I have an assignment! The grey beards are sending me on the mission to investigate strange lights on the island of Jlnoir. I’m excited, but leery. The necromantic history of the place would give anyone pause. I can’t believe it’s been two decades since the fort there was overrun by Sir Malasteon his half-dead army. It seems like yesterday.
I know the grey beards blame the nobles for debating and arguing while attacks started happening up and down the coast, decimating fishing villages and farms. Like they don’t like to argue at all… Anyway, we may have won, but it cost us dearly. I hope whatever is happening on the island now is unrelated.
I met my companions for the trip out to the island. Geldion, a cleric of Pelor, and Robi, a paladin of Heironeous, look like sturdy lads. A trifle young, and very straight-laced and holy perhaps, but at least they look like solid fighters. Time will tell. Robi seems eager for the chance to explore the place where his father met his death in battle. Antinua and I have spent a little time together and I’m impressed by her stories. And I know she’s your friend, Dad, so that’s good enough for me.
I have no doubt why I’m on this journey. I’ve been a thorn in the side of the grey beards at the tower since I arrived. Not that I try to be, Boccob knows. I’m just not their “type.” Not bookish enough, not sedate enough, not boring enough. And I suspect my wildness turns them on a little and they hate that. Not to mention that they are convinced I’m crazy because I don’t wish to spend my life behind stone walls. Anyway, I’m eager to get away from the buildings and into the woods for a while.
I was so glad I skipped breakfast! The boat ride was cold, wet and uncomfortable, but at least I had nothing to lose over the side like Robbi did. The captain said his orders were to drop us off and wait for us ‘til nightfall. We were to investigate what’s taken up residence in the keep to the north. Looks like we’re in for a hike. Hazzah!
Despite the cold drizzle, or perhaps because of it, the countryside was lovely. Ah, the smell of fresh wet pine. But our walk was marred when we spotted Kobolds to the south of us.
The little blighters carried slings and cracked Robi a good one with a rock. Robi though, sent a javelin flying and skewered one of the vermin in the chest. Well done Robi! Geldion cast some sort of shield on Robi and Antinua tried to put an arrow in one of the kobolds but slipped in the mud. I missed with a sling bullet, but didn’t want to waste any spells on these measly little guys. I found a spot behind a tree and let the big boys play.
Robi winged another one with his second javelin. I missed with my sling and then got cracked in the head with a rock. I was getting ready to blast the thing that hit me with a magic missile when the kobolds start yelling about bones. Given the history of this place, I guessed they meant skeletons were on the way. Oh crap!
By Boccob Balls the things were creepy! Bones should not be walking! The Kobolds were terrified, and I could see why. Two skeletons used their scimitars to rend a kobold into three pieces. Good riddance, but holy shit! The other kobolds tried to run, but the ones that were injured could not get away in time.
One skeleton chased after an injured kobold, but three of them came at us. I stayed in the back, but moved up close enough to try a spell on them. Two closed on Antinua and one on Robi. I didn’t like our chances until Geldion pulled out his holy symbol and spouted some prayer to Pelor. Wow did Pelor answer! Three of the skeletons turned to dust right before our eyes! Amazing! Even Geldion seemed shocked by his success. I need to ask these guys just how many adventures they’ve been on in the past, or, maybe I don’t want to know. I’d hate to think I was out here with nubes.
Still, we had one more skeleton to deal with. It was busy cutting a kobold to ribbons. Antinua shot it with an arrow breaking a couple ribs. I hit it with my Disrupt Undead spell but did less damage than I had hoped. It seemed a poor showing after Geldion’s turn. I’ll do better next time. Robi finished it off with his sword.
We couldn’t really tell how old these bones were. I shudder to think that someone was raising the bones of the fighters who lost their lives, like Robi’s father, fighting against the previous undead scourge. How ironic to become the thing that you fought so hard against. I took a look at the skeleton’s gear. It’s old, but maintained. Odd. Who would be cleaning and repairing gear for undead? Why bother when you can just raise more undead? I would have liked to investigate where they came from, which seemed to be to the west, but our objective was north. We moved on.
The walk was refreshing, though the lump on my forehead stung and throbbed a bit. As we passed a small pond, I sensed more than saw something large moving toward us on the far side. Damn the fog and rain. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I warned the others. At the same time, Antinua, with her eagle eyes, got a glimpse of what we thought was the keep to the north. Well, we knew where to go if we survived whatever new danger was heading for us.
To the honorable High Magus Vikstorm,
The findings of our expedition are dire in the extreme. A magic user, or magic users, of extraordinary power are currently creating an army of undead but two hours from our shore on Jolnir. I urge swift and decisive action to destroy this threat before it grows yet more powerful or attacks our cities.
As directed, on Oathday, 26th of Winterwane, 1267 I journeyed with a cleric of Pelor, a paladin of Hieroneous and an Elven ranger to investigate the fort on Jolnir. Capt. Solberg Berentsson was efficient and swift in getting us to the island despite the high seas. Because of the rough coast to the north, we disembarked on the southeast side of the island and made our way inland to reach the fort.
We soon encountered a handful of kobolds, and were in the process of dispatching them when set upon by a group of four skeletons. The cleric Geldion was instrumental, turning 3 to dust, allowing us to destroy the fourth. His magic is compelling, powerful. Alas it is not his own but his gods. Still, it must be an amazing feeling to channel that much divinity. I’m sorry to say, my Disrupt Undead spell was ineffectual. I hope to find a way to practice this art, though that may be difficult without an undead subject.
We could not determine the age of the skeletons, but ascertained that their equipment is being kept in good repair. Which begs the question, by whom? The skeletons had come from the west, not the north, but as we later learned, groups of four undead patrol the island regularly.
In the center of the island we encountered a bugbear zombie. Judging from the purification, it died quite some time ago. It was a foul, disgusting creature that we destroyed, but not without considerable injury to our ranger and paladin—and this from a creature using only its fists. I’m loathed to imagine what would have happened had it been armed with swords as the skeletons were. Antinua’s sword and Geldion’s mace cut the thing down. Our cleric was again instrumental in restoring our companions. His magic in impressive.
We continued on toward the fort, but soon caught sight of another patrol of four skeletons. These were dragging the dead Kobolds from our first encounter toward the fort. Whether the kobolds were destined to be food for some unknown creature are were to be raised as yet more soldiers I can’t say. But it seems clear whoever is responsible is denuding the island of its inhabitants.
As we had yet to achieve our goal of surveying the fort, and time was running short, we decided not to engage the new skeletal patrol but followed it to the clearing before the structure.
Whoever is occupying the fort has not put any resources into repairing the walls. We could clearly see the destruction wrought by the attack so long ago. Which at least means the walls could be easily breached. Much of the equipment used for the attack, trebuchet, catapults, remain moldering where they were abandoned but none appeared to be in usable condition. The gate stood open and it is unclear if it is currently capable of being closed. The walls, where not destroyed, were guarded by skeletons and kobold zombies. This is perhaps where the newly slain kobolds are destined.
Most disturbingly, our paladin spotted a dark robed figure that seemed to be human, in the courtyard. It appeared to be assessing a large, skeletal, winged creature that was flapping its bare boned wings trying to take flight. What new horror could this be? Is there some magic that would allow such a creature to fly? If this necromancer or dark cleric has discovered such a thing, our situation is more dire than I can imagine.
As we were surveying the fort, we spotted yet another group of four skeletons patrolling to the east. As we were short on time, we did not learn the exact timing or routes of the patrols, but we believe there were at least five patrols active at the time. How many more undead yet lurk behind the fort walls? And, how much power does it take to control so many undead at one time? That feat alone is astonishing, and terrifying.
Fearing detection, and out of time, we made our way back toward the rendezvous point. We discovered another patrol between ourselves and the boat and engaged them. My burning hands spell and the paladin’s sword did some damage, but it was the cleric again who won the day, blasting them all to dust with a prayer to Pelor.
We took to the boat with all haste, spotting yet more undead on the way. Some large undead creature hurled a spear that cracked our hull, and with the storm moving in, it was a harrowing trip back with our valuable trove of information. Capt. Berentsson relayed that he and his men had seen two patrols of skeletons as they waited for us. He was brave to remain until our return. There’s no way to know if these were the same that we encountered or yet more skeletons.
Our recommendation would be to send as large a force as possible and as soon as possible to destroy this menace. Certainly the proliferation of undead in the same location as last time cannot be a coincidence. It must be determined if there is something about this island or something in the fort that is aiding the strength of whatever dark magic users are inhabiting it. Whatever force is sent should, from my observations, include as many clerics as possible. Geldion was by far the most effective member of our party against this particular threat.
I felt my own contributions were limited. I would like to have done more, and I urge you again to allow me to complete the ritual to gain a familiar. A raven would have allowed me to survey the fort from above and give you a more complete picture of the forces arrayed against us. I fail to understand why I have been denied my request except sheer cussedness and pigheadedness.
I want to commend my companions for their valor and skill on a much more difficult mission than any of us had imagined. I am available anytime to answer questions or elaborate on my statement and I await your orders.
Your dutiful initiate,
I’m beginning to agree with you on boat travel. It sucks. But in this case it was better than the alternative.
The boat trip back home from Jolnir looked pretty dire. I wasn’t sure we were going to make it, and from the captain’s expression, neither was he. The crack in the hull from the spear kept getting worse. We were taking on water and wallowing in the storm.
Antinua and I bailed until our backs ached. Robi and Geldion rowed until their backs ached too. But it wasn’t helping. I suggested my companions might want to take off their armor, just in case…
Finally the capt gave it up and said we’d have to head for a small island to do some repairs or go under. From the look that passed between the sailors I wasn’t sure which was worse. When I asked the capt, he told us that the island is infested with lizards. Lots of them, with very sharp teeth. My companions and I would have to defend the boat and crew while they worked on the repairs. I figured, well, at least they’re not undead lizards.
We jumped out as they ran the boat up the shore. They tilted the boat over and got to work on patching the spear hole as fast as they could. We gathered some wood for a fire to keep the creatures at bay, but the meager amount of driftwood we could find wouldn’t last long.
Robi and Geldion looked over the spear that almost proved our undoing. It appears quite large and very well crafted. Robi decided to add it to his arsenal.
Our presence on the island did not go long unnoticed.
Dad, I don’t know if you’re familiar with these frost lizards, but they’re horrible creatures. They are not particularly large, but they are ravenous. They seem willing to attack and eat anything made of flesh, even each other. I can’t imagine how the little cannibals reach adulthood on the island. But they do seem to be good swimmers, perhaps the young ones stay off shore. There is certainly not much to eat on the island, except perhaps an occasional maroon like us.
My companions and I took up a defensive positions as the lizards began to mass around us. I started slinging bullets at them but couldn’t seem to hit the damn things. I know, I know, I need more practice. Robi pinned one to the earth with a javelin. That’s when I noticed that the ones next to it attacked the dying lizard and not us. Perhaps their ravenous natures would be our salvation.
The things moved in to attack and my companions went into action, slicing and dicing the creatures. I tried taking out a couple with some acid, but with the rain it wasn’t as effective as I had hoped. I had few other choices since I was out of spells and kept missing with my sling. Robi, next to me, cut up another lizard, and seeing how happily these lizards would chow down on their companions, I started throwing the bodies out to the watching lizards. As long as they were eating, they left us alone.
So we developed a strategy, kill any that get close, throw the bodies out to feed their friends. Soon Robi and Geldion turned it into a challenge to see who could kill more. I think they were enjoying themselves.
Antinua spotted a skeleton not far off, and I was just relieved it wasn’t walking. She and Geldion checked it out. We’re guessing it was someone who got stranded on the island like us. Antinua found some money, a ring, and a dagger.
I got a new shiny dagger, Dad! Well, it will be shiny once I do some work on it. Best part, it’s magical. It lights up like a torch when you say “blaze.”
Well, after another hour or so the repairs were done. I’m not sure who won the lizard killing contest, but I suspect it was Geldion. I was rooting for Robi since Geldion got to show off on Jolnir. We piled back in the boat and headed for home.
I can’t tell you how our hearts rose when we saw the lights of Reykholdt ahead in the darkness. But a sense of dread followed. I wasn’t looking forward to delivering the news.
Geldion and Robi headed off to their temples to break the news and Antinua to the inn for some well-deserved (and much coveted) rest. I headed to the tower to wake the Mage from his slumber and tell him the world is ending. Oh, joy.
Well, the mage took the news better than expected—after drubbing me down for waking him. When I finally got it through his groggy brain what was happening, he seemed shaken to his core. He called up the head council immediately and I had to tell the whole story a dozen more times before he finally gave me a condescending pat and told me to go get some rest like a good girl. Infuriating! It’s in their hands now. But at least they’ve agreed to let me call a familiar. I’m so excited!
It’s a boy!
A boy raven that is. He’s so beautiful! He’s black as night, so I call him Quenya. I’ve already started teaching him Elvish. I know Draconic is more traditional, but few of the head mages speak Elvish so Quenya and I will be able to speak in front of them without them understanding. Ha! That makes me much happier than it should.
The bond between familiar and wizard runs deep, Dad. I can already feel Quenya grafted to my soul. He’s so wonderful and dear. A bit of wildness in my world of stone and books.
It’s been a few days, Dad. I’ve been training hard and studying hard. Our first mission has shown me my weaknesses and I mean to amend them. I will be useful! I’ve learned two new spells that have me all a flutter. The first is Enlarge Person. It makes one person a size larger with all the requisite advantages. If I go on another adventure with my previous companions I imagine Robi and Geldion will fight over that one! The other is Summon Monster. I can’t wait to put it into action in the field.
We have a new mission!
It seems the temple of Heironeous sent an acolyte and some militia men to a fishing village to the north to consecrate a shrine to their god. I’m not sure what the point of that was in the middle of a crisis, but you know these religious types. They insist on these symbolic gestures when there’s real work to be done. Anyway, the group hasn’t returned. We’ve been asked to investigate, and since the bigwigs are still laying plans and gather forces for the assault on Jolnir, I agreed to go.
I wonder, could the necromancers have landed undead on the mainland already? Is the battle perhaps coming to us? I hope not, but we need to find out. And I suppose that at least that way we wouldn’t need to get back in the godsdamned boat.
We’ll have a good breakfast in the morning and head out the north gate. More soon. (If I’m still alive. :)
There were a few moments when I had my doubts. And nope, not undead this time, Goblins.
We headed northeast out of town this morning. I have to admit, I wasn’t paying much attention since I was talking with Quenya as I taught him Elvish. He’s just the sweetest, smartest, funniest bird ever! Though I think I might be spoiling him with all the treats. Too many more and he won’t be able to get off my shoulder.
Anyway, about a half hour out we see a partially covered merchants’ wagon hurrying toward us. They wave for attention, and when they rein in next to us, they tell us one of their daughters took an arrow. Geldion and Robi, of course, rushed to the aid of the 14 year old girl. It truly is amazing how their God is ready to help at a moment’s notice. Boccob always seems like he has better things to do than listen to me. But anyway, the other driver tells me that the girl was shot by goblins just north of our position. Uh oh.
Geldion makes a professional assessment that her problem seems to be that she was shot with an arrow. Duh! These guys, I tell ya. They remove the arrow and heal her up. The folks are overcome with gratitude. Especially after Antinua notices a pin missing in their wheel. Good spotting Antinua! They might have had yet more problems.
As they fix the wheel, I haltingly explained to Quenya what a goblin is- 2 legged like me, but the color of the leaves, and (I hold my hand waist high) up to here. He seems to get it and I send him out to see if he can spot any ahead of us.
Meanwhile, the little brother of the hurt girl looks at Robi all starry eyed with his shiny armor, and Robi starts indoctrinating the poor kid. Jeesh! Like Heironeous needs another meat shield. On the bright side, the father offered us a bottle of fine whisky. I mentioned to Robi that it might be cold tonight, just hinting. And low and behold, he took the bottle! Yay! Can’t wait for a sip, or two…
I asked about the acolyte that we’re supposed to be locating. The girl’s mother told me the temple held the christening, so the acolyte must have made it there. Hopefully he’s just sleeping off the after effects of the celebration or something innocuous like that. They agree to stop at the temple and report that the acolyte made it there and the ceremony happened. Check, that much done.
Antinua seemed to think that the arrow was familiar, but she couldn’t place where she’d seen it at first. As we continued on our way she remembered it was from the Rot Teeth Clan who isn’t usually this far north. Are you familiar with them, Dad? Antinua told us they usually have a shaman and are more violent than normal goblins. Oh great.
Quenya came back quickly. He was only gone for a little while, but I felt almost bereft without him on my shoulder. He reported no goblins, but it didn’t seem like he could have gone far. I asked him to tell me when we get to where he turned around. When he did I sent him out again.
Quenya came back and said he saw a goblin by the path, and near the trees. Dad, you wouldn’t have liked the spot at all. A natural place for an ambush with escarpments on both sides of the road. We headed off the road and up one escarpment to reconnoiter.
I sent Quenya up to look around for others. The assholes tried to shoot him! My heart nearly stopped when two arrows flew past my boy! They must die!
We debated about strategy. Do we go on, and let them kill more people, or do we risk taking them out. We do have a mission, but damn, how can we let them kill and eat children?
You know, Dad, I think more than anything, what our group lacks so far, is not skill or strength, (though we do desperately need to work on our strategy,) but what we need most is confidence. I suppose that will come with time and experience – if we live that long. Antinua wanted to move on, Robi was torn between priorities, Geldion just wanted to follow Robi, so in the end, I pushed us toward taking the little bastards out. I was pissed at them for trying to kill Quenya, and, to be honest, I didn’t think all that much about the danger, I just really wanted to use my new Enlarge Person spell.
We moved south and around to the east to come up behind them. I had hoped we could get close and take some of them out while they were sleeping, but stealth is not at all our strong suit. I need to remember that. Antinua and Robi tried to sneak up, Geldion and I hung back since we were so noisy. Well, you know how it is Dad, a plan is great, until it isn’t.
Geldion and I moved up when we saw two gobs coming to investigate. Antinua plugged one and I cast Daze on the other, but we were too late. They yelled and roused the others. There were nine of them altogether against the four of us. Still, they’re only little guys.
One plugged me with a javelin. Oww! At least I knew I could count on my friends to patch me up again. And it pissed me off further. Robi, hero that he is, stood in front of me, to protect me. Guess I’ll need to talk to him about that whole line-of-sight thing. He threw a spear, but missed. One of the gobs took a potion and grew larger. Of course, that only made him Robi’s size. I laughed at their puny magic. As Antinua plugged two, killing one, I cast Enlarge Person on Robi.
Oh my God, Dad! It was amazing to watch Robi suddenly grow and swell to 12 feet tall, breaking branches and gleaming in his armor. Even more amazing to know I had done that, me and my magic! I actually cackled with glee! And I wish you could have seen the face of the gob in front of us! I didn’t know a gob’s eyes could get that big! I laughed even harder. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to cast more spells I was laughing so hard.
Luckily, Geldion hit and killed the biggest gob after casting bless on us. Robi hit another one with his giant sword, slicing him to ribbons.
Well the gobs were all focused on Robi at that point, I can tell you that! He was a little hard to miss. One tried to shoot him but missed. Robi got plugged with another javelin.
Then the Shaman appeared right next to me spraying us with Burning Hands. Robi and I dodged out of the way, but still got a bit crispy. Geldion took the full force of the flames. I hate to say this Dad, but it smelled a little like pork. Not sure which of us that was.
Antinua hit the shaman with her Morningstar, but he didn’t go down.
Oh man, Dad, I was so pissed at that little shit shaman I don’t think I was seeing straight. I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good Burning Hands on just one guy, but by Boccob I was going to show him what real magic looked like. So, I ask Robi if could take out the shaman. When he says yes, I step up to a whole group of the little blighters and burn the crap out of them. I killed one, staggered one, and watched the other smolder. Geldion, probably worried for my sanity jumping in front of about 5 gobs, stepped up next to me and knocked down the one that was smoldering, putting it out of its misery.
