Victory in the Vale

The more things change...

by Lyssa

The more they stay the same. After three years of training and traveling with Hio and Nebin, I thought that they were making some progress towards becoming enlightened individuals who would choose good, lawful acts without being prompted and bullied. Or at least that they were getting closer to the point where I could leave them unattended in a town for an hour without Hio raping and pillaging the townsfolk while Nebin picks their pockets. In particular, I had great hopes for Hio’s conversion to Bahamut leading him on the right path, but sadly that experience with religion could best be measured in hours.

During our trip to the Keep, we acquired two new party members, Valthrun and Elyas, a wizard and a cleric. Why a cleric you ask? Well sadly, I have failed in my duties once more, and Thrak, our friend and cleric of many years chose to to leave the party to pursue his god on his own. The new cleric does not appear to be an improvement on the party, as after we had closed the rift, we encountered several small bands of hobgoblins, and upon two of them surrendering and voluntarily dropping their weapons, Elyas chose to continue attacking them, killing one and the other barely fleeing with his life, and that only because Valthrun was forced to attack Elyas. While I do not like goblins, it is still beyond wrong to attack any sentient being that surrenders, and I fear what influence he will have on the rest of the party. Hio is barely kept in check at the best of times, and Nebin is often lead by the good of his wallet rather than of his conscience.

In consequence of Elyas’s behavior, Valthrun and I elected to leave the others to their own devices and return to town, as, being weak, I needed a strong drink before Hio arrived and there was none left in the entire village. Strangely, as we continued to the surface, we saw no evidence of the goblin Splug, who had been our brave and loyal companion for a large part of our experience in the dungeon, and I am somewhat concerned at this absence, fearing equally that he has been hurt or killed and that he discovered the true way his master died.

Upon arriving in Winterhaven, we were greeted by the news that the town had been attacked by animated skeletons from the graveyard, and so resignedly, I turned back to find my party and tell them of the situation, and to make sure they had not perished in the dungeon. They had not, and I was disappointed to see the cleric alive and comparatively well. They had some fantastic story of fighting and defeating another jelly (although this one was invisible and used acid as a weapon, something I find hard to credit) and were certainly the worse for wear. They also seem to have enraged Sir Keegan in some way on their way out by offering him souvenirs of the family he destroyed. I can only suspect this was the cleric’s idea, as it lacks the directness of Hio and the profit motive of Nebin.

We are all safely back in Winterhaven, and while Douvan assures me that I have done my best with my group of friends (and to be sure they have thus far refrained from burning this village down, a definite sign of progress on Hio’s part) I cannot help feeling that our struggles will only intensify from this point. Hio is pleased that tomorrow we shall go kill some skellies as he calls them, and I believe the cleric is pleased as well, as he seems to feel some holy vengeance towards the undead tied to his particular god. I can only hope that this next adventure brings our party together…

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Gellies & Zombies & Shinies
Going down deeper

by Hio

We left that creepy room with Sir Keegan‘s creepy corpse. And I don’t know why, but Lyssa took a bandage or something from his broken sword. Weird, just weird.

This time we fought two Gellies which was not really my style. I don’t really like anything that I can’t feel my sword really cutting through. This was like cutting butter with a knife, but with gelatin and my sword. I drew a picture of what it was like:

Gelly cut

The first guy was orange-like, or I think he was. Maybe he was purple. One of them was purple and one of them was orange. I guess he wasn’t really a guy. I guess he was an it. It was orange. Pretty weird how you can’t make orange or purple rhyme with anything. That proves they were related though.

I forgot to mention that Thrak got too scared of the monsters and decided to jump ship, or rather jump the dungeon. We have a new cleric now, which is good cause that means I can still kill things and get hit but not go down. I never go down. His name is Elssa or Lyssa or Eli or…hm. Whatever. I thought he was the bug-trainer at first, because we fought some giant bugs then slept and BOOM Eli-whatshisface was there! He still must have a thing for bugs, but I don’t think he’s trying to kill us anymore.

There were some zombies in the stomach of a wall. The wall ate us, we killed the zombies. Nebin somehow made one of their head’s explode — I’m sure he learned that trick from me. In the end, I ended up with a shield and some new armor. I put my old armor up on the rack where I got the new stuff – just because I’m a good guy like that. Oh and I got an axe from…OH

The best part of the day? I KILLED IRONTOOTH AND I TOOK IS AXE OH YEAH. Punk thought he could run away but not from Hio! And just like I killed him, I will kill others with the axe that he owned. My axe’s name is Irontooth, pretty good right?

