Rocky Roads: The Mountains of Grinadier

Mortimer's Pocket World

Finding the Dark Devour

Once Mortimer’s form had disappeared, we were left in deep silence. The peace left behind was palpable. It was disturbing that the Wizard’s unfinished business was so tied up in his need for recognition and glory. There are many in the world that thrive on admiration, but I hope it’s a very small number that would consider it such epic injustice if they didn’t get it. Perhaps it’s more common than I realize, but my inherent humility blinds me to it?
With Mortimer gone, we had a chance to investigate. No one had forgotten that our purpose was to find the blade called the ‘Dark Devour’. We did find a large chest full of gold, but little else of value. The only other unusual item in the room was Mortimer’s mirror. It was clearly magical, and seemed to form a sort of portal. As we discussed our options, Faelyn pointed out that ghosts often hid the treasures that they had possessed in life, so that they would have access to them in their undead forms. He also noted that the portal appeared to be a type that had to be opened daily, and that our time to explore what was beyond was limited.
Thus it was that we plunged ahead before we could heal or mitigate the effects of the vampiric and Spectral draining that many in the group had endured. Faelyn pointed out that the portal could lead to a plane of fire, or water or any number of other difficult environments. None of us had any way to mitigate fire or acid, but I had prayed for Water Breathing this morning and so bestowed that power on everyone in the group. It would prove prophetic.
The mirror did turn out to be a portal. Jalen scouted ahead and then stuck his arm back through the mirror to beckon us to follow. Beyond lay a canyon awash in heat and humidity. It was shocking after leaving the cool dryness of the mountains.
As unexpected as the weather was, my biggest concern was that I was having trouble sensing Diakris here. Clearly we were no longer on the same plane. Faelyn also sensed limitations to arcane magic as well.
To either side of the portal stood a life sized statue of Mortimer. Offerings had been laid at the foot of each statue and, based on the advanced decay, it had been quite a while since anyone had been here. We traveled a few hundred yards down the narrow canyon before it opened up into a large wooded bowl surrounded by cliffs. Once again, life-sized Mortimer statues flanked the entrance, and evidence of offerings remained.
Within this area we discovered all manner of enormous creatures. In rapid succession we were attacked by horse-sized mosquitoes, packs of ravenous bipedal lizards, and a 40’ tall lizard with a gaping maw and underdeveloped forearms. In each case, Tanka’s deadly arrows weakened or slew the beasts before they could cause much damage. However, the creature Faelyn called a Lizard King defied our ranged attacks, and when I rushed to engage it, it tore into me and then scooped me up in it’s maw. It’s hard to think back about that fight, but I do have a strange memory of a large tooth piercing my heart, and then a moment later the tooth had just barely missed. It was a minor victory, however, as moments later the beast swallowed me whole. Within, it was hot and dark and the acid in it’s belly burned. As I fought to maintain consciousness, I felt a moment of vertigo as the creature fell.
I awoke some time later as healing liquids were poured down my throat. The others had cut open the creature and pulled me out before it was too late. Faelyn cleaned me up magically and we moved on. Off in the distance we saw a small herd of enormous spiked lizards. Faelyn indicated that they would likely leave us alone as long as we didn’t get too close. What a strange place we had discovered.
The woods seemed to be thinning out as we progressed, and soon we discovered a large pool of water. We approached carefully, but as Tanka began to look for tracks, a huge crocodile shot up out of the water and grabbed Nuan Shu. We rushed to attack it, but almost as soon as it appeared, it returned to the water, our warrior clutched in it’s jaws. During that short time, we had managed to hurt it, but not enough.
As we stood around deciding the best course of action, the creature once again emerged and this time it grabbed Faelyn. I managed to leave a deep, firey gash along it’s side, and Tanka pierced it with more arrows, but it returned to the depths of the pool just as Nuan Shu came walking back out.
We hoped that Faelyn would likewise be left forgotten within the Croc’s lair, but knew that the Elf was not as hardy as Nuan Shu. Several minutes went by before Jaelyn noticed a large log floating toward us was really the beast. A quick volley of arrows finally finished the croc and we were able to begin the process of searching beneath the dark waters for Faelyn. We found his body torn and wedged beneath a log near the bottom of the pool.
I had no way to revive Faelyn. That would need to wait until tomorrow. And so, we continued on with Nuan Shu carrying Faelyn’s corpse. Beyond the now bloody pool the area between the cliffs began to narrow. A quarter mile away we also saw that the floor of the valley that we were in gradually rose like a ramp that would take us to the top of the cliff walls. However, near the base of the ramp we came across a cavern opening flanked once again by statues of Mortimer. The offerings here were much fresher and more copious.
Before we could venture in, however, a group of men came down the ramp to intercept us. I assumed that these were part of the people that had been leaving offerings, which meant that they worshiped Mortimer and likely considered the cave a Holy place. Indeed, they seemed upset, but unfortunately, none of us understood the language that they were speaking. Perhaps Faelyn would have been some help, but he was too busy being dead to provide any assistance. As the usual spokesman for the HighGuard, I approached the four, armed warriors and tried to communicate with them. I pantomimed that we were not looking for trouble and wanted peace with them. Then I implied that we too were here to pay homage to Mortimer. eventually their body language relaxed and the strange primitive clubs they were holding were lowered into a less aggressive posture. It appeared that my guesses were accurate, that they wanted us to stay away from the cave. They watched approvingly as Tanka laid food offerings at the foot of the statues. Afterwards, however, they made it clear that they wanted us to come with them. I saw no peaceful way to refuse, so I followed along with Nuan Shu who was still carrying Faelyn.
Tanka, however, indicated that he wasn’t done worshiping, and so he stayed behind with one of the warriors guarding him. It was at this moment that I realized that Jalen was missing. I assumed that he had sneaked into the cave when I had the envoy’s attention.
At the top of the hill, a short distance back from the cliff face stood a small village of these primitive humans. Everyone gathered around to meet us, including one that I assume was the mayor or elder. They brought us food and welcomed us to stay with them. About half an hour into the party, Tanka joined us. He was carrying the lifeless body of Jalen. There was no sign of the warrior who was guarding him. I was glad for the language barrier at this point as Tanka explained that he was attacked by the warrior when he entered the cave and had to kill him. He found Jalen’s body in front of a large vault. He surmised that Jalen had set off a trap on the door. The door was ajar, however, and so Tanka was able to enter. It looks like he found Mortimer’s stash of equipment, including the dagger.
It wasn’t easy to get away from our new ‘friends’. They seemed insistent that we join them. However, as we were deciding our next course I recalled what Faelyn had said earlier. The portal would likely close in a few hours, and with Mortimer gone forever, we’d be stuck here forever as well. Somehow I managed to convince their elder that we had to go, and he relented. The trip back through the pocket realm was blessedly uneventful and the portal was still open.
Mortimer’s tower left us alone. As we descended from level to level, we were quite pleased that nothing appeared and attacked us. It was getting dark but we decided to put a few hours between us and the tower before we settled down for the evening. Only then did we take a better look at the treasure that Jalen and Tanka had found. Indeed it appeared to be the items a sorcerer adventurer would have accumulated. Evil and corruption emanated from the oily, black, obsidian blade and left little doubt that this was the item we had sought.
In the morning, I will raise our dead and begin the process of restoring life that has been drained from the others.

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Joe_Hall

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