Chapter 90- "Do you want to know why we are heroes?"

The slaves are questioned as we rest, and we find that they have come from all over the Harranshire area, some from the towns of Milbourne and Thurmaster, others a few days travel from the two towns. Robbie once more shows his caring sharing side as he announces "The road ahead to freedom is long and hard - there may be casualties, and death may befall you!" to the now petrified females. This is not enough as far as LotD is concerned, and so continues with the equally profound "Do you want to know why we are heroes?" and wonders why there is no response.

The more caring members of the party ask more about the welfare of the former slaves and are told that they where mostly captured by our former enemies - Ramor the red headed warrior and the evil priests, despite the fact that none of them are casters. They where then traded or transferred to the Derro, and possibly via the other evil party that lurks somewhere in the Underdark. The slaves also tell of how the two Derro parties have been at war with one another, although nothing has happened between them for a while now, and that any male slaves that were with them where killed.

To relieve the tension, and to ‘brighten their day’ Robbie starts to dance, and his performance turns out to be very good indeed, as some of the slaves tap their toes while others clap out a tune. When Derro start to appear from behind us, accompanied by the Captain, it is mistaken by the merry entertainer that a new audience is forming, and so yet more party members show their special hidden talents. Unfortunately, not even Beard’s fine dance efforts accompanied by a soothing ballad from Ralllets could persuade the Captain to let us tarry any longer, and like Joseph and Mary, we are turned away.

The party reluctantly move out, led by Rallets now that he has the new found ability of Darkvision. He scouts off into the darkness, melding into the shadows and disappearing from sight, and looks for somewhere where we can suitably house the females. We travel for another few hours, but find nothing appropriate, Robbie sets up a few Rope Tricks to house them all securely.

As we eat, plans are made to save the slaves in case of an attack, obviously involving the old shrinking and bung them in the hankie chestnut. Agador ‘the Fonz’ Spartacus is then born, as with a grin and a ‘Eyyyyyyy’ he climbs into the Rope Trick with 6 Semi naked slaves, lacking only the twin thumbs up and leather jacket to complete the look as he is chosen to guard them.

Not 10 minutes into the first watch, a sly look passes Beard’s features, and he unleashes his infamous collecting bag ‘in a random direction’ through the second Rope Trick hole aiming for Rallets, but catching Max in the face instead. The whole camp awakes to see what the commotion is, and that’s when things start to get difficult, as the Paladin wipes Dwarven faeces from his armour and calls for the Cleric to be disavowed by his God, while Robbie grins and suggests they have a duel, and then changes to the ‘his God is chucking shit at your God’ line of reasoning.

Things finally calm down – but defiantly not over, and sleep is ultimately resumed by all. When morning arrives, Beard finds that he has finally overstepped the mark on the ‘My God likes the exploration of new idea’s and actions’ as he wakes to find all of his lowest tier spells have been denied him.

Then comes the part where we have to explain to the slaves what happens if we are attacked, and with no way to dress it up, they are told as diplomatically as possible, i.e. "..line up, get touched by Robbie, which will make you shrink, then jump in Beards hole". The females look from one delinquent to the other, and baring facial hair and race, the sly look, the glint in the eye, and the inane grins where identical – I am sure I heard ‘better off where we were’ muttered at this point, but I cannot be sure.

With marching order set, we head off, and luckily the only disturbance for the day is when Snagger requests a change in the marching order as the bare buttocks of the females are putting him off his stride. When we stop for lunch, I gather blankets and spare clothing from the party, and with the aid of the Fabricate spell, fashion some better garments than armour and cloaks alone can provide.

Robbie once more starts another of his speeches, this time he wants to school the slaves in the way of the Ninja, so that they can be his personal ‘elite Ninja bodyguards’. As he explains the proper way to leap in front of arrows intended for him, he offers gifts of extra food rations, with the more death defying the ‘save’ the more bread will be given – assuming the slave survives the arrow attack I presume.

We have been travelling for three days now, and Rallets on his normal scouting duties spots an Illithid and some Kuo-toa up ahead. Despite drifting into the shadows, he can tell the fish-men are staring straight at him, so he turns and runs as fast as he can, shouting out a warning to us. The slave safety plan kicks in, and Robbie starts to Shrink the slaves, who then run and jump into Beards hole. With an Obscuring Mist cast to also help the slaves remain undetected, things work well, and Beard flies off a short distance behind us out of range.

