Shining Shadows

Irvyn's Log 1

I was pursuing the library of a wizard in search of information on a newer, more powerful, Magic Missile. Information that I had gathered led me to a series of caves inhabited by goblins. No problem, I can sneak past goblins using my illusions and natural stealth abilities. I came in through an unguarded entrance and found a few goblin sentries in a hallway. Goblins aren’t the best at sentry duty, so slipping past them was easy. The caves themselves apparently hid an underground warren of rooms with flagstone flooring and solid construction. Clearly this was the place.

After navigating a few more rooms, and avoiding a few more goblin sentries, not to mention dire rats and other foul beasts, I came to a large room with towering chess pieces inside. Perhaps towering isn’t the best word, after all I’m under 4 feet tall, but they were bigger than me, easily as large as an Eladrin.

I was considering the room suspiciously, because it was the first room that I had seen in the complex empty of guards, when a door at the other end of the room opened. Through it came a large man carrying a polearm. I was exposed in this room, but it was only one opponent, so I began to ready an attack when the man spoke. He entreated me to let him past. He didn’t want trouble. “Fine by me,” I figured. Better not to engage against a soldier when I can help it. He proceeded across the room using a curious path and out the door next to me.

His path made it clear that the room was trapped and as I began to consider this, the other door burst open and a group came into view. They were a Shifter, a brace of Eladrin and a Goliath. This could be a problem, I thought, but they weren’t hostile, yet.

One of them asked if I had seen a man come this way, and I said that he had passed by. They started to move across, and I had a decision to make. It may have been funny watching them spring the trap and clearly I would learn from that, but instead I shouted to them that the room was trapped and began to help them cross the room.

Why is it that some people just won’t listen to help? Sure enough, one of them, an Eladrin I think (probably thinking they were too superior to accept the advice of a Gnome), stepped off of the safe path. Suddenly the chess pieces were animated.

“Just great,” I thought. Now I had to pull them out of it. The two who had crossed the room, the Shifter and one of the Eladrin were already pressing me into a corner and they were fumbling around the room striking these chess constructs. Pretty soon I figured out the trick to the room and began shouting instructions to them to help them move around without worsening the situation. Even at that, the chess pieces were doing some heavy damage until I managed a trick to shut down the encounter …

In the aftermath, I learned that they called themselves the Shining Shadows and I decided to tag along since they obviously had enough muscle to allow me to pursue even more difficult areas to gain more magical knowledge. So now I’m a Shining Shadow, father will laugh himself silly about that one, but no big deal, he’s not here making it on his own.

Irvyn's Log 2

These people are crazy. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into.

They tell me they were hired by a dwarf named Traevus. No big deal, dwarves are a bit dull for my taste, but their gold is good, so it’s fine working for them. Then we meet with this Traevus and the group goes ballistic on him. He’s just as bad jumping down their throats and rounding on me with suspicion. I was just trying to be friendly. I thought there would be bloodshed, right there in the tavern, no concept of diplomacy in this group.

The group is a varied menagerie.

A Shifter — big hairy ball of aggression named Jagged. He’s an ok sort, but all adrenaline and force. He keeps trying to grab me, probably to show off for the girls (compensating for something), but he hasn’t managed yet. I’m keeping an eye out anyway because you can never tell… Every time he tries, I manage to use my magic to modify his appearance in some way, picture a big hairy shifter with pink fur and purple spots fighting goblins.

There’s an Eladrin male Lithan’ael, Leethainel, Lithanal, something like that. Those Eladrin gents always choosing odd spellings for their names that sound like nothing more than fluff on a stick. Arrogant (or is that redundant for an Eladrin?), but still a fair arcanist. Not as knowledgable as me, and he’s certainly been at it much longer (they can be taught, but it takes forever) but he certainly hits with a punch. For all his preening and posing, he’s a fair companion.

The other Eladrin is Anabeth. She’s violence wrapped in a cloth of beauty. She’d just as soon kill you and take your gold as shake hands with you (unless the handshake produced a better profit). She’s quick and dirty in a fight, preferring violence to a well thought strategy. She does have a soft spot though for a lad named Jerry. I guess it’s just a good thing that she’s on our side.

