Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long leggeddy Beasties (A Childs Nightmare)

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Not all fairy tales have happy endings: Twisted Tales from Oona's Childhood #1

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess with long curly hair as dark as the night sky, eyes as bright as stars, lips as red as blood, and skin as pale and flawless as freshly fallen snow. Her smile was as bright as a full moon, and her laughter chimed like the gates of heaven opening. She was charming and priceless.

Sadly, her life was a different thing all together. As light and wondrous a spirt as she was, Oona lived behind tall, gilded gates within a dark, tall mansion with no windows and only doors, all barred from with. Everything in her life was silence and shadows.

Her only playmates were her mom, a beautiful, failed princess in her own right, and the pale-skinned, mute thralls. To say she was bored would be an understatement. Still, Oona skittered, skipped, and explored the locked confines of her domain. Often though, the only game worth playing was bounce the ball off the thrall. Not a very fulfilling thing to do, but they did make such silly thumping noises.

But as with all such stories, even ones as quiet and dark as Oona's was up to this point, a shadow descended upon her life. Oona's father had returned, and the world tilted. Oona's mom faded to the point it was hard to tell her from a ghost. The thralls seemed to meld into the very stone of the walls in attempts to escape notice. But Oona, she was oblivious to it all with the naïve glee of an innocent.

"Father, can I have a pony?"
"No child, we have no place for such a creature in these halls."
"But father, I am soooo bored!"
"So be it child. Thrall! You shall now be my child's pony."

And Oona had her pony. But as with all such dark gifts, it turned foul and rotted. The "pony" galloped and frolicked at first. But as the days progressed her new pet began to falter, and finally move no more. Then one day the "pony" was gone.

"Father, it so hard to see you clearly."
"Come here child, and look closely upon me. You can see into the shadows for you are mine."
"Oh father what big ears you have," Oona giggled.
"Little one," he laughed, "they are not big, but very sharp for I can hear your heartbeat, and your mother's heartbeat, and even the pretty fishmonger's wife's heartbeat down the street,"
Oona's eyes got big.
A moment later she said, "what big eyes you have father, " and she giggled again.
"All the better to see you in the dark with."
And without a pause Oona said, "what big teeth you have father."
For a moment the silence between them owned the darkness and shadows. Then suddenly they both laughed. Oona hopped away and scampered into the depths of the mansion. She hardly even noticed the tickling in her mind, like the skitter of rats beneath her skull. For the moment, she was happy.

Weeks later Oona asked, "father, I am lonely. Can I have a friend?"
In the a moment of seeming kindness, he said, "yes child."

Within a day or two, a brother and a sister arrived. Frightful, pale children they were. But Oona did not care. For weeks she played with her sullen cohort. Finally, with soft, breathy whispers, her little "friends" confessed, "he bites us, Onna."

She did not believe them, and ran off into the shadows. Oona played with no one the rest of the day. That night she approached her father with her usual carefree swagger and challenged her father, "my friends call you Mr. Bitey, father." Darkness filled the room like ink. The feeling of rats scrambled across the edge of Oona's mind again. She screamed and fled as fast as her little feet would take her.

Then there were no more friends. No more jokes. Nothing. All Oona had left was solitude and silence. Days later, her father left.

"Oona, you have offended your father," said her mother.
"Why? How?" Asked Oona.
Oona's mother looked sadly upon her daughter and said in a quiet voice, "leave it be Oona. You have done what is done. From now on, you need to be unseen and unheard. Do not tempt your father's ire, and whatever you do, leave his things and places alone. Especially, Oona, never touch the cellar door."

Within the hour, she opened the cellar door. And she saw,... the sky.

Now Oona understood. The world snapped into focus, forever.

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Here’s my thing: outwardly religious people bore me. I know, Saunders and I have been hanging around with an Oracle and an Inquisitor for the last few weeks; but they don’t preach at me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell). So when the group decided to start listening to (and trying to make sense of) the street preachers and doomsayers that have been cropping up lately, I kind of found some other fish to fry; but when Nina sent word that the group was going to check out the old clock tower in Underbridge I thought we’d better hustle over there.

As we came up the street toward the crumbling, dilapidated public menace we could hear sounds of a commotion from within; and as we carefully made our way up the steps to the door, Kelyn burst out at a dead run. He threw himself down the broken stone steps with total abandon, never even glancing our way. I was rather amazed that he didn’t break his neck falling over all the ankle-rollers, but he reached the bottom and continued on up the street, the very caricature of a person in the grip of a magickal fear effect. Uh oh.

Saunders settled his shield, drew his sword and stepped in front of me; I did a couple of quick protective spells, laid an enhancement on my musket, and we stepped over the threshold. It was dim inside but we could make out a towering boney figure dripping gore, apparently just finishing stepping out of some sort of skin-suit. Memories of childhood stories about the Scarecrow flitted through my mind as Huge faced off against the thing. Whatever this thing was, it wasn’t the Scarecrow anymore; it had all the same earmarks of “modification” as the demon-ghouls we fought up at the Kaijitsu manor, and seemed to be cloaked in swirling necromantic shadows. Demon. Immune to electricity, resistant to fire and cold, maybe acid too; most of my spell repertoire went right out the window. So, as the others gathered around to do their thing to this new abomination, I hit it in the face with a Mudball spell.

The others had the opportunity to close in and get in some blows, but I could tell that there was some sort of retributive and regenerative effect to the shadows surrounding the thing. In seconds, it shook its head and cleared the mud from its eyes. It gave me a malevolent glare from across the room, and did a spell—suddenly everything in the tower, all the piles of junk, an old wagon, a cracked fallen bell, some sort of little animal skeleton—everything was falling upward, including us and the demon. As luck would have it, we only fell a short distance to the first ring of stairs and in a ballet-like exhibition of coordination, each and every one of us landed on our feet. The demon ended up on the next ring of stairs, about twenty feet farther “down” than us, but all the other trash and flotsam (including, gruesomely, the gobbets and fragments of the demon’s skin-suit) “fell” about sixty feet and came to rest out in the tower’s central shaft. Just to make sure, I leaned around the stairs I was standing on and sent an Acid Arrow at the creature (no effect, drat!).

Huge blinked back into contact with the monster, and Oona demonstrated a remarkable amount of agility as she flipped herself out into space and tried to grapple the demon as it fought him. The thing simply swatted Oona away, and she continued falling into the debris. Vex used his little flying-squirrel “wings” to glide down to help Huge, while I tried a little ranged Vampiric Touch… and missed. Embarrassing. The demon glared at me again and vanished. It took a second to find it again, another sixty feet “down” and across the tower from us. I glanced at the debris field (with Oona desperately trying to swim in midair) floating well “above” the demon and squinted in appreciation. It was clinging upside-down to the stairs, beyond the region of reversed gravity, hoping we would teleport or blink over to it and the fall helplessly back into the debris at the edge of the gravity field. Tricky!

Ducking past Saunders for a moment, I stepped over to Lugh with Saunders in tow, and asked, “do you want to be there?” indicating the demon with a gesture. His look of, “Duh!” was enough, and I Dimension Doored the three of us to the proper side of the stairs, just above the clinging monstrosity. Huge did likewise (Macer teleported to the wrong side of the stairs, silly boy, and fell back into the debris) with Vex in tow, and they went to work. In moments the demon shut off the gravity field and teleported again, and this time was nowhere to be found.

I considered it a minor miracle that the stairs hadn’t collapsed under us, and Saunders and I began carefully finding our way back to the floor; several of the others continued up the tower (flying for the most part, they aren’t THAT stupid). By the time Saunders and I reached the ground, they had returned with a tale of yet another demon-construct trapped on the roof, this one a Marilith (!!!). Our Liche buddy has been busy, and I’m so very glad that we elected for discretion in dealing with him.

Turns out that the gang had another lead to follow up, this time with a Sczarni gang, the Creepers, who seem to be hanging out at the Gull piling. We headed back out into town, collecting Kelyn in the process, and found a convenient dock to launch someone’s folding boat (the stuff these guys keep around in one or another portable hole is just astounding). Kelyn and Lugh sailed us in a circuitous route around the bay while Huge turned into a crow and flew and Vex elected to swim it. I’ve seen fish bigger than him get pulled out of that bay every day for most of my life, but that creepy little beast apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word “fear” (as often as he asks other people and critters he encounters, I’m not sure he knows the meaning of “pain” either. Growing up thinking you’re a dragon has some lasting effects I guess).

We drew the boat up on the blind side of the piling and started making our way around to the (guarded) entrance. Vex popped up and described a “merman” guarding below, and a commotion started up at the entrance—Huge always has to start the show—as one of the guards suddenly decided to take a swim. That guard never made it out of the water: sharks, at least four of them, tore him apart as he tried to climb back out. The rest of us raced to the entrance, and Kelyn and Huge made mincemeat out of the remaining guard.

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Some days, it's just always Monday.

When the bony thing shed the meat suit, an almost palpable wave came off it. My mind went to dark places, and I came back to my wits leaning against a wall near the Bazaar. Had to have been more of the nutjob's sorcery, need to find a better defense. Started back toward the tower and spotted Nina headed my way, happily none the worse for combat. Seems I'm the only doof hit by the spell, but the beast was put down; hopefully it will stay there this time. She spoke of the demon in the chamber above the clockworks, and was concerned the others might not wait.

Hurried back, but ran into the group on their way out. HUGE had hung around and saw that it had been severely fettered by the nut, so it will keep for now. No way something that big can manage those stairs, especially blind. Stopped by the temple(of course)and decided to track down some of the more rabid cultists. HUGE found one leading off a new convert, and followed them as they rowed out to the Gull piling. He returned for us, and without wasting time on a plan, we moved to trap them in their lair.

Along the Dockway, I put the boat in the water, and we moved to approach from a side and avoid lookouts. Spotted someone with a large telescope on top of the next piling, seems to be tracking the comet; something else to check if we find time. Landed on the scree, put away the boat, and moved to the entrance. Vex surfaced to say some kind of fish guy was guarding under water as HUGE appeared behind two guys covering a door at the top of some stairs. As I climbed to assist, he shoved one off into the bay, and drew on the other. This one seems to be a fair hand with a cleaver, and a good deal of blood is spilled. He seemed put out when I ventilated his spleen when he tried to make me shark bait. Where are my manners? Nina had kindly pointed out that several of the local wildlife were moving in, and had gotten to the other guard before he had quite reached the dock. Then the rest arrived and pounded the talented guard before the big guy split him. I always thought it was just a late night drinking story about someone falling in two pieces, but there it was; kind of thing that will bring up yesterdays lunch if your not ready for it.

Well, the sharks are busy and no one's blocking the door; might as well go in. Where the heck is that fish guy?

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Perhaps a bit of clarification is called for. When the thing shed it's covering and stood up, everyone was too busy to notice we were one short. Of course, the boys had charged in, with Oona right along side. She is a dear friend that I have known all my life, but she doesn't always manage to get all her oars in the water at the same time.

Heavily beset on all sides, the creatures next trick was to reverse gravity. As things flew upwards, most of us managed to grab one of the stairs and continue the fight. Some began porting about to close with it, so the bony thing moved above the floating detritus to stand on the underside of a landing. I granted myself flight, and went up to prove it was only resistant to flames. More popping brought people into range, and the bloodshed went on. It was finally rendered to pieces, and the mess raised by it's sorcery crashed to the ground.

Already up here, decided to scout above as the group collected themselves. Birgun returned to crow form and followed. Reached the clockwork room, which showed no sign of recent use, but heard something very large moving up in the statue room. Vanished and coasted slowly up for a peak, thank the Maker for discretion. A Meralith was stretched across the room, focused intently on the wall. I signaled Birgun that it was time to go, but of course he had to prove something by poking around. Passed Lugh on the way back down, telling him of the threat, but he had to be a manly man and continue. Arriving back at ground level, gave a short picture of what waited above, did a quick headcount, and went looking for my partner in crime.

Spotted him near the market, wearing the look he gets when his actions don't rate a lengthy saga, or at least a ballad. It changed to relief as I set down beside him(thank you)and I brought him up to date. We rushed back in case the others decided to go after the demon, but met them coming the other way. Birgun explained the state the lich had left the creature in, apparently another failure abandoned. It should keep while other problems are dealt with.

After a stop by Lugh's temple, we went looking for the cultists. Birgun returned to say one had taken a convert/captive to the Gull piling by boat, and he would return to watch until we arrived. Took Kelyn's boat and approached from an off side to avoid watchers. Landed at the base of the piling, stowed the craft, and moved toward the dock and stairs. Arriving, we see a man launched into the bay as the big guy roars in delight. Vex popped out of the water to say an aquatic humanoid was on watch below before moving to join the fight. As Kelyn climbed up to assist, I noticed several fins moving toward the splashing guard. He finished second in the race, and the sharks celebrated with a messy snack. While watching for the aquatic, heard an odd noise, and managed to dodge aside as parts of a second guard flopped down from above.

Another fine entry, these boys are about as subtle as an auroch in an apothecary.

So as it turned out the shadow was just an effect as the creature was actually almost all bone. Strange runes, much like my scrimshawing, was etched onto the bones. To say it isn’t natural would be an understatement. Before the creature or I could act many of the others began attacking the creature, Vex getting a group of nasty strikes onto its flank. After I hit the creature with my recovered sword I felt a backlash of negative energy that appeared to heal the creature. I believe it was as surprised as I was to know that my armor enchantment was continuing to pay off.

Faced with so many attackers the creature reversed the gravity in the entire bell tower. I landed on the underside of the stairwell leading up into the tower about twenty feet off the floor. The creature another twenty feet beyond. The rest were at the same distance but dispersed about the room. I yelled, “Nice trick!” and then blinked next to the creature and smashed it again with my sword. Vex was making his way over and the creature was not fond of this new predicament. So he teleported further up the tower. Accept the sneaky bastard was trying to lure me into blinking next to him and falling down into the magical field of reversed gravity. Instead I blinked above him and stabbed him through the stairs, all while Vex was clinging to my leg for the free trip. To be honest, I didn’t notice him until after I had arrived, he’s so light weight. Well the creature wasn’t to fond of us getting the better of him and instead teleported away to Gorum knows where.

