Excerpt for the journal of Serendipity
After what seemed like months in the caverns, my associates and I finally discovered an exit. The cave opened up to a cliff overlooking a foggy and expansive marshland. Mercada (now in the form of a male elf) had prepared breakfast, so I sat down to the meal. It was the first chance I have had to more fully inspect the sacrificial dagger I found… The blade is as wicked as it is remarkable.
The rest was only a temporary reprieve, and we soon set out to traverse the bog. The fog was incredibly thick, and we decided to march in rows of three. As the party filed in, it became apparent that Quortex and Tor had split off from the group. Seeing no point in waiting for them, the rest of us set out.
Suddenly, the silence of the marsh was pierced by the unmistakable yelp of a distressed fox – and we knew Quortex had found trouble. As Tower, Mercuria, Scythe, and I searched for Quortex, another call for help came from the distance. It seemed that Tor had also found trouble. Rand was the first to find Tor stuck in quicksand – a troll was the next. Before Tor could free himself from the muck, three more trolls emerged from the mist and came against him.
We heard the sounds of battle as we pulled Quortex from the quicksand, and the entire party was soon gathered to do battle with the trolls. The fight was fierce, and soon one of the trolls lay in pieces. As the group refocused on the remaining trolls, the fallen monster stood up and was again upon us! We realized that the tales of troll regeneration were true, and that we’d need to slay them with fire or acid in order to stop them.
Luckily enough, I happen to have a certain affinity for flame.
During the battle, Rand heard someone beckoning him from deep within the fog. He approached tentatively, and soon saw a quickling dart past a large black dragon coiled up ready to spit flame. Tor was the next to spot the dragon, and he quickly loosed an arrow – which skipped off the dragon like hail on a roof.
Once the trolls were fully immolated, the rest of us turned our attention to the dragon, only to realize that the beast had been petrified. As we moved in to further inspect it, a halfling emerged from the fog and congratulated us on our victory. The halfling had been hiding from the trolls near the statue, and had recovered a sealed message that the quickling had dropped.
Greve and Quortex began fighting over the letter, which was eventually torn in half. Tower and I inspected our respective halves of the letter, and discovered it was addressed to an embattled ruler in Moonstair. The halfling, however, insisted that we take it to his master who resided on the other side of a fey-gate. Seeing no alternative, we followed him through the fey-gate.
Apparently, our guide was under the employ of a Fomorian king, who was not particularly glad at our arrival. While a few of my more ambitious associates attempted to pacify him, another problem emerged. “Remember me!?” roared the halfling, who had just transformed into an Oni. Tor and him had a score to settle, and the Oni was quick to attack him. Having established favorable rapport with the Oni, I used a mind trick to calm him. The rage left his eyes for a moment, but the others didn’t notice the change and beat him back to aggression. Meanwhile, after a less than cordial conversation, the Fomorian also attacked.
The fight was brutal, but our numbers eventually turned the tide to our favor. Once the Oni fell, the Fomorian became enraged and struck even more furiously. Thankfully, Durg had recently found grace in the sight of Kord, and proved more than a match for the Fomorian. As I stood behind him, a strange impulse came over me and I felt compelled to strike both Durg and Scythe. I landed both blows – thankfully they believed the Fomorian had dominated my thoughts and compelled me to strike them…
Journal # 2:
After our encounter with the neogi, our party chased after one of their quickling slaves who had been sent off with a note. We found ourselves at the exit of the Undermountain caverns and at the edge of a densely-fogged bog. I petitioned for a long rest in the cave to ensure that nothing attacked us, and the party generally agreed. Our sentries reported an uneventful night. Rand discovered another card from the Deck of Many Things during his shift, and I encouraged him to keep the card hidden away. I want no part in whatever impossible magic those cards might still possess outside of their full compliment.
As we descended into the bog that afternoon, Qortex and Tor both immediately abandoned the party's strategy of sticking close together in the dense fog and both of them became ensnared in quicksand. While most of us went to rescue Qortex, Rand went to help Tor and found the ranger under attack by trolls. With improbable aim, Rand threw a potion of waterwalking to the barely-mobile Tor, freeing him from the quicksand. Tor promptly scarpered, leaving Rand with four trolls maddened by the loss of their quarry. Fortunately by that point, I and the rest of the party arrived before Rand could be overwhelmed.
Despite their knowledge of the territory and predatory senses, the trolls could barely manage to find us in the thick fog. Luck was on our side, but not intelligence, perhaps -- no one thought to burn the bodies of the first fallen trolls until after they regenerated and revived to attack us again. Even luck seemed to desert us when Rand reported that a black dragon was waiting not far to our South. However, with the trolls defeated and being burned by Makaria and Seren, I ventured toward the dragon only to find that it had been petrified all along.
At the base of the statue, a halfling calling himself Courier had been calling to us. He said he was taking a message, which had been dropped by a quicklin in the bog, to his master, Skalrand the Fomorian. He entrusted the message to Grieve, who appeared strongest, only to have the message ripped in half by two of our party simultaneously trying to steal and read it. I reassembled the pieces and discovered that the note was a call for aid for the town of Moonstair, which was under assault by some Troll King. Inquiring about the town and the conflict, Courier only said that the only way through was the Feygate. Qortex didn't trust the halfling (what kind of king could a Fomorian be, and what was Courier doing in the bog?), and I hardly trusted the context of the note (how was there a settled town in this wild country, and why would the neogi have had this note?), but the Feygate seemed the only way forward.
On the way to the Feygate, Courier revealed that the Jade Mask of the Cat Lord, the object that we sought, had been stolen, and that the Cat Lord was out looking for it.
Once at the Feygate, we discovered it to be a teleportation stone of sorts. Perhaps we were tired of playing teleportation games after the medusas' lair, because we decided to all go through it regardless of the danger. As predicted by several members of our party, it had been a trap. Skalrand was inhospitable to visitors, especially those who wanted to kill his quickling messengers, and tried to kill us. Also, Courier was actually a disguised oni (and apparently a servant of the malevolent Skalrand). Seren attempted to get the demonic oni to stand down, but the rest of the party (myself included) broke the illusion of a truce by attacking it.
We initially thought that the thin corridors would prevent the huge fomorian Skalrand from attacking us, but he surprised us with his teleportation magic. He appeared right next to me, on the opposite end of the room as the rest of the party! Fortunately, Durg came to my rescue. He discovered that the Gloves of Kord that he had inexplicably not been wearing granted him incredible strength when put on. He charged the humongous creature and marked it with holy light, drawing its attention away from me. The rest of the party slayed the oni, preventing it from outflanking Durg with a surprise charge, and then we took on Skalrand together. Seren joined the combat suddenly, having been conducting some sort of secret search during the battle, and suddenly attacked members of our party, perhaps under the influence of the fomorian's magic. But even this could not deter us, and we together slayed Skalrand.
One ambush after another could easily have taken a toll on our party, but I believe we are standing stronger than ever before. Not even a creature so large and fearsome as a fomorian could defeat us. As I looked around the party in the aftermath of the battle, I wondered at how even though we barely knew one another we were able to defeat such powerful foes. I have some hope that I will yet survive this ridiculous mess that I've gotten myself into, and that hope seems worth more to me than all the words of power or payment that this quest may yet provide.