The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw Cannith


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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw Cannith

    On or around December of 2005, our intrepid group gathered for a new D&D game set in Eberron (our first Eberron experience) and under the guidance of a new GM to our group (though not a new GM).

    These are the journals of one character in said group: Artemis Heuw, an artificer and (self-proclaimed) man of intelligencia.

    My first and only warning is that I am rather verbose when writing. Some (if not all!) of these journal entries will be a bit long. They are lots of fun, though.


    D.


    (Story hour renamed on 4/5/07, to catch up with Artemis' adoption into House Cannith. Hurray!)
    Last edited by Devo; Friday, 6th April, 2007 at 06:27 AM. Reason: Date of update

 

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    Cast of Characters

    We have five characters in this campaign. Artemis refers to them via shorthand in his journals, so I have included that as a prequel to each character's name. Many of the players lurk (or actively post) on EN World, so I'm sure you'll hear from them someplace in here. You'll probably even see someone else's journal in between Artemis' expansive ramblings.

    The Cast of Characters

    (Author) Artemis Heuw -- Human Artificer, Male
    ---- Artemis' family is part of the Fabricator's Guild in Sharn, but not connected to House Cannith any deeper than that. He has yet to do anything well.

    (IR) Iriethyra Kylara Elorenthi -- Aerenal Elf Priestess, Female
    ---- Kylara is very firm in her beliefs, and is one of the most intimidating members of the party. She specializes in summoning undying creatures.

    (CA) Caelen -- Valenar Warrior, Male
    ---- Without a doubt, Caelen is our best fighter. Always eager to jump into battle, he is also the only one of us with any real honor. (Though Kylara's faith is honorable, as well.)

    (GR) Grinner -- Half-orc Investigator, Male
    ---- Grinner grew up in the slums of Sharn, and earned his name during the War with a permanent scar that pulls his mouth up into a grin.

    (XL) Xil -- Changeling Miscreant, Sex varies
    ---- Little is known of Xil's history. To be honest, we're not sure what he does with his present, either. Xil is not afraid to fight or to run from a fight, but otherwise does very little.

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    The Setting

    We start our game in Sharn, The City of Towers, with the characters recently brought together. It is two years since the end of the Last War, and the world goes about it's selfish business.

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 1

    "...then added the three grams of powdered mole snout [ref: CJ-V1-18] to the pestle and began grinding again, this time in a counter-clockwise direction. The ink was begining to absorb the magic of the chant, it's color jumping to a darker shade with the completion of each verse [ref CJ-V1-P12]. The pestle is starting to turn blue, however. I wonder if it's supposed to do that?"

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 1


    "I made another contact within House Cannith this evening, but not until after a very long and gruelling day. It started as a typical day for this time of year: somewhat overcast, but not too cold. My morning was spent in the lab [ref: CJ-V1-21]. At lunch, I met with the Deathsgate Companions [ref: PJ-V1-81] to learn from GR what he had learned about our warforged target [ref: PJ-V1-83]. Our task seemed simple enough, so long as we had everything planned out. As the plan came together, however, it became obvious that what we were talking about was tantamount to kidnapping. The discussion turned to the legality of the situation, and I determined that there was very little to gain from falling on the wrong side of the law. If our plans went awry, we could all end up with black marks on our permanent records. On top of that, I think that many in the DC would be unable to pay their fees. At this point, it does not seem a profitable investment to extract any of the DC from a possible prison sentence. It would be easier to justify simply starting over.

    With the decision to pass on the Deathsgate initiation [ref: PJ-V1-82], we turned our attention to other topics. XL had determined in his own investigations that CAG [ref: CJ-V1-82] had a reward outstanding for any who could discover the reason behind the disappearance of their members. It seemed apparent, though, that aligning ourselves with CAG would put us in opposition to DAG, which, given our current assignment, did not seem a good idea. We decided to walk away from both organizations.

    After some small discussion we decided that the place to go was Morgrave University. It is a widely known fact that the "historians" at MU often sponsor relic retrieval missions, which seemed like just the sort of thing our group would be interested in. It was on our way to MU that we had our first, and most disturbing, encounter.

    We were walking towards a sky skiff on tower 341 -- Dohloon Spire -- en route to the middle plateau. CA was the first to react to a noise down darkened side passage of the tower. Elves must have very good hearing, because I had heard nothing. IR reacted quickly; rushing into the alley, she used her magics to summon light. The scene that unfolded looked like a simple mugging: a cloaked man had knifed a low-classed street walker. He ran. CA and GR pursued.

    IR rushed in to the alley to heal the woman, who still looked very bad. We carried her to the skyboat, with XL hanging about, to take her to the nearby House Jorasco enclave. The driver responded well -- perhaps he'd seen this sort of thing before -- and we were quickly on our way. Meanwhile, the chase between the mugger and my DC companions had gone up-tower, and IR thought she heard the chase continuing on a roof or bridge above us and around the corner. I ordered the skiff driver to go that way, instead.

    The skiff was quick and nimble, and made caught up to the pursuit in good time. The mugger was running, with CA fast on his heels. GR was moving a bit slower, but only because he paused once or twice to get a shot off with his crossbow. Their quarry was bleeding, one or two bolts already lodged in him.

    We came around the tower in time to see the mugger leap off a bridge and down to a platform 40' below. CA, who either knew about the FF zones around each bridge or was simply foolhardy enough to jump that far, followed. GR took another shot. Reaching another the edge of the platform, the mugger went straight for the wall and started climbing. He made it almost 50' up the wall in a heartbeat, scrambling on to wide balcony. It was astonishing! We swung the airskiff around to cut him off.

    XL used this opportunity to reveal his true nature, when he stood up from behind the rail of the skiff in the perfect guise of the woman who lay unconscious at his (her?) feet. XL is a changeling! Could GR have picked them any better? XL mocked the mugger, saying he had missed his target. IR, meanwhile, employed more of her magic, stunning the man below us with a shouted command. Thinking quickly, I made a larger loop out of the mooring line on the skiff, threw it over the still form of our quarry. The skiff driver, on my order, took the skiff higher into the air.

    GR, meanwhile, had made it from the bridge onto the roof with the mugger, and had even managed to get another shot off. CA, again showing unlimited daring, had spotted a clutch of barrels secured in the air via a rope and pulley system and tied off down on his level. He grabbed the rope, cut the line, and was hoisted all the way up past the plummeting barrels and onto the roof edge where the rest of us were engaged in our struggle. He rolled up over the ledge and raced to engage the mugger.

    The mugger, bleeding and outnumbered, reacted strangely to being hoisted up into the air. He shimmied and shook in the entangling line, and slipped right out of his skin! Fascinating, but disgusting! The skiff rose into the air, dragging the sloughed off skin and clothes of this creature in it's mooring line. What fell to the landing was a monstrous insect, a six foot cockroach of sorts that stood upright like a man. It made an angry sound, and charged GR, slashing him with one of it's claws.

    CA charged across the roof, swinging his dual scimitar. GR, to his credit, did not panic, but still took a step away from the creature and tried to shoot it with his crossbow. We ordered the skiff lowered, and XL, IR, and I all jumped down to help in any way we could. I used two scrolls in preparation for engagement [ref: CJ-V1-11, CJ-V1-32]. The creature, meanwhile, followed GR and lashed at both he and CA with it's multiple limbs. GR was cut pretty badly, but he engaged with his axe, and CA with his two-bladed scimitar staff. Neither connected, but they came close enough to worry the creature, who ran. With it's back turned, either GR or CA hit the creature (I couldn't see which), and it jerked forward -- seeming dead, but still stumbling in the last direction it moved. Almost silently, it fell over the edge of the tower, and was lost to the rain and mists below.

    We now had two wounded, plus the girl we had first rescued. Getting into the skiff, we made our way to House Jorasco.

    XL and I looked through the skin remains of the creature, looking for some indication of identity or purpose. (I suspect, though, that XL was looking for money or jewelry.) We found neither, but could guess from the remains that this was a real man who had simply been hollowed out from the inside, and worn like a second skin. IR, meanwhile, postulated that the insectile creature had not stabbed his victim, but had instead used it's stinger to inject into her an egg of some sort. Studying the girl again, IR found that a foreign object had been injected into her stomach. We hurried to House Jorasco.

    We gave the girl into the care of House Jorasco, and related our story at a nearby guard station. The guards said that Sharn would cover the costs of healing the girl, but that we were on our own. Such appreciation! Left to our own devices, IR did some healing and I used a couple of scrolls [ref: CJ-V1-2, CJ-V1-26] to comfort GR and CA. Thanks to our warning, I'm told, the Jorasco healers were able to extract the insect's egg from his victim. We haven't had a chance to talk to her, though.

    With that behind us, I offered to take everyone out to dinner, to celebrate the success of our first team effort. The DC were happy enough to let someone else pick up the bill [ref: PJ-V1-84, PJ-V1-85, PJ-V1-87], so, after cleaning up a bit, we departed.

    We had not gone very far when we stumbled upon another crime -- a murder this time. The killer looked long gone, but laid out on a bridge was the body of an older man. His papers identified him as Bonal Geldam, a provost at MU. His body looked like it had been hacked up by a large bladed weapon. According to IR, he was killed very recently. As if to prove how recent, his apparent killer climbed up over the side of the bridge right next to us. The warforged, marked for Darguun, clambered onto the railing then lept towards GR. His wild axe blow missed.

    GR reciprocated with an attack of his own: valiant CA charged in, too. XL and IR hung back. I waited to see what the warforged would do: would it flee or continue the fight? Wounded, now, the warforged went into overload, his armor plates expanding slightly -- revealing more of his fragile inner systems, but giving room for increased musculature. Enraged, he struck out at CA, knocking him out of the fight in one swing. While the warforged recovered from the powerful swing of his axe, I took the opportunity to jump in and inflict just the right amount of damage to render him inert. Thank goodness for my artificer training! With a clamor, the warforged fell to the ground.

    Just then, the signal whistles of Sharn patrols started sounding around us. Knowing they would be here soon, GR grabbed what valuables he could from the murder victim, being sure to replace the pilfered ID papers. He turned to run, then, saying we should get away before the guards found us. How preposterous! I had just finished using a scroll of vigor [ref: CJ-V1-56] on CA, and he still needed time to recover. I convinced GR to stick around, and in no time the guard came to take our story and scolded us about getting involved. The guard's questioning took some time, and by the time we were released, we were more than ready to go. It had been a long day. We decided to go our seperate ways, get some rest, and catch up on the morrow.

