whatnot that seemed valuable, so I gathered ‘em all up in a bundle and waited for Alembic to finish what he was doin’ so he could tell me what they were so I could sell ‘em. Llew got all stiff ’n’ quiet, but I figured it was ‘cause I’d found more loot than her, ‘cause she’d spent more time in the burnt-down tent. But we had extra time so we talked to the prisoners for a bit and, sure enough, the big tower was already built, and it even had a boss guy (apparently the general of this army, ‘cause apparently they needed a LOT of generals. I guess undead are like that). They’d been paraded in front of him, he’d picked a few, and the rest were brought here, presumably to be turned into zombies and sent at the town. Alembic guessed that they’d been able to create around 6 zombies an hour in this place, and they’d had a LOT of hours!

Alembic summoned horses for us (I chose yellow, ‘cause I didn’t remember choosing yellow before) and then he teleported back with the prisoners and the necromancer. We rode back, and it was a pleasant ride, though Llew was even quieter’n usual and Forth had an amazing amount of alcohol stashed away on his person, so he drank more’n he talked. OK. Maybe it wasn’t all that pleasant, but I was on a yellow horse so I had fun.

Once we got back to town, we found Alembic (I was kind o’ hopin’ he’d gotten lost on the teleport, but that would’ve been mean to the prisoners) and he’d debriefed Jacob and Jeremiah and we were all ready to interrogate the prisoner, which sounds an awful lot more fun than it is. ‘Cept Llew thought about it for a little while, and then told me I could actually DO somethin’, which really surprised me! But she said that she’d go in and be all mean and torture him a bit to get out whatever information she could, then I could go in and be all nice and mend his wounds and use my big purple eyes to get him to tell me stuff. It was a brilliant plan, ‘cept I didn’t want to be nice to him, so I was pretty relieved when he spilled his guts the moment Llew started askin’ him stuff. Heck, she didn’t even use pliers!

We didn’t learn a heck of a lot we hadn’t already figured out, though. He gave us a good description of the boss guy, and he’s definitely a demon of some kind, and the succubi looked up to him, so he’s a powerful demon. He’d choose some prisoners to do some pit fighting for his entertainment, and sent the rest on to become zombies. Once the necromancers had created all the zombies they could control, they’d send off the batch to the city and start on a new batch. A horrific, ruthlessly efficient operation we needed to shut down. Oh, wait! We had! Or had we? There was a big question as to how many o’ these camps there were. Necromancer boy didn’t know of any more, but I wouldn’t’ve told him about any more, either, so maybe his bosses were just smart 'bout that kind of thing.

We did get some ugly names, though. The demon’s name was Cargan, but he went by Carg. The Mother of Wight’s name was Ilkanya Alonore, and the necromancers worked for her, but had been ordered for work for Carg, but they didn’t like him. Ilkanya was called the Mother of Wights ‘cause she’d created the first wight many years ago (‘parently she’s hundreds of years old, at least), but wouldn’t that make her the “Maker of Wights”? I guess it depends on how she made ‘em, and once my brain went there I just didn’t want it to go any farther so I started thinkin’ ‘bout daisies. There was some other stuff ‘bout Carg bein’ the guy who summoned the succubi, the Mother of Wights bein’ in the mountains somewhere but I didn’t catch the name, and the exact location of Carg’s place so once we were done shoppin’ we could go chop him up.
Llew came out and I was wonderin’ whether it was goin’ to be my turn, but then we heard some hideous screamin’ and ran in and the guy was dead. Alembic said it’d been a Phantasmal Killer, which to me just meant, “Don’t go anywhere without Llew protectin’ your brain.”

So, the group handed me all the stuff so I could sell it off and, “Do what I do,” which is apparently shop. I wasn’t gonna argue. So I went to the market and I sold all the stuff that looked like it was worth sellin’, and kept all the stuff that looked like it was worth keepin’, and I got myself another bead, and replenished my alchemicals, and started thinkin’ ‘bout how to spend the rest o’ my share. But I figured I should talk to everyone else first.

I found Forth over at the temple o’ Torag, but he was havin’ some kind o’ deep conversation with his cleric. I was bettin’ it was on which beer was best or somethin’, but I didn’t want to be rude so I only interrupted long enough to tell Forth everythin’ I’d sold, who I’d sold it to, how many pretty things I’d seen, how bad daisies in the market taste ‘cause I guess dogs pee on ‘em, and once he started rollin’ his eyes in that impatient way o’ his that say it’s time for me to go so he can get back to drinkin’, I moved on.

Llew ’n’ Alembic were deep in conversation, too. She was sayin’ somethin’ ‘bout him needin’ to be more careful about blowin’ stuff up, but I got that lecture every day when I was growin’ up and it never took, so I figured I could interrupt OK. She just stopped and told me we were fightin’ a manatee demon, and it had big blubber and tusks and was so stinky it made you stupid (I think she said sick and feebleminded) and we needed good-aligned weapons to take care of it so I had to borrow some money from her ‘cause those wands are ‘spensive and I left her to her talk with Alembic, though I knew it wasn’t goin’ to do any good, and then I thought, “Gee, if the manatee casts Feeblemind, wouldn’t it be great to have some o’ those rings o’ Counterspell I’d just sold?”


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Session 29, Played 11-Nov-2018

So, I think my favorite part o’ bein’ with this group is tryin’ to figure out whether we’re sleepin’, or eatin’, or settin’ out, or washin’ our socks, or whatnot. It was the middle o’ the night, and Llew said she’d get her spells back at dawn, but Forth got his at sundown, and Alembic got his whenever he was lazy, so you’d figure he always had spells, but apparently there’s a special art to bein’ lazy enough to get your spells back, and that takes some real peace and quiet. Kind o’ explains why he doesn’t seem to like me all that much. But like I said, he’s gettin’ better. Once you get to know me you can’t help but warm to me.

Anyhoo, first we were goin’ to nap for a couple o’ hours and then head out. Then we were goin’ to wait ’til dawn. Then we were goin’ to wait ’til later in the day. Then we were just goin’ to go on a bender and fall asleep drunk in a gutter somewhere (oh, sorry! That was just Forth!). I watched the whole thing with glad amusement; I figured they MUST be doin’ it for my entertainment, ‘cause it was all kinds o’ fun! Eventually sense won out: We wanted Llew to be in top form and we didn’t want to fight the boats in the dark, so we waited ’til mornin’ and I got a couple hours’ rest, and Llew got to pray or kill undead or do whatever it is she does to get her powers back from Pharasma every day. I don’t know why she had to; if I were Pharasma and I saw all the undead killin’ Llew was doin’, I’d just say, “Here, have the lot of ‘em!” and be done with all that prayin’ ’n’ stuff. But I’m not a god (yet), so I figure there must be some reason for it, so we waited for Llew.

Once we were up and Llew was done, we headed downstairs for breakfast. And there were PRESENTS! Waiting for US!!!!! The innkeep gave Forth and Alembic theirs first, ‘cause they just got flowers and thank-yous, and everyone knows that’s what you get men when you can’t think of anything else to give ‘em ‘cause they don’t know what to do with ‘em and they stand around lookin’ abashed and awkward with a bunch o’ dead plants in their arms and it’s all kinds o’ fun! I wish I’d thought of it! Then he reached down behind the counter and brought up this HUGE ol’ basket o’ fancy fruits ’n’ jarred stuff ’n’ preserved meats ’n’ who knew what else, and I was sure it was for me, ‘cause it’d take me all day to open every jar and taste it and mix ‘em together to see what colors I could make and what every color tasted like and which ones were nasty and which were poisoned and which burned and I was gettin’ all excited but then he said it was for Llew and I was kind o’ disappointed ‘cause I would’ve been busy all day with that big ol’ basket, but it was probably better that Llew get it and not waste time. So by that time the innkeep knew I was itchin’ to see what I got, so he tried to pretend I didn’t get anythin’ but even *I* could see the twinkle in his eye ‘cause he wasn’t tryin’ very hard, but I loved him all the more for it, ’n’ he pulled out a fancy scroll tube for me ’n’ gave me a couple o’ magic scrolls! I was all excited, ’n’ read the note ’n’ it was a merchant who’d liked the bands, and asked me to please please return the scrolls if I didn’t use ‘em, so I figured he was one o’ those practical Asmodean or Abadarian types, but I figured he was doin’ his best to mean well so I didn’t hold it against him. ’Til I opened up the scrolls and they were a couple o’ Death Wards. Can’t get much more practical than that. So I turned on the charm and acted like I was all happy ’n’ excited, and I figured Llew could probably use ‘em better ’n’ I could, but I’d carry ‘em just in case the merchant was watchin’. But I’ve been trainin’ real hard at lyin’ and bein’ charmin’, so I’m sure he (or she) was convinced I was ecstatic with such a practical gift.

Practical gifts make children and gnomes cry.

But I didn’t, ‘cause I’m good that way.

I even did what the Asmodeans taught me was right ’n’ proper and wrote a thank you note in crayon, with lots of misspellings ‘cause “adults like that and think it’s cute”, at least that’s what the Asmodeans say. I tried usin’ my left hand to make it messier, and I didn’t know what language to use so I thought ‘bout usin’ goblin, ‘cause goblins don’t write so I’d be makin’ up my whole own personal language, but then I figured Common’d be better. I gave the note to the innkeep to give to “my benevolent benefactor” (see? I can be fancy when I want to!) and we headed for the gates.
I gotta admit, Alembic’s almost as clever as I am! He didn’t want the flowers any more than I wanted the scrolls, and the flowers weren’t even practical (I tasted one of Forth’s and it wasn’t worth eatin’), so he started actin’ all magnanimous and givin’ flowers to all the pretty human ladies we passed while ridin’ out o’ town. I had newfound respect for the man — he got rid o’ the flowers and made people like him for doin’ it!

Alembic summoned us some more Phantom Steeds, but I was all out o’ camouflage-y ideas, so I said I just wanted it plain brown, just ‘cause it would be fun to see the looks on everyone else’s faces. Alembic made it brown, but with lighter and darker stripes so it looked all exotic! It was awesome! Told you Alembic was gettin’ better!
We rode up the river for a while, bein’ careful to look for stuff so it was pretty slow, but it was OK ‘cause I was on a horse that WALKED ON WATER, and eventually Llew spotted a bunch o’ ghouls comin’ along the river the other way, ‘cause her special pink eyes are real good at that stuff. Girls with pink or purple eyes. We’re better than the rest o’ the world!

Anyhoo, once Llew pointed ‘em out I could see ‘em too, but Forth ’n’ Alembic still had trouble, so we were goin’ to have to move forward for ‘em. Before we went, Alembic put the stony skin stuff on us, which I appreciated, and then made us fly, which I also appreciated. So I flew up to take a look-see, and it was really strange; the ghouls were all movin’ along in a line along the river, careful-like. I couldn’t see all of ‘em, but fillin’ in the holes I figured there were 3 ghouls on each side of the river, each about 100 feet from the next, and all six of ‘em formin’ some kind o’ skirmish line. So… the big question was, skirmish line for what? Even 6 ghouls weren’t much of a match for a well-armed patrol, and there weren’t any people still livin’ on the river between them and the town (we knew ‘cause we’d just rode along (or in) it). And spread all apart like that they were safe from fireballs, but easy pickings for anything else that might come along… like us!
Since we couldn’t figure out what the trap was, we figured we might as well spring it, ‘cause we’re dumb that way. ‘Cept us gnomes call it “fun”! Alembic hit a ghoul with Magic Missiles and it dropped, so I shot one but it knew I was there so I didn’t so much of anythin’ to it, so Llew killed it for me to make me feel better. She’s nice that way. Forth still doesn’t have a bow, and his breath doesn’t reach that far, so he just kind o’ floated ‘round, like a great bearded beer keg with feet and a smelly beard. Speakin’ o’ such, it was probably time for me to trick him into fallin’ in the river again, ‘cause that’s how you get a dwarf to bathe. Handy that we were right above one!

The trap sprung, and I gotta admit, none of us were ‘specting it. ‘Cause we heard some whistlin’ and then some great giant rocks came rainin’ down from the sky on all of us! It hurt. A LOT. In fact, I figure if Alembic hadn’t protected us all, we might’ve died right then ’n’ there. All the ghouls around us sure did. ‘Cause when you’re undead you don’t care if you hit your friends, ‘cause you don’t have any. Which is why they’re angry all the time, I figure. Our phantom steeds all got blown up, too, but I was flyin’ now so I really didn’t need Brownie any more.
I figured the best thing to do was take cover and head for the direction of the barges so I did, but Alembic had different ideas and put up a bank o’ fog and told everyone to get near him so he could Dimension Door ‘em all to the barges. Llew called for me to come with ‘em, but I was a long way away already and they were already in the fog, so I figured I’d catch up with ‘em and I called out the same.

Big mistake. I don’t know who was listenin’, but I got hit by another barrage o’ rocks. I figured at least I was keepin’ ‘em from hittin’ anyone else, but hoo boy did it hurt! I was bleedin’ all over the place, so I tried to get Ornery to work for me, but he was mad ‘cause he kept gettin’ hit by rocks and I had to fly through the trees ’n’ stay hidden. The next time the rocks fired most of ‘em missed me, but a few more hit me and I was beginnin’ to think I was in real trouble, so I hid better and moved farther and hoped they’d miss me next time. They did. Which made ‘em stop shooting for a minute.
I *finally* heard fightin’ in the distance, which meant Forth ’n’ Llew were at it, so I figured it was time to go airborne and figure out who was where.

All the rock-throwin’ things (I’m gonna call ‘em catapults, ‘cause no one can stop me) on the ends were firin' at the catapults in the middle, so I figured that was where Llew and Forth were. I drank a potion to make myself invisible and flew towards the front barge, figurin’ I’d drop a Bead of Force on the main deck just to gum things up, help Forth ’n’ Llew out a bit ‘cause I’m sure they didn’t like gettin’ hit any more than I did, and stop up the whole flotilla. While I was flyin’, I pulled out Healy ‘cause Ornery was mad and Healy worked just fine. I was feelin’ pretty good by the time I got within range o’ the first barge, and then it blew up. Dang it, Alembic! All the zombies on it died, and there was one guy still standin’ but he didn’t look like he was goin’ to be doin’ much all by his lonesome, so I headed for the second barge. As I headed to the second barge, Alembic blew it up, too! I got pretty mad so I started flyin’ in to kill the guy on it who’d survived, but Alembic Magic Missiled both guys to death at once, then the other catapults blew up the front barge. What the heck!?!?!? The other catapults didn’t sink the second boat, so I landed on it and started tryin’ to steer it, but there was no steerin’! I was ‘bout to set the whole mess on fire, but then I figured Llew ’n’ Forth’d get mad at me if I destroyed stuff they might be able to use, so I just waited for ‘em.

Eventually they caught up with us, and they were all beat up and bloody just like I’d been, but we’d won! All but two of the barges were destroyed, and all the undead were dead! We could let those two barges float on down the river to the city and they’d get some extra armaments, and no one’d be breachin’ the walls from this side!

So I might’ve been useless, but we won anyway, and that’s what counts. Right, Alembic?

Alembic teleported us back to town, and a whole bunch o’ people started cheerin’ for us ’n’ such, ‘cause they figured we’d done a good job before even askin’ whether we’d won, which was kind o’ silly, but kind o’ nice ‘cause it showed they had faith in us, and everyone else in the group said they were goin’ to rest ’til evenin’ before goin’ and investigatin’ that “invisible” spot to the north.
So we reported in to Jacob and Jeremiah and Jocelyn and Jacoby and Jo Jo and whatever other Js happened to be around, just ‘cause, and I refilled my alchemicals, and this time Llew helped me out (I love my group!), so I had a day to wander around town doin’ whatever I wanted. Trouble was, I was pretty tuckered from gettin’ no sleep the night before, so I couldn’t think of anythin’ fun to do with King Heddy’s writ, which was a sure sign I was feelin’ low, so I napped for a few hours.

I (and everyone else in town, I figure) got woken up by alarm bells just after sunset, and just outside the walls was a HUGE horde-o-undead (have you horde o’ undead? ‘Course I’ve horde of ‘em!) that came down from the north through the invisible spot. Fortunately, since there were no catapults to help ‘em, they just kind o’ milled around. We still figured we needed to check out the invisible spot, and I wanted to go at night when we’d be able to hide better, but Llew ’n’ Forth had more sense ’n me and reminded me that undead are more powerful at night ’n’ see better, too, so unless anything more dangerous came along we should wait ’til mornin’. Since I’d just finished a nap, I found a big stock o’ small arrows for myself and entertained myself for a bit shootin’ zombies ’n’ skeletons (I got pretty good at poppin’ up, shootin’ ‘em, and poppin’ back down again), but after a couple o’ hours that got borin’, so I wandered around town, had somethin’ to eat, reassured everyone that was worried that we were on it and they’d be fine, and just tried to help town morale, ‘cause they needed it. Then when I figured I could probably sleep some more, I went to bed. Seemed like a kind o’ borin’ day for me, all in all, but it was different, and different’s more important than “not borin’”.

We got up at the crack o’ dawn, did whatever it is Llew ’n’ Alembic have to do, and Alembic Dimension Doored us way past all the undead, then summoned Phantom Steeds for us. I asked for one that was hot pink with purple hearts, and he gave me one! I figured the best defense against invisible stuff is to be extra-visible. We rode north for a while ’til Llew spotted a camp up ahead. Alembic wanted to just Fireball it from a distance. I figured that wasn’t a very bright idea ‘cause we knew some of our guys were out here, too, and it didn’t seem like zombies and skeletons needed campfires and food. But Llew ’n’ Forth also assumed they were bad guys, so maybe I was wrong. There was some debate as to whether or not I should scout ahead. I thought I wasn’t s’posed to ‘cause I was small ’n’ easy to lose, but they finally told me to go ahead so I did, and it looked like a bunch o’ town guards. Win for Trig!
I went back ’n’ told the group, ’n’ they came with me as we walked up to talk to the guys. Everything seemed totally normal to me; they just hasn’t seen anythin’ was all. I mean, they missed me sneakin’ right up on ‘em; they probably just weren’t very good was all. Llew ’n’ Forth did a bunch of magicky stuff I didn’t understand, and the guards didn’t understand it either so they didn’t mind. But once we moved away from ‘em Forth told us they were evil, ’n’ LLew said there were zombie tracks all through camp, but they really honestly didn’t know about ‘em. In fact, she said they were dominated, and her Magic Circle Against Evil hadn’t helped ‘em, so we were probably up against somethin’ that was pretty good at messin’ with people’s minds. I stuck close to Llew ’n’ her circle.

We talked about whether or not to take ‘em out peaceful-like (I don’t do “peaceful-like” very well), but they decided it was better to leave ‘em alone so they wouldn’t report anything unusual, such as bein’ unconscious and tied up. We kept scoutin’ around, and found three more camps that were pretty much the same: Evil guys, dominated, zombies had come through and they hadn’t noticed ‘em. I had no idea what to do with all of ‘em, so I kept my mouth shut. We came on a fourth camp, and I didn’t notice anythin’ different, but once we’d done all the usual stuff and gone out o’ camp Llew said that this group was different: They were all disguised shapeshifters (how Llew could tell that I didn’t even want to ask), and they weren’t dominated this time. Forth told us they were still evil, so we decided it was time to buff up and go in.

Unfortunately, they were expectin’ just that, so as we headed back in we didn’t even get halfway back before all four of ‘em teleported all around us (always a bad sign, since as far as I know town guards don’t teleport), plus three more things that didn’t look undead ‘cause they didn’t look human at all — they were all gaunt, skin-n-bone things with hooves and claws and pointy teeth. I figured they were some kind o’ evil outsider, but heck if I knew any more’n that.

So they’d surprised us ’n’ we were all surrounded, so first things first was to make a safe space for everyone to get to so we could watch each others’ backs. I got all dancy and moved to a clear space, ’n’ they didn’t even swing at me ‘cause they probably figured I was dancin’ too much. I told Forth to follow me so we could set up a defense, but he saw that Alembic was in trouble and instead o’ movin’ away from the guards ’n’ demon things he stepped into the middle of them! Worse’n that, he didn’t even try to defend himself; he just started whackin’ on one like he hadn’t a care in the world. So they tore him up somethin’ awful. Llew tried to help, but they were tough buggers, ’n’ Alembic stepped back and got off his rolly waterball spell, but it only got a couple of ‘em, and we were facin’ 7: 4 guards and 3 demon-thingies. ‘Cept the demon-thingies seemed to be affected by one o’ the circles but not the other. Can’t say I understood it at all, but one is better’n none.
So I managed to get a flank with Forth, ’n’ I stabbed one of the guards and willed his protective spells to go away (it’s something I can do if I’m feelin’ ornery, and Forth was bleedin’ so much I was feelin’ awfully ornery) and he turned into some really pretty demon-lady in guard’s clothing. So I didn’t feel so bad ‘bout stabbin’ her at all. But she had that tough skin that said it was goin’ to be a looong fight.
O’course, then they all started tearin’ up Forth again, and he dropped again, and considerin’ all the blood ’n’ pieces I figured we were out a few thousand gold again, but it was startin’ to happen so often I couldn’t even really get mad about it any more; just more of an, “Oh, there he goes again,” moment. I’m goin’ to have to talk to that dwarf. Once he’s alive, o’course. Talkin’ to him when he’s dead doesn’t do much good to anyone.

I moved into the middle o’ the group of ‘em ‘cause I figured that was the only way to protect Llew ’n’ Alembic, ’n’ they got all grabby at me but I’m pretty dodgy when I want to be, so it all seemed pretty good… ’til Alembic said he was goin’ to drop ‘em all into a pit around me and I said that was a fine idea, ‘cept he did it when I was only on one foot so I ended up fallin’ into the pit with one o’ the demon guys. So I don’t rightly know what was goin’ on topside after that. I know that Forth was dead (or near enough not to matter), Llew was busy choppin’ up 6 guys (she’d dropped one of ‘em while I was watchin’), and Alembic had just dropped me in a pit full o’ acid.
So, the fall didn’t hurt ‘cause I can make myself fall all light-like, but the acid hurt like heck, and I was swimmin’ in it ‘cause I couldn’t touch the bottom! Fortunately, I’m a pretty good swimmer so I could swim ’n’ pull out Spidey, then use Spidey ’n’ start climbin’ out. The demon guy tried to grab me ’n’ hit me ’n’ such, but I’d used Shieldy ’n’ Llew’d used some spell on me, so he really didn’t have a chance and I left him in the pit.

Once I was topside, Forth was still dead, Alembic was nowhere to be seen, and Llew was takin’ on the other 5 guys alone. So I helped her out. Her circle was holdin’ off the demon guys, so she did something so I could hear her mind, which was really pretty cool, and that helped us wipe the walls with the last three demon ladies, and durin’ that time the other demons vanished, so we ended up winnin’. ‘Cept dead Forth. Once everythin’ was dead Alembic showed up and claimed he’d been killin’ invisible demons. I’m gullible, but not that gullible.

I tried to cut off all the demon-ladies’ heads, but I couldn’t cut through their skins, so Llew did it for me. Made me feel better. Then we searched the camp and found all kinds o’ incriminatin’ evidence: Apparently the demon-ladies were succubi, and they could make people their willin’ slaves if the people’d accept a “profane gift” from ‘em. And they’d convinced all kinds o’ people to accept their “gifts”: Not just the guards, but several o’ the high-up Cheliaxians in town, including Heddy’s advisor and some higher-ups in the Asmodean temple. In other words, all the people who’d skedaddled at the first sign o’ trouble. I didn’t know much about how the rest o’ the law worked, but I did know that Asmodeus wouldn’t take kindly to his clerics acceptin’ profane gifts from demons, so I figured we at least had to show the books to Jocelyn, ‘cause it’d make her happy, and I liked her, evil ’n’ all.

