Kingdom of Aeristine

Into Ignax's Fortress
Cleric's Log

Cleric’s Log, Astrological Date 11-18.12

Let me know if I left out an important details

I feel as thought I’ve recently woken up from a trance. My comrades tell me that Phlan was assaulted by a metallic dragon, and we only escaped by disguising ourselves among the hordes of undead. We fled to a new town where we were celebrated as Phlan’s heroes, and lived high off the hog for a year, blowing our substantial hoard of gold on all manner of decadent debauchery. I have no memory of these events, and yet now we are told that we have a substantial unpaid tax bill. Apparently the town’s ruler has commissioned us defeat a powerful sorcerer named Ignax, in order to pay our dues. We were inexplicably teleported to Ignax’s fortress, where we slew a hydra, and that is when I awoke from my trance.

Tossing some coins into the alms-bowl of a skeletal beggar, we made our way through the dungeon of colored tiles.

We came to a locked door which seemed to be making a sound not unlike the beat of a heart. It also began to bleed when we pried at it with a dagger, so we sliced at it a bit more until a bit of intestine spilled out. This seemed unusual for a door, but quick-thinking Mabus followed the old common sense adage: when life hands you intestines, you grab ahold of them and run the other way! As the intestines slithered out of the door, the heartbeat slowed down and stopped. We gradually realized that some kind of magical illusion must be at play. Indeed, upon closer inspection the “door” was actually a sorceress who had been magically imprisoned. Tragically, she was now dead. But that didn’t mean she was useless! I called upon the favor of Ronan Swiftfoot to communicate with her recently departed spirit, and inquired as to her circumstances and the nature of this dungeon. For some reason, she was unhappy with us, and in any event did not know why Ignax had imprisoned her there. She explained that we already knew how to proceed through the dungeon: by hacking and slashing.

Little did we know just how true her words rang. In the next room lurked a band of bloodthirsty ogres, but they were no match for the invulnerable Stefan, nor for the fancy bladework of Kalli, who made short work of them. I couldn’t even get through the door before the monsters were handily dispatched!

Continuing down the next hallway, Kalli and Stephan abruptly vanished through the floor. We heard a splash, as they landed in what we were to find out was a deep pit filled with brackish water. Blake leapt into action, grabbing a rope and diving in after them, to save them before they were drowned by their heavy armour and equipment. We all worked together to haul the soaked and bedraggled warriors back into the comparatively dry corridor, then immediately set forth once again, careful to avoid the false blue floor tile.

Finally we came to a large and ornate chamber, surrounded with fine tapestries depicting terrible scenes of battle and slaughter. No sooner had we glanced as these works of art, then we were beset upon by a squadron of burly warriors! I called upon the Fartraveler to hold them fast, but alas they were not even human and therefore resisted the spell. As the fighting elements of our party formed up for battle, a towering figure in a wicked horned helmet appeared, and seemed to be in command of the spectral warriors. I shaped my spiritual will into a field of force and began hammering at the spectral warriors, keeping them distracted as Kalli, Stefan, and the rest engaged them in hand-to-hand combat. Fortuitously, a small herd of kobolds also appeared, and likewise began harrying the spectral warriors, giving our fighters the chance to fell the dark beings. Finally, we all turned our attention to their horned commander, and vanquished him despite taking many grievous wounds.

As Hrolf and I tended to the wounded, the more materialistic members of our troupe looted a chest in the room, and discovered valuable diamonds and gold, including a gigantic spherical diamond hidden in a secret compartment under the floor. Then, just as we thought we were safe for the time being, several large spiders began descending from a hole near the ceiling! Blake incinerated them with magical fire, and Hrolf sealed up the hole with his dwarven stone-magic. After that we all needed a break, so I asked Ronan to create a comfortable campsite for us in the next the large chamber, and we settled in for some rest and recuperation…

Ignax's Dungeon - Continued

Cleric’s Log, Astrological Date 12-02.12

After a long night of anxiously awaiting the Mad Wizard’s next assault, we roused ourselves to continue our foray into the bowels of insanity. And what bowels they were!

Following the twisted corridors led us to a junction. We proceeded through the North door, reasoning that it’s white tile portended the least harm. Opening the creaking door, we were greeted with the sight of a large, nearlt empty room. The only furnishing was a large, comfortable-looking armchair in the center of the room. Seated on this poofy throne was a crazed figure that could only have been Ignax himself. Wearing the garb of a professor of magic, and with fierce tufts of white hair shooting out of his head at all directions, he could have been described as a cross between Mark Twain and Willy Wonka, if those names actually meant anything. At any rate, the mad professor vented a nonsensical tirade in our direction, blathering on about all manner of crazy subjects. When he seemed to ignore our responses, my comrades and I came to the conclusion that this must not be the man himself, but rather a clever illusion designed to unnerve us. The illusive man finally suggested we leave, so that he could beat Candelabra. Apparently, the two sorcerers have some kind of wager over our success at rescuing the King.

Having had our fill of unnerving nonsense, we turned back South and headed through a red door in that direction. Stefan and Kalli entered first, as was their habit. As was evidently becoming their habit as well, they prompty vanished! Blake the bard, once again quick to react, this time handed me a rope and dove after them, no doubt anticipating another watery pit trap. However this time, when Blake too vanished, the rope went slack! Examination showed it to have been neatly severed. Mabus, Raynard, Hrolf and I stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. Eventually, Hrolf built up the courage to begin inching forward, hoping to sense the nature of this new doom before it could claim him. Seeing him still whole, Mabus suddenly leapt forward, recklessly sprinting into probable oblivion. I muttered a quick prayer for his foolhardy soul. As Hrolf continued to inch forward, he too suddenly vanished, and that’s when Reynard summoned to courage to move forward. Fearing the loss of all my companions, I siezed Reynard’s cloak and held it fast, moving along behind him, and frantically glancing around as we approached the vanishing point.

Well it turns out it wasn’t so bad. We were simply walking down a hall with some kind of extra-dimensional folds scattered about, and Reynard and I shortly caught up will all of our comrades except Mabus, who everyone had seen sprinting past them. We paused to collect our wits, and called out “Mabus!” but only heard echoes. Eventually, Mabus came walking back, cheerful as you please, and carrying a variety of scrolls and potions he had found at the end of the hall! Apparently it was a dead end, and so we all turned about and exited the bizarrely fractured corridor.

Finally we had no choice but to enter the green door back at the junction. I prayed for Ronan’s blessings as we walked in, and it was a good thing too! Inside this last chamber, a gorgous woman sat in an ornate throne, flanked by two magnificent golden bull statues. Naturally, our bard stridently approached her in an attempt to parley her, one would assume, out of her clothes. Instead of falling for his rock-star charms, she seemed to grow angry, stood up, and hurled a ball of fire down the length of this narrow room! The bard deftly ducked under this missile, and it struck Mabus who was standing behind him. It detonated with a resounding boom, and many of my poor comrades screamed as the flames charred their skin. Ronan be praised, I avoided the worst of the blast, and came away merely singed, but alas Mabus took the full force of the concussive blast and the flame, and collapsed in a stinking heap of charred flesh.

