Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Trip to the Lava

Sadly, we made no contact with red hot goopy stuff. But I got some pictures anyways.

This is where a flow from the summer started oozing over an older flow from 1990:

This is where a tree fell and burned, leaving a cast of itself and a pile of ash:
This is a house that got burned down this summer due to a fresh lava flow:

These are some delicate sulfates that precipitated from gases coming through the cracks.
This is a tree cast from a tree that used to be here before the lava surrounded it.
This is a rock wall that got overrun by lava:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Runescape August Update Review

So apparently with my schedule at school and work, daily blogs are hard to do. Inspiration that is not rock-related tends to not turn up in case it has to compete with attitudes and apparent dips (don't ask). I'm going to try to get more consistent at it, but please don't be too severely disappointed if I don't update every day.

So, Runescape has finished all the updates they promised in their Behind the Scenes for August article, which is wonderful of them (they can abide by a schedule!). I haven't done some of these as much as I would like due to homework taking up all my free time, but what's a student to do?

The first week was the treasure trail update that was delayed from July--this saw the release of level 4 clues and many new rewards, including the promise of a treasure trail item in every clue. I can't say I'm a fan of getting a yew compound bow in a level 3 clue, and I've yet to get a level 4 clue in spite of faithfully visiting Bork every day. Still, I'm collecting the biscuits and I like how firelighters are now tradeable. I wish that they had done more work to make the new prayer books better for certain specialties, but all in all I found the update exciting. I really like the idea of meerkats.

The second week was A Void Dance quest that I found engaging and refreshing, although the tracking on Karamja nearly got annoying when I couldn't find the right fern to search for ten minutes. I found the story line engaging and the rewards weren't too shabby for the ease of the quest.

Third update was the Dungeoneering 2.0 update. I haven't really had a chance to try the occult floors but more prestige is a good thing and I immediately bought the Scroll of Efficiency that allows you to save bars while smithing. (Really, Firefox? You think 'smithing' isn't a legit word?).

Last update was the new minigame activity Conquest. I'd like to spend more time at this game if I wasn't currently working on getting all my skills to 80 and gathering seconds for the bonus xp weekend coming up. It definitely rewards the player who can better man their units and use their special spells wisely.

Lastly, check out their Game Bar. It's definitely nice to have, even if you play Runescape in one browser and do your web surfing in another.

That's all for now--hopefully we find some red hot goopy lava tomorrow and I can post some more pics of the stuff.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Words and Information Overloading

So I have three upper division geology classes that have assigned readings, mostly from the books but also online. The thing is, what one class assigns for one day is more equivalent to what I would want to read in a week. These chapters tend to be 30-60 pages of small font words on big sheets of paper and tend to be polysyllabic in nature. For example, for Volcanology, by my professor Ken Hon:

So maybe some of you readers are natural geniuses and can completely understand every word and concept in that paragraph without opening a geology book. I dare you to go read 20 pages of the that right now, in a few hours, because once you finish that you need to pick up one of several books that have readings either due by Saturday or homework due on Monday or a quiz that's happening Friday. That's probably another 100 pages before Saturday, not counting the online readings.

And on Saturday I have to go on an 8 hour field trip starting at 9am, which is earlier than I get up most school days, and although a redeeming feature of the trip promises to be hot flowing lava, it's still eight hours of hiking around and getting toasted and getting too worn out to eat but not too worn out to get drunk when I get home.

So you folks are probably going to hear a lot of Geology from me this semester. Until then, have this picture of hot oozy lava:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Downside of Education

I have nearly survived my second day of school, and I am reveling in the new knowledge gained--I can now find the true dip of any roadcut I happen across. Of course, I live in Hawaii, and such few roadcuts as there are happen to normally be overgrown with ninety thousand different plants, thus obscuring the rock which is probably just basalt in any case.

And therein lies the problem.

Who (besides me and other geology majors) care about the dip and strike of formations? It's not good party talk fodder (unless among fellow geologists) and when you mention it to other people, their eyes are bound to glaze over by the time you get to "roadcut" out of their brain's self-defense system activating. Especially if you've attempted to talk geology more than once to them already.

While other people admire the sunset for it's sparkly colors, I also think about the proton-proton chain and nuclear fusion and the inevitable expansion of our sun in 5 billion year's time, by which date humanity will either have been wiped out or have gotten off the planet. While other people see a stark landscape of jagged lava rock, I see basalt and olivine and sulphuric deposits

That's the thing about education--the more of it you get, the less you are like other people. A person who's wandered the seven seas will be different than the person who has never been more than sixty miles from home. A person who has sat through a single class of any topic will be different from the person who never had a class of that topic.

