The Twin Kingdoms

Finding Door E

After a good night’s rest we headed back to the old temple. Billy, still in a state of inFaytuation, tagged along and gave us a pouch of gems, apparently from his grandmother (or possibly “grandmother”). This heroing business pays better than transcribing Father’s judgements.

Having encouraged Billy not to get himself killed, we reopened the altar-door, and let it air out a little as we poked around the upper floor. There were several excessively large columns, each about five feet across and decorated with carvings. On tapping they felt hollow, but we could find no obvious way to open them, so we descended.

The next floor was also quite large, with several doors. Chrysta set about making a map; I expect dwarves are used to navigating underground. We found several doors, and Chrysta opened one, but immediately fell unconscious.

Fortunately I realised what might have happened, and told the others not to approach. Instead Vall lassoed Chrysta by the foot and dragged her back. The entrance stank as if something had died in there and putrefied enthusiastically; I detected faint traces of necromancy, and Chrysta detected evil. We decided to let this one air out and investigate elsewhere.

Faye, being the tanner’s child, was chosen to open the next door. Inside we found skeletons nailed to the wall and some sort of unpleasant goop on the floor. Shortly afterwards Vall noticed a nasty-looking blade trap, apparently still armed despite the passage of time; he disarmed it and salvaged the blade, made of extremely high-quality metal.

Past that we encountered a more pleasant smell: parchment. A room with many shelves, and one of those gigantic pillars continuing downward. On the shelves were several scrolls, extremely fragile with age. I found one group radiating magic; the first crumbled when I touched it, but I employed a mending spell to preserve the others. They appear to relate to the reanimation of the dead; the incantation involves a great deal of cackling but I’m pretty sure that’s optional. I collected them for safe-keeping; I’ll see about transcribing one later.

(Note to self: Chrysta may be uncomfortable with the subject matter, it would probably be kinder not to give her too much detail about them.)

The rest of the scrolls were more mundane: a membership list, various temple records, the most recent dated about 650 years ago. I wonder if any of them are the people we found nailed to the wall?

Moving on, we came to another room with the decayed remains of mattresses on the floor. Knowing the propensity of teenagers and cultists to hide things in their mattresses, of course we searched them. We found some old gold coins that might be worth more than their weight in gold to a collector, Vall came across a nice dagger, and of particular interest, a ring that radiated illusion magic; I will have to see about identifying that one.

Unallocated loot:

500pp + gems + misc loot from temple, illusion ring, rare coins.

Shiny points: 7 from last session, 0 spent, +1 for summary and 1 for an awful pun = 9.

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Temple of Rov

Chrysta has been studying with her co-religionists, and I have been reading Bigby’s Big Book of Beliefs, so we were both able to identify the old building as a temple of Rovagug (BBBoB p. 388: portfolio wrath, disaster, destruction, kittens – suspect possible transcription error).

Chrysta told us that her mystic senses had detected emanations of evil from the dead axe-wielding maniac (whose name we later learned was ‘Raine’) and from the temple. This was not entirely surprising, but it never hurts to confirm such things; more importantly, she didn’t detect any other evil among the remaining bandits and their prisoners.

From talking to them we learned that Raine had become more driven a few months back, which explained why the lads had escalated from petty brigandry to murder. Consistent with my speculation that he had developed some version of the spark?

The prisoners turned out to be carters who had been ambushed by Raine’s gang, with one killed.

I’m not convinced that the responsibility was Raine’s alone; one could argue whether the others should have done more to stop him when his bloodthirstiness became apparent. But one of the things I’ve learned from watching my father at work is that sometimes it’s unwise to pursue justice too rigorously.

So we encouraged the lads in agreeing that the violence had been solely Raine’s doing (they were quite happy to go along with this) and urged them to head back to town and make their apologies.

Billy lingered with us, and from watching the way he looked at Faye it wasn’t hard to see why. I’m reminded of my cousin Thomin, who used to take his pig fishing as a decoy for the mosquitos; travelling with Faye has similar benefits in terms of holding the lads’ attention.

We decided to inspect the temple in case of menaces and/or loot. There was an old altar with some very old stains and a few recent ones; other than that, there was nothing more terrifying than the detritus of a dozen lads who hadn’t learned how to wash their clothes or change their bedding.

But I had my suspicions – I remembered the diagram on BBBoB page 263 – and set to looking for a passage under the altar. By poking at old carvings, Faye and Vall managed to activate a secret catch that opened up a hole behind the altar, down which Billy almost tumbled. Picked it!

The space smelled distinctly stale, and we were in need of rest, so we closed the door and headed back to town with Billy and the late Raine. The guards seemed amused and pleased by the resolution we’d brought to the situation, and gave us a bag containing a delightfully large number of platinum coins.

Vall headed off with Billy to the “tea room” which is apparently the preferred watering spot of the local “legitimate businessmen”. Meanwhile, Chrysta and I went back to the archives and did some research.

We learned that the Mon’Vallaise family had been here before the cataclysm, and had effectively founded the town. Believing that all the gods should have a presence (oh yes of COURSE we should make sure that Snarklegrub Lord of Dysentery has representation, who could be against that idea?) they built temples to each of them, with the non-housetrained faiths located some way out of town.

The Mon’Vallaise family were lieges of the Mon’Vallas family, who had the region from the King. Several hundred years ago the last of the Mon’Vallaise family died without an heir, and the Mon’Vallas lost their lands as they reverted to the king. (Or perhaps I have my Vallaises and Vallases mixed up there, I didn’t quite catch it.)

