Fighting on the Road

The party settled into Gogdor, the City of Giants to divide loot and to allow two weeks for Threnody to receive special training. Maka wanted to get out of town and Threep stayed in the forest. The giants are a powerful, magical people but also frightening.
The party learned about the city of Pedad in the north, a small town ruled by a godlike creature, something called a Ki-Ren. They also learned a little about a town farther south, a town of little people. They chose this town, called Malacad, the City of Gnomes.
The road to Malacad was fraught with danger. First they encountered the short street cleaners, who weren’t too mean. But then they met flying scorpion-lions. These creatures seemed frightful but proved mostly harmless in the face of the entire party.
As the party approached Malacad, they were beset by twenty-one reptile or lizard people. It was an ambush, so strong defensive positions were not available. The fighting was fierce but the lizard-folks lacked sufficient training and knowledge to cause irreparable damage. Certain of the reptile attackers knew sufficiently little of human anatomy to allow them to instantly kill party members knocked unconscious. Miridan escaped certain death.
The Lizard folks proved to be a weak but resilient foe, showing little ability to harm but decent ability to take damage. They also didn’t flee when the tide turned against them. They were slain to the last.
The party decided to press on to Malacad as it was only a short distance away. The Gnomes there are a busy, industrial people, about a thousand to the town. Ninurta is the main god of the town, and most of the townsfolk are armed with traditional weapons or scythes. The party found reasonable rooms and rested.

