The Journal Of Rebus Nefandus

*written on the inside cover*

If one should find and read this journal, it likely means that I am dead somewhere not so very safe. I wrote down these words not only to keep the memories of my deeds, but in hopes that the knowledge I have gathered may keep those that find these writings from harm's way. Thus begins the journal of Rebus Nefandus

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Failed Rescue

Here, I write upon a new page, in a new book. I do this commemorate my lost and fallen companions. Thus ends the association of many of us and begins a new life for some. It is with a heavy heart that I write these words.

We did indeed travel back to the dungeon. We were witness to an extraordinary sight upon reaching the place. Two animated trees were at the front, demolishing the entrance to the place. The druid told us to hold our weapons and approached them. He spoke to them in a language I did not understand and they spoke back. He explained to us as we walked further in that during our week of rest, he spent time communing with nature and speaking with the animals and trees. He offered to awaken the trees and they accepted his offer. He asked that in return they turn the entrance to the dungeon to rubble.

They had the entrance to the dungeon blocked off but kindly cleared some large stones from the path so that we could enter. We walked in and down a couple of levels. Kahn's tiger companion, Shiva, scented for the other party. She was able to takes us directly to where they were. Sadly, we found 5 of their corpses laying there. It seems they were in a mighty battle in which they had slayed several goblins. They were left for dead, only 4 of them even recognizable. George's body was not among those that were there.

Marius cast a familar spell to me, and as he touched the five bodies of the fallen adventurers they were teleported back to the tower where he requested they prepare the bodies and transport them to Rakmar for resurrecting. Marius assured them that he would incur any costs associated with the raisings. Upon Marius' return to the dungeon, we continued forth. Shiva still had the scent of George and would lead us to him.

We were surprised to discover that Shiva had followed George's scent all the way back to the chamber where the huge caldera was. The scent was lost in the water. We continued down underneath the water and back into the chamber where the vile crypt was. Shiva had no trouble picking up George's scent again. We were led back to the crypt itself and Shiva was positive that George was past the doors. Krom removed a portable battering ram from his bag of holding and commenced to pulverizing the door before us. The door was made so much dust, and we were surprisingly all able to enter the crypt this time.

Hap found the seam to a trap door in the room and used a crowbar to pry it open. I was amazed that he was strong enough to do it. I will not quickly judge one so small as being weak again! We descended down a finely carved white stone staircase. At the bottom of the stairs was a room, perhaps 40 feet deep and 60 to 80 feet wide. There were two pillars on opposite sides of the room which depicted more horrible scenes, the likes of which no decent person could even imagine. There was a set of double doors beyond the pillars. As we approached them, a wispy figure materialized and begged us not to go through the doors. I tried to determine whether this was an evil creature or not and was able to discern that it was not. Indeed, it appeared to be a paladin of some kind. He introduced himself as Igni and continued to warn us that we should not continue. Igni went so far as to threaten us that he would fight us to the death to keep us from opening the doors.

Further questions to him led us to determine that some powerful being had geased him even in death to guard the entry to the point beyond the doors. Igni told us that in life he had been a paladin of Pelor. But now, he was destined to remain here at the order of the one who defeated him and warn off those who would try to gain entry. We were determined to enter the doors, and also to free Igni from his responsibilities to the evil creature who had commanded his spirit.

We attempted to ram the doors open at which point Igni did indeed attack us. The five of us made short work of him and with a touch of Kord's healing hand, I was able to destroy him. It saddened me to do so, but I was convinced his spirit was finally free to enjoy the afterlife. I took solace in that fact.

Hap was able to unlock the doors we had try battering open. They opened up into a long hallway, the end of which we could not see within our field of vision. It stretched beyond 60 feet. On the left was a 6 foot wide bit of flooring that was pure white. On the walls were scenes of serenity. On the right was a 6 foot wide bit of flooring that was blood red. On the walls were scenes of death and destruction. Along the middle was a 2 foot wide strip of a greenish metal. On the floor was a riddle of sorts. I did not take the time to write this riddle down, but we determined that we should walk directly down the middle path, as the riddle said that good should follow that path.

Marius flew into the room on the left side. He came back out and reported nothing bad happened to him. I stepped forth onto the green metallic path, and was followed by Brunis and Krom. Hap then stepped on the metal and disappeared. We had no sense of where he went. Suddenly, two glabrezus appeared where the two columns had been. They attacked us and called forth vrocks to aid them in our destruction. We were finally able to dispatch them, all but one of the glabrezus. Crafty demons they are. They have the ability to alter gravity itself, and one of the vrocks had cast a spell which engulfed a very large area in complete darkness.

We finally made it past the hallway, the last glabrezu hiding in the darkness. On the other side stood a huge chamber, filled with what appeared to be living statues. I recognized one of them as Hap. There was nothing I could do for Hap at the time, for after a short while, the aspect of Orcus himself suddenly appeared through a portal in the center of the room. His gaze fixed onto me quickly. Surely, he sensed the goodness that resided in my being and sought to destroy me first. An ugly and cruel creature is Orcus. I shall be haunted by that face for my whole life, to be sure. His grotesque figure moved towards me and I drew my sword in defense, ready to strike a blow. He swung a rod towards me with unerring accuracy and the next thing I knew, my body was no more.

My soul traveled across several planes and then in the blink of an eye, I felt like my soul was being lifted and moved. A familiar voice whispered to my soul, "Flynn, my child, I would not have my strength diminished by allowing what has befallen you to pass. In the recent time of troubles I walked your realm and tested many of my so called 'faithful' and was beginning to despise the lot of them until our paths crossed. As so it passed that you protected me as I have protected you in the past. So once again I will impose my will on your behalf. I will not command you not to enter Rappan Athuk again , to do so would put you at odds with your 2 strongest traits, but It would displease me greatly should you choose to enter that place again, ever."

Thus, my soul was restored to my body and I found myself, naked and shivering, upon the altar in the unfinished temple of Kord in Tyro. Nearby, I found Krom in a similar state. Some workmen found us there and offered blankets in which to cover ourselves. We then stumbled our way to The Happy Dragon, where rooms wer made up for us and clothing was arranged. I requested a bath and asked not to be disturbed afterwards all evening and informed the staff that I would be skipping dinner and wished solitude. I clasped Krom by the arm and told him I would see him in the morning. I soaked for nearly an hour then tried to sleep but was unsuccessful.

I spent my waking moments in prayer and thanked Kord for his further blessings on my behalf and oathed to him that I would not return to Rappan Athuk unless he himself ordered me so. I decided my next few weeks would be spent in Tyro working on the temple I had commissioned be built for Kord. In the meantime, we would wait to hear from Sitnalym and tell him of all that transpired.

I know not the fates of our other companions. I pray that they are safely out of Orcus' grasp, either in this life or the one after. My thoughts will always fall back to these days and the battles we shared.

Rest in peace, brave ones. May you be greeted in your heavens with open arms.

The Power Of Prayer

Upon teleporting to the gates of the tower, I just stood there for a second. I cannot describe fully the despair I felt, knowing that Marius was lost to us. Along with despair, I felt anger that Marius' will was no longer his own, frustration that he was beyond my aid, helplessness that I was not powerful enough to face Orcus and gain Marius' freedom, and shock that he was ripped from us so suddenly.

In a daze, it finally occurred to me that there was only one thing I could do. I said the summoning words to bring forth my heavy warhorse, Castan, and apologized to Brunis and Hap as I took my place in the saddle. I told them I needed some time and would be back on the morrow. Castan's galloping made the trip to Tyro a relatively short one. It was getting on towards the evening, but there were workmen still at the task of building the temple of Kord. I asked them all to leave the worksite.

Once I was alone, I prostrated myself in the middle of the unfinished floor of the main worship room. The words I spoke are between Kord and I, but I can tell you that I prayed for Marius' release. I took it as a personal affront that Orcus would be permitted to hold Marius against his own will. With all of my heart I pleaded for Marius' return to us. The feeling of euphoria and awe filled me, as a voice could be heard in my mind. It seemed Kord was pleased by my request and the eloquence of my words. He told me he would grant my request and then a booming voice was heard throughout the city, "SUCH IS THE MIGHT OF KORD!" Just as Kord spoke his own mighty name, a bolt of lightning hit ground before me. The flash of light was so bright, I had to close my eyes, or I would surely be blinded. As I opened my eyes and my sight returned to me, I saw on the ground an immense symbol of Kord embedded into the floor. It was divinely placed there by Kord himself! It was made up of rubies and onyx. In the center of this symbol stood Marius.

With elation and relief I approached Marius and embraced him as a brother. I explained what I had done and he explained what transpired after he was swallowed deeper into the dungeon beyond our reach. Marius had lost his own will and was being summoned to Orcus himself. As he descended further, he reached the bottom of a stairwell. Marius said that at the bottom of the stairs stood George, my paladin friend who was helping the less powerful party in the upper areas of the dungeon. George levelled his greatsword at Marius, grinned and said, "This is gonna hurt a bit!" At which point, lightning released from the tip of the sword and Marius was sent to the temple of Kord at which I had prayed.

We were both shocked that Kord had acted so visibly. Yes, I had faith that he could enforce his own will in any situation, but felt it a longshot that he would intercede on Marius' behalf. I offered my thanks to Kord and then Marius pointed behind me. It seems that the booming voice of Kord had drawn some attention! Nearly the whole town had come to the temple site to see what had transpired. I apologized to everyone for the interruption to their day. At that, a good portion of people dispursed. I took the opportunity to proclaim the might of Kord to those that remained, giving a brief version of the current events.

