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The Countess' party is in full swing as we arrive. Nina and I stop for a quick nip just inside, quite bolstering. Spot Macer ahead, seems to be having some trouble. Going on about being blinded, but I see the real problem. The swollen eyes give him away, he's plastered. I say, man; use a bit of decorum. Just arrived and already blotto, not the way to leave a good impression. We help him along the halls, treacherous footing here. Where are the servants? Something really should be done. Nina stoically remains with our besotted friend as I race ahead to secure the best spot to see and be seen. Entering, I see it's becoming one of "those" parties. Everyone is rushing around, things are flying through the air, and HUGE is positively Gigantic; what do they feed that boy? Dive in to help contain the madness.
The seas are really coming up now, a true gale must be moving in. The deck is awash, and it's hard to keep footing with all this debris. Boarders continue to vault the rails, their numbers seem endless. Many obstacles on deck, must have a word with the quartermaster about cargo stowage. Doesn't he realize the danger of all this weight so high above keel? You there, lash that yardarm before we're all swept overboard! Tried a quick musket shot, but a sudden wave sent it wide. Fearing friendly casualties, I switch back to the blade. Clouds of enemy missiles are everywhere, they have no concern for their own. Damn, that was a gooey one; the day feels like elderberries.
The day is endless, as if we have been at this forever. I ache all over and am having a bit of trouble focusing, time to pull myself together. Spot Nina nearby, wondering where she's been when I get THE LOOK. No idea what I've done this time, it's like I'm supposed to be psychic. If I was psychic, I'd be rich; much more fun, much less work. The others finish clearing away the party detritus as I stand inspection. Nina appears impeccable as always while I seem to have fallen down several stairwells onto some ballistas, definitely one of those parties. Others seem the worse for wear, but we continue on in search of the after party. Enter a room with a tiny guy sitting on/in a giant bug. He starts waving and yammering and weapons are drawn, is this any way to treat guests? Explanations will be required after we deal with these ruffians!
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The others seem to be preoccupied with another hallway full of kobolds, as Huge heads off across the slimy lair of the sabre-toothed toads. Not willing to let him go wandering off by himself in this awful place, I follow. "You know that we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of the others, right Huge?" "All that matters is saving the children," he replies. Still with the saving a bunch of brats angle? Their parents were happier before they came along, and it's not like they can't make more; children are VASTLY overrated.
Huge plunges down a stairway and through an intersection with me on his heals, but draws up sharply at the entrance to a large and smelly chamber. There seem to be a large number of kobolds bedded down in mouldy straw in there, and not all of them are asleep, as a large number of outraged squeals and squawks attest. Suddenly, we are pelted with a bunch of tiny javelins. I would say that there were enough to blot out the sun, but that is not a good description in this dark and foul cavern.
Ouch, more poison. I am getting positively sluggish from the effects as Huge asks me to back up a bit. I oblige, simultaneously casting an enlarge spell upon him once again. He turns his skin to iron, and steps back to block the exit of the cavern. I cast a wary eye at the intersection behind us; if the rest of the group doesn't get here soon, we will undoubtedly be surrounded and cut off, an end I for one wish to avoid.
I'm down to a single 1st level spell left, along with cantrips. I start casting acid splash at Huge's opponents (more seem to be pushing into our small lighted area faster than Huge can cut them down), but can't seem to connect. Damn this poison! Suddenly Vex dashes past, and Felu steps by me and blazes away at the kobolds engaging Huge. There must be nearly a hundred of them in there, and they just keep coming! Kelyn and Lugh step past, heading to the right and left of Huge. I catch a glimpse of Kelyn's face as he stumbles into the chamber; I don't think he's quite aware of what's going on around him. I can hear Macer hacking away at something to my rear, and a quick glance shows me Nina backing him up, directing him as he swings blindly at even more kobolds.
Felu's pistol barrel is glowing in the darkness, and she stows it and draws her second. She HAS to be getting low on ammunition. I've cast more acid splashes than I can easily count, most of them going wide or high with Huge still blocking out front. Oona slips past, and heads into the maelstrom as well, and the group begins pushing out into the room. Felu and I step back and take over for Nina, who desperately wants to get to Kelyn's side; Felu backs up Macer with gunfire, dispatching the last kobold, and we head down the corridor, hoping to flank the mass in the main chamber.
With Macer blind, we move too slowly, and the others beat us to the chamber exit, still slicing and hacking at the mass of kobolds. I didn't know there were this many kobolds on the planet...
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Having been absent in the moment since reclaiming the shrine of the Dawnflower, with most of my waking hours spent in concern for its progress and future I periodically come and go to the groups needs with brief moments of lucidity. Since the shrine we had investigated the illness of the Mayor of Sandpoint’s noble relative in Magnimar to some success, escorted him to Sandpoint, and jumped headlong into a rescue of wayward children, all noble charges to be sure, but too much is upon the scale to keep it in order and my concern for the success of the shrine was ever present.
That is until we happened upon our first sighting of evidence the children were actually retrievable and alive. That is when I was again ripped back to the moment at hand and found myself in a subterranean kobold warren with uncountable numbers of the beasts skittering about in the dark just beyond the range of our light. Ever present was the clicking of clawed padded feet, subtle squeaks and tongue laden whispers, the dampness of the underworld mixed with the sickly sweet mephitis of death and waste. The strident progress was punctuated with brief violent bursts, futile in their attempt but no less intense or ferocious! We located a child in the far reaches of a tomb that was checked for crypt rot and found safe from the waste affliction. This lead us to a lower chamber in the mine proper where a mad dwarf was engaged attempting to finalize a soul binding ritual which we interrupted at the expense of blinding a fair portion of the group. Though still capable of maneuver and hearts willing to proceed in the fight the responsibility to protect and defend those blinded would fall to the next rank of combat effectives requiring a change of strategy going forward, albeit a minor one.
The carnage witnessed before and the serious nature of rituals lent to a sense of urgency which spurred us forward into the mine to find the absolute MOTHERLOAD and seat of the entire kobold kingdom of our worldly existence! This was to be a wild and wily fight. The darkness boiled with motion. The air was filled with the screeches and hissing of the entire known kobold nation! Preparations were made as volleys of javelins impacted the group. The melee ensued. I found myself utilizing the spear and shield as my father taught me to full affect. I had to date, not found the confidence to give myself over fully to it, but now it was evident that the style has true merit when you trust what you are taught and execute it without hesitation. The group waded through the kobold sea laying it waste. Even in the narrows of the warren…mine we advanced one after the next as the next in line slew the one before him…or her. At the felling of the last of the collected kobold nation, covered in their ichor, hearts pounding from blood lust, winded with sweat washing the ichor along the pulsing veins protruding from tight overused muscles, an arrogant kobold “monarch” arose from his insectoid throne welcoming us to sacrifice ourselves on his behalf for the favor of his liege…whatever that beast might be!?!? Indignant at our response he ordered his guards to take us. Huh! Well I guess if you’re coming our way I’ll just wait here and catch my breath as you run up my spear!!
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Well, made short work of that lot(Bazinga!). Others were picking up a few trinklets, but I hear HUGE and Lugh have gotten into more mischief. Heading that way, pass Nina talking to a stray. Nice size animal, but Damn that is one homely dog; and somebody dyed it green. Fashion comes and goes, but this is no way to treat an animal, no matter how it looks. Not that I would say anything out loud, no idea how attached she is to it. I pass by, pat it on the head, and try to find it a treat.
Moving down the corridor, pass a chamber and almost loose my lunch. This is the Countess' party and she can do what she wants in her home, but this seems over the line. The scaly old woman is stretched on a chaise wearing a tight dress and a come-hither look; no one can pull off that shade of blue(it would clash with Nina's eyes). Unable to suppress a shudder, continue towards the ruckus in the rear of the manor. Nina catches up, she needs my assistance on more important matters. Have to stop in that chamber for some tools(don't make eye contact!) and back to the dog. Someone has put a ridiculous iron collar on it that requires a bit of effort to remove. Luckily, it's busy with a large snack Nina found for it(don't say anything; can hardly look at it, much less keep it) and we send it on it's way.
The party is winding down and it is time to go. Vex is talking with the Countess(must control stomach) while others clear more debris. In all this, a number of children have turned up. Who would be depraved enough to bring kids to this debacle? Gather up and head out, finally reaching some fresher air. Continue on through the woods(?) and discover a lost girl. Tells a story of death and fire, but am distracted by a large dog(at least it's not green) trying to devour Atz. It's put down and Atz is attended(where's the girl?), so we continue to the children's homes.
we arrive, many tearful reunions, and I can finally put my head down for a bit of rest........
.......throwing up again, keeping a sharp eye out for any important things that may need to be put back in. Nina holds a cool cloth to my pounding head(bless her!) as HUGE continues to chant and someone remarks that I look pretty good for a corpse. This goes on for some time(when the heck did I eat corn?) as the group fills me in on the last few days of slaughtering bolds, rescuing kids, freeing a dragon(quick look around, don't see it), and killing a werewolf. The rescued halfling spoke of things they encountered, and we are going to stop any threat to the logging camp. Standing quickly(whoa; while five Ninas is an intriguing thought, I feel much better when they all blend back into One), I get my three left feet under control and head back to the ruins. Find two goblinoids arguing over a corpse, and spot a third skulking nearby. They are put down quickly, will have to find their camp later to contain any wolfy outbreaks. First, a few days of down-time will probably be a good thing. Still afraid to look in a mirror, the only thing I have left to throw up are my feet. Ah, the glamorous life of an Adventurer; wouldn't miss it for a wooden shekel!
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
The room was full of the little bastards and they just kept coming. We must have fought them for more than five minutes before they no longer filled in their ranks. In the end we had cut them down leading through a tunnel further into the warren. I was so exhausted that when the last kobold fell I was seeing little star like bursts at the edge of my vision. My body was covered in blood, and it wasn’t all theirs. Thankfully Sam still had a few potions left over and offered them to me to drink up, which I did. The curative magics did what they could and with that small break over we pushed further in.
The tunnel opened into a room with their leader and two of his bodyguards. The leader then offered to treat us to dinner and when it was over we could be sacrificed to his god. I replied, “Where’s the children.” His answer told us all we needed to know when he said that we could take their place, which meant they were still alive. So the group charged. This fight didn’t last as long and once again I found myself and Lugh enlarged through Sam’s magics. The room itself had only one exit which was filled with a surprised looking green dragon and kobold handler. The dragon seized the opportunity to kill the handler once it realized that the kobold king was dead and then meekly lowered its head. Slavery isn’t something I believe in, and even though I don’t know much about dragons, I do know they are intelligent to know they are not animals.
So I moved past the dragon and the melting kobold to find that the passage split. One of the passages held what looked like a bedroom nest sort of area and a rather scantily dressed female kobold who looked to entertain the idea of our ... meeting. I ignored her advances and moved into the other passage. This eventually led into a room that was dark, even though I could hear chanting. Then I realized that the room wasn’t dark, my vision had again grown clouded from the ash attack earlier. Lugh did what he could to direct my attacks with verbal cues but in the end I did nothing. There was a mad kobold shaman and two assistants that had been cut down by the others. We were to late to save the remaining adventurer that had tried to save the children, but we did manage to save the remaining child.
With this accomplished we moved back out of the complex retrieving items of interest along the way. I was unsure but I think Vex may have “met” with the female kobold. Atz used the wand for curing our wounds to get us moving and even though we were battered and bruised we made off for the logging camp.
Along the way I became aware of the scent of burned wood and it was strong enough that would make me believe a large structure or section of the forest had caught fire. We came upon a little girl weeping in the woods with singed clothing. Through tear stained eyes, she told us of her orphanage that had caught fire and her barely escaping. We directed her to Atz to look over and watch while we moved on towards the orphanage, which luckily was on the way to the logging camp. We were surprised when we heard Atz scream and when we turned around we could see he was being savagely attacked by the little girl who was now also a wolf. So this is what lycanthropy looked like! I was glad to have cured Deveren’s uncle of his affliction, unfortunately the girl had to be put down and she was. Looking Atz over after the attack I could see no transference of the disease so he was safe, but it meant we had to really look into the orphanage.
When we arrived a small group of us moved up closer attempting to be quiet in case there were more lycans about. I admit I did a poor job of it. The exhaustion of the days events were taking its toll and I managed to snap every dry twig between the group and the orphanage. Thankfully there were no lycans to be alerted by my failures. Further investigation showed that the children had been killed from the smoke as their corpses were all still in their beds. The basement showed the remains of what I would assume to be the schoolmarm. She had been savagely torn apart. The room contained several torture implements though and I wonder if the girl lycan had been tortured into causing this. Perhaps the fire was an accident. Regardless nothing could be done except a quick prayer for the loss of the little ones and we moved on. The burying of the dead would have to wait.
We arrived late in the evening at the logging camp and released the children to return home to happy parents. The idea that we could have been those children all those years ago did not escape me, and the idea that my little sister may try to follow in my footsteps gave me pause. In the end the parents tried to give us a monetary reward for their safe return. I politely refused while others pocketed the cash. When it was explained to me that it would be rude ‘not’ to take the reward I had to reply with, “Do I look like I care if I offend anyone over this?” That seemed to end the discussion and I directed them to use the money to repair and replace the lost orphanage. I then found a nice area under a tree to roll out my bed roll and get some much needed rest.
In the morning the group gathered to decide what to do and to use a few of the items we had found in the kobold warren. Some of the others had talked with those in the camp the night prior and learned that the adventurers we had found in the warren were the remains of an adventuring group that had been killed by a giant wolf. So there was a very real possibility that there was another lycan in the area that needed to be found and killed. The halfling led us to where his companions had died and one of the members was missing. From there we tracked him deeper into the woods and closer to Sandpoint.
Eventually because of our tracking efforts we came across his body and much like the little girl was in a sort of in between wolf and man form. He was also dead. Hacked up and stabbed repeatedly. Someone, or something, had done our job for us but more than likely was now carrying the disease. We tracked the killers but the rest of the group had me stay behind as they snuck up to look. I agreed, begrudgingly to do so, and missed out on the fight. By the time I arrived the others had come upon a group of hobgoblins that had managed to kill our wayward lycan. The others made sure their threat was over and with that done returned to Sandpoint. I rather enjoyed the last few days being out of the towns and in the wilds of Varisia.
Gah! Will this nightmare never end?
Ever since the fight with the chained creature that released the cloud of ash and hot cinders, I have not been able to see.
I've been led through the halls of this underground complex filled with countless Kobolds who swarmed us like rats. I've heard my friends in combat, and even found myself defending a hall against several of the buggers while I was blind. Nina kept yelling that there were more ahead of me and all I could do was swing my sword in big arcs, hoping to hit whatever got in my way. Somehow, I managed to survive that event (due mainly to the fact that the majority of Kobolds are nearly completely inept at combat).
After that I was led/drug through more passages by members of the group as they sought to rescue several children that were being held prisoner. The group killed the Kobold "king" and his guards, and then finally made their way out of the caverns. There was talk of taking the kids back to their parents, and then we were off again through the woods. Apparently, there was a small girl found in the woods who turned out to be some type of shape-changing wolf. She attacked Atz when the rest of us were not looking and was killed by the party.
I think my vision may be starting to come back now, as I can at least tell light from dark. I hope it's soon as I'm tired of being a liability to the others who have to lead me around like a helpless puppy.
The King is dead!......Long live the King!
