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This was played on November 21, 2020 via Zoom
In our explorations, we found the wizard’s notes detailing the rise of the runelord Karzoug. It seems as those the wizard and a group of [word] allies believed that Xanderghul was to areise when the runeforge pool awoke, but unsurprisingly to all, the allies turned on one another and set about to their own ends. The wizard began to explore the world above this place through astral projection, and he was determined to stop Karzoug’s return before his own master’s. He mentioned that Xin-shalast was hidden high in the mountains, and the spires marking the location of Karzoug’s body were hidden or inaccessible — warded against astral travelers and physical travelers alike. He suggested that the runewall (the barrier preventing folks from accessing the body) would have to be destroyed before approach, otherwise it would certainly result in death.
Addtionally the wizard seems to have found a weakness in the occlusion that can be exploited by using the enchantment and illusion schools of magic: “My agents must use components infused with our lord’s virtues, extract the latent magic with these components, and then annoint their chosen weapons with this raw power. The runeforge pool seems to have neough reserves to enhance no more than half a sozen or so runeforged weapons.” We know that fragments of mirrors from Zanderghul will give us extracts for illusion. Delhavine’s “equiment” should serve for enchantment, but they have to be cleansed first.
He also said the master circle in the Halls of Wrath would help him escape.
We proceeded down a hallway and discovered a grisly pile of elderly bodies. They were stacked like cordword; it’s clear there has been much care put into this grusome work. Tordag determined that these bodies aged in the same way as the poor sap we found ensnared in the succubi’s lair. It seems the magic in this place has preserved the condition most everything, including us. We really don’t feel the need to eat or to drink. The dust in the hallways does not look like a millennium of dust. We exist in an ethereal stasis.
While Orgluk and Mudder explored ahead, Tordag and I remained behind to examine the chambers for magic. Between Tordag’s ability to detect magic and my ability to use Mage Hand to sift through rubble, we found an unburnt Tome of Leadership and Influence. It offers a plus + 2 inherent bonus to charisma. It takes 48 hours to read and benefit from its magic, and my colleagues and I agreed it would be most beneficial for me to study from this extraordinary find.
While Tordag and I were examining the ruins of the old library, Orgluk and Mudder heard voices in a room ahead, and lo and behold they discovered a room full of Delvahine clones. We were able to set up a bottleneck and lure the ladies out to dispatch of them. Afterward, we determined it would be a wise use of time to collect fragments of Xanderghul’s mirrors and Delvahine’s “equipment” and begin the process of extraction tonight. The Mage Hand spell has been convenient in preventing any of us to have to touch . . . untoward . . . items this day.
Tordag began the process of extraction to endow his own weapon with the components from illusion and enchantment. It was rather pretty. The components became a golden column, and as Tordag extended his war hammer, the gold surrounded it and etched the weapon in Thassalonian in intricate golden runes: this is the runeforge.
Immediately upon completion of the runeforged weapon, behind us, the statue of Karzoug came to life, shouting warnings and threats. He was giant and formiddable, and completely impervious to my magic. The best I could do for my heartier companions was to drop a haste spell and get out of the way. Poor Tordag suffereed quite a bit at the golem’s hands, but his deity leaves him well-equipped to handle the effects.
Tonight, we rest again in the mansion, and I shall begin the work of reimagining our safehaven. Given Tordag’s unforunate encounter with the angry stone golem, I have selected his rooms for redesign first, featuring stone and heavy wood décor. He shall have bookshelves filled with legal tomes, historical treatises, The Order of Numbers, and The Manual of City-Building: things that will appeal to his studious and serious nature. There shall be stout, wooden furniture of the richest Walnut, and of course, a small shrine to Abadar. I will continue to encourage good grooming habits in my dwarven companions; Tordag is more hopeful than Mudder. I shall provide Tordag with a stone basin and a kit with various beard oils lightly scented with Patchouli.
25 Kuthona, 4707
We awoke this morning and set off again to explore Alaznist’s realm of wrath. We came upon another golem, and I discovered this time that my arcane blast can be effective against the horrid creatures. The iron golem was quite the formiddable opponent, and the party suffered greatly at his hands. Tordag had the foresight to cast Fly upon Mudder so that he could persue the loathesome creature into the air and deal it a death blow.
Unfortunately, during our visit to the Halls of Wrath, Orgluk took it upon himself to destroy one of the teleportation circles, preventing us from being able to teleport back in without having to use up one of Tordag’s spells. We can still teleport out, though, if needed. I keep telling Orgluk not to interfere with magic, yet he continues to interfere with magic. I understand why the succubi are so quick to use Dominate Person.
We continued our exploration of the sinful pinwheel and moved to the realm of Zutha, the domain associated with necromancy. We suspect that this area is associated with gluttony, and none of us have ties to this particular sin. We were immediately beset by mummies (all the while Mudder muttering “I hate mummies), but no one fell ill this time from their rot. In this area, we encountered yet another golem — a clay one this time — guarding a room of empty sarcophagi and fine wine.
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This was played on December 19, 2020 via Zoom
While I do understand the lure and power of necromancy, it is such a macabre and distasteful form of magic. I use it as a matter of necessity, but I could not imagine using it as my primary form of magic. It makes me wonder about those folks who do.
In our travels, we found that the necromantic slaughter chamber connected to an alchemist’s lab, which led us to more mummies. Poor Mudder. That discovery led us, finally, to the necromancer’s chamber hidden deep within the walls. He stood, pouring over his notes and what appeared to be more body parts. A giant creature — what Tordag later told us was a Devourer — hovered in their air in front of him, looking at us hungrily. Initially, the necromancer (a lich) seemed uninterested in our presence, but he was quite concerned about who held the magical power in our version of this world. As I cast Comprehend Languages since I desired to speak with him, he instantly went on alert. After I responded to his query to inform him that all of us who wish to know and understand magic have access to it, he scoffed and suggested we should put our magical knowledge to the test.
So be it.
Tordag, in one of his clever tricks, cast Silence on himself and hopped next to the lich so that the fellow was unable to cast spells. The devourer reached out to attack Tordag and immediately drained him of some of his energy. Tordag said he felt weaker, somehow. Mudder and Orgluk attacked the devourer, and no one was shaken by the creature, fortunately. Whilst my companions were working their brawn, I decided to cast a Halt Undead spell, anticipating that it would render the devourer immobile. That did not work out according to plan, but it was not so bad. The lich froze up and immediately used a Dimension Door out of the room, leaving us with just the erstwhile devourer to attack. The fellows continued their onslaught against him, and I determined that I could best be helpful by disintegrating the creature. Given my lack of success with this spell before, I did not imagine that it would be wholly successful, but my goodness, was I pleasantly surprised when the fiend completely poofed out of our sight. I am embarrassed to admit that I emitted a primal roar of satisfaction. Fortunately, no one but Digger was able to hear me, and my secret is safe with him, dear beast.
We began a rapid exploration of the room, knowing that the immobile lich would not remain paralyzed for long, and posthaste, Tordag and Orgluk found and opened a trap in the floor that led us to the lich’s hidey-hole. I — in a move I admit was rather vindictive and petty — decided to float over the hole and toss in a flippant, “How’s that for your test, lich?” right before my colleagues eviscerated the bastard.
I may have grown and learned from this adventure with these dwarves, a badger, a wandering elf, and a surprisingly intelligent orc, but I still have a ways to go before I have the humility and patience of a monk. “Let’s see if your magic can handle a test . . .” Just like a mediocre man in an unmerited position of power to challenge a strong woman. Lich, please.
It is fortunate that I got all of my bravada out of the way during the encounter with the lich and his devourer as I ran like a gazelle from the room with the zombie in it. Something about the sound of meat rending from bones just undid me. My plucky companions had no difficulty with the gruesome brute, though, so I was spared having to watch the horrific spectacle of his midday snack.
