Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-4th Kythorn, Year of the Haunting
---Well, yesterday was, how shall we say, extremely eventful. There has also been a rather odd footnote added to our travels. Just as we had stopped within sight of the northern caves Sa’d evidently felt the need to flip that coin of his again and the oddest thing happened. The coin landed on edge and then began to spin in place. Sa’d exploded, not just fell to dust as he has done before, and then the cloud of dust pulled back to its center and reassembled, but not into Sa’d.
We found ourselves facing a different halfling, sans scarf. I’d only seen Sa’d a few times before without that bloody scarf wrapped all about his person but I was fairly certain this was not he. Despite the comments of some drunken wags, all halflings do NOT look alike. This “new” halfling seemed quite cautious of us and had no idea who we were. He said that his name was Das. It immediately struck several of us that this fellows name seemed to be our friend’s name reversed. When we questioned him about his relation to Sa’d he said he knew nothing of anybody by the name of Sa’d, halfling or otherwise. We concluded that this was some conundrum of magic that would hopefully sort itself out as we had no way to correct it ourselves. Das tagged along with us since he was still in possession of that coin and that was our only connection to our friend. We did all seem to take an interest in keeping half an eye on the little fellow though. Something about him just strikes an odd note.
We did not have long to contemplate the appearance of Das as we were soon mobbed by what seemed to be almost the entirety of Koe’s tribe. It was truly surprising when they descended upon us and carried us all inside upon their shoulders. Yes, even Aedron was heaved aloft and trundled into the caverns on the shoulders of quite a few fairly strong little goblins. I would hazard the number as something in the neighborhood of at least sixteen. There was a great deal of grunting but they got the job done. We were treated to what certainly seemed to be a heroes’ feast. I was somewhat saddened to see that little Po, their tribal champion as it were, standing separate from the festivities the entire evening. And I am not only referring to the circumference of open floor that outlined the radius to which Po radiated bitter lethal cold. I mean that on a spiritual or emotional level, he simply was not participating. He was not bothered by having to stand alone. He was not overjoyed at his peoples’ dances of joy and raucous music. Nothing swayed him. I do believe that this must be the manifestation of the price to be paid for being the bearer of Auril’s Tooth. Poor little Po is totally bereft of emotion. A shame that he had to make such a sacrifice to save his people. I hope their songs and ballads remember him long and well.
Koe presented us all with a most wondrous gift to reward us for our venture. He called them soul stones. Each was a perfect tiny crystal clear sphere, seemingly as delicate as a soap bubble but strong as steel. If one were to be dropped within a decanter of clear water you would be hard pressed to spot it. Koe related to us that these soul stones were one of the ways which the people of his world use to enchant magical items. He further explained that any one of us could use a soul stone to add a single enchantment to a permanent construct, be it weapon, armor wondrous item or the like, as long as we were as powerful as one who would normally be able to make such a thing but without our needing to be trained in the ways of creating them. He also said that other than the core item needing to be of master quality, we need not provide the extraneous material components which add so much to the monetary cost of such items. There is another cost, however. As with all constructs of power, one must contribute a bit of one’s own spiritual essence to the mix to bind the magics to their duty. Koe made it clear that the way of soul stone enchanting would require us to provide more of said essence than is normally required. I will think long upon what to use this boon to create. I will have to do some research before making such a decision.
The celebrations lasted long into the wee hours of the night. The food and drink were plentiful and fairly good, although there was one… aperitif which I declined to sample. From what Aedron told me, and I’ve no reason to think he was fibbing, this drink was made from rendered and fermented whale blubber with some other additives. I don’t remember the name and I must say I have NO desire to even approach that recipe. Call me squeamish but I didn’t much care for blubber the few times I ate it during that trek up the Northcoast and I have absolutely no desire to drink the bloody stuff. Oh yes! I’ve just remembered. The goblin bard’s name is Elowin. I simply had to write that down immediately just now while I was thinking of the celebration last night, lest I forget his name again. That has been bothering me for the longest time now. He and Kaliki played some wonderful duets last eve. Speaking of lovely duets, I was finally able to take Miss Nia up on her proposal of sharing boudoir adventures since we were afforded private rooms. I must say, the young lady is energetic, enthusiastic, imaginative, multi-orgasmic and wonderfully vocal. Before we became truly ensconced, she wanted to make sure we had an understanding that this was not any serious romance and that we were only dallying for fun and sport. I assured her that my herbalist kit contains nararoot shavings and powdered cassil herb for a reason and I was not deluding myself that she and I were embarking on some grand romance. But I do think we’ll be able to have some fun with each other in the meantime. And we did.