    When we were walking away from the scene, though, a woman in fine robes came to us out of hiding. She offered to tell us the truth behind what we had stumbled into. There was no pretense at introductions, but did show us a signet ring of House Cannith. House Cannith! The only other thing she would say was that we were to meet her at an inn -- the Broken Anvil -- first thing in the morning. Since the inn was quite close and we were all hungry and tired, we decided to go there for the night. We got dinner and some rooms, paid for by GR and the gold of a dead man.

    ...

    First thing this morning, we met Elaydren d'Vown, who says she is associated with the eastern branches of House Cannith [ref: PJ-V1-39]. She asked if that would be a problem, but I didn't see any issues. Evidently, Ms. d'Vown was working with provost Geldam, who was murdered last night. The two of them were looking for an ancient House Cannith foundry, long sealed beneath the city. Geldam had done much of the research, and was on his way to a meeting with Ms. d'Vown to discuss his findings. He was ambushed along the way, however. Since we had the book with his notes, and she needed someone to go down and recover an artifact for her, it seemed natural that we would work together. She offered us 1000gp to recover a single portion of a schema; a seven-pointed star made of adamantine. It was located in a sealed Cannith vault down below Sharn. We agreed, and she gave us a map to the vault.

    A sealed Cannith vault. I wonder what else we'll find in there?"

    . -- An excerpt from the Private Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 1



    "Reminders for tomorrow:
    . Pick up order from Chkazaan's -- troll blood, etc.
    . Wax casting block: 8" cube
    . Request use of one or more emergency healing potions from house
    . Pack up all my scrolls, a couple of weapons, and a nice lunch

    . -- An excerpt from the To Do Lists of Artemis Heuw

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    This is the point where I mention that Artemis has an 8 Wisdom, and maybe just a touch of conceit. Not everything in his journals exactly matches reality.

    There is also not a whole lot that Artemis is good at yet. He keeps on trying, though!

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 2

    "...showing, once again, my inexperience. Especially with live components. [ref CJ-V1-17] Unfortunately that was the only one I had to work with, and without that critical component the potion slowly solidified into a gelatenous, greyish brick that smelled slightly of burnt vanilla. Later study showed no intrinsic value in the concoction. I found the Ballig Leech four hours later on my midriff, below my ribs on the left side. It appears to have grown slightly. I put it back in it's jar."

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 2



    I decided to prepare another combat scroll for our journey to the Cannith vault, and after much deliberation, decided on a Shillelagh spell [CJ-V2-2]. It took me longer to get started than I anticipated, though, as I ran into master Donnovan [ref: PJ-V1-45] on my way home from gathering the necessary components. His wagon had broken down -- a broken pin had allowed the wheel to slip off it's axle -- and needed help. His wagon was overladen with statuary: most of it fairly well done, considering how unattractive the subjects were. I offered him my assistance with the wagon, and with the help of some passers-by managed to get him up and running again. He offered his thanks, and possibly a favor in the near future.

    The scribing went fine, naturally. It wasn't a real test of my abilities. [ref: CJ-V2-4]

    ...

    The DC [ref: PJ-V1-81] met at the Broken Anvil and began our foray into lower Sharn. XL, bold as brass, stole one of the lightshards from a poor neighborhood, right in front of the residents. We distanced ourselves from him.

    We went to a place called the Rat's Market [ref: PJ-V1-104] at the base of Dorasharn Tower in search of the entrance to the E-213 valve cluster [ref: PJ-V1-103]. I looked around at the utter garbage they sold in this "market", and wasn't the least bit interested in what they had. GR, meanwhile, had found our path, and we made our way down into the sewer. It was disgusting! Slippery, too. Thank goodness I had the forsight to ask CA to help me. Unfortunately, there was no way to progress without stepping into the knee-high waste water. Only for House Cannith would I have done that!

    Less than half of us had gotten into sight of the valve cluster when we were attacked. A warforged attacked the center of the DC line, while two shifters ran at CA, in the front. It was a short, brutish fight, stomping and splashing about in filth. By the end, most everyone was wounded -- and in this place, that meant facing the danger of disease and sickness. XL had returned, possibly after the attack started. I'm not sure what to make of that. It took two of my scrolls [ref: CJ-V1-37; CJ-V1-42] to get the worst of the wounds closed up, then we fell into discussion as to whether we should continue. IR was out of healing abilities, and most of my abilities had been taxed for the day as well.

    I managed to convince the nay-sayers that we should continue, and less than 100 feet away and around the corner was the door to the vault. After some study, I determined that it was both locked and trapped. We were at an empasse when GR used Geldem's journal [ref: PJ-V1-96] to open the door, matching sign to sign. The door opened, revealing a shaft that went down almost 600 feet. Six hundred feet seems a lot farther when you are standing at the top of a dark pit.
    We decided to call it a day there, and resealed the door.

    After cleaning up a bit, we went our seperate ways, retiring for the night.

    Now I'm tired and hungry, so I'm off to dinner and then to the study for some quiet reading. If Twiggy isn't in there with her friends, that is.

    ...

    Our morning started off on a good note: No one had tried to get into the vaults by themselves. Well, none of the DC, at least.

    Drayk [ref: PJ-V2-2] accompanied us to the vault, carrying the rope and forty pitons. He was too sqeemish to go into the sewer without the extra chink of silver in his pocket. Reminder: never hire Drayk again. I told him early on that he would get dirty, but he balked when the work got sticky.

    One of the goblins from Rat's Market [ref: PJ-V2-8] lay in front of the vault door, killed by it's traps and his own curiosity. Rolling the body into the slow moving waters, we opened the vault then set about the task of tying our ropes together. Another good sign: everyone brought the three lengths of rope that I asked for. We had plenty, and spare.

    The shaft we descended turned out to be an air shaft, and proved an easy climb. Convenient cross-tunnels provided a place to rest when needed. I did quite well for such a long climb.

    By the time we had reached the bottom, the shaft curved, and came out in the side wall of a large chamber with a high ceiling. The only things we could see at first were the ruined walls of ancient structures. There was a wierd noise echoing through the chamber, but I didn't get a chance to analyze it. Almost as soon as GR and XL jumped out of the shaft, they were attacked by thousands and thousands of beetles -- a whole swarm of them.

    Weapons quickly proved useless against so many insects, so we naturally turned to alchemy to solve our problem. Thanks to Lady d'Vown's warning [ref: PJ-V1-102], we had brought fire. For myself, nothing but Cannith's best alchemical fire would do. I learned later that the others had supplied themselves from lesser alchemists. Perhaps just to be contrary, IR used acid. Fortunately, it did not put out the flames. In short order, the flames, light, or simple loss of numbers caused the insects to lose interest in us. They scattered into the darkness.

    I hoped at the time that whatever we needed the fire for could be overcome through other means. I only brought the one flask of Alchemist Fire. As it turned out, though, there wasn't anything else we encountered that required it. Maybe bypassing the insects was the only purpose of the fire?

    There were only two intact buildings left down in the chamber. The first we found was a temple to Onatarr. We were just working our way inside when two massive rats with spiked bony carapaces attacked XL. He got bit pretty bad. Scrambling, we all turned to fight, but our weapons could barely punch their hard shells. I tried a quick enchantment on my crossbow, meant to slay them instantly [ref: PJ-V1-21], but I'm really not a very good shot. Especially when the rest of the DC are engaged in melee against the creatures I'm shooting. They would probably look poorly upon me if I started killing them -- plus that would interfere with my plans.

    I'm sorry, but that just strikes me as funny.

    With the rats dispatched and some wounds tended, we turned our attention again to the temple of Onatarr. Getting in was no problem. Inside we found a font of magical water: IR used her magic to determine it had healing properties, then tested it herself. Feeling better, she encouraged XL to drink, since it looked like one of the bites he'd suffered was festering something awful. He looked a little better after drinking, but the bite still looked pretty nasty. I'm glad my bite didn't turn that color. There was a little bit of water left, and no one stepped up to take it, so I did.

    It occurs to me now that I should have tested the font to see if it had any magical properties. I tested the water before IR did, but not the font itself. Ah, well, maybe Cannith can do something with it.

    The other building we found was, naturally, the vault itself. To be more specific, it was an ancient Cannith foundry, but locked up tight. It had no windows, and it's two doors were made of adamantine. I wasn't able to get past the rather extraordinary lock on the door, but while I was working on it, IR and CA found a hole in the roof large enough for us to go through. It was an easy climb up: XL and I were the first to the top. Looking inside, it was definitely the vault we were looking for! [Ref: PJ-V1-102]. I threw a light in to take a look, and XL scrambled down to the interior.

    From nowhere, two iron defenders [ref: PJ-V1-66] attacked. What is it about XL that attracts attacks? He was no match for ancient Cannith know-how, and dropped almost before he could shout a warning. CA and IR lept down to deal with the constructs.

    Again, I put a quick slayer enchantment on my crossbow [ref: PJ-V1-21] designed this time to destroy constructs. I'm not a great shot, but I can hit, and it took the defender down. CA, IR, and even GR with his own crossbow managed to take down the other. We gathered around XL to check on him, and he was still alive. Naturally, I had to use another scroll [ref: CJ-V1-19] to revive him. Maybe from now on I'll save my scrolls for my own use. I could always allow the DC to commision me to make scrolls for them. I'd still have to use the scrolls on them, but at least they'd be absorbing the cost.

    We searched high and low through the foundry and came up with a number of fine weapons and armor, all marked with House Cannith's stamp. The forge itself was a vault of sorts, and again I discovered it's lock and trap mechanisms. We had some trouble getting it open initially, but after I enchanted my cane with a quick energy resistance spell [ref: PJ-V1-43] and IR came up with a helpful suggestion, we got it open. The vault opened up and inside was the schema and some potions. I was trembling with excitement! There was some gold in there as well, and silver.

    The schema is beautiful. The sketching below doesn't do it justice, so I made a wax casting of it [ref: CJ-V2-19]. I'll be sad to give it Lady d'Vown.

