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May 09, 1997

Summary LXVI: Better-Left-Undisturbed Treasure? or, Escaping the Pit with Our Lives

Presenting.... the Stone Soules Final Summary! No, thank you, you're too

This adventure was sponsored by the evil dwarves, and a hole o' fun!

The intrepid adventurers downed the Treasure Finding Potion as promised,
and moved swiftly in that direction. Apparently the potion may have been
obscured, or just wore off, but the distance to the treasure was unclear
and shifted semi-randomly, though the direction was constant.

We eventually came upon a clearing with some vultures in it, and a large
hole in the center, bones strewn about its sides.

Talking to the birds, we deduced that a large worm had taken up residence
there. We decided, naturally, to kill it and grab the loot. We were
expecting a quick grab the items and run, so some of our spells were
detection spells rather than combat, which proved unfortunate.

Upon approaching the hole we discovered that a spiral staircase ran down
the hole into the darkness. So much for the worm hypothesis. We went down
for about a thousand feet and reached a dug cavern with many passageways.
Using the we go right rule, we went right repeatedly, turning back once at
a chasm. An occasional rumbling noise would occur and that made us nervous
but did little more.

Then we noticed that we were going downward. We continued until we hit
what we later noticed was the bottom of a depression. At that instant we
heard more rumbling, and spotted fast gray things approaching from front
and back. Eli threw a Wall of Ice in front, and we prepared to receive the
charge. Then we realized they were huge boulders. Everyone scrambled for
cover, some up walls, others just crunched against the sides, and Ceydric
and Theo, who had Fly spells on them, flew up to the ceiling. Amazingly
only one person really got trashed by the rock-- Raven. He was flattened
with a 4x wound-- our second ever (the previous one was Theo vs. the
Dragonbear, last adventure). We brought up to low positive hp when a
Cloudkill appeared in back of us. Clerics started throwing dispels at it,
and then we discovered that a Wall of Force was in front of us, trapping
us. Eli cast Rope Trick and put many of the low level people in it, and
Ceydric, Theo, Mordrick and Eli charged through the cloud. Eventually the
cloud was dispelled, but by the time the people in the Rope Trick got out,
this next section was over.

As soon as they passed through the Cloudkill, crossbow bolts and a
Lightning Bolt hit Ceydric and Theo. In addition Theo was mesmerized by a
Hypnotic Pattern that suddenly appeared.

Ceydric, Mordrick and Eli continued, spotting a Passwall up ahead in one of
the walls. Ceydric and Mordrick dashed in, seeing a dark dwarf on the
other end. Eli hit him with a Magic Missile barrage, but at that moment a
Repulsion-like effect knocked the two warriors out of the Passwall, which
was promptly dispelled by some other dwarf.

Having lost any chance to continue the pursuit, we regrouped and headed out
as quickly as we could to prepare for a more successful return. As we
headed back through the corridors we heard the rumbling sound quite
frequently and feared boulders at every turn, but none were being launched
at us.

We reached the circular room under the stairwell and discovered that the
doors to the stairs were shut. Thieves climbed over the wall while Ceydric
and Theo flew up, and opened the doors from the other side. Eli cast
Monster Summoning II and summoned three volts. The rumbling got louder and
we began heading up the stairs. Unfortunately we were only about 40 feet
up before the giant grey worm appeared! 20 feet in diameter and extending
FAR back into the caves, it was quite a monster. It beat up the volts in
seconds and turned on the party, who was showering it with missile fire and
spells. Aria cast Precipitation, which made its mouth more moist then ever.

Now for the fun part... Ludo tossed 15 coin weights of vitrioli into its
mouth. Now, swamp conditions are the ideal for these little creatures, and
a wet mouth full of rainwater, in an earthworm, is pretty fantastic. The
results were spectacular as 57 vitrioli appeared and blew it to kingdom
come, or so we thought. The vitrioli did approximately 400 points of damage!

The giant worm thrashed violently for a moment. The party was elated.

Then it grabbed Sean the Ranger (Alegra's henchman) in its mouth and popped
him in, though he managed to nail it with his spear first. Horrified, Aria
shot at it with increased anger, but to no avail as he disappeared down its

Meanwhile the worm had taken about 800 points of damage so far from various
internal wounds, external as well (thanks to Ceydric and Theo primarily).
But it was far from gone. Next it smashed into Alegra, hurling her into
the wall, leaving her unconscious and barely alive. She was healed enough
to stand and continued firing.

