Campaign Logs

The Jade Letters

By Beth Griese

Date:   February 3, 1996


Bearded fellow

Supreme Being

Jim Leitzel


Blonde human

Tempus Cleric

Brian Smith

B'rinth L'rea

Gold Elf


Vaughan Herron


Gypsy woman


Beth Griese

Nory Gnome Illusionist/Thief Stu Collins


1/2 Elf, Scruffy Beard


Jim Gaynor

Verence Gallow Thin human Mystra Cleric Kent Jenkins

Quote of the Day:
None. Nada, zip, zilch.

To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful servant, Jade.

The cavern in Cloud Tower awaited us. We were expecting hordes of drow soldiers to fall on our heads at any moment, but instead found a deserted tunnel that seemed to go back into the very heart of the mountain. No, not into the heart, because then it would have stopped a lot sooner than it did. Instead, the road took us to a fork, a three-way split. The middle road dove steeply. The left and right seemed equal to me, but Nory proclaimed that the left one rose slightly, while the right was fairly level. We immediately agreed that up was better than down and took the left tunnel.

The road circled slowly, following the curve of the hill itself as it rose ever so slightly. Sometimes I could barely tell that we were still climbing, but Nory constantly assured us that we were. I suppose it's one of those things you sense after generations in the ground. I hope it's something I never, ever gain.

After quite a walk, the tunnel we were following opened up into a huge cavern, with rock formations above and below us, wet and dripping like new clay. There was a hole in the center of the cave, like the hole a worm makes when it burrows through the ground. That comparison made me nervous, but something glittered down in the hole, and sowe decided to lower Nory on a rope and let him investigate.

I still don't understand the creatures that dropped on us; they were part of the cave, the rock drippings that had formed, but they fell like spears around the hole. There's no doubt they were aiming for us; no other spears dropped anywhere else, and these things tried to gnaw through us or, the ones who missed, crawl back to the walls they had come from. Can stone eat flesh? Could they have laid a trap for us? Whatever the mystery, they hurt Verence badly with their attack, and B'rinth also needed help cleaning the nasty creatures off him, but we were able to clear them away and retrieve Nory without too much mortal danger. My new sword is impressive, indeed! Even stony creatures like these weren't a problem for it. Nory returned with a tiny bauble that had been stuck in the walls and a report that the hole continued farther down than he could see. We left it and the rock monsters that may remain and continued to follow our original tunnel.

The first time you breathe fresh air in a cavern system like that one, you become convinced that wishful thinking has gotten the better of you. I certainly thought so, the first time I felt a breeze on my face. But it seemed we had climbed enough to reach the side of the mountain, because we found a cave with holes in the ceiling that allowed light and air. It would have been a welcome respite, if it weren't for the chilling way the ceiling was covered, two or three thick, with bats. More bats than I've seen together in my life. Of course, it being day, they were sleepy and had no interest in us.

The more immediate problem was the detrius... the garbage... all right, the ankle-deep guano that covered the bottom of the cave. It was nasty stuff, and powdery, so that any step would send clouds of it into the air. The holes in the ceiling seemed to be ideal for allowing smoke to escape, so we decided to set fire to the floor and see if that might clear some of the debris. It worked better than we could have hoped; a fast-burning, low flame that cleared away almost all of the guano, and didn't even faze the bats. We could, after only a few moments' wait, walk freely across the cave.

We found the carefully-placed remains of some travellers, or perhaps adventurers, at the far side of the cave. How they came to be put there, I'm not sure, but all that remained of them now were intact skeletons and some weapons. I've never heard of a little bat draining the life from a human, but it still gave me the chills to look at it. The only exit was a chimney that rose nearly straight up. Nory scrambled up the hole first, with me following, but before I could even get to the top, the gnome was scrambling back down, his dark features as pale as I've seen them. In fact, he was so hurried he fell right onto my shoulders, and only by bracing myself against the walls of the rock did I keep from falling down, too. He said the top of the hole contained a small room with nothing but three of the largest bats he had ever seen. Just the look on Nory's face was enough to convince me, and we all retreated down the chimney, out of the cave, and back down the tunnel again.

