Skulls & Bones

Dear Mother (whoever you are)

So, obviously things have been going too well. Bach and I got back to the market place, and everyone, I mean everyone, was gone. I know Gregor paid the bribe in time, because I was the messenger. It went like it has a hundred times.

Ferine 1, 1011

A couple of days later, we got word of a message from Gregor. All we had to do was get a group of people and stick our head in a noose … I mean show up at the Crow’s Nest. We grabbed some losers, showed up, and talked to some weird old guy, named Angel. He said the losers wouldn’t cut it for the mission. Mission? Yeah, apparently we need to deliver some box. We saw some guys on the docks that looked like they could handle themselves, but before I could say anything, Bach admitted how much money there was in it. Damn.

Details aside, we got on the ship on Ferine 4, 1011 and headed to our destination, when we were interrupted by a storm. Big storm. Huge storm. No-more-ship kind of storm. Bach and I made it through the waves, found each other (and some of the group we “hired”) and, after drifting for over a week, we got to an island on Ferine 15, 1011. After a couple days of eating and sleeping, we counted heads. Bach, me, Bob the Bard, Pasha the Halfling, Gimble the Dwarf, and Gary, one of the ship’s cooks. Weird how all the other adventurers made it here. I would think there’s something going on, but unless one of the gods has a twisted sense of humor …. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Lovely island. We found what used to be shelter, and managed to fix it up. In the meantime, we fought and killed a boar (dinner!), a dire wolverine, a giant crab and a swarm of regular crabs, a snake and a giant spider. That attacked us. Within a span of two to three days.

Ferine 27, 1011

We finally cleaned out the zombies on the ship in the harbor. There was more gold and silver coins than I have ever seen in my life. Too bad there’s nothing to buy here. Definitely a god with a sense of humor. Bastard. We also found the tools and supplies to eventually get it sea-worthy again. Turns out Gary is really a carpenter and not a cook. Although we knew he wasn’t really a cook. Man could burn water. Hope he’s a better carpenter.

Diakrine 1, 1011

We are sick of all the surprises, so we decided to go exploring. We went up one of the hills and found a cave. We encountered some hobgoblins and found a stairway built into the rock. At the bottom were some more hobgoblins. Then there were even more hobgoblins and goblin dogs and some big dude. He thought we were funny. At first. It was kinda cool, though, with spells going off, the bard singing, Bach and me swinging. Bach went down a couple of times, and that was less cool.


We’re going to check out more of this place. I’ll fill you in when I have more time (and am feeling delusional, like I’m ever going to know anything about you.)

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Hobgoblin Cave

After that battle, we found a rapier for me and a two-headed orc axe for Bach. I feel a lot better with decent weapons.

We decided to just clean out this whole place and then use it as or base. After scaring some kids (which we’ll only have to kill later, so I don’t know why Bob’s all upset that I killed one now) we found a room with an alter that had a golden goat. Seriously, a goat. The cleric was no joke, though. He downed most of us.

We got to the bottom of this place, and there’s a huge lake here with an island in the middle. We went to check out the island, but we got attacked by big, ugly fish. I am not making this up. Apparently they drown their prey. They kept missing me for some reason. I would think I just swim that well, but they got Bach and he’s just as good as me. Makes up for yesterday when I kept getting hit by the stupid hobgoblins.

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&*^#@ god!

We found some armor and weapons – one human-sized and one halfling – then swam back with no difficulty, because we threw the body of one of the ugly fish into the water on the other side of the island.

As we kept exploring, we got attacked by this giant carpet-plant creature. Because of course it was. It landed on me and crushed me some. We slept after that, but when I woke up, I was sick and weak. Gimble cast a couple of spells on me over the next two days, though, and that seems to have fixed me. I wasn’t crazy about sitting still and letting a magic-user cast stuff on me, but at least he’s a cleric and not a wizard.

Diakrine 3, 2011

Since the caves have been mostly cleaned out, we checked out another spot on the map. The things attacking us are gettin weirder and weirder. This one was some kind of deer/badger cross, and it messed with our heads. Made me and Bach think it was our friend. I’m glad it’s dead. (And not just because the sucker bit so hard. The last thing I need in this life is false trust.) There was treasure in its cave. Artwork and coins, and still nowhere to spend it. Also there was the remains of a camp near the water past the cave. It was very fresh, only about a month old. They’ve been here on this island the same time we have. They’re hiding, though. They never lit a fire. We dragged the deer/badger body over by their camp, in case it’s that thing and not us they’re hiding from.

