Dear Mom - Mishap Adventures of a Mommy's Elf - Page 2





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    6th of Rhune



    Dear Mom,


    Whatever you may have heard from our embassy – to which we have had no contact whatsoever, I can assure you, so they can't know a thing – is totally distorted. We did not cause mayhem. We prevented it.

    Here is what really happened. We got to the lighthouse – and yes, we still had the rings, whoever told you that – and used the floating disc spell Nev so incompletely manages to get in through some large, open archways some feet off the ground. Stupid construction if you ask me, and we were lucky the spell flopped once we were inside. Thanks to the noise we made when doing so, Uthas and Flip – I suspect it was them and no participation in the slaughter from Nev – dispatched the 4 guards posted on that level. I felt a bit sick, yes, there is something eerie about dead bodies being dragged off by seemingly no one. Then we made up the stairs, where either Uthas or Nev bumped into me. Yes, we had forgotten we couldn't see each other either and that there was no way we could communicate by touch. So when we came into the room where some of the lower tier cultist did some creepy ritual, I had no idea what to do. There was a funny smell in the air, and I guess I sniffed because the next moment, Flip whispered "rotten pillows." At least I'm pretty sure that is what he had said. I was close to panicked and before I know it, the room was burning like before. I have no recollection of even casting any spell, least of all one I am not completely capable off, but it must have been extremely powerful as it reeked of burned flesh and other stuff, and there was no one left in sight. That didn't help my panic so I ran on, not looking where the others were, and fell over Flip. Small people can be such a pain.

    Nev was somewhere cursing the cultists out for desecrating the shrine of the sea god. When I got up, we had all calmed down a bit and checked out the other two rooms. Flip is really clever with such things, he figured out what to move on either statue in the shrine rooms to make the next doors open. I did not get the details I fear, as I was a bit distracted by the dead body of a woman, a thief perhaps, which was floating in the Sea God's water shrine. Flip was indecent enough to search her and take some things. Somehow we ended up in a small hidden room, Nev who had somehow found me pushed me along to a staircase leading upwards.

    I was just about to take charge again when the trap door at the top was pushed open and we were greeted with a terrible smell. I was pushed into the room with the others, finding myself in a square room filling the whole level, as it seemed, and full of dead bodies. Flip said something about the missing workers but i sure didn't want to look that closely. Something was slurping and launched at us. I am not sure what it was, mom. It was definitely hostile, and this time it was Nev and me throwing the fireballs. Uthas cursed something vile and knocked us back down the stairs, not sure if accidentally or if he had judged where the spells came from. We barely caught ourselves. Flip says it was good that way or the fire would have caught. I told him that this was not true, that there had been enough space for us to avoid the blast. He said something about straw and old bedding, and then we smelled and heard that the fire was still going on. Dead bodies smell really awful when burning; at least the cultists below had had the decency to stop burning once they were dead.

    I guess Nev went up and did something with a cold spell, because we heard him bump something, probably his head judging from the gash on his face we saw much later. When we came back up, it was now smelling like freshly burned bodies in cold water. You don't really want to know how that smells, mom.

    Flip was angry at us because of some tracks he has supposedly seen in the mess on the floor before we had destroyed all evidence. He said to wait and went off. We saw him splashing through the remaining water towards the pillows. Turned out one of them was hollow and contained a stairway to the levels up.

    Up was where we reached another trap door. There were muffled voices behind it. Now, we were invisible but they would clearly see and hear the trap door opening. Nev and me discussed the situation. Yes, we somewhat ignored both Flip and Uthas in the process but neither of them has leadership experience. We decided to jump right in and for best defense and attack in one, use all ice or slippery spells we still had, which was probably not much but we thought would to.

    When we did so, we found ourselves in a strange yellow light coming from lots of candles and the yellow signs inscribed into many bricks. The whole room pulsed with unholy energy, even we could sense that. From top of a massive staircase around the walls, 6 people looked down. We could make out Drac and more snakes. Drac gave some orders, and one of the snakes came at us. The grease spell helped bump him off the stairs, but we had ignored the possibility that our foes might be capable of magic as well. Mr. Snake came down slowly while laughing at us – or at where he thought we were which was, luckily, completely off. His fireball hit the wrong corner. Just then, Uthas stormed at him with his axe and the short sword to boot and – silly half-orc – a battle cry. Now that he knew where we were, he aimed a lot better with his spells. Flip cried out that he could not see anything and Nev was hit by some magic missiles. We heard the thud when he dropped. To the misfortune of the snake man, he had missed Uthas, who's spell resistance is, as usual, amazing. And Uthas was very very angry now. He flew into a rage. We heard his shouts and saw the body parts of our foe and two others who had come to help their friend fly into all directions. Then Uthas went up the stairs, and, with the grease spell still there, fell right down again. While we dispelled that, he went up again, although he seemed hurt. He didn't pay attention to any injuries and attacked those above as well. We could barely keep up. Running up stairs is not a sport Nev or me usually engage in, but Flip did fine. By the time we came up, it looked as if Flip was lodged on the back of Drac, at least by the way the man flung his arms trying to reach behind. There was blood on the ground, and from the way it dripped from seemingly nowhere, Uthas was clearly injured. I tried to magically hold Drac, but it did not work. He danced, with Flip on his back, around a dais in the center of this last room on the lighthouse's top. Said center held a small pillar with a magic crystal. From what the Loremaster had told us from the old writings and the high priest's journal, that was were we had to put that Jade Serpent instead. Now, try to do that with pandemonium all around you! I didn't even dare take it out of the backpack.

    Then Drac managed to shake Flip off. Our halfling hit the crystal, and both rolled off of the dais and down the stairs. Well, the crystal went down, anyway, I have no idea where Flip went. With a cry of panic, Drac dashed after it and I decided to let him, instead put my sparring lessons to good use and helped Uthas with the remaining snake men. Yes, so I did not notice the magical power surge, I was too busy not to die, mom! I noticed someone, presumably Nev, tugging my shirt again and again whenever he could find me, which was a bit detrimental to my fighting stance. Only when Uthas grunted somewhere and toppled over after killing his foe and Drac came huffing and puffing up the stairs again with the crystal did I find the lighthouse was shaking and trying to crumble all around us.

    Someone cried about the Jade Serpent, so I dropped the backpack as someone, probably Flip, tripped my opponent, and took the chance to place it on the dais instead of the crystal. I was hit by some rubble from the self destructing lighthouse. I noticed the Jade Serpent flying away, too.

    Must have passed out for a moment, because when I came to, everything was bathed in green light and the lighthouse was all calm again. There was not as much damage as it had seemed at first. And there was dust or ash on the ground. Someone fell over my legs and cursed, and then I saw the Jade Serpent firmly tied to the column. Yes, tied, with what looked like spider silk to me. Nev was whimpering somewhere, singing about the itsy bitsy spider, which also pointed to a spider in the room somewhere. His fear of arachnides is really ridiculous. Uthas, badly hurt, cut up all over, was visible again. The ring had been taken off. Instead, someone else who was now moving him must have had it. Mom, I swear, spider silk appeared around Uthas and he was lifted up to the top opening of the lighthouse and carried away. Flip mumbled something about 'only eating him when he dies and not helping it happen' and then he took his ring off, calling for us to do 'drop the stupid invisibility already.' I did so, but we had to search for the whispering Nev and take his ring off. When I was about to guide him downstairs, I saw Flip messing up the ash on the ground, which, come to think, looked remarkably like the outlines of snakes and a human. Guess the light of Yig burned them to nothing. Flip also removed the spider silk. When asked, he said a friend had taken care of Uthas, and we would meet the barbarian at the Temple of Knowledge. Hopefully.

    We had to use the rings again to leave the lighthouse. By then, Nev was somewhat fine again. I will talk to him about therapy sessions for his phobia. We did indeed find Uthas, who had little memory of it all, at the temple, but Flip still owes us an explanation. Nev does not want to be reminded of any possible spider, and Flip just looks at me and says nothing!

    As it seemed, the followers of this cult died all over the city. And the onlookers thought the divine light spectacle a part of the show. All the better, no one suspects us at all, and that Milton and a few others went missing is speculated as 'the Sea Lord having this all planned to get away from it all' or other such nonsense. The damage in the lighthouse was attributed to several things, why our embassy even thinks it was us is beyond me.

    There is this, though. When you sent us away, you said we need to make a name for ourselves before returning, so all our supposed misdeeds would be forgotten. Well, this can't be public, so while we truly do feel heroic now, it is nothing to make you proud of. This deeply troubles me, especially as we will probably be bored pretty soon now that this is all over. Could we at least come home to visit for a few weeks?

    Your Loving son Orlath




    Most High Lady Theka!

    In the light of the latest magic abuse/misuse and general tendency to mess up of 2 certain wizards, may I suggest you help find them some simple jobs they can actually do without worry that there will be inferno waiting to happen? Like, clearing out tombs and old dungeons, or maybe the occasional exploration trip? With all their magic capability, they have less street smarts than a cockroach from the royal kitchen, and that's an overstatement of their skills. All the young royals learn that way, if usually under better tutelage than mine and Uthas' and just because they barely held up their bargain of their duties to learn the sword and bow they should not fail to learn what any noble of the realm able to wield a weapon needs to know.

    I may be just a thief and occasional assassin in the name of the crown. But I can clearly see that they, especially your son, need to man up and stop thinking they are still 10 playing sword fight in the royal gardens. The amount of help I had to enlist, with the help of Uthas, was considerable and not always cheap. I can't keep doing this, and while this event was clearly a surprise and, I have to admit, may herald them as the heroes they might once become and need to become, I have no doubt other such perils will wait along the road. After all, they are their heirs of something bigger they do not even know of. They will need to be prepared or they will end up like all the other heirs of something bigger the Realm has had before. Just that they will get there a lot faster.

    And please, send their protector, the princess, along, finally. You may be right that they may feel intimidated by her, but that is better than feeling overconfident, or feeling dead. We can manage. The princess' prophecy is there for a reason.

    Forgive me my directness, Milady.


    Your humble servant Flip
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

 

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    7th of Rhune


    Honored Lady Theka!

    Yes, you have heard correctly. There are some lose ends that need to be tied up. One of those might not be so easy to deal with, namely the matter of the serpent people.

    You certainly remember about the intact egg we took from the temple tower's hatchery. Well, it turned out it was not dead, but the magic of Yig had somehow suspended it. As soon as the temple was destroyed, it started developing again, a fact that did not escape K'Stallo. We handed the egg to him, of course, the pure idea or rearing an infant of a strange species was not conceivable.

    The serpent remnants under the city are awakening to their former intelligence again, although of course they have no real culture and no education. K'Stallo has called upon the help of his scattered people in the northern mountains to come and take them and help educating them, to being their people back to some sort of existence enabling them to openly deal with other races. He has asked for our help, as in us privately and, to our surprise, for the help of the Realm. I would like to ask for an official negotiator in this matter.

    We do not know how, but K'Stallo has managed to get a hold on the Jade Serpent after the evil was thwarted. He says the cult is not quite dead, as its base was elsewhere, and him and his people will be looking for it. I am very glad that we don't have to.

    Elections for a new Sea Lord are not going to happen soon. The council quarrels and has trouble filling its own numbers. Some want to get rid of a Sea Lord for good. We are taking a neutral stance, of course, given our status we can hardly have an opinion lest it be seen as the Realm's opinion.

    We have been contacted by a few locals who know about our involvement in the matter of the Temple of Knowledge, and been asked for help in the case of a haunted house that captures children. The local wannabe heroes or the guards do not care or are too scared, not sure what it is. I rather we continue studying and leave this up to the temples, I'm sure they would be happy to assist. But Orlath is bored with just learning, as it all comes to him more easily. My objections were countered by mocking me for my fear of spiders – nothing I can control, really, and he has to talk with his fear of germs – and calling me a coward to be afraid of ghosts. He says we can always ask the dead captain Black Dog for help, but I am not sure his ghost can leave the caves at all.

