Gyruff (Grand Duchy of Geoff)

Laments of Llewellyn – Flocktime 618

My birthday passed quietly. There does not seem to be much to celebrate this year.

Dandelion had been helping Llewellyn with Dagda and knew of some items that Dagda wanted. He wants the return of his cauldron, called Coire Ansic, the return of his magic club, named Lorg Mor, the return of his magic harp, named Uaithne, an area to work in with reagents necessary for him to brew potions and make magic again and some (preferably giant/dire/huge or larger) animals and plants to begin his breeding programs again. Osiris, Morrick, Aoth, Evendur, Tornado and I decided to help him find Llewellyn and then a club for Dagda. We set out for the Isle of Rhun. Morrick and Dandelion remembered to leave gifts for the fey, so gear was maintained. The trip was uneventful except for one lone, easily dispatched zombie we saw on the way to Daufforth. We stayed in New Midwood, Trehalwyn and Dersyth among other towns on the route to the Isle of Rhun. The people in Trahalwyn and all of Gwyrth Bryn are feeling defeated. Many of the young men are dead and the towns just have women, children and elderly. Many of the druid circles are unattended since many of the druids died in the brief war.

When we got to Dersyth, I was pleasantly surprised to see Arglwyth Andras Dryadson and his personal guard helping rebuild the town, which bore the brunt of the fighting. His focus is getting the homes of the commoners rebuilt, then the businesses, the temple and finally his own estate. He is winning the hearts of his people. We stayed for 2 days to help in the effort. Dagda is still outside Dersyth, but he is peaceful and no longer capturing people. Aoth and Dandelion talked to people and found out that Caswallon’s daughter Maelan in is the Barrier Peaks or the Crystal Mists. We sighted wereboars a few times or their tracks. The druids that Aoth has spoken to are afraid that Maelan will recruit the wereboars. They also learned that the Knights of the Watch terrorizing Arweth starved to death over the winter. Llewelyn is rumored to be at the Isle of Rhun, so we pressed on.

I had forgotten how difficult the trip to the Isle was. It was cold and steep and long. The horses we left in Dersyth, but those with ponies brought them all the way to the Isle. We found one herd of large sheep with three rams and about a dozen ewes. Evendur or Osaris speculated that if we could get a ram and one ewe for Dagda, it would be the start of a herd for him and help make him happy. After two days, we finally reached the shore of the lake. Dandelion blew the horn quite musically and after about 45 minutes the boat appeared rowed by 6 monks with a druid in the stern.

Once we reached Kindler’s Isle, the druid (Ellen d Ash or something like that) told Llewellyn we had arrived. Caitlynn is still having trouble fitting into Llewellyn’s body. The young girl shows in every skip and giggle. Hopefully with more time she can remember her life 4000 years ago and again become that person. But maybe I gave her/him the wrong advice. Time will tell.

Llewelynn had been researching Dagda’s club. He found a legend that Dagda many years ago before the first gods had met three brothers (other primordials). Each had a new inheritance from their father. One had a staff, one end would kill, the other end would bring the dead back to life. Dagda borrowed the staff and slew the three brothers. He then raised the three and borrowed the staff. The staff was rumored to need 8 grown men to carry it. Llewelyn had found the location of the three brothers far in the east and took us there via plants and the ways of the world. Caitlyn showed through as she enjoyed using Llewelyn’s power to destroy the vargoyles before they could harm us.

We emerged from the ways of the world on a mountain peak above a ruined city. We were making our way down to the ruined city when we were attacked by kobolds on griffons. I had fallen down the peak, so I was a little separated from the others. Llewelyn turned some of the group into beasts. The kobolds threw barrels of grey ooze at us and flew back to another peak. Llewelyn flew after them and destroyed the kobolds and adult griffons. Aoth noticed that three of the mountains were moving. Morrick, Dandelion and I remembered that the Raven Queen had brought the three brothers back to life in her quest to become the goddess of death and kill Nerull. Hopefully they do not interfere or seek their staff.

In the mean time, we regrouped and decided to check for the staff in the royal palace. Llewelyn came back. For our help getting the staff for Dagda, he would get a young griffon for anyone who wanted one. The kobolds had left many traps, but Evendur made good use of the animal form to “disarm” the traps. We came across a room with three tombs. Dandelion read the inscription, which mentioned a curse, so we left them alone. Further on, we heard some talking. Osaris snuck down the passage and hear in draconic someone reporting to a master that humans were approaching. Osaris saw a white dragon and a kobold before he came back to report. Dandelion decided to try to talk to the dragon. Her name was Shissirississ and in true Dandelion style, he tried to seduce her. She was interested, but too young to be able to polymorph. Instead we ambushed her and had to kill her. We took her treasure, including the staff, and returned to Kindler’s Isle.

We returned to Dersyth and Llewelyn and Dandelion gave Dagda the staff and the harp. By the time, we noticed the art objects from the dragon’s hoard were all cursed. Morrick could remove curse for us and he and Dandelion volunteered to take care of the items.

I decided to stay in Dersyth for a little while to help the town rebuild. I gave my baby griffon to Arglwyth Andras Dryadson. May Gwyrth Bryn heal and the druids be rebuilt.

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Hochoch Street Blues 4 part 2

Planting 21, 618. I was doing my normal patrol of the common quarter when suddenly people started screaming. 500 to 600 zombies from the river started swarming the town. But more pressing, a hag, a unicorn turned nightmare and two slaads started attacking people in the quarter. Xilvyre, Dandelion, Morrick and some others ran to the walls to fight the zombies. As they ran past, they warned us that the nightmare could shoot fireballs and the hag could kill with a look.

Jagr, Dentrak, G’zo, Dasut, Yahnny Aurora and Bothan converged on the area and we started to do battle. The four were spread out, so we could concentrate on one at a time. Aurora suggested going after the hag first, but I could not locate her, so I went after a slaad. Bothan concentrated on the nightmare and hag with the rest of us concentrating on the slaads and the nightmare. With the four spread out, they could not just ethereal stride away as they had before. The hag turned out to be a sea hag. According to Xilvyre’s research, hag covens can be made up of hags of different types and have three members. Hopefully this is the third hag from the coven and Hochoch is rid of hags. The nightmare threw one fireball, but we spread out and only two people and two houses were caught in the blast. After putting out the fire on the houses, we continued the mission of the missing teamsters and missing carts. The two slaads had eaten two of the teamsters, so they were unhappily found.

We went back to Django’s Chichken house to pick up the tracks of the carts. Dasut found the tracks, so we followed them to the Buy and Sell Pawn Shop just down the street. They were found covered in blood, feathers and scales. Bothan arrested the pawn shop owner for receiving stolen goods. We questioned the surviving teamsters, who said that they were delivering chickens, turtles, and snakes to the chicken house. We questioned the staff at Django’s, who said they received the cargo. We then searched under the chicken house and saw the temple area and the goblin area.

Next we decided to find the other cart and teamsters who had a delivery for Lord Mundinguluss. The teamsters told us the cargo was a huge load about 8 feet in diameter covered by a tarp. The load was soft, squishy and heavy, not at all like the book in a sea chest described by Mundinguluss. The cart tracks led to the back door of Lord Mundinguluss’ estate then out the nearby gate. We found the empty cart under a tent in the homeless section. We found liquid around the cart and blood on the cart with slimy fluid.

Lord Mundinguluss had lied. And Judge Jia is his friend, so getting a warrant from her would not happen. We decided to follow the sewer system and hope to come up under the estate. We went down 60 feet under the street through a maintenance tunnel and followed along to a side tunnel we judged would go under the estate. At the end of the tunnel, we found a 12 inch hole above our heads. Dasut boosted Yahnny through to investigate. He reported seeing a large circular room with the tiled loo in the center of the room. Bothan and I examined the refuse in the sewer and found humanoid alien poo with bits of humanoid skull fragments. We also identified dirt from the excavation. Jagr informed her Prince of the findings and we decided to go in. We widened the hole to allow the passage of our wider friends and entered the room. All the rooms and tunnels we found were oval shaped with strange patterns in the tiles. After Xilvyre and some other heroes were given a tour some months ago, she researched and found the architecture to resemble mind flayer lairs.

We followed the only finished tunnel and found strange things. We found several rooms of fonts. We also found a room with a briny pool in the center with some strange tadpole-like creatures and an iris valve in the ceiling. As we were investigating, a teamster named Bronwyn, not one of the recently missing, found us. He wanted to take us to his master, but we did not follow. He climbed a rope though a hole in the ceiling to another story of the lair. Dentrak lifted Bothan up through another hole. Bothan reported finding a room with niches with funeral jars of brains.

At this point, we heard a splash from the pool room and Princess Jagr yelled “Beholder”. We took parting shots at the beholder on our way back to the exit, but it did not react. Bothan and Dasut got close to the beholder and determined that it was stunned or drugged or something. Between all of us, we took it down to unconsciousness, but we did not finish it off. This is something we all regret.

We decided to continue our investigation and climbed up the rope the teamster had used. We found ourselves in a room with a surgery table and four doors in addition to the rope out. Bothan opened the doors and we found four teamsters in a stunned state. We decided to leave them for now as we could not protect them if we ran into trouble.

