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Chapter 1 - The Adventure Begins!

As the various people are questioned, and either selected or dismissed. Damien listens as the requirements are laid out and he makes a few decisions.Damien moves to one of the highlords guards "What of my horse, it is an elven war horse, and needs special care. I do not see how I will be able to take him with me. Can he be cared for here?"

"Yes sir elf, the horse can be cared for in the stables at the Free Lords castle. Is there anything else that you require?"

Damien thinks for a moment, "Yes, will the free lord be supplying us with anything, like healing potions, or supplies. It sounds like a very dangerous place that we are to travel to."

The man pauses, excuses himself and disappears for a moment, then returns "Please follow me."

After climbing a flight of stairs from the main hall of the Keep, Damien is escorted into the Free Lord's chamber.

The room is lavishly furnished. The Free Lord of Greyhawk stands before Damien, She is resplendent in her full plate mail - shining with the lustre of magic. Her long red hair is a contrast to the order of her armour. Next to her in the shadows stands the Free Lord's sorceress, the Incantatrix. "Welcome, master elf", the Free Lord states, "I apologize for my appearance but I have not had the opportunity to change since returning from a patrol of the Caves."

"Well met, lady. I am Damien, and I have been selected to help with the problem with the slavers. I have a few questions though, if I may. Are there any supplies that you can provide, such as healing potions, Also I would like to know if a coin can be enchanted with a continual light enchantment. I think that without my horse, a lantern and oil will be a bit cumbersome."

She listens to Damien's questions, then states "We are many, many miles overland from the City of Greyhawk who supply us. Such little magic as we have, we need here - especially that of potions of healing. Regarding the coin, I believe that can be arranged. Have you a silver coin?"

Damien passes a silver coin to the Free Lord, which she gives to the Incantatrix. The Incantatrix utters some words of magic and the coin shines light out brightly, reflecting against the Free Lord's plate. Then she passes the coin back. Damien tucks it away in a beltpouch and pulls the string tight, sealing the magic away.

Damien bows to the Free Lord and the Incantatrix "May Silvanus's blessings be upon you both."

The guard escorts damien back downstairs, and he proceeds to his horse. Damien takes several moments, and rearranges many things, taking a backpack from his horse he hooks two full waterskins on it, then takes a large coil of silken elven rope and slips it into the backpack. After a moment, he is done. He removes the saddle, and brushes down the horse, passing it a few carrots, and some salt. He speaks with the horse as he is doing this. Once he is ready he passes the saddle into the hands of a stable boy, and the stable boy takes the saddle and the horse and walks off towards the stables.

Damien watches for a moment, then shoulders the backpack, and moves back to the assembling group and waits for the Incantatrix to work her transport spell.

Turn 1

A burst of light and a faint tingling sensation are all you feel as the transportation spell cast by the Free Lord's Incantatrix takes effect. As your eyes adjust from the brightly lit hall in which you were standing to the light provided by the late afternoon sun, you notice that you are on the outskirts of a ruined city - a city that must be Highport. Highport was once a human city, but the land and town have been overrun by humanoids - orcs, goblins, kobolds, ogres and gnolls. Looted, burned, and ill-kept, the city has become a base for human outcasts wishing to deal with these unsavoury creatures. The Free Lord considered it too much of a risk for your group to ride overland to Highport, as the first party did three months ago, and thus decreed that the Incantratrix would send you via thepaths of aether.

You have been delivered to a spot outside the walls of a ruined temple compound. Although the interior appears to be gutted and burnt, the walls and some attached outbuildings still appear to be solid and habitable. The walls are constructed of large blocks of stone, closely fitted together. The temple itself is located on the edge of the city and most of the buildings around it have been destroyed. The spot you stand in is shielded from detection from the city bysome low overhanging cliffs.

