A Motley Crew

Cyrian's Log - Entry 0
Hell on Earth

Month XX, Day 1
Well, life sucked again today. I’d almost talked a couple of the other guys into a card game when yet another guard appeared at the last second. At the back of a barracks tent. At midnight. In the dark. If there’s some sort of low level Divination spell that they’re all using, I want one.

Month XX, Day 4
I tried to find a mouse or chipmunk or something to feed Little Sister today, but as soon as I went more than 15 feet from the tent, a guard appeared over my shoulder. Maybe a Contingency? Good thing snakes don’t eat much.

Month XX, Day 9
I said the word “escape” to myself, in a whisper, outside, with no one around, as a bit of an experiment. As expected, guards showed up immediately and beat me into the ground. I considered fighting back, but I don’t think I’d win. Maybe some kind of construct?

Month XX, Day 17
More or less given up on the idea of escaping, or even doing anything besides whatever the hell it is they want us to do. Their military training is terrible. I learned more brawling in taverns. They’ve put me in a group with a bunch of weird… things… including Reth, which just makes it that much more difficult to talk to anyone else. I wonder why I’ve been lumped in with them… this can’t be good.

Month XX+1, Day 3
Ok, the other guys in this group aren’t that bad. One of them is actually a fellow magi (Reth, necrophiliacs don’t count) though he doesn’t talk much (and has freaking wings!) Seems to be pretty good at summoning, though I’m not sure exactly what it is he’s doing. Wonder why someone like that got caught up in here?

Month XX+1, Day 8
Liela (a halfling) managed to sneak us some extra food today, putting her solidly on my impressed list. The guards obviously discovered this (no evidence, we’d eaten all the food, no waste) of course, but before the beating, I actually remembered what it felt like to be full again.

Month XX+1, Day 12
Deckard slipped this morning, and accidentally changed form when I was looking at him. That’s a neat trick. I asked him about it, but he wouldn’t tell me how he did it. Or let me near his spellbook. Pity. Would certainly be useful.

Month XX+1, Day 21
The guards took us all for training today, and “taught” us how to use a weapon. Hilariously, they picked Deckard for their example, and he beat the guard bloody before 6 others jumped him. The rest of us were beaten for good measure, but that’s a memory I’ll treasure for some time.

Month XX+1, Day 29
I think I’ve figured out what Silas is doing. He seems to be making deals with extraplanar beings. Not sure what either side really gets out of this, but I should keep notes.

Month XX+2, Day 3
Reth tried to make his stupid construct get his breakfast today. Not only did he manage to terrify basically every one of these stupid hicks, and spill the gruel, the guards very nearly irreparably broke it before they took their anger out on him instead. I tried to tell them it was a different skeleton, but that just made them beat me too.

Month XX+2, Day 19
Welp, that’s it. For whatever reason, none of the people here will even talk to any of us any more. We can sit down, and there’s just dead silence at the table. Most of us have taken to carrying the food back to the barracks tent just to feel less awkward, but Silas seems like he doesn’t even notice. When are we going to get out of here?

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 1
An escape?

Month A, Day 1
Aldarr rode back into camp today with some of his toadies. For the “leader” of the camp, he sure is absent a lot. This afternoon, he called for volunteers on a scouting mission. Our entire team volunteered. No surprise there. What could be worse than this?

We were lead to his tent, where we tossed up a Detect Magic for paranoia’s sake, as he wasn’t there to greet us. Surprisingly, one of the grapes on his table (displaying a glut of food inconceivable for those of us enslaved here) detected as Divination. Suspecting it was a scrying sensor of some sort, I of course immediately began declaiming how pleased I was with the accommodations. Needless to say, I spent a lot of effort toning down the sarcasm.

The lazy bastard eventually showed up and proceeded to get drunk, while telling us bits and pieces of our mission. Something about going to Bare because it was going to be or had been razed to the ground, and the opposing army was or wasn’t somewhere nearby. Whatever. As long as its out of here, I’m happy. He said we could help ourselves to the food, so we did, including pocketing the magic grape.

We were apparently to leave tomorrow, so we actually had the day free. To say this was an unusual occurrence would be a significant understatement, so none of us really had any idea what to do with ourselves. We ended up heading to the armory, where we discovered that the “army” didn’t have enough weapons to equip a hermit, nor did they have many actually useful items at all. We managed to scavenge a water skin or two out of spare parts, but I’m really not sure what the point of training us is if we’re not going to actually have the sharp bits of metal to stick in the enemy. Come to think of it, I would probably stab my corporal first anyways. We did, however, find another magic grape in here. Confused (and bored!) at this point, we took it upon ourselves to have a bit of a hunt for them throughout the camp, suspecting they were a possible reason for the inhuman reactions of our guard cadre, or perhaps enemy surveillance. We found a total of 7 grapes in all, all detecting of magic of the same strength and school. They were in the strangest places; completely illogical.