We climbed the rope to the next level and found a room with a curved hallway. One of the town guard lieutenants and his squad appeared to be guarding a room. The lieutenant offered to show us out, but we did not follow. At that point, Mundinguluss and a merchant friend came and offered to discuss things with us. He explained that the town guard had come when he received word of intruders, us. The Princess asked that the town guard leave before discussions, so they went down the tunnel. Bothan went down into another room instead of coming to talk and found more cells with a dozen or two captives. The merchant then appeared to start to speak and I got a splitting headache and was stunned, as was the Princess. Others just got a headache, apparently from a mind stun. Mundinguluss then cast Hypnotic Pattern, catching some others. G’zo was not affected and cast web, catching the returning town guard and Mundinguluss. Aurora and Bothan escaped effect and took down Mundinguluss. Dasut and Dentrak started attacking town guard. When the each guard went down, a brain with legs came out of the head. Later we discovered these are intellect devourers.

During this time, Yahnny went the other way to see if the tunnel connected. He got a horrid surprise and came back yelling about danger. He found an elder brain, Judge Jia and several teamsters standing guard. Eventually we killed all the town guard, who could not be saved, and the intellect devourers. By that time, we heard a flush and the elder brain, Jia and the teamsters were gone, along with the merchant and the beholder. We did manage to free some townsfolk and some teamsters and a library of books.

We questioned Mundinguluss and found that he and Jia were captured by the illithads and reprogrammed. The illithads made sure Jia was elected judge.

From reading Mundinguluss’ books, I believe a protection from evil and good spell would drive the intellect devourers out, killing the host. The brain is gone.
We might also have people who are hosts to slaad eggs. Those can be cured with lesser restoration. It should be detectible with medicine checks.
I don’t know how much of the town will submit to health checks. Maybe at least the castle staff and the town guard should be required to have an exam. My acolytes and I would be happy to help. Maybe some of the other clerics in town would also help after their own examination.
Then my debt to the Prince will be somewhat satisfied and I can go to Newbridge. Many of the ills plaguing Hochoch have been removed. The Prince has been installed as Arlwyth and laws have been restored. A town guard had been recruited and trained. The hags have been removed, one permanently. The cult of Tharizdun and the cult of Incabulous have been eradicated. The temples to the evil deities have been closed down. Only a few problems remain. Hochoch needs a new high judge and more town guard. The apocathery house and the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall need further investigation. Nestrum Eldoran is believed to worship big V. Zombies are loose in the countryside. Gangs still roam town and the orphanage is teaching the children to steal. All in all I feel the town is becoming a decent place to live.

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Chapter 9: Into the Void

It has been a round about trip back to Hochoch but I see little has changed. The city is still in the throes of evil magic and it seems normalcy may be something it never experiences again. After spending a few days in Thorndyke, I moved on back to Gorna to let my father know what Mazer had told me about Alena. A lot of it seems like the ravings of a mad man but in my experience, even the craziest tales hold a kernel of truth. I hope that Gorna does not fall victim to the same insanity that Hochoch has. From Gorna, it was off to Preston to meet an old and new friend. I wish I had been able to take the trip to Dersyth to check in on Andras. I promised him I would meet him there after the Gyri civil war cooled down. Gwyneth Bryn was hit hard by the war, pitting families against each other and dividing friends. I hope it is all behind us but with Caswallon’s daughter still on the loose, I suspect there will be more to pay on that end.

The trip back to Hochoch was mostly uneventful though we did run into some helpful fey along the way that brought me news of the goings on in Hochoch. Mazer was recently seen there. Why am I not surprised. He is impulsive, even for a sorcerer and one of these days it is going to get him in trouble. Oh, wait, it already has. He has some fragment of the Chained God wandering around inside his head giving him nightmares and is eating dirt. Well at least this time it sounds like he was able to keep it together long enough for a group of heroes he was with to break the Cult of the Chained God in Hochoch. With the digging around the obelisk stopped, the insanity has begun to fade. Well, the insanity caused by the obelisk anyway. There is a lot more insanity still going around.

Arriving at Hochoch was a bit more exciting than I expected. It seems that in my absence a zombie apocalypse had broken out along with evil outsiders slaughtering commoners in the street. That just wouldn’t do. After negotiating the ravening undead outside the city wall, I managed to catch up with several others including the dwarf Bothan, the wayward priestess Gelwyn, and a couple of the more colorful figures that I had accompanied on the trek from Aberglaine to Gorna all those months ago. At least the crazy tall sorcerer one wasn’t wearing a horse head for a helmet this time.

Dodging from building to building we began to take out what turned out to be a pair of red slaad, a sea hag, and a corrupted unicorn. It seems that another group of heroes had assaulted a hidden Temple of the Lord of Pestilence and had drawn the attention of these outsiders. I wonder if that raid had anything to do with the zombie plague. Anyway, while the others beat a hasty retreat after their dust up with the cultists, Bothan decided to charge headlong into battle wielding the glaive he had acquired from the raid on the Temple of Wastri. With a pair of monks running around on the rooftops and the cleric charging into battle it seemed that slowing down at least one of the slaads might be a good idea so I unleashed a couple of frost arrows, though it didn’t really matter with everyone rushing forward. The group acted with surprising coordination and took the outsiders down one by one. Not wanting the slaads to get back up I finished them off permanently with some magic missiles. The corrupted unicorn, on the other hand proved much more elusive for me. Fortunately it was not elusive towards the dwarf, though it kept kicking him in the shins every time someone attacked it. With the four creatures down, it was time to put out the fires that the battle had started. We found the grisly remains of two of the missing teamsters inside the slaads so I guess that part of the mystery is solved.

Following the battle, we took some time to check out the tunnels the others had found under Django’s Chicken House. Much like Aberglaine, the ground beneath Hochoch is riddled with hidden passages and rooms and much of it seems to predate the magical reconstruction following the city’s liberation from the giants. There is an entire goblin warren right beneath the largest city in Arweth. The Princess seemed unconcerned and maybe we should learn to appreciate the differences in others. I just have a hard time believing that goblins and humans could live in close proximity, although some would say that about humans and giants and despite a few rough edges, that relationship seems to be going well despite the scars of war. The tunnels went on for quite a ways and we did not have time to explore them further lest the trail of the missing shipment to Lord Mundinguluss grow to cold to follow. Witnesses placed the teamsters cart very close to Lord Mundinguluss’ estate when it disappeared. From what we could get from the teamsters, the cart carried something large, heavy , and soft under a tarp. We would later find out what that object was and it was not a sea chest like Mundinguluss had claimed but I will get to that later. We found the missing cart, without its cargo of course, just outside the wall of the city pushed into a squatter’s tent. Like the carts from Django’s Chicken House, which were also craftily hidden right out in the open, this cart seemed to have reached its destination before being “disposed” of. It was not hard to convince even the skeptical dwarf that asking Mundinguluss about the cart would prove fruitless, so we decided to take a more direct approach. With all the tunnels and sewers beneath the city, there had to be an underground entrance into Mundinguluss’ estate. From the descriptions that had been passed on by several “guests” of the sage, the construction of the lower levels of the mansion was indeed strange. Rumors of illithids in Hochoch started to take on a bit more substance and it was possible, one might even say likely, that Mundinguluss was involved with them.

Finding a passage into the sewers was not difficult and after a moment or two of orienting ourselves, we were able to locate a “passageway” leading to what we expected was one of the lower levels of the Mundinguluss estate. Gelwyn made a disturbing find in the waste that had apparently fallen from above. Fragments of humanoid skulls were mixed with the other detritus in a proportion that would be considered most unnatural. After a bit of sanitational engineering we had widened the passage to a degree that it could be used to ascend to the level above. The room it emerged into was quite bizarre. It was the largest and most lavishly decorated gardarobe I had ever seen. Not many people would put the loo in the center of the room all by itself. All in all the construction of the entire level was bizarre with ellipsoid corridors and rooms shaped more like kidney beans than classical construction, hardly a straight line in sight. No one in this place had ever heard of stairs either. At least they could have used magic to provide lifts instead of having to climb ropes and pull ourselves up through holes in the floor.

The lowest level contained several rooms with what appeared to be fonts and a large central chamber that was very much like a salt water pond. Swimming in the pool were many creatures that had squid like heads and worm like bodies. Based on some of the things we found later, it seems likely that these were illithid larvae. As we were about to explore further, we came across someone who, for all intents, looked like one of the teamsters. He seemed oddly at home in this bizarre environment and after Bothan convinced him to take us to his master, Lord Mundinguluss we assumed, he headed up one of the shafts. Being unusually contrarian, Bothan decided to go in the other direction and discovered another shaft. In climbing up, he discovered dozens of urns stacked up like a larder. A larder is what it turned out to be after all, a larder for illithids that is. Each urn contained a preserved humanoid brain. How many people had lost their lives as a result of this place was hard to conceive. How many of those who had gone missing on the streets above had ended up here. While Bothan was exploring the larder, we heard the sound of metal sliding on metal and then a splash as if something had dropped into the pool. The princess was standing near one of the doorways into the pool chamber and yelled out “Beholder” before firing two arrows and moving to the side. Thinking we were in for a big fight, everyone launched an attack on the creature while moving toward the exit. The beholder did not respond to the attacks so it was apparent something was not right. Bothan and the monk approached the creature while I took up a position near where the teamster had gone, in case he came back. It turned out that the beholder was stunned and unable to act. Though we knocked it unconscious, we neglected to finish it off, a decision we would later regret. Before leaving this area, Bothan decided to dump out all of the fonts we had seen on this level while the rest of us moved on to the next level.

