"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book III: Fanning the Embers


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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Conclusion of the Pit of Bones Adventure

Session #62 (part iv)

“How long has he been like this” Beorth asked.

“I don’t know, part of an hour, I guess,” Ratchis replied.

Martin the Green lay rigid on his side, the Book of Black Circles clutched tightly to his body.

“Maybe we should take the book from him,” Ratchis suggested.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” the paladin replied. He kneeled in close to examine the wizard. “His eyes are open and he is breathing, but he seems to be in some kind of state.”

“Kick him,” Gunthar said, coming into the alcove behind them. “Works to get lots of things going.”

“Gunthar, I do not appreciate your demeanor,” Beorth said, sternly.

“Don’t get bent out of shape, Baldie,” Gunthar said. “I’m just trying to help.”

Suddenly, Martin sat bolt upright and tossed the book away from him. The book fell open, and the pages flipped of their own accord for a moment.

“It wasn’t real!” Martin cried.

“What wasn’t real?” Beorth asked.

“Are you okay?’ Ratchis asked.

“Dough-boy’s gone cuckoo,” Gunthar said, leaving to return to the camp in the other alcove.

Martin stood, but did not answer. He walked over to the Book of Black Circles and careful not to read anything on the page he picked up the book and closed. A chill went through his body.

“Martin, what is it?” Ratchis asked.

The watch-mage merely walked out of the alcove and down into the great room, and toss the book into one of the burning braziers.

Ratchis and Beorth had followed. Ratchis walked over to the brazier as the fire died down and finally went out. The book, however, had not a mark on it aside from the singed quality the hide cover already had.

Ratchis made to grab it.

“Wait!” Martin warned. “It tried to tempt me. It showed me a life five years from now when all our goals were accomplished because I had taken to using the Book for good.”

“No such temptation would work on me,” Ratchis said. “My goddess protects me from those things that would seek to fool or ensorcell my mind.”

“If your goddess will protect you then bless you for trying,” Martin sighed. He sunk down to the ground once again.

Ratchis picked up the book and his face went pale. He stumbled backward and dropped the book on the ground, and then almost fell to his knees. The half-orc could feel the cold touch of negative energy shoot through his body in a way that he had not felt since fighting the wight outside of Garvan. (1)

“No one touch it,” he said in shrill whisper.

Martin scooped the book up with the oilskin bag and sealed it back up. “Let us try to have as little to do with it as possible until the time comes to destroy it.”

“Then how will you know what spell to cast from it?” Beorth asked.

“I have a feeling that when the time comes I will know which one it is,” Martin replied. “I just hope that the spell o destroy it and the spell I must cast from it are one and the same.”

“How could it not be that way?” Beorth asked.

Martin just shrugged his shoulders, and looked sadly at Ratchis’ scarred and drooping face.

They went back up to the alcove where they had made camp where the others waited for them.

Beorth tried to get Kismet to talk about what her wishes were for Schlomo’s body, but she was despondent. All the while, Rhondar let out an endless stream of complaints about how he wanted to get out of there. Debo grunted and growled at everyone as he form of complaining. A few times, he and Gunthar to talk, which mostly consisted of Gunthar cursing at the barbarian.

“Debo want to go,” Debo announced as he returned to the alcove the third time. “Debo can’t die, but Debo still don’t want trapped down here forever.”

“Gun Ee-Un kuhn unlee uh uh uh-un,” Kazrack said, through the clenched mess of mouth he had. Ratchis had set it the best he could. Everyone looked at the dwarf and shrugged. (2)

“I’m with Debo,” Rhondar said. “I want to go.”

“I don’t care what happens,” Kismet said sullenly.

“How about you, Gunthar? Will you come with us?” Beorth asked.

“Whut are ya doin’?”

Beorth did his best to explain about the planar bleed, the demon-gnomes, the succubus, the monks and Hurgun’s Maze.

“De-ruhn-Duh-lum iz cunnin on us,” Kazrack managed to get out.

“If this is so important, why not send for some heroes?” Gunthar asked. (3)

“Ee are uh heroes,” Kazrack grunted.

Gunthar rolled his eyes.

“We have sent for others, but it will take a long time for them to reach Derome-Delem,” Martin tried to explain. “Until then, we are the only ones in a position to help.”

“Well, it sounds to me like the Hurgun’s Maze place is like those dungeon-complexes from the Age of Heroes, and if there is anywhere I can find a way to bring my brother back to life, it is one of those places,” Gunthar reasoned aloud.

“He may be happy where he is,” Beorth commented.

“I don’t care. I just want my brother back,” Gunthar replied. “I been looking for him for a long time and I ain’t gonna let his real death stop me.”

“You can’t leave us!” Rhondar protested. “We’re a group. We have a plan! Though it may be time to rethink the plan.”

“The plan can still work,” Gunthar said. “But it works like I say it’ll work.”

“What was the plan, to give Debo the sword and have him jump down into the dragon’s gullet?” Martin asked facetiously.

“I guess, the wizard’s smarter than he looks,” Gunthar winked and poked Rhondar with his elbow.

“All of this is for naught,” Ratchis interrupted. “We still do not know the dwarven name of the Maze, and if what Hamfast said is to be believed, which I have a feeling it is, then we are still far from succeeding at what we came here for.”

“Eave aut tuh me,” Kazark said, clutching the bag of runestones about his neck.

“And in the meantime, I will search Hamfast and his things and see if he might have had it written down somewhere,” Martin suggested.

The only thing of interest on Master Hamfast were a pair of black bracers with traced designed in silver and midnight blue of skulls and ships and the various phases of the moon. The left bracer held a sheath for a dagger or dirk. A simple spell soon revealed their magical nature.

Martin was hesitant to put them on until he knew more about them. Ratchis stowed them in his pack.