We arrived in the final area in which we needed to explore and were greeting with an unwelcome surprise; it seems there is some sort of portal here to the negative energy plane. Tordag, short on channels, cast a healing spell on it to do some damage, but some intense cold damaged him back. I shot multiple disintegrate spells at it until one of the crystals sustaining the portal shattered, and in swept some sort of giant black shadow bat with beady red eyes. We attempted to engage the creature, but after it cast us into magical darkness, Tordag swept us away with his dimension door, and we left our former giant allies to their likely demise at the hand of the scary bat. Tonight, we rest in the mansion.
Apparently, I forgot to update here. Catching up!
Played January 16, 2021
After a much-needed rest (I have no sense of time here. We are underground. We have been underground for ages. We have slept in my new mansion, which has been a boon, but I admit that I miss the sun), we set out again to confront the scary bat.
After some study, Tordag explained to us that the creature was likely a nightwing, and based on his description, it is a nefarious creature indeed. We spent much of the morning in prayer and meditation, setting up and considering how best we might defeat the loathsome creature. I cast some familiar buffing spells on my companions, and Tordag introduced us to something he had been studying: Death Ward.
The buffing spells were somewhat helpful for our melee fighters, but Tordag and I were both appreciative of the rest we had that allowed us to gain back some of our more powerful spells. I was able to deliver a successful disintegration spell, and Tordag followed up with a powerful Flame Strike. In short order, both Orgluk and Mudder unleashed their might against it, and Mudder dealt the lethal blow.
Upon Tordag’s insistence, we traveled back to the lich’s library. He mentioned something about the “phylactery,” and he proceeded to comb through the macabre books until, three hours later, he found mention that the lich had created his eternal unlife through one of the sarcophagi in the hidden pit. Tordag explained that we would need to destroy the sarcophagus in order to truly destroy the lich; otherwise, the arrogant prick would return.
Well. We can’t have that, now can we?
Not knowing which sarcophagus to attack, we determined that we should destroy all three. Orgluk and Tordag braved the trap down in the pit, and I shot a coupe of disintegration spells from up above. After some time, we disposed of all three of the sarcophagi. Orgluk was the one who found the lich’s sarcophagus. He beat it with his adamantine weapon, breaking it to pieces. The lich was inside reforming. When his phylactery broke, his nearly reformed body disintegrated into dust, and we set out to explore the rest of sinful pinwheel.
26 Kuthona, 4707 (??) Continued
We entered into the realm of sloth, and it was fortunate that I had elected to bestow the Life Bubble on everyone earlier in the day as this place had a potent and powerful odor that may have knocked everyone flat. The place could best be described as a cesspool: fetid water, slime-covered walls, and the general impression of festering.
After exploring the labyrinthine tunnels, we stumbled upon two tentacled creatures — qlippoths — that vexed the party a bit. They successfully confused poor little Digger, but not before I was able to try out my new spell: Enemy Hammer. While it wasn’t as effective or potent as a Disintegrate, it was certainly fun to fling about the large malformed octopus-looking creature and send it flying into its companion. In my head, I heard a lovely waltz playing as he hurtled through the air.
We came upon a rotund gentleman — my dwarven colleagues referred to him as Fat Bastard — lounging in a chamber not far beyond. Tordag attempted to negotiate with him for aid in defeating Karzhoug. Fat Bastard requested that we bring him Athroxis’s head and her ranseur — we’re assuming she can be found by using the teleportation circle in Alaznist’s realm. I can get us back here by using a Teleport spell if needed. Orgluk at least looks sheepish when we mention using the circle.
We agreed to continue our exploration here in the sloth dominion. In our survey of the area, Tordag came upon a sludge-filled pit. Orgluk, upon learning Tordag did not detect magic in it, dived in, using the benefit of the Life Bubble to swim deep and investigate. Our party benefitted greatly from that exploration. In addition to a handy rod that I’ll be able to use to extend spells, Tordag read notes in a spellbook that told us something about Karzhoug’s area of the pinwheel. Below is a summation of those notes:
There is a mist within the halls of transmutation. The mist protects against anyone who isn’t greedy; it transforms them into a goldfish and teleports them into a pool of water nearby. While Dispel Magic is a suppressant, the mist is also tied to the stone golems. When they are destroyed, the magic is permanently suppressed.
A bit farther into the chamber, we came upon an area that included 3 levers. One was labeled “access,” another “portal,” and another had a warning for a cleaning cycle. While Orgluk studied the levers, I prepared to cast an invisibility spell on myself and was suddenly beset by some sort of half-man, half-slimeball. It attempted to ensnare me in some sort of slime trap. I dodged it, but not without taking some damage.
One of the creatures latched onto Mudder and began the slow and horrifying process of crawling into his face and suffocating him. Eventually, Tordag was able to Dimension Door him away from the creature. Orgluk slew one the monstrosities by himself, and Tordag, Mudder, and I worked on the others.
After the encounter, Orgluk used his mighty strength to flip the levers. One opened the gates, one stopped the flow of sludge, and the third — cleaning cycle — summoned a water elemental to begin the sisyphean task of cleaning that horrendous place.
We left him to the work, and headed back to the halls of wrath to rest and prepare to meet Athroxis.
The Tome of Leadership continues to fascinate. This is my third night of studying from the tome. In this section, one of the ideas that stuck out to me is that one might presume positive intent. I’m not sure that’s applicable to many of the creatures we’ve encountered, but it has certainly been true for my companions. Even Orgluk, who meddles in magic simply because he is trying to do his best for the rest of us.
Played February 20, 2021
After last night’s (?) rest, we entered the teleportation chamber in the halls of wrath. Upon using the circle, we found ourselves in an enormous hall in which we were beset by Sin Spawn and several humans. They were quite adept at using Fireballs, and I finally threw a hissy fit and used my Enemy Hammer on the last one that hit me with a Fireball. Annoying, those.
We cleared the great hall and used another teleportation circle that took us to an even larger chamber which was partially obscured by some sort of illusory smoke. On the other side stood Athroxis, and she was none too pleased to see us. What ensued was a grand battle in which we fought a summoned demon, another — called a Glabrezu — and Athroxis herself. Tordag summoned a gargantuan, dire crocodile which swallowed the glabrezu whole, which was enough in the moment to stop me in my tracks. Then the poor beast was immediately rent in two by the angry glabrezu which, understandably, wanted out. He struck down our comrade Orgluk, and Tordag restored him by casting a heal spell on him. I cast an effective Resonating Word spell against Athroxis, and while she was stunned, Mudder cut off her head. Mudder also dealt the final deadly blow to the glabrezu, and after its death, a strange brand emerged on Mudder’s forehead. He described a feeling while fighting the demon of seeming to understand some things better about the art of fighting. He did not talk much with us about it, but I find myself wondering if he has earned some sort of honor or curse from Alaznist herself. I do not believe his new wash basin will rid him of that mark.
We emerged victorious with the ranseur and Athroxis’s head. After exploring the rest of this domain, we shall revisit the Fat Bastard.
Played April 24, 2021
We continued our exploration of the Halls of Wrath. After some study, we noticed that the giant sihedron in the middle of the room was actually a teleportation circle that would also serve as a a way to bind extraplanar creatures. We determined that it would be best to learn more about the smaller teleportation circles before coming back to the big one.
We found and fought several Warriors of Wrath, and they flung some sort of undulating alchemical mess at my companions. Most of the mess missed, but Orgluk was hit by one of the blobs and he immediately grew fingers out of his shoulder. When I attempted to target the new fingers, wondering if they were some sort of parasitic attachment, the Magic Missile I fired did damage to Orgluk himself, so they seemed to be a real part of his person.
After finishing off the warriors, we teleported back to the main sinful pinwheel so that we could rest for the night before speaking with the Fat Bastard. We plan to revisit the main teleportation circle in the Halls of Wrath at another time.
