Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

The Champion's Belt

Big Worm = Big Trouble

Sunday 23rd Flocktime 595 cont.

We gave the priests of Heironious the items we’d found so they could determine whether or not they were cursed. It turns out that all of the stuff we’d found in the room with the vrock in (other than the petrified pseudo-dragon which they turned back to flesh) were, so we allowed them to destroy them. I think Muffin tried to negotiate with the pseudo-dragon (apparently called Animun) regarding it becoming his familiar (not sure why anyone would want to become more familiar with Muffin. Personally the less I know him the better I like him).

Whilst they did that we headed off to the counsel chambers to pass on the proof we’d found in the mind-flayers lair. The counsel seemed fairly pleased and even coughed up the reward they promised us; a whole thousand gold each. They were slightly less enamoured when we made a point of, well pointing out who’d actually hired the mind-flayer to kill us. The moment we uttered the name Doris Lightboobs, their attitude change from the pleasure that only comes from knowing that the city that you’re supposed to be running has been saved (again) by the only band of adventurers with a leader brave enough to take the job on, to one that only comes from being caught wearing nothing but a single sock by your mum on your thirteenth birthday; a mixture of horror, surprise and embarrassment coupled with a desperate desire for a hill giant to pass by, pick you up and swallow you whole… not that I know how that feels.

It turns out that this guy Lightboobs is not only extremely well thought of by pretty much everyone, but has a huge amount of influence in the city. In other words he’s got dirt on all of the counsel so they ain’t doing diddley-squat to stop him. Their official line was that they couldn’t trust the mad scratchings of a psychotic mind-flayer who had been trying to overthrow the city using his minions of doppelgangers. I have to admit I do see their point, even if the others couldn’t. Oh don’t get me wrong; he’s still going to die in the worst possible way, I just understand why the counsel won’t lift a finger to help.

Anyway, with the counsel tight-lipped about our would be killer, we decided to go and see Legless to see if he could tell us more. On the way we had to (of course) drag Muffin and Salty away every shop we passed (although we did stop off to sell stuff and drop some weapons in to be upgraded). When we got to Legless’ his elven servant thanked us for our prompt response to the invitation his master had sent. Having not been back to the Crooked House for a while we knew of no such invitation but hey, we took the complement and went upstairs where Legless was waiting with a table of food that was befitting for the heroes of the Free City.

After dinner we listened as Legless spouted off the information he’d found out about the items we’d bought him. He said that some of them weren’t related to the Age of Worms (a time when people can eat and eat and eat and never put on any weight) but some of them obviously were. From his research he said he’d found out that Kyuss was a minor deity that only had a small following. He said that their cults usually only consisted of one priest who often was a well thought of member of society. He said that from his research he’d discovered that the cult was becoming vastly more active (really? I’d never of known!) preparing for the coming of the prophecy known as the Age of Worms.

Legless said he’d tried to find out more about the Age of Worms but could only find references in his books about other books which had writings about it; books like the Necronomicon, The Libris Mortis and (more relevantly) the Apostolic Scrolls.

We told him about the Lightboobs-mind-flayer transaction and he became concerned. He said that the scrolls were said to have been written by Kyuss himself and contained the prophecy along with various spells and arcane rituals in the making of uber undead and specifically something called the Ulgurstasta, a type of undead that eats the living and regurgitates them as undead. He said that if Lightboobs had these scrolls then it was likely that he was a member of this cult (I wish I was as smart as him, I’d have never figured that out).

We asked about Lightboobs but Legless said he didn’t know much other than he was a fairly reclusive person, but a very powerful one. He apparently has a lot of support from the populace due to the Champions Games he puts on each year as well as having a lot of powerful people owing him favours (comes in handy when it’s discovered that you’re the high priest of an evil cult bent on world destruction). Other than that he couldn’t tell us anything but he did say he had a friend who might be able to give us more information about him, some woman named Celeste, as she acted as an agent for the various licensees that could enter teams into the games. Legless said he’d arrange for her to meet us at the Crooked House tomorrow.

Having to be satisfied with that we left and headed for the nearest inn where Grim further inducted me into the care of Hanseath by getting me plastered.

Moonday 24th Flocktime 595

I feel a bit sorry for Grim now. After all the times I booted him to wake him up after a nights boozing I experienced it for the first time this morning as Sneeze kicked me awake (I guess I should be glad he didn’t kill me with the blow). It wasn’t the most pleasant morning call I’d experienced.

Anyway, after breakfast we headed over to the Crooked House (we’ve still got rooms there but after the incident with the doppelgangers and with someone still out to kill us we thought it best to stay somewhere else) and waited for Moony to show up, which she did around lunchtime. She wasn’t alone however. With her was a man with a lute hung over one shoulder whom she introduced as Ekaym Smallcask (I tried not to laugh but I’m only Halfling. I wonder if the old “by name, by nature” adage applies?). Almost before we could say a word Moony starts telling us how Tinyknob was one of the licensees who was currently looking for a group to enter into the games and how Legless had told her that we might be interested. It was at this point I interrupted and informed her that there had been some crossed wires and that we weren’t interested in entering the games but simply wanted some more information about Doris Lightboobs.

She seemed a bit surprised at this but told us the little about him that she did know. She reiterated that he was a recluse who spent most of his time in his palace which is attached to the city arena. He has his own personal guard which numbered around thirty the captain of whom is someone who was never seen and rarely talked about (she knew nothing of him). The only time she’d ever seen him was at the pre-game dinner that was held every year on the eve of the games for the gladiators that were entering that year’s tournament.

