The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘campaign journals’

TEE

There is darkness… And then you find yourself standing in a long hall of stone. Ten black-scaled reptilians stand guard upon another reptilian in robes who shouts, “Behold Serrek Tarn, the Acolyte of the Master! He who shall be your doom!”

Agnarr is beside you. He scoffs. “Only an acolyte? Hah!”

There is a shattering flash of prismed light, and when your vision clears the reptilians lie dead and Agnarr is laughing. You walk down the hall together and throw open the door at its end.

You’ve seen this before. You know what to expect: A room of gold and a door of ebony…

… but that’s not what you see. The door opens onto a large chamber. The ceiling is several dozen feet above you and the entire room is choked full of bramblous growth reaching to a height at least twice your own. Before you a path seems to have been hacked out of the dead or dying brambles. You step forward onto the path…

… and wake in chains.

AGNARR

There is darkness… and out of the darkness a chamber filled with shadows emerges. There are others around you. Your companions? You can’t tell. Their faces are veiled by the shadows and seemed blurred besides.

Before you, however, is the sarcophagus of a dwarven thane – his cold and stony features etched in profile atop it. On a narrow ledge before the sarcophagus lies a gleaming greatsword. Your hand reaches out, you grasp the blade. It fits your hands perfectly. You raise it aloft and a glorious shout erupts from your throat, “FOR THE GLORY!”

The blade bursts into blinding flame, the light spreads and fills the room…

… and you wake in chains.

ELESTRA

Snowy Mountains

There is darkness… and then slowly, horrifically, the darkness fills with an unnamed dread. Your eyes are sightless and your ears hear no sound, and yet the certainty of horror ebbs into your very soul.

And then, suddenly, there is a light – impossibly bright; impossibly warm; impossibly soothing. The darkness is banished before it. And the light grows and grows and grows… And then it’s gone, but the darkness it leaves behind is merely the lack of light, not a manifested malevolence.

You open your eyes, and find yourself lying in a bank of snow upon the edge of a mountain. You can see for miles in every direction. The snow is chilling you, but there is a burning warmth in your left hand, which seems to be clenched about an object. Looking down and opening your hand, you find a mithril snake – the silver snake of Vehthyl; the serpent doubled. It seems to smolder, but is cooling rapidly.

You turn and see Dominic lying, much like yourself, in the snow. He, too, is holding the doubled serpent of Vehthyl. He looks up at you, and you see that his eyes are two glowing orbs of silver…

You wake in chains.

DOMINIC

There is darkness… and then slowly, horrifically, the darkness fills with an unnamed dread. Your eyes are sightless and your ears hear no sound, and yet the certainty of horror ebbs into your very soul.

And then, suddenly, there is a light – impossibly bright; impossibly warm; impossibly soothing. The darkness is banished before it. And the light grows and grows and grows… And then it’s gone, but the darkness it leaves behind is merely the lack of light, not a manifested malevolence.

You open your eyes, and find yourself lying in a bank of snow upon the edge of a mountain. You can see for miles in every direction. The snow is chilling you, but there is a burning warmth in your left hand, which seems to be clenched about an object. Looking down and opening your hand, you find a mithril snake – the silver snake of Vehthyl; the serpent doubled. It seems to smolder, but is cooling rapidly.

You turn and see Elestra lying, much like yourself, in the snow. She, too, is holding the doubled serpent of Vehthyl. She looks up at you, and you see that her eyes are two glowing orbs of silver…

You wake in chains.

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 7B: BLOOD IN THE DEPTHS

May 5th, 2007
The 23rd Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

 LINECH’S JOB

After lunch the party headed back to the Ghostly Minstrel so that those who had changed for the occasion could switch back to clothing which would make them appear more like the rough-and-ready wanderers that it sounded like Linech was looking for.

Linech, it turned out, owned an entire burrow in the Rivergate District. Everyone living there worked for Linech – either directly or indirectly. In truth, the entire place was basically a walled compound. They could see several armed guards scattered here and there amidst the buildings.

Entering the lower level of Linech’s place of business, the group was greeted by a young man with his hair pulled back into a ponytail. He asked them their business and, when they told him they were here for the job, he led them upstairs.

Asking them to wait outside for a moment, the man headed through a door. They couldn’t hear what the man said about them, but they did hear the bellowing voice which replied: “Well what are you waiting for? Get ‘em in here!”

Ptolus - Linech CranThe door opened and the group was ushered into a large office that had been garishly decorated. Perhaps the most arresting sight in the place was the life-sized gold statue of a nobly-dressed man which stood opposite the door. Behind a large desk covered in papers they saw the half-orc Linech. He bore an uncanny resemblance to his brother – he even seemed to be mashing the same brand of cheap cigar between his teeth.

After some discussion the group had agreed, with some trepidation, that Agnarr should be the one to talk. As unlikely as it seemed, he was the most appropriate person considering the circumstances. (“You’re all on Agnarr’s team now.”) So when Linech demanded to know who they were and what they wanted, he stepped forward: “We’re delvers. We’re here for the job.”

