Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7
It's not every day that one finds a sentient evil sword and buries it in a pillar of stone. I'm not even sure it really happened. I pretty sure I just finally snapped, and what you are reading are the ramblings of a madwoman. Then again, here's a sackful of gold, jewels, and weapons that tells me I'm at least not completely imagining the events of the last 24 hours.
So yes, let me ramble. Where did I leave off? Test of Tactics; right! I forgot to tell you that Gelros used some sort of special soap to wash both Kris and Shella so they could shake off the demons' mind paralyzing effect. After that, there was some discussion that I tuned out while I wrote my previous journal entry. The conclusion was to finish the exploration of the passageways around us before moving deeper into the cave.
The Test of Balance: After our usual roping up trick, we found our way back to the entry and went down the left-hand passage. This passage came out at a huge, smooth disc on the floor, which turned out to be a balance beam of sorts: you had to balance just right to walk across to the far side. I was busy brainstorming a way to rig a rope across when Narzeth floated the idea of using his flight spell. On the dinosaur. Yes, please, let that sink in: Narzeth cast flight on Spike, Kris's stegosaur. And so began the tale of how I got to live out one of my specific fantasies: riding on a flying dinosaur.
But, like all dreams, elements of it were just weird. First, Spike has no wings. Also, I hadn't anticipated riding alongside five of my closest friends or teaching Kris on the fly how to properly steer a bareback mount. But whatever; we flew right over that disc.
The Test of Agility: Through the misty passageway beyond the Test of Balance came a room I shall call the Test of Agility. This was a cylindrical chamber full of spindly half-pillars of varying heights. It was pretty clear that the intent is for a supplicant to jump from pillar to pillar across the room. But screw that. We were on a FLYING DINOSAUR. We flew Spike straight across to the other side and bypassed the pillars altogether, even when a hurricane-force gust of wind nearly blew us all off his back.
From the Test of Agility we arrived back in the chamber of the Test of Prowess. We decided at this point to rest, and did so. Surprisingly, nothing tried to eat us while we slept.
Armag's Army: Rested and ready, we passed beyond the test of prowess into a natural cavern. Turns out this cavern was filled with a skeletal army. We did what one does with hostile skeletons: we disarticulated them.
The Guardian: Beyond the Cavern of Surprisingly Disciplined Skeletal Soldiers, we found a huge man (I guess?) who appeared to be the guardian of the tomb. He stood sentinel in an ornate chamber that appeared very clearly a temple to Gorum, even to my untrained eye. This man was too ancient in attire and mannerisms to be a true priest; he was more of a shaman. In any case, he was not threatening, but instead simply watched as Shella entered the chamber.
"You can die or you can get out of the way. I am so sick of this place." That's our Shella! To my surprise, the shaman looked Shella up and down in careful assessment, and then stood aside for us to pass: "Armag awaits you in the following chamber." Shella told me later that this fellow is a "divine guardian of Gorum" (her words, not mine) appointed to guard this temple for eternity. Sure; fine; whatever.
Armag: Past the guardian was a door carved with one of the insignia of Gorum: a massive fist. Shella strode through like she owned the place. (Who knows; maybe she does now. I'm not up on Gorum's property succession guidelines.) In the next chamber we found a man pacing among braziers of fire with a giant greatsword, swinging it rhythmically. The corpses of many of the barbarian warriors littered the floor. When he saw us, he shouted maniacally, "My enemies are here! I knew they would come!"
Shella stepped up. "Armag" charged. The doorway became a choke point, surrounded by skeletons holding shields to assist their master. Both Gelros and Narzeth flung spells at the greatsword-wielding madman, but the spells had no effect. Even I had a hard time getting arrows in; I ended up focusing on the skeletons instead just to knock some of the damn shields out of the way.
Shella, on the other hand, was born for this. She and Armag went toe-to-toe, trading blows that would have bifurcated any normal person. And here is where it got seriously weird: the sword was screaming, and the ground began oozing literal blood and guts. Kris slipped on an intestine and nearly went down. Gelros teleported himself and Spike back behind Armag, and I lost track of him… although I could hear fireballs flying. Jaric shouted something, while Narzeth snapped a skeleton in two with a word. Then Shella cut Armag in half at the waste, and it was over.