    Flip is also not happy, seems he has talked to a few people about this haunted house. He says we would be in way over our heads. Loremaster Falthar says it is in need to be checked out, and he would help us if we were to wait for the local mage's congress to end. And K'Stallo might help because we helped him.

    So the place is called Old Cresh manor. While some parents seem to have hopes to find their children alive, most citizens are sure there is nothing alive within it. The former inhabitant, a merchant, had some foul dealing with demons or devils, not sure which, Flip says. He used to abduct children for gruesome rituals, until they caught his minions and rooted his place out. Understandably, he was hacked to pieces. The manor was boarded up then and forgotten. But now children went missing again. Flip isn't sure it has anything to do with the manor at all, as from there on it is all rumors, but it seems the first thing to check out.

    You can see, Milady, why this is not something I think we should endeavor to do. Orlath knows not what he is getting us into, and this might be a time where we will have to defy him, prince or no prince. For his and our safety.


    Ever in Your service

    Nevukh



    8th of Rhune


    Dear Mom

    We almost got killed in an explosion today. We were on the way to a restaurant to meet up with the Sea God priest on the council – Sister Gwendolyn – when the explosion went of in just that place we were to meet her at. Lots of casualties but luckily the sister had not arrived yet. Maybe it was just by accident that this happened when we were all late, but maybe this was aimed at us. We have not told anyone we were actually going there, lest our embassy makes a diplomatic fuzz out of it.

    Sister Gwendolyn asked for our help in clearing this up, and as it involves us personally, we have, of course, agreed. We don't have a lot of clues, except that one of the barmaids had opened a pottery vase, and the bottom of one marked with 4 X symbols on the bottom was found at the scene. Not much, huh? But count on Flip to know who made it, as he had bought our house's flower pots from the same guy, one Rufus Xangy.

    But, Xangy is dead, someone killed him with a lightning bolt supposedly over gambling debts. His son is an unfriendly, sarcastic loser, somewhat. He grumbled about some orcs who had been threatening him lately when we arrived, and he thought the break a few hours earlier was their work. Uthas knew what orcs he talked about, seems our dear captain Scarbelly had had a few run ins with that gang.

    He had no idea who his lately deceased dad would have made the pottery for. Toom him a while and a bit of muscle showing from Uthas to remember his dad had a ledger with the info. Of course, someone had torn the page with the info we wanted right out. Flip says that must have been the reason for the break in, to hide a trail.

    The potter remembered when he saw the date, that the guy who ordered the work ordered, in fact, 8 jars, which explains the number on the little bit of page we recovered. The name on the page reminded Nev of an evoker we had met at the lighthouse party.

    As that is all we have, we will split up tomorrow, with Uthas and Flip checking out the orcs and me and Nev going to talk to the evoker. That way, everything will go a lot faster. I'm sure this will be cleared up quickly.

    Your loving son Orlath



    Bosslady

    Everyone else are asleep now, so I just quick want to write Flip and me went to see the orc gang tonight already not tomorrow because we can't find them during day really, and also Flip says we need to go with them to see the wizard for their own save.

    The gang is Crimson Death and them hang out at the Hungry Vulture. Mostly orcs and half-orcs there. Their boss Klarr talk little and said less, as Flip call it. But when we left, Flip notice a orc run up to the tavern and he got this instinct thing he sometime has and tripped him and made me hold him down. Was messenger with letter from the dead Drac for one Zelkema about a Parnass who is wizard we will go see tomorrow. Flip asked questions but the messenger knew about nothing but that Klarr wants things that go boom to sell to some special customer. Flip says this means it was not the orcs who cause the bomb go off in restaurant. Because what is exploded you can't sell anymore. That is true.

    In the letter, Flip says Drac is asking this Zelkema to kill the wizard and then store the bomb pots he had him make for exploding at where Drac told him in some list. So maybe we find dead wizard tomorrow. The orcs must have been to the wizard house too where they found the letter. I'm not getting this all straight in my head yet. Hope you can make some sense of it.

    ~U



    9th of Rhune


    Bosslady


    Wizard was dead alright. Smelled like what the dog vomit out. Whole house like library and lab mix. Flip says the wizard was teacher and scholar. Sure looks like he was. We find nothing but tracks of orcs who come searching last night, and some tracks in dust where you can see the X shape marks from the pot bottoms. But that is what we knew or suspected already.

    Son of yours was quite bit angry we did our job at night and then come with them. Thinks he can be going around alone, but I got angry too and told him I'm his bodyguard and he the prince and princes do not walk around alone in pirate city. And that I get paid by you and not him so I better do what you tell me to. Just like you said I should tell him. It worked. He was not unhappy about you look out for him me think.

    Sis Gwen the Sea God priest knows this Zelkema. He's a criminal pretending to be simple manageman of storehouse. Not that important to be bother with she says, they raid him once but not anything came up. He has 2 fleshy golems, called Klick and Klack. Almost laugh my orcish ass of at names but least I can remember them. Not sure what fleshy golems are but sure son of yours all knows.

    So we now go to storehouse to maybe find other bombs and get there before orcs. Should have done last night, maybe late now.

    ~U
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

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    Note: As is likely obvious, the players didn't quite solve this adventure and now the PCs had to find alternate methods to go about preventing more attacks. The first parts of the Freeport series went rather easy for them as far as staying on track was concerned, and this was the first real challenge for this player/GM combo.

    --------------------------------

    9th of Rhune continued

    Bosslady

    Everyone got their pants in a frenzy, because things not going that well.

    See, we arrived at that storehouse to late. Find lots of slaughtered orcs (and 1 gnome) and 2 dead fleshy golems. Those things be ugly, eeky, weird. Not want to see one again. Now get why those forbidden in the Realm.

    Flip searches everything and he finds some note on the ground with numbers on it. Then we go in basement where numbers are for opening some faults. I do not know why it is called fault when no one did wrong.

    So there were some rooms in cellar. Some all empty and look like just all clear out. One full with expensif spice. I could read what it said because it was all in Elvish. I get better in tongue of yours you see. One other room there was ale with this dream poison in it that made my mom weird and made me slow in head because she take it when I was in her belly. Flip said to keep and sell, something bout a fruit to put the stuff on but me, I go all mad and smash all bottles. If no one take this crap then no one must be born like me slow in head. Even other orcs here are all brighter as me. Orlath calms me down and says we can still look for those healers in jungle who can make people like me think better. But I happy you made me better with magic already bosslady. I can read and write now. Flip says barbarians not often can.

    Then there was room look like very small version of your office (I had Flip tell me how spell that!) just not so cool. There we find magic glowing orb Flip took along because parmanant light spells cost much he says. Nev goes through small book with bisiness info. But says it not all there just the normal stuff that is leegal. We took book along to see if there is some hidden stuff in it.

    Then I saw big carpet on wall. Tappesty or something Flip calls it. That Zelkema guy we wanted to catch is bit dumber in head than me I think. He smears chalk on the carpet because there is a picture of Freeport on carpet. You do not put chalk on carpet, every orc knows. You put chalk on tablets and plain walls! This guy made 3 big X on carpet.

    So when flip was done stealing the money from the drawers I show him, and he says it marks some places – duh I saw that – and one was restaurant we almost get blown up at. He goes tell the others who check out storage and the secret fault that goes open with the numbers. We just hear them calling then and a loud noise and see big crawler mosnter with tentacles attacking. Orlath says it is summoning trap and something wrong with numbers. So I take axe and sword and hack at it. Son of you and Nev pretend to help but you know they miss monster almost all time. Bad aim. Need top train more with swords, suggest you tell them sign up with local noble swords guild. I more scared of them acidental hit me than of monster.

    So when monster is all mash, we find no bombs just the crate they were stored in. We kow because there was sand in crate to prevent fire and in the sand are the X marks from the pots. Orlath goes all upset, because the marks on the wall carpet are only 3 of 8 eplaces where the boms will go boom and one, the place we went to eat at, was already blown up. So this means 2 more bombs are about to go up.

    Other 2 marks are at Temple of Knowledge. Flip says no worry as they know about bombs and will not open any. Other mark is at some place we don't know. Orlath went with Flip and Nev to that place and sent me to temple to make sure they do not open bomb.

    When I get to temple all is fine. Guard and sea priestess already there to check the bomb out. Has been delivered by the same people noted in book we found in storehouse.

    But then we hear the others were too late and some lady's house had damage for some nosy maid opened the bomb. Bad luck. And now we not know where others bombs are and where to try find out and if to tell the city folks or not. We fail.

    ~U

    Dear Mom

    We are in quite a bit of trouble. The storehouse of the assassin with the bombs was basically empty save for dead orcs and some drugs. We found out where the next two detonations were to take place but where too late to stop one of them. It did not kill the councilor it was intended for, however. The one in our temple didn't get opened so nothing happened.

    But there are 5 bombs out there still. I don't know how to find them and no one else seems to have any idea either, even Nev looks depressed. We went to the business employing the delivery runners, but it is unlikely Zelkema will use them again now that we know. There are enough other delivery methods available. I tried my divination spells but nothing came up except that there is one other restaurant targeted. That is so very helpful in a city like Freeport where there are so many of them!

    The council has covered the explosion at Maurice's up as a magical accident involving a drunken sorcerer. They do not want a panic in the city so shortly after everything else. So warning the public about those bombs and not to open them is not going to happen, although we will try and convince the council. At least the other councilors are warned. Chances are the next bombs will be delivered quickly, too, despite Zelkema having to find a new delivery method.

    So not only may there be more victims, the reputation of our group, and thus of the Realm, could be tarnished. Any advice would be helpful.

    Your desperate son Orlath



    Most High Lady Theka!

    I have helped the council place an unofficial bounty on Zelkemar's head, as you have suggested. My contacts in the assassin's guild tell me the man is not a member and used to work almost exclusively for the late Sea Lord Drac. They have not done anything about him because of Drac's protection, but now things have changed. It is doubtful, though, if Zelkemar will be caught before the other bombs are delivered.

    I have warned the owner of the restaurant Orlath loves to take us to lately about a possible bomb, basing it on supposed inner politics of the Realm, and told him not to have anything opened fitting the jar's description. Drac hated us, and Orlath knows from his divinations that there is another restaurant about to be attacked so I took it as a definite option and want to be safe.

    The owner understood politics and assassinations perfectly, and instead of telling us not to come back – which he could probably not afford to do anyway, seeing his reputation might be tarnished – he was fully cooperative. He wants to keep the foreign royalty in his establishment, for sure.

    I can't do anything else tonight, hopefully tomorrow we know more, one way or the other.


    Your humble servant Flip
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

  • #14
    Wow, I just realized I read all of that in one sitting.

    Gotta say I love Uthas' letters. They're by far my favourite to read, though all of them have good moments.

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    Glad you like them . Uthas' player sure has a talent for those letters.


    And now... Interludes You Would Not Write Home to Mom About, Part 1



    ----------------------------------------------------------


    Flip tried his best to stare the group of orcs down who were assembled around him on the so-called Vulture's Nest of their favorite tavern's upper level. He did not quite fail, but he did not succeed either.

    "So as I was saying, the council increased the security around the courts, and I heard someone mention that Drac had it in for a judge or the other. If your boys and girls could make a presence in the area and check every delivery beforehand, chances are you might recover one of the bombs."

    The boss of the orcs, Captain Klarr, looked with a mixture of interest and amusement at the halfling. His eyes were on the jewel topped jar bomb in front of him. "What's in it for you?" he asked.

