Spike's Journal

Being the ramblings of Revan "Spike" Alleyspawn, about his misadventures in what he believes to be the World's Largest Dungeon.

Coldeven 5: About B.B. (Day 3)

I've alluded to this already, but I think that B.B. is getting a raw deal. She's willingly taking point on our explorations. In part, this is because she has a number of advantages that the rest of us don't enjoy. Her people, whom I've heard called the whisper gnomes, are by nature silent, stealthy, and have a caution that borders on paranoia.

However, even among her people, I suspect that B.B. is an exception. Her reflexes are as good as mine, which surprised me a great deal, because I'm faster than anyone I've ever met. I don't know where she learned her trade (or, to be honest, exactly what she would claim her trade to be) but she has exceptional skill with locks and traps. Twice now, I've seen her throw herself clear from lethal traps before I'd even had a chance to register them activating.

But as much as I admire her talent, I have to question her judgement. We've only been in here for two days, and already she's saved our lives by endangering her own at least twice. We all owe her, and thus she's put herself firmly on the wrong side of one of my favorite little rules.

Spike's Exchange Axiom: Pay slowly, collect quickly.
Let's face it. Circumstances change. If you owe someone something, maybe you'll never have to pay. They might die, forget, move out of town, or accept some sort of lesser or alternate payment in exchange for the debt. Waiting as long as reasonably possible to pay someone back is just good policy. Likewise, people who owe you something are subject to the same changing circumstances, so collect what they owe you as quickly as possible, to make sure that you don't lose out on what you're due.

She's going to die, of course. This place is going to kill her. The debt that all of us owe her is one she's not going to get to collect. I'm not feeling particularly inclined to point any of this out to her, of course. Because if she wises up and starts refusing to take the lead, I'm likely to have to do it, and my mother didn't raise a fool.

Coldeven 5: Straight to Hell (Day 3)

I've become convinced that the architects of this place were crazy. To be honest, I'm not sure how a place like this could come to exist. In order for it to exist, it seems like it would need to have someone insane to design it, a huge number of insane people to build it, and someone insane to pay for it. This is because anyone, from the architect to the builders, ought to have been able to see that several aspects of its construction make no sense.

The corridors twist and turn without apparent rationale except to wind around rooms. The rooms themselves are gigantic, typically 30 feet square or more, but most of them have no apparent purpose. A room with no purpose has no reason to exist, especially if it requires the excavation of thousands of pounds of earth and stone to create. There are corridors that are exactly parallel to other corridors, separated by only a wall, with a door between them. There are many concealed doors, but they don't (so far) seem to lead to secret areas, rather they seem to be secret access routes from one public area to another. Interestingly, we found a secret door at the end of 200' corridor. This seems stupid, because even if we hadn't found the door, I'd have been tempted to smash through the wall, for who (other than possibly the creators of this place) builds a 200' hall that goes nowhere?

Throughout, there are few furnishings that don't seem to have been added by later explorers like ourselves. When we find the few exceptions, they seem pregnant with significance, but so far, devoid of meaning.

Today, for instance, we found a censer half-buried in a room. The thing was made entirely of wrought cast iron, and weighed around 200 lbs. No explorer carried it there, it almost has to be part of the original function of this place. But it was in an entirely empty room. We found a room with a 10' round column in it. It didn't seem like it was necessary for support, since several other rooms of equal size have no such support. It had some writing on it once, but it had been thouroughly defaced and rendered illegible. No clues there.

The traps are also bothersome, because they seem permanent and well designed, but protect nothing. I've begun working more closely with B.B. in an attempt to spot them earlier, but she still clearly has the better eye. Didn't stop her from stepping on one today, though. A 100' long section of corridor floor that fell suddenly away above a 40' drop. She managed to throw herself back just in time, catching Asilky's foot as he teetered on the edge.

