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Journals of Therod Karynson - Part II of II

Nightsun 18th through Tarmare 3rd, 12881

After escaping from the dungeon, I found Urdan waiting around near the entrance that we had found, apparently still yearning to go below and kill more things. Armand and Gorn had left, leaving the promise of returning after getting more supplies. They had headed off for Wereskalot, taking with them the large magical golden key that they had found below.
    I decided to head off to find them (convinced that they had left Urdan behind). I promised to return and rejoin Urdan, who was staying behind to guard the entrance and our cabin. Discarding the heavy chain, I set off to try and catch Gorn and Armand.
    I quickly made my way to Wereskalot, paying off the suspicious guards at the north gate. I searched around, but could not find any trace of Gorn or Armand. I took care of items such as re-equipping myself, and purchasing some new armor to replace the scrapped piece I had left behind underground.
    I also tracked down a practitioner of minor magic (hard to find in Wereskalot), to help me try and figure out the nature of some the items I had found while down in the underground crypt. I started off with what I thought would be a modest request, wanting simply to know which, if any, of the items I had found were magical. I trongly suspected that the sword was, but I thought there might be others. My prior knowledge about the sword would also let me know whether or not the man was telling the truth.
    Not so simple a request after all! The man, who went by the name of Dorand, wanted to 100 gold pieces to simple tell me which of my items were magical. He wouldn't even tell me any detailed properties of the items. I hesitated to even think about how much that service would cost. I haggled with Dorand for a while (since I didn't really have that much spare money), but he wouldn't budge on his price. I told him I might come back later.
    Fortunately, I had more money than I thought. Among the possessions I had found on the corpses in that small secret room were some gems. I asked discreetly about, trying to find the name of a reputable jeweler where I might sell these things. I certainly had no idea how much they were worth.
    I was given the name Tarman, an appraiser in the employ of a Sir Garos. This man was supposed to be reputable, and did some work on the side for extra money. I took him the gems, and he told me that two of them were worth 200 gold pieces, one worth 50, and the last worth only 25 because of a small crack. I was now rich! I decided to keep one of the ones worth 200, since it was smaller, lighter, and more easily concealed.
    A couple of days later, while searching still for Gorn and Armand near the east gate, I chanced upon the weary and travel-stained forms coming into an inn. I found that they had been lost in the woods for the last several days. They were quite surprised to find me still alive. After they had rested for a day, they told me of the events after I had accidentally left the rest of the group.
    They had run into a group of small green scaled humanoids who had attacked, and then retreated, but Urdan's goading had prompted them to attack again. After defeating them a second time, with Gorn falling unconscious, they had discovered a bronze lever encased within a crystal. Urdan broke Gorn bastard sword trying to break the crystal, without even marring the crystal itself. We all agreed that Urdan's behavior was unacceptable, as he was endangering us as well as himself (besides just being a b---d).
    Armand showed my the key which they had found, after pulling the lever. They had removed the crystal by touching the crystal with a metal torch that they had found when Armand had fallen down a concealed pit. The key has about 10 inches long, made of solid gold, and had gems set within it. They had thought to sell it, but I thought that perhaps whatever lay behind the lock for this key must be even valuable, so we took the key with us to see if it was magical in nature.
    Finally relenting we took the key to Dorand. we found that the key was indeed magical in nature. I also found that the sword which had proven so useful against the shadow was indeed magical, with both offensive and protective capabilities. The flower-entwined silver ring was magical also, and also the pendant (powerfully so), although he could not give me any hints about the nature of the nature of the enchantments upon them.
    We then rested for a while, since Gorn was still injured after his fight with the kobolds, so it was nearly a week before we set out again to enter into the dungeon. We didn't know if Urdan was still there, but we all secretly hoped that he had just conveniently disappeared.
    Upon returning to the cabin we had fashioned, we found no trace of Urdan. Unfortunately, there was another of the lion-like beasts lying in wait for us, apparently the mate of the one we had slew. It pinned us in our cabin, staving in its sides. I managed to sneak away from it while it was busy pawing at Gorn and Armand within the cabin. The gods smiled on me that day, as my arrows sped straight and true striking the great beast thrice in the throat, stopping it at my feet as it was charging me.
    Feeling sure that this beast must have come from the lair that Armand and I had found earlier, we set off to see what treasures might have collected in such a nest - possessions of earlier unfortunate travelers.
    At the mound we found the body of another of the beasts - this one clearly a juvenile. It had been hacked up severely by what looked to be axe marks. Creeping up to the mound, I heard the sound of voices from the other side. There were two voices, one indistinct, but the other unmistakably Urdan's.
    I reported this fact back to Gorn and Armand, but we decided to greet them and claim our share of the treasure, since we had killed the largest beast.
