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

The Party Journals

The Journal of Haldir Handion
These entries are being copied from blood-stained and waterlogged parchment for safe keeping into my personal journal. I will try at great length to piece together the deeds of my company even with the missing segments, though it seems the life of an adventurer has put me in for more head wounds than I would have cared to have experienced. Still, the large scale of our tale should be found to be unaltered.
Intro: Meet the Party
Session 1: The Frozen Pillar
Session 2: The Search for Snowflake
Session 3: Nature Walk Part I
Session 4: Nature Walk Part II
Intermission: Recuperating at the Grove

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Recuperating at the Grove
Now would have been the time to escape into an opium-induced mind fog.

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 18th day of Spring

I took a break from writing these past few days to take full advantage of the hospitality offered here at Sofia’s Grove. I’ve had wands, spells and potions close my wounds, but nothing seems to beat a few days rest. But for all its good, there are still some things a moment’s reprieve from battle cannot undo. It’s been 4 days and Elle and Degan are still resting, shaking and sweating. It appears their bodies fell hook line and sinker for the sweet smoke that they took in a few days earlier. It could be compounded by his run-in with those slave vines, or perhaps Degan just has a lower tolerance for such things, but he seems a little worse for wear when compared to Elle. It is pathetic, they are both like whimpering dogs and neither one can form a complete sentence yet. Sofia says she will prepare what is needed to remove the addiction from them. If it weren’t for Elle’s recent loss, I would suggest keeping them both this way a bit longer to teach them something. There isn’t anything I would do without first accepting (or constructing a plan to circumvent) whatever consequences may result, I feel that philosophy applies here.

By Sofia’s reckoning, which factors in Degan’s recovery from his vine probe, they should be back to their old selves in 3 days.

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 21st day of Spring

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Nature Walk Part II
And just when I thought we all did okay...

1124, E.R. (Elven Reckoning), 14th day of Spring

We set out with Apple in the morning to head for the lair of this woodland spirit we were to save. I was surprised to see Elle and Degan awake with the rest of us, they certainly kept me up for a while with their pungently odorous smoking last night. Habits are habits and The Lady in the Room certainly knows I have my own, but I like to think of myself as a considerate scoundrel. I don’t see a need to bring any unwanted attention to this secluded grove, especially when its inhabitants are being so kind as to let us stay here… not to mention the business with the troll, Bruta’s treasure.

We arrived at what looked like a pile of dead branches and tree trunks, lightly dusted with pathetic flowers trying all too hard to look as though they were thriving. Apple introduced us to our investigation site and was off before any questions could be asked. I suppose he knew more about what lay beneath than we did, and -most justifiably – wanted to stay no longer than necessary.

Just as I had the same thought, I heard Talmanes let out a groan of frustration under his breath as we must have both quickly recognized the similarities between the brambles that stood before us and the impenetrable growths which imprisoned Bruta. To our surprise and delight, this thicket yielded to Degan’s blade quite easily. I led Keydon to a patch of healthy grass, took my flint to my lamp and readied to enter.

Almost immediately, the floor beneath us took a sudden drop to a cliff, the bottom of which was out of sight to us all. Without question or hesitation, Degan began his descent down the bramble covered cliff side, the only delay was his zombie-like meandering toward a phosphorescent fungus on the wall. But as soon as he trimmed a chunk of it and placed it in his jar bound to his neck, he was over the edge and on his way out of our sight. I don’t know what it was- why I get these sudden fits of bravery, but I was just behind him. I fastened my lamp to the back of my belt using the drawstring of my belt pouch (ever since I was taught to do this, I never saw its usefulness -until that moment, when I realized the hood of the lantern would prevent the flames from igniting my ass. I’ll still leave it as a scenario-specific tactic), and found myself descending to an unknown depth.

