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So, I was not unfamiliar with campaign journals written from the PC's point of view: When Shiro ran Carrion Crown, he made each of us keep an in-character journal for his reading enjoyment. But it wasn't until Moxie's Magnificent Journal of her trip through Useplanb's Rise of the Runelords campaign that I realized that a player journal could be something magical. Something wonderful. Something well worth reading.
I tried on my own, first in Gothbard's failed Second Darkness campaign, and then again in Impus Minor's extremely short-lived Mummy's Mask campaign, but it wasn't until Shiro decided to write his own AP that I got a real live, complete character journal. And hoo, boy. It had to be a gnome. That stuff isn't easy to write!
Shiro, tired of every AP author's tendency to ignore/violate the rules or write their own rules, create books so disjoint the overall plot made little sense (I'm looking at YOU, Carrion Crown!), or made the monsters do things so utterly stupid it broke immersion (such as the classic, "I'm going to ignore the commotion outside and wait for the PCs to kick in my door before I take any actions!"), decided to write his own.
And it's been a wild ride. We started on January 28, 2018. We've played 56 sessions, and are hoping to finish up "Book 6" by the end of the year. Now that we're close to the end, Shiro's getting ready to prep the book for publishing, so he's given me permission to publish the journal at a rate of one entry a week, giving him a year to get it published before I finish posting.
All that being said, here we go...
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Trigonomopherianogglepatrix Belmafoodleptock was born in a happy tumble in Umok, Isger. Unfortunately, her parents died during the goblin wars and she was taken in as an orphan by the Church of Asmodeus.
Unfortunately for the Church of Asmodeus, that is.
The paladin of Erastil who found her among the ruins knew that he could not care for her, yet knew that turning her over to an Asmodean orphanage would doom her to a life of servitude and cruelty. So, he "negotiated" with the church. They would actually do their jobs, and raise her and educate her, only "disciplining" her as appropriate and not on a whim, and giving her her freedom when she came of age. While this did not sit well with the clergy, they HAD agreed to open orphanages, and nothing the paladin asked for was outside of the scope of their charter, so, reluctantly, they took the young gnome in.
She was as much trouble as a young gnome would be expected to be; no more, no less. Sneaking about the church after hours, stealing extra food for herself or her fellow orphans, getting into places she shouldn't and out of places she should have been, all were fairly expected by the clergy, and their half-hearted attempts at discipline only lacked fervor because they knew gnomes, and knew that she wouldn't change. So they attempted to at least instill in her a sense of gratitude towards the church, such that once she was on her own she might send some of her earnings back to them.
That didn't work either, so the moment she was of age they gave her the appropriate gear as a going-away present, and asked her to kindly never return. It was a promise she was sure she could keep.
Sword at her hip, backpack on her back, Trig set forth in search of adventure, to make her fortune and live an interesting life. She'd heard that Haugin's Ear was a good place for starting adventurers, so she boarded a river boat and headed off for adventure!
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 1, Played 28-Jan-2018
We arrived separately in Haggin's Ear -- a small river port town so named because a wizard had transformed a giant into stone, and the giant had slowly sunk into the muck over the years until only half his head sticks up, with one ear sticking prominently towards the sky. Well done, nameless wizard!
The first thing I saw was a poor elf girl who was so far gone her hair was absolutely WHITE! I raced over to the dear thing, got out my makeup kit, and gave her my alchemist's fire. THAT ought to cheer her up!
We learned that the main tavern and inn was named the Garden Inn, and we would likely be able to find adventure there. The white-haired elf (Llewelyn, I think) said that she was looking to kill some undead. It sounded like fun, so I asked to tag along. The third member of our party was a queer, quiet little gnome named Thorn, with a fancy-schmancy staff that screamed, "Magic." He was apparently originally from Gillamoor, and was hoping to go back there to find his parents' corpses and go bury them some place nicer. Honestly, it's hard to blame him. If I knew where *my* parents' corpses were, I sure wouldn't want them lying around in some undead-infested, undead-spewing city. Our fourth party member was Kronk, an aptly-named, run-of-the-mill, run-up-and-smash things human. Always handy to have a big burly meat sack around!
We walked up the main street together, and Whitey (Llewelyn) just up and started shooting at crows! I knew she had some fun left in her! it turned out it was an undead crow (creepy!), but I stabbed it a little and Whitey smashed it but good. Kronk hit the ground really, really hard, and Thorn looked a little sick. I worry about him. He's got no sense of fun in danger in him!
Some townsfolk saw Whitey dispatch the crow and offered us free drinks. My group was rising in my eyes already! So we walk over to the inn, and right there in the front entrance is a great big co-ed bath, big enough for me to swim laps in! I LOVE this city! I got my drink, stripped down, and jumped in the bath. And for once there were no priests yelling, "Trig, no running naked around the temple! No bathing in the unholy fountain! That's another 30 lashes!"
Ah, that's one thing I won't miss! The Asmodean's sense of "discipline"! I swear, you violate five or six of their "rules", and they act like the world is coming to an end! I'm glad to be rid of them, and I'm sure they were glad to be rid of me.
So, the townsfolk told us that the undead crow was a scout, and there would be an undead attack tonight. They didn't seem particularly concerned, but I figured if I could kill a few of the things, I might be able to make some coin to buy more toys for my adventuring. Thorn and I, being sensible gnomes, got ourselves private rooms and breakfasts! HUMAN-sized breakfasts! Ah, the life of a gnome outside of Umok is truly luxurious! Llewelyn and Kronk, being more human-like, decided they'd pay for the common floor. But Llewelyn showed her gnomish nature by paying for the common area and then setting up her sleeping mat in the middle of some unused lounge. Clever girl! But I was just as happy to have a bed big enough to fit a dozen of me. There would be jumping tonight!
The evening was pleasant enough. A bunch of humans, a few gnomes, and some others sat around in the common room as a bard played and everyone made sure the place was secured against the oncoming undead horde. Most people went to bed at some grossly unreasonable hour before moonset, so I took it upon myself to watch the upstairs in case of trouble.
Around midnight, I heard a faint skritching, so I woke Llewelyn from her slumber and she threw a lit up silver piece down from the lounge to the pool below. Skeleton rats! Chewing through the ropes holding the windows shut! I thought they said undead were stupid! Speaking of stupid, as Llewelyn tied off a rope to lower herself down to the pool, I woke up Thorn and made for the stairs... only to find the door barred on my side! If I went through, I'd be endangering the non-fighting guests!
Ah, well! I turned around and cannonballed into the pool. It was a beautiful dive if I do say so myself, and I only got Llewelyn a little bit wet. As we set at the rats, big ol' Kronk ran in to help, and Thorn came crawling along the ceiling like a great big green-haired cockroach. Did I mention he's a weird 'un?
So, Whitey had told me all about how I had to use a slashing weapon against undead, so I used my dagger against the little rat things, and it didn't do any good at all! THEN she said, "Oh, no! That's a skeleton! Use something blunt," so i had to waste some of the inn's excellent vintage beating a dead rat over the head with a bottle. It bit me a little, but then it lay still.
Kronk seemed to be doing OK on his side, though he was bleeding a lot more than I was, and Llewelyn and Thorn were helping out. Though Thorn was more like, "Falling off the ceiling, breaking up the furniture, and confusing the undead."
It seemed to work, so whatever.
Before we could catch our breath from the rats, more undead crows flew in. We finished them off pretty quickly, but not quickly enough: Real human zombies came through the windows! I got hit pretty hard, and so did Llewelyn. Kronk tried to help us out and got hit pretty hard. Then came the burning skeletons. Seriously? Kronk hit one and it blew up, knocking him cold and hurting me pretty bad. I had to get Kronk to safety, so I had to drag his sorry huge carcass away from the fray. I don't know where Thorn did his training, but he was panting like a water buffalo in heat, and moving about as fast as one. Apparently hand-to-hand combat wasn't his forte. Llewelyn was hanging in there, but we needed to back up. Another burning skeleton walked up and knocked out Thorn. It was time to go! I grabbed Thorn and ran for the door. Llewelyn woke up Kronk, and he got up and followed. Whitey, showoff that she is, stayed in the room until the very last minute as two bleeding skeletons came crawling in to get her. She made it out in time, and they walked right into our waiting ambush. Skeletons pulverized!
The townsfolk were pretty darned organized through the whole thing: They'd used some rope Kronk gave them to tie off their window, then when I handed them Thorn they got him right onto a ready-made bedroll and made sure he was OK. We waited the rest of the night out, but we weren't attacked again. In spite of her badassery, Llewelyn looked pretty spent in the morning. Thorn got nearly a full night's sleep (lucky stiff), and Kronk and I, used to the night life, just shrugged it off as, "We'll get our sleep later."
I washed off, had breakfast, and the mayor came around and offered us a job: Killing all the undead in the traps outside of town. It was light work, but lots of fun, and it felt good getting some revenge on their ornery undead butts. When we got back, he gave us 1,000 gold pieces each!!!!
Adventuring! This is the life for me!
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Sure! There have been many, many deaths, so I won't spoiler beyond, "I'll introduce the new PCs as they come in."
Gender and Race: Male Gnome
Class: Sorcerer (Verdant Bloodline)
Player: Lara Croft Guy
Campaign Trait: Gillamoor refugee: After the Goblin Wars, Gillamoor fell to a zombie plague. This PC escaped Gillamoor but left family behind there
Notes: Thorn was amazingly unlucky, falling off things, getting sickened, and so forth. Trig was convinced he was a gnome who wanted to turn into a plant for reasons she couldn't understand
Gender and Race: Albino Female Half-Elf
Class: Inquisitor of Pharasma
Campaign Trait: None
Notes: When Trig first saw Llew, she thought she was in danger of bleaching from boredom, which is why she gave her the alchemist's fire. I seem to recall that Llew ended up throwing the fire at Trig, and Trig thought that was awesome.
Gender and Race: Male Human Shoanti
Campaign Trait: None
Notes: We only had three players and we needed a tank, so I volunteered to play a dumb-as-a-rock barbarian just to fill out the party and provide some much-needed DPS
Gender and Race: Female Gnome
Campaign Trait: Orphan of Asmodeus: After the Goblinblood wars, hundreds (if not thousands) of children were left orphaned. While some might see tragedy, the temple of Asmodeus saw opportunity and moved in, opening orphanages throughout Isger to train a new generation in the faith
Notes: Yes, this is indeed the Trig from my original Curse of the Crimson Throne game. I'd always wanted a chance to reprise her, because she was amazingly fun to play. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, once you get past 10th level or so rogues become pretty useless, but Trig still finds a way.
EDIT: At the moment it's still the same 3 players, Trig is still alive, and we're 18th level going on 19th for the final fight.
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 2, Played 03-Feb-2019
Well, it turns out that not all the news was good that morning. All the people were grateful to us for driving off “the worst undead attack in history”, but not everybody made it. The Masons, shopkeeps, had had their house broken into as well. Same thing as us, windows were opened from the inside, except this time they didn’t have a bunch of adventurers in the house. Mr. Mason got beaten up pretty badly, but he’ll survive, but a googly-eyed clawed-and-fanged thing (I recognized a ghoul when I heard one) made off with their teenage daughter Marilyn. While I’m all for kidnapping teenage daughters in the right way, a ghoul ain’t ever the “right” way. Poor Mr. Keegan, our wonderful innkeep, had the same thing happen to his son Alec! Even though he’d posted a guard in the house, undead had gotten in when someone (wonder who?) chewed through the lines on the shutters and let the ghoul in, and it beat up the guard and made off with Alec. What did the undead want with a couple of teenagers? Heck, I’d pay money to keep ‘em outta my cave!
Anyway, the townsfolk asked us to rescue them, and of course we said, “Yes,” because it would take some kind of monster to say otherwise. Even the kids came around to tell us how “nice” Alec and Marilyn were, and would we please rescue them? I bought the kids some candy and reassured ‘em we would take care of it. The townsfolk were ecstatic, and Mr. Keegan and Ms. Mason were grateful that we were going to try. They let us shop, so I got a few little toys just because and I bought myself a pony and named him Nippy, ‘cause that’s what he was all right! Nobody else bought a horse, ‘cause they said it wasn’t safe. I figured Nippy could run faster than I could, so he’d be OK. Thorn asked if he could ride behind me. I said, “Sure!” I think he’s kind of got a thing for me, but he’s such a weird, timid little gnome! He could at least light me on fire or stab me or something! Make it interesting!
So, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m a city gnome. Can’t find my way out of a grass field. So I sat with Thorn on Nippy while Llewelyn and Kronk found the way for us. I don’t know how they could see so much of the ground with their eyes so high off of it, but they led us into the woods. Once we were in the woods ol’ Thorny started perkin’ up. His hair stood up on end, he straightened up, and I was tempted to check other parts of him but I didn’t think anyone else in the group would have appreciated it, even Thorn. Weird gnome.
Well, we walked a little ways and then a giant gout o’ fire hit us all in the face. Not enough to really hurt anybody; just a little gnome love tap. I managed to hide behind Nippy, but he carried me and Thorn off into the woods. Kronk had to come fetch us. Nippy’s new name was Burny. Apparently it was a Burning Hands trap, and Llewelyn told us to be careful and on the lookout for more.
A while later (we were in the woods, so I had no idea what time it was), we came up to two wagons in a bush-rimmed clearing with a lot of mangled corpses around a central fire. Not a great decorating feature, in my mind. I tried to sneak in, but the bushes were covered with some ectoplasmic goo, and heck if I was going to get that all over myself just to get a peek at some dead bodies. I went back and reported to the group, so we all approached. I tried to hide near the bushes again, and me and an ectoplasmic guy spotted each other at the same time. I ran up to try to get in a stab, but Kronk came up behind me, swung over me, and SMASH! Pulverized the thing in a single blow, showering me in fresh, disgusting, smelly, slimy, sticky, eeew! grey goo! Damn it, Kronk! On top of that, there were three more of the creatures! Llewelyn moved in, while Thorn took to the trees and started using Magic Missiles. Once again, I ran up, slashed one, and Thorn hit it with a Magic Missile and BOOM! More goo all over me! Damn it, Thorn! I ran over to Llewelyn, figuring she was a lady and wouldn’t smash goo all over me. Nope. I was a wet mess. Kronk and Thorn finished off the last one, and Thorn proved himself even more useful by Prestidigitating us clean. But then he turned some of the goo into chocolate pudding and offered me some. There’s some gnome in there after all!
Llewelyn explained the corpses to us: The ghoul had paralyzed the four guys, then someone lit a fire using Burning Hands so that the guys suffered and died horrifically in an area infused with magic, turning them into undead. There was a necromancer in the woods. And he needed to die. We searched the wagons and found some trade goods, got Llewelyn and Kronk shovels, and they buried the dead. Llewelyn said some nice words of Pharasma over ‘em to keep ‘em from coming back again, and we moved on.
Kronk lost the trail for a while, but Llewelyn picked it back up for him. Then the giant spear-javelin thingy stuck right through his chest. Llewelyn gave me a look. The kind of look that says, “Hey, little miss sneakthief! What are you doing sitting there on your fat little singed pony with another gnome’s arms around your waist while your big burly barbarian is getting stabbed by every trap on this trail?”
She’s got expressive eyes, Llewelyn does.
As she was communicating with glareage, I heard 3 critters coming through the woods towards us. Coming fast. I took cover in order to ambush ‘em, Thorn went back up a tree, and Llewelyn and Kronk prepared to meet ‘em in battle. They were zombies, but they were really, really, really fast zombies! Unfortunately, they saw me, so it was one-on-one for a moment. Kronk fixed that instantly by splattering his, and headed my way to help. Unfortunately, I was so busy watching him come that when I turned back to look at my zombie it was just in time to catch his fist with the side of my head. Then it was pain and blackness.
I came to looking into Llewelyn’s eyes. Now they were saying, “Be more careful, you stupid reckless gnome!”
These were 3 more guards from the wagon, putting it at 5 guards for a pair of wagons. Something was fishy about those wagons, but we didn’t have time to investigate further, as there were kids to save. Llewelyn didn’t even want to take the time to bury these three proper-like, so we just kind of left ‘em half-lying there, speaking a few words over ‘em and moving on. Of course I went and tried to find Burny (like I thought, he ran away at any sign of danger. Smart pony) and got lost in the woods. *SIGH*. Kronk eventually found me and bailed me out. I hate the woods.
After all the traps we’d run into, I took the lead with Kronk, leaving Thorn on Burny. So, all that “training” I got from the clerics of Asmodeus to help them in “retrieving” “misplaced” “items of value”? It doesn’t do diddly-squat for you in the woods! Yeah, you can look for an out-of-place tile, or a carpet square with more dust on it than the other bits of carpet, but who the heck digs a giant pit in the middle of nowhere and then puts ghoul-drool-covered spikes in it?!?!? One sick bastard, that’s who! Kronk, Llewelyn, and I all tumbled into the pit, getting stuck full of holes. Llewelyn healed us up and Thorn lowered MY rope to us to get us out, but Llewelyn told us she had Ghoul Fever, and we had to promise we’d kill her before we let her become a ghoul. Easy promise! If we were still alive in 3 days, it would be a miracle!
I didn’t even try to protest that I wasn’t any good in the woods. I just dutifully walked along until I fell into the next pit. This one was deeper, but at least it didn’t have spikes. But it was seriously deep. I mean, the guy who dug this pit had serious mental disorders deep. So as Thorn lowered the rope again, a couple of ghouls came charging towards us. Kronk clambered up the rope and clobbered one as it arrived, but, being human, was paralyzed by the other one just as quickly. Llewelyn used a scroll to unparalyze him and he dispatched the other ghoul, but Llewelyn looked him over and, sure enough, Ghoul Fever. *SIGH*
It was getting on into the evening, but we had finally found the necromancer’s lair! The sneaky bugger had dug his cave right under the giant that gave Haugin’s Ear its name! We had a brief discussion as to our resources, but there were kids in danger and we decided to push on. Would that we hadn’t! I drank the potion of Hide from Undead I’d bought from Mrs. Mason and scouted ahead. In the very first room were 6 zombies, 2 skeletons, and 2 zombie dogs. One heck of a fight… if we didn’t take precautions.
I handed everyone an alchemist’s fire with orders to hit the zombies in the center of the crowd. We raced forward, but the zombies were faster. They engaged us after only a couple of flasks of fire, and one even bumped into me, making me visible. One of the dogs knocked Kronk down, and he bravely tried to fight from the ground as I tried to get Llewelyn’s wand of Cure Light Wounds to work for me (it did once!) and she tried to help him mop up. Thorn threw a flask of fire off into the back of the cave. So much for being “gnomelike”. What gnome can’t throw alchemist’s fire? Well, Kronk finally tried to stand up, and the zombies pounded him unconscious, then kept pounding. We heard the sickening crunches and knew it was time to run. I don’t know whether Llewelyn was planning on sacrificing herself or what, but I told her I wasn’t going to run without her, so when I ran, she followed me. We ran about halfway back to Burny before we saw they weren’t following us. Llewelyn healed herself up, snuck back to the cave, and dragged Kronk’s body back to us. The least we could do was ensure he wouldn’t be reanimated to fight against us.
We put him on Burny and made it back to the wagons that night. We searched the wagons thoroughly and found 50 gold ingots! Amazing! I sent Burny off into the woods, figuring the zombies would be searching for us, then hid everyone in the wagons. We heard the undead around us that night, but they didn’t come in. It took a while to know whether Burny was coming back in the morning, but eventually he must have gotten hungry because he found us.
Weary, wounded, and bedraggled, our wounded crew staggered back into town. The townsfolk were full of despair. I tried to reassure ‘em that it would take days of suffering before the kids turned into ghouls, but Llewelyn clocked me on the head with a shield (it hurt!) and said something more reassuring about how we needed to regroup, resupply, get a replacement for Kronk, and head back out.
Both the town cleric and a wandering paladin volunteered, but we needed to leave one of them to guard the town in case of another attack. Decisions, decisions…
We WILL get back to that necromancer cave. We WILL find him. And I’ll have his guts for garters!
No. No I won’t. That sounds slimy. And cold.
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Yep. 2 sessions in and we'd all gone to negative hit points and we had a PC death. The first few sessions were a rough ride.
Next week we'll get to meet:
Gender and Race: Male Dwarf
Class: Paladin of Torag
Player: Lara Croft Guy
Campaign Trait: Sent by the Church: Forthrecht's church sent him to investigate the undead uprisings
Notes: At the rate PCs were dropping, we figured we'd do a round-robin on who played the fourth PC: Me, then Lara Croft Guy, then GothBard, etc...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 3, Played 10-Feb-2018
Our first order of business was to turn those wonderful bars of gold into cold, hard, spendable cash. I got volunteered for the duty, which was kind of silly because the gold weighed more than I did, but my other choice was helping deal with poor dead Kronk so I figured I had the better end of the bargain. Plus I had Burny. So I loaded up Burny with the gold, went over to the moneychangers, and turned it in. He looked sour enough to have been born half-lemon and half-sourpuss, but he gave me fair trade for the gold and I divvied it up with Thorn and Llewelyn. After nearly losing all my stuff on Kronk's corpse and then having to carry the gold around, I went straight to Mrs. Mason's and asked about a Handy Haversack. Much to my delight and relief, she had one! For small people, no less! Nothing short of a miracle, and no more relying on big people or dumb animals (or both) to carry my stuff for me! (Sorry, Kronk, that was probably uncalled for. But you're dead, so you won't yell at me for it.)
Llewelyn suggested that we ask the townsfolk about necromancers, kidnappings, and the like to try to get more information. She's a smart one. I decided to work on the kids, while Llewelyn asked the adults, and I know Thorn went out and did Thorn stuff, but heck if I know what he does. He's a weird tree gnome. Must be part dryad or something. Likable guy, but I doubt I'll ever figure him out. Anyway, the kids didn't want to talk to me (I get that a lot), so I went to Mrs. Mason's and got some juggling balls, cards, and other paraphernalia to put on an impromptu magic show for the kids. It didn't get them to talk any more than before, but it passed time while Llewelyn did something useful.
She learned all kinds of interesting stuff: Kids had been disappearing from town for about a year now, at a rate of around 1 kid a month. And they were all troublemakers: The first kid that vanished was a cat-killer. Others were druggies. It turns out that Marilyn threw big parties for the other kids, while Alec provided the booze. Some old lady thought that was troublemaking, so she was an immediate suspect, but no, we were looking for a necromancer in the woods, apparently. So it wasn't just two kids that were missing, it was TWELVE! And every time the parents got beat up and the kids got dragged off. A heck of a lot of not-dead people for a bunch of kidnappy undead, if you ask me! Llewelyn didn't learn as much about necromancers, or angry vengeful crazy people wandering through town and threatening to steal children or anything. It just couldn't be that easy. Llewelyn said it sounded like the first kid staged his own kidnapping and was now a full-fledged necromancer, and that sounded valid enough to me, so we rolled with it.
So, being an inquisitor, she kept inquisiting. Mr. Keegan confirmed everything she'd heard, and even told us that Haugin's Ear was supposedly haunted. The mayor even put up a proclamation that everyone was to stay away from it. The mayor, eh? Next time I saw him I'd have to check him for long fingernails or a cold, clammy handshake. The mayor seems to know a lot of things about the bad things going on around in town.
Once she was done talking, we were eager to get back on the road to save the kids, but now we had a problem: We had the cleric, and we had not one but TWO paladins, and they didn't seem to like each other much. There was a halfling paladin of Chaldira Zuzaristan, and a dwarven paladin of Torag. I didn't want to say anything that would get me into real trouble, but I was pretty relieved and happy when Llewelyn and Thorn chose the dwarf. Paladins of Chaldira Zuzaristan have a habit of failing to protect gnomes. Ask my parents. Oh, that's right. You can't.
I politely asked the dwarf whether he was a boy or a girl, and it turned out he was a boy. It was kind of a relief, because he just looked like a regular old dwarf, but at the same time don't you deep inside just once want to see a female dwarf naked? I just have all kinds of questions! But they can wait. Where there's one dwarf, there are bound to be more, and I'm sure some of them will be girls! Anyway, the dwarf's name was something like Forthreet, so I figured he wouldn't mind if I called him Forth. Which kind of sounds like summoning a demon, which is funny because he's a paladin, but anyway...
On our way back to the cave, we did a thorough check of the wagons, but nothing had changed; the undead weren't interested in anything other than living victims, so they'd left the rest alone. At the cave, they'd done a rather pathetic job of re-covering the 30' pit, but I spotted it. No falling in with Kronk today. Aww! I miss Kronk! After my disastrous planning last time, I was just as happy that Forth made a tactical suggestion. Unfortunately, he was a dwarf, so it pretty much amounted to, "Run in the door and hit them all until they die."
We tried it anyway, though I whinged some alchemist's fire off into who-knows-where as we were running up (OK, can't tease Thorn about that any more). So I don't really get why we did it, but Forth and Llewelyn ran halfway into the room so all the zombies started hitting them, then Forth stepped back and let Llewelyn get pounded on. She complained a lot, but he said it was all part of the plan. One she was good and tenderized, she stepped back and he took her place. I guess that made sense, but I kind of figured a paladin would be all gentlemanly and volunteer to take the pounding first. Since they were hogging all the glory, I tossed another alchemist's fire onto one of the skeletons in the back and had the pleasure of watching it burn to the ground. But I was still kind of just standing there, occasionally stabbing a zombie in the leg with my dagger. Even Thorn in the back with his wand of Magic Missile was getting more action. I got pretty tired of being completely ignored, so I danced in and stabbed one in the back. By sweet Asmodeus' pierced teats, it went down! I nearly squeaked with joy! As Forth moved to provide me with another flank, I stabbed another, and it dropped, too! Maybe these "tactics" really did work! But I was glad I wasn't Llewelyn. But we did it! We returned to the site of our humiliation and Kronk's downfall and we kicked their zombie butts!
Llewelyn healed us all up and mentioned that her wand was getting pretty low. Forth's "tactics" were going to empty the wand in short order. But we had enough resources for at least one more fight, so we looked to move on. The cave was crudely-dug dirt, and Forth mentioned that the people who'd made it weren't very good at it. The passage out of the entrance was a pretty steep slope. Most disgusting of all, we were in the giant's head, and we could see in the ceiling that they'd been mining out the giant's earwax. Who would pay for petrified giant earwax? Even I wouldn't buy crap like that!
Did I mention our paladin's a dwarf? I had pitons and ropes in my Handy Haversack, but he said, "Oh, no, no! We don't need that stuff! I'm a dwarf!"
And then he went tumbling down the slope. I nearly wet myself giggling until I heard the loud "Smack" that said, "Your dwarf is in trouble!"
We headed down to help him and oh my god what is that STENCH!?!?!? There was a creature (Llewelyn called it a 'necrocraft'; I call it the 'King of Stinky') clawing at Forth. I tried to dance past it, but the vomit in my mouth made that kind of hard and it gave me a solid thwack on the side as I passed it. And its claws were slimy. Eeeew! I don't know how I kept it together, but between me on one side, and Forth, Llewelyn, and Thorn on the other, the stinky thing died quickly. But it didn't stop stinking, damn it!
So the party was kind enough to wait for me to get over my sick as we looked around. There were more signs of people mining giant stone organs, and again we wondered why. There was another steep dirt slope going down. I pulled out my pitons and started juggling them. The dwarf, being a paladin, didn't hit me. Score one for the good guys! As we sat there, we started hearing faint cries for help! The kids were alright! Or some horrific abomination was mimicking them and trying to lure us to our doom! One or the other.
For reasons unknown to me (eyeroll and innocent look), Forth decided we could use pitons and a rope on this slope, so we got it all secured and Forth headed down. Llewelyn followed, and they were in combat before Thorn and I even had a chance to grab the rope!
By the time I got there, Forth was in the grasp of a giant undead hand... and no other parts! He looked like a stress relief doll as the giant hand squeezed him and his beady little dwarf eyes bugged out and his tongue poked out from his beard, but even I could hear the ribs cracking so we needed to do something. Llewelyn told me not to poke it or slash it, and burning it with Forth in its grasp wouldn't be good, so I was kind of out of my entire repertoire. My first step was to grease up the dwarf. That didn't seem to help much. Apparently dwarves are naturally sticky or something. Must be all that dirt. Then I realized I had bottles and bottles of holy water in my Handy Haversack! I started dumping holy water all over the nasty hand while Thorn Magic Missiled it and it tried to crawl away up another passage, Thorn in tow. Llewelyn tried to keep poor Forth alive and conscious. Llewelyn succeeded on the first, but not the second, so it dropped Forth and came after... eep! Me! It hit hard, but it didn't grab me. See, Forth? Take a bath once in a while and critters have a harder time getting a grip on your silky smooth skin! I dropped another holy water on it, and this one seemed to hurt it a lot, then Thorn finally downed it with a Magic Missile. Fortunately, it didn't explode.
Unfortunately, the party was pooped. Both Llewelyn and Forth said they needed to rest, and even our stalwart little weird Magic Missile machine said he could use a nap in the woods. The woods? I still wonder whether he's really a gnome.
Since I was still feeling pretty chipper, I offered to ride back to town to get some much-needed supplies as the others rested. Thorn pulled out over 1500 gold pieces so I could buy a couple of wands of Cure Light Wounds. Y'know what? He really isn't that bad-looking after all, and "weird" isn't necessarily "bad". Anyway...
Burny knew the way back to town, so we got there real quick, reassured the townsfolk that everyone was fine and it was just a resupply, and I got some wands and some holy water, and the nice cleric even threw in an extra one on the house! I guess I really am that charming! Someone said something about "Jeggare gold", and I figured that was worth repeating to Llewelyn. Seems that the wagon we looted was a Jeggare wagon. Kind explains why nobody missed it.
We went back in, and just as we noticed that we'd killed the giant's right hand, but the left one was mined out of the room, we saw ol' Lefty skittering around in the room Righty had been trying to reach. THAT would have been ugly! Since Lefty was trapped and the passage was too narrow for him to come down and there were kids calling for help down below, we left him for later. Another piton and another rope led to the room with all the people in it. A creepy little girl with long black hair knelt in the center of the room, facing away from us, while the rest of the prisoners were chained to the walls. It wasn't until Llewelyn pointed it out that I noticed that we were hearing, "Help us!", but the prisoners were mouthing, "Run away!"
It didn't take Forth telling me that creepy little girl was evil to get me moving! I ran in to see her face to face... and she tried to bite me! Creepy bitey skull-faced girl! A little too late, Llewelyn said, "Don't get bit!"
Well, apparently I was too dodgy for Little Miss Creepy, because she turned around and bit Llewelyn. So I stabbed her. We all stabbed her and hit her and beat her into a mound of broken bits, and we didn't stop until we heard the prisoners' voices return to normal and Little Miss Creepy was Little Miss Crumbled. We learned a lot from the prisoners: There were a couple of guards from a caravan, but the rest were the kidnapped kids from the town, even cat-killing boy! They'd been doing forced manual labor to dig out the cave and the pits (thanks a lot, guys!) and so forth, as the necromancer created undead and reanimated giant parts. We helped them get out, and we saved 8 people. But no Marilyn or Alec so far!
The next room we found was just the giant's mined-out intestines. OK. No. I did NOT want to see those re-animated.
The last passage didn't have any good places to put a piton, so I had to use my precious, precious Traveler's Any-Tool to provide a brace for the rope, and Llewelyn's expensive silk rope to climb down. That was one expensive climb! At the end of the passage, as if he were the star of a really bad play about necromancers, our guy had put up a crappy curtain to block our view into the room. It would have been a lot more fun to set it on fire just to mess with him, but Forth was too busy running in and passing judgement and all that, and I had to follow him to make sure he didn't get grabbed by anything else nasty and slimy with an affinity for dwarves.
The room was a nightmare of, "No." First off, the giant's feet were standing there, blocking a good path through anywhere in the room. A pale, white-haired girl and a teenage boy were locked in a cage, while (of course) the giant's intestines were flailing around like blind drummers at... at... well, heck if I know where! Just blind drummers banging around the room and trying to grab stuff. The necromancer was arguing with Forth that he wasn't a "necromancer", he was a "reanimator", and to prove it he hit Forth with a bomb.
So, the fight was pretty much every bit as crazy as it could possibly be: Marilyn and Alec turned out to both be bards, and Alec sang to help us and Marilyn sang to hurt the necromancer/reanimator/bad guy/idiot who doesn't think animating dead intestines is a bad idea. The tentacles seemed pretty dangerous, but also pretty blind; they kept hitting the dirt, hitting themselves, missing us, or on occasion when they hit us curling up the wrong way and failing to grab us. The bad guy was a lot more dangerous, hurling fire and bombs and all kinds of nastiness at Forth, so once again poor Llewelyn was stuck trying to keep him alive. She eventually gave up and gave a wand to Alec, figuring if he was healing maybe she could be fighting. With his intestine-tentacle thingies not up to snuff, the poor bad guy eventually got pounded, and then we dealt with the tentacles. Victory!
We learned from Marilyn and Alec that this guy's name was Ilvarsh. They had no idea what he'd been planning on doing with them, but for most of the people he just enslaved them and make them dig for him. He has a boss named Yalnu the Pious, who operates out of Gillamoor (big surprise there), so we've got another necromancer to kill. Ilvarsh was just a lackey-boy who mined the more important giant parts for Yalnu (how, exactly, do you know which parts are important? Apparently the brain and the heart, but not the hands?). We got some scrolls and forms incriminating him, and surprise surprise, news that our local mayor was accepting bribes to look the other way. We headed back up. Forth and Llew were too tired to take on the hand, but they figured no one was going to wander into some random cave in the middle of nowhere and run up a slope to die at a hand's hand (they don't know gnomes very well, apparently), so they figured they could deal with it tomorrow. We got all the prisoners moving and got everyone back to town. Victory! Almost.
It was after dark, so no one wanted to let us in. Even after Llewelyn told Keegan that we had the prisoners, then threatened to burn the place down, he wouldn't let her in. I do like her style. Finally Alec spoke up and Keegan opened the door immediately! We tumbled into the inn, I tried to buy drinks for everyone but Keegan had already made them on the house, and we had a bit of an impromptu celebration. It was all kinds of fun, and then all the magicky types had to go to bed, so I did too.
In the morning we had the joy of visiting our beloved mayor. The moment he saw us he panicked and tried to run. Thorn tripped him with one of his handy vines. Since I hadn't gotten to try it out in the caves, I used my Alchemical Glue to glue him to the floor. Since nobody stopped me, I figured it was the right thing to do. The moment Forth started questioning him he spilled his guts like a great stone giant being mined by a necromancer: Ilvarsh and Yalnu had been paying him off first to keep people away from Haugin's Ear, but then to provide "workers". He'd point at a misbehaving townsperson and POOF! They'd be gone. He tried to use the money to make the city better, just to assuage his guilt. But he'd already been thinking of handing off Keegan as the next worker, and anyone who has the town's only tavernkeep taken away is Evil in my books. But we had the records of the payments from House Jeggare and his confession, so Forth and Llewelyn were content with turning him over to the townsfolk for trial, and they sent him on to the capital with all the evidence against him. Ilvarsh was different. Llewelyn took him into a separate room and I heard some screams, but they weren't hers so I didn't go in. She had a look about her that said she was going to get answers, and the screaming didn't last all that long, so I figured she couldn't have hurt him... much. First we learned a lot we already knew: Ilvarsh was just a lacky, and Yalnu's the real power in these parts. Not only that, but Yalnu's a real necromancer. One more guy I have to stab! He claims to be the guy who crafted the Gillemore Plague and released it on the city, and apparently he's working on a newer, bigger, better plague, which is why he needed the giant bits.
So our next destination is Gillemore. Llewelyn wants to go to kill undead. Thorn wants to bury his parents (killing them first if necessary, I'm sure). Forth is a paladin who just heard of a great evil, so I figure he's probably going to join us. Me? I've got nothing better to do, and I'm growing fond of this lot, even if our "tactics" don't seem to be doing so well so far...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 4, Played 17-Feb-2018
Morning! Time for selling our loot and wonderful, wonderful shopping! I replenished my alchemicals, added some solvent just in case the wrong bits got glued together (always a worry!), and got myself some undead-killing toys: A mithral dagger and a cold iron dagger. I figured Llewelyn could tell me which one to use. I looked around for an adamantine dagger, but Mrs. Mason said that they didn't have any, and even if they did I probably couldn't afford one. I'd call her cheeky, but she knew how much we'd brought in, and she was always straight with us, so I put it on my, "Buy it later" list. Speaking of cheeks, since we'd be camping out in the woods (shudder) at night (shudder), I got myself a Campfire Bead and some warm winter blankets to make sure mine didn't freeze off. I also got one of those fancy ioun torch thingies to help light things up when the casters were busy and torches weren't an option, and finally got myself a nice new Cloak of Resistance, plus a present for Thorn that I figure might come in handy for me as well some day.
Speaking of Thorn, Llewelyn, jealous of my miracle of modern transport Burny, bought herself a full-blown horse. I think she named it "Calamitous" or "Calamari" or "Catatonic". I wasn't paying much attention, but it sounded impressive at the time. Forthretch, not to be outdone, got himself a full draft horse and cart, 'cause like everybody knows, dwarves can't ride. All that extra weight makes 'em kind of tip over sideways-like, and they end up under the horse. He claimed it was for hauling back loot and/or survivors, and it was a good lie so I let it go. I figure dwarf paladins get a pass when it comes to explaining why they can't ride horses. "I slide off because I'm too bottom-heavy" doesn't go over well with the ladies, I'm sure. Thorn didn't buy himself a pony; he's happy enough sitting behind me with his hands on my waist. Yep, I know where Thorn's mind is. At least that part of him is normal! (At least I hope it is! I haven't seen it yet! For all I know it's shaped like some weird branch thing! Or it is a weird branch thing! Ew! Ew! Ok, Trig, get it together! Back on point...) There was some expensive ring thingy that Llewelyn wanted that Mrs. Mason didn't have, but she promised to order it for her for when we got back. Forth just had to pipe up with, "IF we get back." Damned cheerful paladins. Always a riot to ride with!
The townsfolk were all sweet and worried about us, but we reassured 'em we'd be fine. Yep, I can lie like a dwarven paladin when I need to! But Keegan, the big lug, made us all nice packed lunches and wished us well, and we rode off north (or in some directionorother. It's the woods, dammit!) towards Gillamoor. All in all, it was a nice day of riding. We had lunch in the saddle (a little awkward with Thorn poking me in the back with his elbow every time he tried to tear off a chunk of bread), made good time. and set up camp for the evening. One of the folks as know more than me about this area (that would be any of them) said that the people of Haugin's Ear were used to clearing out undead, and since we were within a day of Haugin's Ear, we could be pretty sure they'd cleared all the nasties out as far as a day's ride. Good for them! A good meal and a good night's rest! Calistria bless you, Keegan! And visit you in your dreams! Mmm hmmm!
We all got up right around sunrise. I figured the religious folk were used to it for their prayers-n-such, and me, well, let's just say that growing up in an Asmodean orphanage, you sure as Hell learned to be up the moment the sun was up, or there would be Hell to pay. Literally. Thorn; I dunno. He doesn't seem to sleep much. He doesn't eat much, either. He just kind of lolls around in the sun and feels content. I'm sure it's something his halfling parents did to him. Buried him up to his neck in the pumpkin patch whenever he misbehaved, or gave him some weird halfing tea that was poisonous to gnomes, or something. He's just... not quite right somewhere. I kind of feel like I'm watching him turn into a plant before my very eyes. But hey, worse things have happened to gnomes, and he seems content, and he's pulling his weight, so what business is it of mine whether or not he wants to go full vegan? As long as he doesn't start wrapping me up in his vines in some kind of weird vegetable foreplay. <Shudder!> Eew!
The morning of the second day was much like the first, except we had to eat our own crappy rations instead of Keegan's good ones. OK. I lie a little bit. I always tell the shopkeeps I'm a halfling, so I need halfling rations. And I get butter, and bread, and jam, and honey, and sweetcakes, and oh my goodness the stuff weighs a ton, but boy do halflings know how to eat. I've had a few shopkeeps give me the impish eye, but they always sell me the rations anyway. Oh, and the roads got worse. Llewelyn told me it was because we were now more than a day out of Haugin's Ear, so they didn't come out so often. Even worse, she told me that she could tell that the road hadn't been used in about a year because of this sign and that sign and the other sign. Note to self: Keep Llewelyn alive! You'll never find your way home if you don't! And you'll end up being some kind of plant bride for Thorn with a dwarf as a best man. Not my style!
About mid-morning we came upon an animal carcass. We took all the usual precautions, with Forth telling us it wasn't undead and Thorn telling us there wasn't any magic around it. Good enough! Llewelyn went in and either she's making this stuff up or she's the best damned inquisitor in the world. "Oh, Trig! It's obvious! Just look at these marks! This is a dead horse, killed by wolves about a year ago, but they didn't eat enough of it so they were obviously zombie wolves like the ones we fought in Ilvarsh's cave..."
Whatever, Llewelyn. It was a big fat corpse. I'll trust you that you're figuring this stuff out from somewhere, but I don't see it. She kept poking at the carcass as if she was trying to figure out whether it would still make a good soup when she reached down and touched the thing to move some of it! Ew! But at least she had gloves on, and she pulled out a scroll tube. Good eye, Llew! Can I call you Llew? Well, you'll never know, because it's MY journal, so now you're Llew! The note inside was pretty sad. "Help! We're trapped in Gillamoor. Our son Jakob is on our fastest horse! The undead are following him!"
Well, godspeed to you, Jakob! If Jakob already ran away, we wondered who this bloke was. We searched around a bit for a human body, but we didn't find one. Either Jakob or his younger, slower brother Unlucky the Doomed had probably joined Yalnu's forces by now.
We moved on, seeing more similarly-dead animals as we rode along. During lunch Thorn just basked in the sun, paying no attention to his rations at all. if he grows roots, do I cut 'em so he can come along with us, or do I leave him to his happy end? Well, he keeps saying he wants to see his parents in Gillamoor, so cut 'em it is. In the afternoon we finally came upon something different: A cart instead of a horse, with some dead human skeletons around it. (And in our line of work, you really have to distinguish between "dead" skeletons and "live" skeletons. What a world!) Llewelyn and I moved up to investigate (I knew full well that Forth was too scared to get off his cart for fear of having to clamber back up onto it in all that armor, but I let him lie that he was keeping watch). Thorn started wandering off on Burny. I had no idea what he was doing. Maybe he had to take a leak. Maybe he had to pollinate. But he was being quiet, and Burny seemed happy to just wander around at random with Thorn on his back, so whatever. As I said, the dead were really dead-dead, shot full of arrows no less, so I climbed into the wagon to look around. These poor folk had all their belongings packed up into this cart and had been trying to escape Gillamoor. Which kind of messes up Llew's whole "1 year" theory since the plague hit 8 years ago, but I wasn't going to say anything. And these poor folks! I grew up in an orphanage and I had nicer stuff! I felt bad for them. Up until the moment the signal arrow whistled over our heads, signaling trouble. With all we'd seen, I figured it had to be bandit rangers with wolf animal companions. It was time to go cut some bowstrings!
I started heading out the back of the wagon just in time to see Burny take an arrow to the neck and fall to the ground! Nooooo! Burny! Now I was mad.
I tumbled off the wagon and into the undergrowth, planning on going full stealth and scoring me some kidneys, when Thorn finally decided to make his move. I heard him cast some kind of spell, and suddenly all the plants and vines around me started grabbing me and twisting me and stroking me and touching me in places a girl shouldn't be touched without her say-so, if you know what I mean! Seriously, Thorn? In the middle of a fight, and you've got to get your rocks off grabbing me with some sicko plant feelers? We were going to have words, were Thorn and I! I don't know much what happened for the next few seconds, but I heard Forth trundling through the brush as only a dwarf can trundle, and I heard Llew moving up as well. I slipped my vines (a girl's gotta stay flexible, y'know!) and decided to go after the rangers first, Thorn second. Llew called out that they were zombies. Zombie rangers? Who knew?
Following the sounds of combat, I finally got close enough to pop out of the bushes and stab at one, but one of these days YOU try bursting out of some vines that until a few seconds ago were trying to cuddle you oh-so-lustfully and swing a dagger. I missed by a mile, and the zombies decided that my little pink-haired butt was the most attractive thing to pound on! I just wasn't having a very good day. Only one of 'em hit me, but he hit hard, so I decided to leave. I danced out from between the two of 'em to give Forth a flank, and they came dancing right after me! I didn't remember putting on a different perfume that morning! Why were all the men so eager to get their hands on me? Except the dwarf. But he doesn't count, because... dwarf! I finally got in a good cut on one and he/it went down, and either Forth or Llewelyn dropped the other one. Did I mention the grass was tall around here?
As I picked at the corpses for anything valuable (they had good gear, but it was all human-sized. Feh.) and started burning the bodies (yay, Campfire Bead!), I heard a whinny. Burny was alive!!! Forth and Llewelyn had healed him! I ran over to hug them, and Pokey the Death-Defying Wonder Pony ran off into the woods, 'cause it's what he does, but I figured he'd come back when he was hungry. 'Cause it's what he does. Llewelyn was a bit more put out when Calamari went clampering off, but he didn't go far at all. Big Ol' Cart Horse the Mean Ol' Dwarf Won't Give a Name To was OK, too. But I'll call him Boch, 'cause it's a lot shorter. So anyway, after all that healing and burning and horses-running-into-the-woodsing, we realized that the zombies had set off an alarm, and there might be more coming. I voted to move forward to counter their attack, but Llewelyn decided she'd prefer to be sensible so we retreated for a bit. It didn't take long to realize we weren't being followed, so we moved on. After a little while, sure enough, there was Pokey the Death-Defying, grazing away and bleeding, as if he was getting used to it all. Good old Pokey! Llewelyn healed him a bit more and I gave him some of his special feed from his saddlebags and he cheered right up and let me ride him again. Speaking of riding, I started giving Thorn a piece of my mind about getting all horny and thorny in the middle of combat, and the little liar claimed he hadn't even seen me, and he couldn't feel through his vines anyway, and he didn't mean anything by it, and...
...yeah, he likes me. Kinda nice. He's kinda cute. But he's all woodsy. I hate the woods. Those might be some irreconcilable differences right there. Especially if he keeps grabbing me with his horny plants. But I let him ride behind me anyway. 'Cause he's weird. But he's cute.
Later in the afternoon, we came upon a bridge across a little gully that just screamed, "Undead zombie ambush!" So I sneaked up to take a peek and Forth, being Forth, just tromped up the path like a giant circus elephant trying to get a peanut. I started trying to figure out the whichways of the bridge from my vantage points in the weeds (should have told Llewelyn to hold a dagger to Thorn's neck in case he tried anything... again), but while I was still trying to figure out whether it would hold Forth's weight, he decided to go ahead and do the practical test and went running on across.
Well, first the Alarm spell went off, shrieking like Pokey when arrows hit him, then we heard something fast coming through the brush. More fast zombies?!?! Don't these guys know they're supposed to be slow and lumbering so I can scream ever-so-effeminately as I run away from them, then trip and twist my ankle and bat my eyes at them helplessly, and then burn them with fire? Before Forth was even three-quarters across the bridge they came, and this time it was fast skeletons! Is there any kind of undead they don't make fast? I ran up and hit one with my club for all the good it did me, but I bought time for Llewelyn to get there as Forth actually fought them. Once Llew arrived, I tried to dance between their legs to try to provide help from the back, but all I got was a bump on the noggin for my troubles, so I had to back off and let Llew in. By the time I'd stepped back, we could all hear more of them coming from the other side! Thorn did that horny plant thing again, but this time I wasn't in them so it was OK. Maybe he's not attracted to me at all. Maybe he likes... zombie boys? Ew ew ew! So the plants slowed down whatever was coming, and heck if I could see anything. I tried to heal myself with the wand Llewelyn had given me, but I think I bent it, or maybe it was designed for big folk, or something, but that wand just plain didn't like me. I think I heard it cussing under its breath! Just wait, Mr. Wand! I'm going to find a river and let you know what it's like to spend a thousand years in the cold, cold depths. Anyway, by some miracle the damned things didn't go for our horses, and instead came straight for us. Forth and Llewelyn finished off their skeletons just in time to come block for us again, and it was... more skeletons! These two went down a lot easier than the first two, and then another two came from across the bridge. Was is a convention or something? Thorn did his horny plant thing on this next batch (really, Thorn! Control your fetishes!) and they slowed down enough to take a pounding, and even Thorn was casting spells that did a terrific job of reducing them to bone and powder. Yeah, I didn't do a heck of a lot. I blame the wand.
