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 15: Our Lucky Day (Day 13)

It has been one long day, I ache all over, and these damn harpy scratches itch like the dickens in spite of (or because of) whatever Asilky did to them. Overall though, the day's been a remarkable success, especially considering the number of menaces we had to contend with. I feel that this is evidence that we're finally getting our feet under us.

For instance, I'm actually starting to really get the hang of triggering magic wands, so much so that we decided I should be the one to carry around the wand that shoots lightning bolts. Eaora can already do something very similar with her own powers, and so far I'm the only other person who can make the thing work. I can hardly wait to use it. With the spiked armor and chain I don't look anything like a spellcaster, so it ought, at the least, to be surprising to someone.

We then stumbled into the frozen lair of a creature so frightful that it could have killed us all a dozen times in a row before we entered this place and started honing our skills. It somewhat resembled a dragon, but it had many heads attached to its body with long sinuous necks. I probably shouldn't have been surprised by this (considering the ice riming everything in the room) but it was capable of firing frigid ice blasts from each of its gaping maws, rather than the fire I might have expected from a dragon-like creature.

We reacted with a level of skill, coordination and teamwork that I still find surprising, especially considering how different our styles are. Eaora hit the thing with a lighting bolt, and then the rest of us charged in, spreading out so that it couldn't get many of us in a single blast. Lo-Kag affixed it with his evil eye, and then he and K just sort of waded in, engaging the majority of the things heads with a direct assault. BB and I, meanwhile, dashed, dodged and tumbled past the lashing heads to get at the creature's exposed flanks. The creature was dead before it really knew what was happening, I think.

We all had minor wounds and some of our exposed skin was frostbitten, but it wasn't anything that Asilky (and Boril) couldn't handle. In fact, for the first time in a while, Asilky seemed fairly confident that the favor of Boril would still be available to aid us if we were to continue, so we decided to do so.

At which point we discovered that Lo-Kag was bent on increasing the size of our party by one wolf. In the cave of the hydra, we found a wounded wolf, which Lo-Kag immediately took a great liking to. He's been tending to it, and feeding it bits of food, and it's been following us around all day. When standing next to Lo-Kag, it looks much like a normal man and his large dog. The illusion is shattered when you get close and can see that this thing is bigger than any dog. He keeps going on about how good it's going to be in a fight, but the thing weighs more than I do, and I bet it eats more than I do too. I hope he's got it under control. I also imagine that it's going to die soon, as this is a fit place for no beast, and then we'll have a disconsolate giant on our hands. What a waste of time.

Of course, I'm still convinced that our luck can't hold forever. Sooner or later, one of us is going to die. Other than the obvious problems surrounding the loss of a trusted companion, this also leaves us staring straight at our primary problem. We've got no fallback position. Retreat, in this hellish place, is as bad as advancement, and if one of us dies, we've started down a slippery slope, with the team weakened, more strain will fall on the rest. I predict that after the first of us finally falls, the second will fall within days. I fear a chain of events that will leave us all dead within a week, to be honest.

Shortly after that, we encountered a group of minotaurs, apparently guarding a region of this place claimed by the Broken Axe Minotaur clan. Perhaps encouraged by our victory over the Hydra, we didn't spend a lot of time chatting with them, but rather launched right into battle. Even more remarkable is that when we opened the door, K didn't charge into their midst, rather, he let them come to us through the door, where their large size worked against them and we could focus our attention on them in smaller numbers.

I retract my earlier comment, apparently K's book of tactics is two pages long.

During the ensuing slaughter, one of the minotaurs decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and ran. We assumed he'd be bringing back help, so we sort of entrenched ourselves to deal with an onslaught of angry minotaurs. I guess we made a good first impression though, because when their leader, a 'taur by the name of Markuli, showed up, he wanted to negotiate, rather than fight. This is the kind of negotiation I can get behind.

