Ronic's Registry

From realm
Revision as of 21:08, 10 October 2016 by Cmatney (Talk | contribs) (Pushed from realm.)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Return to Tegel Manor

Entry 1: October 29, 888

It was a bright and clear day ... or was it? I can't remember. I spent today in the White Horsed Sleigh pounding back their latest and greatest brew - a drink that spent about as much time brewing in my belly as it did in the kettle. I did manage to make some interesting friends who, like me, found good reason to drink the day away. My ability to count the hours and the ales had long since passed when other things began to brew.

Something bad was happening outside, not for the first time, and I'm guessing, not for the last.

The long overdue caravan was approaching Tegel Village, and approaching it was a not-so-long overdue orcish raiding party. What led me to waste most of the day drinking is a long story for another time, but at least the day wasn't going to be a total waste.

I ran out the door with the friends I met at the inn. Actually, Thistledown flew out the door. Thistledown is small, she can fly, and she keeps fretting about a fairy queen and the nightly parties in the forest that are no more. Note to self: be sure to check out the forest.

Hune Grimhaft, human fighter (sic), was quick to join the fray. Normally I prefer more trustworthy companions, but not today. In this place under these conditions, he will be a handy person to have around. Also handy, but not in such a literal sense, are Avery McIlHenny and Evan. Besides enjoying slaying orcs as much as I do, they are skilled in the magical arts. As glorious as it may be to slice an orc in half, sometimes it's smarter to pull out a pouch of winterweed, sit back, and enjoy the fireworks.

And then there's Rukhs, a mean looking ogre, who'd rather read than fight. Not a very valuable companion as a librarian, but much needed muscle when he gets in the proper mood. His intelligence will also be of great help as long as he isn't thinking while the rest of us are getting killed. Unlike other ogres, I trust him to do what's right. Perhaps I've had one too many.

The caravan rushed into the town center as we were exiting the pub. It was comprised of three wagons each pulled by two horses, and a mounted guard leading two unmanned horses. The orcs were close behind, grunting, throwing spears, and grunting some more. Unnoticed by the town guard who were attempting to protect the caravan, one orc split off to the west side of town and about a half dozen others headed east. Hune, adolescent among boys, volunteered to go it alone and take care of the orc heading west. Hune later reported to us that he saw Doak Hillman question the orc before slaying the creature. Hune also heard the orc mention the name Salmon Sterndale. Hillman is a merchant and supplier to the Manor. Sterndale is the grocer. We need to find out what they are up to.

Thistledown, Evan, Avery, and myself headed toward the other group of orcs with Rukhs pulling up the rear. I shot one orc with an arrow and the arrow hit its mark. The orc crumpled to the ground grasping its newly inserted appendage. Evan shot a projectile out of his finger and blasted another orc. When asked if it hurt to shoot things out of his fingers, Evan replied, "Not ME." Thistledown entangled the other orcs in grass and vines to keep them from attacking us or burning any buildings. Sprites can be very clever.

Avery, spurned on by his hate for all things unnatural, ran headlong at the orcs. In retrospect, leading with his sword may have been a better choice. He fell to the ground and Thistledown flew in to rescue (mock) him. Evan sent a ray of frost from his fingers and gave the orcs a brief taste of what their eventual fate would be. I killed a second orc, this time with my sword which met little resistance from the orc's thick hide. Rukhs showed up just in time to bash a running orc in the head. The orc kept running but the head did not. Thistledown shot the remaining orc and Hune returned in time to beat the orc into submission.

We noticed that the orcs bore the insignia of the Bloody Claw. Bloody with their own blood this time. The captured orc squealed with little prodding. He gave up the orcs' plans to regroup at the Mill. We quickly got Avery healed by Father Goodweather and tried to convince Hog Keeneye that we knew the orcs' plans. Unable to convince the foolish guard, Avery, Evan, Thistledown, Rukhs, Hune Grimhaft, and myself headed down to the Mill on what was turning out to be a dark and stormy night. We are a motley group if ever I've seen one.

We are now waiting near the Mill, unable to hear any sound or see any movement. However, the door appears to have been forced open. It's our move...

Entry 2: October 29, 888

As expected, the party encounters orcs at the mill. There are 3 orcs in the mill. They are quickly dispatched by Rukhs, Grim, and Thistledown in a frontal assault. On the upper floor of the mill, Avery and I encounter an angry but non-violent ghost. We believe he may have been killed by the mill owner, Burwright Grind, but it is still somewhat of a mystery as the ghost is unable to speak. We also find Evan's brother who works at the mill. He is bound and gagged in a room on the upper floor.

While the rest of us are searching the mill, Thistledown spots Doak Hillman and 13 orcs marching toward us. We ambush them at the bridge crossing the mill stream. Doak escapes but we manage to kill most of the orcs. Thistledown follows Doak and overhears him telling the remaining orcs to gather at the northern meeting point (later, we find out the location from a captured orc).

Evan and his brother are ambushed by stirges and killed. We manage to kill the stirges which use their long beaks to literally suck the life out of their victims. It turns out that Evan and brother are only "mostly" dead, so we take them to town to be healed.

We also find Grind tied up in the mill. Fortunately, the orcs have not significantly harmed him. We free him and search the rest of the mill. We find out that there is an Ankheg in the mill that Grind will pay to have killed. Meanwhile, Thistledown spots a strange man and woman and follows them into the woods. They emerge at a clearing with some barrows and descend into the tombs. Unidentified, non-corporeal entities swirl around the entrance. She returns with the news. We decide that it is a place we need to deal with at a later time.

Grind offers us 10gp/person to act as night guards at the mill for the next two weeks. We gladly agree. He then takes some money from Avery in a game of cards. Grind's card playing is very suspicious as the old rumors about him suggest.

Grim finds out that Doak wants him killed. In an attempt to turn the tables, he plants a bottle of stolen spirits in Doak's store and notifies the authorities.

More mayhem is certain to follow as the battle of Doak vs. Grim, "The Pillage in Tegel Village: Revenge for the Killage at the Millage", begins. And by the way, the dead happen to be walking the earth. It could be a good time to die.

Entry 3: October 30, 888

After a good night's sleep at the Mill, we went to the dawn service at the Chapel of the Hearth in town. The walking of the dead is about to begin. At the service, Captain Reem announced that the orcs had been repelled. He also announced that Doak Hillman and Hasnover were in jail for fighting over a bottle of wine. I wonder how that happened.

In a truly embarrassing moment, Grind got up and sang our praises for our deeds at the Mill. More importantly, Rukhs overheard some men talking about a meeting with Hillman. We weren't able to get any more details on who the men were or when and where the meeting is to take place.

While that was going on, Grim went on his own adventure to scout out Hillman's house. In a rushed search, he was able to find a black cloak and a dragon pendant which he promptly pilfered.

A little while later, Thistledown took an excursion to the barrows up north to scout the area. She found an underground chamber that contained about a dozen evil creatures concealed behind an animal skin covered door at the end of the main passage.

Later, Reem came to visit us at the mill. He did a quick inspection of the mill and thanked us for dealing with the orcs. He also invited us to a party in our honor in town this evening. His manner was somewhat suspicious. Is everyone involved in a conspiracy but us?

Next, the entire party went to investigate the barrows. We found a second entrance that was merely a cage for 4 ghouls. They are so nasty that a mere touch can paralyze a strong fighter, however, we were able to take them down fairly quickly. You would expect evil creatures to have gathered significant treasure from their victims, but no such luck this time.

Grim and Avery went into the main underground passage that Thistledown had found earlier. It did not take them long to be ambushed by orcs. The rest of the party rushed in only to find an abomination of a creature resembling a flesh golem coming back at us. A second such creature and a human figure were spotted in the rear view as we quickly retreated.

Back in town, Avery had a brief encounter with Fawn Axeworthy. She was extremely interested in our encounter with the orcs and she mentioned an orc with one ear. Who knows what she's up to? Grim walked by the jail and had a brief stare down with Hillman through a barred window. Hillman acted strange, as if he didn't recognize Grim. Could we be dealing with a doppleganger or some sort of mind control?

We made a quick stop at the pub only to be disrupted by the hysterical arrival of Runic Rump. He was messing with an artifact that started raising undead creatures in the cemetery. It had left the Sweetvines trapped in the temple. We went to the graveyard to find that his story was true. There was a 30 foot pit crawling with undead. Thistledown entangled some of them while we fought the rest. There seemed to be an endless stream of them, so Thistledown searched the pit and found a magical talisman with a musical clue that should unlock its powers. We may end up having infinite battle practice unless we can disable the device. On that note, ...

Entry 4: October 30, 888

"BACA" shouted the wise and powerful Thistledown. The undead followed her. A second "BACA" rang out and the undead fell. Thistledown saved the party once again.

Crazy Cogsworth was left with a lot of work to return the cemetery to its previous state. Our job here was done. We located the Sweetvines in the White Chapel and also met an unusual individual named Gillian Goldtooth. He's a magical gnome who goes by the moniker "Fireknickers" (I'm not sure why he hasn't gone to one of the clerics in town to get that condition checked out). In the White Chapel, we got a good look at a puzzle of a conundrum wrapped inside an enigma. It's a non-corporeal box floating in the air surrounded by a spiral of random letters carved into the walls. Where is the great sorcerer and riddle solver Hylax T. Barker when you need him?

Winton Sweetvines took Avery back to his shop for a taste of wine. Thistledown decided to go in secretly and search around. Bad idea. Thistledown became locked in the shop with angry, phasing, displaced, invisibility-seeing, guard dog-beasts nipping at her boots while Sweetvines went to get the town guard. She managed to slip out when Reem came to investigate. The ordeal was not for naught as a hidden room with a secret rear entrance was discovered. In addition, a puzzle was found next to the door that supposedly unlocks it.

Shortly after that incident, we went to the party being held in our honor (not for the last time, I'm sure) and were able to overhear a number of interesting tidbits:

  • Sterndale wanted Reem to help Hillman, but Reem refused
  • One of the Hillman children said that there is a dwarven blue stone on the caravan
  • There's a rumor about an attempt to rob the caravan
  • Sterndale told Philo Plump that he will meet him later
  • We tracked Mayor Hobb to the jail where he tried without success to get Hillman released. Hobb then went to Hillman's house to try to find the robe and dragon pendant that Grim stole earlier. Sorry Hobb.

We suspected that the mysterious meeting we've heard about was going to take place at Sweetvines' shop. Sure enough as we staked out the shop we saw cloaked figures entering through the secret back entrance of the shop. Thistledown tried to sneak in, but to her surprise the guard dogs were still in the shop and still able to detect her. Grim bravely attempted to enter the house in his newly acquired (from Hillman) disguise, but he used the incorrect knock at the door and was immediately recognized as an intruder.

Grim, shocked to learn that the phase dogs could phase, was immediately outnumbered and retreated. In a heroic move, Thistledown flew downstairs and saw two cloaked people in the basement with a dragon statue that had smoke coming out its nose. I'm sure this would have brought on a college flashback if fairies went to college.

I lured the town guard to the shop assuming that the jig was up and that we were in survival mode. One dog was killed (by Grim I believe), during a fierce battle in the woods behind the shop. Fireknickers set a flaming poo prank in front of the shop and a spell of dancing lights was cast behind the shop. This conveniently aided in the deception that the shop was burning down and managed to bring in most of the towns folk. Flaming poo to the rescue.

Reem posted a guard at the front and back of the shop insuring that the planned secret meeting had officially been foiled. Unfortunately, we still don't know the reason for the meeting, the function of the dragon statue, or who is involved apart from Sweetvines, Hillman, Sterndale, Plump, and Hobbs. We did catch a quick glimpse of Dirk Dashing in a cloak, so count him in as well. Hopefully it's more than just a winterweed smoking club. It would be nice to be involved in ferreting out an evil plot as opposed to simply annoying the town elders. Even if we discover an evil plot, it's unclear who we can trust, although Captain Reem now seems like he is not involved.

Later that night Avery and I staked out the caravan to make sure it was safe. The guards did not seem vigilant. While Avery was resting, he had a dream about a 10' tall, mummified, winged, lizard-like creature inside a crystal resting on a pedestal in a decaying room. Strangest dream I've ever heard of. Well, there was that one dream where I was standing on top of a pyramid in flowing, gold robes and a group of scantily clad maidens were throwing bananas up at me, but that's not important right now.

Could the dream have been caused by magic? It appears so as we later learned that Ruhks had the same dream. In the meantime down at the mill, one of the mischievous kids from town, Jason Hashsome, tried to recruit help robbing the caravan. We wisely avoided that trap and notified Reem of the trouble so he could take care of it.

The bad guys survived the day. However, the sun is about to rise on a new day.

Entry 5: November 1, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

I'm leaving this journal at the Tegel mill in the hopes that someone will read it and attempt to rescue us should we not return soon. If no one comes to our rescue, then this may be the last entry and historical record of our brief but action-packed adventures in Tegel Village and its surroundings. Let me describe the events that happened earlier today before I explain the dire situation in which we now find ourselves.

Thistledown urged us to put on hold our quest to find out what the town elders are brewing and attempt to rescue her queen, Queen Phoebe of the Eldritch Woods. We traveled out of town. Upon entering the woods we noticed that something was amiss. The plants were covered in a black substance resembling ash. I detected a group of trees radiating evil near the hill where the Queen supposedly resides. A sickness affected some of the members of the party and Thistledown was completely overcome by the enchantment.

As we approached the hill, a shambling, plant-like beast appeared from the base of one of the trees and attacked. It quickly enveloped Avery and he rapidly disappeared within its leafy appendages. Rukhs, thinking fast, screamed, "It's not real", and ran head long into a tree. It was real.

The party attacked the shambling beast with Evan summoning forth a blazing ball of poo-free fire. Blood and leaves flew. The beast eventually retreated into a tree regurgitating Avery before disappearing. Thistledown had also disappeared, and additional menacing shrubs were seen approaching at high speed. This is where things started to get weird.

Avery, freshly ejected from his personal salad spinner, began swinging his blade at the evil tree and called for the rest of the party to join him. I quickly calculated the rate at which impending death was approaching, divided it by the rate of chopping, applied L'Hospital's rule, and recommended that the party retreat. We were able to escape and find Thistledown buzzing around in a daze. Thistledown told us that the Queen was under the hill although she had no idea how to enter the hill. We returned to town temporarily defeated and added 'Polymorph into Woodchuck' and 'Polymorph into Gopher' scrolls to the list of magic items we need to find.

In town, we watched the caravan unload. We also saw the somewhat dazed, somewhat pissed off, and somewhat pissed on Doak Hillman being released from jail. Hasnover chatted with him though we did not hear the conversation. Doak probably wanted to find out what he missed at the previous night's meeting. :) I don't recall where, but we learned that the oft dreamed about winged lizard existed in the first age and was evil in nature. File that away.

The Dwarven Stone from the caravan was auctioned off and Runic Rump won the bid. It turns out the stone is a cornerstone and is carved with a picture of a grinning skull on a pick. It's burned on one side and is not magical. We spoke with Runic in private and he offered to give us the stone in return for removing the curse on his family within one year (Nov 1, 889). Oh, and we promised him 20% of the treasure we find in the manor, or was it 40%. I can't remember. It doesn't matter, 40% of nothing leaves nothing.

We learned that the Rump curse began 100 years ago when Rehiam the Remorseless, Runic's great-great grandmother, was killed at a party for reasons believed to be associated with a family feud. Nothing surprising there. However, we found out that Rehiam was a seer and possessed a crystal ball somewhere within the manor. In addition, after carefully examining the Dwarven stone, we found ancient dwarven ruins that translate into, "Within lies the Lorekeeper". The Lorekeeper is known to be a powerful Dwarven figure.

Things were looking good at this point. Find the crystal ball, locate and release the Lorekeeper, help him slay the winged lizard removing the curse. Or capture the Lorekeeper and place him back in his tomb sealing it with the dwarven cornerstone while stealing his axe to kill the winged lizard. Or something like that. What could be easier? Then things went downhill.

Grim snuck away and Thistledown followed him. We later tracked them to the Monastery of St. Cadel outside of town. It's rumored to be home to lizard-like, clerics of great power. We found Thistledown dead outside the monastery. She looked like she had been zapped by the predictable invisible glyph that typically surrounds monasteries full of lizard creatures. It's always so obvious in retrospect.

The tracks on the ground indicated that Grim bravely fought off the creatures in an attempt to save Thistledown, but was eventually captured. We retreated to town and were able to revive Thistledown at the expense of a future item for Sweetvines. Once again, no biggie. So now we must attempt to rescue Grim from a clearly superior foe at the monastery. At least we can't be slaughtered by them because we can't even enter the monastery without getting zapped.

We've got them right where we want them... Help!

Entry 6: November 2, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

I'll be brief today since the details of the rescue of Hune Grimhaft are already common knowledge. Realizing that big, bad lizard-clerics were a little tough for what remained of our party, we requested help in town and received it in the form of Capt. Reem and Deacon Linus Holysword (on recommendation from Father Goodweather). Holysword is a good fighter, but a few cards short of a full deck if you know what I mean. The lizard men had temporarily abandoned the Monastery of St. Cadel and had thrown Grim to the spiders in the bell tower. We were able to rescue him without becoming spider meat in the process thanks to Ruhks' size, strength, and fearlessness. Contrary to popular reports, Earl the Chicken did not kill all of the lizard men. We were able to search the previously torched brewery and a library netting a magical potion, a magical book, and some mundane books.

Reem was about to label us liars for telling him stories about lizard creatures when they returned. The lizard group was invisibly shielded as they approached but became visible once the leader put his staff in the fountain in the center of the courtyard, presumably reactivating the defensive glyph at the same time. There were approximately a dozen lizard creatures in all. After seeing that we were telling the truth, I believe Reem has even greater respect for us now.

I went back to town with Reem and spotted Fawn Axeworthy heading out of town. I followed her as she headed toward the barrows. Unfortunately, my big feet gave my position away. Soon after, she went to the Mill to have dinner with Avery and discuss the orcs. Knowing she was spotted earlier in the woods, she made up a lie about her reason for being there. She's up to something. I want to know what.

We slept for the night after a long day. The next morning (this morning), we woke early and journeyed to the Bluestone Dwarven ruins, Ruhks' archeological site. The place was crawling with orcs. We managed to lessen the infestation a bit by luring a group of them away from the ruins and killing them. One weak orc surrendered and gave up a description of the ruins. As promised, we let him go. The main underground chamber is populated with dozens of orcs, orc dogs, and bats.

We have much to learn about the townspeople (in particular Doak and Fawn). The caravan is departing today. The lizard creatures are up to no good. The barrows are full of badness. The fairy queen is in trouble. Puzzles have gone unsolved. The anhkeg is eating. Earl the Chicken is roasting on the bar-b. And the Manor awaits. Everyone and everything else, well, we know they're trouble too. So where to start? Maybe some orc blood would kick things off nicely.

Entry 7: November 2, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

After interrogating the last member of the orc patrol, we returned to the orcish camp at the dwarven ruins, this time circling around to the northernmost building. Avery and Grim took over the recon duties since Thistledown was flying back to us having tracked the orc whose life we spared in exchange for information. They picked an inopportune time to take on recon duty. Three female ghosts popped out of the walls of the ruined building. It was clear we had unwittingly wandered into the business end of some long-standing revenge. They were particularly enraged at the dwarf. Given the ruins were dwarven, that may not have been coincidence (bad, bad dwarves). Avery tried to turn the ghosts but they were impossible to turn. We switched to the hack and slice approach. It's less satisfying hacking through ghost than orc, but the big 'poof' at the end is good.

I was able to control one ghost with the BACA coin and still fight, although the magic left me feeling unclean (more than normal). Grim and Evan fled from the scary ghosts at the same time Thistledown came flying in to save the party, spraying the ghosts with holy water. Rukhs sent the last ghost back to purgatory with a mighty blow.

After the frightened ones returned, we headed southwest to the next building on the edge of the swamp. The west end of the building was covered with vines and two human legs stuck out from under the vines. There was gold scattered on the ground around the legs and Thistledown detected magic. The orcs must have at least seen the gold but decided to leave it there, very suspicious. Cue the dwarf. Avery did a quick dash-and-grab and was able to retrieve some of the gold. True to form, the vine monster animated and attacked. Avery was able to make it out unscathed. One orc spotted us from his perch in a nearby tree but Thistledown was able to quickly dispatch him with an arrow before he could cause any trouble. Knowing the danger, Avery's courage/greed took over and he decided to go back in for more treasure. Who are we to argue?

We tied a rope to Avery and flung him back toward the treasure and the vine monster in a maneuver now referred to as 'Dwarf on a Rope'. (I need to work on the name. If only I could come up with a word the starts with 'D' for dwarf and rhymes with rope.) The whirling, flying, spinning dwarf was actually able to grab more gold and a magic sword while Evan splashed the vines with acid. The vines grabbed Avery but we were able to pull him free and drag him back to safety. King U-Gene would be proud.

Everyone but Grim decided we had pressed our luck enough and that we should get back to the business of dealing with the orcs. We moved to the entrance leading underground at the center of the compound. A portcullis guarded the entry room of the underground chamber and two orc guards were spotted by Thistledown who was back to her normal recon duties. She noticed that the ceiling was covered with bats as well. Thinking quickly, Thistledown cast a spell of dancing lights inciting the bats into a frenzy and forcing the orcs out towards our awaiting party. The guards were quickly dealt with giving us free passage into the dungeon below. One orc that came to investigate the commotion saw us and fled down the west passage.

The entry room had 3 exits and ancient paintings on the walls of heroic dwarven scenes including a legendary dwarf Avery knew to be called Moradin. The eastern passage was blocked after a few feet and we could find no way through. To the south lay a large hall lined with red and white pillars and at the end stood a large dwarven statue that had been battered by intruders years ago. The hall had two additional exits. One door on the southeast was jammed shut and could not be moved. The door on the southwest of the hall was slightly ajar. In the next room were green and white streaked centipedes and a completely destroyed statue that once rested upon a black pedestal. We avoided that room temporarily and headed back up through the western passage exiting the first room we had entered.

The hallway turned south, then back east and quickly south again. In the middle of the hallway at the east-south corner stood a strange black pyramid. When Grim approached it to determine what it was, a spear shot out grazing Grim and we heard the mechanism reload. At the same time, we heard fighting further down the hallway. Dashing down the south hallway to avoid more spears being shot in that direction as well, we ran headlong into a pack of six gnolls (orc dogs). After a fierce battle, we were able to kill the gnolls but took some damage in the process.

We began to push forward in an attempt to catch up with whoever or whatever was ahead of us. Our advance didn't last long as Grim found a concealed door and opened it only to find more gnolls inside. We were able to defeat them as well and were once again prepared to track the unknown intruder. Once again we were delayed. This time Rukhs had found a hidden door back up the hallway. There was writing on the door that said, 'Within lies the Lorekeeper'. The ruins on the cornerstone that was purchased from the caravan by Runic Rump and given to us in exchange for our indentured servitude had the exact same phrase carved on it.

At this point the party was divided on whether to investigate the hidden room or continue our pursuit of the mystery creature. By examining the tracks, we were able to determine that the mystery creature was most likely a lizard man. Zikes! What would one of the lizard men be doing so far from its coven raiding an ancient dwarven city that is currently overrun with orcs? Since the party was divided on our next course of action, the party divided. Grim, Avery, and Rukhs went back to check out the newly discovered door while myself, Thistledown, and Evan followed the lizard tracks.

The tracks lead us through a secret passage to another large hall. The hall was empty except for a large rift across the middle of the floor and a rope on the opposite side of the rift from us. A trail of blood indicated that the lizard man made it across and our pursuit had temporarily been foiled. At the far end of the hall were several freshly dispatched orcs and a door leading out. Thistledown also found a chest just across the rift. Caution and our weakened state forced us to leave the chest and return to find the rest of the party. We met up with them at the Door O' the Lorekeeper. As I write this, Avery is describing a magical vision he has had. A vision that is sure to determine our future and no doubt cause endless amounts of trouble.

Entry 8: November 2, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Tegel Rap

Got my sword, got my armor
I ain't no boring farmer
I got strength, I cast spells
Beware all infidels
I got faith, full of power
I'm ready to devour
I am tall, I'm divine
The maidens wait in line

I should have been a bard. Back to where I left off with our adventures.

After numerous encounters at the dwarven ruins and discovering that the Lizard creatures are after something there (of course we have no idea what they're after), we decided to head back to town to recuperate and reload. In town, the caravan was being packed with various goods: crates of winterweed, goblets, letters, etc.

Hune disappeared for a while again. I don't what we're going to do about the Grimster. When he returned, he ordered pastries from the baker. I didn't hear what his plan was, but I'm going to be careful what I bite into. I convinced Thistledown to scout out Fawn Axeworthy's room above the butcher shop. The significant discovery from the recon mission was that Fawn possesses some very impressive magical dwarven plate and a glowing axe. Uncle Dugald must be paid well. Afterwards, Thistledown did a quick fly-by of the Barrows and saw a few ghouls and orcs but nothing that helps us figure out what's going on there.

Back at the mill, Avery solved the puzzle on the chest he's been lugging around and was able to extract the contents which included some potions and a scroll. He also provoked the ghost that we believe to be old man Grigglesby to attack him. I detected that the ghost was evil, so Rukhs and I killed it (temporarily) while several other party members searched a secret room attached to the ghost's room. They found no treasure and no obvious information.

We rested for the night. The next morning we decided to take on the ankheg that was eating all of Grind's grain. What's worse than an ankheg that spits poison and kills? No, not a triffid. The correct answer is two ankhegs that spit poison and kill. Actually, they spit acid. Fortunately we were able to defeat both of them while only taking minor splash damage. Grind paid us 300gp for the two. We collected the hides and acid glands to sell for profit in town. Thistledown tracked Grind during the action and saw him bury a chest outside the mill.

Cecil Canter, town poet, announced that a play was to be held in town at dusk in celebration of the departure of the caravan, the subject of which was the Green Dragon of Markinghamshire. We decided to go to the play. However, nothing is that simple with our group. Hune, with the help of Fireknickers, concocted a plan to steal the chest that Grind buried. The plan included inviting Grind to go with us to the play while Hune snuck back to the mill. In addition, the alchemist was lured to the mill in search of ankheg bits in an attempt to potentially divert attention from Hune should Grind discover the pilfered chest. Questionable activity, but we do need to learn more about Grind since he is clearly hiding something. Everything went off as planned. Hune was able to find the chest. Inside was a marked deck of cards and a ring that Avery believes may have belonged to old man Grigglesby. The ghost was searching for something, perhaps the ring will bring him peace.

While that was going on, I overheard Mayor Hobbs mentioning to McCallan Spadehigh that their next secret meeting will be in two weeks. So the known members of the mystery group now include Sweetvines, Hillman, Sterndale, Plump, Hobbs, and Spadehigh.

Instead of going to the play, I decided to scout the area for suspicious activity. On cue, suspicious activity occurred in the form of a large shambler rumbling towards town. It was clearly making a beeline toward the building where everyone was gathered. I mustered the party and some of the town guard and we waited at a nearby hedge to ambush the beast as it entered town. We doused it with burning oil and hacked at it. The well coordinated effort quickly brought down the giant shrubbery. However, it's important to note that the flame appeared to do no damage to it. Could it be mere coincidence that a shambler wandered into town during the play? Not likely. Add it to the ever growing list of unsolved mysteries.

So we saved the town from the shambler and have become heroes once again. I'm sure the town will shower many more praises upon us in the future as they have for our deeds today. That's assuming we survive tomorrow.