I'm fairly certain that changing isn't a bad thing. But I find myself having to think about my words so that I can arrange them to match the corresponding level of knowledge of the person listening. If I don't I'll have to repeat myself anyways when they go, "Huhwhat?"

The sun just shines, mkay?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School

Well survived the first day of school, however don't know how well considering I am currently being a boneless pile of goo on the couch. I have made a  pledge to actually read my textbooks this semester and everything is shaping up to be insanely busy.

Best of luck to all students!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Growing Up

I have discovered, to my dismay and objection, that I am being dragged towards grownuphood and responsibility.

Most noticeable are the bills. I used to not have this many bills -- rent, cable, phone, insurance, etcetera etcyada. I remember when my biggest concern was buying pretty colored pens. At the time I was only making a few dollars a week off of doing extra chores, but still.

Now I've got to apply for financial aid so I can support my lifestyle of going to school and getting my brain overloaded three weeks into every semester. And since school is the primary source of my income, I need to make sure the school is willing to let me keep coming under the guise of seeking knowledge, so I burn said brains out and periodically bang my head against a desk so it looks like I'm thinking, or at least solving the homework problems, which can mimic thinking under the right circumstances.

I'm being forced to think about the future three months, two years, and five years ahead of time. Of course, all this is so I can have a decent quality of life (a house I don't have to share, the ability to travel places on occasion, the ability to eat out without breaking the bank) for me and LOML twenty years from now. Or sooner. Hopefully.

I'm warning all you younguns who haven't grown up yet: It's overrated. Trust me on this.

And to all you olduns: know already...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thing of Beauty...

...this is not. But cool methinks. Spent three hours making it and I'm afraid the index fingerpad of my left hand no longer has a print. The price I pay to do cool stuff....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I have to say, probably due to my upbringing as an American, I don't cotton easily to the idea of living in a monarchy. Living in Hawaii, there's a movement to throw off the invaders (USA) and return to the good ol' days of Hawaiian monarchy. Besides all the other issues why this seems silly to me (federal money, for instance), I don't understand why people want to go back to swearing fealty to some human who may or may not be a nice person, but whose position relies on their great-great-great-great-great-great granddaddy being a bigger murdering backstabbing bastard than yours.

Recently, the media tried to bombard our eyeballs with the fact Chelsea Clinton got married and made allusions to American royalty and so on. I avoided most of the articles because I find this fact rather uninteresting. People get married all the time. Why is it worthy of national news just because some ex-president's daughter decides to tie the knot? For that matter, who cares if Angelina Jolie is adopting/spawning another baby? Why is it that everyone besides me seems obsessed with the lives of people they'll never have a coffee with? My interest in actors tends to end with their acting ability and/or the list of movies they've been in; otherwise, I don't really see it as important that they take three sugars and a dash of mustard with their latte every morning.

So I'm not a huge fan of blood determining your position. Maybe it's because I'm not (as far as I know) related to any "royalty" of any country and don't have bragging rights about being the 12,788,222nd person in line to the throne of England. But I've got the admit that the current American system of electing the person who can lie the best in election season isn't panning out so great either. At least we've got a system built in that insures that they have a limited reign in office; instead of regicides we have election years, and so far (with one exception) we haven't had to resort to a civil war or anything. Of course, when it turns out that it's impossible to get a non-liar into office this way we'll have to think of something else.

Any suggestions?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Darkness Trilogy

Eying the Darkness

I stare into the open eyes of a moonless, starless night;
I stare, and I feel the darkness staring back;
I would, O! I would fight for the smallest flickering of light,
But all of eternity is swallowed by the black.
I hear the sounds of darkness, a open and foreign book,
I hear a language I do not understand;
I would love to pierce and comprehend that dark and sullen look,
But the darkness will not yield to my demand.

I feel the sabled hand of night closing in upon my skin,
I feel the living shadow touch my blood;
I would rise to fight the darkness, but the darkness invites me in,
A somber touch before the impending flood.

12:26 AM 8/9/07

Enter the Darkness

Some view it as the bogeyman, some view it same as sin,
But I see another cross to conquer, another scalp to win;
Some see it as a poison, and some on that poison choke--
But (I suspect) they do not see the fire for the smoke.

Some gaze on it with open eyes, some hide behind their dreams;
I see a road to travel, I see a fight to scheme;
There are those untainted souls who have never felt the eyes
Of a night that would stare back, the truth in starless skies.

