Friday, September 08, 2006

Dorben, Entry 20 ---14th Flamerule thru 15th Flamerule--- A day of preparation and then we find a bit more than just kobolds; perhaps quite a bit more

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
14th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Nia’s secret admirer made his presence, or lack thereof, known again this day. A delivery was made bright and early this morn. The simple wrappings were removed to reveal a wooden box of fine workmanship; the lid exquisitely inlaid with the design of a rose. Nia opened it to find a mechanical music box of expert craftsmanship. The music was also lovely, although I did not recognize the composition. Again, Nia seemed intrigued. Intrigued enough, evidently, to spend a good deal of the day shopping for a blouse very near in color to that of the rose sent to her last eve. It is a quite lovely color.

As for myself, I made to my Lady’s temple again this day; to pay my respects, offer my healing skills as needed and with another purpose in mind as well. My prayers have recently revealed to me new knowledge of magic. I have been granted access to spells of greater power, one of which is the enchantment of Continual Flame. This allows me to endeavor to test a theory that occurred to me while conversing with a dwarven wizard some years ago. Said dwarven wizard was an expert in alchemy and in the knowledge of gemstones, even acknowledged thus by his dwarven compatriots. He revealed to me to me that rubies and sapphires, despite their obvious differences in color, react identically when subjected to the same alchemical tests. To him it was an oddity of alchemy and gemology; to me it brought thoughts of possible variations in an intriguing spell.

It occurred to me that if one were to use sapphires, in their many varied colors and hues, instead of rubies when casting the enchantment perhaps one might achieve some variation in the color of the illusionary flames. A short foray into the market place gained purchase of sapphires in several different shades. I also found jewelry pieces within which to lay the enchantments. After consulting with several of my brother and sister clergy and delving deeply into research volumes, our efforts were rewarded. No ground shaking revelation of course, but I was pleased nonetheless. We were able to achieve definite variations in color and I think the results are quite nice, if I do say so myself. I believe my friends who have need of such things will be very appreciative of my efforts. I am happy to be able to offer them such lovely gifts that I was able to have some hand in crafting.

Speaking of gifts, I believe Aedron purchased several for his little white furred friend while they were out and about in the town today. It is becoming more and more obvious that his little friend is more intelligent than any average animal. Aedron purchased several bits of tiny equipment and adornments for his little friend. It would seem that at least some of those who have passed through this town were perhaps of fey blood. The articles of clothing were quite small but well tailored and I must say the little she animal looks very cute. I do hope Aedron discovers an actual name for her soon. It seems ever so rude to refer to her as “she” or “it” or “that” when needs be.

Ah, and speaking of names, Illandria completed the ceremonies to bond her new raven friend to her as her companion. Her glossy friend is to be known from this day forward as Onyx. Quite a fitting name I think. It is my hope that Onyx and Illandria enjoy one another’s company for a good long time to come.

Good Meg again proved her mastery of haggle and barter today. While sorting out our packs, saddle bags and pack saddles to ascertain what equipment we might need to buy before our assault on the tower we made a discovery. It would seem we had accumulated a good deal of odds and ends which we had intended to sell off but had then neglected to do so. Meg guided the repacking, took which horses she needed and made her way out into the market place. As usual, she gained top value and we were able to obtain some needed equipment and a bit of loose coin to add to our coin purse. Thus our day was spent. Tomorrow we shall begin our assault on the tower. By my Lady’s grace I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
15th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Well, we may not have bitten off more than we can chew, as the rather vulgar saying goes, but we most certainly seem to have run into a good deal of nasty and unexpected gristle. We did encounter kobolds but there were other as yet unknown creatures amongst their numbers as well. The abilities at their disposal could make this quest a great deal more difficult than we had originally thought.

We left the Vaasan Gate shortly after dawn and began our march upon the tower. Our plan was for our arrival to roughly coincide with the sun’s rays falling fully upon the tower, hopefully dazzling the dark dwelling kobolds. Aedron and Euphestas scouted well ahead of the rest of the group. We had thought to ask Illandria’s to have her companion, Onyx, scout from above. That idea was soon put to rest by a bit of information Euphestas overheard as we were leaving town this morn. It seems the guardsmen on watch last evening saw something large and winged take flight from the top of the tower. Little more description than that but it seemed enough to decide not to sacrifice Illandria’s new friend at least. It also discouraged us from any possible plan of assaulting the tower from the top down. It might have been possible for our team to defeat whatever is nesting on the roof, if we could somehow meet it on an equal footing. However, our only real recourse would have been to scale the outside of the tower which would have left us exposed and vulnerable during the entire climb. So we decided against it.

