Monday, February 23, 2015

Into the Tomb of the Lizard King - Part 3: KelLyn discovers exploding runes..the hard way

Into the Tomb - Part 2

Past the doors you cannot find, 
Down the steps you cannot climb, 
Across the river of nothingness 
You’ll find your way. 
Beware the marksman and his prey. 
Shun the royal brides. 
Then find the place I lie in eternal feast. 
Past glories I despise 
The light of vengeance fills my eye. 
Treasure I give my servant dragon, 
Guardian loyal of this, my reborn feeding lair.

- riddle found on a scrap of paper in the first level of the tomb of the Lizard King


Once we made it back to the room we had set up as a base camp, the party relaxed for a while, using the time to rest, recuperate, and discuss our next moves. Since all of the supplies had been moved from the kitchen, pantry, and wine cellar to this room, we took some time to go through the various foodstuffs, and enjoyed a decent meal as well as opening up one of the casks of wine. It was a welcome reprieve from the travel rations, and having a good meal did much to improve our spirits. While we ate, a discussion broke out about whether we should venture down into the lower level via the trap door in this room, or if we should instead continue to explore this level first. 

The consensus was that this level should be cleared completely before going down, so after we had rested, Lan used her new sight to see what living things she might be able to see still on this level. She said that she saw a large winged humanoid figure, possibly a demon of some kind, walking across a room some distance away. I took the opportunity to scout ahead, using stealth and skill to remain undetected. I checked the doors for traps, and explored down the corridor until I came up on what was obviously a place of vile worship. Simply walking into this room made me feel nauseated, so I returned to the party to let them know what I had found. 

The rooms revealed appeared to be the captain's quarters, as the furnishings were simple, but of obviously better quality than those found in the barracks. There were two chests in this room, and Ishmael knocked the hinges off to open them without setting the needle traps off, to reveal about 800 silver and several standard sets of clothing. There was nothing else of note in this room, and we continued to explore, discovering a common room, and then finally the worship area.

The worship area, for that is clearly what it was, was repulsive. The idol in the center of the room boasted the repugnant face of the demon god that we had seen elsewhere, and the altar was soaked with congealing blood. The tapestry on the wall was disturbing in it's intensity, and depicted scenes of utter cruelty. The sheer evil here overwhelmed me, and I got physically ill. I said a quiet prayer to my god and goddess to ask for guidance, but the act of simply thinking their names was enough to cause the evil to pulsate in a nauseating fashion, making me ill all over again. 

After I recovered myself, I urged everyone to either destroy everything here or leave now. They helped me move out of the room, promising that we could come back and destroy everything once the lizard king was dealt with. Further explorations revealed the central room for the priests, where incense burned on the table, and robes hung from hooks on the walls. Again, I resisted the urge to destroy everything here, and we eventually discover a small library.

The theme of the books in the library was primarily evil, and more than a few of the books were specifically about dealings with the undead. The subject matter of the books here was enough to make my skin crawl, and I wonder yet at what we still may face. Much to my surprise Shalev and Osman took a few books off of the shelves. Shalev chose a book about identifying undead, probably in hopes that it might reveal clues about what we face, and potential weaknesses it might have. Osman chose two books, one on summoning demons, and another on knowing the true names of the undead. KelLyn immediately went to look at a book that was chained to a pedestal in the center of the room. She began reading the book to herself, and then as she read, her eyes widened, and she made an audible comment about taking the book.Ishmael offered to cut the chain for her, and immediately an argument broke out between the party members about it. Rather than listen to them bicker and snipe at each other about it, I left the room to keep watch in the hallway for potential enemies, continuing to scout quietly ahead. 

It is KelLyn's choice, ultimately, about her path. Her desire for power may eventually be her undoing, but she must be aware that all power has a price. If she is willing to pay that price, then so be it. Shalev is concerned for her, though she sees it more as an annoyance and the two of them argue and misunderstand each other on a nearly constant basis. He has taken her actions quite personally on more than one occasion, and he is quite concerned about what might happen should she delve into the darker arts. He feels, rightfully so, that she is not always careful with her power, although he does forget at times that she is responsible for her fate, and not him. If she ignores the signs and warnings that she gets, and pursues her quest for power to it's ultimate end, then that is her choice, not his. 

