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January 19, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Loose Ends... Bugbears and Lesser Ones

This adventure was mostly information gathering, with one exciting incident to end off things.

Scrying -- We were concerned with the encounter we had had in the city and not knowing what exactly we had run into, we decided that information gathering would be our next best step. To this end Dari agreed to do several scrying's at different locations in the city. During the course of the adventure she scryed on:

the Barnaire Theatre -- nothing unusual
the bell room in the castle -- nothing seemed changed
the altar room in castle -- nothing changed/altar still broken
the stairs and arch to city -- nothing
the hexagonal area -- swinging around saw two dead bugbear bodies which looked half burnt and at least one had two holes pierced through the chest. The head of one was bitten or ripped off. (mmm.. yumm!)

Bugbear encounters -- July 29 -- While Dari was sleeping to get back her spells on the first day, bugbears from the ruined city approached us at Middle. The bat boys found them and reported back to us. We sent out a small party to talk with them with them. The bugbears had come to warn us that new snake worshipers had entered the city and caused mass destruction. They were scared and were thinking of actually going so far as to leave the city. While we were talking to them the bugbear ambassador, who was leading the discussion, suddenly keeled over with an blot stuck in his side. We saw something move in the bushes and pursued it. Unfortunately, we weren't able to either apprehend the thing in the bushes or save the ambassador who had died instantly from, we think, poison on the bolt. The other bugbears who had been with the ambassador were scared and one in particular was saying that the humans were traitorous and we should attack him. He also suddenly keeled over however, as someone bent down to touch him, his body turned to white flakes and disappeared.

Upon examining the tracks in the bushes, it was found that they went a ways through the woods and then just completely disappeared at a log.

When the party got back to the city they had a discussion over the event and Eli told the party that he had seen a snake crawl out of the bugbear that had disentegrated. Upon hearing this story the whole party tromped back to the scene of the encounter before dark. The disappearing tracks were still there and I think they were human size. We cast a detect magic on the tracks but found nothing untoward. Examining the log did no good either.

A locate animals spell did find a snake though, and upon casting detect magic on it, we found it was magical. Alegra dispelled it and it turned into a bugbear. The bugbear was very confused and paranoid and had definately been well on it's way to loosing its mind although it could still speak. It said it had been working for the demon worshipers. Faranynn convinced it that we were demon worshippers ourselves and were testing it. In this way we were able to extract its mission (to create strife between the humans and the tribe) and the fact that it referred to the city as "The City of the Rising Spire" . We did not get much more than this out of it until it pretty much completely broke down and starting asking for mice. Dari good naturedly fed it and we decided that the kindest thing we could do for the bugbear would be to release it in the woods well on the far side of the ridge.

July 30 -- We decided that the best thing that we could do about the bugbears would be to send a message to them telling them we were sorry for what we had happened and would like to stay at peace with them. To this end, Dari, invisible, snuck to the bugbear compound and dropped the message at the bugbear gate. She watched as a bugbear came out and found the tube. She then returned to the party having had no encounters.

August 1 -- Group of three bugbears respond to our message. A small party is sent out to talk to them. They say they are not ambassadors and can not speak officially but have come to tell us that it seems that the demonworshipers have left the city traveling east with 6 "stupid" bugbears. They thought there were only 3 or 4 worshippers. They also let us know that there are factions within the bugbears on issues dealing with us and what to do in response to the demon worshippers. The bugbears believe the demon worshippers have only gone for reinforcements and will be returning.

Group to End -- July 31 -- Eli, Bluebear, Xavier, Claude, and Sahrak headed off to End. Bluebear found that no recent purchases had been made at the music store. Xavier found that the patients at the sanitorium were making progress but could do nothing so complicated as talk yet. Eli and Sahrak purchased the info from the file on the old ones from the sage for 500 gp. The info from that will be in the next letter.

Ludo's Adventure!! -- night of Aug 1 -- Ludo is walking through the streets of Middle when suddenly a peasant woman comes out of nowhere and gestures at Ludo. She then lunges at Ludo and Ludo takes off running. She utters a spell at Ludo and Ludo is surrounded in inky blackness. Ludo runs! She makes a few more grab attempts at Ludo, but luckily Ludo is a slippery fellow. Ludo starts yelling for help, and running like crazy although he can't see where he is going! Luckily our policemen do hear the yells and head in Ludo's direction. Ludo, panting, takes out Alexis dagger activating it. This creates a flashing of normal blackness interspersed with the inky variety. Being able to see the woman now, Ludo grabs for his sling and throws one of his exploding mithril bullets at her. (This does 22 points of damage and a triple wound). The policeman arrive on the scene at about this point and start shooting at her. She turns a pile of sticks into snakes and flees. The police leader is able to apprehend her, and deals her a final blow, although he is bitten by a snake, and looses conciousness shortly afterward. On examining the body we found that the woman had scales rather than skin on much of her body.

The police leader was taken to the Nevronian temple and a scroll of slow poison was read for him.

Faranyn and Ceydric sealed the city just after the encounter, and that is where we leave things....


January 18, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Gerald's Farewell and Revelation

Ern (dog) ran around the room excitedly. He seemed quite cheerful that morning and eager to play, though he did not linger long to "talk" with any one person. Finally, everyone from the party was gathered in the hall. Everyone was present except the one who had called the meeting. Even Gerald's hawk Craig was there, since Alegra had been asked to take care of him for the morning. Several party members began to wonder where Gerald could be and why he would be rude enough to show up late to his own meeting.

Suddenly Dog grew silent. As the last echoes of his barking died away, he sat down and turned to face the entryway. Just then the door to the hall opened and a cloaked figure entered. Though he walked hunched over and his hooded cloak was drawn close enough to cover his features, the brown cloak and the walking staff revealed the man to be Gerald. He walked slowly down the aisle, leaning on his staff in an uncharacteristic manner. He ignored comments from the party members and advanced into the chamber.

When Gerald reached the centre of the gathered party, he stopped and addressed the group. His face remained tilted down and much of his weight was on his staff as he spoke. "Thank you for gathering together this day." His voice revealed a hint of weariness but held an inner strength. "Before the Stone Soules embark on further actions, there is an important story I must tell you. I invite you all to sit and make yourselves comfortable and to listen well." Gerald gently sat down on the floor and lay his staff before him. He kept his cloak drawn around him, and it formed a circle on the ground as he sat. Dog came closer to his master and sat facing him.

As Gerald began to talk, his voice grew slowly stronger and more confident. As he got more into the story, he added voices and characterization.

"In an Age long lost when I was a youth, I would spend many evenings in the local tavern in town. There I heard all the news from neighboring lands and could see the most exciting travelers who passed through town. Some of the adults did not appreciate my presence, but I stayed out of the way enough to keep from bothering them, and I even earned a number of friends among the regulars.

"One evening, I saw a newcomer at the tavern: an old man huddled close to the fire. I had never seen him before and presumed the man to be a traveler, but he bore few signs of being on the road. All he had with him were the well-worn clothes on his back, his walking stick, and a mangy old dog at his side. I was startled and embarrassed when the old man saw me staring at him: 'Come here, young man,' he beckoned to me. 'Could you fetch a mug of drink for your elder?' he asked. I did not work at the tavern, but the barmaid was busy with customers elsewhere in the tavern and I sensed that the man was worth helping, so when he handed me a coin I went off to the bar to order him a drink.

"When I returned to the man, I noticed how he sat aside from the other patrons. Whether from his choice or theirs, there was a noticeable distance between him and the other customers. Normally, a seat near the fire was considered one of the most prized, but everyone was giving him wide berth and full ownership of the fireplace that evening. As I brought the man his drink of mead, I looked around a bit to find the reason for avoiding the fire that night.

"'Thank you, lad,' the man accepted the drink eagerly. He refused the change I offered him and began to sip the mead. The dog slowly stirred and moved next to me. Though the dog's physical appearance left much to be desired, his face revealed a friendly demeanor that cried out almost as if a pitiful child." Dog pants happily, as if enjoying this part of the story.

"'He likes you,' the old man spoke for his pet. 'He senses that unlike some,' he nodded his head towards the crowd, 'you do not let prejudices keep you from making friends.'

"I cautiously petted the dog and let him lick my hand before I turned to address the old man again. 'Are you two traveling alone?' I asked.

"The man slowly nodded, 'We have come from a land far away and are in need of rest.'

"'And where are you going?' I was becoming more open in talking to him.

"'We are seeking many things,' he replied, 'but one of the hardest to find is simple friendship. A dirty old man and his dirty old dog are not often welcome in a strange town.'

"Though I found him both appealing and different, I could say only one word in response: 'Why?'

"People, especially adults, are often too eager to judge by outward appearance. They think they know a man before he first opens his mouth to greet them. They see an old beggar with a troubled past and little promise for the future, and they decide that he can bring only misfortune and annoyance. But things are not always as they seem on the outside. Come, boy, and sit. I'll tell you the story of another traveler who was difficult to judge.

"The man's kind voice, the dog's friendly face, and the fire's welcome warmth drew me to take a seat and listen to the old man's story:

Gerald's mood changed to match the change in tone of the story. He paused briefly before continuing.

"Long ago, there was a land far away. Far north of the New World and to the northeast of the Far World was an island continent very different from these lands. It was there that lived the Faerie elves, or the gray elves as they are called these days. Their communities were smaller and fewer than human towns, but they had a grand civilization of their own that was strong in nature and knowledge and, most of all, magic.

For the Faerie elves are a magical people and were even more magical in those days. Practically all of the Faerie could control some amount of magic, and their wizards could perform spells rivaled by few peoples in any Age.

It was unto this Faerie land that a special child was born. He was a handsome elf with a beautiful face, pale golden hair, and bright violet eyes. His parents loved the child as all good Faerie parents did, and they made sure that he enjoyed the magic and amusements that were crucial to the lasting childhood of the elves.

The young Faerie seemed to be clever and promising, but no one realized his true potential until one day his mother saw a wild cooshee-an elven dog-tearing up the flowers in the glade. When she went to scare the cooshee away with a stick, the dog turned to face her and barked," Dog barked in poor imitation of an elven dog, but Gerald continued. "And before her eyes the cooshee transformed into her son. The woman was startled, but her son calmed her that everything was right.

The Faerie child did not understand the oddity of his transformation until his mother explained it. The boy had thought it was normal for his people to be able to change into the shape of other animals, but his mother assured him that only those practiced in magic could do so. After his mother felt certain there had been no outside magic involved-for all Faerie could detect magic-she decided something must be done. She took her child to see the greatest wizard in the town, for surely his magic could discern the truth behind the boy's talent.

The wizard asked that the woman leave her child with him for the day, and by sundown he had realized the youth's great capacity for magic.

He arranged to take the child as his apprentice and student. Together they developed the young Faerie's inherent magical power and taught him other forms of natural spells. His mentor taught the youth to fight with a sword and other skills necessary for survival. The two went on many adventures in Faerie land and became good friends though shared diversions.

The boy's talents, magical and otherwise, grew quickly, but he did not realize his destiny until his teacher bid him farewell. When the wizard had taught the boy all he could, he insisted that the Faerie-child must go elsewhere to learn more on his own. Though his teacher promised the boy that he could do great wonders with his magic, he also gave a great warning.

The day would come, the teacher said, when the young Faerie would be the last of his kind. For the magic of the Faerie was slowly fading just as all magic slowly drained from this plane of existence. Though the magic and also the numbers of the Faerie would decrease over time, the boy represented the last great concentration of Faerie-magic. Once every thousand generations is born a Faerie whose connection to the magical realms is greater than all others, and this child held that power. But the Faerie race would not last long enough to produce another such child, and the boy must use his powerful abilities to ensure that Faerie-kind lived on through him.

Over time, he would find his friends and fellows passing into death.

Their spirits would not be recaptured into the next generation of Faerie, and eventually there would be no Faerie on Telvar save for him. In those future days, he would have to use his polymorph ability to blend in with the native inhabitants of this world. He would be tempted, the teacher warned, to walk the planes with his magic but must wait until he has experienced much of the world and has the capacity to plane-walk safely. In the millennia till then, he must study and learn and experience.

The wizard sent his grand pupil forth into the world that he might continue to grow. The teacher was proud of the Fearie-boy but knew that he would be constrained if he were to remain with him.

So the child went forth and traveled the world as his instructor had said. His people slowly died away until few Faerie were left in the world. He continued his travels throughout the world, and he found it increasingly tempting to walk the planes. He stayed on Telvar, though, for he knew that even his vast magic was not powerful enough. Then the day came when there was only one other true Faerie left, with only half-breeds to carry on the Faerie line. The child by then had grown in stature and in understanding, and he had spent many years in the form of other beings. He did not show his Faerie nature to the outsiders but let them believe that there was only one Faerie alive and that it was not he.

