Saturday, February 07, 2009

This explains so much... Two Lumps, February 7, 2009.

Friday, January 11, 2008

[ Out of Character ] Humor

Whenever something odd or unusual (for us) happens in our D&D game, Phil (who plays Dorben) will trot out a favorite phrase... It goes something like this.

Chauncey and Edgar are elves, with old-school-tie accents.

Edgar says... "That's not something you see every day, Chauncey."
Chauncey says... "What's that, Edgar?"
Edgar says...
  • "A glowing halfling riding a priest."
  • "A half orc in braids and satin pants."
  • (you get the idea - fill in the blank)
When I saw these cats, I had to caption them in honor of Chauncey and Edgar.

The second photo refers to the timeless quote (from the bard) in our previous campaign: "I have gerbils, and I'm not afraid to use them."

The threat was sufficient to reduce a barbarian to whimpering surrender...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dorben, entry 39 ---7th Eleasis thru 12th Eleasis--- Into the wilds of Vaasa… Where did this road come from?


*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
7th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Well then, the first day of our expedition into Vaasa is drawing to a close. I must say this is a cold and miserable place. Frozen muddy tundra as far as the eye can see and most of it currently covered with some three inches of rapidly melting snow. Aedron had a personal encounter with the frozen bogs some time back, which led to his prior demise, and none of us care to share that experience. It sounds as if these bogs are almost on par with planned traps; frozen crust just thick enough to carry ones weight for a handful of steps before giving way and dropping you into the depths of nearly frozen muddy slurry below. It sounds to me like some terrible cross between drowning and being buried alive. I shudder just thinking about it. The bogs are, of course, a large part of the reason we elected to board our mounts back at the Gate and proceed on foot.

Despite being boot leather bound, which is freeing in its own right in a way, we have made decent speed. We moved northeasterly as soon as feasible so that we might skirt the edge of the foothills to find more solid ground. By our estimation we have made perhaps 10 miles distance from the Gate. For the most part, the day has passed without incident and we have made camp in a good sheltered spot. I will admit that my back and legs ache a bit from carrying the burdens which would normally be entrusted to my faithful steed. But it is a healthy ache, honestly earned from a good day’s hike. My watch comes soon enough. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
8th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---We have been fortunate enough to have another day of uneventful travel and made decent speed once again. We have gained another 8 miles into Vaasa along the base of the foot hills. Illandria cast a Lay of the Land spell to try and gain some idea of what the path ahead might hold. She said that the spell revealed little of use to her at this time however; just what we assume to be the predominantly half-orc settlement of Palischuk to the northeast. She said she would try again tomorrow or perhaps the next day.

One other small development. Since Nia’s Soulbound weapon has given us the ability to psionically enhance our weapons she has been instructing us in how to gain psionic focus and maintain it. Some of the others have gained their focus almost effortlessly while others struggle. Thus far I have been unable t0 turn my mind to the correct path to find success in this endeavor. I think tomorrow evening I shall gaze upon the flame of one of Emah’s candles. I believe that perhaps the positive energy from the candle may help me find my concentration. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
9th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Another day, another glorious walk with friends. There are times that I wish I could feel the breezes of nature more fully but then I remember all the times my wonderful armor has saved my skin and turn my face to the breeze to more fully enjoy what I may. We again made good time today and we estimate we have traveled perhaps 12 miles this day. The scenery has changed little if at all; hills and mountains on our right and flat, frozen bogs to our left. Only the open sky looks inviting.

Illandria cast Lay of the Land once again this morn. She explained that the radius of the spell spreads out some fifty miles and we were not close enough for the spell to detect Talagbar before now. Her spell showed that there is definitely a sizeable settlement in the area where we believe Talagbar to be.

We encountered another traveler about midday. We were just cresting a rise that swept down and then up again in the distance. It was along the crest of that further rise that we spotted somebody approaching. It did not appear that this newcomer had spotted us and we took cover. As this traveler came closer we were able to make out more details. He appeared to be a much larger than average orc wearing rough outdoorsman garb and armor, well splattered with mud, and sporting one of those double battle axes slung across his back. At first I believe the general guess might have been that this newcomer was a half-orc with ogre blood, but as he approached more closely, it seemed that he must have been of stone giant blood.

There was a bit of whispered conversation before the traveler got too close and we decided that this person was most likely from the half-orc settlement of Palischuk to the northeast. After Aedron rose to make himself known and hailed the traveler we soon learned that our thinking was accurate. They conversed at first in some Giantish tongue but switched to the Common parlance soon enough.

Our new acquaintance is named Golschuk and he is indeed from Palischuk. He is something of a fast footed scout/messenger, making his way to the Vaasan Gate to bring word of a great horde that passed by their territory and is even now making itself comfortable in the ruins of Talagbar. Golschuk related that one thing that stood out as strange was that the horde was moving a large stone obelisk with them through the tundra. Reportedly, the obelisk was carved over virtually its entire surface with the symbols of many different gods. Being as how these things can sometimes become important, the obelisk was described as being 5 feet by 10 feet by 45 feet long, cut of an unknown stone. After passing on his information, Golschuk bid us fare well and continued on his way to the Vaasan Gate.

The rest of our day passed with no incident of any significance. The scenery is lovely in its own austere way I suppose. I have hazarded a few sketches but nothing of great detail really. After all, there is only so much one can do with the brown and gray palettes. We estimate our travel has covered some 12 miles today and I give all credit for that accomplishment to Aedron, Illandria and Meg. Together, they are most likely as close to the perfect trail blazing team as one is likely to find. I believe I would recommend any of them to Father to lead the protection team on any of the family’s caravans. Well, I suppose that problems could very well arise due to some of the… personal details of Aedron and Meg’s lives, but they are both greatly skilled in their own right and definitely good people. Despite any questions any of us might have, we trust them with our lives on a more or less daily basis. I think that is enough for this evening. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
10th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---We came across the back trail of the Blizzard Army before midday today. Indeed, it would have been difficult to miss even had we not been looking for it. Where our course intersected the trail was where they had departed from the foothills and turned northerly along the edge of the fens. The trail is the width of a large and regularly traveled trade route, pounded down by many myriad boot soles, carts and wagons and one very large sledge. Other than the fact that their boot tracks looked to be of more solid “civilized manufacture” rather than what we consider “typical rough humanoid make”, we still have little clue as to whether this is an invading force or refugees from Kho’s world.

Only further travel and exploration will show us what we need to know. We believe our feet trod some 10 miles this day. Except for the new trail, the scenery continues to be more of the same. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
11th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---We continued to follow the Blizzard Army’s trail until we were within what we judged to be approximately 10 miles of Talagbar. At that point a second trail departed from the main, turning westerly out into the bogs. The trail out into the bog appeared to be that of the sledge and perhaps 100 beings of various sizes. After some deliberation, we decided to follow the trail out into the bog. Our decision was at least partially predicated upon curiosity as to what they were planning to do with the monolith carried upon that sledge.

It soon came to our realization that the trail we were following was not simply bog matter trampled down into some semblance of a trail; no, this was an actual path of firm dry ground. Our conjecture is that they are using some sort of Mud to Earth spell variant; perhaps there is an enchantment upon the transport sledge?

However it is that they are making their way, the sledge and accompanying entourage seems to be covering only about 5 miles per day. We came to the departure of the trails a short time before nightfall and so, despite moving at some double their speed, we were only able to gain a bit of distance on our quarry before needing to make camp. In fact, we are using what certainly seems to be a former camping site of the sledge part some several nights ago. Illandria has found several unshod prints and was able to identify at least a kobold and several giants among the other “average” humanoids. One might presume that these were members of the entourage who shed their footgear while relaxing around the campsite at the end of a full day’s trek. The fact that Illandria has estimated one of the giants at the size of a large cloud giant or perhaps a storm giant has me hoping more and more that these are peaceable refugees. I do not relish the thought of a pitched battle that includes several creatures larger and nastier than Aedron. I suppose one can always live in hope. This is enough for today; my turn at watch will come soon enough. Oh yes, one last thing. I believe we covered about 10 miles again today, although part of that in a northerly direction and then the last bit more westerly, as close as we can figure. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
11th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Evening Addendum
---We were roused from our beds during first watch by a trio of strange wraiths attacking from the bogs. Cooperation between more or less mindless undead creatures seems simply impossible these creatures certainly did seem to be doing just that. On the other hand, it could have been nothing so much as their close proximity that produced the effect we observed. And what we observed was greenish balefire similar to that which we have observed before but these were not the same as the last creatures we encountered that used balefire. We did presume that the effects of the green fire would be the same as last time and took precautions against contact. Our compatriot from the cat tribe, whom we have been referring to as Junior because of his apparent youth and eagerness, was the only one amongst us to suffer the corrupted wounds. He was not too grievously hurt and I his wounds should recover quickly. One strange thing to add about this encounter; these bale-wraiths, if that be the proper term, were attacking us with psionic powers. Nia recognized the “feel” of their powers. Phah! As if undead weren’t bad enough; now the bloody bedamnable things are using psionics!? Ah well, morning shall be here soon. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
12th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---We have stopped again at one of the sledge team’s way stops. We should make contact with the troops accompanying the Obelisk on the morrow. Thanks to Illandria and her companion Onyx, I have had a bit of a closer look at our objective. Shortly after we arose this morn, Illandria cast Speak with Animals so that the language barrier did not impede her giving instructions to Onyx. She asked Onyx to fly ahead and look for the Obelisk and sledge and I would be able to see through her by using a Chain of Eyes spell.