Once Rallets is close enough, I Bears Heart the party, and we start to form ranks. Agador and Max are at the front, Rallets close behind, while Beard opens the hole to be confronted by many screaming Lilliputian women. The Illithid is the first into view, and blasts the area with his mind blast attack which thankfully no one succumbs to. The Kuo-toa arrive shortly afterwards, bipedal fish faced humanoids, mostly armed with half-spears and carrying strange glistening shields.

As they get closer to the front rank, the fish-men can be seen in greater detail, and all of them are covered in the same secretion as the shields, and are powerfully built. Some other weapons are wielded, including Tridents, and two larger Kuo-toa carry long-swords, while one at the back holds a harpoon. Robbie is the first to start the attacks, blasting a wide Lightning Bolt down the corridor towards them, which passes harmlessly over the Illithid and the Kuo-toa as well.

I cast Recitation on the area, catching all but the Illithid due to its spell resistance, and the fight continues with another of Agadors little elemental ‘mix and match’ attacks as the Hasted Wizard casts a Fireball and then an Ice Storm on the collected enemy. As the frost and ash clears, more than 6 froggies lay dead, and only the strongest are left standing, but all showing signs of damage.

Max moves up and attacks the closest Kuo-toa, and soon it lays dead with tell tale slash marks, while the Illithid steps back and motions to the 3 Kuo-toa surrounding him to take care of the Paladin. Robbie shoots one of them while I fly to the Mindflayer to land a crushing blow to its side, and Agadors next contribution after his spectacular fireworks display a mere few seconds previous is to stub his toe on an imaginary turtle and drop his weapon.

The Illithid buggers off before I can finish it, Robbie continues to fire more arrows until he drops his bow in a mong like fashion, and I land behind one of the Kuo-toa that are surrounding the Paladin, smashing it in the back. Agador has now retrieved his weapon, and after moving to attack a Kuo-toa, kills it whilst Max cuts down another.

With only two of their number left, and the Illithid leading them retreated, the Kuo-toa ignore their many fallen and continue to pound into the severely wounded Paladin. With a heal from me to perk his strength up enough to cut another down, Agador kills the last, and after checking to make sure all are ok, we start to check over our new enemy.

The sticky shields are tested by Max, who immediately gets stuck to it, and then in a time honoured comedy fashion gets his foot stuck to it as he tries to pull the shield from his hand. Snagger comes to his rescue, and soon the Paladin is free – this is obviously the disarming method that was mentioned to us by Salas when we first learnt that Kuo-toa where possible foes.

Once the fallen are searched, we continue our travel back to the surface, and nothing else troubles us until we reach the troublesome wurm hole area, where the cavernous ravines and treacherous footing. The area is navigated by the aid of Tenser’s Floating Disk, Beards Portable Hole, and a couple of the more dexterous ones tied to me as I hover along – more a case of being able to heal and or protect them rather then my legendry agility.

With only a slight hiccup in our ravine crossing, and one not worthy of journal note only because it reinforced the poor selection of anchor man, we continue past, and within two slow weeks arrive at the former Ooze temple. It seems the Gnomes have moved to reclaim much of this area, and have set up a guard post, and we inform them of the information we have so far regarding the denizens of the Underdark.

Rallets scouts the area ahead, seeing only Gnomes and with no opportunities to ‘examine’ anywhere, returns empty handed. Beard travels to the shrine to pray for his previous misgivings, where after many hours of silent prayer he is atoned for his sins. I on the other-hand have had a calling of my own to the temple, and once Beard has completed his time there, I begin to pray.

I have found that my spell abilities have now increased, and wish to enhance my power for the betterment of Gorm’s service, and so cast Planer Ally to seek spiritual guidance in this matter.

After an hour, my prayers are interrupted by a source of light above the altar, one that starts as soft as a single candle, and glows steadily, increasing in luminance as well as size until it fills the area surrounding the altar. The centre of the light parts and then widens, and from within the light, a heavily armoured male white skinned Dwarf appears. His armour is made of a strangle metal lit with an inner brightness, embossed with many Runes of power and also the flaming mask emblem of Gorm Gulythn. The Dwarf has his helm carried under the arm, allowing his luxuriant beard of silver to be proudly displayed in the five braids of power.

"Why have you summoned me?" The Dwarves eyes bore into me, the voice deep and clear echoing in my mind telepathically, while the celestial Dwarf stands within the light on the altar.

"I seek the betterment of my abilities, to further and enhance my knowledge so that I can strive to be one of Gorm’s devoted servants. I choose the path of the Contemplative, and seek your acceptance, believing that I have followed scriptures and the guidance of the embodying principles and celestial qualities that this path can provide."

"Grassy Knoll. It has been acknowledged that you are one that can follow this path with Gorm’s blessing, but a task must be completed before the true path is opened to you. Will you accept this task?"

