[written in Elvish]
Moving further into the complex of rooms, it seems that most of us in ROAM are becoming less affected by the illusions; we have been better able to peer through these fanciful images so loved by men of the city. Perhaps a deep part of them realizes that the sights of the city are no match for the splendors of nature – so they seek to distract themselves with images of…something, anything, other than the bleakness and dreariness (or transient pretties) of civilization…
As we exit the library, we enter a room that quickly reveals itself to have sitting at the table a wolf’s legs-count of what Soveliss later tells us are barbed devils – foul (aren’t they all?), menacing muscular fiends with poisonous writing snakes for beards, armed with glaives and a thirst for death and blood – even if their own that is spilled, they care naught. Interestingly, they made no move to attack us until “we” (Pug, of course – quickly followed by his comrade-at-arms Dorn) attacked them first. The responded immediately, taking the offensive. They were vicious: their barbed beards seemed to have contained a disease of some sort; and their glaives seemed sharpened (or magicked?) such that the wounds they cause bled more and were harder to heal. But despite the damage they and their fiendish weapons dealt to us, we persevered and were able to make comparatively short work of them.
We opened a door, entering a much larger space and quickly noticing a small massacre. An insect’s legs of Cultists’ dead bodies lay scattered on the floor, a large hemispheric structure off in the distance, seeming to float above a chasm. Hearing a moan, we quickly discovered that a white half-dragon had survived the slaughter, barely. Soveliss guising himself with his magicks as a Cultist, approached and sought to find out what happened. The half-dragon relayed that yuan-ti had attacked, killing almost of them and then escaping with Varram. With difficulty, he gets to his feet and searches for a weapon to join with his “ally” Soveliss, when—of course—Pug and Dorn decide that question period is over and seek to finish what the yuan-ti had started. I was investigating the floating structure, which seems to be the Pool of Diderius (but oddly dry, with no liquid in it – can you have a literal pool that is empty?), and when I notice that the strong of arm but light on patience (an—d temperance) duo seek to finish the half-dragon, I yell out to them to hold off – he is still of use to us. We have more questions that need answering (how many yuan-ti? weapons/magicks? any other allies of the common enemy? were any other than Varram captured? By Silvanus, we also could have used him for his massive strength to help open the door behind which the yuan-ti had escaped with Varram – and the dragonmask). But the half-dragon is run through, and his further usefulness to us ends with the final beats of his heart.
We continued to explore more of the tomb, at times descending and others ascending stairs, and came to a room that appeared to be a bedchamber of some sort – replete with bookshelves and two women resting on the bed. Seeing through the illusion, the bookshelves were populated with crumbling books, and the two plump middle-aged women had the truer appearance of undead – possibly vampires. They took little notice of us, seeming—like the bearded devils—to require a trigger of sorts before they attacked. Dorn and Pug wished to attacked, to help purge this world of foul undead, but I felt that I needed to remind everyone of our pressing mission—the objective with which we were charged by the Lords’ Alliance Council—to find Varram, retrieve the White Wyrmspeaker’s dragonmask, and capture the Pool of Diderius. The vampires could wait; we could always return to them – they seemed to be going nowhere.
We return to the door behind which Varam was taken – made obvious by the trail of blood (which we had assumed was Varam’s, but perhaps an injured member of the yuan-ti?). The brutes are unable to open the massive door, so I change to a rat and sneak under. Still under the influence of being able to move as shadows, blending in as chameleons and moving with the quiet of the padded paw of a panther, I am confident that I won’t be easily detected.
