Sea of Madness

From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer
Page Fourteen

I’m writing this down as fast as I can, because for all I know another horde of zombie bugbears will come crashing out of the brush and attack us. We’ve found the childhood home of Kun-We, and his homecoming has been far from idyllic. As we journeyed along the coast Kun-We recognized our surroundings and bolted towards the village to the south. We encountered a couple of groups of undead humans and bugbears along the way. When we made it to the village we found it in ruin, and still occupied by the formerly alive bugbears who once called it home. They were like swarming insects. We eventually managed to fight them off thankfully. Now we’re continuing our original plan of heading along the coast and following it to where we can cut straight east to the “X” on the map. Kun-We is pretty quiet. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see one’s former family and friends in that state, and then have to fight them to the death. Let’s hope we can get off this damned island sooner rather than later.

So much for avoiding complications.

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Book of Nod
Page Thirteen

All I can seem to think on is misery as of late, this collar keeping me in this state. This collar will take some adjusting to; some considerable adjusting to. I think part of the magics in this collar keep my moods more consistent, at least, that’s what I hope it is. If it keeps me in this state of misery that certainly wouldn’t bode well for me. I can’t enjoy the breeze, the wood beneath my feet provides no satisfying texture, the sea holds no beauty. I simply sit here and sulk.

It is so very unlike me.

Suldren seems to be under the impression that he knows everything and that vexes me. I had invited him to talk over a game of chess so I could fully explain myself, not being exactly fully allowed with the debacle that had happened. Well, in wonderful tradition Suldren seemed to miss the point yet again, this time departing like a child in a full tantrum. I had warned him to leave his anger at the door, so I can’t help but wonder what did he expect? Does he expect me to coo in his ear? Pat his back when he spits up and then dab his lip? I wished to fully explain myself and the ways of the fey so that he could be more informed. He is certainly an inspiring leader and means well when his temper isn’t flaired, but he still has much to learn.

So it concerns me that as of late he has become more… bloodthirsty? I saw the look in his eye when he had confronted me. He was weighing the pros and cons of my blood on his hands. He had given a goblin more quarter when we were supposed to kill him and now he isn’t even concerned when Kun-We slaughters innocent merchants only trying to protect themselves and their goods. I had told him his near death experience was a mistake, something I did not foresee, I had apologized for my indiscretion, said that I had wished to amend any wrongs I had done at any cost and still he seethes just under the surface at my very presence.

All the things that were said about trust and the oathcircle had proven to be my nemesis. I had told Suldren (in not so many words) that my acts did not speak volumes about my intent. They were like Man’s words, mutable like water. I cannot believe what most of this plane say they will do, they change their minds when it suits them. In the Fey Wild, words ARE action. Just like when they decided it did not suit them to return the compass, it did not suit them to grant me mercy after they had sworn an oath to protect a Dagger.

That is not entirely true, I retract that. I was granted mercy, it was just the murder that I could still see in his eyes. Suldren cannot understand my addiction to irony and doesn’t want to, perhaps he never will. My addiction consumes me like his rage consumes him so I cannot fault him his weakness.

Actually, I should say consumed. This collar prevents any love that I have…

Additionally, Kun-We had disappointed me somewhat. I had asked him why he should allow me to remove my collar and why he had any interest in it. As far as I could read Kun-We ignores everything that he doesn’t understand or enjoy, so his interest could have been only one of 2 things.

As he stated, it certainly wasn’t compassion for me.

Therefore, I imagine at some point he must have been a slave. It’s the only thing I can think of that fits. It reminds him of a time that he loathed.

I am still miserable again. I think I shall have to apologize to Talmud for my demeanor as of late. I’ll ask him if he’d like to play some chess sometime, it’ll help me get my mind off of things for a spell. He has been a good friend to me and I need to repay him more somehow.

Parlor tricks… parlor tricks…Foolish Suldren.

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From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer
Page Twelve

We had a well-earned rest as the crew of the Cortadormar waited for its chance at a nighttime raid on Lurd. Afterwards, Suldren and I confronted Nod. He confessed to impersonating Suldren through a seagull and alerting the governor to our plan. He told us that this was because he cannot tell a lie and so he could not deceive the governor. Somehow his behavioral restrictions allow him to deceive the group as a whole, and impersonate someone else, which apparently does not count as a lie to him? I grew frustrated at the situation and decided to inform Kun-We and Vuden why they almost died earlier in the day. They took the news about as well as I thought they would.

