Sunday, December 7, 2008

Calen's Combat Report

1st Combat Report in Fey Wild:

Executive Summary
Party encountered 1 lamiar, 4 prismatic drakes, 1 dire bear. Encounter was a trap laid by Lamiar. Party defeated the ambush although 1 party member nearly died. Expanded 25% resources during encounter.

Long Summary
Party entered fey wild at 1200 hour. Followed magic flow towards town of Mith using magic goggles. Heard cry of distress from .25 miles away from flow, decided to investigate. Upon investigation, discovered single Eladrin male perched on top of tree under assault from 4 prismatic drakes and 1 dire bear. Decided to engage creatures at 1230 hour.

Upon combat engagement, eladrin male unveiled itself to be a Lamair. Had stunning attack that disabled half the party for 1/3 of combat duration. During this time, one ranger striker was near death due to concentration of attacks upon him. Survived due to timely rescue by health potion and aid by non-stunned party members.

Note: Combat surface (grass) was also actively hindering party progress.

Successfully eliminated all creatures but lamiar escaped despite concentration of firepower upon it. Tree cover too thick to consider pursuit. Decided to continue upon main quest. Revenge not recommended due to hostile environment.

Engagement terminated at 100 hour.

Zaeris as usual was superb, single-handedly dispatching 3 enemies over the course of encounter. Rendered ineffective 3 creatures during critical period by using his storm of daggers technique. Recommend for additional combat pay.

Neither Meritous nor Demeritous:

Muhan was solid as ice as usual, while neither doing spectacular, was not actively hindering party.

Chimala was also solid, doing her job by actively harrying enemies at range and doing sufficient damage to drive the lamiar off almost singlehandedly.

Terran was actively engaged in melee and like Muhan, was neither spectacular nor hinderful.

Thamores continually stayed under fire in spite of direct orders to get to safety. Caused active hinderment of party actions due to over-extension of self. Recommend for more squad combat training when back on base. Still useful for single target attacks

Self, poor decision to enter into combat without further scouting. Probability of avoiding combat was about 50% if some scouting and observation could have been done. Recommend for disciplinary action due to poor squad command.

Additonal Notes
Recommend squad for more combat practice as a squad. Clearly the last break was too long and the squad performed poorly as a result, resulting in too many 1:1 situations rather than the 3:1 as favored by combat protocol.

Lamiar disabling 1/2 the party was cause of squad breakdown, recommend retraining in skills to prevent such breakdowns.

Overall combat was a success due to severe critical successes by Zaeris, thus only 25% of resources was expanded. That was pure luck and cannot be counted upon. Estimated resource expansion without critical successes would be closer to 50% and perhaps loss of Thamores.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Personnel File for Zaeris

(Filed in the Iron Sun headquarters)

Classification: Confidential; for senior commanders only
Zaeris (Last name unknown, but possibly from a noble household in the Underdark)
Sex: Male
Race: Drow
Age: Unknown; estimated to be between 80-120
Rank: Specialist First Class
Role: Recon/Assassination
Joined: January, 1474 DR (5 years, 8 months)
Missions: 18; 14 successes, 3 partial successes, 1 failure
Kills: 94 confirmed; 34 unconfirmed

Zaeris joined the Iron Sun despite objections from several senior members. He was mainly accepted due to his natural aptitude for stealth, his skills with weapons, and general ability to survive dangerous situations. He has not been forthcoming with much of his history, saying only that he had escaped the Underdark after one day offending a cleric in his home city of (a crime punishable by torture followed by death in Drow society). However, what little intelligence we've received from the underdark suggest that his crime may have been far greater.

Sarcastic, ruthless, and potentially reckless. While he seems to work well enough in a team, he carries from Underdark the general disregard for life, and scorn for those he views as his lessers. His attitude often lands him in trouble, though he appears to have a knack for extricating himself out of such situations. However, he does take his tasks seriously, and can be counted on when the situation requires it.

A loose cannon who should not be trusted with delicate missions unless his skills are absolutely necessary. He is extremely careful about covering his tracks, as he knows that he would be hunted here on the surface world if he was ever suspected of a crime.

