Finally back in town after a brutal couple weeks of travel. I don’t really think the encounter with the gnolls could have ended better.
Well, I guess they could have all died from fear that the Bloodied Fist was really back to kill them all but who am I kidding. We were lucky to survive, and with 5 slaves to bring back no less. As a group we seem to be more cohesive in combat and I like how we are thinking our way through situations. I do fear the day when we don’t have time to plan tho, some of us still seem to act before reason. I find myself being hit more, savagely attacked to the point of one foot in the grave would be more like it. That has to stop. I need better armor yet this town has little and my cash is for other purposes just now. The options are simple, stop rushing into to combat to heal a companion that don’t know their own limits. That will be easier now as I’m out of poultices and the season for herbs to make them is long over. Hmmmm. I’m at a strange place in my life. Still very young with so much to learn yet I feel time is somehow missing. I just can’t explain it. Every 7 years the gnolls meet to decide their fate and we are right in the middle of it. Not only in the middle but passed off as fighters from ages past with great power and prestige among the gnolls. What are the odds. Two time lines intersect at the point we enter. Petronellas meeting with a purple robed man. She can’t communicate with him other than signals yet she learns he needs our help. He speaks yet no sound is heard, he draws on the ground yet the dirt is undisturbed, he looks behind her at something and when she turns there is nothing, then looks back and he is gone. They all think he was from another plane yet I’m not so sure. I feel time is at play, like he is in the right place but at a different point in time. The past, the future, who knows. The nine people in the expedition we met claim to have come from Fallcrest just days before and had been studying books about this lost city of Vor’Rukoth, yet we discovered that none here know anything about them. And these books they spoke of are unknown to the best of scholars in town. So I ask, when were they ACTUALLY here, days ago or years, or eons even, maybe they have yet to arrive……..Hell, even these bones we found are from the distant past so I ask. What does time have to do with all this??? And now I find a man that knew grandpa 20 some years ago before he was captured and thought dead at the hands of the gnolls. The more I read grandpa’s notes on gnolls the more I find his story to be false. Gnolls are brutal with slaves. They are either worked and tortured to death, sacrificed in rituals for knowledge or they become kryshtantals, savage souls that look like humans but are very deceptive, dangerous spies sent ahead of the gnoll forces to sabotage and gather information to help crush the enemy. And the Raven Queen help me but I feel we are the enemy. Grandpa was convinced that Caeden was killed and my thinking is that 20 years is a very long time to survive as a slave so my choice is clear. I shall go to my friends with what I suspect and tell them we must use this spy to our advantage. Hell, thinking about it any one of the 5 slaves or all of them could be spies. Best if we keep this knowledge to as few as possible. Despina is another that has been captured for a very long time. Petronella will not like my doubt about an Avenger of the Raven Queen, however, we must be very cautious in the next few weeks of what is made public knowledge as our very existence is at stake. These spies my even be of use if we plan it carefully. For the time being I shall keep my promise to Caeden and pay for his accommodations at the in Inn. One other thing to take care of before meeting with the group. I seem to have more funds for the soup kitchen so I must continue this journal later……
Apparently keeping quiet about the gnoll army is not in the towns best interests. Sariel, the Raven Queen’s Exarch spilled the beans this morning at the town gathering (it’s odd how she shows up every 7 years or so just as some disaster is about to befall Fallcrest). Nice way to keep calm in the town. Why not tell everyone there are gnoll spies in town too. Hell, lets just tell everyone to march north and surrender now, no point in trying to come up with a plan. Oh, wait, she has a plan. Let’s deplete all the food and resource stores in town for the Raven Queen to…. eat? I don’t know. What would she want with cabbage and the food for our livestock other than to ensure a whole lot of people die in the coming year. No point in trying to reason it out. We’ll just have to do the best we can. I do see lowtown suffering more than usual in the future in spite of my help. Think I may have to come up with another plan as the wealthy will not “willingly” give up their meager food supplies for any amount of gold. Sariel has agreed to deal with the gnoll army however for the supplies so I shouldn’t be too harsh. Just wish she wanted dust and dead crops instead. Lots of that around. Surprisingly, the Raven Queen is in need of a group of volunteers. Guess who THAT is. We follow her into the church for a private meeting. We find out that a rift is ground needs to be investigated by someone other than direct servants of the raven queen. It seems that some ward is on the rift that prevents their entry. It’s been their for eons yet nothing is known about it. Attempts have been made yet none have been successful, meaning none have returned alive to report their finding. The last attempt was 35 years ago. Hmmm, five times seven, thirty-five. Numbers in my head, just refusing to leave. We must leave right away so I go warn my family of what I suspect about Caeden. It’s a short visit and they seem skeptical until I show them grandpa’s journal and what he wrote about savage souls. I tell them to let the other farmers know as well as the innkeepers wife. She seems the most tight lipped as well as the most intelligent in the inn. And that includes most of the patrons.
