Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

Encounter at Blackwall Keep

Laying into Lizards

Waterday 26th Planting 595

After a good nights rest the others decided to head off to the Free City to sell our treasure and spend our hard earned money. I was about to ask Curly to buy me some stuff but decided that as I actually wanted to receive what I ordered, to ask Grim instead. Muffin asked if he could lend a load of money off me to buy himself a magical headband that would make him, he said “more” but I’ll just leave it as plain old intelligent. I agreed mainly due to the fact that I’m sick of doing all the thinking and it would be nice to have a break now and again.

I didn’t go with them as I wanted to stay and scout out the Halfling community to make sure they’re all ok. Plus I do miss working at the Feral Dog and I know they miss me, especially Tira.

Earthday 27th Planting – Sunday 2nd Flocktime 595

Not much happened whilst people were away. Grim lost his coveted “Drinker of the Week” title but that’s about it. Oh yeah! And Shrub-beard sent a letter requesting mine and my groups presence as soon as was convenient (see even he knows who’s in charge).

Moonday 3rd Flocktime 595

The others got back in the early evening. I made sure I got my stuff off Grim before breaking the bad news to him. Of course he wanted to stay and regain his crown but the others wanted to go and see Shrub-beard straight away. Personally I’d have liked to have made him wait a bit just to prove we’re not at his beck and call but knowing that the others would have just sulked all night, I decided we should go.

We got there and were greeted by a new servant. A Halfling servant. Obviously Shrub-beard had been impressed with me and decided he needed that kind of efficient, no nonsense leadership skills in charge of his staff.

Anyway, Shrub-beard, having made us wait a while, eventually invited us into his study. The Halfling servant had laid out a good spread for us which we demolished as our host told us why we were there.

Apparently he’d finished his study of the artefacts we’d found in the Whispering Cairn and he’d discovered that the carvings on them were an ancient language called Auran (which is, of course, the language of the elemental plain of air). He said that the place was made by the Wind-dukes of Aqua (an extremely old race) who’s main claim to fame was defeating the Queen of Chaos in some battle in the Fields of Peche up north ages ago using a powerful weapon known as the Rod of Seven Parts.

After I finished explaining to Curly how many seven actually was, Shrub-beard told us why we were really there. He said that although he wanted to go into the Cairn to have a closer look at everything, he had another more pressing engagement that he needed to attend to first. He needed to meet with the Battle Mage of the Free City (someone called Marzena) who was currently staying in Blackwall Keep which was situated in Mistmarsh. Shrub-beard wanted to hire us as body guards as the Mistmarsh is home to crocodiles and other, less pleasant creatures including undead (which the great wizard is obviously petrified of).

The reason for the visit to see Marzipan was that they had discovered some of those green worm type things that make undead really tough in the Cairn hills. On hearing this Curly tried to offer to perform this task for free but I managed to distract him by pointing to the window and exclaiming that I’d seen a Pegasus fly past. By the time he’d got back to his seat the deal was done and we were on our way back to the Feral Dog where Grim, who was fresh out of ale and money, begged everyone all night to buy him drinks.

Godsday 4th Flocktime 595

Felt sorry for Grim so I got a keg from the cellar of the Feral Dog and left it by where he’d collapsed last night. He seemed quite pleased with it.

We set off eastwards along a trail that got narrow quickly. Not much happened apart from we passed a group of very strange Gnomes who were heading into Diamond Lake.

Shrub-beard said that there was an abandoned farm house known as Shanks Rest after its previous owner who apparently inherited a fortune and moved to the Free City. The evening was spent listening to Shrub-beard droning on and on about his past and then Curly telling us all about his childhood in the temple. I swear I am never going on watch with him again (not unless he promises not to talk). It was worse than listening to paint dry. Although it was better than listening to Sneeze compare himself to a tiger. That man has such an over inflated opinion of himself.

Waterday 5th Flocktime 595

Passed a band of worshipers of St Cuthbert who were heading for Diamond Lake for some sort of religious festival; St Cuthbert’s Day they called it. After a very brief, very unsuccessful attempt to convert us (although Muffin seemed keen until he heard about their rules and regulations), they carried on their way and we on ours.

