Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

The Gathering of Winds Pt 2

Still wondering why

Waterday 26th Wealsun 595

Before we’d even finished breakfast that ungrateful rat disappeared in a puff of his own arrogance. He said that he couldn’t offer us any assistance but that we should continue on as he believed the Wind-dukes could have some weapons hidden in their tombs that could aid us in our quest. If we do find any I’m going to take them and introduce Tramp-face to a game we Halflings like to call “Stab the unbelievably full-of-himself wizard with as many pointy things as you can in an attempt to produce as many different sounds out of as many different orifices as you can, both natural and newly formed, before the scumbag dies in extreme agony”. Catchy don’t you think?

Still harbouring that frustration I ran through the lightning room swiftly followed by Sneeze. The lightning trap must have some kind of intelligence as it avoided going for me and struck out at my less nimble colleague catching him just before he got to the stairs.

The slab that had blocked the pit was gone and so I started the climb down. Sneeze, in an act which I’m not sure was an attempt to intimidate me or to protect me from whatever dangers might be below (both acts equally futile) simply jumped off the edge and bounced from wall to wall all the way to the bottom.

As I reached the floor the iron slab at the top moved across blocking out the light from above. From the corridor on our left I heard the roaring sound of water rushing quickly towards us. Wasting no time we both started up the ladder keeping just ahead of the ever rising water level. We reached the top and Sneeze immediately started hammering away against the barrier. The fool wasted his time and energy though as the water level didn’t rise sufficiently high to catch us and after a few minutes it started to fall and eventually disappeared along the right-hand corridor.

Feeling that the pit was now secure we ventured down to the bottom once more and called for the others to come across. Muffin duly obliged and transported the non-runners directly to the bottom of the pit. Expecting the water to flow once more we quickly made our way along the right-hand corridor to find an iron door that Curly took extreme exception to with his adamantine sword. Beyond this was a very strange sight. To our left was a large red waterfall descending init a mixture of spray and darkness. To our right was a ledge that rimmed the room and ended in a set of stairs that led up to a wall blank wall.

Sneeze once again showed off his ever improving grasshopper impression by jumping from the door to the ledge. The rest of us who are not so insecure we need to show off every minute of the day (or for everyone else, who couldn’t actually get both fee off the ground at the same time without falling down the stairs) waited for a rope to be tied off and climbed the short distance.

Despite the old ‘stairs leading to a secret door’ trick (once again I’m unimpressed by the wind-dukes creativity) Grim suggested we head down the waterfall straight away. Paying our usual amount of attention to one of his drunken comments we headed up the stairs. The door led into a short room covered in red ice and housing six ice encrusted statues, all with cupped hands held out in front of them. Hovering above the hands of all but one of these were statuettes of buildings. As we neared the empty handed statue I spotted that it was standing in front of a door just before the portcullis dropped from the ceiling above me.

I dived through as iron met stone leaving Sneeze and Muffin stranded on the other side as the empty-handed statue reached out and pointed at Curly. As the black beam shot into him Curly’s ruddy face visibly paled (at one point I thought his hair was going to straighten). The three of us trapped on the right side of the portcullis (or wrong side depending on your point of view) flew at the (by now identified as a) Kolyarut Inevitable whilst Sneeze began battering his way through the portcullis.

Once more our weapons seemed ineffectual against the construct and with each touch of that creature Curly seemed to get weaker and weaker. Muffin, safe on the other side of the portal, created a huge ball of lightning and dropped it on the monster. The electricity crackled through our latest foe, jolting it from side to side. We backed away and let the electricity do its job. The inevitable fell just as the iron portcullis succumbed to Sneeze’s brutal blows.

Eager to see what such a powerful construct of law could be guarding we opened the door to find treasures beyond belief. No wait… that was another room guarded by a different creature that I dreamt of once – this one was empty… starkers… more is found in Curly’s head.

Leaving the room we slid through the archway beyond the five inanimate statues into a long room with one door at the end and a large ice encrusted statue at either end. Pondering what to do, our decision was made for us as the statues animated and attacked. These (fortunately) were identified as Ice Constructs which were chipped and melted away under our furious attacks.