Entry 9: November 3, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

No rhyme this time. We are in the middle of it, and lizards are on the way. It all started off fine. We followed the tracks back to baby shambler's lair which happened to be in a cave near the Boiling Brook. The cave is directly beneath the glowing green hut on the edge of the swamp. Inside the cave we encountered several giant centipedes and several not-so-giant goblins. We quickly dispatched the goblins up the middle path and the centipedes up the left path from the entry chamber. We ignored the right path to our future detriment.

There was a pool in the second chamber which Hune quickly dove into. Wanting to make sure my buddy was safe, I dove in after him. We swam through an underwater passage and surfaced in another chamber o' goblins. We quickly eliminated the goblin infestation and rescued Johan Salt, sailor/goblin slave boy. An alcove behind that room yielded a treasure chest that Hune picked and pilfered for himself. The rest of the party, having cleaned out the previous room, appeared through the pool.

All was well and good until we tried to go back out. Mommy shambler was waiting for us at the other end of the pool. A battle ensued and Rukhs quickly went down. I dragged Rukhs body back into the pool while the rest of the party fled out of the cave. With Thistledown doing recon and communicating to me in the back chamber via a hole in the ceiling, we were able to escape taking no more damage. Thistledown also discovered magical treasure in the Shambler's lair that we temporarily left behind.

We headed back to town without checking out the green hut. The townsfolk, impressed by our exploits, helped pay for Rukhs' resurrection. Hune headed off on his own to talk to Blackbark, the ranger who lives north of town. The party headed back to the mill for the night. Hune received a mysterious note at the mill that seemed to distress him. What is he up to?

The next day we went back to the dwarven ruins to check out the locked building that Hune had strongly advised us to avoid. Since he could offer no reason why we shouldn't enter the building and he has given us little reason to trust him, we decided to bash down the door. Out popped three lizard men. We killed them, but one shot up a flair using a magical spear. We expect more lizards to arrive soon. The door to the building is open and reveals stairs leading down. We are injured but potentially on the verge of an important discovery that will help explain the mystery into which we have entered. It's decision time.

Entry 10: November 5, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

We chose our path in the form of three lizard men bodies, dead and bleeding on the ground in front of the shack at the Blue Stone Dwarf ruins. No turning back now. Thistledown explored the entrance to the dungeon beneath the shack. The first room was large and oddly shaped with a pit instead of a floor. Rope bridges suspended above the pit and anchored to stalactites provided a path to two other exits from the room. Thistledown detected an evil creature hiding on the opposite side of the bridge preventing her from exploring the dungeon further.

We decided to frame the orcs for the deaths of the lizard men. Two targets were in view at entrance to the main section of ruins. Hune and Evan made quick work of them via a surprise ranged attack, but when we went to retrieve the bodies we were ambushed by a half dozen gnolls and a very large giant. A battle ensued. Evan took on the gnolls with his firey magic while the rest of the party engaged the giant. Avery was quickly knocked unconscious despite being a small target. When it began to look fairly grim, Rukhs landed a few critical blows to the giant's skull that saved the party from destruction.

We quickly retreated from the area under the assumption that more lizards were on their way. Thistledown stayed hidden near the site to see if they would indeed come. Sure enough, the head lizard cleric appeared and cast a spell that let him speak with one of the dead lizards. So much for our deception. At this point we'll have to settle for survival.

Back in town, Hune disappeared to "you know where" to do "you know what" with "you know who". Some of the rest of us signed up for apprenticeships that hopefully we will live long enough to fulfill. I signed up with the weaponsmith, Thistledown with Hedda the herbalist, Rukhs with the stone mason, Avery hooked up once more with Fawn the butcher, and Hune decided on a low paying job as a locksmith. Thistledown and Rukhs also warned Capt. Reem about the giant.

Later that night, Hune revealed one of his many mysteries. Apparently the lizard men wanted him to help them kill me. My sense is that Hune is telling the truth. What did I ever do to the lizards? Sure I've eaten boiled lizard brains in the past, but that doesn't explain why I'm their target. Well, they're my target as well. Unfortunately they're more powerful than I am. If only I had magic to fight them with. We need more information about them, and we need it quickly.

While sleeping at the mill, Rukhs and Thistledown both had a repeat of their strange dream about the mummified, winged lizard inside the crystal, but this time with a little added content. They saw flickering blue ruins saying, "Awaken the past with the blood of my people and you shall be justly rewarded." I don't know who "my people" are or what effect awaking the past will have, and I certainly don't believe the bit about a reward. We know the creature from the dream is evil, so we probably want to avoid/prevent awakening the past. Just a guess.

The following morning, Rukhs translated a passage he found in an old book recovered from the library at the dwarven ruins. The passage said, "During construction of the Great Hall of the Bluestone Dwarves, a cave full of arcane magic was discovered. Dwarves built temples near the river, becoming obsessed the death and afterlife and they dug deeper. At first a small seed, this constant brooding over death grew into a great dismal tree. - The Cult of the Lorekeeper"

We returned to town in time to see a very curious event. A black ghost carriage pulled by nightmares road in from Tegel Manor and stopped at the Inn of the Gruesome Goblin. A cloaked figure left the coach and went into the inn. A short time later, the figure fell out of a second floor window crashing to the ground. It then got up, got in the coach, and rode away. It was as if it was acting out a scene from the past. Thistledown examined the room from which the ghost fell, but found nothing out of the ordinary. However, casting a spell to detect magic, she found a magical key on the roof of the inn. We think the key unlocks the carriage house at Tegel Manor.

Thistledown and Rukhs went to a town meeting that Reem held to discuss the giant we encountered at the ruins. Reem decided to post guards at the ruins. Knowing that we still had much to explore there, we rushed back to the ruins ahead of the guard. We went back to the room with the chasm that we had tracked the lizard man to a couple days earlier. A wooden barrier had been erected in the hallway leading to the chasm room, blocking the hallway that extends past the passage to the chasm room. We temporarily left it in place and took the passage to the chasm room. Orc footprints were seen at the base of the barrier.

Inside the chasm room, Hune examined a statue of a demon in a nook near the entrance. Flames shot out of the floor injuring Hune and the statue cackled at Hune but did not animate beyond the laugh. It did begin to sink into the floor, but Hune was able to pry a sapphire eye out of its socket. Across the chasm we found 40 dead orc bodies in various states of decay. We also saw the chest that was in the room last time we were there. Thistledown solved a very complex puzzle on the chest allowing her to open it. Inside was a sheet of old papyrus upon which was written in the language of the Bluestone Dwarves:

Dark Hero, Death's Head, Sealed Forever in Ceaseless Mourning.
Captive and Kept From Service to Dwarves.
Lost to Dwarfdom is the Oracle Wise.

At the same time, Avery approached the dead orcs and they animated into an undead army. We're advancing into battle as I write this. I should stop writing and attack these evil abominations. "Arghhh!" I should stop now. (perhaps he was dictating)

Entry 11: November 5, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Where were we? Oh yes, we were in the rift room of the Bluestone Dwarven ruins with hoards of undead orcs attacking us. Exactly as it should be. I laid down my pen in time to see Avery banish half of the foul group back to hell. I attempted to follow in Avery's very large footsteps and dispelled nearly as many. The rest of the group fired missiles at the remaining orcs. Eight larger undead creatures from what used to be the rear of their ranks advanced upon us. At the same time, two carrion crawlers climbed up from the rift behind us. The old saying, "Caught between an undead orc and a carrion crawler" actually came to pass. Who would have guessed.

Evan, Rukhs, and myself laid some hurt on the orcs while Avery, Hune, and Thistledown took care of the carrion crawlers. We searched all of the newly dead and freshly-returned-to-dead creatures. A pouch of carrion crawler eggs was confiscated from one of the dead orcs. The eggs could be valuable, and besides, we wouldn't want to leave this place without taking some of the lovely stench along with us.

It turned out some of the undead orcs that had run away were trapped down the next hallway cowering in front of a locked door. Hune and I advanced to the front and smashed them to bits. I think the body count ended up even although I had the bigger splatter radius, not to brag or anything. Rukhs cleverly dumped the dead husks down the rift so we wouldn't leave a trail of carrion crawler food behind us. Thistledown flew down and scouted out the bottom of the rift being careful not to get hit by falling orc guts. She found rushing water at the bottom of the cavern. There was also a carved hallway branching off the underground river. The hallway led to a sealed door with evil lurking behind it. Wisely, Thistledown decided not to open the door on her own.

After clearing out everything that had been in our way, we spotted a couple lizard men moving down the next hallway. We followed and were lucky to find a secret door just past the first set of doors. We snuck in the back way and saw that two lizard men were awaiting our approach assuming we would come in through the front door. At their side was a nasty looking wolverine. We concocted a plan for Thistledown to use her powers of illusion to lure away the wolverine while everyone else surprised the lizards. Defying all of the odds, the plan went off without a hitch. Thistledown was not only able to lure the wolverine away, but she killed it by getting it to chase the illusion off the edge of the chasm. We surprised the two lizard men and quickly overwhelmed them. They were carrying gold and an electrum ring that was not magical.

The main hallway was empty thanks to our well executed plan. Half way down was a circular room that we had not yet explored. In the middle of the room we saw an empty basin perched upon dwarven skulls. At the back of the room, a curtain curved around an unknown object hidden behind it. The brave Hune Grimhaft peeked behind the curtain. We later learned that the curtain was shielding a black statue of a dwarven figure. The statue had yellow gems for eyes and radiated evil, probably a statue of the Lorekeeper. The reason we didn't learn about the statue until several minutes after the fact was that Hune could not move or speak after seeing the statue. Avery peeked at it and was paralyzed as well. Eventually he came around and was able to pry one of the yellow eye gems loose.

The rest of the party was not bored. Two more lizard men rushed by in an attempt to flee. It was wise of them to try to escape, however, they were unsuccessful. Rukhs and I each grappled one and the rest of the party bound them. Hune took one of the lizard men into the circular room to question him about its contents. The lizard man also went immobile when he saw the statue. The other one gave us some valuable information.

He said that the lizard men are searching for their Immortal King. The Immortal King was trapped inside the ruins ages ago. A prophecy told the lizard men that it is time for the Immortal King to move from dark to light. To make this prophecy more believable, the description matches the creature in the dreams that Rukhs and Avery have been having- a winged lizard trapped inside a crystal. Rukhs and Avery are most associated with these ruins. Rukhs has been doing research on the dwarven ruins and Avery is a dwarf. Somehow this evil creature is aware of them and is able to communicate with them on some level. Destroying it may be beyond our means unless we can find a special item that will aid us. At the very least, we need to stop the lizards from getting there first.

According to our captor, there are around thirty lizard men in the area. They have been fighting the orcs while looking for their king. They don't know what the orcs are doing here. They teleported from their home to the Monastery of St. Cadel using the staff that we saw about a week ago when we went to the monastery with Reem. The master lizard who carried the staff is named Gruk. He was last seen by our captor at the monastery. These creatures' home is a very distant land called the Forbidden Lands under the volcano Ssruthu.

A rope bridge led out of the main hallway opposite the circular room. We decided to head back and heal up before adventuring further. Before leaving the dungeon, we did check out the living quarters of the lizard men. In it was an exceptionally large bear. Rukhs, or as we like to call him, Lefty, patted the bear on its nose. We were able to kill the bear seconds before it killed Rukhs. In the room we found two chests protected by glyphs. Inside the chests were gold pieces and a much smaller, platinum box carved with dwarven runes. Avery translated the runes which read, "This box was crafted for Huran Hammersmith, dwarven king". Inside that box we discovered a pair of magical glass eyes. We took the treasure and left. Not to be out done by the bear challenge, Avery went back down a hallway we knew was trapped and dove head first into a pit to retrieve a couple of gold pieces. Dwarf On A Rope strikes again.

We finally headed back to town for some R&R. Today was a success. Tomorrow... who worries about tomorrow? I can't help but wonder what the evil was behind the door that Thistledown discovered at the bottom of the chasm. We never opened it.

Entry 12: November 5, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

"Beware of poison!" That was the message delivered by Hedda, the Alchemist to her new apprentice, Thistledown. All of the poisonous bloodroot plants had vanished. They had not vanished without a trace however. Thistledown was able to track large footprints from the place where they grew to the dwarven ruins. Don't lizard men have big feet?

On a more positive note, Rukhs, The Blind became Rukhs, The All-Seeing. In a less than tidy procedure that involved the ripping of eyes from their sockets, Rukhs inserted the magical eyes we found on the last adventure into his freshly evacuated eye sockets. Now he can see through any magical disguise. I think I spotted the discarded eyes in Avery's latest stew. For the record, ogre eyes taste like chicken. Now that I think about it, I hope those were eyeballs. Rukhs tested his new eyes by translating more of the book about the Lorekeeper. The book said that the dwarves sacrificed members of their clan to gain safe passage in death from the Lorekeeper and to gain immortality. It doesn't make sense to this humble Paladin that you would need safe passage in death if you are immortal. Maybe they died and received passage back to the world of the living or something.

I updated Reem on our current status and gave him the latest info on the lizard men. He said he would send a party to investigate the monastery. I don't trust many of the townsfolk, but Reem has been very helpful to our group. Back at the mill, Hune questioned our lizard captives but got no valuable information from them. We handed them over to Reem for safe keeping. We decided to head back to the ruins despite Avery's insistence that he needed a day off. We have accomplished a great deal in a short time. I am troubled by the fact that we still don't know what the orcs are doing or what some of the shady townsfolk are up to. Also, the lizard men are on our tails. In my opinion, sitting around will only give the bad guys an advantage.

Once we got to the ruins, we went down to the "door of no return", opened it, and sent the dwarf on a rope inside. Come on, what else would we do? It turns out the "door of no return" is just a door with a magical illusion cast on it (refer to paragraph two- Rukhs, The All-Seeing) An unnaturally dark hallway led to an unnaturally dark room. An inner room was delineated by curtain walls. On the walls of the outer room hung more curtains covering frescos on the walls. A censor burned in each corner of the inner room. Five figures knelt between eight benches apparently in prayer.

Rukhs was overwhelmed by the smoke from the censors and fell unconscious. While Hune was dousing the censors and Avery was dragging Rukhs away from the smoke, I investigated the figures in the room. All but one turned out to be long-dead dwarves. Their bodies crumbled when touched. The one non-dwarf was a wight that immediately attacked. I turned the wight, but unfortunately it scurried off in the direction of the rest of the party. As it raced by Evan, he gave it his mightiest wack (crit, max, max) and bloodied its ear. Fortunately, Avery is an expert at slaying undead and finished off the foul creature with ease.

Evan, re-thinking his hand-to-hand combat strategy, took to examining the wall art. He found a fresco of a dark-robed dwarven figure standing over dead bodies of different races. An inscription read, "Nothing escapes death." My conclusion ... Lorekeeper bad. To go into more detail, perhaps the decayed dwarves in this room escaped the wrath of the evil Lorekeeper who had arrived in this location and corrupted their brethren. The few escapees found this safe room in which to pray but were unable to leave it. They covered the evil wall art with curtains. Or more likely, they were merely evil dwarves praying fanatically to their evil deity and an interior decorator went over the top with the curtains. This all took place hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. The Orcs of the Bloody Claw may want to revive the Lorekeeper or find one of his evil relics. Perhaps they were unable to find the "door of no return" or did not have access to a dwarf-on-a-rope and were afraid to enter. Either way, this could be an important location. How do the lizard men enter into the picture? They are searching for their deity who coincidentally, or more likely not coincidently is trapped in these ruins.

The dwarven bodies we found each wore a skull pendant with turquoise eyes on a silver chain. The wight carried a key. The southern door out of the room was adorned with carved skulls. One of the skulls had glowing eyes and a keyhole. Hmmm, what to do. Actually, before inserting key in hole, we decided to investigate a concealed door that the All-Seeing one found. Hune dodged a spear trap in the door. At the end of the passageway behind the door stood an evil dwarven figure surrounded by six skeletons. The figures animated when we entered the area. We decided to do a coordinated, ranged assault. Evan sent a ball of fire down the hallway while Avery and I turned some of the skeletons. Then Evan followed up with a bolt of lighting destroying the remaining skeletons. However, the dwarf survived the blast and used his evil magic to reconstitute the skeletons. He also threw powder into the air which luckily had no effect on us.

He stopped when he noticed that Hune was wearing one of the skull pendants. He asked Hune if the "day of the dead" was at hand. We were able to get some interesting information from him. He believed the year was 1213. Since the current year is 888, he must be on a different calendar, possibly trapped here since the second age. He called himself "The Purveyor of Mortality". We struggled to find out more, and combat ensued when he realized we were not who he thought we were. I smashed him in the head and he fell. We grabbed his staff, chainmail, pendant, and powder. The hallway continued on, but we did not follow it. Instead we went back to the door with the skull lock.

When the key was turned, the skull hissed the following phrase: "Enter, join me in the bliss that is the Lorekeeper. Become one with the eternal. It is in the final end that fulfillment lies."

Behind the door was a trapped hallway leading to a large room with a statue of the Lorekeeper at the opposite end. Wind magically blew from the direction of the statue. The room had six doors, three in each side wall. Hune opened the first door and out rushed hoards of horrible, evil, putrid, crazed ... (to be continued)

Entry 13: November 5, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

As I left off writing my last journal entry, the party was about to be slaughtered by a mob of putrid, undead creatures... again. I won't keep you in suspense, we survived.

We were in the room with the Lorekeeper statue and a bunch of skeletons. Actually, that doesn't narrow it down much. More specifically, it was the room with the Lorekeeper O' Wind statue. Avery turned many of the skeletons and Evan conjured up some hungry dogs looking for bones to gnaw on. The rest of us took down the remaining creatures. In the side chambers we found chests containing gold, more skull pendants, an unidentified yellow potion, and some chain mail.

The room was a dead end, so we decided to reverse course and complete our search of the hallway beyond the secret door in the main room. Hune quickly located a small pit containing a rope ladder which turned out to be useful almost immediately. The hallway ended in an opening on the side of a cliff which was concealed by an illusion. Fortunately Rukhs, Master Seer of Stuff, was present so no one fell off the cliff. We used the ladder to climb down the cliff into a large cavern with a river running through the middle of it. In front of us was a bridge over the water, and under the bridge was Grastic. Grastic wanted to eat us.

Grastic is a giant gnome, which in itself is strange, but what made it even more strange was that Grastic thought he was a troll and we were billy goats. Fortunately we don't travel light. We travel with lemon tarts - at least Hune does. Grastic ate Hune's tarts and was appeased and we were able to cross the bridge taking only minor splash damage from the custard. I'm just glad Grastic liked food and not something like song and dance. It could have gotten really ugly. Thistledown used the tart distraction to pilfer some of Grastic's possessions which were hidden in a sack under the bridge. She took a number of gold pieces, 6 silver pieces (don't ask), a rusty key, and a moonstone gem. We later heard Grastic wailing about his missing 'precious' which I assume is the gem.

We spotted a passage in the opposite wall of the cavern guarded by a green dragon illusion. Once again, not so tricky with the Magnificently-Eyeballed-One nearby. There were stairs leading up. A gate at the top of the stairs blocked our way and beyond the gate black drapes hung from the ceiling. When we forced open the gate, we were attacked by several lizard men, one of whom was a cleric. It could have been dangerous. Fortunately, I quickly thwacked the cleric while the rest of the party took out one of his henchmen. The third lizard man decided to surrender rather than fight. The cleric was holding an obsidian rod with a skull on one end. We took that along with some non-magical armor, weapons, and robes.

Apparently, we interrupted some type of ceremony. Within the room was an 8' tall statue of a dwarf with turquoise eyes, a basin of unholy water, and numerous carved ruins on the walls. Hune took the eyes from the statue before the echoes of the battle had subsided. Avery took the damage from the trap Hune triggered. Avery, being a sturdy dwarf, was able to shake off the damage. I hope we are as lucky next time. Unfortunately, we don't know what the lizard men were doing. That's because someone in the party dragged our captive lizard man back to Grastic to be eaten. Besides not following the code of justice (paladin exp's?), it deprived us of our only source of information in the area.

Not being able to do anything about that substantial setback, we decided to climb back up the cliff and return to the skull door in the first room. Behind it was a hallway that led to two additional rooms. One room was on the edge of the cliff and was filled with yellow powder. We waited while Evan regained his power, then he blasted the contents of the room. It turned out that there were 6 skeletons hiding in the powder. Thanks to the pre-blasting strategy and some timely turning from Avery, we were able to kill the skeletons before they could infest us with the yellow mold. A stone chest in the room contained a magical helm. We have yet to determine its powers.

The door to the other room was trapped. Hune disabled the trap and we forced open the doors. The room was circular. A cold breeze circled the room. In the center of the room on the floor was a pentagram inside a circle made out of ceramic tiles and green lines. But that's not what was spectacular about the room. The ceiling rose to a 60' high dome with glowing stars. Rukhs recognized the stars as dwarven constellations. In the center was a constellation of a finger representing the Lorekeeper around which the other stars revolved. A skull with rams horns floated in the air above the pentagram.

After some quick research, Rukhs determined that the skull was an oracle. The oracle is said to answer one yes or no question about this area correctly for each person who asks. Questions, we have many questions. However, the first question we need to answer is 'are there any yes/no questions we can ask at this time that will guide or next action'. Nobody told me I was going to have to think on this adventure.

Entry 14: November 6, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

I seem to be writing a lot today. I can't even recall how many entries I've made in my journal since I woke up this morning. Shortly after my last entry, Hune wandered off for several hours. However, this time he was murmuring something about a ball and chain. Rukhs was about to have a very short conversation with a very large skull. Let me refresh your memory- dome with stars in the form of constellations, Lorekeeper finger constellation, pentagram on floor, floating and talking oracular skull with rams horns, pervasive evil, etc. Good.

Rukhs entered the oracle room and the door magically shut behind him. He asked the skull if there are still Bluestone dwarves alive in this area. The skull answered 'yes'. We were able to confirm the truthfulness of that answer. More on that later. The skull, a bit of a yapper, also said the following to Rukhs, "You are now the Lorekeeper's own." Oracles can be tricky, but I can only think of one way to interpret that statement and it isn't good. Rukhs also noticed a small white skull tattooed on the back of his hand. Also not good. We closed the doors to that room, reset the trap as best we could without Hune, erased our tracks, and Thistledown cast an illusion of a wall. We don't want anyone else finding out about the oracle. Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this down.

We decided to return to the area of the cavern that Thistledown explored many moons ago (or was it yesterday) where she found a constructed passage that ended in double doors. When we arrived at the doors, we found that they were barred from the other side and sounds of gnolls could be heard behind them. Next to the doors we discovered a small arrow slit in the wall. Rather than sitting in the hallway waiting to be shot, we decided to go with Plan A and bust down the doors. We ran headlong into seven gnolls and fighting ensued. One gnoll ran to a set of double doors on the back wall and shouted, "It's an ogre, get Gurhasse". That makes me think someone in this dungeon is familiar with Rukhs and wants to capture him, but I don't know any more about it.

Avery and I charged the gnolls while Evan summoned a salt mephit. Avery and I were able to aid "Salty" in killing six of the gnolls while Rukhs subdued the last gnoll. Thistledown found a human slave named Grassus in the corner of the room. Before we could question the gnoll or the slave, we found out what a Gurhasse was and why all the rooms had double doors. Gurhasse was a giant and he was accompanied by eight more gnolls. The battle became much bloodier once Gurhasse arrived, but Rukhs, Avery, and I eventually killed the giant with ranged support from Evan.

A number of the gnolls ran away in fear. Avery and I pursued them along with Salty. The gnolls ran through yet another section of the cavern. We followed their footsteps through the cavern as precisely as we could to avoid the piercers on the right and the pile of rats on the left (at least that's what we suspected would get us). Salty sucked the moisture out of one gnoll. Surprisingly, gnolls don't look that much more disgusting when they're mummified.

The rest of them escaped through a narrowing of the cavern supported by pillars. When Avery and I approached the pillars, we were ambushed by four more gnolls who didn't realize they were vastly outnumbered. We killed those gnolls but went no further because we didn't want to get too separated from the rest of the party. Beyond the pillars, we saw an old building of dwarven construction that had been overrun by gnolls and was being used as temporary headquarters.

While we were hacking at gnolls, the rest of the party fearlessly adventured on without their fleshy walls leading the way. They examined a small room between the first gnoll room and the cavern that was filled with garbage. Thistledown noticed a depression in the garbage which concealed a trap door in the floor. Rukhs opened the door and Thistledown descended. The shaft led to a corridor with a room at the opposite end. Searching the area, no hidden passages were discovered, but the walls were covered with a thin layer of ice and the environment was unnaturally cold. In the room, Thistledown found two bodies prone on the floor covered in ice. She also detected an evil aberration somewhere beyond the room. Rukhs climbed down to investigate. He identified the bodies as Bluestone dwarves, one male and one female.

The rest of us joined Rukhs and Thistledown in the freezer room. We extricated the dwarves and found a secret door in the back wall from whence the evil came. We decided to ignore the door for the time being since we were in poor condition to fight and we wanted to rescue the dwarves. On the way out, we noticed that the frightened gnolls were erecting a wooden wall around the pillars in the cavern. If they knew our penchant for fire, they would have found other building material.

The female dwarf eventually revived, but the male dwarf was long dead. We were able to speak with her. She called herself Brightaxe. She confirmed that she was indeed a Bluestone dwarf under the service of King Engwar Hammerfist. Her less fortunate companion was named Darius. We explained to her that the two of them had been trapped in the ruins, frozen for hundreds of years. She told us of her quest to find the alien magic in the catacombs, and she described what she knew of the area. We buried Darius and took her and the captured gnoll back to the mill. The crazy slave turned out to be a crazy basket-maker. We turned him over to Mayor Hobb although we plan to attempt to question him and the gnoll soon. We also need to employ the tattoo removal services of Father Goodweather.

I find it unusual that we should meet Brightaxe, a Bluestone dwarf whose quest is hundreds of years removed yet so similar to our own. It's unlikely that Brightaxe will accomplish anything that will help her people after so much time has passed, but perhaps she will be able help to us. However, these are very strange times and you never know who will be able to help whom.

Entry 15: November 6-10, 888

My dear and unfortunate reader,

What a day. We finally made it back to town, intact no less. I'll summarize the stuff that happened in town so I can quickly get back to describing the good stuff:

  • Doak Hillman was seen wearing a new cloak. Hune took great interest in this. Grotch, the captured gnoll, told us of a plot by the orcs, giants, trolls, and goblins to teleport an army into nearby caves and sneak attack Tegel Village through underground passages. I informed Reem about the plot but otherwise kept it quiet to avoid frightening the townspeople. We don't know the specific time or location of the attack. Further investigation is required.
  • Grotch volunteered to be Hune's slave. Great, we have a gnoll tagging along.
  • We received maps of the dwarven ruins from Brightaxe.
  • Thistledown determined that the town well was sourced by an underground river and she speculated that the missing bloodroot could be used to poison the town's water supply via the river. We took no action.
  • Father Goodweather was unable to remove the curse placed on Rukhs by the Lorekeeper oracle skull. I fear the curse will destroy Rukhs before long.
  • Philo Plump wanted to join our group. We rejected his offer for his own good.
  • Our total time in town was three days. We waited while Rukhs and Brightaxe deciphered the Bluestone Dwarf books. We returned to the ruins on November 10. We were forced to create a diversion to keep a mob from following us to the ruins. The trinkets we've found in the ruins have worked everyone in Tegel Village into a frenzy. Apparently the fact that we can now afford to buy a couple potions of healing makes us crazy wealthy.

