Fallenboughs

Corin weighs in, Shroom Dragon knocked out
The Ups and Downs of the Fortress Quarter

Aww man, I guess it’s my turn to put down some notes. There are a lot of them.

We made it back to Nag’Slaugh safely enough, but she won’t be ready to leave for four more days. Most of us wanted to spend the time in different ways, but she offered us a lot of money for a complete map of the city. That got Oz all excited, and we didn’t have the heart to tell him no.

We took kind of a round-about way, but it was for the best. We went back to the lake and then paddled over to the Fortress Quarter. We didn’t really search through many of the buildings, and instead headed straight for the keep. We did find some mushroom men, definitely feral, and beat them until they couldn’t stand up anymore.

Oops, I skipped a part.

We’ve learned that the Mir-tul empire is expanding into the fortress quarter, and we’re not sure we like the sound of that. On the one hand, the more they spread the easier it will be to get goods and services, but the more likely it is that we will be spotted and guards sic’ed on us. We talked about it, and decided that we would try to slow down their expansion.

With that in mind, we’re trying to be careful when we fight. We left the mushroom men alive so that they could hinder the Mir-tul. We know where they are now, and how to avoid them. The Mir-tul don’t.

We also spotted one patrol and attacked them. Their use of the undead seems to help the shadow encroachment grow, so I think that the nature spirits promote their destruction, but it is hard for me to just ask them. Nesit wants to wipe them all out, but these are still people that we are killing. Maybe if we drive the Mir-a-tus Annori (better ask Oz how that one’s spelled) out, things would calm down. As it was, we buried them under a building, so they will never be found.

We also met a tribe of small goblins that infest the quarter. They dig small warrens to avoid what we’ve started calling ‘the Shroom Dragon’. They are friendly enough, more focused on survival that pestering us, so we came up with a few ideas. The goblins helped show us shortcuts through the quarter, and we -will-would fight the shroom dragon for them. Up top, at the keep, we found a tribe of Orcs that have set up camp there. For the first time, we had an audience for one of our fights. I painted up Dast with some nature symbols, and then we fought the dragon. He went down, hard, and I activated the magic in the berry juice. Dast was able to talk to the shroom dragon and tell it that the Fortress quarter was our territory now, and he would need to hunt in the Shade quarter. I think he understood, then went to sleep it off.

We also went to convince the Orcs to do the same. Pretty soon the Mir’tul will have their hands busy, I think. We might come back to the Fortress quarter later, as there are probably lots of banks and dungeons and collapsed forts that we could explore, but now we need to pack up and head to the Industrial quarter, where we can finish mapping this city.

We have three days of food left, and then we need to hurry back to Nag’Slaugh and escape this city. I have a feeling that we will be back, though.

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Ozthunwold's Chronicles: Mage College Edition
Pretend I was swift enough to post this before the previous one

(In an elegant and precise hand)

Herein lies the chronicle of Ozthumwold Brondt, a wizard, concerning the heroic deeds and actions undertaken by a party of heroes; Ozthumwold, Corin, Lee, Nezit and Dast (a ghost).

We continued our search in what appeared to once have been the servants sleeping quarters. Bunks were still arrayed in tidy rows, undisturbed by the intervening long years. Our comestibles running low, we each undertook a search of the room. Lee demonstrated his swift fingers in opening long abandoned chests and a keen insight into the human condition, finding materials both occult and profoundly educational secreted away centuries ago.

We then considered our options to gain access to the library. The apparition had told us that servants would often deliver materials and messages to the mages in the library and so we settled upon a message to be delivered on behalf of Mikel Oakenheart. I wrote out a note concerning the 3rd derivative of the prime occidental symbol set while Lee carved a seal to set the illusion out of a tuber. Our ruse set, we followed the servant’s corridor to the library exit. Corin noted that it would be most logical for silver-tongued Dast to offer the scroll to the magic mouth, insurance against the hint of deception. Dast approached the magic mouth and found that servants could only enter the library when accompanied by a member of the since departed staff. As we searched the library vestibule for any item which might allow us access I approached the magic mouth to try and reason with it. In the course of my vain attempts, the mouth offered me an examination to become a librarian’s aide!