    "For one, I would not have to fear that the nobles I'm in charge to protect want to study those things and blow themselves up. Also, if it all works out, our reputation will still be good. And to top it all off, we know you are going to sell these things to someone who is an enemy to an enemy of the Realm and wants to blow up some of their ships. Oh yeah, and I don't have to worry about you believing we were trying to destroy a business opportunity for you."

    Some of the orcs laughed, but their leader just scratched his chin. "So, you stole this bomb from the council, and you say you are pretty sure where 2 of the others will show up ad want us to secure one of them while you take care of the other? That still leaves 3 others."

    Flip barely stopped himself from making a sarcastic comment congratulating the orc on his math skills. "Exactly. I'm working on it, but ou may have to settle for 3 of the bombs."

    Now even Klarr laughed. "That's more than I was hoping for by now. There must be some orc blood in you. We have a deal, then!"

    Flip managed to hide his relief. "If the city catches the terrorist, I'm fairly sure the rest of the bombs will find their way to you as well, captain."




    At the same time of night, Uthas was making his way back to their city house. He was not especially fast, which was partly due to the fact that he had to use walls and lantern posts for support. His gait was rather instable, as he would later play it down, and following a straight line was not exactly the way he went about it, either. The world had a definite tendency to revolve around him, which was not the nature of things. Usually, everything revolved around Orlath and Nev, if in a different manner.

    He had planned to spend the evening with Scarbelly and his crew, but they were off on some plunder or the other. So he had just found a table down at the docks, at the Vengeful Seagull. That inn was a good distance from their house, though, and while he had no issue walking, and relatively quick at that, when not intoxicated, in his current state he tended to find himself in a more horizontal position than usual, and it made walking really difficult. Not even thinking about the spinning scenery.

    Usually, Uthas carried a soberize potion in one of his many pockets or pouches. But after the fight with the summoned monster, he had found it necessary to invest into a new coat and set of pants, as the smell of the crawly thing didn't go away even with soap or magic. Not all of his usual carry-ons had found their way into the new equipment yet.

    Scratching his head and simultaneously trying to steady himself on one of the lamp posts at a crossroad, he tried to remember which way he had to go. He had managed to get past the walls of the Old City, but by then the fog had crept up worse than usual. It was not as pronounced up here, but bad enough to confuse a poor, intoxicated half-orc.

    Looking to the left and right, Uthas rotated around the lamp post without noticing it. His keep ears had picked up a sound somewhere to his left... well, no, now right... that didn't seem to belong in a city at night. First it was like a growl from a giant stomach, then like a slurping noise, or as if someone was trying to blow his nose. Uthas shook his head and was about to ignore it when a scream followed. The half-orc's head went up and around, making him dizzy all the more. It was about impossible to tell where the scream had come from, the fog seemed to obscure all direction even for sound.

    Stumbling away from his support, the half-orc rounded a corner that seemed vaguely familiar. When he saw the doors of the Temple of the Warrior God, he knew he was in the wrong part of town. He had not, as he had thought, entered the Old City, he was clearly in the temple district. His sense of direction had not been off too badly, though, as he would only have to march straight on and into the right district and then...

    He stumbled over something other than his own feet. At first, he thought it was just a pile of garbage, even if this rarely happened in the temple district. But then he could vaguely make out a face frozen in eternal fear staring up at him from the ground. An elf, he thought. Blood came from several stab wounds in his belly, and here and there, strangely enough, his skin was smoking, a fact Uithas had almost missed thanks to the fog. Something vaguely purple was moving next to the victim's body – at least Uthas thought it was. It might just have been his intoxicated state because the next moment, nothing stirred.

    Uthas thought for a good long moment. In his momentary lapse of body control – not to talk of his mental facilities – he could do little to find a possible killer, and probably he would not even be able to defend himself properly should he be attacked. Knowing the guard was prominent in this area, he did what anyone not totally stupid would do in this situation. "Help!" he called. "Guards! Murderers! There is a body here!"

    The guards arrived just in time to see a tall half-orc fall on his behind with a loud belch. "That," one of them said waving his hand in front of his nose, "must have been at least 10 or 15 ale."



    Nevukh couldn't sleep, and he envied Flip and Uthak, who he assumed to be together, their night in town. It was not as easy for nobility to go out and amuse themselves, not even in Freeport, not with all that was going on, all who were looking to them. And especially not if you were about to fail big time.

    From the balcony, the city and the foggy night seemed like something out of a children's tale. The fog was getting thicker by the minute, it seemed, in parts of the area, you could hardly see the rooftops. This meant autumn was coming. Nev was not so sure how he would like autumn and winter in a port city like this one, but he was not worried to find out. With any luck, they would only have to be here one winter to have done enough studying to return to the Realm. Unless, he remembered, they kept messing things up.

    He lifted the glass in his hands and took a big sip of warm wine. Once more he racked his brain for an idea where to look for the missing bombs and the terrorist. And once more, nothing came up. He had tried divination again, but his magic had basically told him to stick it where the sun won't shine.

    Where the sun won't shine... Drac the evil priest.... sewer temple.... sun won't shine... He blinked a few times, trying to get the slight daze from the wine out of his head. Could it be that the terrorist was hiding in the sewers? From what the high priestess had said, none of the known associates of Zelkema had seen him since he had vanished, leaving dead orcs and golems behind. And it could be reasoned that Freeport's underworld would know the truth behind the explosions, which likely meant they wouldn't back the guy any longer. Or would they know? He would have loved to ask Flip, but of course, Flip was not back yet.

    The sewer temple was their best bet, though. Who would, after clearing it out, think of going there again, especially now that the serpent folk was somewhat in charge down there? But would Zelkema know about the temple at all? Nev's head started hurting from so many desperate questions. Nev went back to the living room and searched among the many papers lying around everywhere. Among them was the crude drawing of the city sewers they had taken from one of the cultists. From their current place, it would not be too far to that sewer temple. They could go and check it out and be back before dawn. They would be able to rest during the day, if needed. If it was the wine, or lack of sleep, or just desperation, Nev would not be able to say later on. He rushed into Orlath's room and shook him awake in a rough manner. "Hey, prince!" he shouted, as so often when he was about to get his friend into something not so well thought through. "We're going down into the sewers, catching us some terrorist."


    Flip made his way back over the rooftops, as so often by night. Not only did the world look very different from up here, especially for a halfling, there were many things to be learned in regards to who else, and for what purposes, picked this way, and who, not looking upwards at all, was talking about what in the quiet corners of the wealthy districts.

    Tonight, he was diverted from a direct road by the appearance of a young girl that vaguely seemed familiar. She moved like a thief, making sure not to be seen – something the rooftop couriers, a legitimate business as he had learned, would not do. A bag was secured on her back, and it looked heavy. Flip followed her carefully and with some distance, but making sure he would not lose her. Finally, he saw her stopping at the corner of a roof, removing her eye mask and putting it away. Then she jumped over to a balcony tail on the next street with surprising ease.

    Both her full face and where she ended her journey made Flip remember where he had seen her before. At the party of the Sea Lord. Maybe this information would come in handy one day.



    With disgust, Uthas stared at the amount of discarded furniture and old carpets littering the basement of the temple. There were cobwebs everywhere. Obviously, the basement had been in disuse for some time, and as the captain of the guard had explained, they had not even been aware this temple had one until just now, when they followed that wormy killer thing the guard had called a wormwraith, to the grates of a destroyed cellar window. The stairway to their left was full of rubble and probably had not been used in decades. There were two more doors leading from this central storage though. The half-orc was waiting for the guard captain, who had invited him, the hero of Freeport, to come along, to decide where to go next when one of the elf guards shouted and held his bleeding hand. A giant centipede was just fleeing through one of the open doors. Uthas had to chuckle. "Has your mom not told you not to stick your had where it is not wanted?"

    The guard glowered at him but then shrugged when he saw his captain was also shaking his head. Seeing the head shake made Uthas somewhat dizzy, and his head was starting to hurt a little. The herbal potion the guard had given him was nowhere near as good as a soberize, but it would have to do.

    The captain held his lantern into the nearest room. It proved to be an old store room, but the boxes and barrels were mostly empty. Otherwise, they would have been rotten anyway, the half-orc guessed. The next room was an abandoned mini-library. "Funeral texts for warriors," one of the guards said when reading the few moldy but still readable volumes. "So this was an official part of the temple once."

    The only room going off from there was a remarkably well preserved crypt and proved the theory. Rows of stone coffins lined the walls, each inscribed with a name and the seal of the Warrior God. It did not even small stale, Uthas noted. Again, there was only one door to the left, leading deeper into who-knew-where.

    "Is this a good idea?" Uthas asked. "This worm thingy you described is intelligent and dangerous, yes? Mayhap we should get some magical back up."

    "This is... or was... part of the Temple of the Warrior God," the guard who had been bitten snorted. "We are all warriors, and we need not cheap magic tricks for our aid."

    No sooner had he said that when from behind each coffin came a clattering sound, and a moment later, several skeletons bared their way to the next room. Uthas heard shouts of panic around him as several of the younger, inexperienced guard members fled. He was left alone with an equally panic stricken but unable to move captain, the bitten elf guard and a stone faced dwarf. Uthas barely noticed, as his face lit up. "Skeletons," he cried in joy and started hacking at them with his already readied weapon. "Oh I so missed training with skeletons!" Only a few minutes later, the bony animations were utterly scattered. Uthas struggled to count the skulls. "5," he finally concluded. "Too bad there were no more. What?" he asked as he noticed the other 3 staring at him. The still stone faced dwarf pointed to the half-orc's head. Carefully, Uthas checked what the issue was and found the upper half of a skull lodged on his leather helmet. "Oh," he grinned. "6, then. Not too bad. Now, are we going to search for those babies or do we continue alone?"


    A sleepy eyed Orthas walked behind Nev and wondered why he had let himself pulled from his bed to sneak around in stinky, dirty, cold and wet sewers. He had not been quite awake when he was coerced into following Nev – not that he was much more awake now – which was how their adventures resulting in bad press for their Clan always started. Sometimes it was Nev, sometimes Orlath starting such nightly endeavors, but at least half of them ended badly, so both of them should really know better by now.

    Except this time, Nev was claiming it was all about fixing their failures and saving the city. Orlath, as usual, just had to hear about something supposedly heroic and he was in.

    It became clearer by the minute that they had lost their way, though. They might have been able to backtrack their steps, had Nev not lost their crude map when he had attempted to light a torch to preserve his magic energies. The smoke from the torch was now burning their eyes, making it hard to see anything down here.

    "I think... I think we need to go left, now," Nev suggested.

    "You said that the last few times. You know, we should really get around learning teleports, we could just go back home now and forget about this mess."

    "No, really, I mean, we could save the city..."

    "By getting lost? I doubt it." Orlath had taken on his 'I'm the prince' tone. "Let's find the next exit and get out. With our bad luck – or rather your map reading skills – we'll probably find ourselves in Scurvytown."

    "Impossible. We have not walked that far and... look!" Nev pointed excitedly. "There's the slope leading down to the temple."

    There was indeed a narrow slope to their left, going down at a steep angle just like the way to the temple had done. "Nice. Let's hurry up, then, I doubt the terrorist is expecting anyone if he is really here." Orlath was suddenly full of enthusiasm. With their combined magic, they could certainly best a criminal.

    The rough hewn passage led down several 100 meters, which was more than both of them remembered. It lead to an open archway in front of a small, well constructed room, which none of them remembered. Two stout wooden doors were leading from this room, one was straight ahead and one to their right.

    "Uh, Nev..." started Orlath.

    "Yeah, I know," the other wizard sighed. "We are not at all on track anymore."




    Flip came in through the normal door and sneaked into the upstairs hall. No snoring from Uthas' room and no carelessly dropped in the hall clothings, which meant he was not back home yet. No snoring from Nev, which was good as it meant the elf had not had too much of wine tonight. no snoring from Orthas either, but Orthas always slept like a baby. Overslept like a teenager, too.

