The Adventurers – Chapter 47 – The Festival… and the Quest

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

It was late in the afternoon when the adventurers entered Doran through the east gate, riding their horses. They put their horses in a stable and paid to have their chests locked away in storage. The first thing they did was go right to ‘The Inn of the Green Dragon’. I don’t believe I mentioned this before, but it is called ‘The Inn of the Green Dragon’ because it is believed that Lord Doridin slew the very Dragon whose head is on the wall over the fireplace. Some though question if it’s real, but most believe it is, though Doridin, as far as most people know, has never denied nor confirmed its authenticity.

Lightmane, along with the others, was quite eager to see how the place was doing. He was hoping that his experiment with Karl worked. The moment they saw the place, they were certain it had, for the building had expanded somewhat. The place was already starting to get busy inside. They saw a couple serving wenches that they didn’t recognize and saw Karl at the bar, but no one saw Laura.

Lettia: Hi Karl. Where’s Laura?

Karl: Lettia, you’re back. Laura is in bed, resting.

Lettia: What? Why? What’s wrong?

Karl: Well come with me and I’ll show you. Is everyone else here with you?

Lettia: Yes. We’re all here.

Karl: Great. Follow me.

Karl took everyone to his living quarters, in the back of the Inn. Laura was laying in his bed, pregnant.

Karl: She’s going to be out of commission for a while. She still wants to work though, so we compromised and I let her work 4 hours a day, but no heavy lifting, obviously.

Lettia and Shinfia went and hugged Laura and sat on the bed and talked with her and were beside themselves with joy, but when Laura told them that she and Karl got married, their joy erupted and everyone starting hugging Laura, and shaking Karl’s hand.

Lettia: Laura, we are all so happy for you. You’re just glowing now.

Shinfia: Yes, you look so beautiful, Laura.

Laura: Thanks girls. I’m very happy. Karl has been wonderful. Once business started booming, he gave everyone more raises and proposed to me. I was shocked and wasn’t sure what to say at first, but he just kept kissing and hugging me, so I guess I had no choice, so I married him.

With Laura’s words, the girls all started laughing, and kept talking amongst themselves.

Karl: Well Lightmane, your experiment worked amazingly. I actually lost money that first week, so I almost quit, but I knew if I did that, you’d all kill me. The next week things started to get better, and then everything just started clicking, and before I knew it I had to hire more people to keep up with the demand. I’ve given everyone another raise too and all it did was make things even better. I don’t know how you knew it would work, but it did, so thank you. We’ve now expanded. We built an addition to both the tavern and the Inn, so we have more rooms, and we also have a booth in the market square now. Laura works there sometimes too, but now she just stays here mostly. Oh, Doridin told me to tell you when I see you to come see him. That wine you found in the Moathouse was excellent, so I’m guessing he has some more money for you. We made quite a lot of money selling that wine.

Everyone was thrilled at the success of Lightmane’s experiment, but they all went to the Castle and planned on coming back later for dinner. Doridin greeted everyone like they were all his friends and told them that there were 60 barrels of wine in the Moathouse and that it was of excellent quality. He had 500 silver coins for them, so they all decided to give it all to their friends in Doran, including Laura and Karl. When Doridin heard them say that, he was so impressed with their generosity that he invited them all to have dinner with him in his castle. The adventurers had dinner with not only Lord Doridin, but with his entire adventuring party, along with other guests who were staying at the castle. They told him about their adventures at the Keep and the treasures they had found and how they wanted to build a large home here in Doran, with 8 small homes all around it, so that they’d have their own place to live here. Doridin helped them make all the necessary arrangements to begin construction. Then they told him about the Festival that they’d like to try to organize here. Fortunately for them, Doridin had attended one many years ago and loved the idea of having one here, though he knew the wood elves wouldn’t like it, but then he said that by the time they find out, it’ll be too late, to which everyone started laughing.

The evening went well. They stayed in 2 large private rooms at the Inn, giving Lettia and Shinfia one of the rooms, so they could have some privacy, and over the next several months they built their homes and planned the festival with Filius. The caravans that left Doran daily were all given bulletins about the upcoming Fate Festival that would be held for the first time in Doran, and the caravans passed them out in each village that they travelled to. Eventually their homes were built and they all moved in. The large 2 story home had 10 bedrooms and each small home that went around it in a semi-circle had 2 bedrooms. They built their homes in the southeast section, right across from the Inn of the Green Dragon, and as the months passed, winter came.

Winter in this part of Forestera usually only lasted for the last 2 months of the year, and usually by the end of the year, it almost felt like spring again. The festival was held on the last day of the year, so sometimes there was snow on the ground still, but this year it was held on a nice cool winters day. It was chilly outside, but all the snow had melted and the festival in Doran was a lot of fun for all involved. All of their parents and brothers and sisters and more, showed up days before the festival, and they all stayed with them in their houses. Many gnomes came and set up booths and many stories were told and there was lots of singing and dancing as well. The adventurers were also a big hit, as everyone loved hearing them tell their tales of all that happened to them, from the day they set out for the sacred shrine, to the day they left Tenneth’s family, to head back to Doran.

Eventually the festival ended, and they and their family members all spent one last night together in their big beautiful home. The next morning, all who had travelled here to celebrate Forestera’s Fate Festival started packing up and eventually Doran was back to normal. The first day of the year 998 had begun.

Filius: Well I just want to thank you all one more time. This was a lot of fun and now I can’t wait until the end of this year.

Lettia: Now we just need another great adventure to go on again. Don’t get me wrong, 997 has been an amazing year, but I miss adventuring.

Everyone agreed. They all missed adventuring, but there were no bulletins posted anywhere in Doran, but at least now they had a lot of money and their own place to live. They had family that wasn’t too far away and lots of good friends. Life was good, so they didn’t complain. They just all wanted to go adventuring again.

As they were all sitting around in their big house, enjoying the first day of the new year, they all heard an odd sound. It seemed to be right by them. Then they heard something that sounded like a buzzing noise of some kind. Then they all saw a light form in the air before them. Then they heard a female voice and then a male voice. A moment later and a figure seemed to fade in, but it was blurry, so they couldn’t quite make it out. Then, all of a sudden, they all saw a beautiful female wood elf standing before them. She was radiating a most beautiful aura all about her, of a yellowish brown and green radiance. All 3 colors seemed to swirl all around her and blend together in a most beautiful way…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sheila: Finished.

Bael: Finally! I took Heidi out again. Do I need to put her back now?

Sheila: Nah. There’s no rush. You can put her back anytime. Come over here though, cause I need your help.

Bael: Ok, what are you doing?

Sheila: It’s time to offer them my Quest.

Bael: Offer them? Don’t you mean send them?

Sheila: No, offer them. I only send someone on a quest if I have to.

Bael: But isn’t this kind of important?

Sheila: Well yes, but it’s not critical. Besides, offering them the opportunity is much more fun for all involved, than just sending them on a quest.

Bael: I enjoyed watching the festival. That was fun. Wish we could’ve gone to it.

Sheila: We could’ve. It’s not like anyone would’ve known who we are, so maybe we’ll go next year.

Bael: Yay.

Sheila: But now I need your help. Stand over here and hold this thingy.

Bael: This ‘thingy’? It’s a vision rod.

Sheila: Yes, vision rod, that thingy. Hold it.

Bael: I’m holding it.

Sheila: Ok, is it working? What’s that sound?

Bael: I don’t know. The rod seems to be causing it. Here, let me move it around a little.

Sheila: Ok, now I hear a buzzing noise. Oh, what’s that light?

Bael: I think it’s so they can see you. Um, I think they can hear us. I muted the sound, so we’re good.

Sheila: I’m blurry now. You need to keep making adjustments. I’ll let you know when it’s good and then unmute me… Ok, they can see me now… Unmute me now…
Hello. Do not be afraid. I am Shayla, goddess of the forests, of the wood elves and the half-elves, and all who value independence and freedom. I have come before you to offer you a most wonderful quest for you to go on, but only if you desire to go on such a quest. I am not here to force you to do anything. As I said, I am the goddess of those who value independence and freedom, so the last thing I would ever do is force anyone to go on a quest. I see that I appear familiar to some of you. Well that’s because a couple of you have seen me before and a few of you have heard my voice. That’s because at times in your lives I have guided you. You are all very special to me and I hope to one day speak with all of you face to face, but that day is not now. Behold…

When Sheila said behold, 3 items appeared next to her, hovering in the air; a short sword, a light crossbow and a suit of leather armor. They all had the same yellowish brown and green radiance to them that she had, and they were unlike any items they had ever seen.

Sheila: These 3 items are all of my own creation and I’ve hidden them, to challenge you, to see if you can find them. If you are able to find them, then I will visit you again, and will let you know of a great and noble task that I have for you.

The first item that you must find is my Armor. It is hidden in a place called ‘The Caves of Ordered Randomness’. It is an extremely well hidden cave that can be accessed in 2 different places; somewhere in these woods and somewhere in the woods that are near the valley of caves, which you just came from, but it will be very difficult to find this cave on your own. Only a few people have heard of it. Find them, and they can lead you to it.

The second item that you must find is my Crossbow. It is hidden in a place called ‘The Wizards Tower’.
The third item that you must find is my Sword. It is hidden in a place called ‘Dragon Mountain’.

The location of ‘The Wizards Tower’ and ‘Dragon Mountain’ can be found within ‘the caves of ordered randomness’.
If you are indeed worthy and powerful enough to serve me, you shall surely find them.
Enjoy your adventuring, and may all your adventures be thrilling.

She then faded out. They tried to talk to her as she started to fade, but then she was gone, but laying on the floor was a device of some kind that had a note attached to it. Lightmane went over and picked it up and read the note.

The note read as follows: I know you all wanted to talk to me, but that is not possible right now. I also know that this was a lot to just throw at you like that, so if you need to watch this again, just press the button and it will play back what you just watched.

Lightmane pressed the button and the entire scene was played again, including the buzzing sounds and everything else. Everyone just looked at each other, shocked at what just happened, and not really sure what to say in that moment.

But then Lettia spoke: Well… we did just say that we all really wanted to go adventuring again… didn’t we…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Raysha, feeling very weak and exhausted: Where am I? What’s going on?

Male voice: Everything is fine. You are safe.

Raysha: Who is that? I can barely move. What has happened to me?

Male voice: You have just been raised from the dead, so now you need to rest, but tomorrow we’ll talk again.

Raysha: I died? I was in my temple. Wait, they won? They defeated me?

Male voice: Yes, you were defeated.

Raysha: Who are you and why did you raise me from the dead?

He moved into the light where Raysha could see him: You. Why did you do bring me back?

Male voice: Because Raysha, I have plans for you (he said, smiling)…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 46 – The Journey

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

The party decided to give their parents 1000 copper, 500 silver, 50 gold and 20 platinum coins. As they traveled to each village, they had several encounters along the way, but no monsters attacked them. It was mostly just caravans and small groups of travelers. It was those encounters which helped them navigate each of the roads to each of their villages.

The village of Fayshen was around 80 miles northeast of the village of Doran. Traveling on horses turned out to be quite fun. They guessed that they might’ve been able to reach the Keep from Doran in a day or so, had they had horses, but then they wouldn’t have had all the interesting encounters that they had, while traveling on foot. The reality of that contrast had them all thinking about it for a while. The trip to Fayshen didn’t take all that long though and soon Lightmane was introducing everyone to his family members. Lettia’s family was now just her elven father and all of his parents and great grandparents and great great grandparents, and many many more, but they were all way up north in the elven kingdom, so they all hoped to one day travel there, but not now. Seeing an entire elven family though was quite interesting for everyone. They all were amazed at how beautiful his 3 sisters were and how amazing his 2 brothers looked, let alone their mother and father.

When Lightmane handed his parents all the money though, they tried to refuse, but when he told them how much they had now, they were both completely shocked and happily accepted the parties generous gift. They stayed until morning and quite enjoyed hearing his mother tell the story of her adventures she went on with her husband and all that happened to Lightmane, which finally led him to leave home on the next caravan out of town. Lightmane kept trying to explain to his mother that he’d already told them the story, but everyone found her version much more enjoyable to listen to, while Lightmane just seemed to become more embarrassed, as she talked. Everyone had a wonderful time meeting everyone and the next morning they all headed out.

The next stop was the village of Farin, where Filius grew up, and was also around 80 miles northeast of the village of Doran. Meeting all of his family members was quite something. His 2 mothers confused them, but by the time they left, the idea that one was his birth mother and the other was his second mother, being his fathers other wife, was almost something they were starting to get used to, which also started to confuse them, which then made everybody laugh, but meeting all his brothers and sisters, Gilius, Dilius, Bilius, Jilius and Lilius, and all their husbands and wives that they had, made them all quite dizzy, which only made Filius and his brothers and sisters laugh even more. His parents though were shocked at the money he gave them, but told them that everyone was going to receive some. It was at this moment though that Lilius mentioned Genevieve and how sad she still felt for her brother. After they held each other and his brothers and sisters all spent some time crying, Filius knew that he had to tell his friends about Genevieve. Hearing his story brought them all to tears, and the bonds that formed that day were strong, as all of his family members now loved his 7 new friends and hoped that they could all come to Forestera’s Fate Festival at the end of the year. When Filius told them that they were going to start one in Doran this year, they all said that they would make the journey to Doran, which brought everyone to tears again, but now they were tears of joy. Filius came to Farin that day, fearful of the pain that his past might cause him, let alone his family and friends, but when they left the next morning, his heart was now filled with joy and love.

The next stop was Nightwind’s home in the village of Norendal, which was around 80 miles east of the village of Doran. It was quite a sight for everyone to see all the different races of dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, humans and half-elves, all in one village. Lettia was very happy that she was finally was able to visit Norendal, but she was even more interested in meeting Nightwind’s family, because of the time she and Nightwind had dinner together in Doran, when they were just getting to know each other, when he told her all about his family. Everyone else had heard parts of his story, so they were all interested in meeting them too, but Lettia was the most fascinated, as Nightwind’s stories about them all just fascinated her to no end. Meeting them didn’t disappoint her in the slightest. His parents even took everyone out in the field for a couple hours, just to give them all a taste of what Nightwind had told them about. Seeing themselves sitting in a field, meditating with a bunch of dwarves, turned into quite the spiritual experience for everyone. They would end up talking for days about how incredible that experience was for all of them, but when Nightwind handed his parents all the coins, they started to cry a little. His mother explained to him, in front of everyone, how they had been hurting financially a little bit recently, and how they just kept meditating each day, believing that everything would be fine, so when he handed them all those coins, they both knew that their prayers had been answered. The next morning, all the dwarves gave all of them great big hugs and sent them on their way.

The next stop was the village of Darrenmoor, which is where Shinfia grew up, which was around 70 miles east of the village of Doran. When Shin’s family saw her coming up the road, they all ran out to greet her. The joy that everyone felt from seeing her again and meeting her new friends was a very special moment for everyone, but when her older brother told her that he was training with the Monk, Shinfia started to cry and hugged him. Soon the Monk came over to say hello and Shinfia ran up to him and jumped up in his arms. In addition to giving money to her parents, she took 20 gold coins out of her belt pouch and gave them to the Monk. He tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t let him.

Shinfia: It’s because of you that I am who I am today, and now my brother is training with you. I owe you far more than 20 gold coins. This is the least I can do, so please accept this gift from me. He still tried to refuse, so she showed him how many gold and platinum coins where in her pouch. When he saw that, he accepted her gift.

The next morning, Shinfia was having a hard time leaving, but when her brother pointed out the fact that she was just 70 miles west of here and could just jump on her horse and ride here anytime she felt like it, she just started laughing.

The next stop was Belfin’s home, in the village of Barrowdin, which was around 90 miles southeast of the village of Doran. They decided to travel all the way south first and then work their way back towards Doran, so this trip took longer than the others. Belfin was a little apprehensive about visiting his parents, since he ran off with a halfling girl and just left them a note, but when they saw him they ran to greet him and his mothers eyes were filled with tears of joy. His parents loved meeting his new friends, but when he gave them the money, they took everyone into the village and celebrated. Everyone could see that bonding with his parents had quite an impact on him. At one point Belfin invited them to come live with him in Doran, saying how they were going to build a big house for them all to live in, along with 8 little houses for each of them. His parents declined, but promised to come visit sometime, as long as he promised to come visit them sometime too. The next morning everyone hugged and said their goodbyes and headed out.

The next stop was Jack’s home in the village of Knorrwood, which was around 80 miles southeast of the village of Doran. As they approached his parents home, Shinfia came over and put her arm around Jack and kissed him on his cheek.

Shinfia: You ok?

Jack: Yeah, but thanks. I still miss her, but that was a long time ago, but the moment I travel to Knorrwood, my sister starts flooding my mind. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.

Meeting Jack’s parents, like everyone else’s parents, was a wonderful experience for everyone. His parents were so happy to see him again and said how they were worried that they might never see him again, which made Jack feel really good that they took the time to visit all of their families. They said that they’d try their best to come to the fate festival in Doran, which made Jack even more happy. Just one more stop and then they’d finally get back to Doran.

The last stop, before heading back, was where Tenneth grew up in the village of Knollwood, which was around 60 miles slightly southeast of Doran. Seeing their parents again had a profound impact on everyone. Those who had brothers and sisters also experienced great joy at seeing their siblings too. Belfin and Tenneth had no siblings though and neither did Jack anymore, after losing his sister, but for Tenneth this visit hit him hard, similar to how it affected Filius, for both of them had lost the love of their lives, so the moment he saw his parents, his love came flooding back into his mind, so when his parents started hugging him, Tenneth started to cry. He had never told any of them about her, so after everyone met each other, he told them all that had happened, and everyone’s love for each other grew deeper.

This journey, that started at the Keep, turned out to be far more than any of them had thought it would be. Meeting everyone’s families was great, but this experience completely transformed all of them. The great adventure they had just gone on had certainly bonded them all together, but as they made their way back to Doran, everyone felt a bond with each other that was unlike anything they had ever felt for anyone else.

They all couldn’t wait to get home…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Bael: So did you finish it yet?

Sheila: Nope. Still got a lot of work to do.

Bael: Did you change the name of it?

Sheila: No, silly boy, I didn’t. I like the name I gave it.

Bael: You like that name?

Sheila: Yep.

Bael: But they’re not caves.

Sheila: There’s a couple caves in there, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just a name.

Bael: How about this for a name? Shayla’s portals of Delirium.

Sheila: Portals? Hmmm… I was thinking maybe Gates, but portals is kind of neat too, but delirium? Do you just want to scare everybody?

Bael: Nah. If I wanted to scare everyone, I’d call your crazy place Shayla’s Portals… or Shayla’s Gates of DOOM (he said, laughing). So how long before you’re finally finished creating everything?

Sheila: I’d say around 3 more months.

Bael: 3 more months?!

Sheila: Well there’s a lot here, so yes, 3 more months… or 4 maybe.

Bael: Well what should I do while you’re building your crazy place?

Sheila: Heidi is at Red any Brown. You could take her out and ride her around out back if you’d like.

Bael: You put Heidi in there?

Sheila: Yes. She loves her new place.

Bael, looking very concerned now: But what if she’s killed?

Sheila stopped what she was working on and came and sat next to Bael: Are you familiar with the level 7 cleric spell, Resurrection?

Bael: Yes, but you’re not a cleric.

Sheila: Bael… I’m a goddess, you silly boy.

Bael: Oh… Wait, that spell can resurrect a Hydra?

Sheila leaned in and looked right into Bael’s eyes: Goddess.

Bael, finally getting it now: Right… got it… I’m gonna… go get Heidi, and go for a ride.

Sheila, smiling now: … Good boy…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 45 – The Meeting

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

It was starting to get dark outside when the party arrived at the Keep, so they feared that William might not come see them until tomorrow, but luckily for them he arrived in less than an hour. 8 heavily armored guards accompanied him. Everyone was very concerned that someone had stolen their chests, but said nothing as William entered.

William: Ok… I’m listening. What’s going on here? And yes, they told me all that happened and all that you said.

Jaren: Castellan sir, my name is

William: I know who you are Jaren, and I already know what you’re going to claim, so don’t bother. I have no reason right now to believe anything you’re saying. If this is some plot of theirs, than you’re working with them, to make it all appear real, so don’t waste our time. (looking at the half-orc) Lets start with you. Ken Jilgrath, correct?

Jilgrath: That is correct. You have a good memory, it appears.

William: I’m usually good with remembering names, cause it’s kind of important, being who I am. So what’s your story, Ken Jilgrath?

Ken told him his entire story, right up to the moment he decided to come with them to the Keep, in hopes that they could convince everyone here that he could be trusted, as long as at least 2 humans came with him, so that he could come here from time to time, to purchase any needed supplies. He pointed out how the 2 humans were for his protection, as well as others. He also said how he was now in charge of the valley of caves and was working with all the monsters, to help them to all get along with each other, and everything else that he was trying to accomplish in the valley.

William: Wow! That’s one heck of a story, Ken Jilgrath. Thank you for telling it to me. Lettia, when we first all spoke to each other, I had come to the conclusion that you all were most likely making stuff up, as your stories appeared to contradict each other. Remember?

Lettia: Vividly.

William: Great. So tell me what’s actually going on here.

Lettia reiterated that everything Jilgrath told him was the truth and invited William to speak with Nog and Kirk for himself and judge for himself whether or not they could be trusted, so William accepted her challenge. Nog and Kirk had not spoken a word yet, which already had an impact on William.

William extended his hand into the cell: Hello Nog.

Nog, having watched Shinfia with Kirk and Jaren, extended his hand and took Williams and gently shook it: Hello sir. It’s an honor to meet you.

William: Really? Why do you say that?

Nog: Because I am just a bugbear, which you consider nothing more than an evil monster, and in almost every case you are right, for that is exactly what almost every bugbear is, so for the leader of this Keep to extend his hand to me, is quite incredible.

William: That was very impressive Nog. How did you learn to speak our language so well?

Nog: By talking to our prisoners mostly. For years I have studied your language and when we came to the valley and took prisoners, I would speak with them every chance I could. I ended up befriending some, but they only acted like my friend in an attempt to get me to help them escape. Then one day, several months ago, I befriended a prisoner who was a kind, good and generous man. He helped me. One time I came to him having gotten into a fight with others and he offered to heal my wounds. I soon learned that I could trust him. It was at that moment that I came to realize that we were wrong to hate humans and dwarves and others who lived in houses in villages, rather than in caves like most monsters do. We attacked them when they travelled, for their supplies mostly, but also for sport and to have prisoners to use as bait to get more supplies. Then we’d torture them and laughed as they’d scream for mercy and eventually we just kill them. In time I came to see that dominating those who are weaker than us, simply because they are weaker than us, is wrong. One day in the valley I saw this kobold here. He was by himself. I could’ve easily killed him or taken him prisoner, but I chose instead to try to communicate with him. He was terrified when he saw me, but I reached out my hand and got on my knees and tried to not look intimidating. He turned to run, but when he saw me getting low and not attacking him, he stopped. Eventually we started to communicate with each other. Soon we became friends and started teaching each other our language. One day our chief saw me sitting outside in the valley with Kirk. In his anger he grabbed me and threw me into prison. I tried to explain to him what I now believed, but he thought I was mad.

Nog then explained all that happened when the party entered their cave and all that happened since.

William then looked at Kirk: Can I hear your story, Kirk?

Kirk told him his story and William just sat there and listened to him. When Kirk finished, William reached in and offered his hand. Kirk took it and they shook hands together.

William, looking at the guards now: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I believe they are all telling the truth. How about you all?

Guard: Castellan sir, we are just as shocked as you. I rarely see this much respect from people. To see it from monsters though is truly incredible. We all believe they are telling you the truth.

All the guards concurred, so William got up and unlocked the gate: You are all free to go, as you’re all telling the truth, but convincing everyone here that you are is going to take a little work, so for now you must all stay by me and my guards here. We will all protect you. As long as you’re with us, no one will harm you. It’s possible some will accuse you of putting some kind of hex on me though, which is why I brought 8 guards with me, instead of just a few. I can easily grant you safe passage out of here though, so you can get back to your caves in the valley.

Lightmane: They didn’t come here with us, just so that you could grant them safe passage back to their caves in the valley. They came here with us to show everyone that they are good and not evil, that they want to help and that they can be trusted. They are here to try to prove to everyone, just as they now proved to you and all your guards here, that though they are monsters who live in caves, they are not evil and are no threat to anyone, as long as they are not threatened. Now in my book, that makes them basically no different than any of us.

William: Ok then. It is late now, so most people are asleep. You are all invited to stay with me in my chambers as my special guests. That alone will shock everyone. Lets see if tomorrow you can convince them, as you’ve convinced me and my guards.

They were all quite surprised at William’s offer, but took it gladly. When the guards and the few people who were still awake in the castle, saw William and his 8 guards walk with the party and the 3 monsters, into the castle, talk spread quickly. A few people came up to William, to make sure everything was ok, but soon they were all in for the night. Nog and Kirk found the beautiful rooms quite incredible. They had never slept on a bed that was so comfortable before. Seeing the sunrise in the morning from inside, instead of having to go out into the valley to see it, was also quite a site for them, but once William opened the inner bailey for anyone to come in, a large crowd quickly gathered in the courtyard.

William: Attention everyone. First let me say that you all have nothing to fear. I assure you that no one has put a hex on me, as my 8 guards here will all affirm. I am of sound mind and body and will speak only the truth. These 8 adventurers have been here many times. Some of you may remember them, when I last spoke to all of you by the main gate; how they had been to the valley of caves and had killed many chieftains, including Gragnok, the notorious hobgoblin king, whose head they held up high for all to see. Well not too high, since a dwarf was holding it.

At William’s words, Nightwind burst out laughing, which caused the crowd to start laughing as well.

William, smiling now, continued: Actually, Gragnok is not notorious and I bet none of you have ever heard of him, but he thought highly of himself, right up until they cut off his head. These 8 adventurers have succeeded where every other adventuring party has failed. The attacks on the road have ceased and are now just as safe to travel on as any other road. All the monsters who were attacking the road have either been killed or have turned from their evil ways and have vowed never to attack the road again. Over many days, they have proven their loyalty and yesterday they proved it in the most amazing way that I’ve ever heard.