Since then the town has shrunk, and what was outskirts is now farmland or forest.

We found an old map that showed the city in its greater days. Among other things, the map included twenty temples to the gods… but that of Sivanah, goddess of illusions, was missing. Seems fitting. Knowing how these things go, it’ll probably turn out to be a gigantic tower in the middle of town that we’ve been walking right past without seeing it.

After that we returned to the tavern, where Faye was dancing on tables and making a spectacle of herself. Well, it keeps her happy, I suppose.

Vall had been talking to Billy’s grandmother (I wasn’t sure if “grandmother” or " ‘grandmother’ " but I think actually grandmother). She is an attractive woman – I suspect Billy may find himself vying with his grandmother for Faye’s attention – and appears much, much too young to be his grandmother. She also has a ring on her finger bearing a truly complex enchantment: a mix of divination, enchantment, evocation, illusion, and transmutation. One suspects the two facts are related.

(100 gp + 500 pp not yet allocated among party members?)

Shiny points: 6 from last session, 0 spent, +1 = 7.

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Saving Private Billy

We had some time to spend in Vallaise, so I decided to explore the town and learn about its history. It is very old; it used to be part of the land trade routes as well, but now it only serves the river traffic. On the outskirts are dairy farms, and it trades their produce.

Faye and Vall were making their own enquiries, and learned that the town’s brigand problem has become worse of late; previously they only suffered occasional minor pests, but these are more serious, and have taken to murder. The legitimate business folk of the town have offered a reward for anybody who can put an end to the problem, and some of the… some of Vall’s contacts have offered more on top of that. They asked us to bring back Billy, a young man who ran off to join the brigands.

(Consideration: the spark of heroism inspires the desire to wander. What if this is a variant of the same effect? Could banditry be a milder form of the heroic impulse?)

I pressed the guard captain mon’Valla for details on the scoundrels’ disposition. He told us their numbers were estimated at about a dozen, not particularly well equipped or trained; the guards might be able to handle them themselves, but that would leave the town undefended and risk unacceptable losses.

(I suppose this means that either he was confident we could handle them, or that we would be acceptable losses. I shall choose to believe the former.)

We also asked who might be fencing for the bandits, and he told us their fence had recently been murdered for reasons unknown.

Having done our research, we set forth, taking a farmers’ road that had once been the old trade route to the south. It led near a forest that had once been used for cottaging. I mean coppicing. Possibly both, you never know.

Past the last farms we reached the edge of the forest and found signs of a scuffle, with blood shed on the ground and signs that somebody had been dragged into the forest.

We followed the trail until, up ahead, we heard raised voices. Vall scouted ahead and reported back: a group of about fifteen people arguing (“you shouldn’t have killed him!” “Why not?”) with two prisoners on the ground, tied up. Billy was among their number, looking unenthused about the proceedings.

We set up for an ambush. I cloaked Vall in invisibility and he crept in to warn Billy to hide, and as Billy drifted away, Faye used her magic to start whispering paranoid suggestions to the bandits, who were already close to blows. While doing his work, Vall noticed an old building behind the bandits and felt a sense of wrongness; I have a nasty suspicion our path will take us there soon.

With the tension building, I sparked things off by shooting my crossbow at the most unpleasant and aggressive fellow among them. I clipped his thigh, and he turned and struck out at the man behind him.

At that, things descended into violence. Several of the others attacked the boss, but he dispatched two of them in short order. He seemed quite unnaturally angry, and yet I detected no magic coming from him. (Hero? Is it still a hero if they’re nasty, or is that an anti-hero? Or is that a subjective value judgement?)

Most of the others seemed antagonistic to him, so we decided to join the fray and take him down. He was laying about with an axe and doing serious damage, but I caught him with a ray that sapped his strength; Face menaced him, leaving him visibly shaken, and then the two of them brought him down. Two of his sidekicks were shooting at Vall and Faye but my friends made short shrift of them; Chrysta was running in to heal Faye, who had been hurt in the fracas, but by the time she got there it was all over. The remaining bandits surrendered, some of them assisting us in rounding up the rest.

To be continued…

Shiny points: 5 from last section, 0 spent, +1 = 6.

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Sail Away

So we set off to visit the King. That’s no small journey, about a thousand miles to the coast, but at least we can hope for a warm welcome at the end.

There was a big crowd ready to see us off, and I felt quite sad. Who knows when we will return to Callech? And even if we return to find the town just as we remember it, something tells me we ourselves will be very different.

(Give or take Faye.)

Mayor Greaves made a lovely speech and gave us each a key to the town, and then we headed downstream with Galeth and his crew. We passed the water elemental (with obligatory singing) and passed through several towns: Tremayne, Qurelid’rel, Prudence.

After Prudence, the river banks steepened, and there it was that we were ambushed. The first we knew of it was when one of the boatmen, in the middle of flirting with Faye (yes, I know) toppled over with an arrow in his chest.

Since Faye had defrayed the costs of my learning the kobolds’ strength spell I thought it only fair to give her value for money, and so I cast it on her. She attempted a heroic leap to the riverbank to pursue our attackers; unfortunately her ambition rather exceeded her ability and she fell in the water, but eventually she managed to paddle ashore.

Meanwhile Fall was using his sling against the bandits, with some success, but at the cost of drawing their attention. He was shot repeatedly, until I cast a protection spell on him. I’d tested it on a dead pig before but this was the first time I’d had occasion to use it on a live person, so I was delighted to see it stopping an arrow dead in mid-air.

