My name is Faustus, called Elfborn. My mother, a woman of ill virtue in Nyssia. My father, an elven druid who took a fancy to her. I grew up in the streets. A thuggish boy amongst a myriad of others. Stronger than most, I fared well. I'd have made a good thief were I not devilishly heavy footed.
When I approached the dawn of my manhood and the eve of childhood, such as it is in Nyssia, my father began to take me out into the swamps, into the forests, and into the golden plains. His was the way of nature, and I found it suited me well. But I never forgot the dark side of humanity, for it too is an aspect of nature.
When I grew to a man, and my mother began to age, she married one of her favored patrons. Not a rich man, but stable. It was something she sought. My father had been gone for nearly a year, never having returned from a mission set forth for him by his mysterious elders. He never told me where.
Nyssia holds little for me now. I must make my way in the world. Perhaps one day to find my elven sire. I must find a purpose in life. There is of course the balance of nature to protect and cherish. But I feel a further purpose also awaits.
I recently joined a caravan, working passage as a guard. As I was sleeping, I was struck and stunned. By the time I regained my senses a battle had occurred. Brigands had attacked the caravan. The guards had retaken control, and the bulk of the guards were sequestering the horses to hunt down the thugs.
An interesting band of individuals, adventurers ... just the kind I was seeking as travel companions ... decided to take a handful of horses and wagons. Then to use these to ecort the civilians to civilized territory.
We did so, and travelled long ... resting about fifty feet off the road. The ground shook us, a large quake ... and from the far east could be seen a plume of red light. A volcanic eruption? We suspected something much more mystical. The direction, according to our maps, was toward the Living Wound.
We rested, and morning came. Or should have come. No morning sun appeared, and we saw the stars and moon had disappeared. Not normal cloud cover obscuring the light, but total darkness.
We continued on, coming to a legionaire guardpost. We obtained a supply of poor quality food and continued on. A dense fog came into effect, and ... after a long time ... we realized that we had strayed from the established road. It was no longer the maintained structure, but rather it had become a winding path through the forest. The cleared area along the edge of the road was gone, and forest loomed about us, comfortingly.
We turned around, and tried to to backtrack, but the main road was still GONE.
I suspect that we had made an innocent transgression against one of the forest fae and been sent 'elsewhere'. An effect like a faerie circle, in which time and space are twisted. The other party members suspected more sinister origins, and they may be right.
Eventually the sun came out, a good sign after the time of darkness, and the light was refreshing. As we travelled, we found a stray horse, and saw signs of conflict. A dead guardsman in unknown garb lay in the road, and stray arrows were seen in the dirt ... having missed their targets. A stray riding horse was found. The ranger saw signs of a carriage having passed, being pursued by horsemen.
More brigands. How annoying.
We engaged in pursuit, and caught up with the conflict. A lone warrior was facing down a small throng of brigands, and we raced to their aid.
Apallingly, my new friends attacked with missiles and arrows. About half struck the innocent equines. The callous disregard for animal life. I myself, teamstering one of the wagons, raced forward and ran over one of the thugs. Unfortunately my foot slipped as I did so ... I've never been overly sure footed ... and ran over one of the handmaidens. An unfortunate error.
Finally stopping the wagon, I leapt down ... thankfully not doing a face dive into the road ... and engaged in combat with a brigand. It was a long battle ... man on man, and I took a hit to the chest when I stumbled. Eventually I brought the brigand down. We took a brief moment to render first aid to the horses. And the people of course.
The people turned out to be nobles, and a larger party came racing up, thanking us and taking them into escort to continue on. We, with our slower wagons, followed. We headed toward a distant mountainside town. We made such poor time that we had to make camp before arriving at civilization. Wolves began to circle the camp and one of the horses broke free. It ran into the woods and presumably was slain by the forest brothers. But it all seemed ... wrong somehow.