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An Excursion into Shadowfell Keep:
A Sage's Account.

by Valthrun the Prescient

I am keeping this journal of observations for many purposes, not the least of which is to occupy myself during the brief spurts of downtime I am allowed, for committing myself to a conversation with any of my uneducated compatriots is a long, drawn-out, aggravating process that I only undertake when necessary. More importantly, though, it will hopefully survive as an important record of how the abandoned keep’s interior has changed over the years, and provide insights as to the Empire’s legacy when I am able to divine it myself. I also hope it will provide a second usage to other arcane practitioners who are curious about field work – I will probably not be providing so much an exhaustive manual as a collection of words to the wise, though.

The keep’s walls and outer structures remain as desolate as ever, wrecked by the earthquake some years prior and never repaired. The goblins have vandalized the interior, even to the point of digging a pit by the entrance and filling it with such offal as to attract a swarm of rats, which thankfully we managed to avoid provoking. Any traces of the Nerathi soldiers that watched over this place are gone now, save perhaps for the mattress frames that the goblins use for their bunks, or the chests that they fill with “shineys” (rough translation from the goblin tongue). They obviously have no regard for the historical import of the site, even going so far as to completely dig up the floor of a rather large chamber in search of nonexistent buried trinkets. I suppose it’s not entirely truthful of me to condemn their gathering, as I did come away with an enchanted implement for my troubles…

There was a strange rune on the ground on the second level: a trio of lines emanating from a single point, separating sigils of a hand, a crossed pair of arrows, and the symbol denoting infinity. The others believe it to be some kind of enchanted, terror-inducing trap, but I cannot be certain – no such icon has ever appeared in my notes, and it would be imprudent to make a guess at this juncture.

More pressing than the rune, though, was the presence of undead – I should have surmised it from the telltale smell. Skeletons and zombies in varying degrees of decomposition are a worrying sight indeed, even if they appear to be far less capable of seriously harming us than the goblins we’ve fought. Their presence suggests that either the rift’s worsening energy leak is animating the dead soldiers entombed here, or that the death cultists that I suspect are behind all this have a skilled necromancer in their ranks. Neither possibility is particularly comforting to think about, but the most disturbing thing at all about this is the sense of satisfaction I can’t help but feel when a dusty skeleton explodes at the behest of a well-timed bolt of arcane force.

The deepest part of the tomb held none other than the infamous Sir Keegan himself, now animated as a fleshless abomination, but seeming to be far more in control of his faculties than the historical accounts would have me believe. I stayed well away from him while my naive allies conversed with him; I had told them that he was the reason for the Keep’s downfall, hadn’t I? In life, the man had single-handedly dispatched almost half of the men under his command and a great many more civilians besides, including his wife and children. Then again, I suppose I should hardly be surprised – why wouldn’t such cutthroat individuals want to be chummy with that murderer? As for me, I trust nothing he has said.

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Magic Religion

by Hio

So the Bahamut thing really didn’t work out. Apparently “honorable” doesn’t just mean not being a pussy in battle, but doing things like not drinking or taking stuff that you’ve legitimately taken. I mean, that doesn’t seem fair at all.

Plus, I totally destroyed that chubby little bugger, Balgron the Fat in Shadowfell Keep. And that twisted torturer too — honestly, I don’t even know why I travel with a party at all. Though Lyssa is kind of hott, but I don’t really like those strong-female types. And Valthrun, he’s the dude. And he doesn’t need any religion at all, so there you go.

Almost forgot! We were killing all of these undead, zombies and skellies and the like, when we got to a room where they just didn’t seem to die. Can undead die? I mean, they did die (or un-die since they’re undead), but then more would come. It was like a troll losing his arms and growing them back, except that it was a room instead of a troll and lots of skellies instead of arms. Eventually I saved the party by reading the script on some of the room’s altars. Can you believe it? I’m the only one who knows Draconic — those guys are all idiots. Even Thrak was impressed and started praying to his god about my awesome reading abilities.

Then there was this big skellie dude that I everyone seemed afraid of — I could have taken him for sure. Sir Keegan or something something. He wasn’t important enough for me to know about because I was drinking at the time the rest of them were telling stories. Their loss, I say. But now we have some gate to close here in Shadowfell. Mostly I hope the girls at the tavern are in a much better mood when we get back to town. And they’ll love that story about Balgron the Fat. I can’t wait.

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