The Nightmare Plague

Night at the Tavern
A glimpse through Gillian's eyes

She sat across the table, staring down this new addition to their party. Gillian was never one for being rude, but there was something in her that just didn’t trust him. That didn’t stop her from liking this feeling, but still!

She sipped at her mead as she stared leerily. The stranger looked over and caught her eye and then smiled at her. This caught her off guard and she found herself smiling in return. Then she remembered herself and the smile turned into a forced scowl…

So much had happened in the past few days that it felt good to be sitting in a safe tavern surrounded by people. In the morning the party would continue their adventures to rescue their ordained leader, Sable, from the clutches of a very angry clawed green monster from the trees. For now, it was their duty to rest and conserve their strength.

The gentleman who had recently joined our ragged band of travelers had been performing in the tavern as the party arrived. Stumble was the first to notice the large emerald ring he wore and the dwarf waved the man over. We’d been informed that this newcomer was sent by Norville Smedley on a quest to find strings to a magical harp. However, the lackluster lad had yet to make progress in that venue and decided to take up safety in our larger numbers.

Around the table that night, the travelers retold stories of their recent adventures. The most recent involved a band of ghostly pale humanoid creatures who seemed to plague the forest outside of this current city. As the party rehashed the tragic loss of Sable in battle, the bard then stood and shared, quite charmingly, the tale of “the corruption.” The root of which could be dated back to about six months prior, just before the plague of dreams begun to haunt them.

Weary and worn down, and still not all in the tip of health, the party bunkered down in a local tavern for the night. In the morning they would once again begin their adventures after regrouping supplies and paying another visit to the two temples located in the Village for healing and information.

Gillian had finished helping Stumble off with his armor and then found her way to her own bed. Sleep was not a welcome function to the young woman anymore. She longed for a time where the simple act of closing her eyes didn’t frighten her. But she was getting better and more skilled at controlling herself in both this world and the dream world. Besides, now she had friends in both.

And she drifted off to sleep, she thought about each of the members that made up her party. She was grateful for their company, no matter how tense and difficult traveling together seemed to get. Traveling through this life is difficult enough without knowing that the nightmares are real and coming for you. This was a journey no one should have to take alone.

She promised herself that she would find Sable soon. If he was still alive, he would be all alone. That was a thought she couldn’t bear.

She forced her eyes closed and thought of tomorrow.

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Deeper into the caves
Arachnophobia

With the goblins cleared from the cave, the party cleared the blocked passageway into the unworked section of the cave. The sickening smell of vermin wafted up. After they lit their torches and lanterns, they moved cautiously ahead until they came to a four-way intersection. Gillian pulled out her familiar (who’s been with her the whole time!) and sent the friendly rodent down the left passageway . . . only to discover that it went pretty endlessly into the bowels of the earth.

So they set off down the middle, feeling their way along the rough watery walls, until they turned a corner and spotted some large egg sacs.

The party pondered what to do about this and eventually settled on burning the sacs, which of course released a huge swarm of fully hatched and dangerous spiders, heaven knows why they were still trapped in the egg sacs or why they didn’t burn up when the egg sacs were lit. (Brian, feel free to edit out my sarcasm here!) (Of course, the party was probably getting off easy considering that apparently insects burn like charcoal.)

The spiders began nipping at the paladin, and when Gillian tried to help, she got caught in swarms, too, which made her feel a little sick. Fortunately, the brave cleric of Moradin summoned a Great Farting Beetle With a Bad Case of Acid Reflux, which sprayed the spiders with acid out of its rear. Meanwhile, our leader and Gillian continued sticking their torches in the faces of their hundreds of enemies.

When Gillian and Sable repositioned themselves around the corner, Rabbit found he wasn’t terribly useful against spiders except as bait, but fortunately he got out with just throwing up a little bit and wasn’t bitten. Sable picked him up and tossed him away from the swarm, and a second beetle came down from the heavens to mark its territory all over their multilegged butts.

With the swarms dispatched, the party explored the cave further, finally coming to a massive pit. Gillian cast Light on a rock and threw it across the pit, and it stuck in what turned out to be a web strung as far up and down as the eye could see. Lucien didn’t really want anything to do with it and manufactured a fire arrow, which burned the web. A few moments later, and black bundle fell past where the party stood.

After a few moments, Gillian lit another rock and dropped it into the pit. They counted one . . . two . . . OMG A BILLION EYES . . . four . . .

and prepared for battle with the massive spider.

