Outcasts and Refugees

Session 30- Fungus Amongus

The party entered the cavern of fungus. The bioluminescent fungus proved benign, but the large stalks erupted in violent shrieks, alerting the darkmantles that clung to the cave ceiling. The group was attacked and sometimes enveloped by the large darkmantles.
Relentless stabbing and slashing won the day, and the party advanced into another cavern with fungus. Small patches erupted into clouds of deadly poison spores. Shriekers shrieked, but were destroyed from range. One large violet fungus actually grew menacing tentacles and advanced toward the group, but was felled through the power of mob violence.
A cave entrance that shone light into the room provided an exit, and the group decided to descend the cliffs and make camp near the river of the great falls of skull ridge. But in the night, when Dvallin was on watch, he detected strange noises. The group was ambushed by a horde of ghouls and a deadly wight. Radiant light burned through the foes, from the cleric’s enchanted holy symbol. Some of the ghouls escaped to flee toward the cliffs, but the wight, upon attempting escape, was seared out of undeath by Kelemnvor’s radiance. Then they managed to get back to sleep.

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Session 29- In Mistagog's caves
(From the collected notes of Rivyet Murann)

At the river’s crossing, we spied a giant skull formation spanning the whole river. It was quite impressive, with great stone teeth and the river passing through the gaping mouth. Whoever designed this had impeccable taste to be sure, but sadly there was not much time for sight-seeing. We had finally shaken the blues that this plane seems to impart on us every morning and it was high time we sought the Nai Ruatha, a glorious sword of great renown. The boys can drool over swords all they like, but to be honest I was a little more excited to see the beast that guarded it—a mighty hydra named Mistagog. Dvallin insists that we attempt to recover the sword without disturbing the beast if possible, and oh just to glimpse it would surely satisfy my curiosity, but I do not fear facing it either. Dvallin may shake in his boots but I have a way with dumb beasts!

Thus we descended into one of the caves near the river to seek the Nai Ruatha. The cavern seemed unassuming enough at first, until one of the stalagmites came alive and revealed itself a roper! Its tentacles lashed out at us, binding and slowing our movements. Quite a few of us took a beating, feeling the sharp bit of its disgusting, circular mouth! As if that weren’t enough, some pathetic undead humans staggered up to battle as well. I’m sure Dvallin was delighted for the chance to slay them, and I pulled out some of my own tentacles to make quick work of them, ha! But the roper was tenacious! It seemed to hardly notice our attacks, even as I set the hungry spirits upon it. Dear, impulsive Strogg made the mistake of coming near the spirits as well and felt their tearing angst, he won’t soon do that again I hope! An undead ogre also attacked, and after spending some time trying to fight him and the roper at once, Kelgar let out a roaring remark that actually scared the beast away! Surrounding the roper, we finally ended it.

The roper done, we slew the ogre as well. Shadowfell or no, Dvallin will not permit the dead to walk.

Now to pursue our prize! The caves had a rough look, certainly not man-made or dwarven, and down one tunnel we discovered a possible source of the caves—a great shadowhulk. We decided to leave him be. Keeping right, we discovered another tunnel which collapsed, nearly upon us. Back-tracking and trying another route, we came across a flaming skull. The skull was friendly enough but not very helpful. He was created by a wizard—Sefineas the Ashbringer—who died exploring the caves. Well, if he couldn’t even keep his own master alive what could we honestly expect from him?

We continued on until we reached a lovely cavern teaming with mushrooms and bioluminescent moss.

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Session 28- Pilgrims in an Unholy Land...

Having left the treachery and danger of the Undermountain behind them, our heroes found themselves in a strange land that though unfamiliar, bore a series of characteristics that made it unmistakable. The champions of Saharel had found themselves within the Shadowfell. With the portal closed behind them and naught but wilderness in front of them, it quickly became clear that our heroes would need to explore this accursed landscape, lest they find themselves trapped here forever.

