Aldrine 16, 1069
We have made progress on our quest to obtain the black opal. Via a combination of teleportation and the conjuration of phantom steeds, we now find ourselves in a forest northeast of the city of Orfort far beyond the borders of Celedon. The lair of the dragon is rumored to be close, though the exact location of it is not yet known to us.
Joseph, I believe, would be glad to know that the party I have joined is as noble and courageous as any of legend. It was proven today in a vicious battle with a band of ettins.
Common folk whom we encountered in the cities and towns along the way to the dragon’s lair told of a band of two-headed giants that had been terrorizing the area for some time. Upon learning this, the party decided without hesitation that they would see this menace ended.
We approached cautiously and as prepared as we thought prudent. Safe in our extradimensional mansion high above the marauding giants, our sorcerer cast invisibility and flight on each of us, and we all used whatever other magics and tools we had available to us to aid us in our fight. Once ready, we descended upon the group of ettins who scattered in terror at the force that had appeared so unexpectedly.
However, our planning could not fully prepare us for the sheer power of the leader. The enormous ettin leader of the band was a champion of some dark power who had been corrupted. Fiendish wings protruded from its back and it gripped large, unholy weapons in clawed hands attached to arms as thick as tree trunks. Two massive heads held eyes that gleamed with malevolence and an intelligence that betrayed its ettin heritage.
What unfolded was a true battle between light and dark as our party engaged the mighty foe. The paladin Serena, filled with righteous wrath, charged. Khidaj and Gintare, too, entered the fray while I conjured a gargantuan dire crocodile that tore huge chunks of flesh from any ettin unlucky enough to find itself within reach. From afar, Suman tapped into his sorcerous power and rained destruction on any and all while Morgan stood in the wings, ready in an instant to lend aid to her companions.
Lesser ettins fell to sword stroke and arcane power alike, but the shrewd captain of the ettins, caught off guard by the heroes’ charge, retreated a short distance and consumed a potion, instantly becoming invisible. Inspired to cut off the escape of the leader, Morgan asked her diety for a minor blessing that would purge invisibility effects around her and swiftly flew in the direction the chieftain had retreated. The creature became visible and the party rounded on him, sensing that the other ettins were now contained by the enourmous reptilian beast, who had by now, managed to swallow a number of ettins whole.
The chieftain, realizing his ruse had failed him, returned to his greatest strength, his sword-arm and in a fury, lashed out at any hero that came too near. Blow after demolishing blow landed upon ranger, paladin and fighter as they fought to send the ettin to his death, but as the battle progressed, it was my companions that were suffering the greatest injuries.
Seeing this, I tried ineffectually to disable the creature, to slow it, to trap it… Nothing worked. The unholy protections the leader’s patron had bestowed upon it thwarted my futile attempts to stymie the carnage. My companion’s blows, though vicious and capable of felling most foes in a single strike, were answered by even more powerful reprisals from the fiend.
The mid-air battle between good and evil continued as ally after ally fell only to stand again and continue the fight. If not for the healing power of our cleric ally, Morgan, our party would have certainly suffered casualties. Slowly they chipped away at the creature’s defenses as the champions traded blows, while the sorcerer pummeled the fiend with magic. Blood flowed freely on either side of the struggle and, in the end, it was the divine strength of the paladin that lent our fighter the power necessary to deal the final blow.
Gravely injured, Serena whispered a prayer to her god, and Taryn, he of righteous power and justice answered, infusing Gintare’s sword with his will! The bold female warrior skillfully sliced her short sword at the creature in an upward motion, tearing through the ettin in an earth-shattering blow that exposed the back muscles to sever the spine. The half-demon crumpled into a twitching mass of tattered flesh and black, steaming blood as the party lifted their swords, crying out in triumph.
Hissoryth is defeated.
We were able to ascertain the location of his lair, the roots of a giant tree located in the center of a vast swamp to the northeast of Orfort, and made our assault on the evil dragon.
We made our approach, having cast the spells we thought would best aid us in our battle, and were assaulted by a large group of vile boggards. The creatures fell easily to sword and spell alike, but it was the latter, that truly decimated the horde. Suman, filled to bursting with arcane power, unleashed wave after wave of destructive magic, leaving dead boggards whose burning corpses would have surely filled the sky with smoke, were it not for the watery graves that claimed them.
The dragon itself did not appear for some time, likely gauging our power, by observing our method of attack. A sound strategy, but his calculations clearly failed, for in the end, our party claimed his life.
The battle with the dragon took place entirely beneath the surface of the swamp. For a time, the trickery of an illusion spell masked his presence, but our party eventually encountered him as we explored the roots of the tree. Pools of acid and vicious claw and bites were his weapons and he wielded them without reprisal, while his defensive spells held. The sorcerer and I were quick to dispel those effects, which enabled our fighters to land blows.
Our fight was not flawless, however. Members of my party fell to the might of the beast, but with our powerful cleric ally nearby, death could not hold them and the beast was forced to flee beneath the relentless onslaught. It sought to find refuge within it’s sanctuary, but our group pressed the attack and finished it off, leaving it dead amongst its vast collection of treasure – and the black opal.
We’ve spent the last several days in relative safety with Bren. During this time we have concentrated our efforts on finding out more about the gems and the Crown of Storms itself.
Morgan’s connection to her diety has, again, proven invaluable. Though the information we obtained is not precise, we have learned that the crown was created by Helios and is not inherently evil in nature. Additionally, when whole, the crown is able to project several magical abilities simultaneously, similar to a prismatic spray spell. The effects of these are as yet unknown, but each of the gems is linked to one of the primary schools of magic and each effect corresponds to these and only with the crown will the power to harness these abilities truly be within our reach.
Curious to know more, I have begun experimenting with the black opal, which as we all suspected, is linked to the school of necromancy. I have managed to learn little, despite my greatest efforts. The opal becomes warm to the touch when held and seems to pulse with what I can only describe as a reflection of my own life force. Indeed, the pulsating rhythm of the gem seems linked to that of my own heart – very strange. I will continue my studies. I believe that given enough time, I will learn to unlock more of its potential.
It is my hope that the knowledge does not come too late. Powerful forces are at work in the world today and I believe that our success in overcoming the evil that we all feel is bound to our knowledge of the workings of this artifact.