Pathfinder - Origin of the Merchant King

Heroes Assemble!
In which the group gathers with little information recorded.

Destroyed earth elemental infestation, borrowed horse and cart.

Delivered goods to farmer, slaughtered goblins.

– Two Days Pass –

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Funny Happenings in the Warehouse
In which we pick up a thread of conspiracy.

Resupplied, bought a mule.

Inquiring about bandits that are ambushing merchant’s wagons. Precious metals, gems. Inside job? Probably not, fired entire staff and has all new employees. Manifest is filed with the city, but other merchants have been targeted. Bandits seem to have deep numbers, and overwhelm the guards that are assigned to shipments.

Alissa files a manifest that we will be delivering gems, platinum, and other materials. Will be shipped the next day.

- Day Passes -

Rand was stowed in the wagon, a clever ruse.

As we traveled, something attempted to grab Jared!

Bandits charge out of the woods!

We dispatch the bandits, and Graddock charms one of them to glean some information. Who’s the boss? Rickman. He leads the band of bandits, there are about 12 of them, but we’ve killed five. Once we found out where the bandits were at, I figured we’d gotten enough out of the bandit that had been charmed and knocked him unconscious. We then donned the bandits’ cloaks and made our way to their camp.

We made our way up a path to the top of a small plateau. Two guards were standing outside a rickety gate. Rand attempted to bluff our way in, but the guards were skeptical so he blasted them with burning hands and we leapt into action.

We slew them and only Rickman was left saddling his horse.

I told him to stand down, and he stepped away from the horse.

“What are you doing here?” asked Keri.

We bantered a bit, but Rickman had information we could use about how they were getting information on the wagons. After much discussion, we let him go, but we did come away with the name of his contact, Remus Fitz, and the location and time of his next meet.

We returned to the merchant, Felstan, to report the news and return his gold.

We then rested and prepared for the meet.

- Day Passes -

I spent my day staking out the warehouse, but nothing of note happened. Everyone else spent their time scouring for information on Remus Fitz.

Graddock made his way around town trying to track down Fitz, but came up with nothing.

That night Jared picked the lock and we waited within for Fitz to show up. Jared posed as the bandit leader.

Just before midnight, a wagon enters the warehouse and we all wait in suspense to see if the ruse works. Jared waves to the cart as it enters.

Then nothing.

Jared waits.

Finally, Jared moves toward the wagon and gets right next to it. He sees the driver’s hands are tied.

KABOOM!

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Five for Dinner
In which we get cooked, then cooked for.

Jared was blown to smithereens, but the rest of us took minimal damage.

Keri quickly channeled energy to heal us. Rand inspected the driver of the wagon and it turned out to be Alissa from the clerk’s artist. Keri healed everyone again and kept her from dying. Black powder must have caused the explosion.

After we escape from the burning warehouse Alissa awakes. Turns out she was kidnapped and placed on the wagon. We took her home and headed over to Felstad’s place.

Once there, Felstad didn’t answer the door, so I busted it in. We made our way up to his apartment and I kicked that door in as well. Inside we made our way into the bedroom and didn’t find him. The next room was a kitchen. Finally, we came to an office which looked like someone had cleared out very quickly. Fortunately, we found scraps of paper left behind in a waste basket.

“34” “mis” “ay” “ore” “w” “ty” “e” “71” “nt”

As we were pouring over the scraps of paper the town watch entered. We placed our weapons on the ground and agreed to turn ourselves in on charges of breaking and entering. Graddick and Keri got into a small disagreement about what to do with Toad, but Graddock eventually relented and put Toad back down.

We were placed in a cell and Keri was taken away for questioning. Keri was grilled about what he does and was asked for references. He told the watch we were checking on Felstad because we were afraid he was in danger. He let a little white lie slip, but his conscience got the best of him and he amended his story to include the explosion.

“And then you rummaged around in his living quarters?”

“Mmm hmm,” grunted Keri.

When asked for a leader of the group, Keri told him he obviously wasn’t it.

They then took me in for questioning, which was fairly routine.

Rand was then taken. When asked his name, watch recognized his father’s name. He turned over the name Remus Fitz. He then recounted our daring adventures at length to the watch. With no prompting he spilled out everything we had done up until that point.

“Is there a ringleader?”

“A ringleader implies criminal activity, so I’d say there isn’t one,” Rand replied.

Graddick was then taken in and immediately confronted with resisting arrest. He tried to explain how Toad is his “pet.” The watch took a hard tack with him and really tried to pry out some details about what we’re doing and who we’re working for.

“Who is in charge?”

“You know, I’m starting to question that. Arnok’s will is what we do,” Gradlock eventually concluded.

He backed up Keri’s sentiment of alerting the authorities. Then he continued on with our story of how we found the papers and kept rambling about how we could have stolen everything from Felstad.

Finally, Jared was taken in. His brotherly relationship with Keri came up immediately. His occupation as Mad Barry’s apprentice cast a poor color upon his character. He then talked about bombs and was taken for a full cavity search.

They then came back for me. I told them I was employed by Jared and they sent me back in order to speak with him again.

Jared started going on about the duergar we might take on.

“The duergar may have stuff that I want!” Jared exclaimed.

“Stuff that you want?” the watch murmered.

Jared then passed the leadership icon over to Keri. They tossed him back in the cell and we spent the rest of the night in lock-up.