Robi swung at the shaman, smiting him and cutting him apart. Surprisingly, his teeth weren’t quite as rotted as the others in the Rotten Teeth Gang. Go figure.
One misguided little gob stepped up and swung at Geldion, but the blow was easily parried. The others seemed to realize they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in the nine hells. Two remaining ones attempt to run. Antinua shot, but missed one of the fleeing gobs.
I step back into Robi’s shadow and threw a dagger into the chest of the one in front of me. He was barely on his feet, but staggered away. Geldion pulled his crossbow but missed the gob running. Robi ran up, shaking the ground with each step, and lobbed a javelin at one of the fleeing gobs. He hit, plugging the gob in the back. Another one turned to run and Robi, with those giant arms, got in an attack, sticking him in the shoulder and lifting him off the ground.
Antinua swung at the last one with her morningstar and he slumped to the ground dead. I got my dagger back. Thank Baccob.
Antinua and I tracked the one that ran off. He was badly injured and didn’t get far. We traced him to a tree where he was trying to dig underneath. I almost felt sorry for the little guy as Antinua and I stabbed at him until we finished him off.
We headed back to the battle site. Geldion and Robi healed us up and we took a well-deserved break. I have to tell you, Dad. I got pretty hurt in that fight. I was a little shaky on my legs, but I was just so angry at those little gobs it hardly mattered. Guess I need to work on my anger issues. But I used almost all my spells. Hope we don’t run into too much more on the road!
I’ll write more as time allows. Love you Dad,
Sunday, 1st of Rainmoot, 1967
Progress Report to High Magus Rurik Vikstrom of the Council of Fortitude
High Magus Rurik Vikstrom,
As per my last report, our team cleared the road of the goblin menace at some considerable risk to ourselves. I have assumed that what we recover from these encounters will be ours to dispose of as we deem fit, but, for the record, we discovered a few small gems, and some coins, mostly copper. We also found a potion that I have, as yet, been unable to identify. I hope to have your aid with that when I return.
The weather was wet and changeable as we moved on. I spent my time on the road teaching and bonding with my raven companion. An encounter with some fishermen leading donkeys led to discussion with Quenya as to the difference between a horse and a donkey. The distinction is a fine one, and in Quenya’s eyes, inconsequential. The discussion continues. I did discover he likes dried fish.
We reached the Thorpe just at sundown. In doing so, we passed the renovated lighthouse and shrine. The updates seem well crafted, and probably overdue. But the shrine is quite small. I’m not sure I see the point in the christening to-do, but these religious types do love their ceremonies. I suppose it gives them good press. Perhaps the Wizard’s Tower could use a few ceremonies.
The acolyte, Geir that we were sent to locate, was not at the shrine. Robi knew the lad’s parents so we headed to their home to discover his whereabouts. I suspected the worst. In my experience, religious young men are usually so enthusiastic in following orders, that it seemed likely something dire must have happened to keep him from obeying.
So I was surprised and taken aback when the acolyte’s parents greeted us cheerfully and told us Geir was visiting with his aunt. I was also more than a little angry. I know little of the discipline and order kept at the temple of Heironeous, but the Wizard’s Tower would never abide by such a blatant dereliction of duty. And with war against the undead looming at our doorstep, possibly only days away, it was ridiculous to be sending four good fighters after a boy who merely shirked his responsibilities.
Still, Robi and Geldion were intent on being polite for some reason, so we drank tea and chatted. And, I’ll admit, I take it as sport to make my religious comrades blush in front of strangers with a dropped word or hint. Though it is often too easy a game.
After a drink and the socially appropriate chatting, we headed through the dark to the aunt’s house to collect Geir.
That’s where things grew very strange indeed.
The house was closed up and seemed somehow ominous. As we paused outside, Antinua spotted an arm protruding from under some dirt and straw. We drew weapons and prepared for the worst. My mind flew immediately to the island, but I couldn’t imagine why the undead would be hiding bodies.
Robi investigated and found the bodies of the two initiates who had traveled with Geir for the christening. It appeared they were bludgeoned to death. He also found Geir’s holy symbol caked with flesh and burned, as well as the mace his parents had given him-things Geir never would have parted with willingly. A chill ran over me as we prepared to enter the house. After our encounter with the goblins I had barely a few spells left, but would do what I could to help.
Antinua is surprisingly strong for her slight frame. She kicked the door open and we rushed inside. Evidence of a battle confronted us-broken furniture, blood stains. It was good to know the initiates at least put up a fight.
Robi swept aside a curtain and behind it we discovered 3 foul little beasts. Despite my year of studying at the tower I had no idea what these creatures were. Robi seemed certain they were not of this world. I shall need to spend more time in the library researching extraplaner creatures.
Perhaps you can identify them. They are 4ft tall and weigh in at about 60 pounds. They are squat and blubbery with pale, thick hide and a slack mouth full of small, pointy fangs. And they smell of sulfur. Robi said they were speaking the language of the abyss inside his head as he closed to attack.
Robi and one of the creatures where trading blows when I noticed that the pouch Robi had stored Geir’s holy symbol in was glowing. He pulled out the holy symbol and the creatures went wild. Robi swung at a creature with the holy symbol and it tore and burned at the creature’s flesh. It screeched in pain.
Antinua ran over with her sword and sliced one in half, quite literally. The creature corroded away into gore and noxious fumes making our eyes water.
After that, my companions’ weapons didn’t seem to do much to the creatures. Only the holy symbol seemed to really damage them. How fortunate that Heironeous’ symbol is a lightning bolt. It made an effective weapon. And the power of the symbol was most intriguing. Does the power come from something in the metal of the symbol, from Heironeous himself, or from the faith of the wielder? I would love to do more investigating. I think an interesting experiment could be set up.
My companions had the creatures bunched in a small hallway were we could not fight them effectively. I couldn’t even get close to help. We do need to work on our strategy. Robi keeps trying to step in front of everyone to protect them, thereby rendering them less effective, and Antinua, as a ranger, is just used to fighting alone. We all need to work on our teamwork.
Antinua was mauled badly by one of the creatures, but with the help of the holy symbol we got the job done and killed them all. The last one finally fizzled away into ooze. All seemed quiet, though I heard Quenya cawing his concern for me from outside.
As Geldion and Robi healed Antinua, I checked out the only other room on this floor. It was a rudimentary lab for a local wise woman. There were lots of interesting books on potion and concoctions, and unusual components. I hoped Geir’s aunt was still alive so I could speak with her. She had amassed an interesting collection. And I wished I had time to look more closely. The lab too had been wrecked, but whether the intruders were looking for something, fighting, or just being destructive I couldn’t tell. I also couldn’t tell how long ago the destruction had happened.
It occurred to me that the creatures who bludgeoned the initiates to death were probably not the same creatures my companions fought, since those attacked with bites and claws. We have yet to meet whatever or whoever killed those poor boys.
Perhaps they are beyond this trap door. I wish I had more spells left.
More reports to follow, if I live. Your humble initiate,
Moonday, 2nd of Rainmoot, 1267
It’s the next morning and I’m still shaken to my core. But at least we’re all still alive. Except Geir’s aunt, that is.
I told you about our fight with the disgusting creatures in the wise woman’s house. Robi felt some powerful evil radiating out of a trapdoor in the floor. Well, we stared at that door for a long time, trying to decide what to do, or perhaps trying to get up the nerve to do something, anything. But I’m getting ahead of myself, again.
As we were debating, Antinua and I searched through Aunt Iduna’s lab. We found some very useful stuff. Antinua found some bracers that look old and well used. I found some prayer books to Pelor and Heironeous that I gave to the lads. Geldion even found a spell in his that he thought might be able to send whatever evil creature was down the trapdoor back to the literal hell that it came from. There was a healing salve and an oil that makes weapons magically more powerful. I found a spell scroll with a Launch Bolt spell (so excited to try that) and low and behold, a wand! I said the word on the wand and a sonic blast took out the window in front of me. Good thing I hadn’t pointed it at one of my friends.
Around that time, Quenya started shouting that there was a man outside. We readied ourselves for battle. But we needn’t have worried. Aunt Iduna’s neighbor, an old farmer decked out disintegrating armor, bravely stuck his head in the door. It was rather touching really. He’d heard the noise and come to defend Iduna. I’m pretty sure the old coot was sweet on her. I do feel sorry for his loss. But once again I’m getting ahead of myself.
He told us an old man in robes had come to the house a few days ago. Not terribly helpful, but better than nothing. The neighbor didn’t look at all useful in a fight so we sent him to town to rouse whoever would come to our aid.
We discussed getting some sleep before we took on whatever was below, but we didn’t know if Geir or Aunt Iduna were still alive. If they were, they needed our help, now.
As we debated strategy, Antinua heard something cackling below in response to our words. Well, the jig was up. Whatever was down there would be ready for us. Robi bravely lifted the trapdoor and took a look but could see nothing but a hallway.
We decided there was nothing for it but a frontal assault.
Robi went first, Antinua followed, then Geldion, then me. I have to tell you, Dad, I was clutching that wand pretty hard and hoping I hadn’t wasted the only blast the wand had left on a window! We’d seen what the creature below could do to a pair of initiates.
The room was dank and unnaturally dark, despite our torch. Across the room, I saw Geir lying on the floor in what looked like a summoning circle. He seemed barely alive. Next to him, his aunt sat calmly in a chair, waiting for us.
Or, to be accurate, Aunt Iduna’s corpse sat calmly waiting for us. She/it looked up at us with dead black eyes full of hate and malice, possessed by some malign spirit.
And the thing that has me shaken and chilled, even now, as I sit writing this over my bacon and eggs, is that she knew us all by name!
Oh, she gave us the usual evil monolog about sacrificing Robi and Geldion’s pure hearts and eating Antinua for breakfast, (why do they always do that?) but how did she know who we were? I mean, it’s not like we’re famous, or powerful, or rich, or anything particularly noteworthy – yet. So was she reading our minds? Had she overheard us upstairs? Or has she been watching us since our trip to the island? This has to be related to the island, after all. Doesn’t it? Seems too coincidental not to be. But again, I digress, I’m ruining a perfectly good story, sorry.
Well, she rose, reeking and creaking with rigamortis, and attacked Robi, clawing at him. Odd, I thought, that something so powerful as to take over the aunt, kill the initiates, and summon the uglies upstairs would use simple claws to attack. But you wouldn’t have believed the cold and fear that radiated out from the creature. Or maybe you would, I know you’ve seen a lot in your travels.
Geldion read the prayer from the book and called upon Pelor to cast the creature out. It staggered, and it looked for a moment like Pelor would prevail. But the dark was too powerful. The creature recovered its footing. Robi hit it with the holy symbol rending it, but it still looked strong.
Antinua moved up and struck with her morning star but couldn’t damage the thing. I hit her with the sonic blast, but it didn’t do as much damage as I had hoped. She looked awfully tough for a dead old lady.
She/it clawed at Robi gain, digging into his upper arm. It said it hated Robi’s father because he sent it away. Robi looked flabbergasted at the mention of his father. “Who are you?” I asked. It replied that its name is Xexorel. Does that name mean anything to you, Dad? It didn’t to us, but I’m hoping we can learn more when we get home. I’m sure the hall of records has something. (But on with the fight)
I tossed the magical weapon oil to Geldion, who put it on his Morningstar. The weapon crunched into the corpse for some good damage. Robi missed badly with the holy symbol, and Antinua hit but her non-magical weapon didn’t seem to do much damage.
I use the sonic wand yet again, injuring poor auntie’s body, and making all our ears ring. The creature got hold of Robi and mauled him badly. Robi was looking wobbly on his feet. Geldion yelled for Robi to back off (which we all knew he would ignore) and hit the thing, but couldn’t do much. Robi, returning the creature’s serve, hit hard with the holy symbol, tearing at flesh. Black liquid, sulphuric and foul, oozed out.
I used the wand yet again, blasting it with sound, this time sending it careening backwards to the ground. A column of black smoke-the vile creature that had possessed Aunt Iduna-rocketed upward. It disappeared through the floorboards overhead, leaving a black stain. Robi and Geldion ran over to Gier. I told them not to mess up the circle so we can determine what the creature was trying to do.
They lifted Gier carefully and laid him on the floor to examine him. He was dehydrated and chilled, but alive. Geldion bound up and aided both Geir and Robi.
I examined the circle. Don’t tell anyone, Dad, but I’ve snuck a few books out of the tower library that I wasn’t meant to look at. Now I’m glad I did. Those books told me that this circle was for summoning something from the abyss. It included a symbol of Orcus, Demon Lord of the undead. That can definitely not be a coincidence, given all the undead on the island. So many questions crowd to mind. What is this Xexorel’s plan? Was he trying to summon Orcus himself? An undead army? Some of Orcus’ minions? To what end? I guess wiser heads than mine will need to ponder this.
We destroyed the circle completely, though I tried to memorize it first so I can draw it out for the head Magus. The lads took Geir up to warm by the fire. Antinua and I searched the room. We found a box with 50 arcane symbols carved inside along with some black soot. Looked to me like this held a creature of some sort. Could it have been the ones we fought? I don’t know. I’m guessing it only held one creature, but then, where did the ones we fought come from. Might there have been some other creature in the box? If so, where is it now? I’ll have to consult with the tower.
Robi didn’t detect any evil in Geir. I went to the door and called for Quenya who was still scared for me. He flew to my shoulder and said that men were coming. We hoped it was the guys from town, since we weren’t up for yet another fight. Antinua went to check, suddenly appearing in front of them, and scared the nine hells out of a bunch of local farmers. That put a smile on our faces. She can be sneaky sometimes.
Antinua put together a stretcher and Robi helped the men carry Geir back to his parents’ house. Along the way, I asked Quenya which way the smoke went, after some questioning, I determine it went north. That’s a relief, since we’re headed south, but I wished I had a map to see what lay in that direction.
Robi decided to stay with Geir for the night, sleeping on the floor next to him. The rest of us headed to the Key Fjord inn for much needed food, drink and rest. We even got a sip of the new whisky coming out.
We headed off to bed, but tired as I was, my dreams were filled with walking corpses and scattered limbs. A poor omen indeed. Now all I want to do is get back to the tower with the information we’ve gathered, which might weigh heavily on the battle plans being laid as we speak. I hope what we’ve done has bought us a little time, but who knows what this Xexorel has planned.
Never thought I’d be so anxious to get back to the council. Times they are a changin’.
Stay safe, Dad,
Trilith’s Report on Moonday, 2nd of Rainmoot, 1267,
to High Magus Rurik Vikstrom and the Council of Fortitude
Circumstances have yet to prove whether or not I failed in my duties in the worst possible way. If wizard’s chess has taught me anything it is that one cannot celebrate the small victories when the battle has yet to be won, and that one must always try to understand one’s opponent’s tactics and anticipate their next move. I failed in both these things last night.
I can only plead our inexperience and our extreme exhaustion after our three fights of yesterday. But after we dispelled the creature possessing Iduna and returned Geir to his family, we went back to the inn and slept. I say it with shame. I slept. It wasn’t until the morning that I realized what I might have done.
Only in the morning did it occur to me that the creature had inhabited Iduna possibly for days, and that it might have called forth many more of the creatures we had fought. Or it may have called up something entirely different, or released whatever was contained in the box we found. We have no idea of the power of this Xexorel, but it seems far beyond our own capabilities. Its minions could be all over and could have already killed many of the folk living in the outlying farms with no one the wiser.
If so, their deaths are on my head. I went to sleep instead of rousing the Jarl and warning him of the danger to his town. It is a heavy burden that makes me sick with shame.
When I realized my grave error, I spoke with Geldion and Antinua about my intention to speak with the Jarl. They agreed, but wanted first to check in on Geir’s progress over night. I agreed, despite my reservations, thinking that it might be helpful to have Geldion and Robi with me when I spoke to the Jarl. Some of these provincial strongmen are more inclined to listen to armed men, than a woman in wizard’s robes. I also hoped Geir could shed more light on the nature of the creature, and on what had transpired before we arrived. That information that would have been valuable to the Jarl as well as to us.
I sent Quenya skyward to check the perimeter of the town for any vile creatures as we hurried to Geir’s home. Geir’s condition had improved overnight, but he was still unconscious when we arrived. Geldion prayed to Pelor and Geir’s color improved and he started to stir. It was at that point there was a knock on the door and Birkir, a fisherman, presented himself. He told us his daughter Arna had taken ill and that she had black veins, just as Iduna had.
My stomach clenched.
This was my fault for not raising the alarm last night when I had the chance. If the town had been on alert, perhaps this could have been averted. I assumed the creature had headed north, but it must have circled back to town. But this seemed odd. Why take over a girl child when there were so many strapping men it could have possessed? And a child’s body could not contain it any better than an old woman’s had.
On the other hand, perhaps it possessed the child so that we could not strike it down again. We’d only defeated it before by destroying the body it inhabited. There was no way my holy companions would be willing to destroy the body of a small girl. So how could we even fight it? And even if we did get it out of Arna, it would only find yet another body to inhabit. Where we to chop our way through the entire thorp?
Robi and Geldion, of course, hurried to help the child, but I didn’t see how I could be of any use to them. I wasn’t going to use any of my spells on a little girl. So Antinua and I hurried to find the Jarl, trusting that Robi and Geldion knew enough to try to contain the creature without engaging it.
Thank the stars, it was not the creature. The girl was feverish and her veins were black, yet Geir’s holy symbol didn’t glow and Robi detected no evil. They looked around and Geldion found a locket with a small portrait with glyphs. The mother explained that a traveler gave it to Arna two days ago. She described a middle-aged man in a long robe carrying a staff. Black beard, greying. Geldion quickly realized the glyphs were a disease curse.
Robi laid hands on the girl which helped, but didn’t touch the disease. Luckily Robi and Gelion finally remembered we had a potion of cure disease. They gave it to the girl and the black veins faded and the girl relaxed into sleep.
At least that injury, since it happened before we arrived, cannot be laid on my shoulders.
Antinua and I, meanwhile, knocked on the Jarl’s door and only after nearly breaking it down did we manage to rouse him from sleep. The Jarl, Ern, appears to be a man who likes his drink far too much, and who sleeps au naturale. But, you have taught me well that I must work with what I have.
Once I told him all that had transpired the night before, he roused himself to dress and to look toward the protection of his thorp. I suggested he send men in teams to check all the northern farms and to warn the people that there were unnatural creatures about. I prayed to whatever gods might be listening that I was not too late.
The Jarl had also met the traveler, but described him as an old man. Curious.
I think I must tell the Jarl what happened on the island. It appears that this town is somehow involved, and the folk here must prepare themselves. War is coming, and perhaps this is yet another front. It would make sense. Why try to move an army of undead off the island when you can simply raise or summon another army on the mainland. What if the creature’s plan is to get us to move all our forces to the island, and then to attack our undefended city with an army of extraplanar creatures that he summoned here?
But if that’s the case, why summon them so many miles from Reykholdt? Though, I hate to even think it…what if the creature had his summoned monsters kill the residents of the thorp, could he then reanimate them as zombies to send against Reykholdt?
I realize all this is pure conjecture, but if we don’t anticipate the game our opponent is playing, it will be checkmate in no time.
Geldion and Robi joined us at the Jarl’s with good news about the girl’s condition. We were all relieved. We looked at the locket and noticed it seems to be made of the same iron as the box we had found. Geldion and Robi had sent Arna’s father to the other houses of the Thorp to see if anyone else had been given or sold anything by the traveler.
A wise move indeed! We decide to go back to the Inn since the Jarl mentioned the traveler had stayed there.
The inn keeper, Delling confirmed that the traveler left yesterday. He described him as a young man. How can that be? Can he appear any way he wants? How could he have gotten younger while he was in town? Was he drawing youth or energy from some source here? Or was it mere illusion? Did he release Xexorel from the box, or was Xexorel possessing him? That doesn’t make sense since it seems that Iduna had been possessed for a day or even two, and the traveler was at the inn yesterday. So was Xexorel what had been in the iron box? If so, how? So many questions and so few answers.
