The Lost Lands

The Desolation

“Many hundreds of years ago, the forces of good allied to destroy the main Temple of Orcus in the ancient city of Tsar. With their temple in ruins, the
surviving priests of this accursed demon-god fl ed the city with an army of enemies on their tail…”
— R1: Rappan Athuk, The Dungeon of Graves: Upper Level

“This world is mine!”
— Orcus, Demon Prince of Undead (ca. 10,000 years ago)

The northern wall of Bard’s Gate looks out over a vast river valley disappearing into purple hills in the hazy distance. The mighty gates fixed in that wall rarely open anymore. On the few occasions when the north gates do open to allow entrance to the occasional merchant caravan or especially daring traveler, they reveal a wide road, paved with great stonefl ags forming a smooth and level traveling surface striking due north for the hills. However, closer inspection reveals the signs of a lack of maintenance, and after a few miles the road deteriorates into little more than a wide dirt track, overgrown with weeds and with only the occasional stone paver visible in the hard soil. It obviously sees little travel and even less care.

Few stand atop Bard’s Gate’s north wall and gaze out upon that hazy vista or care to think about what lies beyond those distant highlands. Fewer still are brave or foolish enough to make the journey in that direction. Bard’s Gate relies on its commerce from other roads in other directions and pays no mind to the north, for to the north, beyond the village of Taverlan and the distant purple hills and across many leagues, lies the reminder of one of the most tragic moments in the history of the civilized kingdoms. To those who even care to remember, the north gate leads only to bad memories or mournful legend. To the rest it leads to where only madmen would dare to go—the ruined city of Tsar and the great Desolation that surrounds it. Tsar, the great temple-city to the Demon Prince of the Undead, stood for centuries as a bastion of evil and hate. Foul beings of all kinds fl ocked to
its mighty walls and found succor and purpose within. At its heart stood the great Citadel of Orcus, the black heart of Orcus worship on earth.

Countless evils were perpetuated in those corrupt precincts, and equally countless wicked plots were hatched and carried out therein.

Finally the goodly kingdoms could stand the presence of this festering boil in their midst no longer. The churches of Thyr and Muir led a delegation of good and neutral faiths to Graeltor, the last overking. Only with the backing of the nations’ secular armies would the holy churches be able to erase such a blight. In his last major pronouncement before the overthrow and fracturing of the kingdoms into the independent nations they are today, Overking Graeltor called for a mighty crusade to tear down the walls of Tsar and forever end the presence of Orcus worship in the world.

This crusader army, raised from all nations and almost every nonevil faith, became known as the Army of Light and marched for Tsar. In command of this army Graeltor placed his most trusted advisor, the archmage Zelkor. Supported by innumerable knight commanders, wizards, church patriarchs and scores of heroes of renown, Zelkor quickly advanced his army from its staging ground of Bard’s Gate, through Tsar’s outermost defensive positions and into the great plain that surrounded the temple-city itself. Flush with their many quick victories, the Army of Light suddenly found arrayed against itself seemingly endless legions of every sort of vile warrior-race and fell outsider imaginable called up from all over the multiverse and lining the battlements and fields before their redoubt—one of the greatest fortresses and citadels ever erected in that time. The beginnings of doubt seeped into the ranks of the Army of Light.

However, hope was not lost as the heavens opened up and flight upon flight of angels and celestial beings descended from on high to swell the ranks of the Army of Light. With grim determination in both camps, battle was joined on the plain before the gates of Tsar. The war raged for over a year, the Army of Light advancing to the very foot of the walls and then being pushed back by a new surge of demonic power. The disciples of Orcus led by the Grand Cornu, Orcus’s single highest-ranking priest on the mortal planes, threw every vile attack they could at the Army of Light in defense of their city. Rains of horrific fire and acid fell from the skies or belched from fissures in the ground, great constructs crushed their foes before them, terrible clouds of poisonous gas choked entire regiments, and
heretofore unknown plagues swept through the troops causing thousands of horrible deaths among the Army of Light. Nevertheless the forces of good persevered and fought on.

Finally, though the battle seemed no closer to victory, the fates seemed to smile on the Army of Light. Unexpectedly the city fell. In a single night the entire city virtually emptied of defenders as they all were magically transported to a point several miles outside the city’s walls, complete with baggage train and mounts for many. The magical expenditure necessary to complete this miraculous maneuver cost the Grand Cornu his very life in sacrifice to Orcus, but the legions of the demon prince had broken free from the Army of Light’s cordon. They immediately took flight before the stunned Army of Light, heading south.

Zelkor and his fellow commanders were immediately suspicious of this sudden retreat but could not afford to allow the combined followers of Orcus concentrated in one place to escape and spread their insidious evil again. A cursory sweep of the city by scouts proved that the withdrawal was no ruse, so Zelkor left one of his most powerful knights, the paladin Lord Bishu, with a company of knights to secure the citadel and hold it until the Army of Light could return and properly destroy it. Then, still with a seed of doubt niggling in his mind, Zelkor ordered the Army of Light in pursuit of the fleeing legions.

The tale of that long pursuit is an epic in and of itself. Finally the Army of Light cornered the forces of darkness in a forest near a rugged coastline. In anticipation of a great victory, the forest was prematurely named the Forest of Hope. The naming proved to be a cruel irony, for in the forest the followers of Orcus had been preparing a great trap for years in case just such an occasion ever arose. Both armies disappeared into the forest. Neither ever emerged. The Army of Light was lost to a man.

The shock of the loss of so many heroes, nobles, and leaders of renown reverberated throughout the kingdoms. The overking was overthrown in the unrest that followed. Minor wars erupted as new factions took over old power bases bereft of their leadership. When all was done and a semblance of peace returned, the lands looked much more like they do
today. Some said the loss of so many was worth it for the eradication of the foul cult of Orcus. Others said it had been a scheme concocted by the demon prince all along to destroy his most powerful enemies and sow hate and dissension throughout the civilized nations. Years later when a terrible graveyard and thriving dungeon complex devoted to Orcus was discovered in the Forest of Hope, popular opinion agreed with the latter theory. It seemed Orcus had not been eradicated after all, just relocated, and once again his insidious evil began to spread throughout the lands.