Meanwhile, Kazrack cast his stones before the statue of Natan-ahb in the alcove across from the one where camp had been made.

Holding the idea of Hurgun’s Maze in his mind, he cast the stones from the bag in a circular pattern, and closed his eyes. Inwardly, he beseeched his gods to grant him the answer to the question.

When Kazrack opened his eyes he immediately saw the runes in the center had fallen in four groups of two, while a key runestone letter than by itself meant ‘together’ and often used for ‘and’ was very near the left of them. The rest of the stones had scattered far. He would have had to get up on his knees and stretch to read them. Instead he ignored them. Some instinct told him that these nine runestones were all he needed, for a second pattern was emerging, and he quickly moved the stones around until they could be read as “ol’fargeh wurn, ol’sonn ihar” or as ol’fargeh ihar, ol’sonn wurn” or ol’fargeh sonn, ol’wurn ihar”.

These were the dwarven words for the four basic elements, and the pattern they suggested let them be interpreted in all combinations. What else might dwarves call Hurgun’s Maze?

Kazrack tried to cheer, but as he opened his mouth, a shard of jaw bone shifted and fresh blood came into his mouth and he grunted in agony.

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

It was decided that the party would immediately try to enter the door that Hamfast had been zapped at, and hope that having the dwarven name of Hurgun’s Maze (or at least the words needed to creat it) would be enough to protect them from whatever wards might be there.

“Are you coming?” Ratchis asked Gunthar.

“I promised o help you even though you didn’t help me with my quest, but unlike you pretty-talking folks I keep my word.”

“Ut iz unerable uh you,” Kazrack grunted out.

“And it is sh*tty of you,” Gunthar sneered.

“I don’t want to go in there,” Rhondar repeated. “Gunthar, Debo, let’s go back.”

“I already said what I’m doing, ya pansy,” Gunthar replied.

“Debo go with Gunthar. Debo stay with plan,” Debo said.

“I want to go with the plan to, but this isn’t part of plan,” Rhondar’s voice brayed like an ass’. “Why risk ourselves?”

“That elf girl has bigger balls than you do, Rhondar,” Gunthar lambasted him. “How do you expect to help with the dragon if you are pissing your armor all the time?”

“I’m good with the sneaking part of the plan,” Rhondar said this in a tone that suggested he had said something similar many many times.

“Then sneak your ass back out of here and meet us in Summit,” Gunthar said. “The plan can stillw work, with some changes.”

Anarie and Beorth looked at each other, and then both looked to Martin, who shook his head.

“Will doughboy cast the spell on me again?” Rhondar looked to Martin.

“I am sure ‘Doughboy’, whomever he might be, would love to cast the spell of water-breathing on you. I, however, expect respect from those who seek my aid.”

“Oh! Dough-boy’s getting uppity,” Gunthar said. “Ya better slap him around and remind him who’s boss, eh, pig-f*cker?”

Martin sighed.

After the spell was cast and Rhondar made a stink about his ‘share of the treasure’, the rogue took off to the non-flooded levels above, while Kazrack made ready to approach the altar once again.

Holding his arms out, palms up in a display of trust, Kazrack walked forward, chanting in dwarven and projecting the pure positive energy of his god towards the great dog golem. (4)


The dog leapt off the stone ramp that led up to the altar area and smashed it’s head into the dwarf’s face once again.

Gunthar hustled behind a pillar well out of reach snickering. He had described in colorful language this exact thing happening.

“I’ll distract it!” Ratchis cried and ran over, temporarily enchanted sword in hand.

But the dog was not to be stopped, and grabbing the dwarf up like a doll, it tossed him aside to bleed.

Ratchis took off after his companion as Debo ran past the dog towards the altar getting its attention. It turned to grab the barbarian, but he ran with great quickness for his stocky form and cutting sharply made for the steps of the opposite alcove.

Beorth ran forward and the dog, sensing him, turned.

“Lehrothronar, in the name of Anubis I call on you to control this raging guardian that defends your temple for in Kazrack it shall be marshaled by steady hands!” The paladin focused the power of his own god towards the golem in much the same way that Kazrack had, but whether his faith was not strong enough, or that dog could only be moved by the dwarven divine was unknown to him; either way it did nothing and the dog bound at him.


The stone golem barked, and the sound burst through the great chamber. Martin was knocked off his feet, while Anarie’s head was ringing for moments after.

“Nephthys! Heal my friend, the dwarf, so he may have another chance to be tested by his gods,” Ratchis prayed over Kazrack.

The dwarf climbed to his feet as the dog, turned to them after chasing off Beorth.

“Lehrananar, leh me me yuh sessel tuh duh yuh will an’ reveal the knowledge thut will uhlow us tuh nave tuh um-land uh uhn dwarves!”

The dog stopped, and then sat.

Everyone let out a sigh.

Kazrack cringed as he tightened the bandage and rag holding what was left of his jaw in place.

“Go back to your perch,” Kazrack commanded the dog in the sacred tongue of ancient dwarven.

Instead the stone golem dog stood and walked ponderously towards the dwarf, each step sending the sound of stone scraping on stone to echo painfully throughout the chamber. The dog leaned forward and made as if to breathe on the dwarf and suddenly though the mouth was closed off stone, he felt a warm breath upon him, and most of his wounds began to heal.

In dwarven (which sounded like even more gibberish to the others), Kazrack thanked the golem for his loyal service and told him to continue to guard the room after he and his companions had left, until such time that he could return with enough dwarves to return this place to its former glory.

The dog returned to its post.

The Fearless Manticore Killers and their greatly diminished companions, Anarie, Kismet, Gunthar and Debo, climbed up onto the altar area and towards the small metal door, Hamfast had tried to get through. Kazrack was examining the door with Anarie’s help when he noticed Gunthar over by the holy water font. He was splashing the crystal clear water onto his neck and face.