There we found a surgical table and four sealed doors. Behind each of the doors, in a room not much bigger than an alcove, were several townspeople including the two remaining missing teamsters. They were totally unresponsive so we decided to leave them there while we continued our search. It was becoming very clear that Mundinguluss was in league with the illithids and that they had been abducting townspeople for months. Up one more level we came across the last piece of the puzzle. While searching, we encountered a town guard unit that wanted to lead us “out” but seemed to be protecting several other passages. The dwarf confronted them and just before hostilities broke out, Mundinguluss and another man who he introduced as a fellow merchant came down a passageway to the north that we had not yet explored, we would soon find out why the guards wanted us to go there and why Mundinguluss and his associate were there. Mundinguluss thought we should talk about the situation and dismissed the guards. Bothan, being the curious sort, or some might say mischievous, had decided to drop down into another chamber while we were “talking” to the two merchants. Down there he found another 50 or so townspeople. No sooner had the guards left than the “conversation” took a turn for the worse. Mundinguluss’ associate stood up as if he were going to say something but instead lashed out with a psychic blast of some strength. Gelwyn and Jagr were stunned while I was outside the apparent area of effect being intrigued why Bothan had decided to drop down through a hole in the floor while we were talking to the merchants. Mundinguluss called for the guards and the battle was joined.

Mundinguluss and the other merchant tried to flee while the guards occupied us but a well placed web spell by the tall sorcerer stopped Mundinguluss and most of the guards in their tracks. This turned out to be a fortuitous event as we later found out that the guards were not town guards anymore. Mundinguluss was caught in the edge of the web and I let him have a good taste of magic from my bow which incidentally burned away the webs around him causing him further discomfort. Bothan took him down a moment later with non-lethal damage and our questioning of him later would prove most enlightening. Now, the guards were much more than they seemed. Each had been taken over by creatures I later learned were called intellect devourers. It seems these creatures are creations of or allies of the illithids. The books I found on the subject were not all that clear on the topic. As each guard was disabled, the intellect devourer emerged from the body to continue the fight. They are vicious little things capable of disabling at a thought. Bothan took a direct hit from the psychic attack of one of the creatures and it nearly toppled him. It seems that their psychic attack not only does physical damage but can allow them to disable their opponent by draining their intelligence as well. Though powerful psychically, their defenses were weak, although they do seem quite resistant to normal weapons. Magic cut them to pieces though.

During the fight, several characters decided to try and circle around behind the fleeing merchant by taking the north passage. What they discovered there made a lot of things much clearer. I am sorry to say that Mazer and Dandelion may be quite distressed by what I have to say next but Jia Buckman was not on our side. In that room to the north was a creature that Mundinguluss’ books called an Elder Brain. From what I can tell, it is effectively the queen of the illithid swarm. Along with this elder brain was High Justice Jia Buckman and several teamsters. This is where Mundinguluss and his merchant associate had come from. Based on events, it is likely that the other merchant was in fact an illithid in disguise. Had we come down from above instead of from beneath through the sewers, we likely would not have made it out of that alien place. Our wayward companions hotfooted it back to the battle and we quickly vanquished the remaining intellect devourers, being careful to “release” them one by one. As the battle was ending we heard a loud “whooshing” sound from the room to the north and when we investigated we found that all of the previous occupants were gone. In addition, the beholder we had left below had also been dragged off.

It took a while to break Mundinguluss’ conditioning, but when we did he was able to provide a wealth of information that brought some recent events into perspective. It seems that Mundinguluss and his illithid allies had been capturing people from the town above and turning them either into thralls through a form of psychic surgery or as vessels for intellect devourers. It will be almost impossible to ferret out spies of these types without killing them. How many of the town guard and important personages in the town have been “replaced”. How many of those sent to prison by Jia Buckman have been modified. Where did she and the Elder Brain go. All serious questions that place the future of Hochoch in jeopardy. Add to that an infectious zombie plague, a rampaging primordial, and links to additional elemental cults worshiping the Elder Eye, an aspect of the Chained God, and the future for Gyruff looks bleak. It is a time for heroes, the question is, who will answer the call.

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Excerpts Bothan Rodric the dwarf's Journal #8
HochHoch Street Blues – Wrapping up Incabulos and the Illithids

Day 301
Yesterday other heroes in the town guard have been able to shut down the mining to take out the spike in the primoridals brain under HochHoch. Our previous investigations starting with Mephistopheles led the way to this successful conclusion. With the primoridal question solved those previously gone insane are coming back to their sense. It appears that my hard work at the sanitarium is no longer required. But I will certainly continue to spend some of my free time check in with the Ehlonna priestess and provide my help as long as there is need.

Day 315
I am quite impressed with how far HochHoch has come in the time I have spent here. Upon my first visit there was total chaos with most of the population preying on one another. There is still much work to do, but I can see the great strides and improvements that have occurred. I don’t think it will be too much longer before only the typical street crimes with maybe a rare flare up of more powerful misdeeds occurring.