Upon arriving in my mansion, Tordag determined that we would have to remove all of the fingers from Orgluk before any restoration spells would have an effect on him, so Mudder held down our friend while Tordag painstakingly removed each of the attached digits with his dagger. It appeared painful. There was *a lot* of blood. It always seems like there is more blood when it comes from a friend than from a foe. Orgluk kept telling us that he “can take it.” I have no doubt of that — he has a high pain tolerance — but it is a different thing entirely to suffer at the hands of an ally and to try to do so without moving. He was pale after the encounter, and Tordag immediately cast a restoration spell on him. I elected to leave Orgluk a fine Chelaxian whisky to drink when he retired in his room. Hopefully it will bring some comfort.
After seeing the fellows off to their rooms, I went into the library to continue my studies from the Tome of Leadership. In my fourth night of reading, I learned about the concept of leading with one’s own strengths. The book talked much about one’s strongest personal assets. Strangely, the authors did not mention crafting a mansion out of nothing as a strength. I feel that they have missed an opportunity here.
28 Kuthona, 4707 (??)
Upon exiting the mansion in the morning (?), we were immediately beset by a familiar creature: a yellowish gelatinous blob that exuded some sort of rank putrefaction. We knew we had seen the thing before, but could not quite place where. It turned out to be a fiendish mustard jelly. It was not particularly vulnerable to our weapons, but I was finally able to do some decent damage to it with a successful disintegrate spell. They are not vulnerable to magic missiles.
As we reentered Fat Bastard’s dominion, we noticed that the water levels were way down. The water elemental had been hard at work in our absence. We made our way back to the Bastard’s chambers and remembered where we had seen the noxious mustard blobs; they were in residence with the Fat Bastard himself. It seems that the Bastard was unwilling to contribute much to our effort to defeat Karzhoug. All he could offer was this information about the runeforged weapons:
Sloth: admixtures of the four humors
Greed: waters from the pool of elemental arcana
Envy: vial of ethillion
Lust: one of Delvahine’s personal toys
Pride: a shard from any of the mirrors Vraxeris has looked in
Wrath: ashes from anything in the Halls of Wrath
Gluttony: some of the delicious inib wine
On our way out, Tordag casually mentioned that we’d be keeping Athroxis’s ranseur; FB could keep her head. I whisked us away using a Dimension Door just as we seem to have riled up the corpulent king. It is possible that we will arrive back in the sinful pinwheel later to an ambush, but that is for us to worry about at another date.
After our hasty departure from the slovenly realm of sloth, we entered into Karzhoug’s domain. The runes in Karzhoug’s halls (written in Thassalonian) give the history of Karzhoug and talk about how he’s the master of transmutation. I had to cast Comprehend Languages to read them. Unfortunately, they did not warn us that the elaborate iron door at the end of the wall was just a trap leading to nowhere, and both Tordag and Orgluk were smashed against the wall for their lock-picking efforts. Mudder, with his ranger’s eye, was able to see the tiniest of cracks in the far wall and sussed out the location of a secret door, but not until after much damage had been dealt.
As we had been warned, the hall ahead was filled with mist. I felt it’s transmutative effects pulling and suctioning at my skin as we entered into its depths, but my rune forged weapon pulsed and siphoned the spell away from me. Our dear Digger was not so lucky. We heard a squeak and a gurgle, and he was gone. We know that he lay somewhere ahead in a pool. It will be up to Mudder with his ability to communicate with animals to find him again. It is our hope, then, that this transmutation can be undone with my dispel magic or breaking of an enchantment.
At the end of the long tunnel, we were greeted by an unruly and juvenile lot of mephits. I suppose the words I use are redundant: the word mephit should conjure the image of adolescence for most civilized cultures. Upon learning we were there to defeat Karzhoug, the mephits became talkative and warned us of a silver man who was a magic user. They also mentioned the many pools of water, all connected together, within Karzhoug’s realm. We surmise that it’s these pools in which we will find our Digger. On our way out of the room, the mephits warned us, almost as a throw-away, not to forget about the golems.
Indeed, we shall not. From our fights against golems before, I remember that the creatures are not susceptible to magic if a spell has spell resistance. Glitterdust does not. Mage Hand does not. Curse of Magic Negation does not. That makes me either ineffective or forces me to be creative: the Tome of Leadership would suggest that I use my strengths and to build upon those of the team.
Creativity it is.
Played May 15, 2021
Because my magic is mostly ineffective against the stone golems, upon meeting our first foe, I decided to enlarge Mudder so that he could do the maximum amount of damage. Orgluk and Mudder charged in against the first golem we encountered, and after I cast haste on the party, I mostly held back and kept watch while my companions laid waste to the golems. I don’t know if it was the fall of the first one or if it was the sounds of battle, but once the battle finished with the first, the other golems found us quickly enough, and the gentlemen of the party dispatched with them in short order.
After the encounter with the golems, we continued our exploration of the Halls of Wrath. In one room — a combination lab and library — we found the shiny magic user the mephits mentioned. He appeared startled by our arrival, and he used Dimension Door to flee the scene before we were able to converse with him much. Orgluk tried to seek his help in “finding our friend who had been turned into a fish,” but the silver fellow was not interested in offering assistance and had the audacity to suggest that if dear Digger were a fish, then perhaps we didn’t belong there. The nerve.
After the tin man disappeared, we found a miserable daemon bound in a chamber beyond the lab. Seems the poor beast had been bound there by a wizard who had died centuries ago, and the fellow had just been dragging his knuckles and generally experiencing ennui. He struck up a deal with Orgluk who, for some strange reason, seemed perfectly willing to negotiate with him, and Tordag and I were left to decide how to get the creature back home without unwittingly setting him loose upon this plane. We finally decided we’d go sleep on the idea so that Tordag could study Banishment, and that would give Mudder an opportunity to study Speak with Animals. We finished our explorations without encountering the silver man again, but we did have fun toying with the fabrication magic that was interwoven in the chambers. Orgluk was especially smitten with the magic that seemed to come easily to him. He crafted all manner of intricate little doodads including a lovely little blue rose for me, a wooden figuring of Digger, and a number of tiny little morning stars. He seemed bereft when we left the area where the fabrication magic was most potent. I suppose having such easy access to magic has caused me to take its wonders for granted. I shall keep the rose with me to remind me of this great power (and responsibility) I carry with me.
Tonight in the mansion, I studied yet again from the Tome of Leadership. This was my fifth night, and it appears I am nearly done. Tonight’s reading discussed the critical importance of reflection in leadership. If one does not engage in the process of self-reflection, one cannot hope to grow one’s leadership skills nor the capacity of others. I found this evening’s reading both validating and unsettling. It was for the purpose of reflection (and the learning of humility) that my family sent me on my way to begin with, now here I am, a changed person, reading on these lessons that have come my way both through experience and through tome. I wonder how the me of a year ago would have read this chapter. Would I have balked or scoffed at its teachings? Would the me of a year ago be appalled by the me of today, the woman who fights alongside and learns from dwarves, who adores a ferocious little badger, and who wears a rose from a half-orc? Whatever she would have thought — that girl from a year ago — I am glad she has learned from her experiences.
29 Kuthona, 4707 (??)
We awoke refreshed and ready to free the daemon, only to realize there were going to be more steps to the plan that we had thought. Tordag had to be strategic in his use of a silence spell and an anti-magic spell in order to get the creature free from his bonds without alerting the silver man (the daemon said his name was Ordikon) to our presence, and we all had to hope that the daemon wouldn’t go back on his agreement with us. Tordag let us know that daemons, unlike devils, would have no compunction about lying outright to get what they want. Ultimately, we were able to send the beast back to his home plane by entering the sliver man’s chambers and engaging the wizard in battle while Tordag focused his energies on sending the daemon home. While Orgluk and Mudder proceeded with a formidable onslaught, I focused my magical energies on counterspelling my opponent, and I was much pleased with today’s results. The study of spellcraft in these last months paid off with an immediate recognition of Ordikon’s attempt to disintegrate one of my companions, and I was able to immediately counteract the affects. while Orgluk pummeled the wizard, Mudder sought to hem him in with his own workbench and ultimately ended up delivering his death sentence. We were fortunate that the daemon — Tordag said it was a Nalfeshnee — did not attempt to betray us. I fear that battle would have been much, much more costly than it was.