Ceydric was next. The worm did JUST enough damage to kill him instantly
without any chance to escape, and gulped him down. Increasingly desperate,
Mordrick downed a Potion of Levitation and attacked with his melee weapons.
The monster struck again, at the unfortunate Alegra. This time she was
pasted against the wall and gore flew everywhere. But since she has an
extra life, this didn't panic everyone (everyone remember she has a
deathservant-- it has been used).

Next Raven was crushed, though not digested. He fell over dead from the
combination of the previous boulder damage and the viciousness of the worm.
Things were going extremely badly, and Xavier whipped out the Wand of
Wonder. It promptly spewed out four colored spheres, different colors
each, which struck the creature with an explosion. It was not clear
whether they actually damaged it. He used it again, and lots of spikes
started spilling out of his left ear, tearing through his helmet. He aimed
them at the monster for a bit. Finally, he used it a third time, and
received a Monster Summoning VI spell. A hideous undead, invisible,
trollish level-draining crossbreed appeared and said, "What is your
bidding, master?" "Attack the worm!" was the predicatable response.\

It got to work, doing minimal damage, but double level drains!

The 2000+ damage appeared to be having no effect as the worm killed Rangorn
(also by one hp). Ludo, pulled out his potion of Firebreathing and belched
at it. The next segment, with over 2300 damage on it, it finally died.

We cut it open and retrieved the two bodies. Fortunately Ceydric was
recoverable, and was raised on the spot by scroll, as was Rangorn. Raven
was saved with the elixir of life. Alegra, meanwhile, reinflated after a
few rounds and rejoined us.

We retreated out of the hole and set up camp an hour away. Everyone was
completely trashed, many people just barely standing. We decided to get
revenge. We knew the dwarves would follow after us, but only at night, so
we took a spellshift and brought everyone to at least a sturdy life total
(mid-20s mostly), and then pretended to be asleep. Meanwhile, Eli was in a
tree waiting to bombard the attackers.

The main group was spotted by the bobcat familiar, and we prepared for a
major battle. The dwarves had sent out a war party of 22, including two
savants (wizards). Mordrick slid silently toward one of them. Ludo
noticed an invisible person near the top of the camp, but he moved back.
The dwarves split up and sent a group of 8 south, thinking to surprise us
from two sides. Our main fear was a Cloudkill, so the wizards had to go
down first. Mordrick absolutely butchered one with a backstab (76 points
of damage!) and then took on an entire group of 8 dwarves. Raven came
dashing to the rescue and started massacring dwarves at close range,
Ceydric, Claude, and Theo following. While Ceydric never actually joined
the fight, it was still a slaughter as Theo began cutting them up.
Mordrick was healed by Star and returned to the fighting.

Meanwhile the group that had gone south was ambushed by Eli from above.
Beginning with a Slow on all of them, he then Magic Missiled the savant in
the group, who cast an Ice Storm. Eli swooped in and all 9 of them were
hit by the spell. Eli's Protection From Normal Missiles protected him from
a half dozen crossbow shots. On the ground, Rangorn, Alegra, Aria, and
Ludo approached the doomed group. Eli threw a Stinking Cloud, totally
stopping them in their tracks. One emerged from the cloud to meet a
furious but extremely unlucky Rangorn, wielding Gruntender ogreslaying

The polearm dwarf hit Rangorn a few times and actually held him at bay
before he and the crossbowmen finally took him down, though no serious
injury was done.

Ludo sneaked around the cloud and prepared to shoot anyone attempting to
escape. Eli through in a Cone of Cold for good measure, then waited for
the cloud to disperse. What was left was one wretching frozen beaten up
and slowed dwarf. We shot him.

The recovery of loot was unprecedented. Of course there was the obligatory
broadsword+1 (we needed yet ANOTHER weapon the party doesn't use). There
was another Potion of Firebreathing, and an Elixir of Life! Finally there
was the Short Sword of Quickness +3!!! Easily the best magic weapon we've
ever recovered.

The Stone Soules trekked back to Cromwell without notable event (Sean was
Raised earlier)and kicked back to relax-- and of course to discuss our

And among future adventurers, many will remember this final titanic battle
as the Stone Soules removed another evil thing from the map.

It was a great year! Now we get to discuss some plans for the future, and
of course I hope everyone will follow the hapless adventures of our next
party-- wherever it may be (we're thinking of Koralgesh).


"Ok, the orcs attack the party and the fire giant goes after Rangorn."
"Why does everything nasty come for me? And I thought the ceiling was only
10 feet high!"
"Ah, he's standing in a low area that leads straight for your character."

