Ever Onward
While we were resting, another kobold named Aga wandered in, escorting Trinique. Sparrow and Smalls leapt up to escort her back. Meepo was still looking pretty bruised from the revenant fight, so I used some of my magic to heal him. It wasn't much, but it was nice of him to act so impressed. Frank and I examined the black candle a bit closer, too. It was weirdly cool and wouldn't go out or catch on anything, and covered in arcane runes. Frank decided to take it along for more light, and Trinique left to scout ahead.

The eastern side of the hallway up ahead ended in a cave-in, while the western side had another door. Shuffling tracks that looked like they came from the twig blights went south down the hall towards us. Further north the hall was lined with cells, with scurrying noises coming from the inside. I wanted to avoid those. At the end of the hall it opened up into another room, but a large open pit trap blocked the way. Another one was open on the west end of the room too. Trinique said she could see a similar looking dragon fountain as before, but according to Candy this one read, "Let there be death".

We decided to avoid the rats in the cells and the pit traps, and instead took the first hall door leading west. It was plain and nondescript, and none of us heard sound beyond it so we proceeded onwards. It opened up into another empty room, but we found more human-sized boot prints leading to another door on the north wall. I noticed some damage on the door, like someone had hammered three nails in a triangle formation about two feet off the floor. We thought the door might be boarded up, but it opened easily when I tried the latch.

I slowly eased the door open, and found the source of the nails to be a large metal bell nailed to the center. If anyone swung the door open too quickly it'd ring and let anyone up ahead know we were coming. The room up ahead was completely dark, but by the light of my lantern I could make out scattered caltrops on the ground just in front of me. Jax walked on ahead without taking any light, wincing as he accidentally stepped on one caltrop, then crying out when he hit another. I could barely make out his shadow 30 feet in front of me when two arrows shot out from the darkness beyond, clattering against the wall. It was another trap!

Trinique threw Frank's candle to get some more light in the room, and I ran to to bring my lantern as well. Just beyond the edge of the lights radius I could make out two shadowy figures hiding behind a battlement wall. We all returned fire but the darkness and the wall made it hard to land a hit. Meepo ran in to help Jax and I in the attack, but two more goblins joined the fray and rained down arrows on the three of us. Screeching, "Retreat!" Meepo ran back to the cover of the door, just as another arrow got me in the stomach.

Next thing I knew, Jax was leaning over me, softly singing a healing song. Candy took down one of the goblins, and I threw out a pinpointing spell on the three ones left. But it failed.

I panicked. I ran. Obad-Hai, I thought Jax was right on my heels. I should have grabbed him. I should have made sure he made it out with me. I should have been better. Gods damn it.

Three arrows sank deeply into his chest as Jax sprinted forward with a strangled cry. He went barreling over the wall, and another goblin shriek rang out as he took it down, then eerie silence. A moment later, a low whistle from Frank using the Night Caller.

I peeked out. Incredibly, Jax was up again! He bashed the brains out of one goblin while another, also risen from the floor, attacked the final creature. My heart leapt to my throat but Jax looked... wrong. His movements were jerky and unhinged. Jax was gone, and whatever magic Frank called upon with the crystal whistle turned him into someone awful. Finally it was silent.

I pulled the bell off the door and stuffed it in my pack. Trinique swept through the room and collected all the caltrops. We made our way across the room to the battlement to survey the remains. Beyond the wall, another door opened into a hallway leading south. Around the corner to the west side we found a larger empty room covered in straw, with the zombified bodies of the goblin and Jax lying still in the center. Globs of glowing ooze dotted the walls, casting a dull green glow. I could make out 5 practice dummies lines up against a similar battlement wall, with 3 doors to the north, northwest, and southwest. Frank suggested we burn Jax's body before the goblins could find it, so Candy, Trinique, and I helped sort through his belongings.

Jax had an interesting collection of supplies on him. Deep in his pack we found a very fine set of robes, like what a noble would wear. Candy found a letter that looked to be for a noble from Brindol, and a surprisingly delicate, elven-looking signet ring. Maybe those will help us find his family when this is all over. I added his song sheets, ink, and quill to my own writing bag. I'm sure his relatives will want his music. As a memento.

We set a pyre and continued onward. There are people we can still save.

The southwest door was held shut by a heavy lock, and we could hear high pitched voices just beyond. Frank managed to break the lock, and inside were four small cages. Three of them held kobolds, and Meepo eagerly bounded in to open the locks. The last one held a gnome, and his face broke out in the biggest smile at us.

The gnome introduced himself as Erky Timbers, and said a goblin ambushed attacked him on the Old Road a few months ago, and he's been forced to dig tunnels as a prisoner here ever since. Obad-Hai, I can't imagine being underground that long. The constant darkness is getting to me after barely a few days. I asked if he'd seen any human prisoners recently, and he said Talgen, Sharwen, and Sir Braford were here a few days ago, but were taken to Belak. Karakas was killed before they were taken prisoner. We're too late. Again.

Erky thinks Belak is some sort of spellcaster, and he and the goblins have an enchanted grove where golden fruit grows from something called the Gulthias Tree. The name doesn't make much sense to me; history says a man named Gulthias secretly lived as a noble in Brindol by day, and vampire feeding on the common folk by night. He was a scourge in the city until he disappeared, and no one knows what became of him. I don't understand how a tree named after such a monster of a man grows a fruit that brings life. The deathly white apple does make some sense, though.

Erky and Meepo eyed each other uneasily, and the gnome seemed on edge at the idea of us rescuing the kobolds' pet dragon. I tried to explain it, but I think I just made it worse. Now Meepo was upset too. Frank said something in gnommish to Erky, and he seemed to relax a bit.

The northwest door led to where the goblins live, according to Erky, so we went through the north door instead. Beyond, we found another hallway leading to the west, with a door directly ahead and another at the left end of the hall. More ooze lined the walls, and when I took a closet look, it was weirdly solid and rough, almost like bark, and smell like dirt and sulfur and something else I couldn't place.

Trinique and I heard goblin voices from the northern door, while the west one just had quiet thumping beyond it. Meepo said it smelled like sweets! None of use could pick the lock on the door, so we had to resort to breaking it down again. Loudly. The door swung open to reveal a small white dragon crouched on a table! Meepo was ecstatic! Frank and I, not so much, as the white reared back to unleash a flurry of icy breath in our direction. We managed to slam the door shut just in time, but turned around to see four goblins had joined us in the hall from the northern room.

We were surrounded. Uh-oh.

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Tags: Journal , pc death , Quinn
Epic!