Oh diary, much has transpired since last I had chance to put quill to parchment! In addition to being a misunderstood artificer prodigy, I am now a bonafide adventurer and illicit vendor of artisanal magiccraft! Isn't that marvelous! Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me recount the events as they transpired lest I deprive you of even a single exciting detail.
The journey to Aiwan was without incident. The trip overland passed quickly and I soon found myself staring at the gates of this hardy frontier outpost. I must admit, the city, if I dare call it that, is not without its rugged charms. I have no doubt that spending some time away from the overbearing Guild, with their pesky "regulations," "safety precautions," and "ethics", will allow me to give my research the focus it deserves.
With almost preternatural destiny, I found myself thrust amongst a company of brave and hardy souls seeking to travel beyond the wall into the unexplored hinterlands beyond. They invited me to join, no doubt sensing my innate fascination with the unknown and an untapped potential prowess in battle.
Now, ensconced amidst the embrace of Hindsight, the crystal-lensed spyglass that she is, it strikes me as curious that they welcomed me so quickly, seeking precious little in the way of details around the reasons for my sudden appearance in town or the circumstances of my abrupt departure from my previous place of employ. One could forgive me for being concerned that they might be accustomed to a, how to put this… rapid turnover amongst their number, fearing to grow too attached lest the mighty wilds claim their cheer as well as their companions.
No matter! We will be the best of friends. Oh yes! I can feeeeeel it. We will all feel it. In our bones.
Passing beyond the borders of civilization, our ragtag party soon found ourselves outside a goblin hovel of prodigious size and smell. It reeked of goblin. The tribe's leader, Throk? Thrunk? Grunt? is apparently some sort of goblin mastermind who on a prior occasion, if I understood him correctly, connived the party into committing genocide on his behalf? (Additional details were not immediately forthcoming from my new friends, I'll have to remember to ask them about it later).
Upon entering the catacombs, our party was almost immediately beset upon by a great and furious … Cube-thing. Massive, about the size of eight or nine horses boiled at length down to their constituent particles and forced to recongeal into a regular polyhedron, and as transparent as the muggy air above an open sewer. It was terrifying. Really, it was. Maybe you had to be there. It did almost kill all of us. Well, Oz. It almost killed Oz. The Cube… "cubed" at him with part of its cube-ness, paralyzing the Dwarf. But before further harm could befall the grizzled warrior, Jorven summoned one of her sacrificial hell-hounds to distract the beast (Why one would engage in extensive study so as to magically forge quasi-sentient beasts only to immediately doom them to a painful journey back to discorporate non-existance is beyond my comprehension, but I suspect our dear Jorven may have had an unhappy childhood). Nevertheless, the hell-beast diligently went to its grim fate, halfheartedly blasting the Cube with fire and forthwith absorbed into the monster's translucent squarelyness. (Truth be told, I was a little disappointed that Oz did not take its place; administering Heat Metal upon his armor while inside the Cube would have made for a fascinating experiment.) Oh, and then we killed it (the Cube). (NOTA BENE: the remnants of such monsters may have utility in the cleaning of fine metal instruments. Or maybe a poison, but like for torture. Either way a possible untapped MARKET OPPORTUNITY!!!)
Our next confrontation was with a pair of squirrelly undead folk. I initially assumed them to be a fellow party of lost travelers, but before pleasantries could be exchanged, Rost produced a glowing charm of religious iconography and our erstwhile friends were driven, gibbering and afraid, into the recesses of the feshly-illuminated room. The rest of the party set upon them with gleeful ferocity. This did not strike me as particularly sporting, but Rost's stern, unwavering gaze (his eyes were also glowing, did I mention that?) convinced me to keep my observations to myself. Besides, why spoil everyone else's fun?
The pair resembled goblins in both countenance and stench, but the rest of the party assures me they were most definitely vampires (to be fair, our foes did burst into a dark miasma of shadow and flies that fled of its own volition, a trait not typically associated with goblins (NOTA BENE: Preliminary experimental evidence suggests that such vile vampire-goblin vapor is not damaged by the throwing of currency))
Oh yes, at some point we found some giant magic rocks. They seemed super magic, but Rost chucked them into his Sack before I had a chance to see if they could be disintegrated into magical essence. (TODO: Can they???)
Next our journey took us to a suspicious pile of rocks, or as our Dwarven compatriots informed me, a suspicious pile of clearly-not-rocks. It was a mimic, laying in wait, no doubt to crush our party as we walked within striking distance. Fortunately, the element of surprise was on our side! Or, it would have been, if we had not universally missed every attempt to damage a beast which was, without exaggeration, fully as big as the large side of a mid-sized barn. Thus alerted to our presence, the mimic set upon us and the usual assortment of fisticuffs and sacrifical-hellhound-summoning ensued until it was eventually defeated. Ooh, but I did administer a combat mixture, a sulpher-based pyrotransacetic unguent. That was fun.
What else? Oh yes, there were some particularly fleshy ceiling-dwelling arthropods. Apparently they developed in an environment free of ranged weapons, as they were ill-equiped to defend themselves from our bows, arrows, slings, spells, or, as it turned out, the cave floor. Regrettably, their grotesque visage combined with the stress of easy combat proved overwhelming to poor Jory. The young monk, in an entirely unexpected and, dare I say, unwarranted, fit of self-destruction threw himself, alone, down a darkened hallway. His final scream still echoes in my nightmares.
Regardless, I am sure Jory is super-dead and never to be seen again.
After that, we turned our attention to vacating the catacombs without arousing the suspicions of the Goblin dwellers above. This was a simple matter of utilizing scrolls of Invisibility and Silence (Yours Truly) and rolling around in slug offal (Everyone Else) It is fortunate I was present; if left to their own devices, Grunk would have talked the party out of their treasure and, no doubt, sold them a used donkey for good measure.
That's all for now, diary! Tomorrow I rise at dawn to start work on my first custom piece; an Amulet of Natural Armor. Fingers crossed this turns out better than my last ill-fated attempt! Fortunately this time countervailing umbramatics are not involved and I have the power of Friendship on my side! Oh, and I've got a hot lead on a property for rent; a large warehouse just came on the market!
Talk to you soon!
From the Pen of the Hand of the Mind of Valence V. Vaughn