When the three of us returned to Nod’s room, Sam was talking to Suldren, and was soon joined by the captain. We went into Nod’s room and did not see him. As we discussed the situation Nod revealed himself to be there, invisible. After a lengthy… LENGTHY… discussion, it was decided that Nod would have to stay. This was because he would die if we expelled him since he had secretly sworn an oath with Talmud to watch over and protect our group. Apparently jeopardizing our lives in a needless fight with the town guard does not mean one is failing to protect the group.

At the captain’s order, Sam forged a Fey Collar and bound it around Nod’s neck. The magic of the charm keeps a fey from acting upon his or her chaotic nature. My problem with the whole thing is that Nod is trying to convince us this is just how fey are, that this is their nature. I fear he’s giving their kind a bad name. Not being able to lie is one thing. If that is something he is incapable of doing that is fine if it is who he is. If the problem was really only that he is a chaotic and completely honest fey, then I would be much more accepting of his actions. But being a fey that cannot lie does not give one the excuse to be a complete idiot. I’ve read a lot about their kind and even know a fey personally, so I, unlike the other Daggers, know how bizarre this is. If honesty was what was compelling him why wasn’t he honest with us? He is a wizard; they are supposed to be educated. An educated person knows perfectly well that a bugbear that runs around with two huge axes and says they will “meet betrayal with death” is going to kill you if you betray the group! Fey are chaotic and quirky, they are not suicidal and ignorant. They often lack social graces and are aloof, but they know what the definition of betrayal is. How could he not expect us to view this as betrayal?

Nod is a puzzle to me. He thinks he is a fey but he is not. He is not fully there yet, more like a slowly developing child. I fear he may have focused on all the wrong parts of the life lessons fey learn when they come of age. Perhaps he was just dropped on his head as an infant, I don’t know. It’s obvious why his kind cast him out though. It’s like being on a crew with a sailor who lights the boat on fire and then tries to tell you that’s what sailors do.

Anyway, we raided Lurd under cover fire from the Cortadormar’s cannons. We made it through the screaming crowds and frantic guards to the governor’s mansion. There we literally made off like bandits. Such wealth and treasures! It was like something from one of my books! And just like one of my books, there was a climactic fight at the end. The governor and another large group of his guards burst in right before we left. Aside from the governor no man was left standing. Technically the governor wasn’t left standing, as he left running before the fight was over. Anyway, we succeeded in our raid and made it back to the ship. On the ship we divvied up the loot we wanted to keep. I got a salve that restores to me a spell I’ve already cast, as well as a skeleton key. It was a very rewarding night.

Captain Lee asked us if we knew of any safe ports we could dock in. We thought it was as good a time as any that the Heroes of Winterhaven make their return. Lord Winthrop welcomed us in town and we had time to sell off our loot. It wasn’t long though before word reached Lord Winthrop that the King’s cousin had his mansion raided. Soldiers were no doubt on their way and would be in town soon. We left and Lord Winthrop promised he wouldn’t tell the King’s soldiers we were there.

We find ourselves back on the sea, waiting for things to die down a bit back on land. Who knows what we’ll find out here. With our luck Nod will shout out a curse at Melora and bring down her wrath upon us all, but not before claiming he didn’t see it as harming the group.

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Book of Nod, Page Eleven

I am at ease now.

Surprisingly, no one had interest in becoming oathcircle brethren, save one. It appears that the only attempt Suldren made to ally everyone was to appease me. That was not what I wanted. What I had required was a bond to them all. It was more for their safety than anything else. I could feel my very nature pull at me, and there is only one remedy I know of for that. To fight it with my own nature.

Oaths are the other side of the coin with the fae. They allow us to fulfill our needs without resorting to capricious ways. I find a healthy dose of both is always the best remedy, however, I feel right now things will need to be a bit more chaotic before they get stable.