My efforts to scout ahead revealed nothing further, so I returned to the library to see that KelLyn had indeed taken the book, and Shalev was glaring at her pointedly. I raised an eyebrow in silent comment, and then informed the party of the rooms ahead that I had discovered. One of the rooms proved to be a second captain's quarters, again with two chests with more basic clothes and about 1000 silver. 

We decided to carry the empty chests as well as the treasures we had found so far back to the base camp before continuing our explorations. We checked our belongings there, made sure that the trap door was still secure, and then went back out to the hallway I had discovered. 

There were several rooms here, and after checking the doors for traps, Ishmael opened the first one to show a small room where a black robed man was studying. He looked up in alarm and began to chant, and Shalev and Ishmael immediately rushed in to attack. Shalev's attacks missed, and the robed man was able to cast his spell successfully. Ishmael succeeded in his attack, and smashed the desk into the man in the chair, pushing it into him. The priest looked surprised that he was hit by anything at all, and Ishmael continued his bludgeoning attacks on the furniture. Shalev swung again, and missed again much to his frustration. The priest shouted out an alarm, and the other four doors opened as the priests inside them curiously stuck their heads out into the hallway to see what was going on. Upon seeing us there, they all stepped out into the hall and began casting various spells. They never got the chance. Tobias, pulling both of his maces, raced down the hallway in a deadly wave of attacks. KelLyn reached out to touch the closest priest, casting a spell with her contact. Osman shot an arrow at the next closest priest. Fife speared the priest in the back of the hallway, and I used my bow to put an arrow in the other's face. 

The priest in the room with Ishmael and Shalev tried then to cast a drain life spell on Shalev. Shalev's brooch flared to life, protecting him completely, and causing Shalev's aura as a paladin to pulse in a flex of spiritual muscle that we could all feel. The priest went wide-eyed, and began casting yet another spell, and Shalev rolled out of the way, and out of the room. Fife and I used the opening to our advantage, and were both successful with spear and arrow, hitting the offending priest in the face as Ishmael simultaneously charged bodily into the priest, taking him out finally. The other priests go down easily after that, and both bodies and rooms are empty of anything of interest. 

There is a gruesome painting at the end of the hallway, but though I examined it closely, I couldn't find anything of note. It was a hidden door, however, and when we turned away from it to head back down the hallway, it opened silently and an armored man stepped through. The only warning we had was when KelLyn suddenly fell over, apparently dead. Shalev ran over to her, to remove her pack, thinking that it was the book she picked up from the library that had caused her collapse. As he shoved it away from her, he glanced up to see the dark paladin looming in the shadows. Ishmael rushed to give her a potion, and Tobias grabbed her and dragged her into one of the now empty priest's quarters. Lan and I followed to try to find out why she had collapsed, and see what we could do to save her. 

As we moved out of the way, the armored man threw a stick at Shalev which changed into an adder in midair. Shalev didn't even blink at the deadly serpent though, and it fell harmlessly to the floor as he charged at the enemy shouting that he hadn't worked so hard at not killing KelLyn only to have someone else do it. He swung his holy sword, aiming the powerful blow a the armored man's neck. With a screech of metal, the strike hit home, shearing through the thick metal gorget at his throat, and killing the unholy paladin with a single dreadful impact.  The unholy paladin fell to the floor, and Shalev used his foot to pry his sword from the remains. He swore softly when he saw that the deadly strike had damaged his blade, but stopped short when he heard the sound of crumpling metal. He looked down in time to see the armor of the unholy paladin crumpling and cracking, shrinking in on itself and crushing down into nothing. The implosion covered Shalev in the gory remains of what was left behind, and he shook the blood off of his blade with an irritated sniff. 

Meanwhile, Lan, Tobias and I were struggling to save KelLyn. Lan and Tobias worked to keep her alive, while I tried to locate the reason for her collapse. Shalev walked in then, covered in gore, and showed me the stick that had turned to a serpent. I recognized the description Shalev gave of the poisonous reptile as an adder, as they were fairly common back home in the desert, and was quickly able to pull together the components for an antidote. Once I was able to get the antidote down her throat, the results were fairly immediate. She regained consciousness, and was quickly able to be up and about with no lasting effects from the toxin. As soon as she was awake she rushed over to the book she had acquired from the library, flipping through pages and muttering to herself about inept spell casters and something about an attempt against her, when suddenly she exclaimed loudly "a lich?! They were trying to make me a lich?!" and began both laughing and swearing sulphurously. 

