RPG@QUT Matt's D&D

Malicious Maladies
Theren's Log

For a proper account of the events that went on in this entertaining session, see DM log— lizardman battle.

Theren’s Notes: If fate is a river, then it is one that is unnavigable, full of hidden pit-falls, and against all the odds flowing up-hill. Such is my understanding of current events as I am tossed and turned in the eddies of circumstance. Indeed at one moment everything seems to be going swimmingly, and then at others I feel all washed up. I should start from where I left off to best explain myself – Zephyr had been pulled into the pit, with an unknown foe.

It was clear that Swiftblade wanted to jump into the pit and in preparation I lay down some cover fire to blind our enemies to his plans. Before he could make his move, however, there was a great shriek from the pit, and with a sinking feeling I knew we would be fishing the wizard’s corpse out rather than rescuing him. Luckily Zephyr had been so invigorated by the attack of whatever was down there that he came shooting out of the hole like a goblin from a burning hedge. The trapper was most displeased, and he shouted at us in hisses and croaks. It was then that further poison darts from unseen attackers in the shrubbery nearby convinced me that I might best aid my fellows by taking out these snipers. Before I did so, however, I could not help myself in calling out to the trapper, and demanding that he forfeit his hat in recognition of my superior head-gear. He did not, and I vowed I would teach him the error of his ways.

I dived into the foliage, and almost immediately was removed from the main fight, as my vision of the action was obscured, and the sounds of shouts and hisses became muted. For a sniper to fight a sniper, you must have no outside distractions, and I was thus consumed in my task. My armour seemed to shimmer and shift, and I could feel the leaves at the scruff of my neck raising like hackles on an angry dog. For a short time I stood perfectly still, waiting to see if a blow came at me from the darkness. I knew that the longer I waited in one spot, the more likely it was that the lizard man might chance upon me, and so stealthily, step by step, I crept deeper into the cover, and away from my allies. There was a sudden shiver in the bushes as the lizardman attacked, and a blow-dart sank into a branch feet from where I was standing. I knew I couldn’t risk crashing clumsily after the reptile, or it would slither away and I would be standing in the open, so despite my desperate wishes to throw off the burdens of stealth, I circled around to attack from the side. When I reached where the creature should have been, however, it was gone. It was one step ahead of me, and must have realised I would head for the source of the disturbance. I had to flee the area quickly, or risk being the hunted, rather than the hunter.

Realising that although I was keeping the sniper busy, there was more help that needed to be done, I turned my back on the task, and instead used the cover of the bushes to sneak towards the trapper with the nice headdress. The sniper I had been duelling with previously, seemed fatigued by the stress of the sniping battle, and fled the bushes with its tail between its legs, only to be promptly dispatched. Meanwhile the trapper was in dire straights. I couldn’t let it end with an inglorious death, and so, taking my chances, I dived out of the bushes and slammed the hilt of my sword into the lizardman’s temple, knocking him out and sparing him the pointy end of Swiftblade’s sabre.

We soon tidied up, and while Zephyr and Swiftblade were squabbling in the dirt some distance away, Jorn brought the lizardman back to conciousness. I exerted my hat-superiority, staking my claim on his headdress, and taking said item of apparel as a token of my victory. It can be said that the trapper and I shared an unspoken understanding. Although we didn’t speak the same language, the language of the hat is universal. I spared the trapper, as he had impressed me with his stylish headgear, but warned him that I would not be so lenient in the future.

Feeling tired, and in need of a good sleep, the group reconvened in the cave. Inside was the trapper’s den. It looked about as good as it smelled, and with the rotting corpses of several iguana littering the ground, it was no bed of roses. Although obviously even though a bed of roses would smell nice, it would also be very painful, due to the thorns. Luckily there weren’t any thorns in the cave. There were some gold coins, laid out in a pattern in the same manner as the ‘ curse’ we saw in Vilma’s hut, and Bastian confirmed that the pattern was (as far as he was aware) a superstitious ritual with little to no actual effect. Although there was no other treasure, there were a few live iguanas in the cave. Here was a perfect chance to secure myself a pet. I have heard that they grow into mighty dragons, which would certainly be a steed befitting me, as an elven warrior of supreme power. I requested that Swiftblade tame it. Partially to give him a distraction from pining over Concorde (how quickly he has gone from reprimanding Zephyr and me over attempting to keep Concorde, to seeing it as his own friend and companion) and partially because with time and practice, he might become as good as I am at calming animals. He was dubious, even though it is only a baby dragon, and although he tried I feel he did not put all of his effort into it, and the beast remained … somewhat boisterous. Thankfully he recognised that the thing would need a harness and quickly fashioned one from materiel laying about the cave.

It was only when I put the iguana into my bag that I realised it was fascinated by one of the objects in there. I pulled it out again to find it gnawing on a small bear doll that was strung together in the manner of the dolls in Vilma’s hut. Yawn had a look at the thing and then handed it back with a firm nod. In the distance we heard the roar of the bear that had been dogging us all the way up river. It didn’t take much to put the two together. Venturing out into the gathering darkness I tossed the construct into the river, and I fancy that the sounds of pursuit quickly died away afterwards.

Feeling tired, and still harried by lingering effects of the disease I picked up during our trek earlier on, I was grateful to get back to the cave and catch some much needed sleep. Before I could drift off, however, Bastian approached me, and confessed that he felt as though we had gotten off on the wrong foot. He had been much impressed by my skills, my power, and my hat (obviously he didn’t mention my hat, but I know he can’t keep his eyes off it – no one can). He shook my hand and left. I think I hid my joy well, even as my chest felt like it would burst with happiness. Finally I have been accepted by an elf. He even speaks to me in elvish now. Finally I am vindicated. I must confess that there are times when I myself am in doubt as to my genetic origin, but I know my spirit is that of an elf, and from this I take it that my elven spirit is clear to my brother and sister elves. I fell asleep warmed by the certainty that I am one step closer to the day when all the world, in this dimension and beyond, would know and admit that I am an elf.

Thus ended my good fortune. The river of fate swirled marginally and I was dragged from the warm sunlit waters of joy and success head-first into the rocky rapids of distress. I was woken during the night when Bastian returned Polly (my iguana). It had attempted to escape by gnawing through its harness. Truly it is worthy of being my future dragon-steed with such determination and ingenuity. I quickly settled back to sleep only to awaken late in the day. I have a terrible headache. I feel like someone is running a forge in my head, and my chest, as they burn unhealthily. My legs feel sapped of strength. I do not wish to alarm the others (they may fall to panic if they know their staunch protector is so unfit) but I fear the pallor of my skin might alert them to my plight. I don’t feel as though I can swallow food or drink and walking is something that takes a lot of effort. I must carry on for the sake of those who are depending on me, and I can only hope that we quickly reach a town (any town) where I can find some proper respite.

Bastian’s show of arms (tada~ Sorry about the issues so far ^^;):
Bastian's display of arms

Swiftblade, depicted here leaping into battle in a style reminiscent of the Ben Echmeyer technique

Ben Echmeyer Technique

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DM log-- lizardman battle

These combat logs are easy to write, since I know the players will do a much better job! I will just nail down the facts and share a few of my personally favourite moments.

The date is still 24 Patchwall {see timeline}. The assault on the lizardman camp continues…

{Kat was unable to come, was sick. Get well soon! Fortunately, we had a new observer who we drafted into playing Stek. To explain this frequent swapping between Kat and Stek, I am making the following our official fiction.}

As has been her wont during this adventure, Kat passed out and Stek jumped off her back. As you will recall, as has always been the case, the elven Kat and the dwarven Stek were long ago united by a commandment each dreamed was given to them by Kord. “Unite the elven and dwarven races, and fight as one!” commanded Kord, and on the next morning Kat and Stek woke with a powerful geas. They met at a crossroads in the eastern part of Nentir Vale, Kat wandering east from her native Harken Forest and Stek coming west from the foothills near Hammerfast. Consumed by a racial hatred fanned to a forging flame by Kord, they ran at each other full tilt, banged heads, and both fell unconscious. When Kat awoke, Stek was clinging to her back, still unconscious. The idea of removing him (perhaps by scraping him against a tree) filled her with a strange nausea and the feeling that Kord was frowning at her. So she wandered back to her village to explain her strange malady. Just as she babbled out her explanation to her skeptical fellow elves, who already regarded Kat as a black sheep due to her Kord worship and freakishly powerful constitution, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she crumpled to the ground. Stek’s eyes immediately opened and he clambered off Kat’s back. Thus followed a heated conversation which is recorded not in this brief journal. In the height of this discussion, Stek felt a sudden urge to go back to Kat and grab her shoulders. Once he did, he went unconscious, with an unshakeably strong grip on the elf. At that moment Kat again awoke.

Thus was started a strange coexistence that both elves and dwarves find repulsive but fascinating, with many theories as to what it portends. These two heroes seem to have but one consciousness to share between them. Either Kat is awake, with a comatose Stek clinging to her back, or Stek is awake while Kat lies in a slumber of endless depth. They have never spoken to one another. And there you have a perfectly plausible explanation for everything that has ever been related on this subject.

Back to the story! Zepher lit a light to see that he shared the pit with an ochre jelly. He scrambled out of the pit once the jelly missed with its mightly slam attack, and the jelly followed to create a wandering, slimy hazard. The soldiers got stuck in with Bastian, Jorn, and Stek (who stood over the recently collapsed Kat) while Theren soon ended up in a fierce firefight with needlers, all crawling around in the dark bushes like so many guerilla soldiers. Much shall be sung of this epic battle, most particularly of Amos being pulled into the pit by the trapper, the jelly being pulled on top of him, and Stek, recently knocked onto his belly by the whipping tail of a lizardman, heroically barrel-rolling himself into the pit, landing axe first onto the jelly. Soon all were dead except the trapper, whose life was spared by Theren, out of respect for his magnificent headdress, which Theren removed from the helpless, bewildered lizardman with an artful flourish.

{From this fight, the party shared XP so that each member gains 150 XP.}

The battle over, the party explored the cave the trapper lived in. There they found precise stacks of gold coins arranged carefully along ley lines, similar to how Vilma’s silver coins had been arranged. Bastian knew very well {with a natural 20; remind me of this if Bastian ever does another skill check on this subject} through his bardic travels that the so-called “curse” created by these coins was hookum, and the party gleefully plundered them. Also in evidence were several iguanas, one of which was forcibly turned into a pet by Theren, and several more half-iguanas, which were less lively. In a corner were found a pile of apparently human, apparently gnawed on, bones.

The iguana was acting oddly, trying to get into Theren’s pack. Once let in, it started munching on something, which they soon discovered was a little doll, shaped like a bear, made of thin bones, sinews, and feathers. Jorn realised this was similar to Vilma’s dolls, and he made a connection to some of his deepest religious understanding {rolling a 20}. He realised this used primal energy to attract bears to it, and furthermore, he grokked the concept well enough to be able to make them himself, if he had the right materials. {The 20 earned him a ritual which allows him to make such a doll, with residuum and the appropriate materials. Vilma’s hut will reveal the nature of these materials, and this ritual.} Theren, thinking of more immediate goals, tossed the doll into the river. Soon the dire bear’s roars started moving farther and farther away downstream.