We teleported back to town with the records, and the people all started wailin’ when they saw Forth dead, but we reassured ‘em he did it all the time, and it was part o’ his combat tactics, and then we started countin’ our cash to see whether we could bring him back again; I figured the clerics’d probably be willing to cast the spells for free, but there was still 6000 gp worth of diamond dust to round up…

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Session 28, Played 28-Oct-2018

Once we had the staff, we had to wait a couple o' hours 'til Jocelyn could pray for her magic, so Llew decided she was goin' to take a nap. I wandered off to purchase some alchemicals, including a cool little bead that'd protect us in a wall o' force if things went bad, and a wayfinder, just 'cause they look cool and I wanted to try one out. Once we were reconvened, Llew asked Alembic if she could try out the staff, but it didn't glow for her. She said she was an orphan, so she was just curious. Hey! I'm an orphan to! I asked Alembic if I could hold the staff and he just said, "No," not even a good lie or anythin'. So I figured it was another "gnomes and fire" thing. As we approached the temple, Forth suggested that I order the Hellknight to stay in town 'n' guard the temple, so I figured I would. And I even remembered to! I pulled out Heddy's writ 'n' all, and showed it to the Hellknight, 'n' asked him if he could read, 'n' he could, so I had him read it and then ordered him to guard the temple. And he said he didn't have to obey the king, but he'd guard the temple anyway, so whatever. This Lawful stuff never ends well.

We got Jocelyn and she was all dolled up Asmodeus-style with spiky armor 'n' such, and I started tryin' to be all nice 'n' chatty with her, makin' my armor look like my old orphanage clothes and givin' her the proper greetin's 'n' such, but Llew said it was Quiet Time 'cause she needed to talk to Jocelyn. I hate Quiet Time. But Llew only asks me when it's important, so I managed to stay quiet for a minute or two.

While I was quiet, Llew told Jocelyn she had some kind o' draught of Pharasma (at least I think that's how to spell it -- maybe it was a draft, but it looked all liquidy 'n' stuff, 'n' not all all like a "draft"), and it'd make sure the Remove Disease worked on the rats the first time. Something'r other happened between 'em, but I'd been tryin' to lick my eye so I wasn't quite sure, but the gist of it was that if Jocelyn didn't drink the draught and we still won, then the gods'd take notice of us or somethin'. But if she did drink the draught 'n' we won, the gods wouldn't care. Considerin' how much "notice" I was gettin' already, I wasn't sure I wanted any more, but I figured the others were closer to their gods than I was to Calistria ('cept Alembic, whom I suspect worships a sock in a drawer in his manor somewhere), so I figured they'd decide 'n' let me know. Jocelyn made sure she had her scrolls o' Control Water, Alembic had his staff, and the rest of us, well, we were ready as we were ever going to be. So Alembic summoned some o' the Phantom Steeds I like so much (this time I got purple, 'cause we weren't tryin' to hide or anythin'), and even Jocelyn got one, and she knew how to ride 'n' everything.

So it was pretty easy ridin' out to the log jam, even at night, 'cause there was a moon 'n' such, and even Forth couldn't much miss a big ol' pile o' logs in the middle o' the river, and we heard it before we saw it, so we could start gettin' ourselves ready for the big fight. Alembic made us fly, Llew gave me a circle to protect my brain, and Alembic put that stony skin stuff on us to protect us a bit, then we flew over to take a look-see. Unfortunately, the pesky rat-thing'd found some captives, and there were four people tied down on the logs strugglin' to get loose, and occasionally rats would bite 'em. Yeah, I know, I know. "How did the rats tie knots?" I was wonderin' the same thing. But there were those wererat guys, and I was bettin' either they weren't nearly as willin' to turn over a new leaf as Forth thought, or it really could control 'em and it made 'em do it. Either way, 'parently it didn't care for Alembic's fireballs all that much and had done somethin' about it.
Well, people were tied up, so I knew it was my job to get 'em out o' there, even if it got all squirmy 'n' bitey 'n' wet and all kinds o' other adjectives. So I flew down low to see how hard it'd be, and it looked like I could just cut 'em loose, so I greased up, landed ever-so-gently on the first prisoner's log. Worked great! Right up 'til I cut the ropes and the prisoner was loose. *I* was quiet, but the prisoner? Not so much.

So... imagine someone's playin' a practical joke on you. And they've glued pine cones all over your body, and I mean all over, and not the nice squishy pine cones that you can crush in your hands, but spiny, sharp, nasty, hard pine cones. Then they kicked you off a steep hill through a bunch o' cactuses. Cactuses covered with thick spider webs. With spiders. Bitey spiders. And you had asthma. And had to pee. OK. Maybe not the having to pee part.
But that's about how much gettin' swarmed by a bunch o' god-sent disease-carryin' maybe-undead-maybe-not-'cause-I-really-don't-know rats bitin' you all over every part o' your body 'cause you had the audacity to free one o' their prisoners hurt.

It wasn't fun. If it hadn't been for Alembic's protections, I think it might've been lethal.

Forth did somethin' that made me feel all paladin-y, 'n' it was kind o' cool, 'n' I heard a Fireball go off so I knew Alembic was helpin', and since Llew wasn't makin' any noise but I heard a bow goin' I knew she was in there, and the whole log jam stopped so I figured Jocelyn'd stopped the river up. The rats kept up their chewin' but I managed to pick up the guy 'n' get him out alive by flyin' out o' their reach, 'n' blissfully once most of 'em had fallen off, Alembic's stoneskin thingy kept the rest from hurtin' me at all. As I was droppin' my guy off in a tree, Forth used some kind o' spell to free a gnome all done up in Asmodean duds (so wrong I didn't even want to ponder it), but he couldn't even run across a series o' logs without fallin' over. Sorry excuse for a gnome. I told him to be better, but he just spewed some obscenities at me, so I was done with him. Forth, bein' Forth, flew on in and started bashin' at all the rats. Seems like a dumb idea to me, too, but with his smitin' and his magic hammer 'n' his bein' a dwarf 'n' all, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, o' rats dyin' with every blow. Llew was bein' more sensible and shootin' the thing with arrows, and maybe she was killin' tens o' rats instead o' hundreds, but she wasn't gettin' eaten, either. Alembic was droppin' Fireballs all over the place, and they were the special kind that didn't hurt Forth, so he was doing almost as good as Forth was, or maybe better.
'Cept Forth was lookin' bad. I landed next to the second captive I was goin' to rescue (not the gnome!) and tried to taunt the rats to come get me again (not my smartest idea ever), but they liked Forth better 'n' kept biting him.

We kept fightin', 'n' Jocelyn called out that the god-rat-thingy wasn't doin' so well, so should she drink the draught or not? Llew asked Forth how long he could hold out, and he said he could last a little longer, but then she made the mistake of askin' him what he thought we should do, 'n' he said we should kill it. So Jocelyn drank the draught, Forth, Llew, and Alembic dropped the rat thingy, and I didn't even manage to make it to the second prisoner. Jocelyn flew in and did her thing and killed it permanent-like, so I figured we'd won, but Alembic 'n' Llew 'n' Jocelyn seemed a little disappointed it was so easy. I was just as happy not to get covered with rats again.
We freed up the prisoner, 'n' me 'n' the gnome didn't kill each other, so there was that, 'n' we took 'em all back to town on our MAGIC HORSES THAT CAN WALK ON WATER!!! And no, the gnome didn't get to ride on MY horse. 'Cause he was a cuss.

The first thing I noticed when we got back to town was that there weren't any bands playin'. I was kind o' disappointed, but it was near midnight, so I figured the humans'd probably objected, what with them wantin' sleep 'n' all. I yelled out to try to start 'em up again, but Llew clamped down 'n' told me it was "Shut Up Time" again. She then thanked each and every one of us personally. Jocelyn smiled at me and tried to get a rise out o' me by tellin' me that I do a great job o' followin' orders. It was a good play for an Asmodean, but she just doesn't get the gnome mind. Neither do I, but I figured all I was doin' was listenin' to sensible advice, not followin' orders, so whatever.

We napped for a couple o' hours, but then it was time to get up 'n' go find out what new bad news Jacob had for us. I found one o' his runners 'n' tried to pull a fast one on Jocelyn by usin' my writ to order that she get all her mundane stuff for free for a week, 'cause I thought Lawful people'd hate that, but even I figured I'd messed up after only a few minutes o' thinkin' on it. Oh, well, Heddy's problem, not mine!

We met up with Jacob 'n' Jeremiah 'n' went over all the reports that came in, and there wasn't any terrible new news, but as I was over at the map lookin' it over 'n' writin' "Trig ate a bug here" on it 'n' tryin' to figure out a color they hadn't already used to add 'n' such, I noticed there were two big circular areas where all the reports were comin' back hunky-dory, which really didn't make any sense 'cause there was trouble everywhere else. So we had somethin' new to look into! 'Cept first we had some catapults to deal with.
Once we'd got the reports, the two of 'em looked us over, 'cause two o' the prisoners had boobonic plague, which apparently makes your boobs fall off, but I didn't figure guys'd have trouble with that, but they were checking us. Good job it wasn't a touchy kind o' thing, 'cause humans aren't my type, but apparently my girls were safe.
I went to resupply and get some grease 'n' antiplague, 'n' Alembic shelled out for the antiplague. Y'know, he really isn't such a bad guy once you get over the hump, and now that he had that staff even that was gone...

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Session 27, Played 21-Oct-2018

We rode our phantom steeds 'cross hill 'n' dale 'n' river 'n' puddle 'n' any little spot o' water I could find (did I mention Alembic's help was growin' on me?) 'til we figured we were maybe an hour or so away from the unicorns' advance, then I handed out potions o' seein' in the dark 'n' antitoxin to make sure we wouldn't get poisoned, 'n' we rode a bit farther 'til we were pretty sure we were within an hour of 'em, then we drank all our potions. For the seein' in the dark it didn't matter much 'cause the vendor'd told me that potion would last hours, but for the antitoxin it was kind o' important to cut it as close as possible, 'cause the stuff only lasts an hour. Fortunately, it was a lot less'n an hour before Llew spotted 'em, 'cause they were just runnin' along in an open field, casual as you please, like some great undead horde o' death just comin' down to raze a city. 'Cept there were only eight of 'em, so they weren't so much a "horde" as a "mildly irritatin' flock". 'Cept I don't think unicorns come in flocks. Herds? No; sounds too mundane. I'll call 'em flurbellums!

So this flurbellum o' undead unicorns was comin' at us, and o'course Alembic doesn't care for subtlety, so he started castin' right away, so I figured the jig was up anyway and I used Shieldy on myself. Sure enough, the unicorns turned and headed towards us. Alembic made us all fast, then flew up outta reach. I'd call him a coward, but I didn't particularly want to get trampled so I'd probably've done it too. Forth moved up like he was goin' to take 'em all on himself, leaving Llew all alone in the back, so I moved up behind Forth 'n' ducked down in the grass so they couldn't see me, figurin' if one ran past Forth and towards Llew I'd be able to get in a stab or two before it got her. Llew started doin' some magicky inquisitor stuff that I don't understand.

Sure enough, the first unicorn spread darkness in front of itself, which didn't work all that well 'cause o' my potions, then it came runnin' right past Forth 'n' he hit it, then it kept on goin' past me so I got in a couple o' stabs, and its dead-undead corpse went skitterin' all the way back to Llew. She didn't yell at me, so I figured it was all right. Once we were all in the open, though, four of 'em came runnin' up to attack Forth, two of 'em came for me, and one of 'em made it all the way back to Llew. They used their glowy horns on me 'n' Forth, but other than tinglin' a bit it didn't seem to affect me all that much, which is really kind o' weird 'cause everything affects me.

Llew just out-and-out killed the one that'd run up to her, so I figured the rest of 'em were probably fair game. 'Course, I guess the one that had attacked her had a moment to regret its unlife choices, but it wasn't very long. Alembic dropped a Fireball on the rest of 'em, and I was all ready to try to dodge it 'cept it kind o' went around me 'n' Forth, and just hit the unicorns. Neat trick, Alembic!

Unfortunately, Forth's head just wasn't in the fight. I mean, what with unicorns bein' a dwarf's natural enemy 'n' all, I could see him bein' a bit discombobulated, and I'm sure undead unicorns made it even worse, but he barely even tapped one. I figured he needed help so I waved my dagger at one o' the ones in front o' me and danced over to help him. 'Cept I didn't know they were smart. Until they all ignored me and ganged up on Forth. Oops. A couple of 'em did their horny things on Forth, and he suddenly paled a bit and said he'd been poisoned somehow. A couple o' the others stabbed him a bit, but he didn't seem to mind much. Llew did some more magicky stuff 'n' it healed Forth, Alembic Fireballed 'em again (and it went around us again), and they started droppin' like undead unicorns. There were only three left 'n' Forth finally got into his groove 'n' killed two of 'em, so I checked in with Llew and she said it was OK so I killed the last one.

We spent about an hour gatherin' up their bodies. OK, yeah, it's the royal "we", 'cause I didn't even help 'cause I'm not big like that, so Llew 'n' Forth did almost all o' the heavy liftin' 'n' draggin'. I didn't ask why Alembic wasn't helpin', 'cause I figure he's got back issues or somethin', but eventually we got 'em in enough of a pile to make a pyre 'n' burn 'em. While they were workin', Forth got out his keg o' ale and started drinkin' like it was the hottest, thirstiest work he'd ever done. I figured once we were back in town I'd get him somethin' nicer, 'cause he's earned it, and I know dwarves like to drink a lot. I figure their beards must absorb a lot o' the alcohol so they have to drink more'n the rest of us. Llew said that their horns (the undead unicorns' horns, not the dwarves' beards' horns) were evil 'n' corrupt 'n' wouldn't burn (though I'm bettin' you could say the same thing 'bout dwarves' beards), so she carefully cut 'em all off without touchin' 'em and put 'em in a bag for safekeeping 'til she could get to the temple and turn 'em over. 'Cause apparently the temple o' Pharasma even knows how to deal with undead unicorn horns. Versatile folk! I should hang out there more often!

With our immediate work done, Alembic teleported us back to town so we could all take care of our business before we had to go deal with the rat raft tomorrow. I replenished my stores, and Llew 'n' Alembic donated so I'd carry a little extra. Since that didn't take a lot o' time and I was bored, I went over to Jacob and convinced him that we needed to organize a bunch o' marchin' bands to wander 'round the city, playin' cheerful music to frighten off all the evil spirits. He knew it was a lie, and I knew it was a lie, but he was a good sport about it and started gettin' it all organized, and I figured people were goin' to need all the morale they could muster come the day after tomorrow, so a bit o' pointless lively music in the middle of the night'd be just the thing. I know it cheered me up to hear it, and it helped me sleep like a wee angel!

Once I'd arranged for the bands to play, I started askin' where I could find good dwarven liquor, and it turns out dwarves drink a LOT more'n I thought they did -- everyone just told me to go to any old tavern and ask for dwarven liquor 'n' they'd have it. I tried askin' 'bout good dwarven liquor, but apparently dwarves can't taste all that much through their beards 'n' all, so the quality doesn't much matter. So I went to a tavern and asked 'em all charmin'-like to give me the best dwarven liquor they had, but it was still only 50 gold pieces, so either dwarves are really frugal 'n' don't like to spend money on alcohol like humans do, or more'n likely dwarves'll drink anything. Watchin' Forth, I figured it was the latter. So I got the keg all done up in a bow all nice-like, then let myself into his room. I figured I had the permission slip from the Asmodean temple in Logas in case I got 'caught, and if it didn't apply I'd just tell 'em that as a gnome I have the right not to know what the heck is goin' on with the law, 'cause I think that's the honest truth. Anyhoo, Forth wasn't any more perceptive'n usual, and his lock wasn't any better-made 'n' usual, so it was easy enough to put the big ol' keg on his bed so he'd find it when he went up to his room. Really, for all that effort the hardest part was carryin' the darned keg. Alcohol weighs a TON! And Forth'd probably drink the whole thing in a day, the way he was guzzlin' the stuff. But I figured he knew better'n I did what was good for 'im, so I'd leave it for him and consider my good deed done for the day.
Plus the bands.

I woke to the lovely tune o' marching bands, but then I realized they'd probably been up all night playin' away, and that wouldn't be good for their morale, so I thought o' askin' Jacob to swap 'em out and choose some more players who might not be as good, but who might be better-rested, but I figured the town'd had enough music for now, so I sent a runner to tell Jacob that morale was probably fixed at the moment, or whatever it was that I told him the night before when I convinced him to do it. Forth was really late to breakfast again, but all we had on our agenda for the day was the raft-o-rats, which is a lot more fun to say than to deal with. So while we were waitin' for Forth we started talkin' 'bout it. I didn't like it at all; every attack so far had been well-planned: The giants to knock down the wall. The unicorns to teleport through the wall. The ballista to break down the wall. And this one was just... rats? Somethin' was awfully, awfully wrong here. But I couldn't figure it out and breakfast was tasty so I soon forgot about it, and Forth got up and Alembic made us phantom steeds and I made mine brown with green stripes 'cause we'd be in the forest and I figured eventually I'd figure this 'camouflage' thing out!

We rode up the river towards the logs all cocksure of ourselves, and as soon as we saw 'em Alembic made sure we could all fly, then let out a Fireball to let 'em know we were coming. We flew over to the logs and pretty much saw nothin'. Llew 'n' I looked real hard, and thought we saw a couple o' rat swarms, but they didn't seem like a heck of a lot; certainly not enough to be much of a threat to a city. There were probably more hidin' down below, or maybe under the water, but none of us wanted to go down there and find out. So we kind o' hovered there, wonderin' what to do. I suggested gettin' some scrolls o' Control Water to drain the river so the rats'd have to come out, but nobody liked that idea so we didn't do it. Alembic didn't want to waste more Fireballs on rats he couldn't see, and Forth couldn't do much of anythin'. So we kept lookin' 'round, and eventually some o' the logs got caught against a bank, and a little guy with a pole started pushin' it back in. Alembic, feelin' downright ornery at that point, shot the little guy and he turned into a rat and ran back into the logs!! So, I knew there were s'posed to be wererats on the logs, but I'd never seen one before, and it kind o' takes you aback a bit when a little guy turns into a little rat and scurries off. After all this time, more 'n' more rat swarms were showin' up on top o' the logs, so Forth flew down low and channeled energy at 'em. I was openin' my mouth to tell him that wasn't goin' to work 'cause rat swarms aren't undead, but the swarms keeled over 'n' died so I guess Forth knew undead better'n me. Go figure. He called out that somethin' was speakin' in his head, so I ran over to Llew and asked her (OK, kind o' "Screamed and begged her") to protect my brain, 'cause gnome 'n' all, and she did. Then the voice called out for all the rats in the surroundin' wilderness to help, and thousands and millions o' rats started comin' off the banks and onto the raft, so Alembic figured it was worth another Fireball, but we were dealin' with somethin' that could summon more rats than Alembic could kill in a day, and we still hadn't seen hide nor hair of it to figure out what the heck it was! I was gettin' pretty frustrated, but Llew was just starin' intently at the raft, tryin' to figure out where the voice was comin' from. Forth was detectin' evil, and at the same time callin' out that anyone who wanted to surrender could, and he could cure 'em of their lycanthropy, so one guy stood up and said that sounded good to him, and all the rats around him swarmed over him and ate him down to the bone. So I guess we were gonna see more o' Forth drinkin' that night. Glad I got him a good keg!
I was bored, 'n' I spotted the other wererats hidin', so I hit one with some alchemist's fire just to give us somethin' to do, and he started shootin' back, so at least the two of us weren't bored. But Llew pointed out that Forth'd be unhappy if I killed him before giving Forth a chance to cure him, so I just kind o' dodged arrows.

After a couple o' hours (OK, maybe a couple o' minutes, but it sure as heck seemed like hours), Llew finally spotted what was causin' all the trouble: It was some kind o' giant rat swarm, in the sense that it was a good 20' across, and full o' undead rats. Alembic Glitterdusted it so we could all see it, so I hit it with some alchemist's fire, but it didn't bother it, 'cause o' course not. Once we could all see it, LLew 'n' Forth put their heads together, and the news wasn't good: This was some kind o' god-sent swarm summoned by Urgathoa herself to kill things. It can constantly create rat swarms, and it can't be killed unless you disperse it, then cast a real powerful Cure Disease on it so it doesn't come back. Forth didn't think he could do it. It'd 'bout half-kill us every time it bit us, meanin' common soldiers had no chance (we're tough little buggers), it could run faster'n me, and if it bit you at all you'd become a wererat under its control, kind o' explainin' all the boathands. (Loghands?) Since we didn't have the means to kill it, we fled back to town, figurin' we needed some heavy-duty firepower.

Llew 'n' I went to see Jocelyn, the priestess of Asmodeus. There was a hellknight out front, so I teased him and he glowered at me so it was all good, 'n' Llew told me not to tease the hellknight but it's what you do; I know, I was raised by Asmodeans. I started talkin' to Jocelyn 'bout Asmodeans 'n' scarrin' and showed her that I'd learned how to do the greetin' right 'n' everythin', but Llew actually wanted to talk 'bout business 'n' such so I let her. Once Jocelyn heard what was up she was happy to help. I figured it was 'cause if she died she'd be a hero, 'n' if she lived she'd be a hero, and sure enough all she wanted from us was to let people know an Asmodean was helpin' us. Typical stuff. Like I wouldn't have blurted it out anyway. "Yeah, we brought an Asmodean with us, but she slipped on a rock and fell into the rats and got eaten before we could get out a, 'By your leave,' so we had to order a new one."

She knew what she was gettin' into when she told a gnome to tell her story. It meant she was confident. So I liked her.
We left an' I told the hellknight I hadn't broken anythin' and gave him a big wink. Didn't get him to attack me, but I think I was pretty close. Gotta test their discipline; it's good for 'em. We met up with Alembic and he'd been lookin' for a staff o' fireballs or some such, but nobody wanted to sell him one. He was sure there was one in town, so I figured as long as we were gettin' fire I might as well go all in and I asked 'bout a Necklace o' Fireballs. You'd've thought a gnome was askin' 'bout purchasin' a Necklace o' Fireballs within city limits or somethin' the way the vendor paled 'n' screamed that there were none in the city. So that didn't much help my case when I asked 'bout the staff 'n' he told me there was nothin' that made fire in the whole town. Yeah, I didn't call him on it.
Forth met up with us 'n' told us the clerics o' Torag could help with the healin' and the disease-removin', but they were no match for the rat thing comin' our way. Looked like it was Jocelyn or no one.

