Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

Whispering Cairn Pt 2

Where it all began... again... sort of

Waterday 12th Planting 595

Muffin woke up fresh and ready for another full day of casting his spells. He must have had a really good sleep as the first spell he cast (one that produced a ray of frost from his finger) completely destroyed the mould by the door to the sculptors workshop. If he’s had a spell of such power all along, why hasn’t he cast it before instead of waving his hands about and throwing tiny magical dots at our enemies? I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: wizards!

Once the mould had gone we went into the room. Muffin immediately went up to the egg and started to take some rubbings of the glyphs that had been inscribed in gold on its black surface. As he started suddenly the egg began to change shape. We all took a few steps back to see what would happen. A mouth formed and let out a shout in a language none of us recognised. Salty and Muffin tried to communicate with it but the egg beast ignored them and flung itself at Muffin. It dropped him quicker than Tira had which meant that for the course of the battle we were denied his mighty offensive spells. Curly showed me why I’d been right to save him by walking up to the creature and killing it with one mighty swing of his sword. Grim cast some healing magic on Muffin who leapt up like nothing had happened.

We searched the rest of the room and found nothing of interest apart from the staff that the warrior statue was holding. It was of extremely fine quality but had six grooves along its length that seemed to divide it into seven parts.

We pulled out the staff and decided to take all the stuff we’d found to Shrub-beard to see which of these finds he wanted and also to see if he could tell us the properties of the magical items we’d found. Muffin claimed he could do it if he had the correct components but going on his record so far I’m betting that’s just an excuse to cover the fact that his brain can’t cope with the complexity of a decent spell.

Shrub-beard took the statuettes and the staff but said he wasn’t interested in the tools. He did however tell us what each magical item did. Two of the tools turned out not to be tools at all: they’re wands. One creates an invisible helper that can lift and move light objects around the other can cause brittle things like glass to shatter. Shrub-beard said the third tool was a pair of goggles that allowed you to see things close up with more clarity.

The magical ring let you fall long distances as lightly as a feather would and the vials contained potions of healing. The magical pearl turned out to allow a spell caster to cast another low level spell (are there any others?) per day. At this announcement Muffin’s eyes lit up. Not sure why. The prospect of having one more opportunity per day to humiliate myself is not something I’d particularly relish.

Anyway we left Shrub-beards and headed over to Osgood’s where we sold the really nice leather armour and then we headed to Tidwowd’s (a gnome jeweller) to sell the silver ring and the ruby. We also tried to sell him the goggles but the cheap little garden ornament didn’t even offer us half of what it’s worth. We also managed to get rid of the wands to some poor unsuspecting spell casters.

We then split all the money up and people went off to spend it. Salty bought a weird curved blade called a scimitar and a chain shirt and Curly bought some banded mail.

The day only half gone we decided to head back to the Whispering Cairn to continue looking for the red lantern. On the way we dished out the items we’d found. We each got a healing potion; Grim got the nice chainmail; Salty got the ring; they foist the goggles onto me but worse than that Muffin got the pearl.

Arriving back at the cairn we went to the one place we hadn’t searched: the water. No-one seemed particularly keen to go in but after I volunteered people suddenly found their courage. Grim, Salty and Sneeze all said that they’d come along. Salty suggested that if we emptied our waterskins and filled them with air then we could stay under the water longer (it’s probably something she’s done before when hiding from her creditors). It was decided that Muffin and Curly we to stay at the top so that they could pull the ropes we’d attached ourselves to (two to a rope) back up if we needed to. Salty, bless her aching heart, asked if she could be on the same rope as me. I decided to give her a thrill and said yes.

With Grim and Salty having taken their armour off, we made our way down the stairs and into the murky depths. Grim pulled out a sunrod so that we could at least see a little. The room we entered looked like a large shower room. It had two archways, one on either side of the room, and a door on the far wall.

We headed for the archway on the left but as we approached Salty, who was at the head of the group, spotted a weird shifting in the water by its entrance. Suddenly this shifting water started to approach us. Some of this water seemed to form into a humanoid like appendage and struck out at Salty injuring her. We managed to surround the living water and killed it with great expediency.