We arrived at the town, Barovia, and were greeting by the people and the nobles. The ruling nobles were a king, queen and three sons - the eldest of some renown as a fighter. We were escorted to the local inn and invited to attend the marriage of the lone warrior and noble woman that we had saved the day before. We sold the brigands weapons, and divided the funds. We procured an extremely low price, but I suspect that in this land gold is much more common. They did indeed have their own coinage. We obtained 3 gold 10 silver each.
The civilians were finally delivered to civilized land, though not the one to which they had intended journey, and our social obligation was concluded. We took an evening of relaxation at the inn, inbibing in local drink. That was when more wolves attacked ... having moved through the town, and they came bursting through the windows. There was definitely an unnatural evil force driving the poor innocent animals.
We managed to slay them all, though one of the mages was lost in the battle. I was unable to render first aid to any of the animals when they were brought down. None were taken alive.
It should be noted that many civilians were brought down by the attack. And the confusion incurred further losses from 'friendly fire'. I felt less bad about my earlier mistake causing the death of the handmaiden. Of course, I had grown up in the streets of Nyssia. Death was no stranger.
The next day a royal carriage came and took us to the nobles' keep. It was cliffside, about 3 hours journey from the town. We entered, going into a large temple area. An altercation was in progress ... Straed, the oldest brother (not the betroved one), was professing his love to the bride to be. He was saying he was sorry, but that he'd "done it" for her. The poor woman was driven backwards to the edge of the overlook, and plunged to her death. The third brother appeared with guards, and they engaged in battle against Straed. Straed was killed, but the brother also was wounded ... we never learned if he lived or not.
We were told to return to the town in our carriage, when the familiar fog arose again. A sense of deja vu occurrred. And eventually, when we cleared the fog, we saw we were back upon the imperial road back in our home territory. The dark forces (I no longer think fae) who had taken us, had returned us also. A bizarre interlude. On the bright side, I have found a brave and adventurous group to journey with. I wish to see more ... this sad event has sparked my yearning for more adventure.
We rested alongside the highway. And ... again the morning light did not come. The cursed time was still in effect. We continued on, our coachman being VERY disconcerted as to what had happened. We were sympathetic, having had the same experience.
We continued on, journeying in the darkness. We came to a place with light in the distance, which turned out to be another legionaire outpost. However, all the legionaires were gone. No sign of struggle, but the entire place was ablaze. Searching for survivors we found some money, some rations and a few potions.
We moved down the road, and one of the thieves opened some cases which he'd acquired days earlier when the original caravan had been taken attacked by the brigands. A supply of silver, and a magical cloak and gloves were found. Through experimentation we found the cloak, when tied, induced a stealthy effect on the wearer. The gloves improved a person's agility. Not having been in the initial battle, I did not try to make claim to the items, though he was good enough to split the silver with us.
We continued on our way, and heavy marching sounds and light came our way. We moved to the edge of the forest, and an ENTIRE LEGION passed us. They moved purposefully. WHAT was going on? Were they headed to war?
We moved out again, and coming down the road was a much smaller group. One of the thieves moved out to speak to them, and they were Nyssian slavers. The kind I'd worked with and seen at the entertainment houses so many times. Some of our party wished to attack, and we moved up in a chaotic manner. One of the warriors attacked, and we all joined in. Our poor thief front man nearly took the brunt of their vengeance but managed to run back out of danger with but a single horseman chasing him.
Our attacks were deadly, and only one fighter went down ... and I stood over him protectively fighting. In moments they were all slain. The horseman tried to flee, but was brought down by arrow shots. The only loss was some of the horses wandering off. Equines seem especially skittish in this unnatural gloom.
We discovered some silver shortswords, and two magic rings which with trial and error we found added to the wearer's vocal abilities. Not being either the party front man nor a cleric involved in turning undead, I again abstained from attempting to claim a share of magic. I would wait until there was something more useful to my vocation.
We also freed 12 slaves, who had their tongues removed. The cleric hired one of them as a henchman/linkboy. The smell was amazing. Some people take no pride in their work. If one must resort to slave taking, show a little class.
