The Heroes of Hirot

Doom of the Savage Kings
A Lie Exposed, A Family Murdered

You rested until early afternoon after stomping around in the Sunken Fens and taking stuff that wasn’t yours. Upon waking you braved the screaming of the fanatic cleric in the plaza and managed a nice combo of buying armor while getting more info out of the locals. You browbeat said locals into selling you expensive armor, giving them shiny trinkets and glass beads in return.

Passing the screaming cleric in the plaza again, you met a Bard who claimed knowledge of Ulfenhor’s Tomb and spoke with locals for a few more pieces of info on the Hound. You also learned of the Mad Widow. Once again braving the rantings of the screaming cleric, you went out to her hut. At the hut you experienced the mind-blowing sensation of being in an extra-dimensional structure and saw the Widow making thread from fire. Which prompted Mr. Star to state, “She’s probably just a sham.” The Widow offered to make rope for you that could bind the Hound, if you 1) brought her hair from a corpse and 2) Benny agreed to marry her after the Hound was dead. Benny hemmed and hawed, and she tossed the bunch of you out on your asses. “Aaaaand STAY OUT!” is what you heard IN YOUR MIND.

On the way back you passed the screaming, frothing cleric again and Mr. Star HAD ENOUGH. Casting Magic Missile very quietly, he turned the priest into an acidic green pool of ectoplasm. There could have been bad repercussions, but instead there was much rejoicing.

Being very curious, paranoid and skeptical you created a complex distraction away from the town square, with warriors practicing loudly and wizards talking about stars. This was so Slim the Thief could get over to the lottery box and take a close look. He walked over like a Sasquatch, making noise that probably rose the dead in some distant land, but he got Lucky and wasn’t heard by the half-deaf Thegn. Slim discovered that the Lottery was a sham, much like the Mad Widow, and that specific names could be placed in a secondary box for pulling during the lottery. Quickly closing the box, he shared the info with the rest of you hooligans.

Deciding it had gotten late, you guys retired to the Inn for food, beer, cider, pipeweed for your glaucoma, etc. You decided to keep watch on the roof after that, and sure enough—once it got dark you heard howls and screams. Rushing back downstairs like a herd of armed elephants, your way was blocked by some unsavory sorts gambling in front of the door. Quickly making them move their Shiite, you poured outside and made a beeline for the hideous sounds. Upon arriving you found a couple dead watchmen and a damaged home. An inspection of the home found 2 more dead bodies mutilated and a young girl hiding in a small cabinet, who Benny was able to bring out to the Watch. Meantime, Slim double-backed and found a silver piece to steal.

Unable to sleep after this, and concerned that the town might blame you for this in-town visit from the Hound, you stalked off with the Bard as your guide to find the tomb. After a quick break in the woods to eat some hard cheese, drink some wine, and listen to a song you completed your journey and found the tomb. Crossing a large pond in front of the huge stone door you discovered 4 wrapped bundles in the water, with ancient skulls, coins, and swords in them. After 20 minutes of trying, you were finally able to move the enormous door…at which point the water receded around your feet and a serpent made of that water attacked you, narrowly missing the Bard. That’s where we are starting, next time.

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Doom of the Savage Kings
Victory and Betrayal

After reaching the tomb and thoroughly looting it, the party is in possession of the Spear of Ulfehenar and the Horn of Kings. Mr. Star the Wizard has also taken possession of a black orb that his thief was carrying around, when he caught the thief talking to it in a vulgar manner.

Walking out the front door of the tomb the party was attacked by hidden archers and a mage. You caught a few arrows but charged the archers, ultimately engaging most of them in melee. Benny the Magnificent and Mr. Star got into a spell-duel with the mystery mage. During the battle, Mr. Star and the mage clashed and caused a Phlogiston Disturbance—both were instantly transported to a different dimension.

The fight went badly for the brave archers, and you murder-hobos mobbed them and killed them all save the leader. Another had surrendered, but had unfortunately surrendered to a fighter in the middle of an ancient-magic induced berserker state, who did not even hear what the the guy was saying before he decapitated him. The Huntmaster explained the Jarl had sent them to kill you, but was himself furious at the Jarl when he was told about the rigged lottery box.

