The Emerald Spire and Beyond!
Kat's Messy Notebook
Pharast ??, AR 4715
A letter fills the next few pages – most of it, however, is scribbled into illegibility.
Hello Mother dearest Greetings from the north? Spire, I’m not quite sure how to begin I hope you are well. I am fine.
I’m sorry to Do you remember the story of our tribe? The orcs Grandfather Emilius did something
to him? I think it’s
The rest is completely unintelligible; however a formal entry appears several pages later in newer ink, but undated.
Has it really been this long since I made an entry?
It’s been forever.
Delving into the Spire continues to be fruitful!
To be honest I don’t want to say the dangers have been overestimated, but our group (Nightengale, Bobbity, Arundel, Xemcel, and myself) have become a strong, capable fighting force. (did we ever decide on a name for our party?)
We have defeated what has been called the Master of the Spire, but though he was a formidable caster (and worshipper of ancient, befouled gods), she was no match for us. Yet at least one more floor is beneath us – and I suspect more beyond that. Who is the true Master of the Spire, then? And what do they want?
My memories Since our most recent run, I’ve been unable to focus like I used to. My nerves boil and my blood stings, like a furious thunderstorm. In hindsight (always perfect, as Mother says), this has been happening for quite some time – quietly, subtly. Something changed.
Last night’s research was a waste of time.
I found myself Doodling! That page of my spellbook is ruined. For the most part. I think there is something valuable to salvage from the scribblings; I could see learning something about efficiency to cut down on my component usage from this mess. While components are hardly more than a little nuisance, it does mean I’ll be free from them. If I can just figure it out.
What follows are a few more pages trying to decipher the arcane nonsense. Several scorch marks dot the pages, including several strings of frustrated orcish.
It is past midnight and my candles burned down hours ago. I only noticed now, in total darkness. I cast light, and had to immediately avert my gaze – apparently my eyes no longer adjust as quickly as they used to.
It appears I am able to see even in utter darkness, a trait well known to orc-kind. My tusks have begun growing again; there is most certainly an apothecary able to sell me herbs to soothe aching teeth and gums. I have never seen my skin so grey-green – not pallid, not sickly. Had I not known myself, I would have said I was an orc child, no halfling at all.
And then there is the matter of the scales. Of a bronze dragon, I have no doubts.
I am a mongrel, but that is not new to our family, bizarre as the circumstances may be. But my bronze scales are unique even among us. Bronze is lightning, orcs are fury. They have always been here, just as my heart or brain. I do wonder what other arcane scholars might say! A halfling by birth parents, with the blood of orcs and dragons in my veins. And now they are awakened.
I need not even will it – even the tiniest of aggressive magic explodes from my fingertips like a thing incensed. I appear to risk shocking what I touch even without magic – nothing harmful, a mere static shock, as if rubbing my feet on carpet or petting a cat. But that energy is not random.
Speaking of cats, Echo’s been complaining that I have been ignoring him in favour of these ‘noble but futile pursuits’ and that I should have ‘kept my primary focus on our joint development.’ I agree, but these changes had to be documented.
Far be it from me to make enemies of my sword. I will make it up to him.
Has he always been able to speak, and simply chosen not to?
A few rough sketches of the mi-go parts are detailed over the first page and a half. Predominately externals, but Kat has also made several ‘educated guesswork’ type notes regarding the creature’s internal anatomy – along with many, many scribbled out observations and assertations.
Pharast ??, AR 4715
Oh! Where do I begin?
Today was another very close call, and without the aid of Arundel and his companion, we’d have died – again. Xemcel (sp?) and Bobbity were missing again, unfortunately. I hope they’re all right. Perhaps Gorn has some information about them.
But my blade! Echo has lived up to its name in more ways than one. I’d heard tell of wizards and their familiars and that strange bond they share. Yet, to be bonded with a weapon? It has thoughts, expectations, opinions – or at least, that is what I understand for intelligent weapons. But Echo communicates not through direct words, but images, sounds, reflections. At times, I feel like I can see the world twice, through two sets of eyes. Sometimes, this has helped me see things I’d have otherwise missed.
Echo has yet to address me directly in words, but I feel that we are on the correct path. It assures me of what I have always felt to be true: I am meant to be here.