For the past century some attention has been turned to delving into the
so-called Dungeon of Graves and rooting out the evil now entrenched
there. However, what remained of the temple-city
of Tsar was a vast, abandoned ruin surrounded by miles and miles of
poisoned and scarred wasteland left behind by the battling armies. It was
all but forgotten as a bad memory of despair with no value save as an
eyesore and wilderness home for strange and fearsome beasts that moved
into the desolate area. The knights of Lord Bishu, left behind at Tsar, were
likewise forgotten as they, too, were never heard from again. In the wake
of the great tragedy at the Forest of Hope, no one thought to check into
the ruins themselves, and all who knew about this relatively small group
that had been sent to the city had perished in Orcus’s trap. The people of
the civilized nations went on with their lives with, perhaps, a little less
hope and optimism than before. Tsar was forgotten, and the land around it
shunned and remembered only as the Desolation.

While the rest of the world looked southwards for the future, some
few remembered the distant exotic markets of the far north. Those brave
or foolish enough to try reopened the trade road that passed through
the Desolation to once again reach those far lands. Those that survived
such treks and were able to trade the rare items they brought back made
fortunes, but most who attempted the dangerous passage died—lost to the
hazards of the Desolation. Eventually a small settlement of cutthroats and
the worst kind of profiteering entrepreneurs sprang up on the southern
fringe of the Desolation. This hole-in-the-wall known simply as the Camp
serves as a staging ground for travelers to hire mercenary guards or fast
mounts for the perilous run through the Desolation. Likewise it serves
as a point of relative safety for those few managing to make it through
from the north with or without goods in tow, often with denizens of the
Desolation in hot pursuit. There is little to this unruly, fringe settlement,
and many meet their fates on its dirty streets without ever making it to
the Desolation. Regardless, it manages to just barely eke out an existence
serving as a stopping point for those few travelers who dare to make the
run.

Now no one but these miscreants and fortune-seekers pay any attention
to the area and then only so they can pass through the Desolation as quickly
and safely as possible. The temple-city’s ruins are universally avoided
and little thought of. Why would anyone wish to go to almost certain
death? What could still exist in the unknown holes and broken towers
of Orcus’s greatest earthly bastion? What could lie undisturbed, awaiting
some possibly preordained time to awake in the ruins of slumbering Tsar?

Perched on the verge of the war-torn wasteland known as the Desolation stands a
settlement of dire reputation. Known only as The Camp, this wretched collection of
criminals and scoundrels, the desperate and the hopeless, all eking out an existence on the
far fringes of civilization make this truly a place of new beginnings and horrific endings.
Now things stir within the Desolation and call to heroes seeking secrets and treasures
lost to the knowledge of men. The promises of reward dare the brave and the foolish
both to seek their fortune in The Camp—out on the very edge of oblivion.

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No Name becomes Zoshak
Zoshak (the one with no name) perhaps he will finally found his true name , and the raiders returned from the tombs after killing a Troll with no Mercy for killing the horse of Zoshak. Our group had found a new member a Kat Bard named Nyktan Warclaw whom we had found held by an ogre in the crypt he proved very helpful in the attack on the troll his songs inspiring us to a viciousness the troll could not overcome.

The beast had the nerve to have chosen Zoshak’s horse for a meal, a poor choice indeed!! We returned to Bards gate to recuperate and to study. We chose the Inn of 6 candles, a posh place that put us back several coins for the stay. Nick Tan arranged for a grand meal by agreeing for the party to sit for a portrait. It was a grand meal with foods of special nature Wyvern steak, Fresh corn and fruits even what was noted to be frog legs from the gulf of Akados? Seems like that would be quit a distance to travel I had some suspect of this but the meat was very good.

Each of us took the time in the city to hone our skills, repair our equipment and purchase much needed supplies. I found a book during our adventures and took the time to read the great tome to my amazement it brought great clarity to me. My skills seem to have improved from its reading. I enjoyed my meals at the pub of Tarken and Kels the meals at 6 candles Inn were too expensive, and the frog legs seemed a bit salty. The others busied themselves in the town but it did seem to wear on us soon the time came for us to leave and continue our mission to find the cleric Ambasore and now Zoshak himself. We still know not what happened to our friend Zoshak, we had hoped once he finished with the great demon that had barred our way, he would return, alas now I fear the worst. The one with no name will have to fill his great shoes. That may be difficult he seems to shun his duty’s even the visit to the mayor left him kicked to street as he had come smelling of rum. Our visit there was of a good nature. The mayor asked if we would be staying in the town we explained our ongoing mission and that we would be here on and off. He assured us he would be happy to have us return and hoped that the humble Zoshak would come at the next invite. We discussed the Dragon hills and Zoshaks desire for a dragon for a riding beast, a much hardier beast that would defend itself from the like of a troll. A blue dragon would be best; Zoshak would bend his will and force it to repent for its many past deeds. We had picked up a new member to the party a fellow named Benjamin a follower of Miur a good fellow that would prove helpful to the party. Finally we began our trip back to the crypt looking for our friend and the cleric. On our return trip we stopped at the shrines. To my amazement Benjamin proved his worth by opening the temple doors we could not. Inside we found the room to be peaceful and remarkably clean. Inside we found several doors hidden with tapestries showing the great deeds of Miur’s followers. Each of the doors had a riddle of Miur written in Celestial, I translated it for Benjamin to see if he could decipher the riddle. Zoshak the one with no name figured out the riddle on each of the doors a virtue was called out and a spell cast for each of the door. the weapon courage, and the spell magic weapon; for the shield divine favor was cast and the virtue truth. Each of these rooms were barracks that held weapons from long past and cots for several soldiers. This site could prove very helpful if we needed to find a respite in the future.