“Delvers, eh?” Linech said. “How do I know you’re cut out for this job?”

Agnarr grinned. “Cut out for the job? Just look at us. I’m a barbarian, he’s a priest, he throws spells, she’s got a sword, and she’s a sneaky elf. We’re exactly what you’re looking for.”

“Fair enough. All right, here’s the deal: I love my daughter dearly. I sent her on retreat to an estate I keep on an island off the coast. A week ago someone attacked the resort. They burned it to the ground and she was killed. I sent a ship to retrieve her body so that she could be buried with full rites in the Necropolis. But last night, when the ship was returning to Ptolus, it caught on fire and sank in the harbor. I think somebody attacked it. I think somebody is trying to hurt me. Why, I don’t know. But it’s important to me that my little girl be given a decent burial. So I want somebody to go down to the wreck and retrieve her coffin. And I want somebody who can defend themselves if it comes to it. For this, I’ll pay you 1,200 gold pieces. How’s that sound to you?”

(more…)

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 6B: RETURN TO THE DEPTHS

April 29th, 2007
The 21st Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

Elestra did, in fact, feel much better come the morning. The group felt that they would need more magical healing before their endeavor was complete, so they took the time to stop by Myraeth’s Oddities and pick up a partially spent wand of healing before heading back to Greyson House.

They found that the watchmen had left. In their place, the front door had been crudely boarded shut. Agnarr casually ripped the boards off the door, and the party headed back down into the dusty tunnels.

Agnarr carried Elestra across the pit of insanity, and the rest of the party crossed without incident. About two hundred feet further down, the tunnel abruptly ended in an open doorway. A brass frame in the shape of a door dangled useless from a broken hinge and old dusty shards of glass lay scattered on the ground.

Beyond the door there was a large chamber of the same cream-colored stone. Thick filigrees of dust and grime suggested long neglect and emptiness. Off to the left and the right there were sturdy iron doors. Across the chamber the hallway seemed to continue.

Testing the doors, they found one of them locked. Tee tried to pick the lock, but failed, so they decided to try the other door, which was unlocked. Opening it, however, they found nothing more than a short hallway with another door at the end of it.

Ranthir, meanwhile, noticed that the hinges for the first door were on this side of the door. He pointed this out to Tee and Tee was able to pull the hinges out. Then Agnarr stepped up and heaved the door to one side.

Behind the door they found a set of narrow, cramped hallways. There were many more of the sturdy iron doors.

Tee headed carefully into the area, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of danger. Reaching an intersection she peered down another hallway and spotted a corpse near the end of it. She beckoned Agnarr to follow her closely and began making her way down towards the corpse.

About halfway down the hall, Tee suddenly started sweating profusely. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead and, when she pulled it away, she was horrified to find it covered in blood. Looking down at her arms she could see that blood was literally oozing out of her pores. “Oh gods! Get out! Get out!”

Tee and Agnarr rushed back out of the cramped hallway into the larger room where the rest of the group was waiting. After a panicky description of what had happened, the group ascertained that Tee was no longer bleeding (although her clothes had become hopelessly stained). Agnarr had never been afflicted at all. Tee wondered if, perhaps, it was a curse which affected only those of elven blood. Agnarr decided to head back into the area and see if the corpse was, in fact, an elf as well.

But as Agnarr drew near the corpse he, too, found himself afflicted by the bloodsheen. He started to turn back towards the entrance, but as he did so the corpse suddenly lurched to its feat. In his booming voice, Agnarr cried out: “By the red elk!” He drew his sword.

The dry, gray skin of the corpse cracked open as something tore itself out from the inside, like a snake shedding its skin. It emerged as a glistening mass of raw muscle, pulsing with thick veins of crimson-black blood. Its fang-like teeth glittered as its mouth parted in a ghastly, hissing, guttural growl.

Agnarr retreated to the intersection and held his ground there. Tee, hearing his oath, rushed in as well, taking up a position behind him and using her longbow to shoot over his broad shoulders.

The undead monstrosity, pulling free from the dry husk of its former flesh, dashed down the hall at them. As it drew near, the bloodsheen returned – coating their flesh in a scarlet which gleamed in the flickering light of Agnarr’s sword. It made the barbarian’s grip on his sword slick, and he struggled to bring it to bear in the narrow quarters. Meanwhile, the monstrosity’s claws darted in again and again, raising hideous bleeding welts.

Elestra tried to work her way into a position where she could attack the creature too, but as she worked her way around the massive barbarian she inadvertently left her back open to the undead horror, which didn’t hesitate for a moment before tearing a huge, gaping gash across her back. She managed a single feeble and ineffective swing of her blade and then cried out in pain as her skin broke out with the bloodsheen and the wound on her back gushed a sudden torrent of blood. She fell to the floor, unconscious.

