Into the Depths

Artanas's Log: Preparing for War (Session 18)

We spent the day at the nearby shops, procuring magic items we were unable to get at the Pillar of Dorzun. By the time we had returned to Gemspark, his friend, Sartosh had arrived.

He told us that no matter how well this turns out, part of Kelas’s soul is gone forever. While he will be mostly whole, there may be some differences in him.

The plan is to pull each Soul Leech into a fake astral plane, where we will be able to fight them. Upon their destruction, we will use specially crafted prisms to catch Kelas’s soul. Once we have all three, we can restore him.

Making the prisms will take some time, however. Time we don’t plan on wasting. Glass Spear is our next target. With the staff complete, Isabelle teleported back to the Pillar, then took us all to Selecod’s Respite.

Putting that place behind us, we started towards the Dwarven outpost. However, on the way there, strange creatures burst through the cave walls.

Isabelle quickly wrapped one in enchantments, making it suddenly docile an unaggressive. We quickly dispatched another, causing the rest to flee, including the charmed one, who took Isabelle with him!

Fortunately, she was able to convince him to bring her back with little fuss. However, Jaridan was acting even stranger than usual. When the beasts first arrived, he fled, then a ways from the fight, began to babble incoherently to himself. Out of nowhere, he comes running up and attacks both Kyari and Brottor.

It didn’t take much to figure out that the creatures had worked some magic on him. However, he managed to fight off both Isabelle’s attempt to dispel him, as well as Brottor’s tackle. Kyari’s paralyzing magic, however, seemed to work much better. Brottor and I held him down, just to be safe… And Brottor hit him once for the trouble he caused.

With Grim-long (for that was the creature’s name) following us, we continued on our journey. Having the large, chitinous creature with us is a bit unnerving, but it Isabelle can get him to help us fight the Orcs, I won’t complain.

We encountered a Dwarf named Udib, who agreed to take us to the village of Wind-Scream. Apparently our freeing Bromack had earned us a certain amount of fame here. This helped us get a meeting with the Grand Duke Kolmark.

I like Jaridan well enough most of the time, but he has problems keeping his mouth shut. While waiting for our meeting, the conversation turned to the Orcs. I made it clear in no uncertain terms that quips about Mira’s situation will not be tolerated.

With that bit of ugliness behind us, we met with the Grand Duke and his wife, Zasit. They’re willing to lend us troops for our assault, and we sat down to plan strategy. The biggest concern is the Orcish Shamans, but if we can teleport behind enemy lines, while the Dwarves attack the main gate, we may be able to take them out before they can join the battle. Meanwhile Brottor will join the main force, using his divine powers to open the gates before joining the rest of us.

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Artanas's Log: Finding Kelas (Session 17)

Having a Bag of Holding stuffed to the brim with gold and mithril, and a friendly town to spend it in has offered us new options.

Of particular note is the fact that Morul the Runemaster can produce scrolls and staves of teleportation. Rescuing my family will still be difficult, but the walls this tears down make me hopeful that it won’t be too much longer before we’re all standing in the sun once more.

The staff will take over a week to create, so the plan is to head after Kelas in the meantime. Once the staff is complete, we can use a scroll to pick it up, then we will teleport to the Dwarven outpost and raid Glass Spear. Mira will be free, and the ones responsible will die.

First, however, we spoke to King Udib Strongfist, requesting permission to use his town as a base. Family and clan are important to the Dwarves, so I wasn’t surprised that he was sympathetic to my situation, but I was grateful all the same.

Our audience complete, we set out immediately on spider mounts. At the end of the second cycle, we arrived at the lizard inn we had stayed at before. Jaridan played his flute again, although his performance was… off. Isabelle sang beautifully, though. I wanted to join in, like I did last time, but my family seems so close right now, I can’t think of anything else.

The next day, we passed by a Mhudran city. Kyari summoned rain for their spores in exchange for passage.

We reached an Arhu-Ghet village by the end of the day. They told us to go to the “building with sharp edges”, clearly an inn designed for sighted travelers. It was crawling with those damn Black-Skins. I sat at the bar nursing a glass of Moonglow and tried not to come up with excuses to start a bar brawl.

Isabelle came to me, telling me some sleazy Black-Skin was bothering her. It was all the excuse I really needed, but when I confronted the creep, he was more confused than defensive. Something odd was going on, and I couldn’t quite find a good enough reason to hit him.

