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The Evil Abbey
We journeyed back to the town with the white Weretigers. They kept the hamlet busy while we continued on toward the monastery. At last, we came to the foot of the endless stairs. I took this time to cast a number of spells on Thotham and me, including stoneskin, freedom of movement, barkskin, and air walk. We made our way up the steps, only to find that several monks were positioned on the walls with crossbows. As I was wildshaped into a dire bear, I was able to keep up with Thotham as we stormed the entrance. We eventually broke down the gate and entered the complex. Fighting our way past several squads of hostile monks, we worked our way toward the inner sanctum--where the grand master and his bodyguard waited for us.

I'd come up with a different plan of attack. I was hoping to catch our enemies by surprise with a transmute rock to mud spell, immobilizing them. As we broke into the main hall, our plan went awry instantly. There was a 20' pit just inside the doorway. I was able to jump to the side and avoid falling, but Thotham plunged down into the trap. Lilli and Zephar were therefore stuck in the doorway on the other side of the pit. This was not a good beginning to what we knew would be the toughest battle of our lives.

Just as I'd hoped, all of our opponents were grouped together around a central dais and altar. In addition, several monks were chained down on the floor around the Rakshasa and his allies. But before I could launch my spell, the Weretiger Lord bounded across the room, leaped and spun in the air to bring down his greataxe upon me! I took a grievous wound, but was still in the fight. My polar bear leaped across the pit even as Thotham jumped out, but we were set upon by four of the evil monks. I cast my rock to mud spell, trapping the Rakshasa and two monks in the heavy sludge.

Meanwhile, Thotham was already engaging the other two monks in combat while Lilli cast a mass cure moderate wounds to heal me and the others. The two trapped monks took some valuable time to haul themselves out of the mud, but the Rakshasa stayed where he was, content to launch spells. I then played the second half of my gambit: I cast transmute mud to rock in an attempt to permanently trap our enemy in the stone floor, but he managed to dodge the hardening rock and continue the battle. That was a costly use of two of my most powerful spells. On a more positive note, Zephar gave us haste to quicken our step and improve our ability to attack.

The Weretiger Lord kept trying to kill me, so I used air walk to float to the ceiling beyond his reach. I cast both of my dehydrate spells at him, but he resisted easily. Meanwhile, Lilli targeted the Rakshasa with assay spell resistance to weaken his resolve and then blasted him with banishment. Unfortunately, he withstood the magical attack. By now, Thotham and my bear had slaughtered three of the monks, leaving just one to harass our group. But the Rakshasa was not done: he cast confusion on Thotham, weakening his effectiveness to a massive degree.

Desperate, I took the time to cast my final spell: summon nature's ally. When I was done, a huge stone elemental appeared on the Weretiger Lord's flank and began to pummel him. Lilli tried again to neutralize the Grand Master with a dismissal spell. It worked and the Rakshasa vanished instantly!

With only the Weretiger Lord and one monk left, we pressed our attack. Even though he was confused, Thotham was still able to fight and hammered at our opponents when he could. I came down from the air and aided the melee. While my bear finished off the last monk, Zephar cast Tasha's hideous laughter on the Lord, but he resisted the effect. Still, we were able to vanquish him without much difficulty.

We freed the remaining monk prisoners, who were strangely upset about some of their comrades perishing in my rock to mud spell. Ignoring my remarks about "collateral damage," they insisted that we travel farther down the pass to investigate rumors of a band of frost giants gathering in an old hall...
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The Deadly Pass
Having passed the Rite of Battle Fitness, Redbeard summoned us to his throne room. He asked that we go on a mission of vital importance for him: to investigate the mountain pass to the south. It seems that caravans have been disappearing, disrupting trade. And if he is to invade the south, he must be sure that the pass is safe for his armies. He has heard rumors that creatures known as Yetis have been waylaying the merchants.

We agreed to look into it and headed south. It took us a few days to get to the pass, but the only incident on the way was an encounter with two Troll Hunters. Luckily, we dispatched them quickly.

Once in the pass, we had other dangers to overcome. A sudden avalanche almost engulfed us, but we managed to avoid its deadly progress just in time.

Finally, we arrived at the small frontier town midway through the pass. A forbidding-looking monastery overlooked the hamlet from the crags above. We entered the town and explored the modest community. People had heard about the missing caravans, but knew little else. When asked about the Yetis, they merely shrugged.