And to this day, the most magical Faerie still wanders the lands of Telvar in an effort to grow in magic and strength and wisdom."

"As the old man finished telling about of the Faerie-child, I was completely enthralled by his tale. Perhaps it was his words that drew me in with images of distant lands and strange beings. Maybe it was his storytelling style, for he used the same intonations and gestures that I have used to enhance this tale. But whatever the reason, I loved to hear about the Faerie and would ask him to repeat the tale several times over the next days. It was only that first night, however, that the old man put such strong emphasis on the moral of the story.

"So you see, boy, one should always be kind to strangers, for you never know when you might meet the Faerie in his mortal disguise. This is a lesson easily heard but hard learned, and you should take it to heart before you grow set in the ways of relying upon the limits of your eyes."

"I was still captivated by the story and took a moment to return to reality. First I looked down at the old dog and saw his longing eyes staring back at me." Dog lays down with his head on his paws and looks around the room. "Then I turned to see the small crowd of other listeners who had gathered to hear the old man's story. His words had opened a new world to me, though I was not the only one who appreciated his storytelling talent.

"The old man stayed in town, and I continued to go to the tavern to hear his stories. Over the coming days, the townspeople eventually came to accept him, though they only seemed to like the man for his stories. I liked him for his stories and for himself, and I eventually became his friend. He shared many other stories with me and had a great influence on me in my developing years. His fables and legends led me to view other realms, but they also shaped my character. One story that I remember well taught me the value of friendship:"

Gerald embarked on telling the next tale, included even more voice working and gestures and storytelling skills than the previous story. Only special effects are noted below.

"There was once a wolf pack that roamed their territory freely and happily. Three young cubs in the pack were good friends. Remus was the strongest male cub and son of the pack leader. Nala was prettiest and strongest young female in pack, and she wise above all in dealing with other wolves. Wonos was the best friend and cousin of Remus.

The three friends had a special relationship. Remus felt that he was destined to take over leadership of pack from his father. He loved Nala and Wonos: Nala was to be his mate, and Wonos was his best friend. All three young wolves enjoyed many adventures in their youth and were brave warriors.

One day, Remus was away from his friends when he saw Jaka the bird perched in a tree. Jaka called to Remus that he had news for the wolf-cub. Remus approached cautiously, not certain whether he should attack or listen, but the sly bird did not give Remus a chance to pounce him." Hawk cried aloud in imitation of Jaka. "Jaka the bird proceeded to tell Remus a horrible secret: Wonos was planning treachery against Remus and the pack. In order to protect the tribe and ensure his eventual leadership of the pack, Jaka said, Remus should eliminate the potential rival now. Remus was sad to hear of his friend's deceit, but now that he knew he grew angry and set forth to follow the bird's advice.

On the way to find his rival, Remus encountered Nala. She saw that her friend was in an angry mood and she asked what bothered him. When Remus explained, Nala warned him against attacking Wonos. She reminded Remus of their good times together and how Wonos had once saved Remus' life. Despite her pleas, Nala could not sway him, and Remus sulked off to find his treasonous cousin.

Thus, Remus confronted Wonos with the horrible news. Wonos was surprised by his friend's challenges, and he insisted on his innocence. But when Wonos pretended to know nothing, Remus grew even angrier that he would not be truthful." Dog growled his fiercest growl for a minute as Gerald told the story. "Remus growled again and rush forth to attack Wonos. Though he did not wish to fight his best friend, Wonos had to fight back, and a battle followed. In their youth, the two friends had had many play fights, but this time they were serious. The two fought bravely and shed blood with their strong claws and teeth of young adult wolves.

After a minute of fighting, Remus heard the sound of Jaka the bird laughing from nearby tree." Hawk cries out again briefly. "Strange that Jaka would care about a battle between wolves, Remus thought, but then he realized perhaps the bird had played a larger role in the course of events. As young cubs, Remus and Wonos and often played with Jaka, and perhaps the bird had spread lies about Wonos' treachery to get revenge upon the wolves. Remus stopped fighting and moved back momentarily. He called to Wonos that they perhaps they should talk more. Wonos saw the opportunity to jump Remus while he paused to use his mouth for talking rather than biting, but Wonos did not want to kill his friend so he merely ran away.

The odd confrontation had disgraced Wonos, and he continued running until he was far away. He knew that he could face neither Remus nor the pack without dishonour. And so he wandered alone for years and finished maturing away from the tribe. In his wanderings, Wonos met other friends and even found other wolf packs that accepted him for a while, but he missed his old life.

Remus, meanwhile, went to hunt Jaka the bird in vengeance, but the old bird was too smart for him. Jaka flew away to another nest from which he could annoy other wolves, and Remus never saw him again. Nala comforted Remus and forgave him for his actions. The two grew closer together, but deep in their hearts they never forgot Wonos.

Eventually, one of Wonos' new friends brought him news of his long-lost family. Wonos had wandered far from home when he met a wolf-that-was-not-a-wolf who traveled with him for a time. The wolf-that-was-not-a-wolf was of an unusual nature, and he used his prophetic powers to give Wonos a warning. A tribe of goblins planned to attack Remus' tribe. The goblins intended to capture the strong wolves to use as slaves and servants, and the remaining weaker wolves they would eat as food. The strange prophesy worried Wonos, but he saw in his friend's eyes that it was true. Wonos thanked his magical friend but then had to leave him, for he knew what he must do.

Wonos traveled far to return to save his tribe. He worried that he might be too late to save his friends, but he sighed in relief when he reached one of his pack on guard at the edge of their territory one evening. The guard growled when he saw Wonos, for he had heard that this was a treacherous wolf. To gain entrance to the area, Wonos told the guard wolf that he had come to throw himself at the mercy of Remus. The wolf merely snorted in reply but allowed Wonos to approach the old cave.

Wonos walked slowly towards Remus as he wondered what to say to him. He was sorry he had to lie to the guard, but he needed to secure entrance to pack to help them fight the coming goblins.

As Wonos approached the camp centre, he heard a loud cry coming forth from the outskirts of camp. The wolves looked at one another to ask about the strange noise, but Wonos knew what it must be. He yelled aloud to gather everyone's attention and warned them of the goblin attack. Remus and Nala were startled to recognize their old playmate, but they did not take time to welcome him. The three joined the others in coordinating the fight to protect the tribe. The wolves fought bravely that night and defeated many attackers. The goblins slew several wolves, but they were relying on surprise as their main weapon. Remus, Nala, and Wonos battled well against the invaders, and they drove the goblins away.

After the combat ended, the wolves gathered to lick their wounds and count their dead. As they wandered the scene, Wonos and Remus caught each other's eyes and stared at each other. Wonos started to turn and walk away but found that he could not. Both wolves suddenly howled a great cry-Dog starts to howl softly-that was at once an apology for times past, an acceptance of apology, and a declaration of friendship and love.

Nala joined in the cry, and soon the entire pack was howling in joy of a victorious battle and the return of a lost brother." Dog continued to howl, and Gerald joined in for a moment with a melodious yet feral cry of his own. Then they drew silent and Gerald concluded.

Forever after, the three wolves remained the best of friends. Wonos returned to the tribe and was soon respected as a strong adult. Remus and the others never learned whether Wonos had actually planned treachery those many years before, but they no longer cared. The three friends had many more adventures ahead of them. Remus eventually bested his father for rulership of the pack, and he took Nala as his mate, but that is another story."

At the conclusion of the story, Gerald draws his hands back under his cloak and he ceases his gestures. His words, though, continue, and his voice grows more serious.

"The old man told me many other stories in our evenings at the tavern. Some, like these, taught lessons, while others taught history and some merely provided entertainment. The stories brought me an appreciation for history and legends, they showed me the importance of tradition, and they built my character. Most of all, the old man and his tales convinced me to leave home and go on adventures of my own.

"Thus, when I was still relatively young, I ran away from my home and ventured into the wide world beyond. Through various means, I made my way to the city of Teft in Petethal. I had heard tales about the grand City of Adventure and hoped to find others there with whom I could depart on great adventures and gain experience in life. It was not long before I found a group that hoped to find a legendary magical artifact from the past. They allowed me to join them, and over the next years we had many good times together.

Eventually, I realized that time had come for me to leave my friends. It saddened me to part company with them, but their path was taking them away from where I felt my destiny lay. So I set out on my own and found other friends with whom to travel and have more wonderful adventures. Throughout all these travels, I recorded my experiences because I never forgot what the old man taught me about the importance of telling stories.

"Years later, after I had proven myself in this World, I met someone who explained the old man to me. As I had long suspected, the old man was probably a bard. I did not recall his name, nor do I know if he ever told it, so I could not confirm his status. Deep down, though, I know.

"The bard with whom I talked about the old man had other important things to tell me as well. He expressed an interest in my works and said that the bards welcomed me as one who is interested in preserving knowledge and exploring the world. While some seek information for selfish reasons or keep their learning to themselves, the bards respected my desire to enlighten others with my experiences. The bard and I shared stories and had much to learn one from another.

"Though I had good times with my new friend the bard, we eventually had to part company. But before we left, he shared a song reflects our common spirit." A musical note, followed by a chord, emanated from Gerald's person as he continued, "It is a song I feel reflects upon many modern adventurers to show the true traveling spirit. And thus my friend proceeded to sing me this song."

Gerald's cloak drew back far enough to reveal a lute underneath. As he played the introduction to the song, beautiful chords came forth from his instrument The captivating music nearly held the party members frozen in place until the words returned them to the scene at hand. Gerald's voice was similarly beautiful and drew the audience into the song.

'Up hill, through dale, and into vale
The traveler makes his way.
Through parts unknown he walks alone
Forever, day on day.

One day he set out from his home
To see the world so vast,
And now forever he must roam
Until this life is past

On roads and paths he makes his way
To where, he does not know.
Each place he sees he'd like to stay,
But onward he must go.

He goes without a map or guide,
Take path along its bend.
He walks along the trail so wide
Until he meets its end.

Past tree and trail he travels yet
Through forest, field, and fen.
Though many monsters he has met,
With bird and beast he's been.

Midway through the song, Gerald paused to stand. With his head upward and his back erect, his voice grew stronger and even more beautiful. The lute he played had nearly as much visual appeal as it did musical with its highly ornate design. The music echoed slightly in the chamber, and the elegant song continued:

By day he walks beside the streams,
But rests he in the night.
He builds a fire and then he dreams
And waits till morning light.

While traveling through so many towns,
He meets so many men.
Within a sea of friends he drowns,
But few he'll see again.

In foreign towns in foreign lands,
He hears some foreign words.
On foreign shores with foreign sands,
He sees some foreign birds.

The traveler has one goal in mind
Throughout his travels far:
To leave the very earth behind
And soar amongst the stars.

Up hill through dale, and into vale.
The traveler makes his way.
The world's his home, yet he must roam
Forever, day on day.'

At the conclusion of the song, Gerald continued to play out a variation of the melody on his lute, letting the song draw slowly to a close. At last, he drew his hood back and removed his cloak. As the cloak drops to the floor, the man you see does not match the appearance you typically associate with the voice you heard. The clothes underneath are not at all like Gerald's typical wardrobe. In contrast to the normal well-worn brown and green colours appropriate for camouflage in the woods, he now wears bright blue and yellow clothing. His appearance is more glamourous, and he moves with more grace than Gerald showed on most occasions. The intricate lute hangs at his side, and even the lute-sling that holds it to his body was of a noble quality.

On the chest of his tunic is a bold coat-of-arms. No one present, not even Nym and Henry the standard bearers, recognize the coat-of-arms, but its lack of bars and divisions shows that you are observing a direct descendant of the original bearer of the crest.

Not only the clothes but also the person looks different. He seems to be aged in his upper twenties, and is perhaps a few years older than Gerald appeared. His brown hair is lighter than Gerald's, though his green eyes bear some of the same emotion as Gerald's. His facial features are varied enough that he is noticeably more attractive than Gerald yet not entirely unlike him, either.

After turning to face and smile at each member of the Stone Soules, the man addresses the assembled group: "I apologize for having deceived you about my true identity these many months, and I feel that I owe you an explanation. If you knew that I was Gramaliustranstalus, you would have accepted me based on stories and my reputation. You might have come to expect more from me and rely too little on yourselves. However, as Gerald, you were able to accept me for who I am rather than who you've heard me to be. I did not want to reveal myself lest I take too large a role in an adventuring party that is not my own." His accent was also different than before, with the neutral speech of 'Gerald' replaced by a more cultured Dunadorian accent.

"If you carefully analyze my words and actions of the past months, you will find that I rarely lied to you but merely cautiously chose my deeds to mislead you. I again apologize if any of you feel betrayed by the secret, but I feel that it was in the best interest of all concerned.