It appears that Maddox had better contacts than I had imagined. Being a Governor allows one to do that sort of thing. I couldn’t help but notice in the conversation he was having with Suldren he seemed… sinister? Calling the guard was something that I could not have foreseen. Regardless, it seems things are in motion and will hopefully come to a level conclusion.

Currently, I am tied to the dwarf Talmud. I had noticed amidst the group squabbling he was the only one who hadn’t quite said anything. I seized what advantage I could from that and we each swore an oath to each other. He is now a brother to me, and I would sooner see myself killed than see him harmed in any way. I was surprised at his imagination during my demonstration. Suldren balked at it and said it didn’t matter. Obviously, he had no interest in what I had to say. Talmud displayed both wisdom and a sense of brotherhood in his answer. I was actually sad to disappoint him.

And, while young Wolfslayer had remained aloof from the original conflict, he certainly had his fair share to say against me. I must say I have never felt quite so alienated. Apparently, my “alien” thought processes are too much for this world. I find the word insulting, an unnecessary jibe at cultural differences. He may as well called me a demon for what it was worth. For a creature whose basis of power is pacts with the fae, I cannot understand him this time. Perhaps it is he who is playing a joke on me…

hm…

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From the Belly of the dragon

I haven’t written in here but I really need to vent. It all deals with Nod wanting for us to do some stupid oath to make sure we aren’t lying to each other. There are ways to handle that type of suggestion, and in my opinion he could of gone by it an entirely different way. You don’t tell everyone, “How do you know I haven’t been lying to you this whole time?” And he continued to show ways we should mistrust him. Then for some reason I’m supposed to trust him and do this oath? Really? I really should start in the beginning.

I should of known to keep an eye on him since he mentioned he wasn’t part of the party. So why were you with us this whole time? The majority of us are trying to become pirates, why join if you don’t have a similar goal?! You most likely have another agenda going for you. If it’s not becoming a pirate, what the hell is it? Hell we risk our lives for each other. I can’t count the amount of times I was close to death. Hell, I died! That’s a horrible thing to think about. But to think I’m standing the frontline for a douche who doesn’t consider himself with us. That’s insulting.

Another thing, you “save” our lives and say that we “owe” you? Who the hell are you? We are shipmates, pirate brethren, party members, you get the gist. We do that shit for each other. Kun-We and myself stand the frontline so your pussy ass doesn’t get hit and I “owe” you?

Then all of a sudden you remind us you aren’t part of us. You ask us why we even trusted you. You ask us “How do you know I haven’t been lying the whole time?’ And you do a lovely parlor trick with the coin and basically say looks are deceiving and giving us more reason not to trust you. Then you want us to do this “Eladrin ritual” to basically let anyone know who is lying? Really? Oh and all this “I don’t lie, I speak mistruths.” THAT’S THE SAME THING!!! “Mis” means not. NOT truths. Those are lies!!!! You and your pretty word play. One thing I was taught is to beware the ones with the pretty wordplay. They never tell the truth. The always deceive. Why else would they skirt around? Be upfront, so everyone knows where you stand. Even, if the ritual actually does let everyone know who is lying. How do I know your pretty word play won’t work around the ritual. Leave out a few things or even not say a thing. The greatest lie, is a lie untold. So how is this fool proof? How would I know you aren’t gonna screw around with your “mistruths.”

With all this “I‘m not part of the group“, “You owe me”, Don’t trust me, but really trust me,“ I “only speak mistruths“… I’m just insulted. That’s the biggest reason why I won’t do the ritual. I am insulted. We know each other for a relatively small time, but we would die for each other. (And we have). And you pull this bull shit. I’m incredibly insulted. I don’t think I can forget this.

Now, if you were a normal person and said that you’ve had problems with trust in the past. Your trust has been broken by people you truly care for, then that’s something different. Then I wouldn’t mind and would of done the ritual. But you didn’t say that! Suldren had to make up that excuse for you.

Now this leads me to Suldren. My dragonborn brethren. I could chalk up our argument to being stubborn dragonborn. But some things he said can not be forgotten. He said if I was a true dragon born, I wouldn’t have this problem. Insult my loyalty and say that I’m prejudiced to Eladrin. You and I both know Suldren, we should of fought then and there, but I kept my calm or kept the small amount of it I had not to stab you. Before our argument, I thought you were a great wise dragonborn. I thought it was an honor to fight along side of you. You were a great leader, but the shine is off. You can try to get it back, but those words you said won’t be forgotten. I will say it was said in the heat of the moment and I pray to ALL the gods, you don’t slip up again. If I don’t want to do something, you should take my word for it, and not question my loyalty or say that I’m being a baby about it.

