By Beth Griese
Date: February 13, 1999 and February 27, 1999
|(1/2) Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|(1/2) 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:
"(deep voice) There. I'm naked and pleased." -- Stu
"I'd like to dodge the sheep, please." - Beth
"Well, I cleared up his acne." -- Kent, after a (very) low-level healing
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
We fell back into the pattern of life at Weston very easily - with some noticeable changes. Most of all, that everything was bigger. And more crowded. And everybody was looking to us to run everything. We started holding court - an actual court! - to help resolve issues that Jeremiah and the rest of the town's management couldn't deal with. I would never have imagined myself in such a spot, and by myself, I guess I would have been terrible at it. But between the entire Wayfarers, we were nearly unbeatable. Not a con or a lie or a bad idea could get past all of us - or I hope not. It seems to have worked so far.
It was during one of these court afternoons that a strange man in robes came for an audience with us, much to Lorivar's shock. The man was a teacher and a holy man from Lorivar's homeland by the name of Aarhius. He had come for Lorivar's help with a renegade student named Qhyjanoth, the Master of Puppets, who had stolen a book of golems and was going to try to take to planar lords for evil use. It didn't take much discussion at all for us to agree to go with Lorivar to hunt down this Qhyjanoth.
Back on an adventure again, we rode to Tyrluk and a ruined temple site where Qhyjanoth was supposed to be. The basements under the temple were still intact, and guarded by ogres and - what a surprise - golems of every construct and strange power imaginable. We had precious little time; Qhyjanoth's spells would be cast at the temple floor at midnight to call in the planar lords and hand the powerful book over to them.
We hunted down Qhyjanoth, and he made some kind of ritual challenge against Lorivar for an honor duel. They began to fight each other, but tension was cranked high - everyone was expecting a double- cross. So when Qhyjanoth pulled out some special trick he had, Telaran thought he was casting a spell and breaking the rules of the duel. Within seconds, everyone was in the battle, and within another moment, Qhyjanoth blinked out of the room, and had disappeared. We had about nine hours until the book would be handed over and no clue about where to find Qhyjanoth.
We began to hunt through the basement complex of this temple. Verence cast the spell that would help us find traps as we want, and we began searching through rooms full of lavish, neglected luxury. Traps and locked doors were common enough that we began to get a routine; Verence would point out the problems, Nory would remove them, we'd move on to the next dining room or living room or banquet hall.
It worked until we reached one door that wasn't trapped; Qhyjanoth has instead just filled the room beyond it with poisonous gas. As the green, sickly vapor crept into our hall and Nory frantically tried to shut the door again without blowing more of the stuff into our faces, I grabbed at something Richard had spoken to me of, the Shrine priests had cajoled me to do, and you had done before me so many times; I called on Mielikki for power to help. And to everyone's shock, she answered. A fresh breeze blew in the middle of hundreds of feet of stone corridor and cleared away the gas as if it were in the middle of a meadow. What I had always heard could be mine had been granted; Mielikki had answered me as one of her priests. Just for a minor request, but I still felt warm and awed as Nory took the next step to investigate the now poison-less room.
Nory found a hole in the next room, a round shaft that dropped into twilight darkness below. Without a moment's hesitation, he ran over to Verence, handed him one end of a rope, grabbed hold of the other, and dove in the hole. I think the rest of us still must have been a little surprised by the appearance and dis-appearance of the gas, because we all did nothing but watch him do it. I'm still not sure why. Nory ended up dangling above the floor of a room below us, screaming his head off as dead, shuffling zombies headed his way.
I still had, from long ago, a ring that would keep me from falling too fast to hurt myself. It finally came in handy as I jumped down the shaft after Nory, to find him scrambling at the end of this rope to avoid the zombies' swinging halberds. I started cutting my way through zombies while the others began their climbs down the shaft, too. It wasn't until the fight had begun in earnest when I noticed that one piece of furniture wasn't furniture; it was a ventriloquist dummy, like showmen would use in festival squares, but it was moving on its own, like a golem. And it was rapping little sticks, like metal drumsticks, on the floor. What a bizarre sight.
Telaran was the next into the room, but even with his help I wasn't fast enough in getting the zombies away from Nory; one finally connected with his halberd, hitting the gnome so hard he actually folded over the blade of the weapon and was sent flying across the room. And as he fell, things got even stranger: kobolds appeared out of nowhere and began attacking the zombies. At first I thought Nory wasn't as hurt as he was letting on and was casting an illusion, but the blood and other, thicker parts around him weren't illusionary. (Nory explained later, when he was able, that he had cast a different spell to summon help... it just hadn't worked fast enough to save him an incredible amount of pain.)
