Crystal Assembly

I remember my password, damnit!

Too much sex with a wombat in the swamp kept distracting our fearless adventurers from the challenge of getting through the marsh. We finally got through the bog using our perception, nature skills, endurance, and athletics.

On the other side of the swamp as we headed up a hill, we were jumped by a gang of yetis.

Do We Really Have To Use the Incinerated Troll Scrota?

From the journal of Arjhan

After quickly dispatching the last troll, we considered the problem of our petrified eladrin wizard. Kuruk knew a healing ritual that could restore him, but it would take time t perform . . . time we didn’t think we had. We decided to split into two teams: one would aid Kuruk in his mystical endeavor and restore Solath as quickly as possible, while the other would delay and distract any incoming trolls. F’lar and Grint decided to aid Kuruk, while the rest of us delayed the trolls.

Under Silvio’s direction, we scouted the caverns very thoroughly, decapitating the dead trolls just in case. Uthrag and Garth began hauling in firewood, intending to build a large bonfire as an anti-troll measure. Silvio said he heard noise coming from further in the cave complex, but no trolls emerged.

Meanwhile, Kuruk and the healing teem seemed to be having trouble; the healing ritual required some sort of chant in Aulde Dwarvish, and Kuruk was having trouble with it. Deciding that Solath’s life was more important that where or when we killed some trolls, I decided to join in the healing. We approached the problem from various ways, using stone and gorgon blood to leach out the poisons under F’lar’s direction, then rubbing Solath’s stoned form with various foul-smelling herbs as directed by Uthrag (who demonstrated a surprisingly subtle understanding of the natural world).

At one point F’lar cut off a pair of troll testicles and suggested that Kuruk rub them all over Solath. I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but to be safe I diplomatically suggested that troll testicles needed to be well-charred first, for best effect, and managed to incinerate the horrid things and put them out of our misery. Sometimes that gnome worries me.

Garth meanwhile lead the other team in assembling a truly monstrous pile of firewood. Shouts from the others heralded the arrival of a troll scout, and I switched tasks with Silvio to lend my diplomatic talents to troll-routing. I thought setting the heap of wood on fire with my breath as I strode through it was a nice touch, but I think it was the flaming severed troll heads I threw at the scout that really impressed him. He departed much more swiftly than he had come, taking some fire with him.

Returning through the bonfire, I was delighted to hear Solath’s voice demanding to know why he was covered with gorgon blood and foul-smelling ashes. We brushed aside his irrelevant questions and swiftly laid our plans for Tornak the Troll King. They included a frontal assault and much mayhem.

We decided not to give the trolls much time to prepare, and pressed on with all speed. Climbing a massive set of stairs, we encountered the final chamber, which contained another pack of various trolls, as well as one particularly large and hideous brute towards the rear, with some sort of crown emerging directly from his head. Undoubtedly, this was Tornak. Thankfully we did not see any gorgons or basilisks.

We quickly decided to hold the stairs rather than risk being surrounded by trolls and cut off from support. Solath, demonstrating why we’d gone to such efforts to de-stone him, threw up a spell that had four or five trolls thrashing about aimlessly, seemingly unable to attack us.

To our surprise a handful of smaller creatures suddenly appeared – a goliath, an elf, a halfling, and some sort of fey creature, fighting alongside the trolls. Whoever they were, they were annoying.

And then Tornak made his entrance, somehow magically swapping places with the halfling and mauling the crap out of me with his claws. I made him pay for it with a firey aura I save for such times, and then we all returned the favor. I don’t think anyone missed, and I got in a particularly good strike – a blast of burning sunlight to his face, making him even uglier and healing me of the claw-slashes.

Tornak decided that fleeing like a whiny little girl was the better part of valor, and suddenly he was back at the rear of the cavern with the surprised-looking halfling in front of us.