Tinyknob then saw an opportunity to turn the conversation back around to us entering the tournament under his management as this would be the only way we’d possibly get to meet Lightboobs (we hadn’t told him why we wanted to meet him so I guess his enthusiasm wasn’t overly stupid). We indulged him just to see if there was anyway we could use entering the tournament to our advantage.

Tinyknob said that all the gladiators were housed in a cavern called a Coenoby throughout the five days of the tournament. The only time a group could leave this cavern is when they were fighting or when they were knocked out. Security around the coenoby was directly correlated to how many gladiators remained (so lots on the first day and dwindling throughout the tournament). The five days broke down as follows:

Day 1: Six, four team elimination matches Day 2: Rest for the gladiators with some entertainment for the crowd Day3: Three group on group elimination matches Day 4: One group on group elimination match and one group on monster fight (usually the easier of the two) Day 5: The final battle between the two remaining groups (or monster if it killed the other group, although I’m not sure what the monster would do with the prize money)

All of the battles would be overseen by an incorruptible referee called Talavir Welik. The prize-money increased over the rounds to the point that if you won you would get a total of thirty-seven thousand gold (of which Tinyknob would of course take a share). You could also bet on yourself but each bet was limited to five hundred gold and the best odds you could get were three-one.

With the explanation done we asked for some time to discuss the proposal. It didn’t take too long (although Grim really wanted to enter and get the prize for winning the second round which, along with the money, was a silver statue of a dwarf) for the flies to decide not to go into the web of the spider that had previously sent some wasps out to try and kill them on its behalf.

I didn’t want to turn the guy down flat (I mean he’s obviously desperate – three days to go till the games and he still hasn’t found anyone to enter for him. Plus if there’s a way to get to Lightboobs from the coenoby then it’s an option worth considering) so we called them back over and said that we’re not interested at this point but if he hadn’t found anyone before the pre-game dinner, we might be persuaded to do it. He looked duly disappointed.

Wanting to find out more about this coenoby, I knew there was one person I could ask who was certain to know because (as he’ll remind anyone within earshot) he won the damn tournament last year. Orc-dropping wasn’t hard to locate (I just followed the strongest dung smell I could detect). When Grim and I found him he was busy getting drunk in a bar and trying to impress the ladies with talk of his adventures. I tried to bite my tongue but failed miserably and just had to tell the story of how he and his group couldn’t finish off a lair of trolls and how me and my group had to do it for them.

That disbursed the group around him somewhat and got me his undivided attention. I tried to smooth things over by buying him a drink before grilling him about the coenoby. He didn’t say much only that it was a cavern with various alcoves for each team. It had a small stream which gathered into a pool in one corner and a blocked off tunnel in another. There was only one entrance and that was guarded throughout the tournament to ensure that none of the gladiators were able to leave.

I then asked him if he’d spoken to Lightboobs at all and he told us that our nemesis had won the tournament years ago and was reputed to have slain a ghoul nest that had been located down the blocked off tunnel but that was all he knew.

We traded insults for a while (well when I say trade, he called me short (original!) and I ripped him to pieces causing him to storm off in a huff. As he did so I gave one last parting shot about how no matter how much he begged there was no way I was going to take over the captaincy of his team) before we headed back to the others who for once hadn’t been shopping.

Muffin had started to scry out Lightboobs palace but hadn’t found anything out of the ordinary other than they hadn’t spotted Lightboobs himself. Salty and Sneeze had taken a walk by the house and discovered that the house was indeed guarded by Lightboobs own personal army which seemed to be divided into three distinct ranks; blue tabards (lowest of the low), blue cloaks (a bit higher) and purple cloaks (the guys in charge).

With them having come up with nothing I felt rather smug telling them that I’d found an alternate way in (yes, for the first time Orc-dropping had said something useful). I told them about the stream and pool that were in the coenoby and then had to explain that the water must be coming from somewhere and then further explain to Curly that there was a small river that ran right past the arena that the water probably came from and that we could find a way in through it.

With all that done we waited until the middle of the night before we headed on down to a part of the river upstream from the arena. Knowing that this mission would be dangerous and possibly involve traversing some pretty small passages I decided that it would be best that I head in alone. The only problem with this was that I had to endure minutes of people casting various spells on me so that I could breathe underwater, become invisible, see in the dark and one so that Muffin could see exactly what I saw (this baffled me a bit but he said it had something to do with when I found a suitable entrance point he could transport us there).

This done I plunged into the dark (and bloody freezing – no-one thought to cast a spell that’d keep me nice and warm did they?) waters and started my hunt. It didn’t take to long to find a small side stream off that looked like it headed towards the arena. I followed this stream for what seemed like ages, heading towards the arena as best I could when it forked (which it did several times), before eventually coming across a part of it that was filled with, well I don’t really want to think what it was filled with so lets just say it was really mucky.

Despite being able to breathe the water I held my breath and swam in. I emerged out of the water at the bottom of what must have been a garbage chute. Steeling myself against the smell, I began the perilous climb to the top and cautiously poked my head over the small ledge at the top. I was in a small circular room that had one corridor to the east. Beyond this corridor I could see three shuffling skeletal figures that seemed to have lots of tiny worms slithering all over them. I felt a wave of fear wash over me but it was as water washing over a duck.