Luckily, they had all escaped with their lives as well as the prize they so desperately sought: the scroll of Unseen Lands. While the group bound their wounds and made a fire from the alien foliage available to them, Rivyet set about studying the scroll that would not only bring peace to her kingdom, but possibly reveal a path back to their plane. After a short bout of study, it became clear that the scroll was indeed a map of the Shadowfell, but no ordinary one. Twice per day the owner could ask it to redraw itself, centered on its current position. In this manner, one always knew where they were relative to the major landmarks and dangers of the landscape. From the point in which our heroes entered the realm, those major landmarks were a river which cut through the landscape, a small set of foothills, and two cities with a pair of unidentified beasts in between.

While wagers were made between Kelgar and Strogg, the more studious members of the party debated which direction to take. It was decided that the group had best make camp for the evening and get the proper rest that the Undermountain had not afforded them in some time. Though the sleep healed their bodies, it did little to refresh their spirits. The Shadowfell planted within their dream seeds of corruption, doubt, and rage. When our heroes awoke, they found the warriors beset by rage and recklessness and the magic-users beset by fear, sadness, and malaise. Not to be deterred, however, our heroes summoned what wits they could and decided to make for the northern city of Greystone on the off-chance that it held some sort of portal back to their realm (or at least some information which could point them in the right direction).

Shortly after they set out, however, our heroes came upon a pack of spectral panthers. While this cadre of semi-mystical beasts would normally have been but a trifle for the seasoned adventurers, the sickness of the mind that the realm had visited upon them made coordination and tactics no small task. Dvallin could barely muster the will to do anything and the warriors set upon the beasts with such reckless abandon that at one point Aedric even threw Dvallin into the fray. Luckily Rivyet, by far the least affected of the group, was able to continue her tradition of destroying the minds of dumb animals with eldritch fury.

With the beasts slain and the group bruised, but no worse for wear, our heroes made their way north to Graystead where they found no friendly faces nor kind welcome. After a bit of reconnaissance, the group disguised themselves as best they could and made their way into the city. As they tried to gather information and figure out simple things such as “is my money even worth anything in this realm”, tensions ran high. It was clear as they talked to the denizens of the city that it was only a matter of time before they were discovered and potentially had to fight their way out. There was no small amount of doubt and uncertainty regarding the safety that a simple inn or tavern might afford to say nothing of gaining access to a library. Luckily, fate smiled upon them and the group managed to find an abandoned house in which to plan their next move.

Within the house they found a fettered spirit amongst his belongings, clinging to the life which had been taken from him. While most of the group hesitated at the ghosts’ presence, it was all Dvallin could to do keep from putting the specter out of its misery on the spot. Unafraid and driven by the duty of all Doomguides, Dvallin pressed the spirit for information. They found learned bits about the city, mostly that it was inhabited by Durgar and a ruled by a group of individuals that wouldn’t hesitate to put them to the sword if they were found out. Further information about additional cities and features of the map was gathered as well as the identity of the beast which dwelled between Graystead and the city of Bones Hallow to the southeast. The spirit identified the beast as Mistagog, a hyrdra of no small renown and danger. Additionally, it came out in the course of the conversation that the beast may in fact be guardian the legendary Nai Ruatha, the sword which our heroes had first heard about what seemed like ages ago. After it became clear that the only additional information this spirit would yield was wistful recollections of its former life, Dvallin attempted to free him from the confines of this plane and allow it to find solace beyond this realm.

The heroes left the city with no small amount of haste, as Strogg felt the itch of thievery in his bones and sought to come away with some kind of prize. With a barrel of whiskey in tow, our heroes made for the southeast. Though the mission was still to find a way back home and deliver the scroll to the Athkats, the champions of Saharel could not pass up the chance to seek the Nai Ruatha and hone their skills against a legendary beast such as Mistagog. However, the group’s enthusiasm soon waned as another night in the accursed realm brought more dreams of corruption and madness and found Kelgar, the normally stalwart and motivated Dwarf, questioning the value of his own existence and seeking the sweet release of death wherever he could find it. Realizing that they could not press on in such a state, the adventurers took solace in Strogg’s ill-gotten whiskey and waited out the madness mere miles from the beast’s lair. With time the madness passed, and though a new corruption had found their dreams in the meantime, the group was able to assemble clarity of mind to continue on to the caverns which flanked the river…

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Session 27 - Escape from the Undermountain!
(Strogg's Journal)

We have escaped the cursed Undermountain! To where I know not, some strange shadow land. “Out of the frying pan …” as they say? I know not. But it is good to breathe fresh air.

