Rathay and Gul
........After adjusting our almanacs which failed to account for certain
perturbations in the ether which altered the conjunction of Rathay and Gul for a period of one week, we finally
witnessed the promised eclipse.
Gathering up our troops, we hastened to the
Undead Village to seek the perfect orb which offered the only hope for Xema's
eventual cure. .........
Our faithful band had no sooner gathered at the Drunken Giant for some
well deserved restoration from the day's activities then Chesia suddenly
appeared. She seemed somewhat agitated having sensed some unknown stress
in the psychic fabric of Tyr. Shortly after she had calmed herself with a
dose of Iono's scuppernog, Tedham strolled in. He had been sent by the
lady M'Thari in search of some "masked ones"; a somewhat mistaken
reference to our Veiled Alliance. It seemed that the lady M'Thari
wished to speak with us again. Tedham, who obviously does not enjoy his
new duties, again bemoaned the recent changes in his employer Sinak of the House
of Shom. Sinak seems now to have only the welfare and pleasure of the lady
M'Thari on his mind. We all agreed to accompany Tedham to the House of
Shom to see what the lady M'Thari desired.
Upon arrival at the House of Shom, we heard excited talk from the inner
courtyard. Slipping past the guards we found the lady M'Thari in
conversation with a verini by the name of Xorex. It soon became clear that
we had been summoned so that Xorex could examine the designs on the card decks
received from the House of Ankhor and the gemstone baubles taken from the
illithids. Xorex insisted on being allowed to handle the original decks and
baubles. After assurances that they would be promptly returned, we allowed
him to do so. He immediately became very agitated and the identity of the
mysterious "captive" became clear; as well as the deep involvement of
the House of Ankhor in these evil proceedings. The designs contained a
concealed message from a female verini named Xema who is very important to Xorex.
Apparently she had been forced to create the designs and had managed to insert a
secret message in them. Unfortunatly, the message said only that she was a
captive and gave no indication of her whereabouts but the note taken last week
from the two templar henchmen apparently refers to her.
It was quickly decided that, since the illithids are expecting a meeting
on Friday with the templars, that we would attend this meeting disguised as
templars. Unfortunately, we do not know where this meeting is to be.
Chesia, however, sensed that the stress in the psychic aura she had detected
came from a link between Xorex and Xema. It is hoped we can trace this link and
discover the meeting place. It is suspected that Xema might be held in the
obsidian mines since Xorex says obisdian has properties that block psychic
The lady M'Thari again spoke of her wish to return the Chalice of Hope to
Nilenay but it was noted by several of us that she knows far more of our comings
and goings than one would expect of a former dance hall girl. She bears
Tonight we returned to Shom’s garden to meet with M’Thari, Tedham,
and Xorex. Our mission was simple, we had to rescue Xema.
First off, M’Thari reported the bodies of two templars had been found.
They were badly mangled after being attacked and savaged by dune reapers. (They
really should be more careful crossing the desert alone, but then a good templar
is a dead …. , but I digress.) Some of us wondered if the templars could have
met a different fate, and reapers only found their carcasses. If that was the
case, templars need to be buried in a deeper hole, so the desert vermin can’t
get to them.
Tedham produced what was left of their clothing. M’Thari commented
something about ‘standard desert disguise for templars.’ Since we strongly
suspected that Xutan’s templars were behind Xema’s kidnapping, M’Thari had
also procured two sets of templar clothes for disguises – red hats, cloaks,
and sandals. The plan was for two of our party to be disguised as templars, and
this would aid us in getting to where Xema was held.
Our next task was to figure out where she might be. Fortunately, Xorex
was some help here. Through some mental images from Xema, he was able to
‘see’ Xema in an open area, the top of an altar, the top of which blazed
red, a stone wall, and perhaps the intense sun. Though this seemed like
gibberish, we decided that Kled was the most likely place to start our search.
Thus, two of our party donned the templar red disguises. Xorex also
changed his appearance, he put on a black hooded cowl and cape, and deftly hid
his tail. We were off to Kled.
Once we got to Kled, several us scouted around, looking in vain for any
signs. These were all for naught, but finally Xorex was able to establish a
brief mental link to Xema. Then it happened. She appeared behind the Kled city
wall, being led by two Illithids, Rathoras and Nislor. She was weak and barely
able to walk, having suffered gravely from the mind flayers mental assaults.
The flayers brought her outside the walls of the city, and our templar
imposters confronted them. They demanded that the ‘prisoner’ be turned over
to them for safekeeping. While they haggled with the Illithids, others in our
party skillfully maneuvered Xema away from them. Once she was safely aside, we
launched our attack.
Though we were vicious in our first blows, the flayers were not
unprepared. They had been wary, and thwarted these first attacks. However, we
kept up the onslaught, and Rathoras quickly fell.
Nislor was another matter. He was stronger willed than Rathoras, and was
able to inflict considerable pain on many of our party. He was especially intent
in injuring Xema, and we had our hands full in trying to protect her. Finally,
the death blow was given and Nislor crumbled to the ground. (Should I repeat his
full name here, so all Illithids will know who died? Nissshorulassthessnathess.
There, it has been uttered for the last time.) But even in his death throes, he
lashed out at Xema, and she was gravely stricken.
Though we had beaten the Illithids, Xema teetered on the brink. Her mind
had been shattered by the flayers, and she was on the ground, her tail twitching,
barely alive. She needed help, and quickly. Several of us realized Chesia back
in Tyr would be her best hope. Quickly, Xema was scooped up and we fled with her
back toward Tyr. Hopefully, we will get her to Chesia in time (next Tuesday).
This evening, we again gathered in the Drunken Giant and were soon joined
by Chesia, who had returned from her journey. She was quickly brought up
to date on the happenings of last Friday and of the rescue of Xema, the verini,
from the clutches of the illithids; of how our valiant band had attacked two of
the squid faced ones, killed them after a long struggle, and brought Xema back
to the House of Shom. When Chesia learned of the terrible mental injuries
Xema had suffered, she immediately agreed that we should all immediately visit
the House of Shom and see what Chesia could do to heal her.
Upon arriving at the House of Shom, it soon became apparent that matters
were very grave. Xema was barely alive and perhaps even beyond Chesia’s
powers to save. It was at this point that the troubling question arose of
what Xema might know about the Chalice of Hope. Chesia indicated that she
could search for the information in Xema’s mind, but that the intrusion would
surly kill her. Healing her might destroy the information or, once well,
she might refuse to tell. Xorex, who as might be expected was very one
sided about this decision, insisted that he knew nothing of the Chalice and that
Xema knew no more than he did. Against this declaration was the question of why
the illithid were so interested in Xema if she knew so little. After much
painful deliberation, our group decided in favor of healing Xema first and
seeking what information she may have retained after she was well.
Chesia quickly realized that healing Xema was beyond her power without
certain items to help. With Xorex’s assisance, Chesia determined that
magic blossoms, spider silk, strips of red cloth, and obsidian dust (or an
obsidian orb to grind up) would be needed. In addition, she spoke of a
mind orb needed to concentrate her powers. None of our band knew what this
last item was but Xorex spoke of a legend that relates how intellect devourers,
who have a taste for the semi-intelligent undead, raid villages where they may
be found. If such a raid occurs during the dark of the moons, the
intellect devourers will produce perfect mind orbs. It seems we may learn
more of this foul process for the dark of the moons are next Friday and we must
seek at least one of these orbs if Xema is to be healed.
After adjusting our almanacs which failed to account for certain
perturbations in the ether which altered the conjunction of Rathay and Gul
for a period of one week, we finally
witnessed the promised eclipse.