Despite that and my desperate desire to destroy these (what were obviously) spawn of Kyuss, I thought better of it and climbed back down to the water and, my mission successfully completed, made my way back to the others. I was all for going in straight away but the spell-casters moaned that they’d expended too much energy in ensuring my safety for it to be a good idea and that we should wait until tomorrow. Begrudgingly I agreed to wait and so we headed off to another random tavern to waste the night.

Godsday 25th Flocktime 595

It turns out Muffin is Muffin after all. His so called spell which could transport us all into the room I’d seen in fact couldn’t. It could only take some of us. What this means is that the rest of us (namely myself, Sneeze and Salty) are going to have to swim in, which in turn means that we can’t until later tonight after it goes dark as three people swimming in the river is likely to cause some attention, especially when they don’t resurface, which means that we’re having to waste the day doing nothing. We can’t even really drink (not properly anyway) as we have to be at our sharpest for our infiltration later (although I’m not sure Grim even begins to function until he’s got about five tankards down him).

Anyway, we wiled away the day until dusk fell when we headed for a secluded part of the river near to our destination and the three swimmers jumped in. I led Sneeze and Salty up to the chute where we extended up our magical rope and all made our way to the top. As we arrived Muffin, who’d cast that spell so he could see what I was seeing again, opened his magical door and he, Grim and Curly appeared in the room.

As we climbed out the pit the spawn of Kyuss shuffled along the narrow corridor towards us and right into a bolt of electricity that Muffin sent shooting through them. The three undead burst apart almost showering us in a spray of worms (I think one landed on Curly but he just flicked it off).

We headed along the corridor which opened out into a fairly small room with three empty coffins in it and a corridor off which brought us to a door. We did the normal checks (traps, evil etc.) and Curly said he sensed some strong evil behind the door. We readied ourselves and Curly opened the door to reveal what looked like an old warrior training room (it had combat dummies that were falling apart and some broken mechanical devices scattered about it and a holy symbol of Kord emblazoned on the far wall) the current inhabitants of which looked like they hadn’t been training in a good long while. Along with six spawn of Kyuss stood another skeletal figure but this one had no worms. Instead we could see its viscera which writhed in its torso. It licked where its lips would have been with its long spiked tongue as we entered.

Muffin once again ruined the fight for everyone by exploding a ball of lightning in the room which took out all of the Kyuss spawn leaving only the (what Grim recognised as a) Morhg. Salty tumbled passed everyone and managed to get herself into a flanking position only for the morhg to lick her. As it did, Salty became paralysed (probably not the first time the touch of someone’s tongue has rendered her helpless) and this momentary distraction was all that Curly needed to slay the creature.

We searched this room for the few minutes it took Salty to regain her composure but there wasn’t anything worth salvaging. We went to the double doors that were on the north of this chamber and went through them into a short corridor which ended in another set. We were about to go straight through when Curly stopped us saying he sensed an overwhelming evil in the room beyond.

Grim and Muffin hastily cast some preparatory spells before we charged in. The most striking thing about this room other than the large alter with a set of scrolls that were glowing green and shooting off a beam the same colour into a set of stone doors opposite them was the rotund cleric kneeling in prayer. I double checked to make sure that Grim was actually still with us and hadn’t somehow transported himself in front of us. He hadn’t, a fact that was confirmed by two things; the being before us had a set of small horns that identified him as one of those flingy things we met in the temple of Hextor and its holy symbol wasn’t nearly as conducive to drinking as ours. Nope, this cleric wore the hooded, worm infested skull that I recognised as a symbol of Kyuss (Grim, along with trying to show me how to harness the energy around me to repel undead has also been schooling me on recognition of the symbols of the other faiths).

Anyway, all of the above was enough for me as I charged in and stabbed into him as he tried to stand. I was quickly followed by Sneeze who slammed a fist across his jaw just before Muffin shot his piercing beam of sound through him. This reeled our foe but not quite enough. He uttered a single word and suddenly he disappeared. Grim quickly cast a spell and said that the fling was no longer in the room.

As the others checked out the double doors opposite the scrolls and the single door to the north, I checked out the scrolls themselves. Unfortunately they were written in a language that I couldn’t understand (later identified as Abyssal).

Curly said that he sensed a strong evil behind the double doors so without further ado he pushed them open to reveal a short corridor that ended in a block of stone with the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen (well apart from the time that Grim forgot to lock the door on the lav) carved into it; it was covered in worm infested corpses that almost seemed to writhe at the centre of which was the worm ridden skull that is the unholy symbol of Kyuss. The beam of light bathed this in the same green light as it had the doors, although when Curly (who’d determined that the block itself was emanating evil) closed the other double doors behind us they didn’t stop the beam which begs the thought, does this block stop it?

With no apparent way of easily getting past the evil block of doom, we headed back to the scroll room and took a closer look at the scrolls. After a few minutes scrutinising them Muffin said that they were under the affect of a spell that meant that they wouldn’t be subject to the passage of time. However he wasn’t sure whether it was restricted to just the scrolls or anyone touching the scrolls. After this assurance we decided to leave them where they were for the time being and headed for the smaller door.

Beyond this door was what looked like a bedroom the striking feature of which was a pillar rising to the ceiling in the design of a huge worm. Oh yeah and a female zombie that had a strange resemblance to Tinyknob that Grim nonchalantly threw a pitcher of ale over causing it to collapse even more lifelessly to the floor.