With this, the statues came alive! They were no mere golden bulls, but fierce Gorgons, and they began to advance down the narrow room, breathing out noxious plumes of smoke. Hrolf wasn’t thinking, and inhaled these fumes too deeply – he was instantly paralyzed! Brave Kalli broke into a run past the frozen dwarf, unsheathed her sword… and unbelievably dove to the floor, sliding underneath one of the foul Gorgons! As she slid, she sliced upwards into the beast’s metallic underbelly, scoring it heavily. Meanwhile, the other Gorgon advanced, and Stefan courageously strode forward to meet it, while Blake summoned forth a legion of giant leeches! Why leeches? This humble priest knows not the workings of the bard’s mind.

I decided to see if Mabus’ soul needed help crossing over, but I could tell that his spirit had not quite left his blackened body. I beat down the flames that still consumed his flesh, and called upon the divine grace of Ronan to bring him back to life. While his burns were too severe for him to just come awake, I could tell that his spirit was stabilized and Ronan would not let it depart from his mortal coil this day.

As this miracle transpired, Stefan and the leeches (could be a good band name?) set to hacking and sucking the second Gorgon. The first Gorgon must have only been infuriated by Kalli’s suprise slide-attack, for it suddenly charged forward, viciously goring the distracted bard! Kalli sprang to her feet behind the departing beast, and turned to face the malevolent sorceress. I could see her pause, as the sorceress stared deep into her eyes. It seemed as though she was being hypnotized, and indeed her sword arm fell and she began to calmly approach the throne. Just as the sorceress’ face broke into a wicked, sneering grin, Kalli suddenly shouted “Try to hypnotize me again, you cunt!” and shoved the length of her blade through the sorceress’ throat! She died gargling her own blood, with such a shocked look on her face that even Ignax must have chuckled, if the insane old bastard had been watching.

Blake excruciatingly pushed his body off of the Gorgon’s horns and flopped the ground before spraying a salvo of magic missiles directly into its face. Stefan furiously hacked and chopped at the first Gorgon until it stopped moving. Suddenly both wounded Gorgons began glowing more and more brightly, and shuddering more and more violently, until they both exploded, splattering us all with bits of leech slime.

The battle was over. I channeled more of Ronan’s divine power into healing Mabus’ burns, and he finally awoke while Reynard and the others searched the room. They found a large emerald on the sorceress’ body, and four scroll tunes under the throne. One scroll fortuitously contained a remove paralyis spell and so we saved Hrolf. We also recovered 20 silver candelabras, a golden chandelier, and several fine tapestries.

After taking a few moments to gather our composure, we ventured forth into the next room, and down a hallway with more colored floor tiles. We continued through a red door where I am told there were two large white frost-wolves. But Kalli, Stefan, and Hrolf, and Blake attacked them immediately, and by the time I entered the room they were slain, and all that was left were some “special-bus” bullywogs that Blake had summoned, doing a jolly dance. I joined in, and attempted to share the good news of Ronan with them while Hrolf and Mabus skinned the wolves.

Finally we continued on into one more room, and this room was truly a blessing from Ronan. It contained nothing but a large pool of enchanted water that seemed to heal and rejuvenate everyone, even smoothing over old scars. We splashed and played like mermaids and decided to rest here a while…

Ignax's Dungeon - Continued...

Cleric’s Log, Astrological Date 12-16.12

Finishing our bath, we finally mustered the willpower to leave, and headed back to the last two doors (white and green) which seem to have some Zodiacal properties.

We hear the tinkle of coin as we approach a corner, and we see thin cracks at the juncture of the walls. There is a narrow peep-hole into the next room. Hrolf wields his stone magic to widen it a bit and allow us a better view. Inside we see two giant creatures cooking up some kind of recipe, and an elven male languishing in cage 20’ off the floor suspended by a 3’ icy chain. The guy in the cage seems to by trying to liight a fire to stay warm… I set off down the corridor to find another door as Hrolf prepares to widen the crack into a passable portal. I suggest we enter through both passages simultaneously to confuse the giants and save the caged elf. Kalli likes this idea, and calls out a pincer strategy. Blake somehow turns both Kalli and Hrolf invisible, and they and stealthy Reynard determine to sneak in through the hole as the rest of us barge in through the door. First I pray over all of us, then cast magical stone to enchant 3 small rocks… now Blake, Stefan, and I wait for a few moments by the door so Kalli, Hrolf, and Raynard can make their hole, infiltrate under the bed, and get in position.

The two giants finally notice the elf trying to make a fire, and turn to regard him, marveling at his ability to speak… each giant is wearing a hemisphere of black agate as a pendant.

The door does not seem to be locked, but is chilly for some reason. Stefan rears back, and smashes his mighty foot into the door, which violently bursts open and a chill wind wafts out… the giants turn to regard us as Kalli darts out from underneath the bed, behind one, to hamstring it with her sword… she instantly appears at this point, and is covered with blood and ice. Hrolf appears an instant later, but his blow merely bounced off the giant’s tough skin.

Reynard boldly charges out in front of the other one facing him, brandishing a longsword (“Fox’s Bite”) like a frontline fighter, and laying into the giant. Kalli continues to hack with her sword, slicing and dicing the legs of the first giant. Stefan now charges the second giant, burying his axe in its leg.
I sling a magic stone from the doorway, conking the second giant upside the head. It seemed to hurt, but the giant did not immediately collapse like I had been lead to expect from the stories of the Swiftfootian canon.

The elf in the cage seems to realize his liberation may be at hand, and quickly fires an arrow point blank range into the first giants head – but it bounces off harmlessly.

Meanwhile, Kalli continues hacking her way through the giant’s leg, nearly severing it “like a civil war surgeon,” whatever that is. Suddenly the leg begins to jitter and bursts into a whirling gust of wind that violently buffets Hrolf, Kalli, Stefan, and Reynard! Kalli loses control of her scimitar, which whips past Hrolf slicing at him. Kalli and pulls out her second one. Stefan drops his axe but clings to his now kite-like shield, which pulls him strongly, wrenching his arm.

The elf turns his attention to the chain holding up his cage, and fires. Suddenly the cage itself transmutes to ice, shatters, and falls into the whirlwinds, now being whipped around as dangerous shards…

Many of us continues to strike at the whirlwinds, seemingly able to affect it only with enchanted weaponry! I begin summoning a Dust Devil, reasoning that one must fight fire with fire.