Checking out the top of the tower with Nina we discovered another construct. Some sort of snake woman with a lot of arms and swords for each one. I say construct because she had stitching along her backside, was missing her eyes and her lips appeared to be sewn shut as well. She reacted to my queries but did not attempt to strike out. She just seemed to listen. Either way, she wasn't going to get down so we left her for a later time. Nina was convinced we should leave it alone as it was a powerful demon.

With that pleasant altercation done with we resumed our initial intent on tracking these cultists to their lairs to stop these ritual murders. We again split up to a degree, watched and waited before we found one of the cult groups taking one of their victims on a boat ride to the Gull piling. Staying in the form of a crow I followed them out and saw that they had a small pier set aside with two guards watching the pier and guarding the only entrance, a stout wooden door. I returned back to the others who were climbing into Kelyn’s magical folding boat and told them what to expect. Vex had apparently swam ahead of the main group and was probably at the piling already. So I returned and found a small ledge to sit on and wait for the others to arrive at the back side of the piling.

As they began pulling themselves out of the boat onto the pier I landed behind the two guards, shifted back and gave one of them a good shove, directing him to a watery landing. Hopefully by the time he got out of the water I would be finished with his friend. As it would turn out, I was wrong on both counts. The other guard was much like the door he guarded and very stout. He was also quick and began gutting me like a fish. If it wasn’t for the others arriving I’m certain I would have fallen. At least the finishing strike was a satisfying hit, I made two halves. The other guard never made it out of the water, as sharks had arrived and made quick work of him, filling the water with blood and driving the sharks into a feeding frenzy. I was so excited at seeing the sharks and how they worked I didn’t realize that I was adding to the bloody water as I hadn’t healed my wounds. Still though, I’m pretty sure I can shift into a shark now. So I have that going for me. Wonder what wonders are in the piling?

So, the guards were a pushover. While Huge was engaged with watching sharks tear a man to pieces (while wearing a sappy smile. Huge, not the ripped to shreds fellow), Kelyn produced a skeleton key and opened the door to the piling in short order. He and Huge stepped inside to the sounds of child-like singing; there seemed to be a bunch of kids playing in the entryway. Well, it turned out that they weren’t little kids, they were miniature harpys. I’m not sure if they were worse than little kids, but they were certainly tougher and their song seemed to fascinate Huge. Two of the little beasts started to lead him away as the rest of us engaged with the remaining horde.

Did I mention they were tough? It was taking a considerable time to hack our way through the flock; in the meantime Vex managed to snap Huge out of his fascination but the two critters leading him off didn’t seem to notice. They opened a secret door to another chamber (occupied by a desk and a human who seemed vaguely familiar), and Huge followed them inside where conversation ensued. Here’s my thing: if some of the group is fighting, it’s a little annoying when someone else who should be fighting too is holding a powwow with a bureaucrat behind a desk, so I decided to shut the guy up (couldn’t do much about Huge after all) and hit him with a ranged Ghoul Touch. He got a little smelly, but the only one of us affected by it was Vex and I’m not certain that he has a sense of smell. I had just intended to break up the chat for a few seconds, but Vex took advantage of the paralyzed condition of the fellow to slit his throat from ear to ear, and then turn the corpse to clean bones (shudder). That knife of his REALLY worries me.

After finishing off the harpys, we took stock and located two more secret doors; one with a stairway going up and one with a stairway going down. The party promptly split, and I got a little petulant, saying “guys, which way are we going? Do you really think we should split up?” The stairs down led to a room with a pool of water, the stairs up led to a door (which Macer announced in a loud voice while standing in front of). Crap. Saunders and I headed upstairs, just in time to see the door opened from the other side, and Macer vanish. Is there anyone in this group that can’t teleport on their own? Sometimes I feel like a fifth wheel; but then again, I haven’t been blamed (so far) for missing the destination by a few hundred miles. Anyway, I stepped around Saunders to the door, and saw a very LARGE room, completely FILLED with cultists at their church service, complete with recent human sacrifice on the altar. I admit it, I panicked. I didn’t even raise my rifle as I cast a Cone of Cold into the room; as far as I could tell, it caught everyone inside. Then Saunders grabbed me from behind and pulled me back as others rushed past. Kelyn, Nina and Vex for sure; I guess Huge is still downstairs…

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Another fine bit of work.

After our altercation with the bouncers, a few minutes were taken to gather up and reattach various bits and pieces. While HUGE was engrossed with shark fest, I went to work on the door. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to shield it from outside access, so the work was moving slowly. The crowd around me on the landing was getting restless, and as various sarcastic comments came up from below, I assured them that I was using the "good key". At which time the lock clicked, and the door was open; nothing to worry about there.

Walked into a small room with a half dozen kids sitting on the floor, playing game of marbles. As I began to inquire about their clubhouse, found myself suddenly facing a wall of angry. My keen senses informed me all was not quite right, as two were hovering at head height, and most of them were sticking sharp metal bits into me. As a pool formed around my feet, the room got tighter as the group packed in and laid into the miscreants. More sorcery, some in the back are singing as we chop away. HUGE moved to block their exit, but doesn't seem his usual, bloody self. Oona developed sudden maternal instincts and cleft one of the flyers to her breast; doesn't seem like the time or place for that sort of thing. As carnage continues, start thinning them out, and they break for the next room.

A guy behind a table is saying something about rowdy customers as the group finishes off the runt "harpies". The shooter seizes him up with a spell, and the whole place reeks horribly; again with the feces? Nina murmured "Edwin?" as Vex jumped on the table, stabbed the guy(reducing him to a pile of clean bones), and turned with a grin from earhole to earhole. I'm sure he didn't have anything interesting to say.

Macer led the way through a secret door one of the runts opened, to stairs going up the piling. HUGE found another that leads down, and went hunting. I commented on our past success with this tactic, and a few turned back to follow HUGE; he's very focused once he gets started. About then, Macer yelled down that there was a door at the top of the stairs, and some of us turned again to go up and support the fight that was sure to break out.

Arrived to find the old guy pulling the shooter from the door. She had unleashed a cold blast into a church service, but since they are heavily armed cultists, not likely to file complaints with the city guard. Moved into a room Full of nuts to see Macer grappling their leader by the altar. There are casters in here, but can't pick them out of the crowd. Nina has flown up to support from the doorway(very tight stairs) and we're making room to get more of us in.

There's only several dozen of them, how hard can it be?

Turns out there wasn't much. By the time I made it to the top of the stairs and into the room I saw a bunch of winged creatures. Not really sure what they were but when I finally remembered why I was in there Vex was standing in front of me, most of them were dead and my blade was dry. Stupid mind altering magics.

I took my revenge on one that thought it was leading me somewhere. Needless to say it was surprised at my sudden betrayal and tried to run. Following it into another room beyond I was greeted by seeing an older Edwin Aclips. The face was unmistakable to me but I was not recognized. Edwin was one of the kids that would run with Epher, Bags and Felu at times. He lived in Underbridge and was one of the punks that we didn't always get along with.

As I continued my slow advance into the room trying to keep the fleeing creature close I looked at him and said, "Edwin. Edwin Aclips."

"Yes? Who are you? What is going on? Are you a dissatisfied customer?"

"Edwin. Don't make me chase after you. Because if I do, I'm using the sword. Its best for you to just remain right there." I punctuated the point by striking down one of the fleeing creatures.

It was about then that Vex tumbled past and onto the table that a confused looking Edwin was standing behind. Kelyn and Nina had also entered into the room and I think I heard recognition in Nina's voice. Problem was one of the creatures was making his way to an area of the room that must contain a door and so I had to make sure its retreat was cut off. Just as I was helping to finish the creature off with Kelyn's help I saw Edwin go stiff as a board and Vex slit his throat. Before his corpse could hit the floor, the magics of the dagger took hold and left him a skeleton.

To say I was displeased would be an understatement. First he was no threat, second he might have had some parting information we could have used.

Regardless it was useless to complain about it now. It was sad to see that some of the members of our group had grown dark over the last year. Killing was becoming a casual response inflicted for any slight. A creeping thought began to enter my mind if I should continue to remain. The loss of Felu because of her exposure to Sam's families proclivities. Who knew how long before Oona truly lost it.

Shaken from my momentary distraction of thought the others had found two doors. One led up which most of the group was moving towards and one leading down that Atz had found. Seeing that Macer and Lugh had already began their trek up the stairs I went to watch our rear and look down the stairs. I was immediately met with protest from Emma's bodyguard, Emma and others. I ignored them. By Gorums codpiece there's enough of us to go around and the tunnels were too small to maneuver in. Even Vex would have difficulty.

I went down two levels while Atz remained at the first landing and came to a door. Opening it I found a large room with a pool. The smell of salt water was strong and I wonder if there was an underwater entrance into the piling. Vex had mentioned that he had seen some underwater humanoid as he approached the piling and perhaps this is how he/she/it got in. Vex and a few others had joined me. Apparently, my dissension drew people from upstairs back down. I smirked at that.

Then I began hearing shouts from above and everyone rushed out of the room behind me. I was about to slowly follow but thought I should wait just in case. After waiting a few seconds I was about to leave when I heard the muffled noise of something opposite of the wall in front of me. Even thought it was muffled there was the sound of concern and surprise. The only way to them would be through the water and a plan began to form.

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Entering one of the columns with nearly the same group of friends, but more than 10 years later, was a strange feeling for me. My mind ran back through our first experience as we fumbled through the dark and found the dried pieces of the giant spiders and eventually disturbed something that chased us out of the pillar, running scared like only little kids can accomplish.

This time, it was different in that we were now young adults and we had a real purpose and real weapons and skills.

We fought our way through a group of harpies that appeared as little children. (somewhat disturbing considering our past adventures in a similar location...)

We eventually reached a room where the others told me they had found Edwin Aclips, yet another tie to our childhood adventures. Evidently he did something that angered Vex and Vex struck him down. His dagger's "special" ability activated and left nothing but a pile of bones behind.

At this point I entered the doorway to the left and went up the stairs until they reached a landing with a closed door. I yelled down to the others who were still in the room below to tell them what I had found. At that time, the door opened and I saw a large room that appeared to be some type of religious sanctuary filled with people and other things that were all observing a ceremony of some type that involved a sacrifice.

Seeing that the others were running up to follow me, I activated my teleportation helm and appeared behind the startled priest at the altar and grabbed him from behind, pinning his arms in an attempt to stop the ritual. I was immediately struck by mind-altering suggestion spells that caused me to lower my sword and nearly forget my purpose. I fought these feelings and managed to keep a hold on the priest and wrestle him to the ground.

Definitely the party of the season for these reprobates.

Macer continued to wrestle with the head priest(not much of a fight, thought the leader would be more impressive) as Vex threatens the main group. With a quiet warning to Vex, Nina takes the chill out of the air with a quick Fireball; and takes most of the crowd out of the crowd. With room to work, the little guy goes after one of the two "people" on the side platforms. They choose to be difficult and fly up to one side of the chamber, and proceed to unload spells on us.

After some pedestrian work clearing out the cultists(not the killers we expected, more like dilettantes), I join the new kid pot-shoting the fliers. Nina tried a few spells, but wasn't getting past resistance. The big one tired of this, and dominated her to take out Vex. He kept his composure, and broke the enchantment with his knife. Then the new kid was taken and told to drop Nina. Oona was less than subtle helping the old guy subdue her, some bad blood sure to come from this.

Nina added some dimension to the dance by making Vex fly, that is one happy dragon. I followed soon after to assist and flank. The two demons(?) showed typically poor form by porting to parts unknown, didn't even wait for the song to end.

We have a former head priest and one of the cultists to talk with. Not real sure what was going on, or where that hole in the floor goes. Also, where the heck is HUGE? Just not like him to miss a lively scrap, must be the usual "something else going on" that I missed in the excitement.

So, I did the Cone of Cold thing and nobody dropped. Others sprint past and go to work on those in the room, and the crowd started doing their impression of panic. These were definitely not the crazed cultists that I was expecting. Macer seemed to be engaged with tying up the priest at the far end of the room, and Nina dropped a fireball in the middle, resulting in a whole lot of half-frozen crispy cultists; two of whom flew up on one side of the room.

I heard one of the fliers Dominate Nina (uh-oh, not that crap again. I've heard the stories about Sam), so I sent a mudball his way. I can't help it, it's the single most amusing spell I know. The target wiped the gunk out of his eyes and spoke to me in an incredibly beautiful and reasonable voice, "Shoot the flying woman until she dies."

So, I shot Nina. It's a good thing the caster was so specific, otherwise things might have turned out much worse for her. As I went to reload, Saunders stepped up and took my musket away, ever the practical minimalist, and then Oona punched me in the ear and the lights went out...

The plan came to fruition when I saw the form of the fish man that Vex had talked about swimming up the shaft. The creature was a sahuagin, which is why there were sharks. What was more important was a slowly sinking corpse trailing what I can only assume to be blood. Submerging myself slowly into the water I moved under the wall and found another chamber on the other side.

There were two doors on small landings opposite each other and on the opposite side of the room from me. The sahuagin was still in the water on the right side of the room. I slowly swam over to the left landing and pulled myself out of the water. By the time I pulled myself out the sahuagin was gone. I can only assume he had swam down a underwater tunnel that ran in between the two rooms to what I can only assume would be to an external exit/entry point.

