Evander Smith-The Dwarven Forges Part the Last

“There you are,” said Evander.

“Where were you guys? I tried calling you on the stone but you didn’t respond,” said Rothus.

“No you didn’t, we tried to talk to you with the stone but you didn’t answer,” said Evander.

“But I did call you."

“No, we called you.”

“No I called you.”

“Look, we both called each other. What happened to you?”

Rothus looks around and pulls his friends aside. “Look first thing you need to know is that I am not crazy,” said Rothus.

“Ok,” said Evander. But I’m pretty sure that’s what a crazy person would say.

“Well I was following Aeryn, but she went into a library, and all the books were in Dwarven so I couldn’t read them and it was reaaaly boring. So I decided to go exploring, and then I got lost and couldn’t find my way back but I found a locked door. I tried the handle and the door was open so I decided to just take a quick look around. But the room was dark, not even the amulet could see in it. So I took a step in to investigate when the door suddenly closed behind me, I have no idea how, must have been a trap, but I didn’t see any. Anyway, I felt the wall and walked all the way around the room, but when I got back to the first wall there was no door, it was just gone. So I kept wandering around and then I saw my mother. She asked why we hadn’t returned and that my older sisters have married and that Zeil joined the militia,” said Rothus.

“You what?” asked Evander. Yep, he’s lost it.

“I saw my mother who told me how Tarenvale has changed,” said Rothus. “I really think it’s time that we go back,” said Rothus.

“Well we haven’t gotten out much,” said Evander. “Right now you're in a cave, and the time before that it was a tree.”

“Lily, when was the last time you wrote home?” asked Rothus.

“About a week ago,” said Lilith. Before Rothus can inquire further a Dwarf in a white robe beckons the quartet of friends. He leads them to the Library where they find Aeryn.

Evander Smith-The Dwarven Forges Part the Second

“Where do you think she’s going?” asks Rothus. Evander just shrugs his shoulders. “I’m going to follow her,” said Rothus sneaking after Aeryn. Evander decided to stay behind and keep an eye on Lilith and Travis.

“Did you win?” said Lilith as she begins to stir.

“Win what?” asked Evander.

“I’m hungry,” said Lilith groggily.

“Here have some food,” said Evander putting a plate in front of her. Travis begins to stir as well. “Ah, awake I see,” said Evander.

“Stop yelling at me,” said Travis. “And tell those Dwarves to quit pounding in my head.”

“One, I’m not yelling, and two this is their forge so they can pound as much as they want,” said Evander. “Here have some food.”

“I told you to stop yelling,” said Travis beginning to eat something.

“Hey, where are Aeryn and Rothus?” asks Lilith.

“Dunno. A Dwarf came and Aeryn followed, and the Rothus followed Aeryn,” said Evander.

“Hey, where are you guys?” asked Lilith speaking into the communication stone.

“SHHHHH! This is a library!” said Aeryn.

“Sorry, I didn’t know where you were,” said Lilith. “What about you Rothus?” asked Lilith. “Rothus? … Hello? … Guys, Rothus isn’t answering,” said Lilith.

“He probably put his communication stone some place quiet while he sneaks around,” said Evander.

“Well, we should try to find him and keep him from getting into trouble,” said Lilith.

“Alright,” said Evander. Lilith and Evander get a Dwarven guide and begin searching for Rothus. After about ten minutes of searching Lilith and Evander split up to cover more ground. Twenty minutes later Evander finally finds Rothus.

Evander Smith-The Dwarven Forges Part the First

The forges contained dozens of Dwarves, working on as many forges. “Well, here we be, mah clans anscestrial home. Mek yer selves at home,” said Durn leaving the stunned visitors to there own devices.

“I’m hungry,” said Rothus.

“Let’s go get something to eat then,” said Aeryn beginning to look for a kitchen with Rothus. As they went in search of food, Travis spotted Dwarves gathered around a table drinking and wandered over. For her own reasons Lilith followed to see what he was up to. Evander wandered over to a forge.

“Need any help?” Evander asked a Dwarf.

“Hmm. Alright, let’s see what ya got laddie,” said the Dwarf. And so Evander began working. The Dwarves told him tips and tricks to work metal better. During this time Evander tried to find out information about the bracer that he is seeking. Unfortunately he got distracted by a beard fire and how to improve his technique.

“Hey Evan, we got food,” said Rothus from across the room about an hour later.

“If you will excuse me, my friends are calling,” said Evander.

“Go on Laddie, we can handle it from here,” said on of the Dwarves teaching Evander.

“So what have you found out about the bracer?” asked Evander rejoining his friends. “And what happened to Lily and Travis?” as those two where passed out at the table, empty tankards everywhere.

“Don’t know,” said Rothus. “As for the bracer we know its not in the kitchen,” he concluded.

“What do we know about the bracer?” asked Aeryn.

“It says 'Evander' on it,” said Rothus trying to be funny. Aeryn and Evander rolled there eyes at the comment.

“I don’t think so,” said Evander. They continued eating, discussing what they know about the bracer and realize that they know nothing other than it’s a bracer. After they finish there meal a Dwarf in a white robe beckons to Aeryn. She gets up and begins following the Dwarf.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 40 [D-822]

Mountains of Iregor, trapped in the Dwarven tunnels:

The total darkness of the room weakens as sunlight floods in to reveal a farm. Slowly, Mother fades into view. Uh oh, I’m hallucinating. How long have I been in here?! “Where have you been?” she asks.

“I’ve been training with a group,” I answer.

“So much has changed. Zeil has joined up with the militia and is a proud soldier. Odette, Miriam and Cynthia have all gotten married!” I listen and look around the room. The Karadrid farm presents itself, almost as I remember it. There are some changes, though. The buildings have been repaired and the wagon by the barn is definitely new, but for the most part it is home, sweet home. “When will you be back in Tarenvale?”