    [picture included]

    Now I'm off to dinner. We're going uptower to celebrate Twiggy's birthday.

    ...

    I've been busy today, and am now very tired. It's late. I sold the excess gear we'd recovered today, and had a long discussion with father about using the location of the Cannith vault to curry favor in the House. Father allowed me to sign the first letter to the House, so that my name would be the first House Cannith saw. Father said he would be taking over negotiations from there, though. I have high hopes that this will turn out well.

    Now, I'm off to bed.

    ...

    The DC met this evening with Lady d'Vown. She had a familiar-looking warforged with her, acting as bodyguard. I think it's the same warforged we contemplated kidnapping when we were planning our Deathsgate Initiation [ref: PJ-V1-82]. Strange, that coincidence.

    Lady d'Vown seemed in a hurry -- maybe even distracted -- but she also appreciated what we'd done. She paid us in full and told us how we might get in contact with her again: in case she had more work she needed done.

    The DC stayed together for a short while, enjoying dinner, before going our seperate ways for the evening. Some time during the night a man (halfling) came to us with a proposal -- evidently the DC looks like a full-fledged adventuring company now. Not surprising given the group's leader. The halfling's proposal, however, involved stealing from MU. Between that and some potential grave robbing, we were vocal enough in our disapproval that the little man went his way. I think I offered to do something for him, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it might have been.

    . -- An excerpt from the Personal Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 2



    "Boots, one (1) pair, style: Wroat Longstriders, color: charcoal, size: 9, 160 silver
    Socks, six (6) pair, black, 6 silver
    Total: 16,6 gold"

    "Three red roses, long-stemmed, 9 copper
    Three yellow roses, long-stemmed, 9 copper
    Three magebred roses, eternal (red-spectrum), long-stemmed, 390 silver
    Three magebred roses, eternal (yellow-spectrum), long-stemmed, 369 silver
    Tax: 107 copper
    Total: 771 silver, 5 copper"

    "2 chicken wraps, extra sauce -- 4cp"

    . -- An excerpt from the collected reciepts of Artemis Heuw, tax year 998 YK

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 3

    "...decided to partake of it, as an experiment only. I removed my mask [ref: CJ-V2-27] and breathed in the fumes. Almost immediately, a blue-ish symphonic liquid bled from my left hand and started floating towards the scar on my right elbow [ref: PJ-V2-65] while singing a quavering song to the displacer fur which was, itself, beginning to crawl out of its rhythmically pulsating storage container to attack the copper shavings held in their silver bowl. What the copper shavings were doing is something I never wish to think on again. I have replaced the 'Mild hallucinogenic vapors' warning on the potion's schema with something a bit more stern...."

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 2



    "Dinner itself was mediocre. I was surprised, though, to find that I really was interested in what the rest of the DC had been doing in the last week. More surprising, it had been a full week since we were last together. Where does the time go?

    Never mind. I just read back a few pages. I have been very busy lately.

    We really should choose a better place to meet than the Broken Anvil, but I suppose it has special significance for this group [ref: PJ-V1-101]. If I could only remember where Heaven's Augur was, I would recommend that we start meeting there. They had a wonderful fish stew and it seemed a relatively quiet place.

    I told the DC about my meeting with wagon master Donnovan [ref: PJ-V2-41] and the problems he'd been having making deliveries to a certain part of the Cogs. I told them, too, that he suspected that some of his recent hires were in collaboration with the troublemakers, and that he'd heard of our team and wanted to hire us to escort his wagons. They agreed to help out. This will be two favors, then, that Donnovan owes me [ref: PJ-V2-13]. I'm not sure how best to capitalize on that, but, as father says, "Favors buy what gold cannot."

    CA has been taken in by the Caerlyn Blades, after gaining the attention of General Tyrell himself. He was even offered a position but is thinking of turning it down. It seems unlikely, but maybe he doesn't know of the Blades' reputation? I just don't understand it. Maybe elves think differently than regular people.

    GR says he's doing inquisitive work, but he's never mentioned having a license. Note to self: ask GR about this tomorrow.

    IR has taken on work at the Dragon Crypts, and she, too, has garnered attention from the highest level. The head priestess has asked for her help in what may be some undead in the Fallen. It might just be some superstitious low-dwellers, though. It sounds pretty easy, so we all agreed to go with her when she looks into it in the morning. Maybe we'll find something interesting, but I doubt it.

    XL may have been with us. As we were discussing our last week, though, it didn't sound like he'd been doing anything of interest. That is enough to make me think it was actually him. If it was someone pretending to be XL, I'm sure they would have had an interesting story or two to tell.

    When I got home tonight, father informed me that he was attending an MU function tomorrow night to witness the unveiling of some ancient armor or other. I think I've heard of it before. Ah! [ref: PJ-V2-28] The important, part, though, is that I would be in charge of the business while they were gone. I acted casual, of course, but found the prospect very exciting! I'll have to set out a nice outfit for tomorrow.

    ...

    What a horrible day. Okay, this evening wasn't that bad. I had a very engaging conversation with Heuriv Ellibib, who is the brother to the ex-assistant to Merrix d'Cannith himself. I think I came across very favorably. The day didn't start there, though.

    The DC met at the Broken Anvil once again, and went from there to the Fallen. I was prepared for anything, just in case, and even brought my most complex scroll to date [ref: CJ-V2-42]. I should have used it, too, but I was overly concerned with the cost involved. It probably cost me seventy-five gold to create! Well, that's the last time I worry about that.

    I'm getting ahead of myself, again. We journeyed down to the Fallen. The architecture (or what remains of it) down there is relatively spectacular. But that's what I would expect of Sharn's old temple district. Now it's all rubble and disrepair. A shame, really.

    IR had been told that there might be some connection between the strange lights in the district and some local disappearances. There was talk of ghosts. Looking around, I thought that appropriate for the area, shadowed, as it was, by the high towers. Almost nothing of the morning sun made it's way down there. We asked some of the locals what had been going on, and they said that most of the odd happenings were near Blackstone Temple, an old Silver Flame temple that had been abandoned decades ago. The place looked in okay condition. It had certainly not been kept up, though.

    Our initial exploration showed very little. Two wings to either side of the main chapel had been home to squatters for quite a while. They were abandoned now. XL thought he saw signs of a struggle and someone being dragged away, but I didn't see anything. We went towards the upper chambers and continued our investigation. I cleverly found a concealed compartment in what was probably one of the larger living chambers. There was a trap on the door mechanism, which I easily bypassed. Those new tools were a definite help [ref: PJ-V2-28]. Inside were a number of spell reagents. I was on the verge of working out their properties when IR interrupted to tell me that if used in conjunction with a summoning spell, the creature summoned would be heartier and tougher than otherwise. I confirmed her suspicions, then let her keep them. She says that she summons undying creatures, though I have yet to see that happen.

    Note to self: ask for some of the stones back so that I can use them to create summoning scrolls. Maybe a small bag or a hat that one could pull small animals out of? Hm.... Never mind about that last one -- I'm not really sure how I'd go about making something like that. Still: get a couple of the stones back.

    GR was sure he'd heard moaning coming from this upper level (I hadn't heard anything) so we started looking around some more. We were poking around in the upper gallery, overlooking the main audience chamber, when my day really took a turn for the worse.

    At first, I though someone had thrown a warm, heavy leather bag over my head and pulled the drawstrings closed. It was very, very heavy, though, and I had trouble keeping my balance. It started squeezing -- and I think it was chewing on me as well. I tried to rid myself of whatever it was, and screamed for help. I'm not sure anyone heard me. I suspect that the rest of the DC were fighting against it, as I'm sure I felt their weapon blows bashing me about the head and shoulders. I was suffocating. Maybe they drove it off, but I'm pretty sure that it was with the strength bourne of desperation that I finally managed to free myself of the creature. Suddenly, the creature flew up into the air and off across the cathedral. Good thing, too, as I had almost blacked out.

    I lowered myself gently to the floor, and as soon as my vision returned to me I used an invigorating scroll [ref: CJ-V1-89] to restore myself. At first, I thought my vision was still playing tricks, but it looked like whatever it was that had attacked me was surrounded with a cloud of magical darkness. Maybe that's why my companions were beating on me instead of the creature. None of us, it seems, had gotten a look at it. And we wouldn't get the chance, either. There was a strangely familiar noise of metal parting flesh, and IR screamed.

    Somehow during the fight, a group of three glowing-eyed, armed and armored skeletons had snuck up on us from the stairwell. They had almost surrounded IR before they launched their attack and she was bleeding profusely.

    Nearly unconscious, with only a slow regenerative spell on me, I had another fight on my hands. CA charged across the balcony but the creature deflected his blade with it's broad steel shield. GR moved up too. IR shouted a warning to us, telling us that these were Karnaathi skeletons, tougher and smarter than normal undead.

    I can't believe I just used the phrase "normal undead".

    I was far too taxed to hasten any of my infusions, so had to resort to my scrolls. [Reminder: get more quick-acting combat scrolls.] I read off one that should have slowed down one of the creatures, but the lighting was poor and I was still suffering from the earlier assault on my person, so I missed. IR was using some sort of ancient Aerenal magic to damage the undead soldiers: they were all showing new signs of deterioration. GR and CA were doing it the old fashioned way, with axe and blade. Their weapons seemed ill-suited to the task, though. I think XL was trying to help, but would always hesitate just before going in.

    I went back to my earlier training to find a weapon against these creatures. Enchanting three small stones [ref: PJ-V1-39], I began to use them as potent weapons. I was afraid of hurting my companions, though, and kept on throwing them too wide of the brawl.

    CA was the first to go down, or maybe it was IR. GR was using the recently purchased healing wand [ref: PJ-V2-30] against the creatures, which seemed rather counter-intuitive, but it looked to be having an effect. One of the skeletons was down at this point, but with fewer combatants in play, they started to realize who the real danger was and came towards me. Trapped on the upper balcony twenty feet above the stone floor below, with a wall to my right and railing behind me and to my left, I had no where to go. I only had one stone left. I think that's when it occurred to me that I was in trouble.

    The skeleton rushed me, driving me back. I stepped aside and threw the last of my stones, but it bounced harmlessly off the skeleton's shield. I cursed, sure that should have worked. It charged me a second time, and I realized that I had my back to the balcony railing. Well, I had my back to the railing for a moment. Coming in low, the skeleton hit me flat on with his shield, stood up, lifting me off the ground, and lunged two steps forward. He stopped at the railing. I didn't.