As the only resident male kobold in residence as far as we could tell Vex was to be crowned King of the kobs, but that had to wait when a rival approached from a darkened passage with an unnervingly large lizard on a leash! To our surprise and great relief the reptile spat a gout of acidic goop upon the tethered kobold handler who slumped into an acrid steamy meat pile. Huge and I approached and made a sign of appreciative acknowledgement as he let us pass deeper into the darkened passage. No sooner than passing him by did the passage split. The right offered (and that would be a loose definition, no pun intended!) a shebold of blue scales presenting in a femininish(?)fashion of availability. Needless to say we moved on quickly....TO THE LEFT! We were sure this was the former and now present Kings concubine and who are we to stand between the newly crowned King and his harem?
Huge and I entered the last chamber of the wing of the mine to find a savage sacrifice take place before our eyes as a pasty white old witchlet kobold ripped the heart from a half sidhe, one of the would be rescuers of the children, and perform some dark ritual consuming the heart in a flash of smoke and fire. Enraged, I threw my spear and cut the remainder down with Sarenrae’s edge. Huge and I collected the last of the hostages and the still warm corpse of the victim. I prayed for the sylvan breed whose soul would need to be escorted from this place to find its peace. The others gathered what was of interest for our trouble and to deny it for any who remained. This days work was wholesale carnage and a fight for our lives with a good number still visually impaired so we worked our way out of the mine to make for the logging camp quickly.
As we moved the smell of smoke crept upon us in the dark of night. Then came the sound of a whimpering child. Weary, we crept to her location and found her sobbing profusely in a scorched yellow dress. Not having reached majority it would seem we brought her to the groups healing savant Atz for care and returned to the road. No sooner than taking our leave then the child wildly attacked Atz. Suddenly it became apparent she was no mere “child” as she had sprouted a tail and some fur. Again we reduced her to a lifeless husk in short order. That was an unpleasant experience I do not wish to repeat but necessity trumped that need for compassion due to the voracity of her savagery. Again prayers were offered for the safe passage, and salvation of an innocent youngling and victim of the circumstance of lycanthropy. On we marched until arriving at the loggers camp. Here we made arrangements for the interment of the deceased sylvan breed and youngling.
After a fitful rest we mildly interrogated the surviving would be rescuer of the children to ascertain the size and make up of their party to which we were quickly advised and lead to the ambush spot where the rescue went awry. There we found two large Goblin types of either the hobgoblin or bugbear variety apparently squabbling over the remains of a now dead human who was identified as the last of the rescuing troupe and likely source of the moon madness. Actually three Ubber-gobs were cut down when all was said and done, and though all showed signs of being carriers of lycanthropy now, letting it ravage their community didn't sound that aweful, however the better reasoning behind our action was ending the line here and now. When all was accomplished we made our escape to Sandpoint for some much needed time to relax and recover. During the dawn ritual the first day in town it became clear the Dawnflower had bestowed the gift of healing upon me for those in need. She is benevolent in her gifts of warmth and grace, after all....
THE DAWN BRINGS NEW LIGHT.
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You know, I don't intentionally go looking for trouble. That said, after what the ghost told us on the way up here, I wasn't too worried about being reserved. I'll have to get back to the kobold adventure. For now we'll start in with what happened on our way back to Sandpoint.
We were just passing in front of the dwarven ruins when Birgun stops walking and begins a conversation with a rock. After a little while a ghostly looking man stands up from the rock and explains that we all need to go with him. A large carriage appears, also very ghost-esk, and as we enter he greets us by our name, and a second name he claims to have known to us in a previous lifetime. It was very odd exchange but for whatever reason I didn't feel on edge about the situation. Thus began the ride north, during which our host gave a slight history of where we were headed. I'll give you the super brief version.
Small boom town up north; plenty of money to be made; raised to the ground every 5 years or so by white dragon; dragon slain two years ago by adventurers; town prosperous till two-ish months ago; witch came from mountain prophesying doom; starts coming true; a group of strangers are supposed to come to town looking to help but ultimately destroys the town; enter us.
Well like I said, I wasn't too worried about being reserved. We got rooms at the first inn we encountered, the White Dragon inn (someone's tempting fate), then split up to try and get an idea of whats going on. I spotted an herbalist shop and headed in for some potion makings as well as a little info gathering. The shop owner was a "simple minded" fellow named Phlen, who seamed to be blisfully unaware of the goings on. He told me of the witch and the "evil in the woods" that has been killing all the gaurd patrols. Then he talked about a girl that had been brought back from one of the farms. The whole family had been killed except for her. Apparently the guards brought her by for him to heal but he lied about them taking her back to the baracks. I told him that I was a friend and he could tell me what was going on. He looked sideways mumbled something about the prophecy not mentioning a lizard then told me that the captain of the guard and the girl had been staying at his shop for the last two weeks and then started to lead me down the hall.
Phlen tentatively knocked on a hall door then entered explaining that I had some questions for the girl. When I entered the room my nostrils were accosted with the scent of dampness, must, and mammal sex. A quick look at the captain and the girl explained that they were rather "engaged" a very short time ago. Being highly unimpressed at this point I made a couple of short remarks to the two. I asked the captain why he had been here for the last two weeks instead of taking care of the town and told the girl that she seemed rather unfettered by the fact that her whole family had been slaughtered recently. To which the captain asked in a harsh tone "What do you want?" I turned to the girl and said "I want you to tell me about the attack and anything you can about this 'evil in the woods'". The captain stood up, drew his sword and shouted "YOU'RE THE EVIL IN THE WOODS!" ... Elf please, I haven't been here a full half hour.
The captain moved forward to strike me and missed, then the girl tried some sort of spell on me that I was able to shake off. I darted around the captain to get to the girl and got a couple of daggers ready. The first strike with the magic dagger should have dug much deeper into her side than it did, however the cold iron dagger that I barely nicked her with seemed to have no such problem, must be a demon. The captain closed the gap again and two devils or demons or whatever came in from another door, I think Lugh calls them outsiders in general. Anyway another solid strike from the captain and and being thoroughly outnumbered made me decide that I should get out while I was still breathing. I got a couple of good hits in on the captain then made for the door. I dodged between the captain and one of the outsiders and was just about to round the corner when my body stopped. Then it turned around and fell in line next to the girl, somehow she had control of it. I was furious, especially when my friends started to show up from the commotion and engage the captain and outsiders. There was fun and killing to be had and that stupid (please allow for a 15-20 second censoring beeeeep as Vex has a string of rather foul names for the succubus that range in a number of languages) literally has me emptying my pockets in the middle of a battle!
My allies were able to clear out the room releasing me from the enchantment. So right now, I'm fuming mad, there's a mostly intact dead succubus next to me, and I don't think there is a book in existence that will get as meticulous as I will with the documentation and dissection of its anatomy, you know, for science...
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Just when I thought things were getting back to normal......
Headed to Sandpoint for some R+R when HUGE stops and starts talking to a rock(blink, blink blink). Fearing a relapse, turned to Nina who could only shrug and say she was pretty sure there was "something" there. Eventually, a ghostly form appeared, not one of the mumbling undead we had encountered earlier. Says he has known HUGE through many lifetimes, and we are always with him, but always different. The way he looks at Vex makes me think even the ghost is having a hard time buying this. Believe he spent way too much time sampling exotic flora before he shuffled off his mortal coil.
The spirit named each of us, and called us by other names that were "known", but hadn't heard before. Told HUGE we needed to travel with him to stop a prophesy of evil, and as it was a great distance, he had a magic coach to carry us there. Now, I am not a qualified healer, but I'm thinking there's still alot of venom running through my system because this is sounding plausible. Nina takes me aside to say, while this story seems to be a whopper, if we stay together as a group, we always work through things. It's good to have someone who keeps that glass full to the top. So who's up for a road trip?
Most of us settle into the coach as Macer takes one of the riding horses, guess he's trying to get his saddle butt back.
the spirit spins an elaborate tale of dragon, boomtown, and prophecy. The mode of travel makes it difficult to remember all the details, Nina spoke of overlapping planes and other oddities. Believe we slept a good bit of the way; others mentioned it, but I don't remember. Arrive at a forest clearing a few(?) days later, but those who know the lands say we are just south of the World Wound, a journey of months. Don't understand the mechanics, but it sure beats walking. Gather our gear and head down to the bustling town of Fort Donner.
Seems more like a plague town. The few people we see run inside and slam doors as we pass, must figure we are the Foretold. Some witch is spreading stories of a group of adventurers who will come to help, but end up dooming the town. Now first, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a group of adventurers. And second, I figure she's padding her percentages by helping things happen the way she says. Not kind of me, but I figure it's a good place to start. We secure rooms at a decent inn run by a relative newcomer who confirms some of the things we've heard, then scatter to see what can be stirred up. Head to the general store, but it's shuttered and locked. much banging finally brings the owner, a half-elf who says she has nothing to sell. Pointing out the packed shelves, she relents and opens for business. A great deal of talking is needed before she speaks of the problems, saying we should talk to a rancher who lives outside of town. Thank the lady for her help and depart to find the rest, before swanning off into the wilderness. As if on cue, spot Lugh at full speed, tightening his armor. Not wanting to miss a fight, we follow his lead. He rushes into an herbalist's, and I notice others arriving from different directions. Maybe we have been together a long time, little scary if you think about it. Down a hall to a blank wall; Nina says illusion, just run through. Trust her in everything, but can't stop the flinch as I barrel into a bloody brawl. Of course, Lugh and HUGE are at the center, flanked by a few usual demons and a succubus(again, can't swing a dead cat.....). Disturbing is seeing Vex standing next to it with all his best stuff around his feet. And he isn't hurting anything. Nina's spells and my blade(note to self: IF we ever get back to Magnimar, get that enchanter a bonus. While it always disliked goblins and such, this blade truly detests demons!) put down the evil and reclaim Vex. Guess this must be part of the prophesy, in cahoots with the witch. The guy bleeding on the floor is apparently captain of the guard, been spooning with the succ. Speaking of blood, somebody should wrap up the big guys; looks like they went twelve rounds with a blade barrier.
Welcome to sunny Fort Donner, leave your spleen at the gate!
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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We returned the halfling back to the logging camp and rested one more night before our return trip to Sandpoint. I was rather happy that we had decided to stay the evening since it meant one more day in the wilds. I enjoy the quiet of Sandpoint compared to the noise and crowds of Magnimar. Magnimar will always be home for me and I would consider staying in Sandpoint but at this time I prefer the wilds of Varisia to it all.
The next day we began our trek back to Sandpoint and I was surprised to notice an oddity near the entrance to the kobold warren as we passed by. Sitting on a rock was what appeared to be, in all ghost story description, an actual ghost. Everyone passed it by without noticing it and the ghost looked at me when it realized that I was the only one staring at it. I wasn’t fearful of the creature, in fact it was the opposite. There was a sort of calm that the ghost emanated. Then it bowed its head and greeted me by my name and with a smile said it was amazed that in all things I was always with the same people no matter the time. I got the impression he wasn’t being literal with that statement but was offering a more profound observation that I didn’t quite understand.
“How do you know my name?” I replied.
“I have always known you Birgun, and I have always known your friends. You have had many names and I know them all. Throughout time you and your friends are always drawn together and seem to overcome whatever the cosmos can throw at you.” And with a quick look at Vex, “Except him, he’s ... new.”
By now the others had stopped and were trying to figure out who I was talking to. I could hear Kelyn mutter something about getting hit on the head again. Lugh asked if anyone knew if I had slept under another tree and had woken suddenly. Nina though confirmed that I was talking with ... something.
“I am Treyvor Lee and I think it best that I should reveal myself to the others.”
I turned my head slightly in the direction of the others and told them to not be alarmed but someone was going to appear.
Slowly fading into existence, Treyvor appeared on the rock as I had been seeing him the whole time. Along with a rather large coach wagon pulled by several steeds. There were even two steeds tied to the rear of the wagon and all of them, including the wagon, had that same shadowy appearance.
Treyvor greeted everyone by their names and by their “other” name. A name he described as being a name we had all used in a prior time. The oddity was that the name sounded correct and comfortable. If a name could be comfortable.
He said that he needed our assistance far in the north and that he would give a more accurate and detailed description on the way. When we hesitated he explained that an evil was growing in the north and it was important for us to correct the problem. No matter how much I tried I could sense no lie or malice in his words. Because of the distance it was important for us to either ride on or in the coach or to ride one of the two steeds. Kelyn and Nina were the first to board the coach and eventually everyone got in. While Macer mounted one of the steeds I moved up to the drivers seat of the coach. I was somewhat surprised when it began to move without any direction from a driver. I also noticed that the scenery was rapidly becoming a blur and even though the ride on the wagon wasn’t terribly long, exhaustion seemed to come on rapidly and I found myself drifting off to sleep at times.
When I and the others were awake he explained of a town in the north called Fort Donner and that it had been a town that saw repeated attacks from a great white dragon whenever the populace of the town grew to a certain size. A few years ago a group of adventurers had arrived and slain the dragon prompting the town to gain a level of prosperity it had never known. Then an evil in the woods near the town began to grow and reports of attacks on those that used the forest for timber or resources. There was even a prophet telling the local people that a group of adventurers would arrive with intentions to destroy the evil but would end up releasing an even greater evil upon the town. Treyvor could say no more but described the situation as dire and that we were needed. He also spent time talking with each of us in turn and told fantastic tales of our “other selfs” and the deeds we had done. I couldn’t decide if the stories were just that, stories, or if they were true. The idea of it was beyond my ability to reason but at no time did I shake my head and roll my eyes. The felt ... genuine.
We eventually arrived in a field just outside a small town and Treyvor informed us that we had arrived at our destination. As we disembarked he smiled and wished us luck and then disappeared. Looking around I could see a mountain range far to the west which ran north and south. It was then that I realized I was looking at the Tusk mountains which I had seen to my east when I had met with Arypp on my return trek to Magnimar after having left Kalsgard. “I think we are in the Shudderwood, which is in northern Ustalev. We are more than 800 miles from Sandpoint!” My family had a very extensive map collection and I spent a great many evenings looking over the maps when I lived in Kalsgard. I would imagine all the great and wonderful places I wanted to travel to and see. Everyone just stood there looking about with their mouths agape. Kelyn was the first to break the silence by proclaiming, “Now THAT is how you travel!” Which brought about laughter from the rest of us.
When we arrived in the town, most of the population seemed fearful of us. Many of them would enter into their homes and close the doors behind them. They would shutter the windows and the obvious signs of bars sliding into place behind doors was prevalent. I had heard that Ustalavites were wary of outsiders but this prophet definitely had them fearful of us as a whole. The only person that would initially talk with us was an innkeeper where we decided to get rooms. He let us know that this prophet or oracle was an old dwarf woman that was rumored to be a witch. He shrugged when we pressed the validity of the statement. “Shes an old dwarf, all I know.”
At this point we all split up to wander the town and look for anything odd, beyond the townsfolk being rather shy. The only thing I noted was that the walls of the fort didn’t have enough men and the gate had none. For a military structure of this size there should be more. Thats when I heard the terrified screams of some man running down the street. All I could understand was “Demons in my alchemy shop!” So I told him to head to the inn and get the newcomers and I ran down the street towards the alchemists store. Along the way I issued a few spells of empowerment, one of which gave me a more bear like face and allowed for me to knock people aside easier. As I entered into the shop I caught another of the female winged demons, Vex, some warrior and three smaller demons walking towards what appeared to be a cave wall.
I yelled out a challenge fearing they had captured Vex and was surprised when they walked right through the wall. Some sort of magic concealed a passage and so I charged through hoping to not meet an actual cave wall. Thankfully I didn’t but they had prepared for my arrival and I soon found myself beset by all of them. Except the succubus. Instead she ordered Vex to show her the contents of his pockets and pouches. So he did. Some sort of magic had controlled Vex and I could tell he was covered in deep wounds. The cause of those wounds became apparent when the warrior turned his attention on me and hit me with his sword with incredible strength. As I rallied my wits to engage the man he seemed to turn my blows to the side or parry them with his sword and shield. I also noticed at this time that he was dressed in a heraldry that mirrored the flags outside. I could only imagine that he too was controlled by the succubus. I only managed to hit the man once with my greatsword and he weathered that attack well.