Merits and honors: 14
  • The Shield of Dawn - For defending Pelor's followers from Shar worshippers
  • Order of the Sun Citation - Upon completion of 10th successful mission
  • Iron Dagger Medal x9 - Upon every 10 confirmed kills
  • Badge of Radiance x3 - For valorous actions while under extreme danger

Demerits and reprimands: 9
  • Insubordination (minor) x3 - Disrespect of a superior officer
  • Insubordination (moderate) - Disobeying the direct order of a superior officer (extenuating circumstance: actions may have saved the mission)
  • Excessive use of deadly force x2 - Killed target when capture was requested; claimed in both instances targets refused surrender; accounts questionable.
  • Willful disregard for innocent life - Detonated a cask of Alchemist's Fire to wipe out Hobgoblin command tent, despite knowing that there were 4 captives inside; claimed that the Hobgoblins had already killed the captives; account highly questionable.
  • Assault on fellow squad mate - Severely injured Borland Keene, though he claims he acted in self defense. Further discipline not taken because investigation could not prove otherwise, and Borland was a well-known drow-hater.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thunderspire Aftermath

With his dying breath Paldemar utters a single syllable filled with power. The air hums with arcane energies as the floating obsidian-colored orb upon the platform activates, plunging the room into utter darkness. Octane conjures light but it is only a dim light at best.

The air shimmers around the edges of the of the orb, creating a halo of wisping shadows. The orb draws power from the the last two crystalline pillars expanding the halo. Octane and Paelis are at a loss to what the orb's purpose is, but it is clear that it is drawing energy from the surrounding area and that it is wise to leave the complex before the orb draws power from the teleporation runes, leaving you stranded in the Tower of Mysteries.

You search the southeast room and find various notes and books. You quickly round them up along with the crystal orb and move retreat to the second level. You quickly search the library on this level and find that every book you open has blank pages. You search the northwest room with the container with the Bronze Warder. You collect the notes from this room and exit the Tower of Mysteries.

You return to the Seven-Pillared Hall and inform Orontor of what had transpired in the Tower of Mysteries. He is very gracious that you defeated his former colleague, saving both the Seven-Pillared Hall and the Mages of Saruun. He asks for the notes and crystal orb to determine what Paldemar was up to.

Octane, Orontor, and Paelis scour the notes of Paldmar trying to determine what was the purpose of the orb. A cursory pass over Paldamar's notes reveal that contraption that contained the Bronze Warder head was an Infernal machine designed to steal control over the other Bronze Warders, giving Paldemar uncontested control of Thunderspire Mountain. The notes referred to the floating orb on the third level as a Shadow Engine. It was suppose to be the power source for the Infernal machine by drawing arcane energies from the Shadowfell.

From what you can tell from the notes, the Shadow Engine was not fully complete. You surmise, and a quick visit back to the Tower of Mysteries confirms, that when Paldemar activated it, the portal it opened to the Shadowfell was not fully contained within the Shadow Engine. Orontor believes that it is weakening the veil between the worlds as it is drawing energies from both. The Shadow Engine was not designed to store the amount of arcane energy that is being drawn from both realms and will eventually explode shattering the veil between the worlds plunging all of Thunderspire Mountain, and possibly a large part of Nentir Vale, into the Shadowfell. Unfortunately neither you nor Orontor can figure out how to shutdown the Shadow Engine.

Paldemar's notes contained parts of an ancient scroll that the Shadow Engine was based off of. Orontor believes that the scroll was from the Tyrenil Empire, a civilization that predated even Arkhosia and Bael Turath. He suggests that finding more information about these scrolls is the only way to stop the Shadow Engine from destroying Nentir Vale.

Orontor says, "I will recall the Mages of Saruun and we shall try to contain the rift and find a way to shutdown the Shadow Engine. I ask that you find any information you can about the scrolls. What remains of the last great empire, Nerath, lies to the east of the Dawnforge Mountains. The captial city, Astoria, contains the Great Library of Nerath. That is a likely place as any to start trying to find out about the origin of the scrolls. I warn you though, do not speak of what is happening here in the Thunderspire to any you do not trust. This was a temple of Shar and if her agents or spies learn what transpired in the Tower of Mysteries, they may try to hasten the Shadow Engine tearing apart Nentir Vale."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mithrendain Beauty: Fort Dolor Area Map

Fort Dolor is in the northwest corner of the Kingdom of Nerath, the last remnant of the once-great human Nerath Empire. Trade with Hammerfast is the lifeblood of this small border keep. X marks the approximate location of the fey grove.

