home

Journal:

DnD home

Part 3,

The Speaker in Dreams



Party Members


Darius Darkhammer, Male Dwarven Fighter/Cleric of Moradin
Dzindra (Dizzy) Daggersmith, Female Human Monk
Paks, Female Half-Elven Paladin of Yondalla
Caleshorn, Male Elven Rogue/Illusionist

with

Couradil the Chicken Farmer, Torch Bearer

What has come before:

The party traveled to the town of Oakhurst in answer to a call for adventures from the town’s Mayor, Verner Ling. In the ruins of the Sunless Citadel, the party uncovered – and defeated – a plot by the Druid Belak to control the world through the Gulthias Tree. Belak was spreading the seeds of the Gulthias Tree. The seeds grew into Twig Blights and, given enough time, into other Gulthias trees under the control of the original tree.

The original Gulthias Tree had grown from the wooden stake that was used to slay a dragon-priest who had become a vampire; it could take control of living creatures. These “supplicants” would defend the tree and carry out the tree’s – and therefore Belak’s – wishes.

In the Sunless Citadel the party also recovered a carved bone scroll case with dwarven runes on the outside and a letter from Cassiopeia to Sir Bradford. The dwarven runes on the scroll case read "Khundrukar", which translates as "Glitterhame". Inside the scroll case was an old crumbling scroll that read "...the remaining few. By order of Durgeddin the Black, we have created a secret dwarven redoubt. None shall find us; however...”

The letter read “Once you have Shatterspike, bring it and the map to me in Blasingdell. Untold riches await you in Durgeddin's stony redoubt ... and, I fear, the chance to be a hero. Your fall from grace will not be in vain …

One of the Gulthias Tree’s supplicants was a Paladin of Torm - Sir Bradford. When they defeated him, the party recovered his sword – Shatterspike - but no map.

The party traveled to Blasingdell – a town being threatened by a very organized band of orcs - where they spoke with the dwarf Kheldegen Tolm. From him the party learned that Durgeddin the Black was a fantastic swordsmith and that he founded Glitterhame. Glitterhame was eventually overrun by orcs and its location became lost to time. Kheldegen confirms Darius’s suspicion that Shatterspike was made by Durgeddin. The last Kheldegen heard Shatterspike was guarded by an order of paladins dedicated to Torm. He also uncovers a secret compartment in Shatterspike’s pommel, which contains an ancient map – a map they can not read.

The party found Cassiopeia’s house on the outskirts of Blasingdell. When the party confronted Cassiopeia, she recognized Shatterspike and wanted to know where we got her sword, what had happened to Sir Bradford, and whether or not we had the map. In our discussions with her she admitted to turning Sir Bradford from his vows and said she alone knew how to use the map to Glitterhame.

In return for interpreting the map, she wanted the party to recover an item - a “weightless” box – from Glitterhame. She said that only she knows how to use it and that she needs it - she wouldn’t tell us why. She claimed she was working for the greater good of humanity. After much discussion, the party agreed.

The party followed the map to Glitterhame and after defeating many foes – orcs, stirges, troglodytes, and the young black dragon Nightscale – the party recovered the “box”. Upon returning to Blasingdell the party found the town deserted and Cassiopeia’s house destroyed. In the rubble they found one of her recording spheres showing what had occurred.

The orc army under the command of a half-ogre / half-demon had attacked the town and captured the populace. The demon attacked Cassiopeia looking for the “box”, but Cassiopeia managed to escape. At the end of the recording the demon said, “Tell Gulthias, we should be …”

When the party decided to travel to Brindinford to restock and make some decisions, Dzindra became very excited and her eyes widened "Brindinford? That's my hometown! Oh, I can't wait to introduce you all to my family."

The Speaker in Dreams, Day 1 Sixth Game Session

Beaufort

It is mid-October and the weather has been turning colder. The party has spent the last two weeks traveling from Blasingdell to the outskirts of Brindinford. Once there Dzindra takes the party her parents house in the little village of Beaufort.

Along the way, it is almost eerie how she stops almost every third person in the street, and introduces the party to someone who turns out to be a cousin or related by marriage to one. Many of them are dark-skinned, too. Dzindra explains, "My grandmother, Dzindratha, besides being strange in that she's a good person yet is a drow elf, also is unusual in that she's unbelievably fertile. She keeps marrying men and having lots of children. Amazing long-lived, she is. My parents drilled into me from an early age my entire family tree. Grandpa, Eduarcino, he doesn't always like to hear about all the men that have come before though." She laughs.

The party comes to a modest but well maintained home set back from the road. You come up to the stables first, and you hear the sound of a hammer ringing. Dzindra puts her finger to her lips, and the party tiptoes into the smithy half of the stables. There, a very large and broad-shouldered man is hammering away on a pair of horseshoes. Dzindra starts to sneak up towards him, when he suddenly whirls around, swinging the hammer in the space between them. With a surprised look, he utters, "Diz..." when she suddenly grabs his arm, and the two begin to wrestle for control of the hammer. Time passes as muscles bulge on each of the wrestlers, and they shuffle around, trying to get the most advantageous position. She twists the smithy's arm, rolls across his back and lands on the other side, thus wresting the hammer away and triumphantly waves it. The smithy caresses his wounded arm as Dzindra laughs, "Oh Grawn, that was much better, really. You gave me a really good struggle." Then she hugs him. She turns to the party and introduces the man as Grawn, her parent's handyman. He grunts, grabs the hammer back, and gets back to work, seemingly put off, but with a glint in his eye.

As the party leaves the stable, Dzindra whispers sarcastically, "He claims he used to be a barbarian, from some tribe." Despite her facetiousness, his foreign looks make you believe it. Pax did not detect any evil from him.

The front door of the Daggersmith residence is made of sturdy wood, with several runes etched into them. Dzindra opens the door, and you see the first room is a small yet high-ceilinged antechamber, with just one door opposite the front one. Taking up much of the room is a large stone statue of a warrior with a warhammer in one hand and a shield in the other off to the left. The carving is exquisite enough that Darius feels that unless it was created by dwarves, it is probably magical. As soon as the party enters the room, Jot screams at them, "No fair! I can't enter!" Dzindra smiles, then walks up to the statue and stands on a box, cups her hands and speaks something into its ear. Then she shrugs and explains, "Mom says we need it to guard the house, but from what I don't know."

