The Flower in the Sepulcher

A Letter, Slightly Damp
in which Finn details several scary things

My dear Father,

Our company is returning to Treff, back from another ranging into the swamp. This particular job was given to us by the Order of the Moss-Covered Sword, one of the biggest and most authoritative factions in the City of Keels and Piles. It seems there is more going on in the swamp than the usual beasts, bugs and terrible weather.

They sent us out to another old ruin belonging to the former Mosquito Kingdom (well, I’m not quite sure any more just how ‘former’ it is). The structure itself was fascinating— an enormous titan tree turned into stone, by lightning or magic or both. It had been carved out and built onto, to make it into a fantastically eerie tower. The outside alone was intimidating, but nothing compared to what we found inside.

A storm started up as soon as we reached the place, so we piled inside rather quickly. I got us through the door all right, with Cyrus right behind me. There was an odd sight inside, a passel of digging automata. They’re mechanical men as tall as I am, with digging implements for arms. They were commanded by something I’d never seen before: a skeleton in wizard’s robes. It walked and spoke and fought like a living man, though with horrible magic no properly living man should use. He clung to the ceiling like a bony spider, casting viciously damaging spells that hurt Mina fairly badly. Thank goodness, as always, for our faithful and capable Galen— he keeps us alive and well through all of our adventures (or misadventures, as some tend to be).

Having taken care of this first hurdle, we made our way up through the rest of the tower one room at a time. We faced a breath-drinker (a vicious spirit of air that can paralyze with a look— I’m shamed to say that it froze me from the start, but the rest of the company dispatched it), harpies (awful shrieking bird women, but we got the drop on them and finished them with all haste) and a terrifying golem made of flesh (probably made from the breath-drinker’s victims, to be honest) that was controlled by another skeletal wizard. He seemed to be quite mad, but a frighteningly capable caster. He created a heavy darkness in the room and when all seemed lost for him, he committed suicide with a devastating spell that hurt us all quite badly (it nearly killed me). Aside from that spell I was all right for that battle, Mina and Cyrus took the worst of it. Once again, Galen came to our rescue and kept us alive.

We actually spent a night in the laboratory where the golem was created— full of alchemical implements and gruesome experiments. (One of the other rooms in the tower held the remains of an experiment gone rogue, a spell of some frosty variety brought to life. It seemed to have escaped into the swamp, and I have no doubt it will wreak all kinds of frozen havoc.) In the laboratory we talked a bit about what exactly we seem to be fighting. We learned that this tower is one part of several in a larger movement, and the automata were digging a tunnel for transportation of… something. We don’t know exactly what. I don’t know if our current employers would want me to tell you that, but I don’t see what it can hurt. You keep secrets as well as any, especially if it involves your fried potatoes… anyway, after spending the night there we continued up the tower. Some of the trek upward involved outside ramps, slick with rain and crumbling from age. We were nearly swept away more than once, and once it was due to a pair of air elementals that may well have knocked us right off if they hadn’t been dispelled so quickly!

We reached the top after tackling more air spirits and a bit of very sneaky business— I was briefly invisible (thanks to Mina), so I snuck through a room with another pair of those skeletons (playing draughts, to my surprise) to open a trapped trap door to let my companions up. The skeletal men were actually quite polite and very helpful— Reg and Fitz, I believe their names were. They told us that they hadn’t really voluntarily joined with this movement and so would be perfectly happy to just… leave, if we wouldn’t kill them. They told us a few other things before we let them teleport out. Strangest conversation I’ve ever had.

The top of the tower was one of the fiercest battles I’ve ever fought, and you know that I’d rather slip by than fight— but we had no choice here. Another skeletal wizard awaited us, with a few friends… air elementals, an invisible stalker and an enormous red drake. Cyrus tangled with the elementals, the drake went after Mina. I managed to find the stalker, invisible though it was, and kill it. I wish it had left a body for a trophy, for I’m rather proud of that. Mina, Cyrus and Galen managed to take down the wizard and the elementals, but that left us the drake. It seemed rather intent on killing Mina, maybe just because she is rather dragon-y herself, but we eventually took it down.

There was yet another trial to face— the inhabitants of the tower left behind a signal beacon. It had summoned an enormous group of flying reinforcements, another ‘part’ to the larger movement. Mina and Galen somehow got it to stop working, and with that done, we can finally head back to the city.

