Tak’s Adventures (D&D 5e) from ‘The Long Way’

 

Almost every Wednesday I can be found online, either running a D&D campaign, or playing in one. In “The Long Way” I join my friends as Tak, a bard of almost-selfless nature. Happy to be adventuring with friends, and helping them out in any way he can. Historically I played Rogues or Fighters, so a bard was a step away from the norm for me. He’s been a lot of fun for me, and a lot of headaches for the GM. The first session we had was pretty standard setup. Introduce characters, find out our mission etc etc. His tale starts from the second session. It’s still ongoing, so will be updated as it needs.

A pre-warning. In word, this was 69 pages long…

 

I have a tale to tell you. It’s not one of mine, its one I’ve had passed down to me. The person who taught me the tale, was herself taught the tale. It’s a tale of Heroes, Monsters, and the many many ways mistakes can happen.

It doesn’t take place here in our world, and if I’m honest with you, the world our adventure happened in is one you’re unlikely to have heard of before. However, I’ll try and fill you in first on a little bit of the background.

The Kingdom of Elum is one formed almost 400 years prior to our story beginning. It takes place on a landmass split between the noble races of man, Dwarves, Elves and Aarokcra; and the savage races of Orc, Goliath, Dragonborn, Tiefling and Gnome.

In a vision, the Leader of the noble races, a human by the name of King Loran declared war on the evil from the north, seeking to bring the entire land under his rule, and make it safe for all. He had three orders of Knights formed, the Order of the Hawk, the Order of the Tree, and the Order of the Storm. Under his command, his armies fought and won a drawn out war, ending in a fragile peace with the understanding that the northern savages were under his rule, but could manage their own cities.

The North/South border was formed, and each side respects its borders, and rarely crosses unless in time of great need.

North of the borders, the farms plundered and damaged during the wars struggled to provide what was needed to maintain the population, and a blight started to creep in.

It is here that we join our group of not-yet-heroes.

Welcome to the city of Roccor. It is, for the most part, constructed of simple materials. Wood, mud, cloth. A simple glance screams “Orc camp” but its larger than that, housing tens of thousands. Close to the seat of power, in a small side-room stands an elderly Dragonborn. He has instructions to expect a group of strangers. Each has been requested, not for their strength, but for their availability and expendability. They weren’t to know this though.

First to arrive were two Gnomes. A male and a female. The Male gnome discreet, and with eyes darting around looking for danger. The Female, grouchy and nursing a hangover.

“Ahha, you must be Flower and Dandelion!” The elderly adviser shuffled towards them beaming.

“Erm, she’s Dandelion, I’m Flower, hello!” Flower didn’t make eye contact, and his words left his mouth quickly.

Dandelion belched.

“Come in, come in, please have a seat, I’ve invited a few others. They should be here momentarily”

A few moments wait, no more, and in strode a Goliath. He was somewhat tanned, with the tribal tattoos that most Goliaths wear. His tattoos though also bore scars across them, and his eyes were a milky white colour. Padding next to him a large snow leopard.

“Ahha, you must be Arn.” And the adviser turned to look at the cat. “Oh, and Echo?”

“Echo.” Confirmed the Goliath, and the cat’s eyes turned towards the two gnomes. Flower withered into his chair, and Dandelion snarled at Echo.

Arn walked towards the seating area, ignoring the adviser, and Echo followed.

It’s worth noting at this point that Arn is completely blind. This may have been hinted at in the strangeness of his eyes, but despite a lack of vision, he seems to have no difficulty navigating. That said, he does struggle when Echo isn’t around.

Flower bravely tried to strike up a conversation with Arn, only to be ignored, so instead he drew a dagger and started whittling.

Next to arrive, a tall willowy half-Dragon named Tia’Vari. A wizard, if her spell-book was anything to go by. She strode purposely into the room. Nodded to the adviser, walked straight past him, and took an empty chair. He started to greet her, but was too slow, the moment was lost. She took out her book and started murmuring to herself.

The final person to arrive, was a Tiefling. It is he, who’s words we have learnt the story by. Tak, a slight built young man, with a reddish tint to his skin. He could almost pass for a sunburnt human, but for the two small horns poking from his forehead, and the thin serpentine tail poking from the back of his long coat. He seemed to be permanently smiling, possibly at a joke he’d not yet told, or an awful pun.

The adviser, who I really should have introduced by now, was Rhodrin Yenrahn. He coughed politely for attention, and began to explain why they had been summoned.

Some time ago, the last heroes of the north had been commissioned to investigate the blight plaguing the land. Its origins were originally believed to have been caused by the passing of armies through the farmlands, and this is the tale fed back to the people. In reality, the blight came about through magical means. They sent the four Heroes to investigate.

Tokable and Grellan, a gnome and goliath partnership. Tokable skilled in the use of magic, Grellan skilled in the axe.

T’Sith, a Dragonborn paladin. Bastian of righteousness. Champion of the oppressed.

The Dragon. In this part, I’d tell you all about him, but his history was murky. Some claimed him an actual dragon. Others had him pegged as a half dragon with an over-enthusiastic nickname.

They were sent to investigate the blight, find the forest warden, and heal the land.

They didn’t come back though.

Rhodrin’s mission for the group wasn’t as complex. Find out what happened to the heroes.

Up until this point, the information we have comes from the Rokkor archives. From this point on though, we reference Tak’s journal entries. It will perhaps read a little one-sided, but this is the perils of a direct report from a Bard.

 

 

Chapter 2 – An honest to Gods quest!

Waking up in an actual bedroom was a new one for me, normally it was under a table in the common room. Grabbing my stuff, I headed downstairs, eager for this new adventure to begin. Tapping away absent-mindedly at my lute, I hummed a few bars of “The fighter carried a rubber sword” and stepped into the common room. Dandelion was already up drinking ale, and Echo sat next to Arn eating from his plate. a slightly blurry eyed Flower stepped in behind me, and seated himself next to Dandelion. I took the last spot at the table, and gulped down my breakfast ale.

Looking around at the rest of the party, I realised we were missing one vital component to form the stereotypical adventuring party. Without realising it, this thought bubbled to the surface. “Shouldn’t we have a cleric if we’re going adventuring?”

Somewhere in the heavens, stars aligned, Gods smiled, and something in the shadows snickered.

The Tavern doors opened, and a Goliath of rather round girth entered.

“Greetings,” He said, “I’m looking for the adventuring group sent by Rhodrin.” He paused, almost expectantly.

Flower was the first to show signs of interest. It’s possible he had the smallest hangover.

“Yeah, that’s us,” he said, “I think so, at least.”

“Rhodrin sent me, said something about a quest?” Replied the armour clad giant.

“I think we’re off to hunt for the Forest warden. You up for that?” replied the small Gnome.

“Sure, why not”, replied the Goliath. Which was nice, because they don’t always sign on without a bar brawl.

Our new Goliath friend’s name was Drax. He went on to tell me a lot about his war God, but I kinda zoned out. Religion often has that effect on me!

After some chit chat, we decided not to wait any longer, and headed out in search of this guardian.

Stepping outside, Horp the Orc (a somewhat slow-witted stable-hand) was waiting for us, with 5 horses in tow. I grabbed the prettiest, and leapt into the saddle. Realising that the two goliaths were glaring at me (even though one is blind, that’s an impressive feat…) I realised that taking the largest beast was probably not sensible. Instead I grabbed the second prettiest horse. I shall call her Clarabell.

We rode for several hours, before reaching the gnome home forest. Lots of the little folk skittered out of our way as we rode through. They were quite elusive, and I guess we only saw them because Dandelion and Flower rode point. As a side note, those bunny mounts are bloody fast. But they look pretty silly hopping along.

We came upon a clearing, and heard a scream up ahead. Flower skulked off to check it out, returning shortly afterwards to beckon us onward. A lone Gnome sat in a clearing, sobbing over the loss of her swine. She claimed that Spider-like beasties had surfaced, and made off with them. This really is turning out like all the stories! We had an honest to God’s quest to complete!

We investigated the area, finding a small clearing with a cavern entrance. Arn and Drax lowered Dandelion into the hole, and once she’d confirmed it clear, everyone else followed in. I quickly checked with the gnome that she would watch over our mounts while we hunted the attackers, then followed down into the darkness. I’m glad I waited a bit though, as both Flower and Drax slipped and landed in the dirt. I’d hate to muddy my clothes!

Once down in the caverns, Flower started scouting for us. I must say, that little gnome certainly knows how to be quiet. He pretty much vanished in front of my eyes. It was incredibly impressive. He returned shortly afterwards, telling us that this place was inhabited by crabs! Really…. Crabs!

He led us to the room they inhabited, and slapped Dandelion in the face. She went a little mental… I’ve seen it before, but frothing at the mouth always makes me a little uneasy!

Following them all into the next room left me a little breathless. Seeing crustations this big was a bit of a shock. I guess you could say I was shell-shocked.
Really folks, I’m here all night.

The party made swift work of these crabs, and moved on. I spent a few minutes sifting through the remains, but found nothing worth keeping. I might come back later, and look for crab meat to take back to the pig lady.

Moving out of the room, Flower started to follow a trail of blood. He was a little nervous now, and reported back that he’d spotted bi-pedal spider creatures in the next room. Not being sure what he meant, I went for a look. Apparently shoving a torch in the face of a creature isn’t considered friendly, and the bloody things hissed at me.

Fortunately, I was carrying Arn-away, and the Goliath smacked one of them with his short sword.

All hell broke loose. Dandelion set fire to the web that was housing these things, and a melee erupted. I even got to stab some spider beasties myself after our cleric accidently awoke two more in the next chamber.
long story short, we killed them all, and found some nice stuff. A cloak from a corpse earlier (a dead elf of all things) turned out to provide extra protection. and a ring from the spider beasties made people healthier. I gave the cloak to Flower, and the ring to Dandelion. I hope they’re grateful!

Now we’re resting, and hoping that more spider beasties don’t show up in the night!

 

 

Chapter 3 – Dungeons and… More spiders!

 

After a frantic battle, I was feeling exhausted. They never mention in the songs just how weary you can get from swinging a sword around. It was always Strong Heroes, with Muscles of Stone, and Wills of Iron. Never “The weary hero collapsed in a heap, hoping not to wee himself”. Great, now I needed a wee too.

Looking around, I could see the same weariness on the others faces. Well, all except Dandelion. Dandelion just looked angry. I reached around and grabbed my Lute, strumming a couple of notes, and trying to gauge the mood. I practised a few of the lines I’d been working on so far, telling the tales of the group.

Watching the cave entrance whilst I played, I spotted the soft glow of light approaching the cavern. So as not to alert the intruder, I carried on playing. Tia’Vari stepped into view, wielding her glowing staff. She looked disdainfully around the room, turning her nose up at the corpses.

I carried on playing, and started at the beginning of our adventurous tale, completing it for my new audience. When I’d finished, I safely stowed the instrument, and lay down to sleep. Whilst sleep came quickly, the dreams of clicking biting monsters weren’t far away.

Waking the next morning, We set out again, looking for a different path. Drax reclaimed the dead pig, taking it back to its owner, and Flower led the way, darting between the shadows, almost invisible to the eye. His shriek alerted us to the next danger, another group of crabs. Fortunate at not being caught unawares, I threw out another handful of faerie fire, highlighting the area, settling around two of the three attacking crabs. Dandelion leapt in to attack, and Tia threw ice daggers left and right. Arn, with the powerful Echo at his side, stepped up to join the fray. I stood back, preferring this time to use my bow, rather than the length of steel I carried (some people call this a rapier, to me it’s a stabby stick). It was a short fought battle, with the heroes emerging triumphant. Sorting through the shattered shells and crab meat, I pulled a small pouch with ten gold pieces in, and Tia found a second Chitin band. Turning to the others, I saw that Flower had once again pulled the ripcord on his clothing, and was slipping away into the shadows. The rest of the group hustled up, and followed shortly behind him.

Annoyed with the delay of moving quietly, Tia charged on ahead. Bursting into the next cavern, she almost walked straight into another group of Etticaps. With a muttered ‘Oops’, she quickly made herself invisible, leaving the Etticaps casting around for more targets. This was a slightly bloodier battle. With the Etticaps quickly gaining the upper hand. Echo fell within moments, leaving Arn blinded and confused. I jumped in, healing the great cat, and sniping at the Etticaps with my bow. Arn, his senses regained, let out a roar, and charged in to protect his pet. In the centre of the cavern, surrounded by enemies, Dandelion abandoned her axes for the more solid weight of her Maul. Each bite, claw, or kick on her, just made her angrier, and piece by piece she removed her enemies.

Cornered by enemies, Flower slashed left and right with his swords. His enemies feeling the weight of the skill of his strikes, turned their ire on him. Slowly the heroes whittled away at the enemy, removing them one by one. Eventually, the last enemy fell, and our Heroes slumped once again, weary and tired.

It had only been a few hours of exploring, and two battles, but I felt like I could sleep for the rest of the day.

Too tired to even draw my loot, I lay on the ground and dozed.

 

 

Chapter 4 – Fishing with Gnomes.

 

The stories never mention how boring cave networks can be.

“Oh the mighty Heroes strode purposely through the caves!”

Not, “They checked the path to the left, which looked exactly like the path to the right. Something wet dripped onto their neck.”

I really wished these caves weren’t so dank and boring. Mind you, I’m also glad not to be fighting. A bow or rapier gets really heavy if you have to hold it for longer than 30 seconds or so.

We’d found a chimney-like hole, which led down into a dark cavern, and with the surrounding area clear, there was talk about lowering someone down into it. I hoped it was Dandelion we were lowering, because everyone else was a bit heavier. Luckily Dandelion volunteered, and they lowered her down. Thirty seconds later, the rope went slack. Thirty seconds more, and we hadn’t heard anything back from Dandelion. We started to call down to her, but nothing came back.

Tying the rope around my waist, I asked myself what the bloody hell made me volunteer to follow her.

As they lowered me down, I glanced around the room. Not a thing moved. There was a distinct absence of monsters.

There was also a distinct lack of Dandelion.

Untying the rope, I peered to look around the room. Completely empty. I waited for 30 seconds or so. Voices began calling down from above. I could hear Drax and Arn arguing that perhaps I had been webbed up and carried away. Snickering to myself, I shouted up “No, its fine, I’m OK. There’s no Dandelion though.”

Slowly, everyone lowered themselves down. The nimble Echo leapt, landing perfectly. It always amused me to watch the tavern cats perform almost impossible landings from the thatch above, and it seemed that even large cats had this innate ability.

And so, the tunnel walking began anew. Flower took the lead as normal, laying out the safest path, and needlessly walking openly into ambushes. He assured everyone that this was the role of the scout. Seems the tales got that wrong too!

After the second ambush by spiders, I started to doubt whether Scouts were ACTUALLY supposed to get ambushed.

As the latest cavern opened out, I marvelled at how big it was. Two chasms fell away to the left and right of the room. On further investigation though, it was a single chasm, with a rocky bridge spanning the gap. Flower survived another ambush, and everyone stepped in to mop up the monstrous beasts. Spiders and Etticaps this time. Working together throwing webs and poison around like ale at the winter festival. Firing arrow after arrow, I started to ponder if we’d actually find the piggies after all. Perhaps with all these beasts around, the piggies were already gurgling their way through a digestive tract.

A large crunching thud sounded from behind, and a quick glance made me wish I’d not looked after all. Rising from the floor, having dropped from above, a large, broad Etticap glared at the group. Towering above even the Goliaths in the group, the Insectoid lashed out at Drax. Swiftly moving in, Arn and Echo joined the fray. Behind it, Dandelion hung, webbed into a small cocoon. She looked furious, and whilst I watched, she thrashed and squirmed, fighting her way clear of the webbing. Once clear, she grabbed her mace, and charged into the fight.

The creature crouched, chilling the surrounding air, releasing an ear splitting boom. We’d seen this type of magic before, though perhaps not so feral. A wave of thunder crashed against the party. Had we been of weaker stuff, we’d have been sent flying, possibly even into the Chasm.

Tia’Vari moved in with her staff, swinging at its head. Flower stood off to the side, unsure of his next move. From the darkness behind him, a web shot out, instantly encompassing him, and from the shadow stepped another Etticap. It embraced him, and stepped backwards into the Chasm, taking the gnome with it.

Somewhat panicked, I charged in to attack the remained beasts. One small, and one large Etticap. Gasping words of power, I unleashed a similar thunderous boom, sending both Etticaps flailing backwards. At the last moment, I realised my error. Drax also flew backwards, hit by the energy of my spell.