- A paraphrasing of a section of the Catacombs Guide

May 02, 1997

Summary LXV: The Pit

For the sake of my sleep schedule, I'll just throw in a quick summary so as
not to leave everyone in suspense. Full summary hopefully tomorrow!

And thanks to Chris playing Theo!

The party meandered around the Pit area of the Southern Wilderness without
realizing how close we were. First the party was surprised by a giant
slug. Rangorn took massive damage and had some equipment destroyed by acid
spittle. Again.

Then we spotted an owlbear. Being extremely bloodthirsty, we trashed it
with the help of _Slow_ spell and everyone just generally raining damage
down on it.

Then we entered the Pit. Ominous terrain, full of undergrowth. The party
hacked its way through to a torn path. We followed the gigantic tracks,
guessing that a huge bear thing (roughly 40 feet tall) had made the trail.
We spotted the creature-- Monster ID revealed it as a "dragonbear"-- result
of experiments to combine dragons and owlbears. After waiting for bad
weather, Alegra began the attack with _Call Lightning_. What followed was
about a thousand points of damage and dozens of single wounds. The
creature finally dropped, but with a dead Ceydric nearby. In addition, the
unfortunate Runt had been incinerated by an earlier blast of fire (it had a
7 segment breath weapon-- full details on this later). Ceydric was rescued
by Mordrick and Theo, who dragged his body away from the suddenly rumbling
body of the dragonbear. About a minute later, the body exploded into huge
flames, but the body was shielded by the two valiant fighters. Now wasn't
that fun?

Next we threw divinations everywhere, and decided to head east toward
"powerful enemies, moderate treasure-- though relatively inaccesible, low
chance of invoking the ire of supernatural evil." (that was a rough

We left with the party having just downed a Potion of Treasure Finding,
ready to seek out the treasure!

In addition we recovered several magic items, which have not been
identified officially-- though we strongly suspect that the colored paper
is origami paper.

But of course no adventure would complete without finding yet another
totally useless weapon (to the Stone Soules). Joining the ranks of such
weapons as the +4 intelligent spear, the +3 battleaxe, and many other fine
weapons is the recovered magic glaive!

Also, there was a magic clasp with a strange smiley face on it, a silver
walnut (high magic), and several tokens. I know I've forgotten some
items-- hopefully the full list will be out soon!

Goodnight, everyone!


Ok, here it is! The gruesome details! Cringe if you will!

In the usual fashion the adventure began with Rangorn being surprised by a
giant slug, who spat acid at him. Deja vu. His bow disentegrated, and he
was scooped up in its mouth. The party quickly dispatched the beast, and
no further harm was done.

Next we beat up an owlbear. General strategy-- _Slow_ spell, hit with
arrows and range spells, annoy it, then retreat to the edge of the _Prayer_
and engage it. After only 4 segments of melee combat, the owlbear dropped
without even touching anyone. Quite a contrast to previous encounters with
the things...

Next we tracked it back to its layer. Tossing in a continual light bead,
we drew out... a baby owlbear! Little tyke, about 3 feet high. We
questioned it telepathically after tying it up firmly. "Kill, kill, eat,
eat. Where food?" was the response. So we _Reduce_d it, and stored it in
a glass jar! Eli teleported back to Cromwell and sold it to Fish and
Critters, along with an owlbear egg. We also found a token. The two
tokens turned out to be Dimension Door and Flight, and we kept the Dim.
Door after salvage tax.

We encountered another owlbear, but let it go in search of bigger game. We
encountered four ogres. At least we got to test out Gruntender,
ogre-slaying falchion!

Finally, we entered the Pit. There was interesting local wildlife like
rather large flying squirrel things, and scinilating blue-green lizards, of
animal intelligence. We came to an obvious torn-up trail. Apparently the
dragonbear followed a very regular root. Deciding that the huge monster
was the challenge we needed, Xavier did a quick astrology. The result was
something like: "The Scythe approaches the sign of the Wanderer." Without
a doubt the LEAST subtle astrology I've ever heard. We were gutsy and went
for it!