Whatever. We went to sleep.

Month A, Day 2
We woke up and headed out to find Aldarr getting ready, with a two guard escort and some weird guy in a cloak who didn’t speak. We didn’t talk much, and Aldarr rode drunk, so it was fairly unexciting the first night.

Month A, Day 3
Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.
Today passed pretty much the same as yesterday, but in the middle of the night while we were camped, this swarm of weird black bugs (we have officially dubbed “necropedes”) came and ate Eldarr and his two guards. Cloak-guy apparently doesn’t need to sleep, so he was up, but since he’s dumb, he obviously didn’t warn anybody. Or even seem to notice, until everyone else was panicking, actually. Maybe he’s just useless?

Anyways, the ‘necropedes’ seem afraid of fire, so we stayed near the campfire all night, only leaving to light the tents on fire and steal all Eldarr’s stuff. Hey, we might need it. His only real possession, a wooden chest, had a fake bottom, which we found and looted of a crappy dagger, a map with scribbles on it, and some black orb that detected magic of an unknown school. This was pretty huge for Reth, Silas, and I, but the others had no idea what the fuss was all about. That’s fine. They don’t really need to know.

Anyways, going back seems like a terrible idea (executed for treason, anyone?), and going forward seems like a terrible idea (more necropedes?), but the former is certain and the latter is not, so we decided to press on.

Month A, Day 4
Travelled by day, set up camp defenses by night. No necropedes. Maybe we’re safe?

Month A, Day 5
Shit, nope, not safe. Swarms of necropedes again. We were better prepared this time, but there’s basically nothing to burn out here.

Month A, Day 6
Found a derelict camp of the “enemy”. It had a half-dozen bedrolls, but only one survivor, some guy who’s lost his memory. There was a journal, but it was filled with ravings. Great. Is everyone in this country crazy? More necropedes at night. Still nothing to burn, nothing to climb. How are the citizens of this useless country not all dead of starvation? Discovered necropedes move literally faster than light, as our new addition sprayed some kind of beam out of his finger, only to have it dodged. Seems like being chased by them would be a really bad idea (and over very quickly).

Month A, Day 7
Walked all day, set up defenses at night again, but this time the necropedes started burrowing under the camp. Cloak-guy mixed some stuff together and completely failed to throw it at the ’pedes, giving me 3rd degree burns all over my body. I was tempted to leave him for the ’pedes after that, but it did provide us a way to run. Interestingly, the swarm as a whole moved much more slowly than we did, light-speed dodging aside. Perhaps some sort of group mind which requires concentration?

Month A, Day 8
As we’ve determined that we are faster than the ‘pedes, we’re sleeping during the day and running like hell at night. Seems to work so far, but if we run into difficult terrain, we’re all dead.

Month A, Day 9
Still going. Tired. Hate night.

Month A, Day 10
We arrived at Tithe tonight, which is completely surrounded by a wall of torches. Don’t know how they kept them burning, or, for that matter, where the wall came from, given the complete lack of forestation around here. Allowed inside by a particularly grumpy dwarf (aren’t they all) until Silas opened his beak and asked why they hadn’t all been killed yet, as the necropedes can dig under walls.

Master of diplomacy there aside, the rest of us were happy to just catch our breaths while the dwarf went apoplectic and the guardsmen started panicking. Maybe next time we can actually deal with problems out of the public eye or even after we’re actually inside the damn town.

Maybe not.

We split up to explore the town and discovered two things: They were tearing down old buildings to burn and use for the wall, and they were doing a similar thing in order to get food. I didn’t try the soup. Silas, our beloved Diplomancer, however, thought it would be a good idea to show off his new powers (turning himself into a living pillar of flame) in the middle of the crowded tavern. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with the townsfolk. Before the riot had even started, Cloak-guy had disappeared and we were being thrown out of town by an irate city guard.

Luckily, at least the bastards gave us some torches. It was enough to let us hit the ground running before the freaking ’pedes were after us again.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 2
Robbin' Hoods

Month A, Day 13
Traveled for two days continuing the regular pattern of life being terrible and the necropedes following in our trail. Some time late this evening/morning, however, they stopped as if they had hit a wall. We didn’t stop to check it out, but it seems for now like we might actually be able to catch our breaths.

Month A, Day 14
We caught our first glimpse of the forest today, but it’s still a ways to travel.

Month A, Day 16
Reached the outskirts of the forest. Desperate for food at this point, we entered the very edges to search for potables and just happened to run into a perfectly prepared ambush party. It’s got to be those grapes, right? Scrying is the only way I can think of for this much crap to keep happening to us.

We fought them off, finally, though one of them seemed superhuman. He did things I would have sworn were impossible if they weren’t kicking the crap out of my fellow party members. Anyways, we looted the bodies and found two more items that had that weird non-school of magic, as well as a normal +1 Longbow and some other basic stuff. One of the crazy babbling ambusher guys was still alive, so we tied him up to question later.