We had a quick search of the room which turned up a chest that was, unsurprisingly, magically trapped. The chest itself had a strange design; worms (of course) were a main feature but intermingled with them were what looked like people almost made out of worms trapped inside some kind of box. Now normally I’d have just disarmed the trap, flipped the lid and got the loot but the rest of them were worried that something might happen to their guiding light so I decided to leave it for now.

The room had one other exit from it which led us to a room that had a pit in the far right corner and a tartan curtain obscuring the left. Curly, obviously wanting to let some natural light in, yanked back the curtain to reveal three things, the most important of which was what looked like a large human shaped sack of yellowy viscous liquid that immediately breathed out a mist that smelled so bad it made me long for the cold winter nights when I was forced to cuddle up to Lavender for warmth.

Not wanting to get my vomit all over, well, pretty much everyone, I left the area and quietly retched in the first place I deemed appropriate: the bed. I was soon joined by Salty and a few moments later the others joined us saying that the creature had teleported away.

Just as I wiped the last vestige of sick from my mouth a door beyond the room that had housed (what I’m reliably informed was) the Alkilith demon opened and out strode the flingy cleric of Kyuss, but somehow he looked different.

The taste of puke in my mouth had got my adrenaline going and so with rage powering me, I charged forward. As I got closer I spotted that the cleric looked as though he was made of stone, a fact that was confirmed when my first attack bounced of his skin with the ring of metal on rock. Curly and Sneeze joined me but we struggled to penetrate his new natural-magical (natical, magural?) protection.

Salty (who for some reason has taken to dancing her way through a battle) managed to slip in behind the golem like cleric, the distraction of which opened up a lot of very nice targets for me to strike at. For some reason the fling took offence to this and, summoning up all the magical energy he had left uttered words of power as he grabbed my shoulder. By Hanseath I swear the pain was worse than that night I had to listen to Shrub-beard and Curly talk about their childhoods. It felt like all the wounds I’d ever suffered were being revisited upon me all at once.

I staggered back and hastily reached for a potion of healing which I swallowed as Grim used the power of Hanseath to further cure my wounds. Still hurt but, even angrier, I jumped straight back into the combat slashing through the protection almost as if it wasn’t there. Sadly the others were struggling to even make a scratch so it came as no surprise when the priest raised his glowing club and bludgeoned me across my head nearly decapitating me. This action did have one positive outcome; everyone else (obviously motivated by the fear of my death) actually started putting some aggression into their blows. Even Curly managed to look a bit annoyed and it was his swing that finally put paid to the demon.

As the rage left me, so the true extent of my injuries became apparent to me and everyone else as I almost collapsed to the ground. Grim frantically called on the power of our god and managed to stabilise me enough so that our healing wand would have time to finish the job.

Whilst this was going on the others, having searched the cleric and found several magic items along with a set of keys, returned to the bedroom and tried to open the chest. Muffin created a magical hand that he then controlled to test all the keys. Eventually he found the right one but the hand wasn’t strong enough to open the lid. Knowing it was still magically trapped we attached a grappling hook to the lid and tried to pull it open from a distance but something was keeping the lid firmly shut.

Too exhausted to be too bothered by this we headed back to the room we’d fought the mohrg in and barricaded ourselves in. This decision almost came back to bite us in the proverbials when during mine and Muffin’s watch we started to notice a foul smelling green gas emanating, no not from Grim, but from through the double doors. We sounded the alarm (ok, Muffin screamed like a little girl), as the gas gathered itself together and reformed into the mass of yellow goop that was the alkilith demon. Myself and Salty charged in but the demons skin seemed to simply bend under the weight of our blows absorbing the strikes. Muffin, either because he was out of spells or simply returning to his natural born cowardly state, started to un-barricade the other door in the room in a desperate attempt to get out (although where he was intending to go I’ve no idea ‘cause the only thing that door led to was the pit into the stream. Maybe he planned on drowning himself. Not sure whether or not that’s preferable to being dissolved in acid or not; hopefully I’ll never have to find out).

At our lowest ebb an unlikely hero arrived. Ok, it wasn’t as unlikely as the time that Muffin saved us from the grick… or the time that Salty slew the otiug… or when Sneeze battered the ebon demon… or when Grim… ok, considering who was there, I guess it wasn’t that surprising. Curly stepped up and started hewing into the demon. The demon, who (sadly) wasn’t going to take this lying down, reached out and touched Curly. It was weird but Curly seemed to lose some of the power in his blows, and when the demon touched him a second time he became even more useless.

Knowing that (depressingly) he was our best hope of defeating this creature I decided to stop attacking the creature and start distracting it. I moved myself next to Curly and started directing my blows in a way that would manoeuvre the creature into a better position for our holy warrior to strike at. Salty (I don’t seem to be able to rid her of this infatuation with me) soon joined me and between us we managed to open the demon up perfectly for Curly to strike. It was an opportunity he didn’t think twice (although that would imply that Curly could actually think more than once about any one thing) about taking. With a brief prayer to Heironeous Curly plunged his blade into the belly of the demon which seemed to hold its shape for a brief second before dissolving away into a pool of liquid which quickly evaporated into a yellow gas which dissipated.