It was then I heard the others arriving so the shopkeeper succeeded in getting the others. Using this distraction, I overran the man catching him off-guard and knocking him on his ass. Even on his back he managed another telling blow but not before Kelyn stepped up and knocked the man unconscious. As I turned around only the succubus remained and she began to run and I tried to cut off her escape, missing by inches as she avoided the clumsy attack made by me through blood soaked eyes. The other though took out their vengeance on her and managed to kill her a few seconds later.
No sooner had her corpse hit the floor than Vex seemed to shake off the magics keeping him in a fog. So I quickly cast a small curative magic spell on the warrior after kicking his sword to the side. Groggily his eyes opened up and he looked as confused as Vex did angry.
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We were happy to be free of the kobold caves, and to have rested in the peace, comfort and hospitality the swarthy logging camp provided. After my early dawnwalk we broke our fast and left the tree fellers on good terms making our way to Sandpoint when Kelyn halted our progress out of concern for Birgun. He was engaged in conversation with a rock…..odd you ask…..well mildly, but one must remember his affinity with nature, which suits him for two reasons. The first is since he is not of elf blood and has no reason to fear the wild, and the second is… while he is a brutish meaty ruffian, nature takes the edge from his demeanor leaving mostly the meaty part. His old ways have their place and are just as relevant today as those of Cayden Cailean. However it quickly became apparent the he was not conversing with nature, in fact he was speaking with a spirit! I could not recall so in keeping with the old ways I inquired whether he had slept beneath an OLD tree when Birgun announced the spirit would make himself visible if we desired. Taking a knee, placing my spear upon the ground, I reached for my anointed mace while concealing the transaction with my shield.
As the spirit manifested I could discern no ill intent from its form, nor deceit from its tongue or action. He seemed mostly…benign and wove an interesting tale concerning our band being a timeless troupe of eternal misfits always together as a group with different names, but always together, performing the righteous acts protecting those unable or unwilling to do so themselves. He went on to explain a peril of our age had emerged to the distant northern reaches in a wilderness settlement once ravaged by a dragon now set upon by an evil dwarven witch with a “prophecy” foretelling our arrival and destruction of the settlement in our attempt to cleanse the evil from it. Manifest with him was a great coach and horses both drawing the coach and for riding. Without reluctance or knowledge of our destination everyone piled into the coach save Macer…the ever stalwart cavalier. He chose horseback and off we went. Though much of the journey was spent in slumber I was graced with short periods of lucidity where I spoke to the spirit Treyvor Lee and listened to his tales of our past lives, watching the world pass by in rapidity and catching fleeting glances of country side between naps. At mid-morning, at what seemed like the following day, actually four days later, we arrived at Fort Donner. The name gave me pause for reasons unknown but it was no place of comfort to me at first sight. Then as we stood in the copse of trees overlooking the town I had a divine vision of our group backed by our respective deities standing in our shadows as if to show their support in this undertaking and my discomfort lifted. Treyvor’s liege was none I had heard of but bore no ill will and supported our endeavor. The local folk were wary of us upon arrival and on sight tucked themselves away as we passed by. We took up residence at the Inn and found everyone was already aware of the prophecy and saw their doom in our arrival.
After securing lodging we scattered about town to learn what we could of recent developments. I took it upon myself to patronize the local alehouse finding the barkeep and a halfing. I leaned the halfing was a new arrival with hopes of landing business prospects since the demise of the dragon. However a bad turn of luck had come with the recent evil “CURSE” . The barkeep was aware of the prophecy and confirmed the suspicion that the townsfolk were worried about our arrival. On my return to the Inn I was stopped by a curious uniformed creature. A member of the guard who seemed to be seeking out help for the community with all sincerity hailed and bad I listen to his tale of the Fort's plight. An odd otherworldly type but forthright in his concern so I gave him an ear. A private in the town guard he explained the presence of strange folk influencing people into making bad decisions. He explained the reduction of the town guards and his mistrust of their command and elders of the Fort community.
No sooner than he finished Birgun steamed past at a healthy gate calling for aid. Then close behind lumbered Macer in his heavy armor. I took my leave and quickly passed Macer into the herbalist shoppe where the sounds of combat were evident. I found my way to the melee through the building and an illusory wall, bursting into a scene dominated with demonic presence. Once again lead by a succubus, a disturbing recurring theme in our travels to date. Quickly and to my surprise more of our group was at hand grieving the demon horde with extreme prejudice…..with Macer encased in his armor followed by Atz and his adroit quick feet. The demons dealt heavy blows while the succubus attempted the now familiar tactic of mental control which it seems had worked on Vex. He was busy emptying the contents of his collected bags to include our fair gained loot. I was a target of the mind control but thankfully Sarenrae blocked it. There was absolute carnage when the battles concluded save for the Captain of the Guard. I preferred him clamped in irons until we were ready to have words with him. I think he like our clergy woman in Magnimar had succumbed to the demoness’ powers and wiles and once atoned would again fight for the righteous cause. Maybe even with a renewed vigor as men of a disgraced martial company usually do. The Gods know we could use that strong arm as evidenced by Huge’s state of disrepair! For that matter I had some sore, deep burning wounds leaking too. Looking no less battered I took a knee and peaked at them….I would live. Giving the sight the once over I felt quite satisfied I had comported myself with honor and glory with the spear and shield in the radiance of Sarenrae. This was the fury of the Sun, the truth of Light, and the point of my father’s spear. I made sure everyone was celebrated in their full measure in this days deed.
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I had a divine vision of our group backed by our respective deities standing in our shadows as if to show their support in this undertaking
Very good and close to the truth. Your respective deities were actually both placing each of you as their proxy and more to the point into another's care. Such alliances are rare and accepted with great honner and with great caution.
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My vision finally returned ... just in time to see Birgun having a conversation with the empty air by the side of the road. What the???
Birgun then warned us that a spirit would appear and speak with us. It did!
It spoke of a history with all of us and that we had changed our appearance but were at heart the same band that had been together through history. I had no idea what this meant, considering that our group had all been friends since we were children.
The apparition told us of a great need for our group to come back together and travel with him to a town far to the North that needed our help. Upon saying this, a ghostly carriage and extra horses appeared at the edge of the road.
His incredible story seemed to appeal to all of us. I found myself looking at the others carefully, trying to remember them from some other form in the distant past. While I found no immediate recognition, the feeling that we were destined to be together seemed to ring true. I thought back to the miraculous timing of my friends appearing in Magnimar within hours of the same time after being gone for years. Maybe something more than luck was guiding us in our adventure?
We eventually agreed to travel with him to the town. Most of the group climbed aboard the oversized coach, while I chose to ride one of the spectral horses. We were soon off on our way, traveling through what could only be some other dimension as the outside world seemed to bend around us as we moved unnaturally through it. Our rapid pace continued and the surroundings became a foggy blur. I found myself dozing in the saddle and completely lost track of time.
I awoke as our pace slowed and we found ourselves emerging on the outskirts of Fort Donner. A normal trip would have taken us weeks, but we somehow had arrived much faster with the spectral coach.
We said farewell to the spectre, and made our way into town, stopping to secure rooms at an inn. We then split up to gather more information and planned to meet later that day to discuss our options. I went directly to the barracks that housed the local guard.
I'm used to the camaraderie that those in military service shared, but was shocked to see that it was completely missing here. A few disinterested individuals told me the captain was missing and that I could wait to talk to the lieutenant in his place. The lieutenant proved to be an unlikeable fellow who told me our "help" wasn't needed here. I persisted in questioning him until he finally agreed to meet me on the road outside of town this evening to show me the problems in person.
I left him then and went to tell the others of this dubious arrangement. It smelled like a trap to me!
On the way back to the inn, I heard yelling in the distance and saw Birgun running into a side street, calling for help. I followed him as quickly as possible while being slowed by my full suit of armor. (Cavaliers have horses for a reason, but mine was still back in Sandpoint!)
I saw Lugh and others also running to follow Birgun as he entered an herbalist shop. I continued to run and entered the doorway later after several of the others. I heard the sounds of combat and moved down a hall through an illusionary wall to find the group in combat with yet more demons. What is going on??!!!
I jumped into the fray, faring much better this time with my restored vision and ensorcelled iron weapon that stripped the unnatural protections from the demons.
The combat was short and vicious (oh wait, that was Vex!). Poor Vex was controlled by one of the demons and compelled to stand uselessly during the combat. We finished off the demons, and were left with an injured, armored fighter who turned out to be the missing captain of the guard.
Something is definitely rotten here!
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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Thankfully between Atz’s wand and a few of my spells I was able to fix a majority of the cuts inflicted on my body by controlled captain and the other creatures. With that done, Vex was preparing his illustration book and was prepping the body of the succubus for an intimate dissection. While the others questioned the captain who doesn’t recall much since the arrival of the “sole survivor,” I decided to wander town and use my talent at seeing what was truly there. The towns folk continued their behavior of closing doors and peeking out from behind curtains at my approach. At first I thought it was because of this witches prophecy but then I realized that wasn’t wholly the problem when I caught my reflection in a pane of glass. I was still covered in blood from the fight. With that realization I returned to the White Dragon Inn and took a bath. Then spent the next few hours cleaning my armor while discussing our next move with the others.
The captain had come with us and Lugh had kept him in manacles until he was sure of innocence. As a sign of respect he kept the manacles hidden under a cloak. We decided to follow up with a lead that Macer had gotten when the guard lieutenant he met with offered to tell him everything this evening on the road outside of town. Once the captain confirmed there was no lieutenant with that name or description he could remember it was apparent that the ruse was to get Macer out of town to remove him quietly.
We decided to go in force with a majority of the others sneaking out earlier and finding places of hiding along the road while Macer, Sam, the captain and I would walk up the main road. More than likely word about the arrival of strangers would have made the fictional lieutenants ears so we used Macer and the captain as bait. Lugh had removed his manacles but asked that we not put any curative magics on the captain yet. Atz and I agreed not to do so, although on my end, I didn’t have much left to give. Sam walked with us but was invisible and I went shifted into the form of one of the mastiffs I had seen some of families in Magnimar use as guard dogs.
Using a sunrod as our source of light we walked about a mile or so out of town when we came upon several crates and barrels scattered on the road. A cursory look at them showed them to contain supplies from the guardhouse. Weapons, armors and the like. Even the captain muttered quietly under his breath that they were supplies from the garrison.
As we moved further down the road I heard a voice yell out “I didn’t think you were going to bring a friend and your dog.” Looking down the road we saw a half elf dressed in the uniform of the guards.
Macer replied, “He’s my squire and well . . . its my dog.”
“Well, someone has been stealing our supplies and had left them on the road here. I was hiding back here hoping to catch them when they came to pick them up. You should come back here and hide with me.” the lieutenant said.
I knew that idea was folly and to help make sure we didn’t wander back into what was obviously an ambush I moved forward a small ways and jumped up on top of one of the large crates and laid down. Trying to act disinterested in the half elf while looking for the others. I could only hope they were there since I had no idea what sort of ambush this man had planned. Looking back I shifted my sight so that I could see if he was a demon and was surprised when instead I saw a gaunt looking man with intensely blue eyes. I shudder ran down my spine and I was left thinking he closely resembled Oona’s father.
By this time Macer had moved back and was moving to hide behind some barrels near me when the lieutenant forcefully asked for Macer to move back and hide with him. I growled at the idea, but Macer paused then said he was good where he was.
“Too bad,” the lieutenant said. “We’ll have to do it the hard way.”
Then two humans and four dwarves stepped out from behind barrels near the lieutenant and fired their heavy crossbows. All of them were directed at Macer and only one bypassed his armor, sticking into his shoulder. Thats also when I heard movement in the grass off the road and saw Lugh leap up from his hiding spot and begin sprinting to the side of the road. As I shifted into my normal form I yelled out to the others that I could now see moving up in support that the lieutenant wasn’t what he appeared to be. Also because I wasn’t exactly sure what he was.
As I strode forward I prepared by transforming my skin into iron and greatly enhanced my strength. At the same time Sam once again increased my size through his magics and I moved up to engage all the archers. Before I could reach them a web seemed to encase them all and prevented me from getting to them. Which was fine as the real challenge would be the lieutenant that was now attacking Lugh. Using a tactic Lugh and I had been practicing when sparring I maneuvered myself to guarantee one of us was always in his blind spot making it difficult for his escape and making our attacks more deadly. With Vex diving in and around the dancing form of Lugh and I we made short work of him. Even Lugh was given the magics that increased his size, although he didn’t look as comfortable in that form as Macer and I did.
When the killing blow landed from my greatsword he turned into a fine green vapor and began to float away, against the breeze. Vex and I gave chase while the others finished off the dwarves and humans. There were even a pair of dire boars hidden in the supplies and were being used by the humans as a rather dangerous mount. I was surprised to see them as I had only ever seen a normal boar. I may practice shifting into that form in the future. I imagine Atz would love riding on my back in that form letting loose that staff sling of his.
Vex and I followed him back to and through the town. The vapor moved to a dockside warehouse near the river where it disappeared under the floorboards. Using my crowbar, I pulled the boards free and waited for Lugh to arrive before we pulled the lid off the coffin and permanently ended the lieutenants existence. Today had been a very interesting, informative and enjoyable day.
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Wet clean-up in aisle five!
Took a while to separate the combatants into piles of good, bad, and undecided. Atz weighed in to patch up our big guys, and the "captain" was looked over. He remains manacled as some aren't warming up to his story. As for the bad pile, Vex has staked out a piece of floor and begun his studies. Surrounded by his tools, Vex is carefully dismembering the succ, filling his book with extensive notes and drawings. That is one driven, mid-functioning sociopath; having trouble finishing up as I keep stopping and shivering.
Some interesting items are collected, the thing had good gear. There is a good bit of spirited conversation over some amazing items, but will have to wait as they take time to attune. I'm allowed a ring that makes me a bit bouncy(er), probably to cut down on the amount of viscera post-battle; works for me! Soon as he was mostly intact, HUGE rushed out with his truesight to find how many more townfolk were actually demons. Returned later, somewhat dejected, to report he had found no others. Lugh continued to cross-examine the captain and we moved to the front of the shop to lay low and miss out on the rest of the biology lesson. The group decides to wait till evening, then all go out to make Macer's meeting with the guard LT. Should be interesting as the captain says he never had an LT.
At dusk, the quieter of us lead out to scout and counter a possible ambush Macer might happen into. Find a mixed bunch of men and dwarves off-loading wagons in the middle of the road, then soldiers drive wagons back to town. The LT talks to the remaining and has them take cover behind some piles(what is that awful smell?). Later, a light shows as Macer, a cloaked figure, and a dog(?) approach. Macer and the LT exchange pleasantries, the man sure has the gift of gab. Things get heated, spells are thrown, everyone got tired talking. Those hiding near the LT step out with crossbows and use Macer as a target. We crash through the brush as the dog goes HUGE and gets HUGER, Macer clanking in his wake. Nina dropped a large pile of goo on the opposition to slow them down, but they don't seem too put out(may have stepped in the deep end, here). HUGER yells that the LT isn't; not sure what, just be careful. The BIG guys move to that side as the rest work over the men, dwarves, and boars(?) that guys are trying to ride. Guess you do what you can for entertainment out here in the boonies. Swordplay, spells, and gunfire ring through the clearing; a lively battle for the books. Again, I quietly thank the mage who enchanted my blade; the elegant blade slides into a foe and transforms into a rabid badger with a toothache. REAL happy to be on the handle end of this equipment. A hard strike ends the LT, who turns to smoke(?) and floats down the road. Vex, HUGER, and others pursue while we finish off the riff-raff and examine the site. The captain doesn't recognize the attackers, but all the stuff on the road is from the fort; some of it is his personal gear. Others return with trophies and a story of finding a casket under an old shack and ending the Vampire just getting back to it.
