Campaign of the Month: January 2009

Pursuit of Destiny

Journal Day 5

Making camp in room 7 worked well, and as we were preparing to leave in the morning we heard sounds coming from room 1 through a cleverly hidden sending stone. The voices were unmistakably Draconian. Readying our weapons we all moved into positions out of sight from the open doorway. As stealthy as a shadow in the night Gnasc moved to the leaver at the back of the room and moved the switch to open up to room 1. As expected we saw three Draconians, on holding the still bleeding head of an Eladrin, their backs all to us, looking at the spiral staircase hading down to the lock room. But to our surprise there between the Draconians and us there was a lone member of the Samekin Militia. His bow drawn, the man looked to be questioning his surroundings, and unsure of what he was doing, he was clearly not with the Draconians. Though quiet, the door opening was not silent and the Draconians turned toward the door, with us hidden out of sight, they only saw the one member of the Militia. The large silver Draconian wasted no time leaping across the pit that was the spiral stairs and crashing into the poor man. At his movement we all sprang into action. Sprinting past the door, Gnasc moved toward the lever in the back, cursing our stupidity for not having closed it the night before. His path was cut off by a bronze Draconian. Shield lowered, I slammed into the large Silver, knocking him back a step closer to the pit. Only his large wings saved him from plummeting down. Stepping into the doorway Celence called forth howling winds that filled the room with a defining roar and forced the Silver and Bronze over the edge of the pit, crashing down the stairs. The silver’s wings saved him some, but the bronze lay near the middle of the stairs, his eyes rolling from the fall. As quickly as Celence moved Gnasc spurn on the lever, the stairs reforming back into the solid floor. Even faster still the Silver flew out of the pit, but the Bronze was not so lucky. The sicking crunch of it’s death rang our through the whole chamber. With numbers even more clearly on our side it did not take for us to finish the remaining two Draconians. The Militiamen was able to gain his wits, and landed more than a few fair shots from his bow, one killing the final draconian. Gathering our things, Celence performs a ritual of Arcane Lock and seals the chamber off from everyone but our party. To secure the room Marrek also drives a nail of sealing into the outer doors.

