20. Meet Mortis

After a tireless two day ride, our exhausted trio makes camp just outside Justice, figuring that they'll be no use to Tralamin if they can't hold a sword. When Feer and Jarmangle awaken, however, they discover Robyn is gone; she's left a note saying that she's gone scouting ahead.

Heading into Justice, Feer and Jarmangle are immediately set upon by a party of drow. As they struggle against overwhelming numbers, a new figure appears, in the form of a changeling mortician, Mortis. Slowly, the tide turns, and, as it does, one of the drow begins to act suspiciously like Tralamin.

Both the drow and our heroes soon realize that this is precisely the case. The drow are defeated, and Tralamin explains that, finding himself in a drow city for several days, he had no choice but to disguise himself as a female drow using his magical hat. The others are slightly miffed, but forgiving; Mortis, being on the outside, questions why Jarmangle and Feer hang around with this guy, and they have no answer.

Mortis himself is subject to questioning, and he reveals that he runs a funeral parlor/Temple of Death in the desert somewhere between Hodam and Justice. As he tends to the remains, he finds a childish drawing that Feer recognizes is meant to represent Jarmangle, Tyne, and Hanoonk. It's at this time that Tralamin reveals that, when he found himself teleported to Justice, Hanoonk was there also, and that he may have sold the goblin into slavery.

Again, Mortis wonders just why the hell Jarmangle and Feer hang out with him.

The group decides to venture into the drow city, with Tralamin and Mortis taking on the guise of female drow. Jarmangle uses the corpse of a dire tiger to fashion a Rakshasa disguise, but soon realizes that it is completely ridiculous. So, instead, Jarmangle and Feer simply pretend to be the slaves/bodyguards of the other drow.

Somehow, they manage to get into the city without attracting suspicion. Finding their way to the slave quarters, they meet a female goblin, Banvyre, who tells them that Hanoonk has entered a gladitorial tournament to win his freedom. Facepalming simultaneously, the group heads to the colliseum.

There, they attempt a perhaps ill-planned slave revolt, and find themselves needing to escape. Their salvation seems near in a secret passageway. Said passageway, however, leads to the chambers of the drider champion of the colliseum. Jarmangle finds himself locked in with the drider, and attempts a seduction. The drider is actually receptive, but tries to kill Jarmangle after the act. The others manage to get into the room, and together they defeat the drider.

Having caused enough mayhem for one day, they high-tail it to the surface, Banvyre and Hanoonk in tow. Having saved the day, they head back to the Bell of Harvest, along with their new friend, to witness the wedding of Tyne and Leesa. Captain Bergris is present, but keeps his distance from both his estranged daughter and son.

It's at some point during the ceremony that they remember that Robyn had gone scouting ahead, and is likely still in the drow city.

19. Into the Fog

Our heroes awaken on the pirate boat, docked at a fog-enshrouded isle. Tralamin has disappeared, leaving behind his magic compass Bradbury, and Jarmangle has somehow joined the others, with no memory of where he has been. Robyn, for whatever reason, does not wake from her slumber. The ship is otherwise empty, with the three pirates they had locked in the hold having disappeared. They try to use Bradbury to suss out Tralamin's location, but find that Bradbury is not properly functioning. The group decides to venture onto the island, slinging Robyn over a spectral horse summoned by Irving.

The adventurers encounter a small and rather creepy child, who directs their attention to his house, a large mansion overlooking a gated cemetery. At the house, they're surprised to find Tyne, dressed as a maid and with apparently no memory of her brother and his friends.

Other bits of weirdness abound. Feer's Mirror of Truth reveals that the lady of the house has no eyes. Said matron works a small knife into her own palm, which causes nosebleeds in those observing. The man of the house sits in his study, surrounded by fresh copies of books that are nearly a hundred years old. He alone seems to understand that there's something terribly amiss here, and tries to impart to our heroes a cryptic warning.

As they explore the house and its surrounding environs, the group splits up. Tyne disappears and reappears, seemingly without reason. Jarmangle finds himself alone with the palm-knifing lady and, despite the group's earlier surmise that she was an eyeless ghost of some sort, proceeds to bed her, much to her screeching delight. This tryst is interrupted when the group discovers that a coterie of stone gargoyles have carried off the still-unconscious Robyn to the graveyard.

The group gives chase, and battle is joined. The pantless Jarmangle is frequently knocked over as the mobile gargoyles fly by. Robyn finally awakens, and together the group soon makes short work of the gargoyles.

Exploring the cemetary, they discover the grave of the small boy they met at the dock-- much to the chagrin of the apparently alive small boy, who seems fearful of his mother. They find the bodies of the three pirates, all having met the same grisly demise: their skulls have been cracked open, and the brains sucked out. At last they decipher the father's warning: beware the illithids.