Moreover, our powers have grown and become more closely linked. Now that I have properly learned to channel my spells through Echo, I feel more confident than ever before.
(For some reason, I keep imagining Echo as a rapier. It’s such a silly notion – I’ve been trained in the scimitar my entire adventuring career. A rapier is far too dainty a weapon! Perhaps this is all due to lingering memories from that pool of visions? Or maybe I’m putting far too much blame on that thing and I’m simply incredibly, incredibly stressed.)
NB: Buy more of those roasted wakefulness beans. I have a theory, basic alchemy, really – boil the beans to extract their properties and combine them with something sweet to curb the bitter flavour. This should make them far more palatable. Perhaps Bobbity would have some advice as well, if I could find him to ask him.
As for the dangers themselves…I have never seen such an eclectic collection. I swear on my grandmother’s bones, the layers of these dungeons were placed together by some mad intelligence. Flying snakes and two-headed lizard skeletons aside, fungus seemed to be the rule of the dungeon here.
Among other things.
I’m all my readings, I’ve only caught whispers of the things far outside our reality. More that mere outsiders such as elementals or demons, they come from Another Place of madness and chaos out between the stars. I believe the creature we fought today was one such
beast horror. Such terrifying power!
Yet, it was curiously bizarre how it used magic wands, no different from a mortal spellcaster. Perhaps these beings are not so far beyond us as the texts suggest.
I have collected pieces of the thing I believe was a ‘mi-go’ for further study. I plan on doing extensive research into the subject.
Either way, the power Echo and I now share proved itself very capable. That scroll of keen edge was the best 375 gp I’ve ever spent. I shall buy another. Perhaps several. I should not underestimate the value of invisibility, either.
Final note: I have heard of rods imbued with metamagic power. My offensive capabilities are almost entirely limited to electrical damage, but perhaps if I had a rod that allowed me to shift the elemental energies on the fly, I could become more versatile against the threats we face.
Curse my small spellbook! Curse my limited capacity for daily magic! And curse my pouch, which holds coin the way a sieve holds water.
This page is nearly black with sketch lines, as if Kat had tried to draw several images over the same page. Shadowy figures lurk amidst the chaotic lines, frantically and hastily drawn before they could be forgotten. Central to the image, however, around which all figures converge, is a black needle-like weapon. The writing on the opposite page is shaky and uneven.
Pharast 21, AR 4715
I died today.
Maybe we all did. I feel it in my bones. There are just some things you do not forget, even if you can’t quite recall them. I’d like to believe I was lucky, or delusional from my wounds, or perhaps saved by the tenacity of my apparent orcish blood. But the lingering chill in my bones and my scorched clothing tell a different story. My skin is fresh and new, but beneath, my nerves are raw.
Perhaps it was just some echoing effect of Thornkeep’s pool of visions, but I remember death. I remember the stink of burning hair and flesh – my own – and a deep cold silence. I remember light, and the sounds of feasting and laughter.
I don’t know whether it was Iomedae’s grace or Cayden Cailean’s provenance – or some other force – that saved me, but I woke up as I was being carried from the dungeon. Since then, I have been beset by an unsettling sensation of déjà vu. Like I am but a reflection of another life lived. None of the others seemed willing to talk about it, but I admit I didn’t broach the subject. We were all tired; survival and rest trumped all else.
Grandmother had a fondness for saying, ‘One cannot stand at a crossroads forever.’ Granted, it was usually in response to one indecisive childish thing or another, but somehow I feel it apropos. I was at a crossroads today, but I didn’t choose. I think, perhaps, the choice was taken from me, and if so, it was not my god’s doing.
Maybe the reason doesn’t matter, and maybe I should be thankful that I am alive after all.
Tried to capture the memories in ink (see opposite), but how does one draw weary certainty?
That black blade haunts my memory of this as well. I have decided to name it, at least until I discover it in reality.
Deathward Dreamspire Blackwatch Consequence
I am fond of Echo. I’ll sleep on it.
Assuming I can sleep tonight. I’ve had quite enough of visions and unconsciousness, and sleep brings both.
Between this journal entry and the previous one, several pages (and several inserted pages) are covered in a manic, excited scrawl – primarily in Draconic, with smatterings of Halfling, Infernal, and Abyssal. Upon closer inspection, they appear to be spells. The writing quality only gets worse as it goes on. It looks like Kat was up all night writing.