We spent much time searching the wizard’s rooms and discovered a recharge pool where we were able to increase the charges on some of our magical items. Although the magic did backfire twice — once for Tordag and once for me — for the most part, the recharge pool worked quite well. if one were a gambler, one might even be able to replenish multiple items to their full potential.
After our time spent at the recharging pool, Mudder and I set out to find our dear Digger while Tordag and Orgluk returned to the lab/library (I heard and used to make fun of folks at home for calling it a labrary. Perhaps labrary really is the term one would use here. A portmanteau, if you will.). Mudder intended to study, and Orgluk intended to free the animals we had observed that were trapped there. I imagine most of those poor creatures were transmuted from one form to another. Mudder attempted to talk to one later, but it kept mentioning the slime and wishing it was back amongst the slime. I suggested we were better off letting it live its new life as a bunny. But I digress. Mudder spent a good portion of an hour attempting to converse with various fish, most of whom seem to have short-term memory issues. We finally encountered some fish who suggested that one guy wasn’t acting like a fish was supposed to, and after some additional questioning, we located the badger-fish in the pool closest to the lab. When Mudder confirmed that the fellow was indeed our Digger, I dispelled the polymorph spell that had changed him, and out from the pool emerged a very clean, very grateful little badger. I won’t go into details here about the reunion between ranger and his companion, but it was touching. I, too, was glad to see my little buddy back.
In Tordag’s research in the labrary, he uncovered some additional information about the runelord Karzoug. They put Karzoug into stasis between the material plane (Golarian) and a plane called Leng. That’s how he’s been able to survive the fall of his civilization and why he appears to be awakening now. We were reminded of the voice that spoke to us through one of the statues that awakened when Tordag made the first runeforge weapon.“Seek me atop Mahar Massif.” It is there, then, that we must travel.
28 Abadius, 4708 (reality)
First, however, we had to address our party’s greed. We had accumulated quite a bit of wealth in our time in the sinful pinwheel, and while I was initially averse to the idea of pilfering from bodies of the slain, I recognize the utility in it now. So it is that we have decided to travel back to Magnimar to rest, recover, and to replenish our supplies before seeking out our final foe: Karzoug. Perhaps it’s not greed when it’s being used for the benefit of all of Golarion.
Upon arriving in Magnimar (by way of teleportation), I was surprised to discover that a month had passed in the six days we had spent underground. We have missed the arrival of the new year. We shall set up camp in Foxglove’s old stomping grounds (where I shall, of course, craft our mansion so that we can remain mostly undetected), and between Tordag’s and my teleportation spells, we plan to travel back and forth to the dragon’s horde to collect that which we have rightfully won. While in Magnimar, we shall seek to upgrade our supplies, learn what we can learn, and in a month, we shall set out again, braced against the cold, and ready to find Mahar Massif.
Tonight, just after finishing this entry, I plan to finish the last entry in the Tome of Leadership. Thus far, its teachings have served me well. Let us hope that that is true in the journey that awaits us as well.
One final note. The most charming thing happened today, and I don’t wish to forget it. When I was attempting to recharge one of the staves I carry and the magic backfired, Orgluk immediately reached out and took the staff from me when he noticed that I was attempting to try again. He proceeded to recharge it for me. It was quite gallant, although I am not, as Mudder used to put it, as “squishy” as I used to be. Still, though, it is nice to not have to worry about additional wounds nor to have to ask Tordag to heal me due to my carelessness. I supposed Orgluk is allowed to dabble with magic while supervised. It can backfire on the most experienced of us.
The new inscription on the mirror in his mansion shall read as follows: I am good enough. I am smart enough, and gosh darnit, I shall not meddle with magic (unless Elsbeth is nearby).
Besides, she’d likely be married to Foxglove or someone like him by now. What a horrific thought.
Played June 5, 2021
We traveled to Janderhoff, and I enjoyed too much of the Dwarven stout Mudder introduced me to. I was *quite* tipsy. Literally. Mudder and Orgluk had to tie me to a rope to keep me from floating off and into walls. Tordag worked to find information about the brothers while Orgluk and I had a tour of the amazing dwarven city. Mudder is clearly quite proud of his home.
The brothers Vekker were planning for an expedition in the high mountains, and Tordag learned that their base camp was in the foothills of the Kodar Mountains. It sounds like, according to all of my companions, travel into the heights of the mountains will be grueling. They warn me of altitude sickness and are concerned that we don’t have the time to spend becoming acclimated to the ascent. While we can stay overnight in the mansion, we will absolutely have challenges as we work to ascend. Because no one in Janderhoff could tell us directly where the brothers made camp, we decided to teleport to a southwestern branch of the Something River and make our way carefully on foot (I floated, of course) looking for signs of the base camp. It took approximately three days for us to reach the camp. During our travels, we fought off some swarms of ants, but otherwise, we didn’t come across much. I did learn that scorching rays did not work against them as they aren’t individual creatures. The wand of lightning worked well for that, though as it had an area of effect as opposed to targeting a singular creature.
The camp itself seemed haunted and disturbing; Mudder, Tordag, and I were immediately reminded of our experience in Foxglove Manor. One of the “apparitions” we discovered was of one of the brothers Vekker — the bald one (forgot his name) — guzzling gold dust and trying to convince us to eat it. Orgluk started to head in that direction to join him, but I put a gentle hand on his shoulder, and he was able to disbelieve the vision. Orgluk did not fully understand our hesitation in proceeding, but Mudder and I especially remember dancing with the dead and being uncontrollably afraid from our last encounter with haunts like these. Mudder has adamantly refused to interact with any artwork (if there is any) at this camp, and really, who can blame him?
Over the fire tonight in the mansion, we will share this part of our story with Orgluk (from 10 Lamashan, 4707): In the myriad of rooms in this formerly great house, my companions and I were truly awakened to the horror and depravity of the Foxglove history. I shudder to recount in detail each ghastly image, but a few images remained burned into my memory, and I fear I shall not sleep unless I put a few down pen to paper. Each time I blink, I recall the bizarre and disagreeable stained glass windows dating back to who knows when and hinting at the family’s long history with the dark arcane arts. Melda was attacked at one point in the downstairs foyer by a large and completely stone statue of a manticore which suddenly came to life and just as quickly returned to normal. Mudder danced with a beautiful Varisian woman who strangled to dust while they danced. Tordag saw himself strangled by Aldern. I cowered in a fireplace certain that my parents were trying to kill each other and then come to kill me. Each of us recounted both voices and horrific images in different rooms of the house, and while we all knew (after a time) that these images were just that—mere impressions—we each felt compelled to act out the dreadful atrocities and but for sheer will (and in Melda’s case with her dagger, brute strength) we’d all be dead by now, I’m certain of it.
When I reflect back up on the day, while I think of Mr. Aldern Foxglove with an undeniable degree of revulsion, I can’t help but feel pity for the man he once was. No wonder in life he was such a fool, a dandy who paraded his finery for all to see. And also no wonder, given his…grandfather? perhaps?...given Vorel’s unfulfilled journey into undead immortality, no wonder he chose such a path for himself. We are, after all, a product of our upbringing, and while I see all the time people making choices that defy their upbringing (Vendor’s girls and Nualia both come to mind), I recognize the Hand of Our Histories at play, as well.
