Eternal Winter

“King Parsy” is a big fat liar

As I faithfully wrote in my last entry, we could not take a rest after our snake orgy, so we forged on, exiting the garden of doom. We found a room full of military stuff and a huge crystal ball. With my expansive knowledge of magic (I had a High Wizard girlfriend once… taught me a lot… though she was literally high most of the time so who knows how much is accurate,) I realised it was magical and benign. We all touched it and got our healing surges back. Whew! Oh, except for Rosy, who has no soul thanks to her little run-in with death way back when. The black orb that saved her life took a wee bit of payment. A pity. Anyway, onward with our cunning party!

We skipped a corridor down which the moping Rosy saw snake holes in the walls. Yeek. Went to a barracks which we happily looted. Korn went though some crawlspaces used by servants and said the coasts were clear, so on we went.

We came across a tall shaft going up, with flimsy stairs winding upward. Rosy and Markus put on their spiffy footpads and snuck up there to take a gander. We stayed below, confident that if they saw anything dangerous, surely they would turn right around and ask us for help. Surely. Meanwhile, our two sneaks heard and then smelled in the pitch blackness a Delver. This is a cute little creature with blindsight who can make a snack of a hardy team of paragon adventurers. So surely they went right back downstairs. Well, not really. They considered for five minutes how to sneak past it or attack it unawares. Then they pulled their heads out of their asses with an audible pop, and decided to come back and find us. We shat ourselves just hearing about it. We realized this passage above us probably went into the mountain rock, and gods know what is in there.

Soon we realised, though not too soon thanks to my hideous mapping skills and long history of party drinks, that we had come around full circle. The only place to go now was up the stairs in that room. That had stairs. In which we killed all those guys. Who came down the stairs. Stairs we did not go up to see what was up there. Or put on the map. Whoops. So we went up the stairs!

And guess what? We found out where that big green beam went to from that room down below! It burst up through the floor of this new room we found, and hovering in it, nay bathing in it with orgasmic glee, was a formidable looking guy in armor that seemed to consist mostly of wicked knives. Yike. We had found Korsh. In the corner was a figure in sacrificial robes, tied up and unconscious. We guessed that was Parsy and soon we found we were right. Fight fight!

Korsh had a charming habit of throwing blades at us. We had a charming habit of hitting ourselves with our own and each other’s weapons. [In this fight, there were an extraordinary number of 1s rolled.] During this merriment, I figured I would do the most good by untying Parsy, who probably could bless us with a bit of royal luck if not kick a bit of ass, royally. Talithe joined in and healed Parsy. Our first thought: yay, he’s free! Our second thought, after Parsy seemed to be upset that we were attacking Korsh: oh shit, he’s fighting for the other side! Our third thought, after he summoned a sword from nowhere and attacked Korsh: Whew! At that point the fight really turned and soon Korsh was on the ropes. In an ending as epic as it was acrobatic, Markus zipped around Korsh to get a good angle on him. This make Korsh take an attack of opportunity on him. But because of his hefty beefy marking skills, Korsh’s attack let Steeple take a free whack at him. This hit, making Korsh reel, and then Markus leaped high in the air and stabbed Korsh through the throat, killing him savagely. It was awesome.

We talked to Parsy about what was what. Turned out, as we thought, Korsh was not a nice guy. He was conducting a ritual of ascension to turn into an avatar of Zehir, which the world really does not need. Parsy was happy with us. So it was time to call in some favours. Number one was to get a bit of that royal, royal, yummy red Parsy blood, to open up Tarkin Hall. This is when Parsy looked a bit sheepish and had to admit that he was not of the Parsy family line. Whaaaat? Parsy I was the last king of the line. Princess Parsy is in fact of the same line, but never got to the throne, getting all disappeared instead in Fa-lir. So we have to go there to find the blood. Every Parsy after #1 was of a bastard line of some sort that was quietly swapped in, so the people would not lose faith in the kingship. I hate royalty, they are always doing shit like this. But now we had a secret, and with it, leverage. Parsy gave us free and clear ownership of Archhill Manor, tax-free, with renovations paid for throughDamien. Also, free passage in Lietherack. He also gave us his sword, which though not very powerful, was the one that, with the blood, would open Tarkin Hall! Neat! We asked about the Eye of Cados. Parsy said it was another Zehir thing and very dangerous, lots of people lost there, we are not ready for it. That reminded us of that pushy guy we saw at Tarkin, who also told us what we were not ready for. Parsy said that was the Planar Assassin. I kind of forget what else Parsy said about him though, whether he was hired by Parsy or what. Sorry!

We went back to Mooncity much more powerful and famous than when we left. Everyone was finding out that we got rid of the snakey tax collectors, and Markus even got a couple cult followers, awww!

We did some asking around and discovered that a pack of snot-nosed thieves called the Moonstars, and how freaking gay is that, took the ring that was the companion to the Clingy Ring that Steeple had so much naughty finger sex with. We decided not to track them down and beat them up until we spend some time and money fixing up Archhill Manor so it is secure against the revenge of common thieves.

We went to Fa-lir and surprise surprise, all was not well. The first bad sign was, in fact, literally a bad sign: scrawled in blood saying “Fa-Lir is Damned”. Soon we came across many rotting bodies in the streets, dead from sword wounds and chitinous spikes. Summoning our history, we recalled that a Baloth was here, and that is what Princess Parsy came here to kill, but that was ages ago and does not match this mayhem. We found yucky insect-dug tunnels covered up by boards—like that ever works. Hanging from a tree was a body with a sign around its neck: “Sinner”. Great, religious fanatics too!

In keeping with that theme, in the darkening evening we came to a church out of which was playing some rocking organ music. We recognised that this Fa-lir church was one for Sahanine, so we did not think it was necessarily a bad place. Markus snuck in and saw a dude playing with his organ. Markus watched a while, the perv…

…and must have made too much heavy breathing noises because the guy turned around. He was an Eladrin, so naturally he was insane, babbling about sinners and being sure to leave a donation in the donation box. Talithe put a coin in the box as we established whether the Organ Guy was going to attack us. Markus naturally decided not to wait and started running towards him. The guy climbed the organ pipes, then used Fey Step to vanish before Markus could stab him. Ho ho.

Our chortling at Markus was cut short by the sound of about a billion mandibles clacking outside. Then windows breaking. Then me reacting, as usual, a bit late [thanks to Orgoo’s low initiative bonus and Matt’s consistently low rolls for initiative]…

..then me screaming. In came the bugs! And wow, they were a hassle. They flung spikes at us that made us go really slow. We were scattered all over because we had been chasing Markus, so it took a while for us to cluster together.

It was a rough fight. [In one spectacular sequence, Rosy, as played by Floyd since Aby was gone, rolled a 1 to hit Korsh, then rolled a 1 to see if it hit a party member, then rolled a 1 to see if it hit someone else, then rolled a 20 to see if it hit himself!] We eventually prevailed, though a bit wet from peeing ourselves laughing at how Rosy managed to shoot herself in the face with her own bow.

