My last journal entry was interrupted by the sound of screaming coming from across the river. I grabbed the inebriated Izeya and pulled her along with me as I rushed across the bridge toward the sounds of battle. Malygos and Aveira soon joined us as we ran toward a group of skeletons who were attacking the townspeople. As we entered into the fray, Nox soon joined us and (despite the difficulties dealing with their necrotic attacks) we were able to defeat them. Nox nearly fell from her wounds, but luckily I was able to swoop in with a potion and revive her. She seems less than appreciative of my rescue.
After the battle, Arthur came to find us. Apparently the skeletons originated from a crypt not far from the town’s outer limits. He charged us with going their, finding the necromancy that is the source of this trouble, and eliminating it. As it so happens, the next portal we need to find is most likely located there as well. So after a night of rest, off to the crypt we all went.
The ancient Woodford crypt was merely a short walk outside the town gate. Upon our arrival, we were shocked to find many of the bodies laid to rest in the alcoves along the wall rose up to fight us. Fortunately, they weren’t nearly as strong as the earlier skeletons; we soon put the undead back to rest and headed further into the crypt.
I soon became aware of an unusual presence in the crypt; something was there that was not meant to be there. I couldn’t tell if this presence had any sort of ill intent, but I informed the rest of the party and we pressed on.
As we passed through a door on the other side of the entryway and walked down a hall, we came to another room dedicated to a single family. I approached two caskets in the center of the family crypt, and suddenly two ghosts arose from the graves and more undead rose from the alcoves along the walls. The ghosts demanded to know who I was and where their daughter went. As they seemed rather upset, I introduced myself and asked them more about their daughter. Apparently, the spirit of their daughter had gone missing, and I promised to find her as I searched further in the crypt as long as they let us progress unimpeded. They agreed, and the undead went back to their resting places, no longer interested in potentially attacking us.
In another hallway, I sensed another presence; it was the ghost of a little girl. At first she ran away from us, disappearing and reappearing as she willed. When I finally caught up to her, I approached her and asked her name. She answered that it was Elise, and she had a very friendly demeanor. I confirmed with her that she was the missing daughter of the ghost couple we found earlier. She also told me that she had a friend she called Martin who resided lower in the crypt. I asked her to lead us to him, and she seemed enthusiastic about being our guide.
We followed Elise to the deepest depths of the crypt. There, we found the mysterious Martin, who was the source of the strange presence I felt earlier. As it turns out, Martin was actually a disembodied brain in a jar.
Yes. You read that correctly. Martin was a brain in a jar. Who could apparently still somehow talk. And he was guarded by five dog-like creatures that seemed to be constructed of metal (and were very protective of the jar-brain). At that point, I told Elise to go back to the room of the crypt where her parents were resting to fulfill my promise to find and return her; she agreed to do so and disappeared.
Fortunately, Martin seemed incredibly reasonable. He told us that he was a victim of a nefarious cult that had ripped him from his body and placed him inside the jar. They used some sort of strange magic called “electricity” to store information inside him. Then they dumped him in the crypt and left the dog creatures to guard him. He desperately wanted his body back so that he could move from the jar and leave the crypt, but he couldn’t remember too well how he got to be a brain in a jar in the first place. It was looking pretty unlikely that we would be able to help him, until Malygos had a brilliant idea; he took out a scroll and read a spell that raises undead, in order to bring back Martin’s body and presumably resurrect him.
It didn’t go exactly as expected, however; Martin’s body simply appeared next to the jar, and was alive but unconscious. Martin was still a disembodied brain. But luckily for us, we know a very powerful wizard – and I suggested the party go back to see Arthur, who would most likely be able to rectify the situation. Before we left, Elise also reappeared and gave me a sack full of gold with her parents’ thanks. I was more than happy to take it from her. That must have been the easiest quest I’ve ever completed.
Izeya then transformed into her bear form and Malygos strapped Martin’s body to her back with some rope. Nox placed Martin’s brain (and jar) in a sack, and we carried him back to Woodford so that Arthur could examine him. Fortunately, my assumption that the old wizard would prove useful was correct; within the space of an hour, Arthur managed to concoct a potion (and a pot of tea), cast a spell, and Martin woke up back in his own body. His very lean, very attractive Eladrin body. Mmm.
Anyway, earlier Martin had mentioned that he’d been through the portal located in the Woodford crypt, and expressed an interest in joining our party whenever we traveled through it. According to him, on the other side was a residence of the demigods. Arthur encouraged us to go meet with them, and I was more than willing to have Martin come along. Once again, the party (plus Martin) headed off to the crypt and descended to its deepest level.
After stepping through the portal, we materialized in a magnificent palace. The walls were carved with magical runes, and the stained glass windows were enchanted to move in order to depict various stories. The floors were made from patterns of marble, jade and quartz; the marble pillars were inlaid with gold. There were huge, ornately carved wooden doors along the walls as well. Clearly this was a place of beauty.
In the center of the massive room, there was a large crowd of people; some were demigods, others were deva or other races I didn’t recognize. As some of them spoke, the windows would change to depict the tactical possibilities they spoke of. We approached the group, and one of the demigods turned to us. He explained that they were all there to try to plan an assault on the Black Gate. For this mission, they needed our help, as apparently only members of the Dragon Guard were capable of destroying the gate itself.
In that vein, the demigod explained that they had a special portal that would send us to wherever we were most needed. He hoped that it would send us to wherever we could find the information needed to destroy the Gate; of course, it was just as likely that where we were “most needed” was elsewhere. However, it was worth the gamble, as I reasoned, because if there was anything more important than finding out how to destroy the Gate then we should most likely go there. The demigod agreed, and we all stepped through the gate.