Climbing the tower might have proved something of a challenge if we had made the attempt. It would seem Capt. Vildorn’s information that the tower had been built by dwarves certainly seemed to be supported by the by the apparent skill of the stone setting that we could see before us. In other words, hand and foot holds did not appear to be in any abundance upon the outer skin of the edifice. In truth, even the seams between the set stones were not easily apparent from a distance. It was not even readily apparent if there was room for mortar.

Euphestas made his way about the entire circumference of the tower in hopes of finding any entrance other than the front door. No other entrance was found and we turned to the main; a double door arrangement, one of which was broken and hanging askew, held in place by only its uppermost hinge. Storming the gates did not seem terribly wise but it was the only avenue left open to us. Aedron took the fore with Nia immediately at his back as the rest of us arrayed ourselves close by for battle. Lifting the door bodily, Aedron then pulled back and away to give open sight and fire line to those of us behind. What was revealed was not encouraging.

The double doors, only one of which was open at the moment of course, opened onto what I have heard referred to as an Archer’s Gallery. Arrow loops pierced the walls on either side of a hall long enough that one might not cross it quickly. One bit of fate did seem to be on our side however as the doors at the far end, which would have delayed or perhaps completely stalled our crossing of the murderer’s row of archer loops, were gone.

I had been thinking to unlimber my crossbow to provide covering fire for Aedron and Nia, who are almost invariably our first into the fray. But then the head of a little black kobold, or at least that’s what it looked like at first, snuck a hasty look around the corner at the far end of the hall and then withdrew just as quickly. The others have since told me that it was at or about that moment that some of them detected a high pitched but seemingly distant keening sound. This sound did not come to my ears at that time however. My one thought at the moment was that the kobold I had just seen, which I was unsure had been seen by any of the others, could be readying some attack and I wanted to stop that attack. And so I called upon my Lady’s holy power to assist me and I dashed through the Archer’s Gallery as swiftly as I might. This, unfortunately, proved to be a bit of a miscalculation on my part.

As it turned out, the room beyond the Gallery was approximately twice its length and at least three times its breadth. Two goodly sized archways opened onto what seemed to be stairwells on the far side of the room. The stairwell to the left looked to descend and the stairs to the right appeared, from an admittedly fleeting glimpse, to be ascendant. A ledge ran the length of the room just above the height of the entry doors. It was from this ledge that a larger version of the jet black reptilian invaders was waiting and I all but ran right into its arms in my dash for combat. The large creature was fairly strong and lifted me bodily from the ground. I heard my own ribs creak, and perhaps one or more even popped loose of its mooring, beneath my armor as I struggled to be free of my captor. I was able fight free of its hold, gaining a few further wounds from my captor in the process. I landed flat on my back and now had a decent view of both enemies that concerned me at the moment. The smaller reptilian I had first spotted, which was more the size of a short dwarf than a kobold, was to one side of the door and its larger comrade above me. The larger creature looked similar but was at least as large as Aedron, if not even more so. And then I saw the wings. They both had wings; apparently fully functional, draconic in appearance, wings. I remember commenting “It occurs to me that Barlo might have thought to mention you lot had been mating with black dragons.”

Aedron and Nia were the first to come to my aid, stopping within arms reach to give me cover from my attackers. They were the first to discover the third enemy: another of the smaller reptilians on the other flank of the entryway. Illandria and Meg provided cover fire with their mighty bows and skill from the far doorway as Euphestas rushed into the entry room and set up a Silence spell behind our fight. This was apparently an excellent tactical call on his part as we believe this may have stopped more creatures further within the structure from responding to the sound of the combat that ensued. We were soon to find out that his Silence enchantment would prove life saving even beyond the tactical.

It was about that time that the larger reptilian roared or howled or wailed forth an all but earsplitting noise. The sound itself is nearly indescribable as it went beyond mere sound and actually seemed to jangle the nerves and loosen our insides. It spread out as ripples from a very noisy stone cast into still waters. There was a cry from without and I caught the barest glimpse of Illandria moving to tend her fallen friend Onyx. I cannot blame her for attending its wounds in combat. I have heard of the bond between rangers and their companion animals. And it is much easier to heal nearly lethal wounds right at the moment than it is to bring back from the dead. From the hurts I felt myself from that gut twisting yowl, I can only assume poor Onyx was near unto death at that moment. Immediately following the awful yowl, Euphestas moved closer to the knot of fighting at the doorway and his Silence ceased any further caterwauling from our strange reptilian enemies. May my Lady bless his quiet little heart.

With my comrades covering my retreat I was able to crawl away from the fight so that I might regain my feet. Nia noticed about that same time as I that she was badly wounded and signaled to me. I knew that her wounds must have been dire for her to actually acknowledge the need for healing. Casting within Euphestas’ silence enchantment was of course impossible for me and so, after dealing a resounding blow on one of the reptiles, Nia withdrew a short way from the fight and I moved to her.

