The Only Constant

Kids eat the funniest things
Patryn Kael

We dropped down into the pit in the center of the room into a pile of bones – the remnants of countless stolen lives. It was either a place of sacrifice or, even more likely, feeding. The roar we heard from the tunnel leading out of the pit was evidence of that. We sneaked through the tunnel as quietly as we could, finally emerging into a wide chamber through which a cold wind blew. We could see the faint reflection of sunlight at the far side of the room. We knew without a doubt that an ambush awaited us, but there was no other choice – Kiree likely wouldn’t wait for us forever.

...”I’ll find you again, some day,” she said, clutching her maimed hand and trying not to cry. Tears stain her cheeks, and I know deep down that we should have stopped this from happening…

The ambush was prepared in the cavern, as we expected, but we now faced a new opponent: a white dragon, very young judging from its size and demeanor, as well as another group of kobolds. Some quick diplomacy from Adar kept the dragon from attacking us immediately, but now, like any child, it wanted to be entertained. Only this child would eat us if we didn’t do so.

Perhaps we could have succeeded in gaining the dragon’s trust, were it not for our new dwarf companion’s ill-chosen attempts to demonstrate his athletic prowess. In heavy armor. When the dwarf ricocheted off of the side of the dragon, it decided that we were not amusing enough and attacked, with the kobolds moving in to flank.

...he shouts, “Hold the line!” The baatezu wash over our ranks like a festering tide, and the sound of swords and screams fills the air. On the other side of the chasm, I can see the elves, caged and whimpering, as a pair of pain devils stalk towards them. Our sorcerer teleports over to stop them…

The battle was fierce, but we eventually sent all of our assailants to their graves, and a new draconic figure rose to join the ranks of Adar’s spirits. It is curious how that occurs, since Lord Kelemvor should collect the dead, but there wasn’t time to ponder the question then. We moved out of the cavern to a snow covered, wind-swept ledge overlooking the ground hundreds of feet below. Dain climbed up to get a better view of our surroundings and spotted another dragon approaching, but this one turned out to be Kiree and her blue dragon ally.

...None of us know how a dragon could lose its memory, but its request for our help seems sincere enough. Plus, making friends with any dragon, even a blue one, should have its perks. I wonder, though, what the significance of those solid colored eyes is…

They picked us up on the ledge, with Kiree helping us climb aboard and fasten ourselves to the straps hanging from the dragon’s sides, then we dove down into empty air. Looking back, we saw that the caves we had been lost in were in an enormous chunk of earth, suspended in midair over the mountain range below. We scarcely had time to take that in when Kiree yelled a quick warning to us over the howling of the wind. Bands of blue fire, hovering in midair, lay between us and freedom. Silently, the dragon rolled, plunging into the middle of the bands and dodging them furiously.

We had almost made it through when Adar lost his grip on one of the straps, hanging precariously from the side of the dragon as it made a few final twists away from the fire. Almost, but not quite. Adar’s arm dragged through the flames, igniting with blue radiance, before we could pull him back into position, and the fires did not extinguish themselves. Kiree directed the dragon downward once we had cleared the bands, and we eventually made it down to the ground, Adar writhing in pain the whole way.

...won’t hurt a bit,” she says, and I’m sure she believes it. But she isn’t the one having these thorns pulled out…

Kiree healed Adar as best she could, but she muttered something about a “spellscar” and how he was lucky that he hadn’t turned into some kind of monster. She also explained where we were (north of Luruar, in the Glimmerwood), and directed us to the nearest village. After some reminiscing between Solanjey and Kiree, we set up camp for the night, prepared to set out the next morning for Greenside, although without Kiree, since she claimed she had duties that she needed to return to.

...”I have duties that I need to attend to,” and he stretches his wings towards the sky. I’ve tried to tell him what he’s doing to Jey, but he just can’t seem to understand. Of course, Jey can’t see Castor’s point of view either. I sigh. This is going to be an uphill battle…

And now I sit, on the first night that I’ve seen in apparently a hundred years, wondering what awaits us in this unfamiliar world. Only one thing is certain: if what we went through in the caves is any indication, keeping my friends alive will be even more difficult this time around.

Puffballs and Whirling Blades of Death
by Solanjey, Chaos Sorcerer and Snappy Dresser

So what happened next? Usually, I’m the last person to ask about goings on, since much of what I see is only happening to me, and sometimes it really isn’t. But someone’s got to keep track of these things, and far be it from me to be a grumpy goose.