Day 316
All of the guards have been called to arms for some of my fellow heroes have stirred a hornet’s nest in shutting down the Incabulos temple. They found an entrance leading below at the goblin’s chicken restaurant. Beside defeating the worshipers they had do defeat score of undead that were below. This must have brought the undead to attack the town from the river. Most of the undead swarmed docks and ships. But many also wandered aimlessly into the hinterland. Killing many sailors many who frequent the wharves and some of the poor that couldn’t reach the town wall before their closure. Most of these zombies swarmed the town walls smelling the human flesh that they love. In the mean time those fellow heroes encountered some slaad, a hag and a unicorn turned nightmare. In all their efforts they had expended many of their spells and needed a respite. So after those enemies broke from the encounter the heroes gained a brief respite and requested myself, Gelwen, Aurora, Jagr and three move true and stout heroes to find and punish the enemy. While they helped man the towns walls preventing the zombies entry.
We found the Hag, unicorn turned nightmare and two slaads causing havoc in the common quarter. The talk of our friends regarding this enemy appears a tad exaggerated. We actually had little trouble dispatching them. It became clear that the Hag was not the third night hag it was of some other type and hence of some other coven. Most of the party attacked Vlad the slaad and made short round of it in a couple of turns. I waded into the heat of battle going up against the hag and the unicorn turned nightmare. I focused on the previously wounded hag. Despite its fearsome nature I attacked and my first series of attacks blooded it. In response it used its penetrating death glare on me to no avail. Seeing me as the greatest threat and also the closest the unicorn turned night mare attacked with substantial effect. It almost blooding me in its first set of attacks. Several of my comrades came to my aid and attacked the nightmare from range. This was both good and bad. For the nightmare could employ further attacks against me when they hit it. Happily my stout armor shielded me. The nightmare then cast a fireball targeting me and one other compatriot. After that my fellows and I took down the nightmare and Tad the remaining slaad. By the end of the battle I had been grievously injured and one other fellow slightly injured with the rest of the party coming though without a scratch. We discovered the bodies of two teamsters in the slaads bellies.
We learned that the fight on the town walls were tapering off, so we continued on the hunt for the missing teamsters and their wagons. From the goblin’s restaurant were were able to trace the delivery wagons to the back of a nearby pawn shop. I went into the pawnshop and asked the proprietor if the wagons in back were his and if they were for hire. He applied affirmatively. I then immediately arrested him for dealing in stolen goods. I initially felt good in shutting down trade in illicit goods. However, I now fear that without Judge Jia to pass sentence he may languish in jail until a new High Judge is elected.
Having solved half the mystery of missing wagons and teamster we moved on to the ones that were to deliver at Lord Muninglass. We picked up the tracks of the cart they lead to Muninglasses front door. The wagon tracks then continued outside the nearby town gate and was found abandoned in the slums. The evidence seemed clear if not conclusive. Lord Muninglass had requested the aid of the guard in finding his missing delivery which was a small chest containing a rare book. The tracks indicated that the delivery had been made. In conjunction one of the teamsters helping with the loading of the caravan indicated that they had transferred something covered in canvas about 8 foot long and squishy.
Initially, I thought to approach the mansion directly with our probable cause to interrogate Muninglass and search his house. But Aurora rightly pointed out that Lord Muninglass who was friends with High Judge Jia could cause problems in such a direct approach. So since Lord Muninglass lied about the cargo he was receiving and the cart carrying this cargo led to his front door and then Lord Muninglass himself requested the help of the guard in search for his missing property. I felt we had two legal precedence’s for entering his property covertly. Probable cause for the appearance that the goods had been delivered and I took the request of finding his stolen book as implicit permission to search his estate. For if his stolen book was in his mansion and since he had requested the guard to find it for him then he at least tacitly approved of a search on his premises proving there was evidence of that being the case.
We descended into the sewers near his mansion. We made a way to a hole in the ceiling of the sewers under Lord Mundinglasses mansion. I had never thought my young life in the army on latrine duty would provide any future benefits. However, it came in quite useful here. For from the hole had been dumped incriminating evidence. Xikvre had mentioned suspicions that rooms for illithids were being constructed under the mansion. The excrement below the hole showed clearly that they were from an alien species of another plane. Also dumped but not digested were bits of skull bone. We made are way up the hole and entered a tiled room. It had one completed exit and three exits still in construction. The architecture was odd shaped with dome ceiling and tiles on surfaces. Designs in and shaped by the tiles appeared to have some pattern I believe were in some fashion astronomical. Exiting this room the hallway branched into another curving hallway. A large room with an closed iris opening in the ceiling was the first investigated. A large pool was located under the Iris. It contained cave fish, tadpoles and other life of tiny proportions. In a smaller room were a circle of fonts containing water with tiny tadpole like creatures swimming in them. I tried to grab one to examine it more closely and missed. But having done so could see that it was an aberrant creature.
It was at this point our presence was exposed. An individual dressed like a teamster but not matching descriptions of those missing challenged us. I informed him that we were present at Lord Munglasses behest. He insisted that we follow him to Muninglass. We declined and he left to warn his master. We then began a fast and furious search of the rest of the area to try and find more concrete evidence of illegal activity. The dragonborn had just lifted me up into another room reached from below. In it I found many urn in which were brains of terrestrial humanoids. It is then I heard Jagr call out the word BEHOLDER. By the time I jumped down and entered the are things appeared in chaos. I had heard signs of battle. Some of the group appeared to be fleeing and others taking cover. However, the beholder that had come from the iris in the ceiling of the large room did not chase anyone out. Many of the party took turns looking in the room firing at range and taking cover. I rushed in attacking the Beholder with Bothan’s Balky Blade™ but could see immediately something was wrong about it. Its eye stalks were droop and not active. It was not levitating but floating in the brackish pool and the only thing it did was to attempt speak to me. I could not understand it. My compatriots finished it off although no one couped it. We left it to bleed out. Having no where left to explore below me fellows followed the path up were the teamster went. I spent a minute below toppling the fonts so that the alien tadpoles of alien origin. Perhaps an early stage of Illithids??? I rejoined the party before they left the newly explored room This room had a surgical table with straps, one hallway exit and 5 iris doors on the walls. Within each door was a cell with a teamster in each. Two of the teamsters matched the descriptions of those still missing. They were standing and took no action or movement. We closed their doors to keep them safe for later retrieval. The next room was kidney shaped and had two further exits. I immediately went to one to cover and saw a room with town guards standing in it. Jar ordered the guards to show us the way out. The lieutenant appeared to comply but the others blocked the exit. They tried to usher me back but I stood my ground. It was then from the other exit that Lord Muninglass and a richly dressed person entered. Lord Muninglass was unhappy with our intrusion. Jagr explained that we were here on official business and it appears that some illegal activities were taking place. Jagr asked what the town guard were doing here. Lord Muninglass responded that they had been called in because of a break-in. Lord Muniglass suggested that we enter the lounge (room where the guards had been standing) to discuss matters. Jagr agreed providing the town guards be sent back their duties. Lord Muninglass agreed and they departed.
It seemed like talking was going to last a little while, so I immediately entered the lounge room and exited into the next room opposite of where the guards left. In this room was a hole in the floor and no rope. But it was only 15 foot drop so I continued below. As I heard mumbled conversation above I explored this room with only the ceiling hole for exit. In this room were many cells most containing townsfolk in the common stunned state. It is not to long before I hear conversation turned to battle. Aurora throws a rope down and allows me to climb up. I see an interesting situation. Some of the party appear to be stunned. I later learned by the well dressed stranger. I’m thinking illithid. The “illithid’ rushes down the path the guards had taken as Muninglass calls the guards to come and help. The guards did not leave but had waited outside view. I’m sure this didn’t really surprise any of us as their refusal to follow Jagr’s orders but complied with Munglasses showed their true colors. I was able to move forward just enough to be caught in a hypnotic suggestion spell. Happily it is an intelligence save and those pose no problem for me. A web was cast catching most of the guards. However the wealthy dressed “illithid” freed itself and made its escape. Much of the party was incapacitated but matters changed in our favor. Aurora cast a fire spell on Lord Munglass. He was injure by the spell and then again by the burning webs. I was then able make use of Bothan’s Balky Blade ™ against Lord Muninglass. I knocked him unconscious using nonlethal damage so he could be questioned later. When he fell unconscious the hypnotic gaze dropped from some of my inflicted friends. Since the way to the “illithid” was blocked with webs, I suggested that the room from Muninglass first appeared might likewise circle around and our fast people could perhaps catch him that way. The monk sent his apprentice that direction to see if it would lead that way and we then focused on the lieutenant. The monk easily took down the lieutenant but from it body came a creature that appeared as a brain on legs. I dispatched it quickly before it could act. All of the guards had these creatures inside them. I got careless and took down a guard with not enough actions to also kill the brain creature. It attacked me doing almost half my total hit points. Fortunately my high intelligence prevented the psychic blast from stunning me. As we now became careful in our attacking on soldier/brain at a time some of the others in our group followed the apprentice to try and catch the “illithid”. But it was not long before they come running back. With stories of a huge brain with human controlled guards.
As our group destroyed the last of the town guard/brains we here a splash. The huge brain, its guards escaped to the sewers apparently taking the unconscious Beholder with them.
So we learn that these aliens have been establishing a colony here in HochHoch. They use brains for food. Sometime use human bodies as hosts for the small brain beings. Can tear down and remake the brains of humanoids rather then taking direct control of them. They did such with Muninglass. Oh they also did that with high judge Jia who some of us witnessed with the huge brain and its guards. Jia escaped and has not been found. The wealthy “illithid?” escaped above ground its whereabouts unknown. These ilithids worked to get Jia elected to high judge. When I first saw he favoritism over illegal activities at Evard’s shop I distrusted her. I am happy that my instincts were correct but would have preferred if she had been a hero instead.
This only increases my worry over Evard. Jia and him were also very friendly. Is Evard a member of these illithids or mereley complicit in dealings. He needs further investigation.

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DiD yoU SeE tHAt? ovER tHerE!? iTS WatChiNG mE!

So Mazer fans, a lot has happened to me since my last journal. I am jotting this down in the morning hours while I am most coherent (mostly) and typically Mazer-like. Towards dusk…yeah. Not so much. I do and see strange things but we’ll get more into that later. Ole Mazer here has come into a rough stretch of life lately. I hear this happens to some people but, come on! I’m Mazer man!!! Everything had been going really great: Being a Baronet, hot women, parties, gigs, coin, schmoozing with Gyruff’s other Big Timers, more women, you know…the important stuff. Our Group would help out Gyruff now and then for even more fame and notoriety. I was nominated for a new position in Hochoch…High Judge! Wow. People just love me. Anyway, this was certainly a high point of life. All until while on a little adventure under some condemned crappy building in Hochoch. See, there was this creepy dark pit with a long black stone-like obelisk thing and some flying demon creatures in there. That’s when ole Mazer made an unknowing mistake…I know, it can happen. While standing on the obelisk and in conversation with friends, ummm, I accidentally said the real full name of T-Chain…and this happened to be an altar to Him. BOOM! I had an very, VERY, V E R Y unpleasant visit/vision/dream or whatever with T-Chain. Well, he kind of wanted me to serve and obey Him or something. I’m not really down with that and kind of…directive…so I told him off! T-Chain SACK! After almost dying (Death Saving Throws) from that decision I came back to reality with this strange upside down triangle mark on my body. Later in the day some of the growing insane population in Hochoch surrounded me and called ole Mazer here “Eyes that See” and “One of Us”. I guess that is my new T-Chain codename – Eyes that See. This was the spark where my life’s downward spiral began…OMG I can’t be screwed! (Denial & Disbelief musical interlude on the Lute…)

You see, I visited this Neheli chick…who was pretty hot and coincidentally recently just lost her husband. For a change ole Mazer here was NOT in pursuit or anything that I like typically do. I was just going to talk with her about her High Judge votes possibly supporting me, as she was also nominated and probably grieving so much and didn’t care. Well before I knew what hit me, she excused her servants, invited and pulled me upstairs for a rock ‘in rough good time. Her brief grieving period was over I guess. Mazer can roll with unexpected things and I was all in baby! Well, after we were done her mood drastically changed even faster than mine could and she stated that if I did not support HER for High Judge, she would accuse me of assaulting her. WHAAATTT!!? Henceforth she then became known to me as Crazy Neheli-sack. I told her off too…just like T-Chain . Everyone knows ole Mazer loves women, I don’t abuse anyone. Well that was her cue to grab a vase and smash it over her head, throw herself head first against the walls a couple times, and dropped hard to the floor bloody, bruised, and screaming for help. WTF!!? She IS a Crazy Neheli-sack! She also timed an afternoon lunch party with many guests perfectly, great. I cast invisibility on myself and high tailed it to the castle to warn my best Super Buddy and friend Prince Rhys! Jagr was there too…ahem. Well, word of her false accusations had already gotten to them and to appear all neutral and conflict of interest free like, Mazer here got a ticket to visit and reside in a castle dungeon cell…come on! There went my High Judge chances and a temporary hold on women, music, drinks, freedom, etc. The things I hold most dear. Since I want Prince Rhys to succeed here in Hochoch, I didn’t try busting out or anything. Even though Mazer don’t like jail cells. That’s when it started to get really creepy. I started having REALLY unpleasant visits from T-Chain at night haunting and consistently tormenting me, felt a cold presence nearby and saw a figures standing in the dark corners of the room watching me, sharp stabbing pains in my head, crazy hallucinations & thoughts, etc. Well let’s just say that when one is crazy and nuts…the passage of time gets a bit blurry and confusing. (Chaotic hallucinations & Terror musical interlude on the Lute…)