None of this made much sense to the rest of the party, however, so we let it go as the mysteries of magic users, and went in to examine the room that was revealed by the secret door. This was the paladin's personal chamber, and it boasted opulent furnishings and a basin of water, and a small alter to the demon god. Shalev purified the water in the basin, and then used it to clean some of the gore off.  He commented that the carpeting in this room was quite valuable, and we rolled it up to add to the treasures we had already discovered. He then took some time to tear down the tapestries on the walls, eventually revealing a hidden door. Fife offered to check for traps, and I let him take point. He found no traps, but the lock on the door proved to be beyond his skill, so I took care of the lock to reveal a small vault with three chests. 

The chests held:

  • 50 gold plates
  • 20 platinum plates
  • 2 ornate ivory scroll tubes with ivory stoppers

KelLyn offered to use her slate to identify the scrolls, and was successfully able to identify the first one as a scroll of protection from demons. The second, however, had some sort of enchantment upon it, and as soon as it touched the slate, it drained all of the magic from it. KelLyn went white with fury, and we all wisely left the room, lest in her anger, she lash out at the rest of the party. We carried the treasures - the carpet, the plates, and the scrolls (safely back inside the ivory casings)  back to base camp. 

Once back at base camp, we deposited the rug and plates near the chests, and sat down with some relief to rest. Shalev took detailed measures to make sure that he was clean after being coated in such gore for most of the day, and the rest of us followed his example, taking the time to refresh ourselves as necessary. Watches were set, and the first two passed uneventfully. Shalev and I were on third watch, and during the small, quiet hours, we saw a group of 4 robed figures approaching us. As soon as they saw us, their eyes glowed red, and fangs extended from their mouths. They glared at us, and Shalev slumped over in an enchanted sleep. They looked with surprise at the fact that I had not also fallen over, and it was the last act they had a chance to make. I shouted to the rest of the party, and drew my sword. Bow and arrow would have proven useless here, so outnumbered. I swung the sword in a deadly arc, hoping to take one or two out before having to seriously engage. My worry proved pointless, however, as my aim was truer than even I knew, and the arc of the sword screaming through the air took all four out with deadly precision. The corpses were identified as some kind of were-creature, and they had nothing of interest on them, so they were drug over to the room where KelLyn had ignited the volatile fires earlier in the adventures. The room was still radiating with heat, and when the bodies were thrown in, they burned to ash. 

The rest of the night passed uneventfully, and the next day we go to explore the remaining rooms of this level of the tomb. In one of the rooms, I discover a hidden compartment containing a chest, and Shalev, having taken note of the traps we had previously faced, wrapped a heavy tapestry around the chest to remove it safely. 
He felt the impact of four darts, but the tapestry proved enough of a protection, and there was no harm done. 
Inside the chest was:

  • a bag of silver (about 3000 pieces) 
  • a bag of gold (about 4000 pieces) 
  • about 200 platinum pieces
  • 6 gold brooches (worth approximately 500 gp each) 

Ishmael helped to appraise the jewelry, and claimed one of the brooches for himself, which he put on. 
The next room was hidden behind a secret door covered by the bas relief of the demon god, much like the entrance to the tomb in the dragon's lair. The room revealed appeared to be some kind of study, with a sturdy desk. The desk had one drawer that continually re-locked itself, and after several attempts at unlocking it, I finally gave in, and stepped back so that Ishmael could gleefully smash the desk to pieces. The drawer, now easily accessible, contained written notes that looked like spell research. We called KelLyn over, and she grabbed up the notes, looking through them with surly interest. One page held a scrawled riddle on it: 

Past the doors you cannot find, 
Down the steps you cannot climb, 
And across the River of Nothingness 
You’ll find your way. 
Beware the marksman and his prey. 
Shun the royal brides! 
Then find the place I lie in eternal feast! 
Past glories I despise; 
The light of vengeance fills my eye. 
Treasure I give my servant dragon, 
Guardian loyal of this, my reborn feeding lair.

After reading it out, Osman asks to see the page, and then spent a moment translating it into the language of the lizard men. He mentioned with some amusement that when translated thus, it actually rhymed, but nothing else was revealed by changing it to it's intended language. Once the desk was reduced to rubble, there was nothing else in the room, save a pair of heavy gold candlesticks, which Ishmael picked up and placed in his pack. 