Kalli’s strike penetrates to the heart of the whirlwind, but is yanked from her hand and sucked up into the center of the whirlwind, where it seems to become lodged into the giant’s heart! That whirlwind dissipates as the giant dies. Blake casts Slow on the other giant, reducing the lethality of the buffeting wind and whirling, icy debris (which brutally hammers Reynard as he attempts to retreat).

Stefan grabs Reynards enchanted short sword, and dives back into the fray, stabbing and chopping and crying: “I want my battle axe back you son-of-a-bitch!” Now the wind and ice coalesces back into phsyical giant form, and he appears uninjured! But his arms have now been converted into giant clubs of ice!

The Dust Devil is ineffective, but Blake charges in with his spear, burying its point in the giant’s leg. Stefan continues to hack, as the giant ponderously brings his icy club-fists down, then the rest of him follows as he collapses in death. Phew!

The battle having drawn to a close, we collected the agate pendants, and turned to inspect this elf. Blake introduced us all, calling me the only one of our party more long-winded than himself! Ha! What a joker. The elf introduced himself as Derringer the Ranger.

We place the hemispheres together, and they suddenly link together and fuse, dislodging from their respective pendants.

I heal Stefan and Derringer, while Blake and the strongest of us open the dresser, rummage through the giants’ smelly loin cloths, and find a bone scroll tube with a blank scroll in it. Out in the hallway, the pages fuse into a solid page, giving some kind of instructions for mixing a protective poultice against demons… In the top drawer, a silver and a pewter colored vial of metallic liquid (referred to in the scroll?) are found.

Now we decide to open the large double-doors at the other end of the giants’ chamber. Reynard assures us there are no traps, and we open them… it leads to another junction of many colored doors, and Derringer suggests we try the blue door.

The archway on the other side is covered with blue flecked stone and mother-of-pearl. the floor is covered with sand, and we see a 40’ square room. Sea shells are scattered throughout, There is a large pedastal with an immobile crab atop of it. In the stone crab’s claws is a giant pearl. A cratered, pitted, gray sphere hangs from the center of the ceiling, slowly rotating like a corroded disco ball or lunar object.

Hrolf mutters a prayer to Moradin on our behalf, and the fighters advance. The hanging moon rock begins flashing and a beam of light spears into Stefan’s eyes – he appears transfixed for a second then shakes it off. Kalli begins scaling the pedastal. Suddenty a large venomous crab erupts from the sand! It grabs Stefan and begins crushing his armor like a tin can! It backs up and begins descending back into the sand, hauling the stalwart half-elf with it. Kalli sprints around the wall, grabs Stephan’s arm, hacks the crab’s claw, and it releases him and she hauls him away as it disappears beneath the sand.

Blake summons a horde of orcs!

Now the hanging disco moon pulses again, striking Hrolf, who looks transfixed for a second before shaking it off too. If you’ve ever seen an orcish disco, you know why.

Kalli runs up the ceiling and cuts down the orb, which falls to the sand harmlessley – but Hrolf immediately begins pummeling it, until it cracks open and disintegrates into a pile of dust. I head over the pedastal and the crab erupts near Blake and his orcs. It grabs him and an orc!

Kalli runs over on the ceiling and swipes down at it, and the orcs come and beat it to death.

In the statue on the pedastal there is a 3’ hole beneath it, which goes down and then leads away from the room. We lift the pearl out of its claws, and all snake down the tunnel, to find more branching corridors. We choose a red door next. But halfway down the hallway, Stefan and Reynard drop down a pit full of spikes! Ouch. Hrolf and I heal them. On to the red door!

Runic script around the door way reads, “lose all hope of return, ye who enter here.” Reynard thinks this is a demi-plane of hell…

We go back into a green door and see many cubicles with circular nozzles shaped like sunflower heads. It seems to be an ordinary shower room. Blake steps up over the slippery floor to pull the shower chain, and slams down on his coccyx. He painfully climbs up and pulls the chain… a spray of luke-warm water comes out. We leave and go find a green door, which opens into another large 40’ square room, in which we see 2 dark winged statues. Do we need the potion of demon protection? Too late! The statues immediately leap forward into flight!

Blake quickly reacts with a paltry fireball, singeing us all in the small quarters but giving the creatures pause. Then Kalli jumps up and charges, slashing into one. Stefan follows suit, and I also charge into the fray – I haven’t seen enough action lately! Whirling my enchanted flail, I smash into the gargoyle right after Stefan. It savagely claws me back, shredding through my armor. Hrolf hurls his hammer, knocking the first one’s block off. As Stefan stumbles and misses, I strike again with my flail, giving Stefan the chance to regain his composure and make a killing blow. So much for the demon gargoyles.

Ignax's Dungeon Continued...

Mage’s Log, Astrological Date 12-30.12

Being that our usual chronologer, Deacon Cassidy was in deep prayer during the last day of our encounter, I, Mabus, Mage of Phlan, have taken on the task. Though he did not share his thoughts, it is believed that the Deacon had sensed a great evil and was in commune with his God, Ronan Swiftfoot, praying for our safety. And it was no idle premonition, for we did face a great evil and prevail, but more on that later…

My tale starts in solitude as I chose to stay behind in the relative safety of the spa room that replenished our health and spirits. My companions went on while I remained behind, bathing naked in the magical pool for at least a full day, one cannot tell in the darkness of a dungeon. I wracked my brain, going over and over all my past trainings and trying to figure out my failings in not being able to master the spell Fireball. After many hours it clicked and I suddenly removed the mental block that had prevented me from creating a fiery ball of death to consume my enemies. Along with that, I scribed the spell Slow into my spellbook, easily transcribed from a scroll we found earlier.

Content with my accomplishment, I chose to seek out my companions once again. I followed the most logical trail and came to a large room with a seemingly dissected crab. Climbing up a platform, I felt sure I was on the trail of my companions when, to my surprise, the floor gave out and I fell rather gracefully upon four rather large spikes. Fortune did shine on me afterwards as I lay there bleeding, my companions heard my manly moans of woe. The good dwarven cleric Hrolf was there to cast divine healing upon me, making me as good as new.

Reunited, we traveled on and found ourselves in a luminescent classroom of sorts. Noticing an apple on the teacher’s desk, I quickly pocketed it. The stools all began to light up and for some reason, we were compelled to sit upon them. At that point the ugly insane wizard Ignax appeared taunting us one again. His companion, the traitor (Name escapes me) began bickering back and forth in some homoerotic mating ritual, I could barely follow his incoherent babbling, but I managed to taunt him about his missing apple. There was some nonsense about coins floating above our heads that was part of his schizophrenic game we were trapped in, but I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon. Suspecting they were only illusions, I held using my newly learned Fireball spell. The old tricky bastard did manage to pull an unexpected switch by making the Bard Blake disappear and replace him with a young Elementalist named Soul Wind, who oddly enough was the nephew of the mad wizard. Soul Wind proved to be very helpful despite his relationship with our tormentor.