Gathering up our troops, we hastened to the
Undead Village to seek the perfect orb which offered the only hope for Xema's
arrival, we were saddened to learn that the village was currently set upon by
the clueless living, as well as the mindless undead and intellect devourers
which we expected to find. Several of our band were able to keep Syrik
[sic] and his henchmen preoccupied with childish banter, buying the rest of us
enough time to seek out the orbs for which we had trekked across the waste.
myself lucked out and happened across two of the most excitable i.d.'s in
attendance. Their fervor was so great that they managed to produce seven
of the mind orbs in the short time that I watched them. I'm not sure of
the significance, but they seemed to rather enthralled with my leg... but enough
about that. Between us, our band managed to procure 13 or 14 of the
precious mind orbs, and we carefully packed them away for the long trek back to
House Shom and Xema. The remainder of our crew boldly continued to baffle Syrik
[sic] and the rest until we were safely away.
returned to House Shom to find Xorex pacing madly, Xema lying in her bush, and
Chesia patiently awaiting the healing aids which we had promised Fortunately,
one of the orbs we procured was fit for Chesia's needs, and she proceeded to
minister to Xema's ailments, during which Xorex was his usual sunny self.
After some rather extensive mental hocus-pocus, the machinations of which were
beyond my meager abilities to comprehend, Xema returned to consciousness.
she was in no shape at the time to be able to give us any of the information
that we so desperately need, but Chesia predicted that she should be well enough
to talk extensively by Tuesday, and that being the case, we are planning on
gathering <at Shom's?> that day for some rather extensive grilling.
(I think Lor is making arrangements for the burgers, but we still need someone
to supply the chips and the Scup...)
made our way to the House of Shom in anticipation of a full night of information
gathering, and were rewarded well for our hopes. Xema was up and about and
in a fairly talkative mood, enabling us to pursue many of the matters that had
been troubling us of late.
in our band suggested that we play a game of 20 questions with Xema, who
responded well to it, having the emotional maturity of a child as she does.
With Chesia monitoring her condition as we went, here is what we discovered
They kidnapped Xema apparently with the intention of using her Verini gifts to
detect whether the chalice they have recently obtained was actually magical.
Xema, according to her story, felt the telltale "tingle" upon seeing
it, and told them that it was magical, but not specifically what it does.
A "nasty" male templar is currently the possessor of the chalice.
The Templars are using slaves to mine obsidian, which we already knew. What we
didn't know was that they are mining more deeply than normal thanks to Xema's
contribution of a ventilation system to their efforts. Apparently she
modified some kind of child's toy for use in moving the air in the mines.
Sadly, the templars have no way of operating the ventilation system without Xema,
and her absence is mucking up the works to some degree. (Why they just
didn't use the fans that are already in the mines, I don't know. I seem to
remember fooling with them extensively some time ago to solve a poison gas
problem, but what do I know? ;) Because of this, the Templars will be
looking for Xema. Because of that, Xorex has decided to ally with us, as
we are actively involved in hindering the Templars efforts.
The chalice is decorated with scenes of ancient dwarves fighting a great monster
of some kind. According to Xema, the dwarves were depicted as being quite
hirsute, "like humans", and were shown going through some manner of
door. The side where the dwarves were fighting the monster is shown as
having one moon, and the other side is shown with 2 moons. She couldn't
identify the monster, and said that she had not seen its like before.
Unfortunately, she is somewhat lacking in practical experience, so this may not
necessarily indicate that we are dealing with an unknown quantity. This
brings to mind the question of what "hope" it is that the "Chalice
of Hope" represents. Hope and Athas are distant foes in our day,
although this may not have held true at the time of the scene engraved on the
note of interest is the fact that Tedham doesn't seem to completely trust
M'Thari. Given the nature of the art on the Chalice, I think it's safe to
assume that her story (if I remember correctly) about the Chalice's link to
Nibenay is probably false. We should be on our guard.
are to meet with Xorex on Friday to plan out our next move against the
returned to Shom’s garden on Friday eve to check on the health and progress of
the Verini, Xema. The youngster’s recuperative powers must be quite
remarkable as she was bounding (or bouncing) around the garden, and having a
good time playing with her ball. Her zest was a wee bit too much for the
plants and bushes, however. She managed to trample several of them.
noise was barely tolerable to Old Man Shom, but seeing his bushes bent and
broken was too much for the old geezer. He announced that Xema and Xorex
had worn out their welcome (regardless of what M’Thari had said), and they
must leave his garden.
first we complained, but it was to no avail. After some discussion, we
decided the Weeping Widow in Shadow Square would be a good hide-out for the two
Verini. Robes and cloaks were quickly provided and we stealthily moved out
into the streets. We used the less used side streets and alleys, trying to
avoid any Templars. (You should remember that Xema had been kidnapped by
some particularly evil compatriots of Xel, and forced to work for them.) We
successfully dodged two of them out collecting taxes, Templars Takan and Dornal,
and settled into the Weeping Widow.
seems to be our destiny with these two Verini, the two Templars showed up at the
Weeping Widow ready to collect taxes. Despite her best efforts, Xema
was unable to completely control either her tail or her ball, and one of the
Templars recognized her as a Verini underneath her disguise.
quickly sprang to the attack and soon the air was filled with magic, arrows,
curses, and vows of vengeance. While several of us were seriously impeded
and wounded, others of us carried on. Soon the first Templar weakened
under our onslaught, and when he tried to escape, he was cut down as he
approached the door.
second Templar, Takan I believe, stood his ground, but he too became weakened.
The fatal blow was dealt and he too lay dead.
that time, we realized the amulets the Templars had been wearing (or using), no
longer glowed with a magical power. Whatever magic these amulets held, and
whatever knowledge these Templars had about the obsidian mines or about the
Chalice of Hope, died with them.
some day in the future, we may learn how to take hostages - maybe.
interesting occurrences have transpired since we last spoke. I shall mention the
most important item first, as it may have grave consequences for us.
coming Tuesday, we have an appointment to meet with Sr. Administrator Xutan!! He
is most interested in getting his hands around the neck of a ‘renegade’
Verini, and we have made some interesting plans to ‘help’ him. But I am
getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at last Tuesday night. We were meeting
with the two Verini, Xorex and Xema, in the Drunken Giant. Some of us tried to
learn additional details from Xema about her capture by Xutan’s Templars,
while others of us enjoyed the tavern’s spirits, perhaps to excess, but then
perhaps not. The only thing we learned, at least all that I can clearly remember
as my head was aching the next morning, was that Xema was in the vicinity of the
Chalice of Hope, when she was operating the ‘fans’ to pump air into the
obsidian mine. But, Xema has no intention whatever of ever getting close to that
we decided that one of us could impersonate Xema, and that we could then use
this ruse to gain entrance to where the Cup was kept. At least that was our
next night we re-evaluated this ‘plan’ and decided it had some merit. We
would pose as Silverstalkers one more time, and offer to deliver to the Templars
the ‘renegade’ Verini (our imposter – who may or may not be Xorex, I am
unsure of his true intentions at this time). Once we had a contract with the
Templars, we would then take our ‘Verini’ captive to the agreed meeting
place (which would be close to where the Cup was, since the ‘Verini’ would
be needed to operate the mine’s ventilation system). Once there, we would
spring our trap, slay all of the Templars, and liberate the Chalice of Hope. A
most daring plan.
we now needed were some Templars to start the wheels in motion. As luck would
have it, two of them were out collecting taxes in the east end of Caravan Way.
We quickly gathered about them, Templars B’Rela and Larque. We noticed that
they both had dragon sigils, so they must be up to no good. As we bargained with
them, they first demanded that we provide them some evidence about two of their
missing Templar brethren. We offered that we had seen their dead bodies in the
Weeping Widow, and that the Verini had killed them. They were upset, and yet
pleased, to have this confirmation.
offered to track down this Verini, for a contract – remembering our disguise
as Silverstalkers -, but these Templars were not ready to make such a commitment.
However, they finally agreed to arrange an appointment for us with Xutan. There,
we could hammer out the terms of the contract for capturing and delivering the
that brings us to this coming night’s activities. I hope you will find in your
heart to wish us well as we walk into the heart of the lion’s den.