Alembic was still obsessin' 'bout his fire staff, so we decided to go talk to Jacob. He'd never even heard o' such a thing, but Jarrod (the high priest) had, 'cause it's what King Heddy was usin' as a sceptre. He wished us luck gettin' it out o' Heddy's hands, so we thanked him. We headed over to the castle, an' I told everyone to avoid the maze 'cause we were in a hurry. The guards let us in right quick but they seemed a bit out o' sorts; I have to remember to send a marchin' band their way one o' these days. On the other hand, Heddy was happy to see us, and I was happy to see him, and he'd heard 'bout my bands and he thought it was a marvelous idea! He asked what we needed, 'n' I told him we needed his sceptre 'cause we needed to burn rats 'n' save the city 'n' make him the hero of the city (nice one, Llew!), and I called on Calistria and turned my eyes on as big 'n' deep as I could possibly make 'em and I felt Her magic passin' through me 'n' into Heddy 'n' he just said, "OK," and handed me the staff. Said I was very convincin'. So we thanked him and headed out, 'n' I gave Alembic the staff and he straightened right up 'n' started walkin' proud 'n' the staff started glowin' 'n' such. Geez, if he'd just needed a back brace I could've confiscated one for 'im.

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Session 26, Played 07-Oct-2018:

As we were wrappin' up our shoppin', and it was still pretty early (I hadn't seen Forth yet), a runner came up dressed all fancy-like, and I figured he was comin' from someone pretty mean to make him dress like that and try to run all over the city. 'Cept I didn't see any symbols o' Asmodeus on 'im, so maybe he was just a bit dim. Anyhoo, he spotted us right quick, 'cause it's hard not to see a big albino travelin' with a dwarf, a gnome, and a hunchback, even if the dwarf is missin', so he came on over and told us he had a message for us from the king! So, I didn't rightly know that we had any king, so I was startin' to wonder exactly which king and from where, but Alembic straightened his back on up (and I didn't hear any cracklin' or snappin', though I expected it so I kind o' covered my ears), and seemed all resentful 'n' such, so I figured it had to be a king Alembic didn't like, which probably meant I'd get along with him just fine. Alembic muttered somethin' 'bout "not a king", but Llew wanted me to look over the invitation with the eyes o' Calistria, which I didn't rightly understand but I did it anyway 'cause I like Llew 'n' such, and I got this idea that the invitation was bein' all polite 'n' such by tellin' us to come at our leisure, instead o' orderin' us to come. 'Course, if they'd ordered us to do it I wouldn't've shown up, or maybe I'd've snuck in and stolen his chairs, so it was probably smarter of him to be polite in any case.

Anyhoo, since we weren't doin' anything fun anyway, we decided to go pay a visit to the king. Whom I liked calling a king 'cause it made Alembic wince for reasons I didn't understand, which made it even more fun. Speakin' of fun, Llew gave me permission to go wake up Forth, so I went into his room (I forget whether or not he locked his door, 'cause it really didn't matter much anyway). It was kind o' hard dodgin' all the flagons 'n' barrels 'n' whatnot strewn about the floor, but considerin' the number of nekkid gnomes I might or might not have left strewn about my floor, I wasn't one to criticize. He was snorin' up a storm, and I realized he was sleepin' so deep he might not wake up in time to constrain his beard should it choose to assail me, so I first got out a bunch o' twine I carry around for no reason at all and made sure to tie off his beard all secure-like, but I was really careful so as not to wake it up. Once I was sure his beard was tamed and caged, I jumped up and started bouncin' on his chest. He groaned most satisfyingly and tried to get up, but I'd done too good a job on his beard so he groaned a bit more and told me he was up and would I please free his beard? That's what I love about Forth: He knows his beard scares me somethin' awful, so he forgives me my precautions. I cut his beard loose and it didn't even snap at me so I figured we were good for the mornin', and I let myself out so's Forth could bathe 'n' dress 'n' armor himself 'n' such. I didn't lock the door, 'cause I didn't know whether Forth'd be able to get out if I did, and I knew he didn't like ladders and I didn't want to stress him.

I went down and met up with Llew 'n' Alembic, and Forth came down a bit after that. We showed Forth the invitation and he didn't think it was a bad idea either, so everyone else started gettin' dressed up to go meet the king, and I decided on a nice fuchsia dress with lime green polka dots 'cause I figured it would offset my hair so nicely. Then I hid a bunch o' daggers about my personage 'cause a girl can never be too careful that way. We went to the castle/keep/whatever thingy (I'm sure Forth or Alembic would've happily told me what it was, but I didn't want to know, so I didn't ask), and we showed the soldier there our invitations, and he seemed all snarky 'bout the king calling himself a king, but what else would you call a king, and he let us in to go see King Hedvund VI. Alembic tried to explain that Hedvund wasn't really a king, but it was boring so I didn't listen. We went past the big hall where Hedvund was holding court, 'cept I guess it wasn't 'court' according to Alembic since he wasn't a king, so maybe it was 'curt', or 'ourt', or even 'urt' 'cause that's fun to say, but we got led past there and into some small side room that was all comfy and had all kinds o' squishy furniture to jump on but I didn't 'cause I knew Llew 'n' Forth wouldn't like it and I was feelin' like behavin' a bit that mornin'. Someone brought us refreshments and they weren't poisoned, so I relaxed a little. There was a really neat-looking maze outside, and I really wanted to jump out the window and run around in it, but I knew I was s'posed to stick around and meet the king. Eventually Hedvund came in and explained something about Cheliax and advisers and that people who were uppity called him a "Steward", and people who weren't called him "King". I asked whether I could call him "Heddy" and he said that was fine, so I decided I liked 'im, even if he talked too much 'bout things I didn't understand.

'Bout as far as I could tell, Heddy'd been in charge for a while, but some Cheliaxian guy'd been his "advisor" the whole time, and he'd skedaddled 'bout two weeks ago along with all the rest o' the Cheliaxians in town. Sounded 'bout right for Asmodeus and Cheliax: Put someone expendable in charge, pull out the important people, and you win either way. So Heddy'd been a rich local (non-Chelaxian) merchant and after the Goblinblood wars Cheliax'd put him in charge and given 'im a keeper. He complained 'bout Jacob, Jeremiah, and Jocelyn. Lots o' J's. I was pretty sure Jacob and Jeremiah we'd met at the temple of Pharasma, but I didn't remember a Jocelyn. We'd have to ask around.

In terms of defending Eledir, he was stockpiling water and bringin' in refugees, but he needed help and he knew it (see? Good king!), and gave us each a piece o' paper that said that anything we did was in the steward's name in defense o' the city and the country. Did I say, "Good king?" I meant, "Great king!" And I'm beginnin' to have a strong fondness for papers that give me permission to do things. Forth asked me to promise not to abuse the power, and I couldn't look 'im in the eye and make a promise like that, so I just told him so. I don't think he appreciated me bein' honest right then 'n' there right in front o' the king, but the king seemed pretty happy. So Llew did her alignment stuff on him and sure enough he was Chaotic Good, just like me! No wonder we were such good friends! I was glad Eledir had such a sensible guy in charge in its hour of need!
Heddy didn't know of any secret tunnels into or out o' the city, 'cause after the Goblinblood wars tunnels were a pretty stupid thing for humans to build, and dwarves'd built all the walls 'n' gates so they were guaranteed solid, too. 'Specially when glued shut, I'd imagine.

The king dismissed us after a while, and my first act in defense o' the city was to jump out the window 'n' into the maze. 'Cause security. So I wandered around for a bit, enjoyin' myself, 'til I got bored. Then I tried to find my way out. And I couldn't. Didn't surprise me much, 'cause I can't find my way out of a grassy spot 10 feet from a trail, so I wasn't really worried. I had plenty o' provisions, and a lot o' daggers, but I'd been hopin' to meet some groundskeepers or common folk to ask 'bout the king, but the place was totally deserted! If you'd put a maze like this in a gnome town, it'd have had 100-200 gnomes runnin' down every passage. 'Til it burned down, o' course, but that would've taken 5, maybe even 10 minutes!

Anyhoo, after a while o' searchin' for people 'n' not findin' any, and a while o' searchin' for a way out and not findin' any, I decided it was time to cheat 'n' leave, so I pulled out Spidey and put Spider Climb on myself and walked up to the top o' one o' the hedges. And there was maze in all directions, as far as the eye could see! No castle, no city, not even a sun in the sky to give me a sense o' direction. Just a big, infinite, featureless maze.
So I figured I was in some kind o' spell.
I'm a patient girl, so I just started doin' what comes naturally for a gnome, and runnin' in all directions screamin' my head off and slashin' at branches 'n' stuff. And apparently I got the maze kind o' mad at me 'cause it wasn't more'n a minute or two after I started that that it spat me out.

Gnomes. We know how to make ourselves unwelcome.

I found myself on the edge o' town, so I figured I had to find Llew 'n' Forth 'n' even Alembic, so I looked around and saw a human boy playin' with a dog. The dog looked 'bout big enough to ride, so I changed into somethin' somewhat resemblin' the uniform o' all the Eledir guards, and I showed my writ to the kid 'n' told 'im I was confiscatin' his dog in the name o' the city. He wasn't too happy with me, 'til I tried climbin' on the dog's back and it started runnin' off with me and I started screamin' 'n' holdin' on for dear life and suddenly the boy thought I was the best confiscator ever and started chasin' us, 'n' the dog saw the boy runnin' 'n' got all excited 'n' started runnin' in circles with me on its back. So after a while, we settled down to a game o' fetch for a bit, then I was pretty tired o' confiscatin' so I asked the boy to take me back to the center o' town and he did, and once I saw Forth 'n' Llew 'n' Alembic I went ahead and fell off the dog into the mud, 'cause it was comfier there.
So there I was, covered in scratches 'n' leaves 'n' twigs 'n' thorns 'n' mud 'n' hair, smellin' like dog, with a writ that said I'd done it all to defend Isger.
I love my king!

Apparently while I was gone, Llew 'n' Forth 'n' Alembic didn't sit around pinin' for me, which was kind o' hurtful, but they found out some useful stuff. Llew 'n' Alembic went to the temple o' Asmodeus and learned that the woman in charge there was named Jocelyn. Mystery solved! 'Cept there was more to it 'bout how all the Asmodeans'd been ordered to evacuate 2 weeks ago, too, and Jocelyn was the typical Asmodean sacrifice, ordered to stay in town and defend the city. 'Cause that way if she succeeded, Asmodeus'd look good. And if she failed, they could say they'd tried. Same thing with Cheliax. 'Parently they didn't like sharin' Isger with the neighbors, so they were hopin' the undead army'd succeed so they could declare Isger well 'n' truly conquered by undead, then come back in 'n' take it back all for themselves. They even had a fortress full o' hellknights all set up to do it. Citadel Altaerela or somethin'. Kind o' smart... if you're an inhuman monster who doesn't care a thing about all the people who are goin' to suffer and die 'cause o' your greed! I swear, all o' Cheliax must consist o' inbred Jeggares!

While Llew 'n' Alembic were visitin' the temple of Asmodeus, Forth was visitin' the temple o' Torag. He spoke 'bout as much as usual 'bout how he didn't learn much from 'em.
So Llew took us all to see Jacob at the temple o' Pharasma, and he seemed more upset 'bout my writ than anything else. There's no accountin' for taste! I tried to use the writ to make him have four of his men carry me around in a litter, 'cause I'd never been in a litter before, but Forth said if I'd stop he'd carry me around on his back in an old wooden box, so I got to ride around in my very own litter box, and it was fun enough that I wasn't mad.

We patrolled the city, me in my litter box, but we didn't find anythin' out of place, so it would've been really boring if I'd been walking. As it was, I got to change my outfit every block, and wave at the kids, and make faces, and juggle, and put on clown makeup, and it was pretty fun. Forth's a good mount. Eventually we got bored and went back to our inn to sleep for the night. I considered invitin' up a bunch o' gnomes "for the good o' the city", but I was kind o' tired, and doin' the same thing two nights in a row is boring, so I just had a bath and went to bed.

In the morning, Jacob came by. He looked awful, so Forth laid hands on him to heal him up. He'd received scouting reports he felt we ought to hear. So we came with him to hear 'em, 'cause it's what's done. The first team reported that there were 6 heavy barges about 3 days out, all carrying heavy catapults and special ammunition; they figured once those catapults got in range, the city's walls wouldn't stand a chance. Sink barges. Check. I figured I had a lot o' underwater potions 'n' scrolls left over from other adventures, so sabotaging a barge'd be easy enough. The barge was defended by zombies with bows, but you can't shoot underwater and you can't shoot what you can't see, so I was pretty confident we'd be able to deal with the barge.

The next report was from Beatrone, an angry human woman in a breastplate. Three o' the biggest stone giants she'd ever seen were approachin' fast from the north, all zombified, and likely to arrive tonight or tomorrow mornin'. Sounded like we were goin' giant killin'. Turns out she was angry 'cause they threw rocks and killed a third o' her men. I stayed quiet 'cause that was horrible and I didn't want to offend her. But she said the giants'd tear through the walls like they weren't even there, so they were probably our top priority.

The third guy was a sneakthiefy sort, 'n' he recognized me 'n' made some signals as to how dangerous his mission was, and how I should sit it out 'cause it was too dangerous, but he obviously didn't know me very well 'cause I've got a big heart and I'm not goin' to hide while innocent people are in harm's way, so I listened particularly well to his tale. 'Cept it wasn't very interestin'. Someone'd cut down a bunch o' trees 'n' set 'em in the river, 'n' a bunch o' rat swarms 'n' wererats were breedin' on the big pile o' logs, 'n' it was all unnatural 'n' stuff, and we probably wouldn't be able to stop it. 'Cept fire. So I put that one low on our priority list. It sounded like it was about 2 days out, which was plenty o' time to get fifty or a hundred barrels of oil to welcome them to the river.

The final report was from Sidley, the squeaky barbarian. Yep. I kid you not. The man was bigger'n Forth's beard, and probably could've taken everyone else in the room apart, Beatrone included, but he had a squeaky little girl's voice that made me want to giggle. 'Cept I didn't. 'Cause barbarian. His people had a bunch o' black undead unicorns tearing through 'em. And the unicorns were makin' a beeline towards the hole the giants were goin' to open in the wall. Coordinated undead. Again. I was gettin' tired o' whoever was runnin' this thing. They thought things out WAAAY too much. Anyway, the unicorns used darkness 'n' poison 'n' such, and I was feelin' better 'n' better 'bout my bag o' stuff, 'cause I knew I already had some "see in the dark" potions in there somewhere. And antitoxin. 'Cause antitoxin. He told us not to get hit by the horns, but we weren't stupid, so we didn't really need the advice.

Fortunately, everybody else agreed with me that the giants were the biggest threat, so first Alembic summoned us some phantom steeds (where's the water! I want to WALK ON WATER!!!!) and we rode towards 'em. My horse was sky blue this time, 'cause I wanted to be camouflaged, and everybody started laughin' 'cause the giants'd be lookin' down at us. So, whose fault is it that the horses don't fly? Mine? Or Alembic's? When we thought we were pretty close, Alembic put somethin' on us to protect us from gettin' hurt. Alembic was sure getting downright handy to have around. I guess I'd have to excuse his hunchin' 'n' moanin' even more, 'cause he was doin' right well by us.
Once we were in sight of 'em, they were pretty big all right; fifteen or twenty feet tall, lookin' a lot like the giant at Haugin's Ear, 'cept smaller. I started wonderin' whether giants kept growin' for their whole lives, and just how big they could get. But only Alembic would know the answer, and I didn't want him to get all full o' himself, so I didn't ask.

Alembic wasn't done bein' a stand-up guy, though. He flew up into the air to get their attention, so they all threw their rocks at him. Looked like it hurt a LOT! Good on you, Alembic! That was pretty gutsy! Forth got off his steed, and Llew just kind o' decided to fall off 'cause it was faster, then I tried to get my horse to move and it wouldn't so I had to get down and run to catch up with Llew 'n' Forth. I guess Alembic was done drawin' their fire 'cause he turned invisible, but it would've been nice to have some kind o' warning so we could be ready. The giants threw a bunch o' rocks at Forth 'cause dwarf 'n' all, but he's so used to bleedin' I don't know that he much noticed.
We did the usual: I ran in to distract one, and Llew went up and hit it. Worked beautifully. Forth came in and hit the same one, and Alembic dropped a Fireball on 'em from over our heads. Yeah, they didn't like that much so they pounded on Forth some more, but Alembic's spell kept him standin', so I owed Alembic even one more thanks. Seemed to be gettin' a bit old to me.
Llew stabbed another one so I came in and finished it off, then Alembic got one. Llew 'n' Forth did a bunch o' damage to the last one, it hit Llew a bit, then I ran up and killed it.

And Llew started yellin' at me 'bout it. 'Cause she hadn't killed any of 'em, and I guess Pharasma's book says she's gotta kill one o' everything she puts in there. So, lesson learned: Let Llew kill at least one o' everything. Not that hard; she kills most everythin'; I hadn't really noticed she hadn't killed any, but she sure did. But I'm not one to get in someone else's religion.
We searched the giants but they didn't have any useful loot. We talked about goin' back to the city to rest, but we hadn't spent too many resources killin' the giants 'n' we were worried the unicorns might be able to teleport or somethin' (Alembic said that unicorns teleported, and Llew said that if unicorns could then the undead version'd be able to, too, so it was trouble.)

It was time to kill us some undead unicorns! Sounded fun! And it sounded like there were plenty enough for all of us to get one!

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Session 25, Played 23-Sep-2018:

So, I'll admit it: The thought of a town that had actual, real-life, male gnomes in it, without devils hangin' around watchin' my every move, or poppin'-in-undead tryin' to kill me at every turn, or one o' the major town families havin' it in for me, was a bit distractin'. So Llew 'n' Forth started talkin' how to take down Saskiya, and I started daydreamin' 'bout what I was goin' to do afterwards, but then I got distracted 'cause Llew started talkin' 'bout important stuff, like how to kill her. Turned out she was extra-tough unless you beat on her with a hammer, kind o' like any other skeleton 'cept stringier, and it had to be a magic hammer. I didn't have anythin' like that, but I'd heard of a bard spell that'd make Thorn act like a hammer, 'n' I asked 'n' some friendly merchant sort rounded one up for me. Saskiya also apparently could now cast big boomy spells, so I asked Llew to get a scroll to protect us from fire, 'cause I was kind o' tapped out by buyin' so many alchemicals all the time. Her touch wouldn't drain us, but she'd use necromancy spells and that spell that killed Forth (one o' those times), and her touch could paralyze us permanent-like, so Llew handed me a scroll to remove paralysis. I pointed out that I already had a potion, but she said she'd rather I had more, and I wasn't gonna argue. Unfortunately, turns out liches have some kind o' fear aura that'll make you wet your pants, so I figured I'd just change into my waterproof skivvies before the fight, 'cause gnome brain. Just to make my misery complete, 'parently she could also sense me within 30 feet even if I was hidin' or invisible. Ah, well, I was plannin' on stabbin' her anyway.
Llew asked for a scroll o' Protection from Evil, and the high priest gave her one for free! I started pipin' up, but he kind o' gave me a look and said, "We don't give gnomes stuff for free."
Speciesist! Then he started claimin' that I'd start takin' offerin's 'n' random stuff off the walls and maybe some church bugs or their smallclothes out o' their cells, and I had to admit, he had a point. Hmm... wonder what Pharasman smallclothes look like...?

Anyhoo, we let Alembic sleep for a couple o' hours, and Forth did his prayin' to Torag (still sounds like growlin' at an angry rock to me!), but since Alembic was still asleep we started discussin' the possibility of flyin' up and attackin' her invisibly, and Forth wouldn't go for that. I asked him why he wasn't willin' to kill some woman who was so unbelievably evil when she was alive, and I was pretty sure turnin' into a lich hadn't made her any more pleasant. He said some Lawful thing 'bout bein' honorable no matter WHO your enemy was or whatnot, but I figured if we looked too scary she was just goin' to pop off and run away while he was ramblin' on 'bout Lawfulness at her. On the other hand, she wasn't exactly the brightest candle of the Jeggare line, so maybe she'd just shoot lightnin' at him while he was ramblin'. And I'm afraid that'd make me laugh. Even though I love Forth, I'd laugh.
Once we needed Alembic's brain we waited for him to wake up, 'cause he was the most likely of us to think like a lich, and we started talkin' 'bout where she might've hid her "phylactery" (no; it's not birth control (I asked), it's some thingy that lets the lich come back again and again and again, 'cause undead just do that to annoy you, y'know). I figured since she'd been workin' with the Mother o' Wights to become a lich, the Mother would have it. 'Cause if I were turnin' Saskiya into a horrible undead spellcastin' abomination, I'd want some insurance, too.

With as much of a plan as we could muster (I don't know why, but I just wanted to yell, "Get her!" and then jump on her and get scared and run away. Just one o' those random thoughts you get, I guess), Llew Protected my gnome brain (thank you, Llew!), Alembic turned us invisible and made us fly again! I don't know why Forth sounded so miserable! I was doin' loop-the-loops and spinnin' 'round and dancin' 'til I ran into someone else 'cause I couldn't see 'em, so Llew gave us all a rope to hang onto so I wouldn't do it again.

We got to the gate without seein' any undead, but there in the courtyard in front o' the gate were 4 more dead guys. It was a gate we'd already cleared, so we knew they were new dead guys, but Llew said they were still alive, and just paralyzed by the lich. Just how Ms. FancyEyeballs knew that I'll never know, but I've learned to trust her, so we settled down in the road just outside o' the courtyard and I let go o' the rope 'cause I figured we were done. Then Alembic went ahead to teleport 3 of the guys to safety, 'cause 'parently Alembic never wants to make anythin' easy, so I kind o' ran after him and was standing all alone. Then Alembic turned visible 'cause he had to grab the guys, then he popped out so I was alone again... I think. Then Llew turned visible and carried off the fourth guy. Still nothin' happened. She went in and looked around and said that Saskiya was flyin'. 'Cause Llew can tell anything just from lookin' at it. And that's why I hide my underwear from her.

Forth went over to the top o' the gate 'n' started yellin' for Saskiya, 'n' Alembic turned him visible, so everyone but me was visible, but still no Saskiya. We went back into the courtyard and Alembic 'n' Llew talked about startin' to make noise, so first I handed everyone antitoxin vials, 'cause poison, and then I tried to use Shieldy, but he was fed up with all the fuss and refused to help me 'n' shut down. Next I pulled out the bard scroll 'n' tried to use it. I was pretty worried, 'cause I'd never used a scroll before, but the shopkeep said I looked pretty 'n' ornery enough I could probably get it to work with just some concentration, so I kissed him on the cheek 'n' he blushed. He was human, and had one o' those bristly faces that feels like the scrubby pads the Asmodeans make you wash the pots with when you're bad (and your bum with when you're really bad), but he was a right nice sort. Anyhoo, the scroll worked, and Thorn started feelin' all wibbly-wobbly in my hands, like I could just make him act like anythin' I wanted to just by askin'. So I said, "Be a hammer," and Thorn felt like a hammer! It was really neat! And weird! And scary! And mostly neat! I need more o' those scrolls!

