Kingmaker

Power Overwhelming
He needs focus...

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11

Nomen Village

We escaped. We only lost one, and she is now restored to us. That's an achievement in itself, in my book, but bittersweet. The writing of this journal becomes urgent now, not as catharsis, but as a record: if we should fall someone needs to know what we faced in there.

By now, dear reader, you know that we had found a magical gemstone eye, a focus of some kind (as we came to learn) and brimming with evil power (as Jaric found when he opened his soul's eye to it later). Shella pried it from the wall. (The rest of us were standing well back, half expecting the room to implode, or explode, or some other hideous fate to befall Shella. But Shella was not to be deterred.) For a moment, we thought it was all successful; Shella reappeared around the corner tossing the gem blithely in the air and calling out to Gelros.

And that is when they appeared. I will call them the Emaciated One and the Corpulent One; it seems fitting. The Emaciated One was mere skin and bones and tattered rags, with a single red crystalline gem in its single eye socket. This, we believe, is the Vordekai of the legends. The Corpulent One has a name too—I heard the Emaciated One speak it in the heat of battle—but I can't recall it now. It dominated the room, wearing the sort of armor you only ever see in low-brow horror paintings in the pop market and brandishing a giant flaming axe. They appeared with a crack of thunder and a sense of impending doom. (I'm not exaggerating here; that's exactly what it felt like.)

As I recall, the conversation went like this…

The Emaciated One: "Fools! Give me back my focus!"

Gelros Zhevons, Duke of Arboria: "Ah, no?"

And then they attacked.

Both of the monsters' eyes gleamed with that same ability we had previously observed in the lesser cyclops, only this time it appears they applied it to moving first and fastest. The Corpulent One swung his axes three times, and neatly divided Everiel into three pieces. Just like that, dead on the floor. I've seen death and war, but that hideous display shook me. It shook the others too, I could tell. Thankfully Shella didn't actually see it happen; I believe she would have lost her mind then and there.

The next few moments were chaos. I won't lie, we were in disarray. Shella came charging out the passage, murder in her eyes. Narzeth somehow managed to brush her on the way by and expand her to twice her normal size, making her equally as terrifying as the Corpulent One itself. I took a shot, hoping to dislodge that axe, but failed to land it. A tough shot at the best of times, but the nerves didn't help. Kris and his cat entered the fray too, but seemed mostly ineffective against that hideous non-Euclidean armor. Moreover, Kris paid for his movement by soaking a punishing axe blow.

Fortunately for us, the cyclops made mistakes too. The Emaciated One attempted to cast a spell right in front of Kris, Shella, and Shadetail; it didn't even attempt to dodge. Perhaps it has grown accustomed to it's own dominance and didn't expect resistance? In any case, my companions made it pay for that error, and it staggered back. It looked surprised, at least as surprised as dead skin and bones can look. I followed through with several arrows, which appeared only partially effective but still kept it busy ducking.

As Shella bore the brunt of the Corpulent One's wrath, both Gelros and Jaric tried to heal her, but failed. The same demoralizing aura and sense of dread I could so clearly feel was somehow affecting their healing magic too. Narzeth was able to use his boneshattering spell, but to be honest, the impact seemed quite limited to me. At this point, I was getting quite worried about losing Shella and therefore the fight, but at that moment the Emaciated One called a retreat. With another thunderous crack, they were gone. The words "Cephal, attend me!" echoed in the air.

Dishevelled, we looked at Gelros. He looked at a loss too, but then said simply, "We're leaving." And so we left. Oh yes, there was the minor matter of "Cephal" (we surmise), who turned out to be a zombified wizard and attempted to stop us with fire. We eliminated him as a threat. Remembering what had happened with the cyclops zombie, Kris took his body with us. We unceremoniously stuffed Everiel's remains into our bag of holding and beat a retreat.