We gave the slaves the clothing of the slavers, and cleaned them up as best we could. The stench imbued wagons (there were 2) were left behind, but we took the draft horses. Having no more room in the carriage, some of the slaves road upon the spare horses.
Our thief front man was understandably angry at our lack of organizational skills. He could easily have been slain had the slavers reacted a bit faster. A note for the future - we need to get a set of code words for communicating our intentions to each other in confrontation situations, and to work on our battle strategies.
We rested ... and in the morning half the slaves were gone. Moving again, we again had an encounter. Shuffling down the road was an undead, whose stench exceeded even that of our new companions. It attacked one of our front horses drawing the carriage, slaying it. And we leapt to the attack. I threw a club, and ... so amazing ... I actually hit with bone crushing effect. It was a good sensation. I NEVER hit with missiles.
The thing still did not drop, withstanding more and more damage, and it bit our ranger who was paralyzed. What kind of horrid thing paralyzes with it's bite? I myself hit it again, and we managed to bring it down.
We found that we'd lost our carriage driver, and four slaves with their respective draft horses. They'd run off. The one horse was dead, but the other ... merely paralyzed ... began to move after a wait. The ranger maintained his paralyzed status. The party, strangely, was opposed to taking horse meat. Rather effete ... not appreciating the rarity of good meat, such as we often experience in the swamps of Nyssia. But ... considering ... I realized perhaps it best to abstain. Had the thing's bite infected the meat? If so, what furthered effect would the ranger suffer? Would he eventually be able to move again?
Shockingly, no one searched the defeated undead and I did so. I found a nice saphire, and a handful of smaller gemstones. I will hold these, as I noticed other members of the party tend to do the same when they acquire items. The good thing is that I am a person who casts 'detect magic' and can discretely look upon the rest of the party when doing so.
We finally came up to what was later found to be one of the outlying villages near to Freeport. It was surrounged by bonfires. And human forms were gathered outside the flames. These ... it turned out ... were zombies. We found a few, then raced our carriage through the bonfires into the village. The fighter stumbled, not me for once, and feel into the fire burning himself and his horse.
We spoke to the townspeople. The zombies had been appearing and eventually the numbers grew too strong, and they began to build the fires. The probably source of the zombies was the nearby cemetery. Why they bury the dead and don't burn or 'swamp' them shows the folly of such sentimentality.
We rested and regrouped, fighting our way out to the cemetery and checked the area for a source of the animations. We found nothing ... we entered two crypts, the thief opening the doors like he had the master key. Beautifully done work.
But there was nothing to be found. We fought our way back to the town, and the fighter again stumbled into the bonfires in crossing. Not to be outdone, I did likewise. Just call me 'grace'.
We decided the best plan of action was to get help from Freeport. We wet the carriage, ourselves and the horses down with water, and raced through the bonfires again. We got past the zombies and began to make our way toward Freeport. Barring mist attacks, it should not be too far away.
We made our way into Freeport. A few minor encounters about which I will not go into great detail. We sold the carriage, and got an amazing price for it. Truly, I spent much of the time meditating on nature, organizing my thoughts and communing with nature. At the end of which, I found I could cast more spells imprinted in my mind by the spirits of nature and life itself. I look forward to using these to aid my friends.
After divying our profits, we each received more money than I'd ever seen before. Not that I have much use for money, but having grown up in Nyssia, I am not so naive as to think it without power. For my own ends, and more important, those of nature itself. The ranger appraised my gems, though of course I shall get a second opinion. These too were very valuable.
The party relayed their interest in exploring the undercity. I myself had heard rumors of the Freeport sewers and tunnels, and in preperation I acquired some freshly picked berries and threw goodberries upon them - stocking up.
We paid a fee to be lowered into the undercity, and this was done via rope and pulley. We ventured down a great hall, and came to a pillared juncture. While the experts were checking for traps and the like, I and another party member checked for secret doors. My friend had no luck, but I discovered two.
We decided to take advantage of this discovered and entered the rightmost egress. This brought us up behind three huge humanoids, hideously ugly and strong looking. We attacked, bringing them down in short order. I was given to guide the actions of our iron thewed but sometimes confused friend Yanno. He proved very effective with his great bow.
