Pyramid of Shadows

Knives don't kill Eladrin
Malakar kills Eladrin

I still don’t quite know how this happened, but somehow we had a lively discussion with a dragon and lived to tell the tale. I’ll try to put it down in words but some of it is still fuzzy with a high that I can only describe as “mushroom-like”.

We came upon a door that was icy cold, but Malakar was able to warm it up enough to open gently. As we entered the room, we spied on the other side a large white dragon, sleeping softly, as well as a giant purple amethist that Vyrilis demanded we procure. We had heard before that if we ever encountered a dragon we should offer it food and gems and perhaps it would let us live, so Malakar deftly butchered one of my long-lost kindred that was laying dead by the doorway. He and Marie then slowly approached the dragon with this meat, which Malakar called “reegrok loin”, and a diamond held out. The dragon greedily ate up the offering and then demanded more.

We bartered with the dragon, and it was agreed that we would bring more of the “reegrok” in exchange for 5 minutes to pick through and take what we wanted from the dragon’s horde. We returned to the hallway where Malakar again showed his skill in cutting up formerly living things, and then retrieved the amethist as well as a <insert>. The dragon was pleased with this transaction and sent us on our way, reminding us of our promise to tell his “helpers” (whom he had just eaten) how to find and prepare “reegrok” (which is what he just ate).

After we left the dragon to it’s lunch we proceeded down a hallway and came what appeared to be a gaping carving of a devil’s head, with giant gnashing teeth. Malakar sent his bird through, then proceded to be EATEN BY THE HEAD. All of my party members went through and were DEVOURED WHOLE, then one came back out, screamed at me, and pulled me in too, whereupon I passed out. After I came to everyone was back to healthy and they explained that it was just an illusion.

The walls were covered in pulsing flesh that oozed a purple slime, and there were a few monsters there that we killed. I was violated by some tentacles and Malakar was secretly jealous. Marie chopped down a wall with her axe and we went through to find the source of all the flesh, which we killed. It turned out to be a mindflayer that did something horrible.

Karavakos appeared then as in a vision and said “Not all of us are what wee seem. One of us is an abomination, kill us three times lolololOLOOLOLLLOL” and then disappeared as suddenly as he came.

The party decided to take Karavakos at his word and went into another room that had a giant swirling vortex. Inside the vortex we could see an abomination tied to two posts. We fought it mightly, even though it had tentacles, and Malakar killed it after I disabled the vortex. We got a mithril key.

All in all it was an exciting day and I look forward to dropping into a nice long dreamless sleep.

—Renleon

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The One Where The Decision Is Made
-or- How to kill a friend in three easy steps!

What a day, journal. What. A. Day. First, Marie hears some rats in my bag and tries to get them out, then one of Vyrilis’ gems go missing.

At some point in the evening, while on watch, Marie decided it would be a good idea to bathe. While on watch. With our only source of potable water. She decided that it would be a further good idea to see if there were any rats in my bag of holding, of which I’m most grateful. Rats wouldn’t last long in there, there’s not much air. Everyone but me woke up, then Malakar stood over me and yelled, which caused me to respond the only way I know how. Without thinking, I lept up and put the knife that was somehow in my hand against his throat. I’m not a morning person, you see.

Anyway, we found the missing gem and the party decided that it would be a good idea to split them up from the head, such that it one goes missing they all don’t go with it.

After we broke camp, we found a chamber with lots of people milling around aimlessly and a large statute with four arms holding weapons. We went into what looked like the town chapel and were greeted most warmly by a man wearing lots of robes. Just as he was inviting us to sit down and pray with them, a woman ran up to Leikos crying “Billy! I’ve lost my little Billy!” The great leader told us to ignore her and invited us to try his free personality tests, which I was in favor of but Leikos and Malakar were nervous about. Instead, we viciously slayed the leader and his acolytes and took the townspeople for our own. At one point one of the acolytes busted through a wall and said “OH YEAH!” right before he perished. Leikos now has an army!

Some time later we came across a room with what looked like a tiefling but was actually an illusion hiding a trap with two gas dispensers and a wall of force blocking our escape route. I deftly disabled the devices while Malakar destroyed the wall of force with force of will.