Amazingly, we met no further resistance on our way out. Upon reaching our encampment outside the valley, we rested a brief night and then made all haste for the Nomen village, the Eye still in our possession. Gelros had a long discussion with Mother Moon. She is overjoyed at the safe return of Xamanthe (and has even gifted us Skybolt!), but the shadow of Vordekai's return hangs like a dark cloud over the celebrations. Shella has been dour and snappy since we ran from the Valley of the Dead; she detests leaving a fight unfinished.

Jaric returned Everiel from death. I am sure that was an expensive proposition. Never let it be said that Gelros does not invest in his followers. I was not present, but I hear Everiel had some strange experiences beyond the grave… something about chanting, fire, the sound of feet, and seeking the "trials." It sounded very religious. I don't go for that stuff, but what with the evil undead cyclops and all even I am reserving judgment this time.

I should also note that we identified Cephal: it turns out he is one of the lost leaders of Varynhold. Even to my poorly trained eye, his body clearly shows signs of extensive, methodical torture. His bones are broken and re-knitted (poorly); his robes are shredded. He possessed a number of powerful magical items. Now that he is a corpse, we relieved him of these. Jaric insisted on a proper burial, which is only right; the man was noble once. Before he became a dead and broken slave.

We have decided to break the Eye. Seeing as last time we did anything with it, the Emaciated and Corpulent Ones appeared, we're going about this carefully. Mother Moon has directed us to a pool at the top of a high waterfall, with a small island. Tomorrow, we will set an ambush there, and Shella will destroy the eye. I don't know what will happen then, but the terrain should at least be more favorable than an evil chamber in a dark fortress.

If I don't return, I've personally asked Xamanthe to carry this journal back to Arboria and warn them of what's coming. Jaric was praying; Everiel and Shella were sparring (I guess that's how they pray?). I don't pray, but if I did, this would seem like a good time. Instead, I spent the afternoon training Bessie and practicing archery with the centaur. Something to take my mind off the task to come.

Wish us luck.

XP

  • Defeat Cephal (6,400 XP)
  • Quest: Return Xamanthe (7,200 XP

Loot

  • Cephal's gear

    • Spellbook

      • 4th: Fire Shield, Lesser Globe of Invulnerability
      • 3rd: Fireball, Fly, Wind wall
      • 2nd: Acid arrow, Glitterdust (DC 14), Mirror Image, Scorching Ray
      • 1st: Burning Hands, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Shield
    • +1 Dagger
    • Ring of Protection +2
    • Rod of Lesser Selective Magic
    • Amulet Natural Armor +1
  • 9 potions cure moderate
  • Skybolt (Darkwood / Ivory +2 Thundering Composite Longbow STR +4)
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A place of Metal and Fire
Nomen Centaur Village

Metal.  Smoke.  Fire.  Marching Feet.

Everiel stirred from the table, the magic of the scroll fading as her spirit returned.   She looked around, seeing High Priest Jaric slowly lower his hands and the scroll he was holding crumbled to dust.   The Walls of the Mother Moon's hut surrounded her, thick with tapestry and animal hides.   in the light of a few simple lanterns, she could see the face of Shella, her Iron mother, look down.

How are you battle sister?, asked Shella. 

Everiel took a moment to recover, and said: "I am as well as someone who just returned from the bonds of death can be, Iron Mother."  "I am honored you would see fit to waste such valuable magics upon me."

Shella boomed out: "Ha, like i would let such a promising young candidate like you go to waste.  You fell by my side in Glorious Battle, and Gorum be Dammed if i was to let you stay cold in the ground when you could join us in yet more Battles of blood and Honor!"

Jaric askes: "Should i prepare the spells of restoration?  Gelros managed to find enough pure diamonds in out stash of gems to allow me to restore her to her full strength."

"Yes" replied Shella.  "I suspect we shall need Everiel in the coming fights with that damn cyclops duo."  

As Jaric begins the process to cast yet more divine spells, Shella leans in to speak with Everiel.  "Tell me sister, do you rember anything from your time beyond the veil?"

Everiel pauses, then speaks. "The last thing i remember mother, is that damn axe parting my spleen from my spine and burning out my breakfast through my nostrils."  "Though, i do remember a feeling of warmth, and the sounds of armies marching."