On our way down, I nearly stepped on Degan’s head, he had stopped and was holding a hand up for me to do the same. He turned and said that he heard groaning, but couldn’t see what it was. “Probably just Talmanes dreading another thicket of brambles”, I thought to myself. Then I heard it, too. Before I could respond, another sound -a louder, familiar one from above took my attention away. It was Elle, plummeting toward the two of us. I have no idea how I did it, if she were falling any faster or weighed even a straw heavier I might have failed, but I reached my arm out and caught her. As I steadied her with my hand to her back I saw her companion, Slim was gripping tightly there. For the first time ever, the creature seemed terrified beyond repair. I felt sorry for the little guy.

Degan and I continued downward, dreading the creatures our imaginations were assigning to the groaning beneath us. At the edge of my lantern’s light, I could see them: earth golems? Botanic… zombi— “Zombies”, I heard Tal’s voice say softly from above us.

“Brought back by some foul plantli—iiiiii-” Elle was plummeting toward me again without finishing her sentence. Deja vu, my own strength surprised me again. I didn’t have time to celebrate or even ask if she was all right, Degan called my attention downward, the damn things knew how to climb. I drew my dagger and climbed down carefully.

I thought for certain that my ears would have been accustomed to the blast from Degan’s pistol by now, and that assumption was incorrect. As he fires into one of the shambling humanoid mounds I felt the urge to cover my ears, it was fortunate that I quickly realized I hadn’t a free hand to do so. I was carefully making my way down to the creatures, I didn’t want to fall at a time like this. “Aaaaieeee!” speaking of which, I looked up toward the scream expecting Elle to whiz past me to her death. I’m sorry, it’s not that I hope for that, it’s that my catching hand now had a dagger in it. But, she wasn’t falling, she had a ball of flame in her palm and hurled it down toward the things beneath us. I wish I could say I was relieved. I was rethinking my earlier though, I was now I was wishing she had fallen.

Bolts whizzed by me into the beings below, they barely seemed to notice. Balls of energy hurled themselves unerringly into the creatures, causing them to groan in what I was hoping was pain. Degan, in a feat of heroism was able to reload his pistol while clinging to the wall, he blasted one in what I assume was its face. It let go of the wall and tumbled down. I was slowly approaching the second, now a charred pincushion of crossbow bolts courtesy of Elle and Talmanes. I awaited its arrival, gripping my dagger close, but I hesitated too long. It made its way to me and whipped its appendage across my torso, bruising me badly and I’m quite certain it had broken something. I felt useless, and too tired to hold to the wall. I could not see the ground beneath me, but the landing still seemed safer than withstanding another blow as such. Is this where it would end for me? I meet my demise to a plant zombie on a wa——-WHIISH! A crossbow bolt had flown right past my head and into that of the thing at my feet. it was taken straight down to the ground which was coming into focus for me now. I looked up in time to see Talmanes lowering his crossbow from his chin. He paused a moment, if I could have made out his image more clearly, I am certain his look would have been that of “Why did you approach? You know I had this one”.

Elle was kind enough to offer the service of her healing wand. Kind enough? Hell, she definitely owed it to me. Though, I suppose whatever favors I had done for her with my well-timed heroism, my ill-timed heroism was not her fault.

We made our way into an open chamber, the ground was uneven, muddy and rocky. The lamp revealed a thicket of brambles between the arches of stalagmites at the far end of the room. The thicket had blooming flowers at its weakest points, Degan and Elle recognized them. They were the flowers and thorns found in the foreheads of our plant zombies behind us. Thinking it best to avoid them, Tre unleashed a blast of flames at the brambles. Before we could see the magnificent result of charred branches and open archways, Tal, Tre and I received a response to Tre’s magic in the form of a blast of acid. The burn was painful, but not terribly so. We had little time to recover, the light of the flames was attracting two more shambling zombies. These foes proved less menacing on foot, Degan even opted to use his sword for the most part. Vicmorn readied his nunchaku and we all moved in on them.