As we approached the only door left un-investigated a loud… slopping (for want of a better word) was clearly audible from beyond. Stealing ourselves for another battle we opened the door only to find that the entire sunken floor of the room was covered in a (soon identified) magical pool of swirling slush. Muffin, in a fit of verbal diarrhoea, spouted some useless information about how the wind-dukes used magical creatures such as (what he explained in painful detail – seriously; it made me long for the good old days when Kullen used to beat me up for my ale money) Snow Weirds as soothsayers.

With the fact that it wasn’t hurting anyone (and more specifically not hurting us) we closed the door behind us and left it to its soothsaying before heading back to the waterfall where I decided that we should rest to allow Curly to regain his lost strength and for Grim to pray fro the blessings of Hanseath to heal our wounds.

Earthday 27th Wealsun 595

They left me to die. They actually left me to die. They saw me fall, they knew what awaited below and yet they still left me stranded down there for who knows how long with a group of the vilest undead who by all rights should have feasted on my flesh before they planned to show up and “rescue me” just a minute or two too late. Why would they be that afraid of me? Have they seen my scars? Do they know what I’ve done, what I’m becoming? They can’t know – they’d have killed me before now if they did. Unless they’re afraid of me or don’t have the stomach to do the job themselves. Maybe this was the opportunity they’d been waiting for – a guilt free way of getting rid of me. If that is the case then I can’t stay out of their proximity for any length of time in the future lest another opportunity arises.

The day started out as normal with the usual people annoying me from the off with their intense study of their spell books or vocal snivelling to gods in order to stay in their favour (don’t get me wrong, I pray as well but at least I have the courtesy to keep it brief and quiet), or with their silent meditation. Whatever I said about her, at least Salty would talk to you during breakfast.

With the daily rituals out of the way we stepped to the edge of the waterfall and, putting more trust in Muffin than I think he’s earned, jumped of the edge as he cast a spell that allowed us to float down as gently as a feather (apart from Sneeze who used the ring that Salty gave to him to try and make me jealous before she left). All was going well until the pit started to narrow which wouldn’t have been a problem until Muffin informed us that if we put a foot down then the spell would end. I’m not sure if he does it on purpose or he’s just incompetent but surely that’s something we should have known before we made this leap of faith. Thinking quickly I ordered Curly to throw up our magical rope and, as the edge sloped towards us, we all grabbed on and allowed Sneeze to guide us through the small, winding path that the blood red water had carved through the rock like a worm burrowing through the wet earth.

The passage opened out once more and formed a shallow pool on a ledge before overflowing once more falling into the darkness below. Muffin informed us that his spell was running low on time (at least he let us know before we fell to our deaths) and that this would be a good place to re-cast.

As we approached the (what turned out to be) deep pool I heard a whooshing from above. Just before I sank beneath the water I spotted six wind-warriors swooping down on us from above. I held my breath fro as long as I could before remembering that Grim had cast a spell that let us breathe water (even rank red water). By the time I was heaved out of the water by a very large Grim, the wind-warriors had fled past us down the waterfall.

Knowing that they were going to be laying in wait in some nook or cranny we steeled ourselves against the battle to come before Muffin recast his spell and we dived off the edge of the pool. Despite this preparation when the attack came it was swift and brutal. Three wind-dukes appeared next to me and slashed at me furiously with their swords. Such was the ferocity of their attack I felt I had no choice but to let go of the rope and fall to the waterfall below. Just as I was caught up in the raging torrent I saw Grim whirling his axe around his head catching three of the wind-warriors in its blurred arc.

I’m not sure how far I fell but I was buffeted around from rock to boulder and eventually out into the open air. I tried to tight myself in mid-flight but the water still impacted like concrete. I managed to remain conscious and dragged myself to the edge of the pool before I could be pulled along too much by the current. I lay on the bank trying to catch my breath when a shadow fell over me and a voice as cold as Sneeze’s personality greeted me with the chilling words:

“My friends, we have a visitor.”

I forced myself to open my eyes already fearing what I might see but my imagination hardly prepared me for the truth. Above me was a tall man that exuded the unmistakable aura of a powerful undead. This image was only exemplified by the appearance of his “friends” – four mohrgs complete with their barbed tongues and writhing viscera. I stood and back away from the group, shielding my eyes from the lantern the Marquis was shining towards me.

I knew I had to stall until the others arrived. The Marquis was obviously intelligent and so despite my disdain for undead of any kind I began a dialogue. My charm didn’t seem to work and the creatures advanced on me. I rolled up my sleeves to prepare myself for what I was convinced would be my last battle when the Marquis stopped in his tracks. He was staring intently at my arms or more specifically at the scars on my arms.