So apparently while I was distracted with wibbly-wobbly Thorn Saskiya finally heard us and started comin' a runnin'! We finally saw her a ways up the street so Alembic sped everyone up 'cept me ('cause I was still invisible to him), and she ran off to the side to dump off all the silks she'd been lootin'. Hey, Saskiya? Silk doesn't hide dead! Bony bone-headed girl! So she came back and did the big cloud-killy thing on us, 'cept I wasn't anywhere near everyone else, so they started coughin', but only a little, so I was pretty proud I'd given 'em all antitoxin. She said somethin' stupid 'bout the paladin havin' to protect "those poor people", but since there was nobody there I figured she was either stupid or hallucinatin'. Or maybe she hadn't noticed us ferryin' all those people to safety TEN MINUTES AGO!!! Since she was so far off, I figured I'd try to slow her down, so I pulled out a tanglefoot bag and started movin' into position. Forth just came runnin' out like a hasted dwarf 'n' smote her 'n' hit her right between the eyes, and it should've been all she wrote, 'cept she didn't drop 'n' Forth called out that she was an illusion! Alembic said he knew that kind o' magic and she couldn't be far away, so Alembic and I went up to the rooftops to try to spot her, 'n' Forth 'n' Llew took to the alleys. She popped up where Alembic and I were, and she dropped some kind o' ice prison on Llew 'n' Forth (kind o' like the one the guy with the weird hair had used, 'cept this one was a dome instead of a wall, and Saskiya wasn't grabbin' me with her hair or jumpin' through walls or anythin'). She looked at Alembic and said, "And now I'll deal with you," and she tried to be all menacing-like, but I was just lookin' at her mouth and her lips (or lack thereof) and wonderin' how she made such a perfect 'th' sound. Probably magic. Speakin' o' magic, her aura o' fear hit me, but it just had me all scared and full o' adrenaline, kind o' like the first time the Asmodean priest catches you in his underwear drawer with a box o' quills and some nice white ink, so I could bear it. But Alembic skedaddled down to ground level while Llew 'n' Forth were breakin' their way out, and Saskiya followed Alembic and tried to cast somethin' nasty as him, but he stopped her so kind o' nothin' happened. I had to follow slowly, 'cause not sped up, thank you, Alembic, so I was behind everybody else.

Forth tried to hit her again, but this one had mirror images up, so he was kind o' confused. Llew hit one dead center o' the forehead again (I was beginnin' to think that Forth 'n' Llew liked Saskiya even less than I did, and I didn't think that was possible), but it was too bad 'cause it was an image. But even Saskiya looked like she would've blinked if she'd had eyelids. Which she didn't. Which made me want to find some ants to throw in her face, but I didn't see any. So she shot somethin' else at Alembic that didn't work, so I figured he was doin' his job just fine, and threw my tanglefoot bag at her and it popped one of her images, so I figured it was a job well-done, but those images had to go. So I told Forth 'n' Llew to hold off as Alembic 'n' Saskiya kept throwin' magic at each other, then dropped my Dust o' Appearance on her so her mirror images went away. THEN Forth 'n' Llew beat her to death right quick.
Yeah, I didn't get to hit her at all, but it was still satisfyin'.

Llew 'n' Forth suggested searchin' her for her phylactery, 'cause it was the kind o' stupid thing she'd do to carry it with her, 'cept they were interrupted when a beautiful (for a human) woman came steppin' out o' the Cloudkill, smiled at us all lovely-like, and tossed us somethin' as looked like a phylactery. She said that Saskiya hadn't been a very good servant. No kiddin', lady! We could've saved you the trouble. Llew said she wasn't really a human, she was a samoya or a samosa or some such, and they looked human after they'd drunk blood, and she was probably a general in the Mother of Wight's army or somethin'. Didn't matter much, since Llew ran up and stabbed her, so I figured the fight was on. I couldn't get there in time, but Forth did and he hit her too, then Alembic tried the pit thingy on her but it didn't work. She looked at me with her big, beautiful eyes and tried to take control of my little gnome brain, but Llew'd seen to it that that couldn't happen, so I owed Llew a pint o' beer. 'Course whenever somebody messes with me Llew gets all pissed off (and I love her for it), so she took her spear and rammed it through that whole samosa, then pulled out a few parts that looked kind o' important (had samosa girl been livin' in the first place) and stabbed her a couple more times for good measure. She went down like a sack o' rotten bananas bein' hurled by an angry gorilla who was furious 'bout bein' tricked into tradin' his favorite shiny rock for a bag o' rotten bananas, then turned all withered and husky and proved she was undead. We looked at Llew to figure out how to kill her permanent-like, but Llew said that was enough, so we just tossed her in Alembic's acid pit for a bit just to be on the safe side, then started searchin' for goodies.

Alembic verified that what the samosa had tossed us was a genuine, bona-fide phylactery, and it was worth more money than any of us had ever seen, and he got that greedy look in his eyes that said, "Maybe, just maybe, just this once, Llew'll let us sell this."
'Course Llew, bein' a sensible girl, smashed it all to pieces and I put some holy water on it 'cause it's always a nice garnish on undead. The other loot wasn't great, but wasn't nothin': The samosa hadn't been wearin' anythin' that didn't get eaten by the acid, but Saskiya had some magic levitatin' boots (sold 'em!), a headband to make you smarter (sold it! Obviously didn't work!), a potion to make you invisible (why, thank you, Saskiya!), a protectin' ring that was better'n mine so the group let me take it, a scroll o' dominatin' people (sold it! I'll use my own natural charm, thank you very much!), and a scroll o' teleportin' we gave to Alembic 'cause we figured he could do with more studyin' o' that particular spell. Then it was time to carry all the paralyzed victims and the dead bodies back to the center o' town, and we got all the cheerin' and salutin' and whatnot you'd 'spect, 'cept it made me feel all warm 'n' tingly inside anyhoo. The high priest 'n' the captain were all happy to see us, and made us "saviors of the city" and gave us medals that said that, and told us we'd probably saved hundreds of lives 'n' given 'em a week to prepare for the oncomin' army. Jordan gave me his map, 'cause he's a right fine fellow, but once I'd pulled out all the pins 'n' feathers and markers, and put in my daggers 'n' chalk 'n' ink 'n' whatever else I could find to depict our epic win, whatever the map was made of was kind o' givin' out 'cause it wasn't made for gnomes. But it was fun while it lasted.

So it was nighttime and we'd saved the city and it was time to celebrate! First things first, I went to a shopkeep who'd stayed awake to watch all the proceedin's and proceeded to re-stock on all my alchemicals. Wouldn't you know he started makin' a list, 'cause he was goin' to tell the city what the "Heros of the City" bought to help them fight undead. I thought o' restockin' on my vomit capsules, just to give 'em a laugh, but I didn't have a lot of money at the moment and I had to see how the big-ticket items would divvy up.
Instead I looked around for gnomes, and spotted a few, includin' a few strappin' young handsome ones, so I grabbed one and told him he needed a sign that said, "Boffed a Hero o' the City" and dragged him off. He didn't object, and I had a grand old evening for the first time in AGES. And that's all you get to know 'bout that.

In the mornin', I met back up with the group, we divvied up our loot, and first thing first was SHOPPING! I pulled out my HUUUUUGE sack o' gold and... darn it Saskiya! Why weren't you richer?!?!?
After replenishin' all my alchemicals, I couldn't get much that was any fun, but I did find a nifty ring that you were supposed to put a poison pill into, but I figured a vomit capsule'd be a lot more fun, so I did that. I got one of them raucous canards like Saskiya'd used, 'cause it seemed like it might come in handy. Ah, well, maybe next time we'll get enough that I can do some real shopping!

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Session 24, Played 16-Sep-2018:

I asked Forth if he was OK if I climbed up onto the roofs, 'cause I don't do well with dogs, and he gave me that long-sufferin' sigh and said, "You do what you need to do, Trig."

Which probably meant he didn't want me to do it, but I figured he's a lawful sort, so I should do what he says, not what he means, so I ran on up the wall 'cause dogs. I figured if I was shootin' from the rooftops I'd need to be extra-sneaky, so I drank my potion o' bein' teeny. Alembic looked at the undead headless goblins and said they were the 3 goblin generals who led the goblins in the Goblinblood Wars, so now I had to kill 'em. Just had to figure out how to get 'em away from their dogs. Llew climbed up the buildin' opposite me, 'cause I guess she didn't like dogs either, then Alembic teleported himself and Forth onto that roof. So we were one big happy roof family. One o' the goblins said to the others that we were the "heroes" they'd been told about, and they should go get reinforcements. Yeah, I speak Goblin. The Goblinblood Wars taught us gnomes a lot o' things. And I don't wanna talk about it. What I want to talk about is, how could they talk with no heads?!?!?!? It didn't make any sense! 'Cause they're ridin' around on these mangy undead dogs, carryin' around their big swords, but they've got no heads! So how can they talk?

Anyhoo, they left and we were left standing there feelin' pretty sheepish on the rooftops, 'cept I was a pretty itty bitty sheep, but we figured we should probably follow 'em, so I ran along and jumped to the next rooftop. And hoo, boy! When you're 6 inches tall and tryin' to jump 10 feet it feels kinda like flyin'! It was all kinds o' fun! I guess Alembic got inspired by watchin' my flight 'cause I heard a big ol' "thud" and turned back an' saw Alembic lyin' face down in the dirt. Guess he knows I keep a journal, 'cause he said, "Don't you DARE write about that!", but I knew he was only kiddin', 'cause that's exactly the kind o' stuff you're s'posed to put in a journal. Now if only his pants had gotten stuck on a nail at the top o' the building, and he'd ended up hangin' upside-down and pantsless in the middle o' the street, now then I'd've had to draw a picture, and I'm not very artistic but I think I could've done a decent job. But he didn't, so I didn't.

Llew, Alembic, and Forth moved up the street, and I stayed on the rooftops, then Llew stopped 'n' whispered somethin' to Alembic 'n' Forth, and gestured to me that the three little buggers were just hidin' 'round the corner, and hadn't run off at all. 'Course, callin' 'em little in my condition was a bit presumptuous of me, but they couldn't hear me. I guess Llew 'n' the others decided to lure 'em out, 'cause they started movin' forward carefully, waitin' for the goblins to strike. I ducked down and got my bow ready. I figured once I'd shot down all the dogs I'd go down and help.
So Round 1 went to the goblins and their dogs. They went ridin' by, hittin' Forth with their swords as the dogs carried 'em past, and neither Llew nor Forth laid a weapon on 'em, and I could tell they weren't close enough for me to do any good with my bow. Llew, Forth, and Alembic took cover in an alley, so the buggers buggered off again. As Llew 'n' Forth were discussing what to do and getting themselves into a better tactical position for the next attack, they heard skittering, and Llew said it was only the dogs; the goblins were missing! Fortunately, the dogs weren't as smart as the goblins (which is pretty impressively stupid, if you ask me) so they just ran up and tried to attack Llew 'n' Forth. I shot one, Llew 'n' Forth carved 'em up, and Alembic did some magic things to 'em. The goblins'd been tryin' to sneak up, but saw their dogs gettin' all cut up and ran in, and they got cut up, too. I tried to shoot a second dog, but you try poppin' up over an eave when you're only 6 inches tall! I got the bow all wrapped around a knee and pulled something somethin' awful! I had to use Nameless just to stop the hurtin', so by the time I was done flailin' around on the roof there wasn't much left to be done; Alembic had one of 'em in his big watery bubble thing, and Llew 'n' Forth had carved up the rest of 'em. I couldn't even shoot bubble bug 'cause the water'd've stopped my arrow. All that was left was to burn 'em, 'cause we couldn't exactly cut their heads off 'cause there weren't any. So Llew was cut up pretty bad so I used Nameless on her while Forth was healin' himself up. Nameless was behavin' really well; I think he knew we were in a bit of a scrape.

We moved on to the gate, only to see another goblin there, this one in full plate mail. From the number o' dead guards 'n' clerics lyin' around the courtyard, this one wasn't to be trifled with. Sure enough, Llew said it was another graveknight o' the type that killed Forth once before. (I know, I know, a lot o' things have killed Forth. But this was one of 'em.) He was standin' across a HUGE courtyard and he had a bow, so it just looked right stupid to try to charge him. So I pulled out a smokestick and threw it as far as I could and we ran to hide behind the smoke. Alembic wasn't as fast as the rest of us, which kind o' surprised me 'cause my legs are pretty short, so the knight shot at him but it whinged off some o' that magic protection he's always got up. Nice one, Alembic! I followed Forth and Llew to just behind the smoke and used Shieldy on myself, and I think my wands were pretty upset 'bout the whole "undead sackin' the city" stuff 'cause they were just workin' away with no complaints. 'Cept Ornery. Who was on time-out time in my Handy Haversack. I might've put him in my manure container by accident, but hey, I already used the manure, so it's OK, right? I didn't hear Ornery complain! Llew 'n' Forth moved through the smoke as Alembic shot some magic stuff at the knight, and I heard Forth get whomped on somethin' awful. From the amount o' blood that spewed into view, I'd've thought Forth was dead 'cept he was yellin' so much I figured even an undead couldn't make that much noise. I figured they needed my help fast so I ran through the smoke so I could see and Alembic came 'round and made us all fast and Forth 'n' Llew carved that knight up like, well, like, well, well, like some undead abomination that'd killed Forth and offended Llew's very goddess. So yeah. I just kind o' stood there. But I was standin' fast.
So, two fights, two times I just ended up standin' 'round watchin' mop-up. Llew could tell I was upset, 'cause she's good at that kind o' thing, so she said I'd done a really good job with the smokestick. Which is kind o' a compliment, since anyone can throw a smokestick, but only a gnome'd be carrying a whole smorgasbord o' alchemical gear in her pack. And a wand. In a manure jar. 'Cause it was bad.

Speakin' o' wands, since I didn't need to use mine Forth told me to "make sure no one can open the gate." When he kind o' looked surprised when I broke out the alchemical glue at the end of it all, and Llew was doin' that little smirk she does, I figured I'd done a good enough job. But I figured even with the solvent in my pack and my tool kit it'd take me quite a while to get that gate open again; I'd go over the wall instead. So job well done, Trig! By the time I was done they'd done some healin' and were discussin' whether or not Llew should send her raven to let the priests know we'd closed a second gate. Seemed kind o' silly to me, 'cause we were gonna go back there anyway, but she seemed to really want to use the raven, and I didn't see any harm in it, but Lawful Forth had to go and keep askin' her why she should do it when we were goin' there anyway, so she gave up and put her little silver raven away. I figure she'll get to use it later. We went back to the center o' town, and when we got there, a bunch o' the soldiers saluted us, and we got some applause. I figured they'd finally heard 'bout the first gate, but it turned out they'd had spies watchin' the second gate, so they knew we'd taken out two of the three gates. The head cleric was all grateful 'n' such, but I was wonderin' why he was in charge when he asked us whether we were sure we should go to the third gate without restin' first. Gee... put OUR lives on the line, or risk the entire city 'cause Alembic needed a nap? Didn't seem like much of an option. And it wasn't just Alembic; Llew 'n' Forth needed rest, too, but the people needed us more. And I'm just that kind o' girl. I did ask for him to heal up my leg, and he looked a bit taken aback that that was all I needed, so I asked 'bout alchemical supplies but o' course it was a temple o' Pharasma and not a funhouse supply shop, so they didn't have anythin' that would've been useful to me. Llew dumped the graveknight's armor on him, 'cause he was s'posed to know what to do with it, and the expression on his face was kind o' fun, but we were in a hurry so I didn't get to savor it for too long.

We headed for the third gate quick as you please and heard laughter up ahead. Llew got that look that said she was about to tell us somethin' bad. Sure enough, the only undead she knew of that made people laugh was the "harianaggo", an undead woman created when an innocent girl was murdered. Both me 'n' Llew wondered why you didn't find one o' these on every street corner of every city, but I guess undead have rules, too. Anyhoo, these critters giggle at you and paralyze you with laughter, and if that doesn't work they've got a couple of claws that can do it, too. They have living hair (I hate living hair!) with hair barbs that make people bleed. They can cast Unnatural Lust at will. I was beginnin' to wonder whether Llew was talkin' 'bout a stray Calistrian or an undead. But she finished it up with how they like to paralyze people with laughter, then make 'em bleed out while they're lyin' there laughin'. That's not Calistrian at all; at least not much unless someone was really a jerk. But the bad news was, we heard multiple people laughin', so we had to hurry. Llew wouldn't let us race in without protecting us: She put a circle on Alembic and protection on me before she let us try to save the people. I don't know how he manages to control Forth, 'cause if I'd've said that he would've run off anyway, but we got to the inn where we heard the laughter and Llew threw open the door, Forth ran in and channeled to try to save those he could, and she laughed one of the most beautiful laughs I've ever heard. I felt my mind goin' under, but then I felt Llew's spell protect me. I owe you one, Llew! Unfortunately, next thing you know she's hit Forth and paralyzed him, hit one o' the downed innocents and started him bleedin', and hit Llew and started her bleedin'. Pesky sort!

Since I was way in the back and I knew Llew could help Forth if she wasn't bleedin' all over the place, I used Nameless on her and he worked again! Good Nameless! Alembic shot her with some burny stuff, which made her stinky and less funny. Llew fixed up Forth and Forth hit her a bit, so she went and hit Forth again (this time he was ready for it and didn't freeze), tried to hit Llew again (this time she was ready for it and dodged), and hit another of the downed guys! Alembic burned her again and she dropped, so I raced over and used Nameless on the guy she'd just hit. And he worked! Good Nameless! Llew tried to cut her head off and she popped back up! Sneaky devil! She'd just been playin' possum! So Llew and Forth beat her to death, which was kind o' funny, 'cept standin' there lookin' at Thorn all clean and shiny for the third time in a day felt kind of awkward. Llew knew it, too, 'cause she thanked me for healin' her and said I'd done a right good job. O' standing there. And usin' wands. I'm like a low-rent version of Alembic. Next thing you know I'll be fallin' off roofs.
Llew cut her head off for real this time, and I stuffed some garlic in the hole. Not so much 'cause I thought she needed it, but 'cause I've been carryin' it around for a few weeks now and it's startin' to get kind o' nasty, so I figured that was a good place to throw it out without anyone sayin', "Hey, Trig! Why are you dumping rotten garlic all over the place?"
It works.

Of the 3 guys we found, two were still alive, and we sent 'em back towards the center o' town. Forth wasn't happy we'd lost one, but I have to side with Llew on this one; I'd've been rolling on the ground for hours after that giggle. We moved on and found a street full o' zombies. But this one was done all clever-like: There were half a dozen still-living victims (Llew told me, 'cause I couldn't tell), a bunch o' zombies among 'em, and a mohrg skeleton-intestine-tongue-thingy guy standin' amidst the whole lot. Llew told us he was doin' it 'cause every one o' those victims he killed would heal him and pop up as another zombie. And since Alembic couldn't fireball a bunch o' innocents he figured he had us. Fortunately, he doesn't know us very well; we don't know what we're doing any more than he does! The morhg moved towards us to stand over one o' the victims, so I threw a smokestick behind him to hide the rest. That's when Llew told me its tongue couldn't go out more than a couple o' feet, so I'd just wasted my smokestick, but I figured it'd been worth a try. And if that mhorg really COULD use its tongue like that, well then, I would've been a genius! Llew went up and whacked it to distract it so Forth could drag the victim out from underneath it, and Alembic put a big pool o' grease under the entire thing, just so we'd get almost every kind o' stink in one place. Now if I could only get one of 'em to vomit...

Anyhoo, the mhorg made the mistake o' grabbin' Llew, so she taught it what happens when a man makes unwanted advances on her. As the bits and pieces of mhorg fell to the ground, Forth 'n' I helped wipe out the zombies. So yeah, I finally stabbed something with Thorn. A zombie. I did not celebrate. But we did save all 6 people, so that WAS worth celebratin'. We were doing WELL!

We didn't run into anythin' else untoward until we got to the gate, where we saw a bunch o' people hangin' from webs, and a bunch o' webs holdin' the gate open. There were dead husks o' people on the ground, so I figured big spiders. I didn't see anythin' at first, but Llew pointed out the half-dozen big ol' spiders waitin' for us to come in, and I started tryin' to think of a plan to lure 'em to us instead, and used Shieldy, just in case. I handed everyone antitoxin, 'cause spiders, and waited to see whether Llew had a plan for us to lure out the spiders. 'Cept I travel with Forth, and there isn't much lurin' you do with Forth. He just rumbled on in and cut down the first hangin' victim, 'cause it's what Forth does. So yeah, plans? Those are for sissies!
The spiders acted exactly according to our "plan" and webbed up Forth and moved in to eat him. Since the spiders were gracious enough to all gather, Alembic fireballed 'em all. He's got some fancy staff that lets him exclude his friends, so it was kind o' neat seein' all the spiders burn, but none of the victims nor Forth. I pulled out an alchemist's fire, and Llew said it wouldn't be enough to burn Forth free so I tossed it at a spider instead. Didn't seem to do much, but I do like watchin' spiders burn. I didn't get to see what Llew did 'cause the spiders started beatin' on Forth somethin' awful. I don't know whether he lost more blood against the grave knight or the spiders, 'cause I didn't get to see him get hit by the grave knight, but he did go up like a gusher. I swear, if there's ever a need for blood in a city, we can just donate Forth. Alembic hit 'em with another fireball, but none of 'em dropped. I ran in to help and finally got in a good stab on one, but it didn't drop, either. I yelled at Forth to curl into a ball and protect himself, but he channeled energy instead. And three of the spiders died! Llew killed a fourth. One o' the last two webbed me (now you're on my list) and the other tried to finish off Forth. It failed, 'cause Forth is tough that way, so I just shed the web (webbing a greased gnome? What are you thinking, stupid spider?) and chased after it. It felt good. Llew came with me and she has longer legs so she cut it down, and Forth cut the last one down.

The rest o' the group set to rescuin' all the victims 'n' healin' up Forth 'n' getting a wagon to get everyone back to town 'n' such, and I set to burning the gate free o' the webs and then lockin' it up. It took us a LONG time to get back to the center o' town, but we got all kinds o' applause 'n' cheers 'n' it felt really good. We'd done it. We'd really, really DONE it! We'd closed all three gates in a single day!
I needed to find me a bath, a bottle o' good brandy, and a gnome!

'Cept it's never that easy. A raucous canard came flyin' in (now why am I not carrying any o' those?) and a woman's voice told us that she was goin' to finish us once and for all, and we should meet her at the west gate 'n' such. Yeah, good luck gettin' THAT one open, lady! But she signed off as "Sasskiya" and we'd all like to kill her again 'cause it's the right thing to do (and it's fun), so Alembic asked for two hours so he could recover his spells, and Forth asked for sunset so he could recover his spells, and Llew just looked a bit disappointed but like she was goin' to tough it out, so I figured I would, too: No brandy or gnomes for me 'til Sasskiya's dead!

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Session 23, Played 09-Sep-2018

It took a little doin', but I managed to squeeze myself into my top and go out to meet the rest of the group. I wasn't the only one who'd had an "interesting" night; Alembic was ramblin' on 'bout how he he'd learned how to teleport us from readin' those scrolls. I figured he was just makin' stuff up, 'cause those clerics of Asmodeus had made me read all kinds o' scrolls and I don't think I ever learned to do anythin' from 'em, 'cept to pretend I'd read some boring old scrolls, but that's neither here nor there, 'cause now we had a way to get to Eledir before the whole town was sacked! Good on you, Alembic!

I looked expectantly at Llew 'n' Forth; I figured Llew'd be able to sprout fiery undead-burnin' wings o' smitin' and Forth's beard would have gained sentience, but I was disappointed, or at least they hid their cool new powers from me. So I had breakfast instead, since I figured we'd be headin' for Eledir as soon as Llew 'n' Forth were ready, and they seemed awfully ready. 'Cept they were wonderin' what they were goin' to do with their horses. I figured they should just do what I do and leave 'em wherever they happen to be and then pay the innkeep double once you remember to go back, but 'parently that's a "gnome special" that isn't available to "people who have sense". Glad that isn't me! Anyhoo, Llew paid the innkeep a few gold pieces to look after Bane, so I figured I should do whatever she was doin' 'cause she's smart 'bout such things, so I gave the innkeep 10 gold to look after Yellow and both he 'n' Yellow looked pretty happy 'bout the whole thing, so I thought o' using my new special gnome power to cuss out Yellow, 'cause that'd be fun, but I figured we were headed into a combat situation, and you never know when you need to tell a cow to get out o' the way or whatnot, so I spared Yellow my wrath.

