Chronicles of Goran Zarlov - The Cavern of Madness


First Post
Chronicles of Goran Zarlov - The Cavern of Madness

(To the reader: If my recollection of the following events is in error in any way, please consider what I had to endure as you read this chronicle.)

(Out of character notes:

This was my first gaming session with a new group of players. I rolled up a level 3 wizard to join their group. My character was basically originally born in -2504 DR and lived in Imaskar. His father, a prominent wizard-king, put his son in a temporal stasis (year -2489 DR, my character was age 17 and 1st level as a wizard then) far beneath the underground in a secret chamber. He wanted to save his son (my character) from the Mulan God-kings, which destruction of the Imaskar empire happened one year later (-2488 DR). Intruders one day, set off the alarm and the magic to dispel the Temporal Stasis. Remembering what his father had told him to do after awakening, my character activated the pressure plate in the southwest corner of the room, activating the exit portal to the surface world. The character escaped through the portal, and it closed behind him. The portal only functioned one time and lost all its magic after that. My character ended up mysteriously near Candlekeep, in the year 1372 DR (current year). This is where my character met Ulraunt, the Keeper of the Tomes. Of course, Ulraunt allowed me in the Keep after discovering that I spoke in Roushoum, which has been a dead language for thousands of years. We made a barter with each other. I would teach him what I knew about knowledge and history of Imaskar, if he would train me in modern customs and magic. Three years passed, and my character went from 1st to 3rd level. This is where my inital background ended for my character.

The following chronicle is the first actual gaming session with this group and DM. It didn't turn out as I hoped, but nevertheless, if you've read this far, you may just find it entertaining :) Enjoy!)

The Cavern of Madness

My benefactor Ulraunt, Keeper of the Tomes of Candlekeep, assisted me with researching my father’s journal. We managed to decipher most of their meanings, and the secret art of temporal portal creation began to unravel before our very eyes. Or so we thought…

Something went wrong in our portal preparations. Very wrong. Upon inscribing the final rune on the portal archway, a turbulent dark energy field immediately lambasted me like a sledgehammer swatting at a fly. I quickly lost consciousness and my surroundings.

I awoke in a dark place, and a little ways from the outdoors. I suspected that I was at the mouth of some cavern, though the details at that moment were vivid. The reader will find that perhaps I lost – or never acquired – some of the details of this chronicle. I apologize in advance, but please understand that the tale I’m about to tell took every ounce of my will to endure. So be mindful. And allow me to continue.

After rubbing the back of my head several times, I noted that I only had minor injuries. For this much, I was grateful. It was no secret to me that the goddess of magic, Mystra, resented the fact that my people would not bow down to some man-made creation. Our people, the Imaskari, did not believe in gods. Ironically, these man-made manifestations became our ultimate downfall, including my own, as you will read later.

I walked out of the cavern and into the general direction of a smoldering campfire and casual conversation. The morning was cool, but not cold, so the weather was kind to me also. Taking a quick look around me, I noted several individuals by the morning campfire. They appeared to be a group of elves and humans. After taking a deep breath, I approached the company.

Upon closer examination, I noted three elves, two humans, and a half elf. A bear and a hawk accompanied one of the elves. Most of the company appeared to be warrior types of varying cultures. I recall the following about them (their names, gender, races, and possible professions).

* Earthano, Male, Elf, Archer
* Lightning, Female, Half Elf, Fighter and/or Rogue
* Eddard, Male, Elf, Ranger
* Takagari, Male, Human, Fighter
* Draxus, Male, Elf, Monk
* Milu, Male, Human, Cleric

After attempting to converse with them in Roushoum – my native language – I immediately realized that I was not in Imaskar. I was far away from my forgotten realm. Some of the elves began addressing me in their language, and I understood enough of it for basic conversation. We then continued conversing in the language of tradesmen (Common), and from there, I learned of their names, and they learned of my new traveling name: Goran Zarlov.

For the reader’s benefit, I will describe my appearance at the time of this writing. My unweathered appearance, short dark hair, and goatee identified me as a young man. I wore the garb of a scholar – a russet-colored robe with matching hooded cloak, a silken belt, and soft leather shoes. Over my left shoulder, I wore a well-worn leather backpack. My glasses and fair complexion bespoke of many a day spent indoors reading scrolls under dim candlelight. And yet, my appearance was puzzling for a scholar, more like the physique of a prince, tall with a strong chin and wiry frame. As far as the physical descriptions of my traveling companions, I’m afraid those details were lost to me – obviously a side effect of the recent trials and tribulations that I had to endure. I apologize for this lack of information.