I know you were trying to be a leader but do you have jump each time Nod says something. Whatever quirky thing he wants done, you’ll do it. You don’t really question it, you just do it. Nod has to learn how to interact with people because he won’t survive in the world. It’s ok for him not to get his way. He’s a big boy and he should deal with it. If he pulled the shit he’s done with any other group, he’d be one dead Eladrin in the belly of sea. You can’t please all the people, all the time. In our group, I believe Nod is the only one making requests. What’s next? Everyone give a part of his soul so we can be a better “team?”.

I was very happy the Kun-We joined my side. I was afraid I was going at this alone. I don’t know why he joined, but I’m glad. I believe he’s just a simple guy and just wants to be with the sea. He probably doesn’t want to be entwined in this fairy magic. The more I think about it, I think he just had my back, just for the sake of it. We are the frontline, we fight shoulder to shoulder, figuratively speaking of course, and he saw I needed help. No matter if I was fighting a losing battle he joined in anyway. Pirate brethren. Got to thank him for that.

I feel a lot better now with that off my chest. Hope you move past this crap and go back to what I’m truly here for. To travel the seas and become the best pirate I can be.

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Talmud's Journal

Sitting on a ship that is sitting on the waves, I study the suit of armor that my friends picked up while I was away. I let my mind wander as I inspect the tiny, overlapping plates. Seldomn have I really questioned my path in life; I’ve always been certain that a life in service to Moradin was the life for me. However, since dying, I’ve come to question that calling, and further, to question my purpose.

I died trying to protect my friends, and trying to ensure the safety of Linny Frougue. In the darkness of death, I was not greeted with any reward. Instead, I was given endless turmoil towards unknown ends. When I awoke from what could have been an eternal slumber, I found myself possessed of a need to follow my newly aquired friends. This urge eminated from me, or so I hoped, but on reflection, I decided to suggest to Vuden that we each keep an eye on the other, just in case.

Kun We lumbers by me, hauling two gargantuan coils of rope. He died as well, but apparently not as much as me. He seems unaffected by the experience, still willing to throw himself recklessly into battle. He lives to fight, and slaughter seems to be one of his only joys. Yet, he has a fair amount of knowledge of religion, and seems as though he aspires to serve his god just as I aspire to serve mine.

But what service can I do? When I kill, it is not in his name, but it is in the name of preserving the friends who I owe so much to. Perhaps that expression of passionate loyalty is my service? Keeping them alive to fight the good fight seems to be the best I can do. However, I feel myself losing focus on what I’ve considered important in the past. The desire to do good has been supplimented by a willingness to bend my moral code as needed. I had once been of rigid iron morals, but now, I find that they bend like gold.

Is it weakness? Complacency? Or is it that I have just stopped caring about the ways of my old world? Here, on the ocean, I can feel myself becoming free. I am freed of nearly everything that had driven me to the way of the cleric: my family is far behind me, and so are my people. The longing to be near my god has faded, and has been replaced by a faith based more in my Mordenkrad and friends than in my god. They were there for me when I needed them, but Moradin had forsaken me.

Perhaps it is a test of my mettle? Yet, it is a test that I am unsure I want to pass. Moradin’s divine powers allow me to heal, but they do not discriminate who they heal…

Nod sits on the ship’s prow in meditation. He was escaping through a portal when I died. I have since had words with him, reminding him to watch my back as vigilantly as I watch his. Thus far, he has made good on that promise, going as far as helping Suldren and me out of the water when we fell in during a battle. I trust him much more than Cassius. It may be that I have not spoken to the warlock, but I’ve developed a growing distrust for him. I am certain that he is out for himself, at least more so than most.

Suldren has proven to be a fit leader, holding us together like a vice. He is ever a joy to battle beside. His attempts to console me when I’ve failed are appreciated, though unnecessary. I am what I am, and I cannot change it. Sliding into my armor, the captain watches me curiously. I ascend the ropes to the crow’s nest; the weight of my armor feels good. My muscles tense and release as I ascend. The captain shakes his head.

