Monday, October 24, 2011

In Rinos things aren't what they appear

Just a little over a week has passed since I last wrote a journal entry, but so much has happened that it feels like far more time. Let me see if I can recall the correct order of events starting from June 26th and running until today, the 4th.

Thrur and I set off to the castle and were allowed in, sans Ayman's stick figure drawing this time. We were led in and announced to the royal council: Prince Bernard; Marcus, Duke of Sternhelm (the prince's uncle); Lord Cordy, the exchequer; Bishop Sirius; and Jacquio of the Eye, the spymaster (or something of the sort). I read the letter I bore from the mayor of Logging Town and was told that they would send soldiers to his aid. I was also informed that the duke's men would escort the priests of the Brotherhood of Dread to anti-magic cells (ha...). Afterward Thrur gifted the prince with his mithril crown and asked for permission to sail north to retrieve his people in order to work the once-goblin mine to the south; he was told by the prince that they would talk after he and his people returned to Rinos. After leaving the castle, SwampFox and I realized we were being followed by a beggar of sorts, but he fled before we could catch him. I ran into him one more time that day and realized he was staring at SwampFox, but learned nothing else at this time.

Meanwhile Linora, Vordb and Shocko went off on their adventure to the less savory parts of the city in order to glean information. Ayman went to the Temple of Apollo to search for books. We met up later at the castle where the entire party now met the prince's council. After telling him of some of our adventures, the prince spoke with us in private (private other than his guard Sir Rodney). There he entrusted us with important information: he did not know who he could trust but we were recommended by the guildmaster; he feared an attempt on his life and that his father's illness was not natural and that someone on the council could be the cause, but he did not know who. We agreed to help and our plan was to split up to try to retrieve information.

Digging up information took me all around the city as well as out of its walls. I spoke with the Head Messenger and, in short, was told that he knew and trusted the bishop; Edward is a Messenger, and an important one, so I trust his judgment. He also gave me a bit of news of something that had been troubling me for a while, so that was a relief, although his vagueness wasn't entirely reassuring. After this, I set off to figure out just what the beggar was that had been shadowing me and SwampFox. We tracked him down to the stables near one of the gates and discovered a great surprise: the beggar was SwampFox's tribe's shaman. This was particularly surprising because both SF and I had thought that he was the only orc remaining on this continent. WhiteBoar told us of what had happened to the rest of their tribe and gave SF his brother's war mask... thing. We took WB back to the Messengers' Mosque with us and fortunately he is allowed to stay there, at least for as long as I am in Rinos (we will take him with us when we leave). Next I snuck out of the city in disguise (it had been a very long time since I've used one of those!) and met with a group of brownies. They were somewhat helpful, giving me news of a green dragon flying through the area and where it had been seen, and also about the many people traveling the roads and the king building an army, which was a bit less helpful. Still, they were friendly and this gave me an opportunity to be someone else for a bit, so I consider it time well spent. Back in the city later, I was given a delivery assignment from the mosque and went to one of the taverns, where I met with the owner; he handed me and SwampFox crates of wine from Lord Cordry's vineyards. Lord Cordry was actually there at the time, playing cards with a few other men. The next morning I had a brief private meeting with my brother Kendric where I told him of our task from the prince; he warned me to be careful (he always warns me to be careful; is he like this with his other little brother, too?) and said that Lord Cordry owns many establishments in Rinos, some reputable, some not and that certain people are aware and turn a blind eye since he's shored up coin to finance the realm. Ken told me he'd do what he could to help my friends and I, but when I asked, was also rather vague on that personal subject I have been worried about. Sigh.

While I was running around the city, Ghost went off to train with the guard and soldiers at the castle, also apparently ending up with information from my brother. Linora, Vordb and Shocko continued their unsavory information gathering in the lower parts of the city. Ayman met with the bishop to talk about books or something of the sort and likely gleaned some information from him, then met with WhiteBoar at the mosque, and later snuck around outside invisibly to spy on gossip, running into Jacquio while doing so. He and Ghost then went with Jacquio to the castle and learned about the king's state of health and situation and the like from him.

The next day, Sir Thopas found us at the inn and asked if we had seen Dwight, who had not been seen since the night before. We went to the castle and discovered that none of the guards had seen him since the previous night, either, but that Marcus had been around this morning (Dwight had last been seen in his company). We learned from the steward at the castle that he had last seen Dwight touring the dungeon with Marcus the night before- this got us extremely suspicious, if we were not enough already. We headed down to the dungeon and told the guard that we would like to see the Brotherhood of Dread priests (while I asked my pet fox to smell for Dwight in case he was around). Once on the third level, my fox caught the scent and began pawing at one of the cell doors. We quickly got that door opened and rushed in to find Dwight gagged and tied up; we quickly freed him and Dwight said that the duke was not who he says and that the one priest of Dread was missing. While the rest of the group ran to the gate to try to follow “Marcus”, SwampFox and I went to find the remaining priest, who was still Charmed from my beguilement. I showed Tarus a map and was told that Ruger (the other priest) went back to their temple to the west, past the kingdom's border. After getting this information, I followed the rest of the group who had since learned that “Marcus” had come back twenty minutes before- without the two guards from before (one of which was Ruger, we know).

We rushed to Marcus' chamber, leaving Dwight at the gate. There we became blocked in by suits of armor/statues/whatnot that moved; a few of these remained moving pieces of armor, but some turned into skeletons of some sort. We began fighting and Ayman was able to ensnare “Marcus” and one of the skeletons in a magical spiderweb. We took out “Marcus'” guards, Shocko ran off to find the palace guards, and the fake Marcus finally revealed his true form: a doppleganger. Despite being caught in a magical web, he refused to give us any information until Vordb called rats to appear and begin biting at him; then he told us that the “Dark One” sent him here to get rid of the duke six months ago so that he could spy on the prince and to kill the king and prince with poison, and that Ruger had gone where Tarus had said- to their sanctum to the west and that the duke was there, as well.

