The Harrowing

The Aspirant's Path

Sophie's Journal

Wealday, 3 Desnus, 4723

There is nowhere I can go on this damnable quest that doesn't involve me getting wet somehow, is there? But after the last few hours of self-inflicted hell we've been through, a good soak in a pool could be just the thing to settle my nerves. But I get ahead of myself.

After an uneventful night in the monastery "safe room," we awoke to a cold breakfast and then decided to continue exploring the grounds. We hoped to find out more about the monastery as well as the missing key to the forbidden room with the dark window that the dragon Szangi was using to peer into the Dominion of the Black.

Our first stop was an unexplored section upstairs, where we found a long-abandoned library. Any real texts of value had sadly been plundered. I did find a copy of Trastor's Basic Bestiary, Vol. II with some vulgar but quite anatomically accurate marginalia, which I've held onto for further inspection.

From their we headed downstairs and fund ourselves in a chamber full of monk statues. Aldern, surprisingly, recognized it as the start of the Aspirant's Path, a maze of obstacles that served as a proving ground for Irori acolytes. Once Lennox found the inevitable secret door, we decided to explore the maze.

The next chamber featured a large open pit and a narrow ledge around it. Knives had some trouble getting across, but wisely wore a safety rope. Aldern tried to show off by rigging a rope onto his crossbow and firing it into the ceiling. His attempt to swing across was rather painful to watch, and even more so for him.

Beyond the pit room, we found a network of hallways. Aldern once again recalled that they would all eventually lead to the same destination. Knives suspects that the wizard's familiarity with Irori doctrine was all due to his efforts to woo one of the god's followers at university. I'd like to think athletic girls are his type, but I'm sure Knives was just talking shit like usual.

The first room we came across in the hallway network was a strange chamber with three large stone daises holding octopus shaped pedestals that grasped globes of cloudy liquid. (The third dais had actually been smashed and its liquid long since stained the stone). A nearby cabinet contained three beads of force, these magic beans that explode into bubble of force when thrown. Aldern recognized this room as a test of wills, one of the most difficult and dangerous in the Aspirant's Path.

Knives' attempt to cross was cut short when some ill effect left her dazed. Aldern pulled her back to the corridor, then made his own brave attempt to cross while wearing a safety rope. Instead of being dazed, he was overcome with a compulsion to break the central glass orb. Lennox and I pulled him back to safety. I had to hold him tight until his senses returned.

We surmised that the orb contained a dangerous entity known as a brain ooze. Knives wanted to just leave and try a different path, but I foolishly persuaded the group to attack the entity. I thought that if we all struck it at one, we could bring it down. After all, how much damage could an exposed brain take?

I was wrong.

Our initial attack struck true, releasing the entity, which looked like a big flying brain with tentacles. But it was far from finished. Soon, Lennox and Maffei were dazed while the monsters oily grip closed aroud the minds of Knives and I, compelling us to attack our friend Aldern.

I hurt him. I cut him with my sword. The thing I have been fearing every time I entered a berserker rage I did at the creature's command, like a puppet on a string. I hope he can forgive me.

Aldern was amazing. His searing rays of fire lashed the creature again and again, finally bringing it down with a splat. It was like something out of mother's songs, except the wizard was the hero in this story. We owe him our lives. 

Things might have been different if Tagnus were here, but he remained frustratingly locked away in his gem throughout our peril.

The brain ooze room led directly into a ready room. Like a tour guide, he explained that this was where acolytes were told they had succeeded their trials. If they believed that assurance, they failed. There were two exits, one of them a door and the other another looping hallway. Believing the door was intended for failed aspirants, we traveled down the hallway to a chamber filled with water. Little islands of dry land served as stepping stones to get across.

Knives, Lennox, and Maffei made the jump easily, while Aldern used magic to aid his running jump. I was not taking any chances with getting wet.

I am a daughter of a seafaring people and enjoy a good swim, but over the last few months I have become more and more offended at getting soaked by accident while adventuring. So I asked the others to wait and stowed away my armor before making the jump. I landed high and dry on the opposite shore.

Aldern insisted on helping me back into my armor. He kept pulling things too tight, but I was too happy that he was still talking to me to say no. He has such pretty hands, too, so I didn't mind seeing them up close.

Stepping out of the water chamber, we came to a familiar intersection and realized we had been walking in circles. We'd traversed the water for nothing! I insisted that we take the long way back around to the ready room, feeling like a fool twice over.

Opening the door in the ready room, we found a magic spring that Aldern says will restore and refresh us if we soak ourselves for an hour in it. We were debating whether Aldern should wait outside while we ladies took our turn, but he just started tying on a blindfold. There are wet grioth footprints by the pool, though, so I don't know if a bath is the best idea right now…

They are coming!

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