It's A Long Way To The Bottom (If You Wanna Hack And Slash)

Session 3: Nature Walk Part I
Wonderful first impressions all around...

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 13th day of Spring

I awoke at the Salty Mermaid feeling only marginally better than the night before. Our foray into that other realm proved to be more than I can handle. It seems that my amulet closed my wounds as I fell unconscious, saving me from dying away from my home plane. I shudder to think what death brings in my own world, let alone in the outer planes. After I made my way downstairs to the crowded tavern and had taken a seat with my already roused companions, we found ourselves joined by an unfamiliar face.

He introduced himself as Vicmorn Falcon, a Half-Elven man who has been trained in the martial arts. I was not at first inclined to welcome him to our group, I already had two of his ilk to grace me with their comments, but he and I shared similar goals. He mentioned that he was in search of new experience, that he wanted to see the world. I’m familiar enough with this statement to understand it means you seek treasure beyond mortal value. Perhaps he knows more than I on the matter.

Throughout the next few days I remained at the inn while Vicmorn joined the others in restocking our supplies here in Trollington. When I had come to, I heard from Tal that he had received yet another lead from our halfling friend, Oma. She had given him a map to a cave of ancient treasure in a cave known as the Silver Hole of Endless Wailing. Even more unnerving was the strip of “leather” she handed him next. When he showed it to me I did not recognize the writing, so I immediately concentrated my language cantrip that master had taught me. Suddenly it became apparent to me that this was a name from the Infernal language, ‘Bujardo’ is roughly how it would be phonetically spelled in the common tongue. After I was finished focusing my magic on the lettering, I quickly realized that this was quite an odd piece of leather. Our new companion, Vicmorn immediately recognized it as flayed human flesh and I could see he was reconsidering his decision to follow us. Oma seems an honest enough sort that we decided it could wait until we see her next. After all, we had a treasure horde to find.

We packed up and made our way out to the Fey Forest, by the Elle the druid woman’s reckoning we were to reach the cavern within 4 hours. We did not. We encountered a crude hunter’s trap en route to the cave, the druid fell in. After hauling her out and a little more time spent walking, I heard a sound behind us that startled me. I alerted Vicmorn and Tre, who effectively scared the creature still with some quick, sharp scolding. Tre recognized it as a small Fey called a Brownie and Vicmorn immediately began to speak some Fey-ish speak to it. The creature said that his Fey brother was trapped in a similar fashion to the way in which Elle fell. He implored us to help him and assured that it wasn’t too far from where we were. I figured that a magical creature’s favor could prove useful while delving into unknown depths, so we decided to go along.

A long story short, Tal and I entered the cave where the Fey said his brother was being held. We were quickly trapped inside by a dropped portcullis. Calistria sting me, ALWAYS double check the doors, Haldir! It was a small matter, the cave was devoid of anything other than trapped Fey in cages and some small trinkets. Quick thinking Tre blasted the portcullis with a cone of flame, weakening it enough to be kicked apart. I unlocked the cages holding the Fey while Tal investigated the sleeping corner of whatever creature had lived here. He handed me a letter written in Draconic that indicated that these Fey were being captures to serve as slaves for someone who went by the title of Velana the Death Whisperer. The letter was in draconic, and made my heart heavy. Hunters may trap prey for food or even sport, but I cannot bear the idea of slavery. But these lands are unknown to me, perhaps it is practiced here and if I am to remain unobtrusive and faceless I best learn to abide it.

Before allowing them to leave, Vicmorn was able to get the names of the Brownie Brothers. He laughed a bit and explained that Fey names can be odd to translate, but their names roughly meant “Mighty Feisty” and “Open Smiles” in the common tongue. I understood what Vicmorn meant, there are beautiful sounding elven names with rather silly translations for common folk. Common folk would have to call me “Intelligent Tall One”, the joke is not lost on me when my height is compared to most humanoids, but assure you I am quite tall for an elf.

A few more hours of walking and we came upon it. There was a pool of still, misty water that emerged from a cave opening. The sounds that came from within indicated that this was indeed a hole of endless wailing. We walked slowly and carefully through the water. Clumsily tripping and crunching over twigs that seemed all too rigid for having been under water, I stopped to reach in and pulled out what was unmistakably a bone. I was certain this water was full of them, but before we could decide to turn back we were “welcomed” by a booming voice. “Oh so you have finally returned!” I was not bold enough to respond, nor was anyone else among the company save for Tal. That creature surprises me with every journey we have, I think I admire it, but that’s probably because it hasn’t gotten me killed yet.

I cannot remember Tal’s exact response to the disembodied voice that seemed to speak my doom with every syllable, but there was a swift response. “Oh, someone new then? Come closer, so that I might see your face”. I cannot explain why, but I listened. The group and I approached a large chamber to see a gigantic troll with height to rival a hill giant. Luckily for us, she was bound to the walls of the cavern by some druidic magic. Bruta was her name and she explained to us that she has been here for 500 years ever since an adventurer came seeking her troll family’s treasure. The troll clan was slaughtered by the warrior and his druid accomplice bound the troll to the wall until she would reveal the location of her treasure. Her regenerative powers allowed her to sustain herself for 500 years by living off her own body for nourishment.

