A Troubled Economy

Doors, Spirits and Basilisks

We have decided to continue our exploration of the cave system. Mostly to keep ourselves occupied with the dreary life of sitting in one place, waiting for the cold weather to pass.

At one point, we get so restless to decide to brave these where wolves and see the weather up top. As we move along, cautiously, we discover a secret door that has been propped open with a large stone.

Donjo steps into the doorway and helps push the stone out. Once the stone moves, the door slams shut. I tried to stop it, but to no avail. We push and pry, with no effect. Then, Sahil was able to peer into the stone, to see that the mechanism working the door was broken. Tuck used his magic’s to repair the inner workings, and with the crowbar and aid from Rakor, we were able to open the door, getting to Danjo. The cold air hit us like a force. I have experienced cold before, but nothing so numbing.

We moved forward, avoiding a open pit trap, into the outside air. I beheld this snow my companions have been talking about for the first time. It is simply amazing! I am sitting there, absorbing the wonder of it all when suddenly I am hit with a soft rock. I turn around only to see Danjo pressing another pile of the snow together to throw at me. I block the attempt and reach down to see if I can do the same. I can!

We then have fun throwing snow at each other for a short time. Expending a lot of energy, and just having fun. Such a welcome moment after all this time down below. The cold starts to seep into our bones, and so we head back. As much as we would love to stay out here, the cold is too much. We close the secret door, but it is no longer operating like it once did. We can open and close it, but there is nothing to prevent anyone else from doing the same.

After a brief rest, we travel to the water logged door. There, Sahil works his magics to open the door. There is a darkness beyond. We cautiously explore the area only to discover it’s another room, with 2 sarcophagi. These are sealed with wax. I break the seal, expecting something to happen. Nothing does. Danjo and I begin to move the lid, when we start hearing screams. We stop and look around, expecting to see something. Nothing happens. We decide to shift the lid so we can peer below, but without opening the sarcophagus completely. The screaming gets louder, and light doesn’t penetrate into the sarcophagus.

Feeling unnerved, we quickly settle the lid back down and leave. We return to our camp, to rest and eat. Once we are ready, we head out to the room with the magical door. We prepare for the worse, as Sahil removes the stone from the hinge side of the door. The moment he does, a loud, sound comes crashing out. It startles us all and we go running back to the safety Tuck had set up for us. As we sit there, trying to regain our breath and listen, we could barely hear the sounds. They were not increasing.

Not feeling like exploring that further, we decide to explore the room with the statue. It was the last of our options in an effort to explore the various passages.

We head down, and Tuck stays behind, not wanting to mess with anything that could be down here. I feel his fears are unwarranted, but say nothing. I take a lead position with Danjo, as we move through the caverns. We start to explore one of the passages when we find an odd pit. Something about it is odd, but not worth exploring. At least not at this time.

As we start to turn around, a sound of roaring reaches us. Danjo and I quickly move to the back, to protect and defend our group. The sounds get louder. Suddenly we see a big lizard-like creature. It’s breath is foul, and as it’s gaze sweeps over us, I feel myself growing stiff. I managed to shrug it off just as Danjo strikes it with his sword. Shattering it’s jaw, he then hits it on the head with the flat of his blade. I step up and using the magics I have been taught, inflicted a fatal wound. We stop to take assessment when we realize that Makoto has been turned to stone. Realizing what happened, I recalled that if you take the blood of a basilisk, and coat every inch of the person turned to stone, you could restore them back to life. There is a very short timeframe from which to do this however. Just as we start to discuss how to proceed, there is a louder, more forceful roar. Danjo and I turn only to see a very big, very large lizard come rushing at us. It appears we had only killed one of it’s young.

It’s breath was retched. I found myself fighting it and the urge to throw up. It’s bite left a searing pin in me. I will need to get the wound treated, for I feel there is something poisonous or foul in my wound.
Together, Danjo and I leap to attack the beast. His blows, incredibly powerful, my blows are weak as I did not have a moment to prepare an attack. Sahil drops some a Stinking Cloud around the beast, and it appears to have no affect.
The fight continues, and I can see little, my attention taken wholey by this horrible beast. I fear we may die here and Tuck will be left all on his own. Just as I had resigned myself to dying trying to save everyone, the beast falls. I turn around, only to see that Rakor and Sahil have also been turned to stone. Thinking quickly, I open it’s stomach, and begin filling my waterskin and Danjo’s teapot with blood. Coating Sahil first. His life is important, for with him, we may be able to save the others.
I holler at Shino to go fetch Tuck, for surely he has something that could help. Time was against us now, and we had to hurry.
Soon, with the arrival of Tuck, sacrificing his backpack and waterskin, we are able to coat each person with the blood of the basilisk and save each person. As we stood there, covered in blood. Tuck starts cussing, throws his things on the ground and starts walking back. We assume to base camp.

I take the time to walk slowly, casting a spell to clean our things. I also stopped to gather up Tucks things.
We arrive back at base camp to see Tuck already cleaned up, but obviously unhappy. We each simply disrobe and crawl into the waters, to clean ourselves. I spend the time using magic to clean everything and myself. I restore everyone and everything to as clean as I am able to make it, before I crawl in to bathe myself.
Soon, we are gathered, eating the food Sahil has provided for us all. No talking was done while we ate.

The meal over, I inform Tuck that I brought back all his things, and cleaned everything as well. I then mentioned to the group that I may be paying closer attention to Tucks warnings in the future, as I feel his caution was justified. We had almost lost 3 people, possibly more if not for the quick thinking and heroic actions of Danjo.