I’m out on the boat now, with our catfish towing us along the river. Cyrus and Mina are talking about spears, Galen is navigating, and I’m contemplating uses for one of the treasures we recovered from the tower— a smaller, non-combat automaton. If we can get it to function, I want it to help me dig in the garden when we get home! If not, it can make a very fetching birdbath or maybe a coat rack in the main hall… certainly a conversation piece if nothing else.

You can tell Mother about the tower, but don’t mention the near-death, if you’d be so kind. When I reach Treff again I’ll send this off with a scarf from the Bazaar of Torches for her and some very fine tea from the Venom Deserts. Give her my best, and don’t worry— your daughter is battered and bruised, but returns alive (with all of her companions) to the Gateway to the South.

We’ve yet to discover the extent of this apparent uprising in the swamp, but it seems to me that what remains of the old Mosquito Kingdom may have decided to rise against the city.

Ehlonna preserve us, and restore this ravaged swamp to its original state (though it is humid, muddy and full of insects, it was once a treacherously beautiful place).


naheedas jurnal 6

this thing for kaleena isnt like other jobs. been drikin at the ful kwiver for a few monts now. shes always been kind to me. sneaks me a few extra heels of bread here and there. helps me brush up on my gnol. kaleena was my gides to Tref. i always pay bak wat was given to me. im gonna find her brother.

shes realy shook up about this mess. i canot say i get it. wat shes feeling. my mom left me as soon i stoped being usful. maried some merchant. once she had another kid… well i wasnt so important anymore. forced me to join the armee. kaleenas brother is the only family shes got. thats gotta mean something.

my thing or date as abad called it was eye opening. krogg aint like any other half orcs i met in the citee. hes too clean. speaks with a song. not realy the kinda guy i go for. yet theres something about him that had my curiositee peeked. becks heard throo one person in the for corners that he was interested. so i said fuck it. asked him on one of these dates.

it went. well. im not sure how it went. seems like krogg doesnt like jokes. or fun. or getting dirtee. or much of anything that i do. i thought id wake up his orc side. see him get a litel angry maybe. have a friendlee competition. turns out he didnt much care for that idea. tryed to get him to take of those fancee close. and by gods he went right in with them al on. after i pushed him. so much for my plan to get to see him shirtles. the look on his face as we went in tho. im gonna treasure that one.

he ended up wining. his damn catfish was three times the siz of mine. he took no joy in that either. did he really just want to eat at a nice restorant? i know he can wine and dine. shit. everybody in tref nos he can eat and talk elgantlee. im afraid hes just one of those half orcs playing human. not saying hes a traitor to my kind. just that im not sure he can even rage. no tusks that one. ill give him another chance. good thing i didnt take him to the orc bar. that wouldve been a disaster.

tomorow we hed out bak into the swamp. first to a fire temple. and then of to rescue the pup. beter rest up tonite cuz the swamplands arent kind to anyone.

Volume 2 Pages 11-12

We’ve arrived at the prophesied location corresponding to fire. The trip here was rather uneventful, and Owain Greenwood and his Eagle have taken their keen senses to scout for out next stop, the site of the Gnoll’s demon summoning. His advance information may very well mean the difference between success and failure on that leg of our mission. A significant amount of research has gone into preparing to deal with this elemental temple of fire and undeath, but comparatively little could be done for that portion of our task. For this temple Abad did some research, and I hired a local Wizard in Treff to do some geographical studies of the area while I availed myself of the library at the sanctum of Wee Jas. Had we had more time I would have stopped by the hall of The Compass Rose free company to meet the alchemist Galen Dwyer. It is my understanding that he also has some relationship to death, and I’d be quite interested to see what he has to say on the matter away from the ears of those more enamored with life for life’s sake. I shall have to arrange such a meeting upon our return.

The Order was quite helpful in providing the requisite knowledge to ward our collective from fire, which has been quite useful already, allowing us to easily shrug off a number of blows that would have caused serious problems for us had we been unprepared. Flaming bats as well as salamanders. And some summoned fire elementals (easily enough dispelled, though not before creating a noxious gas that seems to have poisoned my compatriots, a problem to be solved tomorrow) which indicate that it is likely that at least one caster of some power is still in residence here. I should hope to recover their research into the arcane arts, it should prove useful.

