Rufusreich

Yankee, Go Home
Foreigners both benign and malignant (3 of 4)

POOF!

A flock of birds took to the sky, startled by the sudden sound.

“What a rush!” cried Argens. He was beaming from ear to ear for the first time in days. He dropped Clement and Jens’ hands and started bounding around the forest clearing, swinging his sword in complicated patterns.

Tegan peered into the gloomy distance. “What happened to the sun?”

“This is the region of Brux. The Beastlands is divided into three layers: one is endless afternoon, another endless twilight, and a third endless night. This is the middle layer. I’d like to introduce you to your first god.” Jens cast a spell. “And he’s only 10 miles away! Well done, Clement.”

Two hours later

Clement and Argens were lagging behind, laughing about some farm story from the cleric’s childhood. “Back in St. Olaf—oops! I mean, back in Brandon’s Bridge….” Seeing her opportunity, Tegan grabbed Jens’ arm roughly and pulled him a few paces ahead.

“I know you brought our weapons, Father, but did you bring anything else? Scrolls of major magic? A summoning wand? SOMETHING?”

Jens looked guilty. “Why do you ask, my child?”

“I’m a serious adventurer, Father Jens. Surely you didn’t think I’d let the four of us travel to another plane without doing at least a bit of divination? I bought some potions from Andros and consulted Obad-Hai directly. The augury said that Clement and I would find ‘weal’ on this adventure, but the divination implied that we were in terrible danger. It used the word ‘death,’ Jens!!”

“I consulted Tyr also, my daughter. You need not fear. Tyr’s prophecy is extensive. It covers every aspect of our … trials.”

“I can’t help but notice you kept this extensive prophecy from me…”

The cleric grew agitated. “I could not risk it! You had to come!”

Tegan froze in her tracks and put her finger to her lips. “What is that commotion up ahead?” she hissed. Argens and Clement came up behind and peered over Tegan’s shoulder. Two hundred yards ahead, there were perhaps twenty humanoids, pushing at some sort of wooden barrier. The party could hear wailing and moaning, and the occasional barked command.

“We’re now well within the borders of Ursis, the domain of Balador, god of werebears. What problem could afflict heaven, a problem that a god could not solve?” said Fr. Jens.

The party walked up to the crowd of humans. Each, Tegan noticed, had some strange physical characteristic. There was an elderly woman with antlers, a young man with feathers up and down his arms, and a little girl with a fox’s nose and whiskers. “Side effects of spending eternity in the Beastlands,” whispered Clement. “Eventually these human souls will become intelligent, saintly animals.”

“My son!” cried the antlered grandmother. “He’s in there! Why won’t you let me …” As she pointed ahead to a strange pearly hemisphere set into the ground, a large werebear wearing a cape stepped around the magical dome, leaned over the fence, and waved a carved stone in front of her eyes. The grandmother’s agitation ceased. “My oath,” she said calmly. She walked away, accompanied by two others.

“Miele!” called Father Jens. “What on earth is this?”

The massive werebear approached. “We do not know, friend Jens. It seems to bewitch the mortal petitioners, but we natives of the Beastlands are immune. Have you seen Balador?”

“We just arrived. He hasn’t answered you?”

“No,” said Miele, shifting uneasily. “Ursis without our god … we fret and whine, the whole community.”

Clement grabbed Tegan’s arm. “Look! The explanation is right there!” he cried, pointing to the pearly dome. Tegan saw nothing. “Look closer, woman! It’s that bastard, Dendritius!!”

Argens raised his sword. “Evil! Evil must be stopped!!!”

Before Miele could react, Argens and Clement vaulted over the fence….

...and vanished as soon as they touched the pearly dome.

Jens moaned. Tegan shot him a look of contempt and somersaulted into the dome herself. “Support me, Tyr!” the cleric cried, as he pushed the horrified Miele to the ground. In an instant, he had joined his friends inside the dome.

Inside the Seed of Woe

It was an unearthly experience. Inside the dome, the grass was red and the trees were lilac. Wind tore at the party’s hair and clothes as each raved psychotically and slashed at a smoky, shadowy figure. Blood streamed from their wounds as each fight got worse and worse…

Clement (with his kick-ass Will save) was the first to recover his wits. He turned to the smoky erinye devil and bellowed, “By the Shining One, go back to the Nine Hells! You are not REAL!!” With his next blow, Peri blazed with a blinding light and the apparition vanished.