Squeezing beneath the door, I quickly notice that the trail of blood seems to disappear in the room—which appears to be a mausoleum of sorts: there are four sarcophagi along the walls (2 to a side), and in the centre of the room is a stepped pyramid of sorts, albeit the height of a man. In front and behind this stepped structure lay a rectangular pool of water. Sniffing at and looking at the sarcophagi, I see that they are covered with hieroglyphics (perhaps Soveliss, with his uncanny grasp of languages, can decipher them. Intrigued by the stepped structure, I notice that as I approach it, a voice booms in my mind, cautioning me to not approach it further. I climb a step, curious what will happen. Again, the voice (that of Diderius, I expect) warns against awakening him and incurring his wrath. I climb to the second highest step, and by then Diderius booms that I am on the verge of the rat being swallowed by the snake. Ok; this is getting a bit too close to home (up until now, I dismissed much of Diderius’s overtly spoken threats as being merely the empty threats of insubstantial illusions – yes, he had traps, but they all had triggers, and I assumed that mounting these steps all the way to the top would trigger this. Keeping to the second highest step, and climbing no higher, I felt I would likely be safe.). So I descend. ). I try to memorize a few to relay to Soveliss, but they are just too alien for me to be able to recall accurately. I consider returning to the others, but then realize that there is more to be explored here. Peering into the first rectangular pool (in front of the stepped structure), I immediately lose myself in the infinite void that it shows – a galaxy of stars, floating and dancing in the cosmos. As I stare more intently, patterns begin to reveal themselves to me…
In the interim, Pug and Dorn succeed in opening the door – by smashing it in. In their brusque and unrefined manner, they manage to activate whatever the trap trigger was (Mat: did Pug do anything specific here, like take a swipe at any of the four sarcophagi? I don’t recall…), and suddenly four mummies appear. Being more powerful than the typical skeleton or zombie, Pug, Dorn and Soveliss don’t find it quite as easy to dispatch these undead, and powerful magicks and blows are exchanged. Dorn also peers into the pool and quickly gets lost in the infinity within. Sovellis, noticing his ally laying face-down in the water, comes to his aid – but notices a rat floating within the same pool. Realizing the limits of his own strength, the wizard forsakes the giant of a human who is clad in heavy armour in favour of the rat, whom he (correctly) assumes to be me. Though the universe was beginning to share some of its secrets with me, I didn’t realize that my body had been left behind, far behind. The wizard scoops my rat form out of the pool, but by now I am unconscious by having drowned in the water. Somehow, I am revived and Dorn is pulled out of the pool. After returning to consciousness, I take in what is happening, and seek to envelop these foul undead with faerie fire – it has proven to be an invaluable tool in helping me and my fellow ROAMers to better target our foes. While some of the mummies are able to shrug off the spell’s relatively minor magicks, two of them are sheathed in bright green flames. Shifting to my trusty polar bear form, I band with the others and take down these four.
While the rest of us pause to lick our wounds, Pug immediately sets on top of the stepped structure and begins to take out his frustration on it. Shortly thereafter, a lid slides asides…and out comes Diderius himself! A magnificently adorned powerful and imposing mummy appeared, and was more angry than a colony of bees after just having had its nest ravaged by a black bear looking for honey. It was a force to be reckoned with! It struck with supernatural strength, afflicting half of us with mummy rot, powerful magicks (including sealing off Soveliss, who of course ran away when things started to look bad, from us by causing a solid wall of stone to block the exit), and acting with blinding speed – even at times that I have never before seen a foe move! Things were looking grim indeed, with Pug having already been felled (how does that half-orc manage to bounce right back up after being dealt a blow that would fell most other men – and keep them down?!), my polar bear form having sustained so much damage that I reverted to my human form, Dorn being badly beaten up, and Soveliss nowhere to be found. Drawing upon my lesson learned from our recent romp at Blackstone’s colossus, I mustered up among the last of my magical resources, and once again transformed myself into a giant ape. Within mere seconds, I leapt over to Diderius and pummeled him into oblivion. The raw power of this form is intoxicating!!
I must be vigilant; even writing that in this journal, I see the danger here. Power used for good, to help restore the balance, is of paramount importance, BUT it can be a gateway to greed, to a hunger for power that could drive—and have driven—men to acts that they should not commit. I must be on guard for my motives when I shift, and be ever watchful that my actions remain in keeping with my god. Silvanus: help grant me the strength to persevere, to use my growing power for your ends…
I am tempted to remain as human, for a while, when I fight. But I worry: will this help to humble me, or will it instead serve only to feed my hunger for stronger, more powerful, forms?
I can see how evil is born.