A fine Railroad: Dreams, Ghosts, Devils and Salvation

The naked party entered the House of Usher for warmth and protection. They met the caretaker and the butler, who didn’t seem too strange except that they didn’t know what area they lived in or what their names were. They supplied the party with ill-fitting clothing, and set up rooms for them to stay in until the next day.
The party went through a worn and tired looking house, filled with frayed rugs and torn couches. Suits of armor stood in some of the corners but they were all worn out, bearing only spears. Unsafe staircases bore them upstairs where they met their first ghost.
The ghostly woman in a brown dress stood in the staircase. Her eyes bled a black ichor. She implored the party to follow her. The butler didn’t seem to notice her as he led the way. She continued to wave them forward, up and to the north wall, which she then passed through and vanished. Was there something up north outside the house?
The butler divided the party among five bedrooms. They found more worn and wrong-sized clothing but made do. They cannibalized some of the furniture to make clubs and pocketed butter knives for weapons.
Most of the party then went on to the library where they found little satisfaction in finding any answers. They learned about the Usher family line but the details were either vague or omitted. Rah found a very rudimentary map. The library also had a bizarre, twisted gallery of original paintings. There were also drawings done by hand, set out on the table. Spooky stuff.
Then the party went to sleep only to be woken by horrifying dreams. Each person had a different dream, but in the end, each dream had the same antagonist, a strange, ghostly woman in a white dress. She was angry and in some cases violent, eyes burning. None of the dreams sat well with the party members. Maka actually thought they were messages from the gods. It was time to leave.
With quick notice, the party members tied sheets together and climbed out their respective bedroom windows. They didn’t bother telling the butler or the Usher’s but did ransack their outdoor shed. They grabbed a wide variety of old, worn, garden tools to use as weapons. K’em picked up an ax. They also found a set of oars, probably for a raft seen outside near the lake.
They decided to try the road first traveling its cool, dark path for about an hour. They heard nothing for most of the trip but then heard a large thing crashing, and malevolently laughing, through he dead trees, coming toward them. They started running away from the sound, unhindered by armor. They lost their pursuers and came upon a light, set back from the road. Approaching they found the familiar scenery of House Usher. The exact same house rose before them. So either they were traveling in a circle, which did not seem the case, or…
They decided to try the boat. Seeing little else in the near pitch darkness, the party piled into the boat and pushed out into the tarn. The water looked black, and the stars were hidden behind a sheet of grey clouds. They traveled by torchlight. They made their way toward the northern beach and unloaded. Then they saw a light up the hill and hoped that it wasn’t Usher house again. They started making their way toward the light and found a straight path, opened up for them. The ground was churned up as if the trees along the path had all been pulled up. The hill climbed steeply and the loose dirt slowed travel but the party ascended directly toward the house. As they approached, they heard thrashing sounds from behind them. Something pursued them up the hill but the party didn’t wait to find out what it was. Then a woman’s voice rang out, calling the party inside the small hovel – the source of the light.
The woman’s name was Lucy and she ushered the party inside and blocked the door. The movement and sounds outside lessened and eventually stopped. The house was apparently some kind of safe haven. Lucy told of being there for months on end without attack. She listened to the party’s tale, how they came to be in Xura. Then she gave her own tale, which was different from theirs’ except that she was also brought there by magic.
She then told them of other travelers, a couple, that came searching for answers. They were looking for a “woman in the north.” Lucy said that by her own dreams and experiences, that these people were actually looking for a particular tree. She led the people to the tree and then they apparently left. The party expressed interest in seeing the tree as well, and so, led by Lucy, the party braved the outside once again.
Bearing torches, the party followed a thin, wavy path to the west. Half an hour later they came upon a clearing with an ancient tree in its center. Lucy went around and started lighting torches. Threep approached the tree and noticed carvings on the tree but then saw bones at its base, including two human skulls. Looking back at the carvings, Threep saw one that looked like a woman’s face.
The face started taking on color, started looking like a real woman’s face. The party feared a Dryad but sensed no evil from the tree, or the woman whose full form became more apparent.
“Do I know you?” The She-tree asked in a loud but pleasant voice. It then gave a sad face and said “Pleae, do what you must.”
It was now that Lucy interrupted, telling the she-tree that she wanted to “leave this place.” She complained about how unfair things were and that “these creatures” referring to humans, received special treatment.
“You stay,” The She-tree said to Lucy. “You must face the consequences.”
Lucy then turned on the party and revealed her diabolic reality. She raised her clawed hands and the skin of the adventurers began to vibrate and tingle, as if millions of small pins were pricking their flesh. Several thin, wispy, crimson strands floated out from their own bodies. The strands floated through the air like thin ribbons and collected in Lucy’s outstretched claws. Their own lifeblood was being siphoned off through hundreds of small holes in their skin. They were being drained. The blood pooled in Lucy’s hands and flowed down her arms into her open mouth.
The party began literally losing strength. They started attacking Lucy with fire and weapons, gaining meager results. Lucy was very powerful. Many of the party’s crude weapons broke, as their attacks grew feeble.
The She-tree turned to the ax-wielding K’em and said, “You have the tool, use it… use it now.” The party quickly reached a consensus and K’em struck the tree with a heavy blow. What looked to be some kind of white goo shot forth from the wound. More blows produced more goo. It looked less like a substance after closer examination, having no shape, shading or shadow of its own. Threep attempted to gather the stuff in his hand, only to be held fast; the slightest contact with the White held matter in an unbreakable hold. K’em too was held fast as the White covered his feet.
Meanwhile the fight against Lucy sputtered and the smaller party members faced impending doom. Even the forest had turned against them, sealing off any escape.
As Threep and K’em began sinking into the expanding White, others decided to join in the milky bath, diving in. All party members then followed suit. All were enveloped in the white until there was only the white. Everything else faded. Their last sight was seeing the white spray hit Lucy, and fall off.
For minutes the only thing seen was white. It was as if their eyes had been plucked out still seeing, then dropped into a vat of milk. Colors started forming then shapes. Bam! The party fell upon the hard wood floors of their room in the Inn, back in the City of Giants. All of their prior equipment, and the equipment of other adventurers, fell upon them as well.
It took days to regain their strength, and so the party waited there at the Inn. Miridon Identified all the new items and the party divided the loot. Perhaps in the future the party will be blessed with fewer life or death decisions.

A letter from WS

Although I know this means nothing to you, my friend, I believe the season to be late 1544.

Thank you so much for your efforts. The research you provided was very helpful. I do not blame you for my continued difficulties. It is not your fault that I see things so differently. After all, you are native to this place. You naturally see and understand things in that context.
Additionally, I would like to thank my friend for delivering this to you. Please take him out for a fine meal, charged to my account. I pray for you both.
I will never be able to repay your kindness. Thank you for listening as I reminisced about my beautiful Selangod. Zura may be home to you but I, for one, don’t belong here. Comfort and stability continue to elude me. I have seen too much of this place and I cannot escape my sorrow. It truly is as that strange little man said as he boarded that great, black ship: “Misery will find you when you stop.”
So I continue. Currently I am exploring perhaps my final opportunity to leave this place, perhaps my only way home. That is my sole desire, to return home. I hope you and your family find happiness. I fear it is not possible for me.

