Escape from the prison of books
Excerpt from Tharn's Journal

FINALLY! We have Finally escaped that horrible hallway. After some deliberation, we decided that there was probably a hidden door somewhere between our starting position and the acid. There must be, right? A thorough search (we had all the time in the world, and probably then some) turned up nothing. HOW???

Next we tried to stretch the boundaries by having a continuous connection between inside the loop and an increasingly distant Lucky. He didn’t live up to his name. Each time we tried something, we had to memorize titles so we could compare… “Fantastical Beast Magic and Where to Find it”, “Ancient Farmhouse Architecture”, “Feudal Riots of the Late Pyrranic Empire”, “The Life of the Wealthy Duchess of Kinesia and Her Very Different Daughters” (I think someone must have been drunk when naming that one).

At one point, I carefully made my way through the lightning trap and then… we reset the hallway. I hate this library.

We then let Lucky loose, and he went through the hallway and pulled all the books from the shelves. Normally I would object to this, but these books deserve it. Daevon claimed to have a brilliant plan, but refused to tell us. We trusted him, and followed him to the wind trap. He triggered it, and from there, we managed to hit every other trap in the hallway. Some plan!

But this time, before the hallway reset, we heard a creaking sound and some falling books. A door must have opened! (At that point, anything would have sounded like a door).

This time, we carefully piled books between each pair of shelves so that any opening door would knock one over, allowing us to easily see where the door was. We then proceeded to activate each trap, and once we had disarmed the lightning barrier, we heard a click and a creak, and one of the piles of books fell over. We had escaped library hell! As “souvenirs”, Lucky and I each took a book from the pile. Lucky has “Top 40 Tavern Hits,” and I have the fitting “The Man Who Would Burn the World.”

Unfortunately, we weren’t out yet. We followed a well kept passageway to a large room, the center of which is occupied by a sphinx. As in my parents’ stories, the sphinx offered us a challenge: answer its riddle correctly and pass through unharmed. The alternative was never stated, but nevertheless seemed quite clear.

Before agreeing to the challenge, we asked the sphinx to tell us where we were. Its answer was simply “The Lacuna.” With the other option being return to the never-ending hallway, we decided to take the challenge, and sleep on the riddle. “You are trapped in a dungeon devised by your enemies. There are two paths in front of you. Down one, an obsidian dragon waits to burn you with its breath. The other is lined with mirrors which reflect the sun and will scorch you to death. How do you escape safely?” I would turn around, but we will sleep and discuss this when we awake.

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

“Okay, so let’s talk this through and see if we can figure it out. Starting from, I don’t know, this morning.”

“Which morning?”

“When Forth woke us up because the lights started flashing. Red, red, gray. And they kept flashing like that for a while — five minutes maybe? — before they went out entirely. That was weird. But anyhow, that’s when we started walking redward, right? Until those giant monsters with the hooks dropped down on us. You think their clattering along the ceiling is what was making those mining noises?”


“Don’t answer, I’m getting my groove going here. So it was while we were fighting them that things started getting really weird, right? It wasn’t just me getting knocked out, they really did turn into spiritual primeval energy thingies, right? And then Lucky was a centaur-unicorn, and Forth was a Thundercloud, and Tharn grew claws, and I just felt really hopeless for some reason. But we kept fighting them. The first one turned into stone — was that wild magic? I assume you’d tell me if you could reliably turn things into stone. But then the second one split into two, each of which split into two, each of which just vanished when we killed them.”

“But killing them didn’t make us not unicorns or whatever. So we decided that was a bad way to go, and headed greenward instead, past where we’d camped. And eventually that did make us better, though right before everything started feeling right Caleb said ‘something doesn’t feel right.’ Could he feel us entering the time loop? Is that when we entered the time loop?”

“Can I-”

“No sorry, let me finish. The questions are, uh, rhetorical. Right after that is the first time we hit the fire trap. Or Daevon did. But after we got him put out and healed, Lucky headed back redward. And eventually we followed him, and I think we time-looped then? As soon as we met Lucky and switched to greenward Daevon hit the fire trap again. Or maybe it was just a similar fire trap near bookshelves that seemed to have the same books. Unlikely. This time Lucky marked it with magic.”