    When we met them, Urdan introduced his companion as Halat-shar, his "friend". I don't believe that I had ever heard him use that word before, and would have bet that didn't know the word. The fellow claimed to be a priest of Arden, although we wielded a short sword at his side, and had been traveling alone in the wilds. His manner also seemed pretty condescending, so all three of us took an instant dislike to him. They seemed to be trying to get into some sort of magically sealed door that sat in the mound that had been the lion-beast's lair, so we decided to take our leave and journey separately.
    We left and made a camp a mile or so distant, with plans to sneak back and loot the top of the mound in the dark. Armand and I moved silently through the night, and he climbed the hill in utter silence, returning with a few items of treasure. Most curious of these was a large, heavy rock, perfectly spherical and very smooth. We also found a suit of plated chain armor, very finely done, with writing open its chest plate. With the armor was an open face helm with small hooks set near the mouth, and figures of mermen inscribed on the sides. There was also a small lacquered scrollcase with a small lock set in the side. A few coins also made their way into our hands that day - 18 gold, a single iridescent platinum, a pair of large gold crowns, and 57 silvers.
    Gorn donned the very nice mail, since he was really the only one strong enough to wear it, while I took the helmet.
    Upon returning to the clearing the next day, we found a few of the undead corpse-like things roaming around. We quickly dispatched them by luring them to us, and then killing them with missile fire while we sat up in a tree.
    We then returned down into the crypt, planning to find whatever the key would give us and then leave this place. I showed them some of the parts I had seen, and we tried to get into the place where I thought the scaly humanoids must have come from, but we could not budge the large stone.
    We decided to then descend into the well that sat in front of one of the crystal-encased levers. Well, Armand and I decided to go down. Gorn wouldn't go, apparently having a fear of water.
    Armand and I descended about 50 or 60 feet down, and found that at the bottom there lay about 2 feet of water, as well as a passage leading northward. We went down the passage, avoiding a pit concealed under the black water, and found a large door.
    Recognizing the key-hole set in the door, Armand fitted the golden key we had found to it, and the door glowed brightly and hotly, and then opened.
    In the room beyond we found two pillars of water shooting up towards the ceiling above, yet not coming back down. There was also some sort of balance mechanism, as well as a set of 8 stones. There was also an obviously special place for one of the stones to fit, so we figured that one of the stones must be special. They all seemed the same to us, so we figured that we must have to use the balance to decide which was different. After a few weighings, we found the one that was a bit heavier, and placed it in the place reserved for it. The pillars of water receded, and the water level rose to about four feet high.
    Nothing else really seemed to have happened, so, disappointed, we started to head out. I was thinking that perhaps we were underneath the one room I had seen earlier, the one with the running water and the thing that had grabbed my torch, when suddenly \emph{I} was grabbed by something. There seemed to be nothing there, but a shape made out of water had grabbed me and sucked me under the water. Armand struck at it while I struggled to finally free myself. Finally the thing withdrew, leaving Armand and I alone.
    Wounded, it seemed to be sitting under the water, regathering itself. We decided to flee while we could, not sure that we could kill this thing made of water. Nearly at the ladder leading up the well, Armand was grabbed and sucked under, plunging us into darkness (since he was carrying the lantern). I could also hear Gorn's cries from above.
    I wrestled Armand away from the watery thing's embrace, and pulled him up the ladder. Small faces were visible peering down at me from the edge of the well. Desperate and weary, I threw Armand's body out of the well and tried to fling myself upon our attackers, only to be netted down and clubbed unconscious.
    The three of us, Gorn, Armand, and myself awoke to find ourselves held within a wooden cage. To make matters worse, our cage was suspended about fifty feet above a hard, rocky cavern floor. A careful examination of the cavern about us revealed the following:
    This was evidently the main kobold lair. There were about a dozen guards, one large tunnel exit, and several smaller ones. There was also a large pit in one corner. Many kobolds were working industriously at some unknown task.
    Our cage was suspended from above by a large rope, which after snaking up to the ceiling from our cage, traveled along the ceiling, then down a wall to where it was tied off near the ground. The rope was kept in place via several lengths of chain attached to the rocky wall and ceiling.
    At first we supposed that they must want something with us, since they had not killed us right off. We tried to make what meager and pathetic plans as we could, however. They were sad indeed, seeing as we had no supplies or weapons.
    After a little while, smoke began to arise from the pit in the corner. All of the kobolds turned their attention in that direction, as from the pit issued the body of a beautiful, if very pale woman. She was naked to boot. But then we saw the lower half of her body and that put us off quite a bit, as her lower half was a large snake. That combined with her glowing red eyes that she fastened upon us left us little doubt as to our eventual fate.
    So our attention turned to our desperate plan. We managed to pry loose some of the boards holding our cage together, as there were only pins holding the boards in place. Armand then shinnied up the rope, and made his way along it, thankfully not falling. Meanwhile I got on top of the cage, having armed myself with a plank as a rude weapon. My hope was that I would be more clear after the rope was cut, and that the breaking of the cage would break my fall somewhat.