With those last words, William had now captured everyone’s attention, so he continued: In the valley, hidden in one of the caves, is a temple, and in that temple many clerics ruled over the monsters. It was those evil clerics who made the monsters attack travelers. Monsters, being monsters though, had no problem doing what they commanded, because that’s what monsters do when they see travelers, just like lions attack zebras, or dogs attack cats. So when a monster chooses to no longer attack travelers on the road, you can know for certain that something has happened to them, but the monsters that now live in the valley didn’t just stop attacking people on the roads, which by the way you know is true, since there have been no reports of attacks for many days now, but guess what these monsters did? These monsters, and by monsters I mean kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls and bugbears, all not only stopped attacking travelers, but they helped this party of adventurers by joining forces with them, as they all attacked the clerics together. It was the clerics who made them attack so often. It was the clerics who caused our supply lines to start to dwindle, and had they succeeded they would’ve eventually attacked all of us, and then left all the monsters to their own devices, which means they probably would’ve started killing each other over time. This half-orcs name is Ken Jilgrath. Ken was killed by Gragnok, but this party brought him here, in hopes that they’d find the means to pay to have him raised back to life. Well someone here paid and thanks to whoever that person is, we are all safe now, for Ken Jilgrath is now the lord of the valley and is working with all the monsters there. He has proven his loyalty time after time and I’m proud to have him as my friend.

At this, William extended his hand to Ken, who shook it. Everyone gasped in amazement.

William then continued: This bugbears name is Nog, and this kobolds name is Kirk. They are both now captains of the valley and work directly under Ken here. All 3 of them speak our language just as well as we do and after I’ve shaken their hand in front of all of you, they will tell you their story of how they came to be who and what they are now, but after we’re done here I am going to travel with them to the valley of caves and meet all the monsters who now dwell there in peace, and I will be bringing 8 people with me and 8 volunteers, so that there can be no doubt that these creatures are no longer a threat to any of us. Even more than that, from this day forward, all the creatures who dwell in the valley of caves are now under the protection of this Keep and are welcome to travel here anytime they wish, as long as they are accompanied with at least 2 humans. That’s how you’ll know they’re from the valley and not just some random monsters that walked up the road. Now let me introduce to you all, Nog the bugbear and Kirk the kobold; captains of the valley.

William then extended his hand to Nog, who shook it and then to Kirk, who also shook it. The crowd was completely silent as Nog spoke and told the story that he told William and then Kirk addressed them and told everyone his story. They both praised the adventurers and Ken Jilgrath and pledged their loyalty to them all, and also to all who lived here and traveled to this Keep. So convincing and so moving were their words that after Kirk finished, everyone started cheering.

All of the adventurers talked with many in the crowd, as did Ken, Nog and Kirk, and for the next couple of hours everyone in the Keep started celebrating. Marcus and Margaret and their kids came and greeted everyone, as did all who worked at the Inn and tavern, including the 15 year old girl, Sheila, who couldn’t wait to hug Kirk. Kirk got quite nervous at being hugged, especially by a human girl, but smiled and gently hugged her back. Sheila then asked about Teeko, so they invited her and her family to come with them to the valley to meet him, so they did. The party let everyone know that they would be leaving in the morning to travel back to their village, but they promised that they’d come visit one day, but couldn’t promise how long that would be, but now William had assembled a group of people to travel with the party to the valley, to meet all these monsters that they could now trust. First though, they got their treasure chests out of the warehouse and put them in their apartment. Then they all set out for the valley.

Jilgrath hadn’t told them yet, but while they were all gone, he told the monsters to clear the path off the road. They didn’t completely finish it yesterday, but close enough. Now it was mostly a clear and wide path and everyone just walked right into the valley. They all walked all the way to the back, and Jilgrath then rang the bell and slowly all the monsters came out of their caves and came over to the small crowd of people. At first there was quite a bit of nervous energy, but Nog and Kirk helped the monsters relax and the party helped everyone else, and soon everyone was trying their best to communicate with everyone. It was quite an awkward and bizarre scene, but no monster attacked anyone. Even Gluguk came out at one point, but Jilgrath almost stayed glued to his side the entire time, fearful that the orc might lose it at any moment, but he didn’t. He basically said hello to everyone, let them all know that he was the orc king, introduced his wife as the orc queen, and then went back inside his cave. The party then brought out Teeko and the Puma, which shocked and frightened everyone at first, but the party quickly calmed everyone’s nerves and soon Teeko and the Puma were the stars of the show. Sheila was so happy to finally meet Teeko, and when she asked him if she could hug him, he quickly reached to hug her. It was a moment that everyone would never forget. They all watched as Teeko jumped on the Puma and she raced around the valley, but when she jumped up into a tree and just disappeared, everyone just gasped. Lettia and Shinfia then had Kish show everyone how she could dress wounds and apply healing salve. The amazement on everyone’s faces just made the girls smile more. Kish’s mate though, at one point, started to look somewhat menacing in his appearance.

Nightwind quickly spoke to him: Hey, relax now or you need to leave.

The goblin leader just looked at the dwarf: Fine. I relax now.

The girls told everyone how they met Kish and the goblins in the woods, and very quickly people wanted to hear more of their stories of the adventures they had gone on, so they started telling them about all the things that happened to them when they got here. Time seemed to fly by quickly and soon it was time to head back to the Keep. The people now knew that the valley was safe, though the party told everyone that they should never just walk in here unannounced, just as they wouldn’t like it if a couple of monsters just walked into the Keep. Everyone seemed to understand and soon they all headed back to the Keep, but the party assured Kish and the others that they’d stop by tomorrow before they headed out.

That evening in the Keep was quite a night. For those who had just entered the Keep, the stories they heard left them confused and bewildered. As they went back to their apartment for the final time, they almost didn’t want to leave now. It seemed like everything around here was about to change, but they also worried that one of the monsters might attack other monsters or even people at some point. No matter how great everything had become, these were still monsters and if one of them snapped, there was no telling what might happen, but they couldn’t worry about that now. Jilgrath was there with the 2 henchmen and they knew that Nog and Kirk were completely trustworthy, so they just had to have faith that Jilgrath would continue to improve the relations with everyone over time.

The next morning they purchased some more potions at the temple, bought the wagon from Marcus, purchased 5 horses and 2 draft horses at the stables, along with saddle bags and lots of hides that they threw into the wagon. They visited Marcus and Margaret one last time, along with Malfoy, Kim and Sheila, along with all their kids and a few others and said goodbye. Jaren and William and many guards greeted them at the gate. Jaren hugged and kissed Lettia and Shinfia and William told them that he was going to start talking with as many as he could and write the story about the 8 adventurers who travelled from the village of Doran to the Keep, and saved them all from the monsters who dwelt in the valley of caves. At first they questioned why he said it like that, but when William said that it was the clerics who were the monsters in the valley, along with all the monsters that attacked them, then it made sense. They left the Keep and headed back to the valley, one last time.

Saying goodbye to everyone in the valley was even harder than saying goodbye to all the friends they made at the Keep, but after they had all finished talking with everyone and had said all their goodbyes, Lettia cast speak with animals, so that she could speak with the puma, one last time.

Lettia the Puma: Why hello Lettia. What brings you to speak to me on this beautiful morning?

Lettia: Well good morning to you too, Lettia. There was no way I could leave without talking to you like this one more time. It’s like you’re my good friend now. I just wish there was a way that I could stay in touch with you, communicate with you in some way. I’m going to miss you a lot.

Lettia the Puma: Well you never know what fate has in store my dear. Perhaps a way to talk to me will become available at some point. It’s quite interesting to me how what we actually want is sometimes put right in front of us. Most people just don’t have the faith to see it.

Lettia: Are you trying to tell me something?

Lettia the Puma: Yes I am, Lettia. I’m trying to tell you that I love you, for you are my best friends daughter, and I look forward to speaking to you and seeing you again some day, as I hope to with your mother again some day too.

Lettia: You’ve spoken to her before though, haven’t you.

Lettia the Puma: Yes. Many years ago, and I am greatly looking forward to the day that I speak to her again.

Lettia: Got it. I was just wondering if you meant that you were going to speak to her anytime soon.

Lettia the Puma: Well if I knew that, I’d certainly tell you.

Lettia: Obviously. Not sure what I was thinking. Well we all owe you our lives. If it wasn’t for you

Lettia the Puma: If you all didn’t choose to come here, then you and I might never have met, so I owe you a great debt too, so thank you for choosing to go adventuring.

Lettia: You’re welcome. Bye Lettia.

Lettia the Puma: Goodbye Lettia.

The party rode out of the valley and headed down the north road. Next stop was Lightmane’s home, in the village of Fayshen…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 44 – The Celebration

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

The adventurers exited the cave and walked down into the valley. Jilgrath started ringing the bell and soon all the monsters came out of their caves and they all gathered around Jilgrath and the adventurers. The half-orc wanted to speak to them, but started to feel nervous and wasn’t sure what to say. He looked over at the party.

Lightmane: Hello everyone. (the elf looked around) Are we able to translate for everyone?

Gluguk, Nog, and Kirk all spoke the human tongue and Nightwind spoke goblin, which was mostly the language of hobgoblins too. Kirk had to translate to the kobolds, but also to the gnolls. His communication with the gnolls though was limited, but good enough, but they’d have to speak slowly to give Kirk time to translate to both.

Lightmane saw many sad faces and realized that losing some of them in battle had caused a lot of the monsters great pain, so he had an idea: Jilgrath, to honor those who died in battle today, defending this valley, how about we bury them somewhere in this valley, both to honor them and to remember them. Maybe that will help some here who are hurting.

Jilgrath, looking at all the monsters now: This elf here is named is Lightmane. He just said to me how about we all bury our brothers and sisters right here, near this cave. I know that the creature that lived here caught and killed some of us over the many months that it hunted here at night, so lets turn this area into a graveyard, to honor and remember all who have died here in our valley.

The monsters all seemed to take comfort at Jilgrath’s words, so everyone went back into the temple and carried out the dead and buried them right next to the owlbears cave. They used their weapons to dig graves. This seemed to help everyone, at least a little.

Lettia then had an idea: When we go to the Keep, we will have signs made, saying whatever you want them to say, and when we come back you can all help us write the words in your languages too, so that everyone here will know who is buried here and why.

Jilgrath liked Lettia’s words, as did the monsters, and now he felt ready to say the words he had been wanting to say for days now: For many months now, you have all lived in this valley, believing you were free, but you were not. (He then pointed to the cave in the back) The clerics who lived in that cave up there controlled your lives, and soon they were going to have you attack the Keep that is about 2 miles west of here, (As he said that he pointed in the direction where the Keep was). Many of you probably would’ve been killed, and after that, the clerics here would’ve ruled with no regards for your safety. You were here to serve them and nothing more, but thanks to these adventurers, now we are all free.

He raised his arms as he said those last words. With Jilgrath’s words, everyone started cheering.

Jilgrath then continued: I have only been here for a little over a month now, but I consider all of you my family. I am a half-orc. I was mostly rejected by humans and orcs, but my human mother raised me and protected me, but after she died, I was an outcast, but I met another half-orc and he taught me and trained me. Then I met some of the orcs here. They accepted me and allowed me to live with them, and now you have all come together and are all living together. Now I am powerful and wish to live here in this valley, not just with the orcs, but with all of you. I want to help you all to learn how to live together and to protect each other from whatever dangers may threaten our existence. With my help, and with the help of others (he looked at the adventurers when he said those words) I will rule over this valley with honor and humility. All who live here will be under my protection, but in order for this to work, we must all come together and serve each other as brothers and sisters. With all of your approval, I wish to declare myself as ‘Lord of the Valley’. If you accept me as your leader, then I must now appoint some of you to very important jobs. I now call on Kirk the kobold, Nog the bugbear and Gluguk the orc, to come before me.

They walked over to Jilgrath, who then stood before Kirk, got on one knee and bowed his head before the kobold. Kirk was shocked when he saw Jilgrath do that.

Jilgrath then stood back up: This is Kirk. He is the leader of the kobolds. I saw how you directed all the kobolds and bugbear women and children to swarm over the clerics and bite and grab them. Thanks to you, they were unable to cast spells. You were also the first to work with the adventurers and convince them that you could be trusted. We are all in your debt.

Everyone cheered. Kirk just stood there, feeling a little nervous, and said nothing.

Jilgrath then did the same with Nog: This is Nog. He decided a while ago that we must stop hating each other and start working together as brothers and sisters. Nog realized this before anyone else, but the bugbears locked him in their prison. The adventurers here destroyed many bugbears in battle, but thanks to Nog, they spared the rest, and he then somehow convinced the bugbears to come help fight the clerics. Without Nog, I don’t know if we would’ve defeated Raysha and her army, so I now declare Nog as the leader of the bugbears and I declare Nog and Kirk as my two ‘Captains of the Valley’, who will serve directly under me and guide me and guide all of us in our new lives where we are all free.

Again he raised his hands and again everyone cheered, but louder now. Nog held up his hand, to acknowledge their cheers, but said nothing.

Jilgrath then stood next to Gluguk: This is Gluguk. Boarnuck was the orc king who rejected me, so I went to Gluguk and he allowed me to live with his orc tribe. Because of this, I was able to befriend these adventurers and help them defeat all the evil monsters, including the Minotaur and the great beast who lived in that cave. If Gluguk rejected me as Boarnuck did, I wouldn’t even be here. Thanks to Gluguk, we all came together and defeated the clerics and now I declare Gluguk as ‘The Orc King of the Valley’.

Again cheers and now Gluguk smiled, feeling now completely justified as the orc king, despite his failure to help them against the clerics, yet Jilgrath didn’t hold it against him. Gluguk thought he would, but was quite happy when he didn’t. Jilgrath only hoped that his actions here would help Gluguk to become more like him and less like the stubborn pig-headed fool that he had always been before. He had his doubts, but he felt that this was the best action to take, for the sake of the valley.

Jilgrath now asked Teeko and the Puma to come forward: This is Teeko and this is Lettia. She is known as ‘Lettia, the Great White Puma’. Somehow, she was able to communicate with Nog and told him to get the bugbears to come help. Kirk told me that she spoke to the gnolls too and got them to help rally everyone to the temple. If it wasn’t for her, Raysha would probably have defeated us. The adventurers have told me much about Teeko and Lettia. If it wasn’t for Teeko, Lettia wouldn’t even be here. She is here to protect Teeko. That is her first priority, but now I am hoping that she will help protect all of us too. They have lived here for many years and now we all must show them all the caves in the valley, so they can learn them well. They will help protect us from predators. Lettia, I don’t know if you understand my words, but I now wish to declare you as ‘The Guardian of the Valley’ and Teeko as ‘The Guide of the Woods’, for no one knows these woods better than Teeko and Lettia.

Again cheers, but Jilgrath continued: And now to you adventurers. We all owe you our lives and our freedoms, for it was you who came here and defeated the evil that ruled here. It was you who chose to trust Kirk and myself and then Gluguk and then Nog. It was you who met Teeko in the woods and befriended him and the Puma. It was you who travelled here to stop the attacks on the roads. You have saved us all. Thanks to you, we are all free.

More cheers from all the monsters.

Lettia then stepped forward: And here is to you, Ken Jilgrath. When we first met you, none of us trusted you, because we had no reason to. We didn’t trust Kirk either, or anyone else, but eventually we did, but the only reason we came to trust everyone is because of you. You convinced us. Ok, Kirk proved himself too, but it was your actions that caused us to work with you and trust you over time. Thanks to Ken Jilgrath, you are all free now, so yes, I and my fellow adventurers with me all agree. Ken Jilgrath, you are ‘The Lord of the Valley’.

Lettia then took a knee and then all the adventurers did as well, and then all the monsters did. Jilgrath just stood there, amazed at what he was seeing, as everyone bowed in submission to him.

Lightmane then spoke: We must now return to the Keep, but we will return here again later today or tomorrow. We have much to discuss with Ken Jilgrath, and Kirk and Nog… and the orc king.

Lightmane quickly added ‘and the orc king’, so as to not upset Gluguk. With the celebrations over, the party said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the Keep. They went to see Marcus and rented his wagon again and told him they’d be back tomorrow with some great news. Lettia and Shinfia took all of Raysha’s clothing to their apartment and somehow resisted the temptation to just stay there and start trying on outfits. Instead they headed out for the valley again, but as they came down the rocky road, Lightmane saw a group of around 10 goblins off in the distance a little, down the west road, coming towards them. As they came closer, he could see that they were wounded, but everyone was wondering why goblins were traveling on the road, instead of in the forest.

Lightmane: It’s Kish.

Lettia: What? How?

Lightmane: No clue, but that’s clearly Kish.

The party came out on the road where the goblins could see them and Lettia called her name. At first the goblins tried to hide when they saw the party, but when Kish heard Lettia’s voice, she went back out on the road and started moving towards her, along with the rest of the goblins, but they were all moving quite slowly as they were all badly wounded.

Nightwind: She’s asking for help. (speaking to Kish now) What happened?

Kish: Men attack. We run. Help. Please.

The goblin leader was with them and was also badly wounded. Nightwind heard Kish tell him that he can trust them, but he looked uncertain, but the other goblins remembered them too, so he relaxed. There were only 2 females and 8 males now.

Lettia: Kish, where are the others?

Nightwind translated.

Kish: Dead. We run. Help. Please.

Nightwind: Kish, we are going to give you healing potions. Just drink them. They will heal your wounds. I just told her to drink our healing potions. We can easily buy more now.

The party gave them all healing potions and the goblins were amazed as almost all of their wounds were instantly healed. They all got down on their knees, but Nightwind told them to stand up.

Nightwind: Lets take them to the valley. They can live there now.

Kish came and stood next to Lettia: Kis Gizadit

Lettia smiled at her and put her hand on her shoulder, then pulled out her salve, but didn’t pull out her herbs, fearing the goblins would cry out Gisszing and start dancing. Kish, seeing the salve, looked sad and said ‘eh dur’.

Nightwind: I think that basically means something like ‘all gone’. Pretty sure.

Lettia: Of course. It’s not like she can buy more when she runs out. Well don’t you worry Kish, we are going to buy you a lot of healing salve. Herbs too, but don’t tell her that, Nightwind.

Nightwind: Don’t worry. That is one word we will not mention, until we’re in the valley. You have plenty, right?

Lettia: Oh yeah. I just bought a whole bunch more, so we’re good.

They climbed up into the woods, since they couldn’t bring the wagon through the tiny trail with all the twisted branches blocking their path. They then walked across the top and over to the temple cave. It was difficult moving the wagon with their 2 draft horses through the woods, but they eventually made it through. Jilgrath was in the temple and he had 4 orcs with him. When the party introduced him to Kish and the goblins, he sent one of the orcs to get the 2 goblins.

Jilgrath: It’ll probably take many years, but one of my goals here is for all of us to learn everyone’s language.

Lightmane: That’s a mighty big goal there, Ken.

Jilgrath: Yes, but imagine how much easier it will be when everyone speaks everyone’s language. Imagine how much easier it will be for everyone to get along too, so since I have to set the example, Kirk and Nog will be teaching me and others kobold and bugbear every day, and the 3 of us are going to start teaching them the language of humans. That’ll be the hardest though. Their languages are much simpler.

Nightwind: Yeah, good luck with that. Goblins have a very hard time pronouncing most words that aren’t their language.

Jilgrath: I know, but hopefully I can get them to speak it a little. Anything is better than nothing.

The 2 goblins were quite excited to see 10 more goblins, but were intimidated by the leader, as he was quite large and reminded them of their chieftain, who was mean and nasty and cruel, so Jilgrath and Nightwind took the time to explain to the big goblin all that had happened here and how from now on no one was to rule over others by being cruel, but rather by showing an example and using cooperation. The big goblin was quite confused by their words, but fortunately for everyone, these goblins had been adventurers for months now, so their leader wasn’t as cruel as chieftains were. He was still cruel though, compared to Jilgrath. He was now about like Gluguk, so Jilgrath knew he now had another problem on his hands, but one he felt he could handle, over time.

Lettia took Kish off to the side and showed her some catnip. Kish got excited. Lettia had a feeling that goblins might like catnip too, so she then took her to the bugbear cave, with Nightwind, and showed her all their catnip. They then took all the goblins into the goblin caves and Lettia gave Kish a bunch of catnip, a bunch of healing salve and a bunch of herbs. All the goblins cried out GISSZING! and went nuts and started dancing and partying, so Lettia and Nightwind let them be, but as they went outside, Kish came running up to them.

Nightwind: She wants you to stay. I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that.

Lettia: Kish, I have to take things to the Keep, but I will come see you again tomorrow, ok? Go party now.

Kish seemed to smile and then she turned and went back inside the cave.

Lettia: We have to head back to Doran soon, which means I’m going to have to say goodbye to her again. What am I going to do?

Nightwind: Well I guess we’ll just have to come visit every now and then. I feel like we should anyway. The Keep feels like a second home now. After all, it’s just a few days travel to Doran, right?

Lettia: A few days travel. That’s it. I have an idea, but lets take our treasures to our apartment and I’ll tell you all my idea on the way there.

Nightwind: Sounds good. Can’t wait to hear it.

When Lettia and Nightwind came back in the temple, everything was all packed in the wagon and they were ready to leave. Only 3 of the chests were in the wagon though and nothing else. One of the smaller chests was missing.

Lettia, smiling now: Let me guess. We gave all the copper coins to Gluguk.

Jack: Hah! I like it, but no. We all just worked out a good distribution of our newfound wealth. We gave John and Bill 2500 copper, 1000 silver and 100 gold coins each. We gave Jilgrath double that, along with 100 platinum coins. The 8 of us get the rest. Simple.

Lettia, speaking to Jilgrath: I thought you didn’t need any money.

Jilgrath: I don’t, unless their idea works, which is to bring me to the Keep and get them to let me shop there whenever I want, as long as I’m accompanied by a couple humans, that is.

As Jilgrath said that, he looked over at John and Bill.

Lettia: So you’re both staying with Jilgrath?

John: Yes. As much as we are in your debt and would very much like to keep adventuring with you, as well as see Doran, we’d rather stay here for now. We’d love to come visit sometime though, but between the Keep and this temple, we’d like to stay here with Jilgrath and help him reach the clerics and warriors, along with teaching everybody how to speak our language. The quarters for the clerics are quite nice too, so the thought of having our own place and enough money to last us a very long time, we’d rather stay here.

Nightwind: I will miss your company, but I think you’ve made a good decision. Jilgrath needs all the help he can get.

Nightwind kept a straight face and Jilgrath completely fell for it, but then the dwarf busted out laughing and Jilgrath realized he had been fooled, but looked a little confused.

Lightmane: If Nightwind was staying with you, I’d take the time to tell you to not worry about him. He loves fooling me like that all the time, but now he can’t, cause I always know that he’s not serious.

Jilgrath: Oh. I see. Well here’s hoping when you all come visit us again that I will have become more light-hearted in my ways.

Tenneth: Well you’re going to be with us for a while longer, so maybe Nightwind can take the time to mess with you some more.

Nightwind: Don’t tell him that. How can I fool him again now?

Tenneth just smiled.

Belfin: Filius and I found keys to the chests. Jilgrath has the key to the other chest. Filius and I will keep these keys on us. Now they’re locked, so only a thief will be able to open them.

Jack: A knock spell will open them too, ya know.

Filius: Oh yes. So all the wizards walking around will also be a threat to us (he said, sarcastically).

Jack just rolled his eyes.

Lightmane: I have another idea. I think Nog and Kirk should come with us to the Keep. We need to show them that the monsters here can change their ways, and who better to show them that than those two.

Everyone agreed, so Nog and Kirk came with. They were quite nervous though, fearing someone might try to attack them, but Nightwind assured them that if anyone did, his axe and hammer would make them regret it.

With that they headed back to the Keep, and as they were walking back, Lettia told them about her idea: So now that we’re rich, what do you all say we take the time and go visit all of our families where we all live?

Shinfia: I’d love to, but it would take months to travel to all of those villages. Some of us live almost a hundred miles north of Doran and some are almost a hundred miles south.

Lettia: I know. So lets buy horses and ride there.

Shinfia thought about that for a second: Wow! I hadn’t thought of that. I’m still not used to the fact that we’re kind of rich now and can easily afford just about anything we want, let alone that we now actually have the time. The thought of meeting all of your families and showing you mine is making me kind of emotional right now.

Shinfia started to tear up a little, so Lettia put her arm around her: I can’t wait to meet your family, Shin. I’d love for my father to meet all of you, but he now lives up north in the elven kingdom, so we can visit him some other time, hopefully.

Lightmane: Well, I keep saying I’m going to go visit my family that lives there, but I never did, but my immediate family lives in the village of Fayshen, so I’d love to go visit them with all of you.

Belfin: Great idea Lettia, but gnomes, hobbits and dwarves don’t ride horses very well.

Lettia: You can ride on the 2 draft horses that pull the wagon and we can either buy 1 more draft horse, or 1 of you can just ride in the wagon. You’ll need a lot of hides though, to cushion the ride (she said, smiling).

Filius: Wow Lettia, that’s a great idea. I’d love to visit my family, let alone introduce you to all of them. I want to meet all of yours too.

Everyone felt the same. The thought of traveling to visit everyone’s family got them all excited, but now it was time to celebrate at the Keep. As they got near the Keep though, the guards saw the monsters and immediately called down to the party to come no closer. They hadn’t even come around to the front gate yet, so Lightmane called out to them, saying who they were and that they were coming to see William, the Castellan, but the guards aimed their crossbows at them and said if they come any closer that they’d fire, so they all stopped.

Lightmane: As I just told you, we are here to see William, the Castellan. Tell him that the party of adventurers who spoke with him before have succeeded in stopping all of the attacks on the road. These creatures who are with us are now our friends. You have nothing to fear. They are not evil. Why in the world would they travel here if they were? Do you think we’re actually planning on attacking the entire Keep? Now put away your weapons and allow us to go to the Main Gate.

Shinfia then called out: Tell Jaren that Shinfia and Lettia are here. (speaking to the party now) If that doesn’t work, nothing will.

A minute later and the guards told them that they could travel around to the front.

Shinfia: Did you tell Jaren that Shinfia and Lettia are here to see him?

