Archive for September 27th, 2005

Friends Far & Wide

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

We defeated Alec.

Well, sort of.

As soon as the elfy-elf we had known as a halfling named Alec appeared
where Alec had been, Nigel and Greebo and I concentrated our efforts on
defeating his dragon, once known to us as an ape named Rodeo, and Adric
dispelled the wall of force holding Badl, Rock and himself
captive.  In short order, Rodeo was dead and Alec was slicing
Nigel to ribbons with a sword.  Cornering him, though, turned his
back to the rest of us and Rock and Adric were quick to attack. 
Badl took the shape of a tiger and waited for Nigel to get out of the
way, but even as Nigel tried to make an escape Alec hissed that he was
leaving Nigel something to remember him by and then delivered a blow we
were sure had struck Nigel dead.

Even as the elf’s sword struck Nigel in the chest, though, Snowdown
appeared behind him – a ghostly visage, serene in the face of such
destruction as we’d all wrought – and with a brush of her hands closed
just enough of the wound to let Nigel fall unconscious rather than
merely dead.  With that, Alec opened a portal and stepped into
another world, escaped.  That portal, though – the land beyond was
dark, unlit, and the stale air that blew through was clammy, bearing
the scent of dust and old bones.

Rock and I know that scent.  It’s the land of the dead, where we walked with other friends many years ago.

I have to confess that as soon as Alec was gone and we realized we’d
all survived our encounter I let out a cry of celebration.  There
were some high-fives exchanged, and as Badl healed Bonzo of his wounds
I thanked him for holding my equipment.  Bonzo even got a cape out
of the deal, being elected to wear whatever garment it was that Alec
had in halfling form.  The literal ape is simply too adorable, in
the same sense that a small dog in a sweater with a dog sewn onto it is
adorable, in his white, formal shirt and his crimson cape.

After tending to his ape friend, Badl turned his attentions to the
newly-dead dragon and the valuable reagents that can be gleaned from
such a corpse.  He and Nigel went to work, pulling out all sorts
of scales and juices and squidgy purple bits they would stuff into
sacks and vials and whatnot.  Yech.  Some days, adventuring
is not for the beauty-conscious.

After, we discussed what the day’s events had changed.  Badl
explained to us that natural shapeshifters are able to overcome the
effects of his polymorph spell, and so we are relatively certain that
Alec is a shapeshifter.  Yet again, their skullduggery is
afoot.  I really must start reading people’s minds when I ask them
The Question.  Adric emphasized a need to get some force or
another here immediately so that we could move on in our
investigation.  Nigel advocates that we get to Myth Drannor and
try to learn more about
these places as soon as possible.  As usual, I am full of nothing
but
concerns and a singular dearth of good ideas.  All I can think of
is my
worry for the friends I’ve made in all the parts of the world. 
Sometimes I feel that I am compelled to adventure less for love of this
life and more out of a fear of the ignorance that comes with
retirement.  Surely, I tell myself, there are evil cults and
sinister
cabals in brooding towers and shadow-drenched caverns in every corner
of the world, and surely no one can expect to stop them all.  Still, it is better to be the ones kicking in their
front doors, knives clenched in our teeth, spells at our fingertips,
than to sit at home and wait for one evil or another to interrupt
dinner with an apocalypse.

Rock and Adric are convinced that Alec – who said his real name, Lod
Tearthalas – is actually the Three-Faced Man.  As the illusionary
elf had told us, the dreadful Ur-dragon buried in The Tomb was the
mount of the Traitor, and true, Alec did have a dragon as his
mount.  I’m not sold on this idea, though.  Alec/Lod cried
out, at one point, that he, “first among elves,” would not be “defeated
by half-breeds and lesser races,” during our fight.  He might
consider himself some sort of heir apparent to the legacy of the
Three-Faced Man, but we know that the Seers of Kelemvor actually saw,
in their scryings, Alec being taken hostage by the Drow.  Adric
and Rock wondered whether this meant that Alec the Halfling was
possessed by Lod, restrained as he was in the same chair used to hold
the Traitor while his dragon died, but I really can’t make myself
believe one way or the other.  It hardly matters, in a way, given
that one way or another an elf from days so ancient no elf remembers
them has returned and has uppercase-P Plans.

Badl offered us his druidic glen as a teleport-point, so at some point
in the next day or two I will try to accompany him there so that I can
spend time studying the sight.  In the meantime, Nigel had a
shopping list of spells for us, specifically one which would let us
identify the vast horde of magical equipment we have gathered in our
time here, one which will prevent scrying, and some other spells that
would prove most useful to him.  Rock, Adric and I jumped back to
Elventree where we reported everything to Bliss (Rock’s wife) and
Jaycon, the leader of the defenses of the town.  He told us after
hearing our story that shortly after we left some of the High Elves who
have made their camp near Elventree came through town and examined
every halfling they could find.

We left Rock to spend the night in Elventree and Adric and I jumped to
Arabell, where we hoped to finish off Nigel’s shopping list and meet
with the Lothandrians in that city.  I dropped a note off at the
castle letting Lady Lall know I was to spend the night in her fair
city.  I have not seen her in some time, and at times like this I
somehow feel I need every powerful friend I have.  Upon visiting
the Lothandrians, their high priest at this temple stumblingly told
Adric and me that some other members of Adric’s order came through
recently looking for a halfling named Alec.

What Adric and I didn’t tell him was that when Adric questioned the
departed souls of the orcs they fought at The Tomb two days ago, they
told him that they had come in search of Alec because their god,
Grumsh, had sent them a vision of the orcs marching under the command
of “fell masters,” stripped of their freedom and enslaved by some other
force and that Alec somehow held the key.

Kelemvor sent us to the Tomb, where we learned a Beshaban had come on
behalf of her ill-omened Goddess.  Lothander and Sylvanus each
sent their own representatives (Adric and Badl, respectively), and
while there we met violently with orcs of Grumsh.  Now we find out
the High Elves know of Alec, as well, and more Lothandrians than Adric
have been sent to seek Alec, also? 

Many gods and many people have been mobilized by this one being, and
none of it bodes well for our world.  It is never a good sign when
the gods themselves chase mortals.

Tomorrow, Adric and I will travel to Selgaunt, where he hopes to gather
some of his fellow Lothandrians to bring back to The Tomb to secure
it.  I need to get to the Kelemvorian temple in this city, also,
and have them cast a Sending to notify Berol of the latest
developments.  If Alec has escaped into the land of the dead,
Berol must know – it’s his god who rules that place.  I admit, I
hope to learn whether Lady Lall has heard of these rumblings, as
well.  The Cormyran peerage is a complicated and bureaucratic web,
but its many strands carry much information.  If I happen to find
a Sunite temple in Selgaunt, well, all the better.  Any source of
information we can tap will be useful to us in days to come. 
After all, what if Alec/Lod already knows of the other four places of
power?  What if he’s on his way there now? (more…)