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Summary- Bulleted Version

So much has happened since our last posted adventure:
• The party entered the Goblin cave under a cloud of obscuring mist and darkness.
o They ran into several more large wolf-dogs that were locked behind a cage.
o They came upon three drunk goblins on a cliff, killed them and then stole their weapons.
o Esmir, under the fantastically creative guise of being a savior of sorts to the goblins, persuaded them to act civilly enough for the rest of the party to make their way through the beautifully dwarven-carved entrance door
• The party entered the large entrance door:
o A hallway led three directions
o To the left hallway, there was a large, ornate door up the hallway. The party found this to be an abandoned and desecrated temple of Moradin. Stumble vowed to restore the temple just as soon as the party had rid the space of Noaak.
* Here the party also found a spring of water that had healing powers, and several stocked up hoping this effect would last. (It did not)
* Also, by happenstance, they found a latch in the altar which opened to an empty case which appeared to hold both a sword and a helmet. The goblin slayer and the goblin king.
o Further down the hallway, there was a barricade littered with bodily fluids and torn fragments of cloth and stone. In goblin was a sign that said something along the lines of ‘DO NOT ENTER. EVER.’ The party believed that there is an arachnid-like creature hidden behind this barricade. They left the scene for the moment, but some wanted to explore later.
o When they went right, they were confronted by a giagantic goblin-like creature in his sleeping quarters. Some quick sword strokes, grappling and spellcating later, the creature lay dead.
• Having explored the lengths of both hallways to the right and left, The party continued what would have originally been ‘straight forward’ from the main entrance door:
o To the right, a closed door appeared to have several voices coming from the other side. Lucian heard those voices, decided it could be a potential threat, and jammed the locking mechanism so that no one could get in or out.
o At the end of the hallway, there was another door.
o Before that, there was another door so the left that contained one goblin who seemed to be cooking. Some of the party members checked out this room and found it to contain a pantry and a storage area, and one very confused looking goblin
• Going through the door at the end of the hallway:
o The party found 4 goblines sitting around a table. One of which happened to be wearing a helmet/crown type thing that looked about the size and shape of what would have fit in the altar back in the Temple of Moradin.
o A battle broke out and three of the 4 goblins were killed. The last one, the ‘Goblin king’ was named Darax. Stumble, Sable, and Gillian wrestled him as peacefully as possible to the ground. Stumble took his helmet as rightful dwarven property.
• Several members of the party searched the rest of the room. It seemed a normal bedchamber except for the door at the other side.
o There was a brief encounter between Gillian and Sable at the door while everyone was searching the room and trying to find useful clues. This ended in Gillian opening the door.
• The door opened to a stone staircase leading down into the darkness.
o After a quick jumble of haphazard plans of action, The party grabbed Darax and kicked him down the staircase (afterall, that’s who the voice was asking for)
o Rabbit sent lights out into the darkness to see what was there.
o Something large was flying around very quickly.
o Lucien, stumble, Sable, and Rabbit walked into the open expanse of space, while Esmir and Gillian creptd around a corner, where two tied and bound prisoners were chained to the ground.
• “The Battle of Noaak”
o Rabbit’s dancing lights proved incredibly valuable in the battle of the mysterious monster.
o Stumble, Lucian, and Sable seemed to take the brunt of the attacks while Esmier and Hasingstoke freed the prisoners.
o Rabbit and Gillian, however, stayed clear of battle as much as they could and searched for the dream-faring scepter
• The scepter:
o In a pile of gold toward the back, Gillian and Rabbit found the scepter.
o Noaak noticed.
o Gillian claimed that men do not know how to use the scepter, only women do. (meanwhile, she had grabbed a chage-purse in her left hand.) She convinced Noack that should could show her how the scepter worked, she just needed to touch her hand.
o The monster was trapped in the change-purse and Gillian forced herself to sleep, clutching the change-purse and the scepter.
• Meanwhile:
o After the monster disappeared, Esmir led the dividing of the gold.
o Hasingstoke presented the two prisionsers: the female owner of the Good Sellers business, and her personal body guard.
o Several items were in the pile of gold which were also divided between the party.
• Aftermath:
o Stumble convinced the party to go back to the temple and replace the helmet and sword (where they rightfully belong)
o On the way back:
* Some of the party decided that it would be best to ‘free’ the goblins trapped in the door that Lucian had previously jammed. With a combination of ripping the hinges off of the door, Stumble wearing the Goblin King helmet, and Esmir’s amazing diplomatic skills all of the Goblins were freed and left the cave.
o At the temple:
* Gillian and Stumble placed the sword and helmet in the altar.
* This opened another part of the altar which contained several religious items and a very shiny set of armor, fit for a dwarf. Stumble shed his armor and got suited up in the new stuff.
* The party rested for the night, several had important dreams
• ‘Sable- Knight of the Emerald Order’
o When Gillian awoke, she had a message in her hand for Hasingstoke. Hasingstoke opened the scroll and it was from Queen Catharine marking Sable a Knight in the Emerald Order and defacto leader of this party.
• As the party was about to leave, several were reminded of the large arachnid-like creature behind the barrier. Sable had almost been convinced to leave, however he realized that leaving the creature alive would mean whomever we sent back to this cave would be sent into immediate danger.

