Spoiler Alert: This is a adventure that uses the "H3: Pyramid of Shadows" Adventure from Wizards of the Coast. Be aware that the adventure notes below contains spoilers about this adventure.
|Adventurer's Name||Description||Portrayed by|
|Gerald Nimbus||Human Staff Wielding Wizard||Andy K.|
|Morthos||Archery Ranger||Kevin J.|
|Glormil DaggerStrong||Dwarven Brutal Rogue||Lionel M.|
|Bearn Stiffleg||Dwarven fighter||Colt C.|
|Altemira||Elven Star-Pact Warlock||Dan W.|
I am not the sort to typically put pen to paper in a such a trivial fashion as this, but as I fear more and more the icy hand of the Walker in the Wastes, I grow more aware that some record should exist, should a dire fate befall this expedition as those in the past. But, I get ahead of myself.
My name is Gerald, known to many as Nimbus. I am a worker of the arcane arts and a devout watcher of the Great Eye of Ras Shamra, the Living Storm. I am a rainmaker, a storm-chaser, formerly a mercenary, and currently a spell-for-hire most lately of the dismal town of Winterbalm.
Newly inducted into yet another band of explorers, I am not ashamed to say that I spent my last evening deep in the cups of a local red wine that could be better served as paint thinner. When I had awoken, it seemed several of my new comrades had already left the traveling house, leaving me to break my fast with the two dwarves, Glomril and Stiffleg. The pair act almost like brothers, but Stiffleg seems to be the more cultured of the pair…not that it says much about his boorish mannerisms. Glomril tried several times to drink himself into a stupor even before we set out on an expedition, but managed only to exercise his bladder.
As I finished my steak and eggs, reviewing my spell scrolls one last time, the only other human in our motley group strode in: the priestess Elleni, a follower of the Raven Queen. She seems at least somewhat more enlightened than her Pelorian or Corellite brethren, but it remains to be seen whether this attitude will remain. Matters of faith have yet to be breached with her in conversation, and I would not be surprised to see the same intolerance ingrained in her.
At any rate, Elleni had met with the mayor earlier that morning—a cowardly, self-preserving fool, from all accounts—only to find that some troubles had begun in the town with the arrival of a decadent city mage, demanding to view some ruins located to the south, amongst some bandit-laden forests. Naturally, she volunteered us to investigate.
We set off shortly thereafter, being joined by our two other early-risers: a tiefling archer named Morthos and an elven magic-user named Altemira. I know little about either, but the elf seems a quandary to me. Rather than the true fey tradition of wizardry, this arcanist seems preoccupied with destruction and the end of all things. Closer observation is clearly due.
After a few hours on the road, Morthos—having scouted the area ahead—came back to us with a curious report. It seemed that some figure, clad in robes that were better served as rags and carrying a series of brush, seemed to be skulking about the area ahead. Undoubtedly, it had to be a druid: one of the long forgotten worshippers of the elemental spirits, which Frau Hedda used to speak of when I was a boy. The last of the druids was supposedly snuffed out something like 35 years ago by the arrogant churchmen, so I was stupefied and immediately went to investigate, calling out to him in the tongue of the elementals.
Unfortunately, this seemed only to divulge our position, and the fellow seemed more than mad, as he began to assail us with elemental magicks. Times were tense for more than a while, as he spewed acid and lightning towards myself and my comrades, but eventually we were able to surround him and bring him down. How sad, to see one of the Ancient Green Order falling so far—no more than a rabid dog to be ‘put down.’
While Stiffleg and Altemira suffered grievous wounds during the battle due to the druid’s acid attacks, I could not help but note that Glomril—tricky bastard that he seems to be—was nowhere to be found during the battle, save at the end, when victory was all but assured. Typical conniving dwarf. He’ll charge in at the last, blades drawn, ready to claim the glory of others. At least Stiffleg managed to show some of the vaunted dwarven fortitude in the victory, as opposed to his uncouth comrade.
We continued in our journey to the southwest, as the road dwindled to nothing through the dense sub-tropical forest. Ahead of us, a stand of bizarre ruins stood amongst the foliage. We immediately rushed to investigate, and found that the ruins were covered with some alien alphabet that none in the group were familiar with. Quickly, Altemira and I sought to make notes and rubbings of the dialect, only to be interrupted by war-cries coming from the northeast—bandits!