The owner of the local inn we frequent, The Happy Dragon, came forward from the crowd and bade us to come with him. We went to the Happy Dragon and were given a private dining room in which to recuperate. Brunis showed up a short time later, having taken Sitnalym's carriage into town shortly after I left. We all had a few drinks in celebration and rented rooms for the evening. Deciding to depart for the tower again the next day.

We spent the next week or so at Sitnalym's tower. Though he and his associates did not make an appearance there the whole time. Hap was content to read his magical book, and everyone else went about their own business while we waited to hear from Sitnalym. We figured he was off on some special project. On the sixth day of our rest, Brunis decided he would attempt to commune with his deity, Heironeous. While I do not know the entirety of this communion, Brunis was able to determine that the other adventuring group to which George belonged was in some trouble. We decided it best to travel back to the dungeon and see what we could to to aid them. We would travel to the dungeon tomorrow.

Abase Thee And Enter

During the night, it seems the other group of adventurers down here had the same idea we did. Soon after most of us had fallen asleep, they arrived in the item-o-matic room and rested as well. In the morning, we had a heroes feast which George, a fellow paladin of Kord, provided. After the meal, I led prayers for George and I and any others who wished to join us. Not surprisingly, we were the only two. Our two parties are a diverse lot with differing opinions on the deities and different fealties. I guess as long as they are serving a goodly being, we all work towards the same end.

I clasped George's hand and bade him good adventures and commissioned him to look after those whom he traveled with. He gave me his assurance that it would be done. We parted ways there, our more experienced group heading back for the overmind lair to complete our investigation of the area.

Upon returning to the overmind lair, Hap was reminded of a chest in a corner of the chamber which seemed to be a test of abilities. He was able to remove the trap and unlock the chest. As a reward, he was granted a magical book that once read would increase his dexterity. It took a bit of convincing before he understood the value. To him, he felt he risked his life for a lousy book.

We continued on down some stairs which led through a long hallway. This eventually opened up into a fairly large cavern which had the main feature of what appeared to be a caldera or hollow mountain. It had no peak and we could see the rim. It was perhaps 60 to 80 feet tall. Marius cast a fly spell and took Hap up with him to search around the rim and discovered that this was filled with water. We watched them fly up and over then heard Marius cast a spell. Later, we found out there was some sort of monstrous shape swimming in the water. Rather than take any chances, Marius disintegrated it before it could do any harm. We think it was perhaps some sort of guardian.

Further inspection by Marius and Hap wrought no information. Coming up empty, the druid Kahn took the shape of an eagle and flew up over the water. He then shifted into some sort of sea creature and had a look around in the water. I am unsure how it was finally managed, but he was able to find a cluster of rocks which when moved revealed an underground passage. This was the strangest thing: When we entered into the passage under the water, the passage way was dry! I did not understand this at all. Some strong magic at work there, no doubt. We all managed to make it into the passage way. Marius shuttling people from the ground into the water and directing people to the whole (at least those who could not fly or swim themselves).

We let Hap lead the way, thinking there might be a trap. Sure enough, he spotted a long trap. Probably 20 or 30 feet in length. Along the sides of the hallway were holes. Hap attempted to disable the trap but it was too sensitive and he caused the trap to go off. Dozens of poison-tipped spears came shooting out. Luckily, the spears just thrust into the opposite walls and not into us. 'Tis a good thing we were aware of the trap before stepping foot on it. It could have been a messy situation.

With a few words and a wave of his hand, Kahn warped the wooden spear shafts and bent them all against the wall. This allowed us to pass harmlessly through the hallway, as long as we were careful not to get nicked.

We ended up in a carved room which was host to two statues of what looked to be priests on either side of the rectangular room. Closer inspection of them revealed carved holy symbols around their necks which indicated they were crafted by followers of the demi-god/demon Orcus. A vile creature is Orcus. Though his might is no match for that of my most powerful and kindly Kord, he is still not to be trifled with by mere mortals.

Beyond the statues was a room which housed what appeared to be a crypt. It was "adorned" with the most disgusting, horrific, and evil imagery you could imagine. I felt an immense desire to completely destroy this place, yet it had a very strong magic encircling it. I could do no harm to its surface. Hap has come to realize that our goggles of darkvision sometimes do not allow for the full effect of some areas. At times, seeing in black and white is a disadvantage. He pulled a sunrod from his pack and he lit the room up. We removed our goggles and inspected the crypt a little more closely. In addition to the heinous artwork on the crypt, there appeared to be doors painted onto it. The door in front of us had a word written above it in the abyssal tongue. Hap could not read it but I could. It simply said, "Enter."

We made our way around the crypt and found 3 more doors and 3 more words. "Abase," "Thee," and the last word being "And." After some thought, Marius put it all together. It made perfect sense. Combined, the words were "Abase thee and enter." At which point Marius suggested that we all bow and humble ourselves before the crypt so that we could gain entry, since there seemed no way to open the door from the outside.

I absolutely refused to do such a thing, even in jest. My knee will only bend to Kord. Ever. Marius, thinking he could trick the door open, prostrated himself before the "Enter" door and said, "I abase myself before you, allow me to enter!" Nothing happened. He tried again, with slightly different wording and still was not granted entry. Finally, he thought to use the actual name of Orcus in his phrasing and the door opened. When the door opened, Marius got to his feet and mocked Orcus' stupidity for allowing the door to be opened, for our plan was to lay the place in ruin. He walked into the crypt, still relishing the trick he had played and we attempted to investigate the room further. I attempted to walk through the door and was repelled. Brunis, the cleric of Heironeous tried and he was repelled as well.

Hap was able to enter. I am unsure what his religious leanings are, but I do not think him to be generally of good intention. Mostly, I think he is like other rogues I have met. Not necessarily evil, but typically greedy and self-serving. I thought perhaps any creature who was determined to goodly by their actions would not be allowed to enter.

I was able to see through the door and saw a sarcophagus. The others were able to get the lid off of it and we saw that it was empty. Curiosity got the better of me and I removed a vial of holy water from my potion belt. I threw it into the sarcophagus and it shattered inside. The water within bubbled and disappeared in a matter of seconds. Truly, that place was an abomination, but I was unable to enter. In frustration, I left that chamber and inspected the two statues in the adjoining room. I saw the statues were not fused to the floor, so with a mighty push, I was able to topple one over. It went crashing and crumbling to the floor. With satisfaction, I snarled in defiance of Orcus' unholy accomodations.

No sooner had I done this, however, than I hear Marius yell out for us to flee. He exclaimed that his will was not his own and that he was lost. He then cast a sonic spell which targetted himself. I understood that he felt dispair in his situation and was attempting to kill himself. After the spell was cast, he walked into the crypt and the door closed behind him. Arun was still in the crypt at this moment, I believe.

Everything was a blur for a moment. The foundation of the place shook and we thought we might be buried under the earth, or that the chamber might be flooded by the water above us. The druid and his tiger companion ran towards the watery area, while Brunis said that he could teleport himself, Hap and I back to Sitnalym's tower immediately. Just as we were about to teleport, we saw Arun appear outside the crypt and did not have time to tell him where we were going.

In an instant, Brunis, Hap and I appeared outside Sitnalym's tower.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Faces Of Flynn

With Reb off on a new career and not writing the journal anymore, I thought it would be a good idea to have an image of Flynn to use for the viewer profile instead. So, I sent a request out for some artists to draw Flynn for this purpose. Here is the fruit of these talented artist's labors. My sincere thanks to all for taking the time to draw him!

By ArchMageQuandolf

By Moon-Lancer

By Nicole Cardiff

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Overmind (Pt. 3)

With haste we made our way out of the dungeon. We wished to dispose of the overmind as quickly as possible. Having witnessed its powerful magic and abilities firsthand, we all agreed we should complete this task immediately, for we knew not what tricks it might have been able to accomplish even within its confines.

Hap had the clever idea to travel to a nearby item-o-matic room and seek a teleportation back to the tower. Shortly after arriving to the room and making our request, a glowing runic sigil appeared on the floor and we were instructed to step onto it and we would appear at the tower. Upon stepping into the circle, we did indeed appear in one of the lower levels of Sitnalym's tower. Within minutes, we then acquired another teleportation to just outside of Rakmar.

We were told to speak with Jonas, the high cleric of the temple of Pelor. He was the only person powerful enough to destroy the vessel which contained the overmind. After being granted an audience with him, Jonas rushed us off to a room with a large stone altar and instructed me to set the vessel upon the altar. I stepped off the platform which was home to the altar, and Jonas began his incantation. While it only lasted a few seconds, even a layman could tell that Jonas held much power and favour with his chosen god, Pelor. His words resonated around the building and I swear the very foundation of the building shook upon the last words uttered.

When Jonas finished the spell, the overmind was destroyed and the finely crafted golden vessel which carried it was left as a melted pile upon the altar. I apologized for the mess, but was assured that the cleanup itself would be quite a lucrative task and not to worry about the state of the altar. Myself and Brunis made sizable contributions to the temple in thanks for their assistance and we left for Sitnalym's tower. I hear that Rebus has a house Rakmar now and I wished to see it, but there were more pressing matters to take care of.

