Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 3

Dear Kanathas:

You will be pleased to know that I did not need to chastise anyone regarding Indigo’s safety. He had been playing with a young gnome, and the boy had decided that he wanted to take Indigo home. With some assistance from his mother, I convinced him that Indigo would be happier with me.

I believe I left off in my previous letter with the events at Rose Quarry. I will resume there.

The location of Whitehearth was well within the borders of the Mournland. We had some difficultly in persuading Failin to take us there; he was rightfully afraid of the Mournland, and demanded a very high price to enter it. Mike paid him immediately. Alain took the handy haversack with the supplies in it from Mike after this. It is likely that Failin would have accepted a lower price if we had bargained with him. Mike seems to see little use for money.

What I had read about the Mournland did not fully prepare me for the reality. It is surrounded by gray mist; inside, day is a perpetual twilight. The ground is littered with molten glass and rubble in areas that were once inhabited. The bodies lie as they fell, untouched by scavengers or the decay that normally follows death. I was grateful for the land cart that hastened our journey; the Mournland is not a pleasant place to linger.

We would have reached White Hearth without incident, save for Xame. Our “commoner” cleric was curious when we passed an old battlefield; he apparently detected magic in some item, and leapt from the cart in order to satisfy his own greed. The rest of us were obligated to stop and defend him from a trio of skeleton trolls. Xame turned one, Anson entangled another, but the last injured Mike rather severely. I repaid that skeleton with the light of Lunia, although it had far less effect than I had hoped. We managed to delay the undead long enough to return to the land cart and outrun them.

When Xame attempted to cast cure on himself, the spell failed. Apparently, just as the dead do not decay, healing magic does not work in the Mournland.

I must mention two other things about my companions, if I have not done so previously. First, Xame is apparently a cleric of Olladra. This gives me some small comfort, as the good goddess may restrain some of Xame’s less admirable qualities.

We reached the entrance to Whitehearth just as the day came to a close. We were reluctant to camp inside the entrance, since we did not know what to expect inside. Unfortunately, this was a poor choice. We set watches, with Tui and I on the second watch. I had finished my trance, and was preparing my mind for matters of magic, when an undead, predatory bird decided that I was a suitable target. My response to the bird was sufficiently loud to wake the others. We eventually subdued it, but not before it had removed significant pieces of my shoulders.

The rest of the night passed without interruption. That morning, we made another unpleasant discovery; despite our rest, none of us felt much improved over the previous day. No one’s injuries had even started to heal. The Mournland appears to be a place of stagnation. Little grows, the dead do not fade, and wounds remain as they were.

With this upon our minds, we entered Whitehearth. The entrance, and just beyond it, were simple caves. We entered, and went down the first tunnel to our left. There, we found a metal panel, a door of some sort, which contained a socket. An otherwise inexplicable item from Elaydren’s supplies, a short rod with a sapphire on it, fit perfectly. Alain placed it in the socket; for his trouble, he was shocked by lightning. The door opened, revealing only the rock floor. Clearly, this was one means to prevent unauthorized intrusions. Anson had a hand of the mage with him, and used it to withdraw the rod without injuring himself. We were forced to explore the remaining passages, and found that each of the other three had similar doors.

It is fortunate that Anson had his hand of the mage, since the Law of Murphy was in full effect. Only the last of the four doors did not exert lightning. This last door opened without protest, into darkness. Mike dropped a small rock down, to see how deep it was. There was no sound.

We eventually realized that this was only a spell; a room existed not far below. It was spherical, with a table in the center. There were various sockets in this table, each with a color; the blue ones clearly matched the sapphire-topped rod from Elaydren’s pack. In each case, inserting the rod caused the opening in the spherical room to turn to the side, permitting the user of the rod to enter another chamber.

I will spare you the details of our exploration; suffice it to say that it required considerable time and effort. We found two other such spherical rooms, and were forced to search for the other rods. We encountered an awakened dire wolf that was leading a pack of more ordinary wolves. She gave us another rod, which opened another area. As she requested, in exchange we destroyed a menacing stone wolf. This was at a cost; most spells were ineffective against it, and it had its own magical defenses. Alain was injured almost to the point of death by the creature.

We also encountered a total of three living spells. They were fantastic! Admittedly, they were quite unintelligent. We were forced to destroy both a living flaming sphere and a living color spray, due to their dangerous nature. However, I wish there had been opportunity to examine the living rope trick spell. I suspect that it, like the others, would act to do what the spell would do ordinarily; that is, the former two attacked, and the rope trick itself was most likely to attempt to “consume” unwary travelers, and keep them within its extra-dimensional pocket. It would be a fascinating experiment to attempt to duplicate such a living spell; clearly, the duration is much greater than that of an ordinary spell. Controlling the spell would be an issue. If it were possible to endow the living spell with an increased intelligence, one might even be able to train the spell to follow basic instructions.

I seem to have digressed; Uthen would find this interesting, but I know that you do not.

By now, all of us were more or less severely injured. Having little alternative, save exiting the Mournland in this unfortunate state, we continued on.

One of the other spherical rooms required a second, red rod in order to it to open to anything other than a deep well. Unforunately, when we first tried it, we did not have this rod; most of us kept our balance, and Alain had been left in the main entrance, owing to his severe injuries. Tui’s plate armor, however, caused him to overbalance and fall. The impact with the water must have knocked him unconscious; by the time Mike was able to descend with a rope, Tui was lost in the depths.

We did manage to find a scroll for an ordinary rope trick. Reasoning that if we were in an extra-dimensional space, we would not be in the Mournland, and therefore healing spells would function, I cast it. Thankfully, this hypothesis was correct, and Xame’s divine magic sufficed to restore all of us.

Then there was the chamber of heat and flame, where the schemas were kept and guarded by a pair of fire elementals. I did not enter, for I had already exhausted most of my magic on earlier obstacles. Xame and Mike entered quickly, to obtain the schemas and other contents of the chest; Alain and Anson worked to contain the fire elementals as best as they could.

While Mike and Xame worked with the chest, the greater fire elemental gathered itself up, and barreled into Alain. Whether it was the heat or the strength of the blow that did him in, I do not know; whatever the ultimate cause, it was more than Alain could stand.

However, the smaller elemental had been vanquished, so I could enter and examine an alcove that Mike indicated. I had not dared enter before, since I realized that these elementals would be too strong for me to face. I am certain that the blow that felled Alain would have killed me twice over. But now I could enter safely. There was, in fact, a control mechanism in the alcove. At first, I could not understand its purpose; after a moment, I remembered a book I read a decade or two ago, General Mechanisms in Architecture. This panel strongly resembled one of the basic diagrams, and suggested that adjusting certain controls in the appropriate manner would open the ceiling. I did not see what purpose this could serve; I hoped it would let in water or some other cooling method, and I was concerned that it would unleash more fire elementals upon us.

I need not have worried; the moment the ceiling opened, the greater fire elemental cried, “I’m free!” and departed through the opening. That was most unexpected. However, I am left to wonder what would have happened had I entered earlier, or been brave enough to pass the fire elementals before Alain perished. I fear that I am partially responsible.

I am nearly out of parchment; I fear I will be forced to ask Tui for—

But he is lost. I will have to wait until we arrive in Sharn.

I hope that the schemas and the adamantine disk are worth the price paid for them.

Player’s Notes

I wonder if it’s possible to cast living spells by some means other than creating another Mournland… that could become very interesting…