Then she gets down, opens the far door, and ushers you into the kitchen, where you are introduced to her half-elven mother, Jazlyin, and her father, Dirk. They are delighted to meet all of us, and introductions take up the next 15 minutes. Jazlyin works at the local university and Dirk is a masterwork weaponsmith. You quickly figure out that Jazlyin is a wizard, since unseen servants do most of the housework and bring you your drinks. Pax doesn’t detect evil from either of Diz’s parents.

As the conversation dies down, Jazlyin frowns and says, "Diz dear, you wrote me in that letter about your young friend Shaidarol. What has become of him?" The party gives the account of what happened to him. Then the party launches into a rough sketch of their adventures, leaving out Cassiopeia and the box completely. You expect one of the two of them to ask an obvious question that would give away the necessity of the second map, but they don't pry.

Finally, Dirk says, "By the way, Dzindra, your unexpected presence is the second one we've had today. Your half-brother Erkitz is here too."

"Really?!" she responds as her eyes light up.

"Yes, he's in ... the basement. Been there for a while now."

Dzindra gets up and says, "I'll go say hi to him. You guys can stay here and talk with my parents a bit longer." While she's gone we tell them all about her near death in the pit. Then Dirk shows us his weapon display, which is made up of his finest works (which aren't for sale). Caleshorn notices from the wear and tear on some of these items, though polished nicely now, were definitely heavily used at one point.

Dzindra heads down into the basement, where Erkitz does not seem to be around. Expecting this, she heads towards the secret door, opens it, and heads as silently as possible through. Down around the spiral staircase she goes, when she starts to see light up ahead in the summoning chamber. Earlier, when her older brother still lived at home, Dzindra remembered how obsessed he became with summoning. Obviously, he had come back home less to see family than to use the chamber, since it was created by grandmother and undoubtedly the safest one Erkitz could find. Which of course was partly why their parents allowed him to use it at all.

What she saw made her sick. She couldn't hear anything of course since Erkitz always invoked the silence ward at the entryway, but what she saw was bad enough. Erkitz had his back to her, and within the magic circle was a roaring flame. Within that flame floated a head. A familiar head. Half-ogre and half-demon. It couldn't be the same one! But Dzindra thought it was. Quickly, she flung herself back against the wall, hoping the head hadn't seen her in the entryway. Then she ran back up the staircase and waited in the basement.

Erkitz arrived a few minutes later. "Ah, sister. What a pleasant surprise." He was always formal, yet distant. She greeted him, but decided not to confront him. But he brought it up. "Did you see who I was talking to, Diz?" She just stared at him. "Do not make assumptions about what transpired. There are games that must be played in this world. Dicy games. You must trust me." That's what he always said.

As if to emphasize his unspoken point about his world of power, he casually let his cloak open just a tad, enough to reveal his ample supply of wands, amulets, and pouches about his person. He then tapped her on the arm, and said, "Neat candle, sis." He headed upstairs.

She then went through her breathing exercises and composed herself.

The party meets Erkitz, a swarthy-looking sorceror about 10 years older than Dzindra. He has this habit of curling his moustache which takes away from his demeanor of confidence, but he does look powerful. (Pax couldn’t detect anything about his alignment). He meets the party, but stays only briefly, saying he must be on his way. Just as Dzindra is coming up the stairs, Erkitz heads out the door. He pauses at the door, though, and says, "Hey Diz? There's an invisible imp floating around out here. It may have followed you. Want me to take care of it?"

Dzindra considers, but as she does so, Erkitz says, "Oh, too late – its gone away. Well, if it bugs you again, just tell it that your big brother will flatten it." Then he walks off.

The party says its goodbyes soon after, Jazlyin urges us all to be careful, and we leave the Daggersmith residence.

Dzindra leads the party back to the street. "By the way," she adds, "My mom is quite a scholar of arcana - she teaches at the university after all - and probably knows some legends regarding the box we found. We could go back and ask her if you want."

Diz wants to visit her monastery and see her old Master, but the party decides they should continue on to Brindinford proper and secure accommodations; they can visit the monastery another day. Along the road out of Beaufort, the party passes a small graveyard and Diz insists on stopping by the grave of her best friend and paying her respects; Diz says, “She was killed by a monster all those years ago, when a supernatural event occurred...” Diz trails off as the party reaches her friend’s grave - a single tear rolling down her dusky cheek.

Brindinford

A short walk from Beaufort brings the party to the East Gate of Brindinford. Brindinford is the “last outpost on the frontier”. Although there are a number of larger cities to the south, there is nothing but mountains and forest to the north and east. Diz tells the party that the town’s population is approximately 5000 beings composed mostly of humans (around 80%) and halflings (10%). The remaining 10% is a mix of elves, half-elves, half-orcs, and dwarves.

At the gate the party learns that the annual fall street fair has begun. The guards at the gate are examining all who wish to enter and are requiring those who do enter to peace-bond their weapons; spellcasters are required to peace-bond their middle two fingers together and tie their spell-component bag shut.

All of the party’s weapons are peace-bonded and Darius has to peace-bond his fingers. Caleshorn lies to the guards at the gate when asked if he is a spellcaster, so he does not have his fingers peace-bonded. As a Paladin of Yondalla, Pax is not required to have her fingers peace-bonded.

Passing through the gate the party is in the Eastgate District on Eastgate way. Halflings dressed in bright colors crowd the street; smells of roasting meats, exotic spices, and cut flowers fill the air. There are a number of shops, carts and booths lining the street as well as jugglers and stages set up for plays; the halflings seem to be doing most of the selling and entertaining. There is a booth selling arcane scrolls; a halfling wearing a top hat and waistcoat is selling trained “pack apes” (only 400 gp per ape). There is an armor shop, run by a halfling. Although they don’t have anything that fits Darius’ needs (they only sell lighter armor sized for halfling s), the proprietor directs Darius to an armor shop in Chatterstreet Market run by the dwarf Shoomma.

While Darius, Paks and Diz continue to examine the shops, Couradil wanders off to watch one of the shows (his stupid cousin was in a play once) and Caleshorn joins in another show. Diz, Paks, and Darius find a halfling run weapon shop. They have some very nice wears and although nothing interests Paks or Darius (their dwarven made weapons are superior to any of the available weapons), Diz finds a pair of exquisitely constructed, magical nunchaku; the glowing nunchaku are caved in the shape of a fat monk. Diz asks if she can try them; the proprietor readily agrees and a pair of assistants (also halflings) carry out a heavy tower shield to use as a target. They look a little nervous as Diz prepares to attack the shield with the nunchaku, so Darius volunteers to hold the shield – the proprietor’s assistants are relieved. Diz takes a few practice swings and then strikes the shield a powerful triple blow; although Diz’s blows seriously dent the shield, Darius manages to hold it in place. Diz wants the nunchaku. The proprietor asks 2400 gp and Diz counters with an offer of 1500 gp; the proprietor isn’t willing to go that low. Paks offers to heal and/or cure disease any of them as part of the payment for the nunchaku; he aggress to sell the Nunchaku for 1800 gp if Paks will pay a visit to the Shrine of Yondalla in the halfling floating enclave. Paks, of course, agrees and Diz has her nunchaku (+1 Nunchaku, Daze 1/Day).