Inside the room I found what was probably its nest. A small stagnant pond with a pile of rocks and junk in the center of it. The room smelled of stagnant sea water and general foulness. So nothing of importance to me. Moving back onto the landing a quick spell to increase my jumping ability later I attempted to leap to the other landing twenty feet away. I missed. The lack of an area to run made it difficult. Regardless I managed to climb up onto the landing without any difficulty.

Moving to the door I had to force it open. There was someone hiding in the room and was trying to keep it closed. The force with which I opened the door sent the man flying. I could tell the room was dark and he was scared since he couldn't see. Thankfully, I was able to see using my true sight.

"Who are you and why are you here?" I asked. The terrified man said "Haugen?" which meant the king snatcher was somewhere around here. I repeated the question, a little more forcefully this time. He gave me some irrelavent name and said he was here for the ritual upstairs. Since I knew the others were in combat upstairs and that they were followers of Shax who were taking someone to sacrifice this meant this man meant nothing, unless he was armed.

"Are you armed?" I asked, hopefully. "No." he said. "Pity." I replied. "So is the fish guy gone?" he asked. "Lets find out." and I grabbed him. Dragging him to the door I opened it and found that the pool was full of sharks eating the bodies of two floaters. "You followers are a blight on Magnimar and should be purged." With that I shoved him into the water, accidentally hitting the sahuagin with the man.

As the creature shoved the man off him and to the sharks I apologized to the creature. He turned to me and said in a broken common, "no you not." I replied calmly that yes I was. "You not from here." it spoke back. "No I am not. My friends and I are here to clean out the skum above."

Well apperntly he did not like that response because he swam over and through his trident into me, biting deep into my thigh. "You ought naught have done that." as I stepped up and drove the greatsword down twice into the creatures shoulders and arms. He attempted to grab me I assume to pull me into the water, the attack was hasty and provoked a lethal response as I bit deep into his skull and took a chunk of the fin on its head off. That attack drove it off as it swam away in fear.

I pulled the trident out and snapped it in half and then leaped over to the other landing. This time I managed to make the jump without any difficulty. I decided to check this things nest out more carefully and see if I could find anything important. I found several small baubles and a nice ring. All of it went into my belt pouch for later examination. Moving back out onto the landing I debated killing the sharks and checking their bellies to see what was eaten, but to be honest I rather enjoyed the idea that followers of Shax were being eaten alive by sharks.

I wrestled the priest to the floor just as a fireball exploded overhead, killing many of the worshippers that were already wounded from the cold spell that had previously swept through the room.

Vex and several of the others engaged two of the enemies who had survived the killing spells and retreated up in the air near the wall of the chamber. It seemed they had a pitched battle happening but I missed most of it as I tied up the priest and made sure he was unable to cast any additional spells using a cloth gag over his mouth.

By the time I stood up, the room was cleared of all but a few enemies near the door where I had entered. The flying enemies had disappeared using spells to escape.

I grabbed the bound priest and drug him back toward the center of the room to where most of my companions waited. It looks like we have someone to question who should be able to shed some light on the various cult activities happening in Magnimar.

I just noticed one other thing. Birgun still isn't here. It's not like him to miss a fight, so we should probably go look for him.

I woke up to a terrific headache and Saunders sprinkling water in my face. I think Atz was actually chaffing my hands. I stood up with a little help, and Saunders asked if I was OK; other than the headache, yes, can I have my musket back please? I'm going to have to find some way to repay Oona for that little love-tap.

The "chapel" being empty, we closed the door and headed back downstairs. Saunders told me we were looking for Huge, who still hadn't shown up. Back down to the reception room, out the other secret door and down some more (is that salt water I smell? Oh, my head!), around a corner, up some stairs and around another corner... and the cat-b#$$+ Nina is RIGHT THERE. Sounds of a fight and little kids sobbing in the room ahead as I begin to reload, and Saunders took my gun. Again. Can't you see that she has to die, you silly man? We start to wrestle for the weapon as others slipped past into the fray. Suddenly my hands were pinned and Saunders was stuffing a rag in my mouth. It didn't matter much since all that was coming out at that point was inarticulate screaming. Just one good head shot is all it would take (maybe dump a spell to add a little flaming burst; cat-b@!&& likes fire)...

So rather than being unconscious with another lump on my head, Saunders trussed me up like a turkey and LEFT ME lying in the corridor. There was shouting in the room ahead, crackles of electricity and screams of dying children, I could hear Huge cursing as apparently someone got away again, and then Atz protesting about being let go until his voice was choked off. I guess somebody got Dominated and Saunders had another bit of filthy rag handy.

Uh-oh. Cat-b&%@~ came around the corner and stepped toward me. I was looking daggers at her (all I could come up with) as I expected to die, but all she did was a targeted dispel... oh crap. Nina, I am so sorry! Saunders was allowed to untie me and we started heading back out shepherding a herd of surviving, sobbing children. Smelly little creatures, it's hard to believe I was ever like that. We crammed all the kids into the pool room, and Vex activated a switch on the first landing. A door pivoted to open the stairway up to the reception room, and Vex immediately switched it back. Bad guys, stacked in the stairwell.

New plan. Huge, Kelyn and Nina would stay here and fight their way up (hopefully), while I teleported Saunders, Vex, Macer and myself to the corner of the room behind them. Unfortunately, I missed a bit and we wound up back in the chapel. Back down the stairs with Vex and Macer in the lead only to find that the reception room packed with an acre of armored Sinspawn swinging bastard swords. I didn't have a clear field to use my last couple of damaging spells, so I had to resort to rays to weaken Macer's immediate opponents. We were fighting our way out, but this was taking a lot longer than expected...

I watched the show for a few minutes before I cast Iron Skin on myself and jumped into the water. None of the sharks attacked me as they were enjoying the two corpses plus the individual I tossed in. After making it to the other room I crawled out and left through the door expecting to reach more stairs going up at the first landing and instead it was stairs leading down. Moving down the stairs I continued to turn until I came to a door which I opened. The interesting thing was the door handle was almost six feet off the floor, about four feet higher than it should be, the door though was normal height. Opening it I found myself looking into a large room.

The room was full of hunkered down children in bunks. They were obviously the children who have been snatched over the years. All of them boys and I could tell they have been staying here for a while as the smell was strong. At the far end of the room was a door and I could hear talking. Listening in I could hear a shrill voice, so I tried to open the door and found it locked. The people went silent on the other side so I knocked. "I know you are in there. I can come through the door if you'd like, and I would almost prefer it."

I heard movement as someone came to the door and as I saw wings I swung. The harpy died before it could utter a shriek. Standing in the room was Haugen, three odd looking hounds, a now dead harpy and the two succubus' that we have encountered over the past year. Knowing of their ability to control ones mind, I stepped back around the door of the room and drank a quick potion to protect me from evil. The two succubus' flew out of the room and I took an attack on them. The smaller one screamed at me that "I, Lelyrian, am not amused!"

I thanked her for finally telling me her name but I told her I was going to kill her to get to her boss who was now hiding behind her. Moving up I swung and hit her very hard, cleaving into her wing but not killing her. She backed away and dropped some sort of vial that produced a shadowy looking pale armored woman. Stepping up I finished her off after a few spells washed over me. I took a swing at the undead woman and missed. Then I felt a spell that caused me to be blind. Annoying but I wasn't going to be deterred.

As I continued to press my attack I could here the sound of more people arriving. I assumed it was the succubus summoning in more people. "Fine, you outnumber me two to one and have to summon in more while I'm blind. I'm game!" Then I heard Keyln's voice saying they were busy upstairs killing a bunch of people. Oh, well then, now its shifted from a glorious combat to just a mediocre dog pile. The only satisfaction that will come from this is the pleasure in finally killing this demon. I just had to hack my way through this undead woman. Sadly the blindness was making it difficult, but not difficult enough. I managed to kill her with one of my swings and during this fight the succubus once again escaped. Frankly I wasn't as mad as the others at this as I wanted to kill her and see her face when I did so.

With the threat down I turned and slowly found my way back towards the door with the intention of catching that bastard Haugen. I heard Vex move ahead of me and fiddle with the lock, I told him to step aside and attempted to kick the door down. Instead I jarred my knee something fierce. While I was rubbing my knee Nina came up behind me and with magics was able to restore my vision. By then Vex had opened the door and Kelyn had stepped in and killed one of the hounds. I then moved in and killed another with Kelyn finally killing the last hound.

"Bastard ran, there's a secret door in here somewhere." Looking about I was unable to find it after searching for a while. So we turned to leave and told the kids to grab up their belongings and that we were leaving. One of them asked if Haugen was dead and I replied that he escaped. After that the kids wouldn't budge from their bunks, their fear of Haugen greater than our group. Not wanting to have to deal wth placating a bunch of scared children I instead intimidated them into moving by yelling, "NOW!" and was pleased at the results as the children sprinted from the room.

Herding them back into the pool room Vex showed me some lever to throw to alter the flow of stairs from down to up. When he did so he could see a hoard of creatures wielding broadswords moving down the stairs. So we formulated a plan to teleport a group of us behind them and I would lower the stairs fighting them up the stairs. Turns out the creatures were called sinspawn and turned out to be rather strong, and a whole lot of fun. With a constant stab and step we slowly carved our way into the main room with the children slowly following.

We regrouped in the chapel and then headed downstairs to find Birgun. I brought up the rear, pushing the bound priest in front of me so I could keep an eye on him.

We ended up following more stairs down into a level below where we had entered. It was here that we saw a pool of water and then heard sounds of combat from the next room. We moved into the room and found it filled with young children who looked to be in bad shape, as if they had been mistreated and malnourished.

Beyond the children, we found Birgun fighting a succubus and some other female figure swathed in shadows. As the group joined the battle, our combined force drove off the succubus who once again escaped using some type of portal spell. However, during the fight, the priest I had taken prisoner was killed by a spell from the enemy. Oh well, I guess we won't be able to question him after all.

Birgun told us there was another man named Haugen in the next room, but when we entered the doorway we found only an empty room. Birgun griped that he must have escaped and there must be a hidden exit. We searched unsuccessfully and eventually decided to head back out and take the children with us.

Our way back up the stairs was blocked by a hoard of sinspawn who were wielding swords, so Emma suggested that part of the group teleport upstairs behind the enemy to gain an advantage. Vex and I volunteered to go with Emma and Saunders and quickly found ourselves back up in the chapel. We charged down the stairs and attacked the sinspawn from behind, gradually hacking our way through them toward the second stairway where our friends waited below.

We finished the last of the Sinspawn in the room (and even drew a few up from the stairway) before Huge and the others managed to fight their way up. I had to do a little maneuvering of my own once we forced the doorway, but I guess the creatures didn't see me as much of a threat compared to the bruisers swinging swords (and the hyperkinetic lizard with the dagger). Good thing, since it allowed me to get into position to use my last couple of lightning bolts without endangering my companions. I almost got Huge with one, but a quick sidestep on my part kept him out of the effect.

Huge was grinning ear to ear, in a better mood than I had ever seen him. I think I heard him bellow something about the "best day EVER!" as the last of the Sinspawn fell. The rest of us were about to breathe a sigh of relief when four demon-shadows showed up and the fight went on. I actually got hit by one of them (not very hard, thank goodness) before we managed to bring them down, and we hadn't lost a single kid (other than the ones that got fried down in the barracks). We gathered them up and headed for the way out, as I hoped there would be enough room in the boats.

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How the heck did I end up back in Magnimar? Last I remember, we were hip-deep in sin spawn, fighting for our lives. Got to find another line of work where things aren't always hitting me in the head, could lead to permanent injury.

Seems the spawn were slowly ground down, some shadow demons were dealt with, and several of the kids were returned to Underbridge. One misses quite a bit when suffering a concussion. We were walking the bazaar, replacing supplies, when the others started appearing from the crowd. Something had given Atz an interesting box, a "gift" to the "Dark Slayers"(?) for their fine work. We have a name? When did that happen? Don't remember any meetings or votes, who decides this stuff? Oh yeah, the box.

Magical, possibly an extra-dimentional space. The new kid says the marking is of an important family down in the Mawangi. Never been there, pretty sure the others haven't either, so it's probably a trap. Don't see any of the usual triggers, so I pop it openWHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?!?!?!? Some kind of snake-thing made out of other snakes with more snakes attached came out and started flailing around. Kept hold of the box as it vented on me(did I mention the head thing?). Amid calls of "construct" and "immune to magic", finally got my weapon out as Nina wisely took a step back. The whole group piled in, and it finally went down. Not quite good enough for Oona, who continued to pound the carcass in an apparent attempt to send it back where it came from. She then sprang up, covered in gore, and began terrorizing the crowd to find the delivery thing. Did I mention we were on the edge of the bazaar, with hundreds of witnesses? Didn't get much; just the usual pointing, whispers, and the rolling of eyes.

After patching up, some of the group went to check out the elemental cultists, while the rest went to talk with the telescope guy out on the piling. The new kid ported a few there, but Nina thought we should just fly. Less chance of ending up in Cheliax, and much more scenic. On arriving, talked with a whole village of people who seem to live in this guys head(wonder if he used to be an adventurer till he took an arrow to the head?). Deciphering the many voices, he says the comet will land in the next day or so, possibly scattered over a large area. The mad glint in his eye tells me this will turn into a scavenger hunt, with thousands of participants. The landing isn't supposed to cause damage or injury, but I fear the slaughter when everyone starts grabbing for parts. Won't be surprised to see stands on every corner selling "pieces of the comet".

Took the box to a local seer, want to get a line on the latest thing that wants to shuffle off our mortal coils. During the reading, the man went catatonic and slid from his chair. At the same time, Nina got a vision of the succubus, but couldn't tell where it was. The thing must have been trying for an easy kill, or at least to send us south while it searches the bushes for terrasque eggs. Makes sense, the broad's been part of every bad thing happening; need to end that one real soon.