The party moved onward toward the barrier. It was destined to be another long day.

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Into the Goblins' lair
. . . and out again . . . ?

After a brief but hopefully nonserious discussion about leaving Gillian to her fate, the party charged in after her . . . only to come to the anticlimactic realization that the large carvern into which they stumbled throgh the mist was silent and did not appear to contain any danger.

The party set up some dancing lights and lit their lanterns, ever watchful for the least sign of danger . . . which Stumble found in the form of three alert, but caged, worgs at the southwest end of the cavern. The creatures seemed content to let the party go about their business without disturbance for the time being.

Meanwhile, during an investigation of the east end, Rabbit and Gillian discovered three sleeping watch goblins. Gillian, Esmir, and Lucien “incapacitated” the goblins as quickly as possible just as one was waking up from his drunken slumber.

Emboldened by their success, the party crept closer to the bearhide curtain covering the doorway deeper into the caverns. Esmir scrambled up the slippery ramp and listened at the door: There were some goblins on the other side, but they did not seem to be aware of the party’s presence.

Esmir pulled himself up to his full height, screwed his courage to the sticking place, and walked through the curtain. Using bits of the overheard conversation to advantage, he declared: “I’m an agent of ‘The Hand’ sent to save you from Noaak!”

The party listened briefly to a conversation (not a fight!) in Goblinygook, and then got a little impatient with the proceedings and rushed through the curtain, weapons drawn, to find three very scared goblins who’d been disturbed in the middle of a card game. After a surprisingly inept attempt by some members of the party to skewer said goblins, Rabbit managed to convince the party that the goblins weren’t a threat at the moment, and Esmir told them to get lost, which they did.

A huge door of Dwarven manufacture made the party even more curious about the goblin tribe (and one particular member of the party feeling very vengeful!). They made their way down the corridor, checking as they advanced for sneaky goblin traps

. . . and soon came to a desecrated dwarven temple.

Stumble was understandably a bit upset by this.

The party tidied up just a little bit, and in doing so found two interesting things: A ruined healing fountain under a broken statue, and a secret drawer in the altar that looked to hold a sword—almost certainly the one Gillian was carrying, and perhaps a helmet or crown.

Across the hall, meanwhile, Gillian, Esmir and Lucien had discovered a trap on a door the hard way. The healing fountain came in handy for this.

Down the same corridor, where the workmanship got rougher and rougher until it was natural cavern again, was a pile of rubble with a dangerous buggy smell beyond. The party declined to investigate this further, heading back up the passageway and straight to the door of a mutated, huge goblinoid that was very unhappy to see them. It hefted two huge axes, but some quick thinking from the party with grapples and a grease spell disarmed and restrained the creature. Dispatching him from there was, in the end, not difficult.

The party made its way deeper into the caverns, discovering the kitchen (more paprika!), and what appeared to be the barracks—And Lucien jammed the lock on the door to keep the numerous goblins in their place.

Finally our adventurers came to the last door in the caverns, behind which they knew they would find the goblin’s commanders. They prepared themselves, readied spells, and kicked open the door, arrows and spells flying, charged into battle, and made short work of the flower of goblin foot soldiery (which granted wasn’t very sophisticated). The goblin chief happened to be wearing a very nice helm of dwarven manufacture, which read “Goblin King.” This was without a doubt the helm to match the sword’s place in the dwarven altar. They tied up their captive chief and tossed him down the stairs into Noaak’s chamber.

Then the creature spoke in a frightening voice, cowering a few of the less hardy party members. But our heroes were not to be deterred. They walked down the steps into the creature’s lair.

Noaak, they discovered quickly, was a huge winged shadowy creature that looked like someone’s erotic dream gone horribly, horribly wrong. A beautiful woman’s body, but with the head and wings of some gigantic demon, it swung an axe as big as Sable and nearly took his arm off as he made his way into the cavern.

While the party’s strongest fighters confronted this horrible creature, Gillian and Rabbit snuck past(employing some magical distractions along the way) and found a pile of loot that no doubt came from the sacked caravan the party was searching for. They began tearing through the pile.

