Out of the Abyss

I'm tired

I am just so tired.

It feels like a lifetime ago the last time I saw my mother, or my father, or even my brothers. I didn’t know how lucky I was. I was an idiot back then. I had enough food to eat, a soft bed to sleep on, and safety. I never once went to sleep not wondering if I would wake up again. I never once had to actually use a sword, because the alternative would be death. I never once considered what it was like to be a slave, or a prisoner. Slaves were just slaves because… because! Because it was their lot in life. I was above all that.

I’ve managed not to die this far. And now we’re in Graklestugh, and every day I continue to not die, but it takes so much effort to just stay alive and keep moving that I feel like I don’t have enough room for caring about too much. The consequences of my actions. Who I hurt. What I owe Him.

I thought we would be safe in Graklestugh. I mean, it’s a city, right? A mixed-up, backwards city with no sun and people who talk strange and invisible assassins and a dragon. Did I mention the dragon? A big red one. But anyways, somehow I thought that if we just got to the city, we would be able to sign on with a caravan and be on our way. Like it would all be over.

But it’s not. There’s one thing after another. First it was Sarith and the thing living inside him. And then there was Hemeth, who died even though he helped us. And then there was that drow bitch who kept goading us until Ananke and Sudeiman attacked her, and we got arrested for it. Turns out, it doesn’t matter whether you actually were responsible for the fight. It happened, you were there, so you’re in trouble. Then the jailbreak, and then getting captured again. And the merchants. And the Keepers of the Flame. And then the trip following the crazy derro, and the mushrooms, and the water weird, and the singing plants, and the obelisk. And the bears. And the dragon egg. And Jim.

And because that is not enough – no, it didn’t stop there – we headed through the derro town and they are all fucking demons! And no one believes me. One of them slit his throat right in front of me and then they captured Finn and they were going to sacrifice him to DEMOGORGON, but of course, because no one else could see that they were demons, I’m the one that’s crazy?

My powers are improving every day, which makes me feel strong but also makes me worried. Every time, it’s easier and easier to just call on it and do what I need to do. Turn invisible? Sure. Teleport? I can do that. Bring back the dead? Apparently. Cause people grievous harm and feed off of their soul? I should really feel bad about that, I know. But like I said, I’m just so tired…