Scouting through Onyx’s eyes proved quite useful and instructive. She found the Obelisk and its entourage some 20 miles ahead of our position. It would appear that they are in the process of raising the Obelisk into an upright position through use of some magic but largely through main force and engineering. Even from the heights where Onyx rode the winds high above, I was able to easily make out some half dozen or more giants among the work gangs.

Onyx was able to get close enough for me to make out some VERY interesting details from the site. The first thing to catch my eye, so to speak, was a gnoll wearing the holy symbol of Angharradh, the elven triune goddess. And it did not appear that this creature was simply sporting a war trophy taken from some unfortunate. In fact, the gnoll appeared to be wearing the symbol with all proper reverence, at least as far as I understand from my studies of elvish religious trappings.

Also, the Obelisk was carved over virtually its entire surface with the symbols of many gods which I recognized. I was able to identify the symbols of Chauntea, Kossuth, Lathander, Mielikki, Mystral, Silvanus, Eldath, Lliira, Shiallia, Sharindlar, Thard Harr, Angharradh, Rillifane Rallathil, Baervan Wildwanderer, Sheela Peryol, Yondalla and Luthic. There were others which I was unable to make out and still others that were blocked from my sight by position or strappings and such. It seems to me that all the gods represented carried Spring, Nature, Growth, Fertility and the like within their areas of influence.

It would certainly seem that these beings have plans to build a community. Perhaps the Obelisk is to serve as some type of protection or way-marker? The specifics still remain unclear at this time. It does seem obvious that while there was not much magic being used in the raising of the Obelisk, there was a fair amount of magic active within the stone itself. Even as I watched through good Onyx’s eyes, several of the holy symbols kindled and lit with a magical glow. Something is happening with that Obelisk but I have no feeling of wrong from what I have seen. Some of the beings we spotted did seem to be wearing clothing similar to the make and style worn by Kho’s people, so again, I am fairly certain that we are dealing with refugees from that frozen world. Whether this proves to be for good or ill is still to be seen.

I continue to pray that we will have a peaceful first meeting. My hopes are at least partially pragmatic and selfish. In that, I would like to continue to live and enjoy the company of my good friends. For in all truth and frankness, I do not believe we would long survive a pitched fight with the forces which I have observed. We could perhaps make some dent in their numbers through use of hit-and-run guerilla tactics but we would be doomed if we were to fight them en masse. We should finally find out for certain some time tomorrow. There was no way for us to catch up to the Obelisk raising site before dark. We shall camp and martial ourselves for our meeting upon the morn. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dorben, entry 38 ---5th Eleasis thru 6th Eleasis--- To Vaasan Gate to prepare for scouting expedition into Vaasa

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
5th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Once again my companions and I find ourselves at the Vaasan Gate at the inn called The Wall. Meg was hale and hearty this morn after a full night’s rest and it was a matter of only a few minutes conversation for us to all decide to carry on with the scouting mission into Vaasa. The possibility that the Blizzard Army might be refugees or an expeditionary force from Kho’s frozen world does seem a real possibility to my thinking.

During our ride toward the Gate we discussed what should be done with the hides that we seem to be accumulating. Illandria really has done quite a good job of curing and tanning the hides into useable leather, despite their fiendish origins. Although it seems a bit frivolous, we did finally decide that the hides of the two hellhounds and the Nessian war hound will be used for rugs when we finally have a sitting room with a nice large fireplace. They are already impervious to fire so having them as fireplace rugs seems useful. We are still discussing whether or not the heads will be kept intact. As for the fiendish dire bat hides, their leather will be put to some more practical uses. Namely gloves and the like to be made from the wing leather and several fireproof bags of various sizes from the rest. One never knows when something like that might come in handy after all.

Our ride to the Gate was not all pleasant conversation. We were making good time along the road with Aedron making the snow clear itself away in front of us. We had traveled perhaps half the distance between Keep and Gate when Aedron’s excavations uncovered some half dozen or so bodies lying in the road. They all showed signs of having died from exposure during the storm. An inkling of movement had us thinking there might be some slim chance of survivors but that was not the case. The frozen corpses arose from the road surface and moved to attack us.

The animated corpses did not attack quite the same as other zombies and the like that we have encountered thus far. There was something different and it was not long until that difference was exposed. We were holding our own fairly well when Aedron heard the faint sound of laughter off to one side, away from the fight. He used his powers over snow to uncover an ice mephit that was making use of magic to animate the corpses, not as undead but more as animated objects. I believe that power came from the staff the creature was holding tight to and that we recovered from its body. I shall cast Identify in the morning to verify.

After dealing with the mephit, we set to work giving its poor unfortunate puppets a more peaceful rest. I have made sketches of each person as best I could in hopes that the authorities here or back in Bloodstone might be able to identify the fallen and notify their families. We prepared a funerary pyre and I said prayers for those passed so that they might go on toward the next step in their path in more peace than they left this one. There was no need for us to apply normal flame as it turned out since Onyx descended upon the pyre, instantly setting it into full blaze. The bodies were reduced to naught but ash in no more than half a minute and then Onyx returned to her roost near her mistress. I asked Illandria to pass along thanks to her avian companion since a normal bonfire would have taken hours to do the same work.

When we arrived at the Vaasan Gate we found the town full near to bursting, the whole place packed virtually cheek to jowl with army troops. What with all the troopers and the caravans of their needed goods, it was looking as if we might have a hard time finding boarding room for the horses. But all was well for Nia was able to “negotiate” a friendly stable master into submission to find us stall and paddock space and Meg and I were able to haggle his prices down so that we were only paying the normal going rate rather than one and a half times the norm. It isn’t as though we couldn’t have afforded the inflated rate after all; it’s the principle of the thing. It is just fortunate that Nia is so well known and liked amongst the city guards and merchants. If not for her we might never have been all day about simply finding a stall here and there to accommodate our steeds.

As it is, we have rooms at The Wall once again and will set about making final purchases for the expedition over the next day or so. Aedron has made contact and arranged an appointment with the dwarf mithral smith tomorrow and we will be disposing of some extra equipment and the like that we have accumulated over the last little while. I must off to rest I suppose. No Nia for me this night. I believe she said she was going to spend some time with some soldier friends and see if she couldn’t get the “lay” of the land, so to speak. Ah well, all good soldiers should have such a friend. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
6th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting

---It was as if today were market day with all the coin and goods changing hands all hither and thither all around us. I began the day by casting Identify several times to examine some things we had come by recently, mainly the weapons from the dismembered ghost, and my castings verified a few assumptions. The items all carried the Ghost Touch enchantment of course. It was decided that Meg should have the longsword and I was fairly easily convinced to make use of the shield. I had been contemplating a nicely enhanced buckler to lighten my load but I must admit that this new shield’s usefulness against the incorporeal undead made quite a strong point. I was completely won over when thoughts of the use of translucent paint upon the slightly glassy and semi-transparent steel led my mind down very interesting paths of artistic endeavor.

Meg achieved top dollar from the sales of our accumulated loot and then made out to fill the supply list we had all put together for the expedition. Meanwhile, Aedron and I made our way down to his acquaintance, Gilbert the mithral smith. Aedron did not exaggerate. Gilbert is perhaps one of the strongest looking dwarves I have ever seen. Aedron picked up the bucklers we had commissioned some time ago and we asked Master Gilbert if he might give us any advice on the armor taken from the fiendish orcs. Despite the fact we had cleaned all the items as best we could, Master Gilbert still said he could detect the “orc stink” upon them and quickly grew fairly perturbed about that. He identified the strange metal as something called Hizagkur, which it turns out, is something of a dwarven alloying secret. He said that he doesn’t deal in this metal but he could direct us to a dwarf who does. He handed us several bottles of a strong smelling oil and said to apply this to all the items before we went to see this other dwarf. He said the oil would remove the orc stink and advised us to be sure NOT to mention the orcs at all to this other smith.

Our dealings with the second dwarf went quite successfully. He seemed glad to take in what amounted to a fairly large deposit of this somewhat rare material and we were able to chivvy a bit of information from him about the material as well. I shan’t go into all the details here since I am not writing some discourse on metallurgy. Our impromptu tutorial did convince us that we would accept several daggers made of this material in lieu of part of our payment. He said that more than enough material could be scavenged from the one breastplate to make fully ten daggers of this fascinating alloy. He assured us that they would be of fitting quality to receive enchantment if we so chose but just as they were they would carry a special quality to them. He explained that any strike with such a weapon would also carry just a bit of fire and electricity to the wound as well, without any enchantments. It is some naturally occurring quality of the metal itself. Our fine weapon smith estimated that his crafting should take him no more than a tenday and he assured us that we would be well pleased with our purchase. I believe that will be so. I look forward to seeing what artistry he will bestow upon us.