A false trail of us sailing for the south was laid, and we went into disguise. Staying at various inns and laying low while researching and equipping. So, what IS the best method of collecting scattered artifacts while avoiding dismemberment at the hands(claws/tentacles) of hordes of others doing the same thing for all the wrong reasons?

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Hello? (tap, tap, tap) Is this thing on? Where the heck is everyone?

Spent more time searching for a direction to start, even a vague one. The geezer pointed at the map and started going on how he saw a face in the local terrain, the center/nose being the Lurkwood, NE of Riddleport. While this seemed to be coming in from way out in the cheap seats, it has been my experience that the gods have odd senses of humor(along with infinite cosmic power) and are much more survivable when you play along. A quick count of hands, we're going for a boat ride.

HUGE contacted his cousin(the one with the brand new ship) while others picked up a few supplies. A short stroll to the docks and we were getting settled for a cruise north. Thought I might lend a hand on the way, but everyone seems busily competent and I'm just in the way. Only diversion is to watch the comet get closer, we seem to be racing to the point of impact. A day or two out, it blasts apart and rains debris over a wide area. Unfortunately, our transport is targeted by several pieces and there are casualties. The wounded are fished out of the drink, the dead are left where they sank(these Northern guys aren't much for sentiment), and we continue on.

Passing Riddleport, we can see that the town has suffered damage, and much traffic headed inland. I can also see signs offering "pieces of the comet" for sale(did I call it, or what?), these guys work fast. Traveling upriver, we get the feeling large numbers are moving, all looking for their piece of the pie. No contact with any of the groups, I'm catching up on my reading. We land at a bend in the river, south of the woods, and prepare for our hike. HUGE changed into an eagle and flew off towards the mountains, don't remember hearing any plan. The group bustles along; tracking, identifying things, being generally industrious. We continue to be fifth wheels and follow along in the wake of all this activity.

End of the first day finds us in the woods marking the foothills of our target area. No sign of any other mobs, but set watches on our camp; no reason to be sloppy. Also, no sign of HUGE. Towards morning, we hear strange voices approaching camp, and others rousing. Stepping out, I see several demons(Nina confirms they are Nabaazu) talking with Lugh, who ISN'T attacking them maniacally. To make it more confusing, they say their boss sent them to touch base with Lugh, get things arranged. Names are traded back and forth, we don't seem to know the same creatures as them. Why do I get the feeling we're sitting at the kid's table, and the adults are all doing important things while we just hold our sippy cups? Eventually, they decide to leave, and since there is NO way we're getting back to sleep, we strike tents and head into the mountains.

Guess we'll wonder around for a while, see what we bump into. Don't figure folks looking for pieces of god-weapon are going to be real sociable, but there isn't much else for it. Be nice to find HUGE, but these are some fairly big peaks. The trees are starting to change up here, at least it will be a pretty walk.

It didn't take long before we finished off the creatures and met up with the others in the room where the bones of Ephers dead friend Edwin lied. Just then another two creatures arrived, some sort of demonic shadow but the group removed them from existence rather quickly. From there we used Kelyn's boat and the one left at the pier to ferry the kids back across. I then spent a few hours helping Lugh organize the kids before heading home to rest.

Late in the morning I ran into the rest of the others. Wild tales of a demon box while shopping and conversations with the man on the Irespan with the telescope made Vex commune with tool god Noculus and learned that the comet was sent by him. It was going to break up before striking Golarion and it was an entity and weapon. Whoever constructed the weapon first would control it. The loss of "innocents" as we learned earlier was those of an evil moral background killing in the collection of these parts.

Apparently the demon box was a ploy by one of these morally evil individuals to get us to head to the Mwangi Expanse. So we devised a plan to use magics to make it look like we boarded a ship to head south and away from Magnimar. Instead the others are planning on heading out to collect these parts. Interesting as the idea was to go look for the pieces as it would get me out of the city for a while, the idea of killing some weapon/being was also very appealing. The rumors and calculations listed that one piece would land north of Riddleport near Lurkwood and the Stony Mountains.

Talking with Kriger, the journey should take three days to reach Riddleport, and another few days to reach the western edge of the Lurkwood forest. Gathering his crew and pressganging the rest we set out that afternoon hoping to make as much time as we can. The crew rowed hard and strong with either Kriger or Lugh at the rudder. On the night of the second day the comet reached Golarion and exploded overhead. A small section exploded over the longship knocking a few of us out of the ship and killing two of the crew. Using my ability to shapechange into a shark I was able to help get others to the ship in short order while Kriger and a few of his crew used the temporary patching kits to keep us afloat. During the third day we reached Riddleport. We learned that apparently one of the chunks hit Devil's Elbow which is a little odd since a meteor hit Devil's Elbow a few years back.

We continued up river for another day before landing and making our way to the Lurkwood. Kriger planned on sailing back to Riddleport and meeting us there when we were done. I paid him five hundred gold to give to the crew for their work. Then we began our trek twenty miles into the Lurkwood. I transformed into an eagle and flew ahead with the instructions that I would scout far ahead and meet up with them if I found anything.

I flew for hours without seeing anything. So I landed in a tree and maintained the form while resting for the night. After spending a few hours in the morning relieving myself and getting some food in me I again transformed into an eagle and flew the skies high above the Lurkwood looking for anything obvious. Knowing I was much further than the rest of the group I would be on my own should anything go wrong or if I would find anything.

The next day late in the afternoon I found an area where something impacted the ground with impressive force. Strong enough to clear a large section of forest a mile across. I could see a small camp near the edge of the clearing and a group of men with digging tools near the center of the impact zone digging. So I landed near them but behind enough rubble to not be seen and transformed into an earth elemental. Then using the ability to move through the earth I went to the center of the crater and found a large rock that was easily a few feet around. Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to move the stone in this form so I instead waited near it hoping the men would call it for the night and stop digging. Then I would dig it up myself and leave under the cover of darkness. That didn't happen and they unearthed me so I revealed myself as a earth elemental and then changed back into my normal form. I then told them they were to late and the stone was mine. They didn't accept my claim and instead attacked me with their tools. One of which connected and drew blood. So he died first. In the end, I had to slay four of them in total, one of which was a wizard using a wand of lightning. The other three men ran and apparently disappeared or at least hid within their camp refusing to help their companions.

Once they fell, I used the tools to fully unearth the stone and lifted it from the crater and made my way to the forest where I sat the stone down and healed my wounds. Thankfully no one attempted to take the stone and left me to rest for the night. The next morning I spent an hour tying the stone to the top of my backpack. The weight was substantial, and fairly uncomfortable when the backpack was being carried but thankfully my transformation back into an eagle made it irrelevant. Then it took another day and a half before I made my way back and found the group as they continued on into the forest.

I arrived back to the others and explained what I had done and the group explained some information they learned from some planar visitors that came to their camp a day or so before. To be honest none of it made sense. Something about demons on some plane that are imprisoned and looking for followers to free them, or others that seek them out for knowledge. Including something about one of them being a defiler of religious sites and artifacts, which is something we have experienced in the past with this Sorshen business. There was even some information about four planars that escaped in the past. Regardless we stored the stone I had returned into the portable hole that Vex carried. Vex mentioned that he felt there was another stone to the north and even though he couldn't explain exactly how he knew that, the fact that he has some connection with the bastard that sent the stone gave his statement more weight than anyone else.

That night on the first watch that Macer and I were on we came under the assault of flying boulders. I guess the rock I found had cousins and were coming back for the kin. I had to laugh, even while being pinned under one of the stones. I believe that may have been somewhat disturbing to Kelyn as he was helping to move the stone off my chest. Regaining my feet I moved off into the darkness looking for the culprit who was tossing stones into camp. Using my true vision I found the hill giant and found another boulder as this one hit me in the head rather effectively as my vision swam from its impact. It only took a few swings before it fell dead at my feet. I then moved off further into the darkness looking for more.

Instead I found a woman snake thing. She looked like the creature we found on the top of the Underbridge clock tower, something Nina told me was called a maralith. She asked me to killed Natos. I question to who that was and that I wasn't an assassin. She said it was someone we would meet and shrugged. I then asked her in a threatening manner if the giants were her doing and she shook her head no. Then she disappeared. Returning to camp a while later I told the group about my encounter and found out that Natos was the extra planar that had told the others about what this well of darkness place. Nina was surprised and had that look of terror, to be honest I have now met two of these creatures, granted one was a construct but they didn't seem all that threatening.

I then spent a few minutes helping Lugh heal Macer and then healed myself before resting myself. During our second watch I was awoken to the scream of Nina shouting about "demon." Some pig faced demon with small wings had wandered into camp. Before I was even able to sit up the creature emitted a some magical wave that caused me to become disoriented. I ended up falling asleep after the condition was removed from me. The group managed to fell the creature during my daze.

The rest of the night was uneventful.

Honestly, what is it with the silly names? I know that there are many things out and about, all looking to be the big,bad whatever. In the old tales, a memorable moniker tacked on to something was enough; the Terrible, the Slayer, something that sticks with the average citizen. Now, it's all jumbles of random letters that can't be pronounced, if you can be bothered to remember them. May seem like a small thing to the up-and-coming villain, but it makes for a terrible story; not a good start if you're trying to establish a legacy.

After a mind-numbing session of who is what and works for I don't know, HUGE made it back to camp lugging a boulder he says is part of the weapon. Stored it in the empty hole, talked a bit of the many groups roaming the area, and decided to head north in search of more parts based on Vex's research. Settled for the night, but there was no rest as many small hills started landing among the bedrolls. Managed to get clipped a couple times without seeing the source, so we took off in random directions(tactically sound) to stop them. Ran across a Giant tossing said terrain features, and helped to put it down. Moved to the sounds of scattered combats; six were eventually accounted for, but no clue what led them to us. Until HUGE came back to camp and told of a conversation he had with a Merilith.

Seems to be yet another entity that credits us with way more pull and knowledge of the current happenings. Can understand the general confusion caused by vague portents and stupid names, but would like to point out that we appear to be in the deep end of the cess pit here. Don't have all the details, but I'm pretty sure that thing can make you cease to exist without breaking a sweat. Just saying.

Got in some more reading before going on shift, when a large, bipedal warthog(with tiny wings) stomped into camp. Not much of a conversationalist, it went straight to murder. Will have to take a few liberties when recounting this in the future; hard to paint a heroic picture of people running around in their drawers, swinging anything that came to hand. It was a stout specimen, and took alot of physical persuasion to send it back where it came from.

We knew there would be all manner of creatures hunting for these pieces, but how is it they keep ending up at our camp? Have looked at length for some item that might lead them here, but have had no luck. Will try to close our eyes for a few hours before continuing our trek.

We decided to follow Vex's idea of going north, so I switched into my mastodon form and carrying some of the party we cut west to the edge of the forest and then traveled north. We traveled for a few days before crossing the Lurk river and towards the Red mountains. We encountered a group of mercenaries that were sailing up and down the river. Both asked if we had any luck in discovering any of the meteor fragments. Vex, very convincingly, responded in the negative and why would anyone do that. They seemed to buy that and we began to leave when all of a sudden both ships began attacking each other using higher level magics.

Vex leaped high into the air and landed on the aggressor ship. It would seem that the vessel that was being attacked had found a piece and the other vessels crew were going to attempt to take it. Well, I couldn't let that happen, so I dimensionally hopped over to the boat that was being attacked while in mastodon form. Needless to say the weight of my new form had a desirable effect and beached the small ship since it was so close to shore. I forgot that Atz and Lugh were still riding when I hopped onto the ship. It would appear that the ship was full of followers of Shax as I learned after the conflict. One of the crew, a cleric apparently (again learned this later), attacked Lugh. So I followed Lugh's lead and laid into him with tusk and snout. I impaled him deeply on my tusk and he and some of his crew decided discretion was the better part of valor and teleported away.

Looking about the remains of the ship after the fight we found nothing of import. So if they did in fact have a stone from the meteor, they took it with them when they teleported away. That evening Vex admitted he was still feeling the pull towards the North. The next morning we broke camp and later that morning we came upon a camp that looks to have been attacked by something that dumped an enourmous amount of acid on its occupants. Everyone hopped off and began looking around. I found tracks of someone who moved up to the camp and summoned four individuals in. Emma thinks this was Natos, the one they talked with a few days back, the same one the maralith asked me to kill.

The group then gathered up the belongings of the party they destroyed and it would seem they were superbly equipped. Important note, the equipment didn't help. This looked to be a wonderful encounter in our future and one I was excited to find this Natos.

Well, this is a new one. HUGE seems to carry an inferiority complex, and has been working on his craft. He can now take the form of a mammoth; hair, tusks, the works(still smells about the same). Claims he can carry whole mountains, and it does beat walking everywhere, but still gives me the willies to have the group packed in one place.

Enjoying the ride, we approach a river and spot two ships of treasure hunters. Much yelling(and lying) back and forth about having any luck, and one craft steers for the other. Not to be left out, Vex leapt(!) from HUGE to the aggressor craft. We started bailing to avoid fire, and support at range. People start bamfing around, and HUGE blinks(how does something bigger than the house I grew up in BLINK?) astride the second ship. Much smashing, burning, and crushing; some of the opposition port away(with a piece of the rock?) and we continue.

Came upon a massacre of an adventuring group. Their camp had been hit and all was torn apart; not even sure how many there were. Those who can read such things say it was probably the planars who talked with Lugh some nights back. The high quality of gear just abandoned worries me, HUGE just has that look in his eye.

Further north, guess I nodded off cause suddenly my biscuits are burning and a big lizard is coming back around for his lunch. Takes a few to recover, but we pile in to put this latest problem down. The damn thing has points in every direction, but anger(and numbers) prevail. Would like to find it's hidey hole, but the noise will surely draw many two-legged vermin and we need to be away.

Are the higher powers this hard up for entertainment? If someone has made a deal that's bringing all this down on us, they need to fess up so we can reevaluate our plans, such as they are. Where did I put that burn ointment?