Some good came of the time spent there, however. Isabelle was able to discover some of what happened to Kelas. It seemed the slaver who had him was named Moradu Visren, but when Kelas fell ill, he ended up in the possession of some Shu-Rei, and he’s most likely in the Talrendi city a few days from here.

We left the inn and put the Chasm behind us. It was an uneventful day, but as we camped, the underdark presented us with another of its odd creatures. He showed up during Brottor’s watch this time, tunneling through the rock itself. He was about as tall as a Halfling, but very skinny, with pale, flat face and big eyes. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but Brottor was attempting to explain the surface to him. Judging from Brottor’s face, I’m not sure the little fellow really understood, but he got really excited.

Apparently Jaridan stole a lens off of him at some point. It lets him see invisible things, although Jaridan was disappointed that it didn’t give him dark vision. Isabelle got upset and used her unseen servant to sent the lens back to the digger.

Not much happened the next day. Which is too bad, because I really felt like hitting something. I’m sick of this journey. Sick of not being able to see, sick of needing magic just to talk to people, and just plain sick of staring at rock and stone for weeks on end.

Thankfully, I was in a better mood the next day, because late in the afternoon, we encountered a Shu-Rei caravan. The told us Kelas was with a doctor (or something) named Gemspark. They, in turn, were apparently bored, and looking for anything “interesting.” Brottor told them were to find the small digger. I’m sure he’ll qualify.

We finally reached the Talrendi city to find an odd sight. Several Talrendi were outside the gate, staring at the wall, which shimmered like the desert in midday. Apparently some spell work had been done on it, and they couldn’t get in. Jaridan tried to see if he could touch it, but about half a foot away from it, he pulled his hand back, complaining about the heat.

The blessings of Kelendenras protect me from heat and flames, so I tried it myself. It was hot, but not painful to me. I forced the gate open, and the spell evaporated. Apparently this was a new attempt at a defensive spell, accidentally cast while there were people outside the gate.

The Talrendi in charge was excited about the performance of the spell, despite my ability to break it. Not surprisingly, he was unfamiliar with Humans and Elves, and asked us many questions. Jaridan tried to be… creative with his answers.

Gemspark was on the far side off town, and it was late in the day, so we found a nearby inn. The collection of drinks the bartender had was astounding, and Brottor managed to find something that was too powerful, even for him. He was convinced his barstool was trying to eat him. I assured him that I would kill it as soon as it made its first move. Jaridan, however, decided on a less helpful approach. He snuck up behind Brottor and grabbed his legs. Fortunately, Brottor was a bit too far gone, and nobody got hurt. Jaridan got a flask of the stuff “for later use.” That worries me some.

We headed to Gemspark first thing in the morning. His house wasn’t hard to find, as it had sparking gems outside it (No one was certain if this is where he got his name, or if he put them there because of his name). A servant had us wait in the parlor for a bit before bringing us to Gemspark and Kelas.

My cousin was laid out on a table. He didn’t move a muscle, and for a moment I feared he might be dead. Gemspark explained that he had placed him under a stasis spell while he attempted to cure him. It seems he had been attacked by some foul creatures called Soul Leeches, that fed on his very spirit. Gemspark had trapped each of the three in a mirror, with what was left of Kelas’s soul residing in a fourth.

And this was the problem. We needed to figure out some way to get the bits of his soul the leeches had eaten back. My Touch of Vitality was useless. Brottor tried feeding positive energy into the leeches as well as casting Restoration on Kelas, but neither had any effect.

Gemspark has a friend, a powerful psion who might be able to help us. We’ll set out to find him. If he can’t do anything… we’ll have to start exploring more desperate avenues.

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Artanas's Log: The Ancient Temple (Session 16)

The temple is oddly built. In one of the side rooms, we found a large metal pillar. The stairs in the room lead to the roof, where one of the spires was made out of the same metal.

We decided to focus on the main hallway. There certainly are a lot of traps in here. Fortunately, Jaridan is very good at ferreting them out, and even better at dodging the ones he overlooks.

The double doors at the end of the hallway had some strange writing around it. It looked vaguely Elven, but I couldn’t read it. Kyari used her magic to translate it. It read:

Only one who is pure of spirit can enter

Brottor couldn’t open the door, but Kyari was able to. Inside, we found a great hall. Leading across the floor was a long metal path, forged from what appeared to be the same metal we saw earlier. At the far end, a man sat slumped in a throne, pinned by a sinister looking sword. He wore silvery armor similar to what the undead warriors wore, only much finer. Shards of crystal littered the ground around him.

