The Journal of Kodar Nash (Game Date 5 MAR 2011)
No images of trolls troubled my short sleep last night. It is my hope that we have seen the last of such vile creatures in these lands for they serve only to defile and destroy the past and ruin the present.
On our journeys this morning we finally located the lair brought to our attention by the gnomes we assisted by the lake some time ago. The distinctive feather they carried matched those outside the cave entrance. A lighted rock thrown into the opening revealed nothing thus, as has become standard practice, I was asked to scout the initial part of the den as a common thief would search a house for treasure knowing not who might be at home. Cadoc and Vandamar cast spells upon me, whether out of concern for my well-being or lack of faith in my abilities I am not sure, before I entered the lair. Vandamar was able to make me invisible, which was both a blessing and a curse as it later turned out.
Staying close to the walls, I circumnavigated the dark, round cave discovering three passageways out of this central room. The first passage I arrive at as I moved to the left had the distinctive sound of insects moving about. From the second to the middle of the cave room emerged a faint wooting. This with the feathers at the entrance caused us to suspect owlbears – a suspicion that would later be confirmed. The last passage produced a foul odor of decaying plants and possibly meat as I proceeded by. A more unusual collection of environs I doubt I could imagine.
Having safely returned with a report on the initial room, we steeled ourselves to dispatch the contemptible owlbears within as the group entered the burrow. However, what I failed to notice given the lighting and my original path through the central room and what failed to notice me given my previous invisible state was a collection of man-sized mushrooms in the middle of the room. The strange fungal creatures attack us with stretched out limbs when we approached. Our group acted quickly hacking into them with sharpened steel – myself included so as to not make the loud noise brought about by igniting nitrate and sulfur – as they attacked. Unfortunately our efforts to be stealthy were quickly undone for these large mushrooms let out a piercing wail as Stephanos and Cadoc cut them down assisted by Vandamar and I. Our instinct to approach quietly was validated, however, by the arrival of what was later determined to be a Shambling Mound from the passage reeking of decomposition.
Vandamar reacted instantly by sending a ball of fire – the size of which I estimate to be the raw equivalent to two stones worth of black powder – at the creature. The fireball appeared effective but the creature remained. Perhaps if Vandamar could channel that energy into a chamber containing a very large shot it would produce greater results. I must remember to mention this possibility to Uncle in my next correspondence home. Nonetheless, driven by anger at the act or perhaps a fondness for elf-flesh, the mound charged at Vandamar. Stephanos and Cadoc proceeded to intervene with melee weapons. Unfortunately, in what has also become standard practice, the creature enveloped Stephanos in his entirety. I dropped the rapier drawing and releasing scattergun shot at the mound to what was a disappointing effect. Stephanos briefly emerged from the disgusting mound only to be swallowed again as the creature moved after Vandamar who proceeded to back away while firing arrows at it. I finally ended the mound’s existence with a well-placed blast from the scattergun though this did not end this battle – a swarm of centipedes materialized from the carcass and, as their host before them, chased after Vandamar. Several flasks of liquid fire eventually finished these off.
Exploring the passage from which the shambling mound appeared, we found a room full of rot and decay. We discovered a small crevasse that we later learned led out of the lair to the grassy slopes above. We also found a small natural hallway leading out of the room to the north. I followed this corridor which led to a perch above a pool into another large room. Having limited light and no good way to continue down quietly I returned to the group. It is upon my return that slipped and stepped on a section of the natural floor that appeared loose. The floor was loose indeed as it gave way and I fell several yards before being able to catch myself. Though painful, it was a matter of fortune that I did stop my decent as there was a pool of green slime at the bottom. I’m not sure which it was but there are certainly many historical records that end with “… an unusual green slime appears before us.” Embarrassingly, I was fished out of this hole by my compatriots and will endeavor to not make such a clumsy mistake again.
Continuing back to the main room, we went next to the passage on the left – the one that sounded to be full of insects. Figuring no good could come of walking into such a hive, Vandamar let loose a fireball in the room. This destroyed a cacophony of webs and small pests in addition to revealing a grouping of large spiders. Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders? I ended one right quick with a blast from the scattergun. With the others joining in, we made short word of the hideous arachnids.