Delling told us that the traveler left something behind and that they had put it in the cellar. His wife, Frey, took Geldion and Robi down to the cellar to show them the item. I heard her yell for her axe, and hurried down after my companions. There were over a dozen little flying creatures with sharp teeth flapping around the cellar eating anything they could fit in their mouths.
It was a long and exhausting battle against the swarming, voracious, flapping creatures. They were a bugger to hit, and mundane weapons did not seem to do much damage against them. But a good hit would pop the creatures in a mist of yellow ichor and sulfur, which soon covered us.
Frey did good duty with her axe. The battle would have been much shorter had I been able to use Burning Hands, but the barrels and crates of alcohol made that impossible.
Still, bitten and annoyed past tolerating, we eventually prevailed. We checked the item left by the traveler and it was yet another iron box covered in glyphs, this time with 15 compartments. One for each of the little bastards, I assume. How many more boxes like this could be out there? And how did the box open with no one around? Question, and more questions, it could drive a wizard mad!
The Jarl is to meet us at the inn once he has spoken with his people. In the meantime we plan to check the room the traveler stayed in.
That done, do we use Antinua’s considerable talents to track this traveler down? Certainly he’s leaving chaos and death in his wake. But where would we even begin? Should we wait to see if more creatures are found that must be destroyed? Or should we head back at once to report what has happened here? Certainly we must take away any more of the cursed items that have been left behind.
I think we must rely on the Jarl and the residents to defend their town. We’ll warn them against this traveler in case he returns. Though I would love to know the direction he traveled, I feel it’s more important to get this vital information back to Reykholdt as soon as possible. I’ll see if my companions agree, and if the town has horses to loan us that could speed our journey.
As always, your humble operative,
Toilday, 3rd of Rainmoot, 1267
I think I need to start carrying a flask for days like this.
I can’t begin to imagine what the other planes are like with all these bizarre and horrible creatures in them! The beings are so strange. But then, perhaps that’s what they think when they are suddenly thrust into our plane. We must seem very strange and deadly to them.
After the fight in the basement with the flying fiends we retired back to the bar where Delling fortified us with a stiff shot of much needed whiskey. We decided we had better check out the traveler’s room without delay. Who knew what else he might have left behind.
So we wiped the yellow ichor left by those pesky flying creatures from our faces and went up.
Frey led the way with her trusty axe. They are such a funny couple, her and Dellis. The big man stayed below to make us lunch while his little lady pressed on to boldly face what might lurk in wait.
As we headed down the hall we heard something smash. Uh oh. Frey opened the door and shouted, “By Kord’s balls!” Have I mentioned that I really like that woman?
Well, the thing on the floor resembled an oily, grey, slithering bag of muck! It had busted up the bed and a bunch of the furniture. “That bed was new!” shouted Frey.
Spoken like a true innkeeper.
Robi took a look and said to Frey, “You have interesting tenants.”
Despite the destruction the creature had wrought to the room, I nearly burst out laughing. I didn’t know Robi had a sense of humor!
We went in after it. Antinua was the first to attack. Her longsword sliced into it and, well, you wouldn’t believe it, Dad, the damned thing separated into two. Each one moved to attack us. Really! I mean, what does that? It made my stomach flip over, and I wished for that flask.
Robi tried piercing one with his spear instead of cutting at it, but again the thing oozed apart into two creatures. Now we had three to fight! Geldion’s mace came down on one, and at least that seemed to do some damage without splitting it in two. Bludgeoning for the win.
Somehow these gobs of ooze pack a punch. One of them reared up and swung an appendage of sorts at Antinua as did the one in front of Robi, luckily neither hit. The very sight made my stomach contents rise. I’m pretty sure, had I lost it, it would have looked much like what we were fighting.
Really, Dad, the things made me think of the slugs we used to pluck from the garden and toss in the firepit back home. Since Robi had no blunt weapon to use against them, I threw him my staff and ran back downstairs to see if I could get a torch or something to burn them with. I was nearly out of spells and figured Dellis and Frey wouldn’t want me using burning hands in one of their guest rooms.
One lashed out at Geldion but hit his armor. Antinua dumped a trunk over one of the creatures and sat on it to try to contain it, like a mug over a bug. Robi couldn’t get the hang of the quarterstaff and missed the creature twice but Geldion splatted one with his mace. Ichor squirted over the walls and debris. Poor Frey is going to have a lot of cleaning to do!
Capturing a bug under a glass only works because the glass is stronger than the bug. Not so in this case. With a crash the trunk broke as the ooze tried to fights its way out. “That was an antique,” lamented Frey.
As I got a torch from the barkeep, Antinua clocked the one emerging from the trunk with a lovely walnut nightstand. “My Brother made that!” cried Frey, staring in dismay at the havoc to her room.
The ooze however, kept moving.
Robi struck again, and finally hit the ooze, hammering it. Geldion hit another, but it was still oozing. One of the oozes punches Antinua in the face, hard! She stumbled back, stunned, her face burnt with some sort of acid.
Great, acid slugs. Maybe what we needed was salt.
Thank the gods the other missed Robi. I kindled the torch in the fire. Antinua wisely withdrew before she fell down. Robi smashed one of them, splatting it across the floor. He swung at the last one, beating it up some more. Geldion hit it with his mace, then dodged away from its counterstrike.
I got there with the torch finally, but was too winded to hit, and everyone was in the way. Robi hit it with the staff finally killing the last one.
Robi laid healing hands on Antinua. She protests a lot when he does, but I wonder sometimes if she rather likes it.
I looked around for another of those boxes or something like it. Under the ruins of the bed I found a small box with glyphs. It had a black waxy seal that might have given way over time. Ingenious! A time release method. I wonder how long the seal would last. How long ago where these creatures imprisoned? Days, weeks, hours?
We suggested Frey rip the place apart to make sure there aren’t any more of these items. We helped with the search and when we finished we found Birkir downstairs. No one else around town seemed to have anything left behind by the Traveler. He was very grateful to Geldion and Robi for saving his daughter.
After a great meal I called Quenya to ask if he’d seen anything strange. All he had found was oodles of smelly fish-which he seemed to have rolled in. Uhg! We’ll have to have a conversation about that at some point. Between the fish and the ichor, I felt disgusting. Yuck.
Geldion did some healing on Robi and Antinua. Antinua got touched by both guys after one fight. If she weren’t so antisocial, I’d think she was getting hurt on purpose. Just kidding.
The Jarl, Ern appeared, dressed, at least, and joined the group. He told us he had sent people to check the northern farms and set people to guard the town. No one else had been attacked. I can’t tell you what a huge relief that was. My shoulders and stomach could finally unclench. I dared to hope that we had unearthed all the traveler’s ploys.
We headed over to speak with Geir. The day was overcast and blustery. We found Geir wrapped up next to the fire. He looked much restored.
He told us he and the initiates got to Iduna’s the night of the ceremony. She invited them in, but had a strange energy, and the place was a mess. She offered them food, then, out of nowhere, attacked them. She was unnaturally strong and killed the first one merely by throwing him against the wall. She knocked Gier out then gave him some liquid and took him to the basement. She rambled about sowing chaos, and revenge. Geir must have been captive for a couple of days. We have no idea how long ago Iduna had been possessed.
Geir also mentioned seeing an old man with a staff. I think the man may have been using an Alter Self spell. But why not alter yourself to look the same each time? And what visage was he trying to hide?
We passed the afternoon with Geir and his parents, Ylfa and Bjorn. Geir was not up to traveling in the morning but said he would head back to the city in a couple days, along with the bodies of the murdered acolytes, Agnar and Orm.
The night was quiet and a bath was more than welcomed. We readied to go in the morning, and headed south with full stomachs.
An hour out of the thorp we spotted a boar and let it go, despite Robi’s craving for bacon. At one point Quenya refused to scout ahead because of a golden eagle in the trees. He’s a smart bird. We passed the spot where we had killed the critters and as darkness fell, we saw home.
I had expected there to be evidence of battle preparations, but other than some increased guard presence, everything seemed normal. That’s crazy! Where are the soldiers and the ships? Where are the legions to fight the undead on the island? There seemed to be little going on. So it was with grave trepidation that I hurried off to the tower.
After telling the High magus the tale he suggested it was a shadow demon that possessed the aunt. Shadow demons don’t usually summon other creatures, but from my description of the ritual, it was likely trying to call forth a vrock - a vulture headed demon. So glad it didn’t succeed-as far as we know.
I mentioned that it seemed to know us and particularly Robi. The Magus suggested it might have been dispatched to the afterlife by Robi’s dad. I hope it is that simple. The locket the traveler gave to the girl was imbued with Demon Fever. How completely evil, especially to give it to a child! It’s unclear what the traveler’s goal was, other than sowing chaos. Seems to me like a distraction from the true fight, which should be on the island.
I asked the Magus how plans for the battle were progressing. He said that plans are unsure! He has lobbied for swift and forceful action but others are urging caution! Can you imagine! These idiots are willing to let the undead menace grow until it may become unstoppable! Have they any idea just how many creatures have died over the ages? Every single one could become an enemy without swift action!
I hate to think anyone could be in league with such creatures, but why else hesitate?
I’m exhausted and heartsick. Tomorrow I’ll find out who I have to knock some sense into. And then I’m off to the library. The magus has given me permission to do some research in the forbidden books area and I mean to take full advantage. There is so much I don’t know about necromancy and planar creatures. I won’t be handicapped by my own ignorance again.
But maybe I’ll buy that flask first.
Be safe, and know I love you,
Well, we have a new assignment, but I have to say, this one has me scared.
After we returned from Relgard we finally had some time to relax. My friends trained, and I spent my time researching in the library to learn more about these planar creatures and the undead. It’s a fascinating study, but since I’ve started my research, it seems like all my dreams are nightmares. So, I stay up researching more, rather than risk going to bed. So I’m tired Dad, really tired, and the more I learn the more depressed I become. There is so much powerful evil out there. But I guess in the end I’d rather face it than spend my life locked in the tower.
I took a few breaks to check in with my companions and found them helping to train the city guard and indoctrinate the awestruck town children. It’s amazing how our youth are mesmerized by some shiny armor. I just hope that shiny armor is of some use against what we are about to face.
After a few days the higher-ups called us in to discuss what to do about Xexorel the shadow demon. And would you believe it, they want us to go deal with the thing. I can’t imagine what gave them the idea that we are even remotely up to the task, but there you go. Maybe there was no one else to send, or, more likely, they just figure we are expendable. I suppose they would not be wrong in the greater scheme of things.
At least they gave us some new toys to fight with. Robi got banded mail and a fancy new lance. (On loan from the temple.) Geldion got a scroll of dismissal so hopefully he can send the thing back where it came from. (Though they tell us we need to injure the thing badly for Geldion to be able to dismiss it.)
Cold steel is what we need to damage it, so we loaded up. I have cold steel crossbow bolts and my new Launch Bolt spell. I also picked up some cold steel bullets for my sling. Antinua got twelve cold steel arrows as well as four magical arrows.
Besides killing the shadow demon, the Council of Fortitude has another mission for us, and this one is intriguing. Have you ever heard of a magical bow called Anlahrel's Light? They tell us it is an Elven composite longbow made of wood from a heavenly plane. It was held by Quennis Whitestar who stopped by the Council 20 years ago. The Magus believes the bow’s magical properties will make it especially deadly against the undead.
Well, it seems that Quennis and his crew were fighting some group called the Obsidian Scythe and were never heard from again. The bow went missing and the council want us to find it! Now there is a project that excites me! And hopefully the bow will help us against the shadow demon as well. Antinua is chomping at the bit to get her hands on that bow, I can tell you!
Quennis and his pals were searching for another weapon called Valor’s Might. This one supposedly represents one of the gods and also has some awesome magical powers. They think perhaps it is a mace of Pelor, which has, of course, peaked Geldion’s interest. The Magus believes that the mace and the bow may well be in the same place. Which makes sense if Quennis died trying to find one of them. It doesn’t inspire confidence, however, if Quennis couldn’t survive the ordeal even with his fancy magical bow! Again, we’re expendable. If I were Magus, I’d send us as well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
They tell us that the most likely place to find both the bow and the mace is an old catacomb behind a four-story waterfall. If we head north from Relgard about 18 leagues, we’ll find a river. We can follow the river inland to the falls. It’s all wilderness up there so we can’t expect any help, and there are plenty of humanoids in the hills that would probably think we’re delicious. Not to mention that the shadow demon could have possessed something very big and nasty.
Oh, and just as a kicker, I asked about the vulture demon that Xexorel was trying to summon. The Magus actually shivered and shook his head. He said, “If you see it, run like all the hells are after you.” I did a little research. The damned thing is resistant to pretty much everything. Only Good weapons can harm it. At our best, all we could do is annoy it. Let’s hope to all the gods that the shadow demon hasn’t been able to find any “pure hearts” up north to use to summon it.
Geir arrived and they held the funeral for the acolytes. It was a lovely ceremony, and it cemented our resolve to find this shadow demon and destroy it. Though, to be honest, Dad, I haven’t told my companions all I’ve learned in my books. Best not to dishearten them before our mission begins, but I have my doubts we’ll make it home alive.
At least we won’t be walking to our doom. We picked out some horses for the journey. I choose a sprightly little girl named Nix. She’s raven black like Quenya. They seem to be getting along well.
As we left in the morning there was talk that a few hundred men were arriving from Avenshore to beef up the guard. That’s good news, at least.
We headed north in sleety weather. Antinua told us not to expect any better weather for the next few days. We made a quick trip of it, riding straight through to Relgard. We arrive just in time for some delicious dinner from Delling. It had been 5 days since we were last there and it was good to see they still had a patrol set. I asked one of the guards if there had been any excitement. He said it had been quiet.
We handed off the horses to the stable hand and got some whiskey and warm food. Robi and Geldion made friends and blessed people (whether they wanted it or not) while we ate. I think Robi and Geldion have a conversion competition going. We’ll see who wins. I blessed my bowl of fish stew with my full attention. While the boys were trying to make converts, I got Delling to fill my new flask with the good stuff.
We headed out about an hour after sunrise. I have to admit, Dad, I got a little choked up as we passed aunt Iduna’s place. We paralleled the coast heading north. I sent Quenya up to check the path ahead as Geldion bragged to Robi about his converts. You know, at one point, I almost think I saw Quenya roll his eyes at them. He’s such a good boy.
As a very cold, snowy night closed in, Antinua spotted a two-story barn. I think we were all cheered at the prospect of not having to spend the night outdoors. Quenya checked the inside and reported with excitement that it was infested with mice. Great.
Antinua checked it out. She didn’t see anyone inside, but the place had been used by bugbears a few days ago. It was overgrown and crumbling, but it would at least stop the wind.
I enticed some mice for Quenya to catch with food scraps and he caught one. It was a fun game.
While Geldion was on watch when he spotted three bugbears approaching. Geldion cast Bull Strength on Robi, and I cast Mage Armor. Then I cast True Strike on my Launch Bolt. I can’t wait to try this!
More once we finish these guys off,
Wealday, 11th of Rainmoot
So far, so good.
We beat the bugbears, though Antinua took a couple hard hits.
As we prepared for battle, I headed out the back to sneak around behind them if possible. Geldion readied his crossbow and plugged one in the chest. That got their attention! Robi prepared for their onslaught behind the door to the barn and Antinua shot the same one again. He wobbled but didn’t fall. His pals, seeing their comrade plugged twice, charge up and right into Robi’s attack.
One threw a javelin at Antinua, but she dodged nimbly aside. Robi swung his longsword but caught the door. One bugbear swung a big-ass morningstar at Robi and connected with his shoulder. The other hit Antinua in the chest, knocking her back, and Geldion caught her. At that point, the battle looked to be going in their direction.
I finally got to try using my True Shot spell along with my Launch Bolt spell. It worked like a wonder – sort of. It shot straight and true, but the bolt hit a hard patch of leather armor and did little damage. I have to tell you, Dad, I was underwhelmed. I’ll have to reconsider the right usage of the True Shot spell.
Inside the barn, Geldion and Antinua couldn’t get past the bugbears’ guard. Robi struck the one in front of him doing heavy damage and dodged away from the return strike.
Antinua got hit hard again with the morningstar and it looked bad. I plugged the one fighting Robi with a bolt from behind and it cried out. Ha! That surprised him.
Geldion and Antinua struck back, Antinua swore a blue streak at the creature as it dropped to the ground. She fell to her knees, breathing heavily. Robi struck his opponent driving the sword into his chest.
The last, injured bugbear was limping off as quickly as it could manage. Three of us took potshots at it but missed. Antinua, who hates bugbears (someday I’ll have to get the story why) went off after it-once Geldion gave her some healing. She finally sunk a shot in his back and he went down.
We found some money on the bugbears but not much else, though Robi took a decent javelin. As the guys dragged the bodies outside, I checked out the upstairs in the barn and found an onyx sea lion sculpture. It’s rather cute. I put it in with the rest of our stuff since we have horses to carry it all.
After breakfast and a little more healing for Antinua, we headed north again. Snow came and went. It’s lovely, really, but chilly. You would have enjoyed it, Dad. The day was uneventful for a change, just the way I like them. Antinua found us a campsite near a stream.
Antinua’s bow provided us with rabbit for our stew. Yum. Returning to camp she heard a giant, angry bear. I sent Quenya up to take a look. He came back to say the bear was eating a deer. We figured we’d be fine if was busy with the carcass. I have to say, Quenya has been so exceedingly helpful! It’s like having eyes in the sky! And he’s so clever and cuddly. I do love him so.
We had a quiet night and after rabbit stew for breakfast we headed out. We made good time in the morning. Around noon we started to hear a river in the distance. We came upon it soon. And along with it came the smell of brimstone. It was worse than the smelly lab at the tower! We headed inland along the river and came to a stone bridge in disrepair. We decided not to cross unless we needed to and kept going.
Antinua led us along. The brimstone smell grew stronger and stronger. Then we came across spots where the snow had melted from the ground. It really seemed as if we were near the gates to the hell planes! I saw what I think they call a geyser, Dad! Water spouted dozens of feet up into the air then disappeared into a hole in the ground. In other spots mud boiled and blooped. The whole area is fascinating! Where is all this heat coming from? Is it magical? So much to explore.
I tested the temperature in one of the translucent blue pools and pulled my burnt finger out quickly. I would love to spend some time examining the whole area. Maybe I’ll be allowed to, once the current mischief is over.
Then the most ridiculous thing happened, Dad. A bank of steam started talking to us! This creature of roiling steam called us trollops and wankers and asked what we were doing there! He, his name is Bresses, sat in a pool of boiling water! What an odd and adorable creature!
I believe he is a Mephit from the elemental plane. He seemed to have no fear of us and seemed quite willing to chat. He told us he likes the place for the peace and quiet and had been there for quite some time. I asked him if there was anyone else about and he told us about a “barmy sort that lives near the falls.” From his colorful description it sounded like possibly a giant. Robi gave him some rations and he seemed to like them.
I asked him about the Shadow Demon. He told us a “dodgy git from the nethers to the east is bringing the orcs together.” That can’t be good. I assume he means that the shadow demon has taken over an orc leader and is putting together a force. If we’re to deal with that, we better hope we find these magical weapons!
Bresses praised Pelor for the sunny day, making Geldion happy. We thanked him for the info.
Our first giant to battle. I’ll admit, I’m curious, but also worried. At least I have all my spells.
I sent Quenya to look for the giant. He came back and said “Big Man.” We decided to have Antinua go take a look. She snuck forward carefully and spotted an ogre beating on something with a rock and chewing on it. Probably a kill of some sort.
Antinua returned to us and told us what she saw. I was relieved that it wasn’t a giant, though an ogre will be a big enough challenge for us, no doubt. It’s about twice her height and 700 pounds. We discussed our plan of attack.