I believe that is all for now. I caught a fleeting glimpse of Nia perhaps once or twice during the course of the day. She seemed tired but happy. I hate to cut her fun short, but I think we will be ready to set out either tomorrow or the next day at the latest. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Dorben, entry 37 ---4th Eleasis, Addendum--- Even with thoughts of fear, one still fights to protect a friend

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
4th Eleasis, Evening Addendum


---It would seem I perhaps ended my earlier entry a bit too soon for the likes of the events of the day. Not too long after we had trussed up Meg and begun her long term care, Nia reappeared amidst a flash of rainbow light. It took several minutes to relate the events of the day. Whereupon, she decided she absolutely must see this statue of herself and immediately set off for the Tower, with Illandria and Kaliki to keep her company. Upon their return to the Gatehouse, Nia set about investigating Meg’s pack, as we had been planning to do but had somehow forgot in all the excitement.

Putting aside the personal items, our search was for clues, not loot, we were most intrigued by the books we found. We were looking for information that might tell us what was happening with our friend and books do so often hold the bits of the story one needs to find. After some examination, two of the tomes proved to be spell books. Completely to be expected amongst the belongings of a mage of course. The other books were a bit more intriguing. It appeared that they might have been scribed in more than one language AND in some sort of short hand or code.

The more common translation spells are, of course, virtually useless for interpreting any sort of cipher or code, but not so the clever and inquisitive minds of a halfling and a zeph. Sa’d, having finally returned from the Tower, found the puzzle of the book code a challenge worthy of effort and Nia’s interest was soon hooked as well. Although it took them the better part of the day, they were able to crack the code, more or less, and glean some information from what appear to be Meg’s own journals. Unlike mine, they do not ramble on quite so much but instead seem to be fairly clipped and precise. They were able to find entries dating back to the early 1350’s and they did not believe these were any sort of historical reference. The entries appeared to be first hand accounts. We had only just begun to consider the ramification of these findings when someone called out that there was something “big, white and scary” approaching the Keep.

Nia was the first to light out, with the rest of the crew hot on her cute little heels. We took more prudent approach vectors upon sighting the creature. It was quite large, with insect-like features and all white. I shall have to do further research but I believe it was some sort of ice devil and quite a good sized specimen of its type. Nia approached the creature more or less openly and tried to speak with it, using some psi ability to enable her to understand its language. She translated that it said it had come for the blood of Gallus, or some such and was quite insistent that it not be dissuaded from its quest.

We were not entirely sure exactly who or what the Devil was looking for but we suspected that it was referring to Meg. With nary a word passed amongst us, we were of an accord; no matter what kind of odd things were going on with our friend Meg at the moment, she was never-the-less our friend and we would fight to protect her! And so, the fight was on, as they say. And it proved to be a hard fought battle, at least on our part. In hind sight, it seems that the ice devil may not have actually been putting forth much effort at all. We were being hurt simply by being within close proximity to the creature. Except for Aedron of course, who has since left the anguish of frostbite far behind him.

It was toward what would prove to be the end of the battle when our troubles with the bone searing cold came to an end. Our salvation came in the form of Peekaboo, bounding along and leaping from one of us to the next, carrying a spell from its mistress. It seemed that Meg had been freed with Peekaboo’s assistance and had sent Boo out with a spell of Cold Resistance that was passed on to each of us upon whom the bodiless cat landed in its bounding. The spell certainly helped and we finally hurt the ice devil enough that it faded from this plane. The face of a gigantic infernal insect is all but impossible to read, but it seemed that the creature left more from frustration than anything else. However it came to be, I believe we are glad that the creature is gone.

There is more to relate but my most immediate concern at the moment is my patient, whom I shall have to tend to presently. I should make note that the wetted blankets worked quite well in keeping Meg immobilized. What we had not taken into account was the camp cot upon which she had been resting; a cot we shall now have to repair. It seems that Meg’s liberty from her sick bed had been accomplished through the expedient of Peekaboo methodically clawing a split down the middle of the cot underside and Meg falling down through the resultant hole. I shall endeavor to remember this for any possible future need. As it is, Meg’s liberty proved to be our salvation. But more about that shortly. Now, the needs of my patient call. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Dorben, entry 36 ---4th Eleasis--- To follow, wonder about and perhaps even fear a friend

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
4th Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Strange, mysterious and disconcerting things are afoot. Some mysteries from the past of one of our own have brought to light some concerns. But then she does something that most likely saves all of our lives and we are unsure what to do. And to think, when the day started we were just looking to pick up Sa’d from his trip to the Tymoran temple. The great wager between the temple hierarchy and the local thieves’ guild head had evidently come to an end. Reportedly, the temple treasury had been emptied and a single black chest left behind. A black chest that had not been in the treasure vault before hand. From what we heard through Sa’d, the chest contained a single coin; an artifact of the faith returned to the temple in some way involving the wager. From the glances we caught through the crowd, I would imagine that Lady Luck’s clergy consider the emptying of their treasury as money well spent. The last we heard was a rumor that the coin may have at one time been in the personal possession of their goddess. Quite a find for them if it proves to be true.

As we made our way toward the market place it occurred to us that neither Nia nor Meg were amongst our number. It took only a few moments’ experimentation to ascertain that our Soulbond connection with Nia was not active and therefore, she was most likely where ever the Keep sends us when it has need of our services. I shall not go into detail as to the experiment other than to say that any sort of tumbling pass while in heavy armor is far beyond my abilities and that it is a good thing I do not embarrass easily. Assessing our connection to Meg was somewhat more difficult since we were not willing to simply attack some random passerby.

When last we spoke Meg had mentioned going to the market place to purchase odds and ends for our ensuing expedition to Vaasa, so that is where we began our search. It took us some time to speak with a good deal of people but Kaliki was able to find a lead. She learned that Meg had been there, the description of her physical appearance and her bargaining acumen were spot on, but had departed suddenly and with great speed. The merchant said that Meg stopped her conversation suddenly, looked as if she wanted to make sure somebody had not seen her and then left, just like that. And that struck the merchant odd because the only persons in the vicinity at that moment had been a gaggle of children.

We returned to the Silver Stallion but found no sign of Meg, only Peekaboo, who seemed a bit anxious for us to make haste. We were packed and ready to leave within moments and left forthwith for the Keep. The going wasn’t terribly fast as our trackers were keeping an eye out for any sign and our only real clue was Peekaboo, bobbing along ahead of us. Incorporeal or not, it seems that Peekaboo still has to deal with deep snow in about the same way as any other small feline. Which means, it walked atop the packed snow and bounded like a sounding porpoise through that which was loose powder. And that is how we made our way until perhaps halfway between Bloodstone and the Keep.

It was at this point that Onyx swooped down from on high and came to Illandria with something of a sense of urgency. Illandria cast a Speak with Animals enchantment and then related to us that Onyx had told her that someone was following our backtrail. Illandria and Kaliki faded behind us with their companions, Onyx and Ebon. They later related to us that they had found a spot where the trail of whomever had been following us simply ended. All around that spot, a great deal of Scentbreaker powder had been spread around liberally. Illandria could find no tracks and Ebon’s nose was rendered useless by the pungent aroma of the scentbreaker. With no more they could do about the interloper, our quartet of nature defenders returned to us and we carried on.

As we had suspected, Peekaboo led us to the Keep. Our comrade the Shaman we left with his tribe in the Gatehouse as we continued within at Peekaboo’s insistence. Our next stop was the main building and thence inside. Even with no tail to twitch and swish insistently, it was plain that our phantom feline wanted us to get a move on. We soon came to a room we were familiar with but Peekaboo did not wish to go the direction we had thought. Instead, after some rather prolonged searching, we were able to locate a release for a secret spiral staircase that ascended into the Beacon Tower above us. It had been our intention to explore this tower for some time but it seemed like something more urgent always came up that kept us from that task. All that was behind us at that moment as we made speed up the spiral of masterfully wrought stairs.

Our ascent ended in a room we estimated to be perhaps a level or two below the beacon flame. The first glance when we exited at the top of the stairs revealed open sky. A second glance of course verified that we were in a circular room with outer walls made almost entirely of glass. The view out onto the countryside was quite breathtaking, I must say. The view inside the room was fairly interesting as well. Scattered about the room were pedestals, the top of some graced by statues. It was the subjects of this statuary garden that brought us to a halt. For there were statues of each member of our little troupe, but not exactly as we stood there and then. They were not so much idealized images, as are many pieces of art, but it seemed that they showed each of us at a possible future perfect moment or possibly offered a glimpse within our innermost image of ourselves. I am unsure.