“Whut uh you Ooh-ing?” Kazrack marched over and shoved the Neergaardian away from the font.

“I’m just friggin’ sweaty!” Gunthar replied.

“Duh nuh dehile uh temple uh muh people.”

“What? I didn’t stick my head in it or anything! Sheesh!” Gunthar swore. “Friggin’ grubbers are touchy.”

“Juss stuh uh-wuy frum ieh,” Kazrack grunted.

Gunthar chuckled at the dwarf and walked away from the font.

Kazrack filled three flasks with the holy water, praying softly to himself in dwarven as he did so.

“I can sense no evil from this door, or beyond it,” Beorth said.

“There is no magic emanating from it either,” Martin said. “But there is no obvious way to open it.”

Kazrack walked back over and touched the door. It swung open of its own accord.

“Did you ever hear of the King’s Bank in Neergaard?” Gunthar asked Kazrack. The dwarf sneered, and Ratchis made the blonde warrior take up the rear.

Kazrack led the way down a narrow corridor no more than six feet high. Ratchis, Beorth and Martin had to crouch as they followed. It was a gentle slope downward of about sixty feet ending in another door much like the first.

“This one detects as moderately magical,” Martin observed.

Ratchis cast a spell upon Kazrack that would protect the dwarf from electricity, and speaking the dwarven words for a combination of the four elements, the dwarf pushed open the door. It swung open without incident.

Beyond was another huge room, though this one had a much lower ceiling that the temple proper and it was circular. All about the room were metal shutters, most of which were shut, but a few were partially open, or even open all the way, and from within shone a bright light as if the sun were on all side of these strange arched windows.

Kazrack noticed a round depression in the center of the floor, and approached it carefully. He could see that the beams of light all seemed to point towards it, but were unfocused by the time they reached it. What he saw within the depression was a huge map of Derome-Delem. It was incredibly detailed despite the scope of its scale. Suspended over the depression was a metal beam that was attached to slats on a rail around the map. It appeared to be made to turn the beam around the circle. In the center there seemed to be some kind of platform.

“Something sparkles,” Debo’s voice said, and Kazrack turned to look. On one side was a pile of ruby chips several inches deep.

“Nuh-uh tchruch uhnee-eng!” Kazrack commanded. Everyone seemed to know what he meant. A stout figure stepped out of the shadows between two of the shutters on the right. As he came into the light they could all see that he was very very old and frail, and his skin was so fragilely draped on his bones that he seemed dead, and his beard was so thin Kazrack pitied him.

“Finally…” the venerable dwarf coughed out as he approached., and got down on one knee before Kazrack, and bowed his head. He wore a suit of fine chainmail and had a battle axe on his shoulder. “I have waited long even for our race.”

“What have you been waiting for?” Kazrack managed to mumble out in his native tongue.

“I have been waiting for you,” the ancient dwarf croaked.

“And what will you do now?” Kazrack followed up, finding that if he spoke very slowly it was easier for others to understand him.

“How should I know? You are the one seeking knowledge,” the dwarf replied a bit of surliness entering his creaking voice. The dwarf stood again.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” Kazrack asked, uncertain of how to proceed.

“No, but by coming here you have fulfilled my reason for being,” the sentinel said.

“Martin, do you think he is undead?” Ratchis whispered to the watch-mage leaning in close as to not be overheard by Beorth.

The watch-mage shrugged his shoulders.

“Master, how may I address you?” Kazrack asked, cautious of dwarven etiquette.

“You may call me the Keeper of the Map- Room,” the dwarf replied. “My old name is unimportant. Will you use the map?”

“If I may, my companions and I seek the location of Hurgun’s Maze,” the last word was in common and the old dwarf’s face crinkled as if he did not understand. “How can this be determined? I had thought this place would simply hold a map demarking the Maze.”

“No, I know not of the location of this ‘Maze’ you speak of, except some foggy legends,” the dwarf explained. “But this map was designed to hide and to show many of the secret places of the dwarven people, and the locations of other people and places and objects important to us whether they be friend or enemy.”

The Keeper went on to point out that above each of the metal shutters hold back the light from the nearly horizontal shaft beyond was carved a dwarven rune. There was one for each of the 29 basic runic characters of the Xoth (5). The ruby chips on the other hand, each was carved with one of 25 modern dwarven runic characters, plus several of the picot-runes that vary by locality that represent some common or important words in and of themselves.

All Kazrack need do if he wanted to find a location on the map was spell the name in ancient dwarven, both by closing all the other shutters but those with corresponding runes in the name, and then spell it in modern dwarven with the ruby chips, setting them in proper order on the overhanging platform at the center of the beam, and then use the numerological total (6) of the name in the ancient language to know where to set he beam, as the track had engraved numbers at varying intervals along the circle.

It was then that Kazrack realized that it was not speaking the name of Hurgun’s Maze as he opened the door that protected him from the magical ward on the door to this chamber, rather that it was needed to make the map work.
The Keeper went on to explain that the scale of the map was such that finding precise points could still be difficult as areas may have changed in appearance over time and the former masters of this place knew locations by visual clues tied to knowing some of the areas fairly well. He also said that the ambient light created by the beams could be used to determine if certain places could only be found in certain times of year.

Kazrack explained how it worked to the others, as he and the Keeper had only been speaking in dwarven. With Martin’s aid, the dwarf was soon at a parchment with a quill to work out the translations.

“Can you spell out ‘best lay in Derome-Delem’?” Gunthar asked with a wide smile.

Kazrack leered at him.

‘Gunthar, shut up,” Ratchis warned.

“Feh… Like you aren’t curious.”

“I don’t think the map works like that,” Anarie said.

“Why not? It is obviously a magical device and puzzle, so it may reveal more abstract things,” Martin pondered.

