The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus (A pogre storyhour) Episode Fifteen

pogre

Adventurer
It has been a very long time since I have played in a campaign. I'm nearly always on the other side of the screen. Last fall, an acquaintance of mine invited me to play in a 5th edition D&D campaign. I knew the other players, but had never played a game with them. I thought I would give it a try. At worst, I figured I could chalk it up as an experience that confirmed my view my natural position at the table was as a DM.

The Dungeon Master, Erik, proved very capable and I have enjoyed playing the game very much. The campaign is set in Greyhawk, which despite my long time playing, I did not know much about. Erik reassured me that no knowledge was necessary and that he would not really be following a lot of the Greyhawk material anyway. To me, this is the right approach with a published campaign - use what you want and make it your own. My ignorance of the setting has not been much of a hindrance thus far.

I decided I was going to try my very best to be a player I would want at my table. I sought to add to the game in a fun way and be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I wanted to create a character that would provide the DM with tons of story hooks, if he were so inclined. I also made the decision to be human and take the cleric class. Thus was born Lucius Victorium Gnaeus cleric of Kord. I knew we were moving in a predominately human society and most people don't want to play the cleric, but it is a class I enjoy quite a bit.

I hope the other players will comment and add background information or even their own perspectives on the campaign. By the way, our dungeon master has several offerings on Dungeon Masters Guild: Erik Hawley's DMG Offerings. I can vouch for the gladiatorial school as a very fun location. I have no monetary stake in Erik's works, but fully expect a kickback in the form of XP!

As I am playing a character in this campaign, the story is told entirely from his perspective. Lucius is the son of a minor noble house, he can be aloof, and is certainly arrogant at times.
 
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pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode One
How was it that I had landed in this cesspit of a provincial jail reduced to pining for open air and something to eat aside from the daily ration of watery gruel and the occasional chance cricket or roach?

Forgive me. Recalling those mean circumstances I found myself in, my manners have slipped: I am Lucius Victoriam Gnaeus of House Gnaeus - subhouse of Darmen, third son of Gaius Lucius Gnaeus heir to Baron Gaius Peraxis Gnaeus and priest of Kord and great adventurer! However, no one knows any of that now…

My companion, (a fickle creature of some strange feline race), and I had traversed nearly the entire continent only to land in this abysmal place. I could not believe this would be my end. I am destined for greater things - curse my chaotic companion and his unpredictable ways. Still, I knew even in those dire circumstances my natural abilities and faith in Kord would permit me to persevere!

A few days after being arrested and thrown into this place we were served a hearty stew, which I greedily devoured for sustenance. That was the last thing I remember of that horrid place.

*****Darkness****

I have no idea how long I was unconscious. That “luxurious” meal I had consumed had been drugged. My head was full of fog and I had the slight sense of spinning. I could feel the cool of a stone or perhaps tile floor beneath me. I opened my eyes and in the half light streaming in I could see I had been transported to an entirely new location. Before I could really clear my vision, I immediately noticed this locale had a considerably less offensive odor.

In the half-light I pushed myself upright and immediately perceived I was not alone. In this very solidly built cell, slumbering on a mat of straw was an enormous fellow. He had wild hair and a beard to match and was very tall and broad. Frankly, his appearance was intimidating though he slept like a babe. The light began to increase as it became clear the sun was rising outside of this place and began to stream in through a high, tiny barred window.

I could also see that my heavily barred cell was one of many in this chamber. Throughout the several cells were various folks, some humans and other races. Across the chamber was another line of cells that held some foul looking goblins. I suppose it was their presence that tainted the air slightly, because the chamber was very clean otherwise. Even the straw in the various cells appeared unsoiled.

I quietly took a few moments to say my prayers to Kord, clutching a simple holy symbol that for some reason I had been permitted to keep.

I watched through the bars as another prisoner shook himself awake. He was huge fellow too and even in the morning light I could see he was a half-breed orc. The creature shook his head a couple of times, assessed the situation, and to my amazement dashed across his cell and threw himself against the cell door. The crash was terrific. Immediately all in our little prison were awoken. The half-breed orc seemed none the worse for wear, but had made no impression on the stout barred door. He did incur the wrath of an unseen guard, who cursed loudly and ordered all to be quiet.

As my cellmate woke I engaged him in a brief conversation and learned he was from the north. He and his brother had been arrested for fighting and later were drugged and brought to this place. Naturally, the poor soul was as lost to the meaning of all of this as I was.

The first guard came in and he was an imposing figure. He had a gladius on his hip, and wore a baldric with five silver coins sewn into the front in intervals. If he possessed a puglio, it was concealed. His limbs were protected with manicas and greaves. He informed us we would be fed and then introduced to Crixus. He would answer no further queries from the prisoners.

The half-breed orc commenced stripping all of his scant clothes off his body in some bizarre rite or protest to his condition. I had overheard his name as Thock. In his state of undress, it was abundantly clear that he was a male. Even in his nudity, he appeared capable of defending himself with great aplomb!

When the meal came in it was a porridge, but a rich dish compared to my recent fare and a generous portion too. The food was dished up by a portly halfling accompanied by a pair of guards, both wearing these unusual baldrics. As the diminutive server handed me my portion I thanked him. The halfling seemed genuinely surprised and stuttered, “You’re welcome,” in a low voice back to me. As I watched the halfling continue to apportion this fine repast to my fellow prisoners he would occasionally glance back at me, and noticing my gaze, would politely nod in my direction.

Here was an opportunity I thought. Either the halfling was so unaccustomed to true manners in such a place or he was attracted to me, or perhaps both. In either case I sensed I may have earned an ally here. How valuable an ally I would learn later.

I may as well mention, my long time travelling companion, the feline-like creature was here as well in a separate cell. I had saved the creature from slavery - much to my regret many times in the past and undoubtedly many more times in the future. Still, it was pleasant enough to see a familiar face.

Following the meal we were led into a large courtyard with numerous warriors scattered around a large dirt covered ring. There were many more warriors with the baldrics - some with one or two coins sewn in, but most with more. It came to me what had happened - I was in a Ludus, a gladiatorial school. I the noble son of House Gnaeus had been sold into slavery! I chanced a withering stare at my feline companion, for which I squarely blamed for my predicament. He was oblivious to my ire as usual.

There was another remarkable feature in the courtyard - a trapdoor, divided in the center and hinged on the outer edges. The door was perhaps ten feet across.

My attention was quickly captured by a stout warrior of middle age, but nonetheless looking very capable. He introduced himself as Crixus and confirmed my fears - we were to be trained as gladiators and if we won five mortal combats we could earn our freedom. Now, the baldrics and the silver coins sewn into those accessories made immediate sense. Crixus was flanked by four warriors who were to be our main trainers in the various arts of the arena and a lovely woman who I later learned was the wife of Crixus.

Crixus then inspected the prisoners, with apparent approval, until reaching the end of the line, where he found a slight man named Narder Bailey. The exchange was something along the lines of:

Crixus: What did you do before?

Narder: I was a kennelmaster, my Lord.

Crixus: My Lord? I am not a Lord. I am your master!

Narder: Yes master.

Crixus: Can you fight?

Narder: If I must master.

Crixus: Go arm yourself.

Crixus pointed at a large pile of wooden weapons and shields. Narder did as he was told and gingerly picked up a wooden gladius and a scutum. Crixus sauntered over and grabbed a wooden sword.

Crixus pointed his sword at Narder.

Crixus: Defend yourself.

Narder was shaking almost uncontrollably and held one shaky arm out with the gladius. Narder looked on the edge of tears. Crixus took a lackadaisical swipe towards Narder. Narder jumped a full five feet backwards.

Crixus: Defend yourself!

Crixus again took a half-hearted sword cut at Narder. Narder again leapt five feet backwards, tumbling on his rear. Narder jumped up and dusted himself off.

Crixus: That’s enough of this.

Crixus motioned at the large trapdoor and a warrior stepped forward with a key and unlocked the sizable portal. Two warriors roughly handled Narder directly in front of the exposed pit.

Crixus: Now you have to defend yourself. No jumping back this time.

Crixus again swung his wooden sword and Narder again jumped back - directly into the open pit. There was a brief, echoing cry of surprise followed by the distinctive crunching sound of broken bones and thud of flesh.

Crixus turned and shrugged and threw his sword back towards the pile of weapons. “Who the hell bought him Lucilla?” Crixus asked the attractive woman. She responded with a quick glance up and shrugged her shoulders.

*****

Following the unfortunate demise of Narder, we were all instructed to choose weapons from the pile. I chose a shield and a stout piece of lumber fashioned into a long sword. Once so armed a group of goblins were led out to the courtyard. One of the trainers announced that we would all be matched against a goblin to prove our worthiness of training. We all were successful in defeating the goblins.

I feared that my outstanding combat skills and excellence in melee had so far outshone my fellow prisoners that I might be promoted directly to gladiator. Cursing my physical genius in conflict, I realized if my training were cut short I might not have the opportunity to escape this place.

A few of the other prisoners had done nearly as well as I in the combats. The barbarian brothers had dispatched their foes with ease and another prisoner demonstrated solid fighting skills, but I was surprised by the ineptitude of Thock, the half-breed orc. Thock was an imposing figure, but once loosed in combat he was clearly incompetent. His swings were mighty, but the goblin effortlessly dodged them. It was even more shocking to see a couple of the goblin’s blows were taking a toll on Thock. Thock finally connected and put the goblin down, but the display was so sad I was embarrassed for him.

During my combat my halfling cook friend was watching furtively from the edge of the courtyard. I gave my erstwhile ally a subtle salute, which he returned in kind. As so often happens, the little person was enamoured with me.

Following our fights we were being escorted back to the cells. One of the guards motioned for me to come with him on a different path. Some of the other prisoners grumbled mightily about me being singled out. I was half expecting this: Invariably, my great skills and general excellence above the rest would land me an audience where I would be promoted before my companions. It is a price I often pay in life for my naturally superior physical and mental abilities. As we passed into a dim room, and my eyes adjusted, a rush of relief flooded into my body as I had been led into a bathing chamber. Instructions from the guard were unnecessary as I joyfully washed myself and soaked in the joys of a true bath. All too soon, I was summoned out of the bath and escorted back to my cell.

*****

Following a rest we were once again led out to the courtyard where it was announced we would undergo training. The pace of the training session was invigorating, but rigorous. When it was my turn with one of the trainers I asked him if Crixus ever let a gladiatorial slave buy their freedom. He replied explaining that one must win five combats. I replied that I might be able to deliver a substantial amount of money if Crixus might entertain such a proposal. Now, I knew perfectly well it was unlikely my estranged family would bail me out, and truth be told, I did not want them to. However, I needed time to think and find a way out of this mess.

My training partner contemplated what I had told him and then explained that the financial expert was actually the wife of Crixus, Lady Lucilla. Would she entertain such a proposal I inquired. I would not burden her with an audience I quickly explained, I just wanted to send her missive to explain my proposal. The trainer thought for a moment and then said he would send pen and paper to me for the message after training. Once again my charm and subtle manners had won the day.

*****

Following the training my fellow prisoners and I were separated into two groups by the trainers. Then Crixus appeared and announced the final test for our groups would be in the morning. The two groups would be pitted against each other in mortal combat to determine who would win their baldrics. My group consisted of myself, the feline creature, Shen, a half-elf who used a quarterstaff in combat, Thock, the near-blind, half-breed orc, and a seedy-looking elf. The other group had some decent members including the huge northern warriors, the highly skilled fighter and a couple of others.

It was clear that the trainers had divided the group as evenly as possible given my overwhelming talents.However, what they had overlooked is that the contest was one-on-one combat. Clearly, I was going to win, but the rest of my group was going to have a rough time. I could see the fear in their eyes. I knew I had to save these people.

We headed back to the cells. This time it was just our “team” going back to the cells. I am not sure where they took the other warriors. Back at the cell we agreed we had to come up with a way to escape. Preferably we would make a break during dinner or when we were being transported between the locations.

That night at dinner the halfling chef told us the best way out. He told us if we could figure out a way to dive down the pit in the central plaza the trainers would assume we had died. He also mentioned something about saving his sister and some gem, but I really did not pay much attention beyond the possibility of escape. Then, Shen piped up that he had a dweomer called “feather fall” that he could cast as we fell that would bring us down slowly and gently.

I quickly told my companions my plan. I would distract the regular gladiators and guards while the seedy-looking elf and my feline-like companion furtively left the room and went out to the courtyard and picked the lock of the pit and flung the doors open for our escape. I performed my part of the ploy perfectly ands soon had the guards and others in rapt attention with my tale of great riches. The feline creature and elf snuck out and after a few moments.

An alarm cry sounded from out on the courtyard and soon the elf and my feline-like companion returned. The guards in the dining room were brought to action and I had to make a decision. I bravely led the group running out into the courtyard, directed the pit doors to be opened, which the feline had failed to do. As our group was on the edge of the pit guards were coming at us from all directions. As they closed in, we jumped...