The fight took a bit out of us so we went back to the surface to catch our breath before heading to the archway on the right. Inside this room there was a curled up body. As we approached the body unfurled and stood locking gazes with fearsome red eyes. It then showed us exactly how fierce it really was by turning and fleeing when Grim held up his tankard (later he claimed that the tankard was his holy symbol and that he’d channelled the power of his god through it in order to scare away the ghoulish creature. Personally I think that the creature simply detected Grim’s odour through the water and was trying to get as far away from it as possible.). We surrounded the creature and proceeded to lay into it. This revived the creature from its stupor and it managed to fight back. It slashed Salty with one of its claws and suddenly she became paralyzed. Sneeze felled the creature with a blow almost as massive as the ones he uses to wake people up.

I tugged on the rope so that Muffin would know that someone was in trouble and with what little strength he has in his arms, he pulled us in. I’m not sure whether I should have done that as saving Salty’s life will probably only solidify her infatuation with me.

Anyway, Grim and Sneeze followed us back after they had searched the room. They came up with some platinum, gold and silver coins as well as a ring with the eight pointed star emblem on.

When Salty could move again we headed back into the water and went through the left archway. In this room (which looked like some kind of steam room) was another body. We carefully approached but the body was just what it appeared to be. It was wearing leather armour that had been torn to shreds and had on it a very nice looking short sword. This body looked like it had been down here for about half a century which is weird ‘cause the one we’d found in the stone slab room looked like it had only been here for a few months. Maybe the fatigue spell on the barracks somehow helped to preserve the body better.

Anyway the underneath the body was a backpack in which was the red lantern. We headed back to the surface once more to catch our breath before heading for the door at the back of the room. Grim joked that it was probably going to be a toilet. Many a true word is spoken in jest. The door opened to reveal a toilet that had been blocked up with various bits of debris which is what has caused this level to flood. In shifts we cleared it out and slowly the water started to drain away.

I’ve just thought: we’ve just spent a good part of the day swimming in toilet water! I feel dirtier than Grim’s underwear! Although this is probably as close to a bath as Grim’s had in who knows how long.

We headed back to the lantern room and hung up the red lantern. We lit them all and immediately heard a scraping noise of stone on stone coming from the screaming wind corridor.

We headed up and found that the door had opened to reveal a room strange room. It was a long room whose floor we couldn’t see as it was covered in head sized iron balls. The top of this ball pool was some ten feet below where we stood. There was a rotted wooden beam stretching the full length of the room that led to another door at the other end. The walls were covered in a strange honeycomb design.

Being the bravest, smartest, nimblest and hardest member of our group, I cautiously went out onto the ledge. I’d gone about ten feet when a load of iron balls shot out from the honeycombed walls at me. I managed to dodge all but one of them which struck me hard. I kept my balance and made my way back to the group so that we could re-think things.

We decided that we’d see how firm the iron ball pool was so I was lowered down to it. I sank into the pool up to just above my knees. I was about to signal for the others to come down when I felt a rumbling coming from underneath. Grim, obviously worried what he’d do without me to guide him, quickly pulled me up.

Despite our best efforts, Salty and I couldn’t find anyway to disarm the iron balls and even Curly and Sneeze couldn’t lift the wooden beam out of its niche. Grim, not known for his patience, decided that this was the time to bring out the big guns, or more precisely, his big axe. With speed which I never knew he had, he chopped through the wooden beam causing our end of it to fall onto the iron balls. This caused the trap to go off sending wave after wave of bullets shooting from the walls. Eventually the trap ran its course and the sound of metal ringing on metal faded into silence.

We climbed down to the beam and started to climb our way up to the door. We got half way across when I felt the rumbling once more. Before I had time to warn people a huge worm with four barbed tentacles rose up from the iron balls. Sneeze, Salty and Grim all tried to strike the creature but their blows simply bounced off the creature’s thick hide. It was at this darkest of hours that the most unlikely, improbable, in fact some might say impossible, thing happened. Muffin! He started casting spells with an energy that no-one could possibly have predicted he’d have. The creature reeled from blow after blow of his magical bullets until finally it succumbed.