Another day, another spot on the map to check out. This time it was giant plant mounds trying to entangle us. I really hope that whatever god is messing with us like this is getting all the yucks out of his system.

We all went back to the lightning lizard place. We circled around them this time and found them separately in the woods. They went down really easy. So strange after they just about handed me and Bach our heads last time.

Diakrine 6, 1011

Okay, enough weirdness. That’s just enough. Now we’ve met some tree guardian lady, named Arbella. She seemed just sad and nonthreatening. I mean, it was pretty clear she could take us all down if she wanted to, but she just wanted to make sure we treat the trees right. Which, now that I’m away from her, is pretty creepy. We are gonna need to chop down some trees for the ship so we can get off this island. We ended up with a deal. She’ll tell us which trees we can take if we’ll stop some (weird) spider-people from summoning their super-monster-god-thing. Yay.

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Giant Spiders and Purple Sickle-Hands

So, we went to the spot on the map marked with a web. After we cut through some of the web, we found another cave. Yeah, we’ve obviously been having too many open-air fights. All the halls and rooms had incredibly thick webbing on the walls. Bach said it struck him as a likely hiding place and I agreed. We got into a pattern of tearing down webbing as we go through a hallway, go into a room, check for traps, disable traps (unless they involved falling rocks, for some reason; good thing Gimbell has healing magic), tear down that webbing. Some rooms had some (big) spiders in them, and Bach and I would take them out, while everyone else watched our backs. Weird sensation, that. Finally some of the spiders appeared to have learned not to charge us and started spitting webbing. They were joined by this purple sickle-handed thing. It looked like it could be a problem but Bob sang to it and it got confused.

One of the spiders bit Bach and he started getting weaker, but Gimbell fixed him up. The dwarf’s really starting to grow on me. We tried to question the purple thing, but it bit me when Bob stopped singing. Bite made me incredibly woozy. Gimbell put another spell on me to stop it getting worse, but I stayed dizzy for the rest of the day.

We eventually made our way to a huge room with a dozen hallways leading to it. On the floor was a star made of two triangles and a bunch of squiggly symbols around in a circle. Didn’t get to look closely because there were three spiders and a couple more of the purple things. And then four more showed up. Bach rushed the two spiders across the room and of course I followed, but nobody else did. Way to separate the party, guys. After Bach and I finished with the creatures on us, I looked over to see Bob in the middle of the sickle-hands and spiders plus this huge spider that came in while Bach and I were busy. I didn’t see Pascha or Gimbell, but there was a new area of fog in the corner, so they were probably inside that. Wonder why they didn’t grab Bob? Pascha (it turns out) shot a fireball that killed one of the purple things, but it also downed Bob. I missed what happened after that because the giant spider rushed me and I went down too. I woke up a few moments later as Bach was getting up also. Pascha was over by us, also down, and Gimbell went down as Bach and I got up. We took out the last sickle-hand (apparently the boss) but it got me as it died. This time when I woke up Pascha and Gimbell are alive but paralyzed and the boss purple was thoroughly dead. Bach dragged Bob’s dying body over to us and Gimbell broadcast some healing – enough to get us out of there. Before we left, I made a copy of the symbols on the floor to show to the nice tree-lady.

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I hate that effin' god

We rested at the nice tree-lady’s grove (or whatever it’s called) for a couple of days before going back. We planned to ruin the symbol in the ground in case some spider-people survived. When we went back, there was a crowd waiting for us – 4 purple things and 7 big spiders. Pascha enlarged Bach which backfired: Bach drew tons of attention and got beat up pretty bad. Things got better when he moved over to where I was and we could fight like we’re used to fighting, flanking someone and taking ‘em down. We dropped a purple and a spider that way. Seemed like Bob went down about that time, and Gimbell moved over to help him. Then I got surrounded and went down. I came to just in time to see Bach go down, but he wasn’t actually unconscious. I could hear him singing to himself. The poison made him too woozy to even stand up. Gimbell came over wearing his metal lobster suit and acted like Bach, which let me get a good one on a spider. I think it was then that I could hear Bob singing while lying on the floor. Poison must have got him too, but at least he wasn’t gonna burn up too much healing. I went down and Pascha brought me back, and then Gimbell did his Bach impersonation again and I took out the last spider. We got in a circle and Pascha did his group-heal thing.