We decided to return to the frozen room where we first found Brightaxe. We thought whatever was behind the evil door might provide some answers as to what happened to the Bluestone dwarves. When is a door not a door? When it's a doormonster. From now on we swing at doors, then open. The doormonster charmed Rukhs and myself. Rukhs attacked Avery. Thistledown was able to dispel the charm on me before I attacked Hune. Sometimes it stinks to be a paladin ("I'm still under a spell. I can't stop. I must attack."). The doormonster also weakened anyone it touched. It was nasty. We finally killed it and found a real door where the doormonster had been. There was writing on the door. It said, "It is not given that dwarf should interrupt the sleep of his ancestors. Do not transgress beyond this point."

Behind the door was a large complex of hallways. We chose a path at random. The path we chose lead to a long abandoned supply room. It contained dwarven plate mail, repeating crossbow parts, non-magical weapons, and a box of Tang empire origin. The box contained shruikens, other masterworks weapons, and fireworks. Not a bad haul. If only the people in the village could have seen that stockpile.

We entered a nearby room. There were no living creatures in the room. However, on the floor of the room laid the husk of a long-dead monitor lizard. On one wall was a slide leading up along with a circular shaft in the ceiling. Thistledown heard orc noises at the top of the slide. My theory is that in ancient times, people who fell out of favor were tossed down the slide to be eaten by the lizard. Not the most distinguished way to be extinguished. We don't know if the orcs are aware of the slide.

We decided to explore the level we were on before heading up to confront the orcs. Hune heard scratching and growling noises behind the next door. In the center of the room were three large bears. Signs of humanoid individuals were spotted, but the humanoids were off in a different room. The bears quickly decided that they didn't want to be our pets. A vicious battle ensued. We were bitten and clawed. Bear fur went flying. In the end, the party took down the bears without taking fatal damage ourselves. Whomever else was around either made like the trees or has hidden in the next room.

There's one way to find out.

Entry 16: November 10, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Down the hallway from the bear room, we located a stairway leading up. At the top of the stairs was a room containing three trolls. We lured two of the trolls down the stairs. Avery finished off one and I sliced up the other with some fire support from Evan. The third troll retreated upon seeing its comrades in flames on the floor. While pursuing the last troll, we found a trap door that opened into a familiar looking cavern. It was the cavern into which Avery and I had chased a group of gnolls several days earlier. The gnolls had subsequently walled off that section of the cavern in fear. The trap door put us inside the wall.

The area contained numerous items of note: a statue of a female bluestone dwarf figure, several gnolls, two small groups of orcs, and a corner full of large spider webs. But that wasn't the interesting part. In the center of the cavern stood a stone structure topped with columns and a statue of a male bluestone dwarf. Orcs could be seen in conversation with an enormous giant who clearly commanded the rest of the creatures.

Evan (fireball) Granger let loose a flaming ball from our position at the trap door. The orcs on the stone structure would no longer be carrying out any orders, but the giant was merely annoyed. While he moved to spike trap door #1 shut, we moved on the level below finding a second trap door near the male dwarf statue on the stone structure.


We popped up and had time to search the orcs and the statue near trap door #2 while the giant was spiking the first trap door shut. We found panels at the base of the statue depicting bluestone dwarves fighting demon orcs. As the giant returned, we hid behind the pillars and statue. We were able to get a surprise attack on the giant but could do no damage. Thinking better of the attack, we scurried back down trap door #2 like scared ants. It wasn't our finest moment. On the level below we encountered three more trolls, one of them bigger than the others we had encountered. We created a gauntlet at the end of a hallway enabling us to swarm attack the first two trolls. They quickly fell. The larger troll retreated but was caught on our side of a barricade and could not escape. We managed to take down the large troll but took some damage in the process.

We returned to town to recuperate. Of note in town, Hune discovered that Blackbark's house had been ransacked and that Blackbark was missing. He notified Captain Reem. Also, Rukhs overheard Phinius Foambringer talking to Winton Sweetvines about a meeting that will take place in four days, presumably the rescheduled meeting of the one that we so skillfully disrupted about ten days ago.

We left just after midnight, Nov 11, to return to the ruins. We went back to the same area of the dungeon, but attempted to enter a room we had not previously visited. Rukhs placed his hands on a set of magical hands behind an illusionary wall and the door to the room opened. It wouldn't be the last door Rukhs would open in this room. The room contained numerous statues of magical creatures: sphinx, dryad, griffin, manticore, hippogriff, centaur, satyr, and others. The eyes of the statues consisted of a variety of sparkling gems, which caused Hune's eyes to sparkle as well. He went for the emerald eyes of the harpy first.

Hune was able to remove the gem eyes, but we heard a not-so-distant portcullis creak open. The torches illuminating the room magically extinguished when Hune removed the eyes only to turn back on a couple minutes later. Rukhs, using his fancy eyes, spotted a set of hidden double doors in the back wall of the room. He opened the doors finding stairs leading down. From the depths, a violet light radiating powerful magic shown through long undisturbed webs. Sounds of a very large creature could be heard ascending the stairs.

Thinking quickly about how to defend ourselves against the approaching threats, Hune moved to another statue and popped out the satyr statue's eyes. Meanwhile Rukhs ran to the opposite end of the room opening another set of double doors at the top of a small stairway. I knew we should have done something about that skull on the back of his hand. In the adjacent room, Rukhs found 20 dwarven skeletons and two green gargoyles. As the skeletons animated, a huge bronze golem crested the stairs at the opposite end of the room. Fortunately, there are no more doors to open so we can take comfort in knowing that we will be slaughtered by a golem, skeletons, and gargoyles. Of course, we don't know what creatures were behind the portcullis or when they will join the fray.

What other trouble can we get ourselves into? Will it matter? We won't go down without a fight, or possibly turning tail and running away.

Entry 17: November 10, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Last time I left off, all the doors were open, we had fired up the machines of war and we were ready to fight. The big battle of the statue room began with Avery and I turning many of the skeletons approaching from the forward room while the rest of the party hacked. Avery, he being the fastest turner this side of the Shadowyarn Mountains, also cast a wall spell to protect our rear from the metal golem of doom. However, walls don't respond well to golem fists, and the golem quickly busted through.

Thistledown smartly cast an illusion to further slow the golem. The rest of the party fought skeletons while I attacked the golem. Much swinging, whiffing, and absorption ensued. The fighting was going somewhat in our favor when the golem zapped Evan with a purple eye ray. Another portcullis opened in the distance. But damage was being done to the golem and the skeletons. Avery summoned an elemental which didn't do much damage to the golem, but more importantly was able to draw off some attacks. Eventually the skeletons were beaten down and the golem retreated back down the stairs which it had come up. I followed, but could not stop it from jumping into a pool which I assumed would regenerate it. Oh well. Also of note in the golem lair was an eight foot tall dwarven statue wearing a black crown with 3 violet gems. The eyes and mouth of the statue glowed orange.

While Rukhs, Hune, and Brightaxe mopped up the remaining skeletons, Avery and Thistledown investigated movement back in the hallway near the frost room. Apart from Hune snagging a couple more gems, the adventure quickly turned from slicing and dicing to exploring. The frost room had mysteriously begun to thaw revealing another secret door in the room. Behind the door were stairs leading down and fresh lizard tracks.

Tracking the lizard man, we found living quarters and an alter, but no lizard. Our tracking lead to a large cavern with 3 domes in the ceiling- sun, moon, earth. The room appeared to be an ancient portal room that was no longer operational. Murals on the wall depicted scenes of lizard men teleporting and the room had many doors. It looked as if it was more recently used for religious ceremonies although much of the room was untouched for long periods of time and some items crumbled to dust when sneezed on. In addition, Evan felt a false sense of growing power in the room. Going through the room and out the opposite side, we wound through a few hallways until we stumbled upon a winged lizard trapped in a crystal. From previous information gathering, we recognized this to be the Immortal King of the lizard men. He seemed to have the power to influence the thoughts of some of the party members (Rukhs, Evan).

Obviously, we don't want the other lizards to find the King, although we may have inadvertently created a path to the creature. Having no obvious way to destroy the evil creature, we covered our tracks and headed back out. Somewhere along the way in our out, we discovered a back door to the golem room and Hune snatched the gems from the crown on the dwarven statue. We didn't stay long enough to fight the golem. Making our way back near the large river room, we stumbled onto a camp with eight lizard men. Finally, more answers, ... and more blood.

Entry 18: November 11, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Great big gobs of greasy, grimy, lizard guts...

When last I left off, we were about to have a big showdown with the Ssruthu, a.k.a. the lizard men. We snuck up on their camp near the underground river in the dwarven ruins giving us the advantage of surprise.

Q: What's more surprising than a fireball? A: Not much.

Evan served up a large one in the middle of the lizard camp charring six of the eight lizards. Make that six of ten lizards. A large warrior lizard and a lizard shaman whom we believed to be the head lizard, Gruk, emerged from a smoldering tent after the blast.

I quickly pounced on the large warrior and managed to hit him where it hurt. He dropped before he could do any damage. Thistledown T. Mightysprite cast a spell on Gruk causing him to attack his own guards. Her spell gave us the advantage we needed. The rest of the group sprang into action. Hune, Avery, and Rukhs killed lizard guards while Evan summoned fighting hounds to join the fray. It was looking good for us. However, once Gruk recovered he began summoning shadows which the fighters could not kill. Fortunately we have a master turner of the undead in our party. Avery banished the shadows allowing the rest of us to swarm Gruk and take him down. It was glorious.

One of the lizards that Gruk attacked was not dead, so we took him prisoner. The only thing left to do was divide up the treasure. Gruk had a potion, 4 bags of poisonous powder, gold, and some strange trinkets (mummified human hand and jawbone, divining sticks, teeth). Conspicuously missing from his scaly personage was the staff he had used to power up the defenses at the monastery.

Before we could celebrate for long, our golem friend showed up, freshly oiled and ready to smash. However, we were the ones who did the smashing. The favor of the gods was upon us as we continued to fight with uncommon good fortune. Our swords and armor may have been in need of a little repair at the end of the battle, but the golem was reduced to a pile of scrap metal. After Avery secured the winged-lizard with a battery of spells, we returned to the mill, unfortunately unable to share our tales of great victory.

We spent the night at the mill to rest and reload. On the day of the 12th, we journeyed into town. I handed over our lizard prisoner to Reem. Thistledown visited Hedda to talk potions and powders. We also sold an ancient pot to Sterndale for a discount price (All pots 50% off today). On a sad note, we were informed that the entire Greenleaf family had disappeared. Upon quick investigation, Thistledown noticed very heavy human footprints leading to the barrows. Reconnoitering the main mound, she noticed a shadowy figure and several orcs guarding the entrance. She also created a minor disturbance to see what would happen. A cloaked man carrying a dagger came out to take a look. He was not large enough to have made the deep footprints in town, so that remains a mystery.

Despite our recent successes, the situation at the dwarven ruins is far from being under control. We still have to deal with a giant-led army of orcs, gnolls, and trolls. Beyond that, well, we only have to find a missing dwarven civilization and free it from the evil Lorekeeper. We may need to find a way to permanently destroy the winged lizard deity as well. Also, we need to save the missing townspeople, spy on the secret meeting of the brotherhood of the creepy old guys which has been rescheduled for a couple days from now, kill the shambler, explore the monastery to see if any lizards are still hanging around, foil the plot to poison the town well, determine what happened to the ranger, complete individual quests, etc. That's just some of the stuff we know about, and we haven't been to the Manor yet.

We decided as a group that we should temporarily abandon the dwarven ruins and make rescuing Queen Phoebe our top priority. I personally prefer killing creatures with ears, but Thistledown has saved the party enough times that killing plants for a while is not an unreasonable request. Hopefully the Queen will be able to enlighten us as to how to defeat at least some of the evil inhabiting this area.

Will the faeries fly again? Let the weed-whacking begin.

Entry 19: November 13, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Welcome to the tale of Thistledown's Revenge, Part Deux. The first time we battled the evil trees infesting the Eldritch Woods we were less than successful. Today we carefully plotted our strategy (frontal assault) and returned to the woods. Thistledown drank a magical potion to protect herself from the sleep effect covering the area. As soon as our party approached the clearing, one of the evil guardian trees moved to attack us and the battle was on.

Thistledown seized the opportunity our skirmish created. She polymorphed into a humming bird and flew unnoticed into the queen's underground palace. Rukhs took the first blow from the tree monster and collapsed to the ground in very bad shape. Avery was on the spot to heal Rukhs while Hune and I pressed the attack. Evan provided ranged support. Unfortunately his fire arsenal was not effective against the evil shrubbery. Eventually we took out two of the trees while Thistledown (a.k.a. Delta Force Extraction Team) searched for Queen Phoebe.

Upon entering the underground palace, Thistledown encountered a chamber that bordered on lifelessness. The fairies appeared to be in a magically deep slumber. The Queen was similarly unconscious. She was encased in a black, crystalline substance resting on a pile of small, winged serpents. Thistledown cast a spell to dispel whatever magic was controlling the serpents and carefully extricated the Queen from the crystal. The Queen wore a glowing blue necklace which, when removed from her neck, caused her to gasp for air. Thistledown quickly returned the necklace to her neck and fled the chamber carrying the sleeping queen.

Back at the battle many things were happening. Rukhs investigated one of the downed trees. He discovered a dead fairy child covered in black goo inside the husk of the tree. Thistledown would later identify the being as a dryad, a sprite-like creature who shies away from all non-human contact. Hune, Avery, and I chopped down a third tree creature but took some damage in the process. Evan moved onto the mound in the center of the glade with Rukhs following close behind. The timing was good as Thistledown emerged from the underground chamber at the same moment. She cast a spell to create a false image of herself and Queen Phoebe standing by the exit, then Evan cast a teleport spell taking Thistledown, Queen Phoebe, and Rukhs instantly back to the mill. The illusionary image turned out to be an excellent idea. The magic had returned to the serpents and they flew out of the mound in search of the Queen. The distraction gave everyone time to escape.

We soon spotted the serpents flying above the trees heading towards the mill at a speed much faster than we could run. Avery summoned a hippogriff and I hitched a ride with him back to the mill. Thistledown used her magic to "thought message" us: "How R U? AFAIK, Fi/B & I R OK, CUL8ER". She also communicated the fact that Queen Phoebe had briefly been able to speak. The Queen told Thistledown about the culprit who had given her the necklace... Blackfingers the Brownie!

Hune decided to search for Blackfingers. But where would you look for Blackfingers? What sticky situation would Blackfingers the Brownie have inserted himself into? How deep would he go? Hune was confident he had the flexibility to lick this challenge on his own, so he plunged ahead, assuming he would not be assailed by assassins after his assets. It was a crapshoot at best. (Thanks Chris.)

By the time Avery and I hippogriffed it back to the mill, Evan and Rukhs had dispatched the flying serpents via ice, dogs, and fists. The Queen regained consciousness once again. She bestowed a title upon Thistledown, "Protector of the Eldritch Woods". She also conjured a magical harp for Thistledown (which I'm sure will be the bane of our existence from this day forward). Thistledown took her protectee to Hedda for healing.

Hune was successful in finding Blackfingers in his lair. Unfortunately, or fortunately, he was dead. In his possession were gold coins with a snake symbol on them. When Hune returned to the mill and showed them to us, Evan noticed that he had seen the same symbol in Doak's shop. Hune went to the shop where he found goblets engraved with the snake symbol. When Hune purchased them, Doak seemed very suspicious. Captain Reem also had a curious response to the snake symbol. The next time I saw him, I asked him about the symbol and he withheld what he knew from me.

Hune wisely had spies following Doak. They reported that Doak went to the actors' guild following the encounter in his shop. He came out looking happy, like he had passed on the information about us purchasing the goblets to someone who was pleased to find out about it. Hearing what the spies had seen, we sent Recon to investigate the guild. Thistledown searched around but found nothing of interest. The rest of us returned to Blackfinger's lair to look for clues. Near Blackfinger's den, we found a deep hole spewing forth black goo (no kidding). The goo was contaminating the nearby spring. It was the same goo that we saw in the evil trees and on the serpents. One significant property of the goo was quickly uncovered. It gloms on to everything except copper.

The only other newsworthy occurrence of the evening was Rukhs overhearing Gustov Blackguard talking to Hasnover about the secret meeting at Vinter's shop. Rukhs found out that the meeting was scheduled to take place immediately after the Feast of the Dead play was over. Nothing else particularly interesting happened... well, at least up to the point where Hune decided to go on walkabout. Guessing that Piers Pyper, musician at large, was Doak's contact at the guild, Hune decided to follow him when he left the guild. Piers quickly headed out of the village in the direction of Eventide. Eventide happens to be the location of an evil snake cult legend. Coincidence? Not likely.

When Eventide was coming into view, Hune noticed Piers being met by a group of shady men. They asked Piers for a password. Piers repeated the password. Unfortunately, Hune could not make it out. He tried to circle around the men and sneak into town. The snap of a branch revealed his position and the men advanced on his position. Recon was on the job and she relayed what was happening to the rest of the party. Several questions may soon be answered, the most important of which is: can we get there in time?

Entry 20: November 13, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Ever get the feeling that 144 days have passed in a matter of seconds? Weird. Standing in a circle of long-dead dwarven corpses must have a powerful affect on the memory. It almost feels like the faerie population has doubled in the time I've been standing on this very spot. How can that be possible? I must try to recall what's happened today and how the party came to be in a chamber of scorched dwarves.

My last journal entry ended with Hune "The Not-So-Stealthy" in deep doo-doo; not Blackfingers' doo-doo this time. Hune, a master of tripping, dodging, and moving silently (well, two out of three ain't bad), followed Piers Piper to Eventide. More accurately, he snuck directly into an ambush in the woods just outside of Eventide. He was attacked by a human guard and a creature that was half man, half snake. The snakeman swung a scimitar blade coated in poison that reduced Hune's constitution to that of a young handmaiden - a young handmaiden with constitution lower than Hune's.

Fortunately, the undetectable, aeronautical, omnipresent, shortwave transceiver named Thistledown was there to save the day. She entangled the human guard while Hune fled the snakeman. She signaled the party to set up our own ambush of the snakeman and directed Hune to our trap. The plan was flawless and I was positioned for a swift kill. However, Mr. Snake must have been extra slimy because my sword slid by him doing no damage. On the positive side, my whiff did give me a front row seat to see Thistledown sleep the snakeman with an arrow. (What would she do without us?) After some gentle persuasion, our captor gave us the password to get by the Eventide guards, then we turned him over to Reem. A short time later we heard that he had shape-shifted, killed a Tegel guard, and escaped. Nice work mi compadres.

Also in town, we checked in on Hedda and Queen Phoebe. Hedda was curing the queen and she gave Thistledown a potion to combat the black goo. She called the goo- "The Dreck". We quickly went to the source of the goo and threw the potion into it as a test. The goo briefly turned clear and Thistledown saw a broken crate which was quickly covered again as the goo returned. Could the crate be the source of The Dreck? Did Blackfingers have his hands in this? Too many questions. Having a wise cleric in the party, we decided to question our ever increasing collection of deceased enemies using spells. Gruk, formerly the head lizardman and staff wielder, refused to speak with those who did him in. Blackfingers was more amenable to Avery's probe. He said that a portly, dark-skinned, bearded man from Eventide named Avvakris gave him the necklace which later cursed Queen Pheobe. It might be a good idea to question him at some point.

We quickly reconn'd the Monastery of St. Cadel and found no sign of lizards or magical staff. The party decided to return to the Bluestone Dwarf ruins. Avery, employing the more gentle art of magical divination, cast a spell that showed us the quickest path to the ancient city of Huvat Vex. The spell first led us back to a familiar area of the ruins, the room that had been covered in frost where we found Brightaxe months (or is it days) ago.

The spell then guided us to a nearby concealed door and Hune opened it. A glyph on the door was triggered. It transformed Hune into a house cat. To the great, great relief of the rest of the party, we were able to combat the effects of the spell and return Hune to his normal self. Phew! Inside the room we found bones that appeared to be those of ancient Bluestone dwarves and some marks on the floor and walls that revealed signs of an explosion from long ago. Carefully opening a set of double doors, we entered a strangely shaped room that also exhibited signs of ancient dwarven battle. Avery's spell pointed to the only exit from the room, a set of double doors on the opposite wall from where we entered. The doors were infested with yellow spores, but we had no choice.

The spores burst forth upon opening the doors and we all dodged out of the way. Hune and Avery got the brunt of the spores. It turned out that they were susceptible to fire, and Evan was happy to eradicate them at the expense of some splash damage on the party. The next room was some sort of laboratory. Rukhs magical eyes spotted a secret door. Behind it was a small chamber that contained, wait for it... treasure. Naturally, we were shocked and approached cautiously. The feature item was a glowing glass globe. Some writings indicated that it was a source of energy to power a portal, possibly a transport to Huvat Vex. It dimmed when removed from the room. We also found five scroll cases of different colors, four of them sealed.

Evan opened the unsealed scroll which was unintelligible gibberish written with white chalk on black paper. A second scroll with a green seal was opened revealing a scroll of four spells: darkvision, dispel magic, fireball, invisibility sphere. The third scroll with an unbroken black seal described the jeweled statues we had discovered previously. The final scroll, sealed in blue exploded when Evan opened it, although we had cleverly removed the orb from the room before opening it. Finally, the red sealed scroll with a fist clenching a hammer was written in ancient Bluestone dwarven and was an inventory of magic items stored on the now empty shelves.

The find the path spell led beyond the laboratory to the room we are in now. In the room we discovered the charred remains of ancient Bluestone dwarves who appear to have been destroyed in some sort of ritual of self destruction. One prominent figure was found clutching a staff and wearing a mantle. The magical mantle survived both the explosion and the passage of time. The mantle was adorned with a sigil on each shoulder. Almost certainly, that the staff was the source of the explosive strike. Rukhs believed that the remains may have been those of the ancient king, Huran Hammerfist.

On one side of the room, a vertical shaft leads both up and down from our current location. The path spell points to the shaft. Does our future lead upward or downward? And our destiny? We'll soon find out.

Entry 21: November 13, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

At last we found Huvat Vex, lost city of the Bluestone Dwarves. It's quite a site. A dome, miles across and stunningly high encases the well-preserved city. The entrance we found is a hole in the dome from which we must descend into the city. From our soaring viewpoint, we can see huge stone structures as legend foretold. Unfortunately, orcs and giants found the city first. The only way to get from the massive dome to the ground below is to ride down in a metal basket attached to a pulley system. A basket isn't the best form of transportation when giants holding huge rocks wait below.

The last part of the journey to Huvat Vex was largely uneventful as we did not stray from the path. Our only battle was against a specter and a brass golem, two creatures that we encountered at roughly the same time. We had just passed through a very strange room. It was large and contained 6 statues of orcs clad in armor of the Bluestone Dwarves. The walls of the room were carved from onyx. At the far end of the room from where we entered was a magical darkness so thick our keen senses could not penetrate it. The area radiated an evil presence which we associated with the Lorekeeper. The specter was in a small room attached to the main room that appeared to be an old store room, and the golem was in the adjacent hallway.

The specter attempted to lash out and infect me with its putrid touch. It missed and Avery was able to temporarily banish the creature. The golem was slightly more difficult to eliminate. Having just survived the encounter with the specter, I attempted to rush the golem and immediately fell into a trapped pit. I survived once again. In the mean time, Evan battled the golem from a distance. The golem shot out death rays at Evan. Evan dodged the rays and shot back at it with bolts of lightning. He also summoned an earth elemental to attack it. The rest of us joined the fray after scaling or jumping the pit. We eventually dismantled it and came through the encounter relatively unharmed. It was not far beyond that area that we found the hole in the dome and the basket.

Now we must find a way down that doesn't put us in grave peril. Awaiting us at the bottom are the orcs and giants. Thistledown also scouted out the area where the basket would touch down. It's a small forest and she saw harpies hiding in the trees. According to Rukhs, it's important that we go to this city regardless of the dangers. We are up for the challenge. After all, what could be more dangerous than being lowered in a basket from thousands of feet in the air by Hune?

Entry 22: November 14, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Occasionally one of our plans doesn't go perfectly, and this was one of those rare

Some of our plans don't go exactly as

Most of our plans are doomed to

All of our plans end in total chaos. This one was no exception. As Evan, Avery, and I were being lowered in a basket from the high dome of Huvat Vex towards the rock- wielding giants on the ground far below, I had a thought. We just sent the basket down empty to see what would happen and the giants smashed it with large rocks. What if we had at least waited a few hours instead of jumping into the basket and heading right back down? Thistledown had the sense to cast an illusionary image on it making the entire basket blend in with the surface of the dome; all of it except that pesky chain that was preventing us from hurtling to our deaths.

As we got close to the ground, the giants spotted the chain and began throwing rocks. A few just missed us. Evan summoned several giant eagles to dive bomb the giants. The eagles did a good job of distracting them. When a screaming Hedda suddenly appeared in midair and plummeted downward, her presence instantly trumped all other distractions.

Thistledown, apprentice potion maker 1st class, flew at Hedda. Taking advantage of Hedda's mouth being stretched wide open in terror, she forced a potion of levitation past her highly active vocal chords and down her throat. Lethal impact with the ground-- problem solved. Lethal impact with rocks hurled by giants-- problem not solved. Evan summoned a temporary solution in the form of an air elemental. It deflected the rocks hurled at Hedda and Thistledown.

Before we had a chance to breath, another problem reared its ugly yet magnificent head. A blue dragon appeared from the giants' temple and flew toward Hedda and Thistledown. I feathered it with arrows while the spellcasters threw their magical fire at it. It survived long enough to get one attack on Hedda with its long, sharp claws. It shredded her like... that's enough detail. An enraged Thistledown shot one of her magical sleep arrows, Avery swung his hefty axe, and Evan blasted the beast with a scorching ray. Revenge was swift as the dragon splatted on the ground, but it wasn't sweet. The damage had been done.

The basket finally touched down in the woods near the temple. We recovered Hedda's body and the remains of the dragon. Hune and Rukhs made the long climb down to join up with us. It didn't take long to realize that the woods were full of insidious creatures called dryads. One dryad noticed Evan and Evan noticed her. After we slapped the youngster back to reality, we found out some valuable information from the dryads.

The dryad queen was imprisoned by harpies on the edge of the forest. The song of the harpy charms all who hear it. The imprisonment did not appear to be random. Some of the trees in the forest had recently been cut down and orc footprints were in the area. A barrier of thorns had been erected between the edge of the forest and the temple. Since dryads are connected to their trees, the giants certainly would have know that the queen would not allow trees to be cut while she was free. We also discovered that a giant much larger than the few we'd seen so far was in charge of the temple.

Scouting the temple, we found no other entrances than the front door. The spellcasters cleared the way by blasting the giants and orcs with fire and ice. The giants appeared unaffected by ice, but the fire singed them. The orcs were vulnerable to both attacks and dropped like orcs who had taken lots of damage. The giants retreated into the temple since they were unlikely to do much damage hurling rocks into the forest at us.

We skirted the thorn barrier and entered the temple with Hune leading the way. Hune spotted a secret door and disabled a trap on it. I opened the door and entered a short hallway. At the opposite end of the hallway were three female giants cooking food. Not wanting to be an ingredient, I lured one of the giants down the hallway and out the door. Hune backstabbed her and his blades struck true, felling her before she even realized she was in danger.

We know what still awaits us in the temple: a couple of female giants, several lightly toasted male giants, and one giant giant. Can that be all? Not likely. Can we give them all they can handle? Not likely. Is this the end of our story?

Entry 23: November 15, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Mission accomplished. We successfully negotiated the hazards of Huvat Vex and made it back to town alive. In the process, we were able to kill a number of the enemy, explore the cavern, and force the giants to flee the area. We freed the dryad queen as well. Here's the blow-by-blow description.