With all kinds o' pomp and circumstance and pompousness and general Alembicness, Alembic waved his hands all about and made us touch each other (I touched Llew 'n' Forth, thank you very much), and told us he was teleportin' us to the marketplace and there was a flash and a poof and it all seemed really special and spectacular... 'til I looked 'round and were were standin' in the middle o' the Logas market. I didn't know whether to giggle or say somethin' snarky or yell at Alembic or what, but people were in danger and undead were runnin' amok, so Forth 'n' Llew were pretty keen on gettin' goin', so I kept my mouth shut as Alembic made excuses and said he was goin' to try again. If we ended up in Haugin's Ear I was gonna stab him, just for pissin' off Llew 'n' Forth so much. I guess the implicit threat o' gettin' stabbed was good for Alembic's concentration, 'cause the second time we popped in to the middle of a different market, and something just wasn't right.
'Cause there were screamin' people comin' runnin' from one direction, and a bunch o' guys dressed up all cleric-like wavin' their arms in the square, and the people were gettin' all calmed down, and then at the other side o' the square there were guards tellin' 'em where to go to be safe. And I didn't care. I was perfectly calm and happy. I could've followed the instructions. I could've followed Llew 'n' Forth. It didn't really matter. And I wasn't even all that mad at Alembic. In the back o' my mind, I figured the guys wavin' their arms around were doin' somethin' to me, but I just didn't have it in me to be mad at them. But I was kind o' interested in what the guards were sayin', 'cause they were sayin' that the castle and the east gates were all secure, but the west gates had fallen. I figured that was probably bad, but it didn't really matter. Llew picked me up like a sack and put me on her shoulders, and it wasn't nearly as fun as it should've been, but she asked directions to the temple of Pharasma and as she carried me away from the cleric-y guys I suddenly felt like me again. I would've struggled down and gone back and stabbed a cleric just on principle, but they were actually doin' a right good job of savin' people's lives, so I couldn't really hold it against 'em. Not their fault I'm easily-distracted!

The guard she'd asked directions from asked whether we were lookin' to help, and we said we were, and he said that the west gate had fallen to skeletons and they were gettin' word of families gettin' carried off and whatnot.

It was going to be a long day, and a lot o' undead were goin' to have to re-die.

I figured Llew was our undead-killin' expert, and she said we had to go to the temple first, so we went there first. People were runnin' and screamin' and I wanted to save every last one of 'em, but I'm only one gnome; the best I could do was trust Llew to get us where we'd do the most good and save the most people. Llew's good people that way.
The temple was just as bad as the market: Clerics out front calmin' people, pretty acolytes in front tellin' desperate people that the church was doin' everythin' it could, and an overall feelin' of, "That's not goin' to be enough."

I wanted to help the pretty acolytes, 'cause Calistria'd blessed me 'n' all, and they were obviously pretty scared, but I figured Llew'd need me too. We got inside and could tell that it was far more military 'n' organized inside, and we were headin' to the heart o' the defense, 'cept we got intercepted by some sergeant-at-arms or somethin' who wanted to just throw us into some company and into some meaningless battle where our talents'd be wasted, so Llew pulled rank and said she was goin' to see the high priest. Forth wanted to deal with the military stuff so I had to climb off Llew and onto Forth 'cause 'parently gnomes are distractin' and Forth and I met the military commander while Llew and Alembic went to see the high priest.

I have to admit, I don't know a lot o' what Forth 'n' the military guy talked 'bout, 'cause on the wall was a HUGE map o' the city, all full o' pins 'n' daggers 'n' markin's 'n' all kinds o' stuff just beggin' to get rearranged into pretty patterns, so I had to fight real hard not to do it. But I did hear that there was a HUGE army o' slow-movin' undead comin', and a few hundred fast-movin' undead already in the city, and they needed people to close the three western gates 'n' kill all the undead before the big army came. Now THAT sounded like somethin' we could do! And he was nice 'n' melodramatic about it as well; "If those gates aren't closed by tomorrow night, the city will fall."
I appreciated the drama. I figured we should go to the middle gate, 'cause that way we'd be closer to each o' the other two gates, but Forth said we had to go to the southernmost o' the three gates first, and I wasn't gonna argue, 'cause Forth knows stuff like that, and killin' undead is killin' undead.

We came out of our meeting and met up with Llew 'n' Alembic, who'd reported to the priest and didn't have much new news, so we decided to head for the southern gate. Alembic reached over to touch me, and I figured I'd let him 'cause usually he gave me some cool new power, and this time was no exception. He made me FLY! I flew around in a few circles and let out a few whoops, then Llew told me to come near and she cast somethin' that she said'd make us invisible to most undead, but it wasn't nearly as fun as FLYING!!!
OK. I'll admit it. Sometimes Alembic is pretty cool.

So we flew towards the south gate, makin' good time over the crowds o' people fleein' the other way. Which kind o' made me wonder: Why were there still people runnin'? I mean, I was pretty young when the goblins attacked Umok, still in my 30s 'n' all, but once we heard the alarm soundin' we all ran fast as we could for shelter; we didn't dilly-dally 'round tryin' to figure out whether to take stuff with us or get dressed or finish fornicatin' or whatnot; we just ran. 'Course, it didn't help all of us; my parents didn't make it. But I did. And so the people still runnin' maybe an hour after the alarm sounded kind o' made me angry 'n' sad at the same time. Didn't they know to just drop everything 'n' run? The river o' people turned into a stream, then a trickle. Then we saw somethin' that just wasn't right, no matter what you thought o' the intelligence o' the people who were so slow to run that they were still this close to the gate.

Scurryin' around the road like a bunch o' sick 'n' twisted animals were more o' those giant hands we saw way back in the caves near Haugin's Ear. For a minute I started wonderin' 'bout the tribe o' giants out there somewhere with no hands, and why necromancers didn't just animate the entire giant instead o' just his hands, but I figured they probably had their reasons, so there were a bunch more hands down there. And the minute the first hand scurried over and crushed one o' the runners all thoughts o' anythin' but savin' the people fled my head. I spotted the wagons they'd been brought in on, 'cause it was obvious someone was just lookin' to kill people, and I was tryin' to decide whether to stab the hands, stop the next batch o' people runnin' towards the hands, or burn the wagons (and hopefully anyone in 'em) but Llew fixed that by yellin', "Trig! Stop those people!"

So no doubts there. I flew over the people 'n' told 'em to stop, but they were too scared to listen, and I could see why, 'cause a few hundred feet behind 'em were a bunch o' skeletons with murder in their eye sockets comin' our way. OK. I couldn't really see their eye sockets at that distance, but they were skeletons, so I figured I was pretty safe in assumin' they were out to kill us all. 'Cause that's what skeletons do 'n' all that. So I had to land right in front of 'em and yell at 'em real mean-like to stop (the people, not the skeletons, 'cause I'm not dumb), and I felt bad but it kept 'em from gettin' crushed, and that was what was important. 'Course, none of 'em looked like the fornicatin' type, so I was wonderin' what'd taken them so long to get out o' the city, but my yellin' 'n' such had apparently messed up Llew's spell on me and some o' the hands were comin' my way. Or the people's way. But better me than them, so I went ahead and started dancin' and stabbed a hand, just to make sure it knew to attack me. It sprayed goo all over the place, but I was too quick for it. Alembic flew on over and I told 'im 'bout the skeletons, but he couldn't see 'em 'cause he's a dummy. Llew 'n' Forth weren't as fast as me, but they followed the hands and started in on 'em.

So I thought things were goin' real well, with the hands tryin' to grab me 'n' all, but a couple o' the hands were still after the people. Thankfully, Alembic teleported almost all of 'em to safety, and this time didn't take 'em to the Logas market, though I figure they'd probably've been safe there. Unfortunately, one o' the guys who got left on the ground got crushed somethin' awful; I could hear bones breakin' and everythin'. But the rest of 'em were on the top of a building a bit away, and two of the hands went off to try to climb the building. Llew 'n' Forth helped me finish off the four that were with me, Forth healed the guy who'd gotten crushed, and Alembic greased the walls o' the buildin' he was on to keep the two that were chasin' him from climbin' up to get him. They gave up and came after us, so we killed 'em, too.
The people were all terrified 'n' such, but we couldn't put 'em down yet, 'cause the skeletons were comin'. It was a batch of over a dozen skeletons in armor, 'n' Llew said they were "skeletal champions" 'n' they'd cut us up pretty bad, but Alembic said he'd put 'em in a pit (talk about a one-trick pony!) so he did and all but one of 'em fell in, so Forth helped the last one over the edge.

Hate to say it, Llew, but nope, they didn't cut us up at all.

So Alembic got all the people he'd saved off the roof, and we told 'em to skedaddle towards the center of town, and they didn't need to be told twice, so we checked the wagons (no one there, all the horses dead, and everythin' else you'd expect o' some soulless necromancer), and moved on towards the gate. Well, we *almost* moved towards the gate, 'cept Forth didn't want us movin' on while there was a great big acid-y pit in the middle o' the road, so we had to wait a little while for it to go away. It didn't take long, and all the melted bones and weapons and armor were pretty funny 'n' all, but I was eager to get to the gate 'n' stop the killin'.

As we got there, it was obvious we were too late. There were torn up town guards 'n' clerics o' Pharasma strewn all over the ground like broken dolls. A few people were lyin' around, moanin' on the ground, all 'round the wide-open gate, 'cept it was obviously a trap 'cause there was a big floatin' skeleton husk thing among them all. In its rib cage was some hideous little critter, strugglin' to get out. Kind o' my size, but a lot uglier and more evil and undead-y. So... dead people everywhere, moanin' people lyin' around in an obvious trap, big friggin' skeleton-in-skeleton thing like some kind o' twisted kids toy... yep. I used Shieldy, 'cause I'm not stupid.

Trouble was, neither was big 'n' ugly. He saw me movin' in all cautious-like and reached down and touched one o' the moanin' people and the guy screamed somethin' awful for a minute and then stopped movin'. They weren't a trap! They were hostages! Llew wasn't goin' to take that from anyone, so she flew right in and got smacked pretty hard for her efforts. I can't says as I blame her; if I hadn't been screwin' around with Shieldy I'd've been right in there with her. She yelled out that the guy was a drainer, which was just all Forth needed, so I figured I needed to go in and be a distraction so he could get in. But Forth was too quick on the uptake and got up in his face, so there I was, watchin' my two favorite people in the world 'bout to get pummeled, and I figured I needed to do somethin' to save 'em, so I hit ugly in the face with a smoke pellet. Unfortunately, he just stepped on out and raised all the dead bodies around him as zombies. Fortunately, Alembic had been waitin' for just such an opportunity and dropped a Fireball on the lot of 'em, and they all died, and even the little thingy in the cage withered and wailed and faded away. Nice one, Alembic! I danced around to his back, and I figured we'd make short work of him, but he reached out and tried to tear out my soul! No; I'm not exaggeratin'! He just started rippin' it out o' my body like it was some kind o' handy tissue! It hurt like you wouldn't believe! So Llew 'n' Forth were left to fight him as I had to run away for fear of my very soul. Not by proudest moment!
Even after I was well out of his reach, he gestured at me and drained me even more! The bastard! Alembic, bless his heart, turned me Invisible, so I started usin' Ornery on myself to start tryin' to recover, 'cause I didn't like Llew and Forth's chances against him. Fortunately, I underestimated Forth. He Smote Evil on the bad guy (I'd totally forgotten he could do that) and ripped into him, and so did Llew, and once I was out o' the fight he just whacked them a couple o' times, but Llew's "no drainy" field protected 'em, and they made short work of him. When he died, a whole bunch o' souls went runnin' free (thankfully not mine) and we heard, "I have failed my mistress."
Damn right you have!

I kept healin' myself while Forth 'n' Llew made sure the right kinds of bodies were on the right sides of the gates and closed it up. The people who'd been moanin' healed up right proper, so we could have them start mannin' the gates. Ornery worked real well for healin' me for a while, then got tired so I started usin' the other wand (needs a name), then they asked me to make sure no undead'd be able to open the gate so I got to work and had Forth use Nameless on me 'til I was all healed up. He went a little overboard, but in cases like that, better over than under, in my mind.
So, all healed up and with our first gate closed, we flew back towards the center of town to report. Llew was lookin' a little peaked, but I was hopin' the clerics at the town hall'd be able to cure her right up. Sure enough, we flew back to the town center, and they were really happy we'd closed the gate, 'cause it was the only one to get closed so far, so we were ahead o' everybody else in gate-closin', and then Llew had me ask 'em to fix her up using my Big Eyes, and it worked, and they fixed up Llew. 'Course, they also offered to heal us all up, makin' me feel rather sheepish 'bout usin' all those charges from Ornery, but then again, I probably would've wasted 'em some other time on some horrible practical joke gone wrong. Now I didn't have to work as hard to figure out exactly what that joke would've been. The head cleric kept callin' me a little boy, but I figured he was either near-sighted, stupid, or senile, and I've learned you're not s'posed to point out any o' the three, so I let it go.

Forth asked about what was goin' on with the westernmost gate, which was kind o' strange to me 'cause it meant we were doin' 'em in some kind o' random order, which was nice 'n' all, but didn't fit my picture of Forth's Lawfulness at all. Did I miss something? Did he get hit really hard in the head by the soul-sucker? Anyhoo, the cleric said we'd be dealin' with big undead bats, and we all knew 'bout skavelings when we heard it, so I figured I didn't want to get carried off today (Alembic's Fly had worn off by then. I didn't check whether his fly had worn out, too, 'cause I didn't want to know). I started greasin' myself up and the cleric started sayin' I could stay with him to be "safe". Yeah. Old cleric. Thought I was a young boy. Wanted me to stay with him. Nope nope nope nope nope. I've heard those stories, thank you very much!

So we wandered on in, and started seein' signs o' bodies that had been killed by skavelings, 'cause Llew knows these things, and we saw a few skavelings flying about, and LLew said we had to make sure we took care of all the bodies 'cause otherwise they'd all rise up as ghouls at midnight. And that right there is another reason I hate undead. They can't be happy with comin' back from the dead just once. They gotta keep comin' back, and bring a bunch o' others with 'em in some kind o' giant undead reunion party, which'd be OK if they just got together and had a few drinks and ate some carcasses and stunk up the joint or whatnot, but noooooooo, they always have to go out and try to kill livin' people, 'cause that's just what they do.
So all undead need to die. I'm startin' to see where Llew comes from.

Anyhoo, Alembic decided to say, "Hi," to the skavelings with a Fireball, and they didn't like that too much so they came after us. I figured I hadn't been much use in the last fight with 'em, so I shot one with an arrow just to make sure it didn't do any good, then I started dancin' around and thinkin' mosquito-like thoughts and tryin' to get 'em to attack me 'stead o' firebally Alembic. Didn't do a lot o' good, but they did fly in close enough for Forth to whack on 'em (get a bow, Forth!), and Llew shot 'em a lot more effectively than I would've, and Alembic did some sorceror thingies that hurt 'em (the coolest was when he caught himself on fire. I was kind o' disappointed it didn't burn him even a little. At least his eyebrows should've singed of)), so all in all my dance didn't do a heck of a lot, but didn't hurt anythin'.
So the skavelings weren't much of a chore, but cleanin' up after 'em, well, hoo boy. Alembic and I had to wander all 'round, lookin' for bodies of those that had been killed. Then we had to call over Forth and Llew, 'cause they had the big weapons that could behead all the people. We talked a little 'bout draggin' 'em all to one place and burnin' 'em all, but there were DOZENS; maybe even over a hundred! My campfire bead is handy 'n' all, but it's a campfire bead, not a 'massive raging inferno burn a hundred bodies' bead. Though I'll have to find out whether one o' those is available. Sounds fun!

We kept goin' towards the gate, and saw that someone'd had the same idea as us, as there were lots o' beheaded corpses around. 'Cept Llew said they'd been beheaded while they were still alive, so either we had really stupid assistants or we were dealin' with more undead that did nasty things. Sure enough, as we were lookin' at the bodies, around the corner came three headless goblins, ridin' three giant undead dogs.

I hate dogs...

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Session 22, Played 12-Aug-2018:

What with all the head-choppin' that was goin' on and it bein' after dark 'n' such, and not wantin' to go in to a big ol' haunted house in the middle o' the night all half-cocked, we decided we'd go talk to Calum in the morning, figuring if he'd been alive for this long, one more night probably wouldn't hurt him. And even if it did, he could rest assured we'd deal with his evil spirit hauntin' his manor for free, just as a personal favor for messin' up so badly. The guards told us he was livin' in his brothel 'stead of the haunted house, which either meant he was horny or he really thought the place was haunted. Could never tell with these young humans. We told the guards to tell Calum we'd call on him in the morning and spent a nice restful night at the Wanderer's Rest, which just goes to show it's a good name for a place.

In the mornin', we didn't see Iggy, so we had breakfast and headed over to see Calum. Sure enough, he was at his brothel. But it was all shut down and there were no girls there any more. Which kind of eliminated the "he was horny" angle unless he was one o' those guys who just likes to be places where girls used to be, but he didn't seem like the type, and even though it was kind o' weird it didn't bother me all that much 'cause if someone wants to roll around in my bed after I've left town and get all hot 'n' excited over me not bein' there, who am I to argue? 'Course I hadn't slept there so I could be pretty sure he hadn't been thinkin' bout me, and then I started thinkin' 'bout him fantasizing 'bout the dead zombies, and that really was pretty sick 'n' twisted, and...

...Anyhoo, we met Calum. He thanked us for comin', and assured us the house was haunted. And Llew started inquisitin', 'cause this was undead stuff 'n' she's good at it, and asking him clever questions like, "What did you see?" and "What time was it?" And the funny thing was, it sounded like a classic hauntin', with visions of his parents in their younger days arguin' all over the house (OK, he said, "Bickerin' in the living room", but I figure they probably did it all over, and that kind o' explains the kids), and they looked solid enough, except he knew it couldn't be them 'cause they were still alive and locked up in the sheriff's office!!


Yep. Apparently Justine and Algeron had just come back into town the same day we got back, and 'cause we weren't involved 'cept in getting 'em convicted in the first place, nobody had thought to tell us! So Mayor Muskgrove had 'em scheduled to be executed tonight, which kind o' put a time limit on our investigation. And most things in life shouldn't be rushed: A fine meal. Sex. An investigation. A good hearty crap. Er...

Anyhoo, since I couldn't figure out how even the Jeggares could be evil enough to be hauntin' their own son in advance, as it were, I suggested that maybe we ought to go see the people who were in the prison and figure out whether or not they really were the Jeggares. Forth agreed with me, and you could've bowled me over with a feather! I may be gettin' better at this investigatin' stuff! So we went over and met Sheriff Farbridge (it was kind o' funny; he told me that he wasn't a sheriff, he was a captain, but I figured if he ran the town guard he'd be a sheriff. But I don't understand the law, so today he's a Sheriff). He didn't rightly understand why we wanted to see the Jeggares, but when we said Calum said they'd been hauntin' his livin' room Farbridge decided he'd let us in. What were we going to do? Kill them?

So Farbridge led us down to the cells and we saw a couple o' old humans. One was male and one was female, and the female looked like the picture o' Justine I'd seen in Stan's place. That was about it for my part o' the investigatin', so I sat back to watch Llew and Forth take care of things for me. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses if you're going to be part of a team. And figurin' out whether a couple o' old humans are really Jeggares just wasn't my strength. Trouble was, Forth looked at 'em in that way he does and said, "Yep, they're evil." Llew looked at 'em in that way she does and said, "Yep, they're Lawful." Alembic looked at 'em in that way he does and said, "They had magic on 'em before, but not any more." They said themselves, "Yep, we're the Jeggares," 'cept they were more formal 'cause Jeggares are annoying that way, and we were kind of stumped. As were they. They said that they'd just been conducting "business" down south and had no idea what this was all about, and were sure their barristers would have 'em out in no time. 'Cept they weren't out yet, and they were going to be executed that night. That kind o' put a damper on their spirits.

We told the sheriff, or captain, or admiral, or whatever-he-was that we'd appreciate it if he'd put off the execution 'til we were done investigatin', and he said somethingorother that didn't sound all that lawful or decisive, so we figured we'd better head over to the manor right quickly, 'cause the maybe-Jeggares weren't likely to survive the night. As we were walking over, Llew said that the maybe-Jeggares just weren't right; unlike most humans, whose faces are all crinkly and ugly and asymmetrical (like Alembic's), the maybe-Jeggares had perfectly-symmetrical faces, as if one half was the mirror image of the other. So Llew figured they were probably some kind o' mimicking demon and the real parents had been murdered years ago. 'Cept I told her I was bettin' it was some kind o' devil and not a demon, 'cause the Jeggares were all Lawful-like, and I had a short shut-up time while we got to the house, 'cause Llew doesn't really care whether they're devils or demons as long as they're evil outsiders who need to be killed, and I figure that's a perfectly reasonable attitude.

Once we were at the Jeggare place I figured I'd probably want to be walkin' around on the walls 'n' such, just to show my disrespects, so I pulled out Spidey and he didn't want to work on me! The nerve! I paid a lot of money for him! I tried again and he still refused, so Llew asked to borrow him. I handed him over and she handed him to Alembic and Alembic used him on me with no trouble at all, then used it on Llew, too! Hey! That's expensive! Spidey cost me a pretty penny! Llew promised to pay me back, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have Llew runnin' around on the walls as well. Before we got any closer Llew put a magic circle o' protection on me 'cause she said I'd be the most likely to be runnin' off on my own, and I thought I'd argue for a minute and then I remembered that vampire guy who let me past so he could do just that so I figured it was a good call. And sure enough, the moment we set foot on the grounds somethin' tried to play with my mind and Llew's circle protected me and I was feelin' pretty good 'bout tradin' one charge o' my wand for some high-powered brain protection. There was a faint mist floatin' all around the mansion that was new, and I didn't think it was the kind o' thing that even rich folk could afford, 'cept maybe weirdos like Alembic who'd pay wizards to put permanent mist 'round their houses to hide their depravities, and suddenly that sounded more like the Jeggares I knew, but Llew said that no, the mist was part of a haunt, and since it hadn't been there yesterday it meant the Jeggares probably died recently; say, yesterday! This whole thing was gettin' more and more confusin', but I figured the Jeggares were dead, the fake Jeggares were goin' to be dead tonight, and whatever spirits were hauntin' the house would be re-dead once we were done with the place, and everythin' would be a lot less confusin' and a lot easier to investigate once it was all dead. Or re-dead.

So I cracked my knuckles and approached the door, figurin' it was time for some enterin' (I *never* break), 'cept Llew had Calum's key! Neat trick, Llew! Oh, he gave it to you? Well, less neat, but still, good on you! So Forth stepped in first, and so the first haunt hit him, and I figured it would be all kinds o' fun and we could all take turns and see what kind o' neat stuff happened to us, but nobody but Forth wanted to play, so I figured he 'n' I could take turns. There was a big ol' main room with a balcony and chandeliers and stairs goin' up and doors all over the place and all the fun stuff humans put in their mansions to entertain gnomes, So Forth saw an image of Algernon and Justine when they were newlyweds, buyin' the house and Justine sayin' it was too small and Algernon assuring her they could build a cellar and that bein' kind of a clue that the cellar would hold all the really bad stuff so we should save it 'til last, 'cause that's what you do when you're investigatin'. 'Cause I'm learnin'.