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We decided to clean the temples but found it too great a job to do at the time, and the fact it may happen again if we did not first remove those that had defiled the place. We pressed on to the entrance ofthe Thyer burial halls. As we entered the peace we had felt at the temples, dissipated into nothingness leaving us with a hunger to destroy the demon and find those lost. I learned that Nick Tan was searching for a lost friend; it seems some girl he had known since a child. It seems this place takes many I fear I may have to dispatch them as undead in the future if we do not find them soon. We took the route down thru the secret entrance Nick had shown us on our last trip. The one with no names skills with a map have proven to be useful. If not for his considerable skills we would be traveling in circles I am sure. The maps he makes do seem to take up some time though in his continual arranging, and rearranging. We made our way back to the brass door we had found in our earlier trip here. The door bound in Brass could not be opened even with the persistent hammering of the ½ orcs great Mall. The reverberation of the brass rang thru out the dungeon to no avail. We decided to adventure into the water since we could find no other trail to follow. I believe Nick Tan pines for the “hairball” as Isnot affectionately calls her.

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As I cast water breathing on the group we entered the water. The water soon covered our heads as we stumbled thru the murk and dark even my vision was clouded. A cloud arose as something stirred the water. Suddenly I remembered the giant frogs we had seen in the water before. I cast daylight trying to run them off but the light seemed not to bother them. Brightening the area I could see the beasts swarming us much largger then I had imagined. Zenara was swallowed by the creature to my horror. Suddenly it came to my mind the probable source of the frog legs from the inn. I would have to trust the great Zoshak and the other fighters and cure them as the battle raged. I cast sanctuary on myself and prepared myself for a long fight. To my surprise Zoshak (the one with no name) opted to hold the attention of the frogs and allow the other the glory of defeating the frogs. Nick and Zenara decided to attack the creatures from inside leaving the creatures gullet split for easy escape. Zoshak (the one with no name) saw the fight would be too difficult and chose to lead a couple of them off, it was a good thing the fighters used most of my cure spells. It nearly cost his life Zenara followed with him so I am unclear what happened on shore but I found Zoshak unconscious, a poor way to hold them off or at least I believed. Zoshak (the one with no name) surprised the frog and myself with a quick slash up thru the jaw, killing it instantly, the fighters, Isnot, Nick Tan and Benjamin finished the other off. The battle drained us of nearly all our healing and spells coverage. Zoshack had saved us again, dividing the creatures and sacrificing himself for the good of the raiders, giving them more confidence in their skills for future battles. We decided to rest for the evening’ rest came to us easily and the morning came to soon. Zoshak must have been disappointed in our battle and was too worried for our safety to return to the water. I asked for assistance and found the ability to shape stone in the morning by removing the stone around the door it fell revealing the stairs leading down. It ended in a blank wall, from this side it was obvious this was a secret door Zoshak (the one with no name) listening with his great ear of hearing heard nothing. As we opened it we found ourselves in a large room several feet down from above. The map maker began a new map, and we wondered thru the halls until we came upon three damned orcs that worshiped Orcus. Isnot caught their attention speaking to them in their language as Zoshak (the one with no name) and Nick vanished the battle began Zenara felt the fear of their presence and ran I reassured her and strengthened her will for the coming battles battle. Nick and Zoshak (the one with no name) appeared near the clerics and dispatched them quickly. Zoshak (the one with no name) opened the door with a quick twist of the lock, disabling the trap that laid in wait along with it. Yes, Yes with that small but significant action the one with no name took emulating his hero has led him to become the legendary Zoshak henceforth so named. His presents now calms the raiders even in their greatest fear! Pressing on we found a hall with a haze of purple, we could find no other way to go so we ventured our way thru the mist we traveled a great distance and then I felt the stench of undead I stepped forth and brought destruction on the creatures, leaving nothing but the body of the zombies that had attacked us. We came upon a room filled with magic, and a pentagram. The room radiated magic. the pentagram inward facing magic circle against evil the outer also a magic circle of protection from evil held a great creature probably for centuries. Undead in its nature I could not let it stand stepping forward to attack the zombies first that Zoshak had tricked into following him. As they advanced towards us the power of good surged from me making them writhe in pain another blast and they would fall, finally resting in the peace of death. A Drow (we suspect) joined the battle, I believe she had been hiding on the roof her invisibility a powerful magic. She had cast dark to gain an advantage in attack. It didn’t work I brought the light of day to bear in the room canceling her foul magic. Nick Tan attacked her climbing the walls but she was too quick attacking our group at will until I suspect her invisibility was about to run out she fled the room. We pursued and found her sleeping chambers but it seems she had disappeared. We did find her idle and Isnot crushed it with the Maul of the titan. Hidden deeper in the room past several secret doors we found three chests with the drows treasure. Zoshak suggested that we take the treasure to entice the drow to meet with us again. There were several jewelry pieces, furs coins and 4 potions that would assist in a fight with the drow when we meet up. Fly, spider climb and invisibility, yes it will be a different outcome. the next time.
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In Search of Abysthor

After destroying the font that created all those skeletons the group had a few choices as they explored the next chamber of empty tombs.

They found a room that had not been desecrated like the others, with intact entombed priests of Thyr. This room felt protected and safe. After taking their rest here they decided to take the corridor to the left. They entered the corridor and it had many alcoves again with desecrated burial sites.

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In the distance they noticed an red glowing light that radiated evil on a level that Xoshak could feel it from 30 feet away. He bravely asked the others to stand back while he investigated. He approached cautiously, all senses extended out seeking danger. Suddenly a demon appeared in front of him and he stopped.

The group began to come forward but he fled back to them. The demon yelled after him but Xoshak could not understand the words, although it did not sound threatening in tone. The language was clear to Dryth the Cleric of Freya who called out to Xoshak. He only wants to show you the way to the Master. Xoshak stops and comes back, he rushes to the Demon, and the Demon opens a door which Xoshak goes through. Then the Demon closes the door and a battle ensues as the group tries to follow their leader.