The fatter dwarf, Kelgar, seems to have regained his sight, which he lost to a batch of bad moonshine. Luckily (for me), the effects were quick to manifest, as my thirst was even greater than his. So I still have both my sight and my thirst.

After our night of rest, we continued our explorations of the Undermountain. We came across a secret room of scrolls, one of which Dvallin burned to a crisp! I know not the contents, but the thin dwarf is truly fanatical in his beliefs.

Later, hot on the trail of the Shar monks, we found their alter room. They set upon us, Shar monks and bugbears, but we gave them a truly fierce fight. Kelgar felled the villain Romus with a double axe blow.

After a rest, we fought our way through the putrid lair of an owlbear, and later discovered our final foe, a demon beast who held the scroll that we had long sought. We fought it with every ounce of our remaining strength, and looked to be winning, when the very walls of the cavern began to shake and crack. Rocks fell, the ground was jelly beneath our feet, and I realized we would all be crushed — this would be the end of Strogg! But the mages in our party pointed to a magical portal, and as much as I feared going through, it seemed my only chance at life.

So here I stand, in some nether world, the Undermountain collapsed behind me. I can only keep my wits about me and continue to dream of wine, women, and song.

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Session 26 - The Mountain Falls
(Strogg's Journal)

I crouch in the dark, scratching out this journal by candlelight. We rest in a goblin dining hall, strewn with rubble. I am thirstier than ever, but with good luck I will have my morning whiskey for the first time in weeks. I’ll have Kelgar to thank for that, should I survive the first draught.

We continue to wander around this “citadel” looking for the Shar monks. So far I have been electrocuted, burnt by acid, stabbed by rusty spikes, and afflicted with Filth Fever. Still, I live. If I do indeed have the soul of a cat, how many lives have I burned up? If I do ever emerge from these endless stone hallways and see the sweet light of day, it will be as a more cautious man. Reckless Strogg is long dead.

Earlier I was attacked by no less than three flying monkeys. Or demons … I could not tell. Kelgar said he “had my back” as I descended stairs into a room with a rough-hewn ceiling. By that he meant perhaps he could see my back? He is a loyal friend but perhaps there is a language barrier. In any case he fell down the stairs and joined the fray, as did the others, as the winged monkeys descended on us and tried to rake out our eyes. I dare say we are battle-seasoned; we made quick work of the flying beasts. The room turned out to a be a crypt, repurposed to store fresh bugbear meat (the food of the winged beasts). Disgusting.

We debated for some time over the veracity of Aedric’s “map.” I cleaned my nails while the others decided our direction … if it was up to me I might just run screaming down the hallways randomly, looking for a stray beam of sunlight. I’m losing my grip … too many electrocutions.

We doubled back to the kitchen, and met a fine kobold my the name of Bolt. He fed us oxen and boar meat, and I paid him well for his trouble. It made us all miss Skurg, who was a friend of Bolt’s. This kobold was wiser, and could not be persuaded to join us.

From Bolt we learned of a goblin wizard. We set up an ambush in their dining hall. Investigating a statue, I triggered yet another trap! The room locked itself, and the stone mountain came alive and tried to pummel us to death.

A ferocity came over me and I attacked the rock gollum like a mad sculptor. We chiseled it to pieces! Kelgar took great affront at the stone being cursed, and led our charge. No sooner had we reduced it to rubble than a team of goblins and bugbears charged in and attacked. So much for our ambush. Their wizard, Jib, conjured a concealing cloud, but the evil gremlin was no match for our own casters. Kelgar’s promise of whiskey had renewed my spirit, and I fought as a man possessed. This new blade is dangerous … it sucked the life out of the goblin mage right before my eyes.

We have had our first restful night, and I feel restored … perhaps even a little hopeful. And more treasure! Jib was wearing lady’s underpants, and concealed within a fine pearl necklace. Should we escape this subterranean hell, I will be more cautious and richer both. At least for awhile.