Mithrendain Beauty: The Briefing

    Captain Revince stomped into the room, his usual frown hiding greater worries. He scanned the familiar faces of Mongoose Squad.  "You're all here. Good. I have a job for you.
    "No, it's not the wyvern nest. I sent Brandil's crew on that one this morning, for reasons which should become clear. This is something far more serious, which is why I need you. It involves the Lady."
    Revince glared, daring anyone to raise a dubious eyebrow. If anyone took issue with the Captain's autumnal romance with the Lady Saffrenia Movrymm, noble Eladrin of Mithrendain, they kept it to themselves. He had to admit, they were an unlikely pair, and the strain she was trying to hide now threatened the harmony of their relationship. She'd refused to address Mongoose Squad directly, appearing inexplicably ambivalent about this mission, so he was here alone, translating her evasive answers into plain soldier-speak.
    "The Lady's symbol of office has been stolen, more or less.  To be precise, its power has been stolen, most likely captured in some ritual duplicate. This is the dormant original; take a good look, make sure you can recognize it on sight."  He produced a gleaming gold signet ring from his pocket and passed it around; it was the ring she always wore, one of her few adornments.  Up close, the design carved into the lucent green stone popped into hyper-real focus: the Ourobouros, a snake devouring its own tail, encircling an oak tree. Seven diamonds sparkled along the body of the snake, one of them tinged subtly with red.
    Revince continued, "Don't ask me what the symbol means, or what the ring does. The Lady won't tell me, except that it's vital to the security of Mithrendain and to her responsibilities as  Councillor.  And no, I still don't know exactly why she has requested our hospitality these past two years. She has assured me repeatedly that it was a family matter, unrelated to her political position.
    "The theft happened the night before last, while you were out on the hill giant job and I was on temple duty. As she tells it, Lady Saffrenia was wracked by unusual dreams, and awoke with the knowledge that her ring had been drained of power."  He shrugged, admitting "It sounds crazy, but then again, you and I know shove-all about magic."
    "The Lady is convinced that a rarely-attempted ritual connected her dreams to another dreamer in the Feywild, and through that connection drew the essence of the ring into a duplicate. It's all draconic to me, so I asked Vesper to give me a second opinion. The hedge wizard made a good show of examining the ring, but in the end could only say 'maybe so, maybe so.'"
    Revince paused for breath and to assess his audience, finding an even mix of skeptical and impenetrable expressions. "It's not just a bad dream. Would that it were. There's more.
    "The old man's auguries went wild that same night. He was scheduled to ask about crop timing, and instead Pelor's angel visited on him a prophecy of our fiery doom. From the look on the acolytes faces, it was loud one. The old man's still in hospice recovering, but he's lucid enough, and last night's sortilage confirmed it. He's never been wrong on anything this big before, and the theft fits the prophecy perfectly Reduced to the basics, we either get this ring back, or Fort Dolor is reduced to smoldering rubble by a remorseless army of Eladrin from the Feywild. 'The army red and gold, our blood and flames foretold,' I'm sure you get the idea. The priests don't know when, how, or why, but they're clear enough that it's do or die.
    The Captain stared at each of them in turn, leaned forward, and barked, "So you're going to DO. So nobody has to die. Except your foes, who will fall like chaff from the harvest. Am I clear?" A resounding "Yes, Captain!" brought an uncommon smile to his lips.
    After a brief review of squad roles, Revince handed out the special equipment requisitioned for the mission, then continued with the briefing.
    "You are to enter the Feywild approximately a days ride southeast of here, in the deep forest. The Lady has provided instructions and waypoints which will lead you to a grove where the barrier between worlds grows thin.  After locating the grove, camp at least five hundred paces away, and enter the glade just before dawn; as the sun rises, you should be able to exit into the Feywild. Time your entry carefully to avoid spending too much time in the glade or missing the conjunction entirely, keep your face to the full moon, lest you travel to the dark place instead. A pox on these mysteries, Sehanine forgive me, I wish I could be more specific. Just be careful.