Guard: Yes.

Shinfia: Thank you. See… works every time (she said, smiling).

As they came around the front, Jaren was waiting for them with 8 other guards. Jaren and the guards all looked quite nervous. Along the battlements, many guards were ready with their crossbows, while many more stood just inside the gate.

Shinfia: Jaren, relax. Do you really think we’d be traveling with monsters if they were evil and dangerous?

Jaren: No I don’t, but don’t come any closer. Now what’s going on?

Shinfia: Guys, let Lettia and I handle this. Jaren, this bugbear and kobold and half-orc helped us defeat the evil clerics in the temple. All the attacks on the road came to an end days ago. It’s safe to travel the roads now. You need to let William know that, so he can start spreading the news.

Jaren: Or maybe you’ve been taken prisoner and are now working with them.

Lettia: Jaren, for crying out loud. It’s Lettia and Shinfia and I’m sure you recognize everyone else. Why don’t you let us approach or come over here and say hi to them and see for yourself.

Jaren: One of you come halfway with the kobold. Everyone else stay where you are.

Shinfia: Ok Jaren. Fine. Here I come. Come on Kirk. Lets go say hi to the nice guard… Kirk, this is Jaren. Jaren is the corporal of the watch. Jaren, this is Kirk. Kirk is one of 2 captains in the valley and the leader of the kobolds.

Kirk: Nice to meet you, Jaren.

Shinfia: Reach out your hand.

Kirk: What?

Shinfia went to shake Jaren’s hand: Like this. Sorry Jaren. Kobolds don’t know our custom of hand shaking. See Kirk, like this. Now shake my hand.

Shinfia reached out her hand to Kirk. The kobold raised his left hand.

Shinfia: No, the other hand.

Kirk raised his right hand and Shinfia took it into hers and gently shook it. Kirk looked confused.

Shinfia: This is how we often greet each other, or say hello. Not always though. Just sometimes.

Kirk: Ok. Hi Jaren.

Kirk reached out his hand to Jaren. Jaren extended his and took hold of Kirk’s hand, but didn’t shake it.

Kirk: He’s not shaking my hand. Am I doing something wrong?

Shinfia took her left hand and grabbed Jaren’s left hand and gently shook it: Like that.

Kirk tried to gently shake Jaren’s hand, but Jaren appeared to be testing the Kobold’s strength.

Kirk: He’s resisting.

Shinfia: Jaren, would you please stop messing around and just shake Kirk’s hand?

Jaren: You’re a kobold.

Kirk: Yes.

Jaren: I’m talking to a kobold.

Kirk: Yes.

Jaren: And he’s talking back to me. Shin, what’s going on?

Shinfia looked Jaren in his eyes: Jaren, it’s me, Shinfia. Now I promise you that you have nothing to worry about, so come say hello to Nog, the bugbear and Ken Jilgrath, the half-orc.

Jaren: Is that the half-orc that was dead?

Shinfia: Yes.

Jaren: The temple raised him back to life?

Shinfia: Yes.

Jaren: Why?

Shinfia: Because someone paid to have him raised, that’s why. Now come say hi and see for yourself how nice and polite they all are, just like Kirk here.

Jaren came over and was introduced to Nog and Ken. It took a while, but Jaren finally came to believe that they were telling the truth and motioned to the guards that they were all coming in and that everything was fine. The guards allowed it, but they didn’t look like they believed Jaren at all. Jaren told them that he had already sent for William, but when they entered the gate, the drawbridge went up and guards surrounded them.

Sergeant of the Guard: You are all under arrest. Come with us quietly, or we will use force.

Stable boys took their wagon to the warehouse and then their draft horses to the stables that were next to it, which was directly across from the main gate. The sergeant and about half a dozen guards started walking them into the Keep. Up above they could see many guards walking the battlements. All had their crossbows aimed at the party.

Jaren: Jason, what are you doing?

Jason: Following orders.

Shinfia: Jason? Jaren, Jarlan, and now Jason. This is getting confusing.

Jason: Who’s Jarlan?

Shinfia: Nevermind.

Jason: I’m sorry, but I asked you a question. Now who’s Jarlan?

Shinfia: Well if you must know, he was an evil priest that lived here in your Keep for a while, but we killed him, along with all the evil monsters in the valley that were attacking travelers on the road, so now it’s safe to travel again, so you’re welcome.

Jason said nothing and kept walking.

Nightwind: Where are you taking us?

Jason: To the dungeon below the Keep.

Lightmane: Why? What did we do?

Jason: You brought a bugbear, a kobold and a half-orc into the Keep by convincing the corporal of the watch that they could be trusted, which they obviously can’t. That’s what you did.

Jason brought them to the inner gatehouse, but when Jaren tried to leave, the guards stopped him.

Jaren: What’s going on?

Jason: You’re under arrest too, since you’re obviously working with them.

Jaren: What? That’s insane. I’m not working with them. They’re my friends.

Jason: Oh, they’re your friends. Well then.

Jaren: No. I meant they’ve been here many times before. I know them. They have an apartment here.

Jason: Sure they do, Jaren. Sure they do.

Tenneth: May we see William the Castellan?

Jason: Oh I’m sure he’ll be stopping down to see you at some point today.

At this point Nog tried speaking: I’m sorry you don’t

Jason turned around and put his sword up against the bugbears throat: One more word out of any of you monsters and every guard in this Keep will be on all of you, and you’ll all die a quick death. Now all of you just shut up and come with us.

There were now over a dozen guards all around them and many more could be seen nearby. They walked through the large courtyard and into the back building. They were taken downstairs into the dungeon below the Keep and there they were all put into one large cell. Jason locked the gate and left with the key. Apart from trying to break out, it appeared that their only other option was to wait and hope that William the Castellan would soon come visit them…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 43 – It’s good for this

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

Shar: I was expecting to see plenty of combat… but I wasn’t expecting this.

Sheila: That makes 2 of us.

Ehlonna: Make that 3, 4, 5 & 6 of us.

The others all agreed with Ehlonna. They all got very quiet as the party moved to attack the clerics and the undead. Kirth and Bael just looked at each other, not really sure what to say, but they both wondered what was going through Sheila’s mind.

Sheila, thinking to herself: I want to help them more, but I can’t, because what’s the point then? If I just let them win, then this was all just a silly game. I have to just sit here and let it all play out, so why do I so badly want to help them, more so than I already have, yet I know that to do so would be to violate everything that I stand for.

Ehlonna reached over and held her hand. Sheila looked over at her.

Ehlonna: It’s ok. I’m Tenneth’s deity, remember? This is just as intense for me too, but we’re here to observe now; nothing more. You’ve provided them with the help that they needed. It’s up to them now.

Sheila: I know, yet I’m finding it somewhat difficult, which kind of puzzles me, knowing who and what you and I are.

Ehlonna: It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Just take a breath and relax and you’ll be fine.

Sheila: I should be. After all, I’ve been watching adventurers for almost a thousand years now. It’s not like this is new for me.

Ehlonna: Well I’m in 2 other worlds, in addition to yours, so even though you’ve been around for a thousand years, I know a little more about what you’re experiencing now. They are one of, if not your favorite group of adventurers that you’ve ever guided, and this is without a doubt the most intense battle that they’re now about to engage in, so it’s only natural for you to feel some of the anxiety that comes with this.

Shar: If they all worshipped me, all the clerics and zombies and skeletons would already be destroyed. Simple.

Ehlonna just looked at Sheila, who just looked right back at her, and they then communicated to each other telepathically, in a way that Moradin and Shar had no clue what they were saying:
Yes, I see the problem and now I see why she’s here with us.
To show us the error of that kind of thinking.
Even though we already know the error of that kind of thinking.
Yet seeing how she’s responding just makes it that much clearer.
Funny how fate has brought her here, isn’t it.
Funny how now it kind of just makes sense why she’s here.
Yeah… weird how fate works, huh?
Yep. Very.

Sheila took a breath and just relaxed… and watched, as the battle began…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Arrows, spears, daggers and hammers flew at the clerics and the undead. Shocked that they were being attacked inside their temple, the clerics immediately started casting spells, while the skeletons and zombies ran at the adventurers. In the hall were 14 clerics, 7 of which were women, along with 12 skeletons and 12 zombies. More missiles were fired, while Tenneth tried to turn them, but only 3 skeletons were affected. Jack and Filius both cast sleep and 8 clerics collapsed, but were quickly awakened by the other clerics who used their waterskins to throw water on them, but all who fell asleep had their spells disrupted, but some of the others did manage to get both a curse and a bless spell of their own to go off, which basically leveled the playing field as far as each others attacks were concerned. The missile fire had taken out 3 clerics now, as well as 2 skeletons and 1 zombie. Shinfia now moved to the front with her undead slaying sword, along with Nightwind, Lightmane, Jilgrath and Nog. Lettia tried to stay behind Nightwind and fire her bow over his head, as well as her earth bow. The 20′ wide hallway gave John and Bill enough room to keep firing arrows, while Jack and Jilgrath both cast magic missile, targeting a cleric, which disrupted their spells, but some of their spells went off and Jack and Filius stopped moving and immediately the clerics started casting more spells. Belfin and Teeko had nowhere to hide, so Belfin moved next to Nightwind and attacked with his magic dagger, while Teeko stayed by the Puma, who was moving up along the east wall and used her camouflage ability to blend in with the wall, making her fairly difficult to see. The summoned hobgoblins and lizardmen and earth devil all attacked the undead. They all damaged some, but they were all damaged by the undead as well. The entire battle scene had become quite chaotic, with creatures everywhere now.

The zombies and skeletons mindlessly continued their attacks, while Shinfia’s sword sliced through a zombie, killing it, while Nightwind’s hammer killed a skeleton. Jilgrath, fighting with 2 weapons now, had his crystal dagger badly wound a zombie while his sword finished it. Nog’s flail smashed a skeleton, but a zombie attacked him and its flesh met his, damaging the bugbear, but Nog was unaffected by the fear that it caused. Shinfia was able to block and dodge the undeads attacks, as were most of the others, but one skeleton’s scimitar cut into Belfin, while Lightmane’s sword damaged a zombie. John and Bill both fired their arrows at the clerics and one of them fell, and Lettia’s earth bow wounded another, while Lettia decided to try out a spell she had never cast before called Sunscorch, which was supposed to be very effective against undead. A brilliant ray of scorching heat came from above a zombie and struck it and it fell. Each hobgoblin slightly damaged a skeleton again, but the skeletons and zombies that were attacking them killed them both, while the lizardmen and the earth devil damaged 3 of the zombies, but they were also both badly wounded now too. 2 clerics who were behind the others had hammers appear in the air next to them. Seeing the hammers reminded everyone of Jarlan, the evil priest, so Tenneth decided that trying to cast hold person on the clerics was more important than keeping 3 skeletons at bay, so he released the skeletons from the hold that he had on them and started casting hold person, targeting both of the priests. Half of the other clerics had no other spells left to cast and the other half cast protection from good on themselves and were now also out of spells, so they all backed up by the 2 priests and let the undead engage the adventurers for now.

8 zombies and 8 skeletons were still attacking the party, so Lettia pulled her sword and engaged them, but her earth bow had 2 shots left, so she had it fire at one of the priests, but the arrow didn’t penetrate his plate armor. A skeleton hit Tenneth with its scimitar, which disrupted his spell. Shinfia’s sword killed another zombie and Jilgrath killed a skeleton. Lightmane killed the wounded zombie, as Tenneth’s protection from evil spell that was on him helped protect him from their attacks. Nightwind and Nog both wounded a zombie, but one of the zombies hit Belfin, who started to cower in fear, while a skeleton’s sword cut into Shinfia slightly. Lettia struck a skeleton with her sword but it barely did any damage to it. John and Bill kept firing at the clerics, but neither did any damage. One of the priests hammers flew at Lightmane, but missed. The other flew at Shinfia, but she was able to dodge it.

The party was still outnumbered, but the battle seemed to be turning in their favor, but then Raysha, the leader of the temple appeared. She was beautiful. She had long blonde hair and wore a long dark purple robe. Underneath it was a beautiful suit of plate armor. In her hand was a beautiful looking large shield and a staff that seemed to resemble a snake. With her were 3 zombies who were wearing plate armor and carried battle axes. Next to them were 2 men and 1 woman. The 2 men looked like warriors. They both wore plate armor and carried a large shield and long sword, while the woman had no armor, but held a staff in her hand.

Raysha, smiling now, cried out: You are greatly outnumbered. Surrender and we will spare your lives.

The party thought they were just starting to get the upper hand, but when Raysha appeared with 3 heavily armored zombies and 2 warriors and what they believed was a wizard, fear once again started to come into their minds. The clerics and undead alone still posed a threat, but they seemed to be winning, but now Raysha was right. They were greatly outnumbered and all hope seemed lost.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Shar: Oh well. They fought well, but they should surrender now. Course if they do, I’m guessing she has the means to turn them into zombies. That or she’ll just lock them up and let them rot. Maybe it’s better that they fight to the death after all. Too bad that one renegade bugbear couldn’t convince the others to fight the clerics, but that clearly was wishful thinking.

Shar clearly didn’t realize that Nog, along with Kirk, had succeeded in rallying most of the monsters of the valley to the temple and that they were all outside the entrance now, waiting for the signal from the puma. Sheila was still worried though, for Raysha and her 3 companions were all quite powerful. She knew that without the monsters help that the party would almost certainly be defeated.

Sheila, communicating now telepathically with the Puma: Well Lettia, lets hope that Kirk’s strategy with the kobolds works on Raysha like it did against the party. Call them forth.

Sheila then grabbed Ehlonna’s hand tightly. The passage that led to the cave entrance was in-between the undead and the clerics. Lettia, the Great White Puma, let out a loud roar. All the clerics, along with Raysha and the others, were all shocked when they saw the enormous white Puma seem to just appear along the east wall, but a moment later and the sound of many creatures charging into the temple sent them into disarray. The undead mindlessly kept attacking the adventurers, but now, charging into the temple, where Kirk the kobold with 4 male kobolds, 10 female kobolds and 14 young kobolds. With him came 5 male bugbears, 8 female bugbears and 6 young bugbears, along with 3 hobgoblins, 2 gnolls and 3 goblins. All the kobolds, except for Kirk, swarmed all over the clerics and started grabbing and biting them, while all the other monsters attacked everyone else.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Raysha couldn’t believe what was happening. All the monsters that lived in the valley, kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls and bugbears were all attacking her and her army.

Raysha cried out: What are you doing? I’m the High Priestess of this valley. You all serve me. They’re the enemy. Attack them, not us.

But the monsters all ignored her commands and kept attacking. Raysha and her army were now greatly outnumbered and the clerics weren’t able to cast any spells, thanks to all the kobolds grabbing and biting them. Raysha’s 3 zombie guards and the 2 male warriors attacked back, while Raysha and the woman who was with her started casting a spell, but now it was the bugbears turn. Under Kirk’s direction, the female bugbears and their kids all started grabbing and biting Raysha and the 3 who were with her. All the biting and grabbing disrupted the women’s spells and several of the clerics dropped their weapons. Each male bugbear attacked one of her zombie guards, while all the other monsters kept attacking everyone else. At this point, Gluguk and Meesha appeared in the entrance hall with 13 male orcs. None of them engaged anyone in battle though, as Gluguk wouldn’t allow it, still fearing Raysha and her undead army, but now they all were just standing there, dumbfounded at what they were seeing.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Shar: Wait, the bugbear succeeded? How? This is incredible. I can’t believe what I’m watching.

Shar was totally into the battle now, shocked as much as Raysha was, how everything had just completely turned around in the parties favor. Sheila saw the excitement in Shar’s eyes and just smiled.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

The puma started knocking skeletons and zombies all over the place and all of the undead were quickly obliterated by the adventurers. Several of the party members were wounded now and some of the monsters were wounded as well, while some were now lying on the ground, unconscious or dead, but all the undead were destroyed and most of the clerics were either dead or lying unconscious on the ground. 2 zombie guards had fallen, along with 1 bugbear. Raysha and the others were starting to knock kobolds and bugbear kids off of them, but they were having a very hard time attacking anyone and were all badly wounded now, from all the stabbing and biting. Only 1 priest was still fighting back. All the other clerics had fallen. The party now moved up to engage them.

Lettia called out to Raysha: It is now you who are greatly outnumbered. Surrender and we will spare your lives.

Raysha: Never.

Lettia: Then it’s time to die.

Several females and kids, along with 2 goblins, 1 gnoll and 1 hobgoblin, were now lying on the ground, unconscious or dead, so the rest fled as the adventurers attacked, but just before they did, one of the kobolds bit Raysha in her arm and she dropped her staff. The staff hit the ground and then turned into a snake and coiled around a bugbear and just held it. Lettia and Jilgrath engaged Raysha, while Shinfia engaged the other woman who stood next to her. Nightwind and Lightmane attacked one of the warriors. Nog and John attacked the other one, while Tenneth and Bill attacked the priest, who was also wearing plate armor. Belfin and Teeko were waiting for a space where they could attack from behind, but they were all up against the north wall. Lettia the Puma just sat there and watched, ready to leap on someone, if she needed to.

A bugbear killed the last armored zombie and moved to help Lettia and Jilgrath. Raysha hit Jilgrath with her mace. Lettia swung her sword but it was unable to penetrate Raysha’s armor. The bugbears attack also failed to do any damage to her. Shinfia had already dropped her sword and she attacked the unarmored woman with her hands and feet. The woman swung her staff, but Shinfia easily avoided it and her hands struck the woman and stunned her. Nog hit the warrior and he fell, while everyone else’s attacks failed to damage their opponents.

The rest of the monsters now all gathered by the Puma and just stood there and watched, ready to fight again, if needed, while Gluguk and the orcs just stood where they were, and did nothing. The warrior hit Nightwind this time, damaging him pretty good, but Nightwind and Lightmane’s attacks both connected this time and the badly wounded warrior fell. He was still conscious, but was barely moving. The priest hit Tenneth, but Tenneth’s mace found its target this time and the cleric fell, leaving just Raysha who hit Jilgrath again with her mace, which wounded him badly now, but this time Lettia’s sword was somehow able to cut into Raysha’s flesh and the powerful cleric let out a scream as she fell to the ground.

When Gluguk saw Raysha fall, his jaw dropped, but then he immediately moved into the hallway and ordered the orcs with him to move up, which they did, while Meesha stayed by his side. Tenneth and the others immediately started going around binding the wounds of the monsters who had fallen, but were still alive. Jack and Filius were no longer held and moved up with the rest of the party.

Lettia: Surrender or die. What’s it going to be, Raysha?

Raysha: You know my name? May I have the privilege and honor of knowing the name of the woman who has defeated me in battle?

Lettia: My name is Lettia, but I didn’t defeat you in battle. That would be all the kobolds and bugbear women and children, who grabbed and bit you and badly wounded you, along with all the other monsters here who helped us. We all merely finished what they started. All the monsters who lived in this valley that you’ve ruled over, are the ones who have defeated you.

Raysha: I don’t understand. How did you get them to turn on me? You’re the enemy. Why did they attack us and not you?

Lettia: They became loyal to us when we spared their lives, in exchange for them stopping their attacks on the road. We had no idea they’d all come attack you though. (Lettia looked over at the puma now) I guess we got a little help in that department.

Raysha looked up into Lettia’s eyes now: I am the Lady of the Valley. I am the leader here. You all must serve me.

As Raysha said those words, she rose up quickly and swung her mace at Lettia. Though terribly wounded, she was still able to fight, but had been letting them think she was finished this entire time. Seeing her rise up though, Lightmane, Jack and Filius immediately started casting a spell. Lettia went all defense, yet Raysha’s mace was still somehow able to connect and damaged her badly. Lettia swung back, but Raysha easily blocked her attack and started laughing, just as 4 magic missiles, 2 from Jack and 1 from Filius and Lightmane, cut into her flesh, and she fell to the ground, dead. The moment Raysha died, the snake that held the bugbear turned back into a staff.

Jilgrath, now seeing Gluguk just standing there, with Meesha by his side, walked up to Lettia and spoke: Lettia, if some of these clerics and others are still alive, I would like to try to save them and see if I and others can get them to turn and change their ways. They would make great allies, if we could somehow reach them. Will you allow me and others to try to bind their wounds and would you and Tenneth be willing to use your herbs and healing salve on them?

Jilgrath wanted Gluguk, along with all the other monsters, to see him asking a woman for permission.

Lettia was quite surprised at his words: Well Jilgrath, I’m still trying to process all that just happened here, but I feel that if you wish to try to reach and save these people, that you should be allowed to do so… so go ahead. Tenneth and I will assist. I just want to check something with everyone first though. This isn’t a dream right? This really just happened, yes? Did, did we really just defeat the temple, by having all the monsters come here and fight on our side? Did that really just happen?

Jack: Yes it did. We just won this battle because the monsters helped us defeat those who ruled over them. Yes, you’re not dreaming, unless of course we’re both having the same dream (he said, smiling).

Everyone felt the same way. No one could believe that all the monsters came together and fought on their side. Gluguk didn’t, but his actions were what they assumed the other monsters actions would be; to stay out of it and not get involved, for if Raysha defeated them, then they’d all have to answer to her, but the victory was so overwhelming that everyone was still shocked at what just happened and were still having a hard time processing it all.

Especially Gluguk: How did this happen? How did you defeat Raysha? I don’t understand.

Jilgrath: Rule #1 Gluguk. Take away a spellcasters ability to cast spells and you weaken them greatly. Rule #2. Raysha was probably more powerful than any of us, and some of her people here may have been also, but against all of us there was nothing they could do, just as without all those here who helped us, Raysha probably defeats us.

Jilgrath then walked up to Lettia, the Great White Puma: I don’t know if you can hear me, but thanks to you we were victorious. I don’t know how you did it, but we all owe you our life.

Jilgrath then took a knee before her, and all the monsters did likewise, so the adventurers did as well. Teeko just smiled. Everyone took out healing potions and either drank one, or gave one to a wounded monster to drink. About half of the clerics were still alive, along with one of the warriors and the other woman. As they laid there unconscious, all their gear was carefully removed. 1 bugbear kid, 2 kobold kids, 1 kobold female and 1 goblin were dead. All the rest were unconscious and appeared stable. Some of the monsters were crying over the fallen, while Jilgrath talked to the party about what to do with the clerics.

Jilgrath: I wish there was a way to raise our fallen. If only I had that kind of power. How about we lock up the clerics in the bugbears prisons? If we can tie their hands, they won’t be able to cast any spells, once they regain consciousness.

Nog: We have handcuffs that we can put on some of them. We’ll tie the others hands. That way they’ll still be able to eat.

Lettia: That all sounds good. Are you coming with us to explore the rest of this place, or will you be going with the bugbears to lock them up?

Nog: I will make sure they are all locked up and kept stable. If you want me to join you, you know where to find me.

Gluguk: I am going back to my lair. (Gluguk then turned to Jilgrath) If that is alright with you.

Jilgrath: Yes, that’s fine. Once the adventurers are finished here, I will call everyone together and we will discuss our new lives here in the valley, free from Raysha and the clerics.

Some of the monsters helped carry their wounded back to their caves, while the rest all helped carry the clerics and the others to the bugbear cave, leaving just Jilgrath and the adventurers.

While this was happening, Shinfia walked up to Jilgrath: It sounds like you’re the new leader here. Normally that would’ve concerned us, but after watching you ask Lettia for permission in front of Gluguk and all the others, I have to say Jilgrath that I’m quite impressed with you. Course, you didn’t ask ‘me’ for permission; just Lettia (she said, smiling).

Jilgrath: Ah, you’re right. An oversite on my part, I assure you… (he said, smiling back).

Teeko: Mom and I will come with you now, as we’d like to see the rest of this place. Are you going to live her now, Jilgrath? Maybe we can come here sometimes and visit you.

Jilgrath: Well lets see what else is here and how big this place is, before we go deciding who’s going to live where and do what.

Teeko: Ok. Good idea.

Before they started exploring again, first they checked all the belt pouches that they took off everyone, which were all filled with coins. The total haul was around 600 copper, 300 silver and 30 gold coins, while Raysha had 100 silver, 40 gold and 5 platinum coins. She also wore a ring that was set with a black gem, which they took off of her when they removed everyone’s gear. At first they were all quite shocked at how much money there was, but then realized that it made sense that Raysha and the clerics would have a lot of coins on them. Jack then cast detect magic on all the gear. Raysha’s armor and shield and staff radiated magic, along with the amulets that the undead wore. Lettia decided to try on Raysha’s armor, and was surprised that it didn’t seem to hinder her movement much, while Lightmane decided to take her shield. Everyone was afraid to handle the amulets or Raysha’s staff, after seeing it turn into a snake, so they left everything in the hall and started exploring the rest of the place. They found a stairway going to the lower level, but chose to explore everything up here first. They found 3 rooms that were the quarters for the clerics and then they found a large temple area. On an altar made of stone were 4 bronze goblets and a bronze bowl. In the goblets were water, blood, a greenish liquid and a bluish liquid.

Lightmane: I say we don’t touch anything in here.

Lettia: Agreed. Lets leave this all for Jilgrath to play with. Perhaps he can get the clerics to explain what this all is and what it’s used for.

They soon came to a much larger room that also looked like a temple. There was an open door in the east wall and beyond it they saw a room similar in size to where they had encountered all the zombies. They assumed this was where more zombies and/or skeletons were kept. They went back into the large temple area and again chose to not touch anything in it, for it all seemed quite evil in its appearance. The walls were covered by tapestries of deep purple with embroidered symbols and runes, done in scarlet and gold and black thread. Jack still had the level 0 cantrip spell comprehend languages memorized, so he cast it on the runes, mostly out of curiosity.

Jack: Ok then. The runes say ‘death to all that is good’ and ‘evil will triumph over good’. How lovely.

