déjà vu, all over again

Imprisonment for unknown months. Torture. An dark mastermind, bent on shadowy evil. Memories lost.

It happened once. Now it has happened again. And, as the saying goes, I’m just about as happy about it all as a rooster in soup.

I remember being in some Silverymoon inn—the Ivory Goat, I think it was—gathered about a table. Horrors beset us until a demon appeared and awoke us all from what now seems to have been a shared dream, plunging us instead into a nightmare world where we were captives to Shadovaar children who were experimenting on humanoids under the tutelage of one called “Zareth.”

800px-Evil_wizard_by_danilolatino-d306w01

I remembered a Zareth from the past—a Shadowvaar agent we found beset by the Shadow-Death. Was he the same? What did that mean?

It seemed we had been in this place for months, if not years.

Blind_Beholder_by_chriss2dHaving clearly not been fed to halfling standards during my captivity, I managed to free a wrist, then the rest of me, from my shackles. I then released the arrest. We then escaped our gruesome prison where children killed for fun and aberrant abominations were kept as battered and beaten “pets”.

Zareth only narrowly escaped with his shadow-life, as did two of the torturer-children. But with a promise to return…

Escaping through an ancient structure beneath the torture-chamber-classroom, we made their way through traps aplenty (all of which I managed to trip) and encountered a truly strange, out-of-place statue frozen in mineralized formations from eons of water that must have dripped upon it. There we were beset upon by a massive swarm of adamantine wasps, mistakenly hatched when I inadvertantly stepped upon an egg clutch. This was not, it must be said, my lucky day.

Metal_Bee_by_davidbrinnenUsing guile and wit, and a recovered beholder eye, we were able to overcome yet another obstacle in their quest for freedom from this evil place.With but one passage laid out before them, there were but two choices, return from whence we came, or hope that the way ahead would lead to the surface….

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the plot thickens

18 Eleasias 1373

Who knew, for all his anxiety over issues of high theology, Ash would face his biggest challenge from Uncle Reggie’s rock?

Its been an odd few days. As he vowed to do, Ashton descended back into the dark caverns to retrieve the regalia of Amaunator–a move that will undoubtedly ruffle the high clerics of Lathander. Hedge and Shen also retrieved the body of Zareth, the Shadowvar agent we found beset by the Shadow Death, hoping that he might provide clues that would help us cure Hedge’s brother Pern of the same evil affliction. Tis a very nasty thing, that–a truly horrible way to go.

Thereafter, we took the fateful decision to divide our party: Tip and I returned to Silverymoon (using Tips impressive magicks to take the journey), while the others were to wait for us at The Fork. Depositing them there, we were all attacked by a pair of nasty earthen sharky beasts–Dirtmaws my Dad used to call them, although around here it seems they’re called Bulettes. Fortunately they were slain easily enough, with me adding a skiprock or five into the fray.

In Silverymoon, our tasks went smoothly enough: I sold the few gems we had acquired to Gorran the gnome, and gathered more supplies, while Tip delivered Zareth to the Temple of Lathandar and purchased some much-needed scrolls. I also had an opportunity to meet Tip’s father, a salt-of-the earth farmer whose fields and milking cows are some of the finest I’ve seen in these parts. When Tip retired early to study his spells, his father and I traded many a tale, including a few of young Tip trying transform toadstools into flying sheep. The well-worn halfling expression “as painful as an furry mushroom in your nethers” certainly has a whole new meaning for me now!

We then magicked back to The Fork, where we expected to find our companions comfortably settled into the Wildlands Rest. Instead we found them camped nearby, Ash and Shen bickering–all of them apparent fugitives from the law.

It seems that they had found a Hin skipper in the inn, going by the name “Stubbin the Great” or something of that sort. Hedge had been rightly suspicious of his skill, and had sought to question him closer. However the Hin had proven very suspicious, and had fled to his second-floor room when Uncle Reggie’s name had been brought up. Hedge followed him, and was promptly attacked as he loitered outside the traveller’s room. When our companion finally got the best of the fight, Stubbin fled… only to encounter Shen and Ash coming up the stairs. As the Hin tumbled past the monk, Ash drew the conclusion of evil intent, and incinerated him with a blast from his new mace.

And herein lies the bickering. Ash claims he was justified by the halfling’s behaviour. Shen claims he couldn’t have been certain of this at the time. Hedge is simply glad to be alive, and doubtless now has more regard for Hin blade. The innkeep ejected them all. And now rumours swirl that Ashton, the Lightbringer, is a murderer. I fear that when news gets out of his embrace of Amaunator, his opponents are sure to use it against him.

I did my best to fix some of this, entering the inn in disguise and pulling the stuffelglug scam on the somewhat baffled staff. With this I succeeded in muddying the waters of Stubbin’s “possible” death, and plan to muddy it still more in the days to come. I also managed to retrieve for inspection most of his kit.

And there it was: the rock. The rock. Uncle Reggie’s prized returning skiprock, not seen since his murder. You could have gagged me with a badger.

Stubbin’s unfortunate complete incineration has made it unlikely that he’ll now answer questions on how he got it, and what his connection might be to the foul deed. From what Hedge tells me, he doesn’t seem the assassin sort–but an accomplice he might well be, sent to spy on Uncle Reggie for the real killer, and to stand on guard while the foul deed was done. When time allows, I’ll ask around and find out what I can of him in Waterdeep and elsewhere–for now, I’ll have to content myself with his fiery demise.

For this I’m truly grateful to Hedge and Ash.
That’s one for you, Uncle Reggie.