We left town to rest in our camp, since we were in no hurry and the bugs would not miss us. It was a peaceful night. And a hellish morning. It all started when down the road walked this pale looking dude, holding hands lovingly with an incredibly hot woman in a red dress. Naturally I kept my cool and calm composure as I always do when I hear there is a beautiful woman nearby…

…and checked them out with cool detachment. Then I very wisely decided [Matt having failed a Wisdom check to give him the excuse to role-play this as Orgoo naturally would] that she was far too much woman for just one man, and accepted her kind invitation to follow her into the forest to “give her some help with something”. Oh, I knew what she needed help with and I was ever so ready to provide it. So leaving behind the rest of the party, who were exhibiting a variety of wariness, disgust, and dismissiveness, the three of us went into the forest. Markus (who, as we established, is a very naughty peeping tom sort) was following us sneakily. The woman kissed me, and the pale guy looked only mildly puzzled. Obviously a very open minded sort, very nice. It was a good kiss, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had better. She seemed to realise this, so she followed up with A Real Kiss, and I instantly fell in love. [She was in fact a Succubus. She had already charmed the pale guy, who was in fact a new character played by new player Tyler. Now she had us both charmed, and we regarded her as a very dear love of our lives that we would never harm.] I loved her so much that I hardly batted an eye when she introduced her friends, a few huge red-skinned fellows who I dimly recognised as Cambians, actual devils. But, I concluded, such a beautiful, charming, sexy, lovely, perfect woman such as this could not possibly have befriended bad devils. These must be the nice kind of devils. All was well and we were getting ready to get a six-way, five-guys-and-a-woman, on-the-forest-floor freak on when Markus up and ruined it by attacking and calling everyone over to save our charmed asses.

Succubi are so interesting. They charm you by kissing you, you see, so they are well protected. If anyone attacks her while you are nearby (and of course you want to be near her), you dive in front of the attack to take the blow instead of letting her get hit. So I got hit a few times that way. She also can try to dominate anyone nearby, and does a damn good job of it. She did so with nearly everyone. Funny enough, it did not work on me very well because of my huge ego. [Orgoo has a very high Charisma and therefore quite a high Will defence.] So while everyone was alternately missing her, getting whacked by the devils, and obeying her every whim to attack each other, I composed a sonnet:

O woman in red darken-eyed,
Your boyfriend wears dusty old rings.
For your heart the both of us vied,
Though I’d swear I saw on your back, wings.
Down a dark forest road you led us
And your kiss was the loveliest wine.
Gladly I’d accept my quietus
If I perish whilst nibbling your vine.
My friends they all come running
They swear you mean me harm
But I must say your buttocks are stunning
And my cock feels as long as my arm!
I fall as I watch your hips sway:
Mom said I would die this way.

Thank you!! [DM gave Matt several hero points for that, as well as to Floyd, who composed a series of funny limericks as well.]

It was the most interesting fight I’ve been in, and funny enough, weakness for women as I have, it was my even huger ego that saved the day. I was able to resist her charms well enough [rolling 20 on a will-based attack on her devil friend] that I shook off her spell and suddenly attacked her. She was weak as, and soon surrendered. She begged for mercy, saying she just was doing it for money. Everyone believed her except for me [with a high Insight roll]. I proclaimed she was a fucking DEVIL who had the power to charm us and she needed to die right now—you know, because we good people are sworn to defeat evil, and she was literally evil incarnate? Steeple and I argued the morality a moment. I rejected all this and smashed her fucking head in with my accordion.

I don’t really feel in the mood to keep writing. I can’t stop seeing her pleading eyes. I know I did the right thing, I know it had to be done. But I feel sick. Let’s get back to Fa-Lir and get busy doing more so-called Good Things…

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A flame trap, a slimy mask, and an annoying curse

Before sleeping we sent a message to Steeple to the effect of, come find us, the tax collectors you killed were evil so you can reset your program, see Greatenbeard, bring Markus and beer. But it turns out he was closer than we thought. See, old metalhead had a bit of a freakout last time we saw him. Somehow he had missed the fact that the year was a few centuries later than his factory-fresh new brain told him it should be, so he had run off screaming. That’s why we needed to go into the castle without him. During his freakout, Steeple bashed a few barrels too many and got arrested. By who? The snakey guards of course. And where did they put him? In the basement dungeon of the castle! When he got the message from us, Steeple was able to summon up the strength of tight-assed righteousness that fuels his very core, and managed to kill his captors (through the bars) and break out of the jail. We met up with him in the big room. After stopping him from splattering Korn on sight, we caught him up with our situation.

Oh, and Markus in the middle of the night had already snuck up the well in the room up the hall from where we were sleeping in a pile of hay. Impressed by our slaughter, Markus followed the trail of blood to find us snoozing. He admirably resisted the urge to dip our hands in warm water or slit our throats and other pranks, and satisfied himself with merely scaring the shit out of us. So we were once again one happy family. [Since we had lots of people now, but no Reyne, nobody controlled Aria this time. Presumably she stayed in the hay room with Lady Troubles.]

Korn led us back to the room full of magical stuff and found for us a scroll we had overlooked, called Wizard’s Escape. Using it, Steeple was able to very weirdly squish and slip through those cracks that before only Korn could. Then Steeple lowered a rope for him to hold as we climbed up to the first floor, bypassing the destroyed stairway.

We went through a dining room that looked fit for, well, a king, and entered another room full of holy symbols worshipping Zehir, that nutty guy, and lots of goblets and other culty things. Not the least of which were a bunch of cultists. These guys were considerably tougher in that they were dodging us like mad. But once we hit them, they popped like pig bladders. [They were very high-level minions.]

In the next room, we got a miserable feeling as soon as we entered. There were fewer-but-hardier cultists here, and whatever ritual they were doing, it did not agree with us at all. Reality seemed to warp: attacks of ours that seemed destined to hit their vitals turned away at the last moment, and we seemed unnaturally prone to weird mishaps. [The aura made all our 20 rolls fail to land a critical hit, and made us critically fail on rolls of 1 or 2.] It was a real shame because were it not for the curse, we would have gotten in several amazingly powerful hits on these fuckers. Markus in particular had several very skilful stabs foiled by this curse. At least he took it well…

Averting our eyes from the sticky mess of cultists with pulpy faces, we checked out the room. These guys were guarding a door, it seemed, and a search by the sharp-eyed Rosy revealed a faint trap glyph. Aha! Good thing we saw that! We’ll just have Markus defuse that sucker and then we will… BAM! That being the sound of Markus failing to defuse the trap and instead setting it off. It toasted all of us substantially, nearly downing us with one blow. Yeek. The problem, I said, is that these things probably reset and we still can’t get past the door… this thought being interrupted by Rosy eagerly pressing his face to the door to look through what he thought was a keyhole, but was in fact was probably a blob of scorched gibbets stuck to the door. We all dove out of the way and… BAM! It went off again. Most of us were out of range but something about having his eyeball pressed to the door put Rosy into harm’s way, and he took a very hard hit. He was knocked out and nearly killed in one blow. Fortunately I had tossed a heal on him after the first blast, or else he would have been Really Dead. You hear that, Rosy? You owe me one, girlie! And since you’re a party member I can’t collect my usual payment from you, so get creative! While keeping our relationship purely Platonic, of course.

Anyway, we worked together on the trap and focused on delaying it, not disabling it. That done, we all rushed into what we were sure would be a vast network of vaults dripping with treasure… and ended up in a tiny closet that barely fit all of us. Gah! But what was this? On the wall was a snaky, slimy mask. It was a Mask of Slithering. Markus of course pretty much gained a permanent erection as soon as he saw it. And just when we were getting used to seeing his face. Oh well.

We went through the second, nonflaming exit from the room, resisting the urge to take the flaming door off its hinges and use it as an offensive weapon… which would have been… er… stupid. We passed through a despoiled royal room of some sort and into a study filled with zealots around a big green beam coming out of the floor. That was another Zehir thing, Korn revealed after they were dead.

Another castle room, and quite a fright we got: two guys who looked like they meant business. One was a wizard with a ponytail who transformed into a snake, with no ponytail. At least he did not transform into a pony with no ponytail. That would have been freaky looking. Also there was a warrior type who proceeded to try to cut us up into bits. That was a bit tougher of a fight but we managed. I had special fun using my new Hedge Wizard Gloves to use Mage Hand to push these floaty glowing fungus things into their faces. On the wall of the room was a big charred mark which looked like a doorway. Some arcane research revealed that this was a dimensional door, now closed, but recently used. Maybe like that door we saw at Icespear?