So o' course we started in on the rooms on the ground floor. The first one was a dinin' room with a single place setting and it was my turn so I jumped on in to see what would happen. So I got to see an image o' the family sittin' at the dinner table as Justine Jeggare berated some poor serving girl, tellin' her that she'd just served up a terrible, terrible puddin'; the worst puddin' EVER! I wanted to tell Ms. Jeggare that I bet I could do worse but I didn't get a chance 'cause some giant black slimy thing tried to engulf me! What did THAT thing have to do with puddin's? Fortunately, I was too quick and too small for it, so it just kind o' blooped down next to me, 'cept it was still attached to the ceiling 'cause it was all big 'n' stretchy 'n' stuff, like you'd expect. Alembic ordered me not to eat it under any circumstances, which was pretty evil of him, any way you look at it, so I figured I'd get him back when we weren't busy. He cast that spell that speeds us all up, and Forth whacked the ooze somethin' good. 'Cept how do you know when you're hurtin' an ooze? Plus, his hammer started sizzlin' like the blob was all acidy. I got all dodgy and took a little slash with one o' my cheap daggers, and the good news was that it apparently didn't like bein' cut, but the bad news was that its answer to that was to split in two, one on top, one on bottom! It ate my dagger, too, but they don't cost much at all. Everybody yelled at me not to do that again, as if I needed to be told. Well, yeah, I probably needed to be told. The two new oozes looked 'bout as big as the original, and it got me wonderin' whether or not I could slash it so often it made the room burst, or blew up, or somethin', but since Llew 'n' Forth were askin' me not to slice it any more I decided I wouldn't. 'Cept that made me kind o' useless. I wondered whether it burned. I yelled at Alembic to Fireball the room so we could find out. I figured he wouldn't think twice 'bout fireballin' me, and hey, standin' in a room full o' 'splodin', burnin', smokin', ooze? I'd been in worse! When I hugged Forth, I touched his beard. I still have nightmares.

Anyhoo, Llew started askin' what it was, 'cause she needed to know what it was 'fore she could inquisit it, but I didn't know that inquisitin' a big black blob would do a heck of a lot, so I just made sure I dodged well when it swung at me and kept yellin' at Alembic to blow up the room. Llew shot it and Alembic finally got mad at me and did it and the oozes stopped movin'. And stunk a lot. And smoked a bit. And kind o' resembled Alembic with a hangover. On the bright side, the Fireball also destroyed all the nice furniture and pictures and Jeggare stuff 'n' such, and so I was standin' there, not a hair singed, in a room full o' burnt Jeggare finery.

Sometimes it's good bein' a gnome.

Heck. It's always good bein' a gnome.

I had so much fun with that room that I insisted on doin' the next one, but it was just a pantry with a bunch o' hooks on the wall. I hung myself up usin' my Spider Climb, but nobody bought it, so it was a pretty borin' room. But the pantry *was* stocked, and that meant Calum really had been livin' here up 'til recently. Or at least *some* Jeggare had been. Since nothin' happened, I called the next room, and it was the female servants' quarters. It was pretty obvious, 'cause the beds were crappy and all pushed together, and the clothes were women's servants' clothes, and it was really dim 'cause the Jeggares didn't want to pay to light the rooms for the help. It kind o' made me feel better 'cause nothin' hit me again, meanin' none of the servants were dead (I guess; I don't really know how these things work, but not gettin' haunted by the spirits made me feel better all the same). We searched around and found a few coins, but I'm not the type to rob servants so I left it in place. Heck, if I'd've thought they were comin' back, I would've left some more. Since I'd gotten to do three rooms in a row, I grudgingly let Forth have his turn, but I got lucky 'cause the next room had a double door so we each got to open one! It was a small ballroom; the kind you tend to learn to dance in; not the kind you really dance in. I know, 'cause my parents taught me a little bit o' dancin' before the war, and they insisted on me learnin' a bit 'bout human dancin' in case I ever needed it, and 'cause it was funny to have a gnome dancin' in a ballroom, 'specially with one pocket full o' marbles and the other full o' grease, but that was long ago and kind o' painful. But Forth's a dwarf and didn't know here nor there 'bout a ballroom so I raced in and started dancin'. Yeah, yeah. I was bein' a hog, 'cause that was four rooms in a row for me at the moment, but I figured I'd let Forth catch up eventually. Somethin' hit MY circle o' protection and slipped off, so I got to see Justine beratin' the kids for bein' terrible dancers, but since I didn't get to see 'em I didn't know whether she was right or wrong.

Forth's room was the male servants' quarters. And the servants were there. 'Course, they were dead 'n' all, but they were all lyin' in their beds. Kind o' obvious they were goin' to be undead, and I was kind o' curious as to what kind they'd be, but it turned out they were pretty borin'. They'd been plannin' a revolt against the Jeggares, so they'd been killed and left to rot. Something hit Forth's Protection from Evil, then the zombies popped up and we killed 'em. Uneventful. I claimed the next room 'til we saw that it was a war trophy room with all kinds o' animals. I don't do well with animals; just ask Yellow. Speakin' o' which, I've been gone for a while. I hope someone's been feedin' him...

...anyhoo, I let Forth go in and he saw images of Justine Jeggare beratin' Calum for bringin' home a fine-lookin' deer, while Algernon was sayin' it was a fine catch. Justine was sayin' that Rufus had brought down a wolf and a boar "with his bare hands", and all of us who'd met Rufus knew that was a lie, so Llew figured Justine'd been payin' hunters to help Rufus catch things, and was sore that Calum could actually do somethin'. So as Forth went in the haunt hit him, and the magic folk said it had tried to turn Forth into a deer. Not a bearded gnu? Weird! But I bet Forth would've made a cute deer! 'Course, then I'd be stuck openin' all the doors 'cause no one else wanted to, but still, it probably would've been fun.

My room was a sittin' room, so I jumped on in, and Justine was yellin' 'bout lawfulness and behavin' and sittin' here for 100 years, and I felt older, and older, and felt the color fadin' out o' me as the years piled on, and a hundred years later I stood up again and stepped out o' the room feelin' less fun than I've ever felt in my life. I would've eaten a vomit capsule, but even that didn't sound all that fun. Llew was really concerned, which was really sweet o' the young lass, but I could make it on my own with my cane and my shawl. And some fire! I burned the rocking chair! It made me feel a little better, but no color returned, and I didn't feel any younger. Now I knew why Forth was so grumpy all the time! Pushing 150 is just old!

We kept searching and found the stairs down to the cellar, had a short discussion, and decided to to things proper-like by goin' upstairs first and doin' the cellar last. I said I was goin' to burn all the Jeggare's smallclothes, 'cause it'd made me feel better. Forth said I could only burn 'em if they were possessed. I started tryin' to think Lawful-like: Since Calum owns the manor and the other Jeggares are dead, he owns everythin' in it, includin' his siblings' smallclothes. So all their undies are indeed possessed! I'll make a lawyer yet!

Anyhoo, we went on upstairs, and the stairs weren't even trapped, which was kind o' disappointin', but I guess Calum's got a little o' Rufus' cowardice in 'im and doesn't want to get caught by his own trap goin' to the loo or whatnot, so whatever. The first room we found was the master bedroom, and it was beautiful! A great big four-poster bed, silk canopies, feather mattress; the works! So o' course I had to run in and jump on the bed, 'cause who wouldn't, and so I got hit by the haunt, but I didn't mind 'cause I got to jump on a big fancy bed. I got to see Algernon and Justine, presumably on their weddin' night or some such, 'cause she was done all up pretty-like, and I gotta say: I've spent some time in temples o' Calistria, where human dads are tryin' to teach their sons how to be "men" 'cause they have no concept o' what women actually find attractive, so the humans are always findin' this or that or the other excuse to pay for it when a gnome or an elf'll just walk in and say, "Hey, I'm horny and I didn't run into any willin' women on the way over here, so how's 'bout I make a donation and we both go away happy?"
A lot easier for all involved, if y'ask me, but human, they gotta be weird about it. Anyhoo, Algernon looked just like one o' those sons as doesn't particularly want the "honor" of bein' deflowered by a professional, but doesn't have the spine to say, "Hey, Dad? Piss off!", so he's sittin' there on the edge o' the bed lookin' like, "Well, I don't really want to do this, but I guess I have to," and I can't really blame him, what with Justine bein' irrevocably evil 'n' all, and that's kind o' a turn-off, but I don't think he knew she was irrevocably evil when he married her, 'cause that's one of the things you kind o' have to consider when you're gettin' hitched, but anyhoo, Justine cast everybody's favorite Unnatural Lust on him to get him in the mood, which is kind o' sad if you've ever used it 'cause it doesn't last long enough to really have any fun, but I guess she wasn't lookin' for fun, she was lookin' for heirs, and I guess it can last long enough for that. But the spell hit me, too, and I'm sure Llew would argue that it was her Magic Circle that protected me, and I'd argue that the closest livin' thing was Forth's beard, and the notion o' THAT thing was what protected me, but I'm bettin' it's cause I've been hit by that spell one too many times in my well-spent youth. Or maybe it was 'cause I was old and cranky. Or maybe it was the circle.

Anyhoo, the bedroom was so fun I just had to check the closets and the bathroom. The closets were pretty much what I expected: All kinds o' fancy clothes that were a few dozen sizes too big for me, and about 10% of them men's clothes to boot, and none of 'em lootable 'cause we were in Calum's house. But the bathroom! Oooh, the bathroom! The toilet was all done up like a throne so I had to run in, and o' course I got to see some kind o' haunt 'bout Justine threatenin' Algernon to never, EVER mention her age again, but I was actually kind o' sympathetic 'bout that one, so I think the haunt took pity on me 'cause nothing happened to me. But I was old, and I'd found a grand toilet, so I shooed the rest of the party out and used it. It was way too big, but it still made me feel like a queen. And a queen has privileges.
So I'd jumped on the bed, I'd gone through the closet, and I'd used the toilet, so I figured I was done with the room and we moved on.

The next bedroom was all neatly made and looked like a man's room with an attached bath. How could we tell it was a man's room? I dunno; it just was. Forth insisted that it was his turn, what with me bein' old and gettin' both the ballroom and the master bedroom 'n' such, so I think he was gettin' kind o' jealous. So he went in, and he told us he saw a vision o' Justine beratin' Calum and tellin' him never to beat Rufus again, and that he was supposed to lose at everything he did from then on. And then Forth started gettin' withered, 'n' pale, and started lookin' just like he does when we raise him from the dead. So we all kind o' sighed, 'cause we knew what it was, and we knew Forth'd be all miss-y and weak and would probably die again if we fought anything nasty, but he'd never admit it nor let me go in front or whatever, 'cause Forth's a good guy that way. But Forth's gotta be a master-class drainy guy. Maybe we start calling him Forth the Plumber? Anyhoo, the bed wasn't made and the bathroom had been used and not cleaned up, so either some squatter'd moved in, or this really was Calum's room and he didn't bother cleanin' up after himself before fleein' from the haunts. Now that's cowardice!

We moved on and saw a lady's room (I said don't ask!). It was really opulent, which means done up all fancy, except for the dead fox in the cage, which seemed like a really weird decoration in what seemed like an otherwise-nice room. So Llew took a look at the fox, 'cause she's good with dead things, and she told us it'd starved to death a few days ago. I felt kind o' bad about that; innocent creatures shouldn't suffer 'cause their masters are right bastards. O' course, innocent creatures shouldn't be locked in cages in any case, so that was just the evil o' whoever's room it was. Forth figured he was near dead anyway, so why not go in and finish the job, so he got to see a scene play out that kind o' blew all our minds. He saw Freya and her husband, all ready to go on their honeymoon, and Saskiya was the one who gave Freya's hubby the poisoned wine! Saskiya then leaned over and whispered, "And if you ever come back, you'll feel pain a hundred times worse!" Then she went off asking Freya why she'd just poisoned her husband! So Freya, Mistress of the Silly Hidden Veil, really hadn't poisoned her husband! She'd been framed by Saskiya, then convinced that she'd done it, then turned utterly evil! Boy, humans have weak minds! Or maybe the Jeggares are just so bent towards evil that the slightest little push'll get them over. Makes me worry 'bout Calum. But the haunt tried to poison Forth, but he's a stubborn sort and wouldn't let it, so we got out of the room pretty unscathed. The bathroom had a scene of Freya sobbing in the bathroom, saying, "It was supposed to be a love potion!"
I'd have felt sorry for her, but she'd turned too evil for that.

The next room we found was a sun room full o' plants, and we were pretty sure they were going to be evil, but we're kind o' stupid that way, so we sent Forth in anyway and watched all the plants attack 'im and try to grab 'im and shoot poisony thorns at 'im and all kinds of hilarity like that, and we didn't even get a show for all that trouble. So we closed up the door and figured we'd tell Calum not to use that room, and I used Ornery on Forth and I'm beginning to think Ornery's a "she" and she has a little crush on Forth, 'cause she worked on him again. After that we found a war room, which didn't make any sense to me, but Alembic said that the room was for ALL the houses to meet and discuss battle plans, such as how to lose to the goblins 'n' such. Forth kept on hoggin' the rooms and went in, and he saw a scene of Saskiya insistin' on workin' with the Mother of Wights to restore the family to power. Algernon disapproved because it would be wrong, and I was beginnin' to feel sorry for the guy. Justine disapproved because it wasn't Lawful. I hated her even more. Saskiya told them that she'd succeed over their dead bodies, and Forth got hit with another thing that he ignored. So I guess gettin' drained makes him tougher, not weaker. But he was still hoggin' all the fun.

We searched the room pretty thoroughly and found plans goin' all the way back to the goblin wars. Someone (either Llew or Alembic) found a map that had been altered to show fewer goblins than there were, leadin' to Algernon's humiliatin' defeat. Man, the man couldn't get a break! Our next stop was the library, which wasn't haunted, but which was apparently a really well-organized library. I don't really get along with pretty much anythin' well-organized, so it didn't impress me, but Alembic practically started droolin', and Llew started talkin' 'bout researchin' some o' the undead she hadn't been able to identify anywhere else. To each his or her own, I guess.
The library had a closet with a bunch o' magically-preserved books, including the family history. That one had a permanent preservation spell on it, but it was weird; we looked for all the Jeggares we were killin' and they were all there, but Callum wasn't. Llew looked at the book really carefully, and said it had been very carefully pulled apart, a couple o' pages removed, and then bound together again. Now that's some serious hate there; botherin' to take apart a book just to pull a page out. Why not burn the book? Who cares? Ah, well, I'm just a gnome...

So, since we'd already found Freya's room, when we found another woman's room we knew it was Saskiya's, so we knew it was going to be nasty, so I gave Forth a dose o' antitoxin to drink before he went in. He was a bit leery 'bout drinkin' somethin' I offered him, and I pretended to be offended, but everyone knew I was proud, 'cause I couldn't hide it. Forth got hit by some kind o' spell, but he shook it off again, 'cause drained Forth is tough Forth, and we found Saskiya's diary. 'Cause I think she wanted us to find it, 'cause she was too proud o' all the evil she'd done to not tell someone. We learned all kinds o' horrible stuff. Really, really horrible. She'd learned how to make "simulacrums" from the Mother of Wights, or at least gotten scrolls to be able to do it, so she could replace the whole family. She'd locked Algernon away over a year ago and replaced him with a simulacrum. She'd done the same to Justine a month or two ago. And Calum.

Aw, carp.

The guy we'd been working with all this time was a simulacrum, under the complete control of Saskiya! And it only got worse from there! The Mother of Wights had given her a formula for becoming a lich, and she had the whole thing planned out, all the way up to her own public beheading, which happened what? Last night? Two nights ago? Oops.
Other than her diary, which she obviously wanted us to find as some kind o' warning, there was nothin' in her room or her bathroom. So we went on to Rufus' room, and we knew it was his room before we even got there 'cause he was the only one left. The haunt was pretty tame, with Justine tellin' Rufus that all he needed was a good cook (damned cook), a good wife (how do you get a "good" wife by kidnapping 'em?), and a good house. Poor mama's boy took it WAY too far.
Well, we were done with the upstairs. I was old. Forth was drained. But it was time to head down to the cellar.

We braced ourselves, opened the door, and headed down...

So... somethin' pushed against our brains as we were goin' down. Forth kind o' staggered a little, Llew made a face like she'd just tasted somethin' she really didn't like, and I felt the steps go all wobbly under my legs, but I kept my balance. Alembic didn't. He fell right over practically onto me, and I had to dodge a bit to avoid him! I figured turnabout was fair play, so as soon as he hit the steps I hopped onto his back and started doin' a little step dance. I kind o' felt a little bad when Llew looked back and told me he was dead. Both 'cause he was dead, and 'cause he wouldn't be able to appreciate my little gag. I took a couple more steps, just in case he was just fakin', but he didn't move and he sure seemed dead now that Llew'd mentioned it, and I figured dancin' on your dead friend is probably frowned upon in some circles, so I got off.

The room itself was pretty disgusting, too. It was all done up like a cellar, with shelves for pickled vegetables and casks for wine 'n' such, but instead o' pickled vegetables there were all kinds o' body parts in jars, and they were alive. There were a pair o' eyes lookin' at us, and Llew said they weren't undead, and Forth said they weren't evil, but Llew didn't trust 'em so she shook 'n' swirled the jar somethin' awful, 'til we saw a stomach over in another jar start heavin', so through experimentation we learned all the body parts were connected. Llew covered up the eyeballs so they'd stop starin' at us and makin' the stomach hurl 'n' such, and we checked around for any kind o' information. Wrapped around one o' the bottles was a piece o' paper. It was Calum's page from the family records! So we suddenly realized that all these body parts were probably Calum, and that guy we'd been dealin' with was a simulacrum. Crap!

Llew learned somethin' even more interestin' from the page: Calum was the son from Algernon's first wife, which kind o' 'splained why he wasn't irrevocably evil when all his brothers 'n' sisters were, and I figured we probably owed it to him to figure out how to put all his pieces together again. And once we did, maybe he'd be able to help us get Alembic sorted out as well, though, lookin' at his body lyin' all peacefully on the stairs with a few gnome-foot-sized bruises on his back, he seemed restful enough.
And just because if its name was Jeggare, it had to be evil, we found out that Algernon's first wife had died under mysterious circumstances just before Justine came along. I swear, if you ever meet a Jeggare woman, just stab her! It's the only way to be sure!

Just past the cellar was a converted storeroom. It looked like maybe it used to be a root cellar or somethin', but now it had a feedin' table with some choppin' implements, a little chest, and a couple o' cells. Forth went in, 'cause I just wasn't ready to deal with whatever we were goin' to see down here, bein' old an' all, and, er, yeah, mournin' Alembic's passin' 'n' all. In the first cell was Algernon, all dead 'n' shriveled up. Llew 'n' Forth looked at him and he wasn't undead, just dead. He'd died from lack o' water. So yeah, Siskya had been keepin' her whole gosh darned family locked up or dissected or whatnot, all locked down here, while she made simulacrums of 'em to do her biddin'. Reachin' through the bars, in a gesture that would've been sweet if she weren't so evil to the core, Justine's corpse was reachin' for Algernon's. Or maybe he'd just died first and she'd been tryin' to loot his corpse. That seemed more in her nature. So, even though Justine was evil, she wasn't as evil as Freya had become, or as evil as Saskiya had been born ('cept perhaps in givin' birth to her), so we decided they both needed a proper burial, plus Llew thought giving 'em a proper burial would end the haunts, too, and maybe fix my old age and Forth's drainage. She didn't think it'd fix Alembic's deadness, but it was worth a try. So I opened the cells for 'em, Llew 'n' Forth bundled up the bodies, and Forth threw 'em on his back 'cause he can carry things like that. Which is why I ride him whenever I get the chance. 'Cause I don't think he really notices. We looked at the table and all got a little sick, 'cause it was obvious that Saskiya'd been feedin' 'em bits and pieces of Calum all this time, and all the organs 'n' such we found in the jars in the first part o' the cellar were all that was left of him! I sure hope Llew can teach me how to kill a lich, 'cause I know one that needs killin'. Along with a queen, but I figure I can probably kill one o' those. Though I should probably ask Llew about the "wight" part.

Our next order o' business was to check out the small chest, so I knelt down and put my hand against it and... it stuck! And the little chest started tryin' to bite me! I was lucky I was old 'n' bitter and not in a better mood, 'cause that kind o' thing would've usually had me rollin' around on the floor in stitches, and I would've been an easy meal. Instead I was all cranky so I dumped a bunch of alchemist's solvent all over the thing, and that got me loose and made it pretty mad, I think! Forth 'n' Llew hit it a bit, and Llew complained that I wasn't stabbin' it so I did and it died. I guess it had a weak spot in some low area I couldn't figure out. I looked inside to get my reward and found... guts!?!?!? Who makes a bitey chest and fills it with internal organs?!?!? What kind o' prize is THAT?!?!?
So I kicked it a couple o' times in a spot where I could tell there was solvent (it's purple, which is why I like it, and how I could tell), but it didn't make me feel better... much. A more thorough search turned up a book made o' human skin with ancient writin's on how to become a lich. Llew figured the Queen of Wights had given it to Saskiya as a gift, and now Llew had to see that such an unholy text was properly destroyed. I didn't disagree, and neither did Forth.

From there on, it was just clean-up. Forth carried out Algernon 'n' Justine, and once they were outside o' the house we all felt the haunts lift. But we were still going to bury them properly, because we're good people. Forth went back down and got Alembic 'n' all the jars, 'cause Llew didn't want 'em in her bags, and my bags aren't big enough, and then we "borrowed" a cart from the estate to wheel it all over to Father Ferrington's. I figured we'd done at least enough work to earn a cart as payment, but Forth was bound 'n' determined to return it, so we borrowed it. So, the first order o' business was to get Algernon and Justine all arranged to be properly buried, 'n' Llew 'n' Father Farrington dealt with all that. Then Llew asked Father Ferrington to raise Alembic and it turns out he wasn't dead! He was just inside the eyeballs in the jar! I started thinkin' 'bout Llew shakin' the jar and the eyeballs swirlin' and the stomach heavin' and just started gigglin' up a storm. So all Llew had to do to let him out was open the jar, so she did, and Alembic popped back to life! And started whinin' 'bout little gnome bruises on his back. I was sure it was Forth, and he was just mistakin' gnome feet for dwarf feet. It happens.