At that moment, a sudden pounding came at two of the doors behind Tee. She spun around and lowered her longbow as a desiccated corpse battered down one of the doors and shambled through it into the hallway. She fired true, but her arrow seemed to simply stick in the dead flesh of the creature.

Dominic, meanwhile, rushed in – hoping to heal Elestra and Agnarr. But the bloodsheen took him and weakened him and he was forced to turn back.

Ranthir fired bolts of eldritch might at the first creature. These had some effect, but did not seem to dissuade it. But Ranthir, in studying the creature, saw now that its wounds were visibly healing themselves.

Tee fired another arrow at the second creature. This seemed to knock it back a step, but still had little effect. So she dropped her bow and drew her dragon-hilted longsword. A tense battle between steel and claw ensued, while at her back Agnarr bled from wound after wound after wound.

With Elestra bleeding to death, Tee struggling, and Agnarr becoming weaker with every passing moment, it seemed that flight was the only possibility. Dominic stepped as close as he dared and called upon the might of his god to drive back the foul abominations. He repeated his call to the Father and raised his holy symbol high, but the creatures still fought in a frenzy.

Agnarr, trying to clear a clean path of escape for Tee, attempted to physically push his foe back down the hallway… but a claw snapped out and left a gaping wound in the side of his neck. He stepped forward again and, this time, managed to force it back a step – but he earned another grievous wound to the opposite side of his neck in payment for it.

At that very moment, Dominic’s holy strength found some meager purchase: The desiccated corpse clawing at Tee turned in sudden terror and fled. Tee, seizing the opportunity, plunged her sword deep into its exposed back. It jerked and then collapsed into a cloud of dust.

Tee cried out in joy. Agnarr turned to see what was happening… and left himself perilously open as he did. The creature’s claw found a crease in his sturdy leather armor and dug deep. The sheer force of the blow slammed Agnarr into a corner of the wall, and when the claw ripped free it was followed by a gout of blood. Agnarr fell to his knees and then collapsed.

Tee, badly wounded herself, fled for her life. She raced through the outer chamber and back into the long hall.

Ranthir was out the door before her, but Dominic – the words of his holy invocation still echoing on his lips – was laggard in his escape. The undead thing, bursting into the chamber on Tee’s heels, saw the seemingly defenseless priest and rushed straight at him. Its razor-like claw lashed out, punching deep into the priest’s stomach.

Blood bubbled to Dominic’s lips, but there was a strength deep in the priest’s frail frame – a strength born of his god perhaps. He smiled through the pain – a sickly grimace – and the words of his prayer grew loud again. He grasped the forearm of the creature – still buried in his stomach – with one hand and held it tight as he reached out with the other…

A single burst of holy light and it was done. The creature crumbled back into the dust from whence it had come and to which it now rightfully returned.

Dominic sagged to one knee. His hand closed over his ghastly wound and, with a gentle wave of holy energy, sealed it. Then he was quickly back on his feet and rushing down the hall to where Elestra and Agnarr lay.

Agnarr was still breathing, although his breaths were shallow and rasping. Elestra’s wounds, however, had bled her dry and her breathing had stopped for the second time in as many days. Dominic quickly spent the last of his holy strength on Elestra, barely managing to restore the breath of life to her. As she awoke, he used the wand they had purchased from Myraeth to awake Agnarr.

The pounding of fists upon iron was still echoing through the narrow halls. Something was trying to beat its way out to them. So, with Elestra’s condition hopefully stabilized, the group fled as quickly as they could back into the ancient passage and across the pit of insanity. Ranthir made sure to grab the boards which spanned the pit and pulled them across to their side.

REST AND RECUPERATION

The party was in a sorry state: The wound on Elestra’s back still ached and oozed. The two deep wounds on either side of Agnarr’s neck were still more than apparent. All of them had bled profusely from their pores, leaving their clothes grotesquely stained (except for Dominic whose holy vestments apparently shunned the filth) and their skin coated in coagulating gunk.

Despite their condition, they dragged themselves across town – attracting more than a few disdainful stares as they went. When they returned to the Ghostly Minstrel, Tellith took one look at them and shooed them back outside while she fetched some buckets of water to wash the worst of the filfth off them. There was, in fact, a specially designed trough to one side of the building which sloughed the water away.

“You can never be too prepared,” Tellith said and smiled.

“Does this happen often?” Tee asked.

“More often than my mop can bear,” Tellith replied.

When Tellith was satisfied, the party headed upstairs and gave themselves a thorough and proper cleaning.

When they reconvened in Elestra’s quarters, Dominic gave their injuries a thorough examination. He concluded that his gift of holy energy from Athor the Father would be strong enough the next day to rid them of their injuries, but only barely. As such, they would wait until the day after to journey back down to the ancient complex they had discovered.