While Caleshorn is watching another show, he sees a halfling back away from the curtain at the rear of the stage – he seems frightened. Following the halfling is a half-man/half-rat creature. As the creature on stage moves to attack the halfling, Diz moves to protect him and other half-man/half-rat creatures and dire rats appear up and down the street attacking the crowd. The party attempts to free their peace-bonded weapons and moves to protect the crowd. Caleshorn, whose hands weren’t peace-bonded, magic missiles a dire rat, slaying it. Darius frees his axe and slay one of the half-man/half-rat creature; upon death the creature transforms into a man – wererats! While Caleshorn slays another dire rat with a second magic missile, another wererat leaps on stage to assist its companion with Diz. Diz slays this creature, but the original wererat – apparently the leader – continues to attack her. Darius slays a dire rat while Paks slays a wererat attacking one of the crowd. Couradil sees a dire rat rushing a halfling, and moves to intercept it; the dire rat attacks Couradil but he manages to slay it with his club.

The wererat leader disengages from Diz and disappears back through the curtains; Diz and Caleshorn give chase but the lose the creature in the warehouse district near Eastgate.

While Caleshorn and Diz give chase, Darius and Paks attend to the injured in the crowd, saving the life of one individual and tending minor wounds on others. Darius learns that this isn’t the first strange occurrence during the festival. There have been rumors of grizzly deaths in Southspur. Although no bodies have been found, several “murder sites” have been found covered in blood.

The town militia arrives and we tell them what has occurred; the patrol leader thanks us and recommends the Griffin Inn. He asks us to go to the inn so they can talk with us later.

On the way to the inn, Caleshorn speaks with a mad beggar with a sign that read, “The end of the town is coming.” The beggar says, “rats everywhere, all over the old bell tower.” Diz informs us that the bell tower is in the center of town at the junction of Eastgate Way, Southspur Street, and Old Fort Road.

The party reaches the inn where they take two rooms (2 gp per night per room, 4 beds per room). A man with yellow eyes in the inns common room makes a thieves cant sign to Caleshorn warning him to stay away while the cleric is with them. The town – and the thieves guild – seem to think Paks is a Cleric of Yondalla.

While in the common room, Jot speaks to Paks, “Make sure you all stick together, things are not what they appear. I need you alive for a little while longer.

The party decides to pay a visit to the Temple of Pelor. Couradil stays behind at the inn. The Cleric of Pelor sees Diz and indicates that she has been cursed with lycanthropy. He offers to attempt to remove the curse for 5 gp. After casting the spell, he recommends that Diz takes precautions during the next full moon, 10 days from now, when she will finally learn if she has been freed of the curse or not.

The party decides to head to the floating halfling enclave so Paks can pay her respects at the Shrine of Yondalla. The halflings won’t let Darius, Diz, or Couradil into the enclave – they are too large to for the halflings rafts. The halflings use a potion of reduce to allow Paks to visit the shrine. Caleshorn casts reduce on himself so that he can go with Paks.

The priestess, Dentheria, knows of Paks and asks for her help. She sent a party to investigate a region of evil – a great scar - to the north. Only 2 of the 30 she sent returned – and they were fatally wounded. Before the survivors died they told the priestess that there were many types of uncdead there; they also mentioned a word or a name – Gulthias.

The priestess asks for Paks help and says, “The Stargazing society is willing to offer you, Paks, membership if you clear up the problem.” Paks agrees and the priestess provides her with a map to find the area. It’s about a month’s travel from Brindinford through deep forest. There is a small town, Ossington, about halfway there where the party can re-supply. The priestess tells Paks that the evil returned about four months ago.

As evening falls, the party leaves the halflings and head for Shoomma’s shop in Chatterstreet Market. On the way Diz notices two people are following the party. Caleshorn slips off to the side and hides in the shadows while the party continues on; the individuals following the party pass Caleshorn without noticing him. Cal decides to attack and Diz moves to assist. The two thugs transform into half-men/half-rats – wererats again! The party slays the two wererats and recover a magical cloak (+1 Cloak of Resistance), a pair of magical bracers (+1 bracer of armor), and two potions (potion of non-detection, potion of reduce). Diz takes the bracers, Darius the cloak, Paks the potion of reduce and Caleshorn the potion of non-detection.

Darius and the party enter Shoomma’s shop and Darius introduces himself and his companions. After Darius and Shoomma exchange pleasantries ands tales of what has befallen them since entering the city, Darius asks Shoomma if she anything about what going on. She tells the party that the Captain of the Guard, Murdick Ford, has disappeared; he had recently visited Shoomma and was asking questions about local merchants being extorted. When the party mentions the bell tower, she says that she knew the old keeper, Revin. His son, Turvin, is the new keeper of the bell tower; she doesn’t know him. The party purchases the following: a set of full plate armor for Darius (1400 gp plus a masterwork scimitar), a set of full plate armor for Paks (2000 gp), a set of leather armor for Couradil (30 gp), and a set of studded leather for Caleshorn.

As the party prepares to leave, Shoomma asks Darius to stay awhile. The party sets off without him, but he catches up just a few minutes later. Apparently, he said something to upset her.

Before heading back to the inn, Diz wants to stop by the library. Its closed, but a light is on in one of the windows. Diz peaks in and its her mom – Jazlyin. She lets us in and we tell her what has been happening. She tells us that Gulthias led some type of cult and that he was a vampire – a very bad fellow. She warns us to stay clear of him for as long as possible.

When Darius asks if she has any books about the planes she says no, but she knows that Gheddon is fairly shut off from the planes; its very difficult to reach other planes from Gheddon and to reach Gheddon from other planes. Summoning creatures is possible, but it helps to make the area as like the home plane of the creature as possible.

Paks asks Jazlyin about her whistle, Night Caller, and she says that all she knows is that it is associated with Gulthias. The party leaves the library and head back to the inn to rest for the night.