On the pathway in front of him lay another man in yellow armor. While both men were coated in dust, neither appeared to have been touched by the passage of time.

Frescoes lined the walls. They seemed to depict two races. One appeared Elven in nature, while the other vague resembled Hobgoblins. They seemed to be fighting over two crystals, which exploded in the end. The last scene showed Men and Dwarves and other races, suggesting this was the birth of the races as we knew them, although I’ve never heard of any religion that presents our origins like this.

Kyari entered the room first, and we all followed. Jaridan used his immovable rod to ensure the doors did not close behind us.

There was a lot of magic in both bodies. Brottor sensed evil as well, both in the man on the floor, and the sword that held the other in place. I felt the urge to remove the sword from him. After all, if the sword was evil and the man not, it seemed there could only be foul reasons for it being there in the first place. However, it was decided we should explore more of the temple before we disturbed anything.

There were stairs in the first hall, leading both up and down. Treading on the wrong step would cause the stairs to turn into a slide, leading to a row of spikes at the bottom. This proved to not be a great obstacle, as Jaridan once again used his immovable rod to lock the stairs in place.

The roof held a large pyramid-spire, bigger than the others. Inside it held four pillars. What any of these were for, we could only guess (and Jaridan did, several times).

Heading down, the stairs turned into a spiral. They stopped briefly at a door before continuing their descent. Jaridan peaked through the door to find some sort of crypt. Crystal coffins held bodies as whole as the day they died. However, some had broken, the bodies within rotted away to mere skeletons. However, as Jaridan looked around, these skeletons rose. He quickly shut the door, and Kyari sealed it with stone.

Pressing on, we came to another door, but thinking it was likely another crypt, we proceeded to the bottom of the stairwell. Here there was a much fancier door, made of metal. After some searching, Brottor found a keyhole, and we used the key the Eared-Folk had given us.

The room was large, but mostly empty, save for several metal pillars. What was worth noting were two holes knocked in the walls. We squeezed through the smaller one to find a giant pile of gold and jewels.

However, there was a crazed Dwarf who yelled that the treasure was his and promptly attacked us. He smelled horrible. Like a dead body left in the sun.

We pulled back, hoping to lure him into the open where we could press our advantage. We could hear him rummaging in the cave, until he showed up with a strange necklace. Pulling an gold orb off of the necklace he threw it at us, where it exploded like one of Isabelle’s fireballs. I got the brunt of it, yet fascinatingly, I was unharmed. It must be a blessing from Kelendenras.

Faced with the full brunt of the six of us, the undead Dwarf died quickly, dissolving into a horrid-smelling ooze. But the treasure was ours! Enough to fill the bag of holding, and mroe!

The other passage led to a small chamber with dark runes carved into the walls. As we watched, a shadow detached itself fromt the wall and came towards us. The cave was too narrow to fight in properly, so again we retreated, but the shadow did not seem to follow us. Kyari once more used her magic to seal up the entrance.

We returned to the great hall to investigate the two bodies there. Kyari was unable to speak with the dead king. So the plan was to take the king’s sword and use it to impale the yellow-armored man, in case he rose, then remove the evil sword from the king’s body.

There was a flash of silver light when Kyari picked up the sword, but nothing we could do seemed to have any effect on the body. However, when Brottor pulled the sword from the other man, his body crumbled to dust, leaving a glowing form behind.

He spoke in a language I could not understand, but Kyari, with the help of Isabelle’s Tongues spell, translated for us.

He spoke of the ancient battle depicted on the walls, and how they slept, waiting for the Day of Judgment. The other man came to stop them. His soul is still in the temple, animating the dead. He told us that the sword could defeat him, and he gave his armor to Kyari. There were more weapons in the armory that we might be able to use.

We rested in the armory, looking over some of the loot we had obtained. There were a few magic items in the mix, including one we determined with a little experimentation would allow the wearer to speak, understand, and even read other languages.

We headed below once more. The skeletons were still pounding at the stone wall Kyari had made. We gathered outside where we had sealed the shadow, but even as we were preparing for the fight, things turned sour. There was a loud clatter from behind us that could only be the skeletons breaking free. Before we could respond to this, the shadow stepped through the wall and attacked.

