By Beth Griese
Date: June 6, 1998
|Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|Lorivar Menasson||Short, dark, & hairy||Monk||Vaughan Herron|
|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:
"That's well into the 'doesn't suck' range." -- Stu
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
We were getting ready to make ourselves comfortable in the home of the king and queen of the giants we had beaten when I stumbled on something that made sure rest was still a ways away for us. I was making a merry bonfire of all the vile hunting trophies that were scattered through the royal chambers. As I tore down the tattered tapestries showing some of his cowardly attacks on animals natural and magical, I found a tunnel instead of wall. A very long, very straight tunnel, with no end in sight.
Nory and I decided to sneak down this tunnel and see where it led. We couldn't sleep with it against our backs without knowing who might be coming down it. So we started walking. And walking. And still saw no end in sight. As I was beginning to wonder whether we were going to find any end at all, we saw a flash in the darkness that had closed behind us, followed by a second flash, of purple this time the color of Borreau's sword. We ran back the way we had come - me with a bit more speed than Nory - and found Borreau looking a little singed, and dragging nothing. Literally, he was dragging a nothing; he had his hands wrapped firmly around something and was moving its weight with strain, but it was invisible. He said he hit it by mistake as he was trying to follow behind us and got shocked by it.
Nory started fussing with the box to figure out how to get inside it, and Lorivar and Telaran started hunting in the area where the box was found, so Borreau and I decided to pick up the scouting of the tunnel where we had left off.
Our job took us a lot longer than we expected. The tunnel went nearly a mile, still straight, still without side passages, still dark and with no end. What we found instead was a huge crevasse that cut the tunnel off. We came back to report what we found and get the results of everyone else's work. Nory had gotten the box open and had found some interesting treasure inside this must have been the hidden cache of the king and queen (or maybe just one of them who was hiding it from the other?). Telaran and Lorivar had found a secret door across the hall from the spot the box had rested in, but hadn't opened it.
We decided to leave the secret door for now and get some much- needed rest. Poor Verence was practically hopping from foot to foot, he was so upset at these delays. I never realized how skittish a priest of Mystra can get when he has no magic reserves left. We all went down the tunnel to put the crevasse against our backs, Nory cast his spell to make a warm, cozy hut for us to sleep in, and we got our rest at last.
In the "morning" we went back to the secret door we had found. Personally, I was expecting a storage room of some kind and then to return to figuring out the way across that crevasse. I was sure it led out of this mountain we were in.
Our rescued merchant party was still with us through all this. They mostly kept to themselves, and whenever I caught any of their eyes, they were usually wide as deer's and followed by lots of fervent whispering.
The door did lead to a small room, but it was no storage. Instead, a small fountain ran against the far wall. The fountain was warm, which put a light fog in the room. Above the fountain, over our heads, a giant spear was thrust into the stone wall. While we puzzled over what this all might mean, Borreau cast his spell to find any traps that might be waiting for us. He told us that the door we had just come through was trapped. After a breath of silent confusion, Verence walked to the door. And the moment he came within its threshold, the door slammed shut and melted into the stone. It was if no door had ever been there. Nory even cast a magical open spell to try to break the door free and nothing happened.
So our expected method of leaving the room was gone. But there had to be another way out. We started hunting every possibility. Nory and Verence found that the spear and the fountain's water were both magical, and even identified the water as fire resistance magic. Handy sometimes, but not in the icy caverns we had just been in, and not to get us out of this room. Borreau hefted Telaran onto his shoulders so he could investigate the spear. When he tried to close his hands on the shaft, they sunk through the illusion of the spear, and with that proof to make us look more closely, we could spot within the spear the iron bar that was the real thing stuck into the wall. Just a plain iron bar, tilted up, stuck into the wall.
I got an idea and pulled Borreau toward me, and out from under Telaran. Sure enough, when Telaran hung from the bar, it slowly dropped, and when it hit bottom, we were all turned inside out. At least, that's what it felt like to me. The fog of the room became a fog in my head, and the next thing I knew, I felt the warm breezes of outside air blowing across me instead of the cold stuffiness of those icy caves.
That was the only relieving thing we found in the next hour. We had been magically teleported, no doubt. We were now outside on dark lava rock, inside a deep valley, with huge (giant-sized, again) doors of obsidian black in the mountain next to us. The ground was charred and the valley narrowed down into a pass with smoke rising above us. I started to get the bad feeling that we should have grabbed more of that fire protection water.
Nory used his spells to turn invisible and fly so he could scout ahead of us. I always get nervous when he does things like that, and sure enough, he reappeared some ten minutes later right at my elbow just to see me jump. You're closer to Mielikki than I am, Garen; would She hold it against me too badly if I took a knife hilt upside Nory's jaw a time or two just to teach him why that's a bad idea? It might wipe that smug smile off his short face, at the least.
The news in the pass ahead was not good. It narrowed down to a thin canyon barred by a log gate, with posts manned by fire giants on either side at the top of the cliffs. In other words, an easy death trap. When he had flown high, he could se a city to the southeast with a river flowing through it and more mountains to the east, but no easy markers to tell us where in all of Faerun we might be.
As we were debating possible ways to sneak past the gate, the black stone doors behind us opened. We scattered as quickly as we could, but for once, our merchant friends didn't follow. They stayed, frozen like rabbits, in the center of the valley as three giants - one a monstrous pale blue cloud giant, one the stocky, snow-white frost giant like the kind we had been running up against in the caves, and finally a primitive-looking hill giant brute like the ones who had attacked our castle. It was a strange mix, and all three immediately cried the alarm when they spotted the merchants cowering on the rocky ground.
Lorivar struck first, flying from the walls of the cliffs like a little beetle with a very nasty punch. Borreau, Telaran, and I charged, while Nory ran to the merchants. Borreau was knocked backwards halfway across the valley floor by a club. He popped back up and cast his spell that levels enemies with a word and took down the cloud giant with it. I forgot to swing my blades for a moment, I was so stunned. Telaran and I turned our attention to the hill giant and made short enough work of him. The problem was the frost giant, who had slammed Verence for a loop. Verence ran down the valley, and the frost giant, who I guess decided Verence was his prime target, took off after him. By the time we had the hill and cloud giants down, the frost could barely be seen, and Verence was definitely out of sight (except for the blood trail he left behind).
We all took off after Verence, except for Nory, who had created a safe spot for the merchants that they had to climb a rope into, but they were reluctant to climb a rope that led nowhere they could see. Nory was still trying to cajole the merchants when the giants fell. Nory ended up getting the first strike on the frost giant anyway, though - we rounded a bend that brought the frost giant into sight, even though it was still a good ways ahead of us. Just as I was wondering whether a bow shot would do any good, a ball of fire shot over our heads and into the back of the frost giant's head. It howled something awful, and as I turned my head to look, I saw Nory cast another. I know Nory can't cast fireballs, he's told us many times that if we ever see such a thing from him, it's an illusion. This illusion was enough to convince the frost giant that he was dead, because he dropped to earth with a terrible howl even though there wasn't really a mark on him.
We are now tending Verence's wounds and gathering our wits back around ourselves. Obviously, our time is short now. We need to decide whether to try crossing that gate at the end of the pass, which after all that noise is almost surely alerted, or to try slipping into the mountain doors and hoping there's another exit somewhere to be found. Neither appeals to me, but unless we find a third choice, we'll have to take one or the other on. I'll continue my letters at my next opportunity, I remain, as always,
The Jade Letters are the property and copyright of Beth Griese, not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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