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The Demon hurt the party badly and they fled back to the safe room where the Demon could not enter. He waited for hours and the party did not come out. Eventually, he left the area.

Determined to find their leader the party then entered the rat tunnels they ignored earlier. These took them down to a lower level with sinkholes and pools of water and locked doors.

They explored looking for Xoshak everywhere until they came to a pile of rocks. They climbed these rocks and found another pile of rocks. Zenara stayed behind to watch the rear and was confronted by a large ogre who knocked her unconscious very quickly. The one who took the mantle of Xoshak came back over the pile of rocks after hearing battle behind him and attacked the ogre and was almost overcome also until more reinforcements came over the over the rock pile to help n the battle. They overcame the ogre and took some rest and recovered.

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They then went over the rock piles and found the ogre’s sleeping chambers and a treasure room full of sacks of treasure and a strange creature much like a cat tied up in this chamber. Nyktan appeared to be being saved for a later meal.

Nik-tann said he had not come through the rat tunnels but had found a secret door near the entrance to the dungeon.

The group continued to search for their missing leader. The next challenge was a darkened shrine to Orcus. They easily destroyed the creature they faced their, and decided to head back to Bard’s Gate and regroup rather than continue their adventures.

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They followed the stairway back to the secret door that Nik-tann had found and discovered as they exited that Xoshak’s horse had been devoured by a large creature. It foot prints were identified as belonging to a troll. They followed the tracks to the troll’s cave and killed the beast without taking a wound.

They then returned to Bard’s Gate to tell their stories and refresh their supplies.

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Call it divine intervention
or Too Whom the Team follows

As I awoke I realized Freya had once again smiled on me. As I began to make my plans, the one with no name arrived out of breath. Privately I thanked Freya as I began to explain my plans to the one with no name. Freya had found me worthy of new skills!

She had granted me Water breathing and locate object. I would use the locate objects to find the shield we had previously recovered. I knew Zenara had kept and would be using it we located it and decided we would follow the stream using the water breathing Freya had granted me. Into the water we went following the route the others had taken before we tumbled along not knowing where we were going, finally we fell from the tunnel into a room with a pool to our surprise and great relief we found them huddled and humbled by their frightful night they were grateful we had found them I helped healing the Orc and assist Zenara in caring, and healing the others. From there we began looking for a way out, we determined going back was not possible so we began traveling to the east again taking the left. That trick no name had given us had gotten us back together.

We began our travels again the halls began to get so narrow that Zanara and Isnott had to remove their armor further the halls began twisting and turning, so much so that the one with many names finally gave up pacing the steps for each movement along the path. We came upon a room that led to the outside, there was some discussion about whether we would leave, the one with many name spent what must have been an hour or more trying to toss it up the shaft and dodging as it would fall back. Harold watched with great interest. Eventually many names gave up as the falling grapple creased his skull causing many colorful languages. Harold told him he could use a summoned air elemental to bring it up. The upper end turned out to be the grave yard we had arrived in so we decided to continue on (the group still feared facing the Gargoyles) the tunnels still trailed on twisting and turning eventually we ran into an area were the fighters could put the gear back on.

Later we came upon a large group of stirges there determination brought the group to a near brink of disaster but thru sheer determination we were successful in finally defeating them.
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We found several dead bodies littering the floor and on a dwarf we found a pair of magical boots a battle axe of master quality and several gems. We decided to rest for the evenings in the large chamber were we fought the stirges. During the evening we were attacked by a strange beast that seemed t be in several places at the same time. The black cats struck fear into no name, and somehow snuck up on him.
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I suspect he may not be able to see very well. The “Tangtull” Manynames called it could be in several different places at the same time Isnott brought it down with a mighty blow bleeding across the floor. Again we were attacked by the Tangtull but being prepared this time we did much better. We waited a day and then swam thru the pool of black water into a chamber filled with undead I brought rest to the poor souls as the party watched in amazement their futile blows barely damaging the creatures. Searching their bodies we found Long swords the party divided among the group.

After the battle Zanara and the ½ Orc Isnout had a very interesting discussion on the need for several bars of soap. She needed a bar for each time she washed so that she did not get the creeping crud I decided that when I return I will have a talk with the shop keeper. I suspect he did not have a shield so he convinced her to spend money on the soap.

After this we found a curious room that had four doors suspended in the air. As we stared to check the doors we found that they were filled with a swirling mist the one with many names jumped thru the first door on the left the rest of the party waited and he was able to return, after he came back we decided to check the other doors in the same manner. we tried the second on the left. The one with many names and Isnott went thru we that were left waited a few moments when they did not return we decided to send Zenara thru with a rope tied around her, as the rope fell to the floor it suddenly occurred to us why the Dwarf we had found in the other room had only 30 feet of rope. Since she did not return it was decided that the rest of the party would follow.

We found ourselves in a large stand of trees. Our first thought was to determine our surroundings. Zoshack climbed a tree to determine our location and decided we had ended up east of our last location. It was a really tall tree. We decided to go north were Zoshack had seen a road. Zoshack struck out ahead to keep us out of any traps that may be about. Quietly, we slipped thru the woods. (At least as quietly as plate armor and a half orc could move.)We finally came to the road and turned west. As we traveled we came upon a Farmer headed east Zoshacks frustration with the undead was evident as he seemed determined to insult the fellow, with success. In fact we constantly looked over our shoulder expecting guards to catch us from behind his fear was evident.

We finally found a small Inn and found that we are just a few miles from Bards Gate James, the inn keeper had a grand voice and came up with a great tune about the finders guild. Zoshacks Raiders had become known as Bandits so we needed to change our names. Zoshack had decided to buy a horse the only one at the Inn. Zoshack rode his horse leading the party to Bards gate as we began to see the spires of Bards Gate the saddle zoshack used slipped and he fell catching himself just as he hit the ground. The city was much larger than I had anticipated. My first visit would be to the temples for understanding.