The statue of Aedron showed him in the classic scout or hunter’s pose; on one knee, looking off into the distance. But standing behind Aedron, one hand resting on his shoulder in an approving gesture, was an unmistakable representation of the Frost Maiden. This was a somewhat different image than I have seen before however. Where as most imagery I have seen of the Maid of Ice have shown her as a slender, regal and even on occasion petite, verging on fey, this representation showed her as a female of similar proportions to Aedron himself. The face also seemed somehow different from the typical effigy. Whereas most show her with a facial expression of delighted fury or haughty indifference, this statue carried an expression of cool approval. I wonder as to just how Aedron’s tribe sees their aspect of the Frost Maid?

Illandria’s statue showed her in a classic archer’s pose, mid draw, with Onyx rising behind her, its talons resting upon her shoulders. In the representation, Onyx seemed to have gained somewhat in size and its wings framed Illandria like a great cape. Again, there seemed to be something more to the imagery that I could not quite grasp. An ephemeral something for which a definition escapes me.

The next statue that came to my notice was that of Sa’d. Or should I say, of Sa’d and his nemesis Das. The statue tableau showed them facing each other, seated on opposite sides of a gaming table. Sa’d was shown about to lay down the high card to win the game with one hand while about to flip that ever present coin of his with the other. Das was shown throwing dice while also ready to flip a coin with the other hand. I would guess that the piece represents the dichotomy of their ever ongoing oppositional relationship; forever after linked as the opposite sides of the same coin.

The statuary representation of Nia was also not alone on its pedestal. The representation of Nia, in all her robust good health and good nature, with a pleased ‘devils-take-the-hindmost’ grin well in place, was faced by another figure. The secondary figure was kneeling before Nia, draped overall by a voluminous cloak. It would seem this must be some representation of Nia’s erstwhile secret admirer, as the figure was holding forth a perfectly formed purple rose for Nia’s approval. Unfortunately, even after changing my angle of view I was unable to make out any real details of the Admirer. In fact, the folds of the carved cloak showed no occupant. All in all quite mystifying although Nia’s image certainly did seem pleased.

Kaliki’s statue came to my notice next. It showed her in something of a casual pose, Ebon close at hand. Ebon’s image showed some signs of growth as his shoulder looked to be close to that of Kaliki. One could not help but take away a sense of merriment from the grouping as Ebon, as big and strong and vicious as any apparently larger than normal timber wolf, was shown in something of an ‘overgrown puppy’ moment. Ebon has been known to engage in such playful pawing and mouthing in real life more than once. I believe “glompfing” is the term that Kaliki has used in reference to this playful gesture of affection. Very cute, even if he is a fairly large and efficient predator.

My own statue nearly brought tears to my eyes. It is a beautiful rendition of the way that I sometimes feel inside. Or at least, the way that I wish to be worthy of each day and night. The statue showed me in a reverent stance, possibly praying while looking forward, as if seeking the path of life ahead perhaps. The moving part of the statue was the figures which surrounded me, seeming to bolster and strengthen my stance. One image for each of My Lady Selune’s beautiful aspects. Each a wonderful representation of that which cannot truly be defined. I was moved, truly moved.

I might have taken out my drawing kit to begin sketches of the statuary garden if not for what else we found there. For it seemed Peekaboo had led us true and shown us the way to its mistress. For kneeling before one last statue was Meg. The face of the statue certainly looked like Meg, although there was perhaps a noticeable difference in age. But this carved version of Meg was shown wearing full battle armor; the armor of an army officer, perhaps even a general. But most troubling of all was the likeness carved standing directly behind Meg, almost as if her shadow had been supplanted by this other creature. For creature is the only word that seemed to fit that which we saw. It looked to be something from the lower planes but none of us could say for certain whether it be demon, devil or otherwise.

We approached our friend to ask what was the matter. As she turned we could see that she was weeping tears of blood. She began to talk but we could not understand the painful syllables she uttered. A spell of Comprehending allowed one of us to understand and translate for the rest. I was so caught in the moment that I cannot say for certain who cast the spell other than I am fairly sure it was not I. We guessed the language as some dialect of Infernal. As Meg continued to speak, it became clear that she was telling a story. Her story told of a great conflagration that wiped out some 3000 souls along 50 miles of shoreline. Kali related that she believed this might be in reference to something that happened on the shores of the Lake of Steam some two decades ago. Meg went on to say that an oracle stated that only a direct descendant of Galus can make their land recover. She said that all of the bloodline have died and only when the flame rules again will their land recover. Again, I was concerned and caught up in the moment and was unable to gather every specific.

It seemed that Meg was telling this from a point of personal anguish. As if she felt in some way responsible for this shore side slaughter of some two decades past. It made me wonder just how long Meg had been dead before she returned to life in that morgue chamber with the rest of us. Most of us had met our premature ends just a few weeks or perhaps a month prior. Perhaps Meg had been passed a bit longer than the rest of us?

As Meg spoke, more crimson tears made bloody tracks down her cheeks and dripped freely from her face. The tears smoked as they hit the floor. Flames began to roll from her eyes as she continued her story and smoke leaked from her mouth. At that point we had begun to back away cautiously from our friend. We knew not if it would become necessary to fight our companion or to simply contain her while she was overcome by what could be classified as some sort of magical fit of madness.

Meg began casting and Aedron’s cat whisker quick reflexes spurred him to attack, soon followed by the rest of us in one form or another. The attacks were unable to interrupt the spell however. Meg successfully completed her spell, which at first I thought had been a Gate but instead seemed to be some variant on a Dimensional Door, as she stepped through the radiant point and was gone.

Peekaboo once again led the way, insistently gaining our attention and bounding down the stairs to the lower reaches of the Tower. Boo led us from the Keep and directly to a large drift of snow. There was a fairly large hole in the top of the bank and steam seeped upwards from below. We dug into the snow bank and soon uncovered an unconscious and still somewhat warm to the touch Meg. We removed Meg to the Gatehouse and made her comfortable as well as secure. We bound her hand and foot and covered her with several layers of wet blankets. The blankets are an immobilization technique I learned in my healer’s training; often used for those incoherent and thrashing from fevers. And indeed, Meg did seem feverish. I began treating Meg’s symptoms and continue to do so even now. We are keeping watch over her even as we guard her from harm. Odd circumstances, I must say.

Sa’d has elected to stay in the Tower for now. After some consultation amongst ourselves, it was agreed that the spell Meg cast did indeed look to be a Gate spell, however she might have used it. With that in mind, Sa’d felt more comfortable keeping an eye on the spot where the spell was cast, just in case something decides to come through after all. I believe that is all for now. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Dorben, entry 35 ---3rd Eleasis--- Questions about great white lizards and a trip to the city after the blizzard

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Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
3rd Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Today was full of information and possibilities. We have returned to Bloodstone for the nonce. A few things of definite interest have transpired. Firstly, we were awakened this morn by a representative of the catfolk tribe. I would endeavor to call the people of the Snow Tiger tribe something other than simply “catfolk” but their word for their own species translates more or less as “the People”. So, simply using the easiest reference shall have to suffice for now. Thankfully, Aedron has been able to cobble together some understanding of their language and is able to speak it, after a fashion. I believe the contortions he is forcing upon his voice box may be close to doing him an injury judging by some of the sounds forced from his throat in the pursuit of understanding. As far as I have been able to surmise, most of our “normal” humanoid languages are also all but impossible for the catfolk to pronounce, although some of the tribe have been able to learn an understanding of the Common tongue as well. I believe a hard palate may be the problem in their case and the lack thereof is ours. Although there is little if any chance that I may be able to ever pronounce their language, I shall be doing my best to learn to understand it in the near future.

But our linguistic bridge head is neither here nor there at the moment. As mentioned, one of the tribe came to our “camp” in the gatehouse. Through Aedron’s translation we learned that the envoy brought word that the tribe wished to know if it was acceptable for them to hunt the “great white lizard” they had spotted outside the Keep. Since there are only so many creatures that match that description, and virtually all of them are terribly dangerous, we rose quickly asked for further explanation.

The tribal delegate indicated that they had sighted such a creature not far outside the walls of our Keep during the night. We were led out to where a large tree had been uprooted some time during the hurricane force blizzard. Even I was able to recognize the tracks found around the hole left where the tree’s root ball had ripped free. The claw prints were of a gargantuan scale. Illandria and Aedron identified the tracks as those of a white dragon, which put short shrift to my mistaken impression that most white dragons simply don’t survive long enough to achieve such growth. Obviously and disturbingly, my impressions were faulty. From what evidence we could find, it appeared that the wyrm had flown in, supposedly during the teeth of the blizzard, retrieved something from the root ball hole and then simply flown away once again. Unfortunately, there were no clues within the hole to ascertain with what the dragon has absconded. Aedron advised the tribe that while it would be acceptable for them to hunt white lizards such as this, it would, however, be inadvisable for them to hunt a white wyrm of this size. They decided that they would heed our advice, at least until their shaman returns. These allies of ours are truly formidable creatures.