"I would be honoured to fulfil any such task requested in Gorm’s name, and accept the charge as a blessing."

The celestial raises his arm and floats down to me, placing his hand on my head. I notice the exquisite Dwarven Waraxe hanging from his hip for the first time, magical runes depicting those of fire, although more powerful than the ones that are engraved on my own axe. Along with this are runes that I know signify a Holy blade, and many more that are unrecognizable to me. As the Celestial touches me, I feel a spell cast, and know that I have been placed on a Geas, but only one of lower potency.

"Grassy Knoll. Within the evil city, in the possession of Illithids is a certain crown. Retrieve this crown and return it to this place. Call me again, and I will remove it from this plane of existence. Until that time, I will grant you that which you seek, but failure in this task will see you fall from the Contemplative path, one that will not be available to you again."

As the Celestial’s voice fades from within my head, I see a vision of a tall Illithid, wearing magnificently jewelled robes, while on his head is a finely crafted silver crown. The crown is highly detailed, and contained within the design are duplicates of the emblems found on the Illithid badge that we had found earlier. The Illithid is also a divine caster, a Cleric, and an Un-Holy symbol is seen round his neck, but I could not make out whom the deity was.

The vision fades, and the celestial Dwarf steps back and up into the light and is gone, while I remain praying at the altar for many more hours before joining the rest of the party.

With the work here at the temple done, we make our way back to the Gnomes and onwards towards the surface with the slaves. We meet with Carmaren once more, and tell her all that we have found out, including our meetings with the Kuo-toa and Derro. She in turn tells us the only piece of information she knows, that the Kuo-toa are unstable, and that the whole city is on the border of insanity.

Agador checks the brooches from the Derro once more, and discovers that they make its wearer easily affected by mind altering spells. They also seem to be somehow slaved to the Illithid brooch, which in turn appears to be linked to something else more powerful.

With 3 weeks travel left to go to the surface, we realise that we don’t have the rations to be able to supply the slaves with food, so Robbie offers to go to Milbourne to stock up. Wind Walking is Robbie’s chosen method of transport, the first to use my latest spell, and armed with a huge list, he goes shopping. Travelling at high speeds, the normal travel time is cut to mere hours, even after he mistakenly follows the advice of some of the members of the party who can’t read maps properly, and heads in the wrong direction.

Robbie arrives not far from Milbourne, hidden in a small copse of trees, and casts Alter Self to disguise himself. Concentrating, he becomes a Human, bearded and handsome, clothed in fine garments. This high quality apparel marks him as ‘well to do’ despite his obvious travel weary appearance, and his demeanour and jaunty swagger shows that he looks like he knows how to strike a bargain, and finally, the fact that his hat is set at a rakish angle means that he defiantly will not take any lip from children.

Stepping out of the trees in his new guise, he strolls down to the town below heading towards the shop. A guard hails the newcomer, and immediately is greeted with "Hello Guard. I am a traveller, a gentleman, and a purveyor of goods. I seek a place to purchase fineries."

The guard motions to the building within the centre of town, and the bearded Human strolls off, pausing only long enough at the door to see pictures bearing the likeness of most of the party, along with the words ‘WANTED’ in big red lettering.

The shopkeeper greets the Human in a friendly if not distant manner, that is until Robbie starts to buy up all of the stock, where he suddenly becomes most enthusiastic, running from one side of the shop to the other gathering items. With Robbie’s magical guise protecting him, he just cannot help himself as he takes up a string of sausages and poses in a similar fashion to an image on the wall bearing the Elven likeness of the Dance Lord along with the words ‘Wanted Sausage thief’.

The shopkeeper glances thoughtfully at the young man, whom he believes looks like he knows how to strike a bargain, and at the sausages in his hand, but shrugs his shoulders and continues with the order. The last of the huge order, which LotD has explained away as required to supply workers in a new mine that is opening a few miles distant, is fulfilled by visiting a nearby warehouse. Thankfully Robbie avoids all the locals that knew us well in Milbourne, and soon he is loading himself with huge parcels and staggering from the town.

The only people that come to watch the strange traveller carry all the parcels without the aid of cart or horse are small children, who thankfully don’t give him any lip, just the offer to carry the supplies to the nearby copse of trees Robbie came from. Once the boys are gone, he fills the house with all of the items and Wind Walks back to us.