Unfortunately I’ve yet to find time to begin scribing scrolls, instead spending my time procuring ones from others and transcribing their contents into my books. It would be quite useful to have access to many of the mystical secrets available to me without sacrificing necessary precautions in dangerous locales such as this. Already I waste valuable mental power holding onto wards against the mosquitoes and can manage only so much healing potential to sacrifice utility (and I wouldn’t like to fail to have space for Expeditious Retreat and Feather Fall, I’m no longer a young man capable of rolling with falls as I did decades ago.) And on and on, my mind overflows with potential, but without knowledge of the future so much must be squandered on solutions to problems never faced.

My companions have the bravery of youth. They rush ahead unconcerned for their immanent mortality. Perhaps that is for the best. But for me, I know that my time is perhaps short, and needn’t risk it unnecessarily. Soon I will find a way to overcome this mortality. It is within my grasp. But how many more years do I have before time catches up with me? Surely enough…

Mina's Notebook, pp. 70-74

It’s not like me to go this long without writing, I suppose. I mean, I did get up to things in Treff, but I didn’t think to write about them then, and they seem a lot less important now. Maybe I’ll find time after we get back to Treff to devote a few lines to meeting the charming Bex el’Enen and learning a few tricks with my spear. For the moment, there’s a lot of things that are actually critical.

Apparently the Traveler’s Collective headed after the Fire site, and I wish them well there. The Order directed us to the Air site, further south in a region of the swamp that we’ve come to call the White Forest – a grove of titan trees killed and returned to “life” as stone towers. The largest of all is the elemental laboratory, and the things we learned there are … well, I won’t get too far ahead of myself.

There was a storm gathering as we arrived, and I’m thankful I had a feather anchor to spare. I’m going to have to fetch another at the market when we return. Ned’s not terribly bright and I’d worry about where he’d end up if he was caught up in high winds. The rain and wind were a continuous concern, working our way up the tree-fortress. I’m glad that Alain used his talents to warn us that gravity was likely to be a concern – we came well-prepared with a climbing kit and several spells for aerial maneuverability. He might be an interesting traveling companion in the future.

What was gathered at the laboratory was nothing short of an army. We fought a mere fraction of what was gathered there, and I’m glad of it. Still, quite the menagerie to contend with, so I’ll keep my notes here.

On the first floor, after Finn bypassed one hell of a trap and we scrambled up the mostly-missing staircase, we encountered a skeleton mage directing a group of pulverizers, digging automata with nasty sonic attacks. The mage part is especially concerning, seeing as it was an intelligent undead creature. It also hit me dead in the chest with an enervation. Fortunately Galen had the foresight to scribe a scroll of restoration.

We’re also still musing about why they were digging a hole. It looked like a transport shaft, a mine or something – and Finn’s field guide said something about titan trees’ roots going down to the bedrock. Even in the swampy ground that could make an appropriate tunnel. We also found a good bit of treasure in the automaton laboratory. I can’t tell if Cyrus or Finn is more pleased with their share from that room. Cyrus got a very powerful cloak of resistance, dyed in the wool with a rich, dark green that really does suit him – brings out the color of his eyes. Finn’s treasure is a miniature pulverizer, maybe chest-high on her, that she begged to take with us. I think I can get it going. Not sure if I want to. At very least it’ll make an attractive garden ornament, way better than that old lady across the canal’s creepy gnome statue.

In the next room, we found an enormous pile of corpses, largely fresh. First off, that told us the site was active, not just guarded by undead and constructs. Second, they were largely killed by asphyxiation. Third, there’s an elemental called a breathdrinker that we got to deal with. They have a paralyzing gaze, and they feed on the breath of the living. Fortunately they aren’t exceptionally bright – their tactics extend to focusing on whatever happens to be paralyzed at the time, not strategically engaging the most dangerous target. Also fortunately, Cyrus and I put a great deal of hurt on it before we got paralyzed, so Galen was able to finish it off before it hurt anyone too badly. Finn got the worst of it, she was paralyzed on its first appearance.

We kept heading up the tower, fighting some air elementals on the way up the slippery, crumbling path. Galen and I dismissed them easily, and Finn disarmed the pit trap at the top of the stairs so we could get in to the next level. We found a laboratory full of ice, which I found deeply surprising. I’m sure the newly re-dead skeleton mage frozen to the wall found it surprising too. From his research notes, we determined that he’d been experimenting with a living cold spell, which had then escaped into the swamp. It managed to slip away before we were able to track it, which might just be for the better – much more important things in the tower.