The Speaker in Dreams, Day 2 Sixth Game Session

Brindinford

In the morning the party heads to the bell tower to see if they can learn anything. The tower is a six-story historic building of stone, wood, and metal bands. There are gargoyle statues on the towers battlements. A wooden walkway winds around the outside of the tower providing access to the different floors and the battlements.

The party knocks at the door on ground level; when there is no answer the party tries to open the door, but it is locked. The party decides to head to the battlements for a look around. Once there, a pair of gargoyles attack the party. Darius and Paks slay the first gargoyle and it falls from the battlements to the ground below, shattering. The second gargoyle takes flight to attack the party from the air. After a short battle, the party slays it.

After the battle, Diz and Cal climb up and look inside the tower’s bell chamber. They see the bells and gears, but no living creatures. The party heads down to try the door on the fourth level, but its locked. They continue on to the third level; it is also locked, but Cal manages to pick the lock. Darius brazenly opens the door and steps inside – and a set of runes on the floor blaze to life; Darius has set off a magical enervation trap. Darius manages to shrug off the spell and steps further into the tower. The rest off the party jump over the runes and avoid the trap. Exploring the third level, the party encounters and slays 10 dire rats. Instead of going back to the stairway, Darius chops a hole through the floor and the party jumps down to the second level. There the party slays three wererats and recovers 6000 sp and two gems, a 70 gp amber and a 800 gp topaz. The party also recovers a set of keys.

The party heads back up to the fourth level and unlocks the door with the keys they found. Darius – a little more carefully than last time - and the party step inside. The fourth floor is one large room open to the fifth floor above; it contains ropes, pulleys, and gear so that a single person can ring the tower’s bells. Up on one of the crossbeams stands the leader of the wererats – Squirm. He pulls out a scroll and reads from it; suddenly an alien land dwelling squid appears. The squid sprays a gaseous ink cloud that obscures all vision in the lower half of the room. Diz drinks a potion of levitation so that she can escape the ink cloud and reach Squirm. Jot telepathically speaks to Paks saying, “Just leave them.” Cal, who was close to the door, slips outside, and rushes to the top of the tower; once there he climbs up the outside to the top of the bell chamber. Darius tries to find and slay the squid while Paks tries to find the door. Meanwhile Diz is in the rafters fighting a pair of Squirm’s wererat followers; Squirm yells to the party, “Those who hear will get you.” Cal, standing in an archway of the bell tower, uses a scroll to cast Melf’s acid arrow spell on Squirm; the acid arrow hits, slaying him. Diz and Cal kill the other two wererats in the rafters while Paks finally makes it out the door. Once outside, Paks sees two wererats and an old man rushing up the stairs toward the party. Paks charges down the stairs and slays one of the wererats and Cal uses a magic missile spell to slay the old man. The other wererat flees. The alien squid suddenly disappears and Darius makes his way back out the doorway. Caleshorn chases the fleeing wererat and slays it with another magic missile. A crowd has begun to gather by Caleshorn; Diz safely jumps from the tower’s fourth floor in case Caleshorn needs aid.

The party recovers a +1 rapier, a set of masterwork thieves’ tools, and a potion of cat’s grace from Squirm’s body.

The town guard arrives and begins to question Cal about the death of Turvin – the old man Cal slew. Cal persuades them that he only did what was necessary – that Turvin was working with the band of wererats and posed a threat to the town.

The party decides to return to the Griffin Inn so that they can clean up – they are covered in alien squid ink. Once there they start the grimy business of removing the ink from their clothes, hair, skin, etc. Dzindra muses, "You know, I bet once we kill the head wererat, the curse will be broken. We may have already done that with Squirm, and Caleshorn and I might be fine already. On the other hand, there still seems to be a lot of suspicious, unaccounted for atrocities in this town. Particularly in that Warehouse District, where we were nearly ambushed earlier. I think it'd be best if we investigate what's going on here. I'm no sleuth, and the town guard already regards this as a turf war. But perhaps Caleshorn could use his great people skills to ask some questions, maybe even infiltrate the local thieves guild? Every city of this size has one. They've got to know what's going on."

Despite Diz’s hope that killing Squirm removed any chance of the curse affecting her or Caleshorn, the party proceeds to the Temple of Pelor to have High Priest Forgrim cast another remove curse spell on Cal and herself. After finishing at the temple, the party returns to the inn to rest for the night.

Back at the inn, Paks talk to the party about donating the 6000 sp that the party found in the Bell Tower to the repair of that building. She says, “Not only is it the "right" thing to do, but we really can spare that money, and it might get us the trust of the local folk, and more especially the local constabulary.” Darius agrees with Paks and is willing to donate his share. “After all,” he says, “I did chop a hole in the floor – even if it was to rid the town of the wererats.” Diz claps her hands, excited about how spartan and giving the party has become. "Donating the money will be a great idea. We can't let monsters deprive us of our treasured places." She smiles approvingly at Paks and Darius. Cal looks around to the others and nods... "I'll chip in.. Wouldn't hurt to not have the locals keeping too close an eye on me... Just hope I can get some better prices than I have been for what else I'll need.. But yeah.. that's a good call..

While at the inn Paks talks to Couradil about what he wants from life. She tries to persuade him that traveling with the party is too dangerous for him. He tells Paks, “I am tired of chicken farming. All I want is a quick death that has meaning.

Later that night, Paks examines the “box” we recovered from Nightscale for Cassiopeia. She doesn’t solve its mysteries, but she does discover a small depression on one side.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 3000 XP. Darius, Dzindra, and Paks advance to 6th level.

The Speaker in Dreams, Day 3 Seventh Game Session

Brindinford

In the morning the party visits Lieutenant Shella of the town guard. She is hung over and very unhappy about the damage to the bell tower - she played there as a child. The party tells her that they have come to donate 6000 sp to the “tower fund.” She is very appreciative.

The party spends a few hours in the market selling and trading before heading towards Southspur Street and the warehouse district.

As they make their way into the district, they are ambushed by five large gray skinned humanoids with matted black hair and no eyes; they are armed with crude battleaxes. Darius recognizes them from stories he heard as a child – they are grimlocks. The party slays them and a local shopkeeper tells us that there have been many dead bodies found in the immediate (100 or so yard radius) area. Investigating the area, the party locates a suspicious warehouse that seems to be in the center of the area where the dead bodies have been found.