“Tegan?” he cried. Peering through the chaos roiling around him he finally found her. She was slumped on the ground, staring at a shadow-roper, murmuring “No… no… my strength…” The cleric raised his hands to the skies and cast dispel magic. He could feel a heaviness, a resistance as he said the magic words. The Beastlands is a good-aligned plane. My spells should be more powerful than ever. What is wrong with this place? Nevertheless, Tegan’s eyes popped wide and with a cry of rage she stabbed the roper with her two swords and it exploded.

“It was an apparition. But it felt like it was getting more real with every second. This place is feeding on us, Clem. That’s why Miele was trying to keep them out!” Indeed, as the pair looked through the gloom they could see each of their companions surrounded by four foes which were growing less smoky and more solid. Jens was closer, so the pair ran to his side.

Jens was moaning as he faced four glowing stony figures. Tegan decapitated two of them in one round, as Clement cast break enchantment, freeing both Jens and Argens from the madness effect, because they were in range! Jens killed the other two creatures with a cry of triumph.

The three rushed to Argens’ side, just in time to watch him kill the second to the last of the shadow-zombies facing him. Tegan raised her sword and charged … just in time to watch the zombie-thing deliver a mighty blow. She hacked the thing to ribbons, and Clement ran to Argens’ side, already saying the magic phrase for cure serious wounds.

Brother Clement looked up at his friends in horror. “He’s dead!”

Father Jens dropped his sword and grinned maniacally. “Finally!!” he growled, transformed into a giant bear, and bared his fangs.

Next time: Lies and the lying liars who tell them.

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A Prophecy (from Tyr to Jens)
In octosyllabic non-metered, non-rhyming verse.

To the land of endless twilight
Where fur, teeth and claws reign supreme
Shall come four from Sea-Trade-City

Kind, secret-bearing war-cleric
True, twice-mighty warrior-maiden
Sun-priest marked with ebony scars

And he, and he, and he, and he.

The chosen one of battleā€™s god
Of tender years but sterling heart
Will stand against the Seed of Woe

Her strength shall fail
Two holies held
And he and he
Will be sundered

But his third life as something new
Shall pierce the wall and glorify
Gods will rejoice and his right hand
Shall be blessed; hail future hero.

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Road Trip?
Wherein is found student driving and destiny. (2 of 4)

The sun was shining. The birds were singing. Juno and Billy were invisible.

“You three are deranged!” laughed Marielle. She and Clement were sipping tea at the patio table, watching Tegan running around the front lawn with her quarterstaff.

“Tag is much more fun when your targets are invisible.” cried Tegan. A pebble shifted near the willow tree, and Tegan catapulted across the lawn. WHACK! “Two points,” Billy admitted sourly.

“Oh come on, Billy-baby,” said Tegan. “Don’t let a little subdual damage get you down!”

El Cid entered the garden and cleared his throat. The tag-players stopped in place and wheeled around to face him. “Begging your pardon, my Lords and Ladies, but Lord Vanth Bruil and his grandson are here to see you, and his Lordship is very angry. I think it would be best if you would come into the parlor immediately.”

Juno Nim let his invisibility lapse. “Angry? Did he mention why?”

“Something about a bill collector from the Liefmont Piers casino, my Lord.”

Tegan felt a cold wash over her scalp as much of her drunken scheme came flooding back into her mind. “Juno, you have to do me a favor. Keep Vanth busy. You and Billy sympathize with him, shine him on, show him all your gambling records. Marielle, find some pretext to get Argens out here to the patio.”

“So we can get him to pay the bill?” asked the puzzled Billy.

“It will all turn out to be a big mistake, mark my words. If you blame your fool accountant and give him a huge honkin’ gift certificate, you’ll be friends for life.”

“But Tegan,” began Br. Clement.

“Sit tight, Clem, and please trust me, kids. It’s going to be worth doing – according to the Prophecy.”

“A prophecy? You know how much I love them,” said Marielle.

Les Cinq enacted Tegan’s plan, and soon Tegan and Clement found themselves alone on the patio with the sulky Argens. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why Lady Marielle sent me here,” the teen whined.

“It’s all my fault,” said Tegan. “You see, Father Jens and I were a bit worried about you. Your grandfather has kept you on a tight leash. You know how worried he is about this calling of yours as a paladin of Tyr. He wishes the whole issue would just go away.”

Argens’ cheeks grew red with anger. “By the Fenris Wolf, woman, Tyr appeared to me. In my bedroom, as real as you’re standing here -“

Clement placed a soothing hand on the lad’s shoulder. “We understand, my son. We fear the gods in this household.”