We settled in at the tavern for the evening. At some point in the night, we noticed a group of three people (two men and a woman) who were staring at us. Thotham got up to talk to them, but they rebuffed his overtures with brusqueness. They left the inn soon after, but they were not done with us. Flaming missiles came in through the windows, setting the common room on fire! I cast my quench spell to put the conflagration out (however reluctantly), but the room continued to burn.

We fled the building, only to walk right into an ambush! Three white-coated Weretigers lay in wait. One of them peppered us with arrows while another slashed me to ribbons with a sword. The encounter happened so quickly that Zephar lay unconscious and the rest of us were badly wounded before we could even counterattack. While Thotham laid into them with his swords, I cast my frostfell slide spell, which enabled me to teleport away. I healed myself and summoned an earth elemental to aid in our defense. As we came charging back through the blizzard, however, the Weretigers (wounded by Thotham) were already retreating.

The next day, we healed up and journeyed to the monastery. The Grand Master, shadowed by a giant of a man, offered the use of his library to help us research these Yeti creatures. We found little information on the mysterious beasts, and began to formulate another theory: the white Weretigers were the ones attacking the caravans!

We wind walked to the town south of the pass, where Thotham purchased a silver bastard sword (to penetrate the Weretigers' resistance to normal weapons). We returned to the pass and followed the trail of the white creatures. After a long journey through the mountains, we came upon two of them ransacking a wrecked wagon.

I cast stoneskin and barkskin on Thotham even as the two monsters turned to engage us. Zephar cast haste on all of us to enable us to move better in the snow. Swiftrunner drew his new sword and rushed to attack. I then cast buff spells on my bear as the battle began in earnest. One of the Weretigers closed with us and pounced on Zephar. The other rained arrows on me, but my own stoneskin spell helped me resist most of the damage. In turn, I cast entomb on the archer even as our elf continued to heal us. With the archer safely enclosed in a block of ice, Thotham, my bear, and a hound archon (summoned by the elf) surrounded the other Weretiger and pummeled him into submission. He surrendered.

They led us to their camp, where they revealed the truth: they were not the ones attacking the caravans, it was the "monks" in the monastery! They are also Weretigers, except for the Grand Master--who was a Rakshasa. They gave us a blessed spear to aid our efforts to vanquish the monks. We promised to return to the monastery the next day and confront the evil creatures...
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The Rite of Battle Fitness, Part Two
The third test, the test of intelligence, would normally involve surviving a deadly labyrinth. Redbeard had something else in mind for our group, it turned out. He approached us with a special mission: there was a valuable gold mine a few days away that had been ravaged by a white dragon. We were being tasked with wresting back control of the mine from the beast. We felt up to the challenge and accepted the mission. With an alliance between several nations at stake, what choice did we have?

We reached the mine later in the week. We immediately saw signs of the destruction wrought by the dragon. Dead miners were strewn about and the surrounding camp was all but destroyed. Our cleric and I had both prepared resist energy spells, among other defensive measures. We would certainly end up needing them, but not for the opponents we'd expected.

After exploring the central tunnel, we soon came upon foes we'd never seen before. They came right out of the walls, appearing to be made of gold and moving like earth elementals. There were at least a half-dozen of them, and they were all capable of launching fireballs. With a lot of teamwork, we were able to destroy them. Strangely, Thotham found that his fearsome sword was not doing any holy damage on the creatures. They were not evil, it seemed, yet they were assaulting us just as fiercely as any demon. We had no choice but to slay them.

We hadn't had much time to recover when another group of the golden creatures attacked us in the main corridor. We dispatched this wave as well, but the two battles had drained many of our spells. I took the precaution of casting resist energy: fire, but it was too late. No more of the golden things came our way--but the silver ones were next.

Knowing that we would eventually face the white dragon, we had resist energy: cold cast on our group. Therefore, we were not prepared for an ambush by silver elementals shooting lightning bolts down the hall at us. My polar bear bore the brunt of many of the scorching attacks, but luckily its evasion skills helped him avoid the deadly magic. The rest of us were not so lucky, and we once again expended more spells to defeat the enemy.

Soon after, we reached the newest portion of the mine. We found out it was still being worked--by a squad of Ogres and their Ogre Mage leader. This was the easiest battle so far, primarily because I summoned a fire elemental that took out most of the Ogres. Thotham handled the rest. The Ogre Mage used dimension door to get behind us, but between my bear and the others, the enemy leader was quickly slain.