The quick foray into the palace described in the last journal entry provoked the giants to send three squadrons of eight orcs out searching for us. We hid in the trees spying on the group that entered the forest. They suspiciously stopped near certain trees. Thistledown's keen eyes spotted additional orcs hiding in those trees. We quickly launched an assault on their position. The fight didn't last long. All of the orcs in the scouting party as well as the orcs hiding in the trees were slaughtered and we took just a few scratches in return. We extracted no information or treasure from them. Thistledown wanted it noted in the journal that Avery was unable to kill the last orc, so she had to finish it off.

After the brief battle, Evan met yet another young dryad, this one named Flora. She took a liking to Evan (it's good to be the face man) and he was able to coax out of her the fact that the dryads had been trapped in their current location for many, many years. They were lured there by dwarves. That seemed very strange to Rukhs as he believed that the Bluestone Dwarves would not have trapped the dryads of their own volition. Flora also said that thousands of orcs had marched passed the forest in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Hune and Avery decided to see what trouble they could get themselves into. A checkerboard pattern of stones on the ground near where we encountered the orcs proved to be a good source of mischief. We guessed that the stones were some sort of teleport device. After they stood on the squares for a minute or two, that assumption was verified as they both disappeared in a wink. They returned a couple minutes later in a prone position. The device had teleported them to a temple we had visited before in the upper ruins. It didn't take long for us to recall the enormous giant who had chased us away from his temple. This time the giant noticed Hune and Avery on the teleport pad right before they got zapped back to our location. We surrounded the base holding swords and spears over the pad waiting for the bad guys to use the device to teleport to us. A couple groups of orcs came through on the squares that were not blocked by spears. We didn't give them a chance to speak or flee, killing them immediately. It didn't take long for the fun to end as the stream of orc bait quickly halted. A tree near the teleport pad had fist-sized strawberries that were very tasty and filling. We each took a couple.

Soon more enemies approached our location from the local palace. Giants accompanied the orcs this time so we snuck away. The places we had been thus far in Huvat Vex were all on a large ledge on the side of the cavern, only a small portion of entire area. We descended from the ledge, following a path down into the center of the cavern to see what other secrets the cavern had to offer.

It had been a very long day, so Thistledown scouted for a safe place to rest. She found an ancient, domed building in which we spent the night. The inside was decorated with images of a lizard-like race. The structure contained the following: a star-shaped crystal which heated the interior, black and crimson egg-shaped objects scattered on the floor, empty shells, and paintings of slave, snake, thuggish, and winged lizards. We maintained a watch throughout the night in case any live lizards made an appearance. None were seen. We left after resting and regaining strength, deciding not to investigate the building or its contents further.

Thistledown reconned the rest of the cavern. In one corner she found recent construction. The orcs and giants had built a make-shift wooden fortress protecting the entrance to a mine shaft. We decided it was best to ignore it for the time being. Instead, we followed the path back up to the ledge and headed straight for the dryad queen.

The queen sat in a tree surrounded by five harpies who kept her in a charmed state. Avery cast a spell to eliminate sound so that they wouldn't be able to charm us too. Simultaneously, Thistledown entangled the harpies in the branches of the trees. All but two were trapped in the silence and could do nothing. The other two took to the air. They flew out of the silenced area before we could kill them. Their song rang out. Evan and Rukhs immediately became entranced. The rest of us resisted and were able to attack. The harpies did not die easily. Eventually Thistledown slept one. I was able to position myself so that when the other harpy dove towards Thistledown I got a swing with my sword permanently ending the singing. With the threat of being charmed gone, we were able to kill the remaining three harpies and rescue the queen without difficulty.

Thistledown noticed that the giants and orcs were unexpectedly packing to leave. There was no way to know for sure, but apparently our attacks had messed up their plans. In the pile of possessions of one of the female giants was an ornate cage containing a green pseudo dragon. Thistledown tried to free the small dragon, but the door to the cage was protected by a spell. Rather than risk a battle to capture the dragon and possibly discover more about the giants, we decided to rapidly return to town. We each grabbed a couple acorns from the trees prior to teleporting out. I believe someone took an acorn or small tree to the outside world at the queen's request.

Back at the mill, we attempted to identify the dwarven mantle. All we discovered was that it was a relic and its abilities could not be determined through spells. I gave it to Avery and he tested it out. It temporarily turned Avery into a stone giant. The mantle was given to Rukhs so that he could be the main smasher of our party.

What will happen next? I haven't got a clue. We are relatively safe at the moment. That concerns me. I better put down my quill and draw my sword.

Entries 24 and 25: November 15, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

So where were we? We returned from Huvat Vex in time to be in Tegel Village for the Feast of the Dead. Hedda, Master of Falling, was resurrected. We found out that dopplegangers have been coming up from the Cliff House. They're impersonating townsfolk including some of our own party members. They're also trying to kill Hedda with the dreck poison. Come to think of it, is Blackfingers the Brownie really dead or was the body we found just a doppleganger with crap all over his hands? Blackfingers and the dopplegangers clearly each had access to the dreck poison and both were well within reach of their own backsides. Something to consider.

We went to the barrows and rescued the Greenleaf family. We were able to retrieved all of some of them and some of all of them. On the journey, we killed numerous undead, one man who wielded an axe and thought he was a deity until he ran into our swords, several evil cultists, and a couple monsters cleverly disguised as treasure. We brought the spoils of our brief adventure back to the mill - a captured cultist and a treasure-eating sack. The cultist told Hune that his deity was not dead and would eventually feast on the people of Tegel Village. From now on we burn the body of every pseudo-deity we meet. The cultist also let slip that his group was guarding the road to the north on the orders of a frost giant. A little birdy told us that the frost giant is actually a dragon named Stronghome. Avery spoke with a doppleganger that Evan had killed while we were at the barrows and found out that Ruang Rump is hiding out at the Cliff House and controlling the dopplegangers. The orcs are involved as well. We set up a series of inconspicuous hand signals to identify our true selves to each other just in case.

As a fun diversion to kill time waiting for the feast to begin, we returned to the shambler cave to do some real killing and fulfill a long-time quest for Evan and his family. I served as a damage receiving distraction while the rest of the party turned the giant shambler into coleslaw. Then we returned to town and awaited the Witching Hour.

Thistledown and I went northeast just before midnight to help Captain Reem and his colleagues hunt werewolf. The rest of the party headed west to investigate some strange wailing sounds rapidly approaching the village. We slew the werewolf fairly easily, but the corpse turned out to be Blackbark the Ranger who had recently gone missing. One mystery solved... I guess. The other side of town proved to be more of a test. Legend holds that if you die on the night of the Feast of the Dead, you become an angry ghost. Apparently the legend is true. A ship of pirates called Nymph's Surprise sailed up the coast from Dragonsford and crashed on the rocks near the village. The members of the crew that weren't killed came racing towards Tegel Village closely pursued by the ghosts of those that had been killed in the wreck.

The ghosts let out a wail frightening poor little Hune and Rukhs, causing them to run away. Avery was hit by a ghost and seemed temporarily less wise than his normal, extremely wise self. The group retreated to the church along with five survivors of the shipwreck, including Rudderless Rufus who claimed there was a box of gold on their ship. A second survivor, Kirk Cedarlink, told us that he had traveled to Tegel to kill dopplegangers. Once we had all re-grouped at the church, we decided to go ghost hunting. We left the ailing Hedda and the unsearched body of Blackbark in the church with the pirates. Not our best decision I'm sure, but probably only slightly below average. Evan had eyes seeing everywhere so at least we weren't completely ignorant to what was going on. While searching for the ghosts, Evan improved his eyesight even further and was able to see the shipwreck. He did see a large chest on board the ship as the pirates described, but he also saw man-like creatures with webbed feet attempting drag the chest into the sea.

When we got near the White Chapel, the ghosts re-appeared. This time we were ready for them with the whole party back together. Evan summoned a hound archon to ward us from the ghosts. Avery turned a couple of the ghosts and Evan blasted them with an ice storm. One ghost attempted to take possession of me but failed. We all attacked the ghost and were able to destroy it. Two other ghosts attempted to flee but we destroyed them as well.

Now we're at a decision point. Four more ghosts are out there somewhere, probably attacking the village. The chest of gold is being pulled into the sea. The real werewolf is still on the lose. The dopplegangers are on the loose too. Rogue pirates are in the town church, and the secret meeting of Doak and company is about to start. What do we do? At least one of us has made a decision. An enraged Rukhs is running down the path towards the wrecked ship. We always do much better when we stick together. Then again, being killed during the Feast of the Dead turns you into an angry ghost. Could be fun.

Verse 1 of the Song of the Feast of the Dead

Don't go to bed,
It's the Feast of the Dead,
It's the Night we all dread,
So please keep your head,
As I already said,
It's the Feast of the Dead,

This year we've invited,
Two lovers delighted,
'Till once they were sited,
By wife who so spited,
Love wrongly requited,
Their bed she ignited,

Forget not the ghouls,
Flunked out of our schools,
Two handy young fools,
While crafting some stools,
Drilled holes with their tools,
Ignoring the rules,

A dwarven group four,
We speak with no more,
Oft' mentioned in lore,
Dug deep the mine's floor,
Outside rain did pour,
Who opened the door?,

More than one ghost,
May come eat our roast,
Most gracious we'll host,
"Good health" we will boast,
Then offer a toast,
To those we miss most,

The soup may taste gummy,
The sauce not so plumby,
The dead, starved, and dummy,
Save room in your tummy,
Give thanks to your mummy,
Then eat, yum, yum, yummy.

Don't go to bed,
It's the Feast of the Dead,
It's the Night we all dread,
So please keep your head,
As I already said,
It's the Feast of the Dead.

Entry 26: November 16, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

It's been a quiet night so far... a shambling mound, a few ghost pirates, a ranger werewolf, merfolk, a sea serpent, a secret meeting, more ghost pirates, and numerous other strange goings on. I covered much of our deeds in my last entry. I left off shortly before our assault on the merfolk at the scene of the wrecked pirate ship.

This installment begins (as most installments begin) with the party chasing after Rukhs The Enraged. This time he was rushing down to the shore to attack merfolk. All of us joined the chase except for Evan who mysteriously disappeared. We saw 3 guards, 4 workers, and one merfolk leader on the deck of the wrecked ship. The merfolk guards swam to shore immediately after spotting us. We fired arrows at them to slow their advance. The flipper-footed ones were tricky though. They cast sticky webs at us while also creating mirror images of themselves. I got fed up and jumped into the water to go after the leader. My attack on the ship stalled as quickly as it began. I sank in the sand at the water's edge under the weight of my armor (one of the drawbacks of being the team tank).

A merfolk guard hit Rukhs and he fell to the ground. Fortunately Rukhs was only temporarily under the influence of a sleep charm. Hune killed two guards and still managed to beat me to the ship as I slowly waddled forward. A major battle soon ensued on the ship. Hune and I took down the merfolk leader and a re-enraged Rukhs and Avery took out some of the workers. Then it happened. Rukhs, still frothing at the mouth, dove into the water after an escaping merfolk worker. Avery bravely went after Rukhs not knowing that a sea serpent was waiting for the two of them beneath the waves.

We finished off the merfolk on the ship and found a large treasure chest as had been described by one of the pirates. The chest was too heavy to move. It had a puzzle lock and was perilously close to falling into the sea to be lost forever. Thistledown, Hune, and I worked on the puzzle while Avery rescued Rukhs from the giant sea serpent. Hey, someone has to be a hero and save the treasure. Sea serpents are a dime a dozen, but treasure is the rarest of rare finds. Avery was able to slow the serpent by blasting it with electricity. The rest of us used our extraordinary brain power to unlock the chest. It was one of those things where the answer seems like it's right in front of you. Anyway, not only did we get gold from the chest, we also found a sword, a lantern, shackles, and a potion of invisibility. Also of note, Avery eventually returned to the group after he finished goofing around under the water and told us that the sea serpent wore a merfolk-sized saddle on its back.

We returned to town wet and smelling of seaweed. Before we could catch our collective breath, we saw hooded people entering the Sweetvine residence via the secret enterance. Hune tried to sneak in invisibly while we hid outside. Hune, in his full nimbleness, tripped and fell as he attempted to pass through the door. Luckily a commotion outside distracted the guards at the door. The four remaining pirate ghosts had arrived at our location. While we dealt with the ghosts, Hune was able to gather quite a bit of valuable information inside the house. The members of the secret group dis-robed and Hune was able to identify all of them. The group consisted of Dirk Dashing, Doak Hillman, Hobb Darkwing, Hasnover, Gustav Blackguard, Hobart Hornblower, Phineous Foambringer, Philo Plump, Macallan Spadehigh, Salmon Sterndale, Winton Sweetvines, and Samuel Whetstone, aka pretty much everyone in Tegel Village but us and Captain (I've got my eye on everything) Reem. Hiding invisibly in a corner, Hune overheard something about the mystery of the Order of the Golden Scale. The group discussed trying to locate a golden dragon scale that could theoretically be used to open the tomb of Redurn Rump. Good to know.

Meanwhile out back, we engaged the ghosts. Avery used the evil BACA item to charm two ghosts. Reem appeared in the distance and I called to him and his party to help fight the ghosts. Luckily Avery and I didn't need any help. We were able to destroy or turn all the ghosts. Thistledown was keeping busy as well. She followed the non-undead pirates as they ventured into town to do nefarious pirate things. She blasted them with confusion and entangle spells causing them to wimper and flee like little children.

So far, the night has been at least a moderate success. However, we are low on spells and health, and as they say, the night is still young. We are in no condition to fight more ghosts, werewolves, or other undead creatures. Perhaps it's time to lock the doors and pack it in for the night. Perhaps not.

Entry 27: November 16, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

We all survived the Feast of the Dead despite several close calls. Fortunately, we never ended up running from the rampaging ghost of Rukhs. Chasing after the rampaging, real Rukhs is exciting enough. When we weren't fighting ghosts, we spent the remainder of the night learning more about the Redurn Rump society. Hune found out that figurines made from moonstone can be placed in the niches of Redurn Rump's tomb to open it and reveal the vast treasure within. I personally don't believe the rumors about the treasure. It's more likely that there's a treasure-eating monster inside. At a minimum, it's loaded with skeletons, zombies, and ghosts.

Hune learned that the society had found several of the moonstone figurines that supposedly open the tomb. A secret door under the smoking dragon in Sweetvines' basement concealed one of them, a red fox. He promptly confiscated it using his useful, if less-than-honorable, skills. Phineas Foambringer and Doak Hillman were mentioned as possessors of other figures. The society is still looking for a member of the Order of the Five Scales. We don't know anything about the Order or how they can help open the tomb.

Following our standard operating procedure, we decided to go the tomb and place the miniature fox in various niches hoping to get lucky. Upon placing the fox in the second row, ninth column, the fox disappeared. Given that it was the third niche out of 80 that we tried, either we were very lucky or more than one niche may be activated by a figurine. Actually, 'lucky' is a bit of an overstatement. There was no change to the tomb and we were out one figure. Clearly additional research is necessary. According to Rukhs, a property of the moonstone causes it to glow only during a full moon. Last night was a full moon so we may have some time before we can try again.

Our plans turned towards attempting to steal Doak's figurine. Why not pick on Doak? We do have reason to believe that the evil Doak was a doppleganger, but what the heck. Before we could get started, a new swarm of ghosts headed into town. We recognized the disembodied shapes of the six cultists and their unkillable(?) leader who we left dead in the barrows earlier in the evening. I summoned Reem and his guards to the fray. More as a distraction than any chance of help, Hune alerted Doak that a new set of attackers were approaching. The ghosts surrounded our party and the Tegel guards in the center of town.

Avery and I turned several of the ghosts causing them to temporarily flee. Evan cast fireballs and lightning bolts while the rest of the group swung their swords. As the battle raged, Thistledown kept an eye on Doak.

Sure enough, instead of arming himself, she witnessed Doak grabbing a purple falcon figurine from one of the shelves in his store and taking it up to his private chambers. Clearly he was wary after the minor commotion we had caused at the re-scheduled secret meeting. Thistledown rapidly made her move while the noise of the fight outside covered her actions. She cast a permanent image on a rock turning it into a duplicate of the falcon. She found an upstairs window away from the Hillman family, smashed it, and made the swap of the fake item with the real one. She barely escaped before Doak's wife realized she was there.

Meanwhile, our attack and spells had disrupted the ghosts. I suggested we head toward the church. Close on our heals was the leader ghost, this time accompanied by 4 pirate ghosts. The ghosts could not enter the church. Fearlessly, we left the sanctuary of the church to meet them outside and do battle. Rukhs convinced Father Goodweather to drench us in holy water as we exited the church. I attempted to turn more of the ghosts but failed. Instead of turning, Avery pulled out the Baca coin. It glowed an evil light. He used it to destroy two of the ghosts. It helped our position considerably, although I have a bad feeling the cursed item will kill Avery before long.

Quickly the remaining ghosts were on us and the fight intensified. Evan summoned gryphons into the fray. In one instant, Hune and I were disrupting one of the pirate ghosts, but unfortunately a town guard dropped after having been swiped by another ghost. We focused our attention on the leader. He was fierce, but realizing he was outnumbered, he attempted to flee. All of our swords sliced through him before he could get away and he was dead... again.

We re-entered the church and healed ourselves. Before we could clean our swords though, ghosts of the harpies we killed in Huvat Vex early in the morning flew towards the church. Evan blasted them with bolts of lightning, but they wouldn't go away. Since they did not threaten the rest of the town, we remained in the church. Eventually they flew off as dawn approached. We rested and regained our strength. The longest day ever had come to an end.

In the morning, we gathered information prior to heading back into the breach. Thistledown heard Sterndale talking about how the fox figurine had mysteriously appeared below the table in which it was stored. Avery used his clerical talents to speak with the recently deceased remains of Blackbark. Blackbark said that he had been bitten by a werewolf years ago. He wore an amulet to control the disease. The amulet was recently stolen by Ratchet. Blackbark's dying (or slightly thereafter) wish was for revenge to be exacted on Ratchet and the amulet to be taken back. He told us that Ratchet is a wererat who is currently in league with Roughneck Rump.

Ignoring for the moment that an invasion of giants and orcs is imminent, our immediate goal is to deal with the dopplegangers and Ruang Rump. We also need to track down a member of the Order of the Five Scales, get the other figurines, get the treasure from the tomb, and kill Ratchet. Perhaps one day we will enter Tegel Manor as well. No rest for the weary.

Entry 28: November 16, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

"There's magic for sale, there's magic for sale" the young lad shrieked, awaking us from a well-earned slumber. He had run from town to the mill to notify Hune, Pied Piper of Tegel, that Doak Hillman had announced the sale of many wondrous new magic items. Hune gave the little boy a treat and sent him on his way. We trekked to town to see if the rumors were true. We arrived just in time to see Doak unveil his latest treasures. Sure enough, garishly displayed in the window of the Hillman Exchange were magical swords, cloaks, armor, and a flying stone disk among other amazing pieces of magic. Stilingfleet the Shrewd was there to see them. He had one eye on the magic items and one eye on us. We carefully checked out the goods and their price tags. For a mere 200,000 gp, anyone could be the proud owner of a shiny new sword or wand. If only we could find a way to open Rump's tomb. Surely we'd be rolling in gold and we could purchase all the powerful magic items we could ever want. For now, the dancing harp will have to save the party.

We decided to put our rusty old swords to use and headed toward the Cliff House with Kirk Cedarlink in tow. To our surprise, we discovered horse tracks outside the house. Thistledown followed the tracks and reported that they traveled along a path to Eventide. Evan decided that scouting a limited area was the slow way to get things done. He waved his arms and there were eyeballs everywhere. Avery was even more impatient than Evan and stormed through the front door without so much as a "Tallyho!". That strategy worked well for the first few steps. However, at the end of the hallway a pit in the floor opened up and an invisible creature launched a surprise attack on him. The creature began to shriek, alerting enemies for miles around that Avery had arrived. Fortunately Avery is pretty tough. And his companions, well, let's just say we got game. Avery, Hune, and I were able to slay the creature taking minimal damage. The rest of the party searched the hallway for a secret door and found one.

We made our way into the house and surprisingly did not encounter any immediate resistance. The Cliff House was decorated with all things reminiscent of sailing and sailors. Off of the main room was a door to another room, a set of stairs going up, and a blank wall. Rukhs' special eyesight detected a secret door in the wall. Avery ran to the secret door and opened it. Behind it was the shimmering figure of a man holding a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other.

We readied ourselves for combat. Evan conjured a salt mephit and torched the lavishly decorated empty room next to the one we were in just for show. Hune and Avery were attacked by "glimmer man" who turned out to be Ruang Rump. As I moved in to attack, two men came down the stairs. Before I could change direction to help, Rukhs pushed his magic button and charged the men on the stairs.

Both battles rapidly turned in our favor. Rukhs slaughtered the men (who were really dopplegangers) and Ruang Rump surrendered after having inflicted only minor damage to Avery and Hune. Not everything was under control though. Rukhs charged up the stairs, looked right, veered left, and kept running even after his feet no longer touched the floor. He fell two stories into the pit we had skillfully avoided on the bottom floor. Kirk Cedarlink attempted to scrounge the treasure from the dead doppleganger bodies instead of helping Rukhs. At the same time, Ruang Rump held up a vial and offered us a deal. He told us not to attack or he would break the vial. He claimed the vial would protect Hune and Avery from the poison they had received from his blades. We allowed him to surrender, taking the vial and binding him with our magical shackles. We searched him and found additional vials of poison and several daggers.

We dragged Rump along with us as we searched the rest of the house. Rukhs, no longer frothing, climbed out of the pit and joined us as we checked out the upper floor. I saw Rump smile as his poison kicked in making Avery and Hune temporarily less dexterous. Note to Hune: even assassins occasionally tell the truth.

In Rump's room we found a moonstone dolphin and a glowing key. In the adjacent room we discovered a locked chest. When we attempted to move the key to the room with the chest, the key disappeared and reappeared in its original resting place. You get one guess as to what happened when we tried to move the chest to the room with the key, and the first guess doesn't count. Also in the room with the chest was a magical clock. Kirk grabbed the clock claiming excitedly that it was his fairly heirloom. After some questioning, we determined that he was telling the truth and most generously allowed him to take the clock and leave.

Hune had been keeping an eye on the stairs and noticed Doak Hillman sneaking around on the ground floor. Hune snuck down and attacked Doak, killing him in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the visage of Doak dissolved into that of a doppleganger. Searching the "once and possibly future" Doak, we found a note saying, "House invaded, warn the potion maker".

So where do we stand now? We need to find a way to unlock the chest. We need to question Ruang Rump. We need to kill ... Hedda? Maybe the note refers to another potion maker, someone who is more of a challenge to kill than Hedda. So many things to figure out. So few Speak with Dead spells.

Entry 29: November 16, 888.

My dear and unfortunate lily-livered scallywag,

When last I left off with my diligent note taking, we were at the Cliff House. The dreaded assassin, Ruang Rump, surrendered to us and we bound him in magical shackles confiscated from pirates. "Curse ye' infernal, scurvy tainted, plank walkin' arrr, arrr, arrr...". Upstairs in the main sleeping quarters of the house, Avery (one last "arrr") was drilling holes in the walls of the once pristine mansion to get at the booty in Rump's magical chest. The bearded one's efforts paid off as the chest contained a set of dwarven-sized plate mail. We searched the other rooms and discovered no more treasure, but we did find a stairway cleverly concealed along one edge of the house. The narrow, rickety stairs led down.

With Rump in tow, we carefully descended the stairway. At the bottom, about 30 feet below ground level, we came upon a large room with three doors on the wall nearest the stairs and three cages on the opposite wall. Carefully looking and listening from the doorway, we were able to determine a few things about the room. There were recent footprints leading from the stairs to the far door and muffled sounds could be heard behind the near door. Also, I spotted a furry creature in one of the cages. Realizing this was probably a trap, we entered the room and spread out.

Deep war cries bellowed forth as several frost giants stormed out from behind the doors. From the opposite direction, loud growling accompanied the three ferocious bears that sprung towards us from the cages. A great melee ensued. Hune, Rukhs, Avery, and I lashed out with our swords, knives, and axes while Evan cast lightning spells and summoned hound archons to fight on our behalf. Thistledown hovered near the ceiling and pelted the bears with arrows. The largest of the bears enveloped Rukhs and he was unable to escape. Another bear tried to grapple me while Hune and Avery took on the giants.

Gradually, the battle turned in our favor. The bears dropped one by one and we were able to focus our attack on the evil giants. The last giant achieved a temporary reprieve by surrendering to us. However, the damage had been done. Rukhs lay slain on the dungeon floor, bear claws protruding from his back.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Avery had found time in his extremely busy schedule to study some powerful new magic. He lit a few candles around Rukhs and began a brief ceremony, waving his arms and chanting to his deity. The he snapped his fingers, and a flash of light appeared. Rukhs suddenly opened his eyes, raised himself to a seated position, and coughed up the largest fur ball in the history of the realm. There was much rejoicing.

The celebration didn't last long because we needed to continue scouting the area. We searched the dead giants and bears and found nothing of value on them. It's worth noting that their clothing was embellished with the symbol of a red hand. We also questioned the subdued giant, but he didn't have much information to add except that the red hand was the symbol of his clan and that he had come from a series of caverns beneath our current location. Two of the doors from which the giants appeared led to small rooms with no exits. Beyond the far door, a set of stairs led down. Evan sent an archon down the stairs but it did not return. We heard the sounds of an explosion in the distance.

Hune stealthily descended the stairs to investigate. The stairs were wet and mossy. A freshly cut groove in the wall indicated that something large had recently been dragged down them. The stairs emptied out into a small cavern. Inside the cavern Hune saw a strange site. Four zombies were moving about the room. They scooped up bloodroot from a pile in the corner of the room and dropped it into cauldrons of boiling water. Even more strange was the fact that a loud buzzing noise emanated from them. Hune dashed into the room and grabbed some uncooked bloodroot sitting in a pile near the entrance. He retreated up the stairs and gave the bloodroot to Thistledown who needed it to create an antidote for Hedda who could in turn cure Queen Pheobe.

We knew the zombies were not normal zombies, so we decided that rather than swinging at them, Evan would blast them all with an ice storm. Surprisingly enough, our master plan was unsuccessful. The zombies were blown apart by the spell, but they broke apart into clouds of hell wasps which swarmed our position. Cold did more damage to them than fire. Swinging with the flat of a sword or axe could also damage them. They were able to absorb a great deal of damage, and their stings caused some party members to fall to the ground retching. It took many spells and melee attacks to destroy them.

When we entered the cavern after killing the wasps, it was obvious that this was the location from which the attempt to poison the town was being brewed, literally. We knew from previous information gathering that giants and orcs were involved in the plot. Clearly Rump and the dopplegangers were involved as well. We had not had time to question Rump to find out what he was planning. Thistledown noticed that he looked around the cavern expectantly as we entered it but did not find what he was looking for. It was obvious that an ally of his had left the room in a different direction than we had entered.

I blindfolded Rump to make him less of a bother. We found only one other exit from the room and Hune discovered that the door was trapped with a puzzle. Combining our efforts, we calculated that the answer to the puzzle was 23 and that number was spoken. The door swung open revealing a long hallway. Down the hallway we saw a goblin running away from us.

Now we stand at the door. We don't know who the goblin is. We know he casts explosive spells, conspires with assassins to kill innocent people, and is a master brewer of bloodroot poison. Our next task couldn't be more clear.

Entry 30: November 16, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

The words "die goblin scum" echoed down the narrow corridor as we chased after the fleeing potion maker. Gorlak, the wee goblin, drank a potion just before we could squish him. He vanished before our eyes. Not all eyes are made the same however. Rukhs was able to point out his location to the rest of us. Thistledown created an illusory wall to block his escape. Then Avery dispelled the effects of his magical potion so that he became visible once again. The cowardly Gorlak drank a second potion and attempted to escape by flying through the air. Evan called forth a Bralani to attack the goblin as Hune and I charged.