Day Four Updated

This morning we haded toward the ruins of Shosckesh,or Thornwatch. The ruins were overrun by the the encroaching brier, and there was a small camp of Draconians who were also investigating the ruins. Marrek and Gnasc did a little reconnaissance, and with more than a little luck we were able to incapacitate the Gold Draconian before he could alert the other’s to our presence. With his Hat of Disguise Gnasc was able to send 1/2 the camp away in search of some Elves (needed for entering the ruins we believe), and we made quick work of all the remaining Draconians but one, who fled into the woods. Celence was able to open a hidden door using her blood, and it led down a long hallway that ended at double doors. The Left had a large tree carved into it and the right an image of Tiamat. Beyond the door was a room with statues lining the wall, blood stains on the floor, and near the back two control levers, one going only up and down, and one with up, down, left, and right. Below the levers on the floor eight holes were carved disappearing into darkness. The control lever changes the destination of the only door in the room, I have attempted to map out what we have discovered below. Room One: This is the starting room Room Two: This room has five statues in it, and a large chasm that is filled with a forest of silver poles. It seems that one could, if they were careful, walk across the poles to the control lever on the other side. When we entered this room we were able to get a better look at the statues, the three closest seemed to be Eladren magic users,and the two on the back wall near the switch appeared to be fighters. Peering into the chasm we dropped a torch and found it only about twenty feet deep. Gnasc wasted no time punching one of the statues and bringing them all to life. Rook and Celence double teamed the statue in the middle, knocking it pron and then back onto the poles. The poles are not too hard to navigate, but the statues were able to stand on them due to their size. The statues were not an easy fight, and it took us a while to discover the weakness of the statues. By dropping down into the Chasm we were able to cut the poles out from underneath them their maneuverability was cut down in the tight quarter of the poles and we were able to finish them off. Room Three: This room as a large pit of Acid between the door and the control lever with giant chains strung across. The chain were easily crossable, but as Gnasc started across them, a giant Hydra rose from the acid. Using the crystals from his Pouch of Frozen Passage Marrek froze the Hydra and the Acid in place and together we made quick work of the Hydra. Room Four: This room had giant statues of Eladrin warriors holding up the ceiling, and though it was clear they were magical in nature the ceiling appeared to be held firm. Moving across the room to the lever Rook triggered the trap that brought the statues to life. As we quickly discovered the ceiling was sturdy but as the statues fell illusions of the crumbling ceiling assaulted our scenes. Moving decisively Rook discovered the paths of the control pad, and Celence was able to destroy the statues and teleport the entire party to safety. Room Five: This room has an image of Tiamat on the floor and ten doors around the perimeter. The control panel is in the center of the room. Gnasc dislikes this room more than any other we have encountered. When we entered this room the walls shimmered and our door disappeared. In it’s place 10 doors, pairs of doors for each of the chromatic dragons, took it’s place. And from the piles of dead bodies, a dragon shaped Flesh Ghoul appeared. The Ghoul didn’t move to attack us, but watched us closely. Severus recognized the trap for what it was, and informed me that 9 of the doors would be traps and one would be the true door. Severus also warned to stay away from the Ghoul at all costs, being close to it would prove deadly. A prayer to the Raven Queen told Rook that we needed to “Feed it death, or kill it.” Celence Started the Hand of Fate ritual, and we all circled around her to protect her. When it was done, the hand points us to the correct door, and when we open it the other 9 disappear. Rook moves to the beast and throws the switches, and even being death brought back it was clear just the aura of the beast hurt him, but he endured and we were able to move back into the the first room. Room Six: This room has four statues of Eladrins, similar to those in the fourth room, except two are spell casters. There is also a large bowl shaped alter in the middle filled with a red liquid. Celence recognized the liquid in the bowl as Blood Myst, and that it would empower the statues guarding the switch. Covering the Bowl with the Walls of Hestauar, Celence sealed in the mist and the statues posed no threat at all Room Seven: This is a square room with a giant crystal in the center. The large Gem was carved to hold the likeness of a Beholder, with each of it’s eyes pointing at different areas of the room. We covered each of the eyes around one side with spare robes and bedrolls. As we worked the switch eyes would flare up and attack, shooting rays of different energy in the direction they were facing, the only damage the crystal was able to do was burn up Marrek’s bedroll before we discovered the latches below it and tipped it over on it’s side shattering it. Room Eight: This room appears to be an old library. When we entered the room we were attacked by swarms of books and parchment. Our attacks seemed to do nothing to them, but they were noticeably hurt by fire attacks such as Rook’s dragon’s breath. Gnasc lit his iron fist on fire, and they seemed to be a little more vulnerable to his swings. Seeing the uselessness of my sword, I grabbed the nearest table and set it on fire, thinking to use it as a large flaming club. But I underestimated how awkward it was to swing, and I only succeeded in setting the room on fire. While the room filled with smoke and the heat became unbearable, we did what we could to defeat the Book Storms. When all was said and done, we almost died this room, but we managed to escape, more than a little singed. Map Map We are back in the first room now, three of the holes in the floor are now brightly lit though we can see nothing but light down them. Celence has ended a ritual or rest, and there are more rooms to explore. Back in the first room all of the slots on the floor are lit and there is a new inscription on the wall above the Up-Down switch. “You have found your way through, come below and behold the lock of Shoshkesh.” When we moved the switch a spiral staircase opened in the floor and below we found a room over run with briers, and in the back such a tight knot of brier it could only be the heart we were sent to find. Cutting our way to the hear, we uncovered a mural on the wall showing the story of how the Eladrin helped Bahumut trap the green head of Tiamat in the earth. When we removed the brier heart a small colony of giant ant men swarmed us, but after the trials in the above rooms these ant-men were nothing. We have taken up in the Crystal room (room 7) where Celence has used the fragments of the statue to call forth her magic house so we may rest.

Day Three

As dawn broke we were visited by a Centaur. As he entered the clearing grass spread like it was spilled across the mud, and he introduced himself to us as Chislev, Tree Lord of Sai Thysaer, or the Edgewood. He spoke to us about the encroaching Thorn Creep, his spies told him the Dragon-men are searching for something. What exactly he could not say but he was sure they had not found it yet though. He asked us to travel to the Thorn Creep and search out one of the monster’s “Briar Hearts” and bring it to him. He hopes it might give him some clue as to how to fight the Thorn Creep.