Meanwhile, the fighters were taking apart Noaak piece by piece, but the creature’s flight and exceptional strength, coupled with a fearful presence, made their success less than certain. Bringing to bear all their skill, though, they greatly wounded the creature, which retreated momentarily into the darkness above.

At this moment, Rabbit at last laid his hands on the scepter the party sought. He glanced back and forth between the monster, the scepter, and Gillian and quickly decided to hand the artifact over to the “herbalist”. Holding the scepter out in front of her, she called to the dream monster and declared that she could show “her” how to use it.

The monster was intrigued, and for the moment, the party seemed safe from further combat. It reached out its hand toward the scepter . . .

And Gillian trapped it inside a vessel, in this case a random coin purse that Gillian had. Rabbit cast sleep on Gillian to send her to the dreamscape, where she left the creature. The danger was passed.

Now the party was free to ransack the massive haul from the caravans: hundreds of gold pieces, some magic items, and other supplies. The party split some of the treasure but intend to send the rest back to town with the human captives.

Stumble reclaimed the Dwarven crown from the lead goblin and used it, along with some intimidation from his companions, to convince the rest of the goblin population to abandon the Dwarven compund that they had taken for their own.

Finding himself a bit stronger and more confident in his abilities, Stumble decided to give the Consecrate ritual a go in the temple, and found that he was able to cast it, Moradin be blessed. After a brief contest of wills, the goblin slaying sword and controlling crown were returned to the altar. When they were in place, Gillian heard a click and discovered another compartment below the altar. A beautiful suit of Dwarven armor, a mithral holy symbol, and a journal were discovered. The book detailed the how the Dwarfs who built this place had discovered an “evil from below”.

During the night, Gillian recieved a scroll from Queen Catharine in her dreams. The scroll was a Royal Decree to Lord Hasingstoke, instructing the noble to grant Knighthood upon Sable, creating him the leader of the Emerald Order.

The party again discussed checking out the rough buggy passageway beyond the temple . . . which might be necessary if they decided to maintain the caverns as a base of operation.

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What's The Plan? I thought you had it!
Wait... Where's Gillian?

After more heated deliberation as to the most effective plan, the party seems no better off than they were to begin with. Each party member seemed to have their own idea of how best to retrieve the scepter. Rabbit, in favor of a more diplomatic approach tries to think of possible other points of entrance. Some others agree that may be a viable solution, but still prepare themselves for the possibility of having to enter the main archway. As Gillian sat quietly listening to Esmiere translate back and forth from the party to the goblin, she suddenly had an idea: if we don’t want to go in, how do we get them to come out? Sable and Stumble, seeing the idea of ‘fire’ on her mind, abruptly scolded her against such ideas. But that gave Lucien a thought: a distraction outside might not be such a bad plan….

Sable finally decides that we must get closer to the opening of the cave before any conclusions can be met. Lucien scouted the way into the forest to a mostly secure area to set up camp (sans a fire) where the party could rest, heal, and re-study spells if needed. Watches are set up and the night passes mostly uneventful.

In the morning discussion resumed. When suddenly another thought came to Gillian: The Goblins don’t just attack from the ground… Immediately, the others catch on and start scanning the trees for possible Goblin ambushes. Their searching proves fruitless, as no goblins are hiding in the trees above them. Sable once again proclaims that nothing further can be decided until we physically see the entrance to the ‘Howling Hill’.

There is a brief discussion as to what to do with the captured goblin that the group has been toting with them, and it is decided that he must be left at the camp, bound and gagged, for the sake of all of their safety. Rabbit remarked on the inhumanity of such actions, but his protests fell on deaf ears as the rest of the party wasn’t willing to free the goblin.

Lucien scouted ahead and led them very easily to the mouth of the hill. Sure enough, the ‘Howling Hills’ lived up to their name as the party experienced a howling sound from the wind gusting across the side of the hill wall. The air around the party, however, seemed oddly still.

Stumble and Sable began discussing possible magical solutions to the seemingly bleak situation before them; while, Lucien, with Rabbit trailing behind him, began to sneak closer to the opening of the cave. Suddenly an arrow shot through the air straight into Rabbit’s back. Lucien spotted the fowl goblin attacker in a tree and shot at him. Then, a giant wolf charged through the cave and stared us down. Sable aimed at the goblin in the tree and shot true. Hunched over, the creature stopped firing. Rabbit then had a brilliant idea! Remembering the scroll that he had recently acquired, he grabbed it from his bag and charged toward the wolf….. only to find that he didn’t know how to use it! A vapor mist came up from the ground, completely surrounding almost all of the party…. Rabbit suddenly found himself face to face with the large beast of a wolf….. alone.