Eldeth in Gracklestugh

What can I say? They’re human, at least most of them that are worth their grit are. There’s the elf too, flighty, cocksure, with his nose so far up his own arse he can smell his food digesting, and then there’s the dragonborn, strong, proud, with scales like molten copper shimmering…
Well then, the rest of the lot? Underdarkers all, and you get what you can expect, which isn’t a lick.
What do I mean?
Well Jailyn and Zinnia got into their heads to try and earn some favour with the duergar. Now I expect this from Jailyn, girls head is as soft as her sword arm, but Zinnia? Thought she had more sense than that. At least with her there she’d be able to keep them alive on where ever this fool’s errand was gunna take them.
No doubt you’re right, she’s a warlock, but I ain’t never seen a spellslinger wield a blade the way she does, like a dancer she is, all dark and exotic… well, ah, yes, at any rate she’d do Brightaxe proud as a Bloodmaiden is aall I’m saying.
Well, they was off and had left me to tend the underdarkers, the deep-gnome Topsy, two goblins named Yuk-Yuk and Spiderbait, and a quaggoth who fancies himself an elf prince named Derendil. All of them a little banged up from a few rows.
It was quiet for the most part, they had us hold up in what the duergar generously call an in for outsiders. The derro who run the place seem to be stable enough to keep the accommodations livable., though mutter a little to much for my liking.
The goblins got Derendil and Topsy into a game of cards while I kept watch. There were few enough other patrons staying there, what with us keeping a quaggoth as a pet. And those that were there kept their distance.
Now i tell you, it all happened pretty fast, we all knew Topsy was gettin’ a little skittish due to her bein’ a wererat and all, (I know and they wanted to keep her about, it’s likely the only time that I agreed with the elf, he wanted to turn her out) so I made sure that Derendil kept an eye on her, worse case, he killed her, best case, they killed each other.
But then there were duergar everywhere. They came out of the shadows, the doors, thin air! They were on us with knives, and swords. One took Derendil in the back, putting a blade pretty deep and then followed up with three more stabs before the big guy could react. I got my shield up in time and fed it to the cur who thought me unarmed just cuz I didn’t have a sword drawn.
Spiderbait got back handed so bad when he stepped between Yuk Yuk and a duergar that he flew into the wall. And I swear he bounced right back on the blighters’ head. all teeth and sharp nails.
Now for a second I thought we might be alright, thought we might lose the quaggoth, but four duergar assassin’s weren’t nothin’ we couldn’t handle. Then the drow rushed in. Darts started flying (I ain’t gunna call them bolts, those things ain’t big enough to be called crossbows), two caught Yuk Yuk in the chest, one in Spiderbaits leg, three into my shield and another into my leg.
Blades came out and the room went black, so black you could see the tip of your nose. Derendil howled and everything went quiet.
“You’re outnumbered. Surrounded. Only death is sure. Lay down your weapons and you may yet live.” It was that drow bitch.
“How do you figure that?” I asked her, buying some time. I could hear Derendil breathin’ heavy, but I could not locate where he was.
“I won’t have to kill you?” She honestly sounded confused, I almost laughed.
“Gunna be hard to do that when your already dead. Derendil,” I shouted.
“Here my lady,”My lady? He sounded pained, angry, just not angry enough. So threw my sword at him, or rather where I thought he was.
No way was I gunna let these pointed eared bastards take me again.
I must have hit him, because he roared like the beastlord himself. I threw up my shield and hunkered down. There were lots of screams then and a popping squealing noise that I can only assume was Topsy. I think Derendil must have hit her and she lost it too. The drow’s darkness work in our favor as neither of them could see us and we had the sense to keep away from them, the Drow didn’t, neither did the duergar.
By the time the darkness had cleared. By the time the darkness had cleared we had four dead duergar, and three dead drow, the bitch had gotten away.
Derendil had calmed as soon as the darkness faded, and somehow Spiderbait had managed to shackle Topsy.
But that was it. I ordered the rest of the patrons out, locked the derro in the kitchen and put Derendil on the door.
By the Brightaxe I was not going to let my guard down for anther second in this forsaken city.
Ya, they came back, all of them, even the elf. They looked tired and beaten, but not broken, except for that elf, he’s always seemed broken in the head.

The Magic has a Mind of its Own

Finn’s Thoughts

I never ate a bear before, I didn’t even know you could eat bears, I hear they eat people. My first bite was something terrible, and I just wanted it to taste better for everyone…then it started to taste way better; it reminded me of some steaks Roc ’n me stole, they was the perfect steaks. So we finishes our bear and we runs into a thing named Jim, he floats, has tentacles, and talks in our heads just like Stool – at least Jim asked us first.

So Jim says he can lead us to the Derro Savants, but in return, we have to kill them. I’m in for this plan, they been causing some trouble and it’ll help Themberchaud, Ayrd, and Else. He leads the way and brings us to the chamber where there is a black tower, a Derro sorceress, and some kind of red egg, all on a big stone table. I knowed it was Themberchaud’s egg, I was going to save it! I took some cover at the edge of the table, and the next thing I know the Derro sorceress did something and all the bad memories from my past flooded over me…there was the orphanage fire, living on the streets, the drow slavers, and Roc’s death…I was just tryin’ to save him…tryin’ to save him…

Then the magic started, with the anger and fear and sadness I never felt it like this before…there was no egg, no friends, no cavern; just me, the Derro, and the memories – they had to stop – next I knew, I was on top of the table, the lightning was crackling around me – I let the lightning go – “Ouch, my back” – then everything went black.