Each one of us collapsed to the floor (well except Muffin who simply started to re-barricade the door he’d been working on) and, I at least, with no heed to placing any further watches, fell into a coma like sleep.

Waterday 26th Flocktime 595

The others spent the morning searching around the complex and trying to find a way into the chest. Regarding the latter, Muffin quickly got pissed off and sent a large bolt of sound into its side almost completely obliterating it. Fortunately the contents were unharmed although there wasn’t too much to speak of: some money, a few potions and some other stuff.

Regarding the former they managed to find two secret doors; one which led onto a corridor which led to another secret door which led into a wine cellar that Muffin identified as Lightboobs’ (he’d seen it when he’d scried the house), the other led to some stairs which we decided to investigate later.

I spent the morning trying to make a copy of the scrolls (not sure how successful I’ve been – it’s hard when you don’t understand the language) as no one seems willing to touch them. Grim apparently has a spell that would allow him to understand them but he’s unwilling to cast it as it would involve him touching the scrolls which he’s worried will cause him to be enchanted by the same spell that was stopping the scrolls from aging (although for someone with as few remaining years left as he looks as though he’s got, I’m thinking that it might not be a bad idea). He said that if I wanted to read them so bad I could buy a potion that would do it for me. I think I’m going to ‘cause these scrolls, from all accounts, detail a lot of stuff to do with the worms and will probably hold the key to saving the world, but apparently I’m the only one interested in that.

We met up for lunch and decided to try and get into the one place we hadn’t been; past the block of doom. Muffin cast that spell that allows him to see beyond an obstacle and described a circular room with not much in it apart from a huge worm laying on a nest of humanoid bones; an Ulgurstasta! He also spotted a small pipe that led out in the direction of one of the rooms we’d been in. Further investigation showed us that we now did have a way into the room. Sadly, I was the only one who could fit.

Muffin took this as an opportunity to suggest a shopping trip. He claimed it was to buy more potions that could turn people gaseous but personally I think he’s trying to slake his cravings. We decided that whilst he was out there he may as well make himself useful and sell the stuff we’d found as well. We figured we’d only need a couple as Muffin would be able to transport himself, Grim and Curly in and I could squeeze through the pipe leaving only Salty and Sneeze needing the potions. I also asked him to buy me that potion that would enable me to read the scrolls. If no one else is willing to do it then I guess I’m going to have to.

A few hours later (Hanseath knows what he’s been doing) Muffin returned saying that he’d sold everything but the three potions we’d found in the chest. The shop keeper had said that there were worms in them. On closer inspection we discovered that they were the green worms that infest the spawn of Kyuss.

When I suggested that we go in straight away, the blue haired wimp started complaining that he didn’t have enough spell casting ability to help combat the worm effectively (I must be missing his point) and that we should wait until tomorrow before we attempted any kind of strike. Personally I was up for going in right then and there (especially as the creature seemed to be growing in size and strength at a rate that was almost visible to the naked eye) but the others seemed to think that Muffin was right.

I’m not sure I understand these people anymore. I thought they were meant to be heroes. I thought they were meant to be loyal and faithful if not to me or the group then at least to their gods. Even Curly, the “mighty” warrior of Heironeous; does he have such little faith, such little conviction in what we’re doing that he wants to wait until it’s possibly too late? If he cannot show confidence in his beliefs and what we’re doing then how can I expect the others to do so? I thought we were trying to stop not only our assassin but the leader of a deadly evil cult that pay homage to the undead, the champion of which seemed to be resting, and growing in power even as I write.

But as much as I am disappointed with them, I’m almost ashamed of Grim. How can I follow the teachings of a man whose faith seems less than my own? The strength of my belief seems to have outgrown his. I will forever be thankful for his teachings but maybe it’s time that I started to find my own way in our worship of Hanseath.

Earthday 27th Flocktime 595

The games start today. Grim seemed a bit peeved that he won’t get the chance to compete but I believe this to be but a small punishment for his lack of conviction.

I awoke early and roused everyone. I was anxious that we defeat this creature as soon as possible and, despite the unnecessary complaints about if they were going to die they should do it on a full stomach (yet another show of their lack of faith), forced the issue before breakfast.

I crawled to the end of the pipe and waited for Muffin to transport himself and the two religious warriors past the block only to be called back as Muffin had been unable to penetrate the room. He said that the effect was much like a magical wall of energy that seemed to be surrounding the room. I went back to the end of the pipe and sure enough there was an invisible barrier blocking the end.

Struggling for ideas Grim said that he could ask Hanseath for a divination about what we should do. It seems that his faith may still be pure as Hanseath deemed him worthy of a response. Our god informed us that we could weaken the magical energy surrounding the block by a show of faith but there could be consequences if our conviction was lacking.

At this myself, Grim and Curly stepped towards the door. We held aloft our holy symbols and, as Grim had taught me, I started to try and channel the positive energy that surrounds every living thing through me and towards our obstacle. At first there was nothing but suddenly a rush of power surged through me. I could almost feel the touch of Hanseath on me and I have to admit, the shock made me falter.

As suddenly as it had appeared, the power left me and with it seemed to take some of my energy; my punishment for failing. Grim read a spell of a scroll that returned my full strength and with it a renewed determination. Once more I stepped up flanked on either side by Curly and Grim and once more I lifted my tankard towards the worm carved blockade. Once more I felt the energy. Once more the hand of Hanseath touched me; but this time I was prepared. This time I could focus. This time I did not keep the energy in me too long, for the touch of a god is too much for anyone to bear. This time I channelled the energy through me and out of my holy symbol and directed it to its target. This time my faith was rewarded and the green beam of energy faded into almost nothing.