We speculated as to what was going on. Korn volunteered that maybe it had something to do with the Yuan-Ti abomination that the cultists had summoned yesterday. What the what?? Could you have mentioned this earlier?? But maybe he did and we just kind of ignored him. He’s just a runty little thing, after all. Mental note: listen to Korn more often.

Anyway, we strolled into a lovely rooftop garden, full of trees and a happy little pond. We stopped at the edge, a bit wary. All of us, that is, except Steeple, who apparently was tiring of all this proceed-carefully shit and said that he would stride confidently to the far side. So when we discovered the garden was not exactly empty…

…we were taken a bit by surprise and the squishy ones normally in the back were attacked first. I got wound up in about a mile of snake, and so was Rosy. There was also a rattler which made a noise that could knock your teeth out of your mouth, and a fiery snake far off slinging hot death at us. We were looking in bad shape for a while. Fortunately I cast a spell which dominated the snake holding me, and made it run away, taking a few nice attacks of opportunity as it did. Then Steeple and Markus set to choppity chop, and Rosy had gotten away to start shooting arrows while heroically leaping from tree branches. It all turned out pretty well and we took a rest…

But now we are a bit depleted and can’t afford to take a long rest, because Parsy is in danger from the ritual. So onward we must go as best we can. Great goddess of fortune, give an old bard a break and make the final minion a Yuan-Ti possessed kitten.

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Snaaakes!

After all the rigmarole Markus went through to get into that sewer and therefore into the High District, we did not meet up with him for a while, presumably because he was gleefully stealing from the rich and giving to the poor… poor Markus, that is, heh. Also, Steeple was missing in action for a while as well. [Josh and Floyd could not come to this session.] We later learned what happened to Steeple but in the meantime we had a bit of a light party. So we proceeded with caution.

I woke up with the half-blond half elf, and half the cask of port gone. I had more than half a headache, however, and she was a bit less than half as pretty as I remembered her looking after the port. I stumbled out of bed and looked in the mirror, and realised she actually would realise she got the bad end of the deal, should she awake. I looked like… well, a 40-year old bard with a hangover. I wrote her a quick sonnet, tucked it under her pool, avoiding the puddle of drool I had left there, and tiptoed out.

Meanwhile Aria [played by Aby since Reyne was away], Rosy, and Talithe had gotten into the High District via the sewer passage. Aria bought and learned a Sending ritual. From that merchant mage in the High District they asked about the tax collectors. As usual, he rather shit himself and said he did not want to talk about that, and instead to talk to his master. Said master was a dwarf with robes and a monocle, named Greatenbeard. Finally, they got some answers over tea. He testified that the tax collectors were evil Yuan-Ti worshippers and he’s been looking for a way to investigate them. G had helped Parsy in the past and was concerned that there had been no sign of him for so long, so he asked us to use his teleportation circle to get into the castle and check things out. Aria used the Sending ritual to tell me to catch up with them. I got the message, got some wine, and got myself into the sewer. The thief guild said we needed to be back there in two days to be let out again.

Soon we were leaping into the teleportation circle and found ourselves in the castle. It was a room with murals showing how great the other Parsy men were so great, making the current one look like a real loser by comparison. Well, according to my notes, Parsy II liked building things, but he looked pretty studly with his trowel. And Parsy III was a badass undead fighter.

We entered a room with a big pool and several snaaakes! Well, a few snakey guards, a constrictor snake, and a rogue type who then transformed into a constrictor snake, yuck, and a big fiery snake, eek. We beat them without too much fuss but my beard got slightly charred. But hey, look how good I looked anyway! That half-elf really should have seen me after I had my bath and put on my full gear. I bet then she would not have sent my sonnet back, smeared with some foul substance I’d rather not identify. But enough about her, look at me!

Then into a room filled with alchemical equipment. More snakes and a rather badass snakey cultist dude. Again, not too terrible a fight, with only minor explosions as we gleefully set some potions alight. We salvaged some healing potions and Alchemist’s Fire, which is not only a good weapon but a nice mixer with rum to give it extra kick.

Next, a foyer with heaps of squishy cultists [minions] around a worship circle. Go, Aria area attacks! Some of them yelled, “For Korsh!” as they attacked. Who the what now? I reckon we’ll hear that name again soon.

In we strode to a huge room full of huge tables. At the tables were many more squishy cultists, filling out papers which we later learned were the Draconic papers we’d been seeing all over the land. So apparently we stumbled into their office. We proceeded to severely disorganise their organisation, not just killing everyone but deliberately mis-filing their papers. With our boots. The highlight of this fight was when I made a heroic leap from table to table to do something very impressive, to find that my leaping skills are somewhat wanting. I fell on my ass between two tables and attacked cultist ankles for a while.

During this battle a little figure appeared from a crack in the wall and shot and killed one of the cultists. He was a goblin—we had to restrain some of our more exuberant members from killing him on sight—named Korn. Turns out the little guy was a servant to Parsy and has been a fugitive for months, because Parsy was long ago kidnapped and held by the Yuan-Ti cultists! At last! Proof they were evil bastards! Parsy was somewhere in the castle, said Korn. For a long time he was in a basement dungeon, but now Korn was afraid they had moved him up to a room upstairs for some kind of nasty summoning ritual, in which Parsy would be sacrificed. Probably made into snake food. Like, we’d walk into the room and say, “what’s all this then?” and see a big snake and in the middle of the snake would be a big Parsy-shaped lump saying “mmmf!” which we know means “get me out of this fucking snake” in King-speak. So we needed to get upstairs, though Korn figured we had time for a rest first as the ritual takes at least a day to set up. Also, Korn said he could get through little cracks which allowed him to open doors and get things to help us. Yay. Now, time to sleep.

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Tour of Cados

The business with the Clingy Ring settled and Steeple now only able to count to 9, it was time to get back on the main quest. Off to Tarkin Hall to find Mrs. Dragonface, hopefully shacked up with our own dragonface friend Corhlan and other others who went missing. First we found out that Tarkin Hall used to be a military outpost, used for a war with the Barbarians in the time of Parsy I. (We now have the new and not-so-improved Parsy IV, so this war was a long time ago.) These barbarians came from Mormok, in the north of Cados. Turns out Parsy I had a daughter, Princess Parsy… well helllllo, this story finally becomes interesting. She sounds sexy and assertive; she commanded troops out of Tarkin Hall. She could command my little soldier anytime. But she’s probably dead now, hm. That makes her considerably less sexy. I had an undead girlfriend once and let’s just say it’s something I drink to forget.

As we mulled this over, we were visited in the middle of the night at Archhill Manor. There were a robed guy and a guard, both looking human but with slit snakey eyes glowing green. Which, I don’t know about you, makes me trust a guy a bit less. They said they came from King Parsy and were to collect taxes. I hate taxes and tried to talk them out of it, that our mayor buddy Damien said we could stay there free while we kept down the spooky evil. They did not buy it. But this little debate was cut short when Steeple got some kind of screw loose and attacked the robed guy! What the fuck, metal man?? He went down right away, bam, dead. Hm, I guess he was not an evil antihero after all. We chased down the guard and Rosy merely knocked him out (that’s just how virtuous we are) and dragged him in to figure out what to do with this mess. Meanwhile Steeple’s internal Program of Uptight Righteousness 2.0 threw a system error and he shut down. I guess that thing he said by being animated by a sense of goodness and right was really true. We figured that until we found out that our visitors were really evil and had deserved this pre-emptive attack, Steeple was toast. All we had to go on were some papers the robed guy had, written in Draconic.

