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The Log of Patrick Logopolis

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Hello

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, I read many wonderful story hours on EN world. But of all of those stories, I saved a single one (database crashes were a thing back then too), because I felt it was so good. I saw that thread about old story hours (including Sagiro's , I recommend that one too!) and I thought maybe I should share this one again. I managed to find the story author and obtained permission to do so. Over the course of the next few weeks I will re-post this story hour, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

(The author isn't here anymore, but he did ask for the link, so if you ask questions he may return?)

I will start by sharing a prologue written by his GM at the time:


Introduction by Darren Herhold, Creator of Ermoon and DM for this campaign:

Mike Hammock, a former player in the latest Ermoon adventures took it upon himself to write a log tracking the deeds and discoveries of his character, Patrick Logopolis. Though his work started simply enough, it developed into a hugely entertaining and detailed record of our AD&D sessions from his character's perspective. Mike's effort is without question one of the greatest rewards I have ever received from my players. His story is quintessentially what RPGs are all about, and I can't tell you how pleased I am to have played a part in it.

Mike is an excellent writer, whose story masterfully accounts the adventures and discoveries of his character, a young Ionian priest named Patrick. Patrick is a priest of Prometheus who early in his career traveled north to Ailech, the home of his anscestors. As his character gained more experience, Patrick met new characters and explored foreign realms, until the sudden call of his deity to return and avenge a blasphemous transgression forced him to return. Along the way Patrick made life long friends and tragically lost a few as well.

Read and learn about Patrick's adventures. Meet his friends and companions, the druid Finis Conwill, the elven ranger Kellindel, the Hejazian wizard, Suleiman, the dwarf Blades Trueblood, and the gigantic half-man half-giant named Corwin MacBanan. Most of all, enjoy the story he tells, for it is truly an exceptional one.

Well, enough of my talk. Its time to follow Patrick in his journeys.

-Darren Herhold
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Author's note: I posted this earlier as a link to the log, but I don't think anyone read it, so I'll start posting the actual log here, divided into game sessions. Any corrections for spelling and grammar are greatly appreciated. This game took place in the original campaign setting of Ermoon. It starts out in Ailech, which is a country with Celtic/Irish culture. The writer of the log is Patrick Logopolis, a priest of Prometheus, who is from Ionia, a continent with Greek and Roman culture.

SESSION 1

May 7th, the year MC

Dearest Brethren,

Praise to the light-bringer! I trust that all is well at the temple. Hopefully my last missive reached you safely--the courier service was expensive, but had an excellent reputation for speed and reliability. My travels through Alcyone and Connaught have improved my Cimbrian somewhat, and I have decided to begin writing this log in that language. I hope that our linguists at the Academy find this interesting to translate.

I believe that Prometheus must truly be watching over me; recent events lead me to have great confidence in the success of my mission. After sending off my last bundle of notes from the town of Caer Dorben, I've traveled several days closer to Duma Faifni. The rumors I hear of the fair grow more wondrous as I get closer.

To give you some idea of what the fair must be like, consider my most recent adventure. Although it is a great pleasure to add to our faith's knowledge of the world, recording local foods and small cultural variations begins to get dull. Today, however, was a departure from the routine. It has been raining for a week now, and last night I stopped at a small town--although town may be too grand a word to describe it--called Mag Tara. I rented a room at the inn--although the leaky rooms offered little more protection from the weather than standing under a tree. Nonetheless, today's breakfast was hot and satisfying. In the common room, I met several other travelers who were also going to the fair. There were two dwarves, Blades Trueblood and Torin. I was surprised; I had heard that dwarves were gruff and rude. These two were quite civil. There was also an Elf, Taelsyn. He was a little less friendly--not rude, just quiet. He seems to enjoy placing little cylinders of paper in his mouth and setting them alight, breathing in the noxious fumes. De gustibus non est disputandum! I gather that the dwarves are warriors, and the elf is a, shall we say, "sleight of hand expert".

We all agreed that traveling together was safer and less dull than traveling alone, so we decided to set out for the fair together. We were just finishing our meal when a man, his fine clothes covered in mud, burst into the inn, and asked us for help. Of course, I volunteered to help. He told us that he was Ith, and offered us the very fair wage of 15 bp if we would help him capture some animals that had escaped when a carriage ran off the road. I was quite happy to help him for free, but the others insisted on haggling. He agreed to 22 bp each, and we set off after the first animal, a large frog (his "wee froggy").

I only have so much paper and ink, so I'll have to make my descriptions of events brief. The frog turned out to be a "blightening", a bipedal frog-like creature that emits bright flashes of light from its eyes. We chased after it with a rope, attempting to trip it. It temporarily blinded one of the dwarves and me, but we nonetheless succeeded in tying it up and placing it in a large sack. We were assisted by one of those mysterious nature worshippers, a druid named Finis Conwell, who seems to be both a late sleeper and a mumbler--he is sometimes difficult to understand. I was careful to make sure the blightening had no signs of ill treatment. Apparently the little beasts terrorize small towns, so I was not sad to see it locked up.

All of us except for Blades went after the second creature, a large "mauve" worm. It turned out to be a small purple worm--which means that it was more than six feet long, with a terrifying maw and a deadly sting. The worm had burrowed through several hills, leaving entry and exit holes, and we used these to track it. Finally, we came to a hill with no exit hole. Torin walked up to the top of it, which turned out to be a mistake, but good fortune was on his side. Just as he began to walk down, the purple worm burst through the ground, its maw tearing at the space Torin had just occupied. It then retreated back into the hill.

Through remarkable cooperation, we managed to trick the worm into burrowing up through a snare. We gently lay a rope with a circular snare (tied by Taelsyn) across the top of the hill, then threw stones into the middle of the snare. The worm seemed to sense the vibrations caused by movement, and it quickly attacked the stones, jumping straight up into the snare's loop. We tightened the snare around it, forced it out of the ground, and dragged it into its cage. We were shocked when the hill in which it had been hiding collapsed, revealing the ruins of some Klegoth Imperium structure. We decided to come back later to investigate.

Meanwhile, Blades had located the third animal, a giant turtle. I swear, never have I heard of such a huge reptile, save dragons! The merchant told us it took ten people to move! There were only five of us, but fortunately Taelsyn came up with the clever idea of luring it into its cage with some fruit and vegetables. It seemed to have a fondness for apples. The turtle had been hiding in the moat of a small fort (called a Kronog), designed to protect a herd of cattle. The keepers of the fort assisted us by providing a ramp, to get the turtle up into its cage. Apparently they were impressed, because their leader, Sedga Etair, offered to hire us to recover some stolen cattle. We told him we would think about it, and returned to the ruins.

An antechamber held a door made of metal and sturdy wood, bearing both the symbol of a broken thigh bone and an inscription. Horrible (and poorly drawn) frescoes of orcs covered the walls, and an old brazier stood beside the door. None of us can read Orcish, so we ignored the inscription and continued inside, using the brazier to push the door open. We entered what seemed to be a shrine or temple. This room was guarded by a magical statue with glowing red eyes, which caused the skeletons of eight long-dead orcs to rise up against us, and cursed anyone that entered the room with magical silence (making me unable to turn them). The sound of distant drumming and shouting could be heard as we fought against the undead, but it seemed like a memory of a battle long ended--doubtless another effect of the magical statue. To make matters worse, as soon as we cut the undead down, they rose up again! Taelsyn cleverly defeated the undead by pushing the statue forward onto its face, ending its magic spells.

From another room we heard the sound of insane murmurs and screams, and with great trepidation, we opened the door using the brazier. Inside was a glistening, two-legged creature, seemingly made of slime! It charged us and attacked savagely, but we managed to dispatch it. The dwarves seem to be fearless warriors! The room was empty and covered with slime, except for a two-foot tall copper statue depicting a very powerful orc. It has an inscription on it which, of course, we cannot read. We carry it hoping to sell it, but it makes me uncomfortable. The orc it is modeled after must have been terrible; it seems to glower at me. I will be happy when we are rid of it.

Prometheus answered my prayers several times in the ruins, and I trust that He will continue to protect me. I was careful to destroy the shrine of the hideous orc god on our way out of the ruins. We recovered several items of value, including two bloodstones, a moonstone, a necklace, rare coins, a clay jar, an iron flask filled with a metallic, earthy liquid, an elven bow, and a dwarven warhammer. Prometheus revealed that the flask and the warhammer were enchanted! We placed these items in a very sturdy chest (which required the strength of two men to open) we found in a robing room. A treasure map was hidden in a desk in an office, but it turned it out to be all but useless--there was no way to know where the places on the map were, and the place names had almost certainly changed since the map was made so long ago.

We retired to the inn in the afternoon for rest and dinner. I expect that we will return to the road again tomorrow, although I am not sure what the others will want to do. I think that I would prefer to get back on the road to Duma Faifni, but I will go along with what the others decide. Imagine what the fair must be like; this merchant was only one among thousands! I wonder what other strange creatures and sights will be there.
I have used much paper today. I will have to be more conservative in the future. Still, a day like this deserves extra attention, does it not?

Aside from the today's excitement, there is little to report on. Apple trees are common here, and there is a slightly different accent to the speech, but it is much like the other parts of this land, of which I have already told you. The people are hardy but good-natured. I feel comfortable, despite the weather. I hope the rest of the journey goes as well. It is an auspicious beginning to a new chapter in my journey!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Author's note: Here's session 2. A note first: Patrick's mother was a Cimbrian, and his father an Ionian, which explains 1) why he's traveling in this part of the world (his mother is from this area) and 2) why his first name is Patrick.

SESSION 2

May 8th
Today we took our leave of Mag Tara, and headed out under sunnier skies. We walked northwest along the muddy road, with the Leiban Forest on our right, and rolling hills on our left. There are many large boulders lying about, as if dropped randomly by some careless giant. I've been told that glaciers, huge sheets of moving ice, come through the area every few thousand years, carrying the large rocks with them. When they melt, the rocks are left behind. Fortunately, we could do all the sightseeing we wanted, as our day passed uneventfully.

That night, however, during my watch, I heard voices on the road. I awoke the others, and we hid behind the large boulder on which I had been keeping my watch. Taelsyn's keen ears told us that they were orcs, and that set Blades' blood boiling. He apparently has a special hatred for orcs. However, since we were all tired, and reluctant to fight the orcs at night (when they would have an advantage over those of us without superior night vision), Blades acquiesced, and we agreed to investigate in the daylight. It is now the end of my shift on the watch, so I am off to bed.

May 9th
This day started well, but ended in terrible violence. I thank Prometheus for seeing me through the danger! Finis the druid awoke us by singing a "song to the sun". The roads are improving somewhat, and although slowed by the dwarves' pace, I made some basic calculations and determined that we could, if we wished, catch up with the orcs before the sun set. We followed their tracks quite easily.
Around lunchtime we passed a pair of large statues. One was of a large winged reptile (I assume that it was a dragon), and the other of a warrior woman. There were no inscriptions or anything else to indicate why they were there. We ate lunch there, and went on our way.

This evening we had our most terrifying encounter yet. We continued to follow the orc tracks until they led into the woods. We deduced that, since there was little daylight left, we should investigate before they resumed their march. Taelsyn volunteered to sneak into the woods and have a look around. Apparently his sneaking was not as successful as he had hoped, because we soon heard an orc cry out in surprise. He was answered by the cries of the other orcs, and we realized that Taelsyn was probably in trouble. Finis and I rushed ahead, while the dwarves did their best to keep up. We found Taelsyn under attack by a single orc, with somewhere between five and seven more charging towards him (we eventually determined that there were six, but we all swore that we had counted eight before the fight--did some escape without our notice?).

Finis called to nature for assistance, and the very trees and grass shot up to entangle the orcs (and Taelsyn as well). Some evaded the branches, however, and a protracted battle ensued. Although I know that orcs are foul, evil beings, I still do not enjoy killing them. Blades and Torin, on the other hand, seem to revel in it; I must admit, they are very good at it. We overcame the orcs, although we suffered several injuries. We searched them, and found some money and a few small trinkets. Torin took one of their battle axes to replace his own, which was damaged when he accidentally hit Blades with it. After tending to our wounds, we lay down for the night. I am ending my watch now. Thank Prometheus for another day passed safely!

May 10th
What a wonderful day! We started off under slightly gray skies, but it did not rain. We had not seen any people since first spotting the orcs, but today we encountered some Ailechians tending their cattle herd. Finis and I asked them some questions about the area. They didn't seem to know much about the pair of statues, other than that one was a dragon, and one was named Brianna, although they weren't very clear about which one. They did tell us a little about local customs. They apparently value cattle above all else here, and use it as a money (both for exchange and as a measure of wealth). As the man said "If you don't want to make a man angry, don't mess with his cattle". They had heard of an increase in orc activity lately, but had not heard of the group we defeated. They seemed mostly interested in talking about cattle. I paid them for their trouble (with coin--not cattle!), and we took our leave.

This afternoon we heard shouting from the hills to the left of the road. It sounded like men, and one cry sounded like a man in pain. As quickly as we could, we charged forward to lend our assistance if it was necessary. We arrived in time to see a giant insect kill a man with a spray of vile acid, and another insect started to burrow out of the ground behind them! I shouted a warning to them. Finis and I ran to cover their rear, while Taelsyn started filling the insects with arrows, and the dwarves waddled towards the fight. Finis and I did little to hurt them, but when the dwarves got there, the insects did not last long. They carved them up easily, and although the local men had lost two of their number, they were ecstatic and very thankful.

Their leader, Erik, told us that they were the Ath Emain, and that the creatures we had been fighting were called Lomcor. The Lomcor prey on the cattle this time of year, and the men go out to kill as many as possible. They would have been in serious trouble had we not come along, so they made us their guests of honor at a feast. We retired to their fortified dwelling, and ate a splendid meal of roasted hog. The tales of our valor grew more and more exaggerated, but the dwarves did not seem to mind.

Several of us noted that there were no women present--not even serving or cooking the food! In fact, we had not seen women anywhere for many, many days. We asked the Ath Emain about this, and they told us that the women were in a separate dwelling not far away. I could not tell if they have strict segregation of the sexes, or if it was only for tonight's celebration. They seemed somewhat confused by our questions. We did not wish to offend them, so we did not inquire further. They did, however, volunteer the information that the town of Bennan was just two days journey up the road.
This happy evening passed far too quickly, and we lay down for what is sure to be a peaceful sleep.

May 11th
Today was the best kind of traveling day: uneventful. After restocking our provisions from the supplies of the Ath Emain, we resumed our journey. The terrain and weather remain unchanged. Our travel is slowed somewhat by Torin, who must stop frequently to empty his bladder. I'm ending my shift on the watch. I hope the rest of our journey to Duma Faifni is this dull.

May 11
Today's travel was again safe, although I feared a fight when a group of well-dressed men on horseback passed us by. They did not return our greetings, or even look at us. Is there any excuse for such rudeness? Their armor bears a symbol: an anvil and a sword.

We reached Bennan that night. Civilization, at last! Bennan is big enough to have a halfling district (called Binghamton), wealthy enough to have cobblestone streets, and important enough to have a castle! We took a brief tour, looking for an Inn. We noticed we were being followed, but soon discovered that the man following us sought our assistance. His name was Vlad Silverpool, and he had a letter that was written in Elvish. He wanted Taelsyn to translate. We went into a tavern (unarmed--they took our weapons at the door), and stood at a quiet section of the bar. Taelsyn translated the letter (and was careful not to set it alight with his "pipe-weed sticks"), which was apparently intercepted by Vladamir's men. It was a letter from an assassin to his employer, promising that the Baroness Emain (of Dun Coba) would not complete her journey successfully.


Vladamir was most distressed. He asked if we would help, and travel with him to warn the Baroness. I volunteered, of course, but the others would not help without some kind of recompense. After some brief haggling, Vladamir went to get horses and a wagon (he was quite irritated that the dwarves and I couldn't ride). While we were waiting for his return, some local ruffians picked a fight with the dwarves. It was a long, rough, pointless fight (one I eventually chose to avoid, through Prometheus' provision of a sanctuary), which the dwarves won.

We finally set out for Dun Coba, but we were soon stopped by a mighty Ogre and his orc companions! Vladamir pulled out a sword that burned with a magical fire, and we were very impressed. Then the Ogre quite handily threw him thirty feet through the air, and we weren't so impressed any more. The dwarves managed to take down the Ogre, and most of the orcs, with the rest of us pitching in as we could. We discovered that Taelsyn is not just a "scout"; he is also a magician. He cast a spell that allowed him to jump far away from the battle and fire his arrows from safety. I was grievously injured by an orc, but Prometheus quickly and completely healed my wounds--All Praise!

After defeating these terrible creatures, we have stopped to recover our wits and tend our wounds. We will set out again soon, and because it is nearly midnight, this is all I will write for today. We are fortunate to be alive.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
That is it for now! I will continue posting in small batches. There is a total of 28 sessions so it's not an enormous read. Cheers,
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Author's note: You may have noticed that there's a typo on the dates; specifically, there are two May 11th's. So every date needs to be advanced by one. I'll try to fix that later.

May 12

After traveling a short distance down the road, we realized that, in our weariness, we had forgotten to search the ogre and orcs. We decided to split up, with Finis and Taelsyn (who both travel much faster on horseback than we do in our wagon) going back to fetch whatever junk the orcs happened to be carrying, and Vladamir scouting ahead to warn us of danger. Vlad has a map, a copy of which I enclose. We decided not to follow the road to Dun Coba, instead cutting straight north from Bennan, crossing the road once, in order to shorten the journey. Splitting up was a good idea, or at least, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Finis and Taelsyn retrieved some items with no trouble, and Vlad encountered nothing unusual. Torin, Blades, and I were not so lucky. As we were riding along, Blades noticed something burrowing towards us. Torin tried to spur the horses on, but instead crashed the cart off the road. Before we could react, a Lomcor burst out of the ground. Having no choice, we fought a terrible fight against the creature. Although we won, Torin was grievously wounded. I did what I could, but we had to use up the goo from the clay jar (which turned out to have impressive healing properties).

Taelsyn and Finis caught up with us, bringing a few tokens. One item interested me: they had a thick sheet of copper, with a spell inscribed on it! Why anyone would choose such an inconvenient substance, I can't imagine. Enchanted scroll paper is durable enough! I determined that it was a spell to ward off evil--not from one person, but from a 10 foot radius! The creator of the scroll must have been powerful indeed. I kept it, hoping I would not have to use it.

By lunch time, we had come to the road again, after crossing the rolling hills so common in this region. After a quick meal, we were soon on our way again, and we made excellent time. We stopped for the night after some peaceful riding, and I carefully copied Vlad's map. I just noticed that I have taken to calling Vladamir "Vlad". I suppose we are all getting used to having him around, although he doesn't seem very interested in making conversation.

May 13

This morning I examined a vial that Taelsyn and Finis found on the orcs yesterday. It has a crack in it, and the slightly blue liquid, which smells of both alcohol and mint, is slowly leaking. I cleaned out the jar that had held the healing goo, and transferred the liquid to the jar. I have no idea what it does. Sometimes Prometheus withholds knowledge from us, because we may learn much about one thing, while trying to pursue knowledge of another. After all, I came here hoping to learn about the culture and customs of this land, but I have had the unexpected boon of learning about the ways of dwarves and elves as well. Is it not amazing how Prometheus leads us to knowledge, and we do not notice?

After traveling a short distance, Vlad came running back, entreating us to be quiet. He said that he had spotted a group of at least forty orcs in the woods! We very carefully and quietly sneaked by them (Blades did not grumble so much this time).

When we came upon the road again, we soon started seeing people, of increasing frequency and variety. At first there were just shepherds, but soon we saw merchants and farmers. The merchants were of every imaginable race. I wonder if this town of Dun Coba is always this busy, or if the crowds are just stopping by on their way to the fair at Duma Faifni.

Much to our distress, Vlad determined that the Baroness Emain had already departed for Duma Faifni. Vlad suggested that we get fresh, faster horses and get underway quickly. We agreed, and found a place to meet later (Vlad hurried off to trade in our old horses and purchase new ones). After some discussion, we decided that, because horses are so outrageously expensive here, we should be prepared to help Vlad pay for horses; he could always pay us back when we had warned the Baroness (assuming some kind of reward would be forthcoming).

Unfortunately, our funds were not very liquid, being contained in various valuable items and little actual coin. So we set out to find a jeweler, as well as collect the bounty for the orcs we had killed.

We found a dwarf (who worked for a Cymbrian named Ossam) that seemed very interested in the orcish artifacts. We sold him that horrid statue, as well as 35 silver Klegoth coins, and a few other less interesting items we had picked up along the way. He asked us to bring any similar items we find directly to him. We agreed, and asked him for the name of a reputable jeweler or gemologist. He recommended one, and we had soon sold our gems, as well as collected the bounty for the orcs. We had so much money that we had to convert our bronze into gold! I hope that there is enough in my share to send another missive back to you.

Back at our rendezvous point, we found that Vlad had purchased several fine horses. We set out on the road, with Dun Coba at our backs, as quickly as possible. I am becoming used to the constant stopping and starting that "adventuring" seems to require. Indeed, I've noticed that we have all been sharpening our skills since we started traveling together. My frail body can now channel more of Prometheus' light than when I set out; I hope that I am worthy of his gifts!

All along the road were inns and taverns. After passing what we guessed to be the last one before the land became wild again, we stopped to camp. Taelsyn and Torin (what an odd pair!) walked back down the road a short distance to have a look at the last tavern we passed. They later told us that it had been filled with dwarves. I think it did Torin good to be with many of his own kind for a while. It will do me good to get some rest, so I now end today's writings.

May 14th

You may find it difficult to believe the events of which I am about to tell you, but I swear to you that I do not lie. I can scarcely believe it myself. As you can tell from my handwriting, my hands are still shaking.

This morning was no different from any other so far. We traveled without incident until the afternoon, when Vlad came back to tell us that he had learned of the location of the Baroness. She had stopped for the night at the keep of the Linden Tuatha, a local clan. The Linden tree is the symbol of the clan, but the clan has become weak as the Linden trees were slowly cut down or died off. Of course, we got there as quickly as we could. It started raining again, and it was night when we arrived at the gates of the small castle. We told Vlad to do the talking, since this was his idea. He seemed a little uncomfortable with that, but shouted for a guard anyway. He attempted to explain our situation, but seemed to be confusing the guard, so Taelsyn and I took over. The guard was concerned, and called for someone else. Soon a very portly man (apparently a priest of Dagda) waddled up and told us that everything was under control, and that the Baroness was in no danger. We pointed out to him that he had posted only two guards on the castle walls. He scoffed at us, and took his leave.

Not sure what to do, we walked down the hill away from the castle. After some discussion, we decided that it would be wise for Taelsyn and Vlad (being our most stealthy party members) to sneak into the fortress and look around. I felt a little guilty about trespassing on their property, but a life was at stake! They scaled the castle wall with little difficulty. Some time later, they came back and said that the place was virtually unguarded. They had hung rope down the castle wall, and we all climbed up the wall, turned the rope to the other side, and climbed down into the courtyard, behind the stables. Again we sent Taelsyn and Vlad to scout ahead. They sneaked through a back door, into the center keep (there was both an outer keep and a smaller, inner keep). Again they came back, saying that there were no guards until the second floor. We guessed that they had probably at least taken the minor precaution of housing the baroness on the second floor or in a tower, and so we walked up the stairs. The only guard that Taelsyn had seen had left his post to move farther down the hallway. Unsure whether to charge him or use stealth, I suggested that I cloak Taelsyn in False Knowledge--a sanctuary spell. It would give us a little more time to look around before being forced to fight our way in. Prometheus must have been watching over me closely tonight, for the spell worked perfectly. Taelsyn walked right past the guard, who even stepped aside to give him more room to pass!

We then heard the sound of a door opening, followed by Taelsyn wheezing "Gas!", and the sound of something hitting the floor. Deciding that Taelsyn was the something, Finis and I charged down the corridor, either to his rescue or our doom. Strangely, the dwarves were much more cautious, and only followed us after pondering other options for a moment.

I realize that I am going into more detail about events than I normally do, but I think that you will understand why I am so verbose when I finish my story. Bear with me!

The guard thought he was ready for me, but much to his surprise (and my own, I must admit), I struck him with my flail with such force that he staggered to the side, unable to react at all. I ran by him, hoping that Finis would deal with him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an open door to the right, with only Taelsyn's feet visible in the doorway (he was obviously lying in the doorway where he fell). I could not attend to him, however, because I was confronted with another guard. I held him off long enough for Vlad and the dwarves to catch up. The dwarves quickly dispatched the guard I had struck, and turned to deal with the second. I turned to the doorway, and saw inside a terrible creature. It looked like a nobleman, but with very pale skin. He leaned over a woman, whom I took to be the Baroness. Her arm he held over the edge of the bed, draining blood from it into a bottle. I realized immediately that this must be an undead--probably a vampire! Horresco referens! I raised my ring, and ordered the fiend to begone, but he only laughed at me. I am afraid that I am too weak a vessel to channel more than the smallest amount of Prometheus' power.

Vlad and Finis stood in the doorway with me. Vlad raised his flaming sword, and opened his right hand, in which he held a brightly glowing stone--a rock with continual light cast upon it. Finis took a deep breath, and charged bravely into the room, running straight for the Baroness. I followed him in. The vampire recoiled from the light for a moment, and Finis took the opportunity to sweep the Baroness into his arms. I cast a healing spell upon her, and we turned for the door. I could hear the sounds of combat continuing outside. The Vampire had turned again towards the doorway, and was fixing his stare upon Vlad--but he was not just looking at Vlad. It was something more. I hoped it was not a curse or charm of some kind. I have heard that vampires have such powers.