The riddle is interesting, and I feel as if it might shine some light on what might still lay ahead of us. With all of the traps we have discovered so far, and the pervasive evil that this entire place, it would not surprise me if more lethal traps awaited us. It bears researching more, I think, and serves as a warning - to me at least -  of what may lie ahead. While we have a relatively safe space here in this room, I will try to teach my party members how to move more quietly. To be more aware of their surroundings, and to step carefully is going to be an essential skill for everyone. We have been incredibly lucky so far, in that our raucous explorations have not brought more enemies down on us, and I do not relish finding out what else may be out there the hard way. 

The next room we discovered was some kind of alchemical laboratory. Long, low tables lined the walls with bottles and vials of components and powders. Most of it was fairly commonplace, and of no interest, but we did find one vial of powdered diamond, which KelLyn pocketed. The southern wall of this laboratory boasted a secret door, but I could find no way to open it up. I asked KelLyn to take a look at it, and she cast a simple spell to discern how the mechanism worked. After a moment, and in a fit of amused irony, she pulled out the unidentified scroll and touched it to the wall, draining it of magic, and causing the latch to release. 

The room revealed was pitch black, and not even Tobias, with his dark vision could see inside. KelLyn discerned that it was a magical darkness, and cast a spell to revoke the magic inside. The darkness fell away, and showed a man in a black robe at the far end of the room, reading from a scroll. Ishmael immediately charged in like an angry bull, and hit the unprepared magic user with all of the force of a battering ram. The robed man was crushed by the impact, and KelLyn found the whole scene terribly amusing. Through her tears of laughter she revealed that he had, indeed, been casting a spell, but that it was defense against magic, not against brute force. So he never even saw it coming.  As she recovered herself, chuckling and chortling the whole time, Shalev took a piece of tapestry and waved it around in an attempt to find trap wires or other hidden things. He was successful in revealing an invisible chest in one corner. 

KelLyn easily removed the invisibility, still chuckling to herself, and we check the chest for traps. While we do that, she goes over to check the robed man to see what he may have had on him. 

The robed man had a cloak, a ring, and a wand on him. 
The chest contained: 
3000 silver pieces
500 gold pieces
500 platinum pieces
a book

Since KelLyn's slate was drained of power, she used her magic to basically identify the objects as being magical. The ring was spelled with move/control human with a subrealm of water. The cloak was spelled with move/control magic. The wand was spelled with create mind. The book was spelled with a variety of things, but primarily with destroy magic with a subrealm of fire. 

Shalev cautioned her to check the book before she read anything, but KelLyn ignored him, reading the title of the book regardless. The book was spelled with some kind of explosive rune, and the second she read it, it exploded, injuring Ishmael, Fife, KelLyn and myself. KelLyn gave me a potion to bring me back to health, but sadly the book was completely destroyed. 

KelLyn shrugged and commented that it was no big deal, but I could see that the loss of potential power and knowledge was a pain to her. She claimed both the cloak and the wand, and then stalked away in an increasingly bad mood. I added the ring to the stash of treasures to be checked later, and the party decided that since there were injuries to be healed, that we would go back to base camp one more time before venturing beneath to the lower levels and beyond. 

We still have not revealed the main passageway to the lower levels, but in our conversations about the events of the day, Shalev remembered seeing a door underneath the tapestries in the center worship area with the idol of the demon god. Perhaps that is the way we seek. There is still the trap door under the room we use as base camp, and the narrow corridor beyond. There is still the prowling demon figure that Lan saw. There is still Sacatha himself, wherever he may lie. 

Much to be done, and much to do. The pile of treasures we have discovered grows exponentially, and I can't help but wonder how we will transport it all back to the count. We each get our share, of course, but the vast majority should go towards rebuilding this broken town, and rekindling hope in the beleaguered folk here. 

But that will be after we escape this wretched tomb, and if we survive the battles to come. 

For now, I will say a prayer to my god and goddess for continuing to watch over us. I feel the press of the evil here like a constant ache, and I need their touch and reassurance in my mind. Like a child who runs to her parents when they've had a nightmare, I wish to do nothing more than to run to them for comfort and protection. During my meditations and contemplation, I will continue to ask for their guidance. They may not be able to reach me here, but I will still continue to do what I can. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Contemplate Balance

Balance is a state of harmony, that gives you a clear perspective on what is important in Life.

