Monday, November 19, 2018

Straighten it out

When Thor Odinson was the age of 14, his father Odin gave him his first hammer. This hammer was not Mjollnir, but it was beautiful. It was a masterwork of solid steel with engraved knotting on the sides. It had been blessed and carved with mystic runes that only Odin understood. The handle was a piece of Ironwood, given by the oldest Ironwood tree in the famous forest. Its grip was wrapped with strapping made with supple, elegantly tanned hide of a ten-point stag. Balanced in hand and in the swing, Thor was fascinated by it. He began to train with it every day.

 In the meantime, the 18-year-old, Loki was studying magic with Frigga. Frigga had been training him since he was small. Many do not understand that magic takes longer to master than physical combat. Few people have the patience for it or the will to endure the repetitive nature of practicing with it. Not to mention, the brainpower it takes for constant concentration.

To the eyes of non-practitioners, it looked easy for Frigga to wave her hand and make something happen. A quick rainbow over the banquet table or a flash to start a fire in the hearth would send the crowd of feasters into a state of awe. So, when Loki's wave of magic made feeble attempts, he would get ridiculed. This would make the young prince angry. So, he would often practice his prestidigitation spells for revenge. Eventually, he became very good at those. Thus, by his 18th year, he was reasonably good at simple things but not much else. At least, on the magic side of things.

Loki spent some of his time in the training yard learning hand-to-hand, daggers, and archery. He discovered that knives were his favorite. From the age of 9, he had split his time between the training yard and Frigga. Which was why his progress with either looked slow, Loki was duel classed. When his 18th year rolled around, he appeared to be still a child in skill. The truth was that he was not.

This did not occur to his peers. When Thor was in the training yard with his new hammer, he swiftly obliterated targets. Thor began to run out of people that would practice with him. During the practice wars, he would always be on the winning side. And at the practice tournaments, he would still come out as champion.

This went straight to Thor's head and built an ego that Loki could not tolerate easily. Thor and others bragged far too often for Loki's taste. But it came to a blistering heat when some drunken admirer of Thor went too far and began to compare the abilities of the two brothers in a loud, raucous rant at dinner one night.

"You should have seen'im!" said the drunk man. He was talking to a couple young maids. "Thor broke the line by throwing his hammer to the left. Then, he rolled, like a ball into the right. The men at the front, from behind their shields, followed the hammer with eyes. But were unaware that Thor has thrown himself into the line from below!" The drunk man waved his arms while telling his story. Very nearly taking off the head off one of the pretty damsels, making the other two laugh. "Fell like forest trees, under a giant's swing! Four lines of men, falling to the earth under their shields and armor. They struggled like overturned turtles. Then, Thor stands up, reaches out his arm and calls to his hammer. It lifts from the ground and thunders to his hand! He rushes further into the fray, ringing helms, bending shields until he had a cut a path through the middle of the ranks. Our men followed, running across their fallen bodies, into the path Thor had made, splitting the horde and flanking them on all sides." The drunk man reached for his cup and held it aloft, spilling the drink like rain upon the women's heads. "Now that's a victory worth boasting about!" he drank deeply and laughed.

The girls made yuck sounds. "Oh, my hair! It's all sticky now," she said, preening at her locks.
The drunk man sat down next to her. "If you like, I can make the rest to match," he grinned at her.

"Gross!" she remarked. The other two cackled. "I'd rather Loki than you." This sent the other two into hysterics.

"What's that supposed to mean?" asked the drunk.

"It means, not if you were the last man on earth," explained one of the other maids.

"Well, I don't see how that's fair," said the drunk. "What's Loki doing while we are all training for battle? Hmm? Sitting with mommy learning how to light candles? Reading books, going blind? Sticking daggers into the backs of practice targets in the yard? He's rubbish! How's that going to help to defend our borders? How does waving your hand about, making little sparks going to scare frost giants? What a waste of space."

The room had gone quiet. The drunk man's words echoed throughout the banquet hall. The maids had gone pale and stopped laughing. Loki appeared from behind the drunk and slammed his cup on the table. Then, he stormed out of the room.

The drunk guffawed and called for more honey wine. The room remained quiet. There was the sound of a bench being moved and then footsteps behind the drunk. "No, I think you're done. Go to bed," said Thor.

"I ain't done. You may be the prince, but you're still a kid! I don't have to..."

Thor pulled back his arm and punched the man in the back of his head. The drunk's lights went out, and he went face first into the table. "I think he's passed out. Could someone help this man to bed?" said Thor. The whole room roared with laughter. The man was helped to bed.

Thor knocked on Loki's door. "Loki, can I come in?"

"Since when has a door been your barrier? If I say no, you'll come in any way," replied Loki.

Thor sighed and opened the door. "I am trying to respect your privacy." Thor came into the room and found Loki sulking in a chair by the fire. "He was drunk and mean."

Loki looked up. "What did you do?" He waved his hand, and the door closed on its own.

"I told him to go to bed," said Thor.

Loki scowled. "And then?"

Thor smiled. "Well, he objected. So I made him go to sleep."