Grim, who had been busy pouring beer over his axe (he said that it was his faiths holy water and that he was using it to temporarily make his weapon magical), came out of shock first. But even then all he could do was complain about wasting his ale.

In order to give us time to recover from the unbelievable even we’d just witnessed we decided to search through the iron balls to see if we could find anything. We did. Some decomposed bodies, some money and some very nice looking banded mail.

Whilst this was going on I had a look at the door at the end of the beam but could find no way of opening it. It was then that I heard a faint voice coming from the walls

“Wow!” it whispered “I thought you were dead that time!”

Then a ghostly apparition appeared from the wall. It was the ghost of a boy whose neck looked broken. It had huge claws at the end of his fingers. Seeing our horrified looks the boy seemed to try and hide its grotesque appearance from us.

We tried to ask it who he was and why he was here but it didn’t answer. It tried to approach Sneeze but we warned him back. The boy signalled to us that it couldn’t speak out loud and that it wanted to enter someone’s body. No-one was particularly keen so yet again it was down to me to be the brave one.

I let the boy enter my body and I felt the strangest feeling. It was like I was pushed to the back of my own mind and this boy had taken possession of my physical being.

The boy told us that his name was Alastor Land and that he’d died here countless decades ago. He had been cursed somehow to remain here in undeath forever unless his bones were removed and buried with his family on their plot. He said that the door could only be opened by pulling a lever on the other side of it and that he would be willing to do that task if we would find his bones and lift the curse.

We agreed. Grim and Sneeze found the bones and went off to the Land’s farmstead to bury Alastor’s remains. When they returned Grim and Sneeze told us that they’d found the abandoned ruined farm but that the graves had been recently dug up. They had buried the remains beneath a headstone that Alastor’s name had been carved in. It appeared that Alastor’s family had all died when the plague had swept through the country some nineteen years ago. Next to the graves they found a shovel and some wheelbarrow tracks that headed off in the direction of Diamond Lake.

I let Alastor take possession of me once more and he told us that his curse hadn’t been lifted as his family was no longer on the burial site.

Knowing that we had no choice but to find his family’s remains, we all set off for the Land farmstead.

It didn’t take long to get there. Grim and Sneeze had accurately described the scene around the graves so we spent little time there before heading to the farmhouse itself.

As we entered I spotted fresh flesh and blood on the floor by the entrance. We rounded a corner into the main room and saw something that took all our breaths away. A huge bear like creature with feathers around its head and a beak like mouth. Grim shouted that it was an owlbear just before myself Sneeze and Salty attacked.

The owl bear grabbed Sneeze in its huge grip and started to squeeze. Muffin then waved his hands in front of the beast but instead of flames appearing, a spray of colour shot from his fingers. Dazed, the owlbear dropped Sneeze just as I plunged my blades into its flank. With a howl the creature fell and died.

Grim, who had just finished pouring beer on himself, doubled in size and then proceeded to moan again that he’d wasted some more ale.

Through his grumbling I heard a small chirp coming from the corner. On investigation we found a baby owlbear which, for some unexplainable reason, took a shine to Grim. Obviously its sense of smell doesn’t develop until later.

“Aw, isn’t it cute?” Grim said lovingly before shoving it in a sack. Apparently baby owlbears can fetch a couple of thousand gold on the open market.

We searched the room and found a whole severed human arm. The interesting thing about this arm, apart from the fact that it had no body attached, was that it had a tattoo on. It was the same symbol as the brand that was on Kullen’s (the albino half-orc) head. The symbol itself was originally used by one of the old mine managers called Garavin Vesst who used to brand his workers to show that they were his property. Now Garavin was run out of business by Balabar Smenk a few years ago and reputedly died last year in relative poverty. Since Balabar had taken over his mine the workers have received vastly better treatment and Balabar has been using the brand as a symbol for his higher ranking employees.

With nothing else to be found, and as night was fast approaching, we headed back to the Feral Dog in order to try and find Kullen. I apologised to Tak for not being there for the past couple of days but said I’d make it up to him by working for free that night. Grim and Sneeze did neither and simply quit their jobs. Pah! No loyalty that’s their problem.