Through the 'Eyes' of a Stool

Let me tell you about the bestest person’s that I have ever met. They are kind and caring and big and scary and mighty and magicky and fast and scary and crackly and strong and smart and wise and huggy (i didn’t know what hugs were, did you know what hugs were? They’re like squeezing but with less crushing. Sometimes they hug me when we get out of the water and I leak on their feet (They have Feet! And hands! I do not have hands, but I have more feet. They are less stable, oh ya…)
They are heroes and they are my friends (That’s like a family with less arguments).
Let me tell you what they did.
They talked to a dragon (I am not sure what that is but it sounds, um, dragony, like Anankee, but grumpier. I know, I can’t imagine it either, no one’s grumpier than Anankee, well maybe Eldeth) And then they talked to Deurgar and had to go away for a bit but when they came back they had to follow a shorter Deurgar they called a derro and they said “You can come with us Stool, no you can’t, yes you can, no no no, he’s to small, yes he can he can talk to people (I don’t have a mouth! They have mouths, lots of them, one for each of them, sometimes two) Okay you can come but stay in the back (I don’t have a back!)”
They…We followed the Derro into some caves where he got smaller, and then Ashlyn got smaller (She’s so brave) Then we all got smaller and Ashlyn pointed to where we should go and Jaylin kept me safe and carried me (She’s the softest even though she has bones. I don’t have bones, they’re like sticks in your body, they hold them up because they’re so soft. Like bags of meat)
I heard singing, Grove singing, though it was broken somehow, sad and far away. They said we would come back and see after we finished following the derro. The cave was full of spores from the Other, I was afraid it would get into my friends like it did Sudemon and Anakee, but not yet. Sudemon is a mighty warrior like Anakee, but with too many minds in his head, but he is so smart and brave that he can think through all that noise and do things to beat people up.
Then they went through scary rooms with scary noises.
Then they fought some water and then they fought some bears (That was scary). The little derro ran away. Then they ate the bears (Finn eats everything)(I think he wants to eat me. Jailyn won’t let him) Then they met a Shepard and he brought them to a stone where the world got cold and scary and Finn through magic around and melted the derro or a different derro or something that stopped being what it was when Finn melted it. There was an Eye that floated and Zinnia (She’s nice and scary and sometimes one person sometimes two people. She’s really scary when she is two people) threw magic at it and it threw it back and she threw it back and it threw it back and I was frozen and she threw it back and Ashlyn threw sticks and Ananlee threwup and Zinnia fell over and Finn fell over (They need more legs) and then the eye fell over and Jailyn warmed me up and kept me safe (She is the softest!)
Then there was an Egg, everyone said it comes out of dragons, Anankee said she had no idea about that, but it was really big so if it came out of Anankee she must be really empty inside (Good thing she has bones).
Then they said that this was what they were looking for along with a big rock and a book. The Shepard lead us out but the singing had stopped and no one wanted to go look and I was sad, but they are heroes and they know what to do because they are smart and brave (Even though Ashlyn talks to her sword, I think she is confused sometimes).
The water was dirty and made the heroes act funny, like the derro, but taller.
They wanted to get the egg out so Zinnia and Ashlyn went out and then they came back running and screaming. Then Finn went out and did not come back. And Sudemon went out and came back yelling. And then Anakee and Sudemon went out and Zinnia, Ashlyn, Jaily and me ran out and up the stairs while Zinnia screamed alot and Finn was dancing on strings, but he was really crowded in his head.
I don’t know where Anankee’s Egg is. I hope she’s not sad.

A Favour He Says...

Finn’s Thoughts

How did we end up in a Dragon’s lair, mucked up in ‘Dark politicking? As if things ain’t bad enough being Drow slaves, now we’re really in the cook pot!

I gotta admit, Themberchaud is a beautiful dragon, although I never seen a dragon before so maybe all of ‘em looks like him…he’s got it together more than our cute little dragon, Ke. So he says he wants a favour from us, but it’s one of those favours, y’know? We really have two options here: we steal from the Grey Ghosts, or we steal from the Grey Ghosts. Some of the others, the rich snoots, seemed hesitant to help out our good friend Themberchaud…thats how you end up smiling from ear to ear…and that ain’t gonna be me.

