Today is going to be an intriguing day to say the least. I have finally gotten myself settled in the Inn and have been in contact with the leaders of the city and I have a meeting arranged for later in the week. If everything goes well Tol en’ Wilwarin will have an established embassy on this part of the continent. I have plenty of time until the meeting so I have decided to investigate a tomb my money keeper told me on Gemhardt Lake. From what Garnet or Gelt whatever my money keeper’s name is, described the mage buried there is from centuries in the past. If his spell-book and tomb could be examined, I imagine that there is much forgotten arcane lore that could help my people from an academic standpoint. Even if all that remains is dust, I will still have gained more knowledge of the surrounding area. I might even be able to practice some of the spells I have been studying. Everything here is so foreign and strange. Even the trees look funny here. I am not sure I will ever get used to it. I think I have enough gold on me to hire a couple mercenaries at one of the local taverns. Five gold each should probably do it.
What a disaster.
I do not even know where to start. Where I left off seems appropriate. The journey to the tomb was uneventful more or less. As planned, I assembled a group of adventurers. I managed to hire a pair of half-human brothers, one is part elf and another is part orc. I believe their names are Soren and Kabahl respectively. There was also a peculiar being that I have only read about in stories. I am not sure how this Kohef came into being, but I would very much like to learn more about it. A sturdy construct of his nature might be a useful ally back home. I also convinced a spry gnome named Nix to join my party as well as a dragonborn whose name escapes me at the moment. We headed west from the city along the main road before turning north onto a narrow path that led to the lake. I allowed Soren to ride Kidriel on the short journey because he claimed that he was having difficulty walking for long distances. I have a feeling that was a lie, but I do not mind stretching my legs. Upon reaching the Lake, all that separated us from the tomb was a lengthy wade over a submerged land bridge. We encountered trouble from some local amphibians while crossing. It was a tricky fight as I had never used magic in combat before, and we had a close call when Nix was eaten whole by a giant Frog Luckily we were able to cut her out of it before she was digested. Disgusting…
The tomb itself was quite intriguing to explore. It was in the center of the small island at the end of the submerged land bridge. It could be called crudely pyramidal in shape but it had several more facets to the normal half diamond shape indicative of an older Dwarven religious symbol. When we opened, the door there was a cracked platter at our feet. I got the distinct impression that it did not belong there, but I assumed perhaps that visitors brought it prior to us. The only noticeable defense we encountered was a violently green ooze that hung over the long steep staircase that cleaved its way deeper into the tomb. The first room we encountered in the tomb was far below the surface. It was a square room with some sort of altar in the middle. There were bones of several small animals and more out of place objects that scattered the floor. Perhaps some residual magic from the mage conjured them up into being postmortem. To the left there was a secondary room with plaster walls. Carved and painted into the plaster was what appeared to be images that may have detailed the life of this mage. They were very worn aside from an area in the plaster that looked newer than the rest of the wall. Upon pressing my palm against it, I could feel it give slightly against my weight. Kohef assisted me with opening up a passage to the burial chamber. I was surprised to find that despite our depth and the damp environment we found ourselves in a warm glow illuminated the room. A stone sepulcher in the center of the room was flanked by two golden cages that held a pair of fire beetles. The sense of magic in this room was overwhelming but I had a feeling this semblance of life had remained in these creatures for as long as they had been buried here. I was not sure if I should be envious of the glittering creatures or pity them for their unnaturally long lives in captivity. Eager to discover and study the spell book belonging to this wizard I quickly concluded that the only place it could be hidden was with the corpse itself. After some hasty pushing of the stone slab that sealed the body all those years ago, I came face to face with the stout skeleton that was holding the book in its eternal rest. Without thinking, I grabbed the book from its fingers and began to page through it. I could not understand it. The pages of the old tome were blank. There were no notes on incantations or gestures just page after page of pristine paper. While I peeled through the book, I felt a chill wash over me and my whole body began to tingle and shrink. I could feel the magic begin to warp my body until my eye level was at my companion’s knees. I found I could not speak or scream. Instead, a shrill squawking sound escaped my lips; except they were not lips, they were less pliable and protruded from my face. A bill perhaps. Quite distressed I began to realize that I had turned into a bird that is native to my homeland, a peacock. Unwilling to remain in the tomb any longer my companions gathered up my things and returned to the surface. Nix helped get my things together so that they were not left behind but in my opinion, the damage had already been done. At that point, I was not sure what to expect. It was very likely that I would remain like this forever. I doubted that the promise of five gold each for my safe return would really cover them going out to find a curse breaker to sort out my problem. Honestly, I am surprised they did not abandon me immediately. As bad as things were things actually got a lot worse when we returned to the city.