    It was a weird sensation, getting thrown into the air like that. Time stood still for a moment, and it felt like I was lying on a thick bed of nothingness, looking up at the soot-covered ceiling of the temple while someone else's arms and legs kept flailing through my vision. I had enough time to think to myself: "That shield is pretty useful. I should get one of those," when the floor hit me and my vision doubled. Luckily, my regenerative magic had had enough time to do it's work. The fall hurt me, but didn't take me out.

    I stood up immediately and used another infusion to enchant more stones [ref: PJ-V1-39]. I'm not the type to just lie around while my friends are getting killed! The skeleton had charged back towards GR and XL, so I couldn't see him above me any more. I could hear him, though. Running across the room, I used another infusion to enchant the first stone with sure striking [ref: PJ-V1-52]. I still couldn't see the skeleton up in the balcony, though, so I yelled for my friends to drive him closer to the edge. The only response I got was GR crying out in pain and then a heavy "thud" on the balcony above me. Looked like it was up to me again to save the day.

    Running off under the far balcony, I finally caught a glimpse of the animated skeleton. More specifically, I saw a helmet and a bloodied sword, both moving purposefully about. Knowing that the sure-strike enchantment was about to wear off, I threw the stone with all my might. I didn't see it hit, but the helmet flew sharply up into the air, surrounded by bone fragments. I heard the creature fall to the floor. Success!

    I rushed upstairs after that, knowing that time was precious. CA had already been revived, but IR and GR were both down. Grabbing two potions off of IR's bandolier (neither of which were House Cannith, I noted), I used the first on IR and told XL to use the other on GR. We saved them both before they could bleed to death. Not that they showed any appreciation for what I had done.

    With IR revived, it took only a moment for everyone to get to their feet again. She immediately started healing people and tending wounds. That's when we heard more noise in the stairwell. Almost as one, we made for the far stair to get out of there. (Naturally, I had the presence of mind to grab two of the swords that our attackers had used against us. From all appearances, they were of the highest quality. GR grabbed the one suit of breastplate, and I ended up with a helmet somehow.) We ran as fast as we could. I briefly saw three more armored skeletons making their way towards us before we were outside and safe. We didn't stop running, of course, until we were almost two full towers away. That was a close one!

    We had arrived at the landing pad across from the White and Gold before I realized we were in the wrong part of town. I reminded our driver that we had specified the Dragon Crypts, not Dragon Tower, but he just stared blankly at me. That's when I noticed the large contingency of redcloaks that had approached our cab. We all dutifully got out and followed them to their commander. He berated us for interfering in some sort of investigation, and took the weapons and armor we had recovered. He was kind enough to produce a writ for our troubles, though. It was a more than fair price for the artifacts we had recovered. Once we were escorted out, each of us went our separate ways. I had business to attend to to.

    I got home to find that something had come up and father would not be attending the gala at the university. Instead, he was sending me to "represent the family" at the affair. I had two extra tickets, but couldn't for the life of me figure out who to invite. After agonizing a bit more over what to where, it occurred to me that I didn't have much time to find someone to go with me. I had Jenvis send out letters to a few of the places where the DC were likely to be found. In each letter I told them that I had two extra tickets to the event and invited them along.

    I must have been truly flustered by the day's events. I arrived at the Cork & Bull, where the letter had said to meet, and all four of the DC had showed up, excited to go. GR and CA had even bought new outfits for the occasion. (I didn't say anything, but they looked a bit pretentious.) After explaining that I only had the two tickets, IR bowed out of the honor. She said she had something to do. CA and GR both expressed interest in going. XL didn't say anything, but I suspect he was sad that he couldn't go.

    After a few drinks, we walked to the lecture hall where the gala was held. Security was pretty tight, and I could see that a number of high standing citizens were in attendance. I counted no fewer than eight House Cannith rings on the people passing us by while we were waiting to get in. I thought I saw Merrix d'Cannith, also, but I might have been mistaken. I had a professor once who looked very much like him [ref: PJ-V1-56].

    The inside of the hall was decorated with replicas of famous Dhakaani artifacts. Naturally, I could tell the difference between the replicas and the real artifacts. A few of them were real, but they weren't terribly valuable. The breastplate that was the center attraction -- and the reason for this whole affair -- was up at the front of the room. It was cordoned off and concealed under a thick velvet covering. Evidently, it belonged to a very powerful Dhakaan king before he died. Now it must be famous, or something.

    I separated from CA and GR very quickly. Not from a need to distance myself from them, but because there were many influential people that I thought I should talk to. I circulated through the room, conversing with old acquaintances and trying to make new. A rather attractive girl -- obviously a student at the university -- was following me around for a while. I had never heard of her family, though, so I tried to politely distance myself. Finally, she found other interests.

    I spoke at great lengths with Heuriv Ellibib, and he introduced me to many members of House Cannith. They all seemed impressed with the fact that I was with the Fabricator's Guild, and more than a few of them had rightfully heard of the Heuw family. I realized this evening that I am a very sociable person.

    I was making excellent in-roads with Marriva Cannith -- she asked me to fetch the two of us a drink -- when the presentation started. Marriva has a very cutting wit, and I was having an excellent time listening to her comments during what would have otherwise been a very boring speech. The repoir between Marriva and I was shattered, suddenly, with the appearance of a number of armed gnolls. In rapid succession, they broke into the party, killed a few would-be-heroes, grabbed the breastplate, and disappeared in the confusion. Worst of all, some time during all the commotion, I lost track of Marriva!"

    . -- An excerpt from the Personal Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 2




    "... In fact, many of my colleagues consider me to be very 'adventurous': I am often willing to go deeper into the Cogs than any of my friends, even when only accompanied by one house guard, and there are very few ethnic foods that I will not try. Fear is not an emotion that Artemis Heuw understands!"

    . -- An excerpt from the Application for Attendance of Artemis Heuw, as received by Morgrave University, 994 YK

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 4

    "...completing the last of the blasphemous inscriptions. I double-checked the diagram [ref: CJ-V3-17] and carefully folded the parchment, making sure the arrows touched on both the top an bottom of the page. As expected, the re-arranged characters aligned to spell out something completely different, and vaguely humorous. Without wasting time, though, I allowed the troll's blood to stream down the paper and into the bowl, careful to let it flow over each of the glowing characters. Before the last bit of blood ebbed from the paper, I spit three times onto the flow, turning widdershins [ref: PJ-V3-12] after each expectoration. As I brought the last ingredient to bear, I hoped desperately that my source was reliable and that the monk who provided it was a holy man. I stirred the urine into the mix. It occurred to me at that point to wonder whether anyone of the DC would drink healing potions if they knew what went into them. Rather than dwell on that thought, however, I made a last-second decision to add the recommended sprig of mint to the mixture [ref: CJ-V3-15] and completed the potion."

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3




    "I complained the entire way home about how difficult it was to find the perfect vest for my needs, but the sky coach driver didn't show the least bit of sympathy. I tipped her, but not well.

    Since I was already running late, I only paused at the house long enough to change clothes, enjoy glass of wine, and have Jaiya give me a quick trim. (Not that any of the DC commented on my haircut.) Then I was away. It took a little longer than expected to get over to the Broken Anvil, but then it always does. I should really expect that by now. CA and IR were already there, and since we were supposed to get together for dinner to discuss the events at the University last night [ref: PJ-V2-99], I launched right into my tale. There were over two dozen people of import at the event, but all CA wanted to talk about was the gnoll attack. Honestly, I wonder why he even went.

    XL finally joined us at the table, only to blurt out some story of how he and GR and some other person had tried to infiltrate a fanatical cult down in the cogs, but that GR and Yithrak -- the man who took them down there -- had been captured. I've seen what cults can do down in the cogs [ref: PJ-V1-17] and I was impressed that XL got away. In fact, I was about to tell him so when another stranger -- some half-naked northlander wearing a rather uncomfortable looking chain skirt -- came up to the table. XL tried to take my wine.

    The newcomer -- Daimhin by name -- told us that he'd overheard XL's story. It turns out Yithrak is a business companion of his, and he'd been hired to scout out another way into the cultists stronghold. He told us then of a chasm that goes from the lower cogs down to where the cultists meet. He offered to join us, too, if we would help him recover his friend. It would have been nice of him to offer a reward or something, but since GR was down there, too, we took him up on his offer. XL had the presence of mind, when fleeing the cultists, of grabbing a number of robes and amulets so that we could disguise ourselves.

    We were there for a nice dinner -- well, as nice a dinner as one can have at the Broken Anvil -- not an exploration into the depths of Sharn. Nobody was really ready for this, but we had to go, didn't we? We picked up to leave. Naturally, I had to pay for dinner.

    Earlier in the evening, I had been talking to someone that I thought was XL. I looked around, but couldn't find her. I probably should have said something at the time, but there was a lot of excitement and everybody was ready to go, so I didn't. Maybe if I tell XL that I'm giving him a magical bell of protection, he'll wear it.

    It took a fair amount of time to get down to Khyber's Gate, where the cult met. We came at it from above, and I could tell immediately from the architecture and other clues that there was a chance that this "temple" use to be, in fact, the ancient meeting hall of the Order of the Closed Circle. The guild hall of the Order was lost years and years ago when the church of the Silver Flame came and "purified" them. Something about consorting with the evils of the Dragon Below, and experimenting on abominations. I don't remember much about them, but they never struck me as the particularly "evil" sort. Ah, well. The Silver Flame is always crusading against someone. Maybe they had simply run out of real enemies to pick on When we were close to our destination (though, to be honest, I hadn't been able to differentiate one place from another for the last half hour) I placed a prolonged enchantment of slaying [ref: CJ-V1-21] on my cane. Keeping it at a distance (I had set the enchantment to kill all humans) I placed another on top of it to knock my enemies unconscious, rather than kill them outright. Those cultists didn't stand a chance! Well, they wouldn't have, had we actually faced any. Why do so many of my preparations go to waste? Coming down the chasm, we came out on the roof of the temple. Strange to think of an underground structure as having a roof. Regardless, We were in a large, round chamber, it's roof supported by a circle of pillars that surrounded a hole leading down. There were only a few torches, and I was having a devil of a time seeing anything. DA charged silently out of the darkness, whispering harshly that there were guards up ahead. Lucky thing I was busy dusting the dirt off of my clothes when he crept up on us like that, or I would have walloped him a good one with my cane.