Degan‘s idea was my favorite, though the Troll made it clear that she was not inclined to accept our mercy killing of her as a deed worthy of her family’s treasure. She made it very plain to us that she would accept no other tribute as barter for her treasure than to release her from her magical bonds. Dreading the wrath of a druid who may not take kindly to a group trying to free her troll captive, I agreed with Tal’s decision to begin hacking at the brambles. It was no use, we would have to travel to the grove Bruta told us about.

On our way to the grove, we encountered a halfling who was able to speak with Elle in a language none of us could recognize. Elle told us that this halfling, Apple was in fact a druid residing in the grove we were in search of. Apple took us there to meet Sofia, the elven druid who had imprisoned Bruta. We had decided to accept their hospitality of meat, bedding and sanctuary before getting into this “Free the Troll” business; however, a misstep by my part had brought it up earlier than expected. I could not bare the silence, and I suppose Sofia’s beauty had me in a rare form, but I wanted to see what she would say when the cavern had come to mind. Her elven intuition proved too much for my feeble fib, and she was onto us- onto me I suppose. But my fear had come too soon, she had taken it much better than I had expected. She had nearly forgotten about the troll until we mentioned it and agreed to free her in interest of the treasure on the condition that we helped Sofia.

She told us that a friend of hers, a spirit of the forest had become ill with malice and violence. She had made a special elixir for us to forcibly pour down the throat of the creature (I believe Elle referred to her as a Dryad). She warned us that if the elixir did not cure her, it was the duty of the druid to end the Dryad’s life. Since this was a difficult task for the druid who had found the creature to be a close friend of hers and since we were about to place ourselves in a great deal of debt to her, Sofia transferred this duty to us. She warned that the Dryad’s magic would render our mortal weapons useless and gave us a pack of leaves that when rubbed against our blades would temporarily make them able to harm her friend. I think we plan on setting out tomorrow.

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The Search for Snowflake
Extraplanar!

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 12th day of Spring

After recovering from the nearly fatal encounter with the frost worm, we spent a few days meandering about Trollington. I met up with my old druidic ‘friend’ Granola Ted, whose real name is ……….(name)……… to get that potion I had asked him to make for me. He had a few things for Elle, too.

Degan came back from speaking with Bobo, that Gnome engineer reeking of burnt resin and pungent weeds. The three of us met up with Talmanes and Tre, who had some information for us regarding some more work… and some more magic.

It seems they had become quite well received by the potion and oddities shop owner, ……(name)…… and she needed our assistance. More accurately, her halfling friend, Oma needed our assistance finding her lost familiar, a cat named Snowflake. This seemed a menial task at first until we were informed that the cat was last with her master in the Plane of …(fire? the abyss?)… Oma had to flee after being overwhelmed by creatures. We were to enter the plane, locate Snowflake and return with either Snowflake or a report on her fate. We were given a bell that would ring here on the material plane to signal our return, which could only happen at our point of entry.

We got our things together, the little wizard opened a portal and we stepped in.

… Yes, upon reading this it seems we weren’t too cautious in our early adventuring days…

We found ourselves in a room with no doors. There was only a dais with a strange symbol on it that we stood on and two hued orbs the size of large doors on opposite walls. The green one was ahead of us and the blue behind us. We were unable to manipulate the blue in any way, but when we touched the green one we were blinded with a bright green light and found ourselves in another room, the same orbs present on opposing walls again.

This continued with rooms of various sizes and shapes. Eventually we found our way to a room with an orb wrapped in chains. The orb acted as a magnet to our flesh, pulling as against it …….(we eventually made the chains drop, though through what method I cannot remember)……. The orb was broken open on the ground, revealing a small, smokey orb amulet. I immediately took the prize, taking advantage of my comrades’ hesitation.
-oh, and did I mention the horrifying creatures we encountered? Eyes which stemmed from the ground and stared in such a way as to horrify and sicken me to a point of paralysis; Black masses of near humanoid shape, breaking themselves against us in suicidal assaults to inflict pain on us, multiplying with every manifestation.

The most terrible beast we encountered was in a large, misty room. It looked to be a quadruped with a long tail and some form of plant-like maw growing from its back. It was disheartening to see the bleeding snowflake on its forehead, we were about to slaughter that which we came to rescue. After the battle, we took the corpse in a bag and made our way back to our entry point. This task proved just as difficult.

On our way back, in a rage of desperation and hopelessness I launched myself into the fray of a group of black masses. I collapsed to the ground, unconscious again.

-

Upon our return to Trollington, I learned from my companions that the orb on the amulet gave a strange glow when I had fallen. The blow which struck me seemed enough to outright kill an elf of greater strength than I. I will have to learn more about this trinket I have salvaged.

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What Lies Within (and Beneath) the Frozen Pillar
How'd we escape? Ask Tal.