We did our usual thing: Llewelyn healed us all, Forth piled up the bones so I could sort through 'em for loot, and Thorn... just basked in the sun. <shudder> As she was saying prayers over the dead, Llewelyn got all glassy-eyed as if she'd had some bad cheese for lunch, then told us she'd had a vision: Pharasma was pleased with her for what she'd done so far (good for her! What does she get?), but was really, really angry about something that was up ahead. Whelp, no choice about what to do, then. Ahead for honor, glory, and a chance for more loot! So we moved on, and after a couple of hours we spotted a chapel in the distance. Yeah, angry Pharasma. Big ol' creaky chapel. I made sure I had both my holy water and my alchemist's fire close to hand.
We rode on in, and sure enough, the chapel was all vandalized. All the corpses were dug up, the sign out front was torn down, and Pharasma's name was crossed off it. Of course there was a 5' wall around the perimeter, because letting gnomes see anything is just asking for mischief. Sizists! We heard a harpsichord playing, and it was some Pharasman hymn I must have heard at some funeralorother. There were a lot of funerals in Umok, even after the goblins were put down.
As usual, Forth, Llewelyn, and I went forward, with Thorn hanging back (looking at my tight little butt no doubt), and we listened at the wall. There were at least 3 men inside, arguing about playing the song, and about the bodies, and about all kinds of stuff. They didn't sound like bad guys. Forth peeked in. The church was totally vandalized, with corpses in all the pews, and "Useless" scrawled across the backs of them (the pews, not the corpses. I didn't undress them to check). Forth started fighting with some clerics of Pharasma. Llewelyn told me it was an illusion, and they weren't really clerics, but I didn't particularly care. I'd been raised in an Asmodean orphanage. Stabbing clerics was every little girl's dream there! So whatever. If the paladin was stabbing them and Llewelyn was stabbing them, I got to stab 'em. I just had to try hard not to cackle with glee 'cause I think Llew knew I still thought they looked like clerics. It was a stupid fight at first. They wouldn't come out, and Forth wouldn't go in. I whinged some holy water but missed horribly, and Forth finally lost his patience (you go, dwarf!) and rushed in, so I followed him. It was like a whirring fan-breeze of claws and teeth as I ran through, but only one of 'em caught me, and Llewelyn assured me later that I'd avoided catching whatever disease these things carried. But I need to work on my style; I'm getting hit way too often for a girl of my size and talents! We killed 'em pretty quick, and Llewelyn identified them as "hecubas", fallen priests who glorified in defiling their former goddess. OK. I was double glad I stabbed 'em. Llew figured the necromancer himself must have written "useless" on the corpses, because they were Pharasman and couldn't be raised. So we got to work cleaning the temple. All the dead back to their graves (man, even human children are heavy!). Covered them over, said the words, burned the undead, felt better. I wanted to call it a night, but Forth and Llew were chomping at the bit to move on, so we did.
It was getting towards nightfall when we found the next battle scene, and it was an ugly one: Lots of humans with smashed and broken armor surrounding one big giant guy, obviously the perpetrator. Sure enough, Forth told us it was undead just as it got up to start smashing. And the weird thing was, it wasn't all there. There were bits and bones missing, as if it shouldn't be able to stand. So I did the sensible thing and lit it on fire with alchemist's fire. Forth did his Smite Evil thing but he missed it, and even though Llewelyn got in a solid hit, the thing hit me hard enough I heard bones crack. It HURT! I guess it didn't like the fire. Again, I chose what any sensible gnome would do, dancing away and waggling my butt at it. It couldn't resist and swung at me again, and this time I managed to dodge its hefty swing as Llewelyn and Forth lit into it. About the best news of the fight was that I survived it. Everyone else contributed; I stayed alive.
So as I sat there, broken and bleeding, everyone else went about their business as if nothing had happened. Thanks, guys! Thorn identified one of the fallen as the town guard captain of Gillamoor, and the other men as town guards. They were all carrying little Pharasman trinket thingies that would keep them from being raised as undead, and apparently they were valuable because Llewelyn had me gather them all. Ow. Ow. The big question was, "What were the guards doing this far from town, maybe a day or two out?"
The answer came when Llewelyn started investigating the dead thing. In its body was some kind of greasy, glowy, queasy thing that Llewelyn said was the zombie plague itself. Apparently, this giant thing had been headed to Haugin's Ear to spread the plague further, and these brave men had brought it down! I gave them a teensy salute and a courtesy, since I didn't know which was appropriate, not being military and all. So instead of being sensible and burning it, Llew wanted to take it with us! I gave her my colored kerchiefs to wrap it in, and she put it in her Handy Haversack. Let's hope those things live up to their reputations!
We didn't want to camp right next to the battle, but it was near dark and it would be stupid to travel at night, so we searched for camp for a while. I whimpered enough that Llew finally got fed up and healed me a bit, since my wand and I still weren't on speaking terms, and the first camp we found was in a gully. Good cover, bad for getting away. We moved on. The second campsite was a barren hill. No again. The final campsite was a nice clump of trees and brush in the flats. Thorn would be happy, and could spore or whatever, and the rest of us could keep watch. Then Thorn told us he really didn't need to sleep much at all, either. OK, boy. You're cute and all, but the whole, "I'm a creepy inhuman monster gnome that prefers plants to flesh" is just way too over-the-top. Include me out of your little verdant fantasyland!
I took first watch with Thorn, but we didn't talk much. I didn't want to disturb him growing another ring around his middle or fruiting or whatever. Forth took second watch because dwarf. Llew took third watch, and that's when she woke us all up. Red eyes, all around us. Before we could do anything, they all flew off, cawing! Hundreds of undead ravens! I lit up my ioun torch because I knew trouble was coming, and sure enough, skeletons! But this time they weren't fast, or bleeding, or exploding, or singing opera. They were just plain ol' everyday, "Smash 'em and they fall down skeletons." So we did, and they did. And we rested for the rest of the evening.
|Trig the Gnome|
|2 people marked this as a favorite.|
Entry 5, Played 24-Feb-2018
We got up the next morning and I was still pretty bleedy, so I staggered around and whined a bit until Llew rolled her big red eyes at me and healed me up. "Happy?" "Yep!"
The scenery was still some pretty boring woods stuff, but it kept Thorn happy, and after a couple of hours we started seeing signs of former civilization: There were some smashed-up farms with ruined fields along the sides of the road. All of 'em looked pretty much the same: Doors and/or windows broken in, people gone, fields lying fallow. All in all it was pretty depressing, even for me. The more I saw, the more I looked forward to finding Yalnu's kidneys with a dagger or three. Someone pointed out that they kind of looked like the ruins around Haugin's Ear. Oh, THAT was cheerful! Thanks SO much! Looking around, Thorn said we'd arrive in the town proper around sunset. I was curious, so I asked him whether the city was this bad when he was growing up. He said it hadn't been. I believed him. He lies less than the paladin.
Around 1-2 in the afternoon we spotted a farm that wasn't in as bad shape as the rest. Curious. So how do you describe, "Not as ruined?" Well, the doors'n such were "less" bashed down. There was some green in the fields. There were some scarecrows still standing. Forth said they were really nice scarecrows. Dwarves care about the weirdest stuff. But he didn't try to pick 'em or draw a picture of 'em, so I figured he was OK. Our first order of business was the barn. I got off Pokey, figuring he'd probably go eat the really nice scarecrow or something, then snuck ahead and didn't see anything out of the ordinary, so I motioned for the rest of the group to come. Llewelyn came. Thanks! Now I know who has my back. She poked her head in the barn and she had some kind of hideous vision. Her eyes got all distant for a moment, and she said she could see all the horses alive and trapped in their stalls as the little undead rat buggers that had opened up our tavern (well, obviously not the SAME ones, I think) came in and started chewing 'em up. And they were trapped in their stalls and couldn't get away, and died a horrible death! Creepy! No wonder they were haunting the barn! Just as her vision finished, a real horse appeared! All jet black with flame-colored mane. Llew and the horse stared at each other for a minute, then it nuzzled her and knelt down and tried to get her to mount it.
Unfortunately, Llew's no gnome, so she didn't get on. Forth finally figured he was needed, so he clambered his big beardy butt off his cart (I swear, half the time I don't know whether he's a paladin or a paranoid merchant) and told us the horse wasn't evil. Llew knew it wasn't undead. Thorn finally showed up, did his magicky thing, and told us it was a Phantom Steed, some kind of magic horse that's really fast and easy to ride. Well, look at Thorn! Being useful without wrapping me up in his horny plants! Just as we were talking about how someone must have summoned it, we all heard some yelling for help from the house proper. Well, we had a paladin with us, so that was all she wrote! Off he trundled through the front yard, yelling about there being fresh bodies lying about. I traipsed after him, because he's always all kinds of fun when he's worked up, and sure enough, there were bodies around, and they didn't look all desiccated and stuff, so I figured he was right. Llew started trying to catch up (she's got that bulky coat that makes her look really cool, but makes her as slow as me), and Thorn, being Thorn, followed her.
The moment Thorn stepped in among the bodies he started screaming like the devil. He didn't make much sense at the time, but on the way home he told us he'd had visions of being in a camp with a group of comrades, sleeping under the scarecrows, when undead attacked! He ran for the house, but his friends weren't so lucky, and they all got torn limb from limb, which explained the bodies in the yard. Trouble was, his "vision" triggered some kind of haunt thingie, and it suddenly got all dark and foggy and hard to move, and we heard undead rising from the ground. Thorn started screaming for help even louder, and Forth started saying he was coming to help me. I told him I didn't need any help, and he said he was talking about the "OTHER" little one! Well, I'm littler than Thorn, so how am I supposed to know which of us he's bellowing about?
So, fog so thick you could barely move, unseen undead critters moaning and groaning and staggering around in it, Forth bellowing and huffing and puffing and getting madder and madder at me (OK, maybe I teased him a little every time he kept calling out that he was coming to save Thorn), Thorn screaming like a little girl (hey! That's MY job!), and Llew apparently just cutting into the things because we were too busy doing our own nonsense. Best. Fight. Ever. I ran around 'til I found one of the undead thingies and I stabbed it. I gotta admit, I was pretty surprised when it fell over. Llew got another of 'em. Thorn kept screaming and ran away out of the fog. I'm figuring nightmarish sauna experience with dad at some point in his childhood. Forth was just getting redder and redder 'bout my teasing, and taking out his frustration on the undead. See? I'm helping! When he finally yelled, "It's not always about YOU, Trig!", I knew I'd won. So the trouble was, with all this fooling around and Thorn screaming and stuff, the other two undead went straight for Llew, and Forth and I were too slow, and Thorn's viney things were apparently just as scared of the fog as he was and couldn't get a grip on any of the undead. So they hit her. Really, really hard. I could hear the *crack* of one of her ribs. OK. Funtime's over. Time to get serious. I finally found another one to stab but Forth cut it down right over me. The last one was a dodgy bugger, but spent so much time dodging it couldn't hit us either, and Llew finally brought it down. As soon as the last zombie fell (once the fog was gone we could tell), the fog lifted. And there were even more body parts on the ground. We were going to have a heck of a fire tonight!
Llew was in pretty bad shape, so we gave her some time to heal herself as Forth and I checked out the front door. It was smashed down and there was a big ol' pool of blood right inside, so I'm not even going to tease him about putting his shield over his head as he bowled in. If I'd had a shield, I'd have done the same. Nothing happened so I came in with him. As we were waiting for the others, I checked the stairs. They were pretty old, but they weren't trapped. I figured they'd hold me for sure, Llew almost for sure, and might hold Forth if he took 'em careful-like. So he did. Oh. So. Sloooooooooooooooowly. It was like watching a sloth compete with a snail compete with a turtle for title of, "Slowest creature to ever get up a staircase." So of COURSE I ran ahead, and...
...terror. Fear like I'd never felt in my life, and that I hope I never feel again. I was a little girl again, and, and, and... something was at the front door coming to kill us all! To kill Daddy! No! Daddy! He told me to be a good little girl and run upstairs and hide, but he'd told me never to go upstairs because of the sickness! I was so scared! And so confused! But the creature was getting in, and I had to run! I didn't run away fast enough, so I saw the creature break in and cut down Daddy. Nooooo! Daddy! I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and into the first bedroom I saw, slipping under the bed and then inside the mattress like brother had taught me when things got bad. And they were really, really Bad. I hid there, sobbing to myself, but daring not to move nor make a sound, for I don't know how long.
Then I was myself again. I extricated myself from the dusty, filthy mattress, brushed myself off, didn't hear anything dire happening outside the room (though Forth was angry with me again. I figure it's how paladins build character). Not to be too graphic, but I needed to check to make sure I hadn't embarrassed myself during the "incident" so I headed over to the chamber pot in its nice little private nook to see whether there was a mirror or something so I could make sure I was decent and... oh, no!
I was Sister, sick beyond measure. Shivering and shaking. My lungs felt like I'd been breathing cactus needles, and my stomach felt like I'd swallowed the rest of the cactus. I threw up into the chamber pot again, and I knew I was going to die. Daddy reassured me, and helped me get back into bed. Then I heard the banging on the door. I couldn't move; I was too sick. But I heard the screams. I heard Daddy die. I knew he had. I could tell by the sounds. And brother, and sister. Slowly, inexorably, something killed everyone in the house. But because I wasn't moving, because I couldn't make a sound even if I wanted to, it spared me. It killed everyone and moved on, leaving me, paralyzed and sick in bed. And I realized, no one was left who knew I was here. No one would feed me, or bring me water, or take care of my other needs. I was going to die right here, in this bed, alone and paralyzed, with my family dead below me. A single tear rolled down my cheek.
DAMN IT!!!!! Snap out of it, Trig! I stumbled out of the bed. My muscles were shaking and sore, and I felt stiff as if I'd spent a week in that damned bed. I didn't care! I checked in with Forth. He was still pissy, but I was more pissy. Thorn was clinging to Llew's leg like a horny tree frog, and there was some sick-looking guy with Forth. I guess he was the one who'd been yelling for help. Apparently HE hadn't had to hide in a bed and wet himself and then throw up everywhere and be a sick stinky gnome mess; HE just drank some water from some old barrels and got sick. Lucky! I told Forth I was thirsty. I think I got an eye twitch out of that one. But then he lectured me on how I was to use my own water skin, and not share with anyone (I didn't get a chance to ask whether it was OK to share with the sick guy), and burn it once I got a new one. If I'd been feeling any better I would have thought up some better comebacks, but my whole body ached. And shook. They should just call the disease "shake and ache" and be done with it.
So the guy's story was that his group had been trying to remove the Gillamoor curse, but on their way there they camped under the scarecrows and their watchman fell asleep and they got attacked by undead and slaughtered, and he barely made it out alive. Now, I'm no farmer, but I can smell horse manure with the best of 'em, so when Llew pointed out that he had a nice chain sleeping shirt he confessed it all: They'd been looting Gillamoor, stowed the treasure under the scarecrows, and then called it a night. He fell asleep on watch and they all got slaughtered 'cept him, and he got trapped upstairs by the "haunt" that scared me so bad. What a wuss! I would have just climbed out the window like a sensible gnome and left!
Llew didn't want to be anywhere near me or the sick guy, so she went downstairs. I'd have commented on the way Thorn was glued to her leg, but I figured the more attracted he was to her, the less likely I was to have any more "unfortunate plant incidents". Ahem. Forth followed them, leaving me and the guy upstairs. Forth was being all know-it-all-y about me and the sick guy having "The Shakes", so I decided to liven things up and drank my potion of Reduce Person on the way down the stairs. "Forth! Forth! Help! I'm fading away!"
I swear, that dwarf has NO sense of humor! But he did put me on his shoulder for a minute so I got to try to hide in his beard, but that was about it for his patience. He put me in the corner at the bottom of the stairs and told me to stay put. Sick boy chose that moment to pass out upstairs, much to Forth's utter disgust. I think I'm in love! So as he grumbled and rumbled up the stairs to fetch my valiant virulent coward, he started lecturing me on not drinking the water, not touching anything, letting him go into every room first, yada yada yada. He talked for so long I grew back to my regular size. I decided that pouting was in order, and sat down in my corner to brood. While Forth was picking up Sickie and hauling his heavy sorry butt downstairs, I asked Llew about her new leg appendage. Apparently Thorn had experienced being the dad, which was bad enough, but apparently the thing that had come for him had been stalking him for days, and now Thorn was convinced that it was still around, and was now after him. Tough break! He said he could tell what direction it was coming from, but not how far away, and I quickly learned how useless that particular talent was. All in all, I was a bit miffed at Thorn. Even if he didn't have faith in himself, didn't he trust us to defend him? He'd seen Llew and Forth fight! Neither of them are slouches. And if I get behind a biggun', I can do some damage on my own. I was sure that whatever it was, we'd figure out how to kill it dead again.
Once Forth put Sickie down next to me in the corner, there was banging from downstairs. I swear I heard a vein pop in his forehead. He gave me one glare that told me I wasn't going anywhere. He checked another bedroom (he later said it was another brother's memory) and then went downstairs. I didn't get to go. Apparently they found mom, who'd been chained downstairs with ghoul fever before it all started, and was now a full-fledged ghoul. Forth hit her and she exploded or something; all I know is that I was happy to be sitting in my corner. Then Llew killed her. How she exploded and then had to be killed I don't know, and nobody was in a mood to be asked, so I guess I just get to be curious for a while. The way things are going, I'm sure we'll find more, "We explode and then you have to kill us" undead once we get to Gillamoor. We left the house, and Llew had a vision of the necromancer himself, with a caravan of victims and captives, all headed to Gillamoor. Why he hadn't been killed already was anybody's guess, but it was obvious we had a job to do!
But first, of course, Llew and Forth had to bury all the bodies. Forth suggested that we could burn the house down, but Llew wouldn't let us. You shouldn't get a girl all excited like that! So while they were buryin' people, I snuck over to check out the loot under the scarecrows. I had some weird vision of being Sickie and falling asleep, but it really wasn't all that bad, and only made me yawn a little. These guys hadn't been bad looters at all! There was all kinds of valuable loot in their hoard, and now it was all OURS! But how we were going to get to Gillamoor with the sick guy and the loot and get back again?
Well, I learned that pretty fast. Forth and Llew wouldn't let me go on, bein' sick and all, and they wouldn't even let me ride Pokey! I had to ride in the cart in the back with Sickie and all the gold. So, maybe dwarves and dragons like lying on gold, and maybe Forth thought he was doin' me a favor, but I think he knows just how uncomfy gold is, and he was just trying to show me he was still mad at me! It was a LONG two days back to down, but my fever went down and I started getting better, and once I was back in town they fixed me right back up. We had enough gold to make us rich as kings, but we were still in Haugin's Ear.
I guess I'll just buy me a bath and some more hobbit food...
|Trig the Gnome|
|2 people marked this as a favorite.|
Entry 6, Played 04-Mar-2018
While I was shopping at Mrs. Mason's buying more halfling food (I know, I know, I'm gonna get fat. But... cake!), I wandered into the alchemy section as I always did and I noticed some "alchemist's antiplague". Well, considering where we were going, this sounded like the bees' knees. I asked Mrs. Mason how much. 50 gold pieces!?!?!? The stuff must work miracles! I bought 10. And 11 days of halfing food ("Don't you want an even dozen? Or maybe 14?" "Never!"). And a restock of my various burny supplies. Just for fun, I got a couple of antitoxin and something called a "vomit capsule" as well. You never know when you're going to need to throw up. Once Mrs. Mason totted everything up, I learned that killing zomies is burny, expensive work! So I paid for a couple of Lesser Restorations to get me feeling like myself again, met up with the group, and we headed off to Gillamoor ONE MORE FRIGGIN' TIME!!! I swear, if roads could burn, I'd burn this one, just because we've seen it so often! So AGAIN past the stupid wagon, AGAIN past the stupid forest and the stupid church and all the stupid dead bodies. And it was just one long boring trudge until we were about halfway between the church and the farms with the stupid scarecrows when Forth said he spotted something in the trees ahead.
I was so relieved I was ready to offer whatever it was a drink. Or a flask of alchemist's fire. Whichever. So we all dismounted (I guess Forth was kind of tired of getting teased about never getting out of his cart. I don't feel guilty. At all.) and started moving down the road, with Llew and Forth casting spells to buffer themselves against whatever-it-was. As we got closer, this big, shambly skeleton with leathery skin and big red glowing eyes (though not as pretty as Llew's) started shambling towards us. Finally! A fight!
And then I was in the weeds. I kid you not. I was all ready to start getting stabby on some glowy-eyed skeleton thing, and then I was in the middle of a field of weeds. I yelled for the rest of them, but they didn't hear me. Even worse, I attracted some shambly types of my own. Now, while I like to think I'm a girl who can take care of herself, I know full well I'm not big enough to really hurt a human zombie without some help, and I was alone in the middle of a field of 'em. Time to be sneaky! I hid in the grass (at least that was a nice thing about grass that's always over your head) and looked for somewhere I could get a better view. About 30' away I saw a tree, so I figured I'd climb up and get a good look-see. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. That damned tree just wouldn't let me climb it! Maybe it's because I make fun of Thorn. Maybe it's because I'm a city gnome. But trees just don't like me. Even my friggin' wand doesn't like me! Me and wood. We don't get along!
So I'm standing there, uselessly scrambling at the wood at the base of the tree, and the zombies catch wind of me again and head my way. *SIGH*. For a minute I thought about just burning 'em out, but I was in the middle of the grass field, and fire can be a fickle friend. So I got out the ONE smoke pellet I was carrying, smacked it against the tree, and took off back the way I came. From the sounds of things, the zombies took the bait and went for the smoke, so it was time to wait a few minutes and see whether my friends could find me. It only took a minute or two (good thing about being a gnome: Everyone knows, "Where there's smoke, there's gnomes!") for Llewelyn to call out to me. The zombies ignored HER, but when I yelled back they started following me again. Darned prejudiced zombies! Fortunately, now that I had Llewelyn's voice to guide me it was no trouble ditching the zombies and finding the group, and we got back to the road. It sounded like I missed a whole lot of fun: The skeleton thingy was the thing that was chasing Thorn, and when it started whacking on him he ran screaming down the road, teleporting skeleton thingy popping after him, and Llew and Forth huffing and puffing after them trying to bring down the skeleton before Thorn outdistanced them and died. Speaking of dying, I probably would have died laughing picturing the entire thing except for Llew's own red-eyed stare. Apparently laughing at other's near-death experiences isn't a Pharasma thing. So I missed everything, and we got back to the road, and I was feeling all dejected, and Llew showed her soft side by telling everyone that we needed to kill all the zombies in the field. So I got to sing a right bawdy song and they all came running, because they love me 'n'all, and we got to kill a bunch of 'em. Felt good to participate, instead of doing battle with a damned unclimbable tree. But I think Forth was still kind of sore at me, because in the middle of the fight as they were pounding on Forth and Llew he just wandered off to help Llew and left me alone with one. Not his kindest act, but these were like, really stupid zombies, like drop-outs at zombie school or something, so they were swinging at their own chest level at everyone. Punched Llew a lot 'cause she's a tall girl, and punched Forth a couple of times in the head, but me 'n' Thorn were fine. And Llew wasn't too mad, 'cause she came back and helped me kill the last one and I got to burn 'em. Thorn told us they were Gillamoor villagers, but Llew and Forth said they were too "new" to be from the plague 10 years ago; they were more like only 2-3 years old. More mysteries! Llew and Forth healed themselves up and I didn't say anything at all sarcastic, because they'd done good work and it wasn't their fault they were tall. I gave everyone cake, because it seemed like the right thing to do.
I was feeling a lot more cheerful as we rode and rolled through the farms. We got to the creepy haunted house with the scarecrows. I declined to go in. But we needed to bunker down for another night, and sleeping somewhere where we'd already either experienced or killed all the undead seemed like a good idea, so we rested for the evening. Thorn told us about Gillamoor before the plague: It was a bustling town of 1200 people, right on the edge of the Chitterwood. Then 10 years ago, a "zombie plague" hit that turned people into zombies, and the people they bit turned into zombies, and pretty soon the town was wiped out. Thorn gave us the general layout: Around 100-150 houses in town, with a lot more farms on the outskirts, and the main road leading right into a market square. Now, I'm no tactician, but walking straight into that square seemed like we were inviting ourselves to be buffet central. I looked forward to what Forth and Llew decided to do instead.
Our first tactic was to look at the farmhouses outside of town. I couldn't see much of anything, but Forth and Llew put their brains together and told me 'n' Thorn that even though the houses were all boarded up and obviously broken-into, the people had probably gotten away, because a lot of "personal valuable stuff" was missing from the houses, indicating an organized retreat. I started hypothesizing about what might be both "personal" and "valuable" and one glare from Llew told me it was quiet time for me now. We figured one of these abandoned houses might make a good base of operations, so we decided to check one out. We went in, and there were all kinds of little tracks. Llew said they were smaller than gnomes and had more legs. That's a lot of ground, Llew! On top of all the little critter tracks, something had been burrowing all over. Forth didn't think it looked like rats. I figured we needed to scare 'em out, so I suggested that Forth jump his big ol' bulky self up and down in one of the bedrooms. To my amazement, he agreed! I barely had time for a good giggle as the burly dwarf bounced up and down like some giant rubber boulder before the place was swarming with cockroaches! And not just regular, "We live in the Temple of Asmodeus because we're bugs and we don't fear him," cockroaches, but big ol', foot-long, giant roaches o'doom! Even worse, they were undead cockroaches! There wasn't much meat in 'em; they were mostly just carapace, mandibles, and legs. Lots and lots and lots of legs. "More than a gnome," eh, Llew?
Much to my surprise, Llew told me to retreat, so I jumped out the window. One bit me on the leg, but it wasn't too bad as long as I wasn't going to get any nasty cockroach diseases. I'm susceptible to nasty diseases, y'know. I know that now. So anyway, Forth and Llew fought 'em for a minute, so I threw in some liquid ice to help, but they decided there were too many of 'em, and both of 'em came out, Forth huffing and puffing and coughing like a bellows in heat, whatever that sounds like. Once they were out, Thorn threw in a Burning Hands to try to slow them down. They didn't burn all that well, but neither did the building, and the roaches wouldn't follow us into the daylight, so we were safe. Llew and Forth started talking about burning the house down (cheer), but again it was that darned grass, and attracting every zombie in a 5-mile area that made them decide against it (sob!). They also figured we shouldn't be around here when night fell. Y'think? Thorn said he recognized the roaches as goblin cockroaches, so we started asking him whether they infested all the houses in town and how the folk in Gillamoor could be so filthy as to have all their houses infested with goblin cockroaches and not even notice and he got all defensive and stopped talking to us.
Once we got him calmed down, we decided to avoid the town proper and skim around it to his parents' farm. Seemed like a good idea at the time. As we headed towards his house, there was a kind of road that crossed the regular road. This one was well-trodden with lots of human footprints, including lots of recent ones, and led straight into the Chitterwood. Thorn said he didn't remember that road, and that made us all say, "Uh oh." But we kept on going to Thorn's house. The good news was that his house looked like all the other farmhouses; they'd had time to gather their things and skedaddle. I felt good for Thorn. Maybe his weirdo halfling folks had raised him into some tree-hugging, leg-humping, screaming coward of a gnome, but he didn't deserve to lose his parents. I know. I lost mine.
Ready for more roaches, we carefully stepped inside. There was a message scrawled on the living room wall. I swear, Thorn. Cockroaches the size of my head, graffiti on the living room walls. Didn't anybody clean in Gillamoor? No wonder they got the plague! Oh, what? It was a message from Thorn's parents to him. Never mind...
The message read, "In town at cleric's," which wouldn't have done me a heck of a lot of good, but Thorn said there was a cleric of Pharasma named Herrick who lived in a big house on the east side of town. Llew's ears perked up. Mine did, too. With a name like Herrick, didn't you kind of have to take the cloth? Now all I needed to find was Blighter, Gizzard, and Vogue and I'd have me a party! Anyway, the best part of Thorn's house was that it had a cockroach-free root cellar, so as it was getting late in the afternoon, we settled down there for the evening. I had some human food just for variety (I think I'm losing my gnominess -- I kind of like the hobbit food better every day), and Llew played a fun game of, "Who's on first watch?" with me until she got irritated and we went to bed. For once on this trip we didn't get disturbed and had a good night's rest, though there was lots of noise outside the house, like hundreds of shuffling zombies wandering off into the Chitterwood at the start, and back out towards the end.
In the morning, we headed towards the cleric's house. Once again we avoided the middle of town, figuring it would be better to know all our escape routes before trying to tackle THAT little bit o' fun. We left the horses at the edge of town and headed in. I gave me, Llew, and Thorn some of the antiplague I'd bought. Forth the High and Mighty didn't need it 'cause his god protected him, he said. When his ears and his beard started fallin' off from some weird zombie plague, I figured I'd extract an apology and give him some. The cleric's house was still all boarded up and looked secure-like, so, lacking any better ideas, Forth knocked. We heard voices inside. I helpfully called out, "Burglar!" and got a glare from Forth. We got an answer! See? So I called out that we were burglars again, and Forth told me to be quiet. That's how I know he likes me. A young human girl peeked out at us from a peephole and did some kind of magic. Forth and Llew told me it was Detect Evil. That was a good sign. Assuming that after we didn't detect they opened the door and didn't pour hot oil on us or nothin'. She told us to wait a minute, and Herrick himself came down. I was still on quiet time so Thorn got to talk to him. They knew each other! Hooray! They lowered a rope ladder down to us for the roof, since none of the doors opened, and Forth volunteered to go last. Still not trusting me, Llew had Thorn go in first to make sure no one said anything obnoxious before he got inside (I hate to say it, but she's got a streak of wisdom in her), then I scrambled up, then Llew, and finally Forth.
So, I've seen Forth facing down all manner of undead fearlessly. I've seen him taking up the rear so we could all get out. I've seen him breathing cockroach dust and coughing out cockroach beardballs. But I've never seen him as afraid as he was of that ladder! It kind of makes sense to me. I figure I probably weigh around 50 pounds including my pack. I'd be amazed if he weighs less than 200 in beard alone. Throw that beard in some armor and put a pack on its back, and you've got a bird that just won't fly. But the humans managed to use the good rope, so even Forth managed to get up, and we clambered on in.
The house was in really good shape: All the lower windows and doors were barred and reinforced and would never open, and then they had the one upper-level window with a rope ladder to go in and out of. There were a goodly number of human kids in the house; I'm not good with ages, but from what Herrick told us they were all somewhere between 16 and 18, about a dozen of 'em, and ONE girl that I saw. I didn't know whether to be jealous or to pity her! So Herrick and Thorn started talking, and since I probably still wasn't allowed to do much talking, I broke out the cake. You'd think the younglings had never had cake before the way they went at it! So Herrick explained: When the plague hit, most of the able-bodied adults were able to flee town, most of Thorn's family included (more on that in a bit). Trouble was, there were a bunch of kids in town, and they couldn't make it. So Herrick, good soul that he was, volunteered to look after the kids while everyone else got away. I was liking the man more and more. He ended up adopting a bunch of kids from 6 on up and setting up his house for defense.
So, here's the juicy bits: Someone was sendin' Herrick Sendings every so often, telling him that it still wasn't safe outside of Gillamoor, and that the government of Lagos was killing anyone who tried to leave town to protect the rest of the world from the plague. As his food ran out and he had to use Create Food and Water to feed those he could, he had to send the older, more able-bodied kids out on their own when he couldn't feed 'em any more. Since none of 'em ever returned, he figured the government got 'em. I didn't have the heart to tell him about the two-year-old zombies in the fields outside of town. I was curious, so I guessed that my quiet time might be over, so I asked ('scuse me, boys, you're squeezing a little tight against me there...), er, I asked (oh my sweet Calistria! Seriously?), so I asked what the name of the person doin' the Sendings was and nobody was at all shocked when the name came back Lady Jeggare. The last Sending was a little under a year ago. Lookin' at the ways the boys were lookin' at me (not Llew and her big red eyes, or the one human girl of appropriate (I think) age in their group, but me), I almost launched into the tale of The Maiden and the Horse to disparage them of that particular notion, but I knew Llew wouldn't approve. Attractive as I am, if a human boy thinks I'm the most sexually-attractive thing in the room, that boy needs to get OUT more! There are bigger girls around, boy!
Anyway, back to the main story and away from the horny boys, it turns out that Herrick had trained them all to be clerics of Pharasma, so they had some defense against the undead. Thorn's family had left a box for him. Turns out it was a note from them and his dad's heirloom weapon. I didn't get a peek at it, so that's about all I know. Thorn read the note aloud, and it described how brave ol' Dad had stood fast against the zombies so that his family could escape. Knowing Thorn's proclivities, I wasn't surprised he was adopted, but it sounded like his dad was a right stout fella. And probably in more ways than one, bein' a halfling and all.
So, the most important news was that there were other houses: One off to the west across the market square (a right dangerous place, apparently) run by a cleric of Erastil names Ellis, and one off to the south where Herrick didn't know who ran it, but he occasionally saw smoke. There were occasional bandits coming through town and looting, but they usually died pretty quick and reinforced the zombies' numbers. The zombies themselves were up to something: From the rooftop Herrick and his Horny Men could watch the zombies at work, and they'd carry baskets into the Chitterwoods at the beginning of the night (what we heard), and then back into town at the end. Even worse, if you went out at night you'd be cockroach food because the roaches were everywhere. I was starting to appreciate the clerics of Asmodeus' insistence on my scrubbing every little nook and cranny of the orphanage with my toothbrush. I thought it was punishment, but they were probably just trying to keep out the giant cockroaches! Anyway, the other places in town Herrick knew about were the nobles' place (House Tenrock or some such), but the nobles were some of the first to go, the barracks, from which could be heard strange noises at night, and the old church of Asmodeus (eye twitch) that was apparently abandoned, 'cause fighting undead when you channel negative energy is No Fun. With that few houses, Llew brought up the idea of maybe getting everyone out of town. Herrick was dubious, and asked about Lagos' orders, but we pointed out that we'd been going to and from town for DAYS and hadn't been harassed (except by your own horny little clerics, y'old coot)!
Now that we had at least one "safe" place in town to spend the night (I was rather dubious *I*'d be on the "safe" side), we took the horses (and Pokey) a ways out of town 'til we found a nice run-down stable, and Forth and Llew built a nice little pasture for them to hang out in. I'd claim me 'n' Thorn helped, but when the dwarf's carrying a load of sticks big enough to build me a house and Llew's hacking and tying branches longer than I am together, my whole, "Here's a stick!" routine didn't do a heck of a lot other than get me sweaty. Once the horses were "safe", we headed back into town with maybe an hour or two of daylight left. Plenty of time to check out the market!
The market was a sea of weird. There was the usual brightly-colored market tent, but it was ten years old and on its last legs, with gaping holes and rotting cloth flapping in the breeze. That would have been depressing enough, but there were a bunch more tents here. Adventurer-style tents of varying age. Near as Llew and Forth could figure, looting parties would come into town, set up tents in the square to centralize all their loot, go off looting, and die. Cheerful! But there wasn't any loot in the tents! Forth and Llew pointed out the most recent tent was only a few weeks old: It was probably the tent from our sleeping cowardly diseased companion, and they'd managed to get out of town with all the accumulated loot, which Llew then oh-so-conveniently confiscated for us! Thanks, Llew! You saved us a whole lotta carryin'!
Forth decided to peek into the market tent and he said he saw a bunch of zombies inside. I tried to respond to him, but they heard him and interrupted me by ripping through the sides of the tent and attacking all of us! Rude! They were the fast zombies, so running away wasn't an option, and they were grabby to boot! One got a hold of Forth, but he dropped it OK, but then two of 'em started playing tug of war with Thorn and he started screaming like he does and I think that just encouraged them 'cause they went at him like their new favorite rag doll toy. I was gonna tell him to stop screaming so much and maybe they'd like him less, but I had business to take care of and danced into a flank with Llew to drop one. I was trying to think of something clever to say when there was a loud CRACK! and Thorn stopped screaming so much and went limp. This wasn't funny any more. I was so concerned for Thorn that I stopped paying attention to my own well-being and got myself grabbed.
Fortunately, I was squirmy enough that it missed biting my head, but not by all that much. It all got dead serious. Maiming and injury is all fun and games, but Thorn looked dead-dead and these zombies weren't dropping as fast as they should've been. I extricated myself from the zombie's grasp (try being a small pretty girl in an orphanage. You learn to get loose from almost anything in a hurry) and decided it was time to switch to fire, since Forth and Llew had their hands more than full and I couldn't be a liability to them. As I gave a zombie the gift of fire and cheerfully watched it collapse into a burning heap, I heard Thorn cough back to life! Llew saved him! I'd have kissed her! If we weren't surrounded by brain-eating zombies and if she wouldn't hit me for it and if we weren't covered in zombie guts and zombie filth and all. Thorn's recovery energized us and we dropped the rest of 'em... only to have 'em explode in a big Poof! of zombie dust. Llew looked us over. Yep. We all had Zombie Plague, except Thorn (lucky bastard!). Ah, well, it's not like I'm not getting a new disease every week with these folk. I figured it'd wear off, just like the rest of 'em.
We searched the rest of the marketplace, but the Bad Watch Bunch had scraped up every nickel before riding off and getting themselves killed. Yeah, there was a ton of adventuring kit: Pots and pans and flint and spoiled coffee and whatnot, but nothing of value remained. The Sleepy Slain may have been crappy watchmen, but they were good looters. Llew and Forth used their wands to heal everybody, especially Thorn, and we moved on to the Erastil cleric's house. As we went, Thorn pointed out that the cemetery was still pristine. I was going to point out that that would be kind of expected in a town with a cleric of Pharasma, but then I realized he was right; if a necromancer really did live here, wouldn't he want to despoil that graveyard? Some powerful magics were afoot over there, and we weren't about to go over to find out whether they were fair or foul, what with dark coming up and all. We moved on over to Ellis' house and it was all boarded up and protected just like Herrick's. Forth told me not to tell 'em we were burglars, so I called out that there was another house full of horny boys across town and could they please send their girls over. Forth actually said it was better, because at least it wasn't a lie. I kind of like Forth, in his own weird dwarf way.
So, Ellis turned out to be even more fun than Herrick. I had a paladin Smite Evil on me. I was disappointed that it didn't even tickle. She had pretty much the same story as Herrick: Save the kids, feed 'em on Create Food and Water, yada yada yada, but she was training half of hers to be clerics and half to be paladins. Sorry, Herrick, but Ellis is smarter 'n' you. But she'd been getting Sendings as well, so Llew made the same offer she'd made to Herrick to get them all out. Ellis agreed that they'd come with us as soon as we were ready. Forth managed to offend everyone even more than I usually do by questioning the paladin's devotion, what with them being in town and there still being undead and all, and for a bit I thought we were all going to get thrown out, but Ellis calmed it all down after a bit. I handed out some cake and oh by the sweet jiggling teats of my mistress what is WRONG with these boys! I swear, next time I'm at a temple I'm going to tell 'em: Just use Create Food and Water: It'll make humans want to hump anything on two legs, no matter how big or small. But Calistria was making no secrets as to what she wanted me to do, so I figured I at least had to try something. Gods knew what, but I had some ideas...
While I was being drooled over by boys at least twice my height and four times my weight (flattering, but a wee bit intimidating, I must admit, talented as I am), Ellis gave us more information than Herrick had. (That's two for her and none for you, Herrick! You go, girl!) The Tenrocks had had a visitor from Ustalav who was most likely the first carrier of the plague. Ellis didn't know any more than that, but at least it was a clue. (No, you may not put your hand there, yet...) The cemetery was the only safe place in town, seeing as to how it was Hallowed and the bad guys had no way to undo that. Oslo and Kate had been up on the roof at night (see, guys? There's a nice healthy human girl for you! Right there!) doing... something, and they saw baskets getting hauled in. Ellis figured they're hauling in goblin corpses from the Chitterwood for their experiments, since no one sanctifies goblin corpses, and there are plenty of 'em out there. She confirmed the smoke, but from her house it was southeast, so it was pretty easy to figure out where the smoky house had to be. Oslo and Kate figured it was 20-30 zombies every night hauling stuff up and back. There were weird lights and smells coming from the barracks during that time, so that was probably the center of operations.
Much to the guys' delight, Ellis offered to let us spend the night. Once we were settled in, I headed up to take care of them, but I hadn't even unlaced my jerkin before Llew came stormin' in, mad as an Asmodean cleric whose smallclothes had been mysteriously filled with goatheads in the wash, and started yelling at me about "spreadin' discord in this house" and "bein' diseased". I told her that I wasn't going to do that with them, and was about to launch into a lecture on physics n'all, but the blazing look in her eyes told me I should just button back up and get the Hell out. So I did. And I'd like to say I had nasty dreams from Calistria about failing in my duty n'all, but honestly, I slept like a rock, and probably better than I would have otherwise. I might thank Llew later. Might.
In the morning Ellis apologized for not being able to offer us breakfast, and I had to admit that humans eat a lot, I was running low enough on food I couldn't share, and Forth and Llew admitted they were running low. Thorn told us yet again that he doesn't need to eat. Oversharing, Thorn. Ellis said that there was an apple orchard just north of the market square and we might be able to provision up there. It was very kind of her, but when Forth said that we might go digging for apples in the afternoon I nearly burst a gasket trying not to giggle. Llew corrected him proper-like that you don't DIG for apples, but apparently for dwarves if you don't dig for it it's not valuable. I started imagining dwarf brides being buried alive for their husbands to dig up and just didn't even ask. I didn't want to know. Ellis had one Remove Disease on her, and we all knew it had to go to Thorn. Poor little guy has the constitution of a lemure on Hallowed ground. It took, so only me and Llew were left, so I shared some of my antiplague with her. That was running low, too. As we were heading out, one of the kids named Harriet (and why aren't you keeping these boys entertained, Harriet?) told me, "It is good to have good judgement."
Telling a gnome that is pretty much admitting insanity, so I figured either she was playing a joke on me, she didn't know gnomes, or she was just clueless.
Oslo concluded, "...and to know when not to use it!"
Oh, how sweet! I was SURE it was a gnome greeting from around here, so I hugged both of their legs and we went out.
We headed towards the third house, cutting the barracks a wide swath. Even from a distance Thorn could smell it, and he said it smelled just like what we'd smelled in the giant's cave. I thought of the mindless, grabby intestines and just shuddered. Once we were out of earshot of the house, Llew told me that I was obnoxious and had poor judgement, but I was a good fighter and shopped well, and she thanked me for my foresight. It was about the best compliment a gnome's ever gotten! I got a tear in my eye, and I think my hair glowed a little brighter.
The third house screamed, "Suspicious!" First off, it wasn't all boarded up. The windows were open, the place looked clean, and there was a female halfling tending a garden outside! We called out to her and she greeted us, took us inside, and had us take seats so she could get 'the master'. The first guy to come out was a human man in armor; some kind of fighter by the looks of it. Forth did his Detect Evil thing on him and I didn't need to see Forth's face to know it took. Fighter-boy didn't care. He called himself something like Fenrich Gentleman, but I was busy checking his armor for chinks a small dagger could get into. Before we'd talked to him too much, a cleric of Asmodeus came in. Oh, boy. I stammered out the best greeting I could, figuring I was in for a whipping (again), but he acknowledged it, and did it wrong. Either he was no cleric, or he was trying to insult me! I figured 50-50, so I let it go.
Unfortunately, the cleric's story was so cock-and-bull even *I* would have been ashamed to have told it. The temple had been too hard to defend with only 3 guards, so he took his guards and his 3 halfling slaves with him to the house, where they can easily defend themselves. The undead don't disturb them, and they don't disturb the undead. He'd been assigned here by the Church, and hadn't been given leave to leave, so he didn't. And he was pretty impressed with the necromancer's ingenuity in spreading the plague, so he had no animosity towards him. The more he talked, the more it was obvious his whole story was horse manure, but I was waiting for Llew or Forth to make a move. In the meantime, the halfling slaves were bringing us fresh food, refreshing drinks, and all the signs that this guy wasn't suffering at all from the apocalypse. He gave us a little more information on the Tenricks (or whatever their name is): He'd been at dinner with them shortly before the Ustalavan arrived, and so he was the last to see any of them alive. They were hosting the Ustalavan as a favor to friends from Lagos (that name again -- I wonder whether the favor happened to be... for a Jeggare)? The manor fell that evening, and the rest of the town 3-4 days later. He was really working hard to get us to react, but Llew turned the tables on him when she mentioned Yalnu's name and he reacted. She got it wrong and he didn't correct her. One of the halflings signaled to me that he was "a big fish", so I switched to Elven and politely asked Llew how much longer we had to listen to his BS story. He asked me what I'd said, but I couldn't think of a lie on the spot so I just mumbled incoherently at him. Fortunately, he seemed to know gnomes 'cause he just gave up on me and brought in "Delvine", some woman he was hoping would eyeball the truth out of us. We needed to get out of there and regroup! Llew had the same feeling and bid him a polite farewell. Delvine apparently told him we were OK and so he let us go.
Now all we have to do is buff up, plan out some "tactics", and come back to wipe him out! Unfortunately, I've already been barred from burning down the house and we haven't even started planning yet!
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NobodysHome wrote: for once there were no priests yelling, "Trig, no running naked around the temple! No bathing in the unholy fountain! That's another 30 lashes!"
Ah, that's one thing I won't miss! The Asmodean's sense of "discipline"! I swear, you violate five or six of their "rules", and they act like the world is coming to an end!"
I've been running Zelhara in a PACG campaign, and I really want to run someone like her in an RPG adventure, so this really struck me. Imagine Adult Wednesday Addams as an Inquisitor for the Church of Zon-Kuthon in a Wrath of the Righteous setting as she saves some goody-two shoes Paladin, "I didn't say you could die... yet."
|2 people marked this as a favorite.|
NobodysHome wrote: for once there were no priests yelling, "Trig, no running naked around the temple! No bathing in the unholy fountain! That's another 30 lashes!"Ah, that's one thing I won't miss! The Asmodean's sense of "discipline"! I swear, you violate five or six of their "rules", and they act like the world is coming to an end!"
I've been running Zelhara in a PACG campaign, and I really want to run someone like her in an RPG adventure, so this really struck me. Imagine Adult Wednesday Addams as an Inquisitor for the Church of Zon-Kuthon in a Wrath of the Righteous setting as she saves some goody-two shoes Paladin, "I didn't say you could die... yet."
OMG. That sounds awesome.
Lawful Evil can be all kinds of fun to play, if you really set your mind to it.
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 7, Played 11-Mar-2018
So, I'm no paladin or inquisitor or nothin', but as we walked away from Yalnu's house, and Forth and Llewelyn were discussing a bunch of possible next steps that did NOT involve burning his house down and stabbing him in the kidneys, I started wondering just what was going on. Hadn't they HEARD about all the horrors this man had wrought? Didn't they SEE poor Thorn the half-gnome cowering because his parents had gotten driven off? Yalnu needed to die! But they told me it was all about finding out what else we could about the place, and maybe finding a weakness, or some way to get him away from everyone in the house, and I had to admit, what they said made a little bit of sense. But Yalnu's on my list, and those halflings will be FREE! Not that I love halflings all that much mind you. Just their food. But slavery? No; that's just got to be wiped out wherever you find it. Especially around temples of Asmodeus. I've... seen things.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Llew and Forth started talkin' smart-like, so I listened smart-like, because I do that, and because I think I was on "shut up" time for somethingorother but I'm never quite sure. Llew figured that she had Yalnu pegged: By leaving the other two houses with clerics OK, he was showing that all it took to survive was a cleric, so his house didn't look nearly as suspicious. (Maybe you should BOARD YOUR WINDOWS, dimwit!) As we talked, we moseyed on past the fortress. As we all suspected, it was sealed up tight as a seal's you-know-what, with arrow slits in the second floor to rain death on anyone trying to get in. I saw... shapes moving in those windows. Forth suggested we move on, and I didn't argue. In front of the fortress was the expected well-beaten zombie trail. Nothing else could have made such an obvious, mindless trail. They didn't go around people's yards, or follow trails, or anything. They just went in a straight line towards the Chitterwood, and a straight line coming back. Stupid zombies! If we had a few hundred more gnomes, I'd suggest digging a great trench and filling it with alchemist's fire, but it was only me 'n' Thorn, and even though he's getting better, I think he's still maybe only half a gnome. Llew and Forth decided we should check out the church. I asked Forth whether it was OK for me to vandalize a church of Asmodeus, and he said it was fine, as long as I didn't damage anything anyone from a "Good" religion would use. Well, I happen to know Desna wouldn't need anything from inside that church, and Calistria might want some of the chains-n-manacles-n-whips-n-such, but for the most part that sounded like free rein to me.