More importantly, the spot you stand in is before a secret entrance at the back of the temple. This entrance was described to the Free Lord by one Rogar, an escaped slave. Though ruined and not used by the slavers, Rogar claims it is still a possible means of egress into the temple. Leading down from the ruined entrance is a 10' long passage, at the end of which is what is obviously the back of a secret door. Constructed to look as if it were part of the wall to those on the other side, no attempt has been made to disguise the presence of the door from this side. Light from the other side faintly outlines the door and there is a handle to pull the door open.

Many, many adventurers came forward to do the Free Lord's bidding, but only 8 were chosen this time. You stand in a circle, surrounded by cliffs and the temple, having had no more than a formal introductionto each other.

Closest to the ruined entrance is a male dwarf around four feet tall; his light brown hair tied back in a pony tail and his beard a mangled mess of knots and grey dust. He wears a brown tunic covered in dust and stone chips, and numerous tools and brushes hang from him. In his hands is a hand-sized chunk of granite, starting to take on a faintly humanoid shape. With a brief smile, the dwarf places the stone in his backpack and cheerily declares "Well, shall we be off? There are sights to see and places to experience!"

Next, clockwise from the dwarf, is a deeply tanned female human with dark hair and eyes and wearing long robes. She is around five and half feet tall, petite, and her age appears to be just short of two decades. She carries a backpack and a dagger strapped to her hip. Her expression is uncertain, but there is a hintof resolve in her eyes.

Next is a male wood elf, dressed in a suit of studded leather armour under a weather brown cloak. His dark hair and pale green eyes seem out of place in this urban ruin, being better suited to the deep forest. Perhaps more heavily muscled than would be expected of an elf, he carries a pair of finely crafted shortswords at his waist and a long bow and quiverare strapped to his back.

A greater contrast could not be found next over from the elf. Standing 3 feet and six inches, there is a small, weak looking male gnome, with elegant rapier and main-gauche strapped to his hips. His clothing could be that of any adventurer from here to the Azure Sea, but his expression is that of someone used to being in situations such as this. He is looking around, absorbing every detail.

Clockwise from the gnome is another male wood elf. This one has sandy brown hair and deep green eyes. His clothing and armour speak of one who is comfortable with the ways of nature, but interestingly, he carries a large wooden quarterstaff which has a bronze ring at each end. His expressionis wary and reserved.

Next is a male human, standing some 6 feet. He wears studded leather armour and has brown hair and blue, steely eyes. He carries both shield and a large curved sword, though it could be surmised he is as comfortable without them as he is with. His expression is unreadable, though he too is observing the others and the surrounds.

Next, towering over the group at around six and half feet, is another human male. He is young and of slim build; his long red hair looking about as easy to control as a raging inferno. He covers himself in a rusty brown robe, with two large pouches hanging from his tie rope, as well as a rolled up blanket slung over his shoulder, like a quiver, so as not to be in his way. No visible weapons are on him except the staff he seems to be using as a walking stick, which looks like someone is in the process of carving a silver dragon into the first 4" of the staff. He is forever observant, his eyes never stop moving, flashing obviously in his eyes is the look ofconstant curiosity.

Finally, clockwise from the red-haired human and standing next to the dwarf, is an male moon elf. He is almost as tall as the red-haired human, but his slim and wiry build suggests a warrior's balance and training. His dark hair and green eyes stare out at you from a forest green cloak. The most striking feature of the elf is a very tall bow, almost six foot itself, slung over his left shoulder. The bow appears to be a crafted combination of ivory and wood, and has runes carved along its length.

The dwarf's words echo in your ears. The door awaits...

Turn 2

As everyone stares silently at each other, the elf with a pair of short swords quietly speaks up in oddly accented common, "Greetings. As we have been... thrown together with no preparation we should make introductions and make note of each others skills." After a pause he continues, "My name is Tyrmar. I have spent the last twenty years guarding my home as a ranger, defending my people from the depredation's of various raiders, not to mention the orcs who used to be in the area." As he mentions orcs, you can see his hands clench as if holding the hilt of a sword, it is clear that Tyrmar bears a deep hatred against orcs. "With the area cleared I was no longer needed there so I volunteered to join this expedition. I will use my skills with sword and bow, as well my knowledge of forest to make our mission a success."