- Day Passes -

In the morning we were let go. Rand received a message from his father expressing his disappointment.

We made our way over to a cartographer’s in order to search for a map. Rand went back with the cartographer to look for a Misty Way, possibly in Oregent. After a search through their archives he was able to locate Misty Way in the city. Looks like we’ll be on our way after Felstad.

We then decided to walk to Oregent as we were a bit low on funds and couldn’t afford enough horses to get there. I threw my armor into the mule’s pack.

The first night a wolf leapt out of the darkness and narrowly missed me. My startled yell awoke my companions, and we fought off the beasts.

- Day Passes -

We made our way or Oregent and found an inn to stay at.

- Day Passes -

In the morning we made our way out into town in order to look for the address we got from the papers. We started our way from 11000 Misty Way and headed toward 7000 or 3000. As we made our way through town the buildings became much fancier and opulent. We hit 7134 which was a walled in property with a gate.

Gladloc made his way over to some of the locals to inquire about the address we were at. They were not very helpful, other than it was likely a residence of someone here. Gaddrock then stuck Toad through the gate and reported a sense of awe. Eventually we find out Mr. Widesman lives in the house from passersby.

We then made our way to 3471, which was a nice house with not wall or gate. Keri knocked at the door while I went around back. An elderly woman answered the door, Ms. Buchanan. Her husband works in the mayor’s office.

We decided the more opulent residence was more likely our target. Graddink and Rand made off to find the merchant’s guild to find information about Felstad. I stayed with the brothers and watched over the house. Grabbock picked up a trail that led back to Olfden, which wasn’t leading anywhere. They then started asking about Remus Fitz, but to no avail.

There was no activity at the house, but a wagon pulled up as we were watching. We tailed the wagon for a bit. They work for Rackman Inc. We slipped 10gp to the wagon driver in exchange for the order.

Food

Ale

Wine

Deliver to: Mr. Widesman

Rand was sent in to speak with Rackman Inc. He was unable to get any information about Felstad, but was able to confirm the delivery to Widesman. Much discussion ensued.

We eventually decided to speak with the Watch first. Keri asked for the captain and was rebuffed, but Lt. Albertson would be able to assist us. We wait for 35 minutes for the lieutenant to meet with us. Upon saying we were from Olfden he escorted us to a quiet room to take our statement. Grabok went through the long and entire history of our situation. Lt. Albertson was intrigued by the tale and would have an investigator dispatched to the residence.

Keri and I stayed outside the house, but no investigators showed up.

- Day Passes-

Mid-morning, watchmen make their way to the gate while Keri and I sleep for a bit. They were in the house for close to an hour and left. Eventually the Watch shows up at our door to deliver an invitation from Mr. Widesman for dinner.

We were let into the gate for dinner.

“Five for dinner. Excelsior,” the servant muttered.

We waited in the dinner and once dinner was served Felstad entered the room. We sat for dinner with Felstad/Widesman, but only Rand and Gladik ate with him.

Rand put the question to him about putting Alissa in danger, and he said she was a pawn.

The choice he posed to us was to a) run for our lives, b) do a job for him, or c) suffer the consequences.

After further discussion, we agreed to do the job. We were escorted out.

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Getting the heck out of Oregent
In which we fake a murder and negotiate with evil dwarves

We discussed what we would do. Felstad tasked us to kill Tristan Corvair, but we were not interested in this sort of deal. We would meet Tristan in the morning.

– Day Passes –

We made our way to Tristan’s business and I strode through the door of the antiquities dealer shop. It wasn’t a large store, and fairly plain. A half-orc stood by a door to the back, and a halfling running the counter.

In order to get in, we said we were buying. We checked our weapons and headed into the sales floor. The room we entered was much larger and better lit. Showcases abound, weapons, armor, rings, wands, all sorts of interesting looking equipment. Tristan and a young man were speaking with another customer.

We spoke with Edward and told him we’d wait to speak with Tristan. Jared embarked on a small journey to find books about alchemy and came up with a single tome.

Tristan finished his business with the customer and met with us. Keri asked for a private place to talk and he took us to a room and shut the door.

“We have reason to believe your life is in danger,” Keri told him.

We gave him the names Felstad and Widesman, the later he was familiar with. We discussed the details of why Felstad wanted us to kill Tristan. After some talking, Tristan told us he had acquired a scrying device and assumed it was similar to other types of items he had found. After acquiring it the wizard he had on retainer, Richard Jackson, checked out the device. When the wizard attempted to interface with the stone, he found it had the ability to store things. They say what appeared to be a scrying session involving Widesman giving the order to kill a city councilman, Dr. Nicolas Claws. The councilman was killed nearly a year ago.

Tristan believes there are members of the city guard on his payroll. He also believes he is part of some sort of organized crime.

His plan was to run from Widesman and abandon his shop. He trusts Eduard and the halfling, Krem.

We started to formulate a plan to fake Tristan’s death. Turns out, Tristan has a piece of jewelry that has been passed down in his family for hundreds of years. All we’d have to do is turn up some bodies and blow the shop up.

With our plan in place, we headed over to the mortuary to find a body. Bran was sent in to claim the body of his “half-brother Jared.” Bran was rather flip as he negotiated with the morose caretaker, and headed in to identify one of the John Doe’s in the back.

