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Year 120: Eleasis 3:

Let me see... When I came around, the fight was nearly over, the last enemies falling as I shakily pulled myself to my feet. I think Vincent healed me, I always feel really woozy after he heals me. Following the fight, we took a quick rest to catch our breath, and I wrote my last diary entry. Then a bunch of stuff happened all at once. The entire day is a huge blur in my mind, frightening and exciting all at once, and now it's the end of the day I'm stunned by the immensity of what I've seen. I'll put down what I can remember.

So, first of all, while we were resting the fire spoke to us. Argent realised that it was a communication spell of sorts, and that the central hall was asking for a status report, having heard fighting. Faking a jubilant response she managed to convince them that there had been a battle and that the incursion had been captured, but we knew that the bluff wouldn't last for long and that we had to move fast.

We ventured into the Azer halls, spinning a dagger to choose our path at each turn. Narrowly avoiding a large fire elemental guardian (that would have turned out nasty) we instead encountered a magical alarm which Argent and Ayeena stopped to deactivate while the other four of us went to confront the nearby dragon.

A real, fire breathing, not-at-all fictional dragon! It was right there, raging and stomping and muttering in draconic. Being posessed of our senses temporarilly, we hid around the corner so I could listen in. (I always liked draconic as a language, it's very efficient.) The poor thing was obviously very unhappy, and five minutes of careful listening in explained why. He was a captive down here, under the thrall of the forces that kept him as a slave. When I'd heard enough Vincent and I decided to give him the option of teaming up with us.

Rounding the corner into the room where he was kept revealed that he had handlers watching over him, but they were just two troglodites, even if one was carrying a dragonbane whip. A minute of discussion about this situation in elvish (I didn't want to use draconic, the troglodites would obviously speak it) convinced the dragon that it was time for lunch, and the whip is now in my pack. Our agreement was simple, we would continue on our way to cause a cave-in while the dragon caused a distraction. We'd meet up in the cavern above and in return for his help we'd bring him past the dwarves.

My biggest fear about our operation had been allayed, at least for the moment. I hadn't wanted to continue down the riverbed with troglodites at our backs, it wouldn't take long to notice their guardpost was taken, and as we progressed we'd have to worry about scouting parties hitting our rear. With the dragon causing havoc in the tunnels, our enemies would rationalise their missing guard post and believe he took it out, and not suspect a party of adventurers. Terry and Vincent did some clever things with the bodies to make it look like they'd fallen to a dragon (a lot of fire was involved) and we progressed back down the riverbed once again.

At the bottom of the riverbed, we came across a sandy beach in a small cave. There was a hole in the ground leanding downwards at a very steep angle. Vincent lowered Marigold into it on a rope, and about a minute later we heard a squeak and the sound of fighting, so we hauled her back up. Marigold explained that she'd seen a monster down there under a pool of water, and it had reached up and snapped at her. Thinking fast I tied a rope around myself and jumped into the hole, hoping that I could hit the water before it saw me coming and freeze the pool solid with Tyreal.

Vincent was having none of it, and immediately hauled me back out of the hole, then spent a minute yelling at me spoiling all element of surprise that we might have had. When he calmed down, he realised that I was in fact the best person to send down anyway, because I'm the only one who can climb and see in the dark, nevermind being able to freeze the pool solid.

It turns out that Marigold had been a little conservative when explaining the situation at the bottom of the tunnel, the "pool of water" was in fact a layer of sewage and waste that covered the entire width of a cavern with a steeply sloping floor. The "creature" she had indicated was perhaps a foot long, and not the ten foot monstrosity that actually lurked down there. Never trust the eyes of someone who can't see in the dark I guess.

The creature lunged up at me, snapping at my legs, and I smacked it in the face with Tyreal. Above me I heard Marigold diving back into the hold to "rescue" me. As I turned my head to shout the creature lashed out accross my face with a tentacle and then suddenlt Marigold was falling past it. As it turned its attention to her I caught her, hauling her above me to the rope where she caught on. The creature sunk back into the mire to coil for another strike, and I took this opportunity to slash the rope between myself and Marigold, fall to the pool and freeze it solid. This at least bought us enough time to get the rest of the party down the shaft into the cavern.

