A Troubled Economy

Same old shit again!!
Gods and power and lives in the balance

Tuck’s journal.
So after resting we set out in search of the drow sorceress (or whatever). My companions and I were not too happy when we discovered that SHE found US! For truth, though I am normally adroit with words, for some unexplainable reason, I found myself silent. I wanted to challenge her with words! I saw that her threats turned the courage of my companions to water that ran down their legs, but to me, I know, threats and posturing are the currency of drow society. To cow opponents with words is the most economical way to win a war. As if by some strange power, my tongue was stilled. It was like my body was there but my personality was absent! So as we so often do, we succumbed to bullying and brow-beating and slinked away liked kicked dogs. How I hate, Hate, HATE DROW!!!

We went to the room with two doors. We allowed ourselves to rest and mourn our lowly predicament. We soon forgot the terror of the Orcs of Orcus and decided (ha!) to take them on once more. We gathered our wits and our bits and we set out. We explored more deeply than ever before into their lair. The Temple of Orcus, as always, is a pit of cruelty and despair! The evil made manifest in those halls describes the worst things done by the worst sort of folk.

We came upon an ogre guard and thought to kill it quickly to hide our presence! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR THE LOVE OF TYMORA! SURELY CYRIC WAS GUIDING OUR STEPS!!!!!!!!

The beast of our nightmares was there all along and he crushed the ogre, like Danjo crushes mosquitos! Once again we remember fear!

Now cries of succor and plaintive prayers leap to the lips of my friends, and no wonder!! They love their life!! Do I love mine less? NO! A thousand times no, I say! I have lived trying to avoid the gaze of the gods. I find that the powerful see me as only a morsel, or a pawn. I enjoy neither appellation. When I am creating an alternate truth that suits me, in order to gain some thing, I don’t ask Tymora for help, nor do I ask Tyr for forgiveness! I do what I do, to gain what I can gain. Can I fool the gods? I don’t believe I really want to know that answer. I just hope they don’t decide to notice me. So far the gods have not protected many from my scheming.

I prefer to create “deals” where both parties can prosper, but if it comes to a choice of you or me, I’m striving for ME. Best of luck and may the best Hin win!

So, will I join my friends in supplication? Good question. I have seen that Rakor, Danjo and Sahil as well get the help and support of their gods. Will the help of a hypocrite like me spoil their chances? I don’t have long to ponder… Why would Alaric return life to Danjo and Rakor? Why would spirits respond as they do to Sahil’s healing gifts, as occurred in this underground hell a few weeks back? I don’t know, but maybe my survival while being ignorant of the gods, has been a fluke. I certainly never dreamed they would intervene in my life, but I’ve witnessed their intervention with my friends! How long can I deny the power of their faith? How long can I deny the power of Ilmater? Alaric? Torm?

I know this, I want to live! I want their gods to save me too! I saw the wickedness of the spider queen destroy and ruin, and I’ve seen the work of the Triad do even better. I suppose it is time to take sides. Dare I? Will I be found worthy, (surely not!)?

“Torm and Ilmater! Alaric the righteous! Save us from this hateful force of destruction and torment! Strike him down, that we may serve you for many years to come! Help us in our hour of need!”

The Dream of Sahil, Trashpicker Priest of Ormpe

I dreamed I was a bird, a white songbird just like Pak Pak. Or perhaps I was Pak Pak in the dream. Or perhaps Pak Pak and I had always been one and the same.

I flew over great forest canopies and across untamed savannas. All the lands glowed with hues of red and purple, but whether it was dusk or dawn in this wild land, I could not tell, for two suns of equal size hovered at the edge of opposite horizons. I alighted upon the boughs of a great cedar to catch my bearings, for I recognized nothing of this place. As I sat and contemplated my strange circumstances, purple clouds above me began to roil as if disturbed by some great wind, though the boughs of the tree upon which I perched remained undisturbed. I gazed as the roiling clouds began to form, to my astonishment, the likeness of a human face.