At this point, with the magical essence weakened, Muffin cast his spell to dispel the magic and suddenly the block disappeared leaving only the room beyond and the now stirring undead worm.

Muffin sent a ball of fire exploding into the room which only served to anger the beast. It reared up to its monstrous full height and struck out like a viper and caught me in its mouth. I stabbed my dagger into its tongue in a desperate attempt to prevent myself being swallowed whole but the worm simply flicked its head back throwing me to the back of its throat where with a single gulp I was forced down into blackness the likes of which I’d never seen before.

I splashed into what must have been its stomach acid. As I resurfaced I became aware of a presence around me. I wasn’t alone in here; there were several other creatures around me. With the acid slowly burning through my clothes and making a start on my skin, I had no time to contemplate this. I simply started slashing in the dark praying that I’d be able to cut my way free. My efforts were all in vain. The acid continued to burn and I felt myself being overcome by the horrific fumes when suddenly what felt like an earthquake started. A second later the light rushed up to great me as I was ejected (ok, I was puked up) from the creature and thrown all the way out of the room and into the alter that held the scrolls.

As I stood up I discovered what the other presences had been as I found myself surrounded by skeletons and spawn of Kyuss. It was then that Grim showed me the strength of his faith by raising his tankard towards the undead destroying the skeletons and sending the spawn of Kyuss fleeing in terror; easy meat for myself, Sneeze and Salty. It was also then that I spotted Curly, who was standing alone against the ulgurstasta constantly offering prayers to Heironeous, struck out with a fearsome blow and felled the creature that would have literally eaten me for breakfast.

It is these actions that have made me reassess faith. Obviously both Grim and Curly have been deemed worthy by their deities. Maybe it is I who has gone away from what faith is all about. Have I become a zealot? Am I becoming one of those crazed St Cuthbertites? I am new to this faith thing so maybe I should take a step back and take a good look at what I’m doing and saying. I think Grim still has much to teach me.

Anyway as the fight ended the scrolls fell from where they had been standing in stasis and collapsed onto the altar, the spell on them obviously gone. I wasted little time and immediately picked them up and gulped down the potion, reading even as Grim healed my wounds. What I read at first seemed disturbing. The others almost went ashen at the words. The scrolls spoke of the evil in the ground awakening and consuming the world. It spoke of the inevitable victory and the coming of the age of worms. It spoke of doom and destruction and how all living beings would fall victim to the power beneath us.

Those were my initial thoughts. But as I transcribed it into my native tongue, I discovered something more. The power it spoke of that every living creature would be consumed by wasn’t the power of undeath: it was the power of the worm. The worms that infected the living and turned them into the living dead held more than just that power. For those strong enough they could be used to harness not only the evil essence of death but also the righteous power of good. The worms themselves aren’t evil; they simply turn those who aren’t strong enough to handle them.

However the worms contain more than just this energy. They contain knowledge about Kyuss and its minions. It is with this knowledge that they corrupt the living. The weak succumb easily but those who are strong enough can harness this power, can gain this knowledge and turn it against the wielder and cause its ultimate demise.

I now know why all the things in my life have happened. Why I was asked to go to Diamond Lake, why I came to team up with this group of people, why I was kidnapped, why Hanseath saved me and why I was swallowed by the ulgurstasta; it was so I could get to this point and understand the power that is being offered to me.

I can’t tell the others, they wouldn’t understand. Curly believes whole heartedly that the worms are a disease that needs to be cured, Muffin is too self-obsessed to see the truth, Sneeze is to pure to comprehend the possibility, Salty is too naïve to see past the literal meaning of the scrolls and Grim… well Grim would see it as an affront to the purity of the faith to try and use the power of undeath to further its cause.

No this is something I have to do alone and in secret. If the others found out they would not only try and stop me; I believe they would try and kill me.

Whilst the others were distracted with finding evidence to use against Lightboobs I took the worm-ridden potions from Muffins pack. I said that I would scout out the stairs beyond the secret door we’d found. They all thought this was a good idea and Muffin even cast an invisibility spell on me.

I got to the top of the stairs which led into a wine cellar and stopped. I took out one of the potions and poured it out onto my hand, the liquid running off onto the floor, until the small worm sat in my hand. Not wanting to think about it long enough to lose my nerve I offered a small prayer to Hanseath before placing the worm on my tongue.

I didn’t have to swallow it; the worm penetrated the roof of my mouth before I had the chance. A pain worse than the most severe of hangovers shot sharply into my brain. I wanted to bang my head against the wall until I was unconscious just to make the pain stop but I knew that this would only serve the worms purpose. I sank to my knees and punched the floor to try and regain my focus. I could feel the worm moving about, seeking a place where it could rest and begin its slow corruption of my body and soul. I felt it and battled; my will against its instinct. I felt the worm slowly cease its search. The pain started to fade and as it waned completely I felt the worm die.

It was then, not even realising that I’d closed them, that I opened my eyes to see the small pool of blood I was sitting in. My nose, mouth and even eyes had tracks of blood running from them which had ceased to flow. I quickly cleared this up before gathering myself and setting out to do what I’d said I would.