Weaving in and out of the scattered stalagmites and gracefully side-stepping the charred remains of the bramble, Degan along with Vicmorn, Elle, Slim and I closed in to overpower them in the fray while Talmanes and Tre launched spells and crossbow bolts past us at the creatures. After the last one fell to the ground more lifeless than we had found him, we moved on ahead to a winding corridor.

I dropped my lamp and joined Vicmorn in a stealthy trip to the first bend, we looked around the corner to see pitch black everywhere but for a faint glow from the phosphorescent fungus on the wall, barely illuminating the shape of another plant beast. We called the rest of the group forward, which unfortunately bought us the attention of the creature. Another fierce melee which we thought would end just as before; however, these creatures were not the storm of swinging appendages that we were used to. They began staring Degan down, as if to break his will or morale, I couldn’t tell which. After we had taken a few swings and taken one of the beasts down, Degan nudged the one in front of him aside and began to saunter toward what looked like a patch of rotten gourds. We continued our fight assuming he understood something which we did not.

When the last beast fell, we looked on Degan with horror. The vines of the gourd patch had bored their ways into his forehead! I thought for sure this was the last I would be seeing of my half-kin companion. We began slaughtering the patch of plants, not knowing which vines were part of it and which were ecology hanging from the walls. All the while, Degan stood in a stupor, shaking. His eyes were staring straight ahead as if he were not conscious of what was happening. Suddenly, he broke form the trance and swung his sword down the center of the gourd in front of him. The vines around us dropped like curtains, I nearly vomited as the ones in his head wormed their ways out.

The injuries to his head were but a bit larger than pinholes, and there was not much blood. He seemed to be alright, but he was different. I can’t describe it any more gingerly, and knowing the truth now I can say he was dumber. Still, he marched forward with us after we healed up and ventured into a large cavern ahead.

More fungus dimly lighting the walls around us, even with such little light it was easy to tell this cavern was tall and deep. Ahead of us was a twisted bridge of wood, bramble, vine and all other sorts of foliage. It made a sort of log bridge into a darkness with a so far invisible end. We could hear the stillness of a pool beneath us, barely making sounds as particles from the ceiling found their way into it. Not eager to go for a swim, we kept single file to the center of the bridge and walked very slowly across.

After a good half a minute, perhaps 40 feet of slow, careful stepping I thought I had heard giggling. At first I thought I had been hearing imaginary sounds, after all my head was starting to ache. Then I calmed myself, thinking it had to be Degan laughing in his herbal stupor. Talmanes quickly ripped away my solace as he pulled back the cord of his crossbow, and he could not be mistaken lest Tre, Elle, Slim and the others were as well. Everyone had weapons drawn and looks of confusion on their faces.

I turned to see what looked like small children in robes… except their heads were huge and their skin a grayish blue. One of them stuck its face out and bugged two pale orbs at me; a sudden dread filled me as I realized those were its eyes.

Wasting no time at all, Talmanes had a bolt through one of their skulls. I could hear unfamiliar screams from behind me, I was comforted that the three behind Tre, Talmanes and myself were fairing well in their battle. I stood the line with Tre at my side and Tal launching bolts from behind. One of the whelps approached so eagerly that he fell right into the drink below, a danger that had not occurred to me until just then. I heard a wild battle cry behind me, followed by a splash and laughing. It sounded like Vicmorn. Tre tried to maneuver around me and slipped in as well. No one was screaming for help, which could have meant the water was calm or it wasn’t water that they were splashing into. I approached one of the tiny things, dagger drawn. I was still shaking a bit from this whole ordeal. As I tried to take a jab at what I was hoping would be its kidney, I felt the ground slip from beneath my foot, I dropped my lantern. Suddenly I was off the bridge and still in the air as the light went out. That moment was worse than what followed, the split second of falling without even seeing what I was falling to. I felt wetness and a splash, there was no odor so I assumed it was water my body had found. While treading water my hands found my lamp bobbing about, I grabbed it and began to swim toward the violet glow on the walls.