The next problem was stopping Amos from running after Concorde in his badly weakened state. {He had no healing surges, so was only brought from a dying state to 1HP by any healing.} With heroic, if reckless, devotion, he kept trying to run out to find his steed, and Zepher kept felling him with a cloud of daggers. Eventually he resigned himself to a night’s rest.

And rest they did, with no event except the “pet” iguana escaping and being caught by Bastian, whose scarred skin endured some of the many scratches previously bestowed by this “pet” on Theren.

The next morning, it was 25 Patchwall. {See timeline.} Amos greeted the day by running out in search of Concorde. After skillful tracking {with a natural 20, which will give a +2 to all following attempts to track Concorde} they found and followed a trail of bear and horse tracks, then just horse tracks and blood. They quickly found the horse, cold and still, half propped against a tree. He was dead… or so it seemed. On examination, they found that somehow he was holding onto glimmers of life. The sinew that had been feeding him necrotic energy had been torn loose by the bear claws, as had been large trenches of flesh. The party decided not to poke the sinew back behind the horse’s bleeding ear, deciding once and for all they wanted not a were-equine but a living, normal horse. After a healing spell, {leaving the horse no more healing surges until an extended rest} Concorde is once again loping along, having given Amos a tender loving nuzzle which brought tears to every eye.

The party now heads north, following the river, intending to keep going until they find the King’s Road, then east to Harkenwold. They will arrive a full two days after Fenstrom threatened to go there, so who knows what they will find…

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Leaping Lizardmen
Theren's Log

Note: Theren is back, yeah baby! Seeing as we have two fantastic well balanced logs per session, Theren is back to his old ways. As always, if you want a truthful account of events, see the DM log, or Bastian’s Journal.

Theren’s Log: Hello adventurers. How are you? Fantastic. Look at your rogue, now back to me, now back at your rogue, now back to me. Sadly, they are not me, but if they stop wearing dull uninteresting clothes, and started wearing stylish pirate hats they could look like they’re me. Look down, now back up. Where are you? You’re in a dungeon with the rogue your rogue could look like. What’s in your hand? Back at me; I have it. It’s your coin purse. No actually don’t look at that, look at this – an oyster full of diamonds. Anything is possible when your rogue wears a pirate hat with a feather.

Now you’re wondering, why are you, mighty Theren, king of rogues, master of dungeons, advisor to Kings, and sexiest sneak in the land, why are you out adventuring with an untrained group of hopefuls such as this, instead of enjoying sumptuous banquets in your elven mansion on your floating private island, with your harem of beautiful devoted women? It is because I love the smell of adventure. Because my perfectly sculpted abs are too much for even an entire harem to handle… but most of all because I am the only one who can stand up for Harkenwold. Yes I could be out winning prizes for every competition in the land – simultaneously – but I am honour bound to protect the bit of dirt I call home. No not the floating island… HARKENWOLD!

For this noble cause, my followers and I came upon an evil waterfall. I could tell that it had been terribly cursed so that it pounded the rocks under it with more than natural force. These are just things I notice with my eagle eyes. In any case, I knew we would have to pass under those vicious waters, even as they attempted to pound us until our flesh was as tender as the backside of a child who had been caught doing something really naughty. If I had really wanted, I could have walked as though the water was nothing but a gentle breeze, all the while catching a rich dinner of fish with my bare hands… but I knew that such a display would dishearten my comrades, so I kindly pretended to fall over and struggle with the water. Of course this was just an act. Never-the-less they all seemed to be fooled.

Indeed, my observations proved to be quite astute, as always. Everyone struggled with the waterfall, at least once – even Amos who seemed to be going well until he collapsed hopelessly with giggles in a very un-gentlemanly display of hysterics. To make matters worse, the dwarf,Yawn, insisted on falling onto everyone. It greatly disturbed Bastian, to the point where he found his feet despite the powerful water and the added weight of the dwarf. I recall now that Bastian seems generally ill-at-ease with Yawn, and I can but speculate as to why this is the case. It is probably just Yawn’s beard. It made me wary of him too, when we first met all those hours ago, although Bastian’s fear of him far exceeds rationality, and I believe I have finally figured out the cause. Yes, I put my fantastic detective skills to work to see into Bastian’s inner-most soul. I should have realised as soon as I saw his reaction to Yawn, when Kat pointed out the scars, clearly visible on his face. His heart and mind are open to me now, and I can reveal that he bears the burden of pogonophobia – fear of beards. It was his clean-shaven chin that gave it away – the fact that there are no facial hairs obscuring his face, along with his fear of Yawn are a confirmation. Luckily I know the remedy for such a condition. I must attach a large bushy beard to Bastian himself. It is called flood therapy or immersion or something, and it should cure him of his ailment. This will prove me to be an astute and helpful elf, and then I might finally gain his approval and trust. It has already been several hours of trying to get his approval, and if I were not so patient I might have given up by now. Luckily I am sure this plan will work, I just have to get my hands on a beard… but enough of that for now! On with the tale.

Next we were accosted by elves. These elves did not seem very elfish to me, because they wanted to call in the whole group for a ‘trial’ for crimes that they had ‘heard of’. I am certain that is not how elves operate. Surely elves, with their advanced justice system, would not call strangers to trial simply because of rumours, without being able to supply evidence. Well I realised these were not elves but imposters! Luckily they fled in fright just hearing the roar of the bear that I had already bested, face to face, with my flames. Hence we moved on, searching for some way to continue to our goal.

It was then that something upwind caught our noses’ attention. Lizardfolk. The others pooled their knowledge on the creatures, and quickly begged for my expert assistance. They knew they would not be able to best these creatures by brute force alone. I didn’t make a big song and dance about it, but they made the right choice asking me for help. I snuck into a tree, and from there over a chasm and onto the rooftop of the lizardfolks’ dwelling. Seeing that I might be able to spring an impromptu trap on those below, I set about carefully severing the rope, while the others did their best to imitate my skill at sneaking in order to get within attacking range. Foolishly, Zephyr attempted to follow me. Being not a master of sneak as I am, he quickly revealed our location by falling off the roof. Everyone charged into battle, and I let my trap go, knocking two burly lizardmen prone and injuring them greatly. From there I rushed into battle, along with Zephyr.

I was momentarily stunned as I was presented with an impressive headdress. It was all vivid hues of green, blue, yellow, and red. Some of the feathers in it seemed to be iridescent, and I knew immediately that while they did not surpass my own hat in style, they would compliment it well. It was while I was busy with these musings that the villain struck. At the last second I realised Zephyr was in terrible danger, so I threw myself into the way of the net-attack, taking the brunt of the blow for our wizard, but becoming tangled in the tiny net. I simply stepped out of the trap, escaping with ease and grace, thinking that Zephyr would do the same, but alas I forgot that he is not a master of escaping tricks and traps, as I am. After all, for someone who is not an expert in such matters, a tiny net is a death sentence, it’s a net and it’s tiny! He was dragged away by the admirably-hatted opponent, into a dubious pit. He scrabbled desperately to remain above ground, but fell into what I hoped, at that time, would not be his grave. The others thought it to be a well, but I knew it to be a greater danger, for in truth it is some kind of monster-pit. In any case I must leave it at that for I am running out of ink. I will continue the tale when I find some more. Apologies for the cliff hanger!

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Third Time Fortunate

There we stood, in a tiny room
Clutching arms with quickened breath
Waiting for a dragon white
Who will be sent to death?

The beast spoke threats of allies strong
We thought it false, but were sure ‘twas truth
But still we hid, prepared to strike
When the dragon came with icy tooth

With a fearsome roar and forceful charge
The dragon white burst through the wall
We struck it quick, and struck it strong
But still its frost breath threatened us all

Magic shattered upon its brow
As weapons glanced from scales of white
Cruel claws whistled through air and flesh
And its fangs closed in a chilling bite

The dragon’s minions fell left and right
Beneath our canny aim
But not before goading the dragon forth
Into our trap of flame

Then it was, that someone new
Burst in upon our fray
A fiendish dwarf, he talked to the beast
Much to our dismay

But still we rallied, healing wounds
And with fearsome strength we struck
Flames engulfed the hapless beast
Dying, and out of luck

Twas then the fiendish dwarf advanced
As the dragons minions all lay dead
With a shout and a swift descending sword
Off came Farallax’s head

By the gods, we’ve slain a dragon! Never in my life did I think I would accomplish such a feat. I wish I could tell Sebastian, and see his face! True, ‘twas not the largest of dragons, but that does not diminish our accomplishment. What does is the interference of that helldwarf Trabek. A more nightmarish incarnation of dwarfhood I have never seen, for he had gray skin and spines for hair. ‘Twas he that struck the killing blow, but we all know that it was we that truly slew Farallax.

I do not trust this Trabek, not for one moment, even after he had explained himself to us. Needs must I should recount the events in order, lest I confuse myself and garble the telling.

After dealing the final blow, Trabek spoke at length with the dwarf Jorn, too quiet for any of us to hear. I know not of what they spoke, but I wonder how it came to be that this darkdwarf is acquainted with both an evil dragon and the dwarf in our own party. Ever more my suspicions of these creatures are reinforced. After this, he spoke to us some drivel about rock and turd, not that there is anything else they ever talk about, and cast us over with an appraising eye.

The helldwarf obviously was very taken with himself and his own wit. It was almost hard to hear his words amongst the sly chuckles with which he inundated his freakish beard. I spoke with him but a little, for while I felt a physical revulsion at him, he too bore a mark of Torog upon his body. The rune ‘traitor’ branded upon his cheek. Nevertheless, this could in no redeem his many faults.

Meanwhile, Zepher returned the relinquished the armour traded for Malareth’s head to Theren. Would that that was all that had happened, but they then began to quarrel, names flying, and seemed to be squaring off to fight one another while the helldwarf looked on in evident amusement. To be sure, one cannot avoid argument, but must they show such division to a stranger? A pity that they had not the self-control to refrain until a more opportune time. I would offer to teach them some calming exercises my own father taught me, were I not afraid they would see it as an affront and turn on me.

While this is going on, Trabek was busy scribbling on a scrap of paper and making a promise to Amos for something called ‘The Lucky’ when Amos presents himself at a tower in a place called Fallcrest. In all my studies, somehow I neglected this side of the mountains. I find myself woefully ignorant of the Nentir Vale, and that only compounds my fears. I am adrift.

Zepher and Theren were soon jolted out of their contest by the announcement that Trabek would be claiming the dragon’s lair as his own. At this Zepher lost control of himself, raging at the darkdwarf until he was prompted to take part in a contest of strength. At first I thought Zepher to be self-controlled and prudent, but more and more he seems to be losing control. But perhaps I do him an injustice. As barbaric as the practice may seem, he seems to have gleaned some small amount or respect for the strength of the blow he landed. It seems a mindset more befitting a goblin than a civilised person, but what am I saying? Trabek is a dwarf. Moreover, he told us that the organisation he belongs to is a group of ‘powerful men’ who like to make the acquaintance of other ‘powerful men’. Muscle-bound ego-strokers seems more likely to me, but I must hold my peace.

As we recounted the events that had befallen us since our separation from Theren and the dwarf, despite the imprudence of having the Trabek there, Theren claimed that the dwarf had been with him the entire time, and thus could not have been the same body as the one we expended so much energy upon to cart to the healer Immil. Was the man lying? I know not. If he was not, however, then I fear we have been duped most horrendously. Why else infect the corpse with such a virulent malady, if not to prevent careful examination? Not that it was necessary, for none of us thought to conduct such. We must avoid such glaring lapses in judgement in the future, for all our sakes.

