We started off into the Goblin Wastes. It did not start auspiciously; it took three people to keep us on the path and away from the gargantuan horrors. But we did manage to stumble across the remains of a road, in very unhealthy looking territory. What little growth was there looked rather stunted and mutated.
We’d been there some little while when Miaako and I heard a noise like stone grinding against stone ahead. Probably some sort of animate stone creature. As we crested the hill, we saw three blood red crystal entities. Kallistra seemed to think they were standing guard. That was about the time Miaako saw what he described as a maniac brandishing a large chunk of stone. While we were looking at him, another burst out from the other side and jumped on Kallistra.
That went about as badly as expected.
Miaako caught the next swing. Which will just not do. Kallistra can handle herself, but Miaako has fragile little bird bones. So I shoved a Magic Missile down the maniac’s throat. Ceor seemed to be of a similar mind, and shoved his lance somewhere highly unpleasant.
Kallistra took another hit, as did Miaako, which really looked painful.
How fortunate, then that I had just managed to master the Haste spell. Not that it really helped Miaako much. Fortunately, we had an enraged Ceor on an equally enraged Anusk.
Somehow, the maniac that was still on his feet didn’t explode. Though he didn’t particularly notice when Kallistra dropped a flaming hammer on his head. While Reeshka saw to important things like healing the meat shields, Miaako seemed to be rifling through the unconscious maniac’s few possessions. Ceor turned the remaining maniac into a damp splat.
Naturally, of course, the crystalline entities were advancing as well.
Kallistra was doing a little better, and then one sprayed razor sharp crystal shards everywhere. Which really wouldn’t do either.
And I had just picked up Fireball, too. What a wonderful opportunity to test it.
I didn’t kill them, but I really don’t think they were very happy with me. Miaako certainly wasn’t happy with them. He shoved his weapon into a fault in one of the creatures and wrenched it apart to interesting effect. Ceor did much the same thing, at a passing gallop, and damn near lost his lance for the trouble. That was about the time that the remaining crystal entity pulled the shard trick again, and everyone who was not sensibly far away (read me and my horse) took them straight to the face.
I lit it on fire, Reeshka fixed the massive trauma, and Ceor shattered it, and this time he did lose his grip on the lance. But that was the last one, so it was really okay. Not that we’ll ever convince Ceor of it. The crystal things were probably extraplanar, but there was no telling if they’d been summoned for a purpose or if they just slipped through due to the unstable nature of the area. The stone greatclubs the maniacs had been using looked a little magical, but it was a low grade enchantment, not worth salvaging. We continued on our way, in more or less the correct direction.
The sun seemed to have been in the same direction for quite some time… I don’t think we’re that far north, but it’s that fucked up here.
We reached an area of rolling sand dunes, which was just incredibly pleasant. However, we did finally find what looked like the ruins of a decently sized city or town, made of sandstone with some sort of keep, which was completely caved in. Even for this place, it was eerily still. It seemed relatively close to the ruins of the kingdom we were searching for. The road lead there anyway.
There were some ancient, nearly disintegrating metal and wood in the middle of the arch of the gate. Reeshka said that it looked like something large had wrenched the gate apart. Kallistra indicated that nearly every single stone that remained in the city was faintly magical.
Miaako heard what sounded like four or five creatures moving around, somewhere nearby. This will end well.
Kallistra seemed to think that the town was the result of some thousands of small spells layered on top of each other. We decided to look and see if there was anything worth taking away with us.
That was about the time that the world went black.
That only lasted a moment, but when it went away, the town was intact and full of people. Ceor saw the same thing; and we both heard something thunder. We looked, naturally. We shouldn’t have.
An army poured over the hills, accompanied by some awful monstrosity bigger than the keep…
The vision only lasted a moment, before things went back to normal. I suspect that we shared a past life at some time, and that was a memory of that past life…
Miaako said the idea was kind of creepy. I agree.
We could hear the footsteps of what sounded like a small group, so we tried to be quiet as possible. As we progressed into the city, signs of damage increased; scorch marks and other signs of fire, other signs of violence. The arch of the gate of the keep was still intact, but the doors were hanging where they’d broken. The upper floors had largely crumbled, and there were heaps of rubble everywhere. There was a series of small trails through the rubble, that had been made recently enough that there was no dust in them. Miaako agreed, and added that he thought there were about five creatures, one a quadruped about the size of a horse.
We followed the tracks, and Reeshka and Kallistra heard what sounded like some sort of songbird. No logical reason for it, of course, but there it was. Anusk didn’t want to go inside. Neither did the mule. There were traces of magic sort of drifting downwards; it suggested something was consuming magic down there.
Ceor went through first, to find a dusty corridor, four sets of human-sized footprints, and whatever the animal was it had paws. There was a caved in banquet hall, and a set of stairs downward that we found after about an hour and a half. The prints indicated the unknown party did much the same, wandering around before going down the stairs. They hadn’t come up yet, but there was no dust in the prints.
We went down about four flights… this place was deep.
At the bottom, we found a corpse, which showed signs of dying of poison. Kallistra took steps to ensure it wouldn’t rise again, and I can’t argue with that. After a few minutes of searching, it looked like there was a pressure plate at the base of the stairs. So far, it looked like another adventuring party had come down, one triggered the trap, and the others just left him.
The pawprints were bothering me, so I examined them a little more. They showed signs of burnmarks… and resembled That Fucking Thing. Only far bigger than I ever remembered it being.
I’m convinced now that at least two of the members of this other party are That Fucking Asshole and That Fucking Bitch. Especially since Miaako found a contract naming the bearer as an agent of Bloodstone, and a bank note from the Dwarven Cantons of Winterheim.
Kallistra cast light on a rock to toss it down the hallway, revealing a corridor lined with doors, and a set of doors at the end of the hall. Miaako went first to check for any more traps that hadn’t been triggered; the doors seemed to be jail cells, though they were all ajar, and there was a cross passage. A few of the cells held skeletons, that had been there a long time. Fortunately inert.
We elected to go right, largely at random. There was three more cross passages and a set of stairs. Miaako insisted that the first step was a trap; I wasn’t, but there was no point in arguing. The traces of magic continued down; once the other group found the steps, they made straight for it. So whatever’s down there, they came to get it. On the one hand, I’m positive this is a terrible idea. On the other, I’m positive I don’t want them to have whatever it is.
So down we go, then.
Miaako poked his beak through a door on a mid level, finding a long cold foundry with nothing left but rust. Not at all useful, really. We went down about ten more floors. There was a door at the bottom that had been barred once, but the bars had been wrenched apart. Probably by a spell. That was about the time that we heard that bird chirping again, all the way down here. Reeshka thought it sounded like a thrush, but it doesn’t even seem to be pausing for breath. There are several possibilities about that, none really pleasant.
Which is not at all comforting. I was able to get a glimspe of a bluish purple glow just past the door, but it didn’t seem to be any sort of flame. I can guess it’s an arcane effect, but more than that will require me to get closer.
Reeshka just went ahead, so we followed. The blue glow was coming from another set of doors, that opened into a large chamber. In the center was a clear tube, with a large shard of glass or crystal, that was producing the glow. Also apparently the bird sounds.
And of course, Those FUCKING BASTARDS. AND THAT FUCKING THING.
Fortunately, at least three of them… including that bitch… were close enough I could hit them with a fireball. Kallistra and I elected to stay here, and Ceor, Reeshka, and Miaako are going to make their way around to doors on the opposite side of the chamber.
One way or another, this will end badly for someone.