Your friend,

Excerpt from Selangod Times (Poe-try Corner)
Anonymous submission

Once upon a midnight dreary
Me did ponder, kinda leery
Whether antique prose, un-cheery,
Replete with outdated gore,
Should ignite a fire burning —
Ogre soul compel to learning
How to read, for which me yearning,
Longing to be something more
Than just brutal, SMASHing whore.
Nope. Rather brutal SMASHing whore
Than be futile crashing bore!
Quoth the Ogre, “Nevermore!”

Turn-over, Travel, Tall People, and Tricky Traps

There was a shake-up in the party as they decided to leave town. First off, Gargg left in the night to go back to his kitchen, as there was too much heat around the party. Then Delal and Scruffy left as they felt that they were punished for things that they had nothing to do with. For a moment the party had become quite a bit smaller. Thankfully, Scruffy had recommended two more adventurers that might take their place, a cleric and paladin of Utu.
The party set out to the north, avoiding the road to Pahand. There they met their old friend Tru and his bodyguard Natrina, who also joined the party. They had a good night sleep before heading out to the west, covering uncharted lands.
The going went slow, cutting a thin path through the Great Outside. Several days past. Then the party came upon a strange scene, bear-like creatures throwing stones at each other. Seemed they were playing some sort of game. They party avoided these creatures, the clanking of their armor not being louder that the roaring of the beasts.
Another encounter they had, as they came upon a riverside, was with a large, hungry creature, a cross between a bear and a giant eagle. Once again, missile fire worked quite well against the flying horror. It did respond with a deafening roar, which smashed through the party with the certainty of a sonic hammer. The beast was shortly defeated once it came close enough for melee.
Several days and another river later, the party came upon a bridge and road, going NW—SE. K’em exclaimed shock at this finding, as no other roads have been mapped. They chose the path leading away from Hatyaid, relieved to not have to cut their way through anymore.
Camping one night, just off the path, a small, man-shaped creature with big ears and cute, green suit ran up to the party. “You’re late,” he said, “Come with me. You must come quickly.”
The party put their armor on and prepared to follow the little fellow, when they heard the sounds of combat. Explosions, screaming and the clanking of steel broke the otherwise quiet night. The party quickened their pace, though eventually the sounds of fighting lessened down to silence. They came upon a clearing filled with carnage. Over fifty bodies of fighters, monks and clerics lay strewn over the small battlefield. A whimpering figure, probably female by the sound, lay balled up on the ground, naked and covered in blood. She seemed to be at the heart of the carnage.
K’em immediately called for the party to leave. He spoke of danger if they stayed. As they retreated all the way back to the bridge, K’em said that Martina had communicated with him, warned him to leave. The party concluded that the group of now dead warriors was the same group that headed west, ventured out from Selangod, to slay a vampire named Martina.
The party planned to return to the site but were interrupted by the sounds of a wagon coming over the bridge. A couple and their kids were traveling the same path that the party traveled. The party intercepted them and found that they were traders, traveling from the town of Perad to the City of Gogdor, home to giants. That there were towns outside of Selangod proper surprised some in the party. They decided to accompany the travelers, to protect them but also to shield the family from seeing the bloody carnage that lie ahead.
The salvage minded party returned to the site of the battle, satisfied that Martina wasn’t there. They found some money and a large assortment of weapons, but all magic items had been stripped. The party then held services for the fallen priests and paladins of Utu. They set out once more with the wagon folks, made their way to the City of Giants.
Gogdor was a very stratified city. The tall houses lined the streets in near perfect uniformity, all the same size and shape. The giants seemed to live very structured, unified lives. No evil was detected. The huge general store accepted the swords and weapons gleaned from the carnage a few days back. The party stayed at an expensive inn, one intended for human types.
Instead of pressing on to who knows where, the party found that the tavern had a giant barman that had some adventures for curious types. They proceeded to this giant and enquired. He offered them a strange quest, to open a magic box and tell him what happens. The box had resisted all attempts to identify it, suggesting that it was quite powerful. He offered a thousand gold pieces to the party. They took the box back to the inn and, in stages, opened the box.
Poof. The party found themselves in another place completely. The ground was wet dirt and the breeze was cold. The sky was now dark and the moon and stars looked different. More shocking was that the party was completely naked, having no possessions much less warm clothing. They worked to start a fire out of the ample dead wood, a dead forest all around them. They broke off branches to use as clubs and staffs, should the need arise.
They made their way down a path bearing torches, trying to keep warm by continuous movement. The party came upon a puddle and a desiccated skeleton. Natrina pried the corpse with her stick and found a note. They moved on, not wanting to hang around a corpse. The path emptied onto a road, bearing signs of recent traffic. The party turned left and traveled the new road, seeing a light up ahead.
The party found a path leading off the main road, lit by oil lamps. Moving down this path they became aware of a pond or lake on their right. Ahead, they saw a large, decrepit house with a courtyard.
“Man, you’ll catch your death of cold” a heavy-set man said from behind a hedge. After a short conversation, the man ushered them inside the house, with the friendly greeting, “Welcome to House Usher.”