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Session 24 - A Pit of Filth
(Strogg's Journal)

The square dwarf, Kelgar, has proved his worth! Though we found him lost and bedraggled, he has somehow regained his sense of direction. He pointed us North, towards the Undermountain, and a few short turns and hallways later we came to the steps of the Citadel of the Bloody Hand! Servants of Shar had defaced the archway, so we knew we were closing in on our quarry.

As is every place in this cursed maze, the steps were entrapped. A hail of boulders nearly crushed us as we started up the stairway. The wizard suggested we wait it out, and the trap reset … stones miraculously sucked back into the ceiling. We cautiously ascended …

A room with a glowing pillar/obelisk sort of thing … I know not its purpose. Though tempted to touch it, my wiser party mates restrained me.

We stumbled into the Shar monks’ quarters. Dozens of them! I thought I had surely, finally met my death day, but the monks fell as quickly as our blades flew. We defeated at least a score, and learned from a sole survivor that we were hot on the heels of party of monks we had been chasing.

A foul smell wafted from one of passages … our prisoner pointed us in that direction. Was it as trap? Yes, it was a trap, and as usual I bore the brunt of it. Filthy spikes penetrated my leathers. And that was only the beginning of the pain I would feel that day.

I scaled the walls of the garbage pit soundlessly, avoiding the filth completely. On the other side of the room I found a door, and called out to the others of my discovery. No sooner had the words left my lips than a slimy tentacled beast rose from the muck and attacked me! I fended it off as best I could, and together we defeated it. But now I am struck with a fever. From good luck to bad … who knows if I will survive another day. All I want is a flagon of wine, a warm bed, and the naked flesh of a harlot pressed up against my sore and broken body. Instead, I have a disease, a backpack filled with gold that does me no good, and a pate as bald as a pig’s buttocks.

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Session 23
A day of hidden dangers.

The party peered down the corridor and not 40 feet ahead was a minotaur, bearing a greataxe, outside the door to another hall or chamber. When approached the minotaur took a defensive position and boomed at them to turn back. The group tried to negotiate and reason with him, and while learning his name (Bjorkus) and that he was cursed with unnatural long life by one of Halaster’s sages to gurd this chamber, they were unsuccessful. Bjorkus’ stuborness in his task led to a battle and the group eventually felled the beast. Having restrained the minotaur, Strogg naturally opened the previously guarded door and revealed a huge chamber with a long-dead demon god statue, and several cauldrons of magical flame. Strogg nearly fell into a pool of acid, as a trap opened up a large part of the floor.
Strogg decided to get a running start and leap over the pool, much to the disagreement of the party. Stroggs attempts fell short and he found himself badly burned in the pool. But he swam the few feet ahead and climbed out to find the hair that had covered his body to be mostly burned off.
An investigation of the statue revaled two rubys set into the eyes, which Strogg retreived, and a covered hatch in the rear end of it. Aedric used his brute force to break the panel and revealed a small circular passage leading into the statue’s belly. Kelgar climbed up with quickness and courage, and was rewarded with the sight of mounds of treasure and a magical axe of dwarven make. Blaze baneThe axe was called Blaze-bane, and carried with it properties of cold and protection from fire.
After examining their map and the supposed location of the Citadel (being hidden within Mt. Waterdeep), Kelgar the ranger led the group in getting a better sense of direction. They decided to head Northward.
The hall led north, but opened into two wider chambers. The first of which was lightly illuminated with glowing white balls that floated about like dandelion seeds in the wind. They appeared to be somewhat insubstancial and the group charged through one by one. But no one made it all the way without coming into physical contact with them. Their touch brought on a variety of illnesses, but with some fortitude, all were able to shake the effects.
CloakerThe second chamber was completely dark and contained stacks of wooden crates. When Aedric stepped forward to investigate, he was consumed, as a Cloaker dropped from the darkened ceiling and cocooned the fighter. The group slashed and blasted at the foe, as Aedric struggled to burst loose. Finally the beast was defeated, but not without considerable collateral damage to Aedric.
The group decided to use the crates to block the entryways and mend their wounds here, for as long as it took. A good rest was in order.

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Session 22 - All that glitters is not gold
(Strogg's Journal)

As the last drow fell, I turned to Aedric and shouted in victory.