After the departure of the illusions and my failed negotiations with them, we traveled down a hallway to find a door. Upon entering, a forcefieldprevented us from going past 10 feet within the room. I summoned my Golden Lions as I felt an evil within the room. Past the forcefield was a red globe suspended from a chain and below it a rather large gem. Surrounding the gem were four rather large metal griffons.

Upon closing the door behind us, the forcefield dissipated and the red globe became extremely hot. The exit to the room also disappeared. We all began to sweat profusely and I admit, I felt a bit weak. The young elementalist began to examine the griffons but was overcome by the heat right when he had an idea as to how to exit the room. At this point, the ranger, Derringer Fletchborn felt it important to fire an arrow into the heated globe. Stefan tried his hand at bashing the griffons to no avail. Kalli grabbed the valuable gem and tossed it to me, but this caused the griffons to come alive. Feeling that the fighter types had the griffons under control, I let fly three magic missiles into the heated globe, causing it to explode and lose its heat. What a relief. The fighters made quick work of the griffons with the help of my Golden Lions. Soul Wind showed us the exit and we departed.

We found a rather unexciting workroom down the hallway that proved to be a dead end. At the end of the next passageway we found a small library that appeared to be stocked by a druid or ranger, having books on plants, animals and other woodsy things. Of interest was a scroll tube that Raynard discovered, coated in a contact poison. After cleansing it and opening it, it was ironically a scroll of neutralize poison. Not satisfied we had fully unearthed all the secrets of the library, I searched the place and found a bookshelf that concealed a hidden entrance. Stefan ripped it open and we found a hidden room that appeared to be an evil druid’s prized collection of books. One of particular interest was clad in bone and had an interesting bone clasp. I grabbed it for later using, believing it was the spellbook of an evil druid.

A short walk down the next passageway brought us into the evil temple. Pews lined each side of a large room and at the far end, a nearly naked woman laid upon an alter, apparently asleep and adorned with a beautiful necklace and yet another extremely valuable gem. Judging by the evil tree tapestry and wooden panels adorned with evil faces, I could only surmise that the owner of the book I had, was also the owner of the temple. “Show yourself and surrender now or I destroy the book,” I yelled, but nothing happened.

Attempting to satisfy his primal sexual urges, Derringer Fletchborn, ran up to the sleeping woman and immediately kissed her. She awoke terrified and for good reason. Instantly, ten or so robed assassins appeared with curved daggers, intent on murdering her. The warriors took up defensive positions to guard her. “I warned you,” I bellowed and threw the evil book on the ground. Flames came out of my fingertips as I consumed the book in fire. A giddy rush overcame me as I burned the cover and pages. My laughter quickly subsided when the dark druid materialized from a hidden nook, not 10 feet from me.

Acting quickly Soul Wind blasted him with two flame arrows. The dark druid took the shots and quickly retaliated with a swarm of stinging insects that made my Golden Lions recoil. I backed up and waited for an opportune time to strike back, but that time never came. The fighters quickly dispatched the assassins with the help of Raynard. As I waited for an opening on the evil druid, fear overcame me as he summoned an Earth Elemental that began to bash his earthy fists on Steffan’s face. I cast Web in attempts to immobilize the druid, but his next move was to blast the wooden panels towards us, destroying my web, but not harming any of the party. A tactical retreat was called by Kalli as they found an exit behind the evil tree tapestry. My lions and I climbed the wooden panels with the power of fear behind us and ran for the exit. Soul Wind transformed into a gaseous state and made his escape as well.

Fortunately, neither the druid nor Earth Elemental followed us and a few turns of the passageway later and we found a door labeled “Treasure here”. Entering a circular room, we saw a lever. The thief examined it for traps, but found none. Not confident in the thief’s assessment, Soul Wind cast Detect traps which caused the entire ceiling to glow as well and large masses behind the walls. We examined the room and determined that either the ceiling would collapse or the room would rotate, trapping us inside once we pull the lever. Hrolf used his clerical spells to mold the stone of the wall to the ceiling to prevent the collapse of the ceiling, while they fashioned a pulley loop for pulling the lever using the same spell as an added precaution.

Pulling the lever, opened four panels, one with coins, one with gems, one with jewelry and one with a scroll tube. All glowed as if trapped except the scroll tube. Opening the tube revealed a Read Magic spell and a Stop Time spell. Knowing that the loot was trapped and would most likely cause the death of the adventurers, it was decided to cast Time Stop and then grab the loot and get out before the ceiling collapsed. Success! The party was able to grab a fortune and escape unharmed. Thus ended a most productive day.

Into the Spiders' Lair
Venom: It's What's for Dinner

Cleric’s Log, Astrological Date 10-27.13

We have a name now! We are officially known as the Basilisk Mercenary Company. Since my last log entry, we came back to the Walled City of Burke and, having again paid our taxes, returned to our residence in the riverfront district. (It was formerly the trickster halfling’s residence, we converted it to include a pawn shop on the lower level.) It had been all smashed up! We also learned that our winery just outside of town had likewise been ransacked. Evidently a local criminal syndicate felt that we owed them “protection” money that we had not paid, and so they sent a goon squad known as Tough Nut Protection Services to work us over. We began fixing our places back up, and plotting how to respond to this criminal aggression. We also managed to get in good with the local Beggars’ Guild, making friends with the Prince of Paupers and arranging to construct a soup kitchen based out of our pawn shop.

Let’s see, what else? One day Mabus wandered off somewhere, as Raynard and I played cards with Gareth and Yadrick and the rest of our comrades went out on patrol. Mabus never came back, but upon their return, the rest of them related a harrowing tale of encountering a Greater Mimic in the form of a house in the slum district. They defeated the monster, and on their way home a wizard stole Stefan’s Ioun stone and instead left him with a sentient, sassy Longsword of Wonder named Francis! Amazing, I know, but Stefan seemed less than enthused.

After Kalli had a chance to soak in a hot bath and clean up, we headed out to the Travelers’ Union Hall. We noticed an eavesdropper listening in on our discussion of possible responses to the Tough Nuts, but he fled before we could apprehend him. At the union hall, we re-upped our membership (I personally sprung for a Platinum Membership). We also took an adventuring contract to track down a sorcerer who had disappeared a couple of weeks ago, chasing a thief who had taken his magical rod down into the sewers.