Markus, true to form, gleefully set about getting rid of the body. He lumped it off into the night. It seemed like a good idea at the time. He used his nifty candle to stay hidden. But, and I don’t think this was a coincidence, a huge warg was tracking him. Despite being hidden, the warg smelled him out, and Markus was in a fight for his life. We did not know this was happening just a few streets away. Markus pulled every trick in the book, including climbing, hiding, squealing like a little girl, slashing, and doing several acrobatic tricks. The warg replied by biting its way through a wall and teaching us our new fun fact for the day: Wargs can climb pretty well! Soon Markus was down. But not before he had run close enough to the mansion that his little-girl screams reached us. We swarmed out, I healed Markus, we attacked wargie, and it ran off. The town guard were coming, so Markus hastily tore up the robed guy’s body to make it look like the warg had attacked him, which I admit is pretty clever.

When the fuzz showed up, Markus then had the bright idea of accusing Rosy of killing the robed guy, whose body had been discovered by then. I kind of did not follow the logic there, though I admit I was not paying attention. Off the guards carted Rosy. But I used my Glib Limerick skillz and went to the guard house to talk Rosy out of the hoosegow, making up the story of how we paid the tax but saw them attacked by the warg. We said the guard ran off. Oh right, the guard! He was still in our wine cellar. We mostly kept him knocked out and I was careful to never let him see or hear me, so I could make up some story to get us out of this mess. We all had a brief conversation about how, with Steeple out of order, I was now the only good-alignment adventurer left, and how the hell did THAT happen? When did I become the responsible one for fuck’s sake? Oh, about Steeple. When the warg showed up, he kind of reactivated. But he was acting like a normal, factory-fresh Warforged, with a number, not a name, and was taking orders from Markus as if he were just a foot soldier under a commander. Markus put me second in command. Rosy was designated as a hostile civilian to be ignored, in fact to be killed if Markus died. Hoo boy.

Struggling with my conscience and still hoping we’d find out that these two lizardeyed guys were actually bad guys, and therefore to justify my and Steeple’s actions, Aria went around to find out more about these Draconic papers. She talked to a scholar who pretty much shit a brick when he read them. He said these were just dragon worship scriptures, but she could tell he was lying and very concerned. He tried to keep the papers or buy them, but Aria talked him out of it, rather forcefully, it nearly coming to blows.

Meanwhile I went to Damien and made sure we were cool with the law. The poor guy looked terrible. Wargs, dead and missing tax collectors, and a long line at his door. He wearily said we needed to go to Lietherack, the capital, to talk to Parsy’s men about the tax issue.

Aria and I teamed up and went to a priest of Bahamut with the papers. He said that they were very dangerous to have, that he’d be paid a lot of money if he took them to Parsy, and that people were probably looking for us. Our best bet was to go to Lietherack to find out what kind of mess we’d gotten into. The priest said that this was all mixed up with some kind of Yuan-Ti cult, and the tax collectors were probably worshippers of same, hence the creepy eyes. Great. This we need.

We bundled the guard up and in the dead of night we headed to Lietherack by way of Tarkin Hall. Onward, brave horses! When we got to the Hall, it was abandoned and locked up, sealed up with a door which looked like, if you’ll forgive me, a lady’s privates. It has a, um, slit that needed to have a, er, sword inserted in it, and above that a little, um, hole into which we needed to put some blood. I must admit I’m not too familiar with lady plumbing besides my obvious part in the engagement, but doesn’t that sound kind of familiar? I should have paid more attention to mom’s birds and bees lecture. Anyway, we knew all these fun questy facts because there we met a mysterious guy who was waiting there for us.

The guy called himself an “assassin from many planes” and he was obviously a badass. He said that the sword needed for, um, entry to Tarkin Hall was that of Princess Parsy. OK, I need to stop making analogies about the door because it’s just getting too distracting for me. Ahem. So the Princess was last seen in the forest of Fa-lir, also on our map. She went there to take care of some kind of “behemoth”, the kind of word you don’t like to hear when you still find ogres scary. The blood had to be royal blood, I guess from the Parsy line. Anyway, this assassin guy was maddeningly smug and mysterious and did not tell us much else. He seemed to enjoy our confusion. He said it was probably a good idea to go on to Lietherack. So on we went!

We headed west. Two things happened of note. One was that we were attacked by wargs. That was not so bad. The other was that the guard was dead, frozen to death. Turns out he was cold-blooded in lizard fashion, and did not do well in the cold we were subjecting him to. That was bad, very bad. I feel bad. I am not feeling good. This is definitely something I need to make right somehow. If this guy was an innocent, I will need to do some serious penance.

We got to Lietherack and settled into an inn. We learned that if we wanted to know anything about the draconic papers, we needed to go to the High District. But the guards, also lizardy, would not let us in. I was staying separate from the others since I was already feeling evil enough and they would just get me into more trouble. They tried to con their own way in, but failed, and tried to find ways to sneak in. I waited for them to leave them talked to the guards myself. In the end, I decided fuck it and gave them the papers in order to get passage in. I think it will do the trick. I now have to wait for the powers that be to get in touch with me. Meanwhile, I plan to drink heavily.

The others went to the seedier parts of the common district to find contacts in the Thieves Guild to get fake papers. A bartender said they could just smuggle everyone in but Markus had it stuck in his eyeball head that it was fake papers or nothing. They saw a suspicious pair leave the tavern during this exchange, and decided to follow them. They saw the pair go down a sewer grate, so they followed. They briefly debated whether to kill them in an ambush before realizing that this was something that was done by people who are not unaligned, but rather who were… oh what’s the word? Oh yes: EVIL. So they just intimidated them. Hilarity ensued. One ran off and Markus chased him over the rooftops. The other was a rich dude who said he was just being smuggled into the High District by the other guy. So Steeple, Rosy, and Aria went with the rich guy deeper into the sewers and eventually came out in the High District. Markus caught his quarry and intimidated him into also giving him passage… and take him back to the sewer… where they started. And all this to avoid paying the bartender a few gold to get smuggled in… through the sewer. I’m glad I missed all this and instead caught up on an important date with a cask of port and a half-Elven half-blonde.

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One ring to fool them all

Ahh, a brand new day, fresh and clean, with no sign of any sordid actions from the previous night, whatever they may have been. A fresh page in my journal, and a happy sun in the sky. After a good rest, all seems right with the world. But oh, Steeple had his finger snapped off by a mage in an astral plane. Would you like to know more? Then read on, loyal audience!

We decided to take on a few little tasks before moving on to Tarkin Hall to chase down good old Mrs. Dragonface who we briefly met in the room with the Portal Of Destruction. We could use a bit more equipment and practice before that daunting fight. [We were on the verge of level 7 and wanted to get past it before going into a whole new dungeon.]

So we chased down that little warg problem. We went to a spot where they had attacked and camped out. But nothing happened. Well, shit. The tracks, however, led north… toward Tarkin Hall. So there you go.

For our next trick we decided to see what was up with the clingy ring. Steeple and the ring must have been having some marital disputes because he seemed to want to get rid of it. I know how you feel, metal man. Never get a ring on your finger. But I also admit that I was feeling a bit weird myself. After sleeping I woke up with the strange sense that somebody in the party was going to betray us. And others in the group were looking at each other all shift eyed. I did not trust that ring much, and in any case, maybe it had some kind of awesome power we could unlock, like making me invisible or something. Ahh, the list of things I’d like to see if I were truly invisible… Let’s just say, it’s a long list. So off to Dof Nomos we went, where we’d heard we could learn more.

We got some horses, because now we are so rich. We stayed at a really boring in with no wenches. Less said the better.