“We prevail again my friend! If only we had whiskey to celebrate …”

Aedric grinned, but his face soon fell. I turned and saw the fallen kobold on the floor, his body cut through by drow steel. Dvallin fell to his knees next to his fallen squire, and gave me a look that chilled me to the bone.

“This is on you Strogg … if not for your avarice my squire would still live.”

I looked down in shame. The dwarf’s words were true; if not for my jewel-lust, fate might have gone a different way.

We covered Skurg with a shroud and I said a few words on his behalf. I know not what I said, so clouded was my mind from grief and guilt. Never had I met a squire so loyal and bold. Truly, he was the only squire I had ever met, but still … he seemed a good one. Perhaps I spoke too long; when my speech was finished, Rivyett had dozed off and Aedric had retreated to a corner to sharpen his blade. Only the other dwarf — the square one — stood by, and gave me a comforting pat on the shoulder (which nearly knocked me down).

We made camp, as best we could in this wretched place, but were soon disturbed by scratching noises from one of the dark hallways that extended from the drow alter room. We soon saw the source of the noise — disembodied hands scratching their way across the floor. What horrors this place holds! Dvallin blasted the first wave to oblivion. We built a crude barricade to stave off the rest, and slept in shifts.

I dreamt of Lady Myrna and awoke feeling renewed (though I do wonder if she will recognize — covered as I am in black fur — I must find a wizard who can fix my condition). Rivyett complained of a nightmare — something about diseased skin. I nodded politely as I always do, in accordance with my policy of staying on the good side of a lady who can explode heads at will. Aedric, too, had dreamed poorly, and seemed truly shaken at a vision of dark helm and a darker voice. Aedric is a good man, but his bloodlust worries me, and now I wonder if it worries him as well. Dvallin also muttered darkly after awakening, though I could not tell if he had also nightmared, or those were his regular dark mutterings.

Resuming our search for the Citadel of the Bloody Hand (but not before I gathered the gemstones I had pried from the spider statue’s eyes), we wandered through a number of hallways. Aedric purports to be keeping a map, but I fear we will never again see the light of day. Even the dwarven ranger was lost when we came upon him. Kelgar has taken some spidery leather from the drow and stretched it around his sturdy frame. It looks quite uncomfortable. Both Kelgar and I took dark cloaks from the drow. The magical material makes me feel as if I could disappear into the wall, but the dark stuff is cold against my skin.

We stumbled across a secret door secured with the most infernal lock — I broke two picks trying to crack it! Aedric and Kelgar tried the brute force approach, but that failed as well, and the three of us ended in a bruised heap. Rivyett laughed heartily, and it was the first time I had seen Dvallin smile since Skurg fell.

As I checked my flask to see if it had, by any chance, magically refilled with whiskey, Kelgar called out from ahead. The hallway had opened up into a massive cavern with rough walls covered in fine ash. Aedric cracked a sunrod, revealing a massive, headless statue in the center of the room.

Does my curiosity sometimes get the better of me? Perhaps it does. I admit I thought this statue of red stone might be the very Citadel we were searching for (Dvallin reminded me later that a magical staircase would take us to the Citadel). In any case, perhaps I should not have attempted to climb the statue. The moment I touched it my body was struck by a powerful blast of electricity, which had the effect of singeing off a good deal of my newly acquired fur. I screamed in pain and ran, as magical bolts shot from the statues hands, attacking us all. Finding myself some small protection in an alcove, I reached into my Bag of Tricks, hoping to find a useful flying animal to investigate the statue. Alas, I drew a scorpion. Kelgar found me and reunited the party, and we crept out of the vast cavern (via the alcove I had inadvertently discovered), closely hugging the wall.

We next came to a wide room containing four pillars. Above each was a hovering object; a golden sceptre, a fine crossbow, a closed plate helm, and a long blade. I chose caution this time, and approached the second pillar carefully. Kelgar was not so wise, and grabbed at the crossbow. To my horror, the crossbow dissolved before the square dwarf could touch it, and in its place stood a dark armored wraith wielding a fearsome greatsword. I spun just in time to see another helmed wraith leap down from the pillar behind me, but I did not dodge in time. His sharp blade bit deep into my arm, and an electric shock coursed through my flesh (yet again!). The wraith moved with blinding swiftness, and had cut me again before I could properly react. My vision narrowed and bile rose in my throat. I wondered if I even deserved to live — what am I but a greedy old thief with no sense, no savings, and a powerful taste for whiskey?