Whoops.

Glancing between the Giant Etticap, and the Goliath, I was relieved to see Drax shake off the damage, whilst the beast teetered on the edge of the chasm. It took one final step, before crumpling backwards and falling from site.

With Flower taken, we had no time to spare. Into the Chasm they must go.

 

 

Chapter 5 – An exit from the caves, and into the trees we go.

Rushing around the cave, the party frantically called down into the chasm, hoping to hear a reply from below. Flower had vanished from sight, and despite the aid of torches and magical light, the was no immediately obvious path down. Checking the outskirts of the cave, Tia led the way from the cave, behind her Arn, Echo and Drax followed. Dandelion gave one last quick look over the edge, and hustled me to follow on after the others. From the shadows at the edge of the cavern, Flower (Brushing some web from his tunic) stepped into view. I called back the others, and they checked him over for injuries. He seemed well, but Drax however was stumbling. In the panic, we’d forgotten just how beaten up the war priest had become, so we took a short time out to treat his wounds, then headed down to check on the corpse of the giant Etticap.

As it had fallen, it had landed upon the beast stealing away Flower, killing it instantly (Chalk up another kill to my Thunderwave!) Flower had cut himself free of the webbing, and headed up to meet the party again. Rummaging around the cavern, I pulled a small enchanted rod. I slipped it into my pocket, and continued to check around.

Once we were sure the room was clear, we beat a hasty path back to the surface. We’d cleared the majority of the dungeon, and all that was left were a few stragglers.

Meeting with the farmer, we returned her pig, and sat chatting with her about our mission. She’d met both Tok and Grellan before, roughly a year previous, and was more than happy to point us in the direction she’d sent them. They were heading to the treetop village of High grove. This set the destination, so we set up camp for the night, and rested.

The next morning, we rose well rested, and set out North, following the farmer’s directions. After a day or so of travel, we came across the first lifeform we’d encountered since leaving the farm. A small figure, sitting on a tree stump. At first glance, it looked like a gnome, but on examination by Tia and myself, the figure was a human child.

We approached it carefully, wary of both ambush and magical traps. Humans were never found in this part of the forest, certainly not small children. After prodding it a bit, and checking that it was real, we talked to the child. It seemed happy enough, but non-vocal. Feeling bad to leave a child on its own, I elected to carry it with me on my horse. The phrase of “what’s the worst that could happen” may haunt me forever more.

Later that evening, we reached the town of High grove. A town built upon platforms suspended in the trees. Chatting with the Rangers near the base of the entrance tree, they agreed to care for the mounts, and we winched ourselves up into the town.

First port of call was the magic shop, in the hope we could work out why the human child was there, whether it was in fact a sprite mimicking a human child, or whether there was anything mysterious at all about it. The shop owner confirmed that it was just a human child, though its nature was unusual. She also confirmed that she’d spoken with Tok and Grellan a year previous, and that they’d discussed summoning of the Forest Warden. She’d given them information that the warden was born of the Red Oak. Previously they’d heard that it could only be summoned in moonlight.

Leaving the shop, we set off for the Tavern. I talked the innkeeper into providing us with free ale and food in exchange for some entertainment for the evening. Flower , Tia and Dandelion set off for the Mayor’s office, where he confirmed some of the facts already discovered. Red Oak, under the moon. And a name for the Forest Guardian. He also informed them that Grellan and Tok had headed North for Leafpart.

Returning once more to the tavern with this information, the Party sat down to plan our next move.

 

 

Chapter 6 – 5 star reviews, Forest Wardens, and endings.

I’m not one to toot my own horn (who am I kidding… Toot Toot!) but I don’t think I’ve given a performance as good as I gave that night. Patrons were buying me ales left and right, and though Gnomish brews are slightly weaker than Tiefling ones, the sheer quantity meant I spent most of my down time watering the flowers. Half way through the evening, Dandelion spotted that the rest of the group were no longer in sight. Whilst I worried a little, the nature of the ale helped remind me that I was still putting on a show for the town. I could see the innkeeper cackling at his takings for the night, and I’m not one to disappoint. When the last of the gnomes had been forcefully ejected from the inn, Dandelion suggested we check up on the others. They weren’t in our room, though Thistle still kept up a guard there. Oh, I may have forgotten to mention, we’ve named the small human we found. It was getting weird calling her “girl” all of the time. I also appointed her as Dandelions squire. A fact she seemed excited about!

After checking in there, we quickly scouted the rest of the town, finding no trace of them. The rangers at the gate hadn’t seen them, but also the mounts were missing. Most curious.

Being of slightly wonky priorities, caused in most parts by an abundance of ale. We decided to sleep on our mystery, and decide on a course of action in the morning.

With the morning, came the hangover. Still no sight of the others, so Dandelion suggested we push on for Leafpart. Perhaps the others had done the same. There was little point in waiting around.

It took a few days’ travel to reach Leafpart, and having spotted the town sign, Dandelion commented on just how quiet it was. Something spooked Thistle, and she darted behind a tree stump. Glancing ahead, I noticed a large shambling muck covered beast stumbling around in an oily pool of filth. I was about to call out to it, when Dandelion poked me in the knee and pointed.

Off to the side, another creature lurked, and behind it two more. As we scanned the area ahead we counted a total of 7 such creatures. Odd, I’d thought the town to be populated by Gnomes primarily, but perhaps these were new additions?

Dandelion drew her maul, but I was still unsure. I called out to the creature closest.

“Hello! I don’t suppose this is the famed town of Leafpart? Could you direct us to the inn?”

No immediate answer, but it turned to face us, and started shuffling towards us. Just plain rude really! Behind it, almost in unison, the others also started their slow waltz towards us.

There was a grunt beside me, and from the mirk behind us, two more had risen, taking a swipe at Dandelion. In a moment of panic, I summoned forth a wave of Thunder, crashing it against them both, sending them careening away. With more of the creatures appearing by the second, we took to our heels, back up the track to where Thistle hid.

Standing around her were the rest of the party, looking somewhat beaten and bruised. Quickly sharing our tales of woe, theirs sounded more woe-filled. They fought the beasties. but apparently for each they killed several more appeared.

Some of the creatures sacrificed themselves to spread the blight. Blight beasts are weird.

Reunited, we decided to rest for the night, and investigate the village again the next morning.

Upon waking, we started to debate how best to investigate the village whilst avoiding the mud men. Flower hadn’t been around for a bit, choosing to head off an investigate for himself, so we needed a plan on how to sneak in. Tia suggested she could maintain a spell making two of us invisible so long as she remained safely outside the village. this sounded like the safest option, so we sent Arn with Echo to investigate. Together, they safely traversed the muck and grim, exploring two of the remaining buildings. Both appeared to be constricted by large black pulsing vines, which bound the doors and windows closed. Cutting a section from one of the vines, Arn was able to slip inside and investigate. Corpses littered the floor, though none had sustained life threatening injuries. They just appeared to have lain down and died. Whether this was some kind of poison, gas, or simply lack of food he was unsure of, but nothing living remained in this town besides us. He returned to the group, and we swiftly made for the northern road, heading for a Druids grove.

It took us most of the day’s travel to reach, but the druids grove was immediately obvious from the dense surrounding flora, the circular tree line, and the layers of filth and grime permeating it. Oh, the dead wolves probably gave it away too.

Like much of the land we’d come across, the blight had hit this area hard too. In amongst the decayed oaks, filth and oily residue lurked another creature. Larger in stature than the mud men, this one seemed more plant that beast. Long whipping vines served as its arms, and a huge maw tasted the air as it whipped its head around at our presence.

Again, I was concerned that this may not be hostile, but that worry passed as it roared towards Arn and Dandelion.

We took up battle positions, and Tia unleashed a mighty ball of fire, torching two of the decayed oaks, and left glowing embers upon the creature’s flesh. It didn’t seem bothered by this attack of flame, instead seeking to dispense with the closer attackers hacking at it with Axes. Its long tendrils lashed towards Arn once, twice, wrapping around him and lifting him towards its maw. Tensing with all of his strength, he burst from its grasp whilst Echo, Dandelion and Drax wailed on it with everything they had.

I shouted enchantments from afar, and utilised the healing power of the rod I’d found previously to re-energise Arn, before tossing the spent wand over my shoulder. More magic washed over the beast from Tia, and the close-in melee became a blur. In a matter of moments, the Axes and teeth had dropped the creature to the floor, where Echo worried at its corpse. Behind it in the swamp, and armoured corpse lay. Dragging it to the edge of the muck, we searched it, finding gold, and a serviceable suit of plate mail, adorned with the symbol of the Tree, an order of Humans devoted to nature. (at least, according to Arn’s knowledge of them.

Amusingly, this armour was large enough to fit the giant form of Drax, and he started to adorn himself with it.

Lastly, upon the corpse, we found a small pouch containing an acorn, with a reddish tint. Hopefully, with this we’d be able to grow a mighty oak, and with this we could summon the forest warden.

We rested a while, and discussed the best way to carry this out. Tia was tapped out on power, and suggested I read the scroll, calling forth the oak.

I’ve never cast a spell of this nature before, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. Placing the seed in a small mound of earth, I intoned the words of power. A rich greenness spread out from the seed. The grass around shone and grew renewed. Trees budded, and blossomed, and from the centre a small sprout rose, expanding into a sapling, and finally into a young oak tree. When the power of the spell was spent, I sat back, and marvelled at the new growth. Above us, Moonlight peeked between clouds, bathing this tree in its glow. Arn stepped forth, ready to incant the name of the Forest warden. Tia and Echo struck up a mewling hum next to him, and I accompanied them on my loot. Arn took a breath and his deep booming voice uttered the name three times.

“Yarval! Yarval! Yarval!” On the final call, a whooshing of air, followed by a popping noise. Then nothing for a good minute. The tree in front of us then started to buckle, its shape altering and rearranging. Its branches twisting together, and forming the rough shape of a head. Two branches shifting to form arms, and its roots raised from the ground to split into legs. As it took on the shape of man, its face contorted, and began to scream.

We gave it a moment. Being summoned into a tree probably hurts a little, but after a while we decided enough was enough.

We spoke with the tree, which was a little unnerving if I’m honest, and he told us his tale.

400 years ago, he was known as Yarth Highthorn. He was a human in service to King Lorann. The current Forest Warden Furnell was dying, and selected him as his replacement. He was to be in service to the kingdom as Forest Warden, and be guardian of the trees of the land. He fulfilled this duty for 390 years without incident. 10 years previously, a Human druid of the order of the tree was banished from the lands of man, and seeked vengeance, capturing Yarval, and turning the earth against him. Using the wardens power, Corsinar set a blight upon the land, pouring forth his poison against the forests. With no one to replace him, Yarval had spent years calling forth for one of his blood to aid him, but his calls fell upon deaf ears. He needed one of the order of the Tree to replace him, and take the mantle of warden. This alone wouldn’t be enough, the new Warden would need the power of Frendasil, the staff of the seasons, to aid them. But this mighty totem had been missing for some time. He bade us find a new warden, and bring them to the Treestone at the south eastern peninsular, where they would be imbued with his power.

Stepping forward, Thistle planted a kiss on Yarval’s cheek, bringing a small smile to his face, he thanked her, and turned back to us.

His final wish, was that we end his life in this form, removing (he hoped) the power of the Forest Warden from the grasp of Corsinar. His voice raised to a shriek, and he gasped “They’re coming, you must hurry…”

With a few blows, his form was slain, and Thistle took off northwards through the densely packed vegetation. Another popping sound behind us, and two figures came into view. A haggard vine covered Halfling, and a bramble covered barbarian, both pallid in skin tone, and hunched in stature. They shambled towards the corpse of the Warden, and that was the last we saw before fleeing the clearing.

Now? well, now we shall seek Frendasil, after all, we know what happened to the two who seeked the Warden. Now they’re under the control of Corsinar, druid of Corruption. Perhaps our quest to find Grun and T’sith will end with a happier resolution.

 

 

Chapter 7 – More endings! Everyone dies!

Dear diary…

Seems a little of an odd way to start this entry, but… It’s been an odd day.

I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Where did I leave off? Oh, yes. So, we found the forest warden chap. We killed him. Two ghastly muck covered beings appeared. Tokable and Grellan. The two heroes we’d been searching for. The forest warden’s final words were “They’re here… Run, run for your lives…” I’m paraphrasing, it was a stressful time.

So we ran. Not so much for our lives, but out of habit. The two beings gave chase, and this spurred me on to greater speeds!

Dandelion took offense at being pursued though, and to be honest, I’m not surprised. It was pretty annoying. Instead, she turned to face the pursuers. I didn’t realise this at first, on account of the largest insta-appear-o wall that slammed into place between myself and the rest of the party.

After a few seconds, I spotted the glow of a light spell coming towards me, and fearing the worst, I got ready to mock them! Luckily it was Arn, Tia’Vari and Echo. No sign of the Gnome.

In the stories of old, the heroes never abandon a friend. So we charged back, to find Dandelion in mid-battle with Tokable. Hoping to free her, I called out to Tokable, holding her in place with a tune. Dandelion was in full battle frenzy though, and not interested in leaving the fight. So Arn, Echo and Tia rushed to help.

Unfortunately, Tokable broke through my charms though, and a short battle ensued. He was rather unpleasant to Tia, so I was forced to be rude back! To our North, mudmen joined the fray, and behind them Grellan strode into view and almost cut Thistle in half with a blow from his staff. She dropped to the floor.

He summoned a patch of squirming tentacles which pinned Dandelion in place. I think I’d pissed Tokable off though, because suddenly I was held in place, and the tentacles dropped away.

Things went downhill from here. Tokable ran away, and Dandelion charged to head off Grellan. Her and Arn engaged him, before being hit with a massive blast of lightning (which I got winged by).

I wriggled free of his influence, and started healing my colleagues. Tia and Tokable traded insults and spells, and despite my best efforts, she fell in battle. I turned my attention to my other colleagues just as a massive fireball enveloped them.

Realising that this was the end, I made a futile plan to escape. I threw a final healing spell and Dandelion, and ran south. A buzzing sound erupted around me though, and biting stinging insects erupted from the earth. Everything went black, and that, as they write, is that. Here endeth the tale of Dandelion, Tia’Vari, Arn, Echo and Tak.

Only… It didn’t.

Here’s the weird part (Yes, I’m aware the whole story so far was a bit odd…) Then we woke up in the inn. All of us exhausted, in pain, and drained. It was still night time and every one of us confused and alarmed.

Something strange had happened. Tia checked with Thistle if she had rescued us, but she hadn’t. None of us had survived, by all rights we were dead. Only, we weren’t. We still had the items on us that we’d gathered in our quest. So it wasn’t a dream.

I checked in with the Inn Keeper, and he was surprised to see me. He hadn’t seen us arrive the night before, and wanted me to put on another show as business had been booming since last time. It may have been a mistake to tell him about the devastation at Leafpart, and the fact that the blight was creeping this way. In hindsight though my head was still a little foggy at that point.

Now to work out what the hell is going on, and why I’m the only one that seems baffled!

 

 

Tak-note Let me just pause mid-story here to mention something we’ve noticed. Its an oddity that has occurred a number of times. Sometimes, we’ll wake in the morning and not everyone will be there. Sometimes it’ll be one person, sometimes it’s a few people. The next day, we awake and everyone is there again. They don’t realise they’ve been missing, to them it’s just the next day. It’s been driving me bonkers. I only mention this now, because its been several mornings, and I’ve not seen Flower or Dandelion in ages. Everyone else seems to think this is normal. It’s not. Something weird is going on. Anyway. End of Tak-note.

Chapter 8 – Goodness Gracious.

It’s not often that you can get away with civic irresponsibility, certainly not with the blessing of the council, but carry the right clip board, and you’re half way there!

Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about our return to the city of Roccor. Like every good tale, it starts with Grumpy Guards refusing us access.

Reaching the gates, Captain Tye shouted down from the walls “City’s closed, bugger off!” Those may not have been his actual words, but he wasn’t very polite. Normally I’d let it slip, but truth be told, he got my back up.
I grabbed a scroll and charcoal and called back up to him “We’re here to speak with Rodrin, he told us you’d let us past.” I’ll admit, I may have lied a little. We’d not spoken in weeks.

“Hur, you’re lying, how could he have said that, we only shut the gates today after the city came under attack!”

I cantripped a fake voice from my shoulder saying “just tell the guard you’re here to see me, and he’ll let you in”. The Guards face slipped into one of confusion. It’s my favourite expression. It makes the next steps that much easier.