“You are tainted, yet you still live?”

I was unsure whether it was a question or a statement but I needed to keep him talking. I revealed what I had done, what I was becoming. I told him my reasons for doing it. I told him all about the scrolls and the prophecy, about the coming of the Age of Worms and Kyuss. I told him about the dreams of worms and death. I told him everything I was too afraid to tell any of my so-called friends for fear of the reprisal that would come (that they were enacting out as I spoke…?). The creature listened to the whole story without interruption and, at its end, uttered the words I have only dared dream someone would say to me:

“I understand.” It felt like I’d been carrying Grim on my back for the past month and I’d finally put him down. This creature of unspeakable evil, a member of the undead legion had performed an act of forgiveness and altruism that even the most virtuous of my so called friends were incapable of even contemplating. With those two words my most hated enemy granted me absolution. It was almost a shame when the others flew in from the dark passage.

The sight of a flying monk dragging a holy warrior of Heironeous, an elf wearing the unmistakable garb of a wizard followed by a giant dwarf shouting profanities shook the Marquis from his reverie. The mohrgs quickly surrounded me and all lashed out with their tongues. I dodged two but, in dodging the third I moved directly into the path of the forth. My body froze stock still as the barbed appendage roughly caressed my face. Moments later I felt a large hand touch my back and immediately the feeling came back. I attacked the nearest mohrg with all the rage I could but the creature took hold of me trying to stifle my attacks. With one arm pinned in the creatures vice like grip I struck out with my free hand. As the blade sunk into the creature I suddenly felt a surge of power, the same feeling that I get when Grim casts a healing spell on me only this time the energy surged from me and into the undead monster that screamed in agony. With renewed vigour I plunged my blade in again and again, deeper and stronger with each blow until it fell.

Such was my fervour that I almost forgot about the Marquis who had opened out his cape and risen in the air above the river. Cackling the creature pointed a wand at Muffin and shot out a beam that struck unerringly. If possible he turned whiter than usual. The beam struck once more before he took sanctuary behind Grim.

At this point Sneeze flew up and engaged the creature in aerial combat. Within seconds though Sneeze succumbed to the paralyzing effects of the Marquis’ touch. With the last of the mohrgs falling beneath Curly’s blade, it was with a heavy heart that I unslung my sling and sent a bullet shooting to the heart of the beast that had exonerated me. I swear it smiled before its lifeless eyes voided themselves of what little spark they had.

I sank to my knees in a mixture of relief and regret looked up just in time to see the body start to glow. Suddenly a green force seemed to tear itself away from the body that instantly fell into the water. The spectre grinned as it swooped towards us. Its offence was short lived however as with one mighty swing of his sword Curly vanquished the remnants of my unlikely saviour.

We searched the cavern to try see if we could find any of these weapons that the wind-dukes were meant to have created but to little avail. We did find a large round crystal that had three runes written in the wind-duke language on it. Muffin tried to identify it but said that the item was too powerful for his magic to penetrate. Carefully Curly picked it up to put it in a sack but as he laid a hand on it smoke started to form around it. We backed away as the smoke dissipated to reveal two large dark-skinned humanoids that almost immediately disappeared. Muffin, still weakened by the wand summoned up what little reserves he had left and sprayed the entire area in a sparkling dust that settled on the monsters making them visible and seemingly blind. We picked these poor unfortunates off with ease before prodding the gem into a bag with the end of Curly’s sheath.

The others are asleep now and it’s taking all my willpower not to slit each one of their treacherous throats. Where in the nine hells were they? They should have been there moments after me. I even feared that they may have been slain by the wind-warriors but now I know the truth; they were hoping that the creatures at the end of the river would finish off what the fall started. They would have thought that their entrance was timed so that I could see them riding to my “rescue” just before I succumbed to the long sleep. Oh how they underestimated me, thinking me witless enough to silently succumb to their death-trap. One good thing has come out of all this though – at least I know none of them has the guts to do it themselves. It is in this knowledge that I am going to sleep soundly in my enemy’s camp tonight, and every night until I deem it time to end the relationship.

Starday 1st Richfest 595

I didn’t write in the diary yesterday as I wasn’t feeling to well; I’d contracted a mild case of death. I’m feeling loads better today though.