We waited for the weather to get bad enough for _Call Lightning_ to work.
Theo and Ceydric received _Fly_ spells, and we initiated the attack with a
_Call Lightning_ by Alegra. Rangorn, Ludo, Raven, Sahrak, Runt, Aria,
Sean, and Star all fired bows and crossbows at the beast. Mordrick used
his sling. Famu cast _Magic Missile_, but it reflected back and slammed
him. Arabica wisely stayed out of the fight. Alegra and Xavier both cast
_Prayer_, which helped greatly. The thing began to turn around, and then
Ceydric and Theo were upon it like buzzing flies, hacking away.
Unfortunately the creature was slowly regenerating wounds during the battle
which made it difficult to assess exactly how much damage was being done.
Missing Theo repeatedly, the dragonbear eventually decided to unleash its
breath weapon. Fortunately Ceydric saved and was in fine shape to
continue. Everyone kept pounding it, but our look couldn't hold. It
ripped Theo with its claws, inflicting a quadruple wound! Theo fled back
to be healed by the clerics. The next blast was unleashed at Rangorn, who
also saved (first time ever). Meanwhile Sahrak had illusionary adventurers
flying around hacking and missing the beast. It fooled him several times!
Dragonbears are right up there with their owlbear cousins on the
intelligence scale.

Next it hit Ceydric and scooped him up in its arms, slowly crushing him to
death. Ceydric slashed at it valiantly, inflicting major damage, but the
result was inevitable as he was slowly squeezed through his negative function.

Finally, it let loose a blast at Runt, Raven, and Mordrick. Mordrick
didn't seem to notice the damage really, Raven was barely standing, but
unfortunately Runt failed her save and was totally wiped out. In shock
Raven returned fire more viciously. Mordrick said to heck with it and
charged forward, attacking for his usual huge damage. Moments later,
Alegra dropped it with a crossbow shot. Immediately a rumbling sound
emanated from the dead dragonbear. Theo flew to help Mordrick and the two
dragged Ceydric quickly from the body. They got a significant distance
away before it exploded violently. Fortunately Theo and Mordrick were fine.

Next we held a small funeral for Runt, and cremated her remains. Raven
became extremely depressed. Ceydric was raised and healed. Two days later
we set off for the dragonbear's cave. We tracked it back to its lair and
found several items of interest mentioned in the shorter summary-- a clasp,
origami paper, money (Realmish and Lurten), gems, an extremely fine belt
with a huge diamond in it (non-magical), and a (you guessed it) magic glaive.

Next we threw divinations in every direction with the newfound money, and
finally decided for east, using the powerful monsters, chance of incurring
the wrath of evil is very low, moderate treasure. South was clearly the
most deadly though-- Monsters there are frightful, moderate treasure,
chance of incurring the wrath of supernatural evil is... inevitable. Nasty.

Next we prepared to down the Treasure Finding Potion and see if we can find


Let us not forget the Lamassu servant of Nevron who happened come through
the Leomond's Chest when Eli opened it up -- which healing Ceydric and went
on its way.... (though unfortunately we had already raised him; perhaps he
would have raised him. Whatever).

Let us not forget:
1. The HIGHLY magical, non-detectable aura Silver Walnut!!
2. The magical Brass Bell!
3. The "Do Not Open" potion!
4. The mithril bars and other cash.

Also: The belt came from the owl bear cave.

Yeah, and SE even had "Moderate Better-left-Undisturbed Treasure." But it
was only "probably inevitable that we distrub supernatural evil forces."

Other things encountered:
A megalith where the participants had imprisoned a great evil (probably a
demon from the early time of Telvar) and become the stones of the place.

A cloud giant trading post ("the brothers approach the sign of the camel.")

In the direction of the pit: "To the east is forces of Aurora, to the
south, death and anguish. The number 9 is important."

And where we are now... "A sect of hordling-summoning wizards once hunted in
this area." "Moderate but relatively inaccessible treasure." "Chance of
incurring wrath of evil is very low but possible." "Weak to Moderate

Next (and probably Final) Game: 5/9.


May 01, 1997

Warwick Summary: The Quest for the Windsock: Recovering a Phaulkonian Artifact, as Scribed by Lanoi the Cleric

"The Tent of the Night hides an unknown threat."

Following his conversion to the Phaulkonian faith by Alegra, while undertaking a
top-secret government venture in the mountains of Cromwell, Warwick, Principal Ranger
of Cromwell, became keenly interested in one of the Holy Quests that Alegra had often
mentioned. This Quest was the recovery of the paired artifact of Phaulkon known as the

The Windsocks were a powerful, but relatively minor, artifact of Phaulkon lost forty or so
years ago in the Darkwood (in the Northlands). The Windsocks took the form of two
indestructible stockings which when worn together had the
major power of being able to place a step wherever you wanted in the air. That is, the
Socks could be used to climb an imaginary staircase in the air to reach the roof of a high
cavern, or step higher to get a shot over a friend in combat,
or any number of other uses. There were other powers as well, but not a great number
of them. More importantly, the Socks were an important artifact that needed to be
recovered and brought back into the hands of Phaulkonians.

