"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part One)

Martin Olarin

First Post
nemmerle said:
Well, I guess this is just a case of misunderstanding. . . I think Martin's (or his player's) reaction to Kazrack was partly BECAUSE he did seem to be acting differently than he normally did.

But like I have been trying to say - there was obviously a disparity between what you intended and how everyone else interpreted it - things like this happen occasionally - it is not a big deal - happens in real life too. . .

I honestly don't remember what side Kazrack looked down from - but the bottom of the chamber was just out of range of his darkvision - so even if he were on the correct side he would not have been able to see even the top of the creature.

Agreed, no big deal. I brought it up only because I wanted the DM to have a finger on what was really going on with the character not what appeared to be going on. The incident was never discussed in character so it was never clarified. Having never discussed it Kazrack, if reminded, will still be angry over the mage's presumption in telling him his business. Out of character I'm still surprised the initial reaction was one of impatience, based on the assumption Kazrack was taking his time, instead of confusion, based on wondering what he was about.

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Hey, don't allow our DM/Player bickering scare you all away!

I expected a lot more commentary from this last installment. . . :(


First Post

Comments about this installment:
Someone said in an earlier post that this storyhour was more enjoyable than most fantasyreads, and I can only agree!
I just read it for sheer pleasure, and not so much for the technical aspects of roleplaying and stuff..just inzanely entertaining to see what our heroes are up to!
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First Post
I found it somewhat disconcerting, and I am truly worried about several of the heroes. I am glad to see that roleplaying is more important than saving a character, but I am going to miss any of them should they die. Great writing as always.



Jeremy's death

I had knew that Jeremy was going to die well before this installment. A few weeks ago, I had unintentinally read some post or another on Aquerra's message boards that had alluded to his death. The past few installments have left me waiting for that inevitable moment. It didn't take anything away from the reading, in fact it made me all the more worried for Jeremy during these past few combat heavy installments.

This is still my favorite story hour, Keep up the good work nemm!



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Session# 22 (part IV)

Ratchis’ hammer slammed into the garbage monster with all of the Friar of Nephthys’ might. The mucky consistency of its body gave way beneath the blow, and even as Ratchis felt his hands sink into the beast up to his wrists, to began to melt away back into the garbage it had emerged from. Ratchis fell heavily into the rotting trash, and beside him lay Jeremy, motionless.

The half-orc crawled over to his Neergaardian companion, and lifted his face to his own ear.

Jeremy was not breathing.

Martin hurried over, Kazrack right behind him.

“How is he?” Martin asked, and then noticed how Jeremy’s body seemed twisted and broken, bile still sliding down from the corner of his mouth. “Never mind.”

Ratchis put down Jeremy’s body gently and stood, and just stared at Martin with a simmering anger, ignoring the throbbing pain around his torso where the creature had squeezed him.

Kazrack walked over and lifted Jeremy’s body onto his shoulder and began to walk back to the stairs.

“We need to go,” was all the dwarf said.

Martin turned to follow, but Ratchis did not move. Martin turned back around, “Ratchis, we have to go.”

“Martin,” Ratchis said softy, and then suddenly, grunting through the pain, he sprung into action, grabbing Martin by the shoulders and lifting him into the air. “That mage is dead!” And with that, he tossed the Watch-Mage as hard as he could. Martin slid along the muck painfully.

He looked up, slime dripping down his face and coughing out swallowed muck. Ratchis just continued to stare.

“Ratchis, we should leave this place,” Kazrack said, looking back from the bottom of the stairs.

“How can we leave?” Ratchis asked.

“What would you rather do?” Kazrack said, wisely. “We do not know where Richard is, how many more ensorcelled elves there and what it doing it, and Jeremy is dead. We have to leave and approach this a different way.”

He began to walk up the stairs. Jana saw him coming up with Jeremy in his arm, and her head hung down. She turned and began to climb the steps herself.

Upstairs, the elf Kazrack had left sitting alone had crawled over to the other two and was blindly trying to help them untie their bonds. Kazrack put down Jeremy’s body and kicked him away.