    It was just when Flip was already covered and close to refreshing sleep when he understood why something had seemed to be off. Orthas slept like a baby, alright, but he snored like an orc with a hangover. All the time.

    In a panic, the halfling jumped up again and, naked as he was, rushed to Orlath's room, banging the door open. The bed had obviously been used but was now empty. He repeated his entry in Nev's room, where the bed had been completely unused.

    Flip slapped his head and moaned in despair. He had not only lost the prince, but the prince-cousin as well. No telling what rouble the two wizarding fools had gotten themselves into this time.
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

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    Uthas chuckled as he helped the dwarf out of the pit trap. "I thought with your stone sense or whatever it is called you'd see it!"

    The dwarf dusted himself off and looked towards the end of the short corridor they were standing in. "Traps ain't nothing to do with it." He pointed forward. But that the supposed dead end is none, I can see from here."

    "Alright, then." The captain of the guard walked towards the badly concealed hidden door, which was basically some dirt behind stones trying to look like a solid wall. "Care to break it down for us, hero?"

    "I thought you'd never ask," Uthas grinned and started running. He bumped full speed into the wall, sending dust and stones everywhere. The others coughed, but he had had the sense to hild his breath.

    The small chamber behind the wall was occupied. There was a fire in the middle, with smoke going through a hole in the ceiling. Some bedrolls and equipment was arranged around the fire, and a young man jumped up from a chest in a corner at the noise of the crumbling wall.

    The half-orc and the half-gnome stared at each other. "Gunge?" Uthas asked. "Uthas?" the other wondered.

    "You two know each other?" The guards, who had their swords drawn, lowered their weapons.

    "Yeah, met this guy and his friends in a tavern a few days back. They're retrievers," Uthas explained, trying to hide the fact that they were also thieves. Retrievers, he had been told, were a well known phenomena in Freeport and the surrounding lands. Forgot something at a place you were not supposed to be in, needed a ring back you've given to the wrong woman at the wrong time, or anything else like that and you hired retrievers. They were operating in a grey area, but weren't seen quite as thieves, more as a way to stop scandals before they happened.

    "What are you doing here?" Gunge asked. "No more snake men and weird temples, I hope."

    "Wormwraith," the guard captain said with a grave face.

    Gunge visibly paled. "You mean, the necromancer allowing us to camp down here is a wormwraith?"

    "Necromancer?" Uthas asked, totally confused.

    The dwarf and the captain looked at each other. They seemed to get it. "Wormwraiths," the dwarf whispered to Uthas," kill people and then live in their skins, so to say. The one we were following must have had a skin to live in."

    "You may be correct," the guard captain said to Gunge. "We were following it in here after we found a murdered citizen."

    "Worm.. wormwraith," Gunge whispered and grew paler yet. Then he fell over with a thud.

    It was followed by an even louder thud as Uthas could not stomach the description of the wormwraith's detailed methods either. The dwarf chuckled. "Hero of Freeport, alright."


    Nev went to check out the doors leading from the antechamber of the complex they had accidentally found. "Choose another path," a voice suddenly boomed. "This way leads only to death." He got the same response from both doors though. "So, what now?" he asked, leaving the decisions up to the prince as always when he was out of ideas.

    "It's just some cheap magic," Orthas decided. "Just to deter fools from going on. This is just like in the stories of our childhood. We found a magic place, let's explore."

    "Are you quite sure about that?" Nev asked. He was tense but also at the ready. The idea of a "real adventure" like in the stories thrilled him. The whole thing with the snake people and Drac had been intense and exciting, too, but a real dungeon type place was something else entirely. Riddles and traps, which you'd both be able to beat with a bit of thinking and maybe a treasure at the end. All different from fighting evil cultists

    "Seriously, what could happen? We're both mages with high credentials. Our power reservoir has gone up quite a bit lately, and we learned a lot new spells. We're ready for this."

    "So, which way?" Nev looked from one door to the other.

    "Let's go straight first," Orlath decided, a bright, boyish grin on his face. "Treasure, he we come."

    The door opened without problems, much to their surprise. It did not even squeak. They found themselves in a corridor leading a few meters straight to an intersection. "Oooh, more choices," Orlath laughed. "We'll figure you all out, though."

    "Didn't anyone tell you talking to dungeons is the first sign of madness?" Nev laughed. "Less of a dungeon, well build as this is, more of an aaargh..."

    Having gone sightly ahead of the prince, Nev triggered the pit trap and the intersection and found himself an elf's length in the ground. "Oh bah, I need to watch it, I guess," he admitted, not having been hurt by the short fall.

    Orlath chuckled. Let me help you out of th..." He didn't get to finish. The trap closed again, covering up his friend. "Nev!" he protested. Looking around for something to spring the trap again to let Nev out, he could see nothing that would have helped.

    Nev's voice came from behind him, slightly irritated. "I've just been teleported back to the entrance. It is not dangerous, just annoying."

    "Bah." The prince was checking the walls and floor for a way to disable the pit, but he didn't have much success. "Maybe we should go through the other door?"

    Not too much later, they had triggered the same kind ot trap at an intersection behind the other door, once again it had been Nev falling in. Just this time, he got out quickly enough. "How do we get past this thing?"

    "What about, triggering it and then jumping out of it into the passage we want to take?" offered Orlath.

    "Sounds good to me. Here or the other corridor?"

    "Well, we are here already, so..." Orlath tried to peek around the corner to their left but could not make anything out as the area of the trap was too big. The other passage straight ahead had a door made of what looked to be thin wood. It would be difficult to climb out there. "Around the corner, I guess."

    Their plan to jump in and out of the trap worked well enough, although Orlath almost fell back in and had to be caught by his friend. They faced another short corridor opening up into a circular room. Then the door seemed to close, then to reopen. Then to close again. The two of them stared until it finally dawned on Nev. "The room is rotating all the time! What a waste of energy."

    "Maybe it only rotates once someone has come in here," Orlath guessed. "Anyway, there are two doors only visible for a moment. We can't get through."

    Nev squinted. "There is a lever in the middle of the room, maybe that's for turning it off."

    "So we'd have to jump only once but I have no intention to be squashed."

    "Ah but if it isn't too stuck..." Nev concentrated and made an upward motion with his right hand while snapping his left finger and mumbled a single syllable when he saw the lever next. With a screeching noise, the lever flipped over, and the room's rotation started to slow down. "What are we wizard for?" the elf grinned.

    "Well done," Orlath grinned back. "Let's move on."

    They could just pass the otherwise unremarkable room now. The corridor behind it went slightly to the right and ended in another, smaller antechamber. There was only one door from here. This one had a real handle instead of just having to be pushed. Orlath tried it but it didn't move. Nev grinned and pushed the handle upward instead of down. "Old trick, we used it to keep the dogs out of the labs," he explained.

    They entered an irregularly shaped room with two alcoves, in the north and south walls. The eastern part of the room narrowed in two steps. It looked a bit like an unfinished cathedral to them. There seemed to be no other door. Suspended from an iron chain in the middle of the room was a small sphere made of red crystal. Beneath it was a 3 legged round table carved with coin sized circles at the end of spokes, much like a wheel, all forming a larger circle. Stacked in the center of it were some coins.

    "Ohh this must be a riddle. I love those." With a wide smile, Orlath went to the table to count the coins. There were 11 gold coins, numbered from 1 – 11. As he was barely done counting, a voice boomed again. "10 and 8 and 8 and 10. Arrange them all or face death again."

    Nev stared in confusion. Numbers were not exactly his strong part. Orlath only chuckled and started putting coins into the carved slots. "Easy peasy. My teacher has done such stuff with me since I was small." Once he had put them all so that the sums of each line totaled 18, the sphere above him suddenly shattered into a lot of sharp shards. A key made of a red sort of metal dropped onto the table. "Huh, I wonder where we'll need that one. I like this place." With a grin, he took the coins as souvenirs.



    Uthas, on the other hand, did not like the place he found himself in when he came to again. Through dazed eyes, he started up at a giant armored man with a sword, an axe, a hammer and a bow in 4 muscular arms. He blinked and the picture focused. It was a glowing blue statue of the Warrior God. And from what he could see he was lying at an intersection of 4 corridors. He must have been carried to here, but why escaped him. After a careful check to see if everything that was part of him was still in place, he got up and looked around again. To the left was where they must have come from, the dust and dirt on the floor clearly had a trail from him having been dragged along. Right ahead, behind the statue, he could see a larger room at the end of a corridor with a coffin in the middle. For some reason, his mind screamed 'vampire.' To his right, the corridor ended at a wall. Remembering his former experience with dead ends, he suspected there might be a secret door as well. Behind him was a slightly open wooden door through which the sounds of fighting could be heard. A nasty smell also drifted up from there.

    From the shouts and commands, it sounded like the two guard had whatever they were fighting well under control, so Uthas decided not to mess with the situation. Instead, he went for the supposed secret door. Flip had told him you could know if there was a door, or rather not much wall, when you knocked at it. When there was a hollow sound, it most likely meant something was behind it.

    Forcefully, the half-orc knocked against the wall. Pieces of dust fell to the ground, and the sound was definitely hollow. Satisfied with himself, Uthas walked a few steps back to gain enough speed and went tun run the wall down again.

    It certainly worked. Once more, he stood in a cloud of dust and had rubble pile up at his floor. Through the dust, he could hear munching sounds that suddenly stopped. He felt stared at. When the dust settled, he faced 4 large ghouls staring at him, the remains of smelly bodies dug up from one crypt of the other still in their disgusting clawed hands.

    In the Realms, ghouls had their own society and were considered intelligent undead. Some even joined adventuring parties, as weird as that seemed to most people. They were also known to aid the military in bad times. Uthas had no idea how it was in Freeport, but those 4 didn't look friendly at all. Still a bit shaky from having fainted before and with a hurting shoulder from running down walls, Uthas said the only thing that came to mind. "Parley?"





    After quite some searching, Nev accidentally found the secret door leading out to the left of the riddle room when he, frustrated, leaned against the wall and triggered a pressure plate. The door slid open, and the elf tumbled down a slightly inclined corridor which seemed to end after a few meters. But before he came to a rest at the wall, he was lifted up and vanished from Orthas' view. "Aaaaah... ouch," he yelled a moment later.

    Without thinking, Orthas followed his friend. As he tried to peer up the shaft Nev had vanished in, he suddenly felt upside down, and the tug of gravity pulled him after the other wannabe dungeoneer. He landed soft on top of Nev. "Ouch," complained Nev again.

    Orthas reoriented himself and grinned widely. "Hey, a reverse gravity spell!"

    "You don't say," grumbled Nev as he sorted himself out. There would be a nice bump on his head the next day, he guessed, and he hurt here and there from where Orlath had landed on him.

    Orlath already rushed through the door they were now facing, remembering to turn sideways so he would not drop to the floor in the normal gravity room. As all the others, it opened easily enough. As he turned to Nev, he saw a glimpse of his friend before he vanished back down the shaft which seemed to now have normal gravity again. "Aaaah ouch," Nev shouted once more.

    Bewildered, Orthas looked out of the room to the now again down. "What happened?"

    "Guess opening the door up there dispelled the gravity reverse. Do you happen to have a rope?" Nev looked disheveled and was limping as he got up.

    "I guess so... let me check." Orthas went to check his not very full backpack. Indeed, after a moment, he found the rope coiled up at the bottom of the pack. As he was just about to announce his success, his friend came sailing from what was down a second ago to the new down in the once more reversed gravity. Orthas was barely able to move his head back into the room before Nev hit once more. This time, the wizard just groaned in pain.

    "Are you alright?" Orthas asked the dumbest question coming to mind.