We pressed on, almost out of spells and weary beyond belief. We passed through several large chambers, each one containing a massive altar. By studying each altar, we deduced that they were dedicated to the various tenets of the dragon culture. We left those halls behind and then came across an enormous treasure hoard. We didn't see any magic items that might aid our effort, so we continued on.

Finally, we reached a wide, cavernous hall. Standing there was a human barbarian. Words were exchanged; our motives were questioned. We explained our mission, and then everything went to hell. The human transformed into the white dragon! I knew that white dragons couldn't shapechange, so something strange was afoot. It was too bad that I didn't figure out this anomaly sooner.

The battle was long and hard-fought. I summoned an air elemental that helped to batter the creature. It was a good thing that Thotham and I had stoneskin; otherwise, we would have been dead. And rather than breathe a blast of cold as we expected, the dragon hurled fire at us. Another strange development. Luckily, my resist fire spell was still in effect. It was close enough as it was. By the time we finally slew the dragon, we were all near death and just about out of spells.

And then a black dragon ambled out of the darkness to thank us for slaying the pesky gold dragon that had been ruling the mine.
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The Rite of Battle Fitness, Part One
In an effort to get the tyrannical lord of Stonefist, Sevvord Redbeard, to enter into a treaty with the other barbarian kingdoms, the Awakeners of Vatun were sent to parlay with him. Just before we left, we were told by our lord's scholars that Stonefist has an ancient--and potentially deadly--tradition. It is called the Rite of Battle Fitness, and it is used occasionally to test the worthiness of the land's warriors. Our allies believed there was a good chance Redbeard would call for one during our visit. They were proven correct.

There are several tests, the first of which was an overland journey through the mountains with only a weapon, a shield, and a bottle of water. My weapon of choice was, of course, my staff. We obeyed the rules and only brought the items indicated, but Thotham's hunting skills and my spells (especially goodberry) prevented us from ever going hungry. The object of this test was to arrive at the destination alive and, ideally, with the head of a giant...or the heads of three competitors.

With our wilderness skills, we left the other warrior parties behind (though not before facing a troll at night in our camp at the base of the mountain) and made good time through the highlands. The weather was much milder than I was used to and we hustled along quickly and easily. Finally, just as we climbed a steep hill and reached a high clearing, we came upon a fearsome Eldritch Giant.

The battle was epic. The giant dispelled most of our magical defenses and its attacks were brutal. Our combat medic was busy healing at every turn, struggling to keep us alive. Zephar's songs gave us the strength to keep fighting even when all seemed lost. Thotham waded in with his sword and slashed mightily at the huge monster while I launched several powerful spells. We were hurting the thing, but it was still very much in the fight. I used my staff to summon a fire elemental, which battered the giant with a fiery assault. (Yay, fire!!) Between all of us, we were finally able to slay the monster. All of us were hurt and weary, but we stumbled down from the mountains with quite a prize. The giant's head put all the others' trophies to shame.

The next phase was the test of endurance. All the competitors would have to swim a hundred and fifty kilometers (whatever in the Abyss that measurement means) down the (thankfully unfrozen) Frozen River. This should have been an intimidating challenge, but it was not. I was able to cast cloak of the sea on my three companions, which gave them water breathing and freedom of movement. Meanwhile, I wild shaped into a shark. We made it down the river in record time, and were basking at the finish line hours before the next competitor arrived.

The third challenge, however, was a bit more daunting...
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Last Stand
With the Holy Man dead, I searched the chamber for signs of where the Master might have gone. Every inch of the walls were examined as the others healed up and regrouped, yet I found nothing. Finally, my battle-numbed brain thought of the only likely possibility: the ceiling. With help from the others, I searched the space above us and, sure enough, found a cleverly-hidden trapdoor.

We made our way up to the next floor, only to find a smaller but completely empty room. But above us was yet another trapdoor. Idon judged us to be close to, if not having arrived, at the rooftop. I agreed. Once again, I took the lead, carefully opening the portal and peeking out to see what lay in wait for us. I found myself, as expected, on the roof of the strange hive-shaped building. Nobody was in sight at that moment, but that would change soon enough.

Just as all of us had climbed out onto the tiny platform, the Master came within view, having levitated from somewhere below! He was not alone, either. Coming toward us was none other than the huge metal statue we'd seen before--now in its true form as a Storm Giant. It carried a monstrous whip almost long enough to brush the ground four stories below.