When we arose this morn, some of us earlier than others, we found our hosts had packed up and left quite early. And apparently, Kaliki had gone with them. She is an adult and I’m sure she’ll be able to return to our sides sometime in the future. We broke our fast quickly and I provided a good herbal hangover cure for those of us who had indulged a bit over much in strong drink. We gave some little thought to exploring the caverns but a strong warm breeze from the south funneling through the caverns quickly changed our minds. The glow from the Core burning to the south was clearly visible so we decided to divert our travail to give ourselves a good wide berth around the conflagration. We made a half day’s loop to the west of the Fire and then returned to our original bearing toward Zolven’s tower. Other than the glow still visible to the north, the day’s travel has been uneventful. I will end my scribblings now as there is naught else to relate and Nia is beckoning. It is nice to be able to occasionally share a blanket and sleep warm on such a cold trail. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.
Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-5th Kythorn, Year of the Haunting
---Compared to the last few days, I today was quite uneventful. Late last evening was quite scary for a time though. It was almost the exact middle of the night. Das and myself had the watch duty when we noticed something was blocking the view of the stars from time to time. And then the view of my Lady’s orb was blocked from view. We quietly roused the rest of the camp and kept one eye to the sky. We were able to make out that the view of the stars and moon were being blocked by a great flock of rather large creatures flying by overhead; all apparently flying south. The outline of the creatures seemed similar to the manta rays or skates I’ve seen the fishermen sometimes pull from the sea. I believe what was most disturbing was their totally silent flight and no evidence of any flapping of their wings. I believe I may have heard something about creatures like this. But all I can recall for sure is that they dwell in the Underdark, which makes sense considering the Core of Fire invading their demesnes as it has. Most likely the heat drove them forth.
To be cautious, we took shelter under some nearby trees and the creatures continued to pass by overhead. Unfortunately, this brought us into the territory of some rather irate creatures dwelling in said trees and the little blighters attacked us. They looked like a cross between a mouse and a monkey. I have never seen their like before. They attacked us with thrown melons. This certainly seems like such a puny weapon but their impact certainly caused real injury. And the smell of the putrid interior was enough to gag an otyugh, literally. The smell actually was bad enough to cause uncontrolled retching. This was only ceased by washing the disgusting mass away with alcohol. Both of our little attackers died in the confrontation and I must say it brought me no joy. Poor Nia was flung from the upper boughs of the treetops in her struggles with one of the creatures. She said that she had been trying only to capture it so it would stop attacking us but both of them fell. She attempted to save the creature from the worst of the fall at the cost of her own health but the little animal still passed on. Not surprising considering Nia’s injuries took her nearly unto death. As we were both gagging from the lingering stench of the disgusting melon projectiles only just washed away, I think she did not notice how badly she was hurt. My Lady’s gifts flowed through me well and my companion was restored to health.
Oddly, during the entire confrontation, Das engaged in a ceremony. I did not recognize it at first but then heard him mutter the name of the Maid of Misfortune in what I finally recognized as prayers. As I understand that not all her followers are evil and some only worship her for supplication to turn her eye from them, I did not take it upon myself to strike him down. And, as yet, we do not know if this is perhaps truly Sa’d in a different incarnation. I would feel awful if we killed him and found out that we had killed Sa’d in the process. I did pray for a spell to discern that which lies within ones heart and soul after we broke camp and cautiously rode away. The flying creatures continued to mill about overhead and some even circled while we prepared to depart. Their intent seemed only to be curiosity. I have since cast my spell and have discerned that Das does carry evil within his soul but I feel I must stay my hand. I do not know that the simple presence of evil is enough reason to strike him down as yet. There is still doubt as to his connection to our own Sa’d. I believe it will be his actions that will decide his fate. I stand more than ready to send him to the next life if he so much as attempts to hurt any of my companions.
Unfortunately, there was one other unforeseen casualty of our confrontation with the creatures in the tree. Aedron climbed the tree and found what appeared to be a rather primitive hut in the upper branches. Inside he found a youngling, barely passed the weaning by the looks. There appears to be some difference between parents and young. The kit or cub has some look and/or feeling of intelligence about it while the parents seemed like overly clever animals. I do regret the confrontation and wish that we could change the way things happened. Alas, that is not within our power. The little thing seems to have made some attachment to Aedron and he has made a place for it in a warm pouch among his belongings. I am unsure how this will all work out.