“After tasting the sweet thrill of adventuring” Sneeze announced “I can no longer abide the foul odour of mundane work.” Well lardy dar!

Anyway we only had to wait a few minutes for Kullen and his crew to come in. Unsurprisingly they were one down. Skutch was missing from the party. Serving them drinks I managed to pry some information out of him. Apparently they were attacked by an owlbear whilst out on a job in a nearby farmstead that killed his lackey. I told Grim this and he fell over and for once not because he was pissed. This time it was due to laughter.

I tried to get out of him who he was working for but Kullen refused to say. He only intimated that it was a person he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Despite spiking his drinks all night and giving him a tip on the dog fights, he still wouldn’t tell me.

At the end of the night, when all subtlety had been used up, we decided to bring out the blunt instruments. We followed Kullen and his group when they left and confronted them in a quiet part of town. Despite our obvious superiority over them (we had after all killed the owlbear easily), Kullen still refused to give us the name of his employer unless we gave him two hundred gold. Personally I’d have liked to have beaten the information out of him but I was out voted by the others so we all coughed up our share. This particularly annoyed me as I’d been saving up for some really nice armour I’d seen in Osgood’s and I told people so. It was then that Grim just up and forked over fifty gold to me! This gesture really choked me up (either that or it was his B.O.). I guess I’ll have to reassess my opinion of him as a miser.

Anyway, with the money in his greedy white mitts, Kullen told us his sob story; a guy called Filge had come in from the Free City and started to boss Kullen and his group around. He treated them like servants and ordered them to get him some skeletons that he was going to use as guardians. Kullen said he’d taken the Land family’s remains up to where the necromancer was staying: the old observatory.

As we left the scumbags, Kullen had the nerve to request something from us; he said he wanted Filge’s eyes brought to him. I’m not being funny but for two hundred gold he can make the trek up there and get them himself.

Earthday 13th Planting 595

Start off the day with another shopping excursion. We split up as people wanted different things. I went to Osgood’s to sell the nice chainmail and buy myself a suit of fine studded leather armour but Ozy said that he needed to adjust a set as he had none in my size which I think is disgraceful! Anyway, he said it’d be ready tomorrow so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Met up with the others and found that Sneeze had bought himself, what he called, a siangham. He said it’s some sort of exotic weapon but to me it looks like a fire poker.

Tried to pay Grim back the money he’d lent me but he wouldn’t take it. He said that he’d consider my debt covered if I could get him some proper dwarven ale so I’ll have to have a word with Tak and get him to order some in from the free city.

Anyway, shopping done we headed up to the observatory where Kullen had said Filge and, more importantly, the family Land skeletons were.

We snuck up to the building and, having checked the empty tool shed under the back steps, peered in through the mucky glass on the backdoor. Inside was a small room with a door on the in which we spotted three skeletons all carrying crossbows. We all prepared for battle before Curly and Grim put their considerable weight to use by barging through the warped door. The skeletons immediately shot their loads… that is, shot their crossbows at the door but with little effect. Everyone charged in at them, including Muffin. The shock of this sight slowed me down a bit and as a result he managed to get ahead of me and stopped me from joining the battle due to the size of the room. Wouldn’t have minded so much if his hand to hand combat ability wasn’t even worse than his spell casting ability!

Anyway the battle was over very quickly despite Muffin’s interference and we exited through the other door after collecting up the bones, which we’re hoping belong to the Land family. If they are then it does mean that we’re one set of bones missing but hopefully they’ll be somewhere in the building.

The door led onto a corridor with four doors that led to small bedrooms plus two others at its very end. The door on the left led to an old and obviously unused office but the one on the right brought us to a sight stranger than Curly’s hair first thing in the morning.

This room was a dining room that had a large table at its centre that had place settings for ten people. The weirdness begins (and I suppose ends) with the diners. The head place of the table but the other nine were taken up by zombies. The food in front of them remained untouched and the zombies themselves immobile. They didn’t even move when we went right up to them. What’s the point in creating zombies that don’t do anything? Wizards! Is there nothing they like more than wasting time?

Anyway, other than the motionless undead, the ground level was empty so we cautiously climbed the stairs. They brought us into a huge bedroom that had several pieces of strange decoration.