How is it we keep ending up in these places forsaken by Good and beset by all manner of Evil? And if it isn't too much trouble, could someone put Ghost Touch on my boot so I can plant it somewhere sensitive in a certain coach-driving spirit?
Felu and I arrived at the herbalist's shop just after the fight ended. For a wonder, the big guys had actually taken someone prisoner instead of just slaughtering everyone outright; though when I saw the bodies I marveled at their restraint. A succubus and several bone devils? That is simply not right. Just what is going on in this town?
The prisoner turned out to be the captain of the guard, who had been under the succubus' thrall for some time. Remarkable stamina I must say. He had some good intelligence for us, and we determined that the "meeting" Macer had scheduled with the "lieutenant" was to be an ambush. Felu and the sneakier fellows headed out early to set up an ambush for the ambush; while Huge, the captain and I elected to accompany Macer. Huge shapeshifted into a large dog, and I drank a potion of invisibility just before we got to the meeting place.
There was a little banter, and then several humans and dwarves stepped from cover and shot crossbows at Macer. I responded with a new spell that one of the humans shrugged off, then I made Huge huger as he headed into melee. Our teammates came in from both flanks, and the fight was on. My offensive spells didn't seem to do much, so I contented myself with adding size and weight to my companions who could benefit from suc things. Note- Vex, Kelynn, Nina and Felu are RIGHT OUT for that treatment, I have been well informed.
I was too far away to get a good look, but it turned out that the "lieutenant" was really a vampire. Good thing Oona had taken the night off.
I suppose today turned out alright after all.
After I returned my deposited items to their proper places, I prepared my anatomy book and multiple writing utensils as well a couple of ink-pots, one black and one a slightly darker black for contrast.
I was given a few hours to go about my work before we had to help Macer in what was an obvious set-up with some lieutenant. Sam stayed behind to observe me. I heard him tell the others he was worried about my behavior in this instance, however, I think he is as curious as I am in this matter, perhaps more so. I mean the tattoos that "appear" on his person are not what you would call angelic, they are quite the opposite.
Perhaps half an hour or so before the meeting, Lugh, Felu, Atz, and I set up a counter-ambush on the road. We watched some humans and dwarves unload some supplies and leave it strewn about the road in barrels and what not. When Macer, the captain of the guard and Huge the dog showed up the lieutenant seamed rather upset at the number of people and the fight was on rather quickly.
Turned out the LT was actually a vampire, he seamed as vulnerable to my knives as any other human though, just didn't re-die the same. It turned into a puff of smoke and flowed in a very direct route to a little dock house and we found a coffin under the floorboards with the vampire unconscious inside. Lugh said we would be able to kill it for good and proceeded to drive a wooden stake into its heart.
I am curious to know how becoming a vampire would change one's physiology but Lugh told me to leave the body alone... I guess my book's getting a little full so I'll let it be for now. But they're undead, do they still feel pain? Do they really suck the blood of their victims? This one bled, but it wasn't the same as a live human, it was a slow run like there wasn't any pressure. Do they still breathe? I have dozens of questions now. I suppose I'll get another chance to study one in the future, but this one's here right now... I'm sure Oona would be happy to help me find answers to these questions.
With the Captain in irons we returned to the inn Captain cloaked and hooded. There we spoke of what he knew, remembered and informed him of the state of the community. He seemed out of sorts but honest. We took a meal and decided to assist in thwarting the suspected ambush on the road Macer had scheduled for early evening. All but Macer, Huge, and the Captain, unshackled, unarmed and without healing left early to attempt to sneak into position before the ambush was set. They were to arrive at the appointed time.
Vex and I took one side of the rode leaving the rest on the opposite side. We finally happened upon a scene of dwarves, humans with one dressed as an Officer of the Guard. they were removing barrels and crates from a wagon and stacking them in the roadway. two nasty boars were penned up in a wood pile on either side of the road. The wagon left and we waited for our friends to keep their date. Shortly after dark they arrived. Macer was quick to answer the Lieutenants questions, and the Lieutenant showed a true gift and art of deception. Knowing full well the plan for ambush I think our counter attack was a complete surprise with spell flash and weapon reports I raced to gain an equal measure along the road. I burst from the bush, greeted by an arrow. Vex was at my side blades in hand. the first human lay in pain as the Lieutenant changed into a vampire. Huge was right, he had noticed it even before he had changed, and call it out for all to hear!? He thrust his hand to my chest releasing a painful cold burst of foul energy. My armors enchantment soaked all by a pittance, but that small amount convinced me all the more how much I did not wish to experience it again.
Oonas father and Epher...mostly Epher was the face I saw upon him. More pain was to come but none in the manner of the first attack. Myself, Vex and Huge maneuvered for advantageous positions with the quick undead beast. Between us we cut, stabbed and cleaved it into mist form in decent order. Some gave chase as it drifted away while others finished the rest of his band. None seemed interested in surrender so we obliged them. The wisp- o-vampire was tracked to a river boat house floor. the bords were pulled away and an anointed wooden stake was hammered through its heart and the head removed. Returning to the road we gathered the bits of interest where I learned that the items in the barrels and crates were the property of the Guards and the Captain. Some how I feel this was just another disjointed happenstance having little to nothing to do with why we are here...and more such oddities still exist. This could take a while!
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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I managed to find a key inside the coffin after Lugh had driven a heavy wooden stake through the creatures heart and before he took its head off. When I gave him the questioning look as to why he felt it necessary to defile the corpse further he explained it was the only way to ensure it stayed dead. Looking back at the vampire I couldn’t imagine it surviving anything after the stake but Lugh is the expert here.
As I looked over the key I noticed three numbers, probably a street address, and a crest. The crest immediately struck a chord in my memory. Needing to focus I sat on the dock for a few minutes thinking before it came to me. This was a crest for a family in the city of Ardis in the Ardeal province of Ustalav. The extensive map collection of my family that I had spent evenings looking over was coming of use. Satisfied with that knowledge I gave the key to Kelyn since he has always been our resident locksmith, whether he wanted to be one or not.
We retired back to the White Dragon Inn after the evenings fracas and I slept like a log. The next morning over a hearty breakfast the group talked about what was next and it was decided that the dwarven crone who was spreading the rumors needed to be dealt with. Killing an old woman wasn’t something I was willing to do, but intimidating the dwarf to turn her neck beard hairs white was something I could do easily enough.
Using the crude map we had found on the succubus and the information gained by some of the others when talking with those in the town that would talk with us, we knew we had a pretty good hike in front of us. So I went up and woke Sam and Felu up since they loved to sleep in and told them to get ready as the group was leaving for a long hike. I heard Sam mumble something but Felu said they’d be down soon. By mid-morning we were heading out of town and into the foothills.
We arrived at a rather large stone and wood cabin in the lower mountains near the old dragon lair. Not that I saw some cave, it was just rumored to be somewhere in the area around here as far as I knew. There was only a animal skin covering the door into the cabin and there were no windows. Bringing up a light spell on the pommel of my greatsword I pulled aside the skin and moved inside after announcing myself.
A grating old voice beckoned me inside and the rest of the group followed me in to see an old dwarven woman sitting in a rocking chair. In a very stern and outraged voice I yelled, “Are you the old woman that is spreading the rumors of our arrival?” She visibly blanched a little and had some sort of seizure and began wailing. After a few seconds it stopped and she apologized for saying what she had foretold but asked me to come in the back room to see why she had said what she said.
She moved further into the cabin disappearing behind another animal skin flap in the only other doorway in the room. When I moved it aside to follow I didn’t see an old woman anywhere, instead I saw two men with bows drawn. Before I could issue a warning and move I was hit with multiple arrows. The hallway had several rooms off of it and arrows came from behind skins that were momentarily drawn aside. I staggered back a few steps, the multiple arrows that pierced my body was all the warning the group needed as they ran past to engage the archers.
My vision began to swim and I knew that I had to get out of the hallway if more arrows were to come. Kelyn had moved past me and pulled aside one of the skins and stabbed at one of the men who had fired an arrow at me. I lowered my shoulder and pushed past Kelyn overrunning the surprised man in the doorway and knocking him down. There was only one other man in the room and much like the man on the floor was surprised to see me. As Kelyn finished the man on the floor I cast a quick curative spell on myself so that I wouldn’t collapse. Thats when the other man stepped back and fired another arrow into my chest.
“You son of a b#%%$! Now you die!” I screamed as I drew my greatsword and cut the man in half from shoulder to groin. The shower of blood from that wound covered not only me but the ceiling and floor of the room. Once that was done I moved out into the hall just in time for a loud concussive thunderclap which knocked me unconscious. I awoke a few seconds later with Atz’s face once again looking down on me. A quick thanks and I stood to see that the others were engaged with an ogre and the old crone who looked rather pleased that her spell had almost killed me. Well, NOW killing an old woman was worth my time and I stepped up and took her head from her shoulders with one great swing of the sword. The ogre screamed in anger at what I had done and I screamed back, “You’re next!”
Stepping forward I once again delivered a massive strike with my greatsword but the ogre was just to thick or in a blood haze himself because he didn’t fall and instead hit me harder than anything ever has. I awoke to Atz once again looking down on me. “Seriously, you gotta stop doing this.” Atz said. I grinned at that statement. I imagine the stark contrast of my white teeth and my blood soaked body was a interesting sight. “I’ll try.” I replied.
We then spent the next few minutes looking over the place. Turns out the back of the cabin had a secret panel that moved aside and led into the mountain. Thats where we had fought the ogre. In the cave were the remains of several dead adventurers. Others who had probably come up to find out why there was a crone offering a prophecy of their actions. We also found some information about a portal being opened in the old dragons lair and a map to get there. It would seem this is what Treyvor had sent us here to solve. We spent the remainder of the evening burying the dead after having healed ourselves.
Lugh returned from his dawn walk prayers to inform us that he had been given a vision from Sarenrae. This portal or where we would go would mean we would be leaving our gods behind and instead have to pull from the chaotic nature of Treyvor’s god. Magic would also not work in the same way as Nina would expect which would cause her to have problems. Well, I’m always up for a good fight and I imagine that Gorum wouldn’t mind my pulling from a different god as long as I was in fact fighting. Regardless, I would pray on that the following morning as I had already done my morning meditations in the forest.
With this rumination we decided to call upon Treyvor and see if he would help us return to Magnimar. We had been gone a long time and were wanting to sell a lot of the gear we had found and use its money to purchase gear we wanted. With that done we could return and complete our task of helping Treyvor. He agreed and once again we used the phantasmal coach to return in short time to Magnimar. As it turns out, we had only been gone less than a week. Which was wrong since we had been gone much longer. Chaos magic is...chaotic.
Sam, Felu, Vex and Macer took all our loot to the Bazaar of Sails and moved the gear into capital that they then gave out in equal shares to everyone later that evening. I spent the day spinning the yarn of a tale to not only my mother and sister, but to my father, uncle and cousin. They had arrived a few days earlier and had planned on staying the month for business and to visit. My family laughed at the stories and seemed to discount the ideas until Sam had arrived with a chest of gold, platinum, and gems as ‘my share’ of the loot.
Kriger the White, my cousin, gave me that mischievous smile and said, “You know, I’ve raided a lot for a lot less wealth.” To which my mother said, “Not in this house you don’t Kriger,” and smacked his hand with a large wooden spoon. I then took the family out for a nice dinner and was forced to pay for it all since I had the obvious wealth.
The next day in my meditations to Gorum I suddenly became awash with the sensation of earth and heat. As if I was suddenly in a natural cave with a forge. When I opened my eyes I was unable to tell if that was true. I could have been standing in a giant iron box for all I could tell as my vision was blurred. I could see fine but if I tried to focus on any one thing it would only become more blurry. Thats when I heard what could only be The Lord in Iron’s voice. It rang as loud as a giant iron bell with the sharpness of a thousand thousand swords as it pierced my thoughts and ears. In the end I don’t know what it said as the pain was to great but I was left with an impression that I was sent by Gorum to complete this task for someone or something. Gorum was unsure as to this beings motivations but would enjoy the retribution He would give should the being cross Him. I came out of my morning prayers in a cold sweat with Kriger looking on.
“Didn’t want to bother you while you ‘talked’ with your god.” Kriger said. “Is it me or is it always this warm in Magnimar?”
I suppressed a smile and asked him to come along with me as I went shopping. “I have a favor to ask of you Kriger. I need to train with you for as long as you are here or as long as I can, which ever comes first. The journey I am about to take is not going to be easy. It will on the other hand, be fun.” Kriger understood the importance of my request and agreed to help however he could, after all we are family.
I grabbed my armor and greatsword and returned once again to the magic shop I had frequented. The cat was waiting for me at the door when I entered and immediately began following me inside. The old wizard never looked up when I entered, instead laughing and saying “I knew it would be you Birgun, the cat had been standing at the door awaiting your arrival. What do you need from me this time?”
I explained that I needed for his assistance in magically enhancing the greatsword further and enchanting the spikes on the armor as well. As for the armor I asked for an enchantment that could help me should I fall in battle. After spending an hour pouring over tomes and explaining what he could do I gave him the required gold for his services without bartering. Half the contents of the chest were given to him as payment for the enchantments on the armor and weapons. I trusted his magics and our professional relationship had shown the trust I gave his talents, so to haggle would be rude.
With that done I took Kriger down to the Bazaar of Sails and found a belt that would enhance my natural strength even further and found a wand of curative magics as well. I also picked up a few potions to keep around for emergency situations as they would help against the mind control. With that done we stopped off at a bar and began laying out the plans for my training. It would involve several days of running, general strength and conditioning exercises as well as swimming and wrestling. I left word with Lugh and Macer at how long I would have to remain in Magnimar as my gear was being enchanted and told them to come by the house whenever they needed to get hold of me. The next day I began my training and for the next three weeks I went through calisthenic hell with Kriger as my personal coach and motivator.
I learned that Treyvor would return every four days until we were ready and would take us by coach once again to Ustalav. During this time Kiara also showed up. As it turns out she had been trying to track us down. She learned of our leaving of Sandpoint to find the lost children of the logging camp and had followed that lead to its conclusion with our disappearance after leaving the logging camp. Once again I had to tell the story and unlike my family Kiara believed every word, that or she was really good at hiding her amusement. Kiara even joined in on the training. I don’t think she expected the training to be that intensive since it relied heavily on strength and conditioning. Still it was enjoyable to have her along to share in the pain. Kriger definitely enjoyed watching her. We were almost done with the training when I remembered that we had to retrieve Hobart from Sandpoint and escort him home. Looks like a small pre-adventure was in the works.
Quick headcount to ensure everyone is accounted for and still has one. During all the spells and stitching, HUGE gives me a numbered key, says it bears a family crest from Aldis, the old capital. Another lead to track down later, first goal is to stagger back to town. Captain gets started reorganizing his troops while we have a bite and plan for the morning; "Get her!" seems to be the winner. Up early, break our fast, and it's off at the crack of mid-morning. A lengthy hike brings us to the mountain in the afternoon. The "shack" is a stone and wood block the size of the inn, but without useful things, like windows. A hide covers the only entrance, which HUGE brushes aside as he announces himself. We pile in behind as...Whoa! There's something you don't want to see on a full stomach..leads him through another covered arch. Thrum of bowstrings and thunk of arrows tell us that he found the totally unexpected ambush. That, and the large spray of gore. Group rushes in to break the U-shaped ambush(very tricky to pull off, friendly fire and all). I pull aside the curtain to HUGE's right and find a startled archer, which the badger precedes to maul. HUGE bulls through, flattens archer, and turns on another. I finish the first and he splits the other, so back to the hall. Confusing brawl; swinging blades, flashing spells, splashing gore, and a gods-awful roaring. Can't remember details of who slaughtered what, the large ogre that barged through his secret wall was sort of distracting. It kept laying people out with a flail, some harder than others; pretty sure some bright lights were seen during the fight. Kudos to Atz for being silly enough to dodge among the carnage and keep us in the fight. Much cursing and screaming later, the thing and its' minions were put down. None allowed themselves to be taken alive, but there should be enough here to figure something out.