Lydia is a bard from over 1,000 years ago. She’s a Gnome, and thus a more stable traveling companion than the others, but she’s been out of touch for so long that she knows nothing of the world. She might as well be a newborn. She does play pretty music though.

Finally, the group picked up a Goliath somewhere (or did she pick them up, literally?). Gall is a big blue woman who has a heart of gold (hope Anabeth doesn’t find out or she’ll try to cut it out for the profit). She cares for this group and makes sure they are healthy and ready to go (it’s just like having mom along, if mom was nearly three times as big).

So now we’re following Traevus as he goes off on personal business because another dwarf, Grundlemar says we should. He’s probably right, Traevus was just as nuts as the rest of the group and shouldn’t be allowed to run loose…

Irvyn's Log 3
Slice and Dice

Following Traevus turned out to be pretty simple, just make a beeline for the swamp. If we weren’t sure about whether he was to be trusted, all we have to do is look at where his “personal business” is. Unless he’s out relieving himself and really needed privacy, there’s simply no reason for him to be going into the Witchlight Fens, let alone at night. Our group (without the Rogue, Anabeth, who was chatting with her friend Jerry), set off on our new horses to follow.

Along the way we learned:

  1. We don’t like going into the Witchlight Fens at night.
  2. Gall can’t help trying to pet stray dogs, even if they are wolves.
  3. Putting your teammate to sleep, even accidentally, when she is fighting a wolf is a bad idea, especially if you miss the wolf.

So we got past a wolf (Gall now has a wolf skin cloak) and entered an old ruined tower that history tells us used to be Kalton Manor. We figured that Traevus had to have come this way, so in we went only to come face to face with zombies.

Funny things, zombies, they’d have been no problem at all if we only had a cleric along. As it was, we had a fight on our hands. They kept grabbing at us, but I was able to used mind control to move them away (I’m really surprised that zombies have enough of a brain to be hypnotized, but I’m not about to argue the point with them). In the end, the zombies were dealt with and we were faced with a closed door. No problem, just ask Anabeth to check it for traps and unlock it… Oh yeah! that’s right! She wasn’t around! Well that won’t stop the Shining Shadows! Did I mention that our team is crazy?

We opened a door into an empty large room with grooves in the floor. Empty rooms typically mean no problem, right? Not so. Huge blades swung through the room on a regular basis. A trap, hmm…, let’s just have Anabeth see if she can disable it. Oh yeah! That’s right! She still wasn’t around! So Jagged, big brave musclebound brute that he is, ran heroically across the room to try to disable the trap. It was a thing of beauty watching him run across the room, open the panel and then get knocked flat by one of the blades. Pretty soon, we had Lydia and Lithan’ael helping him while Gall was breaking the blades one at a time with her axe.

Let me tell you something, there simply isn’t much an illusion can do against a mechanical trap. No matter how grumpy your teammates get or how much you want to help, there simply isn’t anything that will make a swinging blade think that an illusion is something to be feared and make it change course. Of course I wasn’t completely idle. I did adjust the lighting in the room to create a nice mirrored ball effect. As long as we were being chopped up by a trap that our absent thief should have handled with ease, at least we could do it with nice atmosphere. Oh yes, and I did zap a roach with a magic missile (have to keep the place clean of vermin). Of course at one point I did prudently state that we should simply get out of the room and wait for Anabeth to show up, but the least said about the team’s response to that, the better.

Jagged did eventually do enough damage to the mechanism to prevent it from working, and we all took a nice rest. Of course who should show up just after that rest, Anabeth dragging a Cleric in tow. How timely! How wonderful! Now if we could just re-live the prior day…

Irvyn's Log 4
Clerical errors

Kalton manor was a hoot! I can’t wait to go into other deserted ruined buildings filled with all manner of monsters just to heroically chase a lone dwarf. But I get ahead of myself.