Tyrmar looks expectantly around the group for the next person to speak up.

After hearing Tyrmar's introduction, the human with the studded leather armor and shield steps forward, "Yes, introductions need to be made all around. We will need to know each other's strengths and weaknesses if we hope to survive.

"In any case, I guess that I will be the next. My name is Dainn Giantbane." Thinking that some of those gathered might have heard of his family name, he unconsciously runs his fingers over the pattern of the Giantbane family insignia of a griffin clutching a strange weapon that is on his armor. He continues his story, "My mother wanted me to follow in my father's footsteps - as my brothers have done before he disappeared on some special quest - and learn the art of warfare, and take my place in the family as a cavalier. However, I did not feel that was my calling. I was finally able to convince her to let me study psionics - which is what I have done for roughly the past fifteen years under the court psionicist Avis Redmarch.

"Avis has spent many years helping me harness my mental energies. Just recently, he declared that he can guide me no more, and that I must learn things for myself. Thinking that this expedition might be away for me to learn more about myself and the world, I volunteered. I must admit that my skill with the blade is a lacking, but I generally rely on mentalattacks to defend myself.

"To date, no Giantbane has willingly run from a challenge or failed to serve his lord to the best of his abilities, and I do not plan on being the first.

I plan on succeeding on this quest or die trying." Looking around, Dainn looks to see who will be nextto speak up.

The quarterstaff-bearing wood elf nods at Dainn as the human finishes speaking, then begins his ownintroduction, "Well met. I am Malikor Sheh and am a Warden of the Sacred Grove." At this he unconsciously reaches up to touch the carved ivory brooch that adorns his cloak. "I have spent my life guarding the forest my people have called home since my forefathers first walked these lands. We are a peaceful folk, preferring to remain outside of the activities of others."

As Malikor continues, his stern countenance takes on a pained look. "Not long ago, my homeland was subject to a viscous attack. Though we drove off the marauders we have lost much that cannot be replaced...I am not here for adventure, glory or gold. I seek that are most dear to me and were takenby the invaders: my sons." Regaining his stern composure, the elf warrior proceeds, "I do not know if I will find them here. I have followed many leads to dead ends in my search, but I have hope. Whatever we may find, I will lend my strength to yours, so that this scourge will be ended forever! If, by weapon, skill or life, I can aid you-- by my honor, I will."

Looking at each of the others in the eye, Malikor falls silent, waiting for the rest of the introductions to begin...

When it comes to his turn, the tall moon elf with the ivory bow steps forward and nods to the group in general. "My name is Damien Silverleaf, of the Borderguard Clans, also known as Farslayer, for my accuracy with the bow. I have been shooting a bow since I was a child, I am also good with these longswords."

Damien shifts his cloak and turns slightly to reveal two Elven long swords in scabbards strapped across his back, then lets the cloak drop back. "I was trained as a ranger by my parents, I can track, and I am adept a tracking, I can also befriend, and train a variety of animals." Damien reaches into a pouch, and pulls out a pair of small figurines, lions carved on jade, and looks at Malikor "I detest slavers, I have not had a personal experience with it in my life, thanks to the power of Silvanus" Damien briefly touches a holy symbol hanging around his neck "But All of my skills will be used to return your sons to you, this I swear. These are magical, and were given to me by my father, they can summon real lions, to aid me in battle. So that they do not startle anyone, I am telling you all of them now."

Damien strings the long bow, and pulls an arrow from his pack and lays it across the string, but does not draw the bow. "I shall make sure that this area is secure" Damien moves a few feet to the corner of the building and peers around the corner, scanning the nearby areas. Then looks back at the others...

