Elements of Apocalypse

Big rock pool shot makes me a geometry wizard
Turns out elf dancing is normal dancing

Constable found us in the quarry, I would have thinked he was following us but that can’t be because he didn’t come in until after the fight was over. He sure was tired after walking down into a cave and then back home. I think he would not make a good group member. We walk a lot. But we stopped all the bad guys and the big bad guy ran away. We win you lose.

All of my practice picking up money paid off. I found a whole Mirabar talon on the ground. That’s worth like five thousand copper pieces. I had this weird feeling that it might not land in my bag when I threw it but I shrugged that off and no problem. I am so great.

That wasn’t all I found either! There was floating rocks and I could push them. They weren’t heavy even though they were so big. Dwarven rocks are too heavy for pushing. Red Larch must have hollow rocks. I bet my sister would find that funny . Maybe if I can get home I can tell her about the hollow rocks. Then they would know why all the buildings here are short.

The hollow rocks didn’t even do anything. Dumb to have all these hollow rocks and then there’s no secrets or hiding spot. Grund and constable man said something about the future telling but no one can tell the future. They said I wouldn’t be caught but I was.

Missed Grund at the tavern. He had the best jokes and never tried to trick me. Maybe we’ll see him tomorrow. And Globo got us some steaks. Nicely done halfman. Common is a funny language you can make jokes that aren’t jokes. Pun I think. Fun.

Oh! Dusty made friends with a loud drunk guard-lady there and she told us about a caravan. Said it was from Malibar! I want to go look at it for Hali. She was nice to me and nice is nice. Dusty also wants to go so maybe we’ll all go together. That will be more fun. I can hide in the woods while Dusty and I tell stories on the way. I don’t know what to look for when I find the caravan. Funny that she just wanted me to find a bunch of dead people.

The beer at the bar was ok just be because it’s been so long. I didn’t have a beer at all after we found hands-man. That’s his name now because he had all those hands we found. Nice to be back in town. I feel more comfortable around the buildings now. I used to feel better in the caves but I don’t know about these forests. Towns are like small caves if you stay near walls and you can surprise people just like the crannies in the old tunnels. I just wish they made better beer. I don’t have time to make my own and the water smells heavy.

Eiio was more talkative, which is good. Seems to have recovered from the bop on his head and I made it through a rest safe and sound. I think we’re going to be great friends. I think he dances really pretty. He went real quiet when he started dancing and didn’t say nothing for the rest of the night. Globo though. He dances like an blacksmith who forgets he has an axe. People get mad when I dance with daggers even if it makes nice swooshing noises so I just leave them alone now.

I think tomorrow will be fun. I better get more paper since I write big enough to make sure anyone can read my book.

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Dusty's Journal Day 12,818
Bringers of Whoa

Dusty’s Journal Day 12,818

Led by Dusty, the party delved further into the caves beneath the quarry. They found a young boy. Though frightened, he was persuaded by Dusty’s power to describe the villains, their vile deeds, and the layout of the cruel place. He hinted to an Orc guard, who turned out to be a fan of Bard Name. Perhaps he’s heard the Bard’s songs of Dusty, or maybe it was something about pickles. The Orc led us deep into a fearsome fight (skeletons again?!). Dusty’s might proved fearsome for the foe, who had to gird himself with magic and flee. Only by foul magics against fair Dusty did the fiend escape to live another day.

Dusty’s private notes:

Missed a day in the journal. Just one day. It seems like more, but those were Grandpa’s days. When I tell his tales, I’m careful. I weave in details to humanize him, the sort of details besotted Leah would never record (doors? pits?). But Grandpa was no simple man. He sought no simple deed, nor quarry. His days would carry a thousand stories. And his treasure, hoarded by my fretting parents, would carry me through a thousand years and the weight of my desire besides. Ungrateful villagers. I’ll show them all. (By saving them all).

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New dagger stab stab
Where do all the mages run?

I wrote a song for friend Grund. He showed us the floating rock room. Floating rocks. I thought all rocks were heavy.

Pickles are delicious
Grund is big
Maces hurt
Smash and smash

I think this will be famous like Dusty said my songs will be. Maybe family takes songs as artifacts if they are sung in pubs. Maybe they will date silly light dagger? I don’t know stories of any light daggers. Probably not. I like it. It has nice colours and is really sharp.

We also met a boy. I forget his name. He was scared but that’s ok. We all get scared sometimes. My sister told me we learn when scared so I can get scared a lot. Like when the magic people fight. That’s scary. Eiio and Demora don’t like magic people (KABOOM). But I can fix all the problems just like mommy showed me. I need to teach Grund how; he didn’t to it right. He pushed on cuts instead. Silly. What will pushing do?