It was known from _Communes_ and other sources within the Church over the years
since their loss that the Socks had both left the Darkwood sometime afterward,
separately. One of them had shown up in the New World and had been
found by an adventurer who wished them to find their way into the hands of the
Phaulkonian Church, but needed money for his efforts. Unfortunately, at the time, the
Church was (as usual) low on resources and could not front the 10,000 gold pieces to
have the one Sock in hand. The adventurer was represented by an attorney in Dunthrane
City (Bimwiddle, who purports to provide "the only representation for non-Nevronians in
the land!") who maintained the offer at 10,000 gold pieces through the years.

Since Alegra was busy with other endeavors, Warwick sought to prove his willingness to
work on behalf of Church goals by finding the Windsocks. He gathered together the
Cromwellian STRanger Leon (2nd level), his trusty Druid
henchman Tristan (5th level), his new Phaulkonian Cleric henchman Lanoi (3rd level), his
friend Buck ("Weapon X"), several animals and provisions, and prepared to undertake
the Quest. Over months at the Observatory at the
Church in Hochoch, Lanoi undertook an astrology reading on the Quest in general. The
result was:

"Ill omens surround your journey. The tent of the night hides an unknown threat."

Warwick was not to be put off by "ill omens," and so they packed their things and
headed off to Dunthrane City to retrieve the known Windsock. (Warwick had to verify
beforehand that he in fact actually had the 10,000 gold, which he
did, but just barely).

Upon arrival in Dunthrane, Warwick and company (represented by the high charisma
Tristan), made an appointment with Bimwiddle, the attorney who represented the chap
who had found the Sock. After a few days, the group
was ushered in to speak to the lawyer. Over days of finger sandwiches and further
meetings, the story of Binkley the Cleric of Kor came to the front. Binkley had once been
a Cleric of Hindus, the god of thieves, who desired to
leave their organization. A successful search through this lawyer for other religions to
join, turned up the Korian faith. Binkley was received into the religion, but there was one
problem. Binklet had a substantial debt to the Church of Hindus, and so until he paid his
debts he could not come out of hiding. When Warwick purchased the Windsock for the
10,000 gold, Binkley was able to pay off his debts and so come out of hiding. Binkley
wanted to join Warwick & co. on any Quest to recover the other Sock, which after a
little bit of misunderstood dialogue, became abundantly clear. So, the group decided to
meet Binkley in Teft when they journeyed there for the start of their Quest. At that point
it would be decided if Binkley would be an appropriate addition to the team.

The lawyer pulled out the Sock from a drawer and handed it to Warwick. Warwick put
it on and could immediately sense the other sock somewhere far to the west. Later it
was discovered that when Lanoi the cleric wore it he could sense the weather for the
next 3 days. Alegra wore it once later on and could sense it for 8 days. It was clearly
level-driven for the Clerics who wore it.

On the way to Teft, the party was stopped by ogres. They were summarily slain and the
party journeyed on. Unfortunately, the party was now without horses, and so had to buy
them from the border guards on the Dunadorian Long Road. After a brief period of
embarrassment when the Dunadorian men-at-arms discovered that Warwick was a
member of the Cromwellian government, the horses were purchased, and the party
hurried on to make it in time for High Holy Day (Lanthalassa-te) on December 28 (until
January 3) in Teft. The party arrived about December 10 in Teft and met Binkley.

Binkley turned out to be a good guy, who you had the feeling had never adventured
before, even though that was clearly not the case. He said a lot of things like "Cool.
Wow, you guys must be big-time adventurers, or something. Neat!" He definitely
down-played himself, and he was easy to forget he was there, but he was good natured
and good company. He came and observed the services for High Holy Day.

Lanthalassa-te is the most important holiday of the Phaulkonian year, and one at which
worshippers and Clerics are ordained into special Orders most of the time (only under
unusual circumstances are ordinations into Orders performed
at other times of the year). So it was on these the Holiest days of the year, that Buck
was admitted into the Church, and that Warwick was ordained a member of the Order of
Light. As a Warder of Phaulkon, Warwick would be a defender of the Faith, a staunch
Quester, and a seeker of Truth and Liberty. To inaugurate his admission to the Order,
Warwick officially began his first Quest by displaying the one found Windsock and
declaring that he would find the missing one.