During combat one of the suits of armor had slid into one of the walls, revealing a secret door. Behind this Ghost discovered a table filled with an alchemical apparatus, the items that had been used to poison the king. The guards arrived as I was healing the doppleganger from the damage inflicted when Ghost set the magical web on fire to destroy it and get him out (yes, he didn't deserve healing, but setting the web on fire in the first place was not the way to go about this, in my opinion, but what do I know, I'm just a good priest...). The guards took him away to the cells and we went to find Dwight and the prince before going to the king's chamber. Dwight, a paladin of great skill, with great effort healed the king, who was quite relieved to be healthy again. The prince led us to the throne room and his council, entirely confused. Ghost explained everything that had happened and Dwight said that it was a magical disease fed very slowly to the king. The king, feeling much better, gave us a new quest: retrieve the duke and go after the Brotherhood of Dread. Dwight was given a different task, though, that will involve heading east instead of west. The king gifted us a few items that we would need for our task and then sent for Tarus. Much to my displeasure, Tarus was told that he would come along with us and that if he assisted us, he would get a fair trial when he returned. When Tarus asked where we were going, sounding quite distraught, he asked for a black pearl, which we would need to get into the temple. This we were given.

Later that day we set out from Rinos, heading west. I asked Tarus about the pearl and was told that you can only get into the door of the temple on a night of the new moon, or the full moon if you have a pearl. There are enchantments guarding the door and that you cannot see it without that object; if there is no moonlight, the door is visible, however, and that the pearl is a cheat. When asked how we could get out, he said ever so helpfully, “Don't die”. Still Charmed, he was absolutely terrified of where we were going and said he would rather be back in the cell. Perhaps beguiled, he has finally acquired some senses; it is rather a shame that he is going to revert back to evil very soon, so I am keeping an eye on him should my spell wear off and I had his hands tied together and to the saddle of his horse. Charmed he may be, but I do not trust him.

The next morning Shocko made breakfast (surprisingly!), but we did not have the opportunity to try it. We heard rustling in the bushes and eleven huge, giant beetles charged out at us in their goal of eating our porridge. Ghost knocked the pot a few feet away and the beetles swarmed, badly injuring Shocko (who still smelled of honey) and Vordb, who was already injured from our battle with the doppleganger. Luckily I had already saddled the horses so we quickly fled away, stopping only briefly to rest. We met a farmer on the road coming the other way with a cart loaded down with corn; this is fortunate for him, and also us, as he led us to Cornwell, the nearest village. When we walked into the inn, the innkeeper saw the shape the party was in and found a doctor for Vordb and Shocko. He said Shocko just needed rest but that the claw marks on Vordb were very bad and healed him as best he could. The next morning we found a priest of Apollo in town and while explaining what had happened with the doppleganger battle, Tarus chimed in to say that Vordb desperately needed a priest who could cure diseases as this was most definitely fatal if not treated as soon as possible. (No wonder the rest of the group is starting to trust Tarus if he is being so helpful; I just wish they would realize this is temporary helpfulness.)

As there were no priests of this power in Cornwell, we fled back to Rinos, rushing Vordb to the Temple of Apollo in the city. The abbot was able to heal Vordb, and Shocko as well, and the next morning we set out once again. We traveled for another day or so until Tarus asked if we had planned on riding at the speed we were currently going to get there. It was here that we learned that we would need to reach the Brotherhood of Dread temple within four days and it would likely take us about two weeks at that rate. After debating how we could speed up, I cast a spell to make what we carried lighter for the horses and we rode hard, trading our tired horses for new ones with the help of my animal knowledge and Linora's... er... cleavage, I think. Hurrying on, we made it to Hightower, a town on the border, on the 2nd day of Brightmoon, leaving us about two days from the gorge. If we continue to hurry, we should still be able to get there while the moon is still full.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
July 4th, 2nd day of Brightmoon

Monday, August 01, 2011

We've reached Rinos, picking up far too many prisoners on the road

Warning: long journal entry ahead. I apologize in advance.

We left Waterford and made our way to Luminar, passing a troop of clowns and watermelon merchants... or something like that, anyway. While resting for the night, Thrur and Ghost spotted small lights in the distance. Linora flew ahead (as a bat, of course) and discovered that they were heading towards us. Most of the group, sans Dwight's men and Ayman, headed off to figure out what the lights were. Eventually we reached them and saw a group of cloaked and robed figures carrying lanterns.

Ghost called out to them, inquiring who they were. Their response was "those who fell at your hand and were reborn" and that we'd "fall to the Brotherhood of Dread" and that they'd kill us like they did our wizard. They seemed taken aback when we explained that our wizard was perfectly fine, thank you. We fought what turned out to be skeleton creatures and after Vordb caused the non-skeletal duo to fall to their knees (defeat by itching; must have been rather embarrassing for them) and call back their minions, I was able to Charm one of them, which was enough to essentially control both for the time being.

We finished off the skeleton things and I asked why they keep attacking us and who sent them. Their answer was that we attacked them first (okay, possibly, but what are we, seven? Come on.) and that they were sent by their master, "the dark one", to go after us. I got them to drop their weapons and magic items; when the non-Charmed one tried to pull out a scroll (last time they teleported away with one, right?), Linora's dog tore it up. Ghost retrieved these items, minus the chewed-up paper. We tied them up and brought them back to camp. We learned that their names were Ruger and Tarus and while he was on watch, they tried to convince Vordb to join them. Wisely, our necromancer declined joining their Brotherhood of Buffoonery.