Boy lied though. This town is a bad town. Missing people. Dead people trying to hurt friends. Now scary metal face man hurts friends real bad. Dad would say he needs to learn a lesson. I’m a big boy now. I can teach him about lessons. Maybe he will give me artifact for learning.

I guess we go back to Red Larch. It was nice being in tunnels again.

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Name and Grund
Friends forever

The adventurers stood, surround by corpses of man and rodent as Dusty regaled them with another exciting, if poorly timed, tale of his grandfather Rusty saddlebags. As the story drew to a close, they decided that it might be a prime opportunity to continue to explore. That is, everyone except Globo. Who, despite pleas from Dusty and Name, felt the need to chase his own dragons once again.

Leaving him, the rest of the party moved on to a chamber with a small stone floating in mid air. Dramora stepped forward and pushed it until it suddenly fell to the ground with a crash. Now that all they had was a decidedly boring stone on the ground, the group decided to press on.

Passing through a heavy stone door that Dusty opened with pride, they found a small room with a reconstructed statue of a dwarf standing at the center. Striking a pose, Name showed that all dwarves do, in fact, look the same. In front of the statue they found a small stack of treasure and a dagger with Reszur engraved on the pommel. Speaking its name caused the blade to emit a faint light. Name decided to check if it could be triggered over and over again, and was as pleased to find that it could be. Dramora teased her friend by triggering the magic while it was attached to his belt.

Heading East, towards the entrance, they found young boy pinned under stones. He pleaded to be set free. After some debate on the potential danger of eleven year-old boys, Dramora and Dusty insisted on freeing him from his makeshift prison. Once freed, and rehydrated from a water skin, the boy explained that he was being punished by his father, Rotharr Hatherhand and they mustn’t tell his father he’d been freed early.

As he spoke, slowly recovering from his imprisonment, Eiio appeared suddenly from the darkness with a shout, causing to boy to shrink back in fright. He attempted to flee, but was held by Dusty long enough to inform the party of a group called the Believers that listened to the “message of the stones.” He also mentioned a priest that had recently joined the group and that he feared. With that, Dusty released his arm and he ran off towards the cave entrance, sliding deftly between the fallen cage and the wall.

The group turned back, determined to find out what was going on under the town. As the delved deeper they found themselves confronted by a familiar face. Grund, the half-orc they had met in the market was surprised to find his friend Name deep under the town. He had been asked to watch the door into the chamber beyond, but he decided that his friend Name was definitely not the sort of person he was supposed to stop.

Together, Name and Grund pushed open the door and revealed a large stone chamber. In the center sat a lit lantern, which illuminated a several stones floating slightly off the floor. Some lay on their sides, others stood as arches. Dramora, listening for the sounds of wind, stepped in the room and up to the lantern. In the darkness the soft sounds of incantation were heard and Dramora had to quickly sidestep a bubble of acid.

A well armored priest appeared from the darkness and informed them that they could not be allowed to leave this place. With a second incantation he summoned forth a terrible noise that knocked Eiio immediately unconscious. Dusty, already dreaming of the songs that would be sung of this moment, dashed into the room to dispatch the fiend.

At first, it looked as though the priest could not stand up to the blows of Dusty’s mighty sword Nameless, but the sorcerer had more tricks up his sleeve. Though bloody and weakened, he summoned a magical shield to absorb Dusty’s blows and, holding out his hand and pulsing with power, slowed time to a crawl for those around him. While Dusty struggled to finish him, pushing forward as though stuck in thick fluid, the sorcerer gave himself incredible speed and disappeared into the darkness.

The group had no time to lament losing the sorcerer however, as they were immediately set upon by an unfortunately named group of bandits called the Bringers of Woe. The sound of loosed strings rang out in the darkness and Dramora fell to the ground, struck down by her natural enemy, crossbow bolts. Meanwhile, Eiio teetered on the edge of death, as though nearing the embrace of an old friend. He may have passed on the Raven Queen if not for the heroic actions of his friend Name. Name, knowing that only his medical skills (and kisses) could keep the drow in the material realm, ignored the bandits and snuck through the shadows to his friend’s side.

Once he knew Eiio would survive, whether he wanted to or not, he returned to deal with the bandits, alongside Dusty and the surprisingly robust Grund. Together they quickly dealt with the Bringers of Woe.

Just as the group settled down to help their wounded teammates, they heard the sound of footfalls in the hallway. As they prepared to raise their weapons once more they recognized the short steps of their wayward friend Globo. “Did I miss anything?” he asked. “Nothing at all,” was all Name could reply.