We stayed about a week in Bards Gate, I read the book we had found during our adventures, and Freya granted me greater reflections. I decided our group needed a little boost in our groups reputation whether we liked the name or not it had become our moniker. I began telling tales of Zoshacks many victories, truth be told I got caught up in the tales and embellished them. The defeat of the Great Purple worm, his crushing of the Bandit chiefs at Zelkors Ferry his rescue of the party from Rappan Athuk, I began to find great humor as our leaders exploits. My hopes of it taking on a life of its own were constantly being thwarted by the groups obstinacy at accepting our fate.

Finally 5 of Zoshacks raiders; Zoshack, Harold, Zenara, Dryth and Isnott decided we would make a quick check of the burial halls the calmness of the ancient path gave me a peace, and refocused my path to the destruction of the undead horrors that surround us. We spent hours trying to find a way into the darkness below and free those who had fallen to the new ways and there bondage. Finally Zoshack relented after shielding the adventurers from two explosive traps set by the evil followers Orcus.

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We followed further along the pass until we found the entrance to the tomb proper. It too was trapped and Zoshack removed them with expedience even if the finesse was less average. The temple was a typical design. The entrance had an ante chamber where the cleric care taker would sleep. The cot and table had long passed its used, corrupted, and splintering. The walls had been defaced, and marked with symbols of evil. Further in we found the chamber of hero’s. The fountain that would have normally been the holly water had been corrupted and changed into a fountain of evil. The blood that spewed blood soon found Skeleton, warriors as before in the room of fountains as they would raise I crushed them with the word of Fraya.

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Zoshack climbed upon the fountain to stop the flow of the vile concoction and hopefully stop the rise of the skeleton. For several minutes we fought on destroying the creatures Bongo and Harold stood the ground keeping the creatures from escaping our wrath. Isnott’s crushing blows fell heavily upon the fountain and as Zoshack finally blocked the flow Isnotts blows broke the bowl spewing putrid ichor about the room. This finally stopped the creatures. Giving us a small respite in the day.

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Memories of Galgar
Last of the Ratmen

Memories of Galgar
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Ratguts…rat blood… rat death…that was all the two legs left. They came into our den to eat our ratlings and so we attacked. With vicious bite and scratching claw we struck, but the two legs had blades of iron and stinging arrows of terrible silver. We Ratmen had our poisoned blades and we laid some two legs low, but some encased in iron were to tough to gnaw and some so quick they could not be bit. pzo1127_rat_king_by_critical_dean-d6t11af.jpg One among the two legs danced around the battlefield with arrows of lighting silver, thus were Yargan and Jenta murdered by the one I heard the two legs call Xoshak. All the low rats fought beside us, four hundred and more but the two legs were quick to flee and sharp of blade, and thus they moved on, but we Ratmen had survived and are ratlings still alive. We shall always remember Jenta and Yargan, defenders of the clan.

Simple murder
I, Galgar, last of the warrior Ratman followed the two legs to make sure they would not rtuen to eat our babies. They were a brutal band. They robbed the barbarian who lived near us, and after he discovered them rifling through his belongings. Having knocked him out, one of the two legs whose name I could never understand simply slit his throat. A savage act carried out with routine malice…thank goodness these monsters never found our den.

Tomb of the Fallen Hero
It was easy to smell these foul smelling two legs. It seems they had come to the great door, through which none could venture. Amazingly despite the magic and crafting of the door they were able to enter the whispered Tomb of the Fallen Hero.
It was difficult for me to see what was happen but the one known as Xoshak, the deadly chicken, and the nameless one came running and screaming and smelling of fear from the Tomb.
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I could hear the sounds of battle as the rest of the two legs fought some skeleton with a monstrous swords who were more powerful than any I had seen. My knees quacked in fear at the sight of the skeletal warrior but I stayed to make sure the roving homicidal terrors were finally defeated. The Fallen Hero destroyed the warpriest in two mighty blows. The orc and the spell begger remained and the wizard cowered in the corner.

Unbelievably by using dire and fell magics these two legs were able to bring their allies back to life and then turn around and destroy the Fallen Hero. By all that is ratty these two legs were either dangerously powerful or lucky.

Ambro falls to the demons
They spent a few days locked in the room of the Fallen Hero, what dark magics they practiced in there I’ll never know. The two legs ventured out again this time bursting into the home of Ambro and his ogre friends. What these five male ogres did in their home in such tight quarters I can only guess but they seemed immune to Isnot’s charms as the one called Xoshak seemed to indicate that Isnot was betrothed to Ambro or one of his friends.
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A fierce but short battle ensues and the blood flowed like a river. Soon only Ambro was left alone and after losing his hand from a mighty swipe form Xoshak, Ambro soon fell. We the rats, must be vigilant to strike down Dyrth as soon as possible since his fell magic seem to infuse the two legs with power that makes them immune to permanent harm.

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Purple Worm

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Descending deeper into Rappan Athuk the two legs went to the worm place, finally, the fools went in despite a warning sign. Hiding deep at the entrance next to the warning sign by Sigfried the Archmage I watched as a purple worm attacked the warpreist and bit her grabbing her in his mighty mouth. There was some panicked rushing and then soon many of the two legs were in the river out of sight. Dyrth the fell magic user was alone having jumped back over the river and it is unknown what had happened the nameless sneak. It seems the two legged murders had been wounded, split, and lost…some small measure of justice after all.

Story from the thought rock collected in the Year of the Snake and attributed to Xoshak in this time period.

Agghhh….water…wet…cold…dark. I thought I could barely make out the magical light emanating from my companions as we were all swept down the river. All of us? Well I was not so sure, what about Jonny Lawless and Dyrth?