    "Does it look like it?" As quick as he could, Nev pulled himself inside the room, where the once more normal gravity dropped him half a meter again. "I feel terrible."

    "Look, another riddle!" Orthas exclaimed. On the wall opposite the door were the outlines of 5 rows of 5 boxes each. In each was a letter. As Orlath and the limping Nev came closer, another voice boomed. "Speak the hidden sentence or against doom there is no defence."

    "Ugh, they aren't going to win even the local poetry contest with that one," Nev moaned. "That's about as bad as aunt Len's verses."

    Orthas stared at the letters, trying to make sense of it. But try as he might, he was at a loss. His frown deepened after a while, as he had the feeling to be on a timer.

    "You found the hidden sentence?" Nev asked, slightly impatient. The way he felt, he would rather they would be done with it or at least be able to heal him up.

    To their both surprise, at the sound of Nev's voice, the square swung open to expose a key made of a yellow metal. Orlath groaned. "'You found the hidden sentence' was the hidden sentence?" He checked the square again and slapped his forehead.

    Nev took the key and could not help but laugh, despite the pain getting worse. "Whoever made this has a weird sense of humor."

    Orthas sighed and turned back to the door. "We need to get up.. down... whatever, there again," he realized. "How badly are you hurt, really?"

    "It hurts when I laugh, might've broken a rib or two. My legs hurt, my head got bumped and I was kicked in the gut when you landed on me."

    "Sorry about that." Orlath went out of the room and stared up to where down really was. "We have no way of fixing a rope there, and even if, someone would have to get there first."

    "Indeed." Nev followed, rotating himself with more difficulty than his friend. "Maybe a spell..." Without thinking, Nev closed the door behind him. Suddenly they felt themselves falling down again.

    This time Orlath was almost knocked out when Nev landed on him with yet another cry of pain. Orlath bit back his own shout. "We better get out of here quick before we go... well, there again."

    Nev could not agree more.



    Uthas made good speed as he rushed to where the sounds of fighting had intensified. It was only a short distance, good thing, as he was not good to run for long distances. The ghouls were right behind him. Not impressed by his attempt to negotiate, the undead had decided fresh meat was better than corpses. The half-orc had not been to worried until his hand had gone to where his axe usually was. There had been nothing. His hope was that, whatever the others were fighting, they would have room for a few more opponents. And maybe know where his weapon was.

    The room he banged into was full of rubbish, including spoiled food, and bloated bodies. The dwarf and the captain were fighting the largest carrion crawler Uthas had ever seen, standing with their backs to the door. The dwarf turned for a moment, and his eyes went wide when he saw the half-orc rush in, followed by the undead. Uthas had a moment of clear mind and banged the door shut so the ghouls would need a while to break through. "Dude!" he yelled at the dwarf. "Have you seen my axe?"

    "Statue!" the dwarf yelled back. "Took yours gave me this spear instead." He was swinging, as Uthas could not see, not only a hammer but also a large spear which was glowing in a faint blue light. The hammer seemed to do little damage to the crawler, but the spear had made a few wounds here and there. The captain's sword kept bouncing back from the crawler's natural armor as well.

    "The statue?" Uthas had heard of Warrior God statues doing weapon exchanges before but he had never seen it happen. "Give me the spear, then, you wield it like a child would." Before the dwarf could respond, Uthas seized the spear from his hands.

    While the ghouls were banging at the door and would soon be through, the 3 of them made little to no progress with the crawler. "Where to those other doors out here go through?" Uthas yelled.

    "No idea," the captain yelled back.

    "We should make a run for it and let the crawler say hello to the ghouls," Uthas suggested.

    "Great idea," the dwarf agreed. "On 3?"

    "Alright," the captain answered. "1...2..."

    On 3, they suddenly disengaged from the battle and left the crawler facing the door which was about to burst open. Uthas dashed through the door left from where he entered. The guards dashed right. Uthas wondered if they should not have clarified their direction of retreat.

    He banged this door shut behind him as well, then rushed through the short corridor to open another door, which he, too, closed once he was in a much wider and longer corridor stretching to both sides. If his sense of direction was not off too bad, going left would bring him right back to the ghoul's lair. He had no intention to go there again, it had smelled a lot worse than the room he had just left.

    Right across the corridor was a broken down door. He could hear rustling sounds behind it and carefully peeked in. A giant spider and a few young were nested here. Uthas shrugged. Since knowing Flip's spider ally, spiders wouldn't attack him. They had done some strange ritual to ensure that. He still saw no need to go in there, no wormwraith would be there. Come to think of it, he had no intention of meeting the wormwraith alone, either. Turning right, Uthas carefully made his way down the corridor, glad for his darkvision. He found another door, now to his left, a bit down, but he dared not to open it, even with no slime trails visible anywhere. To his dismay, the corridor rturned right and ended in another dead end. "Bad use of space," he mumbled to himself. "Very bad."

    As he turned and walked back to where the ghoul lair was, seeing no other way out, the door he had so cautiously passed by opened with an eerie screech. "Uh-oh," he whispered.
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

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    The two elves had made their way back to the anteroom and followed the other corridor to the first pit trap they had encountered. They went left and came into an open room that looked like a child's play room. There were toys everywhere, dolls, stuffed animals, wooden horses and carriages. There was also a box with what looked like candy beans.

    Orlath pointed to them and snickered. "As if anyone would fall for that trick."

    Nev, still sore, checked over the beans and shook his head. "Indeed, I get strong transmutation magic from those."

    "Maybe we should take them along and find out what exactly they do, later," Orlath suggested.

    "Yup," Nev agreed and started shovelling them into a pouch in his backpack. "Never know what we are missing if we don't."

    There was no other exit, so after packing most of the toys – they might have collector value after all – they went back to the pit trap, jumped in and out again and took right.

    They had to turn left and faced yet another door. It was definitely locked, judging by the elaborate lock mechanism. "Hmm... wish we had Flip here," Orlath admitted. "Maybe I can use the orcish unlocking method." The prince unsheathed his sword and hacked at the lock, just to test it.

    Nev was about to object, considering the other traps they had already seen, but it was too late. No sooner rang the CLANG from the sword through the corridor than they were teleported elsewhere. It took a moment to notice they were in a room now, although if it was the room they had been trying to get into was hard to tell. A bronze statue in the middle of the room began to move slowly, lifting a large sword.

    "Oh, crap," Nev winced. He drew his sword, but even holding it up hurt with his damaged ribs, especially considering he had not trained much lately and there was a definite lack of muscles. He swore to himself he would remedy that once they made it out of here. Which would hopefully happen.

    "I'm not fighting that thing," Orlath complained, sword still in hand. His other hand, which had been holding the glowrod they had been using since entering the sewers, twitched in the sort of nervous tick he always got when a plan they had developed went awry.

    The statue slowly advanced, picking up speed. "Doesn't really look like we have a choice in that matter," the other elf pointed out.

    Orlath's eyes searched the room, and he came to the conclusion they were not in the room they had tried to get into. There was no door. "We got teleported in some place without a door? Quick, check for a secret door so we can run!"

    "And how, exactly?" Nev asked, engaging the statue with all the skill and strength he could muster, which wasn't that much. He barely blocked the first attack, and only because the sword of the attacker was bronze did he cause any damage at all.

    "Well, I don't know. Lean against the walls again? It worked before." Coming to the aid of his friend, the prince racked his mind for a spell he could use to stop the statue while not damaging themselves.

    Weakened as he was, nev stumbled back and knocked his sword elbow against the back wall. He head a click as his elbow connected with something round, and a door swung open, causing him to stumble backward. He found himself in another, h shaped room.

    Orlath was following him quickly, "See, it works! You are a natural and finding doors. Let's hope this thing won't leave its room."

    Unfortunately, it did leave the room. And it seemed to be getting more furious as it had to follow them, if that was even possible with an animated object. "Quick," Orlath pointed at a door at the end of another arm of the h shaped room. "Let's just go on until we can pit trap that thing somewhere."

    Not having much strength left but not about to argue either, Nev followed the prince. The door opened easily but revealed blank stone behind. "What...?" Orlath growled. The statue was closing in. At the same time, there was a rumbling sound from somewhere.

    "Away!" Nev cried and grabbed the prince by the shoulder. Before he knew it, he had completed the spell and the two of them were standing back in the corner opposite from where they had entered the room. A thundering noise echoed around them, and in the dust they could make out a large part of the ceiling which had come down and buried the statue under it, just where they had been standing a moment ago. "A fake door trap," Nev gasped. "We read about those, remember?"

    "Yeah." Orlath was visibly shaking. "but at least you got rid of that thing." Then he focused his cousin. "Hey, when did you learn how to dimension door?"

    "Yesterday," Nev grinned sheepishly. "I wanted to make it a funny surprise to show you."

    "Funny it was not, but a surprise, definitely. Saved our lives, you did." For the first time, Orlath seemed to get that this place was not just for fun, but could end up a death trap.

    After a bit of search, they found a sliding door and exited into (and out of) the pit trap in the second corridor. They had not been able to get through from the other side before and had thus ignored it. Once more, they went back to the starting intersection.

    "I hate to ask," Nev groaned. "But could you heal me up?"The jumping in and out of the trap just now seemed to have taken his last reserves. Without thinking, he leaned against the wall without doors and closed his eyes to calm his breathing. Once more he felt his back connecting with something and heard a familiar clicking sound.

    This time he managed to jump away from the wall as the secret door opened. He noticed Orlath staring at him gaping. "Wow, that is so cool. Flip will be so jealous if I tell him you are much better at finding hidden entrances than he is."

    With a snort, Nev checked the door and surroundings and found the pressure plates he had activated easily, now that he knew what and where to look. Orlath already moved through the door. "Corridor ending in a dead end? Now we know to look for a door though."

    The same type of semi-hidden activators opened this end of the corridor, and they entered a small room. The only other way out was a barely knee height tunnel to their right. They had to look twice to find it. The table in the middle of the room was, of course, way more interesting, as it held another riddle.

    In front of a gatehouse model with 3 portcullises stood 4 tiny models of ogres in different colors – green, pink, white and yellow. As they approached the table, the models began to speak in squeaky little voices making Orlath giggle like s little child.

    "Listen carefully," the green ogre started. "The white one is not first."

    "And more," the pink one added, "the green stands between pink and yellow."

    The white one chimed in. "The pink goes between green and white."

    And the yellow added "Tell our order quick and you avoid a fight."

    "The riddles are getting easier," Nev spoke up without giving the prince a chance. "It is white, pink, green and yellow, of course."

    The gatehouse model clicked open and revealed a key made from a blueish medal. Orlath added it to his collection. "Ho many more are they? Probably a green somewhere, too."

    "Or not, as those are the base colors," Nev observed. "Let's go back where it teleported us from, but please don't sword knock the door again, I was about to suggest a dimensional door us through, as I detected a magical lock, when you did that."

    "Sure thing. Do you still want me to heal you up? I may need my spells later and you know..."

    "Yeah, I know. Never mind, actually." The arcane heal spells had a significant downside to divine healing. While it fixed you all up, the pains and feeling of illness stayed for as long as it would normally take to heal or cure. A good option to save lives, but vastly inferior to what the divine healers could achieve. Despite all research, the Realm's archmages had not found a way to fix that yet.

    Back where they had been teleported from, Nev dimensional doored them through the locked portal and they came out in a hexagonal chamber which was empty. Its white walls reflected the light of the bright glowrod in a way that was hurtful to elf eyes, and the two squinted. 3 doors led from here in different walls in front of them. Their footsteps echoed as they made their way towards the exits. They found each of them locked. "I am not risking another trap," the prince said. "How many more spells can you do?"

    Nev signed. "My mana reservoir is good for a few more spells but, as the dimensional doors still take up a lot of reserves being brand new to me, I would prefer not to have to use that to go through those doors as well."