The next day we reached Luminar; on the way, Sir Thopas informed us that that was were he was from. Here we split up, Linora and Shocko going to the tavern (of course), Vordb and I to the temple of Apollo, and the rest to the keep. Vordb and I were led to the librarian at the temple, a fairly unhelpful priest named Teegarden, and the Abbott Aldebaran (I have no idea if I'm spelling any of these names correctly) found us a book on the Brotherhood of Dread, then went with us to the keep.

Meanwhile at the keep, most of our group met with Lord Renson (Sir Thopas' father) and our prisoners were locked up in the cells there. After dinner, we were escorted to the cells, where we questioned the priests again- or tried to. Ruger was so annoying that I quickly had enough and silenced him with a spell. Tarus, the Charmed and much more helpful prisoner, didn't tell us a whole lot more, however, mostly that his master thinks we're a threat to his order (okay, yes, we did destroy their temple and kill this priest twice, but they were asking for it). Vordb and I were able to get Tarus to tell us that the BoD is issuing currently from a stronghold to the east of the country's border, a few days from Haumar (and that you could see the mountain in the distance), and that this was their only temple since we'd destroyed the other (score one for us, I suppose). They'd been following us since we'd crossed the river. When we asked if they were aligned with any dragons, his answer was "Huh?" so I take that as a no.

Later I headed back to the temple to read that book on the Brotherhood of Dread and poked around at the library while the rest headed to the tavern (drunk singing about Linora slaying a dragon, her, Vordb and Shocko passing out... the usual). Ghost tried the ring of invisibility, but couldn't get it to work, and Ayman detected that the staves of the priests did radiate magic. Ghost then went to the temple, as well, asking about the items she now had in her possession; they couldn't identify them, but the librarian (actually being somewhat helpful for once), was able to find some books on staves, identifying them as a Staff of Striking and some sort of staff-into-mace weapon. Ayman did learn, however, that one of the rings was a Ring of Blinking and another was one of air elemental control.

The next day we set off again, our prisoners in toe (well, wagon), with a wagon team carrying fabrics that would go with us to Rinos. Tarus was still Charmed, so we gagged just Ruger. That night, Linora heard loud hooting in the trees; once again turning into a bat, she flew up to investigate and startled a person out of the tree by reverting back to human. We were quickly surrounded by a group of armed and armored men, the leader bearing a shield with a triple snake symbol. This one began talking and we learned that they were highwaymen and wanted the items in our wagons. The group agreed that they wanted no part of that and got to action. Ghost used her new Blinking ring, Ayman threw a web at them, I summoned eight bears (I love that spell!) and Vordb cast Irritation again while the rest did their attacks. They retreated, but between the bears and our fighters, we were able to get most of them and took eight prisoner. Ghost asked one of them what the snake symbol meant, but he didn't know.

The following day, we set off again with our rapidly growing collection of captives and reached Stonebarrow in the evening, where we dropped off the extras. While traveling the next morning, we began to see more mercenaries and fighters; Dwight said that it's likely the prince was raising an army, or something like that. Ghost flagged down one of them and asked what was going on. She was told that the king's heralds had been putting up fliers saying that soldiers were needed. Dwight informed us that the king has one brother, but in the priesthood, so there wasn't likely anyone who would contend the throne.

I seem to have lost track of what the next place we visited was- perhaps this was Stonebarrow instead? Anyway, at this town we found tents set up outside the city. Ayman asked someone as we passed by, and was told that they were heading to Rinos to join up with the army. In town their were two inns, but both were full; I was able to stay at the temple of Apollo, but the rest of the group were stuck camping. Ghost went to the constable to drop off our two captive priests and found that the jail was almost full (lots of people passing through town equals lots of miscreants), as well. At one of the inns, we started hearing many conflicting rumors: a vampire hunter in Rinos, the king's consorting with dragons, he speaks to the dragon, the king's an imposter controlled by a bishop (wait, wait, could that be the king's brother in the priesthood? I just thought of that), the king's preparing for war to the east, there's a vampire lurking around Rinos, the king was killed by an assassin... all strange and conflicting rumors that must have been recent because they hadn't reached Joven or Woodland yet. I believe Dwight may have been spreading rumors about himself, so hooray for even more discord and confusion. I approve. Linora, Vordb and Shocko got into a very amusing brawl while there before it was unfortunately broken up by the constable. (Hmph. I'd been enjoying dinner and a show.)

The next morning Ghost and SwampFox retrieved our prisoners and Vordb and Linora went to the fish market and the town hall to seek out rumors (the fish market? Really? Okay then). Dwight told us that he'd heard about an evil wizard leading an army to the east, that a hydra was under the castle and about that vampire. We traveled on and after lunch reached a traffic jam; three or four trees were blocking the road. Irking Linora because she wasn't able to use her super-human strength here, Ayman greased the fallen trees and I used the Ring of the Ram to clear them away (okay, I'll admit that it's nice to actually do something strong; otherwise I'd just be shoving twigs away or the like). It looked as though the trees had fallen over, rather than had been cut.

We traveled for a few more days with no more excitement and finally reached Rinos late in the day. We entered through the south entrance because Dwight informed us that it would be the least crowded, and passed the lake outside town. In town, I was impressed; there was not only a large mosque, but three smaller shrines, as well! I'm from Woodland, so I'm used to a good-sized mosque, but that was tiny compared to the one in Rinos, and never before have I come across shrines of my order. ... and I'm rambling. Sorry about that. We went to the inn to eat and get ourselves washed up, then Shocko, Vordb and Linora went (where else?) to the Sword and Spear tavern to game and drink. It being too late in the day to deliver my letter to the king, Ayman and I headed north, listening for any gossip along the way (we didn't hear anything), so I could report in at the main mosque. I dropped the Gate plans off with Edward, the Head Messenger, and explained to him how they worked (I'll help them out with this later), then met up with Ayman again to listen to the Van Hailenne minstrel show, where SwampFox joined us. We left him behind (he must like music. Who knew?) and headed towards the inner wall of the city, where I'd figured out that the army was stationed; I knew my brother, a lieutenant in the army, to still be in Rinos. At that entrance, the guards eventually let us in, involving a very believable stick figure drawing by Ayman showing that, yes, I was in fact related to Lieutenant Conroy, see the family resemblance? (No idea how that worked.) But at least it meant I didn't have to hurl a rock over the wall with a message attached to it since I had no spells at the ready to send over a messenger-bird.