It struck us as important to bring word to nearby Bloodstone of the presence of a creature such as this gigantic white dragon within their demesne. Aedron used his powers over snow and ice to make a casting of one of the prints and we wrapped it for travel. We secured our areas of the Keep and were soon bound for the nearby city. Even with Aedron’s ability to sweep great swaths of snow from our path, our travel took twice as long as we normally would have expected. The blizzard had left a blanket of snow higher than the belly on a large horse and I hate to think how long it might have taken us without Aedron and his gift.

Paying to keep our rooms at the Silver Stallion on a long term basis has proved to be a useful expense. The possibility of purchasing or leasing a townhome within the city walls has occurred to our group more than once. For now, the Silver Stallion suits our needs. As soon as we arrived, we sent a messenger straightaway to request an audience with the General. With that done, Sa’d decided to pay a visit at the local temple of Tymora and Illandria elected to accompany him, while the rest of us made ourselves comfortable in the Silver Stallions common room.

While we waited, a delivery arrived for Nia. She quickly unwrapped the parcel and found a nicely crafted though plain wooden box within. Within, the box was packed with powdery snow and nestled within that chill embrace was a single rose carved entirely of ice. Nestled within the rose’s bloom was a single red ruby. Quite a nice gem actually. It would seem Nia’s secret admirer has made them self known once again. Nia is thoroughly charmed, and then some.

A return message from the General arrived little more than an hour hence and we made our way to the castle. Illandria and Sa’d were returning to the inn just about that time and joined us. Along the way, Sa’d and Illandria related that the Tymoran temple was currently deserted and surrounded by guards as part of some elaborate wager between their high priest and a member of the local thieves’ guild. The particulars of said wager were not readily available but supposedly the “payoff” will be astronomical. I have no idea, nor is it any of my concern beyond Sa’d’s interest in the matter.

We were ushered soon enough into the General’s office even though his aides looked somewhat askance at the rather large and slowly dribbling bundle Aedron carried in with us. The General and his Bodyguard ascertained the gravity of the situation soon after the casting of the track was unwrapped for viewing. To say that the General seemed less than happy to hear of something of this size and supposed ferocity in the area of his city, is a bit of an understatement. But other than being forewarned to keep a weather eye out for the beast, he agreed that there was little could be done about the matter.

With the matter of the white dragon out of the way, I related to the General the details of the latest dream sending. While I spoke, we noticed that the movements of the Blizzard Army had been marked out on the large map adorning one wall of the General’s office. They had indeed moved NW along the edge of the mountains into Vaasa. When we expressed our sorrow at the loss of the General’s scouts in the mountains, we received quite a surprise. The General disclosed to us that ALL of his scouts were hale and hearty and had sent reports within the last few days. They had no recollection of the time between the rising of the moon on the first night and their recent awakening. It seems that each and every scout had been disabled, kept incommunicado for the three days and nights of the full moon and had shortly thereafter awakened under shelter, none the worse for their long naps. This fairly peaceable way of dealing with “enemy” scouts raised some questions and we excused ourselves for just a moment to speak privately amongst ourselves.

This new turn of events had put a different spin on things. The images we had seen had definitely included some large “monstrous” humanoid outlines. Normally, this would lead us to think that the scouts would have been dealt with in some terrible manner. But we began to think back to our acquaintance with the civilized goblins of Kho’s tribe. The great tempest of snow and ice blasting through the cliff side gate could very well have come from a land under constant assault of cold, as Kho had related to us. So we began to think that perhaps this gate was not a portal for some invading frozen army, but perhaps an exploratory or perhaps refugee expedition instead. After all, it is easier to simply kill an “enemy” scout than it is to incapacitate them and then provide them with shelter from the freezing cold. We discussed this quickly among ourselves and then agreed that we would tell the General of our experience with Kho’s people, although we also agreed that we would NOT mention the volcano.

After relating to the General the story of Kho’s people and their frozen world, we made an offer. Since it seemed to us that there was a possibility that the Blizzard Army were actually refugee’s rather than invaders, we would be willing to volunteer to make the trek into Vaasa to scout out these visitors and ascertain their intent. The General said he wouldn’t try to dissuade us. After all, as he pointed out, he was not in command of us but simply someone to whom we felt the need to report on occasion. Then again, he wasn’t about pick apart a gift when it was offered. He said that he thought we might possibly be mad, but we had been right before. And if we go to scout the Army in Vaasa, that’s a set of troops that he can commit elsewhere.

With our “marching orders” set before us, we made our way back to the Silver Stallion to begin planning for the trip. And that brings my scribblings more or less to the present point. Sa’d and Illandria have set off once again on a “special shopping trip” of some type. I believe they might be looking for some extradimensional storage device so that we might more easily carry supplies and equipment on the forthcoming travail. We have agreed that we will take the horses only so far as the Vaasan Gate and then stable them there while we take foot into Vaasa itself. The temperatures are rapidly returning to the summer norms; which means that a great deal of the land we shall find beyond the Gate will be mud fit to sink a horse to its belly and deeper. Aedron and Illandria agree that we will be better served to simply make our way carefully by foot. If Illandria and Sa’d are able to find one of those wondrous extradimensional bags or packs it should make it that much easier for us on our endeavor.

Nia also set off on a shopping trip of her own; although hers was actually more of a quest for a skilled craftsman. The ice rose which her secret admirer had gifted her had been slowly but surely melting all day. She is hoping to find a master artisan who works in glass or crystal who will be able to duplicate her beautiful clear rose. She seemed confident that she could find one here in Bloodstone city. I hope she is successful. The rose was really lovely work and it would be a shame for the sentiment to be lost.

Hmm, it seems a small bit of a wrinkle has been added. Little more than a small bump in the path really. Kaliki and the Snow Tiger tribe’s shaman just now appeared within the common room. The cascade of rainbow light gave us ample warning to keep the other guests from becoming too alarmed. That calm was almost lost when they almost caught a glimpse at our comrade the Shaman. His instincts proved him true and he quickly made himself invisible and unobtrusive while we calmed the room and made our way to the rooms upstairs. We quickly brought them both up to speed, with no delay for translations since the Shaman has picked up the Common tongue in his absence. Kali was most concerned about the presence of the white dragon as the creature somewhat offends her druidic sensibilities. White dragons do tend to be somewhat of the rapacious type of dragon after all; wreaking havoc and the like. However, as far as we were able to ascertain, the white wyrm had left the area and is not our concern for the moment. We had a bit more of a discussion about our scouting venture into Vaasa, mainly agreeing to stop at the Keep only long enough to reunite Shaman with his tribe.

Sa’d and Illandria have returned from their shopping trip, evidently successful. Almost as soon as they had us in private, they produced a bag and asked that all with spells ready examine the bag’s aura. But it had none that we could detect; yet it was demonstrably larger within than without. The intrepid duo related the story of how they had tracked down a small shop with a bit of an odd reputation. Something within infused Illandria with some abject but unnamed fear upon entry and she could not reenter the store. Sa’d was however able to steel himself and deal with the proprietor, of whom he gave only the vaguest description. Ah well, yet another little mystery for us to ponder while we make our way along our path of adventure. I believe it is time for me to stop for the evening, as we will be making an early start tomorrow. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dorben, entry 34 ---2nd Eleasis --- Inventory, Blackblades, Paranoia, Identification and Corruption; all in a day’s work.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
2nd Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting


---Our inventory of the gatehouse supplies was more or less finished last evening with little problem and more than a little effort. I had intended to scribe an addendum as soon as we had finished but I must admit I was simply too done in. Meg’s incomparable quartermaster skills and my own journalistic bent proved excellently complimentary and we now have a very passable record of the mundane supplies held within the gatehouse storage locker, all nicely catalogued and diagramed. As first surmised, we are quite well supplied as far as non-perishables such as weapons, ammunition, oil, rope, cauldrons, repair materials and the like.

The contents of the Secure Room proved… less than mundane. We found most of the containers in the room (boxes, crates, barrels, and kegs) were labeled in a language none of us was able to recognize so Sa’d made use of a Comprehend Languages spell. I gave him a wax marker from my art supplies so that he might mark the containers with their Common translation as he went. We found containers marked ‘Lightning’, ‘Fire’, ‘Black Oil’, and ‘Gelled Fire’, as well as several kegs and barrels which were unlabeled. All showed some level of enchantment to our Detect Magic spells and we have already agreed that I will make use of several Identify spells on the morrow so that we know just what it is we are dealing with. I was able to recognize the Black Oil right off hand actually. Almost a joke substance, it is completely frictionless for a short time after being applied. It does not have the longest effective span but it can prove quite useful under the right circumstances.

The real stumper in the Security Room was the chest we found which bore an arcane mark and multiple magical locks and seemed for all the world to be secured to the floor by some unknown means. Thinking caution should be our watch word, we removed the rest of the storage vessels from the Secure Room and Sa’d set about trying to open the chest. It turned out that we were very fortunate that he did not bypass all of the enchantments laid upon that chest, for we are fairly sure at least one of those spells is what kept us from being annihilated. When Sa’d opened the chest he found nothing, or perhaps I should make that, Nothing? The chest apparently contains a portal to some Void and the presence of a Wall of Force, perhaps several, layered one upon another, is all that kept us from being drawn quite forcefully through that tiny aperture. That chest is now relocked and further secured as best we were able to manage.