At this point, I should note the stupidity of the dwarves yet again. Thinking to scout ahead, they began advancing through the ruins, leaving Altemira, Morthos, and I behind. Several ragged humans, bearing poor armaments began to assail us, advancing on Altemira and wounding her severely. I let loose with Ras Shamra’s wrath—blasts of frost and lightning from the heavens—slowing the humans and bringing them to their knees with pain. We called for aid, as we began to fall back, only to find our comrades under attack as well by dwarves and a draconic creature known as a rage drake.
As Altemira fell back, bleeding, I managed to dispatch the last few humans and start to rejoin our comrades in fighting off the dwarves, who definitely seemed to be the stronger combatants. Yet again, it seems that Glomril could not hold his own in a fight, becoming swiftly surrounded and taking several vicious blows from the dwarves’ maces. Stiffleg, on the other hand, held his own against the rage drake, eventually bringing it a swift death beneath the head of his hammer.
I must say, though I do not know much about the priestess Elleni, she certainly can hold her own in battle. As Altermira looked to be ready to fall beneath the dwarves’ blows, she waded through the battlefield with her halberd ready to smite, bringing both healing and divine wrath upon our foes. Impressive, to say the least.
She almost reminds me of Caylen…almost. She doesn’t have the grace, the keen elven intellect, the sardonic sense of humor. Still, seeing Elleni in action brings back…memories.
As you can imagine, the battle was soon won, and we proceeded into the ruins. It remains to be seen what comes next.
The ringing steel of our new-formed last battle was fresh in our ears, when out of nowhere, a strange tiefling appeared! I was shocked, to say the least. Elenni was still tending to Altemira's wounds as the spectral figure approached, and we had only recently regrouped with Morthos, who had been fighting off one of the brigands single-handedly along the road.
The figure, clad in the robes of an ancient druidic order, thanked us for eliminating the pestilence of the brigands and offered a grand reward. Being enterprising, and foolish, we quickly took him up on his offer.
After seeing his idea of a reward, we perhaps should have reconsidered.
Immediately, we were blasted with light and teleported into a dim pit, filled with bones and detritus of long-dead prisoners. As we gathered our bearings and I conjured a mystic lantern, my compatriots noticed a rustling in amongst the fallen bones. Swiftly, we drew weapons, and faced the creatures, which emerged from the corpses as massive worm-like beings, fangs dripping with venom.
Seeking the high ground, I summoned the swiftness of Ras Shamra's lightning and teleported outside of the pit, only to find myself with a new problem; a massive, two-headed ettin, bearing down on me with what could only be described as a tree-trunk. While my comrades fought on in the pit, I conjured a massive hand made of ice, but it served only to slow the creature as it bore down on me.
Desperate, I pulled forth the eldritch thunders within my staff and knocked the creature to the ground, but it seemed only further enraged as it arose and pursued me, trying to knock me back into the pit. However, as I ran around the edge of the pit, I found myself in a unique position; with a mighty chant to Ras Shamra, I called forth the rage of the Walker in the Waste, summoning a pounding blizzard atop the worm-things, the ettin, and myself. Unfortunately, the worms were all but unfazed by the blast, and the ettin merely grew angrier and slashed at me with his massive club, knocking me back down below.
I can remember scant bits only from this point forward, as when I fell into the pit, the vestiges of my summoned storm drew me past the point of consciousness. I recall small images? Elleni calling forth the Raven Queen to heal us all, our allies screaming for aid as their abilities ran short, Stiffleg grappling with the creature atop the edge of the pit, the laughter of the ettin as we sought to free ourselves.
After a titanic battle, we eventually proved triumphant. The echoes of the ettin's laughter still echoes in my deepest nightmares. It speaks with the voice of the Walker in the Waste, telling me of the encroaching ice yet to come. Ras Shamra's storm is silent within these dungeon walls, and I have no way to foretell the future from in this dank pit.
We took our rest in a small alcove, being world-weary and brought nearly to the breaking point. We found some small recompense for our pain in a magic sword and a strange orb found in a bag. I recognized it as some arcane foci, but Altemira took it immediately into her custody. Strange, but the thing seemed to be almost sentient unheard of in the modern era.
I suppose we shall seek an exit upon our awakening. I merely hope that the storm has not finally reached us.