A hand touched my shoulder and life flowed back into me. “Make this one count,” said a gruff voice. It was the thin dwarf, Dvallin, rending his own flesh to heal mine. I cried out and leapt at the armored appiration, tearing into him with my Subtle blade. A ghostly cry emitted from his helmet.

“Your sword is sharp, but you fight without soul!” I yelled, and stabbed him in the face.

Around me, the battle raged. I thanked Dvallin, awkwardly (I cannot look him in the eye), and joined the fray. Aedric’s wicked longsword tore into the wraiths, and Kelgar wildly spun a weapon in each hand and demonstrated a vigorous maneuver he later told me was named “two dog pounce” or some such. The Lady Rivyett hurled her fearsome magic at the wraiths, and soon we were victorious.

Unfortunately, the helmed wraiths left us no treasure. Just another trap set by a mad wizard!

We took a short rest, and continued down a hallway, relying on Aedric’s crude “map.” What a maze we are in. One would not be surprised to turn a corner and see a huge man with the head of a bull, wielding a great axe.

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Session 21
Curiouser and curiouser....

After dispatching the foulspawn that seemed to be stationed in the room with two pillars, the group journeyed forth with their “guide” of a half-drow, through the halls of Undermountain. Strange phenomenon seemed to linger everywhere, as Rivyet would often try focus her abilities to detect magic, only to find that the overwhelming presence of magic in this place, made it nearly impossible to pinpoint an origin for the mind-bending oddities that filled this dungeon.
The group looked over the scribblings of a map they had, and decided to go South (at least to the best of their knowledge). A long hall extended on. Beyond another door, the group found a pile of bones, floating atop an ancient throne. A skull floated in a stationary position, but it’s gaze seemed to follow them as they moved. Strogg moved in first and tried striking up conversation with the disassembled humanoid, but the skull just stared. A search of the throne revealed a sort of hidden compartment amongst the ornate carvings in it’s stone exterior, but there seemed no way to access it.
After minutes of silence, examining the bones, Dvallin’s medical mind noticed that every bone was accounted for, among the floating jumble. Furthermore, the feet and shins were intact, as though seated in the great chair. Dvallin then saw it as a puzzle. He began assembling the anatomy of the skeleton from the knees upward. When the final vertebrae was placed at the base of the skull, the skeleton let out a loud yawn, that caused all to reach for the hilts of their weapons.
“That’s much better.” The skeleton moaned. And the compartment at the side of the throne slid outward. Inside they found a valuable garnet and a pouch containing four “Stones of Shielding”.
Continuing down the long hall, the group approached a T in the road. As Aedric and Strogg stepped round the corner, they felt the blows of two clubs strike them. Aedric’s quick reflexes shielded himself from the attack, but Strogg was momentarily winded as the blunt object hit his gut. The entire group was surprised to see a wide-eyed dwarfin combat position. The dwarf was equally surprised to see them, with one of his former adventuring companions, Dusken Lightfall.
The half-drow, in the rear of their ranks, quickly turned and ran. She was out of sight in an instant.
The dwarf relaxed a bit, after the party announced their benevolent intentions. He explained that he was a part of a party that headed into Undermountain, through the Yawning Portal. But he overestimated the party’s experience. They were ambushed, and he was the only survivor, so he’d thought. He’d been wandering the dungeon ever since, but when he found out the date, it turned out to only be a week. The strange magic had clearly distorted his perception of time.
The Dwarf was a ranger, by skill and trade, named Kelgar Ironspine. A guard in Impiltur who’d left long ago to find his own path, he’d since become a sort of man-hunter. Dvallin and Kelgar shared some tales of Impultur, and Kelgar even knew of Strogg, through the heavy price that was on his head. He agreed to acompany the group, on the hopes of eventually finding a way out of Undermountain. Dvallin loaned to him his mighty warhammer and the group set off together.
Winding their way through the halls, the group heard voices from the other side of a curtain of darkness. Once they managed to get through the curtain (Rock? No… Paper? No… Ah, scissors!), they found the body of a recently deceased goblin. Kelgar found two sets of fresh tracks leading further through the hall. They all followed, but found many more paths shooting off in different directions.
