Oh glorious day! Oh what happy, blessed time to be alive! My heart sings and my soul soars. But, my exuberance is overshadowing the reason of this journal. The reasons for my joy can wait for the moment.
After we defeated the white dragon, Arauthator, we completed our business in Oyaviggaton and prepared to leave. The ice toads have agreed to remain at their duties, maintaining the library and collection left by Arauthator. The leader, Marfulb, wished to journey to the tower of the Arcane Brotherhood in Luskan as we escorted McCath the Crimson home.
On a quick personal note, I have decided to return to Oyaviggaton after this business with Tiamat has been concluded. It is a tranquil place, perfect for quiet contemplation; something my soul sorely needs at a time such as this. I will endow the work of the ice toads and look after the villagers, my villagers.
Returning to the narrative, we rode the ice skimmer back to Luskan and bid our farewells to Marfulb and McCath. The journey was uneventful and rather pleasurable.
We were returning to the skimmer to return to Waterdeep. Both the Council and Drakhorn required our attention. Azujhan had deduced that the Drakhorn had a short range and that, to hear it when we were in Waterdeep, it must have been close to Waterdeep. Just shy of the skimmer, a familiar face sat atop an empty peir. Jemna smiled her wide grin and lept off the pier to speak to us.
The Zhentarim had information regarding the location of Varram the White. He was recently seen en route to Boareskyr Bridge, seeking the White Dragon Mask. Varram had lost the mask and was seeking it without alerting the other cultists to its disappearance. If we were to capture him, we would need to postpone our plans for the Council and the Drakhorn. This was simply too good a chance to pass up and such an opportunity to grab Varram may not present itself in the future.
During the conversation, talk turned to what the Zhent wanted out of the Council’s deliberations. They were willing to provide assassins, spies and the like, but were reluctant. They needed assurances and favors, both of which we, as a group, were unable to promise. We agreed to discuss this at the next Council in a circumspect manner and lend what support we could to the Zhent cause.
We were beginning to ask Jemna more about her recent activities when a shout was heard behind us. We spun and froze in confusion, the skimmer was on fire. One of Tairen’s eyebrows rose. This was an illusionary fire, he said. We turned back to Jemna, but she was gone. Obviously, the “fire” was designed to distract while she slipped away in the confusion.
We made our way to Boareskyr Bridge and the way side tent village that had arisen to service the Trade Way. For those who haven’t visited Boarskyr Bridge, It’s a trip worth taking. The bridge itself is a disturbingly beautiful black granite affair with carvings of Cyric and Bhaal faithfully sculpted into its stones. Even in evil, there is beauty. Perhaps that is what draws so many to the dark ways of evil.
The largest tent was Bolo’s Tentside Inn. We entered and were greeted by the owner, Bolo. She was a friendly person, but one who guarded the privacy of her patrons seriously. She grew suspicious when she perceived we asked a few too many questions about the dwarf who passed through.
However, Bolo was also a consummate businesswoman and the rental of a few luxury tents smoothed over her curiosity. We still didn’t get much information, but we were able to discover that the dwarf in purple and white had left towards the Serpent Hills. We left shortly thereafter without occupying our tents.
We followed the trail, and prints, towards the hills. For the most part, it was a quiet, pleasant journey. Midway through the day, Elyria stopped suddenly and she began to look around as if she was detecting a threat. Before we could discover why she had stopped, the threat broke through the underbrush to fire upon us.
The attacks hurt. I took a couple arrows through my shoulder, but the searing explosion of poison staggered me. I nearly dropped to my knees before I could use the power of my faith to heal the worst of the wounds. Edward, however, did go down, unconscious, having taken more hits than I had. The first of which before he could build his rage to fevered passion.
Eventually, we took them down. Tairen and his zombie minion stayed with Elyria and offered long range support while I and a newly recovered Edward finished off the bandits. We left one of them alive to question, though he had taken quite a beating. It took a few minutes for him to regain his senses enough to communicate with us.
The “man” was actually a Yuan-Ti scout. The attack wasn’t directed at us, specifically. It was more a case of them protecting their lands against incursions. The last “visitors” had done damage and they were not keen to allow more into their lands. The dwarf, apparently Varram, had invaded the Tomb of Diderius and was desecrating the temple. As a clarifying side note, it should be explained that Diderius was a powerful wizard and father of the Yuan-ti. His memory is considered sacred among the Naga and their Yuan-ti children.
We arrived at the tomb and met with the elders outside. Three trolls were guarding the door and the group didn’t have the strength to dispatch them to root out Varram. We volunteered our services and the elders accepted. We didn’t mention that we were going to capture Varram anyways, so this commitment was hardly out of our way.
We opened up on the three trolls with a sleet storm from my Wand of Winter, damaging them and slowing them down as they stumbled over the sleet. While advancing, I took out my potion of firebreath and drank it. We needed some form of fire to keep the trolls down and keep their bodies from regenerating.