A quick trip home to change into our grubby traveling clothes and grab some torches, and down into the sewers we went! Ronan in His infinite grace blessed us with an Anti-Vermin Barrier, and a Zone of Sweet Air to keep us comfortable. It was like a walk in a lovely park down there thanks to Him, with only a glimpse here and there of the roiling skirmish of insects and rats desperately trying to keep outside the borders of the spell. We traversed a bridge and delved down a few corridors, until we came to an iron-shod door. Raynard began to investigate as we started to hear clacking coming from behind us. Raynard managed to open the door (which lead to a maintenance closet) just as a swarm of dog-sized spiders rushed in around Hrolf in the rear, others descending down on him from above! Kalli and I dashed back, thrashing in horror at the spindly beasts on Hrolf, who valiantly kept his cool and smashed at the assailants. Then out of nowhere, gigantic Phase Spiders warped into existence in the room and corridor! One sunk it’s vicious fangs into Blake’s back; he screamed and dropped to the floor, convulsing and frothing at the mouth. As the Phase Spider blinked away again, I rushed to The Decanter’s side and called upon Ronan’s holy might to drive the vile spider venom from his body, and restore him to health and vigor! Praise Him, he saw fit to preserve the bard’s life and Blake rose once again, firing magic missiles with a fury into the swarm. Now Kalli and Stefan surged into battle with the remaining Phase Spiders, hacking and slashing madly. Kalli screamed something about herself being a demon that they should tell their spider-babies about. No sooner had I returned to the embattled Hrolf’s side than another Phase Spider warped in behind me and bit right through my armor, it’s terrible venom shooting into my veins. I too dropped and convulsed, losing track of the battle until Blake returned the favor and dumped a potion of Neutralize Poison down my throat (Hrolf must have given it to him, I therefore deduced that he must not have been overcome by the spiders yet!) I staggered to my feet and saw Raynard down too, drooling and spasming. I asked Ronan once more for His help, and He saw fit to save The Black Fox too from the venom. By now the warriors had routed the spider swarms and we paused to catch our breath. We would need some serious detox at a spa after this job.

A few moments later, Blake set off to explore a nearby cistern. He Spider-Climbed up to discover three cadavers suspended in webbing. They weren’t the sorcerer we were looking for and had no magical rods, but interestingly they did all have the same top-knot haircuts, reminding us of a certain local guild. After that we decided to head back up to the surface and return home to rest and heal before coming back to continue the search.

Hookers and Shite Monsters
It's a Dirty Job but Somebody's Gotta Do It

Cleric’s Log, Astrological Date 11-3.13

The next day we rose early to continue our sewer sortie. Upon exiting our house, however, we discovered the ravaged corpse of a woman attracting flies in our alley! Her face had been chewed off and vaguely canine tracks lead away. Such is life in a big city though, so I said a brief blessing for the lass’ soul, and we sent a servant to alert the Watch and went on our merry way.

Passing by the Public Works Union Hall, we noticed a new recruit being oriented by the Vermin Extermination Training Officer. Kalli decided to poach him for our Basilisk company because he seemed a competent sort of sorceror. Adjusting her breastplate and fingering her Ring of Human Influence, she strode up to the Assistant Director with a megalomaniacal gleam in her eye that was becoming disturbingly frequent of late, and began negotiating. When the dust settled, we had a new mage! He goes by the name of Celevorn.

So then we descended back into the sewers. Just past the site of out last run-in with the phase spiders, we started hearing some ominous clacking up ahead. Our tunnel opened out into a sewage basin, and we saw dozens of glinting black eyes staring at us… a swarm of Hook Horrors! Quick-thinking Blake sang out a magical verse and the basin was engulfed in a Wall of Fire. The Horrors shrieked and squealed in pain and fury, and skittered towards us through the fire. As the flames died down, Kalli vaulted over the bridge into the scorched, knee-deep muck to keep them at bay, as Hrolf and I combined our prayers (for added holy efficacy) for all of our safety.

An explosion detonated further down the tunnel, beyond the basin, and more clacking now came from behind us as well, as more Horrors were attracted by the din. Blake played a frenetic tune, and Hrolf and I could feel ourselves moving with preternatural speed! We charged the swarm coming from the rear, slamming into a veritable wall of chitin with a flurry of mace and flail blows, as Raynard and Celevorn rained arrows and magic missiles over our heads. I felled an 8’ tall horror with a mighty blow, glorifying Ronan as the monstrosity’s shell caved in, but another darted in to nip at me with it’s cruel beak. Hrolf was knocked down by a vicious blow, but the warriors at the front had now scattered the bulk of the swarm and returned to relieve us rear-guard. We survived! We pried off some shells to use for armor later on, said a few prayers, and moved on.

We traveled far down the tunnel without further incident. Eventually, we came to a huge, cavernous chamber, dimly lit but seemingly filled with towering piles of refuse, large cess pools, and a long pipe running throughout. We had to descend to the bog-like floor, and I prayed for Ronan, guardian of travelers, to keep our feet from sinking into the filth. Raynard and Celevorn stayed above to watch over us for signs of evil.

Just as we passed the first cesspool, a great unclean abomination lurched forth and snaked vile tentacles around myself and Stefan! We were bodily hoisted into the air as we flailed madly at the nameless thing. It then grabbed at the others, but Hrolf bashed his way over to a rusty crank wheel protruding from the muck and spun it mightily, causing the cesspool to drain down into a basin below. Blake and Celevorn fired magical bolts, but the thing dragged me in and lowered me into its gaping maw! I smacked it soundly in the face but it began gnawing its way through my banded mail armor! Just in time, Celevorn blasted it to death from the ledge above, and I disentangled myself from the sinking corpse and vaulted up out of the basin. Not an experience I’d like to repeat.

We paused to catch our breath, and then moved on to investigate the nearby refuse pile, which seemed to be glinting with possible treasure… indeed, there was a shining suit of armor perched up on top! Kalli and Blake carefully picked their way up the pile, and saw a baleful eye watching them from within the helm… just an eye! The suit shifted, and then the whole pile shifted, and it becomes apparent that a more monstrous version of the thing in the cesspool was lurking under the pile, with an eyestalk protruding up through the suit such that it could peer out from the helm on top! Stefan charged up to join Kalli and Blake, and the three brutally hack the abomination to death. Indeed, we found magical armor, weaponry, and the black rod that was the goal of our quest! Upon grasping it, Kalli again let slip her ambitions to one day become Empress… the rest of us shared an uncomfortable glance, and we trudged back to the surface to claim our pay.

Go Ahead, Axe Me a Question
Enter the Hatchet Clan

The log of Hrolf, Cleric of Moradin – Entry 221:

After our return from the sewers of Burke, we went through the house to do our own things. While cleaning my weapons of hook horror goo, I was surprised by a dwarf bashing in our door with his greathammer! He first exclaimed something about “I know he’s in here!”, looked around, and as he began to apologize and turn to leave, I cast Hold Person on him, and after calling in the others, began questioning him. His name was Duggan Thicklimb, a bounty hunter by trade, and he was after a minotaur arena fighter named Huk, or Hurk, or something…

After some negotiation, we hired Duggan to help guard the house, and Iggy stopped by to tell us some information he uncovered, and was dragged inside by Blake, who seemed to know of the throwing axe heading for Iggy’s back almost before it was thrown from the rooftop across the street. After healing the grievous wound to his back, Iggy told us of the group that trashed our place while we were out of town, the Hatchet Clan – a group of thugs and smugglers that work the docks, and bring in illegal Dwarven Ale.

