Thankfully, dear readers, I have struggled through the worst of the Shadowfell madness that I was subjected to – I think. For a time I couldn’t find the will to survive let alone to record my adventures, however all that has changed! Allow me to recap –
We ran to save the young elf girl who had so captured our concern. She was dangling above what appeared to be a nest of giant flesh eating maggots. DTIS surged forward to save the lady, sweeping Zephyr aside in order to do so (Zephyr refused to get out of the way). The wizard went flying, and with an ear flinching pop DTIS used his teleportation powers to swap places with the lass. Our relief lasted only a moment. With a sigh of relief her skin began to peel off her body. In the same way a cicada might peel away its outer shell to reveal a larger bug beneath the skin, so too did the elf lady peel her outer shell away revealing the vile Vilma. She revealed that she was the dark version of Vilma, and that she used this dimension as some kind of resort or getaway, before proceeding to invite disgusting amphibian-humanoids with thick powerful tails to attack us. Every time we struck them they would slap at us with their tails and knock us down, sending out waves of the mucky slime water.
I fear Zephyr had the worst of the battle, however, as Vilma (who was standing over his prone body) sent him into a magical slumber, and squirmed her way into his ear to infect his dreams with a nightmare of her own device. It was bad enough to share a mind link with him – I cannot imagine the horrors he himself faced.
It took us a great deal of time to get the upper hand in the battle, but as soon as Vilma disappeared from the fight we were able to whittle down her warty warriors. At that point I realised that even if we won this battle, it was likely we would die somewhere else in this dark hell hole. Obviously it was some mind trick of the Shadowfell, for I would never die here. A man of my calibre is destined for greater things than to die in the dark and the mud, amidst wheezing crones and treacherous wizards with no one to marvel at my prowess or mourn me as the greatest loss of the last ten generations (at least).
The others felt fit enough to explore Vilma’s Holiday Cabin – at the time I was too disheartened to want to pick through the hag’s inventory. They claim to have found three voodoo dolls of themselves that seem oddly alive, some money, as well as a vast cauldron of tea. They must have been up to some funny business in there, however, as the cauldron of tea exploded, taking the building with it and showering us with the foul concoction.
Such brews seem to be Vilma’s special-tea in more ways than one – we were left reeling (or maybe I should say we were unrealing) as the world around us warped and twisted in ways it hadn’t been doing before – difficult to achieve considering the Shadowfell’s penchant for being twisted. I had no idea if I was lying on the ground for a minute or an hour (I’m developing a theory of time where-in a minor form of time travel is tea-time, due to the discrepancies caused between perceived personal time and external time, but I shall need a new notepad to go into that) but eventually I got up and re-joined the other party members, who decided to press on. Luckily they were insistent, as I had little will to carry on, and if left to my own devices I would have sat in the mud until I was eaten by something, such was my disposition.
Zephyr had not recovered from the attacks Vilma made against his mind, and so was carried by DTIS to start with. We passed by what seemed to be the most extraordinary and unlikely sights while under the influence of the tea. I was in no mood to appreciate it, but in retrospect I have never seen anything quite so strange and marvellous – giant tortoises with stones balanced precariously on their back were eating at cabbages that rose from the ground. Where they bit into the cabbages, swarms of bugs would buzz out of the vegetables and attack fruitlessly at the giant creatures. Amoss was enthralled by the violent, hungry giants, and has since been acting the tortoise. He tried to balance Zephyr on his back but the wizard must have fallen off somewhere – it’s all a little hazy. I do recall that one of the rocks fell from the back of the tortoise and crushed my legs. The others helped me carry on – again – I owe them a debt of gratitude for their insistence.
Vilma, apparently not finished toying with us, hunted us down and took advantage of our sorry state. She offered us two grubs that she held like squalling babes to her chest. Infusing us with a lust to claim the babies as our own she set us upon one another. I recall that I hid myself tidily in a bush, and egged on by what I thought were words from my stalwart companion Polly, I targeted Bastion and attacked without mercy. As soon as he went down, we were released from the compulsions to attack. Horrified at what I had done I offered the healing draft that I had about my person to Bastion to make amends. I can’t help even now feeling the guilt of injuring a friend so recklessly.
Next on the agenda we travelled through a forest that was home to foul and filthy creatures called ewok. If you are wondering what an ewok is, they are grubby little poop-flinging drop-bears, with an ill-temper. Too cowardly to fight, they hung and flung dung from the tree tops. The next time I see them and I am NOT under the influence of tea, I will be making myself a coat of their furry hides. Amoss, ever an impressionable youngster, took up their cries, hoisted himself into the treetops & joined their ranks, flinging poop at our entire party. Whether he was flinging ewok poop or his own I honestly don’t know, but I copped a mouthful and I am not like to forgive and forget – AND after I sprung the funds for warhorse training for Concord from my own pocket. On that note I wonder how Good-For-Mince is going. I hope he has something to occupy his mind.