As it was late in the day, we moved to the somewhat cleaner front area to patch up and take stock. Decided to pass the night here, and Vex got in some more professional time as the rest recovered. After his morning constitutional, Lugh informed us that his Lady told him of a portal to evil lands that had been opened nearby. Divine casters will have to count on the spirit's lord for their juice, and arcane magics will be "different"; Nina is not amused. Again, it's expected that we will jump in the lava, make it snappy! I'm all for the good fight, free the oppressed, death to tyrants; but this unseen presence behind me with its' well-meaning nudges is beginning to weird me out. Since the coach-spirit started this, we called him for some logistical support. Quick run to Magnimar for training and resupply, and some quality time with families before galavanting to other worlds(cue Eye of the Tiger)..
Dropped at the East Gate, we fan out through the city, moving loot and setting up markers. Meet with Odo and tell tales of the badger; he has suggestions to increase its' anger. He introduces me to a tiny man, all wrinkles the color of old parchment. Can't pronounce his name, he comes from Tian, across the globe. Showed his latest work, a belly-warmer. Length of blue silk, some chainmail, and solid enchantment. Protection, light weight, and a fashion statement; I'm in. Commissioned him to add wards against the undead to it and Nina's mithral, and we continued our blitz. Found a number of exquisite items, but as usual, they were humbled by the model. Ended up at Margrete's, where Nina and Mother joined her to discuss all manner of magics encountered in our travels, maybe find out about the "wild" magic that was hinted at. The talk quickly went over my head, so I excused myself and ensured the staff would make them eat and rest later, and headed for the docks. Had picked up a boat along the way, and hoped Lugh's father(and brothers) could knock the rust off my sailing ability. He promised long, hard days; the brothers' evil grins promised foul scut work. He wouldn't heart of payment for the instruction, but I managed deliver a large satchel of coin to his mother; still owe her for surviving childhood, and there always seems to be an amazing number of mouths to feed there.
A few weeks quickly passed, seeing others and hearing of progress. Someone finally remembered that Hobart was still in Sandpoint, and was probably getting ready to return. Those of us who could get away packed a few things and headed north. Hobart looks like a different man, got his color back getting around quite well. Said he was ready, had been bothering his daughter too long, but it still took several days to get moving. Surprise, most of it was spent at the Dragon; spinning tales and enjoying the good company. Still can't shake the feeling "something" is waiting, but it almost seems content here in the crowded inn. Finally managed our farewells; the mayor thanked us for the care of her father, but seems relieved to regain control of her home. A quiet trip back, with a stop at the rising inn, and Hobart was settled back into his estate. Might be my imagination, but the staff looks larger than before; it's probably nothing.
Checking around, it seems that most of the preparations are done. Just need to get in a few solid days of sleep and lounging around before everything explodes again(as usual).
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Sweetie, I think she is Hobart's niece and he's her uncle. Not daughter and father. But we get the picture. And Thanks for the complements.
It also seems the boy of the servant that came with us turned out to be quite the artisan glass worker. I think he'll be returning as soon as he gets his mother's permission. Amieko was very pleased with his ability and offered him a position at the Glass Works.
Hobart assures us that the Kaijitsu manner will still be there when we finish our business up North. It is good to see him feeling better. He is a good man and I told him I couldn't wait to return and have a big party at his place when we get back.
Hearing this he said why wait and he hosted a grand feast for us and all our families the night before our departure. Lugh's family, Birgun's (and there were a lot of them). One of Birgun's cousins made him look small, Kriger is his name. Kiara came with Birgun's family too. A bit bruised but looking very happy, probably still trying to stake a claim on Birgun. She is persistent, I'll give her that. The little time I had to talk with her I found out she had been a bit mad at Birgun but that it all worked out. What worked out? I thought but got caught up in another conversation with Felu.
Macer's family, Atz's, Kelyn's mom and Margrete, Sam and Felu, Vex, Oona and even Treyvor, our ghostly coach spirit, made an appearance that night (how, why) he seemed very solid the entire time he spent at the party. And it was he and Hobart laughing and talking in hushed tones that surprised me. I couldn't help but wonder what they were up to, maybe nothing but they did smile when ever I made eye contact with them. ummmmm
It was good to have this time together. Friends - All was right with the world that night.
I have no idea if Treyvor stayed with us at Deverin's but he was there at breakfast in the morning talking to Birgun. Sure eats a lot if he's a ghost. He did say he missed those kind of parties with us. I have no idea what he means.
It was a good party, reminded me of my childhood and how through those kind of parties a connection with Oona and Felu grew into a life long friendship.
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What a surprise. Nina turned a few nudges into a farewell event. I will admit it probably didn't take much to sell Hobart, the change has been amazing. The staff, even the house, seem brighter and happier, as if they had been waiting for the true Hobart to return. All turned out in their finest, the ladies truly sparkled. Often wrongly accused of bias, I know The Truth and was gifted with the fairest company.
Could hardly keep track of the extended families, but who would pass up a feed at one of the big houses on the hill? A great night of music, dance, stories, boasts, lies(redundant?); uncomfortable moments as certain lapses in seamanship were recounted, but most spent some time on the spit. Was surprised even the spirit was in attendance, especially as he looked material, in close conversation with our host. I expected to see Fujiko from next door, but forgot to check the library.
Many acquaintances were renewed, and several were made. They had a chance to catch up on each others lives and what their dumb kids had been doing. I hope the families can benefit as much from the friendship as we have. It was a great celebration, even Macer showed restraint by not getting plowed and causing another scene. I do wonder about the Kiara/HUGE thing; she keeps pitching 'em, but he keeps missing 'em. Will we be eleven for the coach tomorrow?
Well, Cayden willing and the Kraken doesn't rise, we should be on the road by noon at the latest!
Well, there was a fight at the crone's "shack". Hmph, that "shack" is bigger than some mansions I've been in. Lots of minions as well, but not what I would call properly appointed. Huge fell down at least twice (I really need to look into getting a backup wand of curing; Atz seems to have his hands full with this group).
After much discussion, we decided to return to Magnimar via the ghost-coach and re-equip for the upcoming ordeal. I was able to negotiate favorable terms for most of the treasure that we have accumulated, and discovered in the process that we seem to have come unstuck in time. By my figures, we arrived in Magnimar at the same time we were dealing with the logging camp north of Sandpoint. Strange.
At any rate, we came out with more money that could easily be carried, and even when split amongst the troupe the shares were more cash than I had ever seen in one place. We pretty much went our ways to try and spend it all in a reasonable period of time. After buying supplies, Felu and I had to retire to our room in order to complete my second Magical Tattoo project. Sixteen days of concentration, incantations, needlework, blood and pain; but in the end Felu has a truly lovely and elaborate tattoo around her waist. Is it wrong that I found myself enjoying the blood? Not the hurting of her, but just the sight and smell of the blood under my needles was sort of... arousing.
During that time, I had a recurring dream of my uncle Boris. I was distraught, and for some reason he was comforting me. Yes, the tyrant of my childhood and adolescence, the man who had his summoned devils flog me for my transgressions real or imagined seemed genuinely concerned with my well-being. He inquired after my health, my progress as a sorcerer, how the whole tattoo thing was coming along, was I satisfied with my chosen path... It was extremely odd and unnerving to me, such a shift in how I had viewed him for so many years.
The party at the Deverin estate took my mind off of it fortunately, but I can't shake an ominous sense of looming disaster, or the feeling that I'm being watched. Felu hasn't let on that she feels any such thing, thank goodness. Time to pack up and take the ghost-coach back up north...
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After a restful night in the White Dragon Inn, we decided to go to the “Hag’s shack” marked on a map we found on the succubus. It took about half a day to hike to this rather large shack nestled against the side of a mountain it was made of rough stone and logs; used a crudely tanned hide as a door and there were no windows into the place. Birgun was first to enter and as we followed in, a raspy voice claimed that we were the strangers from the prophecy. The voice came from what appeared to be an old dwarf woman sitting in a chair. I don’t precisely remember what Birgun said to her, but I certainly wouldn’t want him addressing me in that forceful tone. She cowered a little and asked us to follow her into the back and she would explain things. When Birgun made it to the doorway to follow her, he turned into a porcupine… only with arrows instead of quills… and they were pointy side in… and it looked really painful.
Well the following fight included eight bow-men, some sort of ogre, and the old dwarf turned out to be some kind of fey. It was yet another ambush scenario with Birgun, Macer and Lugh taking the brunt of the damage. I on the other hand was having far too much fun tumbling around people, and sticking them in important places, and I was rather pleased at the end since all of my blood was still safely stored within me.
A quick search around the shack resulted in the discovery of a portal a few days travel away, near the dead dragon’s lair. The portal has been opened, it leads to a very bad place, and I suppose we are going to shut it down. We decided to stay the night at the shack and start for the portal the next day. Well then Lugh was out doing his commune with his god the next morning and she explained to him that where we are going, the divine casters will be drawing from another entity(a god of chaos, Noculous or some such thing), and the arcane casters will have less predictable than normal results. She also hinted that we should prepare for some strong adversaries.
This is just me, but as I recall we were not 'hired' to do this job. We were commandeered by a ghost claiming to know us from a former lifetime. We are sitting in the middle of a country that we don’t really know and for the most part have been met with nothing but hostility both from the locals and all the crazy s&*^ out here trying to kill us. As far as I’m concerned we can walk away and this place can rot. We do, on the other hand, have a contract still out to remove vagrants (werewolves) from the Kaijitsu manor, oh, and return Hobart to Magnimar. It was decided that we take care of the portal first, I don’t like it, but I’ll be damned if they get to go kill demons without me. It was agreed that we try and get a hold of our ghosty buddy for a lift to a large town so we could take care of some lewts and gear up.
When I woke up from the carriage ride I was pleased to see we were in Magnimar. Shopping was then had by all; I found a few useful anti-outsider odds and ends as well as a much nicer belt, oh and a rock that’s supposed to bring me luck.
A group of us went to retrieve Hobart from Sandpoint during this time because some(Huge)one’s armor was going to take a month to get enchanted. Once I learned that I decided I could probably take the time and get my old trusty knife worked on as well. I just wanted it to get a little better but the wizard said the magic didn’t work right. He said that instead of the enchantment taking as it normally would, the knife ‘woke up’. Frankly I thought he was just trying to weasel me out of some gold. I’ve had the knife for years, it’s made from this greenish steel that heals itself if it gets chipped, but that doesn’t make it some sort of living creature. Well I got rather upset with him and was planning to storm out with my knife. Then I picked it up… it wasn’t words that filled my head but a feeling; a feeling of familiarity, and comfort. Then a short conversation of sorts took place between the dagger and me. It spoke through pictures and emotions in my mind, and I guess recent events have had a major impact on it because it kept bringing up demons, more specifically, demons getting killed. It more or less explained how it would be able to help me and protect me from some of the vile magic that demons use. This was rather pleasing to me especially since I know we are far from done with demons.
After a few minutes of conversation I realized that I was getting some rather odd looks as the rest of the customers just saw some crazy lizard having a one-way conversation with a dagger. I gave the wizard a “OK, I guess you were right but I’m not pleased about it and I’m not going to apologize” look, then paid him what was owed, and calmly left the store standing as tall as a three foot kobold can. I guess there’s a lesson in arguing magic with a wizard, “If you don’t study a subject, don’t argue it with those who do.”
Within the next few days as we were preparing to head back north, we were invited to a party/feast of sorts by Hobart. Everyone showed up. Even our, now significantly more substantial then he was before, ‘friend’ of a ghost, Treyvor. The meal and the company were thoroughly enjoyable, it was significantly more jovial than it was before we got Hobart cured. I did everything I could to slow time and savor the moment, for tomorrow we head back to that accursed country where maybe A SINGLE SOUL likes us and LITERALLY everyone else wants us gone or dead.
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Following the “ambush” we retired for the evening to the White Dragon Inn of Fort Donner. We set a plan for the reconnoiter of the dwarf witch shack from a rough sketched map the following day. I felt the Captain had redeemed himself or at the very least did not compromise our intent to confront the “Lieutenant” so I was comfortable with seeing to his wounds and rearming him. He may need to reassert himself as Captain of the Guard. After the arrangements were made I walked to the remains of the Desna Chapel, prayed for those lost in the fire, and for the renewed hope to come with the dawn. I realized they would need the same effort to rebuild here as I was attempting in Magnimar. I resolved to insure it was known so they could make the plans for replacements and facilities as appropriate.
Prior to my evenings repose I dwelt upon the scriptures and text concerning heresy, the occult and witchery. This was a difficult study as some witchcraft is benign, not unlike the old ways Birgun follows but the black practice is unlike the normal ways and is far more deceitful. The Doom Weaver we were to seek out could be a trial as yet experienced by our band. I only wished to be prepared. The next morning I strode into the dawn expressing my gratitude and praise. I returned to the Inn and after a quick meal we trotted off to the Witches shack.
Brevity was the course of action as I had entered the shack but briefly, spying the crone for a hand full of seconds as she led Birgun through a door way when he was suddenly stung by numerous hard hitting arrows. He turned from the doorway with a disgusted questioning look on his face. Oona and I charged to the opening and engaged two archers at the end of a hallway. Spells cascaded, reports from alchemical weapons assaulted the ears muffling the screams of an ogre that appear from a false wall further into the mountain to which the shack abutted. When all was finished some half score archers, the ogre warhulk, and the witch had been expunged from the living. No warning was offered, no chance to parlay, so no quarter was given or expected prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Searching the dwelling raised my ire exponentially! The remains of fellow travelers were found in the warhulks larder. One of whom was a Sarenite. I busied myself with their final rest with help from the others. After removing the prior victims for burial a sweep was made to collect the worth of this endeavor. To my surprise and sorrow a shield of Sarenrae was presented to me. It was a good and sturdy implement of battle. Sadly it had been unable to prevent its former wielder from mortal peril. I felt the need to search again. Through all the random belongings piled as if useless. I hoped to find his scriptures, to learn his identity, to read of his travels and gain the wisdom of his life. I had thought to deposit it with the new Magnimar Chapel but it seems the text was lost in its relative uselessness to a warhulk. We decided to stay in the shack for the night. There was much to consider, much to remember and more than enough to accomplish! I wrote the encounters in my text and looked at the figures and plans needed for supplies and construction materials and estimated the costs to renovate and open the old temple in Magnimar. I figured the cut I had earned on this foray into the world would go quite a long way to realizing my desire to return Sarenrae’s Light to Magnimar. I had visited all of her great temples and shrines in my early travels and instruction and can undoubtedly bring her house to life and order in no time given the availability, reliability and agree-ability of craftsmen and artisans to work at the site.