There seems to be an odd side effect of the stinking purple melons. Wherever they made contact with skin or hair, they have left an indelible purple stain. Nia is somewhat overwrought about it. We made our stop for today at another small village and I tried to devise a counter agent to fade the purple dye. I kept coming up short on some step or ingredient so Nia and I made our way to the village wise woman. The woman was able to discern where I had gone wrong and said that she had a recipe for a bleaching agent that would work. She warned that this would effectively turn all hair and skin it contacted virtually white as snow for several weeks but Nia and I agreed that seemed a much better alternative to the putrid purple we are currently stuck with. Unfortunately, the wise woman did not have time to brew enough before we were planning on leaving. We purchased her ingredients and instructions list so that I may make it when we have enough time later. I do hope Zolven won’t mind me making use of his alchemy lab when we arrive. We were at least able to purchase some hair dye and makeup as a stop gap measure for now. And so, that is what equates to a fairly quiet day in the life of an adventurer. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.
Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-6th Kythorn, The Year of the Haunting
---Today has me in quandaries. We arrived late in the afternoon at Zolven’s tower and are currently taking our ease at his invitation. Nia and I were quite grateful when he quickly took care of our color dyed problem with a simple spell of his, cast through his familiar. He informed us that this was an alchemical substance know as “stinkdye” and is well known amongst some of the primitive tribes to the south. He seemed rather surprised to hear of its use in these northern climes. Also in relation to our nighttime encounter, he informed us that the creatures seen flying overhead are called Sinisters, although they are not evil. Some more simple folk see their appearance as a bad omen. I can see how their somewhat spooky appearance and means of flight could put one off.
We inquired if Zolven knew anything about the disappearance of Sa’d and his replacement with Das. Zolven simply looked at Das and said that they were in fact two beings sharing the same temporal existence, however, some strange magical confluence had split their essences so they might coexist but in each other’s corporeal locations for a time. I only barely followed what Zolven said and mostly only in theory, but I think I have a good idea what is going on. It was just about that time that Das pulled out the crystal coin and flipped it. It must have come up on the lucky side for Das exploded and Sa’d was returned to us, scarf and all. Sa’d looked around, and asked if we had killed Das. We explained that no, we had been concerned that might keep Sa’d from coming back. He asked us to promise not to hesitate next time as Das is thoroughly evil and we should kill him on sight. There was fire in Sa’d’s eyes and I could see that there was some true hatred there. We did so promise and Sa’d said that he would explain in more detail later.
Zolven seemed nonplussed and we continued with our report. Z seemed quite, how shall we say, bemused at the outcome of the errand he sent us upon. I still have suspicions that he had a very good idea the outcome might turn out as it did. He showed us in his quicksilver table a vision of the volcano building itself where we released the Core of Fire. The mountain of ejecta and hardened lava had grown to a width of approximately a mile and a half and he estimates that it may grow to ten times that size within the year but that should be as big as it gets. Nia sounded quite agitated and seemed to believe that we may have destroyed the world through our actions. Zolven calmed her somewhat by explaining that one more volcano does not mean the end of the world and that he believes it might cause problems for the region perhaps in a decade or so but only if something else did not affect it first. It is not like this is the first volcano with a connection to the elemental plane of Fire after all. He seemed intrigued at the recovery of the few tomes we were able to rescue from the Vault and we have given him permission to make copies for himself. Who knows, with the way Sages and prophecies and the like work, he might even find some clue to the Blue Diamond Fever within those pages. And being that he no longer sleeps, he will have more time to peruse them than we.
Zolven said that our errand to the north had taken less time than he anticipated and he has been unable to exactly pinpoint Arben’s location as yet. He has been able to determine that Arben has apparently been running around the region up near Hillcrest but there is a problem. Arben seems to keep disappearing from the world in some way. As Zolven put it, he keeps “dropping off the face of the world somehow” and Zolven doesn’t know how or why. He estimated his investigations will take another tenday or so and advised us to take some time off. When we return, he says he will have more information for us. And so, upon the morrow we will return to Grandia until 18th Kythorn and then begin our trek back to see Zolven. That will give us time to sell the great deal of found merchandise in our possession at the moment and to make some preparations for further adventure.
I will bring this to a close for now. I have an appointment to meet Miss Nia in the bath chamber shortly and I must wash up first. The girl is such fun. Not at all like all those snotty uptight Sembian merchants I’ve come across over the years. Ah well, off I go. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.
Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-9th Kythorn, The Year of the Haunting
---Our ride from Zolven’s tower to Grandia was without incident and we arrived in the city only a few hours past midday today. During the ride, we eventually filled in the story of the relation between Sa’d and Das. Put most simply, they were good friends and thieving partners in Waterdeep when they were young. They attempted to steal a coin from the vault of the wrong wizard evidently and some magical curse was triggered. Sa’d thought that Das had been killed and stopped his life of crime; scared honest it would seem. But then Sa’d started having the compulsion to flip the stolen coin and would occasionally disappear. It seemed that Das was committing crimes around Waterdeep and planting evidence to frame Sa’d for the deeds. His family was finally able to figure out what was going on but not before their name had been irretrievably sullied and they left the great city under a cloud of shame. Evidently, Das didn’t make the connection that they were swapping places. As far as Sa’d could figure out, Das just figured Sa’d had betrayed and abandoned him in some way and framed Sa’d as revenge.
Sa’d also filled us in on what had happened to him while this magical anomaly kept he and Das in the other’s place. Sa’d was stuck with Das’s adventuring crew far to the south. He says they are a thoroughly evil bunch and definitely not to be trusted. They are evidently receiving instructions from an advisor they know only as Zee. Sa’d and I put our heads together with my art supplies and I’ve drawn up passable portraits of each of them according to Sa’d’s description. Our entire crew has put their visages to memory and we should recognize them if our paths ever cross in future.
And so, we find ourselves in Grandia once more. Meg has volunteered to take care of selling our “loot” from this adventure: a fair amount of quite well made tools, armor and weapons. She does seem to have a talent for trade, barter and haggle, that is for certain. I do hope she is able to get a decent price. The group has agreed that whatever price Meg is able to garner, the proceeds will be split into ten equal shares. Each of us shall receive one share and the remaining two shares will be put into a “party fund” that will be used to pay for items and supplies to benefit the entire group. That about covers things to the moment I suppose. I’m off to enjoy a nice sit down dinner that somebody else shall cook and serve to me. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.
Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-10th thru 17th Kythorn, The Year of the Haunting
---Our good Meg is truly a genius of the marketplace. She has garnered top coin selling the gatherings from our adventure. We each have quite a tidy amount of gold at our disposal. Nia was so joyous that she hugged and kissed Meg on the spot. There are times that I am surprised the girl doesn’t actually bounce off the ground. I already have plans for my funds and I believe I will ask Meg for some help in my purchases.
---The limner has finished with the emblazoning on the shield I was garnered from our spoils. He did good work, quite nice. The blazon is simple enough that any touch-ups needed after battle should be within even my meager talents.
---Meg agreed to help Nia, Sa’d and I purchase better mounts. I wished to have a stronger war mount, I believe Sa’d wished for a mount more his size and Nia wanted something prettier than the Sosser’s. I don’t know how Meg does it but she found perhaps the perfect mounts for all of us. Having sufficient funds is a help as well of course. I now have a sturdy Tharurr warhorse big enough to carry even the bulk of myself and my armor into battle. He is a handsome beast with a coat of deep dappled grey. Sa’d made purchase of a Dales Pony, fine shaggy little warpony. And last but certainly not least, Nia found a magnificent horse of the Dambraii breed. Meg assured Nia her new mount would not shy in battle and there were few that could match its speed.
---Nia and I wandered the market places today for a spot of shopping on our own. Originally Nia only wished to purchase a shirt to replace the one ruined by the stinkdye incident. In the end she bought several shirts and one full suit of new clothing that would do any Waterdeep courtier proud. She really does carry clothing well, I must say. Her funds were greatly depleted from the expense of her magnificent Dambraii stallion so she had to cut her purchases a bit short. I, however, did not purchase quite so expensive an animal and was able to indulge a bit. I purchased a few under things for Nia that verge on scandalous and also a practical yet luxuriant silk shift for Meg. Mother always said that silk next to the skin makes a woman feel she is a queen even though she be wearing sackcloth without and I thought therefore it would make a nice gift. I shall most likely never see Meg’s gift again after it leaves my hands but I hold some hope that Nia will show off her gifts for me this evening. This is still no romance; she and I only share company after dark once in a while and only for mutual enjoyment. I believe she desires variety in her endeavors and I need time to recover between bouts. The girl certainly enjoys herself. I am sure the handsome caravan guards who have been lucky enough to catch her eye have likely been treated to the most memorable evening of their lives.
Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-18th Kythorn, The year of the Haunting
---Today was rather boring. We’ve all made our purchases of supplies for our coming travels. I believe all in our adventuring company have become a bit staid to life in the city by now. It will be good to be back on the road of adventure tomorrow. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.