"Nothing Else?" asked Shella, as the glow of restorative magic began to seep into Everiel's skin.

"Well there was one more thing", said Everiel.  "I think I remember a voice reverberating in my head, saying Seek the trials."  "Thats the only thing i remember before waking up here."

"Innteresting," mumble Shella.

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An Overpopulation of Soul Eaters
It's like a parliament of owls or a school of fish.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11

Day 1.5? 1.7?

We finally found a place to rest. It's a hell-hole filled with dried blood, torture instruments, and Centaur feces, but, you know, it has a certain homey quality to it. More of a hovely quality, really. Like a literal hole in the ground. Formerly shared with the denizens of hell.

The shrine room was simultaneously a temple to some horrid deity and a gateway to this lovely corner of the dungeon. The tables were altars, and the cups were filled with dried blood. After poking around for a while, Kris carefully scrubbed out the cups and then gave us the all-clear to proceed. He assures us that by doing so he disabled some kind of horrible fire trap. Sometimes I think he is making stuff up just to pretend to earn his keep.

Beyond the shrine room we found a hallway of hewn stone, half finished. Passageways end in side alcoves; stairs ascend four steps and stop in midair. Of course, our ability to admire the shoddy architecture was cut short by a… demon? I guess? It inquired of Kris in whose name he dared to enter the chambers, and Kris replied (quite honestly, I might add) "In the name of Gelros Zhevons!" Well, the demon creature (apparently, a psychodemon, according to Gelros… although how the mental state of a pyschotic demon differs from a regular one I don't know) didn't respect that.

The psychodemon was a hard target. First, it clawed and grappled Kris. Second, Kris squirmed free. Third, it clawed and grappled Kris. You get the idea. Shella hit it, Jaric hit it, Narzeth cast his boneshattering spell (a couple times, it was apparently resistant), and generally everyone poured on the fury. It declined to die, for a while at least. Eventually, the demon emitted a cloud of noxious, stinking gas, which made Shella mad. So Shella finished it off. Done; moving on.

Meanwhile, a soul eater appeared. Everiel (she's coming in handy, that one) turned one on the psychodemon, which it happily helped murder. I then shot it to death. Another appeared and I shot it to death too. Good riddance.

At the end of the passageway (in the room we currently occupy), we found the centaur, Xamanthe, unconscious, bloodied, and paralyzed. Jaric healed her and released her from paralysis with a scroll, at which point she recovered and began conversing with Gelros in Sylvan. Xamanthe acknowledges being in way over her head and is thankful for the rescue. Upon entering the tomb, she was defeated by the cyclops zombies and brought to this place. She related being tortured by an emaciated cyclops with a single gem for an eye. She wants to go home.

We're spent for today; I've lost track of how many hours it has been since we slept. Much as none of us wants to sleep in this place, it seems the safest option to hole up where we are until we've rested and regained strength. Xamanthe has agreed to wait with us before we move.

Day… we'll call it 2, I guess

I'm writing in a lull in our exploration. This… morning seems an incorrect word, but I'll use it anyway… we woke cold and stiff in Xamanthe's temporary home, the torture chamber. During the "night," Shella had encountered and dispatched one of the zombies; on inspection it appears to be one we'd already destroyed once before. Someone, or something, is repairing them. If I had to guess, it would be this gem-eyed cylcops, who is beginning to sound a lot like the Vordekai of the centaur legends.

We escorted Xamanthe out of the fortress, retracing our steps to the entrance without incident. Outside, it was late morning. Bessie has left; her tracks lead back out of the valley. I can't blame her. Xamanthe headed out the same way. We, because we are fools, turned around and went back in.

When we woke earlier, I had the foresight to summon a centipede to scout the remainder of the fortress for us. At about the time that we returned to the shrine, it was back. I learned a little: the next chamber contained beings that made my vermin friend uneasy, and beyond there was a room full of heat, smoke, and sulpher. Finally, it found another path to the river, which is a useful insight.