As we planned our next move, Trabek interjected with a most chilling question. He asked why the citizens of Cavendor cry out for revenge. They say that the dwarf infiltrated the healer’s home with our help, then slit the old man’s throat. This throws all the questions on my mind into sharper relief, for now our safety is even more contingent upon finding answers. I don’t know what to think any more! I was sure Farallax was bluffing about his allies, but here Trabek is. I was so sure about so many things, and now I learn that I have been duped and toyed with at every turn! I must find people I can trust, and quickly, lest I not survive to complete my quest. But how will I know whom I can trust, when it seems I cannot even trust in my own senses to divine falsehood from truth?

Trabek continued to spin honeyed words, concealing threats in a guise of friendly concern, insinuating that we would only be safe if we went to this Fallcrest and resided under the protection of him and his patrons. It is true, we are a diverse bunch, and thus easily recognisable. I am loath to put myself under the thumb of anyone, however, especially him. Nevertheless, he gave us a red-inked card and an invitation to his ‘circle of power’, admonishing us to be cunning and take this generous offer. Looking at the others I saw varying emotions, but I took heart that some seemed to share my opinions with regards to this strange helldwarf.

Of course, he did not help his case in claiming Farallax’ lair for his employers. Theren tried to wheedle some concession out of him, but alas, to no avail. ‘Twas then I embellished upon our abilities, saying we had the power to teleport in and take whatever we wish, whenever we wish. That was enough to wring a concession out of him, and he used a scroll upon the red mirror, showing us a scene the likes of which I had hoped not to ever see again.

A woman lay inside the mirror. Naked, but covered in dirt and frost. She turned her face to us, and we could see that she was an elf woman, obviously in great misery. A human male in fine leathers stood over her, watching her every move. A steaming bowl of soup lay before her, yet every time she reached for it he stamped upon her hand with a cruel smile. Only when she grovelled upon the floor and raised both hands in suppliance did he hand her the bowl. She took one sip, before reluctantly setting the bowl down once more, to the man’s evident delight. The cruel twist to his face gave testament to how painful a lesson it must have been, and then he spoke her name. Lilliana.

Where she lay was flooded with bloody red light. An ice-covered rock wall dominated the back of the wall, the rest being brick. Scratched into the ice by some great claw was a message:
“_Because I have stunning powers of manipulation. You forget who you are dealing with. I compelled Jorn to infiltrate Immil’s house in CT, pretending to need help with ichor. Jorn’s party took him, but I’m not sure yet if they are just dupes or on the right side of history. Jorn will kill Immil and take the skull. Check for yourself. Then reward me. It’s time for me to move up._”

I looked over at the helldwarf, and was surprised to see that he was visibly enraged by the scene before us. I know not what to make of it, but perhaps this is a weakness that could be exploited should the need arise. I looked back to the mirror, hoping to glean more details before the vision faded, but my attention was grabbed by my own twisted reflection. My face, yet with extra scars piled upon the first. Its teeth were filed to points, and they leered obscenely at me as the apparition licked its bloodred lips. But most terrible of all, the teardrop rune in Torog’s own script, the likes I had only seen once before, in the black bowels of Zeked-Dval. Beloved. I know not what the others saw in that horrid mirror, for I could only stare at myself in horror… no… No! That was not me, that will never be me! I will never…

Zepher used Trabek Trabek’s own philosophy to convince him to relinquish some of Farallax’ treasure to us. There was much to choose from, but Zepher eventually settled upon a jingling bag that had Morgana’s sigil upon it. Meanwhile, the dwarf asked Trabek about Farallax and his father, whom Trabek spoke of before beheading the dragon. I was surprised, obviously the dwarf has something in that thick skull of his besides mead. There seemed to be no reason for the helldwarf to lie, and he told us about Farallax’ brother, Szartharax, and his father Axvol.

In Farallax’ lair were a number of barrels. Each one was leaking blood, and I feared that they contained the bodies of my fallen comrades, as I had not found them anywhere else, and Sara had also been in a barrel when she was found. I persuaded the helldwarf to release the barrels to me, amidst gales of his raucous laughter. I knew not why, until we quitted the lair and I learned the magnitude of my folly. The barrels contents, not my fallen comrades, but slaughtered and rotting elk, food for the dragon. What a fool I was! So caught up with honouring my past companions that I have made a fool of myself in front of my newest. The shame, oh the shame! I wished the Feywild would catch me up once again and bear me away. But it did not, and I could not abandon my mission. So I stayed, amidst the sneers and the shame, hardly daring to look at the people I had hoped to call friend for fear of the pitiless judgement I would see.

~

Later, after burying the elk and tokens for Gethur and Mikal, we set off east, intending to turn north further on to join the King’s Road. There was some debate as to our next destination, but as I knew little of such matters I kept myself to myself. Nevertheless, we set off through the forest, Amos showing off upon his high horse. At least he had hidden it properly this time. We had not been travelling for long when my ears perceived a great noise, and ere I could shout a warning a bear crashed into view and charged at us. The battle was not long, and no-one was seriously hurt, save for Amos and his horse when he charged them both into battle, heedless to the fact that he was not riding a warhorse. The bear had no reason to attack us, disconcertingly enough. It was well-fed and we were not in its territory, nor was it compelled through magical means. Having no time to dwell upon the mystery, we continued on our way. Scattered through the forest were warrants upon the dwarf. I would have been amused, save for the description it gave for the rest of us. We are unfortunately a distinctive lot, and will have to keep our heads down.

As night fell, Amos’ horse went through a startling change, sweating profusely and acquiring bloodshot eyes. Zepher surmised that the charms stitched into its ear were feeding the horse energy, but as nothing detrimental seemed to be happening we continued on our way. ‘Twas then we saw another bear on the road ahead. This bear was gargantuan, however, much larger than the other and bearing bony spines upon its thick shoulderplates. A chill went down my spine at the sight of such a foreign beast, and both Amos and Zepher screamed at us to fly. And we did, sprinting off into the forest as quick as our legs would carry us. That alone would not have saved us, for the bear was swift in the extreme, but Amos’ horse goaded the bear away from us, allowing us a slight lead on the beast.

Eventually we reached a steep ravine, and as the bear was hard on our heels the only option open to us was to jump down and hope to escape the bear’s clutches. Thus it was that we descended. Amos with a rope attached to a nearby tree, Zepher floating down light as a feather with his magic and the dwarf upon his ever-present disc. Theren though, he grabbed me we slid down the slope on the carpet pilfered from the twisting halls. The stones at the bottom were sharp enough to gouge me regardless, but I envision it would have been worse had I not had the carpet’s protection. I know not what to think, save that I appreciate the gesture. Perhaps there is more to him than I thought?

The insects were thick at the bottom of the ravine. It was not long before their bites took their toll on us. My vision became tinged with yellow as I felt fever settling in my bones, making me feel sluggish. The others slowed as well, so I can only assume they suffer the same. The bear continued to stalk us as we travelled north up the ravine, crossing from bank to bank with the aid of fallen trees. Occasionally we heard the screams of the horse in the distance, and spied its glowing red eyes once more before it disappeared.

There were a number of obstacles barring our way. First was a steep wall that we had to scale, which we passed with little mishap. Some of us slipped, but were quickly caught. The river seemed to be rising and as we continued Theren drew another shocking trick from his magnificently prodigious hat. As the great bear crossed the river once more, Theren let out a great roar that echoed from wall to wall and a plume of curling flames shot forth, engulfing the bear and the log it stood upon, causing it to yelp and flee back into the forest for a time. Truly, a fearsome power. I can only surmise that through some advanced bond with a fiery dragonborn Theren has assumed some of its power.

The river was rising, and we reached a place where we could continue no further until we had crossed the river. Unfortunately, the only method for doing so was to hop along the slick stones, hoping to keep our balance lest we were swept away into the hungry maws of crocodiles. About halfway across the river we spied a corpse wedged upon one of the stones. While the others tied themselves to each other and began the journey across, I slipped out of space and stepped back in atop the rock in question. Upon closer inspection, the corpse belonged to a female adventurer, who had obviously been dead for some time. She had been pierced by darts at some point, though whether it was they or the raging warriors that killed her I know not. The only distinguishing mark was a gold necklace with a pendant in the shape of some grotesque monster, a great orb surmounted by writhing eyestalk and filled with a great maw. Theren wanted the body, and I in my suspicion I interrogated him. To my shame, I later found that he wished only to give the poor adventurer a proper burial. Only compounding my shame was the fact that, as I tried to rejoin them in crossing the river my legs faltered beneath me, and I would have been swept away by the raging torrent had not Theren kept hold of the rope which even Amos had dropped, for fear of falling in himself. As if to make up for their earlier lapse, after regaining the dubious safety of the stepping stones my legs carried my sprightly across the rest of the river to join everybody else. We buried the adventurer under a cairn of stones, and in a brief moment of clarity the surrounding land imprinted itself upon my memory. I feel as if I will remember this place until the day I die.

After that, a web of fallen trees blocked our path, but we managed to swim under it without mishap. It was then that Kat burst from the water like some sort of long-haired fish, and told us that she had been conversing with other elves in the forest, and had learned some interesting facts about the elf in the mirror, Lilliana.

Continuing north, we came upon a waterfall. The only way out of the ravine was a small trail on the other side. ‘Twas not overly large, but a storm to the north had swelled it until the water cascaded down in a raging torrent. We began to wade through the waterfall, but the river proved too strong for us, slapping us flat one after the other and squeezing the air from our lungs. It seems to me that only two things allowed us to survive without greater mishap, the fact that the water seemed to lessen in strength after a time, and the discovery of a small cave halfway across. We eventually gained the far side, but the strain was telling. The only one of us not badly fatigued by the experience was that damnable dwarf, who had fallen over so much he was carried more by the scruff of his neck than by the impetus of his own two legs. Amos and Kat had found some interesting items in the cave, most notably a letter to someone called Vilma, which is obviously a person of significance to the others.

Upon ascending the trail we were accosted by a fancy of elves, who wished to take us to some sort of tribunal for judgement in the matter of Immil. Theren decried such a vigilante act, and I agree. I would not allow myself to be taken by ones such as these. Kat, however, seemed perfectly happy to surrender us all to their clutches. Gladly enough, her judgement and diplomatic skills were not called into judgement, for upon learning of the bear that pursued us, the elves fled immediately. I know not enough of the bear to know whether this was cowardice or prudence, but I could not help but feel scorn nonetheless. At least we are saved the trouble of dithering with the elves while other events are afoot. One interesting thing I learned, however, is that Theren hates to be called human, and considers himself an elf. I wonder if I had inadvertently said something to offend him earlier.

As we continued up the ravine, Amos halted us, scenting the air. It was not long before the smell washed over us as well, a slimy, foetid smell. We identified it as lizardfolk, and Zepher surmised that there was no hope of a diplomatic exit from this situation. Their camp lay across the river, joined to our bank by a bridge that is our only means of escape from this ravine, save for going back the way we came. There are some overhanging trees, however, which may also allow access to the lizardfolk camp. As I write this, Theren is sneaking through the trees to garner a vantage point, and soon Zepher and I will also sneak forward to check the bridge, before the rest of us spring the attack. Wait…

Theren was almost found. A branch snapped, and a burly lizardman came to scan the area. He could not see the masterfully hidden Theren, however, though he looked straight at him. Soon, our time is soon.