After the trolls, we advanced to the entrance, guarded by two statues. One of the statues was of a human male, older and wearing exotic clothing. The right a younger human male carrying a shepard’s crook and sword. As we approached, the grating of stone against stone accompanied the movement of the two statues.
“Halt! You come before Diderius, ether walker and conduit of clairvoyance. Behold ye now his wonderous triumphs. Diderius extends his wisdom, Diderius offers knowledge and Diderius promises a new start with transformation. Which do you seek?”
I remember the words quite clearly. The spin of the words was poetic and lodged themselves squarely in my mind. Each of us stated our choice. Mine was knowledge to defeat Tiamat. The answers seemed to please the guardians and a final benediction and warning issued from them before they once again became motionless.
The first room was a hall lined with six statues of cowled creatures. Their hoods were up and their faces hidden in impenetrable darkness. A warning whispered in my mind; however, I had advanced too far by that time to avoid the trap. I felt myself pulled into the darkness of the cowls and foreign knowledge flooded my senses. I can’t remember the next minute or so, my companions claim I was stunned and spoke only noises without form. However, with the fading madness, I find my mind clearer than I can ever remember and new knowledge resides. It’s not permanent; I can feel it slipping away even now. But, for now, I shall use it in our quest.
Leaving the room of statues, we entered a chamber with a beautiful tile mosaic of a chimera and a knight. The door to our left was marked “SAFE” in what appeared to be chalk. Something out of the corner of my eye alerted me to movement. My mind dismissed it as a figment of movement, a by-product of the constant alertness we must hold to here. Yet, paranoia luckily won out and I began turning towards the mosaic. I say luckily because it was at this moment that the tile chimera sprang to life and began to attack.
Each hit sprayed tiles across the room instead of blood. It was disquieting to see. A final slash, and the entire creature collapsed into a pile of tiles on the floor, motionless.
We elected to journey through the “SAFE” door and explore the room beyond. We found a pool that dominated the room. The water within was still and mirror like. A bronze bucket sat near the top and a lever protruded from the side above a trench. Obviously, the lever released water which sluiced down the trench to some unknown location. There was little here to keep our attention. There were mushrooms that lined the walls, I harvested a few to place in my pack. You never knew when a strange plant would come in handy. I filled the empty bottle from my firebreath with water from the well. The water itself is odd. It seems to be of such purity that it is barely contained in the confines of the well. It borders on evaporating even before I can get the stopper on the bottle.
We returned to the mosaic room, keeping a cautious eye on the pile of tiles which had been the chimera. Occassionally, the pile twitched. Tairen knew it would reform itself after a period, but was of no harm to us at the moment.
We moved through the door on the other side. We examined the room for traps and found none. The hall sloped down to a door at the far end. As we began to move, a sudden noise from above drew our attention to the ceiling above us. A large ball of skeletal figures dropped from a ceiling trap that we had neglected to spot. I was able to dodge out of the way. Edward was not so lucky. He was caught in the boulder as it rolled down the hall and crashed against the far door. On the impact, the stone exploded in a cloud of bone dust, leaving Edward among the bones.
Beyond the door, a strong smell of incense flooded our noses. Again, a warning spoke in our minds. “Humility proffered in the manner of Mystril shelters those opening the way to seeking knowledge”. Obviously, this was another key to another puzzle and our experience in the stone statue chamber had taught us to heed those warnings very cautiously. Tairen remembered that the homage to the deceased goddess Mystril involved bowing the head and raising the arms. We looked at the doors and selected the one to our left. As we opened the door, each of us paid what we hoped was the appropriate gesture. Obviously, this was correct, and no further hazards accosted us.
Beyond the door was what appeared to be a study and library, though its shelves were empty of any books. A ghost appeared and welcomed us. Her name was Ilda and she served as guardian to Diderius’ library. We looked around and told her the library was bare. Ilda blinked ghostly eyes and a moan of pure misery echoed from her mouth. She had failed to protect the books and tomes. She pleaded with us to return those books so that she may, once again, rest in peace.
We agreed and she, once again, smiled. I guess that some form of hope had been returned to her. She then spoke of Diderius and his work here. She explained about the divination pool and the benefits. Those who seek knowledge receive it. Those seek wisdom are granted it. Those who seek transformation are rewarded with rebirth.
And so brings me back to the source of my joy! Finally, I can cleanse the taint from my soul. I can rid myself of Delilah and the hellish stink of the fiend, returning once again to who I was, a tiefling fighting for the righteous cause of blessed Torm, Tyr and Ilmater. Already, my soul aches and my excitement builds.
We have taken a moment in this study to quickly bind a few wounds and make preparations for the remaining journey. My preparations were minor so I decided it was an ideal time to write a few notes on our journey to date. I can hardly wait for the next entry when I shall be free and clean. I can write with the steady, solid hand of the pure and righteous.