Played December 5, 2021
We continued to explore the Brothers’ Vekker cabin, and we were set upon by a number of odd an haunting features. A strange and violent blizzard surrounded the house, and Mudder suspected that it was not a natural phenomenon. From where we found Silas, we decided to climb — up and up and up — 60 feet to the landing. At the top, we were attacked by some sort of construct chain, and Mudder saw a secret door that led to a tiny office with Silas’s ledger. It had a great many maps and other points of interest, but nothing that seemed to lead directly to Xin Shalast. We did notice that it was missing several pages at the back. In the living room, we were overwhelmed by terrible, aching hunger, and each of us had thoughts of consuming the others in our party, but we were able to shake them off. Whatever happened to these dwarves must have involved cannibalism. The poor creatures. In one room, I examined a pile of bones and was immediately set upon by emaciated dwarves who nearly killed me outright and just as suddenly disappeared. Both Orgluk and I were completely caught off guard by the attack; Tordag saw it coming but was unable to prevent it. I think Orgluk must have felt a little guilty; he went about smashing the bones after my near evisceration. Immediately after that happened, a great knocking and shuddering befell the house, and Tordag and Mudder were knocked off their feet (I was grateful for my Overland Flight spell) in their rush to reach the lower level and answer the door. Just as soon as we arrived to the bottom floor, the knocking stopped and we saw Silas Vekker’s ghost, who told us that if we sought the city of Xin Shalast, we would need to find the remains of his brother in an abandoned camp along a ledge in the mountains. When Silas could put his brother’s vengeful spirit to rest, he would give us the information we desired. After I prepared our party with a Life Bubble spell to help them withstand the cold and elevation, and Mudder used his remarkable ranger’s abilities to read the map and help us locate the camp in the throes of the storm.
When we arrived at the campsite an hour later, we discovered what appeared to be some grave markers and a shallow depression covered in a dense fog. We moved into the campsite to get a closer look at the grave markers when a giant purple frost worm burst forth from the earth and sprayed nearly every member of our party with a frigid, cold blast. I, already having been grievously weakened by the ghost attack at the cabin, chose to use my overland flight to climb up and over the worm’s head in order to remain out of blast range while my compatriots remained on the ground and poor Digger tried to dig himself far and away from the scary worm. After both Orgluk and Mudder tried their best to damage the worm (to little avail — taking cold damage with each of their attacks), Karivek Vekker in all of his ghostly undead glory showed up. If we thought the encounters with Silas’s haunt were concerning, they paled in comparison with Karivek’s Corrupting Touch. By now, after so many months of working together, our party members set about doing what each of us do best — Orgluk and Mudder swinging away with their great weapons while Tordag and I tried to cast our spells. I wasted some pretty good spells in an attempt to overcome Karivek’s natural defenses while Tordag hopped directly next to him and channeled smite on him. Unfortunately, Karivek took exception to Tordag’s proximity and did a Corrupting Touch with a bite that killed Tordag immediately. In our surprise and sorrow, we did very little damage to Karivek and the worm. The worm emitted some sort of strange trill — Orgluk and Muddler told me later it felt as though the creature were trying to fascinate them — and then Karivek (!) charged across the battlefield to deal the killing blow to it! We didn’t have any time to be surprised as the creature immediately erupted into thousands of shards of ice crystals that exploded outward like a bomb. I was just outside of the blast radius, and Orgluk and Mudder managed to evade the scrapnel, but Karivek himself took some damage. Finally, I was able to cast a piercing Disintegrate spell and finish the battle. Bruised and broken, we located and gathered up Karivek’s remains, and instead of taking them directly back to his brother, we teleported back to Magnimar so that we could have Tordag’s brethren at the Temple of Abadar resurrect Tordag. Just as we were leaving, a terrifying howl (similar to the one we initally heard when we arrived at the cabin) left me shaken, and I was grateful we weren't staying in that godsforsaken place.
After Tordag was resurrected, we briefed him on our experience. Then we rested for the night and healed. In all of this violence between brothers, I feel like it would be worthwhile to explore how to bring folks peace.
Date (next day)
We teleported back to the cabin today, and almost as soon as we arrived, two stange things happened. 1) Both of the brothers Vekker’s ghosts returned and entered into a staring contest. 2) An enormous reindeer in a loincloth emitted a terrifying howl (same sound as yesterday!) and burst through the front wall. The reindeer was a truly terrible foe. It could fly, it harmed us with cold damage, it was incredibly hard to hit, and it was a huge fan of wrestling. It grappled both Orgluk and Tordag before it occurred to me to try out my new spell for inducing peace, and while it was midflight (after Tordag cast a Freedom of Movement on himself and the creature unceremoniously dropped him to the ground), I flew up to meet it to gift it with Euphoric Tranquility. It, as expected, grappled and bit me, but because of Tordag’s Resist Elements spell, I was able to ward off some of its cold damage. As soon as I touched the creature with my spell intact, I was able to convince it to fly to the ground and set me down gently, whereupon I ran away and told everyone I had a new reindeer friend and that we needed to get ourselves prepared before we started attacking the thing again.
Tordag discovered that the creature was particularly susceptible to fire and encouraged the rest of us to try out some fire damage. Fortunately, its will was not able to overpower mine, and it wasn’t able to strike back against us despite our onslaught; it chose instead to drift away and contemplate the beauty of the world. In the meantime, it took substantial damage and eventually, Tordag killed it with a Flame Strike.
Just as we ended our battle with the flying reindeer, the brothers Vekker broke out of their staring contest. Karivek sighed and faded away, and Silas seemed more sorrowful than before. He said as he began to disappear, “Look at the pages of my ledger to find the way. He gave us the five missing pages from his ledger upstairs. It provides exact details on how to find Xin Shalast.”
Played March 27, 2022
We poured over the missing pages of the ledger and decided to set out for Xin Shalast immediately. According to our understanding, the full moon is a critical component in being able to find the hidden road to the fabled city. Mudder let us know that we only have about a three-week window to hit our mark.
We plan to travel by using a combination of magic, cold weather gear, and climbing tools. This will be a formidable journey.
5 Pharast, 4708 — 11 Pharast, 4708
Using Mudder’s remarkable navigational skills, we have had a somewhat mundane journey into the frigid mountains. I have been able to cast Overland Flight on myself to mostly protect myself from the physical labor of scaling the mountains, but my poor companions do not have the benefit of such aid and must embark across the frozen ground and use their physical prowess to scale these wretched cliffs. I continue to cast Life Bubble (with strategic use of an Extend Rod) to allow us the most opportunity to travel, but I can tell that the journey wears on us all. With the constant, howling wind, there is no place for the small talk that would typically accompany our travel. Do not tell Tordag, but I have missed his philosophical banter. Even our nightly visits to the mansion have not been what they used to be; everyone is simply too tired to communicate. At this altitude, we would be struggling if we didn’t have Life Bubble. I am glad it has aided us. My companions have continually impressed me with their fortitude; I fear I would have been nothing but a burden for them on this adventure had I not had the assistance of magic. I’m glad I’ve been able to grant them this small respite from the cold and the air.
In other news, Digger appears to be enjoying this foray into unknown territory, exploring where he can. This includes in the mansion. More than thrice he has ended up near the doorway to my chambers. I cannot tell if he is just checking up on me, if he is bragging that he has found me out, or if he is seeking a restock on his elderberry bushes. Regardless, he has earned face scritches for his troubles.