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The Darkness Below Red Larch
Some drow just need a little nap time

Having defeated Oreioth, the evil necromancer lurking near Lance Rock, the party paused only briefly to bask in the warmth of the mid morning sun before beginning their trek back to Red Larch.

Along the way, as Name practiced his hiding (“Can you see me? I have lots of opinions to give.”), they were struck by a sudden storm that vanished as quickly as it came. Ever sharp Dramora realized that this was no act of nature, but an disquieting indication that the elements were unbalanced.

Troubled but determined not to be waylaid, the group returned to Red Larch and found the town busy with farmers displaying their wares at the marketplace. It was clear the town had seen no sign of the storm that struck them along the road.

Never one to forget promised wages, Name stalked straight to the Swinging Sword to get the reward they had been promised by Kaylessa Irkell, the proprietor. Though she tried to convince the dull dwarf she’d promised just 25 gp, he has a remarkably (suspiciously?) good memory when it comes to money and she was forced to give him the full 50 gp owed. As she parted with the money she spoke of suspicious characters moving about the town this market day. “Mark my words, there’s something going on in this town, just like there was at Lance Rock.” she whispered to the party. “I want some chicken,” Globo whispered back.

Shocked, most of the party decided to brook no delay and headed straight to the marketplace, with only a short trip to the armorer’s along the way. Eiio, ever the prince, took the opportunity to rest and recover his magical energies.

The rest of the group met the armorer Feng Ironhead, a half-orc who was only too happy to provide them with a dwarven sized chain shirt and some splint mail, in exchange for their previous armor and much of the gold they’d acquired from the “Lord of Lance Rock.”

Finally, the party found themselves at the marketplace, where Name and Dramora met a simple half-orc who introduced himself as Grund. He had pickles of all varieties and became fast friends with Name. Globo finally found someone to sell him a chicken.

Meanwhile Dramora managed to catch a glimpse of a few figures eyeing them through the throng of market goers. Moving quickly and as stealthily as possible, they followed them back to the Mellikho Stoneworks, the quarry towards the edge of town.

There they found a mine that dug deep into the ground. After retrieving Eiio (and suffering a chill touch for their troubles!) they descended into the darkness. Eiio pausing for a moment to summon his familiar and say, “I could’ve sworn I used to be better at seeing in the dark.”

As the cave descended, it also opened into a large cavern. The walls transitioned from rough hewn earth to smooth stone and, in time they found themselves before a large door. The party readied itself for an awful challenge, as they’d heard the stories of Rusty Saddlebags, and they knew that doors were the one true enemies of groups of adventures. Dusty and Name combined their strength and pulled on the door, which slammed open with a crash as they met little resistance. They paused, confused but pleased by their skills, before entering the long hallway they had opened.

Name, having learned (suspiciously?) quickly from the trap of falling rocks, was wary of traps in the hallway. His diligence was rewarded as he found a series of iron cages suspended against the ceiling. Though he warned his adventured friends, Dusty was flush from his recent conquest of the Door and strode forward confidently. His confidence flickered for the briefest instant as he was slammed to the ground by the cage crashing down, however he was soon freed again.

While the cage blocked the path forward, two doors carved with dwarves lead to the left and right. After finding a dead end to the right, and carefully checking it for illusions, they proceeded up the left fork. After a few twists and turns they found came upon a room with two corpses, mostly stripped of their flesh. The sound of scurrying feet and crunching of flesh gave them warning before they were set upon by five giant rats. Fortunately, the rats proved no match for Dusty’s sword and Name and Globos combined acrobatics. Eiio spent a little time convinced he’d figured out how to send skeletal hands through walls, but it turned out it was just the effect of the grain alcohol he’d drank back at Lance Rock.

Now the party stands, and as the last rat lets out its dying squeal silence descends on the cave once more. Silence, save for the sound of Globo chewing on a drumstick. “This is good chicken.”

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Dusty's Journal Day 12,816

For Name’s Log:

Once the wounded weary wizards woke, Dusty bravely led the party back into the evil lair under Lance Rock. There, they chased down a wicked wizard who had been raising the dead to vile purpose. He tried to pelt us pitifully with stones. When we cornered him at last, Dusty gripped his grandfather’s glinting blade, and sliced the necromancer through.

Dusty’s inner musings:
- Stupid crossbow!
- Eiio is totally a necromancer Dark Elf Prince. And he turned his dark arts against our common foe! Squeeee! Swoon.
- Dromora calls the lightening against evil!
- Name is a gentle soul, but is one surprisingly nimble dwarf
- Globo is addicted… to adventure!

