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Recap 6 (Feb 26th, 2002)

After a lot of searchin' , we found a way into the remainder of the slaver fort's basement by divin’ in and swimmin’ like rats though the underground stream in the prison area. The humiliation I put up with... We came out in a decrepit old wizard's laboratory, complete with busted up potion bottles and a pentagram drawn on the floor. Right when we get in we had to start fightin’ off a swarm of these nasty things called stirges, which are basically giant furry bats with long beaks that they stick inside yer body and start suckin’ out yer blood. We had to go back in the water to drowned them, tryin’ to get them off our bodies. I don't want to talk about it. Then we went back into the laboratory, and after I stood around while everyone poked through the trash and Lashtal was finally satifisfied that every goddamn book on the shelves were too damn old and moldy to be read, we headed down a sloped corridor to the east.

At the bottom, we found a really weird cavern, lit by an eerie green light and filled with these giant walkin’ mushrooms, which were actually source of the screechin’. Whenever you get near these things, they let off an awful noise. We didn't get to check the cavern out too carefully, 'cause some of the party was securin’ the northern end and they found a door hidden behind a ton of spider-webs.

Well, of course, clearin’ out the webs attracted a bunch of spiders, as big as yer head, and then "daddy" came out, as big as a horse and three times as wide. While we were fightin’ them, "mommy" snuck up behind us, too, so it was a big fight. I got some damn good blows in, I can tell you that.

Arkospixi got the door open after dealin’ with a weird puzzle, and we went into the room. In there we found a crossbow and a quiver of bolts on a pedestal behind a glass case. Turns out the crossbow was a gift to the wizard Kurgan from some gnomes from a place called Rhendia. Dunno what Kurgan, Balin, & company did for the gnomes, but apparently they were impressed enough to make them a special crossbow that holds two bolts at once, which lets you fire twice as fast. Pretty impressive workmanship, and the bolts that went with it were nice too. Venetto took the crossbow. And I'm ok with that. We now knew we were in a hideout of Kurgan's, one of the member's of Balin's party, and since some of us were interested in what had happened to them, especially Flint Fireforge, things were lookin’ pretty good.

We moved on, cuttin’ through the spider-webs that filled the corridors, passed some doors that we figured we'd come back to, crawled through some crumblin’ walls and saw the back of a statue. Well, we knew we were in a wizard's lair, and we remembered what happened back in Cervantes' cave in the swamp, so we figured the statue was trouble, and we weren't ready to deal with it just yet, so we turned back. Not that I wasn't ready to fight. I just don't see the point in some meaningless battle with some blasted wizard's trap. Some of us started workin’ on the door while I went back to see if we couldn't burn out a particularly thick bit of spider webs where we were pretty sure it was the main spider nest.

What happened next happened real quick: a bunch of dirty, mostly naked warriors, men and women, came chargin’ down the corridor, wavin’ weapons. Leento snagged almost all of them with his crazy "summon plant roots" spell or whatever it is, and then some guys in robes jumped out. Next thing we know, half the party is layin’ on the ground, crisp as orc-fried mutton.

Well, the rest of us rallied a bit, and then one of these warrior guys shouts out "Hear me, my people! Throw off your chains!" or somethin’ corny like that and suddenly the naked humans are on our side. After a lot more fightin’ we took out the wizards. Their leader must've gotten scared when he saw me chargin’ after him, though, cause he took off real fast, leavin’ even his clothes behind. The warrior guy who shouted before, a crazy bastard as tall as Leento, named Malouf, smashed up all the wizards' stuff before we could get a look at any of it. We did find a scroll that told us that the wizards had a deal with Vasper that if they killed us they could use some of the Magician Guild's resources.

Well, we talked with the primitives, and found out that there was a whole tribe of them charmed by the wizards and used as slaves. I guess in their society they had a strong feelin’ about the place of men (and it wasn't a very nice place), and Venetto definitely got his feathers rubbed the wrong way, but eventually we agreed to help them out. So we quickly finished up our search of Kurgan's hideout, and found a journal describin’ his last days, and a little bit about the rest of Balin's party, but nothing about Fireforge. Lashtal, of course, got all interested in some weird lookin' jade disc that was also on the desk, so of course we spent a few minutes coolin’ our heels while she went through all the wizards notes and books. The journal said that the rope we found in Kurgan's bedroom was important, so we took that, too. Over in the spider's nest we found a good suit of scale mail, but it was human-sized, so Venetto took that, too.

Leavin’ the fort we saw a nasty lookin’ monster with huge wings startin’ to fly away. Snow and some of the barbarians ran after it and dragged it down, and the rest of us stabbed at it while they held it. It turned out that only our magical weapons could penetrate its animated stone hide, though. Is it too much to ask that a person can just get into a plain sensible fight without havin’ to deal with wizards and livin’ stone monsters and what have you? On its corpse was another scroll, this one sayin’ that whatever the wizards were plannin’ for the barbarians was gonna happen soon, so we had to hurry.