Two of the reptiles were felled by their wounds in quick order soon after, leaving only one of the smaller ones still standing. Presumably seeing that its situation appeared untenable, the reptilian broke from the melee and dashed for the stairwell to the right of the entrance. Euphestas gave chase, his silenced area going with him and I would think that was his intention: to make sure the creature was unable to call for help. As Aedron gave chase I noticed two things. One was that he was apparently in the throes of his berserk rage. The second item of note was the bloody footprints he left as he crossed the room. I was in the very action of healing Nia at that precise moment or I would have tended to Aedron instead. As it was, Nia also saw the situation and as soon as I had finished with my healing prayers she took off after Aedron with one of her healing potions in hand. I begin to think that those potions may prove to be among the wisest of the purchases we made yesterday.

Things developed at a rapid pace on that ascending stairwell. I again cast an enchantment of healing and held the charge in abeyance as I gave chase. The stairwell proved to be too narrow for me to make way past my comrades to get to Aedron. I continued to hold the spell in readiness as Aedron, Euphestas and Nia proceeded to clear away a kobold arbalest squad. The body of the black reptilian already adorned the stairs, attesting to the martial prowess of my comrades. As soon as the kobolds were dealt with, I pushed forward to Aedron’s side and laid my healing enchantment upon him. His wounds had indeed been quite bad and he might have succumbed after he lost the bolstering strength of his rage.

Several turns of the stairs brought us to a closed and locked door. Seeing that we needed a bit of time to recover and regroup, I asked Euphestas if he might be able to seal off this point of access for the moment. Scavenging useful pieces from the dropped crossbows and I believe possibly from his climbing gear as well, Euphestas put together quite the ingenious door jamming device. He showed us how the contraption could be easily disarmed by any of us from our side while it would completely muddle anybody attempting to disarm it from the other. We then descended back down to the large entry foyer to regroup with the rest of our company. Healing enchantments were spread around liberally as we brought ourselves back to nearly full strength.

We elected to leave the lower levels alone for the moment. We only went so far as to take a look down from the top of the descending stairwell. From below we heard a sound which to me sounded like pouring sand. It interests me to wonder as to what the sound really will turn out to be when we are able to investigate further. We found the iron strapped heavy wooden doors which had once closed off the inner end of the archers’ gallery not far from their former resting places. They had been broken from their hinges and simply dumped by the wayside just within the entry room. My comrades suggested using the doors to close up the archway to the lower levels and I made use of a Stoneshape spell to assist holding them in place. With Euphestas’ guidance I shaped the stone so that the former doors, now barricades, could be maneuvered and removed from our side while still making it almost impossible to do so from the other side. At the very least we felt that clearing the blockade would create enough noise to alert us if the enemy chose to move on us from the lower levels.

Euphestas explored the ledge that ran above the archers’ gallery. He found what appeared to be a nest of various materials at either end of the ledge. A good deal of the materials seemed to have been gathered from the immediate area. Sorting carefully through the nesting material Euphestas found assorted items of some value mixed in with the detritus. He also found what certainly appears to be a large jet black egg. It is at least the size of an average human head, perhaps a bit larger. The egg was stashed away in a storage sack for later examination and Euphestas continued his search. After clearing away the nesting material he found what seemed to be a trapdoor leading down. From all appearances this trapdoor should lead down inside the archers’ gallery. Another nest and trapdoor was also found at the opposite end of the ledge. It was about that time that we decided it would be a good time to pause and take stock for a few moments.

After having more closely examined the bodies of the reptilians we have slain I believe that my original assessment that these kobolds had cross bred with black dragons must be wrong. I have seen more than a few artistic representations of black dragons and I have heard about their awful acidic breath weapon. These creatures which we are facing do not have the skull like face or curving horns that are said to be characteristic of the black draconic bloodlines. Compound that with the absence of any acidic breath weapon and it would seem that these creatures definitely cannot be descended from the black dragons.

However, there is no mistaking that there is definitely some sort of draconic heritage about them. Few bloodlines can bestow such power as these creatures have wielded upon us. I am not completely sure but I think perhaps their blood does not come from the more familiar ‘metallic’ or ‘chromatic’ lines. No. I have made the acquaintance of some few in Waterdeep who have laid claim to heritage from those origins and these creatures do not have the ‘refinement’ of their appearances. In fact, the looks of these creatures appear somehow more bestial, less refined than those of draconic heritage of which I have known. Although I am not terribly familiar with them, I think that perhaps these draconic kobolds might possibly be descended from something more akin to a drake rather than a true dragon. I only hope that we survive long enough to find out the truth of this matter. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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