Loki groaned and then facepalmed. "I wish you would stop that! What compels you to do shit like that! Don't I get enough crap from the others?"

"What are you talking about?" asked Thor.

"Why don't you get it?" Loki raised his voice in frustration. "When you do shit like that, come to my aid, as it were, the others never let me hear the end of it! Shit on a stick, Thor! 'Don't make fun of Loki or Thor will beat you up.' You are my little brother! You are embarrassing me!"

"But Loki, that's just it, you are my brother. I don't care about age or what the others say. We are family. We stick up for each other."

"Name one time I had to stick up for you! Name one single instance, Thor." Loki paused to let his brother roll that question around in his head. When Thor couldn't give an answer in five seconds or less, he went on. "Exactly! Never!"

"No, wait, there was that time with the troll. You helped me."

"No, that wasn't in front of everyone. It has to be with an audience; otherwise, it's not the same."

"I don't understand."

"No, you wouldn't, would you," Loki punched his knee in anger. "I can do so much, but that doesn't matter if it isn't seen. That's what holds weight here. For example, did any of those hard heads know that the hammer came back to your hand because I cast the spell to get it there? Your hammer doesn't automatically come when you call."

"Oh, but wouldn't be awesome if it did?"

"Thor, focus. By the Nine!" Loki rolled his eyes. "Nobody saw me cast the spell, so it is as if it never happened that way. The glory is, as it has always been, with you."

"Awe come on, that's not my fault. They know you can do stuff. You've been casting curses on me for years. Remember that time you closed my mouth up for a week? That was a good spell."

"And the quietest week of my life," smiled Loki. The memory faded quickly, and he dropped his smile. "No," he shook his head. "What everyone saw was me having a temper tantrum. Which is true, but also no one appreciated the time I worked on that spell. Frigga lectured me, Odin growled at me, and I was punished harshly."

"That's because of the target and the reason for the spell in the first place," said Thor.

"But everyone saw it, and they paid attention," said Loki. "Like the only attention I can get is bad attention."

"Would it make you feel better if I started training for magic stuff?"


"I'm sure I could do it. Then, you could start training with a real weapon. Then we could both..."

"Real weapon?" growled Loki. He stood up from his chair and faced Thor.

"Yeah, we could both..."

 Loki took a few steps to stand in front of his brother. "And Thor learn magic? No way! You do not have the brain function for that." Loki put his finger to his brother's temple and pushed. Thor slapped his brother's hand away from his head. "You can barely concentrate on dinner, much less concentrate hard enough to light a candle!"

"Stop spitting on me!" He pushed his brother back.  "And yes, I could! I would find a way," objected Thor.

"No you couldn't. If I cast a spell on you that had an answer as easy as concentrating, you would not be able to get out of it." Loki stepped up to his brother and pointed at his nose. "Besides, I bet you would wreak havoc on the whole castle because you couldn't figure it out!"

Thor slapped away Loki's hand agian. The dark haired boy growled and slapped back. Thor pulled his arm back. Loki stepped away. Thor dropped his arm. "Bilge smack! You talk a tough game, Loki. But in the end, you're just a jerk. I came in here because I wanted you to feel better. Now, you're being a troll."

"Well, then leave!" said Loki. "I didn't force you in here."

"Fine, I will." Thor went to the door and opened it. "But I could do magic if I set my mind to it." He walked out into the hallway and turned to look back in the room. "I'm going to ask tomorrow."

"Withergeist!" yelled Loki. Then, he waved his hand and the door smalled in Thor's face.

"Troll lover!" yelled Thor back at Loki's door. There was no response from the room. The teenager sighed and walked into the torch lit hall. "What's a withergeist?"

Frigga stepped out of the shadows. "A withergiest is an evil spirit that sucks the life essence from a being slowly. Like milking a cow, if you will, leaving behind a person who is withered, lifeless, and bitter."

"Well, he can suck rocks for water, then," said Thor.

"I agree. It is a pointless venture to help your brother feel better about a situation. Even if he knows you are not to blame for the situation itself," said Frigga.

"Am I?" asked Thor

She huffed. "It doesn't matter. We are talking about people. Your brother has never been good with normal social skills. At least not everyday social skills. I heard your Father once call him a "heyoka."

"What's that?"

"It comes from the tribes of men to the distant west. There it is believed that those who are born different, those who can speak and behave in backward ways, are sacred jesters. The word is "heyoka." These people can use humor to heal, inspire, and instruct. They are revered, not in a worshipping way, but in a respectful way. Because heyoka can be helpful but also cause great harm. It depends on how another person or group of people need them to behave. They have special relationships with the Thunder-beings, the creators of their kind. An interesting trip for your father, one that gave him great insight into the behavior of your brother, Loki." Frigga took Thor's hand and walked him down the hallway.

"In the case of Loki, your father has gone to great lengths to try to understand why he is the way he is. Loki's thoughts are adverse to the norm. He can speak and read backward, upside down, and sideways. His ideas are often opposite of what we have come to believe. The only advice I can give you, concerning Loki, is the same advice your father follows. You must accept him for who he has decided to be that day. For tomorrow, he will be something new, until he has discovered himself. And even then, it will change but not so drastically."