The idea is for Robi to attack on horseback, and I’ll try to daze it. Then we can use range weapons on it. As a last resort I can run up and cast Burning Hands. We can also cast a bunch of stuff before the attack. And If I cast Summon Monster we may be able to give Robi an advantage. So, we’re girding our metaphorical loins and getting ready for a fight. Robi is a brave man. I’ll give him that. I’ll let you know what happens – if we win.
Wealday, 11th of Rainmoot
To the High Magus,
Our team prepared for battle against the ogre as previously reported. Robi was keen on killing the creature since he felt it was larger and eviler than even your standard ogre. Being my first ogre, it certainly seemed that way to me. So, we discussed tactics. I hope you can advise me on a good book to study combat tactics when I return to the tower. I have no idea if we chose the best course, but this is what we determined.
Geldion’s god was to provide us with blessings as well as to bolster Robi’s strength. Robi’s strongest attack is with lance from on horseback, so such an attack seemed to offer the best chance of taking down the ogre quickly. The plan was for Robi to draw the creature close and attack it in range of my Daze spell so that hopefully he would not be hit. Then I would summon a monster behind the creature to help Robi in the battle while the rest of us used ranged weapons from cover. If worse came to worse, I could approach from behind and use Burning Hands.
Does this seem like the best plan of attack given our circumstances, or would you have advised another course of action? I am eager to learn, as my life may depend on it.
Of course, little ever goes to plan. Is there a spell in existence that make events go to plan? I suppose not. If there were, it would be the most used spell in history. Luckily, in this case, things worked out even better than expected, but one cannot count on that always being the case.
Robi trotted out on horseback after receiving Geldion’s boosts, but the ogre didn’t even notice him. Robi challenged him-a touch more gently than I had imagined. Robi tried to make of show of force, but his untrained horse was having none of it.
Finally, the ogre took notice and headed toward Robi. But before he got within range of my spells, Antinua hit him with a couple arrows. My stomach clenched as the ogre focused in on Antinua and charged. One strike from the ogre would likely have finished her for good. She is a brave, but occasionally over-zealous elf.
Robi saved the day, and probably Antinua’s life, by charging forward on horseback, lance leveled. Dirt and snow flew from the horse’s hooves. The mount proved to be a brave and noble beast. The hit was hard and fast, catching the ogre in the chest.
As you can imagine, gouts of blood flew and it cried out in pain. Robi pulled out the lance in a spray of gore. The thing looked very wounded, but also very angry and very, very large.
Antinua shot twice, missing the first, but the second shot hit home under his armpit, and he fell to the ground dead. So, despite things not going to plan, the ogre didn’t even get in an attack. And I did not even cast one spell. Just as well. It seemed likely I would need my spells soon.
In the creature’s disgusting lair, we discovered a cache of coins, including some platinum. Much of which I fear will end up in the churches’ coffers. We also found a crowbar, a jasper, a rose quartz, a scroll tube, and a red garnet that glowed from within and looked to be magical. Geldion’s detect magic confirmed the garnet was magical but told us little else.
The scroll tube contained a parchment that appeared to be written in common in a colorful turn of phrase that brings forth a blessing of some sort. I handed it over to our cleric Geldion.
We headed back toward the water and the falls. The falls are the largest I’ve seen, coating the rocks before them with cool mist and slippery moss. We set up a picket for the horses and we prepared to go in, single file.
Antinua led us across the treacherous rocks and back behind the thundering falls. As we worked our way in, Geldion and I slipped, but we manage to stay out of the river. In a carved-out area behind the falls we found a log and rocks lodged in front of a doorway. I stood out of the way as the others went in to move the debris. The ogre’s crowbar came in handy as they used that to pry the log out of the way. The stones were soon shoved aside, and we examined the door.
Thankfully, Geldion detected a fire glyph of warding above the door, thereby saving us all from nasty burns. He believed if we said the word “flamen’” as we entered, we would be safe. He referred to some confection called “hot cheese toes.” I’ll have to look into that, since he didn’t mention which creature’s toes were used.
But we saw no way to actually open the stone slab door. We searched the area and eventually found a likely looking mechanism - a square piece of stonework that looked promising. We tried to push it to no avail. Finally, between Robi and Geldion they got it to move and it slid in. The door ground downward lodging with a foot still above ground.
We each said the word “flamen’” as we stepped over the threshold. Once inside I lit our lantern. It was wet, chilly and dingy. None of us felt comfortable here and Robi mentioned a low level of evil emanating from the entrance. Robi led the way. We found a statue of an armored man. The heraldry symbols indicated the failed, disreputable northland Kingdom of Oppland.
Off to our left we spotted a crypt but before I went to examine it, Antinua and Robi spotted a figure in the next room. Light from our lantern revealed four skeletons before us, standing against the wall. We brace ourselves for battle once again.
Your humble student,
Wealday, 11th of Rainmoot - part 2
So, there we were, in this catacomb, eight skeletons in the next room, just standing there, doing nothing.
If you remember, we were sent here to find a magical bow and a magical mace. But it seems someone has them well protected. I wonder who the skeletons were originally and who set them here to guard.
The kingdom of Oppland fell centuries ago. Their scimitars and heavy steel shields didn’t look that old. The room looked to have been looted at some point, so the skeletons could have been the looters. They also could have been the team that went to find the mace, or perhaps, they were part of the Obsidian Scythe that stopped them. It would be tragic and ironic if the elf and his team were among them, defending the place against others like themselves. And you know how much I love irony, Dad.
If they were neither the Obsidian Scythe nor the elf and his team, who set them to guard I wonder. And where are they now?
Anyway, the skeletons didn’t seem to be paying any attention to us, and we figured entering the room would likely set them off.
I checked out the sarcophagus, which seemed to have been looted. There was a body inside, but Robi didn’t seem to think it was likely to get up and attack us.
We discussed tactics and decided that Geldion would go in and try to turn as many as possible, then run back to us outside the door. We’d use the doorway as a choke point and destroy them as they came out. I cast mage armor as he moved in, with Robi watching his back. Geldion raised his arms, clutching his symbol, threw his head back, and shouted, “By the hand of Pelor and the faith of Sheerson, may you all burn in the abyss!”
The skeletons turned toward Geldion and I tensed for a moment, then a wave of energy washed over the skeletons blasting them all to dust. It was incredible. One minute they’re there and the next the room is filled with choking, reeking bone dust. The weapons and shields crashed to the ground. Geldion grinned at Robi. “My faith is strong!” I resisted the urge to do a little jig, and just told him, “Great job!” Robi was duly impressed. I think Geldion has a fan boy.
Cool as it was, if there was anything living nearby, we had announced our coming.
Robi led the way east. There were footprints going that way, but Antinua told us it had been a while since whoever it was had passed. As we tried to get through a narrow doorway, two skeletal wolves charged from the darkness. One leapt at Robi, taking a bite of his hand but he managed to hold on to the lantern.
I yell for them to back up so we could all help fight. Robi beat on the first one with a club cracking bones, but it was still standing. Geldion swung, but couldn’t get around the doorway. Antinua couldn’t get in to fight and was itching to get in a swing. I cast a Flaming Sphere behind the wolves and it burned one of them. Robi hit, then moved back toward us, taking a bite for his efforts. The uninjured wolf followed him out, and Antinua met it with her morningstar breaking ribs and bones.
It leapt at Robi, but was reeling from Antinua’s hit, and missed him. The other wolf snapped at Antinua and clamped on her arm. Geldion swung his cold iron mace, destroying one of the wolves. My flaming sphere engulfed the last wolf, destroying it.
Robi healed himself and felt much better. Geldion had some trouble binding up their wounds in the darkness. Perhaps he was still busy gloating about that awesome Turn Undead.
As we moved into the next room, a dark, misty figure rose from the floor and moved toward us from the far hallway. It was a shadow, Dad. An actual shadow! They’re fascinating to read about, but really horrible to face. I shouted, “Don’t let it touch you!” though I think they all knew about a shadow’s ability to sap strength. I cast Disrupt Undead at the thing, but got jostled by the boys and missed.
The thing wafted quickly over to Robi, who was in the lead, and reached out and touched him. Robi shivered and moaned. He seemed to weaken in front of us, but then rallied. Robi threw off his glove and reached for the creature, but it slid away from him.
Geldion handed me a vial of holy water then prayed to Pelor to destroy this guy as well. Pelor came through again, and with flying colors. The shadow puffed out of existence in a swirl of dark mist.
Geldion was looking a little cocky at that point, though I admit, it was well deserved. As Robi congratulated him, another one rose from the hall floor! I mumbled more than a few swear words.
I lobbed the holy water at it, but it went straight through and crashed against the stone wall. Antinua shot two magical arrows at the thing, but they went straight through as well. I don’t have to tell you, I was beginning to feel a little desperate.
The shadow attacked Robi but, thank the gods, its shadowy claw missed. Robi reached right back at it and his hand glowed against it. It recoiled and staggered back - if a floating creature can be said to stagger. (That is the impression I got.)
Again, Geldion held his symbol aloft and prayed to Pelor. And again Pelor came through for us. He vaporized this one as well. But we weren’t out of the woods yet. (Never did understand that expression. Who wants to get out of the woods when they’re so lovely and quiet? But I digress.)
Geldion saw yet another shadow arise. I was just thinking that it was too odd that they were all arising in the same place - that there must be something calling or creating these things, when Geldion said there was a skull near the doorway that he thought they were coming from.
Well, we knew we had to destroy that skull. Robi tried to draw the shadow away so we could go for the skull. Antinua moved up and threw a vial of holy water at it. This time the holy water worked, and the shadow melted away. Geldion and I thought we could perhaps neutralize the skull by pouring holy water on it, and then hopefully, we could smash it.
I poured, Geldion smashed, but a glancing blow, sent it flying. He tried again, coming down on it hard, but only managed to scuff it. It was clear we couldn’t destroy it, so we lodged it upside down in a broken pot and poured 3 flasks of holy water in it. Then I wedged the whole thing in a corner so no rats could knock it over. We hoped that would hold it for a while as we prepared to move on.
I can’t imagine what else this awful place holds in store for us, but I guess I’ll know soon enough.
Report to the High Magus
Wealday, 11th of Rainmoot, Part III
After we poured the holy water into the cursed skull and lodged it in a corner, we prepared to move on. Our brave Paladin led the way. He felt malevolence emanating from the next room.
I have to say, these holy powers intrigue me. To wield power that is not at all your own is strange and frightening. If that power resides in their gods and they are only conduits, their faith must indeed be complete to plunge into situations trusting their god to come through for them. After all, what is given can be taken away. And I imagine even a god can get distracted. How many other paladins and clerics are making those same requests at the same time? Or is the god’s magic just there for them to tap into and faith is the spigot, so to speak? And why do the gods set limits on their clerics’ spells? Or is it the cleric’s faith that is limited? In which case, perfect faith would mean perfect power. I must learn more.
The idea of relying on someone else for my magic makes me shudder. And my faith is in Boccob’s complete disinterest in anything I might be doing. But I am eternally grateful for Robi and Geldion’s faith and their gods’ attention.
Robi pressed on despite his misgivings. As he passes the doorway, he saw an undead body look up toward him. It had hollow eye sockets with glowing eyes, rotting flesh, and broken teeth. And it had two companions. They charged forward.
Here I made my first of many mistakes of the day. I should have examined the creatures more closely and ascertained precisely what sort of undead they were. But in the heat of the moment, and after an extremely long day, I did not. That mistake would come back to bite me and my companions - or try to. It is a mistake I won’t make again.
Robi immediately backed out of the doorway so we could all help with the battle. Their foul breath and the reek of their decaying bodies reached us before the creatures did. Antinua readied an attack, raising her sword. The first creature emerged and Antinua cut into it, but her sword didn’t do much damage. She dropped the sword and pulled out her morningstar.
One slashed at Robi, but with the blessings that Geldion gave him, the creature missed. Robi attacked, but was too busy defending for a clean hit. Another creature pushed through the door and attacked Geldion, clawing him.
As the last one came up, I cast Burning Hands on all three of them. I can’t even begin to describe the stench of their rotting flesh and burning bone. Suffice it to say, we fought with watering eyes and choked throats.
Geldion hit one, smashing ribs. Antinua hit with her morningstar, knocking one to the ground dead. Again.
Robi hit the one in front of Geldion but his blow went wide. One of the creatures clawed Geldion on the arm and he cried out in pain.
The last one charged through the doorway at Robi, but Robi fended it off. I cracked him with my staff, but it didn’t do much. (Is it possible to add some iron spikes to a magical staff? I will have to look into that.)
Geldion’s hit did some damage, but the things were tough. Antinua struck with her Morningstar and the creature wobbled, broken, but still up. Robi attacked the one in front of Geldion, bravely defending his friend at risk to himself, but couldn’t connect.
The ravening creature attacked Geldion again, but this time Geldion defended. The other one, horribly wounded couldn’t hit either. Then again, neither could I. Or Geldion. At least Antinua was on her game. She struck the one attacking Robi hard in the back of the neck and it crumpled.
Robi got a good hit in on the one in front of Geldion, breaking ribs, but it was still standing. Geldion got scratched again, the thing tearing his thigh. I bashed it with my staff, but couldn’t do much. Geldion swung and finally connected killing the last of the things.
We caught our breath, and I at least was thankful we could finally get away from the smell.
Robi moved into the next room quickly while he still had the blessings of Pelor. We found a very impressive sarcophagus with a carving marking the inhabitant as the Archduke Rainor Landorsson. An historic figure indeed! The appellation read: “Last Ruler of Oppland. May we all find peace in his rest.” How’s that for your people being happy to get rid of you! Now there is the mark of a truly bad ruler. Still, I was a little awed by the historic significance of our find.
The Archduke’s remains were wrapped in silk, but disturbed and manhandled. Something had been cut from his neck, probably long ago.
We didn’t immediately see any way to move on, and I worried we had failed in our quest.
Perhaps our trip was for naught, and we had failed, just as the elf and his crew had failed. Then Antinua found footprints around a large slab of rock that leaned against one wall. She spotted scraping on the floor. The stone seemed to have been moved into place.
Moving the rock proved difficult. Eventually we tied a rope around it and all hauled together. In a cloud of ancient dust, we moved it out of the way.
We examined the stone wall behind and Antinua found a square like the one outside that had opened the entrance. Robi gave it a heave and it moved pretty easily. The stone in front of us ground downward and a musty smell emanated. The opening door revealed a statue across a room with a sarcophagus. Sitting on the steps before the statue was a skeletal figure.
The figure looked up at us with glowing red eyes and said in a dusty voice, “You will leave!”
Suddenly my world went black and I was disoriented. I felt a rush of cool air on my face and the sudden sensation of falling.
I and my companions were twenty feet above the waterfall and falling through the air!
I believe I screamed. Not at all a useful reaction, but understandable. Quenya shot off into the air.
That bastard had Teleported us into space!
Antinua hit the bank and landed heavily. Robi, Geldion and I hit the river above the four-story waterfall. I, at least, hit the water before I hit the rocks underneath. I don’t think Geldion was so lucky. The three of us were swept downstream, sputtering, trying to keep our heads above water and grab onto anything that might stop us from going over the falls.
Geldion climbed onto a rock and Robi grabbed a wedged tree trunk. Robi, bless his Heironeous loving soul, grabbed me as I washed past. We hung onto the fallen log, the wind knocked out of us by the fall and the freezing cold. Antinua used a downed branch to pull Geldion to safety on land.
Robi and I were freezing and going rapidly numb as we assessed our options. They were few. My rope was still around the rock in the catacomb, and we were out of reach of Antinua and Geldion.
Luckily, Robi remembered an Enlarge Person potion in his pack. He held on to me as I dug it out, teeth chattering and shivering uncontrollably.
Robi swallowed the potion, and from the look on his face, it must have tasted like a giant’s balls. He fought the pull of the fast-flowing current until he reached his full 12-foot height. Once he was completely enlarged, he scooped me up and carried me to land. What a relief! I don’t think any of us would have survived going over the falls.
We met up with the others. Geldion did some healing on Antinua and we decided we needed shelter and warmth as quickly as possible. I was feeling weak and sick with hypothermia as we made our way back toward the catacomb. All I wanted was to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. It took us an interminable 45 minutes and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. We said the code word as we enter again. Antinua gathered wood and made a fire in one of the sarcophagi to warm us up.
As we stripped off our armor and huddled over the fire, we discussed what that creature might have been. We were pretty sure it was a Crypt Thing - an undead guardian put in place to guard something important. Which made me think we were very close to our goal. Blunt weapons should work on it - if we can get close enough to use them without ending up back in the river again. But Geldion’s turns probably won’t do too much against it.
It was at that point, when we were damp, cold, unarmored, and just plain exhausted, that my earlier mistake came back to bite us. Quite literally.
The three burnt cadavers we had “killed” earlier, lumbered from the hallway, coming toward us! Unfair! We already killed them once. And they were dead to begin with.
I should have determined when we first saw them that that they were not simple zombies, but cadavers. The glowing eyes should have made it obvious to me, had I remembered my research. It was a mistake that could have cost us our lives. If I had paid attention, we could have at least removed the creatures’ heads or put them in the sarcophagi with rocks on them or something. As it was, we had another fight ahead of us that I doubted we could win in our current shape.
Feeling guilty, I stepped forward and sprayed them again with burning hands. I have to say, the heat from the spell felt good and I didn’t mind the smell quite so much this time. Antinua attacked with her morningstar, but couldn’t connect. Neither could Robi. We were just all too exhausted. Geldion came to our rescue. He prayed to Pelor for yet another turn and Pelor came through. The creatures turned and ran away. We all sighed with relief, though Antinua was sore pressed not to take a swing at one of their backs.
We’d had enough of the cursed place for the time being. We got our damp clothes back on, took a few fiery branches, and worked our way back to the horses, who are happy to have us back. We made camp and prepared for the night.
We talked about the cadavers. From the tomes, I had learned that they cannot heal damage from magical weapons or spells. If injured by mundane weapons they remain dormant until healed. They carry filth fever which they transmit with claws or bite. The victim stiffens up and is less dexterous. I hope for all our sakes Geldion hasn’t caught it.
Geldion does some healing on us as we lick our wounds. We set our watches and hope for the best on the morrow. If the bow and the mace are there, one way or another, we’ll find them – or end up as cadavers ourselves.
Your faithful student,
Oathday, 12th of Rainmoot
Dear Master Felkurk,
I just wanted to tell you that your lessons have not gone unheeded. You were always my favorite teacher at the tower and your lessons on Conjuration saved the day. I’m sure you’ve heard about our last adventure and how we were suddenly dumped 20 feet in the air above a four-story waterfall. Well, our next attempt at besting the Crypt Thing would have made you proud.
Our night was quiet except for a few wolves howling during Antinua’s watch-which we assumed were eating the body of the ogre we left behind.
In the morning we went back up to the top of the waterfall and tied a rope across the river in case any of us were transported into thin air again. Then, at Geldion’s wise suggestion, we built a fire pit on each side of the river, just in case. We discussed our plans and got ready for our next attempt on the crypt.
Since the plan was to strengthen Robi so he could face the Crypt Thing if necessary, Geldion cast Endure Elements on him, just in case he was transported back into the river. Robi led the way in. The smell of burnt corpses nearly made us gag. We looked around, nervously, but didn’t see the cadavers in the first couple rooms and continued on.
When Robi moved through the twisted entry to the far rooms, he saw them fast approaching. He backed up, and we prepared, Geldion casting Magic Weapon on Robi’s club. The cadavers rushed forward. I held my Burning Hands spell ready, waiting for them all to be in range.
They tried to attack Robi and Geldion, but missed. Antinua missed with her morningstar as well. As soon as the third one moved up, I let loose with Burning Hands. Two fell to the ground smoldering. I did a little jig in my head. You always said to celebrate the small victories, and these weren’t that small. Robi swung with his now magical club and killed the last one.
