Book One — The Quest

Chapter 1

Genertela

It all started back in Pavis when the sorceress wanted an egg. Not just any egg, but an “Anything Egg” which would supposedly hatch whatever the owner wished it to. After much haggling, the sorceress, Zarina, hired some bodyguards: Moloch, a Humakti initiate; Bruce, an Orlanthi initiate; Elwood, an atheist; and Jaranx, a shaman of the high llama people.

What she didn’t tell us was that the egg was to be found in the Krjalki Bog and that she wanted to get a sample of the Copper Sands to determine their suitability for smelting! So, with many misgivings, we headed into the Vulture’s Country, bound for the Copper Sands. The date was Freezeday, Stasis Week, Sea Season, 1621 ST.

Much to our surprise, we made it to the fringes of the Copper Sands on Waterday, Illusion week. But since there was only about one copper grain per million of sand, Zarina wanted to go in deeper. We said that going in for six hours was far enough. We made it in and Zarina took her sand sample, which looked like every other grain was copper. It was a good thing we made it out in time for just when we had gotten back to our starting point, a sandstorm started to blow.

While huddled against the biting sands, we were attacked by three whirlvishes, also known as dust devils. One attacked Moloch, one Jaranx’s llama, the last Zarina. Their form of attack consisted of engulfing their victim and swirling their bodies of dust and sand to abrade away the victim. This caused Zarina great distress since she wore no armor. But the valiant Moloch killed the one facing him and then the one attacking Zarina who had first tried to Tap the strength of one, which didn’t help, and then attempted to Fly away, which didn’t help either. Bruce killed the one attacking Jaranx’s llama who was frantically trying to heal his high llama the whole time….

After the attack, we didn’t have enough water to make it back to Pavis, so, perhaps foolishly, we pushed onwards. On Windsday, we found an oasis inhabited by sullen people who were constantly being raided by nomads. We traded successfully, loaded up on water and stayed the night. The next morning we discovered most of our possessions gone, stolen by the people. Jaranx got really angry and wanted to not only recover our belongings, but steal some of their things in retribution. We contented ourselves with retrieving our belongings and continuing on.

It was about this time that Jaranx told us of the last expedition to the Krjalki Bog, years ago, which had recovered an Anything Egg. He said that he had been on that expedition but had retired from it for reasons he wouldn’t tell us. He spoke of a wall of skeletons and zombies and other chaos monsters. Everyone except the sorceress was having second thoughts.

Three days later, on Godsday, we met two sable riders who invited us to join them on a raid of the morokanths nearby. We declined, but said we would help cover their escape in return for some trading. They agreed and rode off. They never returned.

Forced by a lack of supplies, we entered the morokanth village on Waterday of Truth week. They seemed friendly enough and agreed to trade. We traded for meat and milk in return for which Zarina would stay for a while to cast Damage Boost on their claws. She was outwardly displeased but inwardly jubilant at the prospect of Tapping their herd-men. We also learned the fate of the two sable riders: they had been turned into herd-men.

On Clayday, while Zarina remained at the morokanth camp, the rest of us decided to scout out the terrain ahead. It was an unfortunate mistake. Rounding the tip of the Krjalki Bog on

Windsday, we saw on the horizon something that Jaranx told us had hundreds of points of POW1. We immediately ran for our lives.

The thing was huge, perhaps a hundred feet tall and as many wide. It had three large legs and moved by rolling along on its three legs. Despite Jaranx’s Mobility spells, it was catching up. We split up, Moloch and Bruce heading into the Bog, the other two heading directly away. The thing followed Moloch and Bruce. Moloch hid but Bruce did not. He stood there, defying the creature2. Sigh. From his clutches, the brave Orlanthi called upon the King of the Gods to “Get me the hell out of here!” In a great thunderbolt and gust of wind, Bruce’s soul was taken from his body and carried up to Orlanth’s palace. Moloch soon rejoined the other two.

Over the next few days, we suffered mightily from thirst. We had rounded the Krjalki Bog, and were now heading southwards, hoping to find a river or another oasis. Luckily we ran into some impala riders who told us that an oasis was a day to the northeast. They lied. Finally, near death from thirst, we went back to the Krjalki Bog for water and Jaranx released a healing spirit bound to his fetch and commanded it to cleanse a portion of the tainted water. We later decided that it had worked, for none of us caught any diseases.

Remembering a rumor of human inhabitants in or near the Tunneled Hills and the Plateau of Statues, we headed in that direction, to the southeast. On Wildday, we met a dark troll wandering the wastelands. His name was Slagstone and he was an Argan Argar merchant whose caravan had been ambushed and decimated. With no other alternative but aimless wandering, he decided to join us on our excursion.

Mere words cannot describe the thirst we suffered from. Elwood was near death from lack of water. Somehow we managed to keep going. On Clayday of Disorder week of Fire season, we found a wounded Storm Kahn, his bison dead, and we brought him with us, for no man should die alone. And we finally made it later that day to the Tunneled Hills.

Seeing no water immediately in sight, we began to circle the Hills, hoping to find a stream flowing outward. We did find one, but it was guarded by Storm Bull worshipers. Our chances looked grim, but they recognized the Storm Kahn we had rescued and welcomed us to Only Safe.

  1. As a shaman, he had the natural ability of Second Sight.
  2. Whose name, we later learned, was Cwim.

Chapter2

The Plateau of Statues

Only Safe is called that because that is exactly what it is: the only safe spot in the Tunneled Hills. It is inhabited by Storm Bull berserkers, Eiritha women, and an occasional Waha nomad. We stayed there for some time, resting. Moloch traded for a crude map of both the Tunneled Hills and the Plateau of Statues as we planned what to do next.

On Wildday of Death week, Zarina reappeared, riding the River Horse that the grateful morokanth had summoned for her. Following her wishes, we headed off to scout for a way up to the Plateau of Statues, where there are rumored to be statues of gods killed in the Gods War.

We never got there. One day’s travel out, on Godsday, we were ambushed by a dozen broos. Elwood fell at the start, mortally wounded in the head. Since he was an atheist, he couldn’t call on Divine Intervention to save him.

It was Slagstone and Moloch who saved the day, for the former killed five and the latter three. Zarina killed two, Jaranx’s high llama another after being injured (while Jaranx tried to get the beast to run away), but the last one escaped. The llama and the valiant Slagstone fell ill with a disease whereupon the shaman used another healing spirit to cure his llama! The rest of us told him in no uncertain terms to quit thinking of his llama first. We got Slagstone back to the Eiritha women at Only Safe in time to cure his illness.

On Waterday of Stasis week, Moloch and Jaranx had a duel with daggers and shields to decide where to go next. Moloch won hands down and so we headed off to scout out Mostal’s Graveyard where crazed chaotic dwarfs supposedly dwell. Again we never made it. We were ambushed by an insectoid, a Thanatari priest, and two scorpion men. This time, however, we were without the sorceress but were with a dwarf named Gerfanglesnortz (Gorfang for short), who was very interested in the Graveyard. Again the mighty Slagstone saved us, with Gorfang using his crossbow to deadly effect, and the llama participating too. Unfortunately both Moloch and Slagstone fell in the battle (the former because the stupid shaman attacked the scorpion man whom Moloch had already Befuddled). Moloch was given an improvised funeral, but Slagstone was Resurrected back in Only Safe in return for the strange amulet the Thanatari was wearing.3

Our third expedition struck paydirt. We decided to climb up to the supposed castle atop the Plateau. We were well equipped with many water bags and animals to milk or eat as well as plenty of rations. Zarina didn’t join us but a Storm Bull named Varn did. Leaving on Clayday of Truth week, we had just turned eastwards on Fireday when a swarm of furry bats came from another castle high up the cliff. They ignored us but drank up nearly all our water and then flew back to the Castle. After about a half a day of discussion, we decided to go on.

We were all very thirsty when we got to the area of the castle on Wildday. We all started to climb up, but the shaman slipped and fell to his death. We ended up strapping him to his llama, which easily negotiated the treacherous climb.

Upon reaching the top, we studied the castle. It was black and forbidding, with an open door. We went in, and followed a kind of tunnel to an open courtyard. Standing in the middle of the courtyard was a boggle.

“Water, water!” we cried.

“Here, have some gold!” was just about all it would reply.

  1. The amulet, of course, would allow the wearer to be unmolested by the many spirits that inhabit a Thanatari temple.

This interplay lasted for awhile during which some other boggles dragged away Jaranx and his llama. After more meaningless dialogue we discovered where they had taken him.

Suspended over a banquet of potato chips, hardtack, and chili peppers4 was the llama, which was excreting on the table below. And glued to the wall was Jaranx. Also in the room was a large clear cylinder filled with a clear substance: glass. Needless to say, none of us ate anything.

One of the boggles remarked, “Gee, he sure isn’t much of a lively decoration, is he?”, referring to Jaranx. So some other boggles proceeded to tickle the life back into him, to the amazement of all of us. The problem now was to get him down. Slagstone, using the table, the glass cylinder, and his poleaxe managed to solve that.

With Slagstone punching and chewing his way through the plasterboard walls, we managed to reach a room filled with leather bags of all sizes. One gave a view down onto a huge landscape while another contained more wine than its size should have allowed. We drank deeply and filled our skins. The boggles invited us to look into a huge sack (over 20 feet high), but we declined.5

Jaranx then asked a boggle for a way to get out onto the Plateau. It replied, “Follow your nose!” whereupon Jaranx’s nose lengthened greatly. As we followed it as it curved through the castle, it shrank back into his face, so that when we found a tunnel leading out it was onlya foot long. It wouldn’t grow any shorter. Slagstone offered to hack off about eleven inches, give or take an inch, but Jaranx declined. We marked the tunnel leading back (there were many other tunnels) and descended onto the Plateau of Statues.

The first thing we noticed on our descent was a giant boggle about a hundred feet tall standing outside the castle. The only visible landmark was a kind of hill so we headed for it. It turned out to be a cooled lava flow. Heading west, we saw a huge statue of the mighty Storm Bull. It had horns of iron and was wielding a steel sword. The statue was atop a building with an open door leading to darkness. Varn wanted to go in but we quickly convinced him not to.

Low on wine, we headed towards the area marked on our map with Water Runes. There we found many fountains with clear, sweet water. We indulged ourselves. Strangely, there was one fountain that was empty. We put some water in it as a token of thanks and left.

Now we headed for the Stasis Runes for that was where Gorfang wanted to go. On our way though, we came across a gigantic corral with a huge horned man (not The Horned Man, said Jaranx). He was an Eiritha herdsman and he said that these animals fed on Truth and that to pass we would have to speak one. We did and continued on.

We finally got to a large city with buildings of stone, interspersed with buildings made of the Minerals of the Octamony. Inside each of these was a statue of that kind of Mostali holding and/or wearing an object of its trade. Sometimes there were also objects lying on the ground.

Slagstone took some things from the Lead Building but the rest of us took nothing. After spending the night, on Godsday, we then traced our route back to the boggle castle.

Upon returning to the castle, we found that every single tunnel had been marked in the same way we had marked our initial exit! We chose one at random and went in. By bashing through more walls we made it to the exit. Sadly for us, it was only here we realized that we didn’t have enough water to get back to Only Safe. So, we tried to find our way back.

We were getting thirsty as we tried to find our way back to the Plateau. Still inside the castle, Slagstone saw a passing boggle that was drinking something from a skin.

“What are you drinking?”

  1. All extremely appetizing in our dehydrated state!
  2. This bag contained all the chaos monsters that ever fought the boggles and lost.

“Here, try it!”

So he did. And he turned bright orange.

We made it back onto the Plateau and to the Brass Building and were about to leave when we heard something inside the Iron Building. Investigating, we saw three dwarfs (Mostali?), one of whom had the chaotic features of vomiting acid, and who would drink potions every so often. One of them had a thunderstick6, the others had iron great swords. We defeated them, quickly stripped them of weapons, potions, and the thunderstick. Gorfang contented himself with taking enough armor to make a suit for himself. We filled up with water at the fountains and headed back to the castle. Along the way we thought we were being followed but couldn’t be sure.

Back at the castle, the giant boggle didn’t want to let us back in. Fortunately, we were able to dodge his clumsy attempts to stop us and made it back inside the castle. We made it through okay, but at the exit stood an armed and armored boggle. Slagstone quickly engaged it while the rest of us slipped past. It was a difficult fight for Slagstone because whenever he damaged the boggle, it would simply blow itself back up through its thumb! Eventually, he wounded the boggle in so many places that it couldn’t blow itself up quickly enough before Slagstone was able to escape.

We climbed down off the Plateau and headed back to Only Safe. But we were still being followed. We faced off for the rest of the day and that night. It looked like they were the dwarfs whom we had taken the weapons from. They were canny all right. Show yourself, freeze your opponents in place, then surprise them from a different direction. Which is exactly what they did. In the morning we found the armor, the swords, and the thunderstick gone, and the mouth of a tunnel. Gorfang jumped in to retrieve his property, followed by nobody. He eventually emerged with the armor and the thunderstick after having killed, so he said, the marauding gremlins. We successfully passed the Bat Castle and made it back to Only Safe.

For our next expedition, we were without Jaranx. So Varn, a Storm Bull worshiper, Fred, another Storm Bull, Slagstone, the (orange) dark troll and Argan Argar merchant, and Gorfang, the dwarf now wearing his new iron armor, set off on Windsday of Death week to Mostal’s Graveyard to scout it out. The trip there was amazingly uneventful considering what happened there last time.

Mostal’s Graveyard is set in a vast natural depression. The bottom is flat with very few plants growing. There are many buildings scattered throughout the depression. It had taken us two days to get here and we had three days water left. So we decided to go six hours clockwise along the edge and then go back to Only Safe.

We were stupid. We didn’t think we could be watched but we were. Suddenly, three metal bolts flew towards us. They were arbalest bolts. One hit Slagstone in the stomach, another tore Fred’s left arm off and the third missed. We retreated some distance and stopped Fred’s bleeding. It seems that the Mostali had set up outposts along the perimeter of the Graveyard, hidden some 50 meters down the side. We decided to head back along the rim, find the next outpost and ambush it.