In short, this is the sort of place that could easily drive a person crazy, and I'd say from something we saw today, that it has happened to some. We found a room where someone had painted pictures (poorly) on the wall in blood, and sealed a secret door by driving 24 spikes into the seams around it. Asilky said he could sense hundreds of tiny creatures on the other side of the door, so we decided not to unseal it, but we did reclaim some of the spikes for future use.

We've spent a lot of time sharing theories, of course. Most of them seem silly when I think of writing them down, but Eaora's bears thinking on. You see, we've killed a lot of creatures during our travels today, among them 2 dark mantles, and 8 giant rats. All of them, according to Eaora, bear the hallmarks of demonic taint. Her theory is that we've found a portal into the hells, and that with every step we progress, we are drawing closer to entering those dark realms.

I have to go help with food and setting up camp while thinking upon this charming prospect. I'll write more about today's experiences after we've eaten.

Coldeven 5: Kobolds and Other Things that Should Not Exist (Day 3, Rest Break)

I forgot to heed Spike's Guide to Threat Assessment today, and have thus gotten myself well and truly caught in the grip of the very rule I was mocking clerics for when I wrote in my journal last night. Perhaps I should add a fifth possibility to yesterday's list, that the gods are capricious and cruel.

It seems clear that our being trapped here is beginning to fray everyone's nerves. Lo-Kag and I have had some words because of the decision to stop early yesterday. His point is that this place is dangerous, and we need to be fresh and at our best for each new challenge. My point is that if we run out of food before we find our way out, other dangers won't matter. B.B. glares at us everytime we raise our voices, too, which makes it really hard to have a decent argument about the subject. We clearly need a leader in this pit, and both Lo-Kag and I seem to be nominating ourselves.

So we're exploring. Climbing through rubble-choked rooms (there appears to have been an earthquake), and peeking our heads in each door as cautiously as possible. Eventually, we found some kobolds behind a rude barricade on the far side of another rubble-strewn room. They offered a self-serving proposal about peaceful coexistance. I asked them if they had any food. They said no, but they were pretty clearly lying. My friends and I had a quick whispered discussion, but the lure of increasing our food stores was pretty compelling, and after all, they were only kobolds. We began moving into the room, without much more plan than to cross it, kill the little creeps, and take whatever food they had.

Spike's Guide to Threat Assessment: Don't Underestimate Orcs.
The conventional wisdom is that orcs are not a true threat to much. They're stupid, disorganized, reckless, and prone to infighting. But simply saying this does not eliminate possibility of a smart, skilled, or lucky orc, other than in people's perceptions. When I was little, a neighboring town asked our village to send some warriors to help fight a local orc chieftan and his clan. After some debate, my village sent four of our young untried men to be blooded in real combat. The town in question no longer exists, and my village had to pay taxes to the Orc chieftan, and his half-brother the necromancer, for the next four years.

The kobolds had four things we didn't: reasonable cover, a decent plan, a more powerful wizard, and an unnatural, horrible beast to serve them.

Eaora leapt into the room and immediately began casting a spell. As she completed her arcane gestures, B.B. darted into the room, taking cover behind some of the rubble that lay there. I could tell by the high-pitched barks of dismay that Eaora's spell had had some effect, and I, Lo-kag and K began to make our charge.

The next thing I knew, Asilky was kicking me awake. Apparently the kobold wizard had cast a spell that caused me and Lo-Kag to fall immediately into a deep slumber. At that point, any semblance of coordinated action we might have had was completely lost. I charged into the room, determined to down the kobolds as quickly as possible, Lo-Kag at my side. A full charge was made impossible by the rubble strewn around the room, so I was half-running, half-climbing. The torch was somewhere by the entrance, my back was to it and my shadow was cast wildly before me, obscuring almost everything.

I'm not sure I can convey here quite how chaotic the situation had become. I couldn't really see my opponents, other than the gleam of eyes ahead of me. I could hear K's war-cry somewhere ahead of me, but I couldn't really see him either. Arrows went whistling past me in the darkness, and I couldn't tell if they were fired by friend or foe. Half the time, I couldn't look around anyway because of the need to watch my footing. Suddenly a large beast loomed up out of nowhere. I thought at first it was a dog, which proved to be a serious misjudgement.