Tuesday, we again met at the Drunken Giant. As previously arranged, we prepared
to meet with Senior Administrator Xutan. Our plan was to pose once more as
silver stalkers (and assistants) and pretend to arrange a contract for
delivering Xema, the Verini, to Xutan in return for what we hoped would be the
Chalice of Hope; or at least information as to its exact location.
then repaired to the Adventurer's Inn where Xutan was enjoying a lavish meal
paid for by the excessive taxes he had recently collected. We approached him
about the matter of a certain escaped white verini and mentioned that we could
arrange to deliver said Verini if he were interested. He immediately showed
great interest but at this point, as is often true with Templars, things became
somewhat difficult. Xutan seemed most interested in offering vague promises of a
temporary reduction in taxes in return for what, to him, would be the recapture
of a most valuable prisoner. Apparently, the real silver stalker tribe has been
negotiating for such a reduction for some time. Our attempts to steer him to
something more concrete (and more specific) proved to be of little avail. After
much discussion, he agreed that, as payment, he would throw in a few trinkets in
addition to the tax reduction. He was most suspicious of our claims to be silver
stalkers and demanded that a known silver stalker representative accompany us to
the next meeting; specifically, Irena, Tarakuu, or Keyvas. We were also able to
get him to state that delivery of the Verini should be made to the gates of the
Templar Inner Sanctum.
was finally decided we would meet with him again in one week at which time, if
we were accompanied by one of the named silver stalkers, he would sign a
contract and specific delivery details would be arranged.
suspect you may still be in shock following our last missive. We realize that
dealing directly with Sr. Administrator Xutan is not unlike walking into a den
of bulettes. You’re always second-guessing yourself, whatever happens.
latest convolution on our long journey to thwart Xel’s plans called for us to
enlist the aid of the Silverstalkers. Xutan has required that they co-sign a
contract for delivery of the ‘killer’ white Verini. We had bargained with
him the previous night, but he was somewhat suspicious of us. So, in order to
guarantee our actions, he would only sign a contract that was co-signed by a
Silverstalker. Our problem was that we had not seen one in several months.
we started our night’s activities, wondering just where in all of the
Tablelands the Silverstalkers were camped. Fortunately, one of us spotted a
commotion in the silt village. A prominent Silverstalker, Irena, was having a
disagreement over payment for a shipment of cloth to a tailor, Miafa. We all
hustled to the Silt Village, and by the time we arrived, the disagreement was
turning ugly. Miafa had two henchmen with her, and she was being very adamant in
not paying Irena for damage goods. We quickly realized that helping Irena
collect this debt could be a good way to have her return the favor and help us
with our contract with Xutan. When Miafa’s henchmen, Fara and Groza, decided
that it was time to take up arms and settle the argument, we were ready for
them. This only took a few moments, as both of these louts were better talkers
than swordsmen. Though, I will say that they can pack quite a wallop when they
do land a blow.
Fara and Groza both dead in pools of their own blood, our attention turned to
Miafa. At first, she was prepared to fight to the death, rather than pay a debt
she did not owe. We all parried blows with her, but in the end we reached an
understanding. Her death served no purpose, and she realized this. So, the
battle ended. She and Irena settled on payment for partial shipment of the goods,
and Irena would take the other goods to Tyr and sell them there.
that settled, we broached the subject of our contract with Xutan. After some
discussion, Irena agreed to co-sign the contract, as long as the Verini would
also sign the contract. As would be expected, her only concern was fulfillment
of the contract, and having the Verini sign was necessary.
shall see how this works out, and how we can manipulate it to our advantage.
evening we met again at the Drunken Giant. As she had promised, Irena of the
Silver Stalkers was present. She was willing to negotiate a contract with Xutan
in return for the help we had given her at the Silt Village last week. First,
she requested a contract between herself and our band which specified what we
were attempting to do and that Xorex was entering into our escapade of his own
free will. This we all signed. The second contract was to be between herself and
Xutan (hence the need for the first contract between her and us.) This contract
was to specify the delivery of one Verini to Xutan in return for lower taxes on
the Silver Stalkers and some additional hard goods.
then repaired to the Adventurer’s Guild where Xutan was again enjoying a
lavish meal at the taxpayers expense. He was quite surprised to see us with
Irena but quickly got down to negotiating as only a Templar can. After much
haggling, he agreed to lower the taxes on the Silver Stalkers and also deliver
+3 single handed swords of good quality in return for the delivery of the Verini
Friday evening to Kled. A major complication arose, however, in that Xutan
insisted that the words "white rogue Verini" be specified in the
contract. This presents a major problem for us since Xorex is obviously green;
as are all male Verini. Perhaps quantities of white paint would be in order for
very interesting additional piece of information was a casual mention by Irena
of a contract for the shipment of "berries" to Xutan. This had nothing
to do with our current business but seemed to encourage Xutan to sign our
contract. Could the Silver Stalkers be in the jav business?
Friday, we gathered in the Drunken Giant with Xorex and Irena to carry out our
plan. The first major problem was Xorex's green color. Xutan had insisted on the
"white" Verini being delivered. Irena brought along a special "cosmetic"
from Mk'rie which fine ladies are accustomed to using when they have had too
much sun. After much persuasion Xorex agreed to an application. However, much to
his horror, he turned what at best could be described as a dull grey. He was
much relieved when he found that wiping off the creme restored his original
vibrant green. We then attempted to make use of the known psionic powers of the
Verini. It is known that the Verini can change their color using mind control
but Xorex said it would take all his energy and last only a short time unless he
had some psychic object to help maintain his focus. Fortunately, Loraque could
provide a fully charged psi sphere made by Xema. It worked perfectly and in a
moment Xorex was a radiant white and said he could remain so as long as
trip to Kled for the supposed "delivery" was then quickly made. The
only problem remaining was how to communicate with Xorex once he was inside Kled.
This problem was never really solved and we watched sadly as Templar Idmani
signed the contract indicating that it was completed and led Xorex away
apparently under psionic control. We set up camp outside the gates of Kled to
await further events.
Xorex can get word to us by way of the Sun Cleric Lodo or the dwarf maiden Elika.
Perhaps he can esp Xema and perhaps she can be persuaded to pay attention long
enough to pass us the message. We will have to see.
you will well remember, we reluctantly handed over the Verini, Xorex, to the
Templar Idmani at Kled last week. Our plan was to wait for contact from him, and
then stage a daring Rescue Xorex / Maim and Disintegrate all Templars / Destroy
the Obsidian Mine Air Circulation Fans / and Snatch the Chalice of Hope mission.
truly is a great plan, but there now a small snag, named Xema, which has come
up. I am beginning to get the feeling that many of the citizens of Tyr do not
realize the imminent danger that Xel presents to them, nor do they have the
slightest idea that we have been working feverishly behind the scenes to thwart
his attempts. (But, being discrete and anonymous members of a secret
organization does present public relations problems. But you must agree, that
some of the locals are truly without any clues to current activities.)
having said all that, it does bring us to the latest turn of events. We were
patiently waiting, as is our lot in life, for any word from Xorex, when Chesia
burst into the Drunken Giant. She was wringing her hands, and was extremely
worried. You see, she had been entrusted to look after Xema, and the little
twerp of a Verini has now taken off. Skipped town. Vamoosed. Split.
course, we were stunned to hear this news. Chesia told us that Xema had been
having nightmares for several days (or nights). Obviously, to me at least, these
nightmares were an attempt by Xorex to communicate with Xema. But the youngster
obviously did not understand their importance, and instead was frightened by
them. (There is another possibility, but we'll come to that later).
course, we all thought she had ran off to Kled to rescue Xorex. All we would do
then would be to ride out to Kled, and become the dashing heroes. Well, no
sooner had we left the Drunken Giant, and began our preparations for traveling
to Kled that it became obvious that things were not quite so simple. First, we
had no evidence as to which direction Xema had gone, and even if she had gone
toward Kled. Second, some of the smarter ones in our group noticed some unusual
activities were occurring. We then decided to talk to several shady, and one not
so shady, characters to learn what they might know about a 'missing' Verini.
there was a halfling con artist named Skish. He seemed to have seen a Verini. He
also reportedly pilfered Chesia's purse (from which she had offered to pay us
for our help in finding Xema). A bracelet of Mme K'rie's was also missing, and
Skish was implicated again.
there was a pirate, Cint. He talked about a Verini taking a caravan, about
seeing a large flying creature dive into the Silt Sea, and finally he produced a
piece of cloth pulled from the Silt Sea.