“You know, that’ll do ya no good if ya fall.” he shouts with a smile. I simply start my watch, looking over the endless ocean.

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Book of Nod, Page Eight

Kalarel is truly a delightful fellow. His arrogance knows no bounds and I of course find that humorous in a coward! He was not a man to be slaughtered once, but twice, as luck would have it! Granted, it wasn’t entirely easy as this time he seemed unaffected by our assault on him. That is, until young Wolfslayer and myself had begun loosening him from the anchor that tethered him to the world. Once we had made short work of that, he was not so difficult to subdue, almost anti-climactic really.

Though, may it be told, that was not the most excitement that the excursion had held for me it was the “resurrection” of Ninaren. THAT is delicious irony! Once we had defeated the guardian of the area, Ninaren’s corpse along with the bodies of our fallen allies emerged from the next room as completely devoted servants!

Ha ha! How wonderful! Her dark deity had presented her to us as a present, packaged with bow! All her talk of power, her unnatural thirst for it and the god that would give it to her had left her as helpless as a babe, devoid of will, and obedient to my every whim! Ho ho! My Eladrin brethren would applaud this punishment, though I’m sure the officials of my lands might have thought of something similar.

Bittersweet fate though, as we emerged from the portal, the assembled undead were rendered inert. Fie, fie, fie, I suppose if it’s to be done properly I must do it myself. I’ll have to find a ritual to animate Ninaren again, I shall be requiring a lab assistant. Hmm… I might needs a ritual to stop the rotting as well, as that will get tiresome quickly. Yes, I think I may just have to thank Orcus for the idea, too ideal a punishment to pass on.

Additionally, we accomplished our goal of rescuing the fallen ones. I think that we shall have to have funerals soon, tradition and all that. Coincidentally, I’ve definitely had a cautious eye on Kun We. His sudden recovery is both startling and highly improbable. Upon initial inspection, he seemed himself, but I’m still not entirely convinced he’s not a vessel for something more sinister. Perhaps he’s only an eye and still himself, I shall continue to be suspicious of him till it suits me no more. I wonder if he made some sort of dark deal…

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From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer
Page 7

There was a moment of tension that seemed to stretch for far too long after I heard the cry from the pit in the middle of the area we were in. I had a sense that I should get out of the room I was in and I immediately ran towards the center area, where Nod had been coordinating the rest of us. We were joined by Suldren and the dragonborn cleric as well. From down in the pit came a shadowy bat-like creature. It began flying around and swiping at us as while a spiked sphere of black force began rolling around the center chamber we were in. The bat-like creature seemed to have a sense of where the sphere was, and was able to use that to maneuver out into the corridor to evade us. Then he befuddled Suldren’s mind and lured him out into the corridor. Summoning up everything I had, I managed to rush out, grab him, and haul him out of the sphere’s path just in time. I had a feeling he really didn’t want to get that close to the sphere.

Eventually, after we managed a few hits on the thing, I managed to cloud its mind, and use its own tactic against it. I forced it out into the hallway into the path of the sphere. It unfortunately survived its encounter with the spiked sphere and fled into the chamber housing the exit door. The rest of the group charged ahead, save Nod, who stayed back to light the way. I myself got distracted by the trap that was in the hallway. I knew what it was, and I knew that I knew. I just couldn’t think of it at the time. I lost myself in thought, thinking on what the trap was. Finally! I knew that I knew it. I rounded the corner in time to see the others finishing off the creature, and the door had opened. We stepped through and were greeted by a voice congratulating us for proving ourselves worthy to lead the troops of Orcus. The shambling bodies of Vuden, Talmud, Kun-We, and Ninaren were before us. Ninaren was not someone we expected to see again, and immediately I saw a gleam in Nod’s eyes at the promise of tormenting his fallen enemy. We ordered the bodies, which were devoid of the souls that once lived in them, to follow us out of the wretched place.