It was a frustrating fight. Even with the silver spear I had taken, my attacks would pass through him like nothing. He would lash out at Kyari, then duck back into the confines of the wall.

In the end, Kyari used her magic to break open the passage again, and Brottor ran forward, using his Lay on Hands to channel great amounts of positive energy into the shadow. It was too much for him, and burst apart into nothingness.

The skeleton warriors had fallen. We stopped briefly so Brottor could cast the evil sword into the Chasm, and we headed back to the Pillar of Dorzun. Tomorrow, we resume the search for my family. I only hope the gold and magic we gained here will make up for the delay.

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Artanas's Log: Entering the Temple (Session 15)

The next day we set out again. About mid-day, we encountered a group of Black-Skin traders. Brottor spoke with them. They hadn’t seen my family, but they told us that the slavers mostly dealt at the far side of the Chasm, so at least we were heading in the right direction. Brottor tossed them some gold for their time, and we left.

As we proceeded, strange lights appeared in the fog. We headed forward with caution. The lights turned out to be arrayed around a tunnel in a pillar that served as a village for a group of lizardmen. They seemed quite hospitable, and I was reminded of the Boatmen earlier in our journey.

We stayed there for the night. Jaridan produced a flute and began to play. Isabelle sang along, and I joined in, too. Kyari danced, while Brottor demonstrated a… um, Dwarven ditty. I’ve been pushing myself so hard these last few weeks, it was nice to just enjoy a moment.

Kyari used her magic to look at Kelas. He still appeared sick, but silver-skinned people seemed to be looking after him.

We reached the temple around midday, as best as I could tell. There was no bridge, but Jaridan has a simple, but brilliant solution. During our stay with the Dwarves, he had picked up a magical rod, that, when a button was pressed, would hold perfectly still, even if you let go. He had additionally crafted a mechanism that would allow him to press the button with a length of rope.

Attaching the rod to an arrow, he shot it as far as he could before stopping it. Once he was on the far side, it was a simple matter to attach the rope there. His trip back was more… eventful. Attempting to slide down the rope, he fell, and if it weren’t for the rod, we would have lost him. Ardan had to go help him reach the rope again.

Kyari decided not to bother with the rope and summoned a giant owl to carry her across. Apparently she found Jaridan’s plans amusing to watch.

The temple’s ground was strange. It was, well, real ground. Not rock or mushroom, but dirt! As we moved towards the temple, the skeletal remains around us rose up and attacked. I quickly struck one down as it moved towards Isabelle, but then Brottor called upon his Goddess and they all fell to dust.

Now that we were able to take a look at the temple itself, we saw it was covered with engravings of trees and stars. It was probably on the surface once, but we had no way of knowing what dark power had brought it down here and infested it with the undead.

Large bronze doors barred our entry, but Jaridan found a secret mechanism that let us in. Pressing on, he almost fell into a cruel looking trap, a stone that gave way, and spikes that would pin his leg in place. He scouted out a few more traps, and Brottor and I proceeded carefully.

That was when two large skeletons came to life, one down each hall. Brottor charged one, nearly getting skewered himself by another trap, while Jaridan and I braced ourselves for the other. We held them off long enough for Kyari and Isabelle to arrive and make short work with their powerful magic.

I wonder what else this temple has in store for us.

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Artanas's Log: The Pillar of Dorzun (Session 14)

The next day we encountered the Tri-click. They’re a strange, bug-like people. The iron ones seem to not be very smart, but a silver Tri-click escorted us to the gold skinned (if skin is the right word) Magister.

Jaridan was very excited; it seems the Tri-click had waffles, or at least, something similar.

We traded the orb for the gems as promised, and he thanked us for killing the Dark Dwarves. Unfortunately, he had no knowledge of my family. Apparently the Black-Skins took a different route to the Chasm. The Magister said he found the practice of slavery odd, a sentiment that immediately raised them up in my opinion. They did occasionally trade out the iron workers, but it they’re merely drones, much like ants, and not really aware of themselves.

The Magister was able to tell us more about the Chasm. It’s apparently a sort of bubble in the earth, with villages built on giant stalagmites. It’s filled with steam rising from the pools of lava far below. He warned us to be wary of the various monsters there, flying ones and ones that spat acid.