A few miles down the trail, I smelt something really strange. At first I just thought Grim was having another bout of beer farts but it soon became clear that the ever increasing number of flies wasn’t due to his lack of bathing; there was a distinct smell of death in the air.

We crested a hill and found we had reached our destination (although I think they have a cheek calling this place a keep – retirement cottage would be more apt) to find it being besieged by a gang of Lizardmen. We looked to our employer, the powerful and prestigious mage of great renown for inspiration and guidance for the forthcoming battle and I have to admit, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the words that he did that even made Muffin lost for words:

“I’ll, err. I mean, I’ll teleport back to Diamond Lake whilst you guys take care of this. No, no, I’m not scared. I’m, err, going for, err, reinforcements. Yeah that’s right! Reinforcements! That will arrive in a day or so. You guys hold them off till then. See ya!” (ok, they weren’t his exact words but ask anyone, that was the gist of it).

Then in not even so much as a puff (and when I say puff, I mean Shrub-beard) of smoke he whipped out a scroll and disappeared leaving us all, if not agog, certainly gob-smacked.

Seeing the others floundering for some inspiration, and lost for words myself, I decided that there was only one thing I could do: lead by example. With a scream I charged down the hill towards an onrushing band of Lizardmen. Sneeze followed suit but Curly, obviously highly charged by my courage, charged straight past us both and into the path of our foes. Fortunately the enemy was unable to penetrate his thick skull, I mean armour.

The battle raged and it soon became clear that they had more than warriors in their midst. A shaman was hiding somewhere. I became aware that something was amiss when Salty let out a very girly scream and jumped backwards with extreme terror. As she did I spotted the cause for her fear; a snake (bless her. I bet she’s scared of spiders as well). Seeing a lady in distress I didn’t even think. I simply ran over and skewered the slithering beast (although on reflection I’m not sure I should have. This is only going to fuel her obsession with me and to be honest, that’s something I could do without).

The others, with a mixture of steel and spells had forced the Lizardmen to call a retreat. It was then that I spotted the shaman. As I charged him he became the first person in the battle to take inspiration from Shrub-beards actions and fled with what I would assume could only be the Lizardman equivalent of calling for his mummy.

I returned to the others to find that they had managed to capture one of the fleeing Lizardmen and were busy leading him into the so called keep. As I was wondering why, Muffin revealed he had more than a talent for trying to kill us: he can speak Draconic (although where he learned it is a source of some concern).

The soldiers revealed to us that in the first, surprise wave, the Lizardmen managed to break through the front door and capture the battlemage along with three of their rank. Muffin started to question our captive who was less than forthcoming. Even when Muffin produced a ball of lightning in his hand, the Lizardman refused to talk (I think he must have seen Muffin cast spells in the battle. No-one would be scared of him after that… well not unless you were on his side anyway).

It was then that a certain amount of excrement started to fly. Muffin, obviously miffed that not even a lone, tied up Lizardman was afraid of him, struck our captive with his lightning hand. At this Curly flew into a rage and attempted to strike Muffin who somehow managed to dodge out of the way. It was then that Curly said something that didn’t immediately put me to sleep:

“If you ever do anything like that again, I will kill you!”

He then proceeded to heal up the damage that Muffin had caused.

With all the tension in the air I decided to distract people by getting some more info from the soldiers about where the Lizardmen had taken the battlemage. The leader of the garrison said that there were several Lizardmen tribes in the area but that they had headed south with their captives. Muffin wasn’t keen about going after them when we didn’t even know who’d taken them but I decided that Curly needed placating so I sided with him when he said he wanted to go after them immediately.

We headed south into the Mistmarsh and travelled for four very wet and cold hours before it became too dark for us to continue.

We set up camp on a small hump of land that was jutting out of the rank water. I decided to take the second watch with Muffin so that I could let him know that what he’d done wasn’t acceptable, at least when Curly was about, and that there would be little he could do to stop Curly if he wanted to carry out his threat (I didn’t quite come out with it was ‘cause he was probably the worst tactician ever, but I think he got the message).