On the way, we chanced upon something horrifying. There was this hill with what appeared to be a person buried in the ground up to his neck. He would not respond and we were about to come closer when the head fell over and legs sprouted out from the “neck”. We beat a hasty retreat from the horrific scene.

Ambushing the outpost was easier said than done. Leaving Fred behind, the rest of us tried to sneak down the hill. Good luck. Instead, we were ambushed ourselves. More bolts flew, hitting Slagstone again. He took off down the slope, with Gorfang in hot pursuit, or as well as a dwarf can keep up with a troll, all followed by Varn. While one dwarf leaped out of the pit to engage Slagstone, the other two finished reloading their arbalests. As Slagstone jumped into the pit, completely ignoring the first dwarf, the other two fired. One missed but the other pinned Gorfang’s

  1. A primitive firearm.

shield to his abdomen. It was a comparatively easy fight. We smashed the arbalests, took some of the bolts, and got the heck out of there.

On our way back, three scorpion men attacked us. One of them spurted fire from his tail, who stood off and fired at Slagstone who was engaged with another scorpion man as well. Gorfang was cocking his light repeating crossbow while Fred tried to mount his high llama, no easy task with only one arm. Varn threw a Berserker on himself but before he could smash the scorpion men, the third one hit his right arm and broke it. Undeterred, Varn starting smashing them with his shield. He knocked two of them unconscious with blows to the head while Gorfang killed the other but was simultaneously knocked unconscious. Varn had also been knocked unconscious as well as Slagstone, who had succumbed to the scorpion man’s fire. Fred, who had finally gotten smart by not trying to get on his llama but rather getting out his hatchet and beheading the unconscious scorpion men found himself the only one conscious but he had no healing magic!

With many misgivings he took one of the potions gotten from the acid-vomiting dwarfs and fed it to Slagstone. You can imagine his dilemma. What if they were acid that the vomiting dwarfs used to replenish their supply? It was a healing potion. He revived Varn and the others, we cut off the scorpion men’s tails and made it safely back to Only Safe.

For our next expedition, we decided to scout out an unexplored area on our map.

Surprisingly, the distance was much shorter than the map led us to believe, for we left on Waterday of Illusion week of Earth season and arrived the next day. We stayed away from the deep desert and came across a large stone building shaped like a truncated rectangular pyramid. We went inside. There were two doors. One had a skull on it. Fred stupidly touched it, and the spirit inside it attacked him and possessed him. Slagstone tried to cosh him on the head and knock him out.

Instead he split him in twain, the possessing spirit returning to the skull.7

In the other room we found a huge hole in the ground with a spiral staircase winding downwards. Leaving the animals behind, we headed down. We wound up at an entrance to a hewn corridor. Gorfang snuck up to the nearest intersection, which had a short hallway to a room with a curtain door. We decided on a hit and run. It was a bad move. Broos, many broos. We decided to leave while the leaving was good. The rest of us ran while Slagstone and Gorfang made a fighting retreat. Gorfang fell, mortally wounded. Slagstone scooped him up and ran for the top.

Meanwhile, Varn had emerged out at the door and found that his bison had been possessed. He didn’t have a chance. His own bison killed him. The troll dispatched the demon-bison and the bodies were brought back to Only Safe.

Slagstone, who had been Resurrected with Gorfang’s help, tried to repay the favor. The Eiritha women demanded the iron armor. Slagstone agreed and Gorfang was alive again, sad at the loss of his iron armor, but glad to be alive. Slagstone and Gorfang were becoming good friends. Varn had no such trade goods. RIP.

  1. “Honest, I just tried to knock him out!”

Chapter3

The Newcomers

New people in Only Safe! Two sorcerers, Thingol and John, plus a fisherman named Smersh. In addition there was a nomad named Wahagrim who had wandered in. Thingol told us the story of how they had gotten here.

It was back in Nochet that Thingol and John, another sorcerer had heard of the Tunneled Hills. They wanted to go to them and see if the rumors about the Hills were true. But, there being nobody who wanted to chance the Genert Wastes, they had to hire those who were less informed. They hired a trollkin, Ergolin, who had escaped his dark troll master and a primitive fisherman, named Smersh, to take them in his boat.

They purchased supplies, among them water kegs, skins, rum, food, packs, etc. Their planned route was to take them past the Bleak Shore to Orali’s Tongue. Landing there, they would then trek overland to the Tunneled Hills. Alas, the best-laid plans often go astray.

The party left on Freezeday of Movement week, Earth season. Two days later, while still at sea, a great white shark attacked them. Thingol cast a Damage Resist 5 on the boat, which definitely did not help for the shark’s teeth crunched through the flimsy hull. Ergolin had Smersh hold him over the gunwales of the boat while he used his club to hit the shark on the head. John contemplated throwing a Smother spell but had to abort it when he realized it wouldn’t work. Thingol then cast a Damage Resist 10 which still didn’t help very much and then, magic points depleted, started to bail and tried to stop up the holes in the boat. Ergolin managed to hit the shark on the head a few times, which then sped off in search of easier prey. Smersh managed to repair most of the damage and they limped on.

The next day, Windsday, they landed at what they thought to be Orali’s Tongue (we later found out that they had indeed) and, bringing their supplies ashore, decided to head straight north.

After a few days of walking, they made it to a small stream. They drank, filled up their skins, and decided to follow the stream upstream, to where they figured there might be an oasis. They found it after a few hours walk.

Here they rested for a day or so. There was plenty of water and fruit to supplement the dried fish that Smersh had brought with him.

On Godsday, some bison riders happened by. John hid from them, as did Ergolin. Smersh had to talk with them (being the only one to speak Praxian) but Thingol was there to tell Smersh what to tell the bison riders.

“Fish for water”, was what Smersh said.

“Oh brother”, muttered Thingol under his breath.

“Sure! I’ll take the fish and the water’s right behind you,” said a bison rider, probably the

leader.

They essentially extorted Smersh into supplying the bison men with fish from the river,

promising not to enslave or kill them. The rest of them thought it was a fair deal.

On Godsday of the following week, they spotted Ergolin. “What’s that?” one of them asked.

“A troll,” replied Smersh, who had never seen a real troll. “A troll? What’s a troll?” asked the bison rider.

“It’s kind of like an elf,” said Smersh, who was definitely less informed than most.

“Oh, we know all about elves! He’s got to come and join us in a celebration!” said the bison man.

They all agreed, not knowing at the time what Smersh had told them about Ergolin, since only Smersh could speak Praxian.

They went with the bison rider to their ceremonial ground, where there was food and drink for all. Ergolin was decked out in flowers and fed tender plants and dew. Thingol asked Smersh to ask the bison rider what kind of celebration this was.

“Oh, our shaman is going to summon the spirit of a dryad to come and possess this here elf to bring trees back to the Holy Land.8”

Wonderful. John tried to talk them out of it, to no avail. They told Ergolin what was happening and he tried to fight his way out. The bison riders restrained him.

The shaman did his ceremony and the spirit of the dryad came. She entered into Ergolin’s body and immediately noticed that something was wrong.

“You’re not an elf. What are you?” asked the dryad to Ergolin in his mind. “I’m a troll”, he replied.

She, not knowing any other troll than Mistress Race trolls, was surprised to say the least. “Are all trolls like you now?” she asked.

“Yes”, he said.

She pondered on this for a while. Looking around, she asked, “Are there any elves around

here?”

“No”, Ergolin replied.

“Well, when this place was a lot better, my people and your people warred all the time. And

if I’m the only elf left here and you’re what the trolls have become, maybe it’s time we ended the feud.”

“Okay with me,” said Ergolin.

The dryad turned and addressed the crowd.

“I cannot enter into this elf. He has changed too much for me to possess. But continue your celebration and do not worry!”

The celebration continued. The dryad, perhaps out of compassion, perhaps out of something else, taught Ergolin the Heal 5 spell.

The next day, Thingol wanted to go explore the Tunneled Hills area. The bison riders told

  1. Prax.

them that parts of it were inhabited by horrible Chaos things, and that others were inhabited by Storm Bull berserkers who fought the Chaos. John said that he didn’t know which was worse, the Storm Bulls or the Chaos monsters. Nevertheless, Thingol convinced them all to go.

It took then a half day to get to the Tunneled Hills. They were forbidding and large. They decided to circle the Hills and try to find an entrance into them. They happened upon a band of Storm Bulls who asked us what they were doing here. They said we had come to explore and to try to kill Chaos.

They formed a line of berserkers that they had to fight our way through to prove that they were strong enough to handle Chaos.

It was pitiful. Ergolin was hit in the back of the head by Smersh’s sling bullet. He died instantly. John didn’t try anything and Thingol couldn’t Palsy any of the targets. Finally, they said that they were obviously no threat to them and let us enter Only Safe.

Chapter4

The Tunneled Hills

It was about this time that we stopped exploring for awhile and enjoyed the comforts (?) of Only Safe. We did some trading and generally relaxed and enjoyed life. Together, Wahagrim and Slagstone “sold” Zarina to a Storm Kahn named Borash for seventeen bisons. Borash wanted to test her before he bought her. They shook the tent down. Borash accepted and so did Zarina, virtually selling herself into slavery. Zarina and Borash greatly enjoyed their nights together. But life is short and so we decided to head out into the wild again. Before we left, Zarina threw some spells on us, notably a 20-point Damage Resist on Thingol.

At first we decided to head southeast towards another unmarked spot on our map. Off we went on Waterday of Death week of Dark season. On Windsday, we noticed some harpies overhead. We quickly went on, but one stayed on our tail while the rest went for reinforcements. On their return, Thingol Palsied the wings of one, and we shot down some more. Then they started excreting on us. Most of us dodged the chips, but not so Jaranx. He got caught flat-footed and open-mouthed. He died in 10 minutes. We spent the night here, hoping (though not too much) that the shaman would return from the dead in the way that some shamans can. He never re-awoke.

Eventually we came across a huge lava flow blocking our way. Having no clear idea of what to do, we went back to Only Safe.

A new arrival in Only Safe was a Sage named Glorion. He had apparently asked Lhankor Mhy to take him somewhere interesting. It was here that we decided to open the lead-covered can that Slagstone had taken from the Lead Building on the Plateau. Inside, we found two blue rocks suspended in heavy oil. Using Glorion’s Analyze Magic, we discovered that these were Blue Moon rocks, which would find the nearest source of water.

On Waterday of Fertility week, we went back to the lava flow, avoiding the harpies, arriving on Windsday. We had noticed there were some tunnels in the cooled lava. We decided to head south towards the Plateau, our new goal.

With Slagstone and Gorfang in front using their special senses, we plunged into a tunnel.

Not for long though. A horrendous beast began to approach, preceded by a cloud of steam. We got out, but lost our bison, which had all of our supplies.

Foolishly, we decided to continue on to the Plateau. This time we went on the lava flow with Gorfang in front to spot any weak areas. To warn us away from a weak area, he fell into it himself. But we made it at last and began climbing the flow to the Plateau.

It is terrible to be on the receiving end of an ambush. We started climbing up the easiest section of the flow, not realizing we were in a sort of funnel. Broos started dropping boulders on us, so huge that it took two broos to move one of them. Most of them bounced over our heads, but Thingol was hit twice. Both times his Damage Resist held. Zarina was not so lucky. Her stomach was crushed parchment-thin. Glorion decided to keep heading up, avoiding combat. Slagstone, Gorfang, and Wahagrim all climbed the ravine to engage the broos in combat. Thingol stayed below but cast Palsy spells at the broos. Some escaped though. Slagstone then took the two halves of Zarina while Thingol took her magic point-storing ring as his own magic points had been nearly depleted.

We made it to the top and were about to rest when we heard drums and broo yelps. We decided not to rest. We ran all through the night, with the drums not too far behind us. All through the day we ran too. Then, at dusk, the drums stopped. We continued on for a ways and then rested or should I say collapsed.

We headed towards the Storm Bull statue but night fell before we got there. We called it a day and turned in, keeping a watch. We were lucky we did because later that night, we were ambushed by the very same broos. By not beating their drums, they made us think we were safe, thus not running so fast. One of the broos appeared to be made of bronze. Through his eyes, nose and mouth we could see a fire burning inside him. Fortunately for us, he did not breathe this fire. He was tough, but eventually he was cut open across the belly, whereupon he bled out red-hot coals and died. We were handling the rest of them fairly well, when suddenly they all fled. Glorion decided to chase one of the broos. The rest of us looked around us to see why. It wasn’t tough to see why.

There was this huge, ugly creature with a massive brow standing on a rock some distance away from us. He was attended by two broos with sticks trying to push up the brow. We wanted no part of this. Thingol and Slagstone ran while Gorfang and Wahagrim shot and flung missiles at the broos trying to raise Brow’s brow. Then the other creature appeared.

It had a long thin tentacle topped by a huge knob of bone. It would swing this around and then hit the ground with it. Immediately a deep crack would form, heading towards us. Both Gorfang and Wahagrim fell in. Gorfang managed to climb out before the crack closed up, but not so Wahagrim. Then we all ran for it.

In a vision later we saw what happened when the broos finally got Brow’s brow up. From his eye emerged a brilliant beam that sucked the POW out of anything it touched. Rocks and trees exploded and the ground was gouged and blasted.

We also saw what happened to Glorion, whom we never saw again. Chasing the broo, he had run straight into Shatter and fell in the same crack as Wahagrim and Gorfang had. He didn’t make it out before it closed. Shatter moved towards us and after a bit we saw Glorion emerge from the ground. He started running away but he was far behind us. Brow’s beam struck him a glancing blow. He lost much POW, called on Lhankor Mhy to get him out, and promptly disappeared with ourBlue Moon rocks. We never saw them or him again.

We ran towards the Water Rune, both as a source of water and to see if the one fountain we had started to fill was full. We passed by a strange blue pyramid that fascinated us. Nevertheless, we continued on.

We were about to pass by the Storm Bull statue when we saw a morokanth emerge from the entry way. We were all astonished. It turned out that Grosko, which was the morokanth’s name, had come to “the only true temple of Storm Bull” as the final step in his initiation. We convinced him to come with us through the boggle Castle and thus down off the Plateau. He was also interested in eating Zarina (“She looks aged enough to me!”) but Slagstone refused him.