The creature leapt foward toward me and Lo-Kag, and as it did so, it let forth an unearthly shriek as all of the flesh just sort of melted off of its head. I didn't know what kind of horrible sorcery was at hand, but I was sure, in that moment, that I was going to die. Apparently Lo-Kag felt the same, for he backpedaled away from the creature and ran for the entrance. I, for my part, began to lash at the creature with my chain. I put a bold face on it afterwards, but here in my journal, I'll confide that I was just as panicked as Lo-Kag, madly lashing out at the creature in a vain hope that it would turn its unnatural visage elsewhere.

The creature went down, but I'm still not sure if it was I that delivered the fatal blow. I could hear K's grunts of pain, and the continued chanting of the kobold wizard, so I wasted no time, rushing forward. When I reached the battle, I found K, hard pressed by kobolds, who were stabbing at him from behind their barricade with spears. I savaged one with my chain, and continued my advance. Suddenly I could see the kobold wizard. He had an arrow standing out of his shoulder, but when I looked at him, it was like there were three of him, standing shoulder to shoulder behind the kobold warriors. An arrow flashed out of the darkness, and one of the images of the wizard vanished.

That was good enough for me. I figured that even if I didn't manage to do real harm, getting rid of the extra wizards was worth something, so I whipped the end of my chain around the neck of the nearest kobold wizard and pulled hard, breaking his neck with a satisfying snap. It must have been the real one, for as the wizard fell limply to the floor, his double vanished. The remaining kobolds put up a bit of fight, concentrating their attacks on K, who, with his 7 foot height, must have seemed very fearsome to them. I disarmed the last one and demanded its surrender, and the creature threw itself on the floor. But K had apparently had enough, for his greatsword flashed down and cut the thing nearly in two. Small loss really, I doubt it knew much.

In the end, we got off relatively unscathed, except for K, who looks like he jumped into a pit full of wild dogs. While Asilky was doing what he could for him, we searched the room, and found three things of interest. The wizard was wearing a cloak and some bracers which Eaora said were magical. Since they fit no-one but B.B., we've given them to her. The third item was more interesting. It appeared to be a small square of folded dark fabric, but as Eaora unfolded it, it revealed itself to be something even more unnatural than the horrible beast.

Apparently, wherever you unfold this thing, it creates a hole about six feet across and 10 feet deep. Eaora says it's a "portable hole", which while an apt description, fails to convey how odd the thing is. If you put something into it, fold it up, and then unfold it elsewhere, everything that you put in the hole is still there. While it is unfolded, the floor beneath it seems gone, but when you fold it up, it's intact, as if nothing had ever happened. The kobold wizard apparently used it as a portable study, for it has a desk, some spellbooks, and a chair within it.

Anyway, aside from the obvious questions the existence of such a thing raises, (What happens to the stuff inside when it's folded up? What if there's a person in there? What if you unfold it on a floor that's only a few inches thick, does it still create a 10-foot deep hole? If you unfold it against a wall, does the stuff inside fall to the side that's now "down"?) it puts us, as I said, firmly into the grip of Spike's Tool Paradox.

Spike's Tool Paradox: A Good Tool is a Trap.
There was a land that labored under a horrible curse. The gods, in their wisdom, created a magical ring that could be used to lift the curse if it was taken to the dark castle at the heart of the kingdom and smashed. In order to allow the prince of the realm to reach the dark castle, the ring granted its wearer several powers. The power of command, the power of flight, and the power of invulnerability. By the time the prince of the kingdom was nearing the castle, he was really beginning to doubt the wisdom of destroying the ring. That was many years ago. The kingdom still labors under its curse, but the magical ring of the royal family is the envy of other rulers everywhere.

This portable hole thing is, simply put, too useful not to use. I've already put most of my food into it, as well as some of the heavier gear I was carrying "just in case." That's all well and good, but when everyone in the group does that, it will rapidly become clear that we're totally dependent on it. If someone steals it, we'll have to get it back, because it will quickly become so important to us that we can't afford to give it up. The more use we get out of it, the more dependent on it we'll be. I can smell trouble coming a mile away, and this thing will bring it eventually, mark my words.