They weren’t quite sure what to make of those ominous words, but chose to ignore them for now and started looking around. Behind one of the tapestries was another passageway that went south into a room that was 20′ square with a door on the east wall. The room was lavishly furnished with couches, cushions, soft comfy chairs and tables. On one table was a golden flagon with 9 golden cups. The door was open and beyond was a 30′ square room that was also lavishly furnished. This was clearly Raysha’s personal quarters, which they all realized the moment they went inside. The room had a beautiful purple carpet with furniture of black wood with velvet upholstery and a large bed in the northwest corner that was covered with silken covers with black and purple cushions and pillows. In the northeast corner was a beautiful fireplace. In the southeast corner was a large beautiful looking wardrobe that was partly open. Inside were a lot of expensive looking clothes of various colors, along with 18 pairs of boots and shoes, also of varying colors and styles, and immediately Lettia and Shinfia became captivated.

Shinfia: Look at all these beautiful clothes. I thought Raysha just wore purple and black, but clearly she had great taste. I just love all her outfits.

But Lettia was looking at all of Raysha’s shoes: I know, but look at these shoes. I want them. I think I want everything in here. What do you say we put all of it in our large sacks and set them in our wheelbarrow. I’m serious, I want everything in here. Now I can’t wait to get back to our apartment and try everything on.

Jack, smiling now: Well now that you girls have found the treasures that you’ve always been looking for, I’m hoping she has more treasures that we would all like to see, if you know what I mean. They must be hidden here somewhere.

The girls barely heard Jack though. They were too busy holding up outfits for each other, as well as trying on shoes, so while the girls were busy looking at all of Raysha’s beautiful outfits, everybody else started searching for secret doors, but found nothing, so they searched the temple, but again found nothing.

Lightmane: Ok. Clearly we’re missing something. They must have lots of treasure somewhere. They have to. Her clothes alone cost a lot of money. There has to be a treasure room in this place somewhere.

Filius: Well it’s not like we don’t have time. Perhaps it’s down the stairs back near the entrance.

They were about to head there when Shinfia noticed something in the back of the wardrobe.

Shinfia: Guys? I think I found that secret door you all were looking for. Check this out.

Shinfia noticed a tiny crease in the back part of the wardrobe and when she placed her hands on it, it opened up slightly. Beyond was a small 10′ square room with a desk and chair, along with 4 beautiful looking chests. 2 were fairly large, while the other 2 were about half their size. On the opposite wall was another door that appeared to be a secret door; easily seen from this side but they probably walked right by it earlier. Belfin and Filius checked everything for traps and found nothing, so Belfin opened the door. It went to the 20′ hallway that they had just come from.

Belfin: So not only did she keep her treasures inside here, but it was also a quick way back towards the clerics, or maybe it was a way to escape.

Filius: Probably both. Lets open the chests.

Tenneth: Um, before we do that, look at this.

While Belfin and Filius were examining the door, Tenneth started going through the drawers in the desk, since they didn’t find any traps, and inside one was a letter written to Raysha.

Tenneth: It’s dated from more than a year ago.

Lettia: Nice. Well you’ve got our attention. What does it say?

Tenneth: “To Raysha, The Lady of the Valley. First let me congratulate you on achieving the 6th progression. The title ‘Canon’ suits you well, but I bet within a year from now you will have achieved the title of ‘llama’, and with a little luck, perhaps you will eventually attain the status of High Priestess, before the thousand years ends. Talona would love to have 2 High Priestesses to celebrate the new millennium with, so here’s hoping you can achieve it. In time, if all goes according to her plan, the Keep shall be brought to their knees as you start cutting into their supply lines. Before you start having the monsters in the valley start attacking caravans though, take some time and go with the clerics to the Keep and spend some time there. Stay there for a few nights if you wish. The 4 chests I’ve sent you contain more treasure than you’ll need in your lifetime, so go have some fun and buy whatever you’d like, while you’re there. There are almost always a few rich merchants there who I just know will love having you as a customer, so enjoy, but once you’re done, leave and never return, until they are at our mercy, that is. Once you are back in your temple, begin the process of having the monsters start attacking the caravans. For the most part let them keep what they steal, but as they bring prisoners to their caves, consider using the creatures in the coffins that I’ve sent you, to turn some of them into zombies. Put the coffins in the crypt and keep the door bolted shut. They won’t animate unless someone gets too close. You can control them, but no one else will be able to, so make sure no one ever goes in there.
Next, only communicate with the chieftains and make sure they instruct the others to not attack any of the other monsters in the valley. They won’t obey completely, but for the most part you’re commands should keep them all from killing each other. The creature that’s in the cave at the back of the valley is a female Owlbear. She can’t be controlled, so avoid her at all costs, but she’ll only come out at night, to hunt, so just instruct the chieftains to order everyone to never come to the back of the valley, especially when they go hunting at night.
Next, use the scroll I’ve sent you to try to communicate with the Minotaur and see if you can get him to work with you, let alone to not kill all of the monsters here. He probably won’t listen, but hopefully your words will get him to at least not attack them.
Eventually the Keep will be at your mercy. Once that happens, attack them with the full force of all the monsters who serve us, along with your undead army that you most surely will have built by then. Take as many prisoners as you can; some to use as slaves and the rest to be turned into zombies. Talona has revealed to me that her influence in Forestera will be greatly enhanced once the thousand years has ended. I look forward to ruling over the land together with you, in the new millennium” It’s signed: Clavdrea; High Priestess of the 12th order of Talona. Is it Clavdrea, or ClavDrea? I’m not sure, but it sounds like a couple of powerful undead creatures are in coffins in a crypt down those stairs, but regardless of that, I can’t believe all that I just read.

They read through the letter again, mostly for clarity. It was good to finally know all that had been going on in this valley, and why.

Jack took the letter and put it in his belt pouch, with all his other notes: Well wasn’t that a lovely letter. I don’t even know where to begin with everything it said.

Nightwind: I do. Open the chests. I’m trying to envision what ‘more treasure than you’ll need in your lifetime’ looks like.

The thought of finding such a vast treasure had everyone filled with excitement. Filius and Belfin chose to open one of the large chests first. It wasn’t locked. It was filled with thousands of copper coins.

Filius, full of excitement now: How many coins do you think that is? 20,000 maybe?

Belfin: I’m guessing at least that many. Does that mean this one is filled with silver?

Filius: Well here’s hoping. What if the 2 smaller ones are filled with gold and platinum?

Lightmane: Well if they are it means that we’re all rich beyond our wildest dreams, but lets not get carried away here. 20,000 or more copper coins is a lot of money though. Looks like we’re gonna need Marcus’s wagon again.

The gnome and the hobbit opened the other large chest and Belfin guessed right, for it was filled with at least 20,000 silver coins. Everyone was beside themselves with how much treasure they had just found.

Lettia: Well everyone, I’m a little scared now to open the other 2. I’ve never seen so much money in my life.

Everyone agreed, but nothing could have prepared them for what the last 2 chests contained, for in the 3rd chest was around 10,000 gold coins and in the 4th was around 5000 platinum coins. They didn’t know the exact amounts until they’d take the time to count them all, but they had a pretty good idea of how much was there, along with the other 2 chests which turned out to actually have closer to 30,000 coins each. The reality of how much treasure they had just found was more than any of them were prepared for. No one quite knew what to say, but eventually the math wizard spoke.

Jack: Ok everyone. If my math is correct, just based on our guess at how much is actually here, 10 copper coins equals 1 silver and 10 silver coins equals 1 gold and 5 gold coins equals 1 platinum coin. So… the silver and copper is worth somewhere around 25 to 30,000. If our guesses are correct and there’s around 8 to 10 thousand gold and 4 to 5 thousand platinum, that’s the equivalent of over 200,000 to 300,000 silver coins. We’re rich.

Jilgrath: I have never seen so much money. I’m guessing none of you have either, but I don’t need any of the money, since I can’t go shopping in the Keep, but if I could have everything in this temple, except for her clothes of course (he said, looking over at Lettia and Shinfia), I would be very happy. I’m considering making this place my home. There’s lots of room though, if anyone else would like to live here (he said, as he looked over at Teeko and the Puma).

Teeko: I would very much like to have this place as a second home. Mom and I love living in our huge tree though, but the rooms were the clerics live are very nice too, so if we could have one of those rooms, we would like that.

Jilgrath: I would like that too.

Lettia: Jilgrath, I think you should definitely get some of the money. We won. That means the attacks on the road will stop now. Well maybe not entirely, since there’s a bandit gang out there somewhere and I’m sure monsters that live in the woods will occasionally still attack travelers on the road, but now no more so than any other road. Therefore, once we’ve finished here and gathered all this treasure, I say we go to the Keep and buy you and all the monsters here all the supplies that you all want and need, but with all this money, I’m sure there’s plenty of other things that you would love to have too.

Jilgrath, smiling now: I would like that. How about we go down those stairs and explore the rest of this place.

Lettia: Sounds good, but lets not bother going into the place where those creatures are. The letter says they’re not animated, so lets just leave them there. Lets just make sure there’s nothing alive down those stairs and then lets go celebrate.

Everyone agreed, so they went back to the stairs and explored the lower level. Down one passage was a torture chamber room and an empty cell with many manacles on the wall with lots of blood stains. They assumed that whatever prisoners used to be here, were either killed or were turned into skeletons or zombies. Another room was a huge storage room filled with tons of high quality food and drink. Another set of stairs went down to a door that was bolted shut, so they turned around and went back up the stairs and quickly found another stairway down that went into a very nice room that was the living quarters for 2 people. Inside a small locked chest they found a spellbook, which greatly excited all 4 wizards, but there was nothing alive anywhere, so they headed back upstairs.

The adventurers were done here. The reality of that was finally starting to set in. They thought about the first time Teeko had told them that there were 11 caves down in this valley. At that moment, the task before them seemed impossible. How could 1 party of adventurers destroy 11 lairs of monsters, yet they did it, but the fact that they accomplished their goal not by destroying all of them, but by discovering that some of the monsters could be reasoned with and were actually willing to cooperate with them, still had them all amazed.

Lightmane: You know guys, I wonder if we would’ve won, had we not gotten so many of the monsters here to switch sides. I’m still shocked that they did. It’s funny that we’re going to get all the credit for stopping the attacks, when in truth the monsters here had just as much to do with it as we did. Just think about that for a second.

Lettia: Lightmane, I’ve been thinking about that from the day we met Kish. The reality of all that has happened here will probably continue to boggle my mind for years, but enough. We won. Lets celebrate here first with all the monsters and then lets go to the Keep and let them all know what happened, and celebrate with all of them.

Filius: Yes, but before we celebrate at the Keep, lets get that wagon and load up all our coins first. Then we can really celebrate with everyone. First thing we should do though is buy some good locks for these chests.

Everyone smiled at the gnomes words, and then they all headed out of the temple and into the valley, to celebrate with all of the monsters…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sheila: Well that was quite incredible to watch. Did you want to hang out some more and enjoy watching the celebrations, or do you need to get going?

Shar: Do you wish for me to leave now?

Sheila: No, not at all. I just wasn’t sure if watching them celebrate defeating Talona was something that interested you.

Shar: The only thing that Talona and I share in common is our love for the colors purple and black.

Sheila, smiling now: Well black isn’t a color, but I’m sure you knew that.

Shar, not smiling now: Yes, I knew that. Obviously I knew that.

Sheila: Well you’re the mistress of the darkness, so I thought maybe you saw black as a color.

Shar, smiling now: No Sheila. Black is the absence of light, but I’m sure you already knew that. The reason I love black though is because black represents the darkness, and I ‘am’ the darkness, which is why all who worship the darkness worship me.

Sheila: Well actually Shar, you’re not the darkness. If you were, all I’d see when I look at you, would be darkness, but that’s not what I see. What I see is a beautiful woman who has beautiful magical purple eyes that allow you to see in pitch blackness; an ability that no one else has, as far as I know. It’s quite impressive, actually. The good you could do with that ability… well here’s hoping that one day you choose to do so.

Shar, not smiling again: You’re right. I have no reason to stay any longer and watch them celebrate. Thank you for allowing me to come here and watch that epic battle with you all, but I must be leaving now.

Shar then, just like that, vanished from their sight.

Bael: It’s interesting.

Sheila: What’s interesting?

Bael: Shar.

Sheila: Shar is not an ‘it’. Shar is a ‘she’.

Bael: Yes, I’m sorry. ‘She’ is interesting. Very interesting.

Sheila: Really. How so?

Bael: Raysha was beautiful, wasn’t she.

Sheila and Ehlonna now looked at each other, a little surprised at Bael’s words.

Bael: What? I’m a half-elf, not a dog. I’m attracted to beautiful women just like any man.

At this, Kirth started smiling.

Sheila: Yes she was, and so is Shar. Is that what you find interesting; that evil can still be beautiful?

Bael: Yes. Don’t you find it interesting? We tend to associate beauty with good and ugliness with evil. When Shar said that Talona is hideous looking, I associated her ugliness with the fact that she was evil, yet Raysha was beautiful, as is Shar. It makes me wonder if someone as hideous looking as Talona, could one day become good. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it. Though in truth, if I had the power to turn either Shar or Talona to good, but could only turn one, I’d totally pick Shar.

Sheila: Because she’s beautiful.

Bael: Yes.

Sheila: Sounds to me like you’ve got a little crush on Shar.

Bael, smiling now: Really? Whatever gave you that idea?

Everyone just smiled… sat back… and continued to watch The Adventurers…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 42 – The Temple of Talona

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

I’m going to try to be brief here, cause I really just want to skip ahead and get to the temple, so I’ll just ‘say’ what all happened with the party at the Keep, instead of getting into all the conversations that went on, because if I did that, it would take an entire chapter to do so. Course I’ve already written 41 chapters, so what’s one more, but I digress.

The party brought the new treasures that they found to Marcus, including the gems, and Marcus gave them some more good news. He sold Gragnok’s armor for 900 silver pieces and all their other items sold as well. He had 750 silver pieces waiting for them. They took the money, along with what they had and bought 20 more healing potions and 2 neutralize poison potions at the temple in the Keep, wanting to be as prepared as they possibly could for the temple in the valley. Since they were fairly certain that there were undead creatures in the temple, Shinfia decided to take their undead-slaying sword, since she felt her hands and feet might not be very effective against undead. They then decided to go have dinner in the tavern and then spend the night in their apartment and rest up and head out in the morning, but as they were walking to the tavern, everything went dark. People started screaming, but others lit torches and everything settled down rather quickly, but watching day turned to night instantly, had everyone on edge. A few minutes later though and the light of day returned, just like that, and quickly everybody calmed back down. As they sat in the tavern though, rumours started flying.

Man: I knew this was going to happen. We’re doomed. When the thousand years end, darkness shall prevail. This was a sign of things to come.

Woman: The gods are warning us. We must turn to them in prayer, or they will destroy us all.

Another man: No. That priest who used to be here was right. If we do not destroy all the evil that’s in the world, then the evil will destroy all of us.

Other Man: You’re all wrong. Have you not read? They went through the village killing everyone. They showed no mercy. All were slain in her service. When the thousand years ends, they will go around killing people, to serve their evil goddess.

Woman: Who? What goddess?

Other Man: I don’t know. How am I supposed to know that, but that’s what it said.

Another Man: That’s what it said? Who/what said that?

Other Man: It was on a scroll.

Another Man: Did you see it?

Other Man: No, but the person who told me saw it. They read it and they wrote it down, so they’d never forget it. They weren’t lying. They were adventurers. Powerful adventurers.

Filius: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with what we’re hearing now.

Shinfia: Maybe, but some of that sounds quite scary.

Jack: I wonder why so many people think they know what’s going to happen, when they all can’t even agree on what’s going to happen (he said, laughing).

They all tried to take everything they were hearing with a grain of salt and eventually went back to their apartment and went to bed.

The next morning they went to the tavern and had some breakfast and then they all headed out for the valley…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

As the adventurers were walking down the east road, Shar contacted Sheila.

Sheila: Well that didn’t take very long.

Shar: Hi. I was intrigued by your words, but that’s not the main reason I contacted you. I’d like to watch them enter the temple. May I come sit with you?

Sheila: Wow! Well I wasn’t expecting that. Not that you can trick me in any way in my realm, but why should I trust you, Shar?

Sheila said her name so that everyone else knew who she was speaking to, to which they were all quite shocked to hear that Shar, the evil goddess of darkness, had contacted her.

Shar: Because, as you just said, I can’t trick you in any way in your realm and I have no hidden agenda and I’m not working with Zeus anymore. It was a one time thing, I assure you. Besides, it’s not like I can get away with lying to you in your realm, so ask me when I’m there, if you feel you need to.

Sheila: You’re right, you can’t. Ok then. Come on through.

Everyone was quite shocked to hear Sheila inviting Shar to come on through.

Shar: I can’t handle bright light though, so can you make it as dark as possible? I don’t mind a little light, but I can’t handle brightness. It bothers my eyes greatly.

Sheila: Got it. The lights are down low now.

In case some of you who are reading this are wondering, no, there isn’t any electricity in Sheila’s realm. Light is provided magically. I’m sure you knew that, but just in case you weren’t sure if I did, now you know.

Shar appeared and everyone was quite shocked to see her, since no evil deity ever visits a good deities realm. Bael and Kirth naturally felt fear, but the 3 deities quickly calmed their fears, so they relaxed.

Shar: Relax boys. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just here to sit and watch with you, as I’m quite intrigued by this group too, believe it or not.

Sheila: I’m surprised to hear that. I didn’t even know you were aware of them.

Shar: It’s only because of Talona that I became aware of them. She’s quite ticked off, especially since she can’t do anything about it. She’s just hoping that Raysha destroys them. Wow! That’s one helluva vision screen you have. Can I get one?

Sheila: Sure. When you create your own world, you’ll have one. It comes with. Kind of a package deal.

Shar: Yes, well unless I become a good deity at some point, I won’t be creating any world. Not that I’d want to anyway. I prefer messing up other deities worlds. Ruling over another deities world is tons of fun, but creating one isn’t. Far too messy.

Sheila: Yes it is, but I’m very glad that I created Forestera. It’s been as much fun as it’s been a headache (she said, smiling). Bael and Kirth, there’s nothing to worry about. Shar can’t lie to me while she’s in my realm here. In her domain she can, but I’d know if she lies here, so you have nothing to worry about in that regards either.

Bael: Good to know.

Kirth: Yes. Good to know.

Shar: A dog-faced creature and a half-orc. Interesting company you keep.

Sheila: Bael is a half-elf, cursed by a form of dark magic that I’ve been unable to remove, for reasons unknown, though we know it can be removed, so he’ll be back to normal at some point. Half-orcs are an interesting bunch though, for sure, but Kirth is one of my good friends, but now they’re approaching the valley, so lets all enjoy watching and we can talk more later.

Shar: So you’re not going to help them?

Sheila: No. Though I have intervened a couple times, and will again, I will not interfere here in any way. I rarely interfere in my world, as I prefer to let fate determine everyone’s destiny.

Shar: I see. Well there’s another reason I don’t want to create my own world. I couldn’t resist interfering and making sure everything goes the way that I want it to.

Sheila: I understand, which is probably one reason among many why very few deities create their own worlds, but now Shar I must ask you some questions. Are you working with anyone, and if so, who?

Shar: I work with all the creatures that are in my domain and with all who worship me.

Sheila: Are you working with any deities?

Shar: Not directly, no.

Sheila, getting a little frustrated now: What deities have you recently worked with and in what capacity are you currently working with any, directly or indirectly?

Shar: Ok, that was well worded. On rare occasions, an evil deity has contacted me, but it has never been anything that would’ve concerned you. You already know about Talona and I with Zeus, but now I am not working with them or anyone else, directly or indirectly. Satisfied?

Sheila: For now, yes. I’m actually glad you came now. Being able to ask you questions, knowing you can’t lie or deceive me, feels kind of good.

Shar: So you “like” having power over others, don’t you.

Sheila ignored Shar’s last words, and they all stopped talking and just watched, as the adventurers came up the road to the north, and took the small trail that led into the valley of caves…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

As the adventurers were about to enter the valley, they heard the sound of a bell ring quite loudly… 5 times.

Filius: Someone is ringing the bell? Talk about timing.

Tenneth: So does this mean that the clerics are calling the chieftains to the temple?

Lightmane: Possibly, but I can’t see from here, due to all the trees and vegetation blocking my view, so I don’t know who’s ringing the bell. Lets go get Jilgrath and ask him if anything’s been happening. By the way, I feel like the Shrine’s blessing is no longer with us. Do you all feel the same?

The party all agreed. They could feel the difference, let alone the fact that food didn’t taste quite as good as it used to. This concerned everyone, but there wasn’t anything they could do about it now. They’d just have to hope they were powerful enough to take on the clerics and the undead, and whatever else was inside that temple. With the sound of the bell, Kirk came outside the kobold cave, while Gluguk and Jilgrath came outside the orc cave, and Nog came outside the bugbear cave and they all met the party in the middle of the valley.

Gluguk: I must go to the temple now. Raysha is calling the chieftains.

Jilgrath: You’re not going anywhere, unless you wish to come with us and fight them.

Gluguk: I am the orc king, not you. Now get out of my way, Jilgrath, or I’ll take you out.

Jilgrath: Gluguk, I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m more powerful than you now. Stand down.

Gluguk swung his sword at Jilgrath, who blocked and swung his sword at Gluguk and cut him across his leg. The orc bent down in pain. Jilgrath then pulled a hammer from his side and clubbed Gluguk in the head, knocking him unconscious.

Jilgrath: You stubborn pig-headed mule. Nog, help me bring this idiot to his cave.

The party was quite surprised at how easily Jilgrath knocked out Gluguk.

Lettia: Wow! That was quite a display of prowess, Ken. Did we miss anything while we were gone?

Jilgrath: No, nothing.

Kirk: No. Everything has been very quiet. Thank you again for all that you have done for us. If there’s anything I can do to help any of you, please just let me know.

Lettia: You’re welcome Kirk. We’d gladly invite you to join us again, but it’s far too dangerous for a kobold. We don’t want anything to happen to you. You’re how we communicate with the other kobolds (she said, smiling), but thanks for offering.

Jilgrath: This is the first time that bell has rung since I arrived here weeks ago. I’d say your timing is quite amazing. Good thing they didn’t ring it yesterday, while you weren’t here. Now we won’t have to worry about Gluguk assisting them for many hours. The clerics are now waiting for the chieftains to come to the temple. We must act now.

They were about to take Gluguk to the orc cave when Nog had a better idea: Lets take him to my cave and lock him up. I’ll instruct the other bugbears to not harm him in any way and just leave him alone. We’ll put plenty of food and water in there. That way we won’t have to worry about him when he wakes up.

The bugbears were quite shocked to see everyone, let alone the orc king unconscious.

Jilgrath: If anyone harms him, you will answer to me and to the adventurers here. Lets go.

Nog translated what Jilgrath said to them, to which they seemed to cower somewhat, while saying that no one would harm him.

Lettia: Jilgrath, I’ll be walking behind Nightwind, so that I can fire my bow over him. How about you walk next to me, behind Lightmane. Nog, if you have any missiles that you can fire, maybe you should walk behind me. How does that sound?

Nog: I like it. I have 2 spears and a hammer that I can throw, along with my flail and shield that I fight with.

Jilgrath: That all sounds good. I like your strategy. Lets go see what all the trouble has actually been about.

The party climbed up the back of the valley… and entered the cave…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Shar: A half-orc calling an orc pig-headed. Well I wasn’t expecting that.

Shar looked over at Kirth as she said that, but Kirth said nothing.

Sheila: Yes, orcs can be quite pig-headed, but so can lots of monsters, as well as men and women.

Sheila now looked over at Shar, similar to how Shar just looked at Kirth, but Shar just looked away… and said nothing.

Moradin, speaking with a straight face: I look forward to the day when all the races learn how to be as patient and understanding as us dwarves.

Shar found the dwarven gods words confusing. Sheila and Ehlonna were too busy trying not to laugh.

Bael: I was feeling very depressed, but sitting here with all of you is making me feel better, so thank you all for coming. All of you.

Bael glanced over at Shar as he said those last words, which confused her even more.

Shar: You no longer feel uncomfortable being in my presence?

Bael: Uncomfortable and intimidated, but knowing that you can’t do anything helps, and seeing you just sitting here with these 3 and us 2, is a most amazing thing to witness, so thank you for coming. I just wish there was a way we could be friends.

Shar: Well there isn’t, so get that thought out of your head… but I’m glad you said what you said and I’m glad I chose to invite myself here to sit with all of you and watch. This is a first for me as well, as I’ve never sat and talked with anyone outside of my domain… ever.

Sheila: Well then there’s hope, so here’s hoping that one day we can all be friends, but I understand that such a day is a long way off, if it should even come at all.

Sheila put her focus back on her vision screen, as did everyone else, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ehlonna smiling at her… and smiled back…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

The cave entrance was around 20′ wide and they all felt a faint foul draft that issued forth from it. The passage went southwest for around 20′-30′ and then opened up into a huge hallway, 20′ wide, running north and south. The ceiling height was at least 12′ in height and the 20’ wide corridor had red strata intertwined with bulging black and purple veins running through the rock walls. Along the walls, every 20′-30′ or so, were torches that emitted a dim light source, but it wasn’t fire.

Jack: This must be a light spell of some kind. Well, at least we won’t need any torches.

Tenneth: Humans need a light source and torches don’t last very long, so a light spell makes sense. The light source is quite dim, but I’m guessing they prefer it that way. I’m just glad we can all see well enough.

The corridor was deathly still. The stone floor was smooth and worn. Nightwind chose to go down the southern passage, and as they walked their footsteps echoed somewhat in these huge halls. The passage eventually went southwest and then south again, while also going west. Down the southern passage, the hallway turned southwest, as well as east.

Nightwind: So many choices. Lets check out this west passage first.

Down the west passage was another 20′ wide hallway that ran north and south. In it were zombies that slowly moved towards the party, as they approached. Tenneth immediately went to turn them and was a little surprised that only 3 turned around and started moving away, which left 5 more still coming at them, but they were further back, so the party was able to react, so everyone but Tenneth spread out and fired missiles at them. 3 zombies fell, but an arrow hit one of the zombies that was turned and it immediately turned back around and started coming at the party again, but a second volley of missiles killed them. They then attacked the zombies that Tenneth had turned, but the zombies turned around and were about to attack them back, but the party was able to attack them again, before they could, and they all fell dead.

Shinfia: Well that went well. Glad zombies are slow. I don’t like the thought of one of those things touching me. They just look so gross.