"So, swim with the current of the raging river?" asked Thor.

Frigga smiled. "In shorter words, yes." She led him to his door. Frigga kissed his forehead. "Now, go to bed."

"Before I do, I wanted to ask about magic. Can you teach me?" asked Thor.

"Uh, let's address that tomorrow, Shall we?" said Frigga.

"Fine," said Thor. He turned and went into his room.

One week later, the argument and the question of magic had been forgotten. The day passed like a typical day. Loki put his morning hours into knife throwing and after lunch went into the study with Frigga. Thor spent his day in the training yard. Towards evening, Thor took his turn to help clean up the training yard. There were many things to do; returning weapons and armor to the armory, repairing targets, and general clean up. Thor's task was returning equipment to the arsenal while the others did something else. There wasn't too much to the job and generally quick. So, Thor didn't complain. He collected the equipment and went into the armory. The others finished their tasks and headed into the building to freshen up and wait for dinner.

It was in the middle of dinner when Odin leaned over to Frigga. "Where is Thor?"

Frigga looked around the banquet hall. "I don't know. I don't see him."

"Heimdall," called Odin. "Where is Thor?"

Heimdall was sitting in front of a large pork roast and a crock of beer. "He's in the armory, straightening things out," replied Heimdall between bites. "It appears he can't help himself and won't be finished for some time."

Odin nodded. "Oh, all right then. Hard work makes for a hearty appetite. We'll set something aside and send it to his room."

"No, you don't understand," said Heimdall, licking his fingers. "He is literally straightening things out. Flattening them. Shields flattened. Armor flattened. Bows straightened. He did outstanding work on those scimitars from the west. Still can't figure out how he managed the bows. And it looks like he is starting work on the helms. Those should be nice and flat in no time." Heimdall chuckled. "He can't help himself."

"What?" asked Odin. "He's doing what?"

Heimdall took the apple from his roast pork and placed it on the table. "It's easy. This is a helm, right?" Odin nodded. 'Okay, Thor can't help himself from flattening it out. Straightening it out. Like this." Heimdall slammed his fist into the apple, spraying the pulp everywhere. Then, using this fingers straightened the sides of the mess so that it was a perfectly flat square of pulp on the table. "Helm, flat and straight. Done." He pointed to the mess of apple.

Odin stood up from the table. "Guards! With me," he bellowed. He moved from the table towards the armory.

Odin entered the armory. He found Thor hammering away on a helm, with his new hammer. In the center of the room, perfect lines of flattened and straightened objects that used to be equipment. Thor's face was pale and sweating as he hammered away at the metal. "I'm sorry, Father. I can't stop! I can't stop!"

Odin snapped at the guards to hold him. They rushed at Thor to grab his arms in mid-swing. The hammer went berserk, swinging at anything that wasn't flat on the guards. Odin called for more guards and Frigga. At the end of the fray, there were three men per limb, holding down Thor. Frigga behind Odin accessing the situation.

"What shall we do with him, Sire?" asked a guard.

"Take him to his room. And by the Nine! Make sure his hammer stays out of hands," replied Odin. As the guards carried Thor out of the armory, Odin turned to Frigga. "Spell?"

"It has to be," replied Frigga. "There can be no other cause."


"I won't answer that."

"Does he have the ability?"


"That's all I need to know," said Odin. The patriarch stormed out the armory, looking for Loki.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


My head swam, and the Doctor pulled me along a dark corridor. I could not pay attention to where we were going as he yanked me further into the underground labyrinth. The hall finally opened up into another room.

The stone walls had little holes drilled into them. Each hole had a bottle of elixir stuck in it. In the center of the room was a platform with a bright beam of light shooting upwards. A man hung mid-air in the middle of that shaft. Another hooded man stood at a console at the base of the platform. He turned to us. “Ah, Doctor. I have been expecting you.”

“And you are creating the telepathic barrier preventing the Sisterhood from sensing us,” said the Doctor. He let go of my arm and approached the Hermit.

The Hermit chuckled. “The Sisters have many secrets. Some of them do not matter anymore, yet they cling to them like misers to silver coins.”

“Secrets like you for example,” replied the Doctor. “I have been to Karn many times spent time here. Yet, your presence went undisclosed.”

“And you want to know why,” nodded the Hermit. He pointed to the Hanging Man. “That is the reason, Doctor. He possesses dangerous knowledge. Knowledge that needed to be protected from our enemies of the Time War.”

“A scientist,” the shadow man nodded.

“Not any scientist, Doctor. One of three, if the history is to be believed. One of four, if you believe in conspiracies. One of five, depending on your perspective.” The Hermit smiled. “But what does it matter now, Doctor? Gallifrey is gone. The Time-lords fallen. TARDIS’ swallowed by the Nightmare Child, lost to the Vortex, broken beyond the Rifts. What is left but fairy tales for children?” He looked at me and raised his brow.