We continued our trek north into the Red Mountains when one afternoon we came under attack by a red dragon. I attempted to run it down when it landed but was rather surprised when all I did was give it a good belly rub. The group managed to drop it after a quick and furious melee and after a few minutes Macer and Saunders returned to the group. The unnatural fear caused them to break, I almost broke and ran as well but Kelyn shouted for me to let him and Nina off and it seemed to break through the fog of its unnaturally evil aura.

After the fight I spent some time healing the injured before shifting into an eagle form and scouted the mountains for its lair. I had heard that dragons had lairs and I imagine Vex would love to get a look at a real dragons lair. Not to mention Macer could actually have the chance at finding a real dragon's egg. After a half hour I found a cave and was positive it was the dragons lair. I also saw a lone human, possibly, walking the mountains. Possibly this Natos individual but I didn't want to tip our hand if it was him.

I returned to the group told them what I found and shifted back into a Mastodon and took them up to the cave. At its entrance we noticed a large of blood, and it was believed to be the dragons blood. So someone must have driven the dragon out. Moving deeper into the cave with light spells we could see that there was more blood and the pile near the entrance was its final resting spot. The further in the cave we went the warmer and more humid it became.

We eventually came to a larger cave that contained a small lake of fire, a pile of gold and another dragon who was the mate of the one we killed. It would appear that someone had killed their young and her mate was out looking for who had done the deed, and assumed it was us. I told her that I thought it might have been the person I saw wandering the mountains earlier. So I offered her a bargain, I told her who I thought might have done it and while she was gone we would have a go at her hoard. She believed we couldn't clear enough of the coin and agreed. So as soon as she left we began moving the coins with shovels and shields into Vex's portable hole. I think I may have surprised a few of the group, mostly Saunders when I pushed a mass amount of coins into the hole with one sweep. As much as I would like say I did it all in one sweep it took almost a half hour to move the coins. In the end we had left and were a few miles from the cave entrance when she returned. She saw us or at least me and fly overhead claiming that the man wasn't the one who had done the deed to which I shrugged. I felt no sorrow or guilt over my misleading direction. If you are going to walk the Red Mountains alone, you deserved what might happen to you.

After another hour or so hiking a few of us spotted a demonic gargoyle, someone that was one of Natos minions. Vex snuck off to get an initial backstab and Emma lined up a shot to anchor him so he couldn't teleport away. Her gun didn't go off and she cursed but Vex still stabbed him anyway. Soon after Vex stabbed it, Oona ran up and kicked the creature breaking its neck. I looked at the creature and could tell that its feet matched the tracks I found at the decimated party from the night before. The odd thing, according to Lugh and Emma, was that it didn't disappear when it died. Something extra planars usually do when they are killed. I couldn't pretend to understand so I just shrugged and nodded. Guess we only have three more of those to kill and Natos. Oh well.

We hiked a little further before deciding to find a place to bed down. I spotted what looked like a small watchpost built into the mountain face. It was almost hidden but through natural stone and looked to be an old dwarven outpost. Everyone found a great spot to bed down for the night and the lookouts were able to sit up on the crenelated tower roof for a very commanding view of the countryside below. The dwarves that built this knew their stuff. There was a carving in dwarven runes above the door listing the watchpost as Onyx. I asked if Vex could sketch the outpost for me as I knew he was an accomplished artist. I figured the dwarves back home in Kalsgard would love to see this.

The next day we began our trek again to the north, Vex pointing to a peak in the distance that looked to be a few days away. That first day we came across another lone humanoid. He was fascinated with "their mount" to which Emma gave several horrible lies to which I shook my head. He introduced himself as Vexacion Drake Shadowsoul. He claimed to be a stranger who passed through a portal and was looking about. Delvahine, a succubus tried to conscript him into her service, he disagreed and left. I gave him a quick geography lesson and pointed him towards Riddleport with instructions to look for my cousin who would take him to Magnimar. He offered a coin to Lugh as a way to find each other in the future and even told a really off color joke. Eventually though we parted ways and continued north.

The rest of the day though went normal and we found our camp for the night. It was another dwarven watchpost, this one though was called Amberspine. On our last watch a group of seven dwarves were spotted approaching the tower and after a quick discourse from Lugh and I they stood down from their defensive nature. We talked for a bit, their wanting us to come with them like they were expecting us. I told them we weren't ready yet and that they were willing to come inside and wait, but it wouldn't be for another few hours. They agreed and so I introduced them to the group and then fell back asleep.

When I awoke one of the dwarves, Otgrer Twilightshaper told us we needed to see the king. We were expected. The kings advisors told him we were coming. A group of men traveling with a kobold. I sure hope this isn't another Fort Donnor. We moved into a tunnel system that was huge. Several dwarves moving up and down the tunnel and they were a little surprised to see a mamoth moving through their tunnels. We eventually came to a palace, or at least what I would expect to be a dwarven palace.

Inside we saw an individual that must be the king, and sitting next to him was a rock that looked like the one I had found. During our introductions they payed special attention to Vex, for some reason. They then explained that their advisors said that the stone from the sky was met for us and they offered it to us with no strings attached. They even wanted to offer us a feast for our visit. Free food and ale, Im in.

We learned that the king was looking for Vexacion instead. So we gave him half of the coin that Vexacion had given us as a way for him to find them when we returned to Riddleport. The evening though was pleasant and comfortable.

While suffering the trials and tribulations of a long campaign, the good things in life can sometimes be overlooked. Our scrap with the scaly beast may have ruined fine clothing, but these lizards tend to hoard a bit of coin. HUGE changed into a hawk, spiraling high above in search of it's lair. He returned and led us to a large cavern, a likely start. Have to keep a close eye on that one. He changes between all these shapes, I worry one day he'll forget where he started, just wander off into the wild, forgetting family and friends.

Moved slowly into the tunnel, finding the blood trail of something large and direly wounded. Came to a large chamber that indeed held a pile of loot, but yet another dragon. Unable to avoid it's senses, we approach and HUGE engages it in conversation. It is the mate of the one who fell upon us, out in search of those who took their offspring(explaining the blood near the entrance). HUGE offered a lone figure he'd seen while aloft, saying it was the demon who had spoken with Lugh(what was it's name, definitely an N-word). The beast flew off in a grief-stricken rage, believing us unable to do serious harm to the hoard. We cleaned up in record time, separating the nicer items from bulk coinage, and went on our way. Won't have a friend if we run across that one again, but seeing as it's red, that probably wasn't in the cards anyway.

Continued into the mountains, staying in some dwarven outposts. Not much on comfort, but fairly secure for sleepovers. At one, we were approached by a dwarf patrol, and after talking, find they are looking for us(is there anyone who doesn't know who and where we are?). Even better, they know we are the group they seek because of our own scaly, Vex. Don't know how this story started, but I've GOT to hear the rest.

Led to a hidden entrance of a large dwarf city. At it's center, we meet with their leaders and advisers for uneasy talks. The seers tell them a piece of the Rock they found should be given to us, to help stop the troubles. Seems more like putting the dead albatross around our neck and sending us on our way.

Again, I need to look at the upside of things; we're in the middle of a major city. What it lacks in sunlight, it more than makes up with soft beds, entertainment, and the lifeblood of commerce. Nothing we like better than stimulating the local economy, our way of holding back the howling darkness(you're very welcome!).

The next day we sold some of the gear we had acquired and used our substantial funds to purchase items of interest. I got a new necklace, a couple of rings, some boots, replaced my belt, a headband and two manuals that showed new exercises that I intend to employ. We spent three days shopping and resting. It was fun and all, dwarves are an interesting race. I understood and got along with them well enough, but they can be difficult to deal with at times. I spent most of the time working on the new, and extremely painful, exercises as well as eating as much meat as I could shovel in my maw. If we were outside instead of underground it would have been my version of a vacation, instead it was just pleasant.

Vex admitted that he was being pulled to the northwest and that it would be a three day journey. It was oddly specific for Vex. I had also purchased a constructed folding howdah and used it to carry the group when we began our trek northwest. That first evening I found a perfect spot to camp and it looked to be an ancient area designed to be just that, or maybe it was a small waystation in the past. The vantage point here was amazing, we could see small lights moving along the river down below. That evening we even saw what looked like a green electrical discharge in the northwest. Unure what that could be but it looked promising to me.

The next afternoon about four hours or so into our trek we came across a kobold who was hiding in the brush. Vex agreed to go along with him for some reason and the rest of us made camp for some reason. I shifted out of the mastodon form and continued reading and practicing the new exercises. I imagine a few of them enjoyed watching me grimace every so often. I will admit that they seemed to be working, the howdah wasn't uncomfortable and I barely noticed it on my back. There were areas that the straps would cause some chafing and irritation but that was it. After a few minutes we decided to follow after him and it didn't take long before we came to the entrance of a kobold warren. Everyone took up position around the entrance and waited. I spent the time reading my manual.

After sitting there for an hour or so we saw the kobold that Vex had spoken with exit the warren. He wasn't covered in blood, he wasn't running in fear and I had to believe Vex was okay. He took only a few steps before Lugh had cast a spell that held him fast. Kelyn swooped in on his flying carpet and whisked him away. Lugh and the others interrogated the creature but left him alive. Just when we thought about going in, Vex came running out. He claimed to have rescued the princess. I had no idea what he was talking about. When I asked where the rock was he just did that evil little grin that made me realize the little bastard had duped us all. He then opened up his portable hole and standing in the giant pile of coins was a dwarven woman. I overheard something about a princess. Confusion and anger all in one. That little black winged lizard.

Back in mastodon form, howdah in place we began our trek back to the city. At least we have been outside this whole time. I have that going for me. That night while camping we witnessed a horde of kobolds combing the mountains. My campsite hiding spell kept them from discovering our campsite. Gotta love that spell. Kelyns new magical tower was invisible to them.

Thoroughly enjoyed our time in the dwarf city(have to remember to ask the name), walking about finding the most interesting things. No time to have work done on the badger, but found many items that could prove useful along the way. As mentioned previously, sleeping in a soft bed with room service just can't be beat with a stick.

Having wrapped up our financial blitzkrieg(still have a few coins left for incidentals), Vex is saying the powers that be are getting anxious again. About three days NW, excellent timing to field test some gear. Set off early with HUGE sporting a new howdah for the group's comfort. Nina and I were aloft on a flying carpet, now this is traveling. Not trying to be anti-social, just spreading out in case of passing casters or dragons. The big guy will probably outpace us on the flats, but the rate is fine up here; even something in the magic that keeps the wind from blasting us.

Our pachyderm found a campsite with everything but cabins, but have something for that, too;Instant Tower! Put a cube on the ground, and a thirty foot tower appears. No more worrying about stuff crashing through the tent or finding dry spots for bedding. Even has a stout, locking door. Everyone is having a grand time showing off new toys, even Hickory gets to see the light of day and roadtest the new shoes.

The following afternoon, spotted a kobold trying to hide below. Lugh held it with a spell, and we went down to talk. He spun some kind of story, and Vex agreed to go with it back to it's tribe. We're to wait here as we would intimidate the others. Right. About twenty minutes, we started following the trail, setting up around the entrance to it's lair. Some time later, it came out(alone), so it was grabbed again and kept for later(?). Vex eventually came out, without a rock, but said he managed to rescue the princess. Maybe I slept through a few important meetings, but don't remember anything about rescuing royalty. I'm supposed to be in on that sort of thing, it's in my job description. None of the group seemed to be in on the plan, Vex just grinned. He' going to make a fine piece of athletic equipment one of these days.

The trip back was quiet, except for the massive kobold sweep of the forest, their beady little eyes weren't doing well in the daylight. Didn't hurt that HUGE's spell hid us quite well, steered them around us. Should be back at the city soon, wonder what kind of a deal the little guy worked out for his daring deed?

We returned after a few days to the dwarven city to return the princess. As it turns out, she was NOT supposed to be known as missing. Not that I cared. It was a four day trek in the mountains that I enjoyed, though it would have been a lot more fun if there was an actual fight. The horde was substantially over my limits, there were just to many to actually fight.

When we returned there was a big ado with a paladin of Iomedae having attacked Vexacion who had arrived at the city. I listed to their arguments but I had to intervene to inform Vexacion that there was an area to the north east that was pouring demons into our world, which is why the paladins here are a little zealous to slow their advance.

We decided to wait a few days, one for some reward for rescuing the princess and because I felt a pull towards another of the stones when we began experimenting with our two stones and I was in my earth elemental form. So I began my search in earnest and ended up in the vault of Tharrom Nerroth. I know it was the vault of Tharron because just as I realized where I was a human thief entered into the vault and told me. Well, we did have a conversation and she was rather surprised at my being in there, since she had unlocked the door I now had a way out. She introduced herself as Ashera Amberspine and I gave her the time she wanted to 'procure' a few things so she would direct me out of the estate grounds. We were seen but we managed to escape without any 'real' difficulty.

After returning to the inn where we were staying I gathered up those interested in experimenting with our stones. I did so in elemental form again with my true sight running. After working with the stones for a few minutes we were able to get the stones to join together, and were able to figure out that it was an earth elemental and I could tell it wanted us to help it. I learned that it is called Sorventh the Terran.

The next day we went to meet with the King to receive our reward. That night prior we began thinking that perhaps the noble that I stole the rock from was the one that had kidnapped the daughter with the intent of getting his hands on the other rock as a ransom. Turns out that it was one on the inner council, just not an advisor that I thought, but instead it was one of the seven elite guard. I was rather confused with the whole thing as it seems only Kelyn figured it out.

With that completed we began our trek, the six to seven day trek back to Riddleport for our return trip to Magnimar.

Where does the time go? Been so busy getting ready for the trip home, almost forgot to jot down a few notes on what has happened.