The beast charged the small man, instantly knocking him to the ground. Things were looking grim for our young engineer when suddenly Esimere emerged from the mist, activating his ring of healing! But before he could touch Rabbit, the wolf grabbed Esimere’s leg and blood was everywhere. Instantly, Esimere began feeling much better as his ring of healing power was suddenly used for the day. He still had the grace and skill to pierce the beast with his rapier as Rabbit continued to bleed under the beast’s paw.

Another emergence from the mist brought Sable in for the kill with a mighty blow to the wolf’s side. It was not time to turn all attention to the mouth of the cave and the horde of goblins who undoubtedly heard all of this outward commotion. Lucien found cover with a conveniently direct shot at anything that may exit the cave. Esimere also found suitable cover behind the wolf’s body. Stumble healed Rabbit and then created a celestial Owl and sent him into the cave. Sable went back for his crossbow and found it in the hands of a terrified looking Gillian. The men began to squabble again about the next best step in our current situation, While Gillian slowly and carefully walked directly toward the mouth of the cave. She stopped, briefly, at Sable’s beckoning, but could not be halted and she kept picked up a rock, cast ‘light’ on it and threw it into the cave.

Inside the cave there was one goblin in an alcove, but not much else. Gillian drew her ‘Goblin Slayer’, expecting it to take over for her so that no more blood would be on her conscience. But the sword did not react. The Goblin approached her, speaking it it’s naïve tongue. She did the first thing that came to her in her frightened state: she drew her crossbow and fired. By this time Sable approached the mouth of the cave and also fired his weapon at the creature. It fell back against the wall. Gillian disappeared into another alcove on the opposite side of the wall, forcing Sable to come further into the cave to check on her whereabouts. Lucien, never wanting to be left out of the action, also entered.

Sable tried to talk sense into Gillian by once again admonishing her. But the girl was on a mission whether her companions were with her or not. Walking twenty more feet into the large open cavern she stood and a vapor mist came out of the ground surrounding her.

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Goblins on the road

Our adventurers travels leading away from the bear cave were interrupted by an encounter with a goblin scavenging party at a bend in the road through the forest.

Seeing that the goblins were not aggressive, some members of the party sauntered forward with the intent of engaging the goblins in conversation or at least subtle interrogation. However, other members of the party were unwilling to risk anything (or preferred their goblins dead in any case) and rushed forward to attack. A cart hauled by two goblins disappeared up the road, but not before an arrow was lodged into one of their thighs.

The goblins, however, were not without their defenses, and it soon became apparent that snipers were perched in some of the surrounding trees. Sable, Esmir, Hasingstoke, Rabbit, and Gillian focused on the goblins on the road while Lucien rushed off into the forest to pick off a fleeing goblin and to try to shoot the sniper out of the tree.

Though the goblins on the ground were easily dispatched, those in the trees were much more difficult to deal with, and our inexperienced party could not find acceptable cover or hit the hiding goblins with missiles. Rabbit tried being clever by filling one of the trees with grease, but it was Gillian’s crossbow bolt that felled the goblin. Hasingstoke started to climb one of the trees, but Esmir got a lucky shot off to relieve the tree of its humanoid infestation.

During this battle, however, we did discover something quite important: The Goblin Slayer sword has a bit of a will of its own.

With two goblins sedate under the effects of a Color Spray spell, an argument ensued over tying them up and leaving them or rushing off after the two goblins hauling the cart. Half of the party wanted more information while the other half considered it a waste of time to let the others get away, especially because we could simply come back to the tied up goblins afterward.

In the end, though, those in favor of interrogation won out. Just in time for Gillian’s arm to stretch out as if on its own and run one of the goblins through.

Another argument followed about what to do with the new information, and Stumble was particularly upset that those who had been in favor of wasting time interrogating the goblin were now those in favor of rushing off down the road to catch the other goblins. Rabbit and Esmir set off at a run toward the fleeing cart-hauling goblins.

The two goblins posed no threat and were dispatched in mere seconds; one was tied up and further interrogated regarding the numbers of goblins in the area, their intentions, and whether they had a scepter among the scavenged items. It turns out they probably did.

And it turns out it was now in the hands of a particularly frightening dream monster.