Realizing that we could do nothing to hurt such a creature, Finis used some of his precious breath (there was still gas in the air!) to say "protection from evil". For a moment I prepared to cast the spell upon the Baroness, hoping to at least keep the Vampire off of her, even if it killed the rest of us. Then I remembered--that ridiculous copper scroll! I grabbed it from my pack as quickly as possible, ripping the leather a little. Reading from the scroll was very easy, and fast. As I read the scroll, I felt the familiar sensation of magic flowing, but I could swear that I felt Prometheus' power adding to it. Perhaps it was just me, but I think he was actively helping us. In any case, the spell worked, and I immediately felt some relief from the oppressive evil that emanated from the vampire. The vampire cursed something I couldn't understand, then laughed. Torin charged in to guard our escape. We made it safely to the doorway, and then turned to help Blades, who was still fighting the second guard.

After subduing the guard, and tending to our wounded, we turned again to the vampire--only to find that he had disappeared. The poison gas had mostly dissipated. There were three servants lying on the ground around the bed, and we checked their condition. Fortunately, they had only been overcome by the gas, and not injured. The effect of the gas seemed to be temporary, and we managed to stir Taelsyn. He immediately noticed a passageway in the wall, with a skeleton wedged in it. Apparently the vampire had turned into a mist and floated into the room via this secret tunnel.

I will now return to being brief, as I have finished with the exciting part of the story. The sub-chief of the keep burst in, and we told him what happened. He was not happy, and had the whole keep up in arms in a moment. The priests of Dagda were awakened, and they came to tend the wounded. We were thanked several times, and the sub-chief seemed so impressed with our story that he wanted to hear it over and over again. The Baroness is now sleeping soundly, and it is unlikely that she will wake until tomorrow.

Taelsyn searched the skeleton in the crawl space, and found from a journal that it was a thief who had taken some coins from somewhere in the keep. He also had a magic rod, which projected various lighting effects. The coins (gold coins) were apparently poisoned, and Taelsyn was affected by them as well. A priest quickly neutralized the poison, however.

Speaking of priests, Barnrick, the fat priest that ignored our warning, is surely in for a serious dressing down when the chief of the castle returns. Why am I not surprised that the priests of other gods are more interested in food and personal comfort than in the well-being of other sentient creatures? Prometheus has set an example of how to care for our fellow beings; it is frustrating to see others so unaware of His sacrifice. While the portly priest snored in his bed, we narrowly averted a great disaster. How much easier would it have been if he had only listened to us! Perhaps Prometheus withholds knowledge from him for a reason.

We are staying in the castle tonight as honored guests. We will finally get some well-deserved rest, before resuming our journey. One thing puzzles me: In the journal of the skeletal thief was a riddle of some sort, suggesting that when the sun is right, the way to the treasure will be revealed on the Linden tree. We are not sure what this means. One of the rooms in this castle has a magnificent bronze and wood door, depicting a mighty Linden tree. I suggested that at a certain time of day, the sun may shine upon the door in such a way to reveal a secret passage. According to the sub chief, there was a treasure lost in the castle somewhere centuries ago (the "Linden treasure"). Perhaps we will investigate this tomorrow.

Now, I must rest. For once, I will not have to ask Prometheus for help or knowledge; I know that I will sleep very well tonight.
 
Thanks for posting all this! I don't think anyone will have any questions, but I will check in from time to time to make sure. It's been a long time since I wrote all this, and my memory is foggy about the details now. I'm working on a new actual-play D&D podcast at the moment. I'll post something about it when I have more details.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
author's note, in reply to a comment in 2001: I'm glad you like the story. I can say with certainty that this is the best game in which I have ever participated.
Here is the next session:


SESSION 4

May 15th
It has been a busy (and troubling) day! We woke early and began to explore the castle, both out of curiosity, and because we hoped to find the secret entrance that would lead us to the treasure. The sub-chief has told us that if we recover the treasure, his people will again prosper. After examining it carefully, we determined that the door with the Linden tree on it was not the entrance. Blades and Torin found a secret passage from the kitchen to the throne room, but that didn't help much.

We met the Baroness in the afternoon. She thanked us for rescuing her, and rewarded us with twenty gold coins each! Surely I now have enough money to send a message from Duma Faifni. I must admit that I feel slightly overpaid. We were really just lucky (or we had some divine help--in either case, we really did not do very much). I suggested that we accompany the Baroness to Duma Faifni; everyone agreed, except Vlad. Vlad said that he must return to Dun Coba to rejoin his adventuring group, the "Lords of Telgar". He set out that afternoon.

After searching the castle some more, we found a stained glass window on a wall, looking onto a statue of a woman pouring water into a fountain. The window portrayed a Linden tree and the sun shining down on it. Unfortunately, the window had been bricked over on the outside, so that no sunlight could come in. After some searching and a few calculations, I decided to cast light on the bricks behind the glass. We immediately noticed that the shadow of the tree fell on the statue, and the words "press my eyes" became immediately visible on it. We pressed the eyes of the statue, and a stone panel in the floor slid open, revealing a spiral stair. After notifying the sub-chief, who provided us with a quick meal and wished us well, we lighted torches, and carefully descended.

I will spare you all the details of our underground adventure and begin summarizing. At the bottom was a room whose walls were hung with ancient tapestries depicting the history of the Linden Tuatha. We solved a riddle on one, which led us to a button. A secret passage opened when we pressed it, but we found that the stairway was now blocked behind us. There was also a door in the tapestry room with a sign that said "This way to the treasure". Of course, we ignored that door.

Pressing on, we went down the secret passage into a room lit by two glowing globes and filled with plants of all kinds. Several inches of water sat covered the floor. Here we were attacked by a vile Yellow Musk Creeper--a giant plant with aggressive, poisonous flowers--and its bullywug zombies. After fending off the plant for a while, Blades, Torin, and myself all fell under the plant's enchantment. Unfortunately, the plant had Blades in its clutches for several minutes before Finis and Taelsyn managed to finish off the zombies and rescue us. Blades has obviously suffered a serious head injury from the vines that burrowed into his skull; we have to speak quite slowly to make him understand simple concepts. Hopefully we can find some means to restore his mental faculties. For now, he seems as effective at combat as ever.

After recovering from the battle, we found a room filled with bird cages and, of all things, a fully stocked bar. A door in that room opened onto three Needlemen (creatures used by druids to guard important things--I wish we had known that at the time). We defeated the gaunt humanoids and found a druidic staff of some kind, which Finis took.

We passed through the plant room again, and entered a passage on the other side. It was lined with statues, whose faces had been, well, defaced. As we reached the end of the passage we saw ahead a large room. The entrance was blocked by two large bipedal toads, and more than a dozen bullywugs. They jumped up and down and croaked a lot, but didn't seem openly hostile. I wanted to try a way to get by them peacefully, but couldn't think of one. We thought about getting the dead flowers of the Yellow Musk Creeper, and using them to frighten off the amphibians. They jumped up and down a lot when we brought them up, but didn't seem like they were about to leave. I should have protested more, or come up with a better idea, because we then proceeded to slaughter them. Taelsyn shot an arrow at them, and they jumped down the corridor at us, dying as Torin and Blades cut them down. After killing at least a dozen of them, the remaining bullywugs ran. I admit, I was caught up in the excitement of battle, and I am ashamed at having resorted to violence after such a feeble attempt at a non-violent solution. After all, they were just defending what they had, probably for centuries, considered their home. I hope that I can atone for my error. I worry that traveling with this group is tempting me to give in to simple, darker solutions to problems.

We entered the room, and saw a large crack in the wall, into which the bullywugs had escaped. A large, empty Lomcor carapace lay on the floor; apparently it had dug the passageway and died down here. There was one door in the room, and we solved the riddle on it, pronouncing the word "tree".

The door opened onto an incredible horde of treasure. We looked it over, and some of us took things. This upset me somewhat; after all, none of this was ours. If we were to have a reward, it would be given by the laird, not ourselves. I said something to this effect, suggesting that we should leave it here, or at least give it back as soon as we got out of here. Their reaction shocked me; several of them said that if we never told the laird what we found, he would never miss the things we took. They were suggesting that we steal! Deeply offended, I said "You will have to kill me to keep me from telling the sub-chief what we have found, and what you have taken." I was even more shocked when they looked at each other thoughtfully, as if they were actually considering how much trouble it would be to kill me! I could not believe it. Do they see me as nothing more than a dispenser of healing magic? Have they no sense of right or wrong? This deeply troubles me; I cannot continue traveling with a group that sees me as a tool to be cast aside when it becomes too inconvenient to deal with. Blades, however, cannot be held responsible for his actions, considering his current condition. I will have to think and pray further on this subject.

We returned to the tapestry room, and tried pressing the button again. Fortunately, the secret passage closed and the stairway was again passable. The sub-chief and his men came charging down the stairs, thinking that we might need rescuing. He was elated to see us, and we told him of the treasure. I told him of the items that had been taken. He said that we would arrange our reward later. The doorway labeled "this way to the treasure" turned out to lead to a chest of poisoned, gold-plated (basically worthless) coins and a skeleton.

The sub-chief insisted that we stay until the laird of the keep returns in four days. We agreed, although I regret being unable to accompany the Baroness to Duma Faifni. Finis gave what is, in my opinion, the most important part of the treasure to the sub-chief: a bag full of Linden tree seeds. This small tribe will surely return to greatness now.

Our wounds were tended, and we returned to our room for rest. I could not sleep, and have spent much of the night traveling the grounds in thought and prayer. I will now try to get at least a little sleep. I have much thinking to do tomorrow.

May 16th and 17th
I have spent the past two days alone in quiet reflection. I am still unsure of what to do. I do not think the others have noticed my absence yet. I wish that I had another follower of the flame to speak with. Nothing of note has happened.

May 18th
I have come to the following conclusion: Tomorrow, I will pack my things, prepare to leave, sanctify a small room of the castle, and spend the day in prayer. By the end of the day, I will try to determine the will of Prometheus with an augury spell. I intend to ask "will I do well if I leave this group to travel alone to Duma Faifni?" The vague wording required by the spell means that a "Yes" answer could mean many things--it could mean that I will succeed in getting to Duma Faifni, or that I will make a lot of money along the way. Unfortunately, neither of those necessarily implies that I am pleasing Prometheus. On the other hand, a "No" answer suggests to me a clearer answer: stick with this group. Ultimately, the spell cannot decide for me; the decision is mine alone. Prometheus grant me the wisdom to make the correct decision.

May 19th
Laird Dolfdin arrived today, with his escort and a powerful wizard. The wizard identified our various magical items for us. Then, much to the pleasure of the others in our group, Laird Dolfdin offered us each a magical item from the treasure. He let Finis keep the druid staff, as Dolfdin would have no use for it (the druids are almost completely gone from these parts) and have another pick of the treasure as well. He also allowed Taelsyn to keep a spellbook that I found in a pool of water by the treasure room, as well as have another choice. I chose a candle that increases the amount of divine power that I can channel. I may use it later today when I cast the augury spell (it is only large enough to burn for about two hours, so I may want to conserve it for emergencies).

However, in order to have our pick of the items, we agreed to carry a chest of the treasure to the keep (apparently the Linden Tuatha had been guarding this other tribe's treasure for them) of Kraty's Freehold. If I decide to leave the group, I will simply return the candle to Dolfdin and be on my way.

I return now to my prayers. I will write more later today, after I have made my decision.

It is now evening. I received no response to the augury. I considered leaving, but when we all realized that Vlad hadn't returned to say goodbye (he left days ago to sell the horses, saying he would immediately return), I decided that I should at least try to find out what happened to him. And if I'm going to go that far, I may as well stay with the group--for now.

We left the keep in the early evening, going into the small town nearby. We've found out that Vlad was here, with someone. We'll look into it more in the morning. Tonight, we stay in an inn.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 5

May 20th
After visiting a horse merchant, we found that Vlad had sold the horses and departed with someone named Maril, apparently willingly. We guessed that something must have come up, and trusted Vlad's judgement and ability to take care of himself. A sturdy dwarven pony caught our eyes; in need of a pack animal, we purchased it.

Setting out for Kraty's Freehold, we began a day of uneventful travel. By afternoon we had reached the town of O'Mara, arranged around a large stone church of O'Mara. Apparently, they were having some kind of spring festival--a sort of warm-up for the fair at Duma Faifni, perhaps. There was dancing and joyous singing; a smile was on every face. Merchants and people of all kinds were there, and I was surprised when one spoke to me in fairly good Ionian! Apparently, Ionian merchants, like my father, are not uncommon here. We chatted for a while. The festivities seemed to be centered on something happening in the church, but I did not enter because entrance required paying a fee--and I did not want to have our church's money supporting other misguided religions.
We went on our way, leaving town. By dusk we came upon a roadside Inn. The room rates were outrageous, so we sleep outside tonight.

May 21st
Our morning travels were uneventful, except for an encounter with some cheerful merchants, who sold Finis some boots. My sandals are dirty and worn, but I do not think I could easily become accustomed to boots. The sandals will do.

In the afternoon we passed some very heavily armored men on horseback. Their hearty (and polite) greeting warmed my heart--I recalled the snobbish behavior displayed many days ago by the other riders we met on the road. It is good to meet friendly folk.

At dusk we camped by a large statue, very similar to the one we encountered when we first began our traveling together. This one depicted the same woman and dragon, but the woman rode on the dragon's back. Together they fought a giant and a three headed reptile. Torin decided that the statues were the work of dwarves, and were probably enchanted (the dragon's wings seemed impossibly huge; normal stone would have cracked and fallen apart long ago under the stress). Many other groups have camped here, judging by the garbage and other signs they left. I anticipate a restful sleep.

May 22nd
The wind picked up today, blowing from the west. When the road split, we took the western path. The landscape has become more desolate; trees are sparse. The land is hilly, with the same kinds of boulders strewn about, but otherwise incredibly featureless. We have seen no one all day long. Even animals are seen less frequently. We have stopped by the long, winding road to camp. I now wake up Finis for his watch.

May 23rd
The land is depressing in its bleakness. The day was totally uneventful. We are running out of travelling stories to tell each other, and the silences sometimes become awkward. We are nonetheless making good time, although Torin's small bladder continues to slow our pace. He reminds me of an animal marking its territory.
In the evening we stopped by a stream to camp. A most curious encounter then occured; a smaller-than-average dwarf was passing near our camp, carrying a huge block of stone on his back. It easily weighed a ton, possibly even two. We offered to let him camp with us, but he declined; he simply wanted a drink. Taelsyn grudgingly offered him some of the fine liquor he had discovered beneath the Linden Tuatha keep. The dwarf gruffly said his thanks (crushing my drinking cup before handing it back to me), and went on his way. What an odd fellow.

May 24th
The only event of note today was the crossing of a rickety bridge. We all made it across without incident, although I was quite worried that the weight of the pony would cause it to collapse. We did not make a fire tonight, for fear of attracting whatever creature might see the light. We would certainly be the only source of light for miles around.

May 25th
Days like today make me wonder why I ever left the temple.

Today the winds stopped blowing from the West and started blowing from the North. As the morning went on, the wind became stronger and stronger until, by lunch-time, it was strong enough to slow our forward motion. Twigs and small stones blowing in the wind batter us as we march persistently forward. Oddly, most of them seem to strike Torin.

In the early afternoon, we were attacked by a most unusual creature. It had the head of man, but a lion's body, bat wings, and a long tail with spikes on the tip. It roared at us, then jumped into the air, taking advantage of the gale-force winds, and almost instantly it was in our midst. It was a terrible fight, but the Dwarves gave it quite a beating. I tried out one of the spells I only recently acquired the ability to cast--a flame blade. It is quite effective.

The wind had died down somewhat by the time we made camp. While setting up the camp, a loud roaring noise echoed through the area, filling Taelsyn, Finis, and myself with a supernatural fear. I do not remember exactly what happened, but I have managed to piece together the night's events from the stories of the others. Taelsyn, Finis, and I ran off from the camp, Finis and I in one direction, and Taelsyn in another. The dwarves and the pony were left behind. When the fear wore off, Finis and I found our way back with the aid of a light spell. We returned to the camp to find the dwarves and the pony gone. I started a fire to aid Taelsyn's return to camp, while Finis tried to follow the tracks of the dwarves with the light spell. I soon heard him call for me, and we found Torin and Blades chasing some orcs. The orcs had shot several arrows into Torin, but the dwarves had exacted some revenge. Blades went down, but Torin and Finis managed to finish them off before I even got there.

I returned to the camp, and checked up on the pony. While stoking the fire, I was surprised by a voice behind me. It sounded like Taelsyn, but at the same time, it was different. I turned around, and it was indeed Taelsyn, but something was wrong. He did not know me; he had never even heard of Ionia. I quickly surmised that Taelsyn was possessed by a ghost, albeit a polite one. He said that he was Palimor Raven of the Fitzgerald Tuatha. I explained who we were, and where we were going. He was extremely upset when I told him that we had a druid in the party. He said that he was killed by a druid over 200 years ago, in this area. I tried to tell him that Finis was not so bad, although he remained skeptical. He does seem to trust me. In any case, we have again altered our path. I am glad that Palimor explained his situation to me before the rest of the group returned; I think the others would not have acted so peaceably towards him. They seemed to be willing to follow my advice.

In any case, we have again altered our path. Palimor says that his love, Esmerelda, awaits him in the keep of the Fitzgerald Tuatha, which is called Morningstar. He did not seem concerned that over 200 years had passed since he had last seen her. We are now headed northeast, I think. It is becoming difficult to keep track of where we are on Vlad's map.

It is very late now, and we must rest for the night, no matter how much Palimor wants to press on. I think he has a good heart, but, by the heavenly flame, he is stubborn!

May 26th
This uneventful day was spent in conversation with Palimor. Poor Finis hangs toward the back of the party, to stay out of Palimor's way. I'm acting as something of a messenger between the two. Finis tells me what he wants to know, and I try to work his questions into conversation with Palimor.

I've found out a great deal about the history of Ailech. It is sometimes difficult to understand Palimor because of the archaic form of Cimbrian he uses, but I have found that he was an elven soldier in the employ of what eventually became Midhe. At the time it was merely the nothern part of Great Kingdom. Palimor battled the forces of Maleconia in the late 600's and early 700's, along with other elves, humans, and Wolfen. However, the Letgur Empire attacked the Maleconian Empire in 735. The emperor of the Maleconian Empire, Ivantosk the Boldhammer, sued for peace. Maleconia gave up is claim to the areas now called Jyvaskyla, Hibernia, and Verdheim. Palimor believes that these conflicts, and the division of territories, helped bring about the end of the Great Kingdom.

That is enough history for today. It is difficult to converse with Palimor; he is very distracted. Reaching Morningstar is the only thing he thinks about clearly.

May 27th
The amazing pace that we are keeping is taking a toll on all of us, except Palimor. We have traveled straight and quickly. We came upon a wide stream in the afternoon. While attempting to find a way across, Torin was attacked by a gigantic frog. Torin killed it, but not before it managed to get the tip of its sticky tongue stuck to Torin's chest. We barely managed to keep him from floating off downstream with the frog carcass. Eventually, we bridged the stream by laying fallen trees across it.

While encamped, we spotted a giant walking through the trees in the distance. He didn't see us, and we weren't about to point ourselves out to him (despite Blade's protests).

I managed to get more information from Palimor today. Apparently, the peace agreement caused even more problems. After the orcish Klegoth Imperium was destroyed, there was no one left to fight (fighting the Eternal Kingdom of the Elves of Valestri would be folly). The people of the Great Kingdom were trying to absorb the new land and people. This caused conflict between tuathas. Their obsession with tribal honor, the tendency toward violence that the wars had bred into them, turned disagreements over land rights into small wars. Only the Druids of Condatis and some other priesthoods stayed out of the fighting.

Palimor is intimately familiar with all of these conflicts, and he must have recounted every last one of them. My head is swimming with names and places, victors and winners, gains and losses. It is a sad tale.

May 28th
More dull, straight, featureless, tiring travel. Only Palimor's tales lighten the boredom.

Despite the petty conflicts between the tuathas, the Great Kingdom might have survived, if it were not for the cataclysmic events of 786.

Myshara was a beautiful half-elven queen, and wife of the noble Uth-Dragus MacCuil. She betrayed his trust and slept with his younger brother, Lorthwren the Brave. I do not understand why people do such cruel things to each other! Their affair was aided by Prince Trell'dem, a young lord and advisor of Uth-Dragus.

A knight, Opcord Magnus, revealed the affair to the King. In a rage, he sought out his brother, who dallied with his wife in the Forests of Alba. Uth-Dragus found and fought his brother, and would have killed him, if not for the intervention of a druid. The druid saved both Lorthwren and Myshara. Returning his castle, Uth Dragus demanded the death of his brother, but for reasons unknown, the council of Condatis refused to cooperate. Uth-Dragus sent a group of elite guards to retrieve his wife and brother, and they were killed, apparently by the druids. Palimor, however, seems to think someone else may have been responsible, but he will not elaborate.

May 29th
About an hour after waking up and continuing our journey this morning, a faint droning noise began. Finis went ahead to check it out. He reported that it was a seven foot tall green humanoid, with holes in it (through which the wind was whistling) and sunlight glinting off the dew on its surface. We gave it a wide berth, avoiding it altogether.

We crossed a major road this afternoon. I suspect that we are somewhere between Findabair and Tea Mur (which tells us little). If we become totally lost, we can at least head due south until we hit a road, then follow the road to a city.

May 30th
The sky became overcast today, but no rain fell. The weather seems uncertain whether to enter the warmth of spring, or remain in the wet cool of winter; it has chosen to remain a cautiously moderate temperature. This is excellent traveling weather. Unfortunately, I find little comfort in the weather.

Palimor continued his story today. It seems that the King sent his army into the forests, under the leadership of Trell'dem. Apparently, the King had not learned of Trell'dem's duplicity. A bloody battle in the forest broke out. All of this blood was spilt over one woman's infidelity! The King soon received word that Myshara had been killed in the fighting, and Lorthwren, who had formerly sought to appease his brother, swore eternal hatred for him. With no hope of negotiating a peaceful solution, each side began collecting allies. By the end of the year, almost all the tuathas had either sided with Uth-Dragus or Lorthwren. The War of Dissolution had begun.

May 31st
Torin spotted some orcs today while scouting ahead. He gave chase, but they filled him with arrows and then ran away (easily outpacing the dwarves). I was hoping that our avoidance of many creatures had taught them that discretion is the better part of valor; apparently, dwarves must have that lesson literally beaten into their head (or at least, these dwarves must).

The sad end of Palimor's story came today. With the war begun, and all the tuathas on one side or the other, Midhe became the domain of Lorthwren. With the backing of the druids, he fought to defend Midhe, and both sides suffered horrendous losses. Connaught was allied with the King; they had many powerful artifacts and "animas" that wreaked havoc on Midhe and Ailech. Trell'dem, with the support of priests, the Wild Dwarves, and the nation of Midhe, broke away from Connaught in 794. Connaught, led by Uth-Dragus, could not spare the forces necessary to reclaim the rebelling province.

The war continued, and whole tuathas were wiped out. The newly acquired lands were left to fend for themselves, and chaos seemed certain to spread throughout the entire region. Palimor says that he was killed in 795, as he traveled to Ailech to lead his people to a safer place. He had left the forces of Midhe for this purpose, as it was feared that many groups, from priests to Wolfen, were trying to take control of Ailech to form their own state. Palimor's own unit was ordered to the border of Ailech; the only possible reason for this was an attack on Ailech. Not wishing to attack an ally and possibly his kin, Palimor and many others left the Midhe army. They had been moving south through the desolation known as Izmalkor, when a Cimbrian with a dark beard and mustache rode a flaming chariot down at him. He hurled flame at the elves, striking Palimor down. It was May 5th. Palimor has haunted these hills ever since.

I asked him several questions about the druids, and their possible motives for attacking elves. He said that Druids were powerful before all the conflict started, but became even more so when Midhe formed. Prior to the War of Dissolution, the Druids had split the power with the King and lairds, acting as advisors, but not ruling the people. In Midhe, the druids held almost complete political power, although they claimed to act in the name of King Lorthwren.

One faction of Druids, the Hal Seinn, discouraged cooperation between druids and other races--especially elves, wolfen, and halflings. It is conceivable that these druids saw those races as a threat to their political power, as they know much of the lore of the druids. I wondered whether the druids might be trying to promote the balance by striking down good creatures. Palimor suggested that there was plenty of evil about, as is always the case during war--which is itself an act of evil. He has an excellent point; killing good elves would certainly not help to restore the balance.

Out of curiosity, I asked Palimor how well the various races got along in his day. He seemed confused by the question. Eventually, he said that the races got along well enough, although they tended to live in their own neighborhoods. They worked and lived together. His own tuatha was small, but friendly with several human villages. Some humans and half-elves even lived in Morningstar.

I hope that the tale of our adventure in this wilderness has a happier ending than Palimor's.

June 1st
As I write this, I wonder if this will be the last thing I ever write. I plan to ask the others to get these pages to you, if I should fall.

It is the first day of the festival at Duma Faifni, and I am stuck out here, in the middle of nowhere. It seemed that we would never get anywhere, when suddenly, just before lunch time, the tip of a white tower became visible above some hills. We crested the hills, to see a both inspiring and terrible sight. The valley was incredibly beautiful; a stream ran through it, healthy trees grew green and tall, and the white tower stood majestically upon a hill in the middle of it all.

But a second look brought a sense of crushing defeat. The tower was in shambles. Trees grew up around it, some of them with branches punched straight through the walls of the tower (and I do mean punched--the trees were obviously made to attack the tower somehow). The remains of an elven village, or some other kind of complex, lay in ruins around the tower. A single, lonely wind chime sounded its sombre tone. Palimor was crushed, but I tried to comfort him, and encourage him to find out what happened. He became determined to solve this mystery.

While investigating the ruins, I asked Finis if druidic magic was responsible for the trees' attack on the tower. Finis said he had no doubt of it. I relayed this information to Palimor, asking him not to overreact. He didn't seem to hear the last part; he immediately turned on Finis. I thought he was sure to attack the druid, but I asserted myself (much to my own surprise) and said "I told you not to overreact!" He actually listened to me, and apologized to Finis! I am glad no other opportunities for conflict came up; I doubt that I could restrain him a second time.