Awakening in the dank pit, our miserably sore band was immediately confronted with a quandary. Where to go from here? Which direction? Quite literally, the pit in which we landed stood at a crossroads of two major hallways, and we had no indication of which way to go. Altemira’s orb, bearing the visage of the eladrin head, fell strangely silent, not responding to her calls.
For lack of a better direction, we headed to the south, towards the sound of some running water. I had imagined that some underground tunnel might lead out of this accursed place. A solid deduction, under normal circumstances, but here? Hardly. We pressed on, into a room filled with rushing water knee high, filled with more of the worm-like creatures we fought while being assailed in the pit by the ettin.
Stiffleg immediately drew to the fore, followed by Elleni, who drew forth a blast of divine light. Glomril let loose with his hand crossbow, piercing its hide dreadfully, while I carefully stepped around the group and unleashed Ras Shamra’s wrath through blasts of lightning and of scathing hail, dramatically injuring one of the foul beasts. The battle swung quickly in our favor, and we began to wade through the tidal pool to pursue the fiends as they retreated. That was our biggest mistake.
Stepping forward into the room, the ground beneath me fell out with a rush of water and vacuum. I felt myself being pulled through the darkness—some contraption below the room sucking me down—only to be spat out, coughing up brackish water, on the far side of the room and surrounded by two of the worm-fiends.
I did my best to fend off the creatures by myself, but was nearly doubled over from the water in my lungs and nearly fell beneath those creatures’ claws. It was only the pipe system that saved me, as it pulled me back underneath the waters and away from their claws, long enough to gain my bearings and to ride the unseen lightnings to a nearby dry platform.
Above the carnage, I was able to lay waste to our foes and blaze a path for the others to follow through the pool. Unfortunately, several of my new comrades also fell to the vicious ploy, including Altemira, who lay in worse straights than I. However, thanks to Morthos’ well-timed archery skills and my own arcane talents, we freed her up for long enough to join me atop the platform, where she rained down eldritch power upon the creatures.
One of the worms escaped, but by that point we were so drenched and battle-fatigued, that we cared not. Instead, our interest lay at the top of the platform I had found, which held a small, walled-off chamber. As we investigated, the chamber seemed to have a mysterious statue within, which radiated magical energy. However, the statue seemed to have no function, so we merely left it be.
The problem remained, though, that the tidal-pool trap was still in effect. The lock-smith, Glomril, seemed to have no clue of how to disarm the effect, and any arcane wrath I visited upon the devices would have only resulted in the traps’ continual operation. As such, I was struck by sheer genius. Pulling the door of the small chamber from its hinges, I placed it over the section of floor near the platform which I knew to hold a trap. Fitting over the platform, I merely walked across unscathed, as the suction pulled at the bottom of the door, and not myself. Following suit, my comrades pushed on, towards the east.
We were surprised to see, though, a garrison of human guards in the next hallway, behind a massive blockade of boxes and barrels. With bows drawn, their commander asked us to put down our weapons, and asked us our business. After some hesitance, we complied, and they dispatched a messenger to their leader.
Some time later, the messenger returned and we were instructed to pass through a secret door near to our position. We did so, only to find ourselves in a tiny chamber…radiating heat and gas! I was prepared to bolt for the safety of the hallway, when the door on the far side swung open and we were permitted to exit. No doubt that some treachery was afoot, as we emerged into a blank hallway. No leader, no guards…no one.
We continued through passage, ever on-edge, only to pass through a disused shrine to a series of gods. While several of the others stumbled over their names, I knew them all too well—Bahamut, Kord, and Moradin. While I have no qualms with the Lord of Dwarves, my experiences with priests of Kord and Bahamut have been nothing short of arrogant blowhards and pompous, self-aggrandizing paladins, respectively. I ignored the statues and pressed onward.
Our passage encountered several pitfalls, as we struggled to open several doors in the passageway we followed. As such, it became something of a game to us, to see who could blow down the door with the most force. I must confess, I found myself almost flirting with Elleni in this regard—when she struggled to kick the door in on her turn, I endeavored to show her up, as only an arcane master can.
Calling forth the thunders of Ras Shamra, in this case, was disastrous.
The door before us blew back upon its hinges, splintering into hundreds of shards. And the guards behind it? Without question or hesitation, they let loose a volley of arrows, piercing my chest several times. I fell back with a gasp and our group leaped to my defense.