So what is important in mine? 

The balance of which the Mystics speak has nothing to do with the mundane concepts of good & evil. It is the balance of one's Spiritual Life with one's physical life, and balancing the emotional life with the intellectual life. The balance is the attainment of harmony on all planes of your being.

There is a big difference between contemplation & meditation, but often the two are confused. In contemplation, one takes an object or principle, and one focuses upon it. Your concentration becomes immersed in the object of contemplation, until you become one with it. Contemplation is a great tool for discovering truth.

Meditation is very different. In meditation one relaxes the mind. There is no object in meditation. That would be contemplation. Thoughts, images & other sensations may enter your mind, but you pay no attention to them. The point in meditation is to gain control of your mind, ignoring all the whirling thoughts that fly around within it.

The meditation technique that I use, is to focus my consciousness upon my consciousness, and to completely disregard the objects of my consciousness. This isn't easy. The mind likes to be in control, so when you try to meditate, the mind will conjure up all manner of mental phenomena to distract you.

But, if you can learn to merely sit, when you sit; to control your mind in stillness, rather than allowing the mind to lead you around & around, you will discover that the mind can become a most obedient & efficient tool.

Learning how to control one's own mind is one of the greatest problems you will ever encounter, but that solution will also be your greatest triumph. The mind is incredibly powerful. Your thinking processes attract all of the conditions that occur in your life, so mastery in this area should be a key priority. Beliefs about yourself & your capabilities, determine what you can do. All that is required is my will, to learn & do the things that I desire, and then exert the actions that will release those things into happening.

It begins with Meditation.


I miss my home. 
The warm, shifting sands of the deserts are a long way from this fetid, evil swamp. I miss the feel of the sun on my head, and the sand under my feet. The arid feel of warm breezes, and the dry smells of sun-baked earth.

There are moments where I wonder if leaving the desert was worth it, and I also wonder now at what awaits my eventual return. 

Or even if I will return. 

The desert I left will not be there, for that is the way of the desert. Ever changing. My choice remains before me to return to those silken sands, or to make my home elsewhere. The forests near the edge of Qualton call my name. The young entlings in Basil's gardens. The great forest at DruidHome also speaks softly to my memories. 

I also miss the sigh of the leaves in the trees of those forests, the cool shade of giant sweeping branches, and the aching sweetness of soft grass against my feet. The smells of life, of green, growing, healthy things.

Perhaps I will seek a place of balance between the two. Desert and Forest. There are oasis aplenty between the heart of the desert and the edge of the wildlands. Or perhaps I will find somewhere new. For who knows what still awaits, in the adventures ahead? Or where my god and goddess might lead me to go? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Into the Tomb of the Lizard King - Part 2: Osman learns about traps

Into the Tomb - Part 1

"Oh go on, open the footlocker. It's safe enough."


We rested for a time in the room where we had killed the clerics, barring the door, and setting watch while we recuperated from the fight. Shalev used his powers as a paladin to cast a healing spell on me, which was enough to bring be back to full capability. 

While we convalesced, we examined the equipment that the clerics had carried in greater detail. KelLyn used her magic to identify the items of interest, and she discovered 

  • a ring imbued with the magic to create fire
  • a ring imbued with the magic to destroy fire
  • a scroll of Protection from magic with 1 day duration
  • a staff aligned with the cleric's pantheon which will strike at those it is pointed at with divine power (has an unholy feel to it.) 

The rest of the armor and weaponry was exceptional quality, but otherwise unremarkable. Tobias, Shalev, and Osman claimed a mace each to use as a backup weapon if necessary, and Osman also claimed one of the sets of chain mail armor, though wearing it hampered his movement somewhat. Shalev took the ring with the magic to destroy fire, wearing on his left hand ring finger. 

After rechecking that everyone was mostly healed and able to continue, we ventured out of the room and continued to explore the tomb. The next rooms we discovered were the kitchen, pantry, and wine cellar - all of which were fully stocked. Since Osman was making a rudimentary map of our findings, we earmarked these rooms to return to later to restock and resupply. 

