Campaign Logs

The Jade Letters

By Beth Griese

Date:   November 23, 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
Telaran 1/2 Elf, Buzz cut fighter Jim Gaynor
Verence Gallow Thin human Mystra Cleric Kent Jenkins

Quote of the Day:
None. Goofiness was confined to non-quotables.

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

And so, in our quest for couatl feathers to satisfy the cravings of an unknown wizard, we faced a long hallway, at least 15 feet high, and at the height of our heads (well, with the exception of Nory's) the walls sprouted huge animal heads. We must have spent 20 minutes looking over those heads, sure that they must contain some mystery for us to unravel, but we were unable to find a thing.

But down one of the side hallways from this one, we caught a glimmer of candlelight that moved as we made noise. We followed it, much to our detriment. Remind me, master, not to be so gullible in the future, because we ran into not one, but two pit traps at the urging of this light. We managed to climb our way over both, but the feeling of first hitting spikes, then having small Nory land on top of me to drive the little jabbers in farther was horrible. Imagine how much poor Borreau suffered when he took the impact of Verence on top of him!

We still followed the light, this time through a rotating door into another hallway, and finally found a trap before we stumbled into it. This one Nory found around a door that the light was near. By now, we were convinced that the light was not a candle after all, but just a free- floating light, like a magician's toy or a will-o-wisp. Nory managed to set off the trap to try to disarm it before we wandered in, but while we had all been expecting something like a collapsing ceiling, instead, this closed the walls on either side of the door and began filling the hallway between with what sounded like sand. Praise Mielikki none of us had been in that doorway when the trap had been sprung! We waited, we cajoled our gnome, but nothing seemed to be able to clear that doorway now that it had been filled. And so we left the series of traps behind and will never know what was behind the door inside. I only hope the light was trapped within, as well.

We followed the next stone hallway, with more traps at every turn, it seemed. But between Borreau's spell to sense traps and Nory's quick work on them - he really is getting much better at clearing traps by stealth instead of by setting them off - we managed to slip through most of them. We found a silver coffer tucked into an alcove with elvish writing around the seal. B'rinth said the elvish word was "open," and when he spoke the word, the coffer did indeed open, revealing a silver fish inside. I'll write more about our fish friend later.

We had already come to the conclusion that the place we were in was a temple of some sort, and we now managed to find some kind of royal tomb within it. Or maybe, instead, the place is a tomb with a temple in it. Well, whichever it is, this was the tomb portion; a huge hall with life- sized clay statues of guards standing throughout it. In fact, the guards were more than life-sized; some had broken to reveal human bones within them. To one side, clay ogres held a sedan carriage, and in the far center of the hall stood a stone dome ten feet high.

We peeked inside the carriage first, and found the remains of a person who had been shackled inside. I think he must have been a sacrifice for the ceremonies that laid the dead here. The more I see of this place, the farther I wish to be from all of Maztica and get back home to my own lands. The dome was a bigger problem. There were no doors into it, and assuming that it was indeed a tomb, we were reluctant to violate it without knowing for certain that the object of our quest - couatl feathers - might be inside.

I wish I could remember whether it was Borreau or Verence who came up with the brilliant idea of using one of their invisibility spells on the dome itself to see inside it, but it worked, and a circular portion of the dome became like a window for us. Magic really does come in handy, sometimes! The dome, indeed, was a tomb. Six bodies laid in state within, and no couatl feathers could be seen. So we were quite happy to, once again, leave a tomb within this place undisturbed. I shudder to think what might have happened if no other room had produced a couatl and we had been reduced to trying to break into the deathrooms we had found. But, thankfully, that didn't become a problem.

It was getting late, many of us had bruises and wounds to nurse, and our spell-casters were nearing their limits for the day. So we decided to rest for the night. I was in favor of returning to the sand-filled room at our backs as a safe haven, but some of the others plopped down right in the midst of the all these clay-covered bodies and propped up their feet for the night. So we stayed there in the charnel house. My dreams that night were filled with death and the dying, and from the looks of us in the morning, not many of the others had fared much better. We did get two good things done that night, though. Verence was kind enough to use leather scraps to make sandals for me, so that I no longer had to watch out for stepping on sharp stones and, in this place, pieces of bone.

And B'rinth studied the silver fish with his magics. To our amazement, he found that it was an elvish magic piece that finds objects. In the morning, all he had to do was set it off, and we were on our way straight for couatl feathers! This fish was a remarkable piece; when B'rinth spoke to it in elvish, it floated through the air, then shot fast as an arrow down a hallway, waiting at the end of it for us. It was like having a dragonfly as a trail guide.

Sadly, though, the fish did not warn us of traps. Borreau stepped onto a tile in the floor that was hollow and broke under his weight. His foot fell through, scraping on barbs on the way down. But the barbs pointed down, so the true danger of the trap was that it held his foot within. Had he tried to yank it free, he could very well have lost the foot, or least most of the muscle that kept it together.

Escaping the trap, with time, wouldn't have been difficult. But at almost the same moment Borreau cried out, we heard a rumbling in the hallway behind us. Something big was coming down it, and it shook the stones of the hall from ceiling to floor. Everyone started yelling and moving at once. I took my hatchet to the barbs around Borreau's foot, which managed to give him room to get out. Thank the stars, the barbs were not thickly built. But in that amount of time, Nory and Verence had also hit more foot traps on their way toward the far door.