Left to explore: The room with the magic door and loud noises. The rest of the basilisk cave.

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"The Weave provides not for me, but for those who cannot provide for themselves."

Why am I here? Is it truly to spread the word of civilization, or is there a greater purpose? It seems odd to me that Liberty’s Maiden would lead me to such an uninhabited cave just to have to watch these people go through such harrowing trials. I’ve traveled the world, bartering in knowledge all for her blessing… maybe I should not have joined these people.

I had a conversation with the visage that healed Danjo. We spoke on various things, but selflessness was a topic that seemed to circle around. Maybe my journey has had a hidden agenda. All my travels, gathering knowledge with hopes to return to a home that would never take me, maybe I was lead here. I’ve begun to read Danjo’s book on The Triad, trying to make sense of why the visage chose me to talk to. I am not a holy man, just a man who has seen and experienced a lot. I find myself identifying with Ilmater, as I too have had a life of suffering. I mean no disrespect toward the Lady Waukeen, but I feel a new spiritual path ahead of me. Coin lead a few of us into these tombs, and honestly, too much blood has been spilled in the name of the damn things. I paid a final tribute to Waukeen, saying a prayer as I cast aside my final coins.

All this makes me realize just how much I’ve taken The Weave for granted. I’ve used it for food, when I’ve had plenty, warm when I’ve had other sources… maybe this is why we’ve been so severely punished. I will no longer use The Weave in vain, only to protect and aid those around me.

“The Weave provides not for me, but for those who cannot provide for themselves.”

By these words, I will now live. Magic should not be used to make life simpler, but to help those who without it, suffer. As for coin, it too seems to be centered around greed. Take the Shining South, for example. I’ve been told it is in economic turmoil! I came here to see the greatness of trade and civilization, and bring back what I could to my people, yet it’s been reduced to shanty towns and chaos. Those who suffer now, surely the coin won’t fix their ailments. Bring me to the center of all this pain, I would help the weary until my palms bled. I’ve seen too much pain to let it all go by.

This may seem selfish, the desire to end the suffering, but to me, it is the opposite. Bring me the hungry, they may have all the food I can offer. Bring me the cold and I will shed my very clothes. Bring me the weak, let me carry them on my back.

Ilmater, I am at your will.

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Exploration, Discovery, Reflection

Our discussions have led to us agreeing to explore the various passages of our new winter home. Perhaps we can shed some light on the differences we are finding down here. From natural cave formations, to worked areas. This entire place is a mystery.

We have stumbled upon some undead, which Mr. Sahil was able to quickly dispatch. Some other shadowy things, that we were able to dispatch with ease as well, thanks for Sahil’s magics.

We have found doors, but each proves a puzzle. Do we want to risk opening a water logged door, expecting a flood of water? Perhaps get past a door made with anti-magical, anti-melting properties? Each passage is it’s own riddle, that we are slowly unraveling.

One such passage, that led us past a large area of bat droppings, opened into a odd room with stone piles in passages.

During his exploration, Tuck discovered a very angry Ogre. We all rushed to help, and Shino proved very capable in dispatching the Ogre. Once again, I was of no use. I feel my presence is more for social company then to actually help in a fight. I should not worry. Opportunities like these keep happening. I am certain I will be able to aid in some manner as we explore more.

The Ogre had quite the collection from his past exploits. A Longbow made of Lluirwood, crafted by a famed maker. I do not recognize the name, but the expression from my companions indicates it is a very rare find indeed. I was offered the opportunity to use the bow, but I happily passed it to the warrior Donjo to use. I feel he would get more use from it. As thanks, he is allowing me to use his longbow.

We gathered up much of what we could find, I brought forth a magical disc to help carry everything, and we returned to our base camp. The room with Iron Doors.

I hope we are as fortunate as this last time in our future endeavors.

This is what we found in the Ogre’s lair:
+Leather armor sized for a halfling
+chainmail sized for a dwarf
+chainmail sized for a human (3 suits)
+studded leather, designed by elfs
+broken shields (3)
+tower shields (2)
+sacks of coins
+1-2,063 valins
+2-45 valins, 350 krints
+3-1,067 gold
+4-8 gems, 3 necklaces, silver bracelet, small jade statuette
+5-2 brass candleholders, fine mirror, valin chalice, 17 pair of earrings, 5 gold rings, Valin Holy Symbol (of illmater)

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Back in Assur
Making friends,and making money

Before Tuck became a brave adventurer, risking life and limb for the church, and the good of his fellow man, he enjoyed a fine lunch in the cool breeze with Rakor one day…

It was a customarily warm day, in Assur. “Thank you for joining me, Rakor!” The waiter, who was a friend of Tuck’s, had just left behind some cool fruit juice. Condensation sweated on the outside of the gold-plated goblets. The Gilded Unicorn provided a light and airy atmosphere, but with privacy from the gauzy veils draped everywhere and the musical chimes that were liberally placed around the establishment. Eaves-dropping was devilishly hard among the musical notes, (Tuck knew this from experience!)

Rakor was stiffly formal, as he had only been in Assur for just over a day. “I’m so glad for an opportunity to know someone who serves Waukeen,” Tuck continued. “I hope the rigors of sea travel were kind to you.” Soon they were nibbling on some pastry puffs and picking apart the Chultan dragonfruits which were a favorite of Tuck’s. “I’ve always thought that law was the essence of civilization,” Tuck said, “the foundation, if you will. Do you think law is more important than security? I’ve seen places where there are both, yet it was a cruel city regardless. I think you are right about trade however. If there is profit to be made in trade with a neighbor, that certainly makes killing him less attractive. However, to avoid enslavement, a people must have the strength to defend themselves. Slavery is much more attractive to the masters, than to the slaves!”