Venturing back into the house, they find a secret passageway into the basement. Strapped to a slab in that basement is Tyne, subject to some feverish torment; watching over her are three illithids: a man, a woman, and a child.

The battle that follows is, in a word, disastrous. The group huddles in a narrow passageway, firing arrows and spells into the room. The illithids move to the corners of the room, avoiding the projectiles, and sneak their way to the passage, using their dangerous psychic magics to stun the group. The lady illithid zeroes in on Irving and, considering the brain of a wizard-skunk to be a delicacy, proceeds to suck it out of his tiny skull, dropping his lifeless body on the cold, dank floor.

His friends panic, yet barely manage to turn the battle in their favor. They discover that Tyne has some sort of parasite burrowing into her brain. This, too, causes them to panic, and Jarmangle laments that Irving is no longer there to advise them on a reasonable course of action. Robyn and Feer manage to remove the parasite, but are unsure of the extent of the damage.

They return to the dock and pile into the lifeboat, as there is still no wind to power the ship. As they paddle onward, seemingly in circles, the fog suddenly lifts and they find themselves approaching the Bell of Harvest.

Tyne, still reeling and feverish, receives a mental message from Tralamin, revealing that he is in Justice, and surrounded on all sides by drow. The group pieces together that this is where Jarmangle has been, and that somehow, the strange magicks of the fog has switched the two. Leaving Tyne in the care of her bride-to-be Leesa, and pausing only to give Irving their traditional throw-the-body-into-the-air-set-it-on-fire-and-let-it-land-in-the-water send-off, the remaining trio speed towards Justice on a despearte rescue mission.


18. Escort Mission

A lot of stuff happened.

Irving discovered that the only way to remove Jarmangle's cursed mustache was to cut it off, but they could not locate Jarmangle.

Tralamin and Irving put in bids in the Hodam Mayoral election. Some goblins came looking for Ugblar's rings, and the group lied to them, claiming they didn't find the rings.

Melany talks to the group, sans Tralamin, about Tralamin's recent suspicious behavior, including soliciting assassins to kill Melany. Irving tries to pass it off as one of Tralamin's quirks, but assures Melany that they'll prevent anything bad from happening to her.

The group set out to escort Leesa and her sister, Hank, back to their father's homestead in the Bell of Harvest. They took a contingent of whores, a supply of booze along with them, and the dragon they had arrested along with them.

They came across the ruins of an Ettercap village, and two of the orcs that had slaughtered that village. They fought and slew the orcs and discovered battle plans that implied that Bergris's pirates were working with the orcs against the gnollish tribes.

They stopped at Kobold Pocket and dropped off the dragon as a replacement god for the kobolds.

Steering clear of both the orcish swamp and the gnollish woods (where, um, the dungeon master had all sorts of adventures, traps, puzzles, and skirmishes planned), they swung around the coast and headed east to the Bell of Harvest. They caught sight of some pirates, preparing to attack the gnolls. There was some talk of what, if anything, the group should do, and they finally decided to warn the gnolls.

Arriving at the Bell of Harvest, Irving, Tyne, and the whores went into the center of town to try and ply their wares. The others escorted the two girls back home, only to discover that their father is one of the richest cattle-barons on the Bell. When they later tell Tyne this, she's much more interested in Leesa, and runs off to propose marriage. Leesa accepts, and her father plans an elaborate wedding to take place in a month's time.

The group discovers that Robyn has been writing books under a pseudonym about their adventures, and that the achievements of the others are minimized to a large degree. Irving cautions Robyn not to reveal the truth about Tralamina's identity, and Robyn agrees.

That secret is endangered when Tralamin(a) attempts to seduce Leesa's sister, Hank. Hank shares her sister's desire for the opposite sex and is horrified to discover that Tralamina is male. Later that night, she runs to the inn where Irving and the prostitutes are staying and blabs about it. The whores, who have had their suspicions, blackmail Irving in order to keep it a secret. Irving agrees to raise their salaries when they get back to Hodam.

The next day, Irving, Tralamin, Robyn, and Feer go to check on the gnolls and discover that the pirates and orcs cannot find them. When they are about to head back home to Hodam, they are met by an hysterical Leesa. Calming her down, they discover that a group of pirates, likely working for Tyne's father, have kidnapped Tyne.

The quartet mug some pirates and disguise themselves, stealing onto a pirate ship where Tyne is supposed to be held. The ship heads for Bloodpurse Isle with the group on board. They try to break into the brig and are interrupted by some suspicious pirates. A battle ensues, but the pirates quickly surrender. Investigating the brig, they discover it to be empty.