Diz and Cal climb in through the window to investigate the warehouse. Darius has just followed them when the warehouse interior is hidden by magical darkness and the platform the Diz, Cal, and Darius are standing upon collapses throwing them all to the floor below. At the window, Paks calls out to the others so that they can gain their bearings. Out of the darkness, grimlocks attack. Cal kills one and then Diz slays her opponent. While Cal looks for the door, Diz and Darius stand back-to-back to fend off the last attacker. The grimlock, facing stiff resistance, flees. Cal finally escapes the area of darkness and, finding the warehouse door open, calls out to Diz and Darius and then heads outside – where he is ambushed by the grimlock that had fled. Cal was knocked unconscious and nearly slain, but the arrival of Paks and Diz scare off the attacker. Paks lays hands on Cal, reviving him while Diz chases after the grimlock.

While Diz chases the grimlock it changes shape and takes on the appearance of a normal human. Diz has chased the creature for five blocks when a portal suddenly opens between Diz and the grimlock. Two 25-foot long translucent purple worm-like creatures – wystes - appear out of the portal; clawed tentacles ring the creatures’ mouths. Diz, deciding discretion is the better part of valor, runs back in the direction of the party; the wystes give chase leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Upon reaching the party, the battle truly begins. One of the wystes grabs Paks and the other grabs Darius. Darius keep attacking the creature that holds him, but Paks, after a few failed attacks, tries to throw a potion of reduce down its throat. It’s a good idea, but a bad throw – she misses and the potion smashes on the ground below. Suddenly, Jot appears above the wyste holding Paks; he casts fear on the creature and it drops Paks to the ground below. Jot saved Paks!?! Paks regains her feet and with the help of Diz and Cal, slay the wyste. Then they turn their attention on the wyste holding Darius, and together the party slays the second wyste.

After the battle, an old woman living in one of the nearby buildings speaks to the party, “Thank you younglings, thank you for stopping those beats. Normally we wouldn’t need your help. Normally Alein - she’s the Champion of Heironeous – would take care of such things. I wonder where she is? The Shrine of Heironeous is only a few blocks from here.

When the town guard finally arrives they express their appreciation for our party’s help with the monstrous trouble the town has been having; they offer to obtain free rooms for us at the Stony Gaze Tavern in Eastgate. The party accepts and one of the guardsman shows the party to the inn. Once there the party meets Gell, a flamboyant halfling who is both the owner and bartender; Nankiy, an elven bard from Kray (he came her before the “disaster”); and Hargg the bouncer, a barbarian from a distant land. Caleshorn spends the evening talking with the quiet Hargg and manages to strike up a friendship.

The Speaker in Dreams, Day 4 Seventh Game Session

Brindinford

In the morning the party sets out for the Shrine of Heironeous. Once there, they find the entire area shrouded in mist. Suddenly, the party hears a woman’s voice calling out for help – and then it suddenly cuts off. Rushing into the mist the party comes upon the shrine and two crazed human males holding an unconscious young woman. One cultist yells, “She must be out of the way for the gate to open” and the other responds, “When the gate swings wide, the world will fall into the void.” When the cultists see us, they drop the girl and disappear into the mist. Paks and Darius rush to the fallen woman and wake her, upon which she says, “They have taken Alein.” Diz and Caleshorn attempt to find the cultists in the mist.

One of the cultists, shouting “the Blessed hears the voice of the Speaker in Dreams,” appears out of the mist and cast burning hands upon Paks and Darius. Paks moves towards the cultist as Diz appears out of the mist. Diz manages to stun her opponent and then knock him unconscious, capturing him. The other cultist casts color spray from above the party yelling, “When the bells toll, they will ring the end of time”; Darius shakes off the spell and counters with a blindly-aimed knife spray, killing the cultist. The party recovers a wand of color spray, a wand of burning hands, and six arcane scrolls (color spray x2, sleep x2, enlarge, and shield).

After the battle the party speaks with the young woman. They learn that her name is Torea and she is the junior paladin at the shrine. A group of cultists captured Alein while these two came after her. She recognizes one of them; he was at the Reality Wrinkle bookstore when she and Alein investigated a death that occurred there. They never did find out what had happened, but the body was covered with tiny bite marks. Torea gives us directions to the bookstore; she takes charge of the prisoner.

When the party enters the bookstore, things just do not seem right; the walls, bookcases, and floor appear to meet at angles that just don’t seem “right.” Behind the counter is an old man; the party attempts to question him, but he makes no sense – he sounds a little crazed - like one of the cultists. The party subdues him and moves into the bookstores backroom. An odd sound – almost like humming – is coming from behind the door to the right of the stairs. Upon opening the door, the party is attacked by a gibbering mouther. While Diz and Paks battled the gibbering mouther, a cultist sorcerer came down the stairs and cast a spell on Caleshorn – blinding him. Darius countered by successfully casting hold person on the cultist. After the party slew the gibbering mouther, they tied up both the cultist sorcerer and the shopkeeper and locked them in the closet where they had found the gibbering mouther. The party recovered a wand of light and a brooch of shielding.

The party ascended the stairs to the second level, which they find empty. As the party ascends the stairs to the third level, fog begins to roll down the stairs. Once the party reaches the third floor they are in a long hallway with three curtain doorways to the right side of the hall and a fourth doorway at the far end. Just before fog fills this level, the party sees another cult sorcerer through the fourth doorway and another humanoid figure – the Blessed – hanging upside down from the ceiling of the other chamber. Suddenly, a portal opens in the hallway between the party and the cultists and a wyste appears. While the Paks, Darius, and Diz fight and slay the wyste, Caleshorn casts a web spell into the room where the Blessed and the other cult sorcerer are. Meanwhile two other portals open; one disgorges another full-grown wyste while the second open in one of the side rooms. Suddenly, two baby wystes burst through the wall and attack. The battle is going poorly for the party and the new wyste is causing a lot of damage to the building so the party tries to retreat to the third floor; Paks, Diz, and Caleshorn retreat down the stairs with Darius bringing up the rear. On his way down the stairs Darius slays one of the baby wystes.

With a loud crash, the full-grown wyste smashes through the floor between the fourth and third level. While Paks, Diz, and Cal slay the second full-grown wyste, Darius slays the second baby wyste. Cal and Diz race back to the fourth floor where Cal casts burning hands onto the web he cast earlier killing the cult sorcerer and injuring the Blessed; Diz follows up Cal’s spell with a devastating attack on the Blessed, slaying her.

Not finding Alein on the fourth floor, Paks and Darius head for the basement followed by Diz and Caleshorn; upon reaching the basement, the party encounters another gibbering mouther and two more cult sorcerers. Darius slays the gibbering mouther while Paks smites evil and slays one of the sorcerers. Diz and Cal finish the other sorcerer while Paks frees Alein.