Tuck listened intently to all the half-orc emissary of Waukeen had to say. His words were wise, insightful. This was a man who had traveled far and wide, with a keen eye for details! Rakor talked about his travels, and he praised the lofty concepts of civilization. Once he was comfortable, Rakor relaxed somewhat, and seemed to enjoy the fine food and drinks.

Later Tuck strolled through the streets of Assur, speaking kindly to the many folk he knew. He gave pennies to the children, and passed silver to a young priest. Tuck knew most of the silver would go to the church, and some would go to the painted ladies near the docks, where Tuck first saved the young priest from a well-earned beating. Now Tuck enjoyed a more cordial relationship with that particular chapel to Selune…

Tuck stopped into the Salty Dog for a few ha’ pints of mead. He soon had men chuckling at his stories of various priests and nobles he happened to encounter in the halls of the Maiden’s Titties. He yawned widely, kindly accepted one more drink, then with a flourish, he toddered off to his quarters. Two bells later, no one saw the grubby gnome who crept from the roof of Tuck’s apartments. The little fella had a bad limp and very noticeable ear-hair.

The gnome caught a ride from an unaware cart-driver, riding at the far back, until a wide, sweeping turn gave him the chance to leap off and roll into the shadowy alley. Once there the gnome stalked quietly, stopping often to listen to conversations sometimes whispered, sometimes screamed. Here were lovers gasping and moaning, then a quarrel between neighbors, a wife’s scolding of here lazy man, growled threats and softly whispered prayers. The gnome came across a sleeping man, and found some silvers in the hem of the drunk’s cloak and gold in the heel of a boot. Two men robbed a third. The short, brutal melee ended when their victim fell bloody, and then the gnome uttered an arcane chant, and the attackers toppled as well, fast asleep. The gnome robbed all three, clubbing the robbers soundly first. He was now laden with goods and coin which he stashed on a rooftop, under an eaves he discovered a year ago. A great hiding place! The gnome found an open window and half a bell later a female dwarf emerged. She summoned the watch who arrested the two murderers and carried off the poor sod they had treated so roughly.

When Tuck finally took his rest that night, he counted his accomplishments. A possible friend in the church of Waukeen, a reputation as a philanthropist over on Textile Way, the goodwill of the church of Selune, a small take from the bartender at the Salty Dog, because laughing men buy more drinks, more coins than an honest man would have made that day, and two rival cutpurses would probably see the gallows by week’s end. As he drifted to sleep he thought about inviting Rakor to the theater. He seemed like a cultured sort, and Tuck wanted to be seen in fine company over near the money-lenders quarter… He would hire a runner before highsun, then visit a tailor who likes his drink…

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Treasure from an Ogre
teamwork, and a "new" Rakor??

We were in a large unfinished stone room. Two thirds of it were sunken down about ten feet with a very steep rock shelf separating the sections. In the lower section there were six sarcophagi arrayed neatly, and a closed, water-logged wooden door. I easily scaled the rough slope and painstakingly searched the room and each sarcophagus for traps. As I finished the 5th sarcophagus and was stepping away suddenly a ghostly horde of rats emerged from the stone coffin and plunged their incorporeal teeth into me! The bite was cold and painful, but agony seared me! They sapped the strength away, like tearing away a portion of my essence! These cursed undead monsters are largely immune to my magic and completely unaffected by my wiles, as they are mind-LESS. I felt panic grip me and suddenly Sahil was there! He issued forth some holy energy with obliterated the rat swarm in an instant! I barely had time to thank him when to formless, lightless wraiths (except for the glowing red eyes) emerged from the wall with the sodden door. They rushed at Sahil.

Shino, Danjo, Weshtek and Rakor all sallied forth to combat the incorporeal foes! I withdrew, being little more than a hindrance and a distraction. I knew that they would risk their lives for me, and I didn’t want to put them in that position. Through magical power, divine power, and grit, the undead foes were destroyed…I don’t pretend to know how it was accomplished. I am but a simple sailor, turned assistant harbormaster after all!

When it was done we were largely unscathed. Being on a mission, we quickly set to work. We searched all the sarcophagi, and inside each was a human skeleton in very plain, rather poor-looking garb. This was strange to me. We found no treasure. This room was an enigma. What put the stone coffins in an unfinished room? Who were these people that were worthy of such interment, but garbed so drably? Sahil cast a spell on one corpse to talk to it. It spoke an unknown language. I cast a spell to understand it’s words. It asked who we are and where was it. None of us could speak it’s language and it didn’t respond to our languages. Sahil dismissed the spell.

We went and explored more. We came to a large- no, massive- bronze door with an ornate silver lock. We pondered about why the door was bronze and silver. Finally Shino surmised that bronze was used because it does not rust or “oxidize.” I suspect the lock is silver because of it’s magical properties, but that is all I can theorize. I couldn’t unlock the door with my tools so I cast Knock on it. It met with a measure of success. We decided to come bacck another day and do multiple castings of Knock in a row.

We ventured further and found many a stairway down and many rocky tunnels. There was a creek, and a huge cave with an enormous pile of bat droppings. We found a cave complex occupied by an ogre! It wielded an enormous hammer and ambushed us. It cleverly constructed stone barriers that we struggled to climb over with any speed, but it was able to easily stride over them. As I said, it ambushed Shino and me! I tried to blind it, but it had unnatural resistance to my spells! It grabbed me and tried to run off with me. Luckily for me, my companions are loyal and so they harried it with arrow, spell and weapons! It was felled as it headed down a side passage. It spoke some word but none of us could tell what it was. We assumed it must have allies close by, for to whom else could it be speaking? We searched all over and found no allies.