Yesterday started well enough with everyone having to wait around until Grim and Muffin shook off the effects of the wand that the Marquis had used on them and so we didn’t get moving until after lunch (or breakfast in Grim’s case). I decided that we should investigate the multitude of nooks and crannies that were dotted around on the waterfall and also decided that the best way to do this would be for Muffin to fly up there alone and scout them out before transporting the rest of us up should anything of interest be found. What he discovered was very interesting indeed.

He came back and informed us that he’d found a secret door at the end of one of the passages which, after getting transported up there and me checking them out for any traps, we opened up to discover a set of carved stairs leading up. We followed these until we came to another door which opened up into a chamber with the most impressive set of doors I’ve ever seen. These things were massive and shiny. Grim identified them as being made out of adamantine.

We approached them in order to try and read the multiple runes and inscriptions but as we did I suddenly started to shake uncontrollably. Every part of my body felt as though it was having its own mini earthquake only the aftershocks kept rumbling on. I turned to see that Grim and Muffin were suffering the same but Curly and Sneeze seemed unaffected.

Despite this (or more likely due to the fact that he gets the shakes on a fairly regular basis, if for a different reason) Grim ventured forward and touched the door whilst casting a spell in order to interpret the language. Most of the runes were curses against the forces of chaos but a set at the centre that crossed both doors were slightly more flowery:

“Dare not enter the tomb of Icosial, Lord of Aaqu, wandering Duke, bearer of the Rod of Law. His righteous peace and glorious memory are best left to the ages and his enemies are best left forever sleeping.”

Ignoring this completely, Sneeze (the person we deemed most like the wind-dukes i.e. the most boring) reached into my haversack and pulled out the runed crystal and held it towards the doors. As the smoke poured from it, Sneeze uttered three words that he later said had simply appeared in his mind: Aqaa, Icosial, Peche. The smoke instantly disappeared (as did my shakes) and slowly the doors opened up to reveal a room that reminded me of the stepping stones across the river I used to play in as a child, only these weren’t stepping stones and the consequences for missing a step seemed a bit more severe than a wet bum. Pillars of increasing height whose base disappeared into mist below were spaced along the length of this entire chamber. At the end of this gauntlet was a ledge in front of another set of huge shiny double doors. Deciding that Grim and Curly were particularly ill equipped to hop from pillar to post Muffin (whose limitations were about to cost us big time) once again transported everyone apart from Sneeze across to the far side. Sneeze then used the cloak we’d taken from the Marquis to fly across after us. As he took off the mist began to stir and as quick as the wind, up shot two huge creatures seemingly made of the air itself and clubbed him with massive airy appendages. Sneeze managed to adroitly dodge around them and flew to where the rest of us were cramped together on the ledge. Knowing there was no way that we could fight these creatures in these tight conditions I jumped to the nearest pillar. As my feet touched down I managed to get my balance just in time feel the pillar start to collapse. As I feared I would fall into the mist Grim frantically prayed to Hanseath for a miracle. One came in the form of a stone platform that melded into another pillar and the ledge on which they were standing.

I managed to get to the safety of this scaffold just as the (now identified as) air elementals wound themselves up (literally) into massive whirlwinds. I tried to dodge out of their way but the strength of the tornado sucked me in. I realise now that I stood no chance of avoiding this as the pull was that strong they even managed to pick up Grim and Curly (although the one that picked up Grim barely had the strength to do lift his girth and as such didn’t have the resources left to even lift Muffin’s girly frame). As I was spun violently around I was un aware that the creatures had moved at all so it came as a bit of a shock when they stopped and we found ourselves in mid air at the centre of the room. There was the briefest of seconds in which we seemed to hang before I started to plummet. Just before I disappeared into the mist I spotted Muffin casting and Grim and Curly seemingly halt their descent.

I tried to right myself as I fell for who knows how far (I was later told five hundred feet so I guess everyone knows) but I was unable to see the ground through the mist and so the impact, when it came, was huge. I felt and heard several ribs snapping on impact and my head split open pouring blood and violently as the waterfall. For several moments I tried to regain at least some of the breath that had been forced from me before gingerly standing on legs that at least one of was broken.