Firstly there was a long dead Halfling sized corpse standing up dressed in a very fine suit complete with top hat that was holding a silver tray on top of which was a woman’s head on whose out poked tongue was a platinum coin. There was also a statue of an angel holding a harp in one hand and a sword in the other. Engraved on the statue’s base was the word “Filge”.

We checked out the rest of the room and discovered that this guy has very limited fashion sense. In his wardrobe we found multiple sets of the same outfit. We didn’t spend too much time musing over this as Muffin had gotten himself into a debate with Sneeze and Grim over a book he’d found. It turned out to be Filge’s spell book. Muffin said he wanted to take it in order to learn more spells but Sneeze and Grim said that we should burn it as it belonged to someone whose main domain was the creation of undead. Personally I’m not sure why they’re so worried; haven’t they seen Muffin cast spells? He’d be lucky if he could create an undead mouse.

Anyway Muffin said that he was unable to use dark, foul, necromantic spells (surprise, surprise; another limitation on his spell casting ability) and that he only wanted to learn any nice spells that might be in there. Nice spells? Come on! Seriously, how many does he actually expect to be in the spell book of a foul zombie creating maniac? I’m guessing he ain’t gonna have Muffin’s patented wavy hands spell.

We were just about to head up to the next level when Curly spotted something on the desk. On further investigation we discovered some vials that contained a weird multi-coloured soupy substance that were labelled “Necroturgent”. Grim mused that it was probably an aid to making undead.

We left t he vials there for the time being and headed up the stairs. This time they lead into a strange room that had a slit across the centre of its domed ceiling. In each corner of the room stood a large mirror but stranger than that was the sunken area in the centre of the room. In each of its corners stood a large cylinder filled with murky liquid in which could be seen vague silhouettes. In the centre lay a human body whose skin had been peeled back and pinned down to its own body.

We had no time to ponder on these things as in the far corner stood our main focus; a man wearing the same outfit that we’d seen in the wardrobe. Around his neck hung a necklace adorned with a birds skull and in his hand he held a syringe. Immediately I began to run at him but as I approached he spoke in a chilling whisper

“Arise my beautiful monstrosities!”

Suddenly the four cylinders smashed open. Out of three of them stepped undead creatures that looked like bipedal lizards but out of the one next to me stepped a seven foot tall bear like zombie that immediately hit me with a clubbing blow that sent me flying (for which I have to say I was grateful as I really did not want to spend anymore time next it than necessary). I recovered from that blow and took a swig of my healing potion before continuing towards the necromancer who had now summoned up a skeleton to guard him as well as two of the undead lizards. The rest of the group started to try and take care of the large (what I was told later was the zombie corpse of a bugbear) zombie and the other lizard.

As we were occupied with his minions the necromancer took the opportunity to inject himself with the syringe (with no visible affect) and cast a spell that created a ghostly hand. It was then that our wizard stepped up and cast his magic dot spell at the hand. The hand seemed to reel a bit but still continued on and hit Muffin around the face. Muffin grimaced slightly as he fought off whatever spell Filge had focussed into the hand. Muffin regained his composure and cast another missile at the hand which obliterated it.

Meanwhile I was busy fighting the skeleton and a zombie when I discovered something interesting; using a piercing action caused the undead very little damage but they did seem affected when I started using a slashing motion.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Curly fall as the large zombie landed a blow and almost immediately afterwards Muffin fell as Filge shot two of those magic missiles at him.

Grim then positioned his ample frame at the back of the room and held up his tankard towards the undead. Suddenly the skeleton in front of me collapsed to the floor and two of the smaller zombies turned from their positions and fled away from his holy symbol. This obviously pissed off Filge as he shot a ray of scorching heat at Grim which seemed to cause him considerable pain.

Sneeze, no longer hampered by a zombie, ran towards our one living foe but before he could get there the wizard shot a spray of colour out of his hands which knocked him unconscious.

Just as Sneeze hit the ground so did the large zombie was felled (amazingly) by Salty. As Grim turned to heal Curly, Salty charged towards the wizard but only managed to get half way there before he cast a spell and fixed her with a stare that made her turn and flee.