We took the long way 'round, not wanting to be too close to the fortress, so first we went past the Erastil house, and one of the boys was on the roof. I warned him not to visit the house to the southeast, and he said he wouldn't. OK, so he trusted gnomes. I guess he did have a limited upbringing. We moved on to the graveyard everyone kept talking about. Llew said it detected as Good. That was a good sign. The graves weren't all in neat lines, but were arranged all straggly. That was another good sign. Finally, there were fresh-cut flowers on some of the graves, no weeds, and a whole great big feeling of a powerful good fey living there. That didn't relax me all that much; powerful good fey'll kill you just as dead as powerful evil fey, so I knew I had to be on something resembling good behavior. As we stepped in, Llew said some words to acknowledge the keeper of the graves. Much to my surprise, she answered us and told us we were welcome as long as we didn't disturb the graves. Seemed easy enough, and if she was fey (and I was sure she was), she'd set the rules real clear, and we'd obey 'em or die. I was happy. This was familiar ground.
So we moseyed around the graveyard, admiring the tending, and Llew noticed that some of the names on the graves matched the names Yalnu had given us at the house. *SIGH*. Even *I* make up my fake names, Yalnu! <eyeroll>
As we started heading for the church, I decided to try two things: I complimented and blessed the garden in Sylvan, and got a, "Thank you, sister," from our hostess! I KNEW it! Then I went on in Sylvan and asked her permission to vandalize the church. As long as we kept killing undead and didn't damage her garden, she didn't particularly care, so I was all set! The church itself just screamed Asmodeus! An attractive little well-built one-story building, complete with orphan rooms and slave pens. Just like the place I "grew up". (I didn't get orphaned 'til I was 32, but I still wasn't "of age" so I had to live in their stoopid orphanage for TWENTY YEARS! I saw human kids come in squalling babes, grow up, and get out while I was still stuck there! But that's neither here nor there...)
So anyway, I got out my handy any-tool and started carving my name in the symbol of Asmodeus over the altar. It took a little bit of climbing, but it was worth it! Llew and Forth started doing stuff they considered more useful, like figuring out that the church was Lawful Evil (duh!) and still Unhallowed (didn't stop me! Hee hee!). They searched the slave pens and found the personal effects of at least two of the servants at the house. Just like Yalnu, stealing slaves from Asmodeus! Didn't I mention he needed to die, like, right now?!?!? Anyway, I was overruled, so I kept carving, and Llew and Forth kept searching. Llew said the place made her teeth itch. I'd never felt such a thing and I told her so, and Thorn popped up and cast something and my teeth itched! Eeeew! Tee hee hee! It was awesome! I hope never to feel it again! But Thorn is learning! I'm proud to say I think I'm rubbing off on him!
So we wrapped up the church knowing that the priest had gotten all his stuff together and skedaddled, but hadn't considered the halflings worth saving, and had left 'em to the zombies. Fortunately, Yalnu found a use for 'em. So OK, maybe he wasn't ALL bad. Just 99.999999% bad. Maybe I'd stab only one eye. Speaking of Yalnu, Llew told me to stop using his name so much, as you never knew who might be listening. I figured that was right paranoid, even for Llew, but whatever. "Shut up time" is "shut up time", whatever she chooses to call it. I'm getting used to it. It's kind of fun!
So, we were done at the church (boo! I had more to vandalize), but we were going to go over to the Tarren's mansion to poke around (yay!). As we headed there from the church we got to see the other side of the fortress, including its main gates, and it was obvious the place was locked up tight. So we ignored it and moseyed over to the minor manor. It was one of those fancy-schmancy places where there's an enclosed courtyard out in front before you get to the house proper, just to tell people, "OUR outdoors is better than YOUR outdoors! Stay the Hell out of OUR outdoors." I was kind of sad I didn't need to tinkle. So in their oh-so-noble outdoors, they had two big old statues and a tree. The great outdoors, eh? I'd even forgive 'em the tree, 'cause it was green 'n'all, but there was no way those statues were nature-grown. As usual, Thorn did his Detect Magic and Forth did his Detect Evil and nothing pinged so Forth was all ready to go in (er, Forth? If it's "safe", why don't you let someone a little, er, "lighter" go in first? Ah, well, keep my skin intact and makes him feel all paladin-like, so I ain't complaining). The doors were closed, so I was about to head on in and open 'em when Llew stopped me and pointed waaaaaay up in the tree. Well, y'know, trees 'n'me, we don't get along, so heck if I could see anything, but she assured me there was someone or something up there, outta reach of all our Detects. So Forth out-and-out lied that it all looked safe to him (I swear, that paladin lies like a dockside whore. Guess it doesn't matter to Torag, since none of us are dwarves 'n'all). Llew put Protection from Evil on herself, which kind of spoiled Forth's lie, but made it funnier all the same, and then Thorn did his viney-pervert thing on the tree. Some female voices (of course. Thorn, have you NO shame at all?) cried out, "Sisters! We have visitors!". So, the trouble was, they were smart enough not to want to come down, we were smart enough not to want to climb up, and Thorn's pervy vines either weren't doing anything, or they were enjoying 'em enough not to be bothered with us. <shudder> Strike that last thought! So, being bored and with the tree not letting me see anything in it (stupid tree!), I went and hid behind the woman's statue while we waited for Forth 'n' Llew to puzzle this one out. Then Thorn said he'd burn 'em out! I almost jumped out of hiding to kiss him! He's turning into a right proper gnome right before my very eyes! A bit pervy for my tastes, but right proper nonetheless!
So Thorn used Burning Hands to try to start the tree up (I could have just handed him some alchemist's fire, but if he wants to be all "magical", who am I to stop him?), and that got the girls up top moving so Llew could get a better look at 'em. Even on fire, the tree didn't let me see 'em. Damn tree. I'm glad you're burning! Anyway, Llew told us they were "zombie lords", which was kind of funny since they were all girls, far as I could tell, but they were like zombie monks, and they'd run up and trip you and grapple you and all kinds of nasty stuff. Just like regular zombies you're supposed to slash 'em rather than poke 'em or bash 'em, so it was daggers again for me. They decided that being in a burning, gropey tree wasn't fun any more so they jumped down for a proper right. One punched Thorn in the head for lighting her tree on fire, so I threw a dagger in her head for hitting Thorn. It looked impressive, but it was only a small dagger, so it didn't seem to slow her down much. Just like Llew promised, they tripped Forth and started beating on him. It was kind of weird. He didn't get up, and he didn't really fight back, he just kind of curled up on the ground and got beat on. It must have been another of those weird dwarf strategies I'm unaware of, 'cause he really did seem to be bleeding an awful lot. I threw another dagger, but this one missed. It looked real bad for Forth 'til Llew got pissed. Like angry, vindictive, "I'm an Inquisitor and you're judged and you're gonna die" pissed. I was happy 'cause one of the zombie monkees hopped over to my side of Forth to try to get a better hit in and my last dagger (Ol' Mithral) found something nice and vital and down it went. Llew started beating the living bejeezus out of them. If they'd been alive, I'm sure they woulda run. I figured since I couldn't reach any more and Forth was lookin' pretty bad, I poked him with my wand. Of course it healed him! Stupid paladin! Stupid wand! Well, Llew was taking too long and Forth was dying so I tried to be helpful by climbing up the statue and jumping over to the back side of all the monkees, but the statue was slipperier than I thought, so first it took me a long time to get up onto its head, and then instead of an elegant jump I just kind of flopped off and plooped on my butt right next to one of the zombies. I tried to get her to swing at me to relieve Forth a bit, but she was enjoying hitting him too much to pay any attention to me. So I got up (got punched in the head for my troubles) and stabbed the one next to me, and eventually the Engine of Death that was Llew came around and met me. She started healing up Forth, so I tried to heal Thorn, and the wand didn't like him either. What is it? Gnomist?
As the last monkee died, she said, "Curse you, Vladimitri!", but she looked awfully young to be cursing some jilted lover. In fact, I'm no expert on humans, but they all looked not much bigger'n me, which meant they were probably kids. Llew confirmed that we were looking at the noble family's children, all turned into horrible undead. She took it pretty hard, and snapped at me for not being that upset about it. Well, I figure I'm doing something by killing Yalnu, and what's done is done and all that, but I'm learning quick that silence works real well to make me better-liked among my party members. So since I couldn't heal anyone except Forth, and Llew was already working on that, I climbed over the other statue, just for symmetry, and made sure to help Llew arrange the kids and say the right words'n'all. Not that she needs help, but I figure bein' respectful of the dead is just the right thing to do. Especially after watching what she looked like when she was really pissed.
Once we were done putting the girls in order, it was time for the front door. Looked like a simple-enough lock, and it was. Forth mentioned that in dwarf society, if you make a lock so crappy that any simple thief can pick it, you deserve to get robbed. Awwww! Forth is insulting me to my face 'n'all! I really think he's warming to me! I'll have to rob his house some day!
So inside the main entrance there was a dead, dessicated cat that apparently hadn't died all too long ago. (Man, Llew knows dead things! It's kind of scary!) She said it had been drained to death, so we'd be facing draining undead. This wasn't good, since we didn't have any protections, but I figured I could probably distract 'em, even if I wouldn't be much use in a fight. So Forth, bein' Forth, stepped right in and a whole host o'wights came running out of all the side rooms and tried to surround him. Thorn put a nice patch of Grease under one side of 'em, so if Forth just backed up a bit I'd be golden. I asked him to back up, so being a stubborn old dwarf he moved into a corner instead. Well, time to earn my pay! I did my danciest, dodgiest impression of an attractive bit o'wight bait and moved through all of 'em. Nearly got clipped once or twice, but I made it through, and I was on the other side of 'em. Now I figured Llew and Forth would have to do something, 'cause otherwise I was trapped. Hmm... maybe I didn't think it all the way through, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. As usual, the wights ignored me and pounded on Forth, draining him a couple of times. I gotta admit, if I got pounded on as much as Forth did, I'd probably be a grumpy old curmudgeon, too. But Llew came in and gave me a flank, and it turns out that wights' vital bits are the same place as everybody else's, so we managed to mop 'em up without anybody else taking any more hits. Sorry, Forth! These were obviously all the servants, from their livery 'n' stuff. Forth was all pale and shaking, and suggested that maybe, just maybe, we ought to call it a day.
When your paladin says it's time to call it a day, it's time to call it a day.
We went back to the graveyard and Llew very prettily asked permission to stay for the night. The fey voice said we could. Well, whoever she is, she may be a good fey, but she's still a fey, so I insisted on paying. I asked her where I could put a tree, and she told me in the corner, so I used the Feather Token I'd bought for Thorn (what? He likes trees! It's a tree! Seemed like a no-brainer at the time) to give her a nice big tree in the corner. My very first tree! Maybe it wouldn't hate me! So I got out my winter blanket and made myself a little nest and we all settled in for the long haul. More halfing food, another night of zombie marches in and out of the fortress (this time we could see them and their baskets, but not what was in 'em), another dose of antiplague in the morning (Llew said I was cured! Yay!), and we were fresh and ready to go! Even better, Thorn was up and about and playing in my tree! I thought it was pretty cute! He said somethingorother about it being too ugly to save or summat, but it was OK; he was paying attention to my tree! I said some nice words about our hostess' wonderful graveyard, and she Blessed me. I don't know who or what she is, but I've got to get her something nice. And I know just the stuff! If I can just get back to Haugin's Ear one more time!
So, back to the house we went! I offered to go first, but Forth, being Forth, said he'd be fine. It looked like a pretty typical house for rich folk, except for the dead wights in the entryway 'n' all. There were a bunch of portraits hung in the entry hall, but they were all slashed up. We asked Thorn about the family, and he said they were very nice. They did a good job of taking care of the town, When I questioned that statement, considering the circumstances 'n' all, Llew said, "Please do not make me hit you," and Forth responded, "Now you know how I feel all the time!" Yeah, I was pretty proud that they loved me so much. But I decided it was quiet time for a bit. We found the master's den or whatever, where he did all his paperwork. It was all in order, and there was all kinds of interesting stuff: There were some slips of credit from the Jeggare family that we could cash in (2500 gold pieces' worth! Woo hoo!), along with a lot of records about a lot of similar loans to the Jeggares, all for all kinds of tawdry stuff like brothels, clown make-up, tasteless shoes, and other stuff you could use to blackmail the Jeggares something awful! So it was pretty obvious by the end of it why the Jeggares would want the Tarrens dead, but to take a whole town with 'em? That's a whole 'nother level of Evil! With a capital 'E'! Llew mentioned that it was time to inquisit some Jeggares or some such. I wanted to come with!
Compared to that, the rest of the house was kind of a letdown. There was a fancy-looking armored door at the end of the hall, but it was nothing but a bar so a quick shim in the crack popped it open. Inside we got attacked by two empty suits of armor, which was pretty cool, But they dropped pretty easily, and it turned out that a couple of guards or servants or something had thought to lock themselves in here to protect themselves from the undead onslaught, but they were too scared to risk going out, even with full suits of masterwork plate mail, so they just stayed in here, terrified, 'til they died, and their horrified spirits animated the armor to protect 'em. Kind of a neat ghost story, but really sad if you think about it. Me? I'd rather go down fighting! It was no surprise to find that we were in an armory and all the good stuff had already been looted when whoever could get out did. The good news was that there was still plenty of good human-sized gear we could use to equip the horny paladins in the House of Horny Erastil (hey, he IS horny, isn't he? Tee hee!), and Thorn had Ant Haul so Forth could carry it all. The bad news was that there wasn't anything my size. No extra daggers for me! (Didn't think I needed any 'til those stupid monkees!) Forth decided he could use one of those nice suits of plate mail, and we weren't going to argue with him, so he picked it up and said he'd put it on later. (Yeah, I personally like to pick up concrete blocks and carry 'em around and tell people I'll put 'em on later. I figure he was just trying to annoy me by going even slooooooower through the house.) Next on our list were the guest bedrooms. The first one was interesting enough, with some travel bags belonging to a guy named "Vladimitri" (hey, girls! I found your guy!), full of Ustalavan minor noble's clothes. Yep. We'd found our plaguebringer's room. I was glad I'd had the antiplague stuff that morning! Llew found some hidden papers in the bag showing drawings of some spraying device and instructions on how to spray someone to infect 'em with a disease without them knowing and without infecting yourself. Trouble was, it was all wrong! The device would obviously spray everyone, the sprayer included. Not that we needed the verification or anything, but Thorn compared the handwriting on the instructions to the handwriting on the Jeggare promissory notes and it was an exact match. Oh gasp! Oh the shock! Oh the horror! Now I had to kill Yalnu and I had to kill Lady Jeggare. Longest list I've ever had! I'm building up a veritable queue!
Anyway, the next guest bedroom was empty, and the master bedroom was both empty and unmade, indicating that they never had a chance to clean up before being killed or zombified or whatnot. Just because too much evidence is never enough, Llew even found a letter from the Lady Jeggare herself, asking the Tarren's to please please pretty please with sugar on top look after her poor lost noble Vladimitri and yada yada yada speeeeeeew! Lady Jeggare needed to be drowned in a chamber pot!
So, I say that the rest of the house was a letdown, but that's 'cause I don't know much what happened next. Forth walked towards an open door and there was this magnificent... gurgling coming out of it! Not the gurgling of a stream, or a brook, or an ogre gargling something unimaginable, but a deep, resonant, bone-vibrating gurgling that was just fascinating! I had to go in and see what was making the noise! I went into the room, and there was this weird corpse-looking guy just standing there... gurgling. I tried to look down his throat, but I was too short, and there were these bats and flashes of light that kept getting in the way, but heck if I wasn't just going to climb up him and see what was making that noise! Then... it stopped! And I was all bloody! And the room smelt like burnt dog! And there were dead bats all over the floor, but they were evaporating, and there was a dead zombie thing on the floor and everyone was all hurt and burnt and and and...
...and I just stabbed gurgly guy, 'cause it was obviously all his fault! It didn't do any good, because the guy across from me was... Thorn?!?!? Pull out a weapon, darn it, Thorn! Once Thorn had a weapon out to keep Gurgles distracted, it was easier to find the parts that made him move and remove them. He dropped, and Forth channeled and healed me all up. Everyone else was in much worse shape! Apparently Thorn had been blasting about willy nilly with Burning Hands, and heck if I know how he missed me. Maybe he aimed high because apparently that's where all the bats were. Llew finally told us that these guys were "zvembies", and I'd succumbed to something called "Corpse Call". Only a human would think of such a stupid name for such an interesting gurgle. Why not, "Gurgly gurgleiciousness gurgleosity goo goot gurgle-o-goony doom"? That's much more descriptive!
So Thorn had half-burned what used to be a sitting room, but on the non-burned side were plans. Plans for a secret tunnel into the barracks as a kind of escape route if the Tarrens ever needed it.
We had found our way in!
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 8, Played 18-Mar-2018
So, instead of hop-scotching over to the super sekret tunnel and surprising our buddy Yalnu, Forth and Llew wanted to explore the rest of the house. They called it, "Bein' thorough." Never heard of it, but whatever. Sounds fun!
We went upstairs and found all the little girls' rooms. So, the dead girls, they didn't bother me much at all. People die. They get up. You kill 'em again. It's the circle of life, or whatever. But there were these lovely little rooms, all done up by parents who obviously loved 'em, and now the parents were gone, and the kids were gone, and the rooms were full of dust, and Yalnu was going to get a dagger in his gut so deep he was going to be crapping it out a week later! And then I'd stab him with it again!
Anyway, the last bit of the house up top was a ladder leading up to an attic, poorly hidden behind a portrait. I'm taking Forth's approach to life: If I can find it, it's poorly hidden. If I can open it, it's poorly locked. I'm not being negative; just, "Honest". There were some shuffling noises up the ladder, so we knew it was something we were going to have to kill (I've got a pretty good read on Forth and Llew by now, and it's pretty much, "If it talks, give it cake. If it shuffles, stab it." Easy rules for me)! Forth started moaning and groaning about wooden ladders, and why couldn't humans build proper stone steps, and on and on, and you'd think his arms were shorter'n mine, or his beard'd get tangled up in the rungs, but noooooooo, he's just a moaner! And a liar. But I like that in my paladins, I've decided. So I volunteered to open the door for him and he got all growly like he does when he thinks I'm going to put myself in danger (much as I give him grief, he's really a sweetie under all that hair), but I told him I could do it from a distance so he let me. I skittered up the ladder to make sure the trap door was unlocked and wasn't trapped (if it's a trap door, isn't it always trapped? That always confused me. I got more than one beating for arguing with the clerics on that one). Then I came down, got good and clear, and used my gnomish magic (see, Thorn? You're not the only magical gnome in the party!) to pop the door open. The shuffling changed a bit, but nothing came down, so Forth moaned and groaned and clambered up the ladder like a sleepy arthritic bear that smelled honey up top, but eventually he got up there and WHAM! Something bit him real hard.
Forth just isn't a very lucky dwarf. And I don't know that that armor's doing him a lot of good; he might want to get it checked for faults. Looks good enough to me, but I'm just a gnome. Whatever bit him had found fault with it, and that's what counts! After it bit him, it screamed real loud and everything got all fuzzy for me. Again. Apparently I'm a very sensitive girl.
When I finally came to Llew was complaining that Forth had been paralyzed by the creature and she went up the ladder and de-paralyzed him. Handy thing, that! Thorn looked like he'd been through the same dingy-ringer I had. I figured I'd best get up and help, but it's hard to be dodgy on a ladder, so I asked Llew to get out of the way so I could zip on up. I guess she took it the wrong way, 'cause up she went and got bit real bad, then started calling me a few things. I'd heard worse at the temple, but she almost never actually cusses at me so I knew she was pretty angry. I skedaddled on up and did diddly-squat, which was apparently my thing for the day. At least I got to see that we were fighting a big old bat! And I mean this bat was so big that Forth could have ridden it big! Just a great, big, smelly attic bat. That didn't like Forth. Thorn climbed the ladder and poked Forth in the butt. I just hope he was casting some kind of spell, and not just being pervy again. Sure looked like a spell. So the bat had some sense, and seeing me as the smallest, tastiest thing in the room tried to eat me. I'm kind of used to that by now, so I stepped aside, finally feeling useful. But since it was so kind as to extend its neck on down, I cut it in a tender-looking spot and it stopped moving. Forth and Llew were battered and bloody something awful, and not particularly pleased with me, but ladders are hard, OK? My legs are shorter'n theirs! I tried to use my want to heal Forth, but it was mad at me again, too. Ah, well, I figured I'd find something to cheer 'em all up soon enough.
The attic was full of crates of stored documents, because this was just how boring that family was. I figure a gnome would've lasted a week with 'em afore bleaching, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, the papers had all kinds of dirt on the Jeggares, plus plans for the fort, plus all the defensive plans! Gold mine! OK. "Bein' thorough" is on my list of "good things to do". Now I just have to remember it.
Llew, bein' Llew, looked over the bat and got that look that said, "I'm about to tell you something really, really horrible that you don't want to hear, but I'm going to say it anyway and you're going to listen because it'll make you want to kill Yalnu even more." It's kind of a fun game. So, this bat-thing was a "skaveling", but that wasn't the important part. The important part is that they're usually created undead: A necromancer gives a bat ghoul fever, then feeds it the flesh of sentient beings until it gets all big and bad and screamy and paralizey, just like our dead friend here. But this bat hadn't had that happen. This was just a plain ol' ordinary attic bat who'd been exposed to the plague when it first got out.
So we started plannin' on how to attack the fort, and Forth and Llew wanted to know whether I could write secret notes to the halflings, but I know that's a paddlin' so I can't, and they gave up on me as stupid and learned that halflings have their own language and Thorn speaks it! Who knew? So they started talkin' all the possibilities and I started makin' up my own secret note language, and I figured out if no one knew it it wouldn't do me much good, but I figure I'll figure it out. We managed to get the first part of our plan together: Check out the basement, find the secret door, then skedaddle out and rest for the night, then attack the fort in the morning. Once the fort was gone, we'd deal with Yalnu. Seemed good enough to me!
I pretty much slid down the ladder just so I could watch Forth moan and groan about it some more, but it survived his great weight and he made it down in one piece. I'd say I was disappointed that he didn't fall, but I'm a nice person and I'm not a paladin so I don't lie. We skedaddled down the nice, safe stairs (would you like a blanket and some tea with those stairs, Forth?) and down to the kitchen. Time to move the barrel!
OK, I'm going to admit it. I'm pretty happy being only 3'4". When it came time to move that great, 300-pound barrel, nobody even blinked when I didn't volunteer to pick it up. So Forth walked over, wrapped his great beefy arms around it, and... a ghost! A real live honest-to-freaking-goodness ghost popped out of the floor and hit him! He turned a little pale, so I hopped over and tried to dump some holy water on it. I say, "Tried," 'cause when you think about a ghost, you think, "Big spooky thing that just floats there and says, 'Boo', and lets you dump holy water on its head 'cause it's stupid'", but they're actually really dodgy! My whole first bottle went on the floor. Llew and Forth beat on it for a while, I got maybe 3 drops from my second bottle on it, and it faded away, but not before hitting Forth again. He was really beginning to look a bit peaked. Llew, knowing everything about every undead ever created, apparently, told us we were up against a "burbelang", some critter that could send its spirit out to attack, but that still needed to be killed downstairs. She told us it was a shapeshifter, and to stab whatever we saw down there. That's kind of a given for me.
Since Forth was in such bad shape, I volunteered to go down first. He got all overprotective again. I'm good with it, as long as he doesn't start calling me "lil' missy" and setting a curfew or nothin'. But I'm a dodgy girl, so Forth moved the barrel and opened the door for me, and I ran down, screaming, "I'm a gnome! I'm a gnome! I'm a gnome!" Smack into the door at the bottom of the stairs. Told you I'd cheer Forth and Llew up! So after their giggles, I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I unlocked it. The burblelung locked it again. She was talking in an old lady voice but whatever. If it moves, I can stab it. So we decided to play the locky game. I unlocked it again and pushed it open. There was a kindly old lady, casting some kind of spell on me that was trying to make me like her more. Sorry, lady! I don't like NOBODY who don't earn it! So Llew and Forth went in ahead of me, but Forth went ahead and got paralyzed on his way past her. It was just NOT his day. I went on in and tried to stab her with my rapier, but that trick never works. Seein' a paralyzed dwarf, a big bad inquisitor lady, and a little gnome, the burblelady did what any sensible undead lady would do and ripped up Llew something awful! This had to stop! So, usually Thorn's somewhere in the background with his little vine whips or his cantrips or somethin', but I wasn't noticin' him this fight. Was he hangin' back outside? Turns out he had a potion of Remove Paralysis, but he was too scared to risk coming in to give it to Forth. *SIGH*. Then WHY did you take the potion in the first place, Thorn? It's not like we're going to need it in some nice, calm, sitting room, surrounded by Yalnu and his cronies having tea and cookies with them! Ah, well, things were gettin' serious so I dropped my useless rapier and pulled out stabby and drew blood... or whatever it is burbleladies bleed. So she turned her attention to me, and I ain't no inquisitor or nothin', so I got to spend a while just standing there while she chewed on me. It hurt, but it was keeping Llew and Forth alive so it was OK. I can take it. I'm a big girl. But the world was getting all black around the edges, so if you two could finish off burble girl soon that would be sooooo nice... Forth dropped his axe and started backing up so I got all worried, but then he pulled out his great huge hammer and smashed her head in like a big melon. That could be a stage act! I was glad that this time I had my mouth closed. Would've been unpleasant otherwise.
So, we started healing (I had to give my wand to Forth to get it to heal me), and Llew said she was concerned about our resources. We were almost out of food (well, I wasn't, but not everybody had stocked up on halfling food before we left, and I couldn't feed all of 'em). Even worse, we were almost out of wands. So Llew lit up this special torch that was supposed to help us find things better. It worked! We found a really well-made secret door down in the basement that had a big old keyhole in it. Searching the rest of the house using Llew's torch, we found the key to the secret door in a hollow skull in the library. Cool! As we worked, Forth and Llew started thinking out loud, and that's always No Fun, but they had the right of it: We knew when the goblin wars ended, and we knew when the plague happened. It had been more than enough time to create another plague. So why hadn't one come along? I figured it was because one plagued city wasn't anything Cheliax would bother with, but more'n one would be an epidemic they'd have to get off their lazy evil butts and deal with. Forth and Llew weren't so sure.
Thorn put Ant Haul on Forth, I sawed the legs off the dining room table to give him a surface, and we piled all the stuff from the armory onto it. Then Forth ran into the door trying to get out, we all had a good giggle (well, I know *I* did), and we re-loaded the table outside and went on our way. Our first stop was (of course) at the graveyard to say, "Hi!", and let our hostess know what we'd been up to. We noticed three fresh graves dug in the northern side of the graveyard to we called out to our hostess to find out who dug 'em. Turns out she'd dug 'em, for US! How nice! I tried 'em out, just to let her know I appreciated the thought! So we told her about what we'd been up to. She expressed happiness that we'd killed the bat; apparently it had tried to kill her a few times. Made me happy we'd killed the bat, too! It was pretty sad, though. She talked about how much she used to enjoy watching the Tarren girls play hide-and-seek around the graveyard, and why didn't they come around any more, and Llew just out and told her they were all dead. She took it like a fey. "Oh, well, that's sad, move on." But I still felt bad for her. Sad to see the good mortals go 'n'all. Anyway, we didn't have more to report, so I put a bunch of cake out for her (nobody don't like cake, and I was gettin' pretty tired of it, honestly), then we bid our fey farewell and headed north.
We went back to Ellis' house to let 'em know it was time to go; we were going to get 'em out of Gillamoor. They cheered the armor and weapons. Ellis isn't all that bright, and didn't understand that the house was just a decoy, but a couple of the kids caught right on and we prepared to leave. In particular, there's a girl named Nanny who's right sharp. Gotta watch that one! Llew insisted that we spend the night and leave at first light. I wanted to leave right away. Forth was the tiebreaker and voted for spending the night. One of these days Thorn'll have an opinion. And then it'll make a noise and startle him and he'll hide around the corner from it, not giving it its potion. With their new armor'n'stuff, the pallies wanted to go straight for Yalnu, in a magnificently suicidal paladinly sorta way. Llew nixed it. SHE would be coming for Yalnu. I got shivers just watching her when she said it. It's going to be a race for his kidneys!
While the kids were preparing (and trying to get Ellis to understand what was going on), we first went to the orchard and stocked up on apples. Not all that great for the long haul, but it'd keep everyone's bellies full for a day. Maybe two, if we were lucky. Loaded with apples, we went back to the graveyard for one more comfy night under MY tree (that I planted for our hostess), and Llew offered her an apple. This TEENSY little cricket girl hopped out and onto the apple and thanked Llew! Yay! Wish I knew what the heck she was! She was obviously fey, and I've obviously got some studyin' to do 'cause I had no idea what the heck I was lookin' at. But she liked my cake, and she liked Llew's apple, and she trusted us enough to show herself, and that made me happy! So I got out my winter blanket and snugged up in MY tree's roots again, and slept like a horse as had been drugged by Asmodeans for Nefarious Purposes, so I totally missed it, but apparently in the middle of the night a carriage had come up to the front of the barracks and done something different. Forth said he wouldn't send me out on something too dangerous for him to go out on or somethin', but I'm beginning to think he's sweet on me, too. What the living frick?!?!? I gots a bunch o' paladins of Erastil the Erotic and a paladin o' Torag all after my tail! And Freaky Thorn wants to wrap me in vines and do something Just Not Right to me, I know it. My Asmodean upbringing must just make me irresistible to paladins, 'cause of their whole, "We gotta discipline you and redeem you, dearie!" But I'm not into all that stuff; I'm already all redeemed, thank you very much, so I'll just hide under Llew's coat for a while.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, we woke up in the morning (some of us without having gotten to see a creepy carriage), and I very formally invited the little cricket girl to come with us and escape Gillamoor. She gave an appropriately snarky reply. I could pretty much hear her unseen eyes roll (she didn't come out again). But it's the offer, not the acceptance that matters. So we went to Ellis' house and picked up all the pervy pallies, then marched in a formal procession over to Herrick's house. It was pretty nerve-wrackin', trying to get that many young 'uns across dangerous territory when they had all their new toys they wanted to try out on any undead they saw, but Ellis had 'em trained at least well enough that when we counted 'em up outside Herrick's we hadn't lost any. Herrick wasn't nearly as dim as Ellis, and caught on right away. He and his folk were ready to leave in only a few minutes, so we counted the herd (23, including us) and started moving out. We handed out apples and cake to everyone, and that pretty much did in the apples. Man, humans eat a LOT! We got to the stables, expecting the worst, but there was Pokey, still alive and everything! Llew complained that Calamity was gone, but that's just like a horse. My pony was alive! I offered Starvey some oats from his saddlebag to show him how happy I was to see him, but he don't like me much so he snubbed 'em, and me. Didn't matter. He still had a saddle and I'm a good climber.
So once Herrick was in Forth's cart and not hobbling along on his bobbly old knees, he got to talkin' and thinkin' and stuff, and he's been around a while, so he's pretty good at it. He figured the guards we saw at ol' Yalnu's house were his guards during the day, and if we attacked the house at night we might be able to take 'em all out while Yalnu was away! Smart man! So we should do the house first, take out all his support, then sneak into the barracks! I liked Herrick, even if his knees did creak like some old haunted tree that got planted outside my window just to give me nightmares when it creaked in the wind and it's leaning over and it's reaching out to get me...
...anyway, Creaky-Knees Herrick went on to tell us that the mystery wagon THAT I DID NOT GET TO SEE came around about once a month, and he figured it was supplies for the humans in Yalnu's employ. I wanted to correct him and tell him that there were halflings, too, but maybe in his world "employ" don't include slaves. But yeah, I figure the carriage probably fed the halflings, too.
We got to the haunted house, and Herrick and Ellis got together and channeled energy to put some of the haunts to rest, and then a bunch o' the clerics and paladins got all excited about the scarecrows. I mean, they're just scarecrows! But they said we could probably sell 'em for hundreds of gold apiece. OK, I admitted, that was exciting, so into the wagon with Herrick they went. He didn't complain, and their knees didn't creak, so I was happy with the whole arrangement. We kept moving until nightfall, and then Herrick and Ellis summoned their grey goopy stuff for dinner. Thorn went around making everyone's taste like vanilla pudding, but I needed to try it plain. It wasn't bad. But I don't need to try it again. At least it wasn't cake. But eating that stuff for 8 years solid? No wonder no gnomes had survived! I just shuddered at the thought!
So, Llew has a sense of humor after all! We got to Haugin's Ear with our whole parade safe and intact, and she just casual-as-you-please knocked on the tavern door and asked to see Mayor Keegan. So Keegan wanted to know what was up, and she just casual-as-you-please mentioned that we might have rescued some people from Gillamoor. Well, that was that. Free drinks, free food, celebrations, and there wasn't much any of us could do for a good part o'the rest of the afternoon and evening, seeing as to all the people slappin' us on our backs, shaking our hands, hugging us, and otherwise telling us what great people we were. The nice thing about being a gnome is that they never know how hard to hit you or hug you or anythin', so they always try to be extra gentle, and then you can wince or squeak or make a face and they'll leave you alone and harass the dwarf. But we got home-cooked food (no cake, thank goodness), many songs (I may have danced a bit), and Keegan even kept his word and I got a full-sized human room to myself. I paid for Starvey to get some good care, since he'd earned it, then I went upstairs and bounced around on the bed 'n' such, as must be done, but I was honestly pretty tired so after a bit o' jumpin' I just flopped over and slept somewhereorother on that vast expanse o' bed. Didn't matter. Nobody bugged me, no horny paladins of Erastil tried to join me, no undead attacked the town, and I got a decent night's sleep for once. Felt good.
In the morning it was time for important business: Mrs. Mason's! She was happy to see me (she always is), and I headed straight for her "gnome section" (I'm not sure, but I think she might've set it up for me. I don't mind). There was a bunch o' halfling food there, but I was pretty much done with cake for a few years, so I bought a bunch o' proper gnome food. Little bags and you never know what's in 'em! Love the stuff! 'specially 'cause it's not cake. So first I figured I had to restock on the stuff that had saved my life: I got myself a couple of smoke pellets, a bunch more alchemist's fire and holy water, more antiplague (and even more 'cause Llew asked me to buy some for her), a silver mirror, a necklace of garlic bulbs, and some wildflower seeds. Plus another tree. Mrs. Mason didn't have any manure, but she said I could shovel it myself. Oh, I could, could I? I guess she wasn't very good with heights. So I bought myself a big ol' ceramic jug that looked solid enough to keep the stink in, and spent an hour in the hot sun filling it with horse poo. 'Cause horses are big, and I'm not. After the fact I realized I probably could've just got Starvey to poop all over the place; I'm sure Mrs. Mason sold pills for that kind of thing, but oh, well, the deed was done and I had a bit jug o' horse poop. I thought o' wrapping it up and gifting it to Forth, but I'm not mean like paladins. So, I figured from Creaky Herrick's description that we'd be facin' down vampires, and I had Stabby and garlic and a mirror, but I didn't have a good holy symbol. I asked Mrs. Mason whether she had any nice holy symbols of Calistria lying around, and she looked like I'd just swallowed her cow. I figured that was a, "No," so I swung by the smithy and asked him to make me one. He got all enthusiastic about it and said he'd have it ready the next morning. I swear, humans! Horniest critters on Golarion! Calistria's got nothing on them!
So while I was there, Forth came by to get some more wands of healing, so I figured I'd go in with him to see whether any of the wands didn't hate gnomes. He got himself two wands of healing, and I figured that was enough so I gave him some gold for those. There were some wands for that shield-thingy Thorn does, and I figured they couldn't hurt, so I bought one. Maybe a brand-new wand I bought for myself wouldn't hate me as much. I asked what kind of tree it was from, and I was hoping he'd say, "Oak", but he said something I didn't recognize, maybe mahajooey, but whatever it was, it sounded kind of gnomish, so I figured I was spending my money well.
Finally, I figured after my performance throwing my daggers about in the garden I probably needed a proper bow, so I got one. Nice little number! Let's hope it hits better than the daggers did! I thought about getting one of them, "Things I've killed" journals like Llew has, 'cause that's all cool-like, but I figured I'd just forget everything I killed before I thought about writing it down, or forget the journal, or something, so Llew could keep her journal o' cool.
One more luxurious night in town (they said the undead attacks had really died down since we left. Which either meant we were doin' our jobs, or that we weren't attracting them any more), and in the morning I picked up my fresh-and-shiny holy symbol, did NOT tip the smith (and you know damn well what I mean), and headed for the stables. And ran into a crowd. All the clerics and paladins we'd rescued wanted to come back with us to help! I figured they'd just get themselves killed, but Llew and Forth wanted 'em to come along to guard the horses and the halflings 'n'such as we rescued 'em. I wanted to point out that they were girl halflings, so I wasn't sure how safe they'd be around those paladins, but I kept my mouth shut, as they were right there and I figured I'd get a LONG shut-up time for that one.
So we get the paladins, head over to the stables, and of course there's Starvey poopin' like nobody's business. Dumb pony! I tried to clamber onto him all hard-like, but when you weigh under 40 pounds soaking wet ponies don't care much. Thorn climbed up behind me and didn't fare much better, so we rode back towards Gillamoor. I'd like to stay it was an exciting, adventure-filled journey, but really about the most exciting thing was not having to eat the same food every day. But I gotta admit, that in and of itself was pretty sweet. And the paladins behaved themselves and didn't mysteriously end up in my bedroll by mistake. That was nice, too.
Once we got to Gillamoor, we set up the paladins and the horses in the stable we'd built before. Still no sign of Calamity. Sorry, Llew! Following Herrick's instructions, we waited 'til the middle of the night, then Llew cast Hide from Undead on us so's we could get past the roaches. It was disgusting, but it worked. We wandered in and the roaches didn't even notice we were there. But eeeeeeew there were thousands of 'em. I sure as heck didn't want to be in the open when the spell wore off!
We got to Yalnu's house without any trouble, and the fort was goin' full-tilt so we knew he wasn't home. I opened the gate as quiet as I could and let everyone else into the garden. Thorn warned me that there was an Alarm spell on the door (nice job, Thorn!), so I made quick work of it, plus the lock. So far, so good! Then I opened the door quiet as I could... and there was a guard right there, just sittin' there, watchin' the door for people like me! The nerve! I hope Yalnu was payin' him well, 'cause that job sucked, both for him and for me! So everybody got all yelly. Forth yelled and ran in and started hittin' the guy. The guy started yellin' and hittin' back at Forth. So, I don't know why humans build houses with such narrow hallways when they know they're eventually gonna be killin' each other in 'em, 'cause it's right inconvenient for us little folk to try to work our way past all those great big gangly legs. I gave it a halfhearted try, but there was no way I was gettin' in that room, and so Forth and Llew (who has long arms) got all the fun of beating him senseless. We made a ton of noise and we took a long time, so it was no surprise that by the time he dropped we heard some magic users doin' their thing through the curtain blocking the hall. We all went through the curtain and heard the guys casting spells from behind a locked door. So Forth banged on it, as he does, and Thorn threw some acid at it, 'cause I guess it looked at him funny or something, and I asked 'em to get out of the way so I could open it. While we were doin' that, Llew apparently found the halfling slaves locked in the pantry, figured out they weren't evil, and told 'em to stay put while we dealt with the situation. Forth stepped back, and I figured I was good, so I stepped up and got to work, only to have Forth's great big freaking hammer come crashing RIGHT OVER MY HEAD and smash the door down! Well, the guys inside understandably didn't like seein' their door smashed, so the guy in back spit somethin' really nasty and sticky at me (even my boyfriend doesn't get to do that, sicko!) so I sidestepped that easily enough, the two fighters swung about a foot over my head (guess they figured it wouldn't be a gnome smashin' down their door. Who's the badass now, Llew?), and some other creepy lady tried to poke me with her finger. (I already said, "No thanks," to your man-friend, lady!). Well, with no door to unlock any more and a bunch of heavily-armored guys (and a creepy gal) all blocking up the opening, it was time to leave. I danced back and let Forth take my spot. So, Llew swung around a corner at them. They swung at Forth. The guy in back cast spells. Thorn cast spells that made pretty rainbows. And nobody was gettin' hurt, and nobody was bleedin', and nothing much was happenin', so I got bored. (And don't get on me for, "Why weren't you shootin' your bow, Trig?" 'Cause hittin' fighters with toothpicks is just as borin' as standing there watchin' them, and just as effective)!
So I left. I'd seen a door down the hall back towards the way we came, and there was an open door in the right direction, so I figured I could probably go around. So I left to go find it. Just in time to hear Thorn do a lot of burning. Thanks for leaving me out of the fun, Thorn! I found the door and it was easy enough to pop open (I'm starting to agree with Forth -- these humans couldn't make a decent lock to save their lives). I got all stealthy and quiet and it was pretty loud in the room so I figured I was safe, so I went sneaking on in. There was another door right into the fight! Win!
I went dancing on in, stepping right on the unconscious form of the magic-user, who'd apparently lost to Thorn in some kind of magic fight (sucks to be you!), right past one of the guards, and surprised the one in the door. I didn't hit him, but it sure got all their attention! So they all started beatin' on me (I never said it was a good plan), which hurt quite a bit, but it let Forth and Llew get into the room with them, and then it was mop-up time. After watching her fellows get bludgeoned right quick now that the blockage was gone, creepy cleric girl surrendered. I had no idea what to do, but Forth and Llew seemed OK with it so I didn't stab her. I just stood there and bled for a bit while they figured out what to do with her.
Oh, where to start with this mess! So, the cleric, her name was Merri, let us tie her up. One of the other guys had bled out, but the other 3 were OK. We let the halfling slaves out and they said that the magic-user was really mean, the fighters were mean, but Merri wasn't half bad. All the unconscious guys detected as Evil, and Merri really really wanted us to kill 'em. I figured she was worried they'd tell us something she didn't want us to hear, but Llew listened, passed judgement, and killed 'em all, clean-like. I had Forth use my hatey-wand to heal me up. Take THAT, hatey-wand! It got all used up and I stored it for the next time I needed firewood. So, turned out Merri was an Urgathoan, and I figured that was all she wrote for her, but Llew let her keep talking. Turns out she was a victim of a "recruitment" drive where they infected a bunch of people and the people could join up or die horribly. Merri asked what she was supposed to do? She had to join! No, Merri, you're supposed to take Option 3 and stab the bastard in the eye when he comes back and die peaceful-like knowing you protected countless other people from the same fate you where whining about. THAT'S what you were supposed to do, Merri. But anyway, she didn't detect as Evil, and it turns out she was useful to them 'cause she was one of the few Urgathoans who could channel positive energy. Well, if the gods wanna play that kind of twisted joke, I guess she's got some kind of future, so I'm glad Llew let her live. We searched the house and had the halflings help us, but there was nothing useful; Yalnu wasn't stupid enough to have his important papers here. We got into kind of an argument 'cause I wanted to put the halflings back in the pantry and go right after Yalnu, but Llew and Forth wanted to get the halflings and our prisoner to safety. As always, it was two against one (had an opinion yet, Thorn? Nope? OK! Keep photosynthesizing! It's OK!), so we loaded all the thugs' gear up and headed for the paladins. Let them deal with her!
The good news was, she was a talky one. Turns out Yalnu's not in charge; the necromancer's some lady name of Delvine. She's undead. Yalnu reports to her, he's some kind of mad scientist, and he's probably undead, too. They're mining goblin corpses out of the Chitterwood, separating all the parts real careful into bone and marrow and organs and flesh and whatnot, and doing something with 'em. Eventually, once they've put enough stuff together, a carriage comes 'round and takes another shipment to reinforce their undead army.
So here's where it gets twisted: Lady Jeggare's all pissy 'bout losing power (apparently the Cheliaxians gave her the boot when she failed to protect her city the first time), so she's working with the "Mother of Wights", who's apparently giving the orders to Delvine, who's giving the orders to Yalnu. She's building one undead army to attack the capital. She's getting a second, presumably not-undead army to defeat the first one. So, she sacks the capital, kills all the nobles who ousted her (and anybody else), comes in, cleans up, and gets rewarded with a crown and a hero's worship. Really not a bad plan, except it's pretty darn stupid if you're sharing it with some lowly cleric locked in a house with three halflings and some corpses!
Well, I guess they were alive when she told 'em and all.
So, we had Delvine, Yalnu, and the Urgathoan high priestess name of Aglo all in the fortress, along with however many hundred undead were waiting for us. Fun! Since it was already 1 in the morning, Llew and Forth chose to wait to assault the fortress in the morning. Again, I didn't like it, but we had innocents to protect, so I figure they know what's best.
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 9, Played 25-Mar-2018
We argued a bit more about whether we were going to go that night or in the morning, but since I didn't have to wait for spells to come back or negative levels to go away or whatever, I shut up (voluntarily this time!) and we decided we'd wait 'til nearly noon to attack the fort. Llew pronounced judgement and marked Lady Jeggare and the Mother of Wights for death. I thought it was pretty cool, but nothin' happened so I figured it was kind of a, "Wait 'til you meet 'em" thing. So we got a good night's rest with our pallies and our rescuees and our captive (very singular, and I was still hoping Llew'd change her mind -- killin' people through disease 'cause you're too scared to die yourself is pretty low, in my book), and sat around in the morning waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and WAITING for the stoopid sun to get up high enough that Forth'd tell us it was time to go. We spent a LITTLE time going over the fort's defenses: The courtyard and front gates were murder traps, all the stairs were guarded, yada yada yada. Nothing all that particularly interesting when we had our own super-secret special passage to get in! We'd just go on in, find the archers on the 2nd level, take 'em out, and work from there.
Thorn actually got brave enough to talk to our halfling guests and ask about his girlfriend/wife/sweetie/whatever Raspberry Bramblepatch. If that's a gnome name, I'll eat a bug! Heck, I'd eat the bug anyway, but our little Thorn was sweet on a halfing! Cute! But our girls had never heard of her, which was not a surprise considering THAT THEY HAD BEEN SLAVES THEIR ENTIRE LIVES! Unless sweet young Raspberry was really into whipping and chaining people up (which actually might explain a bit o' Thorn, there), I just didn't see her traveling in the same circles as slavers or their slaves. So no surprises, and I just kept my mouth shut on gnome/halfling carnal relations. I just didn't want to know. FINALLY Forth said we could head on in!
We walked into town, extra-cautious in case Yalnu was feelin' all ambushy or somethin', but we didn't run into anything. In fact, the first sign o' trouble we saw at all was old creaky man Herrick's house burnt to ground. Guess Yalnu didn't need his cover any more. We swung around wide to check out Ellis' house and same thing. Time to check on our crickety friend! We hurried in and saw zombie parts surrounding the cemetery, but it didn't look like many had gotten in. Sure enough, Llew called out to her and she called back. She was fine! Phew! So I told her I had more presents for her and she sounded all cautious-like but I broke out the wildflower seeds and the horse manure. She didn't much understand what the manure was for or where it was from, and I didn't have Starvey to demonstrate, so I just told her, and pantomimed out how I'd shoveled it all myself, and she decided she didn't want it. I figure I probably wouldn't have wanted it either after that show. Ah, well, I'm headin' for Yalnu's with 20 pounds o' horse poop. I'm SURE I'll find a use for it! Anyway, yeah, the zombies had attacked like they were really mad this time, but they all died just like always, so she was fine and still happy that we were going to go kill him. From her place we could barely see Yalnu's house, and it looked like it was still burnin'. SOMEONE was throwing a temper tantrum! Ha ha! Got your halflings!
I bet his breakfast that morning SUCKED!
'Course, we hadn't brought much the halflings could cook, and I was out of halfling rations, so they got some of the paladins' food, so I guess their breakfast sucked too. Ah, well! Mine was GREAT! Dried apricots and cranberries and little nuts that might have been sunflowers or pine nuts or maybe little squirrel testicles because I've never had 'em and I wouldn't recognize them if someone put 'em in my little bag o' goodies but the things I were eating didn't look all that shriveled so I figure they were really nut nuts and not that other kind of nut. But they were tasty, squirrel or no.