The sounds of battle could be heard above and seemed to be getting louder as I staggered around the edge of the room looking in vain for a way out. I circled the entire room with no luck so I decided to put myself in as defensible position as I could and wait for the elementals to come and finish me off. When they came however, they were not alone. I heard Grim’s cursing, Curly’s grunting and Sneeze’s screaming as they continued the battle that had raged the entire depth of the pit. Muffin, coward and traitor that he is, had remained above out of all danger.

I started to move out to help but something inside wouldn’t let me go. A voice inside me spoke. It reminded me that it was these people that had let me fall to my death. That they, in league with Muffin, had saved themselves from the fate they saw fit to impart on me; it would be right and just that they die at the hands of the very creatures they probably summoned to kill me. Another thought wiped the grin that I didn’t even know I’d formed from my face; without these people I was stuck down here and would eventually starve to death. I went against the voices of vengeance and made my way to the sounds of battle, a decision that proved fatal. Obviously still under control of whichever one of the traitorous scum that summoned them the creatures struck me with all there might.

Next there was blackness. Death was not how I’d imagined it. There was no light, no colour, no Hanseath to guide me to that giant party in the sky. Only eternal, infinite black. Well, not quite; more temporary then eternal, which was a surprising bonus!

Even more surprising was the source of the brief nature of my demise. It was Grim who brought me back. The person I feared was leading the coup against me. Why would he bring me back when he’d got what he wanted? Someone else must be pulling the strings and whoever it is, they must be raging with Grim. This could give me the opportunity to find out – whoever is frosty with Grim, that’s my man. I know why he brought me back though – jealousy. He didn’t want me to be in the blessed company of Hanseath before him. I knew he was envious of my connection with our deity but I didn’t realise his feelings ran deep enough to defy his mortal master, whoever that may be.

When I woke up we were once again up one of Muffin’s extra-dimensional rooms. Everyone else was, and is still, asleep. I looked outside and the surrounding mist let me know that we were still at the bottom of the pit although when Muffin finally got the guts to come down is something I’ll have to find out.

According to Grim it was just after Curly shouted up that the elementals were dead. He’s my new front runner. Sure he took the softly, softly approach but he’s not going to catch this monkey, not now. He had his chance, which to be fair he took, but it wasn’t good enough. A good leader should be in full control of those under them – no surprise he’s not one. Still I mustn’t underestimate him; after all that’s what he did to me. Other than exposing Muffin for what he is, one other thing has come from my death; I might be able to turn Grim back to me. Even if his motives were selfish, his actions mean that he’s not completely under Muffin’s spell… Spell? Is that it? Is that how he’s controlling the others? Has he cast some kind of dweomer on them! Clearly whatever he’s tried hasn’t worked on me and Grim is slowly breaking its hold. Perhaps the same might happen with the other two, although I don’t hold out much hope of Curly having the strength of mind to manage it.

When everyone was up, suited and booted, the latest pretender to my throne transported us back to the top of the pillars where we tried to find a way to open the second set of massive doors. Knowing the expense the wind-dukes had previously gone to to put false doors in stupid places I joked that this might be another example of their decadent and wasteful nature. Many a true word is spoken in jest. On the top of one of the pillars we found a circular indentation which even Curly could work out the crystal we’d found would fit into. As soon as the crystal hit the stone the pillar started to rise. It continued to climb high up to the top of the chamber halting only a few feet from the ceiling. As our lift came to a halt our ascent continued. We rose up until our heads came within inches of the rock above before suddenly found ourselves in different room.

This room had all the hallmarks of a tomb; that is to say it had a sarcophagus in it. The walls were decorated with pictures of a funeral procession filled with all manner of creatures associated with air and law. The sarcophagus itself was suspended in the air on the far side of the tomb, a life-size carving on its lid showed Icosial at rest, his two swords lying on his chest.

We stepped in the room, my worries regarding Muffin fading with the awe of the chamber. That feeling was son also completely faded when, out of nowhere, a large red demon with eyes covering its entire body appeared in front of us. Licking its lips it stepped forward, squishing several eyes on the soles of his feet with each pace.

Starday 1st Richfest 595 cont.