    "Once in the Feywild, you may attempt to follow the flow of arcane energy, which tends to spiral inwards towards Mithrendain. As you are untrained in Arcana, you will find the goggles and dust essential. Or, you can navigate normally. Mithrendain lies to the east, and the Sun follows its course in the Feywild just as it does here, Pelor be praised. Mithrendain dominates a wide, low hill west of a great river, and south of the plains. Stay in the forest until you reach Mithrendain.
    "The Lady believes that it would be unwise for her to vouch for you, so you will have to find your own way into the city and past any checks or guards you may find. Remember that the Eladrin are not our enemies, at least not yet. As far as we know, Mithrendain admits travellers of all civilized races." He carefully avoided glancing at the Drow. "But I wouldn't expect a warm welcome. You are armed and you are visibly foreign, and it will be difficult to avoid attention. Choose your allies and antagonists carefully, for all our sakes. I know some of you are friends with Brandil and other Eladrin in the company, but don't expect the native Fey to be so easygoing; Brandil's been in this World for over a century and has had a long time to get used to worldly norms.
    "As you come closer to the target ring, it should begin calling to the original ring. The power which was stolen has an affinity for its original vessel, or so the Lady says. What that means in practice, I'm not sure; you may feel a tug, or a hunch, or see a thread when using the goggles. You'll just have to try it and see. Failing that, you must rely on your basic investigative training, and look for events coinciding with the time of the theft. Finally, Lady Saffrenia has reluctantly provided me with the name of the other Councillor who she most trusts. Vyndra Sysvani, she said, is more open-minded than many, and might be able to help you if the thief has already moved against the Council. However my Lady would greatly prefer that you find the ring and return without revealing the ring's loss, or any of the details of her situation."
    Revince took a deep breath. "Let me be frank with you, since it's your skin on the line. Your first duty is to the Iron Sun, and then by contract to Fort Dolor and the Kingdom of Nerath. Therefore your mission is to retrieve the ring and return home safely, preserving your lives, this keep, and the lands around. If, in addition, you can perform your mission with discretion, preserving the honor and privacy of the Lady Saffrenia, then you will have our profound gratitude. I hope the distinction is clear.
    "Once you have retrieved the ring, you may use the scroll of Planar Portal and provided reagents to return directly to Hammerfast. It was sent here from Hammerfast by fast horse yesterday, at great expense, to make sure you could get out safely and reliably. The Defenders of Hammerfast are expecting you, but remember to respect portal protocol as you come through to avoid misunderstanding. Again, do not disclose details of your mission to Hammerfast.  Horses are posted for you there, so you may return here immediately for debriefing.
    "Now for the part you've been waiting for: this is double pay plus hazard, plus recovered assets after tithing. No grumbling, you know as well as I do that we're stretched thin out here. And if I paid you any more you'd think this was some kind of suicide mission."
    There was a long pause. Somebody kicked their boots lightly against a chair. Finally, Muhan cleared his throat frostily and drawled, "Let me see if I've got this straight.
    "One, we are to enter the Feywild and retrieve a ring. This ring here, to be precise.
    "Two, we may or may not be able to track down that ring, using this ring.
    "Three, we are to avoid starting an inter-planar war, except in self-defense.  That about right?"
    Revince scowled, averted his eyes for a moment, then straightened and answered, "Yeah, that's right.  You have your assignments, you have your gear, you know what to do.  Just remember that you are representing the Iron Sun out there, so don't frog it up.  Now get going, get it done, and get your backsides back here."
    He paused, then half-turned away, lowering his voice.
    "One last thing, soldiers. Remember the beauty of our world, and don't get too seduced by what you find on the far side. Pelor's light shine upon you."  The irony was lost on no-one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Propelled onward by the Shadow Engine

It looks like our time here in the Thunderspire Labyrinth has come to a close.  The uncontrolled Shadow Engine threatens my home town and family, and thousands of lives are at stake.  We must seek answers in the Great Library, suspecting a connection to the lost arts of Tyrenil, and follow their thread until we attain the knowledge and power to stop the dread Engine.