Anyway, while I was reminiscing 'bout squirrel testicles (or lack thereof) in my breakfast, Llew was doin' her prayer thing and got all blessed 'n' stuff, so I tried prayin' to Calistria with my new holy symbol, and asked her to bless the garden and make things grow and all that good stuff. Llew asked me whether I was prayin' to the right goddess, and I got all indignant-like and told her that Calistria did more than fornicate and seek vengeance, but I figure it kind o' messed up my prayers 'cause no blessin' for me! Ah, well, if you can't get blessed, get lucky is what I always say! Or at least I said it just now, so whatever.
We headed back for the Tarrens' house, and were pretty pleased to find that it was still intact, what with all the burnin' that had been goin' on. I mean, goblins or gnomes? The whole town would've gone up! Necromancers? Rank amateur arsonists, if you ask me! Anyway, we got back into the house, down through the kitchen, into the cellar, back to the secret door, and everybody let me turn the big ol' key. Maybe they were just humoring me; maybe they were hopin' something nasty would happen, but it didn't much matter; it was a COOL key! Lots of fun to turn, and it took a lot of turns to get the door unlocked. While I was workin', Llew put Hide from Undead on all of us so we could be all sneaky-like. Before I opened the door, I handed out antiplague to me, Llew, 'n' Thorn. Can't be too careful! And Forth insisted he didn't need it, so I wasn't bein' selfish or anything. Once we'd downed our doses, Thorn was feelin' grateful so he put Barkskin on me. How sweet! He knows just what to get a girl! Llew pouted a little 'cause I was gettin' all the attention, so Thorn went ahead and put Barkskin on her, too. Yeah, I give him a lot of grief, 'cause he's kind of a weird gnome and kind of a coward, but he's got a good heart. And he was raised by halflings, so I've got to cut him some slack. Llew suggested that Forth Detect Evil through the door! Good thought, Llew! Sure enough, there was evil! So Forth stood in the door while I stood back and cast Open on it! That's right! I'm a magikal gnome, too! I have all kinds of tricks up my sleeves!
Inside we saw the passage, but in the passage were a lot more of those cockroach thingies, and it did NOT look like a pleasant walk to get through 'em all! They couldn't see us thanks to Hide from Undead, and I probably could have gotten through, but certain clumsy paladins in big armored feet might not fare so well, and one touch and the jig was up! Llew had the bright idea to cast Light (get it? Bright!) and sure enough, the little undead thingies ran like crazy to hide from the light! So we all got in the hallway, I got out my ioun torch, and Llew and Thorn used alternating Light spells to get us past the roaches safely! Nicely done!
So we got to the end of the secret hall, and I earned my good deed of the day when I saw the rickety old wooden ladder leading up to the ceiling and didn't giggle at Forth. Forth sighed and was a good sport about it, and he gave me a boost up (the bottom part of the ladder had been eaten away by the roach things) and I clambered on up and checked the trap door. It was dusty, but not trapped and latched on this side, so it would be easy to get in. But there was some kind of SMELL coming from the other side! It wasn't like dead-stink or bathroom-stink, but more stinky like the bottles I broke when I was trying to stuff that alchemist's kit we found into my Handy Haversack. Yeah, some kind of alchemist's stink. Kind of like what the other guy, what was his name? Ilvarsh! Kind of like Ilvarsh's room with the giant feet and intestines 'n' stuff. But it was our way in, so I popped open the lid and clambered up. And oh my gosh the STINK! I felt like my lungs were going to melt right out of my chest! Llew put some cloth on her face, and Forth had his beard, but I don't know that it helped all that much. Thorn was coming up last, and he told us even the roaches were fleeing the stench. Who knew those things could even smell?!?!
So we were in some kind of chemical storage room, but all the vats were leaky and it was stinky and it was time to get OUT! Trouble was, it's kind of hard to concentrate when your lungs are trying to run down and hide under your intestines and your nose hairs are doin' a little cannibal jungle dance around your dyin' nostrils and all you can think about is how much it stinks and shut up everybody and let me focus and THERE! The door is open! It took a while, but I got the door open! Who cares what's in the hall? We're goin' out!
I got into the hallway and it looked like the coast was clear. Once Thorn was up Llew closed the door, and we started hearing the little roaches exploding from the stench (who knew?), then suddenly we heard a big old rumbling down there! Forth, bein' a dwarf, told us it was a cave-in, so that was a one-time entrance. Oh, well! Made things interesting!
Out in the hallway I could hear some people talkin' off in one direction, but Llew really wanted to go the other direction and scout out the dead end. Didn't seem all that sensible to leave a talky guy talking, but he and his friend didn't seem to have heard us nor the cave-in, so I guess it was OK. The room at the end was the old castle larder, with all the food spoiled. Llew saw some good wine and brandy and yoinked one, so I figured she was both inquisitin' AND confiscatin'. Didn't seem out-of-place to me. At least we'd found a room that we could barricade ourselves into if need be that DIDN'T stink! So... back to Mr. Talky!
His room had a nice solid door on it, locked from the inside, with a sliding peephole at MY height! What a luxury! And there was no slide-hole for the tall folk, so I kind of wanted to open it and make them stoop over and look in so they knew how I felt all the time at their big ol' doors, but I figured the guy inside probably wouldn't appreciate all of us just standing there peeping in his peephole, so it was probably right proper to kill him first.
So, I could only hear one guy talkin', but he was talkin' to his "sweetie", which I figured was some kind of abominable construct. He kept talking about "cake" and "more blue" and "blue blue eyes" and I figured the eyes were probably on the table and he was paintin' 'em. He was also talking about how much he hated Yalnu for slowin' down his beloved spread of disease, so I was really gettin' pretty itchy to go in and stab him.
Except Llew said, "No."
What the ever-lovin' buttocks of Calistria? Well, she wanted to sneak past and leave him be, to avoid losin' our Hide from Undead unnecessarily, and we could always come back and kill him later. I dunno; cakes and blue eyes and diseases and constructs seemed like a bad thing to have behind us, but I went along with it. We tippy-toed past Mr. Abomination's room, and even Forth was kinda quiet... for a dwarf! Since he was bein' so sneaky-like, I let him get ahead of me to the first guardpost we'd planned to clear out. The first sign o' trouble was Forth sayin', "Oops! He's seen me!"
So I didn't see him, but I saw a big open hallway off to our right, and Mr. Talky behind us, and Thorn standin' right next to me surrounded by the whole thing, so I figured I could let Llew and Forth deal with whatever was causin' Forth trouble, and I could cover the doors and passageways and Thorn 'til he got himself somewhere safer. He's an odd 'un, and he gets distracted real easy, but that's OK. So do I. Trouble with leavin' Forth alone is that his eternal strategy seems to be to let his enemies beat him to death while me 'n' Llew 'n' Thorn try to bail him out. This time was no different; I was standin' there, watchin' the halls and the doors, and I heard Forth yell, "Choke on my beard, ya varmint!" followed by the unmistakable sound of something chewing on Forth's hairy throat through his armor and beard. (Trust me. I've heard it a lot.) So, I headed 'round the corner, and there's Forth in the lovin' embrace of some bony-thin creepy guy with a piece of paper nailed to his forehead. Y'know, if I ever end up an undead, bein' the kind that runs around with paper nailed to my face is right down low on my list of, "I could do thats." So Thorn used his horny vine on it, which I kinda question, but who am I to judge, but it just giggled at him and hopped right over it. Me 'n' Llew moved in and got a nice flank, but he was a hoppy, dodgy bugger even while holding onto Forth. How did he DO that? He decided he'd had enough o' chewin' on Forth and came for me, but I was ready and danced out of his reach. It was a nice set-up, 'cause it let Llew hit him real hard. Trouble was, it decided I was too dodgy and grabbed Llew instead. Fortunately, Thorn's gettin' better and better as his gnome heritage, and he Greased her right up! I'm getting proud o' that boy, raised by halflings though he might have been! Forth was staggerin' about, lookin' pretty pale and injured. But then again, I'm gettin' so used to it it's gettin' hard for me to tell the difference between "injured Forth" and "OK Forth", but he wasn't bangin' on the monster, so I figured he needed a moment to recuperate.
Llew took one look at those fangs under the paper and wriggled and shimmied like...oh, OK, I won't go there. But she was all greased up and shimmyin' and I'd have been distracted if I'd been holdin' her, too, so she got away. So I stabbed it a little for all the good it did me (couldn't find any sensitive parts, what with all that hopping!), Thorn used a wand of Magic Missile on it and it just bounced off (Llew said later they're immune to wands, which is an awfully convenient immunity, if you ask me), and it decided that it wanted me again, but if he can hop, I can dance. So, either Llew likes me WAY more than I think she does, or I'm a good distraction, but once again the moment he started goin' after me Llew gave him another solid thwack and down he went!
Llew told us what it was -- a Yhang See vampire or some such, but I couldn't even say it, much less figure out how to write it down. She said it'd come back if we didn't mix its ashes with holy water, and she was even faster'n me on the draw and dumped some in and started mixing the corpse (which had indeed turned to ash while I wasn't looking. Neat trick!) up with the holy water and moving it around the room. She asked me to help, and I figured it would probably be the most useful thing I'd done all day. While we were dealing with the ashes and Forth was healing himself up, we heard some muttering in a room. First something kind of like apologies, and then the clear sound of casting. Ah,well. No rest for the wicked! Or the good guys!
I raced ahead to the door but it was locked. For once, something I could do! Since I wasn't choking to death at the moment, it was easy as pie to pop the lock. (Is pie really easy? I've never tried. I should ask Thorn. Halflings sure make enough of the stuff. Anyway...) Llew reached over me and opened the door, and Forth rushed in. For once I actually got to see the fight as it started! Actually, it wasn't all that interesting. There was this big giant ghoul thing standing in the middle of the room, but Forth just yelled out that it was an illusion and moved right on past it. He said there was a miniature version of the thing in the corner, and it was standing on a bed with a tied-down sickly little girl. I figured there hadn't been any little girls here in ages, and neither of the houses had reported any missing, so it had to be some kind of trick, but paladins will be paladins so we had to be careful. So no fire, no ice, nothing all that fun. So I just pulled out my bow and took a shot at it. It passed through the giant ghoul and I could suddenly see through it (I'd heard us gnomes were good with illusions, but I'd never seen it in practice before. It was kinda neat!). Didn't help my aim any. The little critter reached over and touched Forth and OH MY GODDESS WHAT DID IT JUST DO!?!?! A little baby Forth started springin' from Forth's belly and arguin' with him, kind of like if Forth ate me and I decided I wanted out. 'Cept the little Forth was nowhere near cute as me. And kinda cussy. And nasty. And the last thing this world needs is two Forth beards. Thorn showed some sense by just shooting the ghoul thingy with a Magic Missile. Good job, Thorn! So Llew and Forth penned the little caster in the corner, but that meant I couldn't get a flank at all, so I figured I didn't particularly want a baby at my young and delicate age and used my wand of Shield on myself. It worked! See? If you buy your own wands, they think you're their mother and they like you! That's why they work for Forth and Llew but not for me! But if I were Forth's baby-wand, I'm not sure I'd want to work for him. He's kind of grouchy a lot, especially when he's hurt. Who wants a dad who's always mad? And considerin' how much he was cussin' his Forth-baby, I didn't particularly want to be his baby.
Anyway, the critter (I think it was a "she") then made Llew think she had really nasty worms, so I was pretty happy she wasn't targeting me, but I couldn't just sit there and do nothing. I figured she was small so it couldn't hurt to try to grab her to slow her down, but she just laughed at me and told me she was going to give me to Remmet, and he'd "take care of me in no time". Well, Remmet could wait his damn turn! I was going to kill her first!
So Forth couldn't hit her 'cause he was havin' a baby, Llew couldn't hit her 'cause she had worms, I couldn't hit her 'cause I'm little, and poor Thorn out back was left with his wand o' Magic Missile, pingin' away. And notice that he was IN THE ROOM and keepin' at it, even as she threw everything she could at him to make him stop. He was bleedin', he was sick, but he was usin' that wand like a champ. Now THERE'S a gnome I'd date! Except for the whole sleepin' in trees thing. Or not sleepin. Or whatever it is that he does or doesn't do. But creepy lady finally figured she'd take us out one by one, so she touched Llew and paralyzed her and made her stink real bad. After the chemical room, it really didn't smell all that bad to me, but I knew she was in a bad way and Thorn had the potion and I wasn't bein' much use anyway, so I danced away, grabbed the potion, and fed it to Llew. Llew told us we were fightin' a tengu, but that did me diddlysquat o'good. I was just having a pretty useless day, 'cept I wasn't bleedin' everywhere, or havin' a baby, or havin' worms, so I should probably shut up and count my blessings. So while Forth flailed, Llew survived, and I ran around uselessly, Thorn got to be Hero of the Day (good on you, Thorn!) by using a wand of Magic Missile to henpeck the stupid tengu near to death. But then for reasons only he'll ever know, he tried to vine her too. Eew! So he went back to Magic Missiles. Once she was pretty stagger-y, Llew inquisited her to death. She had on a big ol' holy symbol of Urgathoa, so I'm pretty sure we just killed Aglo, Merri's priestess. After a few more moments, Forth's baby went back inside of him. That is a sight I'll never unsee, dammit, Forth!
Much to my surprise, the little girl on the bed didn't rise up and reveal herself to be the "true priestess", or start vomitin' blood or worms or candycanes or pie or nothin'. She just kept layin' there. Llew was pretty pissed and she was busy cutting the head off bird/priestess/ghoul girl, so Forth had a look-see and I backed him up. It wasn't a little girl at all! It was an adult human, so worn and shriveled that she looked like a little girl! Forth said she had "Devil's Chills" something awful, which just sounds bad so I backed up to the other end of the room and joined Thorn. Wise Thorn. Gettin' smarter every day Thorn. So Forth looked her over and said that someone's been takin' blood samples out of her every day, and she should have died ages ago but someone'd been keepin' her alive. I think Llew'd just finish cutting that "someone's" head off, so I felt better about the whole thing. We quick-searched the headless corpse and found some nice loot, including a Ring of Protection that we gave to Forth 'cause he gets hit so much, and another wand of Cure Light Wounds for Llew. Woo hoo! Everything else looked sellable, so I packed it away. Looks like I'll have to find a place to put the manure soon; my pack's gettin' pretty full! As we were doin' that, Forth laid hands on the girl (his words, not mine) and cured her. Pretty impressive, Forth! A quick Lesser Restoration got her talking. She didn't know how long she'd been here, but they'd been flaying her every morning (not sure how she's sane, if she is), healing her up, and leaving her here 'til the next day, making sure she suffered as much as possible the whole time. I'd say that that made me decide to kill everyone in the building, but I'd decided that a while ago. 'Cept this time I didn't think even Forth'd argue. She warned us that there was a vampire (we're pretty sure it was the hoppy one who was now mud on the floor), and a creature that can reshape your skin to close up your orifices (eyes, ears, nostrils, or mouth, ya perv!) and take the shape of people it's been tormentin' (Llew said it was called a "Totenmask", and it lived by destroying others' hopes and dreams. *SIGH*. One more on my list. At least there wasn't anything that wasn't worth killin' 'round here). Plus the now-dead priestess. Well, time for more lootin'! We checked the bedside cabinet and found a gold mine! A scroll of Restoration and a scroll of Cure Moderate Wounds. Well, it didn't take much to convince Llew to use the Restoration on Forth, and he started looking like his grumbly, growly self again.
Once we were all healed up and ready to move on, we told the sick girl to stay put while we checked the rest of the hallway. The next door was another sick room 'cept this one had a sick man. So Forth went on in, and this one had Slimy Doom. I really didn't need to see it; I just believed Forth when he said the guy had it, and bad. I didn't want Forth wastin' all his hands-layin', 'specially on a guy, so I let him use the two scrolls of Cure Disease I'd been carryin' around forever, and the second one did the trick. Apparently as long as *I'm* not tryin' to use 'em, magic items are happy to work around us. Or maybe it's just a paladin thing. This guy told us to, "Be careful of the wizard," whatever that meant. I figured it just meant, "Stab the wizard real hard many many times," and I figured I could do that. I guess the guy didn't like my attitude, 'cause he went on that the wizard was, "Very big," and, "Very powerful," which to me just means, "Very stabbable." But that's just a personal thing. He's apparently, "Not like any wizard I've seen before," but that'll be just like me, 'cause I haven't seen very many wizards, either, and I don't think any of 'em would put up with the mess this lot was creating. Apparently the wizard was also good with undead. No kidding! This guy was a font of wisdom! So while Talky McObvious was yammerin' about the wizard I went ahead and helped myself to the cabinet, and another couple of scrolls! Well, at least the priestess was well-stocked, if irrevocably evil. As we moved to the next door, Thorn let us know that he was pretty sure he knew the first two people from around town in the pre-plague days. I had no idea how he could tell, considering how shriveled-up like Forth-picked apples they were, but I figured if he believed it it was fine with me. Door #3 was another guy, this one with "Mind Fire". Even after he got cured of his disease he was pretty cute-stupid, like a puppy who doesn't know any better, but he let us search his room, get the scrolls out of the cabinet, and leave him be.
After all that, Llew was ready go back and kill the guy with the cake and the blue blue eyes in the room. Hallelujah! We went up and I expected some kind of trickery, but Llew just knocked on the door and told the guy that Yalnu wanted to talk to him! And he fell for it! I'll admit; I'd probably have fallen for it, too! Llew can be really convincing when she wants to be, and it's not like it was a lie. If we'd said, "Hey, hi! We're here killing all your undead and evil people and curin' all your prisoners! You'd better go tell Yalnu!", I think it woulda been about the same. So this creeeeepy guy opened the door: He had bony hands, and a loooong robe, and his hood hid his face and when he spoke he had an echo-y voice, and when he moved he kind of slithered across the ground 'stead of walking. Well, that was good news for me, since snakes have all kinds of vertebrae to stab! He came out assumin' we were new mercenaries hired by Yalnu, and I got a peek in his room. There were a lot more o' those disease canisters like we found in the manor, and a beautiful painting of a really lovely, green-haired, blue-eyed gnome girl all done up in her wedding dress and looking just amazingly lifelike and gorgeous. I gotta admit, I was kinda jealous. So next to the painting was some big giant canister that was drippin' paint out the bottom, but then it was time to stop lookin' and start escortin', and I was worried Llew was going to give it all away by heading in the wrong direction, but she got him all nice in a flank and cut him down with a big sweeping swing! 'Cept she hit nothin' but sticks and cloth and some kind o' foamy stuff, 'cause that whole getup was just one big giant costume with a little gnome in the middle of it! Dang it! Tryin' to teach Thorn to be a proper gnome and you go and be all evil and vile and ruin it! Stabby time!
So him bein' on the ground and tellin' me I was all beautiful and he'd paint me too and such didn't do him any good, seein' as he was helping these horrible people make these diseases, so stabbing him felt good. He didn't last too long, either, as Forth and Llew felt the same way, and he didn't even get a chance to really stand up properly before we'd taken him down. So I felt really good. And I remember it, 'cause it's probably the last time I'll feel good in a really long time. 'Cause in the big canister, bleached to within an inch of her life, with only a few specks of blue in her eyes, was the gnome bride. He'd been bleachin' her to get her color. The canister even said, "Great masterpieces require great sacrifice."
I started sobbing, and ran out, and stabbed him a few more times. Then went in and saw her again. Then went out and stabbed him. Forth and Llew helped her out, but I'd never seen a gnome that bleached before; we usually die before we're that far gone! He'd kept her locked away for years. Same food. Same view. No variety. And intentionally bleached her so he could make a f**king painting!I!!! I *almost* tore up the painting, but then her sacrifice would mean nothing, and we'd never know of her beauty. She was still coherent, and answered our questions, but...
...I ran out and stabbed the bastard a couple more times.
I'll fix her. I'm fixing Thorn. I'll fix her. I ain't never heard of a gnome comin' back from bein' bleached before, but they've never met ME!
Just for starters, I called out to Forth. When he looked up, I hit him with my impact foam. BOOM! The whole room filled waist-deep with suds. Foam dripped from Forth's beard. Even Llew was covered in foam. They didn't complain. They understood. That's why I love 'em. The girl didn't even blink. It'll work. It'll take time. It'll take effort. But I'm going to find a way to make those eyes blue again! I know I will!
Llew and Forth did all the work. The guy had some kind of canister for himself, too, where he could hide in his own vomit. Woulda been really cool, if he weren't a friggin' abomination! He had an amulet and a cloak, but I didn't want anything of his so other people took 'em. The one thing of his I figured I could probably use better'n anyone else was the Oil of Invisibility, so I took that. Llew carefully rolled up the painting and put it in her bag. I appreciated that. If I ever... no. WHEN I get her her color back, we can give it to her. My mother always told me I had color to spare! Time to prove it! Llew and Forth took some other stuff, including plans for the canisters, and put the gnome girl with the sick woman. Neither objected; I'm sure the sick woman was glad of some non-unfriendly company, and the gnome girl just didn't care. I wanted to give her some alchemist's fire, but she's not ready yet. I'll know when she's ready.
We moved down the corridor to the next corner and ran into a horde of zombies. All of us felt like killin' things. Even Thorn got into the act with Burning Hands, cackling maniacally the whole time. And y'know what? It actually cheered me up a bit! Watching terrified, plant-loving, halfling-raised Thorn, terrified of his own shadow just a couple of weeks ago, burning zombies and dancing in the flames, I had hopes for the girl. She just needed to hang out with us for a while! We're interesting people! So the wand I bought worked again (see?), so I pushed us to move to the next door quickly. I got there, got all defensive-like, and swung open the doors to the war room.
Our fleshwarping Totenmask was in there, all right. There were four cages on the table, each with a fleshwarped human (shouldn't it be 3? No ears, no eyes, no mouth? What else? Oh, never mind...). He ran up and bit me in spite of my best defense, but it didn't seem to do a heck of a lot. Maybe it made be a little cranky, but getting bit always does that. So he was smart enough to know I was only dangerous if I got a flank with Llew or Forth, but he was just too excited to get to attack Forth so I got a lot of shots at him. His claws had little narrow tubes in 'em, and when he hit Forth with 'em (I really don't know why Forth even bothers with the armor. I think it's just cosmetic) Forth started gettin' all blotchy and hideous and cranky and annoying and the kind of dwarf you want to push down the stairs just to see which end'll land pointing up. But he's Forth, and he takes the beatin' so the rest of us don't have to, so while he was sufferin' and uglifyin' I helped Llew get a flank and stabbed away. Thorn Hasted us, but it didn't do me much good 'cause I got little legs and he kept movin' away from me. Well, at least it let me keep up. I got in what I thought was a really good stab that made him howl a bit, but then Llew just tore into him like an ugly dwarf at breakfast! Yeah, I don't know what it means either, but I had an ugly dwarf right next to me gettin' et by a fleshwarping abomination, so it's what came to mind. Well, he didn't appreciate that so he went after Llew and she got all the blotches and angriness and she started screamin' at us 'bout how useless we were and how she was doin' all the work and we were all standin' there just lettin' her get beat on 'n' such. Yeah, it was kinda hurtful. I got my uses. But scary guy makin' her be all mean 'n' such wouldn't stand, so I kept on stabbing at him. I guess Forth was kinda hurt, too, 'cause he really laid a whack on that whack job and he finally dropped. I don't know whether the thing was undead or what, but while it was layin' there we just all made sure it was dead. Llew used one of those scrolls of Restoration on herself and apologized to us for bein' all mean, but I figure truth is truth, and if you don't want to hear it you just gotta get better at what you do. So I gotta get better at distractin' things so they don't eat her. At 3'4" it's kind o' hard, but I can work on it.
Forth went to work cuttin' open the eyes and ears and mouths of the victims in the cages and then healin' 'em up. It was gruesome work, but I figured I'd much rather be able to see and hear and eat, so they were probably grateful, even if it hurt 'em at the time. Since Forth and Llew were busy, I used the wand Forth gave me to try to heal myself up a little and it worked! I guess it must o' felt sorry for me for all the things Llew said 'bout me bein' useless, so it would throw me a bone. But I was watching it. I knew it would turn around and stab me in the back first chance it got!
Anyhoo, once the people were all healed up they started tellin' us 'bout the totenmask, and how it acted as a spy for Yalnu, goin' out to the other buildings and makin' sure they were none the wiser, and makin' sure no adventurers were gettin' too close or nothin'. Kind of like me, 'cept creepy and mean and all flesh-warpy and better dead undead creepy thingy. Llew told us she was all tapped out. Forth wasn't feelin' it, neither, and we now had eight people we had to get out of there. I wanted to get everyone on the roof to make 'em jump off, 'cause it would've been really fun, but Forth and Llew nixed that and voted for goin' out the front gate. Personally, I think jumping woulda been safer.
Lookin' at the map, we only had one more tower and one more room to explore, so I convinced 'em to move on, deal with the last couple o' rooms, and then get everyone to safety. So we moved our latest four into the convention at the sick ward, then headed for the next guard tower. I tried to sneak up, but I was kind o' distracted by the bleached gnome and Llew's hurtful words 'bout how I had to get better, so some pink poked out where it shouldn't o' had and the ghouls in the room spotted me and came for me. I figured it was gonna be a right hurtful time, 'cept Thorn threw a patch of Grease right in their way (my hero!) and Forth came to back me up. I think paladins have gotta smell different to undead or somethin', 'cause the ghouls just didn't even want to bother with me but went right around the grease to start gnawin' on Forth. So, I appreciated the grease 'n' all, but it kinda kept me from gettin' around behind the ghouls, so I just had to dance around for a minute, bein' distractin', as Forth pushed his way farther into them. He yelled for Thorn to go ahead and burn 'em all, so he did, and Forth got all yelly and yowly and his beard caught on fire and he said that maybe Thorn oughtn't to do that again. But I could tell Thorn was grinnin' and if I giggled a little you can't really blame a girl. And once the ghouls were softened up by the fire they were pretty easy to drop. Fire solves everything. We healed up a little and moved to the last door.
I did the usual careful open, and it was a good thing I did 'cause it was a kitchen chock full o' undead. Ghouls, burning skeletons, and zombies were all packed into some kind of undead storehouse. What kind of birdbrain would store all his undead in a single room, like a warehouse o' bad? So the room was so crowded there wasn't much I could do, so I stepped back so bigger folk could get in. Thorn popped into the doorway and burned 'em all again. Thorn cheers me up. I look at the bleached girl, and I ain't never heard of a gnome comin' unbleached. But lookin' at Thorn and the way he was gleefully burnin' everything in sight, Forth included, gave me hope. Good on you, Thorn! Good on you! So anyway, Forth went on in as Forth does and started gettin' pounded on, as Forth does, but it gave me a chance to dodge through all the legs of the confused undead, 'cause who wants a gnome when you can pound on a paladin, and started workin' my way 'round from the rear. Llew and Forth got the idea o' usin' the burnin' skeletons' 'splosions to hurt everyone else in the room, so we got to make 'em go boom right next to their friends! It was all kinds o' fun, and made short work o' the whole room.
The kitchen was bein' used to process goblin parts. 'Nuf said. I just don't want to talk about it. Even Llew was so put out she said some holy words over 'em. We gathered up our horde-o'-rescuees and Forth "snuck" through the courtyard to open the front gate. Watchin' a dwarf "sneak" is kinda like watchin' a whale go for a hike. You got an idea of what it's tryin' to do, but you're not sure it even knows how. But apparently skeletons are so dumb they saw him trying to sneak, figured he was sneakin', figured they couldn't see him, and didn't shoot him. It's the only explanation that makes sense to me! So he got the gates open (with Llew's help), and Thorn and I helped get the prisoners out. Llew used Hide from Undead on most of 'em to make sure if anyone was gettin' shot it would be us (guess I'm good for that), but one guy wouldn't fit in the spell so I helped him out. He was a hunter so he wasn't half bad already, so I gave him a little help but didn't insult him by tellin' him how to do his job.
We got everyone out safe, got back to the paladins, and we're turning this thing into a right village. Once Yalnu's dead, I figure we've already rescued enough Gillamooreans to found a whole new Gillamoor. So Forth and Llew had to rest up, and Thorn decided he'd do his photosynthesis thing, so I did some jugglin' and singin' and dancin' to entertain the group while we waited.
Now comes the fun part: Figurin' out how to get back in now that Yalnu knows we're comin' for him...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 10, Played 08-Apr-2018
So, first things first, Llew just walked up to Merri and dumped Aglo's head on the ground in front of Merri and suggested she might want to repent now. Classy. Really inquisitor-like. Merri looked pale and impressed, just like she should. Then, we waited. Since waitin' around doin' nothin' isn't all that fun, Forth, Llew and I decided to wander off and cover up our tracks. Well, Llew was going to cover up our tracks; I was going to watch her back, and she wanted me or Thorn 'cause we're little and don't leave big deep footprints like certain dwarves I know of, and we figured Thorn'd probably be more useful around camp with his magics'n'stuff, rather than me sitting around juggling and singing and dancing and telling stories to get out of doing any real work.
Guess they know me too well by now.
Anyway, Llew did a right good job of covering our tracks, and Forth and Thorn and the paladins did... er... somethingorother to the camp to make it "safer", and I figured Yalnu would be scryin' for me 'cause I'm not good with head spells so I slept a little ways off, but not too far, 'cause that'd be stupid. I took first watch 'cause I figured Yalnu would scry me later in the night and deserved to see me asleep in the middle of nowhere, but apparently nothing happened. In the morning Llew and Forth started lookin' at our little village and started gettin' pretty pissy and I thought Llew was going to cut off Merri's head and it turns out that Merri's still cursed and spreads disease to everyone around her and neglected to mention that little fact when she was beggin' with us to spare her life. Not good, Merri! Llew wanted to kill her right there, but she really did seem like she wanted to be a better person, and it didn't seem like keepin' her quarantined 'til we could pay to get her curse lifted was all that big a deal.
Kinda scary, agreein' with Forth again. Maybe he's usin' some kind of weird dwarfy paladin magic on me to make me more 'greeable, but I doubt it; I'm stubborn that way. So Llew decided that she could live, as long as the paladins'd kill her if she even looked at 'em cross-eyed, and the paladins were OK with that, so I figured it was fair, then Forth went and untied her and told her to honor the deal or he'd track her down and kill her. I was pretty impressed. Gutsy move by Forth. Llew thought he was insane, and I felt better 'cause I agreed with her this time, but I'd said my piece, and I was tired of shut-up time. Funny thing is, they all had the same disease I had. I thought about the house with the family where all of 'em had died of the Shakes and I thought of Merri visitin' 'em all nice-like and I thought that maybe Llew was right more'n I wanted to admit. But I gotta be a good person, 'cause it irritates the Asmodeans no end, and oh, it's what I was taught, too. So Merri got to live that day. I gave the sick folk some more of my antiplague 'cause I figured we weren't going to be around here much longer, and I could always pick up more from Mrs. Mason 'cause she always bought things she knows I like 'cause she's a nice lady like that, and Forth told me I needed to go talk with the poor bleached gnome girl 'cause she was in a bad way.
So I went over to her and I got out my big bag o'gnome goodies and I found a bag with a pretty periwinkle ribbon that was kind o' like the last little bit o' color in her eyes, and I thought that would be a little gesture she'd understand, and I started tellin' her 'bout gnome food and squirrel testicles 'n' such, and offered her the little bag. She apathetically declined, sayin' that she didn't need to eat much any more. I didn't know what to do about that, so I let it go. But Llew, she's a stubborn sort, she when she saw I didn't get anywhere she came up and she very kindly told the girl that she needed to eat, 'cause Llew wouldn't let her starve on her watch. The girl politely took a few nibbles, and Llew started callin' her Cinderella. Really weird name for a gnome. But Llew was talkin' 'bout how she knew about gnomes and that I was a gnome, and Thorn might be a gnome (I got a giggle out o' that one), and Llew was pretty sure Cinderella was a gnome and needed help. Cinderella told us she was beyond help, and that we should be more worried 'bout Thorn. She said she wasn't worried 'bout me, but the way she said it I wasn't sure whether it was an insult or a compliment, so compliment it was!
Llew figured takin' Cinderella back to the graveyard to meet with our hostess (guess she was now 'Grace', 'cause Llew's gotta name everything. Well, I'll call her 'Grace' in my journal, just to make sure we all know who I'm talkin' about, but I'm not calling her 'Grace' to her face! What kind of name is 'Grace' for a nature spirit? What about Bagalalafifigaganawanabalanga? Now THAT'S a name for a nature spirit! And believe it or not, I just made it up here on the spot)! Anyhow, when we got to the graveyard we saw that it was intact, but there were bodies all around it piled in neat, parallel stacks. Made my skin itch! I figured Grace'd be goin' crazy, too, and what better way for a necromancer to kill a fey than linin' up a bunch o' bodies all neat-like and tidy? So I checked 'em out, and sure enough they were piled high with Explosive Runes. I had no trouble settin' 'em off from a distance, bein' clever 'n' all, but when the bodies exploded they were full of MAGGOTS!!!! It rained maggots on my head, on my hair down my shirt, aaaaaah!!! I was about to strip naked and roll around on the grass to get all the little bugs off me when Thorn used his Prestidigitation to get me cleaned up. Yeah, Thorn's really comin' along nicely. I'll make a proper gnome of him yet. Now if he'd burned the maggots off, that'd have been funny.
That reminded me. I glanced Cinderella's way, and giant 'splodin' bodies 'n' me gettin' covered with maggots did nothing. Not even a smirk. I got kinda sad again. Then Grace said somethin' really weird: "I welcome all great nature spirits." She sure as heck wasn't talkin' 'bout me, so what's up with Cinderella? I asked her a question in Sylvan, and she answered natural-like, plain as day.
"I speak Sylvan, too!" Thorn piped up.
Shut up, Thorn. Gotta think.
So as I was gettin' the few clothes I'd taken off back on, and Llew was talkin' to Grace and Cinderella, and Thorn was just standin' there in the sun, I finally noticed it: His hair had turned to leaves! What the fersnuckety trivets, Thorn? Normal people don't have leaves for hair!!! This whole "vine" thing was going WAY too far. If Cinderella was worried 'bout Thorn, I was terrified for him. One of these days I was going to find him lying in a planter pot tellin' everyone how much he loved his jacket. Or some such.
So, conversations done we took a look-see at the Fortress. The front door was still wide open. Forth wanted to use it. I was beginning to wonder about these famed dwarven "tactics". Not wantin' stupid on the menu this morning, I suggested that we at least check our other options: How bad was the cave-in, 'cause none of us had bothered to look at it once it had happened, and I might be able to squeeze in there and open something less obvious than the front gate. Failing that, we could check the roof. We decided to leave the front gate as a last resort. We "snuck" over to the Terrans' house (with Forth, all sneakin' needs quotes) and made it there apparently unseen. We went into the kitchen, down into the basement, got ourselves all ready, lit our lamps, and opened the door.
To a whole lotta nothin'. Or maybe, "nothin' all that bad". There were dead 'sploded roaches all over the floor, and the passage was about knee-deep in rubble, but it was still sound enough that even Llew could walk through without bumpin' her head, and Forth could get through without walkin' sideways. We played a bit o' my favorite game ("Who goes first?") 'cause I always volunteer and Forth never lets me 'cause he's sweet on me, but this time was better 'n most because he insisted that he should go first 'cause "dwarves are good at wriggling". So, I've seen Forth lying on the ground getting beaten 'til a dozen good men would have died. I've seen him grow a dwarf baby out of his belly. I've seen him get drained and uglified and grabbed and greased and all kinds o' stuff. But I have yet to see him wriggle. I gotta admit, I was lookin' forward to it!
Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as fun as I'd been hoping. Forth went right through to the ladder, so Llew, Thorn, and I followed easily enough, though one at a time 'cause we're not dumb. Forth went up the ladder first (brave man!) and the chemicals were still stinky but the door was still unlocked so this time we got through without my lungs catching fire. We went back to the fortress storeroom to cast all our buffs and it still seemed like we were undetected. So far, so good! So we went to the nearest staircase and I snuck up it and peeked around the corner, and there were more than a dozen skeletons just waitin' there to shoot anyone who came up! I popped back down and had to figure out how to tell the rest of the group. The Asmodeans had tried to teach me some interpretive dance so I could be a backup dancer in some Cheliaxian opera or somethin', so I tried to dance, "There are lots of skeletons up there!"
Know what? It's harder than it sounds!
So I tried clown make-up, but guess what? When you use clown make-up, you kinda always end up lookin' like a clown. At least in my experience. So the group was kinda thinkin' I'd lost my mind, what with the dancin' and the clown make-up 'n' all, but fortunately, it's me, so they weren't quite sure yet, so I tried to whisper, "There are tons of skeletons upstairs!"
Yep. Forth went chargin' up like a rhino in heat, and we got to hear the ratatat of dozens of arrows clattering against his armor and shield. Not a lot of 'em stuck in, so I figured he'd be fine 'til the rest of us sensible folk caught up. So, I know Forth can channel 'cause I've seen him do it, but he just waded in like a battle-frenzied orc (I'm just sayin' that 'cause I know it'll tweak him if he ever reads it) and started whomping on things and getting whomped on. Thorn Hasted us and Llew ran in, so I figured I'd follow with my little club. All I'm gonna say 'bout the fight is that by the end of it I just threw away that stupid useless club. 'Bout all it didn't do was poke me in the eye or hit any of my friends. Otherwise wood never touched bone, and I just kind of wandered around a battlefield with 16 enemies with my pants down (metaphorically speakin', of course. I'd never do that. Unless it was funny at the time). So while I was throwin' away my club and makin' sure my pants were still on, we heard a woman orderin' still more skeletons to stop us. Just like a necromancer. "Well, the first 100 didn't work. I'm SURE this 100 will work!"
For smart folk, they really aren't all that smart.
So we ran down the hall and wiped out the second group of skeletons. Forth ran ahead o' me again, so I was stuck lookin' at his hairy, bleedin' backside. I tried to use the wand to heal him, and the wand got all mad at me for tryin' to poke it in there and made it real clear it wasn't gonna work for me no more. So, havin' nothin' better to do, I tried the old wand I'd buried away when Forth gave me the new one. It didn't like Forth's backside neither. So Thorn burned most of 'em, Llew and Forth wiped out the rest, and I got a couple o' wands mad at me. Normal day. Once the skellies were wiped out we walked over to the door we suspected o' having the woman in it and I listened. Someone inside was breathin', which was kinda new, so we all lined up as I unlocked the door, and...
...whoops! Who put that there? A great pit opened beneath the four of us as some huge purply demon-critter blocked the door. Llew and Thorn went tumbling into the pit but I used my magic to give 'em a soft landing. Yes. MY magic! I was feelin' pretty proud o' myself right then! So Forth did his Forth thing and started tryin' to fight the purple guy, and I pulled out my rope and grapplin' hook 'cause I like bein' prepared and I knew Llew would 'preciate it and wouldn't yell at me nor tell me that I should be carryin' some kind of stone staircase in my pack 'cause ladders are Evil Incarnate and whatnot. Anyhow, I tossed the rope down to Llew and Thorn, figuring they'd be able to climb up on their own, when some creepy lady came walkin' out from behind the Great Grape Ape and suggested that it was time for me to leave. I figured it was a spell, and I'm normally not good with spells, but I really don't like bein' told what to do so I told her where to shove it and dropped a smoke pellet on her to slow her down a bit 'til everyone else could get out o' the pit. I figured she had to be Delvine. So Llew and Thorn started climbin' out, Forth continued his battle with destiny (I'm running out o' metaphors, here, Forth! Hurry it up!), and creepy lady came out o' the smoke and hit me with a lightning bolt. No problem, right? Wrong! I zigged when I should've zagged and took it full in the face, and it hurt. Worse'n droppin' alchemist's fire down my pants that one time! But that's neither here nor there. I was suddenly all sparkly and burnt and smoky and if my hair hadn't been standin' up before it would've been standin' up now, and it was really time to not be standing there letting her shoot at us any more.
Forth conveniently popped his opponent, so I jumped across the pit and up to the lady to introduce myself. Llew tried to follow but she's not a great jumper, I softened her fall again, Thorn started followin' me, and another lighting bolt, another zig when I should've zagged, and everything went black.
I've been bleedin' to death before; it's kind o' part of the job. But this time was different. It went on and on and on, and I was floating, and I started seeing greenery, and wasp wings, and the smell o' undergrowth and flowers and fire, and I knew I was goin' to see the Lady. 'Cept there was a flash o' light, and I was awake and bloody on the ground and was all that my blood and how could I have bled so much after gettin' burnt so hard and Llew on the ground in front o' caster lady an' both of them were all beaten and bloody and I could tell Llew'd just woke up too and Forth was in the doorway and Thorn was just lyin' there in another giant pool o' blood but he wasn't movin' none and I'd o' been worried 'cept I knew Llew and Forth wouldn't o' let anything happen to the little guy while I was out, so he was probably just a bit worse off than I'd been, 'cause I was still a lot woozy. But ladies to stab and all. I popped up and distracted her so Llew and Forth could get in there, but the little minx Dimension Doored away before we could take her out.
We moved over to Thorn, but it was too late. Our little weird plant guy was gone. I started sobbing. I'm not ashamed. I thought of everything I'd been doin' for him, and how much he'd been improvin', and all the livin' he had left to do, and I'd failed him. I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't fast enough. I had to get better. 'Cause Thorn deserved better. Llew deserved better. Forth deserved better.
Kronk was just a bit ol' accident (and zombie dogs). Thorn was on my head. If I'd just dodged her lightning better, he'd be alive right now. I sobbed some more. 'Cause it felt good and it felt right, and plants need water to grow.
Llew and Forth were spent. They had nothing left. I wanted to find that b+~$~ and kill her. And I'm not one of swear lightly. But I needed her dead. My wand agreed, and worked on Llew. Forth didn't want to leave the little guy alone in such a horrible place, so Llew sanctified him and Forth wrapped him up in a frail little bundle and strapped him on. We healed up, searched the room for anything useful, and went to the next door, figurin' on some murder. We spread out smarter this time, with Llew on one side and Forth on the other, and I opened the door. There was an evil male cackle and a wall of ice sprung up 'tween Llew and us, and we heard fightin', so Forth broke down the wall. Delvine! I stepped through the hole and it hurt like gettin' dressed in the orphanage on a winter mornin' when we hadn't earned our coal, but I didn't care. Delvine had to die. Llew 'n' I missed, but Forth dropped her. The guy (Yalnu, I figured) cast somethin', but I was busy. I shanked Delvine right then and there, makin' sure she was goin' to the Hell she deserved. Llew yelled at me 'bout wastin' time with a caster up and about, but it didn't matter. That was for Thorn, you b$%+$! And I'm not done with you! If I can be sure you'll spend eternity as nothin' but devil food, I'll do it. You deserve no less.
Llew went in after Yalnu, but he just stepped back and raised Delvine as an undead. Forth smashed her back into oblivion. Thanks, Forth! Now nobody's bringin' her back. I thanked Yalnu, too, and asked him to do it again, but he said it didn't work that way. Weak necromancer!
So I ran up to shank him and his hair grabbed me! Gods, what is it about men with weird tentacly things who want to grab me! So there I am, stuck in his hair, and he walks through the wall to get away from Llew and Forth! Trouble is, that tactic only works when you don't have a yelly, squirmy gnome in your hair! So I yelled where I was, and Forth came a-rumblin' round the corner and kinda threw his hammer in the general direction o' Yalnu, but I didn't think it was the time nor the place for that kind o' tomfoolery, but I wasn't about to criticize him, seein' as to how I was ridin' around in Yalnu's hair. 'Bout that... I squirmed loose as Llew yelled that she was comin'. It was kinda funny that she was so much slower than Forth, but I figured I needed to set up a welcome for her so I danced around Yalnu and... oops! His hair caught me again!
Back through the wall we went, but this time Llew was waitin' for him! Whack! Nice one, Llew! He was so discombobulated he didn't know what to do! So I figured with Llew right next to him I really didn't mind bein' in his hair, so I pulled out some alchemist's fire to give him a nice shampoo, and he decided he didn't like me any more and dropped me, but still couldn't get a spell off 'cause Llew was distractin' him and hittin' him and generally bein' as mean to him as I wanted to be but was too busy getting grabbed 'n' dropped 'n' such. So I stood up and he grabbed me again and dropped me again (getting tired of lyin' on the ground, Yalnu!) and ran off to get off a spell. I hit him with the alchemist's fire for his troubles, but it didn't bother him none and he zapped Llew pretty bad. Useless! I have to get better or my friends are all going to die! Llew didn't take a likin' to bein' zapped so hard so she cut him real bad and he dropped.
I knew he had to die, but it wasn't personal with him, so I stood back. Llew let her feelings be known by pullin' out her mornin' star and just pulpin' his head 'til it looked like a pumpkin found by a bunch o' gnome teenagers with plenty o' firepower on All Saints' Day, and she kept goin' 'til she heard Forth finally comin' round, then she hit him another couple o' times, then she told Forth he'd had an accident.
I really, really like Llew.
So we looted the casters' bodies and got some nice loot, including Yalnu's kind o' bloody headband that Llew said would increase someone's sneakiness. We didn't even look at each other twice. We just handed it to Forth. I looked at the blood 'n' brains 'n' stuff all stickin' to the circlet, and I almost called over to Thorn to clean it up for Forth, then I just started cryin' again. There was lots o' cash loot we could get, but even better were Yalnu's personal records: He'd kept track of everything he'd ever done for the Jeggares, with a plan for blackmailing Lady Jeggare at his convenience. That made me like Yalnu a teensy little bit better. I still smiled when Llew sanctified his sorry corpse. We got his spellbook. I can't decide whether I'm going to try to read it or we're going to sell it. I'm pretty sure it's full of evil spells, and we should just turn it over to a temple of Pharasma to destroy it, but I'm hopin' they can give me a beginner's book or somethin' so I can start learnin'. With Thorn gone, we're gonna need some kind o' arcane caster in the party, and I'm a pretty smart girl. There was another book, but it was in code, and code makes my head hurt, and neither Forth nor Llew could figure it out, neither. The thing that crushed me. The thing that made me feel even worse than Thorn. Was all the pretty, pretty picture of gnome girls in vivid colors 'cross the back o' the room. When I thought of the Hell Delvine deserved, Remmit's needed to be a thousand times worse. A hundred thousand. Doing that to his own kind? I can't imagine anything more abominable.
We figured the loot could wait 'til we were done cleanin' the town, and now that we'd killed all the undead in the fortress it was just killin' roaches and makin' sure nothin' came back. We went back to the graveyard to break the bad news to Grace 'n' Cinderella. Grace was really upset Thorn was dead, and it was kind o' hurtful 'cause I'm not sure she would o' worried about me that much, but Cinderella hurt more. The last o' the color had drained from her eyes, and she'd become a bleachling. Yeah, I know the lore. I'm supposed to respect my elders and my shamans 'n' such, but a little part of my soul died when I saw her. In one day I'd lost both her and Thorn, and seen how many more gnomes died to Remmit. But Thorn died 'cause I wasn't strong enough, and Cinderella was lost 'cause I wasn't smart enough, and the other girls died 'cause I hadn't gotten here quick enough. I need to be stronger. I need to be smarter. I need to make sure none o' my friends die on my watch again! I need to be able to kill men like Remmit before they can do that do some poor girls! So Cinderella was there, but she wasn't there, and she said she could decode the book and I knew she could 'cause bleachling, but she still creeped me out and made me sad at the same time. If I could o' given her half my color I would've; 'cause I got plenty to spare. But there was no hope for her now. She'd be powerful and worshipped and wise... and would never laugh again. I'd never have it for all the power in the world.
Grace helped us prepare a grave for Thorn and we buried him as the hero he was: The gnome who'd returned to Gillamoor and died to free his city. 'Cause his city was free now, and he'd done it. I heaped all the manure 'round the grave 'cause I figured Thorn'd like that kind of thing, and I didn't know what to do with the urn so I left it there, too. Maybe Grace or Thorn's ghost can grow flowers in it or something. So even Cinderella seemed disturbed as we were burying Thorn. CAN she feel anything? CAN I save her?
For 3 days we hunted roaches, and checked in with the paladins on Merri and the halflings, and checked in with Cinderella on the decipherin', and at the end of it all we learned we'd already waited too long: The book was a record of the dealings between the Mother of Wights and Yalnu. And their plan was to double-cross the Jeggares: The Jeggares knew about the plague canisters they were going to release in Eledir to create chaos and undead. What they didn't know was that their anti-plague canisters were just more plague, so when they mobilized their army in Lagos and sprayed 'em there would be TWO undead armies to wreak devastation across Isger.