Mme K'rie had sold a case of "tanning" crème to a pale young girl
wearing a black robe. And this girl paid for the crème with a psionic
shared all of this information with Chesia, and when we showed her the
powerstone, she recognized the sigil on it as similar to one Xema had made
it appears that Xema has hauled tail and taken off to the south, possibly toward
to the Silt Sea, or maybe to the Silt Village. We can only guess at her motives.
Fear of being recaptured by the Templars is forcing her to flee. Or, maybe she
racing back to her family (tribe?) to convince her father that Xorex needs help.
Time will tell us.
Chesia suggested we reconvene this Friday evening. We are to come prepared for a
desert trek and to bring adequate supplies. Of course, we will need to develop a
plan of action.
several of us have already suggested, and rather strongly too, that our best
course would be to locate and free Xorex first. That way, he would be able to
help us locate Xema. I am afraid our group may become split on this point, and
only a few of us will follow Chesia in looking for Xema. The rest of our group
may be headed toward Kled and search out the dwarven sun cleric Lodo, or the
lass Elika. Part of the original plan with Xorex was that he might be able to
make contact with them, and they would pass on critical information to us.
realize it has been sometime since I have written you. However, Xema’s
disappearance has drawn us in an unexpected direction. But I am hopeful that we
will soon be back on the route to rescuing Xorex from the clutches of the
Templars or whoever has him.
will recall that we delivered Xorex (who was impersonating the white Verini
youngster, Xema) to the gates of Kled, where Templar Idmani took him and lead
him into the obsidian mines. Xorex is supposed to secretly learn the location of
the Chalice of Hope (some dwarven cup coming from the days of the Kemalok kings).
Once he knew the location of the cup, he was supposed to get word to us, either
through a ‘mind contact’ with Xema, or by having some of the Kledian dwarves
deliver a message to us. In a nutshell, Xema ran off over a week ago. We scouted
around for information about her, and we were able to figure out that she had
headed off to the south, possibly to Alturak or to the Silt Village, but most
assuredly to a location involving the Silt Sea.
our most recent actions were directed at trying to find information about the
missing Xema. A well-placed VA informant in Alturak told us about unusual
activities with some dwarves on Balic. When we checked this out with did find
two dwarves, Kov (who was busy making boxes or crates), and Kesi (a female dwarf
who seemed to be talking about the fine furniture they had made). There were a
couple of pirates there, too, Nual and Elleena. Some of us talked to Kov and
Kesi, trying to glean any tidbits of information about a mysterious female
traveler wearing a dark cloak (Xema). We did learn some things – mainly that
Xema had been there, and that she had headed off into a tunnel somewhere else on
the Pirate cove. At least I think this is what we learned, as I was alternating
being either distracted or bothered by Elleena.
presence of a hidden tunnel on Balic intrigued us, and when we went to
investigate the rest of the cove, we found our passage blocked by two surly
pirates, Gryla and Pete. We tried to ‘reason’ with them, so they would grant
us passage into the rest of the cove. But they would have no part of it. Perhaps,
we should have tried to bribe them with coins and gems instead of our swords.
But we drew our weapons and a massive battle started. Although we sustained
heavy casualties, a fine crew of ‘medics’ kept patching and healing our
wounds and sending us back into combat. Finally, we defeated these two pirates,
but it was to no avail. The passage to the rest of the cove was still blocked.
next night provided a potentially better lead. We remembered that Elika, the
dwarven lass from Kled had requested more dyes and materials for making her
tapestries. Several of us scooped up these needed items in Shadow Square and
made the trek out to Kled. When we arrived, we presented Elika with her
requested items. Needless to say, she was quite pleased with us.
Elika, the sun cleric Lodo was there, and there was a totally inebriated dwarf
named Dhrun. We tried to question all of them about Xorex, or any Verini, but we
were unsuccessful in learning any useful information. However, Lodo, who is an
assistant to the Urhnomus of Kled, was in the midst of some sort of ceremony,
celebration, or event. He was reciting a familiar tale of dwarven ancestry. My
congenital lack of interest in Dwarven heritage made it difficult for me to
follow this entirely, but I believe I have some of the key events.
started by talking about the great Dwarven clan of Jahaz and the elaborate mines
they dug. Jahaz was a great leader in the days before Kemalok fell. He took a
small band of dwarves to Balic, dug some mines and found lots and lots of
precious gemstones. Jahaz’s settlement and the mines prospered until Borys
descended upon them, wielding his scourge (this was before Borys had transformed
into a dragon). Borys destroyed the settlement near Balic, and then laid siege
to Kemalok. At this point, Jo’orsh and Sa’ ram helped to stopped Borys. Lodo
believes, but he is not completely sure, the mine tunnels from near Balic still
run toward Kemalok, and maybe all the way to Kled.
listening to Lodo’s tale, we realized the significance of Xema being seen in
Balic. She may know about the old dwarven mine tunnels, and might try to use
them as a way to sneak into the mines around Kled. This would surely catch the
Templars and Illithids operating the Kledian mines off guard.
the while Lodo was telling his tale, the drunken Dhrun kept complaining about
how he had no friends, and that no one would read his book to him. Finally, Lodo
agreed to read a passage or two from Dhrun’s book, just pacify him. Being a
cleric often carries such responsibilities, for those of you considering this
book was really a telling of the Karkod chronicles, his family. It contained
several pictures, showing momentous (?) events in their history. First, we saw a
drawing of Karkod leading a band of dwarves toward the southeast from a great
city (Kemalok). These dwarves were miners, and they were heading southeastwardly
toward lava fields. Once they, they set up a settlement, and began mining. A
final drawing showed the lava erupting and covering the town they had built.
However, the entrance to the mines might still be intact, something which Dhrun
might have been the information we were seeking. This could be the hidden
entrance into the interconnected dwarven mines, which would let us sneak into
the Kledian mines and rescue Xorex (but I could be getting way ahead of myself).
was stubborn at this point, as he was not about to show us strangers where this
entrance actually was. One of us did pilfer a parchment map of his, but it was
the typical dwarven gibberish. It was only after we started drinking with him
that he began to like us. (A thoroughly disgusting adventure as the only thing
grimier than him was the cup we were all forced to drink from.)
promised to show us the secret entrance to this mine next week, barring any
unexpected events. Once, more the fate of Athas lies in the hands of a dwarf. Is
there no justice?
to his word, the dwarven warrior, Dhrun, led us to the secret entrance to his
ancestral mines. It was quite a trip, but allow me the luxury to start at the
beginning of my tale.
assembled outside the gates of Kled after receiving word of Dhrun's malady. It
seems he had a powerful thirst, so we hustled to meet him, bringing the needed 'remedies.'