The fountain we had poured water into on our last journey on the Plateau was full and gushing.

We never made it to the boggle’s castle. Heading there we encountered a river of lava, hot lava. It was about twenty feet across. We puzzled for some time as to how we were going to get across, for cross it we had to do to get to the castle. It was all academic anyway. There was an invisible barrier on the other side, which would have doomed any attempts to jump across or throw a rope.

So back we headed but we were very hungry. So we headed over to where we had seen animals that were penned. We saw no sign of the huge nomad tending them, so Gorfang shot an impala. As it died, though, the herdsman returned.

He demanded to know who had killed his impala. Gorfang told him he had. The nomad demanded that Gorfang give him the instrument of the animal’s death, Gorfang’s prized light repeating crossbow. Gorfang was very displeased. We asked if there was anything that we could

bring him in return for the crossbow. He said that he would give it back if Gorfang would bring back a thunderbeast. Gorfang agreed. The nomad also demanded, it being Fertility week, that we fertilize some of his animals. We were graciously allowed to take our pick. Grosko took another morokanth; Slagstone, a bison; the humans, herd-men. Gorfang had a tougher time of it. After two hours of non-success with an impala, the nomad finally called him off.

We made it back to the Storm Bull temple where we decided to rest. Grosko again brought up the subject of Zarina. Slagstone decided that even if we could resurrect Zarina she wouldn’t be much good for anything.9 He and Grosko enjoyed a light snack of her.

But not for long. We were all watching for any nasties when we saw a strange sight around midnight. A creature suddenly appeared and brought both his arms down, as if he were pushing something into the ground. At the same height as his hands, other creatures appeared as if something had obscured them from our sight before Blind had pushed it down. Brow was there, as well as Shatter, and many more.

  1. By now she would have lost 3D3 from each characteristic.

Chapter5

The Beginning of the Quest

We immediately ducked into the Storm Bull temple and found ourselves traveling without moving our feet. This continued for an uncertain amount of time. Finally we stopped moving and found ourselves standing before a person. He spoke: “I hight Urrquong, Barrier of the Door to Chaos. Hearken, ye folk of the Last Age. Your doom besets you. Go home, and experience a few last seasons of fearful rest before the end. An end there will be so great that none shall remain to tell of it.”

He spoke to Grosko: “Manslayer, stand forth! You serve an impotent god, whose powers weaken with every turn of the years. Strong his worshipers may yet be, but they fight that which cannot be stopped. You hate the Moon, and struggle against it, but the Moon is naught but a harbinger, and your actions are useless, as if with a man that defies the omen, rather than the doom itself.”

He spoke to Thingol: “Friend, come near! Never in this Last Age have your kind hindered mine. You serve us yet. Continue in your ways, with my blessing. You think in your heart that by killing broos and scorpion folk you serve the cause of Law. Does the bird that picks fleas and lice off the lion’s back hinder him from destroying his prey?”

He spoke to Slagstone: “Dark Man, I have met yours before. In ancient years your mighty kin defied us. Your race has suffered two curses. It cannot survive the third. Go home, and await the extinction of your race.”

He spoke to Gorfang: “Stunted one, thing of clay. The dwarfs have ever proven most adept at slaying their own kind. You have proven no different. You think that repairing the Machine will restore and save you. Yet you do not comprehend that you are not even repairing the right Machine.”

Grosko now threw a javelin at Urrquong. As it neared him, it simply disintegrated along its length as though it had run into a barrier that destroyed anything that touched it. So then he tried to kick Urrquong. He lost his right hind foot.

As we healed his stump and tried to ask questions, Urrquong vanished. We started moving again and found ourselves in front of an old man. He spoke: “Man, Dark Man, Mostal’s brood, Awakened One — come and hear my rede. The end of the universe is at hand, and never was it so difficult to stop.”

To Grosko: “Storm Bull and morokanth lack the same quality — Trust. Seek that to save the world. Take this tool to help. Your success shall make your name feared by the foes of Life for age to come.”

And he gave him a metal glove the shape of his hand.

To Thingol: “Your kind is legendary for that sin most detested of rulers. Seek charity without self-interest or your type ends with time. This will aid you. Your success shall couple your name with the Mighty One.”

And he gave him a sliver of obsidian too big for an arrow and too small for a spear.

To Slagstone: “Dark Man, for centuries your kind has perished and shrunk. You need what may be the most difficult virtue of all to obtain. Hope. Take this tool to help. Your success shall make mothers praise you till Time ends.”

And he gave him a pitch-black bison calf.

To Gorfang: “Tenth Race. You need a virtue most important to all in the world, yet one your type lacks. Love. Take this. Your success shall warm the stone.”

And he gave him a key seemingly of iron.

To all: “Past the Mountains of Evil, in the land before the sun goes down, lies the End of All, the Bane of Time.

“Beware the Red Beast, beware the lair of vitriol. Seek the Gray Ones, seek your true

virtues.

“One of you shall bename a star if your quest succeeds. The Web shall be shattered if your

quest fails.

“Beware the Mask of Chaos and know that Life watches your acts. The Barrier of the Door is wounded and cannot lie, only threaten and warn. Heed him as me, save for his despair.”

And he too disappeared before we could ask anything further.

And before we knew it, we found ourselves on an open plain. Slagstone recognized it instantly. We were in the Big Rubble of Pavis.

Chapter6

Pavis and the Rubble

The date was Waterday, Stasis week, Dark season. We headed at random, hoping to find a wall and follow it to one of the Rubble’s gates. On our way we encountered a Lunar patrol who gouged us for adventurer’s licenses. We eventually found our way to the Real City inside the Rubble. We saw the real Flintnail shrine, a geodesic dome made of the Headstones of the Faceless Statue that Pavis animated so long ago. Grosko suggested that we enter the city and stay at Rowdy Djo Lo’s. Not knowing its reputation, we went there.

We passed out through Wyvern Gate and entered New Pavis through the Farmer’s Gate.

Asking directions, we came to Rowdy Djo Lo’s.

Rowdy Djo Lo’s is a real dive. Their bouncer is a great troll. He wanted a tip for his ‘service’. Grosko gave him one, a literal one. He grappled the troll and threw him to the ground. “Okay, you can go in,” said the troll to Grosko. Thingol gave it a Lunar.

“You get best table in house”, said the troll. He led us to the best table, picked up two chairs with their occupants still on them, and shook them off. We sat down at the newly vacant table.

Grosko got into some fights, discovering in the process that his glove added damage to his fist attacks. He made some money winning bets. We spent the night in the dingy place.

Next morning, we wandered around the city, taking in the sights. We went to the Lhankor Mhy temple to try to find out what the artifacts that Old Man gave us did. The priest wanted 1000 lunars for one Analyze Magic. We went away.

As we went away, a voice called us into a nearby alley. He was a sage who was forced to leave when the Lunar Empire took over New Pavis. He knew the Lhankor Mhy priest and hated him, so offered us three Analyze Magic’s. We accepted gladly.

The glove, we discovered, would function as an artificial limb. Grosko used it to replace his lost hind leg. The sliver would infallibly kill any one being once. The key is indestructible by mundane means.

Low on cash, we asked the sage, named Jho, where we could go to get some money and magic. He suggested some buildings on Ogre Island, especially a red one in a ruined city.

So off we went to Ogre Island. We went into the Rubble through Griffin Gate and went past Blind King’s Hill, past the salt mines to the Zola Fel River. We crossed, the troll first, dragging a rope to help the lighter ones across. We camped near the Basher.

In the morning (Fireday) we went to look for this red building. It didn’t take us long to find it. The doorway in led to a fifteen foot drop. We lowered a rope and went in. It was dark, so we relied on Slagstone’s Darksense and Gorfang’s Earthsense.

The first thing we came upon was two baboons sleeping in a room. We successfully snuck by and continued on.

We came upon a room with no light, but when we got close enough to a certain spot on the wall, we saw a purple-colored torch burning. We didn’t like the looks of that, for it reminded us very much of the Darklight that Thanatari cultists use.

Up ahead we heard the sounds of water, so we headed for it. In the dark, Slagstone sensed

some beings. They attacked us in the dark. Thingol then cast his Light (yes, Light!) spell and we saw some newtlings and baboons. We fought them and killed them all.

Continuing on, a snarling spirit lunged towards us. But it stopped short as if restrained by a wall. Grosko then stepped across the boundary and engaged it in spirit combat. Fortunately he won, but didn’t have a spell to bind it. It fled back to its place of binding, a skull, which we crushed and shuddered again with the thought that perhaps this was a Thanatari complex.

At the end of the corridor we found a door sealed over with lead. It was here that Grosko remembered that he had to go to an obscure Eiritha festival and left us.

So we scraped off the lead and Slagstone prepared to force the door open while Gorfang had his crossbow ready and Thingol was ready to cast a Palsy. The door opened and we entered a room with some tapestries, which looked ready to crumble into dust, a table, chair, and a bookcase full of skulls. There was one other door which we opened.

In it we found three bodies which had withered to near-skeletons as well as manacles on the walls. It didn’t look as though the bodies had slipped through the manacles when their wrists and hands had shrunk. One more door, which we opened.

Inside there was a large stone slab covered by a mattress, which was occupied by a man. He was very pale, no doubt from not being in the sun for some time. He claimed to have been sealed inside by nomads around the time of the Dragonkill War and survived thanks to his lord, Pavis. He asked us to take him out which we did though he was so weak we had to carry him.

Though our map had been accidentally destroyed, we managed to find our way back to the entrance we had initially come in. We startled the baboons, who immediately ran and scampered up and out.

It was here that the man said, “I thank you for rescuing me. In return, I will not kill you if you do not harass me further.” Then he turned to smoke.

Great, a vampire. Well, it would take him some time to regain his fatigue, but, a Thanatari vampire!

But how to get out? Gorfang climbed on top of Slagstone’s shoulders carrying a rope.

Upon looking over the rim, he saw two baboons with spears a-stabbing. He was hit, fell backwards, with Thingol breaking his fall. Then they started throwing big rocks at us.

In retrospect, it was funny. We tried all sorts of schemes to get rid of the two baboons. We tried shooting them with crossbows, throwing rocks at them, and using spells. One fell into the pit after being hit by a rock thrown by Slagstone. With Slagstone acting as bait with his big shield, Thingol managed to Palsy the remaining baboon.

Quickly climbing onto Slagstone’s shoulders again, Gorfang was again confronted by the baboon, sitting on his rear, favoring his Palsied limb, and stabbing. He fell, wounded. Slagstone was only able to save him just in time.

After some more of this, Slagstone tried to climb out. It took him a while, during which the baboon dropped rocks on him. He fell, and lost consciousness. We managed to drag him away and heal him.

Finally Slagstone was able to quickly climb out, the baboon running away, the Palsy having long since worn off.

We made it to the river okay. Slagstone crossed the river, again carrying one end of a rope. Thingol made it across fine, but not so Gorfang. He slipped, fell under the water, and were we glad

he had tied the end of the rope around him. We pulled him across and just barely were able to revive him.

Heading back to Griffin Gate, some nomads came and told us we were trespassing and demanded payment. Gorfang gave him all the money he had, 28 Lunars, far more than they were going to ask. Sigh.

Later four gargoyles flew overhead, dropping tremendous boulders. They all missed. We made it safely out of Griffin Gate and back to New Pavis. We were nearly broke,

Thingol having all we had, 30 Lunars. We approached Jho, told him of our releasing the vampire and asked him where we else we could go to. He suggested the Puzzle Canal. We decided to think about it.

Gorfang went and worked for room and board under the Dwarf Hill, Slagstone went to his brother to borrow some money, and Thingol stayed in New Pavis, doing manual labor and trying to recruit some other adventurers. We lived like this for four weeks.

Eventually Slagstone returned from Trolltown with some of his money. Thingol had recruited Benderri Ingilli, a fisherman turned sailmaker who offered use of his boat, and Ralkin, a shoe merchant who hated shoes and wanted to adventure. Gorfang had also returned from Dwarf Town.

So on Godsday of Disorder week of Storm Season, we went to the Lhankor Mhy temple for some information on the Puzzle Canal. Charging us exorbitantly, we got some information, namely that there were sea elves in the Canal, who could supposedly be avoided by always going to the north, and that trolls who entered in from the land side of the Canal never returned but that some trolls had returned if they had gone in by boat. We also found out that there was supposedly a magic painting somewhere inside the Canal and that they would pay many Lunars for information as to what the painting showed.

In we went. We always took the north fork. However, one time we didn’t and entered into a cavern. This cavern had six entrances/exits and was completely covered over. Once we were about midway through, eight forms surfaced and began throwing sharp, Speedarted darts at the troll.

Unfortunately, he had taken his heavy armor off, and was only wearing leather. He took some damage, as did the boat. Ben told us all to row for the nearest exit, which we did. However, that particular way out had a kind of lip and we grounded, most of us falling down into the boat. With Thingol pushing the boat off, Ben and Ralkin back-oaring, Slagstone started throwing rocks at them while Gorfang threw Demoralize spells at the elves.

As we turned the boat around, two of the elves grabbed hold of the boat, pulled themselves up and with long, thin lances, tried to stab Slagstone, who had ducked into the boat to Heal himself. He parried, grabbed his mace, and smashed the arm of one of them, who dropped beneath the surface, dropping his lance into the boat.

We finally managed to get the boat out of that cavern. We decided to head back into Pavis, rest and try to sell the darts and the lance that the elves had used. We got a minimal amount for them.

The next day we went back into the Canal and, heading north, we came upon a dead end.

Turning around, more of the elves surfaced. Slagstone immediately dove for the bottom of the boat, expertly covering himself up with a tarp. The elves first demanded a toll, then asked if we wanted a hiding place. We declined and continued.

Aimlessly exploring some more, we entered another cavern. This one was occupied by an incredibly ugly hag. She demanded blood payment. She looked mean and tough, and there were many creatures swimming beneath the surface as well as some formless, icky things that still had a

mouth and eyes10

We asked her if more than one of us could make the payment. She said it had to be from one person. Slagstone popped up at this time, brandishing his pole axe, ready for a fight. She said she wanted human blood only. So Ralkin offered to pay. She handed him a pail, which would hold about a quart, and told him to fill it. He complied, but fell unconscious from the blood loss.11 We were allowed to leave and we did so, quickly.