*****

As all five of us dropped into the pit plunging to certain doom, the half-elf invoked his spell and we floated gently down and landed on a pile of corpses, bones, and junks.

Everyone kept absolutely still. We were about 400 feet below our pursuers and although they were out of earshot, we all played dead. After a few moments, the trapdoor above us slammed shut. I said a prayer and cast a light. We rummaged around the corpse/junk pile and found a few usable items. We also discovered we were not in a terminal pit, but instead an underground complex. There were four rough-hewn passages leading away from our landing spot.

Footprints and disturbed dust were found to lead down one of the passages and we quickly established a marching order. The feline convinced the group that he should lead a fair distance ahead of the party to scout. Having the feline lead the group armed with only a bag of sling bullets seemed foolish to me. I held my tongue though. Afterall, I hoped like a canary in a mine, tragedy might befall the feline first.

After a short distance there was a loud sound up ahead and the feline came rushing pell-mell back to the group. He explained that a large group was coming our way and described the sounds of their conversation. Someone explained it sounded like draconic. We all quickly took up defensive positions.

*****

The four kobolds wandered directly into our ambush. The fighting was fast and furious. The feline was struck a couple of times and was heavily wounded. The half-elf, Shen was proving invaluable as magical bolts sprung from his fingertips gutting one kobold and badly maiming another. Even the Half-orc Thock had some value in this combat as he knocked one of the humanoids out with a wooden weapon. The wounded kobold was quickly killed and its remaining companion ran away.

We secured the living Kobold with bindings and brought it back to consciousness. After a very one-sided parley, the Kobold agreed to show us the way out. He warned us that the Kobold warren he came from was an obstacle in our path. He proposed that if we killed the Kobold chief he could take over the tribe. If we allowed him to recruit warriors he would also make sure there were only about ten other Kobolds defending the lair. He also implored us not to kill the females and young.

I was trusting a half-orc, feline creature, an elf, and a half-elf with my life already. Why not trust a Kobold too? You undoubtedly are having great sympathy with my plight at this point. A warranted emotional reaction to be sure.

The Kobold led us to an area outside the domain of his warren. We were to wait a few hours as he led as many of the warriors away from the place as possible. Then after our rest we would launch our attack!
 

pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Two

Well rested, and completely at the mercy of the trustworthiness of a lowly kobold, our motley band readied ourselves for an assault on the kobold warren. It somehow seemed appropriate that we were engineering a coup that would result in the greatest coward in the whole kobold community being crowned.

As the appointed time neared for our assault I suggested a preliminary scouting and suggested that either my feline companion or the elf Elros run reconnaissance.

“I do have a name you know,” my feline companion responded to my suggestion.

“Oh yes, of course you do. I can reassure you my friend - ‘feline companion’ is a term of endearment,” I said.

“You don’t even know my name, do you?” my feline companion’s green eyes glared balefully at me in pure kitty disgust.

“You are wrong in your indignity. We have travelled the continent. I saved you, by the grace of Kord, from slavers. We have shared time in bonds.” I was stalling.

“And, still, you do not know my name!” the rising quality of my feline companion’s voice was both abrasive and slightly alarming.

I searched my mind. Surely I had heard his name at one time. I was befuddled. Finally, it came to me! “Swamp Edge,” I pronounced proudly.

“No,” my feline companion snarled. “But, I admit you are closer than I expected - it is Edge.”

“Ah, perhaps Edgy or Elros or both can go quickly and furtively explore our target and report back?” I suggested for the second time.

“I’ll go,” Edgy replied. “And it is Edge.”

“Of course, a term of endearment, I reassure you,” I demurred. The truth was Edgy was a far more descriptive name for my fickle, feline companion. I quietly resolved to continue to use it.

I looked to Elros. The elf simply shrugged his shoulders. Perhaps he had surmised that Edgy was expendable. An evaluation I had to admit, I was not entirely at odds with.

Edgy slinked off into the darkness towards the warren.

*****

“He’s taking too long,” Thock complained. Edgy had been gone a number of minutes, and I admit, I was growing concerned too.

“Let’s give him two more minutes and then we will go in,” Shen the Half-Elf suggested. Thus agreed, we prepared our blind assault on the warren.

As we were just about ready to head in, Edgy came stumbling back towards us. He quickly reported that he had been undetected. Praise Kord! He also reported that he had gutted one of the guards. Naturally, he had not concealed the body and so we could brook no delay. He also reported a human was being held prisoner by the kobolds - aloft in a cage.

A quick plan was formulated: Edgy and Elros would quickly move ahead of the group and take up positions flanking the chief’s building’s entrance. The rest of us would follow quickly with as much stealth as we could muster, and when hostilities broke out I would cast Light of Kord.

That was the extent of our plan. I made several foolish assumptions as my companions nodded in accord with the scheme. I assumed we would try to lure the enemy out of the shack to face flanking assaults from the rogues. I assumed we would fight defensively and force the enemy to come to us, to avoid being overrun.

You know the old saying about what happens when you assume something…
In this case, Thock would be the “you/u” in this age-old truism.

*****

The rogues quickly moved ahead. I could see very little even with the numerous cooking fires that were spread around the enormous cavern we were entering. I did, however, hear the throaty growl and then ROAR of Thock and the pounding of feet as he charged ahead.

“Cast Light! Cast light!” Shen excitedly said. I did so and a radiant light announced our position to the entire cavern of ne'er do wells. I just managed to watch Thock crash into the crude stone building as the flanking rogues looked on in surprise. The din that quickly rose from the building was akin to a night soil cart crashing into a noble wedding. The rogues recovered from their initial shock and ducked into the building too.

Shen and I rushed forward to help. Our progress was arrested by a horrifying sight: two kobolds with wings were flying towards us toting heavy rocks. I shudder to think what unhappy mates created these abominable mutations. Let’s just say, I am willing to bet - the bat was the unwilling participant in this unnatural coupling. I called down a Bolt of Kord on one of the flying monstrosities, but even encumbered, the nasty imp dodged the divine lance. Shen followed suit with his Marvelous Missiles of Unerring Flight - one of the flying kobolds was struck down and crashed to the cavern floor.
The remaining airborne kobold dropped his slate and struck poor Shen directly atop his head!

I weighed whether to cast another Bolt of Kord at the creature, heal Shen, or attack the kobold which was coming towards me from the direction of the chief’s building. I resolved to save my companion and rushed over, and with the blessing of Kord, healed the half-elf. Shen winked his thanks and unleashed another set of Marvelous Missiles of Unerring Flight knocking down the other flying abomination. Elros had emerged from the building and struck down the kobold that was coming after me.

Shen and I went forth into the building. The scene resembled an outer kitchen on butchering day. Blood and gore made the floor slick. Prostrate on the floor was the half-orc barbarian, Thock. An orc appeared over him readying a killing blow. A pair of female kobolds were whimpering in the shadows. Warrior kobolds, a hobgoblin, and an orc lay lifeless in the muck. The remaining orc tumbled down after being struck by Edgy from behind. Suddenly, the sound level lowered as the melee subsided.

I went over to administer healing to Thock, who was still breathing. The rest of the group began gathering weapons. Edgy proceeded out of the building and lowered the cage, which contained a human in plate. I rushed after my feline companion, concerned any social faux paus he might make might lose us a valuable ally. The gentleman was thanking Edgy profusely for his rescue when I arrived.

I quickly introduced myself and learned the man’s name was Calodar. He had an accent from the realm that I recognized, but could not quite place. Calodar explained that he had been captured by orcs and transported to the kobold warren. He was also in a hurry to gain his equipment back and marched toward the remaining building in the cavern to retrieve it. Edgy ran ahead of us and entered the shack. I stayed with the man so he could see his way. I asked him where he hailed from and replied that he was from Nurle. I had heard of it, and had a generally positive impression of the place.

We exchanged other pleasantries and explained in general terms why we were in this place. He said he was looking for an item and I said we were looking for a way out after being imprisoned. We left the explanations with these polite vagaries.

Calodar and I strode into the crude stone building and found Edgy rifling through a pair of packs. Calodar went to the far wall and hefted a mighty greatsword. Calodar placed the enormous sword in a back scabbard and remarked, “There should be a bag of uncut gems in one of those packs.”

“I did not find any,” Edgy replied.

I highly suspected Edgy was lying, but said nothing. Afterall, Calodar had a generally favorable impression of the feline. No sense in ruining it prematurely. Edgy would invariably do so of his accord in time.

*****

Calodar was introduced quickly round to the rest of the group and it was agreed we would not wait for the return of our kobold conspirator. The kobold had upheld his first part of the bargain, no sense in waiting to find out if he would remain complicit. A quick discussion yielded that Calodar thought the item he was seeking lay in an orc encampment some travel distance away and the way out was through the encampment too. A joint venture was quickly called for and the stalwart group quickly set off into the dark tunnels.

Travelling some distance we came to a chasm bisecting our tunnel. There was a large wicker-style basket with four ropes attached to it lashed to our side of the chasm.

“What was this for?” Shen inquired.

“Oh, when they brought me this way they had four flying kobolds lift me across in this basket,” Calodar explained.

This explanation astonished me on a number of levels. First was the matter-of-fact way Calodar explained his spanning of the gorge. It was like a farmer pointing to a mule to explain how he got to chapel - no big deal. Second, Calodar had completely failed to mention there was an enormous chasm, probably in the neighborhood of one hundred feet deep and twenty-five feet wide in our path. Had he mentioned this back in the kobold warren, we might have scrounged something to help us bridge this gap. I was starting to understand how this gent in plate was captured by orcs....

We agreed someone would take a long segment of rope, climb down the chasm, climb up the opposite side, and secure the rope on the opposing side. Edgy volunteered. No one objected. Edgy skillfully traversed the chasm and Elros quickly scooted across the gap as well. Next came the half-orc, barbarian Thock - two-thirds of the way across there was a SNAP and Thock was tumbling down. He whirled his arms and tried to gain purchase on the chasm wall with no success. Shen once again came to the rescue and cast Fortuitously Falling of Featherly Descent and saved Thock. Thock eventually made his way back up climbing the chasm wall after numerous missteps and crashes. Repairs to the rope were made and the rest of the group made it across intact.

Edgy had been trying to get the group’s attention as he waved a collection of small white bones around. “Look at these!” he exclaimed. “Very strange, very strange,” he muttered.

Others in the group examined the bones carefully and did note that they were unusually clean and bright white. It was as though the bones had been placed in a mild acidic bath. I was alarmed as to what this portended. But, there was nothing for it - our path lay ahead.

*****
As had become our standard, Edgy worked the dark passage ahead of the group. After a short while we heard a muffled whine. We rushed ahead with light and saw Edgy stuck in a quivering mass of translucent jelly appearing very much like a fly in amber. This gurgling, undulating mass was heading towards us with our feline companion enveloped within.

Edgy managed somehow to escape behind the square-shaped beast, but the beast kept slithering towards us. I wondered if its alien intelligence somehow knew it had us trapped by the chasm that was to our immediate rear. I called down a Greater Glorious Bolt of Kord down on the creature that not only caused tremendous damage to the beast, but made it much easier to see and attack with the glowing nimbus of light that surrounded it.

I fully expected to hear the howl of an angry charge coming from Thock and his weapon digging into the jelly. Instead, Thock retrieved a javelin, that looked much like a river reed in his hand and tossed it at the creature. Thock was willing to charge an entire warren of kobolds, but threw a stick at a disadvantaged enemy! Trying to parse Thock’s system of combat strategy was clearly beyond me.

Elros followed up Thock’s meager contribution with a sling bullet.

I endeavored not to let this boon of Kord go without taking advantage of it. I hefted the battleaxe I had taken from the dead orcs in the warren and charged the beast. A mighty swing sent amoeba-like matter spraying the sides of the tunnel. My god’s will surged through me and I made another massive swing chunking pieces of the beast about. The beast seemed unstoppable and continued towards me.

With tentacle-like pods it reached for me. I jumped backwards. It reached for me again. And this time - I was enveloped. I was encased in this jelly-like substance and could feel an itching, burning sensation on my skin. Nevermind the fact I could not breathe at all. I admit I was feeling panicked.

Then the calm of Kord came to me. I prayed fervently and quickly. Kord’s answer came immediately - in an instance the creature died and its jelly-like body fell away from me. I was saved by the grace of Kord! Someone later said a sling bullet from Elros had downed the beast, but those without faith often miss the miracle.

A quick survey found several items of interest preserved in the creature. I was given a scroll case containing a prayer of a higher valence than my discipline. I endeavored to use it only in case of emergency.

We traveled a bit further and then made camp for the night. As I cleaned the orc hide armor I had taken from the warren the best I could I reflected on the day’s events. Kord’s abundant blessings on me were manifest in so many ways, and yet, my companions did not seem to have taken note. Then I realized, with great humility, I was sent by Kord as a beacon of hope and light for these folks. My example before Kord was the important thing - I was a living testament to my lord. Thus reassured of my divine mission, I sank into a peaceful sleep.
 