That is, most of our group. As the treacherous guards turned on us, so too did Stiffleg and Morthos turn tail, simply walking away as we fought for our very lives. I cursed them under my breath as I called upon Ras Shamra’s flail—a ball of lightning that hammered our foes. However, the worst was yet upon us: the archers’ leader emerged, a massive dragonborn warrior whose sword bit like the fangs of the Waste-Walker himself. And more, only as the dragonborn finally fell, a were-creature emerged from another room, only to ravage us further.
At this point, I find myself forced to admit my own failings. Coughing up blood, and faced with death on the point of the dragonborn’s sword, I called upon one of my last spells: the Talons of Ithaqua. I summoned into being a massive icy hand, which grasped the scaly one and began to crush him, as I fled screaming down the hall. The Talons bought me enough time to run into our traitorous comrade, Morthos, who sauntered back and, scornfully, offered me first aid.
Slowly, slowly, we beat back the archers and their leader, and focused our attention to the were-creature. By this point, Altemira had long since fallen, and Glomril was next en route to the Eternal Mountain. Elleni, the injured Glomril, and I were standing near-alone against the powerful creature. I must say, I was wrong in my assessment of Glomril earlier. While uncouth and uncultured still, his bravery is without peer—facing down hideous odds with only his dagger and hand crossbow.
Using the last of her healing energies, Elleni managed to raise up Altemira, while I bent the Talons to my will, crushing the dragonborn in jagged shards of ice, then turning them on the were-creature. Stiffleg, seeing our plight, relented, charging into battle to defend us against the were-creature. I can say little of the same about Morthos, who hung back, merely watching the carnage.
Eventually, the were-creature fled beneath our focused attacks. The blood of so many soldiers, and our own, coated the stone walls and floor like so much wet paint. Glomril is still comatose as I write this—no healing magic has been able to help him yet. I do not know whether he will live or die.
It storms outside these walls. I can feel it now. We stand here at the breaking point, betrayed by comrades and all but decimated by our foes. The Walker in the Waste lurks around each corner, and no wind, nor rain, nor thunderous wave will hold his wrath from us now. I fear the future.
It is cold here in this prison-tomb. I shake with rage at our betrayal. I miss Caylen…but that hardly matters any more.
At last, the storm is upon us. I feel it now, raging outside this infernal tomb. And with it, the doom of the Walker in the Waste stands ready to consume us, here, where the Great Eye of Ras Shamra is blind to our plight.
Having rested fitfully in a nearby chamber following our titanic battle, our meager band nearly came to blows over some of their recent actions. The treachery and underhandedness of Stiffleg and Morthos still burns within me like the Great Eye’s storm-blasts, but their comeuppance was yet to come. Altemira had snuck off, while we bickered like children, consulting with the mysterious orb she had picked up upon our entrance to this hellish prison. I know little of what she learned from it, save that the tiefling druid that first imprisoned us seemed to have had some pact-gone-awry with one of the Lords of the Nine Burning Hells—probably Glasya, the fetid spawn of Asmodeus himself.
When Altemira had returned, we set off once more, grumbling to one another of our combined failings. We soon found ourselves no longer in simply a block dungeon, but rather a thick jungle environment, complete with choking weeds and massive towering bushes.
It was here that the storm broke upon us. Creatures—more plant than living—flitted amongst the foliage, tearing into us like the very talons of Ithaqua himself. Disoriented and separated—I had followed Altemira and Elleni, being the only two I fully trusted—we were quick fodder for the creatures’ pack tactics and swiftly overwhelmed. The creatures seemed to be everywhere, ripping and reaving through us like so much cloth or paper. I found no room with which to unleash the living storm, and was forced to settle on my most basic incantations. While they were up to the deadly challenge, our party was not.
Direly weakened, we made our way to another block hallway, tossing torches behind us, setting the jungle aflame. With a blazing inferno at our backs, the storm undoubtedly raged outside—our doom was sealed: ahead of us lay another section of forest, with two more massive plant-creatures, along with ferocious bear servitors, ready to maul any who came near.