In one of the ruined buildings we were attacked by the undead remains of two humanoids. Hoping that my improved abilities would allow me to channel enough power to order them away, I tried to turn them. I failed. I am beginning to see the pattern of surprise success and failure as possibly a sign of Prometheus' wisdom. He surprises me with successes to let me know that I am capable of doing well. He surprises me with failures to keep me humble.

Fortunately, Blades and Torin dispatched the undead with ease. Unfortunately, they got right back up again. A supernatural fear--a terror of seeing the invincible dead--struck many of us, including myself, and we ran away. When we came to our senses, we returned to the area near the undead. We debated various plans to get rid of them,and eventually decided on using Torin's magical warhammer, although he is not very skilled with it. Many undead and supernatural creatures that cannot be affected by ordinary weapons can be affected by enchanted weapons, as you probably know.

Torin struck down one creature, but was in turn struck down by the other. Blades ran in to finish the job. I must say, they haven't been accidentally hitting each other and breaking their weapons quite so often, as of late.

After finding a ring under a stone, and determining that it was probably enchanted, we renewed our search. I tried the ring on, but nothing seemed to happen. Perhaps it will become useful later.

While searching, a large tree attacked us! Roots shot up through the ground, entangling us. It seemed particularly interested in Finis, pulling him toward what seemed to be a face, with a huge mouth. I summoned a handful of the Holy Fire, to fling at the tree in desperation, but Palimor began to shout at the tree in Elvish. We ceased our attacks, and simply tried to free ourselves. The tree eventually let us go, explaining that it was set here by the elves to guard the area. It said that its name was Grayleth Greenwarder.

After a while, a picture of what happened here emerged. Apparently, a druid flying on a flaming chariot swooped out of the sky (as he did at Palimor), and ordered the trees to attack the Elves. The Elves were slaughtered, and those that were not (or perhaps the spirits of those killed) were imprisoned under the tower. The tree said the druid's name was Bartok Oaklore.

To free the elves, we had to locate three animals, each with a white blaze on their heads: a bear, a fish, and a hawk. Each held within it a key to open the passageway to the elves. We merely had to get them all into the tower at the same time. Of course, we had no idea how we were to do this. The tree didn't have any ideas, either.

We first went for the hawk. It nested atop a steep hill, near the tower. I tried to climb, but having no experience, couldn't even get higher than ten feet. Torin gave it a try, and successfully reached the top. He apparently befriended the animal (he has "a way" with animals), as it hopped right onto his arm. He began his climb down, and the hawk hopped onto his shoulder. About one-fourth of the way down, Torin slipped and fell in a terrible jumble of arms and legs. He survived the fall, but barely so. We did what we could for him, and the hawk glided gracefully down to land by his side. We helped Torin into the tower, and left him there while we went to get the bear.

The bear was hiding in a cave nearby. Prometheus granted me the knowledge of its language, but it was not going to budge. I gave the knowledge to Palimor, but he could not persuade it to help either. I eventually bribed it with some rations. We led it to the tower, where Torin and I fed it from the supplies on the pony.
The others went to find the fish. I soon heard screams and shouts, and rushed to see if I was needed. I arrived just in time to see a badly wounded blades deliver an incredible blow to a giant crustacean. I swear, he fairly cleaved the thing in half with one swing! Palimor caught the fish with a makeshift fishing pole, and I ran back to the tower with it.

As soon as I lay the fish on the tower floor, all three animals died. They had been imprisoned here, immortal, far too long. A door immediately opened in the floor, and Palimor jumped down before any of us could react. Following him down, we saw an elvish woman materialize in the dark stone room. She seemed not to be fully present--translucent is the only way I can think of to describe her. She and Palimor touched foreheads. Palimor turned and gave us his sincere thanks, and told us that a reward was located under some stones to the left. Before we could ask him where we were (or how to get to the nearest town), Palimor was gone, and Taelsyn collapsed.

We made sure Taelsyn was all right, then inspected the treasure. A fine long sword lay under an elven cloak with a moonstone clasp. Also present was a suit of elven chain mail--that famous lightweight armor--as well as a magic ring, and some elvish arrows. We distributed the items, and I found that the ring bestowed upon the wearer the ability to make incredible leaps. I gave Taelsyn the first ring we found (which we suspect provides a small measure of protection to the wearer).
After climbing out of the secret room, we returned to tell Grayleth Greenwarder what had happened. He listened intently, and seemed happy that all had ended well. He then gave us the cryptic message "Orcs are coming". He could tell us nothing more; he only knew that orcs, possibly in large numbers, were approaching.

We are wounded, and almost without rations (thanks to the bear). This position is not very defensible. We are neither fit for defending from an attack, nor a siege. Even fleeing is a risky proposition, because of our short supplies. I am unsure what we can do. I still have a few cards left to play--a cure serious wounds scroll, for example. But the situation does not look good. If this turns out to be my last writing, and if it should reach you somehow, I ask you to tell my parents what happened, and tell them I love them. I hope that I have served Prometheus well. Perhaps I am being melodramatic, but I sense we are in great danger. If we should all fall, I plan to send the pony off, with these pages attached. I hope that someone finds him. Praise to the Light-Bringer!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 6

Obviously, I am still alive, or else this is really the writing of a well-educated orc with a penchant for sick jokes. We rested some, and Taelsyn came to his senses. We discussed the distribution of the treasure more, and decided that it would be most efficient if I were to wear the elven chain (because I am in combat more often), Taelsyn were to wear the Jump ring (so that he would not have to memorize the spell), and Torin tried out the protection ring.

Taelsyn climbed a short distance up the tower to the remains of a floor about ten feet off the ground. Looking out a window, he reported that there were no orcs in sight. We decided that we should get some rest, so we lay down in the room under the tower. Grayleth promised to wake us if orcs approached.

That night, Finis was awakened by a root poking him in the shoulder. He woke us up, and told us that he heard voices. Taelsyn's used his keen hearing to determine that they were orcs, scouting around the tower--probably no more than four. We decided to stay hidden. The voices soon drifted away. Taelsyn put on Finis' cloak and scouted around, but found nothing. Grayleth told us that he had moved the pony into the forest when he heard the orcs coming. Hopefully, they don't even know we're here. We're going to try going back to sleep.

June 2nd
We woke to a bright, sunny morning. Grayleth told us where we could collect some berries for provisions, and Finis caught some fish. I picked as many strawberries as I thought we could stomach (they are still green). I was gone longer than I thought; by the time I had returned, the others had already searched the valley for fallen wind chimes--apparently Grayleth missed their music. The chimes soon rang cheerily through the valley, for the first time in centuries. I am glad we did something to repay Grayleth for his help. We soon packed our supplies, thanked him again, and headed east.

We have traveled through the entire day without rest. We are now camped on a hilltop, by a large boulder. Although we are not all fully recovered from our injuries, we are in much better shape than before. If the orcs catch up to us, however, we will not last long.

June 3rd
Disaster truly struck us today; we lost a friend and valued ally. May Prometheus protect his soul.

In the earliest hours of the day, long before the sun was even close to rising, a patrol of four orcs approached our camp. Torin was keeping watch; he woke us when he heard their voices. We prepared for a fight, taking cover, and preparing our ranged weapons. Taelsyn slipped off into the dark. As the orcs came close, Finis illuminated two of them with a spell he calls "faerie fire". We opened fire on them with our bows and slings. They seemed somewhat confused, and the dwarves charged them. It was a terrible fight, and Blades was knocked unconscious by a terrible blow. One of the orcs drew a horn and blew it loudly before I could stop him.
We eventually killed them all, but we knew that many more would be close behind. We did what we could for Blades, which was not much, lay him on the pony, and ran as fast as we could. When the sun was close to rising, we stopped again by a pile of rocks on a hill. We hoped that the orcs would not pursue us during the day, as they hate the sun's light. We placed Blades and Finis (who was also in bad shape) in the shelter of the rocks, and sat down to rest.

A loud scream was soon heard, and the sound of a horn blowing. The horn's note was quickly cut off, however. The scream sounded just like the noise that frightened us so, the night when Taelsyn was possessed. Worried that whatever it was might come for us next, Taelsyn went to find out what it was. He stealthily walked into the darkness.

We should not have let him go alone--we should at least have given him the elven cloak. We soon heard the scream again, and then saw the "noon" effect of Taelsyn's wand of illumination go off. Torin and I immediately charged toward the bright light.

As we neared the area, I cast an Aid spell on Torin, and he drank the potion of heroism. We charged down into the area between several hills, above which the bright light had appeared.

A terrible creature awaited us there. It was a giant cat-like monster, with intelligent, malevolent eyes. It roared again, and charged us. This time we were not affected by its roar--that trick will not work on us again. I noticed several of Taelsyn's arrows sticking out of its side, as well as some slashes (probably from orcish weapons). Its most notable wound was on its head--it looked as if it had been hit by something very heavy, or run into something at full speed (it can move at a remarkable rate). Taelsyn must have given it quite a fight.

Torin resolutely braced himself for the charge, and Prometheus granted me a flame blade. Twice did I strike the creature, but it did not fall. It hit us as well, but the blows were not as bad as I feared they would be. It growled at Torin, and seemed about to pounce on him, but Torin roared back at it (which is also a frightening sound!) and swung mightily with his battle axe. The blow was incredible--he took its head right off in one blow! He spent a short period of time shouting at the carcass, and we began to look for Taelsyn.

Sadly, we soon found his partially-eaten remains. There was nothing we could do for him. I took his ring, some rations, his spellbook and other papers, and whatever other useful things I could find, said a brief prayer for him, and then used my flame blade to cremate his remains. I'll be damned if I'll let those orcs get their hands on him! I wish we had time to give him a proper burial, but we would be joining him unless we moved quickly.

Returning to the camp, we set out yet again. When the sun was high in the sky, we decided we could go no further. We lay down, again by some rocks, and slept.
When evening fell, we resumed our flight. Although Taelsyn did not talk often, it seems strange to be traveling without him. Nonetheless, we must press on. While walking through a valley, we found the remains of a wolf, apparently crushed by one of the huge stones lying about. Worried that giants were around (giants with good aim, as well), I suggested that we should get away from here quickly. It was at that moment that Torin, back at the entrance to the valley, shouted "The boulders are rolling down the hill towards you, and you're blissfully unaware!" Although we were somewhat confused by the strange wording of the warning, we collected our wits quickly enough to notice that all the boulders, which were previously just lying about, were indeed rolling toward us! We dodged several of them and breathed sighs of relief. Then we realized the boulders were turning around and heading towards us again! Obviously, these were living creatures of some sort. Noting that they had difficulty going uphill, we ran up the rims of the valley. Once we reached the tops (Finis on one side, I on the other), the boulders seemed to lose interest. The dwarves wisely avoided the valley, and we went on our way. Hopefully, the valley will trap a few orcs, if they are still following us.

We will continue to march through the night, after a brief stop for dinner. Our thoughts are all on Taelsyn.

June 4th
Most of today has been spent in rest. It became cloudy in the evening. As we prepared to set out again, we heard a loud roar above us, like a lion, and the flapping of huge wings, but we saw nothing.

After traveling for a couple hours, we came upon a ruin--really just a stone doorway leading into a hill, actually--with "Hiisi" written on the entrance. Finis tells us that he was a nature god of the local pantheon (the "tuatha Daydonnan"). The druids have been taught that he is an evil nature god, but Finis is skeptical about these teachings. I must admit, I am curious about what lies inside, but the door is guarded with glyphs and wards, so entering could be very dangerous. We also have little reason, besides curiosity, to go in. So we will have to pass up this opportunity. Tonight must be spent on the move.

June 5th
My prayers have been answered! Apparently, we passed over a road during the night. Torin was keeping watch while we rested, and suddenly woke us, shouting "A wagon! A wagon!". And there it was! A wagon, pulled by horses, with at least one person riding on it.

Torin and I immediately threw our weapons on the ground, and broke into a run towards it. The driver, a middle-aged man, seemed somewhat alarmed, but we showed him our empty hands and begged for assistance. He told us that he was Selimar, a merchant, traveling to Duma Faifni with his son, Altair, and his daughter, Espara. We are only two days north of Duma Faifni!

The kind man could tell that we were travel-weary, and offered to allow us to ride on his wagon. In exchange, we would guard him on his journey. Of course, we happily accepted the offer and collapsed into his wagon. Thank you, Prometheus! We have been delivered.

We rode until we reached the small town of Longmire. The journey was uneventful, although Selimar did tell us that the cat-creature is called a "caterwaul".
Tonight, we rest comfortably in the Inn of the White Knight. After putting the pony in a stable, and making sure that everything was fine, I went immediately to bed. This has been the most exhausting ordeal of my entire life! It is only early afternoon, but I will sleep soundly.

Unfortunately, I was not to get as much rest as I desired. In the evening, I was awakened by the sound of a man shouting "Stop thief! Help! My gold!" and so on. Groggily, I grabbed my flail and went to the door. A crowd had gathered around a large Cimbrian, who was on the verge of hysteria. I called to Finis for help, and tried to determine what was happening.

After making certain that no one left the hallway onto which all the rooms opened (and making sure that Torin guarded our room, with our possessions), we pieced together what happened. The man was sleeping, when he heard a noise, woke up, heard the door open, and jumped out of bed. His chest (holding 500 gold coins) was missing, so he ran into the hallway crying for help. A large, dark-skinned man (obviously not a Cimbrian) informed me that the lock was destroyed with acid. When we looked in the room, the chest was, to our surprise, sitting right there on the floor. It was, of course, empty. However, Finis found a piece of fleece nearby, which did not belong to the victim.

After searching the entire area, both with people and by magic, we found nothing, except that all the rooms were in every way identical. Then the tall dark-skinned man (who said his name was Suleiman) pointed out that the victim's room had an extra chair! I suspected that some kind of illusionary magic was at work, but none of us could find the flaw in the illusion. We assured the innkeeper that he would be compensated, then destroyed both chairs in the fireplace (surely, if one was the thief, he wouldn't let us throw him in a fire). Nothing unusual happened to the chairs, but a cry from down the hall told us that something had happened in the room.
We rushed down to the victim's room, and found two large bags of gold sitting on the floor. One obviously had a handful of gold missing from it. Finis, who had been guarding the room, lay on the floor, knocked unconscious. It was then that we heard Torin saying "Hey, where are you going?", and a fight broke out. Leaving the room, we saw Torin standing over a man, cowering on the ground. Gold coins were scattered on the ground around him. The crowd of onlookers pummeled him into complete submission. We searched him, and found thief's tools in the heel of his boot, as well as spell components, and a piece of fleece. The innkeeper notified the local law enforcement, and the large man, happy to have his gold back, rewarded us for our trouble. The thief was finally dragged away, whining and complaining. But just for the briefest of moments, he stopped, and winked at me--as if he were the loser of a game, tipping his hat respectfully to the victor. I shook my head, taking it upon myself to be ashamed of his behavior, as he obviously felt no shame.

Now, I will go to bed. And I pray that no one else gives me cause to wake early--my patience is wearing thin.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 7

I awoke again about an hour later, as Torin knocked on the door to tell me they were going to sleep outside, in order to save money. Feeling much less grumpy, I offered to sleep outside with them and take a watch. After sleeping in the inn for six hours, I feel much better. I'm finishing my watch, although I'm not sure if I'll be able to sleep now.

June 7th
I was able to sleep after all. Finis woke us, once again, with a song to the sun. At least his singing is improving. We ate a hearty breakfast in the inn, and were joined in our meal by Suleiman, the man who helped us last night. I think he must be from the Western Samadhi, judging by his accent and dark skin. Suleiman offered to join us on our journey, saying that he's good with a sword. I don't doubt it; he looks as if he could lift Selimar's wagon!

Our journey has been quite enjoyable, for a change. Altair and I discussed mathematics for most of the day (because he is a merchant, he has some knowledge of accounting, and therefore, a little mathematics). I am especially interested in the system the Cimbrians use to represent numbers. Rather than using our relatively awkward system of adding and subtracting amounts from each other to represent a single number, they simply use one symbol to represent that number. At first, I thought that such a system would be silly, as there are of course infinite numbers to represent. But they have an ingenious pattern that avoids this difficulty. I hope to write a treatise on it someday, as it certainly makes most calculations much easier to perform.

The others have passed the day talking to Suleiman. I did not hear much of the conversation, but I have gathered that his full name is Suleiman Matar al-Qazim, and he is from Hejaz. I thought I heard him say that he is a former slave, but I'm not sure (on a side note, I have seen no signs of that evil practice in any of these lands). They worship only one god in Hejaz, Shai'allah, but it is unclear to me whether they believe all other gods are false, or whether they believe theirs is simply the most powerful.

We are now in a caravan of ten carts and wagons, traveling to Duma Faifni together. There is much singing and dancing, and a smile is on every face. Lunch was a truly merry affair. I ate mine quickly, so that I would have time to search the area for useful herbs before we set off again.

This afternoon we were joined by a man in white robes, riding a beautiful horse. Selimar tells me that the man is a Wizard of the White School. Blades struck up a conversation with him. We were worried that Blades would, in his somewhat dimwitted state, say something that would offend the wizard, but I think the wizard took a liking to him. He told us that his name is Xavier, from Ivalo. We made small talk, and he rode off to greet the others in the caravan.

By late afternoon, the fields of grass had been replaced by fields of flowers. We soon reached the small town of Concord, where we stopped for the night. The Ale and Pipe is the local inn, and we are sleeping in the common room tonight. There are some elves here, and I decided to ask them what I should do about the elven chain Palimor gave us, and that we considered Taelsyn's. They seemed very interested in how we acquired the armor, so I told them of our encounter with Palimor. They concluded that Palimor had meant for the mail to be a gift to the whole party, so I could keep it without fear of angering the elves. The elves wanted to hear more of our adventures, so they bought me a fine meal and a drink, and we chatted the night away. Some halflings joined us soon after I began our story. What a merry day it has been!

I'm going to bed now. Blades has decided to sleep outside with the flowers, for some reason. I can't imagine what must be going through his head.

June 8th
Dearest Brethren,
Praise to the light-bringer! Gloria in excelsis Prometheo! I hope all is well at the temple. I have recently sent another packet of my writings to you, via a merchant. Today is the first day in my new log.

We awoke to a bright sunny morning, and quickly prepared to go. After packing our belongings onto the wagon, we noticed that Blades was nowhere to be seen. Searching the area, we found two things: One, flowers are apparently the chief product of Concord, as there are huge fields of them planted on every square foot of available soil. Two, Blades had wandered around the valley in the night. Torin, after being pursued by an unfriendly dog, found him and brought him back. We were soon on our way.

It was another happy day of travel. In the early afternoon, we came upon a river, and followed it for about an hour. Cresting a small hill, we finally saw Duma Faifni. It sat by a lake, on a large hill. Huge throngs of people were gathered around it. Music and strange smells drifted up toward us. The colors are almost blinding--many bright banners are flown, and the style of clothing can be politely described as "flashy" (gaudy and vain would be a better words). Camps surround the city for a radius of half a mile. The road was congested with travelers, and our progress slowed to a crawl. A large makeshift building outside the city served as the temporary headquarters of the Red Branch Knights (the King's knights). Selimar said that he had business to attend to, so he took his leave. We thanked him for his trouble and made our way toward the city gates.

Although the city has put on its best face for the festival, Blades and Torin pointed out that the newer buildings are in poor condition, especially compared to the fine construction of the older buildings. Still, the merry spirit of the city overwhelms whatever architectural flaws the buildings have.

Soon after making our way through the gate we heard the whinny of a horse, and a man cried out. The crowd parted in a panic, as a horse charged through, dragging a man behind it! The man had his foot caught in the stirrup, and try as he might, could not get loose. We sprung into action, with Torin charging forth to calm the horse (as I've mentioned, he has a way with animals), as I jumped to grab the reins. Blades, however, finally revealed the degree to which that foul plant had injured his mental faculties. He drew his sword and swung at the horse's leg, striking it. This, of course, caused the horse to panic again, just as we were calming it down. Torin nonetheless managed to calm it, and we made sure Blades did not swing again. I healed the horse's wounds, and we apologized to the rider for Blades' actions. He seemed unsure of whether to thank us or not (but he did). He walked away quickly, leading the horse.

We went about trying to secure an inn, but after a brief attempt at bargaining (and finding that it cost upwards of fifty bronze a room), we decided that we could simply sleep outside. After designating the Merchant Quarter's Gate as a meeting point, we agreed to rendezvous at dusk. I went to look for Ionian merchants, and the others went their own ways.

I soon found a large group of Ionian merchants. They were as happy to see me as I was to see them, and they invited me to return with them to their pavilion. They were finishing a busy day of selling and buying, and were returning for dinner and rest. I chatted with a man on the way back. He seemed kind enough, but I soon discovered that most of the Ionians derisively refer to the Cimbrians as "goats". Apparently they see them as an inferior race. I find this disgusting. We must educate our fellows; the Cimbrians are different, but not inferior. They have shown me great kindness (for the most part) since I first arrived in Alcyone.

At the pavilion, I found a merchant named Glaucon who says that he is returning to Demopolis after the festival! He seems to be a good man, and does not refer to the Cimbrians as "goats". I asked him if he would be willing to carry this log with him, and take it to you at the temple. He quickly volunteered, saying that it would be an honor. We spent a great deal of time chatting, sharing the stories of our travels here, and sharing fine Ionian food and wine. How I miss home! I gave him enough money to hire a guard for his trip to the sea. I don't have enough gold for him to hire a guard for the whole journey, so pray for his safety! When and if he gets there, I suggest that he be rewarded for his efforts on our behalf.

I took my leave of the Ionians, and returned to the Merchant's Quarter Gate. There I met Torin, Finis, and Suleiman. I was about to ask where Blades was, when we heard some shouting around a corner. Torin and I went to investigate, while Finis distracted a local town guard with idle conversation.

Looking around the corner into an alley, we saw a boy, perhaps twelve years old, on the ground, his face bloodied. Three large Cimbrians stood over him, promising to pummel him for trying to steal from them. Torin and I suggested that it was not their role to dispense justice. This didn't persuade them, and they ordered us to leave. We didn't, and they attacked. I cast a flame blade, and this frightened one man off. Torin struck the other two on the head with the flat of his battle axes, knocking them unconscious (a very difficult thing to do!).

The child seemed to be all right. I asked him if he had tried to steal from one of the men. At first he denied it, but after a stern look, he admitted it. Then he claimed that he had a poor sister to feed, but when that failed to elicit sympathy from us, he seemed defeated. I tried to explain to him that stealing is wrong. Finally, he apolagized, and seemed sincere. I asked him if he needed a job (I intended to offer him one, although I have no idea what he could do for us), but he said he had one at an inn.

Much to our surprise, he said that he could get us rooms at the inn, which was called "The Slippery Eel". Although we didn't like the sound of the name, it was better than sleeping outside again. The boy, whose name was Balstead, took us straight to the inn. The owner, Braggi (who is from the Free Cities), thanked us for protecting Balstead, and offered us rooms. We agreed,of course.

Torin told us that he and Blades had met an old dwarf friend, Oomosh. Oomosh was creating a piece of armor to enter into a contest, the prize of which was 1000 gold pieces! Blades, who is an expert armor-smith, agreed to help create a helmet, for half of the prize.

This was especially important because, earlier in the day, Torin and Blades had gone to several temples and churches, asking about magic to heal Blades' mental affliction. One church offered to charge only (only!) 1000 gold for a powerful heal spell. Of course, we do not have anywhere near that much money. I'm not sure how we will raise the money, but we will, somehow.

It was getting late when the stories were done, so we went to bed. Before blowing out the candles, Finis advised me that he is being followed by priests (or the servants of priests) of the local diety whose symbol is an anvil and a sword. I hope they do not have evil intentions towards Finis.

But I will not worry about this now. It is time to rest, for tomorrow will be a very busy day.

June 9th
I went again to visit the Ionian Merchants, from whom I purchased new clothes. Our old clothes were dirty to the point of being foul, and falling apart. Before putting on my new clothes, however, I went to the poorer district of town, which is called Hillsborough. I did not want to appear too well-off, as that would likely make these poor folk uncomfortable. I spent the day trying to help them with their illnesses and other problems. The poor people of this city are actually fairly well off. Most of them are not very sick; nor are they lame or otherwise unable to work. They are simply between jobs, or temporarily down on their luck. Chronic poverty does not seem to be much of a problem here. At first I was surprised by this, but when I consider the amazing array of opportunities a city such as this must provide--the many, many jobs that there are to be done--it is not so surprising after all.

The others spent the day wandering the city, taking in the sights, and trying to find a way to get more information about that mysterious map we found in the orcish ruins. Finis entered a foot race. Apparently, the race went all the way around the lake! While Finis ran, Torin offered his services as a pie-tasting judge, and Suleiman placed wagers on the foot race. Finis won the race handily, and Suleiman won his bet. Torin ate a great deal of pie.

I have found that I am most comfortable here when I am in the marketplace. There is always the danger of pickpockets, but it is only a slight danger. What does it matter, when all around there are people trading things they value little, for things they value more? Imagine the happiness that is created in a marketplace! Every time a man buys a pound of apples from the apple cart for two bronze pieces, he is saying "I value apples more than I value having two bronze, so buying these apples makes me happier". The merchant is saying "I value these apples less than I value two bronze, so selling these apples makes me better off". And money! What a wonderful innovation! Imagine what would happen if, instead of using money, the buyer had to go find something the apple seller wanted. Suppose the apple seller wanted beef. The man who wanted to buy the apples would have to find something to trade the butcher for beef, then take the beef to the apple seller (in fact, our Ionian word for money, pecunia, comes from our ancient word for cattle). With money, it takes but one transaction! I sometimes wonder if Prometheus may have had a hand in its invention, as well.