In the predawn dark I walked to the highest vantage to witness the arrival of the sun disc. As I asked for deliverance of the Sarenite and his companions, I presented the shield offering it up to Sarenrae to place in worthy hands as the disc approached the horizon. There, for the first time, I heard the voice of the divine. It was told the shield was now in my care. I was informed my friends and I were to seek out a portal and right a dreadful wrong, warning our calls for aid would require petitions to and be answered by an intermediary by the name of Noculous, as the realm disallowed others to answer the needs of their parishioners. Additionally the arcane practitioners would find their applications odd or manifesting wildly. As the reverie ended, the first rays of the sun disk burst over the horizon. Renewed in my faith I returned to the Inn and shared the news with the group. Though my companions were initially incredulous I was quite specific and confident until all were convinced of the truth. However it was decided that our supplies had run scarce since our departure from home and most were in agreement that we would return to our fated path after a visit to Magnimar to recuperate, reequip, and gain strength before embarking on a new quest. It was agreed we would call upon our spirit friend Treyvor to see us home.
We arrived at Magnimars east gate and went our separate ways with our share of fair earned treasure. My first order of business was to send my Mother an exquisite arrangement of her favorite flowers, treats for my siblings, and for my Pops a new masterfully crafted pipe with a pouch packed with his favorite smoking herb along with a note asking them to prepare a spot for me at dinner. Then I made a few quick stops along the way towards home. I dropped my spear with its original enchanter requesting it deliver wounds with flame as well, another of Sarenrae’s realms. While I was visiting I bartered my cloak for a ring of higher power and purchased an amulet crafted from the shell of a sea turtle shell mounted and inlaid with silver said to provide the protective qualities it had for its original bearer. The enchanter asked for a fortnight to service my weapon which seemed a reasonable request. I inquired where one might shop for books or items that provided insight or enlightenment and of course was guided to the temple district. There I found a multitude of simple bronze headbands decorated with an intricate pattern of fine green etchings and I walked away with one that had the strongest aura. That was a painful investment but it should prove to be the boon I could only hope to reach in a decade’s worth of studies and travels. Still walking with an egregious amount of wealth I made appointments with engineers, craftsmen and artisans. These I would schedule during what came to be an extended one month stay.
I walked home enjoying the sea breeze and the sound of the dock yards as I approached my neighborhood. I was spotted long before I made it to the house and mobbed by my siblings. Some carried my gear others climbed to my shoulders or clung to a leg. My older siblings waited by the house with my Poppa who was smoking his new pipe before dinner…YEESH! How Momma disapproved of that! I took their arms and was welcomed into the house with punches to the arm and raucous headlocks but all was in kindness and fun. My Poppa even complimented me on the pipe and thanked me as he placed his scarred hand on the back of my neck asking how things had went as we entered the house. This was abruptly interrupted as my Momma castigated my father for smoking his clove laden pipe before dinner. Sheepishly excusing himself he dashed for the door before my Momma came around the corner with a dish towel in her hands and a bit of flour on her nose and cheek. The woman she is lost her composer at first sight of me. She started, froze with a look of disbelief for a moment and dropped her dish towel before she finally blinked and relaxed with a laugh. With her hand over her heart she explained how much I resembled my Father in his formative years and how it had made her heart skip a beat. Poppas retort from the doorway reclaiming his status was answered by Momma with a threat of bodily harm if he brought the pipe into HER house before dinner again. A muffled response was heard and ignored from outside. I hadn’t thought to have my armor professionally serviced before coming home so battle damage and some stains were evident despite the best field care we could provide. I think for the first time since my parents retired from adventuring life she experienced the concern only a mother could for what her son and her “somerkids” might have endured. Some were hers and some weren’t but she loved them all. It took no time to inquire of their status, and she was visibly relieved to know they were all well. Once confirmed she gave me a mothers hug and kiss, fixed my hair and pushed me off towards a bath. She complained how my father would stink up his armor and everything else and expect to cuddle, and went further chiding me that any of HER sons would have the common decency to clean up for a woman before dinner or ANYTHING ELSE! There were indiscernible…ignored shouts from the doorway again.
After my bath I dressed in my blue tunic, patterned kilt and sandals for dinner. Sarenrae was praised and bread was passed before I noticed my father had cleaned up and even managed to comb his hair. Momma had put her hair up and put on one of the common gowns I had brought form Absolom, in fact all of my siblings and Oona had made the effort to spruce for this homecoming. Even my older brothers respected our Momma’s wishes in HER house. The meal was a common family staple, much provided by my Poppa and brothers, and loved by the whole family. The dinner and evening went by very happy and relaxed, especially when they broke out the wine. We sang, shared stories and poked at one another until sleep came for us. It was a nice, comfortable, enjoyable expression of love and peace. It was what was expected in my Momma’s house and everyone respected that for her…always! The next morning I rose to the smell of breakfast. My father and brothers had already left without me, a mild disappointment but that was quickly squashed with the biscuits, cheese, eggs and fruit Momma presented. We talked for a while. I told her my intentions for the old temple and she all but broke into tears. She was happy and expressed the desire to help. I asked if she knew how to make dawn bread from the sunflower seeds. I think that hurt her heart, but she recovered quickly as I asked her to help with the production of it at the temple so they could be distributed to the needy. Then she did cry and sat on my lap hugging me until she was through. She offered an emphatic “yes” and began to make her plans for the first batch. It would be made in HER home and would not have it any other way. I excused myself, explaining I had appointments for the temple I must keep and gathered my plans and other gear and started for the door. I told my older sisters to work with Momma and left them with ten gold pieces to provide whatever she might need to accomplish her goal.
I met with the builders, some outright refused the undertaking because of the location. Many however did not so with my vision in mind and a walk through the chapel I asked those willing to provide estimates for rebuilding the structure with white polished stone. I began the demolition work that would be need to provide space for the new construction and would clean up the grounds to make as presentable as possible for the time being. I made no bones of who I was and want my intentions were. I wasn’t there half the day before Momma arrived with the first loaves of dawn bread. She was dressed in a well-cared for older style Sarenite clergy woman’s attire and would NOT allow me to help her or the half dozen or so helpers she had in tow. When they had finished giving out the bread and ministering to the needs of those who approached. They returned and pitched in with the hard work. Much was accomplished. The next day more Sarenites arrived early, and more dawn bread was distributed. It was after the midday devotions during the meal an official clergyman of the Dawnflower approached the Chapel. He informed me that the contract was approved and confirmed by the Church and that crews would report as soon as all were assembled. The materials that could be gathered locally would arrive with the crews and Church Templars would guard the site until it was complete. Any materials not locally available would be requisitioned and delivered as soon as was possible. He also reported that lay-clergy both local and from afar would arrive to provide services as required. I asked of the finances as this was happening far quicker than I had planned. His brow furled into a frown of disbelief and said, “Inquisitor, this isn’t your burden alone! The dawn has broken in Magnimar and it is sanctioned by the Church; this is to be the Light in the Dark. The Church will build the House of the Dawnflower in Magnimar, you will see to the construction, appoint the clergy, and your authority and office will reside within Inquisitor.” I asked “Brother how did this come to pass?” His immediate response was “ An anecdote travelled to the desert and beyond of a Church beset by evil in Magnimar. Locals had more than once presented gifts beyond their means with the latter seeing to the liberation of the Holy ground. It was divined to be true. An Inquisitor was sent to investigate and her report confirmed the anecdote and the identity of the locals. Her recommendations were offered in prayer and the response was irrefutable! Her Empyreal Lordship, The Cleansing Light, and Warrior of Fire wills it! So IT WILL BE!”I was humbled to my knees. I looked at my Momma and said “This is the new light that is promised with the dawn Momma.” She shook her head affirmatively through a shower of tears as she leaned into a friend and fellow Sarenite for stability. I praised the Dawnflower thanking her for her gifts and deliverance. Then I thanked the clergyman for his message and offered him a meal. He would not take a meal explaining he was the sergeant of the Templar detachment sent to protect the construction and would take no refresh before his men arrived nor without them, it was their way. I sent Momma with the coin to purchase the food required to feed them all one of her home cooked meals. She took a head count once all had arrived and with a couple of the other women set off to cook a meal. I took the time to get to know these men. They were from the Dawnflower Cult in Qadira. All business! But after a while they would open up and talk a little bit more every day. At the end of a hard day’s work I made my way to check on Xandendi’s progress. Inquiring with those looking after the fallen cleric, I was curious how her atonement had progressed. All had gone better than expected and she was highly appreciative and ready to return to the service of Sarenrae. I told her to continue the good work and if she had completed the ritual before I returned she should work at the Chapel until I did. I promised her a gift and a surprise when I did return if she was released from her atonement and fully ready for a challenge.
The others took a trip to Sandpoint. I could not in good conscience leave the project unsupervised at this early stage. I wanted to be absolutely sure the engineers, craftsmen and artisans had the full unfettered, exact knowledge of my desires and expectations. However I did take the opportunity to write a detailed description of the destruction of the Fort Donner Temple of Desna to the Clergy in Sandpoint, they were very approachable and seemed to be very community oriented and had the financial support of the community to an amazing degree! The letter was sent with Macer to deliver. About a week and a half into the project it became clear my vision was set in the minds of my contractors and I agreed to leave them with a Church member as a foreman to look to the details in my absence. Huge had mentioned he was going to work on his martial prowess with his cousin and once or twice I witnessed the intensity of the training. On one occasion I asked him if he would instruct me also, but as it would be our schedules would not allow it. However he told me what needed to be done in order to achieve the goal. So I worked the docks loading and unloading boats after the dawnwalk until after the sunset. The longshoremen didn’t mind as I lent my back and arms for free. After finishing the dock work I would eat Momma’s meal and then take Poppa’s rowboat out to sea for an hour sometimes two without a break and return home. I repeated this process for ten consecutive days. My strength, endurance and definition increased dramatically in that short period of time.
Upon the groups return to Magnimar, Master Hobart hosted an elaborate party which included our entire combined families…minus Oona’s parents! The gala event was something to behold. That night I witnessed more happiness than I had ever thought possible and all amongst people I know and love. Our ladies are a sight to behold! They were gracious to my mother commenting on the fine dress my father had commissioned for her and when she told the story my father blushed at their reaction. That chipped the crust off of his gruff demeanor as far as they were concerned. And Pops was dashing in his formal family kilt and service awards. I was floored to see him dance…very well with Momma! In many respects the fun continued for many after the “party” had concluded officially. It was a good way to release the tension and frustrations of the hard life. Fortunately departure time was set for midday on the morrow and thankfully I didn’t see the party as a farewell until after my dawnwalk, which came to early! I had just welcomed the workers to the site and approved of progress before informing them of my departure for a while. On my way home a deep foreboding began to set in as if the last days merriment and this days beginning were a sign of hard times to come. I repeated the following until I arrived home to find my Momma singing and bouncing around her kitchen as I had never seen her before “Dawnflower Light the way.” I stood in the kitchen watching her dance about and sing until she turned and was startled to laughter.
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I have a suspicion about Salacious, but will wait on judgement. He seams harmless enough. His intent really is to help. That's all I will say at this time. I know he's not mine or your's sweetie and I don't think we picked it up along the way. Treyvor swears it's not his doing but can we trust a speed demon coach driver? Sorry about the demon reference. NOT
See you all in a few. Nena
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"So, two demons and a devil walk into a bar and start arguing....."
Woke up late; what didn't we drink last night/this morning? Think I was being too optimistic with that noon start time. Much running around, bit to eat(?), luckily things are already packed. Thanks and farewell to Hobart, almost had to carry Nina out to make the east Gate. We are only ten for the north, the trip feels shorter and that should probably cause concern. Near the fort, our guide says he will not be able to join us. Black lines run through his form, and he vanishes with something about sparing us the sight. Felu's expression speaks volumes, I don't envy his path.
We are again outside Fort Dolar; from our vantage, we can see many soldiers on post and townspeople moving about. Seems the Captain has skill when not beset by demons. Pass through quickly to avoid upsetting the balance, and continue to the shack. Couldn't help taking a quick look inside, minor evidence of things rooting around. The more medically minded are troubled, the ogre's carcass seems to only have been dead about five days. My calender is broken, but since the spirit took a powder, guess there won't be an explanation.
Continue on, nice weather for hiking and camping. A garbage monster is spotted at a distance, all agree that it should be deep underground, not on walk-about. This portal must really be shaking things up. There's grumbling about pine cones, but we're in the woods, this is where they come from. Have been hearing odd things, but the second night, loud arguing broke out nearby. Nina was able to pick out a minor devil and two large demons. Talked with HUGE and Atz on watch, decided to lay low and inform the following shifts. Quieted down later, but just before dawn, fliers(not the loud ones?) passing nearby noticed the camp and stopped for a visit. Lively exchange as three winged demons ridden by smaller demons(well one was being savaged by a devil) met adventurers in nightclothes. Much confusion, but the demons were put down and the devil allowed to leave. Enemy of my enemies? Still trying to get my head around that one.
Next morning, got to the cave where Sam spotted a small blob of shadow. Says it's like the thing that afflicted Hobart, so the open barn door is making life real interesting. Moving in, more blobs are sensed, and we find something eating a deer. Am told it's an owlbear, but the eyes aren't supposed to glow like that. Looks like another fine day of adventuring.
One last thing; just how does one go about closing a portal?
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It turns out that what is a "reasonable amount of time" to one person or group might not be to another. Treyvor seemed to have a good time at Hobart's party and in no real hurry to leave, but as we climbed into the coach he cautioned us, saying that we wouldn't recognize him when we got to our destination. As he spoke, dark lines appeared on his "flesh" and expanded, racing to cover his exposed "skin" as he mounted the drivers platform. Felu and I watched with mounting horror as we witnessed part of a transformation that may well be awaiting us. As we rode, I began to ponder just what steps I might be able to take to remove this demonic curse from us; and just what caused Treyvor to fail to make clear to us the cost of our dalliance in Magnimar.
When we arrived outside Fort Dolor* we found that our coachman had indeed transformed into a demon. Felu and I saluted him as the others headed into the town, and I renewed my resolve to remove this curse from myself and the woman that I love; for us, it would be a fate far, far worse than mere death.
We proceeded quickly through the town and back up into the foothills to the crone's now-abandoned shack, where we discovered that only a few days had passed here. I have to wonder about the danger of meeting ourselves a little farther down the road, and what that might entail. Since we hadn't met ourselves in Magnimar, did that mean that we would not return, or just that the mission would take us longer than a month, or just that we hadn't happened to have met ourselves?
At any rate, our trek to locate and close this portal took on some surreal aspects as we hiked into the mountains. Monsters that should have been deep underground wandering around in daylight, being pelted with phantom pine-cones, squadrons of demon-riders flying about, demons and devils taunting each other in the night... It was almost like being back in my Uncle's estate in Cheliax, with the threat of demons added to the devils I was more used to. We only had one fight (against the squadron of demon-riders), and in that we were aided by a bearded devil; I was honestly amazed at my teammates restraint in allowing the devil to go its way after the confrontation.
In the end we found the cave where the portal seemed to be, though infested with small formless demonic entities like the one that had possessed Hobart and something that HAS to be an owl-bear, only much larger than any I had heard of before. Also, how DOES one go about closing a portal?
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I like the name Fort Donner for the town.
That being said. For the record and for any readers. Only five days have past here at Fort Donner. The troupe walked througha busy town without being spotted by anyone that knew them nor did they talk to anyone . As such they don't know that reinforcements arrived two days after the troupe had left Ft. Donner. The Captain is doing a good job of keeping the "outsiders" from reaching town so far. However he has no idea what happened to his rescuers and sends small search parties out to find clues to their disappearance.
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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The next morning after the party we rode with Treyvor back to Fort Donnor. Along the way he wasn’t as talkative as he had been in the past, or the evening prior during the party. He eventually told us that he was going to die on the journey, or more specifically, that his time was over but he would be back and would meet us later. Along the journey a blackness moved under his skin, that or his veins were darkening enough to the point of being seen. Soon after we noticed the marks on his arm and neck he disappeared. I can’t imagine what happened but Felu seemed a little tense.