    While I'm thinking about it: Reminder to self -- get a new cane! One that holds enchantments better.... Stupid cane.

    Anyway, DA waved in the general direction of the guards -- beyond the light, naturally -- and we started to creep forward. No, not forward. I moved silently forward, the rest of the DC and DA scattered, slinking off gods knows where.

    The wizards of the Closed Circle hired some very cunning architects to build their guild hall. I moved forward to get behind a pillar, but what looked like a crude carving into the stone column was, in fact, an ingeniously shaped shelf designed to disappear from view when looked at from a certain angle. Unfortunately, it was built to disappear from sight when it was seen from my angle, and I bumped into it. Imagine my surprise: I was sneaking up on distant enemy when a goblin-shaped shadow came suddenly around the column. It turned out to be nothing more than a vase on the shelf, but I didn't realize it in time. If it had been a goblin, it would been killed, because I batted at it mercilessly with my cane. As it turns out, though, it was merely a vase on the shelf, which shattered quite loudly in the otherwise still hall.

    I have always been quick of wit, though, and used the sudden noise as a way of distracting the guards, who were about to engage with DA. CA, with his elven eyes, had been sniping at the guards using his bow. IR seemed lost somewhere in the dark.

    I grabbed a torch off of the column and moved towards the guards, hoping to find them in the darkness. A cultist rushed out of a side door at me, and I was about to give her a good drumming when she revealed herself as XL. Lucky for her I have such good reflexes. She was trying to trick the guards into thinking that she belonged there so that she could get closer. I wish she'd let us know of these plans before running off on her own.

    Off in the darkness, the fight was on. XL rushed off in that direction. Rather than charge in blindly myself, though, I threw the torch towards the noise, hoping to finally catch sight of the guards. Not surprisingly, XL was in the wrong place at the wrong time and she barely managed to avoid my well thrown torch. It landed at her feet, nearly catching her robe on fire. She gave me the oddest look. I rushed in to find DA and GR engaged with what looked like four goblins. They were weird little creatures, though. There were only two of them, but each looked like two goblins smashed together. Freakish. CA came in right behind me, and IR had cleverly snuck around to flank them. IR chanted, and a skeleton appeared, and began to attack the goblinoids.

    I don't remember how much damage I unleashed upon the goblin-creatures. The fight was over just that fast.

    We listened for a moment, and couldn't hear any sign of alarm. The noise we'd been hearing the whole time was still going: a droning chant of some sort. While XL and GR tried to hide the bodies, I explored the room. The hole in the center of the chamber led straight down -- far down. We were on the flattened roof of a dome, which extended below us. Built into the dome were two more levels, each open in the center just like this room. The hole expanded as it went down, though, and each floor going down had a wider and wider opening in it's center. At the very bottom was the temple itself. It was packed with chanting cultists and priests, all gathered around a central shaft -- the same shaft I was standing at the top of -- which continued through the floor and into darkness. Thanks to my excellent eyesight, I could see a grate at the very bottom, some two hundred or so feet below me. The cultists were all wearing similar brown robes, and we couldn't tell one from the other.

    It was obvious, though, that their ritual was coming to a head. We had to hurry.

    We made it two levels down before we saw any guards again. Human guards, this time. They were a quarter way around the large opening in the floor, watching the proceedings down below, and never saw us. We got a quick peek of what was going on, and it was trouble! GR and YI stood at the edge of the pit below us, standing between two priests. They seemed rather passive. The high priestess was there, going on and on about how these two sacrifices would be pleasing to the Dragon Below. They were about to sacrifice GR and YI to whatever was in that pit!

    This is as good a time as any to mention the incense. In the large chamber below were a number of braziers, used not only for light and heat, but for the burning of a very strange incense. I had noticed the odd fumes earlier, of course. Years of training in alchemy had tuned my senses to the point where I could determine immediately that there was something wrong in the air. I theorized that the toxic fumes from the braziers had enraptured GR and YI, breaking their will completely and making them very susceptible to the wiles of the cult's chanting. It's a shame they didn't have my training. If they had, they wouldn't have succumbed to the fumes.

    I was just working all of that out, and thinking about how pleased the Dragon Below would be at the cult's sacrifices, when we raced away to launch our rescue attempt. IR, with her quick elven reflexes, was the first to spring back towards the stairs. In her zeal to get moving, she slapped me rather hard and was dragging me away from the edge. I took a quick moment to clear my eyes of the smoke, but told her that I was right behind her. We ran. XL told us that he had a plan, and that he would distract the ceremony long enough for us to get GR. In an instant, I had my own plan, and we raced back up to the third level.

    The drop from the third level to ground level was about forty feet. What's more, the hole at this level was about forty feet wider than the hole on the ground floor. We had one length of rope with us. I did some quick calculations: that rope would be just enough to reach from the edge here to the edge of the pit in the main chamber where GR stood. The problem we had was that there was no railing around the hole, nor anything to tie the rope to. DA volunteered to anchor the rope, and began to climb down so he could hang off of the edge of the pit. That would give us even more room to work.

    XL had begun her "distraction" from the level below us, taking on the guise of the head priestess and decrying her an infiltrator. No one was buying it. In fact, the head priestess responded to XL's announcement by throwing YI into the pit!

    I tried to infuse a spell into the rope [ref: CJ-V1-29], but the accursed thing wouldn't hold. I was trying to animate the rope but it was resisting me. Obviously, it was of shoddy craftsmanship. We had run out of time, though. With an exultant cry, the head priestess grabbed GR and threw him over the edge of the pit. I swear he hovered in mid air for moment.

    DA, hanging upside down over the edge of the pit and holding the coil of rope in one hand, must have succumbed to the intoxication of the vapors coming up from below. With a bellow (his face actually turned a deep purplish red), he threw one end of the rope towards CA, and dove after GR. He literally launched himself off of the side of the wall down towards the pit. Forty feet down, he rebounded off of three cultists, and towards the hole. Surprised, I looked to CA. He stood at the edge of the hole, his eyes following the plunging descent of an enraged, two hundred and fifty pound man. Then his eyes went to the rope in his hand, and followed it's length all the way down to where it wrapped around DA's wrist. CA shrugged, slightly, and casually tossed the end of the rope over the side. It literally snapped in midair as it suddenly shot downwards, following it's anchor. In a split second, it was gone. DA was gone, but we had troubles of our own. Thanks to XL's distraction, the cultists knew where we were. The head priestess ordered our capture.

    Thinking quick, I yelled "Let's get out of here," and we ran to the staircase, heading up. If we could just get to the chasm above us that we had used to climb down here, then we might get away. I met XL in the stairwell as we pounded our way up the stairs. CA hung back, to protect us.

    Never let it be said that a Heuw will leave one of his own behind, though. We got up to the roof with cultists, priests, and guards right behind us. Instead of running over to the rope that hung from the chasm above, I ran over to the hole to look down. I was looking for some sign of GR. IR followed, and dropped a lit sunrod. I tried to tell her that dropping a sunrod two hundred feet onto someone's head would likely kill them, but didn't think she'd hear me over the shouts and curses of the pursuing cultists. CA hung back at the head of the stair, ready to buy us whatever time we needed.

    IR and I watched the sunrod fall down; past the two levels below us, past the priestess, still standing at the edge of the pit, and into the darkness beyond. It was too far away for me to properly see where it landed, but IR, with her keen elven eyes, said that someone -- probably DA -- had picked the sunrod up and was waiving it in the air. GR and YI were standing next to him, mindless of their perilous situation.

    They were still alive, and I knew it was up to me to save them.

    Quickly, I shouted to CA to hold back our pursuers. He, IR, and XL did what they could. I chanted, very precisely, the words that would instill into my cane a spell that would allow us to float gently to the bottom of the shaft [ref: CJ-V1-7]. My accursed cane wouldn't take the magic, though, and the infusion failed. That wasn't good.

    CA had already dropped one guard, and proved to be a very effective barrier against anyone from coming up the stair. From the other stairwell came one of the lead priests. I had the opportunity to see him as XL and IR fought to keep him at bay, and regretted the distraction. He was a monstrous man-like creature, with tentacles growing out of his shoulders or back. IR had summoned a small zombie to slow it down. As I looked, the tall creature simply punched through the undead with one of it's tentacles, and appeared to be shredding to pieces from the inside.

    I realized then the danger we were in. I had time for one more infusion, then we would be over-run. Unfortunately, I gauged the power of the magic I could create, and realized that I would only be able to stop the descent of three of us. Would I allow CA to sacrifice himself honorably? Did the world really need another changeling?

    With every ounce of focus I could come up with, I prepared my final infusion. Instead of placing it in my cane -- which had betrayed me on so many occasions -- I put the infusion into my longcoat. I was wearing the charcoal grey coat that Twiggy got for me last year [ref: PJ-V1-67]. Success! Turning, I shouted to CA, "We're leaving. Now! Go for the hole!"

    The last word was barely out of my mouth when he abandoned his position and raced past me, diving headlong down the hole. For the briefest moment, I thought about how funny it would be if we decided to climb out, instead. I didn't think CA would appreciate the joke, though. IR either, for that matter.

    Rather than take the time to turn and dive gracefully through the hole, I simply threw myself backward, grabbing for IR and XL. XL, naturally, took that opportunity to enact his own plans, and dodged to the right one step. I had IR, but had missed XL. I felt really bad about that for some reason.

    Luckily, I was barely over the edge when XL turned and dove after us. I wrapped myself around IR and triggered the slow fall enchantment, targeting CA down below me, XL up above me, and IR. I clung to her for dear life.

    I don't want to say that our descent was slow and controlled, but it was rather exhilarating, like flying downward. We fell gracefully down past the floor of the temple, past the smiling head priestess, and into the darkness beyond.

    Things became far less exhilarating when my enchantment ended. We were floating down through the darkened shaft when the spell simply ended, and we started to plummet. Plummet. There's something I don't ever want to do again. XL and IR both screamed. I don't think I even had time to react. Then, suddenly, we were floating again, out of the shaft and into a large, poorly lit room. GR, YI, and DA were all standing there. Just the way they were a moment ago. Unhurt. When we saw them from so far above.