    "A simple knock spell would probably do," Orlath nodded. He tried with the left door. It swung open as ordered. The prince beamed. "There. Maybe it will get easier from now."

    "Probably." After all, they had 3 keys and likely passed all the tests. Nev pointed at the corridor that opened up for them. "After you, my prince," he mocked.




    "Well, hello there. I do not get visitors too often." The thin man in the black robes looked over black framed glasses and smiled at Uthas in a friendly manner, showing a healthy set of vampire fangs. In his right hand was a tray with several phials of blood: it looked like he was ready to have dinner. "Let me take a guess, you are after that wormwraith I just killed in the tunnels to the other catacombs?"

    Uthas' heart jumped, and he felt the cold sweat on the palm of his hands. He had had very bad experiences with vampires back in the orclands. And from what he knew, 90% or more of them were simply evil bloodsuckers. This one appeared to be different, but then, he had that blood right there...

    The half-orc blinked and concentrated on the question he had been asked. "Y...yes, kind of," he replied, not wanting to admit he had rather been, kind of, trying to avoid that creature.

    "Sorry, then." The vampire sounded sincerely apologetic. "It was about to destroy my blood bank, and I would have hated to go hungry tonight. And asides, those things are evil. Just say you killed it, no doubt you would have. Not many people dare to confront such a monster alone."

    Uthas forced a grin. "Thanks, sounds like a good deal. After all I, err, won't have to hunt it down anymore. A half-orc needs his beauty sleep, after all." What was he talking? His hands were still sweaty and he wiped them at his pants. "Blood bank?" he added.

    "Yes, the priests of the God of Moons kindly developed a spell to keep the blood fresh their volunteers give me. You don't really think most of us run around to bite and infect people at night, do you? Well, at least not in Freeport, it is so outdated to do that. Unless someone wants to be infected, of course. Oh how rude of me. I didn't even introduce myself." He bowed slightly. "Yeston, Darian Yeston, professor of necromancy and arcane comparative studies"

    Uthas blinked again. "Uthas," he replied automatically. "Hero of Freeport and bodyguard to the prince of the Realms, Orthas of the South Forests."
    "Ah yes, yes, I have heard of you. The mages have told me a lot about what was going on recently. I was on a vacation, you know, only returned 2 days ago. Cultists, really..." He shook his head.

    "Vacation? You mean you still teach? Are you the necromancer the retrievers talked of? I thought they meant the wormwraith." A lot of words for him, but Uthas' nervousness rather grew than subsided.

    "Vacation to the Northlands, yes. I still teach, of course, who better than an undead to teach about necromancy, huh?" Yaston chuckled. "And yeah, I met the retrievers before, in fact, they helped me retrieve an old heirloom. Would you like to come to my living room? I could offer a few refreshments..."

    "Err, no, thanks, I don't like blood, really, and I am not good around coffins," Uthas declined, remembering the coffin he had seen earlier.

    The professor chuckled again. "Oh, the crypt, that's just my token coffin. You know, tradition and all. I really live in one of the rooms that used to be abandoned when the priests of the Warrior God left. Coffin is so old school, I prefer the modern styles."

    "I see," Uthas claimed, though he did not. "Are the ghouls yours? How an I get my axe back from the statue?" The questions that had been pushed to the back of his mind surfaced; it was a bit embarrassing but as long as he talked his nervousness was somewhat under control.

    "I like inquisitive people. Know what, just come with me and we'll talk a while after we get your axe back. You know, I might have a job for a hero of Freeport, too...."



    After walking down the corridor, the two wizards came upon a bright red door. "Time for the keys," Orlath grinned and removed the one with the fitting color from his belt pouch. He managed to open the door without a sound. The room they found themselves in was irregularly shaped, looking a bit like a flash or tilted stairs. At the far wall was an altar with statues of the God of Warriors, the God of Thieves and the God of Deception. In front of each statue was a ceramic bowl in red color.

    "Make an offer, receive a gift!" a voice they were now familiar with boomed from somewhere.

    "What does that mean, exactly?" Orlath wondered.

    "I guess... place something in the bowl of the god you want a gift from?" Nev limped closer. "I'm sure I don't want any gift of his evilness," he snorted and made a movement with his head to indicate the God of Deception.

    "I thought that was a pretty much neutral god just overly venerated by the evil cults?" Orlath mused. "Anyway, yeah, not my thing either."

    "We are not exactly thieves either but... maybe making a donation would help with getting through doors without spells next time."

    "But we could have also used more strength to deal with that statue," Orlath thought. "What would we donate, though?"

    "What about the gold coins from the puzzle? Not like you can do much with them save admire them."

    "I wanted to get a necklace made from them!" Orath protested.

    "Necklace? Oh dear Gods of Style, you have no fashion sense whatsoever, even worse than your sister. Not even in the last century would such thing have been considered cool and..."

    "Alright alright, I get it." With a grumpy look, Orlath took the coins out of his pouch and handed half to his friend. "How much do we have to put in anyway?"

    "We'll see." Nev went to the God of Thieves statue and put in a coin. Nothing happened. Only when he had put in all his coins did the statue emit a red glow that surrounded him while the coins vanished. "I don't feel any different," he admitted. "But I read that is often the case with such gifts."
    Orlath nodded, not really having heard what Nev was on about. He placed his share of coins into the bowl of the God of Strength right away. He, too, was surrounded by a blue glow. Unlike his friend, he immediately felt different, stronger, though to what extend he could not say. It was something that would please his mother, he knew, who was always insisting he'd hone his physical strength as well. "Great, now let's go through the other doors. This is better than any treasure."

    The middle door led them through the next corridor to a diamond shaped chamber which was one large pool of crystal clear water. On top of a single step on the other side was the yellow door. The prince removed the key from the pouch and set out through the water before Nev could do any detects. Nothing happened. Except that when he was almost at the other side, the glowrod winked out.

    Now elves are among the fortunate races who possess the ability to see in the dark. Light was, of course, always better as darkvision only provided a black and white view. But the lack of light should not have bothered them much. But to both their astonishment, it was pitch black for them. "Nev?" the almost panicked voice from the prince was heard. "I can't see!"

    "Yeah me neither. Wait.." Nev mumbled the words for a light spell and touched his sword, which started glowing like a torch a moment later. "Here, problem fixed." Splashing in after his friend, he tried to detect anything evil or magic, but there was just the resonance from the whole building. "Maybe the whole complex is like that so that people with darkvision would not accidentally mess up the door colors."

    The yellow door opened for the two half-wet elves into yet another corridor leading to the right. "Shehhs, they could have saved some on building costs wouldn't they have created so much unused space," the prince shook his head. "Would have saved us some walking, too."

    The door they eventually arrived at was locked. "What now?" Orlath growled after his knock spell had no effect but release a laughing voice effect.

    His cousin had a closer look at the lock mechanism. "Actually, I have some idea what to do..."
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  • #18
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    Uthas came out of the crumbled entrance to the basement to find a large assembly of guards while the victim had been removed. "Hey hey, wha's going on? Did sumthin else happen?" His searching, if unsteady, gaze found the dwarf and the guard captain, who looked somewhat pale.

    "We were just about to go in and search for the wormwraith and for you," the captain sighed. "I didn't want to have to explain the loss of a Hero of Freeport."

    "The wormthing is dead. An' I can watch meself, thanks. But is nice to be apracia appro... liked." The half-orc flashed his best grin. Then he belched.

    "You killed the thing? Sure it is dead?"

    "Sure 's I'm here now, and as sure 's I need sum sleep," Uthas chuckled. He ignored the first part of the question. "Need me for anything? I have sumethin important t' do t'morrow, and could really use me beauty sleep."

    "No... you may go. Do you mind..." The captain hesitated. "You mind if we claim the dead wormwraith for ourselves? We had a bit of a bleak time lately."

    Fighting the chuckles wanting to come out. Uthas made a serious face and nodded. "Sure, is probably best no one knows I was here. I'd hafta 'plain to the prince, ya see..." For some reason, his speech started to give him a hard time. Maybe he should not have tried all of the vampire professor's liquor stash.

    The guards nodded, wrongly assuming their herbal remedy had worn off and that the half-orc should not have been out drinking in the first place. "We won't tell if you don't."

    "Alright, then, nighty night." With a wavering bow, the Hero of Freeport took off, only having to think for a few seconds which way he had to take.




    "Tadaa!" Nev shouted as the door swung open. He put the weird looking hook he had assembled from some of his always carried lab tools away and way obviously pleased with himself. "Now we don't rely on Flip to get in anywhere. At least not all the time."

    "So the gift worked. I hope it is permanant." Orlath was visibly impressed. "Let's see what's in here."

    This room had 3 small tables, on top of which the images of more gods were engraved. There was the God of Gambling, the God of Truth and the God of Mercy. In front of the tables was a yellow dice cup on a dais with weird shaped dice inside. "Roll the dice and make your choice," the voice announced.

    "How is this to work?" Nev had a closer look. There were three dice that looked like a pyramid with numbers 1-3 and a 20-sided die. Additionally, there were two 8-sided die with a mix of fixed numbers.

    Curious, the prince took the dice set from Nev. To their amazement, the fixed numbers changed. When Nev took them again, they changed back to what they were before. "Weird," Nev mused. "Probably referring to something that's different for each of us."

    "Like what? Size? Hair color? Attractiveness to women?" Orlav chuckled. "You may be taller than me but I get more girls."

    "Only because you are the prince," Nev answered absentmindedly. "I guess we need to assign the different types of dice to the gods depicted."

    "But... how? Is this a riddle, too? If so, the changing numbers can't be for the God of Truth as they changed."

    "They would still be true if they referred to different things for each of us," Nev shook his head, "We can only test it out." He threw the dice on the dais and watched them spin. The pyramids landed on the numbers 1,2,3 in that order. The d20 landed on a 5. The others revealed an 8 and a 3. The tables started to glow all of a sudden.

    "I guess you have to place them now," Orlath said.

    Confused, Nev looked from one table to the other. "I'm not a gambler," he finally said. "I'm more for truth of the matter." The elf proceeded to place the dice all on the table of the God of Truth as they had fallen. A yellow glow flashed and surrounded him, then the dice were all back in the cup. "Your turn, I guess?"

    Ortlath had a 2,2,1, a 19 and a 1 and a 4. After a bit of thinking, he reluctantly put the dice on the table of the God of Mercy. "Mom says gambling is evil if it is given any importance, and mercy is the lifeblood of civilization." He, too, was surrounded by a yellow flash, and then the dice and the dice cup ere gone. None of them felt any different.

    Still confused, they made their way back to the pool with the water. Orlath frowned as he followed Nev in. "What if the light goes out again?"

    "Then I use another spell. And why would it? Earlier it was just that your sunrod ran out and..." Right then, the spell ended and they once more stood in darkness in the middle of the pool. "," Nev commented.

    "As you wish," the voice they were now so familiar with sounded, and the liquid they were standing in turned to something smelly and unthinkable. "I hate this place," Nev gagged.



    After some waiting, Flip had decided to go to bed again as there was nothing he could do after he had checked their belongings to see what the two nobles had taken along. They seemed to have had the sense to at least take a backpack and some basic things. The halfling did suspect they were off to investigate some building or the other, but he had no way of finding them. So he fell asleep quickly as there was little need to lose rest over stuff you could not affect.

    Unfortunately, the loud entrance of a certain half-orc spoiled his rest once more. Singing, even somewhat true to the notes, Uthas danced into the entrance hall. "Terror on the dance floor, terror on the daaance flooor..."

    Flip, not quite sure what was going on, tried to cover his ears. Eventually, he got out of bed again and into the hallway, just to be hit with a shirt and a left boot as Uthas, as usual, deposited his clothes all over the place. "Oops, Flip, didn't see you there, little fella. What are you doing up?"

