The last post I made about D&D was quite a while ago, and we have covered much ground since then. Literally and figuratively.
Skullcrusher Mountain was mostly a success, though Matthias was a huge detriment to our performance. I managed to only have to make one bluff check (to convince the audience the nonsense I was spewing was, in fact, the real line) and passed. Also, a female mountain giant in the audience was so impressed by my singing (I got the highest score out of the whole group) that she threw someone at the stage.
I'm assuming it was meant as a compliment.
From there, we used the audience as fuel for a ritual that opened a portal to the other side of the wall. So much for a continuing fanbase. It was about a week's trek to the Eastern Pillar from there, where we immediately noticed something amiss. Normally a pristine and blindingly pure white, this Pillar was being consumed by an ugly blackness that writhed and moved kind of like the pink slime from the Ghostbusters 2 movie. Not a party to be deterred by something that is potentially deadly, we made our way inside.
The inside was literally crawling with this stuff. Eris tried to throw something at it, and it merely swallowed the bottle without any other effect. It was dark in there, very dark, and something was wrong with the gravity. And, right there before us, stood a man.
"Grandiose in stature, muscled from ages of combat. His skin is like slate or granite, both to the eye and to the touch, with no discernible face to be had, a ragged and disconnected black hood obscuring all but two ominous glowing eyes." (Bob's description to us during the session)
Here was Xen, the dragon of the Eastern Pillar. He said some awfully mean things to us and disappeared upwards. And, since we really didn't want to get absorbed by the horrible black goo that was reaching for us, we followed.
Now, mechanically, the Pillar was "fantastic terrain," i.e. terrain that is not restrained by normal magical or physical laws. Moving around the pillar was guided by force of will. Concentrate hard enough and you could float straight to the top. We opted not to do that and instead made our way between seemingly frozen chunks of rock and what almost looked like broken bits of building. We finally reached a large stone platform that appeared at one point to have been a city. There were buildings, made of black stone that seemed to have crumbled from age and begun falling. But it was as though this place was locked in time. It was crumbling, but nothing moved or fell, pieces of building merely floating next to the base which they were once part of.
Xen told us then about the taint that was slowly taking over this pillar. On the plate directly below us was a deep pit, reaching farther down than anyone could imagine, and it was full of things. These monsters are spreading, and even Xen does not know how to stop them. And, as he so bluntly put it, if he has no idea what to do, then we're twice as useless. In the mean time, he gives us the location to the next Book Marker, and leaves my comrades and I with a curiosity that cannot be withheld.
Enter Brand. Brand is a paladin from Nibelung, who wants what we want: the Marker locations. After a brief kerfuffle with him, Xen takes over the fight and sends us away, and we head upwards towards a hole in the pillar. On the outside, we find that the only way down is, well, down. Matthias rips off his turban and makes a sort of parachute out of it, and jumps. Eris, being a canny sort of rogue, jumps after him and latches on to his legs. Sel'zanath, not yet being of a level where he is granted wings, just jumps and slides down until he's close enough to the ground for his Winged Armor (a gift from Taelir) to slow his descent safely.
Me? I started climbing down with my barbed gloves (they double as light throwing weapons), but when we notice that the Horrible Black Stuff (tm) is following more rapidly than we'd previously thought, I hastily made a Religion and Diplomacy check to send off a suitable prayer to the god who watched this Pillar. Hephaestus, who is not so much fond of Kivati but is pretty neutral with Frejya (my two gods of choice), said, "Sure, kid, whatever," and created a stairway for me out of fragments of the pillar. I ran very quickly down.
Taelir just fell. But he has a Ring of Slowed Descent, so he didn't die.
We bunked for the night in a crevice at the base of a nearby hill, foraging enough food and wood to keep the night, with some extra wood to make a sort of door at the entrance. Good idea on our part, because the Assasicorn was in the area that night.
What's Assasicorn? In Germaly, there are three wandering fields of sentient corn known as Assasicorn. This corn will lull unwary travelers into a false sense of security, and just when the reach its depths... it strikes. The corn fires off like rockets into the bodies of the unwitting victims, and when the field moves on the next night, nothing is left but bones. Our door kept out the corn, but we still stationed a watch, just in case.
Now we're making the long journey to our next destination, the Burning Isles. This is Matthias' home, and he is very excited to return there. We are currently on a boat there, and all very nervous considering our luck with boats. The first one was sunk by James the Bitchin' Giant Squid, and the second one left port with a bunch of Nibelung soldiers on our tail. Fingers crossed this one makes it to the Isles safely.
"Reality is not for me, and it makes me laugh."