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 13: Rooms of Forgotten Import (Day 11)

Today was strange, We traveled through many rooms that provided a lot of material for thought. (However, not any kind of useful thought, like thinking about ways to escape our predicament.)

The first room we found was a lab. Like many rooms in this area, it probably belonged to one of the old celestial jailers, now long since dead. It's not the first room like this we've found, preserved by magics, undisturbed by the frightened denizens of this forgotten place. Mostly, we used it as an opportunity to refresh our inteventory of odds and ends such as tindertwigs, antitoxins and sun-rods. I was excited by the find of a nice magnifying glass, because I always wanted one. Maybe I'll be down here long enough to find a use for the stupid thing. Eaora was also very happy to find some scroll and potion-making materials.

But I did pause for a minute while we were tossing stuff into our sacks to wonder about the celestial whose room this used to be. By all accounts, the celestials are pretty good, which is another way of saying that they put a great deal of emphasis on the big picture. (Spike's Law of Goodness, which I've mentioned before.) But regardless of how good a guy he was, his stuff is now ours, and pretty much without us giving too much thought to it. There's an important lesson in that I think, so I formulated a new rule.

Spike's Looting Consideration: Dead People Don't Need Things
Occassionally there are things lying about that used to belong to someone who is now dead. I've found, sadly, that sometimes I even had a hand in the previous owner's death. I've noticed, however, that when people pick up these things to put them to further use, that often there is a bit of guilt attached to the action. There needn't be. Either the person in question was allied with your personal aims or opposed to them. If he was allied with your aims, he would doubtless want you to have his possessions so that you might better carry them out. If opposed, you doubtlessly want his goods not to fall into the hands of those who he would more naturally consider allies. Either way, there's no reason you should have problem with it, so set the guilt aside.

Having thus set my mind at ease, I also took a set of high quality lockpicks that he had in a drawer.

Shortly after that, we actually met one of the Inevitables that we'd been warned about, a being by the name of Morsak. I'd been worried (after the somewhat evasive description we'd been given by the Celestials) that any Inevitable we met would be a supremely powerful, supremely arrogant, jerk. Luckily for us, Morsak, while he did seem a little chilly, was helpful enough to warn us that the rest of the Inevitables that lay the way we were headed were going to be supremely powerful, supremely arrogant, jerks. After a short discussion, we turned back. I let my friends do the talking, since I got the impression that Morsak didn't really care much for me.

After that, however, things got really weird.

We found a room with a large (and valuable) rug, a hook hanging from the ceiling, and a sword mounted on the wall. The room felt very important, there was a palpable aura of immenence, like something truly monumentous was capable of happening there. We fiddled with things for a bit, and nothing happened, so we moved on. Considering the circumstances, it seems likely that I will die still wondering what purpose the room was waiting for.

Then we found a room with thousands of tiny alcoves, each of which contained a candle and was labeled with a name. Eaora suggested that each of the alcoves represented one of the Celestials that were assigned here. Only nineteen of the candles were still lit. BB, apparently moved to a rare bit of emotion, observed that it was very sad. I let out a small chuckle, and had to hurriedly explain that I was thinking about Spike's Looting Consideration and how much stuff that meant we could take. With my friends all glaring at me, I retracted the statement, but I still think it's kind of funny.

After that, in quick succession, we found a room with an ancient legal document that appeared to be the charter for this hellhole, a room full of rugs and pillows where there was a dead archon, and a small room with cushioned chairs sitting around a table with a crystal embedded in it. It turned out that we couldn't get out of that room until we all sat in the chairs and were "shown" some of the history of this place. It was making me very uncomfortable, so I tried not to pay too much attention. I was only partially successful at that, however. as it felt like the damn crystal was trying to crack my head open. Strangely, despite the ordeal, we all felt pretty good afterward.

It had become clear by this point that all these rooms, meaningless though they may be at this point, were once considered pretty important. Amazingly, they were in fact protected by an intricate series of traps and tests. Somehow though, we started on the wrong side of those tests, and as we progressed, we worked our way back through the tests, which were strangely impotent because of the direction we came at them from.

Just as I was beginning to think that the day would end without any sort of true menace, we encountered a group of four barghests. We defeated them fairly handily, and found a place to rest. The troubling thought that occurs to me as I recount the various things we saw today is that we failed to understand what most of them were for. In fact, most fixtures of this place are nearly impossible to figure out. Even if we find the exit, will we recognize it for what it is?

Coldeven 12: Loose Ends (Day 10)

This morning (if you can call it that) we decided to take care of the shadow mastiffs that had so nearly killed us a few days ago. It sounds crazy, put like that, but it actually made a fair amount of sense. First off, the constant struggle to keep alive in this place is really honing our skills, and Eaora's newfound ability to fill entire rooms with searing fire encouraged us. Secondly, we knew our enemy, and what to be careful of. But most importantly, we were able to take full advantage of what I see as the first key to victory.

Spike's First Key to Victory: The first blow falls hardest.
People have this idea that a fight can somehow be "fair". I thnk this is obvious insanity, as the best kind of fight is clearly a onesided battle. But even in a fight between two relative equals, someone is going to strike the first blow, and that person is more likely to win. When I was a kid, there was a bully among the steet children. He was regarded as nearly unassailable by the majority of the kids, and to be honest, by me. He liked to torment me in particular, probably because I was younger, and thus smaller than he. His pattern was always the same, he would pick someone younger and smaller, and then would thrash them publicly. I remember nursing a split lip and black eye for a week. If anyone challenged his authority, he would sic his followers on them.

After 2 months of this, I began to realize that this was a sign of weakness on his part. Now, no way was I ready to take this guy on in a "fair fight". He was twice my size. I needed a different approach. I found him, shadowed him until he was alone, and hit him in the back of the head with a board. He was tough enough that I had to hit him with it three times before he stopped twitching.

So, we went back to the shadow mastiffs that had given us so much trouble before. B.B. used her silence to keep their howling from affecting us, Eaora softened them up by filling their lair with flame, and then K, Lo-Kag and I went in and put the rest of them down without too much trouble. Some of them were pretty tough. K. had to hit one of them more than once.

We continued to explore the area.

We found a giant spider that had been enchanted to obey someone's commands. It didn't seem too threatening, so I was inclined to leave well enough alone. Others weren't feeling quite as charitable, however, so we killed it. It turned out that the thing was the servant of a goblin mage that had been working with the shadows of the region. Considering we outnumbered him by 6 to 1, I thought we could probably negotiate with him. He proved very unreasonable though. Maybe he knew what we'd done to his pet spider.

Surprisingly, he also proved pretty difficult to deal with, throwing lightning bolts and turning invisible. But in the end, I looped my chain around his neck and yanked. Invisible or not, his neck snapped like a twig. Among his possessions, we found a wand, from which I "pushed" to see what it did. I succeeded in electrocuting myself with a bolt of lightning, nearly killing myself. Since Eaora can do similar things all on her own, we decided I should keep the wand handy, though I'm not sure I'm ready to use something so hard to control in a really threatening situation.

It was at this point in our exploration that we found the strangest room yet. It was, to all appearances, a walled forest under open sky. Despite assurances from others that the ceiling still lay above, the illusion of being outside was hard to shake. Sadly, any joy I might have felt at being outside was completely destroyed by one thing. It was raining, and all of us were very shortly a sodden miserable mess, enveloped in the odor of wet dwarf. After exploring the area somewhat, we decided to call it a day, and found a dry room.