Finn gathered some more intelligence by listening in to a flock of harpies nesting in another room. Evidently they were hired on as part of an aerial strike force, but didn’t exactly trust their employers – which seems to be a pretty common theme hereabouts. We made short work of them – two of them to one of my lightning bolts and one of them to two of Finn’s arrows before they even could react.

The battle with the harpies alerted another one of the skeleton mages. This was approximately where I figured out that the skeleton mages retained their personalities – this one was just insane. Fortunately the flesh golem he created killed his lab assistant before he was able to sound any alarms. We also had a relatively easy time with the golem, all things considered – Finn’s frost bow and Galen’s alchemist’s fire slowed it down, I’d picked up some scrolls of lesser orb of acid for just such an occasion, and the golem’s creator ordered it to attack me. You wouldn’t think that would make for an “easy” time, but I was able to keep it from targeting anyone else and kept it moving past the others so they could take potshots at it. The mage, on the other hand, was a bit more serious. He dropped a darkness spell that I couldn’t shut down with a daylight, then took himself out in a suicidal spell that seriously hurt all of us – damn well almost killed Finn, and had me barely on my feet.

We set up camp in the golem laboratory so Galen and I could refresh our spells, and by the time I woke up from my nap (to sardonic remarks from Cyrus – I’d have been more impressed at the time if I wasn’t trying to refresh my mage armor) , it was past dark, the storm was raging harder, and there was chanting coming from above.

Finn pulled off some truly impressive infiltration and trap disarming to get us into the next level – owe her a beer for that one for sure. We got the drop on two more of the intelligent skeletons, who gave us a great deal more insight into exactly what was going on at the tower. They’ll get their discussion later. They did clue us in to the presence of some belkers in the next room. Nasty creatures that turn into smoke, go down your lungs, and shred up your organs. Finn and I both ended up coughing blood, but we took them down without too much of a struggle.

At the top of the tree, yet another intelligent skeleton directed a small strike force that put a serious hurt on us. Two air elementals, an invisible stalker, the skeleton itself, and a smoke drake. The drake and I tangled as dragons do, and since it was no true dragon, my breath weapon tore it apart. I’m glad Finn and Cyrus were there to back me up, though – going face-to-face with an irate drake with my back to a hundreds-foot drop was not a great position, and having a timely stab from the rogue and flail from the knight was much appreciated.

We didn’t get a chance to grab the elemental focus, as much as it might have been useful. I’m not exactly happy about sending it back to the bloody flying armada gathered over the tower, but well, as far as Galen and I could figure out, the other two options – swiping it or giving it a good hard shock – would probably have had a good chance of killing one or more of us. Getting the focus would have been great and all, but cutting the ritual short and stopping the lightning storm before someone else got hit with a lightning bolt seemed like a higher priority.

More thoughts about the tower and what it means. The two skeletons that Finn helped us get the drop on were newly created. Reg and Fitz, and when Finn found them they were playing draughts. I really ought to give up and worship Olidamarra, apparently my life is all an enormous joke. They said something about having retreated to the swamp after some trouble with “the church”, and between that and their accents, I’d peg them as recently deceased Horsemen. They were evidently given the option of death by breathdrinker or undeath and servitude, and I suppose I don’t blame them too much for choosing the latter. They also weren’t too keen on the whole “servitude” bit, and gladly gave us information in return for being allowed to teleport away without incident. That could work out badly for us, but considering they were supposed to fight us to the death instead of fleeing with their tails between their legs, I don’t think they’ll be too quick to report back to their boss.

The boss in question is apparently a “her”, and a terrifying one. According to Reg and Fitz, she appears to be human, but is most definitely not – she’s probably Mosquito-Kingdom-old. There’s also a good bit of evidence that the typically splintered casting factions of the Mosquito Kingdom are working together – afraid enough of of that “her”, I’d wager. She’s also gathering an army, which Cyrus confirmed after observing the armada gathering over the tower. He figures this portion is being skirmish and reconnaissance, and figures it as being about a sixth of the size of a full army. Which lines up with the “part three of six” that we’ve seen references to throughout this tower. What aerial portion had time to gather was headed south-southeast, the direction of the Life gem.

Speaking of, if I didn’t respect Cyrus before, I sure as hell would now. Getting the drake to focus on me was tactically advantageous, but actually facing it down was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. For Cyrus, standing between deadly monsters and us and hoping that we drop them before they drop him is practically instinct. I’m pretty sure it isn’t just my embarrassing schoolgirl crush talking when I say that He’s noble in more ways than one, and in the only way that counts.