It will be good to see the sun again. Still, there is something here that draws me: it is a place where Mages rule with logic and clarity, and where power may be claimed and increased. If our quest to stop the Engine should succeed, I might consider petitioning Orontur for membership as a Mage of Saruun. If our quest goes ill, it will be a moot point as Saruun will be no more.

Then again, what home can be secure for long in this world? Erawin and I were talking over supper, reflecting on the paths that brought us unexpectedly to this otherworldly cave. His homeland was destroyed by fire, his family killed, his life emptied of most of its color. Can vengeance substitute for security? Recently we saw the Seven-Pillared Hall threatened by the machinations of Torog-worshipping troglodytes. And now the whole of the Nentir Vale will be plunged into fell darkness soon if the Shadow Engine is not stopped.

With enough arcane power, I believe that security can be attained, and vengeance dealt for past losses. Soon enough, I ought to be able to aid Erawin to find the perpetrators he seeks: we are heading in the direction of more people, and more knowledge, and we will find and take the answers we need. For myself, I commit my life to gathering the will and knowledge to make fast a stronghold which will stand beyond worldly capriciousness.  Powerful beings fold and shape the fabric of their planes, Elemental, Astral, Fey, or Shadow, to create domains and dominions that they rule with near impunity. I, too, shall become Lord of a Domain. Not today, not tomorrow, but it will happen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Court of Just Too Many Damn Bones

You can hardly blame me for going a little out of bounds.  Where I come from, there's a certain cautious respect accorded to wizards.   In this crew, the prevailing attitude seems to be that if you're not hauling around a big sword (or maul, or spear) you're not pulling your weight.  I see my dagger as a cutting implement and weapon of last resort, not a proxy for my manhood, so I ignore Korviss's snide suggestions that I "upgrade" to a bastard sword.

The Ritual of Exaggerated Contribution seemed like just the thing to shut them up for a while.  I'd keep doing my thing, smacking down the bad guys, and my allies would simply see it all more... emphatically.  What I didn't account for was the effect it would have on me:  in hindsight, the extra few gold in components to exclude myself from the spell would have been well worth the expense.

Under the influence of the ritual, I decided to tackle the Court of Bones alone.  Erawin and Paelis agreed to proceed to the Horned Hold to help with the main battle;  in hindsight, I can see the fogginess that pervaded all our decisions. After making my preparations, I walked to the stable to saddle up our tame dire wolf Nefertiti, eager for her extra speed and aggressiveness to help get the job done quickly. I was "hungry like the wolf", and sought like companionship.

We rode fast, to the limits of our light, back to the cisterns, and from there followed Gendar's directions to the Court of Bones.  The large double doors were locked, but the silver key I'd carried since our chance encounter with flying wights unlocked and opened it.

Walking the wolf carefully inside, I saw a medium-sized semi-octagonal throne chamber, with a raised platform at the further side.  Seated on one of the thrones was a shroud-wrapped minotaur of some kind.  Four pillars, embedded with sharp fragments of bone, flanked the chamber, and the floor in front of me was dominated by a huge inlaid picture of a horned cow or minotaur skull.  I could not immediately see any evidence of the crystal that Gendar sought.

Moving around the edge of the room, avoiding the symbolic skull, I was suddenly pierced by bone fragments reaching out from the pillar.  The wolf yelped and we stepped away, chastened;  there seemed to be no way through but across.  I attempted to jump Nefertiti over the symbol, too aware of the possibility of triggering something fell, but we came up short and our fears were realized.

Out of the piles of bones in the corners of the room, a pair of Minotaur skeletons arose, followed by another pair of blazing skeletons.  Worst of all, a spectre of some kind materialized briefly from the throned minotaur before fading dangerously from insubstantial to fully invisible.

Surrounded by five undead, I put up the best fight I could, but tactically I was way out of my depth.  With no way to funnel or control their movement, I couldn't use my large-area spells to best effect, and the blazing skeletons rebuffed my strongest fire-based attacks.  My best weapon turned out to be a spray of blinding color, the radiant light unusually effective against these undead.  Finally, in desperation, I called on magic far beyond my abilities, conjuring up a wall of fire to stop their progress, but even that terrible risk didn't yield victory.