After a short rest, and Kalli getting ready, we “borrowed” a rowboat and traveled to the docks where the Hatchetmen worked, so as to “return” their assassin’s axe. As we went upriver to the docks, I cast Silence on the boat so as to not alert the thugs of our approach. Upon our arrival, Kalli began to address the first Hatchetman we saw, and he told us we had to move our boat. She bashed a hole on the bottom, sinking the rowboat without a sound, exclaiming, “you mean like that?” and then charged in, eviscerating him with one slash, and nearly tearing his face off with the hand axe we took out of Iggy’s back.

A thug on another pier began blowing a whistle to alert reinforcements, but was paralyzed by a Hold Person before he could give more than a short signal. A short barrage of throwing axes came our way, including a nicely matched pair of magical axes, one that freezes its target, the other setting them ablaze. As the others tore into the Hatchetmen on the docks with their usual gruesome efficiency, I Held another thug, and decided to let the river do my light work… I pushed him off the boardwalk and continued on to take out the whistle-blower on the pier, but the apparent leader of this motley crew of misfits Dim-Doored away from Kalli and Stefan, appearing behind whistle-boy and grabbing him in preparation to ’port out with his companion. I Held him so we could take him out too, but whatever magical device he had allowed him to think the commands to transport them out of our reach.

We then took one of the Hatchetmen’s rowboats, leaving it in place of the one we took to get there, with a small pouch of silver to compensate the owner of the first boat. On our way back to the house we heard a horrible feminine scream, and went toward the sound to investigate.

We discovered a beautiful fox-girl outside a ritzy up-scale house. After a short and polite questioning of the were-fox, we found that there is a small community of Lupines (werewolves) in town, preying on “peasants”, giving us a lead on the grisly murder victim found next to our house earlier. We then returned to tell Raynard and Deacon of our travails, and to rest up for our next adventure.

I'm Dreaming of a White... Dragon?
wherein we save the city

Deacon’s log, astrological date 12/1/13

So it’s been snowing heavily and we’re running out of heating oil. We decided to head to the riverfront market to load up on winter provisions. Along the way, I paused to disrobe and make naked snow angels in homage to Ronan, who had seen fit to bless me with resistance to the cold. Later in the market as we were minding our own business, haggling over smuggled dwarven ale, the snow picked up to blizzard-like conditions. Suddenly out of nowhere, three young white dragons thumped down into the center of the market square! The crowd screamed in unison as I quickly ducked behind a wagon, muttering a prayer to send a message to Stefan, who had stayed behind in our house. We would need his courage for this!

Most of the city guard fled in terror, but I observed a couple of stalwart fellows striding forward. Their bravery was commendable, although I did notice a dark stain spreading down their pant legs as they advanced. One of the dragons lashed out a claw, disemboweling some poor townsman who had been supervising a group of kids at play. As it reared back, preparing to chomp down on its first victim, quick thinking Blake the Decanter summoned a web in it’s maw, gumming it’s jaws shut! It shook it’s head in surprise, but then just sucked air in through its nostrils, and released a frigid blast of breath that froze the webbing and violently ejected it in crystallized shards which, tragically, tore into several of the crying children.

Now Kalli had seen enough of these monsters’ wanton destruction. She brandished her blades and charged full on into the second dragon’s flank, carving through it’s hard scales with sheer rage. I too was livid, as I summoned forth a blade of pure holy fire and advanced (a bit more cautiously) on the third dragon.

Three guards leveled their spears and charged the first dragon in anger, after it snapped up a frozen child, tossed her into the air, and swallowed her whole like a dog might snap up a lump of gristle. One of the guards’ spears even found purchase between the beast’s scales – that got it’s attention! The dragon whirled its tail around, smacking the offending guard across the square where he crashed into a merchant’s tent.

Meanwhile I could see Raynard steal into another tent adjacent to the third dragon I was approaching. Surmising his plan, I began to taunt the beast with slanderous insults about its mother while waving my flaming sword in order to distract it. It worked! The sneaky rogue plunged his blade deep into the dragon’s underside, catching it by surprise. I then charged forward swinging, but the beast pivoted away, now dancing around the rogue with the thorn in its side.

The second dragon was now in shock from the trauma of Kalli’s onslaught, and she viciously clambered up the thing’s back, stabbing into it for handholds. As it staggered to it’s knees, she continued her butcher work, eventually literally scissoring off it’s head! A couple guardsmen cautiously approached once it stoped moving, poking at it with their spears as Kalli strode away.

Finally Stefan came lumbering up one of the paths, shouldering aside a handful of trembling guardsmen, but hesitated as a massive fireball detonated on top of the first dragon, igniting several tents, knocking back the brave guards, and blasting shards of frozen children in every direction! More of Blake’s work, but also now Hrolf leapt up from the snow to to hurl a flaming axe, which impacted into a frozen townswoman. (I assume he was aiming at the dragon). Shaking off the fireball, and clearly not happy, this first dragon now reared back, drawing breath once again… and blows out a freezing cone of air, catching Blake as well as Kalli and the two guards in her wake!

Raynard was now nimbly engaged in a dance with death with the third dragon, but eventually a claw caught him off-guard and disrupted his flow long enough for the dragon to bite down, catching the Black Fox halfway in his mouth! I saw the poor rogue go slack, as he passed out from the pain and trauma, but just then is when Stafan came raging in, cleaving off one of the dragon’s feet with a mighty axe blow. It dropped Raynard and fell to its side, hissing and bleeding to death from it’s guts and arm-stump. I dropped my flame blade, darted in and grabbed the unconscious rogue, dragging him behind a tent to pray for his survival.

Kalli now shook off the frost and ice and roared a challenge to the last dragon, which roared back (bitchily if I may say so). But just then, the sky darkened, and the massive form of an elder dragon crashed down into the center of the square, flattening an entire row of merchant stalls. It was their mother! (I hoped she hadn’t heard my insults.)

In the brief second of stunned silence, Blake took the last young dragon in the face with a second fireball. It fell to the ground charred and unmoving, and all turned to face this new, greater threat. Hrolf was the first to advance, trundling forward to smack the mama with his little mace. It pivoted, looked down disapprovingly, and bowled the dwarf over with a casual tail swipe. In one fluid motion, it also buffeted Kalli away with a mighty wing swipe, while impaling Blake with a claw and raising him up to her face, to inspect this puny creature that had just murdered her child right in front of her. After a second, she chomped down ferociously on him, nearly tearing the poor bard in half before dropping his eviscerated body to the snow!

