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    The Lost City of the Suel
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Sat May 03, 2014 12:27 pm  
    The Lost City of the Suel

    Cast of Characters:

    Altan: Paynim Archer
    Berenn: Half-elf Priest of St. Cuthbert /Ranger
    Emyn: Human Paladin of Trithereon
    Fred: Halfling Thief
    Hepla: Human Mage
    Isilme: Dark elf Bladesinger/Song Mage
    Nirifel: Half-elf Ranger/Bard
    Noot: Human Thief
    Rakk: Half stone giant Fighter
    Thorgrim: Dwarven Cleric/Fighter
    Vaddarra: Snow Elf Peakwarden/Wizard-Anagakok

    Part 1 - Prologue

    [This is the thread for the Heroes of Hommlet's adventures into the Suss Forest. They have multiple goals here. Their overriding goal is to find Markessa, their Slavelord foe from the Pomarj. Isilme had gained a glimpse of her from the throne in the Temple of Elemental Evil, and it seemed Markessa was coming to this place. From the map Isilme saw in her scrying, she was able to determine the "rough" position of the lost city. On the way way, they also plan to travel through Celene. Having recovered the sword and shield of the Elven Cavalier, Freindilin Weirkein, from the lair of Caustichlorinus, they decided that they should return it to the elves. Thus, the party prepares to leave again.....]


    Earthday, 6 of Patchwall (581)

    The morning is chilly, about 51, though the high will climb to nearly 80. The skies are clear, though there's a slight breeze still. You begin your journey early, after a nice breakfast at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. As you leave the inn, you encounter Black Jay. He seems more at peace, though his mind is still troubled. He gives Berenn a quiver with 10 +1 arrows. "Got 'em from the elves," he said. "Perhaps they will come in handy on your journey."

    "Thank you for this generous gift Black Jay. I hope you remember my words and when my business is concluded we should talk again."

    After Berenn thanks him Hepla will come to Black Jay and take his hands in hers and say, "Thank you, on behalf of all of us. Might you not join us for an adventure?"

    He looks down, and you think you see tears for a moment. "No," he replies. "My adventuring days are over."

    "Very well, but if you change your mind we can always use a good archer." She stands on her tip toes and gives him a kiss on the cheek before releasing his hands and stepping away.

    Isilme brings Gladriel on the trip (the elf we saved at the TOEE) and mentions we should stop and visit the lord who lives on the edge of the Celene and stay there for the night. She will be wearing her dark green dragon armor and face mask while traveling. I need to start developing a reputation out in the real world, she thinks.

    She also produces a map, created by sage Betham in Verbobonc. "It's a copy of the map Markessa was looking at," she says. She then points to the arrow/square. "That's the location of the city on the map she was tapping. It is close to some well-known Suel Temple ruins at the edge of a swamp."

    "I've been there," says Rakk, he face looking somewhat grim as he remembers.

    "Good," says Isilme, not noticing the look that passed on Rakk's face. "Because that's where we are going."

    Rakk, Berenn, and Altan are all wearing their new dragon-scale armor, and Noot looks impressive in his new dragon-leather. Everyone is now used to his new form, and Noot seems to like it even more than before. "Hey," he says when asked, "I can see in the dark now!"

    You pass the small gnome village of Sheernobb, at the crossroads where the road branches. The western road heads to Kron and the Greenway Valley. The gnomes hail you as you pass, and you are relived that the gnomes seem to either not know of the events near Caustichlorinus's lair, or don't hold it against you. Continuing south, you are heading into new areas for all of you. By the end of the day, you reach another crossroads, with another road to the west. There is a small village there, and you find a decent inn in the center of the village. There you can rest for the night. The road to the west heads to another village, Gallow's Corner, which lies at the head of a valley in the Kron Hills. You hear that it is populated by a mix of halflings and humans, and is known around here for its abundant hot springs. The road continues south, and you should reach Osteverk tomorrow afternoon.

    After passing an uneventful night at the inn, you get up, buy a small breakfast, and head back on the road south.

    Freeday, 7th of Patchwall (581)
    You awake the next morning, and continue your travels. It's another clear, warm day (H:75/L:57) with a slight breeze. You travel throughout the day along the eastern edge of the Kron Hills. To the west, they rise higher and less wooden, while to the east they gradually diminish into the woods of the forest. By late afternoon, you reach the town of Ostverk.

    This isolated town is surprisingly substantial in size, and boasts a very strong militia. The hardy residents of Ostverk are technically part of Verbobonc, but many owe fealty to the forces of the Gnarley or to Her Fey Majesty of Celene. Almost certainly, the residents of Ostverk would count themselves loyal to Lord Deleveu first and to the viscount second. Ostverk is predominantly human, but supports a larger percentage of elves and gnomes than most cities in the viscounty. The militia and foresters of this isolated community are often hard-pressed by evil humanoids of the Gnarley, and they have learned to be resourceful and independent. Lord Deleveu can often be found relaxing here, when not at his manor to the east or in active service in the Mounted Borderers. Ostverk has been traditionally overseen by a Waldgraf, which is why Lord Deleveu bears that unusual title.

    It's late in the day. Ostverk is pretty much the border between the Viscounty and the elven kingdom of Celene. Emyn looks to see if there is someone among the elves who seems important. It might be good to make some connections with the kingdom, "Since Vestron's sister is taking far longer than us hasty humans would like to establish diplomatic ties," he adds.

    "We should probably head for the inn and inquiry about sleeping arrangement," says Berenn. They do, and are quickly settled into rooms. Berenn takes a private room, as does Hepla. Emyn will take the room next to Hepla's. If it is not available, he will sleep in front of her door. Isilme prefers to stay outside with Gladriel using spells for comforts. Vaddara has no funds and prefers the wilderness anyway. She will cast Make Camp and let Hepla know where she is staying just outside of town. She then uses her special ability to find food.

    Rakk laughs, "They won't have bed to fit? Will sleep outdoors, but will join for food and drink." Fred is going to see to his pony's stabling, then go for a jaunt around the town to scout the lay of the land, and maybe look for opportunities.

    "Lads 'n' lassies, I'll see you for dinner, what? Need to stretch my pins for a trice. All that horsey-travel! Bad for the legs, that is."

    Nirifel entertains by singing an elvish ballad. A few elves and half-elves wander in, hearing her singing, and sit rapt as they enjoy her singing. Isilme will sing as well, something in ancient elvish that is haunting about a lost love.

    Nirifel is quite impressed with Isilme, and says so. "You could pack a house in Greyhawk City," she says, with obvious respect.

    "Thank you sister," replies Isilme. "I amazed by your talent, you are far more polished and knowledgeable on how to play to the crowd and move the hearts of men then I will ever be. You too know the inherent magic in music - we seem to travel different roads yet ultimately arrive at the same destination. With your natural talent, perhaps you would be interested to study under me someday and learn how to weave magic in the resonance of your songs?"

    Fred returns once again from his scouting hike, finding nothing much to interest him. He scans the inn, checks in for a small private room and the best board of fare that is offered.

    "Good evening all!" calls the Halfling cheerily. "What news? Anyone here from Greyhawk? Or Dyvers? Or the Bandit Kingdoms?"

    Fred hops up to sit on the edge of a table to get a good look at the patrons of the inn. He doesn't know anyone yet, really. There are even some in the party who are still only nodding acquaintances. He's been staring at the Half-Giant since the trip began, first wondering where on Oerth he came from and why the guards hadn't attacked it yet. But his initial fear has been replaced by burning curiosity. At this point, he trying to keep from getting stepped on and building up his courage to approach him.

    Fred can spend up to about 10gp on a fine meal and good drink, as well as a decent room.
    He ends up sitting next to Rakk, who turns out to be quite affable. They share drink, and swap stories about the many adventures both have had, from the Great Kingdom to the Land of Black Ice. It seems the two have traveled over half the Flanaess! They are sitting together when Sir Deleveu and his men come in. They take obvious notice of Rakk [he's hard to miss], but the are more focused on the girls and for a couple of them, Berenn.

    Elrae starts to play his instrument (don't laugh) and while he's playing a group of guardsmen enter. They all wear the leather armor of a trained woodsman/ranger, and are followed by Sir Deleveu himself.

    "Good show, Isilme!" Thorgrim roars. He bangs his mug loudly on the table in appreciation. "Now something Dwarvish!"

    She bows, and sings a strange tune you have never heard before about "The Riddle of Steel" something she learned in the ancient Dwarvish tome "Steel and Flame".
    You can tell it is not a perfect work because she translated the idea and words into common, yet you find it powerful and moving just the same.

    [Berenn OOC: And Sir Deleveu shows up ... oh good!]

    Berenn will attempt to stay unnoticed while he is in the inn. He would prefer not being recognized by Sir Deleveu.

    Hepla gets up to great him but sees Berenn staying down so she sits down. Luckily when she stands she still cannot be seen since most people seated are taller then she is. Her orange outfit is another thing and she quickly uses hue to bring the color down to a very dark orange, almost black.

    Sir Deleveu sits, while Isilme is still singing. The innkeeper brings drinks to him and his men, and they listen as Isilme finishes her song. When she finishes, there are tears in the eyes of some of them. Sir Deleveu stands and applauds, joined by his men as well as the rest of the people who have filtered into the inn.

    Sir Deleveu seems to not notice anyone else, as he strides across the room to speak with Isilme. "You have come," he says. Sir Deleveu seems to not really notice anyone else in the room, though his men certainly do. As Sir Deleveu moves to talk to Isilme, a couple of the men approach Berenn. He slowly and casually prepares for a fight; however, it seems his fear is not necessary, as they are half-elves themselves, and also clearly rangers. They salute Berenn and introduce themselves. The men are Sir Deleveu's ranger scouts. He doesn't have knightly squires like other nobles, as he's much more of a wilderness guy himself. Many of his men are actually half-elves as well. They were notified of the beautiful elves singing at the inn, and quickly came to listen. They ask about the party, and what they are doing in town.

    Meanwhile, Nirifel moves besides Isilme, and together they begin to speak with Sir Deleveu. He seems enraptured by the two ladies.

    Vaddarra stays quiet. She just barely knows those who choose to travel together. She loves to listen to Nirifel sing so will sit quietly until time to retire then move to the magically created camp and get some sleep so she will be rested and ready in the morning should the group be ready to travel.

    Berenn properly introduces himself to the group of rangers. "I am Sir Berenn Silverwood Knight Commander of the Watchlands."

    When the men figure out who you are, they don't seem to have any problem with you. You learn that Sir Deleveu was disappointed that the Watchlands were created and title given to another, but there's no denying that those who slew the dragon are strong indeed. The lands will be in good hands, and the area would likely be more trouble than it's worth anyway. It would also draw him more into city politics, which he tries his best to avoid. Way out here on the frontier, he is almost independent, so why would he want to change things? Plus, he became rather enchanted with Isilme, and pretty much forgot all about Berenn.

    [Berenn OOC: Good! Berenn really doesn't want to dig himself out of anymore entanglements at the moment.]

    Berenn will offer to buy drinks for the men sitting with him and exchange tales of adventure. Emyn enjoys the show and will make small talk with the elves if he can, about adventures, slaying the dragon that had previously plagued their lands and the like.

    Though Isilme is disguised, Sir Deleveu seems to know who she is. "It isn't so difficult," he say, "considering the company you keep."

    When Develu approaches Isilme because of her singing, she will be polite, informing him that the song was from before "the great war among elves" when all was in harmony. She tells him quietly " I am traveling incognito so as not to cause trouble. My journey to Celene is of the utmost importance to begin patching relations for those elves who would turn from the evil of their ancestors and rejoin their brothers and sisters on the surface. Had I know your manor was so close I would have come to visit directly. Would be willing to entertain the party and Lord Berenn for an evening before we leave your lands? I also have a small favor to ask before we leave if you would be kind enough to grant it."

    Sir Deleveu laughs. "I believe it is you who are entertaining us," he say with a smile.

    "Well, at the very least sit and enjoy a glass of wine with me after I finish this dwarfish song for my good friend, Throgrim."

    Fred sits, comparing travelogues with Rakk. Enjoying the finest the inn has to offer, he tries to draw others into the conversation. "Have any of ya heard news of the Shield Lands lately? Or the Bandit Lands? I must admit to some worries...I've heard there's war afoot there, and I've many relatives through that region." If Fred can't get any news, he looks for a dartboard. "Would anyone be interested in a game of draughts? Silver a point?"

    With Star eating her mouse, Hepla leans toward Fred and says, "I have heard the same thing. How well do you know those lands should we get involved in the war?"

    With a sincere smile, Fred bows in his seat. "When I left Stoink some years ago, it was just normal Chaos-as-usual in my homelands. But I've heard evil tidings that the Old One has been stirring...and that bothers me. For certain, he can mean no good for that whole region - thrice curse whomever was the knave that released him!

    "Surely, you've heard from refugees that the bastards (excuse my language, milady) from the Horned Society have been trampling the Knights of Holy Shielding as if they were so many bootless bumpkins. Unheard of! I've had my, encounters...with the Holy Knights a time or two, and they impressed me as very competent indeed.

    "It's troubling, milady, troubling indeed. I think there's more to this story. That's why I'm so eager for news! I have family there, ya know, and business concerns - none of which would prosper in a war. But I don't know what on Oerth one such as I could do to influence something that big...I can tell you this much, for what it's worth. If the Old One is moving south, Greyhawk, Dyvers, even Verbobonc won't be safe. What are your thoughts, milady?"

    With a shudder, Fred fills and lights his pipe. Jojo, a sleek (but well-fed) black rat peeks over Fred's shoulder and sniffs the air, then runs down his arm to curl up in his lap.

    Star sits up when she sees Jojo but Hepla says,"Pet, not meal," and Star goes back to eating her mouse. "First, please call me Hepla, titles are so burdensome outside of court. As for what we could do, I do not know. I would guess we could be a kind of secret agent team sent in to do a particular job. As for this Old One, I fear I do not know much of him but the one time we were faced with an evil god we were fortunate that another god came to our aid. Fighting gods is out of our league."

    "We fought Imix..." Thorgrim says, then chuckles. "Perhaps he was a bit out of our league."

    Jojo spots Star and darts up Freds arm and into his haversack with a 'Squeeek!'

    "Well, mi... Hepla, the last time I played out of my league, I ended up with two broken legs, alone in the UnderOerth for months. But then much as I loved the folks in The Prize Crew, you folks seem to have treasure and powers far beyond theirs. I don't know who this Imix-feller is, but the less said about the Old One the better.
    "It's said in Greyhawk City that he's the spawn of some demon lord and a dragon, or that he's the son of a god and a spider. I've also heard he's a wizard of power past the Circle of Eight and that he's ten foot tall and scaled like a Gorgon! All that's sure is that he commands far too many Yrch and Gebli and evil buggers beyond count.
    "Part of me - the smart part - says to stay the hells out of his way. But the other part - and it's a small one - reminds me of where my kin and homeland lie. Stoink maight be a dump, but it's my dump!"

    "You do not need to worry about Star," says Hepla. "She understands PET, your Jojo is safe."

    Emyn swings by to join the conversation since the elves don't seem chatty. He scruffles Star's ears and offers a bit of catnip. "I was not among the party when they met Iuz the Old but they were lucky indeed that St. Cuthbert himself came to their aid. I suppose someone will have to deal with him in time though, lest he destroy all of Flanaess."

    For the first time in a long time Fred's jaw drops in amazement. He even seems at a loss for words at Emyn's pronouncement. "Are ya sayin' laddie, dat dere's people in dis room what seen th' Old One wit' dere own eyes? An' lived to tell da tale? Da Old One hisself? You sheissin' me boyo?" Fred doesn't even notice he's dropped into his native Stoink-ese accent, he so flabbergasted. Using every available proficiency, he tries to read Emyn's face to see if he's pulling the Halfling's stubby leg.

    Emyn's face hardens and says, "I am Avenger of Trithereon and on my honour, I have no reason to lie, nor does my betrothed, Hepla. I assure you master halfing that some here have indeed seen the Old One, though I have not. It took place when they first destroyed the temple of elemental evil. It was only through St. Cuthbert's direct intervention that they survived. But then, " he continues in a lighter tone, "this group has seen many challenges. They have fought slave lords in the Pomarj and caused a volcano there to erupt and destroy an entire city, they have faced and killed a fearsome dragon and have defeated the emergence of a great and evil church. Are you certain you wish to come with us? For even more dangerous challenges await."

    Hepla says, "If it is the same Old One yes some of us did meet him. He was very scary at the end. He started not scary but then turned scary when we did not do as he wanted. giggle...St Cuthbert really saved us that time." She then boxes Emyn's ear. "And don't scare the poor fellow Emyn. I'm sure he will do well with us and we do look out foro each other."

    "Sorry dear," replies Emyn, rubbing his head. "I guess it is not that bad. We've only died once so far."

    Elrae then sweeps over to the table, taking a chair. "Tis all true, I was there to witness it all. Iuz himself appeared to us as an old man and attempted to take the Golden Orb of Death, not by force but by cunning and treachery. The original Heroes of Hommlet were saved by the avatar of St. Cuthbert who chased off the Old One which allowed us to the obliterate the ancient artifact and destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil. Sir Berenn, Hepla, Ismile, Thorgrim, Noot and myself were all there. If we ever encounter my dear friend Gortek he would vouch for our story as well, though he might make you a head shorter by doubting us. I could sing you the epic tale but you would need a comfortable place to sit."

    Fred just shakes his head in wonderment and tries to refill his already burning pipe. He yelps, Jojo jumps up with a squeak and then both sit back down with some embarrassment. Regaining his composure quickly, he half-bows to Hepla, Emyn and Elrae. "Then myths and legends truly do walk the Oerth in these days, just as granny said they do...My apologizes - sure wasn't doubting your word - any of youse. It's just that I don't oft chat with Giants of the Oerth on a daily basis! You'll forgive me, I hope, when my mind gets occasionally blown.

    "I've battled some of the worst the UnderOerth can produce, from Dark Olve to Derro; from Daemon to Devil; don't doubt that I can hold my own, if needs me... but you're in a rarified atmosphere to be rubbin' elbows with Mighty Cuthbert (thrice blest be his Holy Cudgel)! Now him, yes, I've heard he does walk the Oerth, along with Fahrlanghan too, from time to time. So what did they look like? Didja see his Cudgel? Tell me everything, don't leave out a thing!

    "Boy! Make with the drinks, on my tab! Drinks for the house!"

    A fascinated Fred sits back and prepares to be further amazed.

    Emyn says, "You've been to the underdark then? Isilme would be very interested in speaking with you, given she is Drow. I have never been there myself but I hear it is a dangerous place. We've fought some creatrues from the lower planes..devils, daemons, demons as well and they were truly dangerous foes. That you made it back at all by yourself is a miracle."

    Fred gets the feeling Emyn is starting to warm up to him a little.

    "A trip to the underdark has always interested me but we have never felt strong enough to take it on," muses Hepla. "You will be a great addition and if we ever do take on the underdark a great guide. You survived and are sane to tell us about it. And I am not a giant. I am just tall enough for my feet to reach the ground when I stand up."

    "It'll take a mighty good reason to go back down there, Hepla," says Fred. "That or a team of dragons...It was not...pleasant. In the least. I lost five good friends there. No. Not again." Fred calls out to Elrae, "What about that ballad then good ser?"

    "Yes, but someday...maybe. I hear that this is mithril there." Hepla's hands shake a little at the mention of mithril. "I like that stuff."

    At hearing about Hepla's love of mithril, he says, "Perhaps we can find enough for our wedding bands?"

    "It is much to costly for us to buy it, we must earn it by finding it. The day will come. Besides you are more precious to me then even mithriel."

    "The answer may lie in Dorob Kilthduum," says Thorgrim. "Isilme recently learned something about that in her studies. Perhaps she will tell us more when we are finished."

    "I have never been to the Underdark," adds Elrae, "but if I do I will find those Dark Creepers that stole my Ebony Fly and repay them in kind." Elrae tunes his cittern and begins his tale of meeting Derry, Gotrek and Thorgrim. He goes along with the moat house the endless hordes of ghouls, and how Derry nearly killed the entire party with fire. Along the way Berenn, Hepla and Banshee joined the group along with a turn coat named Hung-Lo. The adventures chronicled Gotrek's mad dash through the temple slaying everything in sight and Elrae's quad-bow. The party duped the evil priests and nearly died again when some of them flung themselves into a vat of evil acid. There were the travels to the Elemental nodes and Hepla's befriending of the black dragons and merfolk in the water node and the meeting of the giant sized human Taki. The tale concludes with the encounter with Iuz and St Cutherbert and the party in Hommlet.

    "Aye, those Dark Creepers were certainly a nuisance," Thorgrim says, touching his eyepatch. "I now keep a spare patch in my Portable Hole. But Hung-Lo (aka Brother Millerjoi) wasn't a turncoat...he revealed himself to be a secret super-spy, once we encountered him again amongst the Slavers...much as you and Emyn desired to slay him and all his compatriots. Lucky we are that no survivors returned to tell our shameful tale to the Dragon Temple."

    Isilme spends time with Sir Deleveu, setting up Galadriel as a lady in waiting amongst his retinue. In the mean time, you guys end up having a successful night. Nirifel sings again, and is even more entertaining than the others. Of course, Sir Deleveu seems rather smitten by Isilme, or at least intrigued. In the end, he gives you an escort for crossing into the Olven lands. They will carry the banner of House Deleveu, so that the elves don't just shoot you on sight!

    Hepla comes up to Deleveu, "Mi Lord, excuse me for not greeting you sooner but I waited for Lord Berenn to take the first step and now that he has I greet you also."

    He is pleased to meet Hepla, and gives the appropriate pleasantries. You learn in your evening with him that he really is not all that big on "nobility." Maybe that comes from being a half-elf, where you already don't belong most of the time. He is much more of a ranger, and he finds that he has much more in common with Berenn than he had imagined. In fact, as they start to share stories of the forest, their adventures, etc., he actually kind of loses interest in Isilme!

    [Berenn OOC: LOL! Berenn stole Isilme's future husband!]

    Berenn feels much more comfortable now that he realizes he didn't offend Sir Deleveu and is willing to exchange stories at will. Berenn hopes he begin a friendship since Sir Deleveu and Berenn have a lot in common.

    Fred listens with full attention and admiration to Elrae's ballad, and applauds wildly at the conclusion. But the one thing that caught his attention above all the rest was the mention of an Ebony Fly! He murmurs, "I want an Ebony Fly someday..." then "Bravo Elrae! Well played! Sounds like your troupe has had some amazing adventures. I'm looking forward to whatever's next. By the last team was called 'The Prize Crew' (don't ask, it's embarrassing). Does this group have a name?"

    "None that we'd care to mention," Thorgrim says. "Although the idea has been proposed before." Thorgrim packs a pipeload of Old Toby, takes a draw, and offers it to Fred. "I once ran into a band of adventurers dubbing themselves The Fearsome Blades of Justice. A dangerous lot, those."

    "Some call us the Heroes of Hommlet," says Isilme. "Its the closest we have ever had to a group name. It is true we have met the Old One, in fact I even resisted the full force of his powers of temptation. I would not care to repeat the experience though." She sighs and mumbles something about her "precious golden orb;" clearly the experience shook her up. Isilme also takes this opportunity to present Thorgrim with the gift of a pipe made of dragon bone shaped to be a dragon blowing smoke and fire when lit. Finally, she tells the group she is "leaving to attend to more pressing matters."

    "Holy Smokes!" Thorgrim exclaims. He looks Isilme in the eyes. "I shall treasure it, always." He loads it up. "Share a smoke with me and Fred? No? Godspeed Isilme."

    Fred nods thanks to Thorgrimm, offering over his pouch of Dyvers Durham as well, "Where I come from, every gang of toughs, band of mercs and covey of adventurers had a moniker. I mean, look at them Circle of Eight fellahs. Now that's a great name! I was in the Insane Jesters when I was 16, then traveled with the Black Band (of Stoink - not the Black Band of Wormhall - the Wormhall boys were wankers), then there was the Seven Fingered Hand of Justice, and finally the Prize Crew." Fred leans back and enjoys a bowl of Thorgrimm's pipeweed, trying for impressive smoke rings. and looks admiringly at his new pipe.

    "Had the Hand of Justice met the Blades of Justice, would the Hand wield the Blade, or the Blade sever the hand, I wonder?" laughs Thorgrim.

    The rest of the evening is spent in pleasant conversations which last well into the night. Eventually, everyone beds down, though nobody gets much sleep. They all know well that on the morrow they enter the Fey Realm of Celene, which could be a far more dangerous place than the Suss Forest.....

    Last edited by ragnar on Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:49 pm; edited 5 times in total

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    Sat May 03, 2014 2:51 pm  

    Looking forward to more of this party's exploits, Ragnar. Thanks for posting them. Smile

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    Sun May 04, 2014 9:42 am  

    Just added a long chunk to that first post, which was really just a placeholder while I prepared my next summary. You will have to go back and read it again. Sorry. :)
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    Mon May 05, 2014 4:30 pm  
    Part 2 - Crossing into Celene

    Starday, 8th of Patchwall
    In the morning you awake to another nice day. It's partly cloudy, though warm, and steadily reaches to almost 80 with just a slight breeze. As you leave, you also meet the Viscount's messenger. He has been waiting here for months, for the elves to give him permission to enter their lands. As you are entering Celene, he asks Berenn if he would bring the Viscount's letter to the Queen of Celene, requesting an ambassador. Berenn will see the queen gets the Viscount's letter.

    Isilme says a tearful goodbye to Gladriel, and gives her a 250 gp Sapphire to keep her comfortable in the days ahead - starting her new life in court among other elves. "Your service to the poor in Hommlet and to my church has not gone unnoticed. Should you ever need anything dearest sister send a message to me or Lareth at our temple."

    [Isilme OOC: Let it be noted that for her travels into Celene Isilme will place all her magic items in the LLL and only be wearing:
    -Her dark green dragon hide: leather armour, hooded cloak, boots, gloves, mask and belt/pouches. (to be completely covered and travel incognito)
    -Moerlather sheathed in Dragon bone at her side.
    -Her cloak will be clasped with the Golden Arms of Furondy Brooch she was given for returning the Prince.
    -She will maintain a "Seeming" spell while in Celene to appear as a tanned wild elf with light brown hair should she be asked to unhood/unmask at some point or skin should show.]

    Hepla morphs into a black dragon when they start to travel so that she can do some scouting of their route ahead. She will return to human form after an hour and take any break in travel to herb hunt.

    Emyn readies himself and Mortadella for the journey.

    [Emyn OOC: Man, I miss playing Derry! Good memories. Thanks!]

    [Berenn OOC: The rest of the party misses the days of him burning down half of the moat house with the party still inside ... Oi Vey! Of course nothing tops Vestron launching fireballs into the party at point blank range! Fun times! Can't wait for Rags to list that part of our adventure.]

    As long as Fred won't slow the party, he will always prefer walking to riding. Otherwise, he spends travel time comparing travel notes with Rakk, Elrae and the others, esp. those who have travelled extensively. Also, Fred makes a game of trying to spot the Olves who he KNOWS must be shadowing them. If successful, he waves merrily to them. "What a beautiful day, yes? Y'know, this is my first time in Celene proper. Beee-youtiful place! Hey d'ya think they named the Kingdom first or the moon first? Hey Isilme! That's nicely done! You look gorgeous! Wish I could do that!"

    Hepla asks,"Who are you waving to?"

    With a smile and a wink, "Just waving to our brave and ever-so-stealthy escorts! If ya ask me, it was the Hobniz gods who taught the world about stealth, not the Olven ones, eh?"
    Fred chuckles, hoping no one took offense, and begins to scan the mighty Ips and Bronzewoods along the route.

    You enter the wooded realm of Celene, the border of which is marked more by a feeling than anything else. Since the southern part of the Kron Hills were also wooded, there really isn't much of a change. But it somehow "feels" different. Hepla is flying up above the trees, and when she comes down towards the ground, about a dozen arrows streak towards her. She is hit by 7 arrows for 42 damage! She falls immediately unconscious, and plummets through the trees, branches slapping her and snapping off as she tumbles, half dragon-half human. By the time she hits the ground, she has changed back to human form, and her leg snaps backwards as she lands on it, taking another [25] from the fall.

    Vaddara acts quickly and draws the power of the sun itself into Hepla, casting Greater Healing Rays. Great healing rays shine upon her as she falls, healing [20], and she regains another [7] as she shifts back into human form. She still hits the ground as noted, taking the [25] and breaking her leg horribly. She is not moving. Emyn runs to her, and finds her barely alive; she is at -7! Hepla lies helpless in Emyn's arms.

    [Hepla OOC: If those rays did not hit her before she hit the ground, she should be dead. Thank you Vaddara.]

    About two-dozen elves simultaneously surround you, bows pointed at the party from all directions. When they see Hepla's form rather than a black dragon, they stop and look to their leader. He lifts a lightly chainmailed arm, and the elves hold their fire, but continue to cover Hepla. Some point at the party as well.

    "Move and you are all dead," he says, his voice icy bespeaking a tone used to command. "Who are you, and what business have you in the Realm?" He points at Hepla's bleeding, broken body. "And who, or what, is that?"

    "I am part of but do not speak for our group," says Vaddarra, her blue skin taking the elves aback a bit. "I can say that we mean you no harm, and it was not our intention to trespass. May I help our downed friend as it appears her leg is broken? Take aim at me if you choose but my intentions are only to help my friend."

    He looks at Vaddara, obviously confused. He nods his head, allowing her to move. Vaddara prays again to the gods, casting a CLW on Hepla, healing [8] and bringing her back to 1hp. When Vaddara calls upon the Olven gods of the north, the elves look even more confused. "Are you of the Nimlosa Edhel {roughly translated as White Snow Elf}?" he asks, lowering his bow a bit.

    With humility Vaddara replied, "I believe I am that which you speak. No-one has called me Nimlosa Edhe,l but I am from the Northern Frost lands where we are called snow or frost elves. If you look closely and in the sunlight, you will notice my hair is not actually white. Vaddara hands the leader an Ivory carved Great White Bear. I am Vaddara, and I appreciate you allowing me help my friend." She then casts Repair Injury, healing Hepla's broken leg.

    "That is our name for your kind," he says. "Though I thought you from the western mountains, not the Northern wastes." He sees the healing of Hepla's broken leg, and lowers his bow. He waves a hand to the other elves as well, and they all lower their weapons. "Only the just use such powers," he says, "and only the most righteous can call upon the healing rays of the sun itself." He bows to you slightly. "I am Artalian Elensumé, Warden of Sim Baelesti."

    "We are honored to meet you and your people," says Vaddara, bowing back.

    "Greetings Brother," Isilme says in ancient elvish, also offering a deep bow. Then in perfect standard elvish she continues. "We are friends to the Celene, and known to your noble elvish house of Ridathmah. Some among us stand as those who defeated the evil that was the Temple of Elemental Evil, and most recently executed an old enemy of Celene, the evil dragon Caustolorinous. To bear truth of these words you can see many of us wear his hide. We have come bearing this news, a message from the Viscount, and gifts for your queen that belong in the hands of the Elvish people. Friend, please see us escorted to house Ridathmah."

    He is taken aback by what Isilme says, but the dragon armor speaks for itself. The other elves come up, and with awe they touch the armor which various people are wearing. Apparently, Caustichlorinus was well-known to the Olvenfolk.

    "We have also come to return the property of one of the elven lords who fell at the hands at Caustichlorinus," says Berenn, "that his surviving family members may find some peace."

    "Freindilin Weirkein?" he asks, hardly believing your words. "He fell nearly 300 years ago!"

    Isilme says in elvish "His words are true. I found the Elvish plate, shield, and blade of a noble of the Celene near the lair of Claustornious. I know how rare and important these items are to our people and intend to return. Will you escort us to the Noble house of those we mentioned?"

    Fred faded into the shadows as soon as this encounter began, then faded back in again when he saw the Olves making nicey. He stands still, trying to look as respectable as possible. He nods to the nearest of the bowmen, "How's it goin'?" murmurs Fred in Olven.

    Hepla stands, still a little shaky, in elvish she says to Vaddara, "Thank you for the healing. I remember descending then black pain, bright light then blackness.". She starts pulling out arrows. "it looks like six, no wait," she pulls another from her back side, "seven of you are good shots. I see we are not fighting so THIS must have been a mistake." She casts a cantrip to repair her dress. Hepla sees Star sitting by the head elf's shadow, claws out. "Star, no. Please excuse the cat, she gets upset if I die. She must punish me when I die. My name is Hepla and we come as friends. Why did you shoot me?"

    The nearest bowman looks down at Fred, but says nothing. Meanwhile, Artalian speaks to Hepla. "I am sorry, but you are lucky to be alive. Black Dragons, while rare, are not unknown. For your own safety, you should choose your forms more....wisely."

    "I understand," says Hepla, "but I have always found black dragons friendly. Maybe my friends are special."

    He then turns back to Isilme and Berenn. He accepts that you have valid business in Celene, and will have you escorted south. "Vestron's sister is Countess Tillahi," he says. "She is favored at court. You will likely need to travel to the capital, Enstad. I shall have you escorted as far south as Yamymil. It is only a few hours to the south."

    Islilme thanks Artalian in ancient elvish and urges her riding horse forward to follow their escort. As they depart she asks him in standard elvish, "can you provide one of your scouts to escort us all the way to Enstad or arrange for another to escort us the rest of the way once at Yamymil? To help us avoid any more "misunderstandings" from happening..." She nods in the direction of Hepla.

    "No," he says, shaking his head. "My scouts are tasked with guarding the northern borders. They will escort you as far as Yamymil, but from there you will have to find your own way."

    Freddy goggles at Lady Hepla's words, but says nothing. He just marvels at the feeling of not being riddled with arrows. He'd heard stories of intruders being shot without warning on Celene's borders by the grim Grey Olven borderers. Long ago, Fred travelled with a Grey Olve wizard named Iovannu Curufinwe' - the two ended up as friends after years of their personalities clashing. Smiling at the memory, he asks the nearest borderer, in elvish, "So tell me, brother, what was named first, the moon or your fine kingdom?"

    The elf sighs, and walks away. "Halflings," you think you hear him say. Berenn thanks Artalian for his assistance, as Thorgrim finallys steps forward.

    "I am called Thorgrim, and am also a healer. I cannot fault your actions, unwise as was my friend's choice of disguise." He inspects Hepla to make sure she is all better. He casts a few more healing spells, as Fred moves up beside him.

    "So whaddaya think of these guys?" he whispers. "Ever meet a Grey Olve before? And what's YOUR opinion on The Big Question?" Thorgrim just sighs, quite reminiscent of the elf's reaction.

    Emyn keeps a very close watch on these grey elves and whipsers back to Fred, "I fear they are as bloodthirsty as our former colleague Vestron was. We must be more careful."

    Rakk finally removes his helmet and bows to Artalian. "Please convey my greetings to Lord Etalier, commander of the Border Guards. Tell him, Rakk remembers his promise, but not yet is the time."

    [Rakk OOC: Rakk's been in Celene before, you see. The guards will recognize him. And the Queen and court know him. Etalier was another member of his old group. When it broke up he went to command the Border Guard of Celene. We adventured thru here several times. Rakk promised he would help him clear on old fort in the mountains of Celene of humanoids and undead. Belongs to his family from long ago.]

    Hepla looks at Artalian and says,"I am sorry. You asked what I am, and I only answered who I am. I am Hepla a human witch, it's nice to meet you."

    The elf nods to Hepla as she picks out the last arrow. "I am sorry about that," he says. "Please, refrain from using magic within the realm unless absolutely necessary. Outsiders are not generally allowed within our borders, and are never exactly welcome. Your presence will be unsettling to many, I imagine, and that is without using magic."

    He also mentions that he knows Lord Etalier, commander of the Western Elvenguard and the fortress of Ren Baelesti. "If you fought with him, then you must be alright."

    You part ways, though a couple of elves travel south with you. Berenn says that he is sure there are another half-dozen along your flanks, though you never see them. The trail begins to drop in elevation as you wind down a couple of valleys. From a small spur, you catch site of a long valley cutting across your path. A large greenish river cuts through the center of it, flowing off to your left. You are told that is the Emerald River, which passes through the town of Yamymil just a couple hours downstream. After a few hours of travel, you reach the town of Yamymil.

    Yamymil is a rather large town, at least for elves. You estimate maybe a thousand or so elves may live here. There is a large bridge crossing the river, and the path turns to paved bricks before you reach the bridge.

    Before the town, you are met by a group of elven guardsmen, armed with long spears and with longbows across their backs. They speak with your escort, and after a bit allow you to enter. There is no inn, per se, but there is a large common hall in the center of town, which is used by elven travelers, what few there are. You may rest there for the night.

    Hepla asks if Star can wander around and hunt for mice. The elves do take an unusual interest in Star, bending down to pet her. Soon a half-dozen other cats appear, and they approach Star. Then Star and the elven cats all take off. "It seems Star has her own set of friends," muses Hepla. "I pity any mice they find." She adds with a giggle.

    Meanwhile, Noot greets them in halting elvish. "Greetings, brothers. I am the one who slew Caustichlorinus."

    The elves look at Noot, and one says something about him probably being a bit slow.

    Fredegar Bugscuttle mumbles under his breath after seeing his friend Noot being dissed,
    "Mumble mumble Grey Olven grumble stuck-up mumble not as stealthy as they think they are grumble mumble..."

    [OOC: Jojo will be riding securely in Fred's haversack with all these felines slinking around.]

    Rakk says loudly,"Noot is the one who finished the dragon. We call him, Dragonslayer."

    The guards don't really have much to say. They act quite haughty, and certainly don't seem too inclined to open up to a mere half-breed. When Rakk talks, now that gets their attention! Of course, they still don't really care too much for what he has to say, and, in fact, they pretty much remain silent throughout the journey.

    Isilme tries to use Rope Trick to create a place to rest for herself, but for some reason, Isilme's Rope Trick spell doesn't work. She then tries to summon her chest, which appears as usual. She sighs with relief, then sends it back to the Ethereal. Further, nobody finds anyone who knows Vestron or his family. Of course, Celene is a large place.

    Emyn is impressed by the architecture and comments, "Nice place. It doesn't compare to the Cathedral of Trithereon but it does seem they have tried their best and that is something to be admired."

    Thorgrim whispers to Emyn, "Much as you enjoy exercising your muscles, your tongue is one that could do with less."

    "Why Thorgrim, the simple truth is never said with malice. Our hosts certainly know this with all of their years of wisdom and knowledge," says Emyn plainly. It's clear he doesn't get that discretion is sometimes needed.

    "True," says Berenn. "But we are guests and it is better to be somewhat more polite when you are in another's house."

    "You make a good point, Berenn. I will try to be more discrete. Etiquette was never my strong point."

    Islme bursts out into musical laughter. She even wipes a tear from her eye she ends up laughing so hard. "The simple truth about others is never said with malice dearest Thorgrim!"

    Emyn gets the feeling that he's the butt of the joke but doesn't quite get it. In either way, he lets it pass rather than cause the party trouble.

    Fred giggles and walks over to pat Emyn on the back. "Hey, the truth always has its place! As my auntie Alliya always says, 'Honesty is the best image'."

    Rakk looks over,"Truth changes as wisdom grows. The elves build not what they can grow. If you look closely, the buildings are plants grown into shapes, still living. That, your builders cannot match."

    "Mm!" Thorgrim grunts. "It seems to me so...impermanent. 'Twould take much magic to make it, and more to keep it, methinks. And how to defend against invasion? More magic!" He takes out his pipe and lights it. "Wood certainly has its uses. Especially once it's dead. Me own home is proof of that! Still, your notions interest me... Living wood. Imagine."

    Nirifel entertains in the common room, and her voice is such that she draws many of the elves there. Soon the room if full, with nearly a couple hundred elves listening. When she finishes, they are quite impressed and pleased. Elrae plays his cittern, and the elves are equally pleased by its wonderful notes. Few musical instruments are as pleasing! Elrae will try to learn some Elvish songs while in Celene. They are more than happy to share their music, and a few elves spend the night playing and singing with him.

    In the morning, you have a half-dozen elves which will be more than happy to escort you to Enstad. Rakk really doesn't know the way, as he didn't come this way. He entered Celene from west, via the Lortmils, so he doesn't know this area.

    "Do we have a mission other than giving back the armor in Enstad or beyond?" asks Vaddara, being new to the group.

    "Yes," says Thorgrim grimly. "To track down Markessa, an evil elf bitch who delights in torture, slavery, and surgical experimentation, and slay her. We search for the lost city said to hold the remnants of the Suel Imperium. She's got some sort of connection to that (she had coins in her possession that were minted in the ancient Suel Imperium), and we have evidence that she fled to the Suss Forest, the same place this lost city is supposed to be. On the way, we will beware of kobolds."

    Noot grimaces. "Brrrrrr! Evil Kolbalds! Leave them alone! Don't go near them! Keep your distance! Avoid them! Stay away! Arghhh!"

    Berenn shakes his head when Vaddara casts a questioning look at the two. "We foolishly attacked them in their fortress without properly scouting it or without a plan of action. The expedition was doomed before it started. The Kobolds were not to be feared, just our general stupidity."

    You spend the next four days walking through Celene. To your amazement, the forest thins out after about a day or so, and then you find open grasslands. In the distance you see centaurs running across open fields. There is also much farmland along the many small creeks and rivers. The weather stays nice with clear or partly cloudy skies, but no rain. You eventually make it to the capital, Enstad.

    "It is refreshing to venture to someplace beautiful," says Elrae, "instead of travelling to evil-infested strongholds. I remember an elvish song sung every morning for a year for an elf that committed a crime against nature."

    When the sun in the morning peeps over the hill
    and caresses the rosebuds on my windowsill,
    my heart fills with gladness when I hear the trill
    of the birds in the treetops around any old hill.
    Tra-la-la, fiddle-dee-dee-dee,
    it gives me a pain to dance and sing this, must I do it again?
    Tra-la-la, fiddle-dee-dee-dee, there’s penance to do,
    how happy I'll be when it’s finally through!"

    Emyn looks around and says, "Maybe I was wrong about this place. There is beauty here and I guess sometimes, you don't need to tear something down in order to build something up. For some reason, this place makes me feel at peace."

    You follow a large river, which winds through a valley back towards the Northwest. In the far distance you see the peaks of the Lortmil Mountains. Very quickly, you clear a small pass through the low rolling hills, and there ahead of you is Enstad, capital of the elven kingdom of Celene.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat May 17, 2014 1:49 pm  
    Part 3 - Enstad

    Waterday, 12 Patchwall (581)

    You have noted that the weather is almost identical every day, though there are sometimes short periods of soft rainfall. Still, the weather is basically nice all the time. When you ask, the elves don't seem all that eager to talk about it, other than to shrug. In fact, they seem a bit sad about it.

    Anyway, you also noted the many horses seemingly running free in the plains. Altan says they look remarkably similar to the ponies of his people, and he is quite amazed to watch them. [just something you would have noticed!] Of this the elves will speak. The elven horses are not native to Celene, but they are the descendents of horses brought here many centuries ago, after the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire. Thus, they ARE related to the steppe ponies of which Altan is familiar.

    Eventually, you reach the city. It is truly an awe-inspiring sight. The green hill of Amunanar was located in the steep-walled valley of Tumcalina (translated as "The Valley of Light"). Upon the crown of the hill the Elves raised their largest settlement, Enerrestad (shortened by humans to Enstad). The walls and terraces were white, and the sand in the streets was said to be of grains of diamond, and white crystal stairs climbed from the fertile land beneath to the great gates.

    The centre of the city was dominated by Thoauthion's tower, Mindon Karevela. Beneath the tower was the House of Lathilion, first High King of Celene. It was here that Queen Yolanda made her home.


    [Vaddarra OOC: Someone shake Vaddara and snap her out of the trance as she stares at the awe of Enerrestad (preferably before she drools on herself).]

    Hepla, with Star on her shoulder is amazed. She says in high elvish, "Beautiful". Star just meows softly. Berenn stands in awe of the sight. Even the other elves stand in awe for a while, before they finally compose themselves. "No matter how long I live," says one, "the first view of Enerrestad always makes me pause."

    "Legend has it Queen Yolanda is the most beautiful creature to ever walk the green Oerth," says Elrae. "Oh to lay eyes on her, I'd be able to write ten thousand sonnets."

    "Aye, she is beautiful", says Rakk. "The city always gives one pause, and so does it's Queen."

    "I will be amazed if she is more beautiful then my mom," says Hepla. "Maybe as beautiful but not more so."

    Isilme takes it all in quietly. She is not as impressed as the others, having been to Arvendor. Still, she remains silent. As the party enters the great city, well, there just isn't anything to say. Which is good, because I don't really know how to describe something as awe-inspiring as this city. You are absolutely thunderstruck by the city architecture, and even Thorgrim has to admit that there is more to elves than just running around the forest with bows. While you are passing across the great bridge, a couple of elves point at you. They then rush towards the bridge, stopping you as you reach the other side. One steps up and nods his head at Rakk.

    "It has been a long time, Rakk Olve-Friend," says the tall elven warrior. Rakk recognizes him as Larail Iakashyr, one of the elves which fought alongside him years ago in the Lortmils.

    [DM OOC: Rakk was created years ago, and he played in Arneson's game way back in the day. I let the player bring him into this campaign, as it was one of his favorites, and he seemed to be a good fit. It was also simply cool to have a character who actually came with such a history. As DM, I have let him privately clue me in on many things which Rakk did decades ago, and I've then incorporated a lot of it into this campaign. This is the first time I've done so, as Larail Iakashyr was an NPC in an epic war fought on Celene's border back in the day. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention this, as it was unique in the my DMing history.]

    Rakk clasps arms with Larail, "Good to see you are still in fine form, my friend. Keep those bowstrings dry and warm, never know when we'll need them again. Ha, ha!"

    You move on, and are able to find excellent accommodations at another inn. It costs nothing, and the elves provide you with food, water, wine if you wish it, and nice baths. They pretty much insist everyone bathe! Hepla enjoys a hot bath. Star needs to be convinced. Hepla succeeds then needs another bath.

    "Impressive..." Thorgrim says. "I see here they build in stone. Very wise."

    Very shortly, you are summoned to stand before Queen Yolande.

    The high court of Celene was ablaze with light. High above carpets as green as the rich summer grass, domed ceilings showed the black velvet of the cloudless sky with its myriad stars and the two moons, pale Luna waxing and azure Celene waning, were both visible overhead. Fantastically carved and delicately wrought lanters of all sorts, many with crystal and gems inset to refract and color their candles, competed with tapers reflected by mirrors of glass, copper, silver, and even gold positioned throughout the many-chambered palace. The Grand Court was awash in golden light, while other courts and salons adjoining it were either dim or bright, amethyst-hued, silvery, or illuminated so as to rival the cool depths of sea or ocean. All was harmonious and enchanting, each place exciting and different.

    As carefully as the dozens of chambers were lit, so too their furnishings were chosen, complementing and enhancing the effect of each area so as to please the eye. Plants and flowers were everywhere, likewise blending with light and color, adding their special fragrances to the hall or court they graced. Here, night-blooming jasmine was a centerpiece in a salon of deep blue; there, green fronds and leafy branches screened yet another alcove whose dim interior sparkled with a rainbow of little colored dots as bejeweled lamps turned and swayed in the gentle zephyrs that flitted throughout the palace, causing even candle flames to dance and bow in seeming rhythm to the sweet strains of elvish music that accompanied them.

    The polished alabaster of the floor of the Grand Court bore no rug nor carpet. Hundreds of slippered feet glided silently across the floor, stepping to solemn air or spritely melody. Gray elves and faeries in indigo, gold, and white, purple, silver, and yellow, their high elven kin in soft hues of dove gray, blue, violet, green, and even a sprinkling of sylvan elves, in chocolate brown and scarlet moved thus to the dance. More incredible still were the arrays of gorgeous jewelry--diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, opals, and every other sort of gemstone imaginable glittered in the wildly reflecting light. Obtrusive only by their contrast of garb, archers in green adn brown and royal guards in silvered chainmail whose splendor was belied by the wood and steel of partisan and greatsword stood rigidly along walls and in alcoved balconies. Even here, precautions were taken.

    Silver horns and gold pipes sounded, and the throng parted so as to open a wide circle in the middle of the chamber. Coronets and diadems of noble lords and ladies formed the inner circle, and the handsome princes and beautiful princesses bent their knees and bowed their heads of platinum and golden tresses, raven-haired high elves, auburn-locked sylvan elves too. The Queen was entering.

    A bard sings her entrance in the most perfect tones Elrae has ever heard, reciting her titles: "Her Fey Majesty," the "Faerie Queen," the "Perfect Flower of Celene," and "Lady Rhalta of All Elvenkind," Queen Yolande Lathilion, High Queen of Celene.

    Hepla bows. Atlan, overcome with the magnificence of the whole scene, will kneel on one knee and bow his head. Berenn bows. Vaddara bows with respect. Rakk bows his great head, and waits. Before the Queen arrives, he would have looked for Etalier or others of his old group. He doesn't see Etalier, though Larail returns with a couple more elves. Rakk doesn't remember their names immediately, but they remember him. Hard to forget Rakk! They also served with him in the Lortmils. They tell him that Etalier is yet in the west, commanding the Western Elvenguard at Ren Baelesti.

    Hepla waits for her chance to speak, she looks around the court to see if there is a clerk or someone to let the queen know that she would like to talk.

    Rakk leans forward and, for once, whispers quietly to Hepla. "Move forward slightly, bow or curtsey, wait til she speaks to you. Good luck, bright one."

    "Thanks," Hepla moves forward slightly, courtseys and waits, Star still on her shoulder.

    Emyn just keeps his mouth shut for fear of stumbling over his tongue in front of the Queen. He's not used to royalty, let alone elvish Queens.

    Isilme will show whatever minimum courtesy is expected in an elvish court and wait to be given permission to speak. She is not in awe, or even impressed like the others, she has stood before a goddess. When it appears the party can speak without violating protocol, trying to use all her skill in diplomacy and natural charisma.

    Isilme says in ancient elvish "Greetings Noble Queen" and bows. Then in standard elvish she continues, "We are the 'Heroes of Hommlet', friends of the Celene, and known to the noble elvish house of Ridathmah by the Countess Tillahi whom we saved. Some among us stand as those who defeated the great evils that were the rebirth of the Temple of Elemental Evil, the slave lords of the Pomarj, and resurgence of the Temple of the Elder Elemental God and He Who Should Not Be Named. Most recently we executed an old enemy of Celene - the evil dragon Caustichlorinus. To bear truth of these words you can see many of us wear his loathsome hide. We have come to bear you this news, a message from the Viscount, and gifts that belong in the hands of the Elvish people."

    At first the Queen seems a bit annoyed by the breach of protocol by the strange elf. She levels lilac eyes upon Isilme and speaks sternly, "There had better be a good reason for this," she says. After Isilme explains, she relaxes a bit. As Isilme summons her chest, the Queen's guard rush in front of her and you hear the sound of dozens of bowstrings being drawn taught!

    "Oh, it is just a Leomund's Hut," she says, waving her hand, though her face is clearly showing some annoyance.

    Isilme opens the chest, revealing the weapons and armor found in Caustichlorinus's lair. "Here are Elvish plate, shield, and the blade of the Noble Freindilin Weirkein who fell nearly 300 years ago, to be restored to your kingdom with honor." She places the items on the floor ahead of the party or offers to present them, hoping she did not offend.

    When Isilme produces the gear of Sir Weirkein, a chorus of whispered exclamations ripple through the assembled elves. One of the Queen's guard visibly stumbles for a second, his eyes wide. The queen places a tender hand on his shoulder and nods to him, and the guard steps forward, kneels down, and places hands reverently upon the armor. When he looks up, there are tears in his eyes.

    "I see the items are restored to their proper place," says Isilme softly to the Queen's guard who approached. "Be well brother elf." She then sends Leomunds Labile Locker back to the Ethereal.

    "Great Queen," she says to the queen in elvish. "I have also come bearing another gift to restore to the elvish people as a token of the truth of the words I will soon bear to you and the goodwill I wish to foster with your people." She unbuckles her dragon hide sword belt and presents Maerthorlear, sheathed in intricately carved Dragon Bone, in front of the party. "Returned to the hands of the elvish people is Maerthorlear, Song of the Warrior." The elves stand mute as she gives a brief history of the blade and those heroic elves deemed worthy to bear it as learned in her studies. She pauses for the queen to respond or react.