“Uh, if I open the gates, everyone will try and get in.”
I turned to waggle my eyebrows at Tia, she almost smirked, but kept it in check.

I addressed the people behind us, all trying to enter the city.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, if you please, before you stands the Lady Tia’Vari. She’s an incredibly important Mage, and has been asked here to assist with the defence. If you could all step back so we can gain access and make it safe again. I’m her Bard Tak, here to Chronicle her deeds. Thank you.”

Watching a hive mind work is a wonderful thing. I could see the folks at the front take the first involuntary step back, and as they did, the folks further back did the same, sure that the folks at the front knew what was best. Within moments we had a clear space. I turned back to Captain Tye.
“And your name please sir? For my report to Rodrin & Lady Frear?”

He looked fearful and blurted it out.

“The gates please Captain?”

The gates cracked open, and we slipped through. Tia kept her nose raised high, and her pace even. I struggled to maintain my composure, and followed along. Once out of sight I burst into giggles. I’d forgotten how much fun that could be.

As we passed the Schools of Magic, we spotted a number of guards hurrying towards the Docks. I knew this partly by the smell of fish, and partly because Tia pondered why they were running to the Docks so quickly. Hurrying after, she cast invisibility on us both. As we drew closer, we could see Dockhands hiding, and the guards battling. Rounding a corner, the open dock spread out before us. Riverboats, cargo, open water, Guardsmen, Slime monsters, seagulls, Tall ships. Hang on, Slime Monsters. Ack.

Coating a Jetty, and half a riverboat was an ooze familiar to us. Slime monsters battled the guards, whilst more rose from the ooze and… Well, Oozed towards them. I let off a quick arrow, which passed through the closest, and shouted back to Tia. “Got any fire?”

She chuckled, and unleashed an explosion that… Well, I think it scorched itself into my retinas. Instantly, 4 of the 7 Slime beasts visible evaporated from the heat. a fifth managed two or three steps, before also perishing. The guards, taken about by the explosion (and perhaps the spreading fire on the ship and jetty) put their shoulders into it, and finished off another one. Bursting from behind us, shouting and screaming came a tall Tiefling. Quite rude, and loud, ranting about his dock, and ordering everyone to put the fire out immediately.

On the dock, the fire cleared away the Ooze, stopping the regeneration of the Slime Beasts. Knowing that putting out the flames would stop this, I suggested, quite politely I might add, that he looked tired, and should probably tell them to cancel that order and go home for an hours nap. He meekly agreed (I may have wiggled my fingers a little) and headed off home. While my back was turned, Tia unleashed more fire, and finally ice at the last slime beast. Seeing it fall, we shared a quick high five, and then dropped straight into “important people that should be listened to” mode. We ordered the guards and dock hands around, having them put out the fires only once the ooze was cleansed. Once they were all engaged in their duty, we nipped off to see Rodrin. It was then, we realised we may have left everyone else outside the gate. Whoops. Oh well.

Meeting with the guards at the Boss Hut, we fell into the same routine. Lady Tia’Vari here to see Rodrin. It took a little persuasion, but finally we were in.

We shared our tale of woe with him, detailing each step of our Journey. He was most concerned with our Death. Apparently it’s not something most people come back from. Odd eh? He told us of a legend of a small child God, who’d helped bring about the Kingdom of Elham (a Human place apparently) and wondered if it were this same being responsible for our being alive. Perhaps Thistle is a God.

He also told us of a Goliath Tale, of a crippled Goliath cast out from Clan StoneCrow after losing a limb. He’d found a staff which imbued him with power, enabling him to regrow it. The Clan kept him cast out, and as a result he cursed them. Rodrin was light on the details though. Apparently there’s very few Bards amongst them to share the tales.

Tomorrow, we meet with the others, and we’re heading to the western mountains, in search of the staff. Today, we’re heading to the Western tavern, in search of more beer.

Chapter 9 – Death, Destruction and the hunt for Dave.

One thing the legends never tell you, is how difficult it is to keep a record of your epic tales when its constantly piddling it down with rain. Thankfully, we’ve passed that season and we’re now happily in Spring. Winter was yesterday, so finally the bad weather has passed. Confused? Sit back, I’ll explain.

So we set off to look for the staff of seasons. Last we’d heard, a Goliath (They know him as ‘The Cursed One’, we’ll probably call him Dave. We’re undecided.) had claimed the staff of seasons, regrown a lost limb, and headed off to seek revenge on the clan that ousted him. Armed with the name of the tribe he’d cursed, we headed off into the mountains to find them. Hoping to get a hint where Dave might be.

After a fair amount of travelling, we came across a very quiet camp of Goliath. This was unusual for two reasons. Reason number one. Goliath can’t even sneak quietly, let alone camp. Reason number two. They were all dead. Being dead, apparently, helps keep them quiet. From our investigations, we discovered that they’d been attacked by dwarves. You may not have heard of Dwarves before, they’re from south of the battle lines. They’re short, hairy and hate filled. They look like someone took a Human, and squashed them between finger and thumb. They also had bugger all loot (Except a Crossbow which Arn is chuffed to bits with). Anyways, turns out they’re not ALL dead, just mostly dead. We pulled one from a pile, and found him still alive, but unconscious. Gave him a little healing, and he seemed a bit sad. I think this was probably because everyone he knew was dead, but it could have been something else. Maybe he stubbed his toe or something.

He pointed us in the direction we needed to go, whilst also cheerfully telling us we’d die if we went there. (He wasn’t really cheerful about it. That was a joke, Tia said I should try to include them more. She also rolled her eyes when she said that though, so I’m not too sure of the meaning of that.)

We found the required mountain (Mountains are really big! They look smaller from far away). and started up the path. After an hour or so of travelling, we were attacked by Rodents of a rather unusual size. in that these Rats were larger than most dogs I’ve met. They were also a bit icky. Tia threw some magic around. Arn fired some bolts, and I waved my pompoms, and we knocked the little gits flying. Apparently though, there was a bit of a population boom in the plagued rats’ department, and waves of the buggers started pouring towards us. From ahead we could hear the sounds of battle. A roar, a voice telling us to get a move on, and lots of Eek-Eek’ing. Hurrying up the path, the light drizzle turned to rain. The rain turned to a downpour, and the mountain path turned into a river. Rats went flying, we went flying. Fortunately, we managed to battle through the rapids, into a small cave. In the small cave was a giant Bear, and Thistle. Neither were eating the other, so that’s ok.

We talked lots, and decided that we should sleep for the night. Next morning the rains had eased up. Also a forest had grown up overnight. You know, normal Mountain stuff I guess. Apparently this was because it was spring. Apparently the night before it was winter. Tia and Thistle confirmed this is not a normal thing in the mountains. It’s the Staff of Seasons messing with the environment. Kinda explains the name. I’d thought it was the staff of seasoning. I was imagining some kind of Salt Shaker.

Heading out, we decided to continue up the mountain. As we trudged up the mountain, it was becoming warmer, which is odd, because I thought the white at the top was normally snow.

We came across a fast moving river, which we’d obviously need to cross. Something serpentine swam beneath the surface, its shadow making it confusing to work out which part was a head, and which part was … another head?

Ok, yes, it was a hydra.

I tried to talk it into letting us pass with the power of suggestion, but it was either very rude or too dumb to understand me. We ended up fighting it, but try as we might, this thing kept popping out new heads like they were… plagued rats on a mountain?

Eventually Thistle sighed, and told us we should use fire. This had a better effect, and we soon made short work of it. Oh, and while we fought it, the river dried up in the heat. This Staff is a bit messed up.

We pushed on, looking for a cave to spend the night. As normal, I grabbed first watch. I’m starting to think the rest of the group don’t like my music to help them sleep. I’m going to stop practising with my drum in future, and perhaps try the lute.

Drax took second watch, and woke me up a bit too early. Apparently he couldn’t wake Tia’Vari. together we tried shaking her, and eventually she woke up to tell us she’d had a vision about people grabbing trees, and them shrinking into a staff. She saw lots of half clothed men prancing around a clearing, and a fair bundle of forest wardens. I’m a little concerned at the suggestive nature of her ‘Vision’ (Dream) but perhaps it’s a message that we need to get a move on and reinstate the warden (or perhaps its commentary on the nature of her mind!).

Anyway. Later today, we’re off to find Dave, and tell him he’s been a bit naughty, and that he should give us the staff. Let’s hope it goes down well.

 

 

 

Chapter 10 – Revenge of T’Sith.

Well, I think I’ve been mistaken in some of my judgements on adventuring. It’s not all death, rain soaked mountains, and things trying to kill us. Once in a while, we get a rather pleasant beach, on a small island, with roasted fish and silence. It’s really rather peaceful.
I guess I should explain how we got here though, because it’s an amusing tale!

We woke up in the same cave that we went to sleep in. That’s always a bonus. However, this time Tia had vanished. We’re still missing Arn and Echo, so this was getting weird. We decided though to push on, Time was of the essence, and if Tia had gone hunting burly men with a firm grip on their staves she’d catch us up.

Thistle warned us that we were stepping into danger so to be careful. Never made us careful before, but we decided to try. Drax, unfortunately, can’t remain quiet, so I spent most of my time shushing him. As we crept deeper into the mirk, we spotted a figure in the gloom up ahead. A dragonborn, though with strange black grubby wings. He looked an imposing sight, but something was a little off (Other, of course, than the wings.)

I’m always up for meeting new people, and making new friends, so I called out to him and strolled over. Boy was he rude! Turns out he’s T’sith, one of the heroes we’re looking for. Told us he’d do all sorts of horrible things to us unless we released him. Told us he’d heard Grellan and Tok had killed the rest of our group. Obviously he’s not completely in the loop. Drax and I talked, and decided that he really wasn’t very polite. And though we’d noticed that we were talking to an illusion (What bad guy doesn’t immediately attack eh?) Once we’d sussed this, he got a lot angrier with us, threatening us that if we released him, he may let us live. Frankly, he was being a bit rude, so we ignored him.

Wandering away from the illusion, Drax spotted the real T’Sith, pinned to a wall with vines, spread out like a displayed butterfly. I made sure to tell him that’s what he looked like. That didn’t go well. Apparently he’s going to destroy us and everything we love.

He looked hungry. Maybe that’s why he was angry, so I grabbed some food, and shoved it in his mouth. Can’t have him wasting away.
With that, we turned and left him. We followed the cave network round, eventually finding a larger cavern. In that, Drax found some footprints, and on examining them, declared that they were Goliath tracks. We followed them, finding a small living area. We’d obviously succeeded in tracking our target, and somewhere in this cave network he lurked.

Being experts in stealth and tracking, we located him, and strolled up to say hello. He was not chuffed to see us, and immediately tried to wrap us up in vines. Neither Drax nor I were really up for this sort of hug, so we sidestepped the attack. Drax stepped up, firmly clouting the chap with his mace, and summoned an axe behind him to do the same. Personally, I’m getting a little bored of always getting attacked. I told him that we weren’t here to hurt him, and that he should stop attacking. I wove a little arcana into my words, and pinned him to the spot. Drax made a grab for the staff that he held, but unfortunately wasn’t able to pull it free. He must have loosened the grip though, because I managed to pull it free easily.
I looked at Drax, he looked at me. An unspoken agreement hung in the air, and we turned and legged it. The barbarian roared behind us, and Drax spun holding him in place once more. On we ran.

Ahead, we heard Thistle cry out “You Idiots, I told you not to touch it!” Oops. I wrapped the staff inside my cloak. But apparently the damage was done, and the earth around us started to shake. Slowly the cave started to collapse around us.

Dodging boulders and rocks, we were almost in the clear, when ahead of us the large forms of two winged dragonborn stepped into view. Whoops. Forgot about him. Casting Faerie Fire, I highlighted the real T’Sith in a lovely pink glow. He started to cast something, and without waiting to find out what, I shrieked and pulled his arcane energy away from him. This may have pissed him off a little, so to calm him down, I grinned at him. He then started to summon a guardian behind us to block our retreat. Still not convinced I liked this idea, I cut his spell off with a shout. Drax by now had closed in, and was swinging away. Seeing the futility of casting spells against us, T’Sith drew his weapon and attacked.
I unwrapped the Staff, pointed it at him, and yelled “Entangle!” (in the distance, I heard the disapproving tone of Thistle) Nothing happened, so I sheepishly covered the Staff again.

Around us, the cave started to collapse. Ahead our path became blocked off, and with a final rumbling the path behind us collapsed. Bugger.
Laughing Maniacally, T’Sith called out “I’ll leave you to your doom!” and started to cast a spell to teleport away. I could have stopped him, but to be honest I just wanted him to leave.

We checked ahead and behind, and both paths were firmly blocked. The cavern around us continued to rumble, and things looked a little bleak. Just as I started to call out for Thistle, she appeared behind us.
I was starting to get a little miffed by now, and may have been a little sarcastic.

I told Thistle that she needed to help get us out of here, or I’d be forced to try and use the staff and work out how to do it. She got a little snippy, but eventually conceded, and warped us away.

And that’s how we ended up on this small 60ft island, with a tree, a couple of blankets, and some fishing/cooking equipment. I’m not complaining though, it’s the most restful I’ve felt in a while!

 

 

Chapter 11 – Clumsy flights and ‘The Longest Way’

Today, I learned a new trick. Well. it’s a little more than a trick, but its bloody amazing! Today I turned into a dragon!
Ok, ok, technically it was a Wyvern, but I meant to turn into a dragon. I guess I’ll keep practising.

So Drax and I were a bit bored on the island, and suddenly the others popped out of nowhere… its freaky as hell, and no one else seems to bat an eyelash at it. After a restful night’s sleep, we decided to try and find a way off the island. It was at this point that I worked out how to turn into a Dr… Wyvern.

I’ve never flown before, but birds make it look easy. It took me a few minutes of frantic flapping to sort it out, and in that time I dropped both of the goliaths in the sea. Luckily as a Dragon I was also pretty strong, so I plucked them out of the ocean easily, and carried them both in my claws instead.

After some impressive long distance flapping, we spotted a ship on the horizon. Its bow emblazoned with the name “The Long Way”. I dropped everyone off on the ship, and turned back to my natural horned self. The crew seemed a bit freaked out, but to be fair, not as freaked out as I would have been. Captain Taurus introduced himself, and explained he’d been commissioned a week previous to come rescue us from the island. His first mate Yolo commented that it was a young girl that had booked them, and paid handsomely. Now, I’m guessing this lass was Thistle, who’d teleported us out yesterday from danger. So how she’d known a week ago… My head hurts.

The Captain showed us around his ship, and as we approached a fog bank, he warned us that the upcoming waters were deadly and treacherous. Taking a stand on the deck, I stood with Drax to keep an extra eye out. As we ploughed through the fog, we started to hear a weird grinding/scraping noise. I sent my secret servant Giles, and a pebble with light cast upon it, into the sea, clinging to the edge of the ship. Below the surface a large number of crabmen lurked, hacking at the wood of the ship with their claws. Calling to the others, I watched Drax start to drop cannon balls on them to peel them off. Three tried to climb on board, and Tia’Vari joined the fray, as did Arn, and between us we removed the four of us we hit them till they either died or fell off. Well. a brief respite, and the noises from below started again.

So, Perhaps I have time to grab some Thousand Island Dressing.

 

 

Chapter 12 – Free Horsies!

Following a rather eventful time on board “The Long Way”, we finally sited land. a small range of mountains poked their head above the clouds, and Tia’Vari seemed to stare towards them almost wistfully. She was her normal self though when we asked her about them, and told us she just liked mountains! The captain was true to his word, and had tried to teach us the human dialect. I can now proudly state “this Ale tastes like a dwarf pissed in it” and “Which way to the Brothel?”

Before we departed, the captain offered to sell us a magic item, which in theory would help us blend in a little. The Ring had the ability to alter our outwards look. Sensing fate beckoning, we completely ripped him off in the trade, because hey, that’s never going to come back to bite us in the bum!

Leaving the ship, we headed out to find a horse ‘merchant’ named ‘Art’. He apparently traded in Horses acquired through “less than legal” means. As we neared the village, we were set upon by brigands. I called to the others to spare them, but I think they developed selective hearing, and they tore the bandits apart. One Bandit escaped, running for home.