The guards led us to the army barracks while I apparently speculated about hitting my brother in the head with small message-rocks, and Ayman and I met up with Kendric. It was wonderful to see him again! It had been years since I saw him last and I've missed him very much. He led us to that tavern where, amazingly, Linora and Co. hadn't broken the place down yet, and after he got his behind kicked by Linora at arm wrestling (hey, I've warned him that she's a very competent warrior!), the group began questioning him. Kendric actually verified one of the crazier rumors by saying that he'd met that vampire hunter- apparently named "Gordo Rojo" (Really? I wonder if he's making this up), and told us that the army has been training all those new people coming in, but he doesn't know why the king is calling for it. I think he mentioned that he thinks the prince may be involved. Vordb asked him if he'd know how to get to the hydra (dragon? Wyvern?) under the castle and, after getting much of a blank look from my brother, Ken's most helpful answer was "get thrown in jail". (Alas, I hadn't had a chance to warn Ken about Vordb, although perhaps it should be the other way around.) He also told us that the bishop has his own chambers in the castle and that it's possible to meet with him.

I'll continue this journal later, hopefully in a more timely manner. Needless to say, there is much I want to catch up with my brother with, but likely that won't be penned in this particular log.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
June 25th, 7th day of Darkmoon

Thursday, April 07, 2011

On the road to Rinos, meeting much undead along the way

While we rested in Logging Town, Ayman and I tried to make heads or tails out of the items we'd picked up in the mine; nothing was evil, but a few of the items radiated magic. We wrapped things up in town and headed north in the company of Dorian and his men and Thrur the dwarf. I know this area well so I was able to lead the group slightly east, shortening the trip back to Woodland.

Once in Woodland, we headed to the guild hall and met with Micah, telling the guild master about the dragons (the one we slayed as well as the likely-cloud one that had flown overhead), goblin king, troll, evil priests, etcetera. Once that task was completed, Ayman and I went to find Batts, the guild's token goblin. Our mage explained to him that we'd picked up Gribble in the mine and wanted Batts to keep an eye on him while he set up a wizard workshop (or something like that, anyway). I stopped by the mosque, dropping off the extra dragon bones I'd acquired and spoke with Armand, then went to the apothecary with Ayman and Ghost. Merton told us about a wizard making potions of disillusion (I have a feeling our black dragon control potion was such) and we left some items there for him to research. Speaking of research, Ayman took a look at the scrolls we'd picked up- two were spells (dig and fireball spells) and one was a scroll with instructions left by the skeletal wizard down in the mine.

The scroll read thus:
"To the finder -- I was naught but a hedge wizard with a
vendetta; all my preparations were for naught. Dear reader,
please carry my torch. You will know what to do with my
possessions. My wand answers to Eko, Eno or Esa.
Beware what lies ahead and avenge me!-- Roderick"

Since we'd done a pretty thorough job of vanquishing the evil in the mine, it's probably safe to say the man was properly avenged.

While in Woodland we came across a human necromancer named Vordb (I hope I'm spelling that correctly) who was excited to meet Ayman. (I suppose tall human wizards flock together?) Linora handed the goblin king's crown over to Thrur and learned that he wanted to come to Rinos with us while Vordb, Ayman and I headed back to the apothecary. After introducing the necromancer, we were told what the items were that we'd dropped off.

We stayed in town for the June Festival; our old friend Cornwallis put on a show and spoke with us for a while. He'd been preforming to the west and told us that tales of our deeds had reached almost as far as the desert (just wonderful...) and that he hadn't seen the man who attacked him when last we met.

The next day we set off to Joven using the Gate, which had been refined and seemed to function better this time, not setting Shocko's pants on fire (alas, that had been amusing), and left Gribble behind with Batts. Before leaving the mosque in Joven, I picked up a copy of the better-functioning Gate plans. We found Dwight and talked about our latest adventures over lunch. He informed us that he'd be coming with us to Rinos, which no one had a problem with. He told us some somber news: the king is gravely ill and his heir is still rather young.

We set off to Rinos that afternoon with two of Dwight's men and Thrur. We stopped for the night in Garrison where I sent a letter west to my brother, informing him that we'd reach the city in about a week. That night Ghost and Dwight caught a pair of men trying to break into the inn; they were apparently repeat offenders who had broken out of jail, as we learned from the sheriff.

The next day while on the road we came across a group of hooded figures heading our way, garbed in rough brown robes. When they didn't answer our greeting, they pulled back their hoods and we saw that they were in fact skeletons. I quickly Blessed the group as Ayman threw fire and our group attacked. I decided to try out that Ring of the Ram, and after some problems (who knew a ring of strength required... well, strength?), I hit two. Dwight exploded one with his sword and they turned to flee- Vordb was able to stop this by summoning bats and sending them at the skeletons. Eventually we killed (rekilled? Unkilled?) them all and piled them off on the side of the road, then continued on our way.

Around midnight we reached the town of Purewell. Dwight told us we were nearing Waterford, the town next to the river, and the next morning we set off again. Around noon we met with a group of fishermen and their wagon of fish (obviously). Most of us bought some and the men informed us that they'd heard about creepy monsters coming out of the trees at night. We thanked them for the fish and made camp that evening. While on watch, Shocko heard sounds to the north and Linora flew ahead in bat-form. She discovered a few stinking hunched figures in the bushes and flew back to awaken the rest of us. We started to attack and saw that they were a group of misshapen humanoids- ghouls. We dispatched the lot of them and when one ended up smelling worse than the others, Vordb explained that that one was actually a ghast (but was not particularly aghast by this news).