My head cleared up due to the rushing adrenaline. The Doctor interrupted before I could say anything. “Yes, what is left? And what is it for?” He gestured to the walls. “This amount of Elixir is not necessary. What are the Sisters doing here?”

“The same thing they have always done. Nothing changes on Karn. They are waiting,” said the Hermit. “There’s nothing an amount of Patience can achieve.” He chuckled again. “Doctor, you look for evil intent, suspicious motive. You will not find that here.”

“We have the book,” I blurted. “Will we find the encryption code?”

“That’s not important anymore,” said the shadow man. “I already have it. No, the real question here is, ‘Who were you’?”

“I was once called The No Other, one of two, forced twins. An experiment gone wrong, long ago,” replied the Hermit. “I have not been that for a long time. But that is not what you need. The knowledge you seek is in the room you came from. All your questions can be answered there. Go look for yourself, Doctor. Observe. Pay attention. You will understand.” The Doctor pivoted on the spot and ran back down the tunnel. “You are human, are you not?” The Hermit asked me.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m not important.”

“Lies do not become you, child. You know what you have been asked. Are you willing now?”

“I was. But it’s so much to ask,” I said. “I don’t know if I have the strength to follow through.”

The Hermit approached me and took my arm. “You are too far along to back out, child. If the Sisters are any example, you know the cost. But you also know the reward. For humans, it is different. You are not like us. I can see why the Doctor loves your kind; so much potential, yet so flawed.” He released my arm and pulled out a vial. “Do not drink it. That is important. You will know what to do when the time is right.” He reached up and unstrapped my helmet. “Take it off. You don’t need it anymore.”

I took off my helmet, and long silver hair spilled out around my shoulders. “How? When?”

He held up my arm so I could see it. The green-yellow glow of the computer bus infection had turned to silver flowing lines. “Does it matter now?”

“Yes. I need something to tell myself when I look back at this moment. I need something to tell myself that makes it ok. So that I can reassure myself that this is the correct course of action. Humans need that, and I am human.”

The Hermit nodded. “Are you familiar with Quantum Anchorage?”

“That has to do with fixed points of time?”

He shook his head. “So much more than that but let’s go with that for the moment. What happens when a prophecy is made about a fixed point in time, and someone tries to subvert that point?”

“It’s a fixed point. It happens anyway. It doesn’t matter which way you go; it doesn’t matter what you do. That point will happen. Depending on which actions a person takes could mean it happens slower or faster, but it will happen. Also, details may change here and there. But the Doctor has said, and I believe him, that the universe of cause and effect heals itself. It’s like stainless steel on Earth.”

“Paradoxes do heal over time. But before they do, they create cracks, rifts if you will. Time shatters like glass. All those cracks don’t heal all the way; they make scars. Those scars and cracks heal all the around until they join once more to another fixed point; where they all converge back into harmony with the Prime Reality.”

“This isn’t reality,” I said.

“Depends on your point of view, my dear. No one knows for sure,” he replied. “Sometimes we must create wounds to heal them.”

“Jessica!” The Doctor yelled from the corridor and ran back into the room. The stopped in his tracks and stared at me. “It’s too late,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.” He came to me and hugged me. “I can’t stop it. It’s too late.”

“Read the book, Doctor. Finish it,” said the Hermit.

“I can’t,” he stuttered. “I can’t.”

“You must. She will find a way if you don’t,” said the Hermit. “No one else wins against the Lady at the Chessboard.”

 previous                                               Soothsaying Rock Lady
  next                                                     Its a Story and a Cup


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Its a Cup and A Story

The cavern shook as a loud explosion hit the surface world. The Hermit's appearance glitched. "Doctor?" I said, pointing to the Hermit. "Did you see that?"

The shadow head nodded. "I did," he said. The Doctor approached the console unit at the base of the platform. His arm went inside his own shadow. Then he pulled it back out again and swept it across his head. He leaned over the console, inspecting it. "Why are you projecting an image?"

 "Doctor, please, don't touch it," said the Hermit. "That being may as well be dead."

"Then turn it off and let him go," demanded the Doctor. "What would it hurt?"

The Hermit moved between the Doctor and the console. "This place, these people, and would destroy in ways yet undisclosed," said the Hermit. "Please, you know how time can wobble. I am asking you, Doctor. I am begging you. Please. Don't."

 The Beggarman, that impossible shadow man, paused for a moment, then he backed away. "I'll be watching. I'll be checking."

 The Hermit nodded. "As you always have been." The cavern rocked again. "But you are needed elsewhere. Go."

 The Doctor grabbed my hand, and we ran back down the tunnels and corridors. We ran towards the Sisterhood and the dangerous armored Leprechauns.

 Witinera and the Sisters stood together looking up at the ship in the sky. As the Doctor and I ran towards them, Witenira turned towards us. "Doctor!" she yelled. Then her face fell.

He interrupted her before she could go further. "Yes, I know! It's my fault. I'll fix it. Just tell me what..."

 She pointed at my hair. "What have you done?" She demanded.

I smiled and pointed to the sky. "They figured it out too, didn't they? The cup you gave them..." The Doctor groaned.