We got quite the surprise upon returning to the tower. We were congratulated on a job well done and then introduced to two new people. One, a druid named Khan and the other a sorceror named Arun. They wished to travel the dungeon depths with us. Krom is taking this opportunity to read through a manual that will increase his strength. Clin has decided to take a break from the fighting as well. Seems it will work out well for everyone. We left for Rappan Athuk in the late afternoon and have decided to sleep in the dungeon so that we can get an early start on our further adventures down here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Overmind (Pt. 2)

Hrmm. Where do I begin? I've never written in a journal before, but I promised Reb I'd try. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Flynn Teland, I am a Paladin of the Brawler, otherwise known to most as Kord. I serve at his whim and pleasure and have been quested to intrude upon the unholiest of the unholy places known as Rappan Athuk... well, having read through Reb's words so far, it appears he has already mentioned as such.

I must say that I was not surprised to see he did not approve of how I choose to spend my funds. Matters of theology and worship are usually lost on his lot. He chooses his own path and I will not begrudge Rebus his opinions. He skill, cautiousness, and knack at finding interesting things will be missed.

On that note, it seems Reb left off in this journal having been raised. He parted our company in good standing and I hope to see him at the capital if I ever have reason to visit. His replacement was introduced by... oh yes, Reb would prefer me not to mention the person's name and I will as a courtesy keep with tradition.

The new fellow's name is Hap. Keeps to himself and has a short fuse, that one. How do I know? Well, when the halfling was introduced to us, Krom made the mistake of picking all 3 feet of Hap off the ground and placing him on a table. "Hmmm," Krom said, "youse is short!" To which Hap replied, "And if you handle me again in that manner, I'll cut you down to my size."

Well! Do you agree now about his temper? Anyway, back to it. After the unfortunate encounter with the mind flayers, we returned back to the tower of the wizard Sitnalym. We spoke with Sitnalym (who is also Damian now as you know) and Phadian to see what lore they might have regarding these creatures and a way to permanently dispatch them. They spoke of something called an Overmind. This creature lives in a liquid environment and is made up of all the undead brains of the mind flayers of that hive that have died.

They told us of the only way known to destroy such a thing. Weapons and magic are not enough, apparently. We were told that we had to have a container made of gold whose dimensions were no smaller than five feet high by five feet wide by five feet deep. This container must be forged on hallowed ground and the spell Holy Word must be cast to disable the creature long enough to... scoop... the brains into the container.

So, it seemed we would not be returning to the dungeon anytime soon! The creation of such a receptacle would take several days and we had to acquire a scroll that had the Holy Word spell written upon it, as our cleric was unable to cast it from his repertoire. Marius, Brunis and I traveled to Rakmar to obtain the needed scroll from Brunis' order of Heironeous there. Fortunately, they had such an item on hand, as it would have taken more time than we wanted to spend waiting for its creation.

I took the opportunity to visit the grand temple of Kord that was in Rakmar as well and pay my respects. It seems, to my surprise, that news of our deeds in the dungeon are starting to make the rounds, as a young paladin named George wished to accompany me - us - into the dungeon and make his mark on the world as well. He wished to be my squire and learn from me. It is not in my character to tell someone what to do, so I told him as much that he was welcome to travel with us awhile. This stripling, while certainly skilled in battle and not without courage, was no match for the depths in which we traverse however. My hope was that upon our return to the tower, Sitnalym could find a place for him in one of the groups searching the upper levels. He could test his mettle there and gain much experience for the days to come.

Back at Sitnalym's tower, we waited for the container to be made, during which time George did indeed meet up with one of the other groups. I was greatly satisfied that he found a place and would likely survive to tell me of his adventures in that place. I told him I looked forward to hearing of the evils he vanquished.

Marius took the opportunity to read through a tome he was convinced would grant him increased knowledge. I was there when he asked Sitnalym to purchase the book and requested a line of credit which he would pay back since he didn't have the coin for the full asking price. Marius handed Sitnalym a down payment and I pitched in a bit myself, as I felt a wizard in the group whose spells were harder to resist would benefit us all.

After we took possession of the scroll and the container, we made our way back into the dungeon and prepared ourselves to do battle with the Overmind. Poor Hap. His first trek down to the dungeon and his mind is the first to get assaulted by the remaining mind flayers. They suggested to him that he should walk to the center of the room and jump into the bowl of water and take a swim, which following the battle know to have been where the Overmind resided. He was helpless against their persuasion and started to make his way there. Fortunately, I was close enough to him to be able to protect his mind from the evil influence and keep him from jumping in.

The two remaining mind flayers were dispatched with ease. Everyone started going through the various doors around the large chamber to see if we could turn off the anti-magic field surrounding the pool. There are stories within stories there, but I will stick to the topic at hand. Eventually, we discovered that the two gigantic braziers in the room offering the only light were the source of the anti-magic field and Marius was able to successfully dispel the magic within them.

Once the field was down, a very harrowed and weakend Brunis was able to get close enough, almost too close, to cast the Holy Word spell and disable the Overmind. At that point, we rushed in and removed the large container from a bag of holding and commenced to... scooping... the brains into it. There were well over 60 brains in that pool and we had just scooped the last one in time, as the spell Brunis cast was coming to an end. We sealed up the container and placed it back inside the bag.

(to be continued)

Brief Intermission - Bodies & Questions Raised

Personally, I think Flynn's use of the ring of - now one wish - was justified. From the way he described it, he felt there was going to be an unlimited number of mind flayers coming at us from all directions. He could have likely fended them off himself for some time, but he would have had 5 corpses on his hands instead of 3. I was sorry to hear he hadn't thought of using the ring until after my brain was mind flayer food, but glad he did eventually remember I was in possession of it.

My first sight back at the tower was of the dwarven cleric, Brunis standing over me. He had cast a spell which brought me back to the land of the living. Thankful I was that he was able to do this for me. I heard Flynn had purchased the necessary component for this service, a diamond worth at least 500 gold pieces, so I promptly paid him back for his kindness.

I stayed in my room for some time, sorting everything out in my mind and contemplating my future. I requested an audience with The Associate of Sitnalym That Shall Remain Nameless. Upon speaking with them, I found out that there was a legitimate offer extended to me to join the secret service of the Rakmarian government. Given my recent track record of deaths crawling around in the belly of hell-on-earth, I gave the offer considerate thought and accepted the offer.

As easy as that decision was to make, it would not be an easy task to tell the others of my opportunity and acceptance of the offer. I walked downstairs and into the feast hall, where the others had just begun their evening meal. I said, "I have learned much in my travels with you all. But, though it pains me to say it, three times I have perished in the dungeon. That place is thrice-damned to me and I will not step another foot into its depths. An offer to serve a post in the Rakmarian government was granted to me and I have agreed to take the position offered. I will no longer be accompanying you on this adventure." After the silence wore off, I was wished well by the others. I handed Marius the ring of - now one wish - and then handed my adventuring journal to Flynn, asking that he keep detailed notes of what the group's encounters. Since he seems to stay on his feet more than I, he was the logical choice to explain the full aspects of the battles they face. I then headed off to my room to gather my belongings.

While in the middle of packing, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to see Marius standing there, a fine piece of parchment rolled up and secured with a ribbon, in his black, boney hand. He explained it to be a letter of recommendation to any who might be considering using my services. I smiled, thanked him, and wished him well. He was quite pleased to know that he would have someone in the government that he could trust to look after his interests.

I then found Sitnalym and he teleported me outside of Rakmar. A short while later, I was in the city proper and reported for duty. I sit now in my chambers after putting my belongings away into the wardrobe closet and locker provided me.

Thus is the first, and last, page of my life's new chapter written into this book. It is not wise for a member of the secret service to write their innermost thoughts and deeds where any old rogue is able to read my words, is it?

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Overmind (Pt. 1)

After getting a very (surprisingly) pleasant night's sleep in the item-o-matic room, we awoke to continue on our adventure to the depths of the dungeon. We broke fast together after the religious of the lot prayed to their respective deities. I'd say most of life is determined by the toss of a coin as much as anything. Though I cannot dispute that Brunis and Flynn do seem to receive spells they attribute directly to the worship of the gods.

We made our way back through the gate where the three-headed dog was slain and the gate was closed. I hid myself and made my way silently up to the gate, but it was no use, some hell hounds had sniffed me out. There was easily a score of them. Luckily, they could not get through the gate so I had a moment to retreat and inform my friends of their presence.

Marius readied a spell and I cast a knock spell from my magic ring to open the gate. The dogs flooded through the gate and were dispatched quickly by a cold spell. We didn't see the larger dog until a few seconds later. The pack leader charged in, only to be cut down by Krom's mighty strength and greatsword. It all happened so quickly that there was little to be learned from their tactics.

The dogs dealt with, we traveled down a long hallway and I found a secret door. This led down to a circular room with four doors. None of them were trapped, or even locked. I guess someone was confident the entrance would remain hidden from most. Hah! We opened each door, one after the other, and found that they were portals of some kind that would transport you to a different location. Marius sent his summoned shadow through the first of the doors and it did not return. What a fright it must have given whomever was on the other side!

Not wanting to venture into the portals, we turned around and took another tunnel. We ended up in a large chamber filled with near a dozen grimlocks and easily a score of mind flayers. I am saddened to tell you that I was of no use in the great battle that ensued. My mind was nearly constantly barraged by the intrusions of the mind flayers. They stunned me to the point of near paralysis. There was nothing I could do to stop them from trying to feed on my brains. Thankfully, many of the attacks were thwarted by Marius, Flynn, Clin, and Brunis. Krom was in a similar situation as me for most of the battle. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to be aware of what is going on around you and not be able to assist your friends.