The rest of the night passed without event and we traveled on, eventually reaching the town of Waterford. In the Old Kettle Inn, the innkeeper was excited to see Dwight and sent a boy off to get the mayor and constable. He told us of a terrible problem: young townspeople (three children and two young women) had been kidnapped in the late evening recently. The constable had caught a glimpse of the kidnapper and told us that it had been man-height and had headed north. After forgetting just who my companions were and digging myself into enough trouble to need a shovel, Ghost left to use her tracking abilities. I asked to be shown the houses where the kidnappings had occurred to see if that would help, and discovered that two had been near the north wall, two at the inn just north of center, and one was to the northeast. The children had been taken from outside their homes and the two from the inn had actually been upstairs.

Ghost found that the tracks were clawmarks rather than human, and proceeded to lead us north into the hilly barrow downs where warriors from the orc wars were buried. The smaller barrows seemed undisturbed, so we headed to the large one in the center. The strongest members of our party got the door open and we entered to find the expected alcoves and slabs and the like, as well as piles of bones, scraps of armor and old weapons. We made our way through a few chambers to a larger one with a dim light, all the while hearing a thumping sound. Inside were about nine ghouls and a figure in a grey dress with long hair, holding something on its lap. The battle began, our fighters charging into the fray while Vordb and I summoned a tag-team assortment of rats and stinging insects. At this time the figure rose and charged at Shocko, shrieking and trying to claw at him. Vordb then greased the floor (it appears he's been learning from our mage) while Ayman instead created a large web. Dwight chanted and sent the remaining ghouls and that shrieking thing straight into the webbing. Everyone continued to attack and the paladin swung at the loud thing with light and the smell of brimstone, snuffing it out of existence (and leaving the room much quieter). He informed us that it was a wight, something that sucks the lifeforce out of you.

Still hearing the hammering sound, we followed the noise to find a cage in the chamber containing the missing, frightened children as well as a skeleton in full armor. This skeleton was banging on the cage, hence the sound. Ghost cut the cage open to free the captives and we gave food and water to the humans while the skeleton walked over to the door, obviously the guardian of the barrow. The wight had been sitting on a pile of bones, but the thing it had been holding was a black pearl necklace wrapped in a piece of silk. Unraveling this, we found that it was a tapestry of a young lady in a grey dress and a young noble clad in armor identical to that which the skeleton was now wearing. Dwight, being versed in this kind of subject, told us that this was Sir Maynard, one of the famous heroes of the orc wars, who'd kept the orcs out of Waterford while he and his men held the river. Maynard's name was not on any of the crypts, however, so we were unsure what to do with the tapestry and the necklace; Ghost tried giving it to the skeleton, but it did not respond, so she placed it on one of the crypts. As we left, Ayman put some sort of magic lock on the barrow.

Back in town we returned the unfortunate children to their parents who were obviously pleased to have them back. We explained that they had been taken by ghouls to the barrow downs and Ghost asked about Sir Maynard. She was told that after he died defending the town, his lady went crazy and fled town- we think that strange shrieking monster was likely her.

Tomorrow we continue on our journey to Rinos, hopefully meeting with less undead along the way.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
June 17th, 5th day of Bleakmoon

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

More with the goblin mine - we vanquish evil

One of these days I'll update this journal in a timely manner. Possibly. Anyway, after some resting and plotting, we poked around (okay, looted) the king's chamber, tossing the weapons down the pit, then sealed it up with some broken doors and a chest. We left behind those too injured to help, taking Dorian, Katah, Ham, Lt. Thigpen and four others with us, and continued towards that underground lake. Along the way, we noticed that the dead hobgoblins and bugbears were now missing, as were the spear-bearing hobgoblins that had recently lined the windowed chamber.

We entered the huge cavern and noticed that it was lit by glowing fungus and moss. The floor appeared to be water with islands that we could step onto. Off in the distance we saw the large island with the fortress. Stepping forward, Linora called out to the dragon. It popped out of the murky water and hit her with a blast of acid. She quickly downed the potion of dragon control and attempted to get it to obey her; she learned that its name was actually Makulok, not Menulok, as we'd assumed, but she was unable to trick it into believing that someone had taken something from his hoard. Laughing and saying that he needed no help from any man, he sunk back into the water. Linora yelled at him to attack the castle, but instead he flew back and began spitting acid at us again. Obviously the potion was not effective. I tried Charming it into taking a nap, but that failed, too. All of us rather at a loss of what to do now, Ghost called out to Khrom-Vel (and the Master, as well) using her tattoo, which began to glow. As I began to Bless the group, both Ayman and Ghost heard a voice in their heads. As the group began attacking him, I cast Silence, momentarily stunning it, which seemed to help Linora. She chopped through his neck, slaying the evil dragon, and did a silent dance on the way back down to ground level.

Monster out of the way, we again rested- and again looted, this time the dragon's body. We located two long boats nearby and rowed across to the island with the fortress. Linora batted her way up to the fortress and found no one. Ghost went ahead and found doors on the other side of the island. We tied the oars under the dock in case anyone came by and made our way to the doors. Shocko was unable to pick them open, so Ayman wraithed through the crack and entered the building, then turned human again to turn the crank that opened the doors.