We met back at the inn at dusk. They told me that they had not learned anything new about the map, and we were about to retire, when we heard a loud roar behind us. We turned to see a column of flame shoot down from the sky, striking a building, and setting it ablaze!

That must have been powerful magic--perhaps a flame strike (although I am not familiar enough with such magic to be sure). Of course, we ran to the building as fast as we could. A crowd had gathered outside. Suleiman tried to organize the people into a fire fighting brigade, telling them to get water from the well. One of the onlookers informed us that there was an old woman on the second floor--and that the roof would soon collapse.

I prayed that Prometheus would grant me resistance to fire, and tried to enter the door. It was locked, so I broke a window and climbed inside. The downstairs area was filling with smoke, but I could still see pretty clearly. The furnishings and decorations were elegant--even extravagant. I took a deep breath, and ran up the stairs. There were two doors, and I took the one that seemed to lead to the window in which the woman had been spotted. A woman's body lay on the floor. I picked her up and ran back down the stairs, meeting Finis on the way up. He opened the door for me, and we ran outside. Two minutes later, the roof collapsed.

The elderly woman was not injured; she had simply inhaled too much smoke. We soon revived her. She told us that her name was Blaise, and she was a metal merchant (retired). She said that she heard shouting in the courtyard of the house, and then the building caught fire. We decided to investigate the courtyard, and found a skeleton there, still burning. We suspect that this poor soul was the target of the spell, not the building. Unfortunately, the only other clue was a piece of cloth lying near the body. I told a town guard member that I might be interested in having access to the body, so that I could do some magical investigating (If I use the Candle of Invocation, I can cast speak with dead). He gave me a writ of permission, granting me access to see the body before it is buried. I am not sure if I will investigate or not (there is only so much one man can do; I cannot right all the world's wrongs!), but I would like to keep the option available.

After all the excitement, there was nothing left to do but go to bed.

June 10th
Our day started with a visit to Chun the wizard, who is rumored to be very powerful, if eccentric (and sometimes downright unfriendly). Many people recommended him when we asked for help with our map. We located his tower, but he did not answer the door.

We decided to wander the streets together. Our first stop was a zoo, where we saw some old friends: the giant turtle and the blightening. There was also a large six-legged cat with tentacles coming from its back, and the most unusual ability to shift the position of its image--it is hard to explain. There were other strange creatures, as well as a great many horses and pigs. We encountered Xavier again, and asked him about our map. He recommended that we visit the temple of Oghma the Binder.

Torin volunteered to go to the temple, since the rest of us did not seem inclined to do so (What an industrious dwarf--he not only excels in combat; he does historical research!). Xavier showed him the way, but not before suggesting that we go listen to a performance by some Cimbrian singers. I am glad that he did so; they were truly beautiful. Their music is actually not so different from that of Ionia, although theirs is not so solemn. I am not a musician, however, so I lack the musical vocabulary necessary to tell you more.

That evening we returned to the inn. Much to our surprise, both Torin and Blades met us there. Blades had been working on the helm almost non-stop, but Oomosh had asked him to leave tonight (Blades had been sleeping by the forge as well--that's dedication!). Torin's investigation at the temple of Oghma had revealed that the ruins of Duncan Keep, which are portrayed on the map, are 250 miles away. I suppose it will be a while before we get around to investigating Duncan Keep.

Braggi has offered us an unusual job. He has a cask of fine wine which he intends to sell tomorrow, and it is sitting in the common room, on top of the bar. He is worried that the local thieves guild will attempt to steal the wine tonight, before he can make the sale. We are to guard the cask until the morning.

I am not sure how the thieves intend to take the cask, but I fear that it will be much more clever than brute force. We are about to begin preparing defensive positions. Braggi, who has tried some of the wine and is fairly inebriated, has locked himself in his room. Hopefully, no one will try to take the wine, and Braggi will sleep peacefully through the night.

Based on past experience however, I don't think this will be a peaceful night. I must aid my fellows now.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 8

We have survived the night thus far, with both ourselves and the wine intact. I cannot say the same for the thieves. If this is the best the thieves' guild has to offer, then perhaps they should find a new profession.

First they tried to break in through one of the front windows on the first floor. We had blocked all the windows and doors with tables, so they were unsuccessful until they finally managed to knock a table over. Torin was waiting for them, however, and when a man stuck his head through the window to look around, Torin shouted "We're closed!" in his face. The man, totally surprised, fell back from the window and disappeared. We replaced the broken shutters and blocked the window again.
A short time later, Suleiman, who was standing guard on the second floor, heard "thumps" on the roof. We soon smelled smoke, and went outside to investigate. The thieves had tried to smoke us out by firing flaming arrows at the roof. When Finis tried to summon a body of water over the roof to put out the flames, he was struck by arrows fired from some dark spot nearby. Torin and Blades took care of the archers, while I tried to summon water. I succeeded, but only slowed the rate at which the fire burned. Suleiman climbed the roof with a blanket and put out the flames, removing the arrows as well. We went back inside, blocking the door again.

The thieves had not given up, and tried to break in through a second story window. Suleiman heard them, and warned us. Blades and Torin ran upstairs and encountered a roomful of thieves. They stepped in to attack, but two more thieves stepped out of closets and jumped the dwarves from behind. Suleiman jumped those thieves from behind, stabbing one in the back (although, from the looks of the remains, it seems as if the poor thief was struck by a slab of granite--I'm glad Suleiman is on our side!).

Finis and I remained downstairs, guarding the cask (Finis had used his elven cloak to disappear, so I'm not sure exactly where he was--but I know he was near the bar). We heard the sound of the cellar door opening, and I went to check it out. A Wolfen and four more thieves had somehow gained access to the cellar, and were marching toward the bar! I shouted to Torin and Blades for help, and retreated to where I hoped Finis was hiding. Finis appeared, and cast some kind of spell on the Wolfen. The Wolfen seemed to lose interest in us, and walked off towards the stairs leading to the second floor. The four thieves attacked Finis and I, but we stood our ground.

Meanwhile, Torin, Blades, and Suleiman came downstairs, attacking the Wolfen on the way down. A couple of the thieves fighting us went to help the Wolfen, but it did not matter--Torin and Blades made short work of them all. The few thieves that remained tried to flee down to the cellar, but only one or two escaped.
Torin and Finis found that an entrance to the sewer had been made in the cellar, and tried to pursue the thieves. According to Torin, he was running down the sewer after the thief when he heard screams, saw the thief writhe in pain, and fall to the ground. A man in plate mail stepped out of the darkness, with insects crawling all over him, devouring him! He pleaded for help, then fell. Torin wisely ran back towards the inn. He and Finis exited unharmed. We immediately blocked the entrance to the sewer with a table.

I can't imagine what was going on down there--it sounds like someone cast an insect plague. But what was the man in plate mail doing down there?
We searched the thieves, finding nothing. The Wolfen, however, had a fine white cloak, as well as a ring and a flask of some kind. His sword glowed for a short while, but then sputtered out. Noting that it was covered in some kind of oil, and that the flask held a similar oil, I surmised that it was some kind of Oil of Sharpness, or something like that. Suleiman discovered that the ring enhances the wearer's strength. We gave it to Blades, as he is in combat the most. Suleiman is wearing the cloak, although we are not sure if it does anything.

We have decided to get some rest, as we do not believe the thieves want to suffer any more losses tonight. Just in case they do, we are keeping watches. Mine is nearly over, without incident. May the rest go so smoothly!

June 11th
This has been a terrifying day. Once again, we are fortunate to be alive. I write from inside a temple of Oghma the Binder (it's more like a library, really). How did I end up here? Read on.

The morning started out wonderfully. Braggi was ecstatic when he saw that the cask remained intact. I had placed a firetrap on it the night before, and almost forgot to remove it--but Suleiman remembered, just in time. People soon started filing in to taste the wine. Braggi charged them the exorbitant price of one gold piece per glass (or cup, or bowl, or whatever else he could find to serve it in). The customers were obviously happy to pay a gold--no one went away unhappy.

Actually, one person went away unhappy. Suleiman (who seems to be not only incredibly strong, but very clever) was keeping an eye on the customers as they approached the cask of wine, to make sure that no one dropped anything in it. Of course, someone did, but Suleiman was not quite quick enough to grab his hand--something fell in the wine. The man (a member of the thieves guild, trying to poison the wine) tried to run, but we knocked him down, and guards hauled him off. Braggi was devastated, but I asked Prometheus to purify the wine--it worked, of course. And it is an exquisite wine, by the way. If you ever have a chance, try some. It's called "Kiraay Violet" wine.

Braggi rewarded us handsomely, paying us three times what he originally offered to pay us. In addition, we seem to have become local celebrities. People ask us "Are you the guys that killed twenty thieves?", to which we politely respond "No, it was only around fourteen". I'm a little uncomfortable with all the attention, and I worry that the thieves' guild will seek revenge. But our fame has brought at least one boon; we were surprised and pleased to see Rig and Barnrick of the Linden Tuatha (well, we weren't so happy to see Barnrick). After some friendly conversation, we apologized for not getting the chest to Kratys' Freehold. Rig said that Taren Kratys' was in fact here, in Duma Faifni, and that he and Barnrick could take the chest to him. After checking to make sure that these were really Rig and Barnrick (instead of some imposters trying to get the gold), we gave them the chest, and they went on their way. It is wonderful to be free of another obligation!

Growing tired of being celebrities, we decided to investigate the sewer passageway underneath the inn, except for Blades, who went to Oomash's forge. Braggi came down into the cellar while we were moving the table, and seemed surprised, and perhaps a little alarmed, to see us down there. We explained what we were doing, and he said he had simply come to pick up something. He was not very convincing, as he looked around for something to take with him. Apparently, he's hiding something down here, as he eventually grabbed a broken mouse trap, and left.

We entered the sewer, and soon found the place where Torin had met the man in armor. The walls were coated with dead insects. While looking around, we saw lights flashing down the tunnel. At first we were curious, but when we saw that they were moving closer, we turned to run. We could not outrun them, however, and we were soon attacked by four creatures that flew without wings. They had a large "sucker" mouth, and tried to attach themselves to us. One of them attached to me, and another one to Suleiman, but with the healing spells of Finis and Torin's axe, we killed them.

Suleiman reached into the disgusting sewer water and pulled out a breast plate, with a corpse attached. On the breast plate was a symbol, portraying an anvil and sword. We have come to learn that this is the symbol of Goibhniu, a local diety. The priests of Goibhniu are haughty and rude; they are also the ones that have been following Finis.

I decided to go back to the inn to get my candle of invocation, so that I could cast speak with dead on the corpse. I was stopped by Ith, the man that had hired us to catch his escaped animals more than a month ago. He wanted to hire us, saying that if we could find some Owlbear eggs, he'd give us 200 gold per egg! While that would go a long way toward paying for Blades' magical cure, I could not agree without everyone's opinion, so I said that we would talk to him later. He is staying at the Lion's Pride Inn, should we need him.

I grabbed a candle from our room and went back into the sewer. After discussing it further, we decided not to use up the candle's precious time, but to continue investigating the sewer. We eventually found a manhole that opened just thirty yards from the house of Blaise, which burnt down the other night. There has to be a connection; perhaps we should stake out the sewers sometime soon and see who or what comes down them.

We went back up into the cellar, where Braggi waited for us. He said that many people were waiting to see us in the main room, but that we smelled so vile that we should wash up first. Balstead brought down some water, and we cleaned ourselves and our clothes.

The first person in line was a magic-user named Rinver of Findabar, who wanted to hire us to investigate the ruins of a temple of Oghma. Rinver is a little strange; he is always shaking his fist in the air to emphasize parts of his sentences, and it becomes annoying quickly. He is staying at the Gray Mare. The next potential employer was a dwarf named Alorath. He wanted to hire us to fight goblins and their leader, a green dragon! He is staying at the House of the Crystal Mace, in Goldenberg. Finally, a man who had bothered us once before wanted to pay us to kill some Nixies. He seemed more than a little crazy, so we immediately declined this offer. The first offer of the three is the most attractive; I think the second best is Ith's Owlbear egg hunt, and third, the dragon and his goblins. We will have to consider these offers carefully before deciding.

After a brief shopping expedition (I needed a scroll case and some spell components), we picked up Blades and returned to the Inn to find Xavier waiting for us. He asked us if we could go to our room to speak. Once in our room, Xavier told us that he suspects some kind of dangerous conspiracy is going on, and that we are caught in the middle of it. It is possible that someone is trying to provoke the priests of Dagda and Goibhniu into fighting each other, and the thieves are after us for certain. He suggested that we should retreat to a safehold that the White School keeps in Duma Faifni. Of course, we agreed.

Now begins the terrifying portion of my story. As we got up to go, there was a loud knock on the door. We called out "Who is it?", but the only reply was more knocking. Suspicious, we drew our weapons, and opened the door.

Standing in the doorway was a very tall humanoid, in a black cloak. Instead of feet and hands he had talons, and instead of a face, he had two tiny eyes and a huge maw filled with grinding teeth. Xavier leaped up and slammed the door in its face, saying that we could not defeat this creature. He turned to the wall, pointed a ring at it, and suddenly the wall shook as if a some force had struck it. The boards splintered and broke, but the magic had not made a hole. At the same time, the creature roared, a stunning noise that made us stand in shock for a moment. We quickly recovered and blocked the doorway with a chair. Xavier turned his ring on the ceiling, and Suleiman started trying to break down the wall that Xavier had already weakened. We heard a few shouts from the main room of the inn, and the creature punched through the door. Our weapons bounced off of its forearm as if it were made of solid iron.

Xavier succeeded in punching a hole through the ceiling, and we began a hasty retreat. The creature gave up on the door and ripped through the wall. Xavier told us to meet at a temple--he would fly away, seeking help. We agreed on meeting at the temple of Oghma. Suleiman had managed to open the hole in the wall. Finis, Xavier, and I climbed out through the ceiling, and Suleiman, Torin, and finally Blades crawled through the wall. In an attempt to cover the retreat of the others, Xavier struck the creature with some magical missiles, and I tried to blind it with a light spell. Neither spell had any effect.

Because our room was on the first floor, Finis, Xavier, and I were now in a room on the second floor. A quick glance into the common room revealed that all the inn's patrons were stunned, and simply stood or sat frozen in place. We ran to a room with a window and broke through it (not wishing to run through the main room, where the monster might spot us). Meanwhile, the creature had begun its pursuit of the other members of our party down the street.

Xavier cast a spell and flew away into the cloudy night, after giving me directions to the temple (Torin already knew the way, as he had been there to do research on our map). Finis and I immediately started running. I've noticed that my endurance and speed have increased since our flight from the orcs. Fear is an excellent motivation for exercise!

For a while, we were running on a street parallel to the one on which the dwarves and Suleiman were running, and we could see them occasionally, by looking down the alleys between the buildings. We were, of course, faster than the dwarves, so we eventually got ahead of them. But the dwarves were apparently faster than the monster, as it fell behind them. We then noticed that the dwarves were no longer following the correct route to the temple, so we went to find them. Someone jumped out of the shadows and offered to help us and give us shelter, mistaking me for a priest of Dian C'echt. We declined, continuing to search for our friends. Eventually we spotted them in a dead end alley, under attack by six members of the thieves' guild. The creature was charging down the street towards the two of us, and roared when it spotted us. We tried to lead it away from the dwarves and Suleiman, but as soon as it saw them fighting the thieves, it ignored us. I wonder if it was after Suleiman or the dwarves. Who could have summoned such a powerful creature?

The Hordling (as Xavier later called it) struck one of the thieves, turning him into a red mist, and strode forward to deal with the rest. Torin, Suleiman, Blades, and the remaining thieves clambered to get over the wall. Of course, the thieves disappeared into the shadows, and the beast broke through the wall as though it were paper.

Following a respectful distance behind the Hordling, we shouted directions to Torin, so that we could get back on the path to the temple. Twice during our pursuit, powerful bolts of lightning shot down from the sky, striking some other part of the town--they were almost certainly call lightning spells. Eventually, we made it to the temple distract. The dwarves and Suleiman hammered on the door until an old man let them in (actually, they shoved him out of the way and shut the door). Finis and I hid behind the corner of a building, watching as the monster stood for a moment, and then vanished. We sprinted across the street to the temple door. Once we were all inside, the old man led us to an inner chamber, and told us to wait there. He said that he was going to find out what was going on.

June 12th
We never saw the old man again. We kept watches during the night, but no one interrupted our rest. When morning came, I called to some Red Branch Knights patrolling the streets, and explained our situation. They offered to escort us to the White School Haven. We accepted, but first we dropped Blades off at Oomash's forge, and took our things from the Silver Eel. Braggi was quite upset about the damage done to his inn, but he was convinced the thieves had caused it. I must admit, that was my initial suspicion as well, but upon further reflection, there is no way that any thieves could summon such a powerful creature. And if they could, why would it attack thieves' guild members?

No, this had something to do with the conflict between Dagda and Goibhniu. Why would they send a Hordling after the dwarves, or Suleiman? The others don't seem very keen on finding out what's going on--they just want to leave town. I would like to solve this mystery. I think that it is quite likely that Prometheus has brought me here to shed light on this problem, and I intend to do so.

We reached the stronghold of the White School with no trouble. It is a tall, white tower, which Torin tells me is of old but very sturdy construction. Once inside, we were reunited with Xavier. He told us that some priests and pilgrims of Dagda had been attacked last night by a group of Earth Elementals. Almost thirty had been slain. I am afraid that a street war will break out between the two churches; this must be stopped.

For now, we are resting and nursing our wounds. Suleiman has taken an interest in wizards and magic lately, and has been engaged in conversation with our appointed guardian, Matrim. Perhaps he will become a wizard; we could certainly use one, and Suleiman is as intelligent as they come.

I think I will stop writing now, as I have no new information to report. I am worried that if I continue, I will enter into dangerous speculation as to the cause of recent events, and I should not do so without more information. I must admit, having so many questions raised, with so few answers, is becoming very frustrating. My goal has been to acquire knowledge for the betterment of well-meaning sentient creatures; while we have managed to beat up some local thugs, we have done little to solve this mystery. Nor do I see any opportunities to get more information; I am simply waiting for Prometheus to drop clues into my lap. No matter! He will provide.

June 13th
It has thus far been a restful day, for a change. Finis and Suleiman have spent it in conversation with Matrim. Matrim, a tall, somewhat awkward seventeen year old apprentice, is nearing the completion of his training. He performed some tests on Suleiman, and found that he would indeed make an excellent mage, and could perhaps train at the White School. Suleiman was disappointed to find that becoming a wizard takes at least five years.

Finis' conversation with Matrim was a little more revealing. Matrim is from the city of Ironband, in Jilantia. He met Irpolreh, one of the powerful wizards of the White School, when he was only twelve. Irpolreh agreed to make Matrim his apprentice, and they traveled to Brighthelm in Kalevala, where the White School has a large base, called Hope's Foundation. Matrim suspects that Xavier was a student of Ilmargolf the Silver, a famous wizard.

Finis asked Matrim about the large statues that we have, in our travels, twice encountered. He says that they represent two of the Great Kingdom's mightiest heroes, fair Brienna and Gabriel the Silver. Brienna was apparently quite long-lived for a human, as they were prominent from the third century until 477, when they disappeared. Gemdarus Goldenforge, one of Brienna's allies, likely made the statues.

I had almost forgotten about the little dwarf we encountered carrying the huge block of stone, but Finis had not. Matrim seemed excited when Finis asked about it, and ran to get a tome entitled "Inhabitants of the Great Kingdom", by an elf named Fircullin. An entry in the book identifies the creatures as "Korreds", a fantastically strong race of sour disposition. They apparently spend all their time moving stones from one location to another (although I can't imagine why they don't get bored--they're immortal, although they can be killed, and an eternity moving stones around does not sound fun to me), and have been here moving stones since the elves first arrived in central Aragon 2000 years ago. They have, on occasions, worked for druids.

Here is an interesting warning for travelers: When Korreds gather to celebrate, usually on the first day of spring and the last day of fall, their laughter can compel all those that hear it to dance with them. Those that dance with the Korreds cannot be stopped, and will dance themselves to death before the sun rises!
Finally, Matrim told us that the white cloak we took from the Wolfen and the broach on Finis' elven cloak are both magical. The white cloak is a "Cloak of the North", and provides the wearer with great warmth in the most bitter cold. We are not sure what the broach does.

I have been practicing with Torin's magical warhammer for several days now, in those few moments when we were not busy. Today, Torin assisted me with my practice. He is not an expert in its use either, but he does have some useful suggestions. I feel fairly comfortable with the weapon now. Still, I will keep my trusty flail at my side.

After a hearty lunch, I asked Matrim some questions about the recent events in Duma Faifni. He was able to tell us that Hordlings are a type of Daemon. Although they are grouped together under the name "Hordling", each Hordling is unique, with widely varying appearance and abilities. Few wizards or clerics can summon them.

I also asked him who he thought would benefit from a battle between the churches of Dagda and Goibhniu. Matrim's answer did nothing to narrow the group of suspects; in fact, he offered new suspects. He suggested the druids of Midhe, King Rosfeldr, or even a coalition of weaker churches might be behind it. In fact, there might be no attempt by an outsider to cause conflict at all--this might be a real war between the churches. I suppose we will have to keep waiting for an opportunity to arise; perhaps the instigators will make a mistake and reveal their hand. For now, we resume our practice and rest.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
(I was on the road for a bit, sorry for the delay in posting! Let us resume the logs shall we?)

SESSION 9

I am truly exhausted, but I will finish today's journal entry, while tonight's events are still fresh in my mind. Once again, we have come close to death, but snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Blades returned a few hours after lunch, and told us that his helmet had won first place in the armor contest. In fact, everyone had a hard time believing that Blades did not use magic to enhance the armor. Oomash insisted that he did not, and so Blades made arrangements to collect his half of the prize money. Oomash is apparently very depressed over Blades' success; his motto has become "Cogito sumere potum alterum". He feels that he will never match Blades' talent, so there is no point in continuing. What a silly perspective; he seems to think that doing something is only worthwhile if you can be the absolute best at it. If that were the case, there would only be one person of each profession in the world! Being the best is not important; being successful, and enjoying your work is important. I am not the best priest of Prometheus, but I am trying to be the best priest that I can be. I may never reach the ability of High Priestess Octavia; so what?

Blades received several offers to become an armor-smith, and was even offered 100 gold a month by one baron! Blades turned that offer down, as well as one by the King's steward, Angus MacDunmor. More importantly, a smith named Urich said he saw a dwarf named Jarvos Ironforge wearing armor with the Trueblood family crest: A crescent moon and upright sword. Apparently, Blades' had created the set of armor as part of a coming-of-age ritual, and it was stolen. Blades began his adventuring career to recover the armor. Urich said he saw Jarvos in the town of Antrim, six years ago. He guessed that Jarvos was a "Pelgrom", whatever that means, and he was certain that Jarvos was a member of an adventuring company called the "Snow Dogs". We will have to follow up on this lead, once we restore Blades to his full mental ability.

Now that we are all together again, we have decided to meet with Rinver of Findabar, and accept his offer to investigate the temple of Oghma. We soon located his inn, and he let us into his room. We were delighted to find out that Rinver will go with us; we are in great need of a wizard! Also, he will be providing us with transportation, and some basic equipment. Perhaps Suleiman can receive some wizardly training from him.

We asked Rinver about the history of this temple. He said that the church of Oghma, which has been in decline for many years, was rocked by an internal conflict several years ago. A heretical priest at this temple turned several other priests of Oghma against the orthodox members. The orthodoxy finally won out, but the temple was abandoned. Speaking of the conflict is taboo among followers of Oghma (how silly--priests of a god of knowledge making a conscious effort to forget historical facts!), as is the temple itself.

The morning of the 15th is to be our departure date. We have some supplies to buy, as this trip should take at least a month--probably more. Our journey will lead us up a river and out of Ailech, into the Orinbar Mountains, and possibly beyond. There are reports of significant goblin activity in the area, so we will have to be very careful.

Our next destination was the Slippery Eel, as I wanted to talk to Balstead. Suleiman and Torin noticed that three men, probably thieves, were following us. They must have known we were aware of them, because they stopped following so closely.

We made it to the inn without incident, and I pulled Balstead aside to talk to him. I tried to explain to him why stealing is wrong, and just as importantly, the role of rules and the law. Some laws are good, and some are bad. In general, laws that keep people from hurting each other, or hurting/stealing their property, are good. Laws that allow or encourage people to hurt each other are bad. I was quick to tell him that the line is sometimes hard to draw--but we must try to draw it. Finally, I told him that we must sometimes break the rules--but not out of simple selfishness or desire to avoid inconvenience or hard work. We must break rules that are wrong. It was then that I told them the story of Prometheus, who broke the rules because it was the right thing to do. I told him of the price He paid--doing right is not easy.

At first, he was his normal cocky self, and I think he was ignoring me. But something I said seemed to strike a chord. I wished him good luck, and he wished me the same. I promised to stop by the next time we were in Duma Faifni, and he encouraged me to do so. We then took our leave of the Slippery Eel.

Returning to the White School Haven, we found Matrim cooking dinner, and Xavier waiting for us. Dinner was excellent--pork and kid. Matrim tried to cook it in the Ionian style, and it was very good, if not perfect. It was certainly one of the best meals I have had in Ailech.

Xavier says he talked to the priests of Dagda and Goibhniu in an attempt to calm them. He does not think that they were persuaded. He did have more information about what happened last night. The Priests of Oghma went to investigate the lightning, and the last priest (the one who had let us into the temple) had been summoned to the King while out looking around. Xavier still did not know who was behind all of this, but he did have a brilliant suggestion: Whoever sent the Hordling after us probably wanted to silence us, fearing that I may have cast Speak with Dead on the corpse we found behind Blaise's burning house.