At one point, I felt the stunning effect release me, only to be replaced by a desire to enter into a pool into the center of the room. No sooner had a passed a series of columns, I went unconscious. Beyond this, I have no personal recollection. Flynn explained later at Sitnalym's tower that he and Krom had been able to keep their wits about them long enough to kill most of the mind flayers and all of the grimlocks. Flynn had risked his own life entering the columned area to retrieve several of us within. He and Krom then dragged us to a hallway, hoping to be able to better fend off the continued attacks. Krom, Clin, and I found death in that place. Flynn was absolutely beside himself with our deaths. He explained that in the heat of battle, and as he and Krom were being attacked from both sides, Krom was stunned and dragged off in one direction while I was dragged off in another. The mind flayers feasted on our brains while Flynn felt helpless to do anything else.

It was a short time later that he remembered the ring of three wishes that I had found. Having remembered which pouch I kept it in, he retrieved it and wished for all of us to be transported back to Sitnalym's tower.

(to be continued)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Goblins, Wisps, Rats, And Three-Headed Dogs

We must have looked quite comical taking the luxurious carriage that was called for us this morning. 6 adventurers in their dusty, ragged dungeon clothes using transport fit for royalty. The driver agreed to take us part of the way down the road towards Rappan Athuk. I do not blame him for not wanting to travel the full distance there. We arrived safely and sent him on his way with our thanks. Sure beats walking!

Rather than make our way down the well this time, we decided to walk through the gates and ensure that areas already cleared of undead and other unsavories were still accessible to others that may not have the strength and constitution that makes up our party. We entered into a previously inhabited area and it was explained that this level used to be enchanted with a permanent maze spell of some sort. All that remained were the remnants of some minor confusion, but not enough to cause any concern.

A corridor greeted us with two directions in which to go. We left the decision up to the fates and I tossed a coin. I began scouting down to the right. Sure enough, there appeared to be some recent activity, as I was able to spot a trap. It wasn't very well hidden or constructed. I was able to bypass it completely. Perhaps some others might not be as fortunate to spot it as I was, so I thought it best to disable it for others who might happen upon it.

I moved up ahead and just barely caught the sound of voices in a nearby cavern. I used my ring to become invisible and moved silently into the next area. Soon, I spotted what appeared to be nearly 15 or so goblins. One of them wore robes while the others wore armor of some kind or another. I made my way back to the rest of the party and mentioned to Marius that they all seemed to be waiting for us to come within range for them to attack. They also were very conveniently located in a semi-circle around their mage. I thought it fitting that they fall victim to a spell of Marius' casting. A pebble was enchanted with a spell which brought a silence with it. Marius flew invisibly above the group and dropped the pebble, effectively disabling their caster's ability to verbalize any spells. Then, he flew a bit higher above them so he was not caught in the spell's effect and hurled a fireball into their midst. All but the caster fell in the first moments. A brief while later, the caster met his maker. Other than an intial burning sensation, I doubt they had time to feel much pain. Shame.

The cavern had no outlets to other areas, so we turned around and followed the corridor in the other direction. We came to a cave-in, but I was able to navigate a path through to the other side without further collapse. This room opened up into a larger portion of the chamber and we were greeted to more options in which to travel. We followed a pathway for a couple of hundred feet until we were stopped by a chasm. Well, some of us were stopped momentarily. Krom made an incredible leap across and landed safely on the other side. Others required a bit more help, but with a few more jumps and some helping hands, we all made it without incident.

A little further and we came to a red column that seemed out of place. I took some time and searched the object and found a hole on one of the sides. It appeared to extend to the core of this rock. With some maneuvering of my lantern and a polished mirror, I was able to focus some light to the middle. It was too far away to see but I did see a slight gleam reflecting back at me. We spent a few minutes going over ways we might be able to get whatever this object was out of its resting place, but came up empty. I shuffled through my pack for items that might be useful and came up with a small magnet and a roll of twine. I tied the magnet to a length of the twine and threw the magnet inside with care. After several attempts, I was able to position the magnet in reach of the object and carefully retrieved my line. I could sense a bit of a resistance, so I knew I had grabbed hold of something. Sure enough, attached to the end of the magnet was a ring! It was very finely crafted. Curious, one of the casters cast a spell and informed me the ring was strongly enchanted. It was silver and was set with 3 rubies.

Hmm... I'm starting to doze off here. I shall briefly describe the rest of this busy day. We ended up following this corridor where the column was and crossed a bridge adorned with skulls. I spotted some glowing down underneath it and saw some mushrooms. I've never seen their like. The ranger came down and looked at them. He determined that one of them would produce a strong poison. Interesting! Another may be a famed mushroom of youth. We sent them all back to Sitnalym via magical means for further investigation.

Down the way a bit more, I spotted some flashing lights. I cautiously made my way towards them and they were floating around. I described them to Marius and Flynn and they said it sounded like wisps. We were able to dispatch them with some difficulty but no loss of life.

We came across a waterfall and turned around. We climbed an 80 foot cliff via a rope I had set up. Krom climbed up around 70 feet or so and saw a rat chewing through the rope! He just managed to grab above the cut line and caught the rat and hurtled it to the ground. The rest of the party was flown up to avoid more potential accidents. Shortly thereafter, a corridor gleamed of white. It looked out of place and I wished to research it further. Marius floated in ahead and told me I was being too cautious. As we stepped in, several of us felt like something was sapping at our strength. Indeed, I feel weaker now. Brunis did as well, but he was able to cast a spell to restore his lost strength. He will attempt to do the same for me tomorrow after he has prayed for more spells from Heironeous.

We came to the tomb of a titan. Flynn was adamant that we not disturb the rest of this titan and his guardian, which he was sure resided behind two sets of doors. He was able to read an archaic version of the celestial language and determine that they were goodly beings. He felt that to investigate them would be a desecration.

Up a short flight of stairs we felt a wave of heat hit us. I moved in closer and saw a barred gate. Just beyond was the biggest, and strangest, dog I've seen! Even though I was invisible and moving very quietly, he seemed to know where I was. One of the heads was pointing in my direction. Yes, one. This beast had 3 heads! I moved back to the group and described what I had seen, just in time for the beast to attempt to attack. Krom was able to act quickly and charged the creature, nearly cutting it in twain in one stroke. That man is so very strong. I am glad I have not been on the receiving end of one of his frenzied attacks. I fear I would not survive the blow. I've learned to keep my distance.

In his frenzied state, Krom then turned his attack on Marius, who after getting cut very deeply, was able to escape out reach. Flynn stepped up and cast a spell on Krom, but it didn't seem to affect him at all. Then, Flynn took the worst of Krom's attacks and nearly died in his defense of the rest of us. To further distract us, the dog ended up getting back up after we thought it dead. Very smart creature to trick us in such a way. It took a good bite out of my shoulder before Clin was able to put it down for good with one well-placed arrow up its... well, hind quarters, shall we say? It is rumored that this was the famed Cerberus. But, due to the speed and relative ease with which we dispatched the dog, I doubt this is the creature of legend.

After Krom got himself under control, he apologized - as usual. Flynn seemed to take it all in stride. Perhaps it is because they share a bond as followers of Kord. All I know is, if Krom ever looks at me with bloodlust in his eyes, I am flying the hell out of his reach and raining arrows on his head until he drops. I like to gamble on occasion, but usually not with my life. This place is too dangerous to have to worry about the people you should be trusting to watch your back.

Further investigation of this area has been confusing. We'll take a step through a corridor only to be teleported to another area. We finally ended up walking down a long hallway. I spotted a secret chamber where, through some dumb luck, Krom ended up a bit less powerful and a key materialized in a stone column. As we left this area, several hounds and two humanoids later named to me as mind flayers attacked me. I was told I almost got my brains sucked out of my head, except for the fact that Marius was able to teleport me out of the situation and out of reach from their tentacles while the rest of the group dispatched them.

Quite an eventful day. I am hoping to be able to get some rest in this place. I long for the comfort and security of Sitnalym's tower, but I don't want to get to soft or accustomed to such a life. So, here we are resting in a relatively safe environment in one of the item-o-matic* rooms set up in some of the safer areas of the dungeon. We shall unload some of our unwanted treasures and make good use of the coin we have collected.

* One of Sitnalym's goals in having Rappan Athuk cleared of some of the more dangerous tenants of the dungeons, is being able to set up rooms with item-o-matic machines. They are attended by semi-unseen servants who help facilitate the sending and receiving of items back and forth to the tower by way of the device. Items sent are then valued and coin is sent back. Other things can be sent through the magical machine as well, such as weapons, wondrous items, etc. Of course, there is a charge for such a convenience!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Faces Of Reb

The following images were created with Rebus in mind. My extreme thanks to each of the artists who took the time to give Reb a face!

By Ryvain Nailo

By Nephtis

By Nicole Cardiff

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sometimes Power Does Not Corrupt Absolutely

This was an interesting day. After we broke our fast at Sitnalym's tower, a carriage awaited us in the courtyard to take us to Tyro. Flynn must have spent the night in the other city as he did not return last night. Krom is already in Tyro, as Sitnalym teleported him there so that he could work on the temple of Kord that is being constructed. He is very easily put into a frenzied state when threatened, but he has a good heart. If there were one person I had any doubts about in our party, it would be him. Fortunately, he can't read so I hope he never hears these thoughts from me. He has nearly killed someone in our party twice already and I fear more destruction in our future at his hands. When things go well for us they go very well, however, so I don't think having him leave is the immediate answer.

