Trouble Brewing

Alain's Journal - Current Studies 3

I figured out how to create a clockwork bomb with help from the Dean.. it’s a little prone to premature detonation, but I think it’ll be fine. Also succeeded at making Lockburst Chalk, and a Blast Patch! The Dean commended me on my skill as an Alchemist, and decided to train me in the specialized art one to one. I can proudly call myself a real student of Artifice!

Still, the pursuit of knowledge never ends, and further power is just in reach. The Headmaster gave me a fair bit of homework to occupy my time here. The first is a classic spell that every accomplished wizard should know.. The Fireball. The second spell is a bit more complex being a Conjuration: Bigby’s Icy Grasp. I should have fun mastering these two.

My alchemical studies include Alchemical Silver, Acidic Fire, and a Thunderstone.

I will also spend a fair amount of time in the University’s library to study Fell Taints, shapeshifting Goblinoids, and any other strange mysteries we have come upon during our travels.

Alain's Journal - Day 20

After an hour of waiting in the shadows for our three new friends, we began to grow suspicious… I nearly had a heart attack when a man in robes of white and gold seemed to spawn from the darkness behind us. He addressed himself as an Avenger of Jihan, the Rhythian goddess of the sun (a daughter of Pelor), and asked us what business we have here. As a gesture of trust, we told him our mission, and he agreed to help us. The avenger was tracking the forbidden ritual-scrolls that the Zehirite priests stole from Soloman the sage. Coincidentally, his trail ended at this plaza; perhaps these students were in way over their heads.

After searching the plaza, Dragonov discovered a hidden portal within the fountain, revealing a staircase going down. Lucious went ahead to scout, and requested some light after slipping in something wet and sticky. My stomach nearly gave out at the sight of gore covering every surface in sloppy smears. We found a hand.. and the ring it wore was the same one worn by one of the three students. Before we could turn back to ponder this complication, the portal shut on us, closing us in the darkness, and cutting us off from our new ally. Calling light from my Orb, we descended..

After what seemed like forever, we came upon an ominous door of jet-black stone, bedecked with carvings of snakes. The handle was set within the onyx jaws of a snake’s head. Dragonov was able to open it, but the jaws clamped down on his wrist, poisoning him. The air within this giant entry hall was thick with toxicity; poison assaulted our senses, and made us fearful of entering the snake-god’s temple. Mustering our courage, we continued forth to bring an end to the evil here. Our first step within the temple was greeted with a Lizardfolk Priest, and 3 sickening Dretch Demons. As we battled them, several of us were injured by a devious trap involving iron stakes shooting up from the floor. Natty was almost lethally poisoned by the priest, prevented by 6 feet of red steel through the lizardman’s chest, courtesy of Lucious.

Three doors lay before us: One of Iron, two of wood, one of which was locked. Choosing the most neutral path, Natty kicked down the locked wooden door, and interrupted 3 Bullywugs harassing two young women in a pool. Disgusted by the scene, we rushed to destroy the foul creatures. The fight proved more than we expected; we didn’t spot the four Blood Hawks perched above. Nevertheless, we slew them all, and freed the prisoners, one of which was the studious young woman from the University. The other is still to traumatized to speak to us, but judging by her clothing, I suspect that she is a priestess of Jihan, captured to please the Serpent deity. We decided to take a short rest and clean our wounds in the fresh water of the pool.

Alain's Journal - Day 19

Continuing from when I was interrupted by the attack of a Black Dragon, we slew the wyrm’s minions, and slew the beast after pushing ourselves to the limit. The dragon was crippled early on by Lucious tearing a large portion of its wing off. The acid-resisting pole Hadish gave us helped immensely, and we made off with the dragon’s bountiful hoard.

We reached Rhythia, finally. I never thought I’d be so relieved to see its minarets once more. Rhona and I helped the others through the unfamiliar streets, and we sold all off our loot at the Bazaar. Immediately after, we reunited Rhona with her father, Soloman, at the Lorekeeper’s Spire. He reimbursed us for the 500 gold Lucious spent to free Rhona, and imparted on us rumors that cult activity similar to that in Thornhold is occurring in the desert city. Soloman showed us a tattered tome with the symbol of The Eyes upon it. No amount of force could open it, and the Lorekeeper suspects that it can be opened with a password; one which only a member of the Eyes could have knowledge of. With some lengthy discussion, we decided to go to the one place where arcane magic is concentrated: The University.