Curly, having recovered suitably, lay his hands onto Muffin. This seemed to revive Muffin enough for him to quaff his healing potion.

It was then that I decided that I’d had enough. I left the zombie that I’d been fighting and, with no fear for my own safety, ran towards the necromancer. Obviously fearing for his life, Filge cast a powerful ray of cold. His spell was wasted though as I easily dodged out of its way.

Curly, instilled with confidence at my presence, joined me in attacking Filge. With our combined efforts the fight was soon at an end. I allowed Curly to have the finishing blow (to boost his confidence you know. Must be debilitating dropping in a combat). As Filge screamed his last, all the undead fell to the ground.

We took a brief moment to recover after the battle before Grim cast a spell to detect if anything were magical. The bird skull amulet glowed as did a potion and the contents of a syringe. Downstairs Grim also said that the necroturgents were magical as was a scroll on the desk.

We ransacked the place for anything of value during which we found two items of particular interest. One was a bottle of liquid in which floated a small worm. Grim reckoned that it was something called a “Spawn of Kyuss” but he couldn’t elaborate any further.

The other was a note:

“Filge, I need you in Diamond Lake my boy. The cult situation has grown worse. Deep within Dourstone Mine they’re studying things brought in from the southern hills. Green worms and unkillable zombies. I nicked one of the worms for you to study. I’ll put you up in the old observatory. Show this letter to the big white half-orc at the Feral Dog. He’ll help you get settled. I trust you’ll find these coins sufficient to cover your travel from the Free City.

S.”

Two interesting things come from this letter. Firstly that Ragnolin Dourstone is looking into these Spawn of Kyuss and also unkillable zombies and secondly that someone with the initial “S” sent for Filge.

Now the question that springs to mind with this is what does the person who sent for Filge want. Does he want to stop the creation of unkillable zombies or does he want to get some of his own? Either way I figure we’ve got to try and stop the research.

Anyway we cautiously made our way back to the dining room but the zombie diners hadn’t moved at all. We set up a pyre behind the observatory and burnt all the zombies and corpses of zombies.

We rested the night here whilst Muffin keenly read through the spell book and scroll in a desperate attempt to find a decent spell to add to his extremely limited arsenal.

Freeday 14th Planting 595

We rested the day and did some shopping. I managed to pick up the studded leather armour from Ozy and Muffin managed to identify some of the magic items. The only real one of interest was the bird amulet which adds some natural protection to its wearer. After a short debate (and much sulking from Muffin) it is decided that Sneeze is going to wear it.

Whilst we were in town we tried to sell the valuables we’d found to Tidwowd only for him to virtually spit in our faces. The tight stingebag offered us a pittance. After we picked our jaws up off the floor we declined his offer and left. We’re now looking to sell them to someone in the Free City who might offer us something near their true value.

Starday 15th Planting 595

Started off the day with the pleasant task of burying the remains of the Land family back on their plot next to Alastor. We then headed back to the Whispering Cairn and back to the iron ball room to find the door at the end had been opened.

Whispering a thank you to Alastor, we made our way across and into the room beyond. I say room but huge pit would be a more accurate description. The entire room was one big bottomless pit surrounded by a large stone walkway. In the middle of the room was a platform that was supposed to have four walkways leading to it but two of these had collapsed. At the centre of this platform rose a pillar of rushing air that extended to the top of the chamber. The whole room looked like it was lit by sunlight on a summer’s day but there was no hole in the ceiling.

Around the walkway stood four wide galleries, their far walls covered with enormous bas-relief visas. When we moved towards these pictures, smoky sheets of steam breathed out of them. This smoke then started to form into moving pictures. Moving clockwise around the room the pictures showed a story the translation of which was helped by Sneeze who said that he’d read something about this in a book called “The Chronicles of Chan”.

Picture one:

The image depicts a peaceful scene featuring several vaati relaxing in an idyllic country scene. Dozens of perfect circles fill the sky above the frolicking figures. As the steam runs over the image, dark, twisted shapes emerge from the sculptures edges. The shapes coalesce to form monstrous creatures that look like a cross between spiders and wolves. As the creatures approach the wind dukes (warrior vaati) the circles in the sky begin to burst one by one.