“You are freeing the wrong people,” Kazrack said. “I am your friend and they will hurt us.”

“The girl!” Jana cried, looking up at the pedestal of stone where the there rough columns stood. “She is gone!”

Martin and Ratchis came upstairs, and the Dwarf was talking to the same elf he been speaking to before.

“What is your name?” Kazrack asked.

“I am Ethiel,” the elf replied in his faraway voice.

“Do you know of an elf maiden Tirhas?” Kazrack asked. “Earlier you asked if there was an elven woman here. She is an elven woman. Is she here?”

“Yes,” Ethiel replied.

“We should get out of here,” Jana said.

“I am going to try to get this elf to lead us to Tirhas and show us the way out,” Kazrack said.

“Well, hurry, if you think you can,” Ratchis said.

Martin remained silent.

“Can you lead us to Tirhas? We must get her out of here,” Kazrack said.

“Yes, that makes sense,” Ethiel said nodding. “An elven woman should not be here, it is too dangerous. But I am blind…”

“No, you are not,” said Jana, and the elf could see.

Ethiel led them back out the door the party came through, and down the hall to the right. Ratchis carried Jeremy’s body, while the others were alert for attack or trap. The elf brought them to a room which was more like a long rectangle of hallway connecting a variety of cells and housing a stone room with itself.

One cell they passed had a small, but stout figure lying on the floor. The party peered in. It was a gnome, dressed in armor torn to shreds and clothing soaked with blood.

“Who’s in that cell?” Martin the Green asked the elf.

“Oh, he is a guest who is unwell,” the elf said.

“Well, we need to make him well,” Ratchis said.

“I think he has gone across,” said the elf. “This is actually a memory of long ago. There is no gnome in the cell.”

“Uh-huh,” said Ratchis. “He needs a proper burial.”

“We will deal with him later,” said Kazrack. “Let us deal with the living first.”

They continued around the corner.

Ethiel brought them to a cell where a lithe elven figure lay on a mat on the hard earth. She wore tight burgundy hose, with a lavender shirt of sheer material over white cotton blouse beneath. She turned, pushing her golden hair from her face.

It was Tirhas Tesfay.

“What are you doing here?” Tirhas said, sitting up, her voice was as soft and clear as a distant churchbell.

“Are you ensorcelled?” Kazrack asked.

“No,” Tirhas replied, in her normal condescending tone. “But, Ethiel is.”

She pointed to elf that had led them, “Can you get me out of here?”

“We may have to tie you up?” Kazrack whispered.

“What ever it takes,” replied Tirhas.

“Who has the key?” Kazrack asked Ethiel.

“I do,” the elf replied, holding up a ring of keys.

Kazrack snatched it from his hand.

“I have to go in there and tie her up so we can take her out of here,” said Kazrack.

“That sounds like a good idea,” said Ratchis playing along.

“No, wait,” the elf said, shaking his head. “Something isn’t right here. She can’t go.”

The party turned to Ethiel, who stood bolt right, “Orc! Foul mimic of our people! I will not let you set her free!”

“We are here to help,” said Kazrack.

The elf swung at Ratchis, who dropped Jeremy’s body and grabbed the elf in a bear hug again.

“He’s not going to believe you. We need to get out of here,” Tirhas said.

Ratchis squeezed the elf until he slumped over and then tossed him in an empty cell.

Kazrack let Tirhas free.

“How did you get here?” How did you even find this place?” she asked.

“A very long story, that,” said Kazrack. “We were sent here.”

“By whom?” Tirhas asked. She looked at the body of Jeremy. “Your friend died? That is a shame. He was foolish, but foolishness can be envied. It is a trait elves are not allowed.”

“Let’s get out of here, and then we’ll explain it all to you,” said Ratchis.

“Grab Ethiel. We need a prisoner, and he seemed to break out of the enchantment briefly. Maybe by taking him out of here we can break it permanently,” said Kazrack.