Heading on deck, they find the pirates quickly abandoning the ship. A dense fog overtakes the ship, and suddenly, all of them fall unconscious.


17. Dungeon of the Vampire Lord, Part Three

While his friends braved the perils of the dungeon beneath the merman prison, Jarmangle was tending to his goblin, Hanoonk. Jarmangle found himself unable to cure Hanoonk of his mummy rot. Leesa, the young woman they rescued from the clutches of the Cult of Cloth-- who had been deflowered by Jarmangle's sister Tyne-- urged Jarmangle to join his friends and bring Tyne and Leesa's still-captive sister safely back, promising to look after Hanoonk in his stead. Reluctantly, Jarmangle agreed.

He soon found himself reunited with the group, and together they soon found the vampire, Romlyn. From a hidden vantage point, they set up a magical crossbow, aimed for the vampire's heart, that they had found in one of the dungeon's many trap-filled rooms. They sent Tyne back upstairs to step on the pressure plate in said room. Unfortunately, the trap misfired, and the arrow struck Jarmangle.

The group went into the vampire's room. A long conversation ensued, during which time the vampire revealed that Jarmangle's cursed moustache was likely eating him from the inside out. The vampire also insulted Tralamin's sense of style. A battle was joined between the group, the vampire, and the vampire's faithful owlbear. The skirmish was interrupted by the arrival of a monstrous bulette, which Robyn managed to drive off with a bit of beastbane. The owlbear was pushed into a chasm, the vampire slain, and Leesa's sister rescued.

Beaten and exhausted, the group found their way back up to Tyne barred by stones the bulette had overturned. They found another passageway back up, and, as they made their way back to Tyne through other means, they stumbled upon a secret room filled with treasure and magical apparel. One hat in particular proved potentially useful, as it allowed its wearer to assume the appearance of another.

Tralamin put on the hat, assuming the guise of his own fictional twin sister, unconvincingly named Tralamina. They now planned to pretend that Tralamin had died inside the dungeon, hopefully thus ending the eladrin hunt for him.

At long last the group found Tyne and exited the dungeon.

Loose Ends

In the day that followed, they managed to all recover from their various cases of mummy rot. Having lifted the Rings of Fire Immunity and Acid Immunity from the body of the vampire, they now wondered if they should keep their promise to give them to Ugblar, the troll Goblin Boss. They decided against it and hatched a contingency plan should Ugblar come looking for them.

Returning to Hodam, they introduced Melany to Tralamina, who they said had been left Tralamin's share in the brewery, pubs, and bawdyhouses. Melany at first gave some resistance-- claiming that without a legal will that said otherwise, Tralamin's holdings should pass to her-- but upon the revelation that Tralamina was in fact Tralamin, Melany was more cooperative. She agreed to keep Tralamin's secret, and helped the group to organize a public funeral for Brewmaster Tralamin.

And into all this, there flew a drunken young dragon. Sheriff Feer put on the Ring of Fire Immunity and arrested the dragon, forcing it to repair the damage it had done. It was suggested that the dragon could be given to the denizens of Kobold Pocket, thus smoothing over any remaining ruffled feathers with Hodam's trade partner.

Tralamin(a) and Melany put the Goblin Beer recipe that Tralamin had obtained from Ugblar into production, and it seemed to be a success.

Irving holed himself up with the necromantic books they had lifted from the vampire's library, hoping to find a cure for Jarmangle's cursed moustache.

Robyn went into business with Melany to start a cabaret/entertainment establishment. Leesa, still pining after Tyne despite repeated post-coital jilting, expressed an interest in working at the cabaret so that she might remain in Hodam.

Leesa's sister, however, longed to return home to the Bell of Harvest, and the group agreed to escort her home.


16. Dungeon of the Vampire Lord, Part Two

Having been severely injured in their latest attempt to probe the depths of the dungeon beneath the merman prison, the group had returned to the surface to lick their wounds. The goblin Hanoonk was alone in being unable to shake off his mummy rot, and Jarmangle felt responsible. And so, when the group went off to retrieve Tralamin from the troll "goblin boss" Ugblar, Jarmangle announced he was staying behind to watch over the goblin. Tyne went with the group, but only after deflowering the rescued virgin Leesa.

Ugblar was disappointed that they had not been successful in defeating the vampire and stealing her rings, but let Tralamin ago-- he still felt bad about taking such a, well, trollish and uncivilized approach.

And so, the five adventurers-- Tyne, Feer, Tralamin, Irving, and Robyn-- returned to the dungeon once more, hoping to retrieve both the rings and Leesa's sister, Oola. They often found themselves retracing their steps and second-guessing themselves. "We didn't go down here, did we?" they asked, only to get lost in a maze of caverns and find themselves in previously-tackled territory.