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AriochQ

Explorer
A bit of filler from the DM...

The campaign is set in the Great Kingdom area of Greyhawk, with variations. It is after the Greyhawk wars. Ivid is still alive yet isolated in Rauxes (and insane) so the kingdoms essentially act independently. The culture of the region is based on classic Rome. Also, I run politically complex campaigns and tend toward fewer, deadlier, combats.

People of Interest:

PC's-
Lucius - Your narrator. A human noble whose family hails from Rel Astra. Has a strained relationship with his father.
Edge - A tabaxi rogue shanghaied from the Amedio Jungle, forced to serve on a pirate ship. Eventually freed by Lucius.
Thock - A half-orc barbarian from the mountains in the north.
Shen- A half-elf sorcerer on the run after his master was arrested by authorities.

NPC's-
Filbert Huggybottom - Halfling chef at gladiator school.
Elros - Rogue who was imprisoned with party.
Calondar - Paladin found in silver mines while party escaped from gladiator school.
Cassius - Caravan Master with ties to the Scarlet Brotherhood
Balo Grim - Cambion Captain of the airship Grim's Folly
Molly Sprocket- Sister of Philbert
 
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Airflo

Visitor
The exchange between Lucius and my character (the Tabaxi rogue "Swift Water's Edge", or "Edge") never happened in game, but could very well have, and is wonderful. I spend way too much time working on character details, and had been struggling for a few weeks trying to come up with a name that fit with the description of the Tabaxi culture presented in Volo's, and worked in our Greyhawk setting. The first meeting of this campaign i hadn't made up my mind, so the intro to this chapter is the inevitable result of my not having a name for the entire imprisonment segment.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Despite my character, Lucius's, apparent ambivalence about Edgy the Tabaxi rogue, I did paint up a figure for him to use in the game. You can see pictures of it here:
Tabaxi figure pics.
 

Airflo

Visitor
Edge and Lucius couldn't be further apart in personality, but Lucius was honorable enough to free Edge from the pirates and now Edge owes him a great debt. Since he's died twice in the last week of game time, I'm thinking the debt might be paid.

You did an amazing job on the figure, and I'll continue to use it until i paint my own (so that basically means it may be forever). It's professional quality, I'm duly impressed.
 

pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Three

The night before we were to assault the orc encampment passed by uneventfully - Thank Kord! The following morning I struck up a conversation with Calodar to learn more about what his goals were and any information we could glean about the orc lair. Calodar informed me that the orc lair was in a massive, old temple complex. The entrance on the other side of the temple complex led to the outside. The item he was seeking was some sort of magical gem in the eye socket of a statue in the complex. Calodar also sketched out a crude map of the parts of the temple he knew about. The sketch included a large sanctuary where the statue was located. It was in this chamber that Calodar had been captured. Judging by the number of passages and rooms between us and the sanctuary, and the fact the place had three dozen orcs, this looked to be a formidable task!

Calodar mentioned that he had not entered the orc lair alone. He had a companion named ominously, Faithless. Judging by his description, Faithless had some dark blood in her and was likely of the Tiefling race. He was cautiously optimistic that we could find and rescue his companion in addition to retrieving the gem. My main goal was to find a way out of these caverns, but Calodar had been true to his word and I did have a sense of obligation to the man.

*****

We approached a back secret entrance to the temple complex around mid-morning. Naturally, the time of day was pure guesswork on my part as I had not seen the sun in several days. Calodar knew about the entrance because the orcs had taken him this way when they delivered him up to the kobolds. I learned a few things about our companion Calodar - first, he was not overly bright; second, he was a man of steady faith; and third, he was trying to lead a resistance against a cruel overlord in his home nation. Apparently, this magical gem was the key to an undead horror that ruled over his home called an Animus. The magic of the gem could be used against this abomination. A righteous revolution for the people! Now, that was a cause I could get behind!

The secret door was locked. This was an unconventional lock with gems and lines and all other kinds of nonsense. Shen was delighted by the puzzle and quickly solved it giving us access. I appreciated his alacrity as it saved us from Thock’s solution of bashing the door down.

Edgy, our cat-like rogue, opened the door and scouted the passage beyond. He came back quickly and revealed that to the right was a sleeping group of orcs, but to the left he could see nor hear any occupants. Following Edgy’s lead, we all ventured out into the passage and headed left. We entered a chamber full of weapons and a bell with a clanger pull. Thock disabled the bell by mangling the clacker and we pushed on.

We next came to a common room with a cooking area and weapons. We opened a door and revealed another chamber, that was largely empty. However beyond the room was a short passage terminating in yet another room. The room further ahead was dimly illuminated by a blue-green light. Capturing our immediate attention though was a large orc relieving himself in a bucket in the far room. Edgy who was working ahead of the party charged the orc. With the combined effort of all the orc was killed, but sadly, not before it bellowed an alarm.

The barbarian, Thock, had blocked a door we had passed by using a javelin. Immediately beyond this chamber was a passage leading to the source of the blue-green illumination. There was a murky pool taking up most of that chamber and at the far end a glowing long sword on a mounted dais. Naturally, the impetuous Edgy immediately went into the pool room. When he entered the pool room, four bizarre, muddy sprites emerged from the liquid and began attacking him.

Shen unleashed a Shen’s Suggestion of Slumbering spell on the muddy sprites and one fell back into the murky pool. Edgy concentrated on avoiding the muddy sprites’ attacks including one which spewed a torrent of mud at him. Meanwhile, we could hear the war bellows of orcs behind us and the SNAP of Thock’s javelin being split. The situation was not good. Ahead Edgy was trying to hold off a trio of these magical, flying mud creatures and we had a horde of orcs coming up from behind. We were surrounded by foes!

Calodar bravely and wisely went to the back of the chamber to take up a defensive position against the oncoming orc horde. Realizing that we had to limit the orcs’ frontage and attack avenues, I took up a position next to him blocking the way for the orcs. The rest of our companions took on the rest of the mud sprites. Shen remained in a position in the middle room where he could fling spells at both combats.

The orcs attacked! Shen knocked one of the orcs down with his Suggestion of Slumbering spell. I quickly killed that orc. I was hit by a javelin, and now, in full battle fury, I lashed out at the humanoids with a battle axe I had taken from their brethren. Imbued by Kord with righteous fury I felled another orc. I was hit by another javelin. I was bleeding badly and I knew I was in trouble. I hit another orc and carried by the glory of Kord I felled it too. But, the orcs kept coming!

Sometime in this maelstrom of combat I heard an ear-splitting YOWL coming from behind us. I only learned later that Edgy, in the middle of a combat with a mud sprite, had grabbed the glowing long sword. Immediately upon grabbing the weapon his eye had popped out. His eye just popped out of his skull leaving a vacant socket. Edgy spent much of the rest of the combat searching for his eye in the muddy pool. Although, I acknowledge it is mean-spirited, I would have given three golds to see the look on his face when he realized his eye had just popped out of his skull!

I hacked another orc down and then an orcish battleaxe crashed down on me and my world went dark.

*****

I awoke. The sounds of melee still roared around me. Calodar had somehow healed me I surmised. My eyes adjusted to the dim light just in time to see Calodar fall. Resolved to save him, I raced up and with the divine power of Kord healed him to consciousness. The few remaining orcs were greatly discouraged by this demonstration of Kord’s deific power and began to flee. Thock immediately gutted one as it turned to run. The other orc, however, managed to break contact and flee. “He’ll warn the other orcs!” Shen cried and the chase was on!

We chased the orc all the way back to the original hall and with spells, sling bullets, and the one-eyed Edgy leading the way, we managed to knock down the last orc. As we panted for breath hoping collectively for a rest, a much larger orc appeared in the narrow hallway. This was the largest orc we had yet seen and its grizzled face bore an eye patch. It shouted something orcish at Edgy and charged. I later learned the orc had said something like, “Hey, that’s my sword!”

The big orc chopped Edgy down and Thock rushed in to save Edgy. The two orc-blooded foes exchanged terrible blows, while the rest of the group contributed with missile fire and spells. At one point, near death, Thock quaffed a magical potion and revivified by the potion, struck the orc down.

While no one was paying particular attention, the elf Elros picked up the magical longsword that Edgy had dropped. The elf threw the sword away from himself, screaming in horror. Thankfully, Elros did not became cyclopic during his encounter with the sword. Thock seeing the reaction of the elf, went back to his barbaric roots and swung his axe down on the sword trying to destroy it. Sparks flew from the metal on metal strike and the recently stabilized Edgy gave out a large groan. A deep wound appeared on the feline as though Thock had directly struck him.

“He is possessed by the demon sword!” I declared.

A short debate followed and it was decided the group would retreat back into the caverns to camp, recover, and try to figure out what to do. The possessing sword would have to come with us, until we could figure out how to break its curse on Edgy. During the night, even in his very poor state of health, Edgy kept sliding towards the sword. Those on guard had to move the sword several times in the night to keep the slumbering feline from touching its foul metal.

An alerted tribe of orcs lay ahead and we were bringing a one-eyed, neurotic, possessed by a demon sword feline with us. There would be much to talk about in the morning...
 

AriochQ

Explorer
Some DM notes relating to Episode 3:
-I tend to run fewer, but deadlier, encounters in my games
-Faithless is a new player that was added to the group but took a couple of sessions to show up
-The gem in the eye socket statue is a homage to the AD&D Player's Handbook cover art
-Animus are a Greyhawk/Great Kingdom thing, you can think of them as "Lich Light", all the full Lich flavor with half the hit points!
-Never grab a glowing sword off an altar in an evil orc temple, unless you really like Gruumsh!
 

pogre

Adventurer
Episode Four by Shen

A Quick Note: Regrettably, I was absent during a couple of hours of this session. The player who runs Shen bravely took up the pen and wrote this episode.

Episode Four (as noted by Shen, Sage of Rinloru):

Our initial encounter with the orcs left us beaten and bruised… and with a strange cursed sword that now had a direct association with the Tabaxi rogue, Edge, one of my newfound companions that I have begun to consider my friends. The magical expertise required to create such an item is truly fascinating. It is exactly this type of oddity that initially drew me in to the studies of spells and sorcery in the first place, and being that I am still young and a bit naïve, I find myself desiring to record my studies of this sword and the circumstances that led us here, so that I may later study these notes with a different perspective. I recently discovered that another of my companions, the healer Lucius Victoriam Gnaeus, has already had such foresight and has created his own journal of events. I will not duplicate his effort, except to add important details when he is unavailable.

I awoke early in the morning to find that Edge had finally found his target—throughout the night he had been drawn to the demon-sword that had caused him such anguish recently. The connection between them was unusually striking, and even though we all worked to keep them apart during the night, it is obvious now that this bond (or perhaps “manacle”) was meant to be.

I don’t know if it was the influence of the sword, or the anticipation of looting treasure from the orcs (including the primary target of our endeavor here, the gems we have agreed to recover for Calodar, the human we had freed from the orc cages), but Edge was up and ready to get moving. The previous day’s battle seemed to have taken its toll on Lucius and Thock, a half-orc warrior that thankfully has been our ally since our prison escape just a few days ago. Thock and Lucius we sound asleep. It seemed best to leave them be, in what appeared to be a relatively safe/hidden passage, while the rest of us (me, Calodar, and our elf companion, Elros) followed Edge as he ventured again into the orc hallways. Lucius and Thock bore the brunt of much of the orc frontline attack, and certainly they deserved time to rest up and heal. I have to admit that I was more than a bit worried about venturing on without them, but we could not leave Edge alone, especially since the orcs had now been alerted to our presence.

Our plan was to sneak in, past the orcs, and investigate any open passages the might lead to the center temple, which according to Calodar’s sketches, contain a statue in which the gems are embedded. Unfortunately, our plans went awry, as plans sometimes do, when we were discovered by a lone orc patrolling the hallways shortly after we came back through the secret door. We disposed of this creature, only to find another patrolling a short distance away. This orc, too, found death quickly, but future events would not be so easy. Two more orcs patrolled the next hallway; we felt like we must be getting close to the temple. The battle was certainly more difficult, but Calodar ended it with a critical strike to the second after the rest of us killed the first.

We had a problem… not of the orc kind, but rather something much simpler – a locked door. Edge showed his thieving skills by pulling out what appeared to be improvised lock picks. He quickly made short work of the lock, and this allowed us entry into the temple area. A brief glance past the door showed us a few noteworthy items… an altar, a statue, a staircase, and, of course, two guards. These guards were much more intimidating than our previous watchers; they were bigger, wore plate mail, and carried greataxes (Orogs, as one in our group recognized). Edge’s cunning was again on display as he carefully snuck in through the temple door, surely on his way to recover the prized gems.

Edge’s sword, it seems, had other plans for the tabaxi—an attack (attacking / battle seems to be the defining personality of this sword). We immediately rushed in to assist our leader. It became apparent fairly quickly that this was going to be very difficult for our small group. We could only hope that Thock and Lucius would wake, discover our departure, and find the trail of death to the center temple. My sleep spell proved useless in the battle; I had obviously underestimated the orogs. We fought… and fought… and although I had not seen him earlier, I now discovered that Thock had indeed joined us (thanks the gods!).