I’ve shocked a lot of things, and most of them would have died a few times over if they’d been shocked as much as I was that day. The flesh golem’s master hit me with a lightning bolt that washed over me like a warm breeze, a natural thunderbolt tore through me but left me standing, and I weathered an enormous arcane discharge that should have killed me. I’m certainly not immune to electricity, but it seems like it takes a great deal of power to harm me at all. I’ve also been feeling flickers of power – the intimidation of the elemental grues and the owlbears, the sudden burst of lightning breath that I’ve been able to manifest.

The dragon dreams have been strong the past few nights. I dreamt that I was the dragon embroidered on my sash, flying off the fabric and over the swamp, my wings stitched into the sky in bright silk thread. Invisible needles flew, lashing strands of golden lightning at an endless barrage of harpies and elementals and drakes and tsochars – especially the tsochars, which swarmed and lashed and reached for my maw, trying to dive into my body. They didn’t seem to care that I was made of thread. I woke up to the sound of distant thunder and a score of knots in my back where wings should be.

Should be. Nine Hells. This must be what it feels like when the magic gets to your brain and you start going a little bit mad.

Volume 2 Page 10

On our return to Treff Naheeda noticed signs of a struggle. Which turns out to have been a gnoll abducted to be used in a ritual to their demon-god. It appears this particular gnoll is the brother of one of Naheeda’s friends. We will be setting out to liberate him as well as journeying to one of the gems on the map. Luckily, I met Cade in the market while seeking new scrolls to pen into my prayerbook. His knowledge of the swamp may be invaluable. There are many subcontractors for the Travelers Collective. He also pitched some poisons to me, and I’ve passed the info along to the other members of the collective, though none seemed interested. Many of my companions pursued personal interests in the city, though I am not privy to their dealings. For myself, my mystical research has proceeded greatly. I have learned a number of useful, if largely minor, magical effects, including a repellant of the swamps mosquitoes that I am looking forward to testing. And, what a boon, the Order of the Moss-Covered Sword’s rangers even gave me a scroll of protection from elements that should be quite the boon when we arrive at the prophesied site.

naheedas jurnal 5

i dont think things are going to go acording to plan for kahleena. on r way bak we found a travlers pak. it was his. kahleenas dumb pup of a brother. i get it. feelin like you dont belong anywere. but he has biten of more than he can chew. he doesnt known the ways of the wild gnols. there not to fuked with. he might as wel be poking them al in the eye with a burning stik. anouncing his precense. wat a mes. ill do wat i can for my gnol friend. i went to see her once we got back to tref. told her the news. she says that hes going to be kiled in a demonic ritual. seems that the gnolfolk in the south also worship yeenog. we hav a fortnite til the clerics have there way with him and open a portal to the outer planes. looking forward to fun times.

while we wait were taking on another quest for the green swordsmen. you think after al weve done for em they would cut this tax bulshit. its al bout monee in this citee. seems like theyve learned more about the carneleean box and the profecee. we need to chek out the fire gem from the old map. it was that or wind. screw that. i dont want to deal with enemies i cannot see. luky for me everybody agreed on that one.

gan seems pretty atracted to all this profecee stuff. i cannot really put a finger on it either way. what ever gets your roks of right? seems like him and abad will have a lot to talk about. abad is a fan of old things. tho i stil cannot realy read our newest party member. the other people dont mind him. he holds up in a fight so what more can a half-orc girl ask for?

A long road ahead...

We set out on our next assignment to liberate a ruin of foul spirits and dark magic unlike that I have seen before. I felt my mental and physical preparedness to be sufficient for this quest, however upon our arrival my mind was corrupted by a demon from a plane where mortals do not walk or see. I felt our physical health was not in danger, but had we not disposed of the apparitions in the time that we did, I feel my mind would have been lost forever. Our newest companion, the spellsmith Ghann Tanos provided us with needed support, and Owain’s love interest, Bex provided us with morale. Or perhaps it was Owain’s morale that was most aided by her song..

We were ambushed during our encampment by a poisonous beast, an athach. Fortunately my newly acquired street skills were of use here, as of my newly acquired fortitude from taking, well, perhaps a few too many beatings in the alleyways of Treff… Unfortunately my sword, made of metal was no match for some of the black ooze we encountered. Our journey through the floors and mezzanines of the ruin brought us great horror among both the dead and the living. We met a large, winged serpent like creature at the top – of its origin I am unfamiliar. It was dark magic I had not seen before.