"Wasn't lined with gold! Yes, they know and are demanding we give them the real cup." she hissed angrily. "Where have you been? What have you done?"

A ball of fire flew across the sky and landed in an explosion. The Doctor grinned. "Me? Nothing. Her?" he pointed at me. "Well, she got hungry."

Witenira flew into a rage as another explosion hit nearby. "I'll have her!" She came at me.

"Not today, Witenira. Gotta dash!" The Doctor grabbed and tugged me towards the TARDIS. "Run, Jessica. If you ever want to leave this place, run!" He hissed at me.

"Doctor! Come back here!"

The Shadow man and I ran to the TARDIS through the shower of fireballs. It was difficult because of the shaky ground caused by the explosions. As we neared, he clicked his fingers, and the doors flew open. Then, my Beggar man threw me in through the doors. I slid across the entrance grating and came to a stop in front of the console. The Doctor ran in after me and slammed the doors shut. Then, he bolted to the console and engaged the TARDIS in flight. It was fast. He tapped at the keyboard, flipped a switch, seven seconds of wheezing, a thud, and a ding. He rushed past me, opened the doors and yelled. "Here you are! Now, sod off!" The Doctor closed the door again. He dashed back the console and flipped the switch again. Then, I think he shoved his hands in his pockets, bent his head, and sighed.

 "Doctor, you didn't give them the cup did you?"

"Of course I did," he replied.

"But why? Its important to the sist..."

He shook his head. "No, it's not. It's only a cup. An antique cup lined with gold. It has no powers. Its only value is in sentiment and the gold. Which, when compared to the value of life, is not that much." The Doctor walked over to me and offered his hand. "Jessica, it was always just a cup. Never anything more."

 I smiled and took his hand. As he lifted me off the floor, I realized that he was only part right. "No Doctor. It is one more thing."

"Oh? What's that?"

"Its a cup and a terrific story."

 The Shadow man smiled at me and laughed.

Previous                                 Convergence



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Phandelver Mine: Cragmaw Hideout Encounter

So, Lord Tom wastes no time in going to town and tracking down a roofer. Why? To pay for a new
roof on Tresendor Manor. They give him an estimate. Lord Tom negotiates them down just a tad and then convinces them to take half now and half later. Then, he hands over the money. (The Player and the Dm take a few minutes of tabletop arguing over whether Lord Tom has the money to do it. Then, The DM proceeds to audit Tom. Yes, I did! Every copper can be accounted for by the module from the encounters from the book.)

After securing the services and collecting a list of quests, the companions decide its time to go to the Triboar Trail. The companions come to the goblin ambush spot and track the goblins back to their hideout. It is a cave with a small stream flowing out of it, just inside the Neverwinter Forest. They defeat the sentries at the mouth of the cave. Amber casts light on Lord Tomas greataxe and they go in. The companions avoid a cavern with two hungry wolves. They continue down a tunnel and find an unstable tunnel high in the cave wall. Ignoring the "unstable" part of the description, Leo the halfling rogue, and Amber the dwarf cleric, shimmy up the wall and enter. Lord Tomas the human fighter, on the other hand, has great difficulty in the climb. When he finally gets into the tunnel, some of it falls on him, causing damage. Lord Tom has luck on his side this day, he hears the rocks walls begin to give way and he dodges the majority of the collapse, only receiving light wounds. The sound of collapsing rock echoes through the cave system. The sounds of running footsteps come closer. Leo turns and hisses to Amber, "Turn off the light." Amber waves her hands and dismisses the light spell on Lord Tom's greataxe. The trio sit in utter darkness and listen as the footsteps stop, close to the unstable tunnel exit. Guttural voices exchange words, goblins are investigating the noise.

Finding nothing, the voices cease and the goblins disappear into the dark. The trio exit the unstable tunnel. They are in pitch dark. Only Amber can see with her dwarfish darkvision. In whispers, she describes to them the opening of another cavern to their left and a safer tunnel leading to their right. Amber takes point. Leo grabs Amber's shoulder, and Lord Tom's hand rests on Leo's head. The cleric takes them left 30 feet., towards the cavern. The tunnel opens into a large cavern. Then, they stop to investigate again. The trio can clearly see soft fire glow 60 feet into the distance. Four goblins are sitting by one campfire, while another hovers beside a second. The shadowed goblin figures exchange guttural words between them.

"We need a plan," whispers Amber.

"I have an invisibility potion," said Leo. "I can take it. Then, I can circle around to flank them. You and Lord Tom come from the front, to distract them. Then, I can sneak attack them. They will be surprised either way."

"I will pray to Durin for a blessing," said Amber. "If he favors us, he will give us advantage and divine protection." (The DM has a mix of real myth and standard D&D myth in her world. Durin is the dwarfen god of surface and wandering dwarfs. You will not find information about this dwarfen god in the D&D books.)