We're resting now. The food situation still worries me, especially since the kobold's "food" turned out to be a pile of decomposing orcs. I'm not sure if others want to explore further today or not, but I'm going to try and convince them to press on.

Coldeven 4: Regarding Asilky and the Gods (Day 2 Watch)

Still having trouble sleeping. It doesn't help that we didn't do anything for most of the day. After Asilky called upon the "powers of Boril" to partially heal Lo-Kag and Eaora, I was all for pressing on, but Lo-Kag had serious reservations about facing more danger while Asilky couldn't heal, and since he brought up stopping to rest every time we found a room that was half-way defensible, eventually he got his way and we made camp. So, after sleeping fitfully for 8 hours or so, taking a 2 hour watch, and exploring for perhaps 2 hours, I had about 12 hours to sit around in camp and find things to do.

I'm positive that a saint couldn't find 12 hours of productive activity in this empty room, and I'm no saint. I checked and cleaned my gear, played some more cards with Lo-Kag, sparred a bit with Asilky, and wrote (and doodled) in my Journal. At the end of it, totally bored and wondering how much time I still had to fill, I asked Asilky (who, being a dwarf, has much better sense of the passage of time underground) how much time remained until we slept, and he said "About 7 hours".

I'll confess, I got a little resentful of the fact that he couldn't cast any more healing spells at that point. He, of course, reminded me (as usual) that the healing doesn't come from any magic of his own, but rather from the "grace of Boril". But that got me thinking: Where does the limit on his healing ability come from?

Asilky isn't tired. To be fair, he looks as bored as I feel, but he's his usual cocky self, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Matrim's Courage Maxim: Don't Underestimate Cocky.
I used to know a paladin. He was old, and maybe that's why I could tolerate him. Most paladins seem like sanctimonious pricks, and definitely have an air of "better than thou" which pisses me off. Anyway, Matrim wasn't like that. He'd pretty much done with adventuring, his knees were locking up with age, and his "holy missions" mostly centered around handing out advice to those younger and stronger than himself when I met him. Anyway, we had a few long chats over beer, and I was talking about someone I didn't like, and called the guy a "cocky bastard". Matrim says, "Don't underestimate cocky, son. Cocky's what keeps you going when real courage won't serve." Surprisingly smart guy for someone who let himself be sucked into some damn idealistic crusade. Asilky reminds me of him a little.

Anyway, Asilky's not tired. And, according to him, the magic that healed Lo-Kag and Eaora didn't even come from him, but from his god. So why can't he get more? I mean, the god isn't tired, right? Asilky is doing what the god wants, or he wouldn't get his spells every morning. (Clerics are the ultimate victims of Spike's Tool Paradox) So why can't he just kneel down and pray and get a few more healing spells so he can continue doing whatever the hells it is that he's supposed to be doing?

I can't come up with any explanations I'd care to say aloud in front of a cleric, that's for damn sure. But I'll jot them down here so I can think about them some more.
  1. The gods do get tired.
  2. The gods don't really care about their followers
  3. The gods won't because of some obscure moral principle.
  4. It's a stupid arbitrary rule.
If the gods are anything like us mortals, I bet it's #4. Which means it's the fault of the gods themselves that I'm bored. Go figure.

Coldeven 4: Many Obstacles (Day 2)

This place is huge. Exploring it is proving to be logistically difficult. Aside from the constant need to keep our voices low, lest some hostile person hear us, there's the problem with the doors.

Clearly, there's no one here (at least that we've found yet) who wants to be here, and so nobody is treating it like home. As near as I can tell, whenever someone exits a room, they're leaving the door open behind them. As a result, most of the doors are open. On the one hand, this is good, because it means that B.B. has to worry about traps less. In fact, today, she found only one, and luckily she disarmed it before any of us could fall victim. It looked nasty though, a scything blade that she said could easily have killed one of us. I have a hunch that she may be playing up her accomplishment there, but still, what little I could see of it looked bad.