We reached the portal that would take us back to our world, only there was one big problem; the portal wasn’t open! After we had just enough time for that to sink in we were greeted by a familiar individual who was not at all familiar looking. Kalarel had risen in the form of a powerful undead servant of Orcus. Kalarel’s first move was to reduce Linny to a quivering pile on the ground. Remembering bits of reading I had done when I was younger, I knew that if the tether that linked Kalarel to the mortal world were severed, his invulnerability would end. I began a holy ritual to sever the link, meanwhile Nod began supplementing my incantations with arcane power and the rest of the group chose the more direct approach. Kalarel began summoning zombies and vampires to fight along with him. Two appeared next to Nod and I teleported to unleash a burst of energy from the Feywild, destroying them in the process. With my ritual complete, bolstered by Nod’s magic, we reduced Kalarel’s power greatly. It did not take long for all of us to destroy him for good… I hope.

We made it back to our world and rested in one of the upper levels of the keep. The dead bodies of our allies and Ninaren needed to be carried; they were no longer animated by the foul magic of Orcus. Somehow though, Kun-We regained consciousness. I am still not sure how, but I was too intent on leaving as soon as possible to give it much thought. As we headed back towards Winterhaven we found the town surrounded by hordes of undead. Deftly avoiding their notice, we snuck into the town undetected. Lord Winthrop informed us of what we already knew was a desperate situation. It was time to act, we did not have long before it would be dark.

Just outside the town walls we battled a group of undead that were hiding amongst the bodies of the fallen. Their attacks seemed to drain away our stamina. Despite their attempts at hiding amongst the fallen bodies, we were able to pick them out and eliminate them. Eventually, we were able to dispose of all the undead threatening the town.

With the final threats eliminated Lord Winthrop gave us our due reward. Satisfied with it, and not really wanting to spend any more time in Winterhaven, I decided not to press the issue. We now find ourselves on our way back to Linny’s ritualist acquaintance. Hopefully she can restore our friends’ lives. Hopefully all we’ve done is enough to prove our worthiness to Captain Blacktooth. I’ve been thinking that our motley group needs a name. We should do that before joining Blacktooth’s crew. I’ll have to speak with the others.

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Suldren's Journal
Entry #6

We met up with Linny’s hired help while Linny went to speak to his associate. At first glance I thought he was the largest dwarf I’ve ever seen. Upon closer inspection I realized he was just a human with a large beard dressed like a dwarf. Is he ashamed of being a human, does he so admire dwarves, or is the look completely coincidental? The answer to that is not important so I will not waste any more time considering the issue. What is important is that this man is going to help us save our friends.

I’ll spare the details of Linny’s ritualist associate but I’ll say she’s someone I’d rather spend as little time with as possible in the future. She set up a ritual to teleport us back to the scene of our last battle and the look of fear and shock on Kalarel’s face is one that I will cherish for quite some time. We were making easy work of his minions and would have killed him just as handily had he not run away. Linny chased after him through the portal. We killed those left behind before following after them.

When we stepped through the portal we saw Linny standing over Kalarel’s corpse. No sooner had we walked over to examine it than we were ambushed by a ghoul and a horrible mass of tentacles. The tentacles dragged Kalarel’s corpse into the abyss it spawned from. A fitting end for his body indeed. The ghoul would prevent us from moving and then the tentacles would wrap around us, trying to pull us in. A very dangerous combination but we were able to get through it without anyone’s life being in too much danger.

We encountered a trap that locked around Vuden’s hand. Luckily enough for him he can teleport and the situation was averted without much harm. On our way of exploring this land we were confronted by three spirits. They said we needed to prove our worth to them and they would give us aid on our quest. Several impressive feats of strength, magic, kind words and a failed threat later we had proven our worth to them. The two male spirits certainly seemed worthy of proving ourselves to but their female companion was nothing but rude and arrogant. In the grand scheme of things her personality is a trivial thing so I won’t dwell on it anymore. While speaking to the spirits I was certainly glad to hear that our new companion would lay down his life to protect any of ours. If we are blessed enough perhaps he won’t be temporary much longer. The spirits informed us that we were in a proving ground for those who were loyal to Orcus and that in order to reach our friends we needed to find four magical items and place them in magic circles at the same time.