    Armand made his way over to where the rope was tied, all without being noticed. I was quite impressed. The guard started to turn, but Armand quickly looped the rope (holding the cage) around the guard's neck, and then let it go. The body was jerked upwards (which had to hurt!), at the same time breaking our fall even more.
    Our cage plummeted, breaking upon the stony floor below. Even with all of precautions, it was still a bad fall, but one I was able to walk away from, thankfully.
    I had earlier spied out the wretched creature that was using my short sword, the enchanted one I had defeated the shadow creature with. I made for him with murder in my eye, determined to retrieve my sword. I let loose a murderous swing, right at the creature's head.
    To my surprise, and apparently the creature's too, the sword seemed to move of its own volition, blocking my strike, and severing my plank off short. My own sword used against me. Having lost my chance to brain it quickly, it took me several minutes of struggle to wrestle my sword away from it and put an end to its pitiful life.
    I looked up to see my friends being swarmed by the kobold guards, and the rest of the creatures starting to boil forth from the smaller cave entrances. I decided to flee, and try and return and rescue them later, as there was no way I could defeat all of the creatures now. I managed to grab one pack as I fled, although whose I did not know.
    I fled down the large tunnel, hoping that it led to safety. Several of the creatures pursued me closely. Having longer legs, I quickly out-distanced them, only to come upon a large stone wall, apparently a dead end. I quickly noticed, though, that this was the other side of the stone wall in which Gorn had failed to move the large block. And there was the stone block.
    Rummaging through the pack (which was Armand's), I found some lamp oil, and quickly spread it on the ground and set it alight, giving myself some time.
    The creatures soon arrived. I tried to drive them off, but it quickly become apparent that there were simply too many of them. I pushed and pushed on the stone, but to no avail. I simply could not budge it. The kobolds began to throw rocks, which glanced off my head and back, sending my thoughts spinning. Even more desperate, I heaved myself against the rock, but could not budge it. I could feel the blackness pushing around my thoughts.
    Then, all of a sudden, the rock moved toward me of its own accord. Gratefully I watched as it slid out to fall upon the floor. Quickly I scampered through the hold, to be greeted (as it were) by the faces of Halat Shar and Urdan. Much as I didn't like them, I was glad to see them then. Halat Shar quickly set a blaze in the escape hole with lamp oil, and we beat a hasty retreat.
    Above I related my tale to them, while they told me that they had followed us down, looking for more treasure. They agreed to help me rescue Gorn and Armand - rather, Halat Shar agreed, while Urdan merely followed his lead - all rather strange for Urdan.
    Halat Shar told me that he could ward me, so that the creatures would not notice me, and then I could sneak in and rescue my friends. I agreed, desperate as I was to free them from the creatures' clutches. He also performed healing magic upon me, so that we might hasten down there.
    And so he enchanted me, and so I crept into the lair, unnoticed. I made my way over to the corner, where I found Armand, unconscious, but no sign of Gorn. There were several guards posted around him, so I tossed a rock over to the left, to make a sound and distract their attention, while I freed him.
    I woke Armand, and freed his bonds, but when the guards turned back, they saw me and attacked. One struck home with his spear, wounding much more than I would have thought. I slipped into unconsciousness, wondering "what will happen now?"

Tarmare 10 through Tarmare 25, 12881

I awoke to find myself in pain - a lot of pain. Slowly opening my eyes, I found myself in an unfamiliar room. Gorn was in a bed next to me, Urdan was pacing restlessly, and Halat Shar sat in the corner, quietly reading his book.
    After some questioning, I found that, after I had failed to return, Halat Shar and Urdan had quested in after me. They had fought the kobolds, and Urdan had fallen unconscious. Halat Shar had then managed to bargain for our lives by giving them the remaining money in Armand's pack. He claimed to have been unable to rescue Armand - he was already dead.
    So we found ourselves ... poorly equipped, with little money, sitting in an inn in Wereskalot. I was determined to avenge Armand's death, and also wanted to retrieve my things from the kobolds, so I agreed to join with them and return in a week's time, after Gorn and I had healed, and our money ran out.
    It seems odd, since he had been willing to heal my wounds before I went in to try and rescue Armand, but Halat Shar did not volunteer to heal either myself or Gorn, although we used all our money waiting for us to heal. We could have used that money to better equip ourselves. It didn't really occur to me at the time to question Halat Shar to closely about this, but this was one of the early indications that something was amiss with Halat Shar.
    While we were waiting for our wounds to heal, winter finally broke - the snow began to fall. By the time we left Wereskalot, the snow was a couple of feet deep in places, although not so deep under the denser trees in the forest.
    I felt sure that there must be some other entrance into the kobold lair, so after returning to the clearing, we began scouting around the area. Gorn and I set out in one group, and Urdan and Halat Shar made up the other.