"I will hit the dirty scallywags with my great axe. They shall taste the mettle of Lord Tomas Corlinn," said Lord Tom. (Then, the player gives a hair flip via-vi Gary from Final Space. Finishing with a smolder move via-vi  Bravestone of Jumanji. Trust me, it was funny)

--Out of game-- "Player, did you just give me smolder?" The DM asked.
--Out of game-- "Yes. Yes, I did. He is Lord Tomas Corlinn the 3rd, Baronette. Lord Tom should heroically smash and heroically smolder."
--Out of game-- "Okay, player, I am giving you an inspiration point! That was funny as hell."

---Back in game--

The cleric prays to Durin, and the benevolent god complies. The rogue drinks his potion and disappears. Amber and Tom ready their weapons and sneak 30 feet closer into positions. Leo gives the signal. Amber and Tom rush towards the goblins ready to strike...

---out of game--- "NOOOOOOO!!!!!! yells Amber's player.
"Oh no," said the Dm. "Amber what did you roll?"
The player puts her hands over her face. "I rolled a 1." She groans with embarrassment, while the other players laugh at her.
"Roll again. Let's see how bad you fail," said the DM.
Amber's player rolls the dice. "Ugh! No! I rolled a 2."
"Oh my good word," said the DM. "That's not good, but at least you didn't kill yourself." The Dm shakes her head and sighs. "All right, here's what happens..."

--back in game--

Amber and Tom, weapons drawn, rush towards the goblins. Mid-rush, Amber trips over a rock and falls forward, face down and prone on the hard-packed cavern floor. Her war hammer slips from her hand, sliding across the dirt 10 feet away. Her nose, smashed from the fall, spurts blood out and down her face, as she receives 4 points of impact damage.

The Goblins leap up from their positions, draw their scimitars, and rush forward to battle. The noble fighter receives goblin blows but makes his stand; doing his best to defend the onslaught of goblins from Amber. Leo shoots a crossbow bolt from his hiding place, instantly killing one.  Amber rises from the ground and draws her hand axe. Two goblins move past Lord Tom towards the cleric. Amber parries a goblin scimitar while the other strikes true. Lord Tom performs action surge, striking down a goblin and wounding another in a single blow. The rogue lets lose another bolt, finishing off Lord Tom's wounded goblin. Amber strikes the beast in front of her, wounding it. Two goblins strike Amber, she cries out in pain. Lord Tom moves 10 feet towards Amber, and strikes the wounded monster downing it. Leo looses another bolt and misses. Amber strikes again, wounding her second foe. The goblin strikes back and misses, distracted by the knowledge he is flanked. Lord Tom swings his greataxe and misses. Leo shoots and strikes this time, downing the fifth goblin. Amber melees with a mortal blow, finishing off the goblin. The goblin screams as he dies.

A guttural voice echoes down at them from above. ("If you are fighting again, so help me I will kill you all!" But in goblin, of course. And since none of them know goblin language, they do not know what the voice said.) To the west, the cavern floor descends upward as a ramp. It goes up about 8 feet and plateau's in a connected cavern. Standing at the top of the ramp, is a larger goblin, looking down at them. The three companions draw their weapons and move towards the ramp.

The larger goblin sees the trio and pulls out his weapons too. He moves down the ramp towards them. This goblin does not fare well at all. (his rolls were bad for the whole melee encounter.) Being used to pushing around smaller goblins, this beast thought he could do the same to adventurers. He only realized his mistake as he died.

After finishing off the monster, the three try to sneak up the ramp to investigate further, believing that more goblins lie in wait just beyond their site.  They are surprised to find a cage, with a very weak man inside. His name is Sir Sildar Hallwinter. Sir Hallwinter immediately recognizes Lord Tom, although the knight has not seen him in years. Sir Hallwinter has been a friend of the Corlinn family since they immigrated to Neverwinter. Recently, he was a companion of the Rockseeker brothers (Who happen to be Amber's kin. They called her to Phandalin in the first place.) Sir Hallwinter was in a caravan and in the Rockseekers company, when their travel was interrupted by an ambush. He and the Rockseeker brothers were captured, tortured for information, and subsequently separated. Sir Sildar was stripped of his equipment, caged, and starved. He only knows that the brothers were sent to Cragmaw Castle, to be questioned by the goblin king.

The trio takes a short rest while Sildar tells his tale. They regain some of their strength. But Sildar is too weak to help them clear the hideout. The companions explain that they are reluctant to leave him here, but it is also too dangerous for the weakened knight to leave. They way they came is blocked by a tunnel collapse and they have yet to know the way out. Sildar tells them that he will follow them at a safe distance. He will flee when the way is clear and meet them back in Phandalin.

Leo, Amber, and Lord Tom leave the spot in this cavern. They go through the area until they reach the dark tunnel, leading up and away from the collapsed tunnel.  Amber takes point. With her dark vision, she leads the other three through the lightless tunnel. The tunnel upgrades and opens to a large cavernous ravine with a  rickety rope bridge leading across to another tunnel. There is only one goblin sentry here. He is lazy and sleeping when the companions get to the bridge. It is easy for Leo to pick him off with a sneak attack.