    I should have realized it earlier. Obviously, there would be a feather fall zone at the bottom of a shaft like that. This place was built by wizards, after all.

    Somewhere above us, the grate crashed closed."

    . -- An excerpt from the Personal Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3



    . -- Sharn longcoat (midnight blue) -- glamourweave
    . -- Wroat Longstriders (boots) -- size 9, dark blue
    . -- Mortar and pestle set -- adamantine, 2#
    . -- 'The Purpose of the Forge' by Merrix d'Cannith
    . -- Sourshards, or anything with dark chocolate from Millatan's Sweet Shoppe
    . -- A new skyboat, red
    . -- An excerpt from the List of Acceptable Gifts for Artemis Heuw, Festival of Thronehold, 998YK

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 5

    "... flaring into light in order, one after another, until it took on the exact shape of the dragon constellation. I paused, then, unsure what to do. The crystal at the creature's eye was pink, and the nose blue, and those were supposed to be reversed. It was something that would only matter if someone was detecting the vest for magic -- and even then only if they were looking at it from behind -- but it bothered me. I was only two hours into the process, so I allowed the enchantment to fade, reversed the crystals, and started over, using my stylus [ref: CJ-V3-66] to draw the magic to the crystals, one at a time. It was like working one of those numbered drawings in a child's book, but this time I would get it right."

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3



    "I don't want to say that our descent was slow and controlled, but it was rather exhilarating, like flying downward. We fell gracefully down past the floor of the temple, past the smiling head priestess, and into the darkness beyond.

    Things became far less exhilarating when my enchantment ended. We were floating down through the darkened shaft when the spell simply ended, and we started to plummet. Plummet. There's something I don't ever want to do again. XL and IR both screamed. I don't think I even had time to react. Then, suddenly, we were floating again, out of the shaft and into a large, poorly lit room. GR, YI, and DA were all standing there. Just the way they were a moment ago. Unhurt. When we saw them from so far above.

    I should have realized it earlier. Obviously, there would be a feather fall zone at the bottom of a shaft like that. This place was built by wizards, after all.

    Somewhere above us the grate crashed closed, locking us in.


    We landed in a large, round room. I landed gracefully on my feet, letting go of IR so she could do the same. Maybe I held her for too long, though -- she bumped noisily to the ground, as did CA and XL. CA was on his feet in an instant, though, ready for trouble. We didn't find any. Not yet. It was out there, though, and on it's way.

    We were in an ancient library, ransacked long ago. Every open wall held shelves for books. They were universally empty, curse our luck! Circling the room, just a short distance above us, was a wide balcony angled theater-style so that observers on the top deck could look down to the lower floor. In the center of the ceiling was the opening we had fallen through. It looked quite out of reach. Doors led from this floor to other chambers. A few of the doors were big enough that they probably led out, too. I was checking one such door, and XL another, when we first noticed something wrong.

    Far above us, the hole in the ceiling was flickering a harsh blue-white light. Accompanying the sound was a rapid, uneven clicking noise and many strange footfalls. A creature appeared, bulbous and horrific. It's tentacles waved spastically through the air while it's four feet clung to the underside of the ceiling. It climbed inverted across the roof and down the wall towards us.

    To be honest, I wasn't sure that my companions were in any shape to deal with the creature, and I didn't think I could take it by myself. I wasn't even sure what it was. Worse, the enchantment on my cane [ref: PJ-V3-19, CJ-V1-21] was geared towards dropping humans with a touch. And this thing was not human -- even now, after the fact, I'm still not sure what it was!

    It was getting closer, so I hurriedly turned back to the door I was working on, looking for a way through. I glanced over my shoulder, knowing that it would be a mistake. And it was. The creature was drawing closer. I pulled on all of my training to focus on the task at hand, turning my attention back to the lockpicks I had out to work the door. The enchantment on the lock must have warded it against anything other than it's intended key, though, because the tools shook uncontrollably in my hands. Behind me, the creature growled, charging. Someone near me cried out in terror, and I turned, knowing that I was it's intended target.

    When I spun around, I realized that everyone had moved from where they were a moment ago. CA and YI were now out into the center of the room, trying to draw the creature's attention. XL was still over at his door, trying to open it. GR and IR had slid around so that they could flank the creature once it engaged with CA and YI. DA stood back guarding XL. I didn't understand that last bit at all.

    The creature charged, reaching out a tentacle towards CA. A bright blue-white flash of light arced between the two of them, and CA reeled back, badly burned by the spark of electricity. He came back in, though, blades lashing out in an attempt to kill the creature.

    GR got one shot off with his crossbow, then moved in with his axe. IR summoned another one of her undead -- "undying", she always calls them. I don't see the difference, really.

    Lightning kept arcing out of the creature, burning my companions. I knew that it would take more than mundane weapons to kill this creature. I was taxed, though, after so long a day. Calling upon the last of my inner reserves, I enchanted my cane once again [ref: CJ-V1-21], this time making it an anathema towards abominations like this one. I circled, looking for an opening. Timing is very important in these situations.

    Seeing my opportunity, I rushed in, striking a mighty blow. The creature convulsed, dead without really knowing it yet. Feebly, another tentacle lashed out and the last of it's electricity arced out to hit YI. Everyone else surrounding the creature hacked wildly at it, forcing it to the ground. I was about to tell them that they needn't bother: I had already killed the creature and it was merely in it's death throes. I didn't get the chance, though.

    There was a startled scream across the room -- another of these things had snuck in on us, and had just attacked IR from behind. I quickly formulated a plan to deal with it and shared it with my companions. Naturally, nobody listened. They simply raced across the room, charging and swinging their brutish weapons. I had to sigh. All this brilliance, and no one to listen to it.

    This one must have been a weaker or younger version of the first. By the time I got there, it was already dead, hacked up and torn apart like some sacrifice thrown before a rabid mob of barbaric hunters. In a way, it sort of was, I suppose. IR seemed angry at everyone. Not because we let this thing sneak up behind her (and isn't she the one with the keen elven senses?) but because her dead summoned kobold, or whatever it was, hadn't been able to find an opening in the fight that it could step into. It hadn't been able to attack this second creature at all.

    We looked around, but it appeared that those two creature were all we'd have to deal with. After some healing, we went back to searching the place.

    Four large doors lead out. Well, presumably they lead out. I quickly determined that they were all magically sealed, and well beyond our ability to open. Smaller doors all lead to what was once probably reading chambers or the like. We found nothing of use and nothing of value, and no way out. We were trapped.

    Which was fine by us. It had been a very long, grueling, excitement-filled day. Many of us were still sore from the climb, the fall, or the multitudes of fights we'd been in. We decided to close ourselves off in the largest of the private chambers to rest and refocus our energies. It was a long night, but we were undisturbed.

    The next morning, our plan was to have YI climb up the wall, across the ceiling, and into the shaft leading up. He said he could do his part, and since we'd had time to rest we knew that IR would be able to heal him up when he plummeted to the floor like the crazy fool he seemed. Amazingly, he made the climb -- and made it look easy. I instantly suspected him of being another one of those cockroach people [ref: PJ-V1-97], but I didn't want to voice my opinions and scare my companions. They are so excitable some times. YI tied his rope to the grate and dropped one end to the floor below. DA climbed up and used magic of some sort to trigger the grate mechanism in the room beyond. With squealing protestation, the grate swung open. That done, we all climbed up. All this climbing around was making my arms sore.

    We came up in a cross shaped room. Above us, the shaft continued up towards the main worship chamber. We decided to avoid a further climb, and see if we could find our way out from here.

    On one wall was a simple mechanism that tilted the grate up so that sacrifices -- such as ourselves -- could fall unhindered down the shaft. Braziers stood in the center of each of the small side chambers. A quick search indicated no secret way out through there. The longer hallway ended in a doorway, though, so CA and I snuck up towards it to find out what lay beyond.

    XL took on the form of a brutish looking warrior -- in poor street clothes. I wonder if he actually fights better when he makes himself look tougher? A moot question, perhaps, as this particular form certainly did not make him any smarter. XL continued his practice of stealing light sources by taking a torch out of it's sconce halfway down the hall. The hall, enraged, perhaps, that it's favorite torch was being stolen, immediately attacked.

    Countless tentacles sprouted from the wall opposite XL. They immediately grabbed him and started squeezing. Other tentacles waved about, separating CA and I from the rest of the group. XL cried out in pain and IR -- showing more sensitivity than sense -- jumped forward to try to heal him. She managed to get her spell off, despite the fact that she was battered about by writhing tentacles. Before she was done, though, she, too, was grabbed. GR jumped in and tried to grab XL, hoping to pull him out. CA jumped in too with the best weapon at his disposal; his very excellent scimitar. CA was slicing tentacles away from the wall at an alarming speed. There were too many, though, to make a difference. On the other side of this mess, DA and YI, too, attacked the tentacles.

    Knowing this would cause a commotion, I checked the door to see who would be alerted. Beyond was an empty guard room. Tables strewn with food, debris, or dice (it was hard to tell which) were haphazardly scattered around the room. There were a few chairs and what might have been bedrolls littering the ground, too. I was about to thank our luck, when the door on the opposite side of the room started to open. Curses!

    I turned in time to see CA free himself from the tangle of tentacles. GR and YI combined managed to free XL, but brave IR was wrapped nearly head to foot in the writhing purple feelers. She was slammed up against the wall, then pulled through it. She was gone!

    In the room behind me, guards poured into the room and immediately began to make it even more of a mess. They overturned two of the tables to use them as protection against our non-existent attacks. Some of them had crossbows, and started shooting towards the door. In the dim light of the room (evidently these creatures can see in the dark), they looked like more of those tall, tentacled "people" we'd seen upstairs [ref: PJ-V3-39]. There was almost half a dozen of them!

    I slammed the door, calmly telling my party that we had trouble. The tentacles in the hallway were still attacking. They must have reached some magic minimum number, though, as they suddenly melted away to reveal a hallway leading off to the side. An escape route! I took off at top speed immediately, as did most of my friends. YI jumped to the door I had just vacated, and stood in front of it, barring it with his mighty strength. He bid us go, boldly offering to sacrifice himself, not realizing we were already gone.