Meanwhile Mr. Star had invoked his patron, promising to brand a symbol on his chest and open a library/shrine to it IF IT WOULD JUST TAKE HIM HOME. The patron agreed and pulled him back.

On reflection, since Star got a good look at the mage, he looked familiar.

You guys are healed up, rested up, spelled up and heading over to the shrine stones to face the Hound, minus 1 Bard.

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EASTERN PROMISES
No beginning, no middle, no end.

We have two new additions to the party: the Wizard’s Familiars. Both of them, given a few rounds, can kill an adult human male of the begger or farmer variety. See my amusing and informative entries in the Characters tab!

A quick trip East to a trading outpost called Kelisk, manned by hardy frontiersmen and led by a large man called Harald, led to the discovery of a side path that leads off to rumored ruins according to Iraco, who is acting as guide to the outpost).  The outpost itself yielded a number of useful items that the party had been looking for but unable to purchase in the backwater of Hirot, such as armor and weapons. The party learned of an enemy that the outpost deals with from time to time; fierce, large humanoids who speak a growling, barking language but don’t show much strategic sense, attacking piecemeal and getting wiped out when they try direct attacks on the outpost. Some of the homesteads have not been so lucky.

Upon entering the outpost you learned that the family of Bior the shepherd had disappeared from their secluded cottage in the forest; he, his wife, Mira, and their son, Cullen had gone missing, probably the previous night. There were signs of a struggle and blood. Since there was time to kill while waiting for some scale mail to be repaired, metal sling bullets to be made, and a sword to be crafted with gems, and also because the party likes a good fight, it was decided to see if the homesteaders could be found.

A guide, Stefan, led the party north of the outpost towards the home, but was intercepted by a local crank and hermit with his huge dog (wolf).  He claimed to have clues from the homestead and insisted that the party follow him back to his house. Which turned out not to be a house, but a hollowed out chunk of tree trunk in a HUGE oak tree.  Upon nearing his “door” the hermit turned and went immediately berserk. He attacked the party, as did his wolf and a lynx that was waiting up in the tree limbs.

However this was not the party’s first rodeo, and they fought back with spells, arrows, swords and a straight razor. The wolf was sent to Sleep by Star and was soon dispatched; the hermit succumbed to a Word of Power from Daphnee and dropped to his knees, unable to fight. The lynx tried to flee but was cut down by arrows. The hermit was pounded to the point of death and some attempt to get information out of him was made, but it was gibberish about how he was the defender of the forest and sacrifices were needed. Floyd grew tired of his voice and made sure he’d never speak to anyone, ever again.  Where’s Andy, indeed.

The party was unharmed and saw drag marks leading up to the opening, so they cautiously entered. Finding a trap door with circular stars winding down, they sent Brume the Mist Elemental to scout and proceeded down.  Brume discovered a chest at the bottom of the stairs and a locked room that contained torture devices and a few cages, one of which held two of the missing people—the woman and her son.  The father was nowhere to be seen.

After looting the chest of some treasure and discovering a set of keys, the party unlocked the door and tossed the keys to the hungry, dehydrated, terrified young boy and told him figure out which key worked in the lock and open it from a bad angle, to let himself and his shell-shocked mother out of the cage. The party might have done this for him, but they were concerned about the deep black hole that extends halfway into the room, and which they are convinced is the home of a hideous creature.  The boy confirmed this by telling the party, through his tears, that his father had been grabbed by tentacles that came out of the hole after the hermit had rung the big bell in the back of the room.

Stefan returned to the outpost with Mira and Cullen.

That’s where we are now—the party is trying to figure out the best strategy for dealing with whatever is in the hole.  The bodies of the hermit and the wolf have been dragged down the stairs to potentially use as bait.

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From the Journal of Benny, the Magnificent, First of His Line
You'll Fly When I Tell You, Fools

Benny’s Journal:

Having obtained a fine, leather bound book, I have chosen to chronicle my exploits in hopes of passing along my insights to those who will inevitably follow me. We traveled East towards a remote and primitive trading posts so that some of the men-at-arms could better equip themselves since they rely on the strength of their steel rather than the steel in their hearts. I have the good fortune of traveling with my apprentice, Star, who seems to be learning quite a lot from me as we spend the days discussing The Art and other philosophical topics. His mind is not as keen, of course, but it provides a pleasant distraction from the crude ramblings of Ming or the mumbling of Floyd. I must admit that the priestess, Daphne, also provides a pleasant divergence. She vexes me though. At times, she hangs on my every word and looks at me with unconcealed wonder, but she is shy and whenever she finds herself too close to my impressive physical presence, she becomes a shy and awkward girl. If I decide to take her as a mate, I will have to break her of that as it will just not do to have a wallflower clinging to me.