“No, leave him in his cell,” said Tirhas. “We do not need to be tied down by a prisoner.”

“I am taking him,” said Kazrack, doing just that.

Ratchis scooped up Jeremy’s body, and Jana approached Tirhas. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“I will be okay,” the elf replied, calmly. “I am merely fatigued, but I have to ask you: Have you seen a half-elf girl?”

“Yes,” replied Ratchis.

“She is a drow,” said Tirhas, very solemnly, and Kazrack could feel something turn in his stomach.


They hurried outside and hustled back to the woods, making camp much closer to the enclave this time. They prayed they would not be followed.

“What did you mean that girl was a drow?” Kazrack asked Tirhas when the party had settled in, and Jana and Ratchis wrapped Jeremy’s body carefully.

“This place is called Aze-Nuquerna. It stands as guardian over a tunnel to the Plutonic Realms and over the spirits of three powerful witches, dark elf witches – for there are no other kind – from the Second Age, whom are trapped in the columns in the Chamber of the Three.”

“Yes, we saw the columns,” said Kazrack.

“The spirits can only be freed by providing them with a female elven body to inhabit; to possess. It is for that reason that only male elves are stationed at Aze Nuquerna. Females are not allowed to remain for more than three days to lessen the danger of possession. However, the possession can only happen at certain times under certain conditions, or else I might not be sitting here speaking with you,” Tirhas spoke evenly, but betrayed a growing anger with a brightening of her eyes. “That human… that Watch-Mage, freed one of the spirits into the body of the half-elven girl. Now her spirit is trapped in the stone, and the drow witch is free to practice her evil. This a foul thing this man did.”

She turned to Martin, the corners of her of her mouth folding downward toward her chin.

“He claimed that releasing the power would cause chaos among the drow and cause them more harm in the long run than good,” Kazrack said.

Tirhas did not pull her eyes from Martin, “That is insane. Thousands would die. It would not be worth the sacrifice. It is too much of a risk. And anyway, it meant essentially killing that girl.”

“Rahasia,” said Jana. “Her name is Rahasia.”

“She is trapped in that stone forever. Knowing, but not knowing. Bodiless, but immobile,” Tirhas said, looking down.

“Is there no way to reverse it?” Martin asked.

“None that I know of,” said Tirhas. “But Ethiel may know, he knows of more lore about these witches than I. Now, how did you find me?”

“Janx led us to fort, but we were already seeking it out,” said Kazrack.

“Janx! Is he still around?” Tirhas asked, excitedly.

“We do not know what happened to him. The last time we saw him was in the fortress,” said Ratchis.

“I had hoped that he would have gotten away and not endanger himself for me,” said Tirhas.

“You did as much for him when we first met you,” said Jana.

“I know,” Tirhas looked up again. “And why were you looking for this place?”

Ratchis and Kazrack looked at each other and then at the others. Kazrack nodded his head, and Ratchis told her everything. He began the night at the inn and told her the party’s entire tale until they had found her in the cell.

“That Watch-Mage is crazy,” said Tirhas. “He would come to my cell and brag to me about how he had all my kind ensorcelled. He said it was an object. He kept referring to it as “a simple thing”. The sooner we can break the spell, the sooner we can find the drow and then perhaps these elves can look to helping your gnomish friends.”

“Well, we cannot go back today,” said Martin.

“No, we should go back now,” said Ratchis.

“I agree,” said Tirhas. “You should go back as soon as possible.”

“Why?” asked Kazrack.

“They will not expect us to go back, and Richard must be close to being out of spells. Tomorrow, we’d have to fight him at full strength again.”

“We are not at full strength either,” said Martin. “And I do not have a full compliment of spells.”

“The longer a time in that body, the more comfortable she becomes and the more powerful she will be,” said Tirhas. “We need to find her soon if we hope to defeat her.”

“But we don’t know how to break the spell,” said Kazrack.

“True, but if what she says is true Richard the Red implied it was an item,” said Martin. “If we find such an item we can perhaps destroy it or removed it from the area to end the enchantment.”