Through this room we found an opening into a large room with one giant owlbear and a giant owlbear corpse. The emotional state of the owlbear as determined by its posture, movements, and the unusual noises it was making suggests that it was mourning the death of the other owlbear. What’s more, the owlbear was wearing studded leather armor. These unusual characteristics point to an outside influence on the owlbears.
The fierceness and predictability violent characteristics of these creatures meant that we could not leave this one to grieve. The fight was difficult. Vandarmar and Cadoc cast spells and blessings which were markedly useful. A spell Vandamar calls “haste” and Stephanos is a big admirer of worked well to give us additional attacks to each of the foul creature’s. Unfortunately each of the hits from the enormous owlbear sent Stephanos and Cadoc flying through the air. Thankfully the scattergun performed well and a final blast of fire from Vandamar dispatched it. Stephanos decided to take the owlbear’s head, presumably as a trophy. To our surprise, we found an owlbear offspring. This development further explains the difficulty in defeating the larger beast. We have decided to keep the owlbear for the time being. Stephanos insists that we call it “Billy” which causes me to stifle a laugh since I haven’t told him yet that it is a female.
With quiet in the room, I noticed a buzzing coming from the ceiling and spied a thick spider web covering an opening in the center. The webs were cleared with a well-placed alchemist fire. Grapple and rope permitted me to get a better look. To my surprise, a pair of what I believe were ettercaps were sulking about in a small room above. These horrific creatures, whether oblivious to the goings-on of the fight with the owlbear creature or simply scared motionless I am not sure, appeared otherwise unaware of my presence. After climbing down I informed Stephanos who then proceeds to engage the dim-witted aberrations in a rather dry discussion about who’s land they are on. Thankfully Vandamar put an end to the debate (to use the term loosely) by casting that ball of fire spell he enjoys to no end into their room causing them to flee though an opening to the outside. Investigating the room we find a corpse with a few items on him but nothing of particular interest to denote who he was or where or when he was from.
Back down in the main lair, a large main room connected the room where we encountered the owlbears and the initial entry room with the mushrooms. This is the same room I could see from the passage leading from the room the shambling mound emerged. In this room we found the body a northern barbarian clearly mauled by the giant owlbear. On his body were several items and trinkets but of greater interest was the map he carried which clearly marked Olgesburg and this owlbear nest. Though what this degenerate’s intentions were once he arrived here, Stephanos suggested and I agree that this points to a conspiracy of outside forces. I shall endeavor to find out more about this plot when I return to Olgesburg.
With the group in relatively good shape, we attended to our minor wounds and finished exploring the immediate area. Unfortunately, nothing else of interest was uncovered.
Tonight, Stephanos and I had a lengthy discussion about our next direction. Clearing out nest after nest of unusual creatures may be of interest to warriors, fortune seekers, and zoologists but holds little interest to those attempting to uncover history. I’m convinced we need to make our move to the location marked on the dwarven map we discovered some time ago – before others of less scholarly intent get there first. Stephanos expressed concern for the legalities of such a mission and returning to Olgesburg to conduct our duties to the kingdom – a responsibility I begrudgingly accepted and which has lately felt like a yoke upon my shoulders. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t legal argument nor fear of the town collapsing in on itself that persuaded Stephanos – rather it was extracting a promise from me that on the next decision that he made and I disagreed with I would not offer protest. That and we finish exploring the area immediately west of our current position.
I estimate we shall be to the dwarven fort in three days time.
We explored the area to the west of the owlbear’s lair for what seemed like a full week as I pulled the party along through the whole day. I’m not sure whether a carrot hung from a stick in front of Cadoc’s mount’s nose or an ale hung from a stick in front of the mount’s rider would be more effective in moving them along but another day of this meandering and I may have to conduct this experiment.
Exploring this area was made a fair deal longer by Stephanos and Cadoc concocting some sort of strange communication ability with Olgesburg – perhaps Cadoc whispers into his god’s ear who then whispers in the ear of the message recipient. In either event, Stephanos appeared to be more at ease with our extended duration away from Olgesburg with this ability. I have to admit, it seems like it will be very useful.
There was little to note in this area. The only item of interest was a ferry station on the east side of the lake that has been abandoned for some time. No indications of the civilization that constructed were found. Perhaps future clues will provide more illumination on the matter.