We moved cautiously down the hallway and into a large chamber supported by two massive pillars. Here, unsurprisingly, we found soul eaters. Three, this time. We've learned now how to deal with these: Shella engaged and we dispatched them quickly. Now for the interesting part: to the right (as you enter the chamber) is a crack that leads to a passage filled with smoke and fumes. We haven't decided how to get through that yet, but fortunately there was another passage.

Straight ahead there was a door leading into the rock. Beyond this door lay a room with a huge cyclopean fresco and another, secret door, which Kris found behind a statue. This one was locked, both magically and with ordinary means. Narzeth dispelled the magical lock and Kris picked the regular one. Beyond was The Eye.

The Eye is a large gemstone fashioned as an eye and attached to the wall of the chamber. The whole room is so strongly magical even I can feel it. The walls are all covered in smaller painted images of eyes, all looking at that one central gemstone. Narzeth and Gelros studied it; Narzeth believes it may allow teleportation. Everything about that room suggests potent and dangerous magical rituals.

So, naturally, we've decided to steal it. (Well, perhaps "steal" is too strong a word when this entire place is clearly the lair of some evil villian whose very existence is a threat to our lands, but at the least we're claiming it as spoils of war.) So here I am writing, while Shella is in there with a crowbar working on removing it. What could possibly go wrong?

Experience

  • Disable Stygian fire trap (9,600 XP)
  • Defeat pyschodemon and soul eaters (14,400 XP)
  • Rescue Xamanthe (quest XP to follow later)
  • Defeat more soul eaters (XP?)

Loot

I got an eye, I got an eye, I got an eye, hey hey hey hey!

View
Give them the ol' angry eye.

 

..thieves will not be tolerated.  how dare they touch my focus.  Abaddon will aid me.

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Underwater Adventures, Inc.
Apply Within!

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11

Day 1, Ah… The heck with it; I've lost track of time in here

This temple (castle? dungeon? masoleum?) grows more deadly the further we proceed. It scares me. I wish I were in a forest. Hazards of the trade, but these are particularly risky.

I've lost track of time now, but it must be quite late. After the last room, we needed a breather, so I've taken the opportunity to write things down. If things keep up like this, I might not be around to record them much longer. (Am I cheering you up yet? How about a near-death experience? Hang on!)

In the cavern after the zombies we found a dinosaur. A DINOSAUR. Well, a pleiosaur, which Gelros identified as an elasmosaur. All of which isn't particularly relevant. What is relevant is that (a) it bit Kris, (b) I failed to make nice-nice with it before © everyone decided the best way to fight a large aquatic creature in its native habitat was to dive in the water after it. Needless to say, it was somewhat hard to chase down. In the end, Narzeth used some mind-altering confusion spell and it bit it's own head off.

By this time I had decided that I wasn't following the rest of the party to the bottom of a 50' deep pool and had swum back to secure ropes to rescue them. Sigh. Some good did come of it; Kris found a body at the bottom with a magical ring, which Narzeth believes grants freedom to move through water without impediment. Some good that did the poor bastard who decided to fight the elasmosaur.

Proceeding further required traversing a short underwater passage. I rigged a rope and explored it first; it turned out to be short and easily navigable. Beyond was a large chamber filled with gigantic, and valuable, cyclopean pottery. We stored some of the smaller samples for later inspection, and moved on.

Next came what I have decided to call The Watery Grave. (Ok, look, I'm a bit shaken up here; ask me for good puns some other day.) Amazingly, it appears our centaur friend had been this far; I could still see hoofprints in the dust. Also amazingly, she appears to not have set off the traps. Yes traps, with an s. We, however, found these the old fashioned way: by blundering into them.

The chamber itself was foreboding but relatively normal for a militaristic shrine: ancient cyclopean warrior statues lined the walls of a large room. Kris, Shella, Everiel, and I had just finished cautiously checking the far reaches of the chamber, when several things happened all at once:

  • Large portcullises at each of the room slammed down. (Incidentally, this meant Gelros, Jaric, and Narzeth were locked out.)
  • Holes opened in the ceiling, and water began pouring through, along with some large and unhappy eels.
  • Side alcoves opened, and some of our zombie friends emerged.