Stiffleg took the fore, noting a nearby alcove in which we could hide. We quickly took to it, but it was to no avail. The only door to the tiny alcove was surrounded by the creatures and we were overwhelmed. One of the creatures, screaming praises to one of the more hideous primordials, filled the room the poisonous spores, nearly felling most of us. Blows from its massive treant companion did the job next—Stiffleg fell first, then beauteous Elleni. Altemira attempted to escape, calling upon the orb’s power and becoming invisible, but the magic failed her as she, too, succumbed to the spores. Treacherous Morthos fell last, silently and stoically.
I bear no shame in admitting that I fled. As my compatriots fell around me, I rode Ras Shamra’s lightning chariot outside of our spore-filled deathtrap and ran back through the flaming inferno, hoping that the plant creatures would not follow me through such a place. I am more shamed to say that I left Glomril cowering behind the fallen bodies of our comrades, as the creatures dragged them off for purposes unknown.
Glomril, luckily, escaped alive. We have barricaded ourselves here, in the campsite where we had fought the humans and the were-creature, in the hopes of recovery. I do not know of the true fates of the others—I know they have died, but they deserve better than to be the fodder of base forest creatures.
I know now, for certain, that this blasted arena could be nothing other than a place of perdition, set aside for those who have corrupted the wishes of the primordials. Such vile druids will not be permitted to stain our world any longer. Here, in our makeshift bunker, Glomril and I have teamed together and refined our abilities to better work together. While I am loathe to turn my arcane mastery from Ras Shamra’s sweeping flail, I find that one of his compatriots—fiery Ben-Hadar—may bring me solace in this place. Further, I have begun to study the construction of this Abyssal place, and I may be able to exploit its secrets for a tactical advantage against our foes.
I am given hope in one other slim margin, simultaneously. While I can feel that the storm has passed—and once again, I have escaped the wrath of the Walker in the Waste—I know now that my compatriots, too, can survive. Glomril is living testament to this. Caylen may yet live, somewhere….if I ever can escape this foul druidic tenement, I will find her.
And on that day, I will say my final incantations, commend my fallen comrades to the sea, and be absolved of the guilt of their deaths. Until then, there is but vengeance for their untimely passing, and the fury of the unrelenting storm awaiting those responsible.
I must admit, I have not even touched this journal in…by the Great Eye, it must be at least six weeks by now. Admittedly, I have been more than busy, securing the very survival of Glomril and myself in this wretched prison, though each time I had even seen this book, my tears welled up with mournful rage.
After our allies fell, six weeks ago, Glomril and I beat a hasty retreat back to the room where we defeated the dragonborn captain and his lackies. The stone floors there were little solace, as they held the smoke of the raging inferno behind us like a sponge. I do not believe that we complained at the time—that fire may have been the only thing that saved our lives against the plant creatures.
Since then we have holed up here like rats amongst the wreckage of a great ship. There is no need to eat in this place, so starvation has not been a problem. And, since we had cleared out the massive lizard-folk while Elleni and the rest were alive, the water-pipe room has run clear and cool. Avoiding the remaining crossbowmen and the like has been difficult, but there has been no sign of the lycanthrope whatsoever. The idea of facing down that creature with only Glomril by my side still shakes me to my very core.
We have been, however, not alone in this place. Making regular excursions to the pit of our first entrance, we have found several new prisoners, fresh from Winterbalm. Farmers, mostly, we have equipped them with whatever we have been able to find suitable as weapons—clubs and crude spears, for the most part, though a few are more apt with some of the crossbows and the like left behind by the dragonborn we defeated. Jim Bob, a boorish farmer, has become something of our lieutenant, and is quite handy with a shillelagh.
After a few weeks, we were able to make a few exploratory forays into the ensorcelled region with the plant creatures. Using an incantation to Ben-Hadar, Ras Shamra’s cousin and Sovereign of Consuming Flame, we have been able to entirely clear out one room, while sending a potent message to the plant creatures that we will not surrender to them.
I feel as though I have becoming quite grim and fatalistic in recent days. Little amusement is to be found here, and we have become so focused on only our own survival that paranoia sets in easily. And it was because of that paranoia that I very nearly turned away what might be my only way to escape this infernal gulag.
Going about our rounds once more, we were shocked to see four heavily armed and armoured dragonborn arrive in the Pit of Hateful Welcome. Knowing our prior relations with dragonborn, we immediately leapt to the defensive, surrounding the pit and keeping them at bay, while we interrogated them.