    "I wasn't up until you came in here trying to bring down the house with your voice," Flip spat, running his forehead. "I had enough worries tonight, I don't need this."

    In the middle of throwing his pants over a chair, Uthas paused. "What do you mean, enough worries? Did something happen?"

    "Something always happens," Flip sighed and told him how he had found the two wizards missing.

    As always when he tried to wrap his mind around something really difficult, Uthas grimaced as if he was on the loo having trouble going. "Infest.. invusti... check out a building or other?" he repeated. "Alone? Ya think they off to that spook house we's been asked to go to?"

    Flip froze in his motions of picking off after the big guy. The thought had not occurred to him at all. Nev had been very opposed to the whole idea after all, but then, those magic types were prone to change their opinion just like that. "You may have the truth of it," he admitted.

    "Really? Not good. Them both helpless like... well, like mages without help. They did they theirs swords, no?"

    Flip threw the swaying bodyguard his forgotten soberize potion, which Uthas gladly drank. "Yeah they did. Don't think it makes a lot of difference though." Flip started searching for the address info of that spooky building. He could not find it, which might point to the two elves having taken it. He and Uthas knew where the place was as they had checked it out briefly before. "In all Hells, no! If they went there it may already be too late! A ghost infested house in the middle of the night."

    "What do you want to do?" Uthas asked, although he already suspected what would be coming.

    "We'll follow them, of course." The rogue was already packing their backpacks. "Get your weapons ready, we have a rescue mission to do!"



    After expending some of their spell energy on cleaning themselves up, the two wizards had followed the corridor to the last and of course blue door. There had been a bit of a surprise, as the first door they opened was a fake and released an obnoxious gas cloud, but after some searching, they had found the real thing and opened it. Now they were standing in a very small room with 3 pictures on the wall opposite the door. The pictures depicted the God of Knowledge, the God of Wisdom, and the God of Creativity. A blue fruit of unknown nature rested in front of them. "Take a bite of your choosing," the voice spoke once more.

    "Now, that's so easy," Orlath shrugged and heartily bit into the fruit of knowledge. It tasted bitter and sweet at the same time. "Mom says knowledge is power."

    "Yeah, well, I rather take the other." Nev picked the fruit of creativity, which tasted sweet and sour. "Knowledge without a way to bring it to use is wasted, and maybe my poor artistic skill will be a bit better, too." Nev, originally from a family or artists, had often been mocked for his inability to hold a pencil or brush.

    "I guess that is it then." Almost sorry to be done, the prince looked around. "We better don't tell anyone this is here, others may need to find and gain from it, too."

    "Yup, agreed." Nev followed his friend out until they were standing in the anteroom again. "You know, we probably could not tell anyone anyway, because we have no clue where we are and wouldn't find it again if our life would depend on it."

    "True that. Why did we come down here again?"

    Nev moved ahead and out into the sewers again. "I thought we could find those bombs, remember? Was probably a harebrained idea anyway."

    "Yeah... I'm still worried about those bombs but for now, I say lets get out of here and find our way back in the streets."

    A few minutes later they found themselves pretty close to their favorite cafe not far from their home. They must have been walking in circles for quite some time before finding the dungeon-like place. "All I want now is sleep, and then probably someone to tell me tomorrow that no other bombs exploded.

    Silently, as to not draw attention to themselves, they entered the backdoor of their place just when Flip closed the front door to come to their rescue to a place they never went to.
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    Bosslady

    Not tell anyone I told you the story of last night, Flip says I should not because it was bit emburasing. But I thinks we got out alive so its victory and victory can be told.

    We went to that spooky house son of yours wanted to check out before when we want not. We did for Flip said the two wizards gone without us. And we need help them. So we got there middle of night and bad fog and of course all dark. We come in overgrown garden and something jumps at us from fog. I take new large warhammer Flip has have make for me and smash it. Flip all screech and angry, says not kill first ask later, could be good something. Was not good tho, I know because horn and hoof and devil tail is never good.

    So because of all the loud he made Flip says we do not want in the front door. So we sneak round front porch and Flip almost get hurt by shingle blown from roof. Made him think better of wanting to climb in from above. I know Nev and son of yours would not climb in from roof anyway. I say we go in kitchen window, always did sneak in in kitchen when small but Flip explain we do not know where kitchen is so took some window that was easy to open. Had a bit of problem getting in because so tall. In we smell blood and Flip put on torch. Should not have, walls all full of dry blood and so is floor. And lots of chains hang everywhere. There is body parts on them, hands, feets, ears but to much of each for being one person. Then some thing comes at us, looking like dead all wrap in chains. Flip later say he hears crying of childs but I not hear anything, I smash at stinky attacker. Flip cries sumthing about chain devils. But this thing not have any horns or tail so I keep smashing. Maybe it was bit mad because it kept babbling about being not killable. It was wrong.

    When I done killing it Flip is covered in gore and gags, then runs back through window to clean up in large fountain on other side of house. When he come back, group of angry bats chase him but don't come in. I laugh and he is mad. Then he is more mad cause when he was gone I wqs bore so took the chains from the dead thing and the axe it had and made lots of small pieces to hang from ceiling also. It can rest with its victims. Flip says that's stupid but I think good end for killer.

    In next room what looks like room for kids to play there is ghosts, lots of ghosts from small childs. I got all scare at first and Flip shouts to hit them. I don't hit kids, not dead ones or life ones. And hammer not good hitting dead things bit Flip says he has something done to the hammer to made it hit incu.. incar... bodyless things. I still not want to and run to next room. Bit ashamed about that now but not ever heard ghost so close before. Flip follow me trough more rooms and then we come out in large family room. There was lots of bones and fire and smoke, and 3 devils dancing round the fire. They not see us so we close door and go back to where all the chains are – not sure how cause I took other door. Big house that one. So we run through small empty room into bad smelling room where paper peels of walls. And then there is more people, all grimacing and attacking. Not ghosts or devils but real people. And all attacking! I got very angry and half forgot what I was doing so I hammer at them. I'm much more strong when angry so I splatter them all but some other big guy who also very angry. Fight last long. Flip hides behind door all the time. When I done he shows me crossbow bolt in my buckler and says that looks poisoned. Well why bother it not hit me!

    That other good fighter has good breastplate so I take that. Bit big but good over my leather stuff. Also took sword and bow – my bow never got reple... never got a new one after the fight with the trader daughter back in main city of yours. Flip take crossbow and the poison bolts but it is bit big. Flip also take their other stuff. I make joke to string their pieces all up on chains too but Flip not find it funny. Flip can be a real bore.

    Then next room is very large entry hall. Family who was here long time ago sure was rich. Big big double stairs go up to next level. And fireplace I could stand in. No sign of missing friends. There is water on chessboard floor and air smells weird. When we go through room half the ceiling comes down. Flip says it trap but I think it just old house. Then we come into laaaaaarge room. Like your ballroom. Just not totally so big. Anyway, my vice make echo inside while Flip still squeaks when tries to whisper. But when we try search room, some weird thing come from fireplace and babbles lots of nonsense. Flip screech again and makes for run. He very scared. Says it is undead of some kind. Was not scared but run after Flip because Flöip more clever. We run to next room what looks like book room and bump into some pink and yellow robed guy who starts shouting we are too early or sumthing like. Flip drops the torch and turns to run again when some large monster of the strange man goes after him. I think strange man was one of those cultists again. They pop out of all holes. City should be renamed Cultport. He cast some spell but methink spell not good against hammers because his head made nice splashing sound with just one swing. Then I go look for Flip but no halfling to see. But the thing that was behind him fights with that undead thing. You know when enemies fight I won't stop them so I just walk past. I search the next room and was bout to get worry for no Flip to find, then I hear him scream again and he runs past me in next room, smelling funny. There was acid burns on his hands and he look like he seen the Unspeakable One. When he look like that, I don't ask I just run behind. So we all back through bad smelling old kitchen and then room with undead again. Undead attacks and Flip goes running right back to where the devils are and right into the room. I think he's been all dumb from fear. So devils see us and turn and we not wait if they follow or not, we run all back to where the undead is. The undead attacks but this time we run from it through the right door to entry hall.

    Flip all out of breath, and I ask what up the first time he run. He just shakes head and says if Nev and Orlath were here then they must have heard us, so they may not be here. I say with all the noise in the house they may not hear when they are up or down, as there was door to basement under stairs. Flip goes all pale, but this was his idea so I not take him to chicken out now!

    So I was bit out of breath, too. We wait a bit, trying to be quiet not to attrack anything bad. We hear ghost childs a few times. When we finally go up stairs we can't be quiet because the stairs squeak like something out of a horror story. At least where I step, Flip is all without sound. Upstairs was worse than down, as half the roof gone and all the fog come in. We don't see much in there. And even with the new torch Flip has put on there is just bit of yellow light in all gray. Few times we almost break through floor and I have bump on head from falling brick. It also stanks. And there was all those shrieks and howls. Spooky houses all have that so I was not too worry but Flip shake like cat in cold water.

    There is lots of rooms here but we find nothing but a collection of animated smelling hands. I was calling out for son of yours and Nev while I smashed them but all that show up are ghost childs. One ghost boy named Harold makes himself visible and says we need to take the kids leftovers and put them to rest. Not sure how to do that and I tell him. He says to bury the leftovers anywhere outside the house. When I ask what about the others he says they only leave when the house is gone.

    That is good idea no? Why did the townfolks not burn down the house? Maybe those devil things in the fire room prevent that? But house is so damage I bet it is easy to pull down once night is gone.

    He also warns of a bully ghost child who wants to hurt anyone even them. He says we better not stay up here, and that there have been no wizards or other people up here in a while. The boy says his remains – that is his leftovers – are in the basement hidden in some sort of temple and he would like us or anyone else to go pick them up. I told him we was taking care of it, but maybe not today as we miss our friends to help. I'm wondering if we can come back with priests bury all the dead and then burn house down.

    When I'm done thinking that much, Flip is gone to next room, maybe to hide from childs. But then the room he picked must been worse for he come run out screaming again, and he sound horse by now - altho I never hear a horse make such sound, why it is call that?

    Flip grabs me by belt and drags me back down stairs, which break at one point – the stairs I mean not the belt - and I hurt my ankle. He won't tell me what up and makes for where we got in. I don't know why we not just take the door and I was right because moment later he comes running back whining with the 3 devils from the fire room in tow. Then he makes for the door to outside!

    I can't go after him cause I need to smash the devils first. Only got one, the other telejumped away. Why we was running from them I am not sure, they aren't that badass. When done, some strange icky things creep through the hall. I don't know what them are but they make me feel bit scared so I hide behind basement door which does squeak just a little. But the stairs are weak and one breaks so I tumble all the way down and hurt my elbow. I get up in old storeroom and there is a blue flash.

    Suddenly there is a young boy that seems bit familar. He says he is stuck down there hiding from the monsters. I say I'm hiding from monsters too. But maybe they are gone now so we both sneak up to check. There is no more monsters so I run out to the garden to find Flip. The boy follows me but seems bit angry that I don't pay much attention to him. I call out for Flip and don't have to search because Flip comes running right by me, almost faints from no more air from all the running and is limping, too. Some angry lizard follows him. So I follow lizard and bump it good. But it does some sort of spell before it dies and I feel all weird and confused. Flip was all off again and the kind of famliar boy says he would embrace me to give me strength.

    I may be confused some time but if you are male and no brother in arms you don't embrace me! So I tell him to stay away and get real angry again when he does not listen. Then all of sudden he throw some kind of energy spell at me. Makes me more angry because it hurts. Then the man's face all change and he looks like evil thing. Somewhat hard to see too like if underwater and makes him hard to hit. He hit me some more with that energy. Even tries to bite me. But the new warhammer sparkles and shines anytime I get through, and while it took long for him to die, die he did. Then the body just went away. Flip later says it was a demon. I got scared of fight after I won because he told me! Demons are much much worser than devils.