We quickly found private audience with the Dean, and relayed our plight to the wizened mage. He too had heard rumor of students experimenting with forbidden magic, but had no names to tie it to. He agreed to help us by enrolling me in all the classes related to these cultist’s rituals, and the rest of our party hung out on the edges as campus guests, or janitors. It was near the end of the day, when a small group of students sat huddled in the corner of Summoning class, talking conspiratorially. I attracted their attention after some interesting queries during the lecture, and one of them, a studious young woman, approached me and offered to partake in an experiment they will perform tonight. I accepted, and we all set out to meet them late, by the fountain in the plaza. First, we needed to by a basket of fruit for the ritual.. strange.

As we finished purchasing the fruit, I spotted a shadow flitting in an alleyway. Curious, we investigated what it was. As I bathed the alleyway in light, we were beset upon by nearly a dozen starving Kenkus! We left the alleyway alive, with no real injuries aside from a self-inflicted gash on Dragonov’s leg.

We’re at the plaza now, and we’ll be meeting the students in an hour or so. I’m glad this coffee-house stays open late, I needed something to keep me alert. I forget how rare coffee is outside the desert, because the others are tasting it for the first time… it’ll probably be best if I meet them alone, and the rest hang back and watch.. and wait.

Alain's Journal - Day 17

A heat wave settled over Blackjaw Swamp today. It’s so humid, I can hardly breathe. Just one more day until the golden spires of Rhythia will be in sight..

As dawn broke, a shaft of sunlight refracted through the crystal on the mysterious pedestal. It twisted the light into the shape of a crescent moon, projected on the ground nearby. After a while pondering, we set about digging at the spot, and discovered a stone sarcophagus holding the remains of a noble knight. All was ruined and rotted, except for the knight’s sword. The moment Nattie held it, the dust sloughed off the weapon as frigid cold energy coursed across the blade! Paying respects the the fallen knight, Nattie swore to honor the blade in the former owner’s name.

Early in the day, we ran into a group of merchants on their way to Hunun. Their wagon broke down, and none of the merchants could get it up and running again. With the aid of Dragonov and Nattie, the merchants were able to continue to the village, and they rewarded us with a sack of gold. Not long after, Lucious spotted something gleaming in the root tangles. It was a golden shield emblazoned with two snakes. With a heroic show of strength, Nattie wrenched the shield free, and was satisfied to discover it had magical properties! (Flamedrinker Shield)

Later on, we stumbled on a camp of 30 desert raiders hiding in the marsh. Carefully and slowly we slipped passed them unnoticed, taking some valuables with us.

An hour later, we were ambushed by a 12 foot tall Ogre! Before any of us could react, all we heard was a tremendous crash and a sickening wet sound… the Ogre lay dead, impaled on a jagged tree stump. Lucious had tripped the brute at the last second, turning what would have been a serious fight merely a scare.

Not long after that, we followed the sounds of clashing steel, and spied a deadly duel between two desert warriors. I recognized the sigil of the Malec-Keth Jannisaries on one of the men, and we distracted the other man long enough for the Jannisary to strike the killing blow. He later introduced himself as Hadish the Bold, a former Jannisary and errant adventurer. He gave us a healing potion, and a receipt with his signature on it, telling us to take that to Ahmed’s Armory in Rhythia. Who knows what that interesting man has for us in the city? I have always been fascinated by the Malec-Keth Jannisaries, the elite soldiers of the Sultan and the Lorekeepers. It is said that they are trained by the Efreets in the City of Brass, and seeing the skill and discipline of these warriors, I don’t doubt it.

Hadish also gave us a spear-like object that, if thrust in the ground, will emanate an aura that protects against acidic substances. He said we would need it for the dragon that haunts the last stretch of Blackjaw. I really hope we don’t need to

—two strange humanoids wreathed in shadow have just approached us.. they have asked to lay down all our possessions as offering to their master.. Lucious has just threatened them with death, ookay how did that new ice spell go

—oh my…

Alain's Journal - Day 16

Today we left the jungle and entered the Blackjaw Swamp, a dismal, sludge-filled marsh caused by the river delta that runs through the desert. We found a chest today pinned underwater by a fallen tree. Natty showed off his muscles by moving the tree aside, and Lucious used his 6-foot “lockpick” to open it. Always nice to find free gold!