The party prepared to return. Even Jana decided to go back, despite her exhaustion, but they waited for her to catch her wind enough to not slow them down too much.

Ratchis walked over to where Jeremy’s body lay.

“It’s my fault,” he said, softly.

“What is?” asked Kazrack, coming up behind the half-orc.

“I was too slow,” said Ratchis.

“How do you mean?” asked the dwarf.

“In slaying the creature that killed Jeremy,” said Ratchis.

“Then we’re all guilty,” said Kazrack. “Let’s go.”

Tirhas remained behind with the elven captive.

“If we do not return, please give our friend a burial,” said Kazrack to the elf.

“It will be least I can do for all you have risked and done for my kind,” said Tirhas.


The snow was glittering from the sun, which was reaching its apex for the day, and was very bright that day. They could hear water running down the sides of the elven fortress, sliding along rivulets of ice that occasionally broke, leaving imprints of themselves in the diminishing snow below.

Jana, Ratchis, Kazrack and Martin returned to Aze-Nuquerna. The door was still open. The party slipped through with Ratchis in front, followed by Jana and Martin, with Kazrack taking up the rear. They tried to be quietly, and walked softly to the left into one of the chambers with the stairways to the lookout, the hearth and the broad corridor going deeper into the fortress. They turned up the broad corridor, but Kazrack looked and saw the collection of strange items on the mantle above the hearth.

“A top hat!” he said aloud. “What is this stuff? We should check it out.”

“I remember seeing a motley collection of things on the other mantle on the other side when Richard cast that cloud of stinking gases,” Ratchis said. “We got so distracted, I had forgotten about it until now.”

The party collected the objects from both mantles. They were a weird collection of things to have on display, having no obvious relation and some being in shabby shape. There was: a small round painted stone statuette of a goblin, a corked blue wine bottle only ¾ full, a moth-eaten top hat, a pipe, a fist-sized ruby, a cracked tea cup, a necklace of sea shells and a lantern.

“Do you think one of these things could be what we are looking for?” Kazrack asked Martin.

“Well, it is clever to hide it in plain sight, but I cannot know for sure unless I use my Detect Magic spell, but I only have one prepared. Perhaps we should see if we can find anything else that might be a possibility and I can cast my spell and examine it all at once, that is, unless Jana can cast the spell,” Martin said.

“I do not know that spell,” said Jana, sounding almost embarrassed.

“Then we will continue, and search some more,” said Ratchis continuing down the broad corridor lined with the statue-filled niches. The other three followed, but elves with bows appeared at the end of the hall. They had arrows nocked, and called out to the party, “You may come no further. You are invaders who seek to disrupt the sanctity of our home.”

“We mean you no harm,” called Kazrack.

“Then why have you caused us pain and hurt us many times?” the elf called, his tone was still that flat tone of a sleeper.

“You have shot us with arrows and caused us pain as well,” said Kazrack. “Perhaps we should talk to your leader.”

“Our leader is a statue,” replied the elf.

“The statue is testing you by making us look other than we are,” Kazrack said cryptically.

One elf cocked his head in confusion, but the other kept his arrow trained on Ratchis, without wavering.

“Is your leader supposed to be a statue?” Martin asked.

“No,” the elf replied. “You must leave. You are no welcome here.”

The party stood their ground for a moment, but finally relented, realizing they were in no shape for yet another confrontation with the elves. They backed out of the corridor and hurried from the fortress, carrying what they found on the mantle.

Ratchis, Martin, Jana and Kazrack returned to camp. And scattered the items on a blanket and Martin cast his spell. The only thing that radiated magic (and a very strong amount) was the silver flask. It was covered in elvish runes.

“Do you think if we destroy it, it will break the enchantment?” Kazrack asked.

“We have no way of knowing that this has anything to do with the enchantment,” said Martin. “It could be a coincidence.”

“Well, it is our only lead. If this doesn’t work, I’m afraid we are going to have to spend another day recuperating and then try again,” said Ratchis, his voice even more raspy than usual.