The battle was joined. While the Master lobbed yet more spells at us, the giant ensnared me with his whip. I was thrown off my feet, prone and vulnerable. For someone who depended on movement to be effective in a fight, this was the worst possible scenario. The others did their best to attack the Master, but melee combat was impossible; he continued to float in the air just out of reach.

I managed to get back on my feet, and the others were not idle in the meantime. Idon used his pearl of power to recall a particularly effective spell that he then cast on the Master: silence. With that one action, our cleric all but rendered our enemy powerless.

At the same time, Nessa summoned an air elemental that immediately used its whirlwind ability. It became a huge funnel and engulfed the Master in its wind-choked clutches, pulling him at last within our reach. He still had his stoneskin spell up, as well as other protective enchantments, but at least we could finally lash out at him.

By this time, the giant abandoned its playful activities with its whip and began jabbing at us with its fists. A single slam from it would be enough to kill an ordinary commoner. None of us could withstand more than two or three of its brutal punches. Though the fighter Narellus got in many good strikes with his weapon against the Master, he fell unconscious after several blows from the giant. Idon kept us in the battle with his powerful healing, but none of us could withstand the giant's attacks for long. Perhaps this was why Idon was the next to fall. Without his healing spells, we were all but doomed.

I continued to use my spring attack to duck the giant's fists and get in some tactical strikes against the Master. We could see that we were wearing him down, but the elemental's whirlwind would only last for another few seconds. Meanwhile, Nessa wild-shaped into a Harpy in order to fly away from the giant and took a moment to cast her fearsome call lightning spell. Over the next few minutes, Nessa hurled one lightning bolt after another at the Master while I continued to use my spring attack to wound him with my rapier. I had withstood two more devastating blows from the giant's massive fists, but I knew I could not survive another. Nessa hurled one of her last remaining lightning blasts toward the Master just as I tumbled past the giant to also deliver a solid strike to the enemy leader. The giant's curled fist loomed above me, looking as large as a castle, poised to end my life...

But just when I thought it was all over, the Master staggered back from my most recent attack...and fell lifelessly to the ground. With his death, the giant was then freed from whatever compulsion had imprisoned him there, and simply walked away. Against all odds, we had won. Between Narellus's bravery, Nessa's druid abilities, Idon's healing and the all-important silence spell, as well as my mobile strikes, we emerged victorious.

While we used our spells and potions to heal ourselves and our comrades, the complex below erupted into chaos. The Master is dead, and his followers did not linger for very long.

The Greatest Party Ever has fulfilled its mission.
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...and in The Master's chambers, they gathered
Being forced to carry on without their trusted mage Azol, The Greatest Party Ever moved toward the upper floors of the beehive-shaped greater temple. They first dispatched the major-domo of the temple, a man experienced in fighting within the specially mirrored great room. Still, this advantage proved to be of little value as Rook and Narellus brought him down with relative ease. Among his possessions, however was one of the Amulet's of Seeing. The party now knew that The Master knew they were close and would be prepared.

From there, the group bluffed their way past one of the temple high-priests and into The Master's chambers. Knowing they were coming, The Master had already cast his protective spells, including the highly effective Stoneskin. He also flanked his two pet tigers on either side ofthe stairs and his high-priest had moved in behind them. Impressed with the group's skill and dogged persistance, he made them an offer; "Join me as my new generals, and together we will build a new empire out The Bright Desert, and into the surrounding lands." When the party refused, he took to destroy them.

Driven by his hatred after his lengthy imprisonment, Nerellus moved first. He charged The Master and swung his heavy mace with deadly force, only to have it turned away by his foe's protecive magic. The Master reprised with the deadly harm spell. Nerellus was drained of his life and left with only enough strength to limp back to the group. Marialena moved next and used her newly acquired staff to bring up a wall of ice between the high-priest and the group, buying time for the party. Idon and Nessa used their healing magic to restore Nerellus and the opening round was over.

The fighting only grew more intense from there. The tigers were now in position to block the enteremce to the chambers, so Rook and Nerellus took the challenge of clearing them out; Nessa summoned her twin lions to support them. Marialena again used her staff, this time to summon an ice storm inside the chamber, which battered The Master and his big cats. With the group now fighting so close together, they became easy prey for The Master's offensive firepower. He first let loose with a flame strike, which brought Nerellus to his knees and burned Marialena to ashes. Idon was again called upon for his healing to keep his companions in the fight.