“I don’t know. They told us that we would return eventually,” I shamefully reply. I get a very strong urge. I need to go back.

“Who are they?” she asks.

“Well, you remember Roran?”

“Not really.... Was he Dalton’s apprentice?”

“Yeah! He led us out of Tarenvale to meet with some people in a camp far away. We passed Newport, crossed the Great River and went through a city made of glitter. What was it called? I can’t remember, it’s been too long since we were there.”

“It has been too long, indeed,” she notes.

“They have trained us, and now we are helping them out as payment. The oracle says that eventually we will return, but that right now we have other business. We have a great destiny to bring back an old kingdom. See, there are these stones we must find, in order to gain some power--” At that moment, the whole scene fades, even the magical blackness that preceded it. The door I had been searching for is right in front of me. I walk out, confused.

“Rothus!” Evan shouts. Oh, hey. They are searching for me!

“Evan! I’m over here!” I cry out. Eventually we meet up and we both smile. There is a Dwarf with him, presumably his guide in the tunnels. They lead me back up to the forges. “Why didn’t you respond to me calls on the communication stone?” Evan asks.

“Wait just one moment. You didn’t reply to my calls!” I correct. We argue a few moments trying to figure it out, but have no answer.

When we get back to the forges I pull Evan and aside and tell him about my experience in the room. He is as confused as I am. This is very, very odd. I ask Lily if I can use one of her envelopes to write a letter home. I must go back home. She agrees to let me have a sheet. I’ll write a letter and send it off as soon as I can. Then, we’ll head back to Tarenvale the moment I can persuade the group.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 39 [D-822]

Mountains of Iregor, Dwarven forges:

Durn leaves us to our own devices as he wanders away. Such a trusting fool. We stand in awe for a while at the fact that these are real, live Dwarves!! They are working on forging weapons and armor, for some unknown purpose. Do they sell them? Or is a war coming? Or maybe it is crazy dangerous down here? Whatever the reason, Evan quickly walks up to an empty anvil and begins working on a project.

The other smiths immediately laugh and turn to him. They tell him he’s doing it wrong and share their advice, the scene devolving into a cacophony of voices and hammer strikes. Travis decides it’s been too long since he’s had a drink, and quickly goes to find one. He finds many barrels of ale within easy reach. Taking a mug, he fills it and begins drinking away. Some Dwarves sit down to join him, making a ruckus. To our surprise, Lily joins in as well!

Aeryn and I search for food, intending to replenish our rations. We find a kitchen with food stores of bread, meat, mushrooms and some cheese! Aeryn says the mushrooms are all edible. There are only a few Dwarves in here, so we find an alcove where I can stuff the food into our backpack.

One of the cooks turns to us. Then he approaches and asks us what we are doing. I tell them that Durn told me to collect some food stuffs. He sees through the lie, and says, “If you’re hungry, you should have just asked! We got plenty of food.” Sweet! We can remember this place a spot to replenish our rations whenever we need to.

We step out of the kitchen with a selection of food to share with the rest of our group, they must be as hungry as we are. We find Lily and Travis passed out from all the alcohol. Evan is chatting up the Dwarves, getting to be good friends.

Aeryn asks if there is a library, or written records somewhere. They give only a cryptic response, leaving us standing there. I guess there isn’t a library after all.

Some time passes and a Dwarf man in white robes approaches Aeryn. Without speaking, he leads her somewhere. Well, I need to know where they are going! I get up to follow and find them going down many twisting hallways. I stay just a turn behind, otherwise I’d get lost down here.

They end their journey at a large door. When the white-robed Dwarf opens the door, it leads to a room full of scrolls, texts and tomes. Thousands of books, all written in Dwarven. Yay. I’ll only be able to look at the pictures. Aeryn’s guide walks away and comes back with a large tome. It is a codex that has both Dwarven tongue and Common tongue, side by side. Yay. Now we can translate Dwarven text at a super slow speed. Yippie. I don’t want to site here for eternity, I want to get moving and find that bracer and get back to town. I guess I’d better head back to the forges.

There really are a lot of passages down here. Too many to keep track of. Okay, I’m definitely lost. I turn around and walk back toward the library. I suppose I can help Aeryn until she is guided back to the forges. Where was the library, again? Frak.

I take a quick survey of the area. There are many doors, and no people. I knock on a door. No answer. Wait, if no one is here, then i can do whatever I like! There’s definitely something behind these doors. No one goes through the trouble of digging out a room, put a door on it and then just walk away without putting something in the room. I try the handle and find that it is locked. Even better! If they locked it, there will be something worth stealling! I quickly pick the lock and open the door. In the room I see darkness. Odd, my amulet should pierce any natural darkness with ease, so this is something peculiar indeed. I strike my flint and steel several times, seeing that it does not penetrate the darkness, either. I dare not touch it. Maybe with a stick...

A chuckle echoes in the caverns. So there is someone here! “Greetings! Can you tell me where Durn is?” I ask. That is the moment I get shoved from behind, launching me into the dark room. The door slams behind me! Awww, Erastil! I immediately call Evan on the stone of communication to let him know that I have become trapped in a room between the forges and the library. There is no response. I call out to all of the party. Again, I get know response. Uh oh.

Well, The first thing is to stay calm. I’ll figure out how big this place is and how many doors it has. I find a wall and drag my hand along it, tracing the floor plan of the room in my mind. It seems to be one hundred feet long by one hundred feet wide without any doors. That can’t be right. Where is the door I came through? It was right here! How does a door turn to solid stone?!