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Power move: both swords at the SAME TIME!
Haha, stab stab

Everyone listened to me! I’m so happy I could sing! Sister told me not to sing because it tells people where I am so I kept quiet. Eiio said he didn’t want to go back into the cave but he ran so far ahead once we were inside. He wanted to go but said he didn’t? I think going alone is dangerous after what happened to him. I hope everyone sticks together next time. I don’t know what to do when Dusty is yelling and I’m scared for Eiio and Dramora. They are squishy. Dusty is lonely.

Skew-ish-ee haha. Squishy hood-man couldn’t catch me but I caught him! I think he was watching when we almost found artefacts. Rocks dropped from the ceiling but I got out of the way. No problem. Then we saw him on the roof! Funny human, that’s a bad place to hide. Your arms get tired. After Dramora pointed him out with that blue magic string I climbed up and got him down. That seemed to make Dusty and Globo happy. Falling hurts though so not all the time.

All those old smelly people walking, though. He didn’t seem like a nice human. Maybe the nice tavern lady will know he and his friends were so mean.

I didn’t get anything. The ball is pretty but did nothing fancy. None of the council would be impressed with that. We already have lights. I guess more money means I can get armor like Dad.

This group isn’t so bad. The Globo is funny, Dusty reminds me of Dad trying to help people. The elfs are quiet, but do fancy magics. I don’t know why dark one keeps lying.

I can’t wait for more ale.

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Memories Become Legend
The Rusty Saddlebags Saga

The fire cracks and pops and Dramora warms her hands much closer than anyone is comfortable with. As his allies heal, Dusty begins to recount a tale of the past, of the indomitable Rusty Saddlebags, hero to some, hero to others.

As they rest, the weary heroes are drawn into a tale of woe at a keep called Darnstall, nestled in the Spine of the World. The first snow of the season falls slowly and silently outside the barred windows of the prison as the half-elven bard Lia magically spins a sad song of false imprisonment for her sweet Rusty and their trusty dwarven friend Flint.

Eventually, after the snow has fallen, melted and fallen again, they find themselves dragged before old king Ansellus. He looks at them with a certain weariness and says “My guards are about done with that song of yours young bard, but I can see that you’ll not stop playing while you sit in my dungeons.” Adjusting his position on his throne, he yells over his shoulder, "Eberk, step forward "

A stout dwarf, still young for his kind but clearly toughened by years of combat, steps forward and bows. The king watches him for a moment, pensive, then shifts his gaze back to the prisoners. “I’ve found a way for you to make amends for your crimes. Eberk here will take you to the sword mountains” he says, " to the very tip of Kalgan peak. There you will recover a treasure for me. " For a moment, the king’s impassive features are overtaken by a hint of greed, but it vanishes as quickly as it appeared.

“A treasure was stolen from me long ago, and I’ve heard that it is hidden in an old tomb on the mountain. If you recover it for me, your crimes will be forgotten” he says.

“Of course” says Rusty, “you can count on us!”

“I can count on Eberk,” the king corrects, “I have means of tracking him and he’ll not let you out of his sight. See that he comes to no harm or my agents will find you, no matter how far you travel. Now begone”

With that, the prisoners and their reluctant companion are given rudimentary supplies and thrust from the keep. They travel south towards the Sword Mountains. Along the way, Eberk learns that Lia and Rusty are more than mere travelling companions, and that Flint is an evangelical cleric for Ola. He decides not to get too close, these prisoners will likely fail at their quest, as many others have before them. He just hops he can find a way to return from this trip, and wonders why the king chose him out of all the guards.

After two days of travel, they stand at the base of a chain of mountains, their peaks capped with snow. A rough path leads around and up the base of the nearest mountain. The weather, which had remained clear and warm, suddenly shifts, and a blizzard envelopes them on the face of the mountain. They press on in search of shelter, and find it, though not in the way they expected. As they trudge along the path in the quickly deepening snow, Rusty slips and falls suddenly, leaving nothing but a flurry of snowflakes behind. Without hesitation Lia dives after him, and Flint, smiling, follows a moment later.

Shocked, Eberk steps up the hole and peers down, he can’t have lost them so easily. The king trusted him to track them and he decides that that is what he will do. He ruefully throws himself over the side of the hole… and lands softly in a conveniently placed pile of dirt.,There he sees that Lia has wasted no time in dusting off at least some parts of Rusty’s armor, . though from the amount on his face and in his hair he appears to have had a rough landing.

To one side there is a small hallway, and at the end a round stone door. Working together, the dwarves manage to roll it to the side, revealing a room lit with a pale blue glow.