“Ya see? Dough-boy wants to dip his wick into the best lay in this gods-forsaken place as much as I do.

“No!” Martin turned bright red. “I meant, that it may reveal things in a less literal fashion, pointing out things we might describe more abstractly.”

“I doubt it,” Anarie said. “There does not seem to be many spaces for the ruby chips on that beam, and from what I know dwarven is a verbose language.”

Kazrack grunted.

When Kazrack was ready he went over to the pile of ruby chips and one by one he held them up to the light to find the ones he needed. Unfortunately, he could not seem to find one that corresponded with “air”.

After describing it to the others, soon everyone was helping him look through the seemingly endless little ruby chips. Now that they had to handle and examine each one they could tell how many there really were; hundreds, if not thousands.

“We use map to find great treasure,” Debo suggested.

“If we wanted to be self-serving,” Beorth replied.

“Already are,” Debo countered. “You put your quest before ours.”

“Yours is for personal gain, ours is for the good of Derome-Delem,” Beorth answered.

“If we wanted to be self-serving, we’d kill you now,” Kazrack said very very slowly to be sure he was understood, but without once ounce less of the venom he was spitting.

“Yes, if you want to be coward,” Debo replied.

“If you really want to be self-serving you can spell out, ‘Best lay in Derome-Delem’,” Gunthar offered with a laugh.

“I found it,” said Kismet who had been half-heartedly helping the search. “But it seems to have a flaw in it.”

“Some of the other chips had marks inside of them,” Kazrack said.

“Yes, but this one looks more like a crack deep inside,” Kismet said, shrugging her shoulders. She gave it to Kazrack to examine. The dwarf sighed in frustration.

Martin tried to use his mending spell on the tiny ruby chip, and while part of the crack seemed to repair of it, there was still a discernible flaw.

Kazrack went about setting up the rubies and Beorth and Ratchis moved the beam at his direction. He then went and made sure the runes he needed had their shutters open and all the others were closed.

As soon as the last shutter was closed, the steel beam began to hum, and the lights converged on the ruby chips sending a red beam to shoot across the map. However, the red light seemed disperse before striking anything significant.

“I need to try a different combination of runes that signify Hurgun’s Maze,” Kazrack said with great deliberation.

He changed the rubies about in a different order, and this time the red light stayed strong.

It seemed to hit the lip of what corresponded to the ridge around Greenreed Valley, and then was refracted and struck several places on the back side of the set of plateaus marked as ‘the Amphitheatre’ on their own map.

“Look! We were right next to it all along,” Martin exclaimed.

“Yes, but which is it?” Beorth asked.

“Perhaps we can go there and search,” Anarie suggested.

“And have whoever it is who has been scrying on us know as soon as we find it?” Martin said glumly.

“Wait! Look at the light,” Ratchis said, creeping up to the map on his hands and knees. “Look at how the red light comes in at that low angle. If the red beam were the light of the sun sometime during the dawn and it was the first day of autumn, or so…”

No one seemed to get what he was saying.

“All we need do is go to the ridge itself, somewhere in that area and we should be able to see the sun come over the ridge and where it strikes must be the entrance to Hurgun’s Maze,” the half-orc continued.

“The autumnal equinox,” Martin muttered.

“Exactly,” said Ratchis, seeming satisfied.

“But that is months away,” Beorth said.

“We shall need to be patient, and it will give us time to find the spot, and perhaps to finally go to Nikar,” Ratchis said.

“Nikar? Why do you want to go all the way down there?” asked Gunthar.

“To get Beorth’s memory returned to him,” Ratchis replied.

“And to possibly send a message that would have a better chance of getting to the Academy, or local Academy alumni,” added Martin.

“Well, as long as it is not for my memory alone,” Beorth said. “I am willing to bear my curse longer if it will mean the lives of innocents.”

Ratchis rolled his eyes. “We will have time.”

“So, is that all we are going to ask this map?” Martin asked.

“What else is there to ask it?” Kazrack slurped awkwardly when he spoke, but at least he had learned the trick to being understood more times than not.

“Why not ask it the location of the first drow witch?” Ratchis suggested. “The one in the body of the maid girl, uh… Rahasia.” (7)

“What is her name, again?” Martin asked.

“Solorena,” Anarie said, quietly.

“There ish no dwarven equivalent of that,” Kazrack pointed out, his bandage was staining with blood again, and Martin cringed to look at him.

“Uh… Try it phonetically,” Martin suggested, and then noting Kazrack’s puzzled look he added, “Sound it out.”

Kazrack shrugged his shoulders and tried a few combinations, but the red light either never materialized, or was too diffuse to point to anything.

“I guess only knowledge know to those that made this map can be discerned from it,” Martin surmised.

“What about Glamorganna’s lair?” Beorth suggested.

“The dragon?” Ratchis asked.

The paladin nodded.

“Dragon names are the same in all languages,” Anarie offered. “They are written either by specific sigils or phonetically.”

Martin frowned at the elven maid.

Kazrack gave it a try. The red beam landed in a southwestern portion of at best guess was the Circle of Thorns. (8)

End of Session #62

---------------------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) Like in Session #38, Ratchis was drained of a level. This time from touching the Book of Black Circles.

(2) “Debo can only die of boredom,” the dwarf quipped.

(3) DM’s Note: From when the dream sequence ended until the end of this session Gunthar was played by Ken, who formerly played Jeremy. The idea was for him to continue in the game playing Gunthar, but eventually time did not allow for him to come down for sessions.

(4) DM’s Note: This uses a turning attempt.

(5) Xoth is the name of the ancient dwarven tongue and for all lore taught only in that language.

(6) The dwarven number system is based on the same runes used for writing, with the first letter being 1, etc… This means all words in dwarven can be given a numeric value by adding the individual letters’ values. Some dwarves use a rune based on an elven letter that represents zero, while others merely repeat the letter that equates to ‘O’ in common with a connecting line to represent a null set.