Despite his bevy of beverages, Gorlak did not escape the hallway. As we sliced, diced, and chopped him into goblin bits, Thistledown read his mind learning his final thoughts. In addition to his fear of us, he also wondered how he would get by the dragon. At least we solved one problem for him. Searching Gorlak we found his book of recipes for poison as well as Hedda's spellbook. Hedda thought Rukhs had stolen the book. It must have been a doppleganger servant of Gorlak appearing as Rukhs. We took both books as well as Gorlak's body and continued exploring the area.

We came upon a circular room at the end of the corridor that contained four passages in addition to the one from which we approached. Also in the room was a large table with chairs and a pool of salt water. As I entered the room, a frost giant popped out from beside the door and attacked. A second frost giant ran out through the opposite passage blowing a whistle. Hune and I cleaved the first giant, but the one with the whistle escaped. We tracked him and found that the passage he had gone through ended in a ladder that descended into a pit. We didn't pursue the giant down the ladder. Another room off of that corridor had been walled off by a wooden barrier. Sounds of approaching creatures emanated from other passages, so we decided to leave behind the piles of unseen treasure that were undoubtedly hidden behind the barrier.

Back in the pool room, a bear and two more giants appeared out of the right hand passageway. One giant said to the other giant, "Go get Nightwings," and the one giant ran back the way he had entered. The bear swiped at me with his claws. He instantly realized the folly of damaging a paladin. The giant didn't last much longer.

Having been fighting for quite a while, we decided to return to town and reload before taking on a dragon. However, we did take time to do a cursory exploration of the other passages. One passage went a short distance before being bisected by deep chasm. On the opposite side of the chasm Avery spotted the body of a dead pig. It could have made for some good eats, but the gap was crisscrossed by dense spider webs. Maybe later.

The other passage reached a dead end after only 50 feet or so. A pile of various bones lay on the floor and a hole in the ceiling radiated great evil. We left that dead end for another day. The only other interesting discovery was made by the swimming dwarf who found a narrow opening in the bottom of the pool. Swimming through a narrow gap in the floor of a pool of salt water to who knows where or what... Next!

We made it back in town unscathed. Avery guarded Ruang Rump and read Gorlak's notes. Besides brewing instructions for bloodroot, he found musings on the dreck as well. I visited Samuel Whetstone who promised me a great treasure for all the slain giants. Thistledown returned Hedda's spellbook to her and cleared up any misunderstandings between Hedda and Rukhs. Evan went to see Zebulon the wizard ... (details missing) ... and returned a man. Most importantly, Hune arranged for a secret trial of Ruang Rump involving our group, Linus, Reem, Father Goodweather, and Stillingfleet scheduled for tonight at the mill.

We tried to extract as much information from Rump as possible prior to his impending death sentence. He told us that Nightwings is a blue dragon who works for the giants guarding the entrance to the Tegel Mines. He also said that he occasionally meets with a black orc named Major Domo Bitterbark in the room with the pool. Finally, he offered to give up the location of the Silver Glade. He said his outlaw brother, Roughneck Rump, is using it as a hideout. He will only tells us how to find it if we set him free.

Is it possible that some evil assassins are merely misunderstood? Growing up a Rump could not have been easy. Imagine what April Fool's Day at the Rump household must have been like.

Entry 31: November 17, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

The trial of Ruang Rump began. Captain Reem, Stilingfleet, Linus, and Father Goodweather joined us at the mill to decide the assassin's fate. Avery argued for the prosecution and I argued for the defense. The fate of the good people of the free world rested on the passionate pleas of the dwarf in that dark-lit judgment chamber on that stormy autumn night. In the end it was decided to let Rump live. The good people of the world got screwed again by the wisdom of those they deemed most upstanding and whom they put all their trust in. Oh well.

Stilingfleet suggested using Ruang as a lure to catch Roughneck Rump. We ended up following Reem's request that our party guard him. (Also of note from the trial was that Stilingfleet didn't seem surprised when Avery revealed the plot to poison the town well.) Outside the mill, Thistledown noticed dozens of unusual creatures flying around our location. Some of them broke off and followed Reem and company as they returned to town. Evan shot a fireball at a group of the flyers and killed three of them. Avery skillfully netted one as it fell. The other two shattered on the ground.

The creature turned out to be an animated bat made out of black, necromantic crystal. Avery wisely cast a spell allowing us to speak with the dead bat. We learned that the bats were sent from Eventide and were similar in design to the crystal snakes we found in Queen Pheobe's lair. The snakes had been powered by souls of dryads. The bat we captured was powered by the soul of one of the caravan drivers that left town about a week ago. So much for the Winterweed harvest. Let's not forget that Tegel Village is first and foremost a sleepy farming hamlet.

The bats were created by a liche named Pnesutt to watch Ruang Rump. Pnesutt believed Rump was close to discovering the source of his evil clan's power. The source was described as a serpent statue residing in an underground ruin called the Dark Tower. The tower is known to be in the center of Eventide. According to the bat, the statue is the source of the Dreck which is somehow being used as source of evil power. In league with Pnesutt is a powerful human named Avvakris.

After a long day, we slept at the mill. Rukhs had another dream about the winged lizard creature. Not knowing were to go next, we decided to return to the Cliff House and continue from where we ended our last adventure. Evan cast a cage spell on Ruang Rump before we left. Hopefully the bad guys don't know how to dispel magic. At least we know that the Rump brothers are supposed to meet tomorrow at dusk on the road north of town.

When we returned to the room with the pool, a trap had been set. It glimmered with blue lightning. Hune disabled the trap and entered the room. The table in the center of the room was totally encased by a slumbering giant. Hune backstabbed the giant only to discover that it was also trapped. He fell into a deep, magical slumber. I entered the room to help Hune. My attention was immediately diverted to a large, floating eye bobbing in the nearest hallway. I charged the beholder as it blasted me with its eye stalks. Unfortunately for the beholder, it chose the wrong person to pick on: the guy with the two-handed sword and resistance to magic. I killed it with two massive blows.

A second beholder was spotted slowly descending through a hole in the ceiling. We all made it through the trapped room and surrounded the hole. Despite its wealth of eyes, the baby beholder never knew what hit it. If only it had the eye capacity of Evan or the super vision of Rukhs. I'm sure the beholder parents will be more perceptive. I wonder if they have treasure.

We made our way across the rift filled with spider webs. I can't say it was graceful. The cavern tunnel transitioned into old construction. Sconces were mounted on the walls of the hallway. They displayed the Rump sigil. Could we be nearing Tegel Manor? Before long we came to a doorway that had a puzzle on it. The puzzle had triangles on it. Evan triangulated the answer and the door opened.

Inside the room were two statues of hobbits. Or possibly the hobbits were not statues at all, but once live, now petrified creatures. Hune went in. As we waited for the stealthy one to de-trap the room, Thistledown's helm beeped with a single word from Hune. "Basilisk!" Not the word you want to hear when you're adventuring with the party o' magical eyes.

I really should spend a few minutes re-checking the spelling of this journal entry. On the other hand, it would be a shame to make it to the first room of Tegel Manor only to have the party turned into oversized doorstops. What the heck, I never mispill anything. It's time to enter the battle with eyes closed. Everyone spread out.

Entry 32: November 17, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

When last I left off documenting our adventures, Hune was petrified, but not in the "turned to stone" sense. Just when we thought it was going to be a quick basilisk stew for dinner, we discovered that basilisks, like Ankhegs, come in pairs. That meant four deadly eyes instead of two. Basilisk eyes are only dangerous when they're open, and we closed all of them before they could do any damage. Avery took out one that was hiding in the corner while the rest of us sliced up the one on Hune.

A door across the room opened into the dark depths of Tegel Manor. As we left the basilisk room, we heard drops of water but didn't see a source. Quietly moving down the hallway, we made a right turn and found ourselves at an intersection. We decided to examine the right passage which ended abruptly in a large room. Various pieces of finery were piled on a table in the center of the room. Along the back wall sat a half dozen big buckets of smelly liquid. To either side of the door stood niches containing mummified remains of humans. We examined the room carefully but found no signs of life or unlife. There were no other exits and nothing of value in the room. I detected evil in the back wall behind the buckets but could find no secret passages. That was it for that room. Or was it? (sung sinisterly- ) Dunt, dunt, daaaaaa.

Taking the left passage in the hallway, Thistledown heard footsteps but no one saw any movement. The winding passage ended in a circular room full of bell-shaped objects carved to look like skulls which were hanging from the ceiling. We still saw no signs of movement. The clappers for the hanging bells were made out of various coins and small gems. They found their way into Hune's pockets. A small tunnel of the "crawl on hands and knees" variety was found at the base of the wall. Hune and I went through to investigate what turned out to be The Room of Angry Clothing. Several coffins were piled with old clothes. When we touched them, they animated, swirled in the air, and attacked us. How do you fight flying skivvies. You have the mage fry them and try to get out of the way. I said "try to get out of the way". Sometimes trying isn't enough. The clothes went up in flames and I was cooked to around medium well.

There were two other items of significance in the room. The first was a small, hollowed out section of the wall which housed a jeweled heart inside a glass jar. I took the jar and discovered that the heart radiated great evil. Thistledown was strangely interested in the heart. Also, a concealed door in one corner of the room opened into a triangular closet. Before we could investigate the closet, we heard shouts from back out in the main hallway. Rukhs had gone on walk-about. At least he didn't go on berserk-about. Rukhs decided to check out the first room again and found something that we didn't find the first time, four specters. Apparently they don't like their old clothes to be tousled. Luckily Avery stayed behind and was able to help Rukhs dispose of the specters.

Back in the triangular room, we discovered that it was either a disintegration machine or a transportation device. Hune volunteered to take the first ride. After a minute, we hadn't heard any screams and Hune had not returned, so we all went through one at a time. The room to which we teleported was ancient crypt. In the crypt was the mummified body of a giant man. The room also contained four statues of men, numerous books, and works of art. The dead man had a magical sword, necklace, and a nice cloak. Hune told us about a ghostly semblance of a woman who appeared in the room when he first entered and examined the body. She did not speak or take offensive action, but she did indicate that she would return, then she disappeared. Avery identified the giant man as Rigat Rump. I don't know anything about his history.

When we were done searching, Hune opened the only other door in the room. Behind it was a room with a pentagram on the floor and one sarcophagus at each of the five points. Three of the sarcophagi contained mummified remains and the other two held only dust. Searching the pentagram room, we found two secret doors. One led directly into a room piled with dead bodies long in decay. A small chamber at the back housed another sarcophagus. We didn't open the other door. Thistledown heard extremely large, crunching footsteps coming from far in the distance behind the door slowly approaching our location. Before we could check out the room with the big heap of carcasses, several zombies popped out of the pile and attacked us, however we totally outmatched them.

At that point, retreat was the wise course of action, but Avery just had to know. He entered the chamber at the back of the room and opened the coffin. Before he knew it, he was face-to-face with a vampire of the Rump persuasion. It was fast and deadly. I stepped in and took the brunt of the attack. Avery blasted the vampire with light, Evan summoned a creature behind it, and Hune and I hacked it. It was very difficult to damage, but eventually it vanished with a poof. Looking in the coffin, Avery saw the body of the evil Rosianna Rump inside. Also in the coffin was a riddle. Long ago Rosianna had been possessed by a powerful vampire, possibly the one approaching our location. Evan solved the riddle and finally put the lovelorn Rosianna to permanent rest.

We found an exit back to near where we entered the Manor. Going further up the main hallway, we came upon a room with a couple zombies and a dead body dressed in 200 year old minstrel clothing. The hallway continued past that room. Adjacent to it was a very large assembly room with a stage and an opening to a room beyond on the opposite wall. A thunking noise could be heard behind the stage. All of a sudden, Thistledown looked back from whence we came and saw a massive vampire blocking our exit. Avery recognized him as Rigormortis Rump. We were barely able to kill his underling.

I wouldn't say we ran away so much as re-grouped back in town. Evan teleported most of the party back to the mill. Avery and I took the long way out, windwalking down the portal and buzzing the blue dragon in the cavern below before heading out.

Okay, we know were the trouble is, basically all around us. Who do we deal with first, vampires, liches, assassins, dragons, other? I hope Ruang Rump is still at the mill.

Entry 33: November 17, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

When we returned to the mill after an exciting morning of fighting clothes and vampires, a curious note was posted on the mill door. The note was a poem telling us how to get into the tomb of Redurn Rump. There was no name on it to indicate who left the note. My guess is that Stilingfleet left it, although I'm curious to know who our hidden ally really is. The poem indicated that there is some sort of map to go along with the small animal statues that we already know must be placed in the niches of the tomb during the full moon. The poem also included the line "Inside the relics light the gloom to carry out their doom." We have several weeks to find the map, pilfer the statues, and hopefully learn more about what the "doom" is.

Thistledown and I journeyed to town to show Hedda the magical crystal heart that I found in the Barbequed Paladin Room in Tegel Manor. Thistledown thought that Hedda knew how to use the heart to cure Queen Phoebe. Hedda, in her weakened state, was temporarily overcome by the evil aura of the heart, so we will have to try again once she's had more time to recover. Meanwhile, in a tavern across town, hollow-leg Rukhs learned some interesting information from one of his drinking buddies. A rumor was going around town that the pirates from the wrecked pirate ship had gone off in the direction of the ship to search for lost treasure.

A decision was made to return to the ruins of the Bluestone dwarves rather than chase after the pirates. Rukhs was having strange lizard dreams again and there were some areas of the ruins we had yet to explore. The ruins were much more hospitable this time around. No lizards, orcs, skeletons, or giants were seen. First, we picked up the remaining jewels in the room of small statues. More creaking noises could be heard in the distance as Hune removed jewels from eye sockets, but nothing bad came storming out of a cage after the last jewel was removed, at least as far as we know. We have not yet tried to locate the source of the noises.

Above the miniature statue room, we discovered another long abandoned room guarded by life-sized gargoyle statues. The statues were somehow carved by the Bluestone dwarves from uncuttable stone. Empty crypts lined the side walls of the room and a green drapery covered the back wall. In addition, a secret door was found near one of the gargoyles. That door opened into a small chamber containing a single humanoid creature who appeared to be a Bluestone dwarf. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the creature was in fact a construct. It animated and spoke, asking us to choose a champion. Avery pushed Rukhs' knowledge button and Rukhs remember that the dwarven king's staff might be useful in dealing with a guardian construct. Avery, a.k.a. Total Recall, remembered where the staff was in the dungeon and he retrieved it. Using the staff, Rukhs commanded the construct to let us pass and it did.

We found ourselves on a ledge above the rift that bisects the ruins. The area near the ledge was filled with spider webs. Enter flame boy who took care of spiders and webs with a single blast. At the bottom of the rift, a river flowed from left to right as we faced it. Our handy, dandy dungeoneer determined that said river was actually a subterranean river. Awesome! Thistledown employed a useful skill and spotted a small ledge and a door on the opposite wall of the rift slightly downstream. Rather than trying to swim in armor, Thistledown flew across and fastened a rope to the door which the rest of us used to traverse the gap.

The door was not trapped which was suprising because behind it was none other than a treasure room. The fact that the door wasn't trapped should have been the first clue. Actually, finding a treasure room in the dungeon should have been the first clue. Another clue was the seal on each chest that Rukhs' recognized as the seal of an evil high priest from ancient times. One chest was open and empty. I wonder what poor soul opened that one. Hune and I opened the others. We found bags of gold, a magical dagger, a potion, a mirror, an axe, a brooch, an anklet, a sword, and a shield. A small passage led out of the room to even greater treasure, a magical boat. Rukhs recognized it as having belonged to the Bluestone dwarven king. We grabbed the treasure in the chests and the magical apparatus that powered the boat.

Before we could leave, Hune and I were attacked by magical floating mouths. The mouths could be damaged by swords, but would simply reappear regardless of how much damage they took. We had no spells to remove them. Hune and I ran back to town as the mouths continually nipped at our backsides. Thistledown flew ahead and located Father Goodweather. They eventually met up with us and the priest was able to quickly banish the evil curses. (I'm getting tired of evil things that you can't kill with a sword. They can just bi ... never mind.)

We returned to the ruins to investigate the rooms near the gargoyles. One room contained a golden throne which Rukhs recognized as the throne of Aburkham (?) The Mage. According to ancient lore, he attempted an insurrection against the Bluestone Dwarves that failed, leading to his imprisonment along with his magical golden throne. We found no way to use the throne, although I don't know how much time the spellcasters spent examining it because Hune and I wandered off to examine the room behind it. That room turned out to be a trap. Had we sprung it, we would have gotten very wet.

Our immediate path is blocked by trapped doors. However, there's a shaft in the ceiling leading up. Is it a way out, a way to more unexplored areas, or another trap? And we never discovered the source of what sounded like gates opening when Hune removed the jewels. We get treasure, hear gates opening, and ... nothing. I'm not buying it. If we didn't just release the Lorekeeper, something's wrong. There's also a lizard diety and a magical golden throne to do something with. So what should we do? A voice inside my head is saying, "Save the dwarf, save the world." Is it Thistledown's voice, or am I going crazy? I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

Entry 34: November 17, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

An eerie quiet complemented the stale air that refused to stir even as Hune, Avery, and I approached the stone sarcophagus that had lain untouched for centuries in a dark corner of the seemingly endless complex carved deep into the hard earth in ages past by the Bluestone dwarves, a once noble then tragically corrupted race long lost in the fog of history after discovering the strange city of Huvat Vex and the evil Lorekeeper, but about to be awakened in whatever form it took now, in the our age, an age for new heroes to emerge none-too-soon to do great deeds and, if possible, save an isolated community of men, women, and children, the pitiful few as they were called by some, yet every bit as worthy of salvation as any lost soul born into a near hopeless existence where evil reigned supreme and fear was a dish served cold for breakfast, lunch, and most certainly at dinner time when the sky grew dark once again and creatures who impersonated life and worshipped those who mastered corruption and evilness were free to roam, howling at the pale light of the moon, hideous minions of the unholy and undead who touched any who dared to so much as draw a deep breath from under their tattered blankets as they feigned sleep for yet another night, instead praying, devotedly but with little hope, that the sun would rise the next morning so that they could temporarily resume their desperate lives and eventually die an unclean death in the cozy little village near the sea that they called home.

Then we killed a bunch of stuff, talked to a nice sphinx lady, and went back to town. The end.

Wait, found another bottle of ink. Let's see, where was I...

What great deed we would be called upon to do next? A similar premonition circulated in each of our heads. Rukhs the Learned informed us that the seal on the coffin was that of the legendary dwarven king named E'head. King E'head, it is written, sacrificed his daughters to the evil Lorekeeper before the dwarves rose up and killed him. The priests of Moradin then cursed him with eternal unlife. The dusty seal bore notice to even the bravest adventurer that any sane creature should flee immediately and never return. We opened the casket.

The lid exploded temporarily stunning Avery. Hune and I swung at the mummy king as his black sword, Thirster, an evil weapon that had rested by his side for hundreds of years, once again cut through the air. In the adjacent room, a handful of skeletons emerged from a side door to engage Rukhs, Evan, and Thistledown. The skeletons' bones had a metallic shine to them. One skeleton wielded a black wand. He spoke with the voice of General Ironwill, a necromancer who was once a power lieutenant to the Lorekeeper himself, "Long have I lain here, storing up my hatred for those who have entombed my brethren. Now they shall be unleashed on those who have wronged them!"

Our greatest battle to date ensued. Evan struck the metallic skeletons with lightning and summoned an earth elemental to battle the General. Avery cast spells to strengthen us and turned several skeletons. Hune and I swung, and Rukhs became Mega-Rukhs. Our blades cut the mummy down , but each time we killed skeletons more appeared. The General would be destroyed only to reappear to hurl missiles at us again. His wand was sundered by the earth elemental, but that didn't stop his onslaught. It was Rukhs who realized that his spirit was traveling between skeleton corpses. We smashed all of the bones to bits and the General's plan was defeated. The battle was won.

All that was left to do was collect the treasure and examine the three small crypts attached to the main room. In the crypts we found the bodies of dwarven princes Sevat and Tevas. Legend has it that they slaughtered many innocent Bluestone dwarves until their own father had them put to death. We also discovered the bodies of Iyolov and Rupilon, two high priests. They were rumored to have attempted to overthrow the King. When they failed, they were imprisoned here, alive, to die slow deaths in this dark dungeon. A chest carved from the stone of the chamber in which the priests were imprisoned was found. The top of the chest was made of a transparent crystal. In it sate a black sword that radiated evil. Presumably the crystal top allowed the priests to see their prized possession but not be able to touch it. Hune found a secret compartment in the chest containing two vials and a scroll.

During the course of our search, the door to the middle crypt closed on its own trapping Avery and I inside. The air began to move, exiting the room through small slits. Breathing became difficult. Hune, Master of Locks, was able to open the door before the air ran out. I (don't say it) owe (stop!) Hune a favor for getting me out of that one (ughh).

Before we left the dwarven ruins, Avery wanted to investigate the room containing the statue of a man with a lion's head that we had seen but not searched many adventures ago. As we entered the room, the statue animated and the wall turned bright red. The creature moved to attack. Had we entered the room during our previous adventure, we might have been killed. Now the creature was no match for us. However, another strange creature entered the room angry that we had killed her companion. We decided to speak before acting, explaining that we were merely defending ourselves.

The creature's name is Ontussa, a sphinx. She led us down a long hallway through a magical barrier to a trapped platform. We traded with her, our books for her knowledge. She told us that more lizard creatures were coming within the next month to release the Immortal King. She also promised us information on the Lorekeeper.

The day is not over, but we need rest. Tomorrow Roughneck Rump is coming to town.

Entry 35: November 17-18, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

The latest chapter of our story began calmly but would not end that way. We finished our chat with the librarian sphinx before returning to town. Rukhs was able to piece together the history of the Immortal King. It turns out that when the Rumps chose a nice spot to settle down and start a small village, they plopped themselves right on top of the "tunnel through the world". Talk about your bad breaks. To make matters worse, the lizard race known as the Ssruthu had discovered the area much earlier. They built Huvat Vex in the first age of man and established a society with four castes. Then one bad egg came along, literally, and emerged to later become known as the Immortal King. He destroyed the rest of the ruling caste and sustained his existence far into the future in lich form. When the Bluestone Dwarves haplessly dug their way into Huvat Vex, the Immortal King created a new cavern miles below the first cavern. In the process, he weakened himself and was placed in temporary stasis to recover. The dwarves explored the caverns and discovered an evil spring which fueled the destructive cult of the Lorekeeper. It was not until the third age of man that orcs appeared on the scene and destroyed all but a few of the dwarven priests. Those priests cast a mighty spell to destroy the orcs. It should be noted that the Orcs of the Bloody Claw came to the area more recently and are not those mentioned in the legend. We also learned that the Lorekeeper appears to adventurers when they are near death either as friend or foe, a fact that would unfortunately be confirmed later in the day.

Once we made it back to town, Avery tried out a new spell he had learned. The results were very interesting. He was able to scry Roughneck Rump. He saw through Roughneck's eyes without him knowing about it. Roughneck was sitting in the branches of an enormous tree northwest of town looking out over Tegel Village. Directly below him, horses were tethered in a field. We recognized the location as the recently lost Silver Glade where Roughneck was rumored to be hiding. Thistledown triangulated the location of the glade from Avery's description and flew off to recon the area. Each time she flew near the glade she became disoriented and did not regain her bearings until she became aware that she was flying away from her target in a random direction. Given the new information and previous hints, it seems that only horses can see through the magical barrier and enter the glade.

After being thwarted at the glade, Thistledown, Rukhs, and Avery decided to explore the fishing village. The fishermen were amiable, but did not offer much in the way of useful information. They were guarded when discussing the stories about the captured mermaid. Thistledown detected magic inside a locked chest in one of the huts, but could not open the chest without springing its trap. Meanwhile in town, Hune found out from one of his spies that Stilingfleet bought the non-magical skull pendants that we sold to Doak earlier in the day. Clearly they have some special value we have yet to discover. Dirk Dashing also acquired a cursed sword that we had found in the dwarven ruins. We spent the night at the mill, resting up for what would be a very busy following day.

The Immortal King was quickly becoming a major problem. We had killed his minions and encased him in a remote part of the dwarven ruins. That wasn't enough. We learned from the sphinx that more minions were on their way and he was getting close to freeing himself from his bonds. The decision was made to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible, so we returned to the underground temple where he stood encased in crystal.

Our advantage was quickly lost as the he began influencing our minds despite the fact that he could not yet move. Rukhs rushed out of the dungeon shouting something about needing to find five lizards for a ritual. Avery lost control and began pounding on the crystal. Despite our efforts to stop him, Avery broke the crystal and the Immortal King was once again free. We did not wait to act. Hune swung from behind while I charged. Evan summoned an earth elemental to join the fray. Avery was able to shrug aside the charm on him and blast the lizard with spells. It looked like we might defeat the creature before he could do any damage. We were wrong. The Immortal King sprang to action and the results were devastating. He conjured bolts of lightning to strike each of us. Thistledown, hovering in the adjoining hallway, was struck as well and dropped to the ground. The rest of us survived the first blast, but the Immortal King was not done. He used the force of his will to overwhelm Hune who ran screaming from the room.

We responded with a determined assault. I swung my sword. At the same time Avery brought forth a beam of bright light to scorch the evil lich. Evan blasted him with spells as well. The combination was lethal. The Immortal King crumbled to the ground seconds before he could finish us off. His body turned to dust leaving behind only a magical, blue mithril ring. From legend, we were aware that creatures of his kind could not be permanently destroyed so easily. His spirit would return to a repository called a phylactery where he could recompose his form. We guessed that the phylactery might be the throne from which he ruled in ancient times.

The party regrouped and a distraught Rukhs volunteered to return to town carrying Thistledown. The rest of us made a brief foray to destroy the throne of Abbarkham which Hune guessed may have originally belonged to the Immortal King only to later be confiscated by the dwarven wizard. The throne had magical powers that prevented it from easily being destroyed. It damaged us when we swung at it, and it caused Hune to take a swipe at Avery (or did it?). We eventually destroyed the throne, but we got the sense that the phylactery was still hidden somewhere in Huvat Vex. We would have to wait until tomorrow to search for it. While destroying the phylactery certainly ranked as a top priority, we had even more urgent things to attend to.

First on the list was resurrecting Thistledown which Avery accomplished much to the relief of the entire party. Thistledown told us of how she saw the visage of the Lorekeeper as she was struck down. We identified the ring which is an extremely powerful dwarven artifact. It enables its wearer to pass through stone as if it were air. If we could find five more of those rings we'd be a pretty formidable party.

Next on the list is the ambush of Roughneck Rump. We are scarred and our magic has been depleted, but that doesn't matter because Roughneck Rump is comin' to town today.

Entry 36: November 18, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

The ambush of Roughneck Rump has officially made us heroes in Tegel Village. Can becoming heroes of the Realm like King Vince and Falstaff Ascendant be far behind? However, like the supposed downfall of the Immortal King, any celebration at this point may be a bit premature. Death is merely an appetizer in the weird feast of the unnatural creatures inhabiting this sleepy little hamlet near the sea in one small corner of... I digress. I could drift even further off course by embellishing the description of the ambush of Roughneck Rump, but the truth is we took Roughneck and his two archer companions totally by surprise and they did not stand a chance. A few swings, some magic missiles for decoration, and the bad guys were history. I should note that the killer bee made her first, but certainly not her last appearance at the waylaying of Roughneck and his men. Avery took his first pony ride too.