After sharing conversation with the company, I asked them if they would allow me to join them on their adventure. They invited me to join them and offered me food and drink. Initially, I declined, not knowing if I could trust them or not. But then, I reasoned that if I couldn’t trust them with sustenance, how could I trust them with my life? It was this reasoning that allowed for me to accept the generous offer of their beverage. The first drink that Draxus offered me was a very foul drink. Fortunately, I only took a sip of it. A quick flash of nausea is all it took for me to immediately refrain from further drinking. After the company chuckled to themselves, I knew that I was truly welcomed in their group. Draxus then offered me a waterskin. And yes, water was in it, and it was delicious. Though my thirst had already been quenched (my little secret from the reader), I enjoyed sharing conversation with my new adventuring companions.

Eddard obviously had a thirst of his own, but not for any beverage. His thirst was for wandering and adventuring, and fighting the forces of evil. The company briefed me about the cavern and the town that was nearby. Lightning informed me that the town was about a day’s journey away. I noted this for future reference. They informed me that the cavern was a place of foul evil. A cleric of Torm sent them on a quest to cleanse the evil that infected the cavern. Not that I really cared either way about the evil itself, I did feel that investigating the cavern for the truth, loot, and magic were certainly in my best interests. Without further hesitation, we adventured into the cavern.

As I recalled from my recent and stylish entrance, the cavern was dark. Reaching into my spell component pouch, I pulled out a dried carrot and began reciting the words and gestures that would allow me to see in the dark. My eyes quickly refocused, and I was able to see further within. My human companions carried torches, so I was comforted in knowing that if my darkvision magic was to fail me for any reason, I would still have an available means for visibility. We traveled onward, deeper into the cavern.

A large malevolent hole dominated one of the chambers that we came upon. I studied the periphery of the room for runes and magical glyphs. I noted that a necromancer of some sort was responsible for these writings; however, the glyphs were not entirely arcane and perhaps were divine in origin. Due to my lack of religion knowledge, I couldn’t make out any further details. It was then when Milu, the cleric, informed us that the runes were planar in origin as well. That explanation left me further in bewilderment. While I recalled some of the runes from my father’s journal and apprenticeship to the Keeper of the Tomes, I could only respond with an incredulous stare, and I was afraid of what was about to become.

As we wandered further into the cavern, there were times when electrical bolts struck at us like coiled snakes from each side of the hallway. Other times, the company would examine and touch various magical runes in the cavern. Touching the runes allowed us to open magically barred doors that apparently had some tie to the gods and their followers. Fortunately (and I never thought that I would state this), I was thankfully surrounded by religious believers. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be trapped within that cavern of madness…read on, if you dare to discover what I mean.

The first hostile encounter was a ravaging creature with many mouths. Even with my darkvision, it was difficult for me to make out specific details. However, I was able to make out enough of an outline of the creature to assault it with several missiles of magical energy. My magic alone wasn’t enough to take down the foul beast, but our collective martial effort allowed for our victory. Here is something that I almost forgot to note. There was a dark magic that emanated within this chamber that caused a few of our party members to perform unpredictable actions. At times, they would do nothing but watch in a daze, while at other times, they would move away from the chamber. Without warning and in a moment of apparent madness, Takagari drew out his slightly curved and elegant looking long sword and gave a mighty two-handed slice to Milu. Even with all the commotion going on in this chamber, I could still hear Milu’s blood curdling scream. Takagari’s attack was almost perfectly placed, but luck (if you believe in such a thing), must have smiled upon Milu for Takagari’s seemingly critical strike was only a minor scratch. In less than twenty heartbeats, the confusion and madness dissipated away…for now.

Chained to the wall were three nondescript humanoids. For the life of me, I still cannot recall whether they were human, elven, or whatever. Perhaps they were mangled beyond recognition from the many-mouthed creature, or perhaps my darkvision was failing me. Whatever the case, I cannot sufficiently give a physical appearance, name, or any other detail of these three individuals. And so for further mention of them in later paragraphs, I dub them to be collectively known as the Three of Madness. However, we did manage to free them from their shackles by picking the shackle’s locks and sundering their chains.