But the bad part is that this means that we're A) getting lost, and B) constantly having to watch our backs against open doors we haven't been able to check yet. Everything down here seems scared to death, and is quietly keeping an ear to the floor. Food is also scarce, and I have no doubt that if we show any weakness, the scavengers will be on us quickly. For instance, today we had to kill some Stirges. Not much of a threat to us when we're all at our best, but likely to be very dangerous if we're already weakened.

As we were travelling, we actually found a simple pit latrine. It makes sense I guess (because no one likes do their business in a corner of a room that they may have to pass through again) but a lot of us were really happy to find it. Which just goes to show that little things like that matter more than most people think. Anyway, we're walking down a corridor and we start to hear the sound of running water, and Asilky says "Good thing I already went." Which I thought was pretty funny.

More importantly, we've actually learned a little bit about what we're facing today, albiet not nearly as much as I'd like. We found a mysterious room with columns in the corners which had channels down which water was flowing. After about half of us had moved into the room, an Ogre leapt from behind one of the columns and smashed Eaora to the ground leaving her senseless. Before we could really react, it delivered a huge blow with its club to Lo-Kag as he was trying to close with it, sending him flying back limply, which is quite a feat, considering. But K went into one of those fearsome rages of his, and delivered a crushing blow in return, and when I smashed its forearm with my chain, it apparently had had enough, because it dropped its club and surrendered. Since it was speaking undercommon, I immediately put Spike's Rule of Questioning into effect.

Spike's Rule of Questioning: The merciful man gets better answers.
When you've got someone at your mercy, and you want information from them, you've got to play it straight. Some people like to say they'll let their captive go if they talk, but really plan to kill them anyway. In my experience, this doesn't work so well. I think most captives pick up on this, and give bad answers. If a foe is so powerful that you simply can't afford to let him go, don't even bother questioning him, just kill him and have done.

We learned a few interesting things. Firstly, this ogre, Bragdor by name, came in with a bunch of orcs and a wizard dressed in red (their employer). This was apparently the same clan that the three pitiful orcs in the entry room were from. Anyway, like them, this guy had been told to guard the room, and he was genuinely terrified of the orc clan leader, an orc named Orghar. We also learned that the Ogre was living off of stray kobolds, which served to remind me that we have a limited supply of food. We left him there, I don't think he's going to want to tangle with us again. B.B. was in favor of killing him, of course, but the general consensus was that he'd given us some useful information, and that he wasn't that big a threat to us.

Now we're camped. Lo-Kag and Eaora needed the time to recover. We actually found a bit of treasure today, a golden ring with opal inlay. B.B. thinks it's probably worth about 300gp, which is a pretty decent days work, so my mood is slightly improved. Near it, we found a deck of playing cards. The suits are odd (Sword, Fireball, Whip and Spider), but it's a complete deck, and since we didn't do a full day's exploring, it's proved really useful in passing the time. I'm up two silver on Lo-Kag.

Coldeven 3: Regarding Eaora (Day 1 Watch)

Olidammara, do I hate trying to sleep underground. It's my watch now, and I'm almost grateful. I don't think I've slept much, if at all, and I'm tired of trying. Eaora's doing that "sleeping with her eyes open" thing, which, as always, is creeping me out. I keep thinking that I can talk to her, because she looks pretty much awake, and I open my mouth to say something and then remember that she's not really, and that if I interrupt her meditation she'll lack the mental focus to prepare her spells.

What else can I say about Eaora?

I like to think I'm pretty smart. I speak three languages, have trained in a variety of disciplines, and know more about life than just about anyone I know. Eaora, however, is brilliant in a way I will never be. As you know, I don't like to volunteer a lot of information about myself (outside the confines of my Journal, of course). Anyway, one day we were discussing a potential job with a potential employer, and he asked us if we were familiar with the Highfolk region, and, out of the blue like she does, she says "Spike's mother was from Highfolk."