“It must be driving you crazy, knowing you have this destiny to be one of Tyr’s representatives on Oerth but having no way to take action.” Argens nodded and bit his lip.”Well, ever since our most recent trip to the Underdark, we’ve been restless, too. Clement, in particular, is a bit melancholy -” The cleric began to sputter. “Oh please, Clem, don’t even try to deny it. Well, Father Jens, Tyr and I have a solution to both of your pissy moods. And it promises to pay long term benefits for Les Cinq.” Tegan began running toward the nearby apple orchard. “Come on, slowpokes,” she called merrily. “Last one to Fr. Jens is a rotten egg!”

In the apple orchard

The burly cleric greeted each with a hug and a whoop. “This is going to be such a hoot! Close your eyes; I’ve got presents.” Jens presented Tegan, Argens, and Clement with their weapons and armor. “I snuck into your private bedchambers using dimension door. Forgive me, Tyr said it was necessary. Now, Clement, here’s an additional gift for you from me and Father Neil.” Jens handed him a little velvet box. The dumbfounded cleric opened it, revealing a small forked piece of copper. “Neil bought and blessed this metal for you. It will be your focus for casting plane shift for the very first time. Don’t worry, ‘student driver’, I have walked the planes for years and I will travel with you. Tegan and Argens will provide the muscle.”

“To finally see the Shining One in the flesh…”

“No, no, my son. Someday you can visit Pelor in Elysium, but not today. I’d like to introduce you to some friends in The Beastlands who will provide a safe place for Les Cinq to retreat to in times of trouble. Elysium, you may remember from seminary, has the entrapping trait.”

Tegan looked at Clement quizzically. “There are two planes, one good and one evil, which can entrap people. Elysium is a place of such perfection that every time you spend a week there, there is a small chance that you will forget your previous life and vow to never leave the plane again. Only a miracle or similarly strong magic can undo this. If we are going to designate a hideout, we might as well choose another of the heavenly dimensions to avoid this risk. It is highly unlikely, but I understand Jens’ point.”

Clement took a deep breath and stood up straight for the first time in a week. “My friends, thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I think a trip to a heavenly plane is just what I need to help me cleanse myself of the memories of the Nine Hells. This will be such a joy!” Tegan and Jens exchanged guilty looks. Don’t mention the prophecy, Tegan silently implored. She studied Argens carefully, crossing her fingers for luck.

The four adventurers joined hands. Argens could feel the little metal fork between Clement’s fingers. The cleric spoke the holy words … and POOF! The apple orchard was empty once more.

Next time: Intrigue even in Heaven.

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One T'Kila, Two T'Kila, Three T'Kila, Floor
A bonus adventure, (1 of 4)

[Dear Anybody Who is Reading This … based on some fun side-chatter among the players, I was inspired to write this little tale. It is still unfinished, and I’m waiting to see what DMTegan and indeed all of us think about it before we consider it “canon.” Don’t take it too seriously, yet.]

At the Grand Opening of The Unicorn’s Beard

Tegan’s grin was lopsided as she ran her fingers over the woodgrain of the bar. It felt so niiiiice! She could imagine the great oak from which it had been cut. Sun-dappled leaves in summer, the crystal sheen of ice covering its smallest branches in winter … WHOOPS! Her questing fingers had knocked over a stein of beer!

Tegan leapt to her feet. “I do beg your pardon, sir,” she said to the newcomer she had drenched. “Oh! Father Jens! I didn’t even recognize you – yet another piece of evidence that I’ve had one too many…”

The burly cleric of the war-god Tyr chuckled. “No such thing!” He bowed his head and made a complicated gesture of benediction. “It has been a while since we’ve seen one another, your Ladyship. And as for this,” he said, indicating the beer stain, “please don’t give it a second thought. An old soldier like myself prides himself on wearing clerical robes that can easily stand a slosh or two of brew!”

“At least permit me to buy you another,” said Tegan.

“On one condition,” said Jens with a grin. “Will you consent to grace me with your company as I drink it? I actually came over here hoping we’d get a chance to talk.”

Tegan gestured for Molly Quinn, who pushed through the crowded bar in record time. “Oh, Lady Tegan—this is so wonderful! We haven’t had a bar on Trevethian Island in years. I can’t believe all these people were willing to take the ferry across to attend our grand opening!”

Tegan smiled. “I think you can thank Juno’s connections and Marielle’s decolletage for that.”