It was clear that it was taxing him to visit this far north into the Dead Bog. We got a little more information from him about the surrounding area, and agreed to set out to the Thorn Creep. There we hoped to learn more of the Draconians and how they are tied to Tiamat.

We headed East toward the Creep, and as we move into it ground becomes more packed and easier to travel. The vines were thicker here, and clearly moving westward. While they feel unnatural, they were not supported by any magic that we could sense. After a few hours of travel we came across a fountain. From the center a silver rod with a silver hawk perched atop rose. The hawk was facing east, and the fountain radiated a strong magical presence. Though all around us the Thorn Creep was choking the life from all the vegetation, trees covered in vines as thick as a man’s leg, inside the water however was reflected a scene of silver trees in almost black soil. Through a little experimentation we discovered that it seemed to be some type or portal.

With nothing else to try, Rook tied a rope around my waste and I hopped into the fountain. A brief sensation of falling later I was standing on the black soil. The rope around my waste went right into the fountain, and when I peered back into it I could see my friends peering back. On my side a similar hawk sat facing west. After a little thinking, Celence cast a spell to call down a burst of light from the sky into my side of the fountain. At the same time Rook flew into the air and saw the burst far of fin the distance to the east, the same way the hawk was facing.

Coming back through, we experimented a little turning the hawk in different directions, we found nothing to the north, what looked like the Edgewood to the south, and to the west the Dead Bog and a crew of Draconians looking back at us. We seemed to have surprised them, perhaps they too were discovering about the fountain. One tried to reach through the fountain at us, and we quickly turned the hawk.

A few moments passed as we tried to put together out thoughts on how this fountain worked, and then all the sudden amongst us a Brass Draconian appeared. He was quickly followed by two more Draconians, a Silver and two Coppers. Working together we began to make quick work of the Draconians, and as things began to fully favor us one of the Brass yelled to one of the Coppers to get back and “Tell Arak.” The Copper in front of me jumped through the portal to the Dead Wood, and without giving it a second thought I followed after thinking only to protect my friends and our location from this “Arak.”

My friends finished the fight on their side of the fountain and moved to watch as the Copper Draconian on my side sliced the silver rod in half, both portals going dark.

The fight was not an easy one on my side, my brash decision was not well thought out, and what I did not know was that Copper Draconians explode in an acid burst when they are killed. Thought I just killed the Draconian, it’s acid burst caught me as well.

I am unsure exactly what happened over the course of the rest of the day, I laid next to the fountain unable to move and oblivious to the world around me. As the sun was setting, I was greeted by the face of my friends. Apparently they had began moving east after the fight, and ran into a Treant who was entangled by the Thorn Creep. They tore the vines free and and with some help from the Treant discovered the directions of my fountain.

With little time before night was upon us Celence, Marrek and I attempted to fix the fountain. With a a bit of luck and a prayer Marrek managed to bind the two halves of the silver rod, and the fountain blinked back to life. Directing it south we jumped to the Edgewood and made camp for the night along the Semerin River.

Day Two

Nights in the Estwild are nearly as oppressive as nights in the Underdark. The thick canopy all but block the stars, and more than a few creatures could be heard circling the small radius of our campfire.

As the sun began to lighten the sky on the morning of our second day, a thick fog rolled in bringing with it the scent of winter. A dryad crouched at the edge of the clearing, he introduced himself to us as Vale, and he informed us that we were granted his aid. When we asked by who, he motioned to the forest and said that our actions against the Draconians had not gone unnoticed. All of us looked to Marrek, who seemed to feel we could trust him, so Vale joined us as we made our way to the Dead Bog.

After a few hours of walking, each hour harder than the last as we got closer to the Bog, we came to a clearing. In the middle a large Black Tree was surrounded by brier bushes. The tree was clearly different than the rest of those in the Estwild. The limbs of this Black Tree grew into grasping cages, and upon inspection the cages held Draconians. The sight of them trapped so more than amused Gnasc, and his taunting chuckle earned him a dagger thrown from one of the cages. The throw was weak, and Gnasc caught the knife laughing all the harder.