I moved out of the room I was in onto a corridor. To my right were three doors (which turned out to be cells one of which was occupied by a man who was either very drunk or very insane) and to my right was a room that I estimated to be situated above the ulgurstasta.

Off this room were three other corridors. One led to what looked like a leather works, one to a guard room and the other to a bestiary. In this room were six cells that contained large animals of all kinds. There was a corridor off this but that led to a small hallway with stairs and corridors heading off it in all directions. There was no doubt that I was in the bowels of the Free City arena. I decided it would be best to head back and tell the others what I’d found.

As I moved about I started to feel a weird, well, feeling. I could feel an energy flowing inside me much like that when I had been trying to weaken the block of doom, only this time it didn’t gather in one place threatening to explode; it flowed through me like water in a stream. It felt natural, it felt right. I had to force the grin off my face in case the others suspected anything was wrong (or if not wrong at least different) before I got to the bottom of the stairs.

The others had not been idle whilst I’d been gone. Despite not being able to find any evidence to directly link Lightboobs to the cult (other than the corridor leading to his house), they had come up with a plan that must have taken all their combined brain power: we were going to wait up a rope trick until Lightboobs came down and then jump him. The plan sounded fine in principle and so I agreed. Plus it should give me time to explore this new power.

Freeday 28th Flocktime 595

Bored now! Need to do something! It’s lunchtime already and nothings happened.

Why doesn’t Muffin decorate this room and why does he create it at the top of a rope? Maybe it’s the fun watching Grim and Curly try and climb up.

They all know! I know they know but I don’t know if they know I know they know. Or do they? If they do their playing it really calm. They must do! But how can they? Maybe Selanor made one of them invisible and they followed me. But then again I was invisible so they couldn’t have seen me. And plus none of them have the ability to sneak up on me. But then again I was in a lot of pain and that may have distracted me. Nope, none of them could fool me. If they knew, I’d know! They definitely do not know. Do they?

Raknian has just been and is now gone. He came underneath us obviously looking for his cleric and we jumped out on him. I have to admit that he was tougher than I had thought but we slew him and the three so called guards he brought with him. One of them even tried to stab me in the back but he saw death on the end of my sword.

Just read what I’ve written and wondering when did I become so sullen? I didn’t even mention Grim nearly falling out from that extra-dimensional room that Muffin created and any chance to get a cheap laugh from someone else’s incompetence is usually my first port of call. I also didn’t write about how Sneeze tripped Lightboobs up who then, instead of standing up like a normal person, proceeded to try and attack us from the floor. If I wasn’t so busy trying to kill him and his evil gang of henchmen then it would have been laughable. He kinda looked like a turtle on its back trying to right itself only he didn’t have a shell… and he had a sword in one hand… and armour on his front… ok he looked nothing like a turtle on its back!

On a more serious note; I can definitely feel that power surging through me. It was especially apparent when Grim cast a spell healing spell on me. I could feel the positive energy flowing so smoothly throughout my body taking the healing power straight to my wounds. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It was almost worth getting injured just to feel it.

Anyway, with Lightboobs and his minions dead I think it’s high time we took ourselves and the evidence above ground and joined in the festivities. Grim’s still disappointed that we were unable to enter the games and I have to admit a pang of regret myself, but that’s more to do with not having the opportunity to kick Orc-droppings backside all around the stadium than any actual reward or fame we’d have got from it.

Sadly my idea about leaving was met with mixed feelings. By which I mean everyone agreed except Curly. He thought it would be a good idea to for us to check more fully the rest of the caverns underneath the stadium to see if there were any more undead stragglers.

In a desperate attempt not to get wet I persuaded Grim to ask Hanseath to tell us if there was any or not. There was. However, sadly there was no way for him to tell us where under the stadium they were which meant that me, Salty and Sneeze had to get our swimming gear on (which looks surprisingly like our normal gear only damper) and start what seemed like an eternal trek through the underground labyrinth of narrow rocky passages in the hope that we would randomly come across pockets of undead.

The first cavern we came across was only small but it had some weird (what Muffin called) geometrical sketches on the wall (although he didn’t have a clue what they meant) with only one exit that was above ground. As we were already wet, we decided to carry on checking the underwater passages before signalling Muffin to teleport the others in.

Next we surfaced in a shallow pool that was housed in a very complex cave the most striking feature of which (other than the overwhelming stench of sweat) was the partitioned areas that were currently housing a number of rather large, mostly ugly people that seemed to care just a bit too much about their weapons and armour.

We left the coenoby and surfaced almost immediately in another large cavern. This one looked as though it had once housed an underground village. There were numerous houses in various states of disrepair carved into the rock and in its centre there was a ten foot high statue of a large man (Grim identified as a Titan) holding a big ass hammer. On one side of the room there was a passage that we could see led back into the coenoby, and on the other was another passage that had been blocked off.

We carried on our underwater search but the only things of note that we came across were a kitchen and the sewers (maybe “things of note” was the wrong term, although Grim did want to infiltrate the kitchen) so we decided to head back to the room with the patterns on the wall and (more importantly) the passage out.

Once we surfaced from the water, I led the other two along the passage until a smell I can only liken to the time that we let Curly loose in the kitchen of the Feral Dog washed over us. The source of this smell became apparent as we approached a cave; a pile of rotting flesh and bones in the middle of the floor. My wondering of how they actually got there was soon alleviated by another, even worse stench. Nine tight skinned bags of bones roused themselves from whatever slumber they were in and started moving towards us.