The Fates deemed me valuable enough to gift me with a valuable servant; a mist elemental I’ve taken to calling Brume. Of course, the neophytes I travel with hardly realize that it is just a pun on the fact that Brume actually means mist. Ahhh, the simple minded. How I pity them.

As we were surveying the squalor that the frontiersmen call a trading post, we deduced that they were in dire need of our assistance. We traveled with a guide to locate some of their missing peasants when we met up with a savage hermit. He was friendly at first, leading us to his dwelling which was nothing more than a hole in a tree, when the poor fellow went mad and turned on us. Even though he had two pets that he tried to sick on us, we quickly dispatched him and his beasts. I must say that the Priestess showed great resourcefulness by calling upon Amantor to command the simple minded savage. We had the rogues search his dwelling but they required my assistance in finding a trap door leading down into a dungeon where I was able to rescue the peasant family (minus the adult male). It became apparent to me that they were held in some sort of feeding chamber for a foul abomination, so I set the group to prepare a trap. After some trial and error, we drew the foul beast forth and began harrying it. Realizing that it would quickly slip away, I sacrificed my beloved, demonic snake horn to The Fates and closed off the beast’s retreat before sending forth meteors to obliterate it before it could harm those under my protection.

We then descended into the cavern it used as a lair and discovered some fine, exotic weapons and armor which I gladly distributed for an adequate attempt by my group in battling the aberrant forces. I shan’t be too hard on them because they lack the means to channel the forces of Fate with a mere thought. I did find a nice, golden torc amid the other rubbish which looks quite good on me. The poor, misguided armsmen were about to crawl into a corrosive cavern to check on three obviously deceased cadavers before my voice of reason saved them from a tragic (and ultimately inconvenient) death. So, we head back to the surface to investigate the strange woods that the weaker minded claimed gave them bad dreams the night before. It’s a burden, but one I take on to further my quest to rid the land of imbalance and corruption.

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Star log- The tree
I don't differentiate much, except in degree, between people who believe in religion from those who believe in astrology, magic or the supernatural.

The battle below. Our first attempt to tame the beast was not successful. the Worm seemed to not have any interest in a dead body in stead it wanted fresh flesh. the beast crawled to attack myself and pint size. Lucky for for all of us my plan of sitting in the cages worked. While my some what delusional friend Benny waited in the safety of the hall way. As the beast attacked I tried force the beast to sleep it was not successful. The brave fighters of Slim and Sam where successful in driving the created back down it hole..

My battle plan for the second attack was much more successful. The group hunted down a deer and thanks to Benny. it was put to sleep. The deer was placed on the alter and while it was a sleep we coated it furs with poison. We rang the bell the worm came to investigate the poison slowed down enough allowing the group to kill it. We investigated the lear and found treasure.

As we where preparing to leave the tree in the morning it came to life and began to attack Benny and his friend the barber. Benny was over come with anxiety and fear as the tree be can to control his thoughts. Calling on the Patron they crenated me favor in casting my most powerful spell ever. The tree was so weakened from my might that the others where quick to dispose of it.

Note to self Benny continues to grow more and more delusional in his power he thinks glowing red as he cast his spells will struck fear in to the hearts of our attackers what he does not realize is true power comes from not seeing the attack coming just ask the priest in the town who I kill just with a thought.

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Benny's Journal, 2nd Entry, The Root of Evil.

We camped again in the corrupted halls under the tree and the evil influence of the place wreaked havoc upon so many of the men-at-arms. I do not fault them, though, for even a being as strong willed as I fell prey to their vile powers. I believe everyone experienced some form of nightmare that night. Except for Floyd who slept as peaceful as a babe. I worry about that youth. I hear him mumbling to himself more and more. I’ve caught him asking “where is he?” and “who is he?” several times but when I inquire as to who “he” is, the boy just looks at me and tells me that I’m not him. Him, who? During the night, the evil nightmares got so bad that I awoke to find one poor soul running about acting the fool while another wept in the corner. As Daphne argued with one of the others as to the best course of action, I cast forth a cloud that sent the two poor sods off to the sweet bliss of dreamless, magical sleep. That, I believe, is why Daphne has not acted on her feelings towards me. She is unable to act decisively and thus doubt settles in and forces her to push away that which she desires most.