The next day Steeple said he saw (or imagined? Or was he drunk on motor oil? Who knows?) a wraith come out of the ring and taunt him, saying it could not die, it was bound to the ring, and had to kill “things like you”. I don’t know much about metal man sensitivity, but being called a thing had to hurt a bit. So he was even more peeved. The wraith also said what happened to Tobias and Bethany was horrible. We started to theorize that the ring had been made by Tobias to spy on Beth to make sure she was not slutting around. Good luck with that, say I. Some girls like to be watched. I’m just saying.

In a very cold snowy forest we found a huge tree with a portal built into it. Wafts of the Feywild were drifting out of it, melting the snow. It was quite beautiful. The Eladrin nearby said that was the way in to see mages of great power who could help explain the ring. Markus remembered how famous this place was, and this tree especially. So in we went!

I love the Feywild. The chicks there hardly wear anything but leaves. But this was even better. The Eladrin there were really nice to us and directed us to a castle. There this cool Eladrin dude made a portal for us to go through to visit Fargoth, a very powerful mage who was interested in artifacts like the ring. In we went and ended up on a plateau looking out over an endless jungle. Damn nice.

Fargoth said the ring was unusual, unlike most artifacts it was quite secretive and closed about its motives. This was because it had a soul in it! Was it Bethany? Fargoth said that the body is like someone holding a balloon: there is a string connecting the body to the balloon, which is the soul. He said the wraith we saw may have been like the string. I was a bit confused but am writing all this down faithfully as I remember it. I trust that my fellows will scribble in the margins [RW translation: please leave comments and make new wiki pages as you like] to find the truth in all this.

Fargoth looked at the remade journal and the finger that Markus brought from the lady corpse we found. He confirmed the body was probably Bethany’s, and she was killed by powerful dark magic. The end of the journal where a nasty hand accused Bethany, Fargoth reckoned, was written by Tobias, but while he was possessed by some other force, since he knew Tobias and did not think him capable of normally writing such things. He also said demons tend to be very interested in these artifacts, which may explain the Evistros. He said the only thing to crack the mystery was to let the soul in the ring possess him (Fargoth) so one of us could talk to it.

We decided Steeple was the best one to talk to whatever was in the ring, and it was a good idea because Steeple did far better than I could have. I tend to lose the plot easily. As a weird male voice emitted from Fargoth and Steeple answered its questions, much was revealed. We gave some insights to give Steeple a few ideas what the possible answers were, but Steeple picked the right one nearly every time. Way to go, metal man. Here is what we found out:

  1. The soul is the servant whose journal we read!
  2. The servant was soulbound into the ring by Tobias.
  3. Bethany was killed by Tobias.
  4. Tobias inadvertently killed himself! When Bethany died, she turned into a wraith. The wraith attacked and killed Tobias, who could not bear to defend himself against his former love. By that time, he wanted to die anyway…
  5. The purpose of the ring was to spy on Bethany. Aha! Kinky!
  6. Tobias actually made this ring. He was one powerful mofo.
  7. Tobias put the soul of the servant in the ring to make sure Bethany was faithful. She was, actually. And she probably was not the slut that others thought she was. Because…
  8. The process was devastating to the soul, very painful. It sought revenge on Tobias for putting it into the ring. So the servant’s soul used the ring’s inherent power, which was to put thoughts in other peoples’ minds. In this case, to plant suspicion that Bethany was a slut.
  9. The soul did this to take revenge on Tobias for trapping it in the ring. He made Tobias so mad with jealousy that it drove Tobias to kill her. And that is what really devastated him, to know later that he killed his darling wife for no good reason.
  10. Even worse, the servant was secretly in love with Bethany. To see her being pawed by Tobias, all to spy on her for no reason, made the servant’s madness even deeper.
  11. When Bethany took the ring off to give to the jeweller, to have it appraised, the servant saw his chance. The ring would not arouse in Tobias suspicion of adultery unless it saw proof. The soul convinced the ring that this taking off of the ring was in order to do the naughty with the jeweller.
  12. The servant also got the ring to put into Beth’s head the idea that Tobias was spying on her, so she’d try to disenchant it—and hopefully remove him from his torture.
  13. The wraiths are not really Bethany and Tobias, but they were created by their deaths, as a kind of shadow.
  14. The wraith created by Tobias’ death summoned the Evistro demons, by using the scrolls, doing what Tobias knew how to do but never dared.
  15. There might be another companion ring, like a shadow partner to this one. It was stolen off Bethany’s corpse by a thief in the slums.

After all this, the servant begged for eternal peace. He had been separated from the ring by Fargoth, and now that it had confessed it was free to go, to be dispatched to the hereafter, to peace. But Steeple did not think the servant deserved that. Personally, I disagreed. I think the poor buggar went mad, and though he went on to do terrible things, he was not accountable for his actions. He’s just a freaking servant, and had had his soul ripped out and put into a ring to spy on his secret love. Who might not go mad? But Steeple is different that way. He’s all righteous, and apparently fueled by a sense of having to do what is right. He decided to punish the servant by putting him back into the hellish ring, and the ring back onto his finger. Whoa. Hardcore, metal man.

But it did not last long. The soul, mad with rage, used the power of the ring to get Markus to attack Steeple. That was fun for a while. Too bad he missed, ha ha. Then it seemed to possess Fargoth, and we were shitting ourselves. But Fargoth instead petrified Steeple. Then walked over and snapped off his finger with the ring. Then tossed the finger and ring far into the jungle. Then unpetrified Steeple. Ow. Does metal bleed?

Well, that was enough fun for one day. Back we went. But hey, I got a souvenir! Fargoth gave me some Efreeti skin!

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Into the Mountain

We repaired the torn-up journal with a little something I picked up called the Make Whole ritual. I even skipped a night of wenching and carousing, it was that important to me to figure out what the fuck was up with that haunted mansion. I have the scrap of journal here, but unfortunately a bit of it is missing. Basically Bethany was la la la, I’m getting married, how wonderful is life. Then she worries about how much money Tobias is spending, which comes to a head as she worries about how much this ring cost. She started to get aggravated that the ring would not come off, as we saw with Steeple’s love affair with it, and she had it appraised. She thinks he’s making her a puppet. I think she wanted to get the ring off because it was interfering with the aesthetics of the blowjobs she was giving out like Christmas candy around town. But that’s just my opinion. Anyway, she wanted to remove the enchantment. At the end of the journal it looks like Tobias found her little journal and got a bit peeved at her, but that’s where the rest of it was lost. So I think my theory was right, and those two wraiths were the two of them. With a bit of research we confirmed that the body rot theory was right, that Bethany’s body in the room below started to rot after her spirit was dispatched by us. And wraiths are created when powerful people die violent deaths that leave something uncompleted. So there you go. And we definitely need to find out more about this ring. I’m just glad I did not put the damned thing on, whew.

On to happier topics: I ordered a magical accordion! I am pleased as punch about it. It will allow me to cast powerfully tuneful and moving spells—in my case literally moving, har har. And it can be used as a shield if someone throws something at me. I was inspired by a performer I knew from this club I used to work. He had a great routine that involved an accordion and a monkey, and sometimes a topless chick if the club owner’s wife was not around…

(At this point the page is torn off, and the following page is written in a very unsteady hand.) [In fact, Matthew typed up a long journal entry but MS Word crashed and lost all autosave data.]

Fuckingty fuck ing fuck god dam fucking shit fuck fucking jornal shit!!! I wrote the whol damn journalstory thing out all propper and fucked if I cant find the pages and they are all torn out, fucking damn it all to hell!! I rmember drinking wine as I worte it and by the end I cant rmember how I ended it.. maybe a wee bit too much wine.in fact, now that I try to write here, I am finding it hard to spell. I know the cure. More wine!