“But then we went briefly redward and greenward again and I think it wasn’t marked any more? But we still recognized it? And that’s when Daevon got tired of being burned and tried to trigger the trap by throwing our money on it, but ended up getting burned anyhow. Oh, and he’d left a book near the trap last time? But now it was in his backpack again, so it was definitely a time loop.”

“We did the redward-greenward dance a… fourth time? But by now we could recognize it, or at least Tharn could, and we actually for once decided not to trigger it, and move past it. And I think that’s the first time we found those slow-falling books? Do we think they were falling slowly because they were in a weird time thingie, or because some wizard had cast a spell on them to make them fall slowly? That’s a spell, right? Wait, does that spell just create a weird time thingie around whatever’s falling? Anyhow, I don’t know what the significance of those books is.”

“Though I guess they’re a useful hint that the slammy-whammy bookshelves are coming soon? Those look like they really hurt, sorry Tharn. And right after them is the second fire trap.”

“I think it was after that second fire trap that we decided to stop and treat our wounds? I wonder if there’s any limit to how long one run through this time loop can go. But we got about a normal night’s rest, and things didn’t seem to have reset, so I guess a while, right?”

“So in the morning, or whatever, since there’s no way to keep track of time down here, especially when time isn’t cooperating. Anyhow, then we went on and found the tripwire that triggers the gust of wind. And I was watching behind us so I got sent flying back to the slammy-whammy and the fire trap, which apparently had reset.”

“And then after the tripwire is the lightning net. It’s good that Lucky can teleport past that, and that it has a shut-off switch. I guess that must mean we’re heading the direction that whoever made these traps doesn’t want us to go? The lightning net doesn’t do a very good job stopping anyone going the other way. I’d say we should go redward again, except that the time loop does a very good job of stopping us going that way. So if the traps are designed to stop us going greenward and the time loop is designed to stop us going redward, does that mean different people made them? Or one person made both, and wants to keep us trapped here? I don’t know.”

“Anyhow, after the lightning net is that awful acid trap. Which spreads out over time. And starts raining if you dawdle too long. That one drove us far enough redward that we reset the time loop, and realized it was hard to tell when you reset the timeloop by walking redward.”

“At least we’re getting better at this stuff. That next time through we avoided the fire traps, Tharn still got slammy-whammied, but we did okay with the tripwire, and we knew to send Lucky right past the lightning net. And then we tried roping together and staying up on top of the bookshelves to get around the acid trap, and somehow that reset us. That’s what I don’t get. Does the time loop not want us to go high? Did we get too far greenward? I don’t think we were split up. However it happened, we were back at the first fire trap.”

“Speaking of split up, that’s when we sent Lucky on his solo adventure. After he got attuned to the batwing cloak. And you said that went fine, right? You made it past all the traps? But we waited for you a long time, like at least a half hour. Anyhow, if you do that again, please turn off the lightning net. We eventually found a way through it by Daevon diving through, getting knocked out, and then Caleb healing him, but it’s a bad way. Though maybe it doesn’t matter, since we still don’t have a good way past the acid trap. I still say we charge through that one.”

“So, that’s how we got here, right? The loops resets if we go redward, things go weird when we split up, and things maybe reset when we go too far greenward. If we can figure a way past the acid.”

“Okay thanks for listening but I don’t think going over all that really helped much. I’d apologize for the waste of time, but… you know.”

Chapter 19 - Gnollish Dentistry

We fought the Fang. We lost, got buried, and somehow found our way into a strange underground library.




[AD] Adams, D. Fish of Uncertainty.
[CS] Curtis, S. I Fought the Fang.
[FJ] Feldmann, J. Similar to Paradise.
[FP] Feyerabend, P. Against Method.
[HF] Herbert, F. Mud.
[LM] Leinster, M. A Logic Named DM.
[SH] Schein, H. Humanoid Dentistry.
[SPH] Sfrondrati-Piccolomini, Heron. A Bad Plan is Better Than No Plan.

Chapter 18 - It was seeming with gnolls

Tonight’s story begins with us camped out in the scrubby forest just south of the Ashlands, avoiding Gnoll partrols and planning our next steps.

With some blessed invisibility we did some scouting, focusing on the ruins the gnolls seemed to be excavating. Telsin established contact with a strong human among the slaves and we learned the gnolls had them digging for old tomes in the pit they’d dug. He also met Bane, the cruel taskmaster of the pit, and Grimfang, the, well, “Fang” we were searching for.