The bandits had set up a net across the canyon to catch our boat, but that proved no obstacle; I burned through it with a fan of fire, and the boat sailed through the resulting hole.

Faye had finally made it ashore and charged one of the scoundrels, with dramatic and messy consequences for him. She had almost closed on a second when Vall took him out with a well-aimed sling stone. Meanwhile, having depleted my stock of spells, I scored a direct hit on one with my crossbow; he reeled and Vall caught him in the temple, dropping him like a rock.

And that was the last of it; if there were any others, they made themselves scarce. Chrysta had been healing Vall during the fight, and did likewise for Faye’s erstwhile companion, who is now looking very well for a fellow who recently had an arrow sticking out of him. The boatmen were quite annoyed by the attack; it seems this is quite unusual in these parts, and had we not been with them things might have gone very badly.

We retrieved the bodies of the three fallen brigands (is there a distinction between bandits and brigands? I ought to check that some time). They had little of value on them, but when we arrived in Vallaise we were able to turn them over for a decent bounty. One of them was recognised as a local petty criminal, but the other two were unknown to the local watch.

Vallaise is about twice as big as Callech, and has some new and memorable smells (cattle yard, tanning yard). Faye took the opportunity to pick up a chain shirt, and I was able to intercept a shipment with some tools I had ordered for Callech. We made ourselves comfortable in the local inn and Faye got into a bar brawl, so I suppose she can mark that one off her bucket list.

Tomorrow we head for Blackwater and Tor.

Shiny points: 4 carried over, none spent this session, +1 for this update = 5.

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Reading and Learning

I spent some time conversing with the kobolds and exchanging magical knowledge; I was gratified to discover that much of my knowledge was new to them, and (the point of the exercise) much was new to me.

Naturally there was a quid pro quo. I have mixed feelings about that; their ways are very different from ours and for all our efforts in diplomacy I do not know for sure whether that might lead to strife down the road. I can only hope that this exchange will show them there’s more to be gained from collaboration with other races than from conflict. Certainly things have improved, if they were willing and able to send a message to us via the dwarves – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

In any case, the trade was somewhat lopsided; I exchanged several lesser magics, but most of the greater ones I bought from them with coin and material goods. I persuaded Faye to cover the cost of one spell; I must make sure she gets her money’s worth, to encourage her to do so again. This work is expensive; I have spent a great deal of my savings on paper and mixing ink, to say nothing of what I paid the kobolds. And my fingers are black with ink, and my nose from when I fell asleep in my books.

Vall, dissatisfied by the options available locally, has been making himself a bow. Chrysta has been meditating in her temple, and Faye has been marking time at the temple of Cayden Cailean – which is to say, the Drunken Hero tavern. Fair enough.

We have agreed to destroy the dagger of Norgorber. Manfred, who doubles as priest and bar-owner at the Drunken Hero, advised looking for a powerful temple of good, something beyond what can be found here in Callech.

As we were considering this, Galeth brought us a box bearing the seal of King Mon’Dravid. Inside were five scrolls, one for each of us (including Myrie – I have no idea how we’re going to get hers to her).

Mine was addressed to “Nura Mon’Daan”. This, I suppose, answers one question and raises several more. Fascinating. And not a name I recognise.

We each received the same message, inviting us to visit him at the capital. We agreed to do so – it also seems a good opportunity to deal with the business of the dagger.

Shortly before we were due to depart we received notice from the dwarves that the kobolds had asked to speak to us. It seems they had a problem: the passageway they were using had sealed over and two earth elementals were patrolling it.

Chrysta spoke to them in Terran, while I listened. The discussion was curious; when she introduced herself as a dwarf they told her “You are rock, not dwarf”, and said that dwarves should be fleshy – I have no idea what that is about. But she was able to arrange passage for the kobolds, on similar terms to Faye’s deal with the water elemental: a story for travel.

They also told her that “the earth has changed”. But when she asked if they were around when the land shook, they were very upset.

I wonder what marvels await us? Forces of fire and air, perhaps?

Shiny points: 3 carried over from last time, 0 spent, 1 earned from this summary = 4

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Chrysta's Fifth Letter to Mother Augite
What's Mine is Mined.

Dear Mother Augite,

Before I begin this recount, I must confess that I fear I have let slip some of the mysteries of our people to those not of our race. I would take refuge in an excuse but that does not, as they say, hold water – if I was unable to control myself under the influence of alcohol, then I should not have partaken. My only hope is that in my inebriated state, I took as literal what Nura was describing in a metaphorical state.

I should also point out that in some of these tales, I speak of things you know well about, such as my visit to the Archives to investigate the dagger. I do this so that the records will make sense to any others who read them – not all of them would know of your part unless I wrote it out, and you are far too valuable a colleague and mentor to be omitted.

medium.jpgWhen we returned to Callech, strangely enhanced in our abilities, we all decided to go and make use of our new talents. Nura and Faye worked together on the scribing of scrolls, Vall set up a workshop and began shaping such a bow! Oh Mother Augite – I do not usually have an appreciation of these Elvish weapons, but surely his true talents lie in this direction. Even I am able to appreciate the fine lines, the clear engineering of the curves and the power that it will bring to his shots. It will take him some weeks to complete it, but any true work of art deserves the time and the effort put into it.

I myself came to you in our Abbey records to find out more about this dagger, and I do not blame you at all for not wanting to take it. Vall offered, but I did not feel comfortable about that – such a work of evil should be closely guarded by someone who has the blessing of Pharasma to protect them.