Despite the somewhat overwhelming odds, we emerged victorious. Great were our accomplishments, and many more I feel are in our future.

Upon our return, I immediately resumed my training in the alleyways and in the darkness of Treff. I learned survival, strength, and crude battle tactics. In the darkness I roam and in the daylight I rest in the pubs with hand on my blade, ever vigilant even in rest.

Volume 2 Page 9

We’re returning to Treff now, having cleared our way through the mosquito empire’s tower. I’ve completed my research into more advanced restorative measures and have taken care of the ravages our collective sustained in the face of the allips. We ran into serious problems with some swarms, leaches as well as the battle mosquitos of the empire. Abad and I have done some work on a fireball spell which should solve that issue in the future. While fiddling with that I discovered an interesting trick to improve the efficiency of the fireball, and subsequent experiments have show it to work on any number of spells.

A caster with allegiance to the Mosquito Empire completed a summoning on the roof of the tower to call a being from across the planes. He ran off and we dealt with the aberration, and a subsequent search of the area turned up a note he appears to have left behind in his flight. Written in infernal, but Abad is familiar with the tongue.

Five days back to the city, and I cannot wait to find a scroll to protect against the mosquitoes. Soon we will be back in Treff, and we will have much work to do. The hall certainly needs a sign of some sort, and Naheeda will be doing some work in order to get the Ataych head stuffed and mounted. Speaking of which, I have, I believe, never been so happy to have taken the opportunity to learn to stave off rot in the dead.

Another Letter Home

Dearest Father,

I apologize for the large amount of time between this letter and my last. We’ve been busy; the free company has been working to establish a bit of reputation for ourselves in a few districts in the city. We’ve gone on rangings into the swamp several times now, encountering all kinds of frightening things— mudmaws, gigantic skeletons, enormous stag beetles, chimaeras, owlbears, elementals and crab-men. I’m laid up with an awful fever at the moment, and so I have time to write you.

The last ranging was difficult. We took on a bounty along the way, the Sawgrass Rangers (fascinating folks, they fly about on enormous insects!) asked us to seek out a handful of owlbears. They’re fearsome things, all fur and feathers and beaks. We dealt with them fairly quickly, and continued on our main expedition the next day. (We were asked to seek out a specific place by an intellectual group called the Brotherhood of the Sole Exception. As far as I can tell, they spend most of their time debating and drinking.) They wanted us to recover a magical focus from an area of particular elemental significance, a deep sinkhole filled with water. What we found there was rather terrifying— of course I suppose that’s to be expected from an old Mosquito Kingdom ruin. It was not simply a water-elemental laboratory (though we did encounter a pile— puddle?— of little water-grues, surprisingly tricky things), it was one of a combination of water and death (or undeath).

The building was never completed. The doors were locked anyway but it’s my job to open them, as you know. I knew the trap on the front doors would be tricky to get around. Even knowing so, I botched the job. I twisted just a hair too far… anyway, the trap was set with a swarm of bloodmotes. They’re vicious undead mosquitoes that carry an equally vicious disease (the red ache), which is why I’ve got some time to write. We got inside after that, though I wasn’t done making mistakes— I tripped an alarm that was set on a chest in what must have been a foreman’s office. It was held closed by a skeleton that let out an awful scream when I picked the lock. I didn’t think too much of it until the drowned showed up. It was a large undead, capable of drowning you where you stand. Thankfully, Galen gave us the ability to breathe water before we ever got inside. After Cyrus took the brunt of the drowned’s force we managed to overcome it. We could not, however, overcome the chuuls in the next room. They’re almost as scary as the bloodmotes, but much easier to hit. (Not easier to kill though. They’re crustacean creatures, large and armored, like enormous crab-men with faces full of tentacled parts.) When we pulled our intended treasure (the focus) from its housing, the water in that room started to rise. It kept doing so, and we knew we couldn’t best the chuuls. So Galen and Cyrus battered a hole through the wall, and we ran.

We certainly did not come away unscathed, but all survived and we came back with what the Brotherhood and the Rangers asked of us. We did, at least, receive appropriate compensation, and we did return with a few excellent finds. Mina has a new spear that crackles with electricity (right up her alley), and we found a vest that suits me well— a Vest of Escape. It was definitely helpful against the chuuls, as they couldn’t get a grip on me. I shudder to think what shape I’d be in if they had. Deadly adventures accomplished, we’re home again under the sign of the Compass Rose.