There were two small chests all but identical to that with the arcane mark. They proved to be more mundanely secured. One proved to contain a good deal of beneficial potions, judging by their auras, and the second contained potions with an aura of divination magic about them. We’ve not the time to delve into those quite yet as we have what we judge as more important and immediately useful uses for Identifying magics. The crates and boxes eventually panned out in this way: “Lightning” held a goodly number of fine javelins which we suspect might turn out to be Javelins of Lightning. The “Fire” boxes contain crossbow bolts; “Acid” contains spheres of a size and shape to make them handy as either sling bullets or good throwing stones. One last box proved to be tightly packed with thing rectangular metal bars of a purplish pink color. Again, these items have been set aside to be further identified on the morrow.

Possibly the most peculiar discovery in the containers found in the Secure Room proved to be a few small casks, slightly larger than the typical handkeg. We tapped one cask with a small brass spigot which we readily found amongst our now properly inventoried supplies. What poured forth from the spigot was a very fine white powder. For some reason, Nia felt this was a fine time to start tasting things found in a weapons cache, dipped finger to the powder and then stuck it to her tongue before any of us could even think to stop her. She paid for her curiosity at the cost of some of her faculties as the unknown substance coursed through her system. Although it might not prove to be a poison, per se, it certainly had that effect. I believe the symptoms can be described as an overall numbness and deterioration of both gross and finer motor control. In sum: she became clumsier and more slow moving. Well, at least as compared to Nia in fine health. She could have most likely still out thrown me at the darts board. Be that as it may, spells and treatment were quickly applied last eve and I have finished treatment this morn. She is again in fine health and, at least for Nia, back to normal.

Our inventory done but for the finer details of the items found in the Safe Room, we bunked down in the officers’ quarters of the Gatehouse. Illandria made use of the long garrison room that stretches the length of the front of the Gatehouse to lay out and stretch the fiendish dire bat hides. The finished leather should bring fine market value and add a tidy little stipend to our coffers. The possible monetary return doesn’t seem to be the main concern of any of our group however regarding the hides. All in all, the feeling is that we are happy that we “aren’t wasting anything” by making use of the hides ourselves and giving the meat to our barbarian comrades. Just the fact that they area able to consume fiendish meat proves their toughness as far as I am concerned.

But the inventory, however interesting it might have been, was not the “thrill” of the evening. Oh no. The thrills for the evening were to come toward the end of our 2nd night watch. Illandria and I had the duty and she was going up to the roof to call Aedron for his turn. Considering the hurricane force winds that were buffeting the Keep, I secured a rope between Illandria and myself before she ventured away from the cover of the roof door. It just wouldn’t do to lose her to a simple wind after all we’ve all been through.

Aedron was on the rooftop communing with the freezing storm evidently. Now that the heritage of his frost giant blood seems to have fully manifested the cold holds no danger for him whatsoever. The wind however still had some chance to blow him away. But we needn’t have been concerned with the storm so much. It was the black silhouette we found standing directly behind Aedron, its long cloak not in the least bit ruffled by the winds of the corporeal world, with which we became concerned. Its identity was assured as it drew forth twin curving blades from its own substance. Blackblades had returned and was stalking our friend. Illandria immediately drew her bow and fired one arrow after another into the fell spirit as she called at the top of her lungs to warn Aedron. Although her shots struck true, they seemed to barely faze the wraith. It turned toward Illandria and then simply sank down through the roof.

It took only seconds to realize that where Blackblades had sunk through the rooftop was directly above the room where our friends lay sleeping. From my position just inside the stairwell I called out with every bit of voice I had at my disposal. I called out “Awake! Awake! Blackblades is here!” as the three of us rushed down the stairs to the aid of our sleeping comrades. We entered the office/quarters in time to observe Blackblades simply stride past all in the room and through the far wall. We used the Key and followed as fast as we could through the Storage Locker and into the Secure Room. By the time we entered, Blackblades was gone; the only clue of his passage a note left on the small chest with the mage sigil. The note simply read, “Paranoia” and nothing else. So we have established that Blackblades either has a snarky sense of humor or his name is actually Paranoia. Either way, I would prefer to see him gone. There was nothing more to do about it, so we simply returned to sleep or to night watch, as the case may be. The rest of the night passed uneventfully.

In the course of the day, Meg and I made use of every Identify spell at our disposal. All thanks to the Silver Lady for gracing me with such a useful spell. I find the moment of discovery greatly thrilling. We used the spells to investigate several of our own items, which I will not go into detail here as the discoveries have been noted in my other notes, along with the sketches of said items. Suffice to say that our abilities as a team have once again been enhanced.

To elaborate; It seems Sa’d’s scarf has “consumed” the armor he once wore and is now providing him with even better protection. Also, through our connection with Sa’d, the scarf’s magic will now allow us all to call our Soulbound armor and weapons to us with little more effort than it takes to walk. I had read of a similar magical effect placed upon armors before but somehow, this did not “feel” the same. I am fairly certain that if any of us were to call our armor to us while already wearing armor or anything else more cumbersome than an average suit of clothing, the results could be quite painful and most definitely almost completely destructive to whatever non-Soulbound article that might find itself in the way. Not surprising, my investigation of Aedron’s greataxe revealed what seems to be a more powerful manifestation of the burst of coldness enchantment some other weapons carry. Through the axe’s shared enchantment, it would seem the rest of us have gained a bit more skill at pummeling our opponents, as long as such endeavor involves our Soulbound weapons. Lastly amongst our Soulbound items, I examined Meg’s greatbow. My divinations indicate that in the event of an exceptionally well placed shot, Meg’s arrows should knock her target back with a force on par with that of perhaps a small bull. Her bow’s enchantments also should make it easier for she and the rest of our troop to make just such telling blows. Again, the powers of our Soulbound items continue to fascinate and astound me.

I also investigated the metal bars of the odd purplish pink hue found in the Secure Room. It seems that they are some sort of proximity trap. They are placed on the ground, the password is said and the bar sinks below the ground. They are all but undetectable, even to our own fine scouts and trapsmiths. If a being comes too close to the trap bar, it expands into a great “nest” of sharp blades, filling an area of at least five feet square. These should prove useful as incredibly compact, rapidly deployed barricades if nothing else; a truly nasty surprise for any who come too close.

Our spell investigations done, we decided to give another go at exploring the Keep a bit more. The hurricane force winds had finally stopped, which made traversing the courtyard to the main Keep much easier than it might have been. Aedron’s ability to sweep volumes of snow from our path with no more than a gesture made the passage quite easy as well. In the entry hall we found only one of the little living flames floating about. Since we still have yet to make much of a dent in our supply of the candles gifted to us by Emah, I set to lighting and placing more of them as we made our way within and I believe I was not the only one doing so.

As I believe I had mentioned earlier, double doors leading to the interior proper are now at the apex of a grand sweeping double stair. Considering that we had already gone that way more than once, we decided to explore the next most immediate door, which was found at ground level, below the stairs. The more stealthy and quick fingered among us made sure of the safety of the doors as we went of course. The first room we found a bit disappointing as it was all but empty. The one thing in the room was a cat’s-eye marble that I believe Illandria happened to find in one corner.

Beyond that first room we found a long hallway stretching off in either direction. Our first scouting footsteps had gone no more than a few feet when a disembodied spectral head was spotted. For some reason, Sa’d decided to try and strike up a conversation with the awful thing. It turned and its baleful green glowing eyes put a stop to any thought of parlay. A veritable skin crawl of evil veritably seeped from the thing. Illandria got off the first shots, driving the head away and immediately giving chase. Although we heard no sound, the ghostly head made motions as if it were calling out. A short way along the hall was found a side chamber, possibly a station for guards originally, where the head was joined by its arms, one wielding a sword and the other a shield. The fight was short but vicious. At one point, the head tried to escape through the far wall, only to be intercepted by Aedron, who had retreated to the doorway below the stairs in wait for just such a circumstance. He struck the head such a telling blow that it was knocked back through the wall. When the ghostly bits had finally been defeated, we found ourselves in possession of what will almost certainly be revealed as a Ghost Touch enchanted long sword and shield, as well as the arm pieces for a suit of fine armor.

During the fight in the side chamber, I believe all of us had activated the Life’s Grace enchantment my armor grants to us each day. Sa’d had been a bit too slow and the first attack of the Dismembered Spectre had left him with wounds that held traces of the same baleful green energies that wrapped the ghostly guard. It seems certain that all wounds dealt by the ghostly limbs would have festered so if not for the Life’s Grace. All thanks to the Lady for her gifts and guidance. After closely examining Sa’d’s wounds I realized that healing magics would be reversed by that corruption. While I was treating Sa’d by mundane means and using healing magics on the others, a secret spiral stairway was discovered in the side passage where we had been fighting. It functioned the same as others we have found, the stair treads dropping downward in an artful spiral.