With the bodies all set and Alembic back to his grumpy ol' self, Llew wanted to go back to the house to study simulacra so we could decide what to do with 'em. It was boooooooring, and I was worried I was gonna age some more, but instead the opposite happened, and I turned back into my bright, beautiful self again! Woo hoo! Forth got better, too, and that made me happy! So I danced and sang 'round the library a bit, but when I started streakin' Llew told me it was quiet time again so I put my clothes back on and entertained myself climbin' around the other rooms while they worked. So, what Llew 'n' Alembic figured out was that Saskiya probably wasn't a good enough caster to create simulacra herself, so kind o' like I do she tried to convince scrolls to work for her, and 'cause she's evil they probably were scared and worked better for her than for me. It'd be awfully expensive, but she had all the Jeggare money at her disposal so she could afford it. It turned out that simulacra were permanent, lower-level copies o' people, 'cept they were under the complete control o' whoever created 'em. That meant that our Calum, and the elder Jeggares in the cells, were all simulacra and Saskiya could make 'em do anything she wanted 'em to. So they all had to die. I didn't mind, 'cept Calum, 'cause he seemed like a decent sort. So we had a real moral quandary, and this time Forth wasn't goin' on and on 'bout what the law said. Accordin' to the law, the Jeggares were guilty and were goin' to get executed that night. 'Cept now we knew they'd been prisoners the whole time and hadn't really done all that stuff, so it was kind o' mean to let it hang on 'em. On the other hand, havin' seen their past, and knowin' that Justine had murdered Algernon's first wife in order to get her claws on him, it wasn't like Justine hadn't done enough to deserve to be beheaded anyway. Plus, there was that whole undead army thing we had to stop, and pissin' off our allies by first provin' the Jeggares guilty, then innocent, probably wouldn't have gone over all too well. We decided that since the Jeggares were already dead, and Justine at least had already done enough to merit execution, we'd let things lie and not get anyone any more confused than we were. Since Calum was "innocent", we'd have the temple of Asmodeus raise him, as long as he was wililn' to pay for it himself, which I figured he would be, bein' inheritor to the Jeggare fortune and all.

So, plan in hand, we first went to Mayor Muskgrove 'n' told him all about Saskiya's plan to be a lich, and simulacra, 'n' all that, and he got all mad and stabbed Algernon, who dissolved right nicely into a pool of water, so he stabbed Justine, too. Which kind o' messed up the whole execution thing, but that was his problem now. We told him Saskiya was our problem. Then he summoned Calum, and we laid out the whole thing to Calum, and he took it pretty well, findin' out that he was a lie and had to die but we were goin' to raise his real self. Llew said the Mayor had all kinds o' underhanded thoughts like takin' our rewards back 'cause we hadn't caught the real people or seizin' the Jeggare property while Calum was dead 'cause it didn't have any rightful owners, but with a paladin and an inquisitor in the room he didn't try anythin' funny, and I didn't stab him. Go figure. So we didn't want to kill Calum 'cause he'd been right straight with us, so a guard did it instead, and I was kind o' relieved when we were right and he really was a simulacrum. We took Calum's body parts over to the temple o' Asmodeus, and I was kind o' surprised that Archbishop Blackburn was willin' to raise Calum, but I guess money talks, and Calum hadn't killed any of his relatives or anythin', so he was a pragmatic man.

The new Calum didn't remember anything, and was kind of a jerk, but he offered to pay us. I listed what I'd used in his house, and it was 270 gold and he paid me back, but Llew 'n' Forth held out askin' for payment, figurin' they could get favors later. New Calum really was a pain. I was sure he'd be best buds with Alembic. So we left. But he followed us. Kind o' cause he wanted to know what had happened. So we had to go back to the manor, tell him all about his lichy sister 'n' whatnot, and didn't get out 'til really late.

I was SO happy to hit the hay that I didn't think about anything when I went to sleep, which made it even more surprising when I found Calistria in my bed again, smilin' that smile that says, "Either I want you to take me now, or I'm about to stab you in the eye," and you can never tell which. So, bein' a sensible gnome, I figured I was 'bout to get stabbed in the eye and gave her a courtesy.
"Trig, my dear. Are you sure you're worshipping the right god? You seem far fonder of freeing people than of pleasures of the flesh... or the blade... Are you sure you wouldn't be happier with Cayden? Or maybe Arshea?"
Yep. She was gonna stab me. I knew it.
"No, your goddessship. You're my goddess, and I'm gonna make you proud! It's just hard to get all lusty with so many undead 'n' rotting things about, and I figure I've been doin' pretty well on the vengeance side o' things. And I know all this Lawful stuff must be buzzin' in your head, too, so freein' those as have been wronged just seems right. But if you want me to stop... nah. I'm not gonna stop. I have to free 'em. It's what I do."
She laughed. And oh, what that did to me! I'm just not gonna go there, 'cause even a gnome can blush.
"Then, little Trig, continue to enjoy my favor, and perhaps one day you'll find that you're charming enough to find yourself a suitor... or twelve..."

I woke up in the morning and started getting dressed. And my top wouldn't tie. And I looked in the mirror. And my eyes were even more purple and deep.

Damn it, Calistria! I can't afford to keep buyin' new tops, and you're going to throw off my balance!

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Session 21, Played 29-Jul-2018

We didn't spend a whole lot o' time in Logas, but we had to get Forth raised from the dead again (and no discount! Boo!), we had to sell off all the stuff from inside the wagons to pay for it (I have to admit it; Alembic's pretty good at all that rot), we had to turn Freya's head over to the mayor to collect our reward (he didn't seem particularly displeased that it was only her head), and Alembic had to shop around for a couple o' scrolls o' teleportation so we could get to Eledir and get Forth some proper healin' (no offense, Father Farrington, but you take too long), and then get as close to Gillamoor as we could (turns out Alembic never made it there, so he'd take us to just outside o' the town proper). So yeah, "A few minutes," became, "A few hours," became, "We'd better rest 'cause not everybody has their spells," so we spent the night at the Wanderer's Rest, put up our horses, got up bright 'n' early, then all gathered 'round Alembic in a big koom-bah-ya moment as he read from the scroll and the world got all dizzy and...
...we were someplace I'd never been before!

Alembic had warned us that the scroll might mess up and take us somewhere wrong, but once he looked around he told us we were indeed in Eledir, right in the marketplace. Pretty darned nice way to travel, if you ask me! Hey, Alembic! When are you going to learn to do that without a scroll? Just a baleful glare? That's OK! I'm used to it! So, Eledir looked "new", since I can't think of a better way to say it. All the buildings looked clean and new. As Alembic showed us around, we could see there were a lot o' different temples around. Azmodeus was still #1, but Cayden Cailean was #2, and that was perfectly OK with me! I might be able to find a bit of rough-and-tumble drunken entertainment 'round here, 'cept we were on business, and then we were teleportin' to Gillamoor, which, last I checked, had nothin' but a bunch o' underage horny human paladins lookin' for a good time. Which isn't my idea of the same, thank you very much! So Alembic steered us right over to a little outpost o' Torag, sittin' right there in the city proper! I've never seen so many beards! I think I could've grabbed about half a dozen kids and played hide-and-seek for a week without runnin' out of beard to run through. 'Cept for the danger fleas, 'cause I'm sure those beards have fleas, and I'm sure they're dangerous, so I've named 'em "danger fleas", sight unseen.

So, the outpost o' Torag. OK. Lookin' at the beards and imaginin' fun stuff to do with 'em was kind o' fun... for maybe 5 minutes! But the dwarves had to do their big ol' dwarven greetin' for Forth, and he had to do his big ol' dwarven greetin' back, and then he had to report on everythin' he'd done, and all the times he'd died, and all 'bout the Jeggares, and all that, and he had to do it all Lawful-like, I'm sure, which I'm sure made it take MUCH longer than it should've. But at this point it was hardly a "chase" of Siskya, and more like a, "I hope the town's still on fire by the time we get there, and not all burned out 'cause we took too long!"

But Alembic said we had plenty o' time because Siskya didn't teleport, and I wanted to argue but that would've interrupted Forth's Lawful reporting, and even Llew was toleratin' the whole thing, so I just juggled a bit, and played hide the knivesies, and entertained myself as much as I could in a temple o' Torag. Which isn't much. But at least the Torag guys wanted to show us how good the walls were and how well they'd keep out goblins 'n' other attackers, 'cause dwarves are proud o' that sort o' thing, instead o' just not sittin' still so you can't get attacked in the first place, and the thing that was most interestin' to me was how few places there were outside o' the walls. The Torag guys said it was 'cause the city was so new. I bet it was because the city was so unpopular. But I hadn't looked around yet, and I don't think that many Cayden Caileanites would stick around a borin' city, so maybe the Torag guys were right.

So, after all that, the Torag guys couldn't fix up Forth, but they said the Cayden Cailean temple might be able to, and my jaw just about scraped dirt. Did a dwarf really just send another dwarf to a temple o' Cayden Cailean? I mean, I know dwarves like their drinkin', so I can see 'em likin' that part o' Cayden, but after Forth's stuffy lawfulness, I didn't think they'd want anythin' to do with a fun god like Cayden. (I'm Calistrian, so I get to call 'im by his first name, y'know.) We wandered over to the drinkin' hall, er, temple, and saw all kinds o' construction goin' on. Especially a lot o' new mansions. I felt kind o' bad. All that effort just about to get destroyed by an invadin' undead army! Ah, well, at least they had jobs for now, and if we did OUR job their work wouldn't go to waste. We went, had our obligatory drinks ('cause that's what you do at a temple o' Cayden, and I wouldn't want to offend), paid the cleric, and suddenly we had our big ol' burly Forth back, good as new! It didn't cost everythin' we had, either, so we went shopping.

The first thing we noticed in the market was that there were a bunch o' outlanders. Weird accents. Weird clothes. And more than one gnome! It was too bad we were in a hurry, 'cause there were enough gnomes around that we could cause some serious fun! Instead, we focused on gettin' what we thought we might need. In the fight with Freya, I'd seen Llew usin' these cool boots that let her walk on walls, and I didn't know that I wanted the boots, but I found a wand that did the same thing. The spell's name was "Spider Climb", so I named the wand Spidey. I hope he(?) likes it! (And no, I didn't check, 'cause I know that got Ornery all sore at me!) Then there were some "Boots of Elvenkind" that I asked whether they had in gnome sizes just 'cause I was feelin' ornery, but they did, and not only that, the boots are s'posed to make you better at tumblin'. And they were all pink and frilly and had embroidered flowers on 'em and looked just like a little girl's pretty little boots. But they were my size, so I was sure they were made for gnomes, so I bought 'em. I started talkin' 'bout how I was lookin' forward to havin' dinner at a tavern o' Cayden Cailean, and maybe wakin' up next to a gnome or two I didn't know with a poundin' headache, when Llew reminded me that we had some paladins to save. Hah! D'oh! Savin' paladins is funny. Havin' to abandon a temple o' Cayden isn't. 'Cept Llew said we'd have to come back after we'd caught all the Jeggares to make sure the city was saved 'cause we hadn't found all the zombie-makin' stuff yet, so I felt better 'cause I'd be back, but worse 'cause it might be a zombie wasteland when I got here. Ah, well! Just means we have to hurry!

Alembic did his scroll thingy again, and we were on some road in the middle o' nowhere. 'Course Llew immediately said we were in the right place, 'cause she's smart that way, and it was around lunchtime so we had a quick meal, but Alembic didn't want to share any o' my food for some reason, so after we ate we decided to go into town to see what was happenin' there. I've got short little legs, so I convinced Forth to carry me. It was fun! And I'm lazy. So we made our triumphant return to Gillamoor, 'cept no one was there. We checked Herrick's house. Nobody. We checked Ellis' house. Nobody. We checked the old temple o' Asmodeus. Nobody. We were beginnin' to wonder whether we were too late, and we just couldn't tell "destroyed Gillamoor" from "undestroyed Gillamoor" when Llew 'n' Forth got the idea to check out the barracks. Sure enough, we found some guards from Logas there, but we didn't know them but they knew us. In fact, a couple of 'em were Farbridges and knew Alembic, so we guessed they were OK. They didn't know 'bout any attack, either, but they were happy we were there to help if one happened to come along. Turns out all Harrick's 'n' Ellis' people had stuck around long enough to wipe out the cockroaches, which was about 3 days, tops, then skedaddled to places they hadn't been trapped for 10 years. Couldn't say as I blamed 'em, but it didn't seem all that Lawful to me. I decided not to ask Forth 'bout it, 'cause he probably would've given me a LOOOOOONG explanation as to why it was OK, and I didn't need to hear it.
We talked 'bout where we'd be stayin' for the night, and the soldiers sighed wistfully and said there weren't any taverns in town yet, and then Llew got all poetic and said, "A town without a tavern is a town with no heart."
LLew can be surprisin' sometimes.

Since the town wasn't under immediate attack, we went 'n' visited Cinderella 'n' Grace. The bleachling still creeps me out, but I was polite, and Grace is always fun to visit. I climbed Thorn's tree to say Hi to him and show him Thorn (the dagger). I figured he'd approve. But it was kind o' depressin' so I stopped, and went down and visited his grave like I was s'posed to (*I* knew he was in the tree, not the grave, but big folk seem to like graves). Grace and/or Cinderella had been takin' good care of it, and it looked really nice and had all kinds o' flowers on it, then Forth started talkin' 'bout how you're supposed to put rocks on graves, which just makes sense for dwarves, and everybody just started talkin' 'bout what was proper on a grave and what it symbolized and I just kept my mouth shut 'cause I'm smart that way.

Since there were people in town we didn't want to see killed, we decided we'd go back out o' town and wait for Saskiya on the road. That way we'd hear her comin' in plenty o' time, and stop her before she even SAW Gillamoor, much less laid waste to it! So we headed out o' town. And we waited. And we planned. And we talked about poison. Forth said he could protect only one person. I figure we all knew who that should be, Mr. "I die to protect peasants I could o' raised for the same amount o' cash anyway". I was out o' trees, so we talked about settin' traps or diggin' pits or somethin' to keep her from gettin' away, but we decided Alembic's pits were probably the way to go, as long as Forth could manage to get any innocents out o' her wagons before Alembic did it. So we waited. And waited some more. And I ran out o' tricks to do. And tumbles. And fun things to eat. Finally it was dinnertime and she hadn't shown up. Apparently teleportation was a lot faster than horses. I guess I should've known that. But it was still boring. We set up a cold camp and spent the night in the woods. And y'know what? Nothing attacked us! I was beginnin' to get worried that all these things that weren't attacking us now were goin' to attack us later, when we weren't ready for 'em. But at least I got a good night's rest.
Forth said he'd watch the road if we wanted to go check on the town again, so we went in and I played with Grace in the graveyard for a while, 'cause it was a LOT nicer'n waitin', but a bit before lunch I headed back out. And it was a good thing I did!

Someone was havin' a hot lunch in the woods a few miles out o' town. Either that, or burnin' bodies, but there was smoke a ways off up the road. We decided to investigate, and headed up the road. Trouble was, much as I hate trees, it would've been nice to have some here, 'cause once we could see 'em from a few hundred yards off, they could probably make us out, too. Sure enough, Alembic, Forth, and Llew started castin' spells to prepare for the fight, and we heard them doin' it to. So we headed in. As we got closer, we could see a big ol' palanquin bein' carried by 8 near-naked guys. They were buff guys, but they had ropes 'round their necks and whip marks all over their tops that said they weren't carryin' the palanquin willin'ly. And that was a problem, 'cause Forth'd object to droppin' the whole thing in a pit o' acid. Poor guys! There was a fighter guy among 'em, and I'm sure he was plannin' on carvin' up Forth, but I had plans for his kidneys, 'cause fighters in helms don't see too well, so I was lookin' forward to meetin' him. Shieldy worked for me, and Alembic even gave me Bull's Strength so I knew it was serious. As we got close, some guy inside the palanquin finished castin' a spell and some tentacly, eyeball thingy appeared in the road in front of us. Forth tried to run up 'n' meet it, but Alembic just dropped it in a pit, 'cause who wants to fight an eyeball anyway? Apparently whoever was doin' it summoned a second one, too, but it didn't last long, either.
Someone said, "Take the paladin first. He's the most dangerous," which I almost laughed at 'cause they hadn't met Llew, but I was happy they said it cause it'd make Llew mad. I decided it was time to go show fighter guy the pointy side o' Thorn so I slipped into the weeds.

And oh, man! What a tangle! Turned out the weeds weren't such a good idea, 'cause I couldn't move in 'em very fast without cuttin' my way through 'em, and cuttin' through 'em wouldn't be all sneaky-like. So another fight, another period o' time with me wanderin' in the weeds. This time literally. 'Cept I could see a little o' what was goin' on, 'cause someone popped up a big wall o' stone, and I could at least see it. And apparently Forth was on one side of it and the rest of us were on the other, which would've been bad if Alembic 'n' Llew weren't already flying. And I was in the weeds already, and even the wall didn't go into the weeds, 'cause I figure walls don't like weeds either. Ah, well! Carry on!

I finally got close enough to pop out o' the weeds and stab at the fighter guy, but he was too well-armored for me to to anythin' to, so he and Forth just stood there tradin' blows with me standin' there. So Alembic gifted him one o' those watery balls and off he rolled! Speakin' o' poppin' out, some guy with a scythe just popped in out o' nowhere and hit Llew somethin' awful. Alembic Magic Missiled him, 'cause Alembic was showin' off how useful he was, and Llew cast somethin' that made me feel better, but Fighter Guy in a Water Bubble just reached right out o' the bubble and beat on me somethin' awful! Who knew? People were yellin' at me to do something, but I was pretty darned hurt so I stepped back from the ball and whipped out Ornery and healed myself a bit, and told Forth he ought to heal us, too. Forth was arguin' that if he healed now, he'd heal the scythe guy, so Llew solved that problem by chopping him right in half! Told you Llew was mad! So Forth healed us, and Bubble Fighter got healed too, but he was kind o' wanderin' off in the bubble so we weren't too worried. In fact, he finally got out and took to just runnin' away from the bubble, so we figured we had time with him.

Trouble was, these were some really poppy guys. Another guy, this one some kind o' sorcerer, popped out from behind a wall and hit me 'n' Llew with some lightning. Or tried to. I dodged it, and since I had Ornery out already, I gave Llew some healin' and then ducked back into the weeds to try to find any more poppy guys. Llew shot at the sorcerer guy, but he had a bunch o' those Mirror Images and she just popped a few. Alembic tried Magic Missile on him, but he was immune. Forth, since he still doesn't have a bow and sorcerer guy was flyin', healed us all some more. Which I really appreciated.
So the guy hit me 'n' Llew with lightning again, but I avoided it again and it just made Llew mad. I threw a dagger at him to pop one o' those images, and that let Llew fly up and whack him really well and he dropped. Alembic did more missiles at the fighter who was still runnin' from the bubble and he dropped.

Siskya'd seen enough and made her naked guys run away, but they weren't very fast, so we chased 'em down, she surrendered, and we stripped 'n' bound her, as is the tradition with Jeggares. I enjoy it. So, sure enough, the carriers were all slaves, so we set 'em free and I gave each of 'em 10 gold pieces to get themselves set up again. Llew tried to pay me back again, and I kept tellin' her that freein' slaves is a Calistrian thing. At least I think it is. I don't care. I like freein' slaves.
So we rode triumphant back into Gillamoor with Siskya all bound up 'n' such, and we met up with the soldiers and they all cheered and then they asked how we were goin' to get her back to Logas.


So we worked on it for a while, but the best they could do was send a message to Logas to have stuff teleported to us, and that would be ridiculously expensive and wouldn't get us any closer with Siskya unless we paid for a teleport scroll, which would be even more expensive. So the soldiers gave us 8 horses to get us to Logas on the double (no ponies?!?!? Guess I'll be ridin' in style), and Llew suggested that the slaves set up a tavern in Gillamoor, which the soldiers heartily approved of. The captain of the soldiers said that if they were in Logas, he'd have to return the slaves to their owners, but since we weren't in Logas and Gillamoor had no laws, he figured they were free. Smart captain!

So we took the fighter, and the sorcerer, and Siskya, and traveled back to Logas. We didn't take the dead scythe guy 'cause SHE was an Urgathoan and Llew just made sure she'd never come back from the dead again and buried her in a bunch o' holy water, which was just as well, 'cause I didn't like her much, even though I'd never met her. Or even figured out her gender when she was alive. It took us 10 days, but we got to see that the logging camp we'd un-haunted was still un-haunted and startin' to do real business again, and the various inns that hadn't gotten themselves killed by recognizing Saskiya. Trouble was, that meant the Jeggare parents had 10 more days to get away. We turned her in to the mayor and got to see her beheaded, and lightning-bolty sorcerer guy was apparently an accomplice so he got beheaded, too. Fighter guy was let go, 'cause I don't understand the law, but he didn't seem to hold a grudge so I figured I'd let mine go, too. The priestess of Urgathoa wasn't even on their record books, which made them all concerned but I figure I'm probably not on their books, either, so who cares?

After the beheadin', which I watched, a town guard showed up. Turns out Calum's house is haunted. By the spirits of his dead parents.

Ah, well, at least we won't have to go searchin' for 'em. 'Cept their heads, 'cause they're worth money!

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Session 20, Played 22-Jul-2018

Once the deed was done on Rufus, we headed into the market area 'cause I had to restock; Alembic had used up all my alchemist's fire, plus my only vomit capsule, so I obviously needed more o' both. I thought of gettin' one all candy-coated 'n' shiny, but playin' the same trick on the same guy twice just isn't any fun at all. 'Cept it might be fun, 'cause it was Alembic 'n' all. Llew was still steamin' 'bout Forth protectin' Rufus, and laid into him 'bout makin' promises on her behalf 'n' such, and he argued that he'd only promised to protect Rufus so he hadn't been speakin' for her, he'd just been protectin' Rufus was all. The whole thing was kind o' unpleasant, and now I know how little kids feel when their parents are arguin'. I love Llew, and I love Forth, and I didn't care one way or the other who did the killin' as long as Rufus was dead, so I was just hopin' they'd make up before we had to find our next Jeggare. Fortunately, Llew 'n' Forth are sensible people, so after a bit they just agreed to disagree and we headed back to stay at the Wanderer's Rest for the night. Forth healed me all up and we sat down to dinner, and some guys showed up tellin' us how happy they were that we were after the Jeggares, and told us they had a present for us, and it was a big ol' box wrapped up with a big ribbon that just screamed, "I'm gonna blow up and spread poison all over this inn and kill all these innocent people 'cause Jeggare," so we didn't open it right there.

So I made sure it didn't look like it was going to blow up if we moved it, and we moved it on up to our room where we could examine it more closely, and where it'd only be us gettin' gassed if I guessed wrong. So I sniffed and I poked and I prodded, and if it was a trap I sure couldn't tell how it worked, so I stood back and let Forth open it, 'cause he kind o' likes the pain I think. But it wasn't pain at all! It was a nice bottle o' wine from Stan the Beer Man, happy that we'd kept his name out o' the whole thing. To be honest, I'd kind o' forgotten 'bout him 'cause I was really interested in stabbin' Jeggares, but hey, gettin' presents for bein' forgetful? I can live with that! So the wine was 60 years old, which was older'n me, an' the way Llew and Forth reacted I figured that was a good thing. I kind o' figure if the alcohol isn't pure enough to burn, then who really cares, but Alembic said it would probably be worth around 1000 gold on the market! Wow! Stan the RICH Beer Man! 'Course, there was no way we were goin' to sell it, 'cause it was a special heartfelt present 'n' all, and Forth 'n' Alembic kind o' wanted to drink it right there, but Llew wanted to save it for when we were on the road and all miserable 'n' such, 'cause it'd taste even better then. That's my Llew! Always thinkin' ahead to the worst! Forth and Alembic had to agree that that was a better idea, so Llew packed the wine up all nice-like in her pack and promised we'd all get a bit when the time was right. I was lookin' forward to findin' out just how bad things had to be before Llew opened the wine!