"Armag" turned out to be the sideshow. The main attraction was the sword. The next few moments were… uncomfortable. First, the sword complained audibly, "Well, isn't anyone going to pick me up?" Second, Shella picked up the sword. Next thing I know, she's standing tall and demanding fealty from all in sight. She was so terrifying that all of us knelt… even Gelros. It was involuntary. It was also not normal.
A look at Shella's face told me she wasn't all there. And I swear I could see her hobgoblin features soften ever so slightly and the ghost of a beard appear even as I watched. Shella-not-Shella turned to march toward the far end of the room, and Jaric, Gelros, and I immediately huddled up. "You think it's the sword?" "Yes, it has to be." "Jaric, I'll distract him. You make him snap out of it."
Gelros began quietly chanting, and Shella turned around. She stopped, watching Gelros. Jaric came up next to her, muttered something, and touched her arm. Almost immediately, the crazy look vanished as Shella jammed the sword point-first between two stones in the floor. What followed is one of the most bizarre conversations I've ever witnessed. It went something like this…
Sword: "No! Take me up; together we will slay the enemies of Gorum!"
Shella: "Let me be perfectly clear: I forge my own destiny. You can follow ME on MY adventures and perpetually feel the glory of blood on your blade, or you can lie here in the cold unfeeling ground for eternity."
Sword: "I… I will have to think about it."
We later asked the guardian about the sword. It is called Ovinrbaane, and "only a true champion of Gorum can wield it." The guardian asked us, "Will you not take the sword?" To which Shella replied, "Maybe. I do not relinquish my claim, but I will leave it here. For now." The guardian assented to this, but could not guarantee that another champion would not take the sword in Shella's absence. So, Gelros ensconced the cursed thing in a pillar of stone using that lyre of his. Like you do.
The Tomb: There is little more to the story. The tomb of the real Armag (not the insanity-induced Armag impersonation) lay just beyond the chamber of the dead barbarians. It was filled with treasure as I have never seen, not even in Vordekai's lair. With Shella's permission, we took all of it. I guess the sanctity of tombs isn't a thing with Gorum per se.
On the way out, Shella attempted to convince the guardian to come fight for Gorum in the arena, but he swears his place is with the tomb. He did take us directly to the entrance, somehow, which is in part what makes this whole thing feel like a hallucination. But regardless, the Tomb of Armag has been explored and plundered, and now we face the other pressing issue: the leaderless barbarian horde on its doorstep.
- Defeat Armag (57,600 XP)
- Convincing the Shaman Zorek to stand aside (28,800 XP)
- Cavern of the Slain (19,200 XP)
- Surpassing the Test of Agility (14,400 XP)
- Passing the tilting floor trap (7,200 XP)
- Masterwork breastplate (x4)
- +2 keen dagger (x4)
- Unholy symbol of Gyronna (x4)
- Spell component pouch (x4)
- Bric-a-brac and traveler's castoffs worth a total of 2,100 GP
- +1 Breastplate bearing heraldry of Gorum (x10)
- +1 Greatsword bearing heraldry of Gorum (x10)
- <s>200 arrows</s> (claimed by Nith)
- Statues of Gorum worth 1,700 GP
- Crates full of old helms worth 1,100 GP
- Potions of cure serious wounds (x3)
- +3 full plate with masterwork armor spikes
- +2 keen battleaxe
- Ovinrbaane (left entombed)
- Amulet of natural armor +2
- Belt of physical might +2 (Strength and Constitution)
- Ring of protection +2
- Cloak of resistance +4
- Headband of inspired wisdom +2
- +3 hide armor of light fortification with +2 dragonbone armor spikes
- +3 heavy steel shield of arrow catching
- 98 PP, 17,847 GP, 35,425 SP, 73,253 CP
- 2 diamonds (1,000 GP each)
- 1 large diamon (5,000 GP)
- 1 fire opal (1,000 GP)
- 6 violet garnets (500 GP each)
- Electrum crown with a blue star sapphire worth 4,500 GP
- Pair of silver armbands worth 1,850 GP
- Malachite-adorned gold necklace worth 1,350 gp
- Belt of incredible dexterity +2
- Headband of vast intelligence +2
- Bracers of armor +2
- Salves of the Second Chance (x2; worth 2000gp each)
- Bag of holding type II
- Belt of giant strength +2
- Horseshoes of speed
- Necklace of fireballs (type II)
- Pearl of power (2nd level)
- 1 dose of restorative ointment
- Ring of counterspells (contains enervation)
- Wand of heroism (50 charges)