Just as we were reaching the gates, I shifted into my normal form. Unfortunately, it seemed my affliction had been transferred to one of the brothers, Kabahl. Interestingly he turned into a goat instead of a bird. This meant this issue, was not localized to just myself. It is possible that all of us were affected. When we were admitted inside the city gates, we found we were one of the few people leaving instead of fleeing. Several wagons of people and were making their way down the road fleeing whatever danger had the City under siege. Unaccustomed to the mass panic around him I allowed Kidriel to remain outside the city walls. Despite the pirate attack that the city guard was trying to repel, we still had a curse to deal with. Our best bet was to return to Gelt to get further information about the Dwarven mage. While I was there, I could withdraw some of my gold from safekeeping to pay the rest of my party for my return to the city. Instead of fighting the pirates that were advancing down the spoke like streets, we managed to avoid open combat. I explained where Gelt lived and the others who were much more familiar with their surroundings guided us safely to our destination.
… I swear I do not think I have felt more foolish than I did when I realized just how unreliable and noncommittal my money keeper actually was. I am almost certain that my father advised me to deal with him but that is no excuse for this blind trust I seemed to give this idiot of a man. Not only did he not remember even telling me about the mage’s tomb but also he had completely forgotten what he did with my coins. Sure… It was not a lot, a little over five hundred gold pieces, but the fact that he managed to lose it somewhere was infuriating. It is highly likely that my ship was lost to pirates in the attack, so losing this backup funding, in addition to already being in debt was not a happy occurrence. This fancy hatted liar was bumbling his way through our interrogation when our voices drew the attention of Pirates on the street. A bomb was tossed through the window nearly exploding the whole lot of us. Several more bombs followed the first revealing a narrow tunnel buried underneath Gelt’s residence. Without much of a choice, we escaped through these tunnels. I do not have much of a sense of direction underground so we made our way together with the reluctant help of Gelt. He seemed more interested in eating our Goat friend than actually escaping the tunnels though.
I think the caves we used were former mining tunnels and perhaps much more than that. While we journeyed through them, we discovered several areas that looked more like an underground settlement than an industrial work place. I realize that we are very close to the border with the dwarves so it might be probable that these are part of an older society that was abandoned over time. While exploring these tunnels we discovered several blank gold coins. We also encountered a peculiar being. I am not sure if it was a spirit, or just a creature able to morph itself. It had rudimentary communication skills but after some puzzling, we led it to graveyard, which seemed to put it at peace. Excuse my foggy memory. The Drinks that Nix has been feeding me are starting to have an effect. I should have finished documenting my experiences before imbibing so heavily but as I said, today was a horrible day.
After further exploration, we found an exit to the cave. It opened out to a great Chasm. Far below cutting, a deep ravine was the Gemhardt River. The caves that we were in were likely very old because across the ravine at a similar elevation was similar tunnel to the one that we were currently trapped in. The only way out was up the side of the cliff. We managed to climb out before rigging some rope pulleys to help both Kohelf and Kabahl up to the top of the plateau. We followed the edge of the ravine west until we found a bridge to cross. It was not much farther to walk to a small Dwarven surface village called Graniton. The village was flooded with refugees so there was no room in the inn. However, that has not stopped us from getting a meal and drink here. Oh, here comes another round. I should probably put this away… Head is starting to spin a bit.