Stefan now swung into action, charging in from behind and boldly hacking at her nether regions. Kalli staggered to her feet and flailed dizzily and feebly before regaining her composure.

Seeing the carnage, and reassured that Raynard was beginning to stir, I drew a special vial from my pockets, lurched up, and began sprinting toward the mother dragon to aid my overwhelmed comrades. I vaulted over wrecked wagon debris, dove, and slid through the bloody snow to Blake’s crumpled form. Heedless of the danger looming overhead, I immediately began to slather his gaping wounds with that miraculous Keoghton’s Ointment I had previously procured, and, as advertised, the severed flesh indeed began to knit back together. I then wrapped him in my Towel +1 from Ignax’s Bath House, and used it as a sling/stretcher to drag him away from the thrashing dragon.

Just in time too, for then the dragon let loose a freezing blast of breath straight down onto Stafan (and where we would have been), encasing the mighty warrior in ice. Raynard was rising to his feet across the square, and now raised his bow and loosed an arrow at the mother, only to see it bounce off, though it distracted her for a second. Kalli, having now regained her balance, strode forward once again, slashing at the mama’s leg. The ice couldn’t keep Stefan incapacitated for long – he quickly flexed his muscles to fracture the ice, and shook it off in anger, bursting forth to leap up and hack at her maw.

In the face of this renewed assault, the mother dragon hunched down and then launched herself upward into the air! But Kalli was too quick – she had stabbed into the dragon’s underbelly, pulling out an entrail and hanging on for the ascent, during which she continued to plunge a blade into the dragon’s guts as they rose. The rest of us could only watch the winged form pirouette across the sky, over a row of buildings, and eventually plunge into the nearby river. Kalli had been victorious!

We would later learn that Kalli had almost drowned in the river, wearing all that armor. But the river guards had seen what happened, and sent a rowboat out to pick her up and bring her, bedraggled, back to shore.

Back in the market, curious townfolk began reappearing. I calmed them down and started leading a prayer of benediction for the dead children, townsfolk, and guards, to help shepherd their spirits into the afterlife. Meanwhile, a bumpkin named Dorvin (who operates a warehouse called The Ice House) sidled up and offered Blake $10,000 gold per dragon corpse, but he refused, although he finally consented to sell two for $26,000; and we kept the third and decided to keep the big mother’s corpse as well. Kalli plans to make a bed out of her skull, and armor from her hide. We will stuff the young one for our bar. We decided also to use some of the proceeds to set up a fund for the families of the dragons’ victims.

Later, we went off to the fighting pits to find Hef the Minotaur, and deal with his rotund owner. While there, a guard captain found us, and handed us badges for entry to a celebration that was to be held in our honor. In preparation for this event, we also found an artisan to make a present for the Duke out of dragon scales. We then went home to get cleaned up and don our formal wear. A crowd had gathered around our house to cheer for us. I took the opportunity to distribute pamphlets proclaiming the good news of Ronan’s salvation.

Finally, we were all fancied up and went to the ball! A carriage with 6 white horses conveyed us there, where the Duke gave an elegant speech in our honor, and proclaimed us High Citizens. We presented him with our dragonscale token, and he offered each of us a boon of our choice. I requested the construction of a megachurch for the greater glory of Ronan. Hrolf, wary of perpetuating the stereotype that “dwarves just like gold,” asked for item enchantments. Blake asked for admission of the College of Wizardry. Raynard asked for admission to Law School. Stefan, so decisive in battle, was apparently made completely indecisive in the face of nobility, and after much hemming and hawing simply asked for an I.O.U. (later, he would settle on commissioning the fabrication from mithril of a suit of platemail). Kalli offered a rare glimpse back to her former selfless days as a paladin when she asked for freedom for Hef the Minotaur – and at this time his fat owner in the crowd could be heard whining “I PROTEST, THESE SCALLYWAGS!” As Kalli’s eyes got moist, the Duke voided the repulsive man’s ownership and commanded him to be put in the stocks. It was truly a storybook ending.

Fuzzy Times at Axe High
A Burning Question at Hatchetmen HQ

Deacon’s log, astrological date 12.15.13

After the celebration and the ceremony with the Duke, we had a little time to relax and enjoy our new fame as the dragonslaying saviors of Burke. In fact, people started calling us The 4 Dragons and so we changed our name to that (we were formerly the Basilisk Mercenary Co.)

In the ensuing days I oversaw the beginnings of the construction of Ronan’s new megachurch in the slum district. Some beggars were miffed at the razing of a few dilapidated crack-houses and brothels, and the local Thieves’ Guild was suspicious that religious donations would be cutting into their take, but so far things were going fairly smoothly for a project of this magnitude. Blake was spending his days happily researching new magical theories while Raynard studies law. Kalli wondered if she could be Polymorphed into an elf without any side effects. Stefan conducted training with the city guard. Hrolf did whatever heretical priests do. We all began moving into our new digs… an island stronghold in the river delta.

One day, we were all (luckily) over at the new place, arranging furniture and so forth, when we saw a mushroom cloud erupt in our old neighborhood. It was our old house! Some nefarious goon had Fireballed it, singeing our poor dwarfservant Duggan, and ruining some of our stuff. This aggression could not stand. We assumed it was the work of our new nemeses: The Hatchetmen. We immediately headed off to their warehouse headquarters, lusting for vengeance. They tried to burn us down? We would burn them down. (The vengeance of Ronan is swift and severe.)

Approaching the warehouse, we knocked on the front door. No answer. So the others fanned out around the building, as Kalli and Blake and I remained at the front to rig up an exploding barrel. We detonated it, and the front door caught fire. Using the powers of Ronan, I ensorcelled the fire to produce a thick, choking black smoke that exclusively wafted inwards, filling the warehouse with noxious fumes in minutes.

Shortly, a window opened up above along the side of the building, to vent smoke. Blake chuckled at their predictability, and immediately lobbed a fireball through the opening! KA-BOOM! Meanwhile, Hrolf around back began to use his dwarf-god’s favors to alter the shape of the stones forming the back doorway, so that he and Stefan could slip in that way. Hrolf and I both asked our respective gods for their blessings on this mission of righteous vengeance. As Stefan clanked his way in, a flurry of hatchets flew at him from all directions, tinking off his armor.

On the other side of the building, Kalli scampered up the wall towards the second floor window. Below her, Blake and I opened a large delivery door, to see several hatchets flying out at us. I ducked behind The Decanter and the hatchets stopped in midair and fell to the ground, halted by his Protection from Normal Missiles. Nice!