The Adventures of Rothus, page 38 [D-822]

Mountains of Iregor, cave of traps, sliding staircase:

I’m at the end of my rope (literally) and suspect that I am still far from the bottom of the sliding, spiral staircase. I want to know how far from the bottom I am, but the only idea I have is to drop an item and listen to it fall. I don’t want to drop any of my gear, though. I call up to Evan and tell him to kick down a small stone. A few moments later, a human skull slides past me! Ahhh! Wait, is that the “stone” Evan kicked? I listen, but it only fades away. There is no thud or smashing noise. Damn, this is really deep!

Travis suddenly slides into me, smashing me free of my grip on the rope!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! 
 
haa....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

We both slide down screaming to the pool at the bottom. And we find Lotech alive! I report back to Evan that it seems safe to slide down into the pool. He, Lily and Aeryn descend to join us.

“Have we found the bracer yet?” Lily asks the group.

“No, they’re not around here,” we answer. This room appears simple. There is the pool, the staircase and a floor that rises above the level of the water, forming a sort of shore. But there isn’t a doorway anywhere. I hope this isn’t a dead end, forcing us to try and climb all the way back up.

Aeryn dives under the water and searches around for a bit. She jumps back up, announcing that she found route under the surface of the water! It is a carved hole large enough for us to pass through, though Evan barely fits. There are no traps on this hole, but it does go on for a ways. Evan leads us through, into a large room with a shore. We climb out of the water and look at the three passages in front of us. None seem to be particularly special and none appear to be trapped.

Without any way of making a clear decision, Evan forgoes choice and let his quarterstaff decide. He sets it vertically and lets go, watching it fall toward one of the three portals. It lands, pointing to the right-most passage. We wait for the rest of the party to catch up and then go down the pathway. It leads us to some stairs leading down. Lily wants to wait and dry our clothes, which are soaked through. Whatever, they can’t stay wet forever, can they?

Several hundred feet down these stairs, we suddenly hear a loud metal object tumbling down the stairs above us! We all step to a side hoping to dodge the mystery object. It rolls right past us, so close that Evan is able to catch hold of a piece of it. It’s a foot! The footed thing yells at us, but I can’t understand a word with such a heavy accent! Evan speaks in another language, enraging the thing, which now seems to be a short, stocky human. As the stranger reaches for his axe, Evan grabs the weapon and holds it. “Who are you? You are in my cave!” he states.

“I am Travis Neos. Who are you?” Travis quickly replies.

We tell him that the dragon gave us permission to enter. “The dragon is still out there, then?” he asks. We explain to him that indeed Iregor is there. The stranger seems to calm down after hearing the news, so Evan gives the axe back to him. He introduces himself as Durn the Dwarf, and we in turn give him our names.

Lily asks him as to when was the last time he saw an Elf or Half-Elf. He saw a Half-Elf fifty years ago, but it has been over one hundred and fifty years since he saw a full Elf. He’s been alive for over 150 years? He goes on to say that he is nearly two hundred years old, but as he speaks, his speech gets more and more slurred. Evan is the only one in the party who understands his words. “Do you know how often my father got drunk in the forge?” he explained.

“Ahh! Your father was a smith?!” says Durn, excitedly. He hands some ale to Evan, who accepts it and drinks it after a moment. He seems to not enjoy it, and Durn seems to not notice.

Durn has now forgetten our earlier conversation, so it’s easy to convince him that he was about to bring us to his clan’s leader. He leads us down confusing twists and turns for several minutes, until we are all thoroughly lost. We come around the last turn and enter a huge chamber. It is carved to fit dozens of forges, each with anvils manned by dozens of smiths.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the Last

“Thanks,” rasped Evander coughing a few times.

“You're welcome laddie,” said Durn.

“Okay, now take us to your clan,” said Aeryn.

“Wha, I don’ be rememberin' agreein' to tha'!” said Durn.

“But you promised,” said Aeryn putting on the sweet girl act.

“Well, I supposin' I did. Follow me,” said Durn heading down the stairs. After a few hours of twisting turning passageways, the smell of soot began to permeate the air. They entered a huge chamber filled with dozens of Dwarves all working around forges. “Welcome to mah clan's Home,” said Durn.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the Fifth

“No, never. You ever meet a Half-Elf before?” asked Lilith.

“Aye. Years ago,” said the Dwarf.

“Like, five years ago?” asked Lilith.

“Longer than that lass.”

“Ten?”

“Be closer to fifty years ago.”

“Just how old are you?”

“I be gett’n into mah second scentuary.”

“Wha?”

“I heard something about a census,” said Rothus.

“He said second century,” said Evander.

“Evan, I didn’t know you spoke Dwarven,” said Lilith.

“It’s not Dwarven, it's bad drunken common. My father spoke it all the time in the forge,” said Evander.

“You be the son a smith lad?” asked the Dwarf.

“Yes,” said Evander.

“Well than Laddy, share a drink with me,” said Durn handing Evander a spare tankard.

“Evan, you're too young to drink,” accused Lilith.

“Hey, is it impolite to refuse a drink from a dwarf?” Evander whispered to Durn.

“Aye, deadly,” he said narrowing his eyes.

“Bottoms up!” said Evander taking a long swig. The drink, if it could be called one, burned all the way to his stomach.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the Fourth

“Anyway, how do we communicate with it?” asked Aeryn. Everyone took turns asking it questions in different tongues. When Evander asked if it spoke Goblinoid or Orchish the Dwarf began to get violent.

“Who ar yu?” demanded the Dwarf. “What be ya doin in mah clans tunnel?”

“Who are you?” asked Aeryn.