Jaridan had one of his strange ideas. Apparently using his parachute (which I admit did work reasonably well the fifth time) and the steam, he could theoretically fly from one stalagmite to another. However, getting the cloth needed to built the parachute would take more time than I was willing to wait.

We continued our journey from the Tri-Click. Camping later on.

I seem to be a magnet for the strange races down here. Tonight on my watch, I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the darkness. I hailed whoever it was in every language I knew, and he spoke back in several I could not understand.

I used the Tongues spell stored in the ring in order to converse with him. He said he was one of the Eared-Folk, and as he drew closer, I could easily see why.

He offered a secret in exchange for magic. When pressed, he revealed a key that would lead to a treasure in a nearby temple in the Chasm. I woke Brottor, for he carried the magic items we weren’t using, and some of the others woke as well. After some discussion (and a failed attempt to “give” him the Tongues spell), we offered him one of the demon orbs. He “ate” the magic from it, and discarded the now lifeless stone. I pocketed it, thinking perhaps it might still have some value.

The next day passed uneventful. The path took us downward, and presumably the Chasm was not far ahead. As we camped, Kyari used a spell to see Adriana. Disconcertingly, Kelas wasn’t with her. Other than that, she seemed to be okay, all things considered.

There was a complication the next morning, however. Ardan would not wake. When Kyari examined him, she found a large bug had attached itself to the back of his neck. After Jaridan and my conversation on the best way to kill the bug earned us a reproachful glare from Kyari, she and Isabelle came up with a reasonable solution.

Isabelle’s magic missile could kill the insect with little chance of harming Ardan. They used spells to increase his resistance, and I used my abilities to grant him Kelendenras’s toughness. It worked well, and the dead insect fell from his neck, where Jaridan promptly stepped on it. Ardan seems a little sluggish and more grouchy than ever, but otherwise okay.

We passed through a Black-Skin checkpoint and entered the Chasm. Giant bridges disappeared into the thick mist.

We were traveling one of these bridges when we found a large gate, finely crafted and covered in Dwarven runes. Beyond it was a massive column of stone that ran farther than I could see in either direction. This was the Pillar of Dorzun, home to a friendly group of Dwarves.

Captain Olib, was very excited to see surface-dwellers, esepcially Brottor, and invited us in to drink with him as he told us about the Pillar. Apparently the entire inside is a giant vein of adamantium. They’ve been mining it for generations and will be working on it for generations to come.

More importantly, from my point of view, at least, was the fact that they had somehow managed to create surface-style farms down here, meaning they had real wheat and pork!

Again, there was no sign of my siblings coming this way. While I’m sure we can pick up the trail again, I worry about the time it will cost us. We were able to get some information on the temple however. It is not far from here, but is apparently infested with undead monsters. With the skilled warriors, our powerful magics, and the gifts bestowed on me by Kelendenras, I doubt it’s anything we can’t handle.

As loathe as I am to take yet more time from our pursuit of the slavers, the shops here in the Pillar offer good examples of the powerful magical items we could be using if we had the coin to buy them. The sacrifice of a day or two here could spell the difference between a successful rescue of my family and dying, leaving them to their cruel fates.

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Artanas's Log: Dark Dwarves (Session 13)

As I was nearing the end of my shift, I encountered what was quite possibly the strangest thing since I first entered these damn caves.

I saw something move, and suddenly there was a large glowing mushroom creature in front of me. I can only guess it’s one of the Mhudran Valagar told us about.

It made some weird noises at me, and I tried to ask if it spoke any language I knew. In the end, I had to wake Isabelle and have her cast Tongues on me.

Communicating with the Mhudran was still difficult, however. Not from any failure on Isabelle’s part, but because I don’t think the Mhudran really see the world like we do at all.

Still, I asked it if it had seen Black-Skins traveling with young Humans. It had, and as far as I could tell, it seemed like they had indeed gone to the Chasm.

I thanked it for the information, when it started sniffing the air. It informed me that the nectar was not developing properly, as it pointed to Brottor. I asked what was missing, and it told me of a red root that could be found on rocks that dripped water and smelled of fish.

I thanked it again, and it went on its way. I told Brottor what the Mhudran had told me, but I’m not sure he believed me when I told him a giant mushroom told me how to fix his brewing.