As the group gathers together the dwarf moves over to the side of the building and runs his hands along the stone. He nods his head as he runs his fingers along the joints and takes out a belt knife and pries at the joint slightly. With a final "hrumph" he resheaths his knife and turns his attention back to the group. As Damien finishes introducing himself the dwarf steps forward and clears his throat. "I am Khoron Graendig, a priest of Moradin the Soulforger."

Khoron looks to Dainn and says, "You have a noble name, Giantbane, I hope you can live up to such a title." He in turn nods his head in the direction of the elves, "Hail noble elves, I am glad to have your kind's fabled knowledge of bow and wood on my side. May Moradin bless you. As to my skills, well you could say that I follow the dwarven path of the stone. Moradin has blessed me with the gift to carve stone with my hands, and I have a superior knowledge of building and crafting things from stone, but I am sure that you are all concerned with other things.

I would not worry much about me, I can protect myself either with my hands or with the power of Moradin."

The tall red haired human. Stands and listens to each introduction. As the person introduces themself he eyes roam over their whole body and equipment.

Stopping for a minute on each magical item that carry. When everyone looks to him, he clears his throat. "My name is Circe, no honor or recognition with my name, at least not yet." He flips his hair behind his head and continues, " I'm here because of the ancient magics that have been looted from villages, I would like to see and feel them." Again he flips his hair behind him. " Saving some innocents is the icing on the cake so to speak." As he tries to stick his hair under his blanket he looks at everyone. "Someday I hope you all will tell me where you got such wonderful toys."

As the introductions are made around the group, you notice the Gnome scribbling frantically in a leather bound book about the size of a journal. He looks up suddenly then blushes "Terribly sorry everyone. I didn't realise that the introductions had gotten to me. Kilroy McHauven at your service. Bard and generalwanderer."

You notice a small but well maintained lute strapped on his back. He is dressed in clean but well mended clothing of an unobvious nature. The gnome wanders casually over to each of the party and tries to shake hands in a friendly manner. When he gets to Circe he quietly whispers to the tall fellow that the time for his honour and recognition is at hand.

Once all the introductions are out of the way, Damien turns to the group from his position several yards away, careful to keep his bow low, and facing away from the assembled group, and speaks "Since we have not worked together before, we should decide on a position to take when moving. Since we will be in a city environment, I believe my skills with the bow, would be best suited to a position in the center of our group, so that I can equally defend anyoneengaged in battle."

After hearing Damien's mention of 'marching order', Dainn speaks his mind, "I agree that we should decide now as to how we are going to move through the city. There are going to be plenty of low-life scum there from what I have been told. I think that my place might be a little closer to the center of the group as well, but I do not mind being in a position to get into the action if needed. My skill with the blade is only fair, and I will primarily use the power of mymind in most situations.

"I think that Kilroy should take point at this time. I've seen many a bard that was able to fast talk his way out of a bad situation. In any case, I say that we have one that is skilled with the blade close to the front and one in the rear to guard our flank."

Looking around, he adds, "How does this sound to the rest of you? Does anyone else have any other suggestions?"

Uncomfortable with remaining out in the open for even a short amount of time, Malikor's eyes scan the groups' surroundings as they begin to discuss their order of entry into the temple ruins.

Addressing the group, Malikor looks meaningfully at Tyrmar and suggests, "Perhaps it might be best to let the silent steps of a pair of elven warriors lead the way. Unless there be one amongst us one who is adept at finding hidden dangers, our keen sight may act asearly warning for all."

Khoron slaps his armoured chest with his ornate gauntlets and his banded mail replies with a solid thud. "Even though I do not go looking for fights many fights have come looking for me over the past few years. I can defend myself and I think I would fit in well at the rear of the party." With those words Khoron reaches back and unstraps his two handed warhammer and leans it on his left shoulder. "I have also found that if a human is tall enough he can fight over my shoulders so maybe we can place one of the larger blades or maybe one of the archers behindme."