It seemed that they were four scions of a long-since exiled house from the far-off city of Mousillon. I had been to Mousillon before, and found the place to be an indulgent, decadent place, rife with the stink of huddled masses. I informed them of such, and while they seemed to take offense (no doubts, there), they simultaneously seemed more confused about their current situation than anything else.
We debriefed them slightly on the situation—the nature of this place, its corrupted druidic ruler, and the hazards within—though they merely bragged on about the honor and glory to be had. I know better, firsthand.
All of this was hardly a surprise. As soon as the quartet arrived, it was easy to tell that two of them were among the priesthood of Kord, and a third bore his heraldry like a whore bears makeup. The fourth spoke little and was unadorned, yet just as heavily armored.
As Jim Bob went (several times) to retrieve the extensible ladder to haul the group out of the pit, we reached a negotiated settlement. Glomril and I informed them as to the dangers that lay beyond what the others had been calling “The Scorched Room.” If they were to help us in defeating the wretched plant creatures and wreaking vengeance upon them, we would grant them the safety and security of our camp.
Introductions abounded: the two Kord-worshippers were Athos and Aramis, a priest and a paladin, while the one bound in heraldry was a wartime commander known as D’Artagnan. The quiet one, who bore a massive two-handed hammer, was a warrior named Porthos.
We set out for The Scorched Room with trepidation, as the Fiery Orb of Ben-Hadar led the way. Crossing that rubble, I nearly choked on my own bile, remembering the atrocities set down before. The storms of Ithaqua raged through my mind, disrupting the perfect lightning of Ras Shamra. Elleni, Altemira…Caylen. Their ghosts sat uneasy upon my shoulders, as we moved into the grassy knoll where our last stand was made.
Fittingly enough, battle was joined. The treant creature and its misshapen druidic companion, along with another vine-covered canine and a dire bear, were already in wait.
I must say, I was impressed by the dragonborn cavaliers’ skill with the blade. I had seen many combats, back in my mercenary days, where raw recruits would simply abandon their posts in panic. These? No such lack of discipline. They held the line against the creatures with admirable fortitude.
Even as the creatures moved to surround us, and spray us with their deadly spores and poison from the obelisks that surrounded the battlefield, their resolve held, and I was able to ride Ras Shamra’s chariot once more to an open spot, from which I could direct my spells. The bear fell first, thanks to Glomril’s piercing dagger and the blow of Aramis’ spiked chain.
Porthos and D’Artagnan held off the massive treant, while Aramis moved to join Athos in cutting down the corrupted druid. Safely within their ranks, I was able to unleash the fullest of my arcane potential.
Magic Missile is a spell every mage knows. It is one of the most simplistic incantations, which apprentices master within weeks of their first training. However, many mages hold it dear within their spellbook for its pure functionality—its ‘no-nonsense approach’ to a problem.
This lowly spell served as the outlet of my rage as the treant-creature—it, which had slain so many of us—staggered under the blows of Porthos’ hammer and D’Artagnan’s blade. Faces flashed before my eyes like ball lightning: Caylen, Elleni, Altemira.... I let loose the spell with a massive cry. It slammed into the beast, splintering it into thousands of fragments.
I fell to my knees in exhaustion. The group secured the room and, in a moment of panic, we were unable to find Glomril. Luckily, we found him exploring a nearby alcove, relatively unharmed. However, we found neither our fallen comrades, nor the orb that Altemira carried—the search for them, as such, goes on.
But, with a victory behind us, my thirst for vengeance has been appeased. We retired back to our quarters, with a delectable meal of bear yet to come. With a new alliance forged, we may just weather this storm.
Since the arrival of the dragonborn warriors, our omnipresent need for security has seemed to be lessening by the day. Yet still, I find myself intensely concerned for those around us as we proceed deeper and deeper into this dungeon, in search of an exit.
However, even with their armored might, I have been wondering about the possibilities of moving forward in this labyrinth. Corrupted druids or no, if we cannot make our way past the next series of chambers, all will be for naught.
It is because of this that the Orb of Altemira has pressed itself into my conscious thoughts with each passing second. There is no way for us to survive this maze without some form of guidance, and Altemira’s mysterious orb seems to have more answers than she had let on. As such, I found myself with the twofold goals of both reclaiming my fallen comrades’ bodies, as well as retrieving the orb. Glomril has been skeptical thusfar, and the dragonborn ambivalent…but my insistence remains.