    After a couple of days of scouting, Gorn and I chanced upon a pair of kobolds heading toward the clearing. Following their tracks, we surprised and quickly slew them. We took care to hide their bodies, then returned to camp, as it was getting dark. We relayed our news to Halat Shar and Urdan, then made our camp for the night. We agreed to follow the tracks back the next day and find the other entrance.
    Urdan left before the rest of us, and killed one sentry (although surely allowing the other to escape). His idea of "hiding" the body was to stick its head in the snow, leaving its legs poking out of the ground.
    The other entrance was a hollowed out stump, concealing a hole leading down into the ground. Moving down it, we found a narrow, cramped tunnel leading south. After about 60 or 70 feet the ceiling lowered from a "generous" 4 feet high, to about 1½ feet high. Peering into the opening with our torch light we could not see anything.
    I (goaded by Urdan) agreed to crawl through the tunnel, foolish as it was. The clever little kobolds had constructed spear traps along the sides of the low tunnel, and speared me as a crawled through. I managed to escape, after slaying a few of the nasty little brats, but was badly wounded. Technically the victory was ours, but it was quite a hollow one.
    Gorn and Urdan began to have quite heated words at this point. Gorn felt that the whole thing was Urdan's fault - he had goaded me into proceeding, as well as letting the second kobold sentry escape. They nearly came to blows, only not killing each other because Gorn threw his sword, and Halat Shar managed to restrain Urdan (itself quite a feat).
    The two would have nothing to do with one another after this, so Urdan stomped off to our older (and in much worse condition) cabin, with Halat Shar following him. Gorn and I headed to the newer cabin (although not in much better shape). I tried to placate Gorn, telling him that as soon as we had enough money, we would strike off on our own, leaving Urdan and Halat Shar behind. Both of us still did not trust Halat Shar, and found Urdan quite irritating (and dangerous to us).
    Halat Shar came over later, and said that he had talked things over with Urdan, and things should be smoother tomorrow. He decided to sleep in our cabin. During the night he must have charmed Gorn as well, for Gorn made a complete about-face - treating Halat Shar as though he was our best friend.
    I began to have a really bad feeling.
    We decided to give up on this route in, and try a different plan. Halat Shar suggested that we lure some of the other creatures of the underground tomb (notably the undead things that lurked there) into the lair of the kobolds, and then use that distraction to sneak in and retrieve some of our goods. If the battle was close, we might be able to fall upon the victors, and emerge ourselves as the big winner.
    It being a good plan (and the only one we had), we agreed to try it. Halat Shar magicked some meat (the dead kobolds) into putrescence, then set about laying the trap. He had already spelled me, as he had before, so that the creatures would not notice me. I lay in wait in the room with the well, where we had been captured before, and waited.
    Before long I heard the sounds of approaching things. It was my group, which crept into the well room with me, having already laid down a path of rotten meat leading to the entrance to the kobold lair. Several of the shambling humanoid creatures (the ones with the paralyzing touch) made their way past, along with something else, I was sure, since an unnatural shiver ran down my spine. I waited for a while, then followed them in.
    The battle was already joined by the time I got there (just the way I had wanted it). The ghoulish looking things (there were five or six of them) were grossly outnumbered and were being overwhelmed by a small tide of kobolds, but there was also a insubstantial black shadow, moving about the room, leaving dead kobolds in its wake. Their weapons ineffective against it, they began to flee from it, and it leisurely chased them down, leaving twisted, shriveled corpses behind it.
    I took this opportunity to sneak around the outside edge of the cave, moving toward the pile of our things. I picked out my pack, and found a bow - a strange contraption that looked to be made of bone, with a metal string. Gorn's pack was too heavy for me to carry also, so I grabbed another pack, nearly rotten, but not so heavy.
    As I made my way back around the cave edge towards the entrance, mist began to form around the hole in the corner of the cave - the one I was moving around. I hurriedly stole past it, not wanting to be seen by the snake woman when she appeared.
    And appear she did. She issued forth from the hole, and after glancing around, held out her hand and a flash of lightning issued from it, striking the black shadow squarely. I don't know if it hurt it, but it sure got its attention.
    It soared over, and began attacking the snake woman, who began striking back at it. Meanwhile the kobolds finally wore down the last of the ghouls, and then stood around watching the fight between the two powerful creatures.
    I sent an arrow flying, hitting the shadowy creature, but not causing any damage. Finally the combat finished, the shadow creature dissolving into vapor.
    She then turned her attention our way, sending a blast of lightning in our direction. Fortunately we had already ducked back, and the blast ricoched harmlessly off the wall opposite us. I turned to Halat Shar, asking if there were some way he could protect us from the magic of the creature. He said that he didn't know of anything for sure, but he could try something (it didn't help us at all).