I wanted to remove the heads and throw them down river, just to be sure, but time was of the essence now that Geldion had cast spells on Robi. So, we moved on.
The inner door to the crypt that we had opened was now closed again. Robi went bravely up to push the stone that opens the door and then quickly backed up. Geldion cast Bless on us all and as the door slid open, (as you so aptly taught me) I Summoned a celestial badger right in front of it. (I know badgers were always your favorite.) Then I stepped back out of line of sight of the Crypt thing.
The creature still sat on the stairs, staring out toward us with that expressionless, dead face and glowing red eyes. It had a quarterstaff in hand, capped in a silver ferrule. We didn’t need Robi to tell us this thing was pure evil. The chills rattling down our spines did that.
Geldion seemed less affected by the sight than I was. He cast a Magic Mace that appeared next to the Crypt Thing and hit hard. My badger appeared and ran up to the thing and attacked. I cast a Flaming Sphere next to it, which burned it. So far, our plan to take it out without getting within range of its Teleport spell seemed to be working.
Robi was raring to go, but waited to see if he should run up. The thing tried to sidle away from our magical attacks. Antinua moved up to get an angle on the thing and shot it with a cold steel arrow. Between all our attacks it looked heavily damaged.
Geldion’s magical mace swung and hit hard, and the creature wavered. The badger tried to bite, but couldn’t get purchase, but my Magic Missiles hit him dead in the chest. (Pun intended) The thing, looking beleaguered, leapt forward with what I can only describe as rage in his glowing red eyes, but the badger of all things, swiped at him, catching a thigh bone in his jaws. And believe it or not, that was the end of the Crypt Thing! It fell, smashing to bits on the stone floor. Thanks to your Conjuration class, my brave little badger saved the day.
Robi was about to leap forward to smash the Crypt Thing’s skull, but out of the corner of his eye he caught a Shadow behind us. He whirled to face it.
“Damn it, the skull is at work again,” I said when I saw what he was after.
The Shadow headed for Robi who swung at it with his magical club, but you know those Shadows, his club passed right through. Antinua’s magic arrow did as well.
The Shadow reached right through Robi’s armor and sapped strength from his soul. Geldion called on Pelor to turn the Shadow and a wave of positive energy vaporized it.
Robi checked out the skull and found the evil was back in full force. He dumped the no-longer-holy water from the skull and he and Geldion poured more holy water in. But even as they were doing it another Shadow erupted from the skull.
Geldion called on Pelor again and the Shadow faded away. We decided we should move quickly and get out of there as soon as we could.
Luckily, before we headed into the statue room, Geldion spotted a glyph above the door- a lightning-based glyph this time. Geldion told us the word to disarm it, "Algor."
This room too seemed to have been looted. But how did they loot it with the Crypt Thing here? Or did the looters put the Crypt Thing here? Perhaps the Obsidian order put the good weapons here and then set up the Crypt Thing to keep us from gaining possession of them. If so, they failed.
The statue was a female warrior wearing plate mail. She was quite lovely and majestic. The plaque read: “Dame Aressa Vellendar - Here lies the last true Daughter of Oppland, Champion of the People, Vanquisher of Tyrants.” I know how you love those old history books. You would have been thrilled to see these historic tombs and be in the presence of those who made history.
But thrilling as the history was, we didn’t want to tarry. I tossed the Crypt Thing’s head out of the room (just in case he had ideas about reanimating.) Geldion found a shield behind one of the sarcophagi. His Detect Magic spell told us both the shield and something else wedged behind the sarcophagi were magical. I climbed up and pried out the shield. It’s elven, very light, made of mithril, and has a fist holding a lightning bolt on it. Must have belonged to a follower of Heironeous. It’s in great shape. We gave it to Robi who seemed quite pleased with the find.
I also found wedged a composite longbow made of silver birch decorated with a sun. Elven runes say “Anlarel drove back the horde with the might of Solonor.” This must be the bow of Quennis Whitestar, I’m sorry he lost it, and his life with it, but Antinua is very excited about giving it a try. And I’m glad it is back in the hands of good people.
We opened the sarcophagus on the dais and saw the remains of a tall woman holding a mace. We surmise that it is a mace of Pholtus of the Silvery Sun, as you know, a strong ally of Pelor and Heironeous. Geldion was radiant as he took the mace as his own.
The woman’s body looked like it had been disturbed. I know what you would say, master, she deserves more respect. I felt so too. Geldion and I laid her bones back in place to rest and I said a silent prayer to thank the woman for her fight against evil.
I picked up the Crypt Thing’s staff and it seemed to warm in my hand. Geldion took a look at it and we determined it is a Staff of Spell Storing. It appears to be storing Magic Missile and Color Spray. That could come in useful in our next challenge.
Before we left, we decided we couldn’t leave the evil skull to conjure more Shadows. Robi took a crack at the skull with the Mace of the Silvery Sun. It was a solid blow, but there was merely a crunching sound and a little bit of damage done to it. With the second hit it started to crack and the mace smoked. I backed around a corner, just in case. No way to know what might happen.
With a third hit, the crack widened. As Robi was taking yet another swing at the thing, a Shadow rose out of it.
Antinua’s arrow went through the shadow. I cast Disrupt Undead and damaged it, but not much. But Geldion’s turn destroyed it.
Robi struck the skull one final, devastating blow and it broke in pieces. A wave of dark energy washed out over us all. My companions reeled. Robi got hit hard, Geldion and Antinua were injured, but not as badly as Robi. Since I’d had the foresight you’ve given me to watch from around the corner, I avoided the wash of energy and remained unharmed.
With that, the first leg of our adventure was completed. Now we have the “dodgy git” -as the steam mephit called him- to take care of. Somehow, that one scares me even worse. Still, we have new, powerful weapons at our disposal. Let’s hope they, and we, are up to the task.
Toilday, 17th of Rainmoot, 1267
After our victory against the crypt thing and destroying the skull, we took our shiny new items and headed out. Before we left, I grabbed all the skulls from the cadavers and the crypt thing to throw in the river. You just can’t be too careful.
The sun was setting as we head toward the horses. We were just out of the catacomb-which made Quenya happy-when Geldion stopped in his tracks. He got so choked up, he couldn’t seem to say anything. Robi looked affected too. Even Quenya seemed to be wonderfully happy.
Geldion came out of it, and I asked what he saw. I put a hand on his shoulder and felt holy power flow from where I touched him. It was an odd and lovely sensation that left me a little bewildered. Maybe it’s just my suspicious nature, but as much as I enjoyed the experience, it made me wary. Having recently seen just a tiny portion of the evil in the world, how does one trust this sudden sense of benign goodness? It seems a lie. And to give such a feeling, and then take it away seems unnecessarily cruel.
I would never dream of saying so to my companions though. They were uplifted and seemed empowered by the experience. I wish I felt the same.
Geldion described his vision. He said a glowing statuesque figure appeared before him with flowing dark hair, surrounded by warm light, and wearing plate armor. We can only assume this was Dame Aressa Vellendar, the same woman immortalized in the crypt’s statue.
She said to him. "My noble Geldion,” (And Geldion was quick to emphasize the “noble” part when he told the story.) “The weapon of Pholtus has come into your virtuous hands. You have a path of darkness ahead. Trust that the Mace of the Silvery Sun will light your way. No longer will spirits escape your blows.”
Then she told him how to make the mace burst into flame. A pretty nifty trick, that one. She also said it would help against the undead. “Channeling your divine might into it, will allow for a powerful strike against the unliving.” Then she ended with “Be true to Pelor as you go forth and bring light to the world."
I’m very happy that Aressa has passed on her mission to Geldion and can now, hopefully rest in peace. And I’m glad that we have a new weapon against all we have to face. But for the love of Boccob! Geldion is going to be insufferable after this.
The horses were happy to see us again, and after some healing among my companions, (I managed to stay uninjured) we camped for the night and looked over our new finds.
The staff we took from the crypt thing can hold up to 3 levels of spells. I’m glad the thing didn’t get a chance to use it on us!
In the morning, Antinua went to look for a way to get the horses up above the waterfall. Unfortunately, there was no way on our side of the river. We had to ride back to the bridge over the river, past the smelly hot spots again. I kept an eye out for our mephit friend but didn’t see him. The sun shone off the melting snow and the day was almost warm-as long as you stayed out of the biting wind.
It took us a while, but we managed to get the horses up an old landslide and headed inland. The day was uneventful. Antinua found us a defensible campsite and went to try her new bow on some dinner. She came back with a hare, and excited about how amazing her bow felt and how true the arrows flew. She says it has some amazing range. All I know is the hare was delicious!
The warm meal helped with the cold night. I have to say, Dad, cold nights are the only time I miss my days in the tower.
After midnight, Robi and Antinua heard a bird of prey screech, and goblinish speech. Antinua shook me awake saying there were bugbears or hobgoblins. I sent Quenya to see where they were. He returned quickly saying, “Four uglies.” “After eagle” and indicating the direction.
Antinua and I snuck forward as Robi helped Geldion get suited up. The “uglies” had the eagle on the ground, flapping in a net. A hobgobblin was about to smash the poor thing, so I shot it with a Magic Missile. I dropped the hob-right on top of the poor eagle.
Antinua shot another one of them with her new bow and hit him in the face. He flew backwards and sprawled, dead. That fancy new bow has some power!
Robi moved up and launched a javelin at them but caught a bit of tree and missed. Geldion ran over, going toe to toe with one of them. I hoped his recent vision hadn’t made him a little too cocky. The uglies looked around for the rest of us.
I sent a crossbow bolt into a bugbear, though probably just pissing him off. It ran up to Geldion and hit him in the chest with a morningstar. Geldion gasped.
Antinua’s an arrow from her new bow hit hard again, and the bugbear howled. Robi ran up to another bugbear. Geldion swung at his foe but missed. Robi got hit in the back as another ugly came up behind, turning him into a Robi sandwich.
I summoned a celestial badger. Geldion dodged a blow as Antinua ran up and shot one of the bugbears again point blank. The arrow threaded his skull like a needle. Robi turned to the hobgoblin behind him and sliced him open. Geldion moved up, but missed with the mace. The remaining hobgob swung at Robi, but seemed staggered.
It was almost funny, Dad. Just as the hob went down to one knee, my badger appeared in front of him. His eyes got huge as the badger ripped into his face. A little late, perhaps, but like I said, you can never be too careful. And the badger got a full meal.
Antinua tried to calm the trapped and flailing eagle. I asked Quenya to help, but he was scared of the bird. Perhaps that whole “birds of a feather” thing is just a myth.
The bird eventually hopped up on Antinua’s arm and she sat with it for a while. I think she made a new friend.
Robi spotted something among the trees that looked like a figure. Since it hadn’t attacked when we were busy with the bugbears, I guessed it wasn’t dangerous. I moved forward a little and called out to it to say hello in every language I knew.
Eventually an elf in leather armor stepped from behind the tree. I called out my name and the figure said, “Trilith? Is that you?”
Believe it or not Dad, guess who stepped from the woods. Glorfinad! Yup, Antinua’s brother! My reaction: “By Boccob’s Balls! Great to see you!”
Antinua got a hood over the eagle to calm it down and then gave her brother a hug. Turns out he’s with the Grey Sparrows now. They were on a training mission with a few newbies. They asked us to join them, and we readily accepted. There are 7 elves. They’re a little leery of our human friends, Robi and Geldion, but we assured them they’re good guys.
Vellanthia is with them as well! It was like old home week! It felt so great to see Vellanthia. They also had Aeson, a Cleric of Solonor was with them.
Vellanthia watched the recruits skirting around Robi and Geldion and said to me, "They are absurd. The shape of one's ears does not dictate their worth, someone's actions and the ability to process complicated information is what is important."
I nearly laughed. My wizard friend is just as I remember her, brilliant, and completely snobbish and superior. I would have thought that by now she’d have figured out that everyone has their use, whether that’s brains or brawn.
She told us Robi’s shield belonged to Sir Branner, who she knew back in the day. She was sorry to hear he had lost it-and his life-in the crypt. She told us there was a word to light it up. Robi tried some words and at “Valor” the thing shone so brightly it blinded us. It appears to be a Daylight spell. Useful in dark places, though not so good for stealth. Geldion lit up his mace as well so he didn’t feel left out. Boys will be boys.
We learned there’s a command word for the bow as well, though we don’t yet know what that word is. Once we figure it out, it is supposed to be devastating to undead or otherworldly creatures. Antinua’s working with the elven cleric to discover the word.
We’ve stayed with them a few days now, training, learning, and talking about all that is happening in the lands. My team is feeling stronger, as am I. I feel refreshed and more hopeful now. I’m almost relishing getting back into battle and trying out my new spells. I’ll let you know how it goes. Love you, Dad.
Your affectionate girl,
Oathday, 19th of Rainmoot, 1267
I think I prefer the undead to stirges, anyway. I mean, I know the undead will kill you, but at least it seems impersonal. You’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. With stirges it seems way too personal as the slimy things climb all over you trying to suck your blood. It’s disgusting and creepy and invasive. I hate them. And it seems like they suck more than blood. They seem to suck away your very essence. I’m shivering with disgust just thinking about it.
But, before we got to the stirges, we were with the Sparrows. Glorfinad told us there is a minotaur called Zax trying to gather an army of bugbears and hobgoblins two days east toward the mountains. I think that must be our dodgy git. A minotaur would make an excellent vessel for a powerful malevolent spirit. It sounds as though his efforts have only been moderately successful so far. As you know, following orders has never been bugbears and hobgoblins’ strong suits. As of last week, he has 14 or so hobs and 6 bugbears. Glorfinad also mentioned he has some undead hobs under his command as well.
I’m more than a little apprehensive about taking on that many. I hope we can come up with a good plan.
I had hoped to convince Glor to come with us on this mission. I felt almost happy in his company. And Boccob knows, we could use all the help we can get. But he declined, even after I offered to share my horse. The rejection stings a little, but I understand he has responsibilities with the Sparrows. And then there’s the age difference, but what’s a hundred years, more or less?
Antinua’s bow lights up when she says the word “Galad.” It’s very cool. And she’s been working with the group’s druid Saevel to care for, talk to, and train her new eagle companion, Teleri. Antinua has been flirting a lot with Saevel. Not sure if there’s anything more going on there, but Antinua has been in the best mood I’ve seen her in for a long time. I’m happy for her.
Robi too has been much sought after by one of the elven Sparrows. He seemed mostly to blush if I pointed it out to him. I hope he too, has been making the most of the situation. Who knows if we’ll survive our coming mission. Life is short, it seems a shame to not live in the moment.
With Antinua and my help, we’ve reached an understanding between Quenya and Teleri. They seem to be getting along, though I think they’re both still a little wary. Hopefully time will take care of that.
We headed out early in the morning after a good breakfast. It was a beautiful day. We discussed our options as we rode along the edge of the tundra. You would have enjoyed it, Dad, the smell of the evergreens was cleansing and the air crystal clear.
That evening we camped and Antinua bagged another hare for dinner. Yum. It was a cold clear night under lovely stars.
Just as I was about to wake up Geldion up for his watch. The horses grew uneasy. I shook Geldion awake. Quenya told us there was a bear. Antinua sent Telari up as well. An owlbear charged toward the horses.
I started summoning my faithful badger. Geldion waited for it to move in. Antinua ran forward and shot the owlbear in the collarbone, but it didn’t even slow down. Robi threw a javelin hitting it in the back ribs, but it still didn’t seem deterred. Geldion cracked it with the mace, and it roared.
My 2 badgers showed up and attacked, one got in a claw and the other a bite. I moved to release the horses and get them away from the owlbear. Antinua shot twice, her second sinking deep into its chest. It went berserk with pain. Robi swung his long sword but got bumped by the panicked horses and missed.
Geldion sidestepped and his mace burst into flame. He hit the bear hard in the head as it thrashed, and we smelled burning fur. It was wobbling, but still on its feet. It swatted at Geldion but couldn’t get through his defenses. Then it took out one of my badgers but missed the other. It was barely standing by that point. My badger snapped at it as I moved the horses away and tried to calm them.
Antinua finished it off with another arrow and we all heaved a sigh of relief. We collected feathers, claws, and teeth for spells and such. We let the birds feast and Robi grabbed some meat to roast. As Robi healed Geldion, Antinua spoke with the horses, calming them down.
We had bear for breakfast. It tasted good and well-deserved.
By afternoon we were nearing the mountains. A storm rumbled near the sea behind us. It looked to be a wet and uncomfortable night. Antinua spotted a ruin ahead. The birds headed off to take a look. Quenya is definitely feeling better about Teleri. Quenya returned quickly to say there’s no one there. Antinua took a look and found a well-used campsite with stairs going down. As we went in, I sent Quenya for some recognizance.
Robi didn’t sense any evil, but to be safe, he lit up his day-glow shield and we all squinted as he went over to the stairs. He saw movement below. I’m sure you can guess what’s coming. Yup, the stirges. They were feasting on a body in the cellar. They flew from the whole en masse, wheeling and fluttering around us. They really didn’t like that light because they went ballistic.
Three of them attacked Robi, clamping on to him. He punched one off. Geldion cast Bless on us all. Antinua shot and dropped 2 of them. One landed on me, and Quenya, my faithful friend, attacked it, but didn’t dislodge it. I stepped forward and sprayed the swarm of them around Robi with Burning Hands. Robi deftly dodged the fire as I fried them off his shoulders. The guy’s got moves. I took out 4 of them with that spell and burnt another. Then, I admit it, I was completely creeped out and started to shout “Get it off me! Get it off me!” Teleri dive bombed the one on me, but missed as I writhed.
One attached to Geldion and a second one landed on me. Robi hit the second one on me, but it was still attached. One latched on to Robi’s back. Quenya clawed at the one on me, but it was still on. I was fairly panicked by that time. The things were grossing me out so badly. Give me a nice clean skeleton any day!
Geldion’s mace flamed, and he swiped at the one on him, burning and smashing it. Antinua shot one in front of her and then shot the one on my shoulder skewering it. Amazing shot. I don’t know how she didn’t hit me as I writhed around. But the other bastard stabbed me in the shoulder and drained me. By the gods, what an awful feeling. I felt weak in a way I never have before, but I rallied. I Magic Missiled two of these little bastards. Teleri ripped another one to shreds.
We were thinning out their numbers at this point, but still, another little bastard landed on me. Robi splatted one with a punch. Quenya clawed at the thing on me. I’m so proud of him, Dad. He could have taken wing, but he did his best to defend me. Geldion knocked one off Robi, and Antinua moved up and stabbed at the one on me, skewering it on her sword. I was so relieved. That was it, they were all dead. I needed a little sit-down to rest and regain my composure. I’m sure I could have done better in the battle and at some future date I’ll assess my actions and see how I could improve. But right now, I’m still just a little too freaked out.
At least we made it. Lots of love,
Freeday, 20th of Rainmoot, 1267
Lesson learned. Cast Mage Armor as soon as Quenya says “Uglies.” I lived, obviously, but this one was close.
Last night I was still creeped out and reeling from the stirges when Antinua spotted a troll running at us. I shook off my reaction and readied my Scorching Ray. I warned the others that we need fire, or the troll will just heal anything we throw at it. Still, one has to use the weapons they have. Robi moved forward and threw his spear, hitting it in the ribs. Geldion touched Robi and cast Protection from Evil on him. Antinua called “Galad” and knocked a magic arrow. She shot, plugging the troll in the chest. It kept right on coming. You’d think, just once, these creatures would think better of it.
I shot it with Scorching Ray as soon as it was in range, and it screamed in pain and growled. Angered, it ripped into Robi and blood flew. That had me scared. Robi, undaunted, moved to attack, and the Troll swiped at him again. Robi smote the damn thing, hitting hard. It howled some more.
Geldion attacked with his flaming mace, but the troll recoiled, and he missed. Antinua shot, sinking another arrow in its chest. I ran up and sprayed it up and down with Burning Hands, cauterizing all its wounds so it couldn’t regenerate.