I feel like I have wronged Theren. I find myself so full of suspicion, and animosity sprang up between us at the very outset. However, he has saved me from harm at least twice, and shows much honour in his treatment of the dead. Even now, he bravely ventures alone into an enemy camp, knowing full well that something terrible could befall him before help can arrive. Ah, but he is capable, and knows it, so perhaps he is not worried. Nevertheless, I owe him a debt, of gratitude if nothing else. As soon as we are safe and things are quiet once more, I shall have to make an overture. If not of friendship, then at least of respect. But the time to act is now, and I pray we all survive.

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A Kairos for Kinship
Theren's Log

Disclaimer: Theren’s log is an in-character adventure log. What is said in here is not strictly (or at all) true. For a proper recount of events see DM log— back to Harkenwold

Once we left Twisting Halls we had a number of issues to attend to. I think Jorn decided to scout ahead, and so he left it to me to try and find the Orb that he had purloined from Zephyr in his earlier outrage. It was hidden in a bush outside the halls, but I was able to locate it easily enough from the dwarf’s instructions. I handed it over to Zephyr without incident. I feel my generosity and camaraderie in this action was self evident. Zephyr still seemed to be agitated to a degree, so I truly believe that wizards must be both as prideful and easily offended as dragons. He shared out his gold amongst the rest of the group, notably leaving me out. This petty action was most amusing – after all he can do with his loot as he sees fit – if he had kept what was rightfully his, then he would be richer than I am! Luckily I am too sophisticated and intelligent to be upset by such actions. I know in time Zephyr will come to see the error of his ways as he comes to understand that I possess incalculable wisdom, just like any other of my long-lived species.

After the tedious political portion of the reunion was finished with, we set off in pursuit of Jorn, as he had not yet returned from his scouting. The decision was made to travel to Harkenwold to check up on Ercullum (or what is left of him). I felt that it would be prudent to go straight to Daggerburg Keep, but the only real directions we have for the Keep come from Vilma, who is as dangerous and mad as she is ugly and old. We decided that, although a few days prior we had been unable to get any information on the subject, Harkenwold would be the best place to find information on the location of Daggerburg Keep. I suppose Baron Stockmer is getting a little senile these days, maybe with enough prompting, and easily digestible food he will recall more information. One thing that does worry me, though, is Bastian. I mean now that I have spent a little more time with him I can… sort of say he’s not like other eladrin. I’m not saying I trust him though. Well anyway it doesn’t matter what kind of eladrin he is – no one in Harkenwold is going to look favourably upon his presence, and I am not certain of the wisdom in bringing him with us. I mean Harkenwold was a rough place for me to live, and I am just a simple elf! Imagine how they would react to an eladrin. I’m not sure how to put it to him, however, without sounding churlish.

I was ruminating on all this, and walking in private just off the road, when the group became aware of a bear charging at us. It was large, and unnaturally angry. There wasn’t much time to confer with the others, we all had to fall to our battle positions. At first I was certain that we would be able to defeat the bear easily enough, but when Amos rode Concorde into battle the bear showed us its fearsome attack power. I feared greatly for Concorde, but Amos had the wisdom to allow his steed to flee the battle, injured and frightened, but still alive.

When we finished the battle, and were examining the corpse, we noted that the bear seemed unusually well fed and cared for. I hate to think we slaughtered someone’s pet, but considering the strange mood the bear had been in I think we probably did that person a favour. I do hear they make an un_bear_ably paw pet anyway – too grizzly by half.

Continuing onwards we found the road we were after. Well I say road, but in reality it was just a long strip of forest that was not quite as densely covered by foliage as the rest of the area. I would have thought it completely unused were it not for a poster (quite a new one) hanging on one of the trees. A wanted poster! For JORN of all people dwarves! I had quite the laugh over it, as well as the picture of Jorn on it. I took it with me hoping to have it signed by Yawn himself but he wouldn’t do it (when we did finally catch up). Apparently he had already seen the posters and wasn’t particularly amused about being the fall guy for this politically-charged high-profile murder case. I don’t know, some people have no sense of humour. Must be because he is a dwarf, they are all far too down to earth for such things as jokes (in fact they are more like 20ft under the earth, no wonder levity is a foreign concept). At the same time something seemed to be the matter with Condcorde. We thought perhaps it had something to do with the tokens sewn into his ear and neck, but there was no way to tell for sure. He seemed to be on an energy high and we feared for his health.

Still there was no time to put more of an argument to Jorn for the signing of the poster, nor to stop for a better examination of Concorde’s affliction, as a huge bear appeared in the distance. Deja vu right? Wrong, it was much much bigger than the previous bear, and it seemed to have armour plates of some variety. I am not even certain that it was a bear. I mean, of course I wasn’t scared. Why I could eat ten of those bears for breakfast! The rest of the party however are a lot more squishy than I am, and I knew that if I stayed to fight then they would as well.

Quite contrary to his previous behaviour Concorde escaped from Amos and charged at the bear. Fearing for Concorde’s safety, Zephyr cast a mighty spell on the bear and dazed it, but it was obvious Concorde was now servant only to his own whim. As we fled, Concorde struck out at the bear and tried to draw it away from our group. We ran as fast as we could – veering into the forest where the bear could not move as freely, and still it looked like it would soon catch up with us.

Finally we came to a steep incline – almost a free-fall. Far below was the river. While others devised a way to get down I snatched up the rug from Jorn’s floating disk. It may be valuable in terms of gold, but never was it has never been so valuable to me as it was at that moment. Seeing that it could easily fit two people I dragged the nearest team mate onto it and set off down the bank. It turned out to be the eladrin. I felt far less pleased with myself when I realised who it was, but never-the-less it was done. I decided there and then that I would prove myself as an elf to this eladrin, for perhaps if I can show him my worthiness then the vicious mockery I received as a child will be erased, and I can finally forget it as misplaced abuse.

I stood on the carpet, riding it down so steadily you could have been forgiven for thinking I had been doing this all my life. As it reached the bottom I stepped off, and walked a few hurried (but graceful) paces until I came to a stop, completely unharmed, and ready to carry on. Others were not quite as fortunate, but they do not possess my elven prowess. From there we were forced to keep moving along the river, climbing over rocks, and the like. Each of us was relying on those of either side of us to be our aid should we slip and fall. At the same time we were much abused by mosquitoes. They seemed to know we were too busy to slap them away. Even now I can feel the sickness that their bites brought with them – a certain sluggishness and a slight fever. All through our exploits the bear haunted us from above, seeking any way to get to us, but in the growing darkness Concorde appeared once more, silhouetted against the sky he seemed larger and more fearsome, with glowing eyes. He drew the bear away from us again, giving us a reprieve from its presence.

Next we faced a hop-skip-and a jump over the river on stones in the water. We also noted that the water was rising, giving us precious little time to complete the task. Naturally I was not at all inconvenienced, and proved again the superiority of elves. Swiftblade also did quite well in this task, even though he is but a human. He is learning quickly of the ways of the adventurer! The wretched dwarf was strapped to his disk and he went underwater instead of jumping, for his ridiculous stilts and natural clumsiness would have seen him dunked more times in the water than a pen in an inkwell. Zephyr fell once or twice, but I did not begrudge him, as he is more suited to books and spells than the rigours of physical activities, and more than once on other occasions he has excelled and proved himself an important (if sometimes hysterical) part of the group. Bastian was sure footed as an elf, using his fey powers to out-manoeuvre us all.

Most importantly however, there was a corpse in the water. I could see Zephyr’s eye drawn at once to the gold chain just visible around its neck. I had other reasons for pursuing the body. With some deft knot-work from Bastian, we were able to retrieve the corpse. The necklace ended up in Bastian’s hands – it had a small golden statue on the end in the shape of a beholder – I am told this is a fearsome beast, but personally I have not encountered it in my studies. Bastian wanted to know what I planned to do with the body, as though I was some kind of ghoul, and I was tempted to reply that I wanted to eat it, but then I recalled that I was proving myself to him. I do not understand some people. We are adventurers – and this could have been us if we were not quite so lucky, or did not have such helpful comrades. I would have thought Bastian of all people would know why I wanted to salvage the body. We performed the best burial possible under the circumstances, and took note of the location. It was only during burial that I realised there were blow-darts in the body. Clearly this adventurer met with foul play. I plucked out one of the darts and kept it for myself, carefully stowing it in my bag.

Still the bear was a nuisance. It irritated me to see it standing over us – threatening my followers! I could feel the anger welling up inside me at the arrogance of the bear to stand within range of my weaponry as though I could do nothing to keep it away from the group. I wished that Peque was there to guard my back as he had before, and as though my wish had been granted I could almost feel his giant clawed hand resting on my shoulder in support. A breath of fire flew from my mouth to burn the bear, and realising its error in underestimating the group, it turned and fled, its charred fur still smouldering.

Finally we were forced to swim underwater to once again cross the river. This trek has been burdensome from the very start, but we had to press on. Trees had collapsed over the river and formed a sagging net for the bear to use as a means to get to us. We had to swim under this net. First went Swiftblade, with one end of a rope. I held on at the other end, and between us we made a taught guideline for the others. Everyone navigated that stretch of the river successfully, thanks to Swiftblade’s cunning plan.

That is all for now. One good thing that has come of all this is that I feel a strengthened and renewed sense of camaraderie with the rest of the group. By assisting each other as we did, it is clear that we can work together yet, and it gives me hope that in the future we might still have a chance at being a proper adventure team.

Anyhow, I can see there is a storm raging to the North – what a pain. Also there is no place to sleep and the night is upon us. It is clear we still have some ways to go before we can rest.

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DM log-- back to Harkenwold 2

Another fantastic session! Here’s the brief log… in practice the session had a lot more, er, colour than described here, so as always, player logs are appreciated.

It is evening of 24 Patchwall 598 CY. See timeline and calendar.

Kat Rosie emerged from the water behind the party as they wrung out their clothes after their underwater dip. She had been on their trail from the place of the dire bear encounter onward, following them skilfully to reach this point. She related that she had been talking with a clan of elves from a part of the forest now south of the party, called the Thistledown Clan. They had fortunately not heard about the accusation marking Kat as a conspirator in the Immil murder. Kat had only time for a brief chat, and chose to ask them about what she had seen in the Red Mirror in Farallax’s lair. Kat revealed that the woman there was an elf and called Lilliana by her cruel captor. Those in the clan said that in fact, a member of their clan by that name left the woods for the despised life of an adventurer a few months ago. Out of concern they sent elders to trail her and make sure she was not going to fall into ruin or disrepute. Lilliana went to Fallcrest, where she met up with a newly minted adventurer named Dereth, a human paladin of Pelor. After a few adventures, they were given a quest that directed them out of the city, following the Nentir River to the north. The elder who gathered this information found it out too late, and was unable to pick up their trail. Nothing has been heard from Lilliana or Dereth for at least a week, which bodes ill, since they were not equipped for a long stay away from the protection of town.