Dukes, Pain and Death

The party Chose to return to Selangod. They knew it would be dangerous as a lot of powerful people were looking for them, to imprison them at best. Maka had discovered who it was that sold information to these searchers and wanted to question him. Weighing the risk of exploring the unknown for the foreseeable future, versus returning to town and confronting that which was known, the party chose the later.
They received warnings in Pahand from Sherry and saw the “Wanted” posters bearing some of their images. Then they pressed on to Selangod despite some misgivings. On the road there, Threep found that the party had been followed by a pack of birds, the same birds. These killed, Rah was able to use his rituals to speak to the dead birds. He discovered that one of the birds was sent to keep tabs on K’emwar. Seemed that there were still organized attempts from others to find the party.
The party, in general, used the Siduri temple as a base of operations. They left K’em there. The rest made their way to the Silver Challis Tavern at night, potentially to encounter the rat that had been selling information about the party. Upon entering, they saw the man sitting quietly with three other gentlemen. By the way, Threep and Gargg did not hang around inside the Tavern, but climbed up on the roof.
Miradin Charmed their target and asked him to join the party in an upstairs room. At this, the three other startled gentlemen jumped up and ran out a back door of the Tavern. From the roof, the men were seen running into the next-door building. The party, minus Threep, K’em and Gargg, went upstairs to collect the rat and question him.
Then, a very large man, followed by others, burst forth from the adjacent building, seen from the rooftop. Gargg shot an arrow at the window to the room as a warning. Shortly thereafter, the door to the upstairs room flew off its hinges as the large man attacked.
Most of the party escaped the man, who was fighting with insane speed and ability. They leaped from the window down to the ground and tried to speed away in the night. Scruffy and Delal did not escape, even with invisibility, and were cut down by savage blows. The man, later determined to be the enraged former Duke of Hatyaid, moved to pursue but hesitated when Rah played his trump card.
Rah opened to Iron Skull to capture the Duke, to bind him to obedience within the Skull. The Duke managed to escape capture but had no intention of endangering himself again. The smaller party escaped back to the Siduri temple.
After they collected themselves and did a session of questioning, the party asked that divinations might be done to locate their fallen party members. Apparently Scruffy and Delal had been sold to the Inquisition, where they were currently undergoing questioning and torture. Something must be done, but the Siduri temple had gone as far as they were willing to go. The party made their way to the Utu temple, watching for enemies along the way.
The Utu priests were quite concerned about one of their paladins being tortured under the Inquisition. They put together a group which included the High Priest, and after instructing the party to stay put, made their way to the Enlil temple. Scruffy and Delal were tortured on no less heinous devices than the iron maiden, culla di Giuda and rack, for short bursts of terror and pain ( Only to be killed.
The Utu priests brought their bodies back, and Raised them free of charge. The party was left questioning themselves. Did they want to go on?