We arrived outside of town as we had before and since it was early morning decided to push through town quickly and make our way up the mountain towards the prophets cabin and past to the lair and this portal. When we arrived at the cabin we made a quick cursory look around and the general body decomposition told us we had only been gone a week, no more. Whatever that travel was, it was beyond my general understanding of time.
We pushed on until nightfall where I found a suitable place for us to rest for the evening. There was a small cave that could hold four of us comfortably for the night while I took my customary location under a pine tree with wide branches for cover and concealment. Atz and I took our customary first watch and I pulled a small military style saddle from the magical hole that Kelyn carries. I then transformed into a large breed of dog that could, and generally is, ridden by the smaller folk and had Atz ready the saddle. In this form I could see much further in the night, as long as there was a moon and stars out. It also guaranteed that Atz and I were together should anything attack our group while they rested. The night was uneventful for me, though Atz complained of someone or something dropping pine cones on him from somewhere. No one would own up to the prank, but there was talk of something large that had flown overhead during the night.
After my morning meditations on Gorum, I cast a spell that would let me know of the natural weather in the area and if there would be anything to worry about. The rest of the day would be pleasant travel but severe storms would roll into the mountains the following afternoon. With that accomplished we began our trek higher into the mountains. As night began to fall I once again found a suitable place for us to rest. This time I managed to locate a larger overhang that would allow for four of the group to rest comfortably while I again opted for the tree. Again I shifted into the form of the dog and Atz again resumed a saddled position on my back. I also noticed that Kelyn was awake. When I looked at him quizzically he just showed me a ring he now wore. During our shift we heard the loud flapping noise of something moving high overhead but nothing came of it. We also began hearing a foul tongued language being yelled in the darkness far from the camp. It sounded like two creatures were trying to locate a third while yelling at one another. I was unsure of the language but it sounded like demon speak to me. Kelyn thought we should go out and look about and I low growled at that idea. Fighting in the dark against an unknown foe was not a tactically smart decision. If they made it to the campsite and threatened us then we would deal with it. Otherwise it sounded like they were busy with each other to notice us.
In the morning the clouds began to roll in and a grey haze seemed to hold the noise in and made everything cold and wet. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the mountain air while quiet grumblings from some of the others pointed to their desire to return to Magnimar or Sandpoint. While moving higher into the mountains a few of us spied a Otyugh trying to find shelter in a draw further down the mountain below us. I knew of the creatures being a carrier of foul diseases and dangerous if cornered but relatively harmless if left alone to wallow in their filth. A few asked if we should deal with it but the decision to move back down the mountain and deal with something that wasn’t a threat was folly, especially when we knew storms were moving in. Oddly though something drove it out of its lair, and that may be the real problem.
Just as we saw the cave mouth higher up the mountain we came under attack by large flying demonic creatures with some sort of rider directing their movements. Knowing I had a few moments before they arrived I hardened my skin in iron and prepared a spell that would guide my attack when it came time. The first creature landed in front of Lugh and I charged forward, overrunning the mount and its rider before they knew what was happening. I shouldered the large creature aside knocking it prone and in turn dislodged the rider to fall unceremoniously to the ground. They didn’t stand a chance. As they scrambled to stand back up, Lugh, Vex, Kelyn, Nina and I dispatched them. The others were having difficulties from the others of the group and strange looking creature that attacked them with zeal and the smell of sulfur and brimstone. In less than a minute the creatures were all dead and the others were taking up a defensive position around the ... creature. It spoke in a rough common to Sam and told us that its summoned task was over and that he was leaving. I don’t know what it was, but Sam seemed confident enough to talk with it while Lugh’s knuckles remained white as he gripped his spear. Whatever it was, it didn’t pose a threat to us and I quickly lost interest and moved around to help with the healing to those that needed it. After a few minutes the creature disappeared, leaving behind a strong odor of sulfur.
When we arrived at the caves mouth we found it led into a lair of an owlbear, but as I learned from the others it was infected with something akin to what had infected Hobart. I didn’t have much time to digest this information as the creature noticed our arrived and turned to attack.
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This is going to be a long story so I’ll drop the accent.
First off, my name isn’t Salacious. Creatures like me have names that are intentionally unpronounceable by most races, and for good reason; you can get in lots of trouble if every Tom, Dick and Harry starts throwing your true name about. I’d rather just not get into that kind of mess.
So anyway, Sam’s family knows this; they have considerable experience dealing creatures like me, and hide their names as well. Sam’s name isn’t really “Sam”, just as his uncle Boris isn’t really named “Boris.” Don’t ask me to tell you what they really are, I’m not privy to that kind of information. And if I ever do find out, there are plenty of entities farther up the chain that will pay handsomely for it. Nevermind about that, it’s completely beside the point.
I’m an Imp, a minor devil. I’ve been out on contract to Sam’s family for a REALLY long time. Nothing wrong with that; I do the same sort of stuff here that I did in the Hells but the climate is decidedly more congenial and I have far fewer superiors making sure I stay busy. There are a few of us working this particular contract, which is currently held by Sam’s uncle “Boris.” I do the little things; run messages, spying on rivals and friends, giving advice, that sort of stuff. I met Sam when he first came to stay with Boris in Cheliax to learn how to be a proper Sorcerer. It was clear to Boris from the start that Sam was going to be a problem (his family actually prefers things that way; they have a convoluted method of dealing with relatives, even by my standards), so I got assigned to be the kid’s friend and confidant. It just happened that I actually like the kid; he and I had some interesting little adventures together (along with his sidekick and paramour, Felu), and he didn’t rat me out to the higher-ups and get me flogged all the time, like some of my other assignments have. Maybe a little soft, but that was my job to fix in a subtle and round-about way. Since that mostly involves talking, and that’s what I’m best at, it was going pretty well until SOMEBODY higher up the chain overplayed their hand and Sam and Felu flew the coop.
Ok, so maybe that was the plan all along (I told you they were convoluted in dealing with relatives? You really have NO idea) and “Boris” kept tabs on the kid because he’s a pretty talented guy. So anyway, he decided recently that the kid was getting in over his head and sent me to keep a closer eye on him. I caught up with him in Magnimar, and since I have some discretion about how I go about my job, I decided that Sam needed a new familiar. Yeah yeah, Sorcerer’s don’t really do the familiar thing but Sam has this tattoo stuff happening in his head, along with all that human teenage rebellion malarkey, so he had this snake. Never did much with it, and it must have been pretty boring being a tattoo all the damn time, so I sent the poor thing off to a better life. Or at least another life on some other plane of existence so that when he calls up another one, who should appear but yours truly? Then all I have to do is hang out and watch and wait.
Well, the kid and his reprobate friends all go and jump in this carriage, and the driver yanks them all completely out of time! Let me tell you, I had to do some fast talking and string pulling and favor calling to track him down, let alone get back to him. But fortunately for me, demon carriage drivers aren’t the only ones who can jump around in time if they really need to. So after getting out of the carriage, the kid and his hoodlum friends go out walking in the woods, up hills, dodging monsters and demons while they looked for a portal they were supposed to close. This must be some weird kind of portal, there are demons and devils and all sorts of unusual critters crawling around. I did manage to help them out a bit by bargaining with a bearded devil to fight some demons. That was fun. Anyway, they finally find this cave (I know it’s the right one cause I can FEEL the whatever it is thrumming away inside there), and they go inside. First they run into a shapeless little demon-blob (really just a little self-repeating chaos nexus, but who’s keeping score?) and Sam somehow tells it to go away and it slinks off. Weird, I had no idea he could do that. Farther in, they come to a big lit chamber with a bunch of weird stuff inside. The group splits up and goes after what they’re best at; Sam and Felu and Kelyn and Nina take on a couple of undead flaming skulls (hey, excuse me for not knowing all the damned names off the top of my head; I have better things to do with my time), and start eating fireballs for their trouble. Not too worried about Sam, he has the bloodline after all. I caught the edges of them too, but I’m immune. Growing up in Hell does have SOME advantages. Felu was a different story, but Sam did his best to protect her with a spell, and she is a nimble little minx let me tell you. Some of the gymnastics that she and Sam get up to at home, well… Nevermind.
Anyway, they eventually blow the skulls away, and the muscleheads took on an owlbear, and all the while there’s about a bajillion of these little demon-blobs lurking around out of sight. Most of those wind up eating each other and exploding, which is pretty damn funny if you ask me. So the group winds up stepping into this obviously supernatural wall of fog, and I can tell right away that the other side of the fog is “elsewhere.” First one through (Kelyn) comes right back out saying, “two more of those hulks in there.” The big one (the one they call “Huge.” So very original, these humans. I suppose it could be worse, most humans would have named him “Tiny” or something) grins like an idiot and trots through, and the rest follow as they can. I took a second to activate a fire-trap in the cave, and bask in the comforting warmth of a little hell-fire. Maybe it would wash off some of the lingering chaos-stench from this place.
So, I go through the wall of “fog” with little lightning bolts tingling off my skin. No one noticed, they were too busy fighting the war-hulks. Interesting sensation on the other side of the fog; I could tell that I was totally cut off from Higher. Looks like no divination or communing for me in the near future…
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So, just how drunk does one have to be to think of crossing a bear and an owl? Seems my brothers aren't as unique as I had believed.
Moved into the large, well-lit cavern toward the mutant, but it backed off to a far corner; I'd expected more violence. The large ones followed after it while others split off to find any friends that may be skulking about. Lucky us, we found two floating, burning skulls! Their version of saying hello involved fireballs, we returned the favor. Nina and Sam pelted them with spells while Felu and I blasted away. This drainpipe of mine does throw a weighty ball, but the lady does have a marked advantage in rate of fire. Finished them off, but came out of it looking like the losing end of a fire sale. The bear-thing was down, but some blobs had tried to grab its' juice and spawned other things. These were also squashed, and we flushed out more blobs before they tried anything.
Quick patch jobs as we moved to the obvious exit; a passage filled with mist that has small sparks flashing through. Nina says it isn't magical, I quickly tired of waiting(whole seconds!), how bad can it be? Walked up the passage, a half dozen steps bringing me through the odd-feeling mist, to a chamber rather filled by two ogre hulks(with flails!). Guess this is where the witch hired her muscle. They turned to me with less than friendly smiles, and I felt the others would like to know of this development. Popped back through the fog, expecting concern when learning of the threat, but was almost trampled by screaming loons. Guess they were ready for a straight up fight after the weirdness. Took Nina's hand, and led her to the next crime scene.
As we entered, a pink mist had begun to form and people were dashing about. Nina layed in with powerful magics as I moved up to get a bit more personal. An ogre moved in and I parried his swing(fun fact; blocking something the size of a tree trunk is very different from stopping a longsword). Quick calculations made from the floor tell me this will be a painful learning experience. Kip-up and back into the fray. Hard to measure our progress; the air is rather thick, and am covered in gore(reasonably sure most of it belongs to the ogre and Macer). The brutes finally fall, and I'm surrounded by staggering, broken forms that may be my friends. Am rather concerned that HUGE is in the middle of this carnage, laughing, with an odd light in his eyes. Note to self; make sure Atz treats this one carefully.
Something is different. Not feeling the presence watching(judging?) my actions. On the other hand, this beating has knocked things around and cleared my mind. Several moves and tricks that have escaped me are now obvious, new ideas are forming. Turn to Nina to share this, and am greeted by a calm smile; she leans close and whispers "fireball". A quick embrace, which is somewhat lessened by the fact that we're covered with the gore of friend and foe. Prestidigitation ensues, it will take quite some time to clear out this emergency ward.
Not sure what's going on, but feeling better about our chances. A lot of positive waves here.
|Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunson|
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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As we move into the room I spy several of the small demonic parasites further in the room behind the ... owlbear. Everyone is looking at me when we first saw the creature and all I could do was shrug. “Whatever THAT is, its not natural.” As it turns out, that’s what they’re called, but who in the nine hells thought that was a great idea to create.
Regardless the creature dropped its meal and began snorting and backing into the cave which sent the parasites scattering. So Lugh, Oona, and I moved forward following after the creature. When we rounded the large pile of leftover bones from its meals the thing charged Lugh. Just then a gout of flame erupted from the wall to my left and washed over the three of us. When the flame stopped only I was left on fire and in pain. Well, how intimidating could an on fire Ulfen be? Turns out, that answer is a lot. With a war cry for the ages I screamed at the creature and moved in to swing with the greatsword. The creature started at my cry and had a nervous way of trying to keep me in front of it throughout the fight. In the end it wasn’t much of a contest of skill, the creature fell to the tactics of Lugh and I maintaining a flanking position on the creature. Even Vex had joined in as well. The problem was the magical trap that had continued to coat us in fire and burning. Just as I had killed the owlbear than several more of the parasites converged on the body and suddenly began growing larger and more formed. They quickly fell and I was able to douse myself in water and put out the fire. I then spent some time healing my wounds with spell and wand alike.
I wasn’t finished healing when Kelyn returned from a magically fog filled hall and said there were more ogre warhulks ahead. I had missed out on most of that fight and quickly pushed past the others to get involved. Boy did I get involved. Just after I had passed through the fog I felt the immediate absence of Gorum but didn't have much time to ruminate on that as the hulks were ready for me and attacked. I forgot that the bastards could hit so hard that they would knock you prone. The initially volley of flail attacks did a number on not only me but my armor as well. Once I was able to breathe again I began to chuckle as the rest of the group filed in and Lugh lent a healing hand to me. I crawled out of their reach and stood back up smiling at Lugh. “I forgot they hit that hard. That was painfully fun.”
He just shook his head and moved up to attack. I followed suit and learned that the enchantment put on my armor worked beautifully as another blow broke a rib and once again knocked me prone and gasping for air. But as my vision began to blur and go black I could feel the magical healing kick in and mend the wounds. I roared out in laughter at how the armor had saved my life and the possibilities of what I could take swam in mind. It was then that Macer moved forward and with a few tactical shouts, I was able to stand up without the creature taking advantage of my position. From there it was short work as the combined power of the group killed the two war hulks.
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Just what kind of sewer have you been keeping your mind in? I'm wondering what sort of things you learned in that "church". Here I am removing the viscera of combat, trying to give this bunch a little class. May have to have words with your mother next time we're in Magnimar, arrange a bit of lye-based attitude adjustment.
We arrived at Fort Donner apparently a bit sooner than I had expected, in fact I had an extremely difficult time orienting myself for a period of time. You see in some fashion Treyvor had skipped us back in time like one would a stone over calm waters and while intriguing I found myself mildly uncomforted, tired and predisposed to what I can only assume was my dedication to reopen the shrine in Magnimar but after an hours time I felt as normal as ever. Quite an interesting and novel trick, my interest is peaked!
The Fort seems to be back in the more than capable hands of the Captain for the time being, so we made our way to the crones hut where the time skip was confirmed by the decay of our prior adversaries. The way forward would be up into the mountains. It was here and now the gloom and weight of our quarry began to encumber my soul. I could feel the presence of an impurity wafting in the mountain air. A wickedness seems to be creeping into the area, and while no outward obvious signs have manifest the corruption creeping in the soil and on the wind is that which the Spawn first sends so his abyssal minions can find their way. The vastness and beauty here would be enjoyable but for the dread that is seeping into these mountains. At dusk I walked to watch thedays end and speak with the Dawnflower. I gave my thanks and praise. Reading the colorful evening sky I could divine gathering storm and darkness in our days to come. This was the culmination of the deep foreboding I experienced before our departure from Magnimar. We were close. I spoke of the feelings I had experienced on our journey so far and came away with a feeling of confidence. I returned to a good nights rest before my dawnwalk.
Another of travels passed without event at least for me. Others claimed to have heard calls in the night of multiple creatures trying to speak to one another over great distance. How we slept through that I cannot fathom but during the last watch and dawnwalk there were no voices calling form the early morning darkness. The following day lent more credence to my theory when we ran into an Otyugh in the open. They never ventured from their lair unless cast out by a more formidable beast, and they are not to be trifled with so we passed it by.