We discovered a large cave and while I scouted it, I came across a petrified human holding a lantern in front of him, and he was petrified with a look of surprise on his stony face. Basilisk! I immediately fled the area and returned to my companions. I actually think Danjo and Shino wanted to go hunting the gods-damned abomination. Just when I was starting to really respect them…wow! They are valiant for sure, just… foolish, I guess.

This whole time I have been noticing Rakor acting strangely. That miracle that took place which brought Danjo back from his self-inflicted death, the vision of the deific entity/entities, really shook him up. I just don’t want to think about it. I have nothing to say. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want the gods to know my name! Their power is so far above us. I’m small in this world, but I use my wiles and magic to overcome bigger folk. Those mean shit to a god. No thanks. I’ll be an ant: beneath their notice, thank-you-very-much!

Of course, Rakor directly serves a god (Waukeen), so he is emotionally and intellectually invested in their ways. He was moved by what he saw. I am guessing he never saw such power from Waukeen. I know he agrees philosophically with Waukeen, but this blatant interaction on our behalf… it has got his mind jammed up some how.

We finally found the ogre’s lair and there were many treasures therein! First off, a Lluirwood bow! Not only that, but a Lluirwood bow by Eborm An Welung!!! This thing along must be worth close to 1,000 PLATINUM! Plus, there were gems, a holy symbol, fancy clothes, armor, more weapons including a magical trident, and coins!! So many coins!! We set to counting and Rakor wouldn’t count the coins.

So strange for a trader and servant of Waukeen. He prayed to Waukeen on Danjo’s behalf, sacrificing coin to do so. I know coins are close to his faith, or the faith he once had. Rakor also refused to each magically summoned food. He is certainly in a crisis of faith. I hope he does not forsake his alliance to Waukeen. God’s don’t appreciate being dropped like a hot rock! I don’t know how Waukeen’s wrath might manifest…

Through our exploration we came across another hidden door. We had to cross a pile of excrement to find it. When we were there we heard some great roaring and booming and we decided to retreat before we encountered the source of the sounds…

So we are finally amassing wealth. I just hope we can escape these treacherous lands and enjoy it! In the meantime, we are exploring and resting, and surviving… I hope we can leave soon.

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The gods are watching

I am grateful to the people that have rescued me. I have gathered the names.

Shino, something of a martial adept. Kind of like my own training.
Donjo, a warrior of his culture
Sahil, a medicine man
Rakor, a religious trader
Tuck, a sailor
Makoto, a religious man

I was given some water and food. The generosity of these people is very high. I find myself becoming tasked with helping them in recompense for their kindness.

While finishing up my meal, discussion was taken on where to go. Should we travel outside, to a city, or continue our exploration here, in the subterranean. It was decided that going into a city may be the worse kind of choice, given the lawless state it is likely in.

I asked why this was the case, and was explained about the problems with the trade. How no one was able to come in or out of the area. This reminded me of my capture, and I mentioned it as such. They all agree that there is likely a concerted effort by several countries to cut off trade to this country.

Tuck went and stealthily checked on a fallen companion who had some notes that would aid them in determing some additional information. We waited, nervous about attacks from where wolves. I do not know what these monsters are, but judging by my companions reactions, it would appear they are fearsome beasts indeed. After several long minutes, there was a massive splash in the waters behind us. We all turned, startled, expecting to see one of the ravening beasts. Instead, it was Tuck, laughing at us for his little joke.

Once we calmed down, he informed us the snow was thick up top and leaving anytime soon would be foolhardy. I asked what snow is, and had it explained. Then Tuck used his magics to show me. Truly a wonder to live in a land so cold that the very rain turns into a white substance that doesn’t flow away, but piles up on itself. I have gotten used to cold nights in the deserts of Calimshan, but never experienced weather like this.

So, the decision was made to explore further underground. We traveled to the Ankheg chamber, where I was found. We climbed a small area in the far back and discovered a forked passage. We took the right, and explored it deeper. Tuck was very cautious in searching for traps. He discovered 3 coffins, but no traps. He stepped away as Donjo and Sahil started inspecting.

No sooner had Tuck stepped away when there was a tearing sound, followed by a scream of incredible pain from Donjo. Everyone immediately went into fight mode. Shino, Rakor and myself went running in to see what we could. As we charged in, you could feel the holy might of Sahil pulsing. Donjo was crawling on the ground, trying to get around a wall when Shino grabbed him and drug him out and away from the fight. Rakor, aiding Sahil’s holy efforts, managed to dispatch the skeletons just as I arrived to lend aid.

Donjo was horribly injured. He could not use or feel his legs. Reacting quickly, we bandaged him to slow the bleeding, then made a stretcher out of each person present. We carried him back to the room with iron doors. His injury was so heavy, that I began singing to Ubtao, asking for aid in Donjo’s recovery. Sahil also joined in, with his own singing. Our cultures are different, yet they blended nicely. If it wasn’t for such circumstances I would love to sing with Sahil some more, in celebration of our gods.

At our camp of iron doors, we secure the room as Shino cleans and prepares Donjo for his cultures death rites. Apparently, when one is mortally wounded, rather then live with the injury, the injured composes a poem and kills himself with self evisceration. His head is to be cut off as well. Theirs is a strange, frightening culture. I do not understand this, but it is not my place.