    Thorgrim stands mute, until he sees Isilme give up her prize sword. Then he gasps.

    [DM OOC: YOU'RE GIVING UP MAERTHORLEAR???? It's not every day a player absolutely surprises a DM, and boy was this an unforeseen event! I guess I should have had the elves remove all of your weapons first. It's only logical. So, I will assume everyone has been disarmed. However, I also will assume that Isilme, knowing this would likely have been the case, had Maerthorlear in the chest.]

    The Queen is stunned when Isilme also draws Maerthorlear from the chest and presents it to her. She reached out for the blade, but a sharp cry stopped her. An old geezer of an elf trod up, frowning, his staff making loud clattering noises in the suddenly silent chamber. The Royal Court Mage approached.

    "How now, Onselvon!" said the Queen. "You think I cannot tell a true relic of the olves from a trap, cousin?"

    "Your Majesty," he replied with a slight bow. "I was simply being prudent. What would your father say, if I were to do otherwise?"

    "Oh, alright," she replied, then stepped back. Onselvon began a quick casting, then nodded, as if having a conversation. After a few minutes, he seemed satisfied. "It is safe," Your Highness," he said. Then, turning to Isilme with an incredulous look, he asked her, "You would give up Maerthorlear? Though the blade well and truly chooses you as its wielder, you would return it to the realm?" He looks back at the Queen, who also shows a very perplexed look. He then looks back, "Who are you?"

    "May I unmask myself without fear of harm and speak?" asks Isilme.

    Hepla silently asks the blessing of the Cat Lord on this, "My lord, as a cat you like surprises, bless my friend as she reveals herself and brings a surprise on this whole court."

    After a nod from the queen that seems somewhere between curiosity and caution, and sith a silent prayer to her goddess, Isilme lets her seeming spell drop and unmasks, revealing her ebon skin. She shakes loose her long silver hair and returns the Queens level gaze with her own violet eyes. She says in Elvish (voice booming through the chamber with her skills as a singer and song mage) "I am Isilme Battledancer, servant of the Goddess Elistraee. I stand before you as representative of those Drow who feel her calling and wish to turn from their evil ways and walk with their brothers and sisters once again in the light of the sun."

    She then takes a knee and bows her head, "I am the one who must make the first step to bridge the gap for those who have fallen and earn the trust and friendship of the Celene. I return my dear Maoerlather to the Elvish people that you may know the truth of my words through the sincerity of action. It is my hope that someday the followers of Eilistraee can earn the trust and respect of the Elvish people and once again and walk freely with their brothers and sisters in Celene.

    To earn that trust, if you would have me good Queen, I would serve as agent and bladesinger of the Celene and dispense justice to those who have brought harm to elves all over Oerth."

    [Isilme OOC: Given the implications of the moment....the first time a Drow has set foot in the court of Celene and is attempting to reconcile for the followers of her church with the Queen..... returning the elvish blade back to the people seems an appropriate gesture. Magic Items are still just items...she is making history.]

    There are shrieks in the room, and again, weapons are quickly drawn, bowstrings pulled taught. The entire court erupts in bedlam. Some elves flee, others fall down as they press each other, push away from Isilme. A few reach for weapons they do not wield, while others use personal magics, even spells. Even those who cannot necessarily sense magic, recognize the telltale signs of strong magics being cast. Colors flash around, as defensive spells are cast, magic weapons created and summoned. The Queen is roughly pulled backwards by her guard, and Onselvon raises a hand towards Isilme, a large diamond ring flashing brightly. A glittering field of light suddenly flashes around Isilme, encompassing her completely.

    Isilme stands unmoving with hands at her side so as not to alarm anyone. One eyebrow raised that entire court full of elves are that afraid of a lone drow that they are wetting themselves like small children.

    [Isilme OOC: Gee for once it would nice to be a real Drow and not just an elf painted black. Magic Resistance would come in handy right now. Although if I am coming to harm, I could use my ability to dodge an attack to avoid some damage.]

    [DM OOC: It's not perfect, and you lost it LONG ago because you've been away from the Underdark. And it is BECAUSE you're a drow that you just threw the entire elven court into chaos!]

    Anyway, the elves move quickly, and guards hustle the Queen away [like the secret service would do with the president!] An older elf warrior, very tall and proud with exquisite weapons and armor of the purest mithril order the guards to take you into custody. Others surround the party as well, and even Rakk's friend seems torn by the current situation. He tells Rakk not to resist, that you can work all this out. However, he is also clearly shaken by the revelation of a dark elf in the chamber, before the Queen herself.

    Thorgrim steps forward, attempting to cast Sacred Guardian on Isilme. He presses forward, throwing a couple elves aside, and touches her. Nothing happens. His magic doesn't seem to be able to reach Isilme. Suddenly Thorgrim is clubbed in the back of the head and knocked out.

    Isilme is "arrested" and taken to the prisons, far below the palace. The rest of the party is hustled off to quarters in a locked tower, and placed under guard. They are not necessarily prisoners, but not really free to move about either. Their "quarters" are quite elaborately and beautifully furnished, making the Spruce Goose back in Verbobonc seem like a country barn!

    Thorgrim awakens to find he is in the party's tower quarters. He feels his head, and adjusts his eyepatch. "Seems the elves of Celene are exactly as hospitable as I remember them being," he says. "Still, their actions are not surprising, given their long hatred of Drow-kind. Isilme sure sprung a surprise...on all of us! I hope she takes back her gift of Maerthorlaer, after the way she's been treated."

    "Now what?" he asks, looking around. He inspects the quarters, seeking a main entrance and some guards to speak with. Thorgrim spends the evening inspecting every square inch of the walls and floors for secret doors. He finds that they aren't locked in or anything. They are just being....held.

    Hepla bandages Thorgrim's head, "Let them remember that they hurt you." she tells him.

    "Thank you, Little One," Thorgrim replies. "But I suspect they are just being cautious."

    With a slight smirk, Vaddara says "You would be treated as such in the lands controlled by the Frost Queen, but they are evil and make no claims otherwise" Funny how the two responses mirror each other so closely. We haven't been killed yet, so I guess they are discussing our fate."

    "I suggest patience," says Berenn. "One rash act has put us in our current predicament, another one will only make things worse." Berenn will call to one of the guards and tell him who he is and that he still has a message from the Viscount of Verbobonc and when it is convenient, he would like to deliver the message.

    "Aye," agrees Thorgrim, and the party waits patiently. They note that Noot and Fred are already sound asleep.
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri May 23, 2014 7:45 pm  
    Part 4 - Song of the Warrior

    Earthday, 13th of Patchwall (581)
    The next day you awake and are summoned before the court. You find that have been quartered in the Royal Wing of the palace. This time there is no crowd, and the meeting is not in the Grand Room. Rather, you are led through a short hallway to a paneled and frescoed audience room. In the room are the Queen, the Royal Court Mage Onselvon, as well as another tall noble elf, her consort Faastal Dothmar. The Constable of the Guard, Parseval Baelaersar is there also, tall and austere. The Countess Tillahi is present as well. Finally, there is one last elf, much younger than the others (only about 200 years old) and rather large for an elf, nearly 6' tall. He wears elfin chain of strange metal, unknown even to Thorgrim. Rakk recognizes him. It is Prince Melf Brightflame, ranger/wizard who fought with him in the western mountains a few years ago.

    [DM OOC: Actually, I should mention that Rakk knows all of these elves. ]

    Elrae can barely contain himself, "Melf and in Melf's Acid Arrows Melf. Oh my stars and garters, I am one of your biggest fans. Countless times your spell has saved my bacon." Elrae does his best Wayne's World impression, of the We're not Worthy bow.

    "Also Melf's Miniature Fireballs, which I greatly enjoyed in the Sulhauts," says Rakk. "Tho' I've never learned them."

    The elves all say hello to Rakk, with Melf clasping forearms in the old Aerdy military style. The queen then breaks the silence, stepping up to Rakk. "I never got to thank you," she says, putting a hand up to Rakk's face. The half-giant blushes.

    "Well, M'lady, I did say I would see you back in Celene before we died. Tho', I did not foresee being under arrest." Looking at the other elves,"Did you really think I would risk her life, after risking my own to keep hers? Truly? I thought better of you."

    The queen smiles, a smile brighter than the sun breaking through a cloudy day. "You aren't under arrest," she says. "Why do you think we lodged you in the Royal Wing?"

    "The queen and the realm owe you a debt we could never repay," says Faastal Dothmar. "You are always welcome in Celene. We know the truth of your heart."

    "Though the same cannot be said of your current choice of companions," interjects Parseval.

    "You do not know Isilme," says the Countess Tillahi. "She saved me from the servants of darkness, rescued me from the Temple of Elemental Evil. My own brother stood beside her in battle...."

    "And fell," says Parseval, interrupting her. "While the dark elf remains. How do we know she didn't kill him herself?"

    "And Blacky fell," says Rakk. "While I remain. Would you say I killed him? Careful on your answer, sir."

    Hepla puts her hand up, like a school girl, to get to speak on this subject, but is initially ignored. Parseval stops, and Rakk sees true pain in his eyes as the memories come. "I apologize, Rakk Edhelmellon [ooc: that means Elf friend]," he replies. "I misspoke."

    "What he means to say is," interrupts Prince Melf, who speaks in remarkably affable and friendly manner, for a Grey Elf. "We don't doubt you, nor the word of Countess Tillahi here," he nods to her. "It is just difficult to set aside a millennium of hatred."

    "No dark elf has ever set foot within the realm," says Parseval, "and lived."

    "Yet none have ever come with such openness and honor," says Melf. "Sure, she deceived us with her disguise, but can we really say we would have allowed her entry otherwise?" He sees Hepla raising her hand like a child in school, and points to her. "We nearly killed this girl," he adds, "thinking her a mere dragon youngling. What would we have done had a drow crossed our borders?"

    While the others all stand mute, contemplating Melf's words, he nods to Hepla. "Please, Hepla daughter of Hepala." Hepla is shocked he knows her and her mother. "You have something you would say?"

    While Hepla stands there, not sure what to say, Onselvon interjects. "She returned Maerthorlear to us, lost so many centuries ago. Would a drow do that?"

    The Queen raises an eyebrow, and he adds, "Would a normal drow?"

    Having seen Prince Melf in Greyhawk City once, Fred puts on a big smile, puffs out his chest, and dusts himself off. For the first time all day he feels like he might live to see the next. Old Melfie has a reputation as a square dealer, and not as stuffy as these other damned Greys, he thinks.

    Fred steps out from his hiding place behind Rakk's leg, and nods at the Olven prince. He doesn't expect to be remembered, but Charmalaine, goddess of narrow escapes, sometimes rewards boldness. He promises Her a good offering for luck. "Howsit goin' yer principality? Fredegar Oddburrows, late of Greyhawk, at yer service!"

    Melf looks down at Fred, furrowing his brows a bit. Then he smiles and laughs. "I see you didn't end up at the bottom of the Nyr Dyv," he says.

    Fred laughs, "It'd take a tougher man than Org Nenshen to throw me into the drink, yer Princelyness! So this is where ya live, huh? Nice place, very nice. In fact the whole countryside is just gorgeous. But I didn't notice and Hobniz burrows around. I just know some of my relatives would love to set up shop in such a nice land..."

    He laughs, shaking his head. "They live in the south," he says.

    Hepla still stands there, not talking, not sure what to say and maybe scared to speak in this company.

    Feeling emboldened, and glad that Prince Melf recognized him, Fred addresses the Queen, smiling timidly, "Um, your Royal Majesty? Listen, I haven't known Isilme real long, but she's ok. I mean she practically threw herself at yer mercy, right? And after us folks delivered all them artifacts back to ya? I mean, youse all know Rakk, riight? Would he allow harm ta come before ya? I'm sayin' she's genuinely tryin' ta communicate with ya, I dunno all her reasons...but shouldn't ya listen at least? I mean, I dunno any royalty, but hospitality is one thing I do know about. If I may be so bold, yer Royal Highness ma'am."

    "I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak," says Hepla. "What I had to say yesterday can wait a bit. What I have to say today is basically what my halfling friend just said. Isilme is good. She came honestly to deal with Your Majesty, but knew her race has a bad reputation, and mostly rightly so. She returned the relics of one of your fallen warriors, then presented you with a gift of her most prized item. Then when you asked what she was, and after asking for your safety in doing so, revealed herself. Then, pardon the comparison, your court acted much the same as the Viscount's court acted. When this fine dwarf offered a slight aid to Isilme, he was beaten senseless. It seems to me that much healing on all sides is needed."

    She pauses for a moment, as much to get a breath as anything else, then quickly adds, "How do you know my mom and me? Ooops, giggle, that should be for the other time I am allowed to speak."

    The Queen listens to all this, then calls for silence. "Parseval," she says. "Fetch our guest please. Bring her to the Osteledan."

    "Your Majesty," he says, then hurries out.

    "Let us retire to a venue," says the Queen. She then turns and walks from the chamber. The others follow, and the party is nudged after her. You pass through winding corridors and spiral stairs, eventually reaching a large library. The round wall shows that you are in the great tower. All the walls are filled with fine volumes, and there are glass doors which lead to a patio, through which you can that you are at the very pinnacle of the city, overlooking not only it, but the entire valley. The floor of the library is covered in green carpet, and in the center of the room, set on a three-foot high pedestal of white marble, stands a crystalline orb a foot wide. Everyone can feel the orb, as if it is sending forth rays of energy through them.

    Soon, Isilme is led up to the library, with a half-dozen very well-armed elves, including Parseval, accompanying her.

    "You may wait outside," says the Queen to the gaurds.

    "Apologies, Your Majesty," replies one of the guards. "We shall remain."

    The queen levels as icy a stare as you've ever seen at the guard, then at the others, and finally at Parseval. Finally, she sighs, resigned to the knowledge that they will not obey her. "Fine." She turns to Isilme, who while not bound, is yet wreathed in the same brilliant colors as earlier. "Now, what shall we do about you?"

    "Your Majesty," says Emyn, bringing a sigh from Isilme while Berenn puts a hand over his face and shakes his head. "I do not have the way with words that some of my companions do, nor do I have courtly manners, but I can vouch for Isilme, in the name of Holy Trithereon. I am an Avenger of Trithereon, your Majesty, and I have staked my very life on her aid, which has never failed in coming. Were I to die in her defense, I would consider it an honor and a privilege to do so. I beseech you to consider that sometimes appearances are just that...appearances. One cannot know the spirit of an elf or anyone else through her looks, but rather, it should be judged by her deeds. As an Avenger of Trithereon, I bring vengeance, but we of the chosen know also that without mercy there can be no vengeance. I ask you give her mercy and the opportunity to bring her people back into the light. Allow her to avenge the wrongs against elvenkind."

    Isilme keeps her hands at her side, calm and relaxed, though she smiles inwardly, surprised at Emyn's words. She keeps the Queens gaze with violet eyes, unafraid, secure in the knowledge this is what her goddess wills even if she dies. She is respectful, and waits until she is given permission to speak this time though.

    "Apologizes your Majesty, my name is Sir Berenn Silverwood Knight Commander of the Watchlands and Lord of Warden's Station," says the young ranger. "I have come here with a message from my Lord Wilfrick, Viscount of Verbobonc." Berenn bows and presents the letter. "As for the Dark Elf, she has returned your noble's effects and was willing to return a sword as well. Surely, it shows she means you or your kingdom no ill will, as the rest of us mean you no harm."

    [Berenn OOC: I am employing my Diplomacy skill.]

    "I cast my lot with Isilme's," Thorgrim says simply. "She is the soul of the party. The credit for everything we've accomplished these past years belongs to her above all. Clanggedin and, yea, Ellistrae, cast their blessings widely." He looks at Isilme, glad to see she's okay. "Though sometimes wildly."

    Rakk simply moves forward to stand beside (IF he can get thru the sphere. If it is an Anti-magic Sphere, like I think, he should make it), or if not in front of her. He then turns to the Queen and says, "You know me. I stand not with nations or peoples or groups. I stand with individuals I think are worthy. I stood with Etalier, with Samantha, even with you. Not for their states, but for they themselves. I know you must do what is best for your people, M'lady. It is your duty after all. But I stand with Isilme as a friend. What you choose to do with her, I will go with her. Good or bad."

    The elves look like they are ready to argue, everyone except for Countess Tillahi, who seems angry at the others, and the Queen, whose face is as impassive as a stone wall. While Dothmar takes the letter from Berenn, the Queen listens to Rakk. "I know you and your honor," she says, "nor will I or any in Celene doubt it or your word. However, you do not truly know the dark elves. None but we, their kindred, can understand the depravity of their hearts, their very souls. Their corruption is beyond anything the surface races can conceive, as is their capacity for deception."

    She looks at Isilme, locking her gaze upon her. None dare so much as breathe, as the two elves stare into each others' hearts. Finally, the Queen speaks. "Your words and actions would show your heart to be true, as does the testimony of these, your companions, two of whom I know. In normal circumstances, that would be enough." She turns and walks away, Parseval tensing visibly when she turned her back to Isilme, who doesn't react in the least.

    The Queen looks into the crystal upon the pedestal, gently placing a hand upon its surface. "Even the Sulrigsarn sees no threat in you. Still, I would not put it past our dark kin to find a way to deceive even it."

    She turns back. "Yes, there is one of whom we have not heard, one from whom you could not withhold your true nature, regardless of magics. As final witness to the elf's heart," Isilme notes that Queen Yolande does not say dark elf, "I call upon the Song of the Warrior. I summon Maerthorlear."

    Fred, already bored at all the courtliness, edges toward the books on the wall. He tries to read any of the titles he's able. He especially looks at the smaller tomes, mentally appraising them. As this strange utterance from the elf Queen, he turns back, wondering what she means.

    Star jumps from Hepla's shoulder and walks to Isilme, tries twice to get unto her shoulder but the globe stops her so she jumps on Rakk's shoulder. She finds lots of room to sit there. In his mind he hears a soft female voice, almost a purr, "Hope you don't mind." Star's paw is on his neck.

    "It would be good to see my old friend Moerlather again, as I did in Arvendor," says Isilme, and for the first time she smiles.

    Atlan whispers to Rakk "Why don't they just cast detect evil on her and be done with it"?

    "They probably have," says Rakk. "They just don't trust the result."

    "Ya see, the way they think is...maybe she over-magicked their magic, or unmagicked what they over-magicked," Fred remarks in a VERY low voice. "See, she coulda (in their Olven minds) dis-magicked their un-magicking. But if she knew THEY knew that SHE knew they were gonna un-magic her magic, she might have RE-RE-magicked herself. Somehow. If that's not too technical for ya. Ya see?"

    Hepla stares, for a second at Fred with a WHAT expression on her face. Emyn looks at Fred for a good minute and then massages his eyes, muttering, "Too much thinking hurts the mind."

    "Fred. Now is not a good time for gibbering." Rakk growls from the side of his mouth.

    Fred continues his near-silent explanation, pitched just for the ears of his nearby companions, "No, ya see, I had a good mate who was a Grey Olve, hells of a nice fellow, once ya got to know him. But ya see, that took three years. He pretended he couldn't stand me, I pretended to annoy him. But in the end we were thick as thieves (as they say). I saved his life a few times, he saved mine a few...Wonderful fellow, amazing sense of style, artistic sensibility out the nose. And could he whip a spell about! But ya see, he could sometimes think the way a dog'd chase his tail. Give the ol' Queen an hour or three, and she'll do the right thing."

    Thorgrim's apprehension increases, and he reaches for his pipe, then he stops, and re-clasps the buckle on his belt pouch. He crosses his arms and stands resolute, stone-faced. His gaze no longer finds either the Queen or Isilme, but instead seems fixed miles away. He is thinking of Clanggedin. He can't even hear Fred.

    Paresval leaves to retrieve Maerthorlear, while Dothmar speaks to the Queen. "Your Majesty," he says. "We have studied the auras; we have searched for deceit. Even the Sulrigsarn finds nothing. What can a sword tell us?"

    "Maerthorlear is not just any sword," says Onselvon. "It was crafted by Fendome of the City of Summer Stars and wielded by Lanthuion Sharondalan, Captain of Erieadan during the 400 Years War. Forged from the finest Ithilnaur, that most rare metal, it was one of the most powerful blades ever created. It is said that upon his death, the very soul of Lanthuion merged with Maerthorlear, to carry on the fight against Vecna and his hordes."

    He walks over to Isilme and the others, talking to them, as if the elves do not need to hear the rest. He continues, "Though Vecna's accursed empire eventually crumbled under its own evil weight, Erieadan and all the other cities of our kin were lost forever; only Celene remained. With their loss, Maerthorlear fell into our care, or more appropriately we into its. The heroes who wielded Maerthorlear were many, but it only revealed its true powers to those few whom it chose. Though many could serve Maerthorlear, it would only serve the worthy. You see, it..."

    He is interrupted by Parseval, who returns with Maerthorlear, still in the dragon-bone scabbard carved from the leg of Caustichlorinus. He brings the sword over to Onselvon, who shakes his head, pointing to the Queen. Parseval brings Maerthorlear to Queen Yolande, whoh reverently takes it in two hands.

    "A fitting scabbard," she says, looking at the intricate etchings. She glances at Vaddara, "I see the skills of your kin in these carvings," she says. She then smiles. "A fitting scabbard for such a wonderous weapon."

    As Vaddara blushes slightly, the Queen pays her no more heed. Slowly, deliberately, she draws Maerthorlear from the sheath and strides towards Isilme. She points the blade at Isilme. "Now, we shall know the truth."

    Suddenly, there is a flash between Isilme and the Queen, emanating from Maerthorlear and brilliant beyond even that of the sun. All in the room turn from it, shielding their eyes. Even the Queen puts a hand over her face, blocking out the blinding light. Slowly it fades, and as you blink your eyes, coaxing them to see again, you are stunned by the vision before you. An angelic elf stands, hovering in the air between the Queen and Isilme, its wings stretch nearly 20' across, and it's brilliance makes it difficult to look upon, yet its awesome righteousness is beyond anything any have ever seen. Even the Queen is shocked, as she rocks back, stumbling to one knee before its angelic glory.

    You hear Isilme whisper, "Maerthorlear."

    Isilme's face lights up with joy, as if seeing a long lost friend. You can see she almost rushes to hug him, then hesitates remembering the seriousness of the occasion "I am sorry they called you here dear friend " she says quietly "I thought I could convince them."

    "Called who?" ask Queen Yolande, rising again with as much dignity as she can muster. "Who is this?" She looks back at Onselvan, who just shrugs."

    The angel's voice booms out, a thunderous sound which shakes the very palace. "None summon us," it says, it voice stunning everyone again with its strength, yet also simultaneously filling everyone of good alignment with hopeful music.

    "I am the Song of the Warrior," it says. "I am he who once was Lanthuion, Hand of Galitholian. I am...MAERTHORLEAR, and I have chosen!"

    Suddenly, the sword disappears from Queen Yolande's hands and appears in Isilme's. The scintillating colors around her vanish, and she knows that she may use spells again, should she desire. As the angelic Maerthorlear fades from view, it sings a song of trust into the minds of all present. Isilme feels a surge of strength, as she hears the familiar song of Maerthorlear singing in her own mind a song of victory.

    Isilme remains unmoving and relaxed, yet her grip tightens on the sword as her mind is filled with the blades song. She looks deep into the Queens eyes and says in elvish," Queen Yolande, you may test me all you wish, you may use ancient magics and call forth powerful beings to determine my purpose, yet the flame of truth will remain. The goddess Eilistraee stands as beloved daughter of Corellon Larethian. Her desire has always been that the fallen elves return to the light of her father and be reunited with their brothers and sisters under the sun. Though she was pure, she willingly took the punishment of all dark elves for their treachery that she might work against the Dark Seldarine and offer guidance when the time came that the outcasts would turn from the evil and lies of Lloth and seek reconciliation. That time is NOW, time to begin the work of setting aside old hatreds and healing the rift between our peoples. I am but the first on Oerth, more will follow, and turning a blind eye will not alter this truth. For those who seek only to be reunited with their kin, what you decide here now will echo in eternity."

    The Queen looks hard at Isilme, her features unreadable. The other elves all stand mute, waiting....watching. Isilme returns the Queen's stare. After what seem ages, the Queen looks to Rakk, who nods to her, as if he already knows what she's thinking. With a sigh, though of relief or resignation, you cannot tell, the Queen steps up to Isilme. "Well, who can argue with that," she says, and matter-of-factly. "You are free to go," she adds. "However,, you cannot stay here. As you yourself saw, the olve of Celene are not yet ready for this. Your presence has already caused quite the stir." She chuckles lightly, "As shall my actions, no doubt."

    She then reaches out and places a tender hand upon Isilme's cheek. "You are indeed the first," she says. "Never have we so much as heard whisper of that which you speak. The Goddess...she was more myth than real. You have given us much to consider. "
    She looks to Rakk and adds, "You are in great company, Isilme Bladesinger. I never truly doubted, but understand, what you are. It is no easy thing to throw away millennia of hatred. Perhaps, in time, that which you say shall come to pass. But that time is not yet, not here."

    "Even if they are not ready, the seeds have been sown, and many will remember my visit," says Isilme. "Know great Queen that if the kingdom of Celene should ever stand in need of aid, I and those of Ellistrae stand ready. Should you ever seek shelter you and any of Celene are welcome in our lands - blessed by Arvendor and the goddesses hand."

    She kneels to the Queen and says "The blade has chosen me, and I will defend Celene and all elvendom with my life and bring justice to those who do you harm, in honor of Lanthuion and those who have come before me." She stands and buckles the blade back around her waist and casts a seeming spell to appear as a high elf. "Strange that had I been as I appear now I would be hailed as hero and friend of Celene, yet remove it and I am reviled. Yet I have seen elves on the surface whose evil in their hearts rival that of the Drow."

    She turns to the Prince and says "Perhaps in your years, the people will be more ready. Remember me, and until then I will continue the fight against evil to prove the intentions of my heart."

    "You have nothing to prove to me," says Melf, bowing slightly. "Your exploits are known to me, and were they not, Maerthorlear's choice is not to be taken lightly."

    Hepla breathes a sigh of relief. Star goes back to her shoulder and gives her a hard look. Hepla steps forward and curtsies. Fred stood speechless, goggling at the angelic apparition. He watched the interplay between the Olves, the Dark and the Grey, with a quiet smile. Privately appreciating the fact that the branches of his race had never fought one another, he hoped that this would put an end to all the drama.

    "So that's it, is it? We're moving on? Well, thank ya kindly for yer hospitality, Yer Royal Highness. Nice place ya've got here, very pretty Yer Radiant Majesty. But ya might consider hiring on some of my kin in your kitchens, if ya don't mind me saying...Couldn't hurt, eh? Might cheer things up a bit."

    With his best charming grin Fred bows in courtly manner and with a flourish and backs away to the wall of books.

    Noot watches in amazement. He first thought the angel looked bored, but now realizes in his elven half that a rift is being bridged.

    Hepla's hand goes up again. She thinks, So the way to get noticed is to step forward, bow or courtsie and put you hand up, I must have missed that part of the instruction last time.

    "Yes child," says the Queen.

    "Thank you Your Majesty," she replies. "When I first had the honor to come to your court I had one question. Then I felt I had to speak for my friend Isilme, thank you for allowing me that honor. I still have that first question but another has asked me to speak for her. Startle here, we call her Star, is most impressed by the cats she has seen since entering your kingdom and wishes to know, Are there any male cats of her race here? She feels a little...giggle...catty, if you know what I mean?"

    The Queen laughs. "You really do not understand Star, do you?"

    "No your magesty, I do not. But who understands a cat fully?"

    "Oh!" exclaims Melf, suddenly interrupting, "I have met your mother. I used to get around quite a bit," he adds with a smirk. "In my youth." At that the older elves roll their eyes, obviously all considering Melf quite the child still.

    "Very true," she said, "of normal cats." Star walks over to the Queen rubs its face along her leg. As the Queen scratches Star's neck, the cat arches its back predictably. "Of course," she adds. "Star here is no cat." She catches herself, correcting herself quickly. "That is, no normal cat." The Queen is about to continue, then stops, looking down at Star. "Well, if you don't want her to know...."

    Before Hepla can continue, the Queen has you all escorted back out, She has things to discuss with her advisors. Melf will see you back to the Noble Wing.

    When the party is safely away from all the royals and nobles, Fred has questions. To Isilme he laughs, "Hey, that coulda been worse, huh? Quite a thing watching all that go down. Kuroth's Petite Pocketknife! I think I aged 10 years when ya unvieled yerself, luv!"

    To the party in general he adds, "Do ya mind if I take a peep at one o' them ancient Suloise coins ya got? I do happen to know a bit about antique coins, ya know...
    "And what about our plan? Ya said we're lookin' fer a 'Lost City o' da Suel', right? Do we have more evidence then a few coins? I mean, if we're talkin' 'bout a city from before da Twin Cataclysms, dat's a whole buncha milleniumses ago, right? I mean... are we gonna havta dig? Or what? Look. All dis high diplomacy is great. It's quite an honor ta be hobnobbin' and rubbin' elbows wit' you ladies 'n'lords and suchlike. But I'm hobniz! I'm yer guy when it comes a treasure huntin'! And when I heard 'bout a Lost City? You have any idea how hard I'm restrainin' m'self? Sheeeee-la Peryroyal!!!" Freddy uncoils himself a bit, visibly trying to relax. He lights his pipe and offers his pouch to his Dwur friend, Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim accepts the pouch. "I thank you, friend. Yes, for a moment there things were quite...tense." He takes a draw from his pipe and licks his lips. "Excellent. There are more clues to this mystery than a few old coins. There were also notations in a book, as I recall."

    Emyn just tries to keep up with all the conversation. He isn't well at ease in these rarified settings and with such noble company, though he does what he can to be attentive and polite when spoken with. He will pay attention and listen rather than speak out of turn, apart from to say that if the Queen ever needs the aid of an Avenger of Trithereon, that he would be most pleased to provide what assistance he can. He is honest in the offer, even though he realizes the elves will probably prefer to handle things on their own.

    As Fred digests this new information, he tries to relax a bit. Blowing smoke rings with Thorgrimm, he says, "Well now that's a tale, that is...I'd think if anyone knew more about it, it'd be these Grey Olves here, doncha think? I mean, some of 'em are pretty old, ya know? Hmm..."

    Fred turns to the rest of the group, especially looking into the eyes of Hepla, Isilme and Rakk... "You fine folks are friendly with our good hosts, wouldn't you say?" Putting on his best turns of phrase, and trying for a good Celeni accent, "Perhaps the lords and ladies fair would deign to allow us research into their libraries? Do you think you might make such a request? And perhaps they have sages of history we might consult?
    "What think ye, companions mine?"

    "Aye, I'll ask. But the Celeni don't like to disturb things not botherin' 'em. They may let us look." Rakk answers.

    Hepla points out that when she asked about the books there in the room we met in she got no response. So it should be Rakk or Isilme who asks. She also says,"Fred, in situations like we were just in, I use my title but most of the time I like being HEPLA. Please, we are friends, so its just Hepla...giggle... unless you are just having a little fun with us, that is fine with me."

    Exagerted wink! Followed by fluttering of eyelashes and waggling of eyebrows, "Just practicin' me actin' skills! Did y'know I was on the stage once't? Yup, in the Grand Theatre of Greyhawk 'twas! It was a triumph of th' arts, it was! I played Tuccio's son in 'Dain and Tuccio's Journeys in Hell', I did. We opened and closed th' show all in a week!"
    Fred starts chuckling over the memory of that disaster of a show, finally holding his sides as he laughs so hard. "Goddess! What a bleedin' disaster it was! Oh, gods!!!" the halfling starts laughing uproariously again...

    "I'm sure you were great," says Hepla, giggling again.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu May 29, 2014 6:45 am  

    I once devised an all-animal campaign that was to be set in the Suss. Alas, it's still on the back burner. Nature of the Beast
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    Sun Jun 01, 2014 5:20 pm  
    Part 5 -Crossing Celene

    The elves allow the party to move about the city, with an escort. Actually, they consider Rakk an escort, based on his previous service, so as long as they are with him, they can go as you will. However, Isilme cannot. The elves do not want any...unfortunate issues. The Queen DOES however have a book which references the Suel city, once somebody asks. Since Isilme cannot leave the palace, she will be allowed to read the book in the Queen's library.

    Rakk meets quite a few elves who remember him from those dark days a few years ago. However, he doesn't learn a whole lot about the borders and such. It seems that after the events which he explained, the elves basically sealed their borders. They believed that it was their involvement in the affairs of their neighbors which ended up getting them embroiled in the battles which followed, and there was a strong movement towards an isolationist policy. Some elves disagree with it, led by none other than Prince Melf himself, long known for his wild adventures and interest in the outside world. However, their following is rather small, and the country has largely kept apart from all others.

    Altan asks about buying some arrows, and a few elves lead them to a renowned fletcher. There anyone who wants to buy arrows may do so. The elves do not mind selling them, though they are costly, 10gp each. However, they are considered magical in terms of being able to hit something only hit by magic weapons or arrows.


    Meanwhile, back in the library.....

    Isilme is given a book to read in the library, and there are guards present keeping an eye on her. She is not sure if she has permission to look at other things, so she just reads the books referencing the Lost City of the Suel. She learns the following items:

    The Builders of the Lost Suss City are not Suloise

    The fundamental scholarly texts on Flanaess, both the various editions of Savant Sage`s “A Guide to the World of Greyhawk” (1), and Pluffet Smedger`s (et al) “Lively Greyhawk: A Gazetteer,” refer to unchecked rumours, tales, and legends of a lost ruined city of the Old Suloise inside the Suss Forest. Much of the confusion on the builders of the city stems either from its misidentification with the fabled lost Suel city inside the Sea of Dust or from the fact that the Suloise were its last known inhabitants.

    A concise pre-publication of “Lively Greyhawk: A Gazetteer,” ascribed the volume number 11742, contrary to the previous sources, avoids to account any mention of the builders, or the owners for that matter, of the city. This together with “Tha`tis no Tree, tis` a Twisted Suel,” as well as other bardic lore from the half-elven Master Bard Finnobhar Aodhin leave room for re-examination of the subject. Moreover, straight from the special Zagig Yragerne section of the first of the three secret vaults of the Great Library, the incomplete octalogy of the puzzling, and not-yet fully explained “Gord Chronicles” was resurrected. The second part of the octalogy details the only, until the present research, recorded expedition into the Suss forest, at the particular location of the lost Suss city.

    Gord`s expedition consisted of thirteen people, including a Master Bard (at least two ranks higher than Aodhin), a half-elven druid (close to attaining the rank of Archdruid), a thief of exceptional skill (a student of Doctor Prosper and the prestigious Grey College), a seasoned Bakluni horseman, and a seasoned Flan mercenary. All those expert adventurers with their varied backgrounds did not seem to disagree that the ruins they discovered, apart from Suloise elements, additionally feature elements of an unknown, ancient civilization. Their most striking discoveries were the convoluted script and the bas relief murals, decorating the interior walls of ziggurats.

    The Lost Suss City
    There are known to exist two maps of the location of the lost city. One of the maps was sold by an elven Suss Ranger at a gambling den in Elredd, more than a decade past. The other map was kept by the druid Curley Greenleaf throughout the years prior to the Greyhawk wars. Both maps crude geographically depict the city relative to the coast, the forest, the hills, and the Jewel River. However, given the map, it is almost impossible to find the location of the city. The maps are quite old or even ancient, at a time that the Jewel River was running west and south of the city. Through the ages the river changed course, leaving marsh behind, and washing out parts of the city, now running over the eastern portion of the city. Additionally, the boundaries of the Suss have shifted, due to the magical reforestation mentioned in one of the earliest texts of Keoland, the Tome of Aldoth, at the years following the Twin Cataclysms, and the more recent deforestation by the Wild Coast landholders. Unless one is proficient in natural history it is extremely hard to discover the city. The largest part of the city is submerged into the marsh and water, around a small peninsula jutting into the river at the midpoint of the marsh. The rest part of the ruins at the small hill of the peninsula is forested. Treasure troves of emeralds and other precious stones are rumoured to be hidden beneath the ruins, guarded by undead horrors.

    Few dare to venture into the Suss in search for its lost city, and those who did so regretted it if they survived. The forest can at best be described as fell, dank, and foreboding. It is hostile and dense, getting worse near the ruins, with evil treants, and vampiric trees releasing leaves after preys for their blood. Vegetation and life forms seem to get larger near the ruins. Approaching the city through the forest, a team will encounter migrating humanoid bands seeking the Pomarj, predators lurking by the trails and watercourses, ettercaps, huge spiders, gibberlings, and sussuri. The possibility to encounter the gibberlings, and the sussuri increases as one is closing to the city. Approaching the city from the air is highly dangerous, due to the Green Dragons of the Gnarley-Welkwood-Suss forest complex. Approaching the city via the river is perilous, due to a huge octopus-like monster, and kuo-toa-like creatures.

    Despite the partial rebuilding of the city by the Suloise, one can steadily discover convoluted wall writings and bas-relief murals from a civilization older than the Suel. The spirally-convoluted script is similar to the Exag`s hardened clay discs. Moreover, these wall murals bear similarities with some encountered in the Cairn Hills, the only difference being that the ruined city`s bas-reliefs are not enhanced by any type of paint. Artistic themes include battles of huge cats versus men and animal-headed men, animal-headed spiders and spider-men versus flying men. Another enigmatic theme is the battle of flying fighters and a wizard with a gargantuan octopus sporting a gem with eight beams above its eyes. The winner of the battle seems to be the wizard, trying to take the gem.

    The city was named N'therrod. It was destroyed by an unknown conspiracy because of the people's extreme interest in forbidden things, leaving behind only its language. The elves sent two expeditions to the city after they lost contact with it, and only one elf returned from the latter, and he didn't live long. The elves decided that the foolish Suel brought upon themselves destruction, as they did in their own homelands to the west, beyond the Hellfurnaces. They decided to leave well-enough alone, and have never returned.


    Eventually, Isilme is joined in the library by Prince Melf. He tells her that ruling Celene is not like the human lands. "Yolande was chosen by the High Council, made up of the heads of all the elven clans," he says. "Not only is her rule not absolute, neither is it hereditary."

    "Well perhaps someday the council will elect a more progressive ruler to lead Celene out of isolationism, as Old evils begin to raise their head once more and lead Oerth into war. I can't see a better candidate than one as well known and traveled as yourself," she adds.

    "Perhaps," he replies, "though I am only a cousin anyway. The term Prince, in Celene, has different connotations than in human lands."

    While Melf proves to be quite charming, Isilme also finds that he doesn't yield information too readily. He seems guarded, though at some level she understands this as a normal elven trait. From him she learns more about Celene, [which I'll post in the atlas thread.] Just basic history stuff. Melf also gives Isilme a serious warning about where they are going. "There is a great evil there," he says, "great enough to wipe out a city of Suel which included mages of power. It is not a place even I have yet dared to tread."

    [Fred OOC: OOC: Maybe we should invite ol' Melfie?]

    "Would you care to join us on the expedition?" she asks. "Such a place on your borders should be of interest. I actually care very little for this city or what it contains. I am hunting an enemy to all elves, and I will not rest until she is brought to justice. Her trail leads me there."

    "No," he says. "I have many other duties which unfortunately require my close attention. However, I wish you luck. The Suss is not a friendly place, and the lost city.... Let's just say that some things are better left buried."

    "We should probably take our leave," says Berenn, "and start heading toward the city before some of the elves change their minds and burn Isilme at the stake."

    "I heartily agree with ya Sir Berenn!" says Fred. "Um...not about th' burnin' bit, just the gettin' the Hells out bit. I think we've graced the halls of Celene for long enough. Do ya's think we can get on the road today? I'm ready if you are!"

    "Ready when you are Mr. Fred", Hepla says, "But I will not be flying cover till we are out of this area. I survived...giggle... just barely my last flight."

    "Try the form of an owl next time," says Thorgrim.

    "Before we leave I must get a few bottles of that fine Celene wine," says Elrae. "Anything to take the edge off before journeying back to another evil infested lost city."

    Elrae, Noot, Fred, and Hepla all buy some wine. The elves are happy to sell it, at 50gp a bottle or 25gp for the wineskins. In the morning, the party will depart. Nirifel decides to stay, if the rest of the party doesn't mind. The lost city sounds interesting, but she has always wanted to enter Celene. Learning elven bardic talents, songs, etc., is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now that she is here, she would like to make the most of it. She promises that she will meet up with you again back in Nulb. She winks at Noot. "With lots of new songs for your customers!" She then leans over to Hepla and whispers something, looking at Berenn. The girls just giggle.

    Fred sits his pony, sharpening up all his daggers and knives, one at a time, until the party is ready to actually get moving. If he has a chance, he bids Prince Melf good fortune and happy travels. As he whets his blades, he uses all the mnemonic devices his mum taught him, trying to dislodge the idea that sits perched on the tip of his brain...

    "In the burrow we are born/from the burrow do we walk/in the barrow do we delve/in the barrow are we laid.
    "In the burrow we are born/from the burrow do we walk/in the barrow do we delve/in the barrow are we laid..." Fred whispers his mantra under his breath.

    Before you go, Melf gives Hepla, Vaddara, and Isilme each a scroll. He is sorry that things did not go as they had hoped, but he wishes you good luck on your journey into the Suss. Vaddara removes a carved scrimshaw necklace from her neck and hands it the Melf. "For the Queen". It is the symbol of her tribe. "I hope one day all elvish races re-unite".

    Hepla thanks him for the scroll, he can tell she is eager to read it but is trying to be polite. She takes out a perfect star sapphire, the size of her thumb, and says, "Please give this to your queen, anyone who is as beautiful as my mom, well, I wish to honor her beauty." She hands it to him.

    Melf takes ther gifts, and seems quite pleased. He is just sorry he cannot do more. You can tell he is not as committed to Celene's isolationism as others, including the Queen. However, there is little he can do at present, and change does not happen quickly amongst elves, in any case.

    "Time..." says Thorgrim. He is gearing up his horse. He stops and holds his pick in front of him. "Onward!"

    Godsday, 18 Patchwall (581)
    It takes nearly a full week to travel the length of Celene. However, your journey is easy, with decent weather, a few light sprinkles, though nothing that disturbs your riding. You find that Celene is not exactly what you expected. Most of your journey is along a long stretch of plains, much of which is grassland. You see many horses running free, mostly the elvish ponies Altan had noticed earlier. However, not uncommon are herds of centaurs. None of you have ever seen a centaur before, so seeing dozens, even hundreds, is truly awe-inspiring. After a few days, you reach a pretty large, fast-flowing river, which you learn is the Handmaiden, named after Oerth's smaller, bluish moon. It tumbles along its way from the Lortmils, skirting the edge of Celene until it reaches Courwood, Celene's second-largest town.


    "Most impressive," says Hepla. "Let us see where travelers stay, maybe an inn. Noot, this may be your chance to establish a trading relationship with some of the wine merchants and vintners here."

    The elves haven't had visitors here in a few years, so your presence is actually quite a thrill. You are led to the a wing of the mansion, which doubles as an inn for travelers of note. There you are given excellent rooms, food and drink, including the best wine you've ever had. You then are led to a private room, where you meet the clan elder, Syllon Lathien. He is very old, even for an elf. You don't know how old that makes him, but it's up there. He's also kind of overweight, which is strange for an elf. He wears noble clothes, with a lot of adornment. He is quite affable, and wants to hear all about you, where you are from, etc.

    Hepla waits for Berenn to speak first since he is our ranking person.

    After he has spoken, Hepla will greet Syllon being very formal and thank him for the kindness he is showing weary travelers. She will look around the room for anything special that catches her eyes.

    Thorgrim says, "Your hospitality is most impressive, sire. Do not think it goes unappreciated by us, who have had little of late."

    The older elf smiles. "Hospitality used to be one of our mainstays," he says. "Of course, we cannot allow outsiders into the kingdom any longer, thus our opportunities dwindle. However, we continue a rather brisk trade into the Ulek states, selling our wine, and in exchange buying those luxuries which we cannot get elsewhere."

    "Ah, Ulek...I visited there once, but did not stay long," says Thorgrim, thinking back.

    "Would you consider selling your wine elsewhere if the opportunity presented itself?" asks Berenn.

    "Absolutely!" he says. He has learned that you are from Verbobonc, but he doesn't think it feasible to get wine up there. "I cannot transport it across Celene," he says. "Such open defiance of the Queen's decrees would be...problematic." He smiles as he summons a server, requesting another bottle. "Bring the Yudelise," he says. The wine is brought out, a beautiful chardonnay-type wine. "This is perhaps the best vintage we have," he says.

    "Sire, this wine is most delightful," says Noot. "Perhaps one day when I have built my inn we may trade. Now is not yet the time, but perhaps one day."

    He speaks to Noot of his inn and finds it fascinating. You can already buy Celene wines, but they are quite expensive. Presently, almost all wine sales are from this region, and sold to the merchants of the Ulek states. They then ship it all over the Flanaess, with substantial markup of course. If there is a way to sell directly to you, he will do so. "However," he cautions, "we must not tweak the Queen's nose too openly." He waves his arms, as if to encompass the area around you. "We trade openly enough," he adds, "and she knows it. However, we are far from court, and what she doesn't directly see, she doesn't directly mind." He takes another drink, adding, "Besides, and she will never admit this, but she NEEDS some of what we gain in the trade, especially iron from the dwarven mines of Ulek."

    "I would arrange the transportation and would ensure to minimize your risk Elder Lathien," says Berenn. "We would just need to find a place to exchange the wine which is easily accessible."

    "Aye, there's the rub," he says. "I cannot trade openly through other regions of Celene, and you must therefore deal with the long transportation costs." Perhaps, if something could be arranged, we could work out a solution. New markets would always be beneficial to all."

    "So that leaves 4 ways to get it there," says Rakk. "Up the Lortmils then thru the Kron Hills. Problematical at best. Thru the Wild Coast. Almost as bad. Thru Celene. I might be able but caravan guard doesn't appeal to me. The last, and probably the best, is up the Jewel River. The river ends near your lands, Berenn and barges may travel the length of the river. That would be my suggestion."

    "That was exactly what I was thinking Rakk. Once the town is up and operational, I was planning finding a way to use the waterways to my advantage."

    "Well thank goodness there will be a wine trade," says Elrae. "Imagine the patrons of my theater in Verboanc sipping this golden ambrosia."

    Hepla says, "I would like to test something but I need an unopened bottle of the wine and permission to cast two spells. First I would Item a bottle then bring it back . I know I can do this but I do not know if it would affect the quality of the wine. Oh and your best wine expert to examine the bottle first and after and to taste the wine after. With your permission, my lord."

    He nods, and Hepla does so. She finds that the wine does not lose its quality. As she's playing with the wine, the party learns a bit more about the Jewel River. The Jewel River is navigable for larger craft all the way to Thunderstrike, as they learned when the left the Pomarj. It is navigable by barge to Prinzfeld, but it is not navigable by even small craft between there and Celene, as the river winds its way treacherously through many canyons and falls along the edge of the Lortmils. The river is generally usable by canoe or barge once it gets away from the mountains; however, the few hundred miles of length through the northern Suss and the Welkwood are terribly dangerous. Plus, the Jewel ends in the Gnarley Forest, where it is a very small stream at first. It doesn't really grow large until it starts to gain the tributaries of Celene, which drain the Eastern Lormils.

    "Let me give the logistic some thought Elder and when I have found a way to safely transport your goods, I will set up an arrangement."

    "Will we be able to reenter this city, and if yes how would you like us to do this?" asks Hepla.

    "You will not likely be allowed entry into Celene from the north," he says. "From what you say, it is almost amazing you were allowed to enter at all. Letting you enter my lands will push the Queen's toleration beyond its limits, I'm afraid. You will not be allowed to return. However, you may send word through my representatives in Ulek or in Prinzfeld."

    " The land route is virtually impossible looking at the map," says Berenn. "I am less afraid of pirates than having to travel over the Lortmil mountains with a caravan or traveling through the Wild Coast. The idea would be to buy a big enough boat, it would be unattractive to pirates. They generally won't attack vessels which are going to put up a fight and look for easy prey. The most logical transportation route is to pick up the cargo in Prinzfeld and move it to Thunderstrike. From the Thunderstrike, it can be sailed to the Azure Sea around the horn, into Woolly Bay and dock in Hardby. From Harby, we would have to transport it by land to the High Road and finally to Nulb. The ship and caravan would have to be big enough so we didn't have to make this trip very often."

    Vaddara responds to party suggestions by casting bones [performing Augury].

    [DM OOC: I do Augury differently than most, it seems. I really hate the whole "let's just bother the gods" thing, and it's always seemed a bit lame, especially when players toss Augery spells around like Christmas Candy, using them instead of their own smarts. Anyway, here's what I now do:

    Augury, Commune, Oracle, and other similar divinations.
    The way I handle these Commune spells/abilities, you have to do it differently than what you guys generally post. Here are some tips:

    1. Think carefully about what is involved and how you feel
    2. Decide what you really need to know. Is it about a general attitude or outlook (such as 'What if I go ahead?'), or something more specific (such as 'How will it affect my relationship with x if I go ahead?')?
    3. Phrase your question. Ask for a forecast, advice or image with questions such as 'What if I...?', 'What attitude should I take to...?', 'What should I do about...?', 'What is the best way to...?'. Remember Commune/Oracle only answers one question at a time, so don't ask 'Should I do x or y?', but 'What if I do x?'
    4. Once your question is clear in your mind, write it down. This is an important stage, as it saves you from uncertainty later. 'What should we do about this search for Markessa?', for example, is a very different question from 'What if we search the lake?', and you will only be able to understand the answer if you are absolutely sure what your question was!

    Now, you also should know that being specific is NOT necessarily going to get you a specific answer. Oracles and such are by their very nature vague, so general questions are often better. The exception is for a specific question such as, "should we enter the lake?" Of course, it doesn't take divine oracles to tell you it's dangerous, which is likely the result you will get. Plus, you have to remember that I do a random tarot reading online, or I ching, or something of that nature. I then look at it and determine if it fits, and how well it fits. If not, I do another. I use these as tools to get the language I want, but I don't necessarily stick you with a totally random answer. Well, it is random, but if it doesn't fit what I want to say, I do another. So, it's random within bounds.

    The point is, I try to stick to the "spirit" of oracles, communes, divinations, etc., as we know from literature and movies and such. I will absolutely NOT give you the "weal or woe" response as so often mentioned by Goldie. That's not my style. In fact, look at the Augury description:

    "The priest casting an augury spell seeks to divine whether an action in the immediate future (within one-half hour) will benefit or harm the party. For example, if a party is considering the destruction of a weird seal that closes a portal, an augury spell can be used to find if weal or woe will be the immediate result. If the spell is successful, the DM yields some indication of the probable outcome: “weal,” “woe,” or possibly a cryptic puzzle or rhyme. The base chance for receiving a meaningful reply is 70%, plus 1% for each level of the priest casting the spell; for example, 71% at 1st level, 72% at 2nd, etc. Your DM determines any adjustments for the particular conditions of each augury.

    For example, if the question is “Will we do well if we venture to the third level?” and a terrible troll guarding 10,000 sp and a shield +1 lurks near the entrance to the level (which the DM estimates the party could beat after a hard fight), the augury might be: “Great risk brings great reward.” If the troll is too strong for the party, the augury might be: “Woe and destruction await!” Likewise, a party casting several auguries about the same action in quick succession might receive identical answers, regardless of the dice rolls."

    Further, I have made each person with an Augury actually decide upon the TYPE of augury he/she uses. I have them check this page:

    That gives a LOT of divination methods, and they choose one which suits their character/deity. Thus, it adds a whole role-playing element. They can't then just do Auguries willy-nilly, but must follow a specific form. Anyway, that's what Vaddara is about to do.]

    The bones indicate a dangerous abyss lying before you and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind you. You are surrounded by obstacles; at the same time, since the mountain has the attribute of keeping still, there is implicit a hint as to how you can extricate ourselves. You also see obstructions that appear in the course of time but that can and should be overcome. Therefore all the instruction given is directed to overcoming them.

    Water follows Water, spilling over any cliff, flowing past all obstacles, no matter the depth or distance, to the Sea. One learns flexibility from the mistakes he has made, and grows strong from the obstacles he has overcome, pressing on to show others the way.