By this time the Bog was up to our waists, and movement was as exhausting as any fight we have been in. After some time we came across the remains of a wagon train, though the wagons looked to be in fine repair they were sunk deep in the mud. There was no sign of any living creature near the wagons, the oxen who pulled them or the drivers. Upon inspection we found one of the wagons had some life sized statues of Draconians and Bullywugs, and a chest that was radiating arcane energy. Proceeding with caution Gnasc inspected the lock as the rest of us inspected the statues, many of these creatures had looks of fear or surprise on their faces. Gnasc concluded that he cold not open the lock, and as Marrek fished through his pockets for his skeleton key, Vale tried to pick up the chest.

The moment he touched it, Vale’s hand turned to stone, and as the rest of us watched in horror the stone spread across his hole body. As we all stared blankly in surprise, the still air was cut by the cackle of an old woman outside the wagon.

The small woman outside did not look alarmed as we hopped out of the wagon, the bog pulling us back in to our waists. Though she was a short woman she towered over us in the Bog, for she did not sink and an aura of power emanated from her. She offered to help us if we in turned helped her. Seeing no other choice we agreed to help her and with a dismissive wave of her hand we rose out of the Bog and Vale stumbled from the wagon no longer stone.

Following the woman we soon arrived at a small clearing with an even smaller hut. She pointed to the south and told us that there was a Bullywug warren she needed us to eradicated. Seeing no other choice we headed south and found the warren. While crude fighters, the Bullywugs knew how to use their surroundings to their advantage. They had a cleverly hidden trap just inside the door, but it was nothing we couldn’t jump once Marrek found it for us.

The first room of this warren held a few surprised Bullywugs that we quickly ended. As we followed the tunnel around and discovered three Bullywugs shaking staffs around a mud pit. The surface of the mud pit was roiling. Acting quickly Vale and I crash into two of the three casters knocking them away from the pool, and Marrek used the magic of his javelin to teleport the third from the pool. Though we made quick work of the Bullywugs we did not act fast enough. A Slaag emerged from the mud pit and hit Marrek, implanting a slaag embryo in the Warlord. Though together we were able to subdue the Slaag, it took all of Marrek’s strength to force the embryo out before it fully attached to his skull.

The last room of the warren had a few Bullywugs gathered around a Bullywug Mud Lord who had just finished opening a portal to the elemental plane. As mud began to pour into the room, Rook filled it with fire killing all but the Mud Lord. With Severus’s heightened sensitivity to the arcane powers of the world I could feel a being of great power trying to tear the portal even wider so that it could force it’s way through. Speaking directly to his mind I struck a deal with the Mud Lord I promised him I would not kill him if he closed the portal. He agreed and as he finished the final incantation, in time to close the portal on a giant mud arm that had protruded from the portal, Gnasc punched out, crushing the skull of the Mud Lord. With it’s dying breath, through shattered teeth the Mud Lord laid a curse on me.

An uneasy feeling rode with me as we returned to the small hut, and the woman met us again a sly smile across her face. She agreed to lift the curse if we gathered firewood for her. Exhausted and again out of options, we agreed. When all the wood had been gathered, she offered her clearing as a place to rest that night.

That night, as the darkness settled in, a band of Myconids formed an organized attack on the clearing. While it took some time for us to deal with these bipedal-mushroom-men, it was never clear if their target was us as an exposed camp, or perhaps the woman in the hut. To us it did not matter, they were just one more of the many threats the Estwild has and would throw at us.

Day One

After a short time in Samekin where we learned of strange sitings of small dragon-like-humanoids, and met the revenant Rook we venture east along the Semerin River. The dense presence of the Estwild can immediately be felt, even in the Edgewood near town. Less than two hours after we left Samekin, Gnasc picks up fresh Owlbear tracks along the bank of the river. The river is clear and teaming with fish, and it is clear we have encroached upon the hunting grounds of these Owlbears.

It was not long before we stumbled across two Owlbears, and were left with no choice but to attack. As a team Marrek, Gnasc and I square off against the closest Owlbear, and Rook moved to face the remaining one. While Rook is but a shadow of Benadrix sent to help us by the Raven Queen, he is a powerful warrior and it was comforting in some ways to see him fight as brashly as Benadrix did.