    Urdan then proceeded to run out, charging the creatures, as was ever his headstrong way. I edged around the corner, firing arrows at the large snake-beast as it turned to attack Urdan. He was completely outclassed. It first spit something into his eyes, blinding him. Its tail then lashed out, cutting him fiercely as he flailed blindly at the creature. It then reached out, grabbed him with its tail, and yanked him down into the pit. All we could hear was his scream, suddenly cut off.
    The creatures then turned its attention our way. It fired magical bolts of energy into me, then magically put me to sleep. Gorn shook me awake, only to have all of us then engulfed within strands of sticky spider webs. The webs caught fire singing us all, but burning quickly away.
    The snake woman by this time had crawled out of her hole, and was making her way towards us. We retreated down the tunnel, fighting as we moved back towards a place where the tunnel was not so wide. Gorn and I slashed at the beast, and it fought us. My sword, luckily for me, actually blocked of its own accord some of the creatures attacks.
    Things were not going to well for us, though. Gorn fell to the creatures blows, and I was starting to lose consciousness from lack of blood. Halat Shar had stepped into the breach, taking the place of Gorn, after binding his wounds. Then our blows must have started to tell on the creature, in addition to the wounds inflicted by the shadow creature.
    It began to fall back, and seemed to motioning for the kobolds to take up the fight against us. Seeing a last, desperate chance, I hurled myself at the snake woman, stabbing my sword and dagger deeply into it. The beast fell to my blows, and moved no more.
    Standing upon the body, I yelled in exhaltation and triumph. Then I noticed the mob of creatures standing around me, looking at me dumbfounded - for the moment. Remembering my wounds, I quickly turned and fled.
    Halat Shar had, fortunately, taken advantage of this time and had dragged Gorn's inert form through the hole and was waiting for me as I sped out, followed by the shrieking kobolds.
    He quickly laid down lamp oil in the breach, and began working with flint and steel to try and light it. I stood by the hole opening, striking kobolds dead as they tried to clamber out the hole.
    Finally we lit the oil, and the kobolds retreated, as did we.

Tarmare 26 through Corvere 2, 12881

We had defeated the leader of the kobolds, but not the kobolds themselves. Our number was reduced (Urdan being dead), and we still had no money to live with. But we were closer than we had been before to defeating the kobolds. The kobolds had been drastically reduced in number also.
    Having spent the last couple of days resting, with Halat Shar practicing his healing magics upon us, we were ready to delve down into the lair of the kobolds again. Halat Shar surprised me now offering freely to practice his healing upon us. I'm still not sure what has changed, but something is very suspicious about this.
    We proceeded down cautiously, not sure what to expect.
    We were surprised nonetheless by what we found.
    The huge cavern that had been home to the numerous kobolds was now abandoned. The area was completely dark - there were few signs that the place had ever been inhabited.
    Looking at the smaller tunnels leading north out of the cavern, we saw that only two of them were not blocked. Moving up them a small way, we soon heard the presence of other things moving ahead. Presumably the kobolds were ahead, no doubt with some nasty trap in store for us.
    Heading back to the main cavern, we prepared to descend into the pit that the serpent creature (I later found it is called a naga) had issued forth from. The cavern was about 30 feet deep, and we had only 30 feet of rope, so all of us could not descend. (Besides which if all of us were below, the kobolds could easily trap us down below).
    So it was that I headed down into the pit by myself, leaving Gorn and Halat Shar to guard my escape route.
    The bottom of the pit was littered with bones. A layer approximately six inches deep covered the stone floor, making the footing treacherous. Urdan's corpse also lay here, as disgusting in death as he was in life. I had Gorn haul up his body, so that we could at least give him a decent burial. Out of the south end of the pit led a small passage - the only exit.
    Cautiously I moved down the passage, which curved off to head roughly east. It soon terminated in a large-ish room - not as large as the cavern I had come from, but still fairly roomy.
    The passage came out onto something like a large stone balcony, with stairs leading down into the room proper. In the room were three pillars supporting the ceiling, as well as a sarcophagus and a statue on the east side. The statue had been defiled, although the large stone sarcophagus was untouched.
    In the south wall of the room were a set of large bronze double doors. Looking at them I could tell that nothing had passed that way in a long time.
    Next to the doors, in the southeast corner of the room I found a medium sized nest made up of odd bits of string, rope and other odd bits of stuff. Poking around in the nest turned up an ornate metal sceptre as well as a smallish chest.
    Hurriedly I snatched up the sceptre, then lugged the chest back to the pit. Tying the rope to the chest, Gorn hauled it up - then I followed.
    Once I had rejoined my companions I gave them a description of what I had found, pulling out the sceptre to show it to them.
    Much to my surprise they both immediately drew their weapons and move towards me, making as if to attack me. I could see a red glow begin in their eyes, and their forms began to change as they moved towards me.
    I drew my sword and dropped the mace, trying to defend myself from my mad companions. They began hacking at me as I tried to flee from them. I kicked the mace into the pit, hoping that its influence on them would stop.