Dainn says, "Actually, the reason that I suggested Kilroy to take point is because the bards that I have known are able to sense some things better than most others. They can also travel more freely than others. Most everyone likes a bard." Looking towards Circe and the female. "There are two among us that really haven't told us anything about their talents. Should one that is talented with detecting traps and such be in this group, of course he or she is the best choice to takepoint."

Focusing his attention on Malikor, he adds, "I understand your concerns about having the best advanced warning, but I personally think that Kilroy will be more in his element in the city. Should we be in the forest, you - or one of the rangers - would probably be the most logical person to take point atthat time. "I do believe that Tyrmar and/or yourself would probably be a good choices to follow the one that takes point. If that is all right with you both. Your 'keen sight' could pick up anything that was missedby our scout."

"Should there be no objections, Damien and I will be in the center to support attacks from the front and rear. Khoron has mentioned that he is willing to guard our flanks and follow last. Where does every one else want to be?

Tyrmar smiles slightly and replies, "While that would be a good idea in the forest, I believe that others may be better suited to lead the group through cities and buildings."

Damien moves closer to the group, and the door.. "Dainn you speak true, a quick tongue may well serve to provide the moment we need should it come to an attack." Damien then looks towards Kilroy "Do your skills encompass the knowledge of locks and traps. If so, I to would support you as the person to lead thisgroup into town."

Then Damien turns his gaze on the dwarf Khoron "I have never fought beside a dwarf before, it will be an experience, that I hope to learn a great deal from"

Khoron chuckles deeply and lowers the head of his warhammer, rests it upon the ground and leans on the shaft. "Well lad I'm not what you would call a dwarven warrior but I am willing to teach you the little that I learned from the followers of Clangeddin Silverbeard at the Citadel." You notice that as he leans on the shaft of his warhammer that his gauntlets seem to glint slightly, as though the metal is of an infinitely superior quality to that ofthe warhammer.

Malikor nods in silent approval at the wisdom in Dainn's words. The elf's gaze shifts to the human woman as he tries to read something of her nature in her appearance. His contact with her race has been limited, and he finds her silence both unusual and a bit disturbing. Malikor's eagerness to get on the way is signalled by the way his hands are wringing the middle of his quarterstaff.

Circe looks around at everyone. "Well I'm not very strong, but if we have the element of surprise I can be pretty deadly, in front." He looks around at the shorter companions that may be taking point . "From the middle I can still be deadly if you don't mind lights streaking over your head."

As the group discusses the order of march, Kilroy busy's himself tuning his lute. The soft hum of vibrating strings fills the air and a quiet tune starts. It is a haunting melody familiar yet alien. As the group deceide to put Kilroy in the lead themusic falters then stops. "Ar, Um, Well I suppose that I could be of some benefit in the lead. Yes that's it. A truely splendid positioning for me." He pauses to think fora moment then continues.

"I do not, unfortunately, have any skills that would enable me to pick locks and traps but I certainly can" (this with a smile to Dainn) "talk fast. It seems to be an ability all of my race have inherited. I also have a couple of spells that could come in useful. My martial arts are, sadly, lacking. I just don't have the physicqe for fighting. Finally" (this with a look that slowly pivots around the group) "bards are common everywhere. From the highest palaces to the lowliest slums my profession are welcomed as entertainers and teachers by all." He again strums the strings of his lute and gazes around the companions "But who will accompany me in the lead?"

At Kilroy's question, Malikor walks to the temple door, turns to face the bard and says, "I will walk by your side, friend, and should we meet with any trouble I will not leave you to face it alone."

Damien moves up to stand beside Circe "I too am ready, let us enter this place, and secure a safespot to explore from."

Turn 3

While the introductions continue, Damien moves a few feet to the corner of the building and peers around the corner, scanning the nearby areas. He sees the side of the temple stretching back into the ruined city; far towards the other end, it appears that a small shoddy wooden building has been attached to the temple. A figure, man-shaped, stands outside the little building. While not quite dark yet, there isn't enough light for Damien to say whether it is a man or orc (and the distance is too far for hisinfravision).

