First Forays

from the diary of Shiru Whitefield

days 1-2

Day 1

I’m starting a new diary, because spiders ate the last one. At least that’s what I think happened to it. Long story. Luckily these monks at the Order of Forestwardens or whoever were very courteous and thoughtful and helped me score some stock up on important, legitimate supplies like travel rations and this journal. Well, I’ll explain that later.

So, where was I? Well, actually I was riding on the road west from Iridia to Nentir Vale, when there was this unexpected and completely unreasonable stampede of spiders. That’s right – giant spiders. I realize that humans people tell me I’m short and can’t really judge, but these actually were giant spiders by anyone’s standards! Anyway, they completely swamped poor Sky in spider legs and web-spitty stuff webbing, so he went poof, and I was just left there on the road. Or I would have been if they hadn’t grabbed me in this cocoon sort of thing! I was unconscious after that… Well, based on the magic traces I think I might have actually been petrified, turned to stone or something, but what I can say for sure is I wasn’t conscious for what must have been several hours, until I woke up in the temple. So I’m actually calling that Day 1 – it might not be the same day – and this is sort of prelude.

Anyhow, I woke up and it was a sort of ruin carved partly out from stone – like a cave that had been improved and renovated? And with all these cocoons all around the walls – definitely dozens, maybe hundreds! Of course, I was also stuck in a cocoon from the neck down, but I had enough room to wriggle move around and eventually grab my staff. Around this time there was a big noise from the other side of the room and I could tell that a fight was going on. One side was a rather diverse group of people, several of whom from their clothing and attitude just screamed “adventurer.” And then the other side was mostly metal golems of some kind, and one human who looked sort of mean. So I figured that if the adventurer types were fighting them, then those were probably the bad guys, or something.

By the time I got my bearings and had a firm grip on my staff, the adventuring group had downed a few of the metal golems (who I later learned were called warforged) but there were still several others holding out, including the mean-looking human guy. That’s when I had the idea – I’d help these heroes out, and in exchange they’d cut me free of the spider webs! So of course I cast a few noise cantrips to distract the mean-looking guy and then threw a Force Orb at him. It’s not my fault that I missed! The spiderwebbing was completely screwing with my aim! And then the human whistled or something and started to ride a spider, which meant he was totally on my “to kill” list if he hadn’t been already, given how the spiders had killed banished my horse and greatly pi inconvenienced me.

Still, he was kind of away from the fight and didn’t look like he’d be much of a danger, so I threw a Magic Missile at one of the metal guys and managed to down him. I wish I could take credit, but the hero types had gotten him down to more or less his last legs at that point anyway. (Yes, they had legs. They’re more or less humaniform golems.) And by then there was only one warforged left and the adventurers had started moving on to the mean human anyway, so I blasted him with a Magic Missile too. Boom, headshot! I don’t mean to brag, but I knocked him right off the obnoxious giant spider and he didn’t get up after that.

So during all of that, they were all on the other side of the room and didn’t really know I was there, what with dozens of cocoons all around and everything. So I called them with Ghost Sound spells until they were close enough to talk to directly. A nice human warrior named Talias cut me free of the spiderweb, and then they started going around the room. It turned out that a lot of the people in spiderwebs were bandits from something called the Iron Hand or whatever, so the adventurers were interrogating them. But after all that they ended up letting the rest of the people, the innocent bystanders, go. I decided to stick with these guys since they could obviously use the help, so I introduced myself and got to know the rest of them.

The leader is an eladrin named Berenger, who it turned out had organized the adventuring party together. He’s stuffy and a bit arrogant. Also, I might be imagining this, but he didn’t seem to like gnomes very much, as hard as that is to believe. I mean, gnomes and eladrin are practically third or fourth cousins! But it seems like prejudice is still out there and not all eladrin are good and sensible and reliable. Oh, and Berenger is a Forestwarden and got us set up to be supplied (for free!) at this monastery so he’s not all bad, but that’s how he came across at the time…

Talias is the human warrior who set me free from that spiderweb by thing. You wouldn’t know it to look at him but he’s actually a swordmage. There’s also Galinndan, an eladrin who fights with a sword and is a kind of mage, a bladesinger, although technically I think those are wizards and not swordmages. The duty of a scholar is precision! So I know about swordmagery and wizardry and not to confuse the two. Galinndan’s magic is a lot more obvious, with bright flashes and such coming from his sword as he fights, so I was surprised to find out that Talias was actually using magic too.

Stonebreaker is a warforged – like the guys they had been fighting – but he’s definitely on the same team as the adventurers. I think those guys had betrayed him or cast him out or something? Anyway, he really seemed to have it in for them. Or maybe it’s just he gets mad a lot when he fights. He doesn’t really talk that much so I’m not sure. I heard most of this from Arradon, an elf who fights with a shortsword. It looks like the two of them have been adventuring together for a while, and they joined Berenger when he was recruiting hero types adventurers to fight for justice.

There’s also a tiefling named Hunger who doesn’t really talk much. I know he’s a warlock, bound to some power, but I don’t think I asked him the details. A pact with an archfey isn’t all that creepy, but tieflings are better known for having pacts with devils… Well, I shouldn’t leap to conclusions before I even know the guy. I’m sure he’’s perfectly fine and wouldn’t sacrifice any innocent people to dark gods at least while anyone’s watching. There was also one woman, an elf named… Ithinkthat’severyonebuttherewereabunch so I mighthaveforgotten one..