Like thunder, the face boomed, “Petitioner, what merit do you claim that you presume to come to the Beastlands?”

I opened my mouth, or beak rather, startling myself with the piping tones that warbled from my throat, “Brother Cloud, I do not know where I am, nor how I came to be here.”

At this, I heard nearby a hooting laughter, as of a mad man, but it was no man: An orange-furred ape swung into view from a nearby tree. “Ho, ho, ho, the child does not know! Does not know!”

“Forebear from your mockery, ape,” growled a third voice, that of a great-maned lion who entered the clearing before me. He stretched and yawned in the dusky sun, before continuing, “You too were quite confused when first you arrived. Let the child make his case.”

“I do not understand what case I am to make.”

The orangutan howled with laughter, but the face in the cloud spoke again like thunder, and the ape fell silent. “The Lord of the Dead has judged you fit to pass from his City to this realm, and yet I cannot divine which god you serve that you should be granted admittance here.”

“Perhapsss it wasss a missstake,” hissed a great python that unwove its enormous length through the branches above me. She eyed me like prey, and I recoiled in instinctive dread.

“I serve them all,” I warbled, shrinking away from the great python’s predatory gaze.

“Hey, hey, hey!” laughed the orangutan. “It doesn’t work that way! He cannot stay! Cannot stay!”

“I have prayed to She Who Guides to safeguard us in our journeys,” I replied. “To The One Who Endures to help us relieve the suffering of the innocent. To the Goddess of Wisdom that I might use my abilities to their greatest potential. I have prayed to all the gods I know, in such circumstances as their aid was proper and fitting.”

“Faithlesss he isss,” spat the python as she inched slightly closer, flicking the air with her tongue.

“Perhaps,” opined the lion, “But it may also be that his worship, though ignorant, was genuine in its intent, and the Judge of the Damned was merciful in light of his sincerity. Certainly, if the Judge required of petitioners a complete understanding of the afterlife, then none would find their way here. Did we not all arrive here with a degree of ignorance?”

“Well said,” replied the face in the clouds. “But we still know nothing about how this child conducted himself in his first existence. Speak child. Make your case.”

It was then I understood. I did not remember having passed from the prime material, but I knew then that I was dead.

“I kept my hands clean of bloodshed. I caused no violence to any sentient being.”

“Death isss not bad. It isss the way of all thingsss,” hissed the python, creeping still closer.

“That is true, my sister,” replied the lion. “But the child’s intent is nonetheless a noble one for those who are able to live by such tenets. Certainly the antelope would be quite happy if I were to dabble in pacifism.” With the semblance of a wry smile, he laid his head upon his great paws.

“Hoo, hoo, too true, too true!” howled the orangutan.

The face in the cloud gazed upon me intently and I felt at once as if he was seeing that which had passed before. “But you helped take many lives, did you not?”

“None by my hands. True, I manipulated the strands of fate that I might aid my companions. I summoned creatures to do my bidding. But I myself slew no one.”

The lion frowned. “So you establish your case upon a technicality. I care not whether you killed, for indeed, much suffering could be avoided if evildoers were given a quick death. But regardless, you should at least be faithful to yourself, not attempt to assuage your conscience with such pedantry.”

“You have told us what you have not done,” thundered the cloud. “But inanimate matter, sticks and stones, these things also do nothing, and they do not rise again as petitioners. What have you actually done, child?”

At this, I thought of the siblings, Setibyr and Enalda, who had begged to return from the wilderness. I had argued that we should proceed, that the gods would safeguard our steps. I remembered the sounds as they were torn asunder in the forest.

I thought of Malakai, brained by a stone in a senseless explosion. I thought of the suffering of my other companions whom the gods chose to make whole again but who had suffered horribly before they were restored to life. I thought of the visions in the temple, the bodies tortured and violated, sacrificed for some diabolical end.