It was in the middle of this talk that another non-Grim smell issued forth from the darkness beyond our lamp. I immediately got Muffin to wake everyone up whilst I unsheathed my weapons in preparation.

As the others joined me, five creatures with red glowing eyes shambled into our lamp light. Grim identified them as ghouls. As they approached Grim enlarged himself and Muffin, who’d obviously not paid any attention to my lecture, summoned another swarm, this time of bats.

As we set about making swift work of the ghouls (apart from Salty who became paralyzed when one struck her) and Muffin’s swarm started to eat away at us, another shambling undead approached. Curly spotted that this one was a ghast as opposed to a ghoul. As it approached its stench washed over us nearly causing me to vomit. I managed to hold it down long enough to slay the beast.

I turned around to find and enlarged Grim lying on top of Salty. As he picked himself and her up he issued the second death threat that day to Muffin. I think it might have been motivated by more than just the damage to himself; I think he might have a thing for Salty. I hope this doesn’t cause any tension between us. I mean, it’s obvious to everyone that she’s besotted with me and this could cause some jealousy driven resentment directed at me from Grim. I hope not. I think he’s the one I like the best (although that isn’t saying much and the brief time I spoke to him sober he did start to sound a lot like Curly so I don’t know whether it’s just the beer talking).

The rest of the night passed uneventfully.

Earthday 6th Flocktime 595

We travelled till mid-afternoon when we spotted what looked like the entrance to some sort of lair. It was situated underneath some mangaroo trees and the entrance was slightly obscured by their roots.

Myself and Sneeze snuck up (Salty wanted to come as well but I thought that she and Grim could do with some time together without my presence getting in their way) and checked things out. A tunnel under the ground ended in t-junction with a small alcove opposite that contained weaponry.

With the coast clear we called the others up and headed in. The passage to the left forked off in two directions so I decided it would be better to go to the right. This passage opened up into a sleeping quarters that housed five sleepy, yet angry Lizardmen which we dispatched with ease.

We headed through the only other passage out of this room which led into another sleeping area that housed four more awake, but equally angry Liizardmen which we slew.

This done, we headed out of the room and up a sloped corridor under the roots. As we approached the room at its end we were all overcome by a horrendous smell. However, having spent to last month side by side with Grim, we had all become immune to any odour less pungent than the stench of the quasi elemental plane of crap.

We approached the room to find that it was, in fact, one gigantic waste pile, Muffin’s first reaction to which was to cast a detect magic spell. Unsurprisingly there was no magic in the vicinity (only the glow of wonder that surrounds how Muffin had thus far made it through the day without trying to kill any of us).

We were just about to leave when a tentacle whipped up from the garbage and wrapped itself around Curly (had obviously taken a good look at Grim and figured there wasn’t enough tentacle to go round). As we followed the tentacle back it became clear that it was attached to something… a big something… an Otiug to be more precise.

With no fear for my safety (and a desire to keep Curly alive so that I could see him and Muffin eventually go at it) I acrobatically tumbled past its other tentacles and engaged it in melee combat. Sneeze and Salty followed my example and we soon had the beast on the back foot. Obviously intelligent, the Otiug lashed out another tentacle at the greatest threat – me – and began constricting with all its might. Seeing me in what she perceived as danger, it was obvious that Salty became worried and enraged as she found reserves of energy and skill that none of us knew possible. With a flurry of blades she dispatched the beast whose dead limbs fell limp releasing myself and Curly.

Before she could comfort me I ran to Grim, to show my loyalty to him and try to big him up in front of Salty by allowing him to heal my wounds. Grim also showed that there were no hard feelings on his side as well by giving me a swig of his ale, although that might just be part of his new healing ritual as he forced Curly to down half a tankard as well before he healed him… either that or he thinks it’d be funny to see Curly half cut… if he does, he’d be right!