    Their voices seemed strange, not in accord with their actions, quite. They were asking what I was doing, when they were the ones attacking me. I began to suspect that perhaps the mace had caused me to not see things as they truly were, but I was not sure.
    Finally the Gorn-beast bore me down, and I saw Halat Shar advancing to put his sword through my head. I closed my eyes, hoping that none if it was real, else I would soon be dead.
    Nothing happened. After a minute or two, I re-opened my eyes, to see Gorn and Halat Shar, looking the same as they had before, looking down at me.
     They told me that all of a sudden, after I had shown them the mace, I had started running around slashing myself with my own sword. Looking down at myself, I saw that the wounds I had were real, and they looked to by caused by myself. My sword was still dripping with my own blood.
    With them still eyeing me cautiously, we quickly left the cavern, before the kobolds became bold enough to take advantage of our weakness.
    Once back up at our ramshackle cabin, we quickly opened the chest (which was devoid of any traps, although it was locked). Inside we found four bags and a large reddish book. Wary after the incident with the sceptre, I was cautious about the contents of the chest.
    Needlessly as it turned out, as there was nothing dangerous in the chest at all. (or so I thought at the time - later I was to find that several of the contents of this chest were quite dangerous)
    The book, was large and appeared to be parchment of some kind. It seemed to be bound in some sort of reddish-looking leather. Being not very interested in books, I quickly (but carefully) looked inside the bags.
    The contents of the four bags were:

  • 200 gold coins and a large scarab beetle fashioned out of gold. The beetle weighs about 10 pounds.
  • 400 gold coins, four purple faceted gems, and a purple spindle gem.
  • 500 silver coins, and four gold crowns.
  • 500 silver coins, and a single gold mark.

We split the treasure, with Halat Shar taking the book, and some of the gems, and Gorn and I splitting the the coins. I took the golden beetle.
    Upon closer examination of the chest, I found that the bottom of it was not as low as it should have been - leading me to suspect a secret compartment. Having no need for the chest, I quickly broke it apart, to find that indeed there was a secret compartment.
    In it, wrapped in old dirty rags, was some sort of metallic or stone-like leaf or scale, with odd markings on the back.
With our new-found wealth we returned to town to better equip ourselves. On our journey back to Werskalot, I noticed signs of orcs not far from the city walls... only a few hours. This seemed odd to me, so I decided to inform the guards at the gate that orcs had been spotted so near to their city. I spoke to one of the captains at the gate, and volunteered to lead a patrol of men to investigate. Gorn was still behaving strangely towards Halat Shar, so I decided to investigate upon returning to Wereskalot.
    While in Wereskalot, I finally bought some much needed weapons, armor, and equipment. I also sought out Dorand, my sage friend in the bazaar. He divined which of my belongings were magic : only the scale, and not the gold beetle. I also confided in him my misgivings about Halat Shar, and how oddly Gorn was acting towards him, similar to how Urdan had behaved strangely.
    He told me that it did seem odd, although he had little specific useful advice, other than that trying to get Halat Shar try and make Gorn act in some way that was contrary to his nature might break the spell. He also advised me to talk to someone at the temple of Arden.
    Following his advice, I journeyed to the temple of Arden hoping to learn something that would help me. I gained an audience with a Postulant Calip, who told me that no follower of Arden that he had ever heard of could wield charm-type magic, and that no follower of Arden that he had ever heard of could wield bladed weapons. He thought that perhaps the sect was related to the Teman Brair, but even they could not do the preceding two things.
    I told him that Halat Shar had told me that he hailed from the far west. His sect of Arden was called the Shade of Tarin, and that they believed they they should stand between those who would do harm to life, and life itself. Their appointed task was to "weed" the living, in order to make life overall flourish. His particular enemies are those priests who serve death.
    Postulant Calip had never heard of such a sect, but thought it unlikely that he was a priest of Arden, and that I should invite him to the temple so that they could meet.
    I tried to convince Halat Shar that he should visit the temple, but he insisted that he should not - they did not belong to his sect and would not accept him. He also told me that he had a plan for dealing with the rest of the kobolds, and that he would return soon. I made plain my misgivings about dealing with him, and explained a bit more about himself, but I still had quite a few misgivings about him.
    I took Gorn to see Dorand while Halat Shar was gone, but Dorand could do very little for him. I decided that I must go north again, and try and free Gorn from Halat Shar's grip.
    So it was that we headed back north, towards our cabin and clearing, much better equipped this time. I came across the tracks of what looked to be orcish raiding parties a couple of times, but we avoided any patrols. I was getting nervous, though, from having seen so many signs of orcs. It was especially odd seeing so much activity in the middle of winter, with all the snow.
    After reaching our cabin, we settled in, and I went to fetch some firewood. Then, off in the distance, I saw the forms of two extremely large wolves moving towards me. Behind them I saw the forms of a pair of orcs - also moving in this direction.