Continuing our not-so-stealthy explorations, we discovered a basic armory that held only low quality weapons, and it was speculated that this was where the lizard men were equipped from. Further down the hallway was  a door that lead to a barracks with 10 sleeping men. A whispered argument broke out among the party about whether or not Kellyn should put them to sleep, or if we should just kill them outright. I had no problems killing them outright, but it was argued against, and KelLyn went to the door to try to cast a sleep spell. The moment she began to cast, she was shot with an arrow by one of the men in the rear of the room who had been awake and watching the party argue. The arrow did no damage to her, thankfully, due to her incredible strength, and only succeeded in making her angry.  Osman immediately returned fire, and KelLyn threw off the sleep spell an began to cast in Fyrewerian, using the word we had all come to recognize for "fire." 

As she was casting, Tobias used his speed to dash into the room and brain the second guard at the rear of the room who was also awake, and then dash back out to safety before KelLyn finished her spell. I shot both of the enemies with arrows as well. Fife and Lan stepped out into the hallway to guard against potential rear attacks, and KelLyn's spell detonated with cataclysmic effect. The fireball in her hands turned incandescent and liquid, a hovering ball of fluid, flaming destruction. She released the fireball into the room with an almost negligent flick of her hands, and Shalev rushed to yank the door closed to protect us from the backlash of the explosion. 

Good thing he did, too, because an instant later the room, the doors, and everything inside was vaporized in a thunderous clap of white hot implosion. KelLyn turned to us then, and we saw that her eyes had turned a strange amber color as an after effect of the spell. She shrugged with a small smile and sauntered away from the smoldering room with a disdainful sniff. The fearsome flames had done their work well, and there was nothing left in the room at all except for a doorway (which had been concealed previously) to the main hallway. The stones were radiating so much heat that we could not enter the room, and so the party continued on, following the hallway around to another door which lead to another set of barracks. 

This barracks was much larger, holding cots and small footlockers for twenty-four guards. I could hear snoring coming from the door at the other end of the room, and I used my stealth to walk silently through the room to the other side, where I discovered one lone soldier, sleeping on the floor where he had rolled out of bed. I took him out silently and without effort, and motioned to the rest of the party that I was going to check the door as well. Shalev then attempted to make his way over to me to act as back up should it be needed. 

Alas, though, my diligent student has much to learn in the ways of stealth, however, and only succeeded in making a tremendous amount of noise. I looked at him in exasperation, and shook my head resignedly before trying the door. Thankfully it only lead back out into the main hallway, so no harm done. I should probably remind him gently that I am quite capable of avoiding situations if I am undetected, and while his effort to protect me was appreciated, he needs to trust that ability if I am going to be on point checking for traps and using my stealth to scout ahead.

Since there was nothing else of note on the one soldier that I killed, it was suggested that we go through the footlockers and personal chests here to see what else we might be able to find. I warned that they might not be safe, and that they shouldn't be touched until I had a chance to check them for traps. Despite my warning, however, Osman foolishly began opening the footlockers, and set of the poison needle trap within the third one that he opened. The needle pierced his finger, and he immediately stiffened and collapsed in death like coma. KelLyn, Lan, and I instantly went to work trying to keep him alive. KelLyn and Lan worked together to preserve his body and prevent the poison from spreading any further. I went into a deep meditative ritual to work to remove the poison from his blood and bring him back from the brink of death. The poison was virulent and strong, but after an entire day, an entire bag of the priceless salts from the deep desert, and a bottle of the highly potent moonshine from the farmers, I was able to draw enough of the poison out of his body to revive him; though it nearly exhausted me to do so. 

While KelLyn, Lan, and I were striving to save Osman's life, Shalev and Tobias stood watch, and Ishmael and Fife returned to the room where the clerics were to retrieve the armor and weapons that were left behind. They made a horrible racket as they returned, seeming not to care who they might alert to our presence, and the raucous din disturbed a mass of flying rat-like creatures that Fife said were bats. The bats chittered and chirped and flew out down the hallway, presumably to the swamp outside, for we didn't see anything else of them after they flew past. 

When they returned, I wearily thanked KelLyn and Lan for their assistance, and told the rest of the party that morning would tell if I were successful in saving Osman's life. I took the poultice that I had made with the salts and moonshine, and threw it into the still smoldering room of the opposite barracks, where it instantly vaporized into a lethal green cloud of smoke. I returned to the room, to do one final check on Osman's progress, said a sincere thanks to my god and goddess for their guidance with the attempt, then sat down and retreated mentally into the deep meditations that work as restful sleep for me.