Well, I don’t remember much in these troubling crazy times. I think various people came into see ole Mazer in the dungeon…unfortunately I acted all weird. I remember Ben slapping me with a branch many times, a hot naked woman with toys, my cool new buddy Advocate Mr. Darrow, Morrik was there a bunch, rolling dice, Minister Alena danced all seductively for me on a shiny golden pole that appeared in my cell huh…didn’t think she did that type of stuff but yeah…lost track of reality there. I kind of remember my trial and being found innocent of course. Thanks High Judge! She’s hot too! Throwing a celebration party and then an unpleasant visit from someone called Claws that Rip just when I was about to get back in the game with an adoring female fan at the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall. After Claws that Rip beat, clawed, and scraped me up badly my friends found me eating dirt form a potted plant. Yeah, that’s my new thing. I LOVE dirt! Can’t get enough of it! Ole Mazer here likes digging, eating, and covering myself with dirt. Real fun! For some reason it makes me feel better and helps hide me from T-Chain’s gaze and avoids most of his unpleasant visits. I remember feeling compelled to slip away and dig a lot at night somewhere, removing stone from around that long black stone-like obelisk thing I think. I then figured the dirt combined with my Ring of Mind Shielding and a loaner Ring of Protection from Evil started to block most of the really bad effects of my craziness. Almost back to normal baby! That’s when my SO-CALLED FRIENDS didn’t like me slipping away at night, doing nothing illegal I might add, and thought it best to lock ole Mazer up in a dark windowless room in the castle chained to a bed without any of my special items that were protecting me from T-Chain!!!! Yeah…that’s gonna hurt!!! (Betrayed By Friends and Taking It Up the @$$ musical interlude on the Lute…)

Now I really lost it! Don’t know who’s smart-@$$ idea that was but thanks a bunch man! T-Chain really had a great time messing me up this way and that way as he gave extra special attention to ole Mazer since I was eluding him previously! There may be permanent psychological damage from the torture I repeatedly got to experience. A bunch of screaming in agony too. I think I saw Dandelion at some point locked in the room with me but wasn’t sure. That’s when my new buddies came in to break me out. Ears that Hear (T-Chain codename) and this cool Water Girl with a bucket had my back. They even gave me back my confiscated stuff too! THAT’S what friends do! WARNING: I have been asking who’s bright idea this was, to lock up Mazer and take my stuff. No one has admitted to it as of yet but someone is going have a REAL PROBLEM when I find out. (Eyes that See is Looking for Y O U musical interlude on the Lute…)

Well, I must of went to dig stone again with Ears that Hear and Water Girl…I don’t remember much. The next morning I ended up at some tavern drinking trying to calm my nerves. My magic items must have started to attune and kick in because I started to feel better. That’s when Aurora, Ben, and Xilvyre found me. I was still a bit messed up and I could tell that they were treating and talking to me gently. None of them admitted to being responsible for resealing me up in a locked room chained to a bed. They just wanted to see where I was going every night, I told them all the action, “the show”, happens at night but they insisted to go during the daytime hours when it was less busy and to get the best seats for this “show”. Okay, let’s do it! I lead the group down to the Boar’s Knuckle tavern area to one of the houses near the tavern in the Commons District. A fellow marked individual, hey…I am Eyes that See so I can tell, let us in and we proceeded down through a trap door into some tunnels. As we walked under some big beams with inscriptions. I pointed up to it as we passed so the rest could take notice, read it aloud, and “buy the ticket” to enter but I kept on going. So crazy people are not very good engineers and the scaffolding ramps leading down are pretty dangerous and barely holding together. I kept on walking down, down, down as the others followed. Some of those demon shadow guys came out to attack Aurora, Ben, and Xilvyre as they must NOT have bought the ticket at the inscription when I pointed. I could hear them fighting…once in a while I launched a magic missile volley to help them out. Other times I played my lute and sang quite wonderfully. You know, whatever. Then I heard it!!! A cool song being sung by all females of course! It was called “The Celebration of Mazer”! It went:

“Maa-zer… Maaaaazer….Eyes that See! Ears that Hear, Mouth that Talks, Claws that Rip, Hands that Craft, Arms that Lift, Feet that Walk, Legs that Kick, All form the Body to Diiie For! Wispy Air of Thought and Whimsy, Flowing Water…the Lifeblood, Burning Fire of Desire, All Built on the Foundation of Rock and Earth!”

Being an expert musician I adlibbed some quite excellent lute music accompaniment to the song and sang along with all the Women! Well these demon shadows didn’t touch me at all so I kept going down the ramp while singing playing my lute! Aurora, Ben, and Xilvyre must have handled the first group of monsters just fine. Then some big flying brain like octopus things with beaks started floating at us…well floating at them. They left me alone too. The Signing Mazorites (thanks to Aurora for that great term) with Ears that Hear started lowering themselves down the pit with ropes. Half naked women on ropes…what a sight and sooo cool! Aurora, Ben, and Xilvyre were more concerned with the flying brain-sacks and a few fireballs shot out from Xilvyre. No buildings to destroy down here right Xilvyre? Well fire BAD for flying brain-sacks. Fire also BAD for barely holding together and poor rickety wood scaffolding. Yeah, lit up pretty good Xilvyre, again! It was all pretty hectic. We got down to the bottom, the flying brain-sacks were dead, there happened to be some really life like stone statues down here…huh, and bunch of smaller tunnels. So ole Mazer did what anyone would do in this situation…I grabbed a shovel, a bucket, put on my helmet – safety first you know, and dug out some stone…hard brain matter…whatever from around the obelisk! Some really weird mouth-pudding-mound like things came out from one of the tunnels. Well by that time, the Signing Mazorites touched down and started helping us and shewed the mouth-pudding-mounds back in their tunnel. We were all signing having a great time when the all-woman mob tried forcing Aurora, Ben, and Xilvyre to touch the obelisk via grappling them. Aurora popped away (Misty Step) up to some scaffolding above everyone. Ben resisted but they made Xilvyre touch it but nothing seemed to happened. I was surrounded by scantily clad to naked women singing away. What could be better! Well Xilvyre didn’t like that touch on the obelisk very much and let another fireball out and shaped it around her friendlies. A majority of the Signing Mazorites died, some were still standing along with Ears that Hear. (Xilvyre II, Everything is Burning Again AND She Killed My Song musical interlude on the Lute…)

The wooden scaffolding was being eaten by fire and working its way up the pit. We were at the bottom and even a bit crazy Mazer could tell everyone wanted out. I twinned my fly spell and Aurora, Ben, Xilvyre, and I flew up to the tunnels we entered from. <cough,> Lots of smoke too! I couldn’t let the remaining Signing Mazorites be trapped down there with a fire going so flew back down and carried each surviving woman out including Ears that Hear, my rescuer from my castle locked room. What I guy I am! After that I met back up with my buds and we went to get Dandelion out of that dark locked room (I guess he really was there with me) and traveled to Thorndyke where an obelisk was reported recently removed. The bottom of it was pointed shaped as we examined the hole in the ground where it once stood. We also made arrangements to meet Minister Alena! To see what she could be with Dandelion & I. She examined us, cast some spells on us too. I was waiting for the shiny golden pole to re-materialize so she could dance for me again…but that might have been a crazy hallucination. Darn. Good news though…D was cured! Bad news…I was kind-of sort-of but not really. The T-Chain mark was still present on me. Now, after Minister Alena’s spells with just the ring of mind shielding and some dirt I am able to hold off the desire to go dig and T-Chain can’t see me. Also…I saw something…disturbing…and I reported it to the group. Aurora said she will follow-up with that juicy one for sure. I’m still a tad jittery which is a big improvement but I’ll have to head back to Hochoch to return Gelwen’s Ring of Protection form Evil. (Going Back to Hochoch musical interlude on the Lute…)

Well my return into Hochoch was coincidentally great! I met up with some of my other adventuring buddies: Princess Jagr, Gelwen, D-Track, Dasut & his reformed thief boy Yahnny, G-Zo, Osirus, and the very tall Thia. Hey guys! I’m less crazy now! I returned Gelwen’s ring…thanks Babe! We were all walking through town catching up with each other when it got suddenly quiet. We noticed a large group of people headed our way from in front of us and behind! Yikes! That’s when we all heard it, another song to ole Mazer here but the slight hints in the lyrics made me think that this encounter was not going to go well. It started with stomping and clapping in unison and was called “We will, we will KILL YOU”! It went:

Thump Thump……Thump! Thump Thump……Thump! Thump Thump……Thump! Thump Thump……Thump!

“Mazer you’re a boy, make a big noise

Playin’ in the street, gonna be a big man someday

You got mud on yo’ face, you big disgrace

Kickin’ your can all over the place

Singin’

We will we will KILL you

We will we will KILL you

Mazer you’re a young man hard man

Shouting in the street gonna take on the world some day

You got blood on yo’ face, you big disgrace

Wavin’ your banner all over the place

Singin’

We will we will KILL YOU!

We will we will KILL YOU!”