Scrambling to put out my burning robes, I fell unconscious, but miraculously remained in the saddle.  Nefertiti saved herself and me by fleeing back to the cisterns, finding her way by instinct and smell in the dark caverns.  By the time I awoke, the ritual had worn off, and I was equally aware of excruciating pain and inexcusable folly.  I repaired my robes, patched up my burns as best I could, and limped back to town to apologise to Gendar and get directions to the Horned Hold.

I was very late to the party and much the worse for wear, yet Korviss seems to be under the impression that "we" triumphed at the Court of Bones.  I'm in no hurry to correct him.  I'm not sure what Erawin and Paelis think happened.  At this point, I'm satisfied that the confusion is over and nobody died, much.  All's well that ends well enough, and if you come out smelling of roses then so much the better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The continuing rescue

Back in town, we talked with the only non-untrustworthy individual in town: the halfling proprietor of the Halfmoon Inn. She said that she'd never heard of Murkelmor Grimmerzhul, someone mentioned in a letter we had found in the slaver outpost. However, she had heard of the Grimmerzhul Trading Post, which apparently are run by, surprise, Duergar. As we were resting up to talk with them the next day, the crazy sage, Vadriar, came to us yelling out omens of doom and gloom. He seemed quite emphatic in his ravings, and it was clear that he wasn't going to stop yelling and spitting out droplets of saliva into our dinner unless we agreed to follow him the next day, so we finally relented.

The next day, we set off to the Cisterns, and travelled through a maze of twisty corridors, all alike. Eventually, we came reach our destination, and was immediately beset by a Grick and several Troggies, including one that looked like a Shaman. We hadn't been expecting trouble, and it was just myself, Octane, and Paelis, not exactly the most fierce force in one-on-one fights. We were quite worn out by the battle, especially because there was some strange rune in the middle that the Troggies kept standing in that appeared to be giving them strength, but eventually we prevailed. However, (and I called it!), Vadriar turned into some sort of "Oni" as Octane called it. He looked like a giant flying Ogre that was very magey. The Oni tried to take us captive, threatening us with death, but Octane whispered to me that the Oni was more bluster than brawn, and we were able to threaten him into letting us free, or face death himself. It looked like we really rattled him, since he even paid us to leave him alone. Hah!

Octane did have a chance to examine the strange arcane circle that the Troggies were in. He said that the Troggies were Torog worshippers, and that they were trying to complete a ritual that would have collapsed the Seven-Pillared Hall. Another reason to distrust magiky types. Just as well had they succeeded, I think, so long as we weren't in the hall when that happened. But anyways, on our way back, we encountered Alvin who was stumbled in drunk. He said that he knew the way back, but I wasn't so sure. We ran into a group of undead that most certainly were not there on the way to the Cisterns. We dispatched them with ease, and found a curious silver key on them.

Back in town, we tried to find Orontur, but he was nowhere to be found. Doesn't he care at all that his city was just hours away from total destruction? He probably had foreseen it and chickened out.

We rested for an evening at the Inn, and set out the next day to the Trading Post. The Duergar there were (surprise, surprise) rude and unhelpful. They said that they didn't know who Murkelmor was. I wasn't going to let them off that easily. I politely informed them that it was of utmost importance that we locate this Murkelmor, and that we'd be happy to wait by their Trading Post, and petition their patrons for the whereabouts of Murkelmor. Despite the reasonableness of my proposal, the uncivilized and savage Duergar decided that they'd rather try to kill us instead. In contrast to their belligerent and overt actions, we instead showed our humane and enlightened nature by beating them to unconsciousness with our axes, arrows, swords, and thunderwaves.

After subduing our attackers, we informed them that since they had taken physical action against us, that we now had reasonable cause to search their premises and seize any evidence that may relate to our ongoing investigation of the kidnappings of the humans and halflings. We found a note that proved the complicity of these Duergar. It was from Murkelmor that requested provisions to the Horned Hold for the "merchandise". We also found a supply of gold and magical items that was no doubt involved in the slave trade, so we seized them under the forfeiture statue of section 2, subsection 15.1 in article 5 under the Adventuring Act of 525, 2e. We tried to talk to the "sheriff" about these criminals, but he seemed only to be upset at us. Doesn't he care at all about the law?