Damien returns to the group. When there is a lull in conversation, he tells all of you what he saw.

While discussing marching order, Malikor scans the surroundings. He notes that some of the old faded markings on the temple bear a similarity to the symbols of good and virtue used in the Sacred Grove. This was obviously a temple of good, corrupted to evil.

The human female does not say anything.

In the end, you agree upon the following marching order: Kilroy and Malikor (side by side), Circe, Dainn and Damien (side by side), Tyrmar, and Khoron. The human female moves to stand between Khoron and Tyrmar. [Poor Kilroy, being volunteered! I loved Geoff's comment though; a splendid positioning indeed!]

The group moves down the passage and into the temple complex.

As Kilroy and Malikor reach the door, they search for any signs of danger. Finding none, Kilroy grabs the handle and pulls the door back. A spiked bar of metal springs forward with great force through the door frame, some 4' feet off the ground. It passes a few inches over Kilroy's head, but strikes Malikor directly on the chest. He collapses to the ground, winded by the blow. A trickle of blood can be seen coming through his vest.

The spiked bar has inflicted a nasty wound.

Kilroy and Circe help Malikor back onto his feet.

The party moves inside the temple and it can be seen that the inner passage appears to have been in a great fire once. The walls originally beamed and plastered are now scorched and sooty. Small burnt sections show the beams and stone behind them. The walls are 10' high and large sections of plaster have fallen from the ceiling, sometimes showing the sky above. None of these openings are big enough for evena gnome to fit through.

The twilight is fading; several of you light torchesand lanterns.

At the end of the passageway is a t-junction. To the right, a passageway leads to a bricked up room. Further investigation shows the room is burnt and partially destroyed, much like others throughout the temple. The floor is crowded with debris and movement is difficult. Sagging and collapsed as it is, the ceiling appears to be sound. The east wall is different from the others. It shows signs of recent construction and upkeep as it is patched in several places. On the whole, this wall appears to be stoutlybuilt.

You each spend a few moments pawing through the debris but finding nothing (and sensing nothing to find), you return to the t-junction and head down the left passage. After about twenty feet from the t-junction, the passage turns right.

Continuing down into the temple for another five minutes, the party eventually comes to a wooden door. It is charred with several boards missing and other planks obviously weakened. The handles, hinges, and other metal fittings are half-melted, soundly jamming the door shut.

The room beyond, as seen through the holes, is severely burnt, its furnishings buried and ruined beyond recognition. The ceiling has collapsed for the most part, revealing another chamber on the second floor. About 5' of the ceiling still remains around the walls of the room, forming a narrow jagged ledge. The floor is littered with beams, plaster and unknown pieces of junk.

You can feel the air flowing through the holes in the door; it stinks with the odor (odour?) of rot. The swollen door blocks your further egress into the temple.

As Damien takes up position next to Dainn and Circe, he turns to Dainn. "Giantbane ... that name is familiar to me. Your family has slain giants in the northern reaches and near to my homeland from time to time. It is a good name, and it honors me to fightbeside you."

Damien turns to the others, "This place is probably well guarded, let us all be on our guard." Damien follows Kilroy and Malikor into the tunnel, and watches as they open the door. Malikor is struck and knocked down. Damien pulls the bowstring taut and searches the revealed room for any signs of activity, when nothing is revealed he releases the pull on thestring.

Malikor gets back to his feet and the group continues. "It is fairly dark in here, I have a continual light source, but it may shed too much light, does anyone have a lantern?"

Damien will pass the light coin to someone if they ask for it, but will make sure to get it back, onceit is no longer needed.

After several more minutes of exploration Kilroy and Malikor lead the group to a passage blocked by awarped doorway.