    Vaddara thinks this means the following:

    "The obstacle lies in obstinence. An insistence on only one way of proceeding will bring things to an impasse. You may either continue banging your head with irresistible force against this immovable object, or you might step back and survey this situation from a fresh perspective. Which is immobile here -- the obstruction or your attitude? There is a dangerous potential change in the reading. This lies in bones which "may" be interpreted in different ways.

    Advance will meet with breathtaking obstacles. Remaining will meet with criticism from family and friends. While one may be compelled by duty to follow the way of danger, the wise man must act as father of a family or as head of his kin. If he were to plunge recklessly in to danger, it would be a useless act, because those entrusted to his care cannot get along by themselves. But if he withdraws and turns back to his own, they welcome him with great joy.

    We will face a crucial trial along your Journey. The danger of this challenge is very real. It is a test of our mettle. If we can maintain our integrity and stay true to our convictions, we will overcome. That's not as easy as it seems when we are faced with the sacrifice of other things we've come to depend upon or hold dear."

    "The bones have spoken!" says Thorgrim. "Praise the bones!" He then leans in to Berenn, chuckling lightly. "Haha are you seriously considering becoming wine pirates?"

    "I was not suggesting becoming wine pirates, Thorgrim. There is nothing illegal about the undertaking from our end. The Elder would be risking breaking his laws by selling the wine to us, but there is nothing that says we can't sell it once it is in our possession. I also don't see the point of a one time transaction. I am looking for someway to re-establish commerce in Nulb and selling something which is not available anywhere else in Verbobonc would be an excellent way to start."

    Hepla looks up and says, "Smuggling, I never said anything about that. We are an honest community and would never do that. The wine is for sale on an open market. We will just be increasing the demand and thus aiding the suppliers. Once we buy it then we can take it anywhere we want. Now we still have the small mater of a lost city to find."

    "Mm!" Thorgrim grunts. "Syllon Lathien, what are the queens decrees, exactly?"

    "Aye," says Rakk. "I, too, would like to know what her decrees on this are."

    "The are quite simple," he says. "No foreigners are to enter Celene. Celene elves are not permitted to leave the kingdom. All trade with foreigners is to be discontinued. All diplomatic relations are ended and all ambassadors withdrawn. The Fey Kingdom of Celene will no longer take part in the affairs of men."

    Thorgrim glances at Berenn but turns to Hepla, saying aloud, "And THAT is why you would be smugglers. A job best left to professionals." To Syllon, he says, "It seems she makes many exceptions, when it's expedient...including our very presence here. As long as the left hand does not know what the right is doing, eh?"

    "My question was about buying the wine," says Hepla. "If we can but should not, then we have our answer. Right now we are at the point of seeing the first diplomatic relations being established, let us not mess with that. We know where we can buy the wine let us be satisfied with that and move on."

    "Thorgrim my friend," answers Berenn, "We would not be smuggling the wine out of Celene. We would only be purchasing it and reselling it once it was smuggled out of Celene. That hardly makes us smugglers. More like traffickers than smugglers."

    Fred steps away from the wall and clears his throat. He listened quietly and politely to all the discussions...until now. "My friends, I have been listening, and I feel I must speak at this point. You are truly speaking of smuggling as if it were an alternative business entrepreneur's choice. I must dissuade you of this. Smuggling is an art form; it is a science; it is not to be considered lightly! Many a good man or honbiz' head has graced the spikes outside the Stoink Palace for treating smuggling without the respect it deserves. And many a dark cell holds fine folk who were good at the job, but just ran out of luck.

    "I do not speak idly of this subject, nor do I boast. I know a thing or two about smuggling. And what you are proposing would simply not make financial sense unless you made it your avocation. Could heroes like you smuggle a few wagonloads or even a shipload of this fine wine? Surely. Without doubt. But could a caravan of hirelings battle their way through such dangers for coin? Perhaps...but the losses would be very expensive. And the enemies you would accrue? Think of your friend the forget her. Think of the Organized Smugglers of the Central Flanaess! Would they welcome your entering the competition?"

    Fred looks passionately into the eyes of each of his new friends as he concludes his speech. "And before you disregard smugglers as common scum...ask yourselves, 'What do these folk do?' Why they are only trying to make a living. They fight the tyranny of taxation and the arbitrary whims of rulers and nobles who change borders like you might change a shirt. They fight unjust laws just to fed their starving children, and to make a better life for them. Think of how many used to regard adventurers for a moment. Another misunderstood class of people. Some say we burst in on humanoids and beasts of nature, slay them wantonly and reap their savings and belongings. We know better. Now, I hope I haven't over reached myself. But I would consider myself remiss if I didn't speak out now, before any hasty decisions was made, or worse! hasty money was lost.
    "I thank you." Freddy takes a step back and bows low, with a courtly flourish.

    "We can work with pirates," says Noot. "All we have to do is find something to their advantage. And I agree with Fred, smuggling is simply getting people what they want or need when circumstances prevent them from having it. It is honorable work which sometimes can change the flow of history."

    Hepla says, "It was an interesting idea but now I think we need to move on to our mission." She steps over to Fred and says, "Spoken well, my friend,...giggle... and I do mean spoken well."

    Fred says to Noot,"Why thank you friend!" With his most charming grin, to Hepla,"Acting, my dear, acting. But said in all earnest. Now. Let's git on th' road 'n' crack some Ettercap domes!"

    "Choose whatever term you like," Thorgrim says. "Would you say that a fence who specializes in the sale of stolen goods was a thief, or simply a merchant? Whichever title you choose, his actions and their consequences remain the same. My moral instruction is done for the day. For more, you will have to look to your heart, and to your god. And for that you must pray. I care not whence you get your wine."

    Thorgrim crosses his arms, then uncrosses them in order to take another draught. "Though this wine is delicious, Syllon! The best I've tasted. It seems a sin to keep its like hoarded away from all who might enjoy it."

    "Are we smugglers or adventurers?" asks Emyn.

    "Emyn," answers Berenn, "we are adventures for now, but some of us have other responsibilities and I also have no intention of adventuring until I am old and gray. When opportunities present themselves moving forward, I am going to explore them. But for now, Elder if you give me the name of your man in Prinzfeld, I will make contact will him when we are ready to do business."

    "But you're already old and grey, Berenn," Emyn says with a straight face.

    "I'm guessin' I'm older'n ary but th' Olvenfolk amonst us," says Fred, "I'll be three score 'n' five on the next Needfest. An'd y'll never in a thousand years guess which day it is!
    But then we hobniz do age gracefully..."Fred winks at Sir Berenn.

    "Wow," Hepla says, "I'm not even 18 yet. On my birthday this year I hope for a special gift." ...giggle, blush, giggle...

    "When is your birthday, my dear? Maybe The Great Burrower will dig up something special for you this year!" Fred wiggles his eyebrows at Hepla. "Surely you know the Great Burrower comes every year for good girls, don't you? Well, at least he does where I grew up. Gems, dresses, even pets were brought for good hobniz kids. On their birthdays, ya know..."

    With further discussions about smuggling shelved, you finish the night, making plans to buy wine in the future. You get the name of Syllon's agent in Rittersmarch, where you are going now anyway. You can leave in the morning. It's a four day journey, barring issues.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:18 pm  
    Part 6 - Ulek

    You head out the next day, cross the Handmaiden into the County of Ulek, and make your way south along the road. You find that as soon as you cross the river, the temperature drops about 10 degrees. It's starting to get cool this late in the season, which you didn't notice while within the elven realm. It's a 4 day journey to Rittersmarche, capital of the Prinzfeld. You have a relatively uneventful journey for the first three days, and you camp for the night in a small village which sits just inside of the Principality of Ulek, as attested by a large signpost. You have entered the province of Prinzfeld.

    Prinzfeld is a prosperous province which occupies the extreme northern corner of the principality. It is squeezed between the Jewel River and the Suss Forest to the east and the lower Lortmils to the west. In between, the land is rich, green and pleasant. Human and halfling farmers till the soil, while human rangers or woodsmen hunt the slopes of the Lortmils and the grim depths of the Suss Forest. The land is a peaceful one, unused to conflict since the Hateful Wars nearly 70 years ago. The worship of gentle Ehlonna, brave St. Cuthbert, and stern Heironeous is most common here. Grain from Prinzfeld’s fields, fruit from its orchards, and game from its forest help feed the principality, while Prinzfeld’s archers and scouts help keep the land free.

    The weather holds, though it clouds up quite heavily, and you reach Rittersmarche the next day. Rittersmarche is not a huge city, by your experience, but to the citizens of Prinzfeld, it is large indeed. A sprawl of whitewashed stone or plaster-and-timber houses lies at the junction of the province’s major roads. Near the center of Rittersmarche, a bell tower rises-locals tell you that this is the town hall, where the city fathers conduct municipal business. The town looks quite calm and normal, with people quietly going about their everyday business.

    Rittersmarche, Province of Prinzfeld in Principality of Ulek

    Hepla enjoys thinking about her birthday for a day, then banishes the thought for it gets in the way of her magic. The last two days she would have taken time during each break and when camp was set to hunt herbs. She figures that the elf forest should have some she might have never seen before. She finds a few things, unsure of what they are she simply packs them away to study later.

    Isilme seems sullen and silent, lost in her own thoughts.

    "Well, I guess the Great Burrower'd better start saving his Orbs and Nobles, Needfest isn't that far away, eh?" As ever, Fred enjoyed every moment of travel...the moreso when he wasn't on ponyback. Looking for signs of turning leaves, he expects the turn of the season not far away.

    "Back in the beautiful Ulek states! Nice, orderly Ulek! Full of prosperous farmers, lovely noniz ladies, wealthy dwur miners and fat, happy hobniz families! Great chow, even better beer, and best of all - HOSP-itality! You know, friends, I never been to this here Rittersmarche. Have any of youse? Anybody know a good alehouse?"

    With a smile of anticipation, Fred mounts up again to arrive in town in style, with Jojo perched merrily upon his shoulder.

    You find a large inn/tavern in the center of town, just off the square with the bell tower. It is the Sign of the Lion, and has a large iron sign hanging in front. Inside, you hear halflings singing!

    [img] [/img]

    Entering the inn, you find it quit a large establishment. There is a large fireplace to the right, surrounded by stools, a bar towards the back, and a large open area with a half-dozen long oaken tables about 10-15' long, chairs to either side. There are about a dozen patrons currently, including a trio of halflings singing and drinking from what seem overly large mugs, ale slurping from the sides as they toast.

    Noot, upon entering the inn, first asks for ale, then starts to study both the patrons and the architecture. He also starts to share with Fred some of his nautical background. Meanwhile, the party finds some chairs along a long table along one wall where they wait to get some food and drink. The men fall into a discussion about their fathers, with Rakk telling them about their "impromptu 'training sessions.'"

    "He beats me within an inch of my life with a blunted sword at unexpected times," he says, as if it's the most normal thing in the world.

    "You are better off," replies Berenn. "At least you remember everything...I have a dead space I can't fill in and may not want filled in."

    Emyn says, "My father never beat me but the memories I had of him were not warm. He worked hard all day until he was murdered. I do wish he would have known who I have become though. I think he would be proud." He then realizes what he just said aloud and blushes and then takes a long pull on his ale.

    Rakk just laughs,"Mine STILL works hard all day. He just wishes I was as interested as he." He then orders a drink in as large a container as they have.

    "Careful what you ask for," laughs Vaddarra. "The tavern wench may need some help carrying that keg out from the back room."

    Fred walks in with a wide grin, throws his arms open and shouts, (In hobniz-vocca: "Have I reached the Heavens of Charmalaine? Because I hear the songs of angels!"

    (In Common) "My friends I'm starting to feel at home for the first time in a long time! The drinks are on me!"

    Fred looks around the room, trying to take in everything. He especially looks over the halfling patrons and employees. He waves happily to them, trying to see if he recognizes any of them as family or as past-associates. Unlikely, true, but Fred is nothing if not an optimist. He walks up to the bar, climbs up a stool and calls out,

    "A mug of your finest clamberskull, my good ostler! This round is on me." Fred slaps a handful of gold coins on the bar.

    Merrily slapping Thorgrimm on the back, Fred asks, "Do you like hobniz brews? I've had dwur ales as well as Gutshaker in th'' lived ta tell the tale...not quite th' same animal, are they? Now let's see th' diff'rence 'tween halfling hospitality and Olven, what?

    "I would say yes," Thorgrim says, "But I haven't tried them all, yet."

    Callimng out to the halfling singers, Fred asks, "Anybody know the tune, 'The Highwayman of Riftcrag'?"

    They begin to sing, quite in earnest....

    "The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
    The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
    The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor
    And the highwayman came riding,
    Riding, riding,
    The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door."

    Emyn relaxes and smiles as the halfling's song lifts his spirits and he begins to clap along to the melody. It's the first you have seen him relax since you entered Celene.

    While everyone is enjoying themselves Hepla steps outside to enjoy the night air. To be safe she morphs into a large cat and prowls around the inn for 15 minutes. While you wait for food, the inn's proprietor comes up. He is a short halfling, and without doubt the hairiest you have ever seen. He introduces himself as Rippi 'the Old Furry' of Rittersmarche. While Fred doesn't know him, you recognize the name instantly. This is Syllon's contact!

    [Fred OOC: I LOVE that song! Totally got me to buy Loreena McKennit's CD when I first heard it. Also made me a lifelong fan of hers.]

    Fred would like to introduce himself, but is entranced by the song, wiping a tear away at its end. After it ends he applauds wildly. Then he climbs down off his stool and approaches Rippi. "Good day to you cousin! Fredegar Bugscuttle, of the Stoink Bugscuttles, pleased ta meetcha! Me friends call me Flick, and I hope t' count ya among 'em"

    Shaking hands enthusiastically with Rippi, he introduces him all around to his new friends. "We've just traveled thru ol' Celene, and let me tell ya, it's nice to be in your town! Nice folk, the Olves, but they could use some hobniz lessons on good food and brewin'. Beautiful country too. I ain't been here in th' Ulek states in years; what's th' news?"

    Rippi smiles, seemingly pleased to meet Fred. "Please, call be Old Furry, everyone else does." He leans in and whispers to Fred. "Sorta keeps 'em all off their guard, you know? Who worries about The Old Furry?"

    At the mention of the name, Berenn gets up and moves over. "We spoke to Elder Syllon and he said you might be able to help us with a certain problem, if there is a more private place to talk."

    Fred leans over and whispers back,

    "I go for cute, me self. Like Granny sez, tickle 'em with the right, 'n' get th' purse w' the left! Lemme introduce ya t' Berenn Silverwoods - he's th' one wi' biz for ya."

    Fred gestures with a flourish to Sir Berenn and steps back to the bar.

    The Old Furry, as he asks to be called with a wink towards Fred, waves Berenn back down. "Ah please, just take your seats. If you be friends a his, you be friends a mine. I'll get ya some good food and drink (we have the most excellent Celene wines!), then we can talk."

    "Old Furry, jim-lad-old-fella-me-boyo, it'll be Ulek stout an' a BIG ol' plate o' eels wi' leeks ,n' taters fer me," says Fred. "That Celene wine is the bees knees, but I've 'ad me fill fer a time."

    Looking over to see if his comrades were ready to talk business, Fred says, "Don't lemme stop yez if yer ready t' talk biz -nizz...but if ya ain't, can ye tell us? What news of Ulek? Around here 'n' the bastardy Pomarj border?" Fred keeps an ear open for whatever new musical delights the singers have in store.

    You learn that the Pomarj is in chaos. The rumors that have reached here come from a group of refugees which arrived in Thunderstrike last year. Apparently, the leaders of the Pomarj slave trade ruled from a hidden city in the mountains. A group of adventurers had played havoc with their operations, killing some and even destroying one of their fortresses. Those adventurers led a large group of freed slaves out of the Pomarj, and shortly thereafter, the Slavelords apparently were wiped out by a volcanic eruption. Since then, the entire land has dissolved into violence and bloodshed.

    "Sounds familiar," says Noot with a rare smile.

    Isilme says to Thorgrim, "Perhaps we should look in on the Half-Orc we befriended and see if he needs any aid. The Pomarj in chaos is not a good thing."

    To Isilme, quietly: "Aye, Turrosh Mak was a credit to his race. Races. May be that he has a firmer take on the situation. Perhaps we can scry him? A power vacuum always invites bloodshed, and evil. It's a conundrum. Do we do nothing, and capitulate against evil? The problem can only be helped by the promotion of Good in evil's absence, lest worse evil rises in its place. A difficult process."

    He takes a swig of ale, then lights his pipe. "I fear that slaying Lord Sturm may have caused the greatest Chaos in the region, worse even than demolishing the slavers. And so my own hand may drip blood from the trouble I've caused. He plead for mercy, as I recall...I possessed none that day." Thorgrim takes a draw from his pipe, thinking.

    "It tastes different when I smoke it from the dragonbone." Then, to Furry he says, "What of Highport?"

    Hepla puts her head down knowing she was partially to blaim. After a moment she cheers herself with the thought that they did get rid of one evil. Thorgrim puffs his pipe, thinking on Slavers and carts full of live victims. He thinks on Markessa, and her strange obsession with surgical perfection. He awaits details on the violence from Furry.

    [Fred OOC DON'T tell me...YOU people put Turosh Mak on the road to Empire? I love it!]

    Fred enjoys REAL hobniz food and drink, sweet songs and good companionship. It had been a long time since he'd enjoyed them - since before the disaster in the depths. Fred burps courteously, and says, "Any news from the north? Shield Lands? Stoink maybe?"

    Old Furry doesn't know anything from up north. "We don't get much news from the north," he says. "Kinda long way around, you see." He takes out a pipe himself, plopping down on a seat at your table. He calls on a couple of other halflings to serve him as well. "I may as well take a break too," he adds, puffing away. He then hands his pouch to Fred. "Try this," he says. "Fresh from the South Laires of Celene; my brother's sister's cousin's farm."

    "Hmm..Celeni pipeweed? Don't mind if I do!"

    Fred fills his pipe and puffs away, sending a blue cloud above the table. "Not bad, Old Furry me-laddy-boyo. Hmmph. Actually very good. Mellow. Hints of roanwood...tangy...What d'ya get fer a pound o' the gear? I could maybe take a twenny-weight off ya. I mean. It's no Bolger's Best. Y'ever have Bolger's? From outa Elmshire? Best o' the best's best. Still this is right on up there! Whassit called?"

    Freddy leans back, closes his eyes, listening, and puffs, a very happy Halfling.

    "If you don't mind me asking Old Furry, what is your arrangement with the elves regarding the wine? How much could you get, resell and how easy would it be to transport to Thunderstrike?"

    You learn that he sells almost all their wine. "It's not like I'm a smuggler, son," he says with a wink.

    [Berenn OOC: See he doesn't consider himself a smuggler and seems like such a fine upstanding gentleman!]

    [Rakk OOC: Just as fine and upstanding as Fred or Noot or Derry or any thief of your acquaintance.]

    You quickly work out details on shipping wine to the Watchlands, if that is Berenn's fancy. It is all rather simple, and not really a big deal. Unless you have anything more to do/add, you can rest and then continue on your way in the morning.

    With everything concluded, the party goes to sleep. Thorgrim intrudes on Isilme before bed. "It would ease me mind if you could scry Turrosh Mak," he says.

    Isilme agrees, and she casts Magic Mirror, attempting to locate their one-time companion. She scries Turrosh Mak, and finds him standing on the rim of the valley, overlooking Suderham, or more precisely where Suderham once was. The entire side of the ancient caldera seems to have blown out, emptying the great lake which surrounded the island city of Suderham. The island still remains, but it now rises from a great mud-basin. Most of the area is still an ash-covered, blasted landscape.

    Suderham crater

    Turrosh Mak seems to be sorely wounded, and he stands proudly wielding a great spear. Around him are many other orc warriors, though they are armed and armored much differently than any orcs you have ever seen, their equipment far better than your average savage. They seem to have more discipline as well, standing in ordered ranks. At Turrosh Mak's feet is a great gnoll warrior, prostrate, and Turrosh Mak has his foot on the gnoll's neck. He then lets him up, and the creature rises. Turrosh Mak gives him back his weapon, a great flindbar, and the thing raises it in salute and lets out a roar (which is all silent since you are just scrying). The orcs answer with a great cheer and salute as well. What this all means, you can only guess....

    [Isilme OOC: Cool. Since I am hearing Turrosh Mak is supposed to turn out to be supra evil maybe we should have killed him. See why letting Isilme behead and burn everyone is a good thing?]

    [Thorgrim OOC: I don't read other published GH sources...they're completely irrelevant to our game. Isilme and Thorgrim wanted some inside information from the Pomarj. So to that charge of meta-gaming I plead: Not Guilty!]

    To Isilme, Thorgrim says, "Looks like Turrosh Mak has become some sort of leader to his people, or a warlord at least. This bodes well, if he can change their very nature as he'd hoped. It looks to me like that gnoll just surrendered his people to Orcish Dominion...perhaps to join forces? Whether for good or for ill, it is certain that Fate is dealing out cards faster than the possessor of a Deck of Many Things."

    Thorgrim thinks for a long moment, adjusting his eyepatch. "We journey soon into the Suss. We see Markessa, you slit her throat. No speeches, no've already had that privilege. Be ye wary...her power may have grown since last we crossed paths."

    [DM OOC: Hey, it wasn't so much a charge, just a comment. You know how I get sometimes! As for reading other GH sources, I actually encourage that. The more you know about the world in general, the better!

    Now, Turrosh Mak was NEVER a bad guy, so he doesn't really fall into Isilme's "behead and burn everyone" philosophy. He actually helped you quite a bit, saving a few lives in the process. I am pretty sure killing him never was a question; you guys rescued him and he joined you immediately to fight against the Slavelords. He's cool, one of my favorite characters. I also have been hoping to bring him up, because I loved the pic I found for him!]

    [Thorgrim OOC: But Markessa does! For those who are new, she is already under a death sentence for her crimes, as far as any members of the party are concerned. She is far too dangerous and evil to allow to live. She was last rumored to be hiding out in the Suss.]

    "Woe to us the day we find her," says Thorgrim, "and woe to her, we hope."

    Freeday, 21st of Patchwall (581)
    OK, so you move on in the morning. They weather is about the same, though clouds begin to move in. You spend another day traveling south, arriving at Brenfluss around midday. Brenfluss is a tiny village, with a small cluster of huts surrounded by human and halfling farms. They point out the road towards the Suss, thought they do not know why you would be interested in going there. You make it to the forest by nightfall, and camp in a secluded glade. The forest on this side of the river is relatively peaceful and well patrolled. I assume you will wait until the morning to cross the river into the Suss Forest proper?

    Even though we're sleeping on the safer side of the river, Vaddarra is still going to cast Wyvern Watch before going to sleep. Thorgrim sets up his Fortress, and teaches Vaddarra and Fred the magic word that allows entry. Meanwhile, Hepla again searches for new herbs. Emyn will also accompany her on the hunt, and then take his proper turn as guard for the camp.

    "We might as well also take a look at the riverbanks to see evidence of crossings," he says. "If someone can track. It might give us an idea of where better to watch for incursions."

    Berenn will scout the camp site and surrounding area. He will put his elven cloak on for the scouting. He finds nothing of interest, and the party passes another uneventful evening. In the morning you can continue on your way.

    Starday, 22nd of Patchwall (581)
    The new dawn brings dark clouds moving up from the south, along with light rain and increasing winds. Temperatures are still rather warm, never having dropped below 50 overnight. You gather up your belongings and head out, cresting the rolling wooded hills when you gain your first view of the Suss Forest.

    Suss Forest (ignore power lines and picnic tables!) :)

    You sit astride your mounts, looking across the wide, slow moving river at the dark, forbidding forest beyond. You notice that Rakk seems unusually uncomfortable, though for him, it manifests as slight fidgeting.

    [Isilme OOC: Unless I misunderstand where we are there is never any need to cross until we get to the cross part of the river. That heads deep into the forest and right into where we are going.]

    [DM OOC: That is pretty much where you are. Rakk knew enough to lead you to the area of the river, generally speaking, where he once found Suel ruins. He's not a ranger, and that was a few years ago, so he cannot be 100% sure. However, it's around here somewhere. The map that Isilme saw and recreated is large scale, with about 50 miles/inch. There really are not any distinguishing features on it to help you out, so you will have to search and find the place on your own. What is certain is that you are "close" to the right place.]

    Noot takes a look at the water, feels it's temperature and wonders if it's possible to swim across, knowing that most horses are adequate swimmers if the water isn't too deep or swift. Of course, he hopes the magic users will come up with an easier way to cross.

    The water is cool, as it's is mostly fed from the fast-moving streams and rivers from the Lortmils and travels through shady stretches of forest for most of its length. And it's also getting close to winter. However, the river is not flowing too quickly and seems low compared to its banks.

    Fred will hang on to his pony as it swims across. It doesn't look that far, nor is his pony heavily laden. Should be no problem. If there are problems, well, Fred can swim.

    "Rakk is a huge fighter," says Vaddara. "If he seems uneasy about crossing this river, I'd be up for finding a ford (or something). The water looks swift moving and non of us know what might or might not be in the water," she says. Vaddara has heard stories of ambush situations by animals like crocodiles while crossing rivers.

    [Berenn OOC: Berenn will cast Water Walk on the mounts and Rakk (assuming he is not mounted). I believe I will have to use the spell twice to get everyone (I can effect 8 creatures per spell, I think I will have to cover 10 or 11 creatures total), but it will provide us with a quick way across the river and the spell lasts over an hour. More than enough time to cross into the forest.]

    Berenn and Vaddara each cast the spell and lead all the horses onto the river. They get a bit skittish, but cross with no problems. Hepla just swims, using her Cloak of the Manta Ray, and once across you find her waiting for you. Rakk is very quiet now.

    Vaddara is in quite a good mood. "That was easier than expected," she says cheerfully.

    Thorgrim was about to let his horse swim across, since all horses are good swimmers, before going along with Berenn's plan instead. "Well, it'll keep the leather dry," he says.

    [Thorgrim OOC: This was almost as good as when you dudes made the ice bridge when you could've simply walked across the shallow ford...just before I joined, as I recall.]

    Hepla checks on Rakk, who quietly replies, "I don't like deep water." He then moves off to gather some wood for a fire. Thorgrim doesn't find a good place to set up his fortress, so the party sleeps just up from the riverbank. After settling watches, doubled in this dangerous area, everyone goes to sleep. Despite nagging doubts and the foreboding atmosphere, the evening is uneventful, though there are many strange sounds from the forest. Still, they sleep undisturbed and wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to proceed into the Suss Forest.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:04 pm  
    Part 7 - Into the Suss Forest

    Sunday, 23rd of Patchwall (581)
    Your evening is uneventful, though there are many strange sounds from the forest. Still, you sleep undisturbed and wake up in the morning. There is a strong breeze, and the air's a bit cooler, but it's still pretty warm. Isilme takes off to scout around as an invisible dragon. Meanwhile, Rakk seems himself again, and he is pretty sure he can lead the way to the ruins that he and his companions investigated a few years ago. Being Suel ruins, that must be the right direction to this lost city.

    Isilme flies off for about an hour, following the river. She doesn't see anything that catches her eye along the river, and looking East it's just a vast green carpet as far as she can see. There are some hills, maybe a day's walk deeper into the forest. She comes back and reports, and Rakk says that the ruins they found were in the hills.

    The party sends out Berenn to investigate the area ahead before they just plunge into the forest. Berenn comes back to the party about a half-hour later, warning them that the area ahead is thick with spiderwebs.

    [DM OOC: Incidentally, this is a real giant communal spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas. Found in 2007.]

    "Do we have protection spells?" asks Noot, not looking pleased at the prospect of dealing with spiders.

    "'Twould take as much power to protect as to cure those who get poisoned," Thorgrim says. "A fire may attract the evil treants that dwell within this dank forest, though possibly not, if it's controlled. I really can think of no better way...maybe missile weapons...and bait. Can we not go around? It is true that predators often have treasure from their prior victims lying about..."

    Emyn says, "Just shoot a few fire arrows into it. IF it is anything like that web spell we got burnt in once, then it should kill the spiders inside."

    "I really don't care for spiders," says Elrae, "and would rather find the path of least resistance to the hidden city." That being said, Elrae has his crossbow out and begins to find his crushed diamond powder for a stone skin spell.

    Freddy the Flick readys his daggers after dismounting. Jojo securely hidden in his pocket, he edges forward, listening to his Danger Sense. "I had a cousin who had a run-in with giant spiders. Luckily for him, he got rescued. Still, the whole thing made me a little leery of the beasties. And they're all over the place in the UnderOerth...Good thing I'm travelling with such mighty warriors and archmagi!"

    "I hope they don't squirt acid," says Emyn. "I hate that stuff."

    Thorgrim dismounts while we find a way to get around. He unties a strap and sets his Adventuring Backpack on the ground. Souldrinker is in his hands. Rakk brings up the crossbow, checks it, and waits. Hepla casts Fly and, carefully, flies up to see if she can see a way around. Hepla has flown off through the trees, while Isilme has flown up to the party, though she is still invisible. The huge spider nest is about 50 yards ahead. It seemed to go on for at least 50-100 yards or so, as that was as far as Berenn could originally see.

    Fred cautiously advances, moving as silently as possible, sticking to shadows. He looks for a way around the webs. Hepla starts to fly back to the party when a line of strong filament streaks out at her, hitting her in the leg and holding her fast. She can't see anything except a large mass off to the side. Nobody on the ground can see anything, as Hepla is too high up in the trees. Meanwhile, a HUGE spider lunges up from beneath the ground, faster than even Fred can react. Fred is hit for [6]. He is knocked to the ground and effectively grappled.

    Fred went off around to the right, kind of scouting and moving silently. Unfortunately, not silent enough for a giant trapdoor spider! Hepla is flying up above, and got snagged by something. Berenn is standing at the head of the main party, with Rakk and Thorgrim (who dismounted) standing behind him. Behind them is Emyn, Noot, and Elrae, mounted. Behind them are Vaddarra and Altan, also mounted. Isilme is back in the rear somewhere, invisible.

    Fred flicks his readied daggers at the Spider of Unusual Size. "Take that, ya creepy great lummox! Have a taste o' good Stoink steel!" mutters Fred. "Hurt Pony, will ya? Pick on someone yer own size ye bastid!"

    Most the party members are on their horses. Hepla and a spider are haloed in yellow, as usual for indicating altitude. She's about 50' up or more, and hidden in foliage, so nobody on the ground can really see her. Remember, this forest is very dense with thick canopies. The map may not show it perfectly, but hey, you take what you can get when you're just finding images online!

    [Emyn OOC: Emyn was going to throw a flask of oil against the tree that Hepla is over. He will then throw a lit torch on the oil, whether the ranger likes it or not.]

    [Berenn OOC: Really? Every one of your characters has played with fire and it has never turned out good. You may want to rethink setting the forest on fire. I don't care if he hears a choir of angels from the heavens, if he starts a fire it is going to end bad ... period!
    Headline in tomorrow's edition of the Celene Gazette: Impulsive Human burns down Suss Forest with a single flask oil and one torch.]

    [Emyn OOC: At least it will be purged of evil.]

    The spider and Hepla pull against each other, and Hepla is able to keep her distance. The horses seem spooked by the activity, and push away from the spider attacking Fred. Rakk fires his ballista, missing. The spider quickly retreats back into its hole, pulling Fred along with it!

    Elrae casts Stoneskin. Emyn and Noot both fumble around for torches, flint, and steel. Berenn and Thorgrim move up to the the area where the spider disappeared. They cant readily see where it went, as the trapdoor is so well camouflaged. They root around through the brush and find the trapdoor, which is closed.

    Altan cannot see any targets now, so he holds his fire, arrow ready and scanning the area carefully. Vaddarra has no targets now, and since she moved last anyway, she cannot cast your spell now. Isilme flies up to see what's going on. She heard Hepla's cry, and is looking around. She sees a large spider in the trees, a thick webline stretching from the spider to Hepla, who is stuck to a glob of webbing at the end of the line.

    Berenn finds the spider's "trapdoor" and Thorgrim rips it open. Inside they see Fred firmly in the spider's grasp. The spider continues biting [6], while Fred stabs the spider [4]. The horses run off to the south.

    Isilme casts Summon Swarm, and a large swarm of hornets flies over, attacking the spider. It is pretty much busy dealing with lots of hornets now. [ooc: good spell!]

    Vaddarra dismounts and moves up to the spider's hole, ready to cast her spell and help Fred. Noot has lit a torch. Rakk reloads, while Elrae and Altan keep watch.

    Two huge spiders come out of the foliage, one ahead of Rakk and one near Altan).

    Altan fires his readied arrow into the nearest spider, the one coming up behind him. It streaks into it, hitting it in the abdomen [14]. It moves up and attacks Noot, biting his horse. The animal rears up, throwing Noot from the saddle. The horse is pulled over on its side, and it screams a very loud and unsettling sound as it starts to convulse. Noot falls [2], but quickly rolls up, brandishing the flaming torch.

    The other large spider rushes forward, quicker than Rakk can fire. It attacks him, biting ineffectively against Rakk's dragon hide armor. Rakk's wolf, Ralph, leaps around Rakk, biting the spider [5], while Rakk fires his ballista point blank, hitting the thing in the head [8].

    Isilme keeps the swarm on the spider, while Hepla finishes cutting away the strand binding her. She still has a big sticky ball attached to her, but is no longer attached via the webline to the spider. Emyn switches to his bow.

    Vaddarra now casts the Selective Entangle. The one attacking Fred lets go, as the roots in its hole suddenly reach out and grab it, holding it tight. Fred stabs one last time [4], before quickly scurrying back out of the hole. Since neither Berenn nor Thorgrim can actually reach the spider without crawling into the hole, neither attempts to do so. However, Thorgrim throws the trapdoor closed. Berenn moves up to check on Fred, who stumbles to the ground, taking [1 damage from the poison bite]. Berenn sees a very nasty bite, and strange discoloration there. Fred has been poisoned!

    Suddenly, another large creature leaps out of the bushes at Elrae. In the split second before it strikes, he recognizes it, having faced its kind before. It's an ettercap. It throws a large net of spider silk over Elrae, entangling him.

    Altan fires his next shot, hitting the same spider again [14] and a third time [14]. [Wow, three hits, all doing max damage!] The spider dies, three arrows pinning it to the ground!

    Vaddarra's horse also runs away to the south. All the horse have run that way now; they're off the bottom edge of the map, maybe 100' or so.

    Elrae is entangled by a net. Fred's outlined in a black halo, to show he's poisoned.

    Berenn says a prayer to St. Cuthbert, neutralizing the poison coursing through Fred's body. Fred instantly feels warm, as the poison in cleansed.

    "Much obliged Berenn old bean! I owe ya one. That was less pleasant than a wet kiss. Did I mention I hate spiders?" calls Fred, his voice a little higher than usual. "Now what? Oh and at this point, maybe burning the trees down isn't such a bad idea..." Fred draws and readies his sling, loading it with a deadly lead bullet. "Ewww...I'm all covered in spider drool!"

    Hepla casts magic missile, unerringly sending her bolts into the bola spider [21]. It falls to the ground with a thud. Thorgrim moves around to it, looping past Noot and to the Ettercap's flank, and finishes off the fallen spider as he moves, smashing its head in.

    The Ettercap claws and bites at Elrae, but the Stoneskin protects him. Elrae struggles with the net, unable to get it free, and his horse bolts off through the woods, following the other horses. He holds on for dear life, and barely manages to not fall off.

    Vaddarra summons a large ball of lightning, which she launches at the ettercap. It is hit [18] and it starts to convulse from the shock. As it comes to, Altan fires a shot from his bow, hitting it in the chest [10]. Altan hits it with another arrow [14]. The second hits the ettercap in the face, flinging it backwards and to the ground.

    Meanwhile, Rakk quickdraws his blades and kills the spider attacking him. He sees movement ahead, towards the web nest. Drawing his dagger, Noot leaps atop the large rock next to him. Over Rakk's shoulder, he too sees more spiders in the distance, moving this way from towards the great web nest that Berenn found. A lot of them.

    [DM OOC: All the beasties in your immediate area are dead, but more are coming up. It looks like a few dozen, at least. All the horses have run off except for Altan's and Emyn's. Elrae is still on his horse, and still entangled in a net and clinging on, so he really doesn't even know where he is. The rest of the party is pretty much were they were. There seem to be at lest a few dozen giant spiders, maybe more. The entire forest floor seems to moving towards you in one large chittering (do spiders do that?) wave.]

    Thorgrim says to Berenn, "Better save your Poison Control for later, after we've dealt with these. Don't let Emyn start any fires." Thorgrim retrieves his backpack and dons it, returning to where he was to protect the weaker party members from the onslaught. "Girls!" he shouts. "We've got company!"

    Isilme flies off towards the nest, though nobody really knows because she's invisible. Emyn is able to catch up to Elrae's horse, and he grabs the reigns, pulling it to a stop. Meanwhile, Elrae is still caught up in the net, which is now all twisted and tangled hopelessly around him. Noot gives Altan his torch, before running off with to catch the other horses and corral them. Vaddarra casts Insect Plague, summoning other insects which successfully slow down the spiders, while Rakk pulls out a couple of flasks of oil.

    Hepla sees the spiders slow down, and throws her sleep conconction, the stuff taken from the inn at Suderham, down there, where it starts to work on them. The wind picks up and blows fumes towards Rakk and the others, so they throw their oil and the burning torch before running away. Between the fire, the insect plague, and the sleep gas, the spiders are effectively stopped. Everyone catches up to Berenn and the others, and they jump on horses to take off.

    Meanwhile, Isilme summons the power of her Goddess, turning a huge swath of webs to dust. Dozens more spiders erupt from the great communal nest, as well as three more ettercaps. You never recall even hearing of there being more than two ettercaps together, and even that is rare; now you have seen four!

    The rest of the party is now a few hundred yards from the spiders and out of immediate danger. The rain continues to pick up, as does the wind, which is maybe up to about 20mph now.

    "Let's get out of here! yells Berenn. "Head back toward the river."

    "Holy Charmalain, people! Let's get while the gettin's good. Nice job on the spell-flingin' ladies ! Truly impressive nastiness!" yells Fred. Fred mounts Pony and rides like the wind with the rest of the ground pounders. He's keeping a weather eye on the grouns ahead for more trapdoors. "Now where to?"

    By the time you mount up, the rain is coming down in buckets. You make your way back towards the river, trying to put as much distance between yourselves and the spiders. The storm continues to intensify, and truly, none of you have ever seen rain quite so strong. The wind has gradually increased to such intensity, that branches and other things are flying through the air. You hear the sound of breaking limbs as the forest is buffeted by the storm.

    "That was a sticky situation. Good job," Thorgrim says to all. "Berenn, a Neutralize Poison for our good friend Elrae, here? I suggest we set up shop to wait out the storm and await Isilme's return. No spiders larger than my fist can bother us inside." Thorgrim looks for an elevated spot that's visible from the air to set up his Fortress. Then he will cast CLW on Fred. Assuming we set up camp, he will request a Log of Everburning from Berenn.

    "I'm fine," says Elrae. "They couldn't get by my stoneskin."

    "We have to decide whether we are here to clear the forest of all evil or here to find the city," says Isilme. "Fighting everything nets us nothing in the latter cause. We should also be careful to not use the tower once the storm finally breaks. Nothing attracts unwanted attention like a giant tower springing from nowhere."

    "You are right about the tower...I have been thinking on it. I erected it so that you might easily find us." Thorgrim lights his pipe. "I think it unwise to exterminate the spiders we just fled. To what purpose? Revenge? We can't eradicate all the evil that lies within the Suss without burning the whole forest down. Mm! Or chopping it down." Thorgrim takes another draw. " I suggest we slog it through the mud at first light."

    The party passes a rather uneventful evening, though nobody gets much sleep as the weather steadily worsens. By morning you are dealing with a full tropical storm with gale force winds and sheets of rain. The Jewel River has risen a few feet, as runoff from the mountains has swelled it immensely. Luckily, Thorgrim set his tower on a small rise above the river.

    Moonday, 24th of Patchwall (581)
    You awake the next morning to a raging storm. It rains even harder, and winds are hitting about 40-50mph. Everything is wicked wet, and there's probably not much moving about in the forest. All movement rates are at 1/4 normal. Flying is definitely going to be difficult, if you wish to try. Berenn takes time to commune with nature, and he finds that it's supposed to get steadily worse for 4 days.

    "The lost city is already half-submerged in water," says Noot. "Another four days and who knows? We could be relaxing back at the Smugglers Inn for all the progress we've made, which is zero."

    "If we get caught in a flash flood we could lose our mounts and gear," says Berenn. "There are other dangers to consider moving in this weather, this is just isn't a spring storm, it is far worse."

    "Another glorious day, Berenn!" replis Thorgrim. "Travel is favored, as this hell-storm hides the sound of our passage."

    Thorgrim warms his bones by the fire as the party rises. "An hour to pray, as pleases Clanggedin. Do you think Markessa herself summoned this storm to thwart us? If she did, her powers have grown considerably."

    Thorgrim faces away from the fire to pray. Thoughts of Markessa's Fire Charm and her strange Illithid friend with his awesome mental powers flit through his mind, but he quickly dispels them and any fear.

    "I'm for waiting the storm out," says Altan.

    Elrae sings a song to pass the time:

    Hey man, take a look out the window 'n' see what's happ'nin'
    Hey man, it's rainin' It's rainin' outside man
    Aw, don't worry 'bout that
    Everything's gonna be everything
    We'll get into somethin' real nice you know
    Sit back and groove on a rainy day
    Yeah Yeah I see what you mean brother, lay back and groove.
    Rainy day, dream away ah let the sun take a holiday
    Flowers bathe an' ah see the children play
    Lay back and groove on a rainy day.
    Well I can see a bunch of wet creatures, look at them on the run
    The carnival traffic noise it sings the tune splashing up 'n'
    Even the ducks can groove rain bathin' in the park side pool
    And I'm leanin' out my window sill diggin' ev'rything
    And ah and you too.
    Rainy day, rain all day Ain't no use in gettin' uptight
    Just let it groove its own way
    Let it drain your worries away yeah
    Lay back and groove on a rainy day hey
    Lay back and dream on a rainy day.

    The party decides to wait until the weather breaks, and they stay in the relatively safe confines of Thorgrim's tower. Berenn keeps an eye on the waters outside, to make sure they are safe, but Thorgrim picked a good place.

    Starday, 1st of Ready'reat (581)
    [DM OOC: You are able to wait out the storm, which lasts for 6 days. Because you made SPECIFIC mention of watching the river, the tower, etc., you don't have any problems. I was giving serious consideration to having the tower undermined and fall; you are in a pretty bad storm. You also would have had other issues had you pressed on, like flash floods, getting lost, etc. So, it's a good thing you stayed put and were watchful. Actually, I rolled two back-to-back storms, one a tropical storm, the other a gale. More rain than any of you have ever seen falls during this period, and travel is simply impossible. By the time the storm ends, you can move on.]

    The storm passes on Starday, the first of Ready'reat. Temps are still warm in the day (high of 68) but dropping at night (low of 42). It's partly cloudy, with mild winds blowing about 10mph from the SW. However, the rain has passed. The forest is very wet. You have also used up a full week of food. Not sure how much you packed, but unless anyone's sheet says differently, I will assume you are totally out of rations now. Yes, I know, you have priests who can cast create food and drink. However, if you are going to go that route, you need to spell out what you're casting, who's doing it, etc., so I can update the player notes.

    Berenn will make sure the party gives the spider nest a real wide berth. The party can make its way towards the hills, as they did before, but giving the spider-infested area a wide berth. It will take longer to get there. They "may" make it to the hills by nightfall.

    Thorgrim takes down his fortress, and you prepare to leave, packing your belongings upon your horses. You hear the sound of something large moving through the woods. Out of the dense brush emerge a couple of 6' long scorpions. They move right towards you!

    Vaddarra begins to chant a prayer in her cold, native tongue. It won't take effect until next round (casting time of 2 rounds).

    Before anyone else can act (or Rakk draw his blades) the scorpions charge forward. Both attack Rakk. Rakk is grabbed by the claws of both scorpions [5] [5] and hit by a blow from the stinger of one [2*]. Rakk feels the burning of the poison as his limbs begin to clench tightly; however, he is able to fight off its effects after a few moments.

    Four more scorpions also burst through the brush behind these two. The charge, with two attacking Emyn's horse, one attacking Noot, and one charging through to the center of the camp, attacking Thorgrim's horse. Emyn's horse is attacked by both, grabbed by four claws, and has two legs actually ripped free. It screams madly as if flops and flounders, and a blow from a stinger mercifully puts an end to the horse's suffering. Noot is attacked, but manages to duck and weave around all the scorpion's attacks. Thorgrim's horse also manages to avoid a scorpion's claws, but it gets stuck by the stinger as it goes to bolt away. The horse rears up, kicking out madly. Thorgrim barely avoids being knocked off the stump he's standing on, as the horse stumbles off and falls over, quite dead.

    Fred was going to take out his sling, but with scorpions now right in front of him, he draws steel instead. He and Noot both tumble around it, with Fred rolling under the thing and coming up behind. They both hit, Fred scoring a 3x crit with his dagger [12] and Noot stabbing with "Black Knife" for [5]. Altan is already mounted, and he guides his mount to the side with his knees as he takes out his bow and arrows.

    Isilme casts Markessa's Maiming Missiles, a spell she's been waiting to try for some time. Stretching forth her hands, small metal shards seem to simply fire from her fingertips, streaking towards the scorpions. She aims at all three towards her front, and dozens of metal spikes hit the one attacking the thieves and one attacking Rakk. Both are killed as the steel quills shred through the creatures' shells.

    Hepla casts fly. Rakk draws both blades, as the scorpions have him grabbed around the waist and leg. He draws them, and begins to hack away at their hard, chitinous shells. He focuses on one, hitting it twice and taking large chunks out of it [20], but one blow bounces awkwardly off the thing's shell, rebounding into his own leg [19].

    Emyn draws his sword and steps back, placing himself between Hepla and the scorpions. Thorgrim takes out Souldrinker, but stays on top of his stump, as he gets a bit of height advantage. Berenn leaps atop his horse, while Elrae grabs the reigns of his and Isilme's horses and leads them away from the scorpions.

    Things should be obvious from this map. Emyn's and Thorgrim's horses are dead, as are two scropions. One is still holding Rakk around the waist, though he has his blades free. Elrae has moved south, taking two horses along with him. The dead scorpions are still there, as they now are obstacles; however, they have a big "X" on them.

    Rakk takes another [7] from the pincer which is holding him, and takes [8] from the other as it grabs him too. He is now grappled, and cannot attack. He can only try and break free. The two scorpions which grabbed the horses take off, dragging them away. The last one attacks Emyn, grabbing him in a claw [5]. Emyn is unable to attack, and fails to break free.

    Hepla flies up, as Berenn rides to Elrae, gives him his horse, and dismounts. Hepla's horse runs away at full speed.

    Altan fires two arrows, but both just bounce off the scorpion's hard shell.

    Vaddarra finishes her chant, which now is in effect. Noot and Fred finish off the scorpion, just in case, and then move towards the center, near Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim leaps off the stump and attacks the scorpion which grabbed Emyn, but he misses.

    Isilme casts another Markessa's Maiming Missiles, and kills the scorpion attacking Emyn. There is only one left, the one which grabbed Rakk.

    The next round, Rakk takes automatic damage from both claws [8] and [6] but is hit by another shot of the stinger [3]. He really is feeling the poison now, as he's taken two stings. There's just one scorpion left now, the other two having drug off the two dead horses. This last one has Rakk held tightly in two pincers, and is still trying to finish off the stubborn warrior. Rakk fails to break free, and the scorpion backs up, dragging him along. Hepla casts Magic Missile, which hits the scorpion for [15]. Emyn rushes up and hits it [10], and Fred and Noot rush over as well. They both hit with daggers, doing [5] and [6]. They drive their daggers through the hard shell, and twist them around, scrambling the thing's insides. It screeches, or whatever scorpions do, and falls to the ground, letting Rakk go.

    Thorgrim rushes up, smashing his pick through the thing's head, as Berenn casts a Neutralize Poison on Rakk, who was stumbling to the ground weakly. [DM OOC: He almost died. Rakk took half of his hit points in damage from the venom. One more round and that would have been it!]

    Hepla flies after her horse. After she catches her she will see if she sees the other horses and if she can bring them back also.

    [Berenn OOC: The DM seems to be on mission to see us walk this adventure.]

    Thorgrim says, "Ha! These bugs have us on the run. Scorpion poison works deadly-fast, it seems. Berenn, we'll have to round up our remaining horses before leaving. Or just abandon the lot of them. We may be attacked again, soon." He kicks his dead horse. "Pity we won't have time to render the carcasses. 'Twould make good eating. Rakk, over here, if you please." Thorgrim unstraps his backpack from his horse's saddle and puts it on. "I think I'll wear this, for the duration. Someone keep an eye out! And someone hack off those stingers!" he shouts.

    While we're waiting for Hepla to return, or if we're waiting, Thorgrim will cast some cures on Rakk. If there's more time, he will unstrap the saddle, open his Portable Hole, and toss it and the scorpion stingers inside. Later, after we're well away, Thorgrim will dig out his battleaxe and warhammer and wear those, too. At that time he will tuck away the stingers into some glass jars.

    Rakk takes out the crossbow and loads it. "Father said, 'Always be prepared. Attacks come unexpected.' Got beat up enough for it. Never again."

    Elrae has the other horses, and Hepla flies over to help. The sounds of the other scorpions quickly fades away as they crash through the brush, dragging the two dead horses. Thorgrim heals 48hp for Rakk. Berenn heals 10hp by using his rod. Then Thorgrim takes and cuts the scorpion tails off and puts them in one of the empty chests inside his portable hole.

    [DM OOC: I wanted to address this. Since you could not hunt or anything for the week you were hunkered down during the storm, everyone used a week of rations. Emyn shared with Hepla. This leaves the following:

    Thorgrim: 1 week left
    Altan: 1 week left
    Rakk: 3 weeks left
    Vaddarra: 1 week left

    The mounts are also all out of food. Create Food and Drink will make enough food for your mounts each day. You also can make enough for the entire party each day. Since it spoils after a day, this has to happen each day. Thus, you will need two spells/day. I will assume Berenn will cast one and Vaddarra the other. As for water, you basically need a gallon every day. That's easy enough to come by here, especially after a storm. You also can Create Water, which is 4 gallons/level. So, one spell/day will provide all the water you guys need. If we assume Vaddarra casts it, being more druid-like, then that will take care of your water requirements.]

    As the day passes, you find the forest floor is totally soaked, and little small rivulets running down from the hills towards the river behind you. You start to gain altitude as you reach the hills, and about an hour before dark you spy the ruins that Rakk remembers, castle walls rising high above you.

    Berenn findse large footprints in the wet earth, seemingly ogre. Two sets of tracks, moving away from the ruins. They are ogre tracks. They came from the ruined castle on the hill, and moved downhill, away from it and off to the right. Berenn says the tracks are very fresh, like made within the last hour!

    Isilme, Fred and Berenn head off to check out the ruins Berenn uses his Cloak, while Fred gets an invisibility spell cast upon him by Isilme, who flies above the ruins invisible herself. Rakk will backtrack the ogres and see if there are more. He'll follow their steps til he loses them or finds where they came from (cave, tunnel, village) and then return. He won't go in. "I suggest setting up a defensive perimeter til we all get back," he says.

    From all this scouting, the party gets a good idea of the layout of the area. I'll share a couple of pics with you:

    Climbing up to the ridge on an even level with the castle, this is the view from the party's approach.

    This is from Isilme's "aerial view."
    The squarish tower towards the rear/left is where you approached. As you can see, that's about the only decent approach, as the walls are decently intact around the rest and/or upon sheer cliffs of varying sizes. It takes about an hour for you to scout around, and by the time you return you see smoke rising from within the castle. Seems somebody is there.....

    Rakk move up, and in the fading light here's where the trail leads.

    The ogres came down from within the ruins, through this area.

    It's about an hour later, and it is almost dark. Berenn and Fred both are back. Isilme is still nowhere to be found. Rakk has determined that the ogres came from up in the ruins.

    "Shall we hunker down and put up a good watch or go into the ruins tonight?" asks Rakk.

    "I say we wait," says Vaddarra.

    "I would like to wait for Isilme's report," adds Rakk. "I would also like to know if Isilme is alright. Does anyone have a way to contact her? In the meantime, start making defense plans for the night. I don't want to attempt a night attack on an unknown position with no information."