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dear da, there's more.....

dear da,

well, more has happened since my last missive! and passing strange….

we’ve come across goblins and their trained wolves, said goblin wearing the symbol of his foul god!

gillian and others remember seeing a child in the fog, which we tried to find, and didn’t, of course, questioning gillian’s sanity….some in our group, foolishly citing ‘reason’ in unreasonable times, resisted following the child, some even using magics to prove a point, which is why they assumed the bear that came about came from the din made…but we both know, da, that noise generally keeps bears AWAY, and food draws them….being all we had were those ghastly provisions, i doubt it was attracted by that….the bear was rather tasty tho, the gnome knows his way about a campfire

well, we found it’s cave, presumably with it’s young, but saw no cubs…..we went deeper, and found chambers, water, and a sinkhole…..all natural though, carved by generations of water…..but here is the queer thing…..we came to a pool of what was obviously water, but some in the group saw it as blood, gillian saw a childs shoe in the sinkhole where there was none…..i’ve not seen things yet, but we were warned of visions and phantom sounds…..

what there WAS inside was quite odd…..across a small river was a carving of a dwarf, IN WOOD of all things! no self respecting dwarf would have done such a thing! the elf went over first, and saw a fine shortsword on a table by the carving, which i presume started a water elemental to attack us, doing appreciable damage…...then when the elf picked up the sword (which is such a SILLY thing to do in strange places), the carving came to life and thwacked him mightily…while the crew i’m with is odd, we do work well together….between well thrown arrows, bolts, spells (yes, da, spells), we managed to upend the now animate carving and sent it with the current…..

hears the odd part, when we had a moment, the elf said t here was a carving, in common no less, that said ‘dwarfs say no’, or somesuch. and more interestingly, the sword was clearly made by a dwarven master, with dwarven runes stating ‘goblin slayer’....know you of such a thing?

the questions i have, and will continue to bring up, this is not an accident….someone or something led us there! the wooden dwarf was placed there, as was the sword….i believe we were meant to find it! whether by moradin’s design, or the lad, sable’s cuthbert, or some mad dreamfarer….even the phantom child was meant to lead us somewhere, so we must be careful and diligent when following these leads…while this one may have been to our benefit, others may be traps…..we have no choice but to follow these leads, but must be mindful of motive, and act quickly and accordingly

and here’s where you will likely find me daft….i did a possibly foolish thing…..i dream-fared. the sinkhole and the pool seemed to be foci for our minds, so i wanted to make sure there weren’t clues in the dreamscape….there weren’t, but it was passing strange, and uneasy, as trips go…..

well. do with this information what you think best….and oh, my ale stash is slowly depleting, any way mum can send more?

yours in Moradin,

Stumble

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Sable's Dream

Emboldened by Stumble’s success in transporting the remains of the dead Dreamfarer into the Dreamscape, Gillian and Rabbit each endeavored to take the smashed barrels at Harper’s Pier and practice their own Dreamfaring abilities. Sable, uneasy about the entire process of Dreamfaring, attempted to stand guard over the sleeping bodies of Gillian and Rabbit, sword at the ready in case they were possessed by some nightmare creature. His efforts were unintentionally thwarted, however, when he was caught in the area of effect of Rabbit’s sleeping spell and was inadvertently plunged into the Dreamscape.

