Kast

Chapter 15: J.R.R. TrollKing
Tuiz

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,
Tuiz

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

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

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Chapter 13: up all night to get Lucky
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…

Wait.

Sorry.

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.

What?

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.

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Chapter 12: Clues, Blood, and Justice
Tharn

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.

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Chapter 11: Murder on the Rue Arrant
Tuiz, in a Room in the Lilith Memorial Library

“Let’s start with what we know. My mentor, Miranya, who just last week was making alchemical breakthroughs, was found dead in the street a block from the hospital. It looked like she’d been mauled by some animal — she was covered in gashes. Her sleeve poison had been used, but her dagger wasn’t drawn, so she must have been caught by some surprise but not totally. The satchel containing her notes, that she almost always keeps with her, was missing.

That’s about all we know. Let’s consider suspects.

I think we can rule out a random killing. A beast wouldn’t have taken her satchel, and a thief would have taken more of her stuff. It was probably one of her enemies.

It could be one the necromancer king’s undead lieutenants. The brutality and exposed location doesn’t seem like Pendergath’s work, though it could be that he’s trying to send some message with how he did it. It might be Sable — he’s never liked the blood hunters. Though I wouldn’t expect him to be working by day. Maybe it was one of Woodheart’s twisted experiments? It could be any of them.

I guess it could be related to this gnoll trouble? We ran into that band on the plateau, and word in the city is that gnolls in the north are getting almost organized. Maybe whoever is leading them (it could be Brunt… hmmm) maybe whoever it was sent a gnoll assassin in to take out a threat.

It could be one of the Crips. There’s rumors of more fighting than usual between them and the Bloods lately. I didn’t think that sort of street fighting would reach up to Miranya, but it definitely could be.

It could have been political? The election is coming right up, and some might kill over it. We happened to run into both Eimead and Natalie Ash earlier in the day in the streets, separately. Eimead’s bastardly enough to do something like this, but I don’t know what he has against Miranya, unless he killed her just to get at me, which doesn’t seem likely. His connections with the merchants of the city certainly give him a chance to hire someone to do something like this. Natalie Ash is the sort of fancy pants noble who doesn’t think the lives of little people matter, so she could have done it, but I don’t think she had any motive. I should check if Miranya was getting involved in politics, and maybe got on someone’s bad side.

Those are all the suspects I can think of. I suppose we can quickly run through alibis. It seems like she was probably killed while we were in Yewellar’s shop buying masks. But in case it was earlier than that, let me refresh my memory of where we went, going backwards. Before Yewellar’s we were shopping for magic items in the Codex’cade, at the Broken Binding and The Quill is Mightier. It was there we bumped into Natalie Ash. Before lunch we were shopping for clothing, which is were we saw Eimead.

Probably we should look for witnesses. It was the middle of the street in broad daylight, and it didn’t look like she went down quietly. We’ll also see if Matrim knows anything, or can tell me more about what the blood hunters have been up to. Assuming Caleb’s street rat friends find him and—.”

Lucky pokes his head in the door. “Hey Tuiz, are you talking to yourself?”

“What? No. I mean, yes, kind of. Sometimes when I have to think about something tricky it helps to talk it through.”

“Alright, I wasn’t judging you. Sometimes I talk to myself too. But you probably should get some rest, it’s been a rough day.”

“I will soon. Good night.”

“G’night.” Lucky left.

Tuiz turned his attention back to the glaive in his lap. “So anyhway Arglarnorogh, that’s what I know. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to stick you in the belly of whoever did this.”

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Chapter 10: The Road Home
Telsin?
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Chapter 9: Ritual of Balance
Daevon

The primary goal of this précis is to accurately capture the Ritual of Balance used to ultimately banish Marrow from our plane of existence. We intend to explore not only the gross facts within that purview but also the greater significance of these events vis–à–vis those theories most well presented in [?],[?], and [?].

Our primary subjects of consideration are those considered in the previous monograph [L].

Pre-Dawn Pre-Ritual

Details suppressed due to the hour.

Minnow Out Evil

Pun based record destruction.