The room contained two chests - one filled with coins. Some of the party were for leaving these behind until later, but I myself opted for taking my share along - emptying my pack (lined as it was in preperation for such an occurence with a large sack - a quick switch).
The far end of the room had an arch entering into yet another hall which we later learned joined up with the pillared juncture. Numerous humans ran past, screaming - and being chased by the monstrous huge humanoids.
We launched ourselves upon them, and a prolonged battle was engaged. I myself got in many good hits, and Yanno scored numerous arrow strikes. My newly acquired healing spell and the goodberries were brought into good use.
There was no sign of the humans who'd fled past us, so we retraced our steps and entered the second secret door. One of our scouts entered first, and we followed. He were the cloak of stealth we'd discovered earlier in our adventures, but upon our own entry into the room he was GONE!! We searched, thinking him merely hidden, but he was totally missing. No sign of pit traps, secret egress, nothing!
I shouldn't actually say nothing. There WAS a set of platemail in the room, but when our fighter tried to unfasten the harnesses to try it on, it animated and attacked.
It was an amazingly powerful foe ... it took a multitude of hits before going down. The fighter took the remants, which he planned to have remaid into usable armor.
We continued exploring when we heard noise down a hall. We spied a human shape in the distance, but it resisted a charm person/animal. And ... further on ... was our missing friend. He related fighting undead and finding a room full of wine.
A scream was heard, and investigating we saw a humanoid boy examining a coin upon the hallway floor. He turned to flee, and I cast a Charm upon him, but it was ineffective and he raced off beyond sight.
We attempted to pick up the coin, but it erupted with heat and actually melted a hole sinking into the floor. And a massive bull headed humanoid attacked. We managed to slay it, a powerful beast.
By this time we were bruised and heavily encumbered with loot, so we retreated to the surface. We carried our monies to the money changer, and found their time. And a tidy amount it was.
A few days rest and mediation, and we may make another venture below.
We again were lowered into the labyrinths beneath Freeport. We had hardly gathered our wits when a group of what appeared novice adventurers came screaming toward the entry point, banging on the shields to summon the basketwork crane from above.
Down the hallway came flying two huge winged loincloth clad humanoids, with amazing birdlike wings and wielding exotic long knives. A male and a female. They attacked us, and we were thrown into battle. Their daggers had a caustic poisonous effect, and bundles of animate rope were thrown at us, entangling my associate, the mighty Yanno.
The novice warriors were downed, and our party suffered casualties but we proved victorious. I am again amazed at the usefulness of the Goodberry spell in preparation of our dungeon treks. It is even more easily done now that I have the spell of Plant Growth. A wonderful gift of the mystic power of nature.
We journeyed on and checked the first secret room we’d discovered. Within were four chests. As we investigated, the chests sprouted tentacles and ATTACKED US! It was a long battle, blow after blow being exchanged, but things were destroyed, devolving into clay like protoplasm. Amazing. Exhausted, We retreated and recovered our strength and spells. The cleric, who’d been killed, was raised from the dead by members of his church. We chipped in a thousand gold between us, though had he not been their own clergy they doubtless would have asked for more.
Revitalized, we returned below. In the first secret room this time were dead humans, stripped of gear and even clothing.
We ventured into the second secret room. Another freestanding set of armor was seen in the former’s place. It was motionless. Casting Stoneshape I encased it’s lower limbs in stone and we moved on. We journeyed down a long winding hall, and we encountered a secret room whose far area was encased in magical darkness. We made a mental note to bring magical light spells on our next venture, and withdrew, journeying down the other hall.
Note that our scouts failed to discover some mystical or mechanical warning devices, and alarm devices were heard ringing in the distance. Still, against my better judgement, we ventured down the hall. We encountered another trap, one causing scorching flame. I was unaffected, due to my protection from fire spell, and with search we discovered the trigger mechanism.