It clawed Geldion, and he yelled out in pain. Robi got bit in the forearm and yelled out too, but managed to hold on to his weapon.
Robi swung with his injured arm but couldn’t connect. But Geldion connected the troll’s head with the flaming mace. It fell to the ground. I stood over it, ready with my Flaming Sphere, until they could get a fire going to burn the thing up.
We sent the birds up to look around and see if anything else was coming but all seemed quiet. Geldion laid hands on Robi yet again. It is getting to be a regular thing. They do each other and feel a bit better.
We took some fire brands and checked downstairs. There was a body below, misshapen and drained by the stirges. Robi didn’t detect any evil in the old root cellar. The poor man had a holy symbol of Ehlonna as well as bullets, a longsword and buckler, plus a worn prayer book. He seems like someone we would have liked, Dad, had we met him alive. He also had 3 curious vials, each of which had R, H, or C inscribed on it. I wonder what it is, but so far have no clue. His sword does have a bit of a glow to it. Robi decided to try it out.
We moved the body out and said a prayer over him. We planned to sleep in the cellar, out of the storm that was brewing above. We moved the horses into the ruin so they would get a bit of shelter. Robi and Antinua foraged for stuff for the horses before the rain arrived. Quenya didn’t see anything dangerous in the area.
Antinua spotted a doe and brought it down, so we had venison that night. Delicious.
The night was a bit stormy but nothing of import happened, thank Baccob. The weather was clearing in the morning as we packed up and readied to go. The guys were conspicuous with their prayers. I think they’re aimed at me. They think me a heathen, which amuses me greatly.
As we moved on, I was thinking we’d be getting close to trouble by nightfall and hoped we were up to it. I sent Quenya up regularly to look around. I think he got a little annoyed with me at all the exercise. I think perhaps he’s getting a touch fat and lazy. But eventually Quenya came back from a trip and said, “Six uglies, river,” and looked northeast.
That’s when I should have cast Mage Armor. But I didn’t. I’ll know for next time. Cast early and often.
There was not much in the way of cover, so we left the horses and snuck forward carefully. Antinua went up to take a look. I guess I was too sure of Antinua’s ability to stay hidden, or I would have cast Mage Armor then. But everyone has an off day, even Antinua.
She saw 2 bugbears and 5 hobgobblins down an incline near the river. Unfortunately, they saw her as well as she was trying to make her way back to us. She called for help.
We ran up to help. I prepared to cast as Robi ran up to protect Antinua. One hob swung at Robi but missed. One threw a javelin at Antinua hitting her in the thigh. She cursed in elven. (Somehow it just seems wrong that curses sound so lovely in Elven.) Another threw a javelin and stuck me. Boccob’s balls how that hurt! Now I know how Robi’s victims feel. And then I was pissed. Never piss off a wizard.
Another bugbear ran up to Robi but couldn’t do anything. Robi dodged yet another javelin. Geldion ran in but couldn’t attack. His mace flared to life. That gave the hobs a bit of a pause.
Antinua shot one of the hobs attacking Robi, taking his ass out. He crumpled down the hill. A javelin bounced off Robi’s shield.
I shot one of the bugbears with a Scorching Ray and he screamed in pain but didn’t go down. Uh oh. Robi cut into one of the hobgobs and I heard bones crunching.
One of the hobs ran right up to me. I have to say, they’re hideous, and smell horrible. Next time I’ll back the hell up. I think I need more long-range attacks. Anyway, it hit me, and I nearly fell. Really Dad, It was close. I saw a mist before my eyes and could barely stay on my feet. The bugbear near me apparently thought I was a goner, since he threw his javelin at Robi, barely scratching him. One below swung at Antinua but missed as she jumped over his blow.
Geldion, thank the gods, came to my rescue with his flaming mace. He hit hard, killing the hob that had nearly killed me. The bastard tumbled down the cliff, dead.
Antinua moved closer and shot the bugbear that I had hit, but he was still up. He was a tough bugger. One of the hobs tried to hit Antinua, but missed and she plugged the bugbear in the neck. He too slid down the ravine. I heaved a sigh of relief.
The hobs seemed unnerved at this point and couldn’t get a hit. I scorched another and he dropped in a smoldering heap. Robi couldn’t seem to get a hit in as he tried to defend. One snuck an attack in under Robi’s shield arm and he cried out. Both Antinua and Geldion missed their attacks.
I Magic Missiled one of the remaining hobs finishing him off. At that, the bugbear turned tail and Robi sliced into him, but he didn’t go down. He took off running.
The last hob hit Antinua cutting into her ribs. Geldion brought his flaming mace down on the hob destroying him. Antinua grabbed her bow and despite her pain, shot the fleeing bugbear, plugging him in the back. He stumbled and my Magic Missiles took him out.
I sat down and took a breather. I can’t tell you the pain I was in. But Geldion’s hands spread warmth and healing through me. I felt truly thankful and quashed any smart remark on my lips. Our guys healed us up as Quenya scouted and reported no other threats. We got ready to go through their stuff as the sun dipped low in the sky.
Tonight, Dad, I’m just happy to be alive. I’m also proud of our team. We prevailed through trying circumstances. Let’s hope the trend continues.
Starday, 21th of Rainmoot, 1267
Dear Master Felkurk,
I’m writing today for council. I remember many of your stories during lessons about the adventuring days of your youth. Did you ever adventure with religious types? I’m traveling with two of the brethren, and a difference of opinion has arisen between us. We need to find a way to reconcile our disagreements for this companionship to work, and I fear that may be difficult.
But first, some context. After the fight with the hobgoblins and bugbears that almost ended me, we found mostly useless things on the bodies, though there were some measly coins to split. We took to the horses and headed north a bit to camp for the night. We ate and spent a cold night under the stars.
The next day, as we were traveling, Antinua and I took turns sending the birds up to check ahead. It didn’t take long before Quenya made a beeline for me, wings flapping and said. “uglies, big horses.” I immediately cast Mage Armor this time. (Fool me once…)
Ahead, Antinua spotted a mammoth in the distance! A real live mammoth! And not just one! Four adults and two babies! My goodness! It was incredible! I learned so much! The stories I’ve heard of them don’t do them justice and to see them alive in their natural habitat! I would have loved to spend the day observing them. They were gathered around a shallow waterhole sucking water up with their trunks and squirting it into their mouths as their young ones gamboled. Yes, despite their size they gamboled around them.
My thrill was cut short though. The uglies were there too. I wondered if the uglies were somehow controlling, or in league with the mammoths. Such beasts would make powerful allies. We dismounted and tethered the horses. Then we moved slowly forward to assess the situation.
It soon became clear that two bugbears and six hobgoblins were stalking one of the baby mammoths! Well, we couldn’t let that stand. We jumped into action. I cast Flaming Sphere between two of them, killing one. The other was injured as well. Geldion cast Bless on us all and Robi jumped on his horse to launch into them. Antinua shot a bugbear in a long arching shot that caught him in the chest and nearly dropped him. Robi, on horseback, galloped down on the uninjured bugbear, lance at the ready. Snow and mud flew from his charger’s hooves. The bugbear didn’t stand a chance. Robi’s lance skewered the bugbear, Robi riding it down until it lay in an awkward heap.
At this point the mammoths started trumpeting. What an amazing sound that I shall never forget! They quickly gathered around the young, protecting them in a wall of tusks as they moved off. It was magnificent to watch, though it saddened me to see them go.
My Flaming Sphere took out the one it had injured as he tried to back away. I moved up and Magic Missiled another one and he fell. Robi leveled his lance at another hobgoblin. Launching his horse forward, the lance tip caught the hobgoblin in the sternum and fairly ripped him apart. It was a gruesome sight that we welcomed.
As the mammoths moved off, the hobgoblins made feeble attacks, but couldn’t do much damage.
Geldion tried a turn at theatrics, running through the Flaming Sphere and lighting his mace to intimidate the remaining hobs. One of the hobgoblins turned pale with fear. Geldion got right up in the frightened hobgoblin’s face. Antinua shot again, and another hobgoblin fell.
I sent the Flaming Sphere in the hobgoblin’s direction but my companions seemed to have the battle well in hand, so I paused to watch the majestic mammoths. My heart swelled at the sight of them trundling off, safe. Robi, meanwhile, was in his element. He seemed almost gleeful as he went after one of the two remaining hobgoblins ripping him to shreds and spreading intestines across the ground. Robi was going to have a hell of a time cleaning that lance.
Geldion’s opponent backpedaled out of his reach, but into the arrow from Antinua. With that, his eyes bulged and the last one fell, dead. Two bugbears and six hobgoblins lay dead, and we were barely scratched, and the baby mammoths safe. It was a grand victory and we savored it.
As we searched the bodies, Antinua looked around to see where the uglies had come from. Teleri indicated that she saw something in a tree to the south of us.
Robi spotted a small white dragon high up in a tree, blending in with the snow cover. It was about the size of Master Hobson’s lynx familiar. And here is where our differences of opinion flared to life, as you can imagine.
I was ecstatic! My first dragon! And a baby! How fascinating. It couldn’t be more than a few years old. I looked around quickly for a parent but didn’t see any. Well, I couldn’t pass up a chance to interact, even briefly, with such a beautiful, ancient, and magical race. Not to mention, it could well be a source of information.
I called out in Draconic that I mean it no harm. I told it my name and asked for its name. She’s called Vitara. She wanted to know what we were doing here, and I told her we were searching for a minotaur who was not a minotaur. She knew immediately who I meant and called him by name. We learn that Zax had kicked her out of her lair.
It was at this point I realized my companions were chomping at the bit to destroy this amazing little creature. I told them a bit of what she had said and tried to hurry to get what information I could. I told them she was being helpful, but it didn’t seem to matter to my companions. They were all up in arms because Robi sensed Vitara was evil. Well, perhaps so, but that doesn’t mean we need to act evilly toward a creature that is helping us of its own free will. At what point does that sort of behavior lead to us being just as evil? I did, in all honesty, go too far, and threatened my companions if they attacked little Vitara. It was said rashly, and I have since apologized, but the underlying problem remains.
Anyway, I quickly learned that Zax has six undead that he controls with a magical rod of some sort. He had 24 hobs and 8 bugbears (though we’ve killed half of them already) and some horses from humans they’ve killed. He is located under a large pine near arched hills. All solid information that we could use. Then I urged Vitara to flee before my companions lost their heads.
I have to admit, I was angry with my companions. I had told the dragon that I meant it no harm, and my companions were eager to make a liar of me. Of course, in hindsight. They didn’t know what I had said to Vitara. But we all know it goes beyond that. Robi could not see past the fact that Vitara was evil. And I could not see past the fact that it was of an intelligent, ancient, magical race.
But the way my companions looked at me! As if I was evil just for speaking with a baby and defending it against unreasoning hate!
Perhaps I was born in the wrong era. I long for a world in balance. I long for the days where there was room in the world for these magnificent creatures with their ancient knowledge and for the races of man. Here is poor baby Vitara, more than a week’s journey from the nearest human settlement, just trying to live her life, and we persecute her for simply existing. One begins to wonder who the evil ones are. Evil is as evil does.
I know Robi and Geldion are good and true believers. There is no shred of doubt in their minds that their gods want what is best. They follow their gods’ wills blindly in their belief. They think that I don’t believe their god exists. But on the contrary. I know they do. I’ve seen firsthand their agency in the world.
But here is what I believe: There are many gods. And all their followers believe wholeheartedly that their god wants what is “best.” Yet each of those gods want something different. Ergo, there is no one “best” and what all the gods really want is what is best for them. And I’ve seen nothing to indicate that what is best for them is what I believe is best for the world or us. How am I to trust a god who is out for his or her own self-interest? And exactly where do the races of man fall in the gods’ self-interest? What happens if our self-interests diverge?
Practically speaking, it means that a trust rift has formed between my religious brethren and me. They think I am practically evil for defending a baby, and I find them unreasonably hostile to anything that doesn’t fit their black and white worldview. Antinua, at least, seems to have little interest in philosophy, which is a relief. She is a very practical elf.
My other concern, after my lengthy conversation with Robi and Geldion, is that as Robi’s power and skill grows, so does his zeal to do his god’s will, no matter the cost. And I fear that the rest of us might well be the cost. If he has to decide whether to do god’s will and attack, or defend his weaker companions, which will he choose as his zeal grows? Why would I trust that he would choose us over his god? In fact, I know that is not the case.
Anyway, we’ve reached a tentative understanding. We are all united in our hopes of ridding the world of Zax’s evil presence. And we have greater enemies still, waiting on the island. What we do beyond that remains to be seen. Any council you can offer in bridging this divide would be greatly appreciated.
After our battle we found a stream to clean up in and moved on. We spotted the large pine that Vitara mentioned as the sky darkened. We had no desire to attack at night, so we moved west to find a place to camp. We set up for the night as the weather cleared. It was good to see the stars. The morning will bring new battles. But before then I’ll take another look at those potions and suggest to Antinua that her Entangle spell may serve us well tomorrow.
Your obedient student,
Sunday, 22nd of Rainmoot, 1267
Report to the High Magus Rurik Vikstrom,
We have achieved our objective. Our mission was a success. But, as I know you are interested in the particulars, I will relate our adventure.
We had located the shadow demon’s lair, but late in the day. We were not keen on attacking at night, so we camped a ways away among some rocks and trees. There I tested the potions we had found on the body in the ruined root cellar and identified a Cure potion, a Haste potion, and a potion of Rage.
Before we turned in, I suggested Antinua learn her Entangle spell for the morrow. She is new to spellcasting so we discussed the spell and its potential uses.
The night was quiet, though Geldion heard a horse crying out. As Antinua woke Geldion for his watch, she told him she heard a goblin disciplining the horse.
We learned our spells and prepared. Antinua lead the way toward the lair. We followed on horseback, but I soon dismounted. As she approached, Antinua saw that the area had been cleared and dirtied. She saw tree stumps and smelled horses. Nearer, she saw 3 hobgoblins with 3 crudely stabled horses as well as some goblins around old tents.
She sent Teleri to us and warned us to be quiet. Then I sent Quenya over to talk to her. Quenya came back a little overwhelmed with information, so Antinua made her way back to us and told us there’s a group of goblins being herded toward the cave. We discussed tactics and Antinua got ready to cast Entangle. Robi cast Bless on us all and Geldion cast Guidance on Antinua. Then Geldion cast Bull Strength on Robi and Shield of Faith on himself. I cast Mage Armor on myself. We were ready to roll.
As Robi launched on the horse yelling, Antinua started the Entangle. I hurried toward the hillside and then toward the Entangle. My hope was to stop the undead gnoll at the cave entrance from getting inside to warn others.
The Entangle took over, writhing up the legs of the bugbears and hobgoblins, trapping most of them. One goblin got free. He ran away shouting what I can only imagine were obscenities at the hobgoblin who seemed to be trying to enslave him. Geldion rode up close to the Entangle and jumped off his horse. Robi thundered across the field, lance leveled. One of the hobgoblins looked at him, wide-eyed, as Robi ran him through. Then Robi spotted a beautiful heavy warhorse and fell immediately in love.
One bugbear was working his way out of the Entangle, furious. Another goblin got loose and took off, but everyone else seemed to be stuck, including the undead gnoll near the entrance. A hobgoblin that had not been in the vicinity of the Entangle, hopped a fence, and ran away.
Antinua moved up and called on Geldion’s Guidance, but couldn’t get a shot through the bugbear’s armor. I think she was still just too overwhelmed by the Entangle she had wrought. I stepped closer and Magic Missiled a bugbear twice, but he was tough and didn’t go down.
Geldion moved close to the cave to listen for more opponents approaching. Robi waited for something to work its way clear the Entangle so he could skewer it (and protected his new love.)
The bugbear I plugged threw a javelin at Geldion but it clanged off his shield. The hobgoblin did as well, but also couldn’t hit. One hobgoblin got free and looked completely panicked. Robi, still on horseback, launched at him and caught him in the jawline, nearly taking off his head.
Antinua moved up and shot. The bugbear was looking pretty bad by this time, so I used Launch Bolt to take him out. As I did, a zombie bugbear lumbered out of the cave toward Geldion. It blasted him in the chest with a fist and even from a distance I could hear the air forced from Geldion’s lungs. A skeleton swung a battle axe at Geldion, but it banged off his shield.
One of the hobgoblins threw a misguided javelin at Robi. Robi just gave him a chilling stare back. That seemed to cow the hobgoblin. It certainly would me.
Geldion raised his holy symbol and prayed to Pelor and 2 skeletal creatures turned to dust. The zombie bugbear backed away, disoriented, headed toward the cave. Geldion lit his mace and attacked the zombie but missed.
Then we heard a booming voice say, “I said Attack!” Xexorel, inhabiting the decaying body of the minotaur, lumbered from the cave and my blood chilled. He was huge and powerful looking, even dead. He saw Geldion and said, “You again?”
Geldion replied with a laugh, “Good to see you.”
With a wave of Xax’s hand the Entangle disappeared. My heart nearly stopped. I wanted to scream at Geldion to run. Xax swung his enormous great axe at Geldion who barely dodged it. I’m sure Geldion would not have survived a direct hit.
But with the Entangle gone, Robi couched his lance and raced forward dodging stumps, leaping a pile of rocks, and smiting Xax for all he was worth. He shouted out to Heironeous as his lance hit, skewering the minotour in the torso. Xax flailed his axe at Robi wildly. Robi was pulled from the steed as the lance caught in Xax body and Robi spun to the ground. As his eyes adjusted to the cave, he saw nothing.
The goblins, freed from the Entangle, ran for the hills. One of the hobgoblins tried to hit Geldion with a javelin but missed. Antinua shouted “Galad” as she drew her bow and knocked a magical arrow. Her bow flared and the magical arrow shined as it plunged into Xax’s chest. I could see the demon struggling to escape the ruined body of the minotaur, but Antinua’s arrow seemed to pin it in place.
I scorched one of the hobgoblins with a ray, but he didn’t quite go down, and I yelled for Geldion to do the spell. Geldion needed no prompting from me. He stepped back and recited the prayer of Dismissal in a booming voice. As he drew forth the power of the writing, he felt the power of his god rush through him and the ink disappeared from the page. I said my own small prayer that the spell would work. Xax screamed in frustration, pain, and agony. And as we watched, mesmerized, the wrecked body of the minotaur imploded, caving in on itself. We all felt a lightness spread over us as we cast Xax from our plane of existence.
But we had little time to celebrate. Robi heard something coming up behind him and turned. An undead form shambled toward him from the darkness.
More to follow soon,
Moonday, 23rd of Rainmoot, 1267
Well, it seems I have not met my first dragon. How disappointing. But I should have seen the signs. I’ll know for next time.
Anyway, I told you how we killed the Minotaur, though really, Robi did most of the killing. Which left him sprawled on the floor of the dark cave entrance. He looked up and saw a creature shambling toward him with sluffing skin and glowing eyes, a Wight. It raised a fist and hissed, “Join me, holy man.” It clawed at Robi, but Robi pulled his sword and swung, saying, “No, you join me!” the creature, though zombie like, was surprisingly quick and dodged away.
Outside, the remaining hobgoblin backed away saying, “No fight. No fight.” He turned and ran. He was quick too, especially considering how injured he was. Antinua took a long arcing shot though and caught it between the shoulder blades. He skidded on his face to a stop, dead.
I heard Robi call out and Magic Missiled the creature in front of him. I knocked it back a bit. Geldion held his holy symbol aloft and called out to Pelor to turn the creature. Its eyes got wide, and it backpedaled as it turned to dust. It was a fabulous turn that also destroyed a zombie bugbear farther in the cave. Robi said the word and his shield lit up the cave.
Robi advanced into the cave, looking around. Antinua jogged over to me, and we headed in. Robi and Geldion talked about how a Wight will drain life force. Good thing we killed it so quickly. Robi concentrated and still felt the residual evil of Xax, but little else.
Geldion did a Detect Magic as he wandered through. The cave seems somewhat natural, definitely worked on long ago.