    IR stood in the hallway, her mace glowing under a newly placed light spell. She warned us that she had seen movement down the hall -- most likely those mutated goblin creatures. Seeking rapid escape, we all ran down the hallway.

    I paused long enough to check one of the side doors. Beyond I found a latrine -- filthy beyond description -- and in it one mutated goblinoid. It was too busy to notice us, even with our lights, so we simply let it be. There's probably a moral in there someplace: "Let stinking goblins sit." Okay, so maybe there isn't.

    GR and IR had continued down the hallway to find a human priest and two goblinoids recovering from what may have been a compromising situation. The priest was pulling on his boots: one of the goblinoids was brushing it's -- her? -- hair. The room was a rather large bedroom. We outnumbered the half-naked creatures handily, and they didn't last long. The priest put up a little bit more of a fight, but even he didn't have much fight in him. GR was sure that one of the goblinoids had gotten away, but I saw no other way out of the room. Crossing over to the other side of the bed, GR ripped a large tapestry off the wall, revealing another doorway. The party started through.

    Except for me. I stayed back to look over the priest and see if he had anything of interest. He had a couple of trinkets, and some keys, so I thought that an excellent find.

    I caught up to the rest of the group, and they were lost without my leadership. Next time, I should stay with them to hold their hands. There were a few side hallways here and there in these back halls. GR and CA stood at one intersection, with DA standing firm beside them. They were preparing to take an assault from a dozen-odd creatures from a nearby guard room. In said guard room, one of the tall, tentacled humans was driving a dozen or so goblinoid creatures on. Our recent fights had given them plenty of opportunity to pick up weapons and start donning armor. They were just finishing up, prepared to assault the collected defensive stance of GR, CA and DA.

    IR and XL, meanwhile, continued on down another hall and had come back to report that they found a secret door. It lead to a storeroom that we had passed on our way here, though, so the rest of the group paid it little mind. I was all for continuing our exodus, but the group had gotten in over it's head, again, and they would need my expertise if they were to survive.

    YI came screaming up behind us, then, followed by the guards he was supposedly keeping at bay. He didn't even make a passable doorstop. I fell back to help him, leaving GR, CA, and DA to defend their chosen ground.

    I will concede at this point that YI is an adequate fighter. In little enough time, we'd taken care of the four-armed goblins that had chased him so far. The fight behind us had been raging the whole time, and by the time we joined it, the mutants had been whittled down to half their number. It took a little work, but we managed to kill all of them without losing any of our own number.

    All this time, XL and IR had been wrestling with two of the mutant goblins in a very filthy storage room, trying to clear a path for our escape. We joined them in time to turn the tide and defeat the creatures, then decided as a group to go back through the first guard room we'd seen and hope that that was the exit. Beyond, we found stairs leading up -- which was the direction we needed to go -- but not into any place we'd been before.

    I am going to break the narrative here to mention that the natives of this place are the most paranoid, danger-seeking group of individuals I have ever had the misfortune to meet. Oft-used corridors were festooned with traps -- pits and deadfalls, spikes and arrows -- and we seemed to find every cursed one of them on our way out.

    So where was I? Oh, yes, the way out.

    We were travelling in a recently-created tunnel, rough-hewn walls carved out of the stone below Sharn as if by some monsterous creature. It was empty, if a bit damp. So eager were we to get out of there, that I am ashamed to admit that my feet were moving a bit quicker than my well-trainied mind. My dedicated years of training in alchemy and all things caustic allowed me to notice instantly that a harmless-seeming puddle was something far more dangerous, but my feet were already splashing through said puddle before I could redirect my steps. I leapt forward with a scream of frustration, for the puddle had just eaten through my newly-purchased -- and, I might add, rather expensive -- boots [ref: PJ-V2-117]. The acid burned my feet and legs, too, and I continued forward in a great deal of pain, trying to kick away the remnants of my very expensive and utterly ruined footware.

    Behind me, the puddle was moving -- an ooze of some sort, evidently. The rest of the party surged forward to combat the creature, and although it did not last long, it managed to splash both YI and DA, ruining the first's weapon and the second's armor.

    I had my own problems to deal with, though. My aggressive calls for assistance -- fueled to a somewhat higher-than-normal pitch, perhaps, by the pain in my feet and legs -- awoke something in the next chamber. More specifically, it awoke a swarm of something in the next chamber, and I was suddenly surrounded by a veritable cloud of large, leather-winged mosquitoes from hell -- if you will pardon the expression. There were dozens of them, give or take. Not content to simply flutter about and tangle themselves in my hair -- which they were doing, by the way -- a good many of them landed on me, digging into my skin with their claw-like feet and stabbing me with their wickedly sharp probiscii. They were sucking the blood right out of me!

    Now I am a man of fine constitution, and excellent health, but this had been a very rough day for me. Far worse than my usual day in the lab. In one day I had been stabbed by swords, bludgeoned by morning stars, eaten nearly alive by an aggressive caustic puddle. On top of that, I had been forced to climb to the top of an impossibly large chamber, had a full twenty-stone of bricks dropped on my head, and lost my best boots. I just didn't have much left in me.

    I gave it the old Heuw and cry, though, and valiantly lashed out against my new attackers. There were more than I could deal with, though, and I lost a lot of blood before I emerged victorious. IR and XL were there at the end, crushing the fist-sized bugs that had stolen so much of my precious fluid. GR had found himself a victim of the stirges, too, and looked in terrible shape.

    I sat down, done. I had lost so much blood, that it was an effort to even move. It took all the energy I had to complain to my companions about the ruin that was my outfit, and pick off the pieces of insect that still clung to me here and there.

    Our battle had not gone unnoticed, though. Just around the corner and up a few more stairs was a halway familiar to GR and XL, and they excitedly reported that we were nearly out. There were two guards up there, though. They had heard our fight but seemed unsure what to do. They were cultists -- humans, evidently. The rest of the DC went forward to deal with them.

    Not that I cared. I was too tired to get up to see what was happening. I sat there and tried to make myself presentable. From what I could hear from around the corner, one of the guards was the man that GR was sent in to rescue -- a young Cyran expatriot who went missing some days ago [ref: PJ-V3-26]. There was some sort of argument, and a fight broke out. My shirt and jacket were absolutely ruined. When you crush a feeding mosquito, there is always a small smear of blood left behind. This was just like that, except the mosquitoes were the size of my fist _before_ they were crushed. Large splashes of blood covered everything. The fight raged on while I worked at loosening a painfully embedded insectile limb from my forearm. Reinforcements had come into the fray in the form of the head preistess and more cultists. A solid-sounding k-thunk from around the bend, followed immediately by an exaltant shout and a pained cry, told me that someone, at least, was doing well. GR shouted out that YI had been killed. Why do insects always have hooked, spiny limbs? I was having a devil of a time untangling some of these pieces. Two very different battle cries -- it sounded like GR and CA -- sounded, and more bodies hit the floor. A voice I recognized -- but didn't bother identifying -- shouted for help, and I knew that my friends were in trouble. Now I know why you never see well-dressed adventurers. The cost of replacing one's clothing on a daily basis would be quite prohibitive.

    My boots were, as reported, absolutely ruined. I had nothing left but two heels, and the upper trim from the right boot. Why couldn't the whole boot been made out of the same material as the heel? I was going to study the oddity of the remaining heels further, but decided, instead, to save my friend's lives. I hobbled around the corner, loading my crossbow as I went.

    I came to the fight in time to see the head priestess fleeing. She ordered her two remaining soldiers to protect her retreat, and, for some reason, they did. There must be something about cults that inspires such loyalty in it's followers. I fired my crossbow at one of the remaining men. I probably killed him, though I honestly didn't care at that point. Whatever the result, the fight ended soon after I arrived.

    Everyone was still alive -- even poor YI. He was in bad shape, though. We had little healing available to us, and XL and GR agreed that the corridor to our right would take us out of there. DA picked up YI and moved up the stairs that lead out -- and immediately fell into a pit. He was mostly unhurt, but only because he had landed on YI. The corpse of YI, specifically. The fall, or something involved in the fall, had killed him.

    We were too exhausted, the lot of us, to react to YI's death. Tired, we gathered the body, looted the cultists, and made our way out. I wish the cultists had been carrying more money."


    . -- An excerpt from the Personal Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3



    "Twiggy. Found this, thought it was yours. Father found one last week and seemed startled and embarrased about it. Maybe you should keep these in your room."
    "Family. Have gone down to Fallen in Lower Dura looking for undead. Will return for lunch."
    "Father. Attached is calling card from fifth litigator to come to the house today. See you for dinner."
    "When you find this note, please put 20gp back into red vase emergency fund."
    "Jenvis. By 'quarters', I meant corner-to-corner. Please cut my sandwiches diagonally in the future."

    . -- An excerpt from Notes to Family and Staff, left around the house and authored by Artemis Heuw, 998YK

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    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw, Excerpt 6

    "... single piece of uninterrupted teak wood, with no metal of any sort: no cap on it's foot and no design on it's head. I bought the cane for it's simplistic beauty, thinking, at the time, that it's singular composition would act as a blank slate -- like a clean sheet of paper -- for holding my enchantments. No such luck. Time and again I have drawn the magical matrices that would hold a spell, and time and again the infusion failed to take hold. I know it's not me -- even my modesty cannot deny that I excel at this profession -- so it must be this equipment. I have composed a list of properties necessary for a cane of masterful craft, which must have the following elements...."

    . -- An excerpt from the Craft Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3



    "And so ends another fruitless day in my laboratory. I desperately need to restock my supplies if I want to start crafting again -- I simply cannot work in such a deplorable state of lack [ref: CJ-V3-87]. What I need, though, are funds. Maybe someone in the DC will have some employment for us? We'll see tomorrow
    ...
    My writing will be brief tonight, as I have been mercilessly pummeled, poked, prodded, and stabbed today. Again, perhaps I should say. Ah, well. "Brevity is a sign of genius," or something like that. I suppose it is no coincidence that I am a man of few words.

    The DC met for breakfast in our usual spot: the Broken Anvil [ref: PJ-V1-74]. Ah, the painful joys of greasy potatoes and aged "pork". We were trying to decide how to make some money -- legally, of course -- when the answer fell right into our laps. Little Robin Hazeltine, the halfling we were very nearly acquainted with [ref: PJ-V2-112] came to us with another job offer. Well, the same job offer, actually.