Anyway, now that we were all covered in muck and gunk and other unpleasant Lizardman waste, we decided to have a better look around the bin in case the Lizardmen had thrown anything useful away. They hadn’t! However Muffin did find some mushrooms which apparently have some healing properties. They can cure some permanent physical impairments that some creatures (mainly undead) can cause. We managed to scavenge eight of these little miracle mushrooms before we were done.

Stinking to the heavens (a new experience for most of us), we left the bin and carried on along the corridor. As we rounded a bend we spotted another room containing yet another five Lizardmen. They were prepared for battle and we didn’t disappoint. I charged in and slew one with one mighty blow. Sneeze tried to follow suite but his blow was merely a glancing one and, embarrassingly for Sneeze, Muffin had to finish it off with one of his magic dot spells (although curiously he can now produce three of them at once). Grim and Curly entered the fray and killed a Lizardman each before the final one turned tail and ran.

Salty tried to rush after it but I managed to hold the group back so that we could form up once more and continue on. We headed after the scaredy-lizard and presently found ourselves in another room containing, you’ve guessed it, 5 Lizardmen (although one was the one we were following). I charged in once more expecting my cohorts to follow on as usual only this time they didn’t. I’m unsure whether it’s because they knew I could take them on myself and simply wanted to sit back and watch the show of skill, bravery and dexterity I was about to put on, because they were in awe of my obvious power and charisma (although I would of thought they’d have been used to it by now) or they were just plain scared, but any which way, they left me to it. Three Lizardmen surrounded me whilst two headed for the rest of the group (smart these Lizardmen; focus your strength against your opponents strength).

The fight was as brief as the previous ones (although I did allow some people to help me finish off the ones on me, don’t want to hog all the glory now do I?) but the ending was slightly different. Out of one of our fallen foes crawled some small green worms – a spawn of Kyuss (one of the worms that is said to create undead and make them invincible). They squirmed for a little bit but soon ceased to move and died. Muffin put some into a jar to take to Shrub-beard to study but he did comment that these ones looked younger than the worms we’d seen previously.

As Muffin corked the vial we heard the sound of Lizardmen approaching from the other two exits out of the room. We formed a defensive line by the entrance we’d come in and waited for their arrival. From our right came two Lizardmen (one of whom looked really pissed off) and five came from the other.

The angry one stopped at the entrance and hurled a javelin straight into Sneeze who merely grimaced stoically (I’m not sure he has another look) at the wound. The other Lizardmen charged into the room only for Muffin to actually cast a spell that did what it was intended to do – harm our enemies. In fact, it did more than that… it killed all of them. Well all bar the pissed off one. The rest of us had to finish him off but not before he’d ripped into Sneeze a couple more times.

After Grim had patched Sneeze up, we headed down the corridor that the angry Lizardman had come from. This led into a room that had, you’ve guessed it, two unconscious humans that had been bound and gagged (what you thought there were four or five more Lizardmen? Shame on you!). Grim and Muffin checked them out to see if they’d been infected with any of the worms but didn’t think that they had.

With that small assurance Grim poked them with the healing wand and they immediately sparked into life, although you’d have had a hard time telling the difference by the answers they gave to our questions: Q. How did you get here? A. Errrr, I dunno! Q. Where are Marzipan and the other guard? A. Errrr, I dunno! Thanking them for their help, we led them to the open air (grabbing them some weapons on the way) and told them to hide somewhere close before carrying on deeper into our enemies’ lair.

The next room we came to held something of a surprise: a Lizardman that didn’t immediately attack (and a Lizardman shaman to boot, not the one I chased off though). Oh yeah, and in the corner, unconscious, bound and gagged lay Marzipan (who looked like she’d had her jaw and all her fingers broke) and the other soldier.

Despite our suspicions of this disturbing creature, Muffin was our only hope for any kind of communication with the noble Lizardman shaman, so with a big dollop of doubt, I instructed him to translate for us.

Turns out this Lizardman was called Hishka and he was somewhat of a rebel. He said that he disliked the new king (some outsider Lizardman who’d come in a couple of years ago, killed the previous king and taken over) due to his warlike nature. Hishka said that he’d put up no resistance to us taking the prisoners if we killed the new king for him and got the tribe (apparently known as the “Twisted Branch” after the name of their lair) a peace treaty with the Free City.