The next step was to find a way to get Tristan out of the city. We brainstormed and decided to smuggle Tristan out in a box full of “loot” rather than find smugglers to get him out.

– Day Passes –

The next day we returned to Tristan’s while Jared worked on making a bomb. Eduard lead us back to the conference room and we spoke with Tristan again. Other options to get out came up, either through an old sewer that runs under the show room, or through the roof. Tristan brought out items we would “loot” the next day, and describe the orb.

We went next door to the rug shop. I tried to talk my way up to the roof, but got tired of dealing with the rug dealer and just threw money at him.

– Day Passes –

We headed out, rug and bomb in hand. Keri headed over to Tristan’s to wait for us. We picked up the body and headed over to the shop.

Bomb. Body. Rug.

We approached the door and I kicked the door in. We placed the body near the bomb, and I stabbed it a few times for good measure. The fuse was set and the brothers headed out the front door while Rand and I took Tristan to the roof where we rolled him up. We made our way out the roof and headed out the back of the rug dealer’s place.

Everything seemed to be going well. Tristan was sent out with the brothers and Rand and I went to speak with Widesman. At the gate gave the butler the necklace. He handed us money, which I kicked at him and as he walked away I spat in his tracks. We then met up with the brothers and Tristan outside of town.

We then decided to head back to Olfden.

– Day Passes –
– Day Passes –

We arrived in Olfden in the evening.

Rand went to check on Alissa to see how she was doing. She was happy to see Rand, and invited herself out to dinner with him. We poked around town and found the duergars were still an issue.

We met with a shady character who was interested in the duergar who appeared to be moving in to the east of town. We agreed to talk with the duergar in the morning.

– Day Passes –

We took a 2-3 hour walk out to the hills to speak with the gray dwarves.

The dwarves had put up an 8’ tall fence. Keri cast Detect Evil so he could see evil as we were dealing with the dwarves. We asked to meet with the head of the settlement. Based on my estimate, there were 5-10 dwarves.

Apparantly, a citizen of Olfden stole the Relic of Antimar, Hasad Walker.

We went back to speak with our contact, and were given an offer of 100gp for the removal of the duergar.

Rather than going and gutting the dirty dwarves, we looked for Hasad Walker. After a few hours, Rand turned up a woman who had seen Hasad Walker’s mausoleum. We headed over there to see if there was anything of note.

We quickly found the mausoleum, and Jared found a trap door within. Upon opening the door…

Skeletons burst from the walls of the tomb!

We quickly dispatched the skeletons and headed down the shaft below the trap door.

At the bottom we found a rough, hewn stone corridor. I lead the way down the corridor when we ran upon a swarm of rats!

Jared and I contracted filth fever from the rats. In two days, the fever would set in.

We continued down the tunnel and found Hasad hiding at the end of it. After a short talk, Keri prodded me enough that I pulled my sword to slay whatever Hasad was (werewolf).

Finally, I tripped him and Jared was able to kill him off.

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"But I feel just fine!"
In which our heroes decided to save Jared from lycanthrope

Jared informed us we had killed a werewolf, but he might turn into one because he was a bitten. Rand was able to tell us more about the disease, specifically that we would have to find a powerful cleric or a potion within three days.

We dug around for the Relic of Antimar and found it. In addition to the Relic of Antimar, we found a cloak (Cloak of Resistance +1) and a mace of excellent make. After some discussion, we decided to investigate the relic and send the brothers to speak with Keri’s order about curing a curse.

Rand and I checked out a previous contact. The man didn’t know what the artifact was for, but he did read about it being some kind of dwarven relic. Supposedly, the power of the relic is generated by the battles that were fought over it.

Keri returned to the temple he was raised at. He was glad and heartened to see his former teachers. After some small talk, he brought up the filth fever and curse Jared was saddled with. The cleric gave Keri directions to the Temple of Sarenre to meet a great healer named Maxim.

Meanwhile, Jared returned to Old Mad Barry to talk about his curse that he may have. After some crazy talk between the two, and a review of his findings. Jared handed Barry a vial of caviar, which pleased the crazy old man. When Jared mentioned being bitten by a werewolf, Barry’s eyes lit up. He checked Jared over, poked at the wound and took a sample of blood.

While Jared was being examined, Keri made his way to the Temple of Sarenre to find Maxim. He was ushered in to meet Maxim at the mention of lycanthrope. The healer was a wise old man who liked to talk very slowly. In order to get the blessing, Maxim asked that Keri investigate the Harrowfort Monastery which was dedicated to the god Abadar. Many years ago, something had happened at the monastery. In order to stave off the curse, Keri was given a vial of liquid which Jared could take.

Jared awoke and Barry sent him on his way.

We all met at the inn after a few hours.

Jared and I went to the temple of Iomade to cure our filth fever. While we did that, Keri and Rand went looking for a dwarf to ask about the Relic of Antimar. The dwarves they found didn’t know about the relic. They also looked through the library, but came up with nothing.

We then decided it would be more important to get Jared healed, so we rested for the night and headed off to the monastery.

– Day Passes –

We arrived at the monastery. It was a fairly large building with two stories that was made of stone. Some windows were located on the building, but many of them were blocked with boards and refuse. The finely carved doors had been defaced, but they were still sealed.