I have walked in shadow's sanctum, I have danced a round with shade,
I found within myself, my soul, a Power stronger than the grave;
Though I walk a path with darkness, and darkness walks with me,
I have sought--and fought--and won--for my spirit to be free.

12:43 pm 1/4/08

Embracing the Darkness

I look down the black, black road; the stars graze the sky behind me,
I face the rows of red-white eyes, the sun is naught but memory;
The road drives into blackness, darker than midnight’s hue;
I will walk that path of darkness, for the darkness I pursue.

The moon glowers through the shrouded horizon, it glowers—and I seek;
It turns a baleful eye, but its blessing I shan’t beseech;
The blackened rocks stab at the sky, but for me—I know no dread,
For I go to the land of the living through the craters of the dead.

I care not for others’ thoughts; I know where I go;
I feel the night twitch in it’s darkness, lurk in it’s plateau;
I seek not for werewolf blood, nor for a vampric lair,
I go to meet myself—for I am already there.

12:04 am 12/17/08

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Writer's Block

Blank Page

I eye you, you eye me,
This state of affairs is good for me.
Never again will I be this way,
Chock-full of potential with nothing to say,
I revel in my purity of off-grade white,
Never again will I behold this sight—
Try writer’s block, it’s all the rage—
Scribble on me another day—
Why should I know what I will be
Instead of dreaming of what may be?
Let me sing of potential through the night
And procrastinate you right out of my life!

11:14AM 11/14/06 age 22 © Jamie S.

Friday, August 13, 2010


When you think of a bug (or insect, or other creepy crawly), what criteria do you use to make your call?

Does it include:

1. Ability to hiss

2. size greater than a full-grown mouse

3. if #2 is met, the ability to scamper across a wall as though it was a floor

4. speed faster than said mouse on crack

5. resistance to crushing attempts

Welcome to Cockroacha gigantafriggimus, or the Hawaiian Cockroach. They look similar to your standard United States Cockroach, only more terrifying for all the reasons listed above. I have reason to believe that they do not belong to the insect family, but are possibly the result of crossbreeding with alien DNA and/or dinosaurs. Or are the product of some crazy scientist in an underground lab mixing lightning and mad cackles with innocent bug DNA.

It most areas of the United States, the presence of cockroaches at a restaurant serve as a notification of poor sanitary conditions, and that you would probably not want to order the soup…or anything else. In Hawaii their bodies litter the floor around cockroach traps that would murder a rat and you make a spirited attempt to beat the moving ones back from your spam-fried- rice.

At our apartment they have a habit of dropping out of the ceiling in all their four-inch-long carapaced glory and then making a run for the wall. The smaller ones often get away due to the availability of places to hide and cracks in the furniture but if it’s one of the ones spawned by freaking Godzilla, it will charge madly about the room seeking a hiding spot through the hail of books, shoes, and Swiffer handles that are being hurled at it. Even spirited attempts to crush it to death with said Swiffer handle and dismembering it doesn’t always stop it from twitching.

Recently, though, LOML shared an astonishing revelation with me: He will be taking over the world, and he will be using his giant cockroach army to do so. He promised me a mansion on Mars, so I wish him the best of luck. I merely share this with you, my readers, so that when your streets and kitchens are overflowing with six-legged horror-movie-sideshow freaks, you will know what is going on. However, painting “” on all your doorways and windowsills will let them know your allegiance, and they will not enter. Best of luck in the upcoming Cockpocalypse!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


So today I slinked back into the Library to start a new year of working and freezing my butt off in those slightly noisy silenced halls.

I have no idea why, but whenever I work at a place I am less likely to return there in my off time. It’s not like I mind working at the Library, compared to some other places I work. Sure, I am forced to interact with people but I’m getting better at it, and the beauty of the Library is that if I can’t find a book for a patron I can forward them on to the reference librarian. It’s not the same as a customer demanding chocolate soft-serve ice cream when we don’t serve it, never have, while the customer insists that we did last week (Contrary to work posters everywhere, the customer is not always right. The customer can be very, very, wrong, but you must tell them this in a diplomatic fashion).

My first task of the new school year is to sit at the circulation desk and batter down any questions coming my way. Some people wander into the Library quite by accident; I’ve had at least one person come in looking for the bookstore. The good people of the Library have switched up some things in my absence over the summer; the DVDs sprawl over most of the shelves directly behind the circulation desk and I just discovered that the Lost & Found drawer has moved. Apparently we no longer have a 4-day stamp, but DVDs now loan for a week rather than four days. I wonder if this will change once the semester begins and we’re actually open 7 days a week.