Anabeth had brought us a new friend when she showed up, a cleric half elf named Dara. Dara isn’t one of those clerics out to “spread the light” which is interesting being a cleric of Pelor. Instead she seems to care about taking care of our health and surviving. This is, of course, to mean that she is sensible (that won’t last long with this bunch).

So into another room of this ruined tower we go only to find a large conflict with all manner of undead. Public Service Announcement: if there are undead around, there’s bound to be a necromancer somewhere. We looked to our cleric to turn the undead. Isn’t that half of what clerics do? Sure it is and we all smile, waiting for the moment for her to say… “I’m sorry, I don’t turn undead.” If not for the scraping of skeleton bones across the floor (getting closer by the second), you could have heard a feather fall to the ground.

So we went to work and were left with a pile of bones, several sarcophagi and a magic ward that we needed to pass. It didn’t take long to realize that this was going to require a special key to break. We began searching the areas that we could reach and found the key had been divided into four parts. To avoid a complete retelling, suffice it to say that much blood was spilled (some of it ours) and much effort was expended (almost none of it mine) and heroic steps taken (almost all of them mine) to obtain the parts of the key.

Conveniently, just as we found the last part of the key, our quarry shows up acting very chummy, or as chummy as one can with Jagged holding him and Anabeth threatening with her sword. He was quite chatty in this position and we learned a bit about his inability to let go of his grief over the loss of a family member. I personally haven’t lost a close family member (I remember exactly where I put them), but I hope that should the day come where I have to face that, I won’t live the rest of my life for revenge. Never can tell though.

In any case, Traevus tells us of his former evil necromancy teacher, who he killed, who is apparently not ready to give up this plane. He urges us to go confront this undead mage. Well, we’ve come this far and it seems silly to simply kill Traevus and leave, so through the ward we go.

I don’t remember parts of this fight. Apparently, Anarus, the necromancer, is quite good with charm spells and I was his unwilling pawn during part of the encounter.

The group, however, was faced with two threats, Traevus (who simply decided that he’d be better off facing Anarus alone after backstabbing all of us) and the aforementioned necromancer. I don’t really understand Traveus’ reasoning here, without us, he’d simply have no chance against the undead array in the room, he should have turned against us after we were heavily wounded. Since I’m writing this (and he’s not), it’s obvious that his plan didn’t work.

We came away with some treasure, some new stories to tell, and a decision to keep our new cleric friend, Dara, around, especially since Lydia, our bard had become very quiet and inactive.

Into Dal Nystere! (part 1)

The session began with the 6 of us Shining Shadows in the two teleportation circles in the entrance moments after speaking the words “Dal Nystere” and letting fall a drop of dragon’s blood in a circle of standing stones not far from the Woodsinger Elves’ camp.

I, Lithanael, was the first to act. With my Starshadow Blade already pulsing in my grasp, I quickly made my way to a goblin next to one of the two cages containing the drakes. Although there was shock in his eyes at our arrival, he was already making his way over to loose a drake from a cage – and I was not about to let that happen. I took advantage of the small opening next to a line of my flat-footed companions and Wield the Warped that little green skinned swine on the other side of me, isolating him on the the other side of a 3-man thick wall of Shining Shadow. Gall was quick to make it to the other cage, and although she didn’t act fast enough to prevent the cage from being opened, she did, in her hulking Goliath-like manner, make an effective door herself – keeping that second drake encaged. Good, I thought. The drakes are neutralized for now.

I deftly made my way up the wide staircase to engage the goblin leader, who appeared to have some amount of spell power. Together with Annabeth, we spent a good dozen seconds slashing and blocking this wretched creature on the staircase. Ahh, the sweet ballet of two Eladrin in a dance of death.

After placing him in his eternal rest, we joined the rest of the party in their drake desert. For a bit of variation, I resorted to some Eldritch Bolts on the drakes. As I’ve always been taught, “when the pressure is off and the battle is flowing smoothly, drill yourself on all your skills so as to never grow rusty.” And so I did.