Arrived back at the dwarven city. remembering to keep the princess under wraps. Doesn't matter if they're human, elf, or dwarf; the average citizen just flies into a panic when things go a little wrong. Politics and keeping up appearances, the rewards can't be worth all the fuss. Delivered her to the relieved king, and she was escorted to more secure quarters. A large ransom demand had just arrived, which didn't make sense as we(Vex) had recovered her days ago; looks like an inside job.

The group was brain-storming on how to solve this latest problem, when HUGE appeared with another piece of the rock, and said he got it from the vault of one of the nobles. Seems he had felt one of Vex's tugs, and had elementaled through the city and ended up there; not quite sure how to feel about this. Also, that a rogue had helped him(and herself) out of there and the pieces we've found are really an elemental. No idea what kind of weapon it's supposed to be, but what do I know about the plans of deities?

The other noise going on is a woman hauling a palidan in shackles. He attacked a demon in the city, turns out it's the other Vex(the tall one). The group threw in their two coppers worth on our past dealings, and the possible connections with the blight to the north. At last headcount(one, two) we are not an army, some other large groups of good people will surely go up and handle that.

Back to the original problem, HUGE had set a classic mystery reveal for the next day. With the court gathered, HUGE passed papers with the name of the guilty to the king and his senior adviser. While everyone watched the advisers like hungry hawks, I noticed one of our escort guards sweating like a stevedore. Tried to get the other's attention on this development, but they were being thicker than day-old pudding(maybe the palidan was contagious). Drifted close to the distraught fellow, in case he got frisky, using everything short of signal flags to point him out. Finally, he was grabbed and hustled away. A few of the advisers were pretty nervous, and tried to get a look at the papers during the confrontation. Looks to be more people with dirty laundry, the king will need to do a bit more house cleaning before things settle down

We'll be leaving for home shortly, most anxious to get there. While it has been great fun stimulating the local economy, feel the need to do something a bit closer to home. Nice to have a pile of useful toys, but want to do something bigger. Lugh could be on to something, will talk on the way back.

During the early morning hours we were bothered by some undead creature that was not wanting to fight us and instead wanted to trade information that could save us. Honestly I couldn't understand a word he was saying as it was in some musical-esque sounding language. Turns out it wasn't a musical language, he was just rhyming in Thassilonian. For four vials of the blue goo he warned of some sort of trap that sounding like it would happen as soon as we boarded Arkrhyst and began sailing home. As well as we have another request by this Noculus to shut down yet another gate/rift. Well at least it means we can keep hiking. So there is a silver lining. Of course, none of us know where to go, there was no actual indication as to where this rift was.

The next day was uneventful as was the night, but the following day though was something different as a giant swarm of undead mosquitos descended on the party and began draining us of our precious life blood. Suddenly one the tidbits our wayward friend told us, 'when the blood flows the trap is set.' Well I will guess that would seriously count as that. I phase hopped back about fifty feet to get out of the swarm, taking Lugh and Atz with me. Shortly after stepping back into phase Nina unleashed a fireball that ended the giant threat in one fiery conflagration.

The creatures though did their damage as they drained everyone and I began the lengthy casting of a curative spell to restore my lost health. Everyone was tentative though and looking in all directions waiting for the other boot to drop. It wasn't long after we began moving when a really small gargoyle and five creatures suddenly appeared in front of Macer. The suddenness of their appearance caused me to mispronounce a word and the healing magics was not very effective.

I didn't know who these individuals were, other than demons. As I moved to an outside flank of the group should hostilities ensue I learned that we had to kill them as Lugh confirmed that we had to kill them in Sarenrae's most wrathful way. Oona jumped off my head and charged one of the nearer creatures and stabbed him. I then charged through the masses trampling them down, killing the one on Oona and hitting the rest of them on my way. Nina followed up with a fireball that removed the remaining creatures leaving only the small gargoyle like creature. Who seemed rather surprised at the suddenness of our attack. Even Atz summoned in some creature that looked like a halfling who was getting in on the action by hitting this thing. The fight wasn't going so well for Oona though as the creature Enervated Oona multiple times. The creature, as I found out later was this Natos that I was asked to kill, fell after about a minute of solid fighting.

Well, best laid plans and all that. Seems to be some doubt about us getting back home, everybody and their dog knows who we are and is intent on doing us in.

On the way back, something approached our camp wanting to talk. Nina says it's a low-speed lich, but I can't make out anything it says. Vex and Lugh traded blue stuff for dubious information, guess they went along when it named Noculous and Treyvor(way too many loose lips about us having this stuff).

The following day, were attacked by swarms of undead(?!) mosquitos that tapped off a fair bit of vitality. To the screams of DO IT NOW, Nina dropped a fireball that thinned them out, along with a few friendly HP's. As we continued forward, Macer(well, Hickory, really) bumped into a few demons. Natos(?) and his flunkies decided to try their hand at our demise, and remembering the scene of their last handywork, the group waded in. The lackies went down quick, but the N guy proved more durable. Unfurled FC2, the latest word in tactical flexibility, and soared into the fray. We hammered away at that thing like dwarves at the forge, but it just wouldn't go down. There were plenty of wounds to go around, but it really had a sore spot for Oona. It kept using some sort of drain on her, guess we have an idea what she'll look like in thirty/forty years. It was a close thing, but we put it down before Oona's canines got long and serious.

Still a long way to go, probably going to be a busy trip. Think we'll have to tell the next lack-wit peddling rhymes to buzz off, think it's fairly obvious that a large queue has formed to take turns at our mortality.

Well, best laid plans and all that. Seems to be some doubt about us getting back home, everybody and their dog knows who we are and is intent on doing us in.

On the way back, something approached our camp wanting to talk. Nina says it's a low-speed lich, but I can't make out anything it says. Vex and Lugh traded blue stuff for dubious information, guess they went along when it named Noculous and Treyvor(way too many loose lips about us having this stuff).

The following day, were attacked by swarms of undead(?!) mosquitos that tapped off a fair bit of vitality. To the screams of DO IT NOW, Nina dropped a fireball that thinned them out, along with a few friendly HP's. As we continued forward, Macer(well, Hickory, really) bumped into a few demons. Natos(?) and his flunkies decided to try their hand at our demise, and remembering the scene of their last handywork, the group waded in. The lackies went down quick, but the N guy proved more durable. Unfurled FC2, the latest word in tactical flexibility, and soared into the fray. We hammered away at that thing like dwarves at the forge, but it just wouldn't go down. There were plenty of wounds to go around, but it really had a sore spot for Oona. It kept using some sort of drain on her, guess we have an idea what she'll look like in thirty/forty years. It was a close thing, but we put it down before Oona's canines got long and serious.

Still a long way to go, probably going to be a busy trip. Think we'll have to tell the next lack-wit peddling rhymes to buzz off, think it's fairly obvious that a large queue has formed to take turns at our mortality.

What the heck is going on here, who is this other guy? While he is a handsome fellow with a pleasant voice, there is only room for one Kelyn around here. Don't know what's happening, but I just don't like it.

A few seconds after his now dead corpse hit the ground a smoky cloud with small tendrils that were growing from the cloud in any direction. It didn't have to be said that it touching us would probably be a bad idea. Our original experts on this, Felu and Sam are no longer with us to give us a reasonable explanation. Which is pretty sad because Felu was killed because of that knowledge and Sam left to continue working with it to learn how to get her back. Regardless, we stayed back and did so quickly.

Kelyn and Nina attempted to fly off on their carpets but the magic in the carpet seemed to wane and they floated to the ground. So they quickly gathered up their carpets and ran. The tendrils though were everywhere and both Kelyn and Nina were hit by them mostly because they ran. So I decided to clear a path for the group and began running with Atz and Oona on my back. The damage I was taking was stinging and painful, I also found my mind slipping and becoming more feral and primal. I would have to find the end of this area before I began attacking my own friends. It didn't take long before the tendrils though grappled me and even with my considerable bulk the tendrils held me fast. Suddenly a vaguely familiar looking woman who was hanging off my ear shoved some blue gooey stuff in my my mouth and suddenly I became very clear minded and realized I was looking at Nina. Sadly though I was still held fast by the tendrils that had grown in size the moment they made contact with my hide.

Everyone began stabbing at the large trunk like tendrils that were holding me fast and I eventually I managed to rip the last tendril from my leg before using my trunk to grab Oona who was glassy eyed and as compliant as vegetable. Just as I was about to begin running through the tendrils a few attacks from Lugh and Kelyn managed to drive off the creature. After a few minutes the spells that had been working returned and I was once again able to speak. So I asked, "what by Gorum's iron balls was that?" Nina and Emma said it was the Dream Vestige from The Dead City and shouldn't be 'here.' Well, whatever it was, and where ever that is, it was gone now.

I also noticed that that blue goo made me more powerful as well. I moved around healing those that needed as well as Lugh and took the time to pick up the gear that fell from Natos and his minions. Well, it was an interesting day, thats for sure. Just not necessarily the one I had hoped for. After bandaging wounds, gathering gear and reseating the howdah we once again continued our trek south to Riddleport. I picked up a scroll of restoration once we arrived in Riddleport and had Lugh cast the spell to restore my lost intelligence. Once that was accomplished we boarded the Arkrhyst and sailed home to Magnimar.

Boarding with us on our journey was a group thieves from Riddleport calling themselves The Ravens. I snickered a little at their confidence, but everyone has to be or you are a victim. Kriger agreed to take them as payment for watching the Arkrhyst while it was docked in Riddleport for its repairs and the shore leave that the magnaminous Kriger gave the rest of his crew. Along the way the 'Ravens' asked what they could of Magnimar, like what and who they should know about. I offered what I knew, mostly warning them about the Bazaar of Sails and Sabriyya Kalmeralm, as well as the families estate and warehouse with expressed rules to be left alone lest they incure my wrath.

We arrived back in Magnimar after almost a week of sailing and even though I knew I was no longer in 'the wilds' as it were, I was happy to be home. It had been a long while since I had seen my parents and sister. Before we docked I confirmed that some of the others would be going to the Deverin estates and staying there. Hobart enjoying their tales and offering rooms in payment for the entertainment. Once that was confirmed I shifted into the form of an eagle and flew home before the boat was even close to the docks. The family reunion was as good as I expected it to be. That evenings meal was extravagant and large and so were my own tales. I even shifted into the form of a mastodon and gave the family a ride about town after dinner much to the delight of my not so little sister Ingirt. Someone has hit her growth spurt while I was away and was now a couple of inches taller than when I left. Not only was she tall but beautiful, easily as beautiful as Oona, but much younger and way more sane.

It looked like the group was wanting to wait out the 'winter' here in Magnimar. So I decided to drop off my armor with the old wizard to have the spikes enchanted. I spent a few days in the wizards shop talking with him while the cat would sleep in my lap. The cooler winter winds blowing off the water were a welcome event. The winds reminding me of the milder part of winter in the Linnorm lands and making me want to revisit those lands, maybe even meet this Estrid woman. Kriger told me he had seen her, I couldn't tell if he was lying or not, but more than likely his raiding might have drawn her attention so who really knows. For a few weeks I worked with Kriger at working out and heavy exercise using some of the techniques I had learned about. A lot of swimming in the harbor, in heavy leather armor which only gets heavier when its wet. Still though it was good exercise and it was a welcome release of tension not being out 'adventuring.'

On one of the days the group gathered up, Vex made comment that he had heard that the lich we had a prior meeting with had aquired one of the stones we had been hunting. Sounded good to me, I was wanting to scrap with him back when he was in Magnimar. He was in Gallowspire, southwest of Ardis in Ustalav. History listed this as a prison of an ancient lich that had enslaved Ustalav a long time ago. This guy was probably arrogant enough to try and pass himself off as the lich reincarnate. Along the way we were going to stop off in a mountain rage near the marshfens to hunt an undead dragon Oona heard about. Then stop off near Atz family near Turtleback Ferry, then head to Kaer Maga to look into rumors of Oona's father been seen there. This was going to be a GREAT trip. So we made arrangements to sail on the Arkrhyst with Kriger along the Yondabakari River through the Marsh Fens towards the Fenwall mountains.

Upon getting off the Arkrhyst, I transformed into the mammoth once again and was using druidic magics to move through the swamp easier for the first half of the day before getting slogged down in the mud in the later part of the day. Even after eight or so hours we broke for the night and made camp. Once again I used my spells to conceal the fortress that Kelyn used and rested peacefully. Being in the wilds was so much more comfortable than being in the city of Magnimar, or any city for that matter. Apparently some time during the night while others were on watch they heard some predatory growl from what they assume was a large cat. The next day was a bit easier as we were getting out of the swamp and into the mountains where the terrain was much easier to traverse along. That evening the growl was heard by others but not by me. It was on the third day when I realized that we were traveling through an ancient battlesite as I could tell I was crushing skeletons that were buried in the muck. We even came to realize we were traveling on an ancient road that has been buried by the swamp. The solid ground that would occasionally appear underfoot was the only explanation for the terrain. Emma and I could not remember anything in the histories that we have each read and learned over the years but did not know of anything. Considering the size of the battlesite, this would definitely be something Gorum would be proud of.

The next evening the creature returned again and a few of the others ran out trying to find it but no one woke me up. Which is fine with me, as I was sleeping the sleep of the just, or at least the tired. The next day we began seeing the remnants of siege equipment and larger engines of war. I will have to do some research in the libraries of Magnimar when I return home to see if I can find anything about whatever this was. I also noticed that the plant growth was being manipulated by someone/something that was trying to slow my movement. Because of the enchantments that I had cast on myself I was able to move through it with little difficulty. The evenings and days were becoming monotonous in our trek. I eventually yelled out in druidic for whoever it was to show themselves or to meet with me that evening to discuss why it was trying to slow our advance. All I got in return was silence.