Anyway, in the morning, I sent Brume out to reconnoiter the area prior to our departure. Not having detected anything, I led our group out of the hermit’s tree only to realize the tree itself was a source of corruption. It swung its branches at Ming and Floyd and assaulted our greatest weapon, my mind. As I fought against what must’ve been an ancient and terrible sentience, the hangers on were swinging their clubs and smashing about. My apprentice, Star, claims to have channelled a good amount of force against our foe, but as he was taking shelter INSIDE the tree as my two bodyguards and I faced the ancient, fury of flora, I could not tell you if he truly was successful or not. As it was, my men-at-arms did a fine job of protecting me while I fought the main battle – a battle of wills. In the end, I proved the stronger and as I came out of my mental struggle, I quickly dispatched the physical remains of the tree with one of my signature Flaming Arrows of Fate. I’m sure the others helped, but it was obvious that I had saved the day – once again. Daphne was overcome with desire that she rushed out towards me and almost too late realized her lack of decorum. She covered her faux pas by pretending to attend to Floyd’s wounds but I noticed her glance kept drifting my way. Poor thing fighting her feelings for me, but she must remember she is a priestess.

After battling the tree, we headed towards the outpost where we were met with celebration and praise. I gave my team their due for it would be unseemly if I failed to recognize their “efforts”.

Where shall we head to next?

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Benny’s Journal Entry #3, The Beastmen Cometh

After soaking in the adulation of the frontier settlers, we decided to rest so that I could regain my health. After a few days, I was feeling hale and hearty only to discover that Ming made himself a new friend. My simple minded servant truly has a way with animals so it shouldn’t surprise me that he befriended a dog named Zeus. He spent the day bonding with his dog who now seems determined to follow him everywhere. After a healthy meal, I went out to find the source of a ruckus near the front gate to the outpost. It seems that Grisham, one of Daphne’s acolytes from Hiroit, had come on a pilgrimage to spread the word of Amun-Tur. Unfortunately (for his companions), they were set upon by what they described as “beastmen” who managed to overcome their small group, killing one member and abducting several more. The outpost was in quite an uproar, but since the sun was setting, the gates were closed and guards kept a wary eye on the shadows in the darkness. Some of Grisham’s companions were wounded and Daphne looked like an angel of mercy as she moved through their midst healing the wounded and comforting those grieving their lost comrades. I was shaken out of this captivating vision by Floyd offering to assist any people who were at the end of their life’s journey. I admit that it lightened my heart to see him concerned for those waiting for the Fates to cut their threads. My worries about his mental health dissipating with his act of kindness and caring.

That night, some of the men-at-arms claimed to hear animalistic noises coming out of the darkness. When I queried why they should be surprised to hear animals in the wilderness, they corrected themselves and said that they were not natural noises and rumors of more “beastmen” spread quickly through the outpost. Knowing how easily frightened peasants can become, I led our group out to circle around the frontier outpost looking for signs of interlopers. We did discover some scat that some of the more environmentally minded claimed could only have come from humans. How they determined human feces from animal, I did not want to know, but Ming certainly was thorough in his investigation. He was also quite proud of his new pet, Zeus, who was proving quite useful as a tracker as well as a distraction to keep Ming occupied. We soon determined that this scat was indeed from whoever was out the night prior making noises and scaring the simple minded. Star retrieved his crystal orb and after a few unsuccessful attempts, was able to spy upon several mutated humans with the features of beasts in some sort of ruins. Intrigued by the recently corroborated rumors, we went out in the direction of some local ruins and my apprentice used the unusual properties of his Toad familiar to inscribe some ruins upon several trees. We then headed back for a warm meal and what the locals claim to be wine, but is an insult to any vintner worthy of the title.