“I’m a Dwarf and mah clans been a livin' here for centrees,” said the Dwarf.

“Well we're human,” said Aeryn.

“Hey,” said Lilith.

“Okay, mostly human. And we were sent here to look for a magical bracer. The Dragon said we could search these mountains,” said Aeryn.

“Oui, that Drag’n still be here in da mountin?” asked the Dwarf.

“Yes,” said Lilith.

“As much as I enjoy a talking up side down, could yu be let’n me up now?” asked the Dwarf. Evander let go of the Dwarf's leg and he promptly righted himself.

“Right, well I be Durn, and who be ye?” asked Durn.

“I’m Aeryn, the one who caught you is Evander. This is Rothus, Travis and Lilith,” said Aeryn. As she said Evander’s name he inclined his head slightly.

“Aye,” said Durn acknowledging the introduction.

“Well Durn, may we meet your clan?” asked Aeryn.

“Why ‘ould yu be wantin' to meet mah Clan?” asked Durn.

“Oh boy, I’ve never met a Dwarf before,” said Travis.

“What! Ye never met a Dwarf before?” said the Dwarf.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the Third

“What are you guys doing? I’m trying to climb up here,” said Travis over the stone.

“Sorry, I thought you were with Rothus,” said Evander.

A few moments later the rope goes slack.

“Hey, me, Travis and Lotech are at the end of the slide,” said Rothus. “It ends in a large pool of water.”

Aeryn goes down the slide standing. Evander gathers up the rope and closes and locks the door before placing his backpack on the ledge. Well, I don’t want my tent and bedroll to get ruined, he thought. With his gear relatively safe Evander slid down and joined everyone else. There is indeed a giant pool at the bottom with a rocky shore around.

“Anything interesting down here?” asked Evander.

“Just a passageway under the water,” said Lotech.

“Well, let’s follow it,” said Evander diving in. The passageway quickly angles upwards and leads to a second pool. Emerging from the pool, the room looks a lot like the one below, however, this one has three passageways to choose from.

“Which way should we go?” asks Rothus. Trusting in fate, Evander takes out his quarterstaff and sets it on one end before letting go. The quarterstaff falls pointing to the right most passage.

“I think we should go right, unless anyone has a better idea,” said Evander. Everyone keeps silent, wary for a trap or ambush. The right passageway leads to a set of stairs going deeper into the mountain.

A loud clanging sound is heard as a short and stocky human begins falling down the stairs. As it falls past Evander reaches out and catches one of its legs, stopping its fall. Upon closer inspection it is not human. It is short and stocky with a huge beard, and is human shaped.

“That’s a dwarf!” exclaimed Lilith.

“There’s no such thing as Dwarves,” said Evander.

“Well, there are Orcs, Goblins, Dragons, Elves, and Changelings so why can’t there be Dwarves?” asked Lilith.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the Second

“Alright, we’ll continue searching the doorways continuing on the left side,” said Evander. Rothus approaches the doorway looking for traps. Finding none he walks down the hallway. Surprisingly, no traps go off as he reaches the other side of the hallway. There Rothus finds a locked door that also isn’t trapped. Using the skills he has learned over the last two years, he quickly defeats the lock and opens the door.

On the other side there is a spiral staircase carved into the rock. As the adventurers begin to walk towards the spiral staircase, Aeryn speaks up.

“What if the stairway turns into a slide, like in the stories?” she asked.

“Good thinking, I’ll go first with a rope,” said Rothus securing a rope to himself and beginning to walk down the stairs. Not heeding Aeryn’s warning, Travis and Lotech begin walking down the stairs without a safety rope. Just as Aeryn predicted, after the three traveled about twenty feet down, the stairs suddenly shifted turning into a slide.

Aeryn almost gets pulled down but manages to barely hold onto the rope. Evander quickly pulls her back from the edge. Rothus is secured by the rope, Travis managed to catch it adding his extra weight. Lotech, however, is lost to the abyss.

“Rothus, Travis, You guys okay? Is Lotech with you?” asked Evander.

“We're fine, however, Lotech is gone,” said Rothus. “We’re going to explore this and see if we can find Lotech. Begin lowering us,” said Rothus. Evander and Aeryn let out all of the rope. “We still can’t see the bottom, going to go down further,” said Rothus. He takes the rope from his bag and, bracing himself against the walls, adds on another fifty feet of rope.

“Guys, we need more rope,” says Rothus over the communication stone after a few minutes.

“Okay,” said Evander. He ties the rope to the one Aeryn is holding and they again begin to lower Rothus.

“I give up, I’m going back,” said Travis to Rothus and began climbing up as Aeryn and Evander began lowering more rope.

“More rope,” said Rothus over the communication stone. Evander ties the last of the rope and begins lowering.

Evander Smith-Talking with Dwarves Part the First

It took two days of resting for the adventurers to heal up. With the help of Desna and nature they were able to get back on their feet and begin exploring. “How about we look for a door way that isn’t trapped,” suggested Rothus.

“Sure, we don’t want a repeat of what happened, anyway,” agreed Evander. “Let’s start with the first door on the left and work our way down,” he suggested.

“Okay,” said Rothus. He carefully approached the doorway, searching for a trap. Finding none, he cautiously enter the hallway. After about fifteen feet he heard a familiar click and quickly dodged to the side as blades began to swing back and forth from the walls. Two swinging blades separated Rothus from the rest of the adventurers.

“Need some help?” asked Evander.

“I meant to do that,” said Rothus.

“Okay, so how are you going to get out?” Evander asked.

“Carefully,” said Rothus.

“I have an idea,” said Evander getting out his grappling hook. He aimed for the first blade as he threw it. Missing the pole that suspended the blade, the grappling hook landed at the feet of Rothus.