Rallets and Max are to escort the slaves back to the surface, mostly due to the fact that they are the only ones not wanted, and trying to sort out our supposed crimes would side track us from the evil that is being done in the Underdark as well as delay the quest I have had placed upon me. With some two weeks to wait for the two to return, we once more impose upon the Gnomes generosity and craft items to help us. Robbie crafts something, but I did not see what it was, while Beard crafts a Pearl of Power, and I craft a Suit of armour for Max.

Carmaren comes to us some days later and tells us that the Gnome lookout post at the Temple has been over run by Derro, Illithid and the evil party, and she warns us that their position there is unstable. I suggest that we start to block off the corridors with Walls of Stone – not an impassable solution, but enough to delay progress or give warning that something approaches. While we wait for the Paladin and Scout, Camaren and I Wind Walk around the area, casting thick Walls of Stone along the side passages where we can.

Rallets and Max have finally got the slaves to safety, and spend a last night with them within the Garlstone Mines entrance. The slaves chat amongst themselves, and all wonder what they will do with themselves, especially with the large amount of gold they where given earlier by Max, Beard and I.

It is not long into the night when a figure detaches itself from the shadows and sits down to help itself to something to eat at the campfire. "You took your time" Kuiper says, eating one of Rallets dry rations. Max starts to explain what has been going on, but fails, confusing the issue mightily, getting the timeline of events wrong, and missing out important sections. While Rallets fares only slightly better, but at least he manages to get the reason why we are wanted men from Kuiper.

It appears that Agador burnt down Darious Carmans house with a large pyrotechnic display, and then abused his wife, I attacked and beat Squire Marlon to within an inch of his life, Beard abused Count Palfrey in front of many people at a private dinner including his son Lynton, and Robbie was apparently an accomplice to all of the crimes listed above, either aiding in the crime itself, or laughing and pointing as it happened.

They continue to talk into the night, and Kuiper points out the fact that the slaves know of us, and they will tell tales of their rescuers, and that information can only help those against us. We all knew of this potential problem, and short of erasing any knowledge of us from the former slaves memory, there is nothing Rallets or Max could do other than shrug their shoulders.

Kuiper bids them farewell, and says he will think on what was said regarding the two old men and how dangerous they are, and all of the information regarding the Underdark, and will try to contact us later through Lafayer. The morning comes and the pair escort the slaves to the outskirts of town, making sure the slaves reach the city before turning back to the trek through the mines.

As time moves on, Beard and I find that we are having the same dream – two figures are enveloped by acid in a dark room, the humanoid figures flesh eaten away before their bones clatter to the floor. The fact that the dream is only ‘seen’ by Beard and I, and the vision contained acid references makes us think of the former Ooze temple, and so Robbie casts Clairvoyance.

His spell allows him to see the temple itself, and upon the altar he sees two Gnome bodies that have been sacrificed, and evil runes are written in blood on the surrounding walls. I join Robbie in his spell casting by Scrying upon the evil party, choosing the warrior who wielded the frosty sword, and find that they are in Milbourne, sitting in the inn!

With too many of our enemies in Harranshire, it is quickly decided to get to the town to rid us of this nuisance, although we don’t have the means to act until the next day. With the new day arriving, we Scry once more, and find that they are in the grounds of Palfreys Keep. Our plan becomes a farce as we end up Wind Walking in 8 different directions despite all supposedly heading the same way, while Snagger ends up in Milbourne, frightening Grizzler who thought he was a ghost.

The next few hours are wasted as we all fly around oblivious to one another, before Beard Max and Robbie eventually all fly to Kuiper’s farm, landing near to where Kuiper is working. As they materialise, they have adopted the pose of the three wise monkeys, and when Kuiper turns to face the three, they can tell from his facial expression that he is impressed, although its possible he may just have bad indigestion.

Back at the farmhouse, Kuiper finds another three ghosts, and over some fine lunch, we once more Scry the evil party. The spells reveal nothing at all, and it is suggested that they could be hidden within Tausters Tower as that is known to be magically protected.

Wind Walking there we manage to stay together, although that’s where the organisation ends, and as the night falls we resort to playing knock down ginger on Tauster’s front door, only running off when we are spotted by a local guard. Nothing amiss is found in or around Thurmaster, and so our first real taste of being little fluffy clouds ends empty handed as we return to the Underdark.

We find Snagger sitting all alone in our designated rendezvous point, who regales us with tales of him getting completely and utterly lost, before he managed to find his way back here, where he has been sitting on his own in the dark for hours.

Agador
Beard
Grassy
Max
Rallets
Robbie
Salas
For Obscuring Mist to help slaves hide
For holding the Kuo-toan line
For his excellent Altar Self description
For handing cash to the ladies
For blasting dead a load of Koa-toa
For scouting
Absent