Again, we ventured about and came to a room with vile creatures whose claws caused paralyzing effects - taking them by surprise briefly. We sustained more battering, but won out and healed to our maximum. Likewise we discovered the wine room reported to us by our friends solo adventure. One of the party tried some, and was stricken with poison. I cast slow poison, and we continued on after the Ranger and I took a wineskin full each.
We came into a room with a beautifully crafted statue of a woman with a snake like head. From the mouth was seen a spray of loud and sparking pyrotechnics. It is a spell of my own, but one I seldom use. Jokingly, I flirted with the statue, and noticed the effect was caused by a wand stick in the ‘throat’. I removed the wand, thinking that if there was danger it would be of the burning variety, from which I was best protected. The wand calmed now that it was in my grasp.
However, the noise attracted more attention. Two of the Bull men were encountered and a great battle again engaged, bringing them down. The conclusion of which was a blast. Literally. As I was about to search one the wand which I carried exploded. The flame did me no damage, but the concussive force was remarkable. I was badly hurt and bruised.
It was not time to retreat, and we had made our way back to a hallway leading back to our egress. This was when a band of red clad dwarves came upon us. They were threatening in demeanor and I was of the distinct impression they were going to attack. I offered them the wine I’d procured earlier, and they drank. Would they attack? Or wait until we were hoisted in small groups out of the dungeon and attack when our forces were halved? The wine proved successful, and they were stricken with debilitating illness and we retreated to our egress point, some of the party denouncing leaving the dwarves unguarded from attack. Perhaps we should have secreted them in a safe room, or had THEM hoisted up. But I was too exhausted to have such a concept come to me at the time.
So we began to leave, halving our party … the more wounded leaving first including myself. We were half way up when we heard the sound of battle below. The dwarves attacking no doubt. By the time we could be lowered to aid them, the battle will be over.
The remainder of the party returned from below, having refrained from slaying the attacking dwarves, they were eventually separated from them by a spontaneous wall of fire which allowed them time to vacate the dungeon.
We returned to the Inn, and spent time healing up. I was strangely troubled, and when I finally managed to sleep, I was visited by a strange dream. Nyssa came before me and scolded me for my actions. I was made to realize my ’reasons’ for poisoning the dwarves had actually been excuses, and I needed to act in a more honorable way. As a punishment I would be precluded from access to my spells for a set amount of time, and I agreed. Subterfuge such as I’d engaged in was beneath a worshipper of Nyssa.
We divided the accumulated monies, and I deposited the money into my own private account. Into the kitty I put the sapphire, which was appraised at close to what my comrade had estimated. After divvying, I took it back as part of my share. I now have a LARGE amount of money, but nothing really to spend it on. I did purchase a continual light from Zakar’s church.
We descended again into the dungeon, taking with us this time a new cleric met in the tavern above. Again, a reminder of the danger of the place … a human body lay near the entrance. We checked our first secret door, and the room was empty. I asked if we should send the body up to the surface for burial but the party declined. For myself, burial is unnatural - the carrion eaters of the world need nourishment too, but I had thought the party might like to do so. I was wrong.
We ventured in a new direction, exploring winding corridors. Some secret doors were found, including a one way door leading back to the entrance point. Again, there was a darkness area which we did not enter into. Rocks were thrown in, and one clanked against something metallic. We continued on …
We came to a large chamber with vaulted ceiling and 3 massive, majestic statues of ancient lords. I wonder who they were. At any rate, there was a staff innocently laying in the room. I myself was hesitant to touch it, given my incident with the wand. The ranger elected to after having the scouts check the area for traps. As soon as he picked it up, a loud whining voice was heard repeating ‘put me down, thieeeeeefffff’. After a short while he put it down again.
Our rear guard was set upon by surprise. A platemail clad archer was firing a bow at us, and we charged. He was outnumbered and soon dropped … the killing blow splitting his skull and helmet. Our knight was injured.
Further on, a corridor trap was found, launching volleys of arrows at us and I was slightly injured. The trigger was a floor pressure plate, which we jammed with a piece of shattered helmet from the platemail clad archer.
