A Gnome's Travels
It's a jungle out there -- I promise I try to format these :'(
This place is eerie. I don’t like it. It seems that we have finally found this library though. The more this group tells me of their journey, the more the gravity of the situation sinks in. Even if we do banish the evil from this place, I must stay with them. Their purpose is noble, and of utmost importance. This was accentuated by our trip up to this library. As we left the coastal city, we came across a cave that seemed to be filled with gnolls. Emboldened by our recent victories, as well as our new-found gifts, we decided to do the world a favor and clean the cave out. The joke sure was on us! We dispatched the scouts at the mouth of the cave effortlessly. Down inside the cave some distance was a mess hall that had several milling about. The ranger Ki and the elf-lizard sprang into action. Ki turned invisible, ran to the middle of the room, and electrocuted one of the gnolls. A lot of magic in this one, some of it dark. I’m still somewhat unsure of him. After we became visible, and had the room’s attention, the lizard-elf let loose a frost spell, freezing almost the entire room in place. It turns out that Ki’s gift was a cloak that protects him from cold. Quite handy, if I must say! After dispatching some stragglers, we moved on. After going through a few twists and turns, we came to a big room. Inside this room was a horror show. There was a small army of gnolls, standing in a trance. There were 3 wizards, standing around an inky pool, doing some sort of foul incantation. There were also 3…beasts. Perhaps they were once gnolls, but no longer. They had chains hooked into their own bodies, and seemed to be ready to hoist something big out of the water. I had a flashback of the minotaurs from Crystal Crag, and their ballista machine. With a couple of huge blasts of fire, and some lightning movement, the gnolls and the wizards were down. I barely had a chance to make sense of things before the rest of the group had moved in and started taking down the monsters. This sudden action seemed to wake them, and they started pulling on the chains, giving us no mind. One went down, then another. Suddenly, a hand rose out of the water, as if being pulled up by the chain. With a renewed vigor, bordering on panic, we turned to the last beast, hoping to take it down before whatever this was could be pulled out of the pool. By the time it dropped, the other arm had come up, and they were able to grab the edge of the pool. Whatever this thing was, it obviously did not belong in this world. I moved to engage it, not sure if I could actually be of any effect, but knowing I had to try. The monk Leif appeared to have the same thought, and ran up with me. He’s starting to grow on me; I think we make a good team. Our blows seemed not to have much effect however. Right after our first strikes, one of the arms reached out and grabbed Leif by the neck. In an instant I knew he was a goner. The hand would surely drag him down, never to be seen again. Yet, before I could react, something strange happened. Leif’s necklace, made of trophies form everything that had tried to eat him thus far, started to glow. In a blur, he slipped out of the grasp! After witnessing this, I was almost too stunned to move back out of the way, lest I suffer a much less fortunate fate. Without showing much sign of impedance from our attacks, the creature pulled itself out of the pond completely. This monstrosity, probably demonic in origin, rivaled the giant in size. Whatever purpose it had been summoned for could not have been allowed to continue, so we did not relent. After a significant effort, we finally downed the foul creature. All was quiet. For now. We had made quite a racket though. While everyone stopped to catch their breath, we decided to send Leif to scout. He is surprisingly fast, and Ki cast a spell that made him invisible. A few tense minutes passed with no signs of life, from inside the room or out. Then, in a flash, Leif was back. He was panicked too. He had seen what was in the rest of the cave. Apparently there were several dragon-men, as well as a full-sized green dragon! We looked at each other, and for another tense moment, there was silence. Then, with a common understanding, we bolted. Had we come in fresh, we may have been able to take a dragon. However, this room had drained us, especially the spellcasters. We ran out of the cave with no incident, and went to where we left our horses, only to find them missing. Fortunately they had simply wandered off, and we easily found them. We took off, riding hard to the woods, hoping to be able to seek shelter there. Fortunately we were able to get through the night, an altogether too uncommon occurrence. We took a somewhat easier pace from there, for the horses’ sake. As we came to the edge of the woods, we were stopped by centaurs. These are rather uncommon, so it was a surprise to seem them here. Fortunately they were friendly, and offered to give us shelter and rest for a short time. Once we were back at their camp, they took us to their chief, and we explained our purpose and our journey. We called their resident witch, who confirmed our story. This encouraged them to help us even further, and arranged for us to fly by eagle to our destination. They would keep our horses, and we would return with information to help them fight the coming threat, as well as protect their forest. Flying is not my forte. I prefer to have the ground much closer to me. All things considered though, the trip went smoothly. So much faster, too. The eagles landed up a short ways south of our destination, something about it not being safe for them to go any further north. We tried to send them off with gratitude, but Ki started picking with the leader about not going further. He doesn’t seem to understand the importance of making friends… As we continued on, we were yet again ambushed in the night. This time was different though. I could feel it as soon as I was roused. Undead. I said a quick prayer, and used an ability I had been trained to use, but had never had a reason for. I channeled the divine power of Iomedae, forming a large burst of energy. Looking around, I saw that we were being engaged by a wraith and a few skeletons. I let loose another blast, and moved to engage the wraith. As I came up to it, Ki tackled me from behind, catching me off guard. Before I had a chance to react, a wave of cold swept over me. Apparently he and the elf-lizard were doing another cold blast trick. I wasn’t very amused, but at least I didn’t freeze. I rolled out from under him, and got up just in time to see the wraith draining the vitality out of Ki. I started to move in between them when Leif jumped in, and in a flurry of blows vanquished the wraith. How he managed to land a fist on an incorporeal being is a question for another time. I’ll have to remember that. Ki was in rough shape, but fortunately, our druid had a fruit that replenished vitality. She gave that to Ki, and after some rest and medical attention to his immediate wounds, he came back strong as ever. Not dissuaded, we moved on to the library. After a few hours travelling north, we came to a forest. Leif insisted this was the correct way, that he felt pulled by it. He has a lot more depth to him than I gave him credit for, I confess. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that he is always targeted… We wandered through the woods for what felt like an eternity, when Ki pointed out that we had been going in circles. The forest was trying to keep us away. He claimed to be able to see the correct path, so we followed him through some dense undergrowth. Once we passed through it however, everything shifted. Suddenly, the forest was dead. The heavy stench of decay was in the air. We had come to a clearing with a lone, dead tree. I could feel something was not right. I consider myself to be fairly in touch with nature, but definitely not as strongly as the druid. She immediately began weeping and ran over to the tree, then became silent, as in meditation. She still hasn’t moved. The rest of us are taking this time to rest some. Ki says the library is just on the other side of the clearing, but no one else can see it. Either way, we need to be prepared for what dreadful things may lie within.