Paid Advertisement, Selangod Times, Current Edition

Legal Disclaimer: The Honorable G. Garggleblasst, Esq. (a.k.a. “Gargg”, a.k.a. “Hero of Pahand City”) does herein solemnly and for the Record Declare that, in the past, purely for convenience sake, He may have occasionally traveled in the company of many different “Adventuring Parties”, He has never been a member of, nor has He formally associated with, the Organization known as the “Grinding Gears” Party. Furthermore, Mr. Garggleblasst disclaims any knowledge of the “Grinding Gears’” present activities or whereabouts, and He has neither financial nor business interests whatsoever in common with said Party. This is the First Time of Declaration.

Subscribed and Sworn before Me This Day,

Howe Dewey Cheatham Moore, Notary Public
Selangod City

A Note on Hyperlinks

It seems that Obsidian chooses to put hyperlinks in my written Adventure logs, thus changing the content of the logs. From now on I will put no hyperlinks in my logs posts. If you choose to pursue the adds put in my writing, then know that it is not from me.

JoMo Rising

Rah, YOU are my father

This week the players themselves endured a thunderstorm of immense power. A mist of deadly poison descended from the heavens and surrounded them. Everyone apparently made their saves, and play, as it were, continued…

Half of the party started in Selangod, where Maka had some questions for one of her fellow guild members. She sought information on whomever it was that ratted her, and the party, out to other parties. She discovered the name of the rat but also the identities of those other parties. It seems that the old Duke of Hatyaid wanted, and received, information at least on Maka. The Inquisition also received information. Bounty hunters have also been hired to locate and capture the party members. Seems that about a fifth of the population of Selangod wants the party caught, including royalty and religious leaders.
The party regrouped for a night in Pahand and decided what to do next. Three major ideas were on the table:
1. To have a party safehouse that no one else knows about.
2. To deal with the rat in Selangod and perhaps clear the party’s name.
3. To head farther West.

They decided that it would be great to have a safe place of their own, and moved on that premise. They headed into the Great Outside, taking a long way around, to hook up with the road leading to the Caverns of Izzah Shizl. To avoid the Enlil presence south of Pahand was their first goal.
On the slow, uneventful journey cutting a thin path through the jungle, the party encountered a huge, flying lion with spikes in its tail. Rah caught a few volleys of iron spikes from the thing before the magic missiles and bow-fire brought it down. The party would feast on flying lion flesh tonight!
Later that same day they went head to head with an ugly party of six giant humanoids, Ogres they would eventually be called. A fierce combat ensued as the ogres wielded their huge clubs in a close melee. Gargg screamed warnings at the ogres to no avail. He and the other heroes slew the ogres who never gave up.
The party continued on after searching the ogres for small treasure. They came upon a small, filthy cave along the ogre’s path. Threep confirmed that it likely housed the now deceased ogres. The party cleaned out the shallow cave and used it as a shelter for a few nights. The wild ogres that lived here cared little about anything, it seemed.
The party headed out again, intent on finding the caverns that they had all but cleared out months before. The days past with a certain amount of boredom as the insignificant plant presence posed the only action. They found the path that lead to the caverns and followed it.
The slow check of the caverns revealed that they were picked clean, something had come through and removed much of the offal and the traps. Seemed a good place to hide out for a while. The party did find an odd thing in that another room was blocked off by an interfering wall. Attempts to dispel the magically created wall failed and so the party contented itself to pass the days just hanging out.
One day, while the party frolicked outside the caves, a troop of a dozen, well-armed ogres approached the caves. The party hid from these creatures. It wasn’t until the ogres entered the caves and triggered Rah’s trap that they became suspicious. Gargg surprised everyone when he stepped forward and announced the presence of the party to the ogres. He stood between the ogres and members of the party that emerged from hiding. Things became complicated when Scruffy detected that the ogres where all evil, yet a showdown did not occur.
The ogres had laid claim to the caves, for some project, and rebuked Gargg for hanging out with humans, humans that bore holy symbols to good gods. The party moved off to the smaller ogre cave they previously discovered and talked about all of this.
It turns out that Gargg believes that he is half-ogre. His ogre family apparently resides within the lower bowels of the caverns, hence the magical walls put up to keep out strangers. More remarkably, it seems that Gargg’s ogre family runs a restaurant of sorts from within the caverns. Gargg has been attempting to keep these admittedly evil ogres from getting involved with the humans of Selangod, isolating them in the caverns and keeping them busy with the business of fine dining. Another, even more remarkable statement was that Rah was actually Gargg’s father. This brought some uncomfortable laughter from the party.
In the end, objection was taken by some in the party, especially Threep, that Gargg had a connection to evil, and that he hadn’t disclosed the fact to a party of good aligned people. That the party is good, however, was not stipulated. Trust between members was brought into question.