Once more on the road, we decided to take a small detour near the Dark Dwarves marked on our map. Isabelle thinks we might be able to get more money for the crystal from them. The idea of screwing over the Rhaen also appeals to me.

However, it was not to be. We encountered a band of Dark Dwarves in the caves, and it soon became clear they were not a people we could make deals with. They were blood-crazy, apparently worshiping gods of chaos. The leader rode a strange horned demon that appeared to be made of brass. They asked what skulls we offered, and when we tried to show them the gems left from the demon we defeated the day before, they attacked.

The battle was long and hard. Brottor showed the true might of a Dwarven Paladin, facing down both the leader and his fearsome mount. But through luck and skill, we managed to fell them.

I suppose we return to the initial plan, delivering the crystal to the Tri-click. Pity, I hate the idea of helping the Rhaen, even if it does suit our own needs.

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Artanas's Log: The Rhaen City (Session 12)

A colossal bridge lead us to the Rhaen city. We were stopped at the gate, but allowed in once they made sure we knew the rules. We were forbidden from using hostile magic, and we had to stay in the outer section.

We examined the fifty foot wall that stood between us and the castle and discussed plans on how to get past it. Kyari’s stone-sculpting spell isn’t quite up to the task. After convincing (to some degree) Jaridan that setting up a carnival was far too complicated, I came up with a plan.

We had overheard that the prince liked to take strange women as his concubrines. Not only did we have two beautiful surface women with us – one an elf, no less – but they were both capable of casting magic, even if any equipment was taken from them. We could attempt to sell them as concubrines, and they could then break out of the castle with Isallha. With some luck, we might even get some money in the process.

Realizing that we didn’t know where Kelas and Adriana were taken past this point, we searched around where the slave camps had been set up. It seems we were about five days behind them. No one was sure of the slavers’ exact destination, but it was agreed on that they went east, where there were several settlements they did business with.

We spent the night at an inn close to the wall as we got ready. Jaridan, with the aid of the tongues spell told the guard we wished to present the girls for sale to the prince. They sent out a page who returned with another Rhaen in fancy garb. He spoke with Jaridan for a while. When they returned, he said they’d send for us in a day or two.

Jaridan seemed to like this Rhaen more than I’d have suspected. He seemed to have too much in common with Ardan for Jaridan to get along with him at all.

So it made a certain amount of sense when Brottor said that he could feel that the man was evil. Truth be told, I think he found most of the city unsavory for similar reasons.

I spent the next day anxiously waiting for a summons that never came. Jaridan amused himself by creating a strange device he calls a “pogo stick.” I envy his ability to entertain himself, even in these conditions.

On the third day, the messenger finally came. In his ongoing attempt to confuse everyone he meets, Jaridan gave him the pogo stick as a tip.

We were lead to the gates, where the same well-dressed Rhaen greeted us. I forced myself to be wary, not wanting to be struck by whatever trick he had used on Jaridan two days before, and promised I’d set him on fire the moment I caught myself liking him.

He and two guards escorted us to where the prince, his adviser, and another half-dozen guards waited for us.

The adviser quickly made it clear that he knew exactly who we were. Seeing little use for subtlety by this point, I demanded to see my cousin.

The prince laughed and told me that Isallha was quite happy here. I insisted that we be allowed to see her, and to my surprise, he agreed readily.

After a while (my cousin was always one to take her time getting ready for just about anything), Isallha entered the room. She raced forward and embraced me, and I hugged her back, but it wasn’t the same as when I had encountered my mother, or even Taras. There was no urgency, no sense of relief in her.

She insists that she’s happy here, and quite convinced that she understands the fullness of her situation. I’m not sure she does. She’s easily swayed by fancy things, and I can see how she might find living in a palace of ice to be more exciting than our farm.

I reminded her that she’d never be able to leave her, that she’d never see her family again. Kyari added in that she’d never see the sun for that matter, but she insisted that it was more important that we save Mira and the others, convinced we’d die if we tried anything here. We tried to convince her that the prince would tire of her, but to no avail.

In a last attempt to reach her, Brottor took her aside, and tried to explain to her that these people were evil, and that the joys they showed her would not last. The urge to forget trying to appeal to her and just attack the Rhaens was hard to ignore.

In the end, I had no choice but to give in to her wishes. Getting out of here with her would be hard enough if she wanted to be rescued.