Sable awoke with a start, and looked around himself, disoriented. His eyes took in the familliar grey stone walls and high, narrow windows of the Chapel of Light at the Monastery of St. Cuthbert, and he realized, with a feeling of guilt, that he must have fallen asleep during his Devotionals. Bowing his head, he was about to offer penance when, suddenly, he heard a sound. It was so soft that he could barely hear it at first, but as he strained his ears the sound became unmistakably clear – the high, pitiful sobbings of a small child. Sable stood, wondering when and how a child had come to the Monastery. He began walking around the Chapel, searching for the location of the child. As he walked, although he could see no sign of the child, the sobbing grew louder. “Hello?” he called. “Who is there? Come out where I can see you!” The sobbing grew louder still and, suddenly, a high, thin voice full of accusation and pain and fear seemed to come from everywhere in the room at once. “Help me,” it cried. “Help me! It’s coming after me!” With an icicle of fear in his heart, Sable began to move about the Chapel more quickly, calling out to the unseen child as he went. There should have been no place in the Chapel of Light for anyone to conceal themselves, but, search as he might, he could see no sign of a child. As he ran, growing more and more panicked, the sobbings grew louder and louder, even as the voice became more piercing and accusative. “Help me!” it cried. “Help me! It’s coming for me! It killed them all and now its coming for me! Don’t leave me!” And suddenly, Sable became aware of a third noise, soft at first, but rising in volume – the shuffling sounds of some large creature mixed with a raspy, burbling breathing and the snuffling sound of a beast sniffing for its prey. “No!” cried the voice. “No! Leave me alone! Go away! Leave me alone! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” To Sable’s horror, the voice seemed to be fading, as if the child were running away from him, even as the snuffling sounds of the unseen creature grew louder. “Come back!” cried Sable, running to a wall where the voice now seemed to be emanating. He began to pound on the hard, unyeilding stone. “Come back,” he cried again. “Where are you?” A high, piercing scream rang out, seeming to go on and on, filling Sable’s heart with blood-chilling fear. He turned and suddenly realized that there was a door in the wall only a few feet from where he stood. In a flash, he wrenched the door open. The pale light from the Chapel sliced into the pitch black room, which Sable could see, to his confusion, was some kind of kitchen. There, upon the floor, cowering in fear against the cupboard, was a small child. Tears streaked the child’s pale face, which was streaked with dirt and other grime that may have been dried blood. It was impossible to determine the child’s age or gender. Sable took a step into the room. “It’s all right,” he said, extending his hand to the child. “It’s all right. Come with me and all will be well.” The child looked at him, abject terror and despair mingling in its eyes. “You’re too late,” it said. And then the light in the doorway was blocked by a monstrous shadow, and the air was filled with the rank stench of rotting flesh. There was a hideous, gurgling growl, and the monstrous shape raced forward. Sable tried to react, but he felt as if he was moving under water. He turned just in time to see the creature’s claws and fangs close on the small child, who screamed, a sound like glass on fire that cut Sable to the core of his being. The monster moved again, and the child was reduced, still screaming, to ribbons of gore and tatters of flesh. Sable screamed in unison then, and

awoke with a start, lying on the cold stone floor of Harper’s Pier, drenched with sweat.

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Goblins and Wolves and Bears, Oh My!

When the adventurers set off from Ashenport, two of the party members were in a “Dream Trance,” a state similar to sleepwalking. Lucien spotted a torchlight in the forest to the east, but was unable to alert the party before a pair of wolves emerged snarling from the brush toward Stumble. The trancing party members awoke just in time for battle. The wolves’ claws swiped ineffectually at the cleric’s mighty armor, however, and after a flourish by Esmir and a crossbow bolt from Sable, the dwarf’s mighty warhammer bashed in the head of one of the wolves.

The party was about to turn their attention to the second wolf when a cry came from the woods to the east, “You killed Fang!” A shirtless and hideous goblin emerged, his hand blazing with magical fire, and he charged toward the hapless cleric, whose beard was set alight. “Ach!” Stumble shouted, and dove to the ground. We all know that Stumble does not douse easily, but Rabbit rushed forward and doused his friend while the rest of the party surrounded the overbold shaman. Gillian, who took advantage of her new skills with a sword, and Esmir made quick and bloody work of the goblin, with Stumble again providing the finishing blow. Hasingstoke made his usual attempt to prove his worth but missed, while Lucien curiously forgot momentarily that one must notch an arrow to the string for it to go anywhere when shooting. Fortunately, Sable was there to charge into battle, and he dispatched the wolf with little trouble.

Lucien went off on a quick scouting expedition while Rabbit and Esmir searched the body of the shaman and found a scroll (which Rabbit immediately read as Charm Animal, not much use but still, ooh shiney), a staff, a wand, and some gold. Stumble identified his holy symbols as those of a god worshiped by goblins, orcs, and such. Then the party set off into the woods, heedless of Lucien’s careful progress, and found an abandoned and ruined waystation.

The party searched the area but found nothing of interest, and being unwilling to waste more time, they simply made the waystation usable for the next travelers and continued on their way.

They set up camp in a small clearing (chosen by Lucien) at nightfall and chose watches. A fog rolled in as the air cooled and the evening deepened.

A few hours later, Gillian heard a sound that startled her, drew her sword, and set off into the woods. Lucien thought nothing of it for the first few minutes, but then she screamed and he heard from her footsteps that she had started running. The elf rolled his eyes and set off in her direction. Rabbit also sent along Corbie (who’s been with them the whole time) as a scout of sorts, though he was not exactly certain what good it would do. (He can almost, but not quite, “see” how to communicate with the bird . . .) Once Lucien sheparded Gillian back to the campsite, confusion abounded. Sable swore that he could also see a torchlight in the distance and hear a small child calling for help. The party argued for a while over the chance of it being a trap, but Sable insisted that he couldn’t stand idly by regardless of the danger, and Gillian agreed with him, but began having confusions as to what was real and what may not have been.