So, we travelled quickly by carriage to Tyro. Marius was wearing one of Phadian's robes with his permission. It obviously had some sort of appearance enhancing enchantment on it, for when he came downstairs wearing it, he actually had lost the gauntness to his face and his skin appeared more ruddy. This is a good look for him, though he disagrees. If he wants to look like death warmed over, that is his business.

Upon arrival to town, I was able to speak with Sitnalym and inquire if I could be of some use in a security detail, as I am not too fond of strutting around in large crowds like a peacock. He got me in touch with the person in charge of this and I was agreeable to them that I help out in this manner. I was priveleged to have gained their trust enough, given the nature of the assignment and the closeness that it would put me to the Empress. Of course, the other person I was assigned to could have gutted me easily before I gained a foot towards Her Highness, if my intentions were less than honorable.

That would not have been an issue though, for I have formed a highly respectful opinion of Her Highness. She arrived in Tyro to announce several proclamations which sit well with me. First, the tax burden on the citizens is being reduced to 20%. Secondly, women are now able to hold their own lands. In the past, this was not the case. So, if a woman's husband died, his belongings were often out of her reach. Thirdly, a sort of welfare system is being instituted to ensure that people who have fallen on hard times are able to eat. Food and shelter will be provided to those less fortunate. Of course, some sort of work program is being implemented to not only help defray some of the costs for the program, but it is good for a man to work if they are able. Fourthly, all able-bodied men within the ages of 18 and 30 will be required to provide two-years service in the military.

I am not so certain about this last proclamation. If I can entreat the local constabulary to excuse me from service, I will try. I feel that I can make a good case against this decree given that I am constantly jeopardizing my life in the dungeon of graves in an effort to keep the local citizens safe from the less savory denizens of its depths.

Because of my duties, I missed the first of Phadian's sets. The dignitaries had a brief meeting then made their way down for the rest of the performances so I did get to hear him play, as was my wish. I was impressed with his abilities. He played well into the night. Even after he stopped for the evening, spirits were high. Several of us stayed up to continue the festivities long after the Happy Dragon would normally have closed.

Krom, Marius, Clin, Brunis, Flynn and myself are all anxious to return to the dungeon and will do so at the earliest we can muster in the morning.

Treasure And Trust

Those among my party that were in Tyro returned this afternoon. We had a luncheon and discussed what our plans would be. It was agreed that we wished to return to Rappan Athuk on the morrow. Phadian then appeared and informed us that he would be performing at the Happy Dragon in Tyro for some distinguished guests. I, who have had the pleasure of hearing Phadian perform, mentioned my interest in attending. It was agreed that we would delay our adventure one more day.

However, there was a bit of business left at Rappan Athuk that we could take care of with relative safety, if we were careful. We determined that Marius and I would teleport to the dungeon and survey the dragon's lair, now that they were both dead. Marius asked if Phadian wished to come along, and to my surprise, the dandy agreed! He had shown up to our rescue, but this was by no means an emergency, so I wasn't expecting him to show any excitement in the prospect. There was the chance that he might have specific knowledge of an item or area that would be invaluable, so I am glad he came along.

Marius teleported us to a place near the mithril gates and we flew the rest of the way. The trouble, he tells me, with teleportation is, unless you are familiar with the area there is a chance you could end up somewhere else. Being that he had had time to study that area best, it was the closest we could get safely. T'was no big thing. The three of us flew the rest of the way there and, other than a few umberhulks that seemed to have reoccupied the crystal caves, we saw nothing harmful.

Once we made our way past the chasm, and into the area of the dragon's lair, Phadian pointed the way he thought it was located. The lair was huge. After having been there, and not being a surveyor by trade, I would have to guess it to be at least 12,000 square feet in area. It would take a long time to give the whole area the search that it required, so we focused mainly on the area where the gold was piled. And piled it was. We put all of the coin and items of value into several bags of holding and then teleported back to Sitnalym's tower. Once all of the gold and items were divvied up, I find myself nearly 60,000 gold richer! 'Tis almost enough to lessen the shock of having passed into the afterlife twice in the last week.

Though, now that I am a rich man, I wonder if my associates will be so quick to raise me again?

Eh, they are probably wondering the same thing. It seems out of character for one such as myself, whom others might consider unscrupulous, to say this, but I couldn't imagine trading any of their lives for gold at this point. We have been through much together and true friendship and loyalty is a hard thing to buy.

Hmm. I just found out that the dignitaries that Phadian will be playing for includes the Empress herself! Well, there goes my plan to simply enjoy Phadian's performance. I'd rather not have to dress up and feel like I am on display. Perhaps I can talk to someone in charge and get on the security detail so I can stay out of sight. In the meantime, the rest of the group is busy buying things and trying to figure out what to wear to the festivities. Flynn even went to far as to travel magically to another city just to get something tailored!

Well, it is time to rest. I shall report how the festivities went later.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Gates Of Hecate (Pt. 2)

After the immense victory over the male shadow dragon and the routing of the female, we continued on in good spirits. Over the objections of our cleric, Brunis, who felt it best to rest, since the healing blessings of Heironeous were greatly diminished after the battle. The rest of us, perhaps with the blood lust still gripping at us with the defeat of the dragon, urged the cleric on.

We also wished to catch the female off balance so soon after the loss of her mate. So, we quickly left the mithril gates of Hecate behind us - as well as the bellowing and infuriated hydra - and continued along the cavern wall to the east. I was torn between being cautious and rushing to meet the dragon, but given the vastness of the cavern, we had no time for careful searching. We came across an area that glowed and reflected our lantern light back to us. There was an opening into an area encompassed in quartz crystal. If not for the setting and our purpose, I could have spent much time there marveling at the beauty of it all. The opening we spotted seemed to have been widened by claw marks so that something larger could fit through. I was certain that we had reached the dragon's lair!

Alas, upon inspection of the smaller cavern, several umberhulks advanced on us and several more appeared from the very ground we were standing upon. There must have been a total of 7 or 8 of them. Krom was cutting them down so quickly it was difficult to keep their numbers. By the time the threat was over, I got to work searching their lair. Marius insisted on flying me around. Perhaps he forgot that I had that ability myself. I was happy enough to save my enchantments at the time.

Wonder of wonders! Beyond the certain wealth that the quartz crystals would bring, I spotted a gold vein whose worth is enormous! Only from what I saw, not able to tell how deeply it ran, I estimated its value at over 150,000 gold pieces.

I am by no means a cartographer, so this is nowhere near to scale, but I have sketched the general location of the quartz cavern and the gold vein.

Keep in mind when looking at this drawing, the cave with the gold vein is much bigger than I have shown in the drawing. I had not the room to display its size relative to the cavern. For reference, the river that loops around is, in most spots, around 150 feet across.

There was nothing we could do with the gold at the moment, and we still wished to find the dragon's lair this same day so we continued on. Eventually, we came to an area that was very hot and humid. The water in the air made it somewhat difficult to see, but did not impede our progress much. We heard water running through the area violently, but we stayed along the cavern wall and did not see it.

It took no ranger, no offense to the skills of Clin, to see the dragon tracks in the area. Beyond was a chasm that we could not have crossed but by magical means and Marius flew everyone across the chasm. We began at our left and made our way cautiously around the new portion of the cavern, me scouting around 30 feet ahead of the rest.

Without notice and from nowhere, something bit me deeply to my bone seemed to move off. I tumbled back to the rest of my party for protection and out of defense cast invisibility from my ring in hopes it would save me from future attacks. While I thought it a good idea at the time, it was a ploy to bunch us up together, for the next thing I knew there were four explosions in rapid succession. I was able to avoid the first two through my training and fleetness of foot, but the next two blasts I had no chance outrunning.

Beyond this, I know nothing of the battle that took place. I blacked out as I breathed my last. Flynn described what he had seen though. We were ill prepared for the numbers and strength of our foe. While we were expecting to fight a lone dragon, instead there were no fewer than 4 Duergar, 8 Goblins, 2 Trolls, along with a dragon that bespelled itself to be invisible even when it attacked us.

I awoke at Sitnalym's tower (though I didn't know it) just hours after falling to the spells, from what I was told. The face that I awoke to was distressing, for I thought for certain I had been taken captive and would be used for some sort of vile act or ritual. He wore black armor and the symbol of Hextor. I was almost startled to death again, but the familiar face of Phadian and several other of my party members calmed my nerves. Krom was there, as was Marius. They were just coming around as well from the veil of death. As the cleric of Hextor was about to start the raising rites on Brunis, Flynn walked in and interrupted him. He gave the cleric a cold stare and lifted Brunis' corpse out of the chambers and left without a word.

We left the chambers where are life forces were returned to us and saw Flynn laying Brunis' body across his warhorse, Castan. He would only say that he would not allow that cleric, no matter how compelled against his will by Sitnalym, to touch the body of Brunis. He planned on taking him into Tyro to get raised by his own temple. And he also planned on seeing how the progress was coming on the building of the temple to Kord. Being a follower of Kord, Krom expressed a desire to accompany him. Last I saw from the tower, they had met up with a merchant's caravan and were travelling with them to Tyro.