Once again I spent the fight trying to escape being restrained by monsters while the party rescued me, for all of my heroics leading the party on a great quest, I just can't fight very well. The monster was defeated in fairly short order by Terato, who called it a "carrion crawler" whatever that was supposed to be, and as the ice melted we were faced with a dilemma. Vincent and Terato wanted to drop one of the runes here and head back up to the Azer stronghold, but I had a feeling in my gut that we wanted to swim below it. I submerged Tyreal in the water to see if he could feel the extent of it, to see if it extended below the Azer hall, and after a fair deal of confusion eventually worked out that the water here spread over a vast area, and it was indeed the water table. Eventually we decided it would be worth seeing if we could have someone swim under the hall and check it out, perhaps it would be possible to put a rune there as well.

I had a very strong feeling that this was something I needed to do, I can't explain why I felt it though. Vincent wanted to go himself of course. He's very stubborn, and as much as he's happy to watch the others put themselves in harm's way, he seems to go out of his way to protect me and shield me from doing anything dangerous. It's so frustrating! - Nevertheless, as stubborn as he is, he always conceeds to logic, and there were several reasons why it needed to go.

First, Tyrael was the only weapon the party had that was much use under water, the blade positively glowed with power the deeper it was submerged, and I was the only one able to wield him. Second, I'm the best swimmer in the group by a stretch, especially as I'm a lot smaller than Vincent and go through less air (which would be in short supply.) Third, I have a set of armour that we picked up from the shrine to Shar in the undead city, and I can use it to transform from cloth to chainmail with a simple command word, thus allowing me to swim unhindered, but remain armoured in case of trouble. Fourth... I really felt that I had to go. Still, Vincent insisted I take someone with me to back me up, so Marigold hopped into the bag of holding, and I went on my way.

The swim there was quite pleasant, the submerged corridors were cool and relaxing, the silence strangely comforting after all the chaos that had preceeded it. I swam with the bag of holding in one hand (to breathe from) and Tyreal in the other, to light the way. I also strapped the amphora of water to my back, as I quickly worked out that turning it on provided me with a fair deal of propulsion by itself, allowing me to swim significantly faster than my own strength would let me. I used my arms and legs primarilly to steer myself, and after a little while got quite used to speeding along. I'd borrowd Vincent's goggles to stop the water getting in my eyes, and before long I saw a large hallway opening up before me.

Ahead of me, I could see a large submerged hallway, the walls glimmering with a sheen from a layer of ice. The centre of the chamber was dominated by a huge spherical... thing. I'd have said it was a sphere of shifting glowing iridescent water, but I was already underwater, so that made little sense. The sphere was made of water... only more so. In front of it there was a floating shadow I could hardly make out. It had the form of a female, human or elf, but it was an outline in my vision, obscured. I figured that this was an elemental of some kind, so I swam to her and greeted her.

It surprised me that I could speak clearly in this place, but for some reason I could, and we talked, briefly. I was aware that I only had a limited amount of air after all. She said that the Azer were her enemies too, and I offered up Tyrael to her, and the other elementals that were gathering, but she refused. "You have not done what you came to do." she said, yet I felt that this was the place that Tyrael and I would part. Confused, I decided to explain the plan and ask her advice. 'The Azer will not die if you simply bury them, they will escape eventually. To kill them, you will need to flood them.' 'How?' (I asked, pleading) 'Place your device in their airlock before you leave.' - She gestured to a large covering in the ceiling.

The "airlock" was a large circular steel doorway set in the roof of the cavern. It was covered with runes and I had no idea how to open it, so I pulled Marigold out of the bag and asked her advice. Marigold responded by happily setting off the explosive trap set in the runes, which was extremely harrowing, and then opened the door. We climbed up into a chamber and she immediately proceeded to start opening a door on the other side... that is, until I pointed out it connected to the Azer main hall. We set the rune on the doorway and left. As I made it back to the entrance of the corridor, everything becaome clear. I'd seen the answer before when I was very small

My father had brought in a rock from the garden which had a large crack in it. "There's something very important in this rock" he told me. 'How do I get it out?' I was only four, so I had no idea, 'Magic?' I asked, wondering if this was another lesson. 'Exactly, now which is the best magic to do it?' I didn't know, so I guessed a few things and then he showed me. He took the rock and filled the crack with water, then used a spell to freeze the water solid. The rock broke clean down the middle. 'Of course, if you couldn't cast magic, you could always just leave it out overnight...'