One other discovery was made in that cul-de-sac of a side hall. Another cat’s-eye marble was found; an exact match to the one found earlier. When both were brought close to each other for examination they proved to be slightly attracted toward one another. But they resisted being placed closer than a finger width apart. And then they blinked, swiveled in concert and we heard a distinct ‘mew?’ of feline curiosity. It seemed we had somehow come into possession of some sort of a cat that did not entirely exist within our reality. We had suspected perhaps a spectral feline but the creature was in no way harmed by positive energies, nor did Detection spells reveal any evil intent. Meg took a shine to our new discovery and I believe she asked the creature how it felt about the job of familiar. The immaterial cat reacted in a catly fashion and quickly took to riding upon Meg’s shoulders with little encouragement. Although there is no body to be felt, the “eyes” are occasionally obscured and a mouth does appear momentarily to accept offered food tidbits. I wonder from which world this little being may have come. Meg has already decided on what seems a very fitting name; Peekaboo.

Debate arose as to whether or not our explorations should continue or if perhaps we should call things to an early halt. My concern was that if Sa’d were further injured a healing spell could kill instead of save him. The matter was decided when Sa’d said that he was willing to take the risk, at least until we could track down the remaining bits of the Dismembered Specter that felt sure must be wandering about somewhere in this area. We all agreed that this was acceptable and pressed on.

Before exploring the descending spiral stair, we decided to navigate the rest of the hallway. This turned out to describe a large square circuit, returning to the door by which we had entered. We found a good deal of doors along the outer walls but only one on any of the inner walls. Since the door on the inner wall was situated so as to open outwards we decided it would be acceptable to try and open it, hopefully without restarting time within the newly found chamber. That chamber was found to be a long narrow supply closet. We saw no sign of fell creatures within and so entered. Since this closet in no way constituted enough room to account for the large area outlined by the hallway, we suspected a secret door and searched for the same.

The closet was lined with shelves well stocked with linens and other day-to-day supplies of that type. While looking for the suspected secret door, Meg was attacked by what to all appearances was a large blanket. Our thought later was that it might be in some way related to the creatures commonly known as cloakers. The creature was doing its best to strangle poor Meg until Aedron laid hold of it. Its struggles were visible as Aedron held it taught so that the rest of us might lay into its hide for true. I could scarce believe it when I was able to land a quite telling blow. A burst of pale radiance erupted from my mace, which I have since decided I shall call ‘Argent Glory’ from this day forward. The pale glow spread out in the instant and clung to the outlines of all magic and things that were invisible or immaterial. Meg’s new friend Peekaboo was revealed to have what appeared to be simply a goodly sized yet sleek domestic cat. But still, the only tangible part of Peekaboo are its eyes. The radiance also clung to one blanket folded among several others and we retrieved that for further inspection later.

We decided that we would have a look at the spiral stair then. We descended cautiously and as quietly as some of us are able. Part way down we started hearing a sound like regular footsteps and repeated bumping. At the bottom of the stairs we found a room roughly 20’ x 20’ and seemingly outfitted as a barracks. It took no exploration whatsoever to find the source of the sounds we had detected. A headless and armless body, shrouded in the same malignant green glow as the head and arms we had encountered above, was steadfastly marching from one side of the room to the other, only changing direction after striking some obstacle. It struck me that perhaps the head of the dismembered spirit had indeed been calling orders to its arms during the fight above for the remainder of its spectral body seemed lost and without anchor. We put done to that wandering body without really putting ourselves at much more risk. It was fairly simple work for our archers to draw a bead on it with their enchanted arrows and pepper it with shafts until it finally succumbed and faded away. During this fight, Nia discovered that her new bonding with her rapier meant that she must draw the corporeal weapon in order to manifest her Mind Blade.

It was only after the Dismembered Specter had finally been defeated that we realized just how much time had actually passed. I will admit that all the time spent for Sa’d and the others to look for traps and the like is time well spent, but it certainly does take a good deal of the day away. And so, we have returned to camp to tend our wounds. Drawing the corruption from Sa’d’s wounds will take time; the remainder of this evening at least and very possibly the better part of tomorrow. Only my healer’s kit, some alchemical and herbal concoctions and my own skills at my disposal. I am certain it will work. We have decided that since the healing will take some time, we will make further use of the time to further Identify some more of the magic that has come into our possession. That is all for now. My patient’s bandages need changing and then I am to bed. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dorben, entry 33 ---1st Eleasis--- Tragedy, elation and further exploration

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
1st Eleasis, The Year of the Haunting

---As we had thought, the dreams did come. I do believe what was seen is important for the General to know; however, it does not seem to be of immediate concern.

The dream vision began in complete white out conditions. There was a feeling of height even though there was truly no point of reference from which to judge. There was a feeling of cold that cut to the bone. The vision hovered for some time within the middle of what could only be thought to be a blizzard driven by what would seem to be incredibly powerful winds. Then suddenly, for just a moment, the wind stopped completely and then was replaced by what would seem to be the normal wind force expected in the mountains. The snow continued to fall but visibility cleared somewhat. Below, I could just make out some sort of base camp or possibly a small tent city at the base of the cliff face.

The sound of howling winds woke me from the dream vision. It took a moment to realize the tempest was in the real world and not from the dream. The storm we had been expecting had arrived even earlier than predicted. I am gratified that the kingdom was warned ahead of time to prepare for this coming tempest and that we were able to bring needed supplies to our Snow Tiger allies in time.

The keening of the wind was not the only noise that had awakened us however. Illandria and Aedron had detected the sounds of an avian war cry from without and we were roused to investigate. As Illandria had voiced her suspicion, the cry was coming from her companion, Onyx. The large raven had evidently restored the flow of time upon the gatehouse rooftop, most likely simply from following her instincts to find the highest perch. I was attempting to don my armor as hastily as possible, with the assistance of Sa’d, and heard Illandria call to Onyx as soon as she moved out to the wall battlements.

Illandria had called out a moment earlier that Onyx had been grievously struck and I had abandoned my armor and cast Shield of Faith to join the fray more quickly. The next sound heard was the terrible, muffled sound of hollow bones snapping and tissues rent asunder as Onyx was virtually torn apart before her mistress’s eyes. I was mere steps away when Onyx was struck that final blow and I entertained hopes of being able to reach Onyx in time to grab hold of any possible last whisper of life, but I was too late. Her attackers had torn poor Onyx nearly in twain and there was naught I could do for her, other than assist the rest of our company in seeking revenge for her passing.

The attackers turned out to be fiendish dire bats the size of cart horses and twice as nasty. It seemed that they had judged Onyx the only threat and had begun to withdraw to their aerie after striking her down. We would have none of that. Onyx was one of us and there was blood to pay. The rest of the bats had already put the bulk of the gatehouse roof between we and they, but one lone straggler was still within immediate reach. That rotter quickly felt the bite of one of Aedron’s thrown ice climbing axes but still remained aloft and climbing. Nia leapt from the battlement to the beast’s back; calling out “For Onyx!” as she crossed the gap. Or that could have come from my lips. I am unclear as to the particulars of that moment. A crystallized vision of dead bats paying for their attack upon our little comrade seemed our only driving factor for the nonce. I did find presence of mind to cast Fly in hopes of either assisting Nia with the kill or facilitating her soon to be inevitable descent. I was able to cross the divide between us barely in the nick of time. Nia had struck the fatal blow and leapt away into the night sky and into my awaiting arms as the bat’s carcass fell to the ground below.

Illandria seemed grief stricken as she gathered the remains of her fallen little friend and tenderly wrapped them within a thin blanket. As I mentioned, we had the scent of revenge in our noses at this point and quickly came to a plan for an assault upon the aviary to rid ourselves of the loathsome fiend-bats. I kept my Fly spell active as I was assisted in donning my armor and Sa’d then cast his Fly spell upon Aedron. Aedron was easily able to carry Illandria and Meg aloft while I ferried Nia and Sa’d to the roof level. Our initial attack was planned as a swift strike. Aedron and I debarked our passengers only moments before the covey of bats flew out from the aviary to meet us. We had the element of surprise with us and the fiend-bats quickly fell before our onslaught.

As we were clearing the carcasses from the field, I was struck with a sudden thought. Some of the bones of these large bats could be made into scroll tubes that should be very resistant to fire due to their fiendish origin. My friends pointed out that the creatures’ hides might also be sought after for book binding leather for the same reasons. We thought there might be a good deal more uses as well and stacked the cadavers in the lee of an aviary wall so that we might process them later. At the moment, we were more concerned with finishing exploration of the aviary so that we might return to our beds. After all, it seemed the wind and cold blowing in could preserve the bodies fairly well. We found the aviary to be essentially a barn missing most of one wall, providing shelter while allowing the passage of rather large wing spans. We found no sign of the large creature with the long thin beak that we had caught a glimpse of earlier. Perhaps it had been fighting the bats when time stopped for them and simply fled when time returned.