We immediately agreed to the first but could only promise to try on the second (despite my huge power and influence locally, for some reason I don’t have the same pull in the capital. Personally I think they’re all a bit racist, or at the very least heightist up there).

With the agreement reached Hishka handed over Marzipan and the third member of her entourage and we prepared ourselves for the forthcoming fight.

As Curly took these two out to where the other two were we asked Hishka what he knew about the worms. All he could tell us was that a few years ago a great many of their eggs had become infected with them. He said that the tribe had been severely weakened as these infected eggs had to be destroyed and their offspring killed. It was around that time that the new king came to power and it was said that he’d made a pact with a great creature to ensure protection for the eggs. Hishka didn’t know what type of creature it was but did know that it had placed several guards that he had never seen to watch over the eggs.

It was at this point that Curly returned. Hishka said that the king and his shaman were in the throne room just along the passage. The thought of that cowardly snake charming reptile made me mad and by the time we were ready for battle I was positively enraged. As soon as Muffin cast the spell that quickened us I let out a war cry that I’d picked up from Grim (at least I think it’s a war cry…he used to shout it a lot before he hit people who spilt his drink) and charged straight for my enemy. The others, obviously aware that I wanted to take this one alone, all headed straight for the king who threw a trident at Curly (I think the trident may have hit him in the head as he would later tell me that the trident had pulled itself from his body and returned to the Lizardman).

The fight was as swift as I was brutal. The shaman tried to flee but I was too focussed to let this happen. With a whirl of my blades I slew him, his death cries joined by that of his king shortly thereafter.

My enemy slain, I let the rage subside and found myself quite drained for a short time. Whilst I was resting, Muffin cast a spell and promptly found some magic items not only on our fallen adversaries but also hidden behind the throne.

We headed on back to the shaman to inform him that the job was done when the cheeky snake asked us if we could do him another favour. He wanted us to go and check on the eggs as he didn’t completely trust the guardians that the now former king had placed there.

Feeling buoyed by our swift victory I agreed and so off we headed to the egg chamber. Ok, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. First we had to swim (and by swim I mean walk along the bottom) through a hundred foot tunnel that was completely submerged before surfacing in a room that was home to eight of the ugliest creatures I’d seen since I last looked at Grim. They looked like a weird cross-breeding of a Kobold and a black lizard. I was pondering the “why’s” and more importantly “how’s” of this coupling when Muffin stepped to the front of our group. He waved his hands in the creatures’ direction and sent a cone of electrical energy into the group instantly slaying five of them.

The other three of them were obviously in as much shock as me as they simply stood there whilst Sneeze, Salty and Curly vanquished (what a great word: vanquish. Note to self: must use vanquish more often) them.

With the worst guardians ever lying dead at our feet, we headed further in to the chamber itself. At the back stood a chest that contained four vials labelled “Cure Light Wounds” one of which Grim swallowed like it was a twenty year matured Dwarven ale.

At the end of this chamber was a short passage that led to the egg chamber itself. And what a chamber! If one was so inclined, one could have had Lizardman egg omelettes for breakfast for the rest of one’s life. There were hundreds of them. However they weren’t the only thing to grab our attention. Half way across the chamber sat a lone egg. It was about my height and was jet black. Muffin and Grim think that it’s the egg of a black dragon and that, coupled with the ugly half-breed Kobolds, led us to the conclusion that the great beast that the former king had made a pack with was a black dragon. Great! We’ve pissed off a dragon! How wonderful is that?

Anyway before I had a chance to give orders out, the others had lifted the egg up and carried it to near where we’d entered. As they were doing this, I spotted something at the far end of the chamber. I made my way closer and discovered three chests which contained loads of money, some potions and (what Muffin said was) a magical ring.

Then a sort of debate ensued as to whether we should just take the stuff in the chests or we should tell the Lizardmen about it in case it was theirs. Muffin had one opinion, Curly another (I’ll let you guess who was on which side).