After we finished up with the spirits we found a dragonborn cleric that had been taken prisoner. Apparently he came to the keep searching to aid our original group. What great fortune indeed. I have a feeling that we’ll need all the help we can get to rescue our former friends.

Finding the actual location of the items was easy enough, getting them was more difficult. There were two lakes of blood between us and both parts of the staff that we needed, along with giant vicious statues, and demons that swam in the blood, it was very difficult to say the least. One advantage I had was that I could walk upon the surface of the blood to get across easily. Not quite what the ritualist had in mind when he made my shield I’m sure. After the battle I was completely exhausted, as much as I hated to use our only chance at rest early I knew we had to. The spirits kept watch over us while we rested and when we awoke they said they have fulfilled the task that has kept them there.

The next difficulty we faced was in a room filled with mirrors. Gazing into the mirrors teleported us to a room with no escape from within. Everyone but Nod and the cleric were trapped. Apparently after fighting a guardian of the place they were able to free the lot of us. After doing so Nod commented that Cassius and him were even and the rest of us owed him one. I was thoroughly confused by this and I let him know as much. He said he was unaware he was part of the group. I wonder if all of his kind are so bizarre? I don’t see how journeying into a dark god’s plane of existence to rescue people for nothing more than a fair split of the treasure makes you anything else but a part of our group. As far as I’m concerned his rescuing us doesn’t change anything. If it had been the other way around I’d have done what I could to save him. So if he thinks he will automatically take priority over any other member of our group he is sorely mistaken.

We have found the four artifacts and thanks to Nod’s assistance in coordinating we were able to place them in their place simultaneously. After doing so we heard the monster we will fight scream. And despite all I have seen and faced so far after hearng that noise I couldn’t help but feel a little scared. But my friends with me and those we need to save will be counting on me and I will not let fear hinder my quest. Never again will I let that happen.

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From the Journal of Cassius Wolfslayer...
Page 5

We returned to Winterhaven and rested for the night. The next morning we discovered that Talmud had recovered. In what might be described as a waking dream, he began working on something over at the smithy. We decided to leave him in town and went back to finish off Kalarel. We fought our way through the unexplored areas of the keep. Talmud caught up with us, having finished a weapon shown to him by his god.

Finally we descended into Kalarel’s lair only to discover that he had completed the ritual needed to open a gateway to the realm of Orcus. Ninaran was there as well as other nasty creatures. A few moments after we entered a horrible looking creature exited the portal, looking like a skeleton with extra shards of bone protruding from its body.

Finding cover behind a statue I aided Nod by dispatching Ninaran. From there I started attacking the zombies that were fighting Vuden, Talmud, Kun-We, and Suldren. Once the zombies fell I began focusing my attention on Kalarel. I managed to get a few shots on him, but in the meantime Suldren, Talmud, Kun-We, and Vuden had all been beaten into unconsciousness. Suddenly Linny dropped down from above and began tearing into Kalarel. He also fed a potion to Suldren and tossed a piece of dimensional chalk to me. I used the chalk to open a portal and Suldren ran through. I stayed to try to aid Linny, but as I watched Vuden, Kun-We, and Talmud getting dragged towards the portal by the tentacles of some unseen horror, I knew this was a fight we had already lost. I threw more blasts at Kalarel, but finally Linny grabbed Nod and myself and dragged us into the portal I opened.

Nod, Suldren, and myself were in a small room, guarded by two men. We were sequestered in the room for the night, allowed to rest, and were fed. The next morning Linny came back and told us we needed to get out of there. He gave us a map to escape the compound we were in and was going to meet us at a tavern. We bumped into a group of guards at one point during our escape and were able to convince them that we were high-ranking officers. My new alter-ego, Lieutenant Commander Baxter Drago will definitely have to be used again at some point, as the guards bought into our lies completely. We nearly made it out undetected, but the last room before the exit was full of men who heard us. We were able to eliminate them and even found some very useful items, including a rod that will enable me to curse more enemies. We made it to Linny and he informed us that he had a friend who could resurrect our fallen comrades. Unfortunately we need to reclaim their bodies, meaning that we need to venture into the realm of Orcus to get them back. We’re off to see Linny’s friend, a ritualist, before we then go back to the keep to finish what we’ve started. We’re definitely going to need more help though.

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