We searched all through the rest of the caves, but we didn’t find any more creatures. We did, of course, find a ton of treasure. I’m starting to get bored with the look of a pile of money and gems. Something is seriously wrong with that. I will make it official now: I will track down whatever god thinks my life is a game and then I will dedicate my life to desecrating his altars. See how he likes being jacked with.

Diakrine 21, 1011

Finally, some good news! The ship’s ready and we can get the #%^&^ off the island.

It was getting too uneventful, obviously. I woke up last night being stabbed. By Gary. Who had a crazed look in his eyes. Even weirder, the muscles on his arms and legs had apparently been somehow enlarged to the point where they bulged out of his clothes. Not weird enough? Well, I woke up yelling (from being stabbed) but no sound came out of my mouth. Is there more than one god messing with me? I tried to just run, but the door wouldn’t open because why should it? We fought in the cramped cabin and I took him out, but then I passed out myself. Bach woke me up and it looked really bad. I didn’t have the wounds anymore and Gary looked like he used to look. Except for being dead. With my rapier in his heart. We decided to wait until the next watch because everyone else is a magic-user and they need their sleep in order to cast spells. Nobody believes my story. Even Bach thinks Gary did something to me and I killed him for it. At least he believes I had a good reason for killing him. I know my story sounds crazy, so I’m glad that Gimbell casts a truth spell on me. I told them everything. Now we’re all confused, instead of just me. Also, the boat registers magic now, when it didn’t before. ^(*%@$! gods.

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New Levels of Weirdness

We all agreed to lock me in the captain’s cabin. Bach tried to slip me my thieves’ tools, which was sweet of him, but Bob’s monkey saw him. I hadn’t even noticed. Show you how messed up everything is. I gave the tools over, but then we argued about who would have the key. Bach insisted on holding it himself, of course, and things were about to get ugly so I said I would trust the dwarf with it.

That night I heard yelling during the first watch. I found out later that some creature covered in black slimy stuff had climbed aboard and breathed on Gimbell. Bach jumped down from the mast where he was and ran downstairs and broke the lock off my door so I wouldn’t be trapped, gave my rapiier and we got in position for when the creature followed. In the meantime, Pascha was trying to wake up Bob. He had no luck until he actually opened the door and shook him. Pathetic. When the thing showed up, it hit me really hard. I backed up, so Bach could get behind it. No dice. Bach went down, and so did I. Gimbell must have arrived during all this, because he did his healing thing and I woke up. And went down again and woke up again. Bach and I started to chase it upstairs when we heard Pascha yelling from my former cell. Bach and I headed in and could not hit the thing. Bach went down again, and Bob actually took his place. Astonishing. I finally got in a lucky hit and killed it. When I walked out in the hallway, I saw Gary’s re-dead body. Naturally. I can’t wait to get off this ship.

We finally reached Runner’s Cove. Pascha and Bob want me to see a cleric. Bach’s worried they’ll put me away, but I’m a little worried about the weirdness, so I agree to see one in public. (As long as they pay for it.) I guess it’ll happen tomorrow. We all split up for the night. Bach and I stashed up our share of the loot in a bunch of different places. It’s strange to have so much money. I don’t even know what to spend it on, apart from food. At dinner, the sheriff showed up looking for us. We’ve been gone for months, but it’s the same old business with him. Whatever. Apparently, I’m supposed to have killed that bird-guy that gave us the box to deliver. I remember now that he said something about dying soon, but I thought he was poisoned or sick or something. Instead he was stabbed with a dagger, so the sheriff instantly thought of me. Isn’t that sweet? Then it got weirder. There’s some other survivor from the shipwreck who swears he saw me stab the captain of the ship! I don’t get it. The sheriff wanted his usual bribe, but of course we just stashed all our money. I don’t feel like revealing one of our hiding places, so Bach and I accepted prison hospitality for a couple of days. I wonder when I’m supposed to talk to the cleric? The guys show up eventually and convince the sheriff to let Bach go get some money, knowing he’ll come back to get me out. When we got our stuff back, we examined the box after all this time. The seal’s broken. Nosy sheriff. When we got back to the inn, I decided to open it. I mean, the seal was already broken, so we’re kinda screwed. Naturally the box was trapped. I got drained of strength and health worse than when the purple sickle-hands hit us. Gimbell will fix me in the morning, though, so it’s not too bad.