When the last drake breathed his last we took a few minutes searching around the room. At the top of the stairs there was a landing with glowing runes. Had I not been busy reading the scrolls on another table ::coughcuttingmywatermeloncough:: I would have inspected these runes. Alas, one of the less patient and more impulsive folk that I grace my presence with fell victim to their defenses. The little gnome ended up calling on his vast (though inferior to mine) knowledge of the Arcane and removed the dangers of the ward.

Learning little from the clues in the room, I brilliantly suggest to Dara that the speak with dead ritual that she used previously may be of use here. The second attempt was much more fruitful than the first, in which we learned that the goblins were providing a service to some sort of undead master. They were directed by him to claim their reward in the form of some maps from the table atop the landing on the staircase. It was right after this undead master’s retirement into the adjacent room that we, the Shining Shadows, made our arrival and claimed the reward meant for the goblins as our own.

Dara's Journal 1
This is the (spiked) pits!

Whew! We survived! It was touch and go, I wasn’t sure if we would for a while there. It’s very disconcerting to suddenly appear in a room full of enemies. Travelling through stone circles with dragon’s blood is not for the faint of heart.

We dispatched said enemies and we were faced with two doors. Our goliath listened at the doors and heard a terrifying invitation from someone on the other side. We were hoping to hear Janella, the halfling child we are trying to rescue.

Our rogue, Anabeth, checked one door for traps, and finding none, entered. I guess she, Gall and Lithan’ael stepped right into one. We could hear the battle noises and we tried to get in through the door that the rest of us were standing next to. It is a good thing I traveled here with Anabeth. She is a font of information about the thief business. I must have listened more closely than I thought, because I picked the lock on the door and discovered the trap on the other side.

A cleric picking a lock, now that’s something you don’t see every day; we just don’t train for that sort of thing. Fat lot of good it did us, though. Jagged triggered the trap and went over the huge pit that opened, leaving Irvyn and me standing there twiddling our thumbs. We just aren’t athletic enough to jump a ten foot spike filled gorge without help. I didn’t really think many people could until I joined up with this group.

Irvyn did this really amazing trick and pulled a bunch of bad guys into the pit. I felt completely useless. I am a healer, but I was too far away to help my team. Even the bad guys didn’t get close enough for me to hurt them. It was frustrating. Irvyn and I were separate from our injured, bleeding team. I thought Lithan’ael was dead; he was just lying there still, bleeding. It was a truly terrible moment for me.

The team finally prevailed, closed up the pits and sealed the room the best we could. We will camp here for the night to heal and rest. I am plagued with worrisome thoughts about Jenella and by what ifs. What if the spider had appeared on Irvyn and my side of the monstrous pits? Yikes!

Dara's Journal 2

Arrgh! I’m starting to think we are never going to be able to learn to work as a team. We have a group of individuals that believe they are invincible: a big cat man (shifter), volatile and dangerous, a goliath, nurturing, much like a momma bear, and dangerous, two eladrin, a hero and a rogue, both quick to do violence, powerful and dangerous, a wizard gnome, the only one with even a drop of caution, funny, sometimes silly, intelligent and of course dangerous.
As a group, it seems they have the definition of the old adage, “divide and conquer” backwards. Invariably, they split up and think they can still conquer. It is so frustrating; the arrogance of these people. They rarely, if ever, voluntarily retreat. We spend our morning being thrashed soundly by a room full of baby spiders, a horrid web, and their very scary momma, only to discover Janella, bludgeoned to death by a flail, and lunched upon by the spiders.

I did the best I could to stabilize her and will try to find someone on our travels to bring her back. We made it out of the spider’s nest without too much damage, but here we go again. We are in total disagreement, and instead of considering what is best for our team and what our goals are (or should be), we are a group of individuals charging off in different directions with different goals.