"I have greatly enjoyed the experiences that we shared together, and I am grateful that you did finally accept me as an individual. But now the tide is turning, and it is time for me to depart from this group. I have to follow my own path as you must follow yours. I will offer to let any of you join me in my future travels, though I do not expect anyone to leave the wonderful family you have formed here.

"If you ever need to reach me, you can continue to send letters to my bardic mail box, and I will eventually receive them-though not as fast as when I was actually with you to get them the next day," he says with a smile. "We also need to resolve the matter of our business arrangement. I promised payment for research material supplied to Gram by the Stone Soules. If you have any further material for me, please do so as soon as you can collect it, and I will leave proper compensation with you. Please continue to do what research you can and forward it to me, and I will continue to pay you for services rendered. There is also, at your option, the matter of distributing my share of treasures earned. I will stake no claims but merely accept as much or as little as you wish to offer.

"Finally, there is the item that drew me here. I am here not merely of my own accord but under service to the King. I have known for some time of the existence of the magical bell that the party recovered from the ruins of the City of the Lightning's Call. I am prepared to make an offer to 15,000 gold pieces in payment for the device along with a promise of assistance should you ever need it."

David Chappell

Ask Not for the Bell
I think that the bell is probably out of the question, despite the fact that Gerald upped his offer to 15,000 gp. Most other details will have to come from PC's as they get the chance. Theo is not impressed and grumbles a bit. The major domo is impressed but strangley troubled.

The Bell is one of the hallmarks of the tower's defense. They really did not want to sell it. If Gram had hundreds of thousands, or lots of magic, he might get it, but that would be a rip off to him.


January 17, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Sphinx's End Game

Sphinx met us, told us he was moving south. Asked Snag to come with him to be his front-man, said he'd pay 10,000 gp to load his wagons and move him. We agreed Snag & Quick would leave and would get this money as their share. We also talked him into giving us good rates on a few questions-in particular, we asked him to tell us about the major forces in the city.

Then we decided to attack the pagoda (the one with the force field around it).

The gate was locked, and when Snag tried to break it down he took 46 hp of damage and six wounds-bad for one's health! So we came back the next day and Alegra dispelled it (well, one section), then Dahri used stone-shape to make a secret door leading through the wall. We went in and saw some cool gardens. Then we went to the front door where a talking doorknob told us we couldn't go in. Eli talked to it, with the admirable assistance of Ludo's and Alegra's acting skills, and got the three of them inside. There a robot butler showed them the sitting room but whenever he checked, the master wasn't available. They snuck upstairs and found some undead creature, which attacked them. Then they left. Next day we came back, and again the three of them talked their way past the doorknob (we must be the only party ever to out-talk a doorknob!) and got the whole party in. Once inside, we snuck around some; killed the undead creature; discovered a locked room with at least 7-10 physical/magical traps on the door (and another with about 4-5), found some cool magic stuff including a waterproof cloak which Dahri kept, a couple of other things I can't remember at the moment, and a high magic splotch on the carpet (which we didn't take).

We left, and held the hobgoblin wedding. Then a day-or-so later, Gerald announced that he was leaving. That was where we left it!

I think "standard Dunadorian tournament" is about right. I think the Wedding would have to be separate, tho'... with any `hobgoblin' events saved for a place slightly removed from the city.

January 16, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: To Do Battle with the Sphinx

The party made plans to attack the sphinx. They began making extensive plans, even contacting Duntill & Illic for assistance. There was much debate over attacking the sphinx, with Snag and Quick presenting the most resistance and Gerald and Alegra being uncertain. Most others agreed to kill him.

These plans turned out to be for naught when the sphinx approached the Stone Soules one day to address the party.

The sphinx revealed its vast mind reading powers and almost infinite other abilities, but he did not do anything to prove anything to anybody. He will chagrin his mistakes in vastly annoying the party, blaming it on a few thousand years away from lesser life forms. He announced that although he could easily crush them, one cannot expect to live a few thousand more years if he makes an enemy out of established society. There is no need to call on heavy hitters, he plans to move out. There is much more archealogical work to be done in other parts, and it is time to move to new work. Since his only real friends are Snag and Quick and there is much work to do in the Southern Waste, he would like to move with them.

He decidecd that it would be very difficult to move his vast possessions, and would like help to move them. He offered to pay the party a hefty sum to move his possessions to the highway and put them on a wagon. Then, he and his entourage will accompany the wagon at a distance through lands that might not welcome a sphinx, and move in near the hobgoblins, "Who he feels he can trust". He will want to leave money with the party to mail him reports about the city and events there.

When the sphinx made its announcement, Gerald listened and paid attention respectfully. At some appropriate point, Gerald briefly whistled a single note at a moderately low volume in a feable attempt to subtly gain the sphinx's attention. He then concetrated and tried to "broadcast" thoughts to the sphinx in expectation of it being able to hear his thoughts. However, the sphinx gave no response.

The sphinx, mind powers or not, is an egotistical jerk, and unlikely to share his knowledge with worms like yourself. You are still a much inferior life form even if he cannot fight a civilization of you.

It was obvious to Gerald that the Sphinx is overpaying the party vastly and, will not actually be as kind as above, but the sweetness of the deal was obvious to anyone without homicidal intentions.

The sphinx was violently against any magical transport other than his own, and his possessions defy easy transport that way.

January 15, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: After the Crushing Defeat of the Trolls

After my attempt to bury the poor bones lost to the troll shaman's evil lusts turned out to be unsuccessful (their souls were lost, used by some foul god as building material and I could not save even one), we packed up and headed to Middle. We soon discovered that Eli's clean spell had somehow managed to transport all of the sewage we cleaned off from the trolls' lair, to the Sphinx's library. Ceydric informed us of this (he wasn't in a good mood, mind you) and said that he had had to pay the Sphinx in cows for his stonegoyles. I hear that the townspeople were (rightfully so) not too excited about this either. The Church needed some work, and I concentrated on that for awhile. The keeper of the Church, Star, Aria, and I all worked at some sort of a midsummers welcoming celebration, to try to draw people of all sorts into visiting. Star also began some work on composing a poem about Gerald getting his sword. In a few months, he will unveil it.

While all this was going on, Canstin and Cassana trained. Dari collected mistletoe on Midsummer's day, and Theo and several others were there at that occasion. We had our small get-together at the same time and several people did visit.

Eli got some information on the paraelemental ooze monsters. Firstly, the change spell he used on them somehow caused them to explode, so he took some information for researching to the Alchemist in town. It is called "Vitrioliquid" and is clerically created from acid, swamp water, and graveyard dirt, with the aid of at least a quest and animate object spell. It explodes when in contact with elemental earth, but not with mineral or glass.

The party was getting restless, and Cassana and Canstin returned. We decided to head out. First, we reviewed the Jack of Clubs translated diary of the city. This is what they had to say.

The diary comes halfway in in a plan to steal the treasure of the Behir. The party is made up of mostly stealthy people, and mostly humans. They describe the "Caverns" with killer mushrooms, leeches, lizards, etc. They give directions involving a "broken" aquaduct and a narrow path across a chasm. On their way, the lead meber is killed instantly by some sort of "death field." They plan to come back with dispel magicks. One memebr was "carrying the boat." At the end, they lift the boat out of the channel and are very quiet to avoid the Sphinx from noticing that they came that way. They were also paranoid about crossing the bridge. Other strange things were that they were carrying two poison gas containers for killing the kobolds "when they reached them," though they hoped to avoid them. They also had some sort of deal with the Fire Giants that involved paying them money. When they left, there were voices of dissent to return to the Temples with magic, but then they just said that they were going to complete their next adventure. All of the passages seem to be retrospective.

At Tan-El, we decided to explore a few buildings near the log, because the Behir was in the city. He somehow projected his sound like he was outside the city, when we tried to leave, though. When Jeremy was sent out to scout, though, we knew the truth. We then left, and Jeremy scouted some more, but returned late. All of his feathers were gone, and he had walked back.

The next day, Canstin, Dari, Cassana to check for Behir leaving the city. The Sphinx demands reparations or we won't be allowed to scout the city any longer, because of our unwillingness to own up to our "clean" mistake. That was why he did that to Jeremy. We went to Middle to discuss options and to get any money for the Sphinx. We healed Jeremy (he had a wound).

We paid the Sphinx and he told us that clean sends dirt to the nearest rug (underneath it) and that he had the nearest one. Argh! What a strange spell. We explored and the scouters report, no Behir in the city.

We checked out the hexagonal area, though we stopped at the temple of the god of justice (Kor) and war (Kord) on the way. The temples were largely intact, nothing of too much excitement. At Kord's temple, there was a large red-cloaked man with a two-handed sword (a translucent illusion). "Death is open 24 hours," but then again I knew that from Teft!

A university like building with the first and last runic characters on it, along with lots of other runes. Nearby to the temples. Inside, there were mirror duplicates of ourselves. If our stuff touched their reciprocal item, they exploded with a fizz that didn't seem to destroy anything. There was also confusing tricks with Eli casting spells, etc. but I was outside, not wanting to face a double, and did not have exact experience myself. Star assured me that they seemed real enough to him (but of course, Star is sometimes very whimsical). We finally left, frstrated. Perhaps Eli would be better at explaining exactly what happened.

At the hexagonal area, we found the library locked and trapped when Dari tried to pick it. A face pressed against the opaque glass. Who was it? We do not know. Star tried with his keen eye-sight to spot the face again, but to him it seemed that the windows bent such that probably not even magic could penetrate them very far (but he said to ask Eli about that)! Indeed, they were endowed with magical electrical properties when we threw a small pebble at the window. There was a service entrance to the back, as well. We left, hopeful that tomorrow we could be better prepared.

We explored a munical building, but all it had were spiders. We left, there was naught we felt like exploring; it was getting shadowy by now, anyway. As we were leaving, Theo reported ghouls trailing us in the shadows. Eli turned a lightning bolted them. The surviving ones ran before I could even try ot turn them. They would have met a horrible fate if I had had enough time to destroy each one.

We walked to base camp, and set about our nightly duties.

--Alegra Falconer, June 28th, 2173


January 14, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Den of Trolls

Well, I guess that it's Snag's turn to write an adventure description. The title of this one will just have to be:

DEN OF TROLLS, PART 1: The Great Battle

(As recounted by Snaggle-Tooth the Hobgoblin.)

We all knew that the stone soules were running low on funds. We had little cash left and several party members ready for training. Furthermore, the Barony is still far from self-sufficient, and in a month or two we would be unable to meet payroll, even if we spent nothing on training. So the Stone Soules met in our war room to plan our next expedition.

There were many suggestions of where to go and what to do, but it was Gerald's pointing out that Trolls are known to collect treasure that finally won us over. There was a great deal of discussion of how exactly to attack the trolls. We considered simply pouring some of the vitrioli into the cave -- the little para-elementals seek out living creatures and then explode in a burst of acid and fire -- making them the bane of trolls.

But we decided that there wasn't any need to go to such lengths -- we were certainly capable of taking out a trolls by more conventional methods. We decided that both Eli and Dahri would attack using lightning: Eli thought that if the trolls could be caught in the narrow canyon approaching their cave then he would be able to manipulate his "pool-ball" lightning bolt so as to hit all of them; hopefully multiple times. Dahri's druidic spell required the presence of clouds from which to summon the lightning, but the weather is frequently rainy in these parts (sometimes, when it rains for days, I *almost* envy the naked races their lack of fur), so we were confident this would at worst cause a slight delay. We loaded up M.U.L.E. (that's Mighty Ugly Lugging Engine, my pack mule) with some 30 pints of oil, and set off.

Not wishing to leave the Barony unguarded, Cedric stayed behind. However, everyone else in the Stone Soules came. We arrived in the vicinity of the troll caves without incident about 2 days later to bright, sunny weather.
We moved a few hours off and settled in to wait for bad weather. Dahri sent Jeremy (her crow) to scout the area and keep an eye out for trolls, and we all relaxed for a few days enjoying the weather. Then Alegra, after communing with Phalcon, told us to expect a thunder-storm in the afternoon, so we packed up and headed up to
the trolls' lair.

We arrived and set up quickly. Dahri began casting her spell, while everyone else moved into position. Alegra cast an "aid" spell on me, since I was to be the bait for our trap. Then Alegra, Constance, and I entered the canyon. I poured a few pints of oil over the area where Eli's lightning bolt was supposed to strike, then tried to attract the trolls' attention. When shouted challenges didn't draw them out, I gritted my teeth and approached the cave. Finally I got close enough for the trolls to attack -- one moment I saw nothing, and the next moment they were ripping me to pieces!

As planned, I took off from the mouth of the cave, running at full speed.