As the party set off in the direction of the torchlight (which only two or three members could see) and the sound of the child (which only two or three members could hear), Rabbit tried to make one final argument about the chance that it was just a halucination by casting Ghost Sounds near the party. Suddenly, there was the sound of a dozen people saying “don’t go, it’s a trap, it’s not real!” This only furthered the party’s confusion and made Gillian even more suspicious and she pleaded to go towards the sounds of the child. Sable, too, is now extremely suspicious of the gnome. Only Lucien and Esmir seemed to take the point, and although Stumble understood what was happening, he was also unwilling to take the chance that there really was someone in danger in the woods.

However, the party’s shouts had attracted a real danger: A bear came crashing through the fog toward the nearest party member, Gillian. Within moments, the bear had slashed her to pieces, picked her up in its jaws, and tossed her to the side like a rag doll.

But the party was undaunted. Spurred to revenge their friend, they charged into battle. Esmir snuck around the back of the beast and sunk his rapier deep into the bear’s (ahem) hindquarters. Lucien raised his sword and brought it down mightily, nearly severing the animal’s head.

The excitement of this quick but fierce battle behind them, the party reconsidered its plan of setting off into the fog-shrouded and bear-filled forest and decided rather that some fresh bahr meat might go down well. Rabbit prestidigitized a chef’s hat and cast summon black pepper while lucien and the others cut hunks of meat from the massive carcase. A spit was fashioned over the campfire, and the party dined better than they had for weeks.

With their stomachs full and the air saturated with the smell of freshly seared meat, the party settled in for a long restless night in the wilderness . . .

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Special delivery by Corbie

The letter is in gnomish “DataSquish” code and fits on a 5 inch x 5 inch scroll.

Delivered to The Giant’s Burial Mound By the Wings of Corbie, Bonded Familiar to Robin “Rabbit” Thrumbedknackers Giltword Wartgnasse

Dearest Mummy and Diddy,

I hope this letter reaches you in good health. And I sincerely apologize for leaving in the middle of the night, and I know you’ve been worried sick. Which means it might find you in poor health. So I hope you haven’t been worried sick.

We are now a week’s journey from home by land and by sea; I’ve seen some pretty terrible things that I think even Diddy would be frightened of, but I assure you I’ve not once been harmed and in fact have tried to make myself quite helpful to my companions.

I’m traveling with the tall folk, and, except for the dwarf (a wonderful priest of Moradin with really nice looking armor) and the elf (a skilled woodsman), they’re about as hardheaded as you’d imagine. Trying to talk sense into most of them is like trying to speak gnomish to a Xorn. They’re all frankly a little blood thirsty, but at least they’ve been keeping me safe.

And Mummy and Diddy, I hope you won’t be too alarmed by this, and I pray that this letter doesn’t go astray, but I have to tell you: I can do magic. And I don’t just mean that bit we can all do with the lights and the cockroaches out of our hats, I mean I can make the ground go all oily, I can make people fall asleep, I’ve been using an “unseen servant” spell for over a year to do chores at home, and I can make people harder to see. I can do other things too. Remember how Gargitomitoshigan didn’t get mad after I smashed his flower bed accidentally chasing after Lilly? Yup.

Characteristically, no matter how helpfully or benignly I use these skills, everyone just freaks out all the time about it. It’s very frustrating. I’ve tried to be good and helpful as Carl demands. I don’t take things from others unless the owner can’t possibly use it anymore. (Much thanks for that I get . . . Smedley, the old Librarian at Ashenport, took something that would have been extremely helpful to us, going on about some secret society that everyone knows about as if creating a piece of jewelry were enough to keep everyone out!) I don’t hurt anyone, not even the big scary nightmare monsters. (Everyone else hurts them for me.) The worst I’ve done is try and read some books.

I know not all of this makes sense to you. I’m sorry about that. It’s hard to write in the dark by firelight. (We’re camping outside, above ground, and it’s creeping me out. At least there’s trees.)

When you see me again, I hope to bring home a slew of new and wonderful pieces for Diddy’s store. I’ve already found a harp (again, someone took it) and a ring (again, someone took it), but there are also scrolls with magical writing on them and I’ve seen a goblin set its hands on fire. And the book! Did I mention the copy of Gnomish Nudes Throughout the Ages? Wait until I show you how it works!

Please don’t worry too much, and if my bird reaches you during the day, please give him some grasshoppers if you can catch them. They’re his favorite. Oh, and he likes to be scratched between the wings and NOT on his head. Also, if he reaches you during the day, please send back a short reply letting me know whether anyone else in the village has had bad dreams. Help is on the way for that, I hope.

Love and Blessings, Rabbit

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