And lastly, I thought of the vile pact we had entered into in order to spare our own lives. I convinced myself that the pact would be forgiven if my intent was pure, if we could yet come to the aid of the suffering. But now, I questioned whether this was just more technicalities and self-deception.

I had sought to combat the great suffering that had fallen upon my homeland, but in the end, I could not point to anything my actions had actually accomplished.

“My heart was pure,” I said. “But I cannot say exactly what I have done.”

With this, the snake flicked the air again with her tongue, catching my scent. “Hisss sssoul, it doesss not sssmell ready.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” laughed the orangutan, “Away then he should go!”

“I concur,” yawned the lion. “But the child does show potential.”

“Indeed. This, then, is my judgment,” thundered the face in the cloud. “You shall leave this place and return to the life you knew, but know this: Make your preparations. All things must come to an end, and indeed, your end approaches quickly. Make sure, ere you next come to this place, that you have made yourself worthy.”

And with that I awoke. No harm had come to me. The dream, alas, was merely a dream. But I knew that in dreams the gods may reveal portents of future events. Regardless, this much was certain: Whether it was soon or many days from now, death would come for me, and I would need to answer for what I had done with my years upon this sphere. A judgment was coming, and I would need to prepare my soul.

The Final Thoughts of Rakor Blakthorn

“I offer my being in hopes to end the suffering of my allies and the suffering this being has caused. Ilmater, take me as you would sacrifice yourself to endure the pains of my allies. I do not make this request for me, but for those who are otherwise doomed. I accept my end, Ilmater, I am at your will…”

As these words fell from my lips, time seemed to stop. I could see the massive spiked maul hurling towards my face with my spear on the ground. I looked to Danjo, his face steadied and poise, ready to take down our foe. Weshtek stood by his side, emboldened by my prayer, confidence pooling from his face. Even the child, Sahil, was in the chaos, determined to take down this abomination.

The maul grew ever closer, as I made peace with my god. I knew I would die here, but my prayers would surely be met, if by anything other then the new found morale of my friends. “This is a finer family then the one I left, I am proud to die in their honor. A better bond then the savagery of orcs, let alone, the North itself.

In a moment, everything turned black, followed by the brightest light I have ever seen. I opened my eyes to and was face to face with a beaten man. He sat cross legged in a field of yellow roses, a lone bright star in a seemingly empty night sky.

“Ilmater?” I asked the man. Stunned by what appeared to my god, sitting there in front of me. The man said nothing, his back turned to me. From the flames of the firepit in front of the man, I could hear the cries of my friends in battle. From the sounds, victory surely couldn’t be far. I smiled, knowing my life was not lost in vain.

No sooner then I had the thought, I blinked my eyes, and suddenly Danjo appeared next to me. He did not seem to notice me, or the man, as he sat, staring blankly into the flames. As I looked at him, I could see the ghostly image of gore, covering a terrible wound. It seemed to rest just under his skin, slowly fading from view.

I turned back to the man to ask him more, and everything turned bright a second time…

“A fitting final thought,” I thought to myself as we came face to face with the demon priest a second time. We had come prepared this time, at least. We know his power comes from an amulet, and we know some of us are likely to die. This foe, to wretched to be left alive, has us all willing to die to see it put to an end. I began a prayer, hoping for the aid of the Broken One once more, this time, his relentless wrath was my intention.

This foe does not deserve a third chance….

Stuck with 3 horrific choices, all lead to death

We returned to the room with Iron Doors. Home, as I like to call it. The air is noticeably cooler. How odd, that the deeper into the mountains we go, the warmer it gets.

I have a desire to go outside, I wish to learn the stars. To determine if I can understand the passage of time, and seasons in this new land. We all head out, and are greeted by the blistering cold. We spend a little time taking in the fresh air, before the cold drives us back.

We discuss our options. The Drow tracked us down, dismissed her servants and openly mocked us for our attempts. She did not even deign to protect herself, we are so beneath her.