Feeling the tug of ‘foreshadowing’ we approached the village. As we neared, it became obvious that we weren’t going to simply stroll in, and say ‘Hi’. We were too big, scary, and ugly. Slipping the ring on, I elected to leave Big, Scary and Ugly behind, and strolled into the village myself. (I made sure to say ‘Hi’ to everyone I passed. My language limitations enhanced by a little magic).
As I followed various villager’s directions to ‘Art, the Horse Thie…Trader’ I noticed that most of the villagers had a low opinion of him. Reaching his trading post, I spotted ‘Sneaky McStab’, previously of the band of Brigands ‘the McStabs’ sneak into Art’s house. Not being one to hold this against him, I decided to threaten, bully, and otherwise harass Art into giving us a decent price on the old nags he was selling. Once I felt he’d reached the lowest price, I was about to ruin his day when a priest came over to say hello.

Now, I’m not one for organised religion, but I know better than to show them a lack of respect. So I totally didn’t steal in front of him, and waited for him to leave.
Weaving a bit of arcane suggestion into my words, I suggested that Art ready the horses, bring them outside of town, and wait there for an hour before returning home. He was more than happy to do this! For free as well! Serves him right for having his men attack us outside of town.

Leaving town, the priest latched on to me, telling me he’d not seen Art swindled so badly before (oops) and that he found it hilarious. He followed me out of town, questioning me the whole time. It was getting close to the point in time where my disguise would drop, so I beckoned to Tia to come distract him, whilst I ran off to hide. She chatted with him for a while, finding out where his chapel was, before Art arrived with our freebies. Leaving in a hurry, we waved to the priest, and set off in-land as fast as our horsies hooves would carry us!

 

 

Chapter 13 – Waterlogged and Burnt.

I’m going to have to interrupt Tak’s tale here. His Journal was pretty well maintained, but this chapter was waterlogged and partially burned. It was very difficult to make out exactly what happened. The party had carried on, and ended up spotting a church burning. It turned out to be the church belonging to the Dwarf Father Oarath. The group discovered the attackers were in the employ of the horse thief, and had attacked the church in revenge. They dealt with the attackers, couldn’t save the church, but healed up the priest and took him with them.

 

Chapter 14 – Tak gets angry.

It’s not often I lose my temper. All in all, I’m a pretty laid back Tiefling. I’ve seen comrades pull the arms off halflings, rip deep gnomes limb from limb, and generally litter in a no-littering area. But I don’t do that sort of thing, I wouldn’t say Boo to a goose (unless it gave a really bad performance).

Today though, I got a little mad.

We’d just save the dwarven priest from the human idiots who thought it a good idea to torch his church. We pretty much taught them the meaning of “whoops my bad” and left them charred and regretting their life choices. Poor old Father whats-his-face was somewhat the worse for wear, and Drax did some of his holy mumbo-jumbo, and cleared his head for him.

All good so far, and at this point Thistle the wonder-girl shows up. First words out of her mouth where to ask why I’d torched HER church. Pretty sure it was Father Oraths church, not hers. I may have gotten a little angry and uttered a few words. Father Orath asked “what in the name of the child was going on”, so I gently informed him of the cheerful deeds of Thistle. I may have only used the words “manipulative cow” once or twice and “scheming riddler” a few more. Next thing I knew, she turned on me, pointed her finger and I was somewhere else.

It was a bit dark, and I couldn’t feel my arms or legs. To be fair though, I also couldn’t see them either. After a moment, my sight adjusted, and I could see thousands of points of light, some brighter than others. Almost looked like the night sky, only… all around me rather than above me.

On second glance, the stars were moving, or maybe I was. Focusing a little more, It seemed maybe it was me moving. Falling even. It seemed like the perfect time to start screaming.

I screamed for a bit.

After a short while, it became apparent that while I was falling, I wasn’t actually going to hit anything in the near future. I stopped screaming.

Something whooshed past my head and exploded. I’m not in the habit of hanging around when that happened, so I glanced back. A giant metal arrow seemed to be throwing molten balls of rock at me. Not overly friendly if you ask me, so I tried casting a spell to stop it.

Nothing happened.

Oh, yeah, now wiggly fingers, and words only happened in my head.

I wracked my brains, and remembered a few spells that needed neither. Oddly though, this manifested as a sort of superheated beam of light.

When in Rome

(I’m not sure where Rome is, I heard a human say it once)

A few more orbs whizzed past my head, and I started to get angry. Stupid little girl, sending me whizzing off into the sky, only to have elven boats (I’d nailed this now, it was obviously a boat of elven wizards) throw fireballs at me. Pointy eared bastards.

I decided enough was enough, and started trying to get closer to the boat. I was going to show these elves a thing or two.

One of the fireballs grazed me. Didn’t hurt so bad after all. I don’t even know why I was avoiding them. I renewed my efforts to get to the boat. Boy were they going to be surprised.

Suddenly, in front of my appeared a ghostly Thistle. I shot her accidentally. The shot went straight through, so I made sure to accidentally shoot her again.

She didn’t look pleased, and asked If I wanted to talk. I politely told her my opinion on this, and she frantically informed me that every time these fireballs hit me, something bad was happening to my friends. This would be why it didn’t hurt me so much I guess.

Nobody hurts my friends. They’re the only ones I have.

I politely asked Thistle to send me back to my friends, which she immediately did. Arn, Drax, Echo and someone new stood around a giant slime beast. All looking somewhat splattered and hurt.

Balling up the rage I sent forth a scream of rage. I’ve been practising this, and can now successfully channel my voice into a thunderous attack.

Slimeface didn’t seem happy about this, so I did it again and he exploded.

My friends got an unexpected mudbath, which to be fair would possibly help their complexion. Turning on my heel, I spotted a shambling mound of vegetation trying to sneak up on me. Full on tiptoes and everything!

It landed two lucky blows on me, but seemed pissed when I stepped back. Echo looked puzzled to see me, but roared with joy shortly after. (Could have been the polymorph spell. I’ve never turned him into a wyvern before)

After that, the fight was won. I’d go into details, but none of it was about me, so obviously not as interesting. Echo seemed happy to curl up afterwards and explore the scalier form. Now all I need to do is hash out with Thistle why she sent me to deal with elves on a boat.

 

 

 

Chapter 15 – Tia’Vari’s magic torch-hand.

For someone remarkably intelligent, Tia’Vari has an appalling memory… I’d always thought Dragons had long memories, like Elephants. Apparently not.
We spent an hour or so travelling from the ruins of the dwarven priests burnt out Church. Tia’Vari had appeared in front of us just after the fight had finished, and I spent the travel time explaining the occurrences of the day to the priest, Tia and Grum.

We made camp and I collapsed into a sleep deprived coma. Normally it’d be blackness, and an absence of dreams after a day like that one, but dreams came quickly. We were once again on an island, and in front of us stood an adult version of Thistle. She’d taken my comments to heart, and decided to be more forthcoming. For this we were all grateful. We talked about my time as an elven skyboat, and she confirmed that this was, in fact, how she spent most of her time. She wasn’t a sky elf though. In coming days, she’d have to devote more time to not getting hit by fireballs, so as such wouldn’t be around as much.

The creatures shooting at her were dead. Possibly zombie sky elves? She wasn’t too clear on that.

However, our mission remained. We were to find the forest warden, power him up, and off we go.

We woke up, completely unaided. No one slapped anyone awake…

Over the next day, I sang to the dwarven priest, explaining out travels so far. His religion seemed to have changed to match Thistles new form. Though he had no recollection of this happening. More odd happenings. He was quite forthcoming about the Forest Warden’s heir. Apparently it was a famous family, known for protecting the king of the land. He gave us the name too.
Armed with this, it should be a piece of cake.

Over the next couple of nights, it became obvious that something was stalking us.

On the first night, Tia’Vari’s hand started to glow. A little questioning, and she remembered that her father’s soul gem had embedded itself there, she believed it was pointing her towards the mountain she seeked, but it seemed odd that this only occurred when we detected something evil in the region. She’d completely forgotten that this gem existed. I’m pretty sure I’d remember my dead Dad implanting part of his soul in me… Maybe that’s just me.

Arn and Drax scouted the area, finding tracks of a clawed beast. The tracks ended after a while, and we decided to sleep again. Tia’Vari remembered that she could ask questions of her dead father via the power of the soul gem. She spent the next couple of nights asking about him, and the creature stalking us. She’s convinced its not him, but I’m not so sure.

A few nights on, he appeared again, though this time we managed to track him to a nearby village. I voted we leave them, and use the distraction to get as far away as possible. I remember the fight with Tokable and Grellan. They supposedly killed this beast before… I’m not sure we’re going to be able to hurt it.
However, here we stand, looking over the sleeping village, all the while it stalks ever closer.

 

 

 

Chapter 16 – Riding miscalculations.

And so, into the Village we went. Full of good intent on saving humans and their ilk from the corrupted for of Tia’Vari’s dead dad. (That phrase never feels right in my mouth).

As we closed in, Villagers could be seen going about their day to day tasks, almost automation-like. We tried to speak with a number of them, which sent them walking, zombie-like, into their homes. Thinking that this was perhaps some mass charm spell, I whipped out my drums to see if I could aid them. Tia’Vari grabbed at a villager to shake them from their malaise, and looked shocked as she did so.

As if linked, all eyes in the village turned to face me! My drums were having an effect! Though the red tinge to the eyes, and the hateful gaze was a new one! As one, the villagers started to lurch towards me, tools and bread-baskets hanging by their side. My companions stepped to block one of the villagers, and she lashed out at them. Two viscous attacks, and then… She puked a purple coloured translucent worm. It flew from her mouth, its maw seeking to latch on to Arn. Arn instead sliced it from the air, and the battle was on.

The villagers attacked in waves, pouring forth with a vigour and fury that was far beyond that which they held in life. Wound after wound was inflicted upon them, and they just kept coming. I threw a lightning bolt, leaving three of them charred, but still standing. It had the unfortunate effect of setting fire to the thatch on two houses.

From behind the villagers, a dark mass of shadows appeared. The occasional claw, tail or wing protruding, and as it closed, we could make out the shape of a dragon. Somewhat smaller than I’d expected, perhaps the size of a large Elk. It started to taunt Tia’Vari, and confirmed my earlier suspicion that this was, in fact, Tia’s dead dad. I sharn’t tell her that I was unsure beforehand. Let her believe I always knew this to be that case!

He told her to return that which was rightfully his. His soul gem. Whilst I’m sure it used to be his, I’m not convinced he was really due its return. He’d died after all!

Grum leapt into the air, spreading her wings. She flew directly at the shadowy beast, and the rest of us fought on against the undead villagers. Echo took an almighty blow, knocking him to the ground. Fortunately, father Oarath was on hand to get him back into the fray. I took a similar blow, and he helped me up also.

Between us all, we managed to dispatch the closer undead, and everyone started attacking Tia’s Dad. Tia unleashed a massive beam of energy, which tethered her to him, pumping wave after wave of damage at him. There was a crack of energy, and where before the small dragon had been, now an ancient being stood towering over us all. Using the term gargantuan would be an understatement. It beat its wings once, twice, and it was airborne.

In a moment of panic, I didn’t know what to do. It was getting away, and that was bad, but at the same time, it wasn’t going to kill us. I ran forward, grabbing Arn’s arm, and pulling him through a dimension door onto the back of the dragon. I guess I didn’t pick my moment well, because it beat its wings again, and Arn tumbled from its back. It was all I could do to cast featherfall on him, saving him from getting hurt.

Daddy dearest then unleashed a breath of cold icy air, laying waste to everyone in his path (well, except Tia’Vari, who was suspectly free of ice crystals!). Laying around her though was the remains of a troop of knights that had apparently arrived mid fight, and just charged to attack. Now they were a bit dead.

So that’s how I ended up riding the reanimated evil form of Tia’Vari’s dad. Being carried off into the sunset, to me eventual demise.

Well, that would have happened, except I am Tak, and I do stupid things all the time. I cast Polymorph, and turned myself into a giant Lizard. The biggest I could think of, the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.

My plan was sound. Be a big lizard; wrestle Daddy dearest to the ground. Bite him a few times, and hope everyone else can get here. In actuality, I turned into a big lizard, flailed around with my tiny lizard arms, fell off the dragon and hit the floor. The beast flew off, and then I was left looking magnificent on the ground. (Have you ever tried to stand up without using your tiny tiny arms?)

Tia’Vari revived Oarath, who set to word reviving the knights. Eventually, they managed to get all bar two back from deaths door, and I decided that being a giant lizard was poor taste. I popped back to my normal beautiful self, and strode forward to talk with the captain, one Sir Elmkin, leader of this small band. I explained the situation leading up to the attack, and Oarath backed me up on it. I also asked if we could speak to Dovin Treeguard, which caught him off track. Eventually, I must have persuaded him that we were heroes, because they formed up around us, to provide us with a guard of honour, to lead us back to their chapterhouse.

All in all, not a bad days work!

 

 

Chapter 17 – Chapterhouse under attack!

As the Chapterhouse of the Order of the Tree loomed its way into view, it suddenly struck me that I’d never before set foot in a southern military structure. Whilst the cities and fortresses back home were of a more wooden nature, this one instead featured a large amount of bricks and mortar. It was an imposing sight to say the least.

Passing beneath its battlements, I made sure to greet every guard we met. I didn’t want them seeing us as “Northern Savages” but it seems my pleasantries didn’t help much. There was lots of muttered oaths, and the trainees we passed stopped their drills, and were instant rewarded with harsh language from their task-master. I guess military training is the same no matter which side of the country you call home. The commander of the escort stopped us, and asked if we held Ill intent. He offered us the choice of confinement to lodgings, or a shared cell. It wasn’t much of a choice to be fair, and soft beds after weeks on the road are always welcome.

Father Oarath and the troop captain headed off to speak to the chapterhouse commander, leaving us with a dubious looking pair of guards on the door.

We settled in for the day, deciding to wait on the commander showing up. There was little to no chance that they’d bring Dovin to us, but I took the chance to mention it every time I spoke to a human.

By nightfall we’d still not seen the commander, so we decided to post a watch of our own.

Midway through the night, Arn awoke us. He’d heard a noise outside, and needed someone to investigate. Glancing outside, both guards were lying in a pool of blood. Not the best indicator to our captors of our trustworthiness if both our guards are dead. One of the guards lay in bite sized chunks, the other still had a pulse, but was fading fast. I took care of that with a quick healing spell, and we got him to his feet. He was pretty unfocused, so I tried to get him to raise the alarm. It took a few attempts, and we escorted him to do so. Sir Clerenbold (for that was his name) still wasn’t sure what he was doing, but out of the corner of my eye I spotted a the shadowy shape made so familiar from our last big fight. It disappeared into a doorway, and we gave chase, dragging the poor guard with us.

Castles are very maze-like, and this one had a huge number of stairs!

Emerging onto the battlements, we came across more murdered guards. Following the trail of slaughter brought us down more stairs, and back into the main courtyard. With the alarm rang, more knights were charging into the courtyard, and spotting us, they yelled and charged. Almost simultaneously, I spotted the dragon on the battlements again. I needed help, and Thistle, whilst not able to be with us, had always hinted that if I asked, she might listen. Giving a quick plea, I pointed at the dragon, yelling “Look, its up there!”

Several things happened at once. Everyone within 30 feet of me simultaneously vanished. The energy from this caused the dragon to glow a bright radiant white!

The guards all turned to look.

The Dragon buggered off.

Well, I guess when you ask for help from a god, you don’t always get what you expect.

We were still invisible. I’m not sure how, or why, but the Dragon left, so it’s a minor win!

There was a lot of back and forth between the guards and us once the spell finally wore off and we reappeared. Eventually we returned to our room, to allow them to check out the losses.

We escorted Sir Clerenbold to the medic, and slept for the night.

The next day, we got to meet Commander Berenorf. He had some choice things to say, but we managed to persuade him (mainly by our actions) that we weren’t spies. He was most curious about the armour Drax was wearing (we’d looted it from an ancient corpse, it was the same (but older) armour as most of the order wore. He requested it back, and Drax firmly refused, saying he needed it for the coming fights, but that he’d return it when the war was won.

The Commander also mentioned that the Order of the Tree was responsible for the wellbeing of every druid in the land. Tia’Vari thanked him for caring. He then informed her that this meant every druid in the land was conscripted into his order. Her training would begin after breakfast. She was to report to Arms Master Sparrow.

Well. That’s a bit crap.

Tia wasn’t overly impressed with this either. But, whilst we were in their home, we had to follow their rules. We’d see about changing that later. For now, she had to practise fighting with club and shield.

It was certainly proving to be a strange day.

 

 

Chapter 18 – Trainees and Dead Dad

Today we got to meet the future Forest Warden. You’d think that would classify as the defining point of the day.