Antinua noticed some tracks from Vitara. I told her not to say anything to the guys.
Geldion found a few magical things. Some books and a backpack. We were searching around for more when Robi, who had gone out to get the Minotaur’s rod that let him control the undead, yelled for me to get out there.
I came out to find Vitara, now tiger-sized, outside of the cave. She was perched about 12 feet above us on the rock face. My stomach sank when I saw that she held the magical rod in her claws. I would have been happy to let her have her lair back, but we couldn’t let her have the rod. It is completely evil and needs to be destroyed. So, I told her to drop it and we’d let her have her cave and we’d let her live. She refused.
“Mine! It’s mine!” she cried. I pleaded with her and warned her, but when she got ready to fly off, I knew we had to kill her. I was readying a Scorching Ray, but Antinua was quicker. She said “Galad,” activating her bow, and shot. Vitara cried out in pain. Antinua’s second arrow hit and Vitara fell. My heart crumpled as she did. I knelt nearby and said it was a shame. Though now that I could see her closer it became clear it was not a true dragon, but most likely an ice drake. I had read that they can mimic white dragons, but it was impressive to see in person. Still, my disappointment matched my sorrow that we had to kill her. But it was for the best. There were plenty of creatures we had killed scattered about that she could have reanimated.
We retrieved the rod and Robi said the rod emanates strong evil. I told him to be careful not to touch it with his bare hands. He wrapped it up well and stowed it on his horse.
Robi stood watch as the rest of us went back inside to search. Antinua and I noticed claw marks in the pool and a small opening.
Despite the gross looking water, I took off my robes and went in to look. I grabbed up some coins and spotted a bag they were coming out of. I checked for traps (like you always say), then reached my arm into the muck to pull it out. I lumped it on the shore with my teeth chattering. That water, besides being disgusting, was ice cold. I suppose I should have been grateful. Who knows what could have been growing in there if it hadn’t been so cold. Geldion cast Endure Elements on me. By Baccob’s Balls, I want that spell! It was lovely to feel so warm and comfortable. I don’t think I’ve felt so cozy in years. I could really have used that all those years studying in the cold damp stone tower! I only wished it could have gotten me clean as well.
I carried the bag outside and as I poured out the water, it just kept coming and coming and coming. You guessed it! A Bag of Holding! I poured everything out on a flat rock so I wouldn’t have to sift through mud. Vitara was rich! And now we are too! We found quite a collection of stuff. Well worth the disgusting swim. Of course, mostly metal. Nothing that couldn’t survive getting wet.
Meanwhile, Robi made friends with the heavy war horse. Antinua spotted some saddles for the horses including a military one for the war horse. Antinua and Robi worked on feeding and caring for them and they seemed very grateful.
Antinua took a shine to the Elven chain that we found, and we put everything into the bag of holding and put it on Robi’s warhorse. Robi said a prayer of thanks to his previous horse and Geldion, being a smart ass, prayed a dinner prayer over Robi’s old horse.
Wanting to put some distance between us and all the corpses, we made our way south for much of the day. We looked over all our new finds as we set up camp. The weather was clear. My companions told me it was cold, but I felt just fine. (I got to get me that spell!) We found a stream so I could clean up and we could water the horses. As the sun was setting, we noticed an old keep but decided to stay clear. Antinua got a hare for dinner, and we prepared for the night.
We’re on our way home, Dad. I’m glad to put this adventure behind us, but who knows what lies ahead. Still, I can’t help but feel hopeful now that we’ve rid this world of the likes of Xax. I can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish.
Wealday, 25th of Rainmoot, 1267
Report to the High Magus Rurik Vikstrom,
I met an old friend of yours. Segrid the Grey sends her regards.
We came across her and her companions in the morning after a good night’s sleep. We decided to check out the ruined keep we had seen across the river south of us. It was a pleasant morning, though rain soon followed.
We came upon a dilapidated stone bridge near the keep. The keep itself looked old but the walls were still standing. I sent Quenya up to take a look at the ruin. There was a moat around the keep that fed into the river that looked to have been shored up recently, which made us suspect someone was home. Antinua and I took a look at the bridge to see if it would support us. Our chances didn’t look good, and there were sections missing. I doubted we could get Robi’s warhorse across.
Quenya returned to tell me “Human orc woman inside near the wall.” As we discussed whether to just head downstream on our side of the river or find a way to shore up the bridge, a human woman approached. It was, of course, Segrid the Grey. She spoke over the ground in what I later guessed was Terran and a small earth elemental arose next to her. She spoke with it, as we later learned, her name is Marbella. Marbella went to the bridge and melded into the missing section, so we were able to easily cross over.
I thanked her and Marbella (when she returned to Segrid’s side) and we made our introductions. She thanked us for ridding the area of the demon and invited us in for lunch. Segrid said something to Marbella in Terran and she dissolved into the ground. I was quite impressed. I’ve not met a wizard with an elemental familiar before. She said that Marbella had been key in shoring up the crumbling keep.
I asked Segrid what brought her out here and she said, “the quiet.” She also told me that she likes to tinker, and we soon saw the results of her work. She had mechanical and magical guards out in front of the drawbridge and throughout the castle. They seemed to be almost statues, but very useful ones. She laughed when I suggested that those kinds of guards must save on food bills.
Robi took the horses to the stable and offered to tend her horses as a thank you for her hospitality. As we stepped inside, we met Hembra, her half-orc companion and cleric of Istus who wore studded leather armor and a mace.
The keep, though old, was decidedly warm and comfortable as we went in to lunch. Banners hung from the rails and disembodied hands brought us platters of food (An Unseen Servant of course). It was a nice spread and lunch was delicious.
Segrid and Hembra seem very well informed for living so far out from any town. They even knew that the island was stirring. And Hembra suggested our skills and our weapons may be needed in Relgard, and that we should stop there before returning home. She could not tell us more though. She says that Istus is a fickle God who only shows bits and pieces to her followers.
Segrid told me a little about her time at the tower with you and some of the other teachers. It was enjoyable to hear stories about days gone by in a place I know so well.
Robi asked how Segrid and Hembra met and Hembra said she was an adventurer in Avenshore when Segrid came looking for a crew to help retrieve components for a potion. They started traveling together and never stopped. They seem very well suited to each other.
Robi asked if they’ll think of joining our fight, but they said it was not yet their time.
Robi showed Hambra how to take care of the horses better and they offered us food and advice for the road. They saw us off in the afternoon as the weather cleared. I said thank you to Marbella and even gave her a pat on her very hard shoulder. Segrid warned us there are two ogres in the area and told us there’s a path leading down the escarpment a league south of the river.
It was great to meet the two of them. It restored my faith in the choices we’ve made and in the choices I’ve made in my own life. And they seem very happy together in their warm keep.
As we headed out, I warned Quenya to keep an eye out for the ogres. We made good time and found a suitable place to camp. As Antinua woke me for my watch, we heard a very large sounding wolf howling in the distance. Antinua decided to stay up to make sure it was not coming closer. Somehow in my dreams I imagined that the distant wolf was one of our new friends in wolf form. Funny what the mind will do.
The morning was dreary, but Antinua and I felt quite comfortable since Geldion gave us Endure Elements last night.
The next night we figured we were nearing the ridge where we would need to head south to find the way down. As we were making camp, we heard the voices of the ogres arguing. Quenya took a look and gave us direction and distance. Probably about 150 to 200 yards. Geldion and Robi of course, wanted to try to kill them. I would have just as soon gone around, but I was pretty sure I was in for a fight.
We prepared for battle. I got out the Sonic wand and cast Mage Armor. We got ready to buff Robi up and send him in on his warhorse. I’m going to blast them with the wand before Robi attacks. Geldion is going to cast Bull Strength on Robi and cast Light of Mercuria. Then, we shall see what we shall see. I think it’s foolish to take on two ogres, but the others don’t agree. So here we goes…
Oathday, 26th of Rainmoot, 1267
Well, this is the first time I almost felt sorry for ogres.
When we spotted them, one was on the path and the other was heading up a hillside. They seemed to be arguing about something. I needed to get closer to use the Sonic wand, so I tried to sneak up, as did Antinua. But the ogre on the hillside spotted us and shouted to his companion on the path.
With that, Antinua let loose a couple arrows doing lots of damage to the one on the path. Robi couched his lance and charged. The new steed was a little slower out of the gate, but man, has it got power. Robi’s lance found a home deep in the ogre’s chest. His arms flailed and it twisted as it fell dead.
But his companion bellowed from the hillside, and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard such fury and despair rolled together. Geldion, standing on the path, yelled at Robi for getting so far away from us that we’d be able to do little to help when the second ogre reached him.
The ogre on the hillside screamed at Robi and barreled down toward him. Geldion and I ran closer, hoping to be able to aid Robi when the ogre reached him. (Which didn’t take long) The ogre swung at Robi but he ducked the blow, thank the gods. One strike would probably have done him in. Antinua shot twice, but couldn’t get through the creature’s hide armor.
Robi screamed “Valor,” lighting up his shield, which made the ogre wince away. Then Robi swung his long sword, smiting the ogre, ripping open his side, and showing ribs. It cried out in pain.
Geldion who was glowing golden from his Light of Mercuria spell used the light and shot a shard of bright golden light at the ogre and it cried out again. With a second beam, the glow left Geldion and flew at the beset creature. It struck the ogre hard, and he slipped and nearly fell. I hurried up the hill and blasted him with a Scorching Ray. I burned the heck out of it, and it fell on its back, eyes bulging, dead.
And that was it, Dad. Honestly, I jumped up and down and clapped my hands. It had gone way better than I anticipated! Two ogres dead, and none of us even injured! It seemed too good to be true. Robi, still feeling the extra strength Geldion had given him, cast about for something else to fight, but nothing else was handy.
We found a few things on them, like a golden goblet with a hunting scene, and a silver earring shaped like a small caracal. (With part of an ear still attached. Yuck!)
We headed back to camp feeling elated that we were all still healthy and mostly uninjured. Geldion teased Robi with his lighted mace as he turned off his shield. (Maybe not the wisest thing to do when Robi was still stoked and looking for another fight.)
Antinua didn’t find much game that evening, but Telari brought a hare for dinner. Geldion sensed that the earring was magical. I cleaned it up and put it on and I seem to hear better. I gave it to Antinua for when she’s sneaking up and listening.
We joked around and organized our stuff as we celebrated our victory. The night was quiet and uneventful, probably because the ogres has scared everything else off. Geldion gave me his last Endure Elements since Antinua had insulted him. I thanked him and Pelor for the warmth.
Geldion and I discussed some spells and got ready for the morrow. Robi complained about the cooking.
We pressed on the next day heading westward. By late afternoon we were getting close to the escarpment. Antinua heard the river in the distance. Telari went out to look and told Antinua that the path down was in the same direction. Before long we saw the forest below the escarpment.
We found the path down amid a tumbled-down ruin – though, a triumphal arch still stood at the top of the trail down. Antinua and I took a look to see if it was solid. Looked pretty solid to me. There was a scene atop the arch sculpted in stone that Robi and Antinua thought showed a couple of the gods. Antinua spotted a gargoyle at the top of it that looked out of place. Robi detected evil coming from it. I immediately cast Mage Armor.
You know what they’re like, Dad, nasty creatures that like to rip living things open just to cause pain. I suspect they’re jealous of our soft supple forms. I warned the others that they’re resistant to damage unless you use magical weapons. We spotted another one as the first launched at us. I took out the wand and hit it with a Sonic Blast deafening it and hurting it, but it plunged toward us.
It tried to claw at Robi but couldn’t get past his shield. Antinua shot a magical arrow at the first one plugging it and cracking its hard skin. Her second shot hit as well sinking deeper. Robi swung his glowing sword as he shouted “Valor” and dazzled the creature. He clobbered it but didn’t do as much damage as expected.
The second gargoyle attacked Robi as well, but couldn’t get to him. Geldion hopped off his horse which the second gargoyle targeted. Geldion lit his mace and swung but nearly hit Robi’s horse instead.
I slid off my horse and let loose a Scorching Ray at the second one. It screeched and the sound seemed like the grinding rocks.
The first one headed toward Antinua, giving Robi a chance to strike it. Robi hit it hard, knocking off a big chunk of its hip that had black goo inside it. It attacked Antinua, but couldn’t hit thanks to the Protection from Evil that Geldion gave her. Her horse was spooked, but Antinua masterfully kept control of it. She drew her sword and stabbed at it, but the sword just clanged off of it. She slid out of the saddle and the creature clawed at her.
Robi clobbered the one in front of him and it thrashed in pain. It scraped and clawed back at him, but couldn’t get through Robi’s armor. Geldion hit this time with his glowing mace, and stone broke off from the creature, but it fought on.
I tried a Scorching Ray at the one after Antinua but missed and cursed at myself. It went after Antinua again and got in one hit to her side. She stepped back and shot an arrow at it, and it crumbled to the ground, breaking into a rock pile. “Make sure it’s dead!” I shouted, so Antinua plugged it again for good measure.
Robi hit the one in front of him again and it shattered into rubble. I picked up a small piece to look at it more closely. I’m curious as to how rock can come to life and interested to study it when I get a chance.
Antinua thanked Geldion for the Protection from Evil again since it really helped to keep her safe. However, she could use some of Geldion’s healing hands. And with that, we prepared to head down the hill.
So again, the adventure continues.
Oathday, 26th of Rainmoot, 1267
Report to the High Magus Rurik Vikstrom,
Having defeated the gargoyles, we headed down the hill, Antinua in the lead. We reached the bottom with no problems and headed into the trees. Quenya looked ahead while Teleri caught some quail for her dinner. Otherwise, the day was uneventful and I felt warm and comfortable thanks to Geldion’s Endure Elements spell. It really is the most wonderful spell. Can we start teaching this at the tower?
We set up camp under a half moon. Geldion and Antinua spotted a large buck in the shrubs. It took Antinua two quick shots to drop it. It looked like we were having venison again. Yum.
Robi and Geldion said some prayers while dinner was cooking. (You’d think they could find something more useful to do.) And we were off to the land of nod figuring we would be at Relgard on the morrow.
During my watch, three 9-foot centipedes squeezed from a rock face and headed straight for us. I shouted to wake my companions then shot the first one with a scorching ray. It fizzled and burned, its legs curling beneath it, but the other two kept coming.
Antinua stepped closer and shot twice at one of them and it flailed before falling dead. The last one charged toward me. I tried to dance out of the way, but it bit my calf. Fire shot up my leg and I felt queasy. I couldn’t seem to move very well. Damn centipede poison.
Geldion lit his mace, swinging mightily, but ineffectively. Robi lit his shield as well, so the camp was as bright as day. All the better to see how ugly and how big the centipedes were. Robi swung, but also couldn’t hit the squirming thing.
Another damn centipede crept from the hillside and attacked Geldion, but he danced around it. I stepped back carefully and cast mage armor on myself – a little belatedly.
Antinua shot point blank at the closest one and the arrow sank deep. Her second shot went wide.
Since the first one couldn’t get more Trilith on the menu, it settled for Robi. It snapped at him, biting deep, but at least he wasn’t poisoned. Geldion swung his mace again but couldn’t seem to connect. Robi slashed his longsword and the one that bit me oozed ichor to death. The final one bit Geldion, but he too managed to not get poisoned.
I stepped over to the one biting Geldion and cooked it with burning hands. Antinua drew and fired into this centipede as well. Geldion finally connected with his burning mace, crushing it. Thank goodness.
Antinua and Geldion filled up the crevice that they had crawled from so we could get some more rest. We dragged the smelly corpses away from camp. Geldion and Robi healed us all up and we bedded back down.
It was a beautiful morning, but I still felt clumsy from the centipede poison. In the morning Geldion said a loud restoration prayer and drew a figure of a bird on my head. The poison left me, and I felt less clumsy. I sincerely thank him, and successfully bit back a bit of a wry smile at the theatrics, which I’m pretty sure he’s doing for my benefit. Robi did the same for Geldion, without the show.
Telari took a look and told us what direction the ocean lay in. We headed out for the day. Travel was thankfully uneventful for a while.
I started to get the scent of the sea on the breeze and think of home. But Antinua smelled something foul that reminded her of the island. We all suspected that couldn’t be good. On the other hand, we had left more than one ogre rotting behind us, so there could have been nothing to worry about. I sent Quenya up to take a look, and he came right back saying “road!”
Something didn’t seem right, so I cast Mage Armor on myself (having made the mistake of not casting it too many times) and Geldion cast Protection from Evil on Antinua and Robi. Antinua also mentioned dark clouds coming in from the west. Robi didn’t detect evil exactly, but he did feel that there was something wrong going on.
We picked up the road to Relgard. Quenya went up again but suddenly bee-lined it back saying, “Dead, dead, dead!” We saw zombies headed our way from the direction of Relgard. At first, I worried maybe someone had killed the nice folk from Relguard and raised them, but these zombies looked old, not recently deceased. So at least on that count, my worries were assuaged.
The zombies spotted us and headed in our direction. Geldion cast Spiritual Weapon and a mace appeared and swung at a human zombie, smacking it, though doing little damage. He trotted forward on his horse.
Robi rode up on one of them, plunging his lance into it. The thing was eviscerated, and nearly fell, but caught itself.
I rode closer and shot one with 2 Magic Missiles and it reeled but didn’t go down.
A little kobold zombie tried boldly to scratch Robi’s horse, but the horse just shook him off. The zombie facing Geldion’s spiritual mace pawed at it, confused. Another zombie tried to claw Robi’s horse as well, but it pranced away.
Antinua shot a zombie bugbear in the side, but it kept heading toward Robi. Geldion’s Spiritual Weapon missed but kept an annoyed zombie busy. Geldion charged up next to Robi swinging his magical flaming mace and connected. He cracked a zombie in the head, and it fell face down, brains oozing.
Robi slashed his longsword at a human zombie cutting him open, but it didn’t seem to care. And the smell! Ugh! I rode up and shot a Scorching Ray at the zombie bugbear, but I missed as my horse jostled me. Damn. I do hate wasting spells.
The poor little kobold still couldn’t hurt the disinterested horse. Nor could the human zombie. The zombie bugbear trudged right up to Geldion and hit him a glancing blow. Geldion’s horse panicked and tried to flee. Geldion whirled and barely kept it under control.
Antinua said “Galad” and shot a magic arrow into the side of the bugbear. It flailed about as the positive enemy did its damage. She shot again but missed as it lurched toward Geldion. Geldion dismounted, letting the panicked beast flee, and swung his mace at the bugbear. He staggered it, but didn’t drop it.
His Spiritual Weapon, meanwhile, was in a tickle fight with an angry and confused zombie. Neither hurting the other.
Robi swung the longsword chopping the human zombie in half. Did I mention the smell? I shot the bugbear again with Magic Missile, lighting it up, but it fought on. In return, it tried to claw Geldion but got nothing but shield. Antinua rode up swinging her sword at the bugbear, slicing into it. Guts came out, but still, the dead wouldn’t die.
The Spiritual Weapon finally hit but didn’t kill the zombie. Geldion cracked the bugbear a good one, but it was still on its feet. Man, that thing was tough! Robi finally took off its head.
I looked around for any other enemies, but the coast seemed clear. But Quenya, checking from above, again bee-lined it back to me so I’m guessing there’s more bad news.
Antinua sliced open the little kobold zombie, though I was almost rooting for the little guy. Robi charged the final zombie slicing it open. It collapsed in a heap. We regrouped as we turned toward the new threat.
More as the situation develops.
Oathday, 26th of Rainmoot, 1267
Report to the High Magus Rurik Vikstrom
It appears that the island is no longer sleeping, and the Enemy has brought the battle to us. I can only imagine that this is the opening salvo of a larger war.
We had just destroyed the zombies we discovered on the road, when Quenya came in a rush from the direction of Relgard saying “Dead, dead, dead” and repeating it over and over. Fear for the residents of Relgard brought my heart into my throat. But Robi, being cautious, gave Geldion a little healing before we hurried to face the new threat.