Over the River and Through the Trolls

From the journal of Arjhan

Enraged at the loss of Solath, I blasted one of the troll-shamans with an acid orb to the genital region. That hurt me just to see it. As the trolls advanced (those that weren’t still fascinated by Solath’s spell) we met them with fury, and soon Garth managed to beat one of the shamans to a squishy greenish pulp. Given that our numbers were fairly even I didn’t think his challenging shout of “One of you for one of us!” was particularly encouraging.

We held the choke point between the two caverns, which allowed only one or two trolls at a time to reach us. They encountered a very angry Garth’s hammer, Uthrag’s axe, F’lar’s daggers, Grint’s strange polearm, and the arrows and spells of Silvio and myself. Kuruk’s dwarvan stamina proved tougher than the petrifying poison of the gorgon, and he began calling down the curses of Moradin upon the trolls and bolstering us with divine magic.

All of us wanted a piece of the gorgon, but the beast – perhaps smarter than it looked – held back and allowed the trolls to charge us first. Silvio’s flaming arrows killed a particularly large and ugly brute, which slashed its claws about in a mad frenzy even as it died. Whenever a troll went down, either Silvio or I seared the corpse with fire, ensuring that it would not rise to trouble us again.

Eventually we cleared a breathing space. Garth was eager to launch himself into the remaining enemies, and only my firm grip on his belt prevented him from abandoning our tactically-superior position. This proved to be a good thing as the gorgon charged our position moments later, breathing poisonous vapors. F’lar took a bad hit, but a quick prayer from Kuruk saved him as the rest of us laid into the gorgon. I had the honor of the killing blow; as it was about to breath once more, I jammed my hand up its throat and unleashed a blast of sorcerous acidic mist.

Not sure if I can salvage a head mount out of that or not.

With the gorgon dead and only a couple of trolls remaining, Garth was finally able to charge the enemy, much to his delight (and their dismay).

A-Trolling We Will Go

From the journal of Arjhan

After a tense night spent readying ourselves for troll-battling, we gave Stumpy the best burial we could manage and pressed on. It wasn’t long before we found a small village, and learned that the late Stumpy was actually the son of Lord Stumphas, the local ruler. The villagers seemed to believe Stumphas would be extremely displeased to learn of his son’s death by troll, which is perfectly understandable. They feared that Stumphas would blame them, though I’m not sure how a bunch of dirt farmers could be expected to defend against marauding trolls.

Recognizing our obvious battle-skill, the villagers began hinting that they could really use the help of some seasoned adventurers against the trollish menace. We had no real reason to track down this King Tornak – he’s never bothered us – but the villagers were so obviously in trouble that we decided to help ’em out. Plus, their desperation might make it easier to bargain with them.

Well, it did, but we overlooked one sad fact: dirt farmers are, appropriately, dirt-poor.

Eventually we agreed to hunt down the trolls in exchange for large quantities of some sort of local beer, which the villagers assured us goes amazingly well with ale-spiced snake jerky.

We headed off in the direction of some caves the villagers believed Tornak and his trolls to be dwelling in. Along the way we passed where the troll corpses had been spotted the previous day . . . only to find them missing. Disturbing. We reached the caves in good order and sent Silvio and F’lar ahead to scout things out.

I don’t know if F’lar tripped or sneezed or what, but suddenly there were shouts and yells, and we were charging into battle. The cave proved to contain a half-dozen or so large and aggressive trolls, with an eight-legged, green-eyed basilisk lurking behind them. Garth, F’lar, Kuruk, Uthrag and Grint engaged the brutes in melee as Silvio, Solath and I held back and peppered them with ranged attacks. Silvio was particularly effective, shouting some Elvish word that made his arrows burst into flame as they left the bow. Trolls really don’t care for fire.

We were holding our own when suddenly one of the trolls grabbed F’lar, picked him up and battered Grint, Garth and Kuruk with him before before flinging him aside. Though he was groggy from being used as an impromptu club, I managed to shock F’lar back to his senses with a draconic snarl, and we pressed on.