We were soon transported to a room with a series of shining orbs and large cubes which blocked advancement. There were two chalices in the room which had to be brought out to pass the examination. The orbs allowed the possessor to shift to a different space, leaving the orb in a contra-location. We quickly put our heads together and with great alacrity solved the puzzle set out before us.

Entering the library, we could immediately see that things were amiss. Ominous sounds emanated from the chamber, the sound of cracking leather and liquid shadow. The shelves of books extended on either side high into the shadows above. Dimly we could make out two large fists composed of viscous shadow, deeper into the library stood an imposing figure, pulsating with a sentient darkness.

From all around us were attacked by tomes come to life. The fists of shadow pummeled our party and pools of living darkness devoured our sight. Corin proved to be a fearsome foe, leaping from ground to high and assaulting the interlopers. I summoned the elements to our aide as Nesit called down the wrath of Pelor. Lee danced a turn of violence as Dast played battle hymns to inspire our courage and bring despair to the wicked.

Our enemies defeated, we set to learning what could be learnt from the Grand Library. Volumes concerning rituals and magical theory were abundant as were careful histories of the land. Many hours were spent in study, some going without rest or sustenance in the name of learning.

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Finishing up the mage college
And some thoughts from Corin

What a day.

Honestly, we’d planned on making it through the rest of the college in one long go, no matter if it meant going through the night and into the next day. When we realized that we had enough food and a safe spot to rest in the Library, it was a huge load off of our shoulders. Except for Ozthenwald, who stayed up all night reading. I’m not sure that was the best idea, but it seemed to be what he wanted. He said it was, anyhow. He was a bit scary the next morning, so I’d rather not wonder about keeping him up two nights in a row.

We got up, cleaned up, and were able to make it to the Teacher’s lounge. Since we got the Servant’s ring, it has been easy to get everywhere. I guess it wouldn’t be so easy if actual people were still around, but we don’t have to worry about that. This place has been a bit depressing, but since we’ve explored so much of it, I think we’re all more relaxed about the decay and the emptiness. Oh, right, the Teacher’s lounge was also full of decay and moldering furniture, but a couple things were still intact. We found a number of game sets that were still good, which we might sell or keep to pass the time. Maybe we’ll sell the nice ones and get some basic ones for when we’re waiting out the winter storms. We also found a bunch of crystal goblets, and Lee found enough wood, stuffing, and a box to make a carrying case for them. It’s pretty heavy, so I made him carry it, but hopefully they are worth a lot. I was a bit disappointed in what we’d found, but there was more to come.

The next door led to the teacher’s residences. This door seemed a little… off, and just opened right up without asking odd questions or anything. He sounded like someone who’d been hit in the head really hard, but we didn’t want to question our luck too much. The residences had quite a bit of jewelry, some more of the cards with the pretty ladies on them, and a book that Oz grabbed. What was really neat was that we found a big portal room! It looks like this school used to connect to all the cities before they Fell, but most of them don’t work now. It would be nice if we could repair them, and would make getting around the city much easier, but Oz says it would take weeks of work. If we could find the other ends of the portals, though, it would probably make the job a lot easier. We copied down a map of the locations, and will keep our eyes peeled for them as we travel through the other quarters.

The last portal was the most interesting. It led to a records room. Massive cabinets filled the space, and piles of papers made for quite a hazard getting around. This wasn’t as interesting as the Library, as I didn’t really care about 400 year old book reports, but it did have records of Warforged created at the college, as well as a big glowing orb that worked as a system for controlling the doors of the college. Oz said that the doors aren’t actually smart, they are just like puppets controlled from the orb. The orb isn’t smart, either, it just uses very simple logic and step-by-step instructions to decide what to do. That explains why it was easy to fool the doors in some ways, but not in others. When we asked them things they weren’t ready for, they got confused, since the instructions hadn’t been written to handle a ghost, or 300 years of idleness. The one door that seemed dumb didn’t have many of the Orb’s energy spent on it, so it was super simple.

I suggested trying to get into the power source for the college, but the control Orb said some strange things. I think the thing that powers the college is very far away, and might be moving around high above the world. Seems strange, but I guess that was the way to keep it safe. We gave up on that, but with a little work, we got the control Orb to turn the Servant’s ring into a Faculty ring, so we shouldn’t have any trouble getting around the place from now on. I suppose that finished our trip to the college. We grabbed Forty-One from the entrance and headed outside.