After a seriously wounded Edge sneaked a vicious blade into the side of one of the orogs, Thock saw fit to antagonize the creature, encouraging it to hit him instead. This may have saved the Tabaxi's life, as the orog changed his attacks to target the half-orc. Edge took the opportunity to escape combat and run toward the statue; he had discovered that its eye sockets contained the gems we were seeking. I should take the time, now, to express how deeply impressed I am with my Tabaxi friend’s variety of skills. He easily climbed to the top of the statue and pried out both of the gems, without damaging either.

Elros, also heavily damaged, retreated from battle briefly and nabbed a few items from the altar. Thock the Mighty charged into battle, raging… (Have you ever seen an enraged half-orc swinging a greataxe in the middle of battle? It is truly awe-inspiring). My magic missile and attacks from others took down one orog, but the other landed a massive hit to Thock. Being at the center of attention, and having already absorbed most of the heavy battle blows, Thock appeared to stagger, as if he were going to fall. But, at the last moment his orcish resilience seemed to kick in, allowing him to remain standing. This allowed our group to finish off the remaining guard.

“We need to get out of here!” Lucius had arrived! He informed us that he had been guarding the secret door, but he alone was not enough to hold off the orcs that were quickly approaching. “Up the stairs,” yelled Calodar! Not having much time to think, and realizing that this surely was our best option, we complied.

After ascending the stairs, we could see daylight in the distance. We ran, past another room with a pool, to the exit on the far side. We made it outside and ran to the nearby hills and valleys as the orcs unskillfully hurled javelins at us (we easily dodged and escaped). We stayed hidden as the orcs searched for us, but soon they retreated.

Studying the landscape, we discovered a small village far away, barely visible. A river, perhaps an hour away, separated us from the village. As we made our plans, to venture into the village and perhaps barter for food, shelter, clothing, and equipment, Calodar informed us that this is where we part ways. He asked for one of the gems (apparently his god had informed him of which was the animus stone he was searching for), and Edge handed it over to him. Calodar was returning to Knurl, and invited us to look for him at the Crystal Goblet Inn there if we were ever in search of adventure.

Elros remained with our party, and we all decided to follow-up with a separate mission—to help our chef friend (Filbert Huggybottom, from the prison) find his sister. We were to meet him in the market on market day in the town of Ludunum. Could the town we discovered be Ludunum? Filbert’s sister was being held by a man named Balor Grim on something called an airship. I’ll have to learn more about this; the technology and mechanism of propulsion must be fascinating!

As luck would have it, the town was indeed our destination. However, we arrived at night, to a rather unfriendly (or perhaps just suspicious guard). They allowed us inside only after seeing that we could provide for ourselves. Having little money at this point (just a bag of gems that Edge had found), we stayed in the cheaper, market/bazaar district, at the Bizarre Inn.

That evening we made small talk at the bar and learned that “market day” was two days away. Thock also learned, to his embarrassment, and to the crowd’s amusement, that duergar barmaids are not to be trifled with, especially in an arm-wrestling match.
We passed time the next day securing clothing, resources, and some simple weapons. The townsfolk were bustling around the streets and the areas just outside the gates, setting up carts and welcoming the caravans that were beginning to arrive. The primary route for many was between Ludunum and a town called Haven. The noble cleric Lucius learned (he has a knack for extracting information) that Haven might also provide us answers to our questions about airships.

Market Day. It was an exciting time around town, with much activity among a variety of people (many different races and social classes). Common agricultural and hand crafted goods were bountiful, but there were also stalls for the more unique needs… mystics and healers and such (I procured a much-needed crystal that will serve to focus my magic).

Shortly before lunchtime, Filbert found us. We learned more about the assignment he had for us. Balor Grim, a cambion (strange human-fiend offspring), was holding his sister Molly on an airship called Grim’s Folly, but the airship has been relocated. Its primary power source is a gem, which Filbert had stolen, but apparently the ship also contained smaller stones that allow for some minimal movement. Filbert did not know exactly where the ship was, but it should be within about a day’s travel from Haven. One of the ship’s mates, a boy called Lucas, has been seen buying supplies there. Having worked on the Folly for some time, Filbert is able to give us a sketch of its layout and rooms.
Lucius worked his magic again with the leader of one of the caravans. He not only secured us passage to Haven, but also negotiated a deal for our services along the way. The journey to Haven can be dangerous, especially for the merchant-types who might be carrying a vast amount of wealth. Groups of bandits have been hassling them, and while they are often able to push back against the thieves, they do lose a wagon or two on occasion. If we were to help guard the caravan and stop the bandits, they will pay us 2 gold pieces per day and allow us to keep whatever bandit-possessions we find.

So… on to Haven!
 

AriochQ

Explorer
Just a quick comment, it is easy to forget that the party started with almost no equipment. It wasn't until they got to Ludunum that they got some basic adventuring gear. It made the early battles interesting!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Five

We finally met our friend Calodar’s long lost companion Faithless in the village. Calodar had sent us a note that she would be seeking us out in the village on trade day and wished to join our expedition. ‘Why not?’ I thought. Afterall, I knew most of these folks by virtue of a prison break alone - here was someone with a recommendation!

I must say Faithless was surprising. It was hard to imagine that Faithless had been the companion of Calodar. She clearly had the taint of demon blood and openly admitted she had a demon patron. She was a practicer of dark arts magic and it boggled my mind to consider she had accompanied our paladin friend. If Calodar saw something in her, I needed to at least give her a chance.

*****

The following morning we assembled in caravan square. The caravan square was little more than a dirt patch outside of the village walls. We quickly found Cassius, our caravan master, in pre-dawn glow and his six wagons loaded and ready to go. We spread out amongst the wagons and I took a seat next to the driver of the last wagon. My companion driver was also the caravan cook. We chatted amiably and I learned that he was a simple man with a real passion for the culinary arts. Once again, I found myself charming the cook.

The first day’s travel was uneventful. Actually, that’s an overstatement - the first day was tedious and boring. The wagon trail was merely a pair of ruts cut through the turf and wilderness. The scenery was largely open plains with a few rolling hills. A couple of hours before sunset the caravan came to a stop. I wondered if something was wrong with the lead wagon, but then I learned that we were to stop here for the evening.

I hopped down from the wagon to go confer with my compatriots and Cassius came striding up to the group. “Come with me,” Cassius ordered. We hesitated, but Cassius strode into a nearby woods without comment or explanation. We all made haste to catch up with the wagon master.

“Should we be leaving the caravan unguarded?” Edgy asked.

I must admit, I was a bit shocked by this sagacious question from the fickle Tabaxi.

“It will be fine,” Cassius assured us. “The real trouble is at least a couple of days down the road.”

It was clear Cassius had been this way many times before and he went directly to a large tree. He moved some bark aside on the tree, revealing a secret cubby hole. Within the niche was a bell, which Cassius removed and shook vigorously sending its tone throughout the woods.

A short time later a human male started moving towards us. He was zig-zagging through the woods and making little hops and half moves as he gradually came toward us. His movement reminded me of a wounded rabbit trying to escape. He finally came face-to-face with Cassius and us and the two men exchanged a greeting. During the greeting they gave each other a strange salute.

“These are the ones you selected,” the man asked.

“Yes, I hired them on market day,” Cassius replied.

“Are you competent warriors?” the man asked us.

I was tempted to reply that we were competent thieves and that he should throw down that leather satchel he was carrying, but discretion curbed my potential outburst. We replied that we were competent and the man seemed satisfied.

He and Cassius exchanged satchels and the man gave Cassius a purse bulging with coins. “Make sure you kill those bandits,” he stated. Grabbing up his delivered satchel he left much the way he came - zig-zagging and hopping through the forest.

While we had learned that someone else was actually footing the bill for the protection of the caravan, not Cassius, the whole event created many more questions than it answered. Cassius rebuffed all of our inquiries as we made our way back to the caravan.

*****

The second day was also uneventful, save for a brief break for repairing a broken wheel.

*****

The third day Cassius warned us that it would be likely the bandits would attack. He suggested a Trojan Horse style plan wherein we would pile into a caravan wagon and feign a broken wheel and jump out when the bandits attacked. Sadly, I was forced to drive the wagon. Naturally, as a man of noble birth I had never driven a coach - let alone a wagon! However, ever the sacrificing soul, I realized I was the most qualified for this lowly job.

Mid-morning we encountered a barrier across the path, just as Cassius had expected. The caravan began making its way around the barrier. I carefully swerved our Trojan Horse away from the rest of the wagon line and then brought the wagon to a stop. Like moths to a flame, the bandits emerged from the surrounding hills and attacked!

I spied a huge humanoid that looked like it had a fair amount of ogre blood coursing through its veins. I charged the half-ogre with abandon calling on Kord to bring me victory. I hewed and hacked at the enormous creature, but it was like hacking at an oak with a dagger. Thankfully, Thock made his way to the melee and hacked the monster down. By now, I had suffered mightily from the half-ogre’s attacks and feared I might bleed out. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw that our new companion Faithless had fallen.

I made my way toward Faithless and then a bolt shot from a crossbow hit me. With horror I realized that the bolt was poisoned and I too fell.

*****

Darkness.

*****

The rolling, jarring rhythm of a wagon began to wake me. I learned the bandits had been defeated and Edgy had rushed to save me from bleeding out. My life saved by the feline companion! Would my shame have no end! As I recovered I cast healing prayers on myself, Edgy, and Faithless.

We came into a small town with an inn. We were stopped short of the inn by a group of guards from the city of Haven. They asked about our travels and Cassius lied and stated the trip had been uneventful. The guards also said they were looking for people in a secret organization known as the Agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood. After reassurances from Cassius the guards allowed us to pass.

Following a restful night we made our way into the city of Haven after a short final leg of the journey. When we arrived in the city Cassius paid us and wished us well.

One of the first things I observed about the city of Haven that folks wandered around very well-armed. Guards, clad in black armor with a livery bearing a symbol of a Pan grasping a sword, seemed to be everywhere. This was certainly a rough and tumble place!

We found an amazing market on our way to an inn. We found a magic scroll shop and I got a quote from the wizened Gnome owner of 3,200 gold for a scroll of control weather that I possessed. Edgy asked if there was anyway we could make a trade with the scroll dealer to get the means of relieving him from the cursed orc sword he still carried.

We then went to the Mages College and found an expert to evaluate whether a Remove Curse would allow Edgy to separate from the cursed weapon. The expert mage cost us 100 gold coins, but we found out the weapon was a powerful, sacred item to the orcs and their temple in the city might do the prayer for free. We made our way quickly to the orc temple.

Eventually we met with an old, one-eyed, orc shaman who was immediately taken with the cursed sword. He not only removed the curse, but Edgy managed to get some magical armor in trade! Not worth an eye, but better than nothing!

This boon meant I could sell the scroll and add a great amount of wealth to the group’s loot. I purchased a suit of platemail, a shield, and a mighty warhammer. Finally, I felt like a worthy follower of Kord!

*****

While all of these side excursions proved highly worthwhile and profitable, we had not lost sight of the fact that we were in Haven for a specific task. We needed to trail a young man accompanied by a Bugbear who was tasked with getting supplies for the airship Grim’s Folly. Grim’s Folly was the airship that was holding our Halfling cook’s sister prisoner. We did not know exactly where the Grim’s Folly was, but we hoped the supply errand would lead us to it.

Tomorrow we go to Trade Island and begin our mission of shadowing.
 

AriochQ

Explorer
DM Note -

I tend to be pretty laid back about players missing sessions. If a player isn't present, the PC generally follows behind at a safe distance taking no action. They can be called upon to perform a critical function (a rogue picking a lock for instance), but otherwise do very little until the player returns.

In episode 4, we knew two players were going to arrive late, so the PC's slept in! As it turned out, they arrived just in time to turn the tide of battle. An accidental heroic entrance!
 

pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Six

The dawning sunlight flickered through the dirty inn window as I finished my early morning prayers to Kord. Truly I was blessed. Escaping from slavery with nothing but the shirt off of my back, I now had enough coin for food, shelter, and a fine set of armor and weapons. If I was truly a chosen of Kord, I knew greater challenges lay ahead. Only through darkness can the Will shine. I knew this was not a mere platitude, but soon my blessed deity Kord would demand more of me with the boons He had provided. The strongest armor is true faith.

The task before us was defined, but challenging. We had agreed to save the sister of a Halfling chef, Mr. Huggybottom (an unfortunate family name), from captivity. Ms. Huggybottom was being held on a great airship known as Grim’s Folly. Mr. Huggybottom had absconded with a great gem that was the primary propulsion magic of the airship. In revenge, and assumably to gain leverage over Mr. Huggybottom, the dastardly captain of the airship had kidnapped his sister.