Marrow and Friends

Too many enemies to easily describe.

Possession

A russian nesting doll of pain, as la [Rr].

Denouement

Endings but French [PL].

Concluding Remarks

The conflict was so epic as to prevent simple description, hence the lack of description presented above following the tenets of [SB].

[SB] Stinson, B. Legen….
[LP] Le Peu, Pepe. Everything is Fancier when Frenchified.
[KR] Kukla, R., Kukl, R., Kuk, R. et al. It is What is on the Inside of the Inside That Counts.

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Interlude
Excerpts from the People v. Caleb Windseeker

“To understand why I did what I… what we all choose to do, you have to understand the whole story, the bigger picture and what we knew was at stake. The story makes the most sense out of order, when it makes sense at all, but you have to keep in mind: we always thought we were the heroes.

The day was ours to prepare how we liked for the coming Ritual that would cleanse the world of Marrow’s corruption. I chose to seek the wisdom of an old hero because the path I walked back then seemed so unclear to me. I told him of my troubled past, my family lost in the liberation day battle, growing up with my adopted sister, the abuses we both suffered at our… father’s hands…. How one day I confronted him and the storm of anger inside of me broke and he was struck down by powers I didn’t yet understand. I told him of my flight from my home, of struggling in vain to control the storm still raging inside of me. I told him of my wanderings in the wilderness and stumbling upon a forgotten shrine to the Deus of Winds and the monks there who sheltered me. They showed me how to channel my anger, how to think about the world, and gave me my purpose: Windseeker they called me. Roshi offered me words of comfort and guidance before he decided to visit a nearby river and spend his last day singing. He was a better man than we suspected.

Meanwhile my companion, Tuiz Burdenbearer, had a mysterious conversation with a shapeshifting thunder dragon in disguise. He told the dragon he left his home seeking vengeance, that he faces danger to protect his friends, and that he would risk everything to win his war against the Necromancer King’s fallen lieutenants. He suddenly woke from this dreamlike conversation when a thunderous crack echoed across the plateau.

Lucky, another companion of mine, awoke in far different circumstances! He once told me his harrowing tale of finding himself captured by savage gnolls, unsure if he was dreaming. He cleverly escaped his bonds and fled the warcamp, but was dragged back by their beast companions. He bravely offered his life to save another prisoners, but the grizzled Gnoll leader, dark of fur and wielding a stolen glaive, mocked his chivalry and executed the other prisoner without remorse.

Earlier that same day…. What’s that, councilor? Yes, I do realize I’m telling the story out of order, but I find it makes the most sense this way…. For the last time, no councilor! That’s not a plea of insanity. As I was saying, earlier that same morning, Telsin, began an intense game — well he described it as ‘tag’ — with a stranger shroud in shadow. The two darted away with quickness that only a lifetime of training could supply. The wild chase ended in part test part combat as Telsin faced an ancient apprentice of Roshi, and heir to his earthsong style, snatched out of time by the Necromancer King’s cruel magic. Their fierce battle creating the earthshattering crack heard by the others. After defeating her, she offered to join him as a student or teach him her secret technique. Telsin chose to take her as an apprentice and the two returned to Roshi’s hut.

Next we tell the tale of Kimya, whose curiosity nearly got the best of her, when she stalked a crystalline butterfly to a cavern linking this world to the place of Earth. Lucky, curious as well, followed and the two solved a strange puzzle of many hued crystals and were rewarded with a large diamond war hammer. Upon leaving the cave with their new treasure, they were ambushed by gnolls. Lucky turned to flee into the cave only to find it’s passage now sealed. Kimya risked her live (and very nearly lost it) escaping to warn the others of Lucky’s capture. Limping back to Roshi’s hut she encountered Tharn — her lifelong friend and companion — who had noticed Lucky’s disappearance and was tracking him to the cave she had only just fled.