I have spent the rest of this evening writing my words and thoughts and thinking - once again - on my own death. It is not a comfortable experience and I would rather not come close to death again. If not for the intervention of Sitnalym, Phadian, Persephone... and the one who killed the dragon, yet out of professional courtesy will not name... we would have surely met our final ends in that cavern. I am deeply indebted to them all for our timely rescue.

The draw of adventure and wealth is strong in me and I am sure to trek to the dungeon of graves with my companions again in a few days. On the morrow, after a good night's rest, I shall see if there are any errands that need to be run while some of my... yes, I would call them friends now... have business in Tyro.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Gates Of Hecate (Pt. 1)

This morning, I was not so anxious to leave the comfort of my bed for the cold and damp blanket of darkness that the dungeon provides. Reluctantly, I did throw the covers off of me and walked down to the courtyard for a light workout before making my way to the dining hall to break fast with my companions.

I was greeted cheerfully which helped to raise my own spirits some. We travelled a short way outside the tower and asked our new cleric to cast the wind walking spell on us, assuming that we would travel this way. Brunis informed us that spell was not in his repetoire, so we had to walk. The journey to the dungeon was uneventful. Perhaps anything that wished us harm took pity on us, knowing that we were likely marching to our deaths anyway?

The last time we were in the dungeon of graves, we simply used our cloud forms to float down the well. This time, we had to climb down by hand. It was no trouble. The cleric had a minor mishap, but found his footing quickly and did not fall. That would not have been a good start for this newly formed group. I waited until everyone was down the well then pulled the rope up and then flew effortlessly to the bottom. It took some time to retrace our steps since we actually did have to step this time.

'Tis a good thing the previous denizens of this area have been dealt with already by the likes of Marius and Flynn, for Flynn and our new cleric friend are not the quietest of steppers. I asked for a good 20 or 30 foot lead on the party, so that I may scout and search ahead in relative quiet. Some time later, we reached the cavern again. We passed the gargoyle lair and continued across the water, Marius ferrying people across by use of the fly spell. We followed the river upstream, hoping to find its end but there was no way around it. Rather than cross its width again, we continued to follow it to the other side of the cavern. The river, I believe, ziz-zags across the entire length of the massive cavern. Having found the other end of the cavern wall, we started to move on to our left, as the river was flowing upstream to our right.

I spotted something very large gleaming ahead of me. I waited a few seconds where I was and allowed for the rest of the group to catch up to me. Turning myself invisible, I moved as quietly as I could up to something wonderous and unexpected in the dark and natural cavern. There was a massive mithril gate ahead! The same river we walked upstream on our right was flowing downstream here on our left. Its waters flowed under this gate. I saw Marius flying by me, the curiosity getting the better of him, then the rest of the party not far behind. A closer look at the gates revealed that there was writing on them. It was not written in the common tongue, nor was it Elven, Dwarven, or of Halfling design. The cleric thought it could be a magical language so cast a spell to be able to read it if it was. Indeed, he said that there were many verses on the wall. Mostly the general praises offered to one's chosen deity. Marius cast the spell as well and was able to determine that they were verses of praise to the goddess Hecate. Among the verses, Brunis pointed out a portion of the writing that was different than the rest.

This he began to read allowed, much to the dismay of the wizard Marius. Though once the first sentence was uttered, Marius felt no harm would be done as he did not feel a spell weaving itself at the time and did not stop Brunis. A warning look to the cleric was given that he should not blindly just recite words aloud in the future. Nothing happened so I asked Brunis to repeat the words, that I may write them down for posterity. On the back page of this journal are my original scribblings, which I have accurately reproduced within this journal entry for continuity's sake.

The words on the mithril gate of Hecate:

Enchanted water to the goddess feed
Bring her the blessings to heal her pain
And pass ye through the mithril fane
Know ye devout of the goddess the verse
Ever faithful finds ever cursed

It was Flynn who figured out the first part and he suggested perhaps a vial of holy water be poured into the river which flowed under the gates. We saw a slight glow on the gate and heard a click, such as a latch being released. A push on the gates did not budge them. We figured there was probably more that had to be done.

Marius thought that perhaps the cleric should attempt to cast a wound curing spell on the gate to see what happened. Not wishing to expend a large blessing, he cast a small healing spell on the gate, at which point the runic writing lit up! This was quite a sight to see, given the wealth of the gate, now glowing through the darkness of the cavern around us. We tried again to open the gate and it still would not be moved. Brunis cast a more powerful healing spell at which point the writing glowed very brightly. Still the gate could not be opened. We all checked what knowledge we had of the goddess Hecate and a common verse her followers would say, in hopes it would open the gate. Worship of Hecate was not well known to us and we were at a loss for how to contine until Marius had an idea. He did not explain himself other to say that he would be back in a few minutes and not to move. Then he simply disappeared.

I took the time Marius was away to copy the runic writing here into my journal in hopes that perhaps I might begin to understand and learn how to decipher such things in the future on my own...

All of the sudden, Marius appeared from nowhere and starts reciting the words to the riddle, at which point the gates opened up! He flew inside the gate and was gone for several moments. Shortly thereafter, we heard a thud-thud-thudding which sounded like something very large moving towards us from beyond the gate. Marius flew through and soon after we saw a 12-headed creature that Flynn called a hydra. It stopped just before the threshold of the gate and would not pass, allowing Flynn a few more moments to inform us that this hydra also had an aura of evil about it. He went nearly mad trying to get at the creature to do battle with it, despite its overwhelming size, but he would have surely sank like a stone in his full plate armor to the bottom of the river before even reaching the beast.

Marius attempted to cast a fire spell at it which just washed right over its body and inflicted no harm. It sunk into the depths of the river out of sight all the same, knowing we could not confront it - and having no way to break through the threshold apparently. I flew in across the threshold but quickly retreated when I saw one of the heads just breaking above the surface, waiting for such a move. Soon after, the gate closed of its own accord.

But the excitement was just beginning. We heard the flapping of wings off in the distance, roused likely from the loud clanging the closing gate made. These were the dragons - Marius, Flynn and Clin were certain. They stopped though some distance from us and told us that they were bound to a treaty with faithful of Hecate but we should leave immediately. From the way they said it, they thought us to be Hecate's clerics! We quickly corrected them of their mistake, wishing to do battle with them this time around.

A great battle ensued between the six of us: Marius, Krom, Clin, Brunis, Flynn and myself against the two shadow dragons. Krom rushed on ahead in his battle rage, he would be of no great help in coordinating the battle. One of the dragons cast several images of itself in an attempt to disorient us. The ploy worked for a short time, but soon enough Brunis, Clin and Flynn were inflicting some serious pain upon the fleshly creature. In the meantime, Krom had been snatched up by the other dragon and was flown out of our sight. He must have found the strength needed to escape its grasp somehow, for as the deathblow was struck on the male dragon, Krom appeared. And, having no other enemy nearby to vent his anger on, he turned on Flynn to attack. Luckily his blow glanced off of Flynn's armor and did no damage. Flynn dropped his sword in an attempt to hold Krom until he could control his rage. Everyone was relieved when Krom came to his senses just a few seconds later. With another dragon still out there in the darkness, we would need to work together.

Brunis took the opportunity to heal his wounds and Marius began taunting the dragon with the loss of its mate. Emploring it to come to us and finish the battle. She replied that if we wished to continue the fight, we would need to come to her.

to be continued...

A Walk Of Sorrow

Something I forgot to mention in my previous entry is that Damien was invisible when his life force left him. Flynn felt sick about the event, as he could have perhaps healed him enough with a touch to stop the bleeding. Alas, a thorough search of the lair yielded not even his body. It saddens us to not be able to present him for a proper burial.

Ever-vigilant to any dangers, we made our way out of the dungeon of graves. At first, I thought the nickname to be a poetic license. Now, I know it as truth. The loss of Damien weighs heavily on all, even me who had only known the young man for a few hours. There is little doubt that he brought much light and levity to this band with his easy confidence, courage and quick wit.

The walk back to Sitnalym's tower was a quiet but quick one. We didn't necessarily wish to rush the news back to Sitnalym, but there was no point in dallying in the task either. We made our way into the tower and something seemed... off. We were met my Phadian and told him what had happened. It should have come as no surprise to us that Sitnalym knew of the event immediately after it happened. It turns out that Damien and he had worked on some very powerful spells and wards and they had come very close to collapsing in the moment that Damien's body no longer pumped blood through it.

We were told that Sitnalym was hard at work to restore the work and would be unavailable to talk with us immediately. It was decided that perhaps we should take a few days off to recover and allow Sitnalym some time to complete his tasks before we continued the investigation of the dungeon.

Marius took the time to study some tomes related to the undead and determined that it was time to further his own transformation. He recruited some assistance to actually sever his arm at the shoulder. I had a hard time grasping this concept until I saw him next. He had replaced his own limb with that of a skeleton. It was black and he was able to use it just as adeptly as if it were always a part of him. He seems to have increased not only in arcane power, but physical power in even the one day I have known him. He will be a formidable ally indeed.

Krom spent much of his time taking advantage of the unlimited food supplies provided here at the tower and in physical activity. I did not see him much, he seems a solitary person and I did not want to interrupt him apurpose and become the focus of his wrath.