The trolls were tough enough, but the basilisk was really annoying – it hung back and focused its lethal gaze on us through the ranks of trolls. Fortunately it proved not be a stone-eye basilisk, but its gaze caused crippling pain, somehow poisoning us from afar. After a short while of this, Silvio and I decided to return the favor, and an arrow through the eye ended the threat of the basilisk.

I guess seeing his friends being physically beaten with his other friend must have pissed Uthrag off, because suddenly he let out a roar and started literally shoving trolls back right and left. A few went down, but we got an object lesson in trollish biology when one got right back up – the bastard had healed while lying there, apparently dead. After that, Silvio and I were very careful to blast the trolls with either fire or acid even if they looked dead already.

It was a tough fight, but we managed to take down all the trolls in the cave. It was about then that we noticed the passage at the back that lead to another cave . . . and heard the sounds of more trolls coming from that direction . . .

With barely enough time to bind our wounds, we headed north to the next cave. This proved to be bisected by a shallow – and extremely odorous – river, which cut us off from the northern side. Said northern side contained several more trolls, including a pair in strange headdresses whom I guessed to be shamans, and several small (well, human-sized) trolls. There was also a massive, bull-like creature with metallic plates covering its hide. A gorgon.

The battle started, with Silvio, Solath and I hurling death and destruction across the river as the trolls advanced. As we formed a line, the gorgon charged us, exhaling some vile greenish vapors. It caught Kuruk, Solath and Garth, and I saw their skin acquire a grayish cast – oh, that was bad. To make things worse, the shaman-trolls (troll-shamans?) started chanting something incomprehensible and pointing at people, causing bloody wounds to spontaneously appear on their bodies.

Unable to close with the spellcasting trolls and hemmed in by the river, we decided on a tactical withdrawal. Solath, moving stiffly, managed to throw up a spell that clustered the trolls and kept them out of our hair while I dragged a nearly-immobile Kuruk to safety. Garth held them back until the rest of us were back through the passageway into the previous chamber.

And as we got through, Solath turned entirely to stone.

Alas poor Stumpy

From the journal of Arjhan

With the dragon rejuvenated, we attacked with new ferocity. The groundbound melee fighters began leaping into the air and flailing wildly at the dragon as Silvio, Solath and I continued to pepper him with ranged attacks. Grint took to shouting advice to us, pointing out openings and offering encouragement.

Eventually, despite Solath’s efforts to magically force the beastie down, the dragon flew out of range of our most effective attacks (all save Silvio and myself). Garth attempted to goad the dragon into battle by desecrating the corpse of one of the stormlizards, but his heart didn’t seem to be in it. He and Uthrag had little recourse but to throw javelins at it, with F’lar tossing his magical returning dagger and he and Uthrag maneuvering directly beneath the dragon for the optimal shots.

Finally, with a roar of rage that would have done the dragon itself proud, Uthrag hurled his javelin straight through the monster’s eye. The dragon gave out an earsplitting screech, convulsed, and dropped like a stone – directly onto Uthrag and F’lar.


To make matters even worse, the rest of us heard answering screeches, and the keen-eyed Solath noticed more dragons flying our way from the north. As Uthrag and F’lar dragged themselves from the corpse of the ex-dragon, we ran. I dragged Uthrag to his feet, while Garth simply grabbed F’lar and carried him. We made it to a small cave at the southern end of this huge cavern just as the lead dragon drew near.

Inside the small cave was a portal – nonfunctional. As Solath tried to figure out how to make it go, and the rest of us shouted advice of varying quality, Garth positioned himself just outside the cave and defied the dragons. He quickly paid a price, as the lead dragon spat lightning at him. Silvio responded in kind, drawing blood, and Solath finally got the portal open. We all leaped through, not knowing our destination but hoping it would prove dragon-free.

We found ourselves in a small stone room. After Solath quickly shut down the portal behind us, we rested up and explored. Leaving through the solitary door, we found ourselves in a wooded valley. The location was unknown to any of us, and when night fell, those who knew about such things said that the stars were unfamiliar. Apparently we’re a ways from home.