We traveled east back towards Straub's Stronghold. A couple days into our journey we found ourselves surrounded by a strange fog. Leento didn't like the looks of it at all, and it made the barbarians real nervous. Even I could tell that somethin’ wasn't right about it. After marchin’ through the fog for almost an hour, we saw this really tall figure, wearin’ flowin’ robes and a strange, jagged helmet cross our party's path and then disappear back into the fog. A few minutes later, he and another just like him stepped out again, and pointed their crossbows at us. But the crossbows didn't shoot normal bolts, they shot weird bolts of energy, a lot like the sort of stuff Raistlin used to throw around. It was a really rough fight, but eventually I (or maybe it was Lashtal with a lucky stike of her little dagger, I'm not sure since it was a whole bunch of us poundin’ on the one guy...) managed to crack one of their helmets open. Black liquid poured all over, and some weird lookin’ squid-thing jumped out and immediately burrowed into the ground.

Just then, the other one retreated as a group of Knights of Phantar approached. The knights tried to dig up the squid-thing, but couldn't find it.

The knights requested (demanded?) that we go back with them to Roesh, and we needed supplies in town (and I was happy for a chance at a warm tavern and some good ale) so we went along without a fuss. We were taken to a Magistrate Batron, who told us that whatever these fog knights are, they're a big deal and Lord Phantar is spendin’ a lot of effort tryin’ to put a stop to them. They were very impressed that we took one down, (Hah! Between this and the manticore, I'm gonna be a legend around here in no time!) but told us if we ever managed to do it again that we should grab the squid, as that is key to figurin’ out what they are about. They also told us to not try to do it again unless we had to, cause these guys sometimes show up in groups of 6, and frankly some of the guys in the group (Not me, though. In fact, I bet without the others to worry about, I could've taken out the lot of them myself) had a rough enough time with just the two and a small horde of barbarians on our side. Then they gave us some gifts, and it was damn embarrassin’ havin’ to stand around while they were puttin’ silver necklaces on the elves and handin’ out coins like it was B'Varan's Day. We used most of the coins to pay off a good chunk of the remainin’ debt we owed to the Temple of Tyr for revivin’ that no good traitorous magician dog, Raistlin. We then met up with Lashtal's bookworm friend Halia, who was nice enough to identify some of the booty we'd picked up. She couldn't tell us anythin’ more about the jade disc or the rope, though, and we didn't want her to keep the stuff for a while to research. We also didn't think it would be smart to tell her exactly where we were headed, because in the end that led to Vasper, a guild mage, and since Halia is also a member of the guild, we didn't know where the mage's loyalties really were.

So we continued on our trek, followed the trail past Straub's stronghold and to the north. I ended up takin' night watches with Malouf along the way. He's a good kid, a little naïve and also a little wacky, like all the tall folk, but he's a good guy, and I know he's good in a fight. Eventually we made it to Nara Forest. There we ran into more of the blasted elves that seem to be poppin’ up everywhere. These elves were loyal to Morwyn, not Erdrick, or somethin’. As if anyone can be bothered with elf politics. They had us surrounded, and kicked us back out of the woods. I would've fought the pointy eared bastards, myself, but we had the captive barbarians to think of.

So we circled around Nara Forest, plannin’ on comin’ up the back way, but then that night the elves came out while I was on watch and said they'd changed their little minds, and now we could go through the woods. I guess somethin’ we said about the wizard-slavers had gotten their attention... oh yeah, it was somethin’ about the "moonie paths" that was mentioned in one of the scrolls. They gave me a key that felt like it was made out of ice and said it would help against the wizards.

So we got escorted through the forest, and the elves led us to the path up into the Hessiac mountains where the wizards were. There were two guard towers, and two mineshaft tunnels that led deeper into the slave pits, but we didn't see anyone. I was ready to just charge in, but everyone else had to sit around and talk it out for 20 minutes before comin’ to the same damn conclusion. So we charged, splittin’ the group into two, each headin’ for a different entrance. Some of the tail end of one group caught a bit of a fireblast from one of the towers, but we made it in ok.

We cleared out the mines, fightin’ a bunch of wizard guards and more of the stone gargoyle things. I didn't keep track of how many I hacked up, but it was plenty. We met up with the other group and we all went down a poorly made mechanical lift, where we had to hack up more wizards and gargs. At this point everyone was complainin’ about how hot it was, but I didn't feel any of it. We walked down a corridor and saw a whole league of the wizards all bound together in some sort of communal spell thing, with all of the primitives layin’ unconscious on the floor. Behind everyone was this huge fiery creature with nasty lookin’ glowin’ red eyes. Just a giant livin’ flame, really. Well, I don't know what everyone else did at this point, but I walked up to the big flamin’ thing, knockin' a few wizards over on my way there, pulled out my axe, and I killed it.

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