Ummm yeah. I guess not so slight hints as to their intent after all…well then. What a great time to be with a very large selection of my closest and bestest friends! Guys!!? Well it didn’t take long for the large mob to close in on us and attack…attack Mazer that is! The mob left everyone else alone and focused on ME! Normally everything is focused on me but this type of focus I don’t like. THAT’S IT!!! I’m not adlibbing some excellent lute music accompaniment to this song! Well, my fellow sorcerer G-Zo did a really good job and harmlessly immobilized a good number of Mazer Killer-Sacks with Hypnotic Pattern. The remaining hundreds threw, shot, attacked ole Mazer here with everything they had including ALL the other T-Chain members with cool special codenames. My shield spell helped in deflecting most of the incoming damage but little by little started to wear me down. Initially our group tried non-lethal methods but soon realized that that was not an option because of the Mazer Killer-Sacks mob size. (Mazer will need a Medic Soon musical interlude on the Lute…)

Just then some creepy looking guy came over to watch the now ensuing mayhem in the streets of Hochoch. He was called Mezophilosis someone said. HE was playing some quite excelle…I mean very slightly average lute music accompaniment to this Kill Mazer song! HEY! Well he didn’t attack anyone on either side. Accompanying musicians would magically pop in next to him once in a while but they didn’t interfere. He did look quite happy with the spectacle before his eyes though. Jerk! You would need more band members to make you sound better! Well, I could see the writing on the wall and had to get off the street. I twinned a fly spell to Princess Jagr since she likes to ALWAYS be close to ole Mazer here…you know…for protection purposes only but I do see the way she looks at me all the time! We flew on the roof of a nearby building. Ha Ha! Can’t touch me! That’s when Fire that Burns hit Jagr & I with a fireball and set the roof on fire. I managed to quickly shout out to everyone in extreme pain but for the record “That was not Xilvyre this time!” Let’s just say in the ensuing battle, many fireballs were cast, arrows shot, melee attacks, and the normally sturdy Mazer here set a new adventuring record for the number of times being knocked unconscious during a single battle at FIVE frick’in times! I must give thanks to all of my fellow buddies that helped and healed to revive ole Mazer here, keeping me alive so I could be “Whack-a-Mole’d’ right back down! The group also started laying into my friends too. But, we started chipping away the Mazer Killer-Sacks I thought, when I was conscious. It was a long battle but eventually we were victorious! I look really messed up. Most the gang was fine but those who were not got professionally healed by others in our group. A few mob stragglers started to run but we wanted to finish this. Our trackers moved in and we followed the remaining Mazer Killer-Sacks to another building nearby that darn pit. (Mopping-Up the Mess musical interlude on the Lute…)

There were not many baddies left. Finished a bunch off in the house and the sole remaining member of the Mazer Killer-Sacks was Ears that Hear! We found her in a really cramp freshly dug tunnel. We took turns jumping in, shooting and getting out for the next party member. Ears that Hear must have had some kind of spell on that made it more difficult to attacker her. When it was ole Mazer’s turn I could see that she was either digging or burying something. I let a volley of Magic Missiles go and that’s all it took to finish her off. The Mazer Killer-Sacks were all dead. Since I was in the tunnel I went over to her and searched. Dasut was next in line so he jumped in to and found a larger item she had recently buried. Later it turned out to be some crazy cursed mirror thing that is slightly disturbing. Sorry Dasut, Mazer has had his fill of crazy and disturbing lately! Glad you found that. I found something very cool on Ears that Hear. I’ll have to tinker with it to see what in can do but yeah, nothing to see here, move along!

Over the next few days I’ll have to get into my normal routine again and repair any relationships my extreme craziness might have damaged. But hey, look at me. A perfect smile and a wink from me can repair almost anything. Granted, I do have that stupid T-Chain mark on me yet and must figure how to remove it. Also, my dirt thing is still with me. But all in all I’m feeling mostly back to normal…more or less. Keep an eye out for a Two Lutes for Love performance near you. My recent experiences, both crazy and semi-crazy, provided my with a vast depth of new material to inspire me musically. Wait until you see what my new found item can do! Sweet!!! My new…Precious! Now you are caught up. Later! Mazer

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Hochoch Street Blues 4 – Planting 618

I received a message from Caitlynn reborn, so Uaithne and I went to meet him/her. Other former friends of Caitlynn were there as well. After much discussion, Caitlynn agreed that she was called to take up Llewelyn’s mantle. Llewelyn will take on the task of trying to bring back the balance.

Llewelyn wants someone to help negotiate with Dagda, so I recommended Dandelion for the job.

Uaithne and I then returned to Hochoch.

In the morning of April 21st, CY 618, Alexina de Field, Captain of the Town Guard, sought out what heroes could be found for an important (and confidential) briefing, though word spreads through the Hochoch rumor mill anyway. The town guard patrol sent to shut down the known group of Incabulous worshippers had failed to report back in. Another patrol swept through the Low Quarter and outside the city walls in the Riverside district, but could find no sign of the primary patrol or witnesses to what happened. Alexina hoped that we could help find the missing patrol and shut down this illegal evil cult of Incabulous. Dandelion, Morrick, Kosef, Thia, Osiris, Tornado, Aoth, Evendur, Uaithne and I set out to follow what clues we could find. The priestess of Lydia Kerilin Horc and 4 accolytes, Iridni, Noli, Athania, and Ellinka came along to observe our search.

As we were entering the market district from the Hilltop district, we were approached by a distraught woman. She was Grella, the wife of Olwyn de Brie. Her husband was a teamster who did not come home after last night’s work. We promised to look into the situation.

We stopped by Olwyn’s Outfitters, the teamsters’ headquarters. The boss was concerned as well. The whole crew was missing. The teamsters were unloading a ship last night. A crew of six took 3 carts to make some deliveries and never returned. With some teamsters quitting to become guards and some teamsters missing, the union only has about 20 members left out of the original 50 from 3 months ago. One cart with a crew of two took a load to Lord Mundinguluss. The other four men and two carts had an order for Dantelchaig shipping to be delivered to Django’s Chicken House.

Since the gates are manned at night, we returned to the guard barracks to question the guards from the night shift. The three carts had come through the river gate, followed by the missing guard patrol. They had also passed through the low market gate. One cart continued through the old market gate while the other two carts and the guards passed through the west common market gate. We decided to follow the likely path of the two carts to Django’s Chicken House. We stopped at the Boar’s Other Knuckle and found witnesses who saw the 2 carts and the four guards pass. The guard from the company of giant slayers had been too drunk to see anything. We stopped at the newly rededicated temple to the Raven Queen. They knew that someone or some ones had died the previous evening. They also saw three very large hooded individuals and a dozen or so other hooded individuals ambush the guards and the teamsters. They were quickly defeated and taken in the back door of the chicken house.

We decided to see Judge Jia and get a warrant for Django’s Chicken House. She was visiting Lord Mundinguluss, who was concerned about a missing shipment of books. Dandelion assured her we would keep an eye out for the books. We quietly explained our findings and she wrote a warrant for Django’s Chicken House. She paled as she considered what the chicken house could be doing with the captives.

We went with our warrant and searched Django’s. Most of the Lydians stayed upstairs, but the acolyte Ellinka came with us to watch our investigation. Once downstairs, Aoth led us through some secret doors and heard chanting from down the winding passage. We found a chamber packed with chanting, diseased worshippers. Morrick recognized the symbols of Incabulous. A battle ensued and the cultists were quickly defeated. During the fight, they had released a small hoard of about 30 zombies. Anyone bitten by the zombies became a zombie shortly after death. One cultist had run into a side room, yelling for help. Soon two red salads, a nightmare with a broken horn and a woman later identified as a hag appeared in the hallway behind us. The Yellow Sails hags had said they had a third, maybe this is she. The nightmare cast a fireball, catching most of us in the blast. Uaithne and Ellinka were killed outright by the fireball and most of us were wounded. We did enough damage to the slaads that the group decided to disappear. Later we discovered they were terrorizing the common quarter.

We still had not found the missing guards and teamsters, so we kept looking. Through another door we found the cultist who had run with the guards and two teamsters. She was hysterical and kept saying Edith was holding the undead in check. She was terrified. Dandelion made a deal with her that she could go if she released the hostages. She did not get far when she was slain by Morrick’s spirit guardians, which resembled mugs and bottles of ale. We thought she was overreacting and just afraid of the 30 or so zombies we had dispatched with Aoth’s thorn growth and Morrick’s spirit guardians.

We continued to search the basement level. We found access to the sewers through a passage with a portcullis. We made sure to close that on the way back out. We also found Django and his goblin tribe. He had a subchief, about 50 warriors, about 100 females and about 200 young. We did not find the remaining teamsters or the three carts.

We returned to the streets with the bodies of Uaithne and Ellinka to find the chaos of the hag, nightmare and slaads. We later found out she had reason to be afraid. 500 to 600 undead came out of the river by the time we returned to the streets. The three ships in port were lost and a few of the people outside the gates. Most of those in the river district managed to reach the safety of the walls before the zombies reached them. The Lydians prayed together and summoned a unicorn, who defeated many of the zombies. Someone identified that the nightmare had been a unicorn with its horn removed, making it as powerful as the unicorn.