Alein thanks the party and heads off to inform the town guard and check on Torea.

The party recovers a wand of shocking grasp, a wand of magic missile, a ring of jump, a +1 ring of protection, a +1 morningstar, three sets of +1 bracers of armor, an application of dust of disappearance, a pair of slippers of spider climbing and four scrolls. The first scroll has hold person and summon nature’s ally II. The second scroll has shield and tongues. The third scroll has enlarge and summon monster I. The fourth scroll has mount and summon monster II. Unfortunately, only one spell from each scroll can be cast or scribed.

The party returns to the Stony Gaze Tavern to rest and recover from their wounds.

The Speaker in Dreams, Day 5 Seventh & Eighth Game Sessions

Brindinford

In gratitude for having defeated the wererats and the cultists and freeing Brindinford from their evil grasp, the town throws a feast for the party. Everyone the party has met in town attends the feast: Soomma the dwarven armorsmith; Gell, Nankiy, Hargg, and Kray from the Stony Gaze Tavern, Lieutenant Shella and other members of the town guard; Forgrim, the High Priest of Pelor; Alein and Torea, Paladins of Heironeous; and Flim and a few other members of the local thieves guild that Cal has met. Baron Euphemes II sends his sister, Eriana, to represent him at the celebration.

The celebration starts at sunset and goes late into the night. There is good food – roast boar – and plenty of mead and wine. The Baron’s sister as well as many of them merchants and common folk express their appreciation and toast the party. As the celebration ends, the party heads back to the inn to rest for the night.

On the way to the inn a tall blue-skinned woman with small horns – an ogre mage - steps from the shadows near the mouth of an alley and sarcastically says “Hello Heroes” as she blasts Caleshorn with a cone of cold. She flees into the alley and the party gives chase.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 3075 XP. Caleshorn advances to 6th level.

Moving deeper into the back alleys of Brindinford, the party quickly loses sight of their prey – the ogre mage. Searching for her, the party is ambushed again. The ogre mage is at the end an alley with two archers on the roofs of buildings on opposite sides of the alley. The grimlock assassin, Felgar, and a “Those Who Hear” cultist sorcerer attack from behind. Other assassins also attack from the shadows. Paks moves to attack the cultist. The cultist drinks a potion of fire breath and breaths on Paks; Paks kills the cultist. Darius attacks and wounds the ogre mage, but she casts a charm spell on Darius beguiling him; she asks Darius to heal her. Paks moves to attack Felgar. Darius casts a cure spell and heals the ogre mage. She then becomes gaseous as she flees the alley floor; she settles on a nearby roof and watches the battle. A cleric of Hextor - an infernal cleric – steps from another alley and summons a lemure, a devil from Baator. The lemure moves towards Darius. Paks strikes Felgar a mighty blow and decapitates her. Diz slays one of the assassins. Darius casts sword stream and destroys the lemure. Using her smite ability, Paks kills the cleric with a single blow. Diz destroys another of the assassins. As Diz and Caleshorn head for the rooftops, the archers and the ogre mage flee. Diz and Caleshorn each chase after one of the fleeing archers. Diz swiftly reaches her opponent and captures him. Caleshorn is closing on his opponent when the archer pulls out a set of pipes and plays a short tune; suddenly a pack of 30 dire rats surround Caleshorn. The archer escapes while Caleshorn fights his way free and returns to the party. In the meantime, Paks has slain the last human assassin.

The party recovers Felgar’s spellbook, another set of +1 bracers of armor, a rope of climbing, boots of elvenkind, ring of force shield, +1 ring of protection, +1 battleaxe, dust of tracelessness, a phylactery, and three vials of poison (giant wasp, shadow essence, death blade). The spellbook contains the following spells: change self, obscuring mist, spider climb, alter self, and darkness.

Caleshorn took Felgar’s spellbook, the ring of force shield, the dust of tracelessness, and the three vials of poison. Diz took the boots of elvenkind and the +1 ring of protection. Paks took the rope of climbing and Darius will hold the phylactery - until the party can determine what it does.

The party returns to the Stony Gaze Tavern to recover from their wounds and the celebration. During the night the party rest is disturbed by frightful dreams of “tolling bells” and “gates swinging wide”.

The Speaker In Dreams, Day 6 Eighth Game Session

Brindinford

The party is awakened early in the morning by herald’s trumpets and a town crier announcing that the baron will be speaking to his people. Many of the people on the streets outside the inn head for the baron’s residence to hear his speech. The party also decides to attend.

About half of the town has turned out to hear the baron’s speech. After approximately 15 minutes, the baron appears; he is a 6-foot tall human male with a well-trimmed beard. He is dressed in a white tunic with a purple cloak. There appears to another individual standing in the shadows behind the baron. The baron speaks in a flat emotionless voice:

“Good people of Brindinford, I address you today with a heavy heart, standing amid the chaos that has befallen our town. Lawlessness and disorder have reigned since this street fair began, and even the efforts of a heroic band of adventurers have not put an end to the madness. While we celebrated these heroes and feasted in their honor, assassins plotted to end their lives.

The guards of our fair city have been decimated. The streets are not safe to walk at night. Therefore, I am forced to call upon a new force of law, one that will restore order to Brindinford. Let it be recorded that I, Baron Euphemes the Second, have decreed this day these new edicts.

The street fair is over. All booths must be removed from Eastgate Way before sundown tonight. Any booths, carts, or wagons found on Eastgate Way at sundown will be destroyed.

The gates of the city are closed. No one shall enter of leave Brindinford until further notice.

The carrying of weapons in the city is prohibited. Anyone seen to be in the possession of a weapon will be arrested.

The temple of Pelor, whose god has not seen fit to defend our city, is closed, and its priests are declared outlaws. A warrant is hereby issued for the arrest of High Priest Forgrim of Pelor and Sun’s Champion Marith, as well as all acolytes who have served in the temple.

In order to maintain this new order in our fair city, I summon to duty all able-bodied citizens who have enrolled in the militia. They are to report to the barracks immediately.

Let the forces of lawlessness know that we will brook no disobedience of our law. Defiance will be punished by death, and justice will be executed without delay.

Our new Captain of the Guard will enforce these edicts.”

As the baron finishes speaking, a nine-foot tall, gaunt humanoid figure with a scorpion like tail appears on the rooftop of the tower and the sky darkens and a smell of ozone permeates the air.