All this time, Faye was brushing up on her bardic skills, and spent most of her time in either the tavern or chatting with visitors to town. Poor thing – I think she wants to get out into the world to perform for a wider audience. We suggested she could go and sing to the Water Elemental, who would appreciate her songs. We also asked her to ask the Elemental about the dagger, but she left the creature on friendly terms and does not want to jeopardise this relationship with what could well be the dagger that killed its entire family.

KandarianDagger.pngBy the end of the week, and with your help, I had determined a few things about the dagger. It was dedicated to Norgorber, and would aid one of the followers of that foul deity by being extra-sharp. Alas, most of the information I found was hearsay only – that it could be used in unclean rituals, and that it cannot easily be destroyed. So I paid for our Blacksmith, Tibbett, to make a lead casing for it, and cached it deep in my pack. Even this worthy was not willing to touch the dagger, but placed the casing on a bench so that I could place the dagger inside, then closed the top of it. Hopefully this will block any attempts to sense the dagger, either by the evil it radiates or any other tainted emanation.

Just as we had succeeded in confining the dagger, I received word of a commotion back up at the mine – while the miners were looking for new veins, they had found some old tunnels, not made by Dwarves. This was excellent news as it could lead to new discoveries, but there was an issue. A horde of Kobolds were blocking the caves and causing issues. Those in charge of the mine, like so many of our people, would not ask for help. But if we were in the area, and offered to help… Faye commented that her falchion is sharp and looking for action, and that Dwarves are good at weapon-smithing.

The mine itself is an hour’s walk from the town, to the southeast some five miles at the edge of the mountains. It is a shining example of co-operation between our people and the short-lived race of humans. I remember well when you blessed the work, many years ago, as they dug the first entrance. Much of the town’s prosperity comes from the profits of the mine that are directed to works of charity and the community. It is, however, as most mines are, noisy, dirt and smoky.

And as we gathered our equipment and headed to the entrance of the Mine, I picked up some interesting news from my Dwarvish friends. There was a possibility – just a possibility – that they might have discovered another of our lost ones. Just the chance of this made my heart leap with joy. Pharasma leads us into this world, then she leads us out of it, and it is always a blessing to have a new soul brought back to the light.

Elder_Calcite.jpgElder Calcite, the Chief of the mine, was happy to show us around. Or perhaps “happy” was not the correct word to use – he is rather dour, even for a dwarf. He explained to us that the top level of the mine is already played out, and he took us to the lifts down to various levels. There are two lifts, a large lift for freight and a smaller one for people. As could be expected the workers have priority, and we needed to wait a while as a shift changed in front of us. I should have asked him what the mechanics of the lifts are – I have not yet deciphered how they work. Perhaps a cadre of trained donkeys on a treadmill? The majority of the mine area shows the true expertise of Dwarven engineering, with smooth floors, a well-braced roof, and excellent quality props that spoke of a firm belief in safety.

As we walked down, though, some of us noticed that Elder Calcite did not want us to look in a particular direction, and he deflected any questions from the group about these. I had a feeling he would have been happy to discuss them with me, but did not want the others poking their noses in. The side tunnels were dark, unlit and definitely not up to the quality of the dwarvish tunnels. They had not been finished nicely, their floors were rough, and rubble was strewn around. There was also a slightly oddish scent coming out – not goblin, but something else not natural. Vall seemed somewhat interested in the side tunnels, and I worried that he might accidentally antagonise the Elder.

I thought it was time, and offered the services of the party with any problems the mine might be having, but the Elder stated quite categorically that there are no problems. I could tell I had angered him, and am grateful to Faye who interrupted to ask about the need for excellent weapon-smithing. The Elder seemed very happy with abrupt change in subject, and took us to a smelting area, where he introduced Brother Haematite. Here, Faye described what she needs in a better weapon, and paid a deposit on the final result, which would take about a week. Then Elder Calcite started moving us back to the entrance, albeit past the unsavoury tunnels, and I noticed he was very deliberately not looking towards them. In fact, he was purposefully staying well ahead, and letting us straggle behind. And I suddenly realised I was the only one of the group still following – the rest had already doubled back into the odd tunnels.

Elder Calcite, I have a stone in my shoe. You go on ahead and I’ll meet you at the office.” I hurried back to meet up with the others.

We started up the darker tunnel. It was only after some of the others tripped over that I remembered that not all are blessed by Pharasma with Darkvision, and I lit my lantern and passed it to Nura. We soon came upon a crossroads, and heard some noise coming from the right. Moving as silently as we could, we progressed along until the sounds became clearer – possibly fighting, possibly arguments. The tunnel curved away to the left, and there was light coming from up ahead, and voices, some of which spoke Dwarvish, and some a garbled glottal speech that the others told me later was Draconic.

Vall sneaked around the corner to see, and found himself behind a group of kobolds. Past them, at a meeting of the tunnels, a group of dwarves stood behind a barricade. Vall came back and tried to give phonetic rendition of what he heard the kobolds say.

Tunnel_Battle.pngWhich failed terribly, so Faye cast “Message” on Vall, who crept back and started relaying the words back. From the sounds, it comprised phrases like “Trespassers!” and “Die, fuckers, die!” I can only assume my brethren were pushed beyond their limits to be so aggressive in their language,

We dropped back where the sound of our voices would not spread, and discussed the possibilities. Should we go around and talk to the dwarves? Walk into the kobolds and ask them to stop? Cast lights on Nura and have her walk in and say “CEASE THIS USELESS CONFLICT?”