The next few seconds were chaos. Narzeth pressed up against the bars and called out to Shella, who subsequently doubled in size. (Yikes!) Meanwhile, Jaric managed to haul up a portcullis manually and Gelros quickly fashions his any-tool into a support and pops it in place. Kris tried but failed to find a way to disable the sudden influx of water, so instead Everiel used stone-shaping magic to close off half the holes. Shella proceeded to smash the zombies, who also smashed Shella to a large degree, and took a chunk out of Jaric as well. Meanwhile, I shot the eels just to keep the enemy count down.

At this point, we're knee deep in water filled with blood (some of it ours) and eel guts, trying to figure out how to get through the room while still preserving a path of escape. Jaric had somehow lifted the first portcullis, but the second was proving harder. Everiel tried twice and failed; Shella tried twice as well. In the end, Gelros rigged a lever with multiple of our any-tools and we all helped Shella pry the gate up. Finally, we blocked both sides with heavy statues before escaping, shaken and bleeding, to the dry hallway beyond.

And here we sit, soaking wet but recovering. Even this notebook is showing the wear, despite being well wrapped in waterproof skins. Jaric and Everiel are finishing some healing rituals, so I expect we will be moving on soon. The room ahead appears to be some kind of shrine.

Experience

  • Defeat elasmosaurus (4,800 XP)
  • Survive trap room (16,800 XP)

Loot

  • Silver raven figurine of wondrous power
  • Platinum and ruby ring of Freedom of Movement
  • +2 gray flame longsword
  • Ancient cyclopean pottery (small) samples
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I'm Going on a Valley of the Dead Trip, and I'm Going To Take...
A Banana!

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11

Preparations

After long consultations with the centaur, preparations, a visit to Restov, and more preparations, we're on our way to the Valley of the Dead. It's not entirely clear to me what we hope to find there, other than the centaur leader's daughter. I hope an alliance with the centaur is itself a worthy prize for this place.

Day 1, Morning: Into the Valley

This morning, we entered the valley. It turns out to lie at the foot of a huge mountain range, beyond an extensive network of foothills. At the entrance of the valley is a stone wall festooned with warning symbols and messages in the centaur's language. Naturally, we ignored these.

The valley itself is several miles long and filled with rows of ancient stone pillars. These appear crafted, and some are inscribed with some ancient form of the Cyclopean language. (Or so says Gelros, and as far as I'm concerned, he knows pretty much everything about everything… so there you have it.) There are thousands of these… some standing, some toppled and broken.

More than the stones, the feel of the valley was oppressive. Despite the sunshine, it felt dark and clammy. The animals apparently feel it too: as we moved further it became quiet and I could see no birds, or even insects. There is something powerful here, and unfriendly.

At the end of the valley, a stone staircase proceeds up the mountain. Here, a quick look at the dust patterns revealed that a hoofed creature (perhaps Xamanthe?) had passed up the staircase fairly recently. I also noticed strange dragging footprints. These, it turns out, belonged to Cyclopean zombies, who promptly ambushed us.

The zombies turned out to be only a slight threat, but there is a menace about them. Their single eyes flash as they attack; it's quite disconcerting. Although we defeated them in short order, they do look powerful and capable of dealing deadly blows. This despite the fact that their mummified flesh appears no less than thousands of years old. As Narzeth and Gelros examine them, I'm recording our progress in this journal. Soon we proceed up the stairs.

Day 1, Early Afternoon: Stair Climber

The stairs were long. Up here, the air is cooler and the sense of doom has slightly abated. (Or I'm getting used to living under a sense of impending doom. It could be that.) At the top of the stairs, we found a small valley with a waterfall and a deep pool. In the pool sits an island, and the centaur tracks make for it. On the island is a large stone pillar, with smoke curling from the top. Whatever we are seeking is probably inside.