Also, our rings aren’t working for some reason. We can’t teleport back to Crystal’s place, and we can’t seem to communicate with her. Disturbing.

What’s even more disturbing is the several dead trolls we found, apparently bitten and clawed to death by something meaner than they. Moving on, we set up camp, only to be interrupted around midnight by someone crashing through the bushes. It proved to be a human who gave his name as Stumphas, and who said he had just escaped from some man-eating trolls. Lending veracity to his story was the fact that he was missing an arm and a leg, each apparently gnawed off.

We tried to heal “Stumpy” as best we could, questioning him about the trolls meanwhile, but he did not live out the hour. He said he’d escaped from the northern trolls, a band who have apparently conquered or displaced all the other troll bands. These northerners are lead by one Tornak, a self-proclaimed Troll King.

Sounds like fun.

That's our goblin proctologist

From the journal of Arjhan

As the dragon came swooping in from the southwest, we scattered, knowing that blue dragons are fond of ranged and area attacks. Sure enough, the dragon spat lightning at Garth as it came swooping in. The rest of us attacked, Silvio, Solath and myself at range, Garth, Uthrag, F’lar, Grint and Kuruk by charging in. The dragon was tough; many of our attacks either missed entirely or spattered harmlessly off the dragon’s sapphire scales,

Except for Silvio. He must have studied dragon-slaying at the Elf Archer’s Academy.

Meanwhile, the dragon blasted us with lighting, clawed those who got to close, and tried to overawe us with its very presence. We kept at it, Solath and I slowing the beast with magical attacks in an attempt to keep it grounded where the others could hammer it.

F’lar got in a good blow, loosening some scales, and the dragon attempted to grab him and fly off. The little gnome squirmed free; I’m not sure how, and continued hacking at the dragon’s tendons. I think F’lar slowed him down even more than Solath and I did together. The dragon tried to grab him a couple more times, but finally had to give it up – F’lar was just too slippery.

Despite all our efforts, the grisly beast managed to take to the skies again, although not without a beating from F’lar, Garth and Uthrag. As it lifted off, Grint made a leaping charge atop his obsidian sabretooth cat and jammed that weird goblin polearm of his into the . . . err . . . rear of the dragon. I thought that shriek would burst my eardrums.

And then the dragon called out a prayer to Tiamat and healed visibly. Oh, crap.

Snake Jerky

From the journal of Arjhan

Some quick healing and Grint was back on his feet – well, his cat’s feet – and charging the naga. I heard him screech something about “iron dragon strike,” and whatever it was pretty much exploded the naga’s head. I’m not really sorry to miss that specimen. After that, the rest of us ganged up on the statue (those of us who could staying clear of it’s extremely annoying aura) and pounded it into gravel.

Checking the pit, we found it to be full of snakes. Solath’s flaming sphere made short work of them, and a little work and ale gave us some ale spiced snake jerky. We also found the remains of several previous adventurers in the pit, and we considerately gave their gear a new home.

The cavern walls, now that we could take the time to look at them, proved to be covered by snake-related paintings and images, including one that Kuruk and Solath said was Zehir, Queen of Serpents and patron of the yuan-ti. Also, we found a portal in the rear of the cavern, which was good since our entryway had mysteriously sealed up when the statue crumbled. Solath deduced that it lead to Tytherion, the Endless Night, home of both Zehir and Tiamat the Chromatic Dragon. We decided to rest up before potentially bearding two deities in their own den.

We found ourselves in a smaller cavern, opening into a truly enormous cavern, and the portal died behind us – either it’s one-way or it’s out of juice. Moving cautiously into the larger cavern, we were assaulted by a pair of blue, reptillian beasties burrowing beneath the layer of ash that covers the ground. Solath and I recognized them as bluespawn stormlizards, deviant dragonspawn created by Tiamat. Garth, Uthrag, Grint and I teamed up on one of the lizards, leaving the other to our other party members. At one point I manage to blast both of them with arcane ice, although Garth was in the middle of the area. He saw me hesitating and yelled “Do it!”, so I did.