Lettia: Yes, but not as gross as those ghasts were, if you remember.

Shinfia: How could I forget (she said, laughing).

But as Shinfia said that, the party heard movement behind them and as they turned around they saw 8 more zombies coming at them and Shinfia was in the back with John and Bill. Luckily there was enough time for everyone to fire missiles again. This time Tenneth just turned 2 zombies, which both surprised, as well as frustrated him. The missile fire killed 2 more, so everyone reached for their melee weapons and attacked. Shinfia’s undead slaying sword cut into the zombie good, but it somehow didn’t fall and it lashed out at her and as its hands came in contact with her flesh, fear and dread fell upon her, as the zombies hands ripped into her flesh. Fortunately for Shin, she felt strength from her sword and cut into the zombie again and it fell. John and Bill both hit the zombie that was on them but they were both hit too and they seemed to cower in fear, as Belfin and Filius attacked and killed one of them, while Jack and Nog killed the other, leaving just one zombie, but Shinfia swung her sword again and it ripped through it and it fell dead.

Shinfia: What just happened? When its flesh came into contact with my flesh, its hand ripped into me and I felt fear come over me and was about to drop to my knees, but this sword somehow prevented me from doing so. I swear it felt like it was giving me strength or something.

Nightwind: That’s good to hear. Lets hope that’s the case.

John and Bill were still shaking, but after Lettia and Tenneth tended to them, they seemed to calm down. While they and Shinfia were damaged, they all felt that the herbs and healing from Tenneth and Lettia were enough for now, so they chose not to drink any healing potions.

Tenneth: Yesterday, I took the time to read some of your book, Filius; YOLO’s guide to everything undead. It said that when some zombies touch you that they can fill you with fear and dread, which can cause a person to drop to their knees, or cower in fear, or turn and run, but in time most people are able to adjust and can keep attacking them. I don’t know why I didn’t share that with all of you yesterday. It makes no sense. I should’ve told you, so here’s what else YOLO said. Skeletons are harder to injure with edged weapons, but they still damage them, so I’d still attack them with that sword, Shin. Ghouls and ghasts can paralyze. Ghasts are just stronger ghouls, and they can paralyze elves, but we already learned that from Luther. There’s an undead creature called a Shadow. It can’t be hit unless you have a magic weapon and you become weaker each time they hit you.

Jack: Ok, that sounds terrifying.

Tenneth: Yeah, you think that’s bad? Then there’s something called a wight and a wraith. Wraiths fly, but both creatures require magic weapons to damage them and when they hit you, they drain part of your lifeforce from you. YOLO says that this lifeforce will only come back to you slowly over time and that it’s basically like achieving a progression, but in reverse. Fun.

Jack: Oh joy. Anymore?

Tenneth: That’s as far as I read. He writes a ton of stuff that I didn’t understand all that much. There’s all kinds of amazing drawings though. Check these out.

Tenneth showed pictures of all the undead he mentioned, along with pictures of mummies, vampires, spectres, liches and more. All of the drawings were quite terrifying to look at.

Tenneth: YOLO also says that some evil clerics have ways to make it harder to turn undead, so I’m guessing that happened here, because according to him I should’ve been able to turn quite a few zombies and that skeletons are the easiest to turn, so that’s good to know.

Lightmane: How many ghasts are you able to turn?

Tenneth: Well, if I understand this right, back when I tried to turn those 2 ghasts in that moathouse, I was able to turn up to 3, I think, but 0 was also a possibility. I think I might be able to turn up to 3 or 4 of them now, but that’s probably not very likely, and if the clerics here have made it harder to turn them… well lets just hope there’s no ghasts in this place, but I’m guessing there are. Sure glad we haven’t seen any clerics yet though, but they might be wondering where the chieftains are soon, so we better get moving.

Tenneth then noticed that every zombie was wearing an amulet: I’m guessing these amulets make it harder to turn them. Lets hope they don’t do anything else.

The party chose not to search the zombies, for fear of disease, and they were afraid to touch the amulets that they wore too, so they went further west, but it was just a long empty hall that ran north and south, so they headed back east and looked south. Here the hallway turned southwest, as well as east. The southwest passage sloped upwards, while the east passage was a huge room, some 40′ wide. In that room they could see several skeletons sitting against the east wall. They wore tattered chainmail and had a shield and rusty scimitars, but none of them were moving, but when Lightmane looked down the southwest passage, he saw that it sloped upwards for over 100′ and ended in a pair of metal double doors that had a large metal bar that ran across it, making it impossible for anyone to open the doors from the other side.

Lightmane: I believe those skeletons are in a non-animated state. Perhaps walking into the room will animate them, or maybe speaking, or touching them. I remember reading something about this in a book in a library, many years ago.

Tenneth: YOLO’s book says basically what you just said, that something animates them, but that sometimes they’re just dead skeletons and nothing more.

Nightwind: Lets go check out that barred set of double doors. Based on the angle of the slope, I believe that this passage either leads outside or very close to the surface, so I’m quite curious to see where it goes. (Nightwind then looked to those in the back) Just watch behind us as we go.

Shinfia: Obviously. I’m sure glad I have this sword while walking behind everyone in this place (she said, smiling).

Belfin: Filius and Shinfia and I will always be checking behind us, so don’t worry.

The party headed up the southwest passage…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Lettia and Teeko were walking through the woods when the puma heard the bell start ringing.

Teeko, sensing his mother trying to communicate with him: What? You want me to jump on you? Ok. Where are we going?

The puma started running. Teeko loved when she ran with him through the woods. He had become quite skilled at riding her.

Lettia, the Puma: As soon as I heard that bell start ringing I started running towards the valley. What do you want me to do?

Sheila: Yes, this is bad. They’re alerted now. Go to that hidden entrance you found and just wait there. They have a renegade bugbear with them, so see if you can communicate with him too, as there are several more bugbears in their lair. If you’re able to communicate with any creatures you see in the valley, see if you can get them to come help.

Shar: You appear distracted a little. Are you talking to someone?

Sheila: Yes. When you create a world, people sometimes contact you for various reasons.

Shar: I see. One more reason I have no interest in creating my own world.

Dark Entity: My mistress, where have you gone? Everyone here is quite confused by your absence. They fear that you’ve abandoned us and many are starting to panic. What shall I tell them?

Shar: Oh for crying out loud.

Sheila: Problem?

Shar: Yes. I’ve never left my realm before, so they’re all freaking out, worried that I’ve abandoned them now.

Sheila: Well once everyone knows that you haven’t abandoned them and will be back, they should be fine.

Shar: Yes, but I’m going to tell them more… just for fun… (Shar spoke out loud, so Sheila and the others would hear her) Ok all of you, listen up. I’ll be back sometime later today or tomorrow, so while I’m gone why don’t you all just do what you want. Have a party. Go crazy. Drugs, alcohol, sex, you name it. Go nuts and I’ll see you all when I get back.

Ehlonna: Is that a typical response from an evil goddess who’s inhabitants are panicking at her absence? Just go crazy and indulge yourselves?

Shar: I don’t know, but now they won’t bother contacting me anymore, so problem solved.

Ehlonna and Sheila just looked at each other and shook their heads, as did everyone else.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Gluguk, calling out in orcish and then in the human tongue: Let me out of here. I am the orc king. I demand that you release me immediately.

Bugbear, speaking in his bugbear language: That didn’t take long. He’s awake. Go get an orc.

2 bugbears went to the orc cave and called out. When orcs saw them, the bugbears pointed to them and motioned for them to come with them, but one of the orcs held out his hand and then turned and went back in his cave.

Orc, speaking orcish: Meesha, 2 bugbears are outside and they want us to come with them. I believe our king has awakened. I’m just glad they aren’t trying to attack us.

Meesha: Get kobold Kirk. He speak bugbear a little. Go.

2 orcs went and got Kirk. Kirk didn’t speak orcish, but he easily figured out why they had come to him, so they went to the bugbear cave with Meesha and the bugbears brought them all to the iron door, where Gluguk was being held.

Meesha: Hello my king. Kirk the kobold is here too.

Gluguk, speaking in the human tongue: Kirk, tell the bugbears to release me.

Kirk: I would, but Jilgrath said you must stay here until they come back.

Gluguk: They’re probably dead now, so that means I’m in charge now over everyone, including all the bugbears, so open this door now.

Kirk: I don’t think the bugbears will agree to your terms of being king, but until we know that they are dead, I have no choice but to do as Jilgrath and the adventurers have commanded. Surely you understand this.

Gluguk: Then let my wife in. I will not stay in this filth alone anymore.

Kirk: I will do that, but just know that there are 4 bugbears here, so please do not attack anyone and try to break out.

Gluguk, angered at hearing bugbears were with him: I’m not stupid, Kirk. I’m not going to take on 4 bugbears. Let her in.

Kirk, speaking in his broken bugbear: She go in. He no fight.

A bugbear opened the iron door and Meesha, the orc queen, went in…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Lettia and Teeko approached the valley and were about to head towards the back area, when they saw 2 gnolls just outside their cave.

Lettia the Puma, communicating with them through the language of the hounds: Can any of the creatures here speak in the human tongue?

Gnoll: Kirk the kobold can.

Lettia the Puma: Get him and get as many as you can and go to the cave in the back. We are going to war, but wait for my signal before entering.

Gnoll: What will be your signal, my queen?

Lettia the Puma: When you hear me roar, attack, but only attack the clerics and the undead. Do not attack the adventurers or the half orc or the bugbear who is with them.

Gnoll: What are clerics?

Lettia the Puma: Nevermind. I’ll let you know later. Just wait for my signal.

Gnoll: Yes my queen.

Lettia and Teeko headed to the hidden entrance… and waited there…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Nightwind: If this leads outside, I wonder why they’ve barred it closed. I guess they don’t want anything wandering in.

Lightmane: That would explain the pair of metal double doors too.

Nightwind: Yes, but why have it at all then? I mean, what’s the point? There’s a cave entrance.

The party reached the double doors. It took Lightmane, Jilgrath, Tenneth and Nightwind to lift the heavy metal bar off the doors. When they opened it, they were outside in the woods, but were shocked at who they saw.

Teeko: Hi guys. Wow! I thought mom just brought me here again for fun. I had no idea you’d be coming too. Are you all done in the valley now? Did you kill all the monsters? Oh wow! You have a bugbear with you. I’ve never seen a bugbear before.

Lightmane: Hello Teeko. Yes, we have a bugbear with us. This is Nog. Nog, this is Lettia the Puma and this is Teeko. We’ll explain some other time, but Teeko, we’re all shocked to see

Teeko: Mom says tell Lettia to cast speak with animals…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Shar: A white puma? That is the biggest white puma I’ve ever seen. Who is she?

Sheila: She is Lettia, the Great White Puma. She and Teeko have lived in those woods for years. She has helped them a couple times before.

Shar looked right into Sheila’s eyes: She’s the one you were communicating with earlier. You’re helping them (she said, smiling).

Sheila: Ok, yes, but just a little. I won’t be getting involved anymore though.

Shar: I see… well I like it.

Sheila: I’m sure you do.

Shar: I couldn’t see how you could be involved and not… get involved. At least a little.

Sheila: Well I have, but now I’m done, but it looks like things are about to get interesting.

Shar: About to get interesting? Sheila, things got interesting from the moment I sat down.

Bael: Well that might just be the understatement of the year.

Shar just smiled…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Raysha: Where are the chieftains? Why haven’t they come yet?

Cleric: We do not know, but none have come. What do you want us to do?

Raysha: Something is wrong. Have an acolyte go downstairs and get Drayzek, Mithril and Martin. Then have everyone assemble in the hall, and if you see any zombies or skeletons walking around, bring them too. (Raysha was quite angry now) Why did I wait so long to call them again?

Cleric: Because everything was going great. With Jarlan’s help and the magic that made adventurers fight with each other, they defeated 3 adventuring parties in the last couple of months and no adventurers have entered our temple for many months now. We won. There was nothing to fear. Perhaps they’re all just sleeping. I will have someone go ring the bell again.

Raysha: Good… and tell them to ring it 10 times this time. If no chief shows up, then we will have no choice but to venture forth into the valley and see what’s going on… Wait, don’t just send 1. You go with 2 acolytes and 2 adepts and have the rest of the clerics come near the cave entrance. If anything attacks you, have an acolyte ring the bell very fast, so I’ll know, and have those near the entrance start casting spells, or start moving up towards you and I’ll come with the others, along with our undead army. In 1 to 2 months from now the Keep should be in dire peril. I’m not going to lose this valley now. Lets hope you’re right and they’re all just sleeping, but I’m having a hard time believing that’s the case.

The priest proceeded to carry out Raysha’s orders…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Lettia: Hi. Ok, what’s going on?

Lettia the Puma: I heard the bell ring. It hasn’t rung in over a month. It means they’re calling the chieftains, and when they don’t show, they’ll know something’s wrong… and you’re in the temple now.

Lettia: We figured that’s what the bell might be for. We weren’t sure, but it kind of made sense, but why are you back here… and how did you know we were in the temple?

Lettia the Puma: I didn’t, but I knew you might be. Teeko and I found this hidden entrance months ago, so when I heard the bell ring, we just came over here to check on things.

Lettia: But you can’t get in from here. It was barred with a huge metal bar that took 4 of us to lift it off. Why not just go by the cave entrance?

Lettia the Puma: I don’t know. I just sensed that we should go here, but I’m also trying to bring help.

Lettia: Help? What help?

Just then the bell started ringing again.

Lettia the Puma: They’re trying to call them again, so they know now that something’s wrong. We must go back inside and attack them before they have too much time to prepare.

Lettia: Wait, you 2 are coming with?

Lettia the Puma: Yes, and hopefully many more.

Lettia: Lettia, what are you talking about?

The bell stopped ringing.

Lettia the Puma: The monsters that are still in the valley. We must go now.

The spell ended.

Lettia: We have to go back in now. They’re coming with and she said she tried to get help, meaning the rest of the monsters in the valley, apparently.

Lightmane: What? How?

Lettia: No clue, but she said the clerics will start planning now and that we must attack them now, so that they can’t. Something like that. Hopefully they still don’t know we’re here, but obviously someone just went outside to ring the bell again.

Lettia the Puma, communicating with Nog: Run to your lair and get everyone to come to the temple. We are going to war. We need everyone. Go.

Nog, starting to run through the woods towards the bugbear cave: She told me to go get help. I’ll meet you all back inside at the cave entrance.

Lightmane: She can communicate with them. Ok then. I guess that’s how.

The party went back inside, closed the doors and put the bar back on and started heading down the passage…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Kirk, walking back to the kobold cave: They’re ringing the bell again? Well that can’t be good.

2 Gnolls came running to Kirk, but assured him they weren’t attacking him: We no attack you. The puma spoke. Bring all to cave. This is war.

Gnolls and kobolds could communicate with each other somewhat, as all hounds can in one sense.

Kirk: War? All? Gluguk too?

The gnoll shrugged his shoulders: I guess so…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Nog went inside the bugbear cave and called out: Everyone come quickly. A great white puma spoke to me and told me to come get everyone. She said we are attacking the temple.

Bugbear: Stop lying, Nog. We will not attack Raysha. That’s suicide.

Nog: Did you not hear me? A Great White Puma spoke to me and told me this. We must obey her.

Bugbear, laughing: I think Nog is drunk.

All the bugbears started laughing, but just then Kirk entered their lair: Nog speak truth. Gnolls just told me puma spoke, said bring all to cave. All. Puma said this war with temple.

Nog: Your bugbear is getting better.

Kirk: Thanks to you. I’ve missed talking with you. Sorry they locked you up.

Nog: It’s ok. The adventurers rescued me, and trusted me. We must help them, as much as we can. Lets try to get the others.

All the bugbears just stood there, shocked at what Kirk had just said…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Zeus: The 4th wall sounds. I’m just wondering if anyone’s heard anything.

Shar heard Zeus, but said nothing. Sheila, who was very carefully monitoring Zeus, also heard him, but had no idea what he meant by ‘the 4th wall’. She glanced over at Shar, who did not respond in any way, so she also said nothing.

Sheila: Oh, just so you know Shar, I don’t know for a fact that you’re no longer working with… my nemesis. I have only your word, which right now isn’t worth anything, so I’ll be keeping an eye on you after you leave here, just so you know, so if you’re just here to gather some information and report back to him at some point, I’ll know.

Shar: Choosing not to say his name, I see. That’s probably a good idea, and I figured you’d do that, and I’m glad, for in time you’ll see that I’m telling you the truth. I have no cards in this game, Sheila. I could care less who wins… or loses. I can’t lie to you in your realm.

Sheila: Saying his name while sitting next to you doesn’t seem like a good idea. Besides, he doesn’t know that I know who he is, so it’s probably better that I never speak his name at all for now. Course, now I’ve just revealed to you that I know who he is, but whatever. If he finds out, I’ll know who told him (she said, smiling).

Shar: Yes you will… which is why he won’t…

Zeus: He won’t? He won’t what? (he said in frustration)

Zeus could hear some of what Shar said, but he knew he couldn’t say anything, but he only heard a few words that Sheila said, so he just kept quiet and kept listening as best he could, which wasn’t very much, since Sheila obviously made it difficult for anyone to listen in…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

As the party came down the east passage, they heard footsteps echoing in the hall to the north. They stopped and looked down the passage and saw clerics who wore brown robes and armor underneath, along with zombies and skeletons. The clerics were talking amongst themselves. Something about having to wait here and wondering what was going on and where were the chieftains. The adventurers quietly backed up several feet. Tenneth cast protection from evil on Lightmane and then bless and then curse, while Lettia cast earth devil and then earth bow, while Jilgrath cast his crystal dagger spell and then monster summoning 2, which summoned 2 lizard men, while Jack also cast monster summoning 2, which summoned 2 hobgoblins.

The adventurers then moved into the northern passage, spread out in the 20′ wide hallway… and attacked…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 41 – A Half-Elf and a Half-Orc… and 3 Deities

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

Ehlonna teleported the party somewhere high up in the mountains of Forestera. They were on a path that wrapped around to their left. Behind them, the path descended down into a small village.

Ehlonna: Well I’m glad we have a village we can go to, if we need to for some reason, but clearly this path is the way we need to go to find those caves.

Just then a mysterious looking woman appeared before them: Greetings adventurers. I am the goddess Shar, ‘Mistress of the Night’.

She was dressed in purple and black. Her arms were crossed and in them she held 2 incredible looking daggers. She had long black hair with shining purple eyes.

Bael and Kirth looked quite intimidated, while the other 3 looked a little surprised to see her.

Sheila: Oh wow. Shar is one of the evil goddesses in my world. Obviously this can’t be her, since no evil god or goddess can appear in my world, so I’m guessing illusion maybe? She really looks like a badass though, doesn’t she.

Ehlonna: Yes she does. I certainly wasn’t expecting this.

Shar: Are you all done talking, cause I’d like to continue, if you don’t mind.

Sheila, shocked at what Shar just said: Wow! Well yes, we’re done talking. Please… continue.

Shar put away her daggers and a black crystal ball appeared in her hands: In exactly 2 hours from now my curse will fall on your world. This is my Crystal of Darkness. It is hidden within the very mountain that is behind me. All you need to do to stop my curse is find the cave entrance and then find my dark crystal and destroy it, but to destroy it you’ll need to acquire 2 items that also lie within this mountain; a Rod of Continual Light and a Crystal of Brightness. If you succeed, you will have saved your world from the curse of eternal darkness, but if you fail, I shall rule over all of Forestera, in darkness.

Shar smiled… and then vanished.

Sheila: Ok, well that was different. I had no clue you included evil deities in your random tables.

Ehlonna: I didn’t. She’s clearly just here to deliver the message, to send us on our little quest (she said, smiling).

Sheila: Got it. Well ok then. Lets go find these items and destroy Shar’s Dark Crystal. Ooh, I like saying that. Shar’s Dark Crystal. That sounds so cool. Shar’s… Dark Crystal… oooh.

Bael, speaking to Kirth: So the first time we go adventuring with deities and our first encounter… is a deity. What are the odds (he said, laughing).

Kirth: Not only that, but she was gorgeous and I’m a necromancer and still I was terrified.

Ehlonna, laughing now: Nothing like a sexy looking evil goddess of darkness to start your day, huh boys?

Bael: So Sheila, why do you allow evil gods? Oh wait, let me guess. You don’t have any say in it. They have their domains, just like all the good gods have theirs.

Sheila: Correct. See, you’re starting to figure it out. The realm of all the evil gods is the same location as my realm actually, but it’s in a different phase, basically. That’s the easiest way I can explain it.

Bael: I see. Well that kind of sounds freaky. So evil gods are in the same space that we’re in, just not in the same… phase?

Sheila: Yep. Basically, that’s it.

Bael: Well on another topic, I’m glad I brought some of my scrolls. Hopefully I can cast some.

Sheila: Oh I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities soon enough (she said, smiling).

The party followed the path, but it soon came to a fork in the road, so they stayed on the path that stayed closest to the mountain that they were trying to enter, but then the road came to another fork and then another one and finally the road came to an end.

Moradin: Ok, there’s nothing here.

Sheila: Are you sure?

Moradin, looking at Sheila oddly: I’m a dwarven god. Yes, I’m sure.

Sheila: Right. Sorry. Well obviously one of the other paths leads back around and into this mountain, so lets just take one.

The party took the first path they came to and as they came around a bend they were attacked by 4 Fire Giants. Each of the deities engaged one in melee, while Kirth engaged one and Bael stayed back and cast magic missile. Moradin’s battle axe cut into the Fire Giant good. Ehlonna hit it with her Mace, but barely damaged it. Sheila’s short sword cut into the one that was attacking Ehlonna, but the damage wasn’t much, while Kirth’s giant-slaying sword ripped into the Fire Giant, wounding it badly. Bael’s magic missile spell went off and 5 missiles hit the one that was attacking Sheila.

Sheila: Thanks, but hit one that’s badly wounded. The sooner we kill one, the better.

Bael: Oh right. What was I thinking.

The Fire Giant hit Ehlonna with its giant sword, but the other 3 missed, while Moradin swung his battle axe again and now the Fire Giant on him was badly wounded, while Sheila’s short sword damaged the Fire Giant on Ehlonna again, wounding it pretty good, while Kirth’s giant-slaying sword cut into the Fire Giant again, wounding it badly. Moradin and Kirth both killed the Fire Giant on them and Sheila and Ehlonna killed the one on Ehlonna, so Bael chose not to cast another spell and just watched as the 3 deities and Kirth easily killed the last Fire Giant.

Ehlonna used her staff of curing to heal herself, while everyone else searched the dead bodies.

Ehlonna: I was going to say lets not bother searching bodies, since we’re not really here for treasure, but since everything is being generated randomly, it’s possible that one of them will have one of those items that we need.

They searched the Fire Giants, but none had any items. They all had some coins of each type though; copper, silver, gold and even platinum, so Bael took them.

Sheila: Seriously? You’re taking their coins?

Bael: Habit. It’s the adventurer in me. I can’t help it (he said, smiling).

Sheila just rolled her eyes, but smiled as they continued down the path, which wound around for a bit and then a cave entrance came into their view, but standing outside the entrance was the goddess, Shar. She appeared to be guarding the entrance.

Shar: I am the goddess Shar, ‘Mistress of the Night’. If you wish to enter this cave, you’ll have to get by me first.

Sheila: Ok, what’s going on? Your randomness generator is putting a deity in our path? She can’t possibly be Shar, since no evil deity can appear bodily in my world, so it’s either an illusion or she’s just appearing before us in a vision.

Ehlonna: Maybe she’s her avatar or something.

Moradin: An avatar of Shar would still be terrifying. I’m guessing this is a High Priestess of Shar and she’s just lying, as the randomness is trying to make this difficult. That’s my best guess anyway. That, or she’s just a vision or an illusion, like you said.

Sheila: So we should just attack her, or ignore her?

Ehlonna called out to Shar: If you are the goddess Shar, then show us proof. Summon before us a Red Dragon. She can’t possibly do that, unless she really is a goddess.

Shar: I do not have to prove anything to you. Fight me at your own peril.

Sheila: So… not a deity. Lets see what you got then.

Ehlonna: Don’t attack yet. I’m casting a spell.

Ehlonna cast a quick level 6 spell called ‘Command Monster’ and told Shar to sleep, but nothing happened. Shar just stood there looking at her, smiling.

Ehlonna: Ok then. Flame Strike.

Sheila: I have that on a scroll. I’ll cast it as well.

Sheila and Ehlonna started casting their spell, while Moradin hurled one of his throwing axes at Shar, while Bael and Kirth waited to see what would happen, before taking any action. Shar seemed to easily avoid Moradin’s axe and she then cast a spell of her own and summoned a dark entity, that reminded Bael of the dark entity that had killed him. Both Flame Strike spells went off and burned Shar badly. She cried out in pain and then started casting another spell, while the dark entity moved towards the party. Moradin and Kirth stepped in front of everyone and met the entity in battle while Sheila cast ice storm and Ehlonna cast blade barrier. Moradin’s battle axe cut into the entity, as did Kirth’s sword, but the entity hit Moradin with its claws and the dwarf felt some of his lifeforce come out of him, which also weakened him somewhat. Shar’s spell went off and another dark entity appeared and started moving towards them. Seeing a second dark entity struck fear in Bael, but he knew that he had to face it, so he started casting lightning bolt. Sheila’s ice storm hit Shar, while Ehlonna’s blade barrier surrounded Shar with a wall of whirling blades, trapping her inside. She could move through it, but the damage would be great. Moradin and Kirth both hit the entity again and it fell, but then disappeared, while Bael’s lightning bolt went off, striking the entity, damaging it greatly, but the lightning continued on and hit Shar, through the blade barrier and they all saw her fall through the blades and then she just seemed to disappear. The dark entity, now badly wounded by the lightning bolt, continued to move to attack Bael, but Sheila and Ehlonna cut off its path. It attacked Sheila and its claws ripped into her and she too felt some of her lifeforce come out of her and felt weaker, but they both struck it with their weapons and it fell, and then disappeared.

Sheila: Wow! What in the world was that thing and what was this Shar impersonator?