Tharn displayed his mastery of nature skills to gather the rest of the party and deftly lead them through a difficult mountain pass to the gnoll camp where out companion faced almost certain death. Tharn chose to attack the gnolls quickly yet without mercy and to a beast ridded the world of those who threatened his friends and companions. A silver-furred gnoll leader who wielded chain whip escaped on batlike wings when the tide of battle turned and the dark-furred gnoll captain was slain in combat. I myself blacked out during the fight and my companions tell me I was lucky to survive. I guess we all were… At the time we were hardly troubled by the red fang sigil on the gnoll’s armor. Overcome with relief to find Lucky still alive I would guess.

Knowing our hardest trial awaited in the predawn hours we began our weary walk back to Roshi’s hut. Do you understand a little now? They were more than friends to me, we were more than family. Our bond, the risks we shared, what we would eventually …sacrifice… All of it has to mean something! It has to!"

Caleb’s testimony is drown out by the angry cracks of a gavel as the Judge silences him and quells the emotions running through the courthouse with a stern look.

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Chapter 8: Adventures in the Sky
Excerpt from Tharn's Journal

After defeating the manticores, we decided to rest a short while and take a closer look at the room. Three of the walls of the room were decorated with elaborate carvings. The far wall appeared to depict the founding of the monastery. The left wall showed the daily routine when the monastery was active, but this wall had been damaged by what were clearly marks for counting. We couldn’t tell what had been counted, but the marks could have been made by the monsters we had defeated. The right wall was a row of portraits carved in the stone. It’s possible that these were the former leaders of the monastery. Some of the portraits, mostly the more recent ones, had been (literally) defaced, probably by whatever had made the marks on the other wall.

Moving on, Telsin and I scouted ahead in an attempt to avoid being taken by surprise again. The hallway sloped downward, and seemed to have a very slight curve to it. After a short while, we reached a glimmering door and decided to go back for the rest of the group.

Once we were all ready to move again, we proceeded down the hallway and through door. The door opened onto a fairly wide walkway hanging in the air. Once we were through, Lucky closed the door behind us, and it just disappeared! With only one option we moved forward, and noticed that the walkway was disappearing behind us. At the end of the walkway, we reached a large stone platform hanging in the air, seemingly unsupported. The platform itself was set with intricate stonework depicting two intertwined dragons, one black and one white. On the platform were three statues; an onyx owl, golden eagle, and silver dragon. The far side of the platform had two doors, which were at the same time repelled us, and attracted us. It was like feeling fear and warmth from the same thing at the same time. In the center of the platform was a table of light food and drink.

Now that we were on stable ground, we were able to examine our surroundings. Caleb deduced that we were no longer in Kast, but had been teleported to the elemental plane of air. He recommended that we not jump off the platform, as the fall was not simply long, but actually unending. I don’t think any of us had really considered that option.

The layout of the platform made it fairly clear that we were supposed to pick one of the doors. While we were talking, we were surprised by an additional voice! It turned out that the statues were able to talk, and provided some insight into which door we should take. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to agree on much. One would tell us both doors were safe, another would say he was lying. Regardless of how many absurd questions we asked, we never got any useful informaton. It. Was. Infuriating! But at least we had snacks.

Finally, we decided to check the doors. At least, the others did, while I hid behind a statue. I’ve found too many traps recently, and wanted to leave this place in one piece. The doors both opened safely, and both led to a stone passageway like the one we had followed to this place. After a few experiments with coins, we determined that both doors led to the same place… We had worried, and wasted all that time when the decision didn’t matter.

Moving forward, we again heard the sound of bells, telling us that we were truly back in the monastery. After a short while, we entered a room filled with a white mist tinted with hints of red, gold, and yellow, like the sky at dawn. To the right and left of us were two statues, and the far side of the room narrowed to a hallway whose floor was a fine grate. Trying to cross the grate caused Tuiz to burst into flame. Another puzzle.

With nothing else around, we tried moving the statues. The slid surprisingly easily, and beneath them were more grates like the passage ahead. With the statues moved, the flow of whatever was causing the fire was redirected, and we were able to continue through the passageway.