First, though, I should mention the wyverns. There were wyverns! These we defeated by teamwork. Significantly more teamwork than usual, I might add. Narzeth worked some magic that allowed Shella to fly (!) and she engaged the creatures with her sword. Shella's companion Everiel, meanwhile, used some potent magic on my longbow (she said it was "bane" magic) which did appear to make my arrows more accurate and deadly to those poor wyverns. I, well, I shot wyverns from horseback. It's what I do. Turned out to be effective too, although I was a wyvern pincushion as well. Jaric took care of that, bless him.

I would be amiss if I didn't record here that Gelros slew a wyvern with sparkly lights from a wand. And that Narzeth fought others off with his balls. His lightning balls. They were truly shocking.

Now that that's out of the way: we took our folding boat (that thing has proven quite useful!) over to the island and found a crack in the rock. We're preparing now to enter.

Day 1, Afternoon: Into Darkness

I believe it to be late afternoon now, but it's pitch black in here so I'm not sure. I left Bessie at the entrance; I hope she has the sense to swim back to the meadow if we tarry too long. This cave is more of a passage, really: there are many alcoves and frescoes detailing ancient cyclopean exploits, cities, empires… it would be quite impressive as an archaeological find if I didn't feel at any second that something was going to jump out and eat me. Shella says the feeling is from the magic; the whole place is infused with transmutation magic. There are some magical runes as well, but Gelros says they have been triggered and spent. Possibly an alarm of some kind.

We found and dispatched another three zombies. We overkilled, really: too much firepower expended. Beyond is a secret passageway through the rock that Kris discovered. Kris is motioning us on and Shella looks impatient; I'll put this away for now.

Experience

  • Explore hills hex (7,11) (150 XP)
  • Defeat cyclops zombies (4,800 XP)
  • Explore mountain hex (8,12) (150 XP)
  • Defeat more cyclops zombies (7,200 XP)

Loot

  • (6) MW battleaxe (size large)
  • (8) Spiniels, worth 100 GP each
  • Silverware worth 75 GP
  • 37 GP
  • +3 Greatsword with Issian coat of arms
  • 689 GP minted with cyclopean runes/images
  • Large jade bracelet
View
Extraplanar Ant Monsters and Where To Find Them
And a menagerie of other exotic threats

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 10

Zzamas (that's apparently what the creepy spider lady's name is) turns out to have quite… interesting enemies. Gelros showed up in the morning; apparently he had made it most of the way to us the day before but needed some help from our main camp at locating our forward post. In any case, he spoke at length with Zzamas and a few things were decided.

 We followed Zzamas to her "home", which is apparently a large stone obelisk glowing faintly with magical energy in the middle of an otherwise barren field. Apparently it looks better in the ethereal plane? I don't know. Looked fairly forboding and inhospitable from this side. After some consultation with Zzamas, it became apparent that we had no way of engaging the Xill (the ant-creatures who you will soon meet), because they live on the Ethereal plane and we on the Material plane, although these planes coexist in space? This morning has been a crash course in interplanar geography from Gelros. It makes my head hurt.

As it turns out, we didn't have to wait long, because the Xill apparently thought we were an opportunity. We asked Zzamas to scout for them. She obliged, disappearing into thin air (plane shifting, I suppose), and reappeared moments later with a warning: "Careful friends! They are all around you!" Naturally, this put us all on alert. The enemy ambushed us moments later, popping into existence in a semicircle around our position. But seeing as we were ready for them, the ambush was less successful than it might otherwise have been.

Nevertheless, what ensued was one of the more horrific military skirmishes I have ever participated in. The Xill are monstrous: all insectisoid arms and legs, with beady eyes and large mandibles. Also swords. In what has become a depressing theme in recent combats, one bit me as Bessie and I tried to overrun its' comrade to escape. And promptly paralyzed me. I must be losing my edge. In fairness, nearly the same thing happened to Kris. So within a few seconds, two of us were down for the count. (As I would find out, Xill poison lasts for hours.)