As the ghasts approached the three of us suddenly Muffin appeared on the other side of the room with Curly and Grim flanking him. Using the fact that our sense of smell has forever been dulled by our constant proximity to Grim, we managed to ignore the BO these creatures were giving off and made short work of them.

Whilst Muffin (in a desperate attempt to slake his addiction for treasure) searched through the bones, the rest of us checked out the two other passages leading out of this cavern. One Grim was pretty sure led back towards the titan village and the other had collapsed long ago.

With even Curly now satisfied that all the undead under the arena had been taken care of, it was now definitely time for us to leave. Muffin disappeared with the two bricks and Salty (via Lightboob’s temple to chop off and then pick up his and the flingy priest’s heads) leaving me and Sneeze to swim out in the cold, cold, ever so cold, water.

We eventually emerged into the night sky and trudged our way to the inn where the other four had spent the past hour and a half starting the celebration without us (although there isn’t much difference to a celebration if Sneeze is there or not). They didn’t even have a drink waiting for me. I trudged upstairs to change clothes and am half tempted not to go back down but my faith to Hanseath outweighs my annoyance with my group.

Starday 1st Wealsun 595

We headed down to the counsel chambers with the evidence we’d gathered only to be told that all the higher ups were at the games and that we should come back later. I am sick of this counsel. The moment my weapons are ready (I’ve put them in to be upgraded again. Seems like I’m forever doing this) I’m getting out of this godforsaken city and I hope it decays under its own filth and apathy.

We headed for the temple of Heironeous just to ensure they would support us should the counsel do their usual thing of ignoring everything we say. We told them our tale and they seemed concerned (although the counsel had seemed efficient at one stage) and offered their backing.

We were just about to leave and head for Legless’ to get him up to date, when one of the priests (on hearing our plan) stopped us. He informed us that Legless and his manservant had been assassinated a few days ago. He said that both had been garrotted and that currently there were no suspects.

I decided that we should head over anyway and see if we could find out anymore about what happened (basically because I think that anyone the counsel will have hired to investigate would either be incompetent or have another agenda).

We got past the guards outside the gate with a minimum of fuss (although I was very tempted to give them more fuss than they could deal with) and entered the house. Much to my surprise the place hadn’t been completely ransacked. Some of his stuff had gone but nothing any of us considered too major.

We only really found two things of note: firstly that Legless had been killed in his bed (there was a blood stain just under his pillow) and secondly we found a coffer that had a Legless’ notes about the age of worms prophecy along with a note addressed to Shrub-beard the privacy of which I respected about as much as I do the counsel. The note was short and simply asked that Shrub-beard take the notes to their one time master. The strange thing was that the letter was cut off mid-sentence. This raises the question of why? Personally it puts in doubt both the legitimacy of both the note and the murder. No-one half finishes a sentence and then goes to bed so either the murder didn’t happen the way it is portrayed or the note is a forgery.

Unsure what to trust we left and headed back to the counsel building and awaited the incompetents. They eventually arrived and we all piled into their chambers. I left it to the others to explain our findings; I was more intent on watching the counsellors. As Curly was monosyllabically describing our deeds I caught sight of one of the counsellors as he took a sip of his drink. It looked like a thick, dark red wine. It was only when it stained his lips and left a red moustache on his face that I recognised it for what it was: blood! The counsellor quickly wiped away the remnants with his sleeve. I looked at the other members of the ruling counsel and saw that all of them were drinking blood. One of them even poured himself a tankard full from one of the many jugs lining the tables.

I turned to see if anyone else had spotted it but only found more horror as Curly took a sip of his drink which dripped dark red onto his armour. My head no spinning I turned to the others only to find them drinking the dark viscous liquid. I felt my mouth go dry and my forehead to moisten. Salty must have seen my apprehension as she leaned towards me and took my cup and filled it up from the nearest jug. As she offered me the mug back, the smell of iron filled my nostrils. I knocked the cup from her hands sending the liquid spraying across the floor of the chambers. Suddenly all eyes were on me. It was only then, under the shocked gaze of everyone present that I saw that the liquid that had once filled my cup, and still filled everyone else’s, was clear; it was water.

I hurriedly left the chambers to get some badly needed fresh air. The others came out about an hour later and unsurprisingly wanted an explanation. I muttered something about their being a spider on Salty’s hand but they didn’t seem convinced. I can’t tell them the truth though; they’ll think I’m going crazy. Hell, I can’t blame them, not when I think they may be right.

Sunday 2nd Wealsun 595

Spent last night distracting myself and the others (especially Grim) with an impromptu victory drink and am paying for it this morning. I don’t know what went on last night but I’m guessing it must have been something good ‘cause I woke up with some deep scratches on my chest.

I think my hallucination yesterday must have been caused by the past few days catching up on me. That and the fact the counsel are a load of vampires sucking the life out of the city but hey, they did say that they’d check out our story (nice of them to believe us, we’ve only saved the city the three times now) and that if everything was as we said a nice reward would be ours.

I decided that as a few of us had sent our weapons off or placed orders for other magical paraphernalia (Sneeze ordered a magical belt for some bizarre reason) and that Muffin was salivating at the possibility that he’d have the few shops that had remained open during the games to himself that we should simply send a messenger to Shrub-beard regarding Legless and get him to come to us.

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