I had forgotten to mention earlier that we have come up with a name for our adventuring company: Pentachromata, the five colors. Of course, we chose "Penta" because there are five of us, and we thought that, due to our incredibly diverse makeup, five colors was a good way to describe us. Finis does not like the name, but the rest of us do, and we could find no other name that got as much approval. We informed Xavier that we had chosen our name, so that people could stop referring to us as "those guys who killed the thieves", and "those guys that ran into the burning house", et cetera.

There was a knock at the door, and Xavier told us that he had a plan for solving the mystery and finding the person behind all of the violence. He opened the door, and several Red Branch Knights came in. Xavier told us that these were the men who helped defeat the earth elementals last night. A short time later, there was another knock. This time, there was an older wizard, followed by six men, dressed in dark clothing with short swords. Recognizing them as thieves, we drew our weapons and shouted a warning. The Red Branch Knights also drew their weapons and jumped to our side, but Xavier calmed everyone, saying the thieves also had a stake in the stability of the city. The older wizard was introduced as Irpolre, the man who tutored Matrim.

We went over the events of the past few days, so that we were all familiar with exactly what had been going on. One of the thieves, named Karavekus (who does not look Cimbrian), asked to see the cloth we found near the corpse behind Blaise's house. After smelling it, he told us that it had been in the sewers, and that the material was made locally.

Now that we were all assembled, our first stop was to be Blaise's house, then the sewers. Poking around in the ruins of the house revealed nothing, so we once again made our way into the sewers.

It rained last night, so the water was higher than it normally is. We found the spot where the man in armor had fallen, and the thief, and where we had fought the flying creatures with flashing tails. Realizing that there may be more of those creatures about, we looked down the tunnel for flashing lights. Sure enough, there were four coming toward us. We prepared for a fight, but one of the thieves (named Fin) placed a metal screen in the tunnel, and the creatures could not get past it (although their shocking tails made a dreadful racket on the metal).

A thief searching the passageway said that he had found something, but before we could stop him, he reached out toward the wall, triggering a trap. A huge explosion shook the tunnel, and the thief was blasted to the ground, instantly killed.

The unfortunate thief had opened a hidden door. I decided that we could use some divine aid, so I prayed that Prometheus might reveal traps in our path. We entered the new passage, which lead toward the middle of the city. The ground was dryer, and sloped downward. We left one thief to stand guard.

The passage eventually made a ninety-degree turn to the left, with a pipe spewing sewage on the right (Torin and one of the thieves broke into an argument about whether this was a "T" intersection or an "L" intersection). A short distance down this passage we were attacked by ten zombies, who rose out of the sludge. Raising my holy symbol, I turned five of them away. The fighters made quick work of them--even the ones who tried to flee the light of Prometheus.

A short time later my spell revealed a trap in the ceiling--a small rung was set into the stone. We tied a rope around it, backed up, and pulled mightily. There was a large explosion (a fire trap spell), and the stone ceiling came down, revealing a staircase. A cold breeze wafted down the stairs, and Torin charged up them. We followed, entering a new passage. After a short discussion about whether or not this was the true path, or an attempt to mislead us, we decide to follow the secret passage. It led into a much larger tunnel, which is apparently one of the main sewage pipes. The detect traps spell wore off, but I decided not to cast another in order to save my few remaining spells.

Our next encounter took place in a circular room with a pool in the middle. Pipes overhead dumped sewage into the pool. Torin saw something move in the water. I sunk my staff sling as deeply into the water as I could, but I could not reach the bottom. Suddenly, a large, round creature with two paddle-like appendages attacked Torin, biting down on him and pulling him under. We killed the creature, and it floated on the water. Torin, miraculously, had survived, and climbed up the monster and out of the water. Xavier tells me that the creature was an Otyugh, and that they carry terrible diseases. Torin, due the severity of his wounds, was probably infected. His disease will probably not affect him immediately, however, so we decided to continue on.

Up ahead was another circular chamber, but this one had no water in it. A staircase led down to another passage below, and the passage we had been traveling continued straight. We split our large group up, agreeing to meet back at this chamber when an hour's worth of oil had burned. Xavier, two thieves (Karavekus and Fin), and a Red Branch Knight named Donad (who we inadvertently called Donut and Gonad before we got it straight) went with us down the main passage, while Irpolre led the others down the lower passage.

The passage began to descend, and we came upon another large room. Ten zombies attacked, but I turned them all away (Much to Torin's dismay, as he wanted a fight. He still managed to take one down as it fled). Continuing, we came to a dead end and searched for a secret entrance. We soon found a glyph upon the wall, and I dispelled it with a scroll we had been carrying around for quite some time.

Realizing that our hour was up, we decided to return to the meeting place before opening the door. No one awaited us, so we walked down the stairs to the lower passage. It was lit by phosphorescent mold, giving the passage an eerie green glow. We heard footsteps in the darkness, and a thief came up to us, telling us that their group had found some interesting secret passages. We agreed to meet again in two hours. We returned to the secret door (Torin "killed" another zombie when we passed them again).

The door opened onto a long, dry passage. We saw a door at the end, and Suleiman said he heard a scratching sound. There was absolutely nothing in the passage, so we could not imagine what was making the sound. Suleiman shot an arrow at the door, and a bell started ringing loudly; we had lost any element of surprise. Even worse, the door closed behind us. We cautiously proceeded down the passage, until Torin heard scratching noises coming from the wall next to him. He swung a battle ax at the wall tentatively, and it went right through the wall! A claw reached out the wall towards him--it was an illusionary wall. We were attacked by several foul-smelling creatures that resembled a cross between a man and a wolf. They had a paralyzing touch, and Finis was frozen in place. We quickly struck down the creatures, and waited for Finis to recover.

Moving to examine the door, we found it protected by a glyph similar to the ones we had seen previously. Xavier told us that this one is probably only activated by someone actually passing through the doorway. Finis called upon nature to warp the door (it was made of wood), and I pried the door open with my staff sling.
Looking inside, we saw a large, poorly lit room. In fact, we could not see the back of the room. A ditch, perhaps six feet deep and six feet across, ran across the room, and a statue of a man straddled the small bridge that crossed the middle of the ditch. On the other side of the bridge two bronze-skinned (and I do not mean to imply that they were well-tanned--they actually looked as though they were made of metal) dwarves with hair of fire stood with pikes at the ready, beckoning us to come in. Chains hung from the ceiling, with skulls of various beings--many human--at the bottom. Light spells had been cast upon them, and they lit the front of the room.

We backed away from the door to debate possible courses of action. Eventually, I granted Donad a holy shield of fire resistance and he charged into the room. The glyph exploded, but Donad barely felt it. We all charged in, and a terrible melee ensued. Finis, Suleiman, and Donad leaped over the ditch, while Blades, Torin, and I dealt with the statue over the bridge (it moved to attack us as soon as we entered).

The defeat was humiliating. A spell caster was lurking in the back of the room, and he or she cast many terrible spells on us. Suleiman searched the darkness for the caster, and saw a man in plate armor, walking on a pool of water in the back of the room. I tried to use a watery fist spell to interrupt his casting, but I could not hit him. A heat metal spell was cast upon Torin, Blades and I--they were forced to remove their armor as they fled. My elven chain was unaffected by the heat metal, so I held off the statue for as long as I could. Donad killed both the dwarf-creatures, but then was struck first by a flamestrike, and then by some kind of spell that broke his leg. Finis tried to help him, but was caught by a hold person spell. Fin appeared to help Finis and Donad escape. Xavier was struck by the same spell as Donad, leaving him with a broken arm, unable to cast spells, so he pounded the statue with the magical force emitted from his ring. Around this time, I shouted for Suleiman to run for help--perhaps Irpolre and his party were nearby. Blades was actually struck down as he fled, but Torin picked him up. Fin surprised us by striking the statue from behind, and it finally crumbled. Karavekus simply stood off to the side through the whole fight. Eventually, we all made it outside.

Once outside, we took stock of the situation. I was the only one not wounded in the fight. Suleiman was off getting help, bravely running through the corridors alone. We used up what spells we had left healing some of our injuries. I used the cure serious wounds scroll to mend Donad's leg. Xavier had a dwarven healing balm, and we used it to repair his arm. We had a few tricks left to use--Torin had the oil of sharpness, and Xavier had a lightning bolt left to cast. We had one rock with continual light cast on it, which we could use to light the back of the room. The first statue had been destroyed, but another one lurked in the darkness towards the back of the room.

We used the last of our magic, and charged back in. I threw the glowing rock to the back of the room, and we could see the man in plate once again. He was standing on the edge of the pool of water, and seemed completely surprised--surely he did not expect us back again so soon after the beating we took. Some of us squared off against the statue, while others charged the priest. Xavier's lightning bolt hit the evil priest, bounced off the wall, and hit him again! Once the dwarves got to him, he didn't last long. After one last hit from Xavier's ring, he went down, and sank into the water. We finished off the statue, and Finis pulled the dead man from the pool, as well as some other items (including some of our own weapons--the dwarves and Donad are constantly dropping their weapons).

What happened next is all a blur, and I'm really starting to get tired, so I'll be brief. Suleiman returned and said that he had found no trace of the other half of our force. We found a laboratory and desk in one corner of the room, and Fin determined that the Priest was making a poison. Part of the poison was in a set of special candles, and the rest was in several casks of honey mead, which lay in this room, awaiting delivery. The poison would be harmless and undetectable until someone both drank the mead and breathed the air from the candle. Xavier told us that the man was Mogrin, a priest of Goibnhiu, thought to be a good man. Piecing together the clues, we found out that Mogrin had been seduced by a Book of Vile Darkness, and had hatched this plot to promote chaos and disorder in the city. He was the man that cast the flame strike by Blaise's house (a note suggests several possibilities there--perhaps he was killing the man who demanded payment for the candles, or perhaps killing the man was payment for the candles).

Also in the room were two statues of orc gods, one of which portrayed the same god whose temple we defiled that first day together. Klegoth Imperium symbols are everywhere around here; this must have been part of a stronghold.

After searching the area and picking up whatever interesting items we could find, we left for the White School Haven, dragging Mogrin's body with us. Mogrin's plate mail had a symbol on it: an anvil and a flaming sword, which is similar to that of Goibhniu, except for the flame around the sword. Blades mentioned that he could remove the symbol and replace it with whatever I wanted, but I like the elven chain too much; it has served me well so far. Besides, plate mail is so heavy!
On the way out of the sewer, Karavekus tried to lead us astray, saying he knew a shortcut. We didn't fall for it, and returned to the path. Karavekus turned invisible, and tried to sneak up on me, to knock me unconscious. However, I was suspicious, and turned just before he struck me. Karavekus tried to run, but Fin ran him through (and happily took his potion of invisibility).

We did not meet Irpolre and his half of the force on our way back to the White Tower. Once there, we dropped Mogrin's body, and set out for the temple district. We visited the priests of Dagda and Goibhniu, and asked that they all come out to hear our announcement. A few listened, but most scoffed at us, staying inside their temples. Xavier sent a runner to the King, and he came back with an order for all the priests, of all the priesthoods to assemble and listen to Xavier. That got them running! Priests came out the woodwork, and Xavier announced that at least one temple had purchased poisoned candles, and possibly poisoned honey mead. It turned out that the priests of Dagda had the poisoned goods, and they quickly destroyed them. The other priests walked away quickly, grumbling about foreigners--why do their gods tolerate such arrogance? Only the priests of Dian c'echt left quietly.

With the mystery finally solved, and the peace restored in the city, we returned to the White Tower for rest (it was well past midnight!). Fin, his job done, said that he must leave. We thanked him, and offered him a pick of the treasure. He picked a flask that was on Mogrin. I offered him my arm (another interesting fact for travelers: Cimbrians greet each other, show respect, and say good bye by clasping forearms). He took it, and mumbled something about us "not being so bad after all". At least one thief doesn't hate us! He warned us that we ought not to come back to town for a while, as the thieves' guild is still thirsty for revenge. We thanked him for his warning, and he went on his way. Donad also left, after we thanked him for his aid (he declined a share of the treasure, as did Xavier).
We did make out rather well tonight; a magic shield, a potion, several scrolls, a stone, a gem, and some coin! Xavier tied up some of the loose ends, explaining the nature of the Book of Vile Darkness, as well as another book we found, entitled Book of Animate Thyngs. Apparently the second book can be used to create all sorts of magical golems, including unusual ones, like rope golems!

Tomorrow we will find out more information about the rest of the items we found, but for now, we are exhausted! Tomorrow is the last day of the festival, and I must be fully alert, to better observe the closing ceremonies. My birthday is in two days, on the 15th. I shall be twenty-two years old. I must say, getting out of this town alive is probably one of the best birthday presents I have ever received! I very much like the people of Duma Faifni, but it is a dangerous place. I suppose the countryside will be no safer, but it will be a change. After all, we are going to a library! That, to me, is worth a dangerous journey.

Thank Prometheus for bringing the light of knowledge to this city, averting a terrible disaster! I knew that he would give us the tools and knowledge necessary to do what was needed. May his flame light the rest of our journey as well!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 10

June 14th
Our morning started with a fine breakfast. We discussed recent events, and the treasures we had recovered. Xavier has told us about some of the items; specifically, the stone and the gem. The stone is very odd; it reacts differently to different people. Whoever holds it may be granted wishes, or, on the other hand, bad luck. Finis has taken possession of it, and we're hoping that it likes him. We argued for quite a while what we should wish for, if it grants the owner a wish. The wish must be made soon, or it will expire unused!

I find the gem intriguing. It has a symbol of knowledge written inside of it (I wonder how that was done!). Xavier says that it will increase both the wit and wisdom of its owner. We are not sure who would get the most use out of such an item, so I am holding on to it for now. Suleiman is considering training with Rinver to become a wizard, so he may be able to use it. On the other hand, it will probably be years before he masters the basics of magic use; in the meantime, Finis and I would both benefit from greater wisdom.

Matrim brought us our freshly washed and dried clothes, and we happily put them on. Matrim, Suleiman and I left to observe the day's festivities, while Torin and Blades went to get Blades' reward (for his victory in the armor-smithing contest). Finis stayed in the tower to do some thinking. While we were out, I stopped by to see Glaucon again, to give him the bone scroll case I had purchased. I was happy to see that he had already hired a guard for the journey.

The Ailechians may appear to be simple farmers and cattle herders, but there is another thing they know how to do very well: throw a party. I thought that the fair had been colorful these last few days; if anything, the streets are even more alive today. We traveled to the town square, where all manners of celebration were taking place. The Ailechians had several contests in the manner of that most unusual sport, jousting (in which two men on horses try to knock each other off by riding at each other, wielding long poles, or "lances"). No less than three parades went by, in as many hours! We heard many samples of that beautiful Ailechian singing--I simply cannot describe it to you. The Cimbrians delight in puppet shows, as well--the best puppeteers made a good deal of money, as people seemed to be freer with their coin today. Suleiman enjoyed watching several games of chance, and Matrim just seemed happy to be out of the tower. I will treasure the memory of this day for years to come. I heartily encourage all travelers to make a stop in Ailech during the festival--you will not regret it!

I overheard a man say something that strikes me as funny; he said that he waited until today to buy things, as merchants will be trying hard to peddle the last of their goods, offering lower prices. How strange that he should think this! If this were the case, that is, if all the merchants were to charge prices too high for the first 13 days of the fair, no one would buy their goods during these days. Then, by the last day everyone would rush to buy at the low prices--but the surge in buying would drive prices up high. Any individual merchant could make a killing by selling at slightly lower prices the first 13 days, while the others wait for the buyers to come on the 14 day. Every merchant would see this opportunity, and jump at it. The result, of course, would be that the buyers try to choose prices that leave them with the perfect amount each day, so that they end up with no goods by the end of the fair, and prices don't jump up and down in between.

A good response to this would be "The merchants might have made a mistake, and charged too high a price on accident--after all, they aren't omniscient! They don't know the perfect price." That's true. But mistakes would be costly, so the merchants have good reason to try to find that perfect price. And suppose they do make a mistake--why should they err on the side of having too many goods left on the 14th? Many merchants might have charged too low a price during the first 13 days, and end up with too little on the 14th! In that case, the man who was looking for a bargain may end up paying higher prices!

Eventually, we tore ourselves away from the festivities, returning to the White Haven for a late lunch. Torin and Blades were there as well, and we were surprised to see that Torin been injured. They said that they had gone to get Blades' reward, but Blades had received a second offer (actually, an offer for an offer) from a man representing Angus McDunmor, the King's Steward. Blades said he wasn't interested, but the man insisted that they at least meet with him to hear the offer. They agreed, but were led into a trap. Once inside a building, eight men attacked them. They managed to beat them off, sending those few remaining fleeing through a secret door. Torin was knocked unconscious during the fight, so Blades grabbed him and crashed through a locked door. Facing two more guards, Blades took one down, and sent the other fleeing. They escaped to the street, and were escorted by Red Branch Knights to the temple of Dian C'echt. The priests healed Torin's wounds for a surprisingly modest fee.

After an excellent lunch, we all headed to get Blades' reward, carrying a chest in which to put it. We picked it up with no trouble, and headed to the priest of Goibhniu, hoping that we could sell some of the items we found on Mogrin. This, in hindsight, was probably a stupid idea, but it turned out all right.

Finis and I remained outside, with Mogrin's plate armor, while the rest went inside with Mogrin's magical mattock. The priests recognized the weapon, and asked why they shouldn't just take it. Suleiman, who has proven himself an excellent smooth-talker, somehow convinced them that we had done them a favor by bringing it back to them! To return the favor, they healed Blades' of his long-standing mental injuries! They were not satisfied with only the mattock, however--they took his plate armor as well, and made us promise never to speak of the incident with anyone. I've already spoken of it to you, so I suppose I've broken my promise. I don't suppose it will do any harm, though; I doubt they care what people an entire continent away think of them. Besides, I have a duty to Prometheus and His church first.

Blades is finally healed! He suddenly recalled and understood many of the jokes we had made at his expense since the injury, and at first seemed a little put out. Soon enough, though, we were all laughing about the whole matter. These are, on the whole, fine fellows I travel with! I am glad to have Blades back to his normal wit--he is really quite a clever fellow, when at his best!

We ran a few more errands. The dwarves placed orders for plate armor, to be picked up in a couple months. As we were a little confused about our transportation and equipment arrangements, we went to see Rinver. He answered our questions, and we went to buy some food, tents, and some patches with our new party symbol on it (A black circle with five triangles, each of a different color, pointing away from a white spot in the middle). Finally, we went to the closing ceremonies, presided over by the King. It was more like a final party than a ceremony, and we joined in the singing and dancing. Many awards were handed out, including one for "best quilt". The winner was announced as a member of the Cithach Tuatha, the clan of my mother! I followed her after she accepted her prize, and congratulated her. She was, of course, completely surprised, and even more so when I explained that my mother was from her clan. Her name was Molly, and although she was of the MacFennan family (my mother is a MacMorna), she knew several of my mother's relatives. She agreed to deliver a message to my mother's family. My mother will be delighted to hear of this!

Our busy day done, we returned to the tower, where Xavier told us that he had more information regarding Mogrin: Mogrin had a co-conspirator. Xavier knew nothing about him, except that Mogrin called him "one". Also, Mogrin did not summon the Hordling; "one", or one of his minions, did. The priests of Goibhniu learned all of this by casting Speak with Dead on Mogrin, and forcing him to answer their questions. On a whim, I asked Xavier about Magnas Dumas. Xavier said that he was a Baron in the third century--and not a very nice person. Xavier also told us that Fin had managed to get a moratorium on the thieves' guild's order to kill us. Finally, he gave us a gold token with a symbol on it, telling us that we will be recognized as friends by members of the White School if we show them the token.
At this point, there was a knock at the door. We all went to answer it, and standing in the doorway was one of the men that had attacked Blades and Torin earlier that day! Of course, only Blades and Torin recognized him. He said that he came to offer Blades a job with Angus McDunmor--again! He said the previous conflict had just been a "misunderstanding"! We tried to explain that Blades wasn't interested, but the man couldn't seem to understand that someone would turn Angus McDunmor down. Finally, Torin shouted at the man and slammed the door in his face. I hope that's the end of this nonsense!

Finis used his wish after the man left. At least, we hope he used a wish. I suppose we won't know if it works until one of us is killed, because of the nature of the wish: Finis wished that the next one of us to die would be instantly restored to full health. As soon as he was done with the wish, the rock grew warm, and changed into a diamond. I hope that's a good thing.

We decided to go to bed early, as we have a busy day ahead of us, and we must pick up our sewn patches and meet Rinver early in the morning. I am glad that this last day has been a pleasant one; I do not want to leave the town remembering only danger and deceit.

June 15th
Happy birthday to me! We woke up early, as planned. After saying our farewells, and leaving some gold at the tower (carrying hundreds of gold pieces around is not wise), we set out to pick up our patches, and meet with Rinver.

Rinver was waiting for us outside the inn, with our transportation (some mediocre quality horses and a cart) ready. He asked who our leader was, and before the rest of us could say anything, Torin boldly proclaimed "I am!" We started to protest, but Rinver cut us off, and handed a scroll to Torin. Inside were instructions about what to do if Rinver should die during our journey; how to dispose of the body, etc. Of course, we agreed to follow the instructions, and began our trip out of the city.
Near the gates, we were surprised to find Balstead waiting to bid us farewell. I gave him a small amount of coin to invest while I am gone, and I promised to come back to check on him. We all wished him good luck, and soon Duma Faifni was at our backs.

The journey away is almost as filled with revelry as the fair itself was; bards and singers fill the journey with stories and music. We spent a good deal of time familiarizing ourselves with Rinver's abilities (and he with ours), so that we might be more effective as a team. Also, Finis warned us that we were going to have to stop on the twenty-first, as that is the Summer Solstice, and it is a holy day he must observe.

We are now resting in a pleasant, merry camp. The singing is beginning to die down. Suleiman has surprised me; I must have let slip somehow that today is my birthday. He bought me a bottle of wine, and we shared it together. It is good to have such friends.

June 16th
Yet another joyous day was spent in travel. The caravan slowly thinned throughout the day, as people split off to go to their own cities, towns, and tuathas. The return to the empty, rolling hills of the countryside is bringing back bad memories of orcs and caterwals. I hope that the Orinbar Mountains will be a change for the better.

The day has mostly been uneventful. We will soon reach Crossing.

Suleiman has decided to start training under Rinver as an apprentice. At first, he was leery of apprenticeship, as he does not like servitude--and being an apprentice requires submission to authority. However, he decided that he could live with the minor impositions Rinver would make on him. Rinver has been exercising his mind with simple recitations and math problems. I find it all very interesting.

June 17th
As Rinver predicted, we reached Crossing late in the morning. Rinver asked if we could stop for the day, as he has people to see here. We agreed, although I don't look forward to staying in this smoky, dirty, and foul-smelling town. Our inn is the Black Ox, and it is clean enough, I suppose.

Suleiman, Blades, and I went for a walk around town. It is very active, although it is difficult to tell if the town is always like this, or if the activity is merely spillover from the festival.

While walking near the docks, we heard cries for help coming from an alley. Blades and I charged ahead, while Suleiman followed behind us, covering our back (we have become very wary of traps lately). The alley was almost completely dark, but we could make out an old man being beaten by several ruffians. After a brief fright, we sent the bullies running, and bandaged the old man.

The old man was a fortune-teller (Of course, he was probably a charlatan, not a true seer, unlike our Ionian Oracles), and one of the men beating him had not liked the fortune the old man had told him. He said that he would read our fortunes to reward us for saving him; I declined, but Blades and Suleiman were interested. He told Blades "The hand that brings order to the elements brings only discord to the hearts of men." That's a fairly safe thing to say of a dwarven fighter, especially one that looks as much like an armor-smith as Blades does! When he looked at Suleiman, he became hysterical, shouting that he saw darkness, and he ran back into the house.

Suleiman seems somewhat disturbed by this incident, but I'm sure it's just an old man's confusion, and nothing to worry about. We retired to the inn to get some rest.

June 18th
Rinver has told Torin that our next destination is Genyrthus. Torin's supposed "leadership" is beginning to get a little annoying. It's also a little funny, so I guess we'll put up with it for a while.

We reached the River Callin by midday, and took a ferry across. We met another adventuring group while crossing, called the "Iron Strikers". Once on the other side, we found that we were going the same direction, so we began riding together. Eventually, the conversation seemed to escalate into a "we've killed bigger monsters than you" contest, and they challenged us to a test of bravery.

Of course, this is all total silliness. I don't have to prove anything to anyone, but this kind of thing is important to the dwarves. And given the nature of their challenge, I wasn't about to let the dwarves try it alone. The Ironstrikers told us that there is a graveyard up the trail, and it is said to be haunted. We were to enter the graveyard at opposite sides, and meet in the middle, destroying whatever opposition was in our path. Whoever destroyed the greatest undead wins. That fact that undead are an abomination made me even more eager to join in this hunt.

By the time we reached the graveyard, night was falling, but the moon had not yet risen. Rinver offered to stay behind and guard the horses. We entered the graveyard from the north, using a lantern as our only source of light. We were soon set upon by several of the undead known as "wights". They fled before the holy wrath of Prometheus. At first, the others were disappointed that I took away an opportunity to fight the creatures. When they learned of the life-draining nature of the creatures, they were not so eager to fight them anymore. We started forward again, realizing that the Ironstrikers were probably in over their heads.
Sure enough, we soon heard shouting and cries for help. We ran ahead. Only two of the members of their party were left standing, set upon by many wights. Prometheus again turned them away, and we tended to their wounded. One of them could be healed, but the other, named Vindicis, was very, very cold. As we examined him, his skin split open, revealing talons, and fangs emerged from his jaw. I quickly tried to smash him with the warhammer, but I was not fast enough. Then the other wights renewed their attack, as I had stopped keeping them at bay to tend the wounded. Again I turned them, but not Vindicis. The others desperately attacked Vindicis before he could drain life from one of us, and we quickly took him down. Shivering with fear, we ran back to the camp as fast as we could.