Gah, I just can’t be fucked to rwite it all out again, its never as good the 2nd time and it always bores me all to hell to rewrite things. So im going to just do short notes, like. So anyway we slept over but it was snotwing. Rosie follwed the tracks ok though in the snow. We ended up in the forest from my dream! Or was it? I think it was forst but may be it was planes? The arch and everything. There was a door into a cave into the mountain. Ahh, the wine is making me feels better about rewaiting all of this crap but I still want ot keep it short. There were the satues that I dreamed, and Aria, good history girl she is, rememberd how they are. They are the patron somethings of Icespear. Well, I was close, I rememberd them as Silversausage in my dream, and that’s kind og the sams thing. One was a war guy and there was a pooftah looking monacle guy who was all about learning and shit like that. We foleved a puzzle how to get in, asking how to finish this: OTTFFSS. I knew of course the next letter awas E, because it’s One Two Three Five Six Siven Eight. I knew this one from when I has this girlfriend who was a librearian. She liked to do it in the stacks in the very back where they kepts all the puzzle books and we would read em as we kinda recharged. Anyway we ended up in a rooms with a naked nymph statue and dwarfy painings. We went one way and fought a bunch of icy zombies in an ice room that can an icy door with an icey tunnel on the other side. It was pretty icy. We did not like the look of the tunnel so we wnet back. Oh and there were thouse fucking boneshark zombies that we fought when Rodie died before.

Another rooms we killed a bunch a rotwing flying zombies but they hardly flew because we KICKED THER ASSES so fast! Rosie got gangbanged by them though since she did her usual dumb run in and whaaa trick, and somene nearly got pushedinto a huge pit. I think it was the bull. But all that was fine because there was a altar to Vicna the deathy god and it has on it a weird candle. It makes dim light. But get this, it makes the light dim EVEN IF ITS IN BRIGHT LIGHT! Gives me the creaps but might be good for those dates you have to do in braod daylight but you think it would kind of overall look better if the light were dim. Anyway Markys pretty much came all over himslef when he saw the candle so now its his. It also makes a daily illusion that looks like nobody is there.

Next up: a room full of all the shit that you see in a haunted mansion ride at the fair. Spider half woman flinging webs. Nasty ass snake whose rattle made everyone piss their pants it was so scarry. Some big big spiders, And about a jillion and a half teeny little spiders what made these red webs that sloewed you down and were fucking impossible to kill till Aria blastied them with fire. Somehow Aria and I got spanked the hardest in that room and it was looking pretty bad but we lived. I still have red webby bits in my beard though, and this girl I was drininking wine with in town last night said she thourght I was a bloody Scot! I’m Irish Cajun dog damn it and it’s my fucking broether OrOGG that has the red hair! Hm, thinking of that girl rings a bell about what happeneed last night.. I was writing the journal, the pages I lost, in the pub here in town and down she sat, atttracted by my natural animal mangatism. “What are you writing theere, handsome? Are you a Scottish poet?” Naturrally I says yes because I could just tell, and that’s when we started drinknig a lot of whisky.Hm, then I can’t remenber. But I desfinitely had my jouirnal at the pub then. Hm.

Anyways we went to a last room and throug the door we heard somneone talking about moving all this shit to Tarkin Hall. We barged in and saw a big room with obeleisks and a portal on the far side with a girlie Dragonboarn by it. I thought it was Corhrlann, then I thought he looked kind of hot, then I felt weird thinking htat about a dragon dude, then I realized it was actually a girls, then I reallized it was not Chorlan, then I got sad. But no time for crying in my red beard because fight fight!There were two huge zombie hulks, and a badass wight and a swarm of scarabs, oh no not more bugs!! Right away the dragan chickie says “Finish them off!” and jumpts into the portal. It was a tough fight and it was making me shit my pants because Markes ran into the thick of it and tried slashyslashy, but got knocked down right away. I was tryng to get to him but could not get past the icy zombies guarding the doors. Meanwhile Steeple was getting all steamy because these scarabs were really hard to damage and Arias fire was all about melting the zombies. I yelled we should get out before Markys fell so we were stuck there to the end so we fought on. It got better though when the wight died, thannks to Rosy Arrows. We killed thm all.

Then we tried to figure ot what was up with the portal. It disinteteragaterated anything that went trhough it, except for this chest we found what had a rune on it. We reckoned the rune stopped the portal from diss, doing that to it. So the dreagon chick probably had the rune and we did not and none of us erwe small enough to fit onto the chest, booohoo. So we split up the loot, which was very good. Great fast boots, a wand good for shileding for Aria, nice learther armeor. Woo hoo! Slept there a bit and then back to town where I drank a lot and wrote the journal which I now have reritten! HooraY! And It’s better than I wrote it before I reckon!

But it still makes me wonder where those torn pages went.. as I drink more wine i remeber more. That girl who thought I was a poet, the one with the Scot fetish, she invited me back to her place. But her Da and gran were still awake. She went out and got haggis from a guy with a cart down by the well and I talked with the old dears to pass the time. She came back with a box full of haggis. I remember now it smellled terrible abut all whisky had made it all seem ok so we ate it and I made up poems in the Scottish vein to get her all warmed up. But just as soon as the oldies fell asleep and we were free to slip off to her room, my guts were seized with a terrible feeling. I must not have any Scot in me because the whisky and haggis were not agreeing with me. I excused myself by saying I had to talk to the man who sold it to get the recipe, it was so delicious, and dashed out the door. I barely made it to the well and the haggis seller was not gone, bugger him. My guts were like a sack full of snakes at this pooint and nature was not calling so much as screaming in my ear. I barely got my pants down to unleash all hell onto the cobblestones. But the resulting mess was simply unacceptable for female compnay so I needed to wipe my arse with something and I got out… oh hell. The journal.

Now I know where my original pages went. And I am afraid, dear reader, that you won’t be seeing them ever again… that is unless you look in the well..

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Ghostbusters!

Rosy picked up the tracks of some huge, hulking zombies the guards saw, leading out of town. Our old friends still had not shown up, worryingly. But our dreams had implied some great evil, occurred in the snow, and talked about “friends at the inn”; was this a precursor to the attack on the inn? The tracks led north, into the snowy part of the world. It seemed that our only hope to find out what happened to the others was to follow this slim clue. We spread word around town where we were headed, in case our old friends came here, and off we headed.

We went north through the Cados Tunnel, under the mountains called the Weasand of Cados, following the tracks. We arrived at Moon City, a fairly large place. The tracks went around the town, headed further north, but it was very, very cold and we needed to stop for the night. The cold was supernatural, and again reminded me of my dream. As long as we were close to these wooden stakes driven into the snow to mark the path, we were barely warm enough, but once we were a little bit away, the chill penetrated us to the bone. To the inn, called the Saddled Pony, and some hot brandy.

In the morning we made sure the innkeeper knew who we were and left a message for our missing friends. We knew a wizard was in town and it seemed like he was the one with the big balls, but we did not want to lose the tracks, so we followed them into the snow. However, this took us away from the protective stakes, and we quickly started to suffer. Even my Endure Elements ritual did not good; it was magical weather. So back to town we went to talk to this wizard about this fucking cold.

At the inn we had met two brothers, Lian and Ethan. They told us about this wizard, Tobias Archhill, who lived in a manor in town, and he indeed had been working on magicks to combat the chill. But nobody had heard from him for months now, and the mansion was supposedly haunted. Sounds like a job for… adventurers!!