The Owlbears were in no way an easy fight, hardened by their life in the Estwild they did not back down, nor would they let us retreat. Their long arms not only delivered powerful blows, they could grab you and hold you in their crushing grip. Even with all my strength I was only able to escape the grip of the Owlbear by the help of my friends, a lone warrior would be crushed with no escape. Though we dispatched the pair in due time, this encounter was a daunting harbinger of things to come.

We continued along the river and discovered tracks that appear to be the dragon creatures heading northwest. after a short time the tracks split into two, about half the group seemed to have continued northwest, and the other to the east. Gnasc heard the clinking of armor close by in the direction of the group who went east. Gnasc and Marrek scout ahead but were unable to spy upon the party undetected. Called into the clearing Marrek and Gnasc attempted to talk to these creatures, and as I crept closer Severus, looking through my eyes, realized that these were Draconians. It did not take long to learn that these Draconians were hunting us, and more than likely connected to the Green head of Tiamat.

Moving quickly we engaged these corruptions of nature, seeking to subdue them while our numbers were still even. I was able to pull them all in with a quick attack, but the leader, more golden in color than the others teleported away. Rook pursued the leader and Gnasc moved in and was the first to kill one of the duller bronze colored Draconians, but as the beast dies it turns to stone trapping Gnasc’s fist. Perhaps sensing the threat posed by the Paladin of the Raven Queen, two of the other bronze Draconians disengaged from the fight with me and moved to attack Rook from behind. As Gnasc struggled to free his fist, I dispatched another of the bronze ones my blade too becoming stuck. Not wasting time in the fight I detached from that blade and drew a second as I charged the Draconians at Rook’s back. By this time we are more careful and leave the killing blows to Celence who can deal devastating damage from a distance. When the Gold dragon was almost dead we attempted to speak to it again, but the beast flew into a rage, attacking whit abandon until through loss of blood it dropped dead.

Regrouping after the fight Gnasc and I both thought it prudent to continue east, our original direction, and one we had a map of, however the rest of the party thought it more important to follow the other tracks, “The hunted must become the hunters,” as Rook put it. So we set back to the west, and found where the tracks split. We followed them to a small clearing, the ruins of an old temple, and a larger party of Draconians had set up camp. This time we tried to move into positions as a group, but I am not one for stealth and gave away our position.

In this fight we face some silver Draconians for the first time, and upon death they seem to attack one’s psyche with horrific images of one’s own death. This fight was exhaustedly brutal and long, though in the end there were the crumbled stone remains of three bronze Draconians, and the corpses of the three silver and one gold Draconian.
Now as the sun begins to lower below the canopy of the Estwild we are making camp, in the very camp we just attacked. With Rook, I will stand guard as my friends rest through the night, I pray it be uneventful.

Dear Tenibo Veinbreaker,

We followed the tracks of the Hunters around the exterior of the floating island, Gnask’s incredible tracking skills allowed us to find a cave entrance that bypassed the traps that were surely set for us.

Docking the Cerulian Hope we made our way back under the city, though this time we were much closer to the surface. At the end of this tunnel we came upon a large chamber of gears, all polished to a mirror shine. At the base of a giant door a small clockwork machine shaped like a four sided pyramid. As we approached, the creature turned to look at us with on mechanical eye and informed us that we were not allowed here and had to leave.

As it eyed us it stopped on Benadrix and asked why he had chosen such an ineffective form, and if he were a Modron he would be more efficient. When the little creature came to me he was amazed at the number of sides I had, and explained how with only four sides he could not begin to do as many complicated tasks as I must be able to perform. He asked what my purpose was, and I informed him that my friends and I must move beyond the door in front of us.

It asked us if we were here to restore order to the chaos, and sensing that he would open the door for us we all agreed that is what we were here for. The small being informed us that it too wished for order to be restored, but with only four sides it did not know how to help. “If only I had six sides, that is my dream.”