Get Stoned and Die!

The party finished searching the precinct to start this session. First they released the prisoners, who were all too cooperative. Then the party searched found a small chest, upon which Maka found a magical trap. Rah dispelled the trap and inside the chest sat another case. This glass case held eight pieces of funnelbright, a type of extremely valuable, if fragile, gemstone. Each piece had its own glass support to keep it from breaking.
These gems were likely to be the gems that the Siduri temple wanted. The party made their escape while Maka and Rah set to burn the precinct to the ground. They brought their enemies bodies to Maka’s guild for disposal.
The party all got back together at the Siduri temple to drop off the loot and get paid for the job. This went without a hitch and the party received twenty large, which they divided.
Now members wanted, or felt the need, to get out of town. They collected Scruffy and the newly educated Delal and made their way west. In Pahand, Rah trained while the party laid low. A few weeks later, they chose to head farther west, along an untried path. In the process, the party avoided the Enlil-ite presence that resided south of Pahand. Seems there’s a snake king in the west that needs to be dealt with.
Following the river brought few encounters of note. They let sleeping crocodiles lie and met no unusual plant life. Several days travel into the heavier brush gained no other encounter of merit, until they came upon a stand-alone house.
Outside the front door of the house sat a six-foot tall, hand made statue of a creature recognized by some as a dragon. Threep investigated the house’s edges, but waited for others to approach the house. K’em, Delal and Scruffy burst open the door at the sensing of an evil presence.
Inside, two more statues were found. They were of cleaner quality, representing a crocodile and a tiger. The three adventurers entered to check the room. Suddenly a snake-haired horror entered from a back room. Her upper body was that of a woman, save for the asps on her head and the glow in her eyes. Her lower body was purely serpentine. She wielded two scimitars, but that wasn’t why she was horrible.
Scruffy and Delal both looked at the creature in shock and then turned to solid stone. K’em had the presence of mind to exit and slam the door shut. He screamed at his companions to burn the house down while putting his shoulder to the door.
The monster tried to bust its way out but the door held. Gargg and Rah splashed oil and started setting the house alight. Threep helped by firing burning arrows at the thatched roof. Before long the house was an inferno. The party heard terrible screams from inside.
Eventually the singed monster burst through one of the walls, casting her deadly gaze at Rah, who looked away just in time. A melee started between Rah, K’em and the monster while others attacked the creature from a safe distance.
The monster was no match for the party, and a small treasure was found. Sadly, two of the party members were turned to stone. They would have to be returned to Pahand for any chance at life. The priests in Pahand were only too willing to rescue Scruffy, one of their own Order, and Delal was a good soul as well. The transmuting ritual didn’t have the desired effect, however, as Delal failed to come back to life. The shock of the stone form was too much for the magic user.
Very high potency magics would be required to bring Delal back to life. In fact there was only one organization in the entire kingdom that was known to have the power to grant Wishes. It meant going back to Selangod, something that most party members didn’t want to do.
Scruffy and Threep hauled the body of Delal into the Big City and brought it to the largest of the Universities. A massive cost would be required to bring Delal back, 140,000 gold pieces. The pair returned to Pahand with the sad news.
Moved by Delal’s plight, to one degree or another, the party began pitching magic items into the pot, an attempt to raise the required funds. Maka insured that most of the money came from Delal’s own stockpile, while Gargg, K’em and Rah gave until it hurt. A fine collection of items and piles of cash were raised, matching the amount.
Threep and Scruffy returned to Selangod and paid the heavy price. Delal returned to life, speaking of strawberry fields and a wizard named Al. Returning to Pahand brought tears of joy from Gargg, who embraced Delal, while others presented her with a bill.

It seems nowhere, and nothing, is safe anymore.


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