Exploring some more, we came upon a cavern with humans inside. They claimed they were not outlaws but we didn’t believe them. They were armored but not well armed, so we contemplated attacking them. But Gorfang didn’t want to, so we left them.

Backtracking, we came upon another cavern, this time with a giant waterspout in it. About 10 meters down, we saw something gleaming. Thingol threw a Skin of Life on Gorfang, who dove (or should I say sank) to the bottom and recovered the things. They turned out to be a doughnut- shaped piece of metal and 22 ceramic plaques with something written on them in a unfamiliar language. We decided to leave the Canal and take these things to Lhankor Mhy.

It turned out that nobody could read the plaques, and that the metal was actually sa-metal (aluminum). We were offered 150 Lunars from most everybody else, but 400 Lunars in dried fish from Zola Fel.

Ralkin said that in return for the plaques and sa-metal, he would forget the debts we owed him but that he might not go with us on our next trip. Thingol said that there was one way to make him come with us and that was to not pay him back yet. Slagstone convinced Thingol to lay off and so we let Ralkin have the artifacts.

  1. Sort of like the face of Jabba the Hut.
  2. He took 3D6 general hit point damage, and rolled an 11.

Chapter7

Jrustela

Walking through Pavis the next day, we met Dash, a sailor, and Alex, a healer whom we told of our quest. Dash figured that the reference to the “land before the sun goes down” was a referral to the island of Jrustela. But how to get to Jrustela?

Later that day, we heard that a merchant was hiring sailors and mercenaries for a voyage to Jrustela. We looked into this, since we were flat broke. Apparently he wanted the mercenaries to guard in case pirates attacked. He would pay 2 Lunars per day or 50 Lunars at the end of the voyage. The voyage would probably last from 3 to 5 weeks. We took the promise of 50 Lunars.

Before we left, Gorfang traded his armor and heavy crossbow for leather and a light repeating crossbow.

The trip was remarkably uneventful. We saw myriad sea life and even a blue sea eagle, of which not many are seen. We made it safely through the Banthe current and landed at Barlinn, on the northern coast of the northernmost island of Jrustela on Waterday of Illusion week.

Barlinn is nestled inside a fjord with farms all around it. Close to the south is a mountain range, with the tallest one called Dryduster, which has a glacier on its summit. About 100 kilometers to the west lived some timinits, while to the east is where the raiding trolls come from. Just before one hits the mountain range, in a gorge, is a place called Bad Deal, where humans trade with the dwarfs. Two sorcerers live in Barlinn, one old, experienced, and crotchety, the other young, inexperienced, and crotchety.

We stayed in town for a few days, then decided to try to deal with the dwarfs. So on Fireday, all of us, except for Slagstone, went off towards Bad Deal, accompanying a merchant who was bringing animals to trade with the dwarfs. The place where he left his animals inside a Warding was on a plain, with pillars made of rocks piled one on top of another scattered about the plain.

Gorfang noticed some dwarf doors up on the mountain side. He decided to stand in plain sight, while the rest of us tried to hide or otherwise conceal ourselves.

Later, around midnight, he heard a voice. “Humans follow you!” it whispered in Mostali. “I know! They’re my friends,” he said back.

“Since when are humans and dwarfs friends?” it asked. “They’re my guards,” replied Gorfang.

“Tell your guards to turn around and cover their ears. What’s about to happen isn’t for them to hear.”

So Gorfang told us and we complied. Cunningly made dwarf doors were hidden in the pillars of rock. The dwarfs that emerged had beards, wore red jackets when not covered by dust and soot, carried picks and shovels, and had curled boots.12 They knocked down the posts of the Warding, herded the animals into a larger dwarf door, and were about to leave when Gorfang asked him a question.

“Can I come in and visit?” he asked.

  1. Like those from Disney’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“Sure, but your guards will have to be blindfolded and led.” was the reply.

We agreed to the conditions and went down one of the pillars. It was a tight, twisty spiral with steps about 20 inches deep. Alex fell and broke his ankle, whereupon some dwarfs picked him up and carried him.

At last we found ourselves in a huge ampitheater. There were large pits with flame belching out, with dwarfs standing inside the pits pounding on metal implements, pits with dense yellowish fumes roiling out (sulfur by the smell), a pit with stagnant water used for quenching, and some small pits with drinking water. We were awed.

It seems that these dwarfs hadn’t undergone the same hardships that the Genertelan dwarfs had. Gorfang was asked many questions about the outside world, as they called it. They asked us if we wanted to see their secret weapon, and we said yes. They made us take an oath, and drink a potion to never tell anyone about the weapon or our tongues would rot out.

In another ampitheater, thin but extremely long, stood the weapon. It was a crossbow some 10 meters long by 10 meters wide and fired a bolt with a foot-long chunk of truestone as its tip.

Also in the room were piles of kegs with Disorder runes on them. We were amazed. They said that the top of the mountain could split open and the crossbow raised on a lift powered by lava so as to be able to fire at the world outside. The crossbow itself could be turned and elevated or depressed and could supposedly range to about 50 kilometers. They said they were protecting themselves against the Old Man. We had heard of him back at Barlinn. Legend said that he was a nasty giant who ate babies.

We asked about the possibility of more trade, with both ourselves and the outside world. They weren’t interested in more trade with Barlinn but were interested in leather. Dash offered his stiff leather and in return they gave him ‘metal cloth’, chainmail.13 Gorfang offered his leather, but they said they already had some leather, the armor that Dash had just given them. We asked if there was something they wanted. They said they wanted to know where the raiding troll came from. The better our information, the greater our reward. We accepted.

But first we wanted to investigate the rumors about the Old Man. We got some more rations back at Barlinn and headed off into the mountains on Freezeday of Truth week. With us was a young man named Ben, who also wanted to find the Old Man. That we had to do some climbing is an understatement. At one point, while trying to climb a shallow but loose rise, Alex simply could not climb it. He tried and tried but each time fell back to the bottom. He eventually succumbed to his injuries, too stubborn to Heal himself or use his Healing salves.

As we tried to climb down to retrieve the salves, we saw a giant, some 12-15 feet tall come by, pick up Alex and stuff him in his bag, wave in response to our yells, and walk away. We set off in search of him, following his tracks.

We followed him for awhile, then lost his tracks. Just then, he sprang from behind a nearby (large) bush, brandishing a huge club. He shattered Gorfang’s shield and leg, knocking him backwards some 25 feet. Fortunately he landed in a bush, which broke his fall. Dash and Thingol started running, but Ben delayed to cast a spell. It was a mistake. The giant shattered his spear, and crushed his leg. He then picked Ben up, and stuffed him headfirst into a sack, which he then tied to his waist.

The rest of us, Thingol, Gorfang, and Dash tracked him to his lair, a huge cave. There we contemplated our next move. We decided to go with a three-fold strategy. Thingol, while doing a Ceremony, would lure him out of his cave. Once he was out, Thingol would cast a Palsy spell, in hopes of getting his arm. Dash would drop a large boulder which we spent the night moving into place. Gorfang would be hidden but would fire his crossbow.

  1. Seven points of protection.

It worked. The rock dropped perfectly, hitting him in the small of the back. The spell worked, but hit his leg, not his arm, and so failed to Palsy that limb. The bolt hit his head, wounding him slightly. Dash started throwing more, and smaller, rocks at him. Thingol started running, while Gorfang fired another bolt which hit him in the stomach, whereupon he sat down heavily and said he surrendered.

He was indeed the Old Man of the legends. Since we had beaten him fairly, he was not averse to conversation. We rescued Ben, who was still alive. He had tried to cut his way out of the bag with his dagger, but was noticed by the Old Man. His dagger was taken away and a rope was tied around his waist to prevent that from happening again. Alex was gone. The Old Man said he was delicious. We did recover his 19 healing salves.

We told him of our quest and asked him about the Mountains of Evil. He said that these mountains had never been called the Mountains of Evil. He also thought that the Mask of Chaos might be something that did not look like Chaos, but which led to or hid Chaos. Perhaps the Jrusteli, we asked. Perhaps, was his reply.

Old Man talked freely and we had a good conversation. He said that Dryduster was a supernatural being who raised avalanches and was not merely the name of the highest mountain in the range. We asked about any trolls in the area. He told us that trolls sometimes stopped by on their way to raid, bringing giant beetles for him to eat. We asked him what he wanted most. He replied that he liked music and pretty things. Thingol then sang him a beautiful song, which Old Man appreciated. He asked Gorfang if he wanted to come with him and see the Heart of the Mountain, which was named Gerianchor. Gorfang jumped at the opportunity, which would only cost two of the salves.

The rest of us didn’t go, but he told us all about it when he returned the next day. They went deep inside the Mountain, through slits that Old Man had to squeeze through but that Gorfang went through with ease, and over obstacles that Old Man easily walked over, but which Gorfang had to scramble over.

At last they came to an open cavern. One wall was translucent, and deep inside, they saw the Heart. It was a bright red something which beat ever so slowly, brightening and dimming as it beat.

Old Man then asked Gorfang if he wanted an avalanche. He said that Dryduster raised avalanches and that he would release them when travelers strayed to close. It would cost the rest of the salves, but Gorfang agreed. So they crept through more cracks and finally hid behind a giant slab of rock just inside the mountain. Alone, they saw a baby avalanche. It was about the size and shape of a large puppy, made of rock. Quickly, Old Man grabbed it and ran. As they ran back through the mountain, they heard the sound of crashing boulders that seemed to form the words, “Who took my avalanche?!”

Back at his cave, Old Man told us how to care for the avalanche. He told us not to let it loose inside a cave, for then they formed avalanches known as cave-ins. He gave us a bag to carry him in, and a kind of leash. He then told us we could return for more conversation, then showed us the easiest way down the mountain. We went back to Barlinn for some rest and relaxation.

Thingol hoped to use the avalanche as a familiar, but Gorfang reminded him that avalanches are very short-lived once they do their thing. So, Thingol’s hopes were dashed.

Chapter8

The Other Questers

A few days later, on Wildday, a ship docked in Barlinn. It was the Doomquester, captained by Thorkal Doomquester. He had with him Harmast Nightblade, his executive officer and captain of mercenaries, a Sword of Humakt; Lazlo, ship’s master; Tim the Encounter, his ship’s sorcerer, a Brithini; Simon the Fanatic, a soon-to-be Sword of Humakt with yellow skin and solid red eyes; William Emrys, a Humakti mercenary; and other assorted mercenaries.

Thorkal originally came from Emyrs, in Pamaltela. Lately there had been many assassinations of priests and Thorkal wondered why. His ship had defeated a ship full of broos and they had found a weird chaos artifact on board which looked to be solidified water but was not ice. They threw it overboard. It was thought that this may have come from Pavis, in Genertela so Thorkal and his men set sail for Genertela. Sailing eastwards to round Magasta’s Pool, they heard of a giant stone ship which came to Pamaltela with a huge chaotic tree aboard, which quickly made its way inland. It was thought that this was one of the Hellfronds from Teshnos. Upon arrival at Pavis it was also discovered that the assassins were Cacodemon initiates.

So Thorkal was left to ponder on why so many chaos creatures were coming to Pamaltela from Genertela. He thought that the end of the Third Age is nigh. But what was really going on here? So he decided to search out the causes of the end of the Second Age in the hopes that it would give a clue as to the ending of the Third.

They had many adventures, which are too long to repeat here. Just to briefly recount some of them, they met a pyarad who was actually around when the Second Age ended, and from it learned the secret of the Jrusteli God-Learners. They stole a magic javelin from a Luathan named Amprefesno and survived (Simon gave it back and was changed by the Luathan). And now they find themselves in Barlinn looking for mercenaries.

To make a long story short, we told Thorkal of our quest and he hired us on as junior partners. Thorkal decided to go back to the site of their last adventure, a small, unnamed island in the Jrustelan islands.

We reached the island in good time, on the third day of the Sacred Time. The party, led by Harmast, climbed up a hill which surrounded the whole island and came upon a bowl-shaped depression with 8 large octagonal buildings about 10 feet high. The building were about 400 feet across, and had a large trap door in the center with a symbol inscribed on it. The symbols were: a skull, the Fate rune, the Law rune, a modified Water rune, an ‘S’, a modified Air rune, a formless shape, and two circles together next to an arc.

The last time Harmast and company went into the building with the skull inscribed on the door, they had met many undead creatures. This time, though, we decided to go into the building marked with the Fate rune.

Exploring, we found in an anvil-shaped room, a large mound of dirt which, according to Gorfang’s Earthsense was quivering slightly. We decided to leave it and continued exploring. Going another way, we came to a room whose entrance was covered by a curtain which looked to be made of insects. Rushing in, we saw four leucines, a four-handed insect that looked something like a gigantic stag beetle. These leucines were wielding four-handed swords.

As we rushed in, one of them threw a blue globe which burst on Slagstone’s shield. It blazed in a light which sort of tingled over our bodies but had no immediate ill effects. Simon struck one of them with his sword which had a Bladesharp 6 and a Damage Boost 10 on it. The leucine didn’t parry, but he didn’t penetrate the chitin! Thingol and Tim both deduced (correctly) that the globe stripped us of the magic that was cast on us. Simon, William, and a mercenary named

Miles all got their left arms chopped off, but we killed the leucines. As the party healed itself, we found three more of the blue globes. Thingol took one, Tim the other two.

Eventually we entered a room occupied by a monster with four hands and four legs, wielding a discus, sword, axe and flail. Directly underneath it was a black ovoid that seemed to shimmer when one looked at it. We tried to parley, but it wouldn’t or couldn’t answer. Whenever we got within three meters of it, it would stir slightly, but then settle back down again as we backed away. Finally Gorfang shot at it with his crossbow. The bolt tinked and the monster attacked us.

It was a terrible fight. The monster fired a blue beam which would suck away part of your magic points if it hit. Also, the discus was razor-sharp and after throwing it, another would appear in its hand! One of the mercenaries, Zephyr, was chopped in twain by the monster’s axe.

The battle continued. Slagstone was knocked unconscious, felled by the blue beam. Thingol tried to Palsy it but was hit by the blue beam before it went off, so it failed to affect the monster.