How was I to know he would try to stop my spell with his face!

The stormlizards went down quickly enough, and as they died we heard the flap of huge wings to the south.

An adult blue dragon.

Shit just got real.

The dwarf's going down on the snakes!

From the journal of Arjhan

The battle continued, as Solath, Kuruk and Garth pinned down the owlbear while the rest of us hammered away at the ettins. The two-headed giants finally fell, and we turned our wrath on the owlbear, now backed into a corner and unable to maneuver. Ultimately, it was Silvio who killed it with a shot to the left eye.

Exploring the room, we found a pair of massive brass doors set in the back wall. We roped our gnome and sent him and Silvio ahead to scout things out, while the less-stealthy team members waited. When the rope twitched, the rest of us hurried in – at least there wasn’t any screaming yet.

We found ourselves on a ledge, twenty feet above a cavern floor. Said cavern had a large pit in the center, and was inhabited by two large snake swarms and, at the far end from us, a hostile-looking naga with a stone humanoid statue standing beside it. The naga was hurling bolts of eldritch energy at us, so Silvio and I began returning fire. Garth was hit and briefly stuck, but Kuruk freed him to leap off the ledge and engage one of the snake swarms. Well, maybe he squashed a snake under his head when he landed.

The naga hurled something large and glowy at us, and suddenly it got hard to think. Not helping matters, the statue animated and gestured towards Uthrag, who gave a pained grunt. I happened to be standing near him, and it felt like he was stabbing me in the brain. Not good. Fortunately, he jumped down to help Garth.

As Silvio began feathering the naga with arrows and the rest of the part dropped down to help Garth and Uthrag, I unleashed the fury of draconic sorcery on the other snake swarm. That froze over half of ’em, so I casually polished off the survivors and then climbed down.

Grint, meanwhile, was charging the statue; as he sprinted by I heard Garth bellow something about “grabbing your inner snake.” Don’t want to know, thank you. Solath and I harried the naga and the statue with magic as Grint charged, backed up, and charged again. A bolt of energy from the statue flung him to the edge of the pit, and he and his cat went down and stopped moving.

Why did it have to be snakes?

From the journal of Arjhan

After not nearly enough rest and recuperation, we received a new mission from crystal. It seems she wanted us to run an errand as payment for Grint’s being allowed to join up with us…okay, sure. Crystal owed some fellow a favor and we were being sent to make good.

We teleported in near Serpent Woods and soon made our way to the town…I never did catch the place’s name. The headman there told us that people had been disappearing lately, and directed us further into the woods, towards another village named Sedgewen.

We arrived in Sedgewen without incident. The Sedgewenites seemed pleasant enough, though the big black pot suspended over a firepit in the center of town was a bit…unnerving. We also notices various snake-related symbols and suchlike…was this a village of snake-worshipers? And could I hiss convincingly if I had to? In any case, they denied knowledge of any disappearances, and assumed were were planning to explore “the ruins.” Said ruins were supposed to be rich with treasure. We decided to check out these ruins in the hops of finding some treasure – I mean, some of the missing villagers.

After several hours of slogging through the Serpent Woods, we came to the ruins and started poking around. F’lar and Silvio quickly found a large, half-ruined chamber, but it proved to be inhabited by a pair of ettins and the biggest damn owlbear I’d ever seen.

We decided against diplomacy. Garth unleashed a blood-chilling Orcish warcry and charged, and the rest of us followed. Solath used magic to knock one of the ettins into their campfire, which was amusing, and soon thereafter F’lar blinded both ettins (all four heads!) with a barrage of hurled daggers.

Things took a turn for the worse when the owlbear, bleeding but still full of fight, unleashed a thunderous screech and a burst of frigid air that froze our feet to the ground.

Still, what a specimen it will make!