The beast wasted little time in eying (get it!) us up before spreading its arms wide, an action that resulted in multiple images of itself appearing around it, before shooting black rays out of three of its eyes catching Curly, Grim and Muffin with the crackling of negative energy. They all seemed to shrug this off and as one we advanced on the beast…No wait… yep, I remember now; I was the only one who advanced on the beast. I think Sneeze started to but before he moved he became frozen in place. Grim raised a tankard to the air and slurred some words in praise to Hanseath and Curly seemed to become fascinated with Sneeze and started prodding him. Muffin, scum that he is, at least did something pointful, producing a sphere of acid on the oculus demon (he even managed it with his eyes closed claiming he didn’t want to make eye contact. Not sure he had anything to worry about; I’m pretty sure the demon didn’t want to make eye contact with him either – it’d have been too afraid that Muffin might take this as a sign and engage it in conversation, a fate way worse than any spell the blue haired Tramp-face wannabe could possibly cast).

I closed the distance on the beast and slashed away with my kukri’s trying my best not to shield my gaze from the beast but I only managed to destroy one of its false images. Sneeze, who obviously being boosted by my presence had overcome his stage-fright, waded in with flurry after flurry of blows aimed that the creature but only had as much success as myself. As I slashed away I suddenly felt my blows becoming faster. Muffin was putting in a sterling display for us and, for the briefest of moments, a slight doubt as to the black nature of his character almost crept in. The door on that though was firmly shut as the beast shot him with another beam and, with his usual masculinity, he screamed and disappeared from the room in a puff of his own cowardice.

Struggling to discern the beast from its images Curly did something that, although bourn out of extreme stupidity turned out to probably be the smartest thing he’s ever done; he closed his eyes. Now, not sure what his logic was but it turned out that by removing his eyes from the decision making process and just rely on his instinct he was able to slash through the images and straight to the beast itself. The notion that something this genius had emerged from Curly’s brain made me go wide eyed with shock, a mistake that the beast took advantage of. He locked my gaze and shot a beam towards me. Instantly I was overcome with a nausea only rivalled by the time I let Grim in the kitchen of the Feral Dog.

I somehow managed to swallow down the bile, close my eyes and continue my attacks joined by the rest of my group that were left in the room. The ferocity of our unsighted attacks soon forced the creature to retreat into a corner. Buoyed by its obvious fear I pursued with renewed fervour fully expecting my allies to join me. Sadly it seems I was expecting too much. Curly, Sneeze and Grim all stood back and took a break from the battle. Curly and Sneeze would later claim that the beast had struck them with such power that they were forced to focus their inner energies in order to heal themselves but I know the truth; they simply spotted another opportunity to get rid of me guilt free. They must think my wits as stunted as theirs.

Grim however showed further signs of breaking Muffin’s hold over him by contributing something useful. Channelling the power of Hanseath he threw a tankard full of ale over the demon and his images. As soon as the liquid came into contact with the true form of the beast its images melted into nothing.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the blue-haired wimp (who’s at least smart enough to know that he can’t trust his minions to finish me off) reappear in the room. Of course this act of bravery was tempered by the fact that he was conveniently as far away from the beast as he could be without leaving the room.

With this re-emergence and with the demons primary defence mechanism disabled, Curly and Sneeze suddenly finished their so-called healing and waded back into melee. In desperation the beast shot beam after black beam from its eyes at anyone it could lay sight on (which was pretty much everyone) before finally succumbing to a thunderous blow from Curly’s sword.

My immediate thought was to turn my rage onto my truest enemy but with the battering that I’d taken from the demon through the inactions of my once and future comrades forced me to hold my vengeance in check… for today at least. I settled for resting and watching as Sneeze used the cloak once more to fly up to where the sarcophagus hung. Embossed on the top was the figure of (what we assumed to be) Icosial only this time, instead of the two swords crossing his body his hands were cupped as if holding an object that wasn’t there. It didn’t even take Curly long to realise that the crystal would fit (although the look of realisation only dawned on his gormless face after we plucked it from the pillar.

As Sneeze placed the crystal in the awaiting hands the top of the sarcophagus shimmered and disappeared leaving the crystal floating in mid air above the now dusty remains of the once High-lord of the wind-dukes. The poignancy was lost on the others but not on me. This man, a great leader who had believed it was his destiny to dedicate his life to one impossible mission and nearly succeeded during his time in this mortal lay in here forgotten and crumbled into dust as was the kingdom he ruled. He surrendered everything to save not only himself and his kind from the denizens of chaos but to save all those who didn’t even know that his species had ever roamed the same world as them. And yet somehow I know that none of that would matter to him. Not the fact that his ultimate sacrifice was unknown to almost everyone it saved; not the fact that his species is all but wiped out; and not that we were here now looting his tomb. All that mattered to him was his mission and the protection and safety of every living creature on the planet from his mortal enemies.