Ehlonna: I’m guessing she was either an illusion which was able to hurt us, or some kind of weak version of Shar, just as we all are weaker versions of ourselves. Maybe my random generator put creatures that were similar to us in its random list. I believe those dark entities were real, but faded with the spell when we killed them.

Moradin: I agree with your assessment. Losing some of your lifeforce though is quite a disturbing thing to experience.

Sheila: Tell me about it. I guess we just have to go on in our weakened state. Glad it only affected us a little.

Bael: Those dark entities looked very similar to the one that killed me and the High Priest I was adventuring with, when Suez, I mean Zeus, appeared before him and said all that he said.

Sheila: Well now I’m going to have to do some research and see if I can determine what that creature is, since I’m assuming you two have never seen it before either, yes?

They hadn’t, though Moradin figured it was some type of demon, to which Ehlonna agreed.

Moradin: There are more demons than we know. I’m sure that’s what it was. If you figure it out, let us know.

Sheila: Of course.

Ehlonna healed the wounded, but the slightly weakened state of Sheila and Moradin remained, so the party entered the cave, knowing that the drain on them would end, once they teleported back to their domains. The cave was a large area, around 30’x30′ in a roughly circular shape with a natural passage that was around 15′ wide and ran for about 100′, before opening up into a large cavern, similar in size to the cave entrance. As the party entered the cavern, something in the shape of a door rose up out of the ground, right in the middle of the cavern. It was blue and it seemed to glow and then it turned red. A few seconds later and it turned yellow and then blue again. This pattern kept repeating over and over.

Sheila: How interesting. What do you all think this is?

Just then a human male appeared next to the portal. He stood around 6′ tall and was somewhat older. He also looked a little out of phase.

Human: Hello. Welcome to the portal of randomness.

Sheila: Well hello there. What’s your name?

Human: I am the dungeon master, but you may refer to me as the dm, if you wish.

Sheila: Dungeon master. My, what an interesting name that is.

Dungeon Master: That is not my name, but rather what I am.

Bael: He seems to only speak when spoken to.

Dungeon Master: That is correct, Bael.

Bael: You know my name?

Dungeon Master: I know all your names. Sheila, Ehlonna, Moradin and Kirth. You are the adventuring party that is seeking the rod of Continual Light and the Crystal of Brightness, in order to destroy Shar’s Crystal of Darkness, to prevent her curse from going off and plunging all of Forestera into darkness.

Sheila: Impressive. You’ve been taking notes (she said, sarcastically).

Dungeon Master: No. I just know who you are and why you are here.

Moradin: So why are you here?

Dungeon Master: To answer any questions you may have.

Ehlonna: I see, so the random generator that I created apparently is providing us with some help.

Dungeon Master: Basically.

Ehlonna: Basically?

Dungeon Master: Yes. That’s basically why I’m here.

Sheila: So we should ask you questions then?

Dungeon Master: You just did, and yes, you may ask me questions if you wish.

Sheila: Ok. What’s the colored door thingy?

Dungeon Master: I just told you. It’s the portal of randomness.

Sheila: Ooh. So what’s it for? How do we use it? Where are the items that we are looking for? Lets see, what else can I ask it.

Dungeon Master: I prefer 1 question at a time. The portal is for sending people to a random room. You use it by stepping through it. The items that you are looking for are in rooms that can only be accessed through this portal.

Ehlonna: It shows 3 colors. So 3 different rooms?

Dungeon Master: No. There are 8 different rooms that the portal can send someone to.

Moradin: Why 3 colors then?

Dungeon Master: 1 color sends you to a room with 1 of the items that you are looking for. Another color sends you to a room with Shar’s Crystal of Darkness and the last room sends you to a random encounter.

Sheila: Oh my goodness. So many questions. What a bizarre thing your random generator created, but it’s giving me some ideas with something that I’ve been working on for a while now, but lets talk about that later. Dungeon Master. Ooh, I really like calling him Dungeon Master. Dungeon Master, which color sends us to the items we seek?

Dungeon Master: Each color selects randomly where you go.

Ehlonna: Oh great. What kind of magic can we use to control the randomness, so that we go to where we want to?

Dungeon Master: I know of no way to do that.

Ehlonna: Of course you don’t.

Sheila: Ok, lets think this through. How many can go through at a time?

Dungeon Master: Just 1 person. Each person who steps through will be sent randomly to a room.

Sheila: Oh joy. How do I get back from the room?

Dungeon Master: Once the portal reappears, you just step back through.

Sheila: Ok, well that’s something. I was worried it was going to just keep sending us all to random rooms each time.

Dungeon Master: It does, but only on this end. Coming back always bring you back here.

Ehlonna: Is this teleportation?

Dungeon Master: Similar.

Ehlonna, looking a little frustrated: Are you always so vague?

Dungeon Master: I try to answer each question as accurately as I can.

Bael: So 8 rooms and 3 of them are the items that we want, so apparently we have to just keep going through until we get all 3 items. Is that right?

Dungeon Master: Basically, yes, but not entirely.

Bael: Ok, what am I missing?

Dungeon Master: You need to find the 2 items to destroy Shar’s Crystal of Darkness, before you find her Crystal.

Bael: Oh this doesn’t sound good, but I’ll bite. Why is that? What happens if I find the Crystal first?

Dungeon Master: If you find Shar’s Crystal of Darkness and you don’t have in your possession the Rod of Continual Light and the Crystal of Brightness, then you’ll die.

Sheila: Oh how lovely.

Ehlonna: Well, we wanted a challenge.

Sheila: Yeah, but this is crazy. Only 1 of us can go through at a time and we have to find 2 out of 8 rooms, before we find the Crystal, and the person has to have both items, before finding the Crystal, so unless I’m missing something, that means the odds are that 1 or more of us will die before achieving our objective. Am I right, Dungeon Master?

Dungeon Master: That appears to be accurate.

Sheila: What a response. Well does anyone wanna risk it? I guess one of us 3 can try, since if we die, we just go back to our realm and can then teleport right back here.

Kirth: Oh wow, you’re right. That sounds good. Glad Bael and I don’t have to go walking through the portal now (he said, smiling).

Sheila: Why don’t we each take a turn and see how far we get.

Ehlonna: Ok guys. Let me try it first and lets see what happens. Dungeon Master, or DM, or whatever you call yourself. Is there anything else I should know before stepping through this portal?

Dungeon Master: Yes. The other 5 rooms are randomly generated encounters that will either involve 1 creature or 1 item. The portal will not reappear until you deal with the creature or item.

Moradin: How much time do we have left before Shar’s curse goes off?

Dungeon Master: 33 minutes and 33 seconds.

Ehlonna: I guess we’ve been walking around outside longer than we realized. Ok. Hope to see you all in just a minute.

Before anyone could say anything, Ehlonna stepped through and a few minutes later she just appeared in the room.

Sheila: I’m guessing you died?

Ehlonna: Yep. I saw the Dark Crystal and I died. Woke up in my realm and teleported back here. How long was I gone?

Dungeon Master: 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

Sheila: Well, at least we’ve got a timer (she said, smiling).

Moradin: My turn.

Moradin stepped through and a moment later he came through the portal with the Crystal of Brightness. He stepped through again and came through a couple minutes later.

Moradin: Ok, just killed an Ogre.

Moradin stepped through again and a few minutes later he just appeared in the room.

Sheila: Great. I take it you died?

Moradin: Yep. This is nuts. How much time is left?

Dungeon Master: 24 minutes and 24 seconds.

Moradin: Is the Crystal of Brightness back where I found it?

Dungeon Master: Yes.

Sheila: Ok, gotta go. Bye.

Sheila stepped through. She found the Rod of Continual Light, so she took it and came back.

Sheila: Look, a Rod of Continual Light (she said, smiling). Gotta go, bye.

Sheila stepped through again, fought and killed a hill giant. The portal appeared and she stepped back through.

Sheila: Killed a Hill Giant. No time to talk.

She stepped through and found the Crystal of Brightness.

Sheila: Yes. Now we’re talking.

She stepped back through the portal with a big smile on her face.

Sheila: Ok, 1 more guys. Here we go.

Ehlonna: How much time left?

Dungeon Master: 17 minutes and 2 seconds.

Sheila stepped through the portal again, fought and killed a minotaur. The portal appeared and she stepped back through.

Dungeon Master: 13 minutes and 29 seconds.

Sheila stepped through the portal again, fought and killed a giant spider. The portal appeared and she stepped back through.

Dungeon Master: 9 minutes and 44 seconds.

Sheila stepped through, saw a scroll, but no portal appeared, so she read the scroll. It read as follows: They went through the village, killing everyone. They showed no mercy. All were slain. All, in her service.

Sheila: Ok, that was disturbing.

The portal appeared and she stepped back through.

Sheila: It was a scroll and I read it. Ok, there’s just 2 rooms left, right?

Dungeon Master: Yes.

Sheila: Time?

Dungeon Master: 6 minutes and 14 seconds.

Sheila: Why do I feel like I’m at some strange festival and this is a race or something?

Dungeon Master: Because

Sheila: Nevermind!

Sheila stepped through the portal again, but it wasn’t Shar’s Crystal of Darkness. Sheila was beside herself now. Sitting on a chair was an old man. He was a human and looked to be very old. There was another chair next to him.

Sheila: Hello.

Old Man: Hello.

Sheila: Ok, so where’s the portal so I can leave?

Old Man: I don’t know.

Sheila: Ok, how do I get it to appear?

Old Man: Sit here and answer my 3 questions.

Sheila, totally annoyed, but quickly sitting down: Ok. Ask.

Old Man: What… is your name and title?

Sheila: What in the world is going on right now? My name is Sheila, goddess of Forestera.

Old Man: What… is your Quest?

Sheila: You’ve got to be kidding me. My quest is to destroy the crystal thingy… of darkness.

The old man held out his hands to Sheila. She just looked at him oddly, but then took them into hers.

Old Man: Why… did you create… Forestera?

Sheila, looking extremely annoyed now: Because I wanted to.

She then looked around for the portal… but none appeared.

Sheila: Look, I need to get going here. I answered your question, so what’s the problem?

Old Man: Your answer wasn’t the full reason.

Sheila: What? Why is this happening? How did Ehlonna’s random generator generate this? What’s the point? What’s going on?

Old Man: I don’t know, but I know that everything happens for a reason (he said, smiling).

Sheila: Who are you?

Old Man: I’m an old man who’s here to ask you 3 questions, and when you answer them correctly, then you may leave.

Sheila: I answered them.

Old Man: The last one wasn’t the full reason.

Sheila: So what? It was part of the reason.

Old Man: Until you answer fully correctly, you’re stuck here.

Sheila: Fine. I created Forestera because I wanted to be the creator of my own world.

Old Man: You’ve answered my question part way now. Finish answering it… completely.

Sheila, trying to calm down now, spoke again: I created Forestera because I wanted power, because I wanted to rule and have no one rule over me. I wanted to be completely free to live how I wanted and do whatever I felt like doing. I created it so that I’d never have to answer to anyone else, ever again. I’m in charge. This is my world. I’m the creator. No one else, and I’ll be damned if anyone is going to take it from, or share it with me. There. Satisfied?

The portal appeared and Sheila started to get up.

Old Man: Time is up though. You’re too late. The curse has gone off.

Sheila stepped through the portal, but she saw only darkness.

Sheila: Hello? Is anyone here?

When no one responded, she cast teleport and teleported herself back to her realm. Now with her powers fully back, she contacted everyone.

Sheila: Where’s everybody at?

Ehlonna: Oh there you are. We were worried when you didn’t show. Everyone is with me. When everything went dark, I teleported everyone to my realm, since there was no point in staying any longer. What a strange quest that was.

Bael: Hi. Glad you’re ok, but I’m a half-dog again and already feeling quite depressed, just so you know.

Sheila: I’m sorry Bael. This did not go how we wanted it to, but next time it’ll be a lot better. I promise.

Corellan Larethian: Sheila, what in the world is going on? All of Forestera is in darkness.

Sheila: WHAT?! That’s not possible. How do you know this?

Corellan Larethian: Because some of my High Priests are letting me know.

Ehlonna: Sheila, I’ve just been informed that your entire world is in darkness. How is that possible?

Sheila: It’s not.

Sheila immediately called up where the party was and saw the Keep in darkness, and immediately teleported herself to Shar’s realm…

Shar: Well hello Sheila. Don’t worry, the lights are back on in Forestera. I was wondering when you were going to show up.

Sheila: What do you think you’re doing, and how in the world were you able to do that?

Sheila was furious, but Shar seemed to be enjoying the moment.

Shar: Girl, when you leave a window open, the thief enters and steals. I wasn’t going to not take advantage of the opportunity that you gave me.

Sheila: Girl? I’d be careful with the way you’re addressing me right now… girl, and what are you talking about? I gave you no such opportunity. All the necessary precautions were taken. You have no direct access into my world, so how did you do it?

Shar: Well if I have to explain it to you, fine. Ehlonna’s, what did you call it? Random generator? It created a version of me. A limited one of course, but I have to say, now that I was able to look at myself in that way… I sure do look good, don’t I.

Sheila: Shar, so help me

Shar: Are you all done talking, cause I’d like to continue, if you don’t mind.

Sheila, remembering what the vision of Shar said to them in the mountains: So that really was you?

Shar: No. Of course not. As you said, I cannot enter your realm, but since her magic created a version of me, I was able to speak through it. That was fun. The rest was all the spell. I only spoke that one time. It was my test, to see if you… as I said… left a window open.

Sheila: So the curse was real?

Shar: Of course not, but for a moment, I was able to make it work and plunge all of Forestera into darkness. The magic that Ehlonna used would’ve only made it dark where you were. It was my magic that did the rest.

Sheila: How dare you enter my realm unin

Shar: Oh please. The window was open, so I had some fun. There was no way I wasn’t going to take advantage of that. You would’ve done the same thing, and you know it. Besides, no damage was done and now you have a phenomenal historical moment in your world. This day will be spoken of for thousands of years. The day that all of Forestera went completely dark. For 3 minutes, I was the ruler of your world and fear and panic set in on all the hearts of all the people throughout the land. They’re probably already writing the tale as we speak (she said, smiling).

Sheila: Fine. No damage done and yes, I would’ve done the same. I see how you couldn’t resist such an opportunity. So tell me Shar… you were the goddess of my world for 3 minutes. How did that feel?

Shar, smiling now: It felt amazing. For 3 minutes all in my realm were singing and dancing in the darkness. It was glorious, so thank you for leaving a window open for me. I greatly enjoyed every minute of it.

Sheila: I’m sure you did, but I didn’t intend for this to happen. It was an oversight.

Shar: The goddess of Forestera left a window open accidentally? I don’t think so. Maybe you just don’t wanna admit it, or maybe you did it unconsciously, but clearly you allowed this to happen. As I’ve always said, everyone needs a little darkness in their life at times. That’s why I’m here. To bring that darkness to you.

Sheila walked right up to Shar and stared into her shining purple eyes: Then why don’t you turn from evil and use your darkness in more fun and interesting… and productive ways? Why all the evil? Your High Priests and Priestesses, the few that you have that is, torture and sacrifice people. It’s sick and vile. Why be that way? You’re beautiful. Most evil gods aren’t beautiful. Talona, for example.

Shar: I know. Disgusting, isn’t she.

Sheila: Yes, she is. Together, you and I could accomplish a lot of good, so why do you do it, when you could be so much more?

Shar stood up and came within inches of Sheila, who wasn’t scared in any way: Because I revel in it. I ‘am’ the darkness. I serve all that lives in the darkness and the darkness worships me. That’s why.

Sheila: But you could be so much more. Talona, I get. She’s hideous and vile. You though, are anything but. I have to get going now though. They’re about to enter her temple, and I’m not going to miss watching all that happens.

Shar: So am I. Well I can’t really watch, like you can, unfortunately. I’m actually rooting for them.

Sheila: Really. How come?

Shar: Like you said, Talona is a hideous creature. Do you know that she actually believes that she’s sexy looking? I swear… vomit is more sexy looking.

Sheila started to laugh, but immediately stopped herself: I’ll be going now. Nice chatting with you. If you ever decide to turn from your hideous and disgusting ways, you know where to find me.

Shar: Really? You’re leaving another window open for me?

Sheila: Just a crack. Just enough so that you can say hi, if you decide that you’d like to try being good for a change. If that ever happens, call me.

Sheila started to leave, when Shar spoke again: Have you figured out how to build your army the way Zeus is building his?

Sheila: Not that that’s any of your business, but yes, I have.

Shar: Really? Completely, or just in part?

Sheila: I’m going now.

Shar: Talona and I were the ones who helped Zeus acquire all of his evil minions.

Sheila: What? You’re the one responsible for this?

Shar: Well how do you think he got evil creatures to go to his realm when they died. Besides, we didn’t break any rules. Zeus found a loophole. He just needed to find a couple evil deities to help him out a little bit, which we were more than happy to do, though I’ll never work with that gross disgusting creature ever again. Zeus though… mmm… he’s quite sexy looking. I tried my best to lure him, but he wasn’t having any of it. I knew he wouldn’t succumb to me… but it was fun to try (she said, smiling).

Sheila: Your darkness doesn’t suit you. You’d make a wonderful good deity of darkness. If only you were interested.

Shar: Good deity of darkness?

Sheila: Yes. Light and darkness can both be used for good or evil. They both serve a purpose. It’s like everything else in life. It’s not so much what you have… but how you use it. You should try using darkness for good sometime. You’d be amazed at what you could accomplish. See ya.

Shar: I can show you how to do what Zeus is doing. You’re doing it partly, but it’s not good enough. His army is much larger than yours. You just don’t have it in you to do evil, so you only went halfway. With my help, you can stop him from taking over.

Sheila: He’s not taking over anything.

Shar: So you’ll negotiate.

Sheila: I’ll do what I have to do.

Shar: You might find a way to stop him, but with my help, it’ll be a lot easier. If you want to beat Zeus at his own game, you have to come play in the darkness with him. Zeus got his hands dirty and now he’s planning on ruling your world, against your will. I’m offering you my help. I’d take if, if I were you.

Sheila: And start destroying people, for my benefit?

Shar: Well if you know of another way, I’m all ears.

Sheila: Take care Shar. Call me when you turn from your darkness.

Shar: Call me when you need my darkness.

Sheila teleported back to her lair, and double checked, just to make sure all was well in her world above, which it was.

Bael: Oh, there you are. I was trying to contact you, but you weren’t responding. I was starting to worry. Is everything ok?

Sheila: Yes… everything is fine now. The lights are back on. Forestera is no longer in darkness.

Bael: How did she do that?

Sheila: I’ll tell ya later. They’re making their way back to the valley… Did you make some popcorn?

Bael: Of course. Ehlonna and Moradin are here, along with Kirth. I assume that’s ok.

Sheila: Of course… the more gods the merrier, right? Wait, Kirth is here too?

Bael: Yes. I asked him if he’d like to sit with us.

Sheila, surprised now: Really. How come?

Bael: Well, because I’ve come to realize that Kirth is a really nice guy and I’d like to get to know him better.

Sheila: Well… a silver lining. I hope this is the beginning of a great friendship.

Bael, smiling too now: Me too.

Sheila thought about all that had just transpired. All of the stress and anxiety tried to overwhelm her, but then she just let it all go.

Sheila: Lets get this party started, shall we?

Bael, though depressed now… smiled…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 40 – The tale of Belfin, the Halfling Rogue

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

Belfin: Halfling Rogue with short reddish-black hair and dark reddish-brown eyes
Height: 3’5″ / Weight: 80 / Age: 44

Place of Birth: The village of Barrowdin, approximately 90 miles southeast of the village of Doran.

1st Progression. ‘Title’: ‘Footpad’

Hit Points: 6
Strength: 13 (12%)
Dexterity: 16 (23%)
Constitution: 14 (11%)
Intelligence: 13 (17%)
Wisdom: 11 (14%)
Charisma: 11 (07%)

(When these percentage points reach 100, the ability score goes up 1 point)

Belfin currently:
Progression Achieved. ‘Title’: 4th ‘Trap Finder’
Hit Points: 17
Strength: 13 (41%)
Dexterity: 16 (84%)
Constitution: 14 (42%)
Intelligence: 13 (51%)
Wisdom: 11 (39%)
Charisma: 11 (34%)


Weapon: +1 Dagger

Belfin’s Re-naming of the 9 Rogue Progressions:
1st: Footpad
2nd: Wall Climber
3rd: Locksmith
4th: Trap Finder
5th: Trap Setter
6th: Silent Walker
7th: Shadow Blender
8th: Rogue
9th: Master Rogue

Belfin: So it’s called ‘Forestera’s Fate Festival’. Sounds like fun. Odd that I’ve never heard of it until now though.

Filius and Belfin were talking while they travelled, and everyone else was listening, for the most part, as the party made their way down the west road, towards the Keep.

Filius: Well it’s not quite as popular in the southern part of Forestera.

Belfin: Oh. Do you have problems with thieves there?

Filius: Sometimes, but I’m told it’s a lot better now.

Belfin: Thieves were a problem in our village, but when there was a festival it was a huge problem. Thieves love festivals, for obvious reasons. I knew there was a thieves guild somewhere in my village, but I could never find it. I think it’s because of all the thieves though that I ended up becoming a rogue. I couldn’t stand how people would steal from others and how they considered it their job, their livelihood. So since us halflings tended to have natural skills as rogues, I decided to make ‘that’ my livelihood, so I studied with a halfling, even though I suspected that he was a thief, but I never found out for sure. Maybe he was doing what I was doing; joining them to try to make a difference.

Filius: That’s why you became a rogue?

Belfin: Basically. That and I really wanted to become better skilled at hiding and moving silently, along with picking locks and finding, setting and removing traps. It’s just so much fun to learn it all, but thieves learned it all too, so people started calling me a thief, even though I had never stolen from anyone. That just infuriated me.

Filius: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Belfin: No. I think after I was born, my parents decided that they didn’t want anymore kids. I guess I was quite a handful (he said, laughing).

Filius: So what was your life like growing up? What did you do?

Belfin: It was great. My parents had a farm and life was wonderful, except for all the thieves in our village.

Filius: All the thieves? How many thieves were there and how many people live in Barrowdin?

Belfin: Barrowdin has maybe 200-300 people, and of those I’d guess at least half a dozen were thieves, if not more.

Filius: That’s crazy. How did they keep getting away with it?

Belfin: I don’t know exactly, but they often robbed from visitors; traveling caravans, or adventurers who were passing through, along with rich merchants, so it eventually became a problem and caravans started taking precautions, which only made things more expensive, which gave the thieves more expensive items to steal. It was just one vicious cycle that never seemed to end. Then one day, I met a cute halfling girl and I thought we would eventually marry. I stopped practicing being a rogue and just hung out with her all the time, when I wasn’t working on our farm. Then one day we decided to just run away together, so I left my parents a note telling them what we were doing, and we just left.

Filius: Just like that?

Belfin: Yep. For about 6 months we travelled with caravans and slept in a tent. It was crazy, but the more we spent time with each other, the more I started not feeling right about us. Oddly, she ended up feeling the same way. We liked each other, but we felt more like friends than lovers, so that was that.

Filius: Wow! So what did you do then? Go back to your parents?

Belfin: Nope. We just kept traveling with the caravan and continued to hang out.

Filius: What? Why?

Belfin: Why not. We were having fun and we didn’t care about a thing, but after a few months of that, she met another halfling and just like that, she left and I was alone.

Filius: She just left you like that?

Belfin: Well, we were basically just friends now, so yeah, she just left.

Filius: She sounds kind of nuts.

Belfin, laughing now: Maybe she was. Then again, maybe I was too. I mean, we just up and left our family and friends and travelled.

Filius: So let me guess what happened next. You travelled back to your parents and went back to working on their farm and started practicing your rogue skills again, right?

Belfin: Wow! You literally got everything wrong (he said, laughing).

Filius, now also laughing: Ok, so what did you do?

Belfin: The next town the caravan came to was Doran. You know the rest.

Filius: Wait, so when I first met you in Doran, you said you were traveling with a caravan. You said nothing about a girlfriend or any of this. I figured this happened years ago. How come you never told any of us about all of this?

Belfin: Well, I guess I was kind of a little embarrassed about all of it. Besides, I had just met you all and didn’t feel like telling everyone about my crazy life that I had been living.

Lettia: Wow, Belfin. That’s quite a crazy story. Thanks for sharing all that. I feel like I know you better now, in some odd strange way.

Belfin, smiling now: Glad you enjoyed it, Lettia.

Lettia: So Filius, Forestera’s Fate Festival is held on the last day of the year?

Filius: Yes.

Lettia: And anyone can celebrate it, and even start one up, if there’s none where they live?

Filius: Yep, as long as a gnome is involved in setting it up, since it’s a gnome festival, but anyone can come, as well as help.

Lettia: How about we start one in Doran?

Belfin: Oh that’s a great idea, Lettia. Lets do that. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a female gnome there (he said, smiling). Heck, I keep believing that any day now I’m going to finally meet my soulmate. I cannot wait for that day to happen.

Lettia: Really? I had no idea that you were hoping to meet your soulmate.

Belfin: Well I thought I had, but then one day I kind of realized she wasn’t the one. I’m not sure how I knew, but clearly she felt the same way too. Here’s hoping I meet my soulmate soon.

Shinfia: So when you do, will you be leaving us, or will she be joining us?

Belfin: Well I never want to leave any of you, so here’s hoping she’s an adventurer too (he said, smiling).

Filius started thinking about Genevieve, and immediately stopped himself, to keep back the pain.

Filius: Forestera’s Fate Festival in Doran. I’d like that.

Belfin: Are you ok? You look upset.

Filius: No, I’m fine. It’s… it’s nothing. Just some stuff from the past. That’s all.

Belfin: Ok, well I’m sorry if something I said upset you.

The party came to the winding rocky road that ran north to the Keep and started to walk up it.

Bartho: Well this is where we part ways. Thank you again for rescuing me.

Lightmane: You’re not coming with us? Isn’t it a little dangerous for you to go adventuring alone? Besides, you have no armor; just a flail and a large shield. Why not come with us to the Keep, buy some armor and travel with the next caravan?

Bartho: I’ll be fine. I have some friends who are not all that far from here, in a small village that’s just off the road a couple miles down. Take care.