At Home, we discuss our options. Take on the horrific Drow, the Wraith that has bindings on us, or the cultists. None of our options are good, but Danjo raises the point that we seemed to have the most success against the cultists. It appears we are going that route.

Myself, I wonder about the power of this blood oath. I say my goodbyes, and leave. I head back to the outside, and not knowing the lands, I choose to head south, down the mountain. As I travel, I reach a point where there is an explosion of fire, and a vision fills my eyes. A woman, innocent suddenly immolated by fire, burned to black sand. Pain wracks my insides.

I take a moment to collect myself, and move onward. I get further along, taking my time, collecting fire supplies and marking my trail when another explosion of fire happens. Again, a vision. This time, of a man, also innocent. Also immolated by fire, to black ash. Once again, I experience pain. This time more severe.

Concerned this is the Blood Oath working it’s control. I walk back to where I experienced the first vision. I wait, letting the time pass, thinking the vision and pain comes in timed waves. Long after the time passes, nothing. I get up, and brace myself. I begin my walk south.

I do not get as far when the explosion happens, the visions arrive. This time, a young child, I realize it is a girl just as she catches fire. Her screams cut through my very core. The pain is incredibly intense this time. Worse then the other ones combined.

I know I am defeated. I turn and head back. I arrive just after daybreak. I inform Danjo, Tuck, Shino, Sahil and Rakor what happened. Sahil was kind enough to heal my hurts.

We spent the next few days resting, gathering our strength and helping to speed Danjo’s recovery.

Now, we have decided to attack the cultists, as they are our best option of the three. We journey into their area of control. We go far into their compound, past their chambers and into a room filled with various people in various states of torture. By our estimates, these captives were kept alive far longer then should have been possible, to lengthen their suffering.

We move past, only to catch the eye of a Ogre guard. We quickly begin surrounding him, not wanting him to alert anyone of our presence, when suddenly, he is killed by the one Demon Orc. He mocks us and our continued efforts to thwart him.

I stand, poised and ready to give my life in an effort to succeed against this abomination. I am tired of being a puppet. I am tired of being afraid. Today, that ends. Today, I challenge evil itself. Perhaps I am not worthy to challenge such evil. If that is the case, so be it. I will not die in fear. I will die with purpose. I will die with honor. I will die, to send a message that we of Chult are not an easily defeated people. Honor to my ancestors! Honor to my tribe! Honor to Ubtao!

The Purple blinding fog
Danjo broken... again

We have managed to get ourselves screwed into working for a wraith. It wants us to do 3 things I guess. We need to kill a drow priestess, subdue the priest of Orcus, and give him some earth blood. I have no idea how we are going to be able to do such things, as it was the priest of Orcus who chased us down here. We are now in a blood oath to do just that. We first tried the priest of Orcus, like we have any kind of chance as that. It ended very poorly, trapped in a hallway with a demon and its spawn. Some sort of trap in the room behind the demon sent billowing smoke into the hallway. Were it not for my ever impressive use of magic we all would have perished. In a general type way, the entire group thanked me, as well they should have! I saved their asses!
Then we decide to go after this drow bitch of a priestess, I am not confident that we had any chance here either, but we have no choice. Poking around the cavern we discover this purple fog. It is thick and one can almost taste it. Danjo braved the fog first, only to get nailed by some sort of curved blade… an axe maybe? Whatever is in there it would not pursue out of the fog and it is definitely undead of some fashion or another. Danjo and I decided to try and trip this corpse and found that it only cut our rope… the good news is that we now have two ropes…
Danjo took a crippling wound to the Achilles tendon… blast the gods… this same thing happened once to me. Only a ten day ago… or two ten day ago… or perhaps… well it was recent anyway. By the gods, how long have we been down here? Danjo and his wound, I carried him back out of the fog, and Sahil with his mastery of some kind of magic, summoned up some wolves to munch on that undead bastard. They seem to have finished the job well enough. Sahil shows great promise in the arts, with more practice I wouldn’t be surprised if he would breathe life back into a body; such power to bring the dead back to life, a power that I will never have sadly. It is of little consequence, I have power of my own, if not to bring the dead back to life, then it is to burn the life out of things. That is just a different form of power… though one can breed fear while the other, not so much.