One would assume such a rare and large artifact as an airship lacking main propulsion would be relatively easy to find. Yet, we were not precisely sure where the airship was. We did learn that the ship was near the city of Haven. We also knew it still had some limited mobility through its lesser maneuvering gems. Finally, we had learned that the ship’s cabin boy frequently came to Haven to buy supplies for the ship. The cabin boy’s identification would be made much simpler by his chosen companion, a bugbear. The task would thus be to follow the cabin boy and the bugbear back to the airship.

We had obtained a detailed diagram from Huggybottom of the airship’s layout. The airship was nothing akin to the floating spheres released at Needfest, this was a massive vehicle. We had some idea of a few locations where the hostage might be held on the ship, but nothing solid. Unfortunately, finding the airship might be the easiest part of our task!

*****

It occurred to me that we would need a way to follow the cabin boy after he had made his purchases at the market. In other words, we would need to hire or buy a boat. After inquiring about available boats from several locals they suggested with some visible contempt that perhaps we should try the boatyard. Patience for foreigners was not a particular strong suit for Haven residents, even during market times.

The shipyard was located, and after limiting haggling, a suitable long boat was purchased. The longboat, christened secretly by me as Kord’s Divine Waverunner, was deposited near numerous other boats at the end of the central market island. A short discussion ensued on whether the newly purchased conveyance required a guard, but observing all the rest of the nearby boats had made no such safeguards, we adjudged our craft safe for the nonce.

The search for the cabin boy and the bugbear on the island, crowded by trade traffic, began in earnest. I quickly determined that this market would be a very tough place for a pickpocket to make a living. Guards were seemingly everywhere. Even a lively debate between merchants and customers drew their immediate attention. This state affairs quickly nullified any notions of employing our “plan B” of kidnapping the cabin boy and forcing him to reveal the location of the airship.

The powerful magician, Shen and I pronounced that we would remain on the end of the island where the bulk goods were sold. We were confident someone seeking to restock an airship would largely spend their time there. Faithless and Thock would do laps around the island looking. Edgy, the cat of fugacious intent and wandering motives, would search in his own way, which at best could be described as distractedly.

Shen, the Elf-blooded, sharp-eyed illusionist, spied the pair first bartering with a merchant. After a quick word it was decided that Shen would keep track of our quarry and I would alert the others. I promptly found Thock and Faithless and directed them back to Shen. My remaining task of finding Edgy was akin to pushing a chain up a tree. Fortuitously, I found Edgy eyeing some market items with the malefic intent of committing a petty crime. I distracted him long enough to bring him back to the rest of the group.

The cabin boy was a sandy-haired youth with a bob in his step and a friendly countenance. No doubt his bargaining leverage was greatly enhanced by his companion. The bugbear exuded malice and was ugly even by the standards of that foul race. The bugbear was over seven feet tall and seemingly just as wide at the shoulders. His shambling gait and ease of lifting heavy boxes gave evidence of his tremendous strength. The pair loaded their small sloop with their numerous purchases and set sail on the river. Our crew scrambled to our beached longboat to give chase.

The straight river leading to the city of Haven was fairly easy to navigate but required arduous rowing. The strain of the rowing began to tell as we moved up the river. As those mighty waters bent back and forth like a colossal, liquid snake we were quickly losing sight of our sailing target. We rounded one bend in the river far from the city and just caught sight of the sailing ship going aloft. Many curses were sounded as we realized we were now tailing a flying vessel!

Quickly the longboat was rowed ashore as we kept an eye on the sloop floating over a wooded area away from us. Hasty efforts to conceal the rowboat with a bit of brush was made before we took off on foot following. Our only hope was that the sloop would not go far or we would surely lose it. To add to our difficulty we were now travelling on some rough ground through the woods. With heads craned high we tried to catch glimpses of the sloop through the trees’ canopy.

Occasionally, someone would go down and try to pop right back up to continue the pursuit. Then, someone tripped over a nest of ground hornets. We forged our way through that stinging cloud, weaving and slapping at the pests as we sprinted on. Thock managed to catch a glimpse of the sloop in the far distance and encouraged the exhausted group to redouble our efforts. Suddenly, I felt something large and leathery drop on my shoulders from above. As thick coils tried to wrap around my torso, I could tell I had been attacked by a massive snake. A scream from Faithless confirmed that there was not one snake attacking us, but two!

While most of the group struggled with the snakes, Thock continued his bounding chase of the sloop. As unnerving as the constrictor attacks were, the group actually made short work of the snakes and continued our hasty travel. Now we were chasing Thock and were hoping the big orc-blooded barbarian was keeping the sloop in sight. I noticed we were catching Thock and then realized he had actually stopped.

As we breathlessly caught up to Thock, he turned toward us and put a finger to his lips to indicate we should move quietly. Thock had reached the edge of the treeline of the woods and was walking cautiously in half circles looking up through the trees.

“Where is the sloop?” Faithless whispered.

“It disappeared,” Thock answered.

“You lost it?” Faithless asked.

“Yes, but it just disappeared,” Thock replied. He pointed at the wide expanse of sky beyond the treeline. “If it continued in this direction, I should be able to see it for a long way yet.”

“It’s invisible?” Shen queried.

“A possibility,” I offered. Now we were trying to chase a flying and invisible sloop - not good odds.

The Tabaxi offered to scale a nearby tree and see if he could tell where the sloop had gone. Scaling one of the taller trees, Edgy stumbled on what appeared to be a large anchor chain that reached up and disappeared in the sky. He came back and reported to the group. After a quick discussion we surmised the sloop had actually docked on the airship, which was enclosed in some sort of displacement field.

A cold camp was set up and we decided on a watch. The plan was in the late evening we would storm the airship and rescue the halfling’s sister.

“What if we have Edge shimmy up the chain and check things out first?” Shen suggested.

“I do not plan on doing any shaking style dances,” Edgy retorted.

“No, just shimmy up the chain - you know - climb it,” Shen replied.

“Oh, you mean have me SHINNY up the chain and scout around,” Edgy stated. “That, I will do.”

“Shinny?” Shen asked.

“Indeed,” the smirking cat replied.

Shen shook his shoulders and the plan was agreed to.

*****

That evening while I was on guard there was a large POP noise, almost explosive in nature. The rest of the group was startled awake and quickly inundated me with questions about what the noise was. I had no idea, but was fairly certain it had originated on the ground not far from our camp. A quick search yielded no source of the noise. The event was concerning, but remained a mystery.

*****

They say what makes man the wisest animal is his ability to learn from his past. THEY have never met our group. Once again we were trusting Edgy to go up and scout a situation and report back quickly to the group. This really is akin to sending a toddler to the pantry to fetch a broom - 20 minutes later you get up and go to the pantry to find the toddler eating from a wheel of cheese. That was about the level of focus we could expect the Tabaxi to have, and yet, here we were doing it again.

In preparation for Edgy’s scouting, Shen cast his ineffable invisibility spell on him. We heard Edgy quickly scale the tree, climb the chain and was gone. Minutes went by, and then, a quarter of an hour went by.

“We need to go after him,” Shen suggested. It was agreed to with myself mumbling something about the predictable whimsy of our cat-like friend. One-by-one we slowly scaled the chain and made our way to the deck of a large ship.

*****

We had climbed aboard the craft in the aft section. We were not immediately confronted by its crew, nor did we have any indication Edgy was nearby.

“Mayhaps you should drop the dweomer so we can find Edgy?” I whispered to Shen.

“Guessing at Edge’s predilection of placing himself in dire circumstances, that might not be wise,” Shen answered.

I was forced to agree.

We carefully made our way around the edge of the back of the ship’s deck and could see a bugbear guard stationed in the structure above our place. If we moved further forward the beast would surely see us. Shen stepped forward and unleashed Shen’s Suggestion of Slumbering spell and the bugbear fell with a THUD. Unfortunately, Shen’s arcane vocalizations alerted others and soon bugbears in various parts of the ship were bellowing in alarm!

A bugbear across the deck started towards our group and with a prayer the Greater Glorious Bolt of Kord brought him down. Not far from where the bugbear was felled by the almighty righteousness of Kord Edgy appeared opening a door, attacked a bugbear, and then slammed the door. While Edgy avoided contact with the bugbears the rest of the party slew every one that crossed their path. The melee slowed down, but suddenly things took a turn for the worse.

Captain Grim, a cambion, appeared on the deck. Strife is a Blessing under the will of Kord. Without hesitation the group threw themselves at the cambion. Captain Grim realizing the danger of facing such a crowd retreated into the forecastle. Edgy was noticeably absent from the effort against the cambion. The combined efforts of the group was taking its toll on the Captain, and then suddenly, he disappeared.

“He planeshifted,” Shen announced disgustedly.

“What?” Thock asked.

“He is no longer in this world,” Shen replied.

There were still a few bugbears loose on the ship. As the group began mopping up the bugbears, we heard a female voice yelling. “Put me down!” the voice cried out. As the bugbears fell we watched as a petite, female gnome screamed at Edgy on the deck. Finally, Edgy set the gnome down and she sprinted away from him back into the forward structure.

*****

When the last bugbear fell the group congregated in the small cabin where Edgy had found the diminutive female. She introduced herself as Molly Sprocket, captive head mechanic of the ship. Then we learned she was Filbert Huggybottom’s sister, or more accurately, step-sister.

“You would think he might mention his sister was a different race.” I sarcastically intoned.

“Well, it is rare for gnomes to be raised by halflings, but not unheard of,” Shen replied.

“She almost got me killed!” Edgy whined.

“You wouldn’t unhand me you flea-bitten beast,” Molly spat back.

“We should dump you right over the side!” Edgy exclaimed.

“Just you try, puffball,” Molly retorted.

Calmer heads prevailed and Molly was convinced to fly the ship back to meet with her brother.
The rescued will return to rescue the rescuer under the will of Kord.

“We need to move right away before Grim can come back,” Molly said.

Jolted to action by the possible return of the cambion, we immediately set about getting the ship in motion. We escorted the gnome down to the ship's bowels and listened carefully to her instructions on how to crew the flying ship. I did notice a massive pedestal with a vacant indent, which undoubtedly was reserved for the gem Filbert had stolen.

Finally, I noticed that Edgy was gone again. I set off to find him and eventually located the Tabaxi prone and unconscious in the captain’s quarters. I checked his signs to make sure he was still alive and after assuring myself that he was going to live ascertained he had set off a trap trying to open the ship’s treasure chest. I distributed the treasure amongst the group, while Edgy sulked - whether from the gnome’s insults or the loss of the ship’s fortune I could not be sure.

As we set sail across the land slowly moving along I finally relaxed and began going through my pack. There I found a sealed missive with the wax imprint of my father’s house. I gingerly opened the letter and learned of my family’s incredible misfortune. Through the maze-like politics of the noble families, my father had taken the fall and was imprisoned. My mother and sister had narrowly escaped, but were impoverished and barely surviving. The letter explained they had used their last coins to get a magician to deliver this message to me. I quickly realized what the loud pop had been when I was on watch at camp the previous evening. The letter closed with a pleading to come home and restore my family.

*****

I announced to my friends my predicament back home. Further, I related that following our reunification of the Huggybottoms I would be heading home to undo this injustice. My only request, that if possible, could we use the airship to speed my conveyance home. Kord answered my prayers and the group resoundingly affirmed that they would not only take me home, but offered to aid in any way they could.

Kord creates the Holy Nation where there was none before. Amen.
 
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Airflo

Visitor
I was greatly pleased at the inclusion of the "shinny/shimmy" discussion as a character interaction. After quizzing those around me in the following weeks I'm still the only one who seems to be familiar with the term "shinny". Strange.
 

pogre

Adventurer
The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Seven

Floating on an airship was an odd sensation. It was nothing like my experiences on sea ships. Somehow the airship was more stable and the sensation was more akin to standing on springy, green grass. I tried to concentrate on the instructions I was being given. The Gnomish engineer Molly Sprocket was trying to give me a lesson in crewing this marvelous vessel. “...and don’t do that or you will make the whole thing instable.” Molly eyed me suspiciously. “Did you get all of that?”

“I’m so sorry Molly. Would you mind saying it again?” I asked sheepishly. The little gal spoke in an amazing high staccato voice, which I found delightful, but also amazingly easy to fade into the background like a morning bird singing.

“A little focus here Lucius!” she demanded.

“Of course, you have my undivided attention,” I replied. The truth was she was quite darling when she was frustrated. She reminded me of a cute little animal, scurrying and peeping about in search of its mother. She truly was a delight and…

“So that’s how the horizontal rudder works,” she stated. Her eyes narrowed at me. “Your undivided attention, remember!”

“Yes, yes of course,” I reassured her. “The horizontal rudder,” I repeated.

Molly’s exasperation was nearly palpable, and I honestly tried to focus. “At least you are trying to learn. That stupid cat won’t even listen to anything I say,” Molly said.

I smiled. “Well, have you ever known a trained cat? Perhaps if you offered Edgy food?”

“Edgy?” she asked.

“That’s my little nickname for him. It seems to fit,” I replied.

“I have other names for him,” Molly stated. I smiled and our lesson continued.