This realisation cast a bright light on my actions! What have I been doing? Why have I been being so petty? So what if Muffin wants the leadership of the group; so what if he has the rest of them under some kind of mind-controlling spell; so what if they all want me dead. They’ll get their wish sooner or later whether it be by their own hands, the hands of some monstrous being or through the ravages of time. None of it matters. The world won’t remember. My deeds and my life will be as dust and the world will not remember me, my actions or my death. But none of that matters! What does matter is that the world survives so that people can form their own memories from their own time. But in order for that to happen I need to refocus; I need to remember what I’m here for! What my destiny is! I am here to stop another force bent on the worlds destruction and, like Icosial, I must be willing to put my life and my petty worries behind me in order for to see this completed. I must see the bigger picture.

I am here to see to it that Kyuss doesn’t rise… by any means necessary. It doesn’t matter that Deree Silentfoot won’t go into the annals of history as the saviour of the world. What will matter is that the world will be saved. Who knows, maybe someday someone will raid my tomb and gain inspiration from my unsung deeds but even that is almost meaningless. All that matters is that I see to it that that person has a world in which to raid my grave.

I almost lost myself in these thoughts. I barely noticed Sneeze take Icosial’s swords, ring and what looked like the end piece of an ornate staff before resealing the sarcophagus. It was only when we arrived at the lightning room that I was brought back to reality. Muffin once again pitifully tried to get rid of me by letting me run through once more before transporting everyone else across. I couldn’t help but laugh. He’s so narrow minded that he doesn’t realise the bigger picture. I’ll still have to keep an eye on him; after all, I can’t stop the Age of Worms if I’m dead.

We decided to rest up in another of Muffin’s rooms on a rope before we confronted the spider (another creature I now can’t summon up the desire to hate) and finished checking out the rest of the tomb.

Sunday 2nd Richfest 595

Muffin was up half the night (and not just because Grim snored like a gutted wild boar) studying the fragment of staff we’d found and had come to the conclusion that it was a part of the legendary Rod of Seven Parts (so famous that he’s the only one who’s heard of it). Not sure what that means but he seemed… well, giddy at the prospect.

The spider also seemed fairly giddy (or whatever the arachnid equivalent is… spiddy?) with our presentation of the Marquis’ head. It returned the spear to us before disappearing once more into the shadowy realm it called home (I used to have a home… it wasn’t much; only a cart at the back of a rundown inn but at least it wasn’t grey. I wonder how Lavender’s doing. Seems like years since I’ve seen the old girl).

With the spider gone we wasted little time in opening the single door in its room. This led into a small shrine that had a couple of unusual features: firstly there was a suit of armour standing opposite (fortunately I was fast enough to explain to Curly that there was no-one actually in it before he demolished it) and a door painted on the side wall. What in the hells is their obsession with doors? I mean they’re every-bloody-where and most of them lead no-bloody-where. Why couldn’t they have had an obsession with something useful like diamonds or weapons or cake.

Whilst I was pondering the lack of baked goods something visited through the door, and without the courtesy of knocking. Although how a very large incorporeal undead creature knocks on a fake door I wouldn’t know so maybe it was more an inability to perform the task than a lack of manners. Either way it came as a bit of a shock when (what was later identified as) the dread wraith suddenly appeared next to me and lashed out with one of its black limbs. It obviously hadn’t heard the legend of Deree Silentfoot otherwise it would have known to pick on one of the others. The realisation hit it too late as I dodged the blow and reciprocated with one of my own that struck deep into its arm.

Obviously realising exactly who it was dealing with the ghost wannabe disappeared back through the door and out of sight. With the confines of the room allowing the undead to slip in and out without fully exposing itself I ordered people back into the larger spider room where we positioned ourselves around Muffin in the centre of the room. The wraith continued its ht and run tactics but sadly for it our hits were a lot harder and our runs a lot faster… wait, it didn’t quite come out right… I’m going to stop now.

The bottom line was that the wraith went from undead all the way to plain old dead leaving us with only the double doors opposite (where we were promised the xorns would be) left to explore on the lower level. We opened them up to the roaring sound of the River of Blood rushing through the chamber the other side of which was another set of double doors. A crumbling bridge offered a less than appealing path across which we declined in favour of Muffin Transports Ltd.