Morning showed that I was indeed triumphant. Osman was groggy, and having some trouble moving his left arm, but he was alive and awake. Shalev used his daily gift to cast a healing spell over Osman, and I said a second, quiet prayer of thanks for the success of the work. Osman asked what had happened and Shalev told him of the poison, that I was somehow able to neutralize it, and then of his healing spell that brought him up to mobility. I raised an eyebrow, but let it pass. I do not think he meant to leave out the exhaustive work we did to make sure he woke up in the first place, and I was still weary enough to just let the oversight be. Osman is still very weak, and will unfortunately be relegated to healing naturally for a period of time. I warned him that he should not over tax himself, and that healing would take time. There are plenty of small tasks within the party that he can do to help regain his strength, and help him feel useful while he improved, but that when we found ourselves in battle, his safest place would be back behind us all. 

Ishmael used his hammer to knock the hinges off of the remaining footlockers in the deserted barracks, and searching the containers revealed 2 decent sized bags of various gems, and 40 silver pieces. We added these to the stash of things we had found before, and since Osman was weak, but mobile, we decided to push on, keeping him near the rear of the party in a more protected position. Perhaps he has learned his lesson to check first, then act? We shall see. 

Shalev made a motion to cast another detect evil spell, but I cautioned him against casting it again, as we already knew there was evil in this place, and reminding him that every time he cast the spell, it rang like a bell to any who might be searching for us. He agreed with my counsel, and before we continued our explorations, I cast a quiet druidic ritual to bless the party moving forward. I felt like my god and goddess answered my request, and I thanked them for their aid. I do not know exactly what the blessing did, but here, in this place, every boon counts. 

As before, I scouted somewhat ahead, searching for traps and listening at doors. The next hallway we discovered had doors to the left and right, and when I listened, I heard muffled voices to the right. I motioned to the party members, and stepped out of the way as Shalev kicked the door in to reveal a group of 7 men in armor, playing dice around a table. Shalev immediately moved in to attack, and Tobias - much to my surprise - began to berate him for foolish action, despite the fact that 6 of the armored men were also moving to attack. I wonder at the sudden venom that Tobias showed Shalev. His actions were no different than they had been in previous encounters, and undeserving of such vitriol. I also wonder if Tobias and Shalev need to have words with one another when this is through. Tobias should know better, that there is no reason to be jealous, and that taking out his frustrations on Shalev was unwarranted, and poorly timed. 

KelLyn moved to cast sleep on the 7th man,  and he turned to grab a trident to attack her in return. Tobias moved into the room to group brawl the 6 others, in an attempt to divert attention off of Shalev's attacks. I used my bow with success to put two arrows into the 7th man, who was apparently the leader of the crew. While KelLyn was casting, Ishmael stepped between her and the leader, acting as a physical block if needed. The leader's attack was successful, though barely making it past Ishmael's guard, and it was enough to interrupt KelLyn's spell. Thankfully, there was no ill-effect from the disruption, save KelLyn being doused with water from an unknown source. 

Fife took the opportunity to throw a spear at the leader then, and Shalev engaged with the rest of the group using his ability to do multiple attacks with great success, wounding four of them. KelLyn stepped around Ishmael, and laid her hands on the leader's armor, saying the Fyrewerian word for "Fire!" The leader took a panicked shot at her face in an attempt to break her formidable concentration, and I retaliated by throwing a dagger in his, diverting his awareness long enough for KelLyn to successfully complete her spell. Where her hand had rested against the leader's armor, a red-hot handprint appeared, and his eyes went wide when he realized that all of his armor was heating quickly to uncomfortable levels. 

Shalev and Tobias remained engaged with the other 6 men, when out of nowhere, a leprechaun appeared. The little man took one look at the table, and the gold laying there from the dice game that had been in progress when Shalev kicked the door in. The leprechaun said aloud "You're right, there IS a lot of gold here." and then promptly vanished, taking all of the gold with him. All 7 of the men we were fighting stopped and stared, then started running towards the door to try and locate all of their missing gold. Fife kicked the door closed, preventing their escape, and used the opportunity to throw an oddly shaped dagger at the leader. 

His aim was, as it always is, deadly true, and the dagger pierced the leader's armor where the glowing handprint had melted through, and embedded up to the hilt. KelLyn had the leader up by the throat, and both Ismael and Shaelv took successful swings against him while he was held immobile, earning a purring comment from her that she felt loved right then. 