The journey to the rift is a thousand miles yet is over in the blink of an eye. Sariel teleports us here. It’s odd that this is the farthest I will probably ever be from Fallcrest yet I feel no different than when I stand in my own back yard. I feel nothing, at all. Looking at the rift it spans miles across and as far as one can see to the sides. As the others discuss a way down I toss a rock over the edge. It takes some time as it bounces and skips off the side of the cliff but I swear the last thing I heard was a splash. Sariel tells us she will wait for 2 weeks for our return, no longer. We repel down throughout the day with drastic temperature changes along the way. Hot, then cold, repeat ad nauseum. Namib made it endurable at least. It takes the day but we finally reach the bottom. It’s a river of red, not blood but red water. We follow the river for a time and set up camp at a good spot. The night is quiet, surprisingly. The next we continue to follow the river and happen upon a waterfall. Looking over we see the blood red water disappear into a thin mist. How far it goes we do not know but since this is the end of the line we decide to go down once again. We’re a good half day down the cliff when the mists clear and we see what appears to be a man made bridge crossing a gorge at the bottom. We stop on one of the many small ledges to discuss this when Petronella notices the purple robed figure on a ledge above us. She tells us his robes appear in better condition than before and his color is more distinct. Other than that he is still unable to interact with this plane, or time…. After numerous attempts by Petronella to communicate with him it becomes apparent that he wants us to wipe the dust off the walls of the cliff. What we find is overwhelming. Everywhere we clean is an arcane sigil. And worse, as they are uncovered they start to glow. Whatever this rift is, it is protected by magics that far exceed any of our limited knowledge. I suspect even the Raven Queen would be hard pressed to make sense of it all. We should have made some copies of what we saw but the group feels we must press on so I keep my mouth shut. What do I know about this anyway? We carry on to the bottom only to find a man made entrance marked by a sigil in the shape of an upside down triangle with an eye in the center. That’s at least one I won’t forget. We walk down the hall only to be teleported into a round room when we reach the end. There are 10 portals around the outside wall, dead bodies hanging from chains adorn the room but the most disturbing sight is a stone face in the center of the room on the floor. The eyes are closed and the mouth open to reveal a twisting, magical portal. The word DEVOURER is etched in the floor below the head, like we didn’t know that. We have no time to move as suddenly two wraiths appear and charge in. It’s a tough fight as only Lheeland seems able to really hurt them, and when the wraiths realize who the real threat is they seem determined to kill him fast. Luckily, between us we are able to slow the wraiths movements if not outright stop them in their tracks. We defeat them with some luck on our side only to be starring at a room with 10 possible exits yet no way out. Hurm has been slowly tossing the hanging bodies into the open mouth on the floor. The bodies go in only to be spit back out as a pile of dust. Everyone else is standing around wondering what he’s doing. At least it’s something so I grab one and toss it in too. Same result though. We both abandon this course of action as futile when suddenly Hurm walks into a door only to reappear almost instantly. He’s moving slower, looks older and appears weaker. Lheeland tries the next door with different yet equally bad results. We’re stuck. Prisoners. Trapped. Someone think of something. I need out. They are standing around like it’s a picnic. Then suddenly I have a revelation. Of course the bodies were coming back out as dust, they were already dead. Only living may enter. And the portals return you to the room so they must obviously be some form of attunement to enter the mouth. It’s so obvious. Enter each door then go through the mouth. In hindsight it was not one of my better plans, but at least it WAS a plan. The rest of them just stared at me as I got progressively weaker, older, slower and deader. But by god I need OUT. By the sixth door I was feeling rather horrible and short one pair of gauntlets when Lheeland shoots some form of lightning at the face. The wards on the mouth dissipate and the way is clear. Are you kidding me, attacking a stone face on a floor makes it open its mouth. Really. COMEON. Would an arrow have worked too. Or maybe peeing on it would have sufficed. The next trap I find I’ll throw rocks at it and sing a lullaby. I have no one to blame but myself I suppose. Impatience is one of my faults, I admit it. Enough. I did what I did and that’s all I can say. I just hope the path ahead is a little more forgiving for impulsive behavior.