While this magical banded mail I've been wearing may be a little tougher than my old suit, I maintain that its best feature is that of permitting me to run away at full speed -- a manuver that (unlike Cedric, Faranin, and the other cavalers) I have no objection to performing; especially since I always return later for the kill.

Unfortunately, the trolls were still faster than me, and I took quite a beating as I made my way back along the canyon. Constance managed to land a few well-placed arrows in the troll that was harrying me, but he (or she?) didn't seem to care. And behind him streamed another, then another, then another, until 5 trolls were hurtling down the path. Alegra then cast a wyvren watch over the cave mouth in case any more came after -- and only moments later a sixth troll burst out of the cave, only to be frozen in place by her spell. But all of this I only learned later -- for the moment I was concentrating on nothing more than running away as quickly as by boots could carry me.

I came barreling out of the canyon and ducked to the side just as Eli let loose with his lightning bolt. He timed it perfectly, catching all of the trolls once through, and then hitting them all a SECOND time on the rebound! Unfortunately, the trolls resisted his magic almost completely -- had they not, he assures me, they could never have stood as long as they did in the ensuing fight. One appeared badly hurt, and another mildly so, but the rest mostly shrugged it off.

But as they emerged from the canyon, the trolls faced a gruesome sight: In a circle around the exit were arrayed Gerald, Theo, QuickClaw, Casanna, Claud (yes, he did his share against the hated enemies of the dwarves, although his prime duty was that of guarding Eli), Pap, and Faranin. Behind them, our second row, all armed with bow or lit oil flasks, and ready to attack. The first to act was Dahri -- as the trolls emerged in a tight bunch, she summoned down *another* bolt of lightning, which enveloped four of the five beasts.

Again, however, luck was not with us. Perhaps we didn't wait for the clouds to build up enough -- whatever the reason, the bolt she summoned was a fairly small one. Although it still managed to inflict some damage on the trolls, it came nowhere close to her expectations.

The battle that followed was a lush one. Although they dealt some grevious blows, the trolls never managed to break our circle of death. It was our tactical position, and the fact that we have trained to fight well together that enabled us to gain the victory. When, to cite one example, Pap sustained a blow which surely must have been mortal, he merely stepped back -- allowing those next to him to close ranks around him -- and swallowed the handful of Good-Berries that Dahri doled out. This is but one example of the perfectly timed actions of our clerical support -- there were many others. And as soon as we would bring down a troll, Eli would apply his burning-hands spell, or Ludo would apply flaming oil to ensure that the creature didn't recover and return to the battle.

While a blow-by-blow rendition of that battle would make wonderful reading (and be instructive as well), this is not the place for it. Suffice to say, that when the 5 trolls had all been brought down (but NOT yet all burned!) we had been decimated. No lives had been lost yet, but all of our main fighters (except -- by pure luck -- Gerald) were badly wounded.

But Alegra warned us that there was little time remaining -- within moments, the spell of paralysis which held the sixth troll would fade away.

So I headed up the canyon, followed by Ludo, with a stock of oil flasks, and by Star, who began a healing spell as soon as he got there. I was able to get in but a single blow before the troll shook free of the paralysis and attacked! I tried to hold him off while Ludo pelted him with flaming oil, but the wind in the canyon gusted terribly, and Ludo's flasks kept flying wide of their mark. Finally, with the troll overbearing me, I made a tactical mistake which I now regret: knowing that I couldn't possibly survive another round of blows, I stepped back behind Ludo, to let him absorb one of the troll's attack routines. What I didn't count on was that the troll would fell Ludo in a single blow. Leaping over him, I continued the attack (and with others' help, managed to destroy the fiend), but only the immediate and desperate intervention of Star and Alegra saved Ludo from dying immediately. Please accept my apologies, my short, agile friend.

When all six trolls had finally been dispatched -- and permanently -- we quickly began gathering a party to decend into the cave itself. While we (rightly!) feared this might be dangerous, we felt that we needed to press our advantage while we held it. We had no desire for any treasure to be looted or born off through some bolt-hole or back entrance, nor did we wish any other trolls to attack us in the night time, when they are at their strongest. So we entered the cave: and that adventure is recounted in "Part 2: Into the Troll Den".

DEN OF TROLLS, PART 2: Into the Troll Den

(As recounted by Snaggle-Tooth the Hobgoblin.)

Sorry that I took so long in getting this written, but I got distracted by more important matters. I'd been helping one of the new farmers lay in the foundation for the house he was building -- after all, we ARE trying to make Middle an immigrant-friendly town -- and writing up these records in the evenings. But then Quick reminded me that I'd been neglecting our practice and training sessions, so we spent most of the next three days out on the practice field. After our recent experiences, we wanted to do some practice with flaming oil -- by the way, the stuff is NASTY when it hits you! But this afternoon we left off practice and went out to Dahri's grove to help her reposition some logs and boulders, so this evening I have a little free time to continue the account.

We had just defeated all six trolls -- more than that, we had burned all that was left of them. We had no casualties, but the toll of wounded was great. Faranin, Theo, and myself -- our usual "frount-row" fighters -- were all severely wounded. Gerald, fortunately, was not, and he bravely agreed to guard the rear of the party. Aside from him, the warrior in best shape was actually QuickClaw! Claude -- being so short that he was almost impossible for the trolls to hit -- was assigned to lead the way, and Quick followed him. After her came Faranin, then the rest of our group: Dahri, Khanstin, Alegra, Eli, Casanna, myself, Theo, and Gerald. (I THINK that was it -- there may have been others though: traveling single-file through rough rock passages doesn't give one much opportunity to see one's companions.) The others remained outside; Faranin's men standing on guard, while the rest tended each other's wounds. We took all of the remaining eleven flasks of oil in with us.

We stooped to enter the cave and proceeded single file to a small chamber with several passages leading off it. As we continued through the tunnels we encountered many more such splits in the path -- I won't try to recount them all perfectly since Eli made a rudimentary map of the place. We began exploring, quickly finding ourselves in a dead end, and a nasty one at that. It was filled with a strange glop consisting of rotting flesh, raw sewage, and other more-unpleasant unmentionables. The stench was overpowering!

We found a few more dead ends of this sort, all filled with the troll's putrid wastes. Then we discovered a passage which seemed to lead someplace. Suddenly, Claude called a halt: there was a large pit in the floor ahead. The pit was about 15 feet deep, and some 20 feet wide -- just perfect for a troll to cross with a single long step. The bottom was covered in twisted scraps of metal (contaminated with deadly troll excrement I am sure), to ensure the slow, painful death of any who fell into it. Quick, having been practicing lately at climbing while armor-clad, took one end of a rope and proceeded across. Bracing herself against the wall, she held the rope taut so Claude could cross. It was while she was braced here, holding Claude above the deadly pit, that the cowardly troll attacked her.

Never losing her courage, Quick bravely maintained her grip on the rope to keep Claud from falling. The troll took advantage of this to rip two horrible gashes into her back and upper arm. The blows probably should have killed her, but Quick fought through the pain to maintain consciousness. She held the rope until Claude was across, then quickly climbed down into the pit.

I will admit that at first I was as puzzled as anyone else -- how could she leave Claude on the far side of the pit to face the troll alone? But her plan quickly became obvious. Claude began a defensive fight -- swinging again and again with blows that almost (but not quite) hit the troll; trying to hold the beast off. Meanwhile, Quick ran to the other end of the pit and literally hoisted Faranin down; then ran back and hefted him up on the other side to join the battle with the troll. As Khanstan loaded oil into the bulbs of his humming-bulb arrows and shot the flaming things into the troll from this side of the pit, Quick began ferrying people across to the far side. Eventually the troll was brought down, and Dahri lit her scimitar into flame with a spell, and used it to dispatch the troll's remains forever.

We continued onward. As both Quick and Claude had been severely wounded, Faranin led the way, with Theo behind him. We moved forward some distance, then came to a fairly large room strewn with rubbish. Faranin called for us to stop, and he looked about -- shortly spying what he was looking for: a tiny troll-ling (probably a young troll, or perhaps a cutting from a larger one). He moved forward and quickly three of the small things swarmed him. Theo moved in with his short sword, Faranin continued to hack at them, and Khanstan fired arrows at the beasts, but they were devilishly hard to hit while swarming Faranin. I nearly slashed Faranin himself while trying to scrape one off of him. Finally we stepped aside and Eli used another burning-hands spell (he had already cast several today). Faranin turned so that the scrabbling troll was towards Eli and he stepped into the flame. He remained in the flame only moments (although in his condition, and with the strength of Eli's flame spell, moments was enough to bring him to the verge of death!), and the ones still clinging to him dropped off.
Eli manuvered so as to encompase two of the trolls in the flame at once, and he managed to burn them away just as his spell sputtered and died out. Durring the battles, we had used several vials of oil and had only about 4 remaining, so every last spurt of troll-slaying flame was becomming vital.

Once again, we regrouped, with Theo in front, myself behind him, followed by Khanstan. Gerald still guarded the rear of our party, although most of the people next to him were too wounded to assist him much, were danger to come from that direction. Nor could Alegra be of much assistance: she was jealously conserving her few remaining healing magics for those whose wounds were such as to be immediately mortal. Onward we pressed. Eli was rapidly becomming the most battle-ready warrior in our group!

Just past the room with the tiny trolls, a passage ended in a mid-sized chamber; as we peered in, one MORE troll attacked. Weary, wounded, but still game, we pressed the attack. As I attacked from the side, I managed to bend yet ANOTHER scimitar as well as drop my dagger. Clearly, I was in no shape to be fighting -- but then again, neither were any of the rest of us! Dahri leant me her scimitar, and I continued to press the troll.
Khanstan fired the last of his flaming arrows, and we pressed the attack, but the troll still wouldn't go down. In shock, we realized that it seemed to be resistant to our flames -- resistant, that is, even compared to a normal troll. When we finally beat the creature down we wanted to conserve the last two flasks of oil and Eli's last spell, so we burned the creature with our torches, while keeping it down with our weapons. Eli used his staff to remove the troll's necklace, and that seemed to help -- eventually we burned the thing.

Searching the room we found what looked like an altar block. It was discovered that it was movable, so we shoved it aside. Below was a shallow pit filled with human and demi-human skulls. Dilligent searching revealed nothing else. Grumbling to each other ("Why was it that we came here again... treasure?"), we turned back: this was a dead end.

Actually, by this time we had explored the entire cave, with the solitary exception of the small shaft near the entrance which lead straight downwards. Returning to the entrance, we debated whether to check down it or not. None of us were in any shape to encounter another troll, but neither did we want our entire expedition into the cave to come to nought because we turned aside at the final moment. I offered to be lowered into the hole on a rope (Ludo was unavailable), but Eli overrulled me with a better suggestion: the vitrioli. He had brought a few tiny vials of the stuff with him -- not more than a few drops taken all together. But the substance was ideal for destroying trolls, and using it didn't risk any of us. Furthermore, in his experiments he had learned how to control the demi-elemental star-creatures somewhat: he knew they were attracted to light and movement, and that they sought out the nearest living thing before exploding in a burst of fire and acid.

So we returned to the entrance, extinguished all of our lights, and Eli dribbled a drop or two down to the base of the shaft. Moments later, there was a popping sound followed by a horrendous roaring scream from a troll below. As Eli pulled out his light bead we could see the form of a HUGE troll -- one-and-a-half to two times the size of a large normal troll -- climbing rapidly up the shaft! Eli poured more of the vitrioli onto the troll, but the material was ineffective until it landed on the surface below, and the small star-creatures were unable to climb up after the troll. As the enormous beast sped upwards, I hurriedly got out the remaining 2 vials of oil while someone lit a torch; I threw the flaming oil down on the troll just as he crested the top. One vial burned him some (he seemed resistant just like last one), but the other clattered down to the base of the shaft where it set off several of the star-creatures, who exploded harmlessly.

Gerald and Theo were waiting, swords in hand, as the troll crested the pit. Eli prepared his final burning-hands, and Khanstan readied his bow in the awkward confines of the narrow corridor. I got ready to provide cover for Eli when his spell finished. The fight was fierce, but brief. The troll downed Theo in a single, horrible blow -- the extremely severe wound he recieved would have surely killed him right then and there had not Allegra immediately applied all of her remaining spells to him. But weak though we were, we could still inflict damage, and Eli was able to flame the creature to maximum possible effect; finally we knocked the beast back down the pit.

Short moments later, it would have regenerated the damage and would have climbed up to dismember those of us still standing, had Eli not quickly poured the rest of the remaining vitrioli down on the ground next to him.
The star creatures gladly threw themselves on the brute, and their explosions killed him permanently.