The party came to a waterfall. On their western bank of the increasingly deep and rushing river, further passage north was impossible: a large and slippery rock face loomed over them. On the east bank of the river, though, was a trail—the first sign of civilisation they had seen (well, besides the blowdarts) since they entered the river chasm. By walking across the river on the rocks pounded by the waterfall, they could get across. This would take a great firmness of bodily resolve. {This required Endurance checks every time a move action first brought them into a square being pummelled by the waterfall. It was difficult terrain, and 8 squares across.} In practice, this was tricky. Some of the less stout party members were crushed to the rocky floor under the rushing water, and more than once they had a toppled dwarf atop them. They could only be helped up by another still standing. Amos, his shirt forcibly ripped away by the crushing water, used his impressive strength to forge the way ahead. Kat also held up very well, and with Amos explored a cave behind the waterfall. In there was shelter, signs of past habitation, and a handwritten note. It said: “Dear Vilma, How are you? Are you well? I am well. I am in a cave. Soon I will be in Valhalla. You will still be waiting for me in the forest. If the one thing you want is to kill me, then the one pleasure I have is to take away your prize. Soon, I will try to swim the river. The rivers of my youth were always frozen, so I never learned how. But perhaps the gods will reward me for falling in a fight, even if it is only against the elements. Whoever found this note found a new prize I made for you. If you are hearing this love letter, that means they stunned you, tied you up, and read this to you. Soon they will hang you from your favourite tree. While you slowly choke, you will know I did this to you. Think of me while you rot in Hades and I hunt in the eternal fields. Until we meet again, Tervil.” There were two sacks there, filled with a noxious goo. Later the party discovered they could be tossed to stun goblins. {Save ends; otherwise like Tanglefoot Bag (level 2) with an extra +2 to hit since it’s an uncommon level 4 item.}

The party managed to get out alive though somewhat the worse for wear. One high point was Zepher on the Tenser’s Disc, with Kat’s shield above him for protection, looking a bit like a hovering turtle. Unfortunately even this precaution was not enough and he swallowed a lot of water.

Marching on, they were surprised by the creak of bows. They looked up to see, on the ravine edge, the glint of moonlight on many arrows. An elven voice called out, “Stay where you are or you will be shot down! Kat Rosie, sister elf, I hesitate to call you so. There is only one Kordian warrioress in these lands, and we hear such a one killed the good cleric Immil in Cavendor Town. All of you come with us for a hearing of this crime.” Kat readily agreed, seeing this as a chance to clear their names; some others in the party were less sure when required to hand over their weapons. However, a moment later, the party heard the familiar roar of the dire bear and the elves pricked up their long ears. The party then informed them, by the way, look out for that, and in a panic the elves performed a hasty exit, pursued by a bear.

Just as the party was considering how they could safely sleep in such an infested, wet place with a bear roaring down at them, Amos caught a whiff on the air and stopped them. Slowly advancing they found what he smelled: a camp of lizardfolk on the other side of the river, this time mercifully attainable by a small suspension bridge. After some planning, Theren snuck ahead first. He saw a lean-to by a campfire, in which was one burly soldier, and hiding in some bushes was at least one little blowgun-wielding needler. A cave was nearby with some noise coming from it. What looked like a well appeared suspicious to Theren’s experienced eye after reading many stories of dungeon adventuring { Dungeoneering check}: it looked more like the kind of pit in which a dangerous creature might be kept. Theren climbed across two trees that formed a kind of aerial bridge across the river. A mislaid step made a noise that summoned the soldier from out of the lean-to but when the lizardman looked up into the tree, Theren stayed very still, and his darkleaf armor saved the day: he blended into the foliage so well that the soldier’s keen, beady eyes seemed to look right through him. Theren carefully continued, dropping softly down onto the lean-to itself, where he spied a way to sever the vines holding the roof up. He cut away at them until the roof was nearly ready to collapse.

Meanwhile, Zepher and Bastian snuck to the bridge and got ready. On a signal, the rest of the party charged in, noisy but fast, getting the drop on their foes. {They got a surprise round thanks to this good positioning and stealth.} Zepher put out the campfire, since some in the party knew that lizardmen cannot see well in the dim light. Theren dropped the roof, which crushed not one but two soldiers underneath, and Zepher dazed one of them. By the time they got into the fray, the soldiers were already badly hurt, and Kat and Amos were across the bridge, stopping them from blocking that narrow passage. Blow darts flew from all directions.

Things were going well until the trapper showed up. With an aiaiai scream, a lizardman ran from the cave, waving a net. He had on a feathered headdress that made Theren’s plucky pirate hat feather droop in shame. This admiration was short lived as the hooked net soon fell on Theren and Zepher, the latter of whom was dangerously close to the front lines of the battle. Theren soon escaped the net, but Zepher did not, and the trapper started to retreat and pull. A last flurry of blows from Amos and Kat did not stop him, and in a twinkling Zepher slid to the edge of the pit. For an awful moment he scrabbled at the pit edge through the mesh of the net, but was unable to grab ahold, and disappeared down the hole. The party heard not a sickening crunch but an even more disturbing wet squelchy splat…

{Players please note that each of you (whether you were here for the session or not) you get 250XP total for this plus the previous session DM log— back to Harkenwold.}

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DM log-- back to Harkenwold

Here is my usual brief log. The party logs have been fantastic and it’s fun (and very helpful) to see what is added to the wiki pages as well. It helps me craft better stories. Onward!

It is midday of 24 Patchwall 598 CY. See timeline and calendar.

After so long underground, Kat was aching for a walk in the woods, so she took off on a survey, with Jorn for company. Later, the party came across Jorn, who had wandered off while Kat was talking with some elves, starting picking herbs, and was just considering making his way back towards Kat when the party ran through the woods. {Katrena missed the session; Scott came late.} But I am getting ahead of the story…

The party decided to head back to Harkenwold to find out what Fenstrom meant in his dark warning about Ercullum. The fastest and safest way seemed to be to head straight east to find the road that led south to Cavendor Town, but take that road north, where some recalled it should connect with King’s Road. It was now late morning and they figured it would require an overnight stay in the woods.

In the forest they of keen ears and eyes saw a huge bear charging toward them with obviously hungry intent. The party defended itself. The worst of it was laid on Concorde, who Amos rode into battle. Concorde was no warhorse and must have looked tasty to the bear, who attacked the steed. Soon Concorde unhorsed Amos and ran off in fright. After dispatching the bear, they found Concorde again and headed east, wondering why a bear would have attacked them so aggressively—it was not starving, no cubs or lair nearby, and it did not seem like bear territory.

They found the overgrown but still somewhat usable road by late afternoon and started heading north. Soon they came upon a poster tacked to a tree. It had a crude drawing of evil bearded dwarf face and says: “Wanted! Murderer and master thief JORN. Infiltrated, slaughtered, and looted beloved Immil of Cavendor Town. Bring to us the wicked bearded head of this infamous assassin and most notorious rogue of our sad age. Reward. Last seen consorting with a party of dubious repute: a scarred Eladrin noble, a strange Kordian elven warrioress, a grubby dwarf soldier, and a circus clown."

The sun set and they heard Concorde start breathing heavily. The horse was sweating and its eyes bloodshot and bulging. With some expertise in healing, arcane knowledge, and nature, they figured the horse was pumped with a recent surge of adrenaline, with a racing heart. They figured the sinew which was sutured behind the horse’s ear was the source, and necromantic energy was feeding into the horse’s own life energy. It still seemed like a bad idea to rip out the sinew and the horse was not obviously in danger, so they went on warily. Zepher tried showing Concorde the bone staff of Malareth’s. The horse seemed to recognise it, wary of it, and stood to a kind of attention. Zepher destroyed the staff and the horse relaxed a bit but remained pumped up.

The light now dim and stars appearing, their march up the road was stopped by a chilling sight: an even huger bear, this one bristling with bony plates, running towards them down the road. Though they did not know what kind it was, it seemed a different species than the other bear, and far more dangerous. Staying on the road seemed to give the bear the advantage of speed, and it was already faster than them. Going west might be back into more bear country. So they decided to run east. Zepher hit it right between the eyes {a natural 20} and stunned it a moment, but even with this mightly blast of magic, it seemed hardly scratched. They continued running, hoping to find terrain the bear could not go through, as it was catching up. However, Concorde gave them an unexpected advantage: very unlike his formerly meek self with the first bear, the horse charged the bear and wildly kicked it, drawing it away from the party, and continuing the lure it as the party ran in a parallel line.

Knowing this run could not continue for long, the party was relived to see a river chasm up ahead. They scrambled and slid down a very steep bank, getting a few scrapes. Thankfully the bear balked at following, and Concorde continued to try to draw it away. But though they were safe, they could not come back up: the bear returned without Concorde, and by using fallen trees could cross to either side of the chasm. They decided to head north, upstream, where Amos reckoned the walls would get steeper and prevent the bear from coming down to them. Besides, it was still the right general direction and might lead them to Concorde, who might be alive or dead at this point.

Upstream they went, soon seeing crocodiles in the water—dangerous but unclear if they would come out of the water to attack. They were swarmed with mosquitoes and contracted a swamp fever which did not have very grave effects yet {lost one healing surge and speed -1} but who knows how it may complicate after time.

Walking up the west shore, they came to a spot where the river filled the chasm side to side. The sides were uneven with footholds, and not far upstream the shore was walkable, so the party used climbing skills and a climber’s kit to move along. A few lost their grip and started to fall, but a fellow was always next to them to catch hold of them. {This was a group Athletics check.}

The bear continued to track them, intent on getting down—unusually intent, it seemed, though the party did not know much about this dire kind of bear. When it was especially threatening, Concorde again appeared—just a shadow framed against the stars above, with glowing red eyes. He again kicked the bear to lure it away.

The party was again blocked from proceeding up the shore, but this time by a large, hard rock that looked impossible to climb on. They had to cross to the far shore, which allowed passage. Fortunately there were many boulders in the water and the river was shallow and rapid from many more fallen rocks. Unfortunately they looked unsteady and slippery, and the river seemed to be slowly rising. Against one rock was pressed a corpse. The party used ropes and careful hops to make their way across—except Jorn, the least acrobatically gifted of the group, who they tied to his Tenser’s Disc so he could move himself, underwater, to the far shore. At times some of the party fell in, but the others held the rope firm and kept them from slipping downstream, in a show of great teamwork. Bastian even recovered the corpse’s pack and gold necklace (of a beholder so call this the beholder necklace), and tied the rope so skillfully that it could be pulled to the far shore intact. They noticed that the corpse had several blowdarts still embedded in her skin. They buried it under a cairn of rocks, and took note of the surroundings so it could be found again. She is dubbed, for lack of a better name, the river corpse.

The party needed to swim across the river to the west shore again, underwater since a web of fallen trees made the passage tricky. However, Amos swam ahead and held a rope which the others used to pull themselves along—a clever solution.

Far to the north, they see a flash of lightning. Perhaps that storm is feeding this rising river. No place to camp, so they must press on. It is still early evening, however, and if one discounts the dire bear, the freaky horse, the crocodiles, the rising water, the memory of the bloated corpse spiny with blowdarts, and the languor of swamp fever, it looks to be quite a pleasant night!