Flynn. Flynn I do not understand. He spoke with Phadian and it seems he has chosen an old abandoned farmstead on which to build a temple. He is financing the construction and furnishing of this temple alone! I mean, I am all for the worship of deities - better to be safe than ignore them and suffer some fate - but this is going to cost him at least 30,000 pieces of gold! What a waste of resources if you ask me. He seems happy enough about it, so good on him... I guess.

There is another associate of Sitnalym's and Phadian's that frequents the tower and is responsible for some of the management of various affairs. Out of professional courtesy, I will not name this person. I was able to approach them and offered to run several errands over the next couple of days. With the house in minor turmoil, I felt this was the best use of my abilities and I also wished to repay some of the kindness granted me over the last few days. I made a couple of deliveries of items and picked up a few things to bring back to the manor as well. I was paid handsomely for my services.

This morning, Marius and Flynn went into Tyro to speak with a new arrival to the temple of Heironeous there. Seems he might have been willing to join us in this adventure. Indeed, they did return with him later this evening. He seems a stout fellow. A dwarf, he is. I had never thought the dwarves served any but Moradin, but now I know better. Oh, how I wish I was at the temple of Heironeous when Marius showed up there with his blackened skeleton arm waving at everyone. Hah! What a commotion that would have caused.

Hmm... I did not know it possible, but it looks like Damien is not as lost to us as we thought. His spirit returned to the tower after leaving his being. He currently is residing within the same shell that is Sitnalym. It is disconcerting to hear someone refer to themself as "we." With all that I have seen, I swear that nothing should surprise me anymore.

I finally got to meet the elusive Clin. He seems nice enough. The bow he carries seems to serve him well and it will interesting to see how my own skills with a bow compare to his.

We all sat down to an evening meal after which we went to our separate quarters to prepare in our own ways for the journey ahead. We seem to travel back and forth from Rappan Athuk quite often, but I think I will soak in the bath for awhile tonight just in case it is my last opportunity for awhile. I look forward to picking up where we left off, and investigating the rest of what appears to be an immense cavern.

Once again, may Norebo grant me good luck and fortunes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Journey To Hell's Foyer

Well, today was interesting to say the least.

Upon waking and getting in a brief workout, I broke fast with my newly introduced party members and met the... young man... I did not get to meet the night before. The cleric that has been adventuring with this group appears to be no older than 13 or 14 years old!

At this point, I am not easily surprised by the company I have been meeting, but this did give me some pause. How could this stripling survive in such a place, and would he have power enough to not only stay alive himself but keep us alive if we happened to fall into harm's way? He seems confident in his abilities and the others do not question his usefulness. A concerned look and inquiry by me was answered. It seems that Damien is much older than his body would indicate. He explained, without going into too much detail (perhaps he tires of having to tell the tale so oft), of the goddess he serves, Mistra. She apparently is associated with magic and time. Some of the more powerful spell forms that Damien casts cause his body to actually become younger. It seems to be a running joke among the more familiar of the group that if he keeps it up, they will soon be carrying him to battle in a crib. Damien and Sitnalym appear to be very old friends.

A display of his abilities as a cleric were soon made manifest as he cast a spell on us all called Wind Walk after we made our way into the courtyard. Within minutes we travelled what would have taken us hours or even a full day. We floated, nay soared, as if clouds in a gale wind towards the entrance to the dungeon. Those who had been to the dungeon lead the way down a well and after many turns and depths, we took our physical form again.

We remained very silent. It was explained that the previous journey down here ended in the death of one of their companions during a battle with an army of giant spiders. The queen of the spiders escaped as she was near death and they hoped that she had returned to the lair since they had been gone for a day or two. Indeed, she was present and no sooner as he saw her, Krom charged upon her and cut her in twain in one blow! As he cut her down, he turned to the rest of the group with bloodshot eyes and roared. Damien moved forward, which was a mistake. Krom, in a frenzied state, attacked Damien and did quite a bit of damage to the young cleric. He quickly retreated behind the safety of Flynn's well-armored person and tried to heal himself. Unbeknownst to us at the time, magic wasn't working very stably and he cast a spell that made a table with food appear on it instead.

If not for the situation at hand, the scene would have been very funny indeed. Few things besides food could calm an frenzied orc! Krom soon regained his own mind and apologized profusely for harming Damien. He explained that sometimes he cannot control himself in battle. Further discussion brought to light that this was somewhat an ability that could be supressed until he was damaged in battle, so we all agreed that it would be wise to supress it indeed unless there were a multitude of foes for him to choose from. Krom made it clear he would rather be held magically in the future than harm any of his companions and gave permission to be cast upon if the need was great.

Well, this was quite the first test of the new party's cohesiveness! It did not bode well for our future that one among us would attack another, but it all seems to have worked itself out for the time being.

We had wind walked to a ledge that was around 80 feet off the ground by my estimation. I was asked to find a way down for us. There was a bridge that spanned the cavern that was made of spider's web. It was very strong and I had no difficulty setting a grapple with two lengths of knotted rope attached. Everyone climbed down and we proceeded to explore.

We came to a large cavern where the three original members of the group had been before. Flynn, Marius, and Damien described a great battle there with more than a score of gargoyles that they had dispatched. As the battle had ended, they heard the beating of great wings the roar of a great dragon making their way towards them. They had run back to the narrow entry to the cavern and narrowly left with their lives. Damien was hit by a massive blow of negative energy by one as they fled. It took a great deal of his strength then to restore the damage done, from what he told me.

So, here they were again and Krom and I for the first time. Hearing and seeing no immediate presence of dragons, Damien and I set about finding the gargoyle lairs nested high in the caverns. We flew around to several tunnels and ended up finding a fair amount of goods that could be used or sold. We came back to the party and continued our exploration of the area. We soon came to a river nearly a 150 feet wide in spots. The only way across was to ferry people across by flying them over. Once on the other side, I just barely spotted something out of place nestled inside a large natural column.

I wish I had never seen it, for it brought Death. Twice. Upon a careful search, I found what appeared to be a plaque made of metal. There was a prominent relief of the symbol of Nerull which to any normal person would indicate death in and of itself. My searching found that this plaque was trapped magically and far beyond my ability to bypass or disable. With a touch of a gauntleted hand, Marius turned the metal plaque turned to rust and the slow moving river carried the rusted parts downstream. With a gesture, Marius motioned me to enter the tunnel that was made visible then. Upon my first step... my life left me.

This is very difficult for me to write of. In that brief moment that I breathed my last, I knew my mistake and I also knew excruciating pain. There was nothing but darkness, but then I was alive again. Damien certainly does not have the wisdom of a 13 year old. He had the foresight to bring several scrolls of true resurrection with him to this abominable place and restored my life to me.

After composing myself, I immediate went about searching for any more traps, disappointed in myself for not having the prudence to do so before leaping in the first place. I saw no more trap, but was reluctant to take that step again regardless. I let the rest of the party go down the entrance, bringing up the rear. To my shame, I never made it in the tunnel. A death knight appeared with a demon it had summoned and created an ice wall that separated me from my party. While they were within its lair, I struggled futilely to chip away at the ice in an effort to reach them. I was fully aware that they may all die and I would just be digging to meet my own death once more. The ice was nearly ten feet thick and I was preoccupied with chipping away, so I did not see what transpired, but I heard afterword that Damien had dismissed the demon back to its own plane. With a holy fury, Flynn fought the death knight nearly by himself. He smote it three times with his holy longsword and also struck the knight with the killing blow.

Death. Twice. It pains me to write this. The evil creature cast a very powerful fireball spell and it killed the young/old cleric. Distraught, we solemnly went about securing the lair and the treasure within and made our way back to Sitnalym's tower to inform him that his long time friend lost his life.

So, here I sit in the solitude of my luxurious quarters, in the safety of the tower, writing of such things as a story. The whole truth of it is a whirlwind in my mind with no anchor in reality. I hope in the morning to wake up in this goose down bed to find it was all a dream.

A Life Of Luxury, At Least For A Night

I sit here in my private chambers within Sitnalym's manor. I have seen much in my travels, but all pales in comparison to the spectacular and wonderous goings-on here.

I walked for a couple of hours in the direction Phadian indicated but flew most of the way to the tower invisibly. I really didn't care if anyone saw me necessarily, but why take the chance? The walking did serve another purpose however. It allowed me to conserve some of the magic within my armor in case I needed a quick getaway. One can never be too careful when meeting people on their own turf.

Once again, a wizard whose tower was not to difficult to find. It rose high above the plains and was seen by me long before I reached the gates. As I approached, a servant bid me welcome and escorted me inside where another servant informed me that his master was occupied with some task at the moment and would be with me as soon as it was convenient. I was urged to make myself at home and was offered food and drink, which was served in the dining hall.

While eating, I had the chance to meet a couple of adventurers. Presumably, I might be working along side them. One of the gentlemen was rather thin with sunken eyes. If he were not walking and breathing, I might have sworn an oath that he was an undead. It turns out that he is a wizard of some skill and ability. Indeed, he does seem to have a preoccupation with undeath and called himself a pale master. He called himself Marius.

If that image wasn't strange enough, the company that Marius kept confused me at first. Marius introduced a friend of his - a paladin. I have never in my life seen a paladin associate himself with someone who has such an obvious interest in the undead! It was explained to me by, Flynn was his name, that he did indeed uphold the good and would destroy evil without compunction, but he chose the path of freedom over law. And that included the freedom to choose one's own path as long as it did no harm to another or involved any evil act.