A mission of this importance couldn't be undertaken blind, and the High Priest of Teft
was plainly uncomfortable with letting the one Sock out into the world (and danger) in
order to find the other. But on the other hand, he didn't wish the Socks to be lost forever
as a pair, and so he helped as best he could. Previous information about the Holy
Hosiery :) had determined that Binkley was not an enemy of Phaulkon and that the
owner of the missing Sock knew its worth.

On High Holy Day, though, the answers were not forthcoming. It appeared that the
Sock had disappeared into an undivinable area when every question related to it was
"unanswerable." But an intriguing answer came with the news of the Ranger Marriott that
had come from Cromwell.

Marriott years ago had encountered a strange, old peddler in Cromwell while on a quest
for Rochester, the High Druid. This strange peddler man had offered Marriott a
"powerful good artifact - a stocking," and some things of personal value or importance to
Marriott if he would give him the staff he had recovered for Rochester. He had refused
and had gone on this way. The peddler had had a mule and a little cart, with a weird
little tent on the back of it. This tent immediately brought to mind the "tent of the night"
from the astrology reading, and so a Commune question was asked about the peddler
himself. When any information about him was unanswerable, it was clear that the
peddler and the Windsock were linked. But, there were two interesting points of
information that were perceived: it was a good idea to take Binkley on the quest
(Phaulkon said so!) and Warwick could still sense the whereabouts of the Sock, even
though the _Commune_ could not locate it.
After the conclusion of Lanthalassa-te, the Company headed out toward Cromwell,
where the Sock drew Warwick. At various stops along the way, Warwick fired off
letters to the Church in Teft letting them know of his progress, and this happened
throughout his Quest. While on his way, Warwick encountered an old friend and bounty
hunter named Targ, who was hunting some escaped criminals from a minimum security
prison fire that had recently happened. He didn't sound terribly excited about the job,
but he and Warwick talked shop for a few, before they both headed on their ways.
Warwick finally ended up just north of Chendyl, in the Furyondy region of Cromwell.
There, he observed a peddler stopped at a farm when the change in direction of the Sock
became rapid. He noted that the peddler's progress followed his sense of the Sock and
started to feel a sense of impending Danger (one of his granted powers) at his approach
to the peddler's wagon.

When Warwick got very close to the wagon, his sense of the Sock vanished entirely, and
this made him uneasy. The rest of the crew were nearby. Warwick asked about the
peddler's wares, and through a series of VERY subtle enquiries, the peddler produced
some odd socks from a compartment and in the stack was obviously the missing
Windsock. Though Lanoi and Warwick both thought about grabbing it and making a run
for it, they did not, based on the bad vibes they got about the whole deal. The peddler
stated that he sold to "only one buyer," and that for any item there was "one price and
one price only, to be
discussed only with the one buyer." At this, the rest of the group went away a bit, and
Warwick chatted calmly with the peddler.

After a few minutes, the peddler turned to his mule and headed off to the south, and
Warwick stood there a little bit angry and a little bit curious, but overall confused. The
party rejoined him, and he explained the situation.

The strange peddler man had made him an offer for the Windsock. He had stated that
because the Nevronians many years ago had destroyed the defenses and Phaulkonian
Temple at the artifact-location known as the Fane of the Winds in the Near Realm, that it
was time a balance be made for that transgression. He offered Warwick the means to
desecrate the Shrine of Nevron in retaliation for this attack. Warwick was certain that
the peddler had the means to do so, and that the peddler assured him that "Nevron
would never find out who did it." Needless to say, Warwick was a little thunderstruck by
this. The peddler was
unwilling to discuss any other price other than the "Ultimate Price," which was at the very
best slavery until death and at the very worst, eternal slavery. When Warwick was not
forthcoming, he headed on.

There was much discussion about the nature of the peddler. Was he a godling or weird
supernatural creature? Did he represent ultimate Justice? Perhaps ultimate Balance?
Was he just spreading anarchy? Perhaps ultimate Evil, pitting good people against one
another? The only obvious conclusion was that he did not represent Good and for
Warwick and company, that was the part that made the decision easy. Obviously there
would be no bargains on that scale, so how to get the Windsock?