    Isilme soon returns, with word that she saw at least a couple dozen wild and barbaric ogres within the ruins. They seem quite well-organized.

    Fred laughs. "Wild and barbaric? Ogres? Hee hee hee...Now we're talkin'! Big 'n' dumb, more like. Perfect subjects for my patented dagger up the whatzit maneuver! many didja say?"

    "Only two dozen?" asks Emyn. "That isn't much of a fight. Do they have spellcasters among them?"

    "Two dozen that she SAW," replies Rakk. "Barbaric dress? What kind? And remember they are in a fortified position. If they have competent leadership they could get tough quick."

    Vaddarra casts Hallucinatory Terrain back in the woods, in a place that the ogres don't seem to travel, and the party rests for the night. First thing in the morning, they will move against the ogres. "Too bad Gotrek isn't here," says Elrae. "He'd take on all 24 ogres at once. Let's think of a plan to take these barbaric brutes out. Snowfang can do some damage as well as some other offensive spells, like color spray and lightning but I don't have enough spell points to take on every ogre, even though I am 'not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways' as Berenn so quaintly sung."

    "These are strange ogres, any chance they are friendly." Hepla asks. "If we can capture one it might tell us why they are here, and maybe just where here is. This seems a castle but is it an outter castle or a main one."

    "Friendly ogres, haha," laughs Thorgrim. "We should spare just one, for information, before slaying him."

    After a night's rest, the party sends out scouts in the morning to get a better look at the place.....

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:24 pm  

    The story is coming along nicely, Ragnar. Hope the campaign continues. Smile

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    Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:56 am  
    Part 8 - At the Barbarian's Gates!

    The scouts are out, and the party is waiting for them to return. Hepla casts Invisibility on herself. She says, "Just want to check something." She then casts Tongues and Polymorph Self. You hear the sound of wings flying up the wall of the castle. The sound stops.

    "An independent lot, this," Thorgrim says to Rakk. "Hopefully things go as planned." Thorgrim readies Souldrinker. He employs his Danger Sense proficiency, and senses Trouble ahead.

    Elrae casts Stoneskin upon himself, then he will sally forth with Snowfang drawn and his wand of earth and stone in hand ready to cause a landslide likes the ogres have never seen.

    You hear the sound of wings coming down, then Hepla's voice, as she reports, "There are a lot of trees in there along with about two dozen or so of the oddly dressed ogres. They seemed to be talking about some people coming their way. I do not know if those people are us, and I do not know what they will try to do with these people when they arrive. They operate in pairs, so it seems. And are much sneakier then usual ogres."

    While the party waits for Noot and Fred to return, Thorgrim is clearly worried. "This is taking too long," Thorgrim says. "Something's wrong. We need to act, now. Let's engage."

    Even Emyn councils patience, which just makes Thorgrim grunt. Noot and Fred finally return after a bit, reporting that there are various traps set up along the walls, everywhere there are breaches. "The only "safe" entrance is right up through the front," says Noot. "Of course, we didn't scout out the far rear area, as it projects up from a cliff."

    "I can enter and cause a distraction in their home," says Isilme, "or have an illusionary attack force hit them inside so you can walk up the front while they are busy. Perhaps I could use it to draw them out if you want to fight in the open?"

    "I'm still not opposed to destroying the entire structure from a safe distance should everyone think this wise," says Vaddarra. "I'm less excited about going inside to engage the occupants close up. I prefer fighting in the open vs on their home turf."

    From the "you are hear" mark, which is where the party approached, there is a triangular area leading up to the keep tower. Rakk scouted that earlier, but returned before getting too close. Hepla and Isilme have flown around the place, which is why I give you such a good overhead. Plus the pic is cool! Noot and Fred report that there is no easy way in on the right side (bottom of image), but the left side (top of image) has many breaches. However, they are all trapped with pitfalls, deadfalls, etc. They are going back to disarm traps and sneak in.

    "Best to sneak up the path they aren't expecting," says Thorgrim. "Perhaps with an illusory lure on the main? The ruins' open structure lends itself to Fireball from above."

    "The first thing to do is make sure nothing is in the tower nearest to us," says Berenn. "Don't need an alarm going off before we attack. Somebody need to check out that tower before we move forward and make sure it is empty. "

    While Noot and Fred offer to scout ahead and disarm any traps, Hepla volunteers to talk to the ogres. "I can fly to the top of the tower and see what is up there, being careful to not fly near enough to the walls to have a net thrown over me." She laughs, "and if they do net her I will morph into a small, fast bat and fly out of the net."

    "If you're determined not to use Fireball," says Thorgrim, "I like Rakk's plan best. A group this large will definitely have a spellcaster or three among them. But two dozen is still only two ogres apiece...although I suspect their barbaric nature will somehow make them more fierce." Thorgrim scowls, and grips Souldrinker tightly. "Thieves, what do you think is the best route? Let's go."

    Isilme frowns. "We need more information." Flying and invisible, Isilme scouts out the area while the party plans. There are four ogres now moved into position in the large keep tower, watching from arrow slits, cracks, etc. She sees two more moving to the walls overlooking the basition south of there, the one that juts out in triangle, below the main walls. They are hidden in trees. A couple take positions at nearly every crack and breech in the walls. A good dozen remain hidden among the trees of the main keep area, which is completely overgrown with trees. Finally, there is another group (females and young) which are at the area marked "main ogre camp".

    This map's a little big, so I'm just posting a link:

    Berenn, Isilme, and Vaddarra all join together and chant their prayers in unison to Call Lightning. The weather gradually worsens as they pray, with clouds gathering above the ruins. Lightning flashes in the clouds, as the storm gathers. Once they are done, Vaddarra heads off to the area she indicated, where Fred and Noot scouted before. In fact, the two go with her. Emyn stays within range to help Hepla. Isilme flies off to the side where the group of twelve ogres are. Before anyone acts, Thorgrim will call upon the holy power of Clanggedin and cast Godly Protection.

    Hepla cancels her Invisibility spell, then casts Protection from Normal Missiles and polymorphs into a black dragon and flies into the main entry to the ogres castle. She goes as deep as they can still see her, about the point where the two dirt tracks meet below the T in the Large Keep Tower. She lands, morphs back only into herself if she needs to, casts Minor Globe in Invunerabilty, then will call out and ask to speak to someone in charge.

    "Who are you?" calls out an ogre from inside the tower.

    "What are you?" calls out another.

    She then hears the first ogre say "Get Azrok," presumably to another ogre.

    Hepla lands and answers the first question, "I am a witch." She then answers the second, "What do you think I am, use your eyes. I am a scout, the rest are coming. I wish to talk with whomever is in charge to find out your intentions to visitors."

    She hears a growl from inside. "Intentions?" asks an ogre. "Intentions?" it repeats. "We don't have no stinking intentions." She hears a slap, and another ogre says, "Quiet Nazrut. Go summon Surorgl, and be quick."

    "While we wait," says Hepla/dragon, "might I ask you how long you have been here? You are like no ogre clan we have ever met, why are you different. And why do you hide from me, I see you up in the tower and behind the trees and everything but you cannot see how wonderful I look. Come out where we can see each other. Don't be scarred of me, I will not bite you."

    The gathering clouds. This is the image from where Rakk, Emyn, and Berenn are watching.

    "We are the Kurgakal," says an ogre in the tower. "We don't hide," it adds. "We watch."

    "Move and you die," says another, the voice coming from the lower window. "You wait for Azrok," it then says.

    "Azroc, is your leader?" querries Hepla/dragon. "I hope so for I get bored easily and so far all I have found are a few dozen Kurgakal who are afraid to come out and talk to me face to face. This must be why there are so few of you. Have you never heard, fate favors he bold? Too bad but you had your chance." She starts humming then singing a funeral dirge.

    Hepla/dragon then says, "You are taking too long," she morphs into Markessa (remember Markessa was reported to be seen around here), "That's better," she says in Markessa's icy tone of command, "Now bring me your leaders, and I will decide if any of get to see the next sunrise.

    As soon as she changes into Markessa, there is a startled shout from the ogres.

    "I do not tell anyone twice," orders Hepla/Markessa. "You, "she points to where one of the voices came from, "may come forward NOW."

    Thorgrim whispers to Rakk, "If the ogres show allegiance, they are evil. If they try to kill Hepla or flee, they might somehow be good. But more likely evil." Thorgrim vacates his position, and trots up to Hepla. "Mistress!" he shouts. Then, in Dwarven, he whispers, "Let's discern their nature. Look for an opportunity for me to cast Know Alignment under the guise of another spell, such as True Speak. When the time comes."

    "That is the kind of obedience I expect," says Hepla/Markessa, patting Thorgrim atop his head. "Even when it doesn't know what I want, this dwarf rushes to serve me." She nods to him yes but does not dare speak since the spell she cast will let everyone know what she is saying. "You know your job, do it."

    As she waits for another reaction from the ogres, she hears an ogre speaking. She can almost recognize the language. It seems a strange gutteral form of Suel, and it is definitely magical chanting. She also hears the name Kord mentioned, and she recognizes the name of the Suel god god of strength.

    "And what do you expect Kord to do?" she laughs.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Hepla's polymorphing into Markessa is as problematic as it is dramatic. You see the irony here, no? If they show they are in league with Markessa, they are evil and should be slain. If they show opposition, they are...opposed to Markessa, and so not-your-average-ogres. Doesn't mean they're goodly, but they could be, but then we will be fighting them.]

    Thorgrim senses danger and immediately begins to chant a prayer, but is suddenly startled to find that no sounds come from his lips. He looks at Hepla/Markessa, who simultaneously realizes the same thing. They are in the area of a silence spell!

    Here's a link to the situation as it presently stands. The map is too big to post I think, so I'll just post links to the full screen pics. This is also my first attempt at doing something new. This castle I'm using for the ogre lair is called Gymes Castle, a ruined castle in Slovakia. After looking over lots of pictures, I settled on this for a castle in the midst of the Suss Forest. I used this overhead pic as the basis for a battlemap, because I just couldn't draw one that didn't look like crap. As you'll see, this actually worked out pretty well. I found I could zoom in quite nicely and run a combat right off this picture.

    Map with KNOWN locations.

    Actually, there is one adjustment to make, and that is to move Thorgrim up next to Hepla. Sorry, haven't uploaded another map yet. Anyway, from this you can see the following. Hepla (and Thorgrim) are standing at the "y" in the path, at the corner of the square tower. Emyn and Berenn are hiding behind a large block of stone. Rakk and Elrae are hiding just below a break in the wall off to Berenn and Emyn's left, and using a tree for cover. Altan is hiding back far to the left, amongst the ruins of the corner tower. He plans to get up on the stones in front of him and use his long range archery ability from there. All of them can pretty much see Hepla.

    Vaddarra, Fred, and Noot are in the treeline, on the north side, beyond the collapsed wall. From there Vaddarra has a view into the center of the keep. However, you can't actually see any ogres from there. They also cannot see Hepla, who is on the other side of the keep tower. Finally, Isilme is standing on the top of the broken tower a bit to the right, the highest point of the complex. From there she can pretty much see everything, including the ogres.

    Vaddarra casts Flying Steed, while Fred and Noot edge up closer,. Being invisible, they hope to be able to sneak up. Fred move up to his right, just next to the ruins of a large tower. He sees two of the ogres on the other side of the monolith. He also can see another ogre in the trees ahead of him. Meanwhile, Noot moves up to the broken wall ahead of him and climbs it, wishing he still had his slippers. From the top, he can see two ogres lying in wait down below him to the left, between the wall he sits upon and the outer wall to his left. [I'm making these ogres visible, so you can see them.]

    Vaddarra begins to cast Summon Flying Steed.

    The ogre stands up in the window and throws a javelin. It impacts Thorgrim in the back, as he turns to grab Hepla. He takes [12] plus [20] from the lightning which erupts from it. It also hits Hepla, but the bolt just passes around her. It slams into the stone wall beyond them with a scorching blast! Thorgrim is blown forward, landing on the ground in a heap and stunned for three rounds, taking another [5]. Another one pops up above and throws another javelin. This one hits Hepla [10], and also discharges a bolt of lightning, which again doesn't harm her and blasts nto the ground behind her. Another steps out from behind a tree of to Hepla's right and throws a javelin at Hepla, but it bounces away.

    A loud bell starts to ring, and Isilme sees Ogres moving swiftly from a few directions. About a half-dozen take up positions guarding the tent area, which houses women and young apparently. She also sees a group of three break cover and start running across the open area by the tents, and they enter the trees below the keep [roughly directly below her on the map].

    Isilme sends a lightning blast down into the center of the keep, trying to hit the chanting ogre. There is a huge crash as it strikes, followed by the yells of ogres.

    Hepla changes back into herself, and kneels down to check on Thorgrim. He has a big burned mark in the back of his armor, and he is pretty out of it.

    Altan and Berenn get up into shooting positions, and Emyn rushes up to Hepla. Elrae climbs up the slope and looks for targets for Sweetness, while Rakk moves forward, covering about 2/3 the distance. He steps in a pungi trap [4] and gets his leg stuck fast.

    map link:

    Vaddarra continues to summon her flying mount, while Noot and Fred press further in. Noot accidentally kicks a small pebble off the crumbling wall as he sneaks across it, and the ogres below look up, but see nothing. They watch alertly, but then turn back to looking at the forest. Noot stops at the end of the wall and catches his breath. Meanwhile, Fred makes his way slowly through the forest. He spots many cunningly made traps, mostly simple pit traps, but there are some deadfalls and such as well. The natural passages through the brush seem to funnel you into these dangerous paths. As he carefully moves forward, he spots a couple more ogres wielding spears and javelins, lying in wait behind trees and bushes.

    Elrae holds his shot, waiting for a target, as does Altan. Hepla speaks to Emyn, who cannot hear her. He is inside the silence area. Hepla's spell make her immune to it, but the spell effect still exists. Ignoring it, she casts a fireball simultaneously as the ogres throw another round of javelins. One hits Emyn [8] while one is deflected away from Hepla by her spell. The fireball streaks towards the window with the ogre, exploding in its face and blasting it backwards. The fire mostly explodes outside the tower, though some does erupt inside as well, as the flames licking out the other windows attests.

    Isilme flies up higher, to get a better look down inside the tower. The floors are all gone, but there are ledges along the walls, with makeshift stairs of rubble leading up to the upper windows. She sees a dead ogre lying on the floor in the center of the tower, and two wounded ones. They seem a bit worse for wear, but move up to cover the windows just the same. Another with a staff (clearly a shaman of some kind) has moved back away from the window.

    When the ogres cover the windows, Altan fires. His shot is true, and his arrow pierces the ogre's heart, killing it instantly! Elrae's crossbow bolt bounces off the stones. Altan switches targets, hitting the upper ogre [10].

    The ogre off to the right among the trees throws a javelin, which bounces harmlessly off Hepla. Berenn creeps up along the top of the wall, and he too fires at the ogre in the upper window, hitting [6]. That ogre throws a javelin down at Rakk, missing.

    Emyn grabs Hepla, and finds that when he stands that close he can hear her.

    Hepla says, "That's nice but not the time to enjoy it. Help Thorgrim. Get the two of you away from ground zero here." When he releases her she puts up her hands, makes a little x in the dirt with her toe and just stands there. She is keeping track of her spells so none go out without her knowing it.

    Emyn won't let Hepla leave the globe. He tells her, "All this will do is get you killed. Ogres don't take prisoners except as food."

    "But dear, they hate Markessa; that is what I wanted to find out. They may be good. But now everyone is trying to kill them, myself included when they hurt you and Thorgrim. I want one more chnce to talk." She struggles.

    "My dear," replies Emyn, "if they think you are Markessaand hate her, no amount of talk will save you from their wrath. Anything you do will be seen as a trick. You have the advantage now. Here you can speak and cast and not be hurt."

    "Then we must convince them she is dead." She drops her staff, morphs into Markessa and holds her hands up in surrender. Before Isilme can react, she sees Hepla "surrendering" to the ogres. The three that appeared up on the path rush down towards her and Emyn. One wields a Spear and a couple of javelins, one is absolutely huge and wields an immense mace, while the third is also big, though not as large as the other, and wields a very large polearm (a volgue-guisarme). They spread around Hepla and Emyn, with the spear-armed ogre moving to Hepla's right and the one with the mace to Emyn's left. The one with the polearm barks orders at Emyn, pointing his polearm at his head. Of course, he cannot hear anything, as the area is silenced. However, it's pretty clear they want Emyn to surrender as well.

    Vaddarra mounts her eagle this turn, while Noot maintains his position, watching from atop the wall. Fred too climbs up the wall near him, carefully so as to not make any noise. Elrae moves up to Rakk, and helps him to get free. Next round he will be free of the trap.

    Altan and Berenn meanwhile fire at the ogre in the window, both hitting it [10] and [8]. It ducks back inside before they can fire again. There are no other targets, except for the three ogres that now have surrounded Emyn and Hepla.

    Fred sees one ogre move along right below him, then scramble up the wall facing the west, taking a position on a small ledge behind a window high on the wall. From there, it can see Rakk, Berenn, and the others. Outside, the one off in the trees to Hepla's right also moves up, holding a longspear out at the ready.

    Isilme, Maerthorlear in hand, decides that Hepla knows what she is doing. She flies down and attacks the ogre shaman. She attacks from surprise, floating above him, hitting it across the face with Maerthorlear [15]. The shaman had just cast a spell, healing its burns, when she hit, opening up a wicked slash across his eye, nose, and cheek. Isilme appears, and the shaman looks really mad!

    map link:[/img]
    Pretty much everyone else is where they were, so I thought I'd post a zoomed-in map to cover the action near the entrance. I added the square grid, hoping that it would help the combat. For what it's worth, I think this map was working out ok. I know the players liked it. I just had to post full maps once in a while so they could still see the "big picture."

    [Isilme OOC: Thier only spell caster is no threat, but I get the feeling this will bite us in the **** later. So why is Hepla "surrendering" in combat again?]

    [Thorgrim OOC: It's no use trying to psychoanalyze Hepla.]

    In Ogre Hepla speaks to them; however, they can not hear her of course. So to keep the air of mystery what everyone hears is "...". Emyn does not surrender. He will not let his guard down but neither will he attack unless Hepla is in danger. He shows no fear.

    The big ogre to Emyn's left-front yells at him silently, pushing at him with his mace, shoving Emyn back. He is incredibly strong! The others continue to yell as well, and the one with the spear sticks it up right in front of Hepla's neck.

    Hepla holds her position and continues to talk in ogre. She puts her hands up even higher, making sure her arms a free of her robes, after a moment she lowers them slowly just enough that her bare arm touches the spear. Emyn will lower his sword, but is ready to pray to Trithereon for aid if things go south. He doesn't want his stubborness to get them killed.

    The large ogre again points to the ground, clearly implying Emyn drop his sword. They are all yelling at him now, though he cannot hear anything, and all are getting more agitated.

    Hepla smiles at the ogre holding the spear and mouths "Thank You" in ogre. She carefully takes the spear lightly in the palms of her hands, just below the blade. She says something to the leader but no one hears it, of course.

    Emyn places his sword in the ground point first and steps slightly away from it. He will lift his visor and look at the ogres without fear, as though they are beneath contempt.

    The ogre pushes forward, making Emyn step back, while it kicks his sword away. It goes silently clattering away. The one with the spear pretty much does the same thing to Hepla, taking anything she "may" be holding. [I'm not sure what she was carrying, if anything.] The leader calls out, and the other ogre from the right comes up, along with another from the trees behind him. They quickly move up and force Emyn and Hepla to their knees.

    [Berenn OOC: So Hepla has been spending too much time with Emyn and has contracted a case of the stupids?]

    [Emyn OOC: Hepla's actions handcuffed Emyn, unfortunaltey. He had to keep her from killing herself.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Why am I thinking of Daphne and Fred right now?]


    Elrae helps Rakk out of the pungi stakes. Berenn and Altan see what is happening, but they have no clear shots even if they wished to take them, which I cannot assume they do.

    Fred sneaks along the top of the wall, getting to a point where he overlooks the action going on below, both inside AND outside the tower. Noot slips down the wall and moves along to the next inner wall. Vaddarra takes off on her Eagle. She sees a couple ogres [the ones which were near Noot] pointing at her as she soars into the air. Inside the tower, Isilme battles the shaman. She swings Maerthorlear, missing the shaman, and the shaman casts a spell, reaching out and touching Isilme. She feels a strange tingle, which then just fades away as her innate magic resistance fends off the spell.

    Everyone hears a loud roar from the ogre chief. Oddly, you can tell that he is speaking a form of Ancient Suloise, not ogre. The ogres in the tower windows, hold back further attacks, though they seem ready enough to throw javelins. Another ogre comes out from around the tower, and the leader yells something at it. It turns and runs back into the keep area. Inside the tower, the priest casts another spell. Isilme feels her muscles tighten, but then, her drow resistance fights off the effects again. She slashes twice with Maerthorlear, hitting once [16]. The shaman is knocked backwards against the wall, and he curses loudly.

    When Thorgrim started to move Hepla grabbed him and said. "Play along and I think everything can be worked out without more killing. I do believe we have their chief's attention."

    Since Emyn is on his knees, he will take the time to use the detect evil on the ogre leader and his flunkies.

    [Emyn OOC: If they have evil intent towards us, I should be able to tell.]

    [DM OOC: No, Detect Evil does NOT show that. Detect Evil ONLY detects what I consider TRUE EVIL, like demons, devils, undead, etc. I have said before, even casting it upon Hitler would reveal nothing. That's how I handle evil and detect evil. Know alignment is useful for determining general philosophic leanings through auras, which are defined as the alignments. Further, a chaotic-evil humanoid is not "evil" IMC. Rather, the CE label simply describes its attitude, tendencies, philosophy, etc. Yes, this is different than how DnD generally works, but that's how I like it and how it's always been.]

    Noot climbs up the inner wall, so that he can get a better vantage point. He can see the ogre tents down below, and an ogre guarding them. He can also see the ogres watching the walls around the rest of the fortress, as well as the action going on around Hepla, Emyn, and Thorgrim. He cannot see Isilme or Fred.

    The shaman hits Isilme with his staff, the iron-shod head smashing her in the jaw [19]. She is knocked backwards, but doesn't fall as she's actually flying. She flies forward, attacking the shaman again slashing him with Maerthorlear for [16].

    Altan fires a shot at the ogre next to Hepla, hitting it in the shoulder [12]. Rakk spots the ogre in the tower, peeking out, and fires a bolt from his ballista. [I assume that's what you're using?] He misses, hitting the stone tower and bouncing off. The ogre ducks back inside.

    Thorgrim regains his senses, snatches up Souldrinker, and immediately begins attacking the ogres surrounding them, the ones nearest Hepla first. He totally ignores Hepla. He hits it in the foot, driving his pick through the ogre's foot and spiking it to the ground! [20]. It howls in pain, dropping its javelins, and pokes at Thorgrim with its spear, the point deflecting off his armor.

    Unfortunately, the large ogre with the two-handed mace swings it in a huge two-handed swing that connects solidly with Thorgrim's chin [24]. Thorgrim actually is launched backwards about 5', landing on his back and letting go of his pick, which remains pinning the other ogre's foot to the ground. He can feel the broken bones in his jaw from the tremendous blow.

    Elrae casts Stoneskin on himself. The ogre chief steps out and grabs Hepla by the neck, lifting her up into the air. The other ogre stabs at Hepla's throat, but somehow she manages to twist to the side and avoid blow. Hepla then successfully casts her Spirtform spell [good thing she had high Concentration!]. She goes insubstantial, and the ogre chief stares, dumbfounded. As the ogres look at Hepla, Emyn reaches out and snatches up his sword, stabbing forward into the stomach of the ogre which was about to take it. [15].

    Fred sneaks along the wall, dropping down behind the ogre in the upper window which is about to throw a javelin. With a halfling battle-cry [whatever that would be!] he lands on its back, stabbing it in the back of the neck [24] with his dagger. It howls in pain, spinning around to attack Fred, who clings to its back. It stabs with its spear, but misses, and Fred leaps free, tumbling along the ledge and coming up in a crouch, facing the ogre.

    Another ogre enters through a hole in the wall, and advances on Isilme, closing for melee, though it doesn't get an attack this round due to movement. Another moves in through the rear wall, also closing on her. Two ogres throw javelins at Rakk, but they both miss.

    Vaddarra flies around the tower riding her giant eagle and gets a good view of everything going on. She is currently "south" of the battle going on outside the tower, but about 75' in the air, making a bit circle. Berenn calls the lightning down upon the ogre chief, catching all the ogres as well as Emyn in the blast. Emyn takes [22], and is blown backwards to the ground, landing next to Thorgrim. All the ogres are blasted hard by the lightning bolts, flying backwards and landing with a thud on the ground, stunned. All but the chief, who stands his ground, his hair standing up from the static charge. The one pinned by Souldrinker seems to take the brunt of the lightning strike, which actually blows its foot clean off as it is grounded through the pick. It collapses in a smoking mass.

    Altan fires another arrow, hitting the leader, now the only one standing [13]. Isilme takes another swing at the shaman, hitting him [13] again with Maerthorlear.

    [Isilme OOC: Wow. Thought she would be doing better then this one on one.]

    [DM OOC: Obviously, these are NOT normal ogres....]


    Isilme is inside the tower, fighting against the shaman as well as two more ogres which just entered and closed on her. Fred is on the ledge along the inside wall of the tower, fighting the ogre which was throwing javelins of lightning. Rakk, Elrae, Berenn, and Altan are all pretty much in the same places. Noot is now atop a different wall. Vaddarra is flying well above the combat on a giant eagle. Hepla has cast Spiritform, shown by the pink halo. Thorgrim and Emyn are both prone, as are all the ogres except the leader. They were all hit hard by Berenn's lightning strike and thrown backwards to the ground. The ogre which Thorgrim pinned was killed in the blast.

    Emyn says to Thorgrim, "Heal yourself" as he takes his defensive stance to protect him with his masterwork bastard sword. Noot is staying hidden and quiet and out of the lines of fire/blasts.

    [Berenn OOC: And you wonder why a group of kobolds befuddled and almost killed most of us ... Is there a cluster of ogres not in the vicinity of party members? I used all this time prepping this spell; I am not letting it go to waste. So my suggestion would be getting away from any large cluster of ogres because the clouds are gathering! Oh and if you happen to get electrified ... next time don't do anything stupid! ]

    Noot stays hidden, watching the combat and for anything really really bad. Altan fires a shot at the chief but his shot flies wide. Hepla casts Detect Magic.

    From the upper windows, the ogres throw javelins down, one at Rakk misses and one at Elrae hits, but just bounces off his thigh thanks to the Stoneskin! Elrae grunts, pointing his Wand of Earth and Stone at the tower, and sends a dark Passwall ray at the lower stones which suddenly part, opening a door to the interior.

    Both of the ogres to either side of the chief get up. They look a bit shaken, but the chief yells at them, and they hold their positions, spears ready. While still prone, the large ogre with the mace swings it in a tremendous arc, slamming it down at Thorgrim. It slams into the prone dwarf's belly [23], knocking the wind out of him.

    Meanwhile, the shaman begins to chant in Ancient Suloise. The ogre to his left steps up and stabs at Isilme, who deftly blocks the blow with Maerthorlear [good thing you shifted to defense!]. The other ogre, steps forward towards the newly opened hole in the wall, spear ready.

    Rakk moves forward, and seeing the ogre move in the way, he fires his crossbow, hitting for [7]. He then drops it as he draws his blades. The ogre meets him in the passwall doorway, stabbing with his spear. Rakk takes a stab [15]. He continues to close, avoiding another attack, and will be able to trade blows next round.

    Fred does a backwards somersault, then leaps backwards, flipping over the gap between the ledges, and lands on the interior wall. He looks up with a grin, only to see the ogre throw a javelin at him. It slams into the wall behind him, exploding in an electrical flash which he mostly avoids [10].

    Vaddarra casts Markessa's Maiming Missiles at the ogre chieftain, but the shards all miss. She continues to fly on, making a turn, and ending above the tall northern spire and about 75' high. Isilme flies up 25' and uses Maerthorlear to instil Hopelessness in the ogres. The one with the spear lowers it, staring dejectedly, while the shaman shakes his head, smacking himself. He then slaps the other ogre on the back of the head, trying to knock sense into it.

    Thorgrim rolls over, draws Slasher, his magical dwarven waraxe, and stands up swiftly. He can advance next round. Berenn fires a couple arrows into the ogre to the left [standng in front of the chief], hitting twice [6] and [10]. It stumbles backwards, and is hit by another arrow from Altan [14]. It rocks backwards, stumbles, and falls to its back with a thud!

    The ogre chief steps back, swinging his MAGICAL bardiche through Hepla's incorporeal form. She screams in pain and surprise as the blade slices through her ectoplasmic form [10]. Hepla realizes that this is the worst of the possible situations, the ogre has a weapon that can hurt her and he knows it. She knows she is not a front line fighter so escape is her only option.


    Emyn shouts, "Hepla, get out of melee range and use ranged spells!" Of course, being in the silence area nobody hears!

    Vaddarra continue to circle up above, sending a bolt of lightning striking down at the two ogres at the NW part of the keep. Both are blasted back to the ground, and as she banks around, she loses sight of them. They crawled back under the trees. Noot stays hidden, watching intently, though he sneaks down along the wall to the lower section, closer to the combat occurring near the square tower. Altan fires another arrow, this one at the ogre to Emyn's right, since he has no clear shot of the ogre chief. His arrow strikes the ogre in the chest [15].

    The prone ogre stands up, swinging his great mace around in a huge circle, daring Thorgrim to advance. "Ven'kozar en okalansa, dwur," he says. He and Thorgrim are now out of the silence area.

    Thorgrim has no idea what he said, other than dwur being an old term for dwarf. He also doesn't care. He steps up and attacks the ogre, and both miss each other, trading ineffective blows. It smiles, speaking further in its strange language.

    Emyn swings his bastard sword at the other ogre, slashing it across the belly [13]. The ogre cries out and falls backwards with a thud. The chieftain turns and runs, disappearing into the trees.

    Isilme flies up, clearing the top of the tower as she casts Invisibility, disappearing. Maerthorlear stops singing, and the affected ogres shake their heads, wondering what happened.

    Fred tumbles across the gap, landing atop the next wall over [actually next to Noot now]. When he looks back, he sees that the ogre has run and leaped across to where he just was. He's quite nimble! It growls when it sees Fred, and clearly is going to leap after him!

    Elrae moves up to support Rakk, casting Magic Missile. They scream around him, striking the ogre blocking his way [14]. The ogre stumbles back, and Rakk lays into it with his swords, hitting it [18]. The ogre is rocked back, and Rakk presses in, but it strikes back with a longspear, hitting Rakk in the arm [15].

    The other ogre throws its last javelin at Isilme, but she disappears and the weapon doesn't fly anywhere close to her. The ogre then moves up to assist against Rakk.

    The ogres in the windows throw javelins at Berenn and Altan, but both miss. Berenn then hears a snapping twig, and glancing back he sees two ogres moving up behind him and Altan. When they see him look their way, they curse and prepare to charge. Berenn turns and fires his bow at the closer, hitting it in the leg [14]. At least atop the broken wall he has a height advantage. The ogres throw javelins, one hitting Berenn [9] while the other misses Altan. Altan turns around, firing his bow at the ogre on the left and hitting it [12].

    Following the ogre leader, she sees that he is running off towards the tower at the far end of the fortress. She can see where he's going as soon as she breaks out of the trees.

    [This is an older image, but it pretty much shows Hepla's view. There are lots more trees along the left side though, which aren't shown in this "real world" picture. For our purposes, suppose that entire area to the left of the wall to be overgrown with forest. That busted wall along the center is the wall upon which Noot, Fred, and the ogre are standing. Well, part of it. It's pretty precarious. Anyway, from this view Hepla can see all the way to the far tower in the corner, which is where the ogre chief ran. All the ogre tents are basically behind the two trees which are in this pic, in the flatter area towards the far wall. You can see them on the map we are using too. I like being able to throw an occasional real-world pic up here. I hope you guys like it too.]

    There is another ogre off to the right, [K(13)] and Hepla casts Magic Missile at it. They streak out unerringly, slamming into the ogre's back [22]. The ogre spins around and sees the opaque Hepla gliding along the trees. It throws a javelin, which passes right through her! She also sees two more ogres up ahead. One is guarding the area of the tents, while the other is guarding the open area to the south, where the top of the wall has collapsed. The chief yells as he passes them, and they turn towards Hepla. They each have a spear and a few javelins. [Not sure if Hepla is going to continue this way, so it's up to Protector.]

    The shaman inside says another prayer, and the passwall begins to close. It pushes Rakk forward, as it closes. Rakk is shoved into the center of the tower by the closing stones, right passed the two ogres. They attack him as he is shoved by them, but they miss.

    Elrae is just about to cast another spell, when the wall closes. He reaches for his wand, when a stone drops on his head from up above [18]. He is knocked to the ground and his wand goes flying from his hand. Unfortunately, his Stoneskin was dispelled too!

    Inside the tower, Rakk and the ogres trade blows. The ogres miss, while Rakk hits one ogre twice [19] and [19]. The ogre's then each hit Rakk [12] and [24]. Rakk returns the blows, slicing through the belly of the ogre to his right [22]. It cries out and stumbles backwards, dropping its spear as it tries in vain to push its intestines back into its body. It then falls to ground, clearly dying.

    Isilme continues to fly away, and is now clear of the tower. She's at 75' height, and above the path outside, just south of the tower. She has a clear sight of the chieftain running for the tower at the far corner of the fortress, and the ghostly Hepla following.

    The ogre chasing Fred runs a few steps then hurls itself out towards him. Fred barely can tumble out of the way as the ogre lands on the wall right where Fred had been standing! With a deft backflip, Fred leaps back over the cleft in the wall, landing on the next section. Noot backs off too, cringing on the edge of the wall. The ogre doesn't see him, as he is still invisible.

    Altan fires another shot from Khürkh-Onokh [that's his bow, which basically means Heartseeker in Paynim], sending an arrow into the ogre's shoulder [11]. It grunts before charging madly. Berenn drops his bow and draws his blades, just in time as the ogres charge. They rush forward, with more speed than you'd have expected for such large creatures. One reaches Altan, attacking with a spear but missing, while the other leaps atop the wall upon which Berenn stands. It lands atop it, on the far side, and throws it's last javelin, which narrowly misses Berenn. Altan steps back, firing point blank into the ogre and hitting it in the face [16]. The arrow goes right through its cheek, sticking there, and the ogre just looks more mad!

    Vaddarra continues to circle around, She casts Ice Storm, covering a huge area where the ogre chieftain is running. A driving sleet covers the entire area, blinding all creatures within it. Azrok (that's the ogre chief) is running down the incline when the sleet begins to fall, and he slips, sliding and tumbling the rest of the way until he slams into the wall [5]. He's now shown as being prone. The ogre didn't throw a javelin at the eagle, as it is effectively blinded. Actually, so are the chief and the other two ogres in the area of effect. Hepla is just outside of the area.

    Thorgrim steps forward and swings at the large ogre, slashing it across the chest [20]. For the first time he notices the heavy hide armor reinforced with bones which covers the ogre. It swings back at Thorgrim, hitting with it's massive mace [20] and knocking Thorgrim back to the ground! Emyn steps up and attacks as well, slashing the ogre across its arm with his bastard sword [14]. The ogre swings back at Emyn, hitting him with a backhand blow of his mace [23]. Emyn then hits again [17].

    Back inside the tower, another ogre enters, approaching Rakk from behind while the one in the south tower window, having thrown its last javelin, leaps down from the wall and attacks Rakk as well. He is now surrounded by three ogres.

    map link:

    [DM OOC: I drew a square inside the tower, to give an approximation of how large that inner area is. This way you can sort of see how much room there is in there. Rakk is now alone inside the tower, his back against the wall where the passwall WAS. He is surrounded by three ogres, and the ogre shaman, Surorgl, is against the far wall of the tower. Isilme and Vaddarra are flying way up above now. Isilme's invisible.
    Fred and Noot are atop the wall, with Noot still invisible. There's an ogre right next to him, but it doesn't see him. It's intent on chasing Fred! Thorgrim's down, and Emyn is now fighting the big ogre, Skaarg Bonecrusher. Berenn and Altan are now dealing with the ogres which came up behind them. These are the ogres which made the tracks earlier, and they were called back by the horn the ogres blew when you attacked, just so you know. Elrae was knocked down by the ogre in the window up above, dropping a stone on his head. He dropped his wand of Earth of Stone. Vaddarra's Ice Storm area is now shown. You can see that Hepla's just outside of it. The chieftain, Azrok the Mangler, is prone, having slipped all the way down the hill and is up against the far southern wall.
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    Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:10 am  
    Part 9 - Battle with the Kurgakal

    Fred pretends to run, and when the ogre leaps across towards him, he quickly turns and plants his short sword under it. The ogre impales itself on the sword [16]. Before it can do anything, Noot leaps across as well, stabbing the ogre in the back with both daggers [20] and [16]. The ogre continues forward, toppling off the wall. Noot, now visible, barely manages to leap away as it falls, slamming into the bushes below the wall. It doesn't move.

    Isilme says a quick prayer herself, healing [15] as she flies on over the Ice Storm area.

    Azrok crawls off through the ice storm, keeping to the wall until he reaches the large tent there. He then goes inside it, and Vaddarra loses sight of him. The ogre guarding the tents is able to get inside the nearest one, and disappears from view. The other two both fall trying to get clear.

    Hepla takes out her potion of ex-healing and drinks it, healing [14].

    An ogre suddenly comes up behind Emyn, having climbed up the outer wall behind him. It stabs him in the back with a spear [18: he has only 4 hp left!] The ogres attack Berenn and Altan, one stabbing Berenn in the leg [14] after closing along the wall. Berenn almost falls off, but maintains his balance. The ogres inside attack Rakk, but all three miss.

    Vaddarra sees one climbing up the tallest point of the fortress, the half-round tower above the tent area. She circles around that way, casting Lightning Bolt. It blasts into the ogre [30], knocking it back off the side of the tower. It falls to the ground, 50', and lands with a loud CRACK on some broken stones [63]. It's VERY dead! Vaddarra is now over Noot and Fred.

    Elrae reaches Thorgrim and sees that the dwarf is very bad off [-6 hps]. He uses his last Potion of Healing on him, healing [8] and bringing Thorgrim shakily back to consciousness. Emyn takes a Defensive Stance, allocating all bonuses to defense. He successfully avoids any further hits from Skaarg Bonecrusher. He even delivers a small nick to the ogre [5] in the process. He also backs up and turns, to keep both ogres in his front and to place himself between them and Thorgrim (and now Elrae too).

    Altan changes weapons, and slashes at the ogre with his scimitars, missing. Berenn scores one hit [8] with his longsword. The ogre totters back for a moment, and a couple more swings by Berenn distract it enough that it slips off the wall, falling 10' to the ground which it hits with a thud [6].

    Inside the tower, Rakk attacks, hitting the center ogre three times, driving it back and killing it. Ahead, he sees that the ogre shaman has chanted another spell of some type. He seems slightly slowed down by it [it was Prayer, giving him a -1 and the ogres a +1].

    map link:

    Rakk is in the tower, and another ogre just entered from the left. Isilme and Vaddarra are flying way up above now. Isilme's invisible. She's actually above the tent where the leader went, though 75' high. Fred and Noot are atop the wall, with Noot now visible. They killed the ogre chasing Fred. Thorgrim's barely ok now, though still prone, and Emyn is now fighting the big ogre and another one to his right. Elrae is kneeling above Thorgrim. Vaddarra's now roughly above Noot and Fred. I added an arrow, showing which direction she's flying. Berenn is still astride that rock wall, but the ogre he was fighting fell off. Altan is standing in the gap between that wall and the outer wall, fighting with his scimitars now.

    [Emyn OOC: How'd Emyn get down to 4 hp? He started with 90.]

    [Isilme OOC: You got hit. Duh.]

    "How we doing?" asks Noot as Fred helps him up.

    Fred smiles back. "Same as usual," he replies.

    "That bad, huh?" says Noot with a wry grin. "Come on, let's get off this wall before anyone else sees us." The two then leap down off the wall and hide in the bushes.

    Isilme floats down to just above the tent opening, barely above the area of the ice storm, and casts Summon Shadow. Three dark shapes appear, floating up through the dark shadowy cracks in the wall and take form around her.

    "Go inside," she says grimly, pointing to the tent, "and slay the largest ogre you find." The shadows turn and start floating towards the tent. [well, they can't really move until next round, but they are moving.]

    Hepla gingerly steps into the ice storm, and she quickly realizes that she is completely unaffected by the driving sleet. She then calmly floats across the expanse of open ground, keeping an eye on the two ogres which are prone and covering up, trying to shield themselves from the sleet. She makes it across to the tent, when the three shadows emerge from the wall. She is about to take defensive action, when she hears Isilme's voice call out to her from above.

    Back ouside, Vaddarra figures there are enough breaks in the clouds, being only a partly cloudy day, to cast Healing Rays. She banks back to the left, circling over Thorgrim and Emyn, calling up on the sun to heal her companions. Through a break in the clouds, bright rays of sunlight beam down upon Emyn, bathing him in healing warmth [+11].

    Thorgrim takes out an Extra-Healing potion and drinks it, healing [15]. He then pats Elrae on the shoulder and mutters, "thanks," as he rises. "Now I'm going to go get my pick!" As he turns towards the ogre, it rushes forward, stabbing with its spear. Thorgrim turns the blow with his armor, and prepares to dance once more with death.

    Elrae reaches out towards Skaarg with his fist, and sends a blast from his Ring of the Ram towards him. The ogre is slammed by a wave of force [14] and knocked back into the base of the tower, its mace flying away behind it. Emyn takes advantage, leaping forward and stabbing him in the gut [12]. Skaarg reaches out with one massive hand, grabbing Emyn by the neck. He squeezes, doing [11: only 2 is real, the rest temporary and will recover at a rate of 1hp/round]. Emyn is held, and lifted off the ground the by the massively strong ogre.

    Altan strikes at the ogre attacking him, slashing it across its weapon arm and removing it at the shoulder! [18]. He also hits with a second slash, taking off its other hand at the wrist! [26] The ogre cries out in agony, stumbling backwards, and Altan steps in, slashing it twice more and finishing it off.

    [DM OOC: OK, I have to say that was cool. Altan hit twice, rolling crits each time. With only about 6% and 4% chances, I rolled a 5 and a 3! He then scored two special crits, lopping off an arm and a hand. I've never seen that happen!]

    The ogre Berenn knocked off the wall gets up, brandishing its spear. Berenn is about to jump down, but seeing the ogre ready decides against it. Rather, he leaps down on the other side, next to Altan.

    Inside the tower, the newly arrived ogre charges Rakk, stabbing him with its spear [10]. The other two ogres also attack, both missing. One trips over the body of the ogre next to it, falling to a knee. Rakk slashes at it twice, hitting both time [24] and [15], and it falls back fully.

    [DM OOC: Rakk would have scored a critical on that ogre, but he missed by one. So, you see the difference even one simple prayer can make. Of course, here it didn't matter, as the ogre fumbled and got killed just the same. I just wanted to point this out.]

    The ogre to Rakk's left attacks again, hitting him in the back [11], while Rakk finishes off the prone ogre with a final stroke. The shaman calls out in its strange tongue, and then begins chanting again.

    map link:

    Isilme and Hepla are now over by the tent on the bottom-right, with three summoned shadows. Noot and Fred are at the base of the wall, next to the dead ogre. Rakk is still inside the tower, fighting two more ogres and the shaman. Emyn is being held by Skaarg Bonecrusher, the really big ogre. They are in the same space. Elrae and Thorgrim are where they were, Thorgrim fighting an ogre. Berenn and Altan are both on the south side of Berenn's earlier perch, with the last ogre on the other side of the broken wall.

    Here's a zoomed view, so you can see the main battle area better.

    map link:

    The shadows float into the tent, and you quickly hear screams inside, high-pitched for ogres. Hepla passes through the tent fabric, and inside she sees the three shadows surrounding a large ogre female. Another has scrambled back out of the way and is shielding a couple of ogre young, trying to push them out the back, which has a large tear running along it from top to bottom. Isilme flies down above the tent, slices the top with Maerthorlear, and peeks in from above. She can see what's up inside too, and she notices that the leader is not there.

    Back by the tower, Elrae casts a Magic Missile, sending a handful of singing bolts into the ogre's face [13]. Thorgrim then hits it with Slasher, opening a wicked gash on its belly [17]. The ogre stumbles back, stabbing out with its spear but missing. Skaarg slams Emyn's head into the wall of the tower [12: 9 temp], knocking him out. He drops his limp form to the ground as he turns to face Thorgrim and Elrae.

    Further away, the ogre that fell battling Berenn comes around the broken wall and attacks him. Berenn is shocked by the speed and agility of these ogres, as his is again hit by a spear [12]. Berenn and Altan both lay into the ogre, with Berenn side-stepping to allow Altan room to attack. Berenn hits with his off-hand weapon [12], while Altan steps up and slashes the ogre across the face [18], removing one of its eyes. [DM OOC: another crit, that's three in a row! Gotta be some kinda record!] He then hits with his second scimitar, scoring ANOTHER crit. [DM OOC: Dudes, not making this up. Scored two more crits with percentile rolls of 7 and 2! ] This blow does [10], but splits the ogres knee, dropping it to the ground and giving it no movement!] The ogre is sorely wounded, dropping its spear and holding onto its injured knee and eye!

    [DM OOC: Wow, that is four straight hits and criticals! I can't hardly believe I rolled those.]

    Inside the tower, Rakk is missed by both ogres, and another enters from the left, advancing on him. He's surrounded again. The shaman continues his chant. Rakk takes one spear hit [15], while he hits the center ogre twice more [15] and [20].

    Above, Vaddarra continues to fly overhead, circling back and casting Ball Lightning. She summons four balls, which surround Skaarg. He is touched by them all for a total of [22] damage. He roars out in pain and frustration, shaking a fist at Vaddarra, flying overhead.

    [Berenn OOC: -7 AC and this ogre has hit me three times ... wth?! What kind of ogres are these?]

    [DM OOC: Um, ogre barbarians, using the 1st ed Unearthed Arcana class. Yeah, not your normal ogres! I told you guys, you can't always just assume that things will be straight from the DMs guide, run-of-the-mill monsters. Anyway, at least they aren't kobolds!

    I also should note, your AC isn't -7. AC -2: (Dragon Scale Armor AC 0, +3 Ring of Protection (doesn't stack with armor), +2 Cloak of Protection (doesn't stack with armor better than leather) and -2 Defense Adjustment)]

    Noot and Fred stay very still and quiet, hiding in the bushes. They notice an ogre emerge from the Ice Storm area.

    Inside the tower, the ogres attack Rakk, one hitting him [15]. Rakk swings back, landing a couple of blows and taking out the already wounded ogre. A large stone crashes down next to Rakk, just missing his head. Glancing up, he sees an ogre on a ledge about 30' above him. It picks up another rock.

    Outside, Thorgrim is also missed, and he lands a blow in return [10]. Elrae casts a lightning bolt, hitting the large ogre [13], while Vaddarra is able to hit it with her four ball lightnings [12]. The ogre pushes through them, rolls to the side, and runs away. It turns the corner, heading back around the tower and disappears under the trees. Altan finishes off the wounded ogre, while Berenn moves quickly up along the path, flanking the ogre attacking Thorgrim.

    [DM OOC: BTW, Bonecrusher was a badass. With high strength, wpn spec, and two-handed style spec, he was tough. Obviously, he totally beat Thorgrim and Emyn to bloody pulps!]

    Isilme orders the shadows to protect Hepla, while she orders one to follow her and goes to check out the back. She doesn't see the leader, and can't follow tracks from 15' high, though it seems obvious that he must have slipped along the wall towards the tower at the far corner. She also notes that the two ogre guards outside of the tower are gone as well.
    Hepla changes from Spiritform, and the ogresses seem quite scared, and the three young flee out the back and take off running!

    map link:

    Isilme casts Animal Sense, giving her bloodhound sense of smell. She then flies down and starts sniffing, quickly finding the ogre's tracks. They lead off towards the tower in the far corner of the fortress. She heads off that way, a shadow trailing behind her. Hepla casts Tongues, again, and tries to speak with the ogresses. However, they seem quite scared of her and the shadows, basically cowering from "unclean spirits!"

    Back outside, the ogre fighting Thorgrim sees Skaarg run, and it too turns and flees. Thorgrim swings at it as it turns its back, hitting for [12] while Berenn also hits it for [14]. It stumbles, trips over one of its dead companions, and falls to the ground. Altan is quickly there, stabbing it with both scimitars to finish the job!

    Vaddarra circles clear around the tower, coming back for another pass and prepares to move the lightning balls, but finds the last ogre down. There are no more targets, so she gives up concentrating on them, knowing there's no time to do anything more with them.
    What she doesn't realize is there is still an ogre in the top window, and it throws a javelin at her. It hits her eagle for [15] plus another [20] in a blast of electricity! The eagle caws loudly, and immediately starts to plummet to the ground. It only had 32 hit points. [Sirenia will "maybe" have time to react before hitting the ground next round. Depending upon her initiative roll....]

    Inside the tower, the shaman moves over and drags a wounded ogre back, casting a cure spell upon it. The ogre shakes its head and wakes up. It is still sorely wounded, but it takes up its spear and prepares to stand, the shaman helping it. Rakk takes a stab from the ogre to his right [12], and the two sidestep towards each other, barring the way through them. Rakk attacks with his swords, hitting for [16] and [20]. The ogre to the right is reeling, and backs off 5'. The ogres then strike again, both missing, while Rakk hits the one to his left with his last swing, spitting its knee and dropping it to one leg [46 and no movement!]

    Rakk's now the only one fighting. The one ogre to his left is now prone (actually on one knee), while the other has moved back 5'. Across the room is the shaman, helping another ogre to stand. Everyone else is outside with no more threats. Vaddarra is about to crash!
    Hepla is in the tent, trying to talk to the ogresses. Isilme and a shadow have moved over to just outside the far right tower.

    Rakk knows he doesn't have a lot of choices. Finish off the one to the left, sidestep to the right to hit the other one still in the fight, keeping an eye on the one overhead. He expects the shaman will be running away soon, as having only one spearman left out of 5 or 6 may worry him.

    Isilme looks down the inside of the round tower where the chief fled. The upper floors are all gone, but a "tent" covers the entire area of the tower's lower floor, about 15' high. Basically, the ogres stretched a tarp across it to create shelter for the chieftain. There are small gaps in the corners where Isilme can either go through herself and/or send the shadow.

    Elrae will rummage through Emyn's possessions looking for a healing potion, and if he finds it he'll pour it down Emyn's throat. Thorgrim doesn't notice, because he's concentrating on his spell. When he's done and finds out what Elrae's doing, he'll say,"Don't bother. He isn't carrying any Potions of Healing. See to Vaddarra. Altan, stand guard. Berenn, care to take over the honors? I need to retrieve my pick, and Hepla's staff. We need to regroup."

    Vaddarra very quickly casts Wind Column, and a blast of moderate wind blows directly up underneath her and the giant eagle. The wind slows their descent, and though they still hit the ground, the damage is minimal. The eagle takes [8] and dies from the impact, while Vaddarra takes only [4]. Unfortunately, the descent takes her over the wall and they crash into the tress south of the fortress.

    The shaman barks an order, and the ogre to Rakk's right backs off further, grabbing the wounded one the shaman just helped up. Together they run out the doorway behind the shaman. The other one struggles to stand and back off as well, but its leg gives out and it falls back to the ground. The shaman speaks further words of ancient Suloise and slams his staff upon the ground. A great blast of force emanates from it, pushing Rakk away from him and pinning him to the tower wall. The shaman then moves up and grabs the wounded ogre. He drags him backwards, away from Rakk who finds he cannot move forward at all. He's not held, just pressed against the wall by some unseen force. The ogre on the ledge above runs down the ledge and helps to pull the wounded ogre as well.

    Outside, Altan rushes back and picks up his bow again.Thorgrim and Elrae move over to Emyn. They find he is still alive, but unconscious. His nose is broken, and blood has poured out over his smashed face. He looks pretty bad. Thorgrim casts a CLW, curing [8]. Emyn stays unconscious, though the wounds to his face seem to mostly heal. Elrae searchs Emyn, but finds no healing potions.