The Friar of Nephthys picked up the flask and turned it around in his hand. It was an example of excellent work, each letter perfectly carved into the smooth and soft polished silver. The cap was rounded and screwed on and off.

“Well, here goes nothing,” Ratchis said, and he unscrewed the cap. There was a sudden hissing sound, but then nothing happened for a moment. Ratchis looked to Martin and then Jana, who shrugged their shoulders.

And then a blue mist rose slowly from the flask and was dissipated by the cold wind. It was silent as the party waited to see if anything would happen, but then Ethiel was awake.

“What? Where am I? Who are you people? Why are the tokens we guard out here? Why am I tied up? Tirhas?” The tone in the elf’s voice, actually had a hint of worry. It still had the calmness of elves, but not the laconic attitude of before.

Tirhas moved to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, “Ethiel, it okay. You are safe. Let me untie you and I will explain everything.”

And she proceeded to.

As she explained as best she could to Ethiel, Kazrack asked Martin, “Is that flask still magical?”

“I’ll have to wait for tomorrow to find out,” the Watch-Mage replied.

Finally, Tirhas finished her tale and Ethiel turned to the party, “I guess I should thank you for your relentless attempt to help us. Who knows what greater evil would have happened if you had not come when you did. When the mage cam we took him in as a guest; he was an Academy wizard, we had not reason not to trust him.”

“Well, you do now,” said Ratchis.

Ethiel stared at the half-orc for a long time.

“I hope you can forgive me for my rough an abusive treatment,” the half-orc finally said, growing uncomfortable under the elf’s gaze.

“You did what you had to do,” Ethiel said simply. “But one must wonder why the Watch-Mage did what he did.”

“He is a rogue, a renegade. He thinks he knows better than the Academy masters,” Martin said, betraying his anger and disappointment.

Ethiel looked down at the items the party had removed from the hearth mantles in Aze-Nuquerna.

“These need to be returned and replaced right away,” Ethiel said. “These token are powerful items of witchcraft that we also guard over, some of which once belonged to drow witches.”

Jana’s jaw dropped as she made the connection, realizing that the key top great power was spread out in front her and she would likely never get to examine even one of those tokens. (65)

“Was this one of them?” Ratchis asked, showing him the silver flask “It is what had you enchanted.”

“No, I do not remember that. It must have been brought by the Watch-Mage,” replied Ethiel. “But we should take it and examine it and keep it safe if my kind are so susceptible to it.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Let us return to the compound,” said Ethiel. “If the enchantment is broken, and Naerdonel was turned to stone, then I am the ranking officer. The others will be looking for me.”

Ethiel led the way back to Aze-Nuquerna, and after a moment’s tense confusion, they were allowed in and the party was given rooms to stay in. Jeremy’s body was placed in cold storage underground.

The other elves explained that as soon as the enchantment was broken they searched for Richard the Red and for Rahasia (who was no possessed by the drow witch) and could find no sign of them. Ethiel speculated that perhaps they had penetrated the portal to the Plutonic Realms, and even now were on their way to make contact with other drow deep in those dark caverns.

“Tomorrow you shall be invited to a council and we will discuss possible ways of handling this situation, and to officially thank you for your unsought help,” Ethiel said. He took the flask from them and after a light meal they adjourned to bed.

End of Session #22



(65) Witchcraft tokens do not detect as magical.
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Red God

Hey nemm, i just read your new article on the Aquerra site about the Red God. Cool stuff! I'm looking forward to getting the published version of your world.



First Post
Poor Jana

[Quote/]Jana’s jaw dropped as she made the connection, realizing that the key top great power was spread out in front her and she would likely never get to examine even one of those tokens. (65) [/Quote]

Oh this had me laughing! It reminds me of the time my wizard had to burn a liches cursed spellbook! Are there anti-witch feelings everywhere in Aquera?

If I was Jana I would make sure I found a way to get away with at least one of those tokens. But then my screen name says it all.

Well Nemm great update as always, keep up the good work.

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