I am still in shock over the loss of Uaithne. I thought a simple patrol would be a good learning experience for him. Pookie regretted being brought back to life and so decided to let Yuldra remain dead. I think I must do the same for Uaithne.

You never got to leave my shadow
You never got to learn it all
You never got all your debates
I had to watch my hero fall

Slain by a nightmare unicorn
There goes my love Uaithne
Now with unicorns e’er to frolic
My heart has been broken in twain

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Hochoch Street Blues 3 – Coldeven 618

Apparently Bothan and Dandelion decided to lock Mazer up in the castle chained to a bed with no items. I had just sold him a ring of mind shielding, which should help him. Gelwen also lent him a ring of protection from evil and good. Why they had to remove the items, I don’t know. They would have helped a lot with the insanity. Dandelion apparently decided to detect thoughts on one of the insane, so he is now also insane and has joined Mazer in his prison. Dandelion did manage to make some deal with the devil Mezophilosis for knowledge. Mezophilosis is under the Prince’s protection. But he gave us knowledge that a primordial is under the Boar’s Knuckle and the insane are digging in his brain to remove the spike. It is believed the spike is keeping the primordial asleep. The primordial’s name is Stone Root. It is believed that T was already imprisoned when the primordial was put to sleep and the obelisk put in his head.

Someone found out that the Boar’s Knuckle was condemned about 30 years ago just after opening when the town was retaken from the giants and reformed by magic. Someone opened a portal to the Abyss in the tavern.

Aurora, Benton and I decided to visit Dandelion and Mazer in their cell. Mazer was missing and Dandelion told us he had been released by a blind woman and a water girl. Mazer’s things were also missing from the treasury. Ben examined Dandelion and found he did not have the mark, just regular insanity which would be curable by a greater restoration.

We went looking for Mazer. Ben used a locate object on Mazer’s goggles. We found many of the cultists looking for Mazer in the Market district and headed to the Low Quarter. We heard the names Mouth that Talks, Ears that Hear, Claws that Rip, Hands that Carve, Legs that Kick and Feet that Walk in addition to Eyes that See. Ben found Mazer in the Old Oak Tavern, drinking at the bar. He was covered in dirt and waiting for a party to start in the evening. Aurora convinced Mazer that we should go early, so Mazer led us to a house near the Boar’s Knuckle. A peasant woman covered in dirt let us in and showed us to the basement. We sent Uaithne back to the castle in case we did not come back. We then followed a tunnel to the obelisk. We passed a beam which said “Speak T… and enter”. We declined Mazer’s invitation to speak the name. We found mining equipment, mining hats and poorly made scaffolding down to the bottom of the obelisk. We also found 6 tunnels into the area which would carry 60 to 80 people each and allow hundreds in to dig. The top of the cavern was wood, we think the floor of the Boar’s Knuckle tavern.

We went down the scaffolding and were attacked by shadows and later grells. I used a fire ball to damage the grells which set the scaffolding on fire above us. We followed the scaffolding down about 180 feet to the bottom. The cultists have been digging out the primordial’s brain, which is causing pain to everyone connected. They have dug down about 15 feet, almost to the tip of the obelisk. The obelisk is supernaturally cold and made of black obsidian with purple veins.

We found 4 tunnels out of the bottom of the cavern. One had perfect statues of people around the opening. We suspect basilisks. Ben heard voices down another tunnel, so we investigated. We found gibbering mouthers and had to retreat and fight them off. The cultists found us while we were fighting the mouthers and herded them back into the tunnel. They then surrounded us and grabbed Ben and me. Aurora floated up above the fray and fought from above. I was forced to touch the obelisk, but did not say the name and fought off the effects. In desperation, I cast fireball to release us from the cultists. Mazer cast fly and we were able to escape. He then rescued many of the cultists. The two fireballs had set fire to the scaffolding. Smoke was billowing out of the Boar’s Knuckle and 7 other buildings. The other buildings included the one we had come through and were all about 100 feet away.

While Mazer was rescuing cultists, we investigated the nearby well G at Iowerth Square. The bottom seemed to be stone about 150 to 160 feet down. We did not find a tunnel or passage between the well and the obelisk.

Aurora spoke with the Prince and convinced him to condemn and burn the 7 houses with tunnels to the obelisk. We then convinced the Prince and the captain of the guard that Mazer and Dandelion should be released, given their possessions back and allowed to leave Hochoch. Uaithne rejoined us and we took Dandelion and Mazer on the Illustrious past Gorna to Thorndyke. Thorndyke had been mentioned in the letter to Kendra as a spot for another gem. We questioned the inhabitants and discovered a halfling woman had been asking for a gem or obelisk. We were told that the cloud giants had taken the obelisk. From the hole that remained, we could see that the missing obelisk also had a point on the bottom. Research revealed 333 gems of T, which are the key to releasing T. I believe that the obelisk is one of the gems, as are the standing stones which were the statue of the giant god Annam that were being collected by the cloud giants. Aurora believes that we need a pick from the Giant Wars to destroy the obelisks.

Mazer was having pain in his head while the digging was going on, but that has stopped for now. Both Dandelion and Mazer were seeing the same shadowy figure watching them, but it seemed to be confused by dirt. Alana was able to come out to Thorndyke and cure Dandelion’s insanity, but she could not help Mazer. I am glad Dandelion at least is better. Hopefully we can cure Mazer in time.

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Hochoch Street Blues – Coldeven 618

Mazer asked Princess Jagr, Dentrack, Dasut, Yahnny, G-zo, Osirus, Thia and I to accompany him down to the Boar’s Knuckle to finish cleaning it up. When we got close, we were greeted by about 100 of the cult of T singing a song to Mazer with the chorus of we will, we will kill you. Mazer identified several leaders among the cultists who had special names, including Fire that Burns and Ears that Hear. When the cultists finished the song, they advanced and surrounded us, but they only attacked Mazer. Mezophilosis, the Chained Devil came to watch the battle and played a tune. He gradually added band members for musical accompaniment, but he did not help or hinder either side. From what we could tell, Mezophilosis found the spectacle immensely entertaining.

The battle was long, but eventually we persevered. Mazer was the focus of the attacks to begin with, so he went down several times. Jagr and I healed him each time he went down and he fought on. G-zo cast a hypnotic pattern, which confused many of the cultists and kept them out of the fight. We wanted to do non-lethal damage, but soon realized that with their numbers we would not live to tell the tale. Fire that Burns showed us how she got the name when she cast a fire ball on Mazer and Jagr, also catching the building they were flying over on fire. Thia was knocked unconscious and two cultists were dragging her away when Dasut and Yahnny saved her. Osaris also was knocked unconscious before the battle ended. Most of the cultists were killed except Ears that Hear and some of commoners. Jagr tracked Ears that Hear to a nearby house, which we then entered. We found Ears that Hear in a tunnel frantically burying a mirror and a weapon. Dasut took the mirror and Mazer took the weapon. Hopefully with the cultists gone, the obelisk can stay buried and the insanity will stop.

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Chapter 8: Hide and Seek

I have to admit that I have lost track of the goings on in Hochoch over the last several weeks while working on a special project but it has come to my attention now that Mazer is acting even more strangely than usual. Ever since being marked by the Chained God he has been displaying alternating episodes of near normalcy punctuated by periods of abject terror and insanity. Following his release from prison on the charges of assaulting a noble, Mazer decided that he needed to celebrate and that is when the problems began. During one night of “celebration” he disappeared from the main area of the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall, an edifice dedicated to Myhiss. He was later found in one of the rooms, eating dirt and gnawing on a potted plant. He was babbling something about someone called “Claws-that-Cut” and an odd rhyme I have reproduced here to the best of my recollection.

“Walls have ears. Doors have eyes. Trees have voices. Beasts tell lies. Beware the rain. Beware the snow. Beware the man. You think you know.”

Apparently, the woman involved is someone he encountered before the High Judge election, something that is looking less like a coincidence and more like a pattern. Based on Mazer’s description of what he saw and heard, there is a shadow following him in his dreams and he believes that dirt provides some protection from it. I don’t really understand how that could be but he seems very convinced of it.

During the second incident, also at the Quivering Hills Companionship hall no less, Mazer developed a headache and disappeared into a back room with another of the Companionship Hall employees. Shortly thereafter, Mazer started acting strangely again and rubed dirt all over himself and started mumbling how he’s “gotta hide”. Benton asked for some cold water for Mazer which was brought by a small girl. The bucket she carried was branded “WG” which we later determined to be Well G, a well very near the Boar’s Knuckle, the apparent epicenter of the insanity plague gripping Hochoch. Having completely lost it, Mazer hid under a sheet with the girl and turned them both invisible before fleeing from the room. The next morning he was back in his room at the castle yet no one saw him come in. With each foray, he seems to lose a bit more of his sanity.

Eventually, the Prince and several of Mazer’s companions decided it was best if he be locked up and prevented from casting spells. The Guard Captain took this a bit far and decided to remove all of Mazer’s magical items, in the end this was a fateful decision because it seems that some of them were protecting him from the influence of the cultists. Just after finishing my special project, I decided to go and see Dandelion, who was now locked up with Mazer after scanning the mind of one of the insane cultists, and Mazer. I arrived to find a bit of a commotion and that Mazer was again gone. Dandelion’s description of one of those who came to get Mazer, though a bit confused by his own growing insanity, fit the description of the little girl with the water bucket. Clearly the “coincidence” theory was wearing a bit thin. Gathering up what few people were available, we decided to go and look for Mazer using his “Eyes that See”, better known as his detect magic goggles, as a focus for a locate object spell from Benton. Knowing the limits of the spell we headed for the center of town to maximize coverage of the spell.