    Berenn heads up the path and starts to pass through the dark, covered gap in the ruined wall when he notices something out of place. There is a thin rope across the ground, and he stops, following it with his eyes. It is a deadfall trap, tied to a large tree trunk, suspended above him. Had he tripped it, that could have been fatal!

    Meanwhile, down in the tent, Hepla says, as loud and commanding as she can, "For the sake of your children and any fighters still alive, can we make peace? My friends and I have come here to explore and hunt down the criminal known as Markessa. I morphed into her to see if you knew her. You clearly did by your reactions. You did what we would do when we find her, try to kill her. The problem is we never got the chance to talk. Let us now talk, woman to woman, and try to save as many of our peoples as we can. Your enemy is our enemy, let us help each other." She then bows to the large ogress and says, "My Lady, this may be our people's last chance, please."

    [DM OOC: Dang, that part was dealt with in PMs, which I may not have. We'll see.]

    The ogres retreat out of the tower, followed finally by the shaman. They go out the doorway to the north, into the area full of trees. Berenn begins to pick his way forward along the wall, and he spies a doorway to his left. He slips through it after the ogres have left, and all he sees is Rakk, pressed up against the left-hand wall of the tower. There are two dead ogres on the floor at his feet, and a lot more blood around him, along with drag marks going out the north doorway.

    Vaddarra casts Pass Plant, enters an oak, and emerges from another to the north, inside the fortress. She's on the lower barbican, along the south side of the fortress. There are a couple of paths which she can take to get up to the main level. Above her and to the right she sees another ogre, leaning against the the upper wall. He's all covered in sleet, so he must have just emerged from the Ice Storm area.

    Thorgrim gives Elrae the potion, then goes and picks up his pick and Hepla's staff. The silence is over. Elrae helps out Emyn, who is back up to 15 hit points, but still unconscious. Noot and Fred emerge from hiding as Altan comes up the path. They warn him of the traps inside, as well as at least a half-dozen ogres they have seen, and he stays back around the corner.

    Rakk shouts to Berenn,"They went North! 3 of them, 2 badly wounded. Their shaman is with them! Damned spellcaster!"

    Thorgrim goes back and works on Emyn, and he and Elrae are able to wake him up. Emyn is pretty well out of sorts, and as he looks around, he finds he cannot focus. Another CLW helps clear up his vision, but you find that he doesn't remember what happened. Altan peeks around the corner, and he can see ogres about 50' away in the trees which fill the courtyard. There are about a half-dozen there, including the really big one! Inside the tower, Berenn casts a Dispel Magic, and suddenly the force goes away, dropping Rakk to the ground. He takes out his potion of Healing and downs it in a quick gulp, healing [10].

    "Rest," says Thorgrim, holding Emyn's face in his hand. "You did well, son. Welcome back to the Land of the Living." Except it comes out sort of garbled, since Thorgrim's face is all busted. Thorgrim casts Repair Injury on himself. "Ah, that's better."

    Emyn reaches up and strokes the side of Thorgrim's face. He looks confused and says, "Hepla, when did you grow a beard?"

    Rakk sheaths his swords and grabs his crossbow, reloading it, while Berenn casts a CLW on himself, healing [8]. Altan fires an arrow through the trees, which smacks into the tree next to the large ogre, Bonecrusher. He snarls and ducks back behind the tree, while two ogres throw javelins at Altan, both missing. They then all duck behind trees. Altan can see that there are maybe three more beyond those three. Noot and Fred remain hiding, while Vaddarra slips away to the left and climbs the cleft up to the upper level. She doesn't cast a spell, as it's not needed. That ogre she saw is not doing anything except trying to get warm! Thorgrim casts his heal on himself, taking care of his broken jaw, and Emyn regains his senses. He can now act, though he's still a bit groggy. Vaddarra continues to climb up, and she sees Thorgrim and Elrae taking care of Emyn, who is just standing up. Altan is over at the corner, firing arrows around it and at unseen foes (the ogres in the trees). She can't see anyone else.

    Thorgrim hauls Emyn to his feet. "Come on, let's go find the others," he says. "You would be wise to avoid combat." Thorgrim is looking to help in a supplemental, probably spellcasting, role. Or end up playing medic to our dying and wounded. He wants to get out of this exposed area.

    Elrae moves back around the tower, searching for his wand which he finds on the ground.
    Thorgrim continues to work his own curing, healing another [8], while Vaddarra reaches him and Emyn, giving Emyn a Potion of Ex-Healing which he takes, healing [16]. Noot and Fred both continue hiding.

    A great billowing fog then rolls out of the tree-filled area beyond the tower, completely covering the ground and reaching up about 20'. Rakk and Berenn move up to the doorway, as the fog blows up outside. Visibility is reduced to 5'. They pause there, not venturing blindly into the fog. Altan finds he has no target now either.

    Suddenly, a loud horn blows three times. They then hear the sound of Isilme's dragon horn, blowing three times as well. Soon, the party see ogres flooding out from the ruined walls, heading towards the area of the tents. The fog is blown away by Vaddarra, but there are now ogres left in that area. They seem to all be grouping around the tents. They see Hepla, Isilme, and the ogre chieftain down there too, walking (Isilme flying above them) together. Clearly, something has happened.

    Hepla flies up ahead, landing next to Thorgrim. "Thank you for rescuing the staff," she says. "May I have it back, please my friend." Her hand shakes a little as she asks.

    "It goes in the treasure picks, along with everything else," says Thorgrim. When she opens her mouth in protest, he laughs. "You should be more careful with your things. It may not have been expedient for me to retrieve it." Thorgrim hands Hepla back her staff. "Now tell us, what's going on?"

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:33 am  
    Part 10 - The Kurgakal

    With the fight between the party and the ogres concluded, for now, Hepla steps up to speak. "These ogres used to live a ways off," she says. "I don't know where yet, but Markessa came and drove them out. They were just getting settled here when we showed up. My turning into Markessa set them off."

    Thorgrim frowns at her, and Emyn is about to say something, but she just gives him her best "shut up" look. She then continues.

    "The chieften's wife and I were able to come to an understanding, and together we convinced Isilme and the chieftain to stop fighting. We might need to help some of their worst wounded, but I think they can be our allies if not our friends. They said they would help us find Markessa and any forces she might have and where they might be located."

    "Hepla was using a velvet touch," said Isilme. "I was using mailed fist. Through both our efforts we managed a better outcome than all out war."

    "Well, that is better than getting my head bashed in again," replies Emyn.

    "So who exactly are you expecting to heal their wounded?" asks Berenn with uncharacteristic hostility.

    [Berenn OOC: Good luck with that one. Berenn despises ogres, with whom he has a long history of hatred, as does Thorgrim, whose memory is even longer. You will be very lucky if Berenn doesn't try to slit their throats and Thorgrim doesn't try to put a pick through their skulls. I am not sure what the thought process was here, but it wasn't very smart. At best, you can expect Berenn to give the ogres a wide berth.]

    "Mm!" grunts Thorgrim. "Well you were no help at the beginning...your decision to polymorph into Markessa in the middle of things, after we were all fanned out and out of communication, was unwise. Perhaps if you had started with that strategy, instead of polymorphing from dragon-form in front of their eyes, things would have turned out differently. As it stands, Emyn and I nearly lost our lives, and many ogres have lost theirs."

    [Thorgrim OOC: I told you these ogres hated Markessa! But there was no way of knowing that, really, given Hepla's strategy. Would love to see her take the form of Adolf Hitler in, say, 1950s Jerusalem, or Mao Zedong in Taiwan, or Barack Obama in the middle of a KKK rally. If she transformed in front of their eyes, there'd be no telling if they were killing her because of her form, or because she's a witch!]

    Vaddara will agree with what ever the group decides but wonders to herself, How did a cleansing mission get so messed up? She tells the others, "Thats a lot of damage and spells to just leave basically in surrender, carrying emyn out on a stretcher. Not to mention they killed my eagle." She looks at the ogres with nearly pure hatred. "That was my favorite eagle."

    "Not our surrender," says Isilme. "The leader bowed to our greater strength. Hepla was trying to be nice about it, but I already had them in despair willing to quit. The whole situation was kind of mucked up even on me and Hepla's end, since we were not able to communicate and using two drastically different approaches." She looks at Berenn and Thorgrim, giving a wink. "The was no way in hell I was going to let these ogres feel like they were in any position of power."

    Hepla says, "I know that we need information. These ogres know about Markessa and speak a form of Suel. They also worship a Suel diety. They may be more barbaric than normal ogres, but they are more civilized too." When everyone stares at her, she says, "I know that doesn't make sense. Trust me. This should help us a lot."

    "But working with ogres?" says Thorgrim. "Where's it stop?"

    Isilme looks at Thorgrim and Berenn and says, "You are surprised? I have been using enemy forces to our advantage since the Temple of Elemental Evil."

    "Yes you have," replies Berenn, "but in this endeavor I can offer no assistance. I have a long standing animosity with these creatures. I will not give or receive any aid from them. I think you will find at least one other member of our party in a very similar mind set. When you have concluded your business, inform me and I will rejoin the party. Until then, I will be patrolling the perimeter." Berenn then turns and walks off.

    Emyn stops Berenn and says in a quiet voice so as not to be overheard, "Berenn, I agree with you on this but cannot allow Hepla to come to harm. The ogres are not to be trusted. However, might you use your rod upon the party members who are wounded in case things go badly? It will be hard to win a fight at this point if things go bad...again."

    "I will not begrudge any party member healing," replies Berenn. "I will make sure those who require healing have it."

    Isilme, having excellent hearing, nods. "I concur," she adds. "I will not be healing ogres. They choose to aid us to not be wiped out. They can heal their own."

    Hepla nods, "I never promised them any healing so we owe them none. So they get none. Fair enough."

    Noot stays in the shadows, listening and watching. He doesn't want to help the ogres, but is more than willing to learn from them. He whispers to Fred, "Let's stay put. This isn't our show."

    Though the battle is over, for now, the ogres are rather upset. However, the shaman rushes to the aid of the wounded and finds that three of the ogres are not actually dead. Along with a couple of the other ogres, they bind their wounds and save them. All tolled, only four ogres actually died.

    Azrok steps up, doing his best to act strong and proud. You really do not see anything of the "normal" ogre in him. Rather, he seems more like, well, like Taki. It is impossible to miss the barbaric nature, but there certainly is no beast mentality. Rather, these ogres seem quite sharp. He steps up, before Berenn can leave, and gives him a bit of a sneer.

    "You want to die fer nothing, half-elf," he says, "we can continue our fight."

    [DM OOC: You counts a total of 16 ogres, including Azrok, Surorgl the Shaman, and Skaarg Bonecrusher. More than half of the ogres are not wounded at all. Further, there are a good dozen females coming out of the tents, while most of the young stay inside. Further, these are ogre-barbarians, using 1st ed Unearthed Arcana barbarian class. Very tough customers! And yes, they worship the Suel deities. You recognized the names of two of them. Kord, the Suel god of strength, and Lydia, goddess of family and healing.]

    Rakk steps up between them,"IF you wish to die as well, we can continue. No traps, no magic. Honorable fight, honorable death. Or we can call honorable truce and my hand and word on it. Your choice. My hand, with or without sword?"

    Berenn looks at Rakk, then back at the ogre chief, Azrok. "If we continue our fight, many will die ... I will promise you I won't be among them. You made this peace ... I won't be the one to break it."

    [Isilme OOC: Glad to know they suddenly speak common! This should be waaay easier now!]

    [DM OOC: Actually, Hepla has to translate because NO, they do NOT speak common. However, Hepla and Isilme have Tongues spells going, and Fred actually speaks Ancient Suel! So, assume that somebody translates, though we can skip the back and forth "Hepla/Isilme/Fred translates" posts.]

    Seeing tensions run high, Isilme flies over and land in front of Azrok. She lets her musical voice ring throughout the clearing to the ogres.

    "Great tribe, you have my word me and my allies will help you drive Markessa from your ancestral home and restore what was lost to you. I did not come here to make new enemies, take your land, or steal that which is not mine. I came here to have a final reckoning with my arch-enemy Markessa. Your leader has sworn an oath before Kord to a truce in mutual aid. We will honor this oath and truce with you. But have no doubt, if any one of you dishonor this oath, I swear I will see every one of your people roam the wastes as unclean shadows for eternity as befits oath breakers. (she has a lightning bolt strike in the background to punctuate her point) . But enough, let us share hospitality among you this evening and discuss the destruction of our true mutual enemy!"

    Thorgrim switches from attack stance to ready stance, holding his pick in front of him. "I will abide by the terms of the truce, but I do not think we should tarry long here. We should move on, and camp elsewhere...let the ogres tend to their wounded, while we tend to ours."

    Emyn also steps forward, placing his sword in the ground before him. "I swear by Trithereon that I will not break the peace unless the ogres do first," he says. "But if the peace is broken, they will know what it means to face an Avenger of Trithereon."

    Hepla translates that, and Emyn goes red when he sees the large ogre, Skaarg, laugh. His response was something like this, "As your face already knows what it means to face me!" but Hepla doesn't translate that for Emyn.

    Altan will join the group but does so warily. He whispers to Rakk, "I am very confused by the group tactics or lack there of."

    "As am I," responds Rakk. Suddenly, I can see where organised kobolds would be a problem.

    "Yes indeed," says Altan.

    "Welcome to our world," laughs Thorgrim, though a grim laugh it is, indeed.

    Berenn and Thorgrim use their remaining spells to heal the party, and Berenn also uses up his Rod of Health. He then dons his Cloak of Elvenkind and leaves to patrol the perimeter. With Hepla and Isilme translating, the party is able to make a wary peace with the ogres. In fact, they find that they are called the Kurgakal. Fred can tell them that in Ancient Suel that means, the "Greater Slaves. Isilme can remember reading something about the ancient Suel using ogre slaves as the personal guard of the emperors and of various nobles, generals, and other important people. She'd probably have to research to know more. She just recalls reading something about that in a book.

    After hearing this, Isilme thinks of her own life and how she has so often been viewed as evil on the basis of skin alone. She doesn't exactly like where this goes, so she sucks up her pride and prejudices and offers to heal the shaman she battled. He used up all his healing to help his wounded fellows, and this seems very un-ogrish. She casts Know Alignment spell, and the auras reveals the tribe to be mainly Chaotic-Neutral in their tendencies. Sensing nothing beyond a somewhat barbaric independence, she then uses the last of her healing powers on the ogre wounded. She doesn't heal Skaarg though; saving him for last, she runs out of healing before treating him.

    Isilme then turns to the party. "I know many of you have prejudices against ogres, given their crimes against you or your people. The ones beyond the forest are unthinking and evil beasts ruled by their desires. These are a bit different. Consider, before you met me many of you thought drow were a blight upon this world with not a single one of us having redeeming qualities. We are not all the same."

    [Vaddarra OOC: If these guys are CN my whole attitude will be different. I thought this whole mission was to clease the area of evil so like you're never suppose to do, I assumed they were evil. Especially give the photo you posted of these guys.]

    [DM OOC: Well, you are in a very wild, dangerous forest, well known in these parts for "evil" creatures. It's not a place that can be cleansed. In fact, virtually all people simply stay OUT of the Suss Forest, as it is so dangerous. Your "mission" is to find this Lost City of the Suel and there hopefully find Markessa, a very bad elf mage. She was one of the Slavelords, did crazy medical experiments on people, worked with dark elves, and was a generally bad person. But no, rooting out the evil in the Suss Forest is NOT what you are doing. That would be like trying to take the salt out of the ocean.]

    [Isilme OOC: So you are saying there is a chance....]

    Isilme's actions have a profound impact on the ogres. They ogre shaman had used up his limited healing ability, while Thorgrim and Berenn used their spells to heal the party. While doing so, they made their animosity towards the Kurgakal quite obvious. In fact, they just call them ogres, and that REALLY upsets the Kurgakal! When Berenn was done with healing, he promptly left to "patrol the perimeter." That also didn't go unnoticed.

    Isilme, on the other hand, showed a sense of honor they didn't expect, and the chief Azrok was quite stunned. "Though much blood has been spilt this day," he says to her, "yet have we incurred a debt of honor."

    Skaarg doesn't seem happy, and he steps up. "What? Honor? They killed Kurgakal!" He turns towards the party, waving his arms. "We should slay them all!" he says.

    Azrok turns on the still-wounded ogre, and though he stands a full head shorter than the massive ogre, he doesn't flinch in the least. "As long as I'm clan chief," he says, "you will do as I command!"

    Skaarg stares back, "Long as you're chief."

    "Is that a challenge?" roars Azrok, his grip tightening on his polearm.

    Skaarg, heavily wounded still, looks around for support. You see the others, those who a moment ago seemed to agree, now look down or away. Many are yet wounded, and they seem to want no part of this. A couple seem to still nod support, but not enough. Head bowed low, Skaarg backs off, though he throws a look of pure hatred at Isilme.

    "Your warriors fought well and died with honor in battle," says Isilme. "This will never be taken from them. We made mistakes on both sides. But now we would honor this truce and with your aid see the Kurgakal returned to their ancestral home - and all treasures lost restored to you. For this alone your warriors sacrifice should be revered. My companions mean no insult, they have been horribly wronged by other ogre tribes outside the forest, and after this battle have the same concerns as you. We cannot change the past, only forge ahead with greater understanding in the future."

    The Kurgakal seem to listen, with most nodding in accord. Skaarg spits and storms off. Thorgrim watches the power struggle impassively, though his hand's been on his pick this whole time.

    After Isilme's speeches, he grunts. "Hrumph." He then sheathes his pick. "That is clearly true."

    "My problem with them would be that they speak Suel," says Rakk. "Given their history, he can overlook that. As for them being ogres, I am a half-giant." He shrugs. "I will offer to honor the dead who fell in honorable combat. They deserve honor as warriors defending their home."

    Thorgrim says nothing, but watches everything intently.

    Isilm then turns back to Azrok. "Is there a tradition in your tribe that deals with such a grievance such as ceremonial one on one combat? If so, I will have his issue addressed before it festers like a wound."

    "Nothing that involves outsiders," he says somewhat shortly, with a tone that says the conversations is over. "If you would stay here," he adds, "you are welcome, mostly." He glances at Skaarg, striding away. You notice that none of the others follow.

    The females also have taken the wounded who needed tending to the tents. The children stay hidden, though a few daring ones spy on the party from afar. After all the healing and such is done, the Kurgakal take their dead. "We must honor those who have gone before," they say. Thorgrim is a bit shocked, as he has never heard of an ogre funeral.

    Noot whispers to Islme when he gets an opportunity, "Don't forget to ask for directions to the Lost City....."

    The Kurgakal dig graves as night falls, while the Shaman sings over the dead. Others gather large stones, massive stones which nothing short of an ogre could lift, and pile them near the graves, as the females prepare the bodies with wrappings made from whatever materials they can find. This all takes a long time, and goes on well into the night.

    When Isilme picks up a huge boulder, using her Gauntlets of Ogre Strength, the Kurgakal are impressed. One comes up a squeezes her muscles, then looks back at the others and shrugs. They all laugh, until Surugal shouts at them. "It is a time of reverence for the dead, not laughter!' he says.

    Elrae watched the funeral procedures and listened to the song that the Shaman sang. He scribbled some notes about the tone and meter of the dirge as well as the Suellian lyrics that he spelled out phonetically. He pays his respect and acts with his best behavior without offending the strange ogre barbarians.

    After the funeral the Kurgakal have a ceremony around a fire with what food they have, sharing it with the party. They spend the early evening with a solemn devotional to their fallen. They sing songs which sound very un-ogreish. Eventually, they place massive stones over the stone graves of the fallen, and the wives spend the night engraving symbols upon the stones to guide them in the hereafter. Thorgrim notices a very strange likeness to ancient dwarvish runes. He cannot read them exactly, but they seem to be something about strength in the afterlife.

    You learn that the ogres indeed have legends about being from what you call the "Lost City." They believe they left when a great evil destroyed the city. The city is in a large swampy area, and there is a giant creature with many tentacles living in the water which kills pretty much anything that comes around. There are also a bunch of undead that swarm around the area, so it's not a good place. The Kurgakal go there once in a while, as a test of manhood. That's where they got all their magic.

    The party finds that the Kurgakal are actually rather interesting. Vaddarra is struck by the strange similarity between them and the barbarians of the Thillronian Penninsula, all of whom are of Suel origin themselves. Just as they descended into a state of barbarism, so too, it seems, have these ogres. However, they yet retain their original deities, thus worshiping the Suloise Gods, rather than those of the traditional ogres.

    In conversations, you find that they don't really know much about their own history, other than they were proud warriors for a once-mighty race that has now vanished. It seems that they have lost any details of their history in their long slide. However, they are familiar with the Sunken City, as they call it. They know that they originally hailed from there, but they have not lived there since the time of legend. They stayed out of the swamps which surround and envelope the city, for they are deadly to anything which lives.

    "Undead things inhabit the waters," says the Shaman, "dragging any living beings to their doom. Further, a great tentacled creature with a monstrous eye prowls the great lake at the city's center. None who see it survive."

    "Then who told the stories?" asks Fred, puffing on some pipeweed.

    The Kurgakal look at each other and shrug. They aren't used to such logic!

    It also turns out that the ogres use the Sunken City as a right of passage for young warriors. They must sneak into the city and retrieve something from it. What the warriors take is up to them, but usually it is some form of magic weapon, typically Javelins of Lightning, which seem easy to find. Occasionally, some find other items, like Surorgl's Staff and Azrok's polearm have been discovered.

    They had a "village" in the woods, some ways off, maybe 2-3 days journey. The elf's army appeared, maybe a few hundred orcs, ogres, etc. and their powerful magic easily drove them out. When Isilme offers to help them return home, they decline. Apparently, they like this new home even more.

    They also warn her about an area they call the Shrieking Wood. "There is a Banshee there," says the shaman, Surorgl, "so they stay away. There are trail signs surrounding the area which serve as a warning," he adds and he shows her how to recognize them. "It lies directly between here and the city."

    "Approaching the city is difficult," says Azrok, "because the entire city now rests inside a swamp. Half of the city was on cliffs overlooking a lake, though part of the cliffs have collapsed into the lake now. Other parts of the city along the lake have been flooded and are now entirely underwater. Only the tops of towers and spires now jut above the surface, silent sentinels to ancient glory. The swamp extends for a few days in all directions. The easiest way to reach the city would likely be along the river; however, travel upon the water is also far more dangerous."

    "There is evil lurking beneath the surface," says Surorgl. "Evil that never sleeps and is always hungry."

    Thorgrim, puffing his pipe, finds himself coughing and sputtering. "Did he just say a few hundred orcs and ogres? It seems Markessa has improved her forces. Next thing you know she will be leading giants.... Well, we have to find her, first, after we slay a Leviathan and an army of undead. No problem."
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    Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:20 am  
    Part 11 - The Great Dismal Swamp

    Sunday, 2nd of Ready'reat (581)
    The weather is good, with clear skies and a very slight breeze. There are no clouds. High of 68, low of 42. You can push on at your leisure.

    "We cant clear the forest of all evil," says Isilme as the party prepares to leave, "and we should not go after a Banshee for no reason."

    "We'll have to fight our way through plenty of undead," replies Vaddara. "We can pay a visit to the banshee on the way back. If we survive!"

    "No banshees," says Noot. "It gives me an earache just thinking about it."

    Elrae doesn't fear a banshee, as long as he can sing his counter song. "It's a complex song that requires me to move at half speed but it will negate the deadly wail of a banshee, or so I am told."

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole, and digs out potions of healing and extra-healing to refill his utility belt. He extracts three flasks of oil, putting one in his pack and handing two to Altan. "Here, they're not going to any use sitting in storage. Buy me a pint or three the next tavern we find." He chortles. "Perhaps these undead run a tavern of their own, a Pub of Putrescence, haha."

    He mounts his horse. "Noot, I notice you didn't include your Potion of Fire-Breathing when I itemized the party's possessions. You haven't lost it or gambled it away, I hope. We went through some trouble retrieving it, even though we were in extremis, fighting Caustichlorinus. Perhaps you've forgotten? I imagine you've lost many memories of your past life."

    "Yes," he replies with a short laugh. "I do forget from the past. Let me rummge around....."

    It should take two to three days to reach the city. First you will reach the banshee's domain, which you will have to avoid. Then you'll reach the swamp. There is no sure path through the swamp, so you will have to find your own way. The city lies in the center of the swamp, along the Lake of the Dead.

    One of the ogres comes forward, asking to be allowed to show you the way. Margut Orcsplitter is his name. He slew 5 orcs defending the other children as they fled from Markessa's army. He earned the name and his manhood, though he has yet to enter the city. He wishes to lead the party there, to yet prove himself.

    "You have nothing to prove," says the shaman. Azrok agrees, and the other ogres nod. Everyone knows what Margut did to protect the other children. Still, he is adamant.

    "You say I am already a man," he says. "So you cannot say no." He walks over to the party. "I will lead them."

    "Anyone who slays orcs is a friend of mine," adds Noot. "Welcome!"

    You have a totally uneventful day (rolled for encounters already and there were none!). So, you can camp for the night and get good sleep. You find that Margut is rather smart, for an ogre. In fact, you just can't quite get over the fact that these ogres are, for all their savagery, not like normal ogres. They are much smarter, clearly on par with other humans and demi-humans.

    [DM OOC: So, you should know that these ogres are all ogre/barbarians, using the 1st ed Unearthed Arcana class. They are pretty tough, as you found out. They have a lot of outdoors skills as well. Even Berenn has to be somewhat impressed by their wilderness knowledge. They also show a sort of reverence for the woods, or at least healthy respect, which is more akin to a ranger's perspective.]

    As long as there is an ogre in the party Berenn makes himself as invisible as possible. He dawns his elven cloak and assumes a rear guard. He is visibly unhappy to have an ogre among the party and says very little to anyone.

    Vaddara talks to Margut about the barbarians in her home lands to the far north. She finds that they are, indeed, similar. In fact, they pray to some of the same gods. The northerners primarily pray to Vatun, but the rest of their gods are old Suel gods too.

    Moonday, 3rd of Ready'reat (581)
    It is a chilly morning, with temperatures dropping a bit. A slight wind picks up, blowing hauntingly through the woods. It's not quite as light, as clouds begin to move in again. Around midday, you reach the border of the banshee area. There are strange effigies hanging all around.

    These were placed by the ogres, to mark the banshee territory so they stay away. They also "supposedly" keep the banshee in.

    [Berenn OOC: It's the Blair Banshee!]

    "Let us give this place a wide berth," Thorgrim says. Over dinner the previous night, Thorgrim had asked Hepla to cast Tongues so that he and Rakk could sit down and teach Margut some basic hand signs to enable him to communicate his scouting info more effectively. Signs for Halt, Silence, Advance, Withdraw, and to indicate number and direction of enemies, etc. He finds him pretty sharp, and can quickly start to get him learning some bits of the Common tongue. Not enough to communicate easily, but you find him quite willing to try.

    We stay out of the area marked by the Ogres. Vaddara has her doubts about the "markings" keeping the banshee restrained but knows enough to not dismiss what she has no knowledge of. Watch (as much as possible) for ambushes, traps or encounters.

    You spend the day making a long loop around to the left. You keep the banshee territory to the right, and eventually descend down from wooded hills and leave it behind you. The ground begins to get wet almost instantly as you reach the forest floor. You have entered the fens. It does not take long before your way is barred by completely flooded areas.

    Margut tells you that the swamps are like this for miles around, and only get more wet as you proceed. At least, that's what he's heard, as this is his first time. He has never been this far before.

    "This will be a hard trek, and no chance for a quick escape if things go awry," says Thorgrim. "And 'tis doubtful many horses will survive. Emyn, if you wish, you can put your horse's barding in the Hole. She will find her way easier without it. The same goes for anybody else who has equipment they wish to store." He fingers his Ring of Water-Walking. "I wonder if this thing works on quicksand? I would imagine it does. Rakk, you doing okay?" Thorgrim dismounts his horse to lead it through the muck. He unstraps his backpack and wears it.

    [Thorgrim OOC: seriously don't know what Emyn would do, given his unpredictable nature. He sure loves his horses. But given his recently fatalistic attitude toward them, who knows? Also looking for some determination as to the powers of the ring. Will it work in a puddle? Sure. But in mud? I would think maybe no, maybe yes. In quicksand? I would think yes, as that's mostly water. Thorgrim is looking for opportunities to--carefully!--test the ring's powers.]

    Well, Thorgrim finds that he can easily walk over any of this water. In fact, he finds that it is quite useful here. [DM OOC: From the DMG: Ring of Water Walking: This ring enables the wearer to walk on any liquid without sinking into it—this includes mud, quicksand, oil, running water, and even snow. Up to 1,200 pounds can be supported by a ring of water walking. The ring wearer's feet do not actually contact the surface he is walking upon (but oval depressions about 1½ inches deep per 100 pounds of weight of the walker will be observed in hardening mud or set snow). The wearer moves at his standard movement rate. ]

    Emyn takes the time to do as you suggest.

    Isilme casts fly and invisibility. She lets Hepla or someone else without one use her horse. Isilme will attempt to scout by air, while she encourages the ranger or barbarian to scout what she may miss at ground level. She scouts and finds a lot of waterways crisscrossing the area. They generally flow south, eventually becoming a large tributary of the Jewel which meets it back about where you crossed it in the first place. The place is a maze of these waterways, and she discerns that there is virtually no way to cross these fens on foot.

    View of the flooded forest.

    Another, just for effect.

    And one more!

    Isilme presses further, looking especially for ruins. She doesn't see anything as far as she can see. From above, it just looks like a big green carpet. Most of the waterways aren't even visible unless she is just about right over them, as they mostly blend into the forest as well.

    Based on what Margut says, the party may still be a day or so away from the ruins. Isilme will have to do some long range scouting, and then have to find the party again. That's not going to be easy, unless she has magic that can do the trick. Remember, once she flies off she'll have no way to know where you are. I have assumed she did her scouting last time while you were removing the horse barding and such, and she followed the waterways, so it wasn't hard.

    The ogres told you that the city was destroyed in some kind of cataclysm. A great evil was unleashed, and destroyed it, along with its people. Most of the surviving city slid down a cliff face into the lake or was buried in a cavern. There are many ruins, though the ogres have no way of knowing what it may look like from above. However, they know that it sits along a lake, which should be visible from the air.

    Thorgrim says, "This is a fine do we cross it, short of building boats? I do not think that is a wise solution, and not all of us can swim." He looks at Rakk. "We should have brought some with us, knowing as we did the place we sought. Itemize and stash portage."

    [Thorgrim OOC: does anyone else get the feeling we should not be on this Adventure at all? I've been thinking that since the idea first reared its ugly head. Was it Goldie's idea?]

    Berenn can cast Water Walk on the party members, but he would just as soon see the ogre drown as to help it cross the lake.

    As I said, the going is very slow. Margut goes off to scout and comes back, having found another track. You have to slog through water, at one point about waist deep, but you are able to cross the channel and press on. By the time you cross the channel, it is starting to get dark. Everything is wet here, and there is virtually no dry ground around. The water is at least a foot deep pretty much everywhere. Only Thorgrim comfortably just walks around, the rest of the party must slog through the muck. Rakk seems very unhappy right now.

    [DM OOC: I should have added, the horses can't cross the channel without swimming it. That's not really a big deal for horses, so it's something you can easily manage. It just takes lots of time.]

    Margut says, "sleep trees, no ground."

    "One problem with 'sleep trees, no ground' is the horses cant do that," says Vaddara. "We either need to tie them off and figure they wont be here when we get back or turn them lose and hope we can round them up on the way out."

    "I suggest we pile the group into the portable hole and dodge this muck," says Isilme.

    "It's more a factor of bugs and such," says Thorgrim. "Animals don't really care, more than likely. although, I would think the horses aren't likely to like this place. Hey, it's a nasty swamp. There's a reason this is a "Lost" city!"

    He thinks about his Portable Hole. "Traveling via it would take two or three trips, with only about ten minutes of air, and we haven't actually found the Lost City yet. Rakk alone would take up the majority of the available space in the Hole. Perhaps we could set up the Fortress?"

    Thorgrim is reluctant to do that in this muck, but it's possible it will only sink a little, and we have a strong chance to retrieve it with our Cloak of the Manta Ray and Polymorph and such. Also, will horses sleep in standing water? I suppose they would, if they must!

    [DM OOC: Finally, you pretty much have to do away with your horses now. They simply cannot get through this country. Now, I'm not a horse guy, but from what I understand, they aren't much use in country like this. They would likely be getting stuck, breaking legs, or worse, constantly. They'd probably just refuse to go there. They aren't stupid! So, leaving them behind is probably necessary. You probably could build a raft, but you don't need one on foot. It just sucks. And it's supposed to suck. It's a dismal swamp!]

    "The Portable Hole needs to be opened on a surface," Thorgrim says, "and I see none large enough, for miles around. Nay, I do not think the Hole is suitable as transport, in this situation. We shall have to slog it through the mud." He takes out his pipe and lights it. "The task before us is to make camp, and then to discover where the city lies. Shall I erect the Fortress? I don't know if it'll stand in this muck. Perhaps the trees are the best bet, after all, though I don't relish the thought."

    However, with the party intent on not sleeping in trees or on the ground, Thorgrim looks for a place to erect his fortress. He finds an elevated area and erects the Fortress. "There is our place to camp for the night, and I have access to storage while it stands. It should be easy enough to spot from the air, by our scouts, or by Markessa's. Now prepare for a night of the living dead! Rakk, join us inside tonight. Margut, you as well. Berenn...Berenn?"

    Berenn appears, and will spend the evening at the top of the fortress keeping one eye out for any unwelcome visitors outside and the other on the unwelcome visitor on this inside.

    "Setting up in one patch of swamp is pretty much the same as setting up in some other patch of swamp," says Isilme. "As long as we stay low key i don't really see the difference." She shakes her head. "The party is hrowing up a huge "we are here sign" every time we build that fortress."

    "I think if we set the fortress up, we should hide it as best we can so everyone can get a good nights sleep," adds Vaddara. "A lot of times, we take for granted the fortress will protect us and dont disguise it."

    The party decides that the problems of using the fortress far outweigh those of not using it, so they proceed. During the night, they are attacked by strange slug-like things which crawl up the sides of the tower from the swamp. Everyone else is waking up, as Thorgrim goes back upstairs. Margut stands ready on the edge of the parapet, looking down at the slugs crawling up the sides of the tower. I assume everyone is sleeping in armor, so you can just grab weapons and go. It is first watch, and Isilme is not here, having flown off to scout.

    Berenn draws blades and looks outside. He sees a couple of slugs moving up the sides of the tower. They are only about a foot long, and they are not fast. Berenn kills one as it starts to crawl through the arrow slit. It bubbles and pusses as Bonefire burns it.

    Vaddarra sees another coming through an arrow slit on the other side, and casts Flesh to Salt. It instantly turns to salt. Elrae grabs it and breaks it on another, which starts to hiss and bubble. With all the party waking up and gathering weapons, you find it an easy enough thing to finish off the strange creatures.

    "The denizens of the swamp are friendly tonight," Thorgrim laughs, and lights his pipe. "Return to your slumbers. I'll call again if I see any treants or shambling mounds."

    You are not interrupted by anything else through the night, except for Isilme, who returns in the middle of the night. She says she has found the city. "There is a group of low hills along the north side of the lake, and part of the city lies there. It seems part of the city collapsed into the lake, and there are other ruins along the southern lake shore, though most of that area is underwater."

    You also find that your gear is already starting to suffer quite the ill-effects of the swamp. All your metal items are starting to show signs of rust. You clothes are pretty well soaked, and leather items are going to start to fall apart soon. You take normal precautions with your gear all the time, but in a setting like this, it is simply impossible to keep both yourselves and your gear dry.

    Godsday, 4th of Ready'reat (581)
    The next day is clear, though a bit cooler. Your wet clothes and skin is starting to get irritating. Thorgrim finds that the tower has sunk into the soft earth by about 5' overnight. He can shrink it down, and I'm sure you can get it back in a bit, one way or another.

    [DM OOC: Berenn and Vaddara can cast the Water Walking spells for the entire party. The only potential issue is this would burn up their allotments of 3rd level spells, making any further 3rd level spells cost double. However, according to Isilme, you can reach the city in about three hours if you can go at your normal speed, which the spell will allow. So, if that's the plan, then we can press forward. You can reach the city in short order. BTW, we lost the Fred player to real life stuff, so I simply removed Fred from the party rather than have an NPC in this already large group. Assume he didn't like the idea of trapsing through this swamp and just left.]

    You also learn from Margut that as far as he knows, almost nobody has been to the upper ruins. His clan used to live south of the city, so they would usually reach the Lake of the Dead from that direction. Since there were ruins along the southern shore of the lake, those undergoing the Trials would scour that area for items, if they made it this far. The dangers of the swamp and the lake itself, made spending any extra time there not recommended.

    Hepla and Isilme will cast Fly upon themselves and fly above the party, which is all going to walk. Starting out, you cover a LOT of ground. Margut, who refuses to have any spells cast upon himself, watches you go, and you soon put him way behind you. It's good to have magic! After an hour and a half, your spells will run out. Another round of castings is needed for EVERYONE, in order to continue. Well, not for Fly, which ends up lasting a bit longer. At some point, the Fly spells need to be recast as well. You will have been walking for another thirty minutes when Isilme has to cast Fly again, and Hepla gets another 30 minutes on top of that. Hepla and Isilme, flying up above the canopy once in a while, catch sight of a massive lake up ahead. The party will reach it shortly. They can find a place that is slightly above the waterline, where the party can stop and rest, as their Water Walk spell will end right about when they reach the lake.

    It's pretty hazy, so you can't really see well across the lake. However, you can tell that the ground rises off to the left. Eventually, it becomes a row of hills which run right up to the lake along the west and north sides. It looks like there are cliffs over that way. That must be where the city is located. Isilme's scouting the night before only found the lake. She didn't press any further, returning instead to let the party know she knew the correct direction to travel. So, now you are on the edge of what the Kurgakal call the Lake of the Dead. The lake is only maybe 10 miles across or so, and nearly round. The higher ground which Isilme noted will not take long to reach. One more casting of Water Walking will enable the party to reach the area and then be out of the swamp, for the most part. There are low hills along the north side of the lake. From here it's hard to make out, but they seem to have collapsed into the lake leaving cliffs. Along the left side lies what seems to have been the lower city, which is, according to the ogres, mostly flooded. From there, slightly rising ground can take you to the upper city.

    The party uses one more casting of Water Walking spells, enough to skirt the edge of the lake. After a short trip, with the party making all haste to get out of the water, they make it to dry ground. There is a slight ridge here, and it seems to be an old road. Perhaps once atop a levy.

    They barely make it before the Water Walk wears off. Rakk looks very forelorn. He doesn't like water! Isilme had to recast Fly about halfway there, while Hepla almost made it. She casts one about two turns from dry land. The party takes a rest, which will have to be for a couple of turns, as they had to hustle to cover the distance. They aren't along the coast anymore. Rather, they are well in from the water's edge now, maybe 1000 yards into the swamp. This raised road runs north, roughly parallel to the edge of the lake.

    [DM OOC: BTW, edge of the lake is a bit of a misnomer, as the water basically continues in every direction. It just goes from being a lake to being a forested swamp. Don't want there to be misunderstandings. reference the pictures. Anyway, this road, causeway, levy, or whatever it was, it was clearly man-made. I get the sense you don't quite understand things. You reached the lake, but rather than mess around on the open water, you skirted the lake, preferring to use Water Walk to reach a bit of higher ground to the left. That's the road you are currently on. You aren't really on a rise yet, but close to it. Isilme and/or Hepla can tell you that by simply flying up above the trees and looking around. This road will lead you to the lower city, as well as to the hills beyond it, which border and wrap around the edge of the lake and eventually to the upper city.]

    Thorgrim takes Isilme aside. "I do not think Markessa is to be found in these ruins, though we didn't expect that, did we? But she is near, I can feel it. Be wary." He fingers his Ring of Water-Walking. "Thank you again, Isilme, for the gift of this ring. It has been a great boon to me this adventure. A godsend, really. I treasure it more than anything I own, except Souldrinker."

    Isilme and Hepla fly off to scout further, while Berenn is walking up the old road with his elven cloak on trying to stay silent and hidden. Isilme is flying up above the trees, scouting ahead. She actually finds the city first. [DM OOC: I can do some descriptions with Tempus in PMs, or Isilme can return to the party and we can just do it together. Separate threads and PMs are great, but the less you guys separate, the easier it is on me. However, don't let that be your consideration. Do what you will. I'm just telling you what's easier for me.]

    Berenn is leading the way, wearing his Cloak of Elvenkind. If he spots or hears anything he will immediately stop moving. Next is going to be Thorgrim and Rakk. Next is Emyn and Hepla. Next is Vaddarra and Elrae. Last is Noot and Altan.

    Just before dark, you hear Berenn whisper from in front of the rest of the party, "There's something big up ahead, in the reeds."

    Looking forward, you see very tall swamp reeds to each side of the levy road. You then see movement from the left, maybe 50' ahead. Something bulky is there. Rakk, being a bit taller, can see the back of what seems to be a buffalo or bison. Isilme is up ahead, flying above the road. She is above the trees and didn't see any of this, so she's not around.

    Rakk, still feeling unsettled due to being in such a watery place as this, will hold his ballista up, ready to fire if necessary. Thorgrim readies his pick unless the thing charges. Also, everyone will edge to the center of the levy, so as to not get knocked into the water.

    The thing turns and comes out through the tall reeds. It does, indeed, resemble a large black buffalo with the head of a hog, hanging close to the ground, joined to its body by a thin neck, long and loose as an emptied intestine. It wallows flat upon the ground, and its legs are smothered under the huge mane of stiff bristles that hide its face. It seems to struggle as it lifts its head towards you.

    "What a strange beast," Thorgrim remarks. "I do believe I want its skull to adorn the entrance to my house...but only if it proves troublesome. It may be quite like some form of which case its behavior will depend on its sex. Cows do make good eating, though."

    "Unless this beast charges us," says Vaddara, "nature has a right to exist in all its unique forms." Still, she will brace spear against the ground incase this thing does charge. "Shape of his forehead says it likes to charge."

    "I don't like the look of it," says Berenn. "We should avoid this creature is possible and move on."

    "He's cute," says Hepla.

    As the creature looks up, its eyes glow. Rakk suddenly stiffens, grabs at his throat, and grunts, "URGK!" His ballista falls from his fingers, and he crumples to the ground, unmoving. You simultaneously hear a high-pitched scream behind you. Glancing back, you see Hepla do the same thing. Emyn and Elrae immediately go to her aid, as Noot slips into the reeds off to the side.

    Vaddarra casts Ice Knife, sending the cold blade streaking into the creature [7]. It explodes in a numbing cold, and the creature squeals in pain. Altan fires his bow, and an arrow buries itself in the thing's shoulder [13]. It rears up clumsily, as Altan fires another shot [10].

    [DM OOC: That's everyone who actually had prepared reactions except for Berenn and Thorgrim. Anyway, I will wait to see what Berenn and Thorgrim do. They were waiting, so they can attack and such. However, they cannot cast spells, as they didn't "prep" them with their wait action. Also, Berenn will become visible if he moves quickly.]

    Thorgrim immediately avoids the thing's gaze and kneels down next to Rakk to check on him. He looks up at the rest of the party, his face a mask of dread. "He's dead Jim." [OK, not Jim, but yes, Rakk is dead.]

    Berenn shouts to the rest of the party, "Avoid the creature's gaze!" Berenn will draw both of his blades and attack away from its head. He will make every attempt to avoid its gaze.

    Thorgrim pulls his Life Elixir from his belt, and hands it to Elrae. "Here, administer this to Hepla, and see if it revives her." He shifts his eyepatch so that it covers his good eye. "Emyn, blind-fight with go high, I'll go low." Thorgrim turns and attacks, regardless of what Emyn does. Emyn's probably all grief-stricken so who knows? I'll bet he wants to kill this thing, though.

    Vaddarra acts first, casting Resist Eye Contact. She quickly touches Altan, Emyn, and Elrae, as they are right next to her. She then moves up and touches Thorgrim on the shoulder. [I'm not really sure how many she could touch, but this thing is quite deadly, so I gave you all the benefit of the doubt.] Noot slips into the reeds and sneaks towards the creature. Moving at 1/3 his rate, it'll take two turns to get there to backstab it.

    The catoblepas (yep, that's what it is!) Raises it's head again when suddenly you hear chanting from behind it, Isilme's voice, singing an elvish song. The thing starts to turn that way, then just stops, unmoving. Berenn rushes forward and slashes twice at its neck, severing the beast's head as Altan fires two arrows into its body. It collapses to the ground, quite dead.

    Altan say, "Wondering if it has a lair maybe a mate this thing is so deadly many could have died because of it." He then goes to check on the fallen and injured. As Thorgrim goes to administer his Elixer of Life, Hepla opens her eyes. As he watches, he sees her necklace change to a yellow color.

    Thorgrim hears Isilmes voice "Quickly! Tend to Rakk! The Elixer may bring him back!"
    Then in a fading tone, she adds, "Take care, there may be more than one!"

    Thorgrim thanks the Gods, and then administers the potion to Rakk. He sits back and waits, but nothing happens. Emyn kneels next to Hepla, who looks up and places a hand on his cheek. Hepla says, "The Cat Lord wants the elixer used on Rakk. The Cat Lord is merciful."

    Thorgrim looks down at Rakk's unmoving corpse. "I hope you're right, Hepla." It takes a while, a full turn actually, but eventually life begins to return to Rakk. He regains consciousness, but has only 1 hp. He is very weak.

    "I think any further movement is pointless," says Berenn. "We are going to have to heal Rakk and rest for the a while."

    Isilme returns to the group eventually to report she has found the creatures lair, an old building just up ahead. "I have swept the area for magic and another creature but there was only the one. I also found the following treasure: A gold tiara set with emeralds and rubies, a gold necklace set with a large emerald, and platinum earrings set with rubies."

    She becomes visible as she lands amidst the group. "I suggest we hole up and rest within the creatures lair to heal our friend and recuperate. This creature was probably the apex predator around here, and I doubt anything will bother us in its home." She lays her hands on Rakk, healing an additional 16 points. "Rakk is a giant, and his life force was strong, it will take all of us to help restore him to full strength."

    Thorgrim sets up his Fortress somewhere feasible. Not on a collapsing cliff, not near the "lakeshore." Near the lair as we planned, if it meets those conditions. "I don't care if it can be seen for a hundred miles," he says. "I'm not sleeping in the open with legions of undead and deadly beasts wandering about."

    As the party rests, the priests use the remainder of their spells to bring Rakk back to full health. Emyn tries to press Hepla regarding the Cat Lord, but she puts two fingers on his lips, silencing his questions. Clearly, she will not speak of it. She then starts to slice off part of the beast, wondering if it will taste good.

    Thorgrim will cast Create Food and Drink for those who don't care to partake of the catoblepas feast, including himself. That beast looked like it hardly had any meat on its skeletal frame, and any you find is probably rank. Thorgrim will get out his cask of ale to share with all. "No offense, Hepla. I'm sure your cooking is fine as always, but that thing looks nasty. Have a draught?"

    The party rests in the fortress by this small building, which Isilme reports is outside the old city. If you go another hundred yards or so you get to a gatehouse. Isilme had checked this out, and found that this levy road was an old road approaching a half-ruined gatehouse. There really isn't much good ground here; however, setting up right on the road seems to be fine. It has lasted this long with all the land around turned to swamp, so it is likely quite well constructed. You are not that close to the open lake either. There is maybe 1/4 mile of swamp between where you are and the lake itself. So it's kind of connected, but not really.

    "I would expect to get a visit from some of the local denizens," says Berenn. "Be wary."

    After dinner Star, a small black cat, walks into the dinning area, sits down opposite Hepla and waits. Hepla looks at Star and sighs and puts out her left hand. Very quickly Star scratches the shadow of the hand. A long, bleeding cut appears on Hepla's hand which Star immediately licks and heals, the shadow now has three scratches on it. Hepla says, "That did not hurt as bad as the other two times." Star meows a couple of times then goes over to Emyn's back pack and works it until she can find a way in. In a moment she comes out with a dead mouse that she sits and eats.

    While the others ly down to rest, Hepla lays out her Tarot cards to see if she can get an idea of where they should go to find Markessa. As she does this, Isilme performs her own Augery. She pulls out her book on the history of the suel, sits calmly and relaxes. When she feels properly attuned asks the question: Will it be beneficial to search the lake?" Then she closes her eyes randomly flips through the pages of the book and points her finger on the page. When she opens her eyes she opens to the following passage:

    "Towards this tongue of land then, the men to whom the business was assigned carried out a double bridge from Ursatrir; and while the Arojenna constructed one line with cables of white flax, the Leicrians in the other used ropes made of papyrus. Now it is seven furlongs across from Ursatrir to the opposite coast. When, therefore, the channel had been bridged successfully, it happened that a great storm arising broke the whole work to pieces, and destroyed all that had been done."

    "Destruction doesn't sound good," says Isilme. "We should probably avoid the lake."

    "I could have told you that," says Noot, rolling over and going to sleep.

    Meanwhile, Hepla finishes her card ready. "The cards are vague," she says.

    "What else is new?" remarks Thorgrim.

    Ignoring him, Hepla continues. "The first seems to say that Markessa is aided by or in partnership with or maybe subject to some other power that is also a danger to us. The fouth card is supposed to make the first card clearer but it only warns us that we must keep our eyes on the goal and not let greed get in our way or we will end up lacking our goal. The greed is not clear if it is gold or what. It might be even friendship as the second card seems to warn against internal conflicts. We are an independent party but might have to work harder at working together. Myself included. Near as I can tell the third card says that there is a lot more at play here then we think. We may well have to expand our thinking of this whole situation. It also suggests that we, or maybe I, needs to take a voyage accross water to achieve some new knowlege or power. The cards are vague since we are here in a swamp with an ancient ruined city accross a lake in front of us. Let us be carefull and work together to face Markessa and whatever else waits for us."

    She sits up and is kind of blearry eyed, she blinks twice and says, "Giggle... did I make any sense just now?"

    "So, basically we gotta cross water but not the lake," mutters Thorgrim. "Great. Let's get some rest and move on in the morning." Everyone agrees, and the party settles down to sleep with double-watches. They pass a rather uneventful night, though they assaulted by endless no-see-ums. Eventually, Vaddara is forced to casts spells to keep them away, after which the party can gain some much needed sleep.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:22 am  

    BTW, that was the first time I either encountered or used a catoblepas. Hard to believe after all the years of DnD. Maybe it was always just assumed to be too TPK to encounter. Anyway, just thought I'd share that. Now, back to the story....
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:01 pm  
    Part 12 - The Lower City

    Waterday, 5 Ready'reat (581)
    Overnight a fog rolls off the lake, and the entire area is completely socked in with a thick mist. Visibility is no more than 20'. It's very cool, with the temperature seeming to drop quite a bit. H50,L40. There is no wind at all. Looking off to the side, from the levy road, it looks like this:

    You are a couple hundred yards from the ruins of the outer wall to the lower city. You can't see it from where you are, but if you walk a bit, you'll discover the ruins of the outer wall as well as a gatehouse. Here is a map to show you the general layout.

    "Stay away from the water unless no other choice," says Vaddara. "A little slog will wash off."

    Thorgrim, having rested well in his bedclothes, and having oiled his armor and sharpened both his pick and battleaxe the night before, and having prayed to Clanggedin for strength to smite evil, is geared up and ready to go.

    "Vaddarra, I enjoyed spending the morning watch with you. Thank you for helping me into my armor. I, too think we should work from dryest to wettest, as it seems part of this city's completely submerged, and we know what lurks beneath. Nothing rises higher than the Upper City, but how much below? Working in water will doubtless cost much spellpower. Our mages will likely find themselves spent before we reach it. Dryest to wettest--I think that is the best. I'm sure Rakk will back me up on this one. Rakk?"

    Rakk much prefers to avoid the water. "Dryest first sounds good."

    "Agreed," says Vaddara.

    Hepla, as she makes sure everyone's armor is warm and dry gives each a kiss on the forehead as they leave, everyone except Emyn who gets a knee weakening lip lock kiss from her.

    Berenn will lead the way to the gate and checking the path for any movement. The walls here remain tall and strong, nearly 40' in height, and 20' wide. The gatehouse also is strongly built, though only the shell remains, the upper floors all having collapsed. You have to pick your way through the ruins, but you emerge into the city beyond. This portion is a bit higher and out of the water, but most of the buildings have all fallen apart. There are only a few standing here. Great swamp trees grow throughout, as nature struggles to reclaim this last bit of man-made effrontery.

