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Defenders Log Entry #15: In Over Our Heads

Felix, 2nd level fighter, 24 hp, played by Alex
Drew, 2nd level ranger, 19 hp, played by committee (mainly Alan this time)
Tyveris, 2nd level cleric, 12 hp, played by Joel
Quentin, 2nd level druid, 10 hp, played by Jeremy
Morgan, 2nd level fighter, 9 hp, played by Alan
Perry, 1st level thief, 6 hp, played by Sean

The word for tonight was: absurd.

The party was dead on so many occasions, it's sickening to think about it. Keep in mind while reading this: our party consists of five 2nd level characters (no mage), and one 1st level thief. Just to put things in perspective before your eyes pop out reading this.

When we had last left our stressed party, we had just arrived at the beach and marched into the headhunters' camp, rescued Morgan, and returned to Kailin's hut for a night's rest.

Nothing happened, and we decided it was time to discover the dagger's abilities. We began a series of careful tests, and determined that it would support the person holding the dagger and allow him to breathe and will himself to move underwater at high speeds, and everyone within a 10' radius gained the ability to breathe underwater.

We made our fatal mistake with our final test. Quentin cast a _Speak with Animals_ on a fish-- which just droned about how he was so powerful. Figuring that dolphins were more intelligent and would probably be more helpful, Quentin attempted to call a dolphin using the dagger. He immediately sensed that he had done something terribly wrong, and was thereafter chased by some very angry dolphins back to shore.

He went back out and tried to communicate but got clobbered by a bottlenose hit, but managed to stop them from killing him long enough to explain how sorry he was for attempting to "enslave" a dolphin with the evil dagger. The dolphin explained that they could sense the dagger's presence from far away. If we could kill Brinea, all would be forgiven.

The trouble was, explained the dolphin, that everyone who saw Brinea died instantly. She was a sea witch. Drew recognized the description as that of a sea hag. Sea hags are immune to almost all spells and most weapons of significant magical power. Furthermore, they are so ugly that they have a medusa-like gaze attacks that kills instantly.

Ha ha, he he, ho ho.

We were dead meat.

But could things get worse? Yes, indeed.

We returned to Kailin's hut and hung around for a few hours, when Drew suddenly noticed TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CRABS EVERYWHERE. Kailin patiently explained that this was the sign of a demand for sacrifice from Brinea.

At this point, hysteria broke out. Kailin took Morgan and hid him in a shed, and the rest of the party set off for the beach near the portal, hoping it would open before we all died.

Typically the portal opens around 3 AM, but it was 8 PM when the Lurker in the Shallows attacked. Drew first caught sight of the ugly octopus, and we retreated inland.

Kailin came running up to us, and calmly explained that the headhunters were likely 15 minutes behind him, with about a hundred strong war party coming to kill us and sacrifice us. Kailin wished us good luck and waved goodbye, explaining that Morgan would be safe for one night. He then said that out of respect for us, he wouldn't eat the meal.

Well, our heads nearly fell off at this point. We decided on our last option-- take to the sea in hopes of finding Brinea or at least making it to the portal.

As soon as we entered the water, we spotted the lurker about 200 feet off. Felix waved the dagger and told it to back off.

It doubled it's speed toward us.

We hastily fled out of the water, about 40 feet inland, just barely out of reach of the snapping tentacles.

To take stock, our options were:

1. Fight the lurker in the water.
2. Fight a hundred barbarians.
3. Fight a sea hag who caused instant death.
4. Commit suicide.
5. Keep running.

Beyond hysteria, we decided that with absolutely nothing to lose, we had to find and kill Brinea to get out of this mess. Well, that would certainly be trivial for a 1st and 2nd level party.

Having no idea which way to go, Felix demanded to know where Brinea was, from the evil relic dagger. It responded:

"I have been questioned unjustly." Felix's skin turned pale and started rotting rapidly. He fell over, saying, "I'm dying!" The dagger chuckled and said, "Whenever you're ready."

Quentin and Tyveris both threw _Cure Light Wounds_ spells, in time to save him, but not in time to stop the double rotting wound from removing 2 hp permanently.

But at least the dagger would take us to Brinea now.

We marched into the water and began trekking across for hours. This was one of the more interesting experiences I've had in Telvar. We became only the second party ever to set up camp underwater! We even thought about rememorizing spells, but given that that could only be done holding the dagger, praying with the evil artifact seemed unwise.