    So now been drunk 2 times that night and very angry 2 times that night and very tired. It is clear our friends was not here or if they was they would be dead. So I just want to go home and come back in light with some of the temple priest to make end of all the unholy and undead. But I still lost Flip.

    No use in calling much in fog, learned that upstairs. But I fall over dropped torch wich still glows a bit, and then find the crossbow we got earlier. I take that and followed train of more stuff to fountain in the middle of garden. There Flip was in the cold water all shaking and half dead of fear. So I pick him up and carry him out of the garden and put him under tree. Then I take all the torches and put them on and throw them in all the windows I get open. Some burn some don't. Half the house on fire, so I guess we need to come back to finish rest of evil later. Had to carry Flip all the way back while be was babbling nonsense. Maybe that is why he not want me write to you.

    When we was back home, we woke Orlath and Nev with Flip's noise. They went and got priest of temple to help with his problem. They say some evil things touched him and make him weak in head but he will be fine in a few days. Son of yours was angry at us until I tell him we was thinking we rescuing them.

    So now is a day later and we remembered the bomb problem. Flip is asleep, we all slept too long. Council says one bomb exploded in the halfling bene.. bana... something society. There was one dead servant and lots of kaput room. And at court some orcs were seen all around and they stole a package from a delivery girl, Nev says he thinks they stole the bomb meant for court.

    Temple priests from all temple say they will go to the spook house and finish cleaning it. Say they never believed the stories but they believe us because they saw Flip. I want go with them but they say they have ritual and don't need me. I am still hero. Flip not so much because I saved his butt. Nev says I need not listen to Flip too much, that he is taking too many risk and I better stay with them. I would have but they went without us! Nev laughed and said they just went to have some private fun. Bosslady if they spend time and money on the whores again, they can tell us, so we not will worry.

    I met a nice vampire last night too, before all the spookhouse stuff. He is a profisor or whatever it is called at universaty here. He ask me for help with something that not sound too dangerous. Maybe when Flip is better and son of yours says yes we will go and sort it out for him. Can't be worse than spookhouse and I kinda solve that one all alone.

    ~U
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

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    19th of Rhune, after the ruckus about the bombs had died down


    Most High Lady Theka!

    As you have forseen, the matter of our failure in stopping the bombs entirely is now as good as forgotten. The small job Uthas had secured from a vampire professor has helped to divert attention of the mishap as well.

    We were asked to help retrieve a valuable book the university had borrowed out to a wizard named Darwell over a month ago. It had not been returned and the wizard kept making excuses. Thus, it was decided we should sneak in and get the university's property back while Darwell was away one of his many trips. Only small complication, as we had been told, was that the Wizard kept his tower guarded as many other rich people around here.

    This proved no problem, as Orlath brought a gas called Mind Cloud – I never heard of it before, but he had had the help of a university mage to make it. They never noticed us going in, or any of the noise we caused. Because, as Milady might already have guessed, things were not as simple as going in, finding the book and getting out. While most of the tower seemed pretty much mundane, the wizard's lab was guarded my lemures clearly conjured up in an unholy ritual, and we also discovered an altar to the Dark Eye. The book, of course, was in the lab. Luckily, we brought Uthas along – he had actually insisted as he had been the one to meet the vampire – and after assuring him those were very minor devils and Orthas would protect him with spells, he dispatched of them with little difficulty, but unfortunately with a lot of noise. We recovered the book and a journal, which detailed some of the exploits of Darwell to gain power over the council. I also took the liberty to free the wizard of some wealth, considering he would be driven off or arrested anyway once the city knew he was not the herbal sage he gave himself off as.

    The guards outside had ignored the noise, however, the hobgoblins the devil friend had hired did not. Again we were lucky to have Uthas, but the prince actually did a good job with one of those freezing spells, too. Additionally, he burned the weird ghoul variant the wizard kept as guard for his real treasure room.

    We were about to leave when, to our dismay, the guard changed. The newcomers were not influenced by the spell from earlier, so we had to sneak out the sewers again. Luckily for us, the escape route the wizard had made for himself aided us well, too.

    The council was happy to lead a whole investigation team to the tower and arrest Darwell as he returned. It was just the kind of publicity we all needed. The prince has now recovered from our earlier failure and accepted that not all things can go to plan, I believe. Unfortunately, this has not made him any less reckless in his actions.

    As for Uthas, he has become obsessed with combating drugs and their distribution since we found some vials of a drug at the warehouse where we tried to secure the bombs. There is a new drug in town which makes him angry, and I can't seem to reason with him to stay out of the business of the local underworld. Everyone with some common sense known there is not much point in trying to fight drugs, but we all know Uthas does not have that much common sense.

    Talking of underworld machinations, I did as you asked and am in the process to set myself in a position in the Thieve's Guild and Assasin's Guild respectively to gather the information needed. It is not going to be that easy though, and I might actually need Uthas' help which is why I am even less fond of him stumbling from one problem to the other. Could you please tell him to cut it out? Orthas does not take my worries serious at all. He says Uthas will only stick with this new obsession for a short while. I have already suggested taking more of the little jobs high profile citizens and also some desperate peasants offer the prince and the rest of us, just to keep Uthas occupied.


    Your humble servant Flip




    21st of Rhune


    Honored Lady Theka!

    Since we've uncovered the wizard Darwell's intentions, the council has asked us to help with a few more things. Officially, we are even named council advisers now, titles that annoy our official ambassador a great deal, even when everyone knows that a council adviser is just the one they ask about when it comes to sewer monsters and old crypts or anything else adventurous groups are known to deal with. The other "advisers," which are only a few, sadly, thanks to Drac's cult eliminating most of them in the last months, were happy to welcome us in their midst, of course. And Orlath and me are all happy because whenever we go back home now, we can tell our peers were are truly adventurers. Well, come to think of it, we probably are.

    Orlath is still sulking at your recent threat to send his sister, he refuses to write to you. I don't know how to make him, Milady, and I think part of it is just what you wanted us to do – grow up. He will eventually give in.

    Flip has asked me to talk to Uthas about his obsessions to get drugs off the streets. He agreed to give it a rest only if we would take care of it later. I see no way to do that but I told him I would see what we could do.

    Having little luck with fireballs still, I did as you suggested and am now learning more stationary spells, like wall of flame or wall of ice. But I will eventually get the fireball right, too.

    Your messenger has arrived with more funds. We are very grateful for it, as we've spend more coin than we had expected we would. Flip somehow managed to help us out with whatever odd jobs he does when we are not looking, but we got very close to not be able to afford the lifestyle befitting our status.

    Thank you very much for the update on my family. No, it comes as no surprise that my father still does not want to talk to me. I am not sure that I would want to talk to him either. My family is our little group for now, and it serves me well.

    Ever in Your service

    Nevukh



    Bosslady,

    Don't know if they have told but our spell slingers as Flip now sometime call them have taken to wandering the sewer stinks and empty places for days searching for hidden things like mazes and tombs. They say them found one the day we's been looking for them in the spooky place and got some thing magic from it, like being better at spells or any stuff like. They say not tell Flip and just go when Flip is doing his Flip business. They take me for me is strong and me think because I's told them I would whap them hide if they let prince go without bodyguard. It is all just sewer rats till now. We been going in circle at time, and son of yours say he will learn that telepart... this some thing like spell where you just go elsewhere you was before. That would make us go fast back home when done. But priests at temple say he is not right in magic yet to learn, it is about coming out wrong place me think. I better walk on own feet, never wonder where you come out unless you drink too much.

    Priests at temple say I learn good but my mind something need some help so they want do a ritual and ask me what I want learn most. I say I want learn numbers better. When fighting need to count more than to nineten. And numbers in write still make not much sense to me.

    ~U



    The day after....


    It was way too early for Orlath to be up, after all it was barely mid-morning. Being roused with a bucket of cold water was not adding to his desire to be cooperative, either, but the bed was wet now and Flip would need to dry it out before they were back, something the little servant who seemed to become more and more bold eagerly went about with that certain grin on his face.

    "Don't look so gloomy," Nev laughed. "We really could not get a later appointment. You may not want to talk to your mother but you can hardly deny her wishes."

    "Mom has too many friends she is owing a favor to, and far too many are in this city," came the annoyed reply. "I just hope this time it will have nothing to do with cultists or towers or saving the city from doom."

    They arrived at the archway leading to a courtyard. Around the courtyard, several tall and narrow houses sprung up, a typical collection of cheap flats for dock and factory workers. "Are you sure mom's friend lives here? Why would a friend of a High Lady reside in such a poor area?" The prince shook his head, staring at the simple houses.

    "Not everyone can be rich," Nev laughed. "Or maybe this guy just has to hide for a while."

    They climbed up the stairs to the 10th floor. Nev was already out of breath by then. "I think I've been sitting in the temple library too often," he admitted. Unlike most other people, elves or not, he had to work on his stamina all the time; even a few days of doing nothing was felt immediately.

    "Found it," Orlath announced a few doors into the corridor and already began knocking. "Come in," a growling voice announced.

    They entered a small room with bed, table, dressers and a small closed off part for the privy. Even the morning son shining in through the clean window in all her morning splendor could not quite get the gloom out of this coffin of a place. A half-orc was sitting behind the table, busy with some papers and maps while piles of books were all around, even on the bed which looked quite unused other than as book storage. It was clear this place was used only as an office and not for a living space. "My name is Greytooth," the half-orc introduced himself and hinted a bow in direction of the two nobles. "I'm an agent of High Lady Theka, as you might have guessed. Thanks to several interacting circumstances, it is not safe for me to employ my usual aids in this matter of utter importance. Nor can I safely ask the embassy for their support. Thus, my prince, your mother suggested that you could help me out."

    Uthas stared. "What?" he said after a moment. "I don't understand a word."

    "He means he's a spy master and something bad has happened so he can't use his usual people to deal with it," Nev happily translated, a wide grin on his face.

    "Oh, ok. He could have said that in such simple words." Uthas nodded, wanting to get right to the business before there was any more such talk with big words, which he considered even more annoying coming from another half-orc.

    Greytooth grimaced for a moment, then decided to grab the proverbial bull by the horns. "I need to get a package somewhere, but I do not even have the package right now. To find out where the package is hidden, you 3 will need to find the information of its whereabouts. The spy who was supposed to tell me got killed trying to give me the information. When we found him, he was already dying and could not be resurrected thanks to some foul magic. He uttered the words of the place he was before he got attacked, and I take that to mean the information I need is somewhere in that place. He was too much of a professional to not write it down before being killed."

    "I see. What place?" Orlath inquired.

    "The Walking Miracles. You know the place."

    "Huh!" Nev scratched his meager beard he had taken a fancy to. They sure knew the place. It was a tavern – more of a club, really – where only magic users met. Somehow, the entrance to the place knew who could use magic and who could not, but it made no difference between the different magic types. "That's a mighty big area to search. Any more hints?"

    The spy master leaned back in his chair. "Witnesses say he had only been to the main room, drinking at the bar, before he noticed he was followed and left again. Some sort of smoke bomb went off, and when the bartender had cleared the alchemical residue out, he barely noticed our spy and those pursuing him leaving."

    "Great, just one room to search then, albeit a large one." The prince was eager to get going now, the morning's troubles were already forgotten. "So we just come back here when we found the information?"

    The half-orc nodded. "The same time tomorrow or tonight just before sunrise."

    Orlath grimaced for a second, neither time really suited him. "Alright then, friends, let's get going."

    A while later, on the way to the mentioned tavern, Uthas could not hold himself back any longer. "Boss," he inquired. "What is a were-about, and why does the package have one?"
    My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?

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