Ranthir decided to spend the afternoon at the Delver’s Guild Library to see if he could find any reference to the blood-drenched creatures they had faced. (Perhaps they had some weakness.)

Ranthir had little luck in his research, but the rest of the party tried a different tack: They headed down to the Delver’s Guild office in the Undercity Market.

As they entered, Gorti Jurgen greeted them with a big smile. Agnarr quickly spoke up, “Do you know anything about undead who cause you to bleed from your pores?”

Gorti’s eyes grew wide, “Oh no… I don’t know anything about that.”

“Do you know anyone who would?”

“Not exactly. You should check at the library.”

“We’ve got a man on the job there already.” Agnarr looked around and tried to spot somebody with the air of experience to them. He saw a muscular, bald fellow leaning against the wall. The man had a scar which ran from his right temple down through a milky eye to his jowls. Agnarr strode over to him.

The man eyed him up and down as he came and grunted. “What do you want, barbarian?”

“Do you know anything about creatures like this?”

The man shrugged. “They sound like undead who cause you to bleed from your pores.”

“Exactly!” Agnarr jubilantly walked out.

While Agnarr had become the center of attention, Tee idly scanned the postings on the wall. She noticed that, in addition to the usual postings about equipment for sale and wanted expertise, there were several pro-Republican and several anti-Republican flyers posted as well. Once Agnarr was gone, she went over to the scarred man and asked him if he did, in fact, know anything. He didn’t.

They came up out of the Undercity Market and headed over to the Ghostly Minstrel. Agnarr had already hit the bar, hoping to soothe the ache from his wounds with a few women and a lot of alcohol.

A letter had arrived for Elestra. It was from Iltumar Shon and written in a crude hand:

Mistress Elestra—

I think I have a riddle to match your skill:

Oft I must strive with wind and wave.

They wish to capture what I must keep;

But in lying still am I strong in strife.

I can master them both if my grip holds out;

If the rocks bring succor and lend support.

Iltumar

Elestra was too tired to truly puzzle over the verse. Folding the letter carefully, she headed up to bed. The others soon followed her.

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 6A: BLOOD IN THE DEPTHS

April 29th, 2007
The 20th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

The party arrived back at Greyson House and found two watchmen posted outside. They gave them the scrap of paper they had been given back at the watch house and were let inside without incident.

They found that a few things had been moved around – presumably by the watch –  but for the most part the house was undisturbed. Agnarr strode confidently into the kitchen, grabbed the rope that was still tied off to the stove… and promptly fell into the basement. Dusting himself off he looked up at the rest of the party staring down at him. “Well… We had so many problems with the rope before, I figured I would just jump down.”

Tee frowned, waved him out of the way, and then lightly slid down the rope, landing gently on the floor. She moved away quickly before Dominic could fall on her again, but the others followed carefully (and safely) as she moved south into the room where they had found poor Jasin’s body.

Tee saw that the crates stacked along the wall and hiding the small crawlspace she had seen hacked through the foundation of the house hadn’t been moved. The watchmen they had spoken to had told the truth: They hadn’t found the secret passage, or even suspected that it existed.

Tee had Agnarr move the crates out of the way. With the hole clearly exposed, she could see that crates had also been stacked on the other side of the hole. Getting down on her hands and knees she crawled through the hole and gave the crates on the other side a sharp shove to get them out of the way. Too late she heard the sharp twang as a crude tripwire snapped and two flasks of alchemist’s fire dropped and smashed across her back.

Goblins – probably warned of their approach by all the noise they had made – hooted and hollered and began running towards her from out of the shadows, but with elven speed Tee rolled back out of the crawl hole, ripped off her burning shirt, and tossed it aside. (more…)

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 5: THE TROUBLE WITH GOBLINS

April 15th, 2007
The 19th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

Tellith pointed to a man wearing a green shirt who was sitting dejectedly at one of the tables. In truth, there weren’t many others in the common room – although the bard for the night was strumming idly in one corner.

Ranthir was tired, however, and headed upstairs for some food and a good book. Agnarr spotted Cardalian (the woman he had spoken with at breakfast a few days earlier sitting in the corner) – he headed over to her and offered to buy them both dinner.

Tee, Dominic, and Elestra, however, went to go talk to the man, who identified himself as Eral Yinnick. It quickly became apparent that Eral was emotionally distraught: His son had disappeared earlier that day. He and his wife were convinced that the boy had been kidnapped by the “ghost of Greyson House”. They had told him and told him not to play near that house, but the boy seemed fascinated by it despite their sternest warnings.

“Why come to us?” Tee asked.

“Phon told me about you.” (“She did?” Tee said. “Maybe she’s warming back up to us,” Dominic suggested.) “She told me how you saved her. I went to the watch, but they wouldn’t help. I thought maybe… maybe you could do for Jasin what you had done for her. So I asked her where I could find her, and she said the Ghostly Minstrel. So I came here and I waited and…” He was babbling.