Cough..splutter…cough..splutter. I’m in a room with a pool and the river continues on. I fight hard to pull Xanara and Isnot out of the water. Bangu pulls Herald out. Wraiths appear and battle ensures with magic swipe and positive energy they’re defeated. We stumble on…so tired…so very tired…

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Formation of Xoshak's Raiders
Annals of the Brave, Volume Thirty Nine

Annals of the Brave, Volume Thirty Nine

Gathering in Zelkor’s Ferry; Xoshak, Herald, Zinara, Dryth’Synth, Isnot, and Johnny band together to seek treasure and make the world a safer place. Many scholars debate which priority was greater to Xoshak’s Raiders, sometimes known as the Delver’s Guild, but few can doubt the impact of the band on future events.

Heading into Mouth of Doom Xoshak’s Raiders followed the path that Xoshak and Zinara had followed before. Soon they found themselves facing the fat leering demon relief that Gabriel had been teleported through previously. Reaching out and straining against a magical repulsion the band touched the relief and crumbled to dust, their ashes being sucked within the leering mouth and whisked away to another destination.

The band found a strange room with disks in the ground that could be turned in different positions. They seemed to control the direction of teleportation. The bulk of events that occurred in the following few days took place in a disjointed sojourn through many isolated rooms connected only be a maddening labyrinth of teleportation devices.

Battle of the Rats
A room full of despicable disgusting rats of great size and even a few as big as men. The Raiders waded through the swarm as Isnot held the doorway protecting the lesser Raiders as Zinara was first to setp into the room in a daring bid that had her surrounded by rats on all sides. Xoshak tumbled through the pack to face the large rat men at the back and flank the large Ratman who was injuring Zinara. Zinara was first to setp into the room in a daring bid that had her surrounded by rats on all sides.

Hyrdra Attack!
They appeared on an island of stone surrounded by water as a dreaded Sea Hydra appeared. Leaping with a mighty roar Xoshak raked the beast with his armor spikes before the monster could react. The heroes then began to jump in the water and swim or hold their ground on the stone platform. Some of the party making for the island in the lake with the next teleporter. The Hydra withdraws after most of us make the island.
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Relentless the heroes go back this time the noble Dryth casting Abeloth lung allowing the band to breath underwater, the heroes then decending into the depths to directly confront the Hydra. Isnot pounds her shield to attract the monster.

An epic battle ensued with the Hydra hunting down some of the heroes one by one. Herald and Johnny were laid low. The Hydra even climbing on the island to take Herald. Only after some time were Isnot and Xoshak able to grapple the Hydra plunging their daggers into the beast swimming underwater time and again.

Arrival at Rappan Athuk
Finally the group left the Mouth of Doom and arrived at a gloomy graveyard where the dead were anything but at rest. Life size statute of dwarf and visited frequently. “Blessed is he who spares these stone, and cursed is the one who moves my bones” key in hidden chamber.

Xoshak’s Raiders then found a Strange green stone maouselem with many exterior sunken graves. They had found Rappan Athuk!

Surrounded by rats and ghouls The Raiders descend withdraw into the mausoleum. Finding a trap door in the floor they descended deep into Rappan Athuk. It was shorty after this that great Commode battle occurred…

At this point there is a break in the text…

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Rappan Ahtuk Dryths View
The Chicken Wins

Working the map the one with no name tried to find the correct combination of the triangular transporters and map our route. Soon we found our selves in Deep trouble as the last Jump sent us to the grave yard of Rappan Ahtuk!

A cross shaped grave yard with mausoleums at the upper three corners and a well at the bottom. as we searched the mausoleum to the north there was writing, I believe it was in Dwarvish I suspect the one with no name could read it but I was not sure. Zenara noticed movement, as the undead began to rise I raised my cross and warned them to run or be destroyed! Fearing me they called there rodents and they began to swarm, even though I had the dead well in hand My companions felt they could not defeat the creatures and to my dismay they ran into the mausoleum the one with no name had opened.

I attempted to Consecrate the ground to fight on but their fear of death I feel distracted me and I was unsuccessful casting the spell. reluctantly I joined them in the Mausoleum. In the middle was a large Sarcophagus with candelabra’s Soshack found a secret door as the creatures outside began beating on the door. Its weight was so great it took all of our party and one chicken to finally get it moved. As we moved the candles on the Sarcophagus the roof began to descend we thought it prudent to descend even deeper into the depths of the dungeon.

to tell you the truth I was beginning to think the place was well over rated when one of the most bizarre things I ever saw happened. The one with no name decided to use a pristine commode Zenara had found. to our amazement his dearie became adhered to the seat, I found out later the creature was called a mimic or something like that! He was the butt of a few joke before we realized thru his screams that he was being attacked
Desperate times call for desperate measures

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Ogres, Roaches and Snakes
OH MY!!!

After exploring most of the Mouth of Doom four adventurers followed a stairway further below ground and found the GUT.

The Gut turned out to be a corridor of worked stone that has been tread upon by so many feet over the years that the stones are worn away.

This group traveled for 9 hours, on the way meeting three Ogres and almost fell to them in the corridor. The killed them after a difficult fight. At the end of their 9 hours they came upon an intersection in the corridor. It split left and right. The group went right and then left, and found a stable and a doorway in the left wall.

They entered the door and fond an Inn. Everything on the menu was twice the normal price except the sausage that was half price. Gilbert thought that sounded great and had some. They got rooms. Three separate ones with the two halflings sharing one.

During the night Lusanne died, and Gilbert had no idea how it happened. Although, Lusanne was blue as if she died of oxygen deprivation.

Gilbert found Zenarra in the morning and told her what happened. They decided to hide it from their most recent party member.

They decided to go into the common room and confront the Inn Keeper (The Roach Man). When they entered the common room their were 4 goblins and 5 Ogres. There was also a new human, who looked scared of the ogres. Gilbert sat with the new human and talked to him. He found out that five ogres had killed his party a couple hours ago and he fled. The five ogres in the Inn were looking at this human, speaking in ogre and laughing among themselves. They seemed to enjoy his discomfort.

Gilbert then went to talk goblins for a bit.