A short time later, we saw a horse and cart paralleling our course slightly behind us and angled over to take a look. Silas can apparently summon a raven and possess it, which is a neat trick. I wonder if I could possess mine?

Turns out the old guy actually ships corpses around. Big wagon. Full of corpses. Apparently everyone in Tithe had mysteriously died of food poisoning as soon as we had left the village. And somehow weird guy in his death cart outran us and didn’t get attacked by ‘pedes. I tried to get him to tell me where the corpses actually got shipped to (it’s not like he had Gentle Repose going on any of them) and he told me he had a buyer in Bare. I suppose there might be a couple of freaks like Reth around, but buying an entire village of corpses seemed kind of weird to me. Anyways, he shut up pretty quick once I mentioned we had a couple bodies from the forest here, and hurried off at a very slow pace. Should have disbelieved, he was probably just a hallucination.

Month A, Day 23
We can finally see Bare in the distance. We all seem to have been hit with some kind of mental modification magic, because our prisoner was dead of starvation, and I had clear memories of feeding the stupid bastard. Those damn grapes. I should really just tell Reth to chuck the cursed things, though then I wouldn’t be able to have the privilege of shoving them somewhere painful on the moron using them.

Month A, Day 24
We entered Bare through the East Gate; I’ve never really been a fan of this city, but I have been here a couple of times. There’s only one inn in this town, so I led our tired group there. The streets seemed pretty normal; maybe a little quiet, but you’d never have guessed there’s a war going on. I felt a little angry towards all these oblivious citizens. Maybe they should get dragged off to a slave camp? Reth and his idiotic minion usually draw a lot of attention, but we didn’t seem to this time. Maybe the war IS actually killing everyone’s curiosity?

Anyways, we showed up to the inn just as a couple of people were finishing their drinks and heading out. We all grabbed a table in the corner, and asked for food and a room. Damn, was I tired of sleeping on dirt.

Told room and board were 5 gold, Silas started bargaining in earnest. I couldn’t hear everything from where I was sitting, but it seems he didn’t know the local currency that well, and got tricked because of it, forcing us to pay 7gp each. Not exactly the best bargain I’ve ever seen, though he had gotten “entertainment” thrown in (/me eyebrow wiggle). This kind of ticked me off; we’d been marching for weeks on one meal a day and maybe 6 hours of sleep, and getting rolled by some know-nothing civilian really got my goat. I took Deckard aside and started working out a plan.

After most of the rest of the group had left the inn, I showed up in the fancy armour of Eldarr (it’s not like he needed it anymore) and ordered the guards to arrest the innkeep. They jumped to it, and I cleared the inn out, quoting security as an excuse. I emptied the cashbox, dumped the armour, and headed out. I didn’t expect the innkeep to be delayed for long; anyone who can remove all competition for alcohol consumption from a town this large has to be big in the underworld community. Leaving town in short order became my top priority.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 4
Betrayed

Month A, Day 24 – continued
The other guys had found an abandoned house they were considering making our temporary HQ, but after I explained the situation (mostly), they were on board with shopping and shipping out. Unfortunately, the war seemed to have dried up basically all trade here as well, so there wasn’t a lot happening in the market square.

We did find a guy who had a bunch of rations for sale, so we picked up a box for a fairly cheap price (particularly since I paid about half what I’d offered), but there was a minor kerfuffle with the guards (Reth’s “pet” does kind of stand out, though why she’d think he had anything to do with it, I don’t know…) and we ended up heading rather more quickly out of town. Apparently the innkeep had had more guards in her pocket than I’d expected.

Month A, Day 25
After travelling on from Bare, we saw a cloud of dust in the far distance. Supposing it might be the “invading” army, we decided to avoid it, if possible, but some outriders came and, very politely, asked us our business. After a brief conversation (and declining their “generous” offer to go back to their camp), we continued on.

Month A, Day 27
Came up to the side of the Abyss today. Holy crap that thing is scary. I don’t plan on looking over the edge until I can cast Fly. Possibly Quickened.

Month A, Day 28
Found a seemingly abandoned camp tonight that ended up belonging to Cloak-guy from before. We walked up very blatantly, calling out that we were friendly and looking to share a meal, but got no response. So we sat ourselves down at the camp and took a brief look around. Somehow he’d hidden himself well within the light of the campfire, and arose out of nowhere to hold Liela at knifepoint. He held her there for a while but did eventually let her go, and for some reason we didn’t immediately beat him into unconsciousness. Upon being told that his previous information regarding Bare was incredibly inaccurate, he shrugged it off. I know a con when I see one. We’re pretty clearly the patsies in whatever scheme he’s cooking up. He knows more than we do, though, so we just have to use him more than he uses us.