"Well, we have come as far as we can here" Damien states quietly, as he steps forward and peers through the clats and boards into the room beyond. Damien turns back to the others, "We can pull the door apart I think, but it would make considerable noise."

Damien waits for the others to respond..

After Damien tells the group about the figure near the wooden building, Dainn goes to get a peek for himself. Taking a good hard look at the figure, Dainn tries to burn the image into his mind, and he returnsto the group.

[In reply to Damien's statement] Dainn states: "Yes, the name is well known, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. That was most likely my father that slew the giants near your homeland - long before he disappeared. If you would like, I will tell some of the stories of him that my mother told me at alater time."

After entering the temple, Dainn says to the others, "Let me try something. I'm curious about that figure that Damien found, and I'm going to see what I can find out". Putting his hands up to his head, he concentrates on the figure that he saw - the strain is noticeable in his features. After learning what he can, he tells the others what he found out.

Visibly relaxing from the exertion of his using psionics, Dainn tells the others what he found out, "Damien, that figure you saw outside earlier was an orc. I tried to read the thoughts that was on the surface of its mind. I am not very fluent in orcish, but I was able to understand two words - 'holguz' which means horse, and 'bhgot' which means guard(s).

That is all that I was able to read. Maybe if I had a bit more experience I would have been able to learn more. In any case, I think that we should treat this building as an orc encampment until we find out otherwise. There are no telling how many orcs are in here."

After the initial shock of the spiked bar striking Malikor, Dainn asks, "Malikor, do we need to stop and bind your wound?"

As Damien takes out his glowing coin (and possibly passes it to someone else), Dainn takes out one of his torches and lights it, "If someone else wants the coin, that is ok. I will use a torch for a while to provide more light."

After inspecting the wooden door, Dainn says, "I too think that the door could possibly be forced open. We had best be very careful. This could easily be a trap. Does anyone have any other ideas?"

The jammed doorway confounds Kilroy for a time. After a time he suddenly exclaims "I've got it! How about a small spell to move this confounded monstrosity. Any objections?" He looks about the group for approval.

Hearing Kilroy mention using a spell to get past the door, Dainn asks, "What type of spell did you have in mind?"

Cyvara recoils towards the ground when the bar swings down and strikes Malikor. Seeing that he's well enough for the group to proceed, she falls in line and enters the temple, looking about curiously but carefully as the group moves down the corridors. At the swollen door, Cyvara pipes up, stating simply, "I can open the door, if you like." (She waits to see what reaction there is to her suggestion.)

Circe cringes when Malikor is hit with the iron bar. He measures himself to Malikor and under his breath, he whispers "If that had been me, it would have wentright through my stomach".

After searching the rooms, the plaster room nagging on his thoughs, Circe enters the hall with the welded door. When hearing of magic being used to open it, he hops to the front, to watch this spectacle. As well as aid if anything happens to be in the other roomunder the debris.

At Kilroy's and Cyvara's suggestion of a spell toopen the door, Damien stands back away from the door, and pulls his bow string taut aiming it at the opening "I am ready, if no one else has a better idea, I say wego with the wizards."

Cyvara gets a funny look on her face at Damien's use of the term "wizards", but soon puts it behind her. She turns to Kilroy and asks, "should I?" She pushes back her sleeves and raises her delicate,long-fingered hands...

[After Malikor is struck by the bar] The wind knocked out of him, Malikor lies helplessly on his back for a moment. Soon he lets out an anguished gasp as the air rushes back into his lungs.

As Circe and Kilroy help him stagger to his feet, he nods in gratitude to the human. Then, with one hand on his wound, Malikor places his other hand on the shoulder of the gnome. "Remind me, friend, to stand to the side when next you open . . . anything."

The elf warrior briefly checks his chest to assess the damage. At Dainn's questioning, Malikor shakes his head and says, "No, thank you, I can go on." With only the briefest grimace showing his discomfort, he reaches down, picks up his staff and enters the temple side-by-side with the bard.