Worn, torn, battered, and beaten, we now retreated from the cave. By this point, a single troll could have decimated half of the party before the rest of us fled on horses; two of them could have slaughtered us all. We retreated into the bend in the canyon -- here a few could hope to hold off attackers while the rest of the party fled to safety. Faranin's men guarded the horses and the entrance to the canyon, while Gerald and I stood guarding against any threat from the cave itself. Everyone else slept -- huddling under tarps we set up to ward off the rain. After a few hours, Alegra awoke, and cast healing spells on the worst-injured of the party; then she returned to sleep until a second round of healing could be done.

After the second nap, we decided to brave the cave again. Gerald was exhausted, and dropped off to sleep, but, loath to abandon the quest at this point, I joined the crew that returned to the cave. Quick volunteered to be the first to climb down the pit (Ludo was still unavailable) while Theo and Khanstan held a rope. When she reached the bottom she saw a sparkling shape darting towards her. She scrabbled up the wall, and the people above hauled her out of harm's way just as the small star-creature reached the place she had been standing. We exploded it with an arrow, then Dahri dropped a light bead to attract any others (as it turned out, that was the last one). Repeating the manuver, she climbed down, finding herself waist-deep in troll muck! We all followed her, with the shorter demi-humans being carried on the shoulders of the taller people.

The room opened up into a large chamber, with lots and lots of small side passages (and a single larger one). We checked all of them -- nothing but more troll muck. Finally, Eli plucked up his courage and probed one of the muck-blocked passages with his quarterstaff -- sure enough, he turned up a gold piece.

So we spent two EXTREMELY unpleasant days digging through the muck of the troll cave. Although he refused to help scrape through the muck, Eli managed to earn his worth by casting a vast number of cleaning spells in several shift a day, so that we had a chance to escape from the worst of the grime and stench when on our off shifts. And what we found was incredible. When taken all together, there was around 10,000 gold pieces worth of coinage of every type, style, and minting. There were also several items which turned out to be magical: a ring (later shown to be a ring of protection), yet ANOTHER magical morning star (+1/+2 vs ogres), a belt of metal boxes which held more than they should have been able to and without gaining any weight at all, a magic small shield which turned out to be a shield +3!, and, best of all, magical bracers of protection.

So we returned triumphant, having disposed of the trolls as well as having solved the fiscal crisis in Middle. In fact, with some of the money we recovered, we paid off the last of the remaining debt to Cedric & Faranin's family.

Snag - Michael Chermside

January 13, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Bugbears, Vines, & Mites, Oh My!

[Much of the action begins April 5th, 2173]

From before April 5th, Eli gets a henchman named Claude, a dwarven bodyguard. Though a bit fauning and certainly a neat and orderly person, he seems nice enough. Also, there was a "kickin'" birthday party on the 1st for the whole town of Middle. Star revealed his poem about the original demonspawn encounter; it is fifteen pages long and his best yet!

The Daring "Dozen" lost three members to the Sphinx in the GOC, because they tried to run without paying his extortion money. They were "dissolved" into nothingness or at the very best some kind of slime. The ones eliminated were the ones carrying the treasure the Sphinx wanted. They had not agreed on a new name, but did seem pretty shaken. I think that they decided to avoid the city as much as they could thereafter. They also paid taxes for what they recovered. Fifteen days later, they paid more taxes from a point beyond the city.

On the 15th of May, we headed to the GOC ourselves but decided to discover whether the transporter room went elsewhere if the magnet was turned around. Also, whether from the other side, when reversing the magnet, brought us to the same place or a different place was a question. From inside the first transporter room, reversing the magnet brought us to a place just like it.

The Sphinx's gargoyle-type creatures attacked us. They can meld into stone, unlike real gargoyles, so what they are escapes us. Something nastier apparently. They attacked Snag and we barely managed to escape safely. He was greviously wounded. The second question was answered easily enough. It leads to the same place. The gargoyle-type creatures, the stonegoyles, did not follow but licked up Snag's blood off of the ground. Needless to say, staying was not an idea we treasured.

We decided next to check out the castle, though I must admit that its proximity to the beithir did cause me some small amount of fear. But Phaulkon's hand is holding us all gently in his protection. As a result of this uneasiness, though, we did send out a couple of scouts (Canstin, Dari, Cassana) to determine whether the beithir was in the city. Cassana said that he was. We in the end decided to explore the castle anyway, but not the rest of the city until the beithir is gone. The scouts encountered giant ants along the way, but Dari ordered them away.

In the castle courtyard, our first scouting mission with Snag revealed a large carnivorous or otherwise hostile and mobile vine-plant. Eli told us a story about the Bards destroying one by starving it for three years and then burning it; it apparently was bred at a Bardic School but the experiment failed. This one was much smaller but still very nasty.

A combination of Dari's entangle spell and Eli's burning hands, along with other helping hands from the whole group allowed us to kill it in just over a day.

We found a door into the castle, but there were dungeon mites (fast mites) there. They stole Faranyn's magnet and tried to get Ludo's before we could get back to the gate where stood Aria and Gerald. Gerald was keeping it open but guarding it so we could get back. Eli's comprehend languages spell allowed us to stop several attempts on Ludo, but the final one Eli caught the words a little too late. They knocked part of the battlement-wall above the door down. All they said was "wedge." They got away with the magnet, but we managed to stop them and get it back and inside. During the interlude, they managed to steal Star's Holy Symbol, as they seem attracted to magic items. They will have to pay for that transgression, however! We must recover that Symbol.

--ended 16th May, 2173

(Snag: "You never know with carnivorous vines.")
[also note: letter to Gram was mailed by Alegra in Teft]

Alegra Falconer

January 12, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: A Trip to Teft

Good and bad is pretty much the general concept here. This is LONG.

Okay, by the time we all got settled in last night (about 7:30) we didn't really know what we wanted to do besides train some party members.

Because of all the magic supplies and texts Eli recovered he had enough to be trained to his next level (as was seven other party members). Eli had been promised training and a spell when he was capable of learning it so he was at the top of the list in order and actually expense. There were several people that were very easy to train; Tesla was trained by Ceydric and Quick by Theo for the two cheapest and Ludo and Canstin ranked second and third respectively (I don't list Alegra because we need to train other people to second and third before anyone to Alegra's much higher level). In turns out, to avoid bankrupting the barony, that we only had money to train Eli and the two easy people so Alegra and Eli set off for Teft and Poseidinus respectively. They traveled in the same caravan, accompanied by 20 guards and a merchant, through the wonderful weather of winter in Petethal. The party back at Middle had its own excitement but I will talk about the uneventful caravan trip first.

Usually the trips to Teft were uneventful or, at the least, boring due to encounters with only bugbears or the like but this was to be remembered by Alegra forever. In his life, Eli had been saved by many things, his skills, his intelligence, his good looks (the proper modesty due Eli) but more than any of these, Sleep on the Go always manages to come to his mind as something he hopes to never do without. Edwin, of course, let me roll the die to see if I awoke to the noise in the middle of the night and fortunately I did, for Alegra had failed one roll which made it very important for mine to succeed.

Eli awakes to the light of the fire but instead of the occasional phantom sound that wakes up the tired adventurer this was serious. The guards Eli hoped were protecting him were in the process of being consumed by Ghouls, two to three were still alive fighting with torches and a spear with their backs to the campfire; the camp had been attacked by a pack of ghouls! Quickly checking the situation in his own tent Eli saw Alegra paralyzed and being devoured by one ghoul while the merchant was being eaten by two. His only chance was to get help because alone Eli was no match for these dead, it was Alegra's work! Running out of the tent, Eli caught the attention of one of the ghouls in the tent (unfortunately not the one eating Alegra) and it started to chase him. Eli moves fast (15") so the ghoul would never catch him, but where would he run to?

Teft 5-7 days away, or perhaps the border guard only a day and half away? Taking perhaps the only option, Eli grabbed the bone scroll tube from his pack and took out a spell which would delay his demise. The scroll was too difficult, symbols and references Eli had not seen before so his attempt failed, options were running out. Now that his lead on the ghoul was gone he ran again, calling for one of the guards to give in to a spell he was going to cast on them. After several segments of discussion the guard gave in (perhaps it was his remaining comrade felled by the ghouls that changed his mind) and Eli tried one of the other spells on the scroll. When he finished reading it the Guard transformed into an owlbear which immediately started to destroy everything near it. Eli wanted a wrecking machine and he got it. The owlbear killed two ghouls and the last guard within the first two segments and then proceeded to attack whatever was closest.

Trying to lead the owlbear across the tent Alegra was in, Eli continually ran a chord between him, the tent, and the owlbear. Eventually the owlbear had no other targets besides Eli so it thrashed into the tent and uncovered three more ghouls, one was dead in seconds from its massive paws. The other two attacked the owlbear and in an amazing feat, managed to paralyze it after several attempts. The owlbear was a very large meal so Eli grabbed the party's stuff, a horse, a cart, and Alegra's bits and started off towards the border. The ghouls were after him in seconds but a wall of iron lasts as a permanent reminder of their chase and Eli's fortune. In Four Corners Alegra was raised and then another caravan brought us to our destination; Alegra was late to her high holy day but she was alive again so I am sure Phaulkon will understand. Eli returned to Wicker and trained and learned two new spells. He lets everyone know that he learned Lightning Bolt with the party's money, as per his original intentions.

Back in Middle, training was finished and the party decided to do some scouting and mapping of the nearby terrain. After several days wandering beyond the ridge and near a mountain range, the party found what turned out to be a Troll cave, complete with the standard troll group of at least 5. Without Alegra and Eli the party decided to finish them another day and explored elsewhere. A couple days after returning to Middle, the party minus Alegra and Eli encountered a dilemma in policy. It turns out an adventuring group, the Daring Dozen, was slaughtering bugbears in the Great old City and then returning with their cash. The bugbears were outraged so they decided to burn down one of Middle's farmhouses as a warning of what is to come at the Dozen's persistence. We caught them in the act and killed several of the advance party but the war group disappeared and were not followed. Eventually we caught up with them at the ridge and Ceydric relayed a message to their leader that we would speak with the Dozen concerning their slaughtering of bugbear farmers but that hostile action against Middle would result in war with Middle. The bugbears left and party must now decide what to do.

Zack Hubert

January 11, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Notes on Tan-El Adventures

The city is recorded as the City of the Lightning's Call in records and is discussed very briefly as a northern city of great wealth and physical ease. The city was a sort of strange separatist place and seemed to discourage contact with the outside world.

The object that is designed to fall apart looks like a grenade. They have been used with green slime in the past.
Most of th ebooks are valueless, three are magical research texts, the only books of interest are Gertov's Guide to Setient Thought (45 volumes, similar to Blackmov's, approx value 3,000 gp): a definitive psychology text.
The bookshelves that retard flame are a standard magic item of great value to scholars and wizards. Worth 2,000-5,000 gp each depending on the buyer.

The Bell
We basically know just about everything concerning the bell. When something breaks the plane of the bell, it starts to ring; this sets the bell on active mode and summons an invisible creature that waits until you disturb something and then it hits you on the head for about 15-24 points of damage. The creature will continue to attack until you break the plane of the door. It will follow after you if you are carrying the command bar (a metal magnet-like bar that fits underneath the bell to deactivate it).

The party seems to have no intent to sell the bell unless they get big cash for it, and even then, some want to keep it for the castle since they know how to control it. You would have great difficulty getting it unless Alegra or Eli agreed to help you get steal it... If you want to buy it, you better have a pretty good offer.

We found a bottle that was right next to the grenade and was filled with a para-elemental explosive apparently used during some war or other in history. It is currently illegal as a use in war, and we are pretty certain the grenade is filled with the same explosive.

January 10, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: After the Defeat of the Lesser Ones at the Barnaire Theatre

[The adventure this past weekend went as follows (beginning Oct. 24th 2172)]

We travelled back to the transporter in Tan-El (The Greate Olde City as we now know it), specifically in the "Tan-El Constable Dispatch." We moved through the section of wall upwards until we reached the bedroom of what we conjecture must be Brogarra, the most snake-like of the 'Spawn. Over some time we discovered that both Silence and Dispel Magic would _sometimes_ stop the bell, though it would restart when one broke the plane of the doorway. There was a construct of hooks below and around the bell though that suggested there was some item of slightly greater than magnet-size that would in all likelihood stop the bell until reactivated. Through some experimentation (and some damage to Snag and others, unfortunately) we located the item on the bookshelf that would release the bell but the invisible creature tried to recover it. Luckily, Eli's clever use of a spell [the contraband Forget] sent it back into the room and we quickly left the city with it.

When we returned we could take anything we wanted from the room with no hastle, since all the other traps had been removed. We loaded the fire-retardant bookshelves, warm/clean cushions, perpetually clean rug, and books ("Subconscious repurcutions of pyromancy," "Improve yourself through cloning," and "Gertov's Psychology" to name a few) and headed out. The Sphinx, annoying guy that he is, (as we expected) stopped us on the way out. He wanted one of the bookshelves "and he wasn't leaving without it." Eventually, I bargained him into giving us about 1750 g.p. in information and about 1000 g.p.