Faye: I felt it in my bones – from the day I was BORN!

Nura: That’s gout.

We decided to try and stop the fighting by having Nura and Faye go in and order them to stop. Or ask them nicely.

Nura would speak Dwarvish, Faye Draconic. I shall indicate who is talking by Dw for the Dwarves, NDw for Nura speaking Dwarvish, Ko for Kobold (Draconic) etc.

“What is all this about then?”

Dw: “They’re trying to kill us?”

Ko: “This is our space. They’re trying to kick us out.”

NKo: “Lived here long time?”

Ko: "Generations and generations. Way to surface, but this our space.

NDw: “Any of you speak Draconic?”

Dw: “We’re dwarves! NO! We speak the language of the gods.” They had a point.

NDw "So the problem is the kobolds say you attacked them, you think they attacked you.

Dw: “We were doing work, they attacked us.”

Ko "We were travelling from one to the other, they attacked us.

After long discussion, we determined that the Dwarves think Kobolds are animals, not sentient creatures. I could understand this a little, but found it confusing that the obvious evidence in front of them showed that these Kobolds had a great deal of intelligence and purpose.

Eventually Nura got the Dwarves to understand that talking to the Kobolds would be in their interests, especially as there are hordes of Kobolds, and that the Kobolds might be willing to allow mining in exchange for shinies.

The Kobolds themselves were mostly basic fighters in leather armour, but there were two in robes, and two in shinier armour. Nura tried negotiating with them.

“Both sides are fierce – isn’t this big enough to share?”

Ko: “Dwarves are being obstinate. Our space.”

NDw: “Did you know the kobolds were here?”

Dw: “They’re animals.”

NDw: “But they’re using tools.”

Dw: “Animals can use tools.”

NKo: “Do you understand the ways of magic?”

Ko: “The gods show us!”

NKo: “Can you show something non-threatening?”

In answer to this request, one of the robed Kobolds cast a light spell.

Alas, this did not change the outcome.

NDw: “Do you see that? Is that something animals would do?”

Dw: “We have IMPORTANT DWARF BUSINESS to do”.

And then I realised why they were being so cagey. Up the tunnel they had discovered one of the Lost, and were trying to extract the poor soul without damage. I thought of my dear brother Graben – Mother, do you remember they never could tell if his state was because of a problem during extraction, or he had been like that when he was Lost. I went to talk to my Dwarven brethren, who told me they needed a week to Extract our Lost One. I then asked Nura to enquire whether the Kobolds could wait a week.

Ko “Our places – we need to travel through.”

So I renegotiated with the Dwarvish miners – could the Kobolds traverse the tunnels, but the Dwarves put a screen up to stop anything untoward getting seen? This, they were prepared to allow, but with the most holy of vows from the Kobolds not to look.

Meanwhile, Nura and the Kobolds were discussing magic, as the Kobolds considered their clreic and wizard to be gifts from the gods. She looked forward to being able to exchange spells with them, as the acquisition of arcane spells requires much research, but if you can obtain one from a fellow spellcaster, the effort is much less. We also offered to teacher them Dwarvish, so that they could negotiate with the Dwarves without the need for interpreters. They could see the value in this.

The Kobolds, emboldened by these advances, explained that this trip of theirs is needed twice per day. Faye asked to be allowed to know what the religious thing is, and they agreed to explain it to us. It seems that they worship Zon Kuthon, an evil god with a preference for darkness and loss.

Yay – Reptilian Goths.

We assisted the dwarves with setting up a temporary wall, then travelled with Kobolds, who restrained themselves from trying to peer around the canvas edges. They took us down, around corners, deep into the tunnels, and I noticed that the usually cool and dry atmosphere had become warm and moist. A little further on, and we saw it. They have an egg nursery, next to a vent of some sort that exuded hot muggy steam. The eggs, which they needed to rotate twice per day, were surprisingly large. Almost half the size of the Kobolds. Then I realised – they were baby Kobold Eggs, and we had been allowed the great privilege of seeing their equivalent of the great work upstairs.

Egg_fire.jpgI conveyed to the cleric that just as this is a holy place, and they would not allow all the dwarves to see this, so what is happening upstairs is as holy and must be left undisturbed. I believe they caught my meaning, as their eyes widened and they swore that they would never violate the sanctity of the workings. Pharasma truly gives her blessing to all!

The next week was one of communication and learning, teaching and blessings. Nura traded spells with a Kobold, Faye chatted with the kobolds and learnt their songs. I held conversation sessions, where I taught them Dwarvish and they undoubtedly taught me how to swear and call myself an idiot in Draconic. I also cast a daily blessing of Pharasma on the work upstairs – I was almost beside myself with the joy of a new soul in the community!

Nura, in her discussions, discovered that the Kobolds’ power used to be more powerful, and has now lessened over the generations. They were their strongest just before the Tearing, just as we Dwarves were.

Vall spent his time snooping around trying to learn as much as he could about the way of the Lost, and was always asking questions about the holy work upstairs. Nura was casting “detect Magic” on the barrier, and worked out that what was going on behind the barrier was of a ritual manner. We all noticed that the Kobolds cleric was always with the eggs, and the caster came there morning and night. Nura also noticed that the kobolds are wearing more magic than we’ve seen before in one place.

And then … oh the shame. On the last night – Vall and I got drunk and talked.