This job’d be much easier if I was better at talkin’ Dark common. It’s similar to Dwarvish, but I still feel like a young’n when I’m trying to talk it. Y’know, it really brings me back to Waterdeep – it was jobs like this that kept Roc and me fed. I got some info we needed out’a some herb witch and we’re gonna be on the Grey Ghost’s trail, I can feel it. I was on top of the world, until we were makin’ our way back to the Inn, we ran into some drow slaver waitin’ for us. We couldn’t stick around at the inn – she’s waiting on an ambush – the trouble’s itching – like the magic – I ain’t going back into slavery…alive…


I don’t know how we did it, but we made it to Gracklestugh. I mean I really don’t know how. We lost so many companions, Turvy, Ront, Shuushar The Awakened, Buppido, Jimjar, it seems unbelievable that I made it, of all people.

The person I was before I was captured seems like a stranger to me. What was she doing? Flirting with Rahman, going out to parties with Aida and Padma? If I had known what was going to happen I would have told her to learn something useful. Learn to defend herself, use a sword, speak Undercommon, or forage for mushrooms. Anything! I was so useless. But now, maybe I’m not useless anymore. I’ve killed people. Unleashed devastating magical energies that I have no idea how to control.

I’m afraid, really. It’s like I opened a door that maybe I shouldn’t have and I don’t know what’s going to be coming through next.

I’m alive, though. Was the price, whatever it is, worth it?

The Dragonborn with the Iron Fist

Ananke didn’t know where she and her companions were anymore; she only knew that it was cooler there than it had been before – and that had to mean safety.

She stood to the side, listless, as the others set up camp for the night. She knew she should help; knew she should be working with the surviving members of the companions to start putting their group back together again, and rallying for tomorrow.

But what use was she to them now? Ananke looked down at her rock-encrusted hand.

She recognized that she should be in excruciating pain – and that the fact that she wasn’t, should be of concern – but all she felt was a white-hot numbness that burned in her chest. As the memory of Ront’s smile swam before her eyes, Ananke slowly sank to her knees in silent anguish, cradling what was left of her arm.

As her knees touched stone, as the surrounding shadows swallowed her and hid her from view, Ananke heard a scream – a curdling death scream, that gurgled with blood. Ananke whipped her head around, looking back into the darkness from where they came… but there was nothing. As she continued to peer into the blackness, she felt a reverberation up her arms, as if she was running someone through with her sword.

The Halfling.

Ananke curled into herself; the sickness and revulsion rolling through her in waves. She had never taken an innocent life – not in all her time on the surface, or her time lost in the Underdark – not until the Halfling…

That night in Yuk Yuk and Spider-bait’s lair, Ananke had laid awake staring up at the ceiling – eyes no longer seeing, ears no longer hearing – as she relived that terrible moment over, and over again in her mind. She shouldn’t have acted so rashly; she should have carefully cut into that writhing mass of webs to check first… she should have known that the creatures therein would have needed some kind of sustenance… She should have known better. She should have done better.

But she hadn’t; instead, she had murdered the Halfling. She asked no forgiveness of her Gods, for there was no forgiveness to be given for such a heinous act. So she prayed, with everything there was in her to pray; she prayed that the Gods would welcome the Halfling into their fold, and speed him safely into the next realms. She prayed he would find peace.

But clearly the Gods were unsatisfied with Ananke’s penance. Clearly, they had felt more punishment was needed.

From her place in the shadows, Ananke looked over at the group – every one of whom was wounded, and suffering; or, dead. Her actions had wrought this; she was sure of it. Ront, the first being in this gods-forsaken place to show her true kindness, was dead because of her. The Gods had seen fit to lash out at Ananke in a most insidious way: by attacking her companions… her clan. She should have been the one to die; not Ront. She should have read the warning signs faster, should have anticipated the danger… should have gotten Ront out of the way before any harm could come to him.

Instead, she watched as lava enveloped him; felt as lava dissolved him away, wrenching him out of her grasp.

She looked down at her hand, and knew that THIS is what the Gods considered suitable penance for the life she took; knew that now she would be nothing but a burden to her companions; knew that if ever she made it out of this eternal darkness, her days as an Armorer were over. But she would continue on, because she didn’t deserve death. She deserved to suffer, and she would bear it with as much grace and dignity as she could muster.