As such, we began to make our way through The Scorched Room, into the chambers beyond, with some degree of trepidations. As Glomril and I explained the importance of the orb to Aramis, who listened intently, we passed through the ruins of the druidic chamber, searching over it once more for valuables. Luckily enough, we did stumble across something of use—an enchanted shield, buried in some rubble in a corner room. Further, we noticed that the obelisks and altar, wielded by the strange plant-creatures we had fought previously, were swiftly crumbling to naught but ash.
I have been contemplating several theories regarding this phenomenon since observing it, and have come to something of a conclusion. The environs that each creature inhabits, after some time, begin to transform into their “most suitable” habitat—for civilized creatures such as ourselves (and the warriors we slew to take this place from them), we are granted stone and mortar. The belligerent tree-folk, similarly, gain druidic monoliths and sentient trees. When the creatures within the environ die, so follows their environment.
We gave thought to this, as we entered the next room, a sandy, sloping arena, with a piping satyr dancing merrily about the top. I know all too well about satyrs—they are often found with druids and their leafy cohorts, and can beguile a man with their piping. Warning our league of treachery, we questioned the creature.
It seemed that the creature wanted nothing more than to “play a game”…though it would not divulge rules, nor pieces, aside from for us to “begin at the bottom of the pit.” Wary, but seeking answers, I slid in and began to probe the sandy earth there with my staff.
At once, the mounds began filling with stinging insects and scarab beetles, which congealed into elemental shapes. Four such creatures emerged, as my comrades leapt into action. Nearly surrounded by four of them, I summoned Ras Shamra’s chariot once more to lead me to safety, then unleashed the Twin Storms upon the creatures. Both Ithaqua’s Tempest and Ras Shamra’s Flail hammered the creatures, though the lightning seemed to heal the swarm somewhat, and I was loathe to use it again throughout the battle.
Treachery afoot, D’Artagnan leapt to assail the satyr, who merely cried out and retreated, claiming that combat was just a part of the game. The remaining dragonborn carefully circled the pit, ready to engage the creatures with blade and breath.
We had not banked on the creatures’ great reach, though—using tendrils made of living insects, they reached for Porthos and pulled him into the seething mass of vermin. Glomril and Athos worked desperately to free him, while D’Artagnan and Aramis held off the others. I worked my spells behind them, summoning once more the Talons of Ithaqua. Holding down the creatures, the Talons raked across them mercilessly, reaving them with the ill winds of the Walker in the Waste.
The battle was a short, yet brutal one, as Porthos bore the brunt of the creatures’ wrath and emerged with his armor ripped asunder and thousands of gaping wounds covering his scaled body. As the last churning mass fell beneath our might, we leapt to capture the satyr, who sought to flee. Between the Rending Talons and Aramis’ dreadful mien, we swiftly divulged the truth from the creature.
It seemed that the sandy pit was, in fact, a refuse ground for the plant creatures, and he was but a scavenger upon their waste. He had seen the plant creatures toss the defiled remains of our fallen comrades in this place, along with their equipment! Eagerly, we began digging, unearthing enchanted armor, shields, weapons, and other tools, along with the bones of our fallen comrades.
Only two things were missing, and both worry me greatly. First, the orb was nowhere to be found. Presumably, another faction within this dungeon knows its power, and now holds it, while we are left to recover it posthaste. But more worrisome yet, the remains of the traitor Morthos were nowhere to be found. No doubt remains, now—he was assuredly in league with the corrupted druidic warden in this place, and sought only to lead us to our doom. As such, he has been raised as some foul necromantic experiment. When we see him again—and we will see him again—I will make all efforts to annihilate his foulness.
With the scavenged gear in hand, we quickly beat back to our headquarters to share the wealth with our Winterbalm defenders. I must say, though they may be only farmers, their progress in martial prowess has been quite astounding. I’ve taken two such individuals under my wing—Jim Bob, my lieutenant, has become something of a stealth operative, surveying our borders with no small amount of discretion. The other, a young woman named Melinda (known to some as Mindi), who has taken to the teachings we have provided of Ras Shamra and, more recently, Ben Hadar. In recent days, Melinda has found herself with newfound abilities to knit wounds and bring down Ben Hadar’s holy fire.
It seems that our goal for the next few days is quite clear. Execution, now, is of the utmost import.