Aedric listened carefully at the door ahead of them, and heard two goblins argueing about their percentage of the take. It seems they had killed and robbed the goblin whose corpse lay further back. Strogg took a listen around another corner as they all heard footsteps coming from that direction. Before long another large foulspawn wandered into the hall, and was delivered a few fast and powerful blows from the rogue, accompanied by the ranger wielding Dvallin’s mighty hammer. The foulspawn retreated.
Dvallin and Aedric decided to rush into the room that the goblins were arguing in, and surprise them. Surprised they were, but perhaps not as much as their ambushers. The goblins seemed to think that death would soon come for them, when they heard the sound of battle outside, and decided to act on an “end of the world” pact they’d made long ago. The party had accidentally interupted a less than tender moment of goblin felatio.
Aedric shook off the disgusting sight, and roared out a demand for them to drop their belongings and surrender. They were easily frightened and complied with the demand, but not without attempting an opportunistic back-stab, which ended with a deflected dagger and Kelgar’s heavy foot holding the goblin’s head against the stone floor.
Eventually, the goblins agreed to guide the group to the Sharists they were looking for (though the goblins were quite sure that they were looking for a shark). This, of course, ended in treachery, and the group ran right into a juvenile carrion crawler occupying a dead end. The beast was quickly dispatched though as the goblins ran off, deeper into the maze of tunnels.
The group back-tracked and tried a different direction. They opened a door, only to find themselves in the familiar room with two pillars, where they had encountered the two troublesome foulspawn. They had walked themselves in some kind of elaborate loop, and decided to mark this intersection with a directional marking, as to hopefully not get lost again. A moment was taken to reexamine the map, and they decided to head down the hall leading south, or so they hoped.
A door down the hall opened into a long chamber lined with more elaborate, stone thrones. Glowing lights pulsed in the seat of each one, except for two that had collapsed or been destroyed. In one throne, the body of a half-elf sat sleeping, engulfed in the glow of his seat.
Suddenly a deep voice boomed through the chamber, “DOOM!”
The party readied themselves for an ambush, but none came. Instead, a moment later, the voice bellowed again, “DOOM TAKES US ALL!”
This continued for some time, but eventually died off.
The group decided it was safe to wake the half-elf, in hopes of gaining direction or information. The thin fellow fell out of the seat and awoke with a jolt. His name was Dartwell, and he explained that he was exploring Undermountain when he found this chamber. He thought it would be a good place to rest, after assessing that the voice held an empty threat. He had just sat down a momment ago for a nap, but through the conversation, found that he had been asleep for three years.
The party transcribed their crude map, for which Dartwell was thankful, and he quickly departed.
There were two ways leading out of the chamber, one a thinner hall that stretched into the darkness, the other a shorter passage that glowed with purple light from the distance. The group decided to go toward the latter.
Within the next chamber was the grizzly sight of some kind of ritual, frozen in time. Three drow seemed to be sacrificing an elf at an altar to a long forgotten spider god, one of Lolth’s servants, Selvetarm.
There seemed no threat here, but the jewels set into the eyes were too tempting for Strogg to resist. The rest of the party attempted to restrain him, but the Eel lived up to his name and slipped through their grasps. He climbed the spider altar and pried stone after stone, until one crucial fumble sent a stone flying out and landing smack between the drow priestess’ eyes. Suddenly time was restored to the figures in the room and battle broke out!
The three drow were a formidable force, despite the party’s greater number. Clouds of darkness enveloped all but rivyet, and allowed crucial blows to slice into the heroes. The warlock focused her attacks on the priestess, but the female drow countered with an electric web that covered the party, trapping them in their positions and sending volt after volt of lightning through their bodies.
Eventually the day was won, but just as breathes of relief were let out, everyone turned back to see Skurg’s body spread out on the floor. His body had let out it’s final breath, and horror struck the faces of his companions.