And now to sleep, perchance to dream, of a way out of this tiny pyramid.

-Renleon

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Somebody, cover Leikos!
Who will heal the healer, after all?

Our situation remains somber, yet I’d venture to say it is far from bleak. Even under these difficult circumstances, each of us has managed, in his own way, to further develop his prowess—I know I’ve found the wherewithal to add a few tricks to my repertoire. I also feel my offensive coordination with Malakar has improved. Perhaps we have some sense that our tribulations are nearing an end; I like to believe our hope is not misguided.

Of course, we are not like to forget that this place is dangerous. At one point, we came upon a bronze door with a most peculiar knob, cool and refreshing, if Malakar was to be believed. Renleon had a strange fascination with the thing, but ultimately we were able to convince him to step aside long enough to open the door. Inside, we found a maze whose walls encased haunted souls who pounded against the inner surface and cast a dreadful aura.

Malakar made some reference to alleys behind the Hall of Long Blades, which Leïkos promptly corrected to the Hall of Blackjacks. Those two have an impressive collection of misadventures in the City of Brass from which to draw tactical insight for virtually an occasion. Such insight was soon put to the test, as we were promptly attacked by four-armed skeletons wielding nasty scimitars. One of them made an invocation to one Super Mahreeo, who I can only surmise is some sort of evil god. Strange that one can travel so far and wide and still come across undiscovered mythologies.

The skeletons were joined by a pair of wailing ghosts that reminded me strongly of banshees. During the battle, both Leïkos and Renleon were rendered unconscious, a discouraging development. After being revived, Renleon certainly made up for lost time, dispatching both ghosts with an enthusiasm that was almost disturbing. The fellow has issues for sure, and I feel he has suffered the effects of the pyramid more than any other, perhaps in part due to his odd relationship with Vyrellis.

After tending our wounds, we traveled further and came to a room with a curtained area and a large black stone surrounded by four pillars. The curtain was a rich fabric displaying a spired castle embroidered in silver thread. Malakar sent Shadowclaw past the curtain where he reported finding the statue of a castle that produced an unnerving sense of homesickness for those who looked upon it. While trying to make sense of our surroundings, we were set upon by several small, shadowy humanoids whose quick and agile movements presented a certain amount of danger. They supported yet another instance of our foe Karavakos, who harassed us with an assortment of dark wizardry. We ultimately were victorious, though not before Leïkos again fell unconscious under the onslaught. He being our tactician and healer, I find this trend quite disturbing. Clearly, some changes must be made to prevent him from being placed in that position.

As it turns out, this latest Karavakos was not one of the pieces of his fractured soul that we have sought, but merely a spiritual shadow of that power-mad Tiefling. Oddly enough, this entity seemed to have no idea he was other than the genuine Karavakos, even as we defeated him. So our adventure continues. I have faith in our eventual success, but we have not faced our last dangers, I am sure.

-Kobi

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Don't think of it as losing a rogue
Think of it as gaining a barbarian

Madness and an ill-timed entry have conspired to take away one of our number. This morning, Renleon’s (figurative) demons overcame his reason, and he snapped, lashing out in attack against Malakar. I saw the troubled look in his eye shortly before but didn’t understand its significance until it was too late. Renleon was surrounded from the outset; no doubt that did nothing to improve his state of mind. In the past I had often caught his distrusting glances, so I shouldn’t be entirely surprised. Is it possible he had occasion to overhear one our hushed conversations concerning the Rahmbeau matter?

At first, I still held out hope that we might resolve the situation without fatality, though Malakar obviously relished the opportunity. He, more than any other, had taken a hardline stance against Renleon, and this was the excuse he needed. While I can’t disagree with him on the points, I take no comfort in the joy he seemed to deriving from doing in a companion of so many months. There’s a darkness in him that lurks below the surface and sometimes shows through when he is caught in the moment, unguarded.

I called on Renleon to lay down arms, but I could not muster the requisite ferocity to cow him. Is it possible that I didn’t really want to save him? It is true that I am a relative newcomer to the party, but I believe I have become fairly close to my companions. The circumstances, certainly, have seen to that, but I feel even if we hadn’t been trapped in this cursed pyramid I would have come to see these individuals as my comrades. Maybe there was some mercy in inability to stop Renleon. Could he ever find peace in the mortal plane?