Our second hostile encounter was equally as frightening. A very large humanoid creature with a tight muscular body, large gangly arms, and an elongated pointy noise was eagerly approaching to feast upon us. In my imagination, I could barely make out its dark matted hair and warty skin. Whatever it was, it was truly formidable. At one point in the battle, the deformed giant rendered Takagari and literally ripped him in half. It was sad to see one of my comrades fall. There was hardly anything left of him, and none of us were pious enough (especially myself) or mighty enough in arcane or divine knowledge to resurrect him.

The company continued the battle with the troll-like creature by throwing flasks of oil upon it and igniting the oil with torches. Fortunately, I wasn’t close enough to the rest of my company or our attacker to get the exotic oil upon my person. Several of the party members were covered in oil and quickly set a flame. The chaos continued as I heard the company’s cacophony of screams. I can only imagine the pain they had to endure from the flames. Earlier in the battle, I invoked one of my remaining cantrips, a ray of frost. Rather than hitting the deformed giant, the ray splashed upon Takagari – shortly before his gruesome demise. That memory will probably haunt me forever.

It was clear that some of our company were favored more than others. I considered this my punishment for not believing in the gods. For example, when Draxus engaged our trollish foe in martial combat, his tumbling, agility, and speed were without peer. I could only surmise that he was much more experienced in battle than the rest of us. At least that was some assurance that the rest of us would live to leave the cavern, and hopefully in one piece. One of the Three of Madness, however, were not so fortunate, and almost perished from the troll’s powerful assaults and from the exotic, splashing oil that seemed to detonate as quickly as the blast of a fireball. It was apparent to me that my comrades wielded magic far beyond what I had acquired from my father and from my benefactor when Eddard took out a flask that contained a liquid. The one of the Three that was mortally wounded, quaffed the elixir, and all of his burns, scars, and wounds evaporated before our eyes. Very fortunate for him, indeed.

Several rounds of arrows and melee were required to down the troll. We further burned it with the exotic oil. This time, the company was more cautious, and the exotic oil didn’t splash on them. For once, I almost thanked the gods for our victory…almost.

One of the Three of Madness (I think it was one of them) discovered a secret compartment that stored a nondescript helm. Seeing I was an arcane spellcaster, he asked me if I could analyze the helm for magic enchantment. Of course, I assisted him. I was curious about this helm as well, so I briefly examined it for magical runes. I found nothing of interest and told him so.

Apparently unsatisfied with my examination of the mysterious helm, One of the Three put the helm on his head. We all looked upon him incredulously as the helm’s malevolent curse found its next victim. One of the Three’s gender had changed from male to female. We were stunned and repelled by the helm’s evil and knew that this place needed to be cleansed…somehow. But hope was quickly escaping us.

Everyone apparently was too distracted plundering the chamber. They didn’t notice the coming demise of my being. My loss of hope and apparent moment of confusion – which I still fail to quantify – inevitably turned into a tragic outcome. One of the Three of Madness decided that I also should suffer his curse. And before I could even react, he mercurially placed the helm upon my head. I was a man no longer.

My thoughts of companionship quickly turned to embittered anger, as I abruptly turned to face my adversary. Reaching into my spell component pouch, I pulled out three pinches of sand – colored in red, yellow, and blue respectively – and invoked the words and gestures to debilitate my foe. A vivid cone of intertwined; clashing colors sprang from my hands and blinded him. My hunger for revenge grew ominously as I pulled out my dagger and engaged him in melee. He was practically at my mercy as I delivered thrust after thrust into him. However, none of the wounds were fatal. Another one of the Three attempted to stop the fight, retaliating with unarmed strikes. But these strikes knew not the depths of my vengeance. I continued to attack my foe even after the blindness had left him. Repeatedly, my enemy apologized to me for his evil action, but his pleas for forgiveness fell quite short of the plight and anguish he had caused me. For some very odd reason, no one else in the company bothered to intervene. Even they were so taken back by the One of the Three’s actions, that they knew not what to do. Despite their seemingly benevolent morals and ethics, they quickly succumbed to apathy as they continued to adventure without us. Apparently, the madness enveloping this cavern had also completely consumed them.

The one of the Three of Madness, who had so greatly wronged me, offered to pay me a thousand gold coins in exchange for his life. In a moment of sanity, I accepted his payment, gave a slight bow of self-forced contempt, and fled out of the cavern – leaving the Cavern of Madness and its recent victims forever behind.

log in or register to remove this ad

An Advertisement