Another night in an inn, and another night with no attacks! I was gettin' downright spoiled! We went downstairs, lookin' forward to meetin' up with Iggy and his huge breakfast and findin' out what kind o' leads he had for us for the day, but there was no Iggy! In fact, we had no clues at all! Since we didn't know where the Jeggares had gone, and we didn't have any magic to find out, and it was the magic mart day in the square, we spent a nice day shoppin' and playin' with vagrant kids and gettin' bit by strange dogs and maybe someone might've tied a dog to a couple o' sheep and a chicken, but all in all it was pretty sweet. Would've been downright idyllic if it weren't for the fact that the Jeggares were gettin' another day ahead of us, and we couldn't afford to keep buyin' magnificent horses that WALKED ON WATER, 'cause they were kind o' 'spensive. So I'd restocked on extra alchemist's fire and smoke pellets and a couple o' extra vomit capsules, and I kind o' wanted to save up my money for all the Restoration spells we'd be buyin' pretty soon, so I just looked around to see what I could get, which is almost as fun as gettin' it, 'cept even in Logas they knew better than to let gnomes run off with their wares to "try them out", so it was mostly just hangin' around with Forth, Llew, and Alembic as they got whatnot. Llew got herself a nice adamantine spear and told me I should get a dagger, but I didn't see that little ol' me stabbin' a giant rock monster with a teensy little adamantine dagger would do one whit o' good, and they didn't have any nice adamantine Construct Bane slingstones, so I declined. I figure Llew 'n' Forth can deal with the constructs, and I'll deal with the stuff that has kidneys (or other stabbables).

Since we were in the market anyway and it was gettin' near lunchtime, we got ourselves some snacks, and just as we were startin' to eat we got approached by one o' the town guard, who said Captain Farbridge wanted to see us. Of course! Nothin' like startin' a fine meal to get people needin' your time to come crawlin' out o' the woodwork. 'Course Farbridge probably wouldn't be callin' us in unless he'd found somethin', so we figured we should talk to him. We went in, and got to see him in his office right away, and he didn't even have to offer us snacks 'cause we were already eatin', and I was wonderin' whether that was rude or clever of him, but I had a hunk o' some kind o' bird leg that was all sweet 'n' spicy at the same time and kind o' hard to eat without gettin' pieces of it all over myself, so I was entertained enough as it was and I didn't hold it against him. So he told us that somethin' strange had happened on the Riverbranch road the night o' the trial. All the guards had fallen ill at the exact same time, throwin' up somethin' awful. I was kind o' disappointed when not everyone turned to look at me, but they all knew I'd been at the trial, so it couldn't've been me. Still, it wouldn't been nice to have been accused of it, at least! Anyhoo, with all the guards pukin' their guts out, someone might have had a chance to slip through the gate! I started countin' time in my head... we had the trial, then the day o' chasin' down Rufus, then comin' back and shoppin', making this notice almost two full days after it happened! Someone needs to work on their reportin' structure!

So, first things first, we needed to be able to give chase, and those magical horses didn't last long enough. So Alembic bought himself a horse and named it Silversheen. Forth bought himself another heavy horse, but wouldn't name it "Doomed" like I wanted, so he probably just named it "Horse" again 'cause Forth. Since everyone else was buyin' horses, Llew grumbled about it and bought herself a horse, knowin' full well it was goin' to die, and named it Bane. Everyone started lookin' at me expectantly and Llew finally asked me where Yellow was. How the heck was *I* supposed to know that?!?! Oh, wait!
I figured I'd check the local stables of all the places I'd stayed, and finally tracked down Yellow in the stables of the Wanderer's Rest. So I paid *his* tab (stupid dangly bits I've got to dodge!), rode back to the others, and acted like I knew where he'd been all along. I don't think Llew bought it.
We rode up to the Riverbranch gate where we met the 4 guards there, and Llew started inquisitin' them. So, we learned that all 6 of 'em fell ill at the same time, and they felt really ill; like, "So ill I feel like I ate a handful of vomit capsules that Trig disguised as jelly candies" ill. So they didn't see anythin'. We saw a bunch o' kids playin' near the gate, so I tried to talk to 'em, but they didn't want to talk to me. Alembic grinned that squirrely grin o' his, about to show me up for makin' him puke the other day (Hey, bud! YOU ate somethin' out o' MY pack! It's not like I asked you to! And o' course, now if he asks for "normal rations" he's really in for it, so maybe I AM out to get him just a little for bein' mad at ME for eatin' MY vomit capsule, but... anyhoo...)
The kids liked Alembic better'n me, which just goes to show that human kids have no taste, but he got out o' them that while the guards were busy pukin' (which amused the kids no end, so I forgave 'em a little for ignorin' me), two really HUGE wagons drawn by eight horses had "sneaked" through the gates.
Matter of professional pride here, kids: Giant wagons being drawn by horses don't "sneak". They caused a "distraction" (such as a vomit capsule) and utilized the distracted nature of the guards (such as "pukin'") to escape detection by said guards. The fact that a bunch o' little Alembic-lovin' little ingrates who don't like gnomes could see the wagons plain as day pretty much PROVES they didn't "sneak".
Not that I'm bitter 'bout bein' ignored by the kids or anythin'.

So, Llew got out o' the guards that the road went to the capital. Brilliant lot, this. Alembic got that the driver of one o' the wagons had thrown somethin' at one o' the stone walls nearby and that's when the guards had started Worshippin' the Lunches Gone Past, and then one o' the kids called Alembic a paladin! Which made up for all their ignorin' o' me and everythin' else! If they think Alembic's a paladin, they obviously have no idea what the heck is goin' on! Heck, I'm surprised they can even dress themselves in the morning!
Anyhoo, with all our information gathered, Forth 'n' Llew went to go see whether they could find some big giant wagon tracks, while Alembic 'n' I went over to the wall to look for evidence. It was kind o' stinky by the wall, but nothin' I hadn't smelled before, and it wasn't hard to find a clay pot with some kind o' gooey stuff in the bottom. Bein' a sensible gnome, I decided not to touch it or drink it, but instead I pulled out my pot to put the whole mess into, and Alembic started going off 'bout where did I find a leprechaun's pot and did the leprechaun know I had his pot and he didn't know they made pots that small 'n' so forth. So, Alembic's bedroll will someday be visited by said goo, but all plans need time to ripen. Kind o' like fruit. Or bodies. 'Cept I think that's the wrong kind o ripenin'.
So I managed to behave myself and let Alembic sniff at the stuff without accidentally knocking any of it into his face, and he said it was a Stinking Cloud bomb o' the kind alchemists use, where you have to be an alchemist to use 'em 'cause you have to put magic into 'em, and that made me all kinds o' sad 'cause I couldn't make a bomb that made lots o' people throw up at once, but I'd ask around at the next market and see whether I could get somethin' similar, that maybe turned 'em purple instead or somethin'.
We reconvened with Llew 'n' Forth, and Llew had found the tracks and the whole group started talkin' sagely 'bout how slow the carts would be, and how much trouble they'd have goin' 'round other carts, until it became pretty darned clear that every single person in the group knew somethin' 'bout drivin' carts except ME! What's up with that? Why would an inquisitor or a paladin ever need to know how to drive a cart? Well, in Forth's case we know it's for loot 'n' victims, but what about Llew? Does she bring back the corpses of the inquisited to her temple? If she does, she's pretty sneaky about it, 'cause I haven't seen her do it yet!

Anyhoo, time was wastin' and we had a couple o' carts to catch, so we raced up the road. Or at least rode as fast as Yellow was willin' to go, which was a lot faster than I'd've gone, so I didn't complain. Much. We rode for the rest o' the day, figurin' we'd be able to tell pretty easily if the carts'd left the road, and just around sunset we came upon a nice little inn, lookin' like it was where it was just to catch all the stragglers who were too lazy to get out o' bed before noon and so couldn't get in a full day's ride. All the cart folk (that's what I'm callin' my party today) told me that no, it was because this was how far a cart could get in a day, but I liked my explanation better so I stuck with it. But they were right that there sure were a lot of carts parked out front. Whoever was rightest, the place was jumpin', and we were hard-pressed to get a table 'til Alembic payed some guys to vacate theirs. So, bein' on the small side, I like to let a man have his drink, and I would've preferred to have just joined 'em and bought 'em a round as a show of all-around friendship, but Alembic's a noble, so he shoos off all the peasants and gives 'em gold to make himself feel better about it. And o' course four of me could've fit in at that table really easily, but Llew and Alembic would've had problems, and Forth? Well, he's just a wide fellow, and that's not even coutin' the extra you have to give him because of his beard. I didn't really feel like sititn' at a table gained by takin' advantage of those who were down on their luck, so I wandered off 'til I found a few people my height, and it turned out that they were human kids, and kids who weren't swayed by noble gold, either, so o' course we had a grand old time hidin' among the adults' legs and stealin' stuff and puttin' it back in other places that were harder to find (always works best at a drinkin' establishment, but there's nothin' like sneakin' into someone's house and movin' their keys! The noises they make!). A few things may have gotten lit on fire, but I made sure the fires were small and didn't cause any permanent damage. I'm good at that.
So the kids told me that the wagons had come in 2 nights ago, which meant they'd left right about the time they learned about the trial. Guess they knew what the outcome was going to be, huh? Well, they were creepy people who never removed their cloaks, and I always love talkin' to kids about such things 'cause they have a good sense o' creepy, and they don't mind if you play an occasional trick on them 'cause they'll just figure out a way to trick you back, which is all kinds o' challengin' for all parties involved. Once I had all the information I needed, I tried to be all Alembic like and spilled out a piece o' gold for each of 'em, but they proved they were good kids by pickin' it all up and givin' it back to me, so I rewarded 'em all with a silver apiece. So I saved money, proved the kids were honest, and DIDN'T buy my friendship! Take THAT, Alembic!

'Course he wasn't lookin' at all 'cause he was talkin' to all the adults 'bout the same thing and getting all the same information without gettin' beer spilled down his backside or sneezed on or bitten or havin' to slip itch powder into Alec's drawers, but I bet I had more fun. But o' course adults pay more attention to the kind o' creep that comes through, so Alembic could even add that it was 4 guards and a woman, probably a Jeggare 'cause she had a noble bearing to her and all the guards were all obedient towards her. We asked to see their rooms, and a little more gold changed hands and the innkeep didn't see an issue, so we poked around. So yet again I didn't do much o' anythin' other than stand there and tell 'em there weren't any traps or secret doors or assassins or anythin' else of any interest, while Llew told us all that nobody'd slept in the beds, and one o' the rooms smelled like alchemy. She 'n' Forth did their weird trackin' thing that I don't understand and told us that there were 4 guards, 2 servants, and the lady. I believed 'em. I had no idea how they could do that, 'cause the chamber pots were emptied and everythin' was all cleaned up, but maybe they'd talked to the innkeep while I was distracted or somethin'. 'Cause nothin' in this room said, "Yeah, there were six of us sleepin' in this room and the next one over," and I'm pretty perceptive when I try.

The inn was still really busy when we got up in the morning, so we said our goodbyes, I had a runnin' breakfast while chasin' the kids around, and we set off. I even remembered Yellow! So we rode on, and it wasn't 'til about lunchtime that we started seein' people comin' the other way. I figured that only made sense: If the inns are a day apart, then each of you should have to travel a half day to meet each other, right? Llew 'n' Forth told me it didn't work like that, and I believed 'em cause I'm not a professional cart-driver or anythin', but as they came along we greeted 'em, and asked 'em where they were comin' from, and they were all comin' from the south branch o' the road; not a single person was comin' back from Eledir! So that would've been worrisome enough, even if I'd known where the "south branch" was. As it was, there was some mysterious place I'd never heard of that all the people were evacuatin' and we're already busy and can't Isger have just one big mess at a time, please and thank you? But Llew 'n' Forth said it wasn't like that, so I believed 'em, and we kept travelin'. The story was the same 'til we passed the dread south branch and all its perils, and after that we didn't see anyone at all on the road. As evening was startin' to set in, we saw another inn, with more carts in front, lights on, music playin', and everythin' else. Kind o' funny, since we hadn't seen any traffic come from this direction, but hey, maybe they had good beer!

We were all pretty on edge 'cause o' the lack o' people on the road, so I stuck close with Llew as she strode up to the bar (and she strides like nobody's business. Forth kind o' galumphs, Alembic lurches, but Llew strides. Me? I nimble. 'Cause I prefer it as a verb!). So she stared at him all intent-like and I knew she was inquisitin' him 'cause you can tell that kind o' thing, and she asked about the two big wagons, and he said sure enough they'd been through, and one o' the guards had hit one o' his girls, and they were terrible people, and were we friends o' theirs or what? Forth said somethin' about how we were huntin' the Jeggares and everythin' went all topsy-turvy, and not in a good way. Llew, bein' Llew, knew that somethin' was up before the rest of us and put her good ol' Magic Circle of Protection from Evil on us. And I'm givin' it its proper name, 'cause it was a life-saver! 'Cause the whole inn was a haunt, and it was a bad one! Everyone around us started dyin', cut up or meltin' or bein' stomped on or stabbed; even the little kids were cut down from behind! Lots of 'em hadn't died immediately, but had been left, lying there, bleedin' out o' all o' their orifices for minutes. Apparently the people at this inn had been a little bit too nosy about who'd been in the wagons, and the name Jeggare got mentioned, and Lady Jeggare had her guards cut 'em all down, 'cept the ones she chose to kill herself. It wasn't a fight. It wasn't murder. It was slaughter of the innocent. A little core o' rage burned within me, and I knew Calistria needed me on this one! I wouldn't rest 'til I'd tracked down and made sure that b*tch was dead! And if I had to do it, and it came down to it, I'd bring Llew back from the dead, too, just so Llew could make sure she'd never come back and get sent to the Hell she so richly deserved. The dead barkeep uttered some kind o' oath and told us we had to track down and kill the Jeggares, and Llew said he'd tried to lay a geas on us and her Magic Circle had protected us from the effects of it, but it didn't matter. I was going to obey anyway.
I wasn't the only one pissed as a gnome lookin' at a goblin with no fire available; Llew's eyes narrowed until they were nearly slits, and she looked daggers at Forth, and hissed, "NOW can we kill her?"
Forth didn't even hesitate. "She'd earned it."
I was suddenly in a better mood. Until Forth and Llew went and mentioned that that was probably why we hadn't seen any other travelers along the way: Every southbound traveler had reached the inn, stopped in for a drink or a meal, and been hit with the geas. 'Cause none of 'em came in inquisitin' like Llew was, and probably not many of 'em even had a circle to cast, even if they'd known what was goin' on. More innocent blood. I wasn't sure Hell was deep enough for Freya Jeggare.

So now that we could see the "real" inn, we got to work pilin' up the bodies out back and settin' 'em ablaze. "Campfire bead" my cute and pert heinie! It ought to be called a "pyre bead" for all the use we're givin' it. Forth used the horses to pull all the carts 'round back, 'cause apparently he moonlights as a cart driver and seems to enjoy the work, and also 'cause we wanted people to know that there was something fishy 'bout the inn. Alembic started talkin' 'bout keepin' all the stuff in the wagons 'cause the people weren't usin' them any more, and that was pretty low, even for him. Forth got what names or crests he could off the wagons, and said we'd do the usual: Try to get in touch with the families, let 'em know their loved ones were dead, let 'em claim the gear they wanted, and THEN keep all the unclaimed stuff. I'm not Lawful, but I know what's decent. And Forth's plan was decent.
Llew did her magic words o' no more undeaddy, 'cept we already had a big giant haunt we couldn't get rid of, 'cept Llew 'n' Forth said we had to feed it Freya Jeggare. I had no objections to that plan at all.

We camped away from the inn so as not to be affected by the haunt. So we were in the woods. At night. And nothing attacked us! Somethin' was really funny 'bout these woods! I didn't like 'em. 'Course, I didn't particularly like any woods, but these woods were 'specially spooky.

In the mornin' we rode after Freya Jeggare with murder on our minds. It wasn't 'til about 10 in the mornin' that we found the first victims o' the inn's geas. They were some ordinary caravan guards with horses, and someone had cut down both man 'n' horse. I didn't have any trouble recognizin' the cuts; someone with trainin' as a rogue had killed these men. Good. I'd do 'em a professional courtesy and show 'em how nasty it is when you don't get your precise strikes and a paladin and an inquisitor are rippin' you apart. I didn't expect anyone in the caravan would get any mercy, even from Forth. I was even kind o' hoping Alembic'd do another o' those acidy pits on the lot of 'em. As we rode on, we found four more groups o' innocents, hit by the inn's geas to go kill Freya Jeggare, but not powerful enough to take her on. Well, WE were, and WE were on our way like Calistria's vengeance on a spurning lover! 'Cept angrier 'n that.

Llew spotted 'em first, around 1/4 mile up the road from us, and movin' slowly. Alembic knew this was serious, so in addition to the stuff he normally put on Llew 'n' Forth, he made me stronger, AND made me fly (not quite as good as horses that walk on water, but really close!), AND made me invisible! O' course, he made everyone else invisible as well, so Llew did somethin' so she could see us, and she said she'd call out when we needed to do things. Seemed kind o' risky, but kind o' fun. I just hoped I didn't run into anyone or get run into on the way in. So we flew on in, and it wasn't as hard as I thought 'cause you could hear the wind whistlin' in Forth's beard from a mile away and I knew I was s'posed to stay behind him, but when he (and I assume the others) all pulled up at the back o' the wagons, I started wonderin' what would happen if they tried to run? So at that moment Thorn inspired me, so, figurin' the rest o' the group would holler if they needed a hand, I flew up on ahead o' the caravan and waited for Forth to make some kind o' commotion out back. It didn't take long to hear, "Somebody's here! And they're invisible!" so I took that as my cue and dropped the feather token I'd bought for Thorn in the middle of the road in front of the wagons. Up sprung the massive tree! I giggled pretty hard, but I suspect the sound of the giant tree growing instantly in their path kind o' muffled it. In any case, my work was done; the wagons weren't goin' in that direction, and almost certainly couldn't turn around in the middle o' the road, so we had 'em trapped. Hi, Freya! And I was still invisible! What a great spell!

So, like I said, I was in front o' the caravan, and everyone else was in back, so next thing I saw was Alembic appearin', wavin' his arms and callin' out his magic like he does, and this great big watery ball appeared and started chasin' the caravan guards all 'round, tryin' to suck 'em up and give 'em a good washin'. I loved it! The guards, not so much, so they all ran under the tree Alembic was tryin' to hide in, so he Fireballed 'em as well. What were Forth and Llew doin'? I have no idea, 'cause they were invisible and weren't doin' anything so's I could notice. 'Til Llew called out that the drivers were innocent folk who were trapped on booby trapped seats, and could I please save 'em, pretty please? So I'd been circlin' round the wagons, 'cause it seemed like a reasonable thing to do while watchin' Alembic and his watery ball and his fireballs and the unhappy guards, so the back driver was closer, so I landed next to her and told her to stay put and I'd have her out in a jiffy. Trouble was, I could talk to her, and I could tell her how simple-minded the dolt who built the pressure plate on this trap was, and how I could do it half-drunk and with one hand tied behind my back, but disarmin' a trap properly takes time, and she was awfully squirrely, and since she couldn't see me I couldn't use my big ol' Calistrian eyes on her, so I just had to trust she wouldn't do anythin' stupid 'til I'd gotten her loose. And even then. If you're tasked with savin' someone, even after you save 'em if they end up runnin' off and gettin' themselves killed through no fault o' yours you still tend to get the blame. So I told her to stay calm, and I worked on the trap, head down, focusing on NOT blowing us up or droppin' us in acid or whatever it was this thing'd do if I messed up. Seemed easy enough.

I could still kind o' hear what was goin' on around me. Llew was up in the air, stabby-stabbying all the guards from above with her adamantine spear, and from the squeals and screams and sounds o' people droppin' to the ground I think she was havin' quite the fine time of it. Apparently there was no sign o' Freya yet, so Alembic wanted to force her out, so he called out that he was goin' to drop the other wagon in one of his acid pits. Didn't seem like a half-bad idea to me, since the wagon was too big to spin around so the driver'd stay on top, and as long as he or she didn't fall off her seat the trap wouldn't go off. 'Course, not fallin' off your seat after a long fall into a pit full o' acid might be hard for some people. But I had faith. Apparently Forth didn't, 'cause he yelled somethin' all heroic like, "No! I'll save you!" and then there was the big ol' unmistakable poof o' some kind o' gas cloud goin' off on the other wagon. Forth cast some kind o' spell, then went silent, so I figured he was in there doin' somethin' stupid, and I had work to do. At least now I knew what kind o' trap I was dealin' with. Thanks, Forth! I guess...
I finally got the girl loose without her runnin' prematurely (you'd have thought she was elopin' she was so eager to get off that seat) and she ran off into the woods, so I kind o' smacked my forehead and just figured I might have to go after her, 'cept I hadn't heard any yellin' for a while so I needed to know what was goin' on.

For the most part, everythin' was in control. Llew had taken out all the guards with her adamantine spear. Guess it was a good buy after all. Maybe I should get a dagger! Alembic was surprisingly healthy, considerin' all the spears I'd seen the guards chuckin' at him, but he'd had a bunch o' Mirror Images up and they'd done their job right well. Forth was still hangin' out in the gas cloud, and bein' awfully quiet, and I was beginnin' to worry 'bout him, seein' as he had a habit o' dyin' at the most inconvenient times. Freya still hadn't come out o' either o' the wagons, so, with Forth obviously not lookin' my way, I just lit the one next to me on fire. And out she popped, like a little badger! 'Cept she was invisible, and most badgers can't turn themselves invisible, and the ones that can, well, you don't really see 'em, so you don't know about 'em. 'Cept maybe you'd hear their chittery little spellcasting, and...
...anyhoo, Llew could see her and yelled out where she was, so I kind o' ran in that general direction and she hit me with some kind o' bomb that hurt like the blazes. But once she did that, I could see her. And my hatred burned hotter'n any bomb she could throw. I was gonna KILL her here and now!
'Cept she ran into the cloud. Alembic, continuin' his streak of bein' right useful and helpful, dispelled the gas so we could see her again. Unfortunately, we could also see Forth, who was lyin' motionless on the other wagon. Again, Forth!?!?!? I swear, that man needs a "Frequent Dier" card from the temple! So Llew shot her up a bit, I ran over to distract her, she bombed me a bit more (which really hurt, but I wasn't goin' to give her the satisfaction o' lettin' her know that), Alembic hit her with some Magic Missiles, and then Llew flew over and stabbed her with the spear and dropped her. I was all ready to slit her throat, but Llew reminded me we needed to hand her over to the haunt. That was a better idea anyway, so Llew made sure she wasn't goin' to die, and we stripped her down and hog tied her and made sure her ride to meet her doom would be as humiliatin' and uncomfortable as humanly possible, without her dyin' from her wounds, of course.

I started goin' through her stuff and found all kinds o' fun alchemical knickknacks, and I love my party 'cause they let me pocket it all and don't say a word 'bout it. Once I was done with that, I started usin' Ornery to heal myself and he was feelin' pretty helpful and Llew went off to get the girls. Trouble is, Llew was pretty pissed 'bout Forth bein' dead again, 'cause apparently this time it was his fault for tryin' to save one o' the girls in a stupid way (he apparently set off the trap then cast a spell to take all the damage for her, but the damage was, "You die," so he died. Not bright, Forth -- costs just as much to raise her as it does to raise you, and you're better in a fight). So angry, indimidatin' Llew couldn't charm one o' the girls into followin' her, and so she left her out in the woods to die. 'Course, Alembic and Llew said the woods were perfectly safe and the girl could just follow the road home, but I've tried to follow roads before and it isn't easy! You spot a neat-lookin' beetle,