Month B, Day 5
We can see the Arch now. It’s not really all that large; from the map I expected more. There’s some sort of camp in front of it.

Liela went off to check the camp out and came back with some disturbing info. There’s some kind of invisible barrier just past the start of the bridge, and the bastards have a cage full of civvies they’re sending through in groups of six. The civvies, sadly, don’t seem to survive the process. The Amnesiac (who has told us he now remembers his name: Pravus) suggested blowing up the cage and causing a panic, but I’m not sure we should really be killing a bunch of innocent people to give ourselves a distraction. Killing the soldiers, now that’s an idea.

We grilled Cloak-guy on this barrier, but he wouldn’t tell us a thing. I guess he’s as in the dark as we are?

The casters discuss it amongst ourselves and come up with a plan to pass ourselves off as experts coming to investigate the barrier. We almost didn’t need to though, as we were completely ignored as we walked through the camp. Their security protocols are clearly garbage, so I’m not sure how we haven’t assassinated their entire command structure by now, but maybe our current ruler is just as incompetent.

Anyways, once we’re within reach of the barrier, and shortly after we begin to try some experiments, Cloak-guy reaches over to Reth, grabs one of those stupid magic grapes, and swallows it whole. He then procedes to run through the barrier (sadly, without the same fatal effects as the civilians). The camp’s soldiers NOW begin to panic, so the rest of us really have no choice but to do the same.

As I passed through the portal I felt a piece of me die, and I dropped to my knees. Little Sister was dead. Furious that the lack of information he had provided had brought this on, I turned on Cloak-guy with murder in my eyes.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 5
Hulk Smash

Month B, Day 5 – continued
I charged and swung at Cloak-guy, too enraged to concentrate enough to toss a spell in his face, but in my mindless rage, I couldn’t connect. After I’d exhausted myself, Cloak-guy told us that he was King Reginald, our current and rightful king, recently come to reclaim his hereditary throne, and gain whatever god-like power lay beyond this bridge to bring peace to his kingdom.

What a joke.

Reth may be an idiot who believes that necromancy is actual magic, but his memory isn’t gone yet, and it’s not like he remembered this loser’s family ever being in power. Besides, even if it was true, what possible loyalty could we have to someone who enslaved us and caused a war for his own personal gain? Even now, he’s freely admitting to abandoning his responsibilities in order to go on some ridiculous quest. I’m out of here.

Only, I’m not. The path back is blocked.

Oh, this bastard has to die.

According to Reth, though, he knows something about this orb thingy and the ugly dagger, so we might need him if we’re ever going to get out of this terrible place. Alright. I won’t kill him yet, but when we don’t need him anymore, I might do something that will change my alignment. . .

We walked for a bit more, and found another human on this weird island (no other life we can see, which really, isn’t that much of a change from the mainland, but it’s all black instead of brown). Reggie (that dick) seemed to distrust him, so I invited the new guy to join our group just to piss the bastard off. I don’t trust him either (somehow he showed up here AND found a wolf on this desolate rock?) but he at least can provide us with food so we don’t all starve. Good enough for me.

We start heading East towards the unusually tall mountains in the middle of the island, and camp when it starts to get dark.

Month B, Day 6
There’s a tense feeling in the air today, like we’re being watched. We continued marching on to the lower foothills, without seeing anything, but everyone was a little on edge.

That night, we were attacked by some strange mutated Umber Hulks, which seemed to be able to call (above ground) to summon others of their kind (from below ground), but that seems unlikely. Instead, I theorize that they probably have some sort of psychic link or hive mind communication which requires a Verbal component, or perhaps an SLA. Anyways, we barely defeated them, thanks to one of them succumbing to a particularly vicious badger nibble and another slicing its own throat with its claws, but we’re dangerously low on resources, so we took a minute to catch our breath before moving on.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 6
A Perfectly Logical Decision

Month B, Day 6 – continued
We quickly butchered one of the giant Hulks for food, but it was surprisingly stringy for such a huge beast, having less meat than your average chicken. We decided that the blood and corpses might attract other predators, so, tired, we pressed on, hoping to rest again in an hour or so. However, we found ourselves in a different place than where we had started, the Hulks having perhaps transported us to a new location, and we had to readjust our path back towards the mountains. Reggie was atypically useless during this time, wringing his hands and weeping silently at every little thing.

During our travels, two more hideous Umber Hulks popped up from the ground behind us, apparently having lain in wait for our party. In a sudden flash of brilliant insight, I knew that the foothills of the mountains to the East were made of a special kind of rock which repelled horrible underground abominations, and we all breathed a sigh of relief as we stood upon their tiny slopes, watching the Hulks disappear back into the earth from whence they came.

We finally slept then, and were blessed with no further encounters that night.