“But, Lady Tegan, I know it was your idea to choose my father to run this tavern. He’s so happy!” Molly impulsively kissed Tegan on the cheek, then blushed. “I—er, yes, what can I get you? We have a special on shots of this elven substance. I believe it’s called ‘t’kila’? Both of you should try it! On the house!!” Jens whooped and nodded, and Molly put eight shotglasses full of the exotic golden liquid on the bar. She scurried away.

Father Jens and Tegan clinked shotglasses. “Bottoms up!” trilled Tegan.

Some time later….

Jens was waving his arms in the air, like he just didn’t care. He looked over at Tegan, who was softly weeping. “Oh my Tyr!” he croaked. “What’ssh wrong, Teagy?”

“It’sh just—” she waved her hands in the air weakly, indicating the stage, “hizzh music. Ish so beaaautiful.” Jens swiveled on his chair and peered in Billy’s direction.

“How doeezh he sing those high notes? He’s so … wow.”

“I knoooow,” cooed Tegan, leaning on the cleric’s shoulder. “How could anybody ever be unhappy <hic> when Billy izzzzh ssshinging?”

“The whole bar ish happy,” said Jens gravely. “Except for two people.”

Tegan stared at the cleric quizzically, who pointed toward the corner booth.

Where Clement sat, staring sadly at his hands.

Jens pointed at Marielle’s table next.

The radiant and cheerful Marielle, dressed in her new, stunning purple wizard’s robes with actual silver inlay, was chatting up Lord Bruil, whose dignity was crumbling into a smile as the sorceress charmed him. At Lord Bruil’s right, though, was his grandson, the paladin Argens, who looked miserable.

“One, two.” said Tegan meaningly. “That’shhh—that’ssh so saaaaad… Jens, I love you, man.”

“Issh what I wanna talk about. Here’ssh my plan,” Jens began.

The next morning, Castle Trevethian

Tegan took a break from her morning workout to put an ice pack to her aching head. Obad-Hai damn it, she mused. I wish I could remember what Jens and I discussed last night. Something about bears? And Clem? I think I agreed to something … I sure hope I don’t regret it!

Next time: Clerics and paladins and bears, oh my!

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The Aboleth's Lair
And what we found there.

Aboleth CAGE MATCH—it’s on!!!!