The information is as follows:

About golems and automata, the residents of Tan-El didn't know much but they were ambitious AND lazy. The first were governmental, but then everybody wanted them (wood at first, too). Residents of Estwurl helped them with magic knowledge of elemental forces [Side note: Eli's specialty]. In the end, the golems failed more and more often as menial jobs were replaced by golems. Some still run today under and around the city. 1 institution, the chief research establishment, was allowed to build a fighting machine (the Clockwork Monster that protected me from the Behir) as an experiment. Also: Should not speak name of Behir, because he can hear it if he is in Tan-El.

Information from the sage in End is as follows: Tan-El predates End ruins by several? thousand years and it was a human civilization with a fascination for electricity and magnetism (what exactly is that?). Eventually they became unstable and caused lightning elementals to be released in the streets and the ultimate destruction of the civilization, which brought the Behir, named Rosaroc. The Tan-El people were separatists from an empire to the north, which it was somehow connected to through the mountain, to a city of gold and jewels, stories verified by a Giant Eagle (a true message from Phaulkon!). 4-5 adventuring reserve parties and some specialist wizards perished here (before New World really settled) fighting Rosaroc (3000+ years old) who was considered dangerous when it moved to Tan-El. Rosaroc travels more and more these days and never interferes with nearby civilization. SMART did some research but neither interfered with the Sphinx nor the Behir. They were driven out by Demon Worshippers.

[Note that this info. about the Behir "coming to Tan-El" is blatantly wrong and is later disproven. Read on for more information, especially on the fourth page of log summaries. --Kyle]

The rest of the haul of treasure included a bottle containing a paraelemental ooze monster that Eli is doing research on (is this right? but the sage says they are probably neutral--). We thought it was a vampire bottle at first! Another bottle we have is of a similar vein, but smaller, and appears to have been designed to fall apart. We will have to keep an eye on this one and keep it far away from people!. We also recoved the bell, using Dari's Stone Shape spell. Other things include skulls (yuck!), some tokens, and more books.

Soon I will be travelling to pick up Star in Teft and leaving Aria here with our fellow Churchman for the Lanthalassa-té celebration (or perhaps take her home to train? but leaving our Brother alone on the High Holy Day is not my wish either! I must seek Phaulkon's will on this one). A letter to Gram is also in order as soon as we settle down for a moment, as well.

---Ended November 10, 2172

Alegra Falconer

January 09, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Cleanup

Our wonderous heroes last left off sorting treasure and arguing with fire giants, so needless to say, there was lots of clean up we had to do. We dispelled another huge batch of snakes because we couldn't transport them like snakes (they would die and radically turn back into humans causing a big problem). So Alegra cast another large-scale dispel magic. The effects of this one were a mixed bag according to some, but I count it as a drastic failure. About a segment or two after Alegra's spell went off, we saw a flash of blue light and smelled some sort of gaslike odor, screams of lots of people, and the fire giants on the lower floor yelling at us. At first we thought we set off some sort of magical trap, but when we went down it became obvious what had happened.

The floor below the altar room was filled with dead bodies (more dead bodies actually, there was already a couple there) but now it was really filled. Somewhere near the center was a charred heap of human (elf actually) remains with a broken staff nearby. All of the possible treasure in the room was destroyed, jewelry damaged, boxes obliterated, people burnt; the outcome was very bad. There was one person living amongst the dead, and we quickly healed his 7x burn wound to find out what had happened. His name was Zaris and he explained that he and his two comrades had been fighting an army of Treepeople (shot poisoned darts etc.) when their minor globe began to fail so the magic user Milf decided that it was time to do some serious damage and did a retributive strike, but was turned into a snake before he finished his action. Thus, when we turned him back into a human he decided to take out his wrath on everyone anyway and did the strike here, killing one of his party mates, himself (the charred remains, sort of like a human husk) but not Zaris. Needless to say we tried to get the situation back under control so we gathered all the treasure that was still intact and started to bring the people that think they are snakes and the coherent people back to base camp.

Everything went smoothly except for the last trip. It was about this time that I asked where the lantern was (something Ceydric explicitly said he put on the roof and something Eli specifically said he was going to take care of) Edwin said we left it on the roof...we checked and, guess what, it was gone. That really annoyed me since I specifically said I was going to take it but instead the sphinx got it. We know because Canstin mumbled to the Sphinx "enjoy your lantern" and was subsequently the target of his breath weapon. The log on the wall of the city (one of the safer paths in and out) where we were walking at the time began to vibrate really rapidly and Canstin and Eli fell off. Canstin took major damage but survived, Eli took a scratch (near the end of the log). We recovered and went to base camp and decided to go back to Middle to return these invalids and farmers to their families. We took a brief nine days off for the party to heal and learn new spells. Eli had found a spellbook and scrolls. Also, during the nine-day break the party bought several magic items from Zaris, including magical banded mail, magic arrows, a token of Salvage (unique item, creates a traveling spell book with Read Magic, and three spells that you currently have in memory), and we are willed Zaris' Bastard Sword +3.

We then decided to return to Tan-El as the Great Old City is more accurately named (comprehend languages is useful in many ways). Going through the teleporter, up two flights of stairs, and down the hallway we went to the little library room we had left for later. This room is filled with fine furniture, a bed, bookshelf with lots of books (enchanted with abjuration magic), a little level-4 magic bell (conjuration magic) that constantly rings, two evocation-trapped books, and magic rug, windows, and strings of beads hanging from the ceiling. Armed with lots of detection and removal spells we quickly ascertained that the room had traps on beads over the door, three of the books on the shelf, and on the bedframe. We removed the traps on the beads and two of the books before the inhabitant of the room decided to cause trouble. Although the beads we removed were the only ones trapped, all the others were magical and the druid of the party (Dari) decided she wanted to take down some of the other beads. As she cut one of the beads she was hit on the back of the head by some unseen force for 16 points. We then attempted to fight the unseen foe but it wasn't worth it. We needed to prepare for it (we have no way to detect the invisible, it destroyed our ink bags when we sprayed it). Thus we decided to stop here, return to base camp, and adventure again when we could dispel the last of the traps in the room.


January 08, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Return to Tan-El

We were last in Middle, and I visited the Church there as we pulled in. Over the next day and the next in transit, I healed everyone with the help of Aria and some from Dari. We purchased a magic bastard sword in exchange for a +1 Mace and some cash from the Baron at End. We also gathered some basic supplies and Eli learned the Change cantrip from Elowier's old spell book. We then departed to Base Camp. There was a Giant Toad there which swallowed Ludo, but because of his Ring of Free Action he could try to get out fairly easily. While trying, he killed it instantly and climbed out. It seems that chance to kill something from inside it are fairly large. So we decided to move Base Camp based on the number of attacks we've had here lately. The following day, we set out for the city, ready to check out the traps.

When we activated the teleporter, Canstin was knocked down by a Fire Giant that came through and clocked him. While we fought it, Eli slipped briefly into the portal invisibly and observed an evil priest (snake worshipper) with a shadowy lantern that produced Shadows and gave them power. Snag stuck his face in the portal. When he stepped back next to the portal, he suddenly went through the portal. Snag was enslaved by the evil priest and went with the priest when he retreated from the Korian item.

We knocked the Fire Giant to zero and he came out of his charm. We healed him and set him free after he gave us some information (in Ogre, thanks to Faranyn).

We went through the portal with the activated Sun item of Kor, protecting ourselves from the Shadows, and they all retreated to the evil consecrated ground and as we advanced they went further back through doors. We held at the edge of the ground. After a number of attempts to get through, there were too many shadows there. I sent a bottle of Phaulkon's Holy Water sailing at the doors on the other side of the place, which drew the wrath of the Shadows. We then tossed an oil flask at it, causing the Shadows to again damage the thrower. Cassana fired a flaming arrow at the door and it burst into flame. The shadows then retreated through that door. I then desecrated the temple entranceway, though I took damage from a glyph as a result, nearly dying in the process. But Phaulkon's Causes are worth it...

We sent Eli forward still Invisible with Invisibility to Undead, and Resist Fire on him for the doors and any traps. He found an army of Skeletons beyond. And a latter going up. They saw him, though. He went back again in a minute and was able to pass them. He was gone for a long time, and we decided to attack the skeletons, though Aria and I would be of no help, being turned by the very Evil Ground we walked on. Faranyn waded through the skeletons, and Theo and Ceydric also helped. Elowier, alas, was one of the skeletons, but we did aim to bury him later. There were even Fire Giant skeletons!

During the battle, Ceydric missed a nasty blow, and Gerald's sword (that Gerald has given him) lost its handle. Gerald was none too happy with this idea. We will get it fixed, though.

We could go no further up, because Faranyn when going up got clocked by the Fire Giant at the top, knocking him down. He took tremendous damage, but his armour just about fell apart on him saving him lethal damage. If it wasn't for the great amount of damage, I dare say that Faranyn might have even tried to land standing up. The giant closed the door. We decided to head back, since there was nothing further we could do. When we got to the other side of the teleporter with all the skeleton bones, well sprinkled with Holy Water, we found Eli there. And the Sphinx offering to rescue Snag at a huge cost. We decided to delay a decision in case we could do something.

We went back to Base Camp while Eli told us the description of the rooms above: Tons of snakes, the shadow light revealed him in its light, running from Snag, an Evil Altar, getting attacked by Snag, setting off a glyph on the roof and running away, while the Sphinx helped Snag to find Eli. Snag attacked Eli, and the Sphinx seemed to be aiding Snag in seeing the Invisible Eli, though we can't say for sure. Eli finally couldn't run any longer and Snag was coming for him. He used a potion of climbing to go down the wall and around the city to the teleporter we found him it. If not for my Resist Fire, Eli would be dead right now! I am very glad of that!

After healing, we prepared for an attack to rescue Snag, and climbed up the wall. A combination of Invisibility to Animals and Resist Fire on Theo when he opened the trapdoor (of which he took minimal damage) After some attempts to go down, there was nothing we could do. Finally in desperation, I cast Dispel Magic down into the rooms below, in hopes of deactivating the light and the Fire Giant enslavements. Well, many snakes turned into people and logs and some charms were broken. A giant and a soldier from End (former snake) attacked the priest, along with Ceydric with an Invisibility to Undead to wade through the Shadows.

[Note that this battle took place in the corner battlement building on several floors to the east of the castle and north of bugbear tower.]

When it came time to try and rescue Snag, the dispel magic did not break his charm, and he defended the Evil Priest against Ceydric and the Fire Giants, and the End soldier fighting him. The evil priest turned the lantern up full blast producing Shadows. Ceydric destroyed the lantern by striking it and then striking the priest's arm, who dropped it, causing it to break. After much effort, and Dari's charming of the giant that did not escape the enslavement of the priest, we killed the priest, and got people out.

We also killed some snakes and rounded others up into bags for dispelling later. There were some people eaten in the whole encounter. I think that my part in this encounter, despite the gain in destroying the Evil Priest, and desecrating the Altar, will have to be explored further. The innocents that were lost. I may have to go on a hermitage like Star. Phaulkon will demand recompense for this. The shadows did flee, though, and we are ready now to see if we break even off this whole encounter. Alas, if only Snag had not still tried to save the Evil Priest until we killed it. But we are all alive but Elowier, now, and in a position to go forth alive.

At the end of the battle, the two uncharmed Fire Giants cut the snake-tailed high priest into little pieces. We agreed to give them the 4,000 gold coins the priest took from them and then to split the treasure based on contributions in the battle. An alliance was not suggested.

We rescued quite a few people. At least 13 coherent still-with-mind people (4 of the original 17 were eaten/poisoned by snakes and are dead). There are half-dozen to a dozen people who think they are snakes. It costs about 1,000 gold each to put them away in a sanitorium in End.


January 07, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Last of the Spawn

Part I:
We went to the GOC after training Cassana, Ludo, Dari (in both classes) and Canstin. Alegra and Tesla are close to further levels.

We found that the beihir was gone and decided to investigate the teleporter portals we had discovered once upon a time. These teleporter portals were not similar to the one-shot teleporter at the theater battle. These were double-sided portals with a pedestal before them that you had to insert a magnet in to start them (there are a large number of magnets in the GOC).

We went through the one we had found and chopped lots of bugbears to pieces. Ceydric got suggested to attack Snag a couple of times but made most of his saves. The remaining demonspawn (Silla) was doing this. Alegra "hold person"ed her and we chopped our way to her. She's dead now. She was "Viola." Anyway, we were in this room we did not know where with two double doors in front of us and everything around us dead but for one captured bugbear. Gerald is guarding the door of the room with the portal in it. He and only a couple of others are there right now. (We did not know where the teleporter took us, but we did end up somewhere.)