Month B, Day 7
Being naturally curious about the repelling of the Umber Hulks and how such creatures could even survive in a zone with no apparent prey, Pravus began scanning the area for magical residue. Surprisingly, somehow a magical coin (again, of no-school) had been dropped in a small crevice nearby, and he picked it up. We would not consider this a problem for some time.

Month B, Day 8
While walking in the foothills today, we saw a colossal murder of crows in the distance, nearer the mountains. It was decided by all that discretion was the better part of valour, and we made sure to avoid the location.

Month B, Day 9
Pravus flips his magical coin. Again, this does not seem like an issue at the time.

Month B, Day 10
Pravus again flips his magical coin. This time people notice, and we discover that it is an actual compulsion. He begins to bleed. Theories about curses abound.

Month B, Day 11
Pravus continues to flip his coin. At one point, an extraplanar portal begins to open above the coin. Panicking, we move away and the portal closes. This happens repeatedly. Eventually, Reth throws the coin far away and we drag Pravus along, seemingly successfully fighting the compulsion.

That night, Silas sits down with Reggie and has a long chat. Apparently Reggie has realized his authority means nothing to us and is now attempting to use guilt to manipulate us. He still refuses to disseminate any more information, proclaiming that he has none, and the rest of the party begins to sympathize with the murdering bastard. I remain unsold, but pretend to sympathize. We need that prick’s information still.

Month B, Day 12
Travel. Nothing interesting.

That night, however, a portal again begins to open in the middle of camp. At that point, it becomes completely obvious in retrospect that curses in this world can actually attach to people from objects, and that the only real solution is to throw the coin through the portal it creates. Much head-slapping follows, as we have made this much more difficult on ourselves. We head back.

Month B, Day 13
We push ourselves to the limit, since we can’t stop to rest lest that portal open again, and make it back to where the coin was lost, spending the rest of the night sweeping Detect Magic to find the fscking thing. We wait until the portal opens, then throw the coin through. There’s an explosion, and the gate closes, hopefully forever, since we have nothing to research now if it fails. We make a resolution next time to consult our respective memories and experiences immediately when encountering something unusual. We finally rest.

Month B, Day 15
We pass where we turned back last time and continue on, but although it is day, the air seems to darken around us. It’s quite eerie, almost like it’s twilight at noon.

Month B, Day 16
Still getting darker, starting to be difficult to see. If I didn’t have such excellent vision, I’m not sure I’d know where to put my feet. I’m impressed Liela and Deckard aren’t having more trouble, though I guess I’m still not sure what Deckard actually is. He’s looked like a dwarf for a while now.

Month B, Day 17
Can barely see my hand in front of my face. Super dark. We’re moving at a crawl now simply to avoid falling over. We continue on though; we know there’s no going back.

Month B, Day 18
The line of the foothills is finally curving, though it’s still pitch dark. Looks like we’ve finally reached the end. There’s some sort of constant buzzing in the air that raises the hair on the back of my neck.

Month B, Day 19
I feel oppressed, and Reth feels it too. It’s like our magic refuses to work properly. Not sure what could cause something like this, but it’s nothing pleasant. Still crawling through the dark.

Month B, Day 20
We found some sort of giant gate with ruins all about it. The light is a little better here, for some reason, enough that Liela found some sort of trap on the large keyhole in the middle. Neither the dagger nor the orb seems to fit in the keyhole, so the druid (Niramour) suggests we head back to check out what the crows were pecking at.

Meanwhile, Liela is ignoring us and begins searching the gate, and Silas flies quickly out of sight. Halflings are apparently good at this sort of thing, because Liela almost immediately calls us over. She’s found a slight indentation in the wall that would fit the orb we have in our possession. She twiddles with some of the runes, then we press the orb to the gate. It clicks open, and swings inward, according us a narrow pathway forward.

Niramour sends Smoke (her wolf) in ahead to scout, but I figure we don’t really have any choice and stride forward, Reth and Silas close behind me. Inside we find a radical change of scenery: A whitewashed village, a beautiful fountain, and robed villagers trundling around like zombies.

We split up to quickly investigate the village, but find nothing of interest, besides the fact that there seems to be literally nothing of interest. All homes are identical, and no villagers react to our presence. There is, however, a great deal of money in the fountain, so Liela and I take it upon ourselves to remove it. As a public service. Wouldn’t want the water to taste of rust, right?

Well, things start to go badly, and as soon as we get an acceptable share of the wealth into my bags, the town spontaneously catches fire and members of our party start deciding it to be a good time for a nap. There’s also some sort of whisper thing happening, but I don’t really pay it much attention. Those things are usually decoys, or in the worst case, compulsions, and according them respect is dangerous.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 7
Fire & Frying Pan

Month B – Day 20 – continued
What with all this fire and what have you, I expect the fire to have burned itself out where it started, so I ask Silas to look for that, but he doesn’t see any locations like that. Niramour then looks around for the same thing, and spots one immediately. Not to disparage the flying fairy in any way, of course, but you’d think that seeing something from an elevated position would be easier. Psh. In any event, we run through the horrible burning flames to what we hope is a safer location, only to see the weird villagers combining themselves into some sort of horrific demon figure.