We asked around town, and found a Drow merchant,Gendar, who seemed to be well-versed in area. He was willing to tell us about the Horned Hold, but had three tasks for us. First, he wanted us to deal with some "witch" who lived high in the mountains and who was harassing his messengers with flying beasts. We set off the next day to strike out a bargain. I talked with the Shadar-kai witch, asking her to leave Gendar alone, in exchange for information about "softer" targets to strike. It seemed again, like a reasonable request to me, but again, the inhabitants of the Underdark showed their nature by attacking us unprovoked. It was a difficult battle, but Ocatne proved his worth. He managed to hurl one of her guardian constructs down the mountainside, where it landed in about a few hundred pieces. It was a tough fight, especially when the Gargoyles showed up, but when the combat turned against the witch, she decided to run away. Octane, again, proved his worth by running after her, and heroically slaying her by shooting her in the back with his magic missile. We again siezed the evidence of their wrongdoing before leaving for the Hall.

Gendar was pleased in our progress, and agreed to tell us the location of the Horned Hold if Ocatane, Erawin, and Paelis went to the Court of Bones for the second mission. The third mission was to retrieve a scepter from the Horned Hold. He had a Dwarf warrior, Rampage, show us the way, and we set off the next day. The Horned Hold looked like a series of tree octagonal towers overlooking a deep crevice, with bridges connecting the towers to each other. Trixie the rogue reported that it looked like the main entrance was guarded by several Orcs. We asked her to go back and secretly unlock the portcullis, so that if we needed to, we could enter in to talk with the Orcs face to face. I walked up to the gate, and asked the Orcs if they would let us in, so that we could speak with their leader. They were quite rude, and told us to get lost, so we decided that they needed a lesson in civility, as taught by the ends of our spears and axes. It appears that the lesson stuck, as they were much more agreeable after Trixie ran them through with her rapier.

We entered the next room, which appeared to be a forge of sorts, and encountered some Duegar and more Orcs. They were quite surprised to see us, and it wasn't long before we had pacified them as well. Continuing across the bridge into the next tower, we encountered even more Duergar, in addition to some sort of giant walking crossbows. They didn't appear happy to see us either (or at least the Duegar didn't; I couldn't tell with the crossbows) , though the situation was rectified in short order by Rampage's maul. However, one of the crossbows somehow managed to open a door to the third and last tower, giving away our presence. We barred the gate while we rested for a minute. Overall, I was impressed with the progress we made. Even without either of our finger waggers, we managed to subdue three groups of Duegar and Orcs with ease.

As we were resting, it looked like the rest of our group had arrived. They had finished the Court of Bones with surprising ease, and Erawin followed our tracks. Rampage and Octane ran off to deal with another group of Duegar, when the barred door had be broken through. A fierce battle ensued, and even though some sneaky ones got past us to inform another group, we were able to hold the line. However, a Cave Troll managed to run away, bringing back many of his friends. We fell back to the entrance, barring it again and resting for a few moments. While we were resting, Rampage returned, though Octane was nowhere to be seen. Rampage said that he was valiantly chasing fleeing enemies, in the finest traditions of Kord.

I knew the next battle would be difficult, so I gave a few words of encouragement, telling them that if we were slain, they'd probably toss our bodies into the chasm, so that we probably shouldn't let them do that. My speech must have worked, because even though during the battle, five Spined Devils showed up, peppering us with poisonous spines, we still prevailed. At first, I was concerned that Octane wasn't around, and that a we'd really need a wizard for this fight. Fortunately, we did have a wizard: their wizard kept attacking us, hoping to incapacitate us all, but all she managed to do was render her own devil allies blinded, dazed, prone, and poisoned. Rampage also was a flurry of action, repeatedly knocking Murkelmor off his feet, while I struck at him from afar with my spear. Kord also rewarded us for our valour, striking down Murkelmor for being too cowardly to fight me in melee combat after being knocked prone.