The Relics of Alaric
The damned purple fog

The mood has improved considerably with the discovery of the Tomb of Alaric! He apparently was a great hero of the Tormites. We guarded it from the outside, and then Rakor, Sahil and Danjo emerged again. Rakor said he communed with some spirits and they gave him some relics! A goblet of gold that can do magical healing and some stones that also do healing with the goblet. It was decided that the relics are safe where they are. The magical barriers that protect the tomb with surely keep the wight out. It is only a matter of time until it learns of the relics from reading our thoughts or by merely listening to us blather, then it will threaten to kill us if we don’t give it the relics. At least that is what I would do if I was an evil asshole.
So, we need to find the Drow. We obscured our exit point from the rock wall using a Fog Cloud spell, and by Tymora, am I glad we did!! We set out through the caves and found one full of purple mist. It obscures all sight beyond a few inches. Danjo ventured in and was attacked by some undead thing wearing chainmail and wielding a halberd (we later discovered the nature of the armament). The thing was too tough for Danjo to defeat while blind, so Sahil summoned wolves, who apparently have a very keen sense of smell. The hidden, undead guardian cut Danjo’s tendons behind his heels! The wolves killed, or rather, destroyed it. Shino then dragged Danjo out to us. We decided to leave the purple fog cloud and as we did we heard some loud banging and clanging from within. We made it back to Alaric’s Tomb and we heard voices outside. Rakor said it was speaking Infernal. It said it was able to “smell their souls.” I assume it was souls, but with Danjo around it very well could’ve been “soles.” His feet are quite rank! Well I feel jovial now, but at the time it was rather fucking terrifying. We waited quietly and they scary monsters went away, never finding where we were hid.
I decided to do more exploration. I bravely headed out alone. I traveled some winding ways. I found a cave with a carving of a large head, about 12 feet high. It was fully stone, and upright. I thought maybe it was a slumbering stone giant that was buried up to it’s neck. Close examination revealed it was just a carved piece of rock. I also found another cave full of purple fog. I stupidly, er, doggedly entered and was soon beset by an evil and relentless motherfucker with a halberd. The thing harried me as I felt my way blindly. I found two exits, one led to a very narrow hall and a metal door with no lock. I didn’t open it. The other exit led to an unfinished room and a large, very elaborate door with an elaborate lock. The unfinished room bore the same Tormic carvings on the walls, and once more they were fouled and desecrated extensively. After that discovery I managed to escape the purple fog room on the proper side and I rejoined my dear companions.
I saw that Rakor’s relic goblet healed Danjo’s tendon, but he was still hobbling around, but this time more pronounced than normal. Finally we rested a good long time and set out again, so I could show them my discoveries…

Deeper into the darkness that is this mountain

So, we continue to explore the assorted passages here in the mountain. Tuck scouts ahead, providing details of what we can expect to find. His work is highly advantageous to us, in discovering routes to explore.

He has stumbled upon some purple mist, and through our efforts with Danjo & Shino and Sahil, we know there is a undead guardian inside. Sahil was successful in destroying the undead, but we are at a loss of whether we should proceed through it or not.

None of us wish to pursue this drow person, yet none of us want this wraith to maintain a hold over us either. Our position is not a pleasant one.

I can feel my abilities continuing to grow, as they should, considering the harsh environment I am in. This is definitely not a class that pushes you. I am grateful for my school, for without it, I would not have perspective.

I wonder frequently, if we will ever exit, or if this world under the mountains will ultimately be our doom.

My first death
A musing.

Where to start is the first question I’m left to ponder.