When Vilma showed up again no-one was surprised (well… Brad might have been) but Bastion was terrified when he found himself bound hand and foot while the rest of the party squared off against one another yet again. Thankfully the guilt I felt from the previous match left me the presence of mind to comfort Bastion and opt out of the fight, but that did not stop DTIS from attacking me. Luckily the others were drawn to him when I knocked him down (self-defence only, I did no damage to him myself) and they beat him bloody while he lay defenceless on the ground. This released us.
We bolted through a bog with relative ease – skeletons and shadows were jumping around everywhere buoyed up on bilious bubbles of bile. This leg of the journey seemed relatively quick to me, as soon we were in a glade listening to the susurrus of sanguine leaves that looked bloody familiar. Before we could examine further Vilma showed up again, demanding her pound of flesh. My eyes met Brad’s across the glade, and we moved in on Amoss. He must have sensed our intent, however, and in a flurry of blows he attacked, making capable use of the wounds I had received earlier to bring blood to the surface. Thankfully this was enough. Vilma awarded them their grub children gleefully and stood back to admire her work as the grub heads burst open to reveal the squalling faces of humans. I should have been appalled but there was something about the faces that triggered a thought or a memory. I watched, sickened, but with a strange sense of having forgotten something, as Brad and Amoss allowed the grubs to suckle blood from their bared breasts. It was only then that I realised what the faces were reminding me of – we had left Zephyr behind.
I was concerned, but Zephyr could take care of himself, and I was fascinated by the trees around me. Their leaves were just like my armour – which seemed to be coming alive with some sort of energy. Coming from a woodcutter background, and being an elf, of course I know the way of trees, much like Amoss knows the way of animals. Mimicking the trees I gained their acceptance and found an inner sanctum of treeness where a magnificent ancient central-tree brooded under a shadowy cloak. Moving towards the tree my armour began to borrow its power, leeching the darkness from the tree to increase its own power. It’s almost as though it still shares a sympathetic bond with the grove as I do with my companions and was relieved to be reunited, however briefly. At the base of the tree I also found a mark etched deeply in th bark with an arrow, and a small burrow containing ruined eggs with cores of gold inside. The last item that I discovered, and have kept for myself thus far, is an amulet meant for a necklace. It’s a twig with three thorns on it, and seems largely unremarkable. For now I’ve added it to the piece I’m using to secure my ship’s compass to my person, but it seems to have no value that I can discern – a trinket. Still this tree is a strange place to lose such an item. We shared out the golden eggs, and I ate some of the spoiled eggs to win one of Amoss’ gold nuggets as well. The rotten eggs were surprisingly disgusting – I would advise caution when sampling these culinary delights as they are not for the uninitiated pallet, and are certainly what one would call an acquired taste. I look forwards to not ever acquiring it.
Finally Zephyr caught up as I knew he must. He took immediate offence at the grub children, claiming wildly that they had his face, and had come from Vilma, making them rape children. I think no one has ever sat down and explained to zephyr the birds and the bees, and most importantly the moths and their life cycle which most certainly does not BEGIN with a larval form. Still when he started attacking and attempting to kill the ‘babies’ no one was particularly surprised at the betrayal (well… Brad might have been). I tried to stop him, DTIS tried to stop him, even Vilma tried to stop him, but eventually he exploded Brad’s grub in a messy waste of human-grub life. Amoss’ grub survived as it was shielded when Amoss slunk away from the action, knowing what Zephyr is like sometimes. I had to stop here & I asked Zephyr to promise to never again attack a member of our own party. Thankfully he saw the error of his ways and made a sacred oath that he would never again attempt to mentally or physically harm another member of the party or steal their gear. I call this Zephyr’s Promise, and I really think it’ll keep!
We pointed out the mark on the tree, but Zephyr was not interested in telling us anything as he was sulking, so we set out in the direction indicated, hoping for a city that communally we decided must exist. We took a route that ran along the shore of a vast fresh-water (if I can use the term seriously – in this case let’s just say salt was the least of this lake’s worries) lake. Once we had become one with the insects by ingesting them in much the same way as a whale might incidentally ingest krill we were still no closer to finding Zephyr’s dad. Gradually Amoss’s grub stopped suckling and moved to sit on Amoss’ head. It began to harden until finally it became some sort of living, glaring helmet with eyes-on-stalk horns and all. This sent Zephyr further into his sulk as he said the hat was evil when he tried to talk to it, claiming it was telling Amoss to ‘kill your friends’. Honestly the things Zephyr will make up just to get his own way.
Just when I was starting to think that we should just leave the Shadowfell altogether we came across a pier and a sleeping Kenku on a ferry. The ferry promised a faster passage to the city, so we approached cautiously. I decided to scout stealthily – my armour seemed to tap into its shadowy powers, hiding me entirely from sight, a trick I must remember. I primed the ferryman to look upon us kindly as a group of benevolent heroes before allowing my companions to make their approach. Everything has been set up.
There must have been a terrible misunderstanding somewhere along the line. The Ferryman really didn’t appreciate our haggling, and we didn’t appreciate him taking the ferry out into the water without us, so we boarded it forcefully – just to explain ourselves of course. The Ferryman fled, leaving us his boat. We left him a handsome sum, considering the trouble he had put us through.