Mushrooms! A whole room of them. And not the fun kind, either. Too big for a magic stew, and what was more, Adar said that they were definitely poisonous. We had to get past them. At first, we tried climbing along the slimy wall, but that didn’t work very well. I may be a little more athletic than I used to be (for some reason) but I’m still not the best at that sort of thing.

So we slid to the floor. The mushrooms shook, and some of them burst when we tried to move through them. Poison spores! What will those wacky mushrooms think of next? I bet it’ll have something to do with hats.

Then I realized that I could turn into water, so I did it. I oozed through the mushroom fields, Patryn turned into bugs, and Adar and Theork somehow got through the rest without hurting themselves too badly.

Up ahead, there was a crack in the ground. Or maybe I should say a fissure. Even though we were not sure about heading even further down, Theork laughingly assured us that this is where we wanted to go. I wasn’t sure what he was so amused by, but I guess orcs have a lot to laugh about. Or at least he did, before he got shredded. But that part’s coming next.

We ended up in a long hallway with clickey plates in the floor. Theork said he knew which clicks not to click, but before he could get us all the way across, a big glowing hole opened up in the ceiling and a dwarf fell out. “Sorry!” said a voice. Not sure what that was all about.

The dwarf was named Dain, and even though he had just been in a pub, drinking ale with his friend, he was very enthusiastic about the prospect of tromping through a smelly sewer with us, killing little lizard people and getting caught in traps. And everyone says that I’m the one who’s crazy!

No, really, they do. A lot.

We barely had time to talk to Dain before everything got dangerous again. A few dead orcs not only attacked us, but they also set off the clickey traps. Talk about careless. So now we had a whirling column of blades bouncing around the hallway, too. Luckily, we managed to prevail against it all (though Theork didn’t; see above) and we moved on.

The hallway split, and we headed towards the right, only to enter some kind of altar room with a bunch more cranky kobolds. We fought! And when it was all over, we were left with more dead kobolds and another room to explore. It’d be nice if there was a way to the surface through here…

The Rising Tide

The tale begins as few stories do, with its heroes already dead. And not just dead, but long gone, forgotten by the world for nearly a hundred years. Over the last century, everything has changed. The Weave is gone, its death throes triggering the terrible Spellplague whose effects continue to linger even now. Nations have vanished, incinerated by blue flame, ground under by natural disaster or hurled out of the plane by magic. Ancient and alien kingdoms have arisen from the ashes, some to reclaim their lost heritage and others to forge new empires. Through all of this, the heroes have slumbered, the memory of their deeds worn away like sand in a storm.

Not everyone has forgotten them, however, and loyalties of the past rise once more to save them. The group is reawakened, released from their prison by a familiar face: Kiree Amikier. Although she seems rushed, she gives a cursory explanation of their situation—how long they have been gone, some of what has happened to the world and why she is there.

Time or imprisonment has changed the heroes. Adar, previously a cleric of the god Shaundakul, no longer feels His presence, instead finding himself haunted (and aided) by the spirits of those whom he has killed over his life. Death seems to have maintained some of its grip on Patryn, and he returns only half alive, with fragments of his memories and new shapeshifting abilities. Jey, formerly dangerously insane at times, has kept some of his lunacy, but seems almost… at peace. Castor is missing entirely.

Kiree implores the group to hurry, although she does not have the time to explain to explain the reason for her haste. Her suggestion is punctuated by the appearance of a dragon (who turns out to be an ally of Kiree’s), followed by creatures much more horrid. Lacking the power they possessed in their prior lives, Jey, Adar and Patryn follow Kiree’s advice and flee up the tunnel to which she points. Not a moment too soon either, it turns out, as an explosion brings the tunnel crashing down behind them.

They find themselves in an unfamiliar cave, a quick exploration of which yields some equipment from the bodies of another (even deader) adventuring party. The caves, as Kiree mentioned before their departure, are the home to kobolds, and the group has their first encounter with the diminutive folk, leaving a half dozen bodies in their wake. Obviously there are some things that have not changed.

Further into the cave system, they battle their way past another choke point set up by the kobolds. In the process, they rescue an orc by the name of Theork. Surprisingly (and quite the opposite of their previous experiences with orcs), he states that he owes them a debt of honor, and ends up agreeing to help them make their way to the surface.

He steers them away from the main entrance to the kobold warrens, instead taking them down a foul smelling passage to a chamber reeking of garbage and filth. After sliding down to the bottom, they find a field of giant puffball mushrooms. Adar investigates them and determines that they are linked together, sensitive to touch, and very, very toxic. And they thought bypassing the kobold’s main gate would be easy…

The Story So Far...

Coming Soon…


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