It seemed we had followed the left path to its end, so we decided it was as good a time as any to leave the mountain and camp for the night. What a relief to get back under the sky and soft trees! We were attacked again by those scorpion creatures, but the attacks had become almost commonplace. I wasn't evensurprised when Verence poked me awake. When we get back to a city, I think the thing I will enjoy most is a week of uninterrupted sleeping.

In the morning, Verence and B'rinth had a worrisome report; they swore that during their watch, they had seen a mist, like a morning fog, rise from my bedroll, hover above me a moment, then melt into the night air. None of us have any idea what such a vision might mean, and I felt no different than I had the night before, so we have put the issue aside for the time being. I just hope I don't need to remember it later, even though I'm writing of it to help make sure I don't forget.

So, after a quick breakfast and a few last deep breaths of sweet air, we returned to the cavern system with a bit more confidence than the day before. We had met strange things, but nothing to match the guardian at the door, and no drow. Maybe he had been a stray, after all. A silly hope, but one I began to foster. The fact that we found a scorched goblin beside the disturbed drow's head that we had firetrapped actually helped boost our confidence a bit more.

We took the right fork in the road, this time. The first room we came to was a small cave with shiny, metallic objects in the middle of it. You would be proud of us, master, for we seem to have finally learned some caution. B'rinth threw a stone at the ceiling before we entered the room, and the ceiling seemed to ripple. Maybe it was the stones that had dropped on us the day before that helped me remember, but I immediately thought of your story about the trapper, the blanket of flesh that had attacked your party one day and nearly smothered you from above. So we stayed out of the room, shot at the false ceiling, and brought down the creature without a scratch to any of us.

The tunnel continued on until we reached an underground lake, a sizable pool with a stone bridge running across the center. I was as impressed with that pool as with anything I'd yet seen underground, although the bridge made us all uneasy. Sure enough, as we began to cross it, the water beneath us foamed and frothed as something began to rise. We started to hurry, and I suppose Verence tried to hurry too much, because he slipped and fell off the bridge and into the water. As we looked down, we could see the cause of the disturbance, a giant crayfish, as large as a boat and pure white from the lack of sun, rising right under Verence. The cleric, though, turned out to be a good swimmer. I reached the shore where Verence was headed, and shot arrows over his back and into the crayfish to discourage it. Poor Verence couldn't even take the time to look behind him to see what was coming; I can only guess what his imagination was telling him. But he did make it to shore, and we lost nothing more than the few arrows I had buried in the thing's shell.

After that, we followed a steep path up, and found the strangest thing yet. To the side of the tunnel, behind a counter for all the world as if he were in the middle of a shop in Arabel, stood a little gnome-sized creature with wild, frizzled hair and intelligent eyes. Sure enough, it spoke common, and quite well, and we chatted with it for a while. It was a korred, it explained, and his name was Skizzlewizz. He was a trader, and bartered with the creatures in the caverns.

Skizzlewizz told us the middle passage, the one we had avoided so far, was a highway to Underdark, a drow city, and an underground network that could take us anywhere in Faerun we might wish to go. In the path above, he said, lay a goblin warren, much less ominous than a drow city, but still not a delightful prospect. Nory traded some toys with the korred, and I almost garnered a suit of magical armor, until I found out that the suit was less a suit and more a set of lingerie that belonged in Boom's Garden. I did, however, trade two trade bars for a loaf of elven way bread and some of our information. B'rinth and some of the others did some bartering as well.

But for all the back-patting we had done for our caution in the cave earlier, it seems we haven't quite learned enough wariness yet, for when we had finished speaking with the korred, he closed his door and disappeared. As did the door. As did everything we had traded for, including my waybread. Of course, the only thing we didn't lose was the information he had given us, but now who can guess the value of it?

Your faithful servant,


The Jade Letters are the property and copyright of Beth Griese, not to be published or redistributed without permission.

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