(7) She escaped Aze-Nuquerna way back in Session #22

(8) See Sessions #30 thru #33
 

Manzanita

First Post
Wow. That was cool. I wish I could have seen it played. What happened to the old dwarf? or do we find out next time? I'm curious if he were really still alive.

I can't remember how they planned to get Beorth's memory back.

So did Ken play Gunthar this session or did Nemmerle? His sense of humor seems unchanged
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
Wow. That was cool. I wish I could have seen it played. What happened to the old dwarf? or do we find out next time? I'm curious if he were really still alive.

His fate will be revealed next installment

Manzanita said:
I can't remember how they planned to get Beorth's memory back.

They hope a high level priest of Isis in Nikar would be able to do it.

Manzanita said:
So did Ken play Gunthar this session or did Nemmerle? His sense of humor seems unchanged

Yes he did. But why would he change the demeanor of the character if he played him? Even if he took over playing the role Gunthar would have to remain consistant.

As it was, Ken could not continue to come down so after this session any more Gunthar is all me. . . As was any before this session :D
 

Ciaran

First Post
nemmerle said:
As it was, Ken could not continue to come down so after this session any more Gunthar is all me. . . As was any before this session :D
Actually, I think I got to play Gunthar during a few combats. :D

- Eric (aka Martin the Green)
 

Manzanita

First Post
I wasn't saying Gunthar's character should change much, but he's got quite a sense of humor. Not everyone could play such a character.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Ciaran said:
Actually, I think I got to play Gunthar during a few combats. :D

- Eric (aka Martin the Green)

Yeah, but not for another session or two. . . When you guys fought the hellhounds (oops! spoiler!) I know that was definitely you play Gunthar, as Martin cringed behind some shrubs. . . . ;)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
I wasn't saying Gunthar's character should change much, but he's got quite a sense of humor. Not everyone could play such a character.

Yeah, it would have been hard for him to maintain, but he would have done it well enough, or if not role-played a believable softening of the character.

As it is, I am glad he is an NPC so I can toss him aside when I need to, because it does take (even me) a lot of energy to remain that obnoxious for that long. . . . :D
 

Elrik_DarkFury

First Post
I wasn't around for some time but i returned a week ago,and one of the first things i did, was to finish this excellent story hour.

Keep up the good work and give us more as soon as possible.

Also,
I started a new game with my friends a week ago and tried to implement many of your great ideas.
The style of my game has changed a lot.
-A story of considerably greater depth
-Detailed-realistic setting
-Memorable npc's,locations
-A lot of downtime for players to develop their characters etc..

Needless to say they all loved it and we can't wait to play again.
Thanx a lot :) !
_________________
The Wizard
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Elrik_DarkFury said:
I started a new game with my friends a week ago and tried to implement many of your great ideas.
The style of my game has changed a lot.
-A story of considerably greater depth
-Detailed-realistic setting
-Memorable npc's,locations
-A lot of downtime for players to develop their characters etc..

Needless to say they all loved it and we can't wait to play again.
Thanx a lot :) !

You're welcome! Glad I can help. . .:)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #63

“There is another way out of here,” the Keeper said to Kazrack. “But it can only be opened from this side. Once you have gone through you cannot return the same way.”

Kazrack conveyed this to the others.

“Debo say take secret way!” Debo said.

“Zank you fur yer dawts,” Kazrack grunted out quickly. “If they can be called such.”

“Let’s go back to the other chamber and rest and re-group and decide which way to go, and then go in the morning,” Ratchis suggested. “Or what we hope is morning.”

Back at their camp, Kazrack said he wanted to spend the time to clear this entire complex out, and prepare it for re-habitation. The others disagreed, bringing up the danger of the place and the pressure of time.

“Zell, if ve ur going tuh go anywhere, let’s go where my jaw cun beh healed,” Kazrack said.

“Our choices seem to be limited,” Beorth said.

“Well, it seems like our choices are either Nikar or Abarrane-Abaruch,” Martin pointed out.

“Zuh ulfs?” Kazrack asked.

“Elves?” Martin guessed, and the dwarf nodded.

“I doubt Ethiel, or the other elves of Aze-Nuquerna have the means to repair your jaw,” Anarie said.

“Is there a library in Nikar?” Beorth asked.

“I think there is a temple of Thoth,” Martin said. (1)

“There is no temple of Thoth in Nikar,” Ratchis said.

“Oh,” was all Martin could reply.

“And what of Hamfast?” Beorth asked. “Do we leave him here to find his way back, or bring him with us through the one-way exit?”

“I don’t care what happens to him,” Ratchis grunted. “Every time we have let these monks go it has tasted worst to me than the last.”

“Uh zay we let him live wit’ food and uh potion,” Kazrack managed to get out. “To show we have given kindness and mercy.”

“Since when have these monks ever cared when we showed them mercy?” Ratchis fumed.

“If out of a hundred…” Kazrack began.

“Debo don’t understand! Why not kill monk. He an enemy!” the barbarian’s anger grew with his puzzlement.

It was agreed to let the matter sit until after the group had rested. In the meantime, Beorth spent his time trying to convince Kismet to part with one of her water-breathing potions for the monk; at least until Anarie pointed out that the magical potions that had been found among the monks’ things probably had the same effect.

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

Later in what felt like night, as Martin and Kazrack took watch, the Academy Wizard went off on a long detailed explanation of all the resources they might find if they took the time to go to Nikar, and how helpful it would be to their cause.

“Uh-huh,” was all Kazrack replied, seeming bored of the talk. Or perhaps, his shattered jaw was hurting him too much to answer.