    He had heard that the Breastplate of Drakken Khas [ref: PJ-V2-99] was stolen, and he claimed to have some information as to it's where-abouts. Since he had asked us to steal it for him the first time we met, I was instantly suspicious that whoever he did get to steal it had double-crossed him. Those suspicions were wiped clean away, though, as soon as he mentioned that he would pay us each 1500 pieces of gold to retrieve it, then -- after he had a chance to look it over -- allow us to return it to Boromar [ref: PJ-V2-107], it's rightful owner. Since Boromar had a standing reward of 10,000 gold for the armor's return, that meant the tidy personal profit of 3500 gold for what sounded like a simple job!

    The rest of the DC wasn't as interested in the prospect, however. Maybe they have some form of income that I am not aware of. They were unseemingly paranoid about RH's motives, and didn't want to trust him at all. IR was still of the opinion that RH would use the map on the breastplate to "loot the sacred graves of the dead." That sounded like an excellent idea to me -- what better way to recover the treasures of the past -- for knowledge's sake -- but to pull them from their place of respectful rest? There's a small bit of coin to be made in the endeavor, as well. IR's argument has always confused me, but she sticks to it and insists that she will not allow RH to do such a thing.

    I was most of the way through a rather clever and well thought out conversational stratagem -- an argument that would end with the DC taking RH's job -- when we were very rudely interrupted. The timing was rather inconvenient, as I could see that nearly everyone was seeing things my way. All conversation stopped, though, when we were accosted at our table.

    Now the Broken Anvil is not a large place, as these things are measured, but it can hold a fair number of people. Most of the clientele of the Broken Anvil are regulars: why would anyone go down to Lower Dura unless they absolutely had to? Being a regular, myself, I was, of course, on friendly terms with nearly all of it's patrons. Those few I do not know by name I certainly know by appearance. These strangers stood out like shifters at a Jorasco family reunion.

    Naturally, my keen senses picked them out as newcomers the moment they came into the Broken Anvil. I had been watching them for some time, but, being caught up in my thesis as I was, lost track of them from time to time. CA and GR had been watching them, too, and after talking to the city watch about the days events, we compared notes. Thus, the complete narrative I am allowed to write here. I'm jumping ahead in the story, though.

    The three strangers -- it might have been four or five; maybe even six -- had been circulating amongst the tables, looking over the other patrons and occasionally asking them questions. One barbaric looking fellow -- who undoubtedly had some ogre blood in him -- had been rather aggressively questioning... the guy with the red hair and the missing fingers... I don't remember his name. Regardless, learning nothing from him, he was making his way towards our table when another figure walked through the front door, scanned the crowd, looked to our table, and ordered his compatriots to "get us".

    The ogre took two strides towards us, plucked our table out from between us, and, throwing said table behind him, bellowed, "Give us the map!" Our poor server -- who has never told me her name -- squealed and ran. Actually, that might have been RH's squeal. I'm not sure what happened to RH after that point. He was there one moment, then gone as soon as things looked dangerous.

    And dangerous they were! Naturally, we tried genteel persuasion to convince these folks that we did not know what they were talking about, but they weren't here for conversation. They were here for a map. Before I could take control of the situation, they proved just what they were willing to do to get that map, too.

    The ogre-man pulled a pair of swords, though, perhaps, "cleavers" would be a more apt description. GR is a fine fellow, and slightly more skilled than I in physical combat, so I infused his jerkin with an enchantment of endurance [ref: CJ-V3-21] and wished him luck. I backed away.

    At the same time, though, one of the ogre's accomplices made his presence known by stepping out of the shadows behind us and throwing a pair of knives into CA's back. He looked sorely hurt by that, and, drawing his double-scimitar, CA charged the man. IR, meanwhile, had engaged the third of our enemies, a priest or warrior of the Silver Flame decked from helmeted head to booted foot in heavy, metal armor. I leant my considerable talent to her aid, infusing the man's armor with an enchantment that would quickly heat his armor [ref: CJ-V3-12] and, hopefully, fuse it into one piece. XL, meanwhile, stepped over to help CA with his foe, and their combined prowess dropped him quickly. The fool had allowed himself to be surrounded, then tried to run.

    In the spot where our table used to be, GR and the man-ogre were engaged in fierce combat. CA joined in the fight, but got sliced open pretty badly for his troubles. He fell, bleeding.

    Muscle and steel are all well and good in a fight, but I know that there are far more dangerous weapons one can bring to bear. Across the room, a sorceress had involved herself in the fight, obviously part of the attacking group. My trained eye immediately made note of her mystical acumen, and I knew that I had to deal with her before she "dealt" with us. I sidled around the edge of the room, avoiding the grunting, sweating, and bleeding strains of the physical combats taking place around me.

    XL was shrinking away from the fights going on in the center of the room, and I was about to reproach him for this when the distraction almost brought me in range of the armored warrior's sword. I jumped back and went around him, focusing on my target, not my friends. It's a good thing I did, too, because the sorceress had just pulled a wand, and with a word, unleashed a lightning bolt at IR!

    All of the other patrons had cleared out by this point, so we had a little more room to fight. One of IR's summoned creatures fought the armored knight in the middle of the room, the knight's armor glowing a hot, cherry red. IR herself had just gone over to heal GR, who jumped back into his fight swinging. With this new insult, though, IR turned her attention on the sorceress. You would think that an Aerenal elf steeped in the ways of magic would have recognized the threat right off. Fortunately for the DC, I was there.

    IR needn't have worried about the woman, though. XL and I were there to deal with her. Between the two of us, we were able to keep her mostly under control, then, with one good thwack from my favorite cane, she crumpled to the ground.

    Some time during this, GR -- with the occasional and opportunistic help from the rest of us -- had taken out the barbarian. He staggered, bleeding profusely, and tried to turn his attention to the knight. On the way, though, he used a wand of healing on the comatose CA. That delay may have cost us our success. The leader of our opponents came back in the front door -- perhaps to see whether his friends had the upper hand yet. As that was not the case, he called for a retreat. The giant-man stood again, at that point, healed by some half-ogre trickery, perhaps. Under cover of his long arms and long blades -- he had quite a reach with those weapons! -- those enemies that could withdrew from the combat, running like cowards through the front door. They left a parting gift, though, in the form of a monstrous, summoned scorpion, easily as large as the table we had just had breakfast at. Another combat was upon us!

    This one did not last long, though. Between us, we were easily up to the task of sending that giant vermin back to whatever place it had been summoned from. IR had even managed to heal CA into wakefulness, who then tried to charge into the combat. He needen't have bothered, though. Just as he arrived, the creature collapsed, then faded away in the manner of summoned creatures.

    We quickly checked outside, but could find no sign of our enemies. They had escaped. We had downed two of them, though, and when the city watch came we were more than happy to tell our side of the story. Many of the bar patrons spoke up in our defense, even though I did not know any of them personally. A couple of them even inquired as to our health. That certainly was polite of them.

    Whether we were okay is neither here nor there, however, for we had been attacked in public for a reason that none of us could understand. To be more precise, my companions were stumped -- I knew exactly what was going on, even if I didn't know why. Whereas the rest of the DC thought the map in question was the Breastplate of Drakken Khas [ref: PJ-V2-99], I had more logically rationalized that the map that our attackers was seeking was none other than the map we had pulled from the Cannith vault [ref: PJ-V1-119], buried below Sharn these many years. I mentioned as much to the DC, who had as one forgotten all about said map. None of us knew anything about the it, though, so we decided that it would need more research.

    Always one to make the best of a bad situation, I must say that I kept my head about me, even as wounded as I was. The city watch had been given the whole story, so I can but imagine their surprise when they made a list of the weapons and items of our downed foes, and do not find a wand of lightning. I took the wand from under their very noses, and they didn't suspect a thing!

    Now I just have to figure out how to use it. If I had the money, I could properly identify it. As it is, I shall simply carry it with me, and call upon it's magics when next the need arises. I am sure that my perfect memory and my very extensive training in the field of artifice will prove up to the challenge of activating so powerful an item blindly.

    And even if, by some small chance, I fail, what is the worst that can happen?

    ...

    It's been a full day since the attack at the Broken Anvil, and I am finally feeling up to moving about again.

    After receiving word from professor Boramar ir'Dayne at MU [ref: PJ-V2-107], the DC gathered at his office to discuss the missing breastplate. The night that it was stolen [ref: PJ-V2-121] we had offered BD our services in helping him recover it. He was rather out of sorts that night, but has decided now to take us up on our offer.

    The little halfling droned on and on about the very complicated history of the armor, it's relationship with two other powerful artifacts -- one a sword and one a shield -- and how the set as a whole was a map of some sort. I have to admit that I wasn't paying a great deal of attention: staying awake during university lectures was always a problem for me. That is why I have always preferred private tutors.

    Regardless, he mentioned again the reward of 10,000gp for the return of the breastplate, and then gave us what information he could of the events that evening. I must confess: I was contemplating what ten thousand gold pieces could do to stock and refit my laboratory, and wasn't paying a great deal of attention. GR is the investigator amongst us, though, and he has promised to follow up on everything the professor mentioned. Good for him, I say. I have more important work to do.

    We left the Cannith map [ref: PJ-V1-121],in the hands of the professor and his ogre colleague. They showed some interest in the map, and said they would look into the matter. Maybe now we can find out what all the fuss was about!

    I spent the rest of the day imagining the possibilities of ancient Cannith treasures."


    . -- An excerpt from the Personal Journal of Artemis Heuw, Volume 3



    "All Creatures Huge and Tiny: A Field Guide to the Fauna Under Sharn"
    "Dealing with Dragons: A Treatise on Navigating the Customs and Etiquette of the High Courts"
    "Through The Looking Glass: A Traveler's Guide to the Twelve Known Planes"
    "Where's Your God Now?: Questioning the Relevance of the Dieties in Today's Society"
    "All Things Dark and Slimy: A Catalogue of the Things that Lurk Underwater, Under Your Bed, and Under Sharn"

    . -- An excerpt from the List of School Papers of Artemis Heuw, Morgrave University, 994YK

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