12 - 16 Pharast, 4708
The moon continues to grow, and we continue to slog. For the most part, the weather has held for us, but any averse weather seems normal according to the climate and region, according to Mudder. I have taken to conjuring ground squirrels for Digger in the evenings when he pops his fuzzy nose into my door. He has been delighted. In one attempt at fun, I sent Digger scampering after a herd of ground squirrels in the corridors of the mansion, and some of them *may* have slipped into my companions’ chambers. The first squirrel to stray from the pack sneaked into Tordag’s chambers, and without hesitation, the badger followed. Tordag briefly glanced up from his reading as Digger caught the squirrel and flipped it back into the hallway at my feet. Unamused, Tordag muttered something about “the youth of today” and stuck his nose back in his tome. I thought Digger might give up his chase, but he seemed to know that some of his quarry had escaped his attack. Digger dashed away down the hall and nosed his way into Mudder’s room. I wondered if Digger might choose to remain there for the evening, but he seemed to be enjoying the pursuit. When I caught up to him at Mudder’s doorway, I watched him chase about the room while Mudder casually picked up his feet every time Digger slid under. Mudder continued to sip at his tankard of ale, utterly unperturbed by the cavorting badger. After Digger snagged his prey, he delivered the prize to Mudder, waited for a head pet, and then set off to find the last of the ground squirrels that had escaped him. I thought to stop to talk Mudder for a moment, but then I heard some sort of orcish cursing from down the hall and third-person muttering along the lines of “Orgluk working,” so I went to check on my fuzzy companion.
Much to my chagrin, Digger had knocked over one on Orgluk’s chairs, a pile of books (I did not know that Orgluk read!), and had lodged himself under Orgluk’s bed, scrabbling with his mighty back claws as though he were attempting to dig. Orgluk lay prone next to him, apparently having been interrupted during his nightly calisthenics, and was, after the initial ruckus, quietly cheering on Digger in his pursuit of the squirrel. I apologized to Orgluk for the mess and began setting things to rights in his room but was caught completely off guard when I started trying to right the pile of books, one of which had an artistically drawn cover of a halfling and a gnome in the throes of passion and another with the befuddling title “Gilbari Jacks Janderhoff.” I was so enthralled with the pile of books that I nearly fell over backwards when Orgluk yelled and Digger emerged triumphant from under the bed with a squirrel in his jaws. I backed out of the room, bumped into the hallway on the other side and it wasn’t until I ended up in own room later that I realized I was still clutching a copy of something called “50 Shades of Elion Greye.” I don’t know what to do with this now. Does he know that it’s missing? Does he think I stole it? DID I steal it?? Do I read it?
This was not the kind of education I was expecting to get from adventuring.
17 Pharast, 4708
Waxing moon. We came upon another cliff today and proceeded to engage with it in the same manner we have previously. Upon reaching the edge, we appear to have reached the valley mentioned in the Vekker brothers’ journal.
There are layers of mist that surround the whole valley, which come up to about chest-height on Orgluk. The whole area has a somewhat unnatural feel to it. Mudder has noticed that this area is atypically devoid of plant life. There are some pale fungi and lichen that emerge in a depressing and life-drained manner. It reminds me of a zombie. Mudder’s expertise was incredibly helpful in allowing us to navigate this treacherous terrain without injury.
We spent most of the day checking out our surroundings. There is an unsettling nature to the place. The light here is off. There is an extended dusk because of the mountains, but there is something just wrong about the place in terms of how long dawn and dusk should typically last. It doesn’t feel actively magical or supernatural, but it is othernatural. I am uncomfortable here.
After further discussion, we decided that one of the important components of the journal was the starvation aspect, and Orgluk valiantly agreed to be our test subject. I am leery of this decision as he already has somewhat poor impulse control, but I shall undertake to be his guardian during this time. This does, however, prevent me from dealing with the troublesome book in my possession.
No incident today. Orgluk describes the initial hunger pains. Digger continues to seek me out and has made occasional pouncing motions as though he wishes to be on the hunt again, but I dare not risk leaving Orgluk unsupervised when there may be some sort of magic that occurs with this hunger strike of his. We shall begin to shift our sleep cycles so that we can arise with the moon. Towards the evening tonight, while sitting watch, I spotted an otter next to the water watching me. I tried to get a better look, but it suddenly dove back into the water. Am I being paranoid about this? Is it the othernatural effects of this place that is setting me on edge? I don’t like this zombieland.
Just before noon, we spotted a roc flying overhead. Eesh. It was circling the valley — maybe watching us. I must be paranoid.
20 (?) Pharast.
I was definitely not paranoid. I dozed today when was supposed to have been monitoring Orgluk, and I experienced a vision of someone reaching out to me. In addition to the embarrassment of having fallen asleep (I know how to put people to magical sleep. Surely I can craft some sort of spell that allows one to UNsleep.), I feel terrible about having sneaked away from Orgluk to be able to meet with the creature. I know he meant well in trying to protect me from the unknown, but I suspect I would not have been able to meet our wary new companion had I not participated in some subterfuge. I have been watched since we’ve been here by a nymph called Svevenka. She noticed upon me the mark of her cousin, Mariana, and she sought me out to find out what we were about. After I cast invisibility on myself and slipped away from Orgluk’s watchful eye, I met with her alone on one of the frozen islands, and we talked of lost loves, of my dear (and curious) companions, and of our need to defeat the Runelord Karzhoug. After more than a half hour of sharing and storytelling, she has agreed to help us as much as she is able.
According to Svavenka, we are close to Xin Shalast. When there, we need to seek out The Spared. They are not hostile to outsiders. They are an offshoot of the Skulks. She says there are two branches of beings that inhabit the ancient city: Minions of the Hidden Beast (these guys are awful), and the Spared, which are more peaceful and more inclined to help us — they can walk in the daylight.
It is a huge, ancient city that has been wrecked by volcanic destruction. At the head of the city sits a tall peak with the carved images of Karzhoug. Because there is an occluding field that prevents approach, Svevenka has never been inside. Some lieutenants have made their way up, but they have some kind of key or device that allows them to approach. Our party believes this is the field of which we were made aware when we visited the Runeforge.
Svevenka agreed to allow me to introduce her to my companions, and she stayed for awhile, telling us that the boundaries between this world and Leng are thin at the Spine of the World. It’s a warping of sorts — people who are unprepared for it can find themselves searching for what they want but due to its warping nature, they will completely pass through the area without recognizing what they’re doing. I tried to make pointed eye contact with Orgluk at this point to warn him about magic, but he was avoiding eye contact. Svevenka said protection against chaos may help us, as well as any magic that could help to penetrate illusions.
Before going to bed, I created a gold morningstar to hang in Orgluk’s room to placate him since I invisibilitied away while he was watching me.
I still haven’t figured out how to give back the book. Maybe that’s why he’s angry?
23 Pharast, 4708
We have a full moon. Orgluk, exhausted and starving, has seen the trail. Tonight, we travel.
24 Pharast, 4708
Shortly before sunrise, we came upon a cliff and were beset by spectres. I do not think these are the same shades as are mentioned in Orgluk’s reading. These undead creatures took a terrible toll on both Orgluk and Mudder before Orgluk obliterated one and I disintigrated the other two with an Undeath to Death spell. Later that morning (what feels like evening to us), we had an incredible battle with cloud giants. I did not realize there was a class of giant that could inspire such blind fury in my dwarven companions, but the cloud giants seem to be it. Both Tordag and Mudder nearly giggled with glee (I actually do think I heard Tordag giggle during battle, now that I think back on it) upon seeing their long-time nemises, and there was very little time to prepare before the giants locked eyes on us and starting throwing great boulders in our direction. Tordag, in a move of sheer magical genius, cast a deflection spell upon himself which caused almost every attack against him to go bouncing back against the aggressor. Between Tordag’s deflection and my confusion spells, there was a regular comedy of errors happening, and the giants actually took a dent out of themselves before Orgluk and Mudder essentially eviscerated them. After scaling the giant’s cliff, it was just a matter of time before we reached our destination.
We have arrived in Xin Shalast.
We plan to stay in the mansion until tomorrow morning in the hopes of coming across the Spared.