Our success was short-lived, as the following room was much the same, but with four statues. This time, there were no grates under the statues, so we were left somewhat perplexed. Again with nothing else to try, Tuiz and I went back to the previous room and moved the statues back to their original positions. With the grates again covered, we were unable to proceed to the second room, but Lucky was able to get out. Once past this puzzle, the hallway split, with closed doors down either path. Removing the statues again caused the left door to open.

Past the door, Lucky found a lever and two closed, but unlocked chests. Pulling the lever opened the right door, allowing the rest of us were able to move through, and opened the right door. With all of us in the room, we checked the chests. The first one contained gems and potions, but the second was a mimic! Lucky had tried to open the mimic, and his hands were stuck to it. During the fight, Tuiz managed to remove most of Lucky from the mimic, Caleb was grabbed by a pseudopod from the mimic, and with each attack, more of Telsyn’s limbs were stuck to the mimic. Finally, despite how bad the situation seemed, I managed to deal the final blow with a well-placed arrow.

Leaving this room, we continued through the other door, and found ourself in the ritual chamber! Two other hallways opened from it, much like the one we had entered through, and there was another door into a smaller room. In this room, we encountered the same adventurer from the courtyard. He looked as though he had had a rough time as well. He said that the weapon he was looking for was not here, but that he had found some useful treasure in the other room. Instead of fighting, he offered to take one piece of his choosing and leave the rest for us. Since we were in no condition for another fight, we accepted his proposal.

The treasure room had a pedestal in each corner, one of which was empty, leaving 3 items. One item was a small pearl, another a pair of gauntlets, and the third a broom. I chose to take the broom, as it was the most out-of-place of the three. In addition to these, there were also several papers, finely inlaid with gold and well illuminated. None of us were able to tell what they meant, but I gathered them to show to Daevon, who would appreciate them more than the rest of us.

With all that done, we left the monastery through a now empty pathway, and returned to Roshi’s hut.

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Chapter 7: a castle in the clouds
Lucky

So last time I was telling you about how I started off adventuring with my friends. We ended up with the skull of Marrow to destroy and in the process enlisted the help of the monk Roshi, may he rest in peace.

We’d collected three moxen for Roshi‘s ritual and needed just one more — one that was guarded by a beholder. Nasty, evil, eye-monsters that they are, we tried to rig up a trap to pierce its main eye as soon as we defrosted it. That didn’t work out, but were able to defeat the beholder without much trouble anyway. It must have still been slightly frozen or something because it just wasn’t that mean; it barely affected us with its magic before I shattered it (and part of the cave) and it got skewered by a falling crystal. That wasn’t the coolest part though; the credit for that goes to Telsin and his epic wall-jump-three-hit-combo. Interestingly, with the beholder defeated, the purple crystals began to lose their luster; strange magic.

After working our way out of the old monk cave system/vault with an assist from an earth elemental, we headed up to the cloudsong monastery. Most beautiful location I’ve ever seen. Perched on this precipice high in the clouds… We were fortunate it was somewhat clear as we hiked up in the morning. Truly breathtaking views.

Entering the main monastery courtyard, we found we weren’t the only visitors to the old monastery. Some treasure hunter was there already… Beezil? Braxtil? Bordal? I think, Braxtil (shakes head) It’s not important. Anyway, he was there with some gargoyles looking for some ancient weapon fragments. As we were looking for a ritual chamber, we decided to let him do his own thing while we did ours. Then a third party showed up. The big bird folks disagreed with Braxtil. They fought. The birds lost. While we saved one, Braxtil vanished deeper into the monastery.

The courtyard featured three prominent doors: the path of peace, the path of enlightenment, and the path of awareness. We chose to explore the path of peace first. Ironically, the first thing we found down that dark, carved-stone route was three angry manticores. Telsin attempted parley, but they were not to be bargained with. We were forced to kill the evil beasts.

Oh goodness! Look at the time. I’ll have to tell you about the trial of peace later. Remind me to also tell you about the stories Roshi relayed to us before we headed up to the monastery. You’ll recognize the story I tell about uncle Yoshi and the moon. Oh, and one final thing! Before we went up to the monastery we received mail! Such a wonderful use of runic magic!

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