We’d spent the day watching Tia’Vari train. The amusement factor had waned, and now the only enjoyment I was getting, was from playing tunes for the students in the library whilst they read.
During the evening meal, a large bell started to sound. None of the Knights seemed fazed by this, and the only one to rise and leave was the commander. We followed him to see what was causing the commotion, and he stopped outside and started casting at the large tree in the centre of the courtyard.

The Tree started to open up, and it burped up an armoured figure. To be honest, I had no idea that trees could eat people. This changes everything.

Dovin Treeguard strode forth, ranting that “Anis is running the whole show now. He’s relegated the Princess to her Summer residence, and is refusing to grant anyone access. He claims she’s ‘too ill’. He’s bought out the council. They all answer to him!”

The Commander interupted him at this point, telling him instead to meet him in his office. They both headed out, and this was too juicy a story to miss out on, so I shifted form to that of a starling, and flew around the castle to the commanders window, where I perched and listened to him rant further on the subject. The Commander told him that he had no one to spare, and couldn’t mount an offensive against the capital, based purely on a feeling. He’d think about it, and they could talk about it in the morning.

I quickly flapped back to the group, and filled them in on what I’d heard. Moments later Dovin exited into the courtyard.

I quickly introduced myself, and the rest of the group (bar the trainee Tia’Vari, who was on cleanup duty in the great hall) and launched into our tale once more. Dovin seemed sceptical, but once we mentioned his ancestors name, he started to pay attention. Going for broke, I told him about the staff of seasons, and passed it to him. He unwrapped it, and held it aloft. A massive bolt of lightning, together with a thunderclap filled the courtyard. I may have miscalculated there, but Dovin seemed unhurt. We quickly wrapped it again, and I slung it across my back. Tia’Vari came pounding into the courtyard, looking to see if we were under attack. Spotting the staff being slung over my back, she grabbed for it. She was still intent on owning it for herself, oblivious to the danger it posed to her and everyone close.

We argued about this some more, when the others pointed to the sky. Looks like this arguement was saved by ‘Dead Dad’. He was returning, and at speed, bellowing about unleashed power. I’ll be honest, I tuned out at this stage, because the last thing we needed was Dovin getting eaten by the Dragon. I grabbed him, and teleported away, depositing him in the Commanders office. “Stay here!” I ordered, thinking to keep him safe, he argued it briefly, but I gave him a look, knowing he’d obey and stay. I teleported back to the fight, where everyone seemed engaged with the dragon.

Seconds later, Dovin appeared behind me, weapon drawn. Balls.

I threw him the staff, telling him to use it, as it’d help! Hopefully this would keep him out of the fight a little longer. Back in the courtyard, Drax had cast his mightiest spell yet. The Dragon stood rigid, whilst everyone laid into it with everything they had. Echo stood at my side, keeping watch over the battlefield.

The Dragon snapped out of his immobilised state, and unleashed a breath attack across the courtyard, taking out a number of guards, and wounding some of my friends. It tore left and right, snapping and clawing at anyone in range. With each blow it received, it returned the force tenfold. However, cracks began to appear it its scales, and tendrils of dark mist oozed from each wound it suffered. It made one final attempt to destroy everyone around it, dropping me into unconciousness, before we slew the beast.

After a little healing from my friends. we stood looking over the battlefield, we lost many of the humans that stood alongside us, and almost lost our record of our trials so far! However, in front of us lay the decayin corpse of ‘Dead Dad’. Hopefully he’ll stay dead, but we’ll have to see what happens there.

 

 

Chapter 19 – Swimming in Gold!

So for anyone wondering “How do Dragons carry around their cash? Do they have wallets made out of Orc-skin?” I can finally answer that question!

A swift search of the rapidly decaying corpse of Dead Dad revealed a large chain necklace around his neck. I tried, and failed, to loop it over the skull, but couldn’t quite manage it. Prior to lopping off the head (and upsetting his daughter) I asked Maeb to help. She pointed out that it’d probably be easier to undo the clasp, and once again I felt like an idiot.

Removing the clasp, the chain immediately shrunk so that I was holding a necklace I could easily loop around my neck. Not being so daft as to immediately put on a magic item without checking it first, I cast ‘Identify’ on it, to ensure it wasn’t cursed.

No Curse!

Ace!

Dangling from the chain was a small pouch, and inside the pouch was a piece of material blacker than almost anything I’d seen before. Another quick spell, and we knew we had a portable hole in our hands. I’d never seen one before, so we stretched it out in front of us, and concentrated to activate it.

The cloth stretched to a six foot diameter, and rippled slightly. The darkness of the material shifted, and suddenly we were no longer looking at material, but at a pit in front of us. As the light shifted to illuminate it, we realised we weren’t actually looking at a pit, but at a pile of gold. A very big pile of gold. A very very big pile of gold. In amongst the gold, items poked out. Teapots, jewel encrusted candlesticks, some weird gold egg thing. We really needed to sort through this and see what we were dealing with.

I jumped down into the pit, and started throwing gold out onto the courtyard. Someone threw a bucket down, and I started to use this instead. We turn up a few magic items in the clearance, but we weren’t making much of a dent. We’d probably cleared about a foot and a half depth of gold, and this this was about six foot deep. Sticking up from the pile was a staff, and Tia’Vari seemed enraptured by it. Trying to pull it out wasn’t working.  It was time to think outside the hole.

I jumped out of the hole, and picked it up. Leaving the spoils already turfed out, we retreated back to our room. Picking the biggest wall, I waited whilst everyone retreated to the floor above, and then slapped the hole against the wall and turned and ran.

This wasn’t a good plan.

The pit immediately paid attention to gravity, and the hundreds of thousands of gold coins, items, and other jagged heavy things attacked me with the force of… well, hundreds of thousands of heavy things being affected by gravity.

It hurt, and I was carried swiftly towards the opposite wall.

Spending a few minutes digging myself out, I could hear the others sniggering. They tried to mask it, but there was definite laughter.

Tia stepped down onto the settled pile of gold and claimed the staff. We then set about filtering through the gold for other bits.

After claiming all of the magic items, and sweeping the gold back into the pit (This required a relocation of the pit to the floor) We remembered that the whole reason we’d been in the courtyard was to speak with Dovin.

A few minutes later, Dovin sat talking with us in our room. We persuaded him that being the Forest Warden was the best path to protecting the realm, but first we had to agree to rescue the Princess with him. It was, hopefully, an easy task. Nowhere near the calamity of fighting an undead dragon. Heck, I’d probably not need to turn into a dinosaur for it!

We agreed that we’d have to sneak out at midnight, and Dovin had a way to get us to the Summer residence that the Princess was being kept at.

At midnight, we grabbed our horses, and Dovin brought an older druid out into the courtyard. He reached out towards the massive Oak in the centre of the courtyard, and a small hole in the centre quickly widened to a five foot wide portal. Dovin hurried us inside, and as we stepped out of the other side of the trunk, we were no longer inside the chapterhouse of the order. We now stood in a densely wooded area, which quickly hushed on our arrival.

I could get used to this method of travel.

 

 

Chapter 19 – Pocket Clerics, no fuss!

Slowly the local wildlife decided we were not a threat, and the night-time sounds of nature returned to the area. We mounted up, and Dovin lead the way towards the summer residence. As he lead, we asked questions about the side, and likely guard complement of the property.

It became quickly obvious that he not only didn’t know, but hadn’t actually been to this property before.

A stealthy approach then. Scout out the property, form a plan, carry it out. Easy.

Arn was to sneak in with Echo. Whilst I’d been diving in treasure yesterday, Arn had spent the evening with a couple of the Druids from the infirmary. They had carried out some kind of healing ritual, and he was no longer blind. Whilst it seemed to be causing some minor issues with double vision, Arn seemed happier than I’d ever seen him. I don’t recall ever seeing him smile, but he was even cracking jokes.

He cast something briefly, and the ‘stealthy’ sounds of us cracking through the dry leaves on the forest floor deadened. Grinning he turned to scout ahead. He was to report back on the residence, and with that information we could plan our infiltration properly.

Arn took one step, stiffened, and collapsed to the floor. Behind me, I heard the sound of someone else dropping. Looking back, Tia also sprawled upon the floor. Drax checked them over, and confirmed that whilst everything seemed normal, they were unconscious. Dovin tried a healing spell, but nothing took hold.

Echo had been nudging at Arn with his head, and instead stepped onto Arn’s chest, and sat down.

We needed to carry out the mission, and two unconscious party members didn’t change that, so I turned to the snow leopard and asked “Echo, we need to rescue the princess, can you guard them both while we do?” Echo, being a giant cat, didn’t answer. I assumed that meant yes, and we headed off into the darkness.

There is an art to sneaking up on an unsuspecting target. I’m not so bad at it myself, and I’ve been witness to some absolute masters. One thing they ultimately avoid doing, to a man, is to make sure they aren’t surrounded by three party members wearing platemail.

It was obvious after about three steps that the sneaky approach wasn’t going to work. We needed a different way to scout the area, and with limited resource available, Maeb offered to scout. But I’d need to turn her into something a little less obvious. After some brainstorming, we decided a small owl would do the job, and I polymorphed her into one. She took off silently, and returned a few minutes later.

The house was guarded by 8-10 soldiers, with two large dwarven figures standing guard inside.

8-10 soldiers were manageable. Dovin wanted no bloodshed if possible, so we needed to either sneak in or talk our way in. We’d already worked out what happened when sneaking, so talking it was.

No matter how good I am at talking, it’d be very difficult to explain why an 8 foot Goliath was with us, so Drax temporarily needed to be smaller. Another polymorph spell, and mouse-Drax rested in my pocket.

I slipped the ring on that let me alter my form, and picked an armoured form similar to that of the guards I could see near the property. Maeb cast something similar, and took on human form. Dovin stood staring at us before remembering the mission, and the three of us made a beeline for the main entrance.

We bantered as I imagine soldiers must as we approached, and the guards called a warning as we got close.

“We’ve a message for the Captain, direct from the Councillor!”

I was pushing it assuming that the Captain answered directly to the Councillor, but if they were up to something nefarious with the Princess I can’t imagine the entirety of the army being involved.

“What’s your business?” They called back.

“Look, I think you’ll understand that I can’t just tell you the message. What with it being orders directly from the Councillor concerning the young lady.”

The two guards discussed this quietly between themselves, and Dovin shuffled nervously behind me. I wasn’t nervous though, I had the confidence of a Bard with a mini-cleric in his pocket.

One of the guards turned back towards the house, and called to someone out of sight. “Evans, could you inform the Captain that theres a messenger at the gate for him?”!

We stood waiting for a response for a few minutes, and after the first minute I decided to put on my ‘impatient’ face. Being pissed off always helps sell deception.

With little fanfare the absent guard returned with another, though this man stood slightly straighter, with slightly better quality armour. It struck me then that none wore what I’d describe as uniform or colours.

It was a little late to worry about whether we were dealing with Mercenaries or not, as the Captain stepped up in front of us. “I’m told you have a message for me?”

I glanced to either side at his soldiers, then back at him “I’m not sure that you want to hear this out here? I’m sure you know the nature of this message?” then I paused, leaving that in the air. He stood staring at me for a good 30 seconds, then sighed.

“Fine, you, messenger, follow me. The other two must stay out here.” And he turned on his heel and walked back inside. I quickly followed, trying to formulate a plan with us separated, worst case scenario I pop Drax back to his full size, and we subdue the captain.

He lead us through the building, into a small well furnished study, he took a seat and I sat opposite.

“Report!”

This would be where my brain was racing fastest. Just how much rubbish could I think up on the fly…

“I trust you paid attention to who was stood at the back with me out there? You’ll have spotted the armour, and designs upon it?”

He nodded.

“The Order have approached Anis about the Princess. They’re concerned that she’s hidden away, and want evidence that she’s alive. They’ve sent him to double check. I’m your prior warning. You need to make her look well, so he can see her, and report back.”

“Make her look well? Her health continues to deteriorate.”

“Well, perhaps one of your medics can… I don’t know… Use makeup or something?”

It was at this point that something changed in his eyes. I’d obviously said the wrong thing.

“Who did you say sent you again?”

I reached into my pocket and took mini-Drax out. Things were about to get wiggly.

Weaving my fingers through the familiar arcane patterns subtly, I answered.
“My commander, on the orders of Councillor Anis, asked me to deliver this message.” Then finalising the spell… “I need you to bring my colleagues here, and take us all to the Princess, and I need there to be no fuss.”

With longer to plan, I guess my suggestion could have been more complex, but I knew what was about to happen.

My concentration on the spell caused the spell I’d cast on Drax to fail, and with a soft Bamf sound, he returned to his normal self. The Captain had a moment of panic cross his face, and then the nature of my spell settled in. He nodded, and called in a guard.

Balls.

The guard stepped into the doorway, and freaked. He was halfway through drawing his sword when the Captain spoke. “No, no, put that away, we don’t want any fuss.”

“but… but… “

“No fuss Soldier, that’s the order. Please go and fetch this mans comrades, and bring them to us. No fuss please.”

The guard resheathed his sword, and took off to fetch Maeb and Dovin.

A few minutes later they joined us. I prompted the Captain to take us to the Princess, and he led us to another small room. Guarded by two more soldiers. Both of which also freaked at the sight of Drax.

The Captain once against had them stand down. “No Fuss Gentlemen, they’re here to see the Princess.”

He showed us inside, and Dovin ran to the Princesses side. He spent a good minute examining her and trying to wake her. Drax and Maeb stepped up to assist. As they pulled back the cover to examine her, it became obvious what the issue was. Blackened diseased roots encircled her arms, curling around her hands and intertwining themselves with the bed.

On the nightstand next to the bed sat a small beaker filled with bubbling viscous liquid. Drax picked it up and sniffed it, recoiling at its acrid smell.

I took the potion and cast identify on it. Images of five figures carrying out a ritual to produce it filled my head. It carried the blight in its genes, and was more than just a potion or disease. Someone had been feeding it to the Princess. I poured fire from my hands into it, destroying it utterly.

I turned to face the Captain, who was obviously struggling with the commands he’d been issued with.

“There, you’ve seen her. Now you must leave.”

Time was running out, and we needed to get out of here without a fuss.

“Dovin, I think the only person that can save her from this blight is the Forest Warden. We should take her to him!” I struggled not to wink, or use air quotes, and hoped that he’d understand my deception.

“But you said he was dead?”

God, humans are so stupid sometimes.

“No, I said the old one was dead. The new one can help!”

“But you said I…”

I was winking at him by now, and needed to shut him up fast.

“Dovin. We really need to take her to the Forest Warden.”

He stood blankly staring at me. So I stepped past, and started to untangle to roots from the bed. I got one hand free before the Captain stepped up to stop me.

“I need you to stop that. I can’t have any fuss here!”

From outside came a voice, “Captain? Is everything ok?”

“Yes, everythings fine in here, we don’t want any fuss!”

Both Maeb and Dovin stepped up to untangle the roots around the other hand.

The Captain became agitated and turned to the door to call the guards.

Go time.

I cast a spell to hold him in place, and Drax stepped outside to address the guards. Both of which jumped at seeing him. Behind me, Dovin and Maeb started smashing the bed frame to free the Princess.

In the hallway, both guards drew their weapons, and Drax tried to freeze them both to the spot. He succeed for one, and the other stepped towards him. Maeb slipped out behind him, and spectral roots flowed from the ground, surrounding and restraining the guard. Dovin grabbed the princess, and we fled for the door.

As we hit the main hall, it seemed more sensible to use the side exit, rather than the main, more well guarded, entrance. Glancing over as we ran for the door, I spotted a beautiful set of armour. Maeb spotted it at the same time. “Grab that Maeb! I’ve a feeling it’ll be useful!” Maeb took another look at it, back at me, and carried on running.

As we cleared the doorway I saw Drax had taken over carry duty from Dovin. I held out my arms, took the Princess from him, and Polymorphed him into a Triceratops. God I love dinosaurs. Perfect for every occasion.

Mounting our new steed, I reached down to pull Dovin up. He blanched, and instead turned into a small own, and flew on ahead. TriceraDrax took off at a lumber, trumpeting as he did. The Guards ahead of us screamed, and threw themselves into cover. 5 minutes later, we were lumbering through the forest with no sounds of pursuit.

We reached our campsite with no incident, and after lowering the princess back to Dovin I dismounted and dropped the spell on Drax. Arn and Tia still slept, guarded by a slightly twitchy Echo.

Now we just need to work out what to do with the Princess whilst we go get Dovin Ordained.

 

 

Chapter 20 – Tower Approach.