I strip down to my loincloth, and begin covering my body in holy symbols. All the while, I continue my singing, as Sahil continues his. Once I am done, I begin dancing, praying to Ubtao to help this man Donjo. I notice Rakor is placing coins around Donjo and saying prayers as well. As our prayers continue, Donjo is ready. He reads his poem, picks up his short sword, and plunges it into his abdomin. Praise Ubtao I did not stop my singing! Such barbaric traditions! I wanted to turn away, but I was caught up in the gruesome act. Donjo is a man of incredible willpower and fortitude. He not only stabbed himself, he carved a path across his stomach! Not just once, but three times! As he finished his last stroke, the sweat beading on his forehead, his eyes determined, a blast of light appeared above the small pond. There was a image, that kept being replaced by, and replacing them, of a man in heavy armor. I think there was something said, but I was too stunned to hear. As soon as the light appeared, it vanished.

I blinked, and glanced at Donjo to see that he was fully healed. No wounds in his stomach, and I notice a leg twitch. Ubtao be praised! Our prayers were answered and Donjo has been healed.

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I offer this coin with hope to mend my fallen friend

Shino was able to heal his injury from the earlier battle with the skeletons in the complex above. Unfortunately, he is now indebted to the Unseelie Court, owing the fey a favor is no joking matter and I do not envy him when the time comes for them to call upon said favor. After a small prayer from Django, we were transported to their realm where they stuck a deal with him, healing his lame foot.
Upon return to the chamber we had set up camp in, we heard cries of help from beyond the deeper door. After discussion of what this may be, it was ultimately decided that venturing further in was favorable to dealing with the werewolves above, so regardless of the voice being true to it’s word, we would need to enter the depths anyway.

Beyond the deeper door, we came into a chamber with many insect creatures surrounding a dark complexioned man who was dressed in nothing but rags. Through the efforts of all, we were able to rescue him from a certain death and he joined us in our venture, ever grateful to be rescued. We learned him to be “Weshtek” from the land of Chult. His ship was pillaged by pirates and he was sold into slavery and eventually dumped here by some of my less civilized brethren. We decided the room we had camped in was the safest place to possibly camp, so we returned to it, being attacked by an unknown, extremely cold, force on the way back. Narrowly escaping with our lives, I learned this was a shadow, and I hope to never encounter another. They are a nasty form of undead that can reach into your very soul and make quick work of any mortal.

After a nights rest, we decided to further explore the underground cavern where we discovered Weshtek. Delving deeper into the complex, we came across an area of worked stone, similar to the chambers above. Django and Sahil ventured ahead of us to check around a corner, the rest of us waiting just a few feet away. Not a moment after disappearing, I heard Django screaming in his native tongue and I rushed over to see him laying on the ground, blood pooling around him, with Sahil doing his best to fight off a sudden horde of undead. Django was trying his best, but it seemed his legs were no longer functioning. The undead were sick in their attack, swinging into him again and again…

In my travels, I have never seen that much blood.

Shino managed to come in and pull Django out of the chaos. With the wounded out of the way, Sahil and I made quick work of the horde, using our divinity to the best we both could. We quickly returned to Django’s side and realized just how bad he was. He was composing a death poem with a very grim Shino at his side. It would seem their culture deems it necessary to end one’s life should they become a burden. Tuck spoke up and mentioned the power of prayer from the holy script Django carried, as it had worked for Shino. As much as I am not one to continually pray to the gods for help, it seemed like truly our only option.

Django continued preparing for his ritual while we all carried him back into the chamber we had begun to call home. Sahil began a throaty chant under his breath, slowly rising to where we all could hear. Weshtek began to chant as well, in a competely different manner, but just as sincere. The two harmonized in a way that shouldn’t normally work, but the spirits seemed to align to make it so. Most of us stayed silent, carrying Django, Shino calling out to any and every god to save the man who he traveled from home with. Once we got to the shamber, they began to change him into a white kimono, preparing further their ritual. I took a vast majority of my wealth and began placing coins around Django in a circle, face up. With each one I placed, I said a simple prayer to the Lady of Merchants and Trade.

“I offer this coin with hope to mend my fallen friend," I said quiety to each coin as
I laid out one hundred gold coins, all face up, and placed my holy symbol to the Lady Waukeen at Djangos knees, in the center of my circle. All the while the chanting of Sahil grew stronger while Weshtek had grown into a tribal dance, fully adorned with mud and ash. Django read his read poem and plunged his sword into his gut, slicing back and forth, blood rushing from his body, as time itself seemd to stop. Silence as the blood pooled onto the coins on the ground, my holy symbol. Just as Shino was about to sever the head, as their culture says to, a figure appeared above the water. A man with blonde hair, dressed in half plate. A wave of energy burst forth from him, healing everyone, Django included. Just as quick as he appeared, he was gone, leaving us with a message.

“Go to the Temple of Alaric.”

As he left, Django’s legs twiched, a sure sign that the divine were truly generous on this day.

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Captured, blindfolded, marched & rescued

This is only the second time I have been on a boat. Such wonderful creations. The skill involved in making one, not to mention the skill to float it along the waters, propelled by the winds. It is truly a wonder to behold.

During my travels, I noticed another boat join us. At first, the crew was nervous, but when they saw the flag, their tensions eased. Something about pirates. I do not understand what pirates are, but judging by the reactions, they must be boat bandits. These I am familiar with.

The ship managed to gain on us, then it was revealed that it was indeed a boat bandit. We worked hard to avoid capture, but we lost to their skill and might. They were too many for me to fight.