As the crowd disperses they seemed stunned and fearful. The party decides to head carefully back to the inn. Shortly, the party hears trumpets and a town crier appears repeating the baron’s proclamation. While the crier is just an ordinary citizen of Brindinford, those escorting him resemble six-foot tall goblins with violet skin – barghests, devils from the lower planes.

On the way to the inn, the party comes upon two thieves sneaking into a second story window of a home. Diz and Caleshorn use the rope of climbing to follow the thieves in. Inside they find the thieves with an unconscious town guardsman tied up in a sack; the thieves are Crutch and Pip. Cal and Diz ask to meet the leader of the guild; they want to work with the thieves to help free Brindinford from the devils. The thieves agree to speak to their leader and will send a note to the party at the tavern. Diz and Cal also convince the thieves to leave the guardsman with them.

When they reach the tavern, the party finds the door closed and locked. The bouncer, Hargg, lets the party in and Gell, the halfling owner, tells Paks that the Shrine of Heironeous has been razed and that the Temple of Pelor is difficulty. He also thinks the halfling encampment may be in trouble.

Outside, the sky has continued to get darker and a constant drizzle has started to fall; lightning has also begun. Suddenly, a column of flame bursts through the golden dome of the Temple of Pelor; the pillar of flame continues to grow until it merges with the sky overhead.

A short time later Gell and Nankiy the Bard comes to our room; they tell us that they have heard the cities new enforcers are coming for us and that a creature in the river is attacking the halfling encampment. Nankiy leads us from our room and out of the inn through a secret passage into the sewers below the city. As we leave the inn, we hear the city guard at the front door.

Nankiy leads us through the sewers to the thieves’ guild. Once there, the leader of the guild admits the assassins who ambushed us in the alley after the celebration worked for the guild. He says, “It was just business.” He tells us that “the Speaker in Dreams” hired the assassins. The never saw the Speaker, but they were paid with a wererat whose body was filled with gold. The guild leader wants a truce and a pardon; he wants to see the Speaker and his associates defeated – their no good for business. In exchanges for the party’s word that we will not try to kill or arrest the guild members for their past crimes against us, the guild will help us get out of Brindinford. The party agrees and we are led through the sewers – blindfolded – to an exit just beyond the town’s eastern walls.

As the party make it’s way around the city to the halflings encampment, three coal black dogs with wisps of fire coming from their mouths – hellhounds – race after the party. The party easily defeats them and moves on.

At the river the party sees a 70-foot long black skinned creature with a long sinuous neck, an ovoid body, a long thin tail, and four flippers – a fiendish elasmosaurus – is destroying the halfling rafts and eating the halflings. Diz attempts to cross some of the remaining rafts to reach some halflings in the river and rescue them. Paks and Cal use their bows and Darius casts spiritual weapon. Diz is knocked from the raft into the water where she manages to dodge the elasmosaurus and strike it a stunning blow. Diz then rescues a few of the halflings while the rest of the party keeps the creature busy, and finally Diz and the party slay it.

The halflings are planning to seek sanctuary at the druid’s grove across the river; the party agrees to help the survivors across the river. At the grove the party meets the leaders of the circle, the druid, lady Enselle, and the ranger, Tier. The circle consists of six other druids and four more rangers. They agree to shelter the halflings and tell us that the evil in Brindinford is centered in two locales – the Temple of Pelor and the baron’s mansion. A gate to baator has been opened in the temple allowing the devils to enter Gheddon. The druids tell us that the gate is very unusual because Gheddon is a closed world – travel to and from the planes is very difficult. The druids say that they can get us back into the town; a gate exits from their circle, to a stand of old wood near the temple. The party rests for the night and heads into the city in the morning.

The Speaker In Dreams, Day 7 Ninth & tenth Game Sessions

Brindinford, Temple of Pelor

At the entrance to the temple the party finds the mirror used by High Priest Forgrim smashed; the surviving shards have images of Diz – not an image of a lycanthrope – locked in the mirror. The party goes through the main door and they see the pillar of flame rising through the shattered remnants of the temple dome. Standing near this infernal gate is the new Captain of the Guard – an osyluth. Darius and Paks head straight for the pillar of fire – to try and close the gate by channeling their divine power while Diz and the invisible Cal head around the perimeter of the chamber to keep the osyluth busy. Diz moves in to attack, but the osyluth uses its power of fear projection on Diz and she flees the temple. While the infernal power of the gate burns Paks and Darius, Darius and then Paks make their first attempts at closing it – but they both fail. The osyluth raises a wall of ice between them and the gate. Cal attacks the osyluth and the creature disappears – it was only a projection of the creature. While Paks and Darius attempt to break through the ice wall, the osyluth appears flying behind and above Paks and Darius, and captures Darius in a hemisphere of ice. While Darius attempt to break free of the hemisphere and Paks battles the osyluth, Caleshorn breaks through the wall of ice with a burning hands spell to reach Paks. The osyluth disappears again and Darius breaks free of the hemisphere. Paks and Darius break through the ice wall, and try to close the gate together, but fail. The osyluth creates another wall of ice between the party and the temple’s exit. As Darius and Paks try – and fail - to close the gate for a third time, the creature gates in another osyluth. The second osyluth creates a wall perpendicular to the first wall, so that Paks and Darius can’t coordinate their efforts to close the gate. While the osyluths attack, Caleshorn coordinates Paks and Darius attempt to close the gate – this time they succeed and the pillar of fire dissipates as the gate closes. One of the osyluths uses his fear projection on Cal and he also flees the temple. After a difficult battle, Paks and Darius destroy the two devils cleansing this plane of their existence. Shortly after the battle ends, Diz and Cal return to the temple.

Dzindra looks at Paks and Darius and lowers her head. "I'm so sorry I ran away. While I realize my cowardice was likely due to magical reasons, it is no excuse. It is obvious I still have far to go. Please accept my apology." Then she asks Darius, "By the way, I've been meaning to ask you. When my back was turned in that alleyway fight, I could have sworn the giant blue lady asked you to heal her. And I thought I heard you do so. Why on Gheddon would you have done that?"

Game Note: The Party is awarded 4350 XP. Darius, Dzindra, and Paks advance to 7th level.

The party continues to explore the Temple of Pelor. In one room they find a small red-skinned creature with bat like wings – an imp, another devil from baator. Jot suddenly appears and gleefully attacks the creature – devils being a demons hated foe – and slays it.