*****

I soon regretted not paying closer attention to my lessons with Molly. Sailing this airship with a skeleton crew of greenhorns was going to be tougher than I anticipated. We swayed up and down and back and forth making very little progress. We were much like a young boy trying to learn to walk on stilts - a couple of quick steps and then a fall.

Shen wandered across the deck and asked Molly, “Is the displacement field wearing off?”

“Yes, and it will soon be gone,” Molly confirmed.

“Can we reactivate it?” the Half-elf sorcerer asked.

“I doubt it very much. It was the result of a bargain Grim struck.”

“Grim was the Cambion who planeshifted away,” Shen remarked.

“Yep, and he was the captain. He summoned a demon and made a pact with him,” Molly said.

“How do you know?” Faithless asked. I had noticed the Tiefling making her way over to the conversation. She always seemed particularly interested in Captain Grim.

“He made me watch the summoning and negotiation. I guess he wanted me to see how powerful he was or something,” Molly said.

“That’s delicious,” Faithless quipped.

“What?” Molly exclaimed.

“Hey, just because the guy is our new number one enemy does not mean I cannot find him incredibly dreamy,” Faithless retorted. “Besides you have to admit seeing him summon that big, bad-boy demon and forcing him into a pact was pretty sexy!”

“What is wrong with you?” Molly exclaimed.

“What kind of demon was it Molly?” I asked.

Molly recovered enough to say she did not know anything about demons. However, she did note the big, ugly demon, was held in a pentagram, and Grim kept calling him ‘Uncle Balow.’

“We may have earned a very powerful enemy considering those connections,” Shen stated.

“I think I’m in love,” Faithless said and promptly skipped away from the conversation.

“Grim is dangerous,” Molly confirmed. “That’s why we have to keep this ship moving. Let’s get back to it.” Molly pointed at Faithless and asked, “Is she alright?”

I nodded and said, “Mostly.” I headed back to my station on the ship.

*****

“Hey. watch the second rope there. Get with it or get out of the way,” Lukas the cabin boy was yelling at me. “You want me to show you how to do it?”

I had endured all of the mouthing off I could take from this young boy. I motioned for him to come over. “So do you need me to show you how it’s done?” the boy asked in a highly condescending tone.

“No, I think I can figure it out. I was calling you over to get away from the aft of the ship,” I replied.

“Why’s that?”

“See that sleepy half-orc that just emerged from the rear cabins and is rubbing the sleep from his eyes?”

“Yeah, that’s Thock,” Lukas replied.

“Precisely. He just woke up and that means he is hungry.”

“We have lots of food. I bought a bunch in Haven,” Lukas cheerfully replied.

“Yes, well, Thock is rather fond of fresh flesh, particularly human flesh,” I whispered.

“He’s a cannibal!”

“He does not see it that way. His orcish blood sometimes boils to the top and you my friend are particularly young and fresh.”

“You think he might eat me?” Lukas had a sense of dread in his voice.

“He would regret it of course, but sometimes his base urges take over. It would be best to keep a low profile, especially when he is sleeping or has just woken up,” I advised the cabin boy.

Lukas nodded thoughtfully and slinked away. No more orders and obnoxious comments came from the cabin boy.

*****

“You are getting better at that,” Thock said looking over my shoulder.

“Thanks, I’m trying,” I replied. “I think we are finally making progress.”

“What’s with Lukas?” Thock asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Every time I see him he runs the other way.”

“I told him you might eat him.”

Thock roared with laughter. “Too stringy.”

“Don’t tell him that!” I exclaimed. “It’s the only thing keeping the kid’s mouth shut.”

Thock slapped me on the back and moved on to the galley to get a bite to eat.

*****

Molly stopped by near the end of my shift and was pleased with my progress, only making gentle reminders to help me with my job. I was starting to get more confidence in helping steer the ship. Molly mentioned we were seeing more population as we continued on our trek. It was undoubtedly going to bring the ship more attention. Molly also shared that our craft was one of only seven airships left in the entire world. We chatted amiably for a bit longer. My shift finally finished and I headed to bed.

The second day we made even more progress. Everyone was doing better at steering the airship and the miles were flying by. The day was delightfully uneventful and almost relaxing. And why shouldn’t I feel relaxed? What could possibly threaten us while we were flying over 100 feet off the ground? I went to bed confident I would get another restful night of sleep.

*****

A scream tore through the night air jarring me from my slumber. In my semi-conscious state I grabbed for my weapon and saw Shen dashing past my door. I ran after the Half-elf with my weapon at the ready. Shen ran out of the aft cabins with me on his tail. I saw Edgy emerging from the cabins too.

Then, I heard it. A beautiful sound that seemed to caress my very soul. A delightful song so enthralling I was drawn to its source. I saw Shen hesitate in front of me and quickly threw off the effects of the charming song. Shen and I had avoided the magical lure of this music, but it was clear Edgy had not. The Tabaxi was moving quickly towards the forward part of the vessel.

Shen continued across the deck and skipped up the outer steps of the forecastle and I saw him unleash Shen’s Marvelous Missiles of Unerring Flight. I was at a disadvantage. It was not pitch dark, thanks to a half moon and little cloud cover, but I had no idea what the threat was. I only knew where Shen and Edgy were. Further, Edgy was under the influence of a magical song, and what very little willpower the Tabaxi normally possessed was tapped. I despaired momentarily at the whirlwind of chaos I was being swept up in.
From the chaos of man comes the order of divine Kord.

Edgy came running past Shen. I witnessed the sorceror’s heroic effort to tackle the Tabaxi. Edgy managed to slip Shen’s grip and galloped forward to the front of the ship. It was then that I saw the enemy. Oh, but if mere words could describe this malformation of femininity! It possessed the torso of an unclad woman, but it’s face was a menacing sight with dark eyes and pointed teeth. It was from this dangerous maw that the song emitted. It’s legs were like a bird’s and terminated in very large, grasping talons. A pair of wings flapped from its back to keep this abomination aloft.

Now atop the forecastle fully, I could see there were at least three of these beasts. Thock, the mighty Half-orc, was slashing at the creatures with his mighty weapon. A flash of hellfire scorching one of the harpies told me that Faithless had joined the fray as well, although I could not see her. Edgy meanwhile was in full sprint heading towards the foul fowl when suddenly the Tabaxi pulled up short. Remarkably, somehow his will re-asserted itself and he broke the effect of the harpy’s song.

Suddenly, the airship precipitously dropped a few dozen feet! I struggled to maintain my balance. I wondered if the airship’s magical gems were somehow failing and we were in danger of crashing! I quickly realized the advantage the drop had given us. The harpies were caught off guard by the drop and cried out it in anger. They disappeared in the darkness for a moment. I heard Faithless call out that they were underneath the ship.

Thock went to his belly and leaned his torso out over the bow of the ship to try and see the beasts. Talons quickly locked on the barbarian and a pair of harpies were flapping madly to try and pull Thock from the deck. Faithless rushed over and cast her hellfire at one of the harpies. The spell hit home, but the wounded harpy was undeterred. The two harpies pulled Thock aloft away from the ship and then let him go. I watched as Thock plummeted into the darkness below. Enraged, I sent a Bolt of Kord at one of the beasts. The harpy easily dodged the bolt.

Rage has no place in battle, only the calm of Kord.


Shen cast Shen’s Thundering Shatter at a pair of the harpies. I heard the loud ringing and the pair of harpies dropped lifelessly from the sky. Edgy attacked one of the harpies and wounded it. I prayed for the Great Spiritual Hammer of Kord and followed that up with a Bolt of Kord. The hammer missed, but the bolt did not, and another harpy fell lifeless from the night sky. Faithless poured hellfire on another harpy, and the singed avian creature and its companion flew off in retreat.

*****

Miraculously, Kord be praised, Thock survived the drop. We hauled him back aboard. I prayed for healing for the barbarian and he was soon feeling whole again. Molly Sprocket, our Gnomish engineer, emerged from the depths of the ship. She told us she had dropped the ship from the gem chamber and reassured us the ship was not in danger of falling from the sky.

We continued on our way. However, I would not allow my vigilance to slip again. Clearly, the harpies’ attack had been a message from Kord.

The complacent warrior is soon truly resting in peace.

*****

The next couple of days passed uneventfully and we set the ship down on a small body of water not far from the village where we had promised to meet Philbert on Market Day. A group of us escorted Molly into the village to meet with Philbert. As we came into the village, the market was laid out much in the way we had seen before. It looked like even the same caravans were back. I recognized our former caravan master from our trip to Haven. He smiled and approached.

“Well met Lucius,” he said in greeting.

“Blessings of Kord,” I replied.

“How are your travels? Are you again seeking work?” he asked.

“Things are well Master Cassius. Kord has provided and I am not seeking work,” I replied.

“Good! Good, my friend! Have you heard rumors on the road?” Cassius asked.

“The road is paved with rumors Master Cassius,” I replied.

He gave a chuckle and a nod at this, but continued, “I have heard of a great flying ship in the area. Do you know anything of it?”

“I know a great deal of it,” I answered.

“Do tell brother Lucius,” Cassius said.

“Sadly, that would betray an honor-bound confidence. I can only confirm that it exists and is a wondrous craft,” I said.

“Well, I envy your knowledge, but admire your honor more. I wish you well Lucius.”

We grasped forearms quickly and took leave of each other’s company.

Molly asked me after the exchange with Cassius why I had not told the merchant more about the ship. I replied that I did not trust him.

*****

We quickly found Filbert meandering through the market and the sibling reunion was touching and amusing. Following a loving embrace, Molly thoroughly dressed Filbert down for his actions and the danger he had placed her in. Filbert was contrite, but could not hide his joy at seeing his step-sister again. We moved into a more private location and settled into a conversation about our future plans.

We told Filbert we needed the main propulsion gem he had stolen and wanted him to join the crew as our cook. He readily agreed to join our crew, but admitted he did not have the gem, but that it was hidden nearby.

“Where is it?” Molly asked.

“In the graveyard,” Philbert whispered.

“Filbert! Why?” Molly’s tone was one of absolute exasperation.

“It is in a good spot. I slipped it into a commoner’s coffin. I know just where the grave is.”

We quickly agreed we would have to come back in the evening to dig up the grave. Filbert promised to pick up a few provisions and meet us at the ship later.

Shen had followed up a lead Filbert had given him about a possible new crew member. He had managed to hire a strapping youth from a farm named Marco. He had promised the young man the princely sum of six gold per month! Occasionally, my companions low breeding revealed itself. Everyone knows overpaying the help is just asking for trouble! The farm boy was grinning widely when I met him. Why wouldn’t he? An untrained servant making over a gold per week should be smiling! I suspected if we posted those rates in the village we would have had half the population on our ship!

*****

We returned to the ship and planned our night time foray into the graveyard. When the sun went down we headed back to the edge of the cemetery outside the village. Shen cast his Ineffable Invisibility on Thock and me. When we reached the gravesite I cast Kord’s Blessed Silence on our location. Thus protected, we began digging and soon reached a plain wooden coffin. The spell and prayer kept us from being seen or heard, but it did not keep us from those charnel odors of a fresh grave. As the rot reached my nose I had to turn to the side and retch. After recovering from my brief illness we pulled the coffin from the hole.

The prayer causing silence had expired and Thock quickly noticed that there was some thing scratching inside the coffin. We motioned for the rest of the group to join us and I explained that there was probably an undead creature trapped in the coffin. Everyone took up ready positions as Thock prepared to open the coffin lid. I had my holy symbol of Kord out ready to force the creature from us.

Thock pried the lid open and a wretched undead creature climbed out. I immediately recognized this monstrosity as a ghast. I held forth my holy symbol and chanted, “Be gone! The Power of Kord compels you!” The ghast retreated before the mighty Will of Kord. As the vile ghast retreated away from us, Shen reached into the coffin and retrieved a massive gem. We decided quickly to leave the scene. “What about the ghast loose in the village?” Shen asked. “They buried it. They can deal with it,” Thock answered. We made haste away from the graveyard and returned to the ship.

On the walk back to the ship I wondered to myself if the villagers had known that they had buried a ghast. Another frightening thought occurred to me then - what if the magic of the propulsion gem was somehow responsible for this undead manifestation? I largely dismissed this possibility, but I would still keep it mind as we traveled under its power.

Fret not of possibilities and trust the Will of Kord.

*****

The fortnight journey back to the lone heath bogs near Rel Astra was done largely at very high altitudes. Although I did not drop my guard, it was a relaxing journey. We set the ship down in the bogs near an isolated settlement where I suspected my sister and mother were hidden. Indeed, in short order, I was reunited with my kin. After a tearful reunion they apprised me of the situation in the city.

My poor father was wrongly accused of treason against the city by our family’s rivals. What was a greater mystery to me was why the judge of the case, Lord Fabrece, might be inclined to rule against him. I knew of no grievance between our noble families and no close association between him and our rivals. What I needed was a connection and introduction to the judge so that I could ascertain what was afoot in this conspiracy.