After we made it back to the Bridge quarter, things got a bit rough. A couple Kenku were fighting a big flying snake that shot out sparks, trying to keep it away from their hoard, but they just pissed it off. It killed all but one of them, and then set into us. It was… tough. Sharp fins lashed out at us, the head spat big gobs of lightning everywhere, and just when you thought you’d had enough, BAM! Tail to the face. I managed to distract it long enough to get some good hits in, and to help Lee get a couple good blows, but it smashed me so hard that I could taste blood in my mouth. Even with the help of Dast trying to keep my spirits up, it shocked me so hard that my jaw still aches. I had to hide in a broken tower while they finished it off.

Things felt very strange, while I was hiding. I could feel the Wyld boiling up inside me, telling me to let it out and it would heal me. Even when Nessit was bandaging me up, afterwards I could feel how pointless it was. I talked to the others about it, but I don’t think they understood. Ana might, but she sounds sad, too. I think the Elves are not very nice to her people, and that doesn’t seem right. Ana is risking her life for people she doesn’t even know. She did say that she’d heard of other people like me, which made me feel a bit better. I’d like to meet one of them.

The Kenku hoard was full of pots and pans, but there was also a giant tray made of silver in the pile, and some gold jewelry! It was more money than I’d seen in my entire life, which felt a bit weird. When we return home, things will be very different. Oz doesn’t care, and never wants to go back to the village, but I want to talk to my parents and Lee wants to rescue his sister. We figure we have about ten months before they put her in a box and send her into the city to die. Oz may not care about the villages, but he’s willing to learn more about why they kill those touched by the encroachment. I guess they would call it ‘leave to die’, but when you send a youth, barely an adult, down a river into a city full of monsters and goblins, it might as well be murder. We got lucky, and I want to make sure that we don’t forget that. Maybe, when we know more, we can make a change. Oz is right about one thing, though, I don’t think the villages will ever be home, again.

Sorry this has been so mopey. Things did get better after that. We headed back to Coop’s tower, dropped off Forty-One, and had some nice chats with the other War-Forged. Annie wants to have more space to plant, so I’m going to chisel out some spots for support beams, and she can build some small garden platforms. The others unwound in their own way.

We’re not totally set on it, but I think that, tomorrow, we will head back to Nag’slaugh, trade away the stuff we found at the college, and then think about our plans from there. Oz wants to map the city, Lee wants to explore, I want to find the other ends of the portal system, and we’re all trying to get out of the city to make it to the Bough. I’m not sure what Dast wants, but I think he’s starting to think about it.

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Lee Extols Upon his Hatred of Laundry

I should have known that the last room for Wizarding trials wouldn’t be easy. Especially with me not being a wizard. Every portion of my buried diary says there are no short-cuts for this sort of thing.

Of course, Oz keeps saying there are. And, to be honest, he’s proof of it. How else can anyone explain his throwing about fire and thunder when just weeks ago he had none of that?

And thunder was what we were facing when the blinding light of the teleport circle faded. A branching corridor that ran beneath a pair of bulbous lightning spheres. Seeing the crackling purple strokes made me remember Miller’s field back home and how the big oak there was split and shattered by a bolt during a bad storm a few years back. It didn’t die; but it didn’t drop many acorns afterward either.

To make matters worse, there were these… things off to the right, past some wavy little hills and beside this weird obelisk. Some of them were swirls of air and dust while others of them were burning suits of armor. And then they started coming right for us, fast. Thankfully Corrin shook off the sight, stepped up and put himself in a bottleneck with lightning on one side and that roiling earth on the other.

He had it all under control too, right up until Dast ran over. I mean, ghosts don’t run, do they? But here Dast came, shouting and singing or something and the earth all but sat up and slapped him down. Kind of funny, but then the shard spirit things swept in and it wasn’t so funny anymore. Well, just a little maybe.

I skirted round the side while Corrin dispersed the flying dust swirls, boy was that hill pissed at me just being there, and got in a few good licks on what Oz was calling minor elementals. Whatever, they fell apart when I stabbed them. There was a bigger one though, a whole pile of shards that didn’t shatter when Corrin thrust his spear into it and slammed the thing to the ground.