When we arrived, we were met by the Sun Cleric Lodo, another dwarf named Khurt,
and Dhrun. Once we produced a full barrel of Chai, Dhrun immediately recognized
us…. errrr remembered us, as his new friends. For those in the party that had
not yet drunken with Dhrun, they all got the joy of drinking from his special
cup. (It makes me shudder to think that Dhrun's heavily encrusted and
slime-coated drinking mug might turn out to be the Chalice of Hope. But I prefer
to suppress such aberrant thoughts.)
we all had been properly initiated by drinking from Dhrun's mug, Lodo insisted
that we take Dhrun for a 'walk.' Thus we started out across the desert. Dhrun 'leading'
and the rest of us following. Thankfully, he seemed to know the way, it must be
due to dwarven luck or something like that. It quickly became apparent we were
headed almost due south from Kled, past the Oasis, and toward the lava vents in
the mountain range north of Altaruk.
all made it safely to the area, and started picking our way around the pools of
molten rock. Several wrong, and then a few right turns lead us to a dead and
burnt tree. This tree is an important landmark on Dhrun's map, and in his family,
as it is the ancestral tree of relief.
continued picking our way through the lava fields, when two creatures rose out
of the molten rocks to block our path. A "Lavablob" and a "Lavacrab."
Both of these foul creatures thought we looked like their next meal, as the blob
kept uttering 'oog,' which Dhrun said was its word for food. We had no choice
but to unsheathe our weapons. Unfortunately, they were formidable opponents and
we were all injured. And one of our members slipped and was thrown into one of
the lava pools. We tried in vain to rescue him, but it was too late, he was gone.
the battle with the lava monsters, we finally reached Dhrun's house. It was a
very humble dwelling, but it was next to the entrance to the old mine tunnels.
As our luck would have it, the entrance was blocked with rubble and despite our
efforts we were unable to clear any of it.
we did note that one of the boulders was marked with familiar looking etchings.
Some of us thought they resembled Verini markings or etchings. We took this as a
sign that Xema had been this way and had left this mark for us to find. Although
the boulder was too large to move, we did use a piece of paper to make a 'rubbing'
of the etchings. Perhaps we will be able to have someone (Mme K'rie comes to
mind) interpret them for us.
the mine entrance was hopelessly blocked, we had no choice but to delay our
quest in finding Xorex and liberating the Chalice of Hope. Some of us went to
Altaruk, others to Tyr, and still others headed north toward the Oasis. Dhrun,
however, remained in the lava vents, content to be home again.
night we met with Chesia. She was anxious to know if we had learned anything
about the whereabouts of Xema. As you remember, she was supposed to be watching
over Xema, when the Verini youngster skipped town.
quickly told Chesia what had happened. We had tracked Xema south to the Pirate
Cove, and then a dwarf had shown us a secret entrance to ancient dwarven mines
north of the cove. We then showed Chesia a copy of the Verini markings we had
found at the blocked entrance to the mine tunnel. She was not able to read them,
but said an old hermit she knew of might be able to read them. She thought we
might find this old coot in the company of some nomads.
then took off, and true to Chesia’s thoughts, we did find Hermit Acritus
living with the Nomads in the desert. We cordially introduced ourselves, but
being a hermit, he wasn’t much interested in talking to us.
that point, a little varmint ran up and ate some of the arrowroot plants from
the Hermit’s garden. This infuriated Acritus, but gave us the means to bargain
with him. We quickly struck a bargain. We would take care of this varmint, and
Acritus would decipher the Verini markings for us.
seemed so simple. After all, this little critter (a Skarat) couldn’t present
that much of a problem to a seasoned group of adventurers. We quickly cornered
it, and had it at our mercy when some of our party started to have feelings of
compassion. They convinced the rest of us to hold our attacks while they
attempted to either ‘reason’ with the varmint, or else probe its mind. Well,
the only result was that the Skarat decided that we looked tastier than the
hermit’s vegetables it had been eating. We had no choice but to kill it. It
was one of those classic ‘no win’ situations.
see, once the Skarat was dead, its mother came looking for her precious baby.
Needless to say, she was more than just a varmint. She was a very, very large
Skaranyi. And she was going to avenge the death of her offspring.
caught all of us off-guard. In fact, one of our members was quickly killed, and
only through the skilled intervention of our spell casters did we prevent his
body from being blown to the far corners of Athas. Dispatching the Skaranyi was
another matter. This critter was big and relentlessly pummeled us all.
Fortunately, we kept our wits and gradually wore down its defenses. And in time
we prevailed, and before we could retrieve the carcass to show Acritus, the sand
howlers devoured it.
we told Hermit Acritus about our victory, he was very pleased. We produced the
paper with the Verini markings on it, and he started translating it. Of course,
he had to point out that he knew that Verini lived on the far side of the Ringed
Mountains (in case we didn’t know that). The gist of the message was this:
‘entrance not open’, but the distance to the next mine entrance was
‘reasonably close travel’ and that this will be found in a ‘sort of garden
or garden temple.’
will have to meet again to solve this puzzle. Many places around Tyr and Altaruk
come to mind, but which one is it?
I like to drink scuppernong, but not too early in the day.
you're wondering how much progress we've made in our efforts to stop Xel's
transformation into a dragon. Well, . . . . things have not been going that well
the problem, you say? Have we stopped the obsidian shipments? Have we destroyed
more fields of the jav-berries? No, but we've made progress. We're getting
closer as we follow Xema's trail, and we should be pinpointing Xorex's location,
and hopefully the Chalice of Hope.
me tell you what happened just the other night. You'll remember that Hermit
Acritus had translated the crude message Xema left for us. This message was by
the blocked entrance to an ancient dwarven mine in the lava fields. Dhrun, a
dwarf from Kled, led us there last week.
you're right. Xema's message did say there was another entrance to the mines
close by the blocked entrance. It was either in a garden or in a temple.
were supposed to meet with Chesia last night, but we grew impatient. Besides, we
heard rumors of some 'traders' near the lave vents. Maybe they had seen or heard
something that would be useful. So, we made the trek to the lava fields. Once
there, we ended up in the hidden Underground Village, where we found three …
well, I'll call them merchants, for the sake of politeness.
As I was saying, there were three of them. Thugron, a half-giant intent on
keeping a record or sorts. There was Shivaara, an elf who was most interested in
selling the wares they had. And finally, there was Eknoor. He seemed disoriented,
either from disease or some other ailment, or maybe too long a time in the
I said, they had set up their wares for either sale or barter in the Underground
Village. They didn't have that much, though. Some feyr's teeth, some pots, some
grog that came from this odd looking contraption, and some throwing sticks. The
throwing sticks were most interesting. You could take one of these curved sticks
and throw it at a target. And after hitting the target, it would sail back to
you. Very ingenious, so much that I bought one, though I know I'll be able to
master it, I wonder if kuu daato's will. <grin>.
yes. I know. I’m coming to that part. Just be patient.
ground around the traders was littered with the skeletons of long dead dwarves.
These skeletons must have been Dhrun's old relatives, and this part of the
Underground Village must be linked to the ancient dwarven mines and tunnels
talked about in Dhrun's book. When we asked Shivaara about Dhrun, she turned
disagreeable. She mumbled that he had been there, but it was good riddance. When
we kept questioning her, she just spit, and refused to say more.
also said some halflings had been there, and a lizard.
we think it was Xema she was talking about. You see, she said the lizard was
white, and that she had traded some cream and a powerstone to Shivaara. She
showed us the powerstone, and it had Verini type etchings on it. We asked what
she had traded for, but we didn't get an answer.
right. I see you've dealt with her type before. She wanted something for that
information. What she wanted was some more of the cream that the lizard, well
the Verini Xema, had traded to her. She showed us the jar, and we were able to
make out part of the label. It said, "… 'ries Gol… tan… eme."
that's what we think too. It came from Mme K'rie. You'll remember when Xema ran
off, she first bought some tanning cream from Mme K'rie. So, it makes sense that
the label on Shivaara's jar really says, "Mme K'rie's Golden Tanning Crème."
it's not that simple. We not only have to bring six jars of this cream to
Shivaara. She also wants six obsidian orbs.
I don't know why she wants them. She just says, that since we asked two
questions, we need to bring these two things. This one is shrewd trader, we
might have to bring some more persuasive members with us next time.
good news is that we have a week to round up these items. That shouldn't present
oh, here comes a templar… yeah, that was a good match in the arena the other
night. I thought the lame halfling put up a stiff fight until the aurumvorax
chewed off his sword arm.