After a few hours of travel, the woods began to clear and we approached what seemed to be a small makeshift altar. Upon closer inspection, Degan determined that the charred bits of coal upon the altar must have actually been gems, now useless from the burning they had endured.

We could see the tower from the edge of the clearing; the gigantic frozen lake surrounding it was taunting us with solid ground as though we wouldn’t think that there was any danger of falling beneath it. I would rather swim, and swimming is not something I enjoy. I was mostly nervous for Keydon, I think the mule has reached somewhere around 700 lbs by now.

We stepped to the door and after …………. ………. ……… we were able to enter. I was startled by the hulking beasts at first, only to realize that they were still as statues… because they were indeed statues. They looked to be arctic bear men, though I wouldn’t know what they were actually called. They stood as if on guard; four in the corners and five holding what seemed to be a cage of bones in the center of the room. The four beasts in the corner had a faint glow of sapphire in their eyes. Upon closer inspection, their eyes were sapphires. Degan and I had the same great idea.

After prying some stones loose, we noticed light dimming in the center of the room. The eyes of the cage holders were extinguishing- a proper description when we discovered that their eyes were burning a bright blue, heatless flame. ……… …….. ………. ……… we all looked around in horror as the cage began to lower itself-no, I think we were meant to believe the beasts were lowering it into the ground. I hoped to myself that Keydon was safe just outside that door. (I cannot recall the order of travel the elevator took, only my heart dropping with it as we went down, and my joy to hear of the treasures in the study… … hear of? Was I there? Was I unconscious? I cannot piece this all together…)

We encountered many supernatural creatures and phenomena in the rooms to come (My memory is whipped! And these pages seem useless!) ………. ……….. ……. skeletons ……… ……. ……. maze of ice and mirrors…….. ……… ………. ……….the elevator took us deeper still….. ………. ………… ………

The bowels of the tower housed what seemed to be a vast tundra, I even recall it snowing down there. We were not marveling at the weather for long until we found ourselves before a hulking worm of a beast! The ground shook with each lunge it took toward us, I fired bolt after bolt into it’s frozen hide, though I couldn’t see how that could harm it at all. The sorcerer sent blasts of magic at it, the shooter… shot. All seemed hopeless. I took a massive blow to the head and fell unconscious.

I awoke on my donkey. Good old Keydon made it through the trip, and it seems so did the entirety of my company. Talmanes slew the frost worm and had the good will to bring us all back to Trollington. It seems we all fell victim to the beast’s thrashing, and Tal alone had to fight it.

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Meet the Party
Scale of 1-10, who is more likely to kill me?

The journal of Haldir Handion, elven treasure hunter and specialist of arcane writings.

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 7th day of Spring

I have found myself in the company of quite a sundry party. The first to catch my eyes was the Ifrit, called Tre; his hair seemed to be aflame, but most should know better as it gives no heat. I was startled at the sight of a Damphir, but Tal (I had heard the creature introduce himself to a crew member of the ship earlier) seems honorable enough to leave my blood and soul in tact while I sleep. Shocking as it may be, I am most uneasy around my closest kin: the two Half-Elven humans. I don’t know which is more dangerous, the fair and gentle one who could easily catch either of us off guard with naught but a wink or the shooter. Yes, a shooter. He carries one of those small pieces of machinery which uses what I can only imagine is a small amount of blasting powder to propel metal shrapnel into his target. Funny, it’s only a fraction of the size of a standard crossbow bolt, but I’ve seen it rend plated armor like paper when shot from the pistol.

We found ourselves in the small fishing community known as Trollington, bordered by land with the Fey Forest. I had almost never heard of this area save for the name, so it was surprising for me to hear from the ……<bat?>…. mercenaries that the forest was overrun with undead. I am not at all well versed in the ways of Fey, but I would think that they could easily slay a skeleton or two, it must be something more than skeletons. Our group made its way to the ….(salty sea wench?)…. to look for work. I did not think I would find a lead for my personal endeavors so soon.

A …..(man/woman…. by the name of) …… mentioned the Frozen Pillar within the wood. It was in fact an ancient tower, long ago a home and study to a woman of the magical arts named ……….(Calistria sting me! What was her name??). In the highest room of the tower we would find her study, and would be welcome to our pick of what was found there. This was all I needed to hear. I imagined a library of ancient scrolls and texts… a room of answers.

We took this time to relax, drink, gamble and eat. We knew where we were going and the threat of undead would keep our claim on the tower for at least a day or two. The tougher Half-elven man, Degan I think he said his name was, he said he was going to look for some engineer of sorts to do something about his weapon. The others…… …….. ………..

En route to the tower, I got to know my present company, as I would likely be with their company for some time. I remembered Degan and Tal- Talmanes was his proper name. The Ifrit was named Tre Killing, and he was unexpectedly pleasant to speak with. The temptress goes by the name Ellenoir or Elle for short. I find it difficult to trust anyone with whom the Fey are able to communicate. She steps in stride with a strange beast I am not familiar with, a sort of rat-dog. I’ll be sleeping with one eye open.

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