The way is clear for the others. As they cross the bridge, the sound of a waterfall is very loud. They mange to sneak through the tunnel, into and through an opening into another cavern. This one has four huge stalagmites. Two of them are in dammed up pools of water. The other two are free standing in the cavern. Amber and Leo mange to hide behind the closest stalagmite without being seen. But Lord Tom's two left feet and metal armor prevent him from sneaking to far into the cavern. The three goblins see him and go for their weapons.

One of the goblins turns to flee up a stone stairway that connects another cave. Leo, from his hiding position, already has his crossbow out and ready.

----out of game---
Leo player; "I'm gonna shoot him in the eye."
Dm: "So, you are calling your shot?"
Leo player; "Yeah, why?" (This player is new.)
Dm: "That will make the shot a little harder. You will have to roll better than the goblin's armor class to hit."
Leo player: "By how much?"
Dm: "I think you will have to roll three better, so you have to get 18 or better to hit."
Leo player: "What will happen if I miss?"
Dm: "You miss the shot. Do you want to Rick it?" (Players laugh)
Leo player: "Is that 18 total or 18 on the roll?"
Dm: "In cases like these, it will always be total. You must total an 18 or better to shoot his eye out." (Players go into standard chant. "You'll shoot your eye out!") "Okay people, shut it!" Turns to player. "Do you want to try it or not?"
Leo: picks up dice. "Yeah, I'm going to try to shoot his eye out."

-----back in game---

Leo the rogue shoots the goblin and the bolt goes into the goblin's eye and out of the back of its skull. The goblin screams and falls backward-dead. In the meantime, Amber, from her hiding spot, casts a spell that fails. Lord Tom is being flanked by two goblins. The fighter uses action surge (he can because of the short rest he took earlier.)

---out of game---
Tom player: laughs "What the deuce!"
Dm: "What did you roll, Tom?"
Tom player: "I rolled a 20 and 1!"
Dm; gives an evil smirk. "Well then, here's what happens."

---back in game---

Lord Tom smites the first goblin with a heavy blow upwards. It splits the monster from groin to skull. Viscera, brains, and skull stuck to the great axe are flung into the air. The trailing gore spins like a pinwheel in an arch around Lord Tom and the goblin body falls to the stony floor. Fluid waves of bile, blood, and gastric liquids follow the arching energy of the swing. Lord Tom is showered by goblin entrails and juice.

---out of game---
Dm: "Tom, I need you to roll an intelligence check."
Tom player: "Why?"
Dm: "Because you are a lord and your face is covered in goblin viscera. This has never happened to you before."
Tom player: "Oh shit. I have a negative mod on my Intelligence."
Dm: "I know. Now, roll."
---back in game--

Lord Tom drops his great axe to the floor and he begins to cry. "Get it off! Get it off!" He spits. "Oh Gods! It tastes!" Lord Tom begins to panic more and his yells get louder. He performs a two-year-old, three stooges tantrum. He runs in place and waves his hands in front of himself. "Somebody help me! Oh, Gods!"

From the adjoining chamber, a guttural voice roars over the sound of the waterfall. Two goblins, a wolf, and a bugbear appear and move down the steps into the cavern. Leo and Amber's position has been compromised.  The bugbear points at Amber and yells something in goblin. The wolf moves towards Amber. Amber pulls out her war hammer. Leo makes an attempt to flee from melee range and fails. Lord Tom continues to panic. The goblin nearest to Tom gets in a solid hit. Lord Tom fails his check again and ignores the hit.

---out of game---
Amber player: "There are two pools of water here, right?"
Dm: "Yes."
Amber player: "Is there any way to get Tom to fall into one of them? I mean, is he close enough? Like maybe I can hit him and he can fall in or something?"
Dm: "You can try to tell him. But the sound of the waterfall is very loud. Plus, he is in a panicked state. And in your next turn, you are going to be in melee battle with a wolf. Tom is not close enough to the water to fall in. And he has already been hit by a goblin and it didn't appear to do anything. The odds of getting through to him are not impossible but they are high."
Leo player: "But he is open to attack, right? You said he dropped his great axe."
Dm: "Yes."
Leo player to Amber player: "I don't think we can help him. We best fend for ourselves for the moment. If we survive, then we can help him."
---back in game---