Finally, we have set out for the dwarven fort to the east.
On this evening we reached the dwarven fort and it has exceed my wildest imagination. We have arrived outside a massive dwarven structure high in the mountains. Though the map put us on the barely existent mountain path that lead here, it was Vandamar that discovered the end of the path and the fortress entrance was obscured by an illusion making the path appear to end naturally against the mountain.
I must admit that I rush my duties in setting up camp this evening to have more time to examine this large door into the fortress. The door displays a hammer in the style to suggest that it is a symbol of Rog, father of Torrog, if I am correct. Indeed a grand find to be sure. I look forward to exploring its secrets in the morning.
The dwarven structure contains many interesting and perplexing items that I shall attempt to recount here.
Opening the main door to this fortress required surprisingly little effort. However, more surprising was this unusual purple mist, about knee high, that permeated the corridor and, as we would later discover, the entire complex explored today. No ill effects from the mist have been observed… yet.
Entering the fortress, the architecture was striking and of the legendary quality expected of dwarven craftsmanship. We started to the right as shown on the map on the next page. This lead to a grand hall of sorts with reliefs on the walls showing many different races enjoying a good time. This was in sharp contrast to the floor, which was entirely littered with dwarven and human bodies just below the mist. After examining the bodies – appearing recently dead – we were able to determine that the dwarfs and human were fighting each other resulting in a bloody battle with no visible survivors.
A dais along the wall opposite from the end we entered held an alter with a golden hammer and pick resting on it and a large, gold-flecked rock next to it. Also unusual was that the mist, which was emanating from the door to the left, was retreating from the dais. Stephanos picked up the hammer and pick and proceed to strike the large rock. This caused the dais to move forward and up as it revealed a mechanized door behind it. At the same time, three of the dwarven bodies in the mist stood up and attempted to attack us. Vandamar’s magic appeared to have failed him as it did little to stop their advance. Stephanos and Cadoc were able to make short work of the undead dwarves. The scattergun was useful but over-pressurized during the fight and required time to fix it. The party was keen to wait while I repaired the scattergun and, expecting more dead dwarves to reanimate, busied themselves with dismembering corpses. A ghoulish task but a decision that was validated by two more dwarves standing up 20 minutes later. Again they were cut down and this was repeated twice more before the gun was repaired. With no apparent mechanism to open the hidden door from the inside, we opted to leave this passage for later and proceeded to explore the rest of the stronghold.
Proceeding through the west door and moving north to the room marked ‘2’ on the map, we discovered a room with several broken down chairs, shaving and shearing equipment, and a wall adorned with beards hanging from spikes. Exercising caution, Vandamar used a spell to retrieve a pair of golden shears we could see from the door.
Room 3, toward the entrance of the complex, was the find that made the trip worthwhile for it contained a library of heavy stone books. These books were numbered but not in numerical order on the shelves. Of note, the books skip number 101. Hopefully we will find it in a different location in the complex. Despite my desire to stay and study these ancient tomes, the facility was not secured thus we proceed to a door we passed in the hall to this library.
Opening this door into Area ‘4’ on the map, we were immediately struck by the unusual wall construction. Instead of cut and smoothed stone, the walls were made of runes – layers of runes in fact – that told the story of someone called Narune. The runes on the surface told the more recent accounts of Narune and moved to the earlier parts of his life the deeper the layer. A ten foot diameter pool in the center of the hallway intersection appeared to contain not only water but gems and jewels. Almost certainly a trap for grave robbers. Vandamar attempted to coax a gem out with magic but it did not move. Stephanos tossed in a coin but it disappeared through the bottom of the pool. Examining closer, Vandamar determined that it was conjuration magic.
We moved onto the room to the south. Room ‘5’ did not contain any thing within but the runes detailed Narune’s relationships. Similarly, the room to the norther (Room ‘7’) contained nothing but the walls described the Narune’s childhood.
East of the room with the pool, an odd shimmering figure was in the middle of Room ‘6’. I would attempt to describe its features but it constantly changed them every few seconds, seeming to randomly select different aspects from a menagerie of creatures within. Could this be Narune? Nothing other than appearing to be imprisoned within a structure discussing Narune supported this as it did not seem to react to its name or any other attempts at communication for that matter. We were able to discern that the creature was moving toward us at an almost unperceptively slow rate. Stephanos approached it and offered it the hammer. Upon touching it the hammer disappeared into the creature. Perhaps out of frustration, Stephanos threw the pike at it, which also disappeared into the creature without effect. We decided to return to this later.