My mother suggested that I seek out my old friend Tillius Cember. He was still a senator and had given what aid he could to our family during the crisis. Perhaps he could give me the introduction I sought. We spent the night in the bog and then planned to head to Rel Astra the following day.

*****

Rel Astra is a massive, diverse city. Its ruler is Drax. Drax is an animus - an undead construct of the Emperor, Ivid the Mad. As the Emperor has devolved more and more into his insanity - Drax and his city have become increasingly independent. Despite this, Rel Astra still remained a city married to its laws that emphasized gravitas and duty from its citizens. Needless to say, flying a ship directly into the city would be a bad idea.

We flew a circuitous route around the great port city and set our craft down in the sea. Once we reached a respectable distance from the docks we took one of the smaller crafts to the city docks. We wandered about the city for a while, and as dusk came upon the city, I led my companions to the villa of Senator Cember.

When we reached the villa it was a bit late, but it was clear the senator was entertaining. There were all the signs of a classic Rel Astra noble party. The bedecked guards were greeting folks as they came in the doors with solemn nods. From within the villa we could hear the sounds of merriment and mirth. My companions and I hesitated. We were certainly not dressed for such a high gala. I resolved finally that we should push forward as time was of the essence.

The guards immediately stopped us. I took a direct approach telling them to inform the senator that his friend Lucius Gnaeus was here to see him. A look of recognition passed over one of the guard’s faces and he whispered something to the other guard. The guard departed and instructed us to wait at the entrance. In short order the guard returned and quickly ushered us inside.

“My friend!” Tillius greeted me warmly.

We exchanged a hug and he motioned at a table burdened with a banquet, “Tell your friends to eat and drink while you and I catch up.”

I thought Edgy’s remaining eye might come loose at this suggestion and he pounced on the banquet table inhaling the victuals. Tillius and I retired to a side room.

I informed Tillius of my plan to meet with Lord Fabrice and see if I could convince him of my father’s innocence. Tillius counseled against this, telling me that our family’s enemies had gained a great deal of fortune since I had left. In fact, our family was just one of several that they had ruined in their avarice. Unfortunately, Lord Fabrece was solidly in their pockets.

“What leverage can I gain over Fabrece if he is already corrupted?” I asked.

“You may remember that there was a cloud of suspicion over Lord Fabrece some time ago in a plot to overthrow Drax,” Tillius replied.

“I don’t remember that,” I admitted.

“Yes, he and a wizard were implicated in the plot. As the net was closing in on them, the wizard mysteriously disappeared and has not been seen since. Naturally, the conspiracy charges fell apart after that.”

“Lord Fabrece covered his tracks it would seem,” I said dejectedly.

“Not entirely, my friend,” Tillius said. “I happen to know there was some correspondence between the wizard and Lord Fabrece that must be terribly damning.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“I learned through my connections that Lord Fabrece sponsored an expedition to invade the departed wizard’s tower to recover these missives. However, the group was unsuccessful and many died due to the tower’s protective wards,” Tillius stated.

“Serves them right,” I replied.

“I think you are missing my point - if you were to retrieve these letters - you would have great leverage indeed over Lord Fabrece. A favorable judgment for your father could be virtually guaranteed,” Tillius explained.

“Where is this tower?” I asked.

“I will have my guards escort you. One of them recognized you anyway. There’s no need to tip Lord Fabrece that you have returned,” Tillius said.

“Thank you so much Tillius. No matter what happens, I owe you a great deal!”

“That much is certain Lucius,” Tillius smiled. “Good luck my friend.”

Tillius ordered his guards to accompany us back to our ship, which obviously did not thrill the pair. After I managed to tear my companions away from the feasting table we made our way back through the city to the docks and back out to the ship. As we boarded the ship, Molly spying the pair of guards asked me, “Who are they? New crew?”

“No, it’s a long story, but the short of it is they are our guides for a raid on a wizard’s tower,” I answered. She raised an eyebrow in response, but said nothing.

I settled in for a short fitful night of rest.

The signs of Kord’s guidance require faith.
 
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pogre

Adventurer
Episode Eight

The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Eight

We began the trek to the wizard’s tower led by Senator Cember’s guards. During our travels we learned the wizard’s tower was on the coast and served as kind of a reverse lighthouse. The magical aura of the tower drew ships into a reef and created a lot of wrecks. The wizard’s tower thus served as a defense measure for Rel Astra and some might be very upset if the tower were somehow disabled.

After traveling for a couple of hours a tower 185 pes high loomed ahead and there were numerous shipwrecks on the reef below the tower. A pulsating beam issued from the top level and it appeared much like a lighthouse. Thock wanted to explore the newer wrecks for loot. Naturally, I argued we should push into the tower to find the letters that might incriminate the judge in charge of my family’s trial. We compromised and did a cursory search of the ships and found little.

Despite our investigations we could find no entrances into the tall tower except the front door. We approached the door and could see that it was broken down. Clearly, the door had been destroyed by the first expedition that failed to penetrate the defenses of the tower. Shen stepped inside the tower’s door and shot cantrips down both corridors. Convinced there were no immediate threats, Thock led the way into the cramped corridors.

The lower level of the tower was a maze of tight corridors. Some distance in, we were attacked by a wraith. Thock took a fair amount of damage from it, but a single attack from the wraith sent our accompanying guards from the city running. We eventually got the undead to appear in a little wider spot and it was dispatched.

We continued to explore the ground level and found that all paths terminated in a large central octagonal chamber. The trouble was there was no obvious signs of an egress. Thock went waltzing directly into the center of the chamber and there was a fiery explosion! The Half-orc had set off some protective runes and revealed another set of runes in a circle in the center. Thock had disappeared. Praying that this was a teleporting area and that Thock had set off the only trap in the area, I also stepped into the center of the room. Fortunately, I was right.

Soon the whole group had stepped onto the teleportation area and we found ourselves in a circular room. There was an interesting looking area on one side of the room that looked like a passage, but was actually sealed. There was something magical about the portal and there were three stone dials aligned vertically on it. The first dial was numbered from one to one hundred in increments of one, the second had numbers from one to ten in increments of one, and the last one had numbers from 25 - 1000 in increments of 25. It appeared to be a magical combination lock and with so many possible combinations, we decided to move along to the spiral staircase in the center of the room leading down.

The spiral staircase led down to another circular room with two long tables covered in interesting items. As we stepped into the room we discovered very quickly that it was not unguarded. There was a POOF of smoke, the scent of sulfur, and the appearance of an alluring female with tiny little crown horns and bat wings sprouting from her back. She said in a voice so devastatingly enticing I nearly fell over, “I have been waiting for you a long time, Lucius!” Somewhere in my dim consciousness it registered that this was in no way a friendly or inviting greeting!
Will comes from the heart that loves Kord, not the mind.

The demoness flapped her wings and was quickly aloft. She made an obscenely lurid gesture at Thock, but somehow the Half-orc was not charmed. I assume that Shen had not yet recognized that we were fighting a demon, or was bedazzled by its sinister beauty, as he fired off Shen’s Scorching Rays. Naturally, the succubus laughed off the fiery rays. I summoned Greater Spiritual Hammer of Kord and smashed it into the foul demoness. She responded with a very hurt look and said, “Why do you strike me love? You know we belong together.” For a moment, the allure of this beast nearly had me, but blessed Kord empowered me to shake off her charm.

Thock managed to do a bit of damage to the Succubus, but by now her attentions were turned on Edgy. Those who consider cat creatures lucky have not met our Tabaxi. With a wink of her eye and a swish of her tail, Edgy was her thrall. Commanded by the demon, Edgy attacked Shen. Fortunately, Edgy’s attack was only half-hearted and Shen managed to avoid his sword. I smacked the villainess with the spiritual hammer, but Thock had a new melee target - Edgy!

Thock, looking to protect Shen, wrapped Edgy up in a mighty bear hug. The Tabaxi squirmed mightily, but could not escape from Thock. The succubus saw this and swooped down to passionately kiss the grappled Tabaxi. The life went completely out of Edgy and his limp corpse fell from Thock’s grip. Shen unleashed Marvelous Missiles of Unerring Flight on the succubus and the demon fell.

I went over to check on Edgy and realized he was truly dead. I announced as much to the group. Shen went over to the table with Thock and found a number of items. They found a magical long sword, which Thock claimed. A bejeweled short sword and a divine scroll. Looking over the scroll, I realized it was a resurrection prayer.
Kord provides for those in need - never despair!

With the strength of Kord, I managed to use the scroll to bring the breath of life back into Edgy. I was resting, with my back against a wall, and I saw Thock pull the head off the succubus corpse and hold it out to Edgy saying, “Give us a kiss!” The Half-orc made some smooching noises towards the Tabaxi.

“If you were not holding me, she would never have killed me!” Edgy protested.

We all knew that was clearly erroneous, but not even Thock corrected him, because coming back from the Pale is enough to unbalance anyone. Shen offered Edgy the bejeweled short sword and some magical sling bullets, which he accepted.

I was nearly out of energy for prayers and Shen was also near tapping his magical reserve. However, we decided to press on and continue down the spiral stairs looking for a clue to the number-dials puzzle above. It would prove to be a foolish decision.

*****

Thock led the way down the stairs and emerged in another circular chamber. I immediately saw a strange, blue, floating ball of energy. The room was unnaturally cold and there was a soldier of some sort astride a horse frozen in a solid block of ice on the far side of the floor. The sphere moved towards us and seemed to be attacking. I summoned Great Spiritual Hammer of Kord and hit it with no effect. This time Shen cast Shen’s Scorching Rays and Faithless sent hellfire at the sphere, both of which had a noticeably damaging effect, Thock’s magical long sword passed directly through the sphere with no effect. Then, Edgy attacked with his newly acquired bejewelled short sword, The short sword passed through the sphere and as soon as it exited the presence of the sphere it shattered!

The blue sphere turned its attention on the weaponless Tabaxi and attacked. Its touch sent a shivering cold ripple through Edgy and soon he was frozen in a large block of ice!

Shen cast Shen’s Scorching Rays at the blue sphere and it disappeared, assumably destroyed. The room’s temperature immediately began to warm with the sphere’s disappearance.

A voice came up from the spiral staircase, “Hello there! Did you manage to kill that thing?” Before any of us could answer, a human in heavy armor appeared with a holy symbol and armed with a mace. “You did, you killed it!”

“Greetings good sir, who might you be?” I asked.

“My name is Gulan Morf and that thing has had me trapped in the lower level for a fortnight!” the cleric replied.

“How did you get here?” Faithless asked.

“An accident with some transportation magic. I managed to secure the level below this, but this thing above and creatures below had me trapped.”

“What have you been eating?” Thock asked.

“My god has provided,” Gulan answered. I realized he must have been getting food and water via prayer - confirmation to me he was a cleric. “A friend of yours?” Gulan asked pointing at the ice-encased Edgy.

“Yes,” Thock answered.

“You may want to melt him out quickly before that devil and nightmare get loose,” Gulan suggested.

I looked over and could see that the warrior on the horse was actually a devil mounted on a nightmare! The fiery hooves of the nightmare pulsed with heat and was quickly melting the block of ice around it. A puddle of water was growing rapidly around the hellish rider and mount. It was clear that block of ice was going to melt much more quickly than Edgy’s icy prison.

A debate followed on the proper course of action. I advocated retreating and dragging the frozen Tabaxi along. Gulan made the excellent point that there really was nowhere for the group to hide. The group’s decision was to quickly melt the block of ice holding Edgy and attack the devils while they were still restricted by the ice.

Edgy was quickly melted out of the block ice via fire spells and fell to the ground unconscious. Employing healing potions and curing prayers provided by Gulan, Edgy was revived.

As the bearded devil and nightmare continued to have the ice fall away from them the group launched their attacks at the pair. Despite my having no prayer energy remaining we managed to kill the devil and the nightmare fled.
Trust in Kord is rewarded.

*****

The group prepared to move down to Gulan’s quarters on the level below and consider what to do next. Edgy disappeared and while the group was setting up in Gulan’s camp he returned. He reported that he had traveled up through the tower and had noticed a strange, barely visible writing around the archway and dials on the top level we had started in.

The archway would have to wait. We needed rest badly. We set a guard and slept.

The following morning after a light breakfast we journeyed back to the chamber with the archway. We found the strange, barely visible message Edgy had spoken of the previous evening. It was a bizarre, nonsensical phrase, but somehow Shen figured out something would be revealed by casting a spell at the arch. He cast a cantrip bolt at the arch and the script was illuminated. Interestingly, the word LIVID was illuminated in a different colored glow.

I suddenly realized that LIVID was the key to the puzzle. The old numerals corresponded to LI - 51, VI - 6, and D - 500. We quickly aligned the corresponding numbers on the dials and the archway opened!
Kord’s call makes the body, spirit, and mind strong.

