Dear Diary…the elves were pulling the strings

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Against the Giants”

Lydia spent some time studying the magic rings – and sure enough, they have the power to grant wishes! We took some time to discuss the possibilities, and finally we all agreed to save them except for two things:

  • That if Aliana ever died, Raise Dead would work on her (wouldn’t help if she’s incinerated, but Raven points out that’s the same for the rest of us), and –
  • If whoever is carrying the rings dies, that they be transported safely to the vault at Haven (much discussion about that one, but we’ll all be fine if it never comes up).

Raven spent quite some time training with his disciples (there’s quite a passle of them now) and he says the God of gods has increased his knowledge, and that his body is even more under his control than it was before (whatever Monk-ishness that means). Glad he’s in a good mood, and so are Keom and Ronhass.

Keom says Ragni and Agni have yet to nail him with any over-ripe fruit, but poor Brother Muloy got a persimmon in the face. Sirion offered him a paste to protect his bare head from the sun, but he had to wait to check with Master Raven that it wouldn’t be “taking the easy road” or something. Madam Whinney says the monks keep them in produce, and they in return catch deer and cougars in the mountains. Keiran seemed struck by the story of the dragon that was actually a gorgon…but then again I could be completely wrong…


Back in the giant fortress, we spent some time following footprints. Some slime creature has been cleaning up bodies, but fortunately we didn’t meet it.

The giants had a camp, and a pen for their hellhounds, in one of the loops of these twisty, turny passages. But I dont think they’ve been there today.

There’s a little staircase tucked in a corner, with light footprints…I can hardly tell anyone’s used it at all. If the map is right (and Raven hasn’t been messing up my drawings again (!)) it should lead behind the guardroom where we theorized there are wererats. None of us feel the need to bother them, so unless we run out of other options, we won’t go there.


This part is a little confusing. Everyone says we fought some ugly, bald guys with tentacle-faces, but I really don’t remember that. Ezekiel says they remind him of a creature he and Aliana killed on their honeymoon trip to the Astral Plain. Maybe I do remember him having a long conversation with some creatures like that, but then I sat down for some reason, so I must have passed out. Also Heiron was making me stay sitting, and he took away my bow, and the Sword of Lyons, and Aliana was borrowing Tressarian to check things for magic! I told Raven he shouldn’t have let them take such advantage of me, but he just told me to eat more cheese and be a good boy, which was not helpful at all.

Ezekiel finished whatever chant he was doing, and said now that I was healed, we could move on. I have never in my life passed out for that long, and I was going to tell Ezekiel about raising the feet above the level of the head so the brain can get proper blood flow, but Aliana and Clatrial were already charging for the cavern exit, so we had to hurry up and follow them.

Agnar says he must have blacked out, too, since he didn’t get any of the action, but he figures those slimy squid-face-men were pretty dangerous. Ezekiel gave me some notes on his conversation that he wants me to keep safe:

The squid leader called himself Inspector Slythe, and said they were there to “observe” the events, especially the drow, I think. They didn’t seem to be friends with the drow – called House Alserv’s quest to serve and summon the Elder Elemental Gods “foolish” – but they weren’t about to just hand us useful information. They suggested we could pay for information with slaves, and I can just imagine what towering rage that sent Ezekiel into. He has a tender spot about that.

They had something we’d never seen before. Raven says it was with the squid-man who seemed to be the leader; he says he was messing with it right as he died. It’s an amulet (which, we’ve seen an amulet before) but its form is a sphere, but with points and connections all over it. Tres says it’s magical, but not Evil, so we can investigate it later, perhaps. Lydia feels it has something to do with travel, but she can’t tell more without some in-depth study.


Continuing on, we followed the elf footprints past several off-branches (a quick scout showed most of these to be dead-ends) until the air got heavier, and hotter, and a dull light glowed up ahead.

A turn of the corridor, and the passage opened up to a larger cavern with a river of lava oozing down the center. On the near side, fire giant bodies lay in the contortions of death. On the far side, we caught glimpses of dark elves in black cloaks – they ducked into the cover of boulders as they saw us, brandishing one-handed crossbows. Some wooden posts on the banks showed where a bridge used to be, but now it was just debris dangling above the lava.

A couple salamanders ducked in and out of the lava, seeming to throw glances at us – but I don’t really think they cared that we were there (as opposed to Tressarian, who really wanted to fight the salamaders).

We ducked back around the corner for a moment to strategize. Then, Lydia blew black powder toward the drow, and Ezekiel ran out to a stretch of the cavern that was big enough and threw up the instant fortress.