After Murkelmor fell, the fight left the remaining ones, and they fled (no doubt with Octane Stone ruthlessly pursuing them until they had all fallen to the sting of his magic missiles).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The rescue

It all started when our caravan set up camp for the evening. I was sleeping soundly when suddenly, our watch called out that we were under attack. I leaped into action and all around me I saw Hobgoblins. We were surrounded on all sides, but the Hobos did not expect that we would respond with such ferocity and determination. It did not take long before they were routed, though in several of the other wagons circles, they did not fare nearly as well. We spent some time putting out the fires that were started before taking stock of the situation.

It seems that the Hobgoblins stuck, not to kill, but to take captives. A number of humans and halflings were taken away, though we were able to locate a few that had simply run off in the midst of the confusion and brought them back to safety. The caravan master asked us to bring the others back safely. I, along with a Dwarf warrior, Alvin, an Elven Archer, Erawin, an Eladrin scout, and a Human spellcaster curiously named "Octane" all agreed. It was a diverse group, but I knew enough about battle to know that being adaptable and flexible would be paramount in recovering those hostages from the Hobgoblins.

We waited until morning for better light, with Erawin following the Hobgoblins. We eventually came across some sort of ancient Minotaur city. Octane gave us a history lesson about what went on there, but it wasn't too interesting to me, since it wasn't about battle or conquests. The only thing I remember was something about the Minotaurs not being evil enough, and their god destroying them in retribution. How amusing.

Anyway, we followed the Hobos into the city, which was curiously empty, and eventually underground. Octane explained that it probably lead into the Underdark. All was going well until all of a sudden, the trail simply disappeared. Erawin couldn't really understand what was going on, and Octane suspected that maybe they had some sort of magic at their disposal. We wandered the caves a bit, and eventually came into a cavern, with some sort of large...bug. Our Eladrin quickly tossed a throwing star at it, splitting it in two. I wasn't sure about attacking random things we come across, but the bug did give a satisfying squish as it left a stain on the walls. However, our victory was quite short lived, as in no time, we felt rumblings, and several far larger ones emerged from the ground, followed by one as big as a horse. I called out for us to flank the beast. I landed a solid blow on its back, and though it did not kill the beast, it threw the thing off balance and the Eladrin was able to dig her rapier into its head, whereupon it collapsed and quickly dissolved itself into a stinky pool. With the "mother" dead, the other bugs quickly burrowed back into the ground, to not bother us again. Several of us were burned quite badly by the thing's acid, but I told them to walk it off.

We continued to a large undergound city. It was quite an interesting sight, and we were first greeted by an ogre that told us to stay out of trouble. Along the way, we found another Eladrin who had been wandering the tunnels. He looked like some sort of spellcaster too, and I didn't think all was right about him, but any help we could get after that encounter with the bugs was welcome. The city was filled with all manner of creatures I didn't quite like or trust, but we were able to find a place to stay in an in run by some halflings. The proprietor was quite friendly, and we learned that no Hobgoblins had passed through the city. We talked with one of the mages of Saruun (don't trust), Orontur, , who apparently run the city. I don't know why he told us, but he said that he was the only mage there to watch over the city, and that one of the members of his order, Paldemar, had gone rogue. I guess that in a city full of vile creatures, he had to place his trust in complete strnagers. He was helpful in telling us that the Hobgoblins were known to have a lair not too far from the city. We agreed to tell him if we find anything about that rogue wizard, figuring that we'd earn some gold, and it wouldn't cost us anything to keep our eyes open.

We set out the next day. We passed through the Dragon Door on the way to the Hobgoblin camp. Our wizard tried a bit of subterfuge to trick them into opening the door, and when they saw through his transparent bluff, we decided that the only real way to fight was in open combat, through strength of arms. We were able to quickly cut down a number of them, but one managed to escape through a back tunnel, warning the others. We were quickly facing a battle on two fronts, with a number of Hobgoblins, Dark Dwarves, and even a huge wolf.

The situation looked dire, but I knew that there would be no retreat, no surrender today. I called for everyone to stand and fight, for the glory of Kord. I helped the two Eladrins and Earawin hold one of the fronts, while by some miracle, the Wizard was able to hold off the Wolf and a Dwarf all by himself. By the power of Kord, we vanquished enemies several times our number, and basked in victory. However, the captives were nowhere to be found.