NobodysHome Presents: Trig's Journal: A Trip Through Shiro's AP

Campaign Journals

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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!

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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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Nice to see more of your writing. Could we have a bit of background on the PC's, pretty please (eg. Character classes, maybe levels?).

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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."

Name: Thorn
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

Name: Llewelyn
Gender and Race: Albino Female Half-Elf
Class: Inquisitor of Pharasma
Player: GothBard
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.

Name: Kronk
Gender and Race: Male Human Shoanti
Class: Barbarian
Player: NobodysHome
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

Name: Trig
Gender and Race: Female Gnome
Class: Rogue
Player: NobodysHome
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.

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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!”

Point taken.

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:

Name: Forthrecht
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...

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Oh dear, the fate of the 4th PC in a 3 player party: to be considered expendable (in a metagame sense, by everyone, including the GM)... Poor, poor 4th PC...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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!

Scarab Sages

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Hello, old friend! Good to see someone carrying on the tradition. I'll be sure and read these over the next couple of days.

Kori'el wrote:
Hello, old friend! Good to see someone carrying on the tradition. I'll be sure and read these over the next couple of days.

Take your time! We're *just* at the final boss fight this Sunday, and I believe it's session 58.

So you only have a little over a year to catch up...

Scarab Sages

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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."

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Kori'el wrote:

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.

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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!

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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.

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"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." -- win.

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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...

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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.

How did that not end up as TPK?

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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.

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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!"
Fat pony!

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?

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

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...

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