    "Mighty Tarsellis," prays Vaddara. "We have traveled far to cleanse this portion of wilderness in your name. Many members of our group seek to engage and remove the evil known as Markessa. We ask for your favor in these matters. Should it be your will, I will claim this wilderness in your name and set up a shrine in your honor."

    [DM OOC: Common Prayer gives everyone a +5%/+1 for the day!]

    Map Link:
    Just so you know, the "road" is about 20' wide, for the sake of scale.

    Now, my ability to DRAW maps is nowhere near as good as I'd like, and I don't really have time to get that much better. Sorry. I do my best. In this map, you see the dry land upon which you stand. And dry just means less damp, not underwater! Anyway, the water to each side is swamp. I'm leaving out the swamp trees, until/unless I have to add some for a fight or something. You can pretty easily see areas which are flooded though. The ground goes down just inside the walls, so only the strip close to the wall seems dry. Straight ahead, you can see the road goes down underwater. There are buildings all around, as this was a small plaza/intersection, just inside the gatehouse.

    Hepla continues to look around for anything written or carved on the walls etc. She figures that the name of the town, maybe the name of the gate, maybe even street names might have survived. Even if she finds stuff she cannot read, maybe someone could. The gate has ancient dwarven runes carved into it, which read, "The smallest pebble was once the biggest stone."

    "Must be the motto of the city," says Hepla to Thorgrim. "That has a special meaning to a dwarf?" She also takes some water and splashes at on the walls around the saying to see if there is still the imprint of more writting left on the walls. She is surprissed that this is written in Dwarven runes.

    "'Tis an old saying, meaning many things, depending on how you look at it," Thorgrim replies. "'Tis an axiom of industry, meaning all works are possible, given enough effort. Some take it to mean that all things, even the greatest works of Dwur-kind, eventually fall to ruin, if not properly cared for. Yea, even the mountains crumble into the sea. Similarly, some take it as a warning against hubris, that the mightiest things we can make of our world, or of ourselves, come to nothing in the end, as time takes its toll on dwarf and stone alike. And other things as well. I think this inscription is a testament to their determination to build this city in such a remote place. As you can see, the other meanings held sway."

    While Thorgrim examines the runes further, contemplating, Berenn looks ahead towards the flooded street that is barely on the edge of the fog. "I don't think anyone wants to go into the water," says Berenn, "so right or left?"

    "Since left will see us to the upper city," says Elrae, "we should go that way."

    Map link:
    As you can see, all your tokens are now there and the squares (5' each) are in place. Now you've got some scale! The fog limits visibility to 20'. It's VERY thick here.

    Hepla and Emyn walked off to the left. Thorgrim and Vaddarra just were walking back in from a thorough look at the gate, when Thorgrim noticed something odd about the buildings to the left. They are attached to the gatehouse, and there was a dwarven rune for barracks carved above the doorway.. Unless otherwise noted, doors are all long gone, the wood rotted away. These buildings are all stone, so they remain. What the other buildings were cannot be ascertained. Noot moves off to the right a bit, investigating. There's an allyway going back towards the wall, while the street continues. The main street starts to descend and within only about 5' it is flooded. You can barely see the water on the edge of your vision.

    Vaddarra moves up to the corner and looks down the road, just as Hepla, Emyn in tow, moves across the street to the first building on the right. It had double-doors apparently, and when she looks inside, she sees that this was clearly an inn. All the tables and chairs and such are long gone, but the fireplace and the general layout, including a long granite slab on the floor where a bar once stood, make it clear what this was. It looks like it was a three story building, but the floors above are all gone. Only the shell remains, and half of the rear has collapsed above. It's in a sorry shape.

    Thorgrim will take rear guard, staying within 10 feet of the last member in the main grouping. "One of you mages have some sort of weather spell to dispel the fog, should we encounter something?" he asks.

    "Something's not right," says Rakk.

    Isilme vanishes, casting Invisibility as Berenn pulls his Cloak of Elvenkind close around him. Sirenia casts Dispel fog. Much of the fog in the immediate area disappears. You can now see quite far, nearly 80'.

    A large creature, about 12' tall, stands next to Emyn and Hepla. It has a shapeless head with yellow eyes atop of its form. It has 4 arms ending in long talons, and its lower body portion forms a giant snaky mass that can slither over the tops of bogs and water, easily supporting the more massive upper body. You couldn't see it before, as it seems to be either made of mist or it simply blends into the fog perfectly.

    Hepla backs into the building, slipping around the corner. She preps Control Vapor and waits. Thorgrim moves over to the center of the street, keeping an eye out for other beasts.

    Isilme flies up about 50'. Fog is lifted in an 80'r, so she can clearly see this entire area (i.e. the area revealed on the map! Even though I revealed it, doesn't mean everyone can really see all of it at the same time.) She sees nothing, and beyond the radius is basically just a wall of fog, magically blocked from leaking into the hemisphere area.

    The mist creature swings its long arms, striking at Emyn. He takes three blows from its four arms; one connects for [42] and the next connects for [33], and another for [15]. Emyn is once again knocked flying backwards. He flies back through the open doorway to the old inn, landing with a thud, still and unmoving, about 5' inside the building.

    Altan fires an arrow, which seems to fly right by the thing. It is somewhat misty-like, though Vaddarra is surprised that it doesn't seem to transform into a more solid shape, as her spell should have forced it to do. Vaddarra casts a Snilloc's Snowball, but it flies right through the creature!

    Berenn draws his blades and moves slowly up to attack, though he doesn't move fast enough to reveal himself. He moves in front of the rest of the party, guarding the way. Noot ducks into the small building to his right, hiding in shadows. Elrae sees the mighty blows which sent Emyn flying, and he backs up, putting space between himself and the creature while he draws Snowfang. Finally, Rakk lets go his ballista, seeing that no other missiles have had any effect, draws his blades, and moves forward. He stays away, careful to avoid the thing's reach.

    Map link:
    So, here you can see the situation. Hepla's inside the old inn. Emyn has been knocked out, sent flying into the building where he lies motionless on the floor. Rakk stands 15' away, blades out and ready. Berenn is to his left, against the barracks building. He's invisible with his cloak on, wrapped around himself and ready as well. Vaddara stands at the corner, with Thorgrim behind her. Elrae and Altan are at the far side of the intersection. Noot is hiding in the small building just inside the gatehouse and to the right. Finally, Isilme flew straight up 50' high, and has a bird's eye view of the entire area. She sees nothing but this creature.

    [Rakk OOC: Haven't seen these since Stormbringer. Ouch!]

    Rakk says,"Ye'll be needing magic weapons to harm it, lads." And he'll close with it.

    Isilme begins to sing her Charm Monster, though it doesn't seem to affect the creature. She senses a serious resistance to her attempt. Vaddarra backs up behind Thorgrim, where she casts Spiritual Hammer. A glowing hammer appears in the air near the beast, and she begins to try and hit it, though she misses.

    Noot looks around the room. It is full of debris, and it's hard to determine what it may have been. It's basically empty. There are some large clay jars along one wall, all but one broken. Inspecting them, they all hold wax.

    Altan fires his bow, using one of his red arrows (+2). It hits the creature dead center [13], and the creature lets out a strange, hissing howl. Rakk moves up to attack the mist giant. Its long arms flail at him as he steps in, hitting him for [11]. He attacks the creature, slashing it across its massive belly [22]. [OOC: Rakk is using his bastard sword two-handed, knowing that his MW blade will not be effective!]

    Berenn slinks quietly along the wall, moving behind the creature which clearly doesn't notice him. No longer able to use Snowfang as planned, Elrae casts Magic Missile. The magical darts sing along, curving around Rakk, and strike the creature, but they seem to have no effect.

    It roars, clearly not used to being hurt, and swings at Rakk. It hits Rakk 3 times, doing [16] [15] and [12]. Rakk takes another swing at the creature, missing.

    Altan has to hold his other shots, else he risks hitting Rakk now that he's in melee with the creature. Hepla moves over to Emyn, casting her witchy Cure Serious Wounds upon him, healing [10]. Emyn's eyes slowly blink open, and he sees Hepla kneeling above him.

    Hepla says to Emyn, "It seems only magic weapons can hit this thing." as she helps him to his feet. She prepares to cast Control Vapor on the beast.

    "Burn in the holy light of Clanggedin!" Thorgrim shouts and summons a Holy Orb upon the creature. It affects the mist giant, as well as Rakk and Berenn. All make saves. The mist giant takes [15] while Rakk takes [13] and Berenn takes only [5]. Ralph growls and rushes up, leaping at the giant, but it misses! [DM OOC: I keep forgettting him!]

    Noot checks out the place thoroughly, but finds nothing else of value. Actually, he does find a couple piles of candles.

    Outside, the mist giant swings at Rakk four more times, hitting twice [19] and [20]. Rakk is knocked backwards by the blows, falling to the ground. Ralph leaps upon the thing again, but it swipes him away with a backhanded swat [18]. Ralph is sent flying backwards with a yelp! Rakk wipes the blood from his lips, his eyes suddenly growing more intent. He gets up, then advances 5' and swings at the mist giant, missing again.

    Isilme flies down over the giant, attacking with Maerthorlear, but she misses. Berenn also moves up behind it, attacking from the rear, but he misses as well. Hepla casts Control Vapor from the doorway, but it doesn't seem to affect the creature. Elrae casts Stoneskin, while Altan changes weapons, drawing his Blades of Khurdac and advances.

    Thorgrim charges forward, and the thing hits him as closes [20], knocking him backwards and to the ground as well! Finally, Vaddarra hits it with her Spiritual Hammer [4].

    [DM OOC: Damn, you guys suck!]

    [Vaddara OOC: This thing is just a bad ****. If i had maxed damage it would just nick him anyway.]

    [Rakk OOC: Yes, it's a bad ****. It was bad news in it's original write-up in OD&D's Dieties and Demigods, and I doubt it has gotten any better.]

    Map Link:

    The mist giant seems to flow higher, and it swings twice at Isilme, hitting each time! She takes [16] and [20] and is knocked backwards 15', which means kind of up! It also swings twice at Rakk, hitting him once [20].

    Thorgrim gets up and moves forward, getting hit once as he advances [18]. He avoids any knockdowns, and moves up, but then Rakk swings and hits him by accident [19], knocking Thorgrim to the ground.

    "Witless, elf-kissing, rockrunt!" swears Thorgrim as he rolls away.

    Hepla takes out a potion of ex-healing, giving it to Emyn, who drinks it, healing [22]. Vaddarra fails to hit with her hammer, while Isilme flies up, disappearing into the fog.
    Elrae and Altan both move up simultaneously, flanking Rakk to left and right. The creature attacks them both, but misses. Elrae then hits with Snowfang[5].

    Meanwhile, Noot comes back outside, moving up behind Vaddarra. Finally, Berenn strikes with his blades, but they seem to slice nothing but mist! A shout from Rakk keeps Ralph back this time.

    "Powerful magic weapons, that's what we need to hit it with." Elrae feeling embolden from Stoneskin, attacks with Snowfang. "Just because my Magic Missiles fizzled the first time doesn't mean it won't work the second time." If Elrae get's pounded too much he will retreat from the mist giant's range and attack from afar hoping that he can get a cone of cold shot in before the party rushes in.

    [Isilme OOC: Isilme is flying away. The party can deal with it. Well it's bad enough we are fighting something that came from dieties and demigods - but to give it additional magic resistance is overkill.]

    [Rakk OOC: Hate to say it but it fits the books. Comes from Elric's adventures. Damned hard to fight. Anything that gave Elric and that sword of his fits has get to be a major problem for us.]

    [Isilme OOC: Yes I know, I fought them before. I just don't remember them making spells fizzle or bounce off them. Standard magic resistance. This one is hopped up on steroids.]

    [Rakk OOC: Mist Giant Lord? Illusion? It's really something else? Infused with magic from the surroundings? Any of the above? ALL of the above? Or the DM just felt like throwing a major foe at us!]

    [Vaddara OOC: You might have the right idea.]

    [DM OOC: Jesus you guys can be whiny babies sometimes! You shouldn't be so surprised when you get hit by things with LOTS of hit dice! You guys are just lucky that Vaddarra dispelled the fog!!! Otherwise, it'd be darn near invisibile....]

    [Rakk OOC: Hey, this thing was equal to a dragon in OD&D! That qualifies for tough in my book!]

    [DM OOC: It's a Mist Giant. From the Melnibonean Mythos, originally printed in the 1st ed Deities and Demigods. It's not a god-level thing, but it IS real tough. Lots of hit points. Very good AC. multiple and strong attacks. Yes, it's tough. And yes, I added a small magic resistance. Of course, it has ONLY blocked two spells with magic resistance, Elrae's magic missiles and a Snowball! Everything else either didn't affect it, or it made a save, or it had a minor effect anyways. It's not really that big of a surprise, considering. Incidentally, it shouldn't surprise you that this place is so deadly. Otherwise, this city wouldn't still be LOST!!!]

    Vaddarra casts Airbolt. It strikes the creature, but only does [8] damage. Altan swings his scimitars at the mist giant, missing both times.

    The mist giant attacks, with one attack on Elrae, two against Rakk, and one against Altan. Elrae is hit, but the blow is stopped by the Stoneskin, and Altan is hit [16].

    Rakk attacks, missing. Berenn backs off, moving between the buildings behind him.

    Elrae points Snowfang at it, shouting "Cyro!" A cone of cold erupts from Snowfang, engulfing the beast [18].

    Isilme takes out her Wand of Wonder, "Let's see what this does...."

    Suddenly, the sound of ringing bells peals from the wand. It is incredibly loud, drowning out all noise and speech within 25'! Gotta love the Wand of A Wonder!!!

    Hepla takes her Wand of Whips, points it at the Mist Giant, and summons a mystical whip. It shoots out at the mist giant, cracking at it. It just snaps through it, as if it cannot hurt it. It snaps over and over again at the mist giant, unable to hit it.

    Emyn tells Hepla, "You cannot hurt it." He then grabs her and pulls her back inside, out of danger.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim casts Abjure, but nothing happens.

    Map Link:

    Hepla attempts to cast Magic Missile, but she is being held by Emyn, who tells her to stay inside. "I cannot lose you again," he says. "One of these times, you will not come back."

    "This is true, dear, but I cannot allow our friends to fight alone. Also we can stay here in the old inn while I cast the spells. Our friends need our help."

    "Then do you have anything which can enhance my mace?" he asks. "This beast is immune to my blows."

    "Sorry, my love, I do not. I have my magic but I cannot make your weapons more powerful."

    The Mist Giant backs off, moving out of combat and retreating about 25', while Isilme casts Dispel Magic to get rid of that incessant ringing of bells. Rakk sheathes his swords, then takes out his bag of holding and removes his Spetum. [Nice, finally using the polearm!]

    Isilme dispels the pealing bells! "Stupid wand," she mutters.

    Vaddarra then cast Icelance. With some arcane knowledge of the far north, she gathers together all the ice remaining from Snowfang's Cone of Cold, forming the whole into a long shard, which she sends hurling towards the mist giant. It pierces it through the chest [20], before the whole thing shatters, falling back into useless ice and water.

    Berenn casts Light on his sword, while Thorgrim takes out his stone of summoning Earth Elementals, ready to use it. Altan sheathes his scimitars, and takes out his bow again. He draws another Red Arrow and points it at the creature. Finally, Elrae draws upon Snowfang again, this time surrounding the mist giant with an ice dome.

    At the end of the round, Noot is hit from behind. A large hook is stuck through his shoulder [10]. He turns around, and stares into the soulless face of a waterlogged zombie sailor wielding a gaff hook. He is held fast by the gaff hook!

    Vaddarra is also attacked from behind, slashed in the back [7]. She turns to see another zombie, this one wielding a cutlass. Both are nauseated by the incredible stench of the things, suffering -1 to rolls.

    Far behind them, they see two more coming out of the water at the edge of the fog! Rakk and Berenn also see Ralph turn around, back to the mist giant, and growl at something towards the water.... Isilme looks back at Noot's scream of pain, and sees the zombies. Looking around, she sees three more, coming from the East. [The top of the map is East.]

    Map Link:

    [Berenn OOC: Lost City of the Living Dead ... LOL! Berenn will cast Sunbow. Next round he will pull his holy symbol and attempt to turn the undead.]

    [Rakk OOC: Give it a shot, but I don't think you can. These are Drowned Dead, the Lost at Sea. Worse yet, they are probably on home ground.]

    Isilme holds Maoerlather aloft and says a strange prayer of retribution to her goddess in ancient elvish. [ She casts "Revisitation" and smites the giant with all the unanswered damage it did to her. *[16] and [20]* ] There is a loud sound from inside the ice dome, then you hear nothing, not even the giant pounding on the side.

    Noot stabs the zombie with his dagger, driving it into the things chest [6].

    The zombie doesn't seem to notices, and it starts to drag Noot back towards the water with his hook. He drags him about 25'. Two more come out of the water, and they join the zombie dragging Noot, grabbing him themselves. Vaddarra is hit by the zombie again [7]. Her spell is ruined. One moves forward and is attacked by Ralph [8]. It attacks Ralph, but misses. Two move come out of the water and surround Vaddarra.

    Rakk moves up and attacks the zombie with his Spetum [20] and knocking it to the ground. Hepla casts Cure Serious Wounds on Emyn, healing [15], while Berenn casts Sunbow. Altan fires arrows at the zombie that moved up towards Vaddarra, putting two arrows into it [9] and [13]. It doesn't react at all.

    Elrae moves up and attacks the same one with Snowfang, hitting for [9]. Now it seems to notice!

    Emyn thanks Hepla, kisses her on the cheek, and then heads outside. He sees the zombies dragging Noot and rushes that way. One attacking Vaddarra swings at him as he passes, but it misses.

    Finally, Thorgrim, stone in hand, summons an Earth Elemental. It rises up from the damp earth of the street, standing immobile and awaiting commands.

    Map Link:
    [more zombies appear, coming out of the fog. Isilme can see them all, so I put them on the map.]
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    Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:19 am  
    Part 13 - Zombieland

    Noot rips himself free of the gaff hook, taking [5] damage, but he is still held by the other two zombies. He breaks free of them as well, tumbling behind Emyn who stands between him and the three zombies.

    Elrae presses his attack, lopping the head off the zombie with a slash from Snowfang. He then backs off, taking up a defensive stance. Rakk steps up and drives his spetum through the face of the zombie he just knocked over, killing it, again. He sees another coming from behind the ice wall, and he waits for it to approach, telling Ralph to stay back.

    Hepla readies her lightning bolt, emerging from the building. However, she never has an opportunity to cast it. Berenn moves out and simultaneously with Isilme, they produce their holy symbols, attempting to call upon St. Cuthbert and Ellistrae to hold back the undead. To their amazement, the zombies seem to not even notice.

    Vaddarra backs off from the zombies, holding her spear out before her and taking up a defensive stance as well.

    "Destroy these undead creatures," says Thorgrim grimly, pointing to the zombies. The elemental then wades in and smashes one of the zombies [24] knocking it flying off to the left. Another ignores the elemental, moving towards Vaddarra. The elemental backhands it as it goes by, swatting it across the road like a fly [18].

    Vaddarra then stabs it with her spear [10], and pins it to the ground.

    Emyn smashes one of the zombies with his mace [10], knocking it to the ground. The other two move up and attack him, hitting him once [7], as that one gets up and advances too. Another moves up on Rakk, and he sticks it with his spetum [18] before it can reach him. It just keeps coming, driving itself down the polearm and claws at Rakk's face [5]. The stench is terrible, and Rakk suffers -1 too. Actually, pretty much everyone now suffers, but this just cancels out Vaddarra's earlier spell. Another moves up on Rakk from the east, but Ralph takes it down in a snarling rage [8]. It has it grappled on the ground. Two move up towards Elrae, and Altan puts two arrows into one [15] [12]. It ignores Elrae and moves on towards Altan, but Elrae cuts it in two with a slash from Snowfang as it goes by. Emyn then hits the zombie again [11].

    Isilme sees more zombies walking out of the flooded areas on the edge of the fog.

    Vaddarra casts Nystul's Lightburst, which incinerates all the undead around Emyn. Emyn and Noot are both blinded (only lasts a round). The last zombie coming out of the water retreats back away from the light. Meanwhile, Isilme Lays Hands on herself, healing [15].

    Emyns swings his sword around blindly, trying to blink his vision clear while Noot crawls away, between the two western buildings.

    Ralph continues ripping apart the downed zombie [5]. Rakk's spetum is thoroughly stuck in the zombie, as it pulled itself down the shaft. Thus, Rakk just lets go of it, whips out his swords, and does a double slash with both hands, scissoring off the thing's head! It then slumps to the ground.

    Elrae slashes at the zombie next to him [7]. Altan fires arrows at the zombie just coming out of the water. His arrow hits it in the face [10], but it just keeps walking forward. Berenn has no clear shots with his sunbow. He moves over towards the center of the street, standing beside Altan, and he too fires a shot at the zombie in the water. The arrow from his sunbow hits it [20]. They seem rather susceptible to it.

    Thorgrim moves over and attacks the one on the ground to the right, hitting it with Souldrinker [11] while the elemental crushes the zombie elrae was fighting, smashing it to the ground with a wet fist!

    The zombie reaches out and grabs Thorgrim's leg, but he kicks free. One attacks the earth elemental, but can't seem to harm it. Another moves up and attacks Elrae, missing.
    The one attacks Ralph, clawing and biting [6]. The one shot by Berenn slips back into the fog, while the others move up. One comes up from the west, through the gatehouse, and is approaching Thorgrim from that direction. Another moves up to attack Rakk.

    Isilme sees three more appearing out of the fog to the east, in the water. Vaddarra sees another one appearing from the water to the south. Actually, Berenn and Altan see them too. Berenn fires another shot, hitting the zombie [20]. It too disappears back into the fog.

    Oh, and Hepla, now having two zombies lined up for a lightning bolt, raises her hand and sends it streaking due west. It stikes the one next to Isilme (well, next to Isilme's counter, as Isilme is actually about 25' in the air!), blasting a huge whole right through its chest as it flies through and takes out the other one coming through the fog (just off the map) and blows that one apart too. They seem extremely vulnerable to lightning! [so, ignore that one to the bottom left of Isilme's token. It was blown apart by Hepla's lightning bolt.]

    Vaddarra moves over to Noot. "It's ok," she says, casting a CLW upon him. His vision slowly clears, and he looks up to see Vaddarra smiling at him. Emyn hangs his mace on his belt, draws his bastard sword, and takes up a blindfighting stance, listening carefully around him. Thorgrim takes out the downed zombie, smashing souldrinker through its teeth, then awaits the next foe.

    "I release you from your bondage," he says quietly.

    Isilme casts a CLW upon herself, nearly healing all the wounds she suffered at the hands of the mist giant. She then flies down towards the ice dome. She calls to Rakk, "There's another back here," she says.

    Rakk slashes the one before him [18]. "One at a time," he shouts back.

    Hepla calls to Ralph, and the old wolf leaps free of the zombie and rushes towards her. Hepla uses Healing, healing [2]. The wolf seems ok, as she applies a bit of witchy poultice to some scratches.

    Elrae cuts down the last zombie in front of him with Snowfang, cleaving it nearly in two. He looks over just as the elemental steps on the remaining zombie, crushing its head.

    One moves up from the gates to attack Thorgrim but misses. Another moves up on Emyn, and Berenn hits it with a shot from his sunbow [22]. The zombie turns and retreats back into the water. Thorgrim hits it [12]. Three more zombies surround Rakk, and together the four attempt to overbear him. Rakk swings at the first, cleaving it's head from its body! He then hits the next, [18] and knocking it back to the ground. He then scores hits on both the others [16] and [18]. The two zombies grab Rakk, and successfully drag him to the ground, inflicting [4 temp damage].

    Altan has no clear shots, so he moves over by Elrae. Two more zombies start walking out of the fog to the east (remember, that's the top of the map!). He fires two shots at one, hitting it once [11].

    Hepla, looks around and says, "They just keep coming! Maybe we should fight a retreating action and move through the town." She pets Ralph and says,"Stay out of trouble, you are hurt."

    Altan fires his bow at the zombie fighting Thorgrim, using Called shot to fire into Melee (at -4 but no chance of hitting Thorgrim). He hits it [16], putting the arrow right through its eye!

    Looking around, Emyn doesn't see any more zombies. He moves back to the center of the street, engaging the one attacking Thorgrim, but misses. Thorgrim attacks it again, hitting for [15], driving it to the ground. It stops moving. As Noot moves over by Berenn, Rakk breaks free of the zombies, throwing them off him like rag dolls, and stands up! Hepla holds onto Ralph, keeping him from attacking, as Vaddarra moves up behind her.

    Elrae moves over and attacks one of the zombies on the ground by Rakk, hitting it for [10], chopping off a hand. Seeing no zombies around, Isilme flies down and hits one of the zombies surrounding Rakk [13]. Berenn fires at that same zombie, hitting it for [16].

    The zombies all get up, attacking. They all miss.

    Two more move up on Altan, but one moves too close to the Earth Elemental, which smacks it [24] and sends it flying backwards 10' to the ground! The other attacks Altan and misses. The Earth Elemental steps up and smashes it [18], knocking it back too. ltan fires two shots into it, pinning it to the ground and finishing it!

    Isilme, Rakk, and Elrae finish off the zombies around them, while Vaddarra casts CLW on Ralph [8]. Altan fires and hits the one coming out of the water [10]. Emyn moves towards the gatehouse, attacking the zombie there [6]. Thorgrim backs up to Berenn and Vaddarra, telling the Earth Elemental to guard the crossroads.

    The zombie from the east moves towards him, but the elemental slams it [20], knocking it flying! The other one misses Emyn. Another comes through the gate attacking Emyn, but misses. Rakk sees another coming between the building ahead of him. You see four more appearing out of the fog. One to the north, one south, and two east. Altan fires another shot, taking out a zombie to the east.

    "Thank you for Helping Ralph", says Hepla. If it looks like she has the time, she examines the clothing of a zombie, wondering if it is a sailor or military or townsman clothing. She can't tell. It's far too corroded, with barely rags hanging off it.

    "Thanks, Vaddara," says Rakk, petting Ralph on the head. "Stay out of trouble."

    "The zombies seem to just keep coming," says Hepla. "We should move out of zombie plaza."

    "I'll agree with that," says Rakk. "Which way was it to higher ground?"

    Rakk sheaths his swords, steps up, grabs the zombie corpse, and throws it down the street. It hits the oncoming zombie, knocking it back to the ground. He then picks up his spetum. Vaddarra kneels down next to Ralph, casting Cure Medium Wounds [18], healing it completely. Isilme floats over to her left a bit, between the ice dome and the building, and awaits the oncoming zombie.

    Berenn fires another shot from his sunbow, which streaks past Isilme and slams the zombie [18]. It backs away, returning into the fog. Emyn attacks the zombies coming from the west. He misses. Altan fires and hits the zombie to Emyn's right (the north one!) [11].

    The zombies move up. The one from the south is slapped away by the earth elemental [22], and it is knocked prone. The same thing happens to the one from the east. Another one from the east moves west, attacking Rakk. Rakk hits it with his spetum [18] as it approaches, but it keeps coming. It pushes inside his reach and attacks, but misses. Hepla then blasts it with a Magic Missile, blowing its head right off! The two zombies continue their attacks against Emyn, missing.

    Another comes through the gate, surrounding Emyn. Isilme sees another coming through the fog to the north, just ahead of her, while Elrae spots another to the East and Thorgrim sees another coming from the south.

    Altan had two more shots. He fires twice, hitting the one that moved up to Emyn's flank. He puts two arrows into its head and chest [12] and [14], but it just ignores them and keeps coming! You also notice that there has been no pounding on the ice dome for some time, since Isilme cast her Revisitation spell.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Marines, We are leaving!]

    Berenn fires at the southern zombie, missing. Altan fires an arrow hitting the eastern one just as it tries to get up [15] killing it! He then takes a step back, standing beside Berenn.

    Noot rushes off to the north, only to stop when he sees the zombie coming out of the fog there. Isilme "flies" towards it, hitting it with Maerthorlear [12].

    Rakk steps up and drives his spetum into the downed zombie [22], holding it down. Ralph rushes up, but a sharp word from Rakk makes the wolf hold back.

    Elrae moves around the east side of the ice dome, hitting the zombie fighting Isilme [12].

    Hepla and Vaddarra both move off around the west of the ice dome, passing Noot, and head off into the fog.

    [DM OOC: BTW, I'll reveal the area as you go. Remember, you only have 20' visibility in this fog. That other area was cleared by Vaddarra's spell!]

    Emyn backs away, withdrawing behind the earth elemental. Thorgrim withdraws another 15' as well, telling the elemental to guard the rear.

    The zombies move up, but the elemental slaps them away as they approach. It knocks away four of them, but one slips past it to the east, attacking and hitting Altan [10]. Altan fires his bow point blank, sending two arrows into the zombie's face [9] and [16]. Another one also moves up to the west of the EE, attacking Emyn but missing. Isilme is missed by the zombie to the north. You see more appearing, including two from the north, just ahead of Hepla and Vaddarra.

    [DM OOC: Oops, sorry. Isilme is doing an extra +4 damage with Maerthorlear. That zombie her and Elrae are fighting is dead! Against these things, she has a +16 damage! Damn, get out of her way!]

    Isilme mutters "these things are truly evil" as she dances around the next one striking it down. She stays near the ice dome, waiting to see if the giant creature comes out or makes a sound. She hears nothing and smiles, silently thanking Ellistraee.

    The Drowned Ones just keep coming.....

    [DM OOC: I also started giving the party fatigue here. I toyed with using the real rules, but they just were too complicated. So, I arbitrarily just made people start to get fatigued.]

    Isilme flies up and attacks the nearest zombie, hitting for [24]. Maerthorlear just hacks them to pieces! Thorgrim steps up and bashes in the chest of the one fighting Altan, allowing him to back off without fear. Altan runs back to the Ice Dome, and there stands ready to fire at any targets of opportunity. Berenn follows him, standing side by side and firing his sunbow again. He takes out the zombie beyond Rakk, allowing Rakk to fall back to the north. Rakk rushes around behind Elrae, and prepares to watch the east side of the ice dome.

    Elrae rummages through his pack and finds his Scroll of Protection from Undead and reads it. Everyone sees a faint shimmerring sphere surrounds him in a 5' radius. He also takes out his Wand of Earth and Stone.

    Vaddarra casts Shocklet, summoning a minor elemental from the plane of lightning. It appears before her. A zombie reacts to it, attacking it, and instantly is shocked in turn [19]. The zombie is blasted backwards, and it stays back after that.

    Hepla and Noot rest, and both recover their fatigue. Thorgrim and Emyn both withdraw, while the earth elemental lays into the zombies. It rips apart four more, while one gets by. It reaches Emyn and attacks him, hitting him for [10]. Emyn and Thorgrim both hit the zombie, finishing it off! The zombie also attacks Isilme, missing.

    Rakk tells Ralph, "Guard Hepla."

    "I'm not letting her leave my side," says Vaddara. "We're clearing a path. Ya'lll hurry along now ya hear!"

    "Means I worry less about Ralph," calls Rakk with a smile.

    "Good dog, stay," says Hepla as Ralph runs up to her. "We will look out for each other." Hepla holds her place, leaning on her staff as we try to exit going north.

    Altan fires his bow, striking the downed zombie west of the elemental [12], killing it. Berenn moves up beside him, firing his sunbow and taking out the zombie already hit by the lightning elemental. The elemental moves north, and an electric blast arcs out from it with a loud buzz, hitting the zombie to the north [38], blasting a hole right through it! Isilme makes short work of the zombie she is fighting, then flies up in the air and moves out to the north, about 25' high. She sees the ruins of what was once a grand temple.

    Everyone else moves up and surrounds Elrae, who read the scroll of Pro: from Undead. The earth elemental follows, guarding the passage around the west of the ice dome, while Rakk guards the north side and the side street. More zombies are coming up from the south. One is coming through a break in the city wall to the west. There's another coming around the temple to the east.

    [DM OOC: Now that I have the party all bunched up, time for that fireball......]

    Isilme calls out to Thorgrim. "Have your elemental travel through and under the earth and into the ice dome and ensure that giant never comes back!"

    "Elemental!" Thorgrim shouts. "Get under this dome and destroy anything within, then exit and destroy more zombies!" Stepping into the protection of Elrae's scroll, Thorgrim adds, "This will give us some space to work with. I will lead. Elrae, you take rear. Those who stay near me or Elrae are protected; those inside should not provoke the zombies by attacking them. Let's move on and find a place to heal." Thorgrim casts CSW on himself, curing [12].

    While the party regroups, Emyn calls upon Trithereon and uses his Monster Summoning 5 ability. Two giant spiders come up over the wall, answering his call. They leap down upon the zombie below them.

    Berenn stops to fire his sunbow at the zombie coming from the east, along the side of the old temple. He hits it [16], and the zombie beats a hasty retreat. The sunbow then vanishes. The rest of the party moves along together, about 60' further north, traveling slowly so as to stay together. Rakk watches the rear.

    Isilme flies back to the ice dome, landing atop it as the earth elemental slips down into the earth.

    You see another zombie appear in your path to the north, while another comes from the east, around the temple and towards Berenn. The rest try to get to Isilme atop the ice dome, but they cannot climb it. Altan fires an arrow, hitting the northern zombie [10] in the chest.

    The shocklet zaps the zombie, which retreats back into the fog. Emyn enters the temple and looks around. It is basically empty, the floor filled with ancient wooden debris. There is an altar in the far section. Great windows, long broken, allow shafts of pale light to filter in through the fog outside.

    The spiders continue to attack the zombie which they have trapped, and it struggles in their grip.

    Berenn draws swords, and Rakk moves up next to him as the zombie approaches. Rakk hits it with his spetum [17] as it closes. He and Berenn then finish it off quite easily.

    Two of the zombies leave the ice dome and moves up against Berenn, attacking with weird swords, but missing. Isilme floats closer to the zombies around the ice dome and starts to attack them from above, hitting the first for [22]. More come out from through the west wall and from the buildings to the east. One attacks Noot, who tries to draw further away. The earth elemental then comes back up through the ground.

    "ELEMENTAL! TO ME!" shouts Thorgrim. He then looks around, "Let's pick up the pace."

    The lightning elemental moves forward, discharging its lightning into the zombie [20]. Isilme attacks the zombie again, killing it. Berenn attacks the zombie before him, hitting with Bonefire [16]. Rakk stabs right passed Berenn's ear, putting his spetum through the zombie's neck [19], dropping it! Altan puts another arrow into the zombie ahead [15], dropping it as well. Noot slips back closer to Elrae, and the zombie leaves him alone, attacking Vaddarra. Ralph leaps onto it [8], knocking it to the ground with a growl, as Vaddarra steps up and drives her spear into it [13].

    Inside the temple, Hepla casts Detect Magic. She doesn't see anything. Emyn stands there, anxiously wanting to head outside.

    A zombie comes out from the broken wall, attacking Vaddarra who turns at the last minute and catches it with her spear as it approaches [10]. It still reaches her, but misses.
    Another moves up and attacks Altan, slashing him with a sword [7]. A third emerges from a side street and goes after Elrae, but it veers away when it approaches the area of his protection, instead attacking Thorgrim, clubbing him with some kind of mace [9]. One comes after Rakk from the side, but he's able to fend it off with his spetum [15]. The zombie keeps coming, hitting Rakk [5]. The other zombie attacks Berenn, missing. Rakk hits the one to the side again [18], driving it back, but it keeps coming! Berenn hits the one to the south [12]. Another moves up and attacks Berenn, hitting for [6]. The three zombies around the ice dome all move on. Two move up to Rakk, who hits each one with his spetum as them near him [15] and [20]. They continue and both miss Rakk. The other gets attacked by Isilme as it moves away from her, and she slays it.

    Thorgrim hits the zombie next to him [12]. The earth elemental moves down the street towards Thorgrim. It walks passed the zombies, as Thorgrim didn't tell it to attack them. It strides all the way back to Thorgrim. Altan fires two more shots, peppering the zombie before him [16] and [14].

    Two zombies come out from behind the altar in the temple, dripping water, while two more come from the far south, back towards the gate where they entered the city. One of Emyn's summoned spiders is killed, but the other keeps a zombie occupied still.

    [DM OOC: Remember, outside of the area of Vaddarra's original Dispel Fog spell, your vision is only good for about 20'. So, though the map shows everything revealed, your characters can ONLY see what's going on within about 20'. If we were doing this over the server, I could set up vision and such so that each of you could see the map AS YOUR CHARACTERS CAN SEE; however, it's too hard to try and do this way. So, just keep that in mind.]

    Emyn picks up Hepla and carries her to safety before she gets them both killed.

    "5 to 2 odds is good," says Rakk, "but after this we should try to catch up to the rest."

    "Kill every zombie, and stay within my sight!" Thorgrim shouts to his elemental. He again attacks the zombie next to him, hitting it twice with Souldrinker. "Berenn! Rakk! Join us!"

    "Workin' on it!" yells Rakk.

    "We just need to kill the ones around us and then we will join you," calls Berenn.

    [Isilme OOC: when you need a couple XP to level, this is the place to go!]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Hoho don't start with the DM!]

    Noot stabs the zombie attacking Altan, driving his two daggers into its eyes and killing it!
    Ralph continues to bite at the downed zombie, and the earth elemental steps on its head, finishing it off. Thorgrim hits the one near him [11], while Altan turns and puts an arrow into the one attacking Vaddarra, who missed with her spear. Emyn carries Hepla outside, and she shouts at him to let her down. As he does, she unleashes a lightning bolt at the zombies fighting Rakk and Berenn. Her bolt streaks along their line, blasting all four of them to pieces. Rakk and Berenn finish the last one, then beat a hasty retreat. Followed by Isilme, who flies overhead and then kills the last zombie attacking Vaddarra, driving Maerthorlear down through his head!

    More move up from the south, while the two in the temple follow Emyn and Hepla out. One attacks Berenn, slashing him for [7], while one hits Hepla [10]. Thorgrim is missed.

    Hepla starts cast Levitate, but the zombie hits her [7] and she loses her spell. [DM OOC: I've explained Attacks of Opportunity lots of times, and it's also there in the books for you guys to read. The links are there! You've also experienced this many times; casting spells in melee provokes AoO. ]

    Emyn pulls Hepla back, and steps up, attacking the zombie. He drives his bastard sword through its belly [10], but it just tries to attack him now, oblivious to the damage. Rakk, still using his spetum [sorry, didn't change it as I don't think he had time] jabs it into the same zombie, stabbing between Emyn and Berenn. He hits it in the neck [15]. Berenn stabs out at it as well, hitting it with Bonefire [12] finishing it off! Berenn notices that Bonefire's flames don't seem to have any extra effect on them, because of their waterlogged nature. The zombie attacking Berenn falls down, and Berenn and Rakk finish it off! Thorgrim misses, but the earth elemental destroys the zombie by grabbing it and ripping it in half!

    Another zombie moves up, attacking Emyn and hitting him with a sword [14]. More approach from the south, and one more comes through the broken wall to the west. Most of the party is together now.
    [DM OOC: I've adjusted the map with some fog around, so your vision is again blocked somewhat. The Player Notes has your revealed map though, so you can still see where you've been, even if your characters can't actually see that far. Hopefully, this works better.]

    "Let's have a fighter or two in the front, to give Atlan some room to fire," says Rakk. "Have a couple of fighters for the rear for defense and let's start moving. Either that or find somewhere to disappear to for a while." In the meantime, Rakk tells Hepla, "The rear of the party is not the best location for a needed healer. Let me take your place, if you please."

    "He called me a healer," says Hepla, giggling! "What would mom say?"

    Rakk shrugs. "In my clan, the healers are called witches. Therefore witches are healers."

    Hepla calls back, "Thank You Rakk, for what you did and for what you said." Hepla, still giggling, runs up to Vaddarra and asks for a Cure Light Wounds spell. She says, "There things are not magical, that means they are true undead. Even grandma could not control them.

    Rakk just shakes his head. "I just don't understand small folk," he mutters in giantish. "You are welcome," he calls back to her.

    Hepla uses her staff, blasting the two nearly lined up zombies with a lightning bolt. Rakk and Emyn finish off the other one. They then all move over to the rest of the party and move further along the street. The main street starts to go downhill again here, slightly, but it is going back downhill. If you want to stick to higher ground, you will have to go to the left, between the wall and the building. The ground there actually rises slightly. Though out of sight of zombies, you hear distant moans getting closer....

    "Let's head uphill," says Emyn. "The drowned ones might not be so eager to leave the proximity of the fog and water, and it would potentially give us a better vantage point above any fog."

    The party moves off between the houses and the wall, keeping to higher ground. It's not MUCH higher, just a little. The earth elemental is in the rear still, shocklet leading the way with Vaddarra. Isilme's about 20' up in the air; you can barely see her in the fog. Another zombie follows you, and the earth elemental smashes it.

    Hepla looks at Emyn ands says, "That was brave of you saving me like that, and those strong arms of yours, just picking me up and whisking me away. When we get to a safe place let me thank you properly, my hero."

    Emyn also says to Hepla, "I hope I didn't anger you dear. I can be a touch forceful at times when it comes to protecting you, I know."

    A couple of moves, passing through the old allyways, sees you reach another old gatehouse, and another intersection. You've seen no zombies; you must have outpaced them after the earth elemental crushed the last one. They are somewhere behind you, though of course, you can't see with the fog.

    Thorgrim looks through the gates, and he sees another levy road, much like the one you entered. There is swamp to either side of it as it disappears back into the fog. Meanwhile, some healing is in order. Berenn uses his rod to heal everyone who needs it. This takes a few minutes. Meanwhile, Isilme flies off, just high enough to see, but not to be seen. She tries to follow dry routes, and finds the way to the hills.
    With no zombies around at the moment, I figured it was a good time to show the overall progress map, to get a good idea of the party's progress and the layout of the city so far. As you can see, by following the wall closely, you reach some cliffs. That's the way out of the flooded city. You can see where the roads to your right, towards the southeast, all head downhill towards flooded sections of city. There is no sign or sound of zombies anymore.

    "To the cliffs," says Thorgrim.

    "We should let everyone who needs it, catch their breath," pants Hepla, clearing tired herself.

    Noot climbs up the wall, right at the cliffs. He looks over and sees nothing but foggy swamp. Isilme will fly ahead, and then report back. She quickly reports back that the road follows the base of the cliffs, then turns and winds up them. There's another road going SE, but it quickly is flooded. There are more buildings to the right, but that area of the city becomes flooded as well.

    "Basically, you want to avoid going to far to the right," she says. "Also, on the way, there is a very large and impressive-looking building on the right. It has the look of an "official" building of some kind, maybe government or something."

    Soon as Noot comes back with his report of swamps up above, the party heads to the large building. The building is three stories, and there are arched windows high above. The look to have once been shuddered, but are now open to the elements. There is an inscription on the doors, large iron-bound doors which still stand and won't budge. They read "Halls of Learning." Using Berenn's Rope of Climbing and some spells, the party enters through the upper windows, with the Elemental standing guard in front of the doors where it can smash any zombies that appear.

    [DM OOC: Of course, this is too much for the party to pass up, even with a horde of zombies on their heels....]
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:28 am  

    Strange. I have posted about three updates in a row, but there's a weird debugging error message that comes up each time. The forum then doesn't show that I posted anything, though the posts are here. Anyway, I've put a few more up. :)
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:19 pm  
    Part 14 - Lessons Learned

    Following their harrowing run through the city of zombies, the party has entered the Halls of Learning through the upstairs windows.

    You are in an upstairs gallery, the second floor of this building. It seems to go all the way around the outside wall. There are many old doorways leading inside from here. You can peek inside them, as the doors themselves are half-rotted away. Dim light still glows beyond, seemingly from Continual Light spells which are losing their potency. The central area seems a single, large room with book and scroll racks. Many are decayed and falling apart, but some still stand. Upon them you see many scrolls, books, etc. A central area contains tables and chairs, though they too are all decaying from the effects of time. There are two stairways up and down, one each on the east and west side of the building.

    "Let's start to walk, carefully, and look into the rooms we pass," says Hepla. "We can stop if we see or sense something."

    "I suggest the Noot check the room for trap devices first," says Berenn. "If there is additional magic in the room, I doubt it would be left unguarded."

    "Let's have someone enter flying," says Emyn, "In case the floor is weak. Elrae probably would be the best choice so he can scout with his sword on magic detction mode."

    All the doors open into a central area of stacks. [Think of a small library.] The stairs are stone, built into the wall, so they are totally safe. The floors and walls are all white marble, and seem safe. The structure seems very sound, and there are no other entrances on the ground floor. Isilme didn't notice any secret/concealed doors. Just after entering, her Fly spell ended.

    Hepla casts Polymorph self, changing into a pixie. She flies downstairs, looking around. It is similar to the upstairs, but has more tables and such in it. It's hard to say what any particular area was. Think of the main lobby of a library, where you check things out, sit and read, etc. Plus maybe a couple of offices. There are also stairs down. The downstairs is dark.

    "Well, let's start with upstairs then," says Rakk. "Make sure there is nothing up here and work our way down. I don't like being attacked from behind if I can help it. Once we clear a floor, those who can read the works can check them out."

    "Agreed," says Thorgrim. "I will go with you. You shouldn't engage in much fighting in your wounded condition."

    Hepla flies through one of the large holes in one of the broken doors. She looks around the central room from there, but doesn't see anything in particular. The rest of the party is still out in the outer hall. Rakk can see both stairways. This hallway is about 50' long, with arched windows along the entire length. The stairs up and down are at each corner, so he can see both from the center. The hall turns each corner, going about 20' before ending. There are six doors along the inner wall which all open into the central stack area.

    Hepla rejoins the party, almost landing on Rakk's shoulder but worries that her added weight might be a problem for the old floors. She flies along with the party giggling that she might need to diet. She ordinarily weighs 80lbs but is probably only a few ounces now.

    [DM OOC: I think Elrae would shake his head and say something along the line of...."**** Fairies!"]

    Altan agrees to watch the stairs with his bow, while the party enters the central area. Meanwhile, Emyn breaks apart a door and then walks inside.

    "Please don't start reading manuscripts til we are sure we are alone on this level," says Rakk. "Once secured, we can look at one book at a time, so the rest of us can assist you if necessary."

    The central chamber is about 50' square...ish, maybe 10' high. The shelves go up about 8'. Hepla looks at the titles as Emyn picks up the books and or scrolls. If they have titles. The first scroll Emyn touches disintegrates on contact! The books do not have titles on the edges. There may be a few lying around on the floor where shelving has collapsed.

    Hepla says, "A little more carefully dear." It comes out as a high squeak but understandable. She then finds a book on the floor: Travels of Unnla Vidaera.
    It is large, maybe a foot and half square, and about two inches thick. The pages look very strong, and the book is closed with a clasp.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim moves into the central area too. He inspects every nook and cranny of the place searching for hidden enemies. He finds no apparent enemies. The place is a repository of books and scrolls. What they all contain is impossible to tell, and it will take some time to go through the whole place.

    "Just knock everything over," says Emyn. "If it survives, then it is probably magic."

    "'Tis unlikely there are any traps, here...though monsters may have taken residence," Thorgrim remarks. "Time to check out the upper level." Thorgrim goes up the stairs, pick at the ready.

    Noot and Isilme continue searching. Isilme will attempt to carefully collect any book/documents that survived. She will put the book on the floor in her pack unless it radiates magic. "The history and knowledge of the suloiuse culture is worth preserving," she says to herself, knowing the others aren't listening. "Even if it is not magical."

    Emyn replies doubtfully, "I suppose so. Especially if they have lots of nice pictures inside and stories about battle."

    "I agree," says Thorgrim. "My Portable Hole is at your disposal, for this purpose. I would see it filled with ancient texts, even if it meant discarding its current contents...though I doubt that many have survived. 'Tis a pitiful sight to see this great library fallen to ruin. I am beginning to think more of your idea to make camp in this building. It seems highly defensible, and would give us time to sift through these mouldering tomes. In the meantime, let us explore the building."

    "Then let's check the upper levels," says Rakk, following Thorgrim. "Once those are checked we can move down."

    [DM OOC: OK, Here's what's going on then. Thorgrim basically just took off to go look upstairs. Rakk followed him. Isilme is still carefully collecting the books downstairs, while Noot is examining the central room carefully. Hepla decides to go follow the others upstairs, and Emyn follows her, as usual. Berenn and Vaddarra follow them, calling out to Isilme and Noot. Altan moves up as well, leaving his watch post in the outer hall. If Isilme and Noot go too, they can follow; they will be last.]

    The stairs go up to another hallway, similar to the one on the second floor. The difference is that it does no have outer windows. There are doors to the interior, just as below, but they are not rotted away. The doors upstairs are all locked. Noot comes upstairs and searches for traps, finding nothing.

    Elrae will stay downstairs too, looking for music sheets. When Isilme sees the rest of the party heading upstairs, she sighs and follows them. When she rejoins them, she casts Invsibility upon herself. Not wanting to be left alone in this place, Elrae hurriedly follows her. "I am one to tow the company line, besides you all need me." He grins as he goes upstairs. "I can always come back to find some Sueloise sheet music later, but for me that's worth more than gold."

    "Noot," says Thorgrim, "pick this lock, if you please. Prepare to see some ghosts. I doubt anything else would dwell here."

    Noot picks the lock where Thorgrim stands, and opens the door. The interior is similar to the downstairs, though the area of books and scrolls is smaller.

    "This upper chamber may be their special collection," Thorgrim says.

    "I'll take a look," says Isilme, who flies invisibily into the chamber.

    A few moments later, Hepla hears Isilme casting a spell. She flies back to see if Isilme is in trouble, zipping passed Emyn who also rushes after her. This leaves everyone else out in the hallway for now.

    Isilme stops Emyn in his tracks and pushes him out telling the party "Stay back! This room has some sort of magic trap."

    "What happened?" says Emyn, pushing futilely against the invisible Isilme [she has gauntlets of ogre strength!]. "Where's Hepla?"

    "Quit struggling against me, and maybe I will have time to find out!" Isilme snaps.

    Emyn tries to push passed the invisible Isilme, who is "momentarily" held up holding him back. "Let me go!" he cries, fear edging into his voice.

    Isilme let's him go. "Fool" she mutters. "Do as you all will."

    Emyn rushes into the room where Hepla is saying, "My oath and my love mean nothing if I will not risk everything for her."

    [img] [/img]
    Quick map of the Hall of Learning.

    Emyn runs in, shouting for Hepla. Then suddenly nobody hears anything. No shout, nor even the loud sound of his running footsteps! All they hear is Isilme casting a spell. They they hear Isilme's voice from within the room, speaking Suloise which nobody else understands. They then hear another voice, speaking in a toneless voice, responding to Isilme. Again, it is speaking Suloise, so nobody understands it.

    "She's not talking to a trap," Thorgrim says. "Come, let us enter together, lest we become possessed one person at a time."

    As they walk into the library proper, Thorgrim first followed by Vaddarra, they hear Isilme's voice from directly ahead and above. She is again speaking in suloise, which neither of them understand.

    "Isilme! What's going on?" calls Thorgrim.

    He hears the other voice speaking, coming from the far side of the chamber. Again, he cannot tell what it says, though that last part you understand fine. Evil, crackling laughter.

    "TO ARMS!" Thorgrim shouts as loud as he can. He flips his eyepatch so everyone can see better, then approaches the side of the room where he heard the voice. Berenn draws bonfire in one hand and his holy symbol in the other and goes to investigate the laughter. Vaddara casts Pro from evil, so doesn't come in immediately. However, Berenn will enter. Altan staying outside for now.

    "No!!!" cries Isilme, as the others enter. They see a skeletal figure in flowing robes, it's eyes burning with malevolent light, sitting at a table with an open book before it.

    Thorgrim charges at it, but it just disintegrates him with an lazy wave of its hand.

    "That's three," says Isilme, "but no more. Everyone to my aide, a Lich has taken Emyn, Hepla, and Thorgrim!"

    Elrae and Rakk make it upstairs just as Vaddara is finishing her spell. Noot is quietly slipping through a doorway at the far side of the hallway, while Altan and Berenn stand immobile, arrows knocked and ready, but unsure. Not sure there's anything she can really do, Isilme snaps off a shot with her Wand of Wonder.