I died my backbone cut like a silken strand my body left crawling and weeping blood from deep cuts. I remember the taste of It on my lips and matting in the overgrowth that has become the hair on my face as I gave my second the order that It was time. I’d assumed Shino would have to carry me like a leaking bag of rice and yet I was bore by every member of our little band. I heard my breath heavier in my chest like It was when I was ill with fever as a youth. To remember my mother’s soft face creased with concern as she tended to me was a comfort of home I allowed myself in that moment. The memory was accompanied with a strange warbling a sort of deep resonant tune punctuated with passionate primal shouts yips and grumbles. A strange chorus befitting WA’s strangest living former Daimyo. My remaining time passed as if in a mist of activity. Different prayer in different voice and language. The Chultan Weshtak a mystic savage swordsman lamented me as If he’d known me years. Shino performed his duty perfectly young face like a glass mask perfectly composed but ready to shatter at the merest change in the wind. Mr.Tuck Arbuckle his clowning and wit silenced and I admit that pained me more then I’d expected. “I will have to tell my son I’d actually met a Tanuki” was a thought that crossed my mind like a splash of color in that dreary cavern. The boy Sahil despite the strata for filth that still lives on him never broke from his singing. Makota sat in blessed silence. Some of his paternal respect must still live in him. Rakor the traveling sage and trader set about placing a pattern of gold coins blessing each one asking Waukeen to accept It as payment for my wellness. Judging what happened next I must remember to thank him if not her. I gripped my blade and readied myself. I felt Shino at my side and my death poem parted my lips and hung in the air as if in anticipation like the rest of them. I called out to Torm in that moment asking him that If I were to die then It was acceptable but if my death lead to the deaths of my comrades that It was unacceptable. A bead of silence and I plunged my Wakazashi into my gut. Right then left and right again. As my life blood spilled out of staining the sand and I was sure It would contaminate the last pure oasis in this underground dessert. Just before It could however a figure came to us Alaric a saint of what I now know to be the maimed god Illmater. He spoke to us and bid us to find his tomb and after he bid us a new mission a burst of magical force rewove my cuts and refilled me even mending my cut chord. The familiar twitch in my right leg never felt more welcome…

So much has changed since then and yet we remain despite It all. If only my second death had been as worthwhile as the first but I digress.

It's all a fog

I think running from that demon, trying to save our skins and jumping down the anhkeg hole messed me up more then I anticipated. Maybe there are foul odors in the air that are messing with my mind, whatever the case may be. It is over.

I recall discovering Shino was indeed alive in the hole. I recall a wraith giving ultimatums. I recall the righteous anger swelling within my breasts. I recall attacking the wraith with everything I had, then waking up to find I was enslaved to him as well. A blood oath. Such powerful magic to be used, in the hands of such evil. Surely my soul is doomed.

I was not paying attention to my companions, so absorbed was I in what had happened to me, that I do not recall much of what or why we were doing anything. Someone mentioned using poison, and I had to mention I would not employ such evil tactics.

Demons appeared. We fought them. Success in battle was reached, but the cost to us was all our resources. Now, we have returned to our base camp. The room of iron doors. Still, my mind is plagued by the blood oath. Perhaps these people do not hold to the same ways as my homeland. Hopefully that is the case, as it can be powerful, magics and I wish for my soul to remain mine.

More sneaking. Fighting demons!
who's afraid of the dark?

Back among friends again, they are trapped by a blood oath forced upon them by a Shar-damned wraith from the plane of Tartar. I’ve never heard of Tartar, but this spirit is clearly wicked! Weshtek was forced into the oath, but the others consented in order to prevent some greater evil. Ahh, the world is a fucking abattoir, as I have said before.

We debated much, do we go seek the Lolth-cursed drowess, may her cunt be infested with rot grubs, or do we flirt with death with the servants of Orcus? HAHA! What a fine pickle! Rocky shoals surround us, the seas toss us back and forth, our mainmast is broken and our rudder is all we have, but the pilot is drunk and blind!! Surely this will be our end…! There is a saying among wise sailors who ply the Golden Water and it goes like this: “Fuck it!”