Finally, the monster seemed to slump as if falling unconscious. Immediately, though, a magical glow surrounded it. Thingol immediately threw his blue globe, hoping to cancel the Healing it was undoubtedly trying to throw on itself. But, beyond imagination, it healed itself in only seconds, and Thingol’s throw was too late. It did, though, cancel all the magic the party had cast on itself, which were mostly Bladesharps. Thingol dropped out of the fight with a discus in his stomach. William, though dying, called on Humakt to let him take his foe with him into Death. Humakt made his sword great and William hit and killed the monster, then died from his wounds.

In the aftermath, Simon commenced a funeral service for William, breaking his sword. Thus, he failed to notice that Tim was throwing a Tap POW spell. Slagstone was unconscious, William was dead, two other mercenaries were dead, Harmast was occupied with examining the ovoid, and Gorfang didn’t know what a Tap spell was. So Thingol was stripped of 6 points of POW, a third of his soul and his magic.

When we all woke up about two hours later, Harmast told Slagstone and Miles to watch outside for monsters. Inside he was going to hold a trial.

He first asked if there was anyone who didn’t think him capable and honest enough to hold the trial. If someone did, they would have an immediate Humakti duel. Nobody did. The first person accused was Gorfang, for shooting without Harmast’s permission. In firing before everyone was ready, he endangered the whole party. Gorfang argued that Harmast was itching for a fight before his Truesword ran out and so he just decided to do it. Harmast agreed, but told Gorfang never to do anything like starting a combat without waiting orders to do so.

The second person accused was Thingol, for rashly losing his head, hurling the blue globe, thereby directly causing William’s death. Thingol argued that William wouldn’t have died if we had stopped to regain magic points after the last combat with the leucines. But since Harmast was itching for a fight before his Truesword expired, we went into combat in a non-optimal condition despite the fact that there were some party members who were unwilling to use their magic points to heal the party. He said that he hurled the blue globe in hopes that it would stop the monster from healing itself, relying on the bravery and valor of the party to defeat it even without their offensive spells. Harmast decided that Thingol should pay a weregild to William’s best friend, Simon. Simon asked for 750 pennies, payable whenever Thingol had any money. Thingol agreed.

The third person accused was Tim, for Tapping Thingol with malice of forethought. Tim argued that he was angry at Thingol for causing William’s death. Harmast asked if he was taking vengeance for William. Tim said no, then went on to say how Thingol was such a poor sorcerer, he didn’t know any magic, he hasn’t done anything in the last two combats, etc. Harmast said, “Brithini wizards speak words as sweet and firm as honey.” Nevertheless, Tim would pay weregild to Thingol or both would have to take an Oath not to plot against each other. Tim decided to pay weregild, and Thingol got an amulet with a new spell in it, Neutralize Poison.

But we were still locked in. We therefore decided to try to find another entrance into the room we initially entered from.

It was a mistake. Two more of those monstrosities came at us from behind. We ran like hell, but we were at the end of a corridor, with a door and another curtain. The door opened into a room filled with webs. Pushing aside the curtain revealed another dog-leg room with an arm encased in plate mail the only thing visible. Slagstone, Gorfang and Harmast pushed their way into the web room, Simon, Tim, Thingol and Miles into the other. Inside, we saw many Wheels strewn about.

Both monsters followed us into the room, ignoring Harmast and company.

At the time, we had no hope at all. Wounded, fatigued, depleted of magic points, we were on the brink of death. Miles hid behind Tim, who hid behind Simon. Thingol retreated into the farthest corner. And we all shouted, “Harmast!!!”

Meanwhile, as the monsters made their way into the room, Slagstone, Gorfang and Harmast engaged in a heated debate. Should they, or should they not throw the ovoid we found out into the corridor. They did, and nothing happened. Finally, they came out into the corridor to engage the second monster.

Noting our bedraggled condition, Harmast called on Humakt to restore everyone to full combat potential. Humakt answered, and we were all healed, rested, had full magic points restored and got back all used reusable rune magic. Harmast lost 8 points of POW.

It was another terrible combat. Thingol fell at the start, victim of the blue beam. Miles fell with a discus in his stomach. Gorfang fell, also from the blue beam. But finally, the rest of the party felled the two monsters.

When Miles was about to be healed, Simon noticed that there were wood splinters in Miles’s stomach even though the discuses were metallic. How odd!

We picked up Thingol and Miles and carried them back to the door, determined to break through. With everyone pushing, we managed to break through, but suffered 10 points of general damage each. Tim would have died but for Simon’s timely intervention. We finally made it back to the Doomquester.

On board, we rested for a while and regained consciousness early the next day. It was here that Harmast recalled that his Truesword which he threw in the last combat had worked automatically and that he hadn’t even lost the use of it as he normally should have! Harmast thought that it may have had something to do with the ovoid. We tried it with a spirit magic spell: it automatically worked. And sorcery? Yep, automatically, even when manipulated!

We gave Thorkal all the loot and he divvied it up: of the 300 Wheels we recovered, Thorkal took 150 as leader, and the ovoid as well; he gave 70 to the crew, and the rest to us. He then gave us 135 of the 150 he took for himself and gave out bonuses: as it wound up, Harmast got 70, Simon and Slagstone 50, Tim, Thingol and Miles 15, and Gorfang 10. Thingol gave his 15 to Simon as the first part of his payment. As to the ovoid, Thorkal decided to let one of the sorcerers use it: Tim and Thingol decided it should be Tim.

Next Thorkal called a council. He wanted to capture one of the four-handed monsters.

Harmast replied it would be nearly impossible. Miles suggested dressing up like a female monster. Thorkal wondered if these things were made by the Jrusteli or by those who had destroyed them. Thingol said that these monsters must be instinctive, not intelligent. The rest of us backed him up, noting that one of the monsters shot a blue beam at Thingol when he was already unconscious from loss of magic points. Tim declared that we should explore the buildings more. Harmast wondered at the intelligence of capturing one, especially if one got loose. Thingol said that we could capture one if they were unintelligent, and we had either Reflection spells or lots of Countermagic up, because it was the blue beam that did the worst damage.

In the end, Thorkal decided not to try to capture one after all. He said we were going back to Barlinn for the end of the Sacred Time ceremonies and to consult an Orlanthi priest and get Divinations. Thorkal also decided to use his Analyze Magic’s to find out about this ovoid. He found out that any spell the holder cast would automatically succeed and that it was a portal into the Hero Plane, among its other powers, if any.

So back to Barlinn we went, arriving on the seventh day of the Sacred Time. We were paid for the time spent, about 144 pennies. Thingol kept enough to pay for lodging and food, and gave the rest to Simon, a mere 24 pennies. So his debt to Simon was now 426 pennies. At the Orlanthi temple, the priest charged 50 pennies per Divination, up to a maximum of 19, all that he had. We bought all 19.

Thorkal: “Are these monsters from the time of the Jrusteli? Yes.” “Are they magical constructs? Yes.” “Were they made by the Jrusteli or by their enemies? By their enemies.” “What were they made from? Jrusteli.” “What are they there for? To guard their own relics.”

Harmast: “Is the ovoid all we need to open the portal to the Hero Plane? No.”

Simon: “We have a jar with a monster apparently bound inside. What is it? Beats me.”

Gorfang: “Where is the Mask of Chaos? Everywhere that Chaos is seen but not recognized.” “Where is the lair of vitriol? One was at the Baths of Nelat.” “Where are the Gray Ones? To the south.” “What are the Gray Ones? Extremely dangerous and delicate to deal with.” “What properties does my key have? (Here Gorfang received a vision of a dwarf hand inserting the key into a hole in a stone wall. The lines of a door magically appear and open slowly.14) (The priest believed this to be symbolic, not literal.)

Slagstone: “Where lies the Bane of Time? Beyond the Universe. (The priest believed the Bane to be Chaos. He suggested that perhaps it hasn’t been summoned yet.) “What is the Red Beast? The nephew of the Bull. (Slagstone received a vision of a huge red bull-like creature. He was so large that the clouds were dwarfed by him.) .“Where is the Red Beast? On the desert wind. “Where is the door that the dwarf’s key will open? In the Mountains of the Gray Ones.” “When we go to the south, will I need my child (the black bisonthat Old Man had given him) with me? Best to be safe. The future is unknown to me.”

Thingol: “To succeed in our quest, will we need to go beyond the Universe? Ultimately.” Ferric: “Where is Flintnail? In Dragon Pass.”

And so we spent our time helping in the ceremonies that result in the rebirth of the world.

  1. Like the gates to the Mines of Moria.

Chapter9

Rettlesch, Jrustela

The year is now 1622 ST. But now something terrible has happened. Thorkal Doomquester is ill. He is totally incoherent, and nothing seems to help.

Since none of us could do anything for him, we all decided to head to the south of this island. Lazlo, the ship’s captain, didn’t think it wise for Thorkal to travel, so we had to hire our own boat. We were able to buy passage on a ship carrying marble to Rettlesch. Lazlo said he’d come to Rettlesch as soon as Thorkal’s illness burned itself out.

As we entered Rettlesch harbor late on Windsday of Disorder week, we noticed that there were two towers guarding the entrance to the lagoon. We also saw a huge pier in the lagoon. Some of us saw what we believed to be mer-folk ducking behind the pier. It turned out that the ship we had booked passage was on a trading mission: exchanging the marble for, of all things, iron.

Slagstone was not too happy about being in such close proximity to iron.

As we disembarked, we noticed a perfectly cubical building cunningly made of marble blocks. It had to have been dwarf work. No human could have done the work so perfectly. We asked what it was. It was the Dwarf Embassy in Rettlesch. As Gorfang walked around it to examine it, a door magically opened from the stone of the building. He walked inside and it closed behind him. The door also opened for Ferric, who also went inside.

Harmast and Miles went to the harbor master. Harmast wanted to purchase some of the iron. The harbor master said the merchants buy and sell in lots of one hundred pounds. Oh well.

When they returned, we went looking for lodging. There were two inns in town, The Headless Dwarf, and The Monolith. We decided to check out The Headless Dwarf. Inside, the innkeeper was stunned. He had never seen a troll before. He asked the rest of us questions, assuming that Slagstone was a wild animal of some sort. Except for Thingol, the party made fun of Slagstone. Tim even tried to cast Dominate Troll to show the innkeeper that he could do tricks (Slagstone, not Tim).

The inn had three kinds of rooms. The common room floor, regular rooms, and one good room. Simon, of course, took the best room. It would cost the rest of us 4 pennies a night, but 12 for the wizards. Tim conned the innkeeper into thinking him a humble scribe, so he paid only 4. Slagstone’s room would first be laid out with sawdust. Thingol and Harmast decided to check out The Monolith.

There was a doorman there who expected a tip. Inside the roof had a hole with an honest-to- god monolith sticking out. Again, there were three kinds of rooms. The ‘Squire’ room would cost 8 pennies per night. The ‘King’ room, 20 pennies a night. The ‘Emperor’ room, 60 pennies a night. Thingol decided to go back to The Headless Dwarf and tell Simon all about the rooms at The Monolith. He did, and Simon offered to trade rooms. Thingol agreed, but was still gouged by the innkeeper.

And what about Gorfang and Ferric? Well, they were met by 16 dwarfs in iron armor and armed with heavy crossbows.

Gorfang said, “Greetings from Greatway.”

The dwarfs turned around, and without a word, started to walk away. Gorfang and Ferric followed them. They went through an elaborate maze and down a spiral staircase into a large room with a lava pit in it. They were met by a dwarf in robes who asked, “What message from Greatway?” Of course Gorfang didn’t really have a message, but he managed to become friends

with the dwarfs here. The dwarfs, who said they were Openhandists, said that they run Rettlesch. The humans found an iron mine and they mine it for the dwarfs, who graciously allow them to keep one percent of it for themselves.

Gorfang and Ferric were taken even lower, where the halls were lined with iron. Here they met those dwarfs like those in Barlinn. Gorfang and Ferric were given cans of food and told the history of the Ironsides, what they call their home. They said they tunneled here at the end of the Second Age. They also told him that after the Red Moon rose, the White Moon of Peace would soon follow to replace the Red Moon.15 So, Gorfang and Ferric spent the night sleeping on mercury beds.

The next day, reunited, we went to the local sage in town. His name was Sir Eranthropupp, and he was 6 1/2 feet tall, weighed about 150 pounds and was totally black. He was very similar to an Agimori, the men-and-a-half. He said that he was from Pamaltela.

Simon asked about pyarads, specifically how to control them. Eranthropupp said that he would check in his library and told us to come back tomorrow. We did and were told that there was extensive pyarad summonings in Slontos in the early ages. He also said that the Lunars might have that information because of an event known as the Moonburn. He said that pyarads were known to be at Pamalt’s court.

We asked him more questions and waited in Rettlesch until he had found his answers. We asked about vitriol. He said that it was an extremely poisonous acid. Hydras were known to produce it, and trolls were rumored to have used it in warfare. The Baths of Nelat were supposed to contain vitriol.

As to the Baths of Nelat, well, Nelat was the god of purification who lives at the bottom of the sea. Orlanth went through these baths and barely survived. But survive he did, and he was granted a drink from Daliath’s Well of Wisdom.

The Mountains of Evil. He knew of no mountains called specifically by that name, but he told us of mountains reputed to contain great evil. In Genertela: the Tunneled Hills, the mountains around Dorastor, and the southern Rockwood Mountains. In Pamaltela: the Tarmo, Mari, and the Palarkri Mountains. He suspected that the reference was to the Mari Mountains.

The Red Beast stumped him until Thingol spoke of the vision that Slagstone had seen. Then he told us that Ragnaglar, the Mad God, was supposedly a kinsman to the Storm Bull.

Other than Lhankor Mhy sages, he knew of only three other groups that could be called the Gray Lords. One were a sect of monks in Fonrit who wore gray robes, were pacifistic but were rumors of trouble. Another was a type of tree in the Palarkri Mountains which was totally gray. The last was a group of formless beings who existed before Time and who were probably extinct.

He didn’t know about the Mask of Chaos but his did say that the symbol of Bolongo, god of Disorder, was a mask.