“My all accounts Hurgun’s Maze is going to be a grave danger, and heavily protected and guarded with powerful wards and who knows what else,” Martin began on a different tack. “We will need more and newer gear, and perhaps access to some magics that Anarie and I do not have, and perhaps we may want to consider hiring a sellsword or two…”

“Uh-huh,” Kazrack nodded. “We’ll discuss it with the others in the morning.”

“But Kazrack, ultimately it is you who must make this decision,” Martin replied, and Kazrack’s face took on a puzzled visage. “We do not have the funds to get these thing, but since you are the new keeper of this place, perhaps there are some treasures to be taken from here to help pay for them, you know, for the greater good.”

Kazrack was furious and would hear nothing more on the matter. He did not speak again to the watch-mage even after receiving an apology.


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

“Does anyone know what day it is?” Martin asked. “I have lost track.”

He was packing away his journal after making some notes in it, as everyone else broke down camp and prepared to leave.

“The 22nd?” Anarie guessed. “I often forget to keep track of days.”

“It is late spring,” Ratchis offered. “Summer will be here soon, perfect for our march to Nikar.”

“But we sill have sufficient time before the equinox, correct?” Beorth asked.

“Months,” said Ratchis. “A little more than three, to be precise.”

“Ze cun find out whun we get back to Shummit,” Kazrack had to suck back his saliva every five or six words to keep from bloody drool pouring out of his mouth.

“Summit?” Ratchis asked. “Why do we need to go there? We are just more likely to get embroiled in something else that will keep us from getting to Nikar at all. Better we head straight for the town and then come back in time to find where the beam will hit, but keep a low profile.”

“But we may need to see what is going on, what if the gnomes are in trouble?” Beorth asked.

“That is exactly what we need to avoid,” Ratchis said. “This has become bigger than just the gnomes. I said before and I’ll say it again, if I have to choose between the gnomes and the humans, than my loyalty is with the gnomes first, but the truth is Mozek and his mother and what they can do with Hurgun’s Maze endangers everyone. We cannot afford to be sucked into some other conflict, perhaps killed or captured and then fail to be there when the beam hits and it is time to go into the Maze.”

Kismet began to softly weep.

“I need to at least return to Aze-Nuquerna to let Ethiel know where I have gone,” Anarie said.

“And while we are there I can see if they have more specific maps of the area to and around Nikar,” Martin suggested.

“Also, I think such moral gymnastics to avoid making the choice dictated by our scruples is a treacherous endeavor,” Beorth said, and then he moved to comfort Kismet and get her going.

The Fearless Manticore Killers and company, made their way back into the map room, and the Keeper brought Kazrack over to what appeared to be one of the huge rounded stones that made the room. Touching it gently and speaking a word in dwarven, the huge stone slid backward revealing a very narrow passageway to a spiral stairway.

“Up this way,” the Keeper croaked. “It will close behind you, and you must hurry. Anyone trapped in the stairway will be crushed. It also acts as one of the gears that moves the stone.”

“Master, I thank you for your unfailing loyalty to our people,” Kazrack told the venerable dwarven guardian. “What will you do now?”

“Once you have gone, I can lay down and crumble to dust,” the dwarf said. “I have fulfilled my duty. This place is now yours to look after.”

Kazrack bowed.

“I shall return,” he intoned, his dignity just slightly undermined by his drooling shattered lower face.

Kazrack stopped long enough to take the one of the ruby chips that they had needed to find the location of Hurgun’s Maze, to insure that even if someone made it here, they would be hard pressed to replicate what they had done. And then he led the others up the dark narrow stair.

Anarie spoke an arcane word and soon a ball of light that illuminated the area like a torch was following her, and then she followed Beorth, who followed Kismet and Martin. Ratchis took up the rear to insure that no one tried to get out with any other treasures.

At the top of the stairway was a small room, as the last of them came through, the opening they came through was sealed off by a rotating stone statue of Lehrothronar. There appeared to be no way of opening it from this side, and the addition of spots for prayer stones and low stone benches, made this tiny alcove seem more like a place for prayer than a secret entrance.

And so they began the long slow march up the narrow and low-ceilinged passageway, that had its constant slow grade only interrupted by occasional staircases of ten or fifteen steps.

The long dark march was so long, eventually Anarie’s spell ran out, and the group marched on in the dark leading each other along for a while, until Debo complained of the dark after tripping on Kismet.

Anarie cast the spell again, and they found themselves in a damp room with stone benches, and a twisted and rusted weapons rack. The skeletal corpses of two armored dwarves were found in a stagnant puddle. They were too far gone to determine what had killed them, but there was not evidence of arrows or weapons left behind, except their own rusted axes and ruined crossbows.

“Dwarf, you’re telling me this place is long enough to need a rest stop?” Gunthar complained. “Do we even know where this place lets out?”

Kazrack moved the two bodies, with Beorth’s help, and said a prayer over them, and covered them over with stone to create a makeshift cairn.

After eating some rations they moved on, until nearly an hour later they came to what appeared to be a dead end. However, there were very narrow slits in the thick stone wall that let in dying light.

A quick search revealed the hand and eye of Lehronronar carved onto one wall. Kazrack focused the divine power of his gods into the symbol and a secret door swung open onto a three foot wide ledge, high up on a canyon wall.

“Why in the Hells would they build a door up here?” Gunthar said, when the cold wind whipped into the tunnel.

“The geography was probably very different before the earthquake,” Beorth reasoned.

“Wait here,” Ratchis said, and he climbed out on to the ledge. It was a narrow ravine that he thought he remembered from his reconnaissance of the area from above with the aid of Martin’s spell of levitation. (2)

They were about 80 to 100 feet up from the trickle of stream that ran below. It was only forty feet to the plateau above.

Martin cast levitation on Ratchis and he was sent up to check the plateau above and to see if there was a safe way to get everyone up and out of the area from there without having to do too much more climbing.