Played November 20, 2022
We entered the great city of Xin Shalast just at daybreak. It is massive. It appears that half the city has been subsumed by both volcanic ash and ice. Upon our arrival, we noticed the walls of a fortress in the distance with some winged creatures upon the crenelations. They sent emissaries toward us, and they demanded to know our purpose there. While Tordag was was truthful in his description of why we were there, he wasn’t terribly forthcoming, either. They mentioned something about 10,000 talons for food, and while Tordag tried to finesse more information from them, they remained just as unhelpful to us as we were to them. The creatures (Mudder tells me they were lamia-kin) deduced that we were the “ones they warned us about,” and they began an attack. Both Mudder and Orgluk did quite a bit of damage on the lamia-kin, which is helpful because after the second batch of them arose to meet us, they loosed a stampede of aurochs from the fortress, which left Tordag and me to figure out how to deal with the beasts. Orgluk had already taken a potion of fly to fight off the lamia-kin, and I had already cast my overland flight in the morning, which left three of our party of five unable to move out of the way. Tordag cast fly upon Mudder (who then giggled as he rose from the ground, already enlarged from my wand and swinging his massive lucern hammer), which left me just seconds to figure out how to get Tordag and Digger out of the path of danger. I remembered an old scroll tucked away on my belt and frantically searched for it as the aurochs approached and cast at the last moment a spell of repulsion upon Tordag. I grabbed Digger and floated with him above the ground just as the stampede decended upon us. The repulsion spell bounced a few of the aurochs harmlessly from Tordag, but the majority of the damage the remainder wrought was deftly avoided by Tordag’s dancer-like movements. It looks as though his training with Orgluk has paid off! Then, in a move that completely contradicted his earlier feats of grace, Tordag dimensional hopped to the sky to cast Barkskin on Mudder then promptly dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. If Mudder hadn’t been taking so much damage from the lamia-kin, it would have been funny. Tordag was forced to channel positive energy a couple of times during the battle, but that allowed my compatriots to whittle away at the lamia-kin. Finally, Orgluk finished the last of them with deft morning star strikes to the wretched creature’s wings.
We continued to proceed cautiously through the city, taking care to hide among the buildings and in the alleys as we traveled. At one point, Tordag sneaked up on a work party of giants and heard them discussing their terror of someone called the Warden of Runes. They must be doing some work in the north part of the city. The reclamation of the city seems fairly recent with Karzoug’s attempt to rise. We talked about perhaps sneaking behind one of the work parties to see what it’s up to, but as we were approaching the end of our Life Bubble and Endure Elements spells, we decided to rest in the mansion for the night.
Tonight before we retired, Mudder made an unexpected request of me. He and Orgluk had carefully packed up much of the auroch meat earlier in the day, and Mudder desired to properly treat and cook the meat for our party. For the time being, I have conjured him a cold cellar in which to store his spoils, but I think I may have to find a way to fashion a smokehouse. I haven’t paid much attention to the kitchen before today. It seems Mudder is going to want to be spending some time there. What considerations must I make for a dwarf-sized kitchen?
26 Pharast, 4708
We continued to wend our way into the city, staying hidden as much as possible. This day has felt fruitless. We have not yet encountered any of The Spared. We know that they are humanoid, and we know that they avoid confrontation. We don’t know how we’d get them to approach us (or how we might approach them). They survive on the fringes of society.
After some discussion amongst us, we decided tomorrow night to set up a “bear trap” of sorts to try to lure out some of the Spared if we aren’t otherwise able to find upon them. Fortunately, the lack of encounters on this day allowed me time to mentally plan Mudder’s new kitchen space and make other plans for getting Orgluk’s book back to him.
After finding a suitable location within the city to rest in the mansion for the night, I took Mudder back to see the new kitchen with both a brick oven and an open fire pit, a smokehouse, and a scullery. This also warranted some redesign of our dining area, as Mudder has suggested he will be cooking for us for the foreseeable future. On tonight’s menu is something he calls “hamburgers.” I stayed with him in the kitchen area for awhile, trying to add the spices I heard him call for and making subtle adjustments to the counter heights and cupboards when he was otherwise occupied.
We sat down to dine together, and while Tordag and Orgluk engaged in conversation about the Treatise of Urglin which was the “light reading” Tordag had recently loaned to Orgluk, I asked Mudder, “How did you learn to cook?” He replied, “Me mum. She begun me training and me years of adventuring in so many foreign lands expanded it. But it was me time with humans that truly blossomed me tastes and skills for cooking.” I have to admit, there is a certain level of culinary genius to his cooking. This is much more fun than my magical fare.
After we cleaned up (in reality, I made the dishes disappear. I may have a scullery, but I have no intention of using it personally), I concocted a new digging exercise for Digger in which he hunted for earthworms in a giant dirt mound near his burrow. I left him happily digging and then noted that Tordag was tucked safely away in his room, engaged in his nightly studies. Mudder was whistling a contented tune back near the smokehouse. I deduced that it was safe to cast invisibility on myself and sneak that titillating book back to its rightful owner. So it was that I found myself back at Orgluk’s room. I had hoped that he would be engaged in his nightly calisthenics and would not have occasion to hear me sneaking to one of his many book piles, but as luck would have it, he was engaged in reading, I think I was even more undetectable. He is now a voracious reader, and I had a hard time discerning which piles were his “to read,” “currently reading,” and “already read” piles. When setting down “50 Shades of Elion Greye,” I noticed another interesting title and thought, perhaps, that Orgluk wouldn’t notice or mind if another book went missing. At this point, I waged a silent war with myself that was long enough I feared my invisibility and luck would wear out. Should I directly take a book, thus violating my companion’s trust (even if such thievery was unbeknownst to him) but furthering my own education, or do I just go without the book? It was about the time when my curiosity outweighed my desire to remain reputable when reliable Digger came snuffling into the room and nosed directly up to me, clearly looking for scritches as a reward for his triumph over the earth worm mound. I bolted out of the room and around the corner, trying not to disturb the dirt Digger left in his wake as I fled. I paused to catch my breath just as I heard Orgluk call out a greeting to the little fellow.
That . . . did not go as planned. But it could have been worse.
If I could remember the title, perhaps I could cause the mansion to magic it into existence?
Regardless, Orgluk needs bookshelves.
27 Pharast, 4708
We came upon a building we wanted to investigate this morning, and there we fought a group of primitive, tribal-esque yeti-like creatures. Poor things. None of us could communicate with them in a way that they could understand, and in their territorial rage, they charged us. None of us felt good about attacking them. Mudder was concerned that, despite the boost from haste, he wouldn’t be able to outrun them, so Tordag unleashed a column of holy fire that seemed to severely wound them. I used my wand of scorching ray, and we entered into a reluctant battle. The creatures were incredibly strong, and they hurt when they hit. Once again, Tordag chose to cast deflection on himself, and he rushed into the group of yeti, causing them to swing wildly and hit themselves. We were eventually able to pick them off, but it was an unhappy victory. Poor senseless creatures. As beneficial as the comprehend languages spell is in helping us to understand others, its limitation is that it doesn’t allow us to communicate back in a way they can understand us.
Speaking of which, we finally came across a member of The Spared today, but we scared the bejeezus out of him several times over. First, Mudder talked to him whilst Mudder was invisible, then I cast an unsuccessful charm spell on him when he started running away. Then Orgluk started chasing him, and the poor fellow was terrified. After a short chase in the streets, both Mudder and Orgluk tried to convince him that they were friendly, but their blood-stained garb and rough demeanor only served to scare him further. Tordag was able to get him to slow by speaking to him in Thassalonian, but even he with his sweet words wasn’t able to convince the fellow. Before he could flee again, I cast a charm spell at the most heightened state I could reach, and that finally caused him to slow down and engage with us.
He began rambling about a Hidden Beast. He said we were the ones who were prophesied, and that we were sent to them to release them from their servitude to this nefarious creature. Tordag was able to determine that there were others with whom we could speak as well. We learned that their numbers were scattered because of the Hidden Beast, and that, as the Beast enslaves his people, they follow with bllind devotion. It smacks of domination.
We followed him — his name is Morgiv — through the tunnel system. We had no idea where we were in relation to the outside world, but Morgiv was reluctant to travel further with us once we reached a certain point. He said the Beast was beyond.