Gorfang also paid for 3 casts of Analyze Magic on his key: 1) It is indestructible by mundane means; 2) It can open certain magically locked doors; 3) It can open the door to the Copper Kettle room, where the Copper Mostali were made. Gorfang recalled his vision, of a door that opened.

After a week’s time during which some of us had financial difficulties, we received a message from Lazlo. Thorkal was dead. He told us to wait there for him and that he would be there in three days.

  1. Lunar authorities claim that after they conquer the world, the Red Moon will turn white. Lunar enemies claim that the White Moon can’t rise until the Red Moon goes down.

The three days passed. The Doomquester didn’t show up. So we waited for four more days. She still didn’t show up. We suspected an accident, but all of us wondered if it weren’t something more sinister.

We decided to go to the local Magasta temple and see if the ship could be found through a Divination from Magasta. We went to the local Triolini, the mer-folk. But when we realized that there wasn’t a Magasta worshiper on board who could tell Magasta where he was, we gave that up. But they said that they could send out scouts and try to find the hulk if it had sunk. We politely refused, and went to the temple of Dormal, the sailor hero-god. But Lazlo was only an initiate, not a priest, and besides, Dormal had never been to Jrustela.

So, on Freezeday of Fertility week, we sailed back to Barlinn on another merchant ship, arriving on Windsday. Slagstone was very worried about his son and so immediately headed towards the troll settlements to ask Kyger Litor. Thingol and Miles accompanied him. The rest of us paid for a Divination from Orlanth. We asked what was the fate of the Doomquester. Orlanth replied, “I don’t know.”

At the Lhankor Mhy temple we learned that Thorkal died from a chaos curse, one thrown by a single creature.

At the local hospital we were told the grim details of Thorkal’s death. He had been literally been eaten from the inside by worms. We were also told that Lazlo had left something for us at the local stables. It was the black bison calf, and the avalanche. Quickly dispatching a messenger who quickly caught up with the three, they returned to Barlinn.

But we were left with a mystery. Who killed Thorkal?

Chapter10

Pamaltela

Harmast called a meeting of us all.

“I guess you’re all wondering why I’ve called you here today. Thorkal is dead and it was Thorkal who hired me. Thus my honor and duty to him are fulfilled. I have no further obligations to you or you to me. All of us are free to pursue our own quests. I would, however, be proud if you would let me accompany you.”

We all agreed.

“What we should do then is get a leader. This leader wouldn’t be a full-time leader, but mainly would organize our combats.”

It turned out that Harmast was elected leader, with Simon as his second in command. But what would we do? After some discussion, we decided that we should go to the Mari

Mountains, in Pamaltela. But how to get there? We could either hire on to a ship, charter one, or swim. It turned out that there were five ships in harbor of which three of them were from the Jrusteli Archipelago, not suited for long-distance ocean voyaging. We eventually chartered a ship to take us to Pamaltela for 1750 Lunars.

That night, Thingol, Slagstone, Gorfang, and for all we knew, George had the same dream. We saw the Old Man who told us that the end of the world is coming in our lifetime, but not very soon. He told us not to rush too much. We saw a candle slowly burning down and we saw the Red Moon getting weaker, and then stronger. We interpreted this to mean that the end would not happen until the next Wane of the Red Moon.

On our journey down, there was some light entertainment when Ferric and Miles had a duel overseen by Simon. The loser was to be the winner’s servant for the entire journey south. Ferric won handily.

We landed in the port of Nikosdros, in Emyrs. Harmast suggested that we learn the language, since they didn’t speak too many of ours. He sequestered us in our rooms while he would look for a teacher. He told us not to leave the room because there were dangers that we couldn’t comprehend.

Over the next eighteen days we learned how to speak both Fonritian and Aldryami.

Our stay was actually quite pleasant. Nikosdros is a city teeming with people. The streets are tangled and many, and one often can’t get to certain portions of the town from others! The food was mostly fish, but they were very spicy and oily. The weather, though it was just getting into Fire season, was very hot and humid.

Asking around, we got the following information about the various portions of Pamaltela: Vralos is an area where several city-states thrive. They are ruled by the Patriarch of

Nikosdros, a merchant king.

To the west, Enkloso is a temperate land where snow sometimes comes creeping down the mountains and frost rasps inland with the Brown Sea fogs. Green elves live there, with a long history. The many humans in the lowlands and along the shores have Genertelan cultures.

Fonrit, immediately to the east is a region semitropical in climate and life. Its poor are all

blue-skinned16; as slaves, they are among the worst- treated in the world. The overlords, the Confederates of Fonrit, rule a hodgepodge of conquered duchies, satraps, principalities, and theocracies, and make a common cause only against invading elves. The northern state of Kareeshtu is a great naval power.

Directly to the south, the Tarmo is a high and rugged wilderness, with a spine of mountains whose great peaks are icy all year. Mostly nightriders, frights and gigantic man-eating trolls inhabit this land.

Laskal, to the east of Fonrit, is covered with tropical forests. Yellow elves of many tribes, with no central rule, live here. Many tribes of humans wander among the woods, paying token tribute to the elves as fellow creatures of the wild.

To the east of Laskal and on a peninsula, humans live on Kimos. They maintain an ancient war so old that no one recalls its origins. Their foes are called gorgers, and both sides worship the volcano god. “War-torn Kimos, ragged land of fire.”

The Mari lands are broken by hot, harsh mountains. The northern side is humid, tangled with encroaching jungle; the southern side is dry and rutted with canyons. Only violent raiders, savages and monsters live here.

We decided to go through Laskal on our way to the Mari Mountains. We walked to the town of Ouori in Laskal as a stepping stone to the Mari. It would be about 400 miles to the Mari from Ouori. Harmast estimated it would take from six to eight weeks to get there and back.

Slagstone stabled his son at an animal keeper, paying him for sixteen weeks with a promise of triple pay beyond that time. Gorfang decided to take his avalanche with him. Food wasn’t a problem but transportation would be. We could either go by boat or walk. Boating would be faster but there were unsavory things said about the river as well as that we would have to portage the boats across any rapids that we would find. We took a vote. Harmast, Simon and Tim voted to go by boat.

Thingol, Slagstone, Gorfang, Ferric, and Miles voted to walk. Therefore, said Harmast, we would go by boat. The rest of us objected, but Harmast told us quite bluntly that since the three who wanted to go by boat had paid for most of the trip, we would go by boat.

  1. Survivors of the Artmali Empire, we conjectured.

Chapter11

The River

The river was wide and flowed smoothly. We tended to stay in the middle of the river. We had three canoes, each with two porters, who were Veldang, one of the four races of humans in Glorantha. In the first were Harmast, Tim, and Miles. In the second were Slagstone, Gorfang, and Ferric. In the third were Simon and Thingol. On the first day, we saw many crocodiles, eels, and large snakes draped over tree branches. On the second we saw our first yellow elves. We also saw a creature about fifteen feet high with a round body, two wiry legs, black skin, and long fangs. The porters called them “nightstalkers”.

On the third day out, we were attacked by some sort of monster. It attacked the canoe with Simon and Thingol. The monster bit at the forward porter who screamed and dropped his spear. The other porters threw their spears in panic and mostly missed. Because it was difficult to move in the canoes, Simon grabbed his bow while Thingol cast a Damage Resist on himself, then grabbed the porters spear. Tim put a Damage Boost on Simon’s arrow while others threw assorted Disruptions at the creature. Simon hit it perfectly in the forebody and the monster sank beneath the waters.

About a half-hour later three hydras (!!!) attacked us. We had a chance to shoot at them before they came upon us. Gorfang shot at the lead hydra with his crossbow that he had Speedarted and Multimissiled. Slagstone took up some rocks and began hurling them. Each hydra went for a canoe. Gorfang shot again with his crossbow, hitting it many times. Slagstone missed with his rocks, but Thingol, who had first cast Damage Resist and then taken up his sling, hurled a bullet at the hydra menacing him, actually managed to hit it, whereupon the hydra retreated beneath the waters.

The other two hydras then shifted down one canoe. Simon chopped at the heads with his Damage Boosted sword, removing one. The hydra bit with all its heads but missed. Simon then removed another head as well. One of the porters was killed by the other hydra. Gorfang shot again at the hydra menacing his canoe. It too dived beneath the waters but resurfaced on the other side.

Slagstone continued to throw rocks at it.

Simon again removed another head, but the remaining four hit him. He was hit in the right arm, chest, left leg, and right arm again. Not only did the monsters bite, but they exuded an acid which ate away at Simon’s armor, as well as injected a poison!! Simon impaled the monster in it’s body when a head bit clean his right arm. The dead monster sank with Simon’s sword in it, but fortunately the hydra did not swallow his arm. It fell into the boat beside Simon, whose armor was pretty much destroyed and had taken two injections of poison. He fell, in shock.

Thingol was attacked by the hydra, but his Damage Resistance held. Then, using his dagger, he impaled the monster in one of the heads. More rocks were thrown, and more bolts fired. Thingol was attacked again by the remaining hydra but again his Damage Resistance held, but just barely.

Miles Disrupted the hydra. Thingol was attacked, but dodged the remaining heads. Finally, the hydra was driven off.

Thingol now had to try to revive Simon, who had been Healing himself. He had the amulet that contained the spell of Neutralize Poison, but he wasn’t very good at it. Tim had the ovoid that would guarantee the success of the spell, but he was in the lead canoe! They frantically paddled back, but Thingol decided that there just wasn’t enough time. He cast it two times, one successfully, the other unsuccessfully. It was just enough.

The guide, Zuzu, looked over Simon and said that Simon would probably be sick for seven weeks, if he survived. Simon was by now delirious. Zuzu also recalled that there was supposed to be a village upriver about one night’s journey away. We were unwilling to move Simon, but when

Zuzu told us that wherever there are little hydras, bigger ones are nearby, we decided to risk the journey. Fortunately, Simon survived the trip.

The village, Riverbend, consisted of about twelve huts in a circle. They accepted us kindly and they and the porters engaged in furious trading for about three hours. The children scampered about and pulled off the blanket that Miles had concealed his right hand in. His sword had grown onto his hand.

This is how it happened: In our fight with the hydras, after one had ducked under the water, Miles noticed a grayish slime on the surface. He stuck his hand into it and it came out coated with the sticky stuff. Then he saw glowing eyes under the water and, without first wiping the stuff off, grabbed his sword. The next morning, he noticed that his sword had grown onto his hand. We all made rather nasty jokes about hemorrhoids and scratching himself. We also noticed that the sword was throbbing at a different rate than his own heartbeat. This made us think that perhaps the sword was alive.

Eventually, the trading stopped and serious conversation began. We found a woman who offered to care for Simon until he got better. Harmast said that the rest of us, except for two of us and the guide, would press on to the Mari Mountains. When Simon got better, the four of them would head back down the river to Ouori and wait for the rest of us to return.

By drawing lots, it was decided that Tim and Ferric would stay with Simon. Tim lent Thingol the use of the ovoid. We paid the woman with all food that we had. We wanted to borrow Simon’s Cornucopia for the journey ahead. We all argued about it and finally referred it to Harmast. He gave it back to Simon, saying that it wasn’t community property. So we hired an Agimori hunter named Caswallon to catch us food. Our guide would be another Veldang named Mars the Merciless, who actually owned a sword and armor!

Also in the village was a Duck named Enkavar. He was born in Dragon Pass, but left when the Lunar Empire offered a year’s exemption from taxes for every duck head brought in. He sailed down to Pamaltela, then crewed on a barge heading up the river to trade. But on the way he caught psittacosis, parrot fever. The crew put him ashore, paid a woman his next season’s wages to take care of him, and then went on upriver. He decided to join us.

So we consisted of Harmast, Slagstone, Thingol, Gorfang, Miles, Mars, Enkavar, and Caswallon; human, troll, human, dwarf, human, Veldang, duck, and Agimori. Quite a motley crew.

We set off from the village hoping to cover the 300 miles or so to the Mari Mountains in about a season. Caswallon did the hunting for us when the food we had left ran out. Enkavar had to forage for himself. On Week 1, Day 6, Enkavar fell ill with the Shakes. Fortunately, it was only a minor attack and he was able to continue on the next day.

Three days later (Week 2, Day 2), Miles fell ill with Soul Waste. Again it was minor attack. The next day, Enkavar climbed a very tall tree, (about 200 feet) to look ahead. What he saw was a large pillar of black smoke coming from the middle of a large clearing. We thought for a while and decided that Enkavar and Caswallon would go ahead and scout it out.

The clearing was about 100 yards in diameter. In it, there were stone buildings (!) in various states of disrepair. The buildings formed a rough square and between the buildings, a wall had been put up. From the amount of lichen growing on the buildings and walls, they determined that the wall was much more recent. Inside this outer perimeter, they saw a much larger building as well as the pillar of smoke. Since that saw open holes in the sides of the buildings, they decided to enter.

What they saw was a small three-meter square room with a pit across it. At the opposite corners arches went off into darkness. Logs spanned the pit to the two arches and another connecting the two together. Caswallon, in a fit of stupidity, threw Enkavar across to the other side, towards the far wall and not towards either arch. Enkavar tried to grab the log, but missed and fell,

screaming, twenty feet into what appeared to be a water-filled pit. Unfortunately, the water was about three inches deep. The log fell in too, right next to Enkavar, nearly scaring him out of his feathers.

Caswallon was about to lower a rope to Enkavar when he saw a lizard-like creature wielding a poleaxe emerge from the left archway. He immediately ducked out of the room he was in. The lizard looked down into the pit and saw Enkavar. Caswallon waited for a few seconds and then jumped into the doorway, but not into the room. He didn’t see the lizard. Enkavar, who had seen what the lizard had done while Caswallon was outside, falsely cried, “Look out behind you!” Caswallon jumped into the room and was promptly attacked by the lizard, who had jumped across the pit and into the opposite corner to ambush Caswallon.

While they fought, Enkavar took his rope and grappling hook and attempted to catch it on another of the logs. He caught the hook on it, and began to climb. But as Fate would have it, he fell back in, landed on his head, and fell unconscious. Meanwhile, the lizard had shattered Caswallon’s spear. But taking out his axe, he then sliced the lizard in half across the stomach.

Eventually Caswallon got Enkavar out of the pit, who was mumbling something about “Ducka Fal” and divine intervention.