So we slept for about five hours and continued travelling. We saw land to the northwest, and headed there, expecting to be at the Singing Cliffs. Sure enough, we could hear the faint humming sound from everywhere. Hastily we put on our bandanna earmuffs we had made and climbed out.

While arguing about where to go next, Felix and Perry failed to notice the two harpies streaking toward the hapless party.

Oh boy.

Felix and Perry both became abruptly zombielike and started climbing up the cliffside, clearly preparing to jump to their deaths, as Kailin said was common among visitors to the Singing Cliffs.

Fortunately, everyone else was covered and did not get entranced. Unfortunately, Felix was walking away with the dagger, which was our only chance of getting to safety. Of course, since the two harpies had cut us off from the water, we were presumed dead anyway.

But Quentin had the dagger attached to his belt by twine for just such an occasion. He ran after Felix and attempted to wrest it from him. Felix attacked back and nearly dropped Quentin ( damage, Quentin had 9 hp) at the time. Cursing, Quentin withdrew. Perry disappeared into the higher cliffs.

At the same time, Drew nocked and fired an arrow, scoring a direct maximum damage point blank hit on the tougher harpy, who took the damage with no noticeable effect. But the harpy managed to claw Drew twice, pulling his bandanna off, and forcing Drew to drop his bow to avoid being entranced.

At that moment, Tyveris' Command spell went off. Incredibly, the tough harpy dropped dead out of the sky, bounced off a rock, and landed upside down in the water, clearly dead.

Whoo hoo!

The other harpy scooped up Drew's bow before he could react and dumped it on the rocks below. Tyveris attempted another spell, but this time it failed. He drew out his good hammer. The harpy came around for another pass, and Drew managed to injure it with his staff, but Tyveris fumbled and slipped and fell down the cliff side, suffering minor damage and losing his hammer.

Quentin completed his _Flame Blade_ and ran down to help the beleagured party members. Tyveris got up quickly and drew his backup hammer, this time inflicting damage. Unfortunately the harpy pulled at his bandanna forcing him to drop his hammer again and leaving Tyveris badly injured, though still clearly worried about him as the major threat.

On the return, Quentin slammed it with his flame blade and lit some of its feathers on fire. It reared around for another pass and struck again. This time both Drew and Quentin hit, and the flame blade inflicted a flame wound, and the harpy ignited. Attempting to plow into Tyveris for the killing blow, it missed and plowed into the ground in a ball of flame, quite dead.

Felix and Perry awoke from their stupor. In the nest of the harpies we destroyed some eggs, and recovered 4 gems, one magical!

How we could have lost NO ONE in that fight is still inexplicable to me.

We spell-shifted through the night and brought the party back to full life the next morning. We set out back toward the grotto we had noticed earlier yesterday, before the harpy incident. This was where the dagger had been pointing us, and we walked inside, Perry leading the way. Expecting a death gaze, but needing one person able to see, Perry valiantly volunteered not to be blindfolded, figuring that he would be least useful in a combat.

We walked through a dark cavern with a visibility of only about 20 feet, and saw weird red and blue light coming from ahead. We entered a room from the bottom of a pool about 25 feet deep. On the far end was something we could scramble up, and we did so.

Perry was the first up, and suddenly we were all face to face with the figure of Captain Nbod!

We were still suspicious and all of us were still blindfolded except Perry. Nbod said that he was able to appear as a physical image on this side, and that the killings in Benct did not have to occur. To end the curse, all we had to do was lay the dagger on the chest, and return it to its rightful owner.

Off to the side lay the cutlass Horizon Line, Nbod's astoundingly powerful weapon, with which he had slain Brinea originally.

We explained patiently that we couldn't get out without swimming and would have to wait until the portal opened. Nbod explained that the portal would probably open tonight, and that when they worked it in fact opened with a command word from the sword. This was no longer the case.

We presented our suggestion: we would wait until the evening, assuming that Brinea was still busy killing all the headhunters for the defying her and failing to capture us. When the portal opened, we would all go in except Quentin, who would place the dagger on the chest and then swim in.

Nbod walked up to Perry, and said, "This would be quite reasonable."

He paused. "IF I WERE NBOD!"