In front of the mansion were some dopey guards who I charmed into letting us enter the house. But we decided not to go in the front door—far too easy—and instead climbed up to a first-floor window. From the window were weird glowing lights but when we climbed they stopped, we heard a clatter of something small and metal hitting the floor, and silence. We came into a room which seemed to be a disused study. There was a big table with a teleportation circle on it. Lots of scrolls on the floor in a heap. I looked at them and could recognize their nature [succeeded at Arcana] and got a nasty chill down my spine. These were not bunny-fluffing spells. I could not tell what they were but they were very powerful, and dark. I could not bear to take any but someone else took a couple.

As Steeple went towards a doorway a vase whizzed by him and shattered, and he heard maddening whispers in his head, scrambling his brains a bit. He could also barely move. [This was an area effect by the wraith which kept you stunned and did psychic damage.] We bashed through the door to escape and came face to shadowy screaming face with a Mad Wraith. Oh, shit. We backed up and proceeded to fight. It brought in some little wraith friends as well. The bitch was that when we were close to the big one, we were stunned. That meant that most of us could not both move to it and attack, since it always seemed to put itself a little ways away, not far enough to be charged, not close enough to hit. Bastard. We eventually wore it down by pulling out the big guns, using held actions, and slogging away. At least I was able to stay far enough away to keep attacking it and helping the others a bit, but we all felt a bit useless most of the time. Markus shone the brightest here, since we was able to do that thiefy move-and-attack trick on it.

When we finally got rid of the wraiths, and the big one cried “I’m sorry” as it died…

…And dropped a ring with that same metal thud as before— helllooo, and quite a ring! We quickly figured out it was very special, likely an artefact, and quite possibly intelligent. Unable to tell more, Steeple decided to slip it on his finger. We all know what was going on. A metal guy does not find a metal girl that often, and when a metal guy and a metal girl love each other very much… We averted our eyes discreetly as they, um, coupled. OK, I admit I watched. Steeple denies all this but I testify here in the journal they were getting their freak on. Still no effect from the ring (other than a slight moistness… ow, Steeple slapped me!) so we wondered if it were currrrrsssssed! He took it off successfully. Fhew. He set it down. It vanished and appears on his finger again. Uh oh. Clingy girlfriend. I had a clingy girlfriend once. She insisted I take her everywhere in a Bag of Holding. Yes, she was a Halfling, don’t judge me. Anyway, looks like Steeple and the ring are a match made in heaven, or at least some eternal plane of an unknown nature, and he’s stuck with it. He can hold it and it won’t go onto his finger, but if it leaves his hand, back on it goes all by itself. Damn, am I glad I did not put it on.

We found in the other room a chest which contained some silver pieces and a journal. In it, a servant talks about Tobias marrying a girl named Bethany. The servant reported getting “weird materials” for a present Tobias wanted to give her, and worried about it all going wrong. Perhaps this was the ring? A few days later, the newlyweds were having a fight about the ring, about how much it cost. Hmm…

We explored the rest of the first floor. No more nasties. We found more servant’s quarters, and signs that the place was vacated hastily months ago. The master bedroom had a bathtub full of water, for example. The bed there was all ripped up, and though there was a journal there, it was also ripped to pieces. We took the pieces.

Downstairs to the ground floor we crept. We found a room with tables, perhaps a dining room. At one end was a corpse dressed in fine lady clothes. It had been dead maybe three months. Wait, three and a half. Wait, four. It was rotting rapidly before our eyes! It stopped when it reached six months dead. Ewww. Maybe killing the wraith did this? It was Bethany’s spirit and while it was wandering around, the body did not rot?

We found a kitchen and storeroom filled with rotting food, and a skeleton. It had a diary of a servant as well that last said: “Heard strange noises in the study.” Then: “We are all fucked.” Hmmm.

The only place left was a hallway to the back of the house. Markus cleverly decided to pull back the carpet runner and saw underneath some runes. With my and Typh’s arcana knowledge we saw that they were alarms. Typh climbed the wooden wall and made his way down the hall without touching the floor. (If you have never seen a minotaur climb a wall, you should. It’s really funny.) He peeked in through the far door.

He reported (with hand signals, or hoof signals) that there was somebody there, and we needed to surprise them as we attacked. We made a plan. Markus went to the kitchen and fey stepped through the wall to go under a table in the room, staying hidden. We tried to all climb down the walls, but somebody fell and set off the alarms, so we all rushed in pell-mell. We did manage to get the drop on them.

“Them” were two evistro demons on the table tearing something to shreds. (We later discovered it was the last journal, but we never got the pieces because they later burned.) It was a grand library with a long table down the middle. Markus was underneath, ready to sneak attack. In we ran and the battle joined. But things quickly went a wee bit pear-shaped. It all started when Markus turned his head to see, under the table with him, gleaming red eyes and a fiery glowing mouth. Oh shit! Another Mad Wraith!

We set up a good battle formation, though, and though the wraith kept stunning those who were close, we managed to do pretty well for a while. There was a little wrinkle as Typheras’ fire spells set the table on fire, and some of the alchemical junk on it exploded. We figured this wraith was Tobias. Steeple showed him the ring and the wraith tittered madly. The demons were right bastards and when they worked together, they did heavy damage. Markus and Typheras went down, but not before Typheras showed them a bit of minotaur love by crash charging them…

I was out of heals but was feeling quite healthy otherwise, so I decided to do a bit of direct intervention. I lured the wraith to attack me, attempting (and as it turned out, largely failing) to get it to believe I was casting a devastating ritual.

But it was now far enough away that the others could wale on the evistros, and quickly dispatched them. Then they came to layeth the smack upon the wraith. After the small matter of putting out the fire (thank you, interrupted bathing naked lady), we were victorious! In the ashes we found a crystal ball which we determined would stave off the cold. Ahhhh, nice.

We went to talk to the mayor of Moon City, a knight named Damien. Turned out that Tobias was having big money troubles and tried to use alchemy to make his trade. Not very well. He seemed especially tight on money after his wedding, and we reckon the ring had a lot to do with this. Tobias used to be in the military. Damien also dished some dirt on King Parsi, the poobah of these lands. Parsi knew about the “Great Eye”, which was a snowy whirlpool out in Cados which was slowly growing, spreading this magical cold, and spawning nasty creatures. But Parsi had given up doing anything about it and instead threatened anyone who talked about it or put it on a map. Nice. And this whirlpool started up about the same time Parsi got in power. Hmmm. I bluffed Damien into believing that we should stay in the mansion to keep the evil magicks at bay, and that we could use a few volunteers from town to help us clean it up. But the party may end when King Parsi comes around to check on what we are doing. We’ll see. Damien also will welcome our help finding what is attacking sheep around town; there are rumors of wargs and wolves.

I showed the evil scroll to a local priest, who said he’d check it out. We showed the ring to a jeweller, who said it was indeed Bethany’s wedding ring, and worth a huge sum that she worried had been too much. It was indeed an artefact, he said, and the elves in Dof Nomos might know more about it. He also said everyone in town knew Bethany was a loose and immoral woman who went to bed with many people about town, both before and after the wedding. Seems a bit unfair! I try to do the same in every town I go to and nobody calls me loose and immoral… oh wait, they do. OK, that’s not fair either! People like Bethany and I just like to have a bit of fun!

Anyway, we now have plenty to do, but first order of business is to follow those tracks and find our friends. The Map of Unseen Lands item gave us an idea where to look for all these goodies: map of cados

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Party shuffle

[This is when Dylan took over from Floyd as DM. Thanks for all the good times, Floyd! Floyd joined the party as a player.] We journeyed north on the road. While I was apparently sleeping off a massive hangover [Matt had to miss the first encounter] the rest of the party fought a pack of were-rats who attacked us in camp. Apparently I am not as essential to the party as I say in all my songs, because they managed to survive without me. But I bet they missed my singing. I have a great voice and an innate sense of rhythm. Anyway, they made it out OK but caught some bad diseases.