We continued on, and came to a corridor with a series of doors. Our knight opened the first door, and was slammed in the face by a massive clay fist. It was some sort of construct or may haps an elemental? At any rate, we engaged in battle and fought it brining it down. The knight was dropped in his tracks during the fray, and I dragged him out. I took a large sample of clay from the remains.
We opened the next door, and I volunteered to take my place at the point and open it. A horror of stitched together flesh smashed me in the face, and I was sent flying backwards. We again attacked, and it was defeated. Whether construct or undead, it was horrifically unnatural, and I was glad to see it destroyed.
The third door was again guarded by an animated humanoid construct of stone. It attacked, and we engaged in a long battle. The new cleric cast some sort of protective spell, and it ignored him. I yelled for him to check the room beyond. Meanwhile we engaged in a falling back tactic against the thing, and it chased us, smashing through doors but only moving at a shambling pace. I myself went to the corridor trap, and activated it when the thing shambled by while staying close to the ground. It was injured.
Following that idea, the party lead it in a roundabout route to the corridor again, and it itself triggered the trap a second time. By this time half our party had ventured above and the cargo lift had been lowered back again. We got on, and were pulled above, but the construct managed to grasp the edge of our conveyance. We all struck it, and it was knocked back … falling and being destroyed.
Beaten and battered, we returned to the Inn. The new cleric initially said he hadn’t found anything, but clearly had a large sack filled with weapons and some gems. I ‘think’ he was joking, and we divvied the loot. Multiple items turned out to be magical. The platemail clad archer’s two daggers, three of the weapons (2 longswords and a morning star). Nothing I could really use, so as we divvied magic, I declined picks but the fighter offered to give me the ring of charisma. Not overly useful, but an interesting item, and light. One of the party members was arguing that items found privately did not necessarily have to be shared. A dangerous thought when traveling with th .. Scouts. But most disagreed, and we decided to discuss things more at a later time. The new cleric took the armor, having it refitted.
We healed up, I myself unable to help annoyingly. The party was surprisingly supportive when I explained my temporary lack of spell casting ability. They are a good group.
We ventured back in again, going the corridor of doors, and in the first segment we found a small rat. The party was going to slay it, and I persuaded them to leave the poor creature be. We journeyed within and found the end room again encompassed in total darkness.
We followed the rat, now actually having a use for the little fellow … to be tossed in and pulled back from the black void. But it scurried under a door. Within we saw a pouch and some bones. Bone scraps are NOT a good thing, and I looked at the ceiling above the pouch. As I did so, a trickle of green slime fell from the ceiling striking about half of us. I smashed oil upon myself and lit it, being protected from burning from a previously thrown protective spell. The slime was destroyed. The party followed my lead, and used torches to scrape the stuff off. Clad in burning oil, I retrieved the pouch but it contained by scant coins.
We journeyed to one more room, and within we saw a wizard studying. He cast a spell invoking a volley of missiles at us, five in total. We injured him in return, and he invoked some sort of darkness again. Perhaps he is the one creating these annoyances throughout the area. He grasped our knight with flaming hands, these vaguely visible in the stygian effect.
We fumbled about trying to slay him, and he fled. I myself managed to get to his desk, and gathered handfuls of papers, and the candle. The cleric cast a light spell giving him a couple feet of visibility and we searched the room. He was gone.
Our ever cautious rear guard, valiant though he is and mighty liberator, had seen the rat leave the room under the door but not the wizard. I have decided to acquire a bat as a pet at some point … it’s sonic sight will be useful.
As we headed back to the exit, we decided to use the light spell to also try to search the darkness in the corridor of doors. The cleric, on a rope, entered the darkness disappeared. Against my normal instincts, but trying to reform, I and the others leapt into the darkness to aid our friend and we found ourselves in a normally lit area … we had teleported to another part of the dungeon. And, in variation, ANOTHER corridor of doors. But these were not segmented short sections of hallway. This was a long hallway with doors lining the sides. It seems our exit will be slightly delayed.