At this point Kalli spider-clung to the wall next to the window, detected a guard behind it, and just stabbed him in the face right through the window. Then she spun around and stabbed through the adjacent window as well, and finally dove through the broken glass to enter the building. Landing on a catwalk, she leapt up and began just violently shanking her way through several Hatchetmen who had been stationed up above, one-by-one. We could see many brown-robed Hatchetmen fleeing at the sight of this spectacle, but many wearing red robes remained, as well as a couple green and yellow. Did the colors represent some rank or status? We didn’t know yet.

Below, Blake and I strode forward into the threshold. The bard looked up, sang a few magic notes, and caused a Wall of Fire to spring up all along a catwalk that ran perpendicular to the one Kalli was on, igniting the robes of another line of Hatchtmen who were advancing along it towards her. A couple of them leapt off screaming, to a 15’ drop where they broke their legs. We could see that the original fire had spread from the front door explosion, so now there were two sources of fire.

Hrolf then barreled in behind Stafan, bowling over a large Hatchetman thug. Stefan buried an axe in another one’s head, laughing at the dwarf’s tactics, and slaughtering foes with a song in his heart despite a couple of strong blows he received himself.

Suddenly a large cask of liquor to the right of Blake and I exploded! The rest of the catwalk guards started to climb down as fast as possible. I Produced a handful of brilliant holy Flame and tossed it at a pile of wooden crates they were using as a staircase, and it slowly ignited them too. Next I asked a great boon of Ronan – that he would grant Blake and myself immunity to fire, so that we might enter the rapidly growing conflagration and move about safely. We took a deep a breath, a leap of faith, and entered into the flames consuming the warehouse! Like horsemen of the apocalypse come to deal death, we strode almost in slow motion.

Blake brandished a lighting wand and began loosing bolts of sizzling energy at anything that moved, as I stalked along side him, smashing down any assailant who dared come too close with my flail.

A salvo of whistling magic missiles issued forth from a doorway across the room (some kind of office) and swooped upward into the center of the room, striking Raynard full the face! He had been lurking above, peering down through the sky light to snipe with bow an arrow, but a magic user must have detected him.

Across the building, Hrolf and Stefan now were backed up against one another, surrounded by a press of foes. Hrolf began to pray furiously for deliverance, as Stefan held them off.

Kalli, covered in blood, somehow hopped over the side of the catwalk, and began running literally sideways down the side of it, clinging horizontally like a spider. She paused to slice open another Hatchetman, then sprinted straight down a wall of crates the the floor.

Suddenly a devastatingly freezing Ice Blast whirled up around Blake and I, catching us unaware and tearing shards of ice into our unprotected backs. That accursed magic user! I took the brunt of it and collapsed in shock, but The Decanter soldiered on. I felt my spirit rising up out of my body, and miraculously I could still observe the battle! I saw a Hatchetman captain in the office room dart through an interdimensional door and escape. I saw Kalli and Stefan cutting down several more thugs. I saw a mysterious energy coalescing on the upper balcony, and so did Blake, who directed a lightning bolt up there – this caused a humanoid shape to appear, collapsing and spasming on the catwalk. An invisible wizard! Several more Hatchetmen fled, and from there it was just cleaning up, nothing too remarkable. Eventually I felt a tug back into my body, as Hrolf prayed over my prone form, and my comrades must have carried me away and taken me back home to recover. More next time, everything’s a little bit fuzzy right now.

Purple Worm Ale
Purple ichor makes good liquor

Cleric’s log, astrological date 1.12.14

So we had laid waste to the warehouse of the Hatchetmen, descending on them like vengeful angels of the apocalypse, dealing fire and death at every turn. At some point, I lost consciousness. Two days later, I awoke back at our new island stronghold. I felt recovered.

Later that day, a runner came knocking at the door. Our surly dwarven security guard answered, and bade us assemble to give us a message that had been brought from Hef, our minotaur foreman of our brewery just outside of town. It seems there was a problem: a giant hole had appeared in the floor there, and had spooked the workers.

We gathered up a team of dwarven workers and headed out to investigate. Once there we indeed clearly saw a large ragged hole in the wall, over a deep pit about ten feet in diameter, stretching down into the dark earth farther than we can see. A vat is missing where the hole is. Hef the minotaur is there, looking confused and a little shaken. We all search around for clues as to what happened, but there is just broken equipment and a traces of slime.

Kalli decides we had best explore the hole, so she uses brewery equipment to rig up a pully system to facilitate rappelling down. She and Blake begin descending, as the rest of us crowd around the opening, peering down. They get down about 150 feel deep when they call up, reporting that the tunnel continues but at a 45 degree angle now rather than straight down. There is more slimy goo down there too.

But then the ground and building started just slightly rumbling. The trembling slowly increased in intensity however, and before long the building was violently shaking, equipment was falling from the rafters, and dirt was sprinking down the hole on Kalli and Blake. We began to panic and called down for them to climb back up, fast! Hef began yanking up the rope, hoping to haul them to safety. But before he could, the ground 20 feet west of us erupted in an explosion of dirt and wood splinters, directly underneath another vat. A hideous purple mass smashed its way up through the floor and opened a gaping maw under the vat, sliding up and engulfing it! The monstrous giant purple worm continued to rise into the air, scraping open another hole in the wall and crashing through the ceiling as well. More debris rained down upon us all. Hrolf muttered, “I haven’t seen a scene like this since that brothel back in Calimport.”

Those of us on the ground all seemed to attack in unison, hacking and flailing at the seemingly alcoholic monstrosity. Hrolf hurled his ice axe and it embedded itself in the lip around the thing’s circullar maw. It began to pulse waves of frost, icing over half of the thing’s mouth.

Meanwhile down in the pit, Blake could be heard singing something about flying like an eagle, and indeed it would turn out that he had grabbed Kalli about the waist and literally begain flying up out of the pit! Hef fell back as the rope went slack, but quickly regained his composure and charged up behind Stefan, who cleaved a slice of flesh the size of a roast ham off the side of the thing. Did it even notice? I don’t know but it reeled to one side, cracking open another vat and crashing into the hoist 20 feet above the pit, sending it splintering and tumbling down past Blake and Kalli. The worm then dove down upon Hef, nearly engulfing him whole and lifting him skyward, the better to swallow.

Stefan and Hrolf continued to assail the thing’s side, yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself near enough to strike a blow myself. But we could now see the outlines of Hef’s form inside the thing, upside down and struggling as the flesh around him constricted and undulated. His horns punctured through to the outside, but he kept moving down inexorably.

The worm then reared back and seemed to eye Stefan, the creature causing it the most pain probably. It smashed it’s maw down over him, yet he ferociously batted it with his shield, deflecting it enough to keep from being engulfed.

Then Blake and Kalli finally came hovering up over the lip of the pit. As Raynard launched an arrow into the thing’s eye, they hovered a few feet higher into the air, and then the bard tossed the snarling warrioress down upon the worm’s head! Kalli’s Death From Above tactic is fruitful – her whirling scimitars cut ribbons of flesh from it’s head.


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