Pony rides are a pretty big deal in these parts as I found out back in town when I accidentally mentioned that the RumpRider gang had galloped down the road on horseback. Sorry, the paladin in me slips out every once in a while. I'll try not to let it happen again. We know from the recon bee that there are more horses in the Tegel mines. Those horses are being driven hard by the orcs, for what purpose we don't yet know. We may have to check out the mines some day. We did confiscated a magical ring from Roughneck that allows its wearer safe passage by the blue dragons guarding the mines. We grabbed a second ring that was unrelated to the dragon ring which we later traded with Nobbin to obtain more ammo for the quick-triggered killer bee. Interestingly, Stilingfleet searched Roughneck with the blessing of Father Goodweather, foolishly thinking we might have left something valuable on him. We knew from the trial of Ruang that Stilingfleet wanted something from Roughneck. Perhaps he was looking for the dragon ring. Hopefully he won't try to search us next.

Dirk Dashing was abnormally upset by the death of Roughneck Rump. Avery scried him and found that Dirk quickly rushed off to the north in search of the horses after learning about Roughneck's demise. Avery also used his magic to speak with the recently deceased outlaw, but Roughneck was not in a chatty mood. Runic Rump was more communicative. He was clearly happy about his brother's death yet concerned about the curse of the Rump graveyard. We'll find out tonight if we've seen the last of Roughneck Rump. The fact that Evan has Roughneck's heart in his pocket may have an affect on the proceedings.

With the great Tegel horse search on, we decided not to waste time and rode the horses north to the Silver Glade. We closed our eyes as Hune had done earlier in the day and the horses led us to the magically hidden glade. A massive tree grew in the center of the clearing. Rope bridges connected the huge branches of the tree. On the branches, crude platforms had been constructed. On the platforms, archers waited. On the far side of the tree we could see an old man hanging from a rope high in the air. Around the tree, a number of horses were lazily grazing, having been tethered to pegs in the ground.

Thistledown released two of the horses and led them to the edge of the clearing where we were hiding. A guard came down to gather up the stray horses. When he got near our location, we jumped him and the battle was on. The guards in the tree pulled up their climbing ropes so we could not get to their position and they cut the rope bridges connecting the branches. Avery thwarted their plans by creating a ramp up to the nearest branch allowing us to charge. Not to be outdone, Evan summoned an avoral guardinal, a wind elemental, and a bralani. The flying beasts flung the precariously perched tree- dwellers into the air. To Thistledown, the archers served as target practice. Thanks to the spellcasters, the situation was quickly under control. We re-attached the rope bridges and rescued the old man.

A passage had been carved into the trunk of the tree. A couple of less than courageous highwaymen were hiding inside the tree. They dropped their weapons as we approached. One of them told us that the hole in the tree was carved by Roughneck Rump and that it went all the way to the top of the tree. The other offered a secret in exchange for his life. He showed us a secret compartment containing a chest. Little did he know that he would soon be done in by a tiny bee as he tried to run away. The chest was trapped with a rope cutting puzzle. Inside the chest we found mithril, a cloak, a wand, and a map.

We discovered that the man who had been held captive by the band of outlaws was in fact a druid named Willowman. An enchantment had been placed on him to scramble his memory. The enchantment also affected our memories. We didn't realize until after the enchantment had been dispelled that we were familiar with the man and his good work in these woods.

It's been a busy day. What's the plan from here? Nothing goes as planned, but the list includes: searching the tree and its recently conquered inhabitants, rounding up the horses and hiding them somewhere safe, getting help for Willowman, capturing and questioning Dirk Dashing, possibly locating Ratchet (a wererat and thief who Blackbark fingered as one of Roughneck's companions), and attending the burial of Roughneck Rump and any post-burial happenings.

There's also some other random stuff to deal with like the mines, the Manor, the Immortal King, Queen Phoebe, Stilingfleet, Rump's Tomb, Eventide, the Dreck, dragons, giants, orcs, ...

Entry 37: November 18-19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

My evil plans are finally coming to fruition. The fools, they suspect nothing. In a couple days time, they will be dead and everything will be mine, mine I tell you. "Muahahaha!"

Just making sure my dear and unfortunate reader is awake. It shouldn't be a problem after the excitement of my last journal entry. The day was full of action: the ambush of Roughneck Rump, the re-capture of the Silver Glade, dwarves on ponies, bees, fire, lightning, whirlwinds... The critical element in that action-packed tale was the fact that Roughneck Rump was dead and gone. Correction, Roughneck Rump was dead. At least his henchmen were gone. We completely exterminated the pests infesting the large tree in the center of the Silver Glade. Searching the bodies, we noticed that the archers had a thick, black hide in place of normal skin. Our handy dungeoneer recognized it as adamantine. We had captured a total of 12 horses during the day. The group split up taking five of the horses to the monastery for safe keeping and taking the other seven to the mill. In town, Hune and I looked for a buyer for the extra seven horses. As usual, Doak Hillman tried to lowball us. Sterndale, however, offered us eight thousand gold per horse. He looked unnaturally old and ill as if something wasn't right, but money talks. Arrangements were made for the transaction to be completed later at the mill.

We also questioned a captured highwayman. He said that he had come down from the North Province. He was hired to guard the horses in the glade. He told us that the glade was enchanted prior to his arrival. We took him to Reem and took the Willowman to Father Goodweather to be healed. On the way, the Willowman remembered that he once owned a magic cauldron. We had seen no signs of it in the glade.

We returned to the mill where Sterndale met us with some of the gold and a marker for the remaining amount in exchange for the horses. We made sure he got them safely to town. As night began to fall, we prepared for the burial of Roughneck Rump which was to take place at midnight. Expecting trouble, I went to the Rump graveyard early to see if anything unusual was going on there. A sense of overwhelming sadness was immediately apparent as I entered the cemetery. Several of the graves had recently exploded from the inside out, and wisps of light hung in the air around them. Meanwhile, Avery and Rukhs volunteered to be pallbearers for Roughneck's casket. A large procession of townsfolk followed the casket, but stopped at the edge of the forest. Only our party, except for myself since I was already at the graveyard, Runic Rump, Father Goodweather, and Peter Plowman accompanied the casket through the woods toward the graveyard. Ominous sounds emanated from the forest in the pale moon light. The hooting of owls, "Hooo, Hooo, Hooo". The chirping of small birds and insects, "Brreeep, chp, chp, chp, brreeep". A distant howl, "Harroooo".

All of a sudden, six ghosts rose from the dusty path blocking the procession. One of them was the female ghost who had pointed angrily at Hune in Tegel Manor. They bowed to Runic Rump and advanced. The party dropped the casket and retreated.

The ghosts surrounded the casket and waited. Runic guessed that they were probably descendants of Sir Rankling Rump. To complicate the situation, far up in the sky a blue dragon circled the area. We had no way to determine if it was sent to the location or was flying by and saw a potential meal. Since the situation was a stalemate, Hune ran to the graveyard where I was still on recon duty, and we both returned to the ghost gathering. With the party reassembled, the stalemate was broken and the fight was on. Avery and I turned several of the ghosts from a distance and Evan bolted them. The lightning appeared to have no affect. We charged, and at the same time the blue dragon swooped down and blasted us from above. Hune, Rukhs, and I slashed at the ghosts while Evan sent fire back up at the dragon. The dragon kept coming. Its breath weapon torched Evan. Fortunately, Avery was there to heal him in the nick of time.

Hune was not so lucky. One of the creatures we were attacking was a banshee. The sound of death filled the air as the banshee let out a shrill, ear-splitting "weeeeeeeeeeeee" and Hune dropped. Rukhs was injured by another of the ghosts. His massive bulk diminished and slumped, yet he recovered as best he could and the two of us finished off the ghosts. The dragon, however, flew on towards Avery baring its massive claws and teeth. We all swarmed it as it made the fatal mistake of flying within melee range. The group onslaught brought it down.

Evan rushed Hune's body back to town to be resurrected. The townsfolk paid for the resurrection of their fallen hero and Hune was good as new. Back at the sight of the battle, Thistledown noticed a baby dragon crying for its lost mother. She sang to it in a high, soft, willowy voice:

"Litt'l draggy woo, woo; I wubby dubby you hoo,
Flitter, flutter, floo, floo; Through the forest.... wooooo!!!,
If you wub me true too; Let's sing and dance the flibber-dee-doo,
Flitting, flapping you blue; Draggy, waggy wooooo."

The baby dragon followed Thistledown back to the mill while the rest of us buried Roughneck. Before we left the area, Avery noticed tracks on the ground leading to a shed on the side of the Manor. We guessed that they were made by pirates who were using it as a hideout. Given the state of the party, we decided to deal with it later. The next morning news arrived that the horses purchased by Sterndale had been killed during the night along with the guards. Avery used his magic to speak with a dead guard. He said that Sterndale had slit the guards' throats and killed his own horses. Thistledown looked for Sterndale and found him sneaking into the forest. She entangled him and read his thoughts. His mind was focused on his unnatural aging and how it would worsen if he could not reach Avvarkris in Eventide. I caught up to them. Upon seeing that he was about to be captured, Sterndale stabbed himself. I quickly healed his wounds and carried him back to the mill. Thinking quickly, Avery and Hune cashed his marker with Doak.

Our first task is to question Sterndale and possibly remove the curse on him. Our second task, well, there are pirates, a lich, the mines. I was never good at prioritizing.

Entry 38: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

My memory must be failing me. It can't remember important things that happened just a few minutes ago. One thing I do clearly remember is waiting for Hune to open a door I'm pretty sure some important stuff happened before that. Here's what I can recall. At the last scribbling of notes, Salmon Sterndale was attempting to escape to Eventide but Thistledown entangled him before he could get away. I escorted him back to the mill where we all gathered to question him. He answered a few of our questions, then rudely turned to dust. That's the price you pay for not returning to Eventide soon enough.

To recap, here are some things we already knew about Sterndale:

He was the town grocer. He had a wife and 4 children. When our party first fought together at the ambush of the caravan by the orcs, Hune overheard one of the orcs mention the name Sterndale (should've been a dead giveaway). He was a member of the secret society which met at Sweetvines and collected the statues to open Rump's Tomb. He possessed the fox figurine. He recently bought horses from us at an extravagant price.

Things we learned from questioning him: Sterndale was under a deadly curse, a curse that he said affects all of the people of Eventide which was in fact his true home. A remove curse spell does nothing against this curse. Killing the lich (the one in Eventide, not the lizard lich from Huvat Vex) and destroying the tower at the center of Eventide is the only way to remove said curse. There's a secret door into the tower from the rear room of the Eventide constabulary building. Balaar the Shaker is also in Eventide. The horses are being killed to prevent people from escaping Tegel Village so that the lich will have a steady supply of food. Dirk Dashing is the only other person from Eventide posing as a Tegel resident.

After Sterndale bit the dust, Hune went to the beach to visit "his boys". I definitely don't want to know what that's all about. In town, we learned that Rudderless Rufus, one of the pirates, sold some magical rope to Doak. Also, rumors were spreading that a large bag of gold was found abandoned in town. We didn't investigate who has the gold or where it came from even though fake gold has been known to cause problems in the Realm before. We discussed going after the Immortal King versus going to Tegel Manor. The party voted to go to the Manor. I forgot to notify the authorities of Sterndale's passing before we left. Someone might want to know what happened to the town grocer.

We knew the pirates had been hiding out in the carriage house attached to the Manor, so we went there first. Inside the carriage house we encountered a single pirate. Thistledown made him dance a peppy little jig. Avery gave the dancing a big thumbs down and locked him in an empty casket he found inside an old, black carriage. Hune and I heard noises in the adjoining room and ran off to investigate. The rest of the party soon followed.

Inside the Manor we found a series of unusual rooms. One room contained a small garden with a picture of Ransack Roscoe on the wall. Hune spotted the only living creature in the room, a black kitten that was hiding in the garden. He named it 'Smoky' and claimed it as his pet. Another room housed a blue statue that was half stag, half man. On the floor sat a number of blue stones that roughly formed a circle. One stone was out of place. Also in the room were four ghouls which we quickly dispatched. I restored the displaced stone to its original position in the circle. The stag statue briefly animated and handed me a magical spear made from ash.

In the adjacent room, we encountered several more pirates. Rukhs went underground and popped up behind them causing them to drop to their knees and surrender at the sight of the sprouting ogre. We spared their lives under the condition that they would return to town and cause no more problems. One important item of note is that Rukhs noticed a tunnel running under this level of the Manor but did not take time to investigate it.

Just to the south of the pirate room was a series of three adjoining rooms. The first room appeared to be an abandoned bedroom. The next room was similar except that a female figure was resting in a bed. As Avery entered the room, she arose and asked him, "Have you seen the Keeper?" Avery lied and said, "Yes". Bad decision. His head was instantly transformed into a yellow-colored skull. Strangely enough, he seemed none the worse for wear and the female figure ceased to stir. I guess we really don't know if it was a bad decision or not. Who knows what would have happened to the dwarf if he had answered, "No". The next room was dirty but had once been ornate. The room smelled of ozone. The items of interest in the room were a walking stick capped with a wolf's head and a tankard of liquid. My memory is a bit hazy here, but if I remember correctly, magical sparks flew in the air when we entered the room. I believe we were able to retrieve the staff.

We traversed a long hallway back to the north and discovered a cobbler room and a blacksmith's shop. In the second room, a disembodied hand holding a hammer pounded an anvil near a forge. When we entered the room, the hand attacked the yellow-skulled one. Avery and I swung our weapons at the hand and connected. A suit of armor in one corner of the room fell over, and at the same time the hammer dropped to the floor.

I promise my most unfortunate reader, I'm not drunk as I write this. I'm sure much more weirdness is in our near future.

Entry 39: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate absquatulator,

Hune re-christened Smokey the cat. It's new name is Nibbler. Sorry if I seem less than enthusiastic about this entry. It hasn't been a great day for me. It started in the portrait gallery of Tegel Manor. The large hall contained a fireplace on one side of the room and featured portraits of Ramatic Rumpula and Roderick the Righteous. A statue of a man stood alone in a corner. The rest of the party hurried through the room. I went to investigate the statue and was immediately attacked by a table with an incredibly nasty disposition. Hmmm, earlier in the day Avery was attacked by a hammer. A number of days ago when we first entered the Manor, I was attacked by a pile of laundry. I'm going to be extremely wary of inanimate objects in Tegel Manor from now on. It would be embarrassing to be done in by a rogue bedpan. Messy too. Anyway, I found out that my sword can do major damage to tables. Good to know. Unfortunately, that would be my best battle of the day.

From the gallery, we entered a complex of hallways. Behind the first door was a sight you don't see every day. Six skeletons were sitting around a table playing poker. A seventh was strung up from the ceiling and the others were cursing at him for being a cheater. Avery and Hune made quick work of the skeletons and raked the pot. We found out that in their previous incarnations, the skeletons had been stable boys for Ridderick of the Relic.

Sure enough, we found a horse stable near the skeleton room. The outer chamber was guarded by a handful of zombies. Rukhs and I dealt with them while the rest of the party investigated the main stables. They came upon a small battle between four nightmares and some orcs. Thistledown and Evan zapped the nightmares from the hallway while Hune and Avery advanced to attack. One of the nightmares charged the spellcasters who were still out in the hallway. It passed through solid objects to get to them. I ran to their aid just in time to see the beast drop to the floor, a victim of the spellcasters spells. Hune and Avery took out the other nightmares in the stables. Had we not been such a powerful party, the nightmares would have been very difficult to deal with (when I say "WE", I refer to myself only as a passive observer). The phasing ability of the nightmares allowed them to avoid much of the damage that "WE" were able to inflict on them.

Continuing down the hallway, Avery opened another door which turned out to be an armory. It was run by the mystical, magical, and dangerous-to-be-around, Raconteur Roi. Not only did he sell many different types of magical weapons, he chose to demonstrate them on himself. Being naturally suspicious of sales and marketing types, we left the room before the direct marketing phase could begin. Rukhs melted into the floor and went to investigate the room on the opposite side of the armory. That room had nothing to do with weapons. It was a classroom full of zombies being taught by an evil wight. What has the educational system come to these days, seriously? Avery used his clerical skills to permanently dismiss the class. Team blast 'em, Thistledown and Evan, took out the wight and one or two other stragglers.

A growing sense of magic and evil... well, grew as we continued in the same direction. The next room was small and decorated in ornate black velvet. The door in the far wall was trapped. Rukhs activated his eyes and started to peek through the wall. First though, he noticed that Nibbler the cat was not a common house cat, but was in fact a black panther magically disguised to look like its smaller kin. Hopefully the nibbling will be directed away from the party. As Hune removed the traps from the door so we could safely go into the next room, Rukhs popped through the wall.

The circular room appeared to be a laboratory of some kind. There were a number of pit traps in the floor which the all-seeing Rukhs had no trouble avoiding. Spiral stairs led up to a room above and a section of the circular room near the door was partitioned into a separate chamber. Other items of note in the room were an enormous tome sitting open on a lectern, numerous chemical supplies, a magic circle drawn on the floor with a dismembered finger lying next to it, and a tub of vile liquid. I'm forgetting something. Oh yes, Ridderick. He came out of the partitioned room in all his lichly glory. Most of the party was still in the outer room and did not know what was happening. Before anyone could move, he blasted Hune, Rukhs, and I with freezing air. Hune and I were largely unharmed, but Rukhs dropped to the floor. Hune was closest to him and was not taken by surprise. He swung at Ridderick, but the lich was magically displaced and the swing missed. I advanced and swung but my swing missed as well.

Hune knew Ridderick's true location now and took another swing. This time he connected. At the same time, Avery shot forth a burst of scorching sunlight. I drew back my sword to finish the job, but in a poof Ridderick was gone. He teleported away rather than standing and fighting to the death. It would have been nice to finish off the massively evil mage, but around these parts nothing dies for good anyway. Especially creatures that are already dead. What's one more lich on the loose? Not a big deal. A much bigger deal was bringing Rukhs back to the land of the living. Rukhs is nearly impossible to kill with his current collection of magic. Being surprised and blasted in an instant is about the only way he can be harmed. Fortunately, we have a cleric and our cleric has a diamond. Rukhs popped back up, a little shaken but good as new.

We searched the room and took everything of value. The most valuable item looked to be a potion labeled "Immortality". However, Evan said that it was not the kind of immortality that most civilized folk want to achieve. Avery identified the pool of liquid as a regenerative bath. Once again, it was not regenerative for people who are still among the living. He nullified its properties, but was only able to do so temporarily.

I'm currently at the bottom of the staircase as the search of the downstairs room is concluding. I wonder what a lich keeps in the attic?

Entry 40: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Hear the sledges with the bells, silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle in the icy air of night!
While the stars, that oversprinkle all the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight; keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme, to the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells

- E.A.P., Tegel Poet Laureate

We scared away the big, bad lich from his circular laboratory of evil that comprised the ground floor of a tower in one corner of Tegel Manor. Spiral stairs along the wall of the room led up. Rukhs melted away and wandered off to peek through walls and floors. The rest of us ascended the stairway. It ended in a door blocking our entrance to the second floor of the tower. Evan asked if he could try out a new magical device. He pulled out a set of pipes and blew. A high note sounded but nothing happened. Moments later we heard sounds of combat coming from behind the door. Note: In case I lose this journal and one of our enemies finds it and reads this entry, here's a piece of advice. Don't waste your time constructing walls and doors around your evil lair in an attempt to slow us down. Your best chance is to build one big room and stick all of your monsters in the center of it.

Hune flung open the door and Avery and I followed him into the room. At the same time, a loud gong echoed throughout the Manor. Its source was nearby although we saw no physical device that could be making the noise. We sliced up a hoard of ghouls and a wight with the help of Evan's conjured creatures and Thistledown's missiles. Avery determined that the gong was a magical spell cast on the door at the entrance to the room and he countered it with a silence spell of his own.

Since stealth was no longer useful, we quickly moved to the next set of stairs and headed up to the third level. To our surprise, the room was humid and overgrown with flora. Spaced throughout the circular garden were 14 tubes each filled with a cloudy mist. Upon closer inspection, the tubes housed an array of creatures. Several of the tubes contained human villagers, a couple held orcs, and one contained a harpy. The other interesting feature of the room was a statue of a female figure with a dreamlike expression on her face. When the statue was touched, a poisonous gas poured out of its mouth quickly filling the room. It could have been lights out for the party had it not been for Avery's divine breakfast which protected us from the poison (but not from gas... phew). Rukhs tunneled into one of the tubes and determined that the person inside was not conscious and could be of no immediate help to us nor us to him.

We sensed great evil from the room above and warily continued up the stairs to the next level. The room was littered with once ornate objects in a state of major decay. The source of the evil was none other than Ridderick the Frightened who stood in the center of the room, nearly fully recovered from our previous encounter and ready to test us again. Other items of note in the room were a large book perched on a lecturn and a mirror on the far wall. Upon entering the room, Hune and I fell under the charm of a glyph that Ridderick had cast on the ceiling, and we were unable to move. The rest of the party jumped into action. Evan dispelled the glyph as if it were cast by a novice sorcerer. Thistledown sent missiles at Ridderick while Avery blasted him with a bolt of holy light. Rukhs threw holy water at him and charged. Once again, Ridderick was on the defensive. He made for the mirror across the room. Thinking quickly, Avery blocked it with a wall of stone spell. Hune jumped into the fray as the spellcasters continued to blast away at the lich. Ridderick had no exit this time and crumpled to the floor. His body disintegrated as he fell.

We gathered Ridderick's items and Evan checked out the book on the lecturn titled "The Book of the Damned". Curiosity got the best of Evan. He read the first three words of the book and ran madly out of the room. For safety's sake, I'll only list the first two words here: "David Peters". Rukhs chased down Evan while we searched the lecturn. A small chest was found inside a hidden compartment. Opening the chest revealed scraps of parchment that radiated intense evil. Avery identified it as the phylactary containing Ridderick's soul. Ours swords and holy water thoroughly destroyed the phylactary ensuring that Ridderick was gone for good. One lich down... Avery placed the Book of the Damned in the bag of devouring for future destruction since we did not have the means to destroy it at hand.

Continuing up the stairs, we came upon a room similar in appearance to the previous room. Evan the Seer spotted a magical chest in the mess of items on the floor. Hune solved the riddle on the chest and opened it. As a reward, six shadows sprung from the chest and attacked. After taking down a lich, the shadows were easy to deal with and we sliced them up. The chest also contained some gold and a magical book. The area above the room opened into the tower's belfry which sported a large silver bell. Rukhs tried to ring it. Apparently there was a tiny tick in the woods north of Eventide that was unaware of our location. We all leapt out of the way as the bell came crashing down.

Thistledown searched the belfry and found a secret door. The door opened onto the roof of the Manor. On the roof, two harpies guarded a black mirror, some astronomy equipment, and a copper bell which hung magically suspended in the air. Avery, Hune, and I killed the harpies. After much discussion, we confiscated the copper bell but decided not to sell it. We declined to touch the mirror assuming it was a transport device.

We returned to town with the large, dinged-up silver bell in tow. The magical items were identified but still need to be split up among the members of the party. It's been a busy morning. We've made good progress in the Manor. I'm sure we'll have the whole place cleared out in no time, just as I am sure that nothing bad will happen in Tegel Village while we're adventuring in the Manor.

Entry 41: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

After our first foray into Tegel Manor, we went back to the Mill to regroup. A short time later, Runic Rump showed up at the door. He tried to sell me a magical book binding with a map drawn on it leading to the pages of the book that had been removed from the binding and hidden somewhere in Tegel Manor. He wouldn't provide any information about the contents of the book. The deal was that once we found the pages, the book would be sold to the pirates and we would split the profit with him. Not trusting Runic because he had swindled us before, I declined his offer for the time being. The only other activity of interest in the village involved the fishermen. They must have come into some good fortune recently because they were constructing new buildings and a stage for a performance in their little village.

We returned to the Manor, this time entering through the front door. The door opened into a large hall full of portraits of Rumps. A ghost-like butler greeted us at the front door and asked for our wraps. We gave him some non-magical cloaks to appease him. He flew off toward a wall and vanished. The cloaks hit the wall and dropped to the ground allowing us to easily retrieve them. We quickly headed forward to the door at the end of the entrance hall. It opened into the main hall. Inside the hall were 12 skeletons sitting around a banquet table. When they saw us, they jumped up and attacked but were no match for our swords.

Searching the room, Thistledown found a secret door hidden behind a giant tapestry covering one wall. In addition, Evan used his mystical gaze to determine that a portrait in one corner of the room was actually a magical portal. Assuming that the portal was one-way, we decided to investigate the secret door first. Behind it lay a courtyard open to the sky but enclosed on each side by the house. Along each side of the courtyard, there stood six statues of woodland creatures. Next to the door stood another statue that one of a female figure. Broken apart, its head rested on the ground next to its base. Hune placed the head back on the body. The statue vanished and a phantom figure of a woman suddenly appeared. Avery identified her as Radiant Rivona.

She did not attack and was unable to speak to us. We attempted to communicate with her through gestures and eventually understood what she wanted us to do. We dug in the ground where the statue had stood and unearthed a casket with a puzzle inscribed on the lid. Avery solved the puzzle and the casket swung open. The casket contained a few items of value and a handkerchief. Radiant Rivona indicated that we should bury her handkerchief in the graveyard outside the Manor with her body. We did so and her spirit form smiled and vanished. We regrouped in the courtyard and were about to leave when Thistledown noticed a secret door in one of the walls. The construction of the door was clearly from a different era than the surrounding manor house and radiated a great sense of evil. It opened into a 30 foot long hallway. There was one door in the hallway on the far wall. It pulsated with an even increasingly greater evil. Some may question the wisdom of opening a pulsating, evil door, but some ain't us.

The room beyond looked like something out of a bad horror play. Dominating the center of what was clearly a torture chamber was a large pit in the floor. Chains dangled around the edges of the pit and a fireplace glowed in the far corner. A door flanked each side of the door from which we entered. Simultaneously, I went forward to investigate the pit, Hune opened the door on the right, and Avery opened the door on the left. The chains animated and began flailing at me. The small room Hune entered had walls colored blood red. Upon his entering the room, the color began to drain from the walls and blood pooled on the floor. It morphed into a creature and Hune was suddenly standing face-to-face with a vampire. Behind the other door, Avery found a short hallway with a pedestal holding papers at the far end. He rushed to grab the papers, then rushed back to join the battle.

The chains latched onto me and attempted to pull me into the pit but I was able to break free. Evan summoned a hippogriff and a bog creature. Along with Rukhs, they occupied the attention of the chain construct so that I could help Hune battle the vampire. The two of us sliced up the creature forcing it to morph once again, this time into a gaseous form. It began to move off. There was nothing Hune or I could do to stop it in its new form. Avery blasted it with brilliant light and Evan conjured an air elemental. He sent the elemental forward and commanded it to swirl the air. We couldn't completely destroy the vampire, but we felt confident it had been disrupted for a very long period of time.

Rukhs noticed the chains grabbing the hippogriff and pulling it into the pit. It magically vanished upon reaching the pit's edge. A couple of the chains were shattered in the battle. We skirted the edge of the room to avoid the rest of them. I checked out a door on the far side of the pit while Rukhs went to another door next to the fireplace. I heard sounds of a dog whining behind the first door and Rukhs heard a screaming voice behind his door. He poked his head behind the fireplace as well, the stone not being an obstacle for the ogre transformer. He heard moaning sounds emanating from the room behind the wall. While we were investigating the room, Avery and Evan discussed the papers that Avery had grabbed off the pedestal. They showed no writing, but radiated magic. Evan knew that they had something to do with a creature, but knew no more details. He also discovered by writing on a page that the ink was absorbed by the paper and vanished from view.

