It has been quite some time since I have kept up this journal. When last I wrote, I had completed my pilgrimage to the ancient Temple of Avandra, and discovered its recent history. Encouraged by the Forestwarden monks, I decided to continue my travels by seeking Berenger, the officer of their order who had purified the temple.
It seemed an easy task. The distances shown on the map did not seem long, and I felt confident that I would soon catch up. Setting out into the wilderness of the surface, however, proved difficult. The surface stretches out in all directions, but there is much variance of its terrain, with forests, hills and pitfalls. The techniques I had learned to find my way underground were largely unhelpful. I had significantly underestimated the difficulty of finding my way, and soon found myself lost.
Two boons would soon find me again pointed in the right direction. First, as I wandered lost in the lands north of the great road, I was approached by a glowing white creature, who I soon learned to be a primal rabbit-spirit. The spirit, who called herself Sami,had served a nomadic tribe as guide and guardian, until it had been wiped out by a bloodthirsty cult. I found her plight disturbing, and she took pity on my inept wandering We quickly arrived at a pact: She would teach me how to survive in the surface wilderness along with the rites and offerings that would empower her. I would in turn perform those rites and take her along on my travels until such time as I found a tribe willing to adopt her. We completed our contract of mutual protection with a ritual of shared blood.
This helped me get my bearings, but I was still no closer to finding Berenger. Some days later, however, we found ourselves beset by giant spiders, whose attack overwhelmed Sami and myself. I came to consciousness wrapped in a cocoon, roused by the sound of battle. A party of adventurers were battling the spiders. I burst free and joined the fight. After the battle, I learned that my misfortune had been the Goddess’s boon, for the leader of those who rescued me was in fact Berenger, the one I sought.
I joined the group’s mission to find the old Temple of Pelor and defeat the cult, which they also had encountered. Berenger suspected, based on the interrogation of their captives, that the cult had occupied the old temple and made it into their base of operations, called the Pillar of Night. The Pillar turned out to be a giant tower built of spiderwebbing. Two of the group, Arradon and Galinndann, attempted to infiltrate but were discovered and pursued. With the entire tower mobilizing, our smaller group was forced to flee into a nearby system of caves.
Yet once again, this proved to be fortuitious. After defeating chitine marauders in the caves — apparently the castoffs of the society of spider-creatures existing within the tower — we found an enchanted circlle which imprted in us the knowledge of the true Temple of Pelor. That is where I now write these words. The priests here told us of the Lolthstone, a stone within the Pillar of Night which the Spider Queen uses to control both humans and chitines, and the Sunstone, a relic of Pelor which had long been lost to them.. Berenger has determined to destroy the Lolthstone, which was said to be vulnerable to the light of the sun. By challenging Jaryn, the cult’s warlord and a former paladin of Pelor, we shall by custom receive unhindered entry to the tower. At that point we shall destroy the webbing of the tower’s eastern wall while Berenger keeps Jaryn occupied.
I hope the plan shall succeed.
The Death of Berenger
Though it is not my custom to write again so soon, I have momentous news to report. This morning, Berenger fell in battle. As planned we had entered the Pillar of Night under cover of a challenge. The Lolthstone proved an intimidating and fearsome sight — the manifest power of the Spider Queen herself, and I thought it likely to have a corruptive effect on those present. We wisely kept our distance from the stone as Berenger’s challenge began, and Galinndann’s mission at first proceeded unhindered. To protect this mission, we launched a preemptive strike upon the two chitines stationed in the room. I provided mobile support to both Galinndan’s group and the group of Stonebreaker, who led the charge against the chitines. Jaryn, either suspecting our intentions or frustrated by Berenger’s successful tactic of concealment, joined the melee as well. Though the battle was hard-fought, we defeated warlord and chitines both decisively.
That is when the trouble started. The falllen body of Jaryn began emitting an eerie smoke, and from it a monstrous beast emerged! Jaryn had given himself entirely to Lolth, becoming one of her Chosen, a dread creature spoken of in the most epic legends. We were out of our depth, and the monster ravaged through our ranks… until the Lolthstone dissolved into mist and it lost its empowering force. But even then, its dying strike slew Berenger, with nothing any of us could do to prevent it.
He asked not to be raised, and his corpse carried back to the Forestwardens for his last rites. May the gods well keep his soul.