Today is the day to enjoy the job; once school actually starts there will be more lost souls wandering in, looking for ID validations or classrooms or the bookstore. I have not been permitted by the higher powers to install a pit trap in front of the desk for the really intractable sort of customer (see paragraph 2), which will be bound to crop up. I should keep track of percentages, but I’m too lazy to do so.

Now suddenly there's a line.Of people. Dammit. And the other person on desk is steadfastly ignoring them.

‘Ello, School Year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I BEAT NOMAD!!@!@!@!@!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the abundance of Runescape post to you non Runescapians.

I BEAT NOMAD!!!!!! of Noman's Requiem quest.

Me trying on my Quest Cape for the first time in months:

Me running across Runescape screaming in triumph:

99 Range

So I got 99 Range today

Thanks to Flaivia, Fire11_11, Mark_H0ffman, Icy_Necros and Dischlerb for showing up to help me celebrate!

Am currently pursuing 88 slayer and 93 hitpoints today. Once I hit 80 def I will try to challenge Nomad again. Here's to hoping I succeed this time!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Update, Or, Why this is not a proper blog post spite of still being sick, I presented a speech about my summer internship project to over 60 people, LOML included, and generally suffered through an entire afternoon of people association in one piece. I'm not working tomorrow, so hopefully I get a chance to recuperate and will be able to get back on a regular posting schedule.

By the way, dropping a ginger tea bag in a mug of hot apple simulates apple cider!

Monday, August 9, 2010

General Congestion

Sorry I haven't put a post up all weekend--I have been getting increasingly congested and the action of not doing anything hasn't made it go away. I find this inconvenient, as today I have to go practice for a speech I'm giving tomorrow. I have no idea why I got sick now as opposed to some other time when I don't have a speech to give.

Anyway, I will try to get back on a regular schedule of regaling you with posts again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Runescape: What I do wrong/right

I ran across this list on The World Portal, by Kitt, a blog specifically about Runescape. I was a little surprised to find that there ARE blogs out there about Runescape and nothing but Runescape. It's really cool.

Anyways, I found this list of supposed "right" and "wrong" ways of playing Runescape. I thought I'd see how I measured up...

"These are all the things I do wrong in RuneScape.
- no super/extreme pots (sometimes check...I get lazy/forget to use them)
- no piety/turmoil (check--can't do turmoil and piety drains prayer like a vampire drains blood)
- no cannon (check--I'd want to make my own cannonballs, and I don't want to do that)
- no Guthan's armor (I have it. I love it.)
- don't complete clues ASAP (usually I do--l00tz for meeee)
- no combat familiars (sometimes I do. What else am I going to do with them?)

- don't run at Ape Atoll (whyever not?)

- don't drop ores (check--if I'm mining, I probably want the ores for smithing)

- no servant (Got one. Minions are cool)
- no oak doors (check--I did  oak tables)

- no graahking (check--don't have any)
- no abyssal minion (got them. So I use them)
- don't bank at ZMI (check--don't use ZMI)
- use all pouches (check)

- no daily herbs runs (check--until I want to empty my bank of seeds)

- no red chins (got 91 hunter off these)

- don't rush (check)
- don't run 5:5 larges (check)
- kill everything except dino cows ( dino cows, personally)
- check every room (check)
- haven't switched to 2h (check--mostly range or mage)"

Score: 14/21.

Well, I play to have fun, not to make money or level in the most efficient manner possible. Isn't that how it's supposed to go?

By the way, if you like reading Runescape blogs, Kitt's blog (The World Portal) is very good. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Kind of Gamer am I?

While reading Runescape Reader's Digest Blog I ran across the following link purported to tell me what kind of gamer I am:
Gamer DNA test

I admit I have to agree with the results, i.e. 113% explorer, 67% achiever, 53% killer and 33% socializer, making me a Explorer Achiever.
Your gamerDNA is:
The Explorer motto: "No stone unturned!" Description:

It's not so much the wandering around and poking about, but that euphoric eureka moment the Explorer strives for. The joys of discovery do not necessarily involve geography, real or virtual. They may derive from the mental road less traveled, the uncovering of esoteric or hidden knowledge and it's creative application. Explorers make great theory crafters. The most infinitesimal bit of newness can deliver the most delicious zing to an Explorer.
Secondary influences