The last note was the worst: "Adventurers are here! Use the canister NOW!"
And the last carriage we'd seen leaving days ago was the last of the canisters.
We were suddenly in a hurry.
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Once Llew was out of the pit you had the classic "caster in a corner versus two fighters" (one of whom was a paladin Smiting her) and she was darned lucky to get off her Concentration check to Dimension Door to safety... with virtually 0 spells left.
So it was close, but she ran out of spells and space before we ran out of bodies to throw at her.
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 11, Played 22-Apr-2018
Our first order of business was to let the pallies know we wouldn't be accompanyin' 'em back to Haugin's Ear. I could tell they were disappointed, but they did have halfling slave girls, and some cursed diseased cleric of Urgathoa, but aren't they immune to diseases? Or are those kinds of diseases different? Nope. Never mind. Don't wanna know! So we apprised 'em of the situation, gave 'em whatever evidence we didn't think we'd need in Logas (which was honestly kinda just our word that the Jeggares were Bad News, but they believed us. Paladins!), and Forth hooked up Horse to the cart (yes, he named his horse Horse. I don't know whether it's 'cause he's a dwarf, or 'cause he's a paladin, but really?), I got on Starvey, and we set off.
The pain set in immediately. No little guy behind me, tryin' to put his hands in all kinds of inappropriate places "to keep his balance" or whatnot. I almost asked one of my friends to cop a feel for me, but getting felt up by Forth would be like getting pummeled in the chest by a ham, and as for Llew, well, I look to the Lusty Lady for guidance, but I don't swing that way all that much, thank you very much! So I rode, nobody grabbin' any inappropriate parts, and it was kinda lonely, so I sang a bit, and for once I didn't get told to shut up, even though I'm not very good, so we started off down the road. It was the usual: Skeletons jumpin' out o' bushes to whack at us; zombies shufflin' about lookin' to whomp us, and other nonsense that's just kind of, "The way things are," these days. We went slower'n usual, 'cause we of course had to kill 'em all (Forth to make the roads safe, Llew in the name of Pharasma, and me 'cause it felt good to kill anything remotely related to Thorn's death), and then say words over the bodies (I'm no scholar, but when a lady of Pharasma says she needs to say words, I figure I'd better listen), and burn 'em. Slow going, but kinda satisfying in its own twisted way.
A little before noon (I knew 'cause my tummy was rumblin'), we heard a loud BOOM! that didn't sound like any zombies or skeletons, unless there was some kind of 'flatulence zombie' we hadn't encountered yet that Llew hadn't told me about, or someone other than Yalnu ('cause he's DEAD, heh heh) set up another set of zombies with more maggots and Explosive Runes (*shudder*. Oh WHY did I have to remember that?), or somethin'. We raced ahead towards the commotion, 'cause we're not very smart, and Llew pointed out that there was ONE guy, kinda human-lookin', gettin' mobbed by around a dozen zombies! We figured what the heck? We'd help! After all, it was zombie killin', and we're gettin' good at THAT. So not bein' stupid, I just fell off Starvey 'cause I knew I could land on my feet better from a fall than from all those straps 'n' such that they wrap around ponies tellin' you that it'll make it easier for you to ride but I suspect they're really there 'cause the pony owner has some kind of weird B&D pony fetish and...
...anyhoo, the fight!
I ran up yellin' like an idiot, figurin' Forth could heal me up if I needed it, and sure enough, rumblin' up behind me like a constipated elephant came my Devoted Protector, or maybe just Forth. Llew was hot on his heels. So yeah, the zombies weren't too bright so a bunch of 'em broke off from beatin' the new guy to death to come whack on us. I got hit a couple of times, and it threw off my rhythm a bit 'cause I couldn't hit worth beans. Llew was havin' trouble too, but I hadn't seen what she'd had for breakfast so I didn't rightly know whether it was beans or not. But the guy in the crowd o' zombies figured we looked less likely to eat him and came runnin' our way, lobbin' a fireball behind him to take out some of his pursuers. So, I don't know who or what he is, but I kinda like him!
Anyway, it was just zombies, and we've come a long way since we lost Kronk (I kinda forget what he looked like, poor guy! I wonder if Llew'd be mad if I dug him up? Or did we burn him? I forget...), so we wiped 'em out, then Forth channeled for us to heal us up. I was still a little hurt, so I talked to Ornery (I figure that's my first wand) real nice-like, and Ornery healed me the rest of the way. See? Bein' nice! It's helpful!
So, the talk with the new guy was... weird. Neither Llew nor Forth had much to say, so it was up to me. I introduced myself usin' my short name, and he said he was Alembic. He looked human, and I didn't ask, but it was clear he was some kind of spell-slinger. I could tell from the fireball and from him gettin' hit a bunch of times by some weakling zombies. He'd heard about some messages gettin' received from Gillamoor (hackles raised!), so he'd gotten a party together to investigate. Well, when things got ugly he'd cast Haste on the party and they'd used that opportunity to be rid of him and the zombies. So, cowardly guy, knows about Yalnu's communications, his whole party abandoned him... suspicious much? So I didn't want to say much, but I wanted to throw him a bone, so I told him the town was now in the hands of the paladins and their slave girls, and he started askin' about that and I started hypothesizin' and all of a sudden it was near shut up time and what did I do?
So with me all shut up and Llew and Forth not wantin' to talk, I just invited him to accompany us back to Logas (I was only almost on "shut up time"), and he thought that was a good idea, so into the cart with Llew and Forth he went, and I hopped back up on Starvey (he hadn't run away! Good pony!) and we continued on our way. Forth asked him whether he'd seen any carriages, and he said he'd seen the regular carriage that went between the Axe and Flagon (an inn about 4 days from us) and Logas, but no others. It wasn't hard to figure that the wagon didn't actually stop goin' at the Axe and Flagon, and none on either side would be the wiser.
We looked around for a nice camp for the night. Not in the trees (*shudder*), but not in the open, either. We finally found a nice area that had grass a little over my head (not like the view around me was all that great anyway, what with always being told to be behind Forth), a few bushes, and Llew did a bang-up job of camouflaging the camp; if I hadn't known it was there, I would've missed it. We had a cold dinner, but my little bag had a kind of yellow-ish butterscotchy ribbon and it had some dried elk and plums, and I'm sure those are peanuts and not testicles, and some white stuff that I don't know what it is but it's tasty, and some butterscotch candy 'cause the person who makes these lunches is amazing, so I was happy and went to bed, knowing full well I wasn't going to get a full night's sleep, 'cause that doesn't happen around here.
Sure enough, Llew woke me at some godawful hour to deal with some other godawful thing. This time it was "skavelings", giant undead ghoul bats like the one we fought in the attic. But there were 3 of 'em this time! So I hunkered down and hid and got out my bow, but it turns out that at night, it's really hard to see black bats against a black sky, so for a bit I was just sittin' on my butt bein' stupid while Llew went and woke up Alembic (apparently he sleeps really soundly) and Forth got bit like he does. Trouble is, the bats went for the horses as well! No! Starvey!
I was goin' to go do something but a bat did some screech thingy and I was kind o' out o' it for a bit, and when I came to Horse was dead, Starvey was down, a big Fireball from Alembic had smoked a couple of the bats, and someone had hit the other pretty well. So I came out to try to help, got bit, and couldn't move.
This was not a good fight for me.
So Llew cured me right up, but as a result she got bit and couldn't move, and Alembic got bit and couldn't move, so there, in the middle of the whole thing, was just poor beatin' boy Forth, gettin' beaten on, but givin' as good as he got. I tried to use Llew's own scroll to get her out of it, but it was my first scroll and I haven't had much practice so I was just kind o' happy the whole thing didn't just blow up in flames in my face or turn me into a little mini undead bat or somethin'. Just as I was gettin' worried that Forth was going to drop, all three skavelings came into range at once and Forth channeled, dropping two of 'em. The third one was just mop-up for him, but the damage was done. Horse was dead-dead. Starvey was alive, but had Ghoul Fever. Forth laid hands on him and cured him of the disease and woke him up! Yay, Poxy! Llew and Alembic came to a little bit later, and Llew had some words for the skavelings, but I don't think they're in any of the Pharasman holy books, unless she does erotic stories too, and even then those were some bad words, so I think Llew was just kind o' mad and wasn't puttin' the skavelings to rest or anythin'. We burned 'em 'cause yay!, then healed up what we could, Neither Ornery nor Ugly (my other wand) wanted to heal me, so I had to go to bed a bit hurt, but I figured a little rest'd help, then Forth or Llew could set me right in the morning.
So the next day was kind of mean to Poxy, but I figured he was gettin' used to the abuse, so I gave him some oats to cheer him up. Since Horse (Horse? Horse? Seriously, Forth! I should just start calling you "Dwarf"!) had gone to that great glue kitchen in the sky, Poxy had to pull the cart. Except the cart was made for a big ol' draft horse, and Poxy was gettin' kind of used to a life of luxury carryin' just me (I miss Thorn! *sniff*) around. And in spite of all the halfling cake, I don't weigh nearly as much as a cart. But Llew and Forth are good people, and they took pity on ol' Poxy and chose to walk. It's not like Poxy was goin' to go much faster pullin' that big ol' cart and Mr. "I wander in zombie-infested wildernesses and talk about communications from Gillamoor but I ain't Evil" Alembic and all our loot. So we moved on, and started moving past the Chitterwood, and all our hairs started standin' on end 'n' such and we knew there was some kind o' Trouble with a big ol' capital T somewhere nearby. Llew took a sniff and did whatever that inquisitor stuff is, 'cause I don't understand it but it's really pretty useful and I wish I did, but anyhow, she said we were travellin' through some "guardian undead's" territory, and most likely he was going to pop up and challenge us at some point, 'cause that's what those kinds o' undead do. Not even a, "What's the password?" or "Who do you worship?" or "What color is your underwear?" (Green today, thanks!), but just pop up and attack. Kind o' not so much "guardian" as "big fat jerkhole". But that's neither here nor there. We had places to be, and jerkhole was goin' to pop up and be pesky, so we all got ready to be pesky right back.
Fortunately, he wasn't so "poppy" as "lazy". He was just sittin' there, this big black-armored dude with no head, on a big black horse that had a head. Well, I liked the asymmetry. Would've been annoying if the horse'd been headless, too. But then I guess they'd've just rode round, runnin' into trees 'n' such and not bein' all that menacin'. So I guess at least one of 'em had to see, or it'd just be kind of sad and pathetic and funny all at the same time. Anyhoo, they were on a little bridge over a little gully and I kind o' expected a goat to come poppin' up and knock him off the bridge or somethin', but no such luck. Even worse, some idiot had planted trees just so's the bridge would be in the shade so the undead buffoon wasn't sittin' there sufferin' in the sunlight. Sorry. Can't get the image of a headless horseman in black armor on a headless horse in black armor stumblin' about in the hot sun and tumblin' down a ravine and gettin' beaten up by a goat, but I guess that's just me.
So once we could see 'im, Llew identified him as a "Dulland, reaper of souls". "Dullard" would've been better, but I didn't get to name him. She said that he had a fear aura (might as well put on my running sandals now. *sigh*), his horse was really nasty, and he'd hit really hard and use cold. Didn't matter much to me; Forth and Llew'd be fighting him and I'd be jogging down the road past ol' Poxy. I checked and sure enough, Poxy was just sittin' there, lookin' at the Dullard, and thinkin', "I'm gonna get oats today, I am!"
So Llew put up a Circle of Protection from Evil to help me, 'cause she's nice 'n' all, but the Dullard came runnin' up to us and we got in his aura and the circle didn't help at all and I nearly wet myself. But I DIDN'T run away! I must be gettin' better at this magic fear stuff! Hooray for me! Even better, the horse couldn't come into the circle at all 'cause it was summoned, so the Dullard had to dismount and take on Forth one-on-one. Well, two-on-one 'cause Llew was there. I'm not counting myself 'cause I didn't do much of anything. And Alembic? I don't know that he even bothered gettin' out of the cart. But as a caster, I figure that's the safest place for him. At least 'til Poxy spooks and runs off tumbling into the ravine, Alembic and cart and all.
Man, we gotta move away from that ravine!
Anyhoo, Llew had to keep back to keep the horse at bay, so it was just Forth and the Dullard beatin' on each other, which is kind of Forth's favorite thing to do, so I don't think he minded. He bled a lot, but it's what he does. And he beat the Dullard to death, 'cause it's what he does. As soon as the Dullard was dead, his horse went away, too, so Llew could actually get close in and get a look at him. He had some old markings on his armor that Llew said meant he was some high-ranking military muckety-muck from Lagos who probably fought in the original Goblinblood wars, and had probably been here since then. No fair! Why didn't he attack the carriage full of undead, then? Undead privilege? I object!
So we tried to loot him, but his gear was all crappy 'n' stuff. Llew said he made it magic himself, and it lost all its magic when he died. Jerk! So we burned him. 'Cause it's what we do.
Unfortunately, we still felt like we were bein' watched. We asked ol' untrustworthy Alembic whether he'd heard anything, and the shifty-eyed fellow said it hadn't been like that when he came down. So there was somethin' sittin' there in the Chitterwood, just waitin' 'til nightfall to attack us.
Well, that wouldn't do, so we went to the woods to look for it. Fortunately, without Thorn, no one wanted to go too far into the woods, so we just poked around the edge a bit. Llew said she heard somethin' invisible (so how do you know it's invisible if you only hear it? I don't know, but I've learned to trust Llew on these things) and she found some nibbled-on critters and told us we were bein' stalked by a ghakki or two.
So, havin' no idea what on Golarion she was talkin' about, I asked. A ghakki's apparently some long-necked undead critter born o' greed. They spend their existences tryin' to find the one thing that they can eat that'll make 'em normal again. So they eat anything pretty: Flowers, holy water, and whatnot. Plus corpses, 'cause they're undead and undead gotta eat corpses just to prove they're bad. But they're pretty nasty, blood-draining fighters, so you want to trick 'em into eatin' things so you can beat on 'em while they do it. Easy!
We rode on for the rest of the day (yes, Poxy got his oats) and set up camp. I used my colored kerchiefs, holy water, and alchemist's fire to make a veritable smorgasbord for our guests. Llew and Forth thought I was bein' silly puttin' alchemist's fire out for 'em, but I was out o' glue. Everybody else was too nervous to go to bed, what with invisible, blood-drainin' monsters trackin' us through the woods. I figured it was just like any other evenin' in this crazy place so off to bed I went. I was probably snorin' up a storm when the first one showed up and drank down some o' my holy water! Kind o' cheatin', that they don't get hurt by doin' it, but I figure I had plenty and it kept it from bitin' one o' the people I care about, so well worth the price.
So Forth and Llew woke me up, and I tried to use my wand of Shield on myself, but I guess it heard me bad-mouthin' the other wands and wasn't feelin' cooperative, or maybe it just wanted more sleep, but it didn't want to wake up. So Alembic shot a Glitterdust in the thing's general direction, and me, Llew, and Forth headed in to wreak some mayhem on it. Llew hit it really well, and we figured it was goin' to be a pretty relaxin' fight, 'cept there was more than one of them!
Another one showed up and grabbed Alembic and started dragging him off! So, I don't know where all these sorcerer-types study, but they really gotta open up a new class; either on strugglin' better or on providin' a flank while grabbed, 'cause Alembic wasn't of much use to us gettin' all bitten and drained and bloody and dragged off, and we had another ghakki to deal with, thank you very much!
But we had to save the new guy, and Llew seemed to be just fine carvin' up the first one, so we ran over to help Alembic when there was another sickening crunch of teeth and Alembic stopped moving. Oh, no. Not again. Had I failed again? I mean, I didn't like the guy, but hangin' out with us was provin' to be stupid-deadly! Just as we thought he was a goner, his amulet flashed and dissolved to dust and we thought we saw some life in him, but then the other ghakki ran up and bit him and he went limp again. So we did what we did, stabbin' em and smashing 'em and giving 'em what-for, and we killed 'em and burned their bodies. And Alembic was alive! Hooray! Forth channeled to heal us up a bit, and we went back to bed.
Kind of. I'm not proud of this, but seein' us nearly lose another companion really affected me. So after my watch, I figured it would be OK if I helped myself to a little of the brandy we had in the cart, just to calm my nerves, y'know. Well, "a little" turned into "a lot" turned into "I'm glad there was nobody my size there 'cause I might have woken up in someone else's bed covered in vomit and burn marks". Well, THAT didn't happen, but the whole next morning was all kind of a daze to me, and I tried not to talk much for fear of throwin' up.
We kept moseyin' up the road, which was waverin' something awful that mornin', and I thought I saw a mirage ahead of me: A big ol', colorful traveling wagon, just rollin' along the road towards Logas. And little Poxy, champ that he was, was gainin' on them! You go, Poxy!
So Forth and Llew got all suspicious-like, and we pulled up alongside the wagon (which was quite a feat for me, I might add, steerin' in my condition), and there was a human woman driving the wagon who looked like she'd been beat up nearly as many times as Forth. I figure she was probably a paladin or somethin', but Forth and Llew started talking to her (I figured it'd be rude to throw up on her horse's feet), and she introduced herself as Lorna, a warrior woman. She was drivin' Sylvie, a bard, around, 'cause Sylvie had "partied a little too hard" the night before and was sleeping it off in the back. I managed not to ask to join her back there. I have my pride. But a cushy ride in a dark covered wagon sounded right about my speed right then.
So Lorna claimed that Slyvie was a bard who was investigatin' undead, kind o' like Llew but not inquisitin', just investigatin', and she'd hired Lorna and they'd come down with a bunch o' healing potions, "investigate" a bunch o' undead (I figure that means killin' 'em and pokin' at their bodies with knives 'stead of burnin' 'em, which doesn't sound fun to me, but whatever floats these girls' boats), and then head up once they were low on healing potions. Sounded expensive! Getting 'em back to Lagos might be profitable!
Anyhoo, Forth and Llew bought Lorna's story, and suggested that the road was dangerous so we should travel together. At that point I *almost* asked to climb in with Sylvie in the back, but pride won over comfort... THIS time. Also, you gotta wonder about a girl who "parties hard" with herself and gets too drunk to wake up by noon. Yeah, I was one to talk at that point, but I was drinkin' to forget lost friends, not to "party" with myself. I'd heard o' such women from my Calistrian friends, and figured I was probably better off not joinin' her back there.
So as we rode along, Slyvie eventually woke up, popped her head out, and wanted coffee and stories. Sounded like every bard I'd ever met! I gotta admit, hearing her groanin' and moanin' and beggin' for coffee and stories just made me feel worlds better; no undead could ever portray a bard so well! So, I was in no shape to tell stories, but Llew opened up her big ol' book of undead and started sharin' what they were, how they were created, what they did, and how to kill 'em, 'cause that's what's important to an inquisitor. Sylvie was rapt with all that stuff, so Llew kept talkin' and I kept noddin' off on Poxy and it was kind of a pleasant day, if you didn't think about the dead friends and the hangover and the hordes of undead tryin' to kill us 'n' stuff.
Late in the afternoon, Llew suddenly stopped the whole darned caravan. She'd spotted somethin', lurkin' in a copse of trees up ahead, lookin' to ambush us. Figurin' it was probably better to NOT be on Poxy, I dismounted and we all looked around a little. Hidden a little off the road a ways away from our would-be ambusher was summoning circle. Forth and Llew were none too pleased about that. It probably meant someone had summoned some kind of extraplanar assassin to do away with us. But how were they so sure it was after US? Who knows what Sylvie's been doing to make all that money for healing potions, hmm?
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Another close one . . . .
So who's Alembic? Or does this one not last long enough to recount?
We've reached the final party, though there are quite a few resurrections to come:Trig: Female gnome rogue, played by NobodysHome
Llewelyn (aka Llew): Female half-elf inquisitor of Pharasma, played by GothBard
Forthrecht (aka Forth): Male dwarf paladin of Torag, played by Lara Croft guy
Alembic: Male human arcane bloodline sorcerer, played by Lara Croft guy
The fight with the skavelings wasn't as close as it sounded simply because we had enough hit points and AC to survive being beaten on while paralyzed. It was just the astonishing series of bad saves that left most of us paralyzed so much. Yes, if Forth had failed his save and they'd started coup de gracing us it could have been a wipe, but even when he and Trig were the only ones moving it didn't seem that bad. Unlike the previous session...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 12, Played 29-Apr-2018
So, from what we could tell, our ambusher wasn't the brightest torch in the forest, or however it goes, 'cause while we were standin' there, lookin' around and findin' his summonin' circle and talking 'bout what to do about him, he just hid there behind his tree, like he still thought we couldn't see him, or he was takin' and extra-long leak or something. So we figured we'd start really testing his patience (or stupidity) by castin' all our buffs, right there in the open in front of him. Well, Shieldy (my wand) didn't think this was all that fair, so he wouldn't go along with me and wouldn't shield me. I figured he was just mad 'cause I was mean to Ornery 'n' Ugly, or maybe he's like Forth and likes fair play or somethin', but after three tries I just shrugged 'n' gave up. When a wand wants to be stubborn, even threatenin' to put 'em in a fire doesn't help. So durin' this time Llew was puttin' up her Magic Circle Against Evil and Forth was gettin' his beard all riled up and angry and Alembic said he'd buff "all the fighters" then put somethin' on Llew and Forth and Lorna but not me.
I swear he's gonna get a lizard in his bedroll tonight! If I can find one, and catch it without having to go into the woods, and without squishing it when I grab it, 'cause when you squish 'em by accident their guts get all over your hands and it's kind of smelly and hard to wash off and then it makes your food taste all bitter 'cause you've got lizard guts on your hands and...
Anyhoo, we started headin' for our assassin guy and Alembic cast somethin' at him that made him all glowy and he started pawin' at his eyes like he couldn't see any more and he kind of looked like a big ol' stick o' beef jerky, 'cept he was shaped like a human and his eyes were all glowy red and smoky. I didn't know whether Alembic did that or they were normally that way, but beef jerky with eyes is kind of like celery with testicles; you... OK, don't know where I was goin' there. So, anyhoo, Beef Jerky just kept hidin' behind the tree like he was just the most content undead abomination in the universe, and I figured if he liked trees that much he had to be bad (sorry, Thorn!), and Alembic Hasted us so we could run up at him faster and he finally figured out that we were after him so he ran back and hid behind another tree, and then another one. It was kind o' sad, really.
Llew finally got a good look at him and told us he was a "bodak". Kind o' catchy, but I like "Beef Jerky Boy" better, so I'm stickin' with it. So Beef Jerky Boy was an "extraplanar" undead, which made him even more evil than most undead, apparently, 'cause he was exposed to "profound, supernatural evil". So kind o' like Forth's beard, only bad. He had some kind o' gaze attack where if he looked at you your very life essence would be drained, but I figured there wasn't much I could do about that; if you gotta stab somebody, they're probably gonna get a peek at you. But I appreciated Llew's advice, so when we all gathered on the other side of the tree, I did a bit of hiding.
Trouble was, Llew decided to cover her eyes to protect herself from it (she could have told me that part) and it came 'round the tree lookin' to whomp on her and ran right into me, so it looked at me and sure enough, it felt like my very soul was gettin' ripped out o' my chest and into those burny smokin' eyes. And not "smokin'" in a good way. Just bad and ouchy. So I stabbed him with Coldy like Llew said I should, and it cut him real good and made me smile in spite of havin' some of my soul ripped out. I really hoped it'd grow back. I didn't feel right.
So Alembic stayed back and shot it with Magic Missiles from out of its reach, and it tried to gaze at Forth but he's too ornery to hold much trek with that, and Lorna didn't mind none either, so apparently I was the only one gettin' affected, but it finally dropped and Alembic said something pretty disparagin' 'bout gnomes, like something 'bout he didn't expect much out o' me, then Llew talked about the "big" cooperation, and it became pretty clear they were just decidin' to be jerks for whatever reason, so I pouted for a while. Nobody seemed to notice, so I pouted for a while longer. They still didn't notice. I started plannin' my revenge.
Lorna said we'd have one more night in the "great" outdoors (so far on this entire journey, I hadn't seen ONE THING that I'd consider "great" about the outdoors. Zombie cockroaches. Regular zombies. Big undead bats. Sleepin' outdoors was just one big yell o', "Hey, all you undead! We're a great big smorgasbord!" to everything nasty in the neighborhood. But that's neither here nor there). After that, we'd be at an INN! An INN with baths! I could practically feel my skin softening up and glowing at the mere thought of washing however many days o' undead corpse juice off my body! I kinda forgot all about the revenge stuff, 'cause BATHS!
So everyone tried to make like what we did in camp was gonna make any kind o' difference at all in us gettin' attacked and beaten on and diseased and cursed and whatnot, 'cause they like to pretend it isn't goin' to happen, when we all know it is but we're puttin' on a show. Speaking of putting on a show, as the sun started setting Sylvie finally put in an appearance, bottle of wine in hand, just so's she wouldn't be drinkin' alone. I know better than to drink when some murderous undead abomination's going to disturb my beauty sleep and try to do some new and horrible thing to me every single night o' my life in these "great" outdoors o' Lorna's, so the moment Sylvie's eyes were turned away I poured the whole glass up my sleeve. It'd be sticky, and I'd smell like a days-old town drunk, but it was probably better'n what I smelled like at the moment anyway, and it'd be impolite not to at least pretend to drink a little so Sylvie wouldn't feel as guilty 'bout killin' her liver. Once she was good 'n' tipsy, she started dancin', and since no one else was willin' (c'mon, Alembic! You're a jerk, but at least you're a human male! I don't know that cute-drunk-Sylvie was lookin' to dance with a gnome girl that night, but whatever) I wasn't going to leave her hanging so I got up and danced with her. And besides, she was the only one who hadn't been mean to me all day. Yeah, she was sleeping off a drunk at the time, but still, "Not mean" is "Not mean". Speaking of which, while we were dancing, the rest of the group doled out watches and decided to stick me on third watch alone. Suited me fine. I was just in that kind of mood. Besides, Sylvie wasn't a half-bad dancer. I mean, I'm not that kind of girl, but the way her hips were moving, I just started starin' at 'em, watching 'em gyrate, almost hypnotic-like...
...so you can't really blame me when I didn't notice that the other half of her body went off and flew up into the night cackling at all of us. I mean... hips!
So it turned out Sylvie had decided to be our undead abomination of the night. Poor girl! But better her than me! Anyhoo, Llew shook me awake, and I saw Lorna off sleeping in the middle of the camp, and Forth and Alembic and Llew all armed, and I figured I'd better pop out of sight 'til I could figure out what Sylvie could do. Llew, inquisitor and human Encyclopedia of Undead Things that Attack Us, helped me out: Sylvie was a mananang... managana... maganana... mango! She was a flyin' evil mango! So nothin' much unusual; stab her with silver, she drained blood, made things dark, yada yada yada.
So I popped out o' hiding and shot her. I thought I hit her really well, but she didn't go down, and now she had my arrow! When I'd learned that they were a gold piece each, and that's half a meal, I figured I could get by with one 'til we had a bit more money, or 'til I was out o' food, or maybe 'til I could figure out to make more on my own. But that flyin' hag had my arrow and didn't look like she was likely to come down! So while she and Alembic played some kind o' lights on/lights off game and Forth just stood there waitin' for her to come down 'cause dwarf and Llew shot some neat shiny flamy bolts at her, I gave her a dose o' holy water just to hear it sizzle, then went over and woke up Lorna. Lorna was 'bout as useful as Forth, so I got out some alchemist's fire just to see whether it would work better. Well, the bottle was defective, 'cause a bunch spilled into my eyes and I ended up tossin' the rest into the middle of the road (safer'n the forest or the bushes, I'm sure!). And takin' advantage of my distraction, the flappy half-girl flew down and picked me up and carried me off, cackling! I was pretty happy too, as I figured this'd make it a lot easier to dump holy water down her throat (and get my arrow back), but Forth had other ideas and whacked her something awful. Llew yelled, "Give me back my gnome!" and shot the wicked witch right through the head!
Aww! She really DOES care!
So I used my gnome magic to float myself safely to the ground, 'cause I figured Forth's mood'd be pretty sour 'cause he can't fly and he might not heal me just 'cause, then I got Ornery to heal me a little while the others looked at the wreckage of Sylvie and Lorna. Yeah, Lorna was pretty messed up. Not physically, but she'd been travelin' around, guardin' some kind o' fruit-themed abomination for the last few months, lettin' Sylvie go loose at night and doin' who-knows-what, so yeah, bein' all broken up about it raised Lorna a notch in my book. We healed up, looted and burned Sylvie's body, yada yada yada, and went back to bed, figurin' one undead abomination a night's about our pace.
I woke up bright and early the next morning feeling much better. Whatever Beef Jerky Boy had done to me, it wore off overnight so I was all ready to take on another one! Now that it was light, we went through Sylvie's stuff and I almost lost my breakfast. She had a jar of eyes preserved in salt to make herself "eye raisins", and then a bunch of gold teeth, rings, earrings, and other jewelry she'd taken from her victims. We figured it was the least we could do to let Lorna keep it to try to set up a more legitimate lifestyle for herself, 'cause guardin' undead abominations didn't seem to sit all that well with her. Once we'd made sure we weren't transportin' anything beyond evil, we set off, and, sure enough, came upon the inn just about mid-morning.
And it was a BUSY inn! There were a good half-dozen merchant's wagons sittin' there in the courtyard. Compared to Poxy pullin' the half-full cart o' loot they looked downright magnificent. Forth was tryin' to figure out whether one of the carriages was the one that came out o' Gillamoor, so he started just starin' at each one and Detectin' Evil on 'em, plus their guards! I thought it was a hoot, and was waitin' for one of the guards to take exception and punch him in the snoot, but they all seemed to be used to paladins nosin' around and didn't do anything about it. Forth pointed at one wagon that detected as evil, but then some surly sourpuss human all dressed up like a merchant came out, and it turned out he was the evil thing in the wagon. Color me surprised. Or not. So, after Mr. Grumpy headed in, the guards were a lot more willin' to talk to us. We were at the Goblin Watch Tavern, so called 'cause it's where the road makes its closest approach to the Chitterwood, so they figured they needed an inn instead of a fort. Humans! Anyhoo, apparently Sour Sam was the master of the Merchant's Guild in Logas, and he was meetin' with a bunch of other high-level guild muckety-mucks out here so they could go about fixin' all the prices in Logas to be the same. Seemed legit to me; I think I heard the Asmodean clerics talkin' about doin' it for their spellcastin' services once or twice, but Forth's beard got all curly and his teeth ground a little bit when he heard it, so I guess whatever it was wasn't very paladin-like. I couldn't figure it out, but I'm not a paladin, so whatever. The guildmaster's name was "Morg the Unthinking", which is a pretty fun name if you want to make fun of someone, but the guards called him a "right bastard" and a "nasty piece of work", so he had all kinds of names to work with.
While we were talkin' to the guards, Llew and Lorna went in to see about gettin' us rooms, so they were missin' out on the fun. Forth started talkin' about how much he wanted to know what was in Morg the Merciless' wagon, so I offered to go in and check for him, and he told me that under no circumstances was I to sneak into the wagons to see what's in 'em, so I figured he was givin' me tacit permission to do just that. Me 'n' Forth, we may not see eye to eye, but we know how to communicate. So he finished talkin' to the guards, and as he headed in to the inn I held back and popped into the weeds. I figured I'd try one of the other wagons first, so I got my smoke pellet out, just in case, and headed on in. I got in easy enough, so I figured the guards weren't very good at what they did. So I went over to Morg the Maniacal's wagon and the guards caught me before I was within 10 feet of it! Better pay grade, obviously! They were good guys, though. They asked me what I was doin', I lied that I was goin' to put a smoke pellet in his rear and get 'em half a day off, they appreciated a good lie (as all guards do), and they let me off with a warnin'. I promised 'em I'd be back and I'd be better next time, and they seemed unimpressed. Now it was a challenge! You'd think they wanted me to booby-trap Morg the Morbid's wagon! So I figured I'd give 'em a bit of time to get ready, 'cause when I'm determined I can really be pretty good, so I headed into the inn.
So, the owners/operators were a male human cook named Clem, a male human bartender named Clarence, and a female human drink deliverer named Roxanne. Barmaid? Wench? You know, I've never figured out what those women are called. I just know what men call 'em, and I'm sure that's not what they're really called. I'd've asked, but I was distracted thinkin' about how I was going to get into Morg the Mournful's cart and mess about in it. All the merchants were around a big round table discussin' prices in Logas, and I think I'd've stabbed myself in the head if I'd been at that table. Booooooooring! Llew, Forth, Lorna, and Alembic were at a table with FIVE huge steins of beer. I figured someone had ordered one for me and kind o' forgotten to mention that the mug was big enough for me to take a bath in! I commented on it and Alembic bet me I couldn't. In fact, he bet me a whole gold piece that I couldn't fit even my head in the mug! What a maroon! I held my breath and popped my head right in! Trouble was, my ears got stuck! I had to start twistin' and wigglin' quite a bit to get the mug off my head, 'cause it started bein' all sucky 'n' such, and everyone started havin' a good laugh. Well, good! That's one of the things gnomes are good for! Finally, since I was soaked anyway, and I already smelled like whatever wine Sylvie'd been servin' the night before, I just sat up and let gravity do its thing.
SPLOOSH! Beer went all over me, but the mug popped right off, so I demanded my gold from Alembic. He may be a buttweiner, but he paid right up, so he's not a welcher! Morg the Moocher and his cronies paused a moment to look over at me, but I figure they saw "gnome" and decided there was nothin' to see here. Roxanne laughed and brought me another beer, so I got a gold AND a free beer! Best head-in-mug experience EVER!
Llew mentioned that I needed a bath, and Roxanne piped up that she'd have to think about how much to charge me, 'cause she didn't know that they had any clean teacups, so I made it easy and ordered a full-sized bath. She said it was a silver, and I just happened to have a brand new beer-covered shiny gold piece I could give her! Apparently that covered the beer as well, and even Forth admitted that the beer was pretty good. So maybe Forth was just desperate, or maybe I'm just not seein' it, but suddenly his beady little eyes got all shiny like little polished coals in a bowl of bean soup seasoned with alchemist's fire and a bit of chili pepper (probably better if you don't ask), and he started askin' 'bout the beer delivery guy. Apparently his name was Stanford, but everybody called him Stan the Beer Man. Forth asked what his wagon looked like, and sure enough it matched our carriage out o' Gillamoor, right down to the barrels in the back! He came by every week and a half, which was just long enough to get to Gillamoor, get some zombie-made beer, and head back up.
So, we've been killin' a lot o' zombies, but it tastes like we should really be havin' 'em brew us beer. 'Cept now I kept checking my mug for missin' body parts. 'Cause you never know what you might find if a bunch o' undead are brewin' your beer. So's, anyway, it sounded like Stan was our man, and we were going to have to go lookin' for him. The only other stuff we learned about him was that he didn't talk much, and he only stayed 1 night each time he came. Trouble was, he wasn't comin' any time soon, so we had no idea where he was.
I listened to the merchant's table a little, but they were still just arguin' about how to get as much money as they could for all their wares, which I figured was their job 'n' all, but they seemed to care WAY too much about it, so I started listenin' in at other people's conversations to see whether anyone was more interesting than us. So I heard some people talkin' 'bout Gillamoor, but it didn't sound like anything we didn't already know; in fact, they knew less than us and I figured I didn't want to dissuade 'em quite yet, what with half-ladies like Sylvie flyin' around collectin' eyeball raisins and whatnot. But it turns out the undead occasionally made it all the way up here! Either persistent fellows or early beer delivery; I didn't hear which.
More interestin' was the stuff I didn't know already: Apparently the merchants' wagons were all full of wares headed for Logas, and for a price and some sweet talkin' you could probably convince 'em to part with some of them. Speakin' o' the merchants, apparently they normally stopped at a woodcutters' village about a day north o' here, but this time it was all creepy 'n' empty, and bein' merchants and all they were cowards and went around it. Sounded like I knew where we were goin' next! Just had to get a bath and a good night's rest without gettin' attacked by a heapin' helpin' o' undead and we'd be on our way.
Speakin' of night, it was startin' to get dark outside, so it was time to give Morg the Maniacal's guards a run for their money. Trouble was, Forth wanted me to see what was in the wagon (he and I understand each other, like I said), so I had to go ask Alembic for some Darkvision magic. Alembic, bein' nosy and annoyin' and kind of a butt, figured what I was up to and offered to make me invisible to boot! Well, that would be downright cheatin', so of course I agreed right away! I toodled right out the front door, softened my steps a bit, and climbed right on into Morg Smorgasbord's wagon with no one the wiser! And it was BORING! There were no barrels, or bits o' undead, or animated intestines, or preserved eyeballs; it was just some fat lazy merchant's wagon. But a promise's a promise, so I set up a little trap with my smoke pellet so it'd go off the first time they hit a big bump in the road, and Morg'd be Morg the Mad and his guards'd get an afternoon off 'cause they'd earned it by not seein' me. Kind o' cheatin', seein' as I was invisible and all, but I figured they wouldn't complain.
Trouble was, by the time I got back, Forth 'n' Llew were hoggin' the baths! Even when she was done, Llew was complainin' that she wouldn't come out without a robe! I told her to come on out buck nekkid, but she refused, so I had to wait even longer! But finally, at last, I got my bath! I stripped down, hopped on in, and scrubbed like there was no tomorrow! The water was so hot and my skin got so scrubbed that it was pink as my hair! Then I started in on my hair and oooooh, it felt good! After I was good and clean, I swam a couple o' laps in the tub, just for practice, then realized that all this bathin' and scrubbin' was thirsty work. So I hopped down, and just to show Llew how it's done, moseyed on down to the bar. And o' course nobody said anything, 'cause bein' naked's natural, like eatin' or sleepin' or settin' other people's clothes on fire. So Clarence poured me a nice little shot o' whiskey and I was started to head up when I heard, "Why do gnomes laugh so much when they run around naked?" "Because the grass tickles their balls!"
A little crude, but kind of interesting. "What's a good pick-up line for a gnome?" "I'm no weather witch, but I predict you'll get 3 inches tonight!"
So I sat down.
And Roxanne just started gettin' better and better. Naked gnomes rollin' in mud, catchin' their nether hairs on fire, gettin' coated in honey and eaten by bears! It was a gem of a set! I loved it! Totally started gettin' a bit chilly by the end, but I wanted to pay my respects, and I thought it was a really good set. I went back up to my bath but of course it was cold, and I wasn't going to waste good alchemist's fire heatin' it up, so instead I used it to scrub down all my clothes, then bundled 'em up in one clean towel, bundled myself up in another, and headed off to my great huge bed. I LOVE humans! So I jumped around for a bit, 'cause it's what you do, and doubly 'cause I was naked and had no pajamas so I had to warm up a bit anyway, then I settled down and FINALLY got a good night's sleep without gettin' attacked by anythin'!
In the mornin' I put on my charm (Hey! I can!) and schmoozed some o' the merchants into partin' with some of their more useful wares: Refills on a lot of stuff (I felt kind o' bad for the merchant who sold me the smoke pellet; I'm sure Morg the Moribund noticed, so that guy'd get an earful come Logas), then some more entertainment like thunderstones and tanglefoot bags. Roxanne was sellin' pony food and gnome food, and when I asked what was in it and she wouldn't tell me any more than that some of it was food, I figured she knew what she was doing (and she did know a lot of naked gnome jokes), so I bought a bunch o' food for myself as well. Forth bought another horse. I didn't ask its name. I just didn't want to know. Horse 2, I'm sure. Or maybe even just plain ol' Horse.
We asked about the logger's camp, and it was called Raven's Post, and was some kind o' work station for criminals. Ah, THAT wouldn't attract necromancers, no sir! What is WRONG with humans?!?!? Do they LIKE undead? Do they sleep better at night thinking, "Oh, gee, Martha, tonight we may be torn apart by monstrosities of our own creation! Won't that be delightful?"
"Oh, yes, John! Let's! And I hope they take the kids as well!"
Even better, the camp had been managed by Asmodeans. Oh, it was going to be a happy homecoming indeed! I fingered my symbol of Calistria. Lady give me strength against fools who aren't doin' it on purpose!
So we set off, and I left Roxanne a hefty tip 'cause I liked her, and it was miserable rain. So I got out my warm winter blanket and wrapped it all snug 'round myself, and checked Forth and his beard seemed to be keepin' him warm enough, and Llew's badassery was enough for her, but Alembic seemed a little cold, so I cheered up a bit. By mid-morning we hit the turnoff for Raven's Post, and Forth said there were a bunch of Asmodean symbols on the sign. Yeah, I knew that.
Stupid Asmodean clerics and their boring reading program! Maybe if YOU hadn't been so BORING, *I* would have learned to read your stupid Infernal!
Anyhoo, Llew sniffed at the rain and called on her goddess or whatever, but she just looked around and said, "Looks like G'Kuba weather!"
What I wanted to say was, "Are you fricking KIDDING ME?!?!? How can you look at the WEATHER and tell me what kind of undead we're goin' to be fightin'!?!?!?!"
What I DID say was, "So, what are they and how do we kill them?"
So, G'Kubas happen when you take a serial killer, and you execute him, then burn his body and spread the ashes. So exactly what we'd been doin' all this time! But Llew said that no, no, we'd been doin' it right, so it wasn't OUR G'Kuba. Sure, Llew. Sure. So these things are vengeance-themed undead who come after the people who killed 'em, and have been known to destroy entire towns, so we kind o' knew what had happened to Raven's Post. But like all undead, the thing'd keep on killin' even after it had its revenge 'cause undead just aren't too bright, so we had to go find it and kill it. Trouble was, sounded like I wasn't going to me much use. The things glide around underground, turnin' the ground to mud, then encasing anyone they catch in rock and cursin' 'em. Gnomes don't do well in mud. So I figured I'd stay on Poxy and throw holy water and alchemist's fire 'til Poxy carried me away somewhere.
So we rode on in to Raven's Post, and none of us were surprised that the town was deserted, and that it was still rainin', and so none of us got off our animals. The buildings looked smashed-into, so we headed for the barracks we saw at the end of town. And lo and behold, someone was prayin' to Asmodeus in there! So we rode on over and saw a building that might hold 60-80 people, but it sounded like it was holdin' all of one right now.
Forth said he was goin' to get down and go in, so I told him to tie a rope 'round himself so I could hold him. He's so used to me by now he didn't even think about it and just did it! And that's how I got a dwarf on a leash! One more item off my bucket list!
So Mr. "I weigh 300 pounds on a diet" being held by Ms. "I weigh 58 pounds soaking wet" headed into the fort. They started talkin' and Forth told us it was OK to come in. The Asmodean was some giant orc or half-orc (like I can tell the difference) with a huge old battleaxe.
His name was Jack the Ex (as in Executioner), and he told us it had been 5 days since the G'Kuba had come and taken everyone else away. He was the only one left, and he'd only gotten away 'cause it didn't like comin' onto the solid flooring of the barracks. The thing that's stalking him looks like a killer he executed last week; a serial killer out of Logas. Everything seemed to add up. He even admitted they'd burned him and spread the ashes, as per protocol. So, Asmodeus? Meet Pharasma. Get a clue!
We decided on a plan of action so wacky that I wasn't sure I hadn't come up with it. First off, I got to grease up Jack. (Greasing an orc! One more item off the bucket list! And that's two in one day!) Then Llew, Alembic, and I went up to the guard observation deck with our bows 'n' bombs 'n' stuff, while Jack and Forth wandered out into the rain-soaked mud. It didn't take much time at all for the critter to pop out o' the mud and rip into Jack, who screamed pretty magnificently and girly-like at the same time for a 9-foot orc. So, we all tried to rain pain on the mud critter. I say "tried", 'cause 'til you try fightin' in the pourin' rain and mud you have no idea. My holy water squipped off to its left by a bit. Llew's started buffin' her bow. Forth and Jack could barely hold on to their weapons in the muck, much less swing 'em effectively. Alembic Glitterdusted the creature, which made it all pretty 'n' all, but... what? Fortunately, we all started gettin' our bearings before it could eat Jack entirely. Forth hit it so hard I thought it was goin' to fall in half, and it hit Forth almost as hard, so now the mud was all full of blood. Jack couldn't hit for beans, which kind of makes sense, 'cause if all you ever hit is guys who are tied down you're never goin' to get any real practice. Llew's bow was all soggy or somethin', but her cursin' did add some nice urgency to the combat. I figured she'd eventually give up and just go cut the thing up, but you never want to interrupt a good string o' cursin'. People are at their most creative when they're stressed, and you can learn a lot. So eventually the thing dropped and I jumped off the roof to try to help but did I already mention gnomes and mud? I plunked down about knee-deep in and I couldn't get out. 'Course Forth and Jack were cursed and bleeding, so they were too busy to notice. And Llew was just wrappin' up a particularly inventive string 'bout the dead undead's ancestry so I didn't want to interrupt her, and that left Alembic, so I figured I'd just stand in the mud for a bit.
Then came all the bad news. First, the undead had said something like, "You didn't kill me," which meant maybe Jack wasn't his executioner after all. Then Jack said that the thing we just killed wasn't the guy he executed. So I shut up and let Llew do some inquisitin'.
So, I don't rightly understand it all, but near as I can figure it it went this way: Maybe 20, 30 years ago there was an undead-blooded sorcerer who killed an Asmodean priest. This was the guy who got executed, burned, ashes spread, and turned into a G'Kuba, which we just killed, and with which Jack was familarizing himself with my campfire bead and the joys of fire. But G'Kobu don't take people. Llew took the rain out of the equation. If you execute a really psychotic murderer, they turn into a mohrg (apparently not to be confused with Morg the Morning Person). Mohrgs kill people to create undead and hide them away, building (of course) an undead army with which to strike down their enemies.
So the guy that Jack killed was a mohrg, and he'd built an army of undead to kill Jack. Yep. Most likely tonight. *SIGH*.
And to put the cherry in the dungheap, the trouble all started just a few days ago, when Stan the Food Man came through.
I was going to have to have words with Stan. Stabby, stabby words.
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 13, Played 13-May-2018
So, figurin' we had a few hours o' daylight left, we figured we ought to shore up our defenses in preparation for the undead onslaught. And this wasn't going to be a typical night in the "great" (cough cough) outdoors, either! Jack said there'd been around 80 people in camp, so we could look forward to a veritable army o' undead skeletons and zombies comin' at us from all sides. I looked at my bow and my ONE arrow again, and figured maybe next time I'd choose some more arrows over the food. 'Course, I still had plenty o' food left, so there WAS a bright side to all this. Forth kind o' took charge, makin' me hammer all kinds o' boards all over the doors (the good news was, as a lumber camp we weren't lackin' for wood), since it was somethin' I could do in spite o' bein' small ('course, I had to have help with the top halves o' the doors; otherwise the zombies would've been blocked only waist-high). Llew dug a big pit in front of the smaller door, using the shovel good ol' loyal Poxy had been carryin' for her all this time! Good boy, Poxy! 'Course, maybe I was a little biased about a "big" pit; *I* would have had to use my hands to climb out of it, so it seemed deep enough to me, and I figured it would at least slow the zombies down a bit. Jack 'n' Forth, bein' able to carry a lot more, put a big ol' water barrel in front of one of the double doors, then hung a huge log that would swing down and hit any zombies that came inside. Llew didn't like this idea all that much, seein' as logs didn't care all that much as to who they hit, but I figured it'd just add to the fun.
I mentioned that I didn't have much useful in the way of ranged weapons, and Jack sat down, pulled out some scrap canvas, and in around 15 minutes made me a little sling! He told me I'd have to get my own rocks. Wow! I thought orcs were mean 'n' ornery, and Forth said that this guy was evil, but I was beginnin' to like him. Maybe he was just evil to non-gnomes or somethin'. I figured he'd get hurt in the fight and I'd be able to cross "poke an orc in the butt with a stick" off my list, too. Good times! All in all, though, Jack seemed to be in awfully good spirits for a guy with a horrific undead abomination bound and determined to kill him. I guess it just made him feel like a member of our exclusive club o' "hated by the undead" misfits. Plus Alembic. Yeah, I don't much know what HE was doin' to help, but I'll admit, with all the hammerin' and yammerin' I was doin', he probably did SOMETHIN' useful. Not that I know what, mind you.