The Cult of Cloth and their mummies were on high-alert after their previous excursion, resulting in several skirmishes. As they ventured further into the dungeon's depths, they confronted new horrors and traps. Tyne nearly found herself impaled in a bed of spikes-- Irving, at the last moment, conjured up a spectral ram and pushed the tiefling to safety.

Our heroes discovered the secrets of the Cult of Cloth-- they were men who worshiped vampires and projected their consciousness into rag-man bodies-- and found the room where their bodies were kept. The room was filled with bodily waste and guarded by mummies. Irving, perhaps unwisely, summoned a fireball in the room, causing the high quantities of methane gas to ignite. The adventurers barely made it to safety, and the Cult of Cloth was extinguished.

However, that still left the vampire itself. The magical compass Bradbury indicated that the kidnapped girl was nearby, but they could not find a passageway that led to her. Hoping to find access to her from another floor, they followed some stairs leading to unexplored areas on the previous floors. There, they found the library of Romlyn-- at last, a name to the vampire. Getting past the sentient door with a little bit of the ol' fey step, they raided the library for necromantic texts.

Leaving the library, they found themselves in a room they had inadvertently returned to many times before-- emblematic, they supposed, of the adventure as a whole, which still lacks a conclusion.


A Tale of Two Torches

So, to set the scene: our heroes have returned to a mummy-infested dungeon beneath a merman prison, intent on slaying the vampire that lies within. After a particularly tense battle with some peskily-regenerating mummies-- resulting in several infections of mummy rot-- two of the PCs, sherriff Feer and her deputy Jarmangle, decide to arm themselves with a couple of torches that they can throw at the flammable mummies.

Soon thereafter, they come to a doorway. Said doorway is blocked by a mass of foilage with little, closed-up flowers. Their usual modus operandi when faced with a suspicious-looking plant is to stand back and set it on fire. This I'm kinda counting on: the flowers, which of course unleash a poison gas when they open, are heat-sensitive, and the door through which they entered this room will not stay open. Bwahahaha, et cetera.

But my players don't set it on fire; instead, they begin investigating the plant. Feer and Jarmangle notice when they come near it that the petals start to open slightly (though not enough to unleash the poison); the others, however, don't set it off.

"Huh," said Jarmangle and Feer at about the same time. "Why does it just do it around us specifically? What do we have in common?"

The answer, of course, are the flaming torches, but they don't think of that. Instead, they each begin looking through their loot. We're both wearing hide armour, maybe it's the hide? Jarmangle takes his armour off. Nope, he still sets it off. They have swords? Jarmangle puts down his sword. Nope, still setting it off.

Repeatedly, they flip through the 3x5 cards on which are written their various possessions. Briefly, the possibility that they are both law enforcement is considered. They go through the cards again; they pass them around the table. "What is it that we have in common?"

And by this point I'm laughing hysterically.

"Maybe it's something you acquired recently," I said, trying to be helpful.

They mentally retrace their steps, but they forget about the torches.

Jarmangle finally says, "Okay, I'm taking off everything. Putting everything down. Completely nekkid."

"Everything?" I said. "Including the torch?"


What was so amusing to me about this was the image of these two inteprid adventurers, each holding identical torches, scratching their heads: But what do we have in common?

It's the sort of experience that could only happen at the gaming table; you'll never see the scene replayed in a fantasy novel. For me, that makes it special-- one of my favourite moments of my DMing career.


15. Dungeon of the Vampire Lord, Part One

Our heroes-- Jarmangle, Feer, Tyne, Robyn, Hanoonk, and Irving-- ventured into the dungeon beneath the merman prison. Discovering an illusory wall in the sleeping chamber of the mummies, they began working their way through a confusing labyrinth of traps and obstacles.

Along the way, they fought some more mummies-- Hanoonk, Irving, and Robyn contracted the dreaded mummy rot despite their best efforts-- and found themselves face-to-face with the Cult of the Cloth. Said cult appeared to be working for the vampire who the troll Ugblar said lived within the dungeon. They had kidnapped at least three virgins hailing from the Bell of Harvest, apparently to feed the vampire.

Our heroes eked out a slight victory over the cultists, and rescued one of the virgins, Leesa. Another they discovered already dead, and hooked up to a strange blood-draining machine, with pipes bearing the blood deeper into the labyrinth. Leesa said that the cultists took her sister to see "the mistress"-- likely the vampire.

Bruised and battered, our heroes returned to the surface, promising Leesa that they would venture back and rescue her sister from the vampire's clutches.

They rested that night in the abandoned fort. Irving managed to shrug off the mummy rot, and Feer, with her knowledge of the healing arts, was able to cure Robyn of hers. Poor Hanoonk, however, remained stricken with the disease.