You might wonder how we identified the Fang, but in hindsight it seems pretty easy. Though the stories made it clear he was no ordinary gnoll, I didn’t quite appreciate it until I laid eyes upon him myself. For one thing, he was bigger and stronger than the other gnolls and cut a striking figure with his single, dripping crimson fang. For another, he was literally wearing armor, suitable for a fine knight, and spoke common better than many knights I’ve met too. And the fight… oh the fight! … but we’ll get to that another time. For now, suffice to say this was no ordinary gnoll and we’d found it.

So, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Having discovered the slaves were looking for something still and thus hadn’t yet found whatever it was they were looking for, we figured we didn’t need to adjust our plan for dealing with the Fang but that we also shouldn’t loiter lest they actually find the tome of maguffin. With the help of Telsin’s contact, we planned to free the slaves. Why? Because of course we would.

Fortunately, I received a magic scroll from Natalie that was just the trick we needed. At dusk, we snuck out to the slave pens, passing without a trace and with Caleb and Daevon invisible as extra protection for their clunkiness. Though don’t get me wrong, armor… quite useful in combat, but not at all good for sneaking. So, we gather all the slaves together in their ramshackle tent and Tonias drags in a couple captured gnolls.

Hmm, yes. Tonias. Remind me to tell you some of those stories later. This was the first time we worked with him and he definitely had a bunch of stuff going on. He was secretive about most of it, though we did catch him back in the forest having a nighttime meeting with a magical dwarf. We didn’t tell him we noticed though. But that’s a story for another time; we’ve wandered off course. Where were we?

Ah yes! In the slave pens, surrounded by thousands of encamped gnolls. So we’re there to free the slaves who, as I said, were surrounded by thousands of gnolls. We told everyone the plan and distributed as many rations as we could. After a boost to a better vantage point, I invoked the magic of Natalie’s scroll and every living being I could see instantly seemed to be something else. Where before there was a space full of humans, elves, dwarves and the like, now there was just gnolls of varying colors and markings. Well, except for Tonias’s two captured gnolls; they now looked like humans, fortunately.

Caleb and Tharn then whipped up some distracting fog and we set the human-seeming gnolls out into the night. Those in our party that could speak gnoll — a surprisingly large number as it turned out — yelled something. I didn’t understand it, but it was probably something about an attack or the slaves escaping. Anyway, the warcamp riled up and we sent groups of gnoll-seeming slaves out on their way south and west towards the King’s army. Tonias had sent along word to the kingsmen and the spell would wear off before they got there anyway. Don’t fret.

Us? We went the other way, towards the ruins to pick up the trail of the Fang. Someone noticed the guard tower lights had changed, but nobody knew what that meant so we ignored it. What else could we do? It was probably the slave disturbance. Anyway, Tuiz helped follow the Fang’s fiendish presence and those that could converse with the gnolls managed to successfully ask for directions. No, really! We seemed to be gnolls so they gestured and pointed and were generally helpful! Magic is soooo cool! Right, so we tracked the Fang all over, weaving through the gnoll camps, until we found the proper building: the command post by the river. There, we found a fighting ring with a caged dwarf and some strange animals and of course, the river. I picked all the locks, quite easily if you don’t mind me saying, and one of the beasts vanished into the night. Not even animals deserve to be caged like that.

Then, we took on the command post. And… well… that’s a story fit for another day.

Chapter 17 - It's a Trap!
Excerpt from Tharn's Journal

It feels so wonderful being back out in the woods. Last night I went on my first hunt in many weeks. After finding a suitable location, I waited only a short while before a beautiful stag walked past. My first arrow was a clean shot, and Kimya and I followed the beast as it wore itself down.

We found it stuck on a tree at the edge of a clearing, unable to jump high enough to escape. The clearing was filled with a rotting stink that I was unable to place. Kimya clearly knew better than I, as she was clearly worried, and would not approach the stag. However, I was able to kill the beast and remove it from the tree without incident.

As I dragged the stag away, a creeping vine snaked its way toward me, and I only just spotted it in time to drop my burden and jump away. The smell turned out to have been caused by a shambling mass, a pile of rotting plants that exists only to devour. Basically it is the natural equivalent of the creature we encountered in the sewers. This time, however, I only had Kimya with me.