Eventually I decided that we should simply ask Hishka what was in the chamber and if he mentioned the chests then it would only be right to give him them back. Fortunately for us, he didn’t know anything about them and so, with the promise that we’d do our best in the Free City to get a treaty signed, we left.

Then unfortunately for us, Marzipan claimed some of the items we’d found as her own. Muffin in particular was not a happy bunny about this.

We trudged on and set up camp once again in the marsh but this night was only disturbed by a passing Lizardman patrol from Twisted Branch lair.

Freeday 7th Flocktime 595

Grim woke up this morning in one of his moods and with one of his headaches. Personally I put it down to the amount of exercise he’s been forced to do over the past couple of days but the others thought there was a possibility that he had worms (the amount of food he packs away I’d assumed he’d always had worms) but they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.

We got back to the keep around lunchtime to find the soldiers in a massive panic. Once I’d managed to catch one he told me that in the initial attack one of the Lizardmen had managed to make it to the prison cells and smashed through the door of a cell that had been holding a tower guard who had gone mad with some kind of infection. This guy had now infected two more of the guards with his madness when they went to stop him. He said that they’d managed to block them in but were unable to stop them.

Berating them for being useless, I decided that we should put these men to rest once and for all (although Muffin bartered for some kind of reward which only ended up getting us a letter to take to the Free City). We headed down the stairs to the dungeons of the keep just in time to see the three crazed men bash their way through the make-shift barricade that had been erected.

The layout of the dungeon made it awkward for us to attack them as one group so I made my way round the back to an adjoining corridor. As I did, Curly held up his holy symbol and, holding it out towards the men issued words that would terrify all but the hardiest of undead:

“For the honour and valour of Hieroneous and in the name of all that is good and right, I beseech thee be gone from this place and never return!”

Turns out that these three were the hardiest of undead!

Despite (or more precisely, because of) Curly’s failed attempt to banish the creatures, we set about attacking them. Unfortunately, they attacked back. With each punch bits of their flesh fell off and at one point one of them gross worm things landed on me. Salty (who’d followed me again for obvious reasons) once again let her passion for me guide her sword as she swatted the invertebrate off my arm and squished it against the wall. This small scare spurred myself and the rest of the group into action as we vanquished (there’s one) the three former soldiers with extreme expediency.

After the skirmish was won, Grim came over to me and checked me out (I think Salty must have told him about the worm). The fat drunken one said that the flesh on my face was starting to look funny and that we’d better get to a temple and get me checked out properly (nice to know that he can’t check me out properly, not that I especially want him to. Yuk!).

As we left the keep the reinforcements that Shrub-beard had fled, I mean headed back to Diamond Lake to get arrived (nice to know that they didn’t rush to save us) and handed over a letter from the yellow coloured, jelly nerved, spineless weasel asking us to come back to town and to bring Marzipan with us. Personally I’m inclined to head back with the gang from the Twisted Branch and lay siege to his tower. I bet reinforcements would get there in less than two and a half bloody days!

Anyway, we commandeered some horses from the reinforcements and set off.

Starday 8th Flocktime 595

I woke up this morning with the worst headache imaginable. I felt almost as weak as Muffin and my head felt so full of cotton wool that I think I now know what it is to be Curly.

Muffin handed me one of the mushrooms which I managed to force down, but it didn’t really help. Grim then came up to me and said he could have a word with his god and see if he would grant him a healing spell that would remove this disease. His god obviously deemed me worthy (of course he did! Why wouldn’t he? I’m the illustrious leader of the band of people that one of his worshipers is in. Hanseath had no doubt realised that without me Grim would be lost without a friend in the world and so knew that if he didn’t grant him this boon Grim would lose his faith and stop drinking, partying and killing). I choked down a flagon of ale as Grim lay his hands on my chest and immediately I started to feel better. Grim cast one more spell to restore my strength and I felt right as rain (why right as rain? Is rain the wisest of all the precipitations? Is snow scatterbrained? Are hailstones stupid?).

Anyway, I managed to calm everyone down and reassure them that I was ok in time for us to set off and get back to Diamond Lake before lunch.

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