Eventually it is decided that we will face the devil we know. I get all disguised up, just in case, and I venture back to the unhallow halls of Orcus’ temple. Shino created a stairway just for me! I crept silently to the room I think of as the foyer. I stayed on the ceiling and higher parts of the walls, hoping to be less noticeable and to avoid pits and traps on the floors. I looked throughout the profane temple and I found it deserted. I discovered a supply room, and three sleeping chambers. Armed with that knowledge I returned to my friends. I added to our map, and we planned another foray.

This time the customary tortured screams of the damned captives was absent. Nonetheless, I waited 12 full bells for some of the debased orcish priests to return. They did not.

Back we went for rest and then we all ventured forth. Once more I would creep about, and this time, if caught, my friends would be close enough to aid me! I felt as comforted as if I rested between Chauntea’s swollen teats, as I went forward. When I neared the foyer the familiar scent of lamp oil was over powering. I looked in and saw the walls, ceiling and floor were coated with oil. Apparently my trekking along the ceilings was somehow detected… I must ponder that. Quick as a silverback fleeing a shark, I hasten’d back to report the development. We were talking on the stair near where it splits to the door with blinking red light (death door, we call it). I heard a woman sobbing and looked to the death door and there was a human woman, tortured beyond description and as she sobbed she touched a button on the wall and was instantly disintegrated!! Then a soul-blighted daemon appeared! Someone called it a hezrou, and it summoned smaller daemons to it! Instantly we were plunged into melee!

I tried to spell the hezrou, but it resisted my powers. We battled back and forth! Sahil magically walled the daemon from us, and it teleported to the bottom of the stair! We hacked and slashed and cast and fought! Someone, some filthy, nasty Orcus orc, no doubt, ignited the oil below, blasting up the stairs and sending heat and smoke among us. Sahil had already summoned an earth elemental and it fought well against the daemonettes, but soon the smoke started to impinge upon us. Finally valiant Danjo landed a powerful blow on the hezrou, and it fled. We tried to retreat from the stairs but our way was blocked at the top by a magical wall covered with magical ice! Shino created a wall from the stone and blocked the smoke from billowing in. We waited three or four bells and the magical door and ice disappeared as the spell, no doubt, expired.

Everyone felt that we had only narrowly escaped death, and it was decided we should seek the drow. Surely the orcs of Orcus were planning to trap and torture us.

We returned to the room with 2 iron doors. Danjo wanted to go find a stick to play with, such a loyal hound!! I cast a spell to allow him to climb walls and ceilings like a sneaky Hin does! He went to the surface and returned with a stick, or rather, Malakai’s staff. Danjo then decided to creep along the ceiling over the water to try to catch a frog, or something. All eyes were on him and I could not resist! (Truthfully I did not try!) I dismissed the spider climb spell on him and he plunged, quite unexpectedly (!!) into the cold water! I nearly split my sides with laughter, as did almost everyone! Even somber Sahil let loose with a musical chuckle that reminded me just how young the lad is!

We rested there many bells, then back down the curling Shino stair. Off to find a drow we went. As we went along I was nervous about exploding traps, like the one that killed Makota. I miss the fellow and I most certainly don’t wish to share his fate. I used my arcanum to detect magical runes and found a secret door!! Woohoo! No doubt heaps of treasure awaits!!

We went through the illusionary secret door (illusionary wall, really) and found a long tunnel which came to a dead end. Finally at the dead end was another, much cleverer, illusionary wall. This one defied entry and detection to a much greater degree than any I have seen. Only Sahil, Danjo, and Rakor were able to go beyond it. Sahil reported a beautiful, white marble temple with eight sarcophagi. He said the beauty was beyond description. Since it was beyond my ken to penetrate the wall, I stood guard, knowing full well their lives may be in my hands!


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