*****

The group went through the archway and climbed the stairs beyond. We emerged in a circular chamber, but this room was different. The upper walls and ceiling were composed of panes of glass. A pulsating light emitted from a gem held aloft near the apex of the ceiling. This was the source of the “lighthouse” effect of the tower. The room was guarded by an immense snake-like creature composed entirely of bone. This monstrosity was a bone naga - a favorite guardian of wizards and the like. Without warning, the naga struck!

While we were distracted by the Naga, the Nightmare, hellish steed of the devil, appeared in the room too. The Naga shot lightning at the group and the Nightmare attacked with its fiery hooves, We stood strong and Faithless’s spell finished the Naga - while a Greater Glorious Blot of Kord from me finished the Nightmare.

I called on the prayer Kord’s Uncanny Trap Detection and a lockbox we had discovered lit up as trapped. I informed Edgy and cast Divine Enhancement of Senses on Edgy to help his skill in disarming the trap. Edgy carefully disarmed the trap and opened the box. He was disappointed to discover it was empty. However, the cushioned box was clearly intended to hold the pulsating gem above us.

The real treasure I found though was a large set of letters and correspondence that proved that Lord Fabrece, assigned as judge over my father, was in league with the departed wizard in a plot to overthrow Drax. Now, I had a real chance to save my father and restore my family!

While I was delighting over the letters I had discovered, Thock reached up and clapped the pulsating gem in the lockbox. We removed one of the glass panes and escaped down the side of the tower with our treasures.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Episode Nine

The Saga of Lucius Victorium Gnaeus

Episode Nine

The journey back from the wizard’s tower to the ship was uneventful. Aboard ship I quickly copied the correspondence from Lord Fabrece to the wizard, which implicated him in a plot to overthrow Drax. This correspondence, along with a letter of introduction, I sent with the farmboy, Marco, to deliver to Senator Cember. A couple of hours later Marco returned with the copies of the letters and a message from the senator stating that the senator would arrange a meeting with Lord Fabrece at his manor. He also warned me that Lord Fabrece was Consul, and to be very wary in my negotiations.

I prayed long and hard to Kord. Here I was, hip-deep in the gutrot politics of the city. It was the very thing that I had left to avoid. I was sorely tempted to crassly expose the Consul at my father’s trial, but the light of Kord tempered my vengeful heart. Backdoor channels and secret entreaties are how things get done in Rel Astra. Lord Fabrece had served as Consul virtually every other election and even had been granted exceptions for consecutive elections at times. A Consul was only supposed to serve one year and step down, but Lord Fabrece had almost become a fixture at that position. Fabrece was no pedlar, he was one of the most powerful men in the city.

The Heart filled with Kord has no place for the things of Man.


A short time later a message arrived from Senator Cember with directions to Lord Fabrece’s manor, which was an hour away. We traveled down the coast and found the manor. It was a remarkably austere and restrained edifice, particularly in comparison to its neighboring estates. We took one of the small boats and accompanied by Thock and Shen - we began the climb up the marble stairs towards the main house from the private dock.

*****

The Consul’s manor was surrounded by a low garden wall topped with clay tiles and the only sign of movement was a gardener working on some beds. The villa was well kept but not ostentatious in the least. There were no signs of security and the lack of safeguards gave the impression of a man supremely confident in his safety and position. I went to the simple front door and knocked.

A large human slave open the door and invited us inside with a simple hand gesture. He did not speak. We were left in a foyer while the slave left, assumably to inform his master of our arrival. The interior of the house revealed the wealth of Lord Fabrece. Expensive objets d’art decorated most of the interior. The paintings, small statues, vases, urns, furniture, and other curios revealed this place to be the home of a wealthy man.

The slave returned and led us across the polished marble floors to a study. Seated, wrapped in a blanket, was an elderly gentleman next to a small fire.

“Ah, young Lucius Gnaeus, welcome to my home. May I offer you some refreshment?” Lord Fabrece asked.

“Thank you, no, my lord,” I replied.

“Sit, sit, young Lucius,” Lord Fabrece ordered, gesturing to a small sofa arranged facing his chair. “You are here no doubt concerning your family’s predicament?”

“I am my lord,” I replied.

“Please,” Lord Fabrece said.

“My Lord, House Cranston has fabricated charges of treason against my father. The charges have brought our family to the brink of ruin and you now must judge the case. I know this is not a simple matter of deciding guilt or innocence, but one in which there are political implications. I further am informed that the House Cranston has considerable influence with your lordship and I fear my father may not get a fair trial.” I stopped to take a breath. I could see none of this surprised the elderly Consul.

“My Lord, I have brought you these,” I held out the packet of copied letters to Lord Fabrece. “These are copies of correspondence that I recovered in exploring the wizard’s tower. The wizard was a person, these letters, written by your own hand, reveal was in conspiracy with you to depose Drax. My Lord, I must insist that these outrageous charges against my father be dismissed. Such a judgment would enable me to exercise the greatest discretion in the handling of these missives.”

The Consul let out a low chuckle, “Young Gnaeus, you have learned a thing or two about politics I see.” He took a deep breath and continued, “It is true that House Cranston has become a powerful rising house. They are what you young people call ‘movers and shakers’.”

“My Lord, I only seek to have my family returned to its rightful place. I am not interested in destroying other houses the way Cranston has.”

“If I were to dismiss the charges against your father I would find myself in a very unfavorable position. There are two basic issues: First, House Cranston would see me destroyed for such an action, and second, I am very old and I have not much time left.”

“But surely, My Lord…” I began.

Lord Fabrece waved a finger at me, “Listen, young Gnaeus, you must fix these problems if we are to reach an agreement. I have two conditions for dismissing the charges against your father. One, I have no heirs, but I am not ready to die. I need a potion to lengthen my life. I have a lead on where you may be able to obtain such a thing. Two, the letters you have must be altered to implicate House Cranston in the conspiracy against Drax. I know an expert forger that can do so in a way that is undetectable.”

“Where is this potion?” I asked.

“In an old mine, north of the city.”

“Is the mine guarded?”

“I have no idea, but I am very confident the potion is there.”

“My Lord, grant me a moment to get counsel from my companions,” I said. With an approving nod from Lord Fabrece, we left the house and traveled a short distance in the garden. After discussing the deal we agreed that I would make the deal with the understanding I might hold a letter or two back for insurance.”

We returned to the study.

“My Lord, we agree, I believe we have reached an accord.”

A slight small crossed Fabrece’s lips, “Excellent! There is one minor detail.”

I braced for the complication that the Consul was about to spill upon us. It was the oldest negotiating tactic in the world. You get to an agreement and then add a condition - the agreeing party almost always relented. This was a cagey negotiator, an experienced politician, and even with his vulnerability he was leveraging an addendum to the agreement.

“The expert forger I spoke about is on the prison island. You will have to get him out,” Fabrece said.

That was no minor detail! The prison island was surrounded by an ancient magical field that converted the living into the undead if they passed through it. The only way into the prison island I knew of was to be transported in the single protected cell on a ship crewed by the everlasting - an undead crew that went back and forth to the island from the city.

“We will try,” I offered. “This is no minor detail My Lord.”

Lord Fabrece shrugged his shoulders in response. He fetched a parchment that was a map that indicated the location of the mine he was certain contained the potion of longevity.

We made a few more inquiries into how Lord Fabrece might help us with the prison break and asked whether he had any preference in what order we performed these tasks.

“I leave it to you how to best proceed. I would remind you that it will take the forger sometime to alter the letters,” Lord Fabrece said.

“We may send a boy named Marco with messages for you. He is a simpleton, but reliable,” I said.

Lord Fabrece said that was fine and admonished us to use the greatest discretion. We reassured him we would and took our leave of the Consul.

I shook my head on the way back to the ship. Somehow the Consul had managed to force us to share his vulnerability. It was an admirable piece of negotiation and was as natural to him as breathing. No wonder he managed to make the seat of Consul more or less his permanent office. Locking us in an illegal conspiracy made us bedfellows in this affair and the old bastard had assumed rightly I would be complicit for my family’s sake. If I had been immersed in the politics of the city it would have the potential of a magnificent coup with a dash of revenge. What the Consul may not have realized is that potential made it even more repulsive to me.

*****

“Did you kill him?” Faithless asked us as we reboarded the ship.

“No, we reached an accord,” I replied.

I explained the bargain I had struck with the Consul and the group voted to go to the mine first. At least this would give us time to consider further how we might break the forger out of prison.

The journey to the mine was an uneventful trip, save for a bit of rough weather that forced us to take three days. We readily located the old mine and disembarked to explore the ancient shaft.

Most of the mine shafts were narrow with areas of ore picked out. We entered a large chamber with brown streaks running through the walls. These proved to be iron ore deposits that were rusted. We continue exploring and found a large chamber with several egresses. Almost as soon as we set foot in the cavern creatures came scurrying out of the dark to attack us. The creatures looked like overgrown ticks with long flailing antennae. We discovered the creatures were most interested in our metal items. In short order, the blasted beasts had ruined my plate armor and warhammer.

Pride in earthly items is the enemy of the Spirit of Kord.

Faithless was taking serious damage from the rust monsters when Shen and Edgy noticed a cave troll was ambling up another corridor towards the cavern. The Tabaxi attempted to take up an ambush position against the troll. Shen prepared to cast a spell and I tried to fend off the rust monster munching on my plate mail. Edgy attacked the troll and Shen unleashed Shen’s Scorching Rays on the troll. Edgy’s attacked was mostly shrugged off by the huge creature, but Shen’s attack took a toll. The troll with an almost casual swing of its club knocked Edgy out. I left the rust monster combat and finished it with a Mighty Spiritual Hammer of Kord and tried to interpose myself between the troll and Shen.

The troll ambled over to our position and attacked Shen. The monster’s attacks nearly knocked the sorcerer down. Shen quickly retreated and prepared another spell. I made a feeble attack with my now-damaged warhammer to little effect. I was now the only available target for the troll and I braced myself for its onslaught. When the great blow came it crunched into my damaged armor and my knees buckled. My head was swimming and I was struggling to stay upright. I made a feeble attack that had little effect as Shen poured more Scorching Rays into the troll.

I heard a flapping noise and then saw a creature, the size of a rat, with bat-like wings, and an enormous proboscis flying at me. Too late to avoid the creature it slammed its needle-like nose into my neck and sucked my blood. I fell…

*****

Darkness

*****

The first sensation I felt was the lukewarm liquid with a slightly sweet tang flowing down my throat. I flooded back to consciousness and saw the figure of Thock hunched over me cradling my head. The healing potion took full effect and sensation came back to my limbs and I slowly sat up. I cast Kord’s Light and became witness to a scene of destruction. The troll lay dead in a burned pile not far from me. Squished and bloody stirges littered the floor. The rust monsters were gutted and lay still. I shook my head to further clear my senses and then cast healing prayers over Faithless, Shen, and Edgy.

Challenges and failures sharpen the sword of Kord.

We limped back to the ship for a long rest.

*****

We returned to the mine after our rest and found a few interesting items in the Troll and stirges’ lair, but not the potion we were looking for. We continued exploring the mines and found an unexplored passage that led to a large chamber. The place appeared empty and I was disheartened that we may have been led on a wild goose chase. Suddenly, sticky thick strands came down firing at us from above.

There was a ledge fifteen feet above us that held a trio of cave fishers! Thock, Shen, and Edgy were stuck by these long sticky strands. The ambush had occurred at the entrance tunnel of the chamber and our maneuverability was limited. I cast Bless because my visibility was limited, I hoped the prayer would help the others in some way. There were combats on both sides of me, to the front and to the back. The creatures had descended from their lofty perches and were now attacking directly. I saw Faithless fall, then Edgy, and then Shen. Thock and I managed to chase off the cave fishers, but they were only wounded, not dead.

As I ran over to check on my fallen comrades, it was clear Edgy was dead. The other two I cast healing prayers over. A search of the cavern revealed nothing and we did not find the potion we were looking for. The only remaining possibility if it was in the mine was the cave fisher nests up above. I was nearly out of spells, but Shen, who had been knocked out of the combat fairly early had a fair number yet.

“We kill them now,” Thock demanded.

“Edgy is dead and Faithless and Shen would not withstand a single assault,” I countered.

“I do have this,” Shen said holding a gem aloft.”We could unleash the air elemental on them.” Shen had found the gem of elemental air in one of the chambers we had explored earlier.

“If we leave, they will have a chance to heal,” Thock added.

I relented and we prepared our assault on the cave fishers.

Courage brings one closer to Kord’s heart.

Shen broke the gem and a mighty air elemental emerged. Quick instructions to the elemental had it swirling up and delivering devastation upon the cave fishers. Shen and Faithless also helped with ranged spells and in a short time the beasts fell. Mission accomplished the air elemental took its leave.

A search of the cave fisher nest yielded some treasure, but most importantly, the potion we needed. We picked up Edgy’s corpse and headed back to the ship.

*****

Going through Edgy’s personal items we found a massive gem he had hidden away. When we got back to the city we sold the gem and used the proceeds to have Edgy raised. We then settled in on a brainstorming session on how to break the forger out of the most dangerous prison we had ever seen.
 

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