The storm broke as we mounted up and rushed toward the town. Bells began to ring very close by. I sent Quenya up to see where our enemies were thickest.
We saw the shrine appear through the lightning, thunder, and rain coming down. And we saw a crowd of zombies who seemed to have walked out of the ocean, judging by the seaweed dangling from them, and were headed toward town. Among them was an ogre zombie. Folks from town lined up to protect the entrance to the town with the watchtower bell ringing above them.
I sent Quenya to see if there were any of the dead already in the town. Then we hastily laid plans to pick off the ones in the back as they moved away from us.
I summoned a Celestial Riding Dog that appeared and seemed to shimmer in the rain. Antinua shot at the last one in the back from horseback. It stumbled and fell motionless.
My dog ran up but couldn’t attack. I launched a bolt at the last zombie now and the bolt hit home.
Robi gave Geldion a nod to go ahead. Geldion moved up next to me, held up his mace and his holy symbol. “By the power and light of Pelor and the strength of my faith bla bla bla…” A wave of positive energy rippled the rain before us. Five of them turn to dust and were washed from the field. That left 6 plus the zombie ogre who turned toward us.
Robi rode up and loosed a javelin at the ogre. It looked fantastic, but didn’t do a lot.
Antinua moved forward and shot a magical arrow into the ogre. The arrow burned a hole in his chest and he screamed in anger and pain. The next arrow hit as well.
A zombie and my dog traded ineffectual attacks.
Quenya told me there was a man under a tree nearby in robes with a skull headed staff. I guessed that he was the necromancer who was calling forth the zombies. We’d never win without taking him out. I rode toward him and blasted him with a scorching ray.
“You wench!” he yelled. He Magic Missiled me with 4 missiles and I cried out in pain. I have to say, I much prefer to be on the giving end of that spell. I would not have survived another round of missiles like that. I suppose it’s good to know exactly what it feels like to get hit with that spell, but it was painfully won knowledge.
While the dog kept a number of zombies busy, the ogre lumbered up to Geldion, Robi and Antinua and punched Geldion’s horse in the head. The horse reared back throwing Geldion off as it bolted away. I can’t say that I blame it.
One of the zombies tried to grab me and pull me off my horse, but, thank Baccob, it slipped in the mud.
Geldion jumped up. The ogre hit him as he drew back his mace, but still the flaming mace managed to hit the creature who cried out in pain. Robi, on his charger, launched toward the ogre with his lance lowered. He drove his lance into its chest ripping out ribs and flesh, but the beast was incredibly tough.
I heard the celestial dog yelp in pain as it fought a handful of zombies. Antinua shot another arrow into the ogre’s gut and it glared at her. Geldion dodged another zombie.
The dog wasn’t looking long for this world, quite literally, but he’d done good service and kept most of the zombie busy. I rode my horse away from the zombie trying to grab me and downed one of my healing potions. I wouldn’t do anyone any good dead. I tried to get eyes on the necromancer as the zombie tried feebly to chase me.
Geldion did another turn, rippling the rain with energy and destroying all the zombies but the ogre. Robi swung at the ogre futilely.
Then, yet more zombies walked out of the water. I gritted my teeth, determined to get rid of this necromancer before he could call forth more.
Antinua shot at the ogre again with her magical bow. Positive energy sunk into its eye socket. The ground shook as it collapsed to earth. Her second shot plugged another zombie which staggered and burned from the positive energy.
I rode up to the tree where I’d seen my enemy to Burning Hands the necromancer, only to find he had turned invisible and run off. But here the rain was in my favor. I could spot a vacant spot in the air where the rain hit him. I tried to Magic Missile him (very conscious that he had 4 missiles to my 2) but I couldn’t hit. He must have had a Shield spell going. I tried to keep track of him as he moved off and I yelled to my friends to focus on the necromancer who was headed north. If we couldn’t stop him, we might be fighting zombies all night.
Geldion moved up to the new set of zombies and called on Pelor again to turn them. Five of them turned to mud and a zombie bugbear ran back into the water. Geldion gave Robi a grin – which seemed premature to me.
Antinua pointed out a longboat out on the water. I assume that the necromancer had brought the zombies to our shore on the boat. Or at least most of the way. They seemed to have walked the last bit.
Robi, heeding my call, headed north and spotted the necromancer’s outline in the rain. He charged at the man, sword raised. As Antinua said, “Partially resist that, motherfucker!” My friend does have a saucy tongue on her. Robi’s swing caught him through the middle and parts of him flew in different directions. I cheered, as did the others.
But we didn’t have long to celebrate. Our day wasn’t over yet. Four more zombies lurched toward Robi from the north.
More once the battle is won.
Oathday, 26th of Rainmoot, 1267 â€“ Part III
This is to the council that decides the town actions not just the master of the tower.
Lords and Masters,
The situation in Relgard is dire, but I imagine it is only a symptom of a greater disease. I urge you with all haste to prepare for an attack on the island. Our enemy is more powerful than we thought. And the Temples and their clerics are our greatest weapons against the horror that is besetting us. I can’t tell you how invaluable Geldion has been in our fight against the undead menace.
Robi had just killed the necromancer when I sent Quenya to check the town for undead and then turned to continue our fight on the road. A shot from Antinua turned a kobold zombie into a smoldering pile of bone. I launched a bolt into another kobold zombie. Geldion ran over to Robi to tell him yet more were coming out of the water. There seemed no end to them.
I shouted to Robi to Detect Evil on the necromancer thinking that perhaps it was something on the body that kept calling the zombies from the sea. Robi replied that the necromancer’s staff glowed brightly. He hopped off his horse and, not wanting to touch the staff, managed to slide our bag of holding over it. I hoped that was enough to blunt any power it might have.
A kobold zombie swatted Geldion, hitting him. A human zombie banged a fist off Robi’s armor. The other couldn’t hit. Antinua plugged one of the kobolds, killing it, and one of the human zombies as well. I rode a little toward town to get a better look since the town bells were pealing wildly. Antinua yelled that the town was fighting skeletons. Geldion destroyed one of the last 2 human zombies with his flaming mace. Robi’s longsword sliced open the zombie who flailed at him.
Quenya returned and told me there were bones near the water. He hadn’t seen anyone else with a staff, so who, I wondered, was raising the skeletons, or had they come over on the boat?
Antinua plugged the remaining zombie, bringing it down. I hurried over to check the body of the necromancer for something that might help us. Robi pointed out a magical ring. I pulled it off his finger and tucked it in a pocket, both fearful and hopeful of what it might do. Could it help us defeat the horde of the undead? Still, things didn’t yet seem so dire that I needed to risk it.
Robi failed in his attempt to bandage Geldion, so healed him with a spell. And on the necromancer, I also found 2 bone scroll cases, a pouch that seems to have coins, spell components, and a potion. I grabbed it all. He was wearing a scale from some beast on a thong. He had a tattoo with the symbol of Orcus.
As we were about to launch toward town, we saw the zombie bugbear that Geldion had sent back into the water coming out again. I slung a bullet at it, but it bounced off. Not wanting to waste any of my few remaining spells on the bugbear, I got on my horse and Geldion joined me. We headed toward town, leaving Robi and Antinua to take care of the bugbear.
Antinua hit it in the chest twice, but he still lumbered forward. Robi charged on his horse, lance ready and skewered the bugbear, ripping him open. Somehow, he was still up. He hit back, clubbing Robi in the side. Antinua rushed up swinging her sword, but she slipped in the wet grass. Robi dropped the lance and finished it off with the sword.
As Geldion and I rode into town we saw what seemed like dozens of skeletons clambering out of the water into town, fighting with the townsfolk and guards from Reykholdt.
I tried a Ray of Frost (forgetting in the heat of battle that skeletons are immune to cold.) I jumped off the horse so I could use the Sonic Blast wand without panicking the beast. Geldion cast a Spiritual Weapon which missed a zombie. I used the sonic wand on one, but it did little damage. The spiritual mace hit it though, crumpling the skeleton. Geldion’s flaming mace took out another.
Antinua moved up ready to hit next time.
I surveyed the scene and shot my Magic Missiles taking out one of the skeletons surrounding a man on the dock. I hoped that would save his hide.
The Jarl approached with 2 battleaxes yelling for blood. If only the skeletons had some. I fingered the ring in my pocket. I wondered...
Geldion sent the magic mace after a kobold skeleton as yet more skeletons came out of the water. The townsfolk would soon be overwhelmed at this rate.
Antinua hit with a morningstar dropping another one. Robi rode around to the far side of the docks where there was yet more fighting.
One skeleton crawled out of the water next to me and I engaged it.
Geldion rounded the corner and raised his voice in Pelor’s name. His power rippled through the air and nearly a dozen skeletons dropped into dust, their weapons and shields hitting the ground. One ran off into the water. Unfortunately, the one next to me was still there, and Antinua and I traded blows with it.
As Robi helped the folks at the north dock, a two-headed skeleton climbed out of the water onto the dock. I stared at the ghastly thing. It had to be 13 feet tall and powerfully built. I felt our chances of winning this battle fading as it killed defenders standing before it.
I shot a Sonic Blast at the one in front of me, then, in desperation, I put the necromancer’s ring on. I instantly became aware of a presence above, watching the events. It seemed as though someone was scrying the scene. I felt that the ring might protect me from being seen by whoever was observing us. Though exactly how that might help I couldn’t be sure. Still, any advantage seemed a good thing.
Meanwhile, Geldion hurried past the dock and over to the next group of skeletons preparing another Turn. Antinua continued fighting the slippery skeleton in front of me.
The Jarl, berserk with rage, ran up to face the giant creature with some guards in tow. The creature, which fit the description of an Ettin missed the Jarl with a mighty swing, thank Baccob.
Robi destroyed a kobold skeleton, then rode to face the ettin. Meanwhile the Jarl hit the two-headed giant, doing considerable damage. In reply the ettin clobbered a guard who nearly fell, but it couldn’t get through the Jarl’s defenses.
I spotted Delling and Freya fighting among the town’s defenders and hoped they would be all right. Geldion called upon Pelor again, instantly turning a whole crop of skeletons to dust. That was over twenty he had destroyed so far. Thank goodness, and Pelor, for Geldion, and for the rain or we would all have been choking on skeleton dust. But Geldion wasn’t done yet. He sent the spiritual mace to attack the ettin bopping it on one of its heads.
Antinua and I for some reason still couldn’t get rid of this one amazingly lucky skeleton in front of me. Robi moved up, hoping off his horse, but couldn’t get to the ettin. Things were still looking a little dire. Robi had used up his healings. Geldion still had spells left, but my spells were nearly gone.
The ettin took out the injured guard, but the Jarl fought on.
More to follow soon,
Oathday, 26th of Rainmoot, 1267 Part IV
Boccob’s Balls that was scary! The Enemy sent a whole army into Relgard and would have wiped the whole town off the map if we hadn’t been there. Or more specifically, if Geldion hadn’t been there. As it was, it was a close thing. I wonder if the necromancer was there to raise the townsfolk after the undead killed them, thereby increasing their numbers. A sobering thought.
It does make me a little angry with our new half-orc friend who told us we should go there, and that they’d need our help, but didn’t bother telling us what was up, or coming herself to help out. A lot of good people were lost, but at least the town was saved.
We were still battling the ettin and the skeletons at the docks when, Quenya flew toward me saying “More dead north.”
Robi stormed toward the ettin, club ready. The ettin swung its morningstar at Robi hitting him in the shoulder. Robi hit it with his club and knocked off a few bits of bone. Luckily the ettin missed his return blow, but his second attack hit the Jarl and he reeled.
I finally got a decent blow in on the skeleton in front of me and cheered when it slid into the water in pieces. I moved toward the dock and yelled that there were more dead to the north. Geldion took off to the north to face the new threat.
Antinua moved next to me saying, “Galad” as she shot a magic arrow at the Ettin. The arrow from her glowing bow cut through the rain and hit the creature in the hip exploding in bone shards. It looked at Antinua as Robi swung his club again, landing a hit on its injured hip. It staggered a bit. The Jarl hit as well, cracking its femur and the ettin swung, hammering the Jarl who flew back, falling motionless to the ground. Robi nearly buckled as well as he took yet more damage from the ettin’s massive club.
By that point, Dad, I was just plain angry, I pointed my staff at the ettin and sprayed it with my last Scorching Ray, cutting one of its heads off. It crumbled and fell in a heap. If only I could have done that earlier instead of fighting that stupid, slippery skeleton, the Jarl would still be in the fight. Even from a dozen paces away I saw Robi heave a sigh of relief. I dug through my bag and ran toward them with my healing potions in hand, hoping it wasn’t too late to save the Jarl.
Geldion came to an intersection where he could see enemies to the north and the west as well as some headed toward Aunt Iduna’s and the outlying farms. He felt a rumbling and yelled to us for help.
A gnoll arose from the water in front of Antinua and she smacked it with her morningstar staggering it.
I handed off a potion to Robi as he ran for his horse and leapt on its back. He galloped in Geldion’s direction. Geldion reached the west entrance. There he found huge numbers of undead amassing for an attack.
I ran up to see if the Jarl yet lived. He was barely hanging on, but I poured a healing potion down his throat and he came to. I told him what was going on and helped him up. I told him his people need to see him and hear his directions, even if he’s too weak to fight.
By that point, it was pure chaos, Dad.
At the west entrance, Geldion called on Pelor again. 12 skeletons and zombies vaporized before him. But one with 4 arms and many more continued to gather. The townsfolk gaped at Geldion in awe.
Antinua destroyed the gnoll skeleton and headed toward the main road to see who was coming.
Robi downed the healing potion as he rode to where Geldion defended the town. He yelled for them to step aside so he could charge into the attacking horde on his noble mount, but Geldion refused to move, not wanting Robi to sacrifice himself. So Robi threw a javelin at a zombie, striking him in the chest.
Quenya returned telling me there were soldiers coming. I could only hope they arrived soon. I quickly pulled out the scrolls I had taken from the necromancer, hoping against hope there was something there, like Command Undead that might give us an advantage, but I was disappointed.
Geldion waited a heartbeat for more of the zombies and skeletons to draw close, then raised his holy symbol. Again power flowed out dropping 5 skeletons and 3 zombies including the four-armed abomination.
Antinua ran to collect the horses, vaulting over fences, and saw perhaps a hundred riders flying the sun and seahorse flag of Avenshore coming to our aid.
Robi threw another javelin at a zombie but missed. I headed north to see if I could help there.
Half the force galloped into town while the other half turned to go around. Geldion made yet another turn, 14 skeletons turned to dust.
I hitched a ride with the Jarl toward the north to see what if anything I could do. I should have stayed and talked with the soldiers and let Antinua go north, since she had her morningstar and I had only a couple spells left, but in the heat of battle, it’s hard to keep a level head.
A woman wearing mail rode up to Antinua leading the soldiers. She asked Antinua where the enemy was, and at Antinua’s reply, sent half the remaining force west and half north.
Robi threw his last javelin, nearly dropping a zombie.
The soldiers swept through and destroyed the remaining force of undead. Caught between the soldiers outside town and those inside, the skeletons and zombies soon fell. But they put up a fight and some of the soldiers fell as well. I, for my part, was exhausted and depleted and thought it best to stay out of their way as they finished the battle.
After the battle, Lt. Ashton introduced herself. She’s a tall, impressive woman, and a follower of Herioneius. We told her about the undead who had headed toward the outlying farms, and she sent riders to hunt them down. Other riders helped the injured townsfolk and collected the dead.
I asked how she knew Relgard needed help. Their timing had been more than fortuitous. She said the High Magus at the Council of Fortitude has been watching Relgard with a scrying spell and sent the troops from Avenshore, now in Reykholdt, to their aid. So perhaps that was who I felt watching when I put on the ring. Interesting. I’ll have to speak with the Magus about the effects of the ring on his scrying spell. Perhaps we can figure out a way to reverse its effects and get a better view of what the enemy is up to.
The Lt. also tells us a force is being prepared to fight the evil on the island. Good. Well past time in my opinion. I hope they’re also keeping an eye out for more ships full of undead headed our way.
The Lt. does seem to like hanging with Robi. Though it’s hard to tell if Robi is embarrassed or intrigued by the attention. Mostly I think he was just exhausted.
We stayed the night at the inn and our favorite innkeepers were happy to see us. The Jarl thanked us all profusely for saving his life and his town. The Lt. mentioned how impressive Geldion’s contribution to the battle had been and Geldion beamed.
In the morning we prepared to head back to Reykholdt with the soldiers. I’m happy to be heading home. There is much I need to discuss with the Magus. Can you believe it, Dad, I’m actually looking forward to talking with him. I guess there’s a first for everything.
I’ll write soon,
Sunday, 1st of Plantall, 1267
Delling and Freya gave us each a bottle of their Reserve Kye Fjord Whiskey for helping to save the town. I know that’s your favorite, and it made me think of you. I hope I’ll get a chance to see you and have a drink with you before it’s gone but given how often we need to lick our wounds or celebrate our victories, well, let’s just say that better be soon.
Anyway, we packed it away carefully before we headed out in the morning. Robi’s steed and Teleri got lots of complements and interest from the soldiers as we mounted and headed home.
The ride was easy and comfortable. Before dusk we rolled into Reykholdt. The town was crowded with soldiers. It was a heartwarming thing to see. Finally, there is action brewing. We each headed off to report to our respective bosses.
I spoke with the Magus and reported everything I could remember. He seemed surprised to hear about his old school chum in the tower with her companion. We spoke at length about uses for the ring, and I learned that my ring will also block me from the eyes of the enemy. What a boon! Though we came to no conclusions on how best to use it. I thanked him for sending the force to Relgard and saving our asses, though not in those words.
Robi learned how to do the ritual to bond with his noble horse and picked up a much better blunt weapon for smashing skeletons.
Geldion looked for better armor to increase his speed. Robi looked for new armor as well.
I worked with the Arcanus, Zeldon Miersen to learn how to do magical tattoos. Zeldon is rather a young mage, completely covered in tattoos and magical rings. He even has one magical ring through his nose. His hair is a long rat’s nest, he’s a little scattered, and nothing seems to perturb him. He’s also very fond of his smelly pipe, but he’s a very good teacher.
The tattooing is amazing, Dad, and I love it! It combines the art of magic with, well, art, and skin and blood. There is something that feels very profound and satisfying about it. Though I do say, I’ll be just a little sad to use the tattoos and see them disappear. But then, I get to do them all over again. I did tattoos for each of my companions as well as myself. And, it gives me a little extra peace of mind to know that my companions will have a little of my power available to them, even when I’m far away.
After buying more masterwork arrows, Antinua requested to speak with the falconer about taking care of and communicating with Teleri. I believe they spent some time working together.
We all felt stronger, and I learned yet more spells. I can’t wait to try them all.
They have a Ring of the Companion at the tower that Antinua could use to talk with Teleri, but they’re not letting it go cheap. They want 4000gp for it. Can you believe it? Highway robbery if you ask me.
Plans are underway to attack the island in a week or two and the Magus says they’re scrying for more undead headed for shore. I hope they’re vigilant.
Most evenings I hang out at the Sea Shellter with my friends. One evening Antinua overheard someone at a nearby table talking about a bunch of small, winged demons in one of the houses near the wall. When she told us, I think all our hackles rose. Those winged fiends, here? In Reykholdt? My stomach immediately tied into knots. We spoke with the fisherman that we overheard and offered him a silver to take us there.
I kept an eye on the rundown place where he said they were found, while the others went to talk with a man named Royce who witnessed the event. According to Royce, there were about a dozen of them flying about. The guards fought them and seemed to have killed them all. Royce told us the corporal looked around the place but said there was nothing. Of course, he didn’t know what he was looking for. His wife, however, saw a cloaked figure with a staff. That made my blood run cold. Our traveler, here! He must be found before the attack!
We headed to the rundown place where Robi thought there was still something brewing.
I’ll tell you more when I can,