  • The party found themselves outside a natural cavern leading deep into the rock. A bronze plaque set into the wall said “Private Domain of Eurypylus the Aboleth, Sub-Sovereign of the Duergar Faction. Authorized Personnel Only!”
  • Immediately, Copernicus overheard some muffled chatter from the passageway. Juno snuck in invisibly and silently. He warned the party that we would be facing 6 duergar guards, 4 of whom seemed to be fighters, and 2 of which seemed to be mages of some sort. Marielle’s fireball softened up the opposition, and swords and arrows dispatched the foes quickly.
  • The passageway near the guard station led into a huge cavern, dominated by a large column of rock in its center. We scouted out three options of passageways to explore, and we noticed a well-worn footpath to the right of the column of rock. Just to be contrary, we decided to approach the column on the left side. We were almost out of the room before a scream from Brother Samuel made it clear why the duergars never walked this way: one of the “stalagmites” at the foot of the rocky column was actually a roper! It had attacked with two of its tentacles, and was pulling the hapless cleric into its gaping maw. We responded with deadly force and severed these two tentacles, but in the process two more of the creature’s tentacles hit Billy the bard, who screamed and fell unconscious. We cut him free and killed the vile monster, but Billy remained unresponsive. He lay weakly on the ground, eyes closed, breathing with difficulty. After a somewhat confused diagnostic process, we determined that the roper had drained all of his strength away. A restoration spell soon put the stricken half-elf to rights. As Billy (who was having a crappy day) rose to his feet, his green eyes flashed with anger, and he expressed his renewed eagerness to kick some aboleth/duergar booty.
  • We continued out of the room along a winding passageway to the north. It ended at a pair of ironbound wooden doors. We listened at the doors, and could make out a faint melody. Using clairvoyance, we scouted the room beyond without entering. It was a large cavern which housed several covered wagons and oxen. There was a depression in the northwest corner of the room, where seveal drow were seated, chatting and eating. One of the vile dwarves played a harmonica. On further clairvoyant inspection of the depression, we saw that it was, in fact a small pool. We decided not to investigate, but rather to try another of the passageways leading away from the roper’s cavern.
  • This passageway led us down a long corridor, which was dug at an angle, so we descended deeper into the earth. It ended at a door, which we opened. When we entered the room, we found ourselves on a small balcony overlooking a room filled with broken statuary. It also included a pool, from which a band of kuo-toa emerged and attacked us. Despite their feeble lightning bolt attack, we quickly dispatched them.
  • Juno Nim had an instinct that this pool (and perhaps the other we’d discovered) was the way into the aboleth’s lair. We used another water breathing scroll and walked into the chilly water. Just as Juno had thought, there was an underwater passageway at the bottom of the pool. We followed it for its full length, emerging in a small stone cave.
  • The cave was medium-sized, and ended in a small 5×5 alcove. Standing in this hollow was a haggard looking human woman with unkempt hair wearing the stained robes of a cleric of Fharlanghn. She told the party that their quest was futile, that Clement had pledged himself to serve “the Master,” and that they would do well to leave now while the Master let them live. To say that Tegan was skeptical of this would be an understatement. The cleric indicated a “video screen” of sorts in the alcove, which showed Clement, newly sporting black hair (?), rowing away on a raft into the underground sea after Eurypylus and his stunted son Unisolv. The figure of Clement looked radiantly happy, except when he growled at the “camera,” motioning for the party to leave him in peace. Eventually, we grew tired of these feeble attempts at deception, and battle was joined. The cleric’s body slumped into the alcove, lifeless.
  • The party pushed into the alcove. Juno volunteered to examine the back wall for a secret entrance. He reached for the stone wall, and stumbled—there was nothing there! As he fell, he touched the true, jagged edge of the opening, which was coated with a sticky substance. Juno began to wheeze and gasp – growing lightheaded … He soon had the bright idea to throw himself into the pool, where his breathing eased. Cruel fate: Eurypylus had coated the entrance with his magical mucus, and then cloaked it with an illusion. Juno would be unable to breathe air for the next three hours.
  • Taking deep “breaths” of water, Juno volunteered to clean the aboleth’s mucus from the entrance so that the whole party (except him; he’d charge later) could enter. We ran into the next room, only to find ourselves facing a small army: the two aboleths, ten or so duergar of various classes, kuo-toas, and skum. Floating on a raft near little Unisolv was Brother Clement, raving. His hair indeed had turned black (a side effect of the ordeal?) He kept screaming, “I will never worship you!”
  • The party used their spells to great effect. The wall of fire scroll neutralized many of the skum, and Marielle’s potent magic disrupted the foes. Juno ran into the water and began sparring with kuo-toa, as did Brother Samuel who was shaking with rage at his twin’s condition. Tegan and Billy were taking small evildoers down in record time.
  • Unisolv and Eurypylus kept trying to enslave the party psionically, but every attempt failed (good fortune indeed.) Eventually, Unisolv decided to be vengeful and to transform Clement using his tentacles. As the maddened cleric struggled, he pulled him into his mucus cloud, rendering his lungs as useless as Juno’s. As the battle continued, Unisolv became enraged and charged Juno! “NOOOOOO!” came his father’s bellow, but it was too late: Juno, Marielle and Tegan dispatched the little aboleth in one round.
  • Eurypylus became enraged beyond all reason and made a fatal mistake. He attacked the helpless Clement with all his might, doing 50 hp of damage in one round. But the party turned their fury on the aboleth, slaying him. Suddenly, poof! The mind flayer Ishmael appeared, armed with a wand of magic missile to help with the clean up of minions. Samuel ignored the duergar soldiers and rushed to his twin, casting the remove disease spell in time to prevent his hideous transformation from taking effect permanently.
  • After the battle, Ishmael sarcastically thanked the party for their service to him, and asked for his share of the treasure. “After all,” he sneered. “You wouldn’t be here without me.” Tegan raged against him, but was outvoted. Juno Nim stepped forward and made a bargain with their foe: the exotic wood tray they’d taken from the Serpent Clan for a safe plane shift back to Trevethian Island. [Pelor would later reveal to Samuel in a dream that this tray was crafted of cottonwood from the heavenly plane of Bytopia, the only one of its kind in the world, and was destined to play a role in one of Ishmael/Queequeg/Dendritius’ future swindles.]
  • The party found themselves on the shore of Trevethian Island, happy to be home. Ishmael was gone, and Clement was returned to them, if somewhat the worse for wear. Tegan took charge of healing their wounds, and the materialistic Marielle began to gleefully count up the plunder of their many adventures.
  • Brother Samuel, after returning “Peri” the Mace and the other items we’d given him, began his voyage back to the quiet vicarage near Brandon’s Bridge, intensely grateful to Pelor both for his twin’s deliverance and for the fact that his involvement in Clement’s dangerous choice of career was over … for now. He looked forward to writing his sermon for Sunday and then having a bit of a nap.
  • Each of Les Cinq returned to his or her noble duties. After a few days of intense prayer and fasting, Clement recovered his wits, although Billy occasionally awakened at night (he was a light sleeper) to find the clergyman pacing the halls of Castle Trevethian. The bard found that a few belts of whiskey and a sympathetic ear generally sufficed to soothe him.
  • Tegan found herself distracted, consumed with thoughts of revenge. The very thought of this vile mind flayer toying with the lives of her friends was an affront. Someday, she swore, she would cleanse the Underdark of this diabolical deceiver. Marielle and Juno listened sympathetically to her ravings, and said little … but each was a person of action, and each was quietly doing research (magical, and tactical, respectively) to prepare themselves for the day when Les Cinq would make Tegan’s revenge a reality.