I checked the door to see if it was unlocked, but it was barred. I kicked the door in and the doors burst open to reveal a dimly lit entryway. Rotted benches lined the walls covered in a film of dust. Keri and Rand spotted some odd marks in the dust which looked like trails weaving through the dust.

Jared immediately wandered off to find out where the trails were coming from. I followed and the light from my sword spilled onto the hallway. Several dismembered hands crawled from the hallway towards us. Upon killing one of the hands it exploded into puss which was disgusting and horrifically damaging. Turns out smashing the hands keeps them from exploding, and we defeated them.

We started down the hallway and found it was lined with monastic cells. Rotted sleeping mats, rats, trash and other detritus was within the cells. The second cell held two zombies, but nothing of note. In the corner was a larger office-like room. The books were rotting and filled with information about Abbadar. We did find a locked drawer. I attempted to pull it out, but pulled the handle off. Jared attempted to pick the lock, but was unable to. We decided to to smash it open. Within we found a crumbling parchment and a black velvet bag. Within the bag were a handful of gems which I handed over to Jared.

We then opened up a storeroom which was full of rotted dry goods. Keri found well preserved rations within the storeroom. Further down the hall we found a room that was at one time a mess hall filled with skeletons. The champion skeleton proved to be difficult, but Rand blasted it with some disruption to finish it off. After the fight, we found a breastplate, a heavy steel shield, and a masterwork longsword.

We then headed into the large chamber of worship. After a bit of searching Jared disappeared from the room as he stumbled upon a hidden staircase.

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Bad touches
In which we cleanse a tainted church and I get touched a lot

Jared found himself at the bottom of a flight of stairs in a dark room. He was able to get back out with little trouble and asked us to head down. We decided to return to the room after searching through the rest of the floor we were on.

I opened the door leading out of the worship chamber. We found more empty cells and a storage chamber, then opened the door at the end of the hall. The room appeared to be a larger living space with an office lined with books. Jared was excited as he started flipping through the histories about the monastery.

As Jared was searching through the books a shade appeared from the corner of the room and attacked me. It’s touch was chilling and sapped by strength. I knew I would be a burden in this fight and had to make room for the cleric and sorcerer to deal with it. The battle was tough, but Keri and Rand were able to disrupt the shadow enough to destroy it. I was severely weakened and would need some rest before I would be able to get back into the fight. Jared managed to find a jeweled holy symbol which we would be able to turn around a tidy profit on.

It was decided we would return to town in order to rest a bit. We received some healing from the temple and I felt nearly back to my normal self.

– Day Passes –

During the night, Jared noticed some additional hair growing around his bite wound. A stroke of discretion passed over him and he didn’t mention the oddity of his bite.

We returned to the monastery in order to cleanse it fully.

We noticed what appeared to be an overgrown garden. I poked at it a bit, but found nothing interesting. Rand burned it to the ground. Close to it we found a gardening room filled with seeds.

We opened the final door on the first floor and found another officiate’s dwelling. Jared stepped in to inspect the books to find they were about gardening in general. He found some books about herbal lore.

The first floor was cleared, so we headed back to the hidden passage.

I lead the way down the steps and turned the corner.

Darts shot out of the wall, harrying us as we made our way through the halls. Keri was distraught, but I knew we would have to push through the traps in order to get to the bottom of this hidden chamber.

At the end of the all we found a well lit chamber. Within we found a puzzle. Tiles with letters carved into them were laid into the floor and this riddle was carved into the wall.

Don’t grow to attached to this thing.
Without it you will never even know it is gone.
But be careful wanderer, it is much easier to lose on this soil.

We were stumped. After some work, I eventually poked “L” with Jared’s cudgel. Nothing happened, so I step on it. I then poked the adjacent “E” and flames shot out of it. I decided to leap to the “I” and was safe upon it. “LI” was a good start, but we still didn’t know what the answer was. Eventually, with a bit of burning and horribleness, I made my way across and spelled out “LIFE”.

Seeing me get across, Jared nimbly made his way over. Rand got over easily, but Keri stumbled when leaping to the “E” at the end of the puzzle. The flames consumed him and he passed out as the pain was too much to bear. I pulled him out of the fire, and we resuscitated him.

We entered the tunnel, and Keri was waiting for more of “my” darts to stab him. At the end we found locked iron doors. Jared attempted to pick the lock, but was unsuccessful. I stepped back and kicked the doors into the to reveal a room with an enormous alter.

Upon the door was a small demon with ram’s horns.

“Excellent, you have finally made it!”, the demon cackled.

Skeletons closed in on us and feebly attacked. I smashed one to pieces and pushed Jared back into the hall out of danger. The imp blinked out of sight as I bashed the skeletons, then appeared behind us and attacked Jared. The alchemist was prepared for the attack and was nipped lightly. His counter attack was much more devastating as he clawed at Jared.

Keri rushed to his brother’s side to fight off the demon. As the brothers fought off the imp, Rand and I battered the skeletons into dust. I turned by attention to the imp. Jared was knocked unconscious by the imp. We finally fought the demon into a corner and Jared was able to destroy it after Keri healed him.

“My master will meet you one day,” the imp choked out as it faded away.

Upon searching the altar room, we found a demonic idol that would fetch some gold along with a potion, a scroll, and a hat.

We headed back to the temple in order to get Jared’s curse removed.