Less than twenty minutes later, Ratchis was back to describe what he had seen.

“This ravine runs just about north-south,” he explained. “We only have a few hours light, so I recommend we use this spell to get everyone up top. The ravine will be too dangerous in the dark, and this upper way leads to the southern tip of the woods near the elves and Ogre’s Bluff. One thing though, I saw the silhouette of a large winged figure to the east. It was a shadow on a cloud. I am not sure what it was.”

“The wyvern! The wyvern is bad! It’ll kill us all. It killed Creedadal,” Kismet was hysterical.

“It was far away, and I hope that we will be even further away before sundown.” Ratchis said.

It was agreed. Martin would use levitation allow Ratchis to ferry people from the opening up to the plateau top. Kazrack was first. The dwarf straddled the half-orc from the front, and Ratchis held him in place with one strong arm.

“Ha! Ha! Stonefolk humps him like dog!” Debo guffawed.

“Why do you have to carry up this way?” Kazrack asked slowly, letting go to wipe the drool soaking his mangled beard.

“Because it is safest,” Ratchis replied. “I can hold on to you with one hand, while I use the other to pull us over at the top.”

“I would have preferred the extra level of danger,” the dwarf said, embarrassedly; Gunthar and Debo’s mocking laughter echoed up after them.

The barbarian refused to be carried, and climbed unaided to the top of the plateau.

Eventually, all were at the top. It was broken plateau at the edge of all the broken lands and ravines that surrounded the area around the Pit of Bones, that connected at a narrow point with the huge forested ridge that held Aze-Nuquerna and Ogre’s Bluff in the north where it met Greenreed Valley, to the southern edge where the party came across the stone giant homestead. (3) It was covered now with brown and green fuzz that seemed to be ready to bloom into life.

It was a long march to the forest’s edge, and they barely found a secure place to camp before night fell.

As they ate from their meager rations, Kazrack once again brought up the subject of going to Nikar, and Ratchis immediately called for a vote. Kazrack only agreed to come along if the majority were for going.

“But don’t you want your jaw repaired?” asked Ratchis.

“Yes, but that can be done in Abarrane-Abaruch, or it can simply wait,” Kazrack said, enunciating each word carefully. “My gods have seen fit to inflict me with such a burden, just like past burdens and if I must be inconvenienced so that others may live and be free, so be it.”

“But Kazrack, you can hardly cast spells!” Ratchis argued.

The dwarf shrugged his shoulders.

Martin and Beorth both voted for Nikar, while Anarie abstained.

“I’ll go to Nikar!” Gunthar said.

“Debo with Gunthar!” Debo complained. “We made plan!”

“Easy there you strained turd,” Gunthar answered. “The plan will still go off. You go and watch over the you know what, make sure it is still there and do your part of the plan, I’ll help them get to Nikar, and in return they’ll help me get my brother back when the time comes. Right?”

He looked to the Fearless Manticore Killers. They all ignored him.

“I say we go to Nikar,” Ratchis said.

“So, I am overruled,” Kazrack replied. “But I still say we go to the elfin compound to see what we might learn.

Anarie nodded, and the others compromised.

Watches were set and in the dark of night, Martin, Debo and Gunthar were stuck with the middle watch. Gunthar soon found a comfy spot under a tree and went to sleep. Debo went stalking off.

Late into the watch Martin heard something at the edge of camp, and he hurried over to grab a brand from the fire and see what it was.

There was a small figure in brush.

“Who’s there? Come out!” Martin hissed, unsure of himself.

It was Kismet.

“Kismet! Are you leaving us?”

“I…uh, was just going to relieve myself in private,” she feigned exasperation and rolled her eyes.

“With all your gear and your pack?” Martin put a hand on his hip. “You shouldn’t leave everyone without saying good-bye. That’s not right… At least come and visit the elves with us.”

“Oh… Okay,” Kismet walked back over to camp and plopped down. She did not bother to remove her pack, but sat there sulking through the night.


Isilem, the 23rd of Sek – 565 H.E.

Morning greeted the party with a cold light rain.

“This is late spring?” Martin complained.

“Is it different other places?” Ratchis asked. “Because this what it is always like in Derome-Delem.”

Martin the Green was in no mood to discuss the weather any further.

They marched north by northeast in a moody silence only punctuated by Kismet’s fits of sobbing, and Ratchis barking orders. The thick band of woods gave way to sparser area with muddy soil. The trees here were younger and thinner than in other parts of the forest, and many were broken or uprooted, and leaves, still green, scattered across the ground made slippery patches hard to notice.

After an hour of this, they came to a river that gave them all pause.

“I don’t remember a river,” said Beorth.

“From what I hear, you don’t remember a lot of things,” Gunthar laughed.

“We came out further west than I first thought,” Ratchis said. Martin had pulled out one of his maps nodding as if he agreed. “And we did cross this before, except that before it was a stream, and from what I can tell it has rained a lot while we were gone, and that with the melting snow from north of us turned it into this.”

As if in answer, the river gurgled, as white water rolled over stones and fallen trees roaring down a broad divot.

It amazed them that a river had sprung up seemingly overnight. Ratchis, unphased by the abrupt changes possible in nature, stripped off his armor and dropped all his gear but a rope. He then swum across the strong current and fastened the rope to a tree on one side, and then braved his way back across with one end of the rope.

After fastening the end on this side of the river, and Martin cast inglevitation on him, Ratchis then used himself as a human bridge, to pull his weightless self across the river while carrying various members of the party.

Debo grunted and threw his pack across the river with a running two-handed throw, and then leapt into the water, deftly swimming across.

Ratchis brought Kazrack across first, followed by Anarie, and then followed by Kismet and then Martin. The half-orc came back to get Beorth, but the paladin demurred.

“Take the gear and my armor, if you will” he said. “But I shall swim across of my own volition.”