Doesn’t matter. Everything has a heart of some kind. Rose-Lions, Goblin lions. Goblins. They all take their last nap once you find what’s pumping. Easiest way to do that, is make it bleed or whatever. Then you can tell if its near or not by how fast the blood drips out.

I was rushing round thing when it began to sing. Not like Dast does neither, it was shrieking and wailing. Roriel Ganhamp once screamed almost as loud because of this frog I…. I couldn’t see anything cause the world went tumbling and my feet went with it when something slammed into the back of my head. I heard the shard thing start to get up. Corrin wasn’t around and so I thrust and stabbed at it as best I could, hit it dead in the chest.

Luckily, that turns out to be where it kept its heart. The thing blew apart but that didn’t stop it shrieking in my ears. It was all I could do to fall against a wall and slide down, put my head between my knees and pray that the agony would end. It did, eventually. If, as Nessy says, that there are gods watching out for us mortals, they must’ve all been having breakfast just then.

By the time I could stand without wobbling, the others had already found some good stuff. That made me proud. Especially because Oz had gotten several steel ingots and these two little fiery elementals that he took for himself. Fine by me. He knows what he’s doing with that, or at least he’s damn good at faking it.

With the last part cleared, we stumbled back into the wizard’s college proper. This time though, we had a plan: Being low of food, and as most of the college was long looted out, we’d have Oz use the servant’s ring we’d found to see if we couldn’t grab some preserved eats that hadn’t been grabbed yet. We had gone only a little ways back down the corridor when this hidden door all of a sudden popped open.

A little commons room waited for us on the other side. This one though, had all its furniture. A few corpses too, but none of them had really been picked over and there was a fine broach on one that I didn’t regret finding. Magic too, or so Oz says. Anyway, we moved on, after I pocketed some of the playing cards, and took the first right.

Laundry. My worst Nightmare. No, seriously. I had four other siblings and two parents besides. Mom would do what she could, until she got distracted or tired. Dad would just be drunk. That left the work to me. Finding soap, doing the scrubbing and totting all that water. Give me a Goblin-Lion any day. At least the fight is over quick.

Here though the Servants had it easy. There were six big tubs filled with perpetually hot water and…moldy, churning clothing. Year and year this must have been going on, just bubbling away. Disgusting.

Then one of the piles of wet rags slopped over the edge, gathered itself up. Everything in the Wizard’s college seemed to do something like that. Makes me afraid to take a piss too close to a wall.

Then another one rose up, and another. Four piles of brown, one of pale yellow and another of jet black. All old clothing come to life and smelling to high heaven too.

“Oz. Use your servants ring.” I suggested. “Command them.”

My pale friend just stared at me for a moment, then turned to the approaching critters and said loudly and flatly. “Stop! I command you!”

Of course they didn’t listen. You’ve got to mean it when you threaten someone and Oz ain’t got an inch of threatening in him unless he’s throwing lightning. He backed off as the first one approached, made straight for him with wet rags snapping. I sliced the Raggle apart before it could so much as flick a towel at Oz, but there were others about and they pounced hard as laundry can.

The stench was awful, like an egg left out in the sun and then forced up your nose. My eyes watered so bad, I could barely see Corrin or Dast lay into the creatures. Oz was throwing swarms of daggers around and the things all came apart pretty quick, except for the particularly nauseating pair of yellow and black. Thankfully, Corrin dealt with the yellowed pile of once elegant cloth by shoving it back into a tub. That kept the stench underwater. Which just left the big dark mound of cloth.

I don’t want to talk about what happened next, except to say it was the worse than my worst laundry day. Hot reeking water in the eyes. Burn marks. Steam in the lungs. It all sucked but we got through it together. We even managed to salvage a few bits of animated cloth, which Dast insisted would be useful. Personally, it just gave me the jitters.

That was that. I felt tired, filthy, hungry and wet, all at once. For a moment, I even wanted to go back home. But that moment passed, and we moved on.

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On making icebergs and beating up dueling instructors
As written by Corin Ranier

I guess it is my turn to write down our story, so I will do my best.

We’ve been doing an awful lot of rafting and poling lately, and I was dead beat. It would have been nice to stay up and listen to the warforged get to know each other, like Oz was able to, but keeping the spirits in line as we crossed the lake really took it out of me. Spirits obey the ancient pacts, but they can get cross over the details. When I held them to task for over an hour, they really made me work for it!