Instantly Brinea's true form was revealed. A long skeletal arm shot out and strangled Perry, snapping his neck instantly. Expecting this unfortunate event, Felix was already reeling in the dagger from Perry. Drew and Tyveris jumped at Brinea and tried to overbear her, but she was incredibly strong.

Tyveris locked a grip around her head, but her arm caught Drew solidly. Drew choked for a few segments, and then he died as well. Desperately, Tyveris held on to her from behind. Felix swung and connected solidly with the dagger, which turned out to be +6 vs. sea creatures! He injured her, but not nearly enough. The arm snaked out and choked him.

Quentin had initially cast _Flame Blade_ and swung viciously at Brinea. Sadly, the weapon passed right through her. On an inspiration, Quentin dove for the sword Horizon Line (it was a scimitar, which he is proficient with).

Felix took one final stab and managed to wound Brinea. Seconds later he was strangled to death. That left Tyveris and Quentin.

Tyveris held on for dear life, but Brinea finally managed to grab him as Quentin approached with Horizon Line. Tyveris stood long enough to watch Quentin miss. Then he collapsed as well, alive but bleeding to death.

Quentin was grabbed but managed to hold on long enough for a final swing.

He missed, and was killed.

Incredibly, Brinea fell dead on top of him two segments later, having bled to death from the wound Felix had inflicted with his dying breath.

Eight minutes later, Tyveris bled to death, sealing the fate of the party.

* * *

Fortunately, all was not lost. Sadly, Nbod's actual ghost had killed five Benct citizens, including the maid who cleaned his room. At point the Church officials arrived to begin the _Exorcism_, which went off successfully. A party of 7th level adventurers entered the portal and killed all the headhunters, saving the once again captured and paraplegic Morgan.

Then they dodged the harpies, though it took two tries, and ventured further into the cave. They found all of our bodies and hauled them through the portal, along with Nbod's treasure.

The Nevronians cast _Speak with Dead_ on Tyveris, asking him if he wished to be _Raised._ He did, but tragically, he failed his resurrection survival roll (96% chance) and died permanently.

However, the rest of the party was successfully _Raised_ incurring huge debts. However, there are a HUGE number of sticky details to be worked out, but in the final analysis we came out ahead.

Items we picked up:

1. Magic gem (still don't know what this does)
2. Horizon Line (a Defender!!!-- +3 to AC AND +3 to hit)
3. Compass
4. Bag of Holding

And we may be able to obtain the Bracers that Zune had.

We may trade Horizon Line for the ability to train the large number of levels that are likely coming to the surviving party members.

Jack, Drew is astoundingly lucky-- he made every key role and continues his permanent damage-free streak. Quentin and Morgan managed to get away with none as well, though Felix had lost the 2 hp. Perry was fine.

Wow! I'm still feeling quite disappointed in the horribly untimely death of Tyveris, but aside from that it was a... bizarre and absurd adventure. I must say, having learned what happened, I'm amazed we managed to do that-- achieve the ritual tie! Of course, since we're alive and Brinea is not, I guess we think of it as a victory.

Of course, the five deaths in Benct are not making us a winners there, but we DID clear the ghost out and figured out the room. And the treasure that was recovered is massive enough to make this actually worth it for many involved.

Well, that was a fantastically climactic ending to a long adventure, and I'm proud of our victory. I think, overall, that was far more than I would have expected a 2nd level party to deal with.

Now, perhaps it's time to slay some gnolls...

I'm currently contemplating rejoining with a new woodsman...

Joel/ Darellon/ Tyveris
Log Supplement VIII: Yet More Terrifying Situations

I forgot to mention some other interesting incidents during our adventure:

The tens of thousands of crabs were in fact following us everywhere, every time we moved. Typically they don't go in for line dancing, but frankly this looked pretty bad. Interestingly, Morgan was paraplegic at the time and didn't even notice them crawling all over him until Felix pointed it out. At which point Morgan yelled, "Ew! Get them off me!"

Morgan has declared that he will never nap again.

Party confidence had definitely set record lows with the headhunters converging on us from one side, the lurker tentacles snapping at us from another, crabs everywhere, and Felix convulsing and rotting on the ground. The fact that we managed to pull it together enough to make a coherent decision still amazes me. This was really only our second banzai action (in my opinion the first was when Darellon, Morgan, and Ethan charged the bandit fortress). Both have had amazing results.



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