Friday, May 18, 2007

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

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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.

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