* Explorer Killers enjoy seeing the world, meeting interesting people...and killing them. EKs love all discovery, but finding an edge over the competition is best. Always seeking new opportunity, an EK likely knows the ten best places to find certain types of opponents, as well as ten different ways for taking them down.
* Explorer Achievers have been there, done that and have the fact they have a plethora of t-shirts, badges, trophies and other rewards. EAs are the completionists of the gamer world. They like to find new places, quests, easter eggs, unlocks, maps etc. and check them off as have, visited or beaten. Like real world travelers, EAs enjoy collecting memorabilia that helps them relive their experiences later.
* Explorer Socializers are the glue of the online world. Not only do they like to delve in to find all the cool stuff, but they also enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. Explorer socializers power the wikis, maps, forums and theory craft sites of the gamer world.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

11 technologies going extinct?

I was randomly browsing the Interweb when I came across the following article:

11 Technologies in Danger of Going Extinct

Here is my opinion on the subject:

1. Fax Machines. Since the advent of the scanner I seldom use one unless it's required to submit an application for some scholarship or internship. I just don't need it, so I'm cool with it going the way of the velociraptor.

2. Landline Phones. Okay, I exclusively use a cell phone, but I can see that, if you had a business, a land line might be better.

3. Beepers. I take it the person refers to what I've been taught was a pager. Don't use one, don't know anyone who does. You might as well call, right?

4. DVD players. I suspect the author is a little optimistic about HD and Blu-Ray completely outing the DVD player any time soon. All I know is, the DVD subscription for Netflix is cheaper than it is without the Blu-Ray addition. Blu-rays cost more in general and require a special player. Neither of which I, a hard working poor college student, have.

5. Film projectors. Long live the film projectors in a yay-digital-sort-of-way.

6. The Computer Mouse. I don't like pads, the phones and laptops I see with touchscreens are always smeared with finger grease and I can't get the same level of control with a pad as with a mouse. So bugger off, High and Mighty Extinction Predictor.

7. Cell Phone Charger. Some magic wireless charging pad from Apple is supposed to replace this? I'm sure it's possible but I don't see one coming into my life anytime soon.I like the idea though. One question: Will it only work on Apple products, and will it need software updates that will randomly disable it if you jailbreak it to work on non Apple products?

8. Plasma TVs. Meh.

9. Credit Cards. These are supposed to be replaced by a RFID chip in a Smartphone handset. Well, maybe not all of us like/can afford a Smartphone. What if someone hijacks the information off your frequency? And if this is supposed to replace everything a wallet would carry, where do I put my spare pennies? Not a fan of this idea.

10. E-book Readers. I still prefer real books. Yes, I'm a bit archaic. But curling up with any sort of electronic device to read before bed seems off to me. Plus you don't have to worry about the batteries running out on a long trip.

11. iPod. Sure, it can be replaced. Have item that can listen to music and do other stuff? Sounds like an appropriate case of item evolution to me.

So heres to a brave new world--as long as the computer mouse can come with.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


 No, I'm not a broken machine, but this site Technorati wants me to verify my humanness, I mean, control of this blog, so that they can verify that I'm really doing it. Anyway, back to the title topic:

Sometimes I feel as though I must question my supposedly human ancestry. There are factors that lead me to believe that I might be a descendant of some sort of reptile or otherwise cold-blooded creature.

The ability of certain body parts to get colder than the ambient air temperature is one such clue.

I've heard it all about poor circulation and "a cold hand leads to a warm heart" and all related words that people babble when they are momentarily taken aback by the shock of reaching for what they thought was a human hand to find that they are grasping a five-fingered ice cube. I can tolerate an air conditioned building without needing a jacket unless there is some sort of air movement, in which case I will sporadically start shivering because I can't manage to pull myself any further into my skin. Several hours of working in an ACed environment, sweater or no sweater, will leave my skin cold to the touch for several hours even after I leave said enclosure.

It's really bad in any room I share with LOML; he could manage a sweat in the Artic in midwinter while I, as I just mentioned, freeze at a puff of slightly chilly air. Any room with an AC control is worse; he'll crack it down to sub-zero temperatures while I'll wrap up in three or four blankets to keep from locking up in uncontrollable shivering. At least we live in Hawaii, so there's a bottom limit on his attempts to freeze me to death.

Sometimes I get so used to an ACed environment that the goosebumps on my arms take me by surprise.

This has come up because I seem to have misplaced my sweater, and my office at work is being maintained at a frigid 72.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I'd go outside to warm up but that makes the inside just that much frigider.

Plus it now looks like it's going to rain.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Runescape July Update Review

Warning: Unless you play Runescape, you may have no interest in the following blog.