“When a mummy dwarf and a daddy dwarf love each other very much…”

“Yes! Yes! They get married, and then, if Pharasma blesses them, they may become parents.”

“But how does that happen?”

“Getting married?”
Miners01rev4.jpg
“No, becoming parents.”

“Um – it’s difficult to explain…"

“Let me suggest something. So first of all the mine train goes in to the tunnel…”

“That’s it! And then the train comes out of the tunnel with the new one!”

.

The next day I felt as if the world would end. I have been told this is a state called hungover. I do not think I ever want to hang whatever over ever again.

On the last morning, the Kobolds came through. We had become friends, and several had learned both Dwarvish and the Common tongue. I am afraid my brethren were not as open-minded. It will take a long time before they lose their suspicion of all around them. Even so, I should not despair – three or four learned the basics of Draconic. There is still hope.

The Kobolds came in, checked their eggs, then went back.

And my fellow Dwarves prepared to transport the Lost One out of the tunnel. I made sure the rest of my party went out before the Lost One was taken from its resting place to the temple, although I gathered later that Vall had hidden behind, using his skills at concealment. And my mind was otherwise occupied with the great task – I was allowed to help with the last loosening from the matrix, and to lead the way to the Mine’s Temple of Pharasma. All went well, and one more soul has rejoined us in our journey in the light! Mother Augite, this is the third time I have been a part of the Rejoining of the Lost, and the first time I have been allowed to lead the cart. If I gain nothing else from these adventures, this will remain always as a bright and shining memory.

Faye went to pick up her beautiful Falchion, which is now personalised to her specifics. There will be no stopping her now!

And, thanks to the excellent negotiations, the lower corridor now marked as “Not Ours” by Dwarves.

We walked from the mine into the sunshine, and as we did, we felt again the increase in our powers, the bringing of new knowledge, and the blessings of Pharasma.

Your loving acolyte

Chrysta Bal-Trydimite, of Clan Felsic

1200 XP

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To Ko-Boldly Go

We returned to Callech and spent a week at leisure there. I spent much of that time in my study, writing out scrolls; the ingredients are not cheap, but they may be useful as a contingency measure. I also enacted another precaution, which I will not discuss here.

Vall has taken up a hobby, bow-crafting; his ambitions for a bow are loftier than Callech can provide, but it turns out that making a bow is quite a slow task. We may do better to buy one.

Chrysta researched the dagger we had found with the goblins, and confirmed it as being dedicated to Norgorber. From what little I know of Norgorber, this is not a good thing. It was not clear how this could be safely destroyed, so as a temporary safeguard we hired a smith to seal it in a lead casing; at least that should impede any accidental stabbings, and from my reading I understand that may also make it harder for others to find it.

Meanwhile, Faye amused herself doing whatever it is that Faye does singing for the entertainment and more importantly, the attention of the townsfolk. I must say, her singing has improved with practice, and although I haven’t admitted it to her, I find it quite enjoyable these days.

At the close of the week, Chrysta came to us with news from the mines. Apparently they had opened up some new tunnels and were having trouble with kobolds – like goblins, a race I had only ever heard of in books up to now.

We agreed to go investigate. The mine was bustling, and a long-bearded elder agreed to give us a tour. Their mines are well constructed – were it not for the lack of sun, one could live there comfortably enough, for the stone has been painstakingly smoothed.

However, as we proceeded, we noticed some side passages that were less in keeping with the general standard: dark, and not as well finished, with an unpleasant and unfamiliar smell. We asked the elder if we could investigate, and he rebuffed us.

But on the return journey, after Faye had commissioned a big sword from one of the weaponsmiths, he made a point of walking ahead of us, as if he wanted us to sneak off behind him and explore the side corridors. (Or at least, it was convenient for us to take that interpretation.)

We did so, proceeding down a very dark passage (fortunately for me, Chrysta had brought a lamp, but next time I shall be sure to have my own). Eventually we came to a junction, and heard sounds of fighting from the right-hand fork, with shouting in Dwarvish and also in what Faye and I identified as Draconic. Vall snuck ahead to investigate – apparently the kobolds were yelling something about “trespassers”.

Faye and I stepped in and attempted to make peace. I will say, my interest in Draconic came primarily from its significance in the old histories; I was not expecting to find a pragmatic use for it so soon!

After much discussion and translation and arguing, we established that the kobolds needed passage for an important ritual, but the dwarves needed privacy for a ritual of their own.

(It wasn’t exactly clear what, but apparently something to do with their birthing customs? We had a very odd conversation with Chrysta afterwards, and although part of that may have been due to the amount she’d imbibed, I came away with the strong impression that dwarvish reproduction is very different to the normal human kind. Perhaps they just dig their newborns out of the rock? In any case, they wanted privacy.)

We negotiated an agreement, whereby the dwarves would put up a screen and the kobolds would be allowed passage. The kobolds invited us to accompany them, and with some nervousness but a great deal of curiosity we did so.

They lay eggs! It makes sense, of course, but still astounding. They kept the eggs, perhaps two dozen, in a warm chamber, and came down twice a day to turn them.

We were very interested to discover that two of them have magical gifts: one a priest, the other an arcane mage a little like myself, who agreed to teach me some of its magic in return for my teaching it Dwarvish.

I was particularly interested to hear that they have had their magical powers for generations without pause; although they weakened when the land broke, they did not lapse as our did! I wonder what this means? I also noticed that several of them carried items that had the glow of magic on them: a sword, a dagger, a breastplate, and shoes. From conversation with the kobolds, it seems these may be heirlooms.