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Judging Jorn
Theren's Log

For a start, I feel as though prying eyes have been in my journal. There is so much distrust in our group that I am no longer inclined to make clear my thoughts and feelings. Although Zephyr may disagree, there was a ring of truth to Trabek’s advice to take the things that you want, but I think it will be easier to do that if no one knows what it is that I plan to take. Does the thief alert their target before they make the theft? I think not. Recent events have made my target clear, and I shall work alone in taking what I want. If the rest of the group are not sharing their secrets then clearly they also plan to resolve these secrets alone, rather than as a group. I cannot trust anyone who hides their true intentions, beliefs, and motivations, which is why I must follow suit. That is all I shall write on the matter for now.

Yawn and I came back to Twisting Halls to find the group, but almost as soon as we stepped through the doorway there was some kind of commotion going on. Farallax’s voice echoed through the halls, demanding that Zephyr hand over some necklace or other. The dragon itself stood outside the closed doors of a small room, and from its address I assume the entire party was in there. Impatiently Farallax beat at the doors, smashing them open, and crushing a large portion of the wall with his upper body.

Sticking half in and half out of the room he looked more ridiculous than ever. The kobold that surrounded the area did not share this opinion, however. They shouted in vicious glee to see the raw power of the young dragon as the fight started in earnest.

Unable to get into the room to assist, I contented myself with picking off the kobold that were trying to gain entry through another door. It was then that a thought struck me. While everyone was busy, why not acquaint myself with Farallax’s stash of treasure? I tried to make my way over to the passage that would take me to Farallax’s lair, but more kobold than ever were streaming out of it, and Yawn was sore pressed to take them all.

It was then that Farallax seemed to squirm about, taking out the entire southern wall of the room and revealing the scene inside. In truth the room was not big enough for a party of adventurers, let alone a party of adventurers and an angry fledgling dragon. Bastian, and Amos were squashed up against the walls, while Zephyr seemed to be caught up in the far alcove. They looked hard pressed to keep up with the dragon, who was gaining determination from the assembled Kobold outside, so with Yawn’s assistance I decided to do something about the cheer squad before they decided to join in.

After slaying all of the kobold in the room, I asked Yawn to bring over his floating disk, along with the heavy stone sword (plus arm) to help in barricading the doors closed. Something was going on in the room, and later we were briefed on Zephyr’s attempted trickery, but at the time Farallax’s bulk was obscuring my view of events.

Suddenly a powerful force applied itself to the door. I could have held the door shut, of course, but I was growing weary of having no part in the action, and curious about the being who must posses enough strength to make such an impression. I allowed the doors to crash open to reveal a strange looking dwarf (although let us be honest, they are all a bit strange looking) with two reliable looking human guards. Ah what I wouldn’t give for a reliable group… although we might still be able to teach Yawn how to fire quills from his beard. That might be handy.

In the end, although we were about to slay the dragon, this Trabek moved in and stole the victory. Strike one. Still he seemed to have business with Farallax, so perhaps he was simply taking something he wanted. What do I care who finished off the dragon, so long as it is dead and my group, unreliable as they are, come out of the encounter with most of their bodies in one piece.

We moved the meet and greet to Farallax’s den, which looked much larger without a stupid, fat dragon in it, although it was still frosty, and much of the treasure hoard was covered in ice. This Trabek seemed to gain a liking for Yawn based on an assumption that seemed to have missed the mark a little, but let us not dwell on it. What does it matter if Trabek gets a good impression of us based on a false premise?

Well he seemed more than a little dismissive of elves, despite taking advantage of their craftsmanship. Strike two. He also seemed to be more amused than anything at meeting us, and I sense that there is much he is hiding from us, not to mention that he claimed most of the treasure hoard for himself. Strike three.

On comparing notes, we learned that the group had stupidly allowed themselves to be tricked into delivering an assassin to his target, and now Jorn is held the sole culprit for the murder of an influential man who lived very much in the public eye – another cleric of Pelor (they seem to be dying all over the place). The rest of the group (bar myself, and possibly Amos) are wanted men. Honestly, are they really that easily duped? I would have thought the bard at least might have his wits about him but the whole lot of them seemed to have been hit one too many times in the head… but perhaps I expect too much of my fellows, after all, they can’t even hope to compare to my great intellect.

Despite hearing all of this confusion, Trabek offered for us all to join his powerful group. Whether that offer was genuine will remain to be seen, but in the meantime the invitation is already bearing fruit in the form of an offer for spectacular weaponry for Amos. Unfortunately this would require us to take a trip to Fallcrest that we can little afford, although I can see that the swords ignited a hunger in Amos.

I managed to secure my dark leaf armour, and although I can no longer identify which leaf I took from Bony, the entire outfit will still serve me as a reminder. Zephyr kicked up a stink, and threatened not to give me the armour unless I shared out a portion of my treasure to everyone in the group. After everything I had done for him. If he wants treasure so badly then he should concentrate on looting, rather than playing at taking vengeance on half-dead hobgoblins.

Why didn’t he just ask me first? It feels as though we have already been travelling together for many years, and this is the first time he comes to me asking for something. I can’t remember the last time that he said a friendly word to me, even though I have held nothing but concern for him. Then he comes to me and says ‘Give me a share of the money’ but he doesn’t ask with respect. He doesn’t offer friendship. He didn’t even think to call me an elf. Instead he took something that was rightfully mine, something I would have collected with my own two hands if it hadn’t been for his stubbornness in ignoring Yawn, and demand I pay for it. What had I ever done to make him treat me so disrespectfully? If he had come to me in friendship then he would have a portion of my treasure this very day. Now though, I wouldn’t even trust him with a wooden coin. He has no control, and no doubt the treasure would be wasted in a fit of ill-considered temptation.

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Second Thoughts

Sorry about the length of this one, folks. In order to keep the secrets of our tricksy GM, this log actually covers three play sessions, including the extended one. Just as a warning, some of Bastian’s opinions have been caused by failed Insight checks. -Skewed

No sooner had Zepher and I exited the enclosure where the goblin Mosook breathed his last, we learned that the dwarf had fled in a fit of pique over being denied opportunity to practice upon the goblin. Suffice to say I was not surprised. I was surprised to learn that the crossbowman, Theren, had followed to try to talk some sense into it. I wish him luck, but I fear it shall be a difficult task. I am shamed to admit it, but I can feel nothing but relief at the temporary loss of those companions, for there is unresolved hostility between us that I would rather not have to address so soon. My relief was short-lived, however, for there was another body that was less-than-dead upon the pile. Another dwarf. My joy knew no bounds. Were it my choice, like as not I would have left it there, but the others felt we should heal the thing. And, as Kat’s magic is more draining than my own, it fell to me to heal it. Though having to use my talents is such a manner is galling at best.

Unfortunately, it was a shining paragon of dwarven culture. That is, rough and crude to the bone. It called itself Steak, which is surely accurate for such a meat-brained individual. I kept my distance as much as possible for a group of adventurers in a dungeon. Bad enough that the thing decided to follow us, I should not be expected to socialise with it.

~

We returned through the Halls, past the sacrificial altar of Baphomet. Zepher asked me to retrieve a moonstone from the eye socket. Climbing up with Amos’ aid, I successfully extracted the gem and stored it safely. Strangely enough, all the bodies that had previously strewn the room were gone. What could possibly want corpses, now that Malareth is gone? Perhaps it would be better not to know.

It was not long before we were accosted by a tiny reptilian man, nervously gabbling about the dragon Farallax, who was, according to the lizard, rather eager to see us. We travelled through the Halls, coming across a room floored like a chessboard. My companions warned me that some ensorcellment caused the pieces, those that were left at any rate, to attack if the proper movements were not made. Unfortunately, Zepher misstepped upon crossing, triggering the pieces to attack. I assume it was a misstep, for I find it hard to believe that someone would intentionally contravene the rules after warning me so explicitly against such an act. The pieces only seemed hostile to Zepher, so we continued cautiously along the board, trying to shield him from their ire, although he was ready to fall if necessary for the rest of us to continue on. His resolve was commendable, but the opposing queen mated him without more than a few minor scrapes and bruises, and we continued from there to the lair of the dragon Farallax. Amos assisted me to search for my fallen companions. Here he showed his worth, for he espied that which I had missed, and rappelled down into a pit himself to investigate on my behalf. A blessing, perhaps, that I did not need to go down myself, for the only part that was easily recoverable was poor Askad’s sword and hand.
We rejoined the others, and I elected to stay quiet, for Zepher seemed to have some knowledge and previous acquaintance with this dragon. I was careful to hide it from such a dangerous adversary, but I can feel nothing but scorn for something so vain and proud. After some treating with the dragon, and exchanging the head of Malareth for an intriguing suit made of russet leaves, the dragon revealed one of the reasons behind its overweening smugness. Beneath its horse-sized rump, encased in the same frost that rimed the walls of the lair, was the dwarf, Jorn. I suppose I must acknowledge its name, now that we have two of the pests to contend with. According to the dragon, Jorn had tasted something called Inviolation Ichor while poking around for ritual components. Trust a dwarf to stick its finger into every pot and cause trouble for others. According to the dragon, this Ichor causes an extremely contagious malady that can only be contained using intense cold, such as the dragon’s breath. He also told us that Theren had been seen fleeing the dungeon, although he was vague about when it happened. He also told us that the only hope for Jorn is to take it to a healer called Immil, but that we must hurry before the ice wears off and the contagion spreads, although we are safe until removing the body from the chill of Farallax’ lair.
Zepher questioned the dragon, showing as much servility as possible to stroke its ego, learning that the red mirror in the lair allows it to view places of interest. Upon asking about a sigil door, Farallax dismissed this, although so much so that it would likely be in our interests to investigate that which the dragon does not want us to. Everybody seemed to fear for Jorn, for the dragon grew more insistent in its desire to eat it, so we took the body, swaddled for our own protection, and exited the Twisting Halls.

Emerging into the light, we all spread out to try and find a horse Amos had hidden in the nearby forest. Not well enough, however, for it was only Zepher’s keen eye that spotted the beast. Seems like a normal horse, despite having a bone charm sutured into its ear.

~

We make good time, travelling through the forest. Amos volunteered to scout ahead, so we saw little of him the entire journey, save for when he checked in to report. We made good time, despite the fact that the meathead tried to feed Poison Ivy to the horse. Luckily the others were not so foolish and stopped him in time. Zepher used his magical arts to keep the body as cold as possible.

Eventually we catch sight of Cavendor Town. The stories seemed to be true about the state of it, although some of the cottages seemed to show signs of maintenance. As we approached the central manor of the town, I spied movement from one of the cottages, so we all delayed briefly to investigate.

We investigated the hovel from outside, but to no avail. Furthermore, neither entreaty nor threats shouted from outside elicited any response. Eventually, the meathead lost patience and kicked the door down. Attempted to, at any rate. Took the thing five good tries before the rotted and weathered old door finally gave way. Were the situation not so serious, it would have been amusing to watch.

Both Kat and Zepher spotted signs of habitation, so we entered cautiously, Kat in the lead. A dishevelled man sprung from hiding to attack. To my complete and utter surprise, it was the meathead itself who actually managed to calm the man. Will wonders never cease? The man, Vaughn, told us that Immil lived in the mansion on the hill. We left the man fretting about his door. Zepher offered him gold, as is proper, but it seemed that he would have no use for it in a place such as this. Unfortunately, Vaughn’s refusal of money left the other sullen, and they gruffly denied him any other form of recompense before leaving. I would have thought that my sister-elf was more empathetic, but I’m afraid I must have been wrong in my estimation. In my opinion the situation could have been dealt with in a more diplomatic manner, but the need was pressing.