So the plan, near as I could figure it, was that we did a pretty bad job on the smaller door, intentionally, just so's the zombies would have an easy place to get in. The pit in front of that door would slow the zombies down and make 'em easier to hit, and Llew, Forth, and Jack would sit there playin' whack-a-zombie while Alembic and I hid in back and provided ranged support. Alembic sat in the cart, and I put Poxy over in the corner, but he didn't understand my commands and wandered around a lot, so I put some of his feed where I wanted him and that kept him there for a couple of minutes, which I figured was good enough to let him know where to go. Poxy's a pretty smart little pony, if a bit skittish for reasons I don't understand.
Once sunset came, Forth did his prayin', and apparently the zombies were the polite types 'cause they waited for him to finish before showin' up. Trouble was, they were a lot stupider than we gave 'em credit for. They didn't even pay attention to the doors, and just started bangin' into the walls wherever they happened to be. Stupid zombies! Didn't they understand our plan? They were even climbin' up onto the roof to start tryin' to get in that way. This wasn't going as planned at all!
We figured we had to give 'em a clue or three, so first I ran along the wall, singin' at the top o' my lungs, tryin' to herd the zombies over to the door while everyone else buffed up. Even I could tell that I was way off key, but I figured the orc 'n' the dwarf wouldn't notice, Llew wouldn't care, and so the only person whose teeth were itchin' at my singin' was Alembic. So I kept singin'. Once I'd made my round and used Shieldy on myself (good wand!), Forth unbarred the smaller door and in popped a zombie. I tried to sling a stone at it but the went right backwards and hit the wall behind me! Jack had given me a defective sling! Forth 'n' Jack said some mean things about how gnomes don't know anything 'bout slings, so as the zombies trickled in I tried again and caught one right through the head! It dropped! Not bad for my second try! I'll give Alembic a little credit; he softened it up with one of his acid ball thingies, but I'm pretty sure the stone through its head finished it off.
Trouble was, what with Forth 'n' Jack bein' cursed and all, they couldn't hit zombies for beans. Llew was hangin' back in reserve, and there was a big gap between Llew and Jack that I figured the zombies were goin' to come pourin' through, plus what with the curse 'n' all I figured Forth 'n' Jack were about to get pounded on. So I skipped the plan and ran into the gap to stab a zombie.
And oooooh! Did I get a yellin' at! I'd apparently marched right into the hole that Llew had been waitin' to fill, so she nearly stepped on me tryin' to get the zombie I'd just stabbed, and she just didn't like me doin' my own thing, so I figured I'd better run back to the cart right quick before I caused any more trouble. Trouble was, a lot more zombies started pourin' in, like they'd been blocked up before but now they could get through. Maybe it was all the corpses in the pit. Anyhoo, I made sure not to stab Llew's and we dropped 'em, and Alembic proved why he didn't need to do any manual labor when he dropped a Fireball outside and all the zombies went quiet, and it seemed like we were almost done so I went back to the cart.
And there, crouchin' under our own cart, was some twisted skeleton thing with nothin' left but intestines in it, and those intestines went up its gullet and out its mouth like a tongue. I started yellin' a warning, but the intestine-tongue shot out and smacked me in the chest and suddenly I couldn't move or scream or nothin'. Damn it! I HATE bein' paralyzed!
Fortunately, Llew and Forth knew that bein' quiet wasn't my style, so while Llew finished off the zombie in the doorway, Forth came over and dragged me safely away from the thing. Thanks, Forth! Alembic, bein' Alembic, squealed like a teenage girl on Fire Day and hopped off the cart 'cause he knew somethin' was under it. OK, maybe I might've made the same mistake, but I doubt it. If there's a monster under your cart, you've got to JUMP, not just clamber off like you're visiting your old granny and lookin' forward to plum pudding and a warm cozy fire and down comforters and settin' the trees in the back yard on fire a few times. But Alembic, bein' Alembic, just stepped carefully off the cart so as not to upset his delicate digestion, and the intestine-tongue-paralyzy thingy popped out and poked him and he couldn't move, either.
Llew was already pretty pissed off at all the undead and misbehavin' gnomes and whatnot, so she cast a spell that freed up me 'n' Alembic, but that just gave the critter a chance to crawl out from its hidey-hole, grab Alembic, and start eatin' him alive. OK, Alembic and I don't see eye-to-eye on much of ANYTHING, but NOBODY eats my sorcerer! I ran up and ordered Poxy to provide me a flank, but Poxy just looked at me like I was askin' the world o' him and decided he was goin' to run away instead of helpin' me, 'cause he's a Coward! So I didn't get a flank, so I didn't hit the mohrg (I wasn't sure, but I figured if this wasn't the mohrg, then we were in REAL trouble), and it was free to keep eatin' our sorcerer. So I guess people DO eat my sorcerer, darn it!
Coward made good on his intentions and ran away, but that cleared up space so Llew gave me a flank and Forth backed me up from behind. The mohrg didn't like this one bit and ran away, carryin' and eatin' Alembic all the while! I still couldn't hit it! So we played a little chase-around for a bit, but every time the critter paralyzed Alembic with its tongue thingy, Llew kept unparalyzin' him with her spell so the critter couldn't finish him off. Good job, Llew! Jack 'n' Forth 'n' I weren't doin' a heck of a lot useful, but Forth was gettin' in the occasional hit, and we figured we'd eventually wear it down and drop it. It must've figured the same, 'cause it dropped Alembic and grabbed me. Of course. 'Cause everybody loves to grab the gnome. I tried to squirm free, but this thing was extra-grabby! It paralyzed me AGAIN, but Alembic, fed up with bein' eaten and carried around and paralyzed and otherwise manhandled, hit it with a whole slew o' Magic Missiles that dropped it dead on the spot.
'Course, I still couldn't move, and Llew decided to teach me a lesson 'bout behavin' myself by not unparalyzin' me, but instead posin' me at the front of the cart like a ship's figurehead, then puttin' a flower (where'd she get that?) in my hair! I figured it was a fair cop, and it was pretty darned funny, so I didn't hold her any ill will for it. They didn't strip me naked, cover me with anythin' nasty, or light me on fire, so it was all in good fun. In fact, I have to admit, I kind o' liked it. It showed style, and a sense of humor. I hadn't seen that in Llew before. Cheered me right up, paralysis and all.
Once I was freed up, we did as much healin' as we could, Llew insisted that "Yellow" was a better name for a pony than "Coward", we did all the usual words 'n' burnin' of the undead, and learned that the only undead around here were the guards; all the prisoners were missin'. Oh, good.
There was nothin' for it but to get a good night's rest and push on for Logas in the mornin'. Jack figured he could hold down the fort until help arrived. I wished him luck. A LOT of luck.
In the mornin', my breakfast exploded! I dodged it, of course, but it showed the love and care o' Roxanne. If it were physically possible, I'd figure she was half-gnome or somethin', but I don't think things work that way. Otherwise you'd hear a lot more 'bout half-gnomes or half-halflings or whatnot. Or... what if halflings really ARE half-gnomes? Eeew! Nope. Just don't want to think about it!
So under the 'splody stuff was pancakes 'n' honey 'n' berries 'n' nuts, so breakfast was wonderful, as always, and then we set off, just steelin' ourselves for the next atrocity we'd come across, since we knew it was goin' to happen. Sure enough, around lunchtime Llew started noticin' more and more spiderwebs, and started thinkin' 'bout what kinds o' undead spun webs. Unfortunately, while she knew that there were some, she couldn't rightly recall what they looked like (I was bettin' spiders) nor what they did (I was bettin' spin webs and poison people). Bein' silly, and as it's kind o' our job 'n' such, we kept goin' right into Web Central. And o' course around 2 in the afternoon we came to a farmhouse that was totally draped in webs. The fields were fresh-plowed, but had webs in 'em. The trees were all covered with webs. The barn 'n' the main house were covered with webs. I suggested just burning it all from the road, and Alembic immediately agreed. Even Forth seemed kind o' OK with it, so *I* had to remind him that spiders liked to keep their prey alive, so we ought to check out the house before burnin' the whole thing.
When the gnome is the voice o' reason in your party, you've got issues.
So I tied off Yellow 'n' the cart on the road and we headed towards the barn. There weren't even any creepy scarecrows around, which was in and of itself creepy. We heard noises in the barn, so Llew asked me to sneak up and peek in. I looked at her kind o' askance, 'cause she's usually tellin' me NOT to put myself in danger 'n' all, but I figured she probably had a good reason to send me on in, so I snuck up and peeked in, and there were two HUGE ginormous spider-thingies eatin' the cows in the barn. 'Cept they were like giant spiders made up o' lots of little bitty spiders. It was kind o' neat, but really creepy, too. So I crept back and told Llew 'bout 'em, and she said that they were "deathwebs", and they were nasty 'cause if you fought 'em hand-to-hand all the little spiders would get all over you and poison you, and if you fought 'em at range they'd spit webs at you, and they could hit REALLY hard and poison you, so just all kinds of spider stuff. But they were undead so we had to kill 'em. I was startin' to wonder about who'd go to all the trouble o' makin' on of these things: First you'd have to animate every last one of those thousands of teensy spiders, then you'd have to do your Pied Piper thing and get 'em all to crawl into the corpse of the giant spider, then you'd have to get 'em all to animate it and all that, and it just seemed like more trouble 'n' gettin' a simple Control Monster spell and controllin' a big giant spider that way, but my ruminatin' was cut short when the spiders came out to eat us 'cause we were talkin' too loud.
So I ran over to one of the web-covered trees 'n' hid to try to get a chance to find a vital spot (though I didn't know as that they'd have any), Alembic sped us up, Llew walked up and hit one so hard I swear it made my tree shake, and Forth took on the other. I took my shot and missed, and one o' the spiders tried to crush Llew (thank goodness she dodged, 'cause it left of heck of a crater where it hit), and the other spat some web at me. And I got hit. And covered with web. Darn it! Forth hit his pretty hard as well, then Alembic set the world on fire, or at least the spiders, the barn and the tree I was next to. I figured I was going to get singed a bit, so again I tried to get loose, and again I couldn't. That's it! Starting this moment I'm goin' on a diet!
So Llew came over to help cut me out, and Alembic came over and just kind of looked at me like he was wonderin' whether or not I'd enjoy bein' burned alive (did I mention we don't get along too well?), but the web caught fire enough to burn me out without too much pain (I've had worse at kids' birthday parties), and we stepped back and let the fire do its thing. The barn was a lost cause, but I hadn't seen any people, and Alembic didn't detect any magic, so it didn't seem like that big of a loss, considerin' the family probably wouldn't be usin' it any more anyway, seein' as to how their cows were now all sucked dry and probably wouldn't be o' much use other than some beef jerky and leather coats. And maybe some glue or sausages or somethin'.
We moved on to the house, hopin' beyond hope that we'd find the family all cocooned up and poisoned but alive, but we were too late. They were all dead 'n' drained. Llew started searchin' the house for valuables, and Forth and I objected, but she pointed out that the family wasn't usin' 'em any more, if we left 'em they'd just go to some looters a lot worse 'n us, and if we took 'em the money would go directly towards takin' out the people who'd done this. Neither Forth nor I could argue with any of it, but we agreed to write down the family name, and if we found any family members alive in Logas we'd turn the heirlooms over to them, as is rightful 'n' proper. Llew decided she was OK with that, 'cause underneath that steely gaze she really does have a heart, so we packed up the valuables with a note as to the family name and moved on.
The area was gettin' better 'n' better, with the occasional farmstead or house off o' the road, but we knew better. It was us. We were goin' to get attacked. 'Cause it's what we do. So we didn't even bother worryin' 'bout it too much. We had a nice hot fire and a hot meal for dinner (hooray), a warm fire at our backs, Yellow got oats and got to stay near us, but not too far from us, I asked Forth for some healin', but he said that he didn't like to bother Torag for 'little stuff', 'cause "Torag has better things to do", so I had to use my own wand, but it was feelin' kind o' sorry for me so it worked.
After my watch, I went to sleep, figurin' I'd be woken up by some kind o' commotion so I didn't even bother hiding myself the way I usually do, BIG mistake. I got woken up my some kind o' howl that shook me to my very bones, and I couldn't move at all! Somethin' flyin' in the night sky took that as an excuse to shoot the livin' crap out o' me, so I was just lyin' there, bleedin' and gettin' shot and unable to move, and that's just a much worse way to wake up 'n usual. Apparently Torag decided that keepin' the gnome alive was worth his attention, 'cause Forth healed me a bit, which probably kept me alive when the thing shot me a bunch o' times again and I blacked out. I don't know what anybody else was doin', but when I came to Forth was standin' over me tryin' to keep me alive, but heck if *I* was goin' to let on that I was alive. That thing was nasty. So I played dead. Apparently I played it right convincing, 'cause Forth started wailin' 'bout the critter killin' me 'n' all, and the critter came down and tried to suck out my soul. It was right painful, but I managed to keep my soul in my body, 'cause I'm stubborn 'n' all. It didn't pay a lot of attention to Forth wavin' his hammer at it, nor Llew shootin' it a bit, but Alembic was doin' Fireballs and Magic Missiles and otherwise irritatin' it. So after one more attempt to eat my soul (kept it in again! Thank goodness! I need that!), it decided to shoot Alembic instead. I couldn't rightly see much of what happened next, 'cause bein' dead means not bein' able to look around at stuff, but I heard Llew shootin' the crap out of it, Alembic go silent like he was either paralyzed or dead (I'll admit it -- much as I dislike him, I was really rootin' for paralyzed), and Forth cursin' and huffin' and puffin' like he'd used to much wax and softener in his beard and it had caught fire and he was tryin' to put it out with his hammer. But eventually I heard the big "crash" that meant Llew had shot the thing down, but I wasn't movin' yet.
It wasn't 'til they had Alembic movin' and Forth started howlin' 'bout poor dead me that I figured it was safe to sit up, and Forth credited Torag with a miracle. I figured if it hadn't been for a couple o' heals from Torag, I'd be right dead anyway, so I had to give him that one. Llew figured I was beat up enough to merit some wand healin', and I used up the last o' my wand as well. Handy little things! I'll have to pick up another!
Once Alembic and I were pretty well healed (he got it almost as bad as I did, except with no soul-sucking), we rested for the rest of the evening. One of these days we were going to get attacked twice, and then I either feared or pitied the second thing, 'cause we'd be all kinds of cranky at it. We searched the dead critter (Llew called it a "baykok", some kind o' huntin' undead where a hunter went kind o' overboard and turned all undead 'n' evil in pursuit o' the hunt), and its nice bow fit Llew exactly, and looked good on her bad-ass self, so she took it. I was waitin' to see whether Forth'd take the other bow, but he wouldn't. I figure I've got to gift him a bandolier o' throwing axes one of these days. In addition to the bow, the baykok had a letter. "The mistress wishes them dead. You are the ideal assassin for this mission. Kill them."
It was nice to be wanted. And kind of creepy to know that undead write each other notes. Do they pass little undead love letters under the desks at undead school? How do ghosts and other incorporeal undead deal with notes? Is it a cruel practical joke in the undead world to pass rolled-up notes to ghosts? Or can they pass through them and read them?
Anyhoo, the next day's travel was downright pleasant. There were more and more farmsteads on either side of the road, and one of the farmers even let us know that there was an inn up ahead. We figured once we were this close to civilization maybe the constant assault of undead would abate a bit, but it just wasn't to be. Early in the afternoon some stinky undead thing came clamberin' out of a drainage ditch to attack us. This one was even nastier 'n' usual. It looked like a flayed human, so all its skin was gone and its organs were kind o' flopping about, looking like they were goin' to drop on the road at any minute. But o' course 'cause of undead magic they didn't, 'cause otherwise it wouldn't be nearly so threatening and would be a lot more comical. "Oooh! I'm comin' to get you! Oops! My stomach! Come back here! Ooooh! I bent over to get my stomach and my liver fell out! Darn it!" And then he could kick the liver and the stomach along and it would be pretty funny.
But this guy wasn't like that.
First was the stink. Me, I think I'm just kind o' gettin' used to it, what after the chemical factory and the necromancer caverns and all. To me, this guy wasn't nearly as stinky as those places. But Llew and Alembic disagreed, and started pukin' their guts all over the road. So the skinned guy, apparently he had a delicate stomach, too, 'cause he puked all over them as well. But his vomit was all full of bone chips and nastiness and it cut 'em up and burned 'em pretty badly. So, a gnome's got to do what a gnome's got to do. Llew and Alembic were out of it and covered with all kinds of people's vomit (I didn't have time to count), Forth was way back with Yellow and the cart and wouldn't be here any time soon (dwarf), and I was the only thing keepin' it from takin' advantage of the situation with either Llew or Alembic. So I bravely stepped up and faced it off, figuring I could at least confuse it with my tenacity long enough for Forth to get there.
The first thing I learned was that it didn't find me all that dodgy. The second thing I learned was that it hit pretty hard. So I called out to Forth that I could only take a few more hits, but I was going to keep it off Llew and Alembic for as long as I could. There's "heroic" and there's "stupid", and I think I was goin' pretty far into the latter, but I figured as long as Forth didn't start pukin' I had a chance o' comin' out o' this alive. Forth parked the cart ('cause dwarf. Can't go hurryin' to keep the gnome alive or nothin'. Nothin' worse than a poorly-parked cart in the road) and waddled towards me as fast as his beard would let him. I poked at the thing again and it kept poundin' on me. Well, at least I had its attention! Forth finally got there and whacked it a good one, staggerin' it enough that it actually missed me for once and I kept standin'. I got in a good stab now that Forth was helpin', and Llew came to help us! I don't know what she could do, but she was goin' to do it, whatever it was! Then Forth decided he was tired o' seein' his gnome's blood everywhere and chopped the thing clean in two with one blow. It was a pretty impressive hit!
I really like Forth. He shows he cares in the important ways. Speakin' o' showin' carin', Llew came over and puked on me. 'Cause I was the only one 'sides Forth who wasn't covered in vomit.
Oh, the inn was going to LOVE us.
So Forth healed us up as Llew told us we'd just fought a "rawbones", and now we were really getting into undead that people made on purpose just to kill other people. This thing was created from someone who was tortured and left to rot in a dungeon for a while. Man, who knew that you could create undead in so many different ways, all of which involved being a complete jerk?
We got to the inn without further incident, and Forth checked us in while Llew and I headed straight for the baths. She dumped a bucket over my head to get the worst off of me, then I realized Forth would probably forget Yellow so I went out to remind him. The innkeep complained about naked gnomes and sliding down banisters 'n' such, so I figured that was a good sign 'cause it meant he'd hosted gnomes before. We got stabling for Yellow and one big room for all of us. Worked well for me, 'cause I figured I could easily fit at the foot of the bed of any human, and heck, Forth would take up the whole width of a bed, but probably only two-thirds of the length so I'd have luxury accommodations. While Llew and I were bathin', Alembic cleaned our stuff for us, provin' that he's not too bad of a guy after all, then it was Llew and my turn to get the room all inspected for monsters 'n' such as the men cleaned themselves such as they would. (Honestly, I think Forth just combed his beard and Alembic magicked himself clean. I think they're both allergic to water.)
We went down to the common room for dinner and the evening's entertainment, which was a bard who wasn't half bad. He even sang a song about getting stuck in Ravenport. Oh, how little he knew! While we were listenin', Forth made smalltalk with the barkeep and learned that Stan the beer man was now only 2 days ahead of us! In spite of all the attacks, we seemed to be gainin' on him. Of course, he had to be creating/luring/paying all these things to keep attacking us, so it kind o' made sense that he was bein' slowed down by bein' a homicidal jerk.
So we were in an inn, in a nice peaceful little village, just half a day's ride out of Logas. Of course we kept watch! And the undead of the evening was an impatient sort, and came burnin' and burstin' through the window during the early watch (mine). So, there was no way to figure out exactly what this thing was. It was definitely burny, as it had a bunch of ashes in it and smelled like smoke. But it also had a bunch of roasted body parts in it, so it was pretty clearly undead. And it burned its way into the room instead of passing through the walls, so it probably had a body that I could stab somewhere in there. As usual, it decided that I looked tastiest, but after comin' through the wall it was pretty disoriented and missed me by quite a bit, and Llew started carvin' into it. Alembic started quiverin' in his bed and murmurin' stuff, so either he didn't manage to get a spell off or he'd just wet himself, and Forth jumped up in his skivvies to do battle with the thing. So... much... hair!!!
The thing realized that Llew was more of a threat than I was, so it tried to crawl down her throat, but anyone who knows Llew knows that's the wrong way to go. She wasn't havin' none of it and whacked the creature again. Alembic got off a spell and sped us all up, but then Forth just fanned the thing, like he was tryin' to blow it away. Seemed like an odd strategy, but it distracted it enough that me, Llew, and Alembic finished it off.
In the mornin' Forth went and tried to tell the truth 'bout the missin' wall, so I paid the innkeep 50 gold and told him I'd been gassy. I was pretty sure he didn't believe me, but he said he was used to gnomes and the gold'd more than cover the damage. I was just confused as to why Forth'd suddenly start telling the truth 'n' all.
We set off for Logas, wonderin' whether some undead dragon was goin' to drop out o' the sky on our heads, but nothin' happened, and we were in Logas by lunchtime!
Time to turn in the Jeggares and collect our reward...
...'cept every guard around town's in Jeggare colors.
This may be harder than we thought...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 14A, Played 03-Jun-2018
We rode triumphantly into Logas, 'cept nobody noticed us 'cause we weren't famous... yet. As we rode in, we noticed the road sign said, "Gillamoor Road", which was kind o' obvious but kind o' comfortin' at the same time, since we knew where we'd been. Logas was one o' those big walled cities I'd heard of, but it was kind of funny 'cause there were a lot of shops 'n' stuff set up outside the wall, and it didn't seem all that smart to have a wall to protect yourself and then put a bunch of people outside it. Maybe they were from Alembic's family, and were so rude they got shuffled outside? Heck if I knew.
All the outside buildings we could see were shops: Places sellin' all kinds of "adventurer stuff", like stuff to fix your horse's feet (Yellow wasn't walkin' funny, so I figured he was OK), stuff to fix your wagon (ditto Forth's cart), food (no thank you, Mr. "I'm so mean I'm not allowed in the wall", I don't want to taste your cooking), tools, 'n' so forth.
There was an inn right there on the road called the Wanderer's Inn, but all of us knew that if ol' Stan the Beer Man was layin' traps for us, stayin' at that inn was a good way to wake up dead. Alembic reminded us that he was from here, and he could show us around. He'd likely be stayin' in his family's estate, but we weren't welcome there 'cause Alembic didn't like us. Or something. He made up a decent lie so I let it go.
Once we were past the little adventurer's shop and the adventurer's inn and we got to the wall, we got to see into this HUGE bustling city! There were humans everywhere! It was hard to imagine that goblins had ever sacked this town. There were big humans, small humans, short humans, tall humans, and maybe even a few dwarves 'n' such wandering around, and they all seemed downright cheerful, like there was no threat o' undead annihilation hangin' over their heads or anything. 'Course, that's 'cause we hadn't told them yet, and I figured they'd get a little more depressed after that. Seemed an awful shame.
So, Alembic started pointin' stuff out to us, 'cept his house, 'cause he didn't want us to know where he lived 'n' all. Right after we got inside the walls there was another market, and this one had lots more stuff than the outside market. Beyond the market was the biggest temple of Asmodeus I'd ever seen, and Alembic said that beyond that there would be a second market tomorrow that had all the magic goodies we'd be able to afford once we'd sold all our loot. So even though we had all kinds o' stuff to do, we figured that the best first thing would be to sell all our loot so we could get some spendin' money. Forth and Alembic set to doin' that, 'cause they're kind o' good at it, and I set about shoppin' to replenish my supplies. 'Course, a gnome in a marketplace is always welcome at at least one stall, and I found the one: Alchemist's fire, alchemical grease, alchemical glue, and pretty much anything else you could add the word "alchemical" to was there. The shopkeep asked me whether I was a real gnome, which was a really weird question, but he said it was 'cause a lot of devils and Asmodeans didn't want to get caught buyin' fun stuff from him so they disguised themselves as gnomes, 'cause nobody asks a gnome why she's buyin' what she's buyin'. It's better not to know. Just ask Llew!
Well, he didn't make me strip down to my knickers or anything untoward, but he pretty quickly figured out I was the real deal. I don't know whether he used some secret magic or somethin', but he just said he could tell I was a real gnome, so he got out the good stuff: Alchemist's fire that burned in all kinds of different colors, and some that stank (no thanks; too many bad memories of stinky things), and he even had gnome food! He asked whether I held a grudge, and I figured he was just askin' whether I wanted the good food, so I lied and said, "No," and he sold me the high-end stuff. i figured if it hurt me too bad I could always sneak some into his bed one night. He even sold food for Yellow. I guess ponies are pretty popular or somethin', 'cause everyone who sells gnome food seems to sell both pony food and ponies. I don't know why. Yellow's been tougher than a troll to kill this whole trip! Though he is a bit skittish. Maybe they just run off.
So cash in hand, before we did anything else Forth wanted to get his curse removed. I pointed at the big ol' temple of Asmodeus that was starin' him right in the beard, but he didn't want to go there. I told him they were all about rules 'n' such, and would be more 'n happy to cure him if the price was right, but he just didn't want to go there, and I was too tired to argue too much. So he asked Alembic about other temples and Alembic started listing 'em and Forth chose Shelyn instead o' Pharasma. I raised an eyebrow at that and glanced over at Llew, but she didn't seem to take any offense; I guess they knew more 'bout removin' curses than I did. Which was nothing.
So Alembic led us over to the temple of Shelyn, which was pretty small, but still pretty nice, and all decorated with flowers 'n' birds 'n' stuff and felt all homey. A nice lady welcomed us in and made us feel all warm 'n' cozy, and she took care of Forth's curse no problem. I figure curses are probably mean, and it was kind of impossible to feel mean in that temple, so if I'd have been a curse I would've left too. She noticed my holy symbol of Calistria and asked about my worship, and I had to admit I wasn't a very good worshipper at all. I didn't sleep around with much o' anybody, but I did wreak a lot o' vengeance on the undead, but I wasn't sure they counted. But Calistria likes mischief, too, and I figure I got that bit covered. And I haven't been stung by wasps or eaten by elves or nothin', so I figure I'm good enough that I haven't pissed her off, and with Calistria that's pretty solid. But I'm a fey, and she's the only real goddess of the fey I know about, so I figure I gotta pay her her dues; one of these days I'll need someone to have my back, so I make sure she knows I'm around.
I still wanted to visit the temple of Asmodeus and Forth still said, "NO!", so we compromised and headed over to the temple of Pharasma. Forth and Alembic offered to wait outside, 'cause I don't know, but I figured Llew'd want company, and I like listening to her read her book 'cause she gets all intense and sounds like some great orator when she does it. "And then I killed this thing, and to kill it you have to do this, and then I killed that other thing and to kill it you need to do that."
Man, if she wanted to worship Calistria I think Calistria'd love to have her.
So we met a guy who went by the name of Father Ferrington, and he offered Llew a seat so I asked him if he had one for me and he came out with the most amazing contraption I've ever seen! It was chair just my size, but painted in all kinds of bright colors, and with little extraneous rings and bells and such on the sides. There was a tray in front where you could store your daggers (he said it was for food), and a lever on one side and a button on the other.
So I figure Llew talked to him for a while, but I was busy. Dependin' on how you pushed the button and then moved the lever, different things happened to the chair. Maybe a panel opened. Maybe a little ball fell out. Maybe it made a noise. But I was determined to figure 'em all out and see which one made the chair catch on fire. Llew took a while with her report, and the chair never did anythin' really truly interestin, so I went ahead and figured out which button and lever press made the dowel come out and used some string and glue to attach one o' my daggers to the dowel. That way, if you weren't quick, you'd get a bit bloody, but it wasn't quite high enough to take out an eye. Just about the perfect little addition! I told Father Ferrington 'bout it and he thanked me, so I figured I did good. Unfortunately, I have no idea what Llew talked to him about. I'm hopin' it was just her readin' her book, 'cause I can get her to do that any time. She likes her book.
They finally got my attention when Llew apparently told him we'd cleared out Gillamoor, and he did some castin' 'n' stuff to make sure it was true, then he started tellin' us 'bout the various 'noble' families in town. The mayor of the town was Brock Muskgrove, and Father Ferrington figured he was all right. In fact, he kind o' contradicted himself, saying the Muskgroves were well-known for making friends with all the other families, so always getting nice positions like mayor and so forth, but then he called 'em the "least political". I figured they were just the "smartest political", but what do I know? Ol' Brock wasn't just the mayor, he was also head o' the Muskgrove family, and, according to our host, had a level head on his shoulders to boot. Sounded like the mayor was the one for us to see! The head of the guard was Brighton Farbridge, the head of one of the other families, but Father Ferrington didn't say much more 'bout him, since we'd already decided to see the mayor and he could tell we didn't need any more convincin'. So the families were Muskgrove, Farbridge, Ferrington (hmm...), Blackburn, and Jeggare. We'd have to deal with all their politics if we started pokin' our noses around town. He also warned us that there was a criminal element in town, but for "powerful adventurers" like us, they shouldn't be a problem. Isn't that written on a lot of tombstones? "They were 'powerful adventurers', but the 'criminal element' got to 'em." Whatever.
So he wrote us up a letter that he'd confirmed that we'd cleared out Gillamoor, and we met up with Alembic and Forth again, and Llew, right there in front of them, asked me whether I wanted to go visit the temple of Calistria! So, I figured Alembic couldn't think must worse o' me anyway, but paladins get weird ideas about sex, and I don't even know whether dwarves have sex (I think they spawn from their beards, like when a mommy and daddy dwarf entangle their beards in a special way... anyhoo). So I just didn't want to go there with Forth around, and like I said, I'm not exactly Calistria's dream pupil, so I figured I'd give it a pass. Llew wanted to make sure, and I told her I was sure I didn't need to visit the temple. I started wonderin' just what she was thinkin' about with me 'n' Calistria, but whatever. I'm a stubborn gnome when I want to be. Which is pretty much all the time.
Our next task was to figure out a place to stay for the night. Alembic said that the "Inn & Outsiders" right across from the Temple of Asmodeus was the nicest place in town, so I figured we just had to go there first! It was a really fancy place, with all kinds o' otherworldly decorations 'n' stuff on it, and Forth started gettin' all nervous and hemmin' and hawin' and pullin' his beard 'cause he thought with a name like that it might have devils in it. I just had to roll my eyes. Well of COURSE it would have devils in it! You couldn't really call it the "Inn & Outsiders" with no outsiders in it, could you? I figured it'd be somethin' like the temple back home, where they bound little bitty devils to heat the baths and bite the naughty kids 'n' such, and I'd seen enough o' devils to know that if you didn't mess up your contract with them, they kind o' behaved themselves, other than tryin' to kill you all the time. But that wasn't any different than anyone else we were dealin' with, so I didn't really see the problem. Forth did, and he kind o' winced as we went in and the front common room was full o' men and women with horns and tails and other parts, all flirtin' and hangin' out with people who looked human, and the whole thing looked more like a devil brothel than an inn. But a nice devil brothel. And rules are rules to devils; I figured if I didn't ask for company, I wouldn't get any. 'Cause sleepin' with a devil is not on my list. An angel or an azata maybe, but a devil? No way! Too barb-y!
The woman at the front counter was beautiful, and almost pretty enough to make me go that way, but she was probably a devil so I decided that any kind o' experimentin' wasn't happenin' here. She asked me oh-so-nicely what I wanted, and I wanted a room with a giant bath, so she gave me the "undine room". I liked the sound o' that, 'cause if you left out the n you were in the "undie room" and that sounded all kinds o' fun. She asked whether I wanted company a few times in a few different ways, and I was careful and kept sayin', "No," then I remembered Yellow and asked whether she had a place for horses. She said I could take him up to my room if'n' I wanted to have that kind of fun, and I kind o' appreciated her openness, but no, Yellow's too cowardly for me. Llew kind o' blew up and said that I probably didn't even know whether Yellow was a boy or a girl, so I told her I'd smacked into THAT thing one too many times with my forehead 'til I learned that you shouldn't walk under ponies, so I knew for sure he was a boy. But I didn't want to sleep with him anyway.
So after all that work just to get a room with a bath and nobody to sleep with, everybody else decided they couldn't stay here! WHAT?!!?!? I refused to back down, and they set off to find their own place. As they left, a bunch of the horn-y guys in the front watched 'em go, but I figured I'd be safe enough. Devils and rules. They may be cruel, sadistic, twisted-minded bastards, but they DO like followin' the rules.
I went alone up to my room, and Oh My Sweet Calistria's Rosy-Cheeked Buttocks what a room! Half of it was a giant fancy-schmancy room, with a feather bed big enough for four or five big folk, or pretty much every gnome I ever knew. There were all kinds o' "accoutrements" hung around the bed makin' it clear it wasn't necessarily for sleepin', and then a writing desk, a chair for that, a reading chair, and all it was missing was a 'rithmatic table and I'd be in some kind o' bizarre Asmodean classroom nightmare. With sex. So that was the "land" half o' the room. 'Cause these Inn & Outsiders guys wanted to make sure you knew you were gettin' your money's worth, so I had my own personal lake. I figure even a big person would call it a swimmin' hole, so I shucked off a boot and dipped in a toe and... mmm... warm! Floatin' around in the pool were little trays, and on the trays there was ice, and on the ice were bowls o' fruit, floatin' around so you could swim up, eat your fill o' chilled fruit, and then swim on back to the bed, boff to your heart's content, and then sleep it off. Trouble was, I was alone. But meh, lookin' around the front lobby, anyone who'd come visitin' would be the wrong kind o' horny, and I didn't want that particular indulgence, thank you very much.
So I swam around, and ate, and didn't boff, and soon an attendant came by and made it very clear that I could order my own room "service" if I wanted to, an' I was all polite 'n' such and told her that wouldn't be necessary, but could she please have my things cleaned, so she took 'em off to get 'em washed up (minus the essentials of daggers and alchemicals, 'cause a girl can't be too careful), and I'd have padded around the room starkers just to enjoy the freedom, but the robes were soooooooo soft there was no way I wasn't goin' to wear one. Or two. But two got all awkward and I almost tripped so I switched back to one.
A little later there was another knock at the door from some gent who made his intentions clear, and I was beginnin' to think I'd misread the name o' the place and it was the "'In & Out' Siders'" or somethin', but he took a hint and shuffled off. Had the decency to sound disappointed and everythin'.
So, as I laid down to go to sleep, I started thinkin' 'bout us needin' to convince a LOT of people that the Jeggares were bad folks. Yeah, we had the evidence and all, but we had to survive presentin' the evidence to the people that mattered, and to convince 'em that we weren't just a bunch of cranks with a bone to pick against the Jeggares. We needed someone charmin'. And though I love Llew and Forth like a brother and a sister, respectively, Llew's only really good at bein' scary and tellin' us what kind of undead we're facin' and how to kill it (which is admittedly useful), and Forth's forte seems to be gettin' pounded on 'til we can bail him out. And healin'. He does a bit of healin'. Or scarin' kids with his beard. But we didn't have a "face man", and heck if I was goin' to let Alembic do the talkin' for us. I still didn't rightly trust the man.
So, Calistria's well-known for bein' "charmin'", so I figured she could help out with some pointers. So as I went to sleep, I fingered my holy symbol, and performed the er, um, "proper" rituals to get in touch with her, and went to sleep. So, I'm not much of a religious sort; I grew up in a temple of Asmodeus and I never saw him strollin' round in his boxers demanding his bacon 'n' eggs for breakfast or anythin', so I figured at best I'd just risked serious embarrassment just to get a decent night's sleep, and maybe some neat dreams. Instead, no sooner was I out than there she was, Calistria herself, in all her glory! And her voice was all breathy 'n' sexy 'n' powerful as she said, "So, you want to be more charming. I can help you. But first you must prove yourself worthy. Come to me. Please me."
And suddenly she was all lyin' there in my big giant bed with all the accoutrements 'n' stuff, and I figured even if I didn't normally swing that way, my goddess had just commanded me and I'd better dive in there and do my best. So I got to work, but it wasn't even five minutes before I felt a big old foot on my chest and she shoved me out o' the bed and right onto my butt with, "You displease me."
To add insult to injury, as I sat there, all naked and shivery on my bruised butt thinkin' that maybe Calistria was kind of a jerk, some hunky elf dudes materialized and headed over to her, and I was goin' to say that that totally wasn't fair, 'cause they had parts that I didn't and all, but I figured I'd already screwed up so I'd just keep my mouth shut and not get zapped or turned into a dwarf or nothin'.
I woke up and my butt still hurt and I was still thinkin' o' nasty rumors to spread about my goddess 'n' all, when I heard her voice in my head again. "Wish granted."
I suppose those elf guys DID do a better job than I did. I'd send 'em some edible flowers or somethin', but then I realized that gettin' the shippin' address for "hot nekkid ephemeral elf guys" would probably be pretty tough, so I dropped the idea. Instead, I decided to hop up and see what she'd done for me. I wandered over to the really nice mirror that was OF COURSE in the room and took a good look. And I could tell. I was prettier. Not a lot; not even so much that anyone other'n me or my relatives'd notice, if they were still alive. But my eyes had a little more lavender in them. My cheeks were a little smoother and a little rosier. My bust might've been a little bigger and bouncier, which would've been typical of Calistria, but bein' a gnome, I don't tend to measure such things, as anything bigger'n a lemon really is more'n is useful. I started tryin' to think charmin' thoughts, and I actually thought o' some! Calistria (and her elf hotties) had come through!
But next time can you kick me out o' bed on the carpeted side? Or maybe that was just payback for not visitin' her temple when Llew said I should. Ah, well. Live 'n' learn. Or die 'n' don't.
Anyhoo, sore butt and big boobs aside, I got the best night's sleep I'd had in ages, if not ever, so as I headed downstairs and into the common room I was in a great mood. Up until the lady at the desk told me that the suitor who'd visited last night had been an honest-to-goodness male gnome. Darn it! Ah, well, better safe than devil food!
So I met up with Forth 'n' Llew (and Alembic), and none of 'em noticed my eyes nor my boobs, so I figured the difference couldn't be all THAT big, plus I fit into my armor and everything, so maybe I was just imaginin' the whole thing. Didn't matter much. I knew I was charmin', so I was.
We headed into the Temple Market and it was amazing! I've never seen so much stuff for sale in my lifetime! Weapons, armor, doodads, giggledybobs, and even stuff I couldn't think o' quick names for lined every stall, all over the square! We had thousands to spend, but this was a market that could eat it up and swallow it whole without hardly a belch. As we made our first circuit (apparently you're supposed to look at everythin' first to figure out who's got the best stuff, then go back and buy it, and I didn't mind, 'cause I really wanted to see everything; especially the stuff they let you try out for free). But Alembic decided it was time to ruin my mornin' by givin' me lessons 'bout the families in town. And damn those Asmodeans to Hell; they'd taught me that if someone's teachin' you history, you've got to listen.
So Alembic yammered on, and I listened, and I learned a bit. The Muskgrove family, they're the most political o' the bunch. They make sure they get along with everyone, so there's always a Muskgrove mayor in town. While the Muskgroves didn't care one way or another 'bout the Jeggares, 'cause politics, we'd need good solid proof before they'd do anything against them. 'Cause political. Then came the Farringtons. I knew that name! They were the religious sort. Got along well with all the neutral religions (apparently especially Pharasma), but again, they didn't care much one way or the other 'bout the Jeggares unless the Jeggares were raisin' undead armies or somethin'. Go figure! Then there were the Blackburns, hated enemies of the Jeggares, and the head of the Asmodean temple here. Bingo! Asmodeans I could work with! They always thought they were oh so clever with, "Oh, Trig, you promised to eat your vegetables," and I'd say, "Well, I didn't mean it," and they'd tie me up and shove the vegetables down my throat 'til I nearly choked and said it would teach me to be Lawful.
It didn't. And it's kind o' fun to promise 'em stuff and then not follow through. But kind o' painful, too. But if the high priest hated the Jeggares and was an Asmodean, I could probably at least get him to promise to not be stupid or somethin'. Trouble was, after all those years with the Asmodeans I still couldn't make head nor tails of their deal-makin', but I figured it couldn't hurt, and he might be a useful ally.
Anyhoo, as my mind was wanderin' Alembic had been carryin' on, and he was now in the middle o' some kind o' lecture about the Jeggares. Apparently they would be a lot more powerful if they weren't always battlin' each other, but that pretty much meant if you heard about some assassination, or blackmail scheme, or bribery, you could pretty much finger it on the Jeggares, but they were kind o' like the Asmodeans in bein' careful not to get caught bein' so evil that a paladin might come along and smite 'em.
Up until now, at least. (Glance at Forth.)
So, every Jeggare house member specializes in some kind o' atrocity, so I figure we just have to figure out a way to off 'em all all Lawful-like and it'll all be good. The Farbridge family (of which Alembic is a member) works with the Jeggares on everything, to the point that everybody knows the Jeggares have something on 'em, but nobody knows what. Not even Alembic, apparently. See, that's the trouble with humans. Better to be embarrassed and thrown out of your boyfriend's bedroom window stark nekkid in a midwinter storm than to let him control your actions by tryin' to hide what's goin' on. Bein' free is liberatin'. I gotta get that framed!
Shoppin' was a little bit happy and a little bit sad. Forth showed me a weaponsmith he liked that had sold him some kind o' ghost-whackin' thing, and he had the whole blade-n-haft setup that I like, where you choose the blade you like and he has an artisan do the haft. So I got myself a nifty little mithral dagger magicked to be better at killin' undead, and went over to the artisan's wares. I chose a rosewood haft with a rose and thorn motif, and in my most careful writing I wrote out "Thorn" in Gnomish and had him engrave it along the wood, all stylistic-like and runnin' up the roses so it wouldn't be all that visible to anyone 'cept a fellow gnome.
You did well, Thorn. You deserve to be remembered.
After I had my dagger I had to go to a shop I didn't think Forth'd like all that much, but Llew watched my back as I got the most magnificent armor I know of: Some mithral chain that changes colors and textures with its surroundings so you can hide more easily, and I paid for the extra version where you could make the armor look like anything you wanted it to. So first I was in a dress. Then some trousers. Then a bunny outfit. Then Llew's outfit. Then Forth's. And a couple dozen more 'til I got tired 'cause the shopkeep said I was givin' him a headache so could I please just take the armor and go?
So I went.
I got some other nice stuff (a belt to make me more nimble, and an amulet to "toughen up my hide", as the salesperson said), but nothing else as good as the armor or the dagger.
Once we'd all finished our shopping, we decided it was high time to see the mayor and tell him about Gillamoor. There was the usual human stuff to deal with: A couple of less-important humans trying to make themselves feel important by keepin' us from seein' the important person 'til we made THEM feel important, but Llew showed 'em the writ from Father Ferrington, and that shut 'em up and got us in to see the mayor, without my havin' to complain too much. The mayor, he was a good sort. He took one look at me and challenged me to a "behavin' contest", which is a lot like "shut up time" only more polite, and I figured if he was goin' to be all polite when tellin' me to shut up then he was all right with me. So Llew and Forth told him about Gillamoor, and he hmmed and hawed and "wow"ed at the news, and seemed awfully impressed, then gave us another writ (humans do love their paper) that was good for 5000 cold hard cash from the Temple of Asmodeus, or credit from any o' the stalls.
It took some serious convincin', but I got everyone to agree to do the cashin' in at the Temple of Asmodeus, so Llew and I went in and I turned on my Calistria-given charm to get past the first toadie and go in to see His Darkness, Archbishop Blackburn. See? I learned something at the gosh-darned orphanage!
Speakin' o' the orphanage, I knew Asmodeans could spend hours negotiatin' every aspect of a meetin', even so much as to which Calistria-be-boffed tea to serve before they got started, and I didn't want any of that, so I just blurted out that we were here to collect the reward for clearin' out Gillamoor and I'd like to talk to him in private, please. So he shooed off all his minions and I told him we had evidence that the Jeggares were tryin' to raise an undead army and we could probably bring down their whole house and we might need his assistance but could he please behave himself and be patient for the moment, please. I've never seen an Asmodean grin so much. Seriously. No matter what kind o' punishment they were metin' out on me that day, no matter how much it hurt, nor how humiliatin' it was, nor how much the cleric doin' it was obviously enjoyin' himself, they all had nothin' on the manure-eating grin Archbishop Blackburn was sportin'. So he did a little song-and-dance 'bout how he couldn't really help us, 'cause even though we were makin' him happy he had to make sure there wasn't even a hint of impropriety in the proceedings (which made me wonder what the heck *I* was doin' there), but he gave me a black stone he called an onyx (like I could tell) and said he'd have someone get in contact with me.
Once we were done with that nonsense (and I swear, tryin' to get a straight answer out of an Asmodean is enough to keep a gnome colored for eternity. Or to fade a gnome in under a day. They give Lawful a bad name!), he cheerfully paid us, but made me count it all (as if I thought an Asmodean would cheat me on a deal), and we were on our way. Forth still wasn't happy with us, but at least we were together again.
We grouped up and decided what we were goin' to do next...
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I would think Trig would have to have a will of iron just to have survived through the Asmodean orphanage.
It was a running joke through the first few books that she failed EVERY Will save she had to make. Kind of the inevitable chaotic, "I know I shouldn't but it sounds like fun!"
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I guess the orphanage must have busted her will, just not in a way that they found useful, and maybe not even in a way that they even recognized. Of course, the Asmodean orphanage people were probably mostly low-level employees who just wanted to get in some abuse and be done with each shift, so what do you expect?
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 14B, Played 03-Jun-2018
So, since we needed more information, Alembic started yammerin' on again 'cause he's good at the kind o' thing, and he seems to like it, and I figure Forth or Llew'll figure out something he says'll be useful some day, so we let him ramble. Turns out his family (the Farbridges) were being blackmailed by the Jeggares over some kind o' letter o' credit that might've been bad, or might've been forged, or whatnot, but just goes to show that borrowin' money from someone you aren't adventurin' with is a right stupid idea. So the Jeggares had 'em over a barrel. I wasn't listenin' all that well (go figure), but near as I could tell, Aljerone was the head of the Jeggare family (or was it the Farbridges?), and was well-versed in war and the battlefield, hence was in charge of the guard. That made him(?) a Farbridge. Man, these people should just all be required to wear colored floral headsets and have a band followin' 'em around declarin' who the heck they are, 'cause I have a short attention span and I just can't be bothered. But I guess Aljerone Farbridge is the head of the town guard. If I'm wrong, I'm sorry. I just don't care. If I heard right, he's called the "Butcher of the Goblinwood" 'cause he went ahead and sent human-sized troops through underbrush to fight goblins, and they all got butchered. But that kind o' contradicts the "well-versed" thing, so maybe I missed a name in there somewhere. There was probably a pretty bug. So Justine Jeggare is a mistress of intrigue, and keeps the family afloat in town, whatever that means. So, Alembic? Can we just stick with, "Stab this person, leave that person alone?" No? I have to know all this? *SIGH*. OK, here we go:
There are two sons and daughters in the Jeggare family: Rufus, the older son, is a well-known coward who makes up for it by wearin' military uniforms with lots of medals. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me; I'd learn to hide and be quiet myself, but he's a Jeggare, so he's obviously insane. He thinks the world's out to get him. And we are. Calum is the younger son, and he's a little daddy's boy who hates Rufus. Obviously because Rufus got a better name. And you don't hear people say that about a poor sod named Rufus all that often. Freya's the older daughter, and she was widowed young under mysterious circumstances, and hubby's name was Blackburn, kind o' explainin' the hate. Sasha's the younger daughter, and she's happy that her parents gave their daughters sensible, non-embarrassin' names, but Alembic described her as a "social-climbing back-stabbing b$#%#". So the closest to normal, and the one Alembic's the most jealous of.
Between these yahoos, they run around 1/4 of the whole town.
Since I was bored and Alembic sounded like he was ready to keep goin' another hour or two, I suggested we just go to the first inn we saw on our way in (the "Wanderer's Inn" or some such), ask around about Stan, be obnoxious, start a big fight, and see what came of it. Forth agreed. I tried to signal to Llew to check him for possession, but I don't think she noticed. Alembic realized we were tired o' listening to him, so he said he wanted to go talk to his family first to find out what was goin' on with that letter o' credit. Now I understood why they shooed him off into the wilderness. I trusted him more, but didn't want to listen to him more. While he was doin' that, Llew wanted to go see Father Ferrington again. Yay! I could check on my chair!