I told the prince, however, that if he ever mistreated her, I would find out, and I would make him pay. I doubt he took my threat as anything more than hot air, but if he wants to underestimate me, so much the better.

I left the room with a sour taste in my mouth, but I reminded myself that this was not the end. I’d be back for her when the others were safe. Perhaps by then she’ll have wised up.

The Rhaen in the fancy robes stopped us on our way out. He claimed he wanted to earn our trust by offering us a job. He had an orb of information that needed to be delivered to some people named the tri-click. He assured us it would be on our way.

I was about to tell him where he could stick his job, when Kyari agreed to do it. I couldn’t deny the payment might help us find the rest of my family, and the sooner we were out of this accursed city the better, so I swallowed my pride and went along with it.

But putting the Rhaen at my back did little to lift my spirits. Brottor, too, was visibly unsatisfied with how things turned out.

So we were both somewhat excited when a beast showed up for us to vent our frustration. It was a vile creature that positively smelled evil. It ignored Isabelle’s fire, and many blows seemed to bounce off its skin, but we proceeded to hammer away at it. Remarkably, the creature then split in two, but we did not relent.

Finally, both halves fell, dissolving in fire and leaving only two strange crystals behind. They appear to be magic, and may fetch us coin if we can find someone interested in them.

Only one of the Arhu-ghet it had attacked was still alive. I let Kelendenras’s energy wake him. He thanked us, offering us some of the mushrooms he had been gathering when he and his companions were attacked.

At least I saved one person today.

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Artanas's Log: To the Castle of Ice (Session 11)

I had thought the cave-in would add days to our journey, but Kyari cast a spell that carved a small tunnel out of the rock. It was not enough to go all the way through, but she said she would cast the spell again the next day.

In the mean time, she had uncovered the body of one of the Rhaen, and used her magic to make him speak. It seemed he was part of a troop of fifty, set out to kill the Red-Skin raiders, although that clearly had not worked out well. We also learned that the Rhaen city was about a day’s journey away.

Brottor not believing the Red-Skins to be evil, used stones from the cave-n to build cairns for them. Our fight aside, I have no real quarrel with them, so I helped.

The next morning, Kyari finished the tunnel. It was a tight squeeze, but the time it saved us was well worth any discomfort.

We marched for what seemed about a day, making camp in a small grove of mushrooms. Kyari used a new-found spell called Sending to communicate with Isallha. The spell only allows for 25 words, so the information we got back was limited. It seems Adriana and Kelas are still in the possession of the Black-Skin slavers, and that she herself is in a “castle of ice.” I don’t think Isallha truly understands the situation she’s in.

Brottor decided to catch some of the little flying mushrooms to see if he could try his hand at the Moonglow Valagar gave us. He also discovered that they are quite nasty to eat raw. Isabelle used one to try out a new spell she had learned. I’m not sure exactly what happened. A blurry shape appeared, and the mushroom just… died.

When we woke the next morning, Isabelle’s blanket was dusted with a strange powder. Apparently the mushrooms had identified her as a threat and tried to attack her during the night.

Hitting the road again, we came to a split. The Ogres told us to stay left. Cursed beasts, either spiteful or just ignorant, because several hours in, we reached a cave strewn with poisonous mushrooms. It was quite clear that no more than a few could have passed here recently, much less the fifty Rhaen that had come from the city. We doubled back, losing most of a day in the process. I resolved to be more careful with what trails I follow and what creatures I trust.

Kyari sent messages to Adriana and Mira. Adriana and seems okay for the moment. Her biggest complaint is that they’re riding on the backs of spiders, but Kelas has apparently become ill. Mira, however… Her message was two words: “Save me.” Sleep didn’t find me that night.

The next day we encountered the bat-like Ahru-ghet. They seemed a friendly enough race. They paid tribute to the Rhaen, in order to be left alone. We learned we were close to the Rhaen, but the chief warned us of a Rhaen called the Mind-Breaker.

We spent the night with the Ahru-ghet, and headed out the next morning. Maybe the dead Rhaen knew a faster route, but we had to camp once more. Kyari used Sending to communicate with Isallha again, to learn what we could of her situation. She told us she’s “getting married, or something.” Again, I don’t think she really understands what’s happening. She has an irritating tendency to not think. She did tell us that only a few Rhaen guarded her.

The next morning, we reached a checkpoint. A brief discussion let us in. The Rhaen city now stands before us.