Famous last words. Before morning, the sheriff returned with the Seneschal and his men. Who demanded that our stuff be searched. Remember that dagger that I found during the storm? Yeah, me neither. The body I took it from was apparently the ship’s captain. You know, the one a witness said I stabbed. That’s enough for the Seneschal to order both of us put in chains. Overreaction much? When they finished dragging us back to jail, they strip and search us. No especially big deal, apart from the humiliation, but then that bastard yanked my locket off my neck! I lost it then. I don’t even know what I was screaming at him, but it made him punch my lights out. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

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Master Assassin

I’m not going to dwell on what happened the next couple of days. It was about what could be expected from Nutso Whackjob, the Seneschal. We were transported to his city to be “questioned.” The headcase has decided that I’m a master assassin. This means that there’s no point casting a truth spell on me. Master assassins are well known to be impervious to magic. But not to being chained to a wall and beaten. Obviously that’s going to make my master assassin-self crack. I’m still so weak from that trapped box poison that it doesn’t take much to send me unconscious. After a couple of days of all this fun, Whackjob came in trailing after some new guy, acting like a he’s new guy’s dog. New Guy, Severd, tells them to heal me and dress me. This can’t be good. I asked about Bach and he ignored my request. He wants to know if I killed Angel the Tengue (the bird guy) or the captain of that ship. I said no. Then he asks if I will swear to this and submit to a truthspell. I said I already did both. Then he stabbed me in the throat. Well, that’s a reasonable response. As I go out, I hear him tell Nutso it’s impossible for a master assassin to ignore training and let herself be attacked. How nice.

Diakrine 26, 1011

I wasn’t sure I was going to wake up this time. Severd has given us 45 days to find the location of the missing orb from the box. He also wants us to find out who killed Angel. If I’m going to live (even if only for 45 days) I want my locket back. Severd made Whackjob hand it over. That was almost worth him taking it. He made some (deliberately, I’m sure) confusing comment about my locket’s significance. I’m dying of curiosity, but I know I won’t get a straight answer. Plus I refuse to give either of them the satisfaction.

We got back to Runner’s Cove and the magic users tried some spells to find out who killed the Tengue. It didn’t work, of course. It couldn’t be that easy. Another spell directed us back to start looking for answers at the Crow’s Nest. The bartender remembered Angel, but not much else. As we were leaving, Gwen, a waitress, said her sister had rented a shack to Angel and would lead us there. Wow. A break. I wonder why that happened.

After meeting the sister and making arrangements to check out the shack, I triggered a trap on the door that I was trying to disable. A big pile of earth rose up and slammed me hard. We ran around trying to get away from it while still hitting it and eventually it just went away. This is the new normal in my life.

I finally got the door open and Bach and I started searching the tiny room. The parts that don’t have an altar to Chellos. I found a loose floor board, but that was trapped, too. At least I think so. Everyone started acting really stupid for a couple of minutes. Not that I could tell the difference with the bard. After everyone cleared out, I found another trap that hit Bach with more poison. I finally dug out what seems to be Angel’s journal. There were some references to Gregor the news that he’s dead. The “Servants of the Traitor” killed him and some others. No mention of the others that disappeared when Gregor did. There was also a reference to a griffon. We decided to ask the sheriff if any of this made sense. You know, because he’s been so helpful and all.

There’s a trader named Griffon that the sheriff really hates, so we go check out his warehouse. Even though the sheriff said we should concentrate on his house. Griffon seemed to have no clue about any of this, especially what Pascha meant by “Seekers of the Orb.” We were eating dinner when a kid came in with a message for the “Seekers of the Orb.” Didn’t take long for the word to get out. The kid took off running and tried to lead us into an alley. We stopped at the end of it, and saw some figure at the other end.

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Bach's DEAD

I can’t even …

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Aftermath

The meeting in the alley was a trap. At first the fight was going like it usually does, Bach and me getting hurt, going down, and waking up to continue fighting.