– Day Passes –

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Snakes? Who cares?
In which we find out that there is such a thing as too much head

As we were walking through the town in the morning Keri spotted an old friend. We were then introduced to Priest and Chen. I asked Priest to weigh in on the duergar problem.

Much was discussed and we eventually began speaking about going back to kill Widesman.

We finally agreed to go speak with duergar and find out what they want to do with the amulet. Before doing that, we decided to take a rest in order to recover more from the outing at the cursed temple.

– Day Passes –

Morning broke and we headed off to see the duergar.

We arrived at the encampment and found they have been fortifying the camp. Stones and mortar have now been added to the camp. As we approached, the duergar hailed us.

“Have you returned what we seek?” the guard called.

“No, we need more information,” Jared tried to lie to him.

“Wait here,” he responded.

Jared quickly ate a mutagen and tried to stare down the other. The duergar returned with the leader of the clan we had been talking with. He and Jared sparred back and forth, but Jared was far outmatched. We then spun on our heels and were given the ultimatum to turn the amulet over.

We began discussing our options. We then decided to try and have a copy of it made by the local jeweler. The jeweler didn’t have any dwarven jewelry on hand. I got sick of the conversation and suggested we talk to the mayor’s office to rustle up some militia.

We met with the Mayor’s representative. I asked if we could rustle up the militia to wipe out the duergar. We were directed to speak with Major Greenway, the head of the town watch.

We met up with Major Greenway to speak to him about getting reinforcements. We were ushered into a room at the Watch.

“The duergar have threatened the town, and will sack it tomorrow night,” Jared told the man.

Jared spoke to the man about the amulet and managed to throw us in an incriminating light. Once Jared demanded we get reinforcements the man said he wouldn’t be able to authorize the action. We then left and headed back to the inn.

We finally came up with a plan. We would head back, tell the duergar to leave then send back an escort to obtain the amulet after breaking down their camp.

– Day Passes –

In the morning we prepared ourselves for the meeting with the duergar.

“Did you bring the amulet!” the guards shouted.

“Yes,” Priest told them and laid out our terms.

The guard left to go over our terms. The duergar agreed to send all but five from the camp. One of the dwarves moved in closer to inspect the amulet. After that, the dwarves ripped apart the camp. After an hour, most of the dwarves began heading west leaving a contingent of warriors to retrieve the amulet.

During the work we waited outside camp.

Once the majority of the dwarves were out of sight, we approached the warriors they left behind. I tossed the amulet at their feet.

“Would you share some of the wonders of the relic with us?” Priest asked.

The dwarf told us it was an important religious relic. As the dwarves marched off Chen noticed holes that had been left behind which had been recently excavated. I began uncovering them.

Once I had cleared enough rubble off I ventured into the hole. The rest of the group then followed me into the hole which headed off toward the town. We traveled for a long distance when suddenly Chen and Jared heard something in the tunnels which sounded like snakes.

I kept moving through the tunnel, who cares about a few snakes? What about a giant snake? How about a hydra with five heads?

I started chopping heads off, Chen punched it in the faces, Jared furiously started an fire and Priest kept us alive as we minced the hydra. We eventually got into a disassebly line and took it apart. We got it down to two heads when it finally got through Jared’s defenses and took him down. Priest stepped up and started burning the heads and we were able to defeat it.

Once I was able to take a good look at the area I noticed we were directly under town, thanks to my ability to determine where I was underground. The hydra would have been able to break out into town and kill everyone it came across. While I was scoping out the tunnel Chen noticed a shabby robe and a gemstone wrapped up within it. When Jared put the robe on he noticed it had undead figures stitched into it.

We made our way back to the beginning of the hole and rested up for a bit.

– Day Passes –

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Die goblin, die!
In which we meet new forms of life and then kill them

In the morning we decided to head down the other cavern, while Chen stayed to watch the mouth of the tunnel.

Priest lit up my sword and I lead the way through the tunnel, squatting down like one of those filthy dwarves. After a hike that was about as long as the other we came upon a partially buried dwarf. Jared went to slice off his fingers, and noticed the body was burned. Rand then noticed there were scorch marks just outside our radius of light.

I continued on, but we came to a dead end. The cavern widened out to about 20 feet across. Three duergar were scattered through the room, all of them burnt badly. There was an entrance that had been since covered with stone. Jared sat down to prepare a potion that would help him detect secret doors. Rand scavenged up some lumps of gold and silver from the bodies, probably coins at one time.

I waited with Jared while he prepared his potion. Rand did a bit more sleuthing to attempt to determine what had caused the fire. Jared’s potion revealed nothing.

After the fact finding, I decided to kick down the rocks. Beyond it, I saw a dim flickering glow. I kicked down more rocks, enough to get a better look at what was in the tunnel.

The room beyond was similar to the room the hydra was in. The room held a globe of fire, with scorched walls all about it. Rand attempted to detect magic, and saw the globe was radiating powerful magics. Priest tried to plumb his knowledge for something useful, but didn’t come up with anything. I got tired of the scholars attempting to deduce things from it, so I chucked a rock at it. The rock passed right through it and came out scorched on the other side.

We then decided to make our way in, so I knocked enough of the rocks down to get in. I stepped in and didn’t blow up.

Rand and Priest started doing their magic thing.

After some time Rand said, “I thought these were myths, but this appears to be a living spell.”

Jared tossed a duergar finger at it. The fireball consumed it and attacked us!