I need to run a few errands.
had to complete a hasty return trip to Tyr before continuing our mission of
finding the two Verinis, Xema and Xorex. You will remember that we were
following a reasonably fresh trail left by Xema into the Underground Village
when we encountered some 'traders.' In exchange for information, they needed
some supplies that we could only find back in Tyr.
first item was some of Mme K'ries' Golden Tanning Crème. Fortunately, we
located her having an evening meal in the Adventurer's Guild. We tried to
approach her, but were interrupted when one of her regular customers showed up.
An uppity and haughty matron named Varda. It seems that she too wanted some of
this very same tanning cream and Mme K'rie only had a limited supply. We quickly
explained our position and after some negotiations, Mme agreed to meet our needs.
There was only one stipulation. She needed some 'activated' obsidian to make the
what a coincidence! That was exactly the second item the traders in the
underground village also needed. We knew from past experience that Orac, the
low-life thief, would have a source of this material.
K'rie agreed to meet us later in the evening, after we had found some obsidian
for her. We raced out of the Adventurer's Guild and soon found Orac in his usual
surroundings of the Elven Bazaar of Shadow Square. After an exchange of
greetings, some pleasantries, and a couple of choice foul words, the more
cordial members of our band learned that while Orac did have some obsidian orbs,
he was more concerned about the plight of his 'lady friend.' It seems some
Templars were putting the squeeze on him for some of his 'business' activities,
and they had detained his friend. Orac described her as an elf with soft brown
hair, and if we could find her and bring her to him, he would be most grateful.
is the moment all adventurers wait for. The chance to rescue a damsel in
not really. Knowing Orac, this couldn't be that much of a lady. But, we needed
the obsidian and quickly too. Mme K'rie wouldn't wait forever. Orac pointed us
toward Fariya's passages, where he suspected we would find this elven woman.
again, the chase was on, and in what seemed like no time we encountered two men,
Spang and Templar Radne, and the elven lass, Kiiretti, in the underground. It
looks like they were getting ready to play house, as they had hauled living
furnishings down there. Things like a cooking fire, some bookcases, a pile of
treasure, and a bed (hmmmm……). Now Kiiretti was a name some of us recognized
from a few months ago. She is or was a dancer at the Rampant Drake (I believe).
It certainly looked like she was about to do some 'dancing' by the way she was
dressed and the way she swaying and moving. No wonder Orac wanted her back.
Well, I guess she qualified as being in distress (or in a thongkini, at least),
so we sprang to the attack. Some of us pummeled and kank-whipped Spang and
Templar Radne, while others of us moved Kiiretti to safety. In no time, we had
her freed, and with a bonus to boot. One of band was alert enough to grab
Radne's amulet. Maybe this Templar's amulet will prove to be a useful item in
our efforts against Xel.
quickly spirited Kiiretti to the topside and made our way back to Orac. They
were overjoyed to see each other….awwww… ain't lus… errr… love sweet.
Anyway, Orac fulfilled his end of the agreement and supplied us with a bag of
obsidian orbs. A couple of us bought some extra ones, just in case they were
then hustled back to Mme K'rie in the Adventurer's Guild. We showed her the
obsidian, and when she tested it, she found it was indeed 'activated.' She
quickly produced the six jars of tanning cream we needed. During this time
another one of her customers appeared, another woman named Florajin. We did our
best to ignore her, as we were trying to complete our work.
had the jars of tanning cream, and a bag of obsidian orbs. We were now ready to
head back to those traders in the Underground Village. I only hope we'll be in
am afraid I may have some distressing news. Things may not be as they have been
will remember we had concocted this plan for Xorex to be turned over to the
Templars at Kled, that he would contact us, and that we would the storm his
holding place, releasing him and hopefully the Chalice of Hope, too. And at the
same time, laying havoc to Xel’s obsidian mines.
we handed Xorex to the Templars, you’ll remember that Xema, the young Verini,
ran off, presumably after Xorex. We’ve been following her trail. And it’s
led to some old dwarven mines in the lava vents and cauldrons. There have been a
few delays along the way, but those things are unavoidable when you’re trying
to catch up with a sly Verini.
had tracked Xema to the area of the Underground Village, and there we met a band
of traders. They claimed to be ex-slaves and gladiators. This Friday we returned
to their camp, toting some supplies in exchange for information.
were three traders. First, there was a half giant, Thugron, whose passion was to
keep a still going that made grog out of shambling mound mash (I think). He also
kept a journal of all of trades and business they did.
was Shivaara, sort of a human type (maybe a half-elf, but that isn’t important).
She wore scars from many years as a gladiator in the arena, and walked with a
bad knee. She seemed to be the leader of the traders.
there was Eknoor. He was another human type, but he had burned himself badly,
and was in dire need of some healing crème. That was one of the things we were
bringing to these traders.
we arrived at the traders’ camp, they had their wares all set out on display,
ready for business. There were some of their throwing sticks, some pots, and
bottles of liquids, and some casks of their grog. More interestingly, there was
an assortment of daggers and swords. While the swords looked ordinary enough,
they were unusually marked. On one side of the hilt was the symbol of House
Ankhor, and on the other side was the sigil of a Rising Sun (you know, the
dwarves in Kled, and Lodo the sun cleric). When we questioned them about the
swords, we didn’t get much for answers. These traders were very tight lipped.
But these weapons with the sigils for both Ankhor Estates and the Kled rising
sun on them could be an omen.
was then time to do our first transaction. Last week we had been to Tyr and had
picked up six jars of Mme K’ries "Golden Tanning Crème." It seems
this crème also works well on Eknoor’s burns. And in exchange for these six
jars, we would learn where the original jar of crème had come from.
took one of jars of crème, tested it, and was satisfied with the quality. We
then handed over the remaining five jars. In exchange for them, we learned that
the original jar had come from a "lizard" dressed in a black robe. The
traders knew it was a lizard because while she tried her best to keep her tail
inside the robe, it kept coming out. This had to be Xema. She also bought some
other supplies and headed toward the north. When pressed for more details, the
traders reminded us that wasn’t what was written in their record of the
second transaction involved delivery of six "activated" obsidian orbs.
For this, we would learn where the traders had obtained a certain psionic
powerstone. We gave one of the orbs to Shivaara. When she tested its potency in
vial of mysterious liquid, the resulting flash knocked her over. She was very
impressed with the orbs we had provided. We then found out that the psionic
stone had originally come from a group of forest halflings. They had used it to
trade for fresh faro root, some of the red berries from Altaruk, and other
supplies. We tried to talk Shivaara into showing us where these halflings had
come from. But again, she refused. This time, she just pointed to the north, and
said she wasn’t about to go that way and face any those halflings without an
invitation. We kept pressing for details, and she said that if we were bold
enough to go that way, we should take some useful supplies or presents. Things
like smoked erlu meat, or wok meat were mentioned (from a jabberwoki, a halfling
delicacy, or so I’m told).
we had learned some things, these traders seemed more intent on enforcing their
version of the agreed bargain, rather than what we thought we had agreed to. In
other words, it seemed like we had gone to a lot of trouble, and were getting
the pointed end of the dagger when it came time to do the transaction. Needless
to say, there were some whispered grumbles among some of us.
the while this was going on, one of our party was tending to Eknoor’s burn
wounds. He had skill in the healing arts, and was using some of the "tanning
crème" in his own special blend. This crème must have been potent, for it
not only helped heal Eknoor’s sores, when applied to Shivaara’s scars they
started to fade away.
of this healing was remarkable. We all were amazed at how well this crème
where’s the suspicions start. The more I looked at Eknoor, the more I started
to realize he looked familiar. At first I couldn’t place where or when I had
seen him before (if at all). But the more I looked, it finally came to me. He
was no ex-slave! I had last seen him in Tyr as a Templar! An Administrator, to
was going on here? Were we being set up for an ultimate ambush? Were the Tyrian
Templars actually using Xema in order to ensnare us and kill us all?
few hasty whispers and we pulled our weapons and laid into these traders. Our
attack caught them off-guard, but they quickly retaliated. When the smoke
cleared two of our party had fallen, while we had killed Shivaara and Thugron.