Anyway, it turned out the mean-looking human on the spider-mount was actually the feudal lord of this region, named Lord Bethlehem. He’d been up to some vague unspecified evil, or something (I didn’t ask), so the heroes here came to get rid of him. They were also investigating some planar incursion of some kind, so after we cleared out the bandits and wimps innocent bystanders, we searched the cave and found a lake that had a portal to the Abyss. Shadowfell

Then we went to search the other room which hasd some good stuff in it. There were magic ritual scrolls, and a few magic weapons and other enchanted gear, and, oh, a mountain of gold. I didn’t want to impose so I didn’t ask to look at any of the magic items, but I did start packing some of the gold in Sky’s saddlebags as the just and deserved compensation for my awesome headshot performance back there beating Lord Bethel whatsit ehem. Even then, Berenger got mad at me for some reason! He made me put the gold back, and then he sorted through and counted it, and took almost all of it to stow in his enchanted cloak (although he said he was only carrying the others’ shares for them) and only then would he give me my share! It was as if he didn’t trust me not to take the whole thing! Some people are so unreasonable.

After all that was taken care of, Berenger said something about sealing the Abyssal portal, so a bunch of us went back to the underground lake. He must have done something, because it started shaking and quaking like crazy! But then the lake cleared up of magic and the earthquake stopped. Berenger said that he hadn’t even done any magic, just “reconsecrated” the temple, whatever that means. Well, I’m not an expert on religious rites but it sounded a little fishy to me. For a minute there I’d been worried he was going to bury us all just to seal the portal! It wouldn’t have surprised me with the way he’d acted to that point but I’m glad I was wrong about that. (Having to jump into another plane just to avoid being buried alive would stink!)

Anyway, we all regrouped after that and then went to the nearby village of Cravensfeld, which it turned out was mostly a tent city, but had one actual house which was where Betheleheck ruled his fief. We told the townsfolk they were free and that mean lord wouldn’t be coming back, but they didn’t seem all that happy! Actually they acted like they were afraid of us… I guess that Bethelheimer guy really did a number on them. Well, it did mean we got to sleep inside when all the townsfolk were too nervous to take advantage of the decent accomodations, so it in some ways worked out for us.

Day 2

Today we went off to follow Berenger to report to his Order of Forest Monks or Forestwardens or whatever he said it was. They welcomed us into this monastery which looked very well stocked and well defended. I got this journal and they were very kind in helping me replace all the rest of the things that the spiders had damaged. They also helped me stoock up on food for the journey ahead. Berenger said we’re going to something called the old Temple of Pelor next, which is probably the same as The Pillar of Night, evidently the base of the spider cult that Bethelhoo that mean old human lord worked for. Our working theory is that they took the old temple and corrupted it too their dark goddess, like had been done to the Temple of Avandra from where we’d just come. So the monks hosted and provendered us, but with the understanding that we’d do this quest for them, and probably not return empty-handed. I don’t really mind – I’ve had a perfect one-to-zero win/loss record so far with these guys and I’ve got no reason to think that perfect trend won’t continue!

So we went traveling up northwards a ways and we came to a village full of refugees. Evidently the whole surrounding countryside (to the west at least) has had cult problems, so a bunch of people are hiding out at this place which is further east than the bandits cultists usually come. But it turned out, some cultists did come here chasing some refugees. That was kind of unreasonable of them, so I dropped them in a Phantom Chasm while the others sliced them up and lopped some heads and limbs off.

They had one caster, and we saved him to interrogate and hopefully find out where they were based. Talias knows first aid, so he brought the guy back to consciousness, and we asked him reasonable and quite polite questions. (Under the circumstances just letting him live this long was already very polite.) But the guy claimed not to have seen their base and to have just joined the cult two days ago. He said they chased the other woman from his village in order to prove that he was willing to kill for the cultists (since that was their rule foor anyone who wanted to stay alive). I thought this was fishy since the guy obviously knew magic, so I asked him about it, but he said he’d known that since before the cultists came. It still sounded fishy… and then guess what happened? He took the opportunity to show off his magic by casting a Magic Missile at us! Naturally the group did not take well to this, and he ended up badly wounded and knocked unconscious again. (Actually this was the third or fourth time we knocked him down… He’d not been that cooperative so we were trying to demonstrate that telling us what we deserved to know was the best way to make the hurting stop.

Even so, he didn’t seem to get the picture. That’s why I asked him if he’d been chewed to death by sprites before. He just gave me this weird look as if he didn’t understand the question. I said, “It’s a simple question, have you been bitten to death by sprites before?” He just babbled some things that didn’t make sense and stammered a bit. So I said that if he hadn’t, he was in for an exciting new experience, and cast Winged Horde on him. I should have tried this before – that spell is sooo much more fun when the enemy is helpless and knows what’s coming! It’s almost a pity that the others couldn’t see the sprites eating his flesh… but he squirmed and screamed enough that I think they got the picture. Anyway, I’d thought he’d be more willing to cooperate after that, but the others thought that leaving it at “to death” was probably closer to what the guy deserved, so we didn’t revive him another time.

Tomorrow we’re going to set out west to find that cult. I’m excited!

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