We got there, he sat me down, and the chair worked perfectly and tried to kill me! Now THAT is a right and proper chair! So obviously Llew felt she could trust Father Ferrington more than she had before (I guess Alembic said something important after all), so she told him about the coming zombie plague and the fake antidote and whatnot. When he heard that it was the Jeggares that were causin' trouble, he told us that the Blackburns and the temple o' Asmodeus had tried to frame the Jeggares before, so we shouldn't take their help. Well, it was a little late for that, but I could shoo the agent off easily enough, I figured. And what's with getting people framed? I thought Asmodeus was all lawful 'n' such. Well, maybe this was a subsect or somethin'. While we and Alembic were busy, Forth went off and got a couple o' scrolls to protect us from death magic. Forth's a smarty every day.
Once we were all back together we headed over to the Wanderer's Inn. It was a lot more authentic than the inn inside the walls, and looked like one o' those places where you can start a fight without even thinkin' about it, and hire half a dozen swords, no questions asked, to do whatever you needed doin'. I always have mixed feelin's about such places: They're there to let people blow off steam and can be a lot o' fun, but they're pretty rough if you don't know how to handle yourself. I figured I'd cause some trouble and see what happened. There was a big ol' orc or half-orc guardin' the door (I can never tell which) and he told us not to cause any trouble, but he asked whether I was a real gnome and then got happy when I tipped him a gold piece and told him I was one. He yelled out to everyone to leave me alone, so I figured I owed him one. But first we went up to the bar and the barkeep asked me what I wanted. What does every gnome want? Something on fire!
He obliged with this wonderful burning concoction and I was so busy playing with it as it kept catching me on fire that I didn't have a lot of time to drink it, but that was neither here nor there. I was supposed to drink it, and it was on fire, and it kept catching me on fire. THAT was what was important!
So Forth and Llew started askin' the bartender 'bout Stan the Beer Man, and it turned out his shop was just 2 doors down and sold beer to all the places. The Bottomless Tankard got the really strong stuff, but the Wanderer's Inn got real top-of-the-line stuff. When it was obvious that there wasn't goin' to be any trouble, I figured I owed the orc one and went into the crowd and got underfoot. Sure enough, some clumsy drunken fella stepped on me, so I dutifully wailed pitifully and flopped about, and the orc got to throw someone out. I tried to do it again, but the other patrons could see me now, and actually tryin' really hard to get stepped on is kind o' mean, so I didn't do it.
We went over to Stan's and Alembic turned me invisible so I could sneak inside once Stan opened the door. Alembic may be talky. And annoying. And a gnome-hater. But he can be useful.
So Forth knocked, Stan answered, I slipped in and got into flanking position for Forth, and Forth just started blurtin' out all the stuff we knew Stan had done. I guess Forth was tired o' talking, too. Trouble was, Stan said he didn't know anythin', but was gesturin' at some picture o' some woman. Alembic gestured to me that I should flip over the paintin' so I went over and did it, but that didn't make Stan talk. He kept askin' where we were stayin' and said he'd talk to us there. Forth went ahead and said he had a room at the Wanderer's Inn (another paladin lie) and Stan said he'd meet us there. Everyone else left and I stuck around to see what Stan did. He just fixed the picture and went back to work, so I snuck out a window and met up with the rest of the party at the Inn. Turns out Forth had rented another room there, just to un-lie his lie. Clever paladin!
So our first visitor was some wiry guy who told us that Stan sent him. We bought him some food and drink and we learned Stan's sob story: Stan was a Farbridge by marriage, so he's part of that whole blackmail thing, and he's got a reputable business to protect. So see? That's the whole problem with bein' lawful. Some evil lawful person comes up to you and says, "Hey, if you don't do this, I'll ruin your life," and you know they mean it 'cause they're lawful. Then you say, "OK, I'll do that," because you want to save your family, and because you're lawful you stick to it. And you end up murderin' tens o' thousands o' people just 'cause you're not willin' to lie a bit or break your promises or whatnot. Me? I'd say, "Sure, Ms. Jeggare. Anything you say, Ms. Jeggare. I promise I'll be good," and then I'd hire that orc fella and a few more thugs and bolt all her doors and burn her house down to protect me 'n' mine. 'Cept I don't have "mine" any more, 'cept Forth 'n' Llew, and anyone who gives either one o' them trouble is in for it whether or not I get involved, so maybe I'm just talkin' big 'cause I don't have anyone I need to protect.
Anyhoo, 'cause o' all this lawful blackmail stuff, Stan needed Freya dead, and all the evidence she has against him gone, and it's all in this convenient alchemy lab where we "can find what we're looking for", which is pretty much always a threat, but we're not all that bright that way so I knew we were going to go anyway. So as a token of good faith, we got a bill o' materials for the place, including stuff like "pounds of bone" and "lengths of skin", all signed in Freya's hand so she was sure to go down, with Stan's name on none of it. All we had to do was take down the lab. Apparently Freya likes to call herself, "Mistress of the Hidden Veil", which is pretty funny if you think about it, 'cause if the veil is hidden it means your face is in plain sight, which means you're not hiding much of anything at all. 'Cept your naughty bits, 'cause it's not, "Mistress of the Hidden Undergarments", thought I think maybe I'll start callin' myself that 'cause it's kind of catchy and it makes me snicker.
Anyway, we wrapped up our business with the wiry guy, and a new guy appeared right next to us. We were really popular. He asked me whether I had the stone, and I said I did, and Forth said he was a devil so I figured Archbishop Blackburn had finally sent him to me. He started goin' through this whole rigamarole 'bout how we had to sign a pact and he was going to provide me with his master's services and I had to pay for 'em and whatnot, and it was the usual Asmodean devil nonsense where they can't even change the toilet paper in the bathroom without spendin' an hour debatin' who's gettin' screwed and who's winnin' the argument. Forth and Llew didn't want me makin' a deal with a devil, but I didn't have to sign in blood or anythin', and there was no, "And you surrender your soul" in there anywhere (I did listen for that, 'cause I know devils are tricky bastards), but it was just, "My master wants you to accept my services on his behalf but you have to pay me for 'em," nonsense I had to listen to for 20 years at the orphanage. Didn't make any sense then, didn't make any sense now, but I figured me 'n' Blackburn wanted the same things, and just 'cause the devil thought he was makin' a deal didn't mean I was goin' to follow through on anything I didn't feel like, so I went ahead and paid the devil its gold piece and told it we had a deal, and it got all happy and asked me what kind o' services I'd be wantin'.
And o' course, havin' listened to Father Ferrington 'cause he has a cool chair, I told it I didn't want any services, but could it tell its master (I didn't use a name 'cause I know they like that kind o' stuff, and I figured I shouldn't antagonize it just 'cause it's an evil slave o' evil) that we were going to investigate Freya Jeggare's alchemical lab that night. (I asked first to make sure it knew about it, so I knew I wasn't givin' anythin' away.)
So Forth and Llew were pretty livid with me for makin' a deal with some strange devil, but I figured "providin' services" probably didn't include soul-stealin' or whatnot, and if they did I'd just have to stab the devil a few times to convince it o' the error o' its ways. We were still arguin' a bit when a guy came in and asked to see my stone and said he was from Archbishop Blackburn.
OK. Maybe makin' the deal with the devil wasn't all that bright after all...
|Trig the Gnome|
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So, Llew and Forth were all over the guy, castin' their Detectin' stuff as he just sat there with his hands open, grinning like the gnome that won the alchemist's fire, 'til they told me he wasn't lawful, but he was evil. He congratulated us on bein' cautious, and said he was not there on behalf o' Archbishop Blackburn, as that would be unlawful interference or whatnot, but he did have a bone to pick with the Jeggares, so he'd be happy to help us. For a fee, of course! Well, I wasn't about to trust any non-lawful evil guy who came wanderin' in off the street, so the first thing I did was complain about Blackburn's security (or lack thereof), since someone obviously heard about the meeting and the stone and everything else, and so I was stuck between a devil and a no-goodnik and I couldn't rightly tell which was which. So he asked me about the devil, and when I told him I'd made a deal with it he got all uppity and, "Oh my goodness you're so screwed," and all that, and I told him I figured I could just ignore it or stab it or whatnot, and he said that was exactly what the devil wanted, and at that point I kind o' gave up 'cause devils and lawful people just don't make any sense to me.
So I was screwed and the devil was happy no matter what I did from here on out. Well, since there wasn't much I could do about it, I wasn't going to worry 'bout it, except I'd be a lot more careful accepting "services" in the future, and I figured Llew and Forth had been tryin' to steer me right, so I might as well listen to 'em. Couldn't hurt. Might help.
Anyhoo, the guy said he was an "expert information-gatherer" and could find somethin' out for us, so I didn't rightly figure what deal-makin' was goin' on but he got a free meal and he told us that the devil was from one of the five major families, and my general screwage depended on which family had sent it. So we hired on his first task to figure out which family had hired it. I figured there wasn't anything I could do. The devil was just going to laugh and dance and even if I burned the family's estate down and stabbed the devil in the eyes it would say, "I wanted you to do that," which is pretty stupid all in all, what with daggers in your eyes and everything, but I figured if a devil was goin' to be happy at me no matter what, I'd just act normal and figure that would drive it batty enough in the long run.
Revenge is a sweet, sweet game.
So we named the guy IGgy ("Information Gatherer") 'cause he didn't want to give us a better name, and Iggy sounds good anyway, and I gave him the stone 'cause I figured the devil had said it could use it to find me so whether or not that was true, I figured I didn't want it. I'm sure the devil would have laughed and said, "That's what I wanted you to do!", but it's good to want things. It builds character.
Then came a lot more lawful nonsense that I didn't rightly understand. Forth had rooms in two inns, and the guy told me I should pay Forth to protect me so that he could attack things that attacked me, and I figured that was stupid but I had some money so I gave Forth a gold, but he kept re-wording what he was goin' to do for me so often that by the time he was done I just made sure it didn't include beard groomin' nor carnal relationships and I figured I'd done as well as I could. Llew just offered to protect me for a gold. Llew's all right. Not lawful at all. There's a reason there's an "awful" in "lawful". In return, I ended up promisin' Forth I wouldn't stab anythin' 'til he said it was OK. I was sure I'd forget, but hopefully I'd remember long enough to make him happy. I like Forth. Under all that hair 'n' beard 'n' strange fear o' ladders is a heart o' gold. Or at least high-grade copper.
Once all the lawful stuff was out o' the way (and boy did I feel better once that was done), we started discussin' what do to about the alchemy lab. Llew still wanted to go that night, in spite o' the devil knowin' we were plannin' it. Forth wanted to visit it during business hours the next day. 'Cause sometimes Forth is an idiot. So next on the, "I hate lawful people" hit parade was that Forth didn't want us breakin' in the front door 'cause that'd be illegal; he wanted to go to the tunnel 'round back and see whether it was up to snuff or somethin'. Forth. Paladin o' Torag, building inspector o' Asmodeus. The sooner we got out o' Logas and Forth got back to normal, "Look! An evildoer! Let's kill 'em!" the better.
So it was dark, but not pitch black, and we made our way out to where the tunnel entrance was. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I was off having a tinkle when they found the trap door, all cleverly-disguised with grass 'n' such, so by the time I got there Forth just asked whether it was trapped and I said I didn't think so and he and Llew started tuggin' and pullin' on it, and Alembic made Llew stronger and she still couldn't lift it, and we all started wonderin' how the heck anybody was supposed to use the door. So while they were restin' between tugs I wandered over and gave it a pull, and found that the little latch thingy had gotten wedged in between some twigs, so I unloosed it and gave a little tug and the whole door swung open. I didn't say a word, but I'm glad inquisitors can't kill with a glare. Note to self: Next time check the mechanism before tinkling.
The door opened into a ramp down into the blackness. It was obvious someone was usin' this tunnel pretty often to move wheelbarrows o' stuff into and out o' the city without anybody knowin', but Forth started in with, "This looks like a security risk to the city! We should investigate it!"
Since I promised not to stab anyone without his say-so, I didn't stab him. But I was tempted.
Once we were all on the ramp we closed the door behind us and Llew gave us some light. I didn't pull out my ioun stone 'cause I figured the less light the better, and we moved on down the passage... and right into a guard room with 4 guards in it. One of 'em looked all skewy at me and suddenly I knew I was goin' to do anything she asked me to; even stab my friends. I gotta say, I was pretty pissed off. Nobody messes with my brain! But I was just standin' there, thinkin' angry thoughts 'bout how upset I was goin' to be 'bout stabbin' Llew, when Llew cast some kind o' spell that snapped me out of it! Thanks, Llew! (And for the record, Forth's so used to gettin' stabbed I don't think I'd've bothered him, and Alembic... meh... dangers of travelin' with us.)
So once we were all in our right minds we tried to charge in, but they were blockin' the door and Llew said they were drainy sorts and we shouldn't let 'em touch us. Forth said it was OK to kill 'em. So I tried tossin' a vial o' holy water at them, but again the stuff is slipperier than you'd believe and it skittered off to parts unknown. Llew did somethin' to protect us from the drains and Forth dropped one. Alembic... fell over. What the friggin' heck, Alembic?!?! So I danced on in and they couldn't touch me anyway, and Forth and Llew came in and started slaughterin' 'em. They took the hint and took to the ceiling to try to grab me. Alembic, continuing his strange journey, hit one in the face with his rod. Didn't do much, but it was funny. Once one o' the critters got to me, Thorn (the blade, not the gnome) bit deep and sizzled, and I got not one but TWO of them (yeah, Llew and Forth softened 'em up, but it still felt good). Forth finished off the last one, and Llew pronounced that these were vampire spawn, so there was a vampire in here somewhere and it was her duty to root it out, find it, and kill it. Yay, Llew! Nothin' lawful 'bout that!
Llew warned me that it took her a moment to protect us from the drainy guys, so I should do my best to distract 'em while she protected us all. Forth said something godlawful about how finding vampire spawn indicated somethingorother so he had to go investigate. You go, Forth. Justify yourself to yourself. Whatever keeps you with the party is OK with me. But do you have to say it out loud?
So they'd locked the door ahead and I removed that impediment and Forth didn't complain, but then I spotted a fire trap in the hallway ahead o' Forth. Oooooh, the temptation: Set it off to see what it did, or disarm it? I managed to slip up and do both! Woo hoo! Trouble was, I was so distracted slippin' up that I slipped up and got burned a bit. Nothin' a little wandin' wouldn't fix, but Forth, bein' all concerned 'n' all, was too close to me and he got burned, too. Ah, well. His beard looked better with a little smoke in it anyway.
I kept on ahead, lookin' for boomy fun, when Forth called out to me to stop. Well, more like "whisper-yelled" or "yell-whispered" or whatever, if that's a thing. But his keen dwarf senses (I giggle a bit just thinkin' that) told him that the tunnel up ahead was ready to collapse; the only reason I was safe was 'cause I didn't weigh all that much. Well, thank you very much, Forth, a girl DOES have to watch her figure! Oh, what? You want me out of there? Oh, kay.
So, it turned out the tunnel-users hadn't wanted us comin' in, so all the supports for the tunnel had been removed, to make it all unstable-like. Even worse, we were right under the city walls, so if the tunnel collapsed, so would the wall. Apparently this was the way the goblins got in back during the war, so this was probably another goblin tunnel they hadn't completed. Forth got even more uppity about town security 'n' all, and said he had to investigate further... but first somebody had to go find something with which to prop up the tunnel. The somebody was me, of course, and even at my size it was going to be dangerous, so I swallowed my precious, precious potion of Reduce Person and ran on ahead, stealthful-like. Alembic wanted to cast somethin' on me to help me carry more stuff, but I figured how much could a board weigh so I went on without it. I found the boards, and I had to admit, I was pretty disappointed with our would-be enemies. No booby traps. No guards. Just a pile o' boards sittin' by the side of the passage. That's some downright sloppy fortress defendin'. I tried liftin' a board and oog! I think I would've had some trouble if I'd have been full-size, but in my present condition the boards just wouldn't budge. So I skittered on back to Alembic and asked him if he pretty please wouldn't put the spell on me after all, and he didn't get snooty or anythin' and just put it on me like I asked, and by then I'd grown to my normal size so I had to walk all careful-like through the collapsy bits, but I'm good at that sort of thing so nothing happened. Once I got all the boards to Forth he started puttin' 'em up in a way that satisfied him, and I figured with him bein' a big ol' burly dwarf an' all, if the passage could fit him and his beard, it would fit me. Llew started helpin' him out, so I did, too, seein' as how I could lift the boards an' everything. Not a bad spell, Alembic!
So we got the passage all braced up and moved along, 'til we got to the end and there was a door. I checked it for traps and started openin' it, and that's when the scythe came down over my head and plowed right into Forth. Oooooh.... I keep forgetting to look UP for the triggers! What's with big people and puttin' the triggers so far up you can't easily reach 'em, anyway? So the trap sprayed me with some green gas, too, and I started feelin' a bit light-headed, but Forth cast somethin' to make me feel better, and said I had a few hours before the poison kicked in again. Ah, well, by then I should be safe in bed, ready to take some o' my antitoxin!
Once we got in, we found a room full o' barrels from Gillamoore: All the bones 'n' skin 'n' other parts 'n' stuff that said, "Evil". Llew wanted to poison it all with holy water, but I didn't have enough. I offered to burn it, but she 'n' Forth said we needed it as evidence, so I shouldn't. Who are you going to believe? A gnome or your own eyes? Stupid law!
As we were talkin' about all this, Forth started talkin' 'bout what I COULD or COULDN'T break, and the gist of it all was that as long as we were underground, it was OK to vandalize stuff. This was just all kinds o' opportunity, and I would've been busy for a couple o' hours, but Llew had business with a vampire to kill and would've grown impatient, so I behaved on her behalf and didn't go carvin' obscenities in various languages into the barrels, or setting up boomy traps on 'em, or anything fun.
I listened at the next door and heard somethin' move. That was enough for Llew, and she put Silversheen on her weapon. I wasn't going to say anythin', but that's why I always buy mithral: It's a little pricier at first, but what I save in alchemicals in the long run is worth it. I unlocked the door, then Forth had me stand back 'cause he's a carin' dwarf that way, and Alembic cast Open on it.
The room was another alchemical lab. I swear, if I were an older gnome, I'd probably just take to stabbin' every alchemist I ever met, 'cause they're ALL up to somethin' awful. I mean, they make all kinds o' fun stuff, and the jinglin' in my handy haversack'll attest to that, but I think they make all the good stuff just to help 'em finance their abominations. So Llew went on in and told us she'd found the vampire, and it was a she, and she'd tried to take over Llew's mind, but Llew doesn't care for that kind o' crap and just said, "No." Llew'd told me I was protected within 10' of her, so I ran on in, spotted the vampire lady, pulled out a flask of holy water... then remembered my promise to Forth. Stupid brain! Why remember that kind of thing NOW?!?!?
So I couldn't throw stuff at her 'cause I didn't have Forth's permission, so I just gave her a nasty glare. I figured that probably wasn't illegal, 'cause it's what Asmodeans like to do at gnomes all the time anyway. Knowin' Asmodeans, gnomes glarin' back probably IS illegal, but Forth didn't see me, so I figured I was safe. Speakin' o' not seein', Forth came rumblin' in and started yellin' like he couldn't see her hiding RIGHT THERE behind the desk! He went on longer than you'd think his lungs could hold air, but I figure paladins get a lot o' practice bein' long-winded, so he's probably a right good swimmer except in all that armor he'd sink like a rock, and I think dwarves are part rock anyway so even without the armor he'd probably sink...
...anyhoo, the gist of his whole speech was that undead have limited rights in the city, and it was OK for me to stab her if I wanted to. And I wanted to. She didn't like Forth's decision so she filled the room with some kind o' sticky web stuff. I was small enough to sneak between the strands, but without Llew or Forth helpin' me out I didn't know how much I could do. So while Llew and Forth worked themselves loose to get at her, Alembic sped us all up (thanks, Alembic), and Forth kept up with his speech and still couldn't see her! What's wrong with those beady little dwarf eyes? Did he get beard in 'em or somethin'? So instead of movin' up and hittin' her, he channeled, and she started smoking, and I figured that'd be good enough, but nooooooooo. The man's truly amazing. I had to wait for Llew to move up 'cause I didn't want my brain turned to mush, so while I was waiting Alembic made her all sparkly (pretty hilarious, Alembic) so that Forth could see her, she shot a couple o' scorchin' rays at me but missed (I think she was all upset at bein' sparkly), and Llew moved up so I could too.
Well, I didn't do all that well, completely missing her, but Forth decided to go wanderin' off around all the lab equipment to get behind her. Once he was flanking her, all three of us beat on her really well and she dropped pretty quickly. But when I say, "Dropped," I really mean, "Turned into smoke and started waftin' away." Llew told us we were now on a timer, and had one hour to find her coffin and permanently destroy her or she'd come back. Game on!
Trouble was, it wasn't so much of a "game" as "random stupidity". She turned into mist right while I was tryin' to hit her, so I fell face-first on the floor. Makin' me the lucky one 'cause a bunch o' bats came swarmin' into the room and bitin' everyone except me. Alembic told us we had to get all the way out of the room and through the other room and all the way out into the hallway 'cause he didn't want to destroy any evidence with a fireball, but there was a big ol' web between us and the hall, and I didn't think ol' barrel-sized Forth was goin' to find an easy passage through there, and Llew had that flappy coat that was sure to hang up on somethin' and it just seemed like a bad thing all 'round. As if to prove my point, Llew told me to go ahead and start a fire to burn away the webs, and they'd all deal with it. When the inquisitor's tellin' the gnome to start fires, you're in trouble! So I lit the fire like I was asked, 'cause it's what I do, and Forth ran through it, 'cause it's what he does, and he caught on fire pretty good, 'cause beard, but he's kind o' used to always bein' in pain, so he just ignored it and the whole mess o' us, Llew, me, the bats, Forth, and Alembic all went through all the burnin' and smokin' and it was really kind o' fun 'cept everyone was fallin' behind and gettin' bit by bats and maybe it wasn't as fun as I was thinkin'.
Anyhoo, we got into the hall and Alembic let out a big ol' boom and the bats all died right nicely, as did a lot o' the barrels o' evidence, but not all of 'em, so Llew and Forth told Alembic he did OK, and I figured anyone who could sling all THAT fire couldn't be 100% bad, either.
We started healin' up, and Ornery didn't want to work on me (I totally forgot what Ornery's name was supposed to be, which is probably why he didn't heal me), but he worked just fine on Alembic, just to show me he was mad. Maybe he's a she? How do you sex one of these things? So I started checkin' the wand for balls or nipple or somethin' that would tell me how I should address it politely so it'd work for me (OK, "it" is probably downright insulting. Or is it an "it"?). Well, my manhandlin' of it and checkin' for its private parts just set it off, and it shut down and stopped working entirely. So we moved on. The alchemical lab was whole 'cause Alembic and the others were smart that way, and the next room we found was a prison with a few people who'd been intentionally infected with ghoul fever. Forth cured one of 'em, I gave antiplague to the rest, I set 'em all free, and we told 'em to wait by the entrance, which they were more than happy to do. Forth said that intentionally infecting people with ghoul fever against their will was definitely illegal, but I figured Llew was queen o' this particular castle and she looked ready to stab some more people, so I figured I was good on my promise to Forth by now. This was even better when the former prisoners told us that in the next room over was a giant. Both me 'n' Forth got all excited 'cause us small folk get special trainin' 'gainst giants and the like, 'cause they like to eat us so much 'cause we're sweet and tasty 'n' all. Even better, the giant was guardin' a torture room, so we didn't even have to hold back.
Forth ran in first and took a whackin', so Llew followed him in and I came in after and...
...whoa! Wait a minute! That thing isn't a giant! That's some kind of tentacly, sewn-together abomination made up o' human parts and monster parts and all kinds o' other parts, all undulatin' and smashin' and making Forth bleed 'n' all. But I didn't even get much of a stab in 'cause Llew 'n' Forth just wouldn't hold no trek with that kind o' monstrosity, and they smashed it up really well really fast. Turns out it's an undead made up of tortured-to-death dead people, which is only a skosh better than tortured-almost-to-death alive people, but not by much. Llew noted that the torture instruments were really high-quality, and she didn't want to see 'em bein' used on anyone else, so she confiscated 'em. Just lookin' at her with her white skin and her while hair and her big coat and the torture instruments made me want to confess my crimes. 'Course I don't have any 'cause I'm a good person, but she looked like a bad-ass with them. Too bad undead can't feel pain.
We moved on and found a nice bedroom with a really well-endowed wardrobe full of women's clothing. Some of it was commoners' clothing, but with real soft fabric sewn in hidden-like so that you could look poor while feelin' rich, while some of it was just rich person's clothing. Alembic told us it was all in House Jeggare colors, but didn't have any family crests on it. I had no idea what that meant, but I figured it made it OK for me to wear it so I told my armor to look just like the nicest dress in the wardrobe. Done! Best. Armor. EVER! So we searched the bedroom but didn't find anythin' interestin', which I figure meant some undead lady was sleepin' in it (do vampires use beds? I was goin' to ask Llew but I didn't want to be on Shut Up time at the moment), so we moved over to the next room and found a study with a COFFIN IN IT! I opened up the coffin all excited-like, and Forth might have helped a little, and there was vampire lady just lyin' there like she was dead, and I suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doin'. So I asked Llew. Turns out she'd heard so many different things she wasn't 100% sure either. So we tried 'em all. I got out my garlic and stuffed her mouth with it, and we drove a wooden stake (well, a sharpened torch actually, but we figured wood was wood) through her heart, and cut off her head, and doused each end liberally with holy water, and eventually she just dissolved so I figure we must've done something right. We had a list. It worked. I was good with it.
Once we were done vampire-banin' we searched the study. We found all kinds o' stuff that made Forth grumble and harrumph. There was a delivery schedule that matched Stan's. There was evidence that Freya Jeggare collected people from around town, converted 'em into slaves, and then handed 'em off to her relatives. Rufus' (tee hee) "Bolthole" is some kind o' toy fort Rufus (tee hee) plays at, and she supplied him with some undead, 'cause I guess he liked 'em that way. She sent "male and female playthings" to Sasskiya Jeggare's Torture Chamber. Even better, we found out where they were so we could start rescuin' people. In Forth's mind, the "even better" was findin' the evidence the Freya had poisoned her husband, name o' Blackburn, and kind o' explainin' the bad blood between 'em. Finally, there was all the evidence o' her workin' with the female vampire alchemist (now deceased. Again) to make abominations. We had everything we needed to lock Freya up! All that was left was to finish cleanin' out the place.
So Forth was no longer objectin' on legal grounds so I went up to the next door and bent over to open the lock and some big guy in armor opened it up and whomped me on the head with a sword! How rude! So we started a kind o' sad fight 'cause these guys were alive, and human, and paid mercenaries, and just didn't seem very bright, but Forth stood in the door beatin' on them, and they stood in the door beatin' on him, and Llew was helpin' Forth, and me 'n' Alembic were just standin' in the back kind o' out o' the whole thing, and the whole time there was a guy in the back with his hand on an alarm pull in case things got bad for 'em. So I got an idea in my head, and Alembic turned me invisible and I climbed up to the ceiling and started shimmying my way in, figurin' that if there were no rope, there would be no reinforcements, but just as I got in the room Forth and Llew finally dropped a guy and Llew rushed in and like some kind o' badass bird o' prey she ran through the whole room and cut the rope. So, she stole my thunder. But I was invisible, so she probably didn't know. And if she did, good joke!
So since I was invisible anyway, I dropped down and stabbed one in the back and he dropped. The rest of 'em saw the way the wind was blowin' and surrendered. Someone had hired smart help!
So they worked for Sam the shop man, and they weren't allowed past the room. They just came in the shop, came down the stairs, made sure no one got past 'em, and pulled the rope if there was any trouble. OK. I'm takin' back the "smart help" bit. ANY time someone hires you and says, "Yeah, we'll pay you well and give you great equipment, but you're not allowed to ask any questions or look in the back," it's time to run. The money isn't worth it. So I checked out the alarm rope, and it was probably the most evil non-undead-makin' thing I've seen so far: The rope was attached to a big ol' alchemical bomb that would've blown up the whole place if they'd've pulled it. So everybody dies, all the evidence gets buried, and vampire lady eventually gassy-gassies her way out of the ruins safe as... safe as... well, safe as somethin'! My metaphor machine is missin'!
Since the guards weren't evil, we just tied 'em up and left 'em to be rescued later, and told 'em about and showed 'em the bomb, but I don't think they really understood it. Forth wouldn't go up to the shop (something 'bout the law again, I'm sure), so we had to go back out the way we came. Llew insisted on takin' all the prisoners straight to the temple of Pharasma for healin', and I figured that was as good a place as any, and we started discussin' what we were goin' to do next...
|Trig the Gnome|
|3 people marked this as a favorite.|
Entry 16, Played 24-Jun-2018
While we were walkin' back towards the temple, Llew asked me whether I could be charmin' to the prisoners to see whether I could find out anything more 'bout their plight 'n' all, but I'm still not all that 'customed to bein' nice 'n' all, but I tried 'cause I like Llew and she asked really nicely. So I let my eyes do their lavender thing, and I felt my chest armor get tighter (curse it, Calistria! That's not even funny!), and I started talkin' with 'em. I was kind o' relieved that the menfolk didn't pay any more attention to me than the womenfolk; at least Calistria didn't give them any sick ideas or anythin'. So what we learned was kind o' a lot, and kind o' nothin'. They didn't have any memory at all o' how they got imprisoned in the first place, and they knew about the guards, the vampire alchemist lady, and the necrocraft, but there was another lady that all of 'em had trouble rememberin'. All they could tell us was that whatever memories o' her they had, she was always wearin' a mask. Listenin' to this, both Llew and Alembic could tell someone had been messin' with their memories; probably the masked lady.
Forth and Llew started talkin' right there in the open 'bout what they were goin' to do with the evidence, and I told 'em I didn't even want to hear it, 'cause of the deal with the devil I made and all, but Forth said he'd take it and I started yellin' at him and he said he didn't mean literally and I shouldn't worry so much.
Once we'd talked about that too much, we all agreed that our next target had to be Sasskya Jeggare's Torture Chamber, 'cause we couldn't stand idly by while a bunch o' people were bein' tortured. We only knew about four, but we all knew it was goin' to be more than that. We couldn't exactly take our victims with us, and Forth had some stupid issues 'bout goin' in to the city at night (apparently it was illegal or somethin', but it's a city. Who's going to know?), so we headed over to the cemetery and the temple of Pharasma there. Since the people all had Ghoul Fever, the temple had to take 'em in, and Forth and Llew wanted some private time with the cleric so no devils'd learn what they were talkin' about, so they sent me into the graveyard.
Now, I try to be good, but when you send me alone into a graveyard at night with a bunch o' chalk in my pack, well, mistakes happen. But it was chalk. Nothin' I did was permanent. And I personally think a lot of the "corrections" I made to people's names and epitaphs were pretty funny. So I figured by the time I was bored defacing gravestones and I was through my first piece o' chalk was about the right time to head back to the chapel, so I went back and I was right and Llew and Forth were done talkin' and we were ready to move on.
Trouble was, Lawfulness again! I could not convince Forth that people bein' tortured were more important than some city ordinance about not comin' in at night! If Torag had half a brain he'd forgive him. Forth said that no, no he wouldn't, 'cause Torag knew Forth'd find the right way to do things. I finally kind o' exploded and asked him how he could possibly live in a Lawful city when they have such stupid rules, and he pointed out that HIS cities didn't let in necromancers and devils and devil-worshippers and the like, and I had to agree he kind o' had a point. Lawful + Evil = A really messed-up place. I wanted to argue anyway, but Forth started talkin' 'bout tactics, and how savin' 'em tomorrow with our full resources would be smarter'n rushing in half-cocked with all our resources depleted, so I looked at Llew and Alembic and Llew said she was about half-spent, while Alembic was mostly done. OK, fine. I had to admit, I wasn't particularly tired, but I didn't do a whole lot o' boomy stuff or stand there gettin' stabbed or killin' undead in a single blow or whatnot, so I relented. Llew started in on some big speech about how we couldn't allow our own hastiness to cloud our judgement and make us lose a winnable fight, and 'bout how fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and asked me whether I'd noted it all 'down for my journal, but while she was talkin' this big beetle black as coal was walkin' cross a rock in the moonlight and glistening real cool-like so I might o' missed a little o' what she said. So I just pointed out to everyone to be clear that my law was that if someone was enslavin' people and torturin' 'em for fun, I'd kill 'em. Llew and Forth said the law didn't work like that, and I couldn't make up my own laws like that. Stupid law.
So we went back to the Wanderers' Rest and I asked to stay in Forth's room 'cause I don't take much space and he said that was OK, so I got myself all settled in a corner o' the floor and took my antitoxin 'cause I knew Forth's spell would be wearin' off soon, and I guess it worked 'cause I slept soundly and didn't die.
In the mornin' we decided we were goin' to sell off the loot, so we were goin' to split up, with Forth and Llew goin' to the temple o' Pharasma in the city, and me 'n' Alembic goin' shoppin' to replace all my disposables. It wasn't my favorite company, but I'd rather have Alembic than nobody, and that's sayin' somethin'. So I took him by the hand and started tryin' to cheer him up on the prospect by callin' him, "Daddy," but he didn't even crack a smile. Tough crowd. But as we headed down for breakfast, Iggy was there enjoyin' some kind o' huge feast, and told us he knew more 'bout my devil. He's (apparently he's a "he") an "Accuser Devil" hired by the Jeggares to dig up dirt and blackmail material on his victims. I nearly fell over laughin' right there, but it would've been disrespectful, 'cause Iggy had done a bang-up job. So I figured the devil'd be busy at the orphanage in Umok for at least a few days, since the headmaster there was really proud o' talkin' about my "thick file" and my "permanent record" and whatnot, and I kind o' took it as a challenge to try to make it bigger 'n' all the other kids combined, but it was hard 'cause the Asmodeans are kind o' keen on corporal punishment and the like, so you can only do as much as you can heal from, and then you gotta behave 'til you're healed, and only then can you start addin' to your record. Like I said, it was kind o' a challenge. But I figured the devil was in for a LOOOOOOONG couple o' days readin' 'bout me, then he'd look for somethin' to embarrass me, and that got me thinkin' 'cause I was tryin' to think of what you could do to embarrass a gnome, but I could only think of failin' to help a friend or somethin', and that's embarrassin', but it's something you gotta own if you're ever goin' to get better, so why pay someone to hide it? I never understood why humans paid to hide things from other humans, but now I was glad I didn't have anythin' to hide. Good luck, Mr. Accuser Devil. I think I will name you, "Saddy."
About the only bad news Iggy had was that the deal I made with Saddy wasn't necessary; he could do all that work to no purpose without my permission, so it made no sense that he'd come up to me 'n' such. Iggy figured it was the Jeggares tryin' to mess with my head, but I figure the Jeggares are evil and wicked and vicious, but they aren't stupid. The deal means somethin', and maybe Saddy'll tell me just to try to get my goat, but I figure naming him Saddy is punishment enough for now. Like Iggy and Forth said, I can't just stab him, and anything I do to try to stop him's just going to make him say, "I wanted you to do that," so let him have at my permanent record and my butt scars and my tawdry non-sex-life and whackin' my forehead into Yellow's schlong one too many times while tryin' to walk under him and I think he'd have quite a tale. O' pretty much nothin' I care about.
Anyhoo, Llew had me pay for Iggy's breakfast (5 gold pieces?!?!? What did the man eat?!?!?), then she paid him a gold as a retainer 'cause we didn't have work for him at the moment, and he went on his way, and Llew and Forth went on their way, and Alembic and I went on our way. I got myself refills o' everythin' I thought I needed, plus some extra holy water 'cause I seemed to keep droppin' it, plus a scroll for Llew (OK, she kept tellin' me what to get and I kept forgettin' so she just told Alembic and he bought it. But I carried her money for her!), then we met up with Forth and Llew. Forth was still all uppity about whether it was legal to invade a house of torture, so I suggested we stop by the temple of Asmodeus and ask. That finally shut him up so we headed up into the slums to find out what we could.
The torture "palace" was anything but; it was a run-down old manor that seemed like it had been burned down during the goblin wars and then spit on by the gods since then to put the fires out. The grounds were covered with dry, dead weeds, and the barely-standing walls were full o' holes. In some places there was still a bit o' roof, but I don't think I'd have gotten much sleep sleeping under such precarious structures. There were a lot o' poor beggars livin' on the grounds, wanderin' in and out and eyein' us suspiciously, but none of 'em had the gall to actually approach us. I suggested to Forth that this place probably wasn't up to buildin' codes in the city, so he should investigate, bein' all legal-like, and he kind o' growled at me and told me that wasn't how the law worked (as if he understood it either. I think he just makes it up just to mess with me), and he'd appreciate it if I didn't try to help him with the law. Yeah, I could understand that; when two people are makin' up a story it's bound to get all convoluted. But isn't that what everybody says 'bout the law? It's too convoluted for anyone to understand? Yeah, I think it's a bunch o' guys makin' up rules, and they keep contradictin' each other, and they make up stuff to make it all work out and it gets all confusin' and...
...anyhoo, we were there. Homeless people. Forth commented that it didn't seem to be anyone's property. I didn't even try to ask whether or not that was illegal. Even better, Alembic said that it had formerly been a "summer estate" for his family. Who on God's Green Golarion builds their summer home in the same city as their regular home?!?!? I knew Alembic was messed up, but this was just the pudding on the cake that said his whole family was loco.
Just as I was startin' to get entertained by this whole fiasco, Llew said we'd been spotted by lookouts, but she didn't know whose. Didn't matter much; if they attacked, I got to stab 'em. I'd learned that rule! Good rule! Anyway, Alembic could see that I was bored so he started tryin' to talk to the poor kids. I swear, go to any city, anywhere in the world, and watch a noble try to talk to poor kids. It's kind o' funny and kind o' sad at the same time. "Hey, kids! I'll give you a copper each if you tell me what I want to know!"
Well, having been on the streets for a couple o' years 'til Asmodeus saw fit to "protect" me (more like protect the streets from me) by takin' me in, I knew the drill: The guys as walk up and just give you money are usually pretty OK, as long as you don't get within their reach (learned that with the Asmodeans). The guys who want to pay you in exchange for somethin' are always up to somethin', and you can usually make a tidy sum by leadin' 'em around a bit. First thing I did was scramble up Forth, 'cause gettin' trampled wasn't on my list o' things to do, and Forth's armor and beard makes him real easy to climb. And he's kind of pleasantly scratchy and earthy. Like a big mossy boulder that's been warmed in the sun. So I watched from my perch, bemused, as the kids gave Alembic the good ol' fashioned runaround, and watched him raising the stakes from a copper apiece to a silver for the kid who came up with the best information. I started bettin' to myself as to whether they'd manage to get him up to a gold before he got too frustrated with the game and chased 'em off. They were playin' it really well. I decided I liked 'em. 'Specially 'cause they seemed to be tweakin' Alembic a bit. Then... then... (sorry... hard to write... gigglin' too hard).. Alembic didn't have any copper to give 'em!!! Way to alienate the kids, Alembic! So as they were messin' about and Alembic was givin' 'em silver and tellin' 'em to divvy it up and they were killin' each other over the silver I hopped down from Forth and used my best big-girl voice (kind o' hard when I'm still so young, and they all outweighed me by at least two times), and ordered 'em to line up. They ignored me, o' course, as expected, but as expected one guy came over to mock me by standin' in line in front o' me and dancin'. He got a gold for his troubles. You've never seen a line form so fast! Cost me 9 gold, but I got the kids all sorted and stopped 'em from killin' each other, and Alembic had already convinced 'em to lead us to one of their families, so we were good.
We got led back to the kind of poverty-stricken family that just breaks your heart: They live in a Lawful land, so they think they're all safe and protected 'n' such, but they're just more victims bein' led along because they're too scared to leave. Better to face the vast expanses of grass outside the walls (*shudder*) than to die without a fight inside them. But here they were. And the story was pretty much exactly the kind o' horror story you expect every time you visit this kind o' encampment in an Asmodean area: People disappearin' without a trace? Check! Asmodean church unwilling to do anythin' without payment? Check! Guards unwillin' to do anythin' 'cause it isn't their property? Check!
I was really hopin' Llew 'n' Forth would figure somethin' out soon, 'cause I really needed to stab someone.
So I sat there quiet-like, 'cause I've learned that Llew and Forth don't like it when I talk to people when they're tryin' to talk (Llew says I "confuse the issues", an' that's probably true 'cause I don't know what the issues are, 'cause I'm distractible-like). So, two of the missing people matched descriptions o' some o' the people we rescued, so we could at least give the family the good news that some of their "neighbors" were alive, and receiving treatment, and might someday be OK. OK. Maybe not good news. We gave them the "not as terrible as it could have been" news. But it did tie the kidnappings in with the Jeggares, which was fine with me. After sittin' for a while I was imaginin' stabbin' a Jeggare when one of the people thanked me as a follower o' Torag. Yeah. I was pretty much hopeless for a bit after that. I'm just glad I didn't wet myself.
Llew was razor-sharp, inquisitin' like there was no tomorrow. She learned that no one had seen their friends disappearing, but some of 'em had strange lapses o' memory. Then she shot up straight, which is kind o' scary in our company 'cause Forth isn't all that tall, I'm bitty, and Alembic slouches. He does! She grabbed a teenager out o' the crowd and said that he knew somethin'. I was as shocked as the families around me, and I wanted to hear more. Once Llew is done inquisitin' she should start a mystery theater! She'd be great!
Anyhoo, Forth, being a dwarf with a heart as big as a mountain, broke out all his rations and shared it with the gathered families. Llew followed suit, keepin' "I know somethin'" kid next to her and buildin' suspense. She's a showwoman through and through! I'd have given 'em some gnome rations, but the last batch I bought had been the "special" kind and I didn't want any of 'em gettin' hurt.
So once the group was taken care of, Llew started in on the scarin' of the kid. And I swear, that kid scared easier than an ice faerie at a gnome birthday party! He spilled his guts so fast I figured Llew could find out his secret crushes, sex habits, and anythin' else she wanted to know. 'Course, her bein' a proper inquisitor she didn't ask any of that like I would've. So he told us he'd seen the culprits, and they looked like guards, except for one guy with a hunched back. And they took people to a copse of trees in a far corner o' the property, and if we could climb a bit he could show us. Everybody looked at me. I grinned and told the kid to do his worst. He went across a rickety old roof that wouldn't o' held half a Forth, or maybe even a third, but I was a lot more worried 'bout the kid than I was 'bout myself. He was OK. I was good. 'Course, I weighed a third as much as him AND he's human, so he was pretty darned good if you actually look at it fair-like. So he showed me the window and pointed out the copse o' trees, and I did my best to mark it, 'cause I'm not very good with the wilderness, even if it is just a big manor yard, and I slipped him a gold real secret-like. 'Cept Llew saw me do it and chastised me for rewardin' her marks. Note to self: Hide stuff from Llew better.
So, we knew where we were goin', we had people to stab, and daylight was burnin'. So we went, right? Nope! More legal stuff. Llew suggested to Alembic that his family rent the place out to the families already here in exchange for them fixin' up the place. That way they'd get legal protection and the guards'd have to help 'em. Both Forth and I had to admit it was a good idea, and when we agree, you know it's either great or awful.
Once we were done with our awful lawful stuff, we went over to the copse. Looked like any other bunch o' trees to me. Llew asked me didn't I see that the other areas of the yard were somewhat tended, with the branches cleaned up 'n' stuff, and this particular copse wasn't? Nope. Didn't see it. Llew just sighed and rolled her eyes in that way she gets when she finally understands that her explanations don't make any sense. Forth Detected Evil on the copse and it was evil, whatever that means. Were the trees going to eat us? Did I need an axe? Should I grease up? They kind o' ignored my questions and went in to investigate, so I followed 'em. Once we were in the copse it felt all creepy 'n' cold, 'n' Forth told us we were in an Unhallowed area. I paid enough attention in school to know that that meant that undead would be stronger, so I pulled out Thorn. Maybe 5 or 10' in through the thick undergrowth everything suddenly went quiet. TOO quiet. It was an unnatural Silence field. So we stepped out, Llew and Forth buffed up, and we went back in. Alembic didn't look like he was goin' to enjoy this trip too much.
Through the underbrush was a clearing about 15' across, deathly silent. In the middle o' the clearing was a bloody altar with a bunch o' religious symbols around it. I couldn't make heads nor tails of 'em, 'cept I think one of 'em said, "I worship a god that likes it when you stab me," so I figured that had to be the law here, so Forth'd be OK if I stabbed first. Bein' curious and knowin' that the Asmodeans always like to hide nice stuff in the altars, I clambered on up and started searchin' for secret cupboards. While I was up there, the whole world moved! Or at least the altar! Llew and Forth had found a secret latch that let the whole altar slide aside. Who woulda thunk?
Under the altar were stairs down into the blackness, so Llew lit things up for us and we headed down a well-carved passage, 10' wide, 10' tall, and with a nice archway at the bottom o' the stairs. The Silence and Unhallow ended once we were underground, and Forth told us that this place was much older than the altar; probably a family escape tunnel. Now see, that's what's wrong with "lawful" and "noble" and all those ideas: If you're buildin' your summer home, and you feel the need to put in an escape tunnel, then you just aren't livin' your life right. That's all I'll say, 'cause I don't want to offend Alembic. Well, that's not true, but I'm kind o' savin' up so I can get in some big-time offendin' and see how red I can make him get. I'm takin' bets. With myself.
So we went through the arch that was decorated all evil-like (do they bring kids here?), and someone put in some kind o' pit trap in front of a tricky locked door. Trouble was, they didn't do a very good job hidin' the lines, and once you see it it's easy not to step on it and get to the mechanism and just make it a whole lot o' work by your laborers who you probably abused and underpaid and might've murdered to hide the fact that you dug a pit 'cause you're an evil monster and you can't even bother maintainin' it 'cause you murdered 'em before they could tell you how to hide the cracks but...
I disabled the pit and picked the lock and Alembic used Open on the door. We found a nice sitting room. Someone'd put an Alarm spell on it, so I turned it off for 'em. The room was full o' teas and liquor (Alembic said they're "cordials", but they smelled a lot more liquor-y than friendly to me), and Alembic said the whole room and all the art was done up in "Logas" style. I'm sure he thought it was important.
The back door o' the room had a locked door that said, "Do Not Enter". I figured we were gonna have trouble with Forth, but Alembic just said, "You have my permission to enter," and that was that. I decided to try it, and scribbled out the "Do Not" for Forth while he wasn't lookin', but I got that same, "You're not helping, Trig," look he always gives me when I try to be nice to him. So I opened that lock and we got to a short hallway with a door at the other end. Turns out THIS particular hallway was designed by a gnome! 'Cause when Alembic cast Open at the door at the end of the hall, the door at the start of the hall closed! It was really pretty delightful, 'cept Forth and Llew were on one side o' the closed door, and Alembic and I were on the other. I figured Llew 'n' Forth were smart enough to figure out what was goin' on on their own, so I gave 'em a few seconds to get out o' the hall and into whatever was beyond it, then Alembic and I went into the hallway and opened the far door into... a fight?!?!?!
There was some big cyclops thing swingin' a big ol' club at Forth, and Forth was flailin' about like he'd forgotten everythin' he knew 'bout fightin', an' Llew said that Forth was blind but the mummy-cyclops-thing had the milky white eye and I didn't know what the heck was goin' on but I figured stabbin' it'd be a good start. Trouble was, it had all these bloody runes all over its bandages and it looked like I might be able to figure 'em out if I stared at 'em hard enough, so while Alembic was makin' us faster and Forth was flailin' about and Llew was tearin' it apart, I was doin' pretty much nothin' but lookin' and pretty bandages and wavin' Thorn about uselessly. So Alembic finally got tired of the whole game and dropped a Fireball in the room. I don't know why it didn't singe poor blind Forth, but it didn't, so good on Alembic!