When trying to exit the area with the runes, we were met by several dozen animated dead dwarves at the door. They did not cross the threshold into the rune area and were not persuaded to move so we were able to safely dispatch them with arrows. Being near this apparently tempting (perhaps an effect of the illusionary magic) pool, Vandamar removed the leg of one of the dwarves and inserted it into the water to no effect. I suppose inspired by this act, Stephanos reached into the pool with his non-sword hand and his vision has now shifted to see only in the thermal spectrum of light. With no change to this after several minutes and concern that he would not be able to see creatures in thermal equilibrium with the walls and floor of the dungeon (i.e. the dead dwarves), we have exited the structure and made camp outside building but within the illusion for added protection.
Stephanos’s vision returned to normal during the night.
Attempting to re-enter the complex, we were met at the door by 35 of the dead dwarves. Seeking some clarity on the unusual nature of the things inside, Cadoc was able to cause one of the dead dwarves to answer six questions. From these, we were told
1. Narune died and was entombed.
2. The dwarves were guarding the emperor and his banes.
3. The banes are tools to ensure peace.
4. The dwarves do not know what the creature in the rune area is.
5. The emperor is “below.”
6. Nothing will release them from the charge.
With no other option, we dispatched these dwarves in the previous method.
Going through the door to the west of Room ‘1’, Room ‘8’ was filled with the purple mist, which was emanating from a three flaming seed pods in a large fire pit near the middle of the room. Stephanos tripped over a body obscured by the mist. He then picked the body up and threw it on the fire. It was at this time we noticed a breadless dwarf sitting motionless and upright next to the fire in a symbol. He was breathing but completely unresponsive.
We were able to extinguish the seeds and then went to play with the shifting creature that Stephanos has dubbed the Chaos beast. Stephanos surmised that the comatose dwarf and the Chaos beast were linked and opposite in nature. The Chaos had moved several feet closer to the pool since we had last been in the fortress. Stepahnos tried to attack it but his blade was ineffective against it. Continuing to obsess over the pool, Vandamar tries to retrieve some water from it but it seemed to lose its effectiveness when removed from the pool.
Returning to Room ‘8’, Stephanos pulls the breadless dwarf from the symbol and lays him on a stone bed in the room. After nothing changed, Vandamar proceeds to place the comatose body on the alter in the next room. Continuing in our random acts, Cadoc reignites the seeds which explode with vigor and issue forth more of the purple mist. We left the room to recover but my headache from the high concentration of this mist still continues.
Searching for answers, I returned to the library and found a listing of the book titles. An index would have been more useful as Vandamar and I reviewed two them but they did not provide immediate answers to the situation.
Stephanos was able to find a way to pick up a seed, which he threw into pool and it extinguished again. At my suggestion, Stephanos threw the seed at the creature which caused it to shrink to nonexistence dropping the hammer and pick in the process.
Having defeated – or perhaps released – the chaos beast, we continued to the east and found an unremarkable room other than the appearance of a two foot wide shaft descending into the floor.
With the hammer and pick again in our possession, we returned to Room ‘1’ and opened the hidden door. Through a small passage we found a small room with a fountain in each of the four corners, cryptic writes on their bases. Proceeding to the north, the sound of rushing water was unmistakable. We entered a cavern so large neither our torches nor sounds we made provided any indication of where the opposite walls were. Exploring the cavern quickly revealed a shore bisecting the area with the water extending beyond torchlight. Three large towers were arrayed along the shore, two of which were connected by hefty ropes to large metal tubes. Both tubes had an opening on the top with a door and a series of cranks.
Assuming these tubes were designed to take us elsewhere in the complex, the rest of the group was interested in revisiting the unconscious dwarf and the pool. I would spare this journal the thought processes of the various things done to the dwarf in attempting to revive him but that would require my understanding of that thought process. The end result saw the unconscious dwarf being lowered into the strange pool by where the chaos beast appeared. When nothing appeared to be happening, Stephanos pulled up the rope to find that the dwarf was no longer attached. Vandamar then decided to stick his head into the pool, for unknown reasons, and then emerged with a glowing butterfly circling his head, for equally unknown reasons. Either under the influence of this mystical butterfly or perhaps thinking this was a good thing to be repeated, Vandamar again stuck his head into the pool. This time, though, the pool turned into solid ice. We proceeded to chip Vandamar out of it before he suffocated.