<fin>

Whew! And that’s the adventure! Now on to … Kursk’s Tomb? Or directly on to the curious tale of Marielle’s mother?? Time will tell.

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Splish-Splash!
Sometimes adventurers need a bath.
  • The party took water breathing spells, and cast light on a pair of coins. They walked into the surprisingly deep pool toward a section that featured turbulent, churning water. They discovered that the huge pipe had magically animated working parts that, unfortunately, meant each person had to enter the pipe alone, lest they get chopped by the massive metal plates. We tried to wedge it open with the ten-foot pole, but only managed to bust the pole … so we steeled ourselves for jumping in one by one. When the party did so, each screamed in surprise at the speed and violence of the flowing water.
  • One at the time, our heroes were thrown violently against a huge metal screen, no doubt intended to keep leaves and other debris out of the Underdark’s drinking water. They heard voices further down the pipe, about thirty feet away. Tegan cut two holes in the screen so that they could pass through by the large one, but tie a rope to the small one. This allowed the party to enter the next room simultaneously….
  • ...which was a damn good thing. The pump room was populated by five burly orog guards and twenty-five slaves of various races, shackled to a sort of rowing machine. It also featured a control panel with an alarm button, and what seemed to be a surveillance device in the shape of a dragon. The party killed the orogs before they could press the alarm button, but one orog screamed out a magic phrase which activated the dragon-camera. It transformed into a real adult black dragon, which we slayed, but not easily: Brother Samuel was temporarily in the “bleeding out” stage before death, and Billy almost shuffled off this mortal coil – the dice were kind.
  • We bargained with the slaves to stay hidden. One of the slaves,Gervais, who had been calling out helpful (if annoying) advice, turned out to be a cleric of Yahweh and companion of Mandelbaum; Smeerduk had sold him into slavery. We armed the slaves with the orogs’ weapons and turned a blind eye when they shackled certain criminals among them, so the criminals wouldn’t turn the slaves in to the authorities. We never discovered whether the slave uprising was successful and whether they escaped. Perhaps this will one day be revealed.
  • Billy turned the party invisible (sadly, we’d already used the invisibility sphere spell) and Samuel cast silence. We snuck down the hallways employing darkvision, narrowly avoiding a band of duergar soldiers. Just before we were about to pass by the tavern where the spellcasters congregated, we heard a windy voice saying “Cool it!”
  • This turned out to be a genie who had been kept captive by an evil wizard. He had many magic items, including a ring of detect thoughts and a ring of whispering winds; these two rings allowed us to communicate. Miserable in his servitude and thrilled to “stick it to the man” where he could, he put the guards to sleep in exchange for a bribe. We were able to cross into the aboleth’s domain without incident.

Next time: Eurypylus is not fond of visitors.

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River's Not the Same
Heraclitus, Xul-Jarak, and Ass-Kicking.

( See http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/heraclitus107157.html )

Just-Call-Me Billy stirred in his sleep. Marielle sipped her coffee and gave him a sidelong glance. “Good Lord, Tegan, how can he sleep like that? I have trouble just sleeping in this creepy dungeon at all.”

Brother Samuel chimed in. “I believe, Lady Marielle, this is a skill many bards cultivate. Theirs is a life of touring: strange beds, strange cities, noisy taverns.”

And now to bullet points.