Round three was equally deadly. The tigers were still keeping the fighters from their main target and one had Rook pinned by the throat, allowing The Master another round with his profane spells. This time he targeted Rook with the feared destruction spell. If successful, the hero would have been burned to dust by unholy power. Fortunately he resisted, although still was heavily damaged. Finally, The Master was to feel some pain in this battle, as Idon cast his unholy blight spell. The Master took the full brunt of the holy magic and was both blinded and burned by its light. The tigers also suffered from the spell and combined with it, the mace of Nerellus and Nessa's lions they fell.

With the tigers out of the way, Rook leaped at the opportunity to get in close and fight The Master. His blades penetrated The Master's armor, only to be turned away by the stoneskin. Still not all of the damage was negated, and The Master felt the sting of steel cutting into his body. He responded with a blade barrier, which cut Nessa's lions to pieces and forced Rook back away from him. Nessa took aim at the blade barrier with her dispel magic and brought it down. At this time, the high-priest had breached the ice wall and moved in against Idon and Nerellus. The Master, seeing this used the opportunity to escape via his word of recall spell. With a final order to his priest, he vanished.

The holy man was able to do some damage to the group, and more importantly, forced them to use precious resources in defeating him. The Master had surely been using this time to recover, and would again be waiting for them...

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Tags: Boss Battle
I though my luck had turned for the better. The adventuring group that rescued me from that foul prison beneath the temple offered to let me join with them while they sought to destroy the Master. I would have my vengeance. At first, all seemed to be going to plan. We donned the robes of those we felled in battle and moved through the temple compound. Our cover gained us access to the gatehouse area where we took down a group of diviners and their ogre muscle. We also had the chance to smite two creatures from the outer planes that these demented clerics keep as guards. While my new companions were much more experienced than I, the wand Azol gave me proved to make me useful.

From there, we moved into the shrine and after locating a secret door, we gained access into a hidden part of the temple, and an unwelcome turn of events. Waiting for us was a powerful wizard. He seemed very young, but was experienced beyond his years. His powerful frame allowed him to withstand our magic and even Rook and Nessa in her giant form had trouble bringing him down.

When the combat ended and I entered the room, I was greeted with a terrible sight. Azol, our kind and brave wizard, had been turned to stone by our opponent's corrupt magic. My hatred for this place has been replaced by sadness. What will we do now? Surely we will be no match for The Master without arcane magic.
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Tags: pc death , Recap
I had given up all of hope of ever getting out of this dreadful place alive. The people of this land are strangely suspicious of outsiders that can use magic, and me also being an elf was more than they could take. Thank the gods this group found me when they did. I was surprised to see an elf among them; I'll bet the sadistic bastards inside the temple will be even more surprised. This party seems poised to bring this place down, and I cannot wait to exact my vengeance. Nessa, I will be forever in your debt.
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Tags: backstory
The Temple of Death
The Temple of Death (also known as Greatrealm) is located not far from the shores of Lake Tros. It is built on the slope of a small valley. The temple is a number of buildings inside a walled compound. The land around the temple is surrounded by fields. Workers wearing yellow and white robes tend these fields.

A large path leads from the temple compound to the shore of the
lake, which is out of sight of the temple. Lining this road area are
statues of various deities and saints revered by the people of this land. Just before the main entrance, on either side of the path, are six huge statues of dragonlike horses. These have yokes and harnesses and are made to look like they are pulling the temple. Adding to this appearance are eight large wheels carved on the outer walls, and ahuge man standing on the roof of the Temple Gatehouse This man, apparently a statue, holds a chariot whip in one hand. The entire building complex gives the impression of a huge chariot.

Wide moats surround the buildings inside the compound. Water
flows constantly from four fountains at the far end of the
compound, falls over a 20’ high waterfall, and seems to flow out
through a hidden drain at the other end. People throw things into the water,attracting something that lives in it.

The temple buildings are made from white stone. All the buildings
are heavily decorated with statues, friezes, elaborate eaves,
towers, banners, and paintings. Several of the buildings are two
stories high. Rising from the first building are four thin towers, one
at each corner. These towers have small minarets on the top and
appear to be guard towers. The last building is a cluster of beehive-shaped towers. The center tower of this group rises above all the
other buildings in the compound.
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Tags: Milestone
A Quiet Night at the Inn
Upon our return from Chathold, we found another inn for the night. The Broken Soothsayer seemed like a nice place to find food and shelter, and we relaxed in the crowded common room. Our respite was brief, to say the least. A grizzled traveler, boisterous with drink, chatted us up, wanting to know all about our exploits. We were careful with what we shared, but it ultimately did not matter. Some time after he left our company, he returned with eight masked warriors--the local law enforcement!