CHRYSTA: “You think we’re rockfuckers, don’t you?”

I was rather alarmed to learn that the object of their worship is Zon-Kuthon. Zon-Kuthon is, from all accounts, not a particularly pleasant god. But gods have many aspects; perhaps a creature might worship Z-K in his portfolios of darkness and loss, without subscribing to all the others? Certainly they were polite enough to us.

At the end of our time with the kobolds, we felt power flood through us once more… and my repertoire of magic has expanded!

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Chrysta's Fourth Letter to Mother Augite
Wiping the Floor with More Goblins

Dear Mother Augite,

It seems that Pharasma has allowed us to live through the conflict, for which I have offered many prayers of thanks. I have no doubt that my fellow followers of our great Lady have also been praying for my survival, led by yourself: you all have my total gratitude.

So we were ready to go…

This will be very much the battle tale, as that’s what we faced from the moment we started.

Fight_cavern.png

We could hear the mob on the other side of the door, and Myrie could see that we were facing quite a lot of them. And especially the one that charged at her. Luckily Vall was well-placed to hit the blighter on the back as he passed, and swiped well enough to pink him. This, alas, wasn’t enough to take the bugger down, and Myrie copped a hit, which scratched her nastily.

Vall then hit again from behind, using those special abilities that a thief enjoys. The hobgoblin was looking rather ill after that!

Myrie fell back a little and shot at the hobgoblin, with a yell of “Kill the bastard” – and then a “Dammit!” as the blighter stayed on his feet. Another goblin ran in and went for Faye, with its hands waving ineffectually in front of her, while a third went for Vall and performed the same hand-waving – perhaps it’s their version of a fear spell and we are able to resist the ill effects? If so, I claim the protection of Pharasma and her fear-dispelling blessing.

More and more started barging towards us, including their foul beast; but the doorway, whilst being wide enough for a couple, could not all fit through at once.

ThenFaye slashed at the previously-hit Hobgoblin, and succeeded so well that the blade went right through him and into another creature, killing it as well. The floor started running red with goblin blood as she then stepped out of the way, and another goblin tried their terribly useless spell.

Nura sent forth her colour-spray, which blasted over a pile of the combatants, and sent them into paroxyms of confusion and chaos. It was as if the light of the rainbow smote them gloriously, showing them a wonder their minds could not comprehend. I attempted to hit one with my sling, but failed, so drew my dagger and headed into the melee. Considering most of the creatures were prone and bleeding, I was set for a hit. And I shall truly claim that my main purpose was to return them to the warm arms of Pharasma, whence we all came.

Vall set about reducing one of the goblins into his constituent muscle groups, or as Faye called it, “No Longer In Attendons”. Myrie whacked at one nearby, drawing more blood. One near the back tried to return the favour, but missed her, and many of the others were writhing on the floor, waving their hands in front of their eyes in confusion. Another tried for Nura, who got a certain look of “I will remember this” on her face as it hit her. I would not like to be that goblin. Another of the Hobgoblins continued with the Hand-Flailing of Doom in front of Vall, who laughed in his face.

Faye wiggled her biceps, and started slicing at one of the downed goblins, and it seems that the flailing that the others were using was their version of an attack – one tried to hit her and their puny sword merely bounced off her armour. While he was distracted, though, Nura sent her colour spray through again and dazed most of the rest of them, which gave me the chance to step through the bodies and send one of the unconscious ones to Pharasma.

“All the goblin bodies!
All the goblin bodies.
All the goblin bodies.
All the goblin bodies.
Put your … oh. "

The ground was littered with the dead and unconscious, with only four of the smaller sized ones still upstanding on the other side of the doorway. Myrie also helped with disposing of the recumbent creatures, using her bow to great effect.

Vall whacked at the goblin trying to hide behind a wall, hitting him hard. Despite the rainbow effect earlier, we determined that the goblin was using complete cover… Faye stepped into the breech once more, swinging her falchion with verve and skill, slicing one seriously and just missing another. This of course enraged the surviving goblins, who actually landed a hit on Faye and managed to draw blood. Do they not understand the danger of enraging her?

Nura used another of her spells to daze one of the standing goblins, and the remaining alert goblin saw the error of its ways and ran as fast as its ugly little legs could take it. Faye herself was starting to look a little peaked. Thus I chose to hit the hobgoblin who was already looking damaged, and took him down. With a cry of “DIE, GOBLIN!”, Myrie fired at the one running away, and hit him enough to send him staggering. There were moans of confusion from the prone goblins, soon replaced by the squelch of their heads leaving their bodies as Faye practised her reaping and mowing skills on them. This gave Vall the chance he’d held off for, and he stepped into the breech and squished one as well.

Nura then brandished her staff, which elicited a laugh from some of the others.

“Hey, I’ve used my staff to hit things before!”

“Yeah – Faye’s ankles!”

And Nura hit one, with a lovely squelch. I moved up to get to those who would need their way to Pharasma eased, as Myrie, grasping her bow, scarpered up the stairs to take the escaping goblin out as it emerged from the hole. Faye, in her anger, crunched a goblin to jelly and danced on its body, then slowed suddenly and lowered her glaive with exhaustion. With a look of sheer frustration, Vall almost cried as he had to let the escaping goblin get away, but at least he was able to channel this frustration into his rapier thrust. “Schlurp” Good thing I’m not cleaning that floor. With that, Nura stepped to the side to check the room for any hidden threats, and I used my Warhammer to ensure the remaining downed goblin could no longer shoot straight

And upstairs, Myrie spotted the goblin in the water and sent an arrow straight into him.