It's time to move again. We could open one of the two unopened doors in this room (some of us actually need to open doors to go from room to room). It sounds like more chambers of torture and death lie beyond both of them. There's also the portal posing as a portrait back in the main hall. Jumping through it would be the most random course of action. There are also lizards, liches, giants, orcs, assassins, dragons, and other monsters lurking somewhere outside. We really need to draw a large circle on the ground with names of monsters written around the circumference and put a spinning dial in the middle.

Entry 42: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

Let's get right to it. We left the torture pit room via the door near the fireplace. A hallway led back toward the main entrance of the Manor. We stopped to investigate a small room on the south side of the hallway. The walls of the room were covered in dark paneling and an ugly chandelier hung from the ceiling. A sense of fear washed over the party as we stepped through the door, but it failed to drive us away. As we searched the walls and various portraits, the chandelier began to shake, then it fell and shattered on the floor sending us diving out of the way.

Hune went to investigate a door in the west wall. The small room behind the door had a frosty chill and an armoire stood on one wall. The cold air emamated from the armoire. Hune opened it, but the contents were shielded by an impenetrable darkness. I tossed a shard of glass from the broken chandelier inside. A rush of cold air was released as if a membrane had been punctured and then resealed itself. Hune poked a spear several times into the darkness. All of a sudden, the creature that had been hidden in the darkness stormed out. It was a non-corporeal, humanoid male that glowed a pale shade of blue. As Hune dodged aside, it blasted me and Avery with a cone of cold. We fought back but our weapons struggled to damage the creature. It reached for Avery attempting to inflict damage with its icy touch. Avery was able to dodge out of the way. Evan summoned a magical hound to join the fray, and the tide of the battle turned in our favor. The creature vanished. At the same time, a small, blue gem dropped to the floor. Evan's knowledge of magic led him to guess that the creature was trapped inside the gem so Avery scooped it into the bag of devouring.

We found nothing of value and no more evilness in either room, so we went back out and investigated the room on the opposite side of the hallway. Evan's dog was able to pop through the wall as was Rukhs, of course. Hune dismantled a highly complex locking mechanism so that the non uber-movers in the group could also enter the room. The room had cages that had once held prisoners. Since Rukhs was the first one in, he saw the ghost first. A ghoul henchman arose from one of the cages and advanced on our position as the ghost wailed. I attempted to turn them but was only able to turn the ghoul. Avery blasted the ghost with a sunburst spell and it disappeared. Searching, we found a door to a bedroom beyond the cages of the prison room... kinky. The body of a woman lay motionless in a bed. She looked pale as if she was dead but had been magically preserved. She was covered in spider silk and a crystal decanter sat on a table next to the bed. Avery detected a source of evil coming from the opposite corner of the room beneath some bedroom furniture. Inside a drawer he found a crank. Turning the crank caused something down below to be lifted up. That something was yet another vampire who Avery recognized as Lady Rubinia.

As soon as the vampire entered the room, the woman in the bed sat up and began to scream. We ignored the woman and pounced on the vampire. Realizing it was outmatched, it turned to gas and retreated into its hidey hole. The woman in the bed collapsed. Hune unbound her. There was a brief indication in her expression that she had been released from her magical imprisonment and was free to rest in peace. I jumped down after the vampire but found no items or signs of vampire on the level below. We took the decanter of magical liquid near the bed and moved on.

Adjacent to the bedroom, we entered a room that could only be described as some sort of unholy library. The stained glass windows were adorned with sigils and snakes, very Eventide-ish. Scrolls and books made from human skin were stacked throughout the room and a large, magical portrait of Rosetta Rump decorated one of the walls. The room had signs of recent occupation. Rukhs grabbed some magical potions while Avery examined the portrait. As soon as he touched it, he vanished. The rest of us decided to follow. Evan was the last one through the portrait leaving a fireball in his wake to torch all of the necromantic items in the room.

We were transported to a room on the second floor of the Manor. In the room, I noticed a couch, a brooch, a robe, a book, and an ooze, not necessarily in that order. The metal-clad fighters in our group scrambled out of the way as Avery fought and killed the ooze with a spiritual hammer. We carefully grabbed the other items that we could carry and went to the next room.

Going through the door on the east wall, we found another bedroom. This one featured two shadows and a mirror that was poised to explode. Avery and Hune destroyed the shadows and we moved on before the mirror trap popped. The next room was yet another bedroom. A body covered in dust occupied the bed and a candle was perched on a dresser next to the bed. I swung at the body and got spored by the dust. It left me slower than my already slow self. Hune lit the candle and a shadow appeared. It may have been a butler when it was alive. Rukhs tossed a holy water at it. It screamed and flew through the back wall. Rukhs disappeared through the same wall right on its proverbial heals. Rukhs largely ignored the contents of the next room as he chased the shadow. It was some sort of laboratory housing numerous skulls. A green skull screamed and flew into a cabinet as Rukhs passed by. The inhabitants of the following room could not be ignored. In it were four small werewolves and one mother werewolf. Rukhs abandoned the chase and rejoined the party. While Avery investigated the skull room, Rukhs, Hune, Evan's dog, and I fought the large werewolf. We killed it and burned the body, but it dealt quite a bit of damage to me before we could take it down.

Evan sent his dog out to investigate more of the rooms on the second level of the Manor. It got a quick glimpse of what awaited us, and it wasn't pretty. An aged, human, male mage was mustering the evil creatures to attack us. At his disposal were a couple more large werewolves and numerous smaller werewolves. He also had time to cast numerous other combat spells and summon other creatures to fight us.

We are injured and weak. It may be a bad time for a big battle.

Entry 43: November 19, 888.

My dear and unfortunate reader,

When last we left off, Rukhs was chasing a non-corporeal creature through the upstairs level of Tegel Manor, gliding through solid walls and stomping across unexplored rooms. When last we left off, Rukhs was also a guy. Much has happened. Figuring out who is going to which bathroom will be sorted out later in the story. First, there's some big time monster killin' to talk about. Back to the good stuff.

Upon seeing Rukhs go on walk-about, Evan pulled out his pipe and tooted on it, adding a non-corporeal dog to the chase. Needless to say, the entire wing was alerted to our presence. Among the bad guys were an evil mage and several hungry werewolves. If that wasn't enough, Hune triggered a glyph on one of the doors to the library and a large demon began to form.

Avery and I launched ourselves at the werewolves while Hune and Rukhs waged battle against the demon. Evan summoned a dog creature to help out, but it immediately turned on him. That left the evil mage somewhere down one of the hallways unengaged. He wasted no time making his location known by hurling a fireball toward me and Avery. We dodged out of the way, but alas, there was a casualty. Nibbler the cat took the full brunt of the blast. Its body lay charred on the floor, smoke and embers rising from what had recently been a shiny, black fur coat. The lemon tartlets will surely taste a little sourer tonight.

The best way to remove a sour taste from your mouth is with sweet revenge. There was no time to waste. Evan summoned another dog to match up against the one that had turned on him while I fought more werewolves. Hune and Rukhs killed the demon, but it would not stay dead. Avery rushed over to consecrate the demon room before it could fully form again. Then Evan and Avery regrouped in the hallway and pursued the mage. One by one the werewolves dropped, but the crafty mage slipped past the charge of Evan and Avery and doubled back to the battle. He cast a dance spell forcing me to bust a move... literally. At least I've had some dance practice recently courtesy of Thistledown.

In the meantime, Hune and Rukhs sought to cause more mischief and succeeded. Rukhs touched a disembodied skull in the library. It animated and called for help. A wax automaton from a hidden chamber off of the main room answered its call. When Hune touched it, he found himself standing face-to-face with his double. Undaunted, he slashed at his duplicate. The damage was redirected back upon himself. (Who do that voodoo?) Fortunately Hune couldn't kill himself in one attack. Maybe it was a bad roll.

As I skillfully distracted the mage with my smooth dance moves, the rest of the party reconnoitered and eventually converged on him. Evan tried to blast him with lightning and fire but he was immune to both. He was not immune to swords however, and he was eventually dropped by Hune and Avery's repeated strikes. Avery recognized him as Raporac the Raider.

We gathered his treasure and searched the rest of the rooms in the corner of the Manor where the battle had occurred. The room of greatest interest was the seance room. Rukhs and Evan took their chances and played the magical cards. Some things were gained and some things were lost. Evan gained toughness making him significantly more difficult to kill. Rukhs lost wisdom but gained strength. He also became a she, gaining the glory that is ogre-ish womanhood while loosing his "popsicle 'o life" so to speak.

A human seer was discovered in a small room hidden behind some tapestries. She was unable to communicate in the normal sense. We decided to take her and any other items we could plunder back to town. Rukhs poked her head through various walls as we headed out of the Manor. It was efficient, if not the most exciting way to explore the Manor.

Back in town, Evan identified the items and learned more about the woman. It turns out she's an oracle who can answer one question per week. Better make it a good one!

Entry 44: November 21, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

Due to circumstances beyond the author's control, today's heroic tale will be told in the latest and greatest technique of heroic tale telling, bullet points.

Advantages of Bullet Points:

  • They are clear and concise
  • They eliminate redundancy
  • They come in all shapes and sizes
  • See how well they work

The Party - Our Mission:

  • Rid Tegel Village, Tegel Manor, and the surrounding area of evil
  • Collect the treasure
  • Become heroes of the realm
  • Rule the lemon tartlet industry

Primary Issues in the Current Marketplace:

  • Invading army of lizard warriors and lich priests
  • Vampires, vampires, vampires
  • Underground hordes of dragons, giants, and orcs
  • Ghosts, ghouls, and werewolves at large
  • Pools of nasty, black goo

Recent Activities (11-20-888):

  • Thistledown received spidersilk armor from Queen Pheobe, learned that the Ent guardian of the woods had died, gave copper bell to Hedda to make more black goo antidote, learned that black goo was being dumped into river in Eventide
  • Avery cast "Hallow" spell on monastery
  • Party reloaded

Recent Activities (11-21-888):

  • Party traveled to Eventide
  • Fighting ensued with serpent warriors hiding in trees
  • Evan cast eye spell
  • Thistledown entangled
  • Rukhs traveled through ground, popped up and swung
  • Hune attacked from shadows
  • Avery blasted serpent men with lighting
  • Ronic hurled projectiles and charged
  • Evan summoned hounds and shot flames
  • Horn sounded, reinforcements came through woods
  • Hidden serpent mage torched Avery and Ronic
  • Evan blasted mage into tiny bits
  • Serpent men retreated to manor house in town
  • Evan rained down meteors on house, it was magically protected and took minimal damage
  • We talked to Old Cornelius, a cleric who appeared oblivious to the evil around him along with the rest of the original inhabitants of Eventide

Plans for the remainder of Q4:

  • Update the unresolved issues list to include Eventide and the area around it
  • Ignore all current actionable items on the unresolved issues list
  • Upgrade physical plant and supporting infrastructure of lemon tartlet production chain
  • Investigate cross-market potential of strawberry and blueberry tartlets

Entry 45: November 21, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

Henceforth, Eventide will be know as Rukhsledownhunaveronicevantide. We came, we saw, we chased the bad guys away. We didn't get the fight we expected, yet, but we did learn some valuable information during the course of our adventures. We found the remains of Aldis, the legendary figure who battled a snake demon several hundred years ago. His followers created the town of Eventide, now known as Rukhsledownhunaveronicevantide. We also learned that Avvarkris is still searching for Pneusett, the lich who we thought was already working with Avvarkris. Perhaps Pneusett is tied to the snake demon somehow. We don't know.

When we first entered the town, to be referred to in the rest of this entry as, "the town", Old Cornelius led us to the Shrine of Aldis. A quick search of the shrine revealed a secret passage beneath a large statue of the heroic snake slayer. Before Avery could take more than a quick peek down the passage, Avvarkris was spotted held up in the Manor House along with the serpent men who survived the battle in the woods. An acolyte was sent from the Manor House to take Old Cornelius from us. Questionable strategy. Hune lept from the shadows and killed the acolyte before he realized what hit him.

Knowing that Avvarkris is one of the masterminds behind all of the bad stuff going on in the area and capturing him could unravel much of the mystery surrounding everything that is going on, we decided to forgo caution and launch a frontal assault on the Manor house. A twenty foot high, stone wall surrounded the house. Some of us scaled it, others walked through it, and others of us had to be hoisted over it. Hune tried to disarm the trapped front door, but it was glyphed with powerful magic. Bolts of lightning shot out in all directions. Several of them shot through the solidly grounded ogre. Rukhs collapsed.

The yellow-skulled one was quickly on the scene. Diamond dust filled the air and life re-entered Rukhs' body. Before the smoke cleared, we rushed into the house to get our revenge, only to discover that Avvarkris and company had fled. We tracked the enemy to the adjacent library, then through a second door. The room beyond was guarded by six hell hounds. They lept through the door and attacked. We held our ground. Our blades were in good form, sending the hounds back to the land of shadows. They served their purpose though, allowing the fleeing group to get further ahead of us. A quick scan of the room revealed that a heavy book had been removed from one of the tables. It must be very important to Avvarkris.

Rukhs noticed a secret door through which the serpent men had passed. Stairs led down. They ended in a huge, underground chapel. Massive pillars help up the ceiling. Tangled wire and piles of rubble cluttered the floor. Several crypts were found along the far wall, but no bad guys were in sight. Sounds could be heard coming from one of the crypts, so we went to investigate. An old man was chained inside the first vault. He called himself Veris Vorum. He calmly explained to us that a search was on to find the lich, Pneusett, before we scared Avvarkris away. All of a sudden, he flew into a rage and threatened to destroy us all. The chains held him back. This personality switching continued at regular intervals. It was obvious that he was too dangerous to take with us, but we didn't feel it was right to kill him. We decided to leave him tethered to his current location until we could find a way to cure him.

The second crypt contained a wight with a hand print on its chest. Hune struck it and it exploded. Bones fell to the floor. The skeleton appeared to be a long-dead priest of Aldis who had been reanimated by the hand spell. The last crypt held a sealed sarcophogus. Avery broked the seal. He was prepared for an encounter with the undead and he was not disappointed. The coffin contained a wraith radiating great evil. However, Avery was able to disrupt it before it could do any harm.

There was a passage leading out of the temple next to the crypts, but we found tracks leading to a door on the side wall of the chapel so we headed back to the door. It opened into a hallway. An alcove on the right provided an immediate surprise, a small horde of ghouls. Evan summoned a dog, Avery and Hune swung, and I turned the rest of them. In the niche was a statue of Aldis holding a map. We took it and gathered copper coins that were lying on the floor to give to Hedda. On the opposite side of the hallway, a door opened into a large room. Double doors were found on a semi-circular indentation of one of the side walls. Behind it were some circular sleeping quarters that had recently been abandoned. Rukhs spotted a secret door on the far wall of the main room guarded by a statue of a paladin believed to be the likeness of Holomir Goldheart. The room beyond was protected from evil, and for good reason. Inside were the remains of the legendary Aldis. A magical voice told all who entered to do no harm. An apparition of Aldis appeared and motioned for me to pick up a glass sword. A chest was also found. Hune solved a puzzle which allowed us to get the treasure inside. We decided it was best not to disturb the remains of Aldis' body. We would have liked to have spent more time investigating the room, but Avvarkris and company were getting away. We left the area and continued to a circular room. Spiral stairs led down. Evan sent a magical creature down to scout out the area.

Waiting below are clay golems, a kitchen, a library, barracks, a statue of an elephant, and a sphere of mist among other things. And somewhere not far away is Avvarkris and his minions. He carries an unknown book of some importance, and he holds information which could greatly help our cause. We can't waste time. Our path lies down the stairs... down into the depths.

Entry 46: November 21, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

No one has ever called Evan Granger a coward. Not unless there are stirges nearby. He must have a good reason for leaving us now, right before we launch our biggest assault to date. We are preparing to strike the subterranean, black tower of the evil snake god; the current home to Avvarkris, his minions, and unknown evil hordes who have inhabited the cursed tower for centuries.

We began the most recent stretch of our adventures emboldened by the fact that we had just found the remains and relics of the legendary hero, Aldis. For the last hour or so we've been fighting our way further and further down into the sunken complex beneath Eventide. On the top level we encountered 3 clay golems and 3 copper statues guarding a number of slaves who were busy cooking food in a makeshift kitchen. Since our group rarely skips out on a good fight and never skips out on a good meal, we advanced on the golems and a large battle ensued. It was going well despite that fact that the golems were very difficult to damage. Unfortunately, several of the slaves ignored our warnings and attempted to bolt from the room. That caused the copper statues to animate and join the melee. At the same time, several serpent warriors could be heard advancing up the stairs from the level below. Evan summoned a bog monster and Thistledown blasted the creatures with magic missiles while the rest of us swung. Hune and Avery rushed to meet the oncoming attack of serpent men while Rukhs, the bog monster, and I took on the golems and copper constructs. As the fight against the golems and constructs turned in our favor, Rukhs sunk down through the floor to help Hune and Avery. Thistledown tracked down the slaves.

Once the golems and contructs were dead and the next level was cleared of serpent men, we healed our wounds and did a thorough search of both levels. Thistledown and Rukhs escorted the slaves back to town with Rukhs carrying copper from the copper constructs for more anti-dreck potion making. The search revealed a number of items of value. Avery found a book of magical recipes thought to have been lost long ago. A hidden hole in one of the walls in the lower level revealed additional items: a magical pen of the scribes, some gold, and the Cross of Aldis. The cross was enchanted with an intelligent presence that spoke to us in a female voice. She said her name was Wilma, a friend of Aldis. She agreed to help us on our quest, or possibly we agreed to help her. Her knowledge of the history of the area caught our attention. For example, she told us that Pnuesset is the son of the ancient snake god who slayed Aldis and most his followers.

Again we went down. The next level contained one of the largest creatures we've ever seen. That's saying something when you hang out with Evan. The creature was a giant oliphant, at least 11 feet tall. Fortunately for us it did not move. Also on the level was a shrine to an old priest named Rondram as well as an area of swirling mist. The spellcasters examined the mist and determined that it was a scrying device. We used it to scry the bottom level of the structure. Two statues could be seen. One statue was a priest of Aldis in platemail. The second statue was a princess of Aldis. The room contained one other figure, a live storm giant. It appeared that a battle had taken place in the room recently.

We explored further and found that the area contained other scrying and transportation devices. A box with a serpent was determined to be a receiving teleport, from where we didn't know. We also found a stone chamber glowing with red light. Next to the entrance stood a statue of a mythical creature which Wilma told us was a good guardian. We entered into the red light and were instantly transported to the level at the bottom of the tower that we had recently scried. There we were met by the storm giant.

Fortunately for us, he too was on the side of good. He called himself Vishar. He spoke of a battle between himself and Avvarkris' men that had take place a short time earlier. He was able to kill many of them, but some of them, including Avvarkris himself, were able to escape through a door through which Vishar was unable to pass. Vishar explained to us that the statue of the paladin in the room could commune with Aldis and provide an answer to a simple question should a living paladin come to the room and be in need of advice. I asked the statue a question about restoring the Tower of Aldis to its original form. The response from Aldis was that we possessed everything we needed to restore the tower but must first banish all evil from the area.

Since the evil had passed out of this room and into the cavern beyond, we followed that same route. Against the wall of the cavern not far from the door sat an ancient man. His name was Harringdon, a priest of Aldis and a magical healer. He had survived uncountable years in the cavern, waiting to fulfill his purpose. Maybe we are that purpose. We certainly always need a lot of healing.

It would have been nice to have Evan around to conjure dogs to scout out the enemy's position and a triceratops to lead the charge. Without Evan we'll have to come up with another plan. The frontal assault has worked in the past, but this time it could be more difficult, especially short-handed. So what do we do? Some thoughts have crossed my mind. We could send Thistledown out alone to blast the bad guys with fireballs while the healer and Avery cure all the damage that gets redirected from Thistledown to me. I bet the bad guys didn't prepare for that. I'm not really liking that plan too much. How about an illusion to draw their attention while we sneak around behind them and catch them by surprise? I don't know the correct answer or if there even is a correct answer. Evan set off with a mesage to the people of Tegel Village. It reads, "Sit tight. Keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn, notify the King."

Entry 47: November 21, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

There we were, about to enter the Black Tower of evil and death, when suddenly Evan told us he needed to step outside to relieve himself. It couldn't wait. The vampires, serpent demons, and other rottenness in the tower would not sit idly by waiting for the flowers to be watered, so we decided to continue forward without the mage. We told him to follow the path of destruction back to the party when he was done.

On the left side of the cavern where we were located was a small, man-made room. I went to investigate it. The chamber radiated good and contained several potions and scrolls of healing. They magically reappeared in the room when I attempted to remove them. On the opposite side of the cave, Rukhs easily strolled through a pile of rubble and found a room containing a coffin that radiated evil. Since none of us could join her, she cautiously retreated back to the group without opening it.

The party rigorously analyzed all possible strategies before once again settling on the ingenious frontal assault plan. No enemy troops were spotted. To the right of the main entrance was a small, gated courtyard in which sat a single coffin. To the right of that was a closed door. Avery scouted out the door and the gate but could find no easy way in. We decided to stay together and proceed to the main entrance. If the way to rid the area of evil and topple the tower was sitting behind the door or hiding in the coffin, it wouldn't be the first time we've passed up the easy route to victory and it probably won't be the last.

Hune led the way through the front entrance but forgot to say the magic words, "Trick or treat." Two glyphs exploded but he was able to dodge out of the way without taking damage. A humming noise began softly at first then quickly grew in volume. It emanated from a giant serpent statue sitting at the far end of the entrance room. Suddenly, lightning bolts shot out of the statue's eyes and Hune was able to dive out of harm's way once again. He quickly leapt at the statue and tried to pry out its eyes before they could fire again. Rooms flanked both sides of our position leaving us vulnerable to ambush from all directions. Both rooms were filled with statues of lizard men. The room to the left also contained a set of stairs leading up. Before we could investigate further, the giant serpent statue animated and attacked Hune. At the same time, the statues animated in the room on our left and instantly had me cornered. I attacked them with help from Rukhs who jumped out of the wall. Avery ran up to help Hune and Thistledown blasted the large serpent with missiles. Rukhs and I gradually took down the creatures in the side room. Hune slashed away doing massive damage to the serpent, but it turned its magical eyes on Avery and blasted him with lightning. In the end, Avery got his revenge by striking the killing blow on the serpent.

After the dust had cleared, Avery and I took advantage of the healing room just outside the tower while Hune pilfered the emerald eyes from the slain beast. When Avery and I returned, the party advanced up the stairs. The first level up revealed a circle of curtains in the center and coffins along the outer wall. The curtains surrounded a black circle inscribed on the floor. Despite his name, the very brave George T. Chicken flew into the black circle. Flew... was tossed... whatever. Fortunately George hopped through the circle unscathed. Avery opened the closest coffin as Hune and I stood by ready to attack. A mummy arose from the coffin and we instantly sliced it up. The rest of the coffins along the wall opened and several more mummies emerged. The fighters took care of the ones within sword length and Thistledown disposed of the rest. We found gold in the coffins and tore down the curtains just in case they served some evil purpose. The stairs spiraled up to the next level, so onward and upward we went.

The next room was a bit of a mystery. The floor was littered with bones. A big central room featured a covered cage. Doors opened into two more rooms on one side of the main room. One door was hot, the other cold. We opened both doors but could see nothing of interest in either room. However, gibbering laughter could be heard in the heated room. Whatever invisible creature was in there, it did not attack. Since we couldn't see it, we closed and locked the door. Avery could not resist peeking under the cloth covering of the cage. A serpent statue inside animated and attempted to break out of its confines. Our swords were useless while it was inside the cage, so Thistledown did the honors and charred the creature before it could break free and attack us. With nothing else of interest in sight, we continued up the stairs.

The next level was filled with illusions and traps. The illusions were easily overcome by Rukhs' extra special vision, but the traps were not. Hune opened a door revealing a small corner room. Crossbow bolts fired down the hallway striking Rukhs. A man-shaped being made out of ash occupied the fiery room behind the door. He warned us to leave that level. Icy tendrils arose from the inner room. Cold vapors filled the air and began to eat away at Hune's leather armor. Seeing nothing of interest or value, we quickly went up to the next level washing Hune's armor on the way to stop it from deteriorating.

The entrance to the next level was blocked by a pair of translucent doors. At the far end of the room was a throne. On the throne sat a bat-winged creature that Wilma identified as Konah the Dissenter, son of the serpent god of Eventide lore. Lined up along the far wall were about a dozen barrels. Rukhs snuck around and was able to peek through the wall to see people hiding behind the barrels ready to ignite their contents. Thistledown cast dispel magic on the doors and a fireball trap exploded. Fortunately we were all a safe distance outside the blast radius. The doors turned black and insect eyes appeared. Evil laughter filled the air, "muuuaaaahh". Hune went to work disabling traps and unlocking the doors while Thistledown handed out vials of dreck antidote to neutralize the contents of the barrels.

There was nothing left to do but attack. Hune and I rushed at Konah skirting a group of shimmering tiles in the center of the floor. Before we reached him, multiple images of the creature appeared making it difficult to determine the real target for our swords to strike. While we hacked at phantoms, Thistledown flew to one end of the row of barrels. The evil villagers were lined up perfectly. A bolt of lightning from Thistledown's wand shot down the row blasting the group before they could set off their explosive trap. Not to be outdone, Avery walked to the center of the room and waved his arms. A bright light emanated from the priest in all directions. The remaining evil creatures in the room were instantly destroyed. The son of the evil serpent god was dead. The cleric with the glowing, orange head ruled the day.

As we celebrated, Rukhs discovered an invisible chest with a puzzle on it. Catching up to the present time, we are now attempting to solve the puzzle on the chest and steal the serpent demon's treasure held within. It was a memorable battle, but Avvarkris and company are still at large. The Black Tower still stands. Our job is not finished. Hopefully Evan's job is finished by now so he can rejoin us as we attempt to topple the tower and restore Eventide to its former glory. It won't be easy, but surely the ever-so-lawful and ever-so-humble paladin; the stealthy fighter a-wieldin' blades and pastries; the glowing, pumpkin-head cleric on a rope; the unstoppable, transgender ogre; the all-seeing mage of many pipes; and last but not least, the tiny arsenal of destruction /communication station on wings will win the day. Let the fun begin.

Entry 48: November 21, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

Thistledown removed a worn parchment from Konah the Dissenter's treasure chest and read the following familiar poem written on it:

Serpent Son's Blood,
In Agony Lost,
Passing of Godling the Palette Fills,
Shaped in Fine Line,
The Quadrangle Crossed,
Tresspasser Rise and Meet Thy Weird

It all became crystal clear. Pouring Konah's blood into the lines of the symbol carved into the floor would teleport our party up to the big battle room. Sure, in retrospect it's obvious, but why couldn't we have figured it out when we first found the rhyme? In our defense, we hadn't encountered, nor even knew about the existence of Konah at that time. Maybe that slowed us down some. And then there's the reference to the palette which we had not yet seen. Plus it turned out that there was no "palette" in the normal sense of the word. To be fair, once the lines were right in front of us, it was possible to make out a vaguely quadrangle-like area. And if the positions of "Passing of Godling" and "Serpent Son's Blood" were swapped in the poem, it would have been obvious that the blood was supposed to be poured into the carved lines. We definitely should have known that "rise" meant teleporting upward to a hidden room in the Black Tower. Duh! "Meet thy Weird"... I'm still a little fuzzy on that one.