The month of July was the first month in over a year that a Behind the Scenes was released for. I've always like Behind the Scenes as it gave you plenty of time to anticipate an update and gave you some reassurance that everyone at Jagex (Runescape's publisher) hadn't suddenly died and left a cold empty office behind.

So, July has ended. We got 2 out of 3 updates, with the last one being pushed back into August, so I'm just going to review the two we got.

Love Story: A charming quest, really. A mildly annoying factor of Runescape quests is that your character is usually gullible and can say some really silly stuff. You start the quest off by finding a ring a little whiny girl lost and then get challenged by a female mage saying that she hates all adventurers and that you and the Wise Old Man should come fight her. I'm not going to reiterate the entire quest here, but I will say, the cutscenes and story were really cool, and the rewards were awesome. A very enjoyable quest.

With the Love Story update most of the dragon graphics were updated. They now look more scaly and dragonlike, but I think their tales are too small to be proper dragon tails.

The next update is the commonly referred to 1.5 Dungeoneering update. This saw the release of various resource dungeons all over Runescape that gave you a one-time Dungeoneering xp find and permitted you to access some new resource spots. Very cool. The construction hotspot and group gatestone teleport were also much appreciated on my part. I feel that the class rings left something to be desired, as for most of the ring levels you are paying a lot of tokens for a very small % increase.

All in all, a good update month. I was disappointed that the new Treasure Trails did not come out but other than that, it was quite decent.

Adventures of Ravenroar Company II

Dear Lady Cierra,

As I left off in my previous letter, the monks of the Order of the Sundered Chain, after we rescued them, implored us to pursue the orcs that had taken their artifacts from their monastery. So, the night being young, we set off through the wine cellar that the orcs had entered from, and followed a maze of tunnels in pursuit of the artifacts. It was a strange; in one room we ran across a statue of a hydra, which seems to indicate that these passageways had previously been occupied, probably by dwarves based on the work. I did not have time to look thoroughly, since we were fighting an ourag (a cross between an orc and an ogre) and several goblins at the time. After several more encounters with orcs we came upon a chamber that appeared to have had been used as a dwarven forge. Lava was pouring in through the far wall, making the room hellishly hot. There were several orcs in it, as well as an ourag and a goblin mage of the most unholy magic possible. The ourag was doing battle with a dwarf paladin, attempting to force him backwards into the advancing lava. We set about engaging the others on our way to reach the paladin; we soon discovered that they were a tougher set than we had encountered previously. It was a long and drawn out battle, and I was hard put to using my cleric powers to keep the others alive. The dwarf paladin (his name, we learned later, is Kalin), was brought near death several times while I struggled to keep him alive. Ataeo was pushed into a furnace, severely injuring him before we were able to put the ourag down. Thallimain and I then dragged Ataeo and Kalin out of that room and back to the monastery so that they could both recover.

After a night of rest Ataeo had seemed to recover fully but Kalin still was in a state of shock. Through questioning we learned that his dwarven city had been wiped out by the orcs and he had set off the lava flow through the tunnels to keep any more from coming to the upper world that way. He then stated there was another way through which they might come up. Ataeo and I followed him while Thallamain returned to Overlook to tell them of our success and caught up with us before we had reached the other place, which was a series of vents in the earth. It took us the better part of two days to reach the vents, and when we had crested the valley that contained them, we saw a party of adventurers battling some orcs. We rushed to their aid, but most of the party had been torn apart before our eyes by the time we reached them. We rapidly dispatched the orcs and discovered one of the party members was alive. Rather, I had healed him to consciousness and he promptly tottered off and started casting spells at the remaining orcs. Once the last orc was dead, we found that his name was Alex Cloudbringer, he was a sorcerer, and that he had been a member of the now-late party the Farstriders, and their mission was to close these vents off from orc access. The dwarf Kalin proceeded to climb down into one of the vents, and we followed. We saw tens of dead orcs, slain by the Farstrider party. We haplessly ran across some luminous oozes consuming the orcs, and then they attempted to attack us and one had covered Ataeo when Cloudbringer fired a bolt of lightning at it, killing it and injuring Ataeo in the process. But we were grateful to recover Ataeo in one piece.

Kalin then led us into a tunnel whose sides were covered with luminous slime. Very disturbing. The tunnel opened into a massive room, revealing the walls and gates of an abandoned dwarven stronghold. What happened next is almost beyond the telling, but I will do the best I can in my next letter.

Blessings of the Raven Queen,