After a fierce battle, we finally took down the creature. To be sure it wouldn’t cause any more damage, I began cutting it apart and dispersing the pieces, only to find that it wasn’t yet dead! After a further brief struggle, I actually killed it and made sure that it was truly dead. Kimya, being her playful self, grabbed a flower from the creature, which I braided into her fur as a trophy from our kill.

I managed to get my kill within about a half mile of where I expected our new camp to be, and left it there to avoid having a clear path to where we were sleeping. Before returning to the camp, I broke off a piece of an antler. I think I will carve it into a little figurine.

The following morning, we laid our trap, using a slow-acting poison provided by Tenaius planted in the corpse of the stag. We then went in search of a good ambush location. Once we found a suitable one, we trapped it with poisoned caltrops and waited.

Just as we thought we had missed the gnolls, they appeared. Daevon baited them into our trap, and the fight was on. Most of the gnolls proved to be merely a nuisance, but three distinguished themselves as true problems. One was a skilled combatant, and nearly took down several of our group. Another first appeared as a giant spider, and kept us busy with its magic. Finally, there was a grey-furred magic-user who flew above the confrontation with a pair of wings. How curious that we should encounter that same gnoll once again…

We were able to defeat the gnolls with no casualties, and through a combined effort prevented the grey-furred caster from escaping. We even managed to capture their shape-shifting shaman, who grudgingly provided us with the location of the main gnoll camp, and even that there are three command camps within the larger one.

The gnolls had with them a group of farmers they had captured and a great deal of money that they had stolen from the locals and from the thieves we had encountered the day before. To help the farmers, we sent them home with a large portion of the money.

Today we finally scouted the camp. Now with two implements of flying, Telsyn and I were able to scout different areas at the same time. I went north-northeast, and saw several towers, a storehouse, and large kennels where the gnolls were breeding hyenas, presumably to grow their army. Just before returning to camp, I saw a port the gnolls were constructing on the river. Telsyn also discovered a location covered with blood and demonic sigils. Well, more covered than the rest of the camp.

Perhaps the most interesting and disturbing thing we saw was an excavation site. The gnolls have hundreds of slaves working on digging out the ruins of an old city. I can’t imagine what horror they hope to find, but I think we should carry out our mission before worrying about the ruins. The others don’t seem to agree, but I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement.

Chapter 16: The Best-Laid Plans for Hyena Men

The task would be daunting, even for a team of experienced monks. Somewhere in the Gnolls’ army camp hides the Fang, the lynchpin to the swelling horde. How could this group, largely composed of clumsy humans, find and eliminate this chief without falling to the army he’s created?

The army is camped in the Ashlands: open terrain, providing little cover for infiltration. They’ve ceased their progress towards Respite, and seem content for now to simply send out raiding parties for supplies and to calm the beasts’ bloodlust. And, unfortunately, take prisoners: clearly these are the humans that the Fang is transforming to grow his ranks. The Fang is wisely not leaving the safety of his army.

Various plans were concocted. Caleb’s divination powers are too limited in scope to cover the miles-wide camp. Some fool proposed we allow ourselves to be taken captive, as an easy one-way ticket to the Fang. Ultimately we decided that an invisible flyover for recon would be the safes first step.

But of course, complications arose. En route to the Tillerson family farm (a recent victim of a raid that we could track towards the camp), bandits struck. They were an undisciplined lot: an enslaved wizard, a handful of nobodies, and the one leader who seemed willing and able to fight. He fell quickly, and the wizard escaped. We convinced the remainder to show us to their (recently raided) cache and then leave to join the king’s army.

We tracked the gnolls that had raided said cache, and found that they weren’t just carrying twice-stolen goods. They had taken prisoners. Though its disappearance may increase alertness in the camp, and following a party of prisoners could be our easiest way of finding the Fang, clearly we could not take the chance. We have decided to launch a rescue mission. Tenaius has a supply of poison, and gnolls are known to scavenge: a treated, partially-eaten animal corpse in their path should make them easy pickings.

Chapter 15: J.R.R. TrollKing

So far, most of what we’d found in the sewers was pretty much what you’d expect, right? Trash, trash monsters, cave-y bits, running water. The weirdest bit was the faefolk’s little kingdom. It gets weirder, trust me.

But first let’s start with the weirdness of the fae. You remember I said that Queen Christmas gave us presents when we passed through, but told us to open them later? Well, right after we got cleaned up after the fight with the trash monster, they started blinking like we should open them. Which is, like, five or ten minutes after we got them? Maybe she wanted us to prove ourselves in one fight first? Who can tell with the fae.