I am having a hard time sleeping after that close call. I think that the remainder of the Ironstrikers have learned a lesson about boasting and challenges. I hope that we have learned it as well. Humility can be a painful lesson.

June 19th
We set off again. The ground is beginning to slope up, as the hills turn into the feet of mountains. It has been a quiet day of travel, and the pensive Ironstrikers are still with us. We have made camp by a small copse of trees.

June 20th
The wind is coming from the south today, as we enter the switch backs of the Orinbar Mountains. The roads are becoming difficult to navigate. One of the wheels on the cart broke, and Finis managed to fashion a makeshift repair to the cracked spoke using some twigs. Rinver tells us (well, he tells Torin, actually) that the Genyrthus is still several days away.

Other than the problems with the cart, the day has been pretty dull.

June 21st
Today is the Summer Solstice, the day that the planet receives the greatest amount of daylight. It is a cloudy day, but without rain.

Finis had us stop just before noon, so that he could perform a ceremony. He invited us to take part. I, of course, declined. Finis seemed a little surprised, and said "Do you not call your god the light-bringer? Do you not wish to celebrate this day when Ermoon receives the most light?" Finis apparently thinks Prometheus is some kind of sun god, like Helios. The light we refer to, of course, is the light of the gift of flame He brought us, as well as the symbolic representation of knowledge. Prometheus lights our way with truth and wisdom, not the sun.

I must explain the distinction to Finis sometime.

Rinver wanted to watch the ceremony, but Finis said that if we do not participate, we must leave the area until it is over. Rinver and I went into some trees a short distance from the horses, while the others participated in the ceremony. I began a long prayer of thanks, as is our tradition.

The rest of the day was passed in rest, which is good, as I fasted today, and strenuous exercise might be dangerous in my weakened condition.

June 22nd
Nothing significant happened today, except that, in late afternoon, we heard the sound of falling water growing louder and louder. There must be a very large waterfall nearby.

June 23rd
We have finally reached Genythus, a fine dwarven town. The well-crafted stone walls are thirty feet high. In fact, all the buildings here are imposing and the stonework is wonderful. Only a few humans are about, and there is only one inn that accommodates "tall folk", the Sleepy Giant. The only other occupants of the Inn are mercenaries and merchants.

After buying some rations, we all retired to the Inn for some well-earned rest. Suleiman and Rinver continued their training process, and I tried to listen in. The quizzes are becoming to difficult for me to follow, although I have noticed that my recall and understanding have been improving very slightly--possibly due to the magical gem.

Tomorrow we will set out for Tesplyn's Grove, another Dwarven town. Finis likes the name, for obvious reasons. The journey should take about a week.

June 24th
The Iron Strikers headed north today, restoring our party to six. We are heading east, mostly. The day was happily uneventful. It is starting to get a little cooler as we climb in altitude, but it is Spring, so the temperature is not uncomfortable.

June 25th
Yet another unremarkable day has passed. I've actually become rather proficient at napping while riding in the wagon, even though the road is very rough. Also, I've been trying to practice my dwarven and elvish, based on what I've heard Torin and Blades say, and the little bit of Elvish I've heard out of Suleiman (he speaks Elvish, although I'm not sure where he learned it). I've only learned a few phrases so far; maybe I can get Suleiman to teach me some more.

June 26th
Our peaceful journey was twice interrupted today. Shortly after lunch we came to a bridge crossing a chasm. Sitting on the bridge was a large creature with a lion's body, bat's wings, and human head. We have come to know these beasts as "Manticores" (we fought one last month, if you will recall). As soon as it saw us, it took to the air, flinging metal spikes at us from its barbed tail. We were struck several times, but we struck it as well. Rinver's magic missiles proved dramatically effective; the creature was injured and forced to land. It did not last long in melee combat, but Finis damaged his magical druidic staff while fighting it--I hope it can be repaired!

At nightfall we camped, our travels since the manticore attack having been without incident. While encamped, one of our horses screamed (an unsettling sound!). We turned to see two giant, green skinned humanoids with dark, empty spaces in place of eyes, trying to drag its carcass into the trees. We couldn't let them get away with that, of course, and we attacked them viciously. The creatures seemed to quickly heal damaged body parts, confirming my suspicion--these were trolls. The fiends were defeated quickly, thanks to our flameblades (Finis and I can both cast the spell). The fire prevented them from regenerating the damaged body parts.
We went to find the Troll lair, leaving Rinver and Suleiman at the camp. The trail was pretty easy to follow, and we soon found their cave. We decided to investigate their lair in the morning. It has been a peaceful night so far, and I now end my watch.

June 27th
Our first task of the morning was to defeat any remaining trolls in the lair. We found the lair again; it was very easy, as the path had been traveled many times recently. A dwarf's skull, wearing a rotted helm, sat in the doorway. Hiding at the edge of the trees, we made our plan. Suleiman fired a flaming arrow into the cave, and a troll soon came out, looking around. We waited, and two more trolls slowly ambled out.

As soon as they were together, Rinver cast a fireball on them--it was a sight to behold! The explosion of flame was tremendous, and took the trolls totally by surprise. As soon as the fireball ended, Finis threw what appeared to be a mushroom at them. It erupted into a cloud when it hit the ground, leaving one of the Trolls choking and struggling for breath. We gave them no time to recover, as we charged into battle. Rinver sent magic missiles flying at them, and with Blades and Torin swinging like mad, the trolls soon fell. After setting them ablaze, we slowly moved into the cave. The remains of animals and travelers were scattered around the filthy hole; I could scarcely breathe. In the very back of the cave we found a pile of gold, bronze, gems, and a few other items. There was a jar of that healing goo (it seems to be relatively common in these parts), and a strange ten-sided zircon gem. One of the sides had its edges worn smooth. Suleiman tried rubbing the gem, and several images of him sprung into existence around him. It was difficult to tell which was the real Suleiman. Torin tried punching an image, and it disappeared (thankfully, it was not the real Suleiman!). This is indeed a useful magic item; however, after rubbing it, another of the sides was worn smooth. Only eight uses of it are left.

After returning to camp to make sure we left nothing behind, we resumed our journey. In the late afternoon we spotted several giant eagles circling overhead. They soon flew away. I have heard conflicting rumors regarding these creatures; some say that they are a noble race of intelligent birds, while others say they are nothing more than large, cruel hunters. I'm hoping for the former.

As I write this at our campsite, the borealis shines brightly overhead. It is difficult to describe this unusual phenomenon; it is like a curtain of shimmering light. I wish that you could see it. The night is very quiet; it is very beautiful here. I think that if I had to choose a place to live in Ailech, I would choose the mountains. It is a rough, dangerous place, but that is part of its beauty.

June 29th
Today's travel was pleasant, except for a disturbing sight early in the morning. Soon after we got underway we came upon the scene of a battle. Broken goblin bodies lay strewn everywhere--across the road, in the bushes, backed up against the trees. A variety of weapons had been used on them, although we suspected that this was probably dwarvish work. Only the flies seemed to be able to stand the taste of goblin flesh; no animals or other insects had disturbed the corpses. We resumed our journey as quickly as possible.

By late afternoon we could hear bells ringing in the distance. They continued for quite a while. We made camp by a large pile of rocks, looking down on the path behind us. We have come a long way in two weeks, and the time has flown by.

June 30th
We finally reached the dwarven mining town of Tesplyn's Grove soon after stopping for dinner. Finis was pleased to find that this town has many trees scattered around it. Two large bell towers were the source of the ringing we heard yesterday, and they rang today as well, although it is not clear why. A small river flows by the town, and several smelting buildings are built around it.

An inn called the One-eyed Crow is our home for the night. It is owned and run by dwarves. It is actually quite cozy; despite the fact that it was designed for smaller folk, I feel comfortable. We have been relaxing and resting for the remainder of the day. Our horses are tired from the journey, especially since we had to redistribute the weight that the horse killed by the trolls was carrying. I am glad that they have a chance to rest as well. I doubt that their dinner was as fine as our roast pheasant, though.

While resting in the common room, two dwarves approached us dressed in hunting clothes and leather armor. They announced themselves as Amar and Colby, from Breckenswan. Breckenswan is a small town about half a day from here, and the ducks that visit the nearby swamp in the spring and summer are the town's main source of income. Amar and Colby tell us that there were less ducks than usual last year, and almost none this year. The livelihood of their village is threatened, and they want us to investigate, to find what is killing or frightening off the ducks.

Of course, we could not turn them down. First we asked Rinver if we could temporarily leave his employ to help them; he agreed. He is not sure whether he wants to come himself or not.

It is late at night now, so we will go to Breckenswan in the morning. I think that tomorrow will be a long day; I am off to bed to ensure that I get enough rest.
------------------
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 11

July 1st
I'm writing to you from the depths of a swamp. We could be resting comfortably in Breckenswan, but Blades wanted to spend the night here, in case something happened. In fact, a great deal has happened tonight, but we have done nothing to solve the mystery of the dwindling ducks.

Our day started with a warm breakfast and a chat with the innkeeper, while we waited for Colby and Amar to come to the Inn. The innkeeper told of us a creature named Screech, a dragonne, who seems to be a self-appointed guardian of this area. Apparently, a dragonne is a huge bronze dragon-like creature, with a lion's head. We heard the sound of something huge flying overhead several days ago, so I suppose it must have been Screech.

We asked the innkeeper about a few other things. He told us that Tesplyn was a druid who kept a grove around here. He did not seem to know much about Breckenswan, except that the Tucker clan lives there, catching fish and hunting ducks and Hibernian geese.

Blades grew tired of the conversation, and went to talk to the local armorsmith. Colby and Amar showed up soon afterward, so we went to get Blades. Somehow, Blades had infuriated the Blacksmith--apparently he felt that Blades was wasting his talents by adventuring. Blades tried to explain his situation, but only succeeded in aggravating the armorer.

On the way to Breckenswamp we found out a few more things about the area. This whole side of the valley is protected by a "thorn wall", erected by Tesplyn long ago (Tesplyn has not been seen in centuries). Also, the inhabitants of Breckenswan have long lived in terror of traveling the swamp at night, as a creature they've named "Blackjack" lurks there, killing unfortunate dwarves. Ogres have also been seen there. However, these creatures are not likely to be responsible for the missing ducks and geese, as they've been around for a long time, but the birds only started disappearing last year.

We finally arrived at the swamp. There were many birds, but no signs of ducks or Hibernian geese. Although we tried to stay on the land, the water is only two or three feet deep, so it was not difficult to traverse. More dwarves soon brought canoes, and we quickly made our way to the nesting ground of the few remaining water fowl (Suleiman used his ring of water walking, which impressed the dwarves very much).

Finis cast several spells and tried to communicate with the ducks. Meanwhile, Torin searched the muddy ground for tracks, and found an unusual footprint, which no one could identify. After a lengthy conversation, Finis returned with some information: The ducks are being attacked at night by four legged green things at night, which come out of the water. We discussed this, and then Finis continued talking with them. After a while he seemed to learn everything he could from the ducks, so we went to talk to the geese. From what the birds say, it sounds as though some sort of giant frogs (between 2 and four feet tall) are attacking the birds at night, and they have only been here for a year or so.

We wanted to get a better idea of what we were up against, so we planned a trap for the frogs. I set torches around the nests, and we went to hide in a small stand of trees. Suleiman climbed a tall oak that grew from the water just a few feet from our island. Most of the dwarves went back to their village, but some of them stayed with us, armed with bows and arrows. I hope that they are better warriors than they seem; they nearly jump out of their boots at the slightest sound. The mere suggestion that Blackjack might pay a visit sets their teeth chattering.

Nothing happened for a long time. Then Torin cried out in pain, as some creature struck him from behind. I began to cast lamplighter to light all the torches, but before Torin or anyone else could react or get a good look, the creature slid back into the water. We soon heard Suleiman cry out, as the creature leaped out of the water at him. It struck a glancing blow, but Suleiman climbed out of its reach. Torin and Blades charged, and struck it a few painful blows. The creature again returned to the water, but Finis cast faerie fire on it, and we quickly gave chase. It led us on a grand circle around the swamp, and finally back toward the duck island. Finis and I, being faster than the dwarves, reached the island first. We decided to stop chasing Blackjack, as he was too fast for us in the water.

Finis and I went to find the Tucker clan dwarves that were still hidden in the trees on the island. As soon as we stepped toward the trees, however, three huge ogres stepped into the torch light! We retreated to the water's edge, calling for Torin and Blades to come help. Suleiman remained hidden in his oak tree.

The fight was terrible; I was nearly sent flying by an Ogre, but I stood my ground. Suleiman surprised us all by striking an Ogre with a spell; apparently he is learning more quickly than Rinver suspects. Finis blanketed the area in fog with an obscurement spell, and we tried to lose ourselves in it. The ogres fumbled around for us, but could not strike us down before the dwarves arrived. Torin and Blades made short work of those Ogres; the poor fools never stood a chance.

Of course, at this point, the only creatures in the area were the ducks, the Tucker clan dwarves (who had successfully hidden from the Ogres), and us. All the other swamp animals had fled from all the noise and fighting. It was unlikely that anything was going to hunt the ducks tonight, so we prepared to return to the village. As we rowed away from the island we realized that Blades had stayed behind. At this point we engaged in a lengthy, shouted argument with Blades. He wanted to stay to see if anything else would come by. We tried to point out that this was silly; Blackjack was badly injured, and no animal would come near the scene of the fight for a while. Nonetheless, Blades, stubborn as always, refused to leave.

None of us wanted to simply leave him here, so we stayed as well (except for Suleiman, who was injured and quite exhausted by the spell casting). After tending to our wounds, we set up camp, and here we are. Of course, nothing has come near the island. We will try again tomorrow.

July 2nd
Suleiman and the Breckenswan dwarves brought us a warm breakfast this morning. After eating, we tried to track the ogres. Amar, with the wisdom of Prometheus, managed to find some tracks, and we followed them to an island deep in the swamp. All the trees on the island were smashed to the ground, and the opening of a cave was clearly visible. Nothing lay inside except junk: a rusted sword, broken helmet, battered plate, and a flagon. We returned it to the dwarves (although Torin kept the flagon).

At nightfall we tried our same trick again, although we moved to the goose island this time. It was much more effective this time. We waited in darkness until a goose honked in alarm. Again, I cast lamplighter, and the island was lit by torches. We were shocked to see more than twenty large frogs crawling out of the water, attacking the geese. Finis lit several of them with Faerie Fire spells, and the dwarves waded into their midst, sending frogs flying.

The frogs are vicious creatures; they have unusually sharp teeth, long claws, and absolutely no fear. They seem rabid; something strange was done to these beasts. Many of them stopped fighting us to eat their fallen comrades. Although they were not very tough, many of us were gravely wounded during the fight. Nonetheless, when several of the creatures had gorged themselves on other frogs, we followed them back to their breeding ground (thanks to another one of Finis' faerie fire spells).

Along the way, Blackjack paid us another visit. He erupted from the water beside the dwarves, and viciously attacked. I summoned a watery fist, and struck the creature soundly in the side. Then Torin, swearing revenge for last night's attack, lunged forward with his battleaxes. Blackjack could do nothing but look stunned as Torin's first swing tore him open from foot to head. I used the Watery Fist to nudge the corpse onto an island, and we continued our pursuit of the four remaining frogs.

Suleiman was the only one close to them now, as Finis and I had stopped to make sure the dwarves were all right. We followed Suleiman's bobbing torch to a large pool that looked deeper than the others. The frogs stopped in the middle of the pool, floating motionless. As an experiment, I threw some of our rations into the water near them. Something popped up from under the water and swallowed the food. More experimentation revealed that there were huge tadpoles under this pool. We fired arrows and threw rocks at the four frogs until they sank beneath the water. Finally, we returned to the village, after placing a marker beside the large pool, and loading Blackjack's body onto a boat.

The dwarves of Breckenswan, of course, were overjoyed. I must say, I was impressed as well; we had solved their Blackjack problem, their Ogre problem, and their duck mystery in two days. The dwarves say that they think Blackjack was a Babbler, so named for the gibbering sound they sometimes make. We got a better look at the body in the day time; Babblers are huge, reptilian creatures, like crocodiles that can stand upright.

We recommended to the dwarves that they drain the tadpole pool if they can; they replied that they would get started on it right away. In the meanwhile, we are being treated as their honored guests. I'm looking forward to a comfortable rest in a warm bed. Tomorrow we will return to Tesplyn's Grove.

July 3rd
It has been a hell of a day; and I do mean that literally. We took a large risk, succeeded, and it has paid off handsomely. I hope that I succeed in bringing some of my share of the treasure back to the temple; we will be able to afford all those renovations we have been putting off, in addition to starting many new education programs.

The first thing we saw upon returning to Tesplyn's Grove was the Dragonne, Screech, pacing back and forth across the streets in the center of town. Rinver ran over to us, telling us that the townsfolk have found out that Screech is a female, who recently lost her mate. She moved her eggs to new lair, but they have somehow "fallen below the lair", although he was not sure what that meant. Dwarves were running around in a panic, and standing around arguing feverishly.

Torin took charge of the situation, and asked a group of dwarves what exactly was going on. After some further questioning, the confusion was cleared up. Screech's lair was high in a mountain cave. She left the cave, and her eggs, for a brief period of time, and returned to find her eggs missing, and a tunnel under her nest, leading down into the mountain. She flew to the town, where priests translated for her. A group of dwarves got together to explore the tunnel, and she took them to her cave. Only one dwarf returned, and that dwarf didn't go down the passage. The others went down the passage, but there was a flash of light, screams, and they never returned.

The dwarves said that they were offering 1,500 gold to whoever returned Screech's eggs! We were actually more interested in having Screech fly us part of the way to our destination, but gold sounded good too. We accepted the offer (even Rinver wanted to go!), and soon climbed aboard Screech's back. The dwarves had fitted her with a harness, and she carried us all effortlessly.

Flying to Screech's mountain was exhilarating. I've never flown before, although I had heard it described by others (mostly mages). Everything looks so small, and you realize what a small distance you've traveled on foot--and how far you have to go. Nonetheless, the view is beautiful. Rinver pointed out the Dragon River, which we were planning to follow.

After nearly an hour of flying, we approached a peak. A cavern opening could barely be seen on the side of the mountain, and Screech headed straight for it. Once inside, we began our investigation. The only sign that anything was amiss was the tunnel heading at about a forty-five degree angle, down into the heart of the mountain. The rope that the dwarves had used to aid their descent was still stretched down to the opening at the bottom. We could see only darkness at the end, so Rinver cast invisibility on Blades. Because we could feel incredible heat emanating from whatever underground passageways lay below, I cast endure heat on him as well.

Blades quickly scrambled down the tunnel, had a look around, and came back up. He said that it was indeed hot down there. He had seen a small, naked man, lit by flames, run into the room, carrying a dragon's egg. He had stopped to look around, missed Blades (because he was invisible), and continued out of the room through another passage.

Rinver suggested that the little man was probably a "Magman", and that an entrance to the Elemental Plane of Fire likely lay below. Those of us wearing metal armor would find movement, especially combat, very taxing. I cast endure heat on Torin and myself, Rinver cast invisibility on Suleiman, and we all headed down.

What followed was a lengthy chase through winding passageways that I will not describe in all of its dull detail. Several pools of lava dotted the tunnels. We ended up fighting many of the Magmen, as they were the ones that had stolen and hidden the eggs. They tried to set us ablaze, but the endure heats protected us until I could cast no more. We ran into several other creatures there as well, including a curious "firebear" (which simply watched us), firebats, firesnakes, and a flaming skeletal man, who shot fire from his hands. Whenever we found an egg, Suleiman (who remained invisible) would run it up to the Dragonne, who waited above. At one point, Rinver disposed of several Magmen at once by casting an ice wall off of a scroll, in the air above them. He also saved my life from one of the firebats, by striking it with magic missiles as it tried to suck the blood from my body.

Blades bravely risked his life searching a room with an unstable ceiling; it collapsed as he moved stones around, looking for an egg. He managed to find the egg, throw it to Finis, and stumble through the falling rocks before the room crashed down. Finally, we killed the firesnakes to get the last egg. On the way out, a giant flaming earthworm tried to make a meal of Blades, but we ran for the tunnel and escaped.

Six of the seven eggs were returned intact. One egg had been turned black by something the Magmen had done to it. Despite the loss of one egg, Screech was very happy (we could tell because she started purring and licked us). Suleiman revealed two rubies that he found. One was rather plain, but the other burned with a fire inside, as if it had a piece of the elemental plane of fire in it.

Screech carried us back to town in the early evening, and quickly flew back to her nest. The dwarves took us back to the One-Eyed Crow, where Suleiman told the story in his quickly-improving Dwarvish. The dwarves bought us drinks, and happily paid us our 1,500 gold. A dwarf named Hubert said that he'll ring the bells for Screech tomorrow, and we'll see if she will give carry us part of the way toward our goal. We retired to the inn for a well-deserved rest. Poor Torin's endure heat spell wore off (and I exhausted my ability to channel power) before we got out of the tunnels, and I think he nearly fainted due to heat exhaustion.

I think I can say that we have made great steps lately in our party's abilities; Suleiman is quickly becoming a skilled magic-user; my ability to channel the holy fire grows, Finis' connection with nature grows stronger, and the dwarves are deadlier than ever. I'm even beginning to understand the dwarvish tongue. The name of the Pentachromata seems to be slowly spreading. Whether that is good or bad, only time will tell. I like to think that it is good.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 12

July 4th
Today was a day of exploration. After another hearty breakfast, Torin and Suleiman headed to the jeweler to change our coins into gems. It occurred to Finis and I that we ought to find out if those rubies we found are magical, in case Torin or Suleiman decide to sell them. We soon caught up with them, and a quick check revealed that the bright ruby does indeed appear to be enchanted in some way, although it has a curious dweomer. After changing our coins, we returned to the inn.
Afternoon came, and Screech did not. Hubert told us that she probably was not coming today, so we decided to investigate the druid's grove. It was only a three hour walk or so, down a trail which wound its way through an apple orchard and some fields. The grove itself was surrounded with tall granite pillars, with mysterious symbols on them. One of them was that of the nature god whose hidden temple we found while fleeing from the orcs. Suleiman, Rinver, and I stayed out of the grove, while the dwarves and Finis investigated. After a look around, Finis said that he would stay there. Torin also wanted to stay. The rest of us returned here to the inn, arriving at dusk. Finis and Torin said they will return in the morning, and we'll see if Screech shows up.

July 5th
Finis and Torin returned as planned, and Finis has fixed his staff. They say that nothing exciting happened while they were there, although they seem a little secretive about it. Finis has expressed a desire to stay and restore the grove to its former glory; we implored him to stay with us so that we might finish our assigned task first. He agreed.

Shortly before lunch, Screech arrived in town. Hubert spoke to her by clutching a magical stone, and she agreed to carry us to the river. We made arrangements to leave immediately, including the sale of our horses (we got a pretty bad deal on them, since dwarves don't ride horses). Our stout dwarven pony will be cared for by the Tucker clan, as Screech cannot carry him.

After another exhilarating four hour ride through the air, Screech brought us close to the ruins of a town by the river. We asked her (through Hubert, who had come with us) to land a safe distance away, and went to investigate. The town's walls seemed to have been blown over by some incredible gale, but they had been blown in different directions--I suggested that a dragon might have done this by beating its wings; I have heard they can create incredible wind gusts this way.

While investigating the ruins we were attacked by several gargoyles, which are ugly, demon-shaped flying creatures with horned heads. It was a rough fight, but we (barely) came out victorious, thanks to the dwarves and an incredible blow by Finis; apparently, his staff is back in perfect working order. Unfortunately, Rinver and I were knocked unconscious during the fight, so we are incapable of casting spells for the rest of the day, due to our wooziness.

Suleiman went to tell Screech to leave, and soon she flew overhead, with Hubert waving to us from her back. We waved back, and watched her soar off toward the mountains. I wish all of our journey could be so swift.

Further investigations of the town revealed that the inhabitants were all dwarves; their skeletons lay scattered about. They showed no signs of battle injury, which again suggested that the green dragon (of which we had heard rumors, and had been offered a job to destroy, if you will recall) had attacked the town with its poisonous breath.

Several usable boats lay in a building by the docks. After Finis performed some repairs, we have managed to scrape together two kayaks, two canoes, and one rowboat. Rinver says that Prolingmur is the next city, and it is one week down the river.

We camp by the boats tonight; tomorrow, we will begin our river journey.

July 6th
I feel much better after a night of rest. We have decided on our boating arrangement: Torin and I in one canoe, Finis and Suleiman in the other, and Rinver and Blades in the rowboat, along with most of our supplies (the rowboat is the most stable of the boats, and is thus less likely to capsize, spilling its contents into the river).

After a couple of hours of struggling, we are getting used to the boats. We have made arrangements should trouble arrive; we shall all head to the right, or west, bank of the river. Fortunately, today's travels were uneventful.

I estimate that we traveled twenty six miles today. Finis caught some fish for dinner, while Suleiman and I scouted downstream from our camp. The river slows somewhat ahead; no matter. This is still faster than land travel.

I have concealed our campfire with dark fire, so that we might cook our fish without attracting all the local wildlife. I hope that catching food along the way will allow us to extend our rations. We should have more than enough food to reach Prolingmur, where we can purchase more provisions.

July 7th
Soon after starting our journey we saw the most unusual creature drinking at the water's edge. It looked like a large, gangly, ugly deer, with huge, thick antlers. Finis tells me that it is called a "moose".

Around lunchtime we came upon a large stone head protruding from the water; it was the top of a statue of a dwarf. The portion of the statue underwater was holding a large shield. On the shield was a symbol: a mace with a large ingot on it. No one was familiar with the clan it represented.