But what came next was worse. While we were paralyzed, the Xill deployed some kind of proboscus and implanted (shudder) eggs into our chest cavities. Eggs! And you thought regular maggots were bad. Ugh. The worst part of this was being fully conscious throughout the whole thing.

Somehow, I was still in the saddle (thank you Bessie!) and, mercifully, Bessie ran away at this point, leaving the combat behind. So the rest of the combat I will relate as told to me by Gelros and Shella.

After Bessie hauled… horse? off the battlefield, Shella and the others slew several of the Xill. The remaining Xill decided to retreat, and decided that Kris should come with them. In fact, they almost succeeded. As they faded from this plane of existance, Zzamas transported Jaric through to the ethereal plane, where he dispatched the stragglers and recovered the still immobilized Kris. They seem to be none the worse for wear, apart from the, um, eggs, and the fact that Jaric lost all his fingernails in transit.

About those eggs: after some consultation with Zzamas (which, at the time, I could hear but mercifully not respond to), Jaric and Gelros concluded that they could either cut them out one at a time (yikes!) or use magical disease removal. Thankfully, Jaric opted for the latter. At that is about all I want to say about the experience. We wrapped up with Zzamas shortly after. She delivered her ancient shiny treasure chest, as promised, Gelros negotiated some kind of loose alliance, and we were on our way.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11

It feels good to be back in town for a few days! Since Zzamas and her interplanar egg-injecting friends, we've been tying up loose ends. In fact, this is our second trip back to town since then. On our first trip back, we explored Lake Silverstep, and Shella and I decided to stay behind for a few days to catch a few of its famed eels for the gentlemen that wanted them. Those things are slippery, let me tell you, and I'm not referring to their skin.

Upon our return, there was quite a ruckus. Let me sum up:

  • We delivered not one, not two, but three roc eggs to the self-proclaimed Omelet King. He did, indeed, make a regal omelet with them, and it garnered about as much public attention as actual visiting royalty would have.
  • We delivered the eels to slightly less fanfare, but the eel pie was tasty and seems to have had a minor but persistent beneficial effect on my health.
  • We delivered the spider silk, which has helped boost the Arborian economy.
  • After much research, we decided to return the relic SkyBolt to the centaur (as, apparently, it is of their ancient culture) in an attempt to barter for some kind of truce.

Ok, about that last bullet: I think we got more than we bargained for. SkyBolt was indeed well-received by the centaur clan. They were at first hostile, suspicious, and skeptical (who can blame them?), but the relic won them over. Still, their leader, who goes by the title Mother Moon, would not consider SkyBolt a negotiating chip. Instead, for peace, Gelros was forced to agree that we would seek to find and return her missing daughter, Xamanthe, who had been posted to watch the Valley of the Dead (cheery sounding place!). The safe return of Xamanthe will guarantee us acceptance into the centaur tribe. Which either involves a peace treaty or a really wild party; I'm not sure which.

In any case, Mother Moon warned that in the Valley of the Dead an ancient evil, known by the name Vordekai (not coincidentally, the name of the cyclopean demigod in that text of Pendrod's that Gelros found), might, just might, be waking up. So, naturally, we agreed to go. (To be fair, I suppose this might also solve the mystery of Varynhold, which is still hanging like a damp cloud over settlement efforts to the east.) However, seeing as the place is called The Valley of the Dead, it seemed wise to prepare. Which we have, and we depart with our entourage tomorrow.