Returning to the cavern with the tubes, we began experimenting with the levers and cranks in the tubes. We sought to retrieve the missing submerged tube to derive any clues about where they lead to and climbing the middle tower we discovered a lone undead dwarf at the top. After quickly dispatching him, we proceeded to turn the crank at the top of the tower. Amazingly this took the better part of an hour to see the tube at the water’s surface.
Upon opening the tube’s hatch, Vandamar – keeping with his current modus operandi – stuck his head inside to take look. Overcome by an ancient foul mold, Vandamar coughed briefly but then wheeled around and cast a couple of spells, seemingly at random. He recovered a short while later, hopefully thinking better of leading with his head in this circumstance. He decided to rest. I have sat down to write this and I plan to start in on the tome entitled Divide and Conquer.
After resting, we climbed into one of the tubes and Stephanos started turning the crank to slowly let the sub out. Stephanos did a heroic job keeping the tube from being tossed around in the very rough sounding waters. After a long half hour, the current appeared to soften and a while later the tube came to a rest. Carefully opening the hatch, we found that we stopped at the edge of a sandy shore within a large cavern and were able to pull ourselves in using a grappling hook and line. Looking back across the water it is clear we traversed a rather large waterfall to reach this location.
The small area of sand was the entrance to a clearly well-made section of halls. At the entrance were stone statues with scripts referring to staring into the eyes of the stone lizard. Entering the halls, we were surprised to hear the sounds of screams in this apparent ancient complex. We headed down the hall toward the screaming, which turned out to be an upside-down shark with thousands of mouths. Lead by a charge by Stephanos, this oddity was quickly taking care of.
A pair of hallways split off from symmetrically from the main corridor. One hallway led to a room of faded and indistinguishable murals. The opposite hallway led to a fully collapsed ceiling. Upon closer inspection we discovered four skeletons displaying symbols from the House of Rogavia of Brevoy amongst the debris and ruin forever sealing off its history. We rested again.
There was a time today when I believed that the previous day’s entry would have been my last.
The next day we continued down the large main corridor into a room as tall as it is wide. A pair of massive door in the middle of the opposite wall held a symbol of Rog, that Cadoc tells us glows divine. A large fire pit in the middle of this room lined with mother of pearl gave the room a majestic allure. Alcoves on the sides appeared to at one time housed stairs leading to platforms near the ceiling. Vandamar flew up to the platform on one side where he found yet another undead dwarf – these things appear in the darnedest places. We were able to easily pick off this dwarf and his equally silent companion on the opposite platform. While up at the ceiling, Vandamar discovered a large diamond directly over the fire pit. With some further searching Vandamar found what he described as switches in cased in glass. Vandamar flew Stephanos up to one of the platforms and then the two of them flipped both switches at the same time opening the large doors.
The large doors lead into a long hallway with catwalks 30 feet in the air on both sides of the wall. Vandamar and I walked along one catwalk while Stephanos and Cadoc walked along the other. That was when I spotted the roller. We made haste back to the entrance as it came rolling at us with the catwalk sections giving way just ahead of it. We just made it before the roller smashed into the wall. My annoyance at my failure to notice the trap’s trigger is only surpassed by my utter irritation at not checking for traps on the doors revealed by the rolled. Gas spewing from a false door caught everyone. Thankfully it was nonlethal. The next door was a small hall leading to a small room with five sarcophagi. Four sarcophagi were closed and slid back into the wall. A fifth, open and inlaid with an elf symbol, was engraved with the phrase “Give that which is only used in peace.” After a short discussion, the shears, hammer and pick were placed inside. The coffin closes and slides back into the wall revealing the elf-bane hammer.