After a bit of struggling Brad took over the poling of the boat and we practically left a trail a foaming wake, such was our speed. In the meantime Zephyr had gone from sulking quiet to kind of constipated-quiet, as he was performing some complex ritual over the raft. I think at one point he was cooing about shapely tiller and woody appendages, but maybe that was my imagination. In any case he quickly came to and went back to sulking.
Relatively quickly we reached an impressive looking black wall, complete with huge heavy gate. There were guards on top that seemed boisterous and cheerful, but before we could hail them the water boiled, churned, and spat out a monstrous tentacle that swooped in and grabbed up Amoss, dragging him down into a gaping maw. Shocked and tired it took us too long to react. We had to save him, of course, but knowing Amoss he was probably perfectly at ease. In any case we battered at tentacles, and urged the raft towards shore, realising that if the monster closed in on the gates that the guards would be forced to fight for our cause. Thankfully this all seemed to work out smoothly… smoothly except for the hag. As soon as the guards opened the gate for us she flew from the water like a cork from a bottle, trying to gain entry to the city. Duly the gates were closed in our faces, trapping us outside with the hag and the tentacle monster. After THAT however, everything went smoothly, kind of. The monstrous urtiog was soon ready to flee, but with a swiftness distilled from desperation we managed to get in the last few attacks to kill the beast. Amoss floated up to the surface with what looked like a trunk on his face, and the hag generally made a nuisance of herself.
I dived in, rope attached, to retrieve Amoss, bravely fending off the attacks of the hag while Brad and DTIS helped to haul me in through the muck. Zephyr ‘helped’ by trying to steal Amoss’ helmet in order to destroy it, breaking his promise several hours after making it, but luckily his plans were thwarted. The Hag was badly injured and made to escape, however DTIS used his teleportation powers to bring her out onto dry land, where the insects that we’d been happily ingesting in various ways for the past few hours swarmed around her wounds and made a meal of her. Disgusting. I can’t wait to leave this place.
Well the guards were not at all friendly, or indeed boisterous. They extorted a large entry fee from us which left Zephyr gasping for breath as his outrage caused him a mild tantrum where he cried for the guards to sling him in prison to get away from us. Ultimately he couldn’t leave, however, because of that thing. On the note of that thing I think Brad has it too now, at least a little bit. Anyway a band of mercenaries forced themselves upon us. I did
not want to pay more for a bunch of hired muscle. At least with them around people will underestimate our awesome power, so I deigned to keep them around even though they’re always on and on in our ear ‘hey listen!’ with bits of idle gossip that they think is of vital importance. I think Brad and Bastion wandered off at some point but I couldn’t honestly be certain, as there was just so much going on! We finally had a chance to look at all the amazing things – the city itself seems to be built out of stone bodies that are mashed grotesquely together, and it can shape and change itself without warning. We noticed gargoyles that watch teh streets from the tops of buildings, and seem to be alive. There are mysterious beings that control the movement of the city called ‘keepers’ that it is possible to gain favour with or to fall out of favour of course. The citizens of this city seem to be all kind of people – as long as they are also the dregs of society. I think that there was not a single person that didn’t try to rip us off. We saved some people from a urbsforming building, saw a city-gollum formed and unformed (eventually), ran into a lady who got us to hold onto an opal while she was frisked by the guards & then took it back again (but not before someone tried to steal it), and completely negated some sort of brawl to be with a guard (he now thinks his girlfriend has urtiog warts).
Finally after a tiring day we had to go and find Bastion and Brad before we could knock off. Apparently they had managed to find a shady club called the murky hole… it was pretty much as the name implies. We entered through a giant mouth down a tongue ramp (much to the disgust of our hired muscle).
Slobber was the least of our worries when we hit the ground floor – I won’t describe in too great a detail what was going on in there, except to say my ol’ mum would have a thing or two to say to those people, and there would be crossed arms, shaking head, and the tapping of the feets involved. Probably soap as well. I would say that she’d tan their hides, but you shouldn’t reward bad behaviour. The air was so humid you could almost see the bass line (I should mention that it was all drums & bass) and the walls and floor were dreadfully organic. Dancing in one cage, and centre of a vast group of admirers, was Brad. In the other cage, slightly less admired, was Bastion. Brad’s celebrity status assured us a more comfortable place in the company of the club patrons, but I really don’t know if that was a good or a bad thing, with everything considered. Amoss became roaringly drunk off some sort of oozing secretion at the centre of the club, while DTIS did his best to ignore the surroundings and clean some teeth with a hitherto unseen broom attachment. I was halfway through dragging Amoss away from the booze when I was approached by a mysterious broad. I think she took a shine to me, but I played it cool, because chicks dig a smooth dude. I don’t usually flatter women with my attentions because my natural magnetism draws so many down on me, and it can be a bit of a chore spurning them all, and dealing with jealous lovers and all that biz, but I could sense she was different – maybe I could feel her deep, poetic soul resonating with my own. I guess I’ll never know though because before I could make a real connection Bastion ran in and chased her off like a novice, claiming she was a vampire (of all the stupid excuses).
Well anyway I will take a break here as Zephyr looks like he is going to try and take Amoss’s helmet again, and someone needs to step in.