    The rest of the party hears a strange plopping sound, and then a very loud series of crashes, followed by a terrible crash from the floor below. You hear strained groaning from the building supports, followed quickly by the sounds of beams cracking, stones breaking, etc. Vaddara can see inside that it seems the 3rd floor is beginning a total collapse to the floor below!

    Rakk and Elrae quickly go back to the stairs. They are stone, built right into the exterior walls. Vaddara casts Feather Fall, while Noot and Berenn back off as well. The entire 3rd floor then collapses in a massive heap of rubble and dust. Everything drops to the the 2nd floor, taking it with as well, and bring the entire interior down to the ground level. Vaddara, Altan, Noot, and Berenn all settle down softly, landing awkwardly on a pile of rubble. The sound is deafening, and a huge cloud of dust billows up, blinding everyone.

    Berenn pulls his cloak tight, going invisible, and after a few minutes, the dust subsides. Soon everyone is down on the ground level. You see that the ground level has collapsed too and fallen into a basement level. However, the pile of rubble and debris still rises a few feet above the original level of the floor. It's a big tangled mess, and you see no sign of the lich.

    Elrae uses Snowfang to detect magic, searching for buried party members. He cannot sense anything except those standing around, and everyone is accounted for except for Hepla, Emyn, and Thorgrim. Frantically, everyone starts to dig them out.

    "It's no use," says Isilme. "The lich took them."

    "WTH brought the house down?" asks Altan.

    [DM OOC: The wand of wonder opened a hole under the lich, which the DM decided would collapse the INNER floors.]

    [Vaddara OOC: Remind me to pay noot to steal that wand of wonder soon after this lich is disposed of.]

    [DM OOC: A lot of PMs were used to handle this, and luckily, I have those which passed between Isilme and myself. Here's the summary:


    Isilme hasn't been throughout the inner chamber. In fact, you've barely been a few feet into it. You started with your Detect Magic, and could sense the magic of the continual light spells. You could also detect stronger magic in the rear [the area of the map where the tables are]. However, before you could go investigate, Hepla flew into the room in her pixie form, over your head, over the shelves, and into the center of the room. There was a magical burst of energy, then nothing. Isilme held Emyn back, then gave up and let him go. While you cast your Planar Vision, he ran to the right, then as he turned and looked down the center of the room there was another magical flash and he was just gone.

    Isilme levitated to the ceiling so she can look down the row of books to the center. She manuevers using the ceiling if she needs a better angle. You see a skeletal figure, sitting at a large chair behind a table, with an open book lying before it, as if it were reading it. The book radiates strong magic.

    The thing looks in your direction, it's eyes burning red with fiery intensity. It turns its head from side to side, as if searching for this interloper to its domain. It doesn't immediately say anything though.

    She speaks to it in Suloise. "I ask forgiveness for the intrusion. Release my friends and we will leave your domain immediately."

    "Your friends are gone," it says in toneless, dead voice. "Leave me be lest you share their fate."

    "It was never our wish to disturb you, only to preserve knowledge," she replies. "Where are they?"

    "I shall send you to the same place I sent your companions," it says. "To hell!" It then cackles, an eerie skeletal sound that gives you shivers.

    "As you wish," says Isilme. "I walk the planes without fear."

    At this point Isilme hears Vaddara chanting a spell out in the hall, as Thorgrim rushes towards the lich. The thing waves a hand his way and Thorgrim just disappears! Like Emyn and Hepla before him, his is simply gone.

    Isilme takes her Wand of Wonder out of her pouch, points it, and activates its unpredictable magic. A large hole opens up directly beneath it, dropping the lich, and everything around it, to the next floor. However, due to the structural integrity issues of the place, the ENTIRE floor of each level begins to collapse in. The 2nd floor collapses nearly completely, beginning to bring the 3rd floor down as well! She quickly loses sight of the falling lich, as a cloud of dust billow up from the collapsing floor.

    You look away as the dust cloud billows up in your face, just quickly enough to see Vaddara casting a spell. The floor and interior walls totally give out and collapse in a tremendous crash. The last thing you see is Vaddara and Altan, slowly floating down under the effects of Vaddara's Feather Fall. You remain in place, floating at the ceiling of the once-library, completely blinded by the dust cloud that has billowed up and filled the space.]

    While Rakk and Berenn work at clearing rubble, Isilme casts Locate Object, searching for the Ring of Water Walking she gave Thorgrim. She finds no trace of the ring.

    "I can not locate Thorgrim," she says. "The lich said he sent them all to hell. I find such power unlikely. I can spend two hours attempting a scry spell if you wish."

    Rakk pulls aside a big broken bookcase, and finds a skeletal arm. The hand grasps at the air still. Rakk makes short work of the debis, and you unearth the rest of the skeleton. It is broken in half, but red light still shines in its eyes. Berenn rams Bonfire through the lich's skull. "That should take care of it!" he says. Sure enough, the light in the eyes goes out.

    While the party tries vainly to find the others in the debris, Isilme sifts carefullt through the rubble for the book she saw the lich reading. After about a half hour, Isilme finds it. She puts it away without looking at it, just as Hepla flies into the building from the above windows! She explains that the "lich" somehow sent her miles away. Because she can fly she got back but has no idea where the others are. She wonders if this might be a time to use her crystal ball.

    [DM OOC: And here is Hepla's private message story:


    You fly into the chamber, looking for Isilme. You go up high, and in the center there is a square area with tables and such. There is a skeletal creature sitting there, an open book upon the table before it. The creature's eyes blaze with a fierce light, as it looks right at you.

    Suddenly, there is a shimmering around you and all is bright as you appear back in the swamp somewhere. You are flying about 30' in the air, in the trees of the swamp. Where you are in relation to the city is unknown. It is foggy still, and you can only see about 20'.
    Hepla lands on a strong branch and morphs into a black dragon. Should not be too many goody types around to shoot me on sight, she thinks. Then she takes off and flies up in a circular pattern until she gets to clear air and can see the sun.

    Hepla will find a branch and land. Then she will change form. Then she can start to fly up. So, it'll take a few rounds before we really get back to her. When she does come up, all she sees is a solid blanket of fog nearly as far as she can see. There are hills in one direction. It's getting close to noon, and it's a very overcast day in the first place. Plus, she doesn't have direction sense, so she really doesn't know where she is.

    She flies towards the nearest hills. She reaches them after a few minutes of flying. The hills are all covered in jungle as well. From them she looks out at a vast sea of fog. There are multiple "ranges" of hills thrusting up through the fog; you know how they tend to run in lines. They stretch to her right and left. She doesn't see any distinguishing features. In this jungle, there haven't been any. She takes off to the right, following the line of hills and keeping the lower jungle to her right. It doesn't take long before she reaches the city near the base of the cliffs, and from there it's an easy matter to find the library again.]

    "Hepla," asks Elrae, "were you near any dangerous area? Out over the water? Seeing where the others are may be important to be done quickly or it may not matter. If Emyn is in the lake, I doubt he'll float long."

    "It sounds like it was a guardian of sorts," says Isilme. "It gated out intruders somehow, perhaps the others will rejoin slowly; since they have to walk."

    "I was in the swamp," says Hepla. "I flew up and could only see hilltops. I worked my way back from there." When nothing is found she opens her back pack, takes out her crystal ball, unwraps it and concentrates on Emyn first. She looks for how he is and any cues to where he is. She quickly sees Emyn. He is standing with his back against a wall. His left arm hangs limply, and he holds his bastard sword in his right hand. He looks around anxiously, then turns and runs off. He goes around a building, and finds himself surrounded by drowned ones, coming towards him from all directions....

    Meanwhile, Isilme scries Thorgrim. He is in part of the ruined city, but not in fog. Rather is standing near a large fallen obelisk. She watches his for a few minutes, before he begins walking off through part of the ruined city.

    [DM OOC: Yeah, the party figured out it was a Crypt Thing, though I used it as an undead librarian sort instead. It seemed to fit. Plus, I was hoping to make them pay for their curiosity, stopping mid-flight to go check out the library. Actually, the results are not quite in yet, so I may have indeed succeeded.....]

    The party pulls spells to get everyone able to fly, then splits up to try and simultaneously rescue both Emyn and Thorgrim. Isilme and Elrae go back to work searching the library and remaining behind in case they show up there. Altan and Noot also remain behind, since the party has no further spells to make them fly.

    Hepla and Rakk fly back to the gates where they entered the city. The odd zombie is still walking around, but they notice that all the bodies are gone. Also, the fog is beginning to lift. Visibility is now 30'. Hepla and Rakk continue forward; Hepla has her light and Rakk is calling Emyn's name. Hepla moves up to the 40' height and helps Rakk do the same. Now the area we can search is bigger, we fly the same pattern.

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Vaddara fly up through the window, then fly northwest where they quickly run into the cliffs. However, flying up and over them takes up out of the fog. The cliffs are a few hundred feet high, and the fog only goes about halfway up. From the top, they see the upper part of the ruined city. It is in much better shape, though it is even more overgrown with trees and such, since it's not a deep swamp like down below. They see lots of buildings and such, poking up through ruins and whatnot. There are two rivers cutting through the upper city, pouring off the cliffs in large waterfalls that disappear into the fog below. They see no sign of Thorgrim.
    Map of the upper city that Berenn and Vaddara can see.

    As Berenn and Vaddara fly along, watching the buildings below, they see two other human shadows moving swiftly up behind their shadows! [Remember, it's about noon now.] Berenn turns around, and screaming down from above are two large eagle-deer things!

    They resembles a giant, dark green eagle, except that their heads are that of a blue-black stag, its horns glitter as ebon as obsidian, its eyes glow a dull red-orange. The chest feathers are light blue.

    Vaddara is slammed by one of the creatures [22] as she tries to cast Ice Storm. Her spell is foiled and she is driven down 10'. They were flying at 25', so the two of them are now at 15'. Berenn avoids the one attacking him. He draws Bonefire and strikes back, hitting [12]. The creatures lets out a hideous shrieking cry!

    Vaddara is hit again [11], the thing digging in with its claws, butting her with horns, and biting her. Again, her spell is foiled. Berenn and the other beast continue to battle, neither seeming to hit the other.

    The peryton's continue, making big sweeping turns, while Vaddara casts Mirror Image. The peryton's have completed their turns, and they continue back towards you. Vaddara is surprised suddenly by one zipping in from behind, blasting right through one of her mirror images! It continues off the other direction, and while she are momentarily distracted, the other one flies in on her. It barely misses, and Vaddara quickly drops right down to ground level and slips inside the old building there. It looks an old home. Inside, she takes out her pack, retrieving her Potion of ex-healing. [drink it next round]

    Berenn is also attacked from behind, and slammed by another Peryton [18]. As he is knocked forwards, the other one swoops in on him, screeching loudly, but it misses. Berenn takes a swing at it as it flies by, missing. Then both are off, going in opposite directions.

    Vaddara drinks her potion, healing [13]. The Perytons all circle around, and one swoops in on Berenn from his blind side, hitting him [9]. Berenn's spell is ruined. [DM OOC: Man, you guys suck at Concentration!] He sees no flat-topped roofs. He looks down and sees that Vaddara has entered a small building below him.

    Vaddara floats over to the door and casts a Snilloc's Snowball, throwing them at the first Peryton he sees as it dives towards the doorway. They all hit it [12], and the Peryton continues into the building, crashing into the floor. Berenn steps up and stabs it with Bonefire, igniting its feathers and finishing it off! As he pulls Bonefire out, they hear the screech of the others as they fly over the building. You have lost sight of them now.

    Vaddara goes out the window and flies up along the tree trunk. She gets to the top, where she can see clearly. She's about 75' high, and she sees both Perytons, about 25' above her, diving right at her! She also sees Thorgrim, fighting another peryton between some buildings nearby.

    Vaddara calls down to Berenn "I see Thorgrim" "He's being attacked by those infernal birds" We need to go aid him then pick out a camp site in the upper city. Vaddara flys off at top speed (18) flying very erratically - zooming up then sharp cut left then arch back right. Anyone watching thinks she's gone insane but she isnt getting dive bombed by a peryton on the way to help Thorgrim. She also prepares the ice knife.

    The perytons act first! Two dive down at Vaddara, and BOTH hit her! The first Peryton hit a mirror image, so that one is gone. The second one hit Vaddara, so she only took one hit for [28]. She still has 11 hit points left.

    Meanwhile, the Peryton shifts to the side, trying to line up Thorgrim and possibly drive him off the cliff, but it misses. Thorgrim, then shifts to his right as he hits it again [10]. He can pick up Souldrinker next round. Thorgrim also hears Berenn yell, "Vaddara!" from up to the north, on the other side of the houses that way. He glances that way and sees Vaddara and the two Perytons up at the top of the dead tree.

    Vaddara has taken off at top speed, moving towards Thorgrim. She also did not drop her spear! Berenn takes off flying up and following.

    Vaddara is at 50', as is Berenn. Thorgrim and the peryton are on the ground. The other two perytons are behind Vaddara and Berenn, and they've lost track of them.

    Vaddara and Berenn dive down at the peryton on the ground, and with Thorgrim they all hit the peryton, slaying it. The other two have circled around and are about 150' high now.

    "Berenn! Vaddarra! We are well-met!" Thorgrim says with a smile. "We have to find a way to slay or avoid these fell beasts."

    The Perytons make mad, screeching dives at Vaddara and Berenn. Berenn is gored hard [26]. He is knocked back to the ground, landing flat on his back, before he can even begin his spell. Another of Vaddara's mirror images is hit (she has only one left). That Peryton slams hard into the ground, stunning itself!

    Vaddara casts her spell, curing [14]. While Thorgrim calls upon the gods, creating a Holy Orb. The mithril-looking sphere forms around all the combatants, and the perytons snort in pain, taking [15] and [19]. Berenn and Vaddara barely feel the bite of the dwarven gods' might, taking [3] and [1], respectively.

    Vaddara drives her spear into the stunned peryton [8], while Berenn hits the other with Bonefire [12]. The peryton's attack, but they both miss. Thorgrim steps up and drives Souldrinker through the head of the stunned peryton, killing it. Berenn then hits the last one again, killing it as well. Its feathers burn like the others, under the power of Bonefire. You look around, and see that there are no more perytons up here. Together, they then make their way back to the library.

    [DM OOC: Here is Thorgrim's story:

    Thorgrim's Trek

    Suddenly, the room shimmers around him. He is momentarily disoriented, as his surroundings change. He is falling through foggy air, seeing the water rise up fast beneath him. He lands with a splash, quickly sinking under water. However, due to his ring, he is able to just as quickly bob back to the surface, breaking free of the water so fast he almost doesn't get wet! He is standing atop a body of water, but with the thick fog he can only see about 20' in any direction. There is no telling which direction is which.

    He heads off across the water, walking for about 5 minutes. It's eerie, walking through the dense fog atop the water, knowing that beneath it are likely thousands of the walking dead. He tries to push the thoughts away, and continues forward. Eventually, he hears the sound of water slapping rocks, and then finds himself at the base of steep rock cliffs, stretching to the right and left and disappearing into the fog above.

    He moves along the cliffs until he finds a large jumbled area of rubble. From the looks of it, they are city walls. This part of the cliff must have collapsed into the lake, and there must be city above. As he goes through the rubble, a zombie rises before him. He smashes it, sending it toppling down into the water below.

    Thorgrim takes out his Portable Hole, putting everything into it except his potions utility belt, pick, and dagger. He quickly loads his backpack will hold mountain-climbing gear, in addition to hammer and iron spikes, and keeps the spidersilk rope and grappling hook as well. He is fully aware they may come in handy to secure him as he makes a difficult move, or to enable passage around an area that would be impassable otherwise. He then tucks his portable hole back into his boot, as two zombies come out of the water, trying to climb up towards him. They have a hard time of it, and he is able to scramble up the cliff a bit, beginning the long climb up.

    Thorgrim's climb is long and hard. It will take him about 30 minutes to get to the top. About halfway there, he comes out of the fog. He sees nothing but a blanket of white as far as he can see. Above is a ledge, and he stops there, catching his breath. He then walks the ledge for a bit, until before him he sees a large column sticking out of the cliff face. When he gets closer, he sees that it looks like part of a temple is turned sideways and sticking out of the cliff. There is a large opening amidst the ruin, which opens to a dark cavern. He notes it, then continues his climb.

    Thorgrim makes it to the top of the cliffs. The area is relatively dry, and it is totally covered with forest growth. There are many traces of ruined buildings and such here, and the ground is all strangely broken up. Large areas pools of water dot the area. He doesn't exactly understand it, but it seems that the ground has shifted quite a bit here, with parts rising and other parts sinking, utterly destroying this section of the city.

    He can see back across the cliffs. Far along the cliffs, a few thousand feet away it seems, are a couple of waterfalls. Between them he can see more city, as the cliffs turn to the left like a big horseshoe. That would mean he's on the opposite side of this arm of the lake from where the library was located.

    Thorgrim continues along the cliff, staying as close to the edge as possible, without compromising his safety. He moves along south of a substantially large building which looks like a temple of some kind. Just passed it (area 4 on this map!) he comes across a tremendous obelisk, which lies beside its broken pedestal base. Strange spidery runes cover its surface.

    Thorgrim takes note of the interesting obelisk and moves on. He'll go around the two buildings that block his path and return to the cliff edge as he continues his journey. Four arrows fire at him from a building across the way. None hit him. He sees orcs inside!

    Thorgrim casts Battle Cry, and the orcs are thrown back on their heels, both stunned. He charges the right window and looks inside. There are two stunned orcs lying on the ground shaking their heads. Thorgrim sheathes his pick and climbs through the window. He grabs the stunned orcs, one in each hand, then kicks in whatever door he sees and attempts to make it to the other room through the inside of the building. One orc is held in front of him like a body-shield, the other trails behind on the floor.

    There are no doors, but he moves into the next room. There he finds 4 orcs. They are all armed, two moving into each of the two wings where the archers were located. So, he just about runs into two of them; the other two are about 20' to the left. This building looks to have been a barracks, and the entire central area is one large chamber. Most the furniture and such is all nearly completely rotted away, but you can clearly see that there were a lot of beds.

    Thorgrim shoves the orcs with his body-shield orc as hard as he can. He knocks the two backwards, as e then breaks the neck of the orc he's trailing behind. The orcs stand for a moment, stunned by the appearance of the strange dwarf, when Thorgrim grabs his pick and wades into them. The other orcs come running over, and he starts a ferocious, whirling battle, smiling the whole time.

    Thorgrim finishes off the orcs here, and moves to the other room just as the orcs area getting up. He drives his pick through the face of the first one, slamming it to the ground. The last orc immediately surrenders.

    Thorgrim cuts a 10-foot length from his spidersilk rope and binds its arms behind him. "What are you doing here?" he demands, in Orcish.

    "Don't know," he says. "Have something to do with elf witch. Mongo only pawn, in game of life."

    "How many others are defending this area?" asks Thorgrim. "Where are your brethren?"

    "Below," he says. "Blackthorn telled us to stay here, we stayed here." The orc is clearly scared to death, and not necessarily by Thorgrim. You also notice that he seems to be starving.

    "Below where? In the Lower City? Or in that cavern that opens to the cliff?" He thinks he already knows the answer.

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole, retrieves the potions and scrolls and weapons that are sitting atop the top chest, and leads the orc inside. He helps him about halfway down the ladder and then pushes him into the pile of rope at the bottom. He takes a crossbow and quarrels and puts them atop the top chest, leaning on the side of the hole so as to make them accessible from the top.

    "You're going for a little ride. Do not be concerned with the lack of air. If you do everything as I command, you will live. Disturb anything inside, and I will slay you as surely as I slew your companions."

    The orcs stares around him, clearly not understanding the place. He looks up at Thorgrim with resignation. Thorgrim wonders if he sees relief in the orc's eyes.

    Thorgrim retrieves the dead orcs and tosses them in the Hole, more or less not on top of the live one. He asks the orc, "Are there any traps nearby, or between here and the Lower City, that I should know about? Your life may depend on it."

    It shakes his head.

    He waits for the answer, then takes a stone from his pocket and casts Silence, 15-foot radius on it. He then closes the Hole and exits the...north? no, the "top" side of the building, opposite the wings.

    He picks up a pebble and casts Silence 15' r upon it, to allow him to move away from any other potential adversaries. In total silence, eyes scanning every direction, he runs off down the street, heading to the left. He figures, he'll eventually loop back around to his friends that way.

    After a few minutes of running, he comes across a stone bridge spanning a swiftly flowing river. Shortly after the bridge, the river tumbles off the cliffs in a mighty roaring waterfall. Thorgrim looks around for a bit, making sure the area is clear, before throwing his pebble into the river. He wants to be able to hear, in case the bridge begins to collapse. "Been here a thousand years, though," he says to himself. "Isn't like to fall now."

    He then runs across the bridge. He ends up in a clearly residential district, and even these buildings are all stone, with stone roofs. The craftsmanship is clearly dwarven, or at least heavily influenced by his folk. He stays to the main road, and continues to follow it around to the left, back towards the cliff and eventually, so he hopes, back to the library.

    Thorgrim rolls left, away from the cliff, scrambling to his feet, and drawing battleaxe.

    "Come get some!" he yells. "Bring your poochy face right here!"

    As Thorgrim comes to his feet, the peryton butts him in the face [10]!

    The two combatants launch themselves at each other. Thorgrim is immediately gored by the peryton again [9]. He then strikes back with Slasher, hacking the peryton for [7].

    "Die, demon-scum!" Thorgrim shouts, as he lashes out again with his axe. He attempts to maneuver around closer to his weapon of choice. And he would prefer having that building at his back, rather than the cliff face. Thorgrim's main priority is staying away from the cliff edge, however. ]


    Rakk and Hepla continue, skirting another flooded area. These fingers don't look terribly deep, though the ground does tend to get lower as you go towards the lake. Just want you to know, they aren't steep dropoffs. Just showing the extend of the flooded streets and buildings. You along, and don't notice any more undead. However, after you start to call out Emyn's name, a few start to appear.

    [DM OOC: I'm skipping all the maps I posted to them, as they moved about the city. No sense going through them all. I'm ignoring building descriptions, since they aren't really checking any out. Plus, I honestly don't know what most are, until I need to check them out. They also notice a few more zombies, probably drawn by their shouting.]

    You continue on until you reach a point where the area is flooded completely. Event the wall has disappeared into the water by now. There are some other areas which are not flooded which you could check, but you'll have to fly back to them individually, basically following the waterline the whole way.

    Hepla and Rakk move back along their route, flying above the edge of the water. They are now above a little promontory of dry land, about 4 zombies are below them, sort of appearing and trying to follow them. To their right, just on the edge of the fog, they see some more dry land and the hint of a building beyond it. Hepla and Rakk fly out over the water, towards that bit of land they saw. It turns out to be little more than an isolated building and a slight rise. It is partly flooded and collapsed too. They see no further evidence of land as far as they can see (which is about 50' now as the fog is lessening].

    Rakk and Hepla are about to move on, when suddenly the zombies around them stop. They turn and look back to the water, then they quickly move under the water and leave, hastily.

    "Got a nasty feeling about this," says Rakk. "Since they looked out at the water, it is likely our big water critter we weren't gonna disturb. Not good."

    "A quick look then we get out," says Hepla. "I agree that something has scared of the zombies, I hope it was a spell cast by Emyn or Thorgrim."

    "If Emyn is out that way, he has no breath to spare for spell-casting."

    Hepla looks into the building. It was about a 5 story building, but half of it is collapsed. There's no telling what it may have been, but she sees nothing within. Then a large wave washes up against the building, coming from the "north" of the map (which is actually East!). Since there are virtually no waves on this lake, something clearly caused it.

    Hepla calls out, "Emyn...Thorgrim, its Hepla." She waits for an answer but not long. "Rakk, what is happening outside?" She looks to see if there are other ways out of the building. You then hear a loud crashing sound from off through the fog, not that far away to the NE.

    Rakk and Hepla fly back the other way, where continuing along they find more dry land.
    Here's a map update of their search.

    Large waves are lapping up from further out, especially to the top-left. You hear more crashing sounds too. They fly up to the left, and here's what they see:

    It's a huge (like rising 10' out of the water huge) a huge blood red octopus. It has Emyn's limp body in one its tentacles, and is holding him aloft. There is a large hole in the thing's head, above its eyes. It almost looks like something should be there, like something was removed from it. The thing looks up over at you, turning in your direction and holding Emyn up before it.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:29 am  
    Part 15 - The Whisperer of Secrets

    [DM OOC: The party has mostly reunitied, and Hepla and Rakk have found Emyn. Unfortunately, he is in the clutches of Pyaray.....]

    "Hope you can talk to it," says Rakk.

    "The Whisperer of Secrets talks to any I choose," says a voice in their heads.

    Hepla thinks, "Whisperer, you hold my beloved fiancée, if you have saved him from the drowned ones I thank you. May I have him back please. Is there some way to repay you for the service?" She does not get too close but is also trying to come up with some way to save Emyn.

    "This poor wretch?" it answers in your minds. You think you hear a mocking laughter. "He is gone."

    "As gone as your gem?" asks Rakk.

    You feel the anger in the creature, blasting out in waves that crash into your wills. You actually sag in the air a moment before they pass.

    "Then as you morn the loss of you gem, and I will morn the loss of my fiancée," says Hepla, speaking now. "I beg you, let me have his body."

    The thing is silent for a long while, before it finally answers. "Return my gem to me, that I may leave this accursed world, and I shall return your friend. Otherwise, he shall join the drowned ones forever."

    Hepla flies closer to the thing, headed for Emyn's body. "Where was this gem when you last saw it?"

    "Taken!" it mentally screams. You feel even more intense anger.

    "Remember the pictures?" says Rakk. "Some really powerful mage took it."

    "Galap-Dreidel!" it cries. "Deceiver!"

    "Who is this Galap-Dreudek and how long ago did he take it?" asks Hepla, moving closer to Emyn's body.

    "A really long time ago," answers Rakk, remembering the story. He then addresses Pyaray. "So, Mighty One. Where does the gem lie now?"

    "If you want your friend," Pyaray responds, "you shall find it." He waves Emyn before them. "He hovers between death and undeath. With the Soul Gem, I can return him sound. Without the Soul Gem I cannot control the Drowned Ones. Should I let him go, he shall be one of them, forever, and when I am one day freed, as must eventually happen, he shall serve me in the Chaos Fleet, on the Seas of Eternity."

    "With all the power at your command and you don't know where the wizard or your gem have gone?" questions Rakk. "Not even a clue? Surely you have some idea where we should start? Or do you merely wish us to fail?"

    "It sounds as if he will never be truly free of you," adds Hepla, anger and grief welling up within her. "That is what we seek. For us to find and restore your gem we must have our, including his, freedoms."

    "Without my Soul Gem," it thinks, "I cannot control the Drowned Ones, and your friend is lost forever. Return my Soul Gem, and I can, and will, return him to you, sound. This I shall do before I return to the Sea of Eternity. The Flan wizard, Galap-Dreidel, took the gem, before the Suel came to this place." He spits the name "Suel" and you can tell He feels a hatred for them as well. "They said he built a great tower across the sea, raised in a single day by the power of the Soul Gem. I cannot leave this place, but you can. Go. Retrieve my Soul Gem, and you shall have your companion back."

    "What guarantee do you offer?" asks Hepla. "Give him back to us now; we will need his help to get your gem. I will surrender my staff to you as a token of my good intent." Hepla reaches out to touch Emyn.

    Pyaray's tentacles extend out to Rakk, handing him Emyn's body. As Rakk takes him, Emyn's eyes open.

    "I have extended to him the breath of life, though it shall last for but a year" thinks Pyaray. "If you have not returned to me my Soul Gem by that time, he will join the Chaos Fleet forever."

    It then fades back into the water, disappearing from view. "One year," it thinks again.

    Emyn gasps in new breath and sits upright, clearly out of sorts. "What just happened?"

    "Emyn, you are back!" cries Hepla. "I thought I lost you. Don't ever go running off by yourself again." She wraps her arms around him and cries as Rakk looks on.

    He is quite unsettled by the water around them. "Now, lets find Thorgrim before our spells wear off," he says.

    "Where did all the drowned ones go?" asks Emyn. "Surely they will return if we do not get out of here. My sword and shield?"

    Hepla looks for his sword and shield while saying, "Long story. You got lost and attacked , we searched for you and got here just after a giant squid god thingie found you, more later. Its so good to have you back, I hate it when you almost die." She turns to Rakk. "Rakk, lets take Emyn back to the library, and then I will continue the search for Thorgrim. Maybe he is back there already or Isilme may have found something...giggle... thank you for your help. It's so good to have him back. Wait, if you want to come with me to help search that would be super great, but your choice." With that motormouth monologue she flies back to the library, after finding the sword and shield. "Where did you last have it?"

    Hepla finds Emyn's shield inside the jail where he had taken refuge. She quickly takes it, then hurries back. She finds Rakk carrying Emyn back towards the other side of town. Rakk, Hepla, and Emyn make it back. By the time you reach the library, the fog has mostly lifted. The sun is starting to break through here and there, and visibility is pretty much back. Vaddara, Berenn, and Thorgrim will also return. All fly spells will then be over.


    [DM OOC: Here is Emyn's story. I guess I can share this, now that Emyn is found.]
    Emyn's flight!

    Emyn rushes into the room. He sees the rows of bookshelves, and runs down to the right, looking down them for Hepla. In the center of the room he sees some tables, and seated at one is a robed figure. It's eyes glow red as it looks right at you. Suddenly there is a shimmering around you and the room disappears. Or actually, you disappear, reappearing in a totally different place.

    You stand in a plain room, about 10' square. It is 30' high, and you see openings up above. This looks like it was a stairway, all rotted and collapsed. You stand atop rotted wooden remains, probably from the collapsed stairs. The outer walls are stone, and intact, while the inner wall is half-collapsed, though it's large beams are still standing with some wood paneling intact. An empty doorway leads into the darkness. Shafts of light dimly penetrate the building, from rotted windows and holes in the walls and ceilings. Looking through the doorway, you see what seems a long hallway, with doors on the left and right.

    Emyn calls out, but hears nothing. Emyn then says, "this isn't real," blinks his eyes a few times, and yet everything remains the same. He seems to definitely be someplace else. He finds a piece of wood from the stairs, maybe 6' long. He starts to go down the hallway, tapping the floor ahead of him, but the wood breaks pretty quickly. It just isn't strong enough. When he reaches the first doorway, he can look inside. It's a small room, about 10' square. Inside are the remains of a bed and dresser. There's an open window through which a shaft of dim light enters. Emyn moves over to the window and looks out. There's another ruined building there, about 10' away. You're actually looking at the corner of it, and around the corner you see flooded ground. Coming out of the water is another of the zombies!

    Emyn moves back into the dark hallway, faintly lit by shafts of light coming through windows in the side rooms. When you move back into the hallway, there is a zombie at the far end, looking around. It sees you when you enter, snarls, and moves towards you.

    Sword and shield out, Emyn attacks the thing as it approaches. He hits it [8] and the zombie bashes him with a club in his shield arm, breaking it at the shoulder [26: Ouch, bad time for a critical!]

    Emyn hits the zombie back [12], and knocks away it's club. It reaches out, clawing at him with its bare hands, but he avoids it, hitting again [10]. It's pretty well hacked up. You hear the one from outside, trying to come in through the window in the room behind you.

    Emyn finishes the zombie, then rushes outside. He sees the zombie coming down an ally from the right, and runs the other way, attempting to keep the water to his right and make his way back to his friends. He goes about 20' before he runs into more water ahead of him, and coming out of the water is another zombie. He stands in a clearing between three buildings, and the clear and dry way seems to be to his left, down an old alley.

    Emyn runs to the left, and finds himself with another choice. There's another building ahead of him and two ways to go, right and left. He turns left, and runs between the buildings, the two zombies following slowly after him. He quickly runs into more water, though it doesn't seem deep and he can see dry ground beyond it. There is also a stretch of dry ground to his right and left, between the water and the buildings. He is not liking this!

    He goes left, and finds that he has run in a complete circle, or nearly so. He is back where the first zombie emerged from the water, and he sees another doing so as well. He can hear the two behind him, as well as low moans of others nearby, in all directions.

    Emyn goes back and sloshes across the water to what he thinks is the northeast, finding it only a couple of feet deep at the center. He crosses and runs around the building on the opposite side. The ground then starts to go down, and he sees more water this way, much more. Two zombies are coming out of it, about 20' away. Just their chests are out of the water, so he can see it's deeper that way. Behind him the three zombies have him cut off.

    Emyn is surprised by the speed of the zombies in the water. Before he can act, they swarm around him, moving faster than he himself. They all attack but miss, Emyn ducking a blow to the head which cleaves off the head of another zombie! He pushes his way through them, trying to just get away. He avoids their blows, running off to his right. There is a larger body of water ahead, another zombie about chest deep in it and coming towards him, so he moves further to the right, slogging suddenly through deeper water, about waist deep. There are buildings all around him, and more water straight ahead.

    Emyn turns and runs to his right, edging along a narrow strip of dry ground. He sees more deep water ahead, so he continues, hearing the constant pursuit behind him. Another zombie begins to emerge from the deep water ahead, so he angles right again. He sees two more ahead. He's surrounded!

    The zombies move up, forcing Emyn back against a wall. He fights, hitting one [12], while the zombies attack him. Emyn takes two hits [10] and [12]. More come out from the water, surrounding him even more. [He's down to 18 hit points!]

    Emyn calls for aid from Trithereon, taking up a defensive stance. Emyn kills another, while avoiding the rest. He feels the power of Trithereon flowing through him as he wages battle against the undead hordes. Emyn continues his battle with the zombies, taking another hit [4] before he kills another and forces his way inside the building. He backs up through the doorway, and finds himself in an empty building.

    Whatever was here has all rotted away to nothing. There is another door on the far side of the building. All the windows have bars on them, and there are two large cells, which reveals this must have been a jail or guardpost once upon a time. Emyn turns and flees into a cell, the zombie before him taking a swing and hitting him again [10: down to 4 hit points!]. However, he makes it into a cell and slams the rusty door into place. There is a great clang as the rusty locks mechanism slams together, and unbelievably, it locks!

    Emyn backs up, as the zombies pour into the building. They swarm the cell bars, but cannot force their way through. He thinks to take out his bow, but finds that he cannot use it with only one arm. He then sets out his pack, taking out a torch. Maybe if he can set a light in the window, somebody will see him. Maybe.

    He lights his lantern first, then hangs it so it shines out the window. That done, he settles in to wait, and prays to Trithereon. Emyn sets up the lantern with his rope, and a couple of undead come for the window, so he has to stay back from it as well. More have appeared, and there seem to be about twenty now. They press in on the bars, and he hears them creak ominously. Outside, he sees the fog is lifting.

    Emyn continues to pray to Trithereon that they hold. He prays LOUDLY...and hopes the rising fog will encourage the undead to leave. Unfotunately, the undead seem to swarm in even greater numbers, as if hastening their efforts to get into the cell.

    The zombies, now at least two dozen inside alone, are really trying hard to get at Emyn. You hear them tearing at the very building now. Soon, the bars begin to groan, and debris begins to trickle down from the ceiling as they start to give way. It is only a matter of time before the sheer press of them gets them through the dilapidated building.

    Emyn sees that the end is coming. He has two choices, fight his way out or fall on his own sword to spare the indignity of being slain by the wretched things. Seeing no escape, he takes out another flask of oil, and pours it over himself. He then plans to set himself on fire and charge through the undead when a breach appears in a wall.

    The undead do not shy away at all, continuing their relentless drive to push their way in. One of the bars suddenly breaks free from the ceiling, and their press begins to create the first gap in the cell bars!

    Emyn resolves to take as many with him as possible in a last act of vengeance, should he fall. He commits his soul to Trithereon with a last prayer.

    Another bar breaks! The first zombie starts to push into the cell..... Emyn slams his shield into the breach, pushing the zombie back and jamming his shield against the bars while the undead try to push them in. He twists the bars through the arm strap and jams the shield in place, holding them back. He then steps back, taking out a flask of oil.

    The zombies then push through, as Emyn lights himself on fire. "I commend my soul to Trithereon's care," he prays, "and ask that You care for Hepla should I die."

    "FOR TRITHEREON AND VENGEANCE!" he shouts over and over as the oil upon him ignites.

    The drowned ones continue to push their way in, breaking through a couple more bars and wrenching aside Emyn's shield. The way is open, with four bars totally broken out.

    He attacks the first zombie, laying into it with his sword. The zombies do not back off from him at all, and seem unconcerned with the flames. He fights in front of the broken bars, where only one zombie can push through at a time, and holds his ground there, shouting a prayer to Trithereon as he fights.

    Emyn fights the zombies, as they work with tireless effort to continue to break into the cell. They are unbothered by the flames, as their waterlogged bodies simply do not take to fire. He kills two zombies before the rest of the bars are ripped out, allowing the zombies to flow over him like a foul wave of death.

    "I commend my soul to Trithereon," cries Emyn, "and my heart to Hepla!" He then falls on his own sword so as not to become undead.

    Suddenly, the undead leave, as quickly as they appeared. They have no more interest in Emyn at all. Unfortunately, he just fell on his sword! As he falls unconscious, there is a terrible rending sound. The walls of the building crash down and massive tentacles slam against them, ripping them apart. The last thing he sees before his world goes dark is a huge octopus-like beast!

    Emyn hears a voice, speaking directly in his mind. "What have we here?" it says, as a great tentacle wraps around Emyn's body.

    Emyn thinks back, "Trithereon?? Is that you oh Great Summoner?"

    He hears mocking laughter in his mind, the name Pyaray seems to shout deep into his very essence with a forbidding edge. Then he hears no more.


    "Isilme!" barks Thorgrim, when he sees her looking at some books. "Forget the damn books! Markessa is HERE, now, in the Upper City!" Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole, and the stench of blood and offal fills the room. Inside, the party sees a mound of orc corpses, and a single living orc captive, his hands bound and his eyes wide as he gasps for air. "Meet Mog, a Pawn in the Game of Life."

    [Berenn OOC: Are you sure his name isn't Mongo?]

    [Thorgrim OOC: It could be. Thorgrim didn't have any time for dilly-dallying. Also, he will not be staying in a ruined building with no entrances and no exits with Markessa's secret base not a half-mile away.]

    "Thorgrim, did she see you?" asks Hepla.

    "Nay. And neither I, her" he replies, digging out the orc bodies and closing his Portable Hole again. "I know naught with certainty, except what Mog might tell. I slew every orc at a guard outpost except for he. But I know they were her minions, enslaved by her magic and power. I took the corpses, so that she would have difficulty discerning what exactly happened. One thing is certain: once she discovers their absence, and before we can penetrate the temple complex, her guard will be greatly increased. She may even leave the area immediately. I wish we could attack tonight, but I fear that is an impossibility."

    "This is my fight, long awaited," says Isilme, coldly. "If it can't wait, then perhaps I shall leave alone now and hunt her. You need not risk your lives for elvish justice."

    "Huh?" says Rakk. "I came to help friends in their fights. That's what we're here for. Let's finish her and take care of Emyn's problem next."

    "You speak Common?" says Thorgrim to Mog as he unbinds Mog's hands. "Do not try to escape. You understand that it would be futile? Now that you have failed Markessa, we are your one best chance for life. You know her punishment for failure?"

    The orc nods, and Thorgrim presses. "Mog, speak! Tell us everything we wish to know."

    You learn that Markessa came here looking for something. They delved down underground, from the upper city, while half of the orcs stayed up top. Of the two hundred orcs, only a few more than a hundred made it, though there were a half-dozen ogres as well. About 50 stayed up in the ruins. They have been there for three weeks! They ran out of food almost immediately, and they were constantly attacked by various bad things. [Don't ask, just crazy monsters.] Mog spins crazy stories of lots of bad things in an incoherent fashion. He does say that the zombies never go up to the upper city. They only come out at night, and during the day only if it's foggy. Anyway, that's about it. He doesn't know what Markessa seeks, but if you know her, it's nothing good.

    The party heals up and rests in the library, spending the night there. Elrae looks around more, and finds an intricately carved diamond scorpion. "I don't know what it is,'" he says, "but it's magical."

    "The lich's phylactery should give off some form of magic," reasons Berenn. "Be careful with it."

    Hepla uses the wand to identify it, but comes up with no information. In fact, it seems to resist the magic. She studies it, puzzled. She then asks Noot if the scorpion is valuable.

    " Perhaps it's an anti-magic scorpion," he replies. "It might protect someone from magic."

    "It's a magical diamond scorpion," says Elrae. "Someone will find value with that sort of thing. What it does, I have no clue."

    "Perhaps it is some sort of Figurine of Wondrous Power, like your Ebony Fly," Thorgrim says.

    Berenn then speaks. "So Markessa's army has been cut in half and they are all staving at this point, sounds a bit promising."

    "So, do we storm the temple complex?" asks Thorgrim. "There's an entrance in the face of the cliff, if not in the temple itself. 50 orcs guarding nothing, I suspect. I don't think Markessa is there. But Blackthorn, perhaps, and some of her other minions. Nerelas and Slippery Ketta were dangerous opponents. Consider also that her poor treatment of her minions may enable us to turn them agains her, as we did with Icar."

    "We'll know more tomorrow," says Altan. "Let us sleep, and then head to the upper city at first light."

    The party then goes to sleep, ready to head to the Upper City in the morning.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:10 am  
    Part 16 - The Upper City

    Earthday, 6 Ready'reat (581)
    Throughout the night you see and hear the Drowned Ones moving about From the upper windows (if anyone goes up to look). Emyn is very restless, and gets no sleep all night long. He prays to Trithereon for guidance before we head out. He feels as though this curse that has been placed upon him somehow has angered his God.

    In the morning, you awake to a clear, fresh morning. High 60, Low 41: it's getting colder with each passing day as winter is coming. [No, this isn't Game of Thrones!] You notice that there are no birds flying about, and the city seems as dead as the Drowned Ones roaming it in the dark. There is a light fog out on the water, but it is already nearly gone by the time you wake up, and not over the city in any case.

    Over breakfast Hepla tries to explain to Atlan, and anyone else, the basis for how figurines of power work and then gets into some related items. She probably needs to reawaken them when she is done. "You are right, I should have done this when you were getting ready to go to sleep...giggle... we mages find it fascinating most other dull."

    "Magic items work differently, depending on their nature," Thorgrim begins, "But many require either mental concentration or a command word to activate. Identify is the preferred spell to use, but it is a laborious process, requiring eight hours of preparation of the item to be studied, and must be repeated for each activity best done at home or in a place of rest and safety."

    "Daylight will be safer to move around in," says Berenn, "but probably not a good idea for a frontal assault. It is going to take awhile for us to make it to the upper city, so we can get moving as soon as everyone is ready."

    "What do you know of the temple complex?" asks Thorgrim of the orc he captured.

    "Nothing," he says. "I never saw the temple."

    "We should just kill him," says Emyn.

    "Very well," says Thorgrim. "Let's make it to the next bridge. And what to do with Mongo? Shall I release him now?"

    Thorgrim looks to the orc. "Mongo, you are free. You may do as you choose. If you return to your compatriots at the temple, you will be slain with the lot of them. If you return to Markessa, your fate will surely be much worse. I suggest you head south away from this place, and seek an orc leader named Turrosh Mak. Take this with you, and he will take you in."

    Thorgrim pens a note:

    "Turrosh Mak--

    This orc was a servant of the Evil we once sought to destroy, together. Please take him into your company, and show him the way. We would be pleased to hear word of your progress, sent to us at Warder's Station, near Hommlet, through any minions that may travel through human lands. Use your imagination.


    Thorgrim opens the Portable Hole, and gives Mongo the crossbow and quarrels.

    "If you wait here for us, we may provide you with superior weaponry for your journey. If you choose to leave now, that is your decision."

    The hungry orc looks around, then back at Thorgrim. "Mongo no go. Mongo stay with Sheriff Bart, I mean, Thorgrim!"

    "Isilme," Thorgrim says. "You fly ahead, invisibly." Thorgrim describes the two-winged building, to the upper left of the temple...that is where the orc nest was before. "It may be fortified or abandoned, now. I didn't get a chance to investigate the temple, nor the broken obelisk which lies before it, which you may find interesting. Time seemed of the essence. The cavern below opens into the cliff face, and there is a ledge nearby. Let's see if we can't circumvent the defenders entirely."

    "Sounds good," she says, casting her spells and then flying off. The rest follow, and the party makes it up to the Upper City without incident. The party argues at nearly every turn, with half wanting to investigate every interesting building while the rest wish to press on. Eventually, Isilme looses her temper.

    "I am not stopping people from checking, I am simply not helping," she says. "Trying to clear every building from here to Markessa makes no sense. Checking one building alone forced us to burn a days worth of magic, and nearly led to the deaths of half the party."

    "You're right, Isilme," says Thorgrim. "We'll need every bit of our strength, should we find Markessa ahead. We need clues to her whereabouts. We shall continue, but you still should inspect that obelisk I found. The writing may be in Drow, or some language you know. Godspeed."

    You make it to the bridge without incident. The river cutting through here is about 75' wide, and it rushes quickly below it before flowing off the cliff in a spectacular waterfall. It is spanned by a stone bridge of dwarf design. Yes, there are dwarven runes carved upon it, but Thorgrim says they say nothing. They are names, which the work crews carve into the stones as they work them. He points to one, "This one says 'The Indomitable Ones' which would be what they called themselves." He smiles, "Dwarves take great personal pride in working stone, and this practice was not uncommon."

    Isilme scouts ahead again, then returns to report. "A broad cobblestone street runs south and north among the ruins. Here, the fluted columns and relief carvings of buildings sag wearily. A large cobblestone courtyard lies amid crumbling buildings. Beyond the courtyard to the south stands a large building with a semi-circular group of four pillars which once supported a large portico which has collapsed. In front of these pillars, a huge well plunges into the earth. Vapors rise from the well. To the north of the well, a series of large buildings remain (areas around 2 and 7), including a stout round tower (6). The large building has half-collapsed, with the roof having collapsed in on it."

    Thorgrim explains how he progressed through this area. "I moved along south of building (8), saw the obelisk, then was fired on by orcs from the barracks. I charged up there and killed them, before moving west. Let's make our way to that Orc's Nest and see if any of that weaponry is still lying about."

    The orc stuff was lying about, but other than that there isn't much. Mongo tells you that they have not had any contact with those who went underground. Left to their own devices up here, they were simply starving away, afraid to brave the swamps and the many dangers there. The only thing they found in that old barracks wass a bunch of javelins. They also checked out a few of the nearby buildings, but they ran into some nasties, including a huge slug about 50' long, and decided to just hole-up until help arrived.

    "Somebody should take a closer look at the javelins," says Berenn, "but I doubt the orcs were lucking enough to stumble upon the ogres javelins of lightning."

    After reaching the area of the orc post, Thorgrim examines the scene of his carnage with satisfaction. "I practically killed seven in one blow," he says. "Here, Mongo, some proper weaponry for you. Take whatsoever you will...a sword, any daggers, and as many quarrels as you wish to carry. Perhaps some strings from the other crossbows. Isilme, did you inspect that obelisk? I could not read the runes. Let's enter this temple...I suspect the entrance to the underground complex lies within. We could always go through the back door, though with some added difficulty." Thorgrim will do a perimeter check of the temple before entering.

    "I searched the obelisk area extensively and found nothing of note," she says. "The writing was in ancient Suloise, and it read:

    "The Great City of Sul'Ach Baldroth
    Whose beauty surrounds you
    Speaks to the power of its people.
    And their glorious deeds.
    The gods reward us
    In the grace of our home".

    "Mm," says Thorgrim. "Little to be gleaned from ancient monuments, I suppose. Still, writing is for the reading. I suspect the monument was put there by the original builders, whoever they might be."

    Inside the building, the party finds that there are a dozen javelins, of similar manufacture to those wielded by the ogres. Noot takes a javelin to use as a disposable walking stick, Emyn takes a few, Rakk takes a couple, and the rest are placed inside Rakk's Bag of Holding.

    Thorgrim lights his pipe while he waits for the party to do what they will, before finding this temple. He speaks: "And save one javelin for Markessa. Should we find her at all, we won't have but a moment before she uses her magic to destroy us all. Even her clones can be formidable, though they be but a shadow of the elf-witch herself. Vaddarra, Rakk, you saw what she looked like, the last time Hepla polymorphed into her form?"

    As they nod, Hepla asks Mongo if he remembers any others with Markessa besides the orcs. She puts her hand on his arm, like a friend might, when she asks the question.

    "Mongo don't know. Mongo only pawn, in game of life."

    "Mongo," says Hepla, "where did the other go down or in what building did they go into?"

    "They went inside building," he says. [building 4 on map]

    [I guess that is our entry point," says Berenn.

    "Shall we check the larger temple before entering the smaller one?" asks Thorgrim.

    "May as well," says Noot. "My pockets are a bit light anyway."

    So, the party is in the old barracks where the last few orcs were, and about to check out the two temples. Here's an updated map:

    [DM note on map: Your building, where you also found the javelins, is clearly marked with a "You are here" note. Building (1) is mostly collapsed. The buldings in this area of town have mostly survived the ravages of time. Many are clearly governmental buildings or at least associated with the city government, rulers, etc. (4) and (8) seem to be temples, and (4) is the one that Markessa and the orcs entered. The round circle to the bottom-left of (8) is the obelisk, though it's collapsed and broken into a couple of pieces. I'm not sure if there's anything else I need to add. Oh, Thorgrim climbed the cliff about halfway between building (8) and the city wall. And remember, I'm using an existing map, so the numbers on the map do NOT necessarily mean anything. I've used them so far because they stand out, but basically, they don't really matter. I know they catch your eye, and I am incorporating them into the adventure just the same, but they are not necessarily the important places to go. I have to find a good way to "erase" parts of images which I use as my backgrounds!]

    Heading in the direction indicated, the party checks out the two temples. The larger temple seems to be a Temple of Kord, Suel god of strength, battle, and courage. That is obvious from the 8-pointed symbol engraved prominently on the face of the outer walls. However, rather than alternating arrows and maces, this symbol is all arrows. Now that she examines it, she realizes that she HAS run across it. While the symbol of Kord is common, this one is slightly altered and she realizes that some of the ogres had tattoos of it on their bodies. They worshiped Kord, so that makes sense. However, this symbol is just slightly different.

    The small temple has a strange symbol of a serpent entwined around a flame. You do not recognize it.

    There are doors to each temple. Those to the flaming serpent temple are open, while those to the Kord-like temple are closed. Isilme inspects both for secret doors and entrances, but finds nothing. The double doors of tarnished bronze stand wide open. You see that they were pried apart as the lock is broken open. An arching hall 30' high leads ahead to an identical set of doors. Beyond them you see another chamber, circular with light shining down in the center illuminating a tall statue of a woman. You can't see any more from here. The two sides of the entrance hall are covered with bas reliefs showing various scenes of people, animals, etcs. Serpents are commonly depicted throughout.

    BTW, here's what the building looks like:

    It's about 100' across (yes, I know the scale of the large city map is wrong. Don't worry about it!) You enter from the left side, go through the entry chamber, to the great central dome. Emyn is looking through the doors to the central dome right now!

    Emyn makes his way inside, with Hepla at his side. Vaddara and Elrae follow closely. while the rest check out the Temple of Kord. The central chamber is circular and tremendously high, nearly 100'. It seems like it has a glass dome atop it! There is another set of bronze doors opposite, as well as openings in the curved wall to the left and right. You see chambers there, which turn back towards the front of the building, while there are more bronze double-doors leading to the two side domes which are smaller, maybe 50' high. The walls of the chamber are covered with fading frescoes--murals painted on wet plaster.

    Hepla exams the frescos to see if anything about them is familiar. Maybe even an old paining of the city. She doesn't pick up anything in particular, just a lot of imagery regarding fire. This was clearly the temple of a fire god. Finally, there is the statue. It is about 20' tall. The first 10' is a volcano, and it seems to be carved out of a single large basalt plug. Lava seems to be flowing out of the volcano in all directions. Rising out of the volcano is the fire goddess.

    Vaddara is clearly shaken by the impressive images. "I might aught to check if Rakk needs some company," she says, then mumbles, "where an ice goddess when you need one?"

    As Vaddara starts to feel uneasy, she leaves. The others, noting this, follow her out.

    Meanwhile, Isilme, Thorgrim, Rakk, and Noot went into the Temple of Kord. Inside it basically looks like this, except the building is rectagonal, stretching more to the left and right.