He turned and started to walk down the west road. The party just watched Bartho head out, not really sure what to say.

Shinfia: Ok, well that was weird. He clearly wanted to get away from all of us. I wonder why. Guess we’ll never find out though.

The party went to the Keep and paid everyone’s entrance fee and told Jaren all that had happened, but when they mentioned Bartho, Jaren looked shocked.

Nightwind: Uh-oh! What’s wrong?

Jaren: You all rescued a very tall and very strong looking man named Bartho?

Nightwind: Yes. Clearly there’s a problem, so what is it?

Jaren: Well guys, believe it or not, Bartho is the leader of a notorious bandit gang. I never mentioned him to you because I didn’t think he was around here anymore. No one had heard from him, or the bandit gang, for months. We all suspected that he either had moved on, or maybe was killed. I guess prisoner wasn’t an option that we considered.

Everyone couldn’t believe what Jaren had just told them…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 39 – The Bugbears

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

Gluguk walked behind Tenneth and Jilgrath walked behind Lettia, as the party approached the bugbear cave. The cave entrance was wider than the others, at 15′ and the ceiling height was around 12′. Right at the entrance of the cave was a sign that was written in 3 different languages. One of them was orc and one was goblin.

Jilgrath: I think this one is in kobold. The orc sign says ‘Safety & security for all humanoids who enter. Welcome. Come in and report to the first guard on the left for a hot meal and bed assignment’.

Lightmane: A hot meal and bed assignment. Is this bugbear sarcasm?

Nightwind, smiling now: Apparently. I kind of like it. Especially the part about a hot meal. I bet that’s quite tempting for an orc, goblin or kobold. This one is in goblin and it says the same thing. Maybe we can ask Kurt later if this one is in kobold.

Gluguk: Why would Raysha allow this? They could’ve captured some of us and taken prisoners, or even killed some. I do not understand.

Jilgrath: I doubt any of the clerics have seen this sign. Have you ever seen any clerics outside?

Gluguk: No, but I rarely come out here either.

Lightmane: Wait, bugbears speak kobold, goblin and orc?

With Lightmane’s question, everyone now wasn’t sure what to make of the odd signs, so they continued in and came to a t-intersection. The right passage went 20′ and came to another t-intersection, while the left passage went 30′ and both turned right and continued into a larger opening.

Lightmane: So the sign says guards are to the left. So… left or right?

Nightwind: I think we should go kill the guards.

Lightmane looked back at everyone else, but no one objected, so they went left. The passage to the right went up some stairs, but the opening to the left opened into a 30’x30′ room. Inside were 3 bugbears who heard the party approaching, so they got up and moved to attack them as they entered the room.

Seeing the bugbears, Lightmane and Nightwind immediately ran into the room, so that others could move up and enter as well, and hopefully surround the bugbears, instead of everyone else getting stuck in the corridor behind them. The room opened up to their left, so Gluguk ran in and engaged a bugbear with Jilgrath right behind him, while Tenneth stayed back and cast protection from evil on Lightmane. Tenneth decided to go with less healing spells, since the party still had plenty of potions now, and he was hoping that protection from evil on Lightmane would help keep the elf alive against these huge monsters. Lettia fired her bow over Nightwind’s head and hit the bugbear that was now in melee with the dwarf. Jack assumed that his sleep spell would take out 1 bugbear, so he cast it, targeting the one on Lightmane. Everyone else that was behind them checked up the stairs, as well as behind them, but saw nothing down either passage.

All 3 bugbears swung their heavy flails, but Nightwind, Lightmane and Gluguk all successfully blocked their attack. Nightwind’s hammer hit the bugbear in its side, damaging it pretty good. Jack’s sleep spell caused the one on Lightmane to collapse, so the elf attacked the one on Nightwind and his sword cut into it pretty good, wounding it badly. Gluguk’s sword cut into the bugbear on him and Jilgrath’s sword also found its victims flesh, causing both bugbears to cry out in pain. Tenneth’s protection from evil spell went off. Lettia didn’t want to fire arrows anymore, not wanting to risk hitting anyone, so she pulled her sword and moved to help Jilgrath. Shinfia also moved up with her staff in hand now, while the henchmen set the wheelbarrow down and readied their sword and shield. Belfin and Filius continued to watch for any other bugbears.

The 2 bugbears, seeing that they were in serious trouble, turned and ran towards the southwestern section of the room, and that’s when the party saw that there was a large gong in the corner.

Lightmane: Kill them before they strike that gong.

The dwarf and elf ran after the bugbear and swung their weapons and luckily managed to slay it, just before it got to the gong. Jilgrath and Gluguk ran at the other bugbear and swung their swords. Both cut into the the bugbear, killing it, but just before it died, its flail smashed into the gong, and just like that, panic and desperation set in.

Lettia: Oh no. What are we going to do now? We have to get out of here.

But as Lettia said that, they could all hear the cries of creatures from further down the east passage. Everyone started to panic.

Lettia: Lets run. We can get to the cave entrance before they get here.

Lightmane: And do what? Run away?

Lettia: Yes.

Lightmane: Run where?

Lettia: I don’t know, but we’ve got to get out of here.

Belfin, watching up the stairs north: Nothing’s coming down the stairs yet.

Filius, running into the room with everybody else: I heard creatures coming up the stairs. There’s no time. We have no choice but to fight them here.

Lettia: We can’t possibly survive. The entire place is going to be on us.

Tenneth started casting curse, while everyone was trying to figure out where they should stand for combat, when all of a sudden Jack remembered a scroll that they had found a while back.

Jack: Everyone stand back by the gong and stay behind me, but be ready to fight or cast magic. I’m going to try something, but wait for my spell to go off before taking any action.

Jack cast his read magic spell and then pulled out a scroll from his large belt pouch. They could now hear creatures coming down the eastern passage. Jack then stood in front of everyone and started casting the spell that was on the scroll.

Shinfia, sounding quite scared: What spell are you casting?

Lightmane: He can’t talk while he’s casting the spell, so we just have to trust him and be ready to attack.

Tenneth’s curse spell went off and then he moved behind Jack with the others, but Gluguk was still in front of Jack.

Gluguk: I will not cower in the corner like a coward. I will stand in front of you and protect you from the bugbears. Cast your spell, wizard.

Jilgrath, along with everyone else, had no idea what spell Jack was casting, but he knew he had to get Gluguk behind him, and he had to do it fast.

Jilgrath, grabbing Gluguk and pulling him back: No one is cowering in fear, Gluguk. Jack said to get behind him. Therefore we are all getting behind him. You can stand just behind him, close to his side, and be ready to run up to protect him, but we must all wait for Jack’s spell to go off first.

Gluguk looked angered, clearly angry with Jilgrath grabbing him like that, but chose to stand behind Jack, rather than fight with Jilgrath.

Lettia, in her desperation, cried out silently to Shyla, begging her to intervene and save them, while also trying as hard as she could to contact Lettia the Great White Puma with her mind: Shyla, please save us. I’m begging you. Please. Help us. Lettia, we are in trouble again. Please come save us. We are desperate.

Jack chose to center the target of the spell just outside of the room, which was still in his line of sight, right where the passage ran north up the stairs as well as east. He could only hope that the spell would go off when some of the bugbears were in the area that the spell would effect. The party heard what sounded like 10, or maybe 20 bugbears coming towards them, or maybe it was just 5. There was no way to know for sure, so all they could do was watch Jack and hope.

Maybe it was pure luck, or maybe Jack made amazing calculations, in determining when the bugbears would arrive, based on how close they sounded, along with how long the spell would take to cast, but he was casting it off a scroll and he had never cast this spell before, and wasn’t even sure if he could, since it was a higher level spell that he was not able to learn yet, but he knew it was possible to cast it directly from the scroll, and he knew that he had to just go for it, even though he knew that casting it would destroy the scroll. Amazingly, somehow, someway, the spell went off just as bugbears came running into the room.

A large fireball burst forth from the center point of the spell. The blast of the fire came within 5′ of Jack, but then a narrow stream of fire shot forth from the fireball and hit Jack, causing him to cry out in pain. The fire also burned Gluguk, but just barely, as a bugbear came through the fire, barely alive, and tried to attack Jack, but Gluguk immediately moved in front of him and struck the bugbear, killing it.

Jack fell to his knees and tried to fight through the pain, as he reached into his belt pouch and tried to grab his potion of healing, but he felt like he was going to pass out at any moment. Nightwind dropped his hammer, grabbed his waterskin and poured the water onto Jack’s body. Jack was barely conscious, but the water helped, so others poured their waterskins on him as well. On the floor laid 5 dead bugbears, completely burned by the fireball explosion, plus the 3 that they killed in this room. The party heard no sounds of monsters coming towards them, so Lettia bound Jack’s wounds while Tenneth helped him drink his potion of healing, which instantly healed most of his wounds.

Gluguk then heard something and moved to the eastern passage, as did Jilgrath. Just as they got there, a giant bugbear, who stood 7 and a half feet tall, came down the stairs and attacked Gluguk. The bugbear was badly burned, but he somehow managed to swing his flail and it smashed into Gluguk, knocking him down. Jilgrath attacked back, but the giant bugbear blocked his attack. Nightwind and Lightmane came running up and attacked it too, but the bugbear was somehow able to block both of their attacks. Gluguk got back up and now all 4 of them surrounded him. He was horribly wounded from the fire, but it became quite clear to everyone that this was the bugbear chieftain. He swung his flail again and this time it smashed into Nightwind, knocking him down, but then Gluguk’s sword cut into its flesh and it fell dead.

Gluguk, standing over the bugbear: I have slain the bugbear chieftain.

The party took no issue with Gluguk taking credit. He did cause the killing blow, so they let him have his moment of glory. They bound their wounds and then Gluguk walked over to Jack.

Gluguk: I had no idea you were so powerful. Had I known, I would’ve moved behind you right away.

Jack: Well thanks to Jilgrath, you didn’t get hit by the fireball spell.

Gluguk: Yes. You are right. Thank you, Jilgrath.

Jilgrath: You’re welcome, my friend.

Lightmane: I had completely forgotten that we found that scroll. Glad you remembered. That was incredible, Jack. No clue how you timed it so perfectly, let alone succeeded at casting it under such pressure. Not sure I would’ve succeeded at it, under these circumstances.

Jack: Wow! That’s one high compliment, coming from an elven wizard. Thank you Lightmane. I don’t know what else to say, except that I got lucky, I guess.

Lightmane: No, you didn’t get lucky. That was amazing skill. Well… except for that minor backlash of magic. Other than that though…

Lightmane just smiled and Jack smiled back.

Jack, slowly standing up now: When I saw the fire shoot out at me, I thought I was dead for sure. The spell seemed to indicate that I could hesitate a little with when to have it go off, so that’s what I was trying to do. Maybe that’s why part of the fire shot out at me.

Shinfia: Jack, that was incredible. You just saved all of us.

Shinfia went over to him and hugged him and kissed him, and then so did Lettia. Everyone was quite shocked and obviously quite happy too, but there was no time for celebration. They assumed that the fireball didn’t kill every bugbear, so the wounded drank healing potions and they searched the room and the dead bugbears bodies before checking both passages. In the room was a smoking brazier that was up against the west wall. It had skewers of meat roasting over coals, which were now quite burnt from the fireball. There was a table along the south wall that wasn’t hit by the fireball. On it was a barrel and 3 crude mugs, along with some bread, cheese and a dried herb, which was catnip. 

Tenneth: Catnip? So do bugbears have cats as pets, or do they just like catnip?

Lettia: I’m going to guess that they like catnip, but if anyone sees any cats hanging out, let me know (she said, sarcastically).

All of the food & drink seemed to be of good quality, fit for human consumption. On the stairs laid a dead female bugbear and down the eastern passage were 4 more dead males. Somehow Jack had not only timed the spell perfectly, but had also placed the point of impact perfectly so that it shot up the stairs too. Everyone couldn’t get over what had just happened. The 12 males had a total of 95 copper and 57 silver coins. The female had 10 copper and 9 silver, but the chieftain had 30 gold coins, a key, and 3 small green gems in his pouch and a very nice looking hand axe, so once again they split up all the coins and Jack took the gems and Nightwind took the hand axe. Their plan was to either sell the gems to Marcus, or to a jeweler, if they found one at the Keep. The armor on the bugbear chieftain, like the gnoll chieftain, was huge and contained pieces of scalemail, where the Gnolls armor had pieces of platemail, but they were far too big for anyone to wear, and since they weren’t plate armor, like Gragnok’s was, or banded or chain or similar, they didn’t bother with it, assuming it wasn’t very valuable, which it wasn’t.

They also knew that Gluguk didn’t fully understand the difference in value with copper coins verses silver or gold, so they gave him a lot of copper and some silver for his share of the gold coins, which he happily traded.

Jack: 30 gold coins, wow. I can’t wait to see what other treasures he has.

Lightmane: Gluguk, we all want you to know that these gold coins are worth more than the silver and copper coins, but they’re only worth more for us, since we use these coins to buy things. That’s why we are giving you more copper and silver coins for your share of the gold coins.

Gluguk: I understand, but I would like 2 gold coins though, so how about we trade back.

The party figured that Gluguk saw the gold coins as a status thing, but then Jilgrath walked over to him and handed him 2 gold coins and gave the party the other one, as everyone but the henchmen got 3 gold coins each. The party was quite surprised that he did that.

Jilgrath: I also do not need coins, so you keep them. Besides, I’m greatly in your debt.

When Gluguk heard Jilgrath say that, he looked quite surprised, but said nothing. The party decided to go up the stairs, hoping to find treasure in the chieftains room. At the top of the stairs the passage continued north, but also turned left and 10′ further north it turned right. Both passages went 10′ and ended at a door. The door down the west passage was open, but the door down the east passage was locked. The key that was on the bugbear chief opened it. Inside was a 20’x20′ storage room, containing 8 crates, a stack of 20 leather hides, 11 barrels and 1 small keg. There was also a small shield that sat upside down on a table. It was being used as a tray to hold a heap of dried herbs, but when Tenneth and Lettia inspected them they turned out to be catnip too.

Tenneth: More catnip. Yeah, I guess bugbears like catnip.

Lettia decided to take some, just to see if they might be useful in some manner. She put a bunch of the catnip in one of her large belt pouches.

The 8 crates had dried and salted foodstuffs. The barrels had ale and wine and the keg had oil. All appeared to be of good quality, but the wheelbarrow was destroyed in the fireball, so Jack marked on his map all that was here, to be picked up when they got another wheelbarrow, and they went down the western passage to the open door.

The room beyond was quite large, 20’x30′. The furnishings were battered and crude. There was a shelf on the south wall that contained only clothing and junk. A table in the northeast corner had mugs and a small opened cask of ale that was half full. There was a bed in the southwest corner with heaps of cloth & hides on it. At first they found no treasure, but as they searched the room, Filius found 6 pieces of silk that was mixed up in the bedding, which looked to be valuable, and Lightmane saw a gray chest stuck up on a ledge near the ceiling in the northwest corner. The gray made it hard to see as it blended in with the walls. Belfin and Filius checked the gray chest for traps and found none. The chest was unlocked. Inside were almost 1500 copper coins, 2 potions and a most interesting item; a 30lb statue of a dragon that was made of alabaster and ivory. They divvied out all the copper coins, while Jack took the potions and Nightwind was able to put the statue in a small sack and carry it.

They then went back down the stairs and headed down the eastern passage to the t-intersection. The passage to the north sloped up and the passage to the south went down some stairs. Nightwind chose to go down the stairs. At the bottom was a large room, 20’x30′, with passages going both east and west, that both ended at a door. There were bedrolls in the southeast corner, with 2 benches and a long table in the middle of the room. By the bench was a water pail with sacks of foodstuffs scattered here and there. On the table was a barrel of ale that was half full, along with 6 crude looking mugs. 2 sets of keys were on the south wall, opposite the stairs. Laying on the ground down both corridors were sacks and small crates and barrels. Each passage had 5 sacks containing bread and cheese, 4 crates, containing salted meat and vegetables and 3 barrels. 1 had water, 1 had wine, and oddly enough, 1 contained honey mead. All of the stuff though had been opened and used, so they knew they couldn’t sell any of it, but they tried some of the food and drink and it was quite good, but the wine was somewhat vinegary, so Belfin and Nightwind immediately re-filled their wineskin with some honey mead, as did several others. They all took a little food with them too, to eat later with their rations.

They then went to the door down the west passage. The door was made of iron and was secured by a bar, chain and heavy padlock. The keys on the wall opened the door. Inside were 9 prisoners who were all quite shocked to see a party of adventurers, let alone a party with a huge orc and a half-orc. The prisoners were a kobold, 2 orcs, 1 goblin, 2 humans, 2 elves and 1 dwarf. No one was able to communicate with the kobold, but the orcs and goblin said they were from the caves and had been captured by the bugbears, when they came to get a hot meal. The elves and humans were traveling to the Keep with a caravan, hoping to join an adventuring party, when they were attacked and taken prisoner, 2-3 weeks ago. The dwarf was traveling east with a caravan that had just left the Keep. He too has been here for weeks. They all thought for sure that they were going to die, but luckily the bugbears fed them fairly well and kept them alive. They weren’t sure why, but they guessed that the bugbears were hoping for a ransom maybe. That’s all they could come up with.

Lightmane: Well we’re glad that we were able to rescue you all. I’m sure you’re all shocked to see us with a half-orc, let alone an orc. This is Gluguk. He’s the orc king. He’s helping us, in exchange for sparing his life and the lives of his fellow orcs. This is Jilgrath. He’s working with the orcs (Lightmane hesitated, not wanting to say anymore about that) and now he’s helping us. They have both proven themselves to be trustworthy; especially Jilgrath here. We all consider him our friend now. It’s only because of Jilgrath that Gluguk agreed to help us fight the bugbears. We don’t know if we’ve killed them all, but we killed a bunch of them and are now just searching the place. There’s plenty of food and drink here and we have some healers who can mend your wounds somewhat.

Elf: Do you have any weapons or armor that we can use?

Lightmane: We have a few and the bugbears had flails and large shields, but we haven’t seen any armor in here yet.

The party gave them a few weapons that they could spare and then tied the goblin and kobolds legs, allowing them to walk, but to keep them from running away. They explained to the goblin that once they were outside that he’d be free to go. The goblin seemed somewhat surprised that they didn’t just kill him. The kobold just looked scared, as well as confused. The 2 orcs were completely subservient to Gluguk and Jilgrath, so they weren’t worried about them running off. While the prisoners all ate and had their wounds tended to, the rest of the party checked out the other door, which was also made of iron and secured like the other one. Inside, the party was shocked to see a bugbear prisoner, along with 3 hobgoblins, 2 gnolls, and 1 very tall human, who stood 6’5″ tall. Nightwind was able to communicate with the hobgoblins, as hobgoblin and goblin was basically the same language, but no one could communicate with the gnolls, but they appeared grateful for being rescued and seemed like they wanted to help the party. The hobgoblins swore loyalty and begged the party to not tie them up and let them prove their loyalty through service and then the goblin said the same.

Nightwind, speaking to all the monsters: Ok all of you monsters, listen up. Unless any of my friends here object, I’m going to untie all of you and trust you, but if any of you betray us in any way, we will kill you. We have already killed over a dozen bugbears, so killing you all will be quite easy, so do as we say and show us that we can trust you, and everything will be fine.

Nightwind then turned to everyone: How does that sound to all of you?

The party kind of liked what he said, so they untied them all, to which all the monsters seemed quite grateful, let alone scared to death that this party had killed all the bugbears.

At this point the large man spoke up: Thank you for rescuing us. My name is Bartho. I am a powerful warrior who was out adventuring alone when I was attacked and taken prisoners by a group of bugbears at night.

Nightwind: You were adventuring alone? Are you insane?

Bartho: Foolish, I know, but what happened was I somehow fell under a curse, which caused me to go out adventuring by myself. I’m just glad they took me prisoner instead of killing me. I owe you all my life. I offer you my services. I just need a sword and some armor, but believe it or not, this bugbear here speaks our language. He’s quite intelligent, but I’ll let him tell you his story.

Bugbear: You’ve killed a dozen or so bugbears? That’s incredible. Thank you for rescuing us. My name is Nog. I am a renegade bugbear, so our chief had me locked up, until I came to my senses, as he was certain that I had lost my mind, but I have not. I now seek other bugbears who will listen to me and turn from their evil ways. I seek for all of us to learn how to get along with each other. I offer you my loyalty and service. I hope you will allow me to travel with you and prove to you that I can be trusted. I’m glad to see that you are traveling with an orc, as well as a half-orc. Perhaps there’s hope for us all, but right now we would be very grateful for some food and drink. Did you kill any females and children, or just the males?

Nightwind: 1 female is dead. She was on the stairs with your chieftain, who we also killed.

At this, Nog looked shocked, but actually appeared to be pleased, which shocked Nightwind, let alone everyone else.

Nog: I do not know how you could have possibly killed Narlath. That was his name. He was the most powerful bugbear I ever saw and probably the most powerful monster in this valley, but I’ve heard there are others in the valley who are even more powerful than him.

Nightwind: Yes there were, but we killed them too. There was a Minotaur and an Owlbear, but now they’re both dead.

Nog, looking even more shocked now: Then you all are clearly very powerful adventurers. I hope you will let me serve you and give me the opportunity to earn your trust over time.

Gluguk, speaking to Nog: I am the Orc King. If we allow you to live, will you serve under me?

Nog, hesitating at Gluguk’s words: If that is required of me to live, then I will, but I prefer to be free to go and do as I please, once I have earned your trust, of course.

Gluguk: In time, I am willing to discuss this with you further.

Jilgrath: Gluguk, right now we are helping this party of adventurers to destroy all the monsters here that threaten to attack the roads. All of these monsters will now be given the opportunity to prove that they are no threat to travelers on the roads. Once that has been determined, then we can all sit down and communicate with each other, as to what we all should do here in this great valley of caves.

Gluguk: This is acceptable to me. You may travel with us, Nog, and we shall see if you can be trusted.

Lightmane, knowing that he really needed to speak up now: Gluguk, thank you for all of that, but we all must discuss this as a group. You are the orc king, but you are not our king. We all greatly appreciate though that you have chosen to help us defeat these bugbears, but we now must determine what we will do with everyone here. Once we are finished here, then you and Jilgrath and maybe others, can all discuss what you all want to do with everyone. Does that sound good?

Gluguk, not perfectly following the elf: Yes. That is all acceptable. Talk with the others and let me know when you are all ready to go.

Lightmane, trying not to sound annoyed: Thank you, Gluguk. So Nog, you say that you are no longer evil? So would I be correct then in saying that you’re now a good bugbear?

Nog: Yes. I didn’t fully follow all that you said, but I think I understood what you meant. I am no longer evil. I want to do good and help others. You said you killed only 1 female, so I’m guessing the others are up the northern slope. There is only 1 room left that you haven’t been to, unless you didn’t go to Narlath’s lair.

Lightmane: No, we’ve been there. Take us to this room then. Perhaps you can try to speak to any bugbears who might be there. Oh, how did you bugbears make that sign at the entrance that’s in 3 languages?

Nog: I speak orc. Narlath spoke kobold and someone else spoke goblin. That’s how.

Lightmane: Oh. Well that explains it.

Nog led the party up the northern slope, which angled off to the right and ended at a door. Behind Nog walked Lightmane and Nightwind, Gluguk and Jilgrath, and then Tenneth and Lettia. Behind them walked a kobold, 2 orcs, 1 goblin, 3 hobgoblins and 2 gnolls, followed by the other rescued prisoners; 2 humans, 2 elves, 1 dwarf and Bartho, with Jack, Belfin, Filius, the 2 henchmen and Shinfia bringing up the rear.

Lettia: Remember when Lightmane described the scene when it was us with 14 goblins and how we all laughed at how crazy that was. Well look at us now (she said, laughing quietly, to which others started quietly laughing as well).

Nog: I was going to tell them that I’m with all of you and that you killed everyone, but that none of them will be harmed, as long as they don’t attack anyone, which I’m sure they won’t.

Lightmane: That sounds fine. Go ahead.

Nog called out to them and told them what had happened and what was going on. He then opened the door. Inside was another large room, 20’x30′. Inside were 8 female bugbears with 6 young bugbears of various sizes, from around 3′ to 5′ tall. They all had swords, but put them away after hearing Nog. The room contained the usual crude furnishings and stuff, with nothing of any value, but the females had some some copper and a few silver coins, which they gave to the party.

Lightmane: Ok Nog, we’re all in agreement here. They all can stay here, in exchange for agreeing to never attack anyone on the road, ever again. There’s only 1 cave in this valley that we haven’t explored yet and apparently there’s a temple inside it. Do you know anything about that?

Nog: I do not, but everyone here is grateful that you are sparing their lives and they know that if it wasn’t for me, they might all be dead now.

Lightmane: Will you come with us into the last cave, to help us destroy whatever is there?

Nog: If what is there is evil, then yes; I will fight by your side, to help you destroy it.

Gluguk: I will not. I will be in my cave. If you succeed, come to me and then we will talk. If you fail, well… then you’ll be dead, so it won’t matter (he said, smiling).

Jilgrath: If we can find a goblin or hobgoblin, along with a gnoll, that speaks the human tongue, we just might be able to make this work.

Lettia: Make what work? Communication with everyone?

Jilgrath: That and more. I desire to get all these creatures to learn how to get along with each other, and now that Nog is here and wants to do the same thing, this just might work.

Lettia: I think we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves here. We still have a temple to deal with.

Jilgrath: Agreed. We can discuss this after I have helped you finish what you started.

The party made their way out of the bugbear cave, and while they wanted to just go right to the last cave, they felt that they should first take the treasure they had back to the Keep and sell it and then buy another wheelbarrow, as well as bring the rescued prisoners to the Keep, but as they exited the cave, they saw 5 bugbears approaching. With them was a human who looked to be unconscious.

They looked like they were moving to attack, but Nog called out to them: Do not attack, my brothers. These have killed Narlath and all of your brothers, who attacked them, but they have spared me and all of our females and children. Surrender and they will let you live. Fight and you will die. The choice is yours.