As soon as we landed some of the weirdest looking creatures I’d ever seen (well at least since the time I was unfortunate enough to catch a look at Muffin as he came out of the wash room wearing nothing but a towel and a smile – both of which very regrettably fell) appeared from the rock. I don’t really know what I expected xorns to look like but it certainly wasn’t this. I mean what type of creature had three three legs? I did once know a guy called ‘Tripod’ Jones but I’m not sure that’s the same thing.

Anyway three legs or not these things had worse balance than Grim after a four day binge, a fact that Sneeze took full advantage of. Legs were flying everywhere as these things went from tripod to timber before being pummelled to death as they tried to stand. I have to say I didn’t think Sneeze was quite that ruthless but he beat those flailing mounds of arms and legs like he was clubbing baby owlbears.

With Sneeze’s bashing spree combined with Grim’s newly found spinning axe attacks (not sure whether he does it on purpose or he just over reaches; either way the method has merit) and Curly’s old ‘stick the large sharp metal thing in my hands in the thing directly in front of me what is trying to hit me’ technique the xorns were soon no more.

You know I wrote before about how I respected Icosial and what he’d stood for; well I’ve changed my mind. I hate the wind-dukes and all their stupid race ever believed in, especially doors! When I eventually settle down my house is having nothing but archways. If I never see another door my whole life I’ll die a happy, happy, ecstatic person. My sudden loathing to this particular method of baring an entry has come about through an intense session of aversion therapy where by I was subjected to four, count them four, doors that appeared to be trapped (but weren’t) that led not to the lost treasure of the wind-dukes or the lair of the most foul beast ever to have ravaged the world we live in; no! They led to a stone wall! A stone-bloody-wall! A blank, sodding, common as you like stone-bloody-wall!

Such was not only my… annoyance doesn’t really come close to how we felt but I don’t really have the words to describe it. Grim I think probably does but I’m obviously not as eloquent as he is… that Grim decided he didn’t want to spend anymore time in this place than was absolutely necessary. With that he poured himself several large tankards of ale which disappeared faster than Tramp-face when confronted by a little girl armed with a skipping rope before plonking himself down on the floor and slurring a lot of what we assumed were questions to Hanseath regarding the nature of what was left in this forsaken tomb and whether it was worth us looking around the rest of it. Our god answered his prayers with a resounding ‘get the hell out before you die of frustration’… either that or Grim lied (either was fine with me) and we left the Whispering Cairn; hopefully forever.

Moonday 3rd Richfest 595

I thought long and hard about two things last night. Firstly I think I’m going to keep Icosial’s short sword. Not only can it do funky things like electrocute people when you hit them and let you fly (hah! Try dropping me off a five hundred foot cliff now!) but I’ve reconsidered my latest opinion of him. After all he didn’t build his own tomb so can’t really be blamed for the anger I’m still overcoming about that, and I feel it would be apt if I used the weapon of a legendary champion that had saved the world previously to do so again. That way the sword would be ingrained into the stories of two legendary heroes!

As for the second thing I’ve been wondering; is murder still against the law as I feel it my duty to kill Tramp-face before he tries to kill me and my group again. He’s been trying to ever since we met. Think about it! He sent us into the Whispering Cairn the first time we met him. He then tried to bore us to death on that journey to Blackwall Keep and when we got there he abandoned us to the mercy of an army of lizardmen. He then sent us to that metropolis of assassins that is the Free City and, when we survived that, lured us back into the cairn where he almost succeeded what he started all those months ago by frustrating us to death with doors that lead nowhere. I’m thinking self-defence is a well justified defence in this case your honour. I am however putting a positive spin on this as I feel this actions shows that he thinks that I’m going to fulfil my destiny; he must have had some foresight as to my true providence in stopping the prophecy of the coming of Kyuss and his army of worms and so has been trying to kill me and my group before I could succeed. This would however mean that he is an agent of Kyuss and if that is the case, why haven’t I sensed the stench ridden aura emanating from his inadequate, pasty body? He does wear that magical tiara all the time – maybe that blocks his innate evil essence from escaping. When Muffin and the others head to the Free City to sell the treasure we’d managed to acquire from the cairn, I think I’ll have to have a private word with his boss.



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