Still, since Lee made the boat and Oz helped a lot with getting in to the magic school, it was the least I could do. I hope the things that I taught Anny made sense. I’ll try to show her more of my nature book when I get a chance.

After we left Coop, who seemed a bit broken up by the whole thing, we knew that we had to finish scouting the mage college. We were, and are, running low on food, so we only have another couple days to finish up. We made a lot of progress, though, so we might be able to succeed.

It looks like there are tests hidden in the college, tests that empower our school rings. One of them was a combat test, where we had to fight a very large warforged who had been left to sit there for a very long time. Dast confused him with some fast talk, which made him pause for a little while, and was able to talkehim into a fight to the knockout rather than a fight to death, and then we pounded the pudding out of him. He was pretty friendly, after that, and is looking forward to leaving the school. It is going to be very nice if we can make (ha!) more friends in this city.

The next lab we explored was full of strange portals. I didn’t really get the trick behind them, but Lee and Oz both caught on immediately. We earned another badge after we found a couple strange spheres that existed with, or beside, the control spheres that made the portals switch destinations. We had to fight a bunch of angry bats in the process, but we made pretty short work of them. I think we are getting the hang of this place, and I’m getting a little more used to my abilities. I still feel the primal urge running alongside my thoughts, like those misty orbs. Oz tried to mash the black orb and the green orb together, but it didn’t work very well. I wonder if I might have better luck?

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The World According to a Network of Magic Mouths

A grouping of freshmen entered the Research Hall, on the business of guest-professor Mikel Oakenheart. Following the instructions of the Research Hall greeting device, they proceeded to use the teleportation circles to reach their destination.

Firstly, they went into the Flora and Fauna Hall, where the effects of arcane energies upon life and the effects of life upon arcane energies are studied in greater detail than at lecture. Regrettably the animal specimens there for research and familiar breeding purposes had been deceased for some time. The vermin who had settled into the area were present, and highly aggressive. The freshmen were adequate to the task of cleansing vermin from the Hall.

Several tools were borrowed, as well as a book that had been previously misplaced from the library.

Once their task was finished they observed the healthy specimen of Quercus Megafloris Arcanus in some detail, noting the broad bark patterns, the boughs’ readiness to accept graftings from other natural trees, and the massive density and strength of the wood. This generous gift from the elves of Ol continues to provide educational opportunities, although the secrets of the propogation of this noble species remain well hidden.

After noting all they could from the specimen without the aid of an instructor, the students returned to the entrance to the Research Hall. From there, they methodically made their way to the Enchantment Hall.

The hall’s illusory walls gave the freshmen some trouble until one of their number managed to open the Instructor’s and Student’s storage, whereupon some directions were found. Such initiative without an instructor present is commendable. Guest-professor Oakenheart is not on campus, and/or is not responding to hails.

Once the directions were found and understood, the students made their way through the Enchantment hall until they found the in-progress Warforged, the work of Professor Ganeoford, master Artificer to the school. When presented with the challenge of six unfinished artifice projects such as these, the new scholarship lads showed commendable initiative and decided as a group to undertake the work themselves.

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Ozthunwald's Latest Account

Herein lies the account of heroic deeds and actions undertaken by Ozthumwold Brondt, a Wizard, Corin, a Warrior, Lee, a Rogue, Nezit, a Cleric and Dazt, a Ghost. Chronicled by Ozthumwold Brondt.

Our time in the shadow quarter had come to an end. The party was set to travel to the Bridge quarter, whose towering eponymous structure loomed in the distance. We took to the boat that Lee had crafted and slowly made our way across central lake, careful not to disturb the crab-men.

As we approached an ancient dock, still in remarkable condition considering ravages of water and weather, we were ambushed by saughogen and a terrible crab-man. Many hurts were given and taken, as our enemies fought with cunning and strength. Several times the party regrouped to push our attackers back into the depths, and finally with one last push we sat upon the field victorious.

Moving quickly to find shelter after our trials, Lee scouted out the building just beyond the landing. It appeared to be a still serviceable structure that once must have served as a tavern, replete with money chest and potent potables. Sadly the beds had long since rotted out, and so the party sought out higher ground to better survey the terrain.