I find myself slowly dragging my feet, small feet. I’m the size of a bloody halfling. I feel weak and light headed after trying half a dozen portals in the last room. Not my best showing as I’m sure my companions has made some rather unflattering mental notes of my poorly thought out actions. I’m at the back of the group as we enter a large eating gallery. That’s what I would call it seeing as the numerous tables are full of delicious smelling food. We look around from the large entrance to see the walls covered in tapestries that hang from floor to ceiling depicting battles of times gone by. The odd thing is the time lines in the tapestries seem to be disjointed. In each scene their seems to be warriors from one era fighting beside those of another. The only thing this does is add to my theory that the time line is being manipulated. But what kind of being could do such a thing. I don’t believe even a god could do that. I’m thinking that those with some arcane training among us had better start wracking their brains about what sort of creature could do that as I’m quite certain it won’t be a natural animal. Anyway, back to the room. The tapestries are not just on the walls as the room is full of them hanging all over, blocking the view to the far side. As we slowly enter the room being careful not to move too close to anything, Namib decides to bee line straight to the fire burning in the middle of the room. SURPRISE. Undead appear from the magical fire and attack, like I expected a conversation. Namib quickly shifts back as he changes into a swarm of beetles(very cool). Unfortunately he moves beside a tapestry. It’s a freaking trap. Arms shoot out of it and try to grab him. Luckily they miss as I’m sure if he was wrapped up there he would have been surrounded and eaten one beetle at a time. With both Hurm and myself slowed and weak the fight takes much loner than it should. Again Lheeland is the only one able to truly harm these things so the most powerful enemy keeps moving some form of mist on top of him. It looked like it should have been very painful yet him walks out every time like it was nothing. Good thing he stayed away from the rest of us as the mist kept following just him. All I can do in this fight is hamper the enemies movements or attacks as in my weakened state I might as well be kicking these things.
With the fight finally over we get a change to rest. I need it bad as do a few others. The food looked good yet we were all afraid to try it. The rest is uneventful so we are good to go. Petronella and I try the food. I figure it can’t hurt now that I rested. Wish I tried it before as I’m sure it would have resulted in the same outcome as a rest without wasting the time, and time is something we don’t have.
The next big room we come to has us up on a ledge about 20 feet wide and 60 feet long with some form of necrotic sludge flowing across the far 30 feet or so. We walk to the edge to see the sludge falling over the side to be joined by a large amount flowing out from under the ledge we stand upon to the bottom some 70 feet below. Down the side of the cliff are a couple of small ledges about 30 – 35 feet down that are out of the sludge flow. On the far wall is another ledge about 30 feet down. At the very bottom of the pit is a round stone disc with 4 faces colored faces on it. They are green, yellow, red and blue. Just freaking traps is what they turn out to be. Again we find out the hard way. BOOM. How we got down was Hurms doing. He was able to fly down somehow with a rope that he attached to the floor. We all shimmy down only to be greeted by a blast. I notice an odd echo in the room tho, so I start shooting arrows at places in the wall. The one spot that the arrow doesn’t hit something solid is above the lone ledge on the opposite wall. We are able to grapple our way up to the ledge but are again faced with a solid waterfall of sludge. I do need to mention that Namib fell off the rope and into the sludge. I believe he was close to death before he climbed out and up with the rest of us. As we stand on the ledge starring at the sludge I can’t help but feel no one will take the lead after seeing me walk through portals so I take out my tent, drape it over myself and blindly walk into the waterfall. Hehe. I find myself in a dust covered hall that leads to a tomb. Up to now we have seen evidence of people coming before us, usually in the form of dead bodies or at least tracks in the dust. But here, nothing but undisturbed floor. Looking around I see writing on the walls. It’s a name. Mydianchlarus. If I could pronounce it I’m sure it would sound ominous.This is the third day from the top so we have four more before we need to turn back. I sure hope we start to find answers to our questions soon as it’s getting rather tedious to find trap after trap and not be trained in finding them other than to set them off. I feel a great weight on me as we have been tasked with finding answers to questions that have been going on for eons. What is this rift? Is it disturbing the time line? Who made it? What does the purple robed man have to do with it? Is he the one with the unpronounceable name? And if so, why is their a tomb for him when he is obviously alive? Or are we seeing him when he WAS alive???? My head hurts…………………
As the first one through the sludge waterfall I have some time to ponder. It seems to me that this is all one elaborate trap to discourage finding some……… thing. Information maybe. One thing is for sure, the wealth at the end of this trek must be inconceivable to have so may twists and turns and be guarded with such elaborate traps. In truth I care not as wealth will not prevent the destruction of Fallcrest at the hands of the gnolls. I’m not sure what we can do but I am sure if we loose, many gnolls will have died by my hand before I go.
In the name of the Raven Queen, what is taking them. If I hadn’t aged by some magical means a few rooms ago I swear I would this old from the wait. They are probably drawing straws to see who should go next, or Leehland and Hurm are no doubt having a philosophical discussion about whether one straw can truly be shorter than another.