After resting and returning to the upper complex by way of the tube, we returned to the shaft in Room 10, past where the chaos beast was encountered. Having noticed an issuing of flame at the bottom of the trap last time we were here and suspecting a fire trap, I asked Cadoc to use his magic to help me resist the fire (he mentioned something about Caden Calain’s winter brewing process) and Stephanos lowered me down the shaft via a rope. As I passed the lower edge of the shaft, the glow of a fire slug showed the source of flames. I was hoisted back up where we regrouped and returned in a more rapid fashion. The fire slug was eliminated with minimal hair loss.
Following the passage we came upon an immense and pitch black chasm, the only thing our torch light could find was an arching 10 foot wide bridge so long that its slope upward was nearly imperceptible. Vandamar cast levitate on me as a precaution and I stepped out on the bridge. I walked until the torches of the party became a faint glow. When I got near the opposite side, that rest of the party proceeded to join me. As they approached, I observed movement at the now nearside landing, which turned out to be a winged and feathered serpent with a shrill so loud it could easily damage someone caught near its blast. We eventually dropped the beast through ranged attacks and Stephanos engaging it by sword using an airwalk spell but not before Cadoc was hit with the beast’s sound waves causing him to lose his balance. Fortunately, Cadoc was able to regain his footing without issue.
Once safely across the arch, we proceeded through a long corridor, stopped by a barred door with statue guards on either side and what appeared to be offering bowls at their feet. We tried placing several different items in the bowls – gold pieces, pebbles, water – with no reaction from the silent sentinels. Stephanos, inspired by boredom, attempted and successfully lifted the enormous bar from the door.
Inside the vault or prison was a find of immense historical and deadly significance. Twelve sarcophagi were arrayed around a large, central sarcophagus that was guarded by a giant golem poised to destroy the person opening the larger sarcophagus and potentially the sarcophagus as well. The large sarcophagus was later determined to contain the remains of Mar Rune, along with – to Stephanos’s delight – the Hammer of Mar Rune. Two boxes, labeled “Forbidden Knowledge” and “Sacred Knowledge”, were also in the room, which, of course, had to be opened. Opening one of the smaller sarcophagi revealed a dwarf in ceremonial armor and armed with an ax. The other 11 had very similar contents. Expecting these to become animated at some point, Stephanos wisely suggested removing the axes and resealing.
Meanwhile, I examined the central sarcophagus and, after careful study, could find no way to uncouple the coffin from the golem’s hammer. Stephanos decides to open the large sarcophagus and was fortunately able to avoid the hammer. As expected, this triggered the dwarves in the remaining 12 sarcophagi to spring up from their tombs.
What happened next was a chaotic jumble of sword and smoke combining my own perceptions and those stated by Stephanos and Vandamar that I hope to justice to. Cadoc cast a blessing and retreated through the door at Stephanos’ command. Unfortunately, the two statues outside the door then closed and re-barred it before the rest of us could follow. Vandamar flew up above the reach of the dwarves. Stephanos threw potions of Gaseous Form to Vandamar and me. I consumed mine and slid under the door to join Cadoc. Cadoc and I proceeded to attack the two statues guarding the door as we had no hopes of being able to focus on unbarring the door while under attack. On the other side of the door, Vandamar was able to use his pit spell to great effect permitting Stephanos to engage and destroy the ones undead dwarves. Vandamar dispatched the pitted dwarves with a series of fireballs and lightning bolts, which were faintly heard between scattergun blasts on our side of the door. Cadoc and I eventually wrecked the statues on our side – one completely devastated by Cadoc obliterating what had to be the pin holding it together. With the statues gone, Cadoc and I were able open the door in time to help with defeating the golem, which was fortunately immobilized due to placement of the pits and greatly aided in us ultimately being successful in clearing the room.
Unfortunately all of the ceremonial armor was destroyed and unsuitable for study – I must remember to remove that at the same time as the weapons next time. We recovered the Hammer of Mar Rune and proceeded to leave the dwarven fortress, content with our otherwise substantial archeological finds.
Arriving at the outskirts of Olegsburg on September 8th, we could observe significant damage to the town from what we would late discover to be from the result of an owlbear attack. As we got closer to the town, Wallace, who was no doubt eagerly awaiting our return (perhaps to chastise us for being absent while the town was assaulted), road out to meet us. It was at this time that the multi-colored butterfly circling Vandamar’s head flew like a shot at Wallace and exploding upon impact, killing him instantly – an unbelievable and supernatural event certain to have interesting ramifications.