Nog, speaking to the party: I told them you killed all the males and Narlath, and to surrender.

Bugbear, speaking to Nog: We surrender. Tell them we surrender, but why are you alive, Nog?

Nog: Because when they saw that I was a prisoner and they heard what I said, they trusted me. Now all you have to do is stop attacking people on the road and they’ll leave you alone.

Bugbear: We have no choice and you know that. We must attack people on the road. In exchange for that, we get to live here. You know this, so why don’t you tell them that?

Nog: I have, basically. They know why we attack the road, but now we won’t, in exchange for our lives. Now they have changed the rules and I am helping them, but now I see that I must stay here with you 5, for you cannot be trusted, but I cannot do this by myself. I should’ve known that they hadn’t killed all of you.

Nog told the party everything that was said.

Lettia: Tenneth and I need to tend to that man. Tell them to lay him down gently and back away.

This the bugbears did and Tenneth and Lettia healed him. Fortunately he was still somewhat conscious when they approached him, so after healing him with their herbs and salves and binding his wounds, they helped him drink a potion of healing.

Man: Thank you. My name is Mitch. You’ve saved my life. I was traveling with a small caravan to the Keep, when they attacked us. I tried to distract them, while everyone else fled. I thought I was quick enough to avoid them, but they caught me. Fortunately everyone else got away.

Lettia: Then you’re a hero, for you saved all of their lives. We will bring you to the Keep, and let everyone know what you did (she said, smiling).

Mitch: Thank you, but I’m just glad no one else was captured or killed.

Nog: I don’t know what to do now. They can’t be trusted, so I can’t leave them alone, but by myself I can’t do anything. They might even kill me, as they all despise me for rebelling.

Lightmane: Nog, translate for me. (Lightmane spoke to the bugbears) We are now going to enter the cave in the back and kill whatever is there. Will you be attacking people on the road again, or will you go in your cave and stay there with your females and children, who’s lives we spared, but we only spared all of their lives because of Nog here. It is because of him that they are all still alive. Therefore, you are in his debt. If anyone attacks anyone on the roads again, we will kill them. The choice is yours. You can live here and be free from those who command that you attack people, or you can keep serving them. If you continue to serve them, then you are our enemy and we will have no choice but to destroy you, just as we destroyed all the other males of your kind, including your chief, Narlath.

Jilgrath, speaking to Gluguk, quietly: I know you want to speak up now and tell them that you are the orc king and that they all must serve you now, but I’m asking you Gluguk to hold your tongue for now. We need these bugbears to submit to the party now. They will serve you later.

Gluguk accepted Jilgrath’s words: Very well. I will say nothing for now.

Bugbear: We will not attack anyone on the road again, unless we are ordered to, but only Narlath gave us orders, so if no one else does, we will only come out to hunt in the woods. No one on the roads will be attacked.

Jilgrath: Lightmane, may I speak to them?

Lightmane: Sure. Go ahead.

Jilgrath, with Nog translating: I am Jilgrath. I am a half-orc barbarian/necromancer. These people are now going to travel to a place that is a short distance from here. Then they will return, either later today or tomorrow. While they are gone, I will be in the orc cave with Gluguk here. He is the orc king. The other monsters here will all be going to their caves and you will leave them all alone. No one is allowed to fight with anyone anymore. Any who do will answer to me… and the orc king. As long as you do not attack anyone here, I and Gluguk will not attack you.

Bugbear: We understand. We will leave everyone alone. Thank you for not killing our females and children.

Jilgrath: You are welcome. Now go. We will speak to you again, when they have all returned.

The party then tried to tell the monsters, as best as they could, to go to their caves, but to not attack anyone on the roads ever again.

Nightwind: There’s kobolds in their cave, but there’s no goblins or hobgoblins or gnolls left, as far as we know, but maybe some fled and maybe they’ll all find each other. I guess we can’t worry about them now. It’s not like they’re in a position to attack anyone on the road right now anyway. Lets just go to the Keep and try to get back here in the morning.

All the monsters went to their caves and the party started heading back to the Keep…

Lettia: I cannot believe that we just left the bugbear cave and none of us were even knocked unconscious, let alone killed. We barely even took any damage. I’m just shocked.

Shinfia: Well, thanks to Jack, but yeah, I’m shocked regardless. How about that cool looking dragon statue. I wonder what it’s worth?

Jack: Well lets just all be grateful that we found a scroll with a fireball spell on it. Imagine being able to cast that every time I went to memorize my spells. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be that powerful. Well, I guess I just did kind of feel what it’s like, didn’t I (he said, laughing), but yeah, I wonder what that dragon statue is worth too.

Belfin: Hopefully a lot, but how about the fact that we now have a bugbear ally. So we have a kobold, an orc, a half-orc and now a bugbear who all want to be friends with us. It’s crazy. Then there’s those goblins. I forget her name. Kish?

Lettia: Yes, Kish. I swear, if they were around now, we could take them to the valley maybe. Then again, maybe they’re better where they are, wherever that is. Oh no, not this again. Why do I care again if they’re alive or not?

Nightwind: This will sound even stranger coming from me, but I hope they’re alive. I can’t believe I just said that, but I hope they are, because Kish actually cared about you. At least it seemed like she did.

Lettia: Well hearing you say it, Nightwind, makes me feel a little bit better about myself. It just feels so weird caring about a goblin and now a half-orc, an orc and now a bugbear? Yeah, this all sounds quite crazy.

Bartho: You all thought I was crazy to go adventuring by myself, but you all are the crazy ones, trying to work with all of these monsters. You’re nuts… all of you.

Lightmane: Perhaps. You might be right. Time will tell though. I think it’s at least worth a try to see if we can get them to all work together. That appears to be what Jilgrath wants to do. If it doesn’t work though, then yeah, we’re all just nuts.

The other rescued prisoners mostly agreed with Bartho, but Nog, Gluguk and Jilgrath made them consider the possibility… that they just might be wrong…

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The Adventurers – Chapter 38 – The tale of Filius, the Gnome Illusionist/Rogue

The Adventurers – Book One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

Filius: Gnome Illusionist/Rogue with light brown hair and deep blue green eyes
Height: 3’6″ / Weight: 90 / Age: 126
Place of Birth: The village of Farin, about 70 miles northeast of the village of Doran

Progression achieved ‘Title’: Illusionist 1st ‘Prestidigitator’ / Rogue 1st ‘Footpad’

Hit Points: 5
Strength: 11 (12%)
Dexterity: 16 (22%)
Constitution: 14 (15%)
Intelligence: 15 (24%)
Wisdom: 13 (13%)
Charisma: 12 (12%)

(When these percentage points reach 100, the ability score goes up 1 point)

Filius currently:
Progression achieved ‘Title’: Illusionist 2nd ‘Minor Trickster’ / Rogue 2nd ‘Wall Climber’
Hit Points: 10
Strength: 11 (27%)
Dexterity: 16 (45%)
Constitution: 14 (28%)
Intelligence: 15 (51%)
Wisdom: 13 (26%)
Charisma: 12 (25%)


Filius grew up in the village of Farin with his father and his 2 mothers, as his father had 2 wives, along with his older brother Gilius, his 2 younger brothers, Dilius and Bilius, an older sister named Jilius and a younger sister named Lilius. They lived on a small farm and they all worked in the village, doing various jobs, working in shops or helping other families with various jobs. There was only 1 other family of gnomes in Farin, along with a couple of dwarves, halflings and elves. The rest were all humans, but everyone got along reasonably well and life was good.

Filius’s favorite day though was the last day of each year, for on that day gnomes held a great festival in many villages throughout Forestera, that lasted from sunrise to sunset. Each year his family would travel to the closest village where the festival was being held and sometimes it was held in Farin. The Festival was called ‘Forestera’s Fate’, for it was a celebration of all that had happened to them that year. On that day, gnomes came from all over and spent the day celebrating life and all that it had to offer. All were welcome to attend, and many who weren’t gnomes went to the festival, but it consisted mostly of gnomes, and all the shops that were set up were also done by gnomes, though others often helped work there. Many gnomes were lovers of stories and suffered from wanderlust, more so than the other races, so once a year they gathered to meet new people, as well as old friends and acquaintances and share stories and talk about life. Short books were brought and read and then they’d all sit around and talk about what they just read, while also sharing all that happened in their life that year. The entire day was spent talking, playing music, dancing, telling stories, reading stories, listening to stories, talking about stories they read, as well as heard and talking about the life that they were living and all that had happened to them that year. Everyone was always sad when night came, but everyone also couldn’t wait to see everyone again, 1 year later.


………………………………………………………………………………………….

All of his brothers and sisters had gotten married and had kids. Gilius had 2 wives and Jilius married a gnome who had another wife, for it wasn’t all that uncommon for a male gnome to have 2 wives and sometimes more. While the other races all found it odd, most accepted it as just a “gnome custom”, but many grew up with no knowledge that some gnomes had multiple wives, and sometimes it became a problem, but for the most part, it wasn’t. On Filius’s 100th birthday, his family made him the focus of their celebration at the festival, which just happened to be in Farin that year. They made him the focus, not because he was still single, but simply because he had turned 100 years old, so that year was a special celebration for Filius, but little did he know that the ‘Forestera’s Fate Festival’ that year would change his life forever.

Genevieve: Hi Filius. Did you hear? A Master Illusionist is here and he’s going to speak soon. Some say he’s going to teach some people how to do magic and become Illusionists for free. They say he never charges anyone because he’s wealthy and no longer needs to make any money and that all he wants to do now is help people. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to meet him.

Filius: Hi Genevieve. My you’re looking pretty today.

Genevieve blushed, but smiled. They both had a crush on each other, but were both somewhat shy when it came to expressing their feelings for each other. They weren’t shy about much else though, for the most part. Gnomes loved to talk, especially when speaking to a group of people, but Genevieve just loved talking in general, but was shy when it came to telling Filius how much she liked him and wanted to marry him. Filius, while he often tried to express interest in her, was somewhat shy in the dating department too, which is partly why he was still single, after so many years.

Genevieve: Thanks. Do you wanna come listen to him? He’s going to be speaking on that stage over there in just a little while.

Filius: Sure, lets go.

They went over to the stage and found a couple seats that were near the front.

Genevieve: I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to become an Illusionist, but it’s really hard to learn. I’m hoping he can help me. How about you? You always said that you wanted to be one too. Maybe he can teach us both?

Filius: Well if you and I could study together with a Master Illusionist, that would be a dream come true.

Genevieve smiled, but blushed again and looked awkward, not knowing what to say, but then spoke: I’d really like that.

Filius, smiling now: Really? I wasn’t really sure. You always seem to get nervous when I try to tell you that I like you. I thought maybe you weren’t interested in anything other than just being good friends.

Genevieve, now looking more nervous and awkward: Oh… well… I… I guess you’re right. I… often get nervous… when… I mean…

Filius: Do you mean that you get nervous when talking about your feelings for me, because you have feelings for me?

Genevieve: I… I guess so… I’m sorry. I mean… yes… I do. I just get really nervous and don’t know what to say.

Filius: You just said it (he said, smiling). You like me. Well, if you hadn’t noticed, I really like you too… and I want to be with you more often, if you know what I mean.

Genevieve: Oh… I’m sorry, I just get really nervous when… I mean…

Filius: When you’re with someone that you really like and want to be with?

Genevieve, still looking awkward and shy: … Yes. I don’t know why I get so nervous.

Filius: I think that’s partly why I like you.

Genevieve: Ok

Genevieve couldn’t believe that’s all she said back to Filius, but he understood and reached over and held her hand. When his hand touched hers, she got very nervous and started to shake a little.

Filius: How about tomorrow, you and I spend the day together.

Genevieve: Ok

The gnome master illusionist walked out onto the stage and quickly many people took their seat.

Illusionist: Greetings to my fellow gnomes and all of you other races out there who desire to become Wizards, or Illusionists, or just Magicians. My name is Nightshade and I am a Master Illusionist, and I have come here today to invite you all to come to my school of magic, to learn how to do magic tricks and to see if any of you possess the ability to learn how to cast actual magical spells. Very few have such a gift, but my school is free, so all are welcome, though I do take donations to help with the costs that are involved, but if you lack money, or even if you don’t, you are most welcome to come learn. Anyone can learn how to do magic, and if you practice a lot, you could become a great magician, but what I’m really hoping to find are those few individuals who have within them the power to cast real magic, but as great as magic is, it can also be very dangerous. Many wizards have lost their minds, and a few became evil, because the power is so great, that some just can’t handle it. Only with my training, will you be able to see if you’re one of those few, and be better guarded against the magic and the power that could consume you. I have devoted my life to teaching magic and training people who have the gift. I will be in your village for one week, and then I head out down the road… to wherever the wind… and fate, take me, but now, let me show you a few fun magic tricks.

Nightshade held some cards in his hands and then shifted them and they just disappeared. The crowd gasped, but then he moved his hands again and they were back. More gasps.

Nightshade: Now you might think that I made those cards actually disappear and then reappear, but I didn’t. It was just a trick that involves slight of hand. Now I’m going to do it very slowly, so you can see how I did it.

The crowd watched as Nightshade showed how he moved the cards behind his hands and then into a little pocket he had in his sleeve and how he’d reach in and pull them out. Then he did it fast again and the cards seemed to just disappear and no one could figure out how he did it, even though he just showed them how he did it, so he showed them again and then did it a little faster and then a little faster and then a little faster.

Genevieve: I want to be able to do that.

Filius: It’s not magic. He’s just really good at slight of hand. I can do it a little, but not nearly as good as he does, but I’m getting better. How about we go study with him.

Genevieve, excited now: Really? You really want to?

Filius: Well… on one condition.

Genevieve, confused now: What?

Filius: That you come with me and we study together, but not just tomorrow or the next day… but for the rest of our lives.

Filius leaned in and kissed her on her cheek. Genevieve got very nervous and wasn’t sure how to react, so she just froze, but Filius was finally starting to figure her out.

Filius: I’m going to take your response… as a yes (he said, smiling).

Genevieve just sat there, looking at Nightshade… but then she smiled too.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

One week later…

Nightshade: I want you both to know that you both have great potential to become great illusionists. You both clearly have the gift; a gift that very few have. I leave tomorrow. Come with me. I am a very wealthy man. You will never lack for anything ever again and with my help you will both, in time, become great wizards.

Filius and Genevieve just looked at each other, not sure what to say.

Filius: May we go speak with our families first and then get back to you?

Nightshade: Of course. I’ll see you later tonight or tomorrow morning sometime. Just don’t make me wait too long, ok? (he said, smiling)

Filius: We won’t. Thank you.

Genevieve: Oh my, Filius, I’ve never been so excited in all my life. We have to go with him. We’re going with him, right?

Filius: Absolutely. I just thought we should let our families know first and give them some time to prepare for us leaving, but this isn’t the most excited I’ve ever been in my life.

Genevieve now looked at Filius curiously.

Filius: The most excited I’ve ever been… was the day I met you.

Genevieve smiled, then leaned in quickly and kissed him.

Genevieve: I can’t believe how quickly we’ve fallen in love. Then again… I fell in love with you the day I saw you. There was something about you when you spoke. I somehow just knew that you were the one for me. I just wasn’t sure if I was the one for you.

Filius: You silly girl. Don’t you know?

Genevieve just looked at him again, curiously.

Filius: I fell in love with you in that same moment. Guess I just didn’t make it obvious. Guess we both were a little cautious… but now there’s no doubt. You are my love and I can’t wait to travel to all the different villages with you and meet new people and see the world. Nightshade said that in a few months, he’s going to travel east into the hills and eventually we’ll go see YOLO’s house that they turned into a museum.

Genevieve: Really? That’s so exciting. I can’t wait to see his home and his books. I kind of want to become a bard too, like YOLO was, but we’ve got hundreds of years to learn. Lets become master illusionists first, then we can become bards.

Filius: So do it in reverse.

Genevieve: Huh?

Filius: The few gnomes who have the gift usually don’t train to become illusionists until later in life. Most become rogues or warriors or bards. It’s only a few who become clerics or druids or illusionists. I also want to become a rogue. The thought of being an illusionist/rogue just excites me.

Genevieve: Me too. I’ve always wanted to learn the skills of the rogue, but now knowing that I can also become an illusionist too? It’s just amazing to think about it.

Filius: I know. I can’t wait, but there’s one more reason why I wanted to go tell our families first.


Filius waited to see the look on her face, to see if she knew where he was going with this, but she appeared to have no clue what Filius was going to say next.

Filius: I want us to get married now, in front of our families, before we head out for our new life together.

Genevieve was beside herself with joy and jumped on Filius, knocking him over. She started kissing him all over and then they started tickling each other and wrestling and kissing.

Genevieve: Filius, you have made me more happy than I’ve ever been, and I don’t mean to upset you or anything, but there’s something that I need to discuss with you before we get married. Something that I believe is very important.

Filius: Ok, what is it?

Genevieve: My parents told me many times the story of how they met and got married. They said how before they got married how they sat with each other and discussed this, so I want to do that now with you.

Filius: That sounds great. Discuss what?

Genevieve: They said that they talked about what they’d want the other person to do if one of them ever died.

Filius looked a little shocked at what Genevieve just said.

Genevieve: They both agreed that if one of them died that they’d want the other to continue on with their life and even marry, if they found someone else, but the one thing that they didn’t want the other to do was to lose their mind and give up on life. They didn’t want their death to ruin the others life, so they swore their own vow before they got married, that when the other died, that they’d mourn obviously, but then they’d keep going, keep living and never quit, no matter what. So right now, Filius, I want you to know that if you were to die at some point, that I will, somehow someway, find the strength to go on, because I know that that’s what you’d want me to do. I know that, because that’s what I’d want you to do.

Filius, hugging Genevieve: I could never handle losing you.

Genevieve: No! If you die, say 400 hundred years from now. What would you want me to do? Would you want me to quit and lose my mind, or kill myself maybe?

Filius: No. Of course not. I’d want you to, oh… I see what you mean. Ok then (Filius looked into Genevieve’s eyes) I promise, that if at some point in our beautiful life together, that you should die before I do, that I will… What did you say? Somehow, someway?

Genevieve, smiling: Yes.

Filius: I promise that I will, somehow someway, find the strength to go on and keep living, no matter what.

Genevieve leaned in and kissed Filius and then hugged him.

Genevieve: I never want to be without you, but if I ever lose you, I promise I’ll keep going.

Filius: You already promised (he said, laughing)

Genevieve: Well now I double promised, so now you have to double promise (she said, laughing).

Filius: Ok, you silly girl. I double promise.

Genevieve and Filius were married that day and the next day they set out with Nightshade to study magic and see the world.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

One month later…

Darendin: Genevieve, you have nothing to be afraid of. I won’t hurt you. I would never hurt you. I love you. I want you. Come be with me now.

Genevieve: Darendin, I thought we were friends. Why are you acting like this now? I’m with Filius. You know that. You and I will never be anything more than friends, so just stop now.

Darendin: Ok Genevieve. I’m sorry for the way I’m behaving, but I’ve fallen in love with you. I’m consumed by you. All I do all day long is think about you, about how wonderful my life would be if you were mine.

Darendin had achieved the 5th progression as an illusionist. He was Nightshade’s best student by far, and often helped the other students by mentoring them 1 on 1.

Genevieve: Well I belong to Filius and he with me. We’re soulmates, Darendin. I like you as a friend. Can you be ok with that?

Darendin: Of course (he said, smiling). I’m glad that you and I have become friends.

Genevieve, smiling now: Great. We’ll see you tomorrow in class. Isn’t Nightshade just an amazing teacher.

Darendin: Yes, he is. He’s taught me a lot (he said, smiling) See you tomorrow, Genevieve.

Genevieve got up to leave the tent were they were studying together. She had studied with him before and there was never any issue. He had become a good friend to both her and Filius, but now something had changed and she was concerned, but she felt that everything was going to be ok now, now that she was able to explain to him how things were going to be. If only she knew he had a crush on her from the beginning, but she never thought that he’d do anything like what he was about to do.

As Genevieve was walking away, Darendin cast Charm Person on her, hoping she wouldn’t realize.

Darendin: Oh Genevieve, wait. Come here and sit down next to me. I need to tell you something.


Genevieve walked over and sat down next to him.

Genevieve: What is it?

Darendin: This is going to sound weird, but just trust me, ok?


Genevieve: Ok.


Darendin: If you want things to become great with you and Filius, you need to start kissing me immediately. It’s really important.

Genevieve: Ok.

She started kissing Darendin. A moment later and Darendin lost control. He started to take off Genevieve’s clothes. At that moment, Genevieve somehow snapped out of the magic that had taken control of her mind. She slapped Darendin hard.

Genevieve, not speaking quietly: What do you think you’re doing?

Darendin, scared and panicking now: Shut up fool. You want others to hear us?

Genevieve got up and started to leave.

Darendin, thinking silently to himself: Well if I can’t have you, then no one can.


He grabbed Genevieve, pulled out his dagger, and before she knew what was happening, he slit her throat. Shocked at what he had just done, his mind fell into a pit.

Darendin laid down next to Genevieve and took hold of her hand with his: Life with you didn’t turn out how I planned. Lets see how death with you will turn out.

Darendin took his dagger… and slit his throat.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sheila: Hello Genevieve. My name is Sheila and I am the goddess of Forestera. I’m so sorry what happened to you. I very much wanted to see you and Filius live a long and beautiful life together, but sadly fate had other plans, but I do have some good news for you.

Genevieve was quite confused, not fully understanding where she was, let alone that she had died, but then 2 gnomes appeared next to Sheila and immediately her state of confusion turned into a state of shock.

Sheila continued: This is your god, Segojan Earthcaller, god of the earth and nature, and this gnome deity is called Baravar Cloakshadow, god of illusions, protection and deception. Darendin is in Baravar’s domain now, so you don’t have to worry about him. Baravar will help him and guide him, and who knows… maybe one day you 2 can talk again. That is, when you want to and you’re both ready. For now though, these 2 want to speak to you.

Segojan Earthcaller: Greetings Genevieve. You have nothing to fear. Your future with Filius has ended for now, but fate is not through with you 2 yet. For now though, you have quite a few relatives in my domain that are anxious to meet you. A few are in other domains, but you will be able to see them and even visit them at times. In time, you will learn how it all works.

Baravar Cloakshadow: Hello Genevieve. I have great interest in your Filius, as does Segojan, obviously, so I wanted to meet you now. Thankfully, Segojan has allowed me to do so, so hello, and welcome to the realm of Forestera below. I look forward to getting to know you better, over time, and luckily… time is something that we all have plenty of.

Sheila: I am also interested in your Filius. In time, I will show you what my plans for him are. Don’t worry though. By plans, I don’t mean to control him in any way, or make him do something. I only guide and help people find their path, and one path that I have for Filius is great… if he desires it. In time, we will see which path he chooses for himself, but I am quite optimistic that he will follow the path that I have for him. I just wish it could’ve included you too. There are so few female gnome adventurers (she said, smiling), but now I want to show you a way in which you can help your soulmate. Don’t worry. I’ll guide you through it and answer all your questions and then you can decide what you want to do.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sheila: Ok Genevieve, he’s dreaming now, so you can talk to him if you’d like. Don’t worry. I’ll help keep him calm, and just so you remember, I don’t know how long it will be before you can speak to him like this again, though I’m sure you’ll be in his dreams for a very long time, regardless.

Genevieve: Hi.

Filius: Oh there you are. I was wondering where you were.

Genevieve: Filius, do you remember the promises that we made to each other?


Filius: Of course. How could I forget? You made me double promise, remember?

Genevieve: Yes, I remember. Well I just wanted to tell you how much I love you and that no matter what happens, we will be together for all eternity. We’re soulmates. That means there is nothing that can separate us forever.

Filius, smiling now: That’s great. I’m so glad that we’ll never be apart.


Genevieve: Filius, I know this is very hard for you, but hear me. We “are” apart now, but just for now. One day, you and I will be together again. I don’t know when that will happen, but that day could be a very long time from now, so while we’re apart you need to keep your promise to me and live your life and find the happiness and joy that life has to offer you, but it’s up to you. All I can promise you is that you and I will be together again one day, but until that day comes, you need to keep living. If you were where I am and I was where you are, you would say the exact same thing to me. I love you and I always will, and I can’t wait until we’re together again. Goodbye, my love.


Filius: Goodbye

Filius opened his eyes, and just started to cry…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

The year is 996. It’s the last day of the year. The gnomes all over Forestera are celebrating ‘Forestera’s Fate Festival’.

Filius, sitting on the grass by himself, looking at a beautiful drawing of him and Genevieve, that was done on the day they were married: Hello my love. I miss you so much. I guess I always will, no matter what happens, but I have some most interesting news that I wanted to share with you. I’m about to go adventuring. It’s been a long time. I still remember when you came to me in my dream, the night I lost you. I can’t believe I’m still alive. I guess I have you to thank for that; at least in part, for I don’t know if I could’ve gone on, had you not come to me that night and spoke to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. So clear in my mind. The pain was indescribable, yet here I am, happy again, so I’m hoping that makes you happy too. I sure hope so. It’s really hard trying to be happy without you in my life, but I had to do it. Not only cause I knew that you wanted me to, but I knew that I needed to, and now I’m about to go adventuring… adventuring with 7 other people who have all become my friends. I wish you could see them. They’re all wonderful, but guess what? I’m the only gnome (he said, laughing). Can you believe it? I haven’t told any of them about you. I’m not sure why. I guess I don’t want them feeling sorry for me, let alone how much pain it might cause them to hear it, but maybe I’ll tell them one day. I want to, because I want everyone to know all about the wonderful girl that I was married to (he said, smiling). I just need to wait until the right time to tell them comes along. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but just the fact that I found this group is a miracle in itself. I sure hope you can hear me. 26 years later and I feel like my life is just now starting up again. All I can say, is I promise I’ll keep going, no matter what happens, but I’m not saying goodbye. So… I’ll see you again… sometime.


Filius kissed the picture of her, then got up and walked back to where he was staying in the village, with an illusionist he met, who had been training him for the past several months. Tomorrow they were going to all meet for dinner at the tavern and talk about where they’d go adventuring first. Filius was really looking forward to tomorrow. For the first time in 26 years, he finally felt alive again.

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