Later that night, Star warned me that something had triggered one of his runes. I tasked Brume with reconnoitering the area only to discover one of the Beastmen, for that is what the vile abominations truly were – a horrid blend of beast and Man, immobilized by Star’s runecraft with two others frantically trying to understand what had happened. With the lightest touch of power, I channeled my magic through Brume and sent all three Beastmen to a deep, magical slumber. We roused the men-at-arms and procured a cart from the townfolk and headed out to investigate these abominations. The others were shocked to see what I had viewed through my connection to Brume – the two Beastmen asleep on the ground were some sort of cross between Lizard and Man while the immobilized one was a disgusting mixture of pustules, open sores, and maggot ridden flesh. A cloud of flies swarmed around the disgusting creature causing me to look away lest I relieve myself of my earlier meal. When I turned back, I saw the Barber pull out a cleaver he must’ve acquired in town and proceed to dissect one of the lizard looking creatures. I was heartened to see him take an interest in anatomy, even though several of the hirelings were disgusted by it. For some reason, he also dissected the second lizard, but what he hoped to find, I had no idea. Perhaps he was simply ensuring the consistencies in their mutations. Either way, he finished his task quickly and with a relish I’ve only seen in him when talking about this confounded “Andy” creature.

The trip back to the outpost was horrific to say the least. I was riding in the cart with Ming to avoid turning an unpleasant walk, but the stench of the Beastman that Star insisted we take back for “questioning” was overwhelming. It was not long before my gorge rose faster than I could react to and I was spilling my dinner off the side of the cart. Ming soon followed, so I know it wasn’t just my frail constitution failing me. We finally made it back and the guards wisely suggested we leave the Beastman outside of the gates, but within easy bow shot. Since Brume seemed not the least bit affected by the stench, I set him to watch the abomination and warn me of any trouble. As the sun rose, I decided to hold off on breaking my fast until after dealing with the pestilence outside the walls, so we journeyed forth to interrogate the misshapen nightmare. Star made good use of his talent with Runes and scribed some sort of Rune that compels the subject to only speak truthfully. So armed, we tried to discern if the creature was intelligent. It spoke a crude version of Gnoll, so it fell to me, the only erudite in the group, to interact with it although he did not provide us with much information. He WAS a man at one time, but VOLUNTARILY accepted a dark curse to turn away from humanity and embrace the abomination. He was part of a force that holed up in the North with more than a score of other mutations. Knowing these to be a foul stain upon the land, we quickly set forth to scour the earth of this blight. Unfortunately, Half-Pint was in a bad state and claimed that he did not want to come with us. Star had pity on him and suggested he hole up in the Inn until our return. Frankly, that sort of compassion only leads towards sloth. Next thing, the men-at-arms will be asking for three meals a day and extra pay on Holy Days.

As we came upon the area we found the Beastmen the night before, we realized that someone (or something) had dragged off the pieces of Floyd’s dissection. Showing his capability with animals again, Ming coached his new canine into picking up and following the trail and we set off cross country. After walking seemingly forever, we made camp and settled in for a night under the stars. I tried to spark a religious discussion with Daphne, but her servants kept butting in and resorting to base, male posturing as they vied for her attention. She cast me an apologetic look and I stepped aside so she could settle their nerves. Just as well, because the long march had taken a lot out of me. In the middle of the night, Brume alerted me that more of the Beastmen were approaching. I roused Ming and then realized that Floyd was on guard duty so I called for the others to awake and arm themselves. Star was already warned by another of his runes proving him quite the capable Runecaster. As the Beastmen approached, I conjured a few dogs right in their midst to distract them and buy us some time to prepare. Star followed suit and then Daphne and her apprentice sought out the blessings of Amun-Tur. I could easily see that they are favored by their God, because they were wreathed in a Holy light and I swore I could hear angelic singing*. Even so, I moved closer to protect Daphne and her Diety blessed me with additional magical power for protecting His chosen. I used this extra power and channeled a harrowing volley of Fire Arrows of Fate laying the enemy low and breaking their morale. They fled in haste and we thought better than rush after them into the dark forest and a possible ambush. A few of the Beastmen had fallen because of the dogs Star and I conjured so we went over to investigate. Floyd was closest and he quickly pulled out his cleaver to perform another dissection. This time, the focus of his research was less Beast and more man which made it all the more disturbing. I heard Daphne gasp as he quickly reduced the creature to its component pieces. It could be that he is a Blade of Fate, but I fear that Floyd may be descending towards madness. I will need to seek direction from my patron before deciding how to handle him.