“Now I have an idea,” said Rothus picking up the grappling hook. With deft hands he wraps the grappling hook around the blade securing the rope. Evander and the others on the other side of the blades pull as one, stopping the blade. Rothus takes the opportunity to quickly slip past just as his friends lose there grip and the blade once again resumes it’s swinging motion.

The swinging of the blade makes it difficult for Evander to recover the rope, however, he manages and once again stops the blade. This time, the rope blocks the second blade from completing its swing allowing Rothus to slip by just as it reverses direction. Evander manages to give the rope enough slack that the grappling hook comes free and he retrieves his rope.

“I’m done with doorways. Lets see where this hallway leads,” said Rothus. No one having any better ideas, they all follow Rothus down the hallway. It dead ends into a wall. Rothus carefully searches the wall for something.

“Sorry guys nothing here,” said Rothus.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 37 [D-822]

Mountains of Iregor, cave of traps:

So, we have entered three of the twenty doors and found three traps. Not all traps are in the doorway, at least one is ten feet beyond the door. We could see what all twenty traps look like! But it would be safer if we did nothing of the sort.

We decide to advance down the main hallway, past the fourth pair of doors to get a better idea of what is here. I keep an eye open for odd flagstones and tripwires, but do not meticulously search the hall which is fifteen feet wide and maybe a hundred feet long. Evan steps exactly where I step, using the dust-prints to guide him. The others follow suit. I walk all the way to the end of the hall, double-checking our count on the number of doors. After the tenth pair of doors, there is a solid wall in front of us. Assuming that all twenty doors are trapped, we begin searching this wall for a hidden passage. That would be the ultimate security system, after all: have one well-hidden door that is not trapped and a whole lot of really dangerous rooms that don’t lead to an entrance.

Unfortunately, our hopes are not aligned with reality. The solid wall is pretty solid indeed. We decide that we must choose another door if we hope to advance farther into the cave.

We stand there dumbfounded hesitant to waltz right into another trap. We stare at the doors nearest us, figuring that the next door we choose will be random, so it might as well be one of the close ones! I search the last door on the left, finding no traps. I take Evan’s quarterstaff and solidly hit each step that lies ahead of me before stepping onto it myself as I advance slowly through the door. No traps are triggered. At the end of this hallway there is another door. It is not trapped, but definitely locked.

I pull out my thieves tools and feel for the pins in the mechanism. Fost taught me to be patient with locks as they can be fickle, but Florm taught me to not waste time since you never know when the owner of the lock is going to return! The lock eventually turns freeing the door for us to pass. On the other side is a spiral staircase that descends deeper into the cave. We will not be able to see what comes ahead of us while we are on the stairs, so we had better be careful.

Aeryn thinks the steps are trapped, liable to fold down and turn into a great big slide. That would really suck. So, she ties a rope around me just in case. Might as well be safe. Travis and Lotech bravely follow without a rope. The three of us walk about ten feet down and the steps actually do turn into a slide! Seriously! Aeryn is a prophetic genius! Travis quickly grabs the rope above me before sliding down. I brace against the walls as best I can while Aeryn anchors the rope to support the both of us. Altogether different, Lotech slides down as though this were an amusement park. We hear her spiralling for several seconds until the noise fades due to the distance. I suppose she’s dead now.

Travis and I are supported by the rope, but aren’t really in all that great of a position. I decide to try and climb downward (that is the direction we are trying to go, after all) but need to extend the rope. Travis has some rope in his pack, so I climb up to him and retrieve it. Then I bend his rope to Aeryn’s and climb down to the end of the extended rope. Each rope is about fifty feet long, so I suppose I’m a hundred feet down, now.

Of an opposite philosophy, Travis climbs back up towards the top. I call for more rope over the stone of communication and wait patiently for it to slide down the steps. As I am waiting, the rope slowly slackens, lowering me quite a distance. I’m lowered slowly, until Evan asks if I have reached the bottom yet. I tell him I haven’t and then I am lowered even farther. If they tied two lengths of rope up at their end, then that would set me at about two hundred feet down, without having reached the bottom!

I reach into my bag and and grab out the fifth and last rope, again bending it to the one supporting me. I then descend to two hundred and fifty feet. This is as deep as I can get! I call down to Lotech, but get no response. This is either really deep, unconscious or dead.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 36 [D-822]

Mountains of Iregor, cave entrance, two days later:

We rested at the mouth of the cave entrance letting Aeryn tend to our wounds and debating the merits of trying to get around the traps. There are twenty doors, ten on each side of the main hallway. The fourth door on the left had foot prints leading us into it. It was trapped, as is the door straight across, the fourth on the right. The hall seems to stop abruptly after the tenth doors. There is no indication as to which door is most likely to lead us to a magical bracelet.

With that as our knowledge base, we decide to re-enter the cave and take a closer look at the rest of the doors. To be systematic about it, we plan to go clockwise, starting with the first door on the left. I check it for tripwires and slots in the ceiling. I also keep an eye out for any other possible triggers, but find none. I open the door and check for more triggers behind it (can’t be too careful!) and find none. I walk confidently forward, showing to the party that it is safe to pass.

This hallway is wide enough for one person to walk comfortably, two people could walk shoulder to shoulder, but not freely. It is long enough my darkvision does not immediately reach the end. I walk out ten feet, catching sight of the hall’s end, just as a flagstone goes *click*. Several pendulum blades at equal intervals swing down from the ceiling! Argh! This way was not trapped immediately, but instead baited me in first!