I was taken captive, and held in the bottom of the boat. Sometime later, days? I lost count. Myself and the remaining survivors were sold to orcs. They are a brutish lot, and I had only heard stories of orcs, and have met a few half orcs. None of that prepared for the sheer brutality of the race however. I was blindfolded, and marched. We all were. We marched for days. It was in the evenings, when we were fed and watered that the blindfolds were removed. I recall traveling through a hot desert for a long duration. Then mountains. During the march, we ran out of food and water. This did not stop the orcs. They simply killed a captive, harvested him and fed themselves. Us captives were fed as well. I cannot speak for the others, but I am guilty of accepting the sustenance. I pray Ubtao will forgive my desire to survive this situation.

We arrived in some cool place. So cold I began to get chilled. Suddenly, our blindfolds were removed. The orcs carried torches, then pushed the remaining four captives, including myself, into a shallow pit. The orcs started laughing, as we felt the very ground begin to move. Soon, large insectoids emerged. They were quite large, and latched onto the others. I managed to avoid their grasps. The orcs were laughing and passing coin. Apparently we were nothing more then an amusement for them. They left me there, with the sputtering torches burning out. Wondering on my fate, I tried to once again free myself from the manacles. As I laid there, growing ever thirsty and hungry, with the knowledge that I could alert the Ankhegs of my presence, I heard voices.

In my delirium, I called out, asking if they were spirits. I did not hear anything in reply. I think I may have passed out. Soon, I heard the voices again. This time I yelled, as best I could. I didn’t even bother to wait for a reply.

It has been too long since I last ate. I don’t recall the last time I had anything to drink. I was on the brink of death. Through lack of water, starvation or a meal for the Ankhegs. It was not or never. Trusting in Ubtao, I called out. In my delirium I swear I heard questions asked of me. I answered.

Ubtao be praised, I saw people arrive, just as the Ankhegs appeared. I screamed and rolled around until I was grabbed by one.

The sounds of battle could be heard. I don’t know if I was being saved, when suddenly hands started grasping at my feet. I quickly froze. Not knowing if this person wanted to help, but by not resisting, I increased my odds of helping these strange hands. Within seconds, my feet were freed of the fetters. Understanding dawns on me. I am indeed being freed!

I turn over, as best I can, offering my manacles to the hands. Soon, I am free, from my manacles and the Ankheg. I roll out in time to see one of my saviours getting dragged down in the sand.

I quickly run over and break a couple legs off from a fallen Ankheg, and begin rubbing them together, trying to imitate the sounds of baby Anks, in the hopes that will draw the remaining Ankheg back. At the same time, another of my saviours jumps into the sand and begins digging himself down to follow.

I beging working the sounds, and I stay with it. I cannot tell what is happening below, but want to help these people as best I can. I need to show them my appreciation, in hopes that I can gain further assistance.

After a few moments, both men emerge from the sand. Once everyone is safe, I am lead with the group back to their camp. Enroute, we are attacked by a cold darkness. We run away. The spirit is able to pass through the door and continues to attack. I picked up a dropped weapon, to come aid these people, when they successfully stopped the attacks.

I immediately returned the weapon, hilt first, to the owner. I wanted to make sure they knew I was not a threat. The person readily accepted the weapon back, asking me if I liked tea. I do enjoy tea. I was not aware of it’s importance, but this man appeared to find it incredibly important.

I then settled in, and told these men what had happened to me. I am happy to help them in what they are doing.

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Back underground.
Ankhegs, Weshtek, and a Shadow

On my campanions fought! The newcomer, Rakor, looked into a side-chamber and I did the same. There was a sarcophagus inside, with desecrated Tormish writing on it. No doubt it was looted by the desecrators. I heard cries of despair and looked back into the main chamber where the battle raged. I saw Sahil surrounded by the restless dead, and surely near to death! They would have chopped him to bits. In a desperate act I shouted the command word for the holy staff I carried since we found it by the assassin vine. It had saved us from the foul demons that turned Danjo and Shino to jelly, and back again. This time I called upon it’s greatest spell. I knew it would obliterate the undead, and maybe harm the fountain too.

The searing light that exploded in the room was beyond the bright sun at noon in the desert! It was white hot and it burned my eyes and my exposed skin! It probably killed all my fleas! I reeled, dropping the staff and momentarily forgetting where I was. There were cries from my companions…of pain? Despair? I knew not, so I opened my eyes and the world was all dark! It was not the dark of the deep underground. It was not the dark of a black cloud. It was utter, complete, and implacable nothingness. Slowly the realization sunk in. I was blind. I blinded myself with the spell. From the complaints I could hear, I blinded everyone else and nearly killed some. I heard Rakor’s voice. He told us the skeletons were all destroyed. He took control. He took me by the collar and led me away. I followed him…blindly! We ended up in the room we passed earlier. We decided it had been the chamber of the care-taker. We locked the door, and started to talk of werewolves.

It was Makota who brought them up. We started to think about how we could defend ourselves in the werewolves tracked us here. It was as obvious as a frigate among sloops, we had no chance of surviving that fight. We decided our best bet was to disguise the cave entrance as the den of a dire bear…a bigger predator than a werewolf, and hope they wouldn’t come in. We gathered foul blood that sprayed from the fountain using Malakai’s old shirt. I cast a spell to disguise the cave front and I sat “watch.” I concentrated on the illusion for bell upon bell. I’ve never tried to sit and maintain an illusion for so long. Makota stood watch outside and passed us a signal when the werewolves showed up. I created growling sounds of a dire bear, (I remember the sound quite well). Soon Makota was among us and he said the wolves had left.