When it came time to camp, Finis spotted a giant crayfish. We decided to find another campsite. Another suitable spot was just a short distance down stream. We made camp, but the crayfish followed us. After attempting to lure the crustacean into the dark fire failed, Blades and Torin charged it, and we soon had more food than we knew what to do with. Our bellies full, we lay down for the night.

July 8th
A mist lay over the water this morning, lending a mystic quality to the already beautiful scenery. The river widened soon after we set out, slowing the river even more. Around lunchtime we spotted an incredible sight under the water--a town! It seems that this river bed was not always underwater. Nothing but fish live there now.

A curious white marble dome lay in the middle of the town. A detect magic revealed that it is somehow enchanted; perhaps it is a temple. Finis wanted to swim down and check it out, so I cast endure cold on him so that the cold water would not cause cramps. He cast water breathing on himself, we tied a rope around his waist, and he jumped in. Finis used his ring of water walking to stand on the water above him, holding the rope. After a quick search of the town revealed nothing interesting, Finis tried knocking on the door. Those of us on the surface were shaken by a huge roar, coming from far, far downstream. Alarmed, we pulled Finis up and tried to put some distance between the town and ourselves.

A huge gar (a very ugly, inedible local fish) surprised us, biting Finis and Suleiman's canoe in half. It then nearly bit Finis in half, but Blades and Torin managed to kill it. I estimate the fish to be twenty-five feet long! Fortunately, we have been dragging the kayaks behind in case of just such an emergency, so we still have sufficient transportation.

While camped tonight, Finis found a local berry called "Heaven's Gift", which has the curious property of bubbling when placed in water. They are also good to eat, so we have picked some.

July 9th
A huge bear watched us from the shore as we set out this morning. It seemed as curious about us as we were about it. The river narrowed some, but widened into a loch in the afternoon. We made camp on an island in the middle of the river.

Torin spotted a light coming from an island downstream. It doesn't seem to get any closer; it is an odd, gray, cold light. After about an hour, it brightened, then went out. We all plan to be extra vigilant on watch tonight.

July 10th
For the second time since coming to this continent, I have lost a friend and traveling companion. Today, it was Rinver, and his loss was pointless and frustrating. It was as if the gods themselves decided to visit some random tragedy upon us. Unlike Taelsyn's death, which we could have prevented, we could do nothing to save Rinver. Now, we are without maps, without a guide, without a wizard, and without an employer. Most importantly, we are without a friend.

As the river's current is almost nonexistent here, we paddled downstream to the island from which the light emanated. A tower stood on a hill in the middle, and some kind of glass apparatus could be seen in a window. A single rowboat was tied to the dock, and a path led up toward the tower. I have seen a lighthouse before, and this is not a lighthouse.

A brief search for tracks revealed huge, fresh claw prints in the moss. Torin estimates that it is reptilian, and that the creature who made it is bigger than Screech. The tracks lead away from the island, into the water.

We headed up the path, toward the tower. A small stone building with a thatch roof was next to the tower. A stone arch stood on the opposite side from the stone building. Four carefully trimmed trees lined the path to the tower's door. We examined the arch; it was covered with mathematical and wizardly symbols. Looking through the arch was difficult; the trees on the other side appeared hazy. The gray beam of light shone from the window above, directly into the arch. Rinver and I examined the runes on the arch, and concluded that it is some kind of portal through both space and time. In other words, it was better left alone.

Unfortunately, extra-planar creatures would not leave us alone. As we went to investigate the stone hut, a large insect-like, bipedal creature materialized out of thin air directly behind Rinver. It instantly knocked Rinver unconscious and grabbed him. We tried to hit it, and succeeded a couple of times, but we did not have enough time. There was no way in the world for us to defeat this monster; it was too fast. We didn't stand a chance. It disappeared with Rinver. Hoping that some clue to where they might have gone might be lying around the tower or the stone hut next to it, we quickly began an exploration of the area. A quick casting of locate object revealed that Rinver (or at least, the backpack he was wearing when he disappeared) was nowhere nearby. We later found that he is on the ethereal plane. But more on that later.

Barging into the hut, we were greeted by an undead--some strange kind of zombie. I could not turn it from us, but Blades quickly cut it into small pieces. The zombie actually had a pouch of spell components; perhaps he had been a wizard in life. The room was spartan, containing only a bed, a desk, a chest, and some books (including a spell book). I grabbed several of the books on mathematics, and Suleiman too the spell book. The other books were filled with planetary and dimensional charts; I could make little sense of them. The chest held only a few coins.

We hurried on to the tower. Using keys we found on the zombie, we unlocked the door. Inside, an unusual five legged creature, with an eye on each leg/tentacle (it rather reminded me of a starfish) awaited us, attacking us viciously. It released clouds of paralyzing poisonous gas or spores from its legs, but I was unaffected. Finis used slow poison to free Torin and Blades, who were both affected by the poison. The creature didn't last very long once they were both back in combat.

The room was elegantly furnished, with a kitchenette behind a door. I found six more books on mathematics! A brief search of the room turned up nothing else of interest.

We continued on, going up the stairs to the second floor. A wardrobe came crashing down the stairs at us! Torin jumped out of the way, but Blades wasn't fast enough, and it crashed into him. We pushed it aside, off the staircase, and charged up the stairs. Two more zombies awaited us, a man and a woman. A fire in the hearth warmed the room--which turned out to be bad, because one of the zombies hit Torin with a flask of oil. Fortunately, he didn't venture near the fire, so it never did any harm. We dispatched the zombies, although Finis, once again, damaged his staff.

The room contained several items of interest. The zombies both had pouches of spell components. A chest lay on the floor, and we opened it with a key we found on one of the zombies. Some scrolls and coins lay inside. Also, there was a small carving of a lynx (a kind of wild cat), with the dwarvish word for "awake" on the bottom. Suleiman says that it is a "figurine of wondrous power", and that the creature portrayed can be summoned by speaking the word on the bottom. One of the zombies was wearing magic arm bands; Finis has put them on, hoping that they will convey some benefit to him.

Continuing upstairs, we were attacked by a creature that Suleiman tells us was a "lesser Daemon"! I gave Torin the warhammer, and he and Blades dispatched it. The creature oozed into the floor and faded away.

Having cleared the tower of hostile creatures, we looked around the third floor. A strange apparatus filled the middle of the room. It was a strange assortment of glass, mirrors, and lenses. Papers full of calculations and diagrams littered the room. A small stone seemed to power the whole thing, and a light shone from the apparatus, out of the window, and through the archway outside.

Suleiman and I sat down to pour over the charts and diagrams, and formulas. After a couple hours of research, we think that we have figured out the basics of this machine. It is indeed a portal through time and space; apparently, the machine was set to 40,000 to 50,000 years into the past, and is incredibly difficult to calibrate precisely. With years of research, we might be able to direct it to a particular location and time.

However, we had good reason to destroy the device. Several creatures had apparently come through it already, and had either killed the wizard behind its creation, or turned him into one of the zombies we had fought. We were interested in using the device to find Rinver, but it was so difficult to tune, that I thought we should ask for information from a higher source. Using the candle of invocation, I cast a divination spell, asking for Prometheus' guidance. He replied! I felt incredibly honored that he, or one of his servants, felt that I was worthy of a response. I was told that we could not use the machine to rescue Rinver, at least, not on its current settings. Actually, this was not so useful. We could tell that the machine had originally been set for the Abyss, and had drifted to its current setting, 40,000 to 50,000 years into the past, on this prime material plane.

Finis used speak with animals to tell Falstaff, Rinver's owl familiar, that we could not locate him. Falstaff said that he was still alive, and didn't seem too concerned. Suleiman decided that the machine was to dangerous to continue functioning, and destroyed it. I grabbed the power source, a small quartz crystal. Surveying the room with detect magic revealed that the lynx statuette, a dagger (that a zombie had thrown at Torin), and curiously, a pillow, were magical.

While searching through the books in the room, Suleiman spotted a picture of the creature that captured Rinver (in an encyclopedia). It's called a "Xil", and it lives on the ethereal plane. These creatures capture hosts in which to plant their eggs. Their young hatch from the stomach of the hosts, killing them. We have very little time to save Rinver, if we can do so at all. I am not optimistic. I only have one idea, and it is a long shot: I have heard that creatures like the lynx in the figurine sometimes live on the ethereal plane when they are not summoned to this plane; perhaps we could ask it to search out Rinver. I have also heard that such creatures are often noble, and of above average intelligence. Another option is to strike a deal with it; if it finds and returns Rinver, we will free it from the statue's bondage. Of course, all of this is assuming that it lives on the ethereal plane, that it is intelligent enough and willing to help, and that it is capable of tracking him on its native plane. But, it's a better plan than no plan.

If we cannot rescue Rinver, then I think that we should stop for a while, using this tower as a base of operations, and restock our supplies with local fish and game. With the gateway closed, I do not think we will be in too much danger. It will give us time to take stock of the situation, and decide a new course.

Everything seems so hopeless now; I try to draw strength from the Light. There seem to be so few options. One reason I started the log entry early (it is still daylight; we have not yet made arrangements for camp) is that it is a good way to organize my thoughts. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have worked. Things seem just as hopeless as before. Should we continue on with Rinver's mission? Could we even accomplish it if we tried? I wonder if I am growing weary of adventuring. Perhaps I should begin my long journey home. I have wanted to visit my relatives in the city of Cork.

It is too early to conjecture; I should see what the others think first. Hopefully, my next entry will offer greater hope than this one.

I wonder, why have you not sent me a thoughtwave? I would like to have an image, however brief, of how things are going in the temple. I was told before I left that you occasionally send them to our wandering tyros to let them know that all is well. It would be nice to know that things are going well somewhere. It would be nice to have even a fleeting glimpse of home. I suppose I must be content with my memories.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm seeing lost of view - I hope it's not just a Google bot or somesuch! Anyway, there are 26 (I think?) sessions so we are making good progress, this will not last forever (but it does come to a conclusion, doesn't just trail off) - keep reading folks :D

I also wanted to post a bit more often but I've been on the road a lot lately. I should be able to speed things up a bit soon :)



SESSION 13

I have been so busy for the rest of today that I almost forgot to write a log entry before sleeping! After my last entry, we decided to search the tower thoroughly. On the third floor, Suleiman spotted a slightly raised stone on the wall, with a hook on it. Torin pulled on the hook, removing the stone, and a firetrap went off in his face. Undaunted, we looked inside.

The space inside was far deeper than it should have been; it would have extended beyond the outside of the tower. It was obviously some kind of extra-dimensional space. Inside were five tubes, several books on the planes, a book entitled Nelbar's Spellbook, a leather satchel (which contained the design of the plane-traveling device!), and a note with the tubes saying "don't take the one that doesn't belong". Each tube was numbered, one through five. We guessed that we shouldn't take number one (thinking that it was the "one" that didn't belong"), so Suleiman grabbed number four, removed a scroll from the tube, and read it. He fell asleep instantly. We couldn't wake him up, so we let him get some rest. I will have to cast remove curse on him sometime. Suleiman and I later surmised that four was the one that didn't belong because four is not a prime number. The other scrolls had protection from elementals, some wizard spells, and reincarnation on them.
I remained on the third floor of the tower, going over the schematic of the device, and gathering up spare parts and papers from around the room (this wizard, Nelbar, was quite messy; I suppose his apprentices spent most of their time cleaning up after him).
Blades examined some of the damaged metal parts of the machine, and realized that he could probably fix them, with the right equipment. He went in search of tools and other equipment.

I soon heard a shout from the second story, and rushed down to see Torin extinguishing himself in some blankets, and blades squaring off against a three foot tall dancing flame. The flame had apparently leaped out of the fireplace when Torin had tried to ascertain how hot it was. Torin still had some oil on him from the fight with the zombies, so he caught fire quite easily.

We quickly extinguished the flame, and Finis looked into the fireplace. A metal plate lay beneath a pile of rocks (there was no fuel--just the dancing flame). Finis pushed it aside to find a pouch, which also seemed to be an extra-dimensional space. A huge book of spells and a beautiful topaz gem were somehow crammed inside it.

I returned to going over the plans and the notes, while Torin and Blades worked on repairing the damaged metal parts. Suleiman awoke after an amount of time roughly equal to one-third of a day passed. With Suleiman's help, we quickly figured out much of the machines ingenious design--and corrected a crucial error on the part of the designer. Atspes non fracta; dum spiro spero!

Dinner was a pleasant surprise--the larder was well stocked with provisions that had not yet spoiled. After working into the night, I must go to sleep. Suleiman is not tired, as he slept through the middle of the day, so he will work on through the night. Tomorrow, we will attempt to reassemble an improved version of the device.

July 11th
Blades somehow managed to repair all the metal parts of the machine, although it was close. How he managed to work under such crude conditions, I do not know. He is a master of metals. As soon as he was finished, Suleiman and I attempted our reconstruction.

There was only one way to test the machine. We shut off the time-shifting settings, and set the destination for the ethereal plane. Placing the power crystal in its holder, we turned the machine on. Finally, we threw open the shutters.

The grayish light of the machine shot out through the window, and into the archway. It worked! Now, we had to find out whether we could travel back and forth through the planes. Suleiman stayed on the third floor to operate the machine, while the rest of us went down to the arch.

I lay a rope through the arch, and pulled it back--it all came back this time! I suspect that the "time drift" of the machine is what severed the rope the last time I tried that. The rope got caught in a different time period, the machine's time setting drifted some, and the rope couldn't be pulled back. The machine was now firmly set on the present, so safe travel back and forth was possible.

Torin ventured inside, and quickly backed out again, shouting. Suleiman closed the shutters and turned off the machine. Almost immediately, three Xil appeared around us. One of them grabbed and paralyzed Finis and disappeared (Suleiman had opened the shutters again, and hit it with his thorndart spell, but it was not effected). As I was fighting one of the remaining two, a white blur shot toward it from the side and a large white lynx tore into the Xil. Suleiman had activated his figurine of wondrous power, and wondrous it was. But the Xil ignored it, and grabbed me, paralyzing me. Fortunately, the efforts of Torin, Blades, and the cat (who is named Tanvil), brought the Xil down before it disappeared with me. While I stood there, frozen in place, They killed the last Xil.

Suleiman reactivated the doorway, and Torin charged through in pursuit of the Xil holding Finis. Blades stood outside the arch, trying in vain to get the owl, Falstaff, to go with them. It is very frustrating to be frozen like that; I could only listen and hope everything turned out all right. Blades gave up on the owl, and went in after Torin. Torin did quite well on his own, as he took care of two Xil by himself--one carrying Finis, the other carrying Rinver. He and Blades carried them out, and Suleiman shut the gateway. A short time later, we were released from the paralysis. Quickly, I asked for Prometheus to cure disease, removing the parasites from Rinver's stomach. A cure moderate wounds eased his pain. We fetched the magic pillow, and he almost instantly went to sleep. The pillow seems to make it possible to sleep through almost any noise, although it only took a nudge to wake Rinver up.

Suleiman and I had a chat with Tanvil, the lynx. He is completely devoted to Suleiman, and has no will of his own. He does, however, have a limited amount of time that he can stay active on this plane, before he must return to rest. Suleiman dismissed Tanvil with the dwarvish word for "sleep", and the large cat shrank into the small statuette.

It was still early in the morning, so after Rinver had rested some, we explained the workings of the device to him. While he seemed interested, he was much more complimentary and friendly than before--it was obvious that he was very grateful. Several hours after lunch, while we were still explaining the device to Rinver, Suleiman suddenly fell asleep again. Tomorrow, I will try a remove curse on him. For now, it is time to sleep. We are going to bed early, so that we may leave early. With our provisions restocked from the larder, and our party once again whole, it is time to resume our journey. I should have known that Prometheus would provide. Why did I ever doubt?

July 12th
We reshuffled some of our items this morning. Finis gave Suleiman the magic armbands, Suleiman gave Torin the ring of water walking, and I removed the power crystal from the device. I cast remove curse on Suleiman, crammed as many of the books, including the encyclopedia, in to the bag of holding as I could, and we returned to our boats.

Rinver and I shared a rowboat during an uneventful day's travel. At night, just before camping, we spotted several large, dark shapes swimming upstream towards us. Finis said that they were giant river otters, and proceeded to talk to them. Apparently they wanted to play, and we were afraid that they would capsize our boats while cavorting.

Instead, they let us get to shore (in fact, one of them pushed the rowboat far faster than I could have paddled it), and we played with the otters on the river's banks. It was a welcome bit of fun in what had so far been a dangerous, painful journey. The otters, having short attention spans, soon lost interest and went off in search of other things to play with (although they took a block of our cheese with us--they're fascinated by it).

Rinver estimates that Prolingmur is three days away. The river seems to narrow ahead, so maybe we will reach it more quickly. The sooner, the better.

July 13th
The river did speed up again, as we exited the Loch and no more islands appeared. It was, thankfully, a peaceful day of ~~~
I'm sorry, I was in the midst of writing that sentence when our camp was attacked. Two large, winged, two legged, snake-like creatures with barbed tails flew out of nowhere and surprised us. Rinver says that they are called Wyverns. One of them struck Finis with its poisonous tail, and he nearly succumbed to the poison, but Prometheus slowed the poison. The Dwarves savagely attacked the beasts, and with the aid of Rinver's magic missiles, the creatures were quickly driven back. Torin took one down, and Blades finished the other. Finis was able to neutralize the poison, much to my surprise--I did not know that was within his ability. I succeeded in removing some of their poison, keeping it in jars from Nelbar's larder.

Inside the stomach of one of the Wyverns were the remains of some unfortunate man. He had a magical ring on his finger, and Blades volunteered to try it on. Blades apparently thought he was invisible, although he was not. He also found that he could not remove the ring. A remove curse allowed him to remove it, and we buried the cursed ring with its last owner. We moved our camp away from the wyvern carcasses, so hopefully we will get some rest.

July 14th
The river went very quickly today. By lunchtime, a road was visible, following a parallel course, not far from the riverbanks. We have set up camp by the road tonight.

July 15th
Finis awoke us early today, and without his usual Song to the Sun (which was a pleasant change). He heard something large coming this way, and whatever it was, it was doing a very bad job of trying to hum a song. We hid behind some trees.

A fourteen foot tall, misshapen figure emerged into the moonlight--it is a full moon now, so we had a good look at it. An extra foot grew from one shoulder, an extra mouth mouthed the words of the song from near a kneecap, and two extra ears lay upon its head. It was armed with a huge club.

It heard us whispering, and came toward our hiding place. Blades stepped out to speak to it, and it crushed him with its club. We surged from our hiding places to attack it. Torin was knocked flat on his back, gasping for breath. Blades, despite his injury, managed to take down the beast, once again with help from Rinver, and Suleiman's daggers. It took a great deal of healing magic to repair our injuries, but we did. Finis and I suspect that it was a Fomorian Giant, one of a race of creatures that inhabited this land before the Great Kingdom was formed.

The giant kept a large pouch, and in it we found several objects of interest: A gold torc, a gold bicep ring, a ruined (but once beautiful) harp, and a magical otter pelt. Finis donned the torc, and Suleiman put on the torc (which makes him look even larger, if that is possible--I think he must be one of the largest human wizards of all time). I took the ruined harp, hoping that it might be repaired. I cannot play it, but maybe I can learn. Suleiman donned the magic otter pelt, and tried swimming in the water. Much to our surprise, he turned into an otter (the normal kind, not the giant kind we saw the other night)! After leaving the water and shaking off, he returned to his normal self. We decided to give the pelt to Blades. The dwarves wear heavy armor, so they need some kind of protection sinking to the bottom of the river.

I have noticed this morning that my wit and wisdom seem noticeably increased--I suspect that the magical stone has finished working its magic upon me. I don't feel too different, although I do feel that I can channel a little more power than before.

Once again, we returned to the river. In the afternoon, Suleiman heard bagpipes in the distance. Soon, we all heard them--they were playing a battle song, and we could hear the sounds of men shouting and metal ringing. We decided to simply wait until we could see something. As the river rounded a bend, we could see a battle between two very different groups, near the road. One group was wearing the plaid (a solid color, often red, with thin stripes) clothing of this area (but no armor), while the other group wore nothing but blue paint.

We quickly realized that the blue warriors were of that strange breed known as berzerkers. One member of the other group, however, also had a strange ability, called "Reistarte", or the "warp fury". His features distorted, and he went mad, cutting down the blue warriors left and right.

Having no idea who was right or wrong, we decided to simply watch and wait. The blue warriors were victorious, and Finis and I offered our medical assistance. Their leader said they didn't want any, despite the fact that many of his men were lying on the ground moaning, and he bled from many cuts. If he wants to die from infection, it is his choice, I suppose.

As the warriors went around collecting their foes' heads as trophies, we continued to speak to their leader. First, he asked if I was under Finis' protection. I said that I was his friend, but that was all. He seemed wary, but satisfied, and he said that they were the MacFinden. They had defeated the MacMane, who stole some cattle. Some of the warriors pointed at the dwarves and chuckled--apparently they found wearing armor humorous. Torin and Blades were ready to challenge them (to a fight without armor) but we managed to talk them into leaving.

By late afternoon, we reached the town of Prolingmur. This is a rough place--the people are rugged, hardened cattle herders and farmers of the MacFinden tribe. All the natives of this area seem aggressive; they fight at the drop of a hat. Unlike many parts of Aragon that I have visited, the men of this region occasionally wear plaid skirts called "kilts". We are staying at an inn called the Battered Shield.

A large dirt mound, topped with a wooden palisade, is the town's "castle", called the Dun. The town (really only six buildings--the Inn, a smithy, temple, a general store, and some residences) is arranged around the Dun. I paid a visit to the general store looking for spell components (I found a few). While I was returning to the inn, the war party returned, led by Connel McGwern. The severed heads hung by their hair from the chariot.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 14
We ate a venison stew for dinner; it was quite good, but not very filling. Rinver announced that he was going to teach Suleiman his first spell--magic missile. We all had a good laugh about that; Suleiman has been casting spells for weeks. Somehow, Rinver always seems to miss it when he does.

Finis followed the war party to the Dun, and met a bard named Urym O'Shane, who wants to meet us in the inn later. While we were waiting, a boy ran in and told the innkeeper something about more cattle being stolen. The innkeeper began sharpening a sword, and the boy ran out. Apparently, another fight is brewing.

A short while later (it was fairly late in the evening now), Urym came in. He explained that he served Cobthach MacFinden, the King of the MacFinden clan. He said that something about all the cattle stealing was strange. Finis suggested that we move to our private room (which is actually a separate building, outside the inn). After relocating, Urym told us of the events of the past few days. The cattle started disappearing, and both clans accused each other of cattle theft. The battles began, but a local druid became suspicious. He did not tell Urym precisely what was wrong, but he did suggest that he was going to call a truce until things were cleared up. Unfortunately, the druid disappeared. I suggested that someone was killing the cattle in an attempt to goad the two sides into killing each other off.
We've planned to march with the war party tomorrow, and Finis will declare a truce. Tonight, we will go with Bron, a boy of about fourteen or fifteen years, to investigate the site of the disappearances.

Bron led us into the cold night breeze, and we lit our way with a rock (with continual light cast upon it). A storm brewed to the north, but we continued on, reaching a large field. A stream flowed nearby, marking the MacFinden/MacMane border. Atop a hill stood a kronog, in which they keep the cattle at night. Apparently, the cattle disappear just before they are rounded up for the night.

Torin looked around for tracks, and soon found something unusual. There were, of course, cattle tracks everywhere, but there were unusual footprints, too: a group of four men, walking in perfect synchronization, never varying their pace or their distance from each other. Following their tracks, we found a badly mauled cow lying on the ground. We put it out of its misery, and decided to follow the tracks back to their source. Along the way we found several places where cows had been picked up, but not set back down. We eventually traced the tracks back to the stream, where we could see an unusual transformation. A deep slithering groove or rut, like that of a snake, emerged from the stream, but it suddenly turned into those odd footprints. We surmised that there was either illusionary work at foot, or that there was a huge shapechanger (which could pick up and carry four cows) on the loose.

After a brief inspection of the opposite bank, Torin found that the tracks do not continue on the opposite side. Finis suggested that we go to the Kronog and wait for the rain to end. It took us two hours to walk from the town to the pasture, so I'm not sure why he wanted to wait; the rain showed few signs of letting up, and we needed to rest to regain spells. Nonetheless, we thought the druid must know something we didn't, and we waited. After a couple hours or so, the rain slowed, and we walked back to town. Of course, there is not enough time to rest sufficiently, so we will not regain our spells tomorrow. I will try to get at least a little sleep, as tomorrow will be a busy day.

July 16th
Blades walked off this morning, while the rest of us tried to get a little extra sleep. He returned a few minutes later, very quiet. I wonder what happened?

We followed the war party out to the stream. At the banks of the stream, both sides offered challenges and insults. Finis borrowed Torin's ring of water walking and stepped out onto the stream itself. It was very dramatic, as the stream was covered in mist, and Finis floated above the water. He asked to speak to the leaders of both clans. The clansmen looked a little confused and uncertain (ordinarily I would attribute this to Finis' mumbling, but he spoke very clearly this time), but Urym let everyone know that Finis was a druid, and could be trusted. The leaders of both clans emerged from their troops, and Finis called for a truce. The Kings agreed, but set the truce for three days only--and if evidence of a third party stealing cattle was not found by then, the fighting would resume.

Satisfied, we went to look for more tracks. Of course, the night had erased most of them, but Torin's keen eyes managed to find some traces of them. As the creature was, judging by its tracks, moving downstream when it emerged from the water, we went upstream, hoping to find its lair. Blades used his magical otter pelt to check the water for clues or traces of the monster's passing.

We didn't find anything in the water, or near the stream, but we did see a riderless horse atop a hill, on the other side of the stream. The water was fairly wide and deep here, so we looked for a place to cross, and soon found a safer spot.