Pharast 19, AR 4715
The vision from the pool. Powerful imagery, if fleeting. I saw all of the Accursed Halls spread out below. Every step, every strike, every failure. Death, over and over again. I don’t remember anything specific, but it hunches in the back of my mind like a dream that refuses to fully dissipate after waking.
Maybe I’m fooling Mother would call me a fool for thinking this (NB: should write her again I guess), but despite all the failure I saw…not all paths lead to our demise. I can’t for the life of I have no memory of precisely what we might find down there. But the fact that we can survive it gives me hope. In fact, it only confirms my gut feeling – I’m meant to be here, exploring the Emerald Spire and, indeed, these Accursed Halls. This is knowledge worth holding on to.
One specific image from the visions stood out to me: after a certain point, I saw myself with a
blade rapier of gleaming black, almost like obsidian. It hummed with magic. Where will I find this black blade? Why is it the only image I can recall with absolute clarity?
The journal entry is interrupted by a series of half-finished arcane equations taking up nearly two pages.
Not the black blade (whatever that may be), but magic!
Perhaps I Maybe something in the vision helped alter my perspective (seeing myself perform magic over and over again? I have heard it said you can practice and learn even in dreams.), or maybe my experiences have just changed me. Either way, I have felt the spark and unlocked the key. After so long studying, practicing…
Each spell resides like a bundle of tinder, carefully arranged – quickly burned up and dissipated when cast. I believe I can recapture portions of that lost energy – not enough to renew my consumed spells, but perhaps enough to do other things with this pool of arcane power. Visions of the black blade have given me an idea. I think I can channel this raw magic through my blade to enhance it. With practice, I think I could manage to cast certain spells through my rapier as well. More practice. I can never stop improving. Magic!
Sunlight is already peaking over the horizon. I should sleep.
Pharast 20, AR 4715
Less tired now. A merchant was selling these odd-smelling roasted beans, claiming they could be turned into a sort of tea or eaten as they were for a boost of energy (not magical).
While I can’t agree with the taste They taste terrible. Bitter as, well, bitterroot. But they work as promised and seemingly without side effects. I think I should purchase more. Maybe they will be an acquired taste.
We’d only barely met, but I think I’ll miss Drogan. I hope he finds whatever he was searching for.
My earlier fears about the party were unfounded. Though the Accursed Halls took their toll on all of us
(and that’s putting it lightly) we pulled through. I was far too harsh on Nightengale, maybe products of my frustration over the insanity of the Spire generally that left me overly critical. The oppressive darkness of rugged terrain didn’t help anyone’s performance. In the Accursed Halls, she proved her skills time and again, and her skill with traps – even magical ones – was nearly mystical. My own skill with the sling was sorely lacking atrocious. Father would be disappointed in me. I think I will purchase a shortbow. At this rate, I will be carrying nothing but weapons.
Drogan’s replacement is an elf or half-elf of Iomedae. Also skilled, though I always feel like elves are more fragile than others
(but I’ve always had a fondness for dwarves). They, and that ugly little alchemist creature, were also invaluable.
We are growing as a group, learning each others’ ways. I believe we will become a true force to be reckoned with, if we continue to survive. Earlier, Gorn mentioned something about a name for our little adventuring party. Should bring this up with them at breakfast this morning. I’ve been too busy with magic to consider it.
This entry has already gone on far too long.
Final thoughts. Influence of the Azlanti’s ancient empire is everywhere. I shall begin using the samples of the writing we have found to decipher the language. Perhaps I will also pick up a primer on Abyssal. Ask Gorn to speak to his contacts about a wand of a specific infernal nature. The magic is distasteful and unpleasant to be exposed to, but the regenerative properties of outsider blood cannot be overlooked.
N.B. Curse this Zog to the Abyss, if he is not already there. I hate the undead. I hate goblins. If I ever see either of them again, it will be too soon. But considering where we are, it’s inevitable. Father would be proud of that terrible pun. I miss him dearly.
Above, around, and below a hastily drawn map of the first floor of the Spire (with the words NOT TO SCALE scrawled in the margin), a number of shorthand notes crowd the page. On the opposing page, a more coherent journal entry begins.