On the next day though we were given something new when Kelyn was hit by multiple magical bolts of energy from somewhere ahead of us. In retaliation Emma cast a poisonous cloud that slowly spread out and moved slowly away from us in the direction we were going. I went ahead and cast a spell that allowed me to cast spells while in my shapeshifted form in case I needed to move quickly. I did cast a few defensive spells in case we had found the dragons 'nest' and continued moving forward. I came across a large spell of black tentacles that was placed in front of me in the hopes I would walk into it. Instead I dimensionally hopped past it and looked about. After moving forward a small distance I heard a noise behind me and turned to see the biggest dragon, although undead and invisible, that I have ever and probably will ever see. It was coming in to crush me and I am fairly sure that it was surprised when only one of my legs crumpled under the sudden weight but I still stood. The others on top of me though were not having any fun.

I couldn't do anything for them so I instead began a deep barrel chested laugh. One generated from the enlarged girth of my shapeshifted form. "Nice move old one. But I am not going to be that easy to kill. In Gorum's name I will destroy you!" I then walked out from under it condemning the others to their own fate. THIS was going to be something to meditate on later to Gorum unless I died. Either way it was going to be a great battle! I then raked its belly with my tusks knocking great chunks of bone aside. The creature then emitted a huge area of negative energy that I resisted ... mostly. Again I laughed and told the wyrm, "You're going to have to work harder than that!" and again I swiped my tusks across its hide knocking more bones off and followed that up with a head butt to the dragons skull driving it backwards somewhat. "Gorum smiles on me this day!" I heard a horn from Macer on the flank of the wyrm and even though I was in its face and laying into the wyrm it went after Macer. The wyrm turned and smiled at me, or at least I think it smiled, it was all bone and all that. Still a little disconcerting though.

By now most of the others had rallied somewhat and had began swarming the wyrm but I could tell that none of them could see past its invisibility magic. "Smirk all you want old one, but you are going to die today! Tell me of this battlefield before its history is lost on the winds of time." The arrogant look it gave me was rapidly changed when my tusks got past its defenses and with a quick twist of my head I snapped off large numbers of its bones wreaking havoc to its skeletal frame. I then followed that with my head butt slamming into that weakened spot shattering more bone. It then cast a dimensional door spell and disappeared from sight. I could hear a splashing sound off in the distance where it landed at.

Picking a direction, the direction we were going I dimensionally hopped past a wall of force that it had dropped and then with my druidic magic increased my speed to that of the small cats and ran three hundred feet past the wall and began scouring the horizon for the wyrm.

After looking for a while I couldn't find it so I decided to shift into the form of an eagle to get a higher vantage point increase my chances of seeing the wyrm at a distance. I will admit the freedom of flight, although a wonderful sensation at first, was beginning to loose its appeal for me. The idea of losing contact with the earth and the natural element from which the iron that is my god was becoming more distasteful to me. I could sense that in the future I would no longer leave the earth unless it was an obvious tactical advantage or required to save myself from death.

After flying around for a few minutes I found the area where it had landed/arrived from around 1,200 ft. back from the group in the direction we had come from. The wyrm was no longer there, having flown off or using magic to disappear. While flying high above I did see a great wall far on the horizon in the direction we had been going. If I was a great wyrm that might be where my lair would be so I suggested we head in that direction. So I once again shifted back into my mastodon form and began the trek again.

We arrived in a massive city that was built for human sized peoples but none could be found. No bodies or skeletons here like in the swampy areas we had been traveling along. After moving through the city for a while on the way towards the mountain and where a palace might be I noticed that we were being watched. Multiple stone golems who were trying to remain hidden from view, using the natural stone buildings and terrain to disguise themselves. I took a guarded stance reading myself for a fight, I had to point them out to the old man Saunders who didn't initially notice them. Emma began running through languages in an attempt to converse with them and eventually struck on one with a female carved golem. She learned that the golems would direct us to the lair of the great wyrm but it was forbidden for them to physically go with us.

As we began following the golems they were going above and beyond to remove any rubble that blocked our path. While Emma and this golem continued to jabber on in their language I assisted in pushing stones out of the way as well. We eventually came to a huge hole in the earth and then a large army of these golems began ringing the hole to 'protect' us from the other denizens of this city. The hole was of a grand staircase leading down into what was once a vast basement of what could have possibly been the basement of a palace. The smell though wafting up from hole gave it away. So I went in with a smile on my bestial face.

Thankfully the palace basement was huge and I was easily able to remain in my mastodon from with no trouble. If the wyrm was going to fit, so was I. We eventually came to what was probably a grand chamber where we discovered the skeletal remains of some giant humanoid. It held a leash in one of its hands and I got the idea that this wyrm was once a pet or controlled by whatever this once was. Attached to the leash was a large orb that Emma explained was a phylactery that contained the soul of the great wyrm and that in a few days the wyrm would reform. I definitely wanted that to happen so I took the orb to ensure no one would break the phylactery and prevent its return.

We had a meeting with the stone creatures that as it turns out are not golems. Apparently Emma had told them about our falling stone weapon earth elemental thing and they wanted to see it. Once they saw the stone, they began speaking in a droning slow terran language with it and then explained that they would follow us. Their desire to help us construct/repair/heal the elemental was their reason for assistance.

We then made arrangements down in the great room, to prevent it from flying away, to fight the wyrm when it reformed. Waiting in anticipation in mastodon form I was pleased when it reformed in front of me. My good friend Atz had bolstered my defenses with a spell of heroic deeds of great warriors and when it appeared I charged forward attempting to overrun the wyrm. I had the power of Gorum flowing through me as I flipped the surprised wyrm on his back. Along the way I shouldered it aside with the spiked armor destroying its legs, this caused the creature be taken by surprise allowing Kelyn and Vex to leap upon the wyrm. Vex finished the great wyrm off before it could even react. This was starting to be a great day and I claimed the skull as my own.

For the next few weeks we continued our journey to Kaer Maga stopping off along the way for Atz to see his relatives in Wistledown. The journey to Kaer Maga was interesting as we had to take a path, called the half-light path. The city rested on the edge of the Cinderplains hundreds of feet above the plains where we and other merchants gathered after river barges carried us up river from Magnimar. This path though ran through the rock from the lower plain all the way up to the city. The guides called greywardens would only take small groups through and requested absolute silence as the tunnels were as old as the city and contained a great many dangers. Many a merchant and greywarden failed to complete this path so the dangers were real although our journey was quiet enough. A lot of side passages were sealed off by the greywardens to help prevent random creatures from finding their way onto the path. When we arrived on the Cinderplains a monstrous huge wall easily a hundred foot high marked the edge of the city. A large portion of the wall had collapsed allowing a view inside the wall, which was easily five hundred feet across and a ramshackle city was built inside the wall. This part of the city wasn't much to look at and I admit I wasn't really wanting to enter into a city that made Riddleport look like a wonderful place to live. I have heard though the city itself was vast and many of its sections were as different and odd as there were races in Golarion. I had also heard that if you ever came to Kaer Maga you should hire a guide so I did as soon as I could and offered to pay for his services in advance for a week. We even hired a few of his friends and bought rooms for them in the inn they took us too. The section we currently were in was called Bis and was under the protection of a family of golem makers. The "girls" we brought with us were fascinated with both the city and these golems. Now we just needed to find out what we could learn about Oona's father who was supposed to either be, or was here. Also the rumors that the lich we chased out of Magnimar was here and he had one of the chunks of meteorite. Now that we are here though, there are A LOT of things to do and see. I will admit though I will get sick of the confining nature of the city soon enough.

The next day I spent some time, as did the others, in a small bazaar near our inn where I did some shopping for items that I could take back to the family that was specific of Kaer Maga. I found a crochet doll of a troll augur, that is something specific to Kaer Maga. You could pull out its guts and tuck them back into its belly. I figured my little sister would love it. Mom on the other hand probably won't but I thought it was funny so I paid the one gold for the doll. I suddenly felt the unmistakable tremor of powerful magic being used and several gates opened and I witnessed a shop keeper turn inside out from the powerful magics being used. Stepping from the gates were various creatures that initially made me believe they were heralds or followers of Gorum as they were covered in spikes. They immediately broke into a fight with each other as two factions, that were indistinguishable from each other. I cast a quick defensive spell and drew my sword in case I was attacked. In the process of me scanning the bazaar I saw two of the creatures specifically attack Lugh so I ran forwards to help Lugh. Really though I decided to teach them a lesson for picking on Lugh, even though he got free of the grapple from one of the creatures. I attempted to overrun the multiarmed woman and knock her down, I was surprised when I shouldered into her and she only slid back a few inches but remained standing and in front of me. My sword though bit deep into her chitenous body though and was pleased when I drew blood. Vex tumbled past and stuck her deep but she turned and faced me. With a flurry of chitenous arm stabs she tore into me rather well showering herself in my blood. Macer ran up and yelled some sort of obscenity at her that drew her attention away from me so I used that advantage to swing wildly into her again and once again the blade bit deep. She swung back into both Macer and I and once again her chitenous arms tore into me. There was a sudden scream from somewhere in the bazaar that stunned all of us. I later found out that Macer and Lugh managed to resist the psychic scream and was able to continue attacking. When I shook off the effects of the scream she was still standing in front of me and the others were close by, Lugh having cast some spell on me. I swung my sword again and this time managed to drop her to the ground. That was a good fight. I wish I could have stood against her alone but I know that I would have fallen if the others were not there to support me.

Just as I was getting ready to focus on the toad looking creature a sudden wave of negative energy exploded among us. Lugh and I seemed to weather the effect, Macer seemed unaffected but Vex looked very pale after it went off. The many armed woman's eyes shot open and she seemed to heal from its effect. One of the myriad of creatures that were involved, some sort of female with fire and odd tattoos moved up and asked us to move away from her. I told her that I couldn't, which wasn't true as this was a test that I intended to finish. Vex also stayed and between us we dropped her for good this time, Vex's dagger instantly turning her corpse to bones. Now to finish off this toad creature that moved up and attempted to grapple me learning that my ring prevented that from happening. I bit into his hide with the sword in return and learned that he was much easier to hit that the woman. A spell from Emma, an attack from Macer and Vex finished it off once again turning its corpse into a skeleton. Now we need to find out who this woman is.

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Ow!!! Enough with the poking, already. It would seem that I have been a bit delinquent recording some of the events of our travels. Rather pointed reminders(I see you winding up back there) compel me to put pen to paper.

Surviving several attempts on life and limb, the group arrived back at Magnimar. Hadn't realized what a long year it has been, and how much we have been missing at home. It was decided to winter in town, and spend quality time with family and friends.

Looking forward to a few months of feather beds and fine foods, some lunatic started on a demented health kick. The rest of us were dragged along(in at least one case, kicking and screaming)"for our own good". No one in their right mind gets up at that hour, staggers around under that kind of weight, and gets beat with sticks. Especially when recovering from long, arduous travels. Now, I would be the first to speak of cutting a fine figure when dealing with the public, and certain individuals managed to improve an already stunning figure......

Now, where was I(and where the heck are my pants)? Come spring, we left in search of vampires, a lich, and an undead dragon(?). Oona had come up with some story about leads in our quest, so off we went. Passed through an ancient battlefield the size of a small country, and arrived at a cyclopean city that had fallen to ruin long ago. Found the beast holed up under a former palace, and after many explosions and feats of strength and agility, put it down. We met tall stone beings(NOT golems) who had lived there longer than anyone could figure. Two of them joined us to look for others of their kind as we traveled.

Much overland travel(like that carpet), cooling our heels at he base of a massive cliff, and escorted through tunnels to the city of Kaer Maga. It's kind of like Magnimar, but alot more "residents" packed into less area; now this is a smell one is unlikely to forget. We set about learning our way around and gathering information. Finishing a working lunch, the familiar sounds of our group's standard negotiations erupted in the square. We emerged to find the usual carnage as the group told of things porting in and starting the ruckus; I remain skeptical. In the aftermath, we find our number increased by one. Ignis, an elemental construct who seems to be a project of the DIY lich we're hunting, was an involuntary participant of the recent disturbance and wished to return to her place far below the city. Of course, we agreed to help.

We collared a few dusk wardens, and Nina told them of the delicate situation that needed to be corrected. Unable to resist such charming logic, they agreed to help us if we were foolish enough to go there. They spoke of an entrance to the undercity they had found while exploring as children(hmm...)and set up an elaborate ruse to cover our entry. We moved through a large temple with minor incident and found ourselves at a large chamber filled with hundreds of yelling worshipers. Using the chaos as cover, we moved to a large gate with a massive lock, presumably to keep out monsters. It opened pretty easy, but didn't seem the right time to discuss security with them.

Moving into a warren that stretched in all directions, we encountered a creature that Felu's friend said was part of a "hive mind". It sucks the brains out of a person and leaves the rest to be drained/devoured by the vampires they work with. Important safety tip; stay clear! Continuing on, Nina spotted a vampire watching us from a side tunnel. We approached, and it regaled us with a tale of woe. A powerful vampire(glanced at Oona) and a lich had taken over his digs in the upper city, and he wanted them removed. For our help, he would lead us to an army of stone people like the two traveling with us, even throw in some money to finance. He led us to an immense chamber filled with rank after rank of stone figures, but none of them moved. As our companions grieved at this loss, the vampire gave directions to his estate and produced a key. The vampires have a depository here like the one in Ustalev, and there we could get some funds to help eliminate the interlopers. As I took the key, I thought about the two others, and assured him it would be done.

After it left, we talked with the stone women at length. The figures in this cavern had been drained, what was taken used to make the goo we carry; five creatures to fill one vial. It could be possible to reanimate the creatures, but will need to return them to the elders. Opened Vex's well and used my hoist to get two in for transport. While arranging them and the stones already inside, Ignis stepped forward and started a new line of conversation. It took quite some time to get heads around the idea that Ignis is actually the "soul" or cornerstone of the Weapon; our chance companion is really the center of all this.