Anyhow, we opened them up. I got a nice blue cloak that’s surprisingly tough; it should help keep me a bit more safe. Some of the other gifts were useful, like Daevon’s boots, Tharn’s quiver, and Fourth’s belt. Others seemed like useless junk, except that they were magic, like Caleb’s little eagle statue and Telsin’s ring. And of course Lucky’s rock. It sure was nice of Queen Christmas to give us these, and while I said bad things about the timing before, I wish more folks would give out useful gear before the fighting starts like she did.

I mentioned the sewer would get weirder. We left the clean water to go into what the fae called the “drumming walk” and we could see why since not far down it we heard a very regular set of footsteps. Then we saw what the fae had called “clanks”. Now, dwarves would have been weird to find. Mechanical dwarves would have been really weird. Mechanical dwarves with one big eye in their belly instead of heads would have been bizarre. These things were mechanical dwarves with one big eye in their belly instead of heads with wings. Super weird. There were about a dozen of them, and it seemed like they were cleaning the tunnel.

The fae were clearly afraid of them, but advised us to play it cool. We tried following slowly behind the clanks hoping they wouldn’t notice us, but they did. A group came over and… looked at us. Didn’t say anything. But they didn’t cause us any trouble. I should mention that they had javelins and swords and things, so I was real glad they didn’t want a fight. We kept slowly following them instead of trying to push past, and soon enough the fae led us through a side door.

The room we came into… it was a huge round room with a giant glowing blue crystal just floating in the middle of it. After only having the light that Daevon cast, it was nice to be able to see a bit better, but damn. Did you know that sort of thing was under the city? I did not. It makes me worry what else the Necromancer King might have left hidden under there. Speaking of which, at the bottom of the room were more mechanical guys, including one that looked bigger and meaner than the others we’d seen. We followed the fae down around the edge of the room and out another door pretty quickly.

The clanks clearly hadn’t been to the next hallway, because it was covered in a gross layer of slime. It wasn’t too bad to walk through, but it apparently caused trouble for the fae. We found Twiggy, one of the missing fae, stuck in the gunk. The squirrel, Poppy’s animal companion, was there too. Which is good, because the squirrel was fighting off another fae we hadn’t met before. He called himself Nyx, and apparently he was from a competing fae court, the Bitterroot. Tharn wasted no time shooting at him, and he ran away pretty much right after. So now the Bitterrot Court has a reason to hate us, which isn’t good. Might not be a problem, though; the Shining Throne fae told us that the troll king was guarding a secret entrance to the Bitterroot Court that they could use to ambush them. I hope they did.

Speaking of the troll king, Twiggy told us that Poppy had been taken by minions of the troll king like we thought, and that his place was near. Sure enough we found a door covered in danger signs in Sylvan and Guttergab, and the fae said they wouldn’t go any farther, since their weapons couldn’t hurt the troll king. So we went in without them.

Sure enough (we thought), there’s the troll king. Big guy, fancy plate armor, huge sword. And a crown floating over his head, to show he’s the king I guess. Tharn took a shot at him maybe trying to catch him off-guard, but it seemed to just vanish before it got near him. This has us worried. Then a beam of heat shot out of the crown nearly frying us, which had us more worried. Daevon rushed up to draw his anger, but that’s when we found out we were all wrong. This thing couldn’t even get angry. When Daevon got close to the troll he went shluck like he ran into a wall of thick oatmeal or something. Daevon told me later that the right word to use is “gelatinous”, and that other people have found these things before. Anyhow, it turns out it was actually this giant clear cube that was trouble, and the troll was just a statue.

So, now that we knew what we were dealing with, we went to town on it. Lucky blasted it with spells, I yanked Daevon out (which is how I learned it’s made of some sort of mega-acid that stings like hell), then chopped it with my glaive. Tharn actually pulled out his sword after the first arrow seemed to vanish, but eventually decided arrows were more effective, and he had no trouble hitting it.

I should mention that Poppy was there like we hoped, and after Caleb got him conscious Telsin rushed him to safety. Which was good, because that cube didn’t stand still while we wailed on it. It could make some kind of jelly arm thing, which it swung at me, which hurt a lot. Worse, one time it slid quick across the room right at us! I managed to jump out of the way, but Caleb didn’t. He got caught deep in it, and passed out pretty quick. (Don’t worry, we got him out and he was okay.) Also, the crown kept shooting beams at us.