[At the "collapsed room"] Peering through the ruined door, Malikor's nose wrinkles slightly as the smell of rot assaults his senses. As he is considering what the many possible sources such a stench could emanate from, he overhears Kilroy, Circe and Cyvara discussing the use of magic as a means to open the door. Glancing over his shoulder, the wood elf sees the woman facing his direction and raising her hands. Malikor beats a hasty retreat.

Behind the practitioners of arcane lore, that is.

Malikor then takes a position beside the wall to allow Damien a clear shot at any target he may spy within the room. Tightening his grip on his staff, Malikor prepares to leap after the arrows of hiskinsman, and into combat...

As Cyvara lifts her hands Khoron surges to the front of the line. "What is this hastiness, wait a moment before you jump in with both feet and see that the stone is mud." Khoron motions for her to stop her spell casting as he moves forward to inspect the walls around the door. "I want to check and see whether this whole wall will collapse if we remove the support of the door." The dwarf feels around the door and pulls at the stone with his gauntlets on. "I think it should hold if the door is opened or knocked out. I'm not sure what you are going to do but before we go any further I want to get a look at that wound there lad." Khoron walks over to Malikor and pulls up his jerkin, swatting away any protests that are to be had. "Hmm, I think I can handle this, now hold still." The dwarven priest says a few words that remind you of grinding rocks and Malikor feels his hand go cold and a sudden freshness comes over him.

"Ahh the touch of Moradin always makes my heart race, even after all these years. I hope that's better lad. Now go ahead and open that door if you can, lass,we'll be ready to back you up."

[During Khoron's healing spell] In all the years of his life (roughly that of three LONG, consecutive human lifespans) Malikor had never met a dwarf. His knowledge of that hearty race stemmed only from the folklore of his tribe (which is unflattering at best), and a handful of disturbing tales from his eldest, most travelled kinsmen. As a result, Malikor found Khoron's presence in the party rather disquieting, and made a quick mental note towatch for any treachery.

After removing himself from the spell-casters' line of fire, Malikor found himself suddenly face-to-face with the dwarf. And to make matters worse, the dwarf was actually lifting his jerkin to get at his wound.

The AUDACITY! What trickery was the dwarf playing, and why was he doing it openly for all to see? Malikor made to push the dwarf away, quickly discovering that pushing a determined dwarf is akin to moving a small boulder.

As Khoron began chanting, Malikor felt the dwarf's rough touch take on an icy chill. As a guardian of the Sacred Grove, the elf warrior was no stranger to the workings of godly magic. He had seen the Druids practice their craft countless times, and surely, this dwarf was attempting to cause him harm through similar means! Malikor clutched the dagger strapped to his thigh. The dwarf would find it hard to practice his malice with a blade buried in his throat!

Yet the elf's strike was halted as a sudden feeling of relief flooded over him. The stabbing pain in his chest from his recent wound was washed away. As the dwarf removed his hand, Malikor quietly slid the dagger back into its sheath. So surprised by the unexpected outcome, the wary elf did not hear the dwarf's ensuing remark of kindness.

[After the incident] Malikor looks questioningly at Tyrmar and Damien to see their reactions to Khoron's benign action. He then resumes his stance of preparedness for whatever happens upon the opening of the door. The elf casts a quick, appreciative glance at Khoron as the dwarf tells Cyvara to proceed with her spell-casting. It is obvious he has some considering to do about the true natures of other races, and the dated lore of hisxenophobic people...

Tyrmar showed little reaction besides approval for the dwarf healing an elf.

As the spellcasters prepare to cast their spells at the door, Tyrmar makes no objection, but does cautiously move back a little, standing ready with his hands on the hilts of his swords, eyes watchfully scanning the area.

Having been given the "go-ahead", Cyvara takes position in front of the door, several yards away from it. Apparently a little unnerved that everyone's watching her, she closes her eyes and begins her casting ritual -- her fingers weaving a delicate dance before her.

Chapter 2