  • We found (after hearing some suspicious squeaking) a bunch of rodents in cages. After Tegan spoke to them, she learned that they were the stored foodstuffs of the snakey folk; the “pantry.”
  • On the first level of the dungeon, we discovered the one surviving yuan-ti, guarding a room with some giant soldier ants. Piece of cake! After the battle began, though, the doors burst open and we were attacked by two huge dinosaurs. After winning, we discovered that this room included another huge cache of treasure belonging to the Serpent Clan.
  • On the second level of the dungeon, we found that the Serpent Clan’s “trapping area” – where they had spread bread and cheese to attract rodents.
  • On the third level, we discovered some scaffolding and deduced that the Serpents were trying to remove the gold inlays from a mosaic on the ceiling. When there was a big crash, we discovered an invisible intruder: a dwarf rogue named Rikno Firepacer. It turned out that his (possibly bitchy?) sorceress wife had turned him invisible and then refused to come along on this caper. We made peace with him, and he agreed to travel with us to the pool in exchange for a share of the treasure. Also, randomly, a letter from Ishmael/Queequeg dropped in from the sky, warning us about bodaks (see below.)
  • Still on this level, we managed to bypass an arcane locked door which we hadn’t explored during our original adventure in Xul-Jarak. We found the tomb of Kursk One-Tusk, a famous orc king, and those of his many wives. Defeating some traps, we took all the wives’ jewels, and drained the weird black liquid out of Kursk’s sarcophagus, only to find … that Kursk’s remains and treasure were not there. Indeed, the bottom of this false sarcophagus was a huge map, showing where Kursk’s true tomb lies, several miles away. [Future adventure alert.]
  • On the fourth level, we discovered a dead yuan-ti in what would have been Thrull’s private chambers. This yuan-ti had clearly failed to open a trapped chest. Juno succeeded, providing us with some star sapphires and random magic.
  • We continued toward the pool, but were accosted by a bodak (an undead creature with a death gaze attack!) and a group of spell-stitched wights. These wights had glowing spell tattoos which allowed them to cast magic missiles, fireballs, and other spells. After a difficult fight, we found their lair which had some treasure in it including an ioun stone and an eversmoking bottle (!) Since we could see the pool in the distance, Rikno took his share of the treasure and left us.
  • At the pool, Ishmael appeared, full of obnoxious taunts and trash-talking as usual. He bartered with us for magic we needed, being sure to charge us double the going rate since he knew we had no other options. He also used an enchanted pearl to restore everyone’s spells. We stared into the pool, wondering what awaited us underground…

Next time: Aqua-Men! (and Aqua-Women.)

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The Serpent Clan
"Forked tongues only! Humans not welcome." (Recap #3 of 3)
  • The doors to Xul-Jarak turned out to be guarded by six snaky dudes: yuan-ti, to be precise. The yuan-ti were defeated, but the party suffered under two significant sorcerous attacks: Marielle failed her save on a suggestion spell and therefore spent hours unable to stop combing her hair, and Juno Nim was polymorphed into a guinea pig. After killing the yuan-ti, the party fled to the woods. After Marielle recovered her wits, she transformed him back.
  • The party snuck into Xul-Jarak, where they found a band of yuan-ti and medusae, headed by a half-fiend medusa named Ophidius. Hiding their eyes, they charged the evildoers … with one of Marielle’s fireballs helping to clear the footsoldiers. In the middle of the battle, a 20-foot bronze serpent came up from the ground and attacked the party. Thanks to Tegan’s serious sword skills, the party prevailed, however, one yuan-ti escaped, running down into the dungeon.
  • The party searched the whole upper level and unearthed a jaw-dropping pile of treasure, including magic items, a Faberge egg, and a strange carved tray with an exotic wood-grain. Even Tegan couldn’t identify the tree which had produced it.
  • We made camp inside one of the rooms upstairs.

Next time: Didn’t we already kill all the monsters in this stupid dungeon?

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Preparation
Shopping, trudging through the Thar, and a mysterious duo.

In this episode…

  • We bought supplies, including scrolls of water breathing, darkvision, and owl’s wisdom (to resist mind control.)
  • Ishmael teleported us to the Thar, near the ancient orcish citadel of Xul-Jarak. He had briefed us last time that there was a pool in the deepest level of the castle from which the Underdark pumped its water supply—we could sneak into the Underdark through the pipe.
  • On the road we met two travelers. One was – gasp! – the mysterious hunky stranger Ishmael had claimed would one day propose to Marielle! The polite young man introduced himself as Ruggiero. He is the son of two paladins, his father being the much-mentioned Mandelbaum, paladin of Yahweh, and his mother being Varshalla, paladin of Hieronious. The mysterious little girl he traveled with turned out to be a gold dragon in human form and a friend of his mother’s. She was escorting the lad to the Monastery of Jade Harmony, where he was to undergo further training as a monk.
  • When we arrived at Xul-Jarak, we discovered it was surrounded by many statues who had clearly been denizens of the Thar. The statues bore signs warning us to stay away from Xul-Jarak, which was the new headquarters of “The Serpent Clan.” Could this have anything to do with the medusa we’d met earlier? Undaunted, we prepared for battle and approached the citadel, scene of our former triumphs….