    I moved off towards the cabin as quickly as I could through the deep snow, calling out for Gorn and Halat Shar to come aid me.
    I could not make it to the cabin, however, before the wolves caught me. I put my back to a tree, and prepared to hold them off until my companions came to my aid. There was still no motion at the cabin, however, despite a couple of minutes having passed.
    Finally I saw Gorn and Halat Shar standing there, looking at me, but not moving. I called out to Gorn to help me, suspecting that Halat Shar would be happier if I were dead, given the doubts I had expressed to him in Wereskalot.
    I struck at the wolves a couple of times, but they had also given me several nasty bites. Finally Gorn began heading in my direction.
    Just then one of the orcs snuck up behind the tree I was using as a shield for my back, and managed to loop a rope around my throat, pulling me back against the tree, leaving me open to attack from the wolves. The wolves ripped at me, while I desperately sawed at the rope, trying to gasp for air.
    I finally sawed the rope free, and managed to fell one of the large wolf beasts, but lack of air and the blood seeping from my many wounds finally did me in, and I collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

Corvere 2 through Corvere 15, 12881

I was jolted awake by massive surge running through my body. My body jerked as the power ran its course. I opened my eyes to see Halat Shar taking his hands from me. I looked down at my body to see the gaping rents of flesh from the wolves still closing. I looked up at Halat Shar with new-felt respect. The man had just saved my life. I realized that I had not given him credit before for all of the things he had done for us.
    Looking down at me, he asked "How do you feel"
    I replied that I was doing okay, although still a bit stiff and beat up. I asked him how Gorn was doing, and learned that Gorn had fallen in the battle against the orcs and wolves.
    The rude "door"into our beaten cabin heaved open, and in walked a stranger - a very short stranger. He introduced himself as Tog van Something-er-other, and said that he had been traveling along, had witnessed our plight, and had decided to try and help us out. It was fortunate that he had come, though, else we might have all died.
    This dwarf who stood before was wearing a chain shirt and coif, and bore a religious symbol upon his breast. He was very easily persuaded to talk about his god - indeed we didn't even have to ask! He told us that he served the god of Lathidus as a holy warrior, seeking to cleanse the taint of evil from the land - particularly from beneath it.
    We explained that we were on a quest to destroy a band of evil creatures dwelling underground nearby, and he agreed to strengthen our party and eliminate them.
    Actually, he agreed to join our party, but didn't agree to our attempting to destroy them. He felt that it was his duty to try and reason with the foul creatures, although we explained that we'd had many dealings with them, and that they would listen to no reason. Still he insisted.
    Halat Shar had quite a cunning plan, however.
    He told us that while last in Wereskalot he had procured several casks of poisonous gas. If opened the gas would disperse, yet being heavier than air it would settle down into the creatures' tunnels.
    I suggested that as the newcomer Tadhg felt it necessary to try and negotiate with the creatures, that he could go and try and parlay with them, taking the gas. When he failed to come to any (reasonable) terms, he would set the gas upon them, filling their tunnels, and driving them out. Halat Shar and I would go in the other way, down through the hole in the center of the clearing, and wait and slay as many of the creatures as we could while they tried to escape.
    The plan worked fairly well, except for one thing. While trying to parlay with the creatures, something happened to Tadhg. As we worked out later, apparently one of the creatures had some sort of strange wand. It nearly killed him by blasting him with lightning, and then it transformed him into some sort of tree-like being.
    But the kobolds were vanquished, we had retrieved our things (in addition to the other treasure that the creatures had), and Halat Shar and I were well pleased. That still left the troubling matter of the massive dwarf-like tree that we had.
    It was decided that I would quickly make my way to town, and see Dorand to see if there was anything that could be done for Tadhg. He told me that there was, but that it would be expensive, and would take some time. I paid him what money I had brought with me (several hundred gold pieces, since we were now considerably more well off than before), and told him to prepare his magic.
    While in town I also warned the city guard again about the many numerous orcs that we had seen in the forests. I also bought a pack mule to help us haul out our treasure, it was certainly too heavy for me to carry out!
    Returning to the others, I relayed my news, and we set off for Wereskalot. Our pace was very slow - partially because of the snow, but mostly because our tree companion could only move {very} slowly. We were glad that he could move at all, though. He would have been much too massive to try and haul through orc-infested snow-covered territory.
    The journey was many days, and the tree was leaving huge, un-hideable tracks behind him. It was only a matter of time before we were found and attacked.
    Considering the size of the tracks, the orcs (I presume it was they who set our attackers upon us) must have felt that it was something very large and dangerous moving through the forest. So they sent something large to deal with it.
    We spied them coming up behind us, three large figures, humanoids, but about 10 feet tall, and wielding large weapons. They didn't look friendly, so I opened fire upon them with my bow, and they charged in.