Weaving expertly through the drunken crowd, they were upon us in seconds. More than half of them engaged us in melee while the rest shot missile weapons our way. Three or four of them targeted me. Luckily, I was able to dodge most of their attacks, but the ambush left me bleeding badly before I'd even had a chance to react. Still, it was better that they came after me rather than one of the others; Idon or Azol might not have survived even this initial round of combat.

Once we'd had a chance to assess the situation, we responded in kind. Thurm waded into the enemy warriors, slicing them apart like a reaping farmer with so much wheat. Our two spellcasters targeted our opponents as best they could, but with all the innocent bystanders their most effective ranged spells were impossible. I drew my two weapons and did my best to neutralize the fighters surrounding me. It was not easy, as I had no room to spring attack, but I held my own nevertheless.

Within a few minutes (and mostly thanks to Thurm), we'd turned the tide and slain five of the eight soldiers. The others did not retreat, however, and pressed us to the last. In addition, the haggard traveler who'd set them upon us in the first place was also a concern. Even as the last warrior fell, the old man stepped forward and finished off Azol! I was able to maneuver better by then, and used my spring attack to deliver a punishing blow to the man--leaving him to fall lifelessly to the floor.

We had won the battle, but we were hardly out of danger. These were but eight soldiers in a town that likely housed dozens (if not hundreds) of such men. And our wizard was down. What would we do...?
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Puppet Show Clue; New Comrade; Ambush in the Night
We made it to the town of Magden after burying Havok. We stopped into a few shops and sold off some of our gear. I bought a couple of handy items (eyes of the eagle and greatreach bracers). The charmed fighter that Azol had brought along was starting to become a nuisance, so we gave him the slip. I hope we stay well rid of him.

In the marketplace, we watched a puppet show that seemed to build upon some local lore. A hand puppet crafted to represent a great bronze giant told his story, swearing to guard the temple by the lake. In one fell swoop, we gained several pieces of valuable intelligence.

We searched parts of the town, becoming acquainted with its streets and its customs. An interesting stop on our little tour was a shrine dedicated to some personage who lived about four hundred years ago. Images on the wall depict highlights of his apparently eventful life. We took notes of what we saw, in case the information proved to be needy in the near future. In our travels about the community, we recruited an intimidating looking Orc Paragon named Thurm. Upon hearing our group's humble moniker, Greatest Party Ever, he joined our cause without hesitation.

That evening, a procession came through the town. A priest was searching the suddenly huge crowds, looking for "miracles." We knew better than to draw attention to ourselves in a hostile land, so we kept a low profile and simply watched. A nearby spectator commented that this sort of thing happens regularly.

We turned in for the night, but kept watches. Our cramped second-floor room was barely large enough to hold us all. During Idon's turn on guard, he heard footsteps in the hallway outside. He went to the doorway, ready to block passage to any intruders. The lock was turned (an ominous item all on its own) and the door creaked open. Idon came face to face with a band of Gnolls!

He called out, awakening us. But just as we shot to our feet, one of the humanoids tossed some black powder into the center of our tiny room. The entire chamber went dark. While Thurm readied his weapons and Azol started casting a spell, I went to the window to open the shutters. Azol activated his dimension door spell, grabbed me, and transported us both downstairs. Meanwhile, Thurm decided not to fight within the impenetrable dark and bashed his way into the adjacent room. Unfortunately, that left Idon at the mercy of the Gnolls; they pulled him out of the room and pounced on him.

Azol and I ran back up the stairs. On the way, we saw the innkeeper tiptoeing down the steps. Knowing that the lock hadn't been forced, it seemed obvious that this man was in league with the intruders. I ripped the man almost in two on my way upstairs, not even pausing to watch his corpse hit the floor.

Azol launched a lightning bolt down the hall. It was a great choice of spell and should have wiped the Gnolls out, but it did not. One beast fell, but the electrical burst only singed a couple of the others and didn't seem to harm two more at all. One of the Gnolls threw another handful of black powder and darkened the hallway between them and us. We would have to run through the blackness to reach them. In the meantime, they ripped Idon to shreds. Thurm came out from the neighboring room and chopped two of the Gnolls to bloody slivers in an instant. Meanwhile, I cut another down while Azol continued to launch spells. Finally, only one Gnoll was left, and he retreated into our room (now light again; the unnatural darkness had faded). The Gnoll had turned invisible, enabling him to sneak up on me and deliver a mighty attack. I still stood, however, and the three of us made short work of the monster.