If I froze all the water in the water table, it'd crack all the rock in the immediate area, rather than just causing a cave-in, the runes would colapse everything into the water table. I pulled out a couple of shields, said goodbye to Tyreal, and then I cast him aside.

I didn't have long to escape at this point, so I grabbed a couple of shields from the bag, turned, and commanded the amphora to expel water as fast as it could, then I held on for dear life, using the shields to steer as well as I could. The temperature was falling dramatically, and I needed to be out of there as quickly as possible. I used every ounce of my strength simply cornering and before I knew it I was back with the party and we were running.

I've never run so hard in my life. It's not worth going into all the details, but simply freezing the water table started to colapse the caverns, and we got out as quickly as we could. The dragon met us back at the guard point, where he was fighting off a horde of troglodites that had started pouring out into the tunnels. Marigold tossed the third and final room down one of their maintennance tunnels, and we turned and fled to the dwarves. The waiting army fought a tactical retreat, against an oncoming horde, and in the distance we could see the Azer urging their troops towards our line. We retreated up the staircase.

Vincent and Marigold were ahead of the group informing the new dwarves we met that the dragon was on our side and not to shoot it Vincent stayed with the dragon and Marigold rushed off to warn as many people as possible. Terato and Argent were always one turn of the staircase above us, raining down arrows and spellfire onto the troglodites that approached. I stayed with the front line, directing dwarves as best I could, someone handed me a huge waraxe, and I swung it in desperation to keep the kobolds and troglodites at bay. Ayeena spent the fight safeguarding me, which was sweet of her, I was in no state to do it myself. When we got to the top of the staircase, Argent said "drop it" and the elders pulled a lever which colapsed the staircase entirely, trapping our enemies below us, then finally I said the command word to set off the runes.

The reaction of the dwarves was briefly jubilant, and then suddenly worried as they listened to the sounds below. There was a roaring sound from below us, like a great torrent of water flowing, echoed off the walls of the shaft and magnified a hundred times. Then the elder of Halt said "She really did bring the sea. We will need to leave this place." and the two elders stood there looking at each other. Then I realised - the dwarves of Rest had been prepared for this for hundreds of years, they were ready to leave at a moment's notice, already packed, just say the word. The dwarves of Halt on the other hand, had built a life here, they had no preparations form being uprooted, and yet their homes were soon going to flood with water. I looked at them both and folded my arms. 'It doesn't matter who was right and who was wrong, that isn't the question here. What's happened has happened and you can't change it. What's important here is that everyone gets out safely, right?' I looked at the elder of Rest and addressed him directly 'I want you to send as many people as you can spare to help with the evacuation of Halt, you're prepared for this, so I know you have them.' That seemed to spur them on, the Elder of Halt looked across at his counterpart and said 'In a time such as this, I'm not too proud to ask for your help'. Then Vincent piped up with 'Well, you might have been wrong about the prophecy, but at least you had a lot more fun over the last 100 years'. Both of them laughed at that last (dwarf humour I guess) and suddenly orders were being issued to evacuate both cities to the surface.

Well! what a day that was! - I sit writing this here at the bottom of the rift, the sea has welled up to cover the entrance to the dwarf cities. The flow has slowed significantly, but it is still coming, cool clear water that's good to drink and bathe in, for now at least. The dragon has bid us farewell, he has gone back to confront his sister, who sold him into slavery in the first place. I convinced him to terrorise a few gnoll cities on the way, and he took out a gnoll scouting party for me because I asked nicely. The dwarves now have no home, but they all seem ferverently convinced that I will lead them to a new one.

Personally, I think Yare could be quite nice.