Next log: A mess of snakiness.

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Come Into My Parlor...
... said "T.H.E." devil to the fly.

Full disclosure. I’m busy with RealLife™ these days, and I’ll probably never do the full sci-fi fantasy writer treatment on an adventure that I’m both DMing and writing. Maybe when DMTegan ascends to deity status, I’ll serve as court scribe to her intriguing original adventure. But for now, it’s bullet points through to the end of our Clement adventure.

  • Kalman confessed that he had had been visited by a devil, T.H.E. Devil, to be precise (Tiberius Hortensius Erasmus.) This devil convinced him that he, Kalman, had sold his soul to the devil in infancy, and was therefore compelled to be his minion. The story didn’t hold up under scrutiny—poor dumb little Kalman was duped by this ludicrous lie, and certainly still had his soul. He confessed further that he had spied on the party for T.H.E. Devil unwillingly … but had been painting the octagonal symbol all over town hoping the party would investigate it, learn about T.H.E. devil’s nefarious plot, and defeat him, thereby freeing Kalman from satanic servitude.
  • The party met with T.H.E. Devil, who assumed many forms, including Clement, Branwen, the rogue who brought Juno into “the biz”, Dazzle (Billy’s bard mentor), and a mysterious raven-haired hunk whom he claimed was destined to marry Marielle. Finally he revealed “his true name,” Ishmael, and the identity under which they knew him: Queequeg the Monk. Oh yes. Queequeg is the Big Bad.
  • Further, Ishmael/Queequeg revealed that everything that has occurred thus far in this adventure is a charade that he orchestrated. The alleged Helm of Sunrise, as they’d discovered, was NOT an earth-shatteringly potent artifact, but a nice little magic item that worth about 18000 gp. He planted it with the late paladin Mandelbaum, then deceived Smeerduk and his followers into taking it and sent them on a fruitless mission of conquest in Glister.
  • Why? Because Ishmael/Queequeg was allied with the drow. In the Underdark, there are three great civilizations: the drow and their allies, the duergar and their allies, and the orogs (whom no one likes.) Ishmael isn’t a drow, but wouldn’t reveal more about himself, other than the fact that he had diplomatic duties and had in the course of them come to DESPISE the three brothers Thrull, Smeerduk, and Dramuel … so getting them killed was the bonus.
  • He’d advanced the cause of the Drow Alliance by getting these orog nobility killed (thanks, party!), but his true target was a heavy hitter in the duergar faction: an aboleth named Eurypylus. Eurypylus, like all aboleths, was a potent foe. Aboleths are intelligent and cruel aquatic monsters who have many scary psionic abilities. They also have the ability to transform victims, giving them slimy skin so that they cannot leave the water for the rest of their lives. Further, they are surrounded by a mucus cloud which, if touched, can temporarily make land-dwellers unable to breathe air.
  • How to get the party down to the subterranean sea where Eurypylus lived? Why, to kidnap Clement, which was the TRUE purpose of the last several chapters. Using plane shift while in the illusory guise of a genie, Ishmael had taken Clement to the Nine Hells, where he was being imprisoned and tortured. Clement’s foot had already been severed, for fun. He promised to drop him with Euryplus about an hour before the party arrives. He has prepared Eurypylus by plying him with lies about this ersatz Helm (remember the inept duergar wizard? He worked for Eurypylus.) Therefore, Eurypylus will spend that hour trying to make sense of the contents of Clement’s shattered, psychotic mind to gain information about this Helm. The clock will be ticking.
  • Ishmael gave the party a full mission briefing (see later logs) and vanished. The party went to the Temple of Pelor, where Archbishop Olmert helped them outfit Br. Samuel for battle (an inexperienced cleric is better than none!) and performed some divinations about Ishmael. His true name (can you believe he lied?) is Dendritius, and he is a powerful mind flayer – head of a band of them who live with the drow.
  • More next log!
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