27 Pharast (continued)
We began by casting a bunch of buff spells on ourselves before descending into the lair. It was fortunate that we did, as one of those spells was True Seeing, and we were immediately greeted by an illusory skeleton that asked us in abyssal whose blood we would willingly spill to meet our true lord.
None of us were fooled by the illusion, so we continued into the chamber whereupon we were beset by very sneaky vampires. While none of us has had direct contact with vampires before, Tordag was able to tell us that they were susceptible to magical weapons and silver; he did not warn us that their attacks would drain our lifeforce away, but it was a lesson both Orgluk and I learned through experience.
The first vampire I was able to freeze with a halt undead spell, which allowed my companions to focus on the monstrosity that arose from behind the illusory skeleton — a vampiric decapus from the deepest regions of the world. Orgluk and Mudder set off immediately to pursue the abomination as it sidled about the room on its 10 fearsome tentacles, but they were waylaid by three other well hidden vampires that seemed to apparate before us. Only Mudder and Tordag were unsurprised by their arrival, their keen dwarven senses picking up on the skulks before they were able to strike. Tordag obliterated a vampire skulk by casting The Most Effective Heal Spell in History. It exploded into an ashy vapor and began making its way to a crack in one wall, but we were unable to immediately deal with its corpse because of the other threats in the room. While the first vampire skulk who appeared remained held fast, he was also regenerating at an alarming rate. Truly, my spells were just not as helpful on this occasion as I would have hoped. The vile creatures had remarkably good saves, which rendered much of my offense ineffective. I was able to get off one effective Disintegrate spell and played some minor shenanigans with Enemy Hammer, but really, it was the others who were the deciding factors in this battle. Both Mudder and Orgluk were as deadly as ever, although the decapus wrought havoc upon Orgluk. I honestly don’t know how he finished the battle standing. I suppose the Stoneskin helped, but both he and Mudder were very bloody by the time the battle was done.
After an eternity, we finally slew the remaining vampire skulks (I say we. I did nothing. I attempted an Undeath to Death spell and all I got for my efforts was a newly unhalted and fully healed first vampire), and we spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how to break into the chambers which encased their worldly remains. Tordag proceeded to decapitate each of the vampire spawn and the great Hidden Beast before driving a stake through the areas where we presumed their hearts were. On the skulks that was a bit easier than with the decapus.
Finally, exhausted and wounded, we met again with Morgiv to let him know that the Hidden Beast had been vanquished. We took the beast’s head back to him. He was overjoyed and promised to meet up again with us tomorrow. He said that his clan would be able to gather and offer thanks to us. We still need to talk to him about what other creatures might be here and how we can move around this place. Perhaps they have a map? Morgiv suggested that this lair is relatively safe underground, and that this would be a good meeting point later on.
We decided to set ourselves up in the mansion, and we agreed to meet him again in the morning. Tordag healed Orgluk and Mudder before we slept for the night, and somehow Mudder had the energy to concoct a dinner of auroch steaks for us before we slept.
I decided to retire early and leave my companions to their own devices. Perhaps working on Orgluk’s new bookshelves will ease my sense of futility. Tordag has his studies and his devotion to Abadar. Mudder has his cooking and status as ale sommelier. Orgluk is often in pursuit of physical perfection and has become an avid reader over these last few weeks. Aside from my journaling, I feel I do not have the anchors they do that keep them from becoming wholly about this work of defeating Karzoug. There is the matter of The Reading, of course, but that’s a distraction, really, not a purpose.
My parents sent me away nearly seven months ago to learn humility. The longer I travel with my compatriots and the further we proceed on this path that seems predestined, I feel all I’ve learned on this journey so far is that I know nothing. Nothing at all. If that is humility, it is for the birds.
Played December 10, 2022
According to Morgiv, there are always dragons flying around, but there’s one — a big, blue dragon — that seems to rule them all that keeps a home for itself somewhere in the lower city. We were planning to go toward the arena, but Morgiv couldn’t tell us much about it. He said it was dangerous for their people, so they didn’t go inside. We also asked Morgiv about what the giants might be restoring, but he wasn’t super clear about that, just that they had *certain* buildings they were paying attention to. He said the giant overlords were bigger than anything he’s ever seen, but he also said they have some way to completely dominate the will of the other, lesser giants around them. Based on what he’s describing, Mudder and Tordag think he’s talking about something even more rare and fearsome than Storm Giants, and even those are creatures of myth. Morgiv did say that the arena was an area where the giants, abominable snowmen, and lamia-kin tend to actively avoid.
As thanks on behalf of his people, Morgiv gave us something like a bag of holding II, four scrolls (greater restoration, 2 heal, true resurrection), a staff of healing, 8 elixirs of the peaks (gives users acclimation to mountainous terrain — bonuses to climb checks, endure elements, etc).
We made it most of the way through exploring the city uneventfully; however, near the end of our day we came across a band of frost giants. They were immediately hostile to us, and I was able to get off a fairly successful Confusion spell which occupied four of the five of them while my companions fought against the one whose will defied mine. For awhile, my compatriots were content to allow the giants to bash away at themselves, but eventually, either boredom or bloodlust overtook the entertainment value of the giant battle, and all three of them decided to engage the giants in battle, unnecessarily putting themselves in danger. One can take the companions out of the battle, but one cannot take the battle out of the companions.
29 Pharast, 4708
Today we finally reached the giant colosseum. The place was of a size that really does not have comparison. I suppose if one were to try to gather that many giants in one place, it would have to be big, no?
Mudder began some of his detective work when we arrived, and what he described to us sounded otherwordly. He said he didn’t know exactly what he was tracking, but it was essentially a giant, red spider with a skeleton-like face. We tracked further and further into the colosseum without coming upon the creature, and finally, we ended up at the center ring.
I decided — to save us some time — to Dimension Door the party into the middle of the ring, and that’s when we were beset by some sort of telepathic link with another creature. In my head, I heard maniacal laughter. Orgluk said he felt a cool breeze. Mudder recalled later that he felt like he was in a sauna. Tordag didn’t experience anything unusual, but he did notice the aroma of sulphur. Then six summoned Bone Devils surrounded us and began their attack.
In a stroke of brilliance, Tordag decided to cast a Banishment spell and immediately sent three of the Devils back to their home plane, which left us with just three others to deal with. Orgluk and Mudder made short work of two of them while I decided to make one of them my best friend, like I did with the unlucky, sad reindeer from the Vekker brothers’ encampment. That tranquility spell really is remarkable.
My new best friend was quite amenable to conversation, and he told us that the Devils held Gamagan in great esteem. Gamagan is one of Azmodeus’s generals, apparently. According to my bestie, he’s one of the goolagan? I don’t know what that means. I’m sure I misheard him. Anyway, Gamagan has been here in Xin Shalast for millenia. In an interesting turn of events, my bestie claims he doesn’t know anything about Karzoug. Bestie also told us that someone named Caleb visits Gamagan from time to time. Caleb is from this world. He is an Azlanti. We’ll have to keep an eye out for this fellow. Finally, before I allowed Orgluk and Mudder to finish him off, Bestie acted like a tour guide and told us the name of this place was the Heptaric Locus and that we really should check out the gladitorial chambers and training room below.
Then we met the scarlet walkers.
It took us longer than an hour to explore the labrynthine caverns underneath the Locus. The boys were happier than pigs in shit, whereas I was unimpressed by the gloom. We found and avoided some encounters. We found a room where it looks like they reenacted an ancient naval battle. I wonder what that was all about. After exploring that utterly droll location, we reemerged topside and decided to explore some of the more stately seating areas above.
In one of the VIP boxes, we found a cache with three darkwood chests. 4500 g, 220 g, 8000 g worth of gems and jewelry. The room smelled of sulphur. Perhaps this is where Gamagan has been holing up. We decided to make our merry way out with our loot before Mr. Gamagan returned and took exception to us taking his things.