  • Of course, Daphne has been struggling because her order must insist on her celibacy! Why hadn’t I considered it before? She yearns for me, but must keep me at a distance or else succumb to her baser desires and lose favor with Amun-Tur. I shall endeavor to be more considerate of her fragile emotional state and not tempt her with my flesh. All things become clear to those who dare pierce the mysteries of the universe
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Benny's Journal Entry #4 - The Search for Andy Ends Here

After moving camp and getting what rest we could, we continued to follow the trail of the Beastmen until we came upon some sort of ruined keep. After the scouts reconnoitered the area, I had Brume circumvent the keep and found that the northwest corner had collapsed so we decided to enter there. As we began to climb, Sam triggered an avalanche which caused many of the keep’s wall stones to come tumbling down upon us. Ming rushed to save his new found canine friend leaving me vulnerable and that was the last thing I remembered until I looked up into the face of angel. Even though other people were injured, herself included, Daphne rushed to my aid and called upon her God’s power to revive me. Unfortunately, my conscious presence left her flustered and she was unable to channel her divine power. She was so flustered that she slipped in her attempt to call upon her God, Amon-Tor, earning His disfavor. And so it was that I was left to the care of her acolyte, who although quite competent, lacked the appeal that Daphne holds.

Once we were assured the climb would be safe, we climbed up into the ruins of the inner keep. We saw a strange, capstone looking block covered in ivy, the burnt remains of a stone outer-building, a tower in the Southeast, a sink hole with clouds of mist churning from it in the Northeast, and a well. While some of the archers, the clerics, Star and I stood over-watch, Ming and Floyd approached the well. His dog, Zeus, was hesitant to approach the well in some sort of strange animal sense, so Ming stopped to console him. Floyd, missing the signs of danger, continued to the well and heard what he described as moaning. He said that it must be Andy trapped down there and he whistled that annoying tune he was always going on with only to fall into the well. He did not cry out or yell for help, but we also never heard him hit bottom. The danger from the well was palpable and frankly, many in our group were becoming increasingly worried about Floyd’s behavior, so we let him be. It is a shame because he was a good with a battleaxe and he was willing to do the work that others simply didn’t have the stomach for.

Around the same time, Billy-Bob came too close to the edge of the mist covered sinkhole and the ground gave way causing him to tumble towards his doom. Erik the cleric, Daphne’s acolyte, was able to grab onto him but was in danger of following him off the edge and to both of their dooms. I invoked the The Fates and asked them to intercede on my behalf and because I am an instrument of their will, Billy-Bob was flung back to solid land dragging Erik along with him. Perhaps it was because I failed to try and save Floyd, perhaps it was because I interceded in someone else’s fate, but either way, I suffered for my hubris by having my ears quickly shrivel up and fall off of me. It’s strange that I continue to hear perfectly well, but the price of my power is easily observed now.

Even though I had just rescued him from his death, Billy-Bob decided to tempt The Fates again by examining the capstone we found. Even after I deciphered the writing upon it as a warning, the fool decided to jump up and down upon the stone in some sort of ritualistic dance his people must use to celebrate the avoidance of certain death. Strange. Having recovered from the loss of my ears, I realized we still hadn’t surveyed the burnt out stone building on the east side of the keep. I sent Brume to investigate which was easy since the wooden roof had fallen into what I realized was some sort of place to worship a bizarre Toad faced deity. Obviously, someone else took um bridge at the Toad God because they had barred the doors to the temple and painted the word, “Repent” on the outside. How that message was supposed to reach those trapped inside that apparently perished from the fire is unclear, but we decided to avoid it all the same.

I’m not sure if it was the fool’s jumping or the fact that we proceeded into the middle of the courtyard, but one of those foul Beastmen started to ring a bell near the entrance to the keep, so Star called forth the power of the Fates and shot forth many of his Force Daggers of Fate and obliterated the foul abomination. It was an impressive display. Although, his ears elongated and he looked like Ming’s mule, Bessy. He even let loose a braying laugh. It was quite annoying. I began to wonder if it wasn’t disfavor that caused my ears to change, but rather some source of power within the keep itself that was tainting our magic. Perhaps the well that Ming’s dog found so uncomforting.