I quickly make sure that I am not going to be hit by one of the blades, finding a safe area in the hall. Unfortunately, there are several quick-moving blades ahead blocking my path and two blades separating me from the rest of the team. I stare at the swinging blade to see if I can jam something up in the mechanism to stop it from moving. After looking at it for a while, and looking at my gear for a while, I realize there isn’t a way of doing it without risking damaging something I’ll want later on. I had almost taken the case I was carrying, the one in which Joachim had gifted my crossbow, and just tried to block the blade, but the case was clearly crafted by a master and I could get a hefty sum if I ever needed to sell it.

Evan is staring at the blade as well, but he sees a solution that I don’t, hinted by his purposeful pack-searching. He pulls out a grappling hook and a coil of rope, then ties them together as he explains that the team can pull against the pendulums as one and break them. He throws the hook toward the first blade. It flies past the first blade, past the second and nearly hits me! My reflexes are much too fast for him to actually have hit me, but still.

I take the hook and from my all too close range am able to latch it onto the second pendulum after a few attempts. Evan commands for the party to heave. As a team they exert an awful lot of force, but the trap does not break. Luckily, it does freeze up under the pressure! I quickly jump past the blade, before it has a chance to free itself.

Without warning, the pendulum moves again, pulling the party off balance and forcing them to drop the rope to the ground. We take a moment to breathe and then they pick the rope up again. I hadn’t noticed the first time, but when they pull on the rope it freezes the first pendulum as well, since the rope is resting against. They give me just enough time to rejoin the party before the blades move again. Evan then shakes the rope to loosen the grappling hook from the second blade and pulls it back in.

Aeryn has the idea that maybe there is some sort of hint as to the method for bypassing the trap. Maybe it is scribed on the walls around here, so we begin searching. None of us find anything that looks like anything other than plain, smooth stone.

Evander Smith-The Story Thus Far Part 3

For much of that time all I could think of was revenge. Each us was taken to a teacher to learn new skills, or improve upon ones we already had. What I learned was how to fight, how defend myself, and if necessary, how to kill. Aeryn learned about Desna and the gods and now seeks to spread the words of light and healing. Rothus is now a thief, quick hands and an even quicker wit. Travis knows how to hunt and live in the wild. Tyler knows how to change the hearts of men. Lily is a better witch.

Judeau and Pippin didn’t tell me how to get rid of my anger, instead they taught me how to embrace it. They taught me to be a forge, and harness the rage to channel it, to control it instead of letting it control me. Two years we trained until we were given a test to see if we were ready. Ready for what, we did not know for we had been promised an audience with the Oracle which had yet to be granted.

Our test was to find an item in the woods, it took us two days but we managed. During that time Tyler had been the leader, however he was found wanting and instead I was put in charge. After that we learned that the camp was formed to find treasure. Joachim had scouts looking for lost artifacts, and when they found one a team was dispatched to recover the item. Not yet sure what to do, we agreed to work for him and recover artifacts.

We met with the Oracle soon after who told us our ‘fate’. The blood of royalty runs through one of our veins and we shall restore the lost kingdom to its former glory. And that we will find the gems of elemental power. To help prepare us for our quest Joachim sent us on our first real mission. That is where we met the dragon. Joachim didn’t mention that the artifact was in a dragon’s lair. As I have said, the dragon told us that the Oracle has sent many on the quest for the gems. That I believe, however, he also said that Dalton was not to be trusted. Dalton saved my life, the lives of my friends, family and village. How can Dalton be a bad guy? He’s a hero.

During our journey we have also met a strange girl named Lotech. She offered to join us and when I accepted she kept explaining how she was going to betray us. I don’t trust her. I just want her where I can keep an eye on her and not have her sneak up on us. To that end, we went into the lower levels of the mountain cave that the dragon has permitted us to search. Rothus needs more training as we encountered some traps. Initially, he said that he had disabled them, however, both he and Travis got badly wounded by them. We have retreated to the cave entrance and, once healed, will resume the search for the artifact.

Evander Smith-The Story Thus Far Part 2

Our encounter with the goblins was less than heroic. Dalton did all the work and the only goblin we saw surrendered to us. We tried to figure out what we should do, however, Dalton just killed it saying that creatures like goblins and orcs can’t be reasoned with. During our encounter Lily tripped over something and fell. I guess she sprained her ankle because she had trouble walking so I carried her back to the village.

The real trouble began the next day. Tyler had been receiving an unusual amount of whoopin's for the past few days. He tried to run away, but failed. Eventually Travis got involved and Eldon Dragos knocked out both his own son and Travis. Well Mr. Neos didn’t stand for that and knocked out Eldon and had Dalton arrest him. When Dalton went to the Dragos’ place to talk to Miriam she lifted an axe and attacked Dalton. Dalton was victorious but had to kill Miriam. When I woke up the next day I found Tyler very distressed and went to his place to see what was wrong. Eventually all my friends gathered there to find his parents alive. Apparently they had been replaced by Changelings, a creature that can take the appearance of any person. All this before Harvest Festival.

Harvest Festival is Tarenvale’s largest celebration and draws in people from all over, even Newport. During this time I get a break from working in the forge and can do what I want. It is painful to remember. For even though the first day was like every other year, the second day still haunts me. The night of the second day of Harvest Festival, everyone was gathered around the stage to listen to (the now free) Eldon Dragos conclude his story from the previous night. He concluded the greatest storytelling that I have ever heard. That was when the struck. From beyond the light of the torches they gathered, and death fell from the sky. Arrows fell as rain, killing people. More fell as they stared in shock and screamed in pain and horror.

They never tell you that in the stories, how horrible the screams of the dying are. How disconcerting the eyes of the dead are. I don’t remember much after that. Just that Roran, Dalton's student, took us from town and Dalton fought against orcs and goblins to buy us time. That is how we arrived at the traveling camp and met Joachim, and how I met Judeau and Pippin.