“No fireball, we’re not here to hurt you!” Jared shouted as Rand and I beat it to embers.

Jared tossed me a resist elements potion, which allowed me to stand in the fireball without being hurt too badly. The ball enlarged as it fed off the combustible parts of our clothing.

We battled on and the creature got it hooks into Priest. I charged it from behind and killed it. As it died it exploded, leaving Priest in a serious amount of pain.

I wiped the ashes off my sword and we headed back out and into town.

We met with our contact at the mayor’s office.

“You’re back again. Have you taken care of the problem?”

Jared threw the duergar fingers at the assistant. He handed over the bounty for taking care of the duergar.

– Several Weeks Pass –

During the intervening weeks, Rand and I started tracking down information on Widesman again while Jared and Priest stayed in town and researched and did charitable deeds respectively.

After returning to Olfden, we were relaxing at the inn. The mayor’s aid, Alderson, burst into the tavern and made his way to us immediately imploring for our assistance. We followed him to city hall to meet with the mayor.

The mayor, a very handsome and charming man, spoke in a slightly worried voice which was odd for such a charismatic man.

“Excellent. You have come,” he said as we entered.

Alderson brought in refreshments and we seated ourselves in the office.

“I know you have done services for the town in the past. This request is not just for the town, but for me personally. Two days ago, my daughter was kidnapped and taken to an encampment in the Norgotha Peaks. I have received a ransom note from a war chief, Maal,” he told us.

The mayor handed over a hand written note with Maal’s signature on it.

“If you want your young one alive, then vacate your town,” was written on the note.

“I sent two squads of Eagle Knights after the war chief, but only two men returned,” the mayor went on.

The war band was composed of goblins and hobgoblins. The knights reported seeing something large, perhaps an ogre, but they weren’t positive. The mayor was unable to send more men due to the goblin warrens as the goblins would wipe out the men he sends into their territory. Since we have experience with fighting in the caves, he thought we might be able to do it.

We were outfitted with provisions the town could provide; rations and a handful of curing potions.

– Days pass –

We made our way to the foothills and quickly realized we were in the right spot when we came upon the crucified bodies of ten Eagle Knights.

I made my way to the top of the hill to take down the bodies. I was able to see into the valley from the vantage point. About 100 yards from the hill there was an entrance to the warrens. There were a handful of goblinoid creatures milling about the entrance.

We decided to wait until nightfall before making our approach.

We made our way to about two hundred feet from the entrance when I decided to just head in. Rand held me back while he prepared for the attack. Once he was ready I stood up and brandished my sword.

I started charging the goblins, screaming on the way as I headed in. They started firing upon me, but I brushed the incoming missiles away. Rand launched magic missiles past me at the goblins.

Metal screeched against bone and I lopped the head off the closest goblin, but the sneaky little bastards sprang out of the shadows behind us and attacked Jared and Priest.

I soaked up a handful of goblins as one of the hobgoblins ran off into the warrens. Rand stepped up to intervene on Priest’s behalf, and Jared swatted two down quickly.

Rand struggled to fend off the goblins, but Jared was quick to rip the hobgoblin apart before it harried him too much. The oracle came under fire from the straggling hobgoblin, while I started cutting down the goblins that had surrounded me.

Rand backed up further, closer to Priest, and blasted the goblins with his burning hands. One of the goblins perished in the fire, but the other barely survived the hit. Jared let loose with everything, but the hobgoblin was able to parry each of the blows. I cut down another goblin, and continued to back up toward the rest of the pary.

Priest started channeling energy to keep the rest of the party alive. Jared bore down on the hobgoblin, crushing his shield between his horrible mutated jaws. I cut down the remaining goblin and backed up closer to the party only to have the hobgoblin next to me spit an insult at my seeming cowardice. Rand melted a goblin, leaving a hobgoblin staring him down. The numbers were looking better, but we still had some work to do.

Jared was in dire straits, but Priest was able to get next to him and unleash his new moderate curing spell. One more swing put the hobgoblin in the grave, and I ran over to assist Priest.

Jared finally got over his funk and bit through the last hobgoblin’s leg.

We made our way into the warrens, and were welcomed by a much larger cavern than the dwarven ones we had gone through. We saw a bright flickering light ahead, and the cavern opened up ahead of us. We figured the best way to spring the trap was to just head on in, and we were greeted by two enormous ogres.

I waded in, thinking about eating Jared’s Puke Potion, but not knowing what it might do I decided to just stick an ogre. Jared then stepped in and showed me how the the disgusting thing worked. We stood toe to toe with the ogres and I did my best to deflect the blows they attempted to rain upon Jared.

Unfortunately, the ogres bashed Jared in the face and he went down, but the swarm fought on. Priest was able to heal Jared, then put a sanctuary around him. Rand cut one of the ogres down, and the other rounded on me and nearly put me into the ground.

Jared got back into the fight and finished off the ogre when I was unable to completely gut it.

We searched the room, finding treasure and two tunnels leading away from where we were.

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The spinx's riddle
In which we solve a riddle and battle the elements

We rested in the room we slew the ogres in.

– Day passes –

There was a large door leading out of the room which was composed of iron and other materials. Jared attempted to open the lock up so we could get the chain off, but was unsuccessful. I attempted to slice the chain in twain, but could not. Without a mark on the chain we decided to head down the open hallway.