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Session 20
(Found in an obscure notebook belonging to a deceased drow, at an estate sale in Luskan)

I was ready to give up. A whole year, gone. In an entire year, my handler hadn’t contacted me. I had given my life to this search. I’d sought the counsel of the wise. I’d sought the counsel of the dregs. I’d gained the same from both. Nothing useful.

I knew I’d be safe. Would that I could say the same for them. They, in their many costumes; robes, armor, weapons of power, great relics, practiced skills, all aided them not. This latest group looked very much more of the same.

..and then..

T’was the kobold that caught my eye. Don’t get me wrong – the oaf looked strong; the rogue’s daggers recently whetted. I certainly wouldn’t have picked the warlock for an adversary. But it was the dwarf – and his kobold pet – that gave me real pause.

Though everyone in the Portal would have gladly slit the throat of the little beast, the dwarf exuded calm; he manifested control. With force of will he gained acceptance for his doubtful companion.

I didn’t think I could pull it off. I felt doubt. I knew I couldn’t follow them undetected. This group had promise.

I decided to act.

I sang Heroes of the Hole to establish my welcome in this place. The joined voices of everyone around them would establish to this party that despite my heritage, I am accepted.

I was about to make the first move, when the best laid plans nearly unraveled. Will my life constantly be soured by these intrusions?

* * *

“Where are we going?”

There was laughter, which was rare. I didn’t have friends to play with. None of the people I remember ever smiled. Bulka was different. Bulka would smile when nobody else was looking. He would wink at me. I winked back. He was so big, and so strong, and so scary! The other men never crossed him. But he wasn’t scary to me. He understood me. He was my friend.

“It’s just around the corner lass.”

“There’s nothing there Bulka, just a pile of old rags.”

“You lie down now wee Duskie, this won’t take long, and you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.”

“Are you .. Bulka .. wait .. no. No Bulka! BULKA! NO! STOP!”

He was almost done. I know that now. I know now that my life could have been different. I could have very easily not seen his dagger, so close to my hand. I could have not grabbed it. I suppose most girls wouldn’t have grabbed it. It could have been less sharp. I just wanted my friend to stop. The hilt felt cold in my hand, the blood – warm.

* * *

As my mothers dagger began to penetrate the cloth of the drunken fool’s leggings, I regained my sense. It was close this time. I almost nicked him. It wouldn’t have been pretty, this party surely would have left without me. Luckily, my would-be suitor wasn’t quite as drunk as he seemed, and made a very sober assessment of my reaction, and of the dagger poised a fingers’ width from his femoral artery.

Wanting to be done with this nonsense, and seeing my opportunity fleeting, I asked the rogue for a bottle of the vaguely grape-flavored vinegar he was hawking. He obliged happily, thinking me to be a customer. As soon as Durnan handed me the bottle, I tossed it down, answering the question unasked by the rest of the party.

How deep is it?

How deep do you want it to be?

Seconds take minutes. Hours pass.

Crash!

The rest was details. They needed to follow some kind of cultists, connected with Thay. That gave me positivity that my course was correct. This group was not only powerful, but would no doubt keep any agreement we struck. I explained my goal. I explained my lack of a plan. I shared my scribbles. They tried to glean more, but of course that was fruitless. I know the most. None living have returned with so much as scribbles. I know the most; yet I know nothing.

After the descent, it was decided that we would explore areas to which I had not been, since none of my experience belied the merest clue of either destination..

My biggest surprise came in the hall of mirrors. Even after shouting a warning to simply run through, the lady warlock miscalculated the nature of the trap, nearly destroying herself with the effects of her own dark magic.

Beyond the chasm once more, again beyond the predatory oozes. We’ve only faced a single small group of foes, but they were fiercer than those I’ve seen in the past. Fiercer than foes I’ve seen take apart entire cohorts of soldiers. One was a brute of magnificent power, the other a mage of some sort. Both foulspawn. I’d not thought to see such this close to civilization, but the world I live in now is so different from the world I was born to. My expectations are but fleeting.

We must be ready. If these grues are so bold as to venture a mere few minutes from great Waterdeep, what could be deeper?

Then again, maybe they’re not bold after all.

Maybe they’re scared.

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