Zenarra, the new Human and the disguiser, decided that rather than confront the Inn Keeper with goblins and ogres in the bar they would leave. As they were fleeing out the door and down the corridor into the unknown.

As they fled the Inn Gilbert jumped onto the bar and stabbed the Inn Keeper in the chest with his rapier. The Inn Keeper grabbed Gilbert by the thought and Gilbert found he could not escape his grip.

The ogres were taking bets on who would win. One ogre could not find his belt pouch.

But they all cheered when Gilbert was killed by the Roach.

The group of three escapees continued down the corridor for many hours. Eventually, it opened up into a cave.

They entered cautiously. Creeping slowly through the cave. There were pools of water an they perceived that something was hiding in one of the pools. They waited and eventually a snake came out of the pool and attacked the small group. The new human died in the battle and the snake retreated to the water.

Zenarra and Julie moved away from the pool and rested. Then they began to work their way back down the corridor cautiously. As they crept along the corridor they heard ogres approaching. Hector used dancing lights to confuse them and they retreated back to the cavern they found earlier. The ogres never showed up so they began again. They found some goblins and met more ogres. Zanarra cast sanctuary upon herself and John, and they slid through the ogres with just a few attacks and mostly missed.

Eventually, they escaped from the Gut and the Mouth of Doom and returned to Zelkor’s Ferry where an expedition was being mounted to find them after their five day adventure.

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Ebrim's Story
Zelkor's Ferry

Deprived of the guards’ company, you take another look around the room. The woman sitting on the other side of the room appears to be a half-elf; the profile you can see shows the tip of a slightly pointed ear peeking out from her dark, shoulder-length hair. She takes a drink from her goblet and then sits staring into the distance, her chin on her right hand and her arms resting on the table. Absently she reaches her right hand under her hair, rubbing her left cheek, or perhaps her ear, and then moves to take up her goblet again. After emptying it she turns your direction and stands, and your glance is immediately drawn to the black patch over her left eye.
As the half-elf passes you on her way to the bar you catch a glimpse of a scar that runs from her left eye back under her hair on that side, but the hair hangs straight down, covering everything else. She also holds her left arm stiffly, with the elbow bent and out a little bit from her side instead of hanging naturally, and she wears a soft leather glove on that hand. Tallie speaks with the woman as she refills her cup and the server gestures in your direction. The half-elf nods and returns to her seat, and Tallie comes around the bar, wiping her hands on her apron.
“Amelia says you’re interested in some of the underground areas hereabouts,” the young woman begins. “I’ve heard that lady over there has done some exploring around here in the past. I thought she might be able to tell you a thing or two, and she said she would be willing if you would buy her somewhat to eat and drink. Her time is short, though, because she’s leaving when the riverboat comes in.” A few coins change hands, then Tallie takes you to the half-elf’s table. “I’d like to make known Ebrima Perigord. I hope she’s helpful to you.” She gives you a nod and heads back to her chores.
Ebrima is drinking white wine, and Tallie shortly arrives with a plate of fresh bread, cheeses, and sliced meat, which the woman nibbles at as she talks, pausing for bites between sentences. The half-elf seems quite willing to relate her experiences.
“I’ve been adventuring in this area for some time, so I can definitely tell you a lot of what you need to know. Only thirty miles from here, or maybe only about twenty, is a large dungeon, several levels deep, that they call the ‘Mouth of Doom.’ A year ago I was part of a group that did some rather extensive exploration of it. We were the, uh, League of Danger; you may have heard of us. We had several members, but those of us who set out in search of the Mouth of Doom were Nyala the Bold, Vani Kinslayer (a valiant dwarven fighter), Sir Bulmer the, uh, Magnificent, Lotha Quicksilver, the gnome priest Dobkin the Wise, and myself, Ebrima the Silent.”
“In our search for the dungeon entrance, we accidentally encountered an evil, uh, cleric who lives in the forest to the south of here. She hates all humanoids and kills them on sight! When she heard where we were headed she attacked us, assisted by packs of wolves and worgs. Battle was not our purpose so we tried to move on out of her area, but she summoned dozens of gargantuan spiders to try to trap us before we could get away.

“Be wary in that area of forest; her spiders are big enough to carry off a full-grown man. Their poison subdues prey, but it doesn’t usually kill the victims. You’ll just lie there helpless as the spiders wrap you in their webbing, turning you over and over until the web covers first your body and then your face. Next they hoist you up into their trees and hang you head down – still alive but only barely, to contemplate how it feels to be fresh meat and pray to your gods that you die peacefully from lack of air before the spiders decide to make you their next meal. If you find yourself in a spider wood, look carefully at the bundles of web hanging there; some of them might be people you once knew.”
She takes another drink of wine and goes on, gesturing emphatically. “Despite the efforts of the, uh, depraved cleric, we discovered the entrance to the Mouth of Doom and moved in on it like a bolt of lightning. In short order we routed out a band of bugbears from the first level. We sneered at the spiked pits and poisoned-arrow traps. We lived to speak about the green fire, and fought the demons in the, uh, room of many gods.
“Then, we found a chamber with a statue of that evil cleric’s ancient deity. A black skeleton accompanied by worgs guarded the stair to a deeper level. Of course, in such a place there will be undead, and we fought those. The priest, ah, Holy Dobkin was able to do much against them, but the battle was fearsome.” The half-elf lowers her voice and leans toward you. “We traveled even further and found a place where it seemed the very air was poisoned. Despite the noxious stench we managed to rid the world of the, uh, twisted creature living in the lake at the center of the trouble. It was there my eye was wounded by the poisoned claw of the being, and my ear as well.” At this Ebrima pulls back the hair covering the left side of her head and you see that the top of her left ear is missing. The cut that took it off must have been rather deep, because a puckered line of scar tissue runs from her eyepatch to the ear and across the top of it. She smooths the hair back down and continues.
“Despite our wounds, we continued our explorations. Once we found ourselves trapped in a room with no doors, and it was only my, uh, quick thinking that enabled us to foil that magic that would have entombed us there forever. Finally we returned to the stair that would eventually let us out of the dungeon, but our retreat was prevented by a, ah, pack of large dogs, the biggest I had ever seen, and their growls were ferocious. Not only were their teeth razor sharp but we discovered they were hellspawn and could breathe fire!” Ebrima’s voice grows excited and she gestures animatedly.
“We fought relentlessly but were bitten, burned, and generally mauled. I, uh, tried to prevent one of the helldogs from breathing fire on me by thrusting my forearm across its jaws.” At this the half-elf draws off the leather glove on her left hand, and gently pushes up her sleeve. Her arm is a mass of scars, with criss-crossing white lines and odd indentations where some flesh seems to be missing. The hand itself is misshapen by scar tissue and the fingers appear stiff and are bent oddly. “At least having my arm in his mouth brought him close enough that I could use my sword to good effect.” Ebrima adjusts her sleeve and slides her glove back on, but before she can say any more Tallie returns.
“Sorry to interrupt you, Ebrima, but you asked me to let you know when the riverboat arrived. I knew you’d need to be leaving right away, so I wrapped up the rest of the bread and cheese for you.” She holds a small bundle packaged in a piece of worn cloth.
Standing, the half-elf pulls a pack from underneath the back corner of the table and hefts it on her good shoulder. Tallie slips the packet of food into the top of it then moves away. “This place kills people early, and it’s no place for someone with an imagination. I’m leaving this area forever, before I miss my chance to get out of here alive – and so should you.” Ebrima toasts you with the last swallow of her wine, then sweeps out the door.