Finding the door to the Southeast tower locked, the men-at-arms took attempts to bash down the door and after a long, strenuous effort, finally battered it open. Ming jumped into the room beyond only to find himself standing on a wall-to-wall carpet of corpses and skins that was utterly disgusting. In his haste, or perhaps his grief at the disappearance of Floyd, Ming did not consider the tactical situation and his rush almost cost him his life for he was not alone. He realized that a half-score of the foul Beastmen shared the rot filled corpse room with him and he was set upon by a brutish specimen, perhaps the biggest we’ve seen yet, and would’ve lost his life if he hadn’t blocked the brute’s axe blow with his magical shield. Even so, the blow was so strong that his shield flew off into the gore of the room and he wisely kept the monsters at bay while backing out of the room. That was all the space I needed for I channeled my power and unleashed an astonishing ten Flaming Arrows of Fate into our foes. I was able to shred the powerful, beastly champion and four of his minions while leaving one more severely wounded. I didn’t know it at the time, but that much magical power, or the corruption of this place, caused my pupils to turn chalky white until all anyone could see were the whites of my eyes. Daphne must’ve regained the good graces of Amon-Tor because she, and those around her, were blessed with the sound of angelic singing and our group fought on that much harder. It wasn’t long before we dispatched the other beasts, but after launching one powerful Flaming Ballista Bolt of Fate, my hands grew translucent, almost ghostly, until they were nigh-invisible. I wasn’t the only one, because I noticed Star walking with an odd-gait as if one leg had suddenly become longer than the other.

After we were able to light Ming’s lantern and a torch or two, we discovered Irico and five other humans hanging from chains around the perimeter of the room. Daphne and Erik were quick to heal as many as they could and Irico was in a hurry to take the survivors to safety. Whiile searching through the gore, Slim had a rot grub worm its way into his leg and he almost wasn’t able to remove it, but he finally did. Good thing for him or he would’ve spent his last few moments in this mortal coil screaming in agony. Anyway, Irico told us that there had been more imprisoned by the Beastmen but suspected that they were being turned into more of the foul creatures, so with all haste, we set off down several flights of stairs to save them.

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Benny's Journal Entry #5 - Don't Pay the Ferryman

After descending the stairs, we found ourselves in a large room with disconcerting murals of beast men upon the walls. The center of the room was taken up by a large, rectangular pool of murky water and there were four small alcoves where we found old, moldy, mildewed, rags that could generously be called robes with Chaos runes. Upon my suggestion, one of the torch bearers set the robes ablaze striking a blow against these chaos worshipping beast men who are the bane of not only my patron but my tailor as well.

Everyone found themselves mystically drawn to the rectangular pool of murky water where we were mesmerized by glowing lights within. The lights soon floated to the surface where we realized they were human skulls. One of Daphne’s men at arms claimed that he wasn’t drawn to the pool, but I sincerely doubt it. If someone of my intellect can become bespelled, certainly a simpler mind would be even more so.

From the muralled, fetid pool room, we made our way further down more infernal steps. My legs were beginning to ache and I was grateful for the rest when we came out onto some sort of beach next to an underground lake. There was a large rock jutting out into the underground lake that, upon further inspection, held Chaos symbols and runes all around it. There was a small candle atop the rock and we suspected that it acted as some sort of signal to the other area of the cavern where we could make out the glow of a fire and hear the distant sound of drums.

Star sent one of the scouts into a narrow cavern behind a small waterfall feeding into the lake and he reported there were scores of human skulls in there. That gave me a flash of my all too familiar brilliance and I deduced that if we brought down one of the glowing skulls and lit the signal candle, our Chaos deluded foes would assume we were more of their ilk arriving late to their unnatural festivities. The others quickly dispatched several of the men at arms to fetch a skull, because I wasn’t about to punish myself going up all those steps we had just descended!

After the others set themselves in ambush, Star and I lit the candle and heroically faced the forces that would be unleashed on us. I could see that Daphne was quite impressed with my heroism, but remained shy and timid. I had no time to worry about her secret crush on me, because a foul longship soon emerged from the nigh-impenetrable darkness and docked up against the rock. Seeing no one on board and deducing that the ship would take us across the lake to interrupt the beastial ceremony, we coaxed the others on board. Even that twice damned mule and flea infested canine that Ming insists bringing with him.