We told him that really we wanted passage through his region, and Asilky mentioned that he needed some unguents for some ritual or other. Markuli told us that he'd kill us if we had to, but that he really wanted to keep his warriors around to fight the other nearby minotaur clan, the Red Horde. I see his point. When six unknown people kill eight of your folk without any of them dying, it's probably a good idea not to mess with them unless you absolutely have to. Eventually, we agreed to give him a crystal key we'd found in exchange for being guided through his lands to the territory of something called a "sphinx". He must really rule his people effectively, because he did in fact manage to take us through his people without incident. (Some of them looked really resentful of that fact, too.)

We were then, apparently, in the sphinx's territory. I asked my companions what a sphinx was, but they didn't really know. "Some sort of bird-like thing, possibly" was about as good as I got, and that was from Eaora, our supposed expert on such matters. If I'd have known then how annoying the thing was going to be, I'd have encouraged stealth, rather than curiousity.

I'm going to take a break, eat something and rest my writing hand. It's been a full day, and there's still more to tell. And if I fall behind on keeping this damn journal, I'm sure I'll never catch back up.

Coldeven 14: Mighty Keothi (Day 12)

Like Lo-Kag, my friend K seems like a truly remarkable specimen. (I write "seems like" because I only know the two goliaths, and the thought of making the acquaintance of many more fills me with trepidation.) But, regardless of how he compares to other goliaths, to me he's terrifyingly powerful. I've seen him wield a variety of weapons, but it almost doesn't matter, as he can seemingly cut a man in half with a club as easily as with a sword.

Unfortunately, that particular trait seems to have left him ill-prepared to deal with situations where strength alone is not enough, or, as I like to say, it seems like K's book of tactics is only one page long. Unfortunately, he's also frighteningly quick for someone his size, so when there's trouble, he's often in the thick of it, swinging away, before anyone can suggest a more restrained approach.

Sadly, we're still encountering these accursed shadows, and as often as not, K's mighty swings pass right through them without any effect whatsoever. We ran into a particularly tough group of them, he waded in, and before we knew it, we were in over our heads. Eaora has continued working on her new spell, the particularly fearsome incantation which results in a tiny glowing ball that flies from her hand and then unexpectedly explodes to fill entire rooms with fire. However, with K already in the midst of them, and visibly weakening, she didn't dare to use it. Lo-Kag apparently reached the conclusion that we were going to lose, because he started running back the way we'd come.

Asilky had already advised us that if we succumbed to the weakening influence of the shadows that we would lose our physical forms and become shadows ourselves. But when things were looking particularly grim, it proved that he had more than advice to offer. He raised the symbol of Boril above his head and called upon his deity, and with a flash of light, two of the Shadows were destroyed. Lo-Kag regained his composure and returned to the fray, and we were victorious.

Possibly I should say they were victorious, because I didn't help in the slightest. Not, of course, for lack of trying, but every blow I struck passed through the things, and when the last of them fell, I'd had no hand in their defeat.

In fact, since I've been so useless in destroying the shadows, my main contribution today has been destroying priceless works of art. Sometimes we find treasure that's easily portable and worth taking just for its weight of gold, even though it's broken or ugly. For instance, today we found some gold mandible covers. Since I don't think any of us is likely to be sporting mandibles any time soon, they're useless to us in their current form, but I imagine that the gold they're made of will still spend rather nicely.

But what broke my heart today was the bowl. It was a thing of beauty, made of silver, with careful inlay, exquisite craftsmanship, and adorned with beautiful gems. It wouldn't have looked out of place on a king's table, and must have taken the silversmith a month to make. I estimated its worth at 500 gold coins. Yet we have no use for a bowl; it's too heavy and unwieldy to carry. So, I wrecked it, prying the gems from it to produce a handful of gems worth perhaps 100 gold, and leaving behind a disfigured silver bowl for someone else to melt down. Tragic.

I don't know, maybe I'll talk to K about tactics before we turn in, at least then I'll feel like I'm contributing something useful to our efforts.