It became obvious that Commander Gring at the Academy should know about this. A
man willing to travel the countryside and bargain to desecrate the Shrine was a dangerous
man to have in your country. Gring, a fanatical Nevronian, agreed with him. While
research was undertaken at the Academy to determine the nature of the peddler, other
news came in. Warwick had filled him in about the peddler's whereabouts when he had
found him. There was a strange coincidence there...

It seemed that the prison fire had perhaps been no accident, despite the indications. A
man escaped from the prison and was indestructible for a time. He killed many men and
wreaked havoc in the countryside. A prison guard who was killed wasn't the only one.
When the area where the peddler had stopped was investigated, it was found that the
prison guard's entire family had been sacrificed to some evil power in a series of vile
rites. Coincidence? We think not.

The research on the peddler came in. Orimaxes provided some interesting info. Many
stories provided hints of these in the distant past, but one trend he noted was their steady
progression eastward from the Realm over time. One in
recent history came not that long before, when a Nevronian Church Elder in Urnst(?)
found himself getting older. It seems he decided to slow the process after talking with a
strange peddler. Somehow, from the peddler, he ended up with a beautiful cane. The
Elder lived much longer than he should have, and then died. Upon his death, his library
of rare Nevronian tomes burned to the ground, and the cane disappeared. An Academy
Team blamed "supernatural forces" for the loss of the cane. And when Orimaxes sought
a way to extinguish the Black Flame when his child had joined the Cult, he discovered
that a very important source that he needed desperately had only existed in the library of
that Elder, and was now unavailable to his battle against the Cult. This perturbed
Orimaxes to no end. An interesting aside that he noted was also interesting. The Telvar
Bestiary (which he possessed, but did not appear to be cognizant of how it ended up in
his office) showed an interesting, and possibly related creature in the K'owei, or

Further research revealed that Dunstill and Illic had fought one in the Far World who was
trying to manipulate an evil artifact into the hands of Evil. They killed it, but it was very
difficult to kill. It seemed to have a number of "minor" spell abilities, and required highly
magic weapons to even affect the creature. It was magically resistant to a high degree. It
was determined based on all of this that Warwick and co. would follow it, since he had
the only means of actually following the peddler since the guy carried some sort of
anti-divining zone along with him ("the tent of the night").

So it was that Warwick, Warder of Phaulkon, and his stalwart compatriots kept moving
forward and followed the slinking evil peddler in his crossing of Cromwell.

On the way to Verbobonc, the party encountered a couple of things. A "lake pirate"
attack site with lots of dead humans and part-orcs. A ship had clearly been by, as had
the peddler. Doing a kind deed, the party took the time to bury the dead.... and
discovered that they had no souls even though they were dead very recently. This
alarming sign pointed to the peddler's evil
influence and some kind of sacrifice taking place. At a village further on, an old man in
the village was found dead next to the decomposed body of his long-dead grandson who
had been buried before. Though the grave was completely undisturbed, the grandson's
body had indeed been removed, which they discovered when they reinterred the body.
The priest in the village said that nothing about the burials were unusual (no soulless
burials) but this Monkey's Paw-like tale had the peddler's wheeling and dealing written all
over it. It was from this that the peddler became known as the "Cosmic Broker."
Indeed, the peddler had come through days before.

With the feverish pace of the peddler's deals (despite a 6" movement rate), Warwick
decided that they could not let this creature get away from them to ditch the Windsock so
he could not be followed. He let Gring know that he would continue to follow and that
he thought it imperative that they eliminate this threat to the country's people.

The peddler marched on towards Verbobonc, then skirted around it and headed towards
Hochoch. The party followed and they eventually passed him and went on to Hochoch.
When it became apparent that he was headed to the city, wherein lay a Phaulkonian
Church, the party schemed to attack the peddler. An urgent request was sent to Gring
for powerful and overwhelming force to kill the Broker.

Over the next 30 days or so, several heroes of Cromwell and Shabrund showed up with
devastating weapons. Marriott the Ranger, with +4 arrows; Todd; the dwarves Phage
and Tor; and Ybleth, a Cromwellian Paladin. This made the
magic number of 11, which had been fortold as a rising number of importance by a series
of astrologies. Also, the Phaulkonian Church in Hochoch agreed to be well back from
the combat to provide healing support where necessary.

Things were timed, and an ambush point was selected, with camouflage blinds and a neat
_stone-shaped_ rock cave from which Warwich would fire the first +4 targeted arrow to
begin the combat. Then, the group of powerful men waited
for the peddler to arrive and surprise him. Hopefully, the party could launch an
overwhelming attack before he could mount a defense. And if nothing else, the party
would hopefully recover the Windsock and maybe some other items even if we couldn't
defeat him. Of course, none of the party expected to lose, when so much power had
been gathered in one place.