Inside we came to two doors; splitting up, we opened them simultaneously to a voice saying “What treachery is this?”. Yes, we'd located the goblin king, as well as a few others in a banquet hall. I cast Heat Metal at the king while Ayman put the goblins and a hobgoblin to sleep. The king began chanting something about thralls crushing our skulls and tentacles popped out of the floor, grabbing one of Dorian's men, Linora and Shocko. Ghost fired an arrow, but the king deflected it with his bracers then shot an acid bolt at SwampFox. I noticed the king's armor and dispelled its magic, yelling to the group to aim for him now. As Dorian's men and our fighters attacked the tentacles, Ghost fired more arrows at the king, who pulled off his crown as it was now burning hot. Ayman spooked one of the bugbears, causing it to run the wrong way to hide. Recovering, the king cast some sort of slowness spell, hitting everyone but me and SwampFox, who was finally able to free himself from the tentacle that had grabbed him. Unfortunately Linora got caught again and one of Dorian's men were killed, but Ghost continued to fire at the king. Trying to free my friends from their sluggishness, I cast a spell; it worked on Ayman and Shocko. Able to move at normal speed now, Ayman fired a dart at the king. Amazingly, that worked! The king coughed and fell to his knees and Linora set her dog on him.

The tentacles and other enemies gone, the king gasped that he wanted to be carried to his bed. Ghost obeyed and carried him upstairs as Ayman went ahead to check that the room was secure. As the king lay there, he explained that he had been a man once and that this was his curse. He was apparently slain and came back into this body, but didn't remember his original name.

Once the king was deceased, Linora flew off to try to locate the dragon hoard. We rowed the boats over and looted the loot, then headed back out of the cavern. Back in the armory in the mine, we gave the king's food to those injured, and I handed Dormaggs' staff to Katah's druid companion, which he seemed happy about. We made our way to the arena where we found that the slaves had tossed the goblins and hobgoblins into the pit with the troll. A dwarf named Thrur had become the leader of the slaves and we spread the news that the king and dragon were now dead. I went to retrieve our goblin friend Gribble while Linora showed the crown to Thrur, who said that it was mithril- what they'd been mining. The remaining goblins saw us (well, Linora) with the goblin king's crown and fled. Thrur told us that the dwarves would come to the mine so it would be cleared of goblins.

We made our way back to the surface; luckily it was night so we weren't blinded. We rested until daybreak, then made our way to Logging Town. We informed the mayor that we'd found slaves and killed the king and dragon, but that goblins were still there. The mayor gave me a letter to take to the king in Rinos, which I promised would get there. Comfortably back in Messenger-mode, I sent a message to the guild letting them know that we were successful on our mission.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
May 24th, 3rd day of Darkmoon. Or so.

((This is a good place to stop; will post the rest soon.))

Monday, April 04, 2011

Some letters sent from Joven

Ken,                                                                              June 14th
Friends and I are heading west in company of ex-traveling companion. I have message of some importance to bring to Rinos; once delivered, I shall seek you out. Have much I want to tell you and would like to introduce you to said group.

Still no word from R and am rather worried, hoping you have news.

See you in a week or so,

This first letter was tied to a bird and sent off about a day's travel away from Joven.


This letter was sent north from Joven. Cyneric is from the south, but his parents have since relocated to the northern coast. This is quite to his liking, as it means he has an excuse for infrequent contact.

After spending my entire life avoiding what you tried to force me into, I've stumbled onto a path much like that anyway. Hope you are happy and thank you for leaving me so screwed up that I feel too guilty to enjoy it properly. You elitist snots can bite me.

... Where did THAT come from? He really needed to pay more attention to what he was writing as this clearly isn't what he wanted to say... although he'd sheepishly admit that getting those words out felt good. Crinkle that up and toss it into the waste basket. Try again with more tact.

I figured now would be wise to send you word as I am traveling through Joven and word would reach you quickly with the least amount of effort on the part of my brethren. No use asking one to travel far to where he won't be appreciated and likely will be thrown out on his arse as soon as he hands over this letter.
... Sigh. Crinkle that up, try once more. It's not like they'd actually do that. Probably. Possibly. Hopefully.

I am traveling through Joven and thought now would be a good time to contact you. As I've learned recently, word of the endeavors of my traveling companions and I has spread far, so I imagine you have an idea of what I have been experiencing, should you have cared to listen. Likely this is exaggerated, but perhaps now you will finally be pleased with your pacifistic, pariah son.
Crinkle crinkle, curse, grumble. One more try and if that doesn't work, he'll admit defeat and go back to pretending that his parents don't exist for a while.

I am traveling through Joven and, as I am relatively nearby, wanted to contact you. However, since it is west to Rinos my companions and I are headed, rather than north, a letter shall have to suffice. I hope that you and Mother are doing well and that the coast has proved an environment of comfort to the both of you.

Upon reaching Joven, I learned that news of my traveling party's exploits have reached great distances. I am not overly pleased with this, but I am going to assume that it means you've heard word of me, as well. Likely this has been exaggerated. However, yes, it means your clerical son has become an adventurer of some distinction. It is certainly not the path I wanted to end up on, but I am sure this is more to your liking than the thought of me toiling away in the backwaters, delivering mail from anyone who wandered into the mosque that day. I know you have always disliked that I entered into the priesthood (and this one in particular), so any amount of heroics is probably an improvement.

While in Rinos, I shall try to keep track of who is what and what is where because I know that sort of thing is of interest to you and Mother, but I have a feeling that Kendric is far better at relaying such news than I. Still, I will dutifully try to keep my eyes open.

We are setting out momentarily, so I must quickly seal this letter and ask one of my brethren to take care of it for me.

As I wrote above, I hope this finds you both well.
Your son,

Well, that'll have to do. It's unlikely his rather obtuse father would catch the contempt he felt, anyway, and this was about as civil as he could bring himself to sound. At least it appeared that he said all the right things, even if in actuality he'd either "forget" about that promise or give slightly wrong information, depending on what kind of mood he was in that day. Why did his family always have to be so difficult to deal with?