    "Mongo! Stay outside!" says Thorgrim. To Isilme, Thorgrim says, "Perhaps they were slain by the temple guardian. We could use Noot in here, checking for traps. Noot! Some assistance?" With Noot's help, Thorgrim checks out the platforms and the statue, looking for secret repositories of treasure.

    Noot walks back over the Thorgrim. "I've had just about enough of your orders, old man," he says. "Let's see what you've got." He then takes a combat stance, daggers in each hand.

    Thorgrim smiles. "Yo, sea-bitch. Let's go!" [sorry, shameless Army of Darkness plug there!] He takes a firm grip on Souldrinker and the two then attack each other. Noot misses with a stab of Blackknife, and parries Thorgrim's return blow with his off-hand Dagger of Parrying.

    Thorgrim attacks Noot twice with Souldrinker. "Fool! You brought a dagger to a weapons-fight!" he shouts. He attempts to get past Noot's parrying to land the killing blow.

    Noot pokes at Thorgrim with the javelin that he had picked up earlier, keeping his dagger of parrying in the other hand. "Hey shorty, stand up and fight like a MAN!"

    Thorgrim hits Noot with Souldrinker [14], knocking the nimble thief backwards. Noot responds with a throw of the javelin, which hits Thorgrim, exploding in a blast of lightning [22] that sends sparks flying off Thorgrim's armor.

    Berenn hears the ring of steel on steel, looks inside, and sees Thorgrim and Noot fighting. Rakk storms over to the temple doors, standing just inside and calling on Berenn to "Come in and fight me man-to-man!"

    Altan turns around at Rakk's challenge. He and Berenn then hear cheering inside when Noot's javelin hits Thorgrim.

    "Hey Thorgrim," taunts Noot. "What happens to a dwarf when it gets hit by lightning?" Noot laughs as he draws his other dagger.

    Berenn casts Compulsive Order on Rakk. "Nothing would please me more," he says. "However, the arena is simply too messy. Clean it up, and then we can fight."

    Rakk turns around and sees the bodies of the dead orcs lying about, as well as the bits of weapons and armor scattered everywhere. "So it is," he says. He starts to walk back inside, then stops and glances back at Berenn, "I'll be back."

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim and Noot continue their fight. Thorgrim charges Noot, who rolls out of the way, coming up to Thorgrim's side with two stabs of his daggers. He scores another hit [5].

    Suddenly everyone hears Isilme's voice from above saying, "STOP THIS NOW!" in Suloise. Using her song skills to make the sound echo in the room with commanding force. She then appears, flying above Thorgrim, slicing through him with Maerthorlear. Her sword goes right through him, and it's clear she's actually in Wraithform. Maerthorlear doesn't harm Thorgrim, as it's also ethereal, but it cuts into the spirit which had taken control of him. It screams a loud and eerie yell and then flies out of him!

    Thorgrim stands, stunned for moment, but before he can act Noot stabs him with blackknife [7]. Rakk is still cleaning up the place, dragging bodies off the floor and over to the side.

    Isilme floats closer to Noot, Morlather held threatingly and says in Suloise, "STOP AT ONCE! LEAVE HIM!" You actually hear her say in Suloise, "Gelditu orain!" Nobody really knows what she's saying.

    Noot turns towards her, a sneer on his face. "Never," he says in common. "It has been so long." It then attacks her, but the daggers go right through her ethereal form. [BTW, both the Invisibilty and Protection from Evil are now gone, since she made a melee attack.]

    Two other ghosts approach her, and just now Thorgrim notices the many ghosts in the stands which were watching the fight. The two ghosts seem to try and enter her, but they are repulsed by her. Isilme can feel Maerthorlear singing its protections in her mind.

    Thorgrim quickly casts Protection from Evil upon himself. Meanwhile, Hepla and the others appear outside the door.

    "Protect yourselves from evil!" Isilme yells again in common. Then she speaks to the ghosts in Suloise. "I wish all of you no ill, but you WILL leave my friends alone!"
    She strikes Noot with morlather to drive the creature out. She notes that Maerthorlear clearly indicates them as evil. Their existence is such that they cause the indiscriminate death of the living, so hard to say otherwise. Gotta see things in DnD perspectives sometimes and just go with the flow.

    Really, I just wanted you to be able to REALLY see the new tokens I created! BTW, the Magenta halo means the character is possessed. You also can see that Rakk is piling up bodies, cleaning up the floor.

    Hepla casts Protection from Evil while Vaddara casts Protection from Evil in a 10' radius, pouring holy water around them in a large circle. Inside, Isilme hits Noot with Maerthorlear, the holy sword flashing ethereally through him and disrupting the spirit within. It immediately screams and issues forth from him. Other ghosts fly around Isilme, attempting to get at her, but she keeps them at bay with Maerthorlear. They fly around her, angry and frustrated at their inability to get to her! Meanwhile, Rakk goes and grabs another orc body, depositing it on the growing pile.

    Isilme yells, "Thorgrim quickly - protect Noot!" She then floats towards Rakk, again calling in Suloise, "CEASE THIS NOW! Let my friends be."

    When the spirits do not answer, she swings at Rakk. Maerthorlear cuts through the spirit inhabiting Rakk, freeing him just as Noot and Thorgrim. Meanwhile, both of them rush out of the temple, grabbing Vaddara as they flee. Only Isilme and Rakk are now in the temple.

    Outside, Thorgrim shakes his head, then his eyes open wide. "Noot! Are you okay, my old friend? I am pleased that you are not dead!" He casts CLW on himself.

    "Thorgrim, that was weird", says Noot, trying to catch his breath. "Are YOU hurt? Those javelins were loaded."

    "Just a scratch," he answers. "Well, at least we know they work. Let's get some healing done and be off to the next temple."

    He casts a CLW on Noot. "You gave me a run for my money, Dragonslayer."

    Berenn and Vaddara administer to Thorgrim, who takes out his pipe and lights up. After a few puffs of the Old Toby, he feels much better.

    After Rakk flees, Isilme flies up a little and addresses the spirits. "Have your leader come forth and speak to me." However, the do not respond. Rather, they calmed down, disappearing again into the ground. Isilme eventually makes her way back to the party, after floating about the temple.

    "Thanks for waiting for me. I am glad to see you all survived your ordeal without too much harm. At least we didn't come out of it empty handed, I found the temple treasury!
    we can worry about the coin later. On to the next temple?"

    "Remind me never to promise an enemy anything other than a quick death," Thorgrim says to Isilme. To Mongo, he says, "Stay close, and do not fire that crossbow at anything without a clear shot. Leave the killing to us."

    Isilme will introduce her masked self to mongo (he couldn't see her before) and welcome him to the group. "Fight by our side, be loyal to our cause, and you might even be rewarded if you survive this venture. I have known the noblest of orcs who might take you into his clan. Everyone deserves a second chance to turn from their evil ways and prove their worth"

    [DM OOC: There was a massive system crash, which made us lose two weeks of adventuring. So, I'll just post a short summary here.]

    Synopsis of last few weeks [lost by system crash!]:

    The party enters the fire temple and finds a stairway down into the basement of the temple complex. They come to a large darkened room that has a partially collapsed floor and hallways on either side of the main chamber. Emyn lights an arrow on fire from the torch he carries and sends it down to the other end of the room, revealing several more collapses in the main room. Hepla also casts light on a stone to help the party see. There is clear evidence of a major battle between the ogres and orcs the party has been pursuing and some unknown foe. The humanoids obviously came off the losers from the amount of blood evident on the floors.
    With the loss from the crash, here's a full map of what I called The Hall of the Dead.

    The activity attracts a strange kind of undead which I called Shadow Ghouls, which appear skeletal with drying skin and red piercing eyes. Several swarm the party, causing both harm and weakness through their chilling touch. Mongo is torn into pieces in the first wave and he is dragged into the darkness. The party fights most of them off but Atlan is grabbed by one and paralyzed. The shadow ghoul struggles to move him into the darkness and makes the error of standing too close to a sinkhole. Both plunge over the side and into the abyss.

    Berenn leaps off the side using a ring of feather falling while both Isilme and Hepla fly down to search for Atlan. He is not to be found but they do spend some time exploring what appears to be a city lying in a jumble far below as though some giant has thrown hundreds of dice and they landed all over the place and in every position imaginable. Berenn is carried back up by the girls. The last Atlan is seen is through the use of Hepla’s crystal ball, which shows his corpse floating down an underground river. The party has little time to mourn his loss though, as more shadow ghouls attack. Vadarra drives them off with a blast of positive energy, which utterly destroys some of them. The remainder are slowly finished off as the party pushes further into the complex.

    The group bypasses the other sinkholes via some side hallway and moves to the rear of the main chamber, collecting a little treasure along the way. They find a large statue of a woman holding a sword and some sort of odd shrine covered with candles, one of which is magical. Isilme lights the candle as the others move away from the statue in case it comes to life. The candle seems to have no effect, so she extinguishes it and the party moves over to investigate how to get down to the underground city.

    The trail from the orcs and ogres leads to a drain pipe about four feet in diameter. The party debates whether to go down the sinkhole or the drain. Hepla and Isilme, tiring of the drawn out argument, fly down the pipe and explore the area. They find a house sitting on its roof filled with ghostly spiders. They kill one easily and then cast wraithform in the hope the undead spiders will leave them alone. The spiders ignore the two and they explore the house, encountering a trio of ghostly dwarven servants cooking an imaginary meal for someone. Hepla tries to speak with them in their own language but to no avail. The pair further explore and find a cavern outside that leads to a chute. The passage drops down to what appears to be a cathedral on its side. Hepla returns back to the party to report and they all make their way downward.

    Vadarra kills the spiders with another of her positive energy spells, making the area safe while Thorgrim speaks with the dwarven spirits. They are surprised to see him but they do respond to his inquiries, telling him that they are preparing a supper for the lord of the place. They even tell him where the lord is, before going back to their ghostly work.

    There was also another pipe, which turned right from the main pipe. This one was much steeper, and it led to an old bakery. Investigating this area, Isilme and Hepla found a bank and entered the bank vault [still in wraithform]. They saw the massive amounts of coins inside the vault, and then left. They brought the rest of the party there, and also encountered an undead dwarven blacksmith. Thorgrim successfully talked to the dwarf, promised to put his magical hammer (a smith's hammer, NOT a warhammer) to use again in the hands of a dwarf. Anyway, after finding that, the party was going to continue on to the bank.

    After leaving the place alone, since the party was so weakened by the shadow ghouls (they caused strength drain AND paralysis), the party decided to rest and press on to the bank after regaining their strength.

    Here's a cross-section map of where they have been. They are currently resting near the bank.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:05 pm  
    Part 17 - The Undercity

    Freeday, 7th of Ready'reat (581)
    The party rests for some time, and awakes the next morning. Really, there is no day/night down here, but anyway. So, after all the previous events, you awake from a peaceful rest in this long-forgotten area. I should also have mentioned, there was a waterfall here. The river which runs in front of the bank pours through a hole in the wall and falls in a 200' waterfall to the undercity below. Isilme and Hepla both recognize the underground city from their previous time down there, trying to find Altan. No longer does light shine from the sinkholes below though, as the only light was that cast/carried by the party, which at the time was mostly still up above in the "Paths of the Dead." [DM OOC: I guess I was in error when I called it the Hall of the Dead.]

    At the end of this section of town, Isilme found a bank. More spectral dwarves were inside, but Isilme couldn't get them to interact with her. Isilme went through the vault door in wraithform, and there discovered a TON of coins, nearly uncountable numbers. She didn't take them, but returned to the party which decided to rest before continuing.

    "I guess we should head for the bank or let Isilme check it out first," says Berenn.

    "I can take the bag of holding, cast wraithform, and go in the bank and collect all the coins with the help of a few unseen servant spells," says Isilme. "Then you guys can do what you want."

    Emyn says, "Isilme, concentrate on gathering the most valuable items first. The more coin and gems and jewelry we gather, the more I can devote to building the Church in Nulb. If there is as much there as you say, I doubt that it will all fit in that bag. It might fit in Thorgrim's hole though."

    "Noot should check to make sure there are no still functioning traps working in the vault," says Hepla.

    [Berenn OOC: Perhaps a little discretion here ... something smells funky. When have you ever known Rags to give away free anything? I would suggest using extreme caution and not trying to haul out every copper piece. This is just waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to easy to me. Mr. Stingy DM hardly gives us anything through all these adventures, suddenly we are presented a room full of?]

    After a long series of paranoid arguments, the party decides to enter the bank as a group. Thorgrim leads the way and enters the bank. He sees the spectral dwarves. There are four guards and the clerk. The clerk looks up lazily at Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim speaks to the Dwarves. "How's business?"

    The spectral dwarf speaks when Thorgrim comes up to the counter. "“So you’ve finally arrived, Kathal! Well, you’re the last, so pay the tax!”"

    "How much do I owe?" asks Thorgrim.

    The dwarf answers, "500 Tsarothian Culli." Of course, nobody has any idea what that means.

    Thorgrim reaches into his money sack and pulls out 100 gold. He asks to exchange it for Tsarothian Culli so he can pay his debts.

    The dwarf says, "That's MORE than enough. Finally, the last tax is in." The clerk turns and tries to open the vault. It doesn't open, but he acts like it does, while a guard acts like he is gathering the money and deposits it inside. It actually looks like they just go through the motions, and when they are done, they all sigh and disappear.

    Thorgrim takes back the coins they didn't collect. Hepla walks in saying, "That was interesting. Now how do we get in? Maybe a thief can crack the vault or I can cast Knock. I will look around to see if they left the combination somewhere." She then searches the room for any keys or series of numbers or whatever looks like is needed to open the vault.

    Noot checks out the vault door. It's a massive door, with multiple wheels each with dwarven runes on them. Basically, a big combination lock with 6 wheels with numbers/runes (each with about 20 characters.) Lots of combinations; Noot can't crack it.

    Hepla casts Knock, and the first one of the wheels turns around a couple of times, before stopping on a rune. Noot hears the faintest "click!" inside the door.

    "Not sure Knock was the most efficient way to enter, given so many locks," Thorgrim says. "But since you've begun..."

    After three spells, there is a rather loud click; Noot heard a couple of the smaller klicks, and at least now has an idea of how to crack such a lock in the future. He looks around carefully, seeking any indications of a trap, but finds none. Emyn turns the large wheel, opening the vault door. Inside is a sight that leaves everyone speechless.

    OK, ignore the apple/mac stuff, but you get the picture!

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole and begins filling it. "Let us be done with this place, and figure a way to seal this Undercity, as we explore further."

    Elrae uses Snowfang to Detect Magic, but he doesn't detect anything. It's just money. Imagine being in a bank vault with millions of coins that was shaken in a paint mixer! That's pretty much what you have here. Hepla throws a couple handfuls in her pack, while Isilme summons her LLL, opens her chest to full size, and starts loading it to the brim with coins. If it's clear, Rakk will take a sack out, take about 10 lbs. looking for unusual coins.

    The party spends about half the day gathering up as much of the coins as they can. They completely fill the Portable Hole, LLL, and Bag of Holding. After a break for lunch, they the spend a few more hours working, before they are ready to move on. So, after a full day's work, the party will have gathered up everything. It will be pretty exhausting, and they all will sleep well and early! This entire area seems a rather safe place. While eating, Noot estimates the total value, based on what he could see, at about 100,000gp!!!

    Starday, 8th of Ready'reat (Nov) CY 581
    The party sleeps through the night, or what seems to be night, and wakes up the next day. The exact time is unknown underground, but it's probably early morning, since everyone was so exhausted by their work the day before.
    This map shows another view of the waterfall dropping down to the undercity from the area of the bank. It leads to an area with a partially collapsed tower behind a wall. There are city streets and other ruins in the area. To the right, between area 60 and 61 on the map, is another waterfall from area 59, the sideways cathedral.
    Another 3D map with labels!

    You are at the point labeled "bank." From the bank there is a "ledge" so to speak, where the waterfall starts. All that water running along this level and in front of the bank flows out through a gaping hole in the side of the cavern, which opens into a HUGE cavern. About 300' up are the holes in the ceiling (the sinkholes from up above, one of which Altan fell through). There is an opening (labeled Opening on the map!) about 100' up and about 100' away. It has columns and such there, tweaked at weird angles. Where it goes you don't know. About 200' below you is the bottom of the huge cavern wherein rests The Undercity, the underground city of the dwarves which once lived here.

    Elrae expresses his desire to check out the cathedral and its wondrous pipe-organ. You could go back up through the sewer pipe, which would be hard work. From there you could make your way all the way around and back down to the sideways cathedral; however, you'd have to go through The Chute which was a tight squeeze and full of water pouring straight down! Remember, Isilme and Hepla went through there while in Wraithform. [The details of all this was lost in a server crash.]

    "If we have enough rope, we could climb down, no?" asks Emyn. "Or have someone cast fly and carry us one by one. It is only 200 feet down, after all."

    Thorgrim shows everyone how to rappel down the wall. With some quick lessons, everyone can do it and get down in a couple minutes. Isilme and Hepla cast Fly, though Isilme will go last, after untying the rope. Isilme ensures the bank safe door is closed and seals the entrance to this section of pipe with a Wall of Stone before flying down. She then says a prayer for the dead within this area that they may rest in peace.

    "That opening may be our point of egress, if we don't want to leave the way we came," Thorgrim says, looking up. "It may lead to the opening I saw in the cliff-face."
    Here's the party's "active map". Other than directional purposes, ignore the numbers. They are the remnants from the map I based this upon. Obviously, I've changed a lot. So, though it says 62 inside the tower, that doesn't mean anything except in the original module from whence I took this map, that was area 62, etc., etc.. [BTW, the original module was DL1-Dragons of Despair, and the map was the city of Xak Tsaroth. It was nearly perfect for this. Further, I found a map online for what the city looked like in ancient times, so I used that to create my above-ground map, with many tweaks to make it coincide with the below-ground area. It took quite a bit of work, but it paid off.]

    The party is down, and I've spread them out as makes sense. The visible squares don't line up perfectly with my program, and for once I couldn't get them to line up. But, they are roughly 10' square.

    You are in a courtyard, with rock walls behind you (along with the tall waterfall which tumbles into a large pool. The water is not terribly cold, so you reason it starts from the surface and is making its way rather quickly down. However, it's also not warm. You all are pretty soaked by the time you get down. A tower, broken off above the ground floor, stands before you. Isilme flies down and lands on the top of the tower wall (you should be able to see her token there!) Inside the tower there are two arches. One lies fallen on its side and broken; however, the other still stands. They are free-standing (well one still is!) and do not seem to have been for support or anything. There is also a stone wall, which surrounds this area and divides it from the rest of the Undercity. It's about 20' tall, blocking view of the rest of the city. Some sections are partially collapsed, and the water from the waterfall (and from another couple smaller ones), runs off to the party's left, clockwise sort of. That is, it flows to the right of the map, towards the areas where you can see numbers 61 and 62.

    Also, as far as lighting goes, Vaddara has cast Continual Light upon her shield. Emyn lights another of his torches, Elrae has Snowfang, and Thorgrim's using his eyepatch. I'm going to work on lighting in Maptools, but it's a work in progress!

    Rakk inspects the wall. It's dwarven made, and very old (1000 years or more) so it's sturdy, where it's not falling apart and can be crossed in a few places (at the three corners).

    "Let's investigate this tower," says Thorgrim. "Beware of ghosts." Thorgrim enters the tower and looks around.

    Inside the tower you find nothing but broken stones. There is no doorway, only holes in the walls through which you enter. There are stairs inside, curling up the inside wall (not shown on the map!). They go up and just end where the top of the tower is sheared off, about 10' up. The one arch stands alone, and Thorgrim notes that it was not structural, not supporting anything. The other arch is knocked down on its side and broken, and a large boulder sits next to it. Thorgrim kneels down and can tell you that the boulder fell upon it, breaking it and knocking it over. Otherwise, there's nothing in here.

    Thorgrim scratches his beard. "Why would someone build an arch, if not to support weight? It is therefore either purely decorative, or built for some other purpose. Perhaps a magical purpose." He tosses a stone through the arch to see if anything happens. There is a golden flash, and it disappears.

    "I am not going through any more arches and neither are you Hepla," Emyn says.

    Hepla says, "Yes dear," and walks clear around the arch until she can see the party through it from the other side. She picks up a rock and throws it through. It just flies through and clatters across the ground. There are no runes anywhere, or any indication of where it may lead.

    "An interesting mystery," says Vaddara, "but right now I would suggest leaving it alone unless someone is confident they can get back unassisted."

    "This arch reminds me of an ancient tale of a similar type arch located in the heart of a lich's tomb," says Elrae. "This arch would teleport anyone foolish enough to walk through it, thousands of leagues away. They would then appear in the new locale, naked as a new born babe. And the lich would horde all of the adventurer's possessions."

    "Mm! Such magic is certainly within a lich's power, as Emyn and I can attest," says Thorgrim. "Hepla, summon a rat or a bat or something, some creature that could answer the summoning. I'd be surprised if no bats took up residence here, though I've seen none as of yet. Perhaps the evil of this place keeps them away."

    Hepla uses a cantrip to summon a mouse, grabs it, puts the juice of a berry on it (so she can tell it from all the other mice), tosses through the arch, from the front side, then goes to the crystal ball to see where the mouse went. The mouse disappears. She takes out the crystal ball, and starts looking for it. Quickly, she finds it in another circular tower room, similar to this one. There is a bit of light coming through cracks in the walls, but Hepla can see that there are two arches within it.

    "All in favor of taking a trip?" asks Berenn.

    "I will go," says Isilme. "The architecture seems the same, so likely it just leads to the surface." Isilme goes through the arch and disappears. While the party waits for her to return, hopefully, they are attacked by a giant spider from beyond the waterfall. After a quick and easy fight, they hear Islme's voice above saying " I am back."

    An invisible Isilme flies down to the party. "It's safe to pass through. It puts us on the surface north of the temple." Isilme explains that she found herself in another tower up above. It also had two arches, and it seems they are some kind of teleportation device. She couldn't use them to return, probably because the other arch down here is broken. "They seem to only be one-way arches," she says. "Once I flew back to the plaza in front of the temples, I cast Dimension Door to return here. We just need to decide whether to continue searching here and come back, or go there now."

    "Perhaps this will be our escape route when we finish here," says Hepla.

    After agreeing that this is a good method of escape, the party continues on. You head up over the rubble, and down into a street. The water flows around and through the rubble pile and continues along the edge of the cavern, disappearing into the distance. There are streets running away from you, passed some ruined walls and along the large wall back towards the river where Altan fell.

    Thorgrim summons his Earth Elemental. "Good to have backup," he says.

    Hepla flies up 50' in the air, to see if she sees any light anywhere else. She does not. She returns, telling the party that theirs is the only light she sees in the vast cavern.

    Finally getting lighting figured out! Now you can see the party's current position with lighting factored in. Slightly dark areas are places they have revealed, but are not currently lit, while the BLACK is fog of war, i.e. not yet revealed. The walls are actually hard to see, but I'm slowly learning.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Looks like a psychedelic light-show. Awesome.]

    "I suspect we may be near where our companion fell to his death," Thorgrim says, grimly. "Shall we seek his corpse? Most likely there may be no remnants." Thorgrim looks about and in the water for any signs of Altan's body.

    "Yes," says Hepla sadly. "The sinkhole where Altan fell is just up ahead." She takes the party there.

    You are now at the edge of the underground stream. It flows from the south, turns NW, and drops into a crevasse [labeled Abyss]. There are more waterfalls falling into it, and another stream as well, so there is a ton of water pouring down. Virtually all the water flowing through this area ends up pouring down there! Vaddara and Hepla are atop a large boulder at the apex of the wall's corner. Everyone else is as posted. Thorgrim looked into the open building to his left, the elemental right behind him. It was empty.
    Isilme flew across the river. She's invsibile [ie. her counter is shaded.] The area labeled "Where Altan Fell" is directly below the first (left) sinkhole in the Paths of the Dead above.

    [DM OOC: BTW, that's a zoomed out view, showing the extent of the areas you've seen.]

    To the right of the building where Thorgrim just looked, there's a street running south. To the right of that, the stream runs south as well, along the cavern wall. The stream in the center runs north, then turns left at the apex of the walls, before cascading into the Abyss. The ground is all muddy here, as the river was higher not long ago, probably from all the rain last week. Over the years it has deposited a layer of mud over the cobblestone streets and carved a channel through the center of the main street.

    Isilme decides to fly around and try to get the lay of the land, so to speak. Everyone waits in places, while does a quick scouting mission. Once she returns, she draws up a quick map (actually I posted a big map for the party!]
    This is the East side of the Undercity, with all streets and collapsed buildings shown. The walls are basically still up, but all those rubble areas have had roofs collapse. That doesn't mean they're empty, but Isilme could see them on her flyover. Also, IGNORE the big dragon thingie. I took this map from another module, and EVERYTHING in it is different. The place marked The Lift, that is directly below the well on the surface, next to the temple, just for orientation's sake.

    [DM OOC: I don't have the west side ready. So, DON'T go to the west side yet!]

    [Isilme OOC: We travel to the west side.....]

    [DM OOC: Fine, you all die a horrible death!]
    Undercity West, now you don't all die!

    Again, PLEASE IGNORE the text on the map. It's all irrelevant, as I am only using the map, NOT the adventure from whence it came. For example, the tower where you found the teleporter arches was a treasury tower. How much money did you find though? Yeah, none. Everything is different; I am only using the map because it's exactly what I had envisioned. So, use the text ONLY as points of reference.

    I guess I should also add, in case you can't tell. Below the Great Plaza area, there is a large set of steps leading into a big building. It looks like an old palace. The steps lead up to an ancient colonnaded area, the roof of which has all collapsed. The columns are all broken, and the area is a heap of stones and such. There are doors/openings leading East, into the old palace.

    And further, I just retroactively changed how you guys arrived, because I originally screwed up the map. Had you descended from the bank, you'd have ended up to the far bottom-right of the map. So, I just said you instead went around through the cathedral, rather than rappelling down from the bank. This brings you out by that tower. Not really a big deal, but now it's not really a mistake!

    Anyway, from the area where Altan fell, Berenn spots orc/ogre prints. They go to the SE, down the old street which leads eventually to that plaza where it says "The Lift". Any other prints are all gone, since the water has risen significantly since they came down, and washed away any other traces. On the other side, he finds some more prints, but they are booted, dwarf-sized prints. There are some more orc prints too, but again, because of the water they have mostly been washed away.

    "Half the orcs are on our side of the river," says Thorgrim. "We need to deal with them before attempting a crossing. In a way that doesn't involve killing them all, so Sleep or something. We need their leaders, at least, for information. And perhaps we can get them to bargain for their lives. Though with Markessa's minions, that may not be a bargain they're willing to take, as the fate that awaits them is worse than death. Perhaps Hepla taking on Markessa's form might be useful."

    Hepla perks up at the thought of playing Markessa again.

    Berenn keeps searching, and eventually picks up the trail. The water washed away all traces around the stream, but it's evident that the orcs have come and gone here quite a bit. Most tracks go down the old cobblestone street that leads to the plaza labeled "Court of Reception". It has the image of the dragon in it, though of course there's no dragon.

    "They may come here to use the stream," suggests Hepla.

    "I suggest Isilme check out that area before we go storming in there," says Berenn.

    Isilme agrees, and she flies over there. She finds a bunch of orcs standing guard around the plaza.

    I made new orc counters. Hope you can see them ok. There are two orcs before the double doors, one before another door to the SW, and another half dozen spread out, watching down each road. They seem very alert, though they don't look up, which wouldn't matter anyway. Isilme's flying invisibly. I also painted cobblestones on the street here, mainly because the writing was making it hard to see the counters. I think it looks good anyway.

    "Thorgrim thinks you should pretend to be Markessa," says Isilme, tapping Hepla on the shoulder. "I agree. You seem comfortable and convincing with the form."

    "Thanks," says Hepla, "I think. But I will wait a bit until the time is right."

    "I am in favor of taking on the orcs," says Berenn. "We were hear for Markessa. That is where our priority should be. We can explore later. Isilme, perhaps this is a good time for the Wand of the Highfolk. Get them fighting each other so they don't raise an alarm."

    Isilme says no. "That's not full proof, and we don't know where any leaders are, not to mention Markessa. We need more info. Let's get closer."

    The party edges closer. Elrae casts Continual Light upon Rakk's "dagger", which he hides under his cloak. Noot will edge out and check for traps. He finds a tripwire stretching across the street, and it's tied to some precariously balanced metal strips, looks like pieces of armor. He snips it, disarming it easily.

    With the party approaching a point where they can act, one way or another, Isilme flies out above the orcs, invisible, and uses her excellent drow infravision to look around. She finds a couple guards standing outside an old doorway down an ally, and waits above for a bit. She soon hears the large orc inside abuilding giving the two others a bit of a dressing-down. Voices begin to raise, and soon she hears the sounds of a fight inside. The two outside turn and look inside.

    She uses her Wand of Highfolk on the two orcs, and soon they start to argue, probably about who's going to win. Eventually, one punches the other. They start grappling each other, then fall to the ground wrestling. The big orc from down south looks up, "What're you doing?" he calls, but kinda quiet-like.

    The one from the SW of the plaza and the big one from the end of the alley to the south come up and break up the fight in front of the doors, each grabbing one of the orcs and pulling them apart. "Knock it off," growls the big one. He looks around, scanning above as well, which is odd since usually nobody EVER looks up. "Noise is bad."

    When the two orcs start to argue, he smashes one in the side of the head, knocking it out. The other backs down, but smugly looks like he just got his way. The sound of a fight continues inside, and the big guy looks in to see what's going on there.

    Isilme attempts to use her "free" charm monster spell on the big Orc. He looks up, hearing the faint sound of Isilme casting her spell. It seems the others don't notice. He is charmed!

    [DM OOC: BTW, when you attempt to cast spells while Invisible, if they are verbal spells, then there will be "possibilities" for others to notice. I was using the old 1st ed rules, but the 2nd ed rules are easier; you just give things a saving throw. So, these orcs all got saves to "notice" something. It doesn't make you visible. It doesn't even mean they attack. It just means they notice something. In this case, it's the sound of a female elf's voice. Anyway, the ones close by all failed except the one you attempted to charm. And, he failed his save vs. the charm too. So, he heard you, but then he fell under your spell.]

    Isilme casts Message, and tells the orc to summon all the rest into the chamber. The orc says something to the other three before it tosses the one it was holding right through the doors. It flies through the left door, ripping it clear off its hinges. She hears other orc voices from inside the room. The charmed orc then turns and waves at the one across the plaza, at the SW part watching the south street. That orc looks around, then starts to come over too.

    Using the "message" spell in place, she tells the Orc to "ensure all nearby orcs are ordered to muster inside. Leave no one on guard."

    With the orcs gathering to the south, Berenn and Noot move up to the corner. The others sneak up along behind them, keeping their light sources well back out of the way. The orc sentry starts to move that way, then all of a sudden it tumbles to the ground in a heap!
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:07 pm  

    Weird, again it made that strange bug error. Hm. Well, above's another update! :)

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    Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:48 pm  
    Re: Part 16 - The Upper City

    ragnar wrote:

    That is a very cool picture of Wee Jas. Smile

    You might also like the one we used for the cover of issue #1 of the Canonfire! Chronicles.

    Edit: Drat! The link to the C!C isn't working at the moment. Sad

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    Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:30 am  

    That wasn't Wee Jas. :) That's actually Ranet. One of the things I was playing with in this adventure is the "ancient" Suel deities. I made them slightly different from what they have now become in the Flanaess, hence the slightly different symbol.

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    Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:45 am  

    ragnar wrote:
    That wasn't Wee Jas. :) That's actually Ranet. One of the things I was playing with in this adventure is the "ancient" Suel deities. I made them slightly different from what they have now become in the Flanaess, hence the slightly different symbol.

    Okay. Makes sense. Smile

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    Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:08 am  

    Personally, I liked the Mac Treasure! :)
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    Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:08 am  
    Part 18 - Markessa's minions

    With the orc leader charmed, and the orcs gathering in one place, Isilme flies inside, following the other orc. Two orcs are on the floor, and there are 11 orcs inside all total. You can tell the leaders; they are bigger with better weapons and armor. You can't understand what they are saying, as you don't speak orcish. However, the one you charmed is arguing with the others.

    Isilme uses the running message spell to talk to him. "Tell them Markessa told him to do this after a time. If they disobey and make him angry, he shall use the magic she
    gave him. Now have them line up for inspection and new orders."

    He says what Isilme ordered him to say. The orcs look confused, and they argue in orc.
    The orc Isilme charmed clearly is trying to get the other orcs to all follow her orders. They mostly do as orcs gather from the other rooms in the building. Isilme catches the name Markessa, or something like it, and see what looks like relief on the other orcs faces. One orc turns to go out. It heads outside, and turns around the corner to go down the alley, to where the big orc was originally standing. The orc that leaves seems to be obeying as well; at least they don't seem to be arguing.


    Berenn cannot tell what's going on. However, based on what he sees with his infravision, something has dropped from above and enveloped the orc. It's writhing around on the ground, covered up by something.....

    Hepla flies forward and lands in the street, where she casts Tongues. As she lands, suddenly Vaddara and Elrae both get hit by something, and Emyn has just enough time to see them get wrapped by what appear to be cloaks before their lights (Vaddara's shield and Elrae's sword) both are covered and the area goes pitch dark! Vaddara takes [6] and Elrae nothing due to his Stoneskin.

    [DM OOC: If it's confusing, that's understandable. Isilme is just inside the doorway, in the building with the orcs. The rest of the party is back up the street. Vaddara and Elrae just were hit by something and borne to the ground. Their lights are covered and it's pitch black. Emyn caught a glimpse of what looked like blankets suddenly covering both of them before their lights were covered up.

    Those who were down the street a bit (Berenn, Noot, Rakk, and Thorgrim) who were hiding in the dark right around the corner from the orc, notice that the light behind them suddenly went out and they likely heard something, some kind of muffled grunts/thuds. They can't actually see Elrae and Vaddara, but they know something just happened.

    Berenn was watching the orc rolling around on the ground, also covered by something. It was grunting and struggling, but Berenn couldn't tell what was happening to it. Something was wrapped around it; he could tell that much with his infravision, but couldn't clearly see what it was.

    Everyone (including Isilme) also hear a low moaning sound, though they can't exactly tell from where it is coming from. It's definitely outside.

    Everyone who heard the moaning (which is everyone!) suffers a -2 to all attack and damage rolls. Also, inside the room, two orcs move off after talking to the charmed leader. One goes north and one goes south, and they both turn west. They call out softly, so they must be summoning more orcs. The orcs all hear the moaning outside, and instantly take up defensive position. One runs across the plaza, totally ignoring the one that was attacked on the far east side of the plaza.]

    "I'm going to see what's going on," Thorgrim whispers. He heads back towards Vaddarra and Elrae. When he sees what's happening, he will call "Trouble!" in a low call or strained whisper, then draw dagger and attack.

    Thorgrim turns and moves up a bit, trying to see what's happening. When he can see around the corner, he sees Elrae and Vaddara on the ground wrapped up in what look like blankets. Their muffled cries from within tells him something's wrong, so he flips up his eyepatch. This blinds Emyn temporarily (this round) as his eyes have to adjust. Elrae and Vaddara are, indeed, wrapped up in some kind of blankets. Noot stays and looks around the corner. He's out of the light, so he can see with his infravision. He sees the wrapped up orc stop struggling.

    Vaddara takes [7] more from something biting her, while Elrae again takes nothing thanks to Stoneskin. They cannot use any weapons. Elrae tries to break free but he cannot, while Vaddara quickly realizes she cannot cast any spells either, being so completely wrapped up. They are virtually helpless.

    Inside the room (and known only to Isilme) the orcs start stuffing their ears with some wadding. What it is you can't be sure.

    Elrae struggles to get free. "HELP!!! I am trapped and something is biting me!" Except it comes out more like, "Helmmmph. Mmmm rpppddddd nnnn sommmph sss itttnnn mmmm!"

    Berenn is about to cast Silence back around Vaddara and Elrae when he realizes the moans are actually coming from above, and seem to be everywhere.

    [DM OOC: I would point out, wandering around the subterranean city with continual light spells, or any light for that matter, is pretty much like having a big blinking neon sign that says, "food here!" for all the things inside.]

    Berenn sheaths his MW longsword, and with his free hand summons a globe of silence, centered between Elrae and Vaddara. This also encompasses Thorgrim, who moves around to the earth elemental and tells it to rips the things off them. [It won't be able to respond until NEXT round though.]

    Rakk draws his dagger so he can see, and sees one up above. He fires his crossbow at it one-handed, and hits it square in the face [12]. It's moan instantly turns into a shriek and it flies up in to the darkness.

    Vaddara and Elrae both are continually bitten, Vaddara taking [4] and Elrae none again.

    Noot moves all the way up to where he can see them. With a dagger in each hand, he is unsure how to help, so he tries to pry one off Vaddara. When he gets close, he sees red glowing eyes on it, looking at him from the folds of the creature. Two whip-like tails he didn't notice earlier flash out, each hitting him [4] and [3]. He isn't able to pry anything.

    Hepla flies back over, ending up overhead, just out of the silence area. She also looks around for the other one that flew away, but cannot see it.

    Iislme tells the Charmed Orc to order the orcs to stand fast defensively while he uses great magics. She tells it to move to the doorway and wave his hands and point outside, at which point she casts a continual light spell at the ledge of the building above the doorway. This really impresses the other orcs. She then flies outside above the doorway on the outside. She sees an orc inside the doorway at the end of the south ally. She also sees an old grizzled orc coming out of the building to the NE, about 10' away. He looks like a shaman.

    "Gtm mmm thmmm offammmm" Elrae yells as he tries to remove the cloaker off of him.

    Vaddara is continually bitten [6] as is Elrae [0 again]. Noot backs away as Hepla casts Magic Missiles at the cloakers [yes, that's what they are]. Three streak into the one enfolding Elrae [4] and [0] to Elrae. Two hit the one enfolding Vaddara [3] and [2] to Vaddara.

    Thorgrim takes out his dagger, steps up, and stabs at the one attacking Elrae. He hits it for [3] and [3] to Elrae [guess his Stoneskin's over!] He is attacked by two whipping tails but both miss, slapping harmlessly against his armor.

    Berenn attacks the one holding Vaddara, missing. He is hit by one tail, which narrowly misses his eye [10: x2 crit]. The Earth Elemental then moves up and rips at the one holding Elrae, but it fails to grab it. Emyn tries to hack at it as well, but he misses.

    Rakk reloads his crossbow, keeping an eye on the skies, while Ralph bites at the one holding Vaddara [3] to it and [3] to Vaddara.

    Isilme casts Charm Person, successfully charming the orc shaman. She tells the Orc shaman, "dear friend, get inside and support the Orc saving his arms in the doorway. He holds the approval of Markessa." She sends the shaman to join the others, telling him to make sure everyone is together. She then flies off to rejoin the party. There she sees them in the middle of some kind of fight, though she has a hard time understanding what's happening at first. Only after does she see that Vaddara and Elrae are wrapped up by cloakers.

    "Brace yourselves for magical fear if you can," she says. "I intend to try and drive the cloakers away. And leave the orcs be; I've charmed their leaders."

    Noot moves away, backing off to look back around the corner. He sees the dead orc lying there and no sign of the cloaker.

    Rakk and Hepla stay back, hearing Isilme's voice, but everyone else is inside the silence, so they hear nothing. Thorgrim steps back out, realizing he is doing more harm than good. The elemental fails to grab hold of the one wrapping Vaddara as they flop around. It is attacked by a tail, but with no effect. Emyn attacks it as well, hitting it with his sword [3] and [2] to Vaddara.

    Ralph continues tearing at it as well, doing another [1: finally see the benefit of rolling a "1"! split in half, Vaddara takes nothing!]

    Berenn backs out of the silence area to cast a spell too. He then hears Isilme say to stay clear. Hepla casts Pacify while maintaining her flying position above the fray. The one attacking Elrae lets go rather than bites him, and it flies up and away. Rakk takes a shot at it as it flies up and away, but he misses, his bolt flying off into the darkness.

    The last cloaker continue its attack, and Vaddara takes [4].

    Isilme summons Maerthorlear's Emotion ability, and the sword sings a calming effect. The cloaker is not affected, though Vaddara and Emyn are. Ralph bits at it again, missing, and is hit by two whipping tails [8 total]. Vaddara takes another [5]. The elemental then grabs hold of the cloaker and successfully rips it from her [7]. It then tears it to pieces, and the thing lets loose a horrible shriek as it dies! Which of course nobody hears in the silence! Vaddara is unconscious.

    Thorgrim drags her out of the silence area, where he and Berenn can cast some curative spells upon her.

    Emyn says, "Those creatures were fearsome. We should be on our guard for more."

    "I'm thinking surprise is lost," says Rakk. "Do we want to just attack the orcs?"

    Isilme flies down so the party can hear her. "I have charmed a couple orcs, the leader and shaman. They are gathering all their forces in the large building off the plaza. I cast a light spell above the doorway."

    "Should I change into Markessa now?" asks Hepla. "I'm sure I can fool them, but what is the plan?"

    Emyn says, "Should we not interrogate the two charmed orcs first to determine what Markessa was up to before you try to impersonate her?"

    "Markessa does not explain her actions to underlings," Hepla says.

    "I should speak with the charmed ones first," says Isilme. "Find out what those orders are. The more information we have before you impersonate Markessa, the better job you'll do."

    "I suppose we should find out if they know anything or maybe what forces they have left," says Berenn.

    Isilme flies back out to the plaza where she can see into the room and spot the shaman. Using her Message spell which is still running, she messages him to go back to his quarters and await her there. The shaman then leaves and goes across the plaza, stealthily watching the skies and around, and enters the building across the way.

    Isilme then goes to question him. "What do you know of what Markessa was doing or searching for here?" asks Isilme.

    Luckily, he speaks halting common! He shrugs. "She did no tell us things. Just go. She came look something, then left."

    "What were your orders and why were you left here?" she presses.

    "She tell us, search city. Find ancient magics." He shakes his head. "Find only dead. We end up down here, down long slide. Cannot get out."

    "Where is Markessa now, where did she go?"

    "Don't know," he says. "She never come down here. Saw paintings on wall, then left."

    "What is the best way to communicate with or find Markessa on the surface?"

    Again, he shrugs. "Don't know. She come get us. Promise us riches. Gives us death."

    "What paintings did she look at?" asks Isilme. "Where? Did she go somewhere else after this or vanish afterward?"

    "The painting was in a palace on the surface. Then she just vanished! We not told anything else." He shrugs, "She doesn't explain, just orders."

    "I will lead you and your people out," says Isilme, "and I need you to show me this painting." She will tell him to return the group and prepare them for the arrival of a Drow Agent of Markessa and her guards. While the shaman returns to the orcs, Isilme returns to the party to share what she learned.

    "Sounds like she split in a hurry and left these poor bastards to die," says Berenn.

    "Clearly Markessa was not down here," says Isilme. "We can easily get back down here when we are ready, but I am here to track Markessa. I will not explore the entire underground when my goal is in sight. I am going to pursue this lead."

    "I agree," says Berenn. "Lets head back to the surface."

    Emyn agrees too. "The surface is better though I dislike the idea of setting the orcs free."

    With the rest of the party in agreement, Isilme sends the priest forward to prepare the orcs for the arrival of Markessa's drow agent. She will gather the party, drop invisibility, and enter the room alone, greeting the priest and warrior she charmed.

    In common (order the priest to translate as well), she says:

    "I have been sent by Markessa to find her great magics and lead you as I see fit. I am disappointed to find a group of "warriors" cowering in fear underground. I will lead you back to the surface, where we will search the area again. Perhaps there you can redeem yourselves and show yourselves of worth. Those who serve me faithfully will get the riches they were promised. Those who betray will also get the reward they deserve....death."

    A half orc steps up. He is apparently this group's actual leader. His name is Graako. He is a thin, violent-looking figure with black leather armor and a couple of long blades on his hip. Of course, he is totally cowed by this Dark Elf agent of Markessa, and only too happy to order everyone to follow. The orcs are joined by two ogres as well.

    "Outside are my personal guard," she motions for the group to step into the light. "Follow me now to the surface, or stay and die." She yawns as if these orcs are petty and beneath her. She turns to the charmed warrior, "form them up and move out in a defensive grouping following my lead." She turns to the shaman and says quietly, "stay by my side, and once we reach the surface lead me to the painting."

    "Move out!"

    She will use her innate ability to "dispel magic" to put out her continual light at maximum range once everyone is out and moving. Together everyone marches back to the tower. There they can use the archway to regain the surface.

    Once on the surface she address the group of orcs again. She draws Maethorlear and says, "You found yourself trapped below without the powerful magics you were ordered to find through failure of your current leadership."

    She casts "hold person" (song) on Grakko, who is frozen in his tracks. "This one must pay for his failures."

    There are 20 orcs and 2 ogres. They are all totally relieved to be on the surface, and couldn't care less about what happens to Grakko.

    Isilme points at her charmed warrior. "You will lead in his place, and bring your troops to glory and riches... do not fail me. Who among you will not follow my chosen?" When none say anything, she glares at the group with an evil sneer. "Then take your rightful place warrior, she says to the charmed orc, "and behead this failure."

    It happily beheads its previous leader, and after this is done Isilme turns to the priest. "Lead me to this painting."

    They take you to a half-ruined palace. It is here that you see the evidence that the city was not built by the Suel, but rather by another people, before them. Despite the partial rebuilding of the city by the Suloise, one can steadily discover convoluted wall writings and bas-relief murals from a civilization older than the Suel, revealed by the partially collapsed walls. The spirally-convoluted script is definitely NOT Suel. These bas-reliefs are not enhanced by any type of paint. Artistic themes include battles of huge cats versus men and animal-headed men, animal-headed spiders and spider-men versus flying men. Another enigmatic theme is the battle of flying fighters and a wizard with a gargantuan octopus sporting a gem with eight beams above its eyes. The winner of the battle seems to be the wizard, trying to take the gem.

    "After seeing this, Markessa left,," he says. "That was two weeks ago."

    You note that the language is an ancient form of Flan. You've heard it called Ur-Flan or Ur-Flannae. The Ur-Flannae were rare mystics, sorcerers, wizards, and necromancers among the ancient Flan tribes and kingdoms. Some of the more notable Ur-Flannae included Vecna and Keraptis.

    [DM OOC: It doesn't say anything that is worth me making up right now. It was the image which made Markessa leave.]

    "Sounds to me Markessa is after the gem also," says Vaddara. "Emyn's future probably depends on us getting their first."

    Rakk is laughing,"Yes, Emyn's fate and Markessa's are tied, it seems. So the run to stop Markessa, save Emyn and release the demigod are one. Just have to win the race."

    "So how can we possibly find this gem?" asks Thorgrim. "Consult sages? They know next to nothing."

    "I know where this Soul Gem lies," says Elrae. "Remember when we were in Hardby and we were asking about the Star Cairns?" After a couple people nod, he continues. "There was an old man there who told us the story of the the Ghost Tower of Inverness. He said it guarded a Soul Gem."

    "I recall something of the sort," Thorgrim says. "Our path seems clear: we must make all haste to the Bright Desert. If we had chosen to investigate rather than rush home to Hommlet, perhaps this trip into the Suss could have been avoided entirely. Though it was not without its rewards."

    Hepla looks at the picture of the gem to see if there is anything distinctive about it. She will try with that mental picture to, and once again use her crystal ball to locate the gem.

    "If you wanted that to work, you would need to take the crystal ball to that god in the lake and have him scry his gem for us," says Isilme. "Pretty sure HE has seen it," she says sarcastically, looking at Hepla with an arched eyebrow.

    "Worth a try," Hepla replies, putting away her crystal ball.

    Berenn creates food and water for as many as he can ... softly muttering something about "There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man. We're all gonna die."

    [Isilme OOC: OOC: We should wait outside and beat her **** and take the gem after her battle. She should be lower level then us, not having done all these kick **** mega-adventures like we have since we last saw her, but I doubt it works that way......]

    [DM OOC: Yeah, somehow badguys constantly increase in levels too. Bastards!]

    "With a two week lead the only way to even have a chance of beating her there is flying in a direct line with the speed of a dragon, and if she is using teleport magic or flight magic also, there is NO chance," says Isilme. "Does anyone have any ideas?"

    "There is always a chance," Thorgrim says. "We still must try. Without her Orc army she might fail in the attempt. She might succeed and still be unable to use the gem. She could be delayed in a thousand ways. Also, what makes you think she knows the location of the Soul Gem? She may have returned to her base in the south Suss to do further research. Although it doesn't seem she keeps a base at all, anymore, after our having destroyed the last one."

    Emyn says, "I think we have an advantage here. Markessa probably does not know where the gem is located, while we do. Her head start was probably spent on research. We need to cross the rest of the Suss to get to Elredd and take ship to Hardby to investigate those Star Cairns."

    Hepla remembers her augury from before the party entered the Suss. It showed them crossing a large body of water, and she now realizes that was not the Jewel River at all.

    "Could some of the mages not polymorph into flying things and cut her off at the pass sort to speak giving the others time to catch up?" says Noot, who then goes back to kicking the dirt and looking like he is not paying attention.

    "Probably not Noot," replies Emyn. "We have no idea where she is, so we only have a general sense of where she is going."

    "Well if we have determined where we are going perhaps we should get started," he says. "I don't like this city."

    Rakk speaks up. "If she wishes to bring an army, she will be traveling much slower than we can. Even if she doesn't, she seems to prefer to send others into danger first. That means she is unlikely to be speedily acquiring anything, assuming she knows where she is going. Thus, we should try to get to this 'Ghost Tower' as soon as we can. If nothing else, to catch her before she leaves. Unless you wish to drop chasing her and allow her to go freely where she will, and I gather that is not your desire."

    Just after the party steps outside, it starts to pour rain, extremely hard and lots of it! They go back into the building where they rest and heal up.

    Emyn says, "I hope this isn't the start of Zendrelda's flood."

    Later on you see a familiar face step out of nowhere, it is Brytallis, your old traveling companion from a couple years ago!


    Brytallis is Burne's apprentice now. He explains that Lareth came looking for Burne, but the old man was in Verbobonc. Brytallis was understandably wary of Lareth, having heard of what transpired in the Moathouse and the untimely death of poor Spugnoir. "Alas, I knew him well." However, he did go with him, and was shown the mirror. Seeking into it, he found he could scry those he knew. He scried Gotrek, for who could forget such a character. He saw him amidst a group of dwarven warriors, but ascertained that he was not actually with the rest of you. Thus he scried Elrae, the bard who had made such fun of him when he left the group. He gives Elrae a bit of a glare. However, he saw you all just sitting around, and with much trepidation, and even greater assurances by Lareth, he stepped through the mirror and found himself here.

    Return to Hommlet
    I assume you all step through without a moment's hesitation. The orcs and ogres are left with orders to head back home. They would be only too happy to get out of this foul place! Thus, one way or another, the party suddenly finds itself back in Hommlet, at the home which Isilme has had built. They appear in her island sanctuary. I'll assume you all leave and head back to the Trading Post to deposit your money and then to the Inn.

    Hepla notes that Star is not around.

    Thorgrim will check in on Lyseios to see how he's doing, and to see if he's been able to produce some Potions of Healing or Extra-Healing in our absence, from the Community Treasure Fund, which funds to be reimbursed from those desiring potions. He will ensure that all party members have two weeks' food provisions for the difficult journey ahead. He will replace all the mundane items he discarded in order to make room for the massive treasure haul.

    "We can likely re-supply in Greyhawk City or Hardby," he says. "Not sure if we'll need horses, but I suppose that will halve the time needed to get to Verbobonc. We can always trade them in for camels before we hit the desert. I look forward to meeting with Lady Huerta again."

    Thorgrims finds that Lyseios has created 6 Potions of Healing and 4 Potions of Ex-Healing while you were gone. He distributes them amongst the party. The money they found is then deposited in the Trading Post. The party has big plans for it all, but there's no time. Soon as they are able, they leave for Verbobonc. They are in "hot pursuit!"

    Thus we finish the Lost City of the Suel adventure....for now....
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    Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:35 am  

    Follow the continuing adventures of the Heroes of Hommlet as they set off for the Ghost Tower of Inverness, hot on the trail of the vile Markessa. Can they get there first? Can they gain the Soul Gem and save Emyn? Follow the link below to find out....
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