The horse allowed us to approach, but it didn't seem to like Blades very much. Torin managed to calm it down, and we noticed a wound on its side--seemingly caused by a weapon with a serrated edge. Finis used speak with animals to find out that its rider had been captured by some kind of humanoids, which smell like fish. The horse offered to lead us to the spot where it was attacked. We followed, and soon came upon crushed cow bones and other decaying cow parts.

We continued on until reaching a stand of trees which looked upon a clearing and a hill. The hill had a large cave entrance in it. The horse indicated that the attack occurred in this area (we couldn't be sure, as Finis' spell had expired). We decided to get a closer look, so Blades took off his noisy armor, Rinver cast invisibility upon him, and Blades walked off into the clearing.

What happened next is all a blur. A short time later, Blades came running out of the cave, completely visible, pursued by a huge, shifting blob! We all assumed that he had attacked the creature, canceling the invisibility, but we later found that he had, by no fault of his own, stumbled upon an anti-magic area, which ended the invisibility. We ran to assist him, but it managed to envelop him, crushing the life out of him. Fortunately, the wish we so wisely used back in Duma Faifni instantly returned him to life, and he fought his way out of the gelatinous mass. Rinver struck it with several magic missiles, and Suleiman struck it with thorn dart. Rinver shouted in anger when he saw the thorn dart; I'm not sure why. Finis covered the area with fog with obscurement to cover our escape (although it seems to me it just caused more confusion). Blades and I made it back to the tree line, but the monster was in pursuit of Finis, who looked badly injured. Rinver struck it with a lightning bolt (why didn't he do that in the first place?), and it stopped, sizzling, and dissolved into a pool on the ground.

I asked Finis to cancel his obscurement, and we saw two blue fish-like creatures standing in the cave entrance. They did not seem to care for the sunlight, so they stayed at the entrance, but this was irrelevant to us. We set off running again, headed back for Prolingmur. Blades, however, wanted to find his armor, so he stood there, in the field, close to the cave entrance, looking. That infernal dwarf drives me crazy! He soon decided to run, but not until after the fish-men had struck him with some kind of magic. Blades, still in fairly good shape (as the wish spell had restored him to perfect health) made it back to the tree line).

Once back in town, we went straight to bed, exhausted. After some rest, Finis went to tell Urym what happened. I can barely keep my eyes open. Our party almost had a total disaster today; Blades would be dead, if not for the wish. Perhaps tomorrow will go better.

July 17th
Today was even worse. I think that our group must be biting off more than we chew; our attempts to be more cautious were to no avail. Now we are truly in a bind.
After waking up, we used almost all of our magic to fully heal all of our injuries. Urym came by to tell us that he could not convince the king to believe our story without any proof. We set out, once again, to investigate the cave.

Along the way, we looked through our encyclopedia (contained in the bag of holding) for information about the creature we had faced, and the beasts we had yet to face. The fish-like humanoids are called Gogglers. They once lived on the coast, but men drove them to the water. Sea creatures drove them from the water to Longshadows, the network of underground caves and tunnels that lies under this continent. I could not find an entry for the shapechanging creature, but Suleiman did. It was a "Protein Polymorph", an intelligent shapechanger that sometimes works with other malevolent beings.

Once we had reached the woods, Rinver cast invisibility on Blades, who went to search for his armor. He could not find it, despite a thorough search of the area. Rinver rememorized invisibilty, and cast it upon me. I tried to use locate object to find the armor, and I even approached the cave mouth. I noticed a scaly foot drawn into the shadows of the cave, so I retreated, but not before I was close enough to the cave to be able to determine if the armor was inside, or at least near the entrance. Blades' armor had disappeared entirely. I can't imagine what use Gogglers would have for dwarven armor, but they must have taken it inside.

I told the others that two Gogglers remained inside, so we circled around the hill, and climbed to the top, above the cave entrance. After casting several preparatory spells, we charged down the hillside and attacked the two Gogglers waiting for us. We tore through them like paper, and charged deeper into the cave. Unfortunately, we charged straight into the anti-magic area Blades had encountered, and all of our spells were canceled (and we later found out that all of our potions were rendered useless).

Proceeding more carefully, we followed a passage in the back of the cave and found a room with five men in cages. One of them, apparently their leader, offered to help us if we would free them. He also told us that they were bandits, but we had pity on them, and freed them. Tringad (the leader) picked up a chain to use as a weapon. The rest of the men fled from the cave.

Tringad said that the Gogglers had recently taken Fergus, another bandit, through one of the two doors in this non-natural passageway (the passage was covered with carvings, perhaps of a religious nature, and was far too straight and square to be natural). We went through the door and found an underground stream, which emerged from a passage to the right, and exited to the left. Blades went to have a look down the passage on the right (once again, as an otter), and found that the water filled with blood after a short distance. Finis gave Torin water breathing, and we swam toward the blood (except for Torin, who walked on the bottom). We emerged from the water after about thirty feet, and came upon three Gogglers dining upon Fergus. A fierce battle ensued. One of them tried to get away--and as it hopped toward the water, it started to turn pale. I'm not sure what that means, but I struck it with the warhammer, and it went limp in the water. We quickly defeated the other two creatures, and I said a prayer over the bandit's remains.

On our way back down the watery passage, Torin discovered the submerged skeleton of a dwarf. It had, over the years, been encrusted with lime, and now seemed a part of the cave wall. He managed to remove a horn and a two-handed battle axe from its remains. Remarkably, both seemed undamaged by the many years underwater.

We went to the other doorway, and looked inside. A huge troll confronted us, and we savagely attacked it. Surprisingly, Torin's new axe pulled him straight into the fight with amazing speed; I have never seen Torin move so fast. Unfortunately, he seemed surprised by it as well, and as he was also unfamiliar with the weapon, he was not very effective with it. While I lit a torch, Blades neatly decapitated the troll, and Tringad burned it.

The troll had an odd collar on its neck. Before we could stop him, Blades took the collar off of the troll and put it on his neck! Blades is not a stupid dwarf, but sometimes I wonder if there are still some bits of Yellow Musk Creeper in his skull. We decided that it would be a good time to leave, as we were all injured and almost bereft of healing ability. As we turned to leave, we were confronted by a daemon, seemingly identical to the one we faced in Nelbar's tower, the day Rinver was kidnapped. Wearily, we charged into battle yet again.

This time, the daemon was not so easily defeated. As Tringad charged the fiend, a Goggler emerged from the shadows and stabbed him in the back, knocking him unconscious. The daemon poisoned first Blades, who sluggishly continued to beat on it, and then Torin, killing him! In his death struggles, Torin even managed to destroy the magical axe he had found by beating it on the floor. There was no wish to save us this time; Blades, Rinver, and Suleiman had done a great deal of damage to the daemon, but it refused to die. Finally, I struck it and it dissipated, oozing into the floor. We also defeated the Goggler, picked up the corpses of Torin and Tringad, and ran out of the cave. We lay Torin's body on the horse, and Finis rode it quickly back to town, in the hope that the town cleric could do something.
The rest of us slowly, angrily trudged back to town, carrying the heads of three of the Gogglers, as well as a claw from the daemon. We were allowed to see King Cobthach MacFinden, and I must admit, I was rather gruff with him. After all, we had lost a party member so that these two groups would put aside their ridiculous feud and see what their anger had rendered them unable to see. Why are people so foolish? Why do dwarves don potentially cursed items? What could possibly be the reason for Prometheus to keep them in the dark? I am becoming irritable and judgmental; perhaps I should spend a day thinking on this subject.

The King accepted our evidence, and agreed to make peace. He also gave us a fine gold necklace as a reward, as if that could make up for the loss of Torin. We waited for Finis (who had found that the priest was unable to do anything for Torin) to perform a ceremony over the bodies (bidding Tringad all speed to the spirit world, but asking Torin's spirit to tarry a bit longer). Once this was done, we went to see the MacMane King, who also agreed to make peace. Not to be outdone by Cobthach, he offered a fine gold goblet as a reward. We returned to Prolingmur late at night.

Tomorrow I will cast speak with dead, and determine whether Torin wants us to raise or resurrect him, or whether he would rather be granted his final rest. It is a four day journey by horse south to the nearest city that might have priests capable of this. That would mean eight days, if Finis can make it there and back safely. Rinver is threatening to refuse to travel with Suleiman; it is not yet clear why. Once again, the future looks dark. I must admit that I am becoming used to losing party members; I feel oddly numb about Torin's death, terrible though it is. There is nothing to do now but rest, and pray that tomorrow brings some hope.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SESSION 15

July 18th
I had a brief chat with Cobthach last night, just before bed, and he said that he planned to send some men to investigate the cave. I asked him to wait a day, while we bring our party back up to strength, and make other preparations. He agreed.

Immediately after waking up, we went to visit Torin's remains in the temple of Lugh. I cast speak with dead, asking Torin if he wanted to be returned to life. He seemed rather cheerful, saying that he was mining gems in the halls of the dwarven fathers. I could have sworn he said ambrosia gems, but that doesn't make any sense (de mortuis nil nisi bonum). Anyway, it was obvious that Torin did not want to come back, so we sadly made burial preparations.

While Blades went off to perform dwarven burial rites (with Finis following to keep an eye out for trouble), I shared a drink with Rinver. Rinver apparently has a very low tolerance for alcohol, and was soon completely drunk. He told me that the thorn dart spell that Suleiman had been casting was associated with evil and evil sorcerers. I helped him back to our room, where we found Suleiman reading an encyclopedia. Rinver collapsed onto a cot, and Suleiman and I went outside to discuss the problems that he and Rinver were having. I cannot reveal the nature of the problem, out of fear that this might fall into the wrong hands. Nonetheless, we have taken steps toward solving his dilemma. I think that I may soon begin my return home, and Suleiman has expressed an interest in returning with me. I am confident that High Priestess Octavia will know what to do.

Blades and Finis returned late in the day, covered with dirt. They directed Suleiman and me to Torin's grave, and left us there to mourn him. Atop a hill stood a stone column, with dwarven runes carved on it, which Finis had shaped and Blades had inscribed. We were silent for a while; it is a suitably somber place. I sanctified the area, and performed the farewell ritual. We tarried a bit longer, and then headed back down the path to town.

While we were walking and discussing Suleiman's problems, Suleiman suddenly stopped, listening. Someone was running at us from behind! We turned to see two ogres and what seemed to be a half-ogre. The ogres motioned to the half-ogre (who was about fifty feet from the ogres). The half-ogre seemed surprised to see them, but nodded in return. Suleiman and I turned to run for our lives, shouting an alarm to the town ahead.

Blades and Finis quickly ran up to help us. Finis lit the ogres with faerie fire, revealing that the being we thought was a half-ogre was in fact some sort of oddly misshapen man, his head hidden by a cloak. Much to our surprise, he began swinging his huge two-handed sword at the ogres as ferociously (if less effectively) as we were. Blades delivered the killing blow to both ogres, just as men from the Dun came running up to help. Seeing the large, rather ugly man, one of them said "That must be one of the three ugliest men in Connaught!", to which the large man quickly replied "Who are the other two?", as if his title were being challenged. We all laughed, and talked to the strange man on the way back to town.

His name is Corwin MacBennan, and he's very secretive (as I mentioned, he covers much of his head with a hood). He ran with the ogres out of fear that they might attack him if he did otherwise. Corwin has hinted that he was forced from his home, but it is not clear why. He seems jovial enough, so we offered to let him stay with us tonight.

After tending to our wounds, we decided to check our most recent acquisitions for magic. The torc given to us by Cobthach is not magic, but the goblet given to us by Loeg MacMane is.

Rinver is recovering from his hangover, and I've explained to him that Suleiman's situation is under control. He seemed reassured.

July 19th
Our first task of the day was to try to get the collar (which blades removed from the troll in the cave) off of Blades' neck. A remove curse didn't work, so we decided to try the anti-magic area in the cave.

Urym came in to tell us that the King and his men were ready to embark, so we quickly appointed Finis as party leader and joined with Cobthach's men. We met the MacMane men at the stream, and three from each clan joined with us to investigate the cave.

The anti-magic area in the front of the cave was apparently not powerful enough to remove the curse on Blades' collar--which is amazing, as it temporarily disabled the magic on everything else in the party. Fearing that it was a control collar of some sort, we asked Blades to stand guard at the front of the cave (as Blades could probably kill us all if he wanted--or someone else wanted). It's probably for the best, as the Cimbrian warriors were constantly teasing Blades about his armor. Even I was growing sick of it; I half wished that Blades would teach them some manners.

The cave complex was empty; the only humans inside were dead. No Gogglers were to be seen, although their fishy smell was overpowering. Suleiman called Tanvil, the lynx, to look around. Further investigations yielded the following information: 1) The underground river went down into the the ground, where we could not follow; 2) A tunnel in one room led a half-mile almost straight down, into Longshadows; 3) An altar was adorned with a strange metal, upon which were inscribed strange runes that could be used to summon the Sea Mother and her minions, whatever that means. I defiled the altar, and as I did so, I felt the hairs rising on the back of my neck--but I persevered. We took the pieces of strange metal with us, and after searching caves, we left. The Cimbrians wanted to explore the entrance to Longshadows, but we did not, so we continued to investigate Blades' collar. The collar is magical, and it seems to be some sort of charm or controlling device. The writing on it is similar to that on the strange metal plates.

Blades wanted to find his missing armor (he was wearing Torin's armor), and I tried to do so with a Locate Object spell. It was not within the spell's range. We finally persuaded Blades that going into Longshadows was not worth any piece of armor, and returned to town.

Upon returning to town, Finis and Urym went off to talk, while the rest of us purchased some supplies. We reassembled back at the inn, and Urym said that he would guide us the rest of the way to the monastery of Oghma. He also said that undead live there, as well as a woman that can turn men to stone. I suggested that it was a medusa, although I am not sure what one is doing so far from Ionia's Magic Lands. We also noticed that Finis' staff was repaired once again.

There was a celebration at the Dun tonight, and we all went, except for Blades. I don't think he can take much more of the teasing. It was an interesting night; the Cimbrians began a boasting contest, with outrageous, unsupportable claims getting the most applause. I decided to impress them with a display of Prometheus' power, by walking over the bonfire. I think it worked.

I left long before the party ended, in order to get sufficient rest to regain spells. Suleiman went with me, and we talked some more. Tomorrow, we resume our mission. I am both nervous and excited; if our present luck continues, we're doomed. Corwin has decided to join us; at least the Pentachromata are back to five!

July 20th
Urym has led us down a road through some hills. It has been a pleasant, quiet day. I asked Urym about the goblet, and he said that it has the ability to neutralize poison which is poured into it. That may prove useful, but I hope that we don't meet anyone that pours poison into our glasses.

The hills are slowly becoming woods. That is good; it will cover our approach to the monastery.

July 21st
Urym is an excellent traveling companion. He has been telling us what he knows about the monastery. He says that it was one of the Three Pillars of Knowledge in Connaught. There was some kind of trouble, and the monastery burned for days. The priests fled and disappeared. Another one of the temples was in Alcyone, but was probably destroyed during the revolution that cast out the Taygete League. He is not sure what happened to the third temple, but he does know that all the disasters have led to the decline of the church of Oghma.

According to Urym, there is a large mage's guild around here called the Blue Guard. I wonder if they are as friendly as the White School.

Not only does Urym tell interesting stories; he is also an excellent cook. I have never met anyone that can make dry rations taste good, until now.

July 22nd
We are about to descend an ominous-looking staircase, so I will make a log entry while we rest briefly.

This morning, Finis asked Urym if he would be interested in joining the party, and ending his service to Cobthach. Urym says that if we survive the monastery, he might join us. That would certainly make traveling less dull!

We reached the monastery in the late afternoon. Standing atop a hill, we could see it, about four miles away. Urym says that he will wait near here for us, for up to six days. After that, he will return to Prolingmur.

Approaching the monastery with great care, we could see that the tower had fallen across the middle of the it, crushing a large section. A small guard building stood off to the side. We decided to investigate the small building first.

As we approached, a voice inside called "Send in your best, coward!" We paused, and soon it repeated itself. A little while later, it just said "Coward!" Again, we approached the building. I threw the rock of continual light inside, and Suleiman looked through a window.

A terrible abomination charged out of the doorway, attacking us. It had a stag's body, cloven hooves, a badger's head, and bony ridges for teeth! It was truly a frightening sight. Nonetheless, Finis and Blades dispatched it.

There was little in the guardhouse--only a pile of skulls and a variety of other filth. Finis sifted through the pile, and found a ring. It did nothing for him, but when I put it on, I felt a surge of Promethean power--my channeling ability is now greatly increased. Perhaps Prometheus has had pity on us for our recent poor fortune; this is a great gift!

We entered the monastery through the section that was damaged by the fallen tower. I will not bore you with every detail of what happened inside; I will summarize.

Throughout the area we explored, we found animated skeletons, wearing monk's robes, and doing the things in death that they did in life: eating, praying, taking confessions. Unfortunately, they also attacked us, and we dispatched most of them with ease. Suleiman, in particular, seems to be very effective with his magic dagger, and his cat, Tanvil, is excellent for peeking around corners. Poor Corwin did not have a magical weapon, and seemed unable to affect them. These were not ordinary skeletons--one of them scratched Finis, giving him a disease. I believe they may be the undead known as Heucuva. Corwin was useful nonetheless, as his extraordinary strength allows him to tear through the damaged doors of the monastery as though they were paper.

Upon reaching the chapel, an unusual thing happened. One skeleton, with a gold circlet upon his head, told me to "begone!", before I could react. Suddenly, I was outside the monastery! By the time I got back inside, the rest of the party had dispatched the undead, and was calling out for me.

We searched the room, finding some damaged religious artifacts. A cabinet under the altar revealed much more interesting items: a three-stringed harp, some bottles with liquid, a clay urn with healing salve, and a long sword with a pommel made to look like a wren.

While Corwin and Blades argued over who should get the long sword, Suleiman looked behind a tapestry and found a secret doorway. It opened onto a spiral stair, going down. Rinver was excited, and said that we must hurry--that this was the way to the library!

Finis suggested that we should first stop to find out what the potions do. I must admit, I was skeptical that this would work; it didn't work very well the last time we tried it. But Rinver, impatient to get down the stairs, tried a little of one of the potions, Finis tried another, and Suleiman tried the third. One potion allows the reading of minds, another gives the imbiber the gift of persuasiveness. The third potion seems to be a love potion of some kind; fortunately, Suleiman drank very little, so his momentary fascination with Corwin wore off quickly.

Much to Blades' consternation, we decided that Corwin should get the magical longsword, as he is the only one in the party without a magical weapon. Now that our new items are allocated, we are ready to descend the staircase. I close my entry for now; I suspect that the medusa is not far away. May Prometheus light our way in the darkness below!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm so sorry for the delay! Been busy with some things and neglected this thread. So, let's keep going shall we?


SESSION 16
I am not certain whether it is light or dark above ground, but our bodies are telling us that it is dark. Many things have happened in just the few short hours since I last wrote here. I am afraid that I will have to summarize.

Blades and Corwin agreed that Blades should have the newly discovered long sword, and that I would enchant Corwin's two-handed sword with Arms of Flame. We traveled down the stairway until we reached a layer of mist, about four inches thick. I was very suspicious of the mist; but seeing no alternatives, we pressed through it. We later discovered that we were stuck on the other side. When we tried to go back up the stairway, the mist seemed to continue on forever; however, a single step backwards instantly brought one back outside the mist. Some strange magic is at work here; we will have to find another way out--if there is one.

At the bottom of the stairs were a set of large double doors, a statue of Oghma, a podium, and three doors leading to very distinct branches of the underground complex. The double doors lead to the "Vault of Knowledge", the object of our quest. Unfortunately, we cannot get through them--yet. They are magically sealed.

We first investigated the southern section of the complex, which seems to be an academic wing. After an exhaustive search of the complex, we have found two laboratories, some sort of "cold room", a classroom, living quarters, and other areas dedicated to the improvement of the mind.

The first room contained several large stuffed creatures, as well as many jars containing various substances--including a green slime. We briefly surveyed the metal instruments and examination table, then went to another room. The lynx, Tanvil, had heard moaning behind its door. As we approached the door, we too heard the eerie moaning. As we opened the door, a ghostly spirit attacked Blades, trying to drain the life from him. Blades, however, was protected by negative plane protection, and the spirit received only a nasty shock. We struck it a few times, and Suleiman dispatched it with a magic missile. Notably, Blades seemed to have gone into some kind of combat trance, perhaps brought on by the magical sword discovered in the chapel upstairs. The ghost was guarding a map room filled with maps and a few books, including one on Ionia.

We tried several more doors nearby; one turned out to be an entrance to a trapped room. As Blades stepped inside, iron bars slammed down. Amazingly, Suleiman bent the bars with his bare hands, and Blades was free. If Suleiman ever becomes a fighter, he will be a dangerous one.
The next door held a room full of ink, cloth, and paste, as well as a little paper. Seeing nothing else of interest, we continued to a room with glass set into the wall, covered with condensation. Cold air flowed from under a nearby door. I think it must be some kind of cold storage room, but we have yet to investigate further.
A book on a shelf in this room was entitled Cimbrian Cantrips. Suleiman was curious, and opened the book. To our surprise, a large winged lizard appeared, wielding a polearm. It made a beeline for Suleiman, striking him. Blades managed to kill it. According to Suleiman, it was a devil of the Nine Hells--and perhaps a servant of Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon.

Mystified, we continued on. We returned to the map room so that Rinver and Suleiman could rememorize their spells, and then proceeded through a door, down some steps, and into lecture hall. Magic theory was still written on the board, and four books on magic lay on a desk. Rinver took them.
The next room had six cots, for students. Some books were scattered around. After that we found a latrine, in which lived a phosphorescent moss that tried to poison Corwin. We decided to leave it alone, to investigate a magical door that we could not break through. Finis weakened it by cleverly using warp wood, and Blades smashed through.

A conference room was revealed. Slumped over the long table was a single skeleton. A book lay on the table, entitled Drudwas' Diary. A plate of metal fell from it and clanked on the floor as we opened it, and we read the last entry. Apparently, Drudwas was charged with protecting the library, and he has hidden parts of a key around the complex, in the form of these small plates (which are scattered around in various books), with letters on them. We must assemble the plates, and "speak the Binder's name", to gain access to the library.

In a nearby living chamber, Suleiman found a Manual of Gainful Exercise--as if he needs to improve his physical fitness! Next we discovered a room with some kind of magical circle in the floor. The insubstantial form of one of the ogres we killed in Prolingmur appeared in the circle. We dismissed it, and then Suleiman stepped into the circle. Another ogre appeared, and took possession of Suleiman's body. It tried to escape, but I quickly read off a scroll of exorcism, and Suleiman was returned to his body.

Once again, we returned to the map room, to rest and tend the few wounds we had received today. Interestingly, we found a map of Duncan Keep on the wall. If you will recall, we found a map indicating a treasure at Duncan Keep on our very first adventure together. Rinver opened up a book, and a plate fell out of it. Suddenly, another Devil appeared, and knocked Rinver unconscious. Finis and I tended to Rinver, while Blades managed to hold it off, and kill it.

We have deduced that books with alliteration in the title--like Drudwas' Diary and Gnomish Nomenclature--each hold a plate. If we can find all the books with such a pattern, we will have the key. For now, we are all weary; exploring dangerous, dark corridors is tiring business. We have set up camp in the map room. I believe we will be safe enough in here.

July 23rd
We started our day with a healthy meal of rations. I think that I shall have to start casting create food and water soon, to conserve our food. Corwin eats enough food for three ordinary men. I suppose he must keep his extraordinary strength up.

It occurred to several of us that we had passed up a book called Ankheg Anatomy, which is about the beasts the locals call Lomcor. As Blades grabbed the book, a Flesh Golem, which had been standing motionless (and we had hoped it would stay that way), attacked. Corwin, much to our surprise, struck a mighty blow, knocking its head clear off of its shoulders. Unfortunately, the head flew straight towards the table on which the jar of green slime sat. Finis, in a brilliant display of quick thinking, batted the head out into the hallway with his staff, before it hit the table.

Blades opened the book, and a red demonic bear appeared. Blades and Corwin attacked it, but it breathed flame on them, burning them badly. Nonetheless, they managed to defeat it. I moved to grab the book, which had fallen on the floor, but a drop of green slime fell on my hand! In the fight, the flames and jostling had knocked several jars from the table. The pain was incredible, as the slime attempted to gain control of my body. Once again, Finis came to the rescue, quickly providing a cure disease. I owe him my life!

After carefully grabbing the book, we ran out and set fire to the room--we did not want the slime coming after us later! We now had three plates. After stopping to rememorize, we opened Eihnerjarn Edas in the students' room. A white scaled winged creature attacked with a large flail--it was yet another servant of Tiamat (what an unusual choice of creature for guarding books!). Blades dispatched it. Next we opened Gnomish Nomenclature, and a huge black devil appeared. We fought it valiantly, and were doing well, when suddenly, as one of Suleiman's magic missiles went off, a "hole in space" opened, and a large, incredibly ugly beast stepped through. Finis shouted "Fruk! Fruk!", or something like that. I am not sure what a Fruk is, but they are not very friendly. We managed to dispatch the first devil, but this new creature was proving tough. Much to our horror, it paused and began concentrating--perhaps to summon some of its fellows. Fortunately, I managed to strike it and disrupt its concentration. It went straight for Blades, and almost killed him. Finis and I desperately poured healing magic into Blades, and he somehow managed to dispatch it. It was an amazing display of martial prowess, but I'd rather not see it again.

According to Suleiman, the Fruk was a Demon! I cannot believe we were victorious; our luck seems to be taking a turn for the better (or perhaps for the worse--I suppose it depends on how you look at it). Rinver seems extremely surly, and is unwilling to talk to Suleiman (again).

We now have the letters M, A, E, N, and D. After returning to the map room, I cast create food and water, and we settled in to rest. If we can keep up this pace, we should be out of here relatively soon.
 
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