At the end of the hall we encountered a double door. Jared noticed nothing extraordinary about the door and there was no keyhole to peek through, so I kicked the door in.

Unfortunately, it was not enough to surprise the orcs on the other side. They rushed in and bashed us before we were readied. They even had a spellcaster to back them up, and he blasted me in the face.

I ran one through with my sword, but the others that were left pounded Jared into unconsciousness. Priest was able to bring him back into the battle with a cure. Jared mowed down on more mutagens and stood back up, swatting attacks away as he regained his feet. I ran another orc through and Rand melted away the spellcaster’s skin.

The spellcasters began slinging at each other, Rand was backpedaling from the counter attack.

Priest stepped back into cover and began channeling to save us.

The other spellcaster then retreated to some slumbering beast, in the hopes that it would protect him. I was having none of that, so I charged him and ran him through as he attempted to wake the creature.

Jared wiped out the last orc and we had the opportunity to see what the creature was; a sphinx.

“You’ve killed the vermin,” the sphinx said, opening its eyes.

Behind the sphinx was a shimmering wall of energy concealing a staircase leading down. It was chained to the wall with the same material we encountered at the door.

We spoke with the creature, and it informed us the girl we were here to rescue was down the stairs behind the energy.

“There were two keys made to enter the barrier,” the sphinx told us. “One is Mal’s, the other is under my protection. If you are smart enough I will give you what you need to start your journey. Are you smart enough?”

I welcome the day with a show of light
I stealthily came here in the night
I bathe the earthly stuff at dawn
But by the noon, alas, I’m gone

“Is it dew?” Jared asked.

“It is. You are smarter than you look. This will unlock the chamber from whence you came,” the beast said and tossed us a key.

We made our way back, opened the door and headed down the hall. It opened up into a room with a dirt floor. Jared and I walked in as Priest and Rand watched skeptically from the hall.

Suddenly earth elementals sprang from the floor.

The creatures pounded on us and I nearly succumbed to their initial onslaught. I withstood the, wiped one out and moved into a better position. Unfortunately, Rand blasted a few of them with burning hands and hit me with it as well. The creatures then attacked me again and brought me down. Jared then went to town and started taking out the elementals.

Priest laid out a timely channel, and Rand blasted the elementals. Jared then finished off the last of the dust monsters.

We got our bearings, and a mound of dirt rose up with a yellow stone upon it. Rand snatched it up and we then healed up with Priest’s help.

The hallway leading out took us to a crossroads, each ending with a door. We proceeded down the hall to the door. Jared listened at the door and upon hearing nothing I kicked it in revealing a room with hot coals on the floor and three fire mephits.

Jared sprang into action and charged into the room, somewhat recklessly. The mephits attacked Jared while one of them charged the rest of us and blew fire down the hall. Jared continued ripping apart the mephits, the other started funneling down toward us. Steam started blasting us out of the hall and the other mehpit created another little friend made of molten rock, lava if you will.

Since we would be filling up the hall with mephits I stood my ground and started working on the steam mephit in front of me.

The lava mephit then melted into a pool and slid toward me down the hall. The steam mephit then blasted the spell casters, catching Priest off guard, and I cut it out of existence. The magma elemental then slid by me and made his way toward the spell casters.

Jared was then taken down shortly after his vomit swarm was activated. Then up. Then down. Then up. Then down.

I finally killed one of the mephits and got into the room.

Priest then stepped up and channeled more energy to get Jared back into the fray. Jared and I started killing off the mephits. Once we were down to a single mephit, Jared ran into the hall to get away from the mephits. Rand dazed the final mephit, Priest laid guidance upon me, and I destroyed the creature.

After the fight, Priest turned into a being of energy and we healed ourselves. We collected the red gem revealed in the room and took a rest.

– Day passes –

In the morning we headed down another hall. Jared heard “wooshing” coming from behind the door and I promptly kicked it in.

Behind the door were two air elementals. Rand armored up with mage armor, then I sprang in to attempt to attack one of the elementals. After a timely blessing from Priest, Jared moved in to attack another elemental. The two of us started hacking at the air about us while the spell casters stayed safely back in the hall.

One of the elementals turned into a whirlwind, engulfing Jared. He was then taken along for a ride as it sucked me up as well. The other elemental headed down the hall and started working on the spell casters, but Rand struck first with a shocking grasp.

We continued to be spun around within the other elemental, hearing Rand destroy the elemental he was facing down.

The elemental the threw Jared and I as it turned back into its normal form, then it struck me a mortal blow and I was staggered. Fortunately, Priest was able to heal me quickly and we finished the elemental off. Another gem was recovered and we regrouped for the last room.

I kicked the door in to reveal a large beast within. There was a shallow pool in the room containing a large water elemental. Jared and I were able to get it into a good position and started beating down on it. Rand and Priest supported us from the hall as we cut it apart. The beast then opened up on Jared and dazed him, but he was still on his feet and was able to eat a healing extract.

We continued battering away at the creature. Jared was then taken down a second time. Then, after several more rounds of attacking, I finally dispatched the elemental.

We collected the last gem and sat down for a rest.

– Day passes –

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Who needs charisma?
In which I become an even bigger asshole

We made our way back to the sphinx’s chamber. Rand and Jared placed the gems into the slots while I watched the sphinx for any tricks. When Jared placed the last gem the energy curtain dropped revealing a doorway.