The next day I woke in a cold sweat. I dreamed of the port in Assur, and collecting fees from incoming ships. When I woke, I had forgotten I was blind, until I opened my eyes and could not see. Then the cold sweat broke out and I think I was shaking. I know Sahil was blind. He was talking, praying, when suddenly his voice…changed… somehow, it took on a deeper timbre, it was more resonant. His words became unintelligible, and somehow “more holy.” I was enrapt by the sound, then his hand, or rather, a hand, rested on my shoulder and another draped across my eyes. Slowly light appeared at the far limits of my sight. Gradually, around the edges, the light filled my vision more and more. Holy Chauntea, Curna, and Ilmater!! Sahil restored my sight, and the sight of everyone else! Maybe Sahil was merely a vessel, or maybe he was the well itself! It’s beyond me to know, and I’ve never concerned myself with matters of the gods.

After resting fully we decided to explore deeper into the caves. I cast a spell to reveal secret doors and discovered one right outside the door of our room! We passed it many times but it was cunningly wrought. Only the magic of my spell was able to make it obvious. We opened the door and suddenly skeletons appeared around us in the hallway. Sahil, Rakor and I quickly raced into the newly revealed hallway. Seeing how narrow it was, I knew it was the perfect choke point. I knew that one might fighter like Danjo, with support from Sahil and Shino, could stand in the gap and defeat the nearly mindless skeletons one-by-one with little danger to himself.

Apparently the pair from Waa are ignorant to such tactics, or, they see me only as a person who needs protecting. They ignored my suggestions for them to enter the passageway and fight one at a time. As a result they were being attacked on both sides by skeletons. Makota was next to enter the secret passage, after Rakor and Sahil headed further in to explore an escape route. Unfortunately for Makota, there was another cunningly wrought creation, but this time it was a wickedly built pit trap 30 feet deep! Rakor fell unconscious at the bottom and slowly the doors of the trap started to ratchet closed.

I made an incredible effort to divine the working of the contraption but some unseen power prevented me from disabling it. Thinking quickly Sahil formed the shape of a tree and fell into the gap of the closing trap door! While the unthinking brutes in the hallway battled the skeletons, I nimbly crept under the trap doors and discovered how to defeat the trap. I called for Rakor, who gave me a hammer from his backpack and I finally disabled the trap door. I was able to barely make out Makota’s unmoving form. Finally, after a fight that was much harder than it needed to be, Danjo and Shino defeated the skeletons and came into the passage. Not before Shino got his heel tendon cut! I’m really glad they decided to ignore my sound tactical advice. Otherwise he would never have experienced the pain of a severed tendon. Anyway, We rigged a rope around Sahil’s form and he changed from a tree, back into himself. Then I lowered myself down to Makota and gave him a healing potion and we were both lifted from the pit!

As we sat, breathing heavily and taking stock of our situation, Rakor said he found a doorway not 75 feet away. He said it had strange writing and torches that lit by themselves at his approach. We also discovered some levers just inside the secret door that had concealed our passage. They levers opened and closed the secret door, and reset the trapdoors. Realizing this passage was very cleverly hidden and might protect us should the werewolves overcome their fear of the “dire bear,” we closed the secret door and delved deeper. No shit, there was a heavy iron door with a very good lock on it. I was able to unlock it with my special tools and we discovered an empty cave beyond. We entered the cave and saw an iron cross-bar with which we could bar the heavy iron door. PERFECT! This should keep those werewolves out, should they discover the secret door!

The cave was small, with two visible exits. One was a similar iron door, and the other was a small waterway. Looking into the darkness with a spell of illumination we observed some human-size frog-like creatures in the water. The fled from sight, luckily. I’m sure if I had suggested we stand on the shore and fight the frogs, Danjo and Shino would have waded in over their heads and drowned.

Makota attempted some surgery on Shino’s leg, and Danjo went into a fervent prayer that lasted hours, it seemed. Suddenly we were all in some sort of shadow world. We appeared before strange creatures. I’ve not seen the like since, you-know-when and I was a prisoner of you-know. There were tiny fey beasties all over in this mushroom forest. They seemed to thrive on suffering, which Shino certainly was doing. There was a strange woman on a cruel throne. I think we saw an image she wanted us to see, not her true form. She said she would heal Shino, but he would have a debt to pay. I was just glad to have him healed again. Like I said before, I don’t meddle with gods, or fey, if I can avoid it. Suddenly we were back in the cave. Oh joy…

So we were back in the cave. We were debating on our course of action, when we heard a voice beyond the iron door which we discovered in this room. The voice asked if we were spirits. I did not reply. Sahil and Shino, I think, did. They said “no, are you?” Then we heard nothing. Makota really wanted to explore down the waterway and get the hell out of the caves and away from the werewolves. I cast a spell on him to allow him to walk on the ceiling like a spider. He really liked that. He explored the waterway and said it only goes another 30 feet or so, and there is an underwater tunnel going into darkness. He went into that tunnel to explore.

We decided that we weren’t ready to flee, so we opened the iron door and ventured down to a T-intersection. We could hear a voice with a strange accent telling us he was tied in a pit and giant insects underground were hunting for him. It sounded like a trap. That damn Makota got us all jumpy by talking about a creature called a leucrotta that mimics voices and lures fools to their death. Well, the more it talked the more I realized it was a Chultan accent mixed with a Calishite accent. No damn leucrotta would know that shit. We finally found him, a human with very dark brown skin, chain in a pit surrounded by ankegs! We fought the ankhegs. I got in close and stunned some with a spell, then I removed his shackles amid the battle! It was exhilerating, but I don’t want to do that much more often! He calls himself Weshteck, and he seems to be a formidable fighter and spellcaster.