Tee, Dominic, and Elestra agreed that they should try to help if they could. Tee looked around and saw Agnarr heading back across the common room with two plates piled high with food. She suggested that Elestra should go see if Angarr wanted to help them, and she sent Dominic upstairs to check with Ranthir.

Elestra caught up with Agnarr just as he sat down to eat. She quickly outlined the situation to him. “Okay,” said Agnarr. “Just let me finish eating.”

“Finish eating? There’s a boy in trouble!”

“Fine, fine. Just give me five minutes! Just five minutes!”

Elestra turned to Cardalian. “You look pretty tough. You want to tag along?”

Cardalian shook her head and demurred. “No, I’ve been fighting rats all day. I’m exhausted.”

Agnarr paused from shoveling food into his mouth and looked over at Cardalian. “Rats? Really? You’ll have to tell me about that.”

Cardalian raised her eyebrow, “Aren’t you supposed to be eating?”

Meanwhile, Ranthir – with his food freshly laid out and his book freshly cracked – heard Dominic’s knock at his door. “Come in.”

Dominic quickly outlined the situation. “Come on, you can bring your food with you.”

“But… it’s soup!”

Ranthir forlornly put it aside, gathered his things and headed for the door.

Five minutes later, everyone was gathered with Eral in the lobby of the Ghostly Minstrel.

THE HAUNTING OF GREYSON HOUSE

The group headed up the hill towards the North Market. (“Wait, are we going up the hill to the haunted house? Or are we headed to the house on haunted hill?”) They discovered that Eral’s home – and Greyson House just across the street – were both located on Catbird Street, literally just around the corner from Phon’s house.

Agnarr realized that he now knew where Phon lived. Tee groaned at the thought of it, but she would have been even more worried if she had overheard Agnarr trying to “subtly” pump Eral for information regarding the father of Phon’s child on the way over. (Eral didn’t know anything.)

When they arrived, Eral quickly introduced them to his wife Ortesia – a woman completely overcome by her panic. They kept it short and immediately headed across the street.

(As they went, Agnarr remarked, “Hey, what are we getting paid for this?” He was met with blank states all around, and after a moment he said: “Oh. Got it.”)

Agnarr strode up onto the porch and tried the door handle. It was locked. But as Agnarr stepped back, the door began to rattle and shake and a low, mournful howl could be heard through the door.

Agnarr cocked his head to the side for a moment in contemplation, grunted, and then kicked the door open. A fetid mass of excrement, turpentine, and other foulness fell from above the door. The stench was nearly overpowering to Agnarr and Dominic (who stood just behind him), but they both steeled their stomachs against the nauseating stench.

Even as they paused to consider this sickening mess, a ghostly specter slipped out of the shadows and a hideous whisper seemed to echo through the house: “None shall live who enter this place…”

The spirit, however, had not considered the lust for battle which had been growing in Agnarr’s heart as a result of two days spent pent-up in a library and asking fruitless question. The barbarian rushed into the room, and although the ghost rushed forward to meet him, hot thews forged in the cold climes of the northern wastes proved the faster: The barbarian’s sword, flaming at his command – “For the glory!” – swept through the specter with a single sweep…

… revealing it to be nothing more than a sheet.

The sheet, reduced to a smoldering rag, fell to the floor. But what it revealed was perhaps even worse: A blood-sucking stirge, just like the ones that had nearly brought Tee and Agnarr to their ruin in the dark caves of the black reptilians. Agnarr cried out: “There’s a stirge in here, Tee!” And Tee, in panic, shouted back, “Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!”

Agnarr ducked as the stirge swooped down at him… which proved fortuitous, for at almost the same moment a small, runty goblin stepped out of the shadows in the same corner of the room from which the “ghost” had emerged and hurled a javelin at him! Both the stirge and the javelin passed harmlessly over Agnarr’s head.

Meanwhile Tee drew her longsword and rushed forward past her other companions, who were still somewhat uncertain what was actually happening. (“What the hell is a stirge?” Elestra asked, prompting Ranthir to happily elucidate her: “It’s a small, bat-like predator. Almost an overgrown mosquito, really. It feeds on its victims by plunging its proboscis into the soft flesh…”)

Tee, arriving inside the house, ducked past Agnarr and took a swing at the nasty little creature as it swooped over Agnarr’s head. She connected solidly, ripping one of its four wings completely off its body. Spurting blood, the creature attempted to attack Agnarr again, but the barbarian easily smote it to the ground in smoking ruin.

Elestra meanwhile, ignoring Ranthir’s recitation, moved into the house herself. The goblin, screaming unintelligibly in its native tongue, took a swipe at Agnarr and tried to run for the stairs. This proved to be its undoing: Elestra took it high and Agnarr took it low. The goblin’s head, torso, and legs fell in four distinct piles on the floor.

After the flurry of action, Elestra was shocked. All she could do was stare at her sword, which had seemed to dance of its own accord. The lethal, almost bloodthirsty instincts which were driving her were so strange… and yet they seemed so natural.