I decide to walk ahead to scout it out. What I find is not pleasant. A large room is before me with a floor that is covered is bones and other disgusting decomposing body parts. Leading across the room is a 3 foot wide bone bridge supported by a boney flesh covered column every 30 feet or so. At each column are two paths as well, although one leads to a blank wall while the other continues down the middle of the room. There are 3 or 4 such pillar/intersection spots before the other end of the room. As I’m standing, pondering what may lie beyond the blank walls the others finally catch up. After a short discussion we decide to just bee line for the other end of the room. We are not quite half way when we are ambushed by one hell of a lot of ghosts. Petronella charges ahead to keep them occupied while the rest of us ineptly attack the walls, bridge, air, anything but the target. The battle quickly turns ugly for us as the ghosts surround us and pound us hard. Leehland is rocked and knocked off the bridge not 10 feet from me. I see when he lands he is unconscious and sinking into the boney soup of the floor. I’m surrounded by ghosts but am able to push them far enough away to jump off the bridge and grab his hand just as he was going under. Not to be too modest, but let’s just say he was a goner if I waited at all before jumping down. The rest of the fight for us was mostly slogging slowly though the disgusting floor as the ghosts focused on those on the bridge. We blasted or shot what we could but were mostly ineffective in this fight. In all honesty I’ve been feeling rather ineffective since this weakened state has overtaken me. I hope I can shake it soon as I’m about ready to scream. My companions clear the room, Leehland and I climb up and we carry on.
The next room is much smaller than the last, round with walls covered in runes. I’m told some are magical and some just writing. It the writing tells of a being named Mydianchlarus. A being of great power who was responsible for defeating 5 great entities. Their names were Zimimar, Rimmon, Bune, Anarazel and Socothbenoth. None of us have heard of these beings or this Mydianchlarus dude. Whether or not we have heard of him seems irrelevant as the story continues to say this man was the ruler of a great tower of power, and that beings from other planes HAD heard of his deeds and would travel great distances to meet him. Some were have said to have sworn fealty to him. To what end is not said. Did they create a huge army to defeat some unknown enemy, or were they in fact the enemy that were depicted on the tapestries that different generations of man joined to fight. Hmmmmmm. We learn nothing else so we look around for the way out. It turns out to be tunnel 50 feet in the air. Petronella goes first and reports it is a fairly easy climb but to be careful as half way up she felt discomfort. Discomfort my ass. Hurm and I barely make it to the top while Leehland and Namib would have died if I hadn’t used my healing skills to stop whatever was happening to them. At least we know what the magical runes were. Some form of trap that would inflict physical pain just from contact. Stupid room.
The top is a sight to behold and we all forget about any lingering pain we may feel. It’s a hallway made of solid gold walls and ceiling with such intricate patterns carved upon it that it would take a master craftsman a lifetime just to do 10 feet, and this hallway is 100 at least. The walk down the hall was a blur as I couldn’t keep my eyes off the carvings, yet oddly if you asked me what the patterns were I couldn’t draw it let alone tell you. So I won’t.
We are standing at the top of some stairs that enter into a room about 30 or 40 feet square with a large, 4 armed gargoyle in the center on a pedestal. Along each wall are more pedestals sticking out of them. Petronella is quick to approach the gargoyle to, I don’t know, wake it up I assume. I’m a little more cautious as I’m still moving rather slow so I spend some time looking at the pedestals on the walls. I notice that one of them at the top is actually a sarcophagus with a pile of copper coins on it and sword sticking out. The odd thing about it though is that the coins and sword should be on the floor as they are on the side of the sarcophagus. Namib decides to toss a torch up to hit some coins off, they do fall, but to the wall. Before any of us can talk about what we just saw, Petronella succeeds in waking the gargoyle. Unlike the last room this fight is different. We lay into it hard before it can fly out of reach. Suddenly I see Petronella running up the wall to the ceiling? Did I just see that?? Hurm is able to blast the creature and knock it prone and it falls. Up. To land right beside the waiting Petronella. Hehe. If I didn’t know better I’d swear we are becoming more of a group than a ragtag bunch of kids who though they could make a difference. This fight was an epiphany for me as I now realize this is what I was meant to do. We CAN make a difference, and when we return to Fallcrest, I know of an army of gnolls that will see what 5 determined heroes can do… sorry, I’m rambling. It’s just that I was proud to see how we handled not only the gargoyle but all the twists and turns this tomb had thrown at us. It IS a tomb by the way. It’s the final resting place of Mydianchlarus. The runes on the sarcophagus tell a little more about his life, and give the name of his tower……Kin-Oin. The blood and body fragments on the sarcophagus tell a completely different story. Those of us with some healing and arcane skills are able to determine that the body of Mydianchlarus was completely destroyed by some foul ritual. Now the questions arise. Why, and who. If he was such a great man, why destroy the body, unless his rebirth requires such a thing. Was this revenge for the 5 entities he destroyed? Did he not really destroy those 5, only imprison them and they escaped to seek revenge. We have as many questions as we have answers. I will think on it as I slay gnolls in the coming weeks. Back to the surface we go and to Fallcrest we sleep.