Beyond the door was a circular stairway leading down. We followed the stairs down until they came to a landing at the bottom. An unintelligible language was scrawled across the door which none of us could understand. Jared listened and heard animals behind the entry and decided to go in. I opened the door to reveal a kennel manned by two orcs.

“What are you doing here?” one of the orcs asked with surprise.

“We’re here to kill you,” I informed them.

Rand stepped next to me to and attempted to daze one of the orcs, but was unsuccessfully. I leapt into the room and drove my sword through one of the orcs and moved back to protect the door. The orcs then ran off to unlock the wolves from the walls and the beasts charged me. I managed to fend off one of the wolves, but the other knocked me to the ground. Priest started buffing Jared up and he leaped into action, but was quickly charged by another wolf.

Rand continued to keep the other orc dazed, but as I killed one of the wolves the first orc made his way over to let the fourth wolf loose.

Jared and I started working the wolves over as I got back to my feet. One of the wolves dealt a devastating blow to Jared and he went down, though Priest was there to get him back up. Jared then crawled out of the room and I shored up our defenses while killing another wolf.

We backed up onto the stairs and kept the wolves at bay. Jared was able to get back into the fight and was not immediately knocked out. He started ripping them to shreds and killed one quickly. One of the wolves went down and the other wrestled Jared off his feet. It was to no avail and I killed the last wolf.

We then interrogated the orcs that were hiding in the corner. After getting some useless information about Mal, who is large, I cut off their heads. Better to deal with the orcs now than to have to kill them after they’ve raped some farmer’s daughter in a few days.

After wiping my sword off we headed down to the barracks on the next level where Jared was thinking he’d be able to rig a bomb to protect us from any orcs within. After being confounded with how we’d blow the door up we decided to just kill any orcs in the barracks.

Once we were all prepared, I threw the door open and charged in. We surprised the orcs in the barracks who were playing cards, and three more that were sleeping. Unfortunately, an ogre was also sitting in the room which we had not anticipated.

Rand lit the card table on fire with burning hands while Jared was buffed up. I continued the attack on the card table and tried to slay one of the smoldering orcs.

One of the orcs was a sorcerer and he cursed me, enfeebling my mind.

The ogre lumbered over to Rand and mashed his head in with a massive club.

I stabbed that god-damned sorcerer in the face and it went down faster than Jared in combat.

Somehow, Rand and Jared killed the ogre. Don’t ask me.

Jared then killed one of the orcs. Who cares.

So I killed another orc, because that’s what I do.

Rand sprayed some more stupid fire at the other orcs. It looked cool, but it didn’t kill any of them so what’s the point?

The other orcs came over and then zapped me. It sure hurt a lot, but it didn’t kill me. So I killed him. Rand gave me a thumbs up as if he had helped my by hitting the orc as it ran by him.

Shut. Up. Rand.

Then stupid priest let the last orc run by.

Jared chased him out of the room, but he was not fast enough. So I went after him.

I burst out the door then leapt to the stairs across the tower to cut it off. It was a twenty foot leap across, and I’d probably die if I didn’t make it. But that orc would warn Mal if he got by. Something was nagging in the back of my head that it was a bad idea.

I jumped from the ledge. Across the abyss. To the steps about twenty feet away. And about ten feet down.

My eyes followed the orc as he scrambled away from Jared. I was floating across the gap, my armor pulling me down to the pit, and my death.

I smashed into the steps on the other side.

The orc dropped his sword. So I walked up to him and ran him through.

We then rested, and I regained my senses.

We headed down to the next landing and an orc met us and opened the door. The stairs continued down.

“You are expected,” the orc said.

We entered the room.

Sitting behind a large desk was a large creature with two heads.

“Well, we’ve been expecting you,” the ettin said.

Priest and the monster spoke with each other. It turns out they were taking virgins to give to the Beast at the bottom of the stairs. I’m puzzled as to why they continued to live here.

After the small parlay we agreed to take the Beast out. We started down the steps, with Priest walking with the mayor’s daughter.

But we were lying! Once the daughter was down the steps we turned around and charged back into the room.

Jared and I stepped into the room and Mal flipped his large table at us. Jared ducked under it, but I just took it. Jared charged into action, going after Mal and biting at him with his disgusting claws.

Jared was quickly taken out. Priest started healing us up, Rand shocked one of the orcs, and the ettin followed me as I made my way out of the room.

I started making quick strikes against the ettin, but he bull rushed me and knocked me off the steps. I landed about two stories down.

The fall didn’t kill me, so I started running up. I heard the fight continuing upstairs, so I ignored the sounds I heard coming from the dark. The fighting I head was Rand shocking the ettin, Jared shredding the cleric, and Priest running for his life with the mayor’s daughter.

I was nearly to the top of the steps when I saw Rand come flying down. He landed much more gracefully with a fancy roll at the bottom.

I crested the stairs, panting and cursing at Mal who was once again on the stairs. Mal threw a javelin at Priest, knocking him out. I then set myself up so I could go after Mal.

Rand got up to Priest and dumped a potion of curing into him.

With one final massive attack, I leapt from around the corner and put my sword through the ettin’s heads. It collapsed to the ground and leaked brains around my feet.

The battle was over.

Now that we had rescued the girl we headed back out to take her back. The mayor was overjoyed and would grant us the favors we wanted.

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