Now, it's true. My mother was from there. But I'd never told her, and so I was pissed, figuring she'd been prying into my affairs, or maybe reading my journal. I totally lost my cool, called her on it, right then and there. Anyway, she calmly explained that when I hand-signed the symbol of Olidammara, I did so with my left hand, and in front of my face. My face must have shown that I wasn't understanding, so she continued to explain that this was the way that the women of the Highfolk region did it, but that men of the region made the gesture in front of their chest, and typically with their right hand. Logically, she explained, I must have had a woman of Highfolk to model my behaviour on.

Maybe I had the long life of an Elf I'd start to notice such things, and perhaps that's Eaora's secret. But mostly, I think she's just a lot smarter than me.

Coldeven 3: A Day of Mishaps. (Day 1)

Well, it's been an interesting day.

Lured (as usual) by the promise of easy riches, and the desire of my friend Asilky to find some old dwarven caves, we had traveled into the mountains. Mountain travel being what it is, I damn near froze my fingers off, and it was unpleasant enough without trying to hold a quill, so I didn't make any journal entries. Suffice it to say, I can't wait until I'm rich enough to pay some other fool to go freeze his ass off in the mountain snows in my stead.

Anyway, the gigantic dead Titan (without a mark on him) that we found probably ought to have warned us off, but we entered the cave behind him, climbed down a ladder, and found a huge, relatively featureless, room with two doors. I was hearing warning bells, especially when I couldn't figure out what the room had been used for, but there didn't seem to be anything actually dangerous, so I kept quiet. It's looking like I'll be cursing myself for that lapse of judgement for some time. Thusly, a new rule:

Spike's Principle of Objection: Reasonable Objections buy Respect.
If I object to something (without getting strident), and the group goes along with me, I've shown leadership, never a bad thing. They'll be more likely to go along with me in the future. On the other hand, if I object to something, am overruled, and it goes badly, they'll feel a sense of obligation to me for overriding my judgement, and, will be more likely to go along with me in the future. If, on the other hand, I object, am overruled, and things turn out well, I can always accept that I was wrong gracefully, which isn't likely to rub anyone the wrong way, and I've lost little. I see that as two winning outcomes and a draw.

Anyway, we opened one of the doors, and there was some sort of magical inky blackness. Now that set off warning bells for everyone, I'm sure, even Eaora. Eaora took her torch and stuck it through the door, which seemed smart enough to me, but she stuck her hand in with it, and then we were in the latrine up to our knees, because she couldn't pull it back out. I grabbed hold and really heaved, but she started wailing about it hurting, so I stopped.

Anyway, I was thinking that a competent priest would probably be able to get her a new hand, especially with her being willing to indenture herself to some bleeding heart cause or other, when she goes and sticks her other hand in. Maybe she could figure what I was thinking, because before I could say that regrowing two hands is probably just as easy as regrowing one, she moves forward into the darkness entirely. Everyone else, apparently worried about her safety, followed her, pretty much without discussion, while Lo-Kag and I were trying to decide on the best course of action.

Well, Lo-Kag and I figure that since we don't hear any screaming, and since B.B., Asilky and K are pretty rough customers, they probably don't need our help right away. Anyway, we check out the other door, which turns out to also be full of inky blackness, and stand there and discuss our options. To his credit, Lo-Kag suggested the obvious, heading back up out of the caves, but I had two counterpoints. One, friends are friends, and they're harder to replace than enemies, even if they are reckless idiots. And two, nobody sets up permanent magic like that unless they've got some serious coin-on-hand. I think he found the first argument the more compelling, which is like him. Lo-Kag talks a good game, but I think he sometimes has trouble with Spike's Cardinal Rule.

You know, it occurs to me that I haven't written my rules down in this journal yet, (other than the new ones) which is a real shame, because they probably constitute the only true wisdom I've acquired in my life. So, here's a few of my longer-standing rules off the top of my head.