By this time, the cause of the rumbling came into view. Rolling down the hall on huge pins was a stone carved to look like an elephant, and it covered the entire hallway; there was no way to scramble onto the juggernaut and allow it to pass by. I leaped to try to free Verence, but my hatchet broke on the stones around the barb. Borreau was trying to free Nory, B'rinth and Telaran were trying to find the other traps to avoid them, the elephant was bearing down on us, and things were looking grim. By that point, with my ears filled with the sound of stone rolling on stone, my only thought was that I would not leave my party members behind, even if it meant falling under the stones with them. But Nory started yelling a spell, his foot still in the trap, and the elephant behind my back began screeching and groaning with the stones around it all the more. Then, to my amazement, the sound stopped, and I risked a glance back. Nory had made the elephant even bigger, so that it wedged against the walls around us and halted. Of course, now the walls looked none too stable, and in the sudden quiet, Nory's only acknowledgement was "Get me OUT of here!"

Get out of there we did, and we quickly marched into the next room. This one was shaped like a funnel, and at the end of the room was a mosaic of a tiger, with a man-tiger guard statue standing beside it. That statue did not bode well to any of us, but of course, our silverfish guide zipped straight for the mosaic it stood in front of.

We stepped softly to the mosaic. The guard did not move. We looked oh-so-carefully at the wall, and found the button that made the mosaic swing open like a door. The guard did not move. We checked the statue one more time. The guard did not move. We looked into the doorway, and found a long hall with a ladder at the end. The guard did not move. We stepped inside the hallway. The guard moved. And with one mind, we all tore down the hallway as if the bears of the north woods were after us. If we could just reach the ladder at the far end, we would have the advantage on this thing.

Did I mention that the guard statue had carried a spear? I hadn't considered it much myself, until I saw him heft that spear, throw it, and the hallway suddenly turned into blinding white. I was thrown an extra five or ten feet toward my goal by the lightning his spear had created. I regained my sight with my face against the stone floors, every muscle aching, and I was one of the better-off ones. Telaran and Nory both lay still on the ground, and B'rinth was actually smoldering. Again, the rest of us didn't even need to discuss our options. We each grabbed one of our fallen comrades and kept up our rush for the ladder. Now, it was even more urgent to reach it; the guard had still not stepped into the hallway, and even if he came in after us, he would find it much harder to pitch his spear up a ladder shaft. We made the ladder as the spear began reforming in his hand, and as we scrambled up it, a second lightning blast crackled against my bare toes, but did none of us any harm.

We stopped at the first landing that the ladder provided, with the fish waiting impatiently at the top. We watched the hallway for the guard's appearance, and we made use of some of those healing potions that our employer wizard had given us at the beginning of this trip. To our relief, the potions were good, and all three of our friends came around. We gathered our wits and our flesh back around us, and I leaned against Borreau to gain some slight relief in our moment's rest. We had come so close to death we could still taste it twice now in twenty minutes. No wonder this wizard hadn't wanted to come get this himself! Maybe we had sold our services too cheaply.

So, with our breath caught and our wits gathered, we finished climbing the sets of ladders to the top. The fish zipped to a door, then fell to the ground with a startling clatter. It would seem we had reached the end. We opened up the door and stepped inside a huge circular room. In the middle of the room was an X-shaped dias. Each branch of the X was a step of steps. One branch had the stone heads of the gods at it's top. Another was covered in bright colors, it's opposite end hidden in shadows. And on the far side, a warrior stood atop the fourth steps. In the center of the X, the juncture of all the steps, was a crystal over a stone obelisk.

When we stepped inside, the door slammed shut behind us, and green clouds began to descend from the high ceiling. A deep, cruel voice boomed out from the ceiling, calling us desecrators, and challenging us to prove ourselves before the gas consumed our lungs. He told us that "the strong must lead, the sly cross the portal, and the wise ward evil."

Telaran and I quickly decided that we must be "the strong," so we tried to climb the stairs. The colors and the heads of the gods we could not pass, but when we reached the steps that lead to the warrior, we easily climbed. When I reached the top step, though, I could not reach the top. It was as if a wall stood in my way, and Telaran was left alone to fight the warrior at the top, who demanded combat to the death with him. Thankfully, Telaran proved that the warrior was no match for him, and suddenly the wall I was pushing against was gone, and we all had gained the top of the dias.

Next, the amused voice told us, the most sly with the best tool had to come forward. We all called on Nory. Well, all of us except B'rinth, who tried to step forward, until I stopped him with an arm. If this test was like our warrior's test, if B'rinth did his usual "investigations," Nory may not even be able to step forward, and then we might all leave our bodies to rest here. Already, my arms were feeling weak. I'm not sure what it was that Nory did, hunched up around the crystal at the top of the pillar, but the crystal parted, and this voice cried out that we must now "trust your gods to make the way clear." The obelisk stood before us.

Verence walked up to the obelisk, and stood there for a moment while we all shouted our best suggestions over our coughing. He calmly pulled out his holy symbol, and simply touched the obelisk with it. And with that simple gesture, the obelisk came apart, revealing inside a huge, amazing creature. We had found our couatl. And as quickly as its wings unfurled from its snake body, the gas cleared, the lights eased, and our breathing calmed as if nothing had happened to us at all.

The couatl thanked us for freeing it. He said that an evil being had imprisoned him here, and had been the one to trap this room. Thinking back, I wonder whether that was the complete truth, but the more important thing was that this creature was grateful to us, and when we asked for four of its feathers, it gave them to us with ease. It also told us that it had some treasures stored under the obelisk that were ours to do with as we pleased as his reward to us. And with that said, the snake creature disappeared from sight.

So now, we must gather our goods, send the feathers to our magician employer, and go to the next quest laid our for us. I'm writing this quickly to catch up before we begin again, while the others are finding out what's beneath the obelisk. I will continue my writing at my next opportunity. I pray that Midsummer's Day comes soon and finds us all in celebration at your home.

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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