Intensely curious as to the result of this amalgamation, Silas and I stare at it in wonder, but the rest of the group is terrified and panicking, grab the bag containing the fountain money from my hands, and throw it at the forming abomination.

This plan never works. Returning things you stole does NOT make the crime go away. You’re invariably better off keeping the loot and dealing with the fallout from it, because then you at least HAVE the loot as resources. People, spells, enchantments, governments… Forgive and forget is simply not a thing that happens.

However, it worked. I’m a little put off by that.

Before either of us could get a good grasp of how this creature moved, returning the melted coins melted the thing, and the village sprung back up around us, pristine and untouched. Given the warnings on the outside of the gate (do not come in, blah blah blah, death of the multiverse, etc), I am now of the belief that the people who made this place are either chaos worshippers or insane. What possible reason could they have to have a pre-end trap cancel/reset mechanism set up? Maybe they have rubber tipped scissors lying around to tempt us to run with?

Anyways, we walk out of the village and to the next gate.

Month B, Day 21
At the end of walking today, we reach the second gate. This one has two holes in it; cylinders approximately twice the size of the average human arm, at approximately that height with little metallic spikes in them. Before I could suggest using a summoned minion for this, a bunch of people (including that bastard Reggie) voluntarily put their arms in the holes, which then proceeded to (predictably) drain their blood, but also poison them. The stupid door kept asking for more, so I told it that there was a lot more on this side, but that it would have to open the door to get to it, so, lo and behold, the door opened. Stupid door. We walked through to see a creepy spider bound to it. Huh.

We were almost immediately enveloped in a weird misty fog thing, where I saw some things that weren’t possible, that I knew weren’t possible, but that I acted as if I believed anyways, completely lacking control of my body. That was not fun. Particularly when the things I very definitely didn’t believe started trying to dissolve me from the inside. Moving on.

Month B, Day 24
Spent a couple of days walking now, can’t see much, haven’t come across the third gate yet. Also haven’t killed Reggie yet, but we still don’t know how or where to use the dagger, so he’s safe so far. Bastard.

This afternoon we came to a ridiculous display of signs in every language imaginable (and several that weren’t). Oddly, though I’m usually pretty good at figuring out at least what they’re intending to represent, for some of these signs I couldn’t even get that. Anyways, they all said useless stuff like “Turn back”, “Doom ahead”, etc. Again, the people who made this thing are kind of dumb if they make the process one-way and keep telling you to go back. Maybe if they had some kind of a glowing EXIT sign?

There was a cobblestone path through the sign forest, so we walked along it.

We then came to a ginormous forest of impaled corpses. Much less pleasant than the signs. Oddly, Reth didn’t immediately try to start talking to any of them. Maybe his IQ broke double-digits? The cobblestone path continued through it, but it’s pretty clearly a trap. They obviously don’t want you going this way, so they’re not going to make the safe path this obvious.

IT WASN’T A TRAP. HOW WAS IT NOT A TRAP? The more I’m in here, the more it seems like they actually do want us to open whatever it is. Maybe it’s like a test of courage?

There was some faded sign at the final gate, along with two boxes with maybe-zombies in them. We ended up carving some letters onto the sign with the weird dagger because they were the only letters we could carve, but clearly Common was not the first language of whatever wrote this:

I (T) D (R A) W S
N (E A) R
O N L Y T H E E L D
M A (Y) (P A) S S

Maybe adding punctuation to the dweomer would have made it higher level? How about adding a subject for the pronoun? Well, it seems like Reggie knew what it meant, because he (with alligator tears) begged us all to go on without him, then shouted something about “For the line of Eld” and walked into the door, which then opened. Given that it says that only the Eld may pass, I’m pretty sure the son of a bitch just abandoned us here and we’re about to enter a trap. I might have to Clone him just to get my anger out. I don’t think a single body can take what I need to do to that guy. Besides where was his big monologue?

Niramour wants us to feel bad for Reggie. Well, looking at it from another way, it’s theoretically possible that we all share the line of Eld, and Reggie somehow knew that the door required a sacrifice, and that he stopped actually wanting power for himself (the whole point of this little quest), and found his sense of responsibility, and trusted us to do the right thing with the power we found, and…

Who am I kidding? That bastard screwed us hard.

Anyways, we went through the door (it was that or camp with the corpses; Reth wasn’t asked for his vote) and into… more mist. Lovely.

Month B, Day 25
We walked for a bunch, and came out in a forest. Quiet though. No animals or bugs?
I sent a raven up to check things out, apparently there are only three things of any significance in the area: A mountain dead ahead, a village just beyond, and a “black smear” in the distance, which everyone seems to believe is a castle for some reason.