At first glance, the mansion seemed derelict, being old and overgrown. However, upon closer inspection it became apparent that the mansion was merely lived in by someone very close to nature, a great lover of plants. Kat informed us that the garden was home to herbs only used by skilled practitioners of the healing arts.

Knocking at the main door provoked sounds of movement within, but it was only when Kat shouted for a healer that a door opened on the balcony above, showing brilliant blue eye sighting us down the haft of a crossbow. This man we rightly assumed to be Immil, who was justifiably suspicious. He questioned us about Jorn, and then went on a diatribe about various subjects, the untrustworthiness of dragons and the shoddy training of today’s Pelorites being foremost among them. Say one thing about this man, say that he can talk. Loath as I was to interrupt him, I had to interject on our behalf. For while I am perfectly content to let the dwarf perish for his stupidity, in true barbaric fashion he is endangering the rest of us as well. I would not will such a malady upon the others.

I could see only one way to expedite this process, and that was to… help… the meathead lift Jorn up to Immil. I shall say no more on this, for I would not wish my journal to fill to the brim with the vitriol that would likely ensue. Suffice to say, Immil cast a ritual upon the body, averting the crisis. Temporarily, at least. He then invited the meathead and I inside, stating that Kat and Zepher must remain outside.
But I digress. For then I was inside the house with Immil and two dwarves. My elation knew no bounds. The mansion itself was somewhat of a distraction, however, being full of books of every subject, strange artefacts, oddly-shaped curios and lovely paintings. The furniture was worn, but once it would have been magnificent. The meathead was busy gawking at this or that column or buttress, so was not able to annoy. Nor did he say anything useful, I might add. Meanwhile, I attempted to spy upon Immil as he treated Jorn, although he seemed to be investigating rather than actually healing. I was not able to hear much, but I gathered the following:
*Inviolation Ichor is indeed a very serious disease. Our precautions were justified, and the dragon’s information was accurate, thus far, including the necessity of keeping the victim cold.
*Something connected to Inviolation Ichor happened at or near Fallcrest, twenty years ago. Immil learned something there, unfortunately I could not make out from whom, just that it was a halfling.
*According to Farallax, Jorn had tasted a finger after plunging it into the Ichor. However, Immil in his investigation was primarily concerned with the back of Jorn’s neck.
*Immil seemed reasonably comfortable with the meathead and I, despite the fact that he didn’t seem to want the others around.

It was then that Immil finished his ministrations, and informed us that because treatment would take time, we should return after 2 days to collect the weakened dwarf. After this, he gave us the blessing of his god. I could feel vitality and clarity flooding through me at his benediction. Furthermore, he gave us both a potion that would knit our wounds, with the warning that anyone not of a similar mindset would suffer malignant effects were they to imbibe it. As he gave us these gifts, I blurted the question that had been on my mind regarding the Ichor on the dwarf’s neck. He regarded me suspiciously, while I mentally kicked myself for such a ham-fisted approach, but informed me that the Ichor had indeed been implied to the back of the neck. Perhaps Jorn, despite being a dwarf, was not so stupid after all. In this regard.

~

We each had unfinished business in the Twisting Halls, so we made the journey back to that stinking pit. Our first destination was the Sigil Door, which Zepher had been working on for quite some time, if he is to be believed. This was something I had no experience of, but Zepher was kind enough to explain the details to me, as he depressed each sigil just so. When the final rune was activated, the door trembled before swinging wide with a gust of wind. A column of heavenly light lanced down, glinting off a purple gem set in a finely-crafted golden chain. The amulet floated in the air as if worn on the shoulders of a great minotaur, and Zepher stared in awe at the amulet. The amulet sparked something deep in my mind, recalling a time, years ago, when I would study with my father in the small hours of the night, high above the ground in one of Rökholm’s mighty towers. A chapter on the religions of the realm bore a beautiful illumination showing a head priest donning such a vestment, resplendent after his purification elsewhere.

Zepher immediately tried to grab the amulet, to no avail. It faded and became incorporeal whenever any hand reached it, stymieing any attempt to claim it. The meathead suggested cleansing, which I am sure is a first for it, and dashed off to find the purification chamber. Kat went along to keep an eye on it. I elected to investigate a large basin in the adjacent room, provoking an unexpected occurrence. As I approached the basin, the waters cleared, and I felt as if I could see anywhere I desired. Of course, concern about the dragon was foremost in my mind. As I focused upon that concern, the waters swirled and resolved into a picture of the dragon himself, luxuriating atop his horde as his kobold minions groomed him. Perhaps the basin also gave me enhanced empathy, for I could sense that he eagerly awaited our return. I know not what devilish plan lies in store, but I doubt that it will culminate in anything but corpses and wealth for Farallax.

Zepher realised that the amulet should not be touched with bare hands, and summarily enlisted aid in being held up to minotaur height. The amulet settled around his neck, and he entered some sort of trance, a faraway look in his eyes. Snapping out of it, he rushed us to the prayer chambers to worship Pelor. Why I could not fathom, but we tagged along nonetheless. Wondering if another amulet could be conjured if the Sigil Door was once again opened, the meathead went into the other room and closed it behind him. For some reason, Zepher refused to part with the correct rune sequence. Despite this, the boneheaded dwarf forged ahead, pressing willy-nilly and triggering an alarm that rang through the entire dungeon. The dwarf was cut off from us, however, so perhaps it was a mixed blessing. While talking with Zepher, it seems that he had though the meathead was trying to steal the amulet from him, rather than conjuring another. While I can understand his reluctance to assist in such a matter, his manner seems ever so slightly too… covetous… for my taste. Couple this with his strange impulse of earlier, and I begin to wonder if the amulet is having some effect on his mind.

It was not long after the alarm sounded that Farallax emerged, trailing his Kobold bodyguards. Zepher immediately set to grovelling, but the dragon was more astute than previously, recognising the falsity and growing angry. It was then that he set eyes upon the amulet around Zepher’s neck. Such a light of avarice was kindle in the dragon’s eyes, such blatant greed I had not seen in all my days. Luckily, Zepher managed to convince the dragon that the amulet was in fact a curse, preventing him from sleeping, and that it could not be removed without killing him and then destroying himself, neatly forestalling the inevitable chain of thought that Farallax would take the amulet by force. Not that this would stop the greedy dragon, who invited Zepher into his lair to ‘lift the curse’. However, the meathead suggested that destroying the statue of Baphomet would help to lessen Zepher’s ‘curse’. The dragon latched onto this, and chivvied us all to the statue. We successfully navigated the chessboard once again, despite Farallax urging us to make illegal moves. Somehow it seems he does not properly know the rules. It soon became apparent that it was not necessary for him, for he merely launched himself into the air and flew across. Effective, if a touch ungainly.

Farallax immediately set upon the statue when he entered the room, but no matter what he did the statue remained untouched. His ire built further and further until he was raging uncontrollably at the statue, before he looked around with his avaricious eyes, realising that the moonstones were no longer in the statue’s eyes. He cast about, frantically interrogating us as to the whereabouts of ‘his’ gem. I tried to hide it from him, to deny any knowledge of its existence, but the foul beast could smell it upon me. With a mighty roar, he slashed me from scalp to sternum, sending my blood spattering over the walls and sending me crumpled to the ground near senseless. Zepher and Amos were kind enough to drag me to another room, where we rested while my wounds healed. Oddly enough, through my lengthy recuperation I noticed the kobolds paying obeisance to Bahamut.

Having gained the gem, and secure in the knowledge that Zepher would not try to leave the Twisting Halls, Farallax was content to let us explore. There was one area left completely unexplored, save for the brief foray Amos and I had undertaken earlier. Thus we decided to clear out the goblin remnants we had detected.
We brazenly made our way to the first room, only for one of the goblins to recongise Kat and Zepher!

~

We were readying the attack when a strange halfling entered the room. She didn’t seem hostile, merely slinking over to a corner and hiding herself from the goblins, so we prepared to fight the obvious threat. No sooner had we begun to advance than a cry of rang out in goblin from a further room, telling our adversaries to fall back. It seemed to me like these goblins were not particularly hostile, but the others charged forward, and the battle was joined. It went much as battle does, each contributing their own to the fray. It was when the tide turned in our favour that the goblins started crying out in supplication to someone, or something, called ‘Karaash’. Desperately, they seemed to be readying themselves for some momentous even to happen. When nothing materialised, they cried out once more, this time openly to a large urn on one wall.

Zepher warned us that the Urn was full of Everburning Embers, which could potentially do great damage to us, advising us to exit the room as soon as physically possible. Amos refused to quit the room, and so for some inexplicable reason the meathead thought it would be a good idea to bull in and kick him in the unmentionables! Of course, he then merely tugged ineffectually at the now falsetto Amos. As for me, during the exchange of blows I attuned to the Feywild to teleport myself behind one of the goblins, attempting to clear a path for the others while removing me from the room in the process. Soon after, a bugbear stood up behind the brazier, tipping it over to fill the room some of us had only just managed to vacate. Amos skilfully dodges the flying embers, and manages to dance his way to clear ground. Kat and the meathead were not so lucky, however, being set ablaze from the bugbear’s attack, as well as suffering the burning floor now covered in hot coals. The bugbear brandished an elaborate longsword pulsing with red veins, shouting in glee at the damage it had caused.

We quickly despatched the remaining goblins, one of whom sputtered something as it fell to Kat’s blade, before pressing the attack against this Karaash. The hobgoblin seemed particularly intent upon the meathead, and carved a great gash down his front, rending him asunder, though not incapacitating him. The meathead is durable, I will give him that. We surrounded the hobgoblin, slowly whittling his vitality piece by piece. His sword was devastating, biting deep into Kat and seemingly draining some of her life essence in the process. It was then that the halfling sprung once more out of hiding and felled the hobgoblin. He had nothing of worth save for the sword, which went to Kat. It remains to be seen whether this was in fact a gift. Kat herself gave an amulet to the halfling, as thanks for saving her life and finishing Karaash.
The halfling quickly set to rifling through some barrels that were in the room. The others did not object, so I kept quiet. Until the third one, that is, when she uncovered Sara stuffed into it, hidden away. I… could not do anything. The sight of her, crammed pale and unmoving in rough wood, it unmanned me. I only snapped back to my senses when the halfling started removing Sara’s possessions. I had to put a stop to it, but not before her knives had been taken. This I let go, for I know she would want those knives to be put to good use. The other barrels contained rations and trash, nothing of particular import. It was a unanimous decision that if we allowed Zepher to be taken back to Farallax’ lair, it was almost certain that he would not exit. It was then, I think, that we truly resolved to slay the dragon.