They were down.

All of them.

Unmoving, unliving.

Dead.

The blessing of Pharasma is on us.

And we felt it.

Our share of the spoils included shields, longswords, shortbows, shortswords and a great deal of gems and gold, enough that we could each have 1000 gp worth. And one dagger is magic, but It seems slimy and not right. The quality is much better work than goblin. Nura checked it over first, declared it to be a good quality, but that she needed to concentrate on it more to properly identify it.

Two minutes later she had it – it was of such evil that I can barely stand to be near it. No wonder it seemed slimy – it belongs either to the cults of Norgorber or worse still, Urgathoa. Either way, it is an abomination and must be destroyed.

Myrie and Vall had some guarded conversations that made them uncomfortable, that mentioned the Forest once or twice, but I have no idea what it was about. We continued down the track to Tremayne, but alas, there was nothing there of value to me that I could purchase with my newfound wealth.

We returned to Callech, exhausted but well-laden with our pile of plunder. Alas, Myrie was then summoned to the Adventurer’s Hall, and we understand she departed immediately for the lands to the south and other duties. I, for one, shall miss her.

Faye: “We mustn’t scare the people more than they already are, by what we’re bringing into it.”

Chrysta: “But in reality, we’re not. The Orb siginfies that something has come into the world. It is affecting the world, and it is affecting us, but we are not affecting the world.”

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"A Goblin's Head Is Easily Shed"

A GOBLIN’S HEAD IS EASILY SHED
Music and Lyrics by Faye Tannerson. Any parties who feel that the following lyrics do not accurately represent past events should bear in mind Faye’s recently acquired Bard power; “Summon Artistic License”

A goblin bares his ugly steel
To meet his match is no ordeal
For when the bout is head to head
A goblin’s head is easily shed

A troupe of bawdy heroes, from southern Callech came,
They seek to see the world in time, and give themselves a name
By night they thought to rest inside an old abandoned keep
Yet unaware of fearsome folk, a-lurking in the deep

By moonlight did the beasts arrive, they came without a sound
Until the watch was woken by the odour of their hounds
So did our troupe, with goblin kind at last come face to face
But goblin hearts, and soon their heads, had clearly been misplaced

When goblin bares his ugly steel
To meet his match is no ordeal
For when the bout is head to head
A goblin’s head is easily shed

The triumph of our heroes, was heard in goblin’s den
The toughest of their kind awoke to squeals of rage and then
They swore our troupe would meet our end to goblin steel tonight
And sent their horde upon our kind, in all their ugly might

The troupe believed their end was nigh, the goblin horde was vast
Yet magic from our heroes’ hands had thinned their numbers fast
Our fearless troupe cut through the mass, through every foe dispatched
And not a goblin lived that day, no more their heads attached!

When goblin bares his ugly steel
To meet his match is no ordeal
For when the bout is head-to-head
A goblin’s head is easily shed!

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Goblins and More Goblins
Giving Them A Spray

So there we were: the five of us in one room of the goblin lair, and a horde of assorted goblins in the next. Well, perhaps not a full-sized horde, I’m uncertain of the exact criteria, but certainly an uncomfortably large number. We had already slain several, but more than a dozen remained.

Vall hid behind the wall that separated the two; as one charged in to strike at Myrie, he skewered it with its rapier. Myrie shot into the hordes, and Faye laid about her with her sword, then stepped aside nicely in time for me to catch the massed goblins with a burst of colour that knocked three of them and a rat-dog unconscious, never to wake again. Had we been in open terrain I daresay their numbers would have become more of a threat, but as it was, we used the choke point to good effect. The bodies of dead and unconscious goblins piled up in the doorway, hindering those behind; a few shot at us, but to little effect, and Myrie’s return fire was far more effective.

At my request Faye distracted one of them, a big ugly fellow, long enough for me to step in and catch him and his friends with another burst. Chrysta moved in to bolster us, ready to heal if anybody was seriously hurt (fortunately, no such need) and making sure the ones I’d downed stayed down. Soon there were only a few stragglers left. Faye and Vall stepped in, and even I poked one with my stick before Faye sliced him in two. One attempted to flee out the back but Myrie caught him in the leg, hobbling him, and then finished the job as he swam away.

When the dust settled, all the goblins lay dead. Our own injuries were slight, and mine nonexistent; one of their arrows whizzed past my head, but my deflective magic turned it aside.

All of us felt a rush of power; when I set myself to my books later that night, I discovered that two enchantments that had previously resisted my understanding now seemed straightforward and obvious, and even my study of Abyssal – not the easiest of languages – became a single matter. The others likewise appear more capable.

I feel I acquitted myself well that day; although I barely laid a hand on the goblins myself, I left them easy targets for my allies. And I must say, my allies also worked to my benefit, clearing a path for me and protecting me while I was occupied in casting.

The goblins had quite a haul with them, coins and gems as well as their crude weapons. I wonder if they have scavenged this from the ruins, or some other place? Most curious of all, a sinister dagger that carried an aura of magic and of evil with it. Chrysta and I believe it to have some association with one of the evil gods, but we are uncertain as to which. I feel more investigation is required; perhaps somebody at the Adventurers’ Guild will recognise it?

My own share of the haul is quite generous – but truth be told, there is little enough to spend it on here. No matter; somehow I feel we will be seeing rather more of the world before the next year is done.

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