Unfortunately, the disguised Templar Eknoor slipped through our clutches.
Hopefully, he’ll die a slow and painful death in the lava vents.
does not bode well for our efforts. I feel we will be regrouping and making new
Flash: Halfling Rescued in Lava Cauldron
report just in from the lava cauldron. Our on the spot town crier, L'rnyx, has
the whole story.
A group of adventures has successfully rescued the lone surviving member of a
halfling trading party in the lava cauldrons in the mountains north of Altaruk.
my earlier report today, I described the brutal attack by two lava dwelling
monsters on a small band forest halflings intent of trading their wares with
ex-slaves in the underground village.
two monsters, a "salamander" and a "bernie," had brutally
killed and devoured all but one of the halfling party. The last halfling, Freja,
desperately clung to the top of a tree and yelled for help.
I'm happy to tell you that a hardy band of 15 adventurers heard her cries and
hurriedly made their way to her location.
adventures quickly located the site of the battle. It was almost beyond
description. The carnage was unbelievable. There were burned halfling remains
and skeletons on the ground. There were netherworld babaus and animated giant
the halfling, was clinging with her stubby fingers to the top of a dying tree.
The salamander and the bernie were throwing chunks of molten rock and lava at
her, trying to knock her out of the tree.
band of adventures swarmed over all of the monsters, laying into them with
swords and magical attacks. To my eyes, I thought I saw the work of preservers (could
it be that some are so bold now as to show their magical might in front of
the giant skeletons were reduced to piles of bones. Then the babaus was
disintegrated in some of the finest displays of psionic power this crier has
the time, the salamander and the bernie repeatedly try to burn and devour the
adventurers. These savage beasts spit fire and brimstone, hurled molten rocks,
and beat unmercifully on every rugged rescuer.
of the rescuers suffered critical wounds, at least those brave enough to
actually engage the monsters. As with any expedition, there are always a few
stragglers who hold back, waiting to step in at the last moment and claim the
there were several casualties. But in the end, the intrepid adventurers were
successful. The salamander and the bernie were killed, dismembered, and their
remains scattered to the winds. A fitting end to their vile existence.
party then tended to their wounded and ultimately coaxed Freja out of her tree.
on the ground, Freja grieved for her fallen tribal mates. But with soothing
words and a comforting hand from two of the halflings in the party, her mood
of the party, their motives unclear to me, started asking Freja questions.
I listened, I learned some things. Apparently, some of the adventurers have been
looking for a friend of theirs, and they suspect this friend might be with
Freja's halfling tribe.
indicated that this 'friend' was travelling with the tribe. She referred to her
as a "teacher." And that she was making preparations for some type of
celebration feast. At the same time, Deshi - the halfling tribal medicine woman,
was preparing the youth of the tribe for some sort of passage. Again, I'm not
clear about this, this being my first encounter with forest halflings. But, the
tribal leader, Surjk, has moved the tribe on a hunting expedition into the
desert. But just what their quarry is, I wasn't told.
told the party that they should be able to find the tribe in the desert near a
human fort in a couple of days. Also, that the tribe would be expecting gifts
and presents if there was to be any hope of talking with Deshi or the 'teacher.'
finally, I did talk to one of the party members. They supplied me with this
roster of adventurers. Though I'm not sure who exactly did what during the
that wraps it up at this end. Back to you.
week, as you know, our valiant band rescued the halfling Freja from the fire
beasts in the lava pits. From Freja, we learned that a "teacher" had
come to the halflings. The description of this "teacher" sounded
suspiciously like our errant Verini, Xema. Freja would say only that we had to
talk to Deshi when the halflings camped at some "fort".
This evening, hearing rumors that the halflings were abroad, our band set out
and quickly located a halfling camp at Fort Iron. Sure enough, Deshi was there
with a halfling band. We introduced ourselves and distributed presents to show
our good intentions. After being assured that we did not come from the Ankhor
estate, which by the way could be seen in the distance, they invited us to sit
by their fire. Even as we shared their food, however, some of them cast
appraising glances at us obviously with thoughts of meat on their minds. Being a
half-elf, myself, I did not know whether to be insulted or honored.
When we asked about the "teacher", Deshi was very closed mouthed.
Gradually we drew out the story that there is to be a "Rite of
Passage" for the halfling children in four days and also that a "teacher"
always comes to "teach mind magic" during this time. Can it be that
Xema did not vanish because she was intercepting Xorex’s thoughts but rather
because she was called by the halflings to be their teacher?
Deshi explained further that the children who are ready to become adults must go
out alone and steal jav berries from the Ankhor estate. Only the quick and
skillful return and thus the tribe remains strong. She expressed a great hatred
of the "humans" that had tried to enslave the tribe. She seemed to
mean humans from the Ankhor estate. It was then we suddenly realized that these
halflings may be the same tribe that the VA rescued from the obsidian mines some
months back. Deshi said that the jav berries had originally belonged to the
halflings and they needed jav berries to make the "dream walking potion"
used in the ceremony. We offered to help obtain berries but she insisted that
the children must do it themselves or else the tribe would not remain strong.
It was Djuna who first sensed the hidden message. If we could distract the
Ankhor people during the children’s quest, the halflings would be most
grateful. The children however must NOT know that they are being helped. We must
NOT intervene to save one if it gets into trouble. After a successful berry hunt
there will be a feast and ceremony. Xema will surly have to be at this feast and
we have the halfling’s permission to attend. We must however bring presents of
fruit, drink and, above all, salt. I would remind all that halflings sometimes
have a curious way of entertaining elves at their feasts. Be on guard at all
the last meeting of our band, we learned that a certain halfling tribe would be
sending some of its children to steal jav berries from the Ankhor estate. This
was a "Rite of Passage" considered necessary for them to become adults.
We agreed that we would attempt to distract the Ankhor people during the raid
with the stipulation that the children must not know they were being helped. In
return, we would be allowed to attend a halfling feast at which Xema, the Verini
we have been seeking would surly have to be present.
I can say is that from that point, things have gone steeply down hill. We
gathered at the Ankhor estate at the appointed time. Unfortunately, since the
halfling children were not to be told they were being helped, we could not
coordinate our actions with them. We tried to distract the guards watching the
jav fields and were partially successful. However, one of the children, being
incautious as children will, attempted to play a joke on a guard and was
captured. We do know that at least one of the other halfling children made it
safely back to his tribe with a sack of jav berries but we were unable to locate
the tribe. Neither did we learn any information as to where the promised feast
was to be held.
to the capture of the halfling child Haili, the Ankhor estate was fully alerted
to the raid. Davlo Ankhor has engaged a tracker to trail the other children and
find the location of the tribe. It is his spoken intention that the tribe be
wiped out. Apparently, he will be in Tyr next Friday to hire mercenaries for
this evil deed. This is not certain, however, since his steward Gareb is also
seeking mercenaries at the Ankhor estate. We can only hope that by posing as the
mercenaries and getting this job we can both protect the halfling tribe from
extinction and learn their location as well. Otherwise we will very likely lose
the only lead we have as to the whereabouts of Xema and all of our previous hard
work will be for nothing.
who have read the reports of our adventures know that our last foray ended with
the raid of some halfling children on the Ankhor estate to steal jav berries.
Despite our efforts, the raid was detected and one of the children captured.