Entering, they find a large stone chamber, split by a watery pool spanned by a broken bridge. The door on the far side of the room closes as they enter. While the dwarves examine the stonework and try to make sense of the room Rusty finds a large stone disc sunken in the watery pool. Brave as always, he asks that Lia help him lift it.

Lifting the disc proves difficult but Rusty manages to lift it a crack, into which the pool of water immediately begins to flow. In seconds, he and Lia are swallowed for the second time in as many hours. Flint, ever loyal throws himself into the water and dives into the hole to follow them. Eberk hesitates for a moment, the draining of the pool having opened the door to freedom. He sighs, and jumps in.

When he arrives at the other end of the pipe he finds that Rusty has landed atop some sort of fish monster, and Flint is trapped on the far side of another. Fortunately, they’ve all dealt with worse, and the fish are soon gutted as the small chamber fills with a vile stench.

With no other option, they continue deeper into the chamber where they find an old check inlaid with golden runes. Eberk attempts to open it, but finds it locked. As he pulls again Lia makes a strange sound, and the check rings with a clear knocking. It pops open. Within a sceptre inlaid with three stones gleams in the meager torchlight.

“I actually found it” Eberk says, awed.

“Wait!” exclaims Rusty, “You know that we can’t bring this back to the king.” Eberk raises his head sharply, but lets Rusty continue, “you’re young dwarf, but not so young that you can’t remember what this did to him… last time.” A moment of shock passes across Eberk’s face, but he hangs his head just as quickly. For most of his life, he’s known nothing but obedience to the king that spared him, but he had to admit that he may not have needed sparing had the king not commanded the magic needed to invade their caverns, to seize control of their lands.

After a long pause he finally says, “you are right of course, this is an abomination, we cannot return it to his hands.” He stands to hand the sceptre to Rusty and starts as he sees the flickering watery form shimmering over his shoulder.

“Of course,” Dusty concludes with a teasing grin, “that’s a story for a another time.”

“Sounds like Rusty falls in a lot of holes,” says Globo, his eyes glazed by the side effects of his “medicine.”

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Dusty Journal
Day 12,815

For Name’s Anthology of Adventures:

Another day of fierce fights and great feats!
Dusty plunged into the heart of the enemy’s lair with his burgeoning band of companions. He defeated rows of zombies and skeletons with the help of the wizards, but was unable to aid them when they stepped into the firing line of the unknown necromancer. Then, when Dusty’s remaining companions remained vulnerable, he courageously ran headlong into the advancing enemy to protect his friends and aid their victory. Dusty and the Halfling each carried a prone wizard forth to mend for the next encounter.

Dusty’s impressions about unimportant details:

The two wizards are potent, but unpredictable and uncooperative. Dramora seems like she can be manipulated to go with the flow, but she will figure this trick out – maybe – hard to tell if she’s clever. The dark elf is unmistakably clever; maybe too clever for his own good. Still, it’s handy to have a powerful, murderous ally. Seems he has some royal claim – is that typical for a male drow? A prince could make a great sidekick for a Folk Hero, and it seems my new bard has grown attached. The bard rushed headlong into danger to avenge him, as did the bloodthirsty Halfling. Will need some means of healing our wizards. Not used to having so many companions, but they might as well come along if they serve the Cause.

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An unsettling dream

I was resting near the campfire… I have awoken far away. I had a fevered dream of some sort… Below is what I remember:

“I am staring at a river… my senses heightened. The silence is deafening. No wind. Looking around the world seems dimly lit… but not from a sun. There are no rays in the mist or shadows from the trees.

A dampened rustling behind me… I spin around. Nothing. I walk towards the bush… though I don’t want to. I fight it… but… the more I fight the less I feel compelled too.

I push the brushes aside but my hand never touches them. They move as if willed. In an opening there I see a figure of unspeakable beauty. She appears almost translucent…

‘Do you recognize me, Eiio?’

I motion as if to speak but it as if my voice is lost to the mist.

‘You know who I am… do you not?’

The figure dances elegantly around, dashing behind trees. The forest seems to bend toward her and moves with her as if it were an extension of her body. Still my voice is silenced.

‘No matter – you have been lost to me for years… that place hides you from my sight. But now… now you are in my domain. I’ve missed you, Eiio.’

I feel myself pushed away from the opening in the forest… back towards the river. A sense of relief fills over me. A restfulness. I lay back down and return to sleep."

I awoke in a deep sweat… I can barely see the light of the campfire in the distance… I must have slept walk.

Who was that creature. It didn’t feel like a dream… perhaps a fevered hallucination from my wounds…

I need to talk to someone about this.

Eiio Xerebeos

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