Experience

  • Completed Ghost Stone War quest (7200 XP)
  • Defeating Xill (12,000 XP)
  • Explore hex (7,10) (150 XP)
  • Explore hex (7,8) (150 XP)
  • Completed The Omelet King quest (7,200 XP)
  • Completed Wanted: Spidersilk quest (7,200 XP)
  • Completed MMM Eels! quest (7,200 XP)
  • Explore hex (5,11) (150 XP)
  • Explore hex (5,12) (150 XP)
  • Return Skybolt to the centaur (7,200 XP)

Loot

  • Gold chest worth 5000 GP (by itself!) with contents…

    • Spellbook (6 spells at each of levels 1-5)
    • Wand of Dimension Door (22 charges)
    • Scroll of Haste
    • Scroll of Blink
    • Scroll of Magic Missile (caster level 3)
    • Headband of Intellect +2
  • Cloak of Resistance +2
  • Handy Haversack
  • +2 Buckler
  • Mithril falchion

Rewards

+1 permanent HP for each character for sampling the eel pie

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Between a Roc and a Hard Place
Hard roc cafe? Also mud slinging.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 10

At least, I think it is the 10th month. The party, minus our fearless leader, is back together for some additional exploration south and west of Varynhold. I've returned from a long border patrol; I understand the others had business in town. Gelros is busy governing and says he will follow in a few days.

We came to these mountains to seek roc eggs, as we had heard tales of a large bird that inhabits the area. Yesterday, we climbed to the top of a mountain I have decided to call Big Roc, and we were rewarded. The climbing itself was not so bad; fixed lines and pitons did the trick. At the top was the creature's nest, but the roc herself was missing. After some brief scouting, we sent Kris under cover of invisibility to steal an egg. He stole… ALL the eggs. All three. Even when mama returned halfway through, he somehow managed to sneak them into the bag of holding and escape.

Mind you, Kris was invisible, but the rest of us (waiting a few hundred feet away on the mountain top) were not. Mama was not pleased. Naturally, she directed her ire at us. Which was a mistake on her part. I drove several arrows into her; Narzeth and Raven slung spells. She picked up Shella and dropped her over the side of the mountain, but Shella did her amazing puff-of-purple-smoke trick and reappeared next to me. At this, I think the roc simply gave up in frustration and flew away. For this I am glad; it would have been a shame to have had to put her down.

Roc eggs in hand, this morning we headed south to scout the mud flats on the shore of Lake Silverstep. And for some reason, we felt a need to explore them… thoroughly. This turned out to be dangerous, not to mention icky. (I've had two baths in the lake and I'm STILL scraping mud out of my fingernails.) But where was I… ah yes, the mudmen. In what may be the most pointless combat we've had recently, we fought and defeated a number of mud… men. Men made of mud.

It was a slog. We got bogged down. (Literally, I fell in quicksand and Jaric had to drag me out. I feel dumb.) Raven face planted in the mud; Kris was totally plastered in mud cakes thrown by the… mud… things. Shella did her thing, which, as you know, is cut enemies in half. But between the quicksand and all the mud slinging, in the end, it turned out to be easier for Narzeth to simply bombard the mud flats with well-placed fireballs until we had roasted out the rest of the creatures.

So hurray! The mineral rich mud flats are now ripe for the plundering. I guess?

Later that evening

So mud men might be weird, but you know what's weirder? A giant spider with the face of a woman who only speaks a language that Raven knows just showed up on my watch in the middle of the night and asked us to help her defeat some kind of ant creatures. She is offering treasure, so I guess we're agreeing? But, for the love of trees, it's midnight! I told her to wait until morning, which she seems content to do. But I'm keeping an eye on her.

Experience

  • Defeated the roc (9,600 XP)
  • Defeated the mud men and their sand traps (10,800 XP)

Loot

  • 3 roc eggs
  • Grinning skull statue made of platinum and worth 1500 GP
  • A mummified corpse
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Observations

Unknown Entry

Observations.

      Menace continues to advance.  Has cleared the village of the interlopers, likely paving the way for more filthy savages to  come and live there.

Sent servant to deal with the one we learned of, servant has failed.   New servants will have to be found.

Observed Menace as it continued to explore the land.  Menace has removed the Bulletes from existence, truly a pity.   We were looking forward to those.   They also killed a nest of spiders and then spent an inordinate amount of time gathering spider silk for some reason.   Watched as they bungled through an ambush set up by the Ettercaps.  I guess when you pit a group of fools against another group of fools, you get what you paid for.

Observations will continue.

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