The next morning, we teleported back to the capital. Once there, we sold all of the Gnolls' gear (a princely sum) and used the money to pay the Prelate to cast true resurrection on Idon. Once he was all right, Azol cast teleport again to get us back to Magden.
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A Comrade Falls
We left the Well of the Moon behind and returned to the Valley of the Cyclops. I took the water from the well, contained in a small receptacle, and poured it on the valley soil. The results were dramatic: greenery began growing immediately, bringing fertile life back to this desolate region. We looked around for the one-eyed giants and spotted them in the far distance, leaving the Pass behind.

We continued on and came into a valley filled with eerily lifelike statues. We suspected some sort of creature with a petrifying gaze (A basilisk? A cockatrice? Perhaps even a dreaded Medusa?) dwelt nearby. Two tunnels greeted us, one carved like a sea serpent's mouth and the other surrounded by beckoning hands. We took the mouth-like entrance and soon came face-to-face with the valley's denizens. I had gone up ahead and, moving silently, I was able to surprise a Medusa lurking about. I charged and delivered a punishing two-weapon pounce. Havok came up right behind me and finished off the beast before she could unleash her lethal gaze.

We were not out of the woods yet; a second Medusa stepped out of a hidden alcove and surprised the others. Our warrior friend we'd found in the caves to the west could not overcome the creature's power and instantly turned to stone. Azol was invisible and was luckily not detected by the Medusa. Idon helpfully cast light on a rock and threw it near our enemy; this enabled me to charge and use my skirmish ability to great effect. Once again, Havok also charged and slew the terrible abomination in short order.

After looting the area, we proceeded on and at last came to the Great Gate. It was a huge iron monstrosity secured by an equally formidable metal bar. As we tried to lift it, a human fighter appeared on the other side and came over to us. He demanded a password. I tried to bluff my way through, offering "Victory and Glory to the Master," which seemed consistent with the usual grandiose nonsense these evil organizations indulge in. My attempt was not quite good enough and he ordered us to turn around and go back. We respectfully declined, and when he returned to his hidden post we resumed our attempts to lift the bar.

Not surprisingly, the warrior came back to renew his insistence that we withdraw. Azol cast charm monster on him and he suddenly became a friendly ally. Though he did not help, he at least stood back and did not interfere with our ongoing enterprise. With all of us assisting Havok (his strength buoyed by a couple of spells), we were able to lift the bar and open the gates--only to find the Cloud Giant we'd been warned about emerge from the shadows.

It was either charge ahead or forfeit the mission; given the geas spell on me, I had no choice. I rushed the Giant and delivered a small sting with my rapier. Havok, loyal friend that he was, arrived an instant later and scored a tremendous slash with his blade. As we had planned, Azol flung a hold monster spell at the behemoth, but the Giant resisted. In turn, it bashed Havok twice with its mace, wounding our fighter grievously. Idon bravely ran through the gate and gave Havok a cure critical wounds. It would not be enough. While Havok and I again hit the mark with our attacks, the bloodied but still dangerous Giant swung again and smashed the life out of Havok right before my eyes. Azol tried a lightning bolt, but our opponent dodged the attack, taking only a portion of the electrical effect. I continued to dance in and out with my spring attack, doing modest but valuable damage. The Giant took a swing at Idon and knocked him to the ground. Luckily, our priest was still alive, though unconscious. I scored another hit with my rapier and then Azol was able to finish it off with a scorching ray. We had used good teamwork, some of the best yet, but we'd paid a terrible price. I gave Idon a healing potion and brought him back to consciousness. With the charmed fighter's help, we found the Giant's hoard under a boulder. We buried Havok on a nearby hill and continued toward the city in the distance.
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Red Dragons - BAH
I spent some time in a dreamless slumber, sickened by an insidious disease that kept my wounds from healing. How did I get in this situation? I made the mistake of taking tactical advice from our wizard when my mind was not really my own as I pondered past experiences. This was a huge mistake. When I finally awoke we were bound and prisoners of a group of centaurs, how this came to be I have no idea, but I am sure it had something to do with overconfidence on the part of our group.