The buildings in this quarter are well built and sturdy against the elements, making the climb to the top of a parapeted tower the work of minutes rather than arduous hours. From there the party took its bearings and located the Mage’s College and its relation to the Great Bridge. Triangulating from our position, we plotted a swift and unobstructed course to the College.

The College itself seemed to float upon the air, well over three times the height of a man, with no visible doors or ladders to avail ourselves of. The party then undertook a search of the area, certain that an entrance of some sort must invariably be found. It was not long when I came upon a strange layout of runes and symbols, which were actually a guide for how to perform a transportation ritual. Precisely following the ritual, the party soon found itself at the entrance of the Mage’s College.

There we were greeted by a Magic Mouth, which challenged us to a puzzle to gain admittance to the College proper. The party quickly used our wits to solve the puzzle and become students of the College, thereby gaining access to its halls.

We then searched the halls, hoping to find the great Library and the treasure trove of ancient and occult knowledge therein. Yet at each turn we were thwarted by more Magic Mouths demanding credentials beyond our possession to gain trespass.

At the present time we are preparing to enter the Research Laboratories, having found the credentials of a Sophomore student and correctly guessed the name of an ancient professor of College. Though I am loathe to resort to trickery and guile to enter, I cannot deny I thirst for the knowledge that might be beyond these doors.

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Ozthunwald's Ongoing Chronicling

Herein lies the account of heroic deeds and actions undertaken by Ozthumwold Brondt, a Wizard, Corin, a Warrior, Lee, a Rogue, Nezit, a Cleric and Dazt, a Ghost. Chronicled by Ozthumwold Brondt.

We awoke in the fortified basement in the evening. The Shadow Quarter continued to pose many difficulties to the party, the first of which was that the primary activity of business commenced after the setting of the sun. We set to disguising ourselves in the way of the locals, dark hair, drab clothing and pale skinned. Each of us, saving for Dazt (a ghost), had taken a healthy color of activity from our time in the Round-About quarter, and so it was imperative that we be well disguised lest the locals believe us to be ‘fae’ touched.
Leaving the relative safety of the basement we set about exploring the quarter. We were each struck by the amount of nocturnal activity, our adventures during the daylight having not prepared us for population in the evening. As we rounded a corner, Anna stopped us to inform us of what she had learnt during her scouting. We quickly saw that the locals did not patrol fastidiously, and were unconcerned with the goings on of the populace in general. There were several Watch Towers in the distance, but they appeared concerned with the conduct of business on the borders rather than the doings on the streets.

After some asking after, the party was presented with the Night Market, located towards the center of the quarter. I was in awe of the sheer number of participants in such a marketplace, with many dozens of merchants and patrons. We broke into two groups to better find less makeshift clothing and accoutrements. Dazt, Lee and Corin took to one side of the Market and Nezit and myself took the other. Quickly Dazt and Lee began bartering with a merchant. It was soon apparent that we had no coin, only jewelry that the merchant could not exchange. He told of a woman named (elven script) Poison Wound who is a money changer and merchant who could offer us assistance.

We proceeded to the Low River to find (elven script) Poison Wound, however the barkeeper therein would only assist us if we performed an errand for him. He had a set of poisons which the local apothecary needed post haste, and so we returned to the Night Market. Finding him at his cart and stall, we espied a man fleeing with purple hair. Upon our entreaties with the apothecary we found that this was the same Necromancer who had attempted to waylay us with his Zombies. He still bore the scars of ice and frost and so still knew our wrath.

Returning to the Low River the bartender gave the party directions to the lair of (elven script) Poison Wound and we made our way to her strong house. We were greeted at the door by an elf with a shock of white hair and dark skin. (elven script) Poison Wound and her associates were, to our surprise, Drow. We were taken to her where Dazt bartered for goods and gold for our jewelery.

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Lee's Adventure Log 2

There’s a lion that has to die. Not an ordinary beast either, but a big diseased bastard that really has it coming. According to Anna, the Goblin-Lion been stalking us in the turnabout quarter from day one, though she’s always led it astray. This time though, it looks like its gotten tired of chewing up gobs from breakfast, lunch and dinner and wants a snack made of real people.