"Tom! Go to the water!" Leo yells. Leo dodges an attack and manages to disappear. Amber swings at the wolf and hits. "Tom! Water!" she yells. Lord Tom moves within range of one the pools and jumps in. Tom's goblin laughs. It turns towards Amber and moves within her range. It hits her with its scimitar. The wolf claws at Amber, causing more damage. Leo's goblins cannot find the rogue, so they move towards Amber. Leo shoots from his hiding spot. The bolt pierces the knee of one of the goblins, downing him and preventing him from further movement. Then, Leo moves and hides again. Amber is flanked by  wolf and two goblins. She manages to get in a shot. Lord Tom is fighting the water and his armor. He must rise for air, but is failing his saves. The goblins and the wolf hit Amber. Amber goes down. Leo emerges from his hiding place and shots again, aiming for the wolf. His shot is true and unexpected. The wolf slumps dead. Lord Tom rises from the water with a javelin in his hand. "Javelin throw!" yells Lord Tom. He throws it and it sinks deep into the goblin standing over Amber; preventing the cleric's death. The bugbear yells. "Klarg, will have you for sport!" It runs down the steps towards Lord Tom. The final goblin looks for Leo but still cannot find him. It decides to assist his master in attacking Lord Tom. Leo shoots from his new hiding place. The bolt finds its way into the a goblin shoulder. Lord Tom pulls out another javelin and throws it at the approaching goblin. The goblin goes down in a pool of its own blood. The bugbear isn't quite fast enough to reach Lord Tom. Leo, still in his place, shots again. Lord Tom climbs out of the pool and makes for his great axe. It lays only fifteen feet away but the fighter doesn't make it time. The bugbear comes up behind Tom and lands a hit. Tom groans in pain at the strength of the beast's blow. Leo diverts the bugbear's attention with a bolt to thigh. Tom manages to move within range and pick up his great axe from the stony floor. Tom turns to defend himself. The bugbear shifts within melee range of Tom and swings his weapon. Lord Tom parries the strike. Leo shoots again and misses by an ear. Tom swings hard and hits the bugbear, critically! The bugbear swings and misses. Leo has the final strike. The bugbear falls dead.
Leo runs to Amber. "Tom! I need a healing potion!" Lord Tom falls to his knees. "She has one! It's at the top of her pack!" Lord Tom fumbles for his own healing potion.

---out of game---
Dm: "Whoa there, Leo! What are you planning to do?"
Leo player: "I'm going to give Amber a healing potion."
Dm: "And how are you going to manage that? She is at 0 HP and is unconscious. In addition, What ever HP she does get back from that healing potion is going to be wasted because she is hemorrhaging badly!   If you do not stabilize her in 20 minutes, she is going to die from bleed out."
Leo player: "How do I stabilize her?"
Dm: "You roll a medicine check. You can, at least, stop the bleeding. Basic first aid is a DC 12. But you only get three rolls. I won't allow a "take twenty" for this stuff.
Leo player: "What's a 'take twenty'?"
Dm: "That is when I allow the player to assume success. If you roll the dice twenty times, you are going to succeed at one of those rolls. It's a game mechanic used to speed up game play. Like when Gandalf sat outside the secret door of Moria. He needed to solve the riddle to gain entry. The fellowship could have sat there all night and nothing would have happened. That is a 'take twenty' moment. In this case, you have a dying companion. Time is a factor. You cannot take twenty here. So, I am limiting your rolls to three."
Leo player: picking up dice, then putting them down again. "Wait a minute. Is that three total? Or three for just the medicine roll?"
Dm: "That's three total, player. One roll to stabilize, one roll to give her the potion, and one roll in case you mess up."
Leo player: "Wait, Why would I need to roll to give her the potion?"
Dm: "Because she is unconscious. You may end up drowning her if you pour the potion down the wrong hole." The players groan. "Hey! That is a possibility! Have you tried to drink something while asleep?" Players go quiet. "All right, Leo, roll."
Leo player: "No, wait. I want to make sure you know about my Halfling luck."
Dm: "Oh yeah. Okay, so with Halfling luck, you get a total of four rolls. Fine. Roll."
---back in game--

Leo manages to stabilize Amber. This gives time for Lord Tom to find his healing potion and swig it. Lord Tom rises and walks over to Leo, as the rogue tilts Amber's head back and pours the potion down Amber's throat. "Leo! NO!" yells Lord Tom too late. "You've opened her airway! She's drowning!"

---out of game---
Dm: "No. Lord Tom, you can't say that. Lord Tom doesn't know anything about that."
Tom's player: "I get a roll, too. We can't let Amber die from drowning. It would dishonor her family's name."
Dm: "She's not a Klingon, Player. She's a dwarf."
Tom player: "Still I get a roll, even if its it's player knowledge."
Dm: "Fine Tom, you get to do a medicine check. Roll."
Tom player: rolls and jumps up, pointing at dice. "Ha! I rolled a natural 20! You can't take it back!"
Dm: "Fine, Lord Tom You win. I won't take it back. Lord Tom knows that you did it wrong, Leo."
Leo player; "Then, I let Lord Tom do it."
Dm: "Well, Lord Tom, you better do it right or she is going to die right now."
---back in game---

Lord Tom rushes to Amber's aid. He flips her over and slaps her back. The potion comes gushing out of her airway. "Give me your potion Leo," demands the fighter. Leo fumbles in his pack and retrieves the potion. Meanwhile, Lord Tom rolls Amber back over. He picks her up and slides in behind her to hold her in a sitting position. Leo gives Tom the potion and Tom opens her mouth and slowly pours the liquid into her mouth. He gently rubs her throat to stimulate her to swallow normally.

A few moments later, Amber wakes. The companions take a short rest while Amber recovers. While they do, they explore the rest of the cave and adjoining chamber. They find that they have cleared Cragmaw Cave. The companions find the missing supplies from Lion shield Coster, loot the cave, and leave for Phandalin.