((Typing up the last few adventures now, but figured I may as well post these letters here as well as on my writing blog. What the heck, right?))

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Into the endless goblin mine- a rescue mission filled with chaos and monsters

Once again I have been lax in updating this journal, so this will be an incredibly long entry. I shall try to summarize as best I can to keep this short, but no promises. Where to begin...

After our druid was slain, we finally pulled back from the mine, unfortunately not soon enough for Dormaggs. After some time and heated discussion (er... largely on my own part), we decided to try locating a different entrance to the south. We were successful, but quickly became lost as the mine tunnel branched and turned every which way. Fortunately Ghost is a skilled tracker so we had something to follow.

After wandering for a bit, we came across a group of goblins: the first of many to come. We surrounded them from two tunnels and quickly eliminated all but one, whom I charmed in order to gleam information about the humans and halfling we were seeking (humans were downstairs, he hadn't seen a halfling). The goblin led us through more of the maze-like mine, but only to the stairs down. Leaving him there, we continued downwards.

Soon we came to an area where the floor appeared to be swept clean. Unsure of what to make of this, Ghost tossed a rope forward. When nothing happened but a "thud", Ayman cast Detect Magic and discovered a flask floating in the hallway. Shocko, being Shocko, stepped forward into a stinging blob and was pulled out by Linora- it turns out it was a gelatinous cube that had swept the floor. Ayman and Ghost teamed up to melt it into a stinking pile of goo and another cube nearby was taken down with yet more flame, and we began our search again.

Ghost located more tracks and led the way- into a shallow pit, as it turned out. She climbed out without much harm and we followed her on. Next we came to a lit room with a table, benches, boarded-up walls to the left and right, and an assortment of goblins, hobgoblins, and a bugbear waiting for us in alcoves to either side of the door (I'd have preferred more tables instead). We killed this group of monsters, too, and this time it was the dying bugbear I charmed for information- we'd have to "go deep, very deep" to find those we sought. We dragged the ex-monsters into the alcoves and poked at the boarded areas to no avail; likely it was just more rock behind them.

Wandering on, we came across another room like this one, minus the monsters. This time one of the boarded areas housed a secret door and a very dead wizard holding a scroll and quill in his skeletal hands. Unsure if the scroll was harmful, we had the illiterate Shocko take a look at it. He found it to contain three-quarters of a page of writing in a script he didn't recognize- certainly not Common. Another scroll the dead man possessed was much the same, but figuring now was not the time to read something mysterious, Ghost stashed these away. Detecting Magic on the body showed us some glowing objects, which I removed: a ring, two potions, and an iron wand. After saying a quick prayer over the body, we continued on, ever downwards.

Soon Shocko discovered another body, this time propped up against a large iron chest, in a cavern that smelled of old fire. The box was locked, so we decided to leave it alone. Finding this area to be a dead end, we backtracked and went a different way at the fork in the corridor. Here we found a room with stairs that led down about five flights into an unlit chamber. Hearing echoes, we decided to head back up the stairs and rest instead of exploring further.

Rested, we continued on. Well, down, then on. We left the room at the foot of the stairs and found our way into another one, where a piece of the ceiling suddenly decided that it wanted to squash Ghost. We took it down with the help of my air elemental and Ayman's Enfeeblement spell, but I warned everyone to try to not pop it- this was the creature I'd been seeking to create a mischievous item. After retrieving its bladders (don't ask), Ghost led us to another door- which proceeded to grab her and talk of how it wanted to eat her. Clearly this was not Ghost's day. Ayman attempted to Grease it, but only ended up with a slippery floor. Figuring the door was at least slightly intelligent since it was still threatening our elf, I used my Rod of Beguiling to charm it into dropping her. This turned out to work better than I'd expected, and we were able to get some information from the door: more humans than our party had been past and killed goblins, but it didn't recall any halflings recently. The door kindly moved aside and we went the way it directed us. Who knew doors could be so friendly? (Okay, yes, it was a mimic, I know, but a door sounds so much more amusing.)

Through more of the mine we went, and found yet more goblins, as is to be expected in a goblin mine. Once again we took them out and I charmed one to serve as a guide. Most of the group scouted ahead, finding more goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears. Gribble, my new goblin friend, informed me that humans were being used as slaves in the big mines in the warrens and that he could take us there.

As we followed the goblin, Ghost quickly got rid of a slumbering goblin guard and stole his keys, then used them on a nearby door, behind which she found a box of silver coins. Traveling on again, Gribble led us to a creepy room with bones in a deep pit and a single column in the center. We found planks to place across to the pillar and, as we crossed to the other side, the bones began to rumble below. This faded as we quickly left the room, none of us wanting to stay to check it out further.

Into another chamber we went, this one lit by torches on pedestals around a pit- and an open wall all around the outside housing monsters, which took Ghost by surprise. More hobgoblins and goblins, more attacking, more monsters slain. Exiting the room via a door at the bottom of the pit (Ghost using her newfound keys), we continued on to what turned out to be a room with traps in the ceiling through which goblins would drop things down on whoever tried to cross. This Linora discovered by flying up through the ceiling in bat-form, irking a few of them in the process. Instructing my air elemental to go up through the ceiling, it chased the goblins out of their hiding place and down to us. Chasing them again with the elemental, they turned and ran off the direction we were heading.

More tunnels, more traveling, another staircase down. Gribble carefully led us where monsters weren't... until he stumbled into a room filled with lots of goblins. More fighting, but this time the goblins again got away. The room now cleared, Ghost and SwampFox scouted ahead and found a group of hobgoblins. Hearing their shouts, the rest of us ran in to help, and cleared this room, as well.

