The Earth Flower

First Encounters
From the Journal of Xanth Nomeda

Met Dark Collins for the first time. An interesting dwarven paladin, has quite an attitude.

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I hate ghouls
From the Journal of Xanth Nomeda

So, after coming upon an oddly dead clearing in the very dense woods, dead in the sense that a large 40’ circle was cleared out and the grass seemed dead, we decided to have a look around. While Dark Collins and Xavitz went to check out a small path at the southern end, I decided to check out the wired structure off to the north. What I found was an old, ancient even, cemetery. Filled with Ghouls. Ghouls like to immobilize you apparently before they try to eat you. After a few agonizing moments waiting for my friends to come look for me while this ghoul was trying to eat me, they finally arrived and the fun began. Each time the ghouls hit us with their poisonous claws we couldn’t move. After having quite a time defeating the fiendish zombies, we were finally able to actually look around and investigate the graveyard.
A fresh grave (fresh corpse included) was in the front row of graves, a very thin level of dirt covering a dead elvish girl. The girl had no distinctive markings other than being a very delicate looking elvish girl. After further inspection (yes, we inspected a corpse) we found that she had deep scratches, three at a time, in her shoulders and back. She was buried with some orante jewelry, the most eye-catching was a very large gem hung with a golden necklace around her neck. Dark Collins and I decided to leave it, as neither of us are grave robbers. Xavitz on the other hand, well, I noticed the gem missing as we finished the burial (since the ghouls obviously prematurely ended the origonal burial and Dark Collins was feeling quite holy). I didn’t say anything to our paladin friend, as I didn’t wish to cause any further interruptions to our quest, and besides, “Honor Among Thieves” and all that, right?

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The City of Judgement
From the Journal of Xanth Nomeda

After defeating the ghouls, we made camp by the nearby river. After tending to our wounds we decided on a lookout order. I was selected for first watch. About two hours into my shift, I felt a sharp bite at the back of my neck. Somehow, a female elf had managed to sneak up on me and had me at a disadvantage. She asked why we were here, and the smart-ass I am, coupled with the misunderstanding of her statement, made some comment about how we were trying to camp for the night and was rudely interrupted. She was not a very humorous elf (I suppose this is the norm, from what I hear). Again she asked, and my stubborn side got the best of me and I made another smart remark. This time she pressed the point of the blade deep enough into the back of my neck to draw a small drop of blood, and asked a third time, “Why are YOU here, on the surface, Drow?” so I figured maybe it was time to be serious. I calmly informed her that I was not born with my notorious kin, and that I was born and raised on the surface, my mother and father refuges from the Underdark. After considering what I said for a moment, she let up on the blade, walked in front of me and sat down. She said “I believe you.”

She asked what we were doing in their graveyard, and I explained that we were merely exploring it as it was a curiosity to us, and how were were attacked by the ghouls. She had this weird sort of smirk on her face, which did seem oddly familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. She informed me that the graveyard was a sacred ground of her people, and a trap, of sorts. Her people used the graveyard as a means of deciding the intentions of wanderers through their forests. “A test of character”, she said. As she spoke about character, Dark Collins awoke suddenly and wanted to know who the elf was. I explained the situation to him and he calmed slightly, seeming to be more interested in her appearance than anything else. He started mumbling something about being celibate for over 120 years as he stared at her body, but she ignored it and let it pass.

She said that we passed the test, well, Dark Collins and I, at least. She then stood up and walked over to where Xavitz was meditating, slapped him on the back of the head and said, “You two passed, this one failed.” Xavitz, waking up quite startled from his meditation, looked at the elvish woman standing in front of him and almost fell backwards. It wasn;t until then that Dark Collins and I recognized the girl. She was the corpse we buried in the graveyard not hours earlier!
Apparently, the gem she wore around her neck was bait to lure grave robbers into stealing from the dead (which Xavitz failed, miserably). She held out her hand to Xavitz, an expectant look on her face. I could see the struggle in his mind, as he debated whether or not this elf was formidable enough to attempt to lie or, if worse came to worse, battle for ownership of the gem. In the end, he decided the gold value of the gem was not worth what this elf might be capable of. After rifling through his bags, we watched as he reluctantly handed her the gem, then shied away.

As she came back to sit next to Dark Collins and I, she asked what we were doing in the forest. I explained that we were just passing through the forest to get to the mountains. We explained that we were explorers, hearing of ancient treasure in the mountains. I asked if her people might offer any sort of safe passage through the forest, hoping to shave some days off our travel time. She thought for a moment and said that if we were able to wait until nightfall of the following day, she would go ask her people. Dark and I considered and decided that if she was wiling to help, it would save us time in the long run, so we agreed. As she left our camp, we noticed two other elves in the forest following her. Two elves that we had not seen the entire time she was there.

I would like to take this time to point out how badly of a fisherman Dark is. He was trying to swing his large two-handed hammer at the fish and expecting to catch them. Using my throwing darts, I was able to catch three large fish before the fourth one slipped out of my hand and nearly pierced Dark’s foot. He grumbled in the customary dwarf fashion, both out of fear of pain and the fact that and elf had bested him. That evening as we were preparing the fish I had caught that day the elf returned, this time accompanied by another female elf, and a large Winter Wolf. All three of us stood up as they approached, the first elf we meet, came to me and introduced herself as Laynada as she handed me a small leaf rolled and tied with some string. “For the fish.” she said with a smirk. I opened the roll and spread the seasonings into the fish meat. As I seasoned the fish, I introduced myself as Aladrin (the common alias I use for meeting new people, including Dark). The new elf introduced herself to Dark as Rayina. She also introduced the wolf as Perrid, who sat at her side, looking at Dark. Dark introduced himself, to our new companions. As the fish cooked on the fire, I asked Laynada if her people have decided. She said that they would grant us passage through the forest, if we accompanied her to their city and spoke with the princess.

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