Heading upstairs in the southern wing, the party encounters two clerics of Hextor. The party slays one and captures the other – a female named Farji - after a short battle. The strip her of all her gear and tie her up. She tells the party that their leader is Daros Hellseeker and that he is in the other wing of the temple. The party recovers a +1 dire flail and a mighty composite longbow adjusted for a +2 strength bonus. The party drags their prisoner back down to the main temple and throws her in the pit while they go after Daros.

The lower level of the temple contains nothing interesting and the party ascends to the second floor looking for Daros. Upstairs they find a door leading to a single chamber; opening the door the party sees a creature they take for Daros standing behind two barghests. Daros is a tiefling, a half-fiend; he has large ram-like horns jutting from his head, the rectangular pupils of a goat’s eyes, and goat-like legs ending in cloven hooves. His black half-plate armor bears the symbol of Hextor. Diz moves into the room along the front wall staying away from Daros and his barghests, when she is suddenly attacked by two invisible barghests. Cal moves to help Diz and Paks moves to attack one the Barghests between her and Daros. Diz and Cal kill one of the barghests that attacked Diz; Paks attacks one of the two in front of Daros dispelling the two illusionary barghests. Darius moves and attacks Daros; another cleric of Hextor appears to assist Daros. The party finally manages to slay the cleric, then Daros, and finally the remaining barghest. We find High Priest Forgrim hiding under the bed in the room; he heals our wounds and tells us that Daros is not the Speaker in Dreams – he was just a puppet.

The party recovers a +1 shock heavy flail and a potion of levitate.

Leaving the prisoners in Forgrim’s hands, the party heads for the baron’s manor. The baron’s manor house is inside a walled compound. The baron, his sister, her husband, and their four children live in the manor.

When the party arrives at the gate leading into the baron’s compound, the guards just let the party enter. They are not happy with the baron and know we have been working to help the city.

Once the party reaches the manor house, Caleshorn knocks at the door and the maid lets us in; she leads us to the great hall to see the baron. Caleshorn cast invisibility on himself on the way to the hall. When we enter the hall, the baron is seated on his throne; Paks and Darius walk straight towards the baron. He greets them and thanks them for their assistance; he tells us our services are no longer needed and suggests we leave the city. We refuse.

Diz’s mother appears from behind the throne and says hello to Diz and the party; Diz looks like she is in shock. Her mother levitates up from the floor and says to Diz that they really should have left the city. Diz finally shakes it off and say, “You're not my mother.” Her mother laughs and the illusion fades revealing a mind flayer. He says, “I am Ghaerleth Axom and if I had not been betrayed by Cassiopeia I would still be standing in the illithiad city.

As the party moves to attack the mind flayer, the ogre mage who charmed Darius appears and commands Darius to get the baron to safety. Darius moves forward to escort the baron from the great hall while Diz moves to attack the ogre mage. Paks uses her bow against the mind flayer while Cal casts a spell. The mind flayer shakes off the attacks and descends to the floor to strike Cal with one of its tentacles, there is a flash of light and Cal is gone – plane shifted to somewhere. Diz kills the ogre mage, breaking the charm spell on Darius. As Darius and Diz moves to join Paks, the mind flayer levitates up to a balcony over looking the great hall and says, “Cassiopeia summoned the great machine. She helped them open the way to the planes and then cut the gates to the other parts of Gheddon.” As he finishes speaking, he hits Paks, Diz, and Darius with a mind blast. Paks and Diz succumb to its mind-numbing, paralyzing effects, but Darius manages to shake it off and cast a spell that summoned a dire badger. The mind flayer managed to levitate off the balcony before the dire badger could attack. The mind flayer tries another mind blast, but Darius withstands it and returns fire with his crossbow. Darius and the mind flayer trade a few more volleys before the mind flayer, frustrated, descends to attack Darius in melee. It attempts to grab Darius with his tentacles, but fails. Darius finally slays the creature with his waraxe.

With the creatures’ death, Paks and Diz shake off the effects its mind blast. Baron Euphemes shakes of the illithids mind control and summons the guards. He thanks the party for their assistance and is sorry for their loss – Caleshorn.

Dzindra hugs Darius, thanking him profusely for saving her and Pak's life. She is really shaken up by her near-death experience. Twice in Brindinford she was easily rendered inoperative - once by fear and once by a stunning attack. Diz is very upset over this and vows to do better in the future.

Then she sighs, and says, "Before we head out of the area, I'd like to visit Beaufort one more time. I need to know whether we actually spoke to my mother or not in the library. I think now it was the Speaker. It is also time to ask her about the Box."

Diz thinks some more, and gasps, "Poor Caleshorn! We never got around to healing him of his lycanthrope! What will become of him?"

The party recovered a potion of clairaudience/clairvoyance, 2100 gp, a ruby ring worth 4000 gp, and a silver amulet with a bloodstone worth 700 gp.

Before the remaining party members left the city they sold some of their excess gear. The party sold Squirm's +1 rapier, a +1 battleaxe, the Blessed's +1 morningstar, a +1 morningstar that glowed with a faint wintergreen light, a +1 dire flail, four sets of +1 bracers of armor, Belak's wand of entanglement (10 charges), a druidic scroll, entangle, and two arcane scrolls of shield. The party received 13620 gp, 7 sp, and 5 cp for the sold items.

Game Note: The Party is awarded 2450 XP. Each member also receives 4422 gp, 6 sp, and 4 cp. Caleshorn advances to 7th level.

Amid cheers of victory and warm praise and gratitude, the three remaining companions set forth into the northern forests from Brindinford. It takes only two days for the silent solitude of the road to settle in on the party, contrasting so vividly with their recent experiences in the city. And never before has the group been so small. Cal is gone, and the chicken farmer remains in Diz's hometown.. perhaps finally realizing that he could not follow where our heroes’ path now heads. Jot has disappeared as well, and also gone is the constant feel of being watched that had been ever-present in Brindinford. No one watches the party here.

Thoughts float back to older companions.. Shaidorol, Erky.. would they have taken this silent road into ever-deepening shadow? At times the only sound is of the dirt, brittle from the morning frost, crunching under Darius's heavy tread. This quiet gives plenty of time for reflection.. and plenty of time for Paks to wonder if her faith will be enough to stop the being which caused the existence of the Gulthias Tree to begin with.

It is four weeks that the trio march forward along the winding dirt road, surrounded on all sides by a forest colored in deep autumn hues. The leaves are only just beginning to fall, so the road remains dark, shaded over by a thick swirl of orange, gold and brown canopy. Food supplies are now only a few days' worth, as was expected, for the village of Ossington should be near. So why is the forest yet so still, and where are the other caravans that should have dotted this road?