We rested, but not for long. Ayman had cast the image of a giant wyrm in the doorway to keep monsters away, but it had the opposite effect: instead of scaring them away, they came well-armed and aware of our presence. They shouted at us to come out and we came up with a quick plan; Ayman cast Invisibility on all but Ghost, who went out as a decoy. She claimed that her group had left her behind and, when they came in to search the room, we were able to invisibly avoid them. This plan was not perfect, however, and Ghost was taken away.

Sneaking out, Gribble told us that they were taking her to the king in a big room to fight Gralla, a big monster that eats goblins and had never been defeated, and that she would be kept in a small cell until then. He also told us that humans had been pushed into a "snackrificial" pit (clearly we lost something in the translation) by shamans and were never seen again. He led us, still invisible, through a huge chamber where slaves were mining, which contained a big pit with seating all around, and through a small tunnel to a small, musty room that he informed us was secret.

Here we were able to rest, plan, and, in my case, pray for guidance. Hermes granted me a detailed poem of what we should do to rescue Ghost and those we came to save, and, armed with that information and an idea of what to do, we set off to get Ghost back. Still under Ayman's invisibility, we followed Gribble back to the large room and downstairs to the arena, where we passed a huge thing being brought in. Hurrying into the arena, Ayman tossed Ghost her sword and we beat a hasty retreat back upstairs. Once in position, we proceeded to cause as much chaos as possible; I magicked one of the large fires into a screen of smoke, then used the air elemental to dispense the smoke in a wider area. Linora, SwampFox, and Shocko attacked wildly, while Ayman yelled out confusing phrases he'd learned from Gribble, then Greased the stairs, causing hundreds of goblins to fall into the pit with the monster, which turned out to be a troll. The troll thus occupied, Ghost and the two men captive with her (a wood elf we'd met earlier and one of Dorian's men) were able to leave the arena and aid the chaos.

Linora and Shocko reached the bugbear goblin king (what I mean is the goblin king was a bugbear, not that he was a bugbear goblin), but he escaped with his guards, casting a giant hand to block the tunnel. Here the party split up again; switching back to bat-form, Linora flew off to follow the king, while the rest of us regrouped to head back downstairs. Ayman turned into a wraith to open the gate for us, we set the nearby slaves free, and proceeded down.

Here we reached a tunnel with goblins in rooms to either end. I charmed the one group to go after the other, thus saving us the trouble, and we continued on until we reached a room with four bugbears- exactly what Hermes' rhyming advice had told us to look out for. We killed them and stole their keys, using those to open the door they were guarding. Once on the other side, Ghost locked the door behind us so we could rest and those who were injured could recover somewhat. Soon, though, two hobgoblins came into sight- but our pirate captain had been following them, and we made short work of the monsters.

Linora told us of what she'd discovered during her time as a bat: an underground lake, a fortress where the king was now housed, and a dragon. These, too, were what Hermes had somewhat cryptically alluded to. Following Linora, we continued, with Ayman marking walls with ink should any of us get lost, to a room with more hobgoblins. These were behind small windows, wielding pikes, and blocking the way through. Ayman had the rather amusing idea to cast a spell on himself, effectively making ten Aymans, and distracted the hobgoblins while the rest of us crawled through to the other side of the room, where we discovered crawl-holes which the monsters had used to get to the windows. Those strong enough tried to grab the pikes, but this wasn't successful. With no other way to keep the hobgoblins where they were, I again used my charm magic to tell them to stay there and not follow us, at least giving us some time to get away. I was also able to learn that they'd never seen any humans, we'd meet large monsters if we went the wrong way, the dungeons were through the warrens, and some things we already knew- that the king was powerful and could do magic and there was a dragon down there.

Here we discussed it again and decided that instead of traveling on to face the king and dragon, we'd backtrack to try to locate Dorian's group. Retracing our footsteps, we headed back to the room opposite where I'd set goblins against goblins and found a staircase down. Here we found a thick wooden door; Shocko attempted to pick the lock, but had to rely on SwampFox breaking it down with his axe. On the other side we found a torture chamber, much to our disgust and anger, and another door that had to be broken down. Following the tunnel on the other side of that door, we reached a room with cells. Shocko and SwampFox worked together to get the cell doors open and we freed a group of Dorian's men. The lieutenant in charge told us that he'd seen Dorian dragged past, but he wasn't here. Leaving SwampFox and Linora's dog to guard those who weren't in fighting shape, we continued through the next door Shocko opened.

In this room we found a bugbear; he sounded an alarm horn and five more came at us. Not wanting to waste time on another battle, I charmed the group of them into dropping their weapons and giving us their keys and horns, and we locked them into one of the large empty cells. They told us that Dorian had just been taken away a few minutes before to the pit- not good! I volunteered to stay behind to free the rest of the prisoners while the rest of the group hurried off to follow Dorian, and I sent my fox to retrieve SwampFox and the dog.

I later learned that bugbear and hobgoblin priests had been about to shove Dorian into a pit, but instead got pushed into the pit themselves after our party killed them (serves them right). They successfully rescued the paladin and retrieved Ghost's possessions from the high priest's room, then came back to the cell area where I'd since freed the prisoners: the rest of the Joven party, Katah's (the wood elf) companions, and our friend Homer, the halfling we'd been seeking. We'd also located the armory, so the once-prisoners were now armed. Ayman explained to me exactly what the monsters' holy symbol tattoos had looked like, and I knew them to be priests of the cult of Skiggaret, the bugbear god of fear. Ugh, evil priests. Here's to hoping my friends exterminated all of them, but evil priests are like rats- they spawn en masse right where you don't expect them to be.

So here we sit, resting and plotting for a plan to take on the dragon and king at the underground lake. At least we now have the benefit of numbers, so that's an advantage.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
May 22nd, 1st day of Darkmoon... ish. Honestly, at this point I have no idea of the date. Just for the hell of it, I'm calling it Tuesday.