I had a good idea for a new spell, given everything that’s been going on, so I cast it tonight so we could all get some good sleep. Creepy though; I felt like I was being watched.

Month B, Day 26
We walked up to, then started up the mountain today. Everyone felt watched tonight. I have a feeling I’m going to dislike this place just as much as the others. At least there’s a slight variety in food now, though we still haven’t seen any animals… I wonder how the plants are pollenated?

*Month B, Day 27
Made it to the top of the mountain, staying just this side of the ridgeline. Didn’t see anything else of any importance, just the “blur” and the village. Guess we’re heading to the village next. We can’t see any cleared area for crops, nor grazelands, but there’s smoke from the chimneys. Maybe a village of undead?

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 9
Joseph be Nimble, Joseph be Quick

Month C, Day 1 – continued
We decide to ignore the trapdoor and head North, given the sheer number of tracks. That night, we all feel watched again, but this time we actually see hundreds of eyes outside, watching. Not sure exactly what they’re watching, since there’s nothing to actually see, but maybe they can see magic? I wonder if I could figure out a way to see magic. Note to self, look into that.

This is kind of a problem, since the spell only lasts half a night, but a combination of some summons and spell-likes solves it for us. However, a bunch of our spells fail. Do the goblins, perhaps, eat magic too?

By daylight, the goblins are all gone.

Month C, Day 2
At around noon, we hear soft sobbing and cries for help, only to find Joseph hanging from a noose trap ahead of us. There’s some gore around that might once have been the remains of some other bodies, and Joseph himself looks rather the worse for wear. We heal him up, but I’m immediately skeptical. It seems unlikely he could have passed us to this point, particularly since the damage seems to have been mostly done last night. Also, there’s no real reason to have left him alive, given the state of the others. I suspect he’s a stalking horse; willing or unwilling, I’m not sure yet.

Joseph seems finally willing to talk about the villagers’ problems. He tells us the village has to sacrifice 4 people a month to the goblins so they leave it alone, and that they’ve been sacrificing travellers when they could. I think back to the village, and don’t really recall a lack of people, but I didn’t pay much attention. It’s quite strange, however. It’s not like there’s a road to the village, so I can’t imagine they get many travellers. And at 4 people a month, it’s unlikely the village could sustain itself for over a year, given the number of houses and estimated population. Even if it’s true, why sacrifice their only competent blacksmith, who seems to have made them weapons with which to fight the goblins in the past? And them not wanting to sacrifice us because we seem nice? I guess if they’re all saints, sure, but I’m pretty damn sure I’d sacrifice a nice person instead of myself.

Suspicious. Highly suspicious.

Somehow, he thinks he can get back to the village without being attacked. I really don’t understand this hunting party/village sacrifice/goblin attack dynamic, so I’ll just assume he’s crazy and go with that. He’s also volunteered his services as a guide up north, because apparently Deckard was nice to him now? There are also three large caverns that all tunnels lead to, and they’re nearby. Also, somehow the goblins are turning humans into goblins.

Well, for better or for worse, this latter piece of information makes Silas’s eyes light up. Mine too, I admit, to a lesser extent. I am certainly curious about learning a new arcane ritual. I’d just like to not be on the receiving end at the time.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 8
Welcome to Corneria!

Month B, Day 28
We walked close to the village, it appears they maintain a sparse, yet dense enough spread of trees such that there is a canopy of branches over all of their crops. And yet their crops aren’t dead. Maybe sunlight spells? I’ll have to ask Niramour if those would work, later. There’s a wall around the village, but the gates are wide open; no roads, I wonder if they expect visitors? Inhabitants look human, but they’re not doing anything… didn’t see any farmers, there’re cattle and game in pens inside the village, but no handlers… how are these people sustaining themselves?

There’s a bit of an argument between people who want to be cautious for once and those who think waiting is boring. Obviously, the latter win. Yay. We approach the village in the open, all together. I cringe inside, waiting for the torches and pitchforks.

Nothing. We get inside the gates, and the villagers glance at us, but continue on with whatever they were doing before. I don’t show it (of course) but I’m flabbergasted. All these people look human, but we have a demon and a freaking tengu in our group. At least we’re no longer accompanied by a walking skeleton, but clearly the demographics here are just as skewed as at home. I don’t remember ever seeing a demon before this all began…

In any event, there’s only one inn, again, but at least this time it’s justified by the small population of the town. Doesn’t look like they’d get a lot of custom. Even so, to be surprised when visitors go to the inn is not the most normal of reactions. Whatever, they let us rent a floor, and I was so happy to be in a real bed I collapsed immediately.

Sadly, I didn’t get to stay there for long, as the rest of the group wanted everyone to tag along on their “expeditions”. We went over to the blacksmith/general store, where there was a variety of slapdash weapons and equipment that looked like they had been made by a six year-old. Apparently, Daddy “disappeared” a few months back, and bringing it up shut the kid (proprietor) up quick. For some reason Niramour bought some spears, probably just to make the loser feel better about himself.