Tee, meanwhile, quickly took charge. “I think it was calling for help.” She set Agnarr to watch the stairs leading up to the second floor and she set Elestra to watch the only other door leading out of the room. Then she set about doing a quick search of the room, focusing particularly on the corner where the “ghost” and goblin had emerged from.

Ranthir and Dominic, meanwhile, wandered into the house as well. Ranthir, for his part, prodded the smoldering remains of the stirge: “Yes, indeed, this is a stirge. Well spotted, Master Agnarr…” Dominic, for his part, noticed that the commotion was already beginning to attract the attention of people up and down this quiet side-street. He turned and shouted, “Emergency exorcism! Nothing to be worried about!” He made sure to close the door behind him.

Tee found that the various debris and broken furniture in this room had been cunningly piled to conceal a hidey-hole of sorts in the corner of the room. It seemed likely that the goblin and the ghost-turned-stirge had hidden in this nook before emerging.

Tee then turned her attention to the door. She found it unlocked and untrapped (unlike the front door) and opened it, revealing the ruined remnants of a kitchen. In addition to a variety of trash, the rusted remains of an iron stove squatted in the corner. A trapdoor was clearly evident in one corner of the room.

Tee crossed the room and flipped open the trapdoor. She saw a ladder leading down into darkness – probably a cellar of some sort. Looking around she spotted bones scattered here and there throughout the rubbish – bones which Ranthir thought mainly belonged to small animals, although a few very old human bones were also to be found.

The group decided that it would be better to check the upstairs first before venturing down the ladder: The goblin had been trying to escape in that direction, after all. Leaving Ranthir and Dominic to guard the trapdoor, Tee, Elestra, and Agnarr headed up the stairs (with the barbarian in the lead). Ranthir nervously closed the trapdoor with his toe.

They didn’t find much of anything up there. At the top of the stairs there was an essentially barren room. Through a door they found a bedroom with a four-poster bed fallen into rotten ruin. Off the bedroom they found a closet which, judging by the smell and the piles of waste and excrement, had apparently been seeing use most recently as a toilet.

As Tee began thoroughly going over the upstairs rooms to make sure nothing had been missed, however, the trapdoor downstairs suddenly burst open and a goblin scurried out. Ranthir and Dominic were caught by surprise, allowing a second goblin to scurry out of the hole before they could react.

Dominic called out for help from upstairs, stepped forward, and began beating the first goblin with his mace – slamming it up against the wall with the satisfying crunch of broken ribs.

Tee, Elestra, and Agnarr raced downstairs. On her way, though, Tee noticed someone peering through the grime-covered front window. She hurriedly opened the front door and stepped out to discover that a relatively large crowd of people had gathered in front of the porch, and one of these on-lookers had become overly eager and was up on the porch trying to get inside. He jumped as Tee came out. “Oh! Hey there! What’s going on in there?”

“Emergency exorcism,” Tee said. “You should step back. You don’t want to be hurt.”

“But it sure sounds like something interesting is going in there! I just want to—“

Tee bared a quarter inch of steel. The man blanched. “Ah, right. Of course. I’ll just be backing away to a safe distance then. Good point.”

Tee ran back in, making sure to close the door behind her. “Sorry I’m late. Had a bad case of nosy neighbors.”

With everyone crowded into the kitchen and weapons swinging wildly, it was a cramped fit… which only seemed to help the party rapidly overwhelm both goblins.

But Dominic said that he had seen a third goblin crawling up out of the basement – a goblin who had disappeared back into the darkness when he’d seen how badly things were going for the other two. So Agnarr quickly jumped onto the ladder and started climbing down…

…but the ladder broke under his weight! (“You just had to finish eating dinner, didn’t you!” Tee called after him.) Agnarr tumbled in a painful heap on the hard stone floor of the cellar ten feet below. And, as he picked himself up, three goblins popped up from behind some crates and hurled javelins at him!

Agnarr growled deep in his throat, plucked one of the javelins from where it had lodged in his shoulder, drew his greatsword, and charged. Unfortunately it proved hard to bring his weapon to bear on the goblins, which were darting here and there behind the haphazard crates.

Ranthir scrabbled at his pack… only to find that he’d left his rope stored back at the inn! Tee pushed him out of the way, pulled out her own rope and grappling hook, and quickly secured them to the iron stove.

Even as she was finishing the knots, Elestra grabbed the rope and hurriedly dropped into the basement. She, too, charged the goblins and felt her rapier dancing in her hand…

But at just that moment, Agnarr – finally fed up with the scurrying little runts – grabbed one of the crates and hurled it to one side. This left his own swing open to gut one of the goblins, but the crate hurtled straight into Elestra’s sword and knocked her blow aside.