Slowly, Ananke lowered the rest of her body to the cavern’s floor to sleep; though, she knew sleep wouldn’t come: only fits of waking dreams, where the dead would haunt her for her sins.

As she lay, yet again, staring up at the ceiling, Ananke realized that she could no longer imagine a time when they would be free of this place; where they would escape from the darkness into the light, and return to the lives they had left behind. All that stretched before her, and all that stretched behind her, was blackness and death. And all the while, unbeknownst to her, that darkness had been etching away at her soul; causing parts of her to whither up and slough off, like scales during a summer molt.

Now, laying there, tracing the remnants of her left hand, Ananke recognized that the darkness had already won: even if they made it out of the Underdark alive, there wasn’t enough left of her to return to her previous life.

The darkness, and demons, and death had already won.

At some point in the night, sleep took Ananke; but it was fitful. Terrible screams and gruesome smiles filled her dreams.

But then, those smiles and screams morphed into a pulsing blue darkness that enveloped her. It swarmed, slithered, and oozed into her body; and as it moved through her, the pain that Ananke had been waiting for finally came. The nerves in her hands were alive with heat and light and pain.

In her dream, Ananke threw her head back to scream; but no sound escaped. There was an immense pressure on her chest, drowning out her screams, making it almost impossible to breathe…

Yuk Yuk and Spiderbait
Surfing the web

“Well, well, wouldn’t you look at that my good Spiderbait. Thing of beauty that was…thing of beauty.” Yuk Yuk leapt to the dangling web and slid down to the corpse that was now stuck in the webs below.
The smaller goblin, Spiderbait, agilely followed, bounding from web to web in a downward crisscrossing pattern.
“Never seen its like have I not,” Yuk Yuk continued, “Not like to again. With all that magic flingin’ about, spiders freezin’, wizards gigglin’, and all sorts of eldritch energies illuminatin’ the place.”
All about the dead carcass of the hulking spider other forms twitched and wriggled in the webs bound tightly in its sticky embrace.
Spiderbait moved to one of the largest cocoon’s and started slicing away at the webs with a small razor.
“Right you are my friend,” Yuk Yuk called from where here similarly cut the webs away from another bundle form, “That blade of light was truly impressive, though a trifle hard on the eyes for my liking.”
Spiderbait managed to expose the sizable scaled arm of the dragonborn and deftly dodged aside as the warrior started ripping at the webs herself.
“But no, I do not think they would part with it,” Yuk Yuk added as he managed to free the hand holding the sword in question. once free of the webs and still in the hand of it’s wielder the blade shone with intense light forcing Yuk Yuk to shield his eyes and mumble to himself, "Nope, not practical at all.
They moved from party member to party member freeing each one until all were accounted for except two.
“Where’s Sudeiman?” Aishlyn asked eyeing the two goblins suspiciously.
“And Derendil?” Ananke echoed.
The Spider twitched, then heaved.
Swords were drawn and spells were readied, and then a have jutted out from beneath the bulk of the spider. A hand with now familiar blue veins, pulsing dimly in the shadow of the dead spider. Quickly after it cam the furred claw of Prince Derendil.
“There they be my good folk, and none the worse for wear,” Yuk Yuk smiled, "Though it may take some elbow grease to get them out of their hidy-hole.Krull_Spider.jpg

The Journal of Sorndar Abala
Third Blade of of House Mizzrym

Day 3 of the escape
The Slaves continue to elude us and if they do so for much longer Ilvara is likely to put another of us on the altar before the cycle is out. Fortunately when they do leave a spoor it is had to miss. The bloated corpse of that deep gnome at least gave us a direction, though why they woulkd head into the The Long Chasm only Lloth could fathom, but then they doubled back and either through sheer luck or that traitor Sarith, they managed to avoid us.
If only Shoor hadn’t split the search parties, we could have taken them all at the base of the waterfall. That’s what Jorlan wanted, but Shoor is to spiteful to listen to him. Instead we had to waste time going around the long way giving those bastards time to slaughter Urrlok and the others. I’m guessing they let that freak loose on them to make such a mess. As to what killed Urrlok I cannot say. His body frozen like ice even though he’d been dead hours or more, and that look on his face, I’ve seen it before on slaves as the priests dagger plunges into them on the altar and Lloth rips their soul away to be devoured.