Before we triggered the teleport, the all-moving, all-seeing Rukhs went on a scouting mission. About 40 feet above us through solid stone, she found a circular room that was 180 feet in diameter. In the room she saw the following: a green stone fountain in the form of a serpent flowing with dreck, four serpent guardians, a bear, three evil townsfolk, a succubus, Avvarkris, two large warriors, a giant snake, a wizard, and six armored guards. A set of double doors was the only visible exit from the room. Rukhs popped up behind the double doors and discovered a serpent lich on a throne with six skeletons standing guard.

After Rukhs returned and reported what she had found, Wilma warned us that the lich on the throne was none other than Pnuessett and that there were two other brothers of the serpent god unaccounted for, Balaar the Shaker and Manahutt. In preparation for the final fight, Evan summoned two earth elementals and Hune blew his magical horn which conjured guards to protect the party from the initial onslaught. Then Konah's blood was poured into the quadrangle. The floor shimmered with magic.

The next thing we knew we were in the center of the large, circular room. The room was exactly as Rukhs had described it except that everything was silent. The enemy forces were prepared for our arrival, but we struck fast. I shot an arrow with Avvarkris' name on it. He caught it... with his chest - then crumpled to the floor. Hune sprung at the giant snake and slashed it with his sword. Thistledown flew up out of the silenced area and shot lighting from her wand. It bounced around suits of armor scorching the men inside. Evan also conjured lightning. He blasted the succubus and several of the humans behind her. Rukhs moved to disable the dreck fountain by filling it with Hedda's antidote.

Nonetheless, numbers of evil creatures survived the first strike and attacked us back. They focused their attack on Evan. Several javelins and arrows flew at the mage, but that wasn't the bad part. A statue broke open. Manahutt, son of the serpent god, was hiding inside. The evil creature flew at Evan and snatched him up with its four arms. Avery saw what happened to Evan and leapt into the fray. He somersaulted and sprung like an acrobat onto Manahutt's back. Try as he might, the dwarf could not stop Manahutt's claws from raking into Evan one more time. It was one time too many. Evan fell to the floor, lifeless.

Hune and I rallied to the spot in the center of the room where Avery battled the serpent. Manahutt flew into the air to a point where he could attack us but we couldn't reach him. It looked hopeless. Then, out of nowhere, three hippogriffs flew to our aid courtesy of Thistledown. The battle took to the air. Avery, Hune, and I flew at Manahutt trying to balance on the hippogriffs while swinging wildly. At the same time, Evan's earth elementals continued to hammer the surrounding creatures. Thistledown and Rukhs focused their attacks on the serpent warriors.

The battle with Manahutt was short but violent. In the end, we had our revenge. Our swords combined to slay the creature before it could kill again. The remaining forces did not put up much of a fight after seeing their leader vanquished. However, before we could relax Thistledown paged us with an important message. The roof was shaking and looked like it was about to collapse. Wasting little time, we went after Pnuessett and his skeleton guards. The skeleton guards were slain by Rukhs' sword and Evan's elementals before those of us fighting on the far side of the room could reach the doors. Pnuessett's soul had yet to return to his body. Hune used magic to locate Pnuessett's phylactery which was hidden in a chest under his throne. Avery's mere presence disintegrated the phylactery thus completely destroying Pnuessett before he could animate. Wilma's voice faded.

Avery performed his clerical duties resurrecting Evan. Evan's first task back in his body was to teleport us out of the collapsing structure back to the monastery. Despite our great accomplishments in Eventide, not all was well. Smoke could be seen in the distance coming from the mill. More importantly, Ruang Rump was gone. Lizard tracks headed from the monastery toward the Bluestone Dwarf ruins.

Thistledown made a quick trip to town to exchange news on recent events. Queen Phoebe was happy to hear about our success in Eventide. Townsfolk talked of Dirk Dashing's disappearance. Rumor had it he disintegrated along with the Black Tower. Also, Doak Hillman sent word that we could by his special magic items at a discount due to our newly recognized heroic stature.

We will need to be heroic once again. The lizards have returned. The Immortal King almost did us in once before. He didn't have his army of lizard warriors and wizards at his side then. We don't know what happened to the giants, dragons, and orcs either. Maybe the baby dragon that has been seen in the skies around town knows something. She seems to have taken a liking to Thistledown.

Entry 49: November 22, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

We spent the night at the monastery following our triumph in Eventide. The next morning we heard the pitter-patter of little feet approaching. The feet belonged to one of Hune's young minions who arrived with the latest news from town. He told us of the upcoming séance. We would be given the opportunity to choose a spirit with which to communicate and the seer would give us answers to our questions. The séance wouldn't take place until later in the day, so there was time to adventure. We first decided to check out the Mill which could be seen smoldering in the distance. It had been ransacked and burned to the ground while we were in Eventide. Tracks indicated that lizard creatures had been there, probably looking for our missing prisoner, Ruang Rump. Grind had been injured but managed to escape with his life. Since we knew the lizards were hiding out in the Bluestone Dwarf ruins, we headed there to see if we could destroy The Immortal King and Ruang Rump once and for all.

Evan cast an eye spell to scout our perimeter and we headed down into the ruins. We went to the area where we had last encountered The Immortal King meeting no resistance along the way. The all-moving Rukhs went ahead to spy on the first room of the three room complex. The room had been empty before except for some broken pottery. This time three huge lizard warriors stood guard there. They wore plate armor and carried javelins. Rukhs also heard chanting coming from the far room. As Hune, Avery, and I charged the lizard warriors, Thistledown spotted a shimmering shape creeping near the ceiling to the rear of the party. Suddenly Ruang Rump became visible and sprung at Evan.

In response, Evan conjured a hound archon to attack the assassin. Thistledown blasted him as well. The rest of us swarmed the lizard warriors and overwhelmed them. Lighting shot down the hallway at us providing additional motivation to finish the guards off quickly. With Ruang busy fighting both the archon and Thistledown, Evan was able to conjure a blue slaag to assist us against the guards. We pressed forward engaging the lizard priests. Avery blasted one of them with a holy bolt and it immediately went up in flames. However, more lightning came shooting out of the room. I was the main lightning rod and was quickly getting scorched. Avery helped with healing as Hune, Rukhs, and I swung our swords trying to finish off the priests before they could strike again. When we had killed all but two, one of them fled. The remaining priest broke his staff sending out one final burst of electricity. We survived, barely.

Soon the side action turned into the main event as Thistledown battled the evil Rump. He turned invisible and attempted to flee, but Thistledown had a new wand. She cast a spell that allowed her to detect hidden enemies and was able to locate him once again. Missiles shot out from another wand striking their target. Ruang Rump was helpless against the well-armed fey. It was the last time Ruang Rump would attempt to escape.

Thistledown's job wasn't done though. The last lizard priest came towards her. He carried the phylactery of The Immortal King. Thistledown stalled him with an illusion of The Immortal King come to life. It slowed him long enough for the rest of us to catch up. However, before we could kill him he cast a spell and disappeared. Not to be outdone, Avery turned the party into a gust of wind and we quickly began our pursuit. We found him at the top of the ruins. Killing the last priest was not a problem, nor was destroying the phylactery masquerading as a staff. Avery's mere presence made the phylactery crumble to dust, permanently ending the reign of The Immortal King. At the same time, the mark on the back of Rukhs' hand disappeared. Apparently, the lizards where responsible for the Lorekeeper's haunting of the ruins and the demise of the Bluestone dwarves long ago.

We gathered up all items of value from both battles and headed back to town. Now we are waiting for the seance to begin. We have two poems to help us determine what questions to ask and of whom to ask them.

Three evils called to ancient island,
Drawing near in darkness silent,
Two allies vanquished, one remains,
Still enough to make a claim

Deep in slumber, Evil's dreaming,
A thousand swords approach it screaming,
To stop the slaughter, the dead must rest,
And Evil's allies fail the test.

The wrath of ancient Skybound Lords,
Their glorious wings unfurled,
Once lit the air in bloody fire,
To Hell their foes were hurled.

Their Age is gone, the Skybound Lords
Have fallen fast to sleep,
They slumber in their ancient crypts
Beneath the Elder Keep.

The Skybound Lords fear only One,
Although all Five are He,
When once again his fury flies,
His children will be free.

The power of the Skybound Lords,
Will fill the Summoned One,
The ancient fires of scaly wing,
Will cause the weak to run.

The coming of the Skybound Lords,
Starts at five altars far,
Arranged around the Elder Keep,
Like points upon a star.

Five come to one upon full moon,
The journey takes a turning,
And all must reach the Elder Keep,
Lest keys to home returning.

Of sixteen relics ancient hewn,
Five show the altar path,
Keys are they to secret lairs,
To summon Children's wrath.

Five ancient relics summon them,
The sky lord's children's might,
Five more gain ancient power,
To aid them in their flight.

The final key will hasten back,
The Five in One, praise ten.
Then summon back his brethren strong,
To end the Age of Men.

Entry 50: November 22, 888

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

Knowledge is power. At least that's what Ruang Rump used to say before the evil assassin was blasted into oblivion by the tiny-yet-heavily-armed fey. Perhaps he did know something that could be useful to us. We had the opportunity to find out. Off we went to the seance with some loosely prepared questions. The goal was to question the spirit of Ruang and find out as much as we could about the prophetic poem in our possession that had raised more questions than it provided answers.

Through skillful questioning led by Hune, we were able to unravel the mysterious poetry. The third arm of the evil triumvirate beginning with Pneussett and The Immortal King was revealed to be the entire Rump family. We found out that they are all under the influence of an ancient and immensly powerful elemental creature currently located on an underground island in the Tegel Mines. If we can put all of the Rump clan to rest by removing their curses, killing their undead forms, and burying their bodies in the Rump family cemetary, we can prevent the elemental creature from rising to the surface and presumably swallowing Tegel Village in one bite. Avery determined that there are 19 Rumps still haunting the mansion and mines. If even one survives for 33 more days, the creature will be summoned. We also learned that the phrase "a thousand swords approach it screaming" in the poem refers to the orcs who are likely to get in our way once again. In addition, the questioning turned up the fact that Salmon Sterndale was in league with Ruang Rump. There's reason to be concerned about Doak Hillman too, though we didn't get any details on Hillman.

We proceeded to bury Ruang Rump moving one closer to our goal. Then we re-entered the Manor house. We quickly scouted out unmapped areas. The first room was some sort of music room. Rukhs glided in and picked up a jeweled sword. A swarm of stirges flew down from the ceiling to attack. Evan did not wait for anyone else to act. He blasted them with lightning frying the entire group. "Revenge!"

In the next room we discovered 16 ghosts sitting around a large table. Once again Rukhs led the way and once again an attack was triggered. The ghosts disappeared leaving one specter behind. It lashed out at Rukhs. It hit and the mighty ogre immediately shrunk in power. Hune lept in and along with a diminished Rukhs they destroyed the evil apparition. Then Hune unlocked and opened an iron chest in one corner of the room. It contained gems, jewels, and the little black book of Racey Raleigh Rump.

We continued through a series of rooms. There was a storage room with rats and rat tunnels that we didn't explore. We found servants' quarters, a kitchen, a pantry, a mead hall, and a maid's room. In the last room we fought a grey ooze killing it with ranged weapons. A disembodied hand scuttled around the room searching for treasure. We killed a wight in the next servant's room that was guarding a cask of wine with healing properties. From the corner room, we could hear organ music. The music came out of a teleportal on the floor of the room. Evan conjured a hound and sent it through the teleportal to scout the destination.

Entry 51: November 23, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

Events are rapidly moving forward. Our goal of laying to rest all of the cursed Rumps is almost complete. We did manage to make it back to town last night to take a brief break and rest up. During the night, I had two very interesting dreams that I told the party about. Both were hazy dreams as dreams normally are, but strangely they were directly related to our activities and seemed important. One had to do with the treacherous poisoning of the Rumps approximately 80 years ago, by whom I can't remember. The other had to do with the orcs in the present day. In my dream they were getting very restless, as if readying for battle. I believe these were visions of what had occurred and what is about to occur.

The following morning all of us except Thistledown went back to the Manor. We told Thistledown where to find us should the town be in danger. Evan's reconnaissance spells led us to a room with seven stone slabs. On six of the slabs lay human corpses. On the seventh rested a sword and scabbard. In addition, the seventh slab was inscribed with the following writing, "I am bound by my order."

As we were examining the slabs, we suddenly noticed that Rukhs had disappeared without saying a word or even grunting. I rushed off to find him/her/?. I didn't have to go far. Down the hall I came upon Rukhs being attacked by a vampire, but Rukhs was not fighting back. Rukhs was struck by the vampire and staggered backwards as the slash sucked some of the life out of the ogre. I charged and swung my sword. The vampire dropped to the floor as a result of the initial flurry and victory seemed easily achieved. However, I heard a bursting sound coming from the slab room. A corpse on one of the slabs had exploded. The vampire was instantly back on his feet at full strength.

In the slab room, Hune guessed what was happening and he picked up the sword from the last slab. His goal was to destroy the bodies with the sword thus eliminating the vampire's ability to regenerate. But the sword had other ideas. It forced Hune to turn and face the first live opponent he saw... which happened to be Evan Granger, the musical wizard. Evan saw the wild look in Hune's eyes as Hune rushed towards him. Taking the necessary action to defend himself from Hune, Evan gave a quick toot of his flute. A dog creature appeared between them. It gave a loud growl and Hune ran fleeing from the room. Evan sighed in relief knowing that a second toot was not necessary. Avery quickly shot a spell at Hune to remove the affects of the cursed sword. While I tracked down Rukhs and Hune, Avery identified the vampire as Raul the Reformer. He also put an end to the proceedings by casting a powerful spell he called True Death. Another Rump was history as the fighters looked on.

We investigated the area further and quickly ran into yet another Rump, this one in ghostly form. His name was Reharab Rump. He wasn't in a fighting mood. He was upset because his bobble had been stolen by orcs. We realized that returning the bobble was the only way to bring him peace. The all-moving Rukhs tracked down the orcs who weren't far away. We all wanted in on the carnage, but Evan was quickest. One big ball of fire later and the orcs were no more, except for one orc that dashed out of the room and ran away using a room full of fire and orc ash as a shield. We searched the room and found the valuable bobble. Returning it to our ghost friend brought a sense of relief and peace as the ghostly Rump poofed out of his tortured existence.

Only a couple more Rumps to go and all will be quiet and safe in our little town. Nothing can go wrong, can go wrong, can go wrong...

Entry 52: November 23, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

The reign of the evil Rumps is finally over. To be honest, there were so many of them, I can't even remember which Rump was our first. But in the end, it certainly is comforting to have such a long, dark quest firmly behind us. If nothing else is said about us, let history remember that we left no Rump unappeased. When Rumps had to be eliminated, our swords struck blow after blow and our magic missiles flew straight at their targets. When Rumps could not find their great, big bobbles or juggling balls, we left no fissure unexplored and always delivered the goods like champions. A foul air has been cleared. The last rotten Rump is now pushin' up daisies. I think Blackfingers the Brownie would be both proud and a little sad if he were alive today.

Enough nonsense, on to the story. The adventure began with Rukhs melting through walls as normal. On the floor of the first room Rukhs entered sat an unlocked chest. Unfortunately, the chest contained only bones. When Rukhs tried to remove a bone from the chest, the bones all scuttled together to form an undead skeleton. Instead of attacking, the skeleton acted as if it were juggling, but it had nothing to juggle. Avery remembered stories about Reckless Rory Rump who was a champion juggler. With a nickname like Reckless, hopefully he didn't juggle knives or fire, but he's dead now, so who really cares. Having encountered several Rumps who were missing items in the past, we knew we had to find Rory's missing juggling cubes and return them to their rightful owner. Avery used magic to guide us and off we went.

The location spell led us to a room with several sarcophagi. One of them contained a dead pirate. Two wights came at us from the other sarcophagi. Avery easily turned them. Next we went through a wine cellar and into a room decorated with stone gargoyles. Avery's magic pointed him to a blank wall. Searching it, we found a secret door that opened into a small treasure room. The treasure consisted of a load of copper pieces which we took for Hedda, and a set of juggling cubes. We returned the cubes to Reckless Rory and said goodbye as he turned to dust.

Exploring further, we came upon a large room with a high ceiling. In the room were four zombies and a ghost. Hune dispatched the zombies in seconds. The ghost did not attack. Instead it gestured in a motion as if it was writing of words in the air. Avery knew from Rump lore that a Rump named Riddles had been a playwright when he was alive. We had found an ornate pen on a previous visit to the Manor. Rukhs took a chance handing the pen to the ghost. Sure enough, Riddles vanished. All that was left was to take care of Riggat Rump. We thought we knew where Riggat was and what he needed to be at peace. We had in our possession an indigo colored cloak that matched a cloak seen in his portrait. After a short search, we located Riggat and gave him the cloak. Riggat disappeared.

Seconds later, Avery's pumpkin-like head began to fade back to its original, glorious form. Jack-'O-Lantern on a rope was once again Dwarf on a rope. Next the ground began to rumble. A strange sense of hatred welled up in each of us and we looked to kill whatever was near. Fortunately before things got ugly, we all realized that the feeling was caused by a magical spell that had triggered as the last Rump was laid to rest and we were able to resist its effects. It's a good thing Thistledown wasn't with us or we might all be dead, or at the very least we'd be dancing a non-stop jig. Once the curse had lifted, Avery became aware of the fact that much of the Rump treasure had been moved beneath Redurn Rump's tomb. It suddenly seemed like a good place to go.

On the way back to town, we saw a blue dragon circling above the Mill. The dragon saw us from far away and flew swiftly in our direction. We prepared for battle. However, before it got within attack range, the dragon spoke. It called itself Windwing. Windwing brought us a message from a great orc named Gadesh Bullsmasher. The message was simple. We were to fly on the back of Windwing to an island to meet with the orc and negotiate a peace. We told the dragon that we needed one hour to consider the offer even though we had no intention of accepting it. Windwing flew away and we hurried to town to find out what else was happening.

As expected, not all was well in town. Stillingfleet, the town elder who had been keeping an eye on us in the past, Potkins the potter, and Fawn Axeworthy, dwarven friend of Avery and granddaughter of General Dugald Axeworthy, were all missing. I went to search for Stillingfleet while Avery tried to find Fawn. The word was that Fawn had noticed unusual orcish activity in the forest and had gone to the Tegel mines to try to determine the source of the problem. Avery sent a messenger to notify the General of Fawn's disappearance, then he went to the mines to try to find her. Back in town, I located Stillingfleet and Potkins near the Tomb of Redurn Rump. With no stealth capabilities of my own, I asked Hune to see if he could find out what they were up to. We already knew Stillingfleet was a member of the Order of the Golden Scale. Hune discovered that Potkins was a member as well. The two men were waiting for the tomb to open which they believed would happen soon. Hune also overheard them say something about being immune to damage done by dragons.

In the mines, Avery found Fawn laying on the floor of a cave next to a sleeping blue dragon. He sent Thistledown to tell the rest of us where he was and we all hurried to the mines to try to rescue Fawn. Windwing was in the air flying in the same direction. We reached the cave entrance before Windwing arrived and hid inside. Windwing landed and cast a spell near the cave entrance. An old man came out of the cavern complex and shuffled toward the dragon. The two spoke about an army that was planning to attack Tegel Village in several hours. Windwing also mentioned that the trick of dumping our party in the middle of the ocean had not yet succeeded. Knowing their plans, we came up with a plan of our own. The plan consisted of launching a surprise attack on Windwing and the old man. It turned out that the old man was also a dragon magically disguised as a man. That didn't matter. Hune sliced up one dragon with his sword of dragonslaying. The rest of us charged the other one and made short work of it. Not all went perfectly though. Our presence was made known as an intruder alarm blasted loudly. The other bad news was that Fawn had been killed.

Having little time to act, Avery cast a spell which turned us all into a gust of wind. Moving swiftly and undetected, we swept through a room that was empty except for sturdy pillars and entered a massive cavern. Inside the cavern was the army of orcs and giants. The army was in a state of disarray, but showed signs that they were beginning to join ranks. About 100 orcs from four tribes (hand, foot, ear, and eye) made up the bulk of the army. The main muscle that could be seen were 25 forest giants and about 40 hill giants. I spotted a magically hidden tent in the middle of the camp, presumably a command tent.

The camp was situated on the banks of a lake that filled most of the cavern. Next we flew by an island in the center of the lake. On the island was an ancient altar with a large crack running through it. The crack appeared to have been caused by metal boxes. Hundreds of them had been dropped on the island, who knows how long ago. The metal boxes looked exactly like a metal box we found in a river near the Eldritch Woods early in our journeys. That box oozed the dark liquid known as Dreck. On one side of the cavern, a stream entered and then exited back out towards the ocean. A large wheel with buckets had been built near the stream to rapidly extract the Dreck.

We must destroy the army before it destroys Tegel. We don't know precisely who leads the army, although it's a good bet the orcs, giants, and dragons all have leaders present. What else lurks in the caverns? We don't know that either. If we get bored, there's the poem telling of the dragon lords who will destroy all mankind if they are allowed to enter a tomb, presumably the tomb of Redurn Rump in Tegel. We don't know if Stillingfleet and Potkins are there to help or to kill us. The end must be near.

Ronic’s Registry #53 – November 23, 888.

My Dear and Unfortunate Reader,

At the time of the last registry entry, Avery had transformed the party into air and we blew through the Tegel mines like a mighty wind. We circled the army or orcs and giants hidden in the vast cavern beneath Tegel Village. We flew by the island on which resides a cracked altar that radiates intense evil. We continued on, breezing through the smaller passages. We flew past veins of un-mined mithril. Apparently the dwarven miners never made it so far underground. Then we tried to wisp our way past a group of gnoll guards, however, they realized something was amiss. They summoned a frost giant named Findish Headhammer who brought with him a squad of goblins and trolls. Out of thin air, we materialized directly in front of them. Hune and Avery attacked the gnolls and trolls. Evan blasted the goblins with balls of fire, and I battled the frost giant. I don’t have time to go into detail on the hacking, slicing, and burning. Suffice it to say, none of the enemy escaped the battle alive.

In the next chamber we saw water and a shaft of stone leading up. Avery’s sense of direction told him that we were at the bottom of the Tegel Village well. The creatures we had just killed left behind a present for us and for the village- a large, metallic, ticking sphere of a present. We tried to diffuse the bomb but couldn’t. Evan created a force cage around it and we all scattered. The bomb exploded. Fortunately the force cage held and both us and the town well remained unscathed. After that excitement, we decided to go back to town and regroup knowing that an army would be attacking Tegel Village in a matter of hours. While we were in the process of leaving, Avery was overcome by insane hatred and tried to attack the party. I dispelled the evil possession and he returned to normal, but we all had to resist attacks of madness until we got far away from the mines.

Meanwhile back in town, Thistledown was busy. Potkins and Stillingfleet where standing outside the Tomb of Redurn Rump glancing around suspiciously. Thistledown went into stealth mode and flew close to them. She noticed a clay pot containing a metallic device next to the men. Potkins walked off for a minute. She put Stillingfleet to sleep with a sleep arrow and broke open the pot to reveal the object inside. It was covered in knobs and dials. She also removed a dragonscale necklace from Stillingfleet’s neck and suddenly detected evil radiating from the sleeping man. Potkins returned and saw that something was wrong. As he cast a spell, Thistledown flew off. Wanting to draw attention to the area so that the town guards would see what the men were up to, she implemented Firenickers’ Diversion Scheme 1A which involved setting a fire at the nearby Sweetvine residence. It’s unclear if poo was involved. Then she flew off to meet with Hedda and Queen Phoebe.

While Thistledown was at Hedda’s place, Father Goodweather showed up. Thistledown hid while Hedda prepared tea. The timing was lucky as she noticed Father Goodweather slipping poison into Hedda’s tea. Thistledown whispered to Hedda to run. She entangled Father Goodweather as he chased Hedda from her house, then she shot him with a sleep arrow and he dropped. Upon closer inspection, it was not Father Goodweather, but a doppleganger assassin with a list of people to kill. He had already killed the priest and Captain Reem. Thistledown summoned the town guard and showed them the list. They took away the assassin and locked him up in the town jail. Thistledown retrieved the ogre friend of Rukhs to guard Hedda, then she flew into the woods to muster support from Queen Phoebe and the ents. One her way, she tweeted the rest of us with the latest news.

We headed directly to the tomb and easily overpowered Stillingfleet. Potkins had disappeared with the mechanical device. Stillingfleet told us that his goal was to become a dragon rider. He made us an offer. If we allowed him to summon the dragon, he would fly us out of town in a golden chariot and let us keep the chariot. Hune rejected the offer... permanently.

Evan described a secret tunnel to the tomb that his wizard friend, Zebulon, had created before his disappearance. It went from Zebulon’s basement to the bottom of the tomb. Evan knew that his house was magically trapped. Rukhs took the lead, bypassing the secure house and gliding directly into the tunnel. Using the secret entrance Zebulon had created, Rukhs made it into the tomb. What he saw was amazing. All of the missing Rump gold had been melted down and formed into a very large, golden chariot that had been hidden in the tomb for the past 30 years. A gate blocked the entrance to the main room containing the chariot. Rukhs attempted to solve a puzzle lock on the gate to gain entrance. Instead of the gate opening, he crumpled to the floor, dead.

Back on the street, Avery cast Speak with Dead on Stillingfleet. He and Hune questioned the dead man while I went to the jail to get information from the assassin that Thistledown had captured. The assassin was a member of the Orcs of the Green Ear. He reported to Erark DwarfThrottler, who reported to Stronghowen Blackguard (a frost giant), who reported to Gadesh Ballsmasher. The assassin had partnered with another doppleganger who had been killed. He knew of the goblin sappers who we killed in the mines attempting to blow up the well and several goblin spellcasters still at large near Tegel Village. More orcs and seven blue dragons were preparing to attack the town including a few dragons we were familiar with- Nightwing, Windwing, and Azol. Also of note, Torther, leader of the Orcs of the Red Hand, was holding a jade pseudo dragon.

In the other interrogation session, Avery learned the following from Stillingfleet. The metallic device is an astrolabe that steers the golden chariot. Stillingfleet described in detail the ritual to summon the dragon using its figurine. He then described how to use the egg to make the chariot hover. He said that a lever in the tomb opens it up to release the chariot. He also told us how to use the astrolabe and said that the astrolabe had been taken to Potkins’ house. Avery asked him about the rest of the figurines. Stillingfleet described how the red bee, orange fox, blue spider, orange cat, blue bear, red bird, and blue horse were placed in the niches on the tomb during the full moon to open it. When asked if there was a connection between what he was doing with the tomb and the army invading Tegel, Stillingfleet said that there was no connection at all. Avery did not believe that answer and jotted down copious notes on how everything that’s happening in Tegel must be connected. Then he wrote even more notes.

We need to finish questioning Stillingfleet. We also need to get the astrolabe from Potkins. We must retrieve and resurrect Rukhs quickly if we can get to him at all. There are goblin spellcasters around town. Dragons, giants, and orcs are about to attack. It seems improbable that we can stop it all. Assuming there is a connection- a single, overriding source of evil, shutting it down will be our best solution.

One cannot argue against the fact that it is insane that a sleepy farming community that grows winterweed would be of so much interest to orcs, giants, dragons, lizards, undead, etc.

Why would they all descend upon such a small town now? Does it even matter why?

The answer to the second question is probably ‘yes’. If we knew the answer, we might be able to fix the source of the problem. The answer to the first question... we don’t know, and that’s the immediate problem. On the good side, sleepy, little farming communities that grow winterweed don’t live up to our required level of excitement anyway. Bring it on!

Sleepy little farming communities... Why would anyone want to attack... Why attack... Why... ?

Ya’ know, that winterweed is pretty darn good.