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Artanas's Log: Battle at the Cave-In (Session 10)

We passed through the Ogre territory and headed for the Rhaen. Perhaps I was too focused on the thoughts of reaching my sister and cousins, for I alone did not hear the rumbling of the cave. Brottor said it sounded like a cave-in.

We proceeded forward cautiously, coming across a field of dust and fog, no doubt thrown up by whatever caused the rumbling.

Kyari suggested that fire might burn away some of the debris in the air, so I breathed a stream of fire down the corridor. Kyari conjured rain to pull the rest of the dust from the air. No sooner had we cleared the way than a troop of red-skinned men charged at us.

I engaged one, but our fight did not last long. Isabelle sent a spark flying past the fight, where it blew up into a massive fireball, felling the entire troop in an instant, and obscuring the field with fog once more.

A bolt of lightning leapt from the fog, cutting through our ranks. Unable to see the target, I roared fire in the direction it came from. We engaged them, Kyari conjuring up beasts to distract their mage while we felled the warriors. It was a bloody battle, but victory was ours.

They had many items that contained magic. While Isabelle used her own magic to discern their purposes, Kyari cast a spell that compelled the bodies of the dead to speak. We learned that the caved in passage next to us used to lead to the Rhaen and that it a trap laid by the red-skinned people that had brought it down upon them. The corpses also told us the closest passage to the Rhaen now lay through the Mhudran territories.

Finally, she asked what the magic items did. There was a lot that would help us. Gloves to make us stronger, or more nimble. Rings of magic and protection. A cloak to raise the power of our spellcasters. And magic armor and weapons.

I took a pair of the gauntlets that would give me strength, leaving the other items to my fellows. Brottor must be close to carrying his own weight in weapons by now.

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Artanas's Log: Ogres and Beetles (Session 9)

We headed east. The journey is not a short one, and we had to make camp.

Apparently, some Black-Skin traders came by during the night, or whatever one calls it down here. Brottor spoke with them and got some information, along with a flask of a drink similar to brandy. Apparently we would have to pass through Ogre territory to reach the Rhaen. They let travelers through, but only at a price.

We did meet the Ogres the next day. Jaridan, with the help of the tongues spell, attempted to trick the Ogres into thinking we had already paid. Sadly, it only complicated matters, as they sent off a Goblin to fetch their chief, Thorguk.

Tiring of waiting, we decided to attempt to sneak past them. The idea was to place a silence spell on the gong, then hit both Ogres with darkness when they investigated it and run past while they were both blind.

Again, our plans did not work out so well. One of the Ogres was not quite as dumb as he looked, and noticed Kyari’s spell. While he was too close to say anything about it, he got the attention of the other Ogre who started pounding on the walls.

The Ogres, for all their size, were not skilled warriors, and they fell swiftly.

We came up with a third plan. We would link arms, and Kyari cast a darkness spell on us, while Isabelle cast invisibility on Brottor. Brottor, just outside of the sphere of darkness, could see and would lead us through the caves. The idea was we would seem like nothing more than more of the endless shadows of this place.

Fate was not with us, however. After about 45 minutes of traveling like this, we stumbled upon what could only be Thorguk and about a twenty Ogres. As I understand it, he has an orb that detects magic, or people, or something, and he used it to realize we were there and dispelled our magical darkness.

I thought we were done for. Two Ogres in a narrow cave was one thing, but these brutes could easily surround us.

I believe Brottor felt similarly about our odds, and decided that a last-ditch attempt at diplomacy was our only hope. Being a Dwarf, this meant offering Thorguk some of the brandy he had bought from the Black-Skins earlier.

We managed to come up with an explanation that spared our lives while still being truthful enough for Brottor to feel comfortable with it. We told them that there had been confusion about how much we had to pay, and the sentries became mad and attacked us – all technically true.

The Ogres don’t seem to care much about the lives of their kinsmen, or at least Thorguk doesn’t. He was willing to forget about the two Ogres we had killed, and agreed to grant us passage to the Rhaen and back if we killed a creature that had been harassing the traders recently.

They took us to a small, narrow cavern, far too small for any ogre, which was why they didn’t kill the beast themselves. Down the passage we discovered a vile beetle that spit acids at us. With our weapons and the girls’ spells, we slew the beetle.

We removed its head as proof of our deed. This should buy us passage to the Rhaen.

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