However, being ambushed by two Ankhegs and their broodlings was not nice. After we exterminated the lot, we found some past adventurers who were not as lucky, one was wearing a shining suit of magic chain, which Dragonov relinquished with much pleasure.

Later, we spotted a sapphire atop an ancient battle-standard thrust in the ground. Good thing I spotted all the poisonous spores on the ground, or we would have walk through it to get the jewel. Natty braved the spores and came back with the treasure with only minor swelling.

As the sun began to set, we came across a ramshackle hut in the marsh, the windows lit with eerie green light. A beautiful, albeit crazed looking woman regarded us at the door. As we approached, we could plainly see that she was in the process of dragging a heavily drugged girl into her domicile.. for experimental vivisection as she plainly admitted.. Seeing the many signs, I realized that this was no ordinary woman, but a Hag wearing a young woman’s skin! I advised not to invoke her ire, but to instead persuade her to let the girl go. She made a big fuss, but decided to trade her for 200 gold. A small price to pay; I will remember this place so I can return when I am stronger. This dark magic cannot go on, the whole area stank of necromancy. That night, we settled camp on a patch of dry ground. The girl introduced herself as Rhona, a noble’s daughter from Rhythia captured and traded off to that horrible hag. She’s got a lot of spirit, and is very intelligent; I admit that I could not take my eyes off of her.. it took all my concentration that night to not break my vow of celibacy. The last thing I need is a beautiful girl accompanying us, giving me unwanted temptations that if surrendered to, would break my marriage to the Art and cripple my power. I’ll just ignore her, for both of our sakes.

There was a tall pedestal in our camp, with an inscription on it. Dragonov deciphered that the crystal atop the pedestal would reveal the answer to the inscribed riddle. We’ll see about that, for now I should rest, and try not to think about women.

Alain's Journal - Day 15

It was early today that we were ambushed by a band of foul Bullywugs again. After the struggle, we interrogated the dying mudpriest, and he told us upon his last breaths a horrible truth: the Bullywugs are being led by a group of Lizardfolk who are going to summon a demon into the world. Following the tracks of the frog-men, we searched for the site of this ritual.

Not long after, we approached a massive tree, its roots a gnarled fortress over a man high. We nearly passed it, when suddenly a team of Bullywugs leaped out from the roots, accompanied by a disgusting centipede 6 feet in length! With the beasts dead at our feet, we discovered a tunnel leading underground at the tree’s roots. As we delved this dungeon, we fought more of the frog-men, and a handful of vicious Lizardfolk. Following the sound of chanting, we espied the Lizard mage in the final stages of the summoning. He was surrounded by allies.

Without hesitation, Lucious quick-stepped into the chamber and cleft a Bullywug in twain before the others knew what was happening. We were too late to prevent the summoning, and the Lizard mage gave us a reptilian grin as the Runespiral Demon floated menacingly behind him. The entire chamber was a storm of electricity and fire as we fought the creatures. It was Lucious who killed the demon, sundering its shell in a single blow and impaling its body with his radiant blade. There was nothing left of the fiend… we may have saved many lives today. Hooray us.

That night we heard bootsteps crunching through the undergrowth towards our camp. Prepared for the worse, we were relieved to hear a calm voice hail us, and request our succor. Out of the darkness, emerged a large Dragonborn, armed and armored, introducing himself as Dragonov, adventurer and military tactician. Sensing no danger from this new ally, we invited him to accompany us to Rhythia, and he gladly accepted, relieved to not be alone in the wilds anymore.

Alain's Journal - Day 14

In the morning of the last day before reaching Blackjaw Swamp, Lucious and I decided to scout ahead. I still don’t quite understand why I decided to do such an idiotic thing, because we payed for it. The two of us fell a good 60 feet down a narrow chasm that was obscured by the undergrowth. Luckily the chasm was narrow enough for us to grab handfuls of root on the way down, turning a most unpleasant death into a light battering…

While Warryn and Natty went off to find something to pull us up, we noticed that there was a cracked and dirty stone door set into the overgrown earth. Walking in, we were beset upon by a clutch of Kruthiks nesting in the root formations dominating the cave. After the struggle, we found a chest; with difficulty, Lucious forced it open to find a good amount of gold and some healing potions.