“You may drown,” Ratchis said.

“I will not,” Beorth said. “If you will bring my gear across.”

Ratchis acquiesced.

Gunthar leapt laughing into the river, after having added his gear to the pile Ratchis was bringing across. He only wore his short sword about his neck.

Cutting across the rough water, shirtless, with his long blonde hair pulled taut across his back in the strong current, Ratchis could imagine Jeremy being the one swimming. But suddenly, the figure disappeared, and then cursing and coughing Gunthar broke the surface, waving his arms wildly, before being turned over twice by the river and washed way down stream.

“That could have been you,” Ratchis said to Beorth.

“Yes, but it wasn’t,” the paladin replied. “You had better save him. I shall be endeavoring to cross the river myself.”

Scowling, Ratchis dropped the gear and dove into the river after Gunthar, but after a rough going, he found Gunthar had managed to pull himself onto the other side a few dozen yards further down stream. He was sitting coughing and cursing.

Still scowling, he made his way to the west side of the river and walked up to get the gear. By then, Beorth had already made it across.

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

It was late into the evening when Fearless Manticore Killers finally came within site of the fortress of wood and upon the base of stone that was Aze-Nuquerna. Lucky for them, the light grew longer and longer as summer approached.

“Debo hate elf-men!” Debo complained.

“Debo, it is an ass-lickin’ elf place!” Gunthar tried to convince him by dubious means. “It is bound to be warm, and comfortable, and elves… You know!”

“Debo hate elf-men,” Debo said again. “Debo go to town, come back in two nights.”

With that, the barbarian took off for Ogre’s Bluff.

“Well, it was probably better the dumb bloated ballsack didn’t come anyway,” Gunthar said, shoving his hand into his pants to readjust himself. “He’d probably do something to embarrass us anyway.”

AS they came near the last great clearing before the elfin compound, there was a scuffle in the underbrush accompanied by barking, and a small dark form bounded out of the shadows at Ratchis. The half-orc dropper his hammer and grabbed up the brown and black mutt, which went crazy yipping and licking and nipping at him happily.

“Is that his girlfriend or his mother?” Gunthar snickered, and Ratchis shot him a nasty look.

“That is Kwa,” said Anarie.

A humanoid figure stepped out of the shadows as well, a tall blonde elf in studded leather armor. He wore a dagger and a quiver, there was an unstrung longbow leaning on his shoulder.

“Greetings Friends!” the mellifluous voice issued from the elven man like a song.

“Greeting Finduilas,” Anarie said coming over for a chaste hug. Both of the elves eyes seemed to shine when they spoke to each other.

“Greezings Finfushfeeshphush,” Kazrack drooled.

“I see Valto has found you,” Finduilas said to Ratchis, and noting the half-orc’s confused look. “We call him the elvish word for ‘luck’ or ‘chance’. Is that not what the name you gives him means?”

Ratchis nodded, and Martin gave him a solemn look. (4)

Finduilas led them into Aze-Nuquerna where Ethiel greeted them with might pass for happiness.

“Well met,” the elder elf said. “It is good to have so diligent a group return.”

“She are pleeshed tuh be her,” Kazrack replied.

“You are always welcome,” Ethiel said with a smile.

They were brought to a common area where they had taken their meals and rested in the past. The elves brought them a warm mushroom soup with a sweet rose-petal bread to shake off the wet and cold.

Anarie introduced Kismet to Ethiel and some of the other elves, but the gnome woman barely said a word – whether it was from awe of meeting elves or the horrors she had endured was uncertain.

Gunthar was indeed dumb-founded by the place and the elves, and for once in his life was quiet, except when after dinner he blurted out to Finduilas, “Are you a boy-elf or a girl-elf?”

The elf warrior did not reply, but sneered.

“It’s hair was prettier than this one’s,” Gunthar said, pointing to Anarie.

Kazrack and Ratchis both glared at the Neergaardian.

They were brought to rooms to sleep the night. In the morning there would be much to discuss.


------------------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) Thoth is the god of knowledge and wizardry, and his temples are always libraries.

(2) See Session #53

(3) See Session #51

(4) ‘Kwa’, the orcish word of luck or chance, was the name Ratchis gave the stray dog in honor of the party’s former companion, Chance (see session #20)
 
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Elrik_DarkFury

First Post
Hey!
This is merely an appetizer.
And we starve for more!!! :D

Also, looking forward to see martin getting new spells from anaries spellbook(as you may understand i favor wizards a tiny bit).
Good job and waiting to see more -maybe a city adventure or at least kazracks jaw repaired :D

___________________
The Wizard
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
nemmerle said:
As it was, Ken could not continue to come down so after this session any more Gunthar is all me. . . As was any before this session :D

I was wrong.

Looking over my notes, I realized and remembered that Ken played Gunthar for two more sessions before dropping out for good.

Session #63 was his last session with us. . .
 

Manzanita

First Post
I must admit, I'm a bit lost on the geography, but I enjoyed the update. They made some progress there, and I'm oh-so curious about what is going to happen...
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Hey in celebration of hitting 10,000 views let's do another lurker/reader role call. . .

Feel free to pimp your own story hour (if you have one) while you are at it, and let's see. . . favorite moment from the Pit of Bones (let's say from when they leave the giants to the last entry).

I know what mine is. . .
 

Graywolf-ELM

Explorer
If my memory serves me correctly, the escape from the pit of bones was harrowing. My favorite image, encounter, moment, was loooking down into the pit of undead babies. It was horrid.

GW
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Graywolf-ELM said:
If my memory serves me correctly, the escape from the pit of bones was harrowing. My favorite image, encounter, moment, was loooking down into the pit of undead babies. It was horrid.

GW

You are thinking of the escape from the Necropolis of Doom. . . ;)
 


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