I luckily had recently bought and learned the ritual so I could now cast Remove Disease myself (which would have made my previous dating life a lot less expensive, believe me). I did not have enough residuum, though, and could only scrounge up a bit more from the merchants travelling with us even though I used every wile in my book. I only had enough to cure the worst: Moon Frenzy threatened Rosy and Markus. I removed it with both graceful skill and a charming bedside manner that made my patients always remember me as “that handsome doctor”. I would have offered Rosy a free gynaecological exam (it’s my specialty) but I make it my firm rule never to mess about with members of my adventuring party. Well, it’s more a guideline than a rule. And I’ve only really been enforcing it starting this year. But I am resolved to stick to it! Anyway, Markus fought off his remaining Filth Fever by himself. Good on him, it can be tricky. I’ve had it myself. Free tip: Never take off your pants in a sewer.

Onward we went up the road. One night, sleeping in the open, we all had strange and vivid dreams. I was in a cold field. A voice asked me how loyal I am to my friends. I replied, to the death. It asked something similar about “everyone at the inn”. I replied, well I want them alive to hear my tales of bravery. I was very cold and suffering. I saw in the distance a stone arch before a hill. Next to it were statues of guys in robes. I could sort of recognize them [History minor success]. They were good, not evil. Their names had something to do with… silver? And a sausage? That can’t be right. I fell to the snow, very weak. I felt a trapdoor under the snow, dug it out, and opened it. As I slid into it, I awoke.

…awoke to find that Scrin, Dardanos, and Cohrlann were gone! I looked everywhere but saw no trace of them. Rosy and Markus did not seem very concerned so I had to put on the asshole hat to insist they help look. Those jerks. Anyway, we still found no trace. Since they knew where we were headed, we decided we may as well go there so we could catch up. We stopped, as planned, in Rivermore, at the Starblazers Inn, and spent the night.

…And we awoke to a huge commotion. The inn was under attack! We rushed out of our rooms. Zombies were ravaging the innspeople and already many were dead. Running out of their rooms were three people we did not know but who joined the battle with aplomb, so we reckoned they were adventurers. One was Steeple [played by Floyd], one of the very few Warforged I had ever seen in my life. Intelligent metal, quite a sight! He was a defender of some sort and waded into the fight. Another was Aria [Reyne], a controller who flung spells from the door of her room. Yet another was Typheras [Page], a minotaur. No bull! He also waded into the fray defender-like, starting off with a jump from the balcony onto a little zombie, squishing him. Well done! And boy, we needed the help. Those zombies were nasty, stinky, and vicious. Markus helpfully jumped out the window with the intention to run around the building. Um, thanks? He fey stepped back in as he realized his error. But we all got into the flow of things and dispatched them. Some of them were Corruption Corpses, which exploded with an awful splatty boom and left behind them puddles that started to rot everything they touched, and spreading. Just about all the commoners were dead. Nothing do but talk to the guards, try to find next of kin, and set fire to the place before the rot spread any further. Just another day in the life of the world’s most inn-destructive heroes!

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Bear with us

On the other side of Lake Kalm, we journeyed inland and stopped at an inn for the night. There was an old man there who was obsessed with soup, but otherwise normal. Also staying there was Miranda, an Eladrin ranger who was tracking a massive bear. She looked a bit unwell, sweaty and pale. I tried to chat her up but apparently said the wrong thing [Matt rolled a 1 on Diplomacy] and she went to bed, regrettably alone. I don’t like rangers anyway. I had a girlfriend who was a ranger once. Always wanted to go for “little hikes” during which we ended up eating berries and bugs for five days in a freezing rain. And she wore filthy sandals, even in bed.

We were checking out the woods in the area when Miranda ran up to us, breathless and panicked. She said the old man just attacked her in the inn! We went back and the man appeared injured, and claimed that Miranda attacked him first. We put on our detective caps and tried to interrogate them. Miranda was even more flushed and ill-looking than ever. She suddenly attacked the man and we had to fight her. We chose to just knock her out though, since something did not seem right.

Markus got stealthy and hid under the table to keep an eye on the man as we went outside to look for evidence of who was telling the truth. Unfortunately he must not have hidden very well because after a while the old man called over to his table hiding place, “Would you like some soup?” Oh well, good try eyeball.

Rosy followed Miranda’s tracks but they just showed she had walked, like us, from the dock to the inn. We went back to the inn. And Miranda was dead! She had a swollen throat and a badly infected wound. As we were puzzling over this, we heard a roar outside and went to investigate.

And we were attacked by a giant bear. Apparently the one that Miranda had been hunting, how nice. We fought him off, fending off his ferocious furry hugs of death. We kicked his ursine ass, actually, and were feeling that this was pretty easy when out of the inn ran the old man, who shifted into his true form, a doppelganger. Holy crap. We managed to defeat him, however.

We pieced together what had really happened: Miranda had fought the bear before coming to the inn. She was wounded, and trying to recover, but the wound got infected. If only she had submitted to the tender care of Doctor Orgoo. I can’t save all you ladies, but please, let me try! Anyway, it’s true that the old man attacked her, but she was too delirious with fever from the infection to figure out he was a doppelganger, and in any case, when she attacked him again, she was no match for us. She died from the infection while we were gone—and maybe some bad soup? We may never know.

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Everyone stay Kalm

We got restless for adventure so we journeyed of to the inland sea Kalm. The journey took three weeks, during which everyone got a bit tired of my one card trick.

We needed to get across the sea, so we booked passage on the boat the Mary-Louise. I had a girlfriend named Mary-Louise once… I spent more money on her than I did on this boat. Anyway, we banked our gold and set ourselves up at the gaming tables on board for the overnight passage.

At the tables we ordered drinks. Rosy decided to try Kraken’s Ale, which quickly made her nearly unconscious. Cohrlan drank it like lemonade. I stuck to whisky and a refill of my pipe with the finest pipeweed they sold there, which was not all that good.

We met a Lord Festovious III, who was drunk and merry. He quickly lost all his money, including a chip that Markus stole while he was laughing uproariously at his ill fortune. He exited the ship by jumping overboard and swimming to shore, laughing all the while. Nice fella.

Meanwhile I made the acquaintance of a stunning redheaded barmaid named Montreal. I like redheads. We got on like a house afire. The shine was taken off this a bit when I realized she was selling more than drinks, but I redeemed my reputation by charming her into going to bed with me for free. This is why I am an adventurer. Something about barding seems to make me more alluring, ahhh. (I’ll leave out of the tale the wrinkle about how she stole a handful of my chips while I slept, knocked unconscious by her considerable talents.)

Regrettably I return to the less interesting part of the story. We ended up playing Skull Dice with a strange, well-dressed nobleman names Gerard. He said he was a Count of Mountebank. But we grew suspicious as we recalled Mountebank has no royalty anymore; it is a democracy. We grew further vexed when he started cheating us blind. The dice changed their spots before our very eyes. But we simply could never prove it: there was no magic apparently at work, detected by us or the guards. And we kept getting the strange feeling that the dice had always been that way, making us doubt our sanity. We moved the game upstairs to try again, but the same robbery continued. It nearly came to blows but the guards stopped us. He left having won many chips, and many more of ours were stolen right off our table (and not by Montreal). We tried to follow him off the boat but he showed us his real power.

It turns out that we had run into the infamous Splinter Brothers. They are two brothers with extraordinary innate powers. Each has two personalities, making them effectively four. One is always invisible—he was the one stealing our chips and changing our dice. Another can summon small objects from thin air. Another can change beliefs and emotions—he was the one we were playing with, and he made us believe the dice were always the way they were. Another can win the trust of others easily. In any case, these two assholes were way too powerful for us to mess with, and the more we did, the more money we were losing. So we let him go, vowing revenge someday.

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