There wasn’t much else to see around town, just one weirdly opulent house, and one weirdly opulent temple. Given the average wealth here (renting a floor cost 1.5sp!!), seeing mahogany and marble as building materials is a little surprising. The temple is to some god named Oss or something, who rides around picking fights? They had a library, at least, and a little ink, so I lent some money to Silas for some spell ink, but they only had the one bottle. Ugh.

That night, the “hunting party” returned, with some goblin heads on sticks. Much merriment was had, and I refrained from taking the life savings of three of the younger hunters in a card game, mostly because I wasn’t sure when we were leaving. Silas hit it off well with Joseph though, the “lead hunter” guy, and got a copy of a map from him, which made him choke and run upstairs. He told us later that he’d heard of this place (now defined: demiplane), and what little he’d heard had been bad. Gee, unexpected much?

By this point we’d heard a couple of things about the surrounding area:
-Town name: Treita
-The castle in the “Weeping Lands” is known as “Castle Forlorn”
-~100 years ago, something bad happened.
-There are goblins in the area
-Geography isn’t truly stable around here
-Something seems to be screwing with the townsfolks’ memories
-Villagers occasionally “disappear”. No one is willing to talk about this.
-Priest guy we talked to came from Gedarric (sp?) a year ago
-Mayor “Erebuck” disappeared from the public eye a short time ago and is locked up in his house. No one sees him.

So we decide to maybe check out the latter of those and use some spells and sneaking to investigate his house. We find a guy that looks semi-corpse like in a back room counting money in a ledger book, and not much else besides piles of money. /drool

During this little escapade, however, Liela sees a figure go into the forest a short distance away. After we finish our reconnaissance, we head over to check it out. Somehow, the scent of this guy is indistinguishable, which is weird (apparently. I mean, what would I know about it?) but might be Joseph. Niramour sends Smoke out to follow the trail, and I guess a water clock or something, because he returns exactly on time, not having found anything.

We give up, and head on out to bed.

Month B, Day 29
We go downstairs, no breakfast, and when we mention our plans for the night, we’re asked politely to leave town. A few of the group went to go hit up Joseph for more info, but he seems to have flipped personalities overnight. There is some discussion of dopplegangers and replacements, but nothing comes of it. We also spend a little bit of time testing out the other weird dagger we have, but it shatters. All I can say is, good thing we never relied on it in combat, if it was that fragile.

Month B, Day 30
Joseph and a few of the other hunters are waiting outside the inn when we awaken, offering “last minute services before [we] leave town”. Apparently something Deckard said pissed him off, because he left in a huff. That attitude spread quick, and suddenly the villagers wanted nothing to do with us. Clearly there’s some form of mind control happening. Welp, all the more reason to get out of here then. Too bad, originally I’d thought we could help them out a bit. Jerks.

We walk due north from the village, following the tracks from two nights ago, and camp in the Rope Trick. Once more, there are some feelings of being watched.

Month C, Day 1
The trail we’re following converges with many other tracks, then near the end of the day spread out for a bit before reconverging and disappearing. A close examination of the disappearing point reveals a trap door leading into the hill.

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Cyrian's Log - Entry 10
A maze of twisty passages, all alike

Month C, Day 2 – continued
We looked around for about an hour before finding the trapdoor Joseph said was here. There’s a really strong smell in here that is apparently goblin spoor. Yuck.

We spent a bunch of time wandering in crazy thin passages, and although I wasn’t claustrophobic before, I’m seriously considering it now. Other places of note: An insanely large pool of blood, cool, which wasn’t clotting. Clearly inhuman blood or magically affected. Couldn’t detect any magic though. Maybe chemicals? Also, a room with a bunch of gore, plates, cups, etc. Apparently a “feeding room”, and Joseph recognizes this. I don’t understand, STILL. If this is how they live, why haven’t they done SOMETHING? Heck, from the looks of this room an airborne poison would kill scores of the little bastards. (Side note: These “goblins” aren’t actually very small. We haven’t really seen any yet, but I suspect their “goblins” are actually “orcs” and it’s a regional dialect thing.)

Finally, we found a chapel to some sort of Walking God who gets picked on a lot and runs away from everything. There was a door behind the chapel that lead to a room that was crazy full of spider webs. Surprise, surprise, there were giant spiders in here! I’m still concerned that there was nothing actually in here to eat, but this IS a big room, and we can’t see the ceiling, so maybe there’s an egress to the forest, where there is equally nothing to eat, but in a very natural, wholesome way. Also, one spider wasn’t just BIG, it was +++BIG+++. We did eventually kill it, though Niramour seems to have actually hurt herself in so doing, but it looks kind of like it’s going to explode now. I wish I’d brought a raincoat. :(

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