Pharast 18, AR 4715
Only spent a day in Fort Inevitable and I already hate it. The Hellknights make my skin crawl, and the way some people are treated…it makes me sick. But I know better than to go charging through a bear den.
Gorn was as helpful as I hoped, and introduced me to
my most of my co-explorers. All tall-folk, other than an (apparently) strange little creature who was off on some task of his own. He mentioned another location, Thornkeep, which I hadn’t heard of until now. Apparently it carries some significance, and has some relation to an ancient goblin empire (!). Zog? It may be worth exploring, but the Spire remains my focus.
The first floor of the Spire was nothing like I expected. Oppressively dark, strewn with rubble, and filled to bursting with goblins, of all things. Despite the environmental factors, I fail to see how other adventuring parties were stymied by this. That said, without the cleric (see notes below), we’d never have made it through alive.
May have to buy a new cloak. This one is soaked through with dog guts.
Notes Initial thoughts on the Party Alfrid Alfid? (NB: Ask for spellings! Usually it’s the elf names I have trouble with.), a cleric of Erastil and the only human in the bunch. He seems kind and intelligent, and was very capable with his healing magic. Never seen a cleric with a bow before, thought they all used hammers and maces and such. But he’s a good shot and kept us all alive, which is all that matters.
Drogan is a dwarf. Not sure what else to say, really. Don’t like stereotyping, but he’s the dwarfiest dwarf I’ve ever met. Sturdy, always willing to step up to protect the group, and a smart tactician. Thought for sure he was dead when the hobgoblin struck him down, but that just shows how hardy dwarves really are. I feel safer having him around.
There’s another fighter, some sort of snake-thing. Never met one such as he (her? How can you tell with snakes?), but they were also capable. Used a polearm, but was also handy with a scimitar. Skewered quite a few goblins. Competent, if quiet. I’m curious where they came from, and what brings them to a place like this.
Nightengale (must be an alias): the last member I met looked human, but turned into some sort of fox-person later. A kitsune? I think that’s what they’re called. Quiet as a churchmouse when moving, but was a poor shot with a bow. It was dark and cramped, but that didn’t stop the cleric from shooting straight. I worry about her long-term survivability. Perhaps she is simply newer to the adventuring life than the rest of us. Got a keen eye for traps and locks though. It’s clear she’s here for the lure of treasure and nothing else. Hope that doesn’t get us all killed.
Curious to meet the sixth member, whom I know little about, beyond that he’s not one of the tall-folk, but neither halfling nor gnome.
Buy more torches. Or better yet, sunrods.
Magical studies have been progressing. I’m close to a breakthrough. I’ve managed to create magical light a few times, among other things, but my time for experimentation is at a premium. I have a feeling I’ll need to figure this out sooner, rather than later.
We ran into some sort of construct, built of flesh and machine parts. I suppose the arm could be used as some manner of club, but why? I’ve taken the liberty of examining some of its creator’s notes and formulae, but it’s all goblin to me. I should see if there’s a primer available in one of the local bookstores.
There must be a cleaner who can remove blood stains. Perhaps I can manage some sort of cleaning spell? I did it once, and it mostly worked. Otherwise, buy new cloak.
Another note is added in fresher ink.
Buy new cloak.
A number of pages of this large tome, bound in peeling leather, appear to be torn from other books and stuffed haphazardly inside. In other places, folded slips of paper or opened envelopes stick out from the tome, perhaps as bookmarks. Countless pages have been devoted to the study of battle magic (many of the stolen pages contain similar content).
Among the most recent additions to the tome is a scrapped and unsent letter, kept for reasons unknown.
Pharast 16, AR 4715
Dearest Mother Dear Mom Greetings
I know I haven’t spoke written in a while.
I guess you’re surprised to hear from me. I didn’t think I’d be writing
Hope you get this, I’m a long way from home. I
It’s more than a legend. I’m here. I found it. I don’t want to say ‘I told you so.’ We both know there’s more to it than that. But I told you so.
It’s not like I It’s huge. I’ve never seen a tower so big. Bigger than I thought, even with the legends. I’ll need to find allies before I go inside. There’s someone on the inside who can I’ll make it. With how things were going back home, this was the right choice.
I’ll be getting inside Fort Inevitable
(what’s so inevitable about a city?) tomorrow. I’ll write more.