As we reached camp, we were greeted by the site of Arn ruffling Echo’s ears. Tia’vari still slept, but the Goliath Ranger was back on his feet. We filled him in on the recent developments and discussed tactics as to how we could get the Princess to safety without being arrested ourselves. Eventually we persuaded Dovin that we could send her to the Chapterhouse without having to go ourselves. This way avoiding incarceration. After a little debate he agreed, and Rarity (Maeb’s mount) agreed to carry her through. We left a note, and included a dose of the poison we’d found.
Dovin ran a bell which summoned forth a portal within a tree, and Rarity rode through.

Dovin stepped up to the tree, and placed the bell at its roots. Turning, he warned us “They can track this. We should leave before the come to investigate. This was enough warning, and I polymorphed Drax back into a triceraDrax. He lumbered off into the night carrying Tia and Maeb. I mounted my faithful steed Bunny, and gave chase.

Just short of an hour later, and we set up camp. I’d say for the night, but it was almost morning. The multiple polymorphs spells had put a massive drain on me, and I swiftly fell into a dreamless sleep.

I guess my exhaustion showed, because I wasn’t woken for a watch that night, and I awoke to the smell of cooking oats the next morning. Dovin had prepared Porridge for breakfast, an dgulping it down we set about planning for the next steps.

Tia still hadn’t woken, but we decided to head for the mountains anyway. If she didn’t wake beforehand, perhaps we could activate the gem buried in her hand anyway. I wasn’t sure how this would work, but we could give it a try.

Dovin estimated it’d take about 4 days of travel, so we packed up and headed out.

Four days was pretty accurate. Within 2 days the trees had thinned enough to show the mountain. By the third day, we could see the outline of a small tower upon the mountain. On the fourth day, we started our ascent.

The path wove its way up the foot of the mountain, and in almost no time, it became treacherous. Sheer drops to either side of us as we climbed higher.

As the path switched back on itself, we heard a deep grunt, and a large troll-like creature stepped around a boulder in the path. I tried to shake it with a thunderwave, and when it stood resolute, Drax stepped in and punched it from the path. It sailed out over the drop-off, its arms flailing almost comically.

From above us, a series of rocks rained down. Arn took a hit, and the rest of us took cover. Maeb spread her wings, and leapt up into the air for a better view. She counted three enemies out to us. I asked Arn if he was ready, and before he could reply teleported him up to the ledge above us. He gave me a familiar scowl before the troll that waited above laid into me with a flurry of attacks.

It was all I could do to stay standing. The creature resisted the majority of my attacks, but fortunately I wasn’t alone. Arn peppered the creature with attack after attack. His new weapon glowing blacker with each successful hit. The creature stood up to the first barrage of attacks, but fell to the second. Behind me Maeb unleashed divine wrath on a second troll, and as both trolls fell, a small winged beast fired crossbow bolt after bolt at me. Growing tired at this, I snatched a bolt from the air and commanded it to stop attacking.

Strangely it ignored me. Normally that worked!

Drax however, was prepared for this, and weaved his radiant magic, locking the small winged creature in place. Arn stepped in, and restrained it, whilst Echo playfully batted at is as it fell into Arns grasp.

Normally at this point, we chat with the enemy, they see the error of their ways, and we all laugh about the misunderstanding.

This creature called me a bad name, so we killed it.

 

Ahead of us stood an odd tower. Its doors lay upon the snow in front of it, and it climbed up from the mountain like a rotten tooth. Half way up, the walls crumbled to nothing. Yet further up still, the top of the tower hung suspended, with nothing holding it in place.

Maeb took to the skies to carry out some Recon, and did her best to resemble a porcupine as a wave of crossbow bolts filled the air.

We decided that an airborn assault might not be the cleverest. So we used the front door. Its always served us well.

I was midway through a cunning plan that involved the severed head of the Kobold and my invisible friend Phillip when another Troll leapt from the dark to attack us.

Bloody Trolls ruining my plans.

 

 

Chapter 21 – Troll Poop as a bludgeoning weapon.

Ok. It wasn’t one Troll. It was two. In close quarters two Trolls can be devastating.

Fortunately, Maeb, Arn and Drax used the setup of the tower to their advantage, funnelling the Trolls through a choke point. Tia woke and moved in to join the fray. The pair of us stood at the back throwing fire and lightning about, and the two attacking trolls fell to our collective might!

Ready to congratulate everyone, I turned to spot two more Trolls sneaking up on us from behind. The first got off a good hit on me before I blasted him (I shouldn’t assume really, this could have been a her) and the following troll with a lightning bolt. I sidestepped keeping it in the doorway, and Arn came to join us.

A series of spells, strikes and bites, and both trolls shuffled off to deadsville.

With four trolls already ambushing us, it was time to try the quiet approach. Arn snuck off to investigate, and found another troll, this time sleeping. My Great Uncle Dakit was a bard of some reknown, and had great wisdom he’d impart at times like this. Perhaps my favorite was “Don’t wake the bloody Troll you numbnut.”

We followed that wisdom, and backed away to investigate another area.

From behind a pile of rubble Drax spotted a pair of eyes watching us. Dashing forward to check, he spotted the retreating form of a Kobold.

Someone discovered a staircase whilst I was trying to call to the Kobold to come back. A little investigation proved it was not exactly the safest in the realms, and Maeb spent a minute trying to fix it up and make it safe for us. It still required a little Parkour, but once up, we used a rope to help the larger members of the party join us.

On the next floor up, we spotted the Kobold once more as it bolted into a room. We gave chase, and Tia’Vari rushed in behind it. Unfortunately, the Kobold hadn’t waited for her. Instead, a large studded trunk swung down from the ceiling, smashing into her, knocking her sideways.

Great, traps. Time to be a little more careful.

No sign of a Kobold in this room though, which was odd, because we’d clearly seen him enter it. I stepped out into the corridor, to check one of the other paths, to hear a shout from the room behind. A secret door had been found, but our Goliaths were a little too large to fit in, which meant it was down to Tia and me. Down the second corridor I spotted the Kobold again as he bolted into another room. Drax came to join me at the intersection, and I nipped back to check the secret door with Tia.

We followed the path that the Kobold had taken, careful for any further traps. Exiting via the same door we’d seen it exit, We spotted Arn stepping into a room ahead of us. He leapt to one side with cat-like dexterity, narrowly avoiding a bucket of troll poo which hit the floor with… well, I’d like to say a thud, but I think the troll may have needed to see a medic.

A shout from the corridor sent Arn and echo running through. Drax had spotted the Kobold again, but it had escaped once more. Arn and Echo came barrelling out, ending up face to face with it. It evaded Arn, but Echo took a swipe knocking it down. Fortunately, he hadn’t killed it though, just knocked it out. Arn picked it up in one hand, and pinned the unconscious creature against the wall with one hand. His hand glowed with a natural light, and the Kobold woke up squirming.

I stepped up, seizing the chance to practice my Draconic.

“Hello little one, you may not know this, but you’re in the presence of some mighty Heroes. This here is the Hero Tia’Vari, and her quest is to recover an item of hers that’s located here. I’m sure you’d love to help her wouldn’t you? She’s looking for an egg.”

His eyes went wide, and he started to stammer.

“Now, I think we can talk calmly, can’t we. My friend Arn here is going to let you down, and you’ll talk with us won’t you? We can keep the kitty under control, but if you try to run he’ll hunt you down and eat you.”

The Kobold freaked out, but nodded sharply.

“Arn, put him down, he’s not going to run.”

And then, in Draconic. “Where is the egg little one?

His eyes strayed upwards, I’d guess towards the tower. “He has it! Grand Highest Priest Lokkit the 17th. He said that Dirt couldn’t touch it. Dirt wasn’t allowed. No Wings for Dirt.”

“Your name is Dirt?” I asked, and he nodded. “Dirt, if you can help us get the egg, I’m sure we’ll allow you to touch it before we leave! For now, you just need to stay quiet, and out of our way.”

He seemed happier, but still nervous. Glancing down the corridor I could see why. Echo had hunkered down, and his tail we twitching a little. I pointed it out to Arn, and asked that Echo stand down.

“We’re letting Dirt go for now, he’s our friend now!” Arn didn’t look convinced, but Echo moved over next to him, and Dirt cautiously backed down the corridor to the corner, then bolted out of sight.

In the room we’d caught Dirt in front of, we found another staircase up. This one in slightly better condition. Before we headed up, I just needed a breather. I sat for half an hour, whilst Tia searched the remaining rooms, being careful to avoid any other traps. In doing so, she also uncovered Dirt’s bolthole, but decided to not bother him any further.

On returning, we gather our stuff, ready to head upwards towards the floating tower.

 

 

Chapter 22 – Tak, Inspector of Eggs.

In the grand scheme of ‘plans that totally shouldn’t work but did’ I came up with a few doozies today.

After we decided to take a short nap to boost our available powers, we headed on up to the floating tower. Half way up, we were set upon by flying kobolds. To be honest, I never thought I’d get the chance to say “Flying Kobolds” so today was off to a flying (hah) start.

Flying beasties prove to be somewhat of a problem for our close combat orientated group, and it took a little longer than normal to dispatch these buggers.

After that, it was a simple case of reapplying the polymorph spell to drax to turn him into an eagle, and getting him to ferry us up to the floating platform.

Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn. I’ve heard its not the thing to do in polite company, but what came next was genius. I spotted a group of three Kobolds eating their breakfast on the next level of the tower, and I strode in, pretending to belong.

“Good afternoon gentlefolk” I began. “I’m the Egg inspector, here to check everything is in order. I’m to make sure correct procedure is being followed.”

With creatures of normal intelligence I’d be wearing a coat of arrows already, but the Kobolds stopped what they were doing, and took a moment to consider this. One of the Kobolds even took this chance to present me with his breakfast, which oddly included an egg. Where he got it, I’ll never know.

“it says here on the list that I should expect to find a non-winged one here, by the name of ‘Dirt’. Where is he?” This may have been pushing my luck, trying to send them away.

One of them spat into the void below the room. “Him stupidhead, and not supposed to be up here!”

It answered, and I got the impression I was stretching this a little far.

“Ok, I’ll call in my team for advice, you wait there!”

I beckoned to Tia, Eagle Drax and Maeb. They hurried to join me. Tia whispered garbage to me, and I replied to the Kobolds. “Ok, you’re fine for now, we need to head on up to check the eggs above. With that, we all hurried up the stairs away from them, waiting on any sign of pursuit. None came.

On the floor above, we came across a number of items that totally didn’t require ransacking the room. Tia found a spellbook. Maeb found floating rocks strung together with rope, and Drax found inner peace in being a giant eagle.

I got bored of waiting for them, and carried on up the stairs. As I crested the stairwell the most beautiful site greeted me. A giant dragon (possibly) skull, upon a crudely crafted wooden body.

Where a crudely crafted statue sits, generally there lays a large amount of stupid followers. My ‘stupid plan’ sense was tingling, and beckoning to Tia’vari I begged her to make me invisible. Some may say begged was too strong a word, but I was literally on my knees giggling at this point.

Tia’vari, not one for ignoring the signs, cast the spell, and turned invisible herself also.

I stepped forwards, and raised the fake skull up. I placed it firmly upon my head, and turned to face the crowd of Kobolds in the midst of a worship. I took a deep breath, and in my best Draconic I started my speech.

“Minions. Stop thy worship. Our tower is under attack from non-believers. I need you to hurry down to ground level and protect us!”

I’m going to stop you here, and explain exactly what I thought would happen.

There were about 20 Kobolds worshipping at this altar, including one in fancy robes. Behind him, a large air elemental hovered in place.

What I expected to happen was approximately half of them would get confused, giving us 5-10 seconds to attack them without taking a shedload of arrows in the face.

What I didn’t expect to happen was that every single Kobold in the place took wing, and flew outside to protect the tower, leaving only the air elemental between us and the mystic egg.

Sometimes the genius of my plans shocks even me!

A few swipes from my colleagues, and the air elemental dissipated. Yay!

With it going, its control over the tower faded, and as a result it started to list.

Balls.

We ran, as fast as our legs would carry up, down to the lowest level. The plan here was to jump ship, landing back on the lower part of the tower.

It was a good plan, with one minor flaw. The lower part of the tower was a good half a mile away now and increasing.

Well. Balls. Maybe that elemental was good for something after all.

 

 

Chapter 23 – New friends, old tricks.

Well, A flying tower. How about that.

Yes, admittedly it was flying before and we were awed by that, but it was more hovering than flying… Now, it seemed to be heading firmly north. Perhaps there was some kind of reins we could use to guide it?

Then, it struck me… Where was Arn? Did we leave him on the ground? How careless!

Lots of thoughts were whizzing around in my brain, and when that happens, sometimes you need to sit back and let them whizz. I stared out from the balcony into the distance, and let them whizz. The distance waved at me, so out of politeness I waved back. Then, after a moment to realise that horizons don’t wave, I realised that it was actually something flapping in the distance, growing larger by the minute. I checked through my list of things I knew could fly.

Pteradon. Nope, not that.

Kobolds. Too big.

Tower. Nope, don’t think it’s another flying tower.

Eagles, ahh, yes, eagles. This looked very similar to the eagles we used to get up to the tower. In another minute, we were able to discern their passengers, one Goliath, one Snow Leopard, and one small Kobold clinging to the snow leopard.

Oh thank Thistle, here come the rest of our party.

With nothing to do, but show them around our new temporary home, we headed to the top floor to replace the egg onto its stand. Tia’Vari headed instead for the small study area, and left us to care for it. As we reached the alter, we spotted another Kobold, sans wings (am I allowed to point that out? I mean, most Kobolds don’t have wings, it’s not a disability or anything!). His name, apparently, was Izkin, and he was confused. Apparently his God had instructed his tribe to protect the lower tower from attack, and they’d flown off to do this. He didn’t have wings, so was left behind.

I’m very grateful that he hadn’t sussed our involvement in this, so reassured him that they were brave warriors. He asked why we had his sacred Egg, so I tried to persuade him that it was actually ours, and they’d just borrowed it from us. He asked his God for guidance, and thankfully his God spoke to him through the statue, telling him that he should help us, and look after the egg.

It was totally the statue, I didn’t use a spell to tell him… Why are you looking at me like that?

So with our second Kobold friend onside, we started to discuss the ritual he’d been casting, and started to hunt around for the revered ritual that he’d be casting. It was quite difficult to follow… basically kill something, make a candle from its fat, burn the candle on the statue till it goes out whilst chanting, then kiss the egg.

Glad to see Kobolds have kept the pomp out of their ceremony. Turns out he’d done all the ceremony up to the kissing the egg part, then someone attacked the lower tower and the god sent everyone off! Oops.

Also turns out that the candle needs to be freshly made, and guess who’s all out of Dire Lions to kill.

We decided, seeing as our tower was floating freely, and we weren’t able to guide it, that we’d look into a way to help the little chap. First off, we had to work out how to lower the tower so we weren’t several hundred feet up! Turning into a T-Rex wasn’t sufficient apparently, it made the tower dip and rock a bit, but it wasn’t quite heavy enough.

After some vague planning, we decided we needed a huge amount more weight, and as luck would have it, we happened to have a large amount of gold in a portable hole. Placing it in a pile in the middle of the second floor was a bad plan though, resulting in the tower almost toppling.

It occurred to me that this was a bad idea as I slipped from the balcony and started falling towards the sea. Live and learn eh? A quick spell later, and I’m flapping my wings and heading back up to the tower. After a few apologies, we got most of the gold back into the hole, and drew a line through that plan. Arn suggested that it was a good plan poorly executed, and suggested we do the plan on the ground floor instead, Dovin offered to repair the holes so the gold didn’t fall out, and plan B was formed.

Plan B required me slowly pouring the gold from the hole into the floor, then ripping the hole off the wall at the right moment.

All plans always go perfectly. I timed it just right, and the tower glided down. It totally didn’t drop like a stone hitting the water with a splash. Whoever told you that must be lying!

So with a slightly submerged castle, I quickly polymorphed Izkin into an octopus, so he could rescue the floating egg, and move it upstairs. I grabbed the egg, he grabbed me, and swiftly propelled us towards the stairs.

Thats when the Dragon-thing attacked.

Of course it was.

 

 

Chapter 24 – Turtley not my fault!

Where was I?

Dragon-thing attacking the tower!

Oh, that’s right.

Due to a mistake, we’d splashed down into the sea. We weren’t sinking, which is a good thing, but the lowest level of the tower was under seven foot of water.

Seven foot of water isn’t a huge issue if you’re an eight-foot-tall Goliath and made of rocks. If you’re, for example, a Tiefling, or maybe a Kobold, it’s a little more of an issue. Izkin, fortunately, was already an octopus, and swimming with the egg (and me) under his tentacle.