It’s really a shame that the source of that elemental power was so corrupted. I’m sure if it hadn’t been occupied by Mosquito Kingdom mages it would be a beautiful place. May Ehlonna reclaim it and clear the darkness from its waters.

Tell Mother I’ll be well again soon, her soup does wonders (so does Galen, I’m sure he’ll have me right as rain in no time!). You can also tell her we’ve been to the Cabinet of Curiosities a fair few times, and I found a bookstore down the street that sells all kinds of fantastic books. We’re making good contacts all over, and judging by the odd sort of prophecy we received a while ago, that’s probably for the best. (I’ll tell you that story later.) Oh, and I’ve finally learned how to use a wand! I’ve been practicing in the garden with Mina, when I’m not sleeping off this godsawful fever.


P. S. Nearly forgot. We bought a boat— it’s pulled by a catfish!

Volume 2 Pages 5-8

My new travelling companions seem a decent enough sort. Perhaps they don’t all have the stomach to do what needs to be done in harsh situations, but after only 4 days of travel it is hard to say for sure. Naheeda seems likely to accept what costs come, and Abad appears unlikely to waver in the face of what some call evil. Lars appears to have been trained at least partially in street rumbles, which points to a hard life, but his accent and diction indicate a noble upbringing. He must have an interesting story. Owain, however, appears to have a strong moral compass which may cloud his judgement when the time for decisive action comes. On the whole I am pleased with my choice to join them, and they dispatched the aberration last night with professional efficiency, requiring little aid from me. It will be good to focus on more proactive tasks, unlike in the Temple, where the primary interruption of my studies was to heal the injured. Surely a worthwhile pursuit, but my studies have lead to far greater powers than closing open wounds. Fear is a powerful motivator, while healing is a weak stop-gap. Speaking of the temple, Wee Jas be blessed, but her priests are so regimented, it is nice to be travelling once more. For them, faith manifests in the divine art. But their’s is not the only way. Force of will can work the will of the Gods as well. And Oh! will force of will be necessary come morning. Besides, Hexus despises being cooped up for such long periods. The wilderness will do much good for his spirit.

With the information I’ve gained in various discussions with the members of the Traveler’s Collective I suspect that this tower bears little value on the prophecy revealed to me by the Order of the Moss-Covered Sword. Likely the souls of those who accepted suicide before their use had run out haunt the tower we’re to assault. Further indications point to some corrosive effects; potentially rust monsters. I’ve not had a personal encounter with them, and as I carry no metal it concerns me little. I hope that Naheeda is good with that bow; it does not do to close with them. Owain proved his shot, piercing the eye of the Atach that stumbled upon our camp last night, and Abad has some arcane abilities as well. I hope to compare notes with him soon. There is always more to learn. Lars, I am concerned about. I’ve yet to see an indication that he is skilled in ranged combat, and his full plate will melt away if I am correct that we face those foul creatures.

Of note, we were able to isolate the knuckle of the aberrations middle hand which will extend the effects of telekinesis. As no one here is familiar with the spell I suspect it will instead be cashed in to extend the acquisitions of this foray. Naheeda wishes to hang the skull over the mantle; it does not appear to be a great selection for such a prominent placement. She is clearly more pleased with the kill than concerned with finding a pristine specimen of correct type. To hang an aberration is acceptable, but does not have the status of one of the great lizards. I have suggested a trip south to claim a Tyrannosaurus if such decorations are to be in order. And, though I did not mention it, it would be quite practical to have such a beast, in whole, prepared with the appropriate application of Onyx to defend my new home, should an attack occur. But that part, I concede, must likely be revealed later. Few are accepting of my particular predilections. And research would be required to perform such a feat. The beasts, I hear, can be quite large and I have not worked with such a vigorous specimen before.

The allips themselves pose some concern as well. I’ve been researching a process which could restore a person, but it will not be ready in time. And while I’ve heard of those necromancers capable of warding individuals from the effects of spirits, it is not part of the art I have yet mastered. Perhaps it is something I will look into. But my first order of business upon return to Treff will be to find some spell to protect against these infernal mosquitoes. Or more accurately against the highway robbery that is their repellant. Surely someone in the City of the Swamp will know how to deal with these pests.


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