Evander Smith-The Story Thus Far Part 1

I am the son of a blacksmith. Two years ago my village was attacked, presumably to kill me and my friends. We have a destiny you see. According to an Oracle we are destined to find six gems, one for each element as well as light and darkness. According to a dragon many fools have been sent on this quest and so far none have succeeded.

Perhaps I should tell more of my life before explaining what is going on. Tarenvale was where I was born and raised. I lived there with my father, mother, and little sister. The friends I mentioned earlier are Rothus Karadrid, Tyler Dragos, Travis Neos, Aerynthia Rheacyr, and Lilith Graves. My name? Well, that would be Evander Smith.

As I said I grew up in Tarenvale with my friends. Rothus was always trying to find ways to skip work, Tyler enjoyed telling tall tales, Travis is, well, Travis, Aerynthia (Aeryn) was always patching us up (she was the healer's apprentice) and Lilith (Lily) was always getting us in trouble.

Lily is a Witch. Her mother is a witch. They lived outside of Tarenvale and most people didn’t trust them. That, and Lily’s father was an Elf. We were like any other kids, testing to see what we could get away with, and learning about the world. When I turned twelve was when things began to fall apart. It all started with my father almost dying when his forge caught fire. With the help of Brother Thomas, a healer who worships Desna, he fully recovered.

Unfortunately Tarenvale, like other towns, did have bullies. There names were Billy, Jimmy and Timmy. It turned out that they were the ones that set the forge on fire; I never saw them after that. About two weeks after the fire was when my father was healed and when Tyler returned from Newport. Newport is a week away by horse and the only true city near Tarenvale. Soon after his return Dalton decided it was time we learned how to defend ourselves. Dalton is a warrior who fought in the Great Wars that were fifty years ago, and was the town guard when people got out of hand.

Lily had been telling us about goblins in the woods, and I hadn’t believed her because there are no such things as goblins. Dalton later asked us if we wanted to see goblins, well if Dalton believed goblins existed they must. So we said that we did want to see goblins. Dalton said that they are dangerous creatures and that we should arm ourselves. He got my father to give us some weapons.

Tarenvale is Frozen Over

The rest of Minnesota is, too. 



That means it is difficult to get all the gamers together.
The Children of Tarenvale are going to have to sit this week out.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the Last

Rothus proceeded to walk down the stairs. There was a clicking sound as he stepped on the third stair. “Oh Erastil,” Rothus whispered. Though he avoided most of the blades, two of them hit him causing him to cry out and fall down the rest of the stairs. Travis anxiously got up and walked over to look inside the doorway and saw him lying on the floor, not moving.

“Guys, stand back, I’m going to use my sword to cut the wire,” said Travis. Using his elven curved blade he placed it beneath the wire and cut upwards. The wire did indeed break, however it once again activated the trap. Travis was only hit by a single blade; however that sent him flying from the doorway to the other one on the other side of the hall. He landed with a thud, then a click. The sound of countless puffs of air could be heard.

“I will get Travis, then I will get Rothus,” said Evander. Leaving his pack up stairs, he walks down towards Travis. Everything went well until he stepped off the last step. Darts came from everywhere, striking Evander. Though they were many, he shrugged them off and hauled Travis back into the hallway.

“Should have sent me in first, I mean, I am new and expendable,” said Lotech.

“Aeryn, he needs help,” called Evander, only to see that she was at the bottom of the other hallway. She was tending to Rothus, and with the power of Desna was able to get him moving again.

“Move,” said Aeryn as she walked up the stairs with Rothus behind her. The traps didn’t go off and she once again performed the healing magic. Even though Rothus and Travis could walk, they looked worse for wear and Evander was wounded as well.

“All right, let’s go back to the entrance and set up camp,” said Evander.

“I agree,” said Rothus. They returned to the cave entrance and set up camp to rest and lick their wounds.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the Fifth

“What if I have friends that will ambush and kill you?” asked Lotech.

“And what if we are nobles leading an army that is bound to show up?” asked Evander starting to get tired of the what if’s.

“Okay, but I still think you're being to trusting,” said Lotech.

“This way you're with us, not following, so we can keep a better eye on you,” said Evander.

“Yes but then if…” she continued them all the way back to the cave.

As the group returns to the cave Rothus is cleverly hiding in the cave entrance for all to see. “Stop and identify yourselves or I will shoot,” said Rothus.

Evander keeps walking as he answers. “Rothus it’s us, plus a guest,” said Evander.

“Okay,” said Rothus.

“Now let’s actually enter the caves, Rothus you scout ahead and we will follow you,” said Evander. And so with Rothus leading the way they entered the cave. The cave immediately went deeper into the ground, a flawlessly made staircase leading down. At the bottom was a hallway, and even with the help of the amulets there was no end in sight. Curiously, Lotech also had one of the amulets allowing her to see like everyone else.

Every ten feet or so was a door, on either side of the hallway, that had stairways going down deeper into the mountain.

“Hey guys, I think there’s a footprint in that doorway,” said Travis pointing to the fourth door on the left.

“Rothus, we found a footprint in a doorway. Think you could check for traps?” asked Evander.

“Sure,” said Rothus rejoining the party. Everyone moved back to let Rothus work. To his credit he did find a tripwire. “Okay, I got this,” said Rothus. After a few moments of tinkering, five massive blades dropped from the ceiling and swung at Rothus who managed to dodge between the blades. “All clear,” he said.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the Fourth

“I’m not really sure myself,” said Lilith. “Anyway, how do we know your not a plant, people don’t have green hair,” said Lilith. “You were trying to eat Ma'ud weren’t you?” accused Lilith.