We set off the next and were beset by an actual storm which Huge had predicted. That made me laugh as I knew the “storm” had not yet arrived, but it was funny none the less. We had found a decent camp and set watches when all were called to arms from a deep slumber. A patrol of demonic cavalry had set upon us from the night sky the action was quick and fierce. Lucky the word was given in time as most of us were ill prepared for combat. I rose with spear and shield and a blanket about my waste for as long as it lasted. As I said the melee was short-lived so modesty though unnecessary was maintained for the most part. The unbelievable part of the ordeal was that a bearded devil had assisted us (so to speak) in this scrap and claimed himself absolved of his contractual obligation….which I understood from his infernal tongue. I addressed him in a strong fashion in his tongue, respectfully with a weapon salute in the manner in which I was instructed. “Very well, then be on your way with our gratitude.” Sam also spoke with him briefly before he vanished. Not long after the hostilities ended, everyone awake I quickly made my dawnwalk while the rest prepared themselves for the day. As I finished my walk I heard the voice again. It was told that this was the day of the severing and that the One known as Noculous would receive and stand in for the Dawnflower until my return. I left that reverie abreast of my fellows inspecting a cave mouth and a small dark presence about it which scurried into the cave. I felt as though another small skip of time was spent for a conversation much longer than I could remember, and felt though the separation imminent a comfort with it now. Although how my armor and gear were about me was a mystery?
We entered a well luminated oddly pillared hall. Immediately evident was an afflicted, corrupted magical beast commonly referred to as an Owlbear. He fed near a pile of boones and moved away as we approached. He backed to a corner where a number of the dark parasitic entities which had oppressed Master Hobart lingered about him. I know not whether it was the plan of his possessor or the beast but it seemed to lure us to a fire trap which engulfed both Huge and Oona. I was spared by the fact the two had blocked me from the onslaught. Huge however caught on fire proper and used it to instill fear in the creature if only for a moment. It was enough to gain advantage over the beast and fell it. That is when the dark parasites lunged to the beast to feed. We slew them as well but not before they consumed the life energy from the beast that remained. A matter of high science and alchemy I suspect but no matter an evil act on par with the consuming of soul energy and they were dispatched with prejudice. I felt a brief moment of sorrow for the great beast as it was a truly noble creature to behold. I gathered a claw as a remembrance intending to place it in honor, in my duty station wherever that may be. Others had fought floating flaming skulls which produced a fusillade of explosive fire which was evident during the combat with the owlbear but far enough away to be ineffective in our struggle with the beast. When the skull fighters returned to the group there was still smoldering about them so in jest I doused them…just a wee bit…only to be sure…one can never tell when a flame might erupt! Healing was lent and distributed about our group as we shared our separate experiences. Nearly setting off the sister to the fire trap I approached the exit which was masked by an arcane effect.
Kelyn lept in and quickly back, wide eyed warning of numerous warhulks. Huge dashed through the arcane wall, Oona and I followed. It was in that instant I felt the Dawnflowers presence leave me. I had not ever realized it before as it had grown in me, but now that it was gone…I FELT THAT! Then suddenly I felt flush with a benign power and approval to use it, strange but welcoming. I exited the misty portal with an arcane discharge of tiny lightning cascading around my body to find Huge on the ground. I leant him a healing hand as he laughed saying how he had forgotten the warhulks tactics. Our whole group advanced on them and struck them from the roles of life with a moderate effort, though I believe a pause for a serious bout of wound examination will be in order before we proceed.
|Birgun the Huge Ulfgaght|
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We spent the next few minutes patching up our wounds before resting a short time to meditate. Even though I knew I no longer was in contact with Gorum I still found it difficult to center myself and asking for assistance from this being known as Noculous was disturbing. Regardless of my feelings, I felt my divine powers grow and in time finished my meditations ready to move on.
We traveled in the tunnels for a rather long time, all the while heading generally upwards. Eventually we could see the corridor widening into a larger chamber so Kelyn, Vex and Atz moved ahead of the main group to scout while I moved ahead of the group but behind our scout to provide some support should they need it. Macer had hung back to deal with Oona who was having problems in this ... area. Her sanity, which has become suspect lately, is even worse here.
As Vex slipped into the room I could see three of the bow armed cultists that had nearly killed me in the cabin on the mountain. As I drew my sword, Kelyn turned around motioning that three more were to the left and gave me a questioning look. I just pointed to my sword, then to the three I could see and quietly worded, “now.” My face had already contorted into a snarl as I was NOT going to allow them to fill me or my companions with arrows a second time. As Kelyn slipped around the corner and I heard a surprised death rattle from one of the cultists I bolted forward. Except I didn’t run to the cultists, I just appeared in a small puff of purple smoke. I imagine that I didn’t present much of a war face, and it probably looked as surprised as the three cultists faces looked to me as I attacked.
As we began our assault the remaining forces in the room decided to enter into the fray. In the end there were twelve cultists spread around the room or on balconies, at least eight bone devils similar to what we fought in the apothecary’s home and some sort of odd looking giant. The initial part of the assault went well and most of the cultists fell quickly to the combined might of the group. I was even enlarged by the magics of Sam which helped. The assault began to falter when the bone devils moved in using their unnatural auras. I had moved away from the main group to take on the remaining group of cultists and the giant while everyone else dealt with the devils. I was doing rather well against the giant and cultists, mostly because I could reach them in melee because of Sam’s magic. Even Atz had used magics that had enforced my resolve and attack prowess which helped greatly. Then the devils appeared next to me.
I have felt fear before. Generally its just a natural way of your body to let you know there is danger and to be careful. Sometimes its more intense, an unknown and unnatural fear that you feel in the pit of your stomach. The first time I felt that was when I was a child in the Irespan piling and the heavy footfalls below our group was moving up the stairwell towards us. This fear was something all to alien. It pierced the soul. The feeling was indescribable other than to say that to flee was paramount. Dropping my greatsword to the ground I ran as fast as I could further into the room and down a corridor. Along the way I ran into a stench that made my stomach roil and caused me to dry heave. I ran past the stench and far down the hall before the fear wore off and I found myself alone. The wounds I had suffered were severe and I knew that I would have to move as quickly back as I could healing myself as best I could.
Just as I was close enough to see the room at the end of the corridor I saw two more of the odd giants move out of the room to my left and yell something in an unknown language to someone in the room. Nodding at the response they turned and went back into their room. It was then that I noticed another creature sitting on a small terrace to my right. I had run past it in terror earlier and hadn’t noticed it. The creature looked elemental in nature but was unknown to me. It was looking at me and turned its head to the side and in my head I heard it ask me if I could speak with my god. As I responded that I couldn’t I once again stepped within the area of the foul stench. Before I could quickly move out of the area I began vomiting, my stomach no longer able to keep down the mornings rations.
The stench was so vile even my eyes began to water and vision became blurry. I could see to my right a pit that was full of flesh and was obviously the source of the stench. I moved as quickly as I could through the area but my stomach continued to expel, or try to expel, all the food I had eaten even after I had left the odorous area. I slowly made my way back to my sword seeing that the group was fine but in wary stances as Sam was speaking that foul language again and the devils were listening. As I retrieved my sword the giant and the two bowman realized that I was back and began attacking me again. I weathered the blows as it was all that I could do, my strength depleted because of the nausea. The others seeing me under assault came to my aid and we quickly finished them off. With that done, I fell to the floor and sat there with my back to the wall as Atz and Nina did what they could to close off my wounds.
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After the trauma team finished up, we took a few to catch our breath. The casters were deep in thought absorbing new magics limbered up and checked the area. Concern was evident towards the separation from higher powers, but all seemed fully capable and we moved on. Traveled quite some distance into the mountain(?) until coming upon an occupied stretch.
Vex, Atz, and I crept forward with HUGE close behind. Spotted trios of the black archers from the witch's shack and a group of devils like the one that guarded the succubus. This place is like "Henchmen-R-Us, we work for anybody". Glanced back at HUGE and saw that light in his eyes as he drew his sword. Vex flowed to the right as the bull pointed up the middle, so I decided to start the dance by getting acquainted with the bunch on the left. The badger obliged by opening the first like a pinata, Atz close behind with his trusty sling. Traveling to another reality doesn't seem to have any negative effect on my blade, and the opposition is quickly dispatched.
Moved back to the center to rejoin Nina as the devils show off a new trick. They 'ported around Felu and Sam and released "power"; it was like standing before gigantic, bass horns that shook my very soul. Being to the side, I was able to endure it and carve away at one of the tall figures. Guess we got their attention, and they blinked around Nina and I, focusing their rage. While I had recently bolstered my resolve, it was no match for this assault and all reason vanished. The inner animal took over, saw a small chance of escape, and abandoned all else.
No idea how much time passed before the dwarf regained control of the booth. Many thoughts assailed me, but the first was the fact that I'd come in second in a contest of personal hygiene. While I have never attempted it, am sure it is impossible to cut a dashing figure with soggy drawers. Prestidigitation ensues!(this is such a handy thing, don't know how anyone gets along without it). Wait...where is Nina? For that matter, where's the badger; hard to protect one without the other. IDIOT!!!!!
Race back up the tunnel, fearing the worst and thinking of all the pain I will inflict. Finally arrive back at the chamber to find Sam in a heated board meeting with the objects of my wrath, and he seems to be holding more than his own. Nina joins me and I stumble through clumsy apologies(and check if she requires hygienic magics, but of course, she's perfect) as she smiles and floats my blade out of the school of sharks. Combat resumes at HUGER's expense, so we skirt around the heated debate(get it? devils?.....anybody?) to join him.
Nina went left to gain LOS as I started up the wall to see what had HUGER's attention. She dropped one of her new spells that engulfed our enemies(and Vex, but he just laughed) and I gained the top, to see the thing trading swings with HUGER. Not a clue what it is, but unleash the badger as Vex finished the archers. HUGER cleaves the creature and takes a knee, leaking from uncounted wounds. Atz moved in to start triage as the board meeting was breaking up. Much shoulder slapping and fist bumping, looks like Sam pulled a big one from his nether regions.
Looks like we're off the menu for the immediate future, but there's talk of more of the creatures just ahead. No one to blame but myself, it's not like I signed on as an apprentice basket weaver. Well, roll out the bandages and pick up that spleen; somebody's going to be looking for it.
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My skin ached from the burns the barrage of fireballs left. Felu wass in worse shape as I was a little slow with the energy resistance spell, so I broke out the new wand and concentrated a moment before getting to work. Atz and Huge took care of the rest, though Oona seemed to have checked out. Rather than Lugh babysitting this time (I suppose he’s had enough of that for a lifetime) Macer was chosen as the one in the barrel. Salacious was jabbering and capering about, claiming he’s my familiar now. I’m surprised at just how glad I am to see him and hear his lisping know-it-all voice gleefully explaining anything at all to anyone who dares to ask a rhetorical question. Once patched up, we unanimously decided to take a short breather and I realized that I’ve figured out a few of the new spells I’ve been toying with. All too soon, it was time to press on.
Hours later we approached another lighted chamber and Vex, Atz and Kelyn sneaedk up to scout followed by Huge and then the rest of us. For a wonder, Macer was able to keep Oona quiet. Vex and then Kelyn slipped into the chamber, heading right and left, as I noticed Huge tense up and draw his sword… and vanish, only to instantly reappear farther into the chamber and start hacking on some cultists. I must remember to ask him how he did that, but for now he’s out of my range. Seeing the bows (and remembering the fusillade back in the “shack”) I drink a potion to protect myself, and start to move up.
There’s a pit off to the left, and I cast one of my new spells on Salacious and told him to find the leader and be ready, and he vanished and presumably flew off to follow orders. There are more bone devils in the room ahead, and I’m reminded of how they acted as bodyguards for a succubus back at Fort Donner. At the time, I had asked myself why would devils be guarding a demon? Now, as they cautiously (wth?) closed in on Huge and Lugh, I answered that question: because someone higher up had told them to. Just because they didn’t like it didn’t mean that they would disobey. I made Huge into Huger once again as Felu’s shot quite literally took the head off the last cultist I could see, when suddenly all the devils were standing around me. I had seen this behavior at my Uncle’s estate, and knew what was coming next as the fear washed over me. Unable to stop myself, I dropped my Rod of Absorbtion and crouched cowering before them.
When I came back to my senses (surprised I hadn’t been flayed in the interim), Nina was cowering to my left and Felu to my right. I could see Huge running for his life further into the cave, while Kelyn and Atz were nowhere to be seen. The devils had surrounded Lugh, and I could tell that they were not about to leave HIM unflayed. I hit three of them (conveniently lined up) with a small bolt of lightning, and announced loudly in Infernal that they were working for the wrong side, that there would be severe consequences for them in the real world, and that they would do well to contemplate the error of their ways. Of course they laughed, and once again moved to surround me, but they also seemed inclined to listen to what I had to say.
The ensuing negotiation took a couple of minutes, by which time all my companions had returned. In truth, I don’t remember quite what I said. I recall dropping the name of my Uncle’s devil Lieutenant, and that HE was on OUR side (not too much of a stretch, I think. SOMEBODY had to have ok’d Salacious’ reassignment at this moment), and determined that these fellows were just following the orders of someone named “Itchyrot,” another devil but elsewhere “farther up the hall” and attended by a bunch of demons. Not happy-making for a squad of loyal bone-devils, I can assure you. In the end, I convinced them to cease hostilities (though not to switch sides, at least not just on my say-so), and they gave us some valuable intelligence as to how we might close this portal. In the end, I am absolutely exhilarated. I feel like I did the first time that I told Felu that I loved her, all my nerves are on edge and my senses are tuned to a higher reality. THIS must be what Uncle Boris feels when he negotiates with these beings; at last I begin to understand the attraction of the life he has chosen. I need to be wary of this, the sense of power is quite intoxicating…
Everyone was patched and cleansed of their wounds then we started our way in. Soon we found a large occupied room. Assassins stood guard. The sneakers among us slithered to the edge of their sight and burst upon them in fierce displays of fury. Huge exhibited a power as yet unknown to us instantly moving from his position to combat. I was jealous as I moved in striking an assassin from range with a javelin, father would have been proud. The days spent spear fishing and harpooning were not wasted. I approached closer and struck with a second javelin. We engaged in melee and worked the assassin over with my fathers combat style. The situation became very tenuous as we were set upon by eight bone devils. It was apparent quickly that combat with theses feinds would be a long drawn out affair as bone shards splinter on my shield. Then they approached with a menacing aspect which seemed to strike fear in my group as they moved through using arcane methods. As they hopped about the room I realized I could gain no advantage in the chase so I called upon Noculous for the first time, he did naught disappoint me. I scorched a devil with a brilliant white hot beam of holy light. They either cowered in place or fled for their lives. Though Kelyn had managed to slay one, therest converged on Atz and I sending my small fishing buddy in flight. I called upon Noculous requesting he free Sam from his fears. Sam shamed them as his sizzled them with arcane lightning. The surrounded him a second time but made no attempt to over bear him now. I reclaimed Atz, Felu, and Nina from their states catatonic lock or panic. Then elbowed my way into the center of the conversation to stand beside Sam as he spoke to the in their diabolic tongue. The language is labor intensive and exhausting with violent emphasis on consonants but Sam has truly mastered it. I listened for the most part but when the occasion required I invoked my presence to ensure the parlay stayed on track, as there frightening affect did not sway me in all the times they had tried, something that did not go unnoticed I am certain. Sam convinced them not oppose our effort and that they might have chosen poorly in their associations. Now we must try to shut the portal though huge says there are significant obstacles in our way yet…