Of course, with the fighting done the kobolds slunk back in to take us to Farallax. Thinking that we should cull some of the dragon’s minions before taking him on, we tried to lure them into the room and trap them, so they could be dispatched without alerting their master. Alas, but they were too spread out. We followed them back through the halls. I could not get a good count of them, but I surmised that there were at least 5. Zepher tried to remove the amulet on the way, only for it to tarnish and crack. Donning it repaired it slightly, although it still seemed adversely affected. How very odd. I suppose that touching it with the hands is still forbidden. Nearing Farallax’ lair, we quickly broke off and dashed to another room, containing a large brazier and a sigil upon the floor. We could hear the scurrying and gabbling of the kobolds as they scampered to report our sudden shift. Zepher explained to me the function of the room, as we all formulated a plan. We would hide along the walls, slaying any kobolds that ventured in, then tipping fire upon the dragon as soon as it entered. Zepher quickly nailed one of the doors shut, while I examined the sigil upon the floor. It seemed as if I should recognise it, when suddenly it hit me. I had heard of this sigil from an old wanderer who had shared a fire with myself and the others before my first ill-fated venture into these halls. He seemed a bit addled, and most of what he said was nonsense, save for a snippet describing this rune to perfection and hinting as to how it works. Well, with a quick examination I was able to figure out how to deactivate it.

Now we are waiting in this room, huddled against the walls with readied weapons, waiting for the dragon to crash down upon us. Zepher is hiding behind the brazier, waiting to dump fire upon the dragon. The tension is mounting, and I can only hope that we survive this next battle.

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Incensed Idiots & Intimidating Incidents
Theren's Log

Leaving Twisting Halls was easier than I thought it would be. Once outside, however, I was faced with an innocently blank forest, which was doing its best to deny that anyone had ever been able to navigate their way through the bushy undergrowth. Despite all my skill at tracking I could see neither hide, nor beard of Yawn, and I despaired of ever finding the dwarf again. He moves very quickly for a little fellow – I blame those blasted stilts he wears around the place; they lengthen his stride too much. Never-the-less, I am a determined fellow! I wasn’t about to be out done by a sulky dwarf in high heels. I pushed onwards.

A few hours later, just as the light was beginning to fade away, and the sun stretched languorously across the horizon, I spotted something. In the deepening shadows of the forest I saw a glow of light headed roughly in the direction of Fallcrest. I knew, of course, that it had to be Yawn. No one else would be stupid enough to wander around advertising their location like that. I found the dwarf still lugging all of the loot from Twisting Halls (the rug, the stone sword and whatnot) on his floating disk, which he had also illuminated. Yawn seemed surprised to see me, but he was willing to hear me out. I explained in some detail what had happened after he ran away, but it was not easy to win back his allegiance to the group. He was not entirely satisfied with Zephyr’s actions, claiming that even though the wizard did not kill Moosook, his continued blood-lust in this and in previous encounters was distasteful and ‘gloomy’ and that Yawn didn’t want to hang around with ‘gloomy’ people.

To be honest I don’t know why I argued so hard. Yawn has been a pain in the backside since day one, and his stupid Pelor worship is so embarrassing – not to mention his ‘greater than thou’ attitude. I suppose it would have been a pain to go and find a new cleric, and even though Yawn is one candle short of a birthday cake he is harmless enough. I finally managed to win him back by pointing out that Zephyr was mending his ways, but that he needed a good influence around, especially with Bastian in the group now. Oh yes – I wasn’t silent on Bastian’s role in the drama. Yawn himself pointed out that the strange appearance of the suspicious Eladrin occurred at precisely the same time as Fenstrom reappearing. He does not believe this to be a coincidence, and considering that Bastian was trying to corrupt Zephyr before I left, I am inclined to agree. I never thought Yawn could be so perceptive.

Well we had been walking and talking, and all the while the sun had been busy setting, and we had hardly noticed. I blinked my eyes, surprised to find that Yawn’s small light was the only thing illuminating the path. For half an hour or so we blundered back the way we had come, but we must have veered off course during the argument, for Twisting Halls was nowhere to be seen, and the forest looked quite unfamiliar. We were just discussing the practicality of setting up camp for the night when there was an ominous creaking noise overhead. Fearing that a branch was about to drop off a tree and crush me, I dived headlong to the ground, and crashed into something painfully solid. After a tense, confused moment, nothing happened. There were a few further wooden groans, and I replied in kind, prodding gingerly at my wounded head as I rose to my feet. Bringing the light over, I realised that the thing I had crashed headlong into was an anchor. Although it was as tall as a full grown elf, it was cast iron, and thus melded well with the darkness, hiding it from my keen vision. Stranger still was the thick, rusty chain that was attached to it, which disappeared up into the canopy of the trees.

Taking a step back, and then another, I peered up, trying to see where the chain ended. A light gust of breeze rocked the treetops gently, and all of a sudden I made sense of what I was seeing. Silhouetted against the moon-bright sky, and perched gingerly in the tops of the trees, was a giant ship.

It had two fin shaped masts in the middle and back of the ship, and was fronted by a square rigged mast. I can’t say I recognised the style of ship, for to be fair I am an elf not a… mermaid (although I have been told I have a singing voice that would make men want to throw themselves into the ocean), and ships are only something I have read about in books. Well there is one thing books tell me, and it is this: Ships = cargo = treasure. I convinced Yawn that we might be able to see Twisting Halls from the look out, and naturally, infused with hubris as he is, Yawn couldn’t resist the idea of climbing to the very tip-top of the lookout.

The climb was a little tricky for Yawn, being more naturally a ground dweller, but for my elven limbs it was as easy as climbing a tree, which is as easy as walking along flat ground, which is as easy as – well I am sure it is clear by now. It was easy. Now I am no expert, but the ship looked less like a wreck, and more like a fully functioning, recently well scrubbed vessel to me. There was even a modest lantern shedding light on deck, shielded from the ground. It was an oil lantern too, with plenty of fuel left. I was pretty sure then that the owners of the ship must be nearby, so I took a furtive glance around but I could see no one. Yawn was slightly less subtle in his approach, opting to call out salubrious salutations. I froze up, but still there was no reply. Feeling more ill at ease now than if we had been beset by enemies, I quickly scouted out the ship. There was a dining area, with food and drink set out on the table. The food was still warm but the ship was empty. Yawn couldn’t explain it, and the food seemed too modest to be magic’d (why make a slightly burned roast when you could have a luxurious banquet?) so we tucked in. For a moment, before I took the first bite, I could swear I heard a voice carried eerily on the wind – ‘THEREN! DON’T – TOUCHANYTHING!’ but I disregarded it in favour of the clearer message coming from my stomach.

There were some interesting spices on offer – salt, pepper, and some weird sparkly substance. I tipped some on the roast and it started to float. Yawn seemed quite agitated and took the sparkly substance away, claiming it wasn’t edible and shouldn’t be wasted. Well it tasted okay to me when I had some of the floaty roast but nothing ‘magical’ like Yawn claimed. Bah, how was I supposed to know it was special residuant… residual… resideeum or whatever? seriously who keeps that next to the salt shaker?

After my dinner I returned to the upper deck. A thick layer of mist had swept over the tree tops, and it looked just like a white, frothy ocean. It fair gave me the creeps. The mist was lapping silently against the ship, which creaked and groaned as it shifted in the treetops, no doubt blown by the wind. Given then thick cover and the dark night, however, I didn’t like Yawn’s chances in the crows nest of finding our way back. Turning my mind to more reassuring things, I decided to enter the captain’s room in search of treasure.

The room itself was rich enough. Everything was done up as pretty as you please in waxed wood and leather. There wasn’t an awful lot that was easily lootable however… and that’s saying something because when I put my mind to it, there are very few things I would class as ‘unlootable’. I did manage to obtain a spyglass, which looks much more cool useful than it does expensive, along with a captain’s hat with puffy feather that I think suits me very well indeed. There was a heavy compass on the desk that looked entirely useless, as the needle was spinning lazily around rather than pointing anywhere definite. It seemed to be made of precious metal though, but that was difficult to gauge in the gloom of the cabin. Feeling somewhat tired after all that plundering I decided to give the captain’s chair a little try out. It was just as comfortable as it looked. Snuggled into the plush, warm cushions, it was all I could do not to fall asleep on the spot, especially with the day’s activities that I had endured. Feeling secure, I decided that perhaps a small nap might be appropriate, after all I wanted to be sharp when I got back to Twisting Halls.

I swear I only closed my eyes for a second or two when Yawn came bursting into the room, shouting something through his beard that, in my ‘just woken up’ state, was indecipherable. What I did note, however, was that the boat was pitching and swaying so much I feared that it would topple out of the trees and smash to splinters on the ground below. In the lurching light, provided by Yawn, I realised that the top of the desk was engraved with a map – a treasure map! I hadn’t seen it before in the darkness – indeed, I had been resting my boots on it as I slept, and I would never have realised had not Yawn brought his light with him. There was no time to take down the details, however, as (much to my dismay) Yawn and I had to flee the ship.

Back on deck an eerie green fire licked at the rigging, running up and down the masts. All about us, the mist pitched and broke like a ghostly ocean, and I began to fear that the boat was trying to take us to the lands of the dead or some other, similarly fearsome place. I was convinced that we were on a cursed voyage, while Yawn argued that it was just a storm rolling in. Either way, we had to get off the ship fast. The anchor was mysteriously pulled in, and neither Yawn nor myself had any idea when or how that had happened. There was a real gale whipping up around us, so we both heaved the giant anchor and it’s heavy chain over the side of the ship. The chain went slack, indicating the anchor had hit the ground, so Yawn and I began to descend. We slung the lantern over Yawn’s back, and I sent him down the chain before me (if he fell, I didn’t want it to be onto my head).

Although the large metal links provided easy hand holds, it was no simple feat getting down. With all that wind rushing in every direction, it was only my hold on the chain that told me which way was down. I swear I was floating, as if swimming in water, and I could not breathe. I feared I was going to drown in mid air, but I knew that I had to get to the ground before I was swept away with the cursed ship. As soon as my feet touched solid ground, I felt much safer, and almost as though a fearsome force had passed over me, but only just. Yawn seemed to have made it down with little to no trouble at all, and as soon as we were both on solid ground we fled as fast as our feet would carry us, as we still worried that the whole ship might soon come crashing down.

Once we were some distance away, we could no longer see the ship, what with the mist, the dark, and the wind. I decided to move the compass from my belt to my pouch, and I noticed that it was pointing back the way we had come. I deduce from this that it must guide the user to the ship, but I cannot be certain until I put that theory to the test. If I ever managed to gather the courage to board the damned ship again, perhaps I could make note of the treasure map, but in truth I have never had such a fright put in me. Yawn saw my compass as I was checking on it, and the blasted dwarf only then recalled that he had the Minotaur dust with him. Honestly if only I had known that from the start then everything would have been so much simpler! We found an area with shelter from the wind (although the wind quickly died down after the danger was over) and took out a pinch of dust, placing it on Yawn’s hand. We watched carefully, and took note of the direction it was pulling, letting it guide us back to the halls, which were only about a five minute walk away, just over a small hill.

Yawn thinks that we must have blundered in a big loop back towards the halls before we found the ship, but my personal suspicion is that the ship was flying, and that we managed to escape only in the nick of time. Imagine if we had waited any longer! We might have been taken anywhere. Yawn and I are about to enter the halls to meet up with the others now, I wonder if the ship will still be there when we get out? Last I saw, the anchor was tangled up in some trees, but with such a fearsome wind at its tail, I have little doubt that the ship will win free eventually.

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