Unfortunately, I could tell what kind o' room this was just by lookin' at the remainin' half of it. People's belongings were piled in careless heaps all 'round the floor. The kind o' piles you make when you know the people aren't comin' out again alive, and you just don't want to spend the time pawin' through their stuff for loot 'til they're good and locked away. Somebody needed to die today. But first, we had to deal with the fact that our favorite dwarf (who says stuff like that?) was blind, and we needed to get 'im patched up. 'Cept Alembic's Fireball had burned away most o' the next door and the people inside had heard us and they were screamin' for help and it could've been a trap and it could've been real people, but me 'n' Forth kind o' agree on the whole "tortured slavery" angle and Llew doesn't seem far off, so we decided we were goin' to go on ahead, blind Forth 'n' all. It wasn't hard to get through the burned-out door (more had to watch to avoid gettin' a burn than to worry 'bout gettin' through) and the screams were easy enough to follow, so I opened that door and somethin' tried to grab my mind again but this time Llew's Magic Circle protected me! Thanks, Llew! Whatever it was, it had big long claws and fangs and was all nasty-skinned and said it was goin' to drink Forth's blood, so I figured it was another variety o' vampire, and I was just goin' to make sure this one was as dead as the rest. The thing ripped up Forth pretty badly, but I could tell it was usin' rogue tricks so it'n' I could sit there all day exchangin' blows and I'd probably come out on top 'cause o' Thorn hatin' undead 'n' all, and the fact that Alembic was sittin' back there hurlin' Magic Missiles at it. Trouble was, Forth was in the way. 'Til he wasn't, 'cause the baddie dropped him like a sack of rotten dwarven potatoes with no eyes (get it? Blind? No eyes? Anyhoo...).
I slipped past the rotten thing so that Llew could get in a shot, but it was a trap, 'cause it made me go outside of Llew's circle. He said, "You work for me now!" and I said, "No I don't!" and Llew got to stab him, which was really satisfyin'. So between the three of us we beat him down, healed up Forth, did the good ol' stake-and-beheading-and-holy-water-and-garlic thing to the corpse (kind o' funny: If you do that to a normal person's corpse, they accuse you o' bein' a cannibal preparin' a nice evenin' feast. If you do it to a vampire corpse, nobody bats an eye).
So he had this thing called a "key" on him, which is a wonderful device that opens locks without you havin' to take the time to pick 'em! It kind o' takes away the fun and the challenge, but if you're ever in a hurry to free a bunch o' enslaved prisoners, use a "key"!
So, we found six men and women, all taken from the slums, and all given Rings of Sustenance so that the jailkeeps wouldn't have to look after them. Expensive, rich so-and-sos they are! We talked for a while about what to do with the rings. Forth and I wanted to give 'em to the kidnap victims to rebuild their lives. Llew wanted to let them sell one, and have us keep the rest, since one ring was enough for all of 'em. Alembic stayed wisely silent. Llew made a good argument that we were the only thing between more o' these people bein' taken and the kidnappers, so we needed to get more money to get better stuff to kill better kidnappers. Or something like that. But I patted Thorn and I realized Llew was right; One ring would feed everyone on the grounds for a couple o' years, and the other five'd get us some better gear to better deal with this threat. What good's bein' well fed if you're dead? And if you're dead and still eatin', I guarantee you're eatin' the wrong kind o' stuff.
Anyhoo, we looted the dead vampire, too, and started searchin' around for more evidence and fun stuff like that, when lo and behold Llew found a scroll that'd cure Forth's blindness! How convenient! We used it and we had our good old Forth back! A few taps with some wands (Ornery got mad at me... again, but Forth made him behave and heal me up), and we were good as new! Less a few Fireballs and Magic Missiles and the like.
We had the prisoners wait in the nice lounge and help themselves to the tea and liquor; er, "cordials", and Llew and Forth checked 'em off the list o' people who were missin' from the families we'd talked to upstairs, and we moved on down a loooooong hall. I unlocked the next door and found a broken man. The kind Calistria pretty much teaches, "If anyone does this to someone, kill 'em for me," but I was already plannin' on doin' that so I figured Calistria'd be pleased. He just wanted to do anythin' we asked him to, and torture him 'n' hurt him and all that whatnot, so I was pretty relieved when both he and Llew asked me to lock him back in the room 'til we were done. Unfortunately, his name was Douglas, and he was on our list. Poor Douglas! No single Ring of Sustenance would pay for the magic to bring him back, but Llew had no problem agreein' we needed to make sure his brain got fixed. The next room was Tabitha in the same condition, only a girl. Of course. Gotta have matching sets! The next room was a woman's private chambers, complete with bed, jacuzzi, restraints, kinky outfits in silk, leather, rivets, oily solvent that I didn't want to ask about, and a bunch o' lewd paintings o' what could only be her previous "activities". But o' course no faces, ever. All the witnesses saw her in a mask. All the paintings were of the victims, not her. So she may be a depraved, sex-starved lunatic with aims on world domination, but at least she isn't stupid.
The next door didn't seem any different from the rest. Just a simple, nondescript door. But I heard a woman order someone to kill us all (kind o' ordinary for us) and then activate some kind o' magic item. Probably either buffin' up or runnin' away. So we took our positions and Alembic opened the door. And gushers of blood started flyin' everywhere! Which would've been bad enough, even if it hadn't been Forth's. But there was some nasty skeletal critter in full plate wielding a greatsword just tearin' Forth apart, and wherever his sword hit sizzled 'n' burned and Forth was in a bad way before we could even hear what it was or how to kill it. I'll never forget the look in his eyes as Forth glanced over at us, said, "It's been a pleasure working with you," and didn't heal himself but instead did his smitey thingy and laid into the creature. I moved in to help, but only then did I see the four people trapped in torture devices that had been left on and were even now killing them! If I weren't a well-bred girl I'd have some choice words for that woman!
Alembic sped us up, but it was too late. The skeleton knight brought its sword down on Forth, and all of us could tell it was a killin' blow. I didn't even have time to register his passin' 'cause the thing hit me next, and I nearly passed out from the pain! It hit harder'n anythin' I've ever been hit by! I saw our lives passin' before my eyes, and was just so angry that this Jeggare was goin' to get away with keepin' doin' this to people, and Forth was dead and I was gonna die and...
...I should never forget about Llew. Llew was Death to the Undead incarnate. You could feel the rage as she stepped in. If I'd've been the skeleton knight, I'd've dropped a log. 'Cause she didn't care any more, and she brought her sword down on him again 'n' again and bits 'n' pieces of him flew everywhere and I think he just didn't want to face her any more 'cause he just dropped. But we didn't have time to mourn or heal 'cause there were people as needed savin'. The switches were apparently pretty complex 'cause Llew 'n' Alembic just tried to keep people alive 'til I could get to 'em, so I tried to choose well. I first got the guy who was about to fall into a molten pit, while Llew pulled out a guy who was drownin', and Alembic tried to use a healin' wand and it got mad at him. Yay! It's not just me! My next guy was in an iron maiden, then a guy on a rack, and finally drownin' guy. With the people saved and no time to rest, we opened the final door into some kind o' observation room where some sicko could watch all the torture.
Now that we knew we were safe, we started gatherin' everythin' we could. First, we bound up Forth's body and Alembic made Llew strong so she could carry him. Then, we started gatherin' evidence. The body parts that were bein' used as trophies apparently didn't count, but the "Thank You" note from Sasskiya to Freya for the "well-trained entertainers" was pretty damning, as was the letter from Sasskiya to Calum that his "entertainers" were ready and would be delivered "within the week". They'd be delivered to a secret door on the west side of his brothel, straight into his private pleasure house. Now we knew how to get at Calum, as long as Forth was OK with it. 'Cause yeah, I'm no math whiz, but we just got somewhere around 8 to 12 Rings Of Sustenance, and a handful o' those are surely enough to raise an ornery dwarf! 'Cause yeah, I knew Forth'd want to come back and continue the fight. Kronk had just been some big dumb brute lookin' to make a name for himself. Thorn found peace when he freed Gillamoor, so I think he'd've thought his work was done. But Forth? Forth has things to do, and bad guys to slay, so we're bringin' him back, Lawfulness and all! (Though I should ask the priest whether he can tone it down a bit.)
The last bit o' fun in the desk was a booklet on Norgorber, showin' that Sasskiya had been imitatin' Norgorber's rituals 'n' stuff to try to frighten off anyone who went into the copse. So, a proper vengeful person would've told Norgorber 'bout this, and I think it's what Calistria might've done. But I don't let others get my vengeance for me; I want to stab Sasskiya myself. Maybe Calistria thinks that's better, and maybe she thinks it's worse, but I don't want to think about the kind o' damage followers o' Norgorber would do to Sasskiya's prisoners. If *we* do it, I know the prisoners'll get taken care of, and that'll help me sleep better at night.
We gathered all our prisoners, got 'em out, reunited those as needed reunitin', and gave 'em their promised ring. Then we told 'em to hide. They told me I wouldn't be able to find 'em if they did. I told 'em that'd be good, and Llew figured somethin' out, but there was a really big beetle tryin' to crawl onto Forth and I was havin' none of it but it was a squidgy little thing and I was havin' trouble catchin' it so where was I now?
Anyhoo, Llew took Forth straight to the temple of Pharasma while Alembic and I went to the market to get some ready cash. I admit it. When I got back and Forth was back with us I gave his leg a great huge hug, 'cause I can't reach any higher and that beard just scares me. Turns out the skeletal knight that had killed Forth was a "graveknight", and Llew got a bounty for killin' it. Good on you, Llew!
We decided to let Forth rest and recuperate for the day, as we planned our next move...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Entry 17A, Played 01-Jul-2018
Forth looked at me all serious-like and gave me a formal thankin' for helpin' slay the graveknight and recover his body. It was really sweet! And he didn't even act like he was swallowin' a sea urchin when he said it; he really really seemed to mean it. Forth is good people! So's Llew! And Alembic? Well, I guess he kind of grows on you. But so does fungus. So there's that.
Anyhoo, now that he was alive again Forth had to go back to bein' all legal (I would've made him go illegal places and walk the wrong way down one-way streets when he was dead, but Llew probably wouldn't've liked it much), so between Calum's sex slave ring and Rufus' bolthole, it was more illegal to have undead in the city than to enslave, torture, and kill living people, which just goes to show that the law's all messed up and can't be trusted. So it turned out that the law against undead in the city was passed by House Farrington, so Father Farrington was pretty happy we were goin' over there to shut things down; in fact, he seemed to know a little 'bout the place. And that's my problem with "Lawful". You know someone's up to no good, and you know it's against the law, but you can't lawfully go in there and beat 'em senseless and throw 'em in a prison? What's up with that? And seriously, House Jeggare! Another "bolt hole"? Like I keep saying, if you'd just behave yourselves and not try to torture and murder innocent folks left and right, you wouldn't need all those escape tunnels and bolt holes. Calistria knows I don't have any!
We went back to the Wanderers' Rest, which I didn't like 'cause it was outside the city walls, but Forth had a room there and needed rest, and I'll freely admit I was in his room most o' the night, wide awake and watchin' over the big lug. He's a dearheart, but he doesn't know how to get out of the way of a blow to save his life. Literally! All he'd need right now would be some Jeggare-sent professional assassin to fight unfair and he'd be toast. Fortunately, I'm a gnome. Unfair runs in my blood. But nobody showed up, and I was happy, 'cause I was worried 'bout Forth, 'cause he wasn't as rosy-cheeked as usual, and his beard didn't even growl at me or threaten to eat me, so I knew he was a bit off his game. But bein' Forth, and knowin' people were in trouble, he was gonna keep goin'. That's why I love Forth! He and I see eye-to-eye when it comes to savin' people. And Llew? She talks a mean game o' bein' in it just for the undead-killin', but I've seen her go all soft when we're savin' prisoners, and I know she likes it. So all we needed to do was get into Rufus' bolthole, find some more evidence against Calum, and bring him down hard. I'd love to give 'em over to the temple o' Calistria for punishment, but so far I haven't seen any fey among the victims, and Calistria's always pretty particular 'bout whom she avenges and whom she doesn't.
Anyhoo, while Forth was sleepin' off his death and Llew was workin' on her book, Alembic wrote a big ol' letter to his uncle explainin' everythin' we'd been doin', and sent it off with the usual, "Do Not Open 'Til I'm Dead" kind o' stuff on it, which never works with me, but I figure his uncle's probably Lawful so he's got better control over his curiosity.
In the morning we headed over to another set of slums. For a big ol' town with a bunch o' noble families, this town sure had a lot of slums in it! Even more so than Alembic's summer home, there were a lot o' homeless people around, and Llew was worried that some of 'em were lookouts for Rufus. So I took the hint, asked a bum after the little girls' room, got directed to an alley, as was my hope, got nice and inconspicuous, and started lookin' around. 'Cept Rufus' bolt hole was boring. There was a ramp behind a building leading right down to it, and it was a big ol' spiked door designed to kill folks as tried to force entry. He wasn't even tryin' to hide it by puttin' flowers on the spikes or anythin'. Just a big ol', "Welcome to my bolthole. You are not welcome." 'Cept that doesn't make any sense.
So I circumnavigated the building (that means, "Went around," 'cause the Asmodeans 'educated' me) and didn't find any other entrances, so I reported back to Forth, Llew, and Alembic. Forth made some long speech 'bout he was willin' to go in, but then he'd be arrested and executed and he wouldn't fight back and he wouldn't come with me if I broke him out and it was all kinds o' useless nonsense that said we weren't goin' in. 'Cept Llew had a better idea. She said that she knew there were undead in there, and that was illegal, and as an inquisitor of Pharasma it was her job to investigate and purge the undead and she was goin' to get a warrant that said she could go in lawful-like and since Forth would be with her it would be OK.
So back to Father Ferringon's we went, and as Llew was gettin' her warrant I asked him about papers that made things OK, and he said that I could go to the temple of Asmodeus and buy "indulgences" that said it was OK for me do to whatever I wanted! OK, now THIS kind o' Lawful I could deal with! No wonder there were gnomes in this town! So I begged an' I pleaded to go to the temple of Asmodeus so I could go shoppin' for indulgences, but neither Llew nor Forth wanted anythin' to do with it, which makes no sense to me: If you're lawful (like Forth), or you have to kill undead whether or not it's legal (like Llew), you'd think you'd want some indulgences. Like maybe Llew could buy, "I can kill any undead I see in town." That seems like an awfully convenient one! But nope, they didn't want to deal with the Asmodeans, but I figured Asmodeans had seen enough o' me that they weren't likely to do anything else, so while Llew and Forth went to the market to get themselves some goods, I headed on over to the temple and loudly announced that I wanted some indulgences. And it was all official-like: This cleric came up to me, and asked me what I wanted to do. Now that was a hard question: Did I want to pants the high priest durin' the evenin' ceremonies? That would probably be pretty expensive. Or get permission to kill my missin' devil? Nah, I'm sure that's what it wanted me to do. So I figured I'd start with an easy one: I wanted to be able to go into someone's place and not get in trouble for it. I even knew the legal term: "Illegal enterin''. And no, you don't get to ask why I know that so well.
Anyhoo, the cleric really knew his stuff: He asked me whether I was goin' to take anythin'. Well, that was a good question. If I was just goin' into someone's house for the fun o' it, o' course I wouldn't be takin' anythin'. That's no fun at all! But if I were in Rufus' place killin' his undead and he'd left some shinies about and they ended up in my pockets 'cause better me than undead, well, then I'd be tempted. But I figured there had to be some kind o' law that said that if somebody tried to kill you and you killed 'em back, you got their stuff. 'Cause it's kind o' what we do. And Forth's nothin' if not lawful, so if he does it, I'm sure I don't need an excuse to do it. So finally I decided that no, I just wanted an indulgence for illegally goin' into other people's places. And he wrote one up all formal-like, and I didn't have to sign in blood ('cause I wouldn't've, since Llew and Forth taught me not to do stupid things like that), but I just paid the man 100 gold pieces. I proudly put the paper in my pouch! Now all I had to find was an interestin' place to go in!
Trouble was, we already had one, and I didn't need an indulgence to go in, 'cause Llew had a warrant, which is a special kind of indulgence that adds, "And smash things up" at the end. So I figured Llew'd tell me 'n' Forth what to do, and it would all be legal 'cause of the warrant, so when we went back to the big spiky door I tied a rope around my waist and handed the end to Forth so he could pull me out if the door smashed me. Better safe than squishy and all that. So Llew told me I could go ahead and unlock the door and for all that money Rufus spent on the door he really should have spent more money on a better lock 'cause it opened up right easy, but then Llew and Forth suggested that maybe the door was to keep out zombies and not gnomes and that made a lot more sense so I let it go. There was a little corridor, and then another big spiky door. Paranoid fellow, this Rufus. Again, the door wasn't proofed against gnomes so once Llew gave me the say-so I unlocked that one as well. By now we were startin' to get a bit worried 'bout all the paranoid stuff, so Alembic used his openin' spell to open the second door, revealin'... a THIRD door. I didn't know whether I was going to punch Rufus in the nose for bein' such an idiot, or hug him for makin' me look so good, but up I went, unlocked the third door, and Alembic opened it as well. Finally, there were no more doors, but some kind o' archway leadin' deeper into the bolthole. I figured it'd probably be trapped somethin' awful, so I started walkin' up, lookin' at the floor an' the walls to figure out what was goin' to hit me, when a big ol' sword came out o' the darkness and hit me!
And ow! What a hit! Not only did it cut me pretty well, but it kind o' drained my very bein'. If you haven't been drained before, there's really no way to describe it. There's this sucky feeling and you just feel weaker and less enthused about life, and kind o' like you have a hangover from drinkin' all night and not gettin' laid for all your troubles, and thinkin' that maybe next week you'll either drink less or get a date first, but in the meantime your mouth is all wooly and your head feels like there's a little man with a BIG hammer inside, and the whole world seems kind o' dim and sad and nasty and...
...anyhoo. The guy hit me.
Forth told me to get back behind him and I didn't need to be told twice, and Llew put up some kind o' field and told Forth he was now protected from bein' drained. I'd complain, but I know Llew; if she'd known about the drainy skeletony guy, she'd've protected me. She's just good people that way. So Forth moved up 'n' smote the thing, and Llew started helpin' him, so I knew it was goin' to die without my help, so I started drinkin' some o' the potions we'd found, but not only were they nasty-tastin', but they didn't do me much good, either. Maybe they were spoiled. Anyhoo, I used Ornery instead, and he could tell I was in a bad way so he fixed me pretty good. In the meantime Forth got cut up a bit himself, 'cause he always does, but since Llew was keepin' the thing from draining him he beat it down, 'cause he almost always does. Neither Forth nor Llew knew what the heck it was we'd just killed, so we poured some holy water on it and Llew stuffed it into her handy haversack so she could show it to Father Ferrington and figure out how to kill it. Hopefully the holy water would keep it dormant 'til then. The room it was guardin' was a temple to Zyphus, the unlucky god of accidental death, which is an awfully strange thing to worship if you ask me. Kind o' like Can-o, the cruel god of untimely diarrhea, or Mighty Blowchunks, the goddess of awkward vomiting, or whatever. Why would you worship a god o' somethin' BAD happenin' to you? I mean, it's kind o' like hangin' a sword over your head and puttin' acid on the rope every night: One of these days, somethin' bad is going to happen, and nobody's goin' to blame anybody but you.
So Llew tried to explain it to me: Zyphus was Pharasma's rival, and was worshipped by those who feared death. Still seemed strange to me, but whatever.
So the room had pews for 6 humans sittin' comfortably, or 8 if they were real chummy, but considerin' the god, I figured they'd all be terrified o' slip-slidin' off the pews and crackin' their heads on the concrete floors (why aren't there carpets in here, anyway?) and dyin', so I was guessin' we had at most 7 more people to deal with. (The pew people and the talky guy, 'cause all evil temples have a talky guy up front. 'Cause talking while makin' everyone else sit still is inherently evil, which is why Asmodeus liked doin' it to me so much.)
So, there was a book on the altar that was full o' evil Zyphus stuff, so Llew took that to destroy it. She read it a bit, and it was mostly some crazy guy ramblin' on about the downfall of both the capital and Logas by undead, and how it was all prophesied, and whatnot, but when you're writin' your own book and bringin' about your own prophecy, I'm not impressed. Forth and Alembic looked around and found a secret door behind the fresco behind the altar. I sat there pokin' myself with Ornery, and I think he felt sorry for me 'cause he was workin' pretty well for me. Once Llew saw what I was doin' she healed me the rest o' the way up, 'cause she's nice that way, and told us to watch out 'cause Zyphus favored weapon was a pick, and it could do a lot o' damage if it hit you just right. I still didn't feel 100%, but I figured I'd make it through the day.
Alembic opened the secret door and... dogs! Zombie dogs! Wave after wave o' zombie dogs came pourin' in! I had flashbacks o' poor Kronk and his untimely demise, but we've come a long way since then and we had better weapons and better gear and Alembic dropped a Fireball on 'em, which kind o' took the wind out o' their sails. So yeah, they weren't nearly as scary the second (or third? Or fourth? Or whatever...) time around. We moved on, turned right, I opened the poorly-locked door and we found paranoid boy's storeroom o' fine food, wine, and jewelry. Forth and Llew said we weren't allowed to loot it yet, zombie dogs and all, so I left it alone. But Rufus sure wasn't the brightest boy o' the bunch. The food was really nice, but in two weeks would be nothin' but mold and slime and dust, and considerin' the expense o' the food, I doubt that's what Rufus had in mind for apocalypse dining. We moved on. The next door didn't look locked, but that was only 'cause it wasn't locked at the time. It was good ol' Rufus' paranoid dream bedroom, with no mechanism to unlock it from the outside, then Alembic detected both a teleport trap and an anti-scry spell on the room. So you can't get in if you're not invited, and you can't watch. I know Calistrian temples have rooms like that, but I don't think those are the kinds o' activities Rufus had in mind when he built this room. The bed was way too small, and didn't have the appropriate accoutrements. I had to admit, it was a nice bed, though, and I was hard-pressed not to jump on it. I think it was the drainy skeleton guy's fault that I didn't. I just wasn't feelin' myself.
The next door made me feel better 'cause it was locked and I got to unlock it, and we found Rufus' death warrant, or at least his death warrant in my mind. There were 3 cells, each with a beautiful woman. Along the ceiling was a rail with manacles on it leadin' into a back room. It was pretty obvious what he was usin' the women for, and they weren't mindless slaves broken by Sasskya; these were women who'd been drugged and kidnapped and were bein' used by Rufus for his own urges. I was pretty steamin' mad, so I set about lettin' 'em out as Forth detected whether they were evil or not. One of 'em was evil all right, but she wanted Rufus' head on a pike and was willin' to testify, so I let her out anyway and figured if I did it, Forth wouldn't get in trouble for it. While I was workin' I thought Forth was competin' with me, but it turns out he'd found a key and was just helpin'.
The rail led to a mediocre bedchamber that just pissed me off even more: His hidey hole gets a top-of-the-line feather bed with silk sheet and and whatnot, and his kidnapped sex slaves have to deal with him on a cheap ol' mattress in a poorly-decorated room? Just... no! Bastard! So we reluctantly searched the bedroom, hopin' not to find too much, but we did find a secret door in the back that led to a workroom with a desk, a bunch o' drugs (Alembic said at least a couple were illegal), and a bunch o' letters. A letter from Calum braggin' about how much better his broken slaves were than Rufus', and how his drugs are better too. A letter from Sasskya askin' him if he wouldn't rather have "entertainers" that she'd made (yeah, Sasskya, you're on my list, too. Don't you worry!).
We told the women to stay hidden in the cell room 'til we'd checked out the final door. It was just a kitchen. A nice kitchen, but just a kitchen. So Forth went in and another dwarf just popped out o' nowhere and clobbered Forth with a meat cleaver and looked like he took 'bout half Forth's arm off! Forth, bein' Forth, didn't want to hurt a fellow dwarf, so he tried to just lay the guy down, gentle-like, but the guy hit Forth again, and I got really worried for him. Sure enough, he hit Forth a third time and Forth dropped, and the cut was deep enough I didn't think Forth'd be gettin' up any time soon. He turned and grinned a crazy grin at us and hit me with the cleaver. It hurt! So with Forth down and Llew behind me, I figured I'd better dance around the guy and give Llew some room, so I moved, and he hit me, and suddenly I didn't feel any pain any more. It was all blackness.
It was blackness for a long, long while. 'Course, I couldn't really tell the time, and I couldn't really focus my head 'nough to start singin' songs or countin' time or whatnot, I was just waitin'. And I kind o' knew what I was waitin' on. I was goin' to see Pharasma. It didn't scare me. I'd led a gnome's life, and everyone knows that gnomes all go to Elysium and burn down forests and blow stuff up and get shot by angry elves and do it all again the next day, so it sounded kind o' fun, but I'd miss Llew and Forth. And maybe, just maybe, I'd even miss Alembic a little bit. And there were still people who needed stabbin'. I didn't know that I'd be able to enjoy myself in Elysium all that much if I didn't know that Sasskya and Freya had met their ends. 'Cause they're nasty, nasty women. So yeah, I thought about it, and I didn't really want to see Pharasma, but I figured I didn't have much of a choice, so I waited. And tried to figure out how much time was passin'. But it was impossible. So I started makin' a game of it. The rules are, "You can't figure out how long this will take."
I needed to figure out how to break the rules...
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Interlude: While Trig was Dead...
Llew attacked the dwarven butcher, but his next full-round attack dropped her to negative hit points as well, and Alembic, seeing that the cause was hopeless, used a scroll of Dimension Door to get himself, Llew, and Forth's dead body out of the building. Trig bled out the next round.
Alembic got Llew conscious, and they got Forth's body to Father Farrington, where they paid for another Raise Dead for him and turned over the undead creature for destruction. (I think it was a dread wight, but my notes don't list a name for it.) The acolytes healed up the party and they raced back in the hopes of saving the girls and retrieving Trig's body. Sure enough, they found the dwarf trying to chop down the locked door to the cells, and they could hear the terrified shrieks of the women inside. So Forth Smote Evil, Llew used her judgements and Dwarf Bane, and Alembic lobbed a Fireball. Even with all that, they barely managed to get the dwarf to surrender.
Llew questioned him and he admitted to consorting with undead and other horrific crimes, so she decided he deserved to die and beat him into negative hit points. She finally decided that his fate would be decided by Trig's: If Trig was alive, he lived, if Trig was dead, he died. Forth went back to the kitchen and found Trig's lifeless corpse, then came back and reported to Llew. Llew executed the dwarf and they freed the women. The party looted Rufus' stash of funds to help pay for the resurrections, then took Trig to the temple of Shelyn to receive a Raise Dead.
For those who are counting, Forth was trying to function with THREE permanent negative levels at this point. It made for... interesting times.
And we turn it back over to Trig...
|Trig the Gnome|
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Trig Journal, Part 18, Played 08-Jul-2018
So, I was lyin' there... sittin' there? Standin' there? I really don't know what I was doin' there, but I was tryin' to listen for my heartbeat (didn't have one) or breathing (didn't need to) or somethin' I could start countin', but I gotta admit, whoever put me here did a good job o' makin' sure eternity'd feel the same as 5 minutes. But then I heard the faint chirping of songbirds. Something was happening! The singin' got louder and sweeter, and I could smell wildflowers an' grass. A woman's voice, deep and resplendent and just demandin' respect asked, "Trigonomopherianogglepatrix Belmafoodleptock, do you desire to return to the land of the living?"
I knew she was serious 'cause she used my full name, and even pronounced it correctly, so I started to say, "Yes, ma'am," but it didn't even take that long and it was bright and I was exhausted and my body hurt like no pain I'd ever felt before! A priestess lady all done up in white and trimmed with flowers and songbirds was smilin' down at me, and I was lyin' on some kind o' table. Forth, Llew, and Alembic were all there, so I figured either I was OK or we were all dead, but I hurt way too much to be dead. The priestess told me that I'd been dead, and the rest o' my group had brought me in and paid to have me raised. I was happy. You know, you're pretty sure your friends'll raise you if you die, but it's really gratifyin' when it happens, even though it hurts like a bugger.
I asked what happened when I went down, 'cause I thought Forth was dead, too, and Alembic started lookin' all proud 'n' cocky and sayin' he'd gotten us all out o' there, and Father Ferrington had raised Forth, but hadn't been able to cast a second one so they'd taken me to the temple of Shelyn. I appreciated it, 'cause who knows how many devils would've been bound to me if I'd been raised in the temple of Asmodeus? And now that I was dead, was my contract broken? I decided not to ask, 'cause it'd probably upset everyone, me bein' recently dead 'n' all.
So apparently Alembic had teleported 'em out, they'd raised Forth, and gone back in and killed the cook and saved the girls. Oh, and rescued my body, and all Rufus' loot to help pay for the resurrections. Good job, group! I'll make a dishonest lot o' you yet! There was money left over from the rezzes, 'cause Rufus was a paranoid man, so I took my share and I paid the nice priestess to heal me on up, and then donated a bit on top o' that, 'cause I know that's what you're supposed to do for all the Good temples 'cause they never ask for enough money for all their good deeds 'n' such.
So, I was back, and we had work to do. Alembic started suggestin' that since I was a worshipper o' Calistria 'n' all, I should go to Calum's pleasure house and utilize their services and check out the place from the inside. So, Alembic doesn't quite get the difference between "lustful" and "dignity", and the idea that goin' in and payin' for services would just be embarrassin'. Especially with a temple o' Calistria right in town if I were in need of such things, which I wasn't. And even if I did do it, bein' on my back in a whorehouse bedroom didn't seem like an ideal position to be snoopin' around. Couldn't he just turn me invisible so I could look around while not bein' distracted? So Alembic kept pushin' for me to go get laid to the point that I was startin' to worry he had some kind o' gnome fetish, and even Llew chimed in with something about me bein' the most likely one to seek paid companionship. What was THAT supposed to mean?!?!? Just 'cause I wasn't sleepin' around like a ruttin' ewe I should be goin' out and payin' my way!?!?? Now I was gettin' mad. So I dug in my heels and wouldn't do it, and they finally let up and decided we'd just check out the place from the outside as a group all legitimate-like that evenin'. And that was more to my likin', thank you very much!
So we went to the red light district in the early evenin', and there were all kinds o' fine establishments, I'm sure, but I like to keep my temple business in the temple, thank you very much, but we tracked the place down pretty easily. And I just couldn't hide the grin on the inside as we walked up to Calum's Palace of the Dead. A theme house. With big marble columns and huge doors with massive knockers. You could practically hear Llew's teeth grinding! I was lookin' forward to her declarin' a warrant or whatnot and lettin' us storm in, but apparently you can't just do that, you gotta find real undead or somethin'. So Alembic was obviously disappointed that he wasn't goin' to get to pay to get me laid, but he behaved himself and turned me invisible so I could sneak around the outside, and I found the secret door right where it was supposed to be. There weren't any windows or any other obvious ways to get in, or otherwise I'd've used my indulgence, so I came back and told the group about it, and we decided to come back in the morning after we were all rested up.
We had another restful night at the Wanderer's Rest, an' I was beginnin' to think I just might get used to not gettin' attacked every night, an' we went down to breakfast. As we ate, Llew said that we really needed Iggy to figure out how to get into Calum's legally, and just like that Iggy was right there next to us! So we bought Iggy breakfast (another 5 gold) and told 'im what we knew about Calum's place. And Iggy surprised all of us by tellin' us that Calum was a right bastard and a Jeggare, but a reasonable Jeggare, so much as there was such a thing, and maybe we should just go up and talk to him! OK, it was a weird idea, but I liked it a lot better than me payin' to get laid at some unknown whorehouse with an undead fetish, so I was all for it. Llew asked about the undead theme, and Iggy admitted that two of the whores were zombies, and a third was a vampire. All of us were pretty grossed out by the zombies, but Llew at least could see people wantin' to get intimate with a vampire without riskin' permanent death, but she still wanted to kill 'em all. Good ol' reliable Llew! We discussed the plan with Iggy right there at the table, but he told me to take a chair so I was tryin' to carry off one of those big ol' human-size chairs, and first I couldn't figure out where he wanted me to take it, then my arms got tired so I just left it in the middle o' the room, figurin' a big person or one o' their kids'd find it or trip over it and put it wherever it was it wanted to go. So Llew 'n' Forth are good at readin' people, so we figured they could tell whether Calum was tellin' the truth, so this plan just might work! Take down a Jeggare without killin' anythin'? That's new, even for me!
So we wrapped up with Iggy and he took off with all the remains of his massive breakfast, and Llew 'n' Forth noticed the innkeep beamin', and it turns out that Iggy takes all those leftovers and doles 'em out to needy kids. So Iggy might think he's a ruthless bastard and information-monger, but now we know he's got a soft spot. And o' course I liked 'im all the more for it.
With nothin' less stupid to do, we just wandered over to Calum's, Llew knocked on the front door, and when the big burly bouncer answered it she identified herself as an inquisitor of Pharasma who wanted to investigate the undead, and she wanted to talk to Calum, and what should happen but the bouncers let us sit down in the "pleasantry room" (I don't know what big people call 'em, but we figure it's where you exchange pleasantries and pretend you care about each other before the serious business o' boffin' begins). There was even gnome-sized furniture! Considering there were only four or five gnomes in the entire city, I started wondering 'bout their tastes. I mean, different is good, but undead? And undead humans? That's just plain wrong! So I was musin' 'bout undead halflings or somethin' and refusin' to eat or drink anythin' (not my first time in a brothel, dear), and everyone else was gettin' comfortable, when the bouncer came back and told us that Calum would see us! Surprise o' surprises! We got led through the brothel, where we could hear that business was boomin' (Boffing? Bumping? Whatever) as we went through to meet the man himself. He saw me and got all happy; apparently he liked gnomes. Didn't make me like him more, but at least I didn't have to stab him right away. So Llew and Forth questioned him, and he pretty much confessed to everything we knew about: Yes, he had undead pleasuring the guests. Yes, he had indulgences so it was all legal. Yes, he had illegal drugs. Yes, he had indulgences so it was all legal. Man, I was likin' this down and its indulgences more and more! You could do anything! Then came the slave girls. He admitted he had the ones that Sasskiya had sent him, but he'd pulled a fast one on her: He had paid to have them Healed, that big cleric spell that makes your brain all better and terrifies me no end 'cause I don't know what it does to gnomes 'cause it's 'sposed to cure insanity and a gnome is kind of defined by his or her insanity so what would we be if we weren't insane and is that how bleachlings are normally made and I really really don't want to get Healed and...
Anyhoo, he'd paid for the girls to get Healed, but in return they had to work for him 'til they'd paid off the spell, then they could choose whether or not to stay on. It didn't sound right to me, so I demanded to speak to one o' the girls. She'd been named "Charity", but she was as much "Charity" as I was "Ferknuffle", so I just asked her 'bout her experiences. Her story meshed up with Calum's, and Llew 'n' Forth didn't say she was lyin' or speakin' under duress so I didn't kill Calum. She talked 'bout bein' tortured and broken and losin' her mind then gettin' Healed and workin' for Calum, and I had to say, if I'd've been in her position I'd've been downright thankful to Calum, so I started thinkin' he was a downright decent sort, but still the girls didn't deserve it, and everyone kept describin' him as a right bastard and he was bein' all polite and nice to us, so we snooped around a bit. We had him show us the secret door, which was just his back entrance.
The only thing left to do I had to do 'cause I'm a gnome, and I'm a worshipper of Calistria, and if that doesn't mean 'freedom', I'll eat Cayden Cailean's smallclothes. So I offered to buy out all the girls' contracts. Calum didn't get it, and I don't think the rest o' the party believed me. Llew wanted to help pay, and it was kind o' hard to tell her that this was somethin' I had to do myself. She's got to kill undead. I've got to free sex slaves and give 'em a choice in life. So I wanted to talk to all four girls, and Calum said they were indisposed, but considerin' the amount o' coin that was about to change hands he decided to interrupt 'em, and they came in, and I told 'em that whoring was an honorable profession, and made good money, and it wasn't likely they'd find a job that paid as well for such easy work, and Calum might be a bastard but he seemed an honest bastard, but I was goin' to buy out their contracts and they'd get to choose their fates. Llew was kind o' appalled at me for talkin' 'bout whorin' as honorable, good-payin' work, but it can be, and these girls had been through a lot. They couldn't figure my angle and didn't trust me and wanted me to charge 'em some kind o' payment, so I figured I'd take a hug from each of 'em and they'd feel all Asmodean-like like they'd got the better o' me and they'd be happy, and I'd've freed 'em and I'd be able to sleep with myself at night. So Calum wrote up some kind o' contract and I didn't read it but I figured Llew 'n' Forth would know if it was up-and-up, 'cause what he said was that in exchange for somethin' around 900 gold they were all free to go, as long as each one paid me with a hug.
They were good hugs.
So we wrapped up with Calum without killin' anyone, and with his well-wishes on killin' the rest of his family (he didn't like 'em much, and he'd be rich if they died, so I could see where he was comin' from. I wasn't even related and I wanted 'em all dead). I was already walkin' with a bit of a skip in my step, all grinnin' and happy 'cause I'd freed four girls, and Forth leaned over and told me, "You did perfect in there, Trig."
I'd've kissed him if I weren't so terrified of his beard.
Once we were out o' earshot, Llew tried to reimburse me again, but I told her it was a Calistrian thing and I had to do it myself. I don't know 'bout it bein' Calistrian, but Llew bought it and that's good enough for me. It was just somethin' I had to do. Forth and Llew started talkin' again, and reminded us that we hadn't even found anythin' on the parents, so the big question was: Did we turn in the kids now, or did we first try to dig up some dirt on the parents?
We looked at Alembic to see whether he knew anything that we should, but he didn't either. As usual he figured his family might be able to get us some information, but the more he said it the more skeptical I got about it. And were they really his family, or did he just hang around on their doorstep and gossip with their footman? Maybe next time I should follow him...
Anyhoo, we had the rest of the day free, so I did a bit o' resupplyin' at the market, playin' hide-n-seek with some random kids I met there, singin' 'n' dancin' at the tavern, and general relaxation. And guess what? We weren't attacked AGAIN! I was beginnin' to get downright paranoid!
The next mornin' we met up with Iggy again, and he had his big ol' breakfast again, but this time I liked 'im for it, and he was all happy 'cause I guess he worked for Calum or somethin' and we hadn't killed Calum (I still didn't really know what was goin' on, but I figured Llew 'n' Forth'd tell me what to stab). He said we'd done real well, and if we wanted the parents he had somethin' for us, and he gave us a map to a place called the "Inner Sanctum" that was supposedly full o' deadly traps. Sounds like a gnome playground to me! It was outside o' town so suddenly Forth could do what he wanted to again (and yeah, I'll never figure that one out) so we got to the spot and it was just an empty field. Llew and Forth told me they could see it, but I'm a gnome! Gnomes are supposed to see through illusions, right? I thought they were pullin' my leg or deluded or somethin', but when they had me close my eyes and led me down some stairs that I was sure didn't exist, Alembic said it was some kind o' illusory terrain, but I just called it annoyin'. So of course I went on ahead, and found the first trap, which was some kind o' floor thing with poison gas, and I'd had enough gas, thank you very much, so I disabled it and we moved on. Oh, yeah, it was locked, too. Next was a pressure plate with some poison darts. As I disabled that one, I started wonderin' how on Golarion the Jeggare family got Rufus the Coward to run this gauntlet, 'cause there's no way I'd expect that guy to be able to make it through even a turned-off trap. So I disabled the pressure plate, and I was startin' to think this was goin' to be easy 'til I got to a doorway at the end of a hall and it 'sploded on me. Yeah, I'm just not so good at disabling fire traps. Call it an occupational hazard. So as I was smoulderin', I pulled out Ornery and Ornery kind o' liked seein' me get blown up 'n' stuff so Ornery worked on me for once, but as I was healin' a big ol' stone block dropped from the ceilin' on me. At least it tried. But it wasn't on fire so I dodged it. But it kind o' meant we wouldn't be goin' THAT way any time soon. We went to the other end o' the hall, and the Jeggares proved they were boring by havin' the same exact trap. So this one was easy to spot and disarm, and o' course I looked up 'n' saw all the spikes in the ceiling and disarmed them, too. Trouble was, this door just led to a blank wall. We checked pretty well, but we figured it was just a fake door designed to entice and kill nosy adventurers. Like us!
So, knowin' that the Jeggares weren't incorporeal types, we decided to start searchin' the hallway for any other exits, and Llew found a secret door. This one had an Alarm spell on it with no other traps, which I figured showed that Rufus had to use this one, so I disabled the alarm, unlocked it, and Alembic opened it. Inside was a nice meeting room, marred by some kind o' bony devil creature standin' inside of it, sayin', "If you come in, I will kill you."
So we entertained ourselves for a few talkin' with whatever it was. It turned out to be a devil, bound to guard the room against intruders, which sounds like about the most borin' job in the world if you ask me, but heck, we were there and we were intruders, so maybe it wasn't all that bad. What was funny was that he even said he had a list o' intruders, and we were on it. Who keeps a list of intruders?!?!? You just say, "If it isn't me or one o' these people right here, kill it."
Oh, well. Maybe that's why I don't work well with devils. Anyway, he was summoned by the Jeggares, and they meet here regularly, but he couldn't tell us what they talk about, so I said, "OK, well, then I guess we're going to have to kill you," and he attacked us!!!! So, apparently in Lawful devil-land it's totally OK to go around saying, "I'm going to kill you," but if anyone else says it you get to attack them! I'd have to have words with Forth about whether or not that was really Lawful, or just buttwienery.
So, I've been through one now, and I've got to say, I don't understand devil fights. The bony devil-thing ran up, clawed a bit at Forth's armor, and then turned invisible. That didn't seem exactly threatening. I used my special powder that was supposed to make him visible again and instead the package just kind o' burst over my head and covered me with powder and felt kind o' nice and dry but powdery 'n' itchy all at the same time, but sure didn't help me see the devil. So Alembic did his Glitterdust thing and suddenly we could see the devil, and even better, we could tell he couldn't see. So, that was pretty much the fight. Forth would hit him, he'd turn invisible, Alembic would Glitterdust him, he'd go blind, Llew would shoot him, and we'd do it all again. He didn't seem like a particularly menacing sort while all this was goin' on, so I tried to slip in around him, but it took a while, and got me a whack from his blindly-flailing claws for my troubles, and by the time I was finally behind him Alembic was done Glitterdustin' and just Magic Missiled the poor thing to death.
For a guard, I wasn't all that impressed. Hope the Jeggares didn't pay much for him.
There wasn't anythin' in the room 'cept for two everburnin' torches and a safe with no openin' mechanism, or at least not one on the outside. So everyone was wonderin' whether to smash it open, or pour acid on it, but I figured I could make myself small, Alembic could teleport me in, and I could open it from the inside. Llew made herself able to see invisible things, and there was our accuser devil, followin' us like a good puppy! Llew chased it off but it didn't want a fight, so we went back to talkin' about how to get back into the safe. After a lot o' argument, everyone agreed my plan was best and we did it. It was a lot of fun, and worked like a charm! 'Specially 'cause the whole safe was lined with acid, and if we'd gone in from the outside we'd've destroyed everythin' inside. So, inside was a ton o' paperwork, includin' a full record o' everythin' all the Jeggares had been doin' all this time. Jackpot! The last page even showed what they'd been up to last, and let us know that they'd been wipin' their own memories after every meetin' so they'd be free to testify 'n' such without incriminatin' themselves. Clever people! 'Cept I'd never let anyone play with my brain like that! The nice thing 'bout the book was that it incriminated the parents, Justine 'n' Algeran, and even told me that my accuser devil was a little gift from Justine. I'd have to thank her for it. The funniest part was, she was sure it would ruin our reputation. Ha! Gnome! You can watch me day and night for a year and I won't be ashamed o' anythin' I've done. But it's a Lawful town. Maybe someone else'd care. But I wouldn't.
So we closed everything up and decided to take the torches, and pulling one torch down opened up the safe. Hilarious! At least I thought it was!
It was time for Llew and Forth to turn in everythin' they had to the proper authorities, and for me to distract the accuser devil so it wouldn't know what they were doin'. So while they were doin' whatever-it-was, I headed back to Calum's place and asked after the girls. They were all gone, so I went by the temple of Calistria, figurin' they'd be able to provide. Sure enough, for 50 gold they even found a male gnome who was interested! So we got all the appropriate accoutrements and it is none of your business what we did, 'cept distract the accuser devil for a couple o' hours, 'cause it was my job. And boy, sometimes I love my job!
'Cause yeah. Tryin' to spy while on your back is stupid. Tryin' to distract someone while on your back is brilliant.
After two or three hours (I wasn't countin') I met back up with the group, a spring in my step, a flush in my cheeks, and all the merrier for a bit o' healthy exercise. They'd gone to Father Ferrington, he'd said they had enough for an "inquest" (guess that's the opposite of an "outquest", but I don't know what that is), and then they'd gone to the mayor. Apparently that involved all kinds of Lawful talk so I was even happier with how I'd chosen to spend my time. All I knew was that there was an "inquest" at 7:00 pm that night, and we all had to be there, and we were goin' to put an end to the Jeggares, 'cept Calum 'cause he'd Healed the girls. Live and learn, bad guys! So we had to get all prepared, so I bathed, washed my hair, put it up all legal-like, and made my armor look like what I figured a gnome lawyer'd look like, but I didn't have much of an idea so I don't know how well I did. Llew said I looked delightful, so there was that. I even had little spectacles for the occasion, 'cause I know lawyers respect spectacles as a symbol o' power. As I was dressin', I felt Calistria's blessin' flowin' into me. I don't know whether it was the activity in the temple, or freein' the girls, or gettin' all done up, but it seemed like she was forgivin' me for the hunka hunka burnin' elf incident and makin' me even more charmin'. I hoped they were lookin' for "charmin'", not, "lawful".
The event itself was pretty spectacular. There were hellknights guardin' the steps, and they looked downright mean. I was glad none of them had been 'round to issue punishments back in my orphanage days. Once we were inside, there was an area way off far away where the commoners got to watch, then the middle part where we were. And there was Father Ferrington representin' the Farringtons, Archbishop Blackburn lookin' pleased as pie, Mayor Muskgrove, Captain Farbridge... and no Jeggares at all. Instead o' any Jeggares there was some kind o' devil with papers stuck all over 'im. I think it was Llew who said he was a "contract devil" and he specialized in this legal stuff, and he'd be tough to beat. Forth'd been asked whether he wanted a lawyer, and he'd said, "No," so I'd said, "No," 'cause it seemed like what the cool kids were doin', but now I was wonderin'. But I had Calistria at my back, and I'd be OK!
Forth stood up and provided the overall background of how bad the Jeggares were, and I provided color commentary for him. I don't know, but I don't know that my efforts were all that appreciated. But it wasn't "shut up" time so I did my best to help. And it sounded all lawful and formal-like.
So when it came time to accuse each Jeggare personally, I stood up to talk 'bout all the crimes of Sasskya and Freya. And I talked 'bout the poor peasants who'd been tortured, and the girls who'd lost their freedom 'n' been forced to turn to whores, and all the other crimes 'gainst freedom, and I think I did a really great job, and I felt Calistria's blessin' swellin' within me as I spoke, 'cept I don't know diddly-squat 'bout the law so I don't know how much I accused 'em of was legal, and how much was illegal, so I don't know that I did all that good a job. But I got the commoners on my side! Llew and Alembic added a bit, and Mayor Muskgrove asked a few questions, an' then it was the contract devil's turn.
And ooh, was he smooth! He talked about how it was all lies an' innuendo, and all the evidence was fake, and whatnot, and didn't even get all legal mumbo-jumbo, but instead made us look like a bunch o' loons who just hated the Jeggares and wanted to bring 'em down. So, mostly true, but he kind o' twisted it so it sounded bad.
Once he was done, the judges were all decidin' what to do, when the contract devil asked to let the accuser devil speak. All the judges seemed really offended, but I was lookin' forward to it! I especially wanted to see how my show at the temple played out.
Instead, he played only little bits and pieces of our lives. He showed every time I talked about how stupid the law was, and how we should all break the law, and how people who follow the law are morons, and otherwise just made me look brilliant! I was happy I'd made that contract with him! He made it absolutely clear beyond any doubt what I thought of the law. I'd've thanked him but it seemed like the judges weren't as impressed. He didn't have much on the others, 'cause I'd been careful that way, 'cept for Alembic, who nobody likes anyway so it didn't sway anyone, but then he got all happy and showed Lady Jeggare ordering him to bring down anyone who worked with us, and me hirin' him. Apparently that made Lady Jeggare guilty o' "workin' with me", though I didn't understand it even after Forth 'splained it to me three times and gave up, but he spilled his guts on everythin' the Jeggares had been doin', with images and everythin', and that was all she wrote for the Jeggares.
So the Jeggares were found guilty, sentenced to death, and we'd get 16,000 gold pieces per head when we brought them in. 'Cause of COURSE they weren't in the courthouse, and if they had any brains at all they weren't in town at all...