On the way we encountered a group of what I will now call cultists headed toward the Low Quarter. Hopefully this is not a sign of the “plague” spreading. Using Benton’s spell we were able to track down Mazer who was “hiding”, if you could call it that, in the Old Oak Tavern. He apparently was taking a break from being completely insane and was fairly lucid. He invited us to a “Special Party” later in the evening but we decided it would be best to get there early “to get the best seats” and he reluctantly agreed. Just to be safe, I gave him a potted plant to play with and he covered himself with dirt. As a precaution, and hoping it really did have some sort of protective effect (or at least some value as a disguise), we covered ourselves with dirt as well. The four of us set out for The Commons. Mazer lead us to a house, not surprisingly I guess, near The Boar’s Knuckle, Well G, and the monument of “Rhys’ Treatment of the Masses”, something I doubt is a coincidence. We descended into the cellar of the house, after meeting one of Mazer’s “friends” at the door, and into tunnels beneath it. The tunnels were of relatively fresh construction and we soon came to a beam that apparently supported part of the tunnel ceiling. On it were directions to “Speak T…. and Enter”. I have deliberately left out the name of the deity involved so as not to end up like Mazer. I suspect that this is one of the ways they are increasing their numbers. Perhaps this phrase “marks” the person with the Chained God’s mark. Benton cast a silence spell before we passed through and we all said something I assume was not the pass phrase. It was a nice idea to prevent us from using the Chained God’s true name, but in the end, it provided no protection against what was inside.

We came to a rather rickety scaffolding that descended into the depths around a dark obelisk of the Chained God. The scaffolding was poorly constructed and apparently unstable. Mazer led us downward but as we passed one of the side passages, a creature of shadow sprang out and attacked Xilvre. A split second before it launched it’s attack, she was alerted to it’s presence by my magic and avoided being struck from surprise. The creatures were only partially there and we had to resort to force and radiant based damage to combat them. We were able to cause one to dissipate and severely damage the other before it fled. I shall have to see if I can identify what these creatures were since I doubt we have seen the last of them. Further along, we encountered three more of the chasm’s guardians. Creatures called Grell, if I remember correctly what was said after the fight. They attacked from above which would have given them significant advantage but once again we knew they were coming and were able to strike them with a fireball before they could close to attack. One of them was severely weakened and an arrow of frost from me slowed it enough that it could not get to Benton before it was dispatched. Xilvre was not so lucky and was struck by one. I was attacked as well but able to deflect the damage with magic, it seems that my magical powers are growing stronger. As with the shadowy creatures, Mazer unleashed his spells against them and we were able to take them down with a little extra effort.

Reaching the bottom, we found a mining site around the base of the obelisk. The materials chillingly resembled a skull and what appeared to be brain tissue although made of a stony material. The question is, what is causing the pain to this buried primordial, the spike or the digging around it. We would later find out that in fact it was the attempts to remove the spike that were causing the pain which we surmised is related to the spread of insanity above. Four low ceilinged tunnels led off from this chamber with one of them being surrounded by a group of almost perfect stone statues, much like those we had encountered around the Neheli monument on the surface. We decided to check out one of the passages, not wanting to become permanent residents we avoided the one by the statues, and Xilvre led the way, a bit surprising but in this case may have been for the best. While crawling through the tunnel she suddenly stopped and a cacophony of mumbled voiced started to become discernible over the background noise. Magic washed over most of the party and Xilvre was paralyzed. After we pulled her free from the tunnel we found what was the source of these voices. Ooze-like creatures covered with eyes and mouths, something I later found out are called Gibbering Mouthers, crawled from the tunnel and began their attack. We were able to take one down before it exited the cavern but the three behind it swarmed on. Xilvre ran off in a random direction and Benton took the brunt of their attacks, going down in the process. Mazer called to his “allies”, who I will call Mazerites for now, for aid and I decided that keeping the fight on the ground level was not to my advantage. Using magic, I teleported 20 feet up to one of the scaffolds near the tunnel entrance and used a firebolt to attack the creatures. The Mazerites seemed to have some influence over the creatures which allowed me to heal Benton from a distance and he was able to heal himself as well while Mazer’s friends corralled the remaining creatures. They did not attack either Mazer or the other cultists. Presumably, the mark of the Chained God marked them as allies.

It was then that the Mazerites turned on us, well on everyone but Mazer that is. They tried to force Benton and Xilvre into contact with the obelisk. Benton avoided contact with it but Xilvre was not so lucky. There were no immediate effects that I could see but long term effects may take a while to manifest. It was at this time that I became acquainted with “Ears that Hear”. The “blind” priestess tried to use magic to compel me to touch the obelisk, but half-elves are quite resistant to such feeble magics. As a reward for her attack, I gave her a taste of my own magic in the form of magical missiles. She seemed to get the message and tried to cloak herself from further assault to no result. An arrow from my bow convinced her that standing out in the open taking me on was not in her best interest. It seemed the fire from the fireball above was burning too slowly so I started a second flashpoint with a flaming arrow. The scaffolding was now quickly becoming engulfed in flames and it would only be a matter of time before the entire cavern was filled with smoke and it was time to leave. Mazer provided that line of escape with several fly spells. Of the two dozen or so cultists that had accosted us at the bottom of the cavern, only a handful escaped with the help of Mazer. While not fully under their thrall he does seem connected to them in some way. We decided it was best not to push the situation any further and went to check out Well G while Mazer continued to “rescue” the surviving cultists.

For all intents and purposes, Well G seems to be a rather normal well but its connection to Mazer’s escapes is a concern. Although we did not see anything when we dropped a light spell down to the bottom of the well, there is something fishy about its proximity to the Boar’s Knuckle, the Obelisk of the Chained God, and the strange little girl that has “spirited away” Mazer on two occasions. Perhaps it is time to take Mazer away from here and see if there is an effect as Dandelion has suggested. Looking back towards the Boar’s Knuckle we noticed smoke billowing out of seven other buildings in addition to the Boar’s Knuckle indicating additional entry points into the Obelisk Cavern. We headed back to the castle to inform the Prince of our findings.

After telling the Prince what we found I was able to convince him to return Dandelion’s magical items, including his ring of mind shielding which we suspect has some protective effect against his nightmares. I was also able to convince the Prince that condemning the buildings and burning them down would slow the progress of removing the obelisk from the primordial’s brain until a more permanent solution can be made. I did have to promise him that my father would reimburse him for the cost of buying the buildings and burning them down. The cultists will of course start new tunnels soon but I hope that the destruction of those properties and entrances will be a sufficient setback to allow some of the others to permanently end those operations. I decided that we needed to follow up on one of the clues we had about a “gem of the Chained God” being “hidden out in the open” in Thorndyke and thought this would be a good way to get Dandelion and Mazer out of Hochoch to see if Dandelion’s theory about distance was correct. I was not ready to take either of them to Gorna due to uncertainties about their conditions. In any case, I would be able to keep an eye on both of them for the time being.

We took the Illustrious upriver to Thorndyke and after talking with several of the locals, determined that the obelisk in Thorndyke, that was taken by the Cloud Giants, was another Obelisk of the Chained God. The obelisk was apparently one of the fingers of the Cloud Giant Statue of Annam. It also turns out that the magic reflecting obelisks used by the giants in the Giant War are additional Obelisks of the Chained God, which would explain their strange properties. At least two of them have been destroyed, and maybe more, I’ll have to look into this further. Perhaps we need to seek out the last Gnomish Pick again to destroy the obelisks. Last I heard it was back in Deward, not a friendly place to visit at all with its own form of insanity. Could the obelisks be the gems spoken of in the ancient histories or are they something completely different. Collecting 333 of these obelisks would seem to be a daunting task. Perhaps not all of them are needed to free the Chained God. Which brings to mind the question, if the giants were to reassemble the Statue of Annam from the Obelisks of the Chained God, could that be in any way positive for Gyruff?

Since we were going to stay in Thorndyke for a while following up on other leads, we decided to ask if Alena could come out from Gorna to cure Dandelion’s insanity. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done for Mazer at this time. The ring of protection from evil seems to have isolated him from the corrupting influence of the cult in Hochoch and the mindshielding ring seems to have calmed his nerves a bit, though he still sees this shadow following him and has an urge to cover himself with dirt from time to time. Unfortunately, Dandelion’s theory about distance being protective has turned out not to be true. Mazer can still feel the pull of the cult, though the rings blunt much of the effects, even though we are days from Hochoch. Mazer did mention that he saw something odd, which I will not detail at this time due to the implications, but I think it is time to send my father a coded message about what I have found out. If it is true, it is bad news for Gyruff.

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Excerpts Bothan Rodric the dwarf's Journal #7 continued

I almost forgot, when speaking to the drunken, insane person at the residence, Dandelion tried to detect his thoughts. In doing so he has become insane himself. This is the reason that I no longer have to worry about filing a complaint nor what his original intentions were. We put him in with Mazer. That way the Two lutes for Love can stay intact and offer each other what little comfort they can derive.

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