We did find that the bats, or very likely their fiendish orc riders, had stashed a bit of treasure within their lair. Among the detritus we were able to find what has proved to be a Bag of Holding containing an assortment of mundane adventuring equipment. Quite a nice find. There was also a matched set of 16 black star sapphires with a star ruby of the same cut but double the size. One would assume that somewhere in the world is a rather nice necklace bereft of all its stones. There was also a silver ring set with a small clear gemstone that we ascertained held some magic. As soon as possible, we will check these things more closely, along with what we liberated from the orcs last eve. But now, we wish to grasp what sleep remains to us and face the coming day afresh. And thus, I come to the present moment. It seems hard to believe that it has been little more than an hour since the howling winds awoke us. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
1st Eleasis, continued


---Upon rising, all of our company felt that we might benefit from further training and pursued the same. Our passage from our tower to the main body of the Keep would have been buffeted by high winds and snow, the beginnings of the blizzard to come, if not for Aedron’s ability to shape snow to his will. A tunnel through the driving snow traveled with us as we made our way across the courtyard. We found the interior of the Main Hall had changed only little from when we had faced Blackblades there. Where we had last found simply the double doors of the entry hall, we found a Great Entry had been added. We entered to find a grand stair rising in a curving sweep to either side, ending before the entry doors with which we were already familiar. It was really quite stunning, all done in the same blue veined white marble.

Beyond the interior doors we found areas we had already explored; luckily with no sign of Blackblades as far as we could find. We found quite a number of the animated candle flames congregated at the peak of the Grand Entry Hall’s ceiling. The first impression that struck me was of a dancing chandelier. One of the flames zipped down from their assemblage and appeared to be waiting to accompany us within to light our way.

As we returned from our errand within the Keep, a whole flock of the animate flames swooped down and swarmed about the Bag of Holding. Illandria and Nia received minor burns trying to fend off the flames before the Bag was dropped. We observed as the flames combined and moved about in what might have been an elaborate pattern of some type, or might have not. The magical bag was consumed but we found ourselves unconcerned about that loss in light of what we had just gained. For some reason the flames had sought out the remains of Onyx and we observed while mundane appearing flames mixed with what appeared to be dark shot flames until only the dark flames remained. A bird shaped fire leapt up from the ashes and then the flames fell away to reveal Onyx restored and Onyx changed. Her feathers were an even glossier black and one could see fire flickering within. Illandria used a Speak With Animals enchantment to speak with her friend about this development. Apparently, the response from Onyx was that she just couldn’t leave Illandria alone so soon. Which was a good enough response for us. We were simply thankful that our fallen comrade had returned.

Upon our return to the curtain wall tower we have been using for our Base, we took enough time for Meg to add an Identify spell to her repertoire for the day. Our next intention was to face the Ogre Magus and we had obtained a fine bastard sword from one of the fiendish orcs which we thought might be quite useful as a secondary weapon for Illandria. After the memorization, prepping and casting, Meg announced that the grey bladed sword was apparently a Duskblade. She further explained that it held several enchantments and was essentially a non-aligned, dark themed derivation of a Sunblade. Several of us had some knowledge of the Sunblades and this seemed a fortuitous find. Illandria is not often drawn into melee, but now she was armed with a weapon that could be quite helpful in that and other endeavors. Our concerns that the Duskblade might carry evil influence were quickly alleviated and we carried on with the day.

We left the entry door and cage door to the storage locker open for a possible retreat and made use of a few spells in preparation for facing the Ogre Magus. I actually was given the first salvo in our attack, using a Faerie Fire spell to hopefully counter any shape shifting or invisibility on the creature’s part. My spell was unable to penetrate the Ogre’s magical defenses but any abilities it might have used to confuse us were rapidly rendered moot by Illandria’s flashing bow. Her initial volley of shafts riddled the creature through multiple vulnerable points and rendered it quite dead right on the spot. Our next move was to continue exploring the gatehouse while our preparatory spells were still active. It was only later that we would realize the mistake we had made. It had completely slipped our minds that the ogre magi are known as a regenerating species. When we returned later to the gatehouse, it appeared that the magus had departed. I know I would certainly have to think more than twice about returning to a place where I had received such a thorny welcome as Illandria granted to our blue skinned intruder.

As I said, we left the storage cage behind and quickly made our way to the only room yet to be explored on the third floor. Short work was made of the door and attempted to make entry. Our entrance was greeted with an airborne cream pie, some sort of banana I am fairly certain, that evidently felt the need to embrace my face. From the very short glimpse I caught through the rapidly melting cream, it appeared that the delectable missile had been propelled by some sort of tiny fae creature. On the bright side, the pie was fairly tasty and I was treated to the incomparable sensation of Nia licking the last vestiges of the delicacy from my ear. The girl is exuberant and talented. Oh so talented.

The room proved to hold little of interest and so we proceeded down to the second floor, the first to span the distance between the two sides of the gatehouse. Again, the layout of the floor would not only allow troops holding the building to go about their duties but would also delay the advance of any invading troops. From all appearances, this floor had already been explored by our barbarian comrades. With nothing to delay us on the second floor, we soon found ourselves entering the ground floor where we had recently encountered the void wraiths and the animate parchment monster. No such creatures were to be found present upon this visit however. The last few rooms that we had not cleared upon our earlier venture proved to be mostly storage areas.

Having finally “claimed” the gatehouse to our immediate satisfaction, we decided it was time to expand our horizons, as it were. After a bit of deliberation we decided that our next target would be the wall tower directly to the far side of the gatehouse. It seems logical to expand our searches equally. We made our way across the courtyard to the ground floor entry of the tower in question. We had thought to make our way along the wall catwalk but for one problem. At present the tower has only its base floor. In fact, it is a slightly odd site considering that the tower is presently shorter than the wall, giving the slightly comical impression of a smile with a missing tooth.

The entry door was cleared as has become our standard practice and I unlocked the door. Sa’d attempted to open the door without breaking the threshold but was unsuccessful. We were immediately greeted by the ghost of a soldier. There was only a moment for us to register the presence of the ghost before it reacted to our intrusion. The apparition drew its greatsword, took up an engarde stance and gestured strongly and emphatically toward the door, which slammed in our faces.

This interruption gave us time to quickly formulate a bit of a plan. The main point of the plan was for all of us to activate the Life’s Grace ability granted from my armor so as to protect against the soul wrenching attacks of the ghost. The tertiary of the plan was for me to agree to not Turn the thing except as a last resort so that it would not simply flee through the nearest solid surface. The activation of Life’s Grace proved to be a very good idea since the ghost’s first attack would have almost certainly done grievous harm to any or all of us. It was while the ghostly soldier was attempting to scare the life out of us that I, and possibly others, noticed something. It appeared that the make of the apparition’s armor was fairly similar from that worn by Nia’s friends amongst the city guards. The other realization on my part was that this soldier seemed more intent on guarding the tower than in actually attacking us, which to me suggested the spirit of a fallen defender. Considering that we had from all evidence been accepted as the current lords and ladies of the Keep, I decided to try something. In Damaran, and using my best command voice I snapped an order, “Soldier, stand at attention!” The apparition responded as a good soldier, as if he had only just recognized his commander. I believe Nia was the first to best twig to the situation and she called out to tell the soldier that we were there to relieve him; his duty was done. I called out just that and it certainly seemed to gain the result we had been wanting. I believe I detected just a hint of relief pass over the ghost’s face as it faded from view.

A good and thorough search turned up little if anything of interest in the tower base. We relocked the tower and made our way back to the gatehouse by way of our own basecamp tower. We found an interesting “gift” left for us outside the door of our base; several bundles of fiendish dire bat fur and bones. It seemed the carcasses of the creatures had been claimed by our tribal comrades and perfectly rendered of all edible content. We all agreed that this seemed to be an agreeable relationship. If the members of the Snow Tiger tribe can eat such fare, so much the better, since now the meat will not go to waste. It is not as if any of us were going to risk eating fiendish meat after all.

And so we have returned to the upper floor of the gatehouse once again. The storm still rages outside. The winds continue to grow in strength and the accumulation of snow does not seem to have slackened in the least. Illandria has begun laying out the fiendish dire bat skins and bones to dry in the large garrison room. I wonder if the dryness and cold will help or hinder her efforts. Either way, I trust to her skill in leather craft. We plan to use what is left of the evening to begin an inventory of the supplies in the storage cage and the security locker. Even from just a cursory glance, it is easy to see that the supplies are largely what one would expect to need for the defense and maintenance of a well appointed keep. But we wish to collect more detail and create a list so that we know what we have, how much and where. After all, if the gods are seemingly supplying us with a great deal of equipment then it seems reasonable to think that we may have need of any or all of it and knowing how to lay one’s hands on one specific item at a moments notice might prove invaluable.

We have secured the bits of the Keep at our disposal against the storm; “battening down the hatches” as the sailors might say. Even though normal cold cannot hurt us, thanks to Aedron’s armor and our Soulbond, it is still more comfortable to be able to snuggle close to a good fire. The inventory duty calls, and then to bed. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.