Continuing along a torchlit tunnel, we enter a two-level cave; the higher level ringing the lower and accessed by rough stone steps across the room. At the top of the steps, we encountered a pair of vicious Kobolds with crude spears. They proved no match, until the bones scattered across the lower level animated into a pair of undead Skeletons! After the bloody battle, we searched the cave and found a key to the large stone door barring our progress, and a curious magic Orb flush with crimson energy swirling in its core.. a most fortunate find.

After following polished stone steps upwards for a time, we entered a semi-circular chamber of marble.. some sort of gallery full of paintings, urns, and various curios. Skittering down the room from another set of stairs, 5 kobolds tried to kill us, and did not succeed. The last two kobolds succumbed to the sinister power of this new Orb… both kobolds were bleeding and battered, and suddenly the orb started to call out to me. I answered that call, and the crimson energy turned black.. suddenly both kobolds expelled huge torrents of blood from their wounds, killing them in most gruesome fashion.

Among the old and ruined items in the gallery, Lucious pulled out a gleaming blade, its steel laced with crimson. It held a wicked sharp edge, and coursed with magic power. Pleased with his find, Lucious led the way up the steps to the surface.

It seems that this was an old tower, for the steps led to the middle of the what would have been the tower’s main chamber. All that remained of the structure was a ring of stones, and some disjointed walls. The soil beneath us began to churn, and we quickly hopped away from an emerging figure. Out of the hot earth a blazing skeleton dragged itself up. Lucious engaged the flaming undead assured by his resistance to heat, and his new weapon. I dispatched a swarm of kobolds that thought to take advantage of our distraction; the puny scratches of the kobolds only fueled the fires of Lucious’ retributive power, making short work of the fiery undead.

Drawn to the sounds of battle, Warryn and Natty found us resting from our nice little detour in the blasted jungle. I can’t wait to sleep in a bed, and eat some real food.

Alain's Journal - Current Studies 2

I’ve finished everything from my last entry! What luck to find the volume I needed on that despicable Gnome’s bookshelf.

So far I’ve been trying to decipher a scroll I bought off the cartographer in Hunun, it’s an offensive spell manipulating cold energy.. it might be a while until I figure it out.

Orin had quite a lot of goodies in his workshops. I’ve been busy studying his texts and examining the various components. So far I’m working on a sort of blinding bomb, a concentrated poison, a flammable tar-bomb, a muscle-stiffening oil, and an ectoplasmic dampening oil. Also, I’m still working on that dratted Herbal Poultice.

Fell Taints, and entities associated with them: The Eyes were planning on bringing something into the world, possibly from the realms beyond the fabric of reality. I hesitate to delve into such insane lore, but it must be done soon.. I would prefer doing it in the safety of the university.

Alain's Journal - Day 13

Nothing exciting today trekking through the perilous Rhythian jungle.. except for a near fatal encounter with the local wildlife.

Apparently we encroached on Bullywug territory, and we were forced to lay waste to a squad of the vile Toad-men. To make things worse, a mobile predatory plant came out of the brush and joined in the havoc, and soon after the fight a dreaded Cockatrice attacked us, drawn by the blood and sounds of battle. I suffered several vicious wounds, which Warryn healed. Regardless, tonight I have gained a sort of enlightenment after my near-death experience. I feel an untapped energy flowing through me, and a new sense of vigor. Tonight I will work on my current studies; I have a good feeling about them.

Alain's Journal - Day 12

Fresh off the boat from Thornhold, to the village of Hunun. It’ll be a week-long trek along the Jungle Road till we reach Rhythia...

I can’t believe I’m back here again. I was just here less than a moon before, thinking about how glad I was to return home. I come back to Thornhold after 4 years, and within 3 days I’m back on a boat.. back to Rhythia. I didn’t even get to see my family, or the University. Hopefully this trip won’t take that long, so I can do what I originally set out to do.

We start our hike tomorrow.


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