Well, the group had every inclination to think they were right, but it didn't turn out how
they expected.

When the peddler stepped exactly into Warwick's point-black range (30'), he stopped,
turned to Warwick hidden in the rock, and tipped his hat (ESP!!). Warwick was
shocked by this, but he let fly his arrow nonetheless. The arrow stuck in the peddler, and
the attack began.

At that same instant, the entrance and attack hole to Warwick's blind were sealed with a
_Stoneshape_ effect, and he was trapped inside.

The invisible fighters, including Leon, charged the wagon, while Marriott moved into
position to fire his arrow. Lanoi grabbed the pitchfork and moved around behind to try
to grab the Windsock and anything else he could pull off the cart, while the battle raged in
front of him. Leon fired at the mule, in case it was some associate of the creature's and
also in order to stop him from
getting away with the wagon. Buck picked up Phage's second spear (Phage was
wielding Seeker, the +4 anti-chaotic spear) and hurled it.

At this point, the Broker clearly saw the charging invisible fighters, and unleashed an
incredibly devastating _Fireball_ to encompass the whole group, himself, and the mule.
The mule and Leon were killed instantly. The peddler was obviously completely
unaffected by the blast, though the wagon began to catch fire. The other warriors were
sorely injured, but they valiantly came on anyway.

The rakshasa was hard to hit (at an AC of about -7), and the +3 weapons did only half
damage when they hit. The heroes facing him had an extremely difficult time hitting, even
though they were excellent warriors with superior weapons.

Lanoi attempted to pull stuff out of the wagon. When he triggered the second trap, he
collapsed in a heap and was out of the battle. Tristan dragged him away.

Lightning bolt, magic missile, and other 2-segment innate abilities continuously went off.
The party was rapidly being annihilated. Every once in awhile, the party would do some
damage, but it was not that significant. Eventually, the peddler, who was chuckled
continuously throughout the encounter, started to climb into the back of the wagon from
his seat, and
reach for magic items. When he became injured enough, his true form was revealed. A
huge man-tiger, orange and very tall, snarling with his fanged mouth at the party. At last
the astrology about the color orange had come true...

He turned the dwarf Phage, along with Seeker, into stone. Tor struck several times with
his battleaxe, was downed, healed, and then downed again. Buck and Marriott tossed
Phage's secondary (+3) spear several times before finally connecting. Buck was
knocked unconscious as he tried to levitate above the Rakshasa and perform a kamikaze
manuever. When the rakshasa
killed the Paladin Ybleth, the Paladin's horse took off at top speed towards the town.
Binkley then used his thief abilities, since he was a half-elven multiclass thief, with a
magical shortsword, to attack the beast. He successfully struck it, but did not last long in
the face of its wrath. This left standing Marriott, who didn't have a weapon which could
affect it. He began pulling the +4 arrows out of the creature and firing them at him.
Unfortunately, it was also doing damage to him. When he damaged the thing, it began to
look close to death. He then grabbed for one of the magical weapons on the ground, a
+1 short sword which could hit anything, and it sprang into his hand. But by now, the
rakshasa had seen that he could not win. So, he used a flame effect to destroy his
magical tent, and then vanished, his clothes collapsing to the ground as Marriott

At the end of the battle, three of the five heroes were dead, one was stone, one alive.
The original party had Warwick, uninjured but trapped in the cliff face, Buck, who was
healed up to consciousness, Lanoi, who was paralyzed but okay, Tristan, who was
uninjured, Binkley, who was dead, and Leon, who was not only dead, but unraisable
since he had taken about 75 hp of damage from the _Fireball_ with only 20-something
hitpoints himself!

Amidst the wagon, several impressive items were recovered, though some were lost
forever. Found were a Regeneration scroll, a Resurrection scroll, the Circlet of the
White Mages, the Windsock, an Elixir of Youth, an Amulet of
the Fates, a Tome of the Elder Warrior, a Potion of Glorious Might, and some other
stuff, including gold and gems.

At the close of the adventure, the fates of the warriors involved were unknown (were
they successfully raised or not? would Leon want to be reincarnated or not?). With
great cost, and without defeating the primary enemy, the Windsocks were once again
claimed and brought together by a Phaulkonian Quest. But on the other hand, I'm sure
Gring's not that happy with the outcome.

The End, for now.

--Lanoi (Kyle)