Part II:
At the double doors, we examined how the portal worked (teleporter) and discovered that it brought you to different places based on polarity of the magnet inserted into the pedestal. We then marked polarity and moved everyone to the double-door room and removed the magnet from that side.

We then interrogated the bugbear we captured -- using Nym's bugbear skills. We discovered that he remembered nothing from during his charming. After we got information about him, we set him free on the other side of the teleporter with a message for the bugbears opposing the snake people in the city -- that we would leave them alone as long as they did not interfere with us destroying the demonspawn (he freaked out when I said demon -- so I used his term "snake people"). We gave him Silla's head as a sign of goodwill (he had said that they had killed two from when the spawn first came to the city from the jungle to the northeast and had kept the heads). We then explored the rest of the place -- which was deserted. Except for a few startled bugbears. There were a lot of traps, though! When we got to the roof, the Sphinx found us. And we looked out and discovered we were over in the northeast corner of the city, north of the bugbear tower, with jungle-like plants between here and the castle.
The bedrooms of the spawn (apparently) were variously trapped. In the first bedroom, we found some beds. Elowier checked under a mattress for secret compartments. It was flame trapped and exploded into flame, killing him instantly. He was an elf. We shot an arrow at a bed later and it did the same thing. We then did not touch anything until we have some trap detection and removal spells. The beds contained documents in some sort of cipher. They were burned beyond recognition -- hopefully the intact beds we come back for will be different. When we went to explore one last corridor, Alegra sensed a "palpable evil" coming from a huge vaulted chamber with thick shadows on the walls. It was "at best, consecrated unholy ground." We then left, but noticed that shadows were following us. One drained Snag of strength. Alegra tried to turn them and managed to hold them off, but could do no better than that. It was their turf.

We then tried to reflect sunlight at them, but there were at least half a dozen of them, and they broke the turning and attacked the mirror holder. Ludo was drained of strength. When he dropped the mirror, Alegra tried to drive them back, but failed. Aria also attempted it. We were forced to fall back to the teleporter because if we stayed longer to get spells (as we originally intended), it would be night and the shadows could attack us as they wished and we could not then escape. We then left, and headed back to base camp. During the night we were attacked by three trolls while still wounded from our previous encounters. It turned out okay, though.
We then headed back to Middle.


January 06, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Aftermath of the Barnaire Strike

Take on adventure: Approx. 40,000 gold pieces. Scroll of Protection from Petrification; a magic mace +1, lots of jewelry, statuettes, and gems; a good viola; and some weird, putrid musical compositions.

The viola had contact poison and a needle, and snake trap on it. We investigated back at Middle. We did check thoroughly for traps and removed the poison needle, and then unlocked it. Apparently there was something inside that sticks-to-snakes'ed a twig inside when it opened. The snake killed Snag in about ten seconds (he was bitten by a cobra inside the viola case) but for Slow Poison and Neutralize Poison spells later. When we killed the snake, it turned into a twig.

We learned that the spawn have travelled to End. Silla or the other woman must have bought the viola from a fancy goods place: a woman came in and bought that very instrument a couple of years ago, the shopkeeper said.
The viola is worth 3,500 gp. Gram copied the sheet music for posterity. The compositions are carefully crafted to sound incredibly discordant. They are actively unpleasant to listen to. Gram's music skill told him that the tunings required in the musical piece are horrible. The piece might approach good if that was fixed and the pieces carefully adjusted to a reasonalbe keys. later analysis revealed that the music is very carefully constructed. Although it is not magical in nature, it certainly has a disconcerting effect that is distinctly unpleasant. The music consists of arrangements of better known pieces that have been mangled almost beyond recognition. It is a distinct curiousity, but performing it to anyone but scholars of music is likely to result in lynching.

Much of the GOC since we killed the demonspawn (about 1.5 months later is this incident) became much more "alive" with more birds and more overgrowth. During our battle with the four lesser spawn, the garden they had was a scale-insect kind of garden with very sick plants--maintained just above death to maintain the insects. Dari destroyed it as an abomination of nature. It could be a reflection of that in the reduced presence of the 'spawn.

For a while early on, it was considered that the beithir could be one of the "Great Ones." This also pointed to the "Multiple Beithir Hypothesis (MBH)." Both theories were later abandoned.

Also, the sphinx said that the name of the city is plastered everywhere. However, Eli did not comprehend Runic I well, and the party did not see it much at first. They later learned that the name was "Tan-El."


January 05, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Demonspawn Battle at the Barnaire Theatre

Around July 2172 - Preparations
It seems that tomorrow in the midst of the snow strom we're about to have here, will be probably a deciding point in the history of the Stone Soules. We will in all probability go and attack the Demonspawn while trying to protect Middle. We could conceivably all die, or kill them all and reap great rewards, or some shade in between.
Alegra has been talking with all the party members before the coming battle. Faranyn and Ceydric are scrambling to get preparations made ready to secure Middle.

The Big Battle
We had just arrived back in Middle at the end of the last adventure, July 3, 2172. It was pouring rain and very stormy. We then planned for the defense of Middle. We sent Elowier on a fast invisible horse along with money from the killed demonspawn to hire some mercenaries in End for temporary defense. We also sent mail to the Squid, the patrol leader of End, in case he noticed anything unusual in his patrol sweeps. We also mailed Farrah, the Nevronian cleric in End, that she might send some clerical aid to Middle in case of attack (temporaily, as the church still isn't built yet). We verified Alegra's identity by having her cast a spell in front of the Phaulkonian clergyman here in Middle (verified that she is Phaulkonian). We then gathered a lamp to light the meditation candle (so that Alegra can get Call Lightning) in, because of the rain. We headed off to base camp on the ridge, with which to attack presumably the day the rain just stopped (so they would go to the Barnaire Theatre (open air)) [Faranyn and his entourage stayed to look after Middle in Ceydric's absence -- note that Ceydric's men-at-arms guarded the horses at base camp and everyone else went on to the city when the time came] We used Alegra's weather sense abilities along with some spells of hers to predict when the weather would stop but there would still be clouds to call down the lightning.. During this time Eli turned people invisible (he had a lot of time, because the weather lasted another day and would break the following day, when we would attack).

We were then all invisible except Ludo and Dari, the thieves and we headed for the city.

We went through a broken part of the wall and headed for the theatre -- it was still raining hard though, but we knew it would let up by midday. We passed 3-4 gray shapes in the rain on an alley that headed into another alley, apparently without seeing us. We continued on. We arrived at the Theatre. We saw 4 bugbear guards but noone else. Unfortunately there was only one entrance and we knew we couldn't go ahead with our plan and sneak in on time for the arrival of the demonspawn if we didn't get inside. We finally decided it was impossible to sneak everyone we need inside without using our door token. We put a door in the wall of the back up against the cliff face away from the street. It opened into a small room filled with boxes of merchant goods. We came up with our plan and then camouflaged the door from the outside (from Aria who stayed outside invisible). Everyone else we inside. We figured out where we were by going through the two doors on either side (opened a crack at first, etc.) to get our bearings. Then we sneaked everyone except Eli and Alegra and Dari and Ludo inside to take up positions. We then waited (we were in position by dawn).

At about 11, the bugbear went and had a meal on the stage (dead rabbits, etc.). Note that the setup is: stage and garden open to the air, with bleacher type seats around it and balcony above that. Big double doors to opposite of stage and behind stage a raised platform room with stage machinery and where on of the bug bear guards is. There are archway windows around the balcony (about 60 of them) where the other three bugbears are. The sky begins to stop raining but the clouds remain.

The doors open. A guy comes through and looks around and starts barking orders in bugbear. The bugbears straighten up and stand at attention. The guy goes over to the stage and sets up lawn chairs on the stage. A beautiful woman arrives, no obvious deformities. The other guy has one snake arm and thats it. [I may be mixing up the order of arrival but it's not too important]. The next guy that arrives in white robes looks rather freaky and like he's levitating. He looks very -- insane is the best word. He giggles and smiles a lot. He goes on stage along with the woman but he just kind of crumples into a pile. His torso stays erect along with part of his "legs."
Next, the guy who originally charmed us long ago shows up. He argues with the woman. She calls him the weakest one. We find out the killed one's name is Gorp (or something like that and that he was an "idiot.") They make comnments about the "adventurers." The insane ones name is Brogarra and the woman's name begins with an S. He makes notes on a tablet he carries. "The Great Ones" also come up. We also learn that at least one demonspawn (Silla) is missing - punishing the bugbears.

The guy who just entered (scaled hand, weird snake-like eyes) approaches the stage. Brogarra makes a musical selection, and they retrieve instruments from behind the stage. Brogarra say "ready" and they begin. He adjusts the tuning so that everyone is about 1/2 tone from everyone else -- it sounds horrible. The woman plays a cello, the scaled hand guy, a violin, the snake arm guy, a trumpet, and Brogarra plays the drum somehow (we don't see a drum). There is also a snake man (we fought one before: two-handed sword, 7' tall) on guard at the door. Canstin gives the signal and Alegra starts call lightning, after some delay from Eli. Afterwards, Eli turns them both invisible again. Eli gives Aria the signal to try and spike the doors from the outside, so none can escape. Alegra steps out takes a second to aim at the stage and releases the spell.

BOOM! The attack begins! [note that the lightning only did a max of 21 out of a possible 72!]

Gerald, Theo, Ceydric, Snag, Quick, and Tesla charge the stage at this point. Gerald is near Brogarra, who as Gerald hits during surprise (doing great damage), whips out his tail (on a natural 20) wraps it around Gerald's neck and head and bangs him against the stage a few times until he's unconscious and suffocating. A number of attacks occur here. Theo knocks Cello (we'll go by instruments) unconscious on his first strike. Ceydric hits Violin. Cassana tries to hit Drum (Brogarra). Canstin tries to hit Drum. Snag and Quick try to hit Trumpet (uninjured by lightning) -- Snag misses. Dari and Ludo try to heat people -- Ludo hits himself with sling. Dari hits bugbear with arrow. Aria at this point is jamming door. Alegra is casting hold person. Canstin gets hit bybugbear right next to him -- is out cold in segments. Aria commands the snake guy chasing Cassana to die and then the thieves cut it to pieces. Battle overview: After Snag and Quick are changed to snakes (but retain their minds) then sticks, Tesla is suggested to protect Violin from any attack by Ceydric. Ultimately, All four of them are beheaded as they try to regenerate. (including great move by Tesla against Trumpet by tackling him and pinning his innate ability human arm while Eli burned Trumpet with burning hands). 3 Bugbears escape because Aria abandoned the door to save Cassana and Canstin. We look around and discover a one way one-use teleporter that Violin was crawling for when Theo slayed him. It is destroyed by accidnentally activating it. We search around and by this time Gerald is fine, having only suffered 12 real points of damage, just being immobilized much of the battle. We retrieve their personal items and discover another room with boxes -- all normal gear.

The Sphinx appears and just says he want to watch. We give him a box of silverware we couldn't haul out of the city anyway and tells us the following: we killed most of the "lesser" demonspawn; the Great Ones are altogether different but that they won't be mounting any armies and that they are much more powerful; the bugbears are going haywire after being uncharmed, but that they are very disorganized and not coming to take us out;. [subtly] we shouldn't kill too many of the monsters because then it's boring for him and then we might try to settle the city -- "I understand it's very en vogue these days." and other great quotes about "transcending grammar" and that he can "mix metaphors as much as I [he] like[s]."

We leave the city but not before destroying the bodies with another lightning bolt and we headed back to base camp. It was attacked by an owlbear in our absence, but the men-at-arms took the horses and left and came back later. Then we headed back to Middle.

And some questions answered:

>Speaking of casualties, whatever happened to the guys turned into snakes?

Alegra dispelled the magic on them and they were fine. No problem.

The sphinx said we had killed over half of the lesser demonspawn, so I would think that there are perhaps 1-3 left.

>Any idea what the point of the weird music was?

No magic, but the Drum guy seemed to really like it -- he had tablets of musical arrangements on him. He specifically tuned the guy who was 1/8 of tone off to 1/2 tone off, and genuinely seemed to like it.


January 04, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Middle-of-the-Road and Miscellaneous Questions Answered Regarding Earlier Adventures

Middle-of-the-Road (Middle) - town within the Barony of End tied strongly to the Dunadorian Central Government by virtue of its leadership. It is located off the North Trade Track on the way to the End-of-the-Road. A keep is under construction, with the main fortress being currently the tower of the Soulestone. Middle is magic friendly and open to many good and neutral religions, unlike much of Dunador. It is within easy distance to adventuring sites. It has a Blue Star Inn. [note: we hope to make into a barony with End becoming a Duchy someday; we'll see.] Population: unknown.