The battle soon ended up on the bridge, and Talmanes was able to direct all of us through the darkness. Tre, Vic and I found our way to some viney growth on the far wall which we were able to climb up. We regrouped and found ourselves before another thicket. Degan barreled through us all and cleaved his blade through it. I stopped trying to light my damp lantern as the room filled with what seemed to be… sunshine?

As we entered the archway, the cave opened into a vast arboretum, walled in as the rest of the cavern with the violet fungi tracing the edges. At the far end, center of the wall we could see a large pool of water with a tree that was at least 4 times the size of the others. Elle took the lead as we heard a voice, enchanting but intimidating. The voice greeted us as intruders and commanded our leave. Elle began to reason with the spirit, saying that we were friends and we have come to assist her and her tree. Strangely, the spirit heard us out for half a moment before bellowing out “Leave or die”.

Sometimes I have to learn to speak to myself without using my lips.

It couldn’t have been louder than the rustling of leaves beneath us, but I muttered to myself “Leave or die? She touches these leaves of ours and she dies…” it was as if I had spoken the command word for a sorcerer’s clockwork golem. Degan, silently and determined drew steel and marched toward the tree. Before Elle or anyone could react, the Dryad shouted an incantation and the leaves and grass around us began writing and attempting to hold us into place. We were trudging through as though it was a marshy fen, she first attempted to bewitch Tre with her charms. It apparently failed, so her next move was to put him a deep sleep. I had already drawn my dagger and whiped it down with the leaf provided by Sofia, I knelt down to try to shake Tre awake. Suddenly, I heard a burst and the Dryad shrieked in agony. I turned to see Degan cackling not but 5 feet away from the Dryad’s tree, engulfed in flame. i looked around and saw Elle, Slim and Vicmorn were falling victim to the vines that continued to writhe, their reach about the cavern growing.

Talmanes was drawing nearer to the Dryad, I had awakened Tre and made my way with my dagger drawn. The tree witch touched a nearby trunk, smiled a devious smile at us and was gone. Seconds later I heard Degan grunt in pain. With lightning speed, she had made her way to him and put an arrow in his back. He fell face first into the ground. Just then, Vicmorn and Slim made it into range. Vicmorn smacked her with his nunchaku while Slim began assaulting the flaming tree. Elle’s arrows flew true, but they seemed not to phase the Dryad at all. Tal Manes and I trudged and marched toward her as she moved from tree to tree with her magic. Talmanes was having much less trouble than I, though I was fairing better than Tre. Talmanes, with a grunt of frustration through his crossbow aside and drew a great, two-handed blade and ran toward her. I took this opportunity to work behind her, she had to have a vital spot to hit. Rays of flames were flying from Tre’s hands, but they all missed the witch.

As I approached through the thickets, I heard Elle shriek. I turned to her, she was fine. I turned my eyes to see where hers were, it was Slim. Slim lay next to the tree’s pool, which was slowly being dyed red, he had two arrows in his back and was motionless.

I don’t know if it was my anger or my fear, but my habit of hesitating never seems to help my accuracy, another swing and a miss when I should have had a vital strike. Just then, the Dryad began to look around wildly, she implored that we let her save her tree. Elle demanded that the elixir be imbibed immediately, and the Dryad agreed.

I couldn’t believe the forgiveness I was seeing. Elle had just watched as this tree spirit launched a fatal barb into her companion and now she was demanding that the spirit surrender and be spared. This was not trickery or enchantment, this was duty and understanding I was witnessing. I had a new found respect for Ellenoir. I believe Talmanes had a similar system shock, for even that Soldier of Gorum rested his weapon at his side and watched as Elle and I dragged the body of the unconscious dryad to her tree after she imbibed Sofia’s elixir.

It took her a few moments to awaken, Tal and Degan took advantage of this time to pluck some fruit from her tree. That is to be taken literally. After she woke, there was no speaking to her, she ignored all comments and sat at her tree and wept. Only time can heal the tree’s burns now, but I fear there is not enough time in the cosmos to heals the burn left on the Dryad’s soul.

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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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