The next day (Week 2, Day 4), we decided to go back and investigate further. We went back to the same building and went across the logs to the left archway. Enkavar, who was next-to-last, kicked the log in just as Caswallon, the last person, was crossing. But Caswallon, with incredible dexterity, managed to catch on the ledge. Enkavar would have kicked him in but we told him not to.

We emerged from three smaller archways into a large room on the near right corner. It was a square room about 20 meters across. In the far right and near left corners, three sets of doors were on a kind of balcony that stairs went up to on the far and near walls. In the center, running left to right, were a series of wooden fences that appeared to have locks on them. On the center left, the fences and the balconies formed a large open area with three metal gates on the left wall. In the far left corner, a set of double doors were set on the floor, which obviously led down into the ground.

Inside, we saw a lizard who was doing something with the locks. He turned, saw us, and immediately started unlocking the gates, trying to head for the far left corner. We immediately spread out, Harmast, Mars and Slagstone heading for the large open area. The lizard opened the double doors and waited.

In a few seconds, an even larger lizard, about eight feet high, came out. Miles, who had been trying to climb over one of the fences (with only one hand, remember) dropped off. Mars prepared his crossbow. Gorfang shot at it, but tinked. Miles’ sword now started humming and slightly moving on its own. Enkavar slung at it and hit. The big lizard crashed through the fence between it and Mars. Caswallon impaled the small lizard in the arm with an arrow and it fell.

And then a second big one came out. Harmast finally broke through to join combat.

Slagstone threw a stone but it bounced off. Enkavar missed with his sling. Thingol successfully Palsied the big lizard in the leg, and it fell. Miles hit with his sword, wounded a small one, but nothing spectacular happened.

And then a third one came out. Caswallon’s next arrow missed this big lizard but not Mars.

Fortunately, it bounced off his armor. Enkavar’s sling broke and criticalled Caswallon in his leg, shattering the kneecap. Mars was hit by the second big lizard’s club, but it too bounced. Harmast then fumbled and fell down, but Slagstone interposed himself between the big lizard and Harmast. Miles hit again, but was parried. Mars’ blow was also parried.

Now four more little ones came out. Gorfang shot again, hit the second big one in the head, who promptly fell down. He in turn was hit, but his armor held. Miles hit again, but was parried.

By now, the first big lizard had crawled up the stairs to the far right corner. It opened the door, sunlight streaming in, and crawled out. Enkavar downed another small one with his short sword. Mars chopped an arm off a small lizard. Slagstone drove his poleaxe through the heart of the last big lizard. And Miles finally killed the last small lizard.

While we rested briefly, we heard a strange noise. Looking up, we saw the roof hinge up and we saw the ugliest creature any of us had seen look down on us.

She was about twelve feet high and had sallow yellow skin. Her hair was greasy and her nipples a disgusting shade of green. She had only one eye and was wearing nothing except a loincloth. She had a pot with someone inside, and wielded a ladle.

She shook the ladle at us, dipped it in her pot and threw the contents at Miles. Fortunately it missed, but some of it splashed on his left arm, where it burned like acid. We all started to back away, clogging the tunnel back to the room with the pit. She threw again, missed, but Gorfang got some on his right arm, where it again hurt very much. Meanwhile Caswallon and Thingol jumped across and wrestled the log from the right archway to the left.

Miles, who was separated from us, was again the target for her soup. He was hit on his head, where it burned off his hair. Miles fell from the shock. He started crawling towards us, his skin visibly blackening and roughening. Another ladle-full missed. Miles attempted to Disrupt her, but failed to overcome her. Gorfang and Harmast both heard hissing replies to her cackles and decided not to make a stand. Another ladle hit Miles directly, splashing all over his body.

She pointed at Slagstone and said, “You got my children. Now I’m going to curse you!” And she grabbed something glowing out of the air and threw it at Slagstone. It overcame him, and went through his armor like it wasn’t there. She was about to throw a second one but we had made it into the forest. All of us, that is, except for Harmast, Gorfang, and Miles. Harmast tried a Heal Wounds divine spell on Miles with no visible effect. They stumbled across the log, kicked it in and ran for the forest.

As they ran, she threw another curse at Gorfang. Again it overcame its victim and went through Gorfang’s armor just as it had gone through Slagstone’s.

Soon a fair-sized stream of lizards came pouring out of the buildings. But they seemed not to be familiar with the jungle, so we gave them the slip.

The next day, we noticed that Miles appeared to be taking the form of a lizard-man, just like the ones we fought. His skin was turning scaly, his bones were reshaping, and he was growing a tail. Strangely, his sword-arm remained normal, or as normal as it could be. Where Gorfang was hit, his skin was also changing.

We held a small council. Harmast wanted to go back and force the hag to take back her curse. But common sense prevailed and we continued on our journey.

On the night of Week 2 Day 5, we camped and set watch. During the watch of Harmast, Thingol and Miles, Harmast heard a noise. We quickly woke everybody else up. And found ourselves surrounded by about twenty tall, yet not as fat, trolls, wearing armor and carrying swords and shields.

Chapter12

Captivity

Some of them had bows ready too. Caswallon knew of these types of trolls. They were called jungle trolls. And he also recognized the particular clan. They were supposedly the meanest clan. Their leader said in West Jungle, “You’re all our slaves. Come on!”

Slagstone tried to communicate with them in Darktongue but was surprised when they didn’t seem to understand it. The leader then asked who spoke West Jungle. When Mars and Caswallon answered, he picked up Mars.

“What is orange thing?”, pointing at Slagstone

When Mars didn’t answer immediately, he picked up Caswallon and started shaking him.

Mars got his wits in place and answered, “A dark troll.”

“Oh yeah? Our king wants a dark troll.”

Picking up Mars again, “Why with witch-spawn?”, pointing to Miles. Caswallon answered, “He was our friend and he got. ”

“Was hit by witch-curse,” the troll declared.

Picking up Caswallon, “What is short thing”, pointing to Gorfang. Mars replied, “He’s a dwarf.”

The leader sniffed Gorfang, but didn’t seem to react the way a dark troll would react, which would be to kill it and eat it.

Pointing to Enkavar, picking up Mars, “Other short thing?” “He’s a duck and he’s. ”, replied Caswallon.

“He your pet,” he again declared.

Turning to Slagstone, but not picking him up, he asked, “Is duck good to eat?” “I’ve never eaten a duck. yet.”

“Is dwarf good to eat?” “Sometimes yes, sometimes no.” “Is this dwarf good to eat?”

“No.” 

“Why not?”

Slagstone had no real answer to this question, but the leader didn’t seem interested in immediate taste-testing. He ordered us to put our weapons in the center, away from the fire. This we did, though they let us keep our armor, and shorter weapons like daggers, short swords, and slings. They manacled Miles’ sword-arm to his other behind his back.

They frogmarched us off about five miles to the east. Eventually, we came to another river which we crossed with some difficulty. Just across, we found ourselves in a grove of banyan trees, the biggest we had ever seen. They took us inside one, chained one of our feet into a big circle, chained the ends to the trunk of the banyan, and left us.

The next day, they let us stew for the morning. Then, in the afternoon, some of the trolls came inside. They examined Enkavar, Gorfang closer, and Slagstone the most. Then they separated Slagstone and took him elsewhere.

He was brought to another banyan tree, where an extremely old male troll began to teach him the language that they spoke, which they called Shadowspeech. It took him twenty-four days to learn the basics of grammar. Slagstone wondered why these trolls didn’t speak Darktongue. The old troll told him that they received Shadowspeech from the ancient Mistress Race trolls. He said that there was even a Castle of Lead nearby. Together they decided that probably neither Darktongue nor Shadowspeech were exactly what the Mistress Race spoke. Also, during the twenty-four days it took him to learn Shadowspeech, he discovered what the hag’s curse was.

Slagstone was impotent.

Meanwhile, the rest of us just sat around. Counting, we estimated that there were around 300 trolls in this village, of which about 200 were adults, split fairly evenly between the sexes. The trolls fed us greens and raw meat daily. With nothing else to do, Thingol learned some West Jungle from Miles. One day, a whole bunch of female trolls came into the village, surrounded by a heavy guard of males. Harmast was beginning to show signs of stress.

Finally Slagstone had learned enough Shadowspeech for him to be able to speak to the queen. He was taken to another banyan, where he met the queen, an aged and large but again, not fat troll.

“You are from the north?” “Yes.”

“You are a dark troll?”

“Yes. I came from Fronela, crossed Genertela, have seen Jrustela, and finally have come here in search of. ”

“We have waited for this day for so long!”

“You may want to know that I have been cursed with. ”

“Our whole race has been cursed! You are an uzko. We call ourselves muri. We are cursed because we cannot withstand the cold. We no longer have the power over snow as we did in the

past.”

winter.

Slagstone told her stories of the “good old days” in Fronela, where he had raided in the

“Yes! We would like to bring winter back here. But to survive it, we would have to have the

power to survive winter. To do this, we would have to crossbreed. And that is the purpose for which we have brought you here for. We must have a feast! Which companion of yours is most suitable for the elders? The rest of your companions will be good enough for the rest of us.”

“You don’t seem to understand. I have been cursed.” “You mean… you’ve lost your sense of taste?”

“No. I mean that I’m impotent. But I must tell you of our. ”

“Silence! Hmmm. We must break this curse. I must confer with the priestesses.”

And she called in all the priestesses. There were Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran, Lodril, and a few that he didn’t recognize. But no Argan Argar. They conferred for a while.

Slagstone asked, “Can I speak? I must tell you of the curse of Chaos.” And he told them of Urrquong and the Old Man and the prophecy and the tools.

The queen remarked, “Well, we don’t have the Curse of Kin. Maybe we can combine and break our respective curses.”

Slagstone now tried to talk the trolls out of eating the rest of us. He was only partly successful. Due to the nature of the quests of Slagstone, Gorfang, and Thingol, she decided to spare Gorfang and Thingol. Also, Miles, now that he was a lizard man, would probably also be spared, since the lizards tended to have ashy tastes.

So until the time when they would try to break Slagstone’s curse, he was allowed to wander around the village, but not to leave it. When he entered the tree with the rest of us, he was guarded closely.

It turned out that Slagstone had gotten us the layout of the village, so that we could plan an escape. He also learned that these trolls used fire much more than they did in Genertela. They even smithed their own weapons! Gorfang offered to teach their metal-workers some of his tricks, but they were far beyond his limited knowledge.

Meanwhile, Harmast was getting more and more uncomfortable. He did not fancy getting eaten and with all the trolls around, there didn’t seem much chance to escape. He finally decided he would try to call on Humakt through Divine Intervention at the last minute to escape being eaten.

But one day some trolls came over to Harmast and said, “So you think you can use Divine Intervention to get out of here, huh? Go ahead! Do it now! We’ll put our swords down!”

Which they did. But when Harmast hesitated, they said, “I think we’ll eat your left leg!” Just as they were about to cut it off, Harmast tried to DI. It didn’t work. The trolls laughed and beat Harmast up, breaking many bones. It seemed that we were trapped inside an enemy temple or shrine and thus could not call for Divine Intervention.

After four more days, it was time for the ritual that would make Slagstone potent again. He had not been told this, but he had the uneasy feeling that if it didn’t work, he might have overstayed his welcome. The ritual would last three days and end at the midnight separating summer and rain. It would involve the summoning of a Dehore, a spirit of Dark, which Slagstone would have to defeat. If he defeated and bound it, it would bear the curse instead of Slagstone.

The first night he was not allowed to eat. They also taught him the spell to Bind Dehore. He had to forget the spells of Ironhand and Disruption to hold it. The second night he was placed in near-total sensory deprivation. And then the third night came.

Harmast decided that tonight would be the best night to try to make a break for freedom. Gorfang, who had discovered that he could open the locks that bound us quite easily, unlocked Harmast, but made some noise in the process. Two guards came in to investigate. Harmast took his dagger and buried it in the chest of the first guard. He fell, dead, and Harmast grabbed his sword. The fight was quick. Harmast chopped him in the leg, then killed him through the throat. Gorfang quickly unlocked the rest of us, and we all ran for it. None of us had our spirit magic fetishes except for Mars and Miles. The only weapons we had were two bastard swords, a long bow, and assorted short swords, slings, and daggers. Nevertheless, we headed out of the village. Fortunately,

over the howling of the trolls who were summoning the Dehore, the noise we made was not heard. We made it safely away from the vicinity of the village.

And what of Slagstone? At exactly midnight, the Dehore walked in. It was tall, black, and hooded. It cast its cloak of Darkness around Slagstone and applied its Fearshock. Despite his one- point Spirit Block, Slagstone died instantly. But, calling on Kyger Litor, he returned to life, losing 8 POW in the process. He quickly made short work of the Dehore in normal spirit combat, bound it, and the curse was lifted.

The other trolls were quite disturbed about our escape. They had to wait to send a hunting party after us until the celebration was over. So Slagstone was left behind in the village, possibly to stay there the rest of his life. The trolls would send some messengers to Ouori to bring back Slagstone’s bison son. Was this the task appointed for him by Old Man? Was this the task that would make “mothers praise him until Time ends?”

Only time will tell.

Chapter13

The Mari Mountains, Pamaltela

Since we were in troll country, we thought it best to hurry somewhat. Since they had taken us east, we decided to head southwest, to get back to the River. Since we didn’t have machetes, we traveled at a lesser pace. We had remarkably few encounters.

Finally, on Week 9 Day 3, we caught our first glimpse of the Mari Mountains. We also noticed that it was starting to rain much more frequently. Our pace slowed even further.

On Week 12 Day 7, we found ourselves in hilly country. It was then that we met Tira, a female Agimori who was a member of the Azzeela tribe.

Later that day, a winged reptile swooped down towards us. It grabbed Mars and carried him off, weapons and all.

“The sacred animal of my tribe!” exclaimed somebody.

We all turned around and there stood the ugliest human we had ever seen. This person was comparable to the witch-hag we had seen earlier. It turned out that his name was Worfang. He was a recently-initiated shaman of the Azzeela tribe, the same as Tira’s.

Harmast suggested that perhaps Worfang could create new fetishes for our spirit magic spells in return for proper recompense. Worfang agreed, and we set out for his village, three days away.