In the end, it was none of us who laid the final blow. The killing strike was made by the axe of a gargantuan figure who tumbled from above out of a portal. When he landed, we stood in stunned silence, watching as Renleon’s severed head slowly rolled to a stop. I hoped I could see the faint hint of a smile on the elf’s dead lips, but I might be deluding myself to assuage the sense of guilt. Of course, there was little time to think of such things, as we had to assess the intentions of the new arrival.

He declared himself as Thunk, and though he didn’t immediately take up that greataxe of his, his wariness was evident, and he gazed uneasily at the wounded and scorched body he had landed on. It was a delicate moment, but we assured him that if he would reciprocate, we held no hostile intent. I’m not sure what he made of our somewhat conflicting explanations concerning the dead elf, but he was satisfied enough to engage us on friendly terms, especially after the body inexplicably disappeared.

It turns out Thunk was out hunting hares-“bunnies,” to hear him tell-when he was told by a voice that he had to kill someone a single time. Obviously, though this might not have made particularly sense to him, he had come upon the entrance to the pyramid and had heard the prophecy concerning Karavakos, who, having been defeated twice, had but one more form to offer. As Thunk described his adventure, he swung the heavy axe effortlessly, making comments about violence that might have been unsettling if they hadn’t clearly been weak attempts at humor. We elicited more details about Thunk’s past and heard a disjointed narrative about his upbringing. He seemed particularly caught up on the memory of a couple of bullies, Lo-Kag and Thotham, if I understood correctly.

Apparently, Thunk had heard the Tooth Fairy song honoring our own Marie, which seemed to improve his disposition towards us. We introduced him to Vyrellis, whom he insensitively referred to as “the head” and declared a whore, though he later made what might have been conciliatory gesture; I’m not certain whether he meant to indicate he liked the head, any head, or simply head. At any rate, Thunk agreed to join us, not an unwelcome arrangement given our diminished numbers. Thunk projects a simple image, but I can’t help but suspect a certain cunning hidden behind the direct, almost childlike demeanor. And yet, it’s not as if he is intentionally hiding anything. I think he is unburdened by sophistication, but he is no fool.

Malakar, always resourceful, scouted out a variety of small twigs and leaves, which he placed lit in Shadowclaw’s beak so the familiar could see through the darkness as he scouted ahead. Upon returning, Shadowclaw described a cemetery—dried bones and scraps of funeral wrappings in alcoves.

We have journeyed long enough not to trust in the innocence of graveyards, so we entered cautiously and proceeded through. Not until we touched the opposite door was the trap sprung; the door by which we had entered slammed shut. The hands of what were obviously wights began to emerge from coffins in the adjoining chamber. A ghost appeared, and a good many pestilent rats beset us. The ghost’s shrill cry had a dazing effect that sent those affected reeling; I managed to stand my ground. The fight was by no means the most difficult we had ever engaged in, but it was a good opportunity to have a first look at Thunk’s prowess: he did well enough that I have no reservations about relying on his skills in future encounters. Once all our enemies had been dispatched, we searched the area, and Leïkos ended up with a finally crafted khopesh brimming with magical energy.

We continued on to the next room where we saw statues of a mummy, liche, vampire and death knight. Malakar took the opportunity to expound on the nature of liches, a subject which he evidently finds most fascinating—and indeed, it was quite intriguing, though I’m not convinced his interest is purely scholarly. As luck would have it, these were no ordinary statues, but released the actual monsters they represented. The death knight was talkative, declaring, “I am the Skull Lord,” but none of our adversaries put up a particularly significant fight, apart from the nuisance of repeatedly summoning vampire spawn. I did manage to properly execute a spell I had been working on; after hitting one enemy with a vicious barrage, I teleported him behind his ally, who he immediately attacked and killed. Afterwards he was left momentarily dazed. It’s always rewarding to move a spell from theory to practice and have everything come together just so.

As I close, I take a moment to honor Renleon’s memory. May he find peace wherever he has gone.

-Kobi

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