Heiran and I climbed into the fortress and did our thing…while Master Oaklock and Raven helped. The others had a rough time of it until a vrock appeared on our bank out of nowhere (that vulture-looking demon like we fought in the Temple of Elemental Air) so they finally had something to fight. Ezekiel and Agnar went after it while Mikael summoned his earth elemental and sent it through the cavern rock to attack the surviving drow on the far shore.

Lydia raised up a bridge of stone over the lava, and we started across. But first, the drow had cast darkness all over the place on their bank, so Ezekiel and Mikael had to dispell or override it. Aliana took the lead, Fetafencer glowing, neck-and-neck with Clatriel and Agnar. I brought up the rear, bringing the fortress with me. By the time I got to the far shore, everything looked pretty dead.

The paladins took off to follow the only passage the survivors could have retreated down. Before we got far, though, something “whomped” from the ceiling, and Clatrial disappeared – into a stone-colored lump on the floor. Raven and Mikael were close enough to help Aliana bludgeon the thing until they could peel it off Clatrial, but she was still much flustered.

Aliana said, by the time we killed the ceiling-beast, the last trace of the drow had vanished down the passageway, so there was no urgency to keep us from searching the bodies.

Agnar said the drow commander-lady looked like an umberhulk, until she died. She wore a broach with a black mace symbol on it, so she must be part of yet amother house. She also held a strange staff carved of some leathery horn material. It was covered with runes and icons, with the face of a female drow on top (no one we recognized). It was both magical and Evil, so after trying to bash it a couple times, Ezekiel chucked it into the river.

Fairytales are always trowing artifacts into rivers or seas to dispose of them, and it never works – lava river notwithstanding. What he should have done was hold the end so he could make sure the fire actually consumed it before it was out of our reach, but no one asked me. Now when a High Priest salamander comes after us with a scorched staff, I’ll just know it’s what we get. (Speaking of, the salamanders kinda disappeared during the battle.)

The drow had a camp in a side cave away from the lava, and Ezekiel took a moment to scan it with his gem. One of the stalagmites was actually a chest, so Raven checked and opened it, revealing a whole pile of coins and precious stones. Surely if the drow who fled knew this was here, they would have tried to take it with them?

It also held two scrolls. One interested Lydia very much…the other looked like some kind of map, with “points of interest” marked and linked with lines. While Ezekiel was trying to figure it out, Lydia looked at some documents we found on a couple of the female fighters. They all used a paper we’re not familiar with (probably fungus-based), and the papers from the drow bodies appear to be contracts. After Lydia translated them, they describe mercenary bodyguards contracted from a female fighter society to protect Lady Nedalene of House Despona (we suppose that’s the commander we killed here.)

Ezekiel wants to question her spirit, but that means waiting until tomorrow. So we piled the bodies into the fortress to protect them from carrion-eaters and Lydia took herself, Ezekiel, and Raven back to Haven. They’re going to try to visit Master Algorthas separately from the king’s agent, and ask him about the drow. The rest of us will guard the passage so we have no unwelcome surprises.

Agnar has been telling us stories he heard from his uncle, and they’re not very encouraging.


Here’s the summary of Raven’s report from their visit (Ezekiel’s version included a lot more speculation and theological details).

Eclavdra seems to be a high person in House Alserv, and she might have been orchestrating Edralv’s operations woth the Slave Lords (so it seems they are different people after all).

House Alserv is the one breaking from the drow’s traditional loyalty to the Spider Queen, and pursuing the Elder Elemental whatever (I guess the way Ezekiel pursued the God of gods at the beginning…what if the Elders actually answer?!).

House Despona are opposed to them, but that doesn’t mean they fight on sight. Master Algorthas says drow are very mercenary, and might work with people they disagreed with to further their own ends.

He also said there are Merchant Guilds, in addition to the noble houses, that hold political power and pursue various ends. And they all have symbols their followers use to show allegiance. They all seem to attack us on sight, though, so this might only be useful for the post-mortem.

Master Oaklock says drow are good for nothing, and ever since their pact with the Spider Queen they can’t even comprehend any other path. Like orcs, I guess. Maybe it’s something to do with not having souls…except that regular elves can choose to be kind or selfish.


Ezekiel gave his report on his conversation with the drow commander. He says she seemed to believe Eclavdra is dead, which would surely shake up House Alserv…and that she (Lady Nedalene) was in the giant fortress to keep an eye on the Alserv…to “hold their leash” maybe. Makes Despona complicit in whatever trouble Alserv stirred up.

And the sphere over Istivin is still growing…Master Algorthas says it will soon reach his house. We’ve taken the pressure of the giants off the forces of Sterich, but there are still more answers to unbury.

Don’t like where this is heading.

Find the previous entry here.

Read the next entry here.

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  1. Pingback: Dear Diary...the first outpost - Kimia Wood

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