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The Guard's Story
Zelkor's Ferry

You have to blink a few times when you enter the inn; it seems a little dim after the bright sun. You see Pappy snoring in his corner and a woman sitting by herself on the other side of the room, while Tallie is behind the bar serving the off-duty guards. You get something to drink as well and join the men at a long table near the windows.
“Harlemen Jesco,” the first man begins, “and over there is Serlio Mazam.” Mazam has the bronzed, weathered skin of a person who comes from the south, in or near the great desert. Jesco appears to be from somewhere around here, with the brown hair and brown eyes common in these parts. “We’re both former caravan guards, traveled around the area, and now working here where it’s relatively safe and the ale is good.”
“Mazam and I both hired on as part of an expedition that was planning to explore Rappan Athuk. We had known each other a bit from the caravans along the Coast Road, but had never worked together. Our employers looked down on us and gave us all the worst jobs around the camp, but that was what we had expected. They were paying us enough to make it worth our while, including a good part of the money up front. Also they had supplied us with some magical items that we never would have been able to get otherwise. I was given a magical ring and a longsword.”
Mazam speaks up at that point. “I got a magic helmet and a longspear. I knew what that meant, though: I’d be expected to be up in front with the long weapon when fighting some of the larger beasts or monsters we would no doubt meet. It’s the sort of gift that comes with a dangerous obligation.”
“We did well enough in the wilderness,” Jesco continues. “The group we were with was experienced and worked well as a team. We fought one group of trolls, and were attacked by some gargoyles guarding the entrance when we arrived at the great dungeon. That took magical healing for everyone to recover.
“The entire complex is built in a sunken area, or sank after it was constructed, so it has no long view of the surrounding area. Mazam and I

were on watch at different points on the edge of the bowl while the others checked out the various buildings. The forest around there was eerie – very quiet. Our group called us in when they were ready to open the main doors.
“The doors were locked, so the wizard used a spell to open them. As they slowly swung in, a gust of air came pouring out reeking of death. We had expected some stale or smelly air inside the dungeon, but this was rank enough it had us all gagging. When the doors opened far enough to let some light inside we could see why the stink: on the floor just inside were eight slimy spots that had once been bodies. A couple were quite near the door and I got a good look. It seemed like the bodies had been dissolved or liquefied, and when that happened the armor just crumpled in on itself.”
“That right there was enough for me!” Mazam exclaims.
“That’s right,” agrees Jesco. “The folks in there looked experienced, or at least well-equipped. I saw suits of full plate armor on two of those bodies, but the suction of the bodies liquefying had crumpled them in just like paper. I also know they had at least some magical items, because next to one long robe drenched with slime was lying a slender wooden staff, cracked all the way down its length, with a shattered blue gem at the top. Whatever magic overcame that group was powerful.”
“I said, ‘That’s it, I’m not going in there!’ The people who hired us weren’t happy about it at all,” says Mazam. “I told them they weren’t paying me enough to go in a place where bunches of people die in the very first room.”
“We gave them back their magical weapons and things,” Jesco explains, “rather abruptly, in fact. I figured I’d done enough work on the trek out from the city to earn the advance I’d been given, but I didn’t want to be accused of stealing the magical items. Maybe someone else would need them later. Then we just left. The two of us headed back for the Coast Road. It wasn’t long before we were able to both hire on with a caravan; none of the masters seemed to hold it against us that we hadn’t wanted to head down into that evil place. A couple even seemed to think we showed wise judgment to avoid it altogether.”
“I’d rather face brigands any day – or every day,” Mazam adds, “than set foot into that cursed dungeon. Even the vicious ogres and the immense spiders don’t frighten me as much as just peering into the stinking darkness that day. Being hired by Bristleback here has given us a comfortable base. We don’t travel much, and fight only once in a while. If Bristleback would drop his obsession about finding some ‘red bear,’ life would be easy.”
“We keep hearing people say, ‘Don’t go down the well’ when they talk about that dungeon,” Jesco says. “Mazam and I don’t know what well they mean, but we think it might be preferable to getting killed just inside the front door.”
At that moment a boy appears at the door of the inn. “Sirs, the Captain is looking for you,” he calls.
“Never a dull moment,” Jesco remarks wryly. He and Mazam drain their mugs before they rise, give you a nod, and stride away.

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