Once I finally was purged of my sickness I soon returned to full health and was ready for action. The centaurs let us leave and we wandered through a valley till we came upon a group of wailing, white, piñatas. The exploded beneath the weight of our swords and we came to join forces with a fighter of some skill who was beset by the beasts.

Our quest led us to a cave that was the lair of a rather large red dragon, I say was because he was easily dispatched, no match for the power of the mighty Brass Dragons that now course through my veins. The beast had a moment of good fortune, but after it had set upon our creampuff of a wizard and brought it's might to bear upon him and Azul still stood I knew this minion of evil was of little threat.
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Cave Dwellers, Curses, and Dragons
We pressed on through the Great Pass, hoping that we would soon find the way out. But we also did not want enemies at our back, so we explored the tunnels to the north. The journey went without incident for a while, until we heard some high-pitched cries and a strange, whirring sound. I took the lead and came upon a single warrior being attacked by a dozen pale humanoids. At my urging, Idon cast detect evil on the group, and none of them showed as such. Still, I didn't like seeing a lone fighter being so outnumbered. Right or wrong, the odds were far too unbalanced for my taste.

I charged the nearest one, eager to try the new trick I'd learned, my two-weapon pounce. I closed the distance quickly and got off a hit with both my rapier and my handaxe. The creature dropped to the ground, dead. Meanwhile, the rest of the party engaged. Azol felled nearly half of them with a fireball while Havok dispatched a few others with his combat maneuvers. Scant seconds later, all the white-skinned attackers were dead. The warrior was grateful for our arrival and asked to accompany us.

We searched the rest of the cave complex, but found nothing. We then moved onto the next valley, a rough-and-tumble area where the entire landscape was cluttered with rubble. At the top of a hill, I spied three giant creatures--Cyclopses! We approached, braced for battle, but no melee took place. The middle giant pointed at me and intoned an imperative command: "You must draw water from the Well of the Moon and pour it upon this soil, or you will never leave the Pass."

The hulking things retreated out of sight and left us to ponder what had just happened. I didn't feel any different, but I could not dismiss the incident. We continued on through the Pass and came to another set of tunnels. Luck was with us, for we came across a merchant caravan traveling the opposite direction. We were able to sell off some of the magic items we'd collected and receive in trade other goods that would benefit us to a greater degree. I finally got rid of my sweltering studded leather armor in exchange for a fine mithril shirt. The others made similar trades and we came out of the meeting much better off. In addition, the merchants gave us some helpful advice about the Pass and what lies beyond it. Most especially, I asked them about the Well of the Moon, and we were told that a red dragon guarded the very place we sought!

We made ready to approach the well the next day, only to find that Idon was no longer being granted his most powerful spells. When he searched his soul for an answer, he realized that slaying the cave dwellers had angered Heironeous. Still, we had to press on.

Azol cast a few strategic preparatory spells, including resist energy and stoneskin, before we moved in. He also had a few more ready to cast at the dragon to lower its spell resistance and get through its fire immunity. Understandably, he was not able to provide the mass darkvision, so we crept into the cave with light spells on rocks. Once we saw how big the cavern was, Idon tossed one of the lit rocks ahead, which illuminated a larger chamber. Havok (now invisible) and I scouted ahead, and soon encountered the well's guardian.

The battle was quick, but intense. Too close for comfort, all around. Havok and I engaged the dragon where it waited in the center of the hall, while the others gathered their spells. Havok hit it hard with his sword while Azol struck it with a lightning bolt. Rather than stay where we were, it flew back and landed near the entrance--right where the spellcasters were. Havok and I raced back to protect our friends, and just in time. The dragon took several mighty swings at Azol, wounding him badly. I used my spring attack to flank the serpent and get in some skirmish damage while Havok performed one of his special tactics to deliver a mortal blow. If the dragon had survived to make just one more of its lethal string of attacks, at least one of us might have fallen. But we vanquished it before it could act again. We found its hoard, modest but still profitable, and inspected the well. The water healed us of our wounds when we drank, and I took some in my skin to pour upon the valley and break the curse...
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I should have let the kobalds finish off this worthless group of spies. The Master will pay well if they're alive or dead. And from the looks of them, they'll all be dead soon anyways. That rash they all have is getting worse as the sun moves across the sky. I better find out what they know. One of them gave me a magic pendant that let's me read their thoughts. When we have them drawn and quartered tomorrow, they'll tell us everything whether they want to or not.
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Tags: Recap
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