We are trying to scout out this tower which may or may not be full of enemies. I am hiding behind a tree writing this, as I am about as stealthy as a drake running through a marketplace. Lithan’ael has teleported into a tree. He is intent on an ambush even though we have no idea the size of the force we may be facing. Jagged wants revenge, he wants to kill the goblin that killed Janella. Gall wants to avenge her too. The memory of Janella’s hero worship and her pretty little blue painted face, relaxed in death, is too fresh in her mind for her to think it through carefully. Irvyn is unusually quiet, but as I said, he is one of the only cautious members of this team. He definitely has self-preservation down to an art. I really respect that, even though we all pick on him about it. I’m sure he’s searching out an advantageous, safe location to back up this impulsive group. Anabeth, the most impulsive of us all, is peeking in the door of the tower. I’m praying to Pelor that she won’t get us all killed.

Oh blessed Pelor! They are inviting us in! They must have us confused with someone else. I hope we can convince them they are right. There has already been enough bloodshed for one morning.

Big Grigbad
Dal Nystere - Day 78

Two months garrison duty boring! Only few raids. No life for warrior. Sitting around is disgusting. Troops getting sloppy. Uthrick says wait, so we wait. We want fight!

Raid on farmers not real fight. Was … beneath us. Kill farmers, take girl fun, but no challenge. Kill girl disgraceful for warrior. Goblins, jabbering and stupid, do these things, not Hobgoblin warriors.

Vhennyk’s people come and we be nice. We not servants! They act scary. Ha! Humans, Elves, Tieflings, all weak, not like Hobgoblins. Uthrick work with Vhennyk, so we soldier on.

Another group from Vhennyk coming now, maybe ‘rock-out’ will show them about toughness…

Dara's Journal 3

We didn’t die…yet.
We sauntered into this hobgoblin held tower like we owned the place, pretending to be Vhennyk’s go-betweens. It quickly became apparent that they had never actually met Vhennyk. That made it easier to carry on the charade, but playing soldier games with hobgoblin warriors is not my idea of a good time. Have you ever stood against a wall and let something throw rocks at you?
Nor are they fans of Pelor. I tried to make them believe my holy symbol was a spoil of war, but I don’t think they bought it. Then on to the drinking games, I was appalled to find that they had mulled a fabulous Marl vintage!! That, more than anything, convinced me this was a classless group. When I found out they were followers of Bane, I confronted their leader about their sloppy, drunken state. I could hardly believe it when he shouted at his men for me. He yielded more information when Lithan’ael talked to him. We found out he was responsible for Janella’ death and he was disgusted with himself for having had to follow orders to kill her and to destroy Marl. He handed over a captive halfing to us. I guess we earned his trust or maybe he his self-disgust at capturing and killing small females outweighed his good sense. We had to let him and his soldiers depart to go on patrol. There were just too many of them for us to defeat, plus he did not give those heinous orders. I’m pretty sure all of the Shining Shadows agree that finding the guy in charge is our next, immediate goal. We are pretty angry at the senseless violence against the innocent. We released Hanalee, a trained druid. She is all for taking out the leader of this motley crew.
I think we may have made a misstep in our scam, because when we got up the stairs we were ambushed by more hobgoblins and their undead skeleton friends. I hope this next flight of stairs leads us to our quarry…and that we live.

Iron Circle Captain
Harken Keep - day 83

These ungrateful peasants! We come to this valley, bringing order, justice and structure and all they want to do is fight. Their Baron was ridiculous, no real defenses other than his castle walls and no army. Anyone could have marched in here and ravaged the countryside. They should be thankful that it was the Iron Circle who brings order and not bandits.

From the start, they resisted, attacking our forces until they had to defend themselves. The incident at Marl was an unfortunate result of the peasants rising up against our troops. We had to defend ourselves. The soldiers had to make it known that attacking the forces of law and order would not be tolerated. As captain, I took those who went too far to task, they won’t act beyond my orders again.

Now there is a new band, the Shining Shadows they call themselves, riding through Harkenwold and rousing the rabble to rebellion. Our sources say they’re allied with the Stablemaster, Dar Gremath in Albridge. How do these people think that we can respond in any way other than force to such treachery against our rightful rule? We ride out tomorrow to Albridge to break this force and put down this rebellion so that afterwards, we can establish an orderly system of laws and show these peasants what civilization should be, instead of the constant fighting that they prefer, and that the Iron Circle’s power is to be respected…


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