    It was a very close fight. Our tree friend was little help in the combat, and Halat Shar fell to the blows of the powerful ogres before I could come to his aid, and I also took many grievous blows - near to unconsciousness myself. The swine even hacked down our poor pack mule, the brutes! Tadhg was unharmed, presumably they thought the tree little threat.
    After waiting a while for Halat Shar to revive, after which he cast his healing magics upon himself and then me, we moved onward to Wereskalot - fortunately we were not set upon again.
    Unwilling to try and take the tree inside the city walls, I headed into town with the rest of the money necessary to purchase the ure to Tadhg's affliction from Dorand.
    He gave my some sort of elixer in a bottle, with the following instructions:
    "Have your friend drink this potion - the entire thing. While drinking it have him picture within his mind his natural shape. His concentration must not waver or the potion will not work correctly."
    I returned to Halat Shar and tree-Tadhg, and we administered the contents of the bottle. As we watched, he slowly transformed back into the shape of a dwarf.
    I hadn't seen him a great deal before, but even to my eyes it seemed that he was a bit taller than before, and his features a little bit different. Couldn't tell for sure, though - all dwarves look pretty much the same to me.
    With Tadhg all reasonably humanoid again, we went into the town to rest, recover, and enjoy our new-found wealth.
    Tadhg went drinking, and I went with him for a short while - to keep an eye on him, of course. It was a little too loud and close within the tavern for me, so I didn't drink much. I'd easily have rather been in the room spending some time with Halat Shar.
    I returned well before our tipsy dwarf did (I got back around midnight). I knocked - being polite - and thought I heard a slight scuffling followed by a faint thud within. When the door opened, Halat Shar stood before me, his hands hidden in the folds of a dark, wadded up cloak.
    I think I asked Halat Shar what had happened, in fact I'm pretty sure of it. I can't really remember too clearly what he told me, though. I lot of my memories from that time seem to be a little hazy. I think he said something about sleeping, and that my knock had startled him awake and that he had fallen off the bed. Maybe not, though.
    I was pretty tired, though, and feeling the effects of the alcohol, although I hadn't consumed nearly as much as that dwarf Tadhg had - it had been pretty unbelievable. I went in and collapsed upon my bed, intent on laying there oblivious until morning.
    However, Halat Shar moved over by me and spoke. He told me that he wanted to return to the temple quickly. He told me that he was looking for a certain artifact, and that he wished to get it before some other explorer might chance upon the now less-well-defended tomb. He also said that before he left - in a day or two - that he was going to meet with a fellow priest.
    I grunted my assent, then proceeded to pass out.
    The next morning, when I finally awoke, the morning (late morning) sun was streaming in the window. I cracked open my eyelids and glared at the sun. Halat Shar was not to be seen.
    As I got up and prepared to make my way down to the common room to break my fast I noticed something wet and puddled upon the floor of our small room. Looking more closely I saw that it was thick, sticky and a deep, deep red. My heart began to pound a little. The pool was creeping out from beneath the bed opposite mine... the one belonging to Halat Shar.
    My heart in my mouth, I quickly looked under the bed, half-fearing I would see Halat Shar's corpse underneath, but instead I saw a burlap sack. A bulky burlap sack, containing something that could be a human body. I quickly pulled the corpse out from under the bed, and opened it to look at the occupant.
    A man's face, unknown to me.
    At least it wasn't Halat Shar.
    Still not knowing what to do, but remembering that our new dwarven companion Tadhg was some holy "man" and therefore might know what to do, I went down the hall to wake him.
    It took a few minutes of pounding to rouse him. His face, when it finally appeared at the door looked as though he hadn't slept at all - which he probably hadn't.
    I told him about the body under the bed, and asked his advice. He decided to come down the hall and take a look at it.
    While he was freshening himself (read: trying to wake himself up), I heard the sound of a bootsteps out in the hallway. Remembering that our door was unlocked, I peered out to see who it was. It was a city guard!
    I called out to Tadhg to hurry up, and then, while the guard was in another room, darted out and down the hall into my own room, quickly closing and locking the door behind me.
     After a few minutes, I heard the guard's heavy tread come out and he knocked upon another door. He was doing a door-to-door search!
    As I waited there, pondering the options, I heard a loud knock upon the door, followed by Tadhg's gruff voice, "I'm here now. Why don't you let me in?"
    I quickly opened the door and motioned him in. "Be quiet, won't you?" I gasped as he entered the room. I bolted the door behind him.
    He looked over the body, not finding anything that I hadn't, and then sat back to consider.
    "I suppose we'd best be telling the city guard," he rolled. "The Law will know best how to deal with it." I could practically hear the capital letter in the way he spoke the word law.
    "Normally I would agree," I hissed, "but there might be something going on that we don't know about. Halat Shar isn't here to advise us, and the body was under his bed."
    "True," rumbled Tadhg, "but where is Halat Shar now? Why did he leave you here with this dead body without even telling you that it was here?"
    I replied faintly. "I don't really know. I suppose he must have had some good reason.... "