Davlo Ankhor demanded that the entire halfling tribe be wiped out and said he
would hire mercenaries to commit this evil deed for him.
evening we were alerted that Gareb, the faithful if not entirely brilliant
servant of the Ankhors, was indeed hiring mercenaries. We immediately repaired
to the Ankhor estate at Fort Iron where we found the tracker Haxt, together with
two dregs from the lower gutters of Tyr ready to begin the hunt. Haxt, although
himself a halfling, was from a different tribe and expressed no hesitation about
tracking down his kin. We were able to induce Gareb to hire us as well; however,
as proof of a successful hunt, we were required to return with the heads of the
halflings we had killed.
was not long before Haxt had tracked the halfling band to the volcanic caverns
near Altaruk. We entered and soon found the halflings' hiding place. To our good
fortune, a collection of boxes and broken machinery had been thrown together as
a barricade behind which Freja and the other halflings were attempting to
shelter. Being of halfling construction it was not high enough to keep us out
except for Haxt. Once past the barricade, we fell upon the two scoundrels; all
the while calling to Haxt that it was the halflings we were fighting. Our loud
cries drowned out the wails and calls for help from the two low lifes and they
were quickly dispatched.
had found the halflings but now we had the problem of what to do about Haxt.
Also, how we were to prove to the Ankhors that we had killed the halflings when
in fact we had done just the opposite? This difficult question was solved
brilliantly by Loraque who suggested that, rather than killing Haxt, we bribe
him to tell the Ankhors our version of the story. Haxt, after considering the
bribe and our ready weapons, quickly saw where his best interests lay and agreed.
Many who come to these infernal regions do not leave and there is always an
abundance of skulls lying about. We quickly procured some of halfling size and
left for the Ankhor estate after wishing Freja well and receiving from her an
invitation to attend the hafling feast next Friday. Back at the Ankhor estate,
with Haxt confirming our story, Gareb accepted our "evidence" of a
successful raid. We think the halfling tribe is safe for now.
gathered in Caravan Way this evening to await the expected halfling feast. At
last we would be able to meet with Xema once again and perhaps find an
explanation for her puzzling behavior. Perhaps our quest for the Chalice of Hope
would proceed at least one step further. Alas, it was not to be.
we waited in eager anticipation of a night of celebration, a desperate call for
help came from the Veiled Alliance headquarters. Holpin, a trusted VA lieutenant,
was in mortal danger from an Illithid that had somehow appeared directly before
him as he worked at his desk. The Illithid demanded Holpin's brains on the spot
but Holpin, not one to stand on ceremony, sought refuge in Faria's Passage
hoping to elude the dread "squidface" until help could arrive.
followed into Faria's Passage as quickly as we could and soon caught up with the
pair which, to our amazement, had been joined by a Psurlon. To our further
surprise, the Psurlon seemed to have arrived in response to a call by Holpin and
considered Holpin an ally. A wild battle ensued with the Psurlon fighting on our
side or, more correctly, against the Illithid. Its spells, what ever they may
have been, affected a broad area and, I am very sorry to say, we lost some good
comrades as a result. It was Getter who, sensing the proper moment, struck the
killing blow and dispatched the squidface to whatever afterworld receives such
were full of questions for Holpin about the unusual event. He reminded us that
the VA had made a pact with the Psurlons some months back when our leader, Matty,
was struck with a deadly spell for which we could find no cure. In return for
Matty being restored to health, the VA agreed to help the Psurlons in their
struggle against the Illithid. Apparently the Psurlons are constructing
dimensional "gates" to Athas. When these gates are finished, the
Psurlons expect the VA to join them in an all out war on the Illithid. At this
point, it is anybody's guess who the ultimate survivors of such a war would be.
had no knowledge as to why an Illithid suddenly appeared in the VA headquarters
and attacked him. We can only await further events and perhaps hope that there
is still a chance to get to that halfling feast some day.
evening we gathered in the city square as usual. We were amusing ourselves
by listening to the taunts and insults certain "egos" were hurling at
each other in attempts to display their own magnificence when suddenly we
received a message. The halflings were gathering at Fort Amber and the
feast we had all anticipated was about to take place.
dashed to Fort Amber and, sure enough, there were the halflings and Xema as
well. Xema, however, had obviously been partaking of some strong halfling
drink and was in no condition to provide us with any information. Since we
considered ourselves guests, we presented our gifts and sat down by the fire.
I must say the halflings welcomed us very cordially and we felt that, perhaps
for this evening, their more bloodthirsty tendencies had been put aside.
How wrong we were!
the halfling leader, welcomed us to the "rite of passage" for the
hafling children. Those who had successfully completed a raid on the Ankhor
estate for jav berries would now be proclaimed as adults. She began to tell us
the story of how the halflings had wandered in the desert until a "teacher"
had come to them and taught them to be strong again. As we listened to the
story, we realized with a growing sense of horror that Deshi meant that the
"teacher" had nourished their bodies and that we were about to witness
a ritual sacrifice with Xema being the major participant.
immediately protested loudly and, for a moment, it looked as if dreadful carnage
was about to occur. Fortunately we were able to persuade the halflings
that Xema was not the "correct" teacher. We also learned that the
halflings wanted "power meat" for their ceremony and that they also
considered the body of a defiler to be such meat. They agreed that they
would take the bodies of two defilers in exchange for allowing Xema to live
provided we could deliver this "meat" in one week.
for one would be loath to kill even a templar just to provide food for halflings
but other events were occurring. Even as we spoke with the halflings, we
sensed an evil power moving in the darkness near us. Although we could see
nothing amiss, the more sensitive among us felt that two powerful defilers were
laying waste to a village nearby. Perhaps the name of one is Eknoor for that is
what we sensed. He and his companion must be stopped and I fear only death
will be sufficient. Thus we may kill two Vrocks with a single arrow.
Eknoor will return to complete his devastation in four days. Be ready. It will
not be an easy battle.
were picking up supplies in Tyr when we heard that Eknoor and his companion had
been spotted near the Silt Village.
had been looking for these particular defilers since last Friday when we struck
a deal with a tribe of forest halflings that we would bring them to their "celebration."
In exchange for them, the forest halflings would release the verini Xema. Of
course, just what these halflings did with these defilers was not our concern.
of you will remember that Eknoor is one of the traders we met several weeks ago
in the Underground Village (when we were tracking Xema). He had been badly
burned from the lava, and we had brought him some creams to heal his burns. At
that point, we recognized him as a Templar in disguise, and we quickly attacked
him and his companions. We easily killed the others, but he had ran off before
we could finish him. Now it looked like Eknoor was openly flaunting his defiling
abilities, and preparing to do some hideous deeds.
sprinted to the Silt Village, and quickly located the two defilers, Eknoor and
Katrinka (who we recognized as a Templar in disguise). Also, Eknoor’s
genetically enhanced pet strine named Akktri was there (another instance of
Xutan’s or Xel’s latest laboratory creation?).
defilers were sucking the life out of everything and stuffing the energy into
their store of magical wands. We circled them and launched into an all out
attack. Psionics and magic attacks filled the air. The defilers started drawing
power from our own bodies, and using it against us. We attacked them all, but
couldn’t find any weaknesses in their defenses. After repeated probes and
attacks, we discovered the "pet" was not as enhanced as Eknoor
believed he was.
took many volleys, but we finally wore down Akktri’s defenses and killed the
strine. During this time, Katrinka ran through our ranks, raining havoc on our
morale. In particular, she seemed enamored with several in our party and chased
them. This, too, ultimately worked to our advantage as Katrinka let her guard
down, and she was turned into stone by one of our preservers. When one of us
then struck the fatal blow, she literally exploded into a thousand pieces of
stone and rock. It was obvious she wouldn’t be coming to the halfling feast.
Eknoor saw all this, he went berserk. It still took several long and sustained
attacks before we cut through his defenses. We were careful not to stone him, as
we wanted him whole (as in wholly dead). Finally, one of the dwarves in the
party cut through a deadly fog, and gutted him. He fell to the ground and died.
In the words of the bard, this is how the final moments transpired.