Now I’ve got two beasts under my belt, one literally, so why not one more? Oh, Nessy talks a good game about trying to cure the Lion and make it our friend, but it took him five days just to get that mongrel of his to curl up next to him on cold nights. Nessy would be in the beast’s mouth before he could ask ‘whats wrong with your paw?’

Anna liked the killing idea, difficult as it might be. Gotta like those instincts. Corrin understood too, said something about slaying abhorents or horrendents or whatever. I kinda faded off after he said yes. Oz swung around, as did Dast. Maybe there will be some magic in it or a song for them. Either way, Nessy fell into line and we plotted how best to give the Goblin-Lion a tombstone to play with.

Wouldn’t be easy.

You just don’t lie in wait for a beast that wanders around such a dangerous sprawl of territory. Sooner or later you’ll get pinched by the local gobs or, worse, the beast will surprise you just when you’re thinking to surprise it. If that happened… well, judging from its paw prints, there wouldn’t be enough shreds left of us to fill a thimble.

We rowed back across the lack, being careful not to splash or nothing this time because that attracts the Crawd. Though the crab-things were tasty, we all had our hearts set on bigger game.

Starting off, we had to track it. Sounds easy, what with its tracks being all over the place, but that was just the problem. Whats old, whats new, wheres it going and when is all part of a pattern that Oz and Corrin figured out pretty quick by putting their heads together. Even Anna seemed impressed at what they came up with.

Closer we got though, the harder it was. I kept us out of Goblin hair with a little scout and sneak while Dast spun false echoes to further that end. The ghost can actually be useful when he puts his mind to it. None of this ‘Singing a song of stealth’ crap he likes to throw out.

Crap. That’s what we ended up stumbling into when a sinkhole of the stuff opened up and tossed some of us knee deep in it. Didn’t delay us long though, and we soon came upon a fresh quill.

Yeah, a quill. The lion has quills. What? Think I’d make this up? You take a look at the rose I pulled from my last lion’s tail and tell me they can’t be all porcupine. I mean, why not?

Anyway, we got ahead of it and settled in to ambush. Didn’t have long, the damn thing romps through a forest like a dog through daisies.

Bad news, it smelled us right off and came in charging. Dast answered back with a fierce battle-cry that sang in all my bones and some of my joints. I flicked a rock in on it, smashed damn near its eye but still it sought to savage Corrin. Almost like it hated him for no good reason and liked it that way. All of a sudden it lit up like a summer bonfire when Nessy laid into with Pelor’s frickin’ sunlight. Mainly seemed to piss it off though, and Oz was no help as his thunder-wave rolled off its hide like rain on a toad. I circled round, got in a good dagger lick, but couldn’t find the heart like that book of mine suggested. Thing was just too big and rank and… then it exploded.

Quills. Everywhere. Stabbing my face and hands as I shielded my eyes. A scream of blood poured down, left me blinking and blind as the thing, still alive, bounded off to try and ravage the rest of us.

I heard a grunt as Corrin got back up and barreled after it. More yelling. Another thunderwave. The Goblin-Lion was roaring in rage and all the while Dast’s battle-cry is pumping in my ears. Couldn’t see damn near anything but I went stumbling after it. Heard the steady crack of branches as it and Anna played ‘smack the Ranger’ round a big oak.

Its breath, a reek worse than anything but not hot like it was looking at me. A crunch of soil, those massive paws. Its side was right there in front of me.

My dagger darted forward, I felt the blade slide against its hide, felt it find the notch where muscles met. I pushed with all my might, ignored the quills and drove deep, felt blood gush down my elbow as I gave it the full iron and then some.

The beat of its heart! I could feel it, right through the dagger and I shove, scraped and cut the length of my arm.

It roared, flailed and we both went down. Only I kept breathing afterward.

Lion number three, killed by me!

The others were crowding round by the time I’d pulled my arm back out. Corrin splashed some water on my eyes, enough to clear things up. None of the quills had punctured anything too important, thank Pelor I guess, and I was alright… other than being covered in Lion-gore and that was definitely worth taking a bath for.

We took a while to pull off what part of the hide wasn’t nasty. The mane looks to make an excellent pelt and, as a bonus, there were bits of gold jewelery in its maw and belly. Apparently some wealthy goblin had gotten eaten. Probably as a sacrifice, or so Nessy thought. That didn’t make sense, because why get dressed up to get eaten? I mean, using real gold for that? Gotta be plenty of alternatives.