The modron, Sides as we have come to call him, opened the door for us. On the other side another large room full of gears greeted us. Two large gears spun on the floor in opposite directions, and in the middle a large pillar was being lowered by the gears. On top of the pillar five of the captive members of the blue mask were bound by chains. Scattered around the room there were some four and six sided modron, they were acting sporadically, and Sides informed us that “they had been touched by the chaos.” Across the room from us one of the Hunters, a female Deva, stood armed with a handcrossbow and a longsword. “I am Isha of the Khar, and you have proven yourselves to be worthy prey.”

Assessing the room, we spring into action. With a rush or movement Benadrix unfolds his wings and sores across the room, bypassing all the modrons and lands next to the Deva. We tell Sides that we need the pillar stopped, to restore order we need to save the people on top. He rushes to a side room and begins to interface with the controls. “This is beyond my protocol, but I will attempt to stop it for you.”

As the rest of us begin to make our way to the pillar trying to find a way to save the captives, the gears pick up in speed spinning twice as fast and dropping the pillar even faster. “Did that help?” Sides called from the control room. The chaos touched modron swarmed us as we tried to reach the pillar. Between the modron and the moving floors we were working hard to keep our footing. Just as we were falling into the rhythm of the floor, able to sidestep as the gears turned, they shook and changed direction. “Perhaps I should have bypassed subroutine 5579-C, rather than disabling it.” Sides said as he heard us shout in dismay.

Benadrix was going toe to toe with the Deva, but with a great shove she pushed him back off the solid floor to the moving gears. At that same moment the outer ring of gears dropped away, falling for miles bouncing off of other gears below. Only his wings saved him, for Benadrix was caught off guard and fell as well. He glided to a small landing below, and let our a howl of rage as he gathered himself to fly back and face the hunter.

Meanwhile Gnask and I had climbed to the top of the pillar and were attempting to free the blue mask clansmen. Just as Gnask had picked a lock freeing the third of the five prisoners, the pillared dropped, and the crushing gears were now too close for comfort. “Clearly accessing the pillar’s directive through he waste system was incorrect but perhaps if I. . .there that should have done it.” As Sides spoke the pillar shook and stopped.

Leaving the locks to Gnask I dropped to the spinning gear below. Across the gap created by the fallen gear Benadrix was hard pressed to ward off the blows of the Hunter. Using the speed of the gears to add to my own, I ran and leapt across the gap, crashing into the hunter hard. When we managed to untangle ourselves, Benadrix and I had the hunter trapped between us.

In a fit of rage Isha swung out to slash me with her sword, the force behind the blow would have been enough to knock me backward into the miles of gears turning below us. Thankfully Benadrix dove between us, his shield raised and took the blow. He was knocked over the edge, but this time he was ready, and his great wings held him aloft. From across the room Celence called to Bahamet, and from the air above Isha a crushing hand of force knocked her back. Staggering to catch her balance the Deva reaches into a small pouch and produces a small ceramic bead, smashing it on the ground the room was filled with a blinding light and when our sight recovered she was gone.

With the slaves free, we paused for a moment to regain our senses. Sides floated over and though he had done almost as much good as harm we showed him the body of one of the deactivated six side Modrons, and Sides was able to transfer his consciousness into that body, increasing his effectiveness by 150%. Guiding us to the next door Sides chattered about how much more he could do.

On the other side of the door another large room waited for us. A golden cage in the back held more prisoners of the Blue Mask, and two large lightning rods were periodically shocking the cage, and the people inside. In front of the cage another Deva stood, surrounded by more Chaos touched Modrons, these with eight and ten sides. “You have passed the first test, and while you may have forced my beloved to disengage but now you face me. I am Basu of the Khar, and I will be your end.” Quick as the lightning flashing behind him, the Deva shot three arrows from his longbow striking Benadrix, Marrek and me.
With a roar of defiance Benadrix filled the room in front of us with flame, these modron were stronger than the previous ones, but the heat of the dragon’s breath was enough to turn their metallic surfaces white hot. Following the burst of flame we all rushed foreword. “I have some understanding of this room,” Sides informed us, “if you can get two people next to the lightning rods I can redirect the rods away from the cage and into them.”

With a glint in his eye Benadrix smiled at me, “Pushed the blasted Deva onto one, I’ll take care of the other.” And he began to