Spike's Cardinal Rule: Always look out for Number one.
Never saw anyone who did well by ignoring this one. Value recieved needs to equal or exceed value given in every aspect of one's life. People who ignore this rule end up in the gutter. Show me a nobleman, and I'll show you someone who has this rule infused into their very blood and sinew. Everytime I've ignored this rule, it's ended badly.

Spike's Law of Goodness: Think about the big picture.
People that think of themselves as "good" are pretty good at this rule, but often suck at Spike's Rule of Selfishness (see below). You shouldn't take an action without thinking about its long term consequences. Breaking a deal, stealing from a friend, eating too much stew. All of these things may have positive short term benefits, but in the long term, they often cost far more than they're worth.

Spike's Law of Selfishness: Think about the small picture.
People that others think are "selfish" or "evil" are pretty good at this rule, but are hit-or-miss with Spike's Law of Goodness. Sometimes people can get too hung up on the big picture to realize when the short-term negatives have gotten out of control. Honoring with a bad deal that isn't going to get better, giving your life for a "noble" cause, never having any fun because one's lifestyle is too moderate. Maybe some of these things would have good overall consequences, but they're not worth it in any sane analysis.

Spike's Value Proposition: You can't buy beer with a magic sword.
A lot of people don't get this one. But it's really pretty simple. I had a magic sword once. It was nice. It shone in the sun, it never rusted, it was very sharp. But at best, it was just a little tiny bit better at killing folks, which is all a sword needs to do with itself. And there was this guy, who offered me more than 2000 gold pieces for it. He's a lot poorer, I'm a lot richer, and I'm pretty sure that I could still take him in a fight. So much for magic swords.

So, Lo-Kag and I go through the door, ready for trouble, and find ourselves in a big dark room, with our friends, and no way back. There's some out-of-luck orcs in there, who tell us (It turns out that Eaora speaks orcish too) that something in this place has wiped out their entire clan. Some of my friends tried to find out how big the clan is, but trying to get a decent estimate of numbers out of your average orc is like asking a halfling to scan a crowd. They're just not equipped for the job. Anyway, I felt kind of sorry for the orcs, and offered them a food for labor arrangement, but they turned me down, which is too bad for them I guess, because they're out of food. I considered making an appeal based on my slight orc heritage, but they probably wouldn't have cared, and I still don't want Asilky, B.B. and Eaora to know, as they seem to harbor some ill-will toward orcs in general.

We decided to start trying the doors out of the room, and as we move toward the first one, I got my chain ready, which produced some snickers from my friends. Sometimes I worry that they think I'm stupid just because I'm ugly, but I still think it was the right call. We hadn't been quiet while talking with the orcs, and there could have been anything behind that first door.

Anyway, we open the door, and immediately learn more bad news. There was a room full of dead kobolds and trogs, which means A) they'll let anyone into this dump and that B) my clothing all smells. BeeBee and I searched the bodies a little bit, but they'd been picked over (in more ways than one), so we backed off. While we were doing that, Lo-Kag discovered the other bit of bad news.

It seems that whatever people built this place left some fairly nasty magical traps lying about. Now I consider this something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, B.B. is running herself ragged trying to keep up with the ingenuity of the builders, and a few of us have now been hurt. Lo-Kag looks really funny with that missing patch of facial hair. But on the other hand, no one goes to all this trouble to trap an area that has nothing valuable in it. So, the way I figure, that means there's something worth more than pixie dust in this forsaken place. (I'm not sure my friends share my opinion however.)

Anyway, there's not much else to tell. We were attacked by a swarm of rats, but beat them off fairly easily. B.B. dealt with another trap, and then she got attacked by a dark mantle. I was kind of hoping it would try to grab me next, but maybe it saw the armor spikes, because it jumped to K. After that, we made short work of it. Asilky got B.B., (who seemed a little shaken) back up on her feet, and we beat a retreat to a defensible room full of old rope and nails we'd found during the day's explorations.

I hope we find some decent loot tomorrow and can get out of this place soon. It's starting to give me the creeps.