We have much to do, this just got REAL interesting!

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It has taken a very long time to find my friends. I still have a bargain to uphold but I have found time in-between jobs to search for my former companions. Although finding them has lifted my heart Sam was not with them. I can't speak to them yet and I think some of them spotted me while I daydreamed of a conversation and what it might sound like. How do I explain what I've done? I moved back into the borrowed room and disappear back to my tasks. It was good to see them after all these months. I couldn't help them in their struggle but still.....

Turns out the woman is some sort of fire elemental-esque creature. Something to do with the weapon, the 'soul' of the weapon. You got me, I don't get it or pretend to get it. The rest learned about this when they went under ground while I stayed above. Some side effect of one of the creatures made me utterly nauseous and I spent the next few hours emptying my bowels and eating toast. I spent some time talking with the woman, Ignis, and learned that she was in fact one of the pieces, fused with one of the small demonic entities that we encounter way back in the day. Once we produced the other three stones of the meteor fragment she sort of fused with them and continued to speak with me. She let us know that the weapon was almost complete. Color me giddy with excitement.

I also learned from Kelyn that we got hold of another key from a vampire and there was a 'collective' vault in Kaer Maga. So Kelyn was rather insistent that we liberate the items from the vault and see if there was anything in the vaults for the other keys we had. We had also learned that the blue goo that we have been accumulating was some sort of alchemical version of a soul created from the destruction of the stone people. The girls that were with us are rather upset at this discovery. I am not sure they know that we carry multiple vials of the stuff. I wonder if we should use the stuff to bring them back. I will have to talk with Lugh on that. Its not that I am all that concerned for their well being, I have no vested interest in them. They are made of stone and there is some relation to the element of my god so its my only reason for thinking about helping them. I went and bought twenty vials of a spell that would make me hidden from undead and then had Vex crawl into his portable hole, drank a potion, changed into a small earth elemental, picked up the portable hole and once again began poking around. In almost three hours Vex and I cleared out the three vaults we had keys for. After returning to the others I pulled Lugh and Vex aside and asked for Vex not to tell the others how many vials we recovered after confirming with Lugh that he was interested in using the vials to restore some of the stone walkers. Hopefully calling them that isn't offensive to them but frankly I have no idea what race they are and I haven't taken the time to learn their race so...who really cares, I don't.

We then headed to where we knew the other rock piece was. Turns out the vampire the group met and got the key from was kicked out of his apartment in the Stacks by Oona's father and the lich. So we were definitely in for a fight. Today would be a good day, painful, but good. I went ahead and cast a spell that would help me resist the death spells that I imagine would be cast and/or used by the two of them. When they opened the door, we could see several flesh golems. Kit bashed creatures that were part demon and ... stuff. While Kelyn, Oona and Nina fought at the front door I dimensionally hopped into the back of the room and engaged one. The rest of the group was brought in by Emma through magic.

(Cough, cough..) Can't recall who keeps talking me into these things, ruggedly handsome fellow; oh yeah, ME! Always seems like a good idea, and then I'm spitting up blood and trying to put all my ribs back in the right order.

Returned to our rooms to discuss our findings, got some rest, and rose to hunt some crypts. HUGE and Vex tunneled in, and after some time, came back with the toothy loot. We had hoped for a few trophy weapons taken from past hunters, but the boxes held mostly coin and bar stock. Will be very useful to replace spent supplies after our little raid.

Traveled up-city to the given address and walked into a cunning ambush. Nina, Oona, and I held the door while the others blipped in to surround the enemy. The enemy being several 10' tall constructs that shed magic like water, very annoying to the arcane members of our band. Tore into them with some effect, but had problems turning all their attacks. Note to self; after the fight, be sure to gather up the various bits that have been beaten out of me. Sure to be needing those later.

The scrap continues; some drop, more show up. Will have to continue later, getting a little short of breath. Might be a lung among those missing parts, take that sort of thing for granted until they go missing.

The fight was becoming increasingly dangerous which oddly enough was making me equally happy. Lugh and I had been practicing and training to use our abilities to flank opponents and it was working wonderfully, that is until the reinforcements arrived. Then it started to get messy. The golems were to thick, and as a group we couldn't drop them fast enough. Lugh had to back off when his armor enchantment flared to keep him alive. Sauders, the old guy and bodyguard for Emma was reduced to ash from the electrical discharge that was firing from a group of them every few seconds. He couldn't get away as the golem had him pinned. When Lugh had to back off to heal, the golem turned on me and hammered away at me. The healing enchantment flared on the first hit as I saw stars, the second blow caused darkness as I fell unconscious. I awoke to Emma's voice as she whispered for me to stay down. Once I realized that I was clear of danger I drank one of the blue vials I still had. This woke me up and magically healed the wounds I had received. The armor didn't look better but I did.

I dimensionally hopped over into the electrical arcs in order to once again flank one of the golems with Lugh. The attack was unexpected as I managed to knock the golem off balance allowing Lugh to take advantage of the attack. The savageness of Lugh's attack knocked the golem back opening up an attack by me. In all Lugh and I savagely cut into the golem almost destroying it outright. Key word being almost, as it turned and pummeled me into once again seeing stars. The rest of the group felled the remaining golems and we began healing. I handed Emma my last vial of blue goo to use on Saunders to revive him which thankfully worked. With that we began following the the green smoke of a vampire that had shown up to watch the combat. Lugh had killed him with some sort of light spell that instantly killed it. Impressive.

As some of the group began following the smoke, Macer wandered off down one of the halls claiming that he was hearing some noise. That direction was also the only area that seemed to have light in the distance.

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I've had better days.

The non-stop beating continued. Lost Oona in the scrum, but managed to push hard enough to finally make it inside the front door. Let me rephrase that; I was able to stay upright and in the fight because Nina kept replacing the parts being hammered out. The battle moved around the room, more creatures replacing those who went down. Couldn't keep track of our status, people dropping and getting back into it, blue stuff was flowing like punch at a cotillion.

Tired of being ignored by the opposition, Nina started jumping us around to provide flanking. It felt like I was trying to chop down trees with an ice pick, she made sure the creatures bore the badger's full wrath. Ages later(others assure me it was only a few minutes), the last foe clangs to the floor. We look across a field of splashed blood, rent flesh, and broken metal. Hurrah, we've taken the foyer!

A moment to check that our parts are mostly attached, the group moves in pursuit of a vampire's gaseous shape(there was a vampire?). Macer has wandered down a side hall, something about hearing noises. Why are all these people glowing?

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To make a very LONG story tolerable suffice it to say that Kaer Maga is a free city that is lawless in the strictest sense and is barley a tenable society at best. All crammed together in a warren of misshaped, haphazardly cobbled tenements. It is here we have found some answers. Some of great sorrow that promise a glimmer of redemption, others have revealed themselves as the solution towards our search and salvation.

The most disturbing was an encounter with a sanguisuge leech we were required to deal with for information and guidance. (Oh and note to self, pass the word on lurking hunters of the deep)The leech showed the way to the stone host, an army of lifeless stone men, from which our “blue goo” had been extracted in a kind of soul refining magic…not a fan. At length we gained access to another vault key and managed to pilfer the contents of the vampires safe houses, obtaining larger quantities of the blue elixir, wealth and other notable sundries. The leech also provided a lead to another quarry, the central hunt that has existed since we left Magnimar in our youth. It seems Oona’s father and the stitcher had deposed the leech from his residence and he offered up his vault key if we helped him reclaim his flat.

Did I mention a chance sighting of Felu? That was all at once a comfort and a fright!

It has been a while hasn’t it? I have now, a small companion. Well, actually a colleague. He is my creation and loyal cohort, though most often he is a resident of my satchel. He employs stealth to spy and deliver timely assistance in the dire moments from the shadows. He is “Linq” (Link), blood of my blood. A beak faced, winged blessing of Sarenrae. We are still in the stage of working out our methods but so far he has proved himself quite useful.

So, back to the matter at hand…. We took the bait and waltzed into the leech’s flat and were quickly set upon by have a dozen stitched, fleshed golems. A painful enterprise at best! The first wave was of little consequence to me, thanks to Linq. The second wave, another half dozen, all but sent me to my final repose! This led to the painful decision of imbibing a vile of the goo for the first time. Not my finest hour, but the need was great and the situation dire. In the scrum I did vaporize a vampire with an application of Sarenraes soulfire. And here we stand in the entry to the flat battered and at nearly half our offensive potential for the day spent. This could prove quite deadly!

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We continued to follow the gaseous form of the dead vampire down a long hall while I healed those that I could. As the group was following the mist they encountered another three vampires and made quick work of them. As that encounter was happening another group was coming down the hall from behind so I fell back into the entry room to wait for them to pass and ambush them. Before I was able to take advantage of my hidden spot a large ball of magical fire exploded among the group, so before I decided to follow out after swinging at one of the vampires when he ran by I cast a spell to resist fire. The group managed to take the remaining one done rather quickly so I saved myself from taking needless damage from a ball of fire wielding caster and cast another spell that would allow me to move through difficult terrain easier in the meantime.

Once that was done I moved up to the forward group with a quick spell and found the room the gaseous forms were heading and we set up shop to kill them off as they arrived. In the meantime I used a few more spells and used the wand I still had that was capable of healing. We left there and moved onto another room where we found the lich's workshop. Inside I found the bits left over from the elemental woman we encountered, Ignis, as well as another fragment of the meteorite. We gathered what we could, me the chunk of meteorite that went into Vex's magical hole of storage and Vex taking all the tools he could grab.

We found other highly disturbing things and reasons to clear this nest out so I changed into the form of a large earth elemental and my new found height put my head about four feet from the ceiling. We moved into the throne room and suddenly Macer was hit by some necrotic spell that looked to drain him of all fluids. Amazingly though he was still standing. Right after that the room was filled with a poisonous cloud followed by an incendiary blast that singed my rock hide. Seeing that the cloud was going to move into Lugh shortly I cast my fast movement spell and with the speed of the worlds largest cheetah I ran forward and up the stairs grabbing Lugh along the way. Because of my long arm span I was able to hold him outside of the cloud, which I was immune to, and eventually deposit him opposite of me next to the lich. Things were going to get real interesting.

Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been, well, months at least since my last confession. Actually, I'm not real sure about the sinning part. Everyone that I've been involved with killing was either a) already dead, or b) REALLY needed killing. I don't feel bad about any of that. I kind of feel bad about the blue goop that seems to be in almost endless supply. Just yesterday Vex and Huge raided another set of storage vaults of the Collective here in Kaer Magga. They haven't said anything about it, but there has been a stash of the stuff in every vault so far; it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a) they found more, and b) they are keeping it from the rest of us.

I worry about this stuff, especially since we discovered that it is basically distilled souls of sentient beings. Saunders has been unlucky enough to have had a couple of them forced down his throat when he was dying, and I got my first one (for the same reason) earlier today. Macer seems to suck them down like blueberry nectar whenever he has an excuse, and he certainly seems better off for it. He's nearly as good a fighter as Huge is now. Still slow as molasses (in every sense of the word), but I suppose we can't have everything.

Perhaps I should set aside my judgemental attitude; it certainly seems that we need all the help we can get in our current situation, and after all, we weren't responsible for making the stuff. Plus, there is as yet no evidence that we can cause any of the golem-folk to reanimate by using it on them (though it has yet to fail in any other circumstance we've tried), and the only "people" who seem to even know about the stuff (other than us) are the Vampires of the Collective. Isn't it better for us to use it for 'good' purposes? Yes, that is disingenuous at best, I've never really bought into any of that "the end justifies the means" crap. Too many good guys wind up becoming exactly what they hate that way.

I don't know, I've never been much of a philosopher. Perhaps if we get a break one of these days I will take some time off and invent a science of ethics. I'll have to invent some sort of symbolic logic first of course, but that shouldn't be too hard. That crazy magus Koriel we met in Sandpoint was smarter than most mundanes, and she said her erstwhile crush Freiderich was smarter; maybe I can get them interested and then just fix whatever they come up with. Nah, it would be quicker to just do it myself.

What with all this walking around ready to counterspell anyone we meet, I have too much time to think. We found the Lich's workshop, and it seems that he has modified Oona's dad with demonic tissue. He's likely immune to sunlight now, and other evidence points to him drawing the local Collective into this throne room arrangement tomorrow to destroy them en mass. I'm tempted to ask the others to retreat and let him accomplish that task so that we can come back and smash him in the aftermath (if any of them manage to survive long enough to do him damage that would be a good thing, and fewer vampires in the world is even better), but I know that Huge won't quit until he or the Lich is destroyed (haven't told him about the phylactery yet; his head might explode if he found out that the Lich will be back even if we win today). Also, if daddy is making a move now it means that he thinks he can take on the Collective everywhere, which means he either a) is expecting to gain something awful by way of sacrificing them by the dozens, b) wants to be the one and only super-demonic vampire and go off to rule the world from beyond the grave, or c) all of the above.

There is currently a stacked Cloudkill and Incediary Cloud between me and the Lich, and he thinks he's being cute by using still and silent on the spells. It will take more than that to keep me from countering him...IF I can get to a place where I can see him. I hope Nina has a Dimensional Anchor ready; from the sound of things, Huge, Macer and Lugh have him surrounded and my fear is that he will start quickened Dimension Dooring around the place like a pinball and we won't be able to gang up on him again. It's now or never.

"Hey, Saunders! Over here!"

Oh my goodness! Am I really witnessing the birth of a mini-Gödel?!?!? Woo hoo! :-P

Scarab Sages

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NobodysHome wrote:

Oh my goodness! Am I really witnessing the birth of a mini-Gödel?!?!? Woo hoo! :-P

Well, Emma does have a 33 INT stat at the moment, so I wouldn't be too surprised. Now if we could only get Lint to stick to the Metamagic limits on spell levels...

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