a study of mortality rates in imaginary populations
August 11 2009
- 250 gp
- 3 healing potions
- Acrobat Boots
- Orb of Ultimate Imposition +1
- Cracked Orb (unidentified)
Journal Entry Three
The spirits move us in unpredictable ways. Trusting to their wisdom, we stay on the True Path. The last few days tested our mettle to stay on the Path, but I believe we have been guided well by those who traveled it before us.
As we returned to the ice cave, we were met by Erevan who told us who had been separated from Fiercethorne, Valandra and Sister Gwynn. Erevan said an ice slide cut him off from the others, but I suspect Fiercy created the ice slide intentionally to spend a little quality time alone with Sister Gwynn and Valandra.
As the rest of us scouted around the area while Fiercy relaxed with the ladies, Erevan spotted several skeletons frozen under the ice. They appeared to be bugbear by my reckoning. We continued down the ice tunnel deeper within the mountain. Erevan conjured a magical light to guide us, and the flickering light on the tunnel walls masked an animated skeleton on the corridor floor. This skeleton swung his sword anemically at us, and lacked the strength even to stand up. Amused by this oddity, we continued on, leaving the poor tortured soul undisturbed.
After turning a corner, our tunnel emptied into a large cavern. A large ice mound had formed in the center of the cavern. Bubba was immediately mesmerized by a large pile of gold coins heaped on the ice. I didn’t know at the time, but later realized that the coins bewitched Bubba and robbed him of his good judgment for the remainder of the encounter. Morcadiss’ jaw dropped when he saw the mass of coins, and he rocked back on his heels and let out a low whistle.
Death in the Cavern
Fortunately, Medresh was alert to the danger around us, and rushed up to two skeletons at the side of the ice and smashed one of them into the ice. The creature fell on the ice and broke apart into shards, clattering across the hard surface. In retaliation, two other skeletons cloaked in darkness fired powerful arrows into Medresh, killing him. Erevan fired his magic missile at a skeleton after moving the light into the center of the chamber, revealing three other skeletons, as well as Rafi’s animated corpse. Rafi’s corpse bashed me hard with his shield, smashing me into Medresh. Morcadiss cleaved the skeletons that advanced on him, and Bubba slashed at another of the foul undead. What an unfortunate battle to be without Sister Gwynn!
The healing power of the bear breathed life back into Medresh, who stood up and let his lightning breath arc out, killing another skeleton and singing Rafi’s corpse. The hidden archers turned their arrows loose on me, knocking the wind out of me for a moment. As the remaining skeletons advanced on Bubba and nicked him, Erevan blasted Rafi’s corpse with a magic missile, then conjured a chilling cloud around Bubba, killing another putrid skeleton.
Second Brush with Death
With one vile blow, Rafi’s corpse pounded the life out of me and I fell. As I dropped, I saw Morcadiss run away from the skeleton attacking him and stand between my broken body and Rafi’s corpse. Before my last breath passed over my lips, Medresh spoke to me, erasing my wounds, filling me with vigor and inspiring me to leap to my feet and protect my allies.
Erevan cast another cloud of cold, this time on the deadly archers, making their bones freeze in their joints and fouling their shots. My panthers leapt on Rafi’s corpse, tearing him down. Morcadiss took a running jump and leapt over the ice to attack the archers, charged up and bashed one to the ground with his shield. Bubba fought off the last skeleton skirmisher and Medresh vaulted over the ice to aid Morcadiss.
The Power of Gold
As the first archer dropped his bow and drew his sword, Erevan fired a barrage of magic missiles into it, killing it. Bubba moved to help finish off the remaining threats, but his attention was captivated by the pile of glittering gold, and he changed course toward the coins. In his rapture, he miscalculated, slipped on the ice and fell hard, tried to stand and fell hard again. Eventually he had to crawl to the coins, but began scooping them up and pouring them over himself. Meanwhile Erevan used his magical hand to scoop up as many coins as he could shovel towards himself.
Death in Threes
The final archer hit Morcadiss solidly, and as we cornered it to prevent it from fleeing, it drew its rusted sword and drove it between Morcadiss’ ribs, killing him. Erevan shook off the enchantment from the pile of coins and blasted the undead life out of the archer with another magic missile. Medresh and I tended to Morcadiss and helped him back to life and to his feet.
During this time, Bubba was frantically helping Rafi’s corpse out of his magical armor while Erevan returned to scooping up as many coins as he could. He noticed that the coins came from several different mints. Medresh sifted through the coins and found three healing potions, and doled one out to Bubba, Erevan and Morcadiss, so each of us now has some healing magic. Under the coins, an Eladrin skeleton, formerly from Elirabel, was frozen in the ice with his skull staved in. Erevan found two magical orbs in the Eladrin’s robes, and tucked them in his belt. One glows red and the other, despite being cracked, glows with a blue hue, and apparently has some arcane power, but Erevan hasn’t studied this item fully yet. Lastly, we removed magical Acrobatic Boots from the Eladrin and saved them for Fiercie.
As we exited the cavern, we passed the anemic skeleton again. Only this time, it sprang up and fought us with full strength. At the time, this behavior seemed bizarre. Upon reflection, I can piece it all together: the gold coins in the center of this foul cavern are cursed. They are responsible for powering the vile creatures that attacked us and awakening Rafi from his eternal sleep. Only those of us who faced death in this battle were immune to the foul magic of the coins, as if glimpsing the eternal land of our ancestors bolstered our fortitude against the siren’s call of the glinting metal. Then, as we exited the cave, carrying the cursed coins, the skeleton in the hallway was empowered by the demonic magic contained in the gold, fully falling under their fell grasp and attacking us.
As we returned to the sunlight, I decided I wanted nothing to do with those accursed coins. I offered to give my share of the take to Bubba plus an unlucky thirteen times more in exchange for Rafi’s armor. He agreed after Medresh stared him down with a withering glare. Morcadiss may have made a similar deal with Erevan. The other dwarf and I dressed Rafi’s corpse as well as we could and rewrapped it for travel to the Watchtower. I wonder if Bubba will be able to see beyond the coins and notice how much more there is to life beyond the material.
We ascended the steps to the doors of the Watchtower ruins under the shadow of a great ballista. At the door, a dwarf named Brigga challenged us, but let us in to the settlement after charging Morcadiss with the responsibility of keeping Bubba and Erevan on their best behavior. After we all entered, Brigga whispered something to Erevan, but I couldn’t hear what she said. I’ve never had dealings with Eladrin before, but they sure are a peculiar folk.
About twenty other dwarves were milling about in the Watchtower when we arrived. Most still wore armor and hadn’t washed the stench of battle from their haggard beards. Immediately we met with Travia, who was seated on a crude wooden throne in the main assembly hall. Morcadiss delivered Rafi’s body to Travia, and we explained all that had befallen Rafi since he left the Watchtower, and all that befell us trying to bring him back. Once Travia saw that Rafi was still wearing his armor, her mood lightened and she began to treat us with a bit more courtesy. Did Bubba realize that we nearly forfeit her priceless respect over a handful of metal?
Travia ordered Rafi’s body sanctified. The priests, recognizing that Morcadiss could have taken Rafi’s armor, but didn’t, invited us dwarves to attend the ritual. After a short eight-hour ceremony, a bloodied dwarf burst in from outside yelling “the Watchtower is under attack!”