Tee quickly rappelled down the rope herself, landing lithely at the bottom and taking stock of what was happening. She drew her sword…

…just in time for Dominic, who had failed to get a firm grip on the rope, to fall right on top of her. Both of them fell prone just as the door on the south side of the cellar flew open and three more goblins came rushing out!

Elestra, finding herself suddenly surrounded, quickly circled around behind the goblin she was fighting, although she took a nasty blow in the process. Tee tried to scramble to her feet, but received a nasty mace blow across the top of her head which left her dazed and reeling. Dominic scrambled to his feet, as well, but found himself directly in Agnarr’s way – stopping the raging barbarian from reaching the goblins who had just arrived.

Chaos reigned for a moment, but it didn’t take long for the group to turn things around. Goblins fell left and right until, finally, the last goblin – hissing a snarl that revealed its fang-like teeth – slammed the door.

The party took a moment to assess its wounds. Some of them were bloodied. Some of them were bruised. (Dominic took a moment to heal the particularly nasty wound on Agnarr’s shoulder.) But they felt they could continue. Agnarr kicked open the door through which the goblin had fled and found…

…nothing. A small room stacked high with rubbish. There were more bones here, as well, these considerably… juicier… than the ones in the kitchen above. But no doors. And no sign of the goblin.

Tee carefully moved into the room, looking for any sign of the missing goblin. Unfortunately what she found was Jasin’s body. The body had clearly been gnawed upon and several large cuts of meat had also been removed. Dominic quickly inspected the body, but it was so badly mutilated… Jasin had probably been dead before they ever spoke with Eral.

Tee gathered the body up in a spare cloak. As she was carrying it back out to be lifted through the trap door, she noticed a hole in the cellar wall which had been somewhat clumsily concealed by a stack of crates. A hurried discussion ensued, but the group agreed that they had accomplished what they’d come for: Recovering Jasin.

Tee emerged from the front door, carrying Jasin’s shrouded body in her arms. The crowd of onlookers began to murmur, and over their heads Tee could see Jasin’s mother, Ortesia, collapse on the porch of her own home. With bowed head she crossed the street and lay Jasin’s body down. “I am so sorry for your loss.”

“But there’s still a chance we could save him, isn’t there?” Elestra said, with a note of desperate hope in her voice. “He can’t have been dead for more than a few hours. He could be healed with magic.”

Eral shook his head and stammered. “We can’t afford anything like that.”

“And we don’t have the money either,” Agnarr said.

“So that’s it?” Elestra said. “We’ve got at least nineteen or twenty hours. Don’t we want to at least try something?”

“Like what?” Agnarr said. Then his eyes lit up and he turned to Tee, “We could sell your house!”

Tee stared at him blank-faced. She blinked once. “What?”

“We could sell your house! It’s the only thing of value that we have!”

“What ‘we’ are you talking about? It’s my house!” Tee shouted. She pulled herself under control long enough to offer condolences to the Yinnicks yet again and then strode off. After a moment the others followed. Dominic paused for a moment, “Someone should call the Watch. There may be more goblins in the basement.”

HEAVY HEARTS

With heavy hearts the group returned to the Ghostly Minstrel. Dirtied and bloodied, the group headed for the stairs, hoping to get cleaned up and find some much-needed rest.

As they reached the second floor, however, the group heard a strange and mournful song echoing through the halls. Rounding the corner they saw a spectral figure playing on a lute turning around the corner. Following it they came around the corner themselves just in time to see it walk through a wall.

Ranthir knocked on the door near where the ghostly figure had disappeared, but there was no answer. He frowned in thought, “Well, my curiousity has been piqued.”

Someone suggested that they might go downstairs and mention this to the owner. At the bottom of the stairs they saw that Tellith was still on duty at the front desk, approached here, and explained what had happened.

Tellith smiled. “Ah, you’ve seen the Minstrel have you? You’re fortunate ones. Most hear nothing more than his song, and they are lucky at that.”

Agnarr growled. “Of course. The whole place is called the Ghostly Minstrel!” He threw his hands up and headed up the stairs to bed.

Ranthir asked if they might be given access to the room the ghost had disappeared into. “Of course,” Tellith said. “As long as its not occupied. Which room was it?” When he described the location of the room, however, she shook her head. “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s Cardalian’s room. I can’t let you in there.”

“Do you know if Cardalian is in the inn tonight?”

Tellith shook her head. “I don’t think so. She left earlier this evening and I haven’t seen her come back.”

The group concluded that there wasn’t really anything else they could do about their sighting of the eponymous Ghostly Minstrel, so they broke up for the evening: Dominic and Ranthir followed Agnarr upstairs, but Tee and Elestra decided it was still too early in the evening for them. Tee decided to hit some of the legitimate gambling houses she had found out about and spent her time idly wagering various sums.

Elestra, on the other hand, stayed at the Ghostly Minstrel and hung out in the common room. Spotting Steron Vsool – the paladin she had spoken with a few nights earlier – sitting by himself, she wandered over and asked if she might join him. They chatted amiably for a few moments before Elestra steered the conversation towards recent events… particularly the riot.