Anyway, we took our prizes and made our way back to the Shadar-Kai quarter. That meant another boat trip but again, no Crawd. I was still floating from all that happened, a blinded lion-kill and all, that I hardly noted the strange potion salesmen and zombie collectors. The Shadar-Kai are really nasty with things like that. I mean, selling fake ‘cures’ to their own people? That’s low. Also, the dead should be allowed to rest.

Now, my book says that the best way to enter a new market is to approach from a position of strength or use. Trouble is, we have no idea what the Shadar-Kai want here, let alone how strong they are. Things are going to get dicey over the next few days. Lets hope we roll well for pips.

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Corin's Journal, part 2

What a night, what a day! Ahna told us she saw, from shore, a bit of what happened when we boarded our makeshift raft and headed to the tower, but she was surprised and impressed when we told her about the scuffle. I should start over though.

We are now pretty sure that the big lake and the tower is, in fact, pretty close to the center of Naught. There are bunch of cities placed around it, and sometimes they overlap, but when we saw the tower and the lake, we thought we could get a good view of the place. We made it to the lake without much trouble, Lee built up a raft, but I didn’t like the looks of the water and put most of our fragile things in a little hiding spot by the water’s edge. It was a good thing, too, as we were attacked in the middle of the water by these big crawdad-looking things. Critters. They might kinda look like they have a weird human-like shape, but they were just animals.

I called on the spirits of ice, and they all flowed into me. It’s a very strange feeling, when I take on the form of Winter. Lee says that the skeletons we smashed were like bodies on puppet strings, and Nesit is talking about the gods and our souls, but when I take on the form, I don’t feel like I’m being filled up, or crammed with too many souls in my body, but like my mind, my body, and Winter are all one, new, Corin. It feels good, just different. I tried to explain it to the others, but they don’t get it. After a while, though, the link between me and the spirits wants to fade, and I have to work at keeping it going. Good thing, too, because by the end of the fight the ice I was making was all that was keeping the raft together.

We got to the tower ok, though, and it turns out that we made a good choice in exploring the place. It used to be a monastery, and each of the lower floors was devoted to a craft or trade that the monks used to practice to keep the place up. We found a brewery full of barrels and wood for the raft, a stonemason’s shop, a book-binding place, but the biggest surprise was above all of them. We made our way up to the big windowed room that we’d seen from the ground, and inside was a strange statue-man made of wood and stone and metal. I was sure surprised when he spoke to us, but he is a nice person. Nesit kept calling him a thing, and Lee wasn’t sure, but I am sure that he is people in the same way that the crawd-things weren’t people. He has a mind, and he knows what he wants, and he is content to work hard and keep the tower clean, and that makes him people.

He called himself Coop, said that he was a Warforged, and said that he was very old. He fought in the encroachment war, and, afterwards, came to this sunken tower and cleaned out the rats (I think he is very fast. He moved slow, but he said he was a soldier, after all) and made a home for carrier pigeons. He didn’t want anything from us, but he let us take some things and sleep in the tower. He also showed us the city, so we know that we are in the center.

We could see, to the west where we had been, an enormous Lion-monster as big as a house! Now we know what kind of beasts Ahna was keeping away from us. I will see if she likes crawd meat. We also learned that there is some kind of barrier that keeps people from leaving the city, so we might need to learn from the Shadar-Kai (Oz helped me spells that word) how they get through it if we are going to make it to the Bough. Lee wants to sneak and steal the way, and, if they decide that they won’t want to trade with us, I guess I will agree with him. The Shadar-Kai are definitely people, too, but I suppose not all people are created equal. Some people are jerks.

We’ll have all evening to fish, and Lee has improved the raft quite a bit, so we’ll be able to smoke the fish tomorrow, once we get across the lake again. After that, we have a lot of travel to go. It could take weeks to get from the Shadar Kai camps in the northeast to the Bough to the west, and we might have to avoid that Lion. Coop thinks the Lion is sick, so maybe we could get its respect if we cured it, but I’m not sure it would want to take any medicine we could make before it would eat us.

Anyways, I have written too much and am using all the ink, so I will write later. Good night.

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