As we were recovering from that battle, the air got suddenly cold! A dark, shadowy form emerged from the stone floor and attacked Makota! We fled back to the room and barred the door, then it attacked through the door! We fell back and I started looking real close at the waterway! Somehow Rakor, Shino and Sahil used their powers to destroy the shadow. I examined Makota and he was near death. He couldn’t even hold up is head. Then we heard some werewolves (that’s what I assume) come down the stairs and bash on the barred door. I was ready to flee at that point, back into the cave where the shadow came from, because we can bar that door behind us. Plus, if we went in the water, Makota would drown.

My companions convinced me that the creatures on the other side, would not possess the power required to bend the steel bars that hold the iron door closed. We decided to rest and a few bells later the werewolves left. I really hope they don’t wait around for us. For now, we rest. Sahil has said he can supply us with food indefinitely. We have fresh water. We can stay here awhile. Makota had earlier suggested we wait until the leucrotta starved to death. I think Weshteck is glad we didn’t take that advice!

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Rakor's Journal, Marpenoth 13th

Marpenoth the 13th

Today I finally find myself with a moment of reprieve. I’ve had quite the journey in the last week, even met a few new acquaintances. I stumbled across my old friend, Tuck in an adventuring party of all places. A bit out of place for a dockmaster, let alone a Hin of his stature. A whorehouse or tavern, sure, but from my memory, in the homes of wolves is not a place he would often stray. His friends were hesitant at first, but after some reassurance from Tuck, they accepted my presence for the time. Not many are so quickly welcoming of a half-orc, for this I am appreciative. I stumbled across the party in the Valley of Shrines. The valley would be a good home for a trade outpost, but currently there resides both undead and werewolves to be a problem. These will have to be taken care of before I can attempt to establish an outpost and possibly begin my mission of getting The Gemstone Chaka and the natives to at least get along enough for the sake of coin. Damned stubborn dwarves and equally stubborn savages don’t understand the improvement of life when trade is involved. My new acquaintances are from equally as impressive distances as I am. Danjo and his companion, Shino are both from the far east. Still human, from the land of Wa. Malakai, not quite as far as them, but also not a native to these lands. Finally Sahil, still an mystery to me, but he has proven to be quite intuitive on several occations, so I am glad to have him as an ally. The dockmaster has a way of meeting all sorts it seems.

Tuck convinced me to join up with their group, safety in numbers as he said, and I made off witht heir party. I marked down the general location of the valley to return to when matters are settled in the area. Tuck made a brief connection with the werewolves, leading them back to us as he returned. He was breathless and red, looking as he had run for his life. The wolves wouldn’t approach the temple beyond a certain point, the general thought to be of desecration of the grounds. The group made mention of a burial ground they seemed to think may have some answers to the undead in the area, after deliberation, decided to investigate the tombs. After a couple days’ travel, though a harrowing blizzard, we arrived at the grounds. The weather here is quite bizarre, changing from an arctic blizzard, to a crisp spring in the course of days.

We approached the hillside, a peaceful day with little to bother us. There were large obelisks of Tor and the Red Knight, if my memory serves me correct, outside the entrance. Both were flame scarred heavily, but not much else was worth noting, so we decided to enter. Danjo and Shino entered and slightly after they entered, we heard a loud explosion. Before we could even enter to check their saftey a secondary explosion triggered, rendering me breathless and on the ground. Upon recovery, I saw Malakai on the ground, a large rock embedded in his head, the wound bleeding severely. He was the first of these strangers to actually inquire of my past, and I enjoyed a small chat with him over one of the campfires of the past few days. A fellow follower of Waukeen, a shame to not know him better. The group decided to put his body to rest inside the burial chambers, so after recovery, we continued in.

Within these chambers, he have encountered a seemingly endless fountain of undead. After defeating many waves, and nearly falling into their ranks, Tuck pulled out a magic staff of some sort and obliterated their ranks using the power of the sun. Makoda had to lead us all into a retreat, as the aftermath left us all blind, but Sahil prayed to his deity and miraculously healed all our blindness, a feat that he should not have been able to accomplish, but I am grateful he could. Tuck, being a curious Hin, decided to check for any hidden doors down our path before we returned the room and boiling blood and bone. Strangely enough, he found one, heavily hidden. Upon opening the door, it triggered another fire ball trap, leaving myself, if not others close to death a second time in hardly a day. Immediately after, a horde of undead appeared magically, and I made my way down an unknown hallway, fleeing for my life. With only forward to go, and some solid fighters protecting my flank, I made my way into the darkness. I came across a door with magic torches that illuminated when I got close and luminescent moss growing out of some heavily desecrated runes of Tor. I couldn’t make a full translation, but from what I gathered, I would need at least the nimble hands of Tuck if I were to persue further interest of what lied beyond. Returning to the group, I discovered Shino and Danjo to be succesfully keeping the undead at bay, Sahil had turned into a tree, Makoda was in a spike pit, struggling for life, and Tuck was attempting to stop a trap door from closing ontop of Makoda. Shino managed to severely wound his leg, but he and Danjo defeated the horde. Danjo helped me raise Sahil from the pit while Tuck disabled the trap and we recovered Makoda, we did not have another body to rest this day.

I told them of the door, and they all followed. The door, as I suspected, was an easy foe for Tuck and opened to a chamber in the Underdark. Curious, as I’ve only tales from the Mithril Dwarves back at Many arrows, I am intrigued by these halls. Allthough, with my current companions, I am unsure if delving deeper is for the best.

Knowledge or not, I’ve only lived this long by a very careful and lucky life…

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