Verence was the next arrival, thank all the gods, and could do something to help Nory. I made my way towards the dummy - anywhere things are stranger is probably where things are more dangerous, too. The dummy continued to baffle me - now it spoke, looking right at me with painted eyes and saying "belch." It didn't belch, it said "belch." It was getting weirder all the time.
Verence took one look at the zombies, invoked the power of Mystra, and turned them all to dust. I was impressed, and now had a clear shot at the dummy. The dummy spoke again, telling me my sword wouldn't work against him... and he was right. Blades wouldn't do a thing, so I threw down my sword and dagger and decided to see how much damage my fists could do to wood. Telaran joined me and gave a vicious stab with his sword, which I was about to tell him wouldn't work, except that he skewered the dummy like game on a spit. Maybe the fire abilities of his sword gave it the strength against this magic wood.
When we rejoined Verence with Nory, Verence already had Nory back among the conscious, although the floor around his was still very messy, made more so by the fact that five kobolds were now trying to wrap anything resembling a bandage around anything that resembled Nory. (This was when we got the story of how the kobolds had come to join us.)
After a while, the kobolds wandered their own way (Nory assured us they would be transported back from where they had come once the spell wore off), and we went back to our search. The very next room was another strange one; glass domes, like the covers of banquet dishes, set atop pillars not quite as tall as me all around the circular room. Inside each glass dome was trapped a pretty big snake.
Telaran opened one of the far doors to find, much to everyone's surprise, including his, Qhyjanoth. Telaran and I immediately charged, and the first thing Qhyjanoth did was to let out a shout that made my ears ring - and the glass domes shatter. Eight snakes fell to the floor, and four of them died with the impact. The snakes were probably not as impressive as Qhyjanoth was hoping they would be.
Verence called up a fire elemental to attack Qhyjanoth. The fire elemental was called, but then it didn't seem too impressed with Verence's control. Qhyjanoth took off into the next room like a deer. Telaran and I were delayed by a short battle with the out-of-control fire creature. It didn't hurt us before we destroyed it, but it did slow us down. We followed Qhyjanoth's trail into a room filled with mirrors, reflections after reflections after reflections in every direction.
Thankfully, we figure out where a secret exit door was hidden, and though it was trapped, Nory just used a spell to open the door, bring down the avalanche of rocks that it triggered where a person opening the door would have stood, and we scrambled past, hoping to get back on the heels of the evil golem-maker.
We ended up in a luxurious bedroom. Still no sign of Qhyjanoth, but another shaft - this time in the ceiling, and this time I spotted Qhyjanoth at the top, mockingly waving down. I made him rethink underestimating us by drawing my bow from my quiver that lets me keep it strung and letting fly with an arrow before he would have thought a rock could have been thrown up the passage. It gave him some measure of respect, but when Telaran gave me a hand to start climbing the shaft, his face reappeared at the top again. I knew I was in for a rough time. I just hadn't expected how strange the rough time would be.
He dropped something at me. Which wasn't totally unexpected. What was unexpected was that the "thing" was small, white, and fuzzy. And got bigger and fuzzier the further it dropped. Until, by the time it reached me near the bottom of the shaft, it was a full-grown. sheep. I swear by Mielikki's leaves, it was a sheep. I pushed past the rapidly- growing ball of wool, and it continued its fall down the hole and to the floor below, where it died on the impact. The next thing thrown was a goat, and while I was closer to the top this time and the goat was not so big, its horns hurt. The third thing was a bull, and I'm just thankful that I was so close to the top by that time that the bull was still the size of an apple when it flew past me. I had made it to the top, and now Qhyjanoth had too many problems to deal with to drop more farm animals on us.
Qhyjanoth was not much of a fighter, but he was fast, and he had a lot of magic on his side. Actually, he had a lot of non-magic on his side; the first thing he did was to cast a spell that made my armor turn heavy and my normally-bright weapons dull - he had taken away their magic. While Nory reached the top of the hole and dropped a rope down to help the others, Qhyjanoth tried to attack my throat with a vibrating hand punch that, from my time watching Lorivar fight, I knew would be big trouble. He missed me, although later hit Nory's shoulder with it and caused him a lot of pain. (This was not Nory's day.)
Telaran arrived and joined the fight, and we were doing better than holding our own against Qhyjanoth. But then true trouble arrived for the golem-maker. Verence made it to the top of the hole, and seemed to smell that anti-magic spell that was still hanging around us. Verence got a look of righteous rage on his face that would strike fear in entire taverns at a glance, and with one charge and a swing of his staff, he clocked Qhyjanoth across the temple, and the evil magician was put to rest for good. Mystra had claimed her vengeance for Qhyjanoth's blasphemies against her.
Our enemy was defeated, and all that's left now for us is to find this book and return it to Lorivar's master. I'll finish my writing and tell you more as time allows. I remain,
The Jade Letters are the property and copyright of Beth Griese, not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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