I figured the crown must be what was making it so angry, and managed to rip it out with my glaive. Sure enough, the very next pair of shots from Tharn made the thing explode into harmless goo without the crown to hold it together. Phew.

Lucky us, there was even a bunch of cash hidden in the room, along with some potions and magic horseshoes. I don’t know if someone rode a horse down there, or what. It wouldn’t have fit very well. Anyhow, with our work done we decided to retrace our steps and get out of there back to some fresh air. Firo stayed right in the “Troll King”’s room, to try to trick the other fae into thinking it was still a dangerous place. The trip out was pretty easy, but it was late by the time we got out, so we called it a night. Tharn went with Caleb, who cured his poison the next day.

Now that the threat to the fae kingdom was dealt with we got back to the business of protecting the real kingdom from gnolls. We caught a ride on Isaac Hull’s boat upriver to Woodbean. On the way we could see some of the impact the gnolls had had, with some refugees heading towards Glissana and some soldiers riding north.

Once we got to Woodbean we thanked Isaac and set about looking for horses. There weren’t any to be had, though. One merchant said we should ask with the couriers, but as we were heading that way I spotted a shifty-looking guy tailing us. I walked up to him and asked him directions, to get a better look and see how he reacted and so on. But then it turns out he’s with the Queensguard — Tenaius he said his name was. I don’t know why he didn’t just come up and introduce himself. But anyhow he says he has horses we can take, which is good.

But before we left, since I was thinking of the couriers anyhow, I figured I’d send you a letter. You know, just in case. Take care. I hope the new place is nice — maybe I’ll get a chance to see it once these gnolls are dealt with.

Your son,

Chapter 14: Sewer? I 'ardly know'er!

Pixie Protection Protocol (Patent Pending) Prescribes Pecuniary Penalties, Preventing Precis Promulgation.

Chapter 13: up all night to get Lucky

Let me tell you, it was quite a spectacle…

Your little halfling father, barely 3-feet tall, decked out in blue and gold full plate, dancing on the water with the lovely Natalie Ash, nearly twice his height and draped in her stunning silver gown, reflecting rainbows…



I got ahead of myself. But really, it was a spectacle! We were dancing in this fae glade under the moonlight. The glade that somehow magically existed within Bradenford’s empty castle.

Well, except it wasn’t really empty at that time because we were there… More like, it was usually vacant but was hosting the Election Ball following that famous first election tie. At the time, we didn’t actually know Natalie would tie Eimead for the governorship — frankly I’m not sure anyone knew a tie was even possible at that time — and instead were just celebrating the freedom to actually have an election and choose our direction. As you’ve learned in school, it was occasionally awkward and weird as everyone figured things out, but things turned out surprisingly well.

So yeah. We were back from our first great adventure, the part with Marrow I told you about before, and enjoying a respite in the city. Not in Respite this time, but Glissana. The city. Got to visit people, do some shopping, some exploring, and we happened to be in town for the election and subsequent masquerade ball party.

The party was the place to be. Almost all the local nobles were there, mostly in fae finery; Mordren, Baliff, Jones, Stoneriver, Haustchka, Chime, Leyflower, and of course Ash. The Norris twins, Lady Ortessa and Lord Aetil, Lady Kara, Oddwald, Conarer Durgling, Lord Valcont Renar, Levansine, Arleyand, Eimead, Yewellar, Lady Schan, Queen Glissana, Robbie Flay, Dracaena, Alder Gallvi, Diusaso, and so many more.

Oh the costumes were wonderful! Our number included my Crittease finery, plus an Angel, magic halo and all, a wolf/human pair, a simple black panther, and a shiny thunderbird. Then there was Natalie’s stormy rainbow number, a clever apparatus of kwalish costume, a spotless pair in magic shifting black and white, at least one succubus with the horns and wings, a pirate, a coyote like the deus from stories, a hydra, a stag, Brigit, and even a beauty who seemed to be wearing just a set of drifting clouds. OH! And there was even a black swan to go with Tuiz’s white one!

It was a good party. Tasty eats. Good music. Interesting people. Cool magical effects. And then the whole thing came to a screeching halt.