Poking in through the tower entrance was the large, somewhat angry head of a Dragon Turtle. Both Drax and Arn were already poking at it with swords and axe. Maeb and Echo had retreated to the stairs, and it looked like the Turtle would get a bite at us as we passed. Couldn’t risk the egg, so I teleported with it upstairs. Tia’Vari looked a bit surprised as I popped into view, but readily accepted the egg as I rolled it to her.

I ran back to the top of the stairs, trying out one of the new spells I’d learnt. Arrows leapt to my hand as I drew back my bow, and I fired a volley down at the turtle. Behind me, I heard Tia’Vari coming to investigate, and ahead of me Izkin sent a wave of biting bugs at the creature.

I grinned, this was going to be easier than normal!

There was a deep inhalation of breath, The Turtle had reared back its head, and with a hissing, fizzling sound, it spewed forth a cloud of steam that hurt like hell. I was quite glad that I’m used to hot climates, it probably hurt everyone else a lot more than it did me. Next to me, Echo collapsed to the floor, his fur steaming. Gods, not Echo! This beastie was in trouble now! The spell I’d cast to fire faster fizzled, and I was left with a difficult choice, one made easier by Echo collapsing. I dived forward, making sure I could see all my colleagues, and blue a few notes on my flute. Curling the notes into a wave of healing energy, I sent it whooshing out, to help all around me. Echo’s eyes flickered open, and he took to his heels up the stairs. I don’t blame him; I almost did the same.

Swimming back, I raised myself from the water, singing out to Arn to punch the turtle in its big fat face.

Then Drax did the thing again. I’m not exactly what the thing is, but he struck down, hitting the Beastie in the head, and it started to ooze sickness. It struggled to shake it off, but Drax had cast the same sickness that he dropped Tia’Vari’s dead Dad with. Mr Dragon Turtle wasn’t a patch on Dead Dad. Spell after spell zipped in, Maeb, Arn and Drax hammered away at the Turtle, and with a final blow from Maeb the beast fell, almost crushing Arn under its weight. We swiftly pulled him out, and then set about raising the tower to a level where sea creatures couldn’t mingle with our supplies.

For this task, I summoned Phillip and a few of his friends.

Growing up in the tavern, I didn’t have a large amount of friends. Most adults don’t want an ankle biter around when they’re drinking away an awful day. So to pass the time, I had an imaginary friend called Phillip. Obviously I knew he was an imaginary friend, but he always laughed at my jokes!

When I finally learned to weave my songs into spells, I found I was able to summon forth that memory, and not only would Philip laugh at my jokes, he’d fetch and carry for me too.

Over the next few hours, I had Phillip, and a number of his friends, ferry gold from the ground floor into the portable hole. As the pile dwindled and the hole filled, we started to lift up out of the drink.

Arn and Drax then started to carve up the turtle, pulling meat, and an increasing pool of gold from it. Turned out that the gold and items that had slipped from the tower were swallowed up by the creature. Getting back bile covered gold isn’t my idea of fun… Fortunately this was mitigated by a few extra items it had swallowed elsewhere.

We spend the next few days experimenting with guiding the tower through a combination of changing height, and getting an air elemental to give the tower the occasional nudge. It’s no fast moving stallion, but it gets the job done!

On the fourth, or possibly fifth day, two things happened. Izkin and Dirt finished making their candles from the turtle’s flesh, and we spotted land. The wind shifted as we closed in, and we were drawn swiftly inland, towards the mountains. Arn recognised a few, so we were clearly across the north/south divide, and heading home. What he didn’t recognise however, was the large plume of smoke billowing from an angry looking mountain. An angry looking, fire breathing mountain. Apparently, in mountain-folk-circles this is known as a volcano.

With this being a cause for some concern, I asked if anyone wanted to check in on this, with it potentially being caused by slime monsters and minions of Corsinar. The general impression was that this would be wise.

As we closed in, Arn told me that we weren’t exactly inconspicuous. Instead he and Drax jumped on giant eagles to explore (Because Goliaths riding eagles are invisible!) While they were gone, We discussed with Maeb and Dovin the likely hatred directed at them by the Goliaths… On account of them being murderous southerners. Between us, we scrounged up a few magic items to change appearance, and Dovin mixed up his armour a bit to disguise its origin. He went a little over the top on spikiness, but I’d give him a b+ for effort.

Watching the two eagle riders land, we spotted a pack of Goliath nearby. I was tempted to swan-dive from the tower, putting on a show for them, but Dovin instead recommended anchoring the tower to a nearby tree. This seemed to work ok, so instead we hopped down.

Arn and Drax had befriended this war band, and been told of a group of Goliath working with Dwarves to harm others in the area. They’d caused the eruptions, and no other Goliaths could get close enough to stop them.

This sounds like a job for Tak’s Travelling Tower Troop of Turtle Terrorisers.

I’m working on that name. Give it time.

 

 

Chapter 25 – Eggs, Golliaths and Dwarves.

The plan was, that we head on out to visit the Goliaths camp. Meet the rest of the Stonebreaker Tribe, chat amicably, then head off to investigate the volcano. Simple plans are the best! So instead we popped back into the tower for a bit. Tia’Vari was concerned about leaving the Egg with Dirt and Izkin, thinking they’d pull off some mysterious scheme. I’d tried to persuade her to just let them complete their ritual which would leave them indebted to us, but she was being Tia’Vari.

Back in the Tower, Izkin and Dirt had both finished making their candles. Izkin’s looked well sculpted, resembling some of the better candles we’d used in the tavern back before I set out on this path. Dirt… Dirt clearly hadn’t done this before. His candle resembled something you might scrape off your shoe, but it had a wick, and his heart was in the right place.

We argued back and forth over the benefits of letting them carry out the ritual, and eventually Izkin uttered the winning statement… “But Tia’Vari, you’re the tribe chief here, why wouldn’t you want this for your followers?” It was almost like a light flicked on above her head, and suddenly the ritual was on.

I won’t bore you with the details. There was candles, chanting, and some pressing of lips to eggs. Both Dirt and Izkin started to shriek in pain. Dirt passed out, Izkin remained conscious. Both of the sprouted wings.

It was an amazing sight… a little like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Izkin tried a few experimental flaps, then jumped from the balcony to take flight.

I’ve not seen a lot of birds leaving the nest in the wild, but I’ve heard that not every first flight is successful. This one, this one was disastrous. Izkin screamed most of the way down to the ground. It was only my quick reflexed that managed to let him float the last few steps. He folded his wings in, and had the decency to look embarrassed.

It was clearly time for us to go with the Goliaths. They, however, had gotten bored waiting for us, and instead had left a note with directions.

We left the directions to Arn and Drax, because we thought heading into a Goliath camp might be best led by Goliaths. Even if one was an outcast, and the other tribe-less. Let’s just not tell them that bit eh?

We made it safely to the camp without any trouble. Brak Githson met us and introduced us to his father Gith, and his betroved, Onenu Firehart.

I’m going to pause here to repeat some information that Brak had told Arn earlier. I think its important, but it may not prove so in the long run.

Onenu Firehart is the daughter of the leader of the River Hunter tribe. The River hunter tribe were recently attacked by the Rock Tanner clan, working with a group of Dwarves.

Whilst we’ve had dealings with dwarves in the past (Father Oarath, for one.) Goliaths and Dwarves have spent the last few hundred years fighting over land. They will, on sight, kill each other.

Its why I’ve so much respect for Arn and Drax, in that they managed to hold this rage in whilst we travelled south of the divide.

Hearing that the Rock Tanners were working with Dwarves was like hearing that someone had successfully set ice on fire. Incredibly unlikely, but this is the story that the sole survivor was telling. This survivor was Onenu Firehard, now Brak’s betrothed.

With this in mind, I was curious as to what to expect.

In front of us stood a Goliath of unremarkable height, but of a strange coloured skin. Almost burnt, with flickers of an almost flame-like tint to it. Drax commented quietly to us that he’d never seen her like before, nor had he heard her name mentioned. As a cross-tribe priest, I guess he’d encounter a large number of people in his travels. Something felt off. In a Corsinar kind of way.

But, with no way to check this, we decided instead to follow the original plan, which was to visit the camp, see how we could help, and deal with the Rock Tanners threat.

We traded first with the tribe, purchasing a few items, and unloading a chunk of gold on them. It was then time to head out. Time to find out just what was happening here.

Brak led us back out of the camp, bringing two of his hunters with us. Within half an hour Arn had picked up the trail of a number of Dwarves and Goliaths, no more than half an hour ahead of us.

Knowing that this meant we’d be seeing a fight shortly, I decided to try something… I’d normally say something different, but this next trick is becoming all too familiar now.

I whispered to the hunting party ‘don’t shoot the pink dwarf’ and used my ring to alter my appearance to that of a dwarf dressed in pink. I then took point, singing my best impression of a dwarf song. Basically, every word was either gold or beer, but you get the idea!

Rounding a rather rocky bend in the track a voice called out to me “Stop right there! What do you think you’re doing?”

Here we go.

“Oh, hello there! I’m Goron Tasselbeard!”

Yeah, I know, I’m rubbish at making up names on the spot.

“But you don’t have any tassels in your beard!”

Ack.

“Well, they got washed out while running away from some angry Goliaths! They’re not too far behind me! Do you mind if I head on up?”

He pondered this for a moment, before telling me to get a wiggle on. I hurried on, making sure my disguise looked as authentic as possible. I modelled myself on Father Oarath. Always best to have an element of truth in there!

As I walked, I sung as loudly as I could. Hopefully, this would cover up the noise the rest of the group made getting closer. As I walked though, it started to occur to me that these Dwarves weren’t overly evil. They weren’t covered in smoke or oil like every other evil thing we’ve fought, nor were they telling us their evil plans whilst trying to kill us.

Again, my Tak sense was tingling.

So I struck up conversation with them loudly as I walked towards them, asking what was ahead “Death and Doom”. Where were they going? “To our Doom” How come they had Goliaths with them “You ask too many questions…”

I’d made my mind up. These lot weren’t evil. Something was afoot, and it smelt worse than a Trolls loincloth.

I was about to drop some truths on the dwarves, hopefully talk them around to discussing things calmly. It would have been a wonderful end to this chapter, but one of the Goliaths travelling with Arn had got a line of sight on his targets, and before I could say “hold your fire!” one of the dwarves grew an arrow from his chest.

Why… why does this always happen to me.

Things went to pieces fast. I was surrounded by Dwarves, though they had no idea I was with their attackers. Around me they all drew their weapons, and I had a snap decision to make. Talk them out of a fight after they’d been attacked? Or try and knock them senseless and say sorry afterwards.

Thunder rolled off me, throwing dwarves to each side. I whispered “Sorry” and dropped to the ground. Dwarves and Goliaths went flying.

Around me, Arrows whizzed. Something else, small and white-hot also whizzed, it stopped whizzing inches above my head, where it bloomed into a massive fireball. One I’d recognise anywhere. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Tia’Vari was trying to blow me up!

Two dwarves turned into smudged shadows on the ground. The others frantically beat at their clothes to put out the flames. I’d managed to avoid the majority of the explosion. I’m going to hope that that was by design!

One by one, the ambush laid by my friends picked off the remaining Dwarves and Goliaths. Pretty soon, the noise of fighting died down, and it was time for me to drop my disguise. I quickly carried out the customary rummage of pockets, and came away with a small leather-bound book.

A quick scan of it confirmed my suspicions. The Dwarves had been attacked deep in the mountains by a fiery beast. They were fleeing, and the Goliath tribe offered to help. The Fiery beast was responsible for killing the River Hunter Tribe.

Why would Onenu lie about this? Well, we’re going to find out!

 

 

Episode 26 – The Infernal menace!

So we’d killed Dwarves and Goliaths, supposedly the enemies of the Stone Breaker Tribe, and destroyers of the River Hunter Tribe.

Onenu had told us they rained destruction on her tribe, but this Journal, written in chicken scratch over a long period of time documented the Dwarves escape from a fiery beast. How it’d destroyed the River Hunter tribe. How they were determined to stop it and had enlisted the help the Rock Tanner tribe. Something unheard of, but that by itself demonstrated the lengths they would go to get help in destroying this threat.
On one hand, shifty betrothed of Brak Githson, who instantly gave us the Heeby Jeebies.

On the other hand, Dwarves begging for aid from the Goliaths to stop a volcano beast. The Volcano that we have seen and know of.

This required some talking.

In hushed whispers, I spoke with Maeb, Drax and Izkin about this. I’d have spoken with Tia and Arn, but Arn was scouting for more Dwarves, and Tia’Vari seemed to be buried in a book she’d brought with her.

Drax was of a similar mind to me, in that the whole thing smelt fishier than a Dragonborn fisherman after a hard day at sea. Maeb was concerned about the morals of what we’d just done, and was concerned about what would happen to the village if the hunting party returned. They were, after all, incredibly blood thirsty. This raised a valid point. If we mentioned Onenu (who by now, we’d given up trying to pronounce, and were deliberately butchering her name in the worst possible way) to her Betrothed, and stated our concerns, he’d do one of two things.

  1. – Murderous rage. Big fight between us and him for us daring to cast aspersions on his pretty princesses intentions.
  2.  – O.M.G. It was her all along! Off he rushes back to camp to murderously slay her. She, being a possible agent of Corsinar (and to be honest, with a name like Firehart probably breathes… Fire?…) destroys him, his family, his friends, and the dog he once stopped to pet.

I’ll be honest, neither of these options were sounding impressive, so instead I suggested option 67.

Tell him nothing. Instead, we go off, deal with Volcanosaurus Rex, grab all the loot, stroke all the puppies, look amazing, and be back for supper.

His first question, on Drax suggesting this (because Goliaths take news better from Golliaths. Apparently they don’t trust Tiefling bards) was “Are you looking to take all the loot for yourself!
Honestly, I’m hurt. Where’s the trust?

But, he accepted it, and once more we got ready to set out. Before we did though, I wanted to try a new spell I’d been practising. I’d watched Maeb summon forth her steed a number of times. Now through a bit of “Whoops we’re on a floating tower”-ness we’d managed to leave our own horses behind. Being able to summon Bunny at will would be awesome, so I watched Maeb each time she carried out her spell, and I think I’d got this one sorted.

I made a few minor adjustments because Maebs horse looked far too angelic for me, and I cast the spell.

This spell takes a little longer than my normal ones, so bear with me.

Ten minutes later, a silver Horse stood impatiently stamping its hoof in front of me. Its mane glittered as it shook its head, and it fixed me with one of its eyes, and said “Oh no. I was promised a mighty champion. This won’t do.”

Ok. Firstly… This horse can talk. That’s just blooming weird
Secondly, why in the nine hells has this horse got wings?
Thirdly, this horse is just rude! I’m not sure it should be sassing me!

I was tired though, so I glared back, leapt into the saddle, and pointed it in the direction we wanted to go.

A short distance off, Izkin was practising his flying. He’d managed to get airborne, and that was quite an achievement. He still resembled a drunk seagull, but he was getting there!

We travelled for another five or six hours. I took this time to re-read the Dwarf’s Journal. It hinted at a south entrance to the mine, and as we knew roughly where the volcano was (spoiler, there was a big plume of smoke, and the sky glowed) it wasn’t a major issue leading the way.

By evening we had reached the foot of the volcano. The air had a sulphurous tang to it, and when the wind switched direction, it made breathing a little harder.

We decided it was probably best that we camp down for the night before heading in to the cave, and I dismissed the winged horse. I’d be sending a stern letter to his manager.

I spent another 10 minutes casting my spell once more. This time, I requested a mount a little more in with my way of life. I didn’t get a horse this time. Instead I stood face to face with a beast with the head of an eagle. I took a moment to meet its gaze before taking in the rest of it. Bunny Two had the body tail, and rear legs of a lion, and its front legs held viscous looking talons. The similarities between Bunny Two and my old pony Bunny were amazing.
Bunny two nodded to me, I nodded back, and we settled down to keep watch.
Obviously, scared off by Bunny two, all of Corsinar’s forces didn’t attack us in the night.

The next morning, we headed for the cave network. Bunny Two left to hunt, and I said we’d catch up when we came back out. Bunny never used to hunt, so that’s a bit of an upgrade.

I’ve spoken at length before about the joy of caves. How its lovely that every single foot of rock looks like every other foot of rock, and how that is somehow fascinating. No, not fascinating, what’s that other word? Oh, yes. Dull.

Caves are dull.