Day 7 of the escape
We found the markers left by Sengo and Belzen, they lead to an old floating tower that Ilvara said had been there for centuries, held aloft by the Faerzress that infuses this chasm. She and Asha conferred while we searched for more signs of the slaves passage. It was Second Sword Xunril Deduis who found Sengo’s crossbow on a ledge just over the lip of the chasm, and a half dozen bolts lying about, some bloodied, some broken.
Ilvara announced that the tower was poisoned, to much time in the Faerzress, she said, and we took up the trail again.

Day 8 of the escape
We found Sengo and Belzen. Butchered like the others, but both of them stabbed in the back, repeatedly. Ilvara named them both cowards and instructed us to leave them to rot.

Day 9
Saw the strangest thing today. The bloated corpse of that toad Shuushar lazily floating down the river. We pulled him out and examined the body. Mistress Asha thinks that hunger has finally got to them and they murdered the pacifist for some food, but lost their nerve before they got to far along. They gutted him good though, and it was probably a trick of how the river treated him, I’m sure he was grinning.
They’re headed for Sloobludop so why they murder him and not the myconoid speaks to a level of barbarism that led Ilvara and Asha to think that the Surfacer’s are in charge. We can’t follow them into the Toad city, the treaties with them never hold and they outnumber us greatly. We just have to wait and hope we pick the right spot for them to exit, Jorlan has some good ideas, but Shoor is still being an ass.

A Blade in the Night
R.I.P. Shuushar

We traveled some days through the underdark until we got to a river. This was a good sign since Sloobludop was our destination which was on the Dark Lake so a river would probably lead there.

After travelling for a little while, we came across a few kua-toa fishermen who were nothing like Shuushar. But he was able to trade with them for what he called food but was more like fish guts. It was kind of edible, but Ananke couldn’t stomach it, and Eldeth and Sarith both flatly refused, saying they would rather starve then eat that.

Anyways, feeling somewhat confident in Shuushar’s abilities to negotiate, we proceeded. He said we were probably a few days’ travel from Sloobludop.

The next morning, though, we woke up and Shuushar didn’t. He wasn’t moving and when Ananke tried to wake him, she discovered that he had been sliced open. It looked to me like he had been stabbed in the throat by a narrow, sharp implement (like a crossbow bolt, or maybe a dagger or stiletto), and also sliced open from neck to… whatever the kua toa equivalent of a bellybutton is. By a really sharp blade.

But we were on watch all night, and no one saw anything. So what could have possibly happened?

  1. Finn was the one who was loudly saying how much he didn’t trust Shuushar (when it suited him. He was more than happy to let Shuushar heal him when he needed it. I mean seriously, the kid has issues. He said if anything happened to him someone needed to bring his body back to civilization, and then when Shuushar promised to do so, he said no thanks. I mean who asks these things, and then refuses when someone agrees?), and he has a dagger
  2. The sword Ash has, Dawnbringer, is the sharpest blade any of us have, it would be the most likely murder weapon. And the sword is intelligent and talks to people. Maybe it convinced someone to pick it up and do the deed.
  3. Sarith is a drow, and a murderer. Maybe he is really just a plant, and trying to subtly thwart us. Shuushar was the most useful to us at the moment, and without a translator we are going to have some problems in Sloobludop
  4. Of course, it’s possible that someone infiltrated the camp while we were sleeping (maybe invisibly?) without anyone noticing, but if that’s the case, why is no one else dead?
  5. Sudeimon is clearly different. Maybe whatever happened to him… changed him?
  6. Ananke has been having bad dreams, so maybe she could have done it and not realized?
  7. And then, not that anyone has brought it up, but what if it was me?

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