The foul longship of Chaos powered us across the lake only to stop halfway while some enormous, tentacled aberration terrorized our party looking for some donation. We quickly sorted that out with only a minor outbreak of insubordination when one of Star’s men suggested we slaughter Ming’s mule as a blood sacrifice. Where these Neanderthals come up with ideas, I’ll never know. We soon found ourselves coming closer and closer to the sound of the drums as the distant glow quickly resolved into a large, stone ziggurat emerging from the brackish water.

The beast men were enthralled with this tainted ceremony and they were on each level chanting and looking towards the top where some sort of shaman was sacrificing human captives into a pit of flames. Acting with as much haste as my tired bones would allow me, we quickly brought several groups of beast men low with spell and sword. Rather than fighting along the entire ramp that spiraled up the ziggurat, we climbed each step as we brought down the beasts. Once near the top, we split and I led the charge into a vicious mob of what must’ve been the elite of the hideous beast men. They offered heavy resistance and I feared the worst until we finally felled the last of the zealots with my Blade of Atropos. Although I’m sure the troops were moved by my lead from the front attitude, I prefer to leave the sword swinging for the less mentally capable and stick to my mastery of the arcane.

While we were battling the bulk of the forces, Star’s diversionary group met stiff resistance as well and before we knew it, a huge chaos spawned demon grew out of the top of the ziggurat and I realized that the Fates brought us here to protect our world from this corrupt imbalance of nature.

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When the guano is that deep, stay in the boat
Translated from the original Dwarven

Da,

I hope that ye and Ma be well. As ye know, I went wit me friends to find de darned well o’ souls that de loremaster kept going on about. Tis true, I went cause I feared fer me friends. How could I trust a scholar, a butcher, and a chimney sweep to survive above ground. I admit I haven’t been a tunnel runner fer long but at least ’twas better ’n de others.

We met with another fine dwarf who kept strange companions. He even were friends wit a couple o’ durned Elfs! An Da, I remember ya saying that havin’ a burglar wit ya was good luck, but havin’ three must be bad luck. There were a human or two as well.

We trekked out in de durned desert wit de durned sun blazing above like an overheated forge. After forever, we finally found a good hole in da ground and we headed down. T’was like the others never seen an underground lake. They was fussin’ and going on and on a’fore we loaded into a few flat bottomed boats like me cousin’s and set out. We made for this large statue that were on dese tablets some merchant traded us for a share in the rewards.

The statue were of a bat woman or some such but was so covered in guano that it were hard to tell if there were anything of value. We did spy a shield hanging from her mouth so da boys and I headed for it. As we waded into guano deeper than a mole rat is tall, I noticed something not quite right about the floor. Thinking it were a pit trap, as ye taught me, we circled round. Only the durned chimney sweep insisted on leading so as to detect anymore pits with his staff. Least ways, that’s what I thunk he said ‘cause I never could decipher his strange accent. Remember, his kin came from the Cockney caverns out East. ’Twas no suprise that even with all his pokin’ and proddin’ he fell into the next durned pit and screamed like a weevil before he impaled hisself on the spikes at the bottom.

His screamin’ caused all the bats to get riled up and flutter about. ‘Twas then I realized the others were still in their frakkin’ boats. I yelled fer dem to git their lazy, tree huggin’ arses up here and we proceeded to clear the other traps. We found a secret door and headed down towards another confounded lake. We all piled into one boat dis time and we headed towards a little island with a small pyramid on it. As we approached, we seen a tiny little city wit a bunch o gems glitterin’ so we jumped out and headed towards it only to have a frakkin’ copper alligator come to life. I squared off against it to protect me fellows only fer it to open its maw and breath out fire!!! I survived wit me beard singed and steaming, but me friends went to da great halls.

Some sort of djinn or sometin’ came out the remains of da gator after one o da little ones finished it off. Da djinn asked me if’n I needed anything so I asked fer me friends back. A’fore ya lecture me, I know ‘twas wrong o me to call ’em back from the great halls, but I were not thinking straight. The djinn couldn’t even tho I asked and den spent forever talkin’ and carrying on while I set about prying out the gems.

We headed back to da exit but I’ll save that tale fer another letter.

Say hullo to Ma and me kin. If’n the gods be good, I’ll be home afore the mushroom harvest.

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