Elestra dropped the suggestion that there might have been a bit more to the riot than just random circumstance and bad luck, and Steron picked it up and ran with it. “That’s exactly why they arrested Helmut Itlstein, or so I’ve heard,” he said. “And I’ve heard that there have been more arrests since last night.”

“Really?” Elestra said. “Who have they been arresting?”

“I don’t know. But if I had to place a wager, I’d say the Commissar is rounding up other Republican leaders. Probably because Helmut named names.”

“But why would the Republicans start a riot at their own event?” Elestra wondered out loud.

“Maybe they didn’t,” Steron said. “The Commissar may just be using that as an excuse to round them up. They’ve been a thorn in his political side for awhile now.”

At that moment, a large ogre with bluish skin and ioun stones swirling about his head, tapped Steron on the shoulder. “Steron, may I speak with you?”

“Of course, Urlenius,” Steron said. “If you’ll excuse me, Elestra?”

Steron left. Elestra got up as a well and was about to head up to bed when she spotted Iltumar Shon coming into the common room. She waved to him and he hurried over.

Iltumar had finally figured out the riddle she had apparently given him, “Is it a sawhorse, mistress Elestra?” She agreed that it must be and complimented him on his cleverness.

Iltumar gushed and was clearly trying to impress Elestra. Elestra, for her part, was patient and friendly. Eventually, though, she made her excuses and headed up to bed.

DORAEDIAN’S SUMMONS

Tee was awakened before the crack of dawn by a knocking on her door. Cracking it slightly she found a messenger waiting for her: “Mistress Tee? A letter for you.”

Looking at the letter she saw her name written in Doraedian’s familiar handwriting. Quickly ripping it open she found a very terse note:

Tee—

I have read your most recent letter. It is of the utmost importance that you come to see me with all due haste! It is urgent!

Doraedian

Tee immediately grabbed her things and headed up the hill to Iridithil’s Home. A false sunrise was cresting the ocean horizon and casting purple shadows across the face of the Spire. Iridithil’s Home itself was still in the cool, pre-dawn air – it seemed that almost no one was stirring, yet. Tee found Doraedian waiting for her in his office with the door open.

It turned out that, as Tee had suspected, Doraedian considered the reference Ranthir had found to a “city of dreams” to be incredibly important. He explained to Tee that the City of Dreams was spoken of in the Book of Secrets: It was an ancient elven city – a center of learning in which the legendary Elders of Dreaming would gather. But it was also said to have been lost in a great cataclysm. Indeed, the true lore of the City had been lost to them and only a handful of fragmentary references were left.

“I owe you an apology, Tee. You were right and I was wrong. The path that you are on seems inextricably bound to knowledge you do not have. It is time for you to learn the secret lore of the Dreaming. First I must consult with the other elders, but within a few days I will send you word of when your training is to begin.”

Tee was overjoyed, though she kept it as contained as she might. “Will I still be able to journey with my companions?”

“Yes,” Doraedian said. “Indeed, it is imperative that you do so. Your training will be carried out when it is possible for you to find time for it. But you must discover the purpose of the path that you walk.”

QUESTIONS AND A FRESH RESOLVE

(08/20/790)

The next morning the group met for breakfast, with Tee arriving first in the common room. It was a quiet and reserved meal, with very little being discussed.

Elestra eventually broke the ice by discussing what Steron had told her the night before. Agnarr thought, if all that was true, Phon might have been arrested: If Helmut wanted her out of the way and was naming names, he could have easily named her as well.

But after that momentary burst of information, the conversation remained sullen and uncertain. The death of Jasin was still heavily felt. Eventually someone broached the issue directly, and suggested that they should go back to that house, see what the Watch had done, and take whatever steps were necessary to permanently end the goblin threat there.

As if summoned by the mere mention of their name, two members of the Watch came through the front door of the Ghostly Minstrel. They looked around, spotted the group, and headed over.

“Are you Mistress Tee, Mistress Elestra, Master Agnarr, Master Ranthir, and Master Dominic? Please come with us. We have a few questions for you at the watchhouse.”

After confirming that they were not, in fact, under arrest, the group crossed Delver’s Square with them. It turned out that the Watch had a few questions regarding the “incident” at Greyson House the night before, but it seemed to be little more than a cursory follow-up. It quickly became apparent that, while they may have checked the house, they hadn’t found the secret passage in the cellar. They had posted a guard of some sort… but how long would they stay on duty there?

The group asked if they might be given permission to go back into the house and explore the secret passage they had discovered. The watchman shrugged. But when he learned they were members of the Delver’s Guild he agreed to ask his captain. He left, and when he returned he confirmed that they would be given unfettered access to the house.

They left the watchhouse and headed toward the North Market, their hearts perhaps a little lighter with their fresh-found purpose…

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

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