Picture two:

This image depicts a towering vaati figure wearing the glyph of Icosiol standing over a legion of lesser wind dukes warriors. The central warrior bears the glyph of Zosiel, but each figure bears a glyph of a distinct wind duke warrior. As the steam plays about the image, the warriors raise longswords in salute to Icosiol.

Picture three:

A group of several proud wind dukes present a staff like rod to a council of superior vaati. As the steam fills the bas relief’s contours the central figure raises the staff above his head where it splits into seven irregular parts. Each of the seven wind dukes present bears a carven glyph that identifies him as a member of the wandering dukes.

Picture four:

The bas relief in this gallery depicts the final battle between law and chaos. As the steam moves about the image, the wandering duke Qudeej impales the wolf spider, a demonic entity that looks like a drider with four arms and a human head flanked by 2 wolf heads. As the wolf spider, rod and Qudeej vanish into a planar rift, Icosiol is struck by a beam from the wolf spiders eyes and slumps dead to the ground.

We have got to get a copy of those chronicles.

Anyway, our heads still reeling from the show, we headed to the central pillar and took a closer look at the pillar of air. We were just deciding which one of us was most expendable (Salty was unanimously voted) when two figures stepped out of the column. These figures were armed and armoured like the wind warriors depicted in the moving pictures but their light movement belied the weight of their armour.

Without hesitating the creatures crashed their swords together and sent out a blast of sonic energy that pierced our ears. We commenced battle precariously balanced on the edge of the central ring knowing that one wrong step would plummet us to certain death. The wind warriors had no such worries as they floated out over the chasm as light as air.

Once again we were forced to rely on Muffin’s limited spell casting capabilities but once again (to my eternal surprise) he came up trumps slaying one of the creatures with his magic bullets. Salty finished off the remaining one with some unusually accurate shots from her bow.

Our latest foe defeated we proceeded with our initial plan. We tied a piece of rope around Salty’s ankle and she entered the wind column. We flew her like a kite until suddenly she disappeared into thin air.

A few moments passed when as suddenly as she disappeared, Salty reappeared at the base of the wind column. She informed us that there was another room at the end of the wind column.

We tied ourselves together and all moved into the pillar of wind. After a few seconds we found ourselves in what looked like a burial chamber. At the far end of the relatively small room was another white marble sarcophagus that looked extremely similar to the one in the lantern room. Behind this was another moving picture that showed a warrior and a horned figure. As we watched a black orb appeared and touched the warrior who immediately died.

Thinking something must be dodgy about this room, Grim cast a detect magic spell. He informed us that something inside the sarcophagus was magical. Slowly myself and Salty moved towards the large coffin but as we approached I heard a voice in my head.

“Speak my name!” it demanded in my native tongue. Taking an educated guess I spoke the name Zosiel as did Salty who later informed me that she’d heard the same question in common. As soon as we’d spoken the names a light appeared on the sarcophagus revealing a previously unseen seam.

We checked for any traps but found none and with quivering anticipation we pushed open the lid and were immediately consumed with a wave of disappointment. Inside were the remains of a vaati wearing a diadem that glowed magical. Lying with the body were a pair of black horns and a sealed pewter box engraved with letters that Grim identified as symbols of the Queen of Chaos. Grim also said that there was something inside the box that was magical.

We took the box, the horns and the diadem and left the Whispering Cairn for what I sincerely hope is the last time. We went to Shrub-beard and got him to identify the items. He said the diadem gave the user increased wisdom and that the item in the box allowed the bearer to control a powerful artefact known as the sphere of annihilation (the black sphere depicted in the moving picture behind the sarcophagus).

Shrub-beard asked us to tell him about our mission now that it had ended so I regaled him with a tail of bravery and cunning that would almost defy belief. Sadly this did not increase our payment as he handed over the forty gold he owed all of us.

He did however say that he would research the spawn of Kyuss for us if we left the worm with him. We agreed and left.

After another brief discussion it was decided that Sneeze would get the diadem and give the bird amulet to Salty.

This mission finally over we went to our respective abodes and I, for one, had a well earned rest.

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DMaple

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