Catching Up...

From the journal of Arjhan

I am writing this from memory, because my writing supplies were destroyed in battle inside the Pyramid of Shadows. If it seems a bit sketchy, that’s because some things are better left unremembered. If my companions remember things differently, I invite them to write their own memoirs.

We polished off the last of the cambions, and Uthrag found the fire-shooting skull peering into a crystal ball – you can imagine how that combat went. Pressing on, we found an extremely cold room inhabited by frozen zombies and some manner of demon…thing. The demon was extremely irritating, battering Garth mercilessly and proving resistant to fire. Eventually, after clearing out the zombies, we managed to take it down.

In the next room, the flapping of wings heralded the attack of harpies…and sahuagin? Okay, sure. The unlikely team of monsters proved annoying but not terribly dangerous, largely because they did not, in fact, work all that well together. Although we all ended up getting wet, the bad guys got ended.

Next room contained a pit, which contained a goblin. He said his name was Grint “the Mighty,” and after some discussion and terrorizing, we hauled him out and found his gear tossed about the room. He turned out to have a stone statuette that turned into some kind of sabretooth tiger, which he rode like a horse. We decided to keep him around; the sheer “what the hell” factor ought to give us an advantage.

Onward and upward, literally…we found a massive spiral staircase, which proved to be trapped. Each flight was trapped in a different way; how nice. Also, dive-bombing harpies. Grint was wondering why he ever left the nice, safe pit, but we pulled it together and won after only an eternity of falling, cursing, and general flailing about.

Next room – on the upper level of the pyramid – was cold. Extremely cold. Also inhabited by hostile elflike people. We showed them who was boss, despite the extreme slipperiness of the floor. After some practice we managed to find our “ice legs,” and pressed on to a huge, icy cavern with a pool of water at the center. Its inhabitant was a large white dragon. Of course, we ain’t scared o’ no dragon, so we charged (cautiously) forward. The battle was fierce, and the dragon was tough, but we finally beat his scaly ass.

The next area was disturbing – the walls were weirdly soft and fleshy, and there was some sort of inter-dimensional portal-thingy. When I got close to it it started whispering in my head, something about “your glory through another’s pain.” We decided to avoid it.

More fights, more monsters, and after a while they all started to blur together. I remember one chamber that was a huge maze, with wraiths passing through the walls to attacks us and four-armed minotaur skeletons…bastards hit hard. That was touch-and-go, but we won through on teamwork, healing, and raw firepower.

Later there was a fight with some tentacled…things, and their master, a bigger tentacled thing. My brain still hurts from that, especially given the floating magical effect that pummeled us over and over. We finally had to ignore the squidaloth and rain hellfire down on the trap just to buy us some breathing room. After that Squiddy wasn’t as tough as he thought he was, but the calamari sure was a mess.

Finally, after what felt like three months, we reached the top of the Bahamut-damned pyramid, and found ourselves face-to-face with the tiefling bastard who was in charge of the place (I’ve forgotten his name but who cares. His name is Douchey Stupidface). Well, him and what seemed like a hundred of his clones. Turns out he can spawn little Mini-Me’s and swap positions with them at will…very annoying. We hit him with all our rage and frustration, scattering clones like leaves in a hurricane. Finally, Solath managed to imprison him in a mystical cage and the rest of us pummeled him until he went down and stayed down.

This triggered some sort of rupture in the space/time continuum, as such things are wont to do, and we found ourselves (still atop the pyramid) abruptly returned to the Prime plane. Below us, the surviving inhabitants of the pyramid were escaping, including Gresh and his outlaws, although Gresh did stop long enough to give us the suit of magic armor he had promised. There was also a tall, familiar-looking eladrin woman – I saw Solath clutching at his belt pouch and knew my guess was right; the Head of Vyrellis was reunited with the rest of her. Good riddance, I say.

Finally, having slaughtered our way through a diabolical prison room-by-room, it was time for some well-earned rest.


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