I drew my sword then, and closed for combat, as my arrows were useless at close range. The sword cut through the air with a scream of shattering sound, and blue waves sparked down the blade as I swung at the nearest foe. My cut was true, and cleaved through the air, and the foe in front of me, as if I were slicing through butter. The whole room stopped to turn and look at what the sound had been, in time to see the person I had attacked fall into two pieces, as I slung blood drops off of the gently curved blade. I took a moment then to look at the graceful blade with new admiration. I had never used it in combat before, and it felt as if it were an extension of my own body, a part of my arm, and I smiled a deadly smile as I re-engaged, moving and turning with effortless, lethal grace, blue waves of energy sparking along the blade, and across my body as I did.

Tobias kneecapped one of the fleeing men, and used a second attack to take him out completely. KelLyn then threw the body.. or what remained of the body, as Shalev and Tobias' attacks took both knees and head off.. of the leader at the rest of the fleeing men, screaming out "I AM THE MAGE!" with a battle cry that made them all nearly wet themselves. After that it was short work to kill the remaining soldiers, and we did so quickly. Fife had backed away, into the closed door, staring wide-eyed at me, and he opened the doorway to continue out into the hall, when he suddenly stopped short, feeling the garrote there at his neck where Osman and Lan had strung the wires across the entrance to prevent escape. 

He gently felt along the wire until he came to the edge, where he carefully worked to remove it before he hurt himself on it. Lan and Osman helped him remove the wire, letting him keep an arm's length of it when he expressed interest in it, quipping still wide-eyed that if he were going to be successful as a body guard that he would have to take the enemies out before we even got there. 

The weapons and armor of the men we had fought was all but destroyed completely, and nothing save the trident remained of interest in the room. KelLyn used her skills to identify the weapon as a pre-Fyrewerian artifact used by an underwater civilization (which Lan confirmed with more than a little disdain in her voice.) It was enchanted to be used under water at speed, and would give the wielder an idea of their opponents actions. Fife and Tobias both expressed a keen interest in the weapon, and so KelLyn handed it to Fife saying that they would have to work out who got it between the two of them. 

Shalev spent some time removing wall hangings and searching the rest of the room, revealing a latch hidden behind one of the tapestries. He took one look at the latch, and stepped away hastily, saying with wary amusement, "See Osman, this is how you get to the treasures without dying." and looked my way in a plea to check it for traps. I chuckled bemusedly, and checked the latch thoroughly revealing a door into a rather gaudily appointed bedroom. This was apparently the leader's resting place, and had rather horrid paintings on the walls, mismatched rugs, and a sword in a scabbard that hung over the shabby bed. KelLyn once again identified the weapon as being a cursed bastard sword. The wielder would attack all in an opposing army with great vigor. Fife commented that it was a "suicide" sword, and the description of the curse leads me to believe that the horrid thing should be destroyed. 

We checked the rest of the room, and when we rolled the carpets aside, discovered a trap door. I picked the lock to the portal, and opened the door to reveal a 20 foot rope ladder leading down to a hallway that is only about 5 foot across. This, then, is the way to the next level of the tomb. I closed and re-secured the door, and the rest of the party agreed that we should set this room up as a secure base for the time being. Shalev, Ishmael, and KelLyn worked to move all of the food supplies from the kitchen and pantry into this room, as well as the barrel of water, and one barrel of wine. We cleared out space on the floors, and made a rather comfortable camp using the carpets and bed hangings, as well as other furniture we found there in the room. 

We will rest here, resupply, and then make the decision on whether or not to finish exploring this floor, or venture down into the dark. 

I do wonder, cautiously, at the seeming emptiness of the tomb so far. The groups that we have encountered have been small parties, and I fear that the bulk of our enemies still lie before us either in undiscovered rooms, or below us. For who knows how deep this decrepit tomb delves beneath the odious swamp? The supplies that were in the kitchen, and the layout of the barracks suggest much larger numbers than we have currently encountered. The noise that the party has made has been enough that it should have alerted others to our presence, and yet we remain - so far - unmolested in our explorations, save for those groups we have encountered individually. But why would they not attack? I feel like the bats should also be a clue, but I have nothing in my memory, or in any legend that says what they might foretell