They explained that there were others in the party that were unavailable at the moment, but a young cleric named Damien would be joining us as well.

After we got ourselves acquainted and had our evening meals, an orc arrived at the tower looking for adventure as well. He called himself Krom. He looked well-suited for battle. Shortly after he arrived, our host freed himself from his prior business and introduced himself as well. I provided him letters of recommendation which he promptly read then handed to Marius. Sitnalem explained that he doesn't necessarily hire people, rather, he introduces and provides direction to those going to the dungeon of graves.

He offered us accomodations for the night and promised to provide us fair value for any items we might retrieve from Rappan Athuk and wish to sell or trade him. I write these final words from the comfort of a goose down bed, relishing these final moments before I delve with these people who seem battle worthy but with whom I have yet to swing a sword. On the morrow we travel to the dungeon.

May Norebo grant me good luck and good fortune.

New Opportunity Or Certain Death?

Well, you know what they say - "fortune favors the brave," or perhaps the foolish? Today I made my way into a quaint little town named Tyro. It seems that whatever inn or tavern I happened to visit in this town had a job posting from a fellow named Sitnalym. Discreet inquiries around town seem to indicate that he is a wizard of some renown in the area (what is it with me and wizards?!). Anyway, he posted notices that he is coordinating the gathering of bands of adventurers to visit a place call Rappan Athuk, which also seems to be called "the dungeon of graves" by some people.

There is a particular inn here where some of Sitnalym's associates tend to frequent. I happened to arrive on a good night it seems, as a bardic friend of his by the name of Phadian happened to be playing. Quite the gift that one has. I found myself harmlessly enchanted by the fellow, as were most of the patrons. Seems he weaved a spell into his music to calm the savage beast, as it were. Even with the ability to somewhat counter such effects from my father's side of the family, I found myself succumbing to the melody. No harm was done so I feel no anger towards him, rather I have great respect for his abilities.

After Phadian had played for a good hour, he took a break, at which point I approached him and made mention of the job posting. He spoke of the dungeon of graves and the danger - and wealth - within its depths. Not being one to shy away from a challenge, I made it clear that I was willing to persue the conversation further. After having asked me several questions, for the purpose of ensuring I was of sufficient skill and qualifications for the task I believe, Phadian provided me with directions to Sitnalym's tower and made arrangements with the innkeeper to have my meals and rooms paid for while I was in town. Colour me impressed! I shall make my way to Sitnalym's on the morrow and see what the good fellow has to say.

The Mage's Artifact

I recently came across a wizard of some renown in this region of Greyhawk. Of course, given the nature of what I am about to write, I shant speak or write his name to protect his identity - and his being - from any possible harm.

It never fails to astound me, that no matter how I may attempt to dress, speak, or carry myself, there are always those with a seeming sixth sense to understand someone's true nature. I was keeping to myself in the tavern when a well-dressed gentleman approached my table and said he had business he wished to discuss with me. I looked around to make sure no one was close by to overhear us. The gentleman sensed my apprehension and made a subtle gesture with his hand. "There friend," he said. "No one will be able to hear what we have to discuss, nor will they be able to read our lips. To the other patrons of this establishment, it will seem that we are making small talk."

He went on to describe a magical artifact, a staff, that had been in his possession for many years, and how one day it was stolen from his tower. He seemed to think that the artifact was removed by magical means as he was able to cast a spell to later locate the object and determined that it was in the hands of a rival wizard in the area. My new client had attempted to retrieve the artifact himself through arcane methods, but the item was too well warded at this point. He wished me to collect the item for him through more mundane tactics.

Upon receiving information regarding the whereabouts of the item, a general layout of the building it was housed in, and a description of the rival mage, I studied the information and developed a plan that I would initiate at nightfall. Locating the opulent tower of the rival mage along the coastline was no large task. Nor was entering an upper level of any concern, having commanded my armor to fly me up to an open window on the fourth floor.

I quickly found the artifact, but took my time getting to it. After using my ring to make myself invisible, I made sure to move as silently as I could. Searching around the pedestal upon which the artifact now rested, I discovered that it was indeed warded magically. A survey of the runes around the base allowed me to find the proper runes to scratch out to remove the barrier. I placed the staff within my haversack and flew out the window and to the inn I was staying at in town. The next morning I delivered the artifact to my client.

Aye, it sounds easier than it was, and there is more to the story. Imagine my surprise when in the morning I delivered the staff to my client, he tells me that the body of the rival wizard was found at the bottom of an ocean cliff near his tower. It seemed that he had fallen to his death sometime during the night. My client asked me if I knew anything about this unfortunate event. I politely requested my payment and was on my way.

Items Of Note In My Possession

If indeed I have passed on from this world into the afterlife, I wished to make things easier on the one who may come across and have use for any of my possessions... Unless you were the one who killed me, then a pox on you and those whom you serve and serve with you.

One of my most prized items of note would be this fantastic armor I came across one day. Where and how it came to be mine if not of import. What you will notice upon closer inspection is this studded armor is not a typical leather as you might be accustomed to. It is comprised of the tiniest of brown feathers. The mage I had identify its magical properties says that it is called "feathered armor" and allows the wearer to fly as a wizard does for nearly an hour a day. Its ability to allow the wearer to fly again is renewed the next day.

Upon my hands are gloves that help me to be more dextrous than I am naturally.

If you take the gloves off, you will find ring of invisibility on my left hand. On the right hand is a ring that I also take much pride and comfort in owning - a ring of lockpicking.

The cloak that I may still be wearing is a cloak of the elvenkind, and my boots are of the elvenkind as well. One in my profession finds them particulary useful. The cloak enhances my ability to hide well and the boots soften my footfalls.

You may notice an amulet around my neck. It is an amulet of natural armor with a moderate enchantment upon it.

In my scabbard, you will find a moderately enchanted longsword - a gift from my father along with his blessing when I left my people.

Across my back may still be a lightly enchanted shortbow. The bow was also a gift from my father and is complimented well by the quiver of Ehlonna.

Who knows what else you may find within the Hewards handy haversack? Well, at least some various and sundry items that are useful in my chosen profession. It is extra-dimensional space and allows for more to be placed within the compartments than you would normally think possible. A word of warning: do not place any bags of holding, or any other magical containers within this! The consequences could be deadly for the one who tries.

I will leave it to you to count up any coin or gems that may be in my possession. I cannot make it too easy on you, aye?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cast Of Characters

Here is a list of characters whose names will come up often.

Player Characters:
  • Brunis - A 12th level dwarven cleric of Heironeous who will shortly be joining the party in the story line. Damien's prescence is sorely missed, but Brunis helps bring cohesion and support in his own way.
  • Clin - A 12th level human ranger who is very good with a bow. While a fairly recent addition to the party, he does precede Reb. He was away on personal business during the time when the party killed the spider queen and faced the death knight. Flynn often turns in response when someone calls for Clin.
  • Hap - A 5th level rogue & 6th level halfling assassin. When Rebus left the group, Hap took his place. He is built like your average halfling and stands no more than 3' 3" tall. He'll happily bring you down to size though if the occasion calls for it, so it is advisable to stay on his nearly nonexistent good side. In spite of his size, he is actually a little heartier and more skilled than Rebus is in the ways of the rogue. He favors daggers as his weapon of choice.
  • Flynn - A 15th level human paladin of freedom whose quest is to reach the deepest depths of Rappan Athuk, destroying all evil along the way. Most of his current funds are being spent in the construction of a temple for Kord in the town of Tyro.
  • Krom - An 13th level half orc barbarian/frenzied berserker. He is a follower of Kord, as is Flynn. Krom highly respects strength and is able to perform great feats of strength of his own. He rides a fine edge between the roles of indispensible warrior and bringer of destruction to those who are his companions.
  • Marius - A 7th level human wizard & 7th level pale master. He is thought of by his party as the brains of the operation and displays great power in his spells. Some would say he has an unhealthy obsession with all things undead. He has gone so far as to replace his left arm with one of a black skeleton.
  • Rebus - A 10th level half elf rogue & 1st level shadowdancer. Owner of the journal you have been reading. He is not some petty thief, instead using his talents for the big prizes. Though he wields many enchanted items, he prefers to overcome challenges using his wit and physical abilities when he can. He is no longer adventuring in the dungeon, since receiving an offer to join the secret service of Rackmar. His replacement in the party is Hap Lywellyn.
Non-Player / DM Run Characters
  • Damien - ?th level human cleric of Mistra. While he appears to be a 13 or 14 year old boy, he is likely much much older. There is no telling what arcane magics can be harnessed through his will. Through the combination of power words, runic tatoos and forms, Damien is able to weave very potent spells which task his body greatly. His physical body was recently destroyed by fire as a result of a battle with a death knight. Rest In Peace.
  • Persephone - She is a beautiful and deadly bowyer and fletcher whose craft is practiced and perfected at Sitnalym's compound. It is likely she will laugh away any attempts to get to know her on a more "personal level" as she is in a relationship with Phadian.
  • Phadian - A very charismatic and handsome elven bard who frequently plays to the delight of the townsfolk of Tyro. He is a close associate of Sitnalym's and acts as his diplomat in some cases.
  • Sitnalym - A highly renowned and somewhat unpredictable wizard who makes his home in a tower a day's ride from the town of Tyro. His tower is also strategically located for frequent excursioning into the dungeon of graves.