We spent several hours heading deeper into the mountain. Every so often, there was signs of small structures built into the rock. Guard points maybe? Resting posts? Who knows. We examined the first few, but after a while, it became an exercise in “oh look, bricks.” So we stopped checking, and pushed on.

It was getting close to tea time, or so my gurgling stomach claimed, when we started to hear voices up ahead.
It was a language I’d not heard in a while, and a strange dialect, but it was definitely infernal in nature. Several somethings were fighting over food, and they’d not heard our approach.

Maeb and Izkin crept closer, whilst Drax took a stand ready to engage. I’m not sure what came over me. Perhaps it was hearing my native language, perhaps it was sorrow at not having spoken to the dwarves much before we attacked, but I felt the urge to should out to them.
“Full Buffet here! Everyone gets to eat”
Yeah, I’m not sure why I shouted that either.

Maeb, by now, had worked out that our enemy were fiendish in nature. I was angling for Friendish, but…
They fluttered towards him (they could also fly… Imps! How cool!)
Then, the fight was on.
The cavern contained a central fire pit, which the imps had been cooking dinner on. Around the pit, roughly ten imps all turned to face Maeb.

Maeb raised her shield, roared, and…
Well, most of them screamed and ran away.
Yeah, that happened.

With three Imps left in the room, it was a lot easier. A few spells from Izkin and myself. A few hits with Maeb and Drax’s maces, and the room became a lot quieter. I sampled the meat they were cooking before Maeb pointed out that part of it had a beard. Let’s not bring that up again eh?

Emblazoned into the walls were two signs in dwarven. To the West (I’m assuming west, the tunnels curved a lot) was the armoury, to the north was the forge. In the Dwarf journal it suggests using black powder from the Armoury to blow a hole in the forge. A good plan is a good plan, especially when it involves making large explosions. To the armoury it is.

En-route to the armoury we discovered the remains of a rather maggoty corpse. This dwarf seems to have met a messy end, but he had a rather awesome shield and cloak, and we’re not one to pass on things like that. (He also had a half-skin of ale, I nabbed that too, just in case we get desperate).

As I rolled him over to nab the cloak, six of the imps that had fled tried to ambush us. I say tried. Drax has this aura that surrounds him sometimes. He calls it guardian spirits. It’s a little weird, and a little religious. He doesn’t tell me how to sing, I don’t tell him how to pray, it works out. Anyhoo, these ambushing imps got sucker-punched by Drax’s guardians, and once again the fight was on. This time they didn’t run though, which in hindsight was a bit stupid, because Izkin picked this moment to unload as many spells on them as possible. Ice storms, ice bolts, Iced lattes. He brought it all.

Unfortunately for the imps, they bought it too. Between Izkin, Drax and Maeb, most of the imps fell. I waved my pom poms from the side-lines, and in moments the fight was over.
Perhaps these guys really WERE the right replacements for the heroes of old!

We pushed on though, after claiming our loot, and after an hour or so, found a good spot to camp for the night. I set up watch with a couple of Phillips stationed a little down the tunnel. Nothing happened for my watch, so I passed over to Izkin for his.

Poor little Kobold. First time on watch, and he has to deal with a swarm of Goblins.

For the record, a swarm is the correct terminology here… We’re not talking one or two. There were so many goblins, it became difficult to see where one ended and the next began. They poured down the tunnel searching for intruders, and with Maeb being the world champion at losing hide and seek, they spotted her straight away.

She reached up, grabbed a glowing gem from her helm, and with perfect aim, pitched it down the tunnel on an intercept course.
It made contact with one unfortunate goblin, and blossomed into a forty-foot fireball. A large number of goblins were instantly incinerated, but where one fell, another two took its place. The swarm charged on.
I tried to come up with a quick plan, and summoned a water elemental in the doorway. In my head I saw it sending waves down the tunnel washing away the goblins, but in reality it was swiftly over-run, and spent most of its time lashing out left and right at passing Gobbos.

Izkin stepped up to the fray again, pouring spell after spell at the swarm. As fast as goblins fell, more swarmed in from the two doorways. Drax tried to stop the swarm with his freezing magic, but the goblins pushed past it. Eventually though, they ran out of extra bodies. The elemental remained, so I dismissed it.

We were exhausted, but we weren’t even half way through the night. Let’s hope the goblin corpses don’t smell too bad in the morning!

 

 

Episode 27 – Feeling Krabby

Waking up the next morning, it suddenly struck me that we hadn’t checked to see if the goblin hordes had anything note-worthy on them. A quick search or the stinky bodies showed that for the most part all they had were scraps of armour and broken weapons. The biggest Goblin had a sizable diamond on him though, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time checking.

We travelled on for a while, until we could smell stagnant water. Stepping forward carefully, Izkin started to report on what he could see. It seems that Kobolds have a far better vision range underground, which kinda makes sense I guess for a race that lives in caves most of their life.

He saw a small lake, with a stone bridge crossing it. A number of crates and barrels floated in the water. He advised us that it looked like out path joined with the bridge further down the corridor, and that there was no need to enter the water. (I’m glad we didn’t… You’ll learn why shortly!)

Following the passageway round, we found another dead dwarf. Knowing that this was a great spot for an ambush after our last ambush (who says we don’t learn) I cast a spell, allowing me to see invisible creatures. Finding nothing hiding and waiting to ambush us, we checked through the body and pushed on. A few steps more, another body, this one chewed, and spots of a strange liquid surround it on the floor.

This is the point where normally you’d have the narrator flash back to his/her youth, where a parent figure says “Don’t touch strange substances!” but in my youth I was the one tasked with cleaning the strange substances off the floor. So I didn’t touch them, because Eiuw.

Instead I scouted ahead a little, hoping to use the benefit of my magically enhanced sight to spot whatever was lying in wait.

Turns out our potential ambushers weren’t magically hidden, they were underwater.

I stepped out over the bridge, marvelling at the scale of the cavern I’d stepped into. The small lake didn’t seem to have a run off, so the water was pretty stagnant and non-moving. As I reached the middle, there was an almighty explosion of water, and from underneath the bridge two massive trolls exploded.

I glanced behind for a moment, at my friends who’d not even started out onto the bridge yet. Well, this was a mistake. It was a mistake with claws and teeth, and within an instance the troll to my left (who I shall refer to as Lefty) slammed me left and right, and sunk his teeth into my arm.

I’d like to say “I’m no creatures chew toy!” but at this point, I very much was. Screaming in pain, I responded with a burst of fire, that sent the troll reeling backwards. Unfortunately for me, this also caused him to bleed a poisonous liquid, one awfully similar to the undefined goop we found near the dead dwarf.

This Troll, in one instant, had hurt me so badly that another blow could possible end my tales forever! You’re reading this though, so don’t worry! Maeb rushed in to help me, removing the poison from my system, and surrounding me with a protective aura. I was still badly hurt, but I might just pull through!

Arn stepped up, and pulled out his heavy crossbow. I was halfway through yelling “If you hit them, the bleed on us, and it hurts!” when he released two bolts at lefty. Both bolts caught him high in the chest, and the responding gouts of poison splattered across both Maeb and myself.

Ow again.

Drax cursed quietly, and changed his plans. He muttered the words we’ve heard him use before, though this time he pumped more power into it. Both Trolls froze, held in place by his outstretched hand. Not being one to waste an opportunity, I grabbed Maeb and teleported to the other side of the party.

I think you know how the fight goes from here on out. Izkin pours on magical booms. Arn fires bolt after bolt. Drax does some damaging spells, Maeb throws a firewall gem. (yeah, firewall, not fireball this time) and I drop back to using minor spells, after seeing these trolls pretty much explode from everyone elses attacks.

I’ve never met poisonous trolls before. I guess that’s one to cross off the bucket list.

Both trolls slumped back into the water, and for once we passed on searching the bodies.

Instead, we headed over to investigate the large domed building on the other end of the bridge. Drax (with a little help from a summoned Phillip) fished some of the crates from the lake. It seemed like a stack of weaponry and armour. Whilst he was doing this, Izkin stepped inside the building.

There was an almighty zapping sound, and the little kobold was thrown backwards, his skin crackling with lightning.

Yay, magic traps. We live for magic traps.

We tried a series of things to bypass this trap, all ending in us taking a large amount of damage. In the end, Izkin remembered he could dispel magic traps, and we stepped through the doorway. We took a brief rest to get our breath back, then headed in to the armoury.

I’m not sure what I expected from an armoury if I’m honest. Boxes pack with magical weapons wasn’t really it. Every grabbed armfuls, and lined up for me to identify them. I think I worked non-stop for several hours before deciding that enough was enough. Not before nabbing a nice suit of studded leather for myself though.

The one item that confused us though, was a large metal barrel. We spent a good hour trying to work out how to open it, before I used my identify spell on it.

This, this wasn’t a barrel. This was a vehicle! (maybe it was bigger on the inside?)

Knowing what it was now, we continued to hunt for a level that would open it. This took a good fifteen minutes and when we found it, it was a button that pushed became a lever.

That’s not important though, what’s important is what happened when I pulled the lever.

There was a grinding and whirring sound. Metal sliding on metal, and the barrel tilted sideways. Metal legs sprouted from the sides, eye stalks popped up and lit up. From the front, two massive claws emerged, and in the side of the barrel, a door opened.

When I described this as a barrel, I perhaps gave the impression that it was a standard keg sized barrel. That is, perhaps, an oversight on my part. This barrel was really quite large. Looking inside the door, I realised that we could probably fit two of us inside. (One, if it were Arn or Drax). Izkin and I jumped inside to try it out, before Izkin hopped back out.

It was then that we realised the purpose of the nine barrels in the corner. Nine barrels of black powder. This was what we’d come for, and now all we needed to do was work out how to transport them to the forge safely.

Luckily, each goliath could carry two at a push. That’s 4 down. We strapped two to Mr Krabbs, and I’d drive him. Maeb could carry one, but that still left two. With a little discussion, we decided to summon our mounts, and have them carry the last two barrels. The caves down here weren’t as restrictive as the earlier network was, so it should be fine.

We made slow progress carrying the barrels towards the forge. They were bloody heavy, and required lots of stopping (obviously not for me, as Mr Krabbs did all the work, but I’m a team player, so we planned breaks when needed.

As it neared evening, or at least what we considered to be evening, we decided to rest for the night. We found a suitable series of linked rooms, and set up for the night. On Izkin’s watch(again), the sound of screaming caused him to wake us. Drax had set a guardian to protect us, and it had encountered a threat.

The threat, it turned out, was a naked dwarf.

Not what I’d expected if I’m honest, but I set about trying to calm him down, and explain why we were there. It took a while, but eventually we were able to get back to sleep with a new friend in tow.

Tomorrow we go to blow up the forge. I’m not sure how this is going to go, but I foresee shenanigans.

 

 

Episode 28 – Forging ahead.

 

So before I fell asleep that night, I gave the pipes a quick check to see what they could do. Turns out they summon and control swarms of rats, so I dropped them in my bag for later. We finished our nights rest, and woke semi-refreshed in the morning.

The new addition to the party was called Rogart, and he was still naked the next morning. I’m not sure what I expected to be honest with you. I took my old set of armour out, and grabbed a cloak from my bag. We also grabbed a spare mace for him. He seemed a little critical of the gear we gave him, but to be honest he was JUST NAKED! Seriously, some folk have no manners!

We decided that what we needed now, was a plan. Here was the plan… Stick with it, its complicated.

We head back to the junction. Find a small cave. Hide the powder. Find the bad guys, and kill them.

It’s a wonder no one crowned me chief tactician before.

We were doing well on our plan, in that we made it to the junction. Arn headed off to explore a little, hoping to find a suitable location to stash the powder.

Within moments he came running back shouting! Either he had found the most amazing hiding spot ever! Or something was trying to kill him.

I stashed Mr Krabbs and Bunny, and broke out the ice spells. Just in case it wasn’t the former.

It wasn’t the former.

Two large Cats came bounding into view. Both had wonderful red manes. On second glance, both had wonderful fiery red manes. Fiery on fire red manes. Basically their manes were fire.

Fiery Fire.

So I shot one in the face with an ice bolt.

Izkin had the same idea, only he went bigger, and frosted the entire area (Maeb included) in a cone of frost. Then he shot one with an ice bolt.

Keep it together Tak, its not a competition.

Arn, having hidden himself behind a rock jumped out and stabbed one. Drax summoned several spirit guardians, who also laid into the Kitties. Maeb swung and sliced at them. In return, the two kitties mauled at us. Maeb and Arn spouted flames from the attacks, and Izkin rushed over to put Arn out, (he also threw an ice bolt whilst he did this. It was just showing off at this point)

The combat swung back and forth, the first cat falling, and the second one leaping onto Izkin. Maeb stepped in behind it finishing it off, and those that were on fire… stopped themselves being on fire.

They were a lot calmer about it that I would have been. I’d have been running round flailing my arms yelling “Ow Ow, Hot Hot”. But no, apparently only I do that.

They sat for a short while, taking a breather following the fight. This was a good time to examine how we’d done. Arn’s armour seemed to be hindering him more than helping, so I gave him the new studded leather I’d found. It was enchanted to help turn blades and was certainly quieter than his old scale-mail. The scale mail went to the no-longer-naked-dwarf Rogart, and I took back my old armour.

The Necklace of Adaptation we’d found previously went to Maeb.

Arn had also found some powder pots, which Maeb also took. A short while later she’d ditch them rather than accidentally blowing people up. It was a wise move. If only I’d thought about that earlier before we hit the lightning trap.

We returned for the powder and pushed on. Arn scouted ahead again, and after an hour or so’s travel, found a large set of stone doors. We searched around for an alcove to stash Mr Krabbs and the barrels. Once safely secured we addressed the problem of how to sneak through giant stone doors.

Out came the parchment and charcoal again.

With the aid of my companions we opened the doors in as authoritive a manner as possible.

“Hello, I’m here to carry out a spot forge inspection, I do hope you’re up to code?”

The room was silent.

Several Fire Elementals, Earth Elementals, Air Elementals, and Ononononononou Firehart turned to face me. None of them looked convinced.

Oh well, it was worth a try.

Ononononnononowoo started a traditional villain monologue. I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you exactly what she said. It was something about Corsinar wanting us dead, and killing Dovin, and something about sandwiches.

That last part may not have happened, I’m just hungry and it plays tricks on my memory.

Whilst I was trying to think of a witty way to tell her to shut up, Izkin dropped a snowstorm on her. It caused the lava… Oh hang on, I’ve not told you about the lava.

Or the room.

I get bad at story telling when I’m hungry.

This room was huge. It was the dwarven forge, and dotted around the room were a number of anvils. If you were expecting built up kilns or similar, you’re going to be surprised. This room contained rivers of Lava, conveniently placed for the dwarves to smelt stuff in.

Narrow rivers of lava crisscrossed the room, and at each forge a series of elementals worked the bellows and hammered at metal.

Well… They were doing that, then we strolled in asking to inspect the place. Blah blah blah snowstorm.

So, the snow and hail hit the lava, bursting up with steam and smoke. It also hit a number of elementals and Onnooneonetwo.

She replied by throwing a fireball at us, which… hurt a lot less than I expected. It was a massive explosion, but Maeb seemed to shield us from most of it.

A small expulsion from the lava in front of her formed into a massive cloud of gas, which started creeping towards us. Drax summoned another guardian, and set him between the majority of elementals and us.

This would be great, if two of them didn’t completely ignore the lava flows, and stroll across to start punching me in the face.

Onunuooh readied to cast another fireball, but Arn quickly shut her down with a spell that removed all the sound from around her. She looked angry for a moment then levelled her staff at us instead.

She poured energy into the staff, getting ready to release another fireball at us.

Not this time lady! I wiggled my fingers, sucking the magic from the air, and her staff fizzled.
“Suck on Counterspell!” I yelled. It struck me moments later she probably couldn’t hear me, so instead I made a rude gesture in her direction. That’ll show her.

Then, I realised that the two elementals were standing less than five feet from me, and their last blows had really hurt! So I teleported to the other side of the forge.

Maeb uttered a few words, and sprouted wings. She flapped once, twice, and when within 30 feet of Ohnomytoe she teleported next to her.

Arn, seeing the number of approaching elementals, dropped the silence spell, instead trying to frighten them away. These elementals were obviously made of sterner stuff, and didn’t frighten easily.

Things were getting tense. With ten elementals attacking us, Onenu Firehart throwing spells, everyone stuck in a small area. Things were not looking good.

But I’m hungry, so I’m going to make that sandwich. I’ll tell you what happened after I’ve eaten it.

 

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