“No, I tried to feed him, but he was scared of me and ran off. But he was so strange I decided to follow him,” said Lotech.

“Right,” said Lilith not believing Lotech.

“What are you doing out here anyways?” asked Lotech.

“We are searching for a magical bracer in the mountains behind us,” said Evander.

“Really, a magical bracer, whatever for?” asked Lotech.

“Because we're treasure hunters,” said Travis excitedly.

“Treasure hunters? That sounds exciting. Can I join?” asked Lotech.

“You’ll have to ask Evander,” said Lilith.

“Evander, can I please join? I don’t need any of the loot and I can be useful,” said Lotech pleadingly.

“Well…” said Evander thinking over the situation.

“Please,” Lotech said almost begging.

“O.K.” said Evander.

“Evander! I think you're being to trusting. She tried to eat Ma'ud,” said Lilith.

“I agree, I could be a thief who will kill you in your sleep and take your stuff,” said Lotech not helping her case.

“So we will keep watch,” said Evander.

“What if I’m luring you into a trap in the mountains,” said Lotech.

“Then your within arms reach to attack,” said Evander. “Anyway, let us head back to the cave now that Ma'ud is safe,” said Evander.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the Third

“But what about the one pointing the arrow at me?” asked the green haired girl.

“Ah, don’t worry about him. I was in a battle with him once, never scratched what he was aiming at,” said Evander. He then pulled out the communication stone. “It’s okay guys, it is just a girl,” said Evander.

“Wow, you can talk to dragons and stones, that’s impressive,” said the green haired girl. As she stands up she grabs a stone.

“No I can’t talk to stones; this is a stone of communication. It allows me to communicate with others who have similar stones,” said Evander.

“I wonder what stones would say if I could talk to them,” said the green haired girl.

“No, it is used to talk to others who have similar stones, they need to have this mark,” said Evander showing her the communication stone.

“Can you teach me to talk to stones?” asked the green haired girl.

I said I use the stone to talk to others, how does she not understand that concept? Evander asked himself. Whilst they were talking the rest of the group had caught up to them.

“I just realized that I haven’t asked your name yet, I am Evander,” said Evander.

“I’m Lilith,” said Lilith.

“Travis,” said Travis curtly.

“I’m Lotech, nice to meet you all,” said the green haired girl named Lotech.

“So what are you and that fox with two tails doing out in the plains anyways?” asked Lotech.

“He’s not a two tailed fox, he’s a Kitsune,” said Lilith.

“Really, what’s a Kitsune?” asked Lotech.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the Second

“Alright, keep that bow ready while I go get a good look at this thing,” said Evander. Looking at the spot where the ‘plant’ disappeared Evander cautiously moves forward. Evander had been walking for a few minutes without any sign of the ‘plant’.

“Good sir, I believe that we are becoming a bit too familiar,” said a mysterious voice. Evander quickly looked around the plains, seeing nothing, before looking at the ground. Lying on the ground was a green haired girl. Startled, Evander moved back a few paces before dropping into a fighting stance.

“Easy, I don’t mean you any harm. By the way, have you seen a fox with two tails go by here?” asked the green haired girl.

“…” Evander just stared at her.

“You don’t say much do you?” asked the green haired girl.

“You have just taken me by surprise,” said Evander.

“You don’t look that surprised to me,” said the green haired girl.

“Well, now that I have regained my wits, I suppose not,” said Evander.

“So, have you seen that fox with two tails?” asked the green haired girl.

“That’s not a two tailed fox, Ma'ud is a Kitsune,” asked Evander.

“What’s a Kitsune, what’s a Ma'ud?” asked the green haired girl.

“Ma'ud is the name of the two tailed fox you were following. As for Kitsune, you will have to ask his owner Lilith,” said Evander.

“He has an owner? What was he doing in the woods then?” asked the green haired girl.

“He was scared off by a dragon,” said Evander.

“You saw a dragon?” asked the green haired girl.

“Yes, we even parlayed with it to allow us to search its mountains,” said Evander. “You can ah, stand up now,” said Evander.

Evander Smith-Lotech Part the First

“Alright, before we enter the caves lets have Rothus check it out,” said Evander.

“Sure,” said Rothus entering the cave. Though it was dark, the amulet allowed them to see in the dark. After about a minute without screams, Rothus reemerged from the cave. “No traps that I could find,” he said.

“Alright let’s go in, Rothus will search ahead and warn us of trouble,” said Evander.

“Hey is that a plant chasing Ma'ud?” asked Lilith pointing to the distance. Evander followed her gaze, and saw a blur occasionally jump above the grass. Behind the blur was a green shape moving after it.

I thought Ma'ud always stayed with Lily, thought Evander.

“I’m going to save him,” said Lilith.

Great, that dragon flew us here and we have to waste his gift by going back for Ma'ud, thought Evander wryly. “Alright, lets go help Ma'ud,” said Evander.

“I’ll guard the cave,” said Rothus. No one else objected, so with Evander in front, expecting trouble, they went to help Ma'ud. It was a few hours of walking, however, they managed to meet up with Ma'ud before the ‘plant’ got him.

“Ma'ud is that a plant chasing you?” asked Lilith.

“Grrr, ruff, ruff,” said Ma'ud.

“What do you mean it’s a person? People don’t have green hair,” said Lilith.

“Ruff, ruff, grr, yip,” said Ma'ud.

“You mean it was trying to eat you,” corrected Lilith.

“Grr, grr, ruff, ruff yip,” said Ma'ud.

“Fine, whatever,” said Lilith. Travis, having been watching the plant approach, draws and notches an arrow. The ‘plant’ quickly ducks into the grass.