Turned out the hydra costume was chuck full of assassins who had it out for this one noble guy. Despite our best efforts and the combined efforts of several other guests, the poor guy was poisoned and didn’t make it. But boy did the hammer come down on the assassins. Some of them even survived. Turned out it was just some petty noble’s squabble. I wish they’d chosen a better time rather than ruining the party.


The point?

You don’t just want to hear me reminisce about the olden days?

Well fine. It is late. Three notable things came out of our night at the ball. Firstly, we met a bunch of remarkable people and established the beginnings of some very useful future relationships. Secondly, I fulfilled my part of a previous bargain with Flay. And thirdly, we met Queen Glissana herself, in secret, and accepted our mission to the north, wherein we crushed the gnoll Fang.

But that’s a story for another day.

Chapter 12: Clues, Blood, and Justice

Breaking and entering isn’t how I planned to start the day, but life is full of surprises…

Today was spent helping Tuiz solve the mystery of his friend’s death. If this were up to me, I would work with the authorities (in this case, the Queensguard) to try to gain as much information as possible, but Tuiz and Caleb don’t agree. Therefore, we gathered information in our own way.

When we arrived at Miranya’s home, I was surprised to discover that Lucky, on top of his magical abilities, is a skilled lockpick! He was able to easily gain us entry to the living quarters, where the others looked around for some clue as to what might have made her a target. Tuiz found a series of diaries that Miranya had kept, and Lucky found a bronze medallion with imagery showing an iris and a heart. Unfortunately, the diaries are encrypted, and no one recognized the symbol.

After our foray into crime, we rushed to the Caved Inn to meet with Mattrim for lunch, as planned. He offered to send a guide to take us to his “guild hall” in the destroyed section of the city. Apparently that area is fairly dangerous, and the guild hall is hidden.

Once Mattrim had left, we were approached by a suave man who introduced himself as Robbie Flay. While that name meant nothing to me, he is a very influential man in the shadowy side of the city. Those of us more familiar with the city told me that he is leader of one of the large rival gangs, The Crypts.

Robbie came with a proposition for Lucky and Telsin. He would provide us with information if they were willing to create a diversion at an unspecified time and place. The diversion would be used as cover for stealing an item. Telsin refused, but Lucky agreed. I expect only trouble from this arrangement. Robbie told us that Miranya had been working for Natalie Ash’s campaign, giving us some much-needed direction in our search.

After that encounter, we went to the Ash campaign headquarters, where Tuiz discovered that a rival candidate had set someone to follow Miranya.

From here, we split up. I spoke with Tuiz to try to learn more about the wounds on Miranya’s body. From his description, they seem consistent with a large wolf. However, wolves would not be comfortable in a heavily populated area like a city, making a random attack highly unlikely. Given the apparent intent behind the attack, I suspect a werewolf, or some other intelligent beast.

Meanwhile, Telsin trailed two errand-boys from the Eimead campaign, trying to discover if the killing was possibly politically motivated. He was unsuccessful, but Lucky was able to track down the man who had actually tailed Miranya. Given that he was telling everyone who would listen, it wasn’t particularly hard. His testimony ruled out political motives, as he had discovered and reported that Miranya had not been working on a secret campaign strategy.

In the evening, we went to meet our guide at the intersection of Redheart and Cloverfield. After he did not arrive for some time, we made our way into the ruins without him. We were soon set upon by an Ettercap, who we defeated with the help of a few sprites. After the victory, the sprites helped us find our guide, who had been killed nearby.

Fortunately, Tuiz was able to remember the way, and led us to the guild hall. Once inside, we were ambushed by a robed cultist and a group of zombies in Blood Hunter garb. While Lucky was dealing with the zombies, one of them darted out, and revealed himself as a living assassin, and a quite good one. We emerged from the struggle victorious, and were able to find Mattrim who had fortunately survived.

Mattrim took us to a chamber deeper within the hall, where we met with other members of the blood hunters. They told us that we had just defeated members of the Nadir, a group that seeks to restore the necromancer king. They had discovered that Miranya was working on a formula that would improve the senses of the user. The Nadir had her killed to prevent her work from being completed, but fortunately, she had already sent her findings to Tuiz.

The last few pieces of information we were given were that the Nadir had been aided by someone in the nobility, and that we had made ourselves targets. We should expect an attack, likely at the ball. I am certain that the next few days will be quite interesting.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.