On the first day out, Harmast thought he heard noises coming from all around us. He told us in Fonritian to prepare for an attack. Thingol threw a Damage Resist 6 on himself and Harmast threw a Bladesharp 4 on one of his swords. But since Worfang and Tira did not speak Fonritian, they didn’t understand.

Simultaneously, a spell hit Gorfang which failed to overcome him, and four arrows flew from the trees towards Caswallon. The first impaled, the rest also and Caswallon fell dead. Then a second later, they rose up out of their hiding places.

They were humanoid, short and bald, with greenish skin. Later we would learn that for some reason they were called “yellow elves” by everybody. Thingol and Enkavar pulled out their slings, threw simultaneously but missed. Harmast readied his sword, jumped forward to engage the nearest, and chopped off its leg. Miles also jumped forward and chopped off a leg of a different elf. Thingol missed with his sling cast but Enkavar hit one in the left arm. More arrows flew, hitting the duck in the abdomen, felling him.

Again arrows flew, this time towards Thingol. One impaled him in the arm, forcing him to drop his sling. One missed, and the last two were resisted. Worfang cast Protection 5 on himself, then Disrupted an elf in the chest. Miles finished off the one he had downed, splitting it in half. Tira pulled out her axe, and killed her first elf. Thingol was hit by a spell which overcame him. He felt very Demoralized. An elf ran towards Enkavar, decided not to finish him off, and instead attacked Thingol from behind. He impaled Thingol, but it bounced off his Damage Resistance. Harmast engaged two elves at once and chopped off one of the elves’ legs. He was hit by the other elf but he parried. Enkavar now cast a Heal Wound divine spell, healing himself of almost all of his wounds. Again the arrows flew, penetrating right through Tira’s left arm. It hung there limply.

The bowman (or bow-elf) shot again, hitting Worfang three times out of four. They all bounced off Worfang’s Protection. Miles killed the elf that Harmast had downed first, then sprung to the nearest tree shouting, “One move and the tree gets it!” Harmast hit his foe and parried the

return blow. Gorfang critically hit his foe with his hammer, but the elf got his spear in the way, blocking it entirely. Tira heroically chopped another elf’s arm off, despite the loss of her right arm. Enkavar snuck up behind the elf who had decided not to kill him but instead had attacked Thingol and slashed him across the kneecap. The elf fell and Thingol, who was going to try to punch the elf left-handed, tried to kick him instead but missed. Worfang brandished his spear and put it right through the elf’s shield, left leg, and into the ground. Unfortunately he couldn’t get it back out, so he let go of it. He was, though, hit in return in the right arm. More arrows flew, hitting Miles in the right leg only.

Again arrows flew, four of them hitting Thingol, one of them impaling. But they all bounced off his Damage Resistance. By this time, the elves had started backing away. Knowing the jungle better than we did, they all got away except for the one who had his leg pinned to the ground.

Before we could stop him, Worfang finished him off.

So we had four elf corpses, one leg, and Caswallon’s body. They didn’t carry much loot.

There was a dagger, three short swords, a spear, and a bow. Gorfang touched the bow and it promptly withered. Worfang also found some herbs in their pouches. Most of them were edible, but one of them was a kind of poison that they apparently could rub onto their arrow points.

We made it to Worfang’s village with no further difficulty. The headman welcomed us, since we were with two members of their tribe. He also intimated that we should give a gift to them for their hospitality.

So now we had to regain our fetishes. The head shaman, the one who had initiated Worfang, was willing to remake a fetish for Enkavar in return for all his tail feathers. Reluctantly he agreed, and went through a painful ordeal while the shaman plucked them out one by one. Harmast, after some haggling, gave the shaman 15 Wheels. The shaman accepted it, not as payment, but to make a necklace. Gorfang turned one of his tin cans into a metal knife blade. And Thingol offered to teach Worfang Fonritian for his fetish.

We stayed in the village for about two weeks. During this time, a plains nomad from the other side of the Mari Mountains entered the village. His name was Gunnar, and he was an Agimori.

Also during this time we asked about the Mari Mountains. The shaman told us that they were horrible, with giant flying monsters and vicious bandit tribes. We also asked about the Gray Ones. He could tell us only that they were legendary and that they were said to have helped make the world. He also drew us a crude map of the Mari Mountains. There were six main mountain peaks. The first and easternmost was said to harbor large humanoids, about two men in height. The second was where the bandits were supposed to live. The third was filled with ghosts. The fourth was said to have many large snakes. The fifth and westernmost was supposed to have lots of very small trees. The sixth was set south and between the first two. It was here that traders were said to live, traders who, according to the shaman, cheated people.

So we decided to head between the first two peaks towards the traders. We would try to keep in between the two. And off we went.

The going was fairly rough. We kept away from the most treacherous routes up, but also checked very carefully the easiest routes up. We didn’t want to get ambushed again like we had back at the Plateau of Statues!

It was also very cold. Tira made furs out of animal skins, but not before Thingol caught pneumonia. We camped for six days until he got better.

On the way, we also had seen giant leathery-like things flying far overhead. In addition, every so often we would come across an abandoned campsite.

One day, we saw a giant footprint. It was about five(?) feet long, with three large clawprints. These clawprints were at very strange angles in relation to the foot. Tira proclaimed that they were troll-like despite the claws. Worfang announced that this was walktapus country. Thingol noted that the trail probably followed the easiest way up the mountain. The snow was fresh, but that wasn’t any indication of how long since that had been made.

We decided to follow the trail of footprints despite some misgivings from certain members of the party.

After several hours, we were ambushed by three things coming from our right over a small hillock. Two of them were what we called “mountain trolls”, about twelve feet high, though they were hunched over, and extremely long arms. The third was the same size, but had three heads.17

Tira and Worfang began backing up, while Harmast and Gorfang prepared their weapons with Gunnar running away. Thingol and Miles stood stunned. The trolls still advanced so we attacked.

Tira hit the first troll, and it was here we discovered something awful. Their blood was a potent acid. Thus not only were our weapons damaged every time we penetrated, but we had to watch out for the blood that poured out of the wound! Gorfang fumbled and his helmet slid over his eyes. Harmast was parried by the three-headed troll.

The first troll clawed at Tira. Though she parried with her shield, her left arm was nearly taken off, and she flew back two meters. Thingol was also attacked by the first troll. He was hit, but he failed to dodge. He had his left arm taken off and flew backwards about two meters. The second troll missed Miles but hit Gorfang. Fortunately, it tinked off Gorfang’s armor and shield. The three-headed troll tinked off Harmast’s shield, and Enkavar dodged the troll and started to bury himself in the snow.

The first troll ignored the downed figures of Tira, who was Healing herself, and Thingol, who was bleeding, and ran after Gunnar. Fortunately, the troll missed. The three-headed one attacked Harmast twice but missed both times, while Harmast threw a Truesword on his weapon and chopped off one of the three-headed troll’s heads. Fortunately, he was not hit by the blood. Miles hit the second troll critically in the head, knocking it unconscious and dodging the blood. His sword/hand, however, was damaged by the acid. Worfang noticed the acidic blood and immediately started throwing Disruption spells. He scored on the three-headed (now two-headed) troll in the abdomen.

Worfang scored again on the left arm of the two-headed troll with a Disruption. Gunnar shot an arrow and impaled the chest of the troll chasing him who fell over nicely. Enkavar fired his sling and hit the two-headed troll, but Harmast was unable to dodge the blood. His right leg armor started to sizzle away. Tira threw a Protection spell on herself. Harmast threw a Shield 2 and then hit the two-headed troll in the right leg, causing it to fall over, but his sword was totally dissolved when he pulled it out. Miles discovered that he could heal his sword’s damage with a Heal spell.

Gunnar’s next arrow tinked while Worfang’s next Disruption failed to overcome the troll.

Again, Worfang’s Disruption didn’t overcome the troll. Gunnar successfully Disrupted the first troll in the chest. Tira got up and hit the two-headed troll in the arm. Enkavar hit and the blood splashed harmlessly. Miles fumbled and hit Harmast in the left arm.18 Fortunately, it tinked off his armor and Shield. The two-headed troll stood up again while Worfang’s Disruption failed and so did Gunnar’s. Gorfang, his helmet finally off, responded to Gunnar’s cries for help by Disrupting the troll in the abdomen. Harmast’s attempt to Disrupt the two-headed troll failed. Tira hit the two- headed troll in the right leg, the blood hitting nobody. The first troll hit Gunnar and tinked, but Gunnar was knocked back a meter or so. The troll’s second claw missed. Worfang’s attempt to use

  1. Which we players dubbed Larry, Curly, and Moe.
  2. Fumble #90, maximum damage to nearest friend.

his spear on the first troll was an utter failure. He fumbled and got snow in his eyes. The two- headed troll swung at Miles but tinked, and also swung at Tira, but missed. Enkavar then slung and hit, but the blood splashed Miles in his abdomen.

Tira hit the two-headed troll, but her axe was dissolved when it came out. The first troll tinked off Gunnar, who was rolling around in the snow. Miles’ hit was parried. Harmast tinked off the two-headed troll. The two-headed troll swung at Tira. Her dodge was not good enough, and she was split in two. Harmast tried to throw a Heal Wound on Tira, but his spell failed. Gorfang hit the first troll in the left leg who immediately responded by hitting Gunnar in the right leg.

Miles Healed himself, then attacked the two-headed troll. The first troll hit Gunnar and tinked, then missed him. Harmast hit the two-headed troll in the left leg. Gorfang impaled the first troll in the chest, killing it. Miles then fumbled again, hitting Harmast in the head, knocking him unconscious.19

Worfang finally cleared the snow from his eyes, then threw a Disruption at the two-headed troll. The spell overcame the troll, and it died. Miles finished off the unconscious troll, avoiding the blood. Gorfang pulled his hammer out of the troll in a sorry state. Enkavar fumbled and fell over.

The fight was over, but as it ended we heard a howling sound. We healed up as best we could, Thingol getting his arm reattached by Worfang.

Something very odd we noticed was that underneath Miles’ scales was something black and charred. Whatever it was, it wasn’t flesh. Thingol recognized it as wood!?

As we pondered what to do, Worfang pointed out that big carnivores don’t generally live close together. Therefore this might be some sort of family group. So if we stayed here, we’d either be completely safe or be attacked by their friends/allies. We decided to track them back to their lair in hopes of finding shelter, for night was falling and it was getting cold.

After about several hours, we found their lair. Instead of a hoped-for cave, it was merely a hollow against a cliff. We found their food supply, mostly half-gnawed pieces of animal flesh.

Miles wondered if there was any human flesh in their gruesome pile.

The next morning we discovered Miles was missing. After some discussion, we followed his tracks. Oddly, after a while, they went from two-footed to four-footed, heading deeper into the mountains. We thought that perhaps the transformation from Mad Meg’s potion had gone a bit too far. Continuing to follow the tracks, we found that they went back to being two-footed again. Then they went into a cave. We went in. Gorfang with his special senses detected something coming around the nearest twist in the cave. Gunnar cried, “Oh, Miles!”

What came around the bend was a monstrosity. It was troll-sized, with wooden skin and four arms each bearing swords. Swords that were growing into each hand. And it had the face of Miles.

Gunnar impaled with his bow, but it tinked. Worfang Disrupted Miles in his lower right arm. Enkavar threw an Illusion Projection onto Harmast’s dagger to increase the damage it would do. Miles hit Gunnar, but tinked off his armor. He also struck at Harmast, who parried and was not injured. Harmast then struck, impaling Miles in the left leg. Harmast also yelled, “Run! Run!” Gorfang hit Miles in the left leg too. Miles fell over. Worfang Disrupted Miles again in the left leg. Gunnar shot again, but tinked.

All of us started to run, except for Gunnar who stayed to shoot two more arrows.

We ran for about thirty seconds before we noticed that Enkavar and Gorfang, having shorter

  1. Fumble #87, hit nearest friend for rolled damage.

legs, were behind the rest of the humans, and that Gunnar was even further behind. Worse, Miles was catching up, having Healed his leg.

So, Harmast ran back towards Enkavar and Gorfang, casting a Shield 2 on himself.

Worfang began casting Coordination 3. Thingol started to cast a Palsy 10. Enkavar cast a Speedart, slung at Miles and missed. Gunnar turned and fought Miles and tinked. Miles missed Gunnar, and Gunnar dodged Miles’ other blow. Miles hit again, taking Gunnar’s right arm off. Worfang Disrupted Miles in the lower right arm.

Worfang’s next Disruption fizzled. At the same time as Thingol’s spell went off, Miles hit Gunnar twice. Gunnar parried the first but the second hit him square in the chest. Gunnar died as Miles fell unconscious from the Palsy in the head. Simultaneously, Harmast and Worfang hit, the former with the dagger, the latter with a Disruption. Miles was dead.

But we weren’t out of the woods yet. Miles DI’ed and something huge and ugly appeared from nowhere. Worfang “saw” that its POW was in the range from 31 to 40. Thingol recognized it as Cacodemon.

Cacodemon grabbed Miles’ body, then saw Worfang. It raised its hand and zapped something at Worfang. Fortunately, it didn’t overcome Worfang. We immediately started running again. Cacodemon swallowed Miles and then zapped again, overcoming Worfang. It looked like three or more Disruptions combined into one spell.20 Finally, we got to some rocks where Worfang hid himself out of the line of sight.

Cacodemon then started flying in the direction of the cave that Miles came out of. We, on the other hand, started to head down the mountains below the snow line. We camped and thought about our recent experience.

Cacodemon is the son of the Devil. He is the Chaos god of Disorder and of ogres. Because Miles summoned him through a DI, Miles must have been an ogre. That explained why he claimed to be a worshiper of Styx, since he could easily make up rituals, not expecting to have a real worshiper of Styx come up and expose him. That also explained the wood. Ogres sometimes have chaotic features. Miles must have had as his extra armor which took the form of wood beneath his skin.

Did the presence of Miles have something to do with the Mask of Chaos? Certainly ogres are chaotic beings that hide among humanity. And the Mask of Chaos could mean Chaos that is hidden from immediate sight. We brooded on thoughts like this for some time.

  1. The Rune spell Shatter.

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