>I have a few questions about things in the log:
>what is a "hide-behind"?

We don't really know, just that they are small grey creatures with lots of teeth that are invisible when alive but appear when dead, that can only be seen in mirrors when alive. They like to try strangle you and/or plug you with poison daggers. We have an antidote to their poison.

> what's the status of End in relation to Dunador?

It is a part of Dunador that does not pay taxes at the moment, that won't until at least Trent does, I believe.

The demonspawn are the snake worshippers: the Sphinx calls them snake worshippers and they turn people in to snakes whenever they get the chance. We know that they feed snakes up on the ridge (our territory). Alegra when she initially saw them (rollled against history-folklore) thought, "demonspawn," due to their altered and malignant appearance (claws for hands on some, cat eyes on another). We alternate terms because we're not sure which they are. We are glad this last encounter shows that they can be killed.

The Beithir
The beihir, though, is known for throwing voices and taunting people. There seems no limit to his power... the longer he lives the more powerful he becomes, too. He is essentially immortal, being about 5,500 years old or thereabouts. Edwin constantly tells us about the name level party that both sides found it agreeable just to parley -- not fight one another! About four or five Adventuring Reserve parties and S.M.A.R.T. all decided that the beithir was a little too dangerous for them and/or were destroyed mercilessly by Rosaroc.

Fighting Demonspawn
It was suggested by the party that a magical weapon was needed to hurt demonspawn. Yet, the party's only magic weapon, they claimed in conversation, was a magic knife that Ludo the halfling had back at middle and a morning star that the commander of the garrison uses. They did not have time to go back and were trying to decide on the action. Gerald revealed he had a magic sword and Theo made it clear that he did not. It was even suggested that Theo use Gerald's sword, but Gerald argued that since Theo does not have long sword proficiency that Gerald using it would be better. Both attacked and it was clear both weapons hurt the demonspawn. The demonspawn they attacked before Gerald appeared was seeeming unphased by an arrow hit but they are now starting to attribute this to high hit points.

Kyle (& Edwin)

January 03, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Aftermath of Alegra's Rescue

Gerald is happy to get Alegra back safely and was worried about her. Especially after ensuring her identity, he simultaneously warns her to be more careful and congratulates her wisdom in surviving.

Gerald suggests various preparations in case the demon-worshippers attack us and/or Middle. First, realize that everyone (practically) hates demons. Second, don't scare the populace of Middle. Third, don't make people angry at us by making them think we incited the demon-worshippers to anger.
On the first point, the various churches in Middle (you have mentioned several) should be willing to help out. Decide whether or not to enlist their help. Just keep the second and third points in mind.
On personal preparation, we should consider magics available:

Alegra can prepare Glyphs of Warding on small items to give us of us as well as place around strategic points. She may be able to cast Divination to learn more info. Depending on what the demonspawn are, if she can Abjure them it's nice. If she can Implore (reversed Abjure) a servant of Phaulkon to help fight the demonspawn, it would be of great use and conceivably relevant to the angel (or whatever).
Dari can probably cast useful third-level spells of strategic use: Plant Growth, Snare, and Stone Shape have permanent effects. If she is 6th level, Hallucinatory Forest also has a nice strategic use, especially if combined with Plant Growth. Protection from Lightning would be great against the beithir.

Gerald can help set traps if you want to do that, and Ludo might be able to as well. (Though Gerald's probably better at the kind of outdoor traps I have in mind.)

The "everyone" that hates demons includes other adventurers. There's a friendly group at Koralgesh, and we could tell them we are friends of Gram. King Ranore and Duke Konrad are a bit far off, but they might send someone to help out. Other opportunities abound, though we might not need (or want) any help at all.


January 02, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: Ruins Exploration

Mind you, this attack took place on July, 3 2172.

We explored the city and learned that the beihir can leave it. We explored a few buildings of interest and saw some bugbears who had snakeskins for totems. They appeared to be enemies of the snake worshippers. We found a tunnel marked with the name "Tunnel" into the mountain in Runic II or III. Beithir sized. It had huge guardian stone golems.

We then planned to send in two groups from our base camp on the ridge (with everyone except the cavaliers there). The first would scout around the tunnel since we knew it was out of town currently, and the second would look around at night to see where there were lights (specifically in a library we were interested in). Both teams were to be invisible. The first team was Alegra and Elowier the mage-steward and Dari. The looked at the demonspawn a bit, but not too much interesting there. Dari fell off the wall here and turned visible. She left the city and we went around to the other side. We watched to see who came out of the "enemy" bugbear tower - this was before we knew it was bugbears. We then left and went to look at the tunnel.

Nothing was there, but Alegra shined her a continual light bead into the tunnel while Elowier stood at the gate to the courtyard where the tunnel was. Light kept reflecting back, like 1 flash then wait then two flashes then three etc. Finally this freaked out Alegra enough to leave. She went to where Elowier was supposed to be and said, "Okay, let's go." Then Elowier says, "Okay." Then another voice, says, "No, Dari's back in the tunnel." We realize that this person is speaking with Alegra's voice.

I told Elowier to leave and I started to hear the rumble of the beihir. The other Alegra is trying to convince Elowier that I am the impostor (mind you we were still invisible). I tell Elowier to run and then I started to. Elowier went for the gate. I started to run and dodge through alleys. I headed towards where the day before they had said was a courtyard when I couldn't get to the exit. It saw me when I headed onto the mainroad so I backtracked. I tried to cross a different main road but it zapped me with a lightning bolt. Only my dexterity and +1 vs. lightning from Phaulkon saved me. I took half damage and still almost died. And that was from only being within 10' of the bolt. I ran into a building and it started to bash the wall. I then ran into one across the street in the courtyard, one my character had never been to but they had explored yesterday. Basically here the beihir looked in and lightning bolted the room but the metal framework around it reflected it a bunch of times. A large golem-construct-robot thing came down and started attacking it. There were automatic guardians at the arches leading further in so I skulked around. I wrote my name on the wall at one point and placed objects around the room to distract from me. I was sure Alegra was toast.

The beithir is taunting me and telling me I can't wait in here forever, considering that I was alone. I couldn't spell cast if I wanted to stay invisible. I had some iron rations and I had already eaten some of Dari's goodberries. Some bugbears came in after the beithir left and 1 got toasted by a guardian in an arch when it saw I thrown something beyond. They scryed on me at this point and they saw the room and recognized it but not much else. They saw the writing on the wall and knew I was alive from a locket they had.

They developed a way to rescue me. Gerald was involved. They sent Grien to me to send a message and some goodberries. Grien almost died and through very complex circumstances, crash landed on the front steps. I managed to save Grien, get two Bugbears toasted by security and scared them away. I read the message and wrote on the wall with my ink. They read the message through scrying and developed the final plan. They surveyed with Dari's crow and realized that there were 3 bugbears and 1 "human" - a demonspawn outside with a snake head and two snake arms. When they got to the city, Gerald, Theo, and Eli went in invisibly. They crept up on the demonspawn and Gerald and Theo hit it once each and killed it in a segment. Then, Alegra ran out of the room and Eli slept the bugbears (and Grien, but he was unconscious anyway), and Eli grabbed the head of the demonspawn Gerald had cut off, even though one of the snake arms Gerald had cut off bit and poisoned Gerald. Then Eli grabbed the pouch and weapon and headed off to the wall. He turned himself invisible. Gerald went off in a screwy direction for stealth and we all made it to the wall. We started climbing over then Gerald was last. The poison hit him as was going up (he took a total of 35 points of damage from it) and he slipped, but pulled himself over. We then booked it out of the city. All told, it took maybe 30 segments for the whole operation. The Sphinx relayed a message. Mind you it was pouring rain. "We will pay in kind for this." We think they will attack the town, Middle, but we're going to attack them first. We made it back to Middle and that is where we stand now.

Confused? I was, too. Barely made it out alive.


January 01, 1994

Stone Soules Summary: The Founding of Middle-of-the-Road and Early Adventures

The Anarchists
They intercepted a cargo shipment to the Barony that Ceydric went and followed them. They just dumped the stuff in a ditch and tried on purpose to have us receive a message on one of the people we killed there. It was garbage about the Duke of Andevar wanting the "royalist upstarts destroyed" or somesuch. That was what ultimately caused the Dunadorian Central Government to send us a small unit of troops headed by Al.

Zalk the Sage
He's a sage at the School of Wizardry, foremost in Magic Item research who took a box we had brought him and figured out the combination so that none of the 100+ magic traps would destroy us or it. It had Tuggutian currency (paper) inside.

Great Old City
Looks like we found the remains of a group from S.M.A.R.T. in the desert monster's lair. But the Jack of Clubs we just have a log in code...the one from S.M.A.R.T. blew up when we tried to open it (4-40 points damage).

End-of-the-Road had monsters we wouldn't have expected in the ruins! Who would have expected to find a desert monster there! Edwin said he was disappointed that we had killed the desert monster because he was supposed to "haunt us for weeks." We were happy to disappoint him; as it was we just randomly picked his lair to search.

Gerald & the Party
Gerald has not yet been accepted by Theo and Ceydric as member of the party. Alegra is voting for him (sort of a Triumvirate). Gerald has been with Alegra, Aria, and Ludo for just about 6 months. With Ceydric, entourage, Theo, Norm, for about 4.5 months (though Ceydric and company were constructing the barony at this point and not available much). With Snag for maybe 2 weeks, and with Faranyn and the rest for less than a day.

Be aware: Dari has a mountain lion and two squirrels, maybe more animals. Snag has a tendency to eat/attack and then eat a lot of things. Watch your animals, though he's never attacked Grien before. Interesting fact: Grien did more direct damage to Molehill in our battle than Alegra did.

Early Adventures w/Gerald
Not much exciting happened, actually. We spent a long time fighting off a caravan raid by anarchists... The rest of the time was spent patrolling and mostly just in administration.
Gerald is alive and well. The most adventure he was really involved in was raiding a couple of Sarkian army deserters (Ogres -- excuse me, they were "dismissed") and a giant and normal ogre. Faranyn relates to you his conversation with "Gwog -- 2106" in ogre. I'll get back to you on that -- it was really interesting, actually -- information about the World Empire and Sark.

We are planning on doing recoinnasance (bad misspelling) in the Greate Olde City this very weekend. Middle is almost finished (to start) and has some citizens, including an alchemist, a Phaulkonian,and a Nevronian temple, a shrine to Felcon, God of Travellers, and a small Auroran work of art, sometimes called a "temple," but it makes everything else look shabby. But ostentacious decoration is not a Phaulkonian trait.

The sphinx has the body of a lion-like creature, and the wings and head of a great eagle. He looks like a griffin in many ways. He is about the size of a horse.
The bards at the End mailpost know that a sphinx occasionally arranges to send out mail through bugbear intermediaries. They nothing of his powers or habits. Mail was delivered to the sphinx by way of a secret box. Info beyond that is confidential.
He wears at least one magic ring. The sphinx asked to be called "Master."
He is interested in many things, apparently, including archaeology, and he is a member of the Brotherhood of Sages. Grammar and style, however, are not included in his interests: "I can mix metaphors as I please. . . ."

The party took numerous breaks between adventures. They stop for about forty days at a time for various logistic reasons. This is exactly not long enough to get to the Northlands look around and get back. Thus, Gerald was constantly stuck in the immediate area.

Gerald presented an idea for local travel during the "dead time" between adventures. Gerald offered to help fully scout the land around the Soulestone and the future barony. Gerald intends to explore, take notes, and map the area in more detail than has been done to date. This will not only help patrol the area to uncover other monster lairs but also provide long-term benefit to the barony. Such a survey can help with various plans, including military strategy. Gerald asked and obtained Ceydric's approval, and several party members also liked the idea. However, it was quite some time before the party actually implemented the plan.

Magic Potion
The matter was received quite warmly. Alegra tells you privately that that may salvage your status with the group. She is busy right now organizing a new church, but she is glad to show you around. Incidentally, there is no test required. We'd rather save the potion. Plus, she makes that point that a "friend of Gram is a friend of mine."

Update: It will take until the end of 2172 to finish the city to a point where we can leave it. If you wish, you can travel during any of the last half of 2172 that we will be in Middle. All of the info. I gave you about the barony is also filled in.

Arathorne Barony
Some facts about the Barony decided at the last game:
1. It will be called the Arathorne Barony after Ceydric and Faranyn Arathorne.
2. The tower is known (primary for the future keep) is known as the Soulestone (or Soulstone).
3. The town will be called Middle-of-the-Road or Middle for short (like End, a day or so away). This was designed, incidentally, to give the impression of wanting to stop at Middle since certainly End must be much farther on the road ;) for player's ears only, though!