This time, though, when I woke up, the battle was over, we were in Gimbell’s rooms, and Bach wasn’t there. They told me he was cut in half, just about, and Pascha and I were down, so they grabbed us and ran. I can’t believe they just left him. I don’t remember much after that. I planned to go and look for his body, I know that much, but I think I lost it before I got out the door. I remember screaming at the guys, but I have no idea what I said.

Everyone is being kind to me. Instead of being unnerving, it feels kinda nice. There’s an empty space were Bach oughta be.

Severd came to the room to check on our progress. He didn’t already know about Bach. We go over our trip to Griffon’s warehouse and Pascha and I realized that one of the guys from the alley fight had been working in the warehouse.

Severd told us we need help with our task. No kidding. He said he’ll bring us someone. Can’t wait. He returned with this poser-looking idiot. Who invites us to his place to discuss matters. He did put out a decent spread for us. I have no idea why he’s sucking up to us. He even told me he was “sorry for my loss.” Jerk.

The new plan was to return to Griffon’s warehouse. Gimbell can disguise himself and look around for the guy from the alley. No dice. Guy didn’t show. Next new plan was to buy a divination spell. It told us to look among the Griffons. How nice. Idjit decided to check out the graveyard and actually noticed something. There haven’t been any new family burials in the last forty to forty-five years. Weird, especially since I remember the big deal when the current Griffon’s father died a year or so ago.

The latest new plan was for Pascha and Gimbell to check out the warehouse at night. They found out that how the guards are hired, and that there’s one guy who is there every night. The rest of the guards are just a little relaxed about their job; not sloppy, but not expecting anything. While they were doing that, Bob tried looking for Alley Guy in the bars. No luck.

Idjit tried to spy on the Griffon mansion, but was instantly spotted and lightning-bolted. Hah. We relocated back to Gimbell’s rooms for the night. The new latest new plan will involve going back to the warehouse, jumping the guard and searching the place. That went smoothly; Gimbell cast a silence spell so he couldn’t raise an alarm and I stabbed him. We looked around the offices but didn’t find anything. So we went back to the piles of boxes and found a passage built into a fake box. Someone is serious about this place: a couple of ladder rungs down into the tunnel have been greased. There’s a room at the end of the tunnel. It’s very strange – it’s got 8 walls and 16 coffins.

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Family

Half a dozen skeletons and something that I found out later is called a Crypt-Thing jumped out of some of the coffins. Idjit actually did something useful and cast some strengthening spell on me (without asking, but it’s not like there was time) while I took a different kind of strength potion that Gimbell had made. Bob flanked the skeletons with me. Odd. Even stranger, I stayed conscious the whole fight.

Dwarven knowledge of stonework says that everything in the shaft higher than 10 feet is very much newer.

We checked out the other coffins, and half of them have or had skeletons in them. The other half will move (eventually) and reveal a door. No traps and not locked.

They all followed the same pattern: an empty room with a door on the opposite wall which led to a short hallway with a door, which opened to a room with skeletons (weaker ones than the ones we killed in the main room) and a door on the opposite wall, which led to another short hallway with a door that opened to a room with some undead the religious people called wights. Bob would cast a spell making the floor slippery and they would all fall in a pile. That was actually kinda funny.

On the third coffin, the pattern broke. There was a door leading out of the wight room. It opened into a longer hallway which led to the main room, I guess. It was really huge and contained tables and cages used to torture people. As I went into the room, I recognized some of the body pieces. Many of the younger kids of Gregor’s gang ended up in here. Thanks to the seneschal, I have a fairly good idea of what they went through.

Not that there was time to be thinking though. Darius Griffon was at the other end of the room, fainting with terror. Wimp. More important, some monster that I thought was chained up came rushing at us, waving its chains. We backed back into the hallway and waited for it to open the door, but it outwaited us. Bob shot some shiny glittery stuff at it that blinded it, but it sent out waves of fear which got to me. I must have panicked and run because when I calmed down I was at the other side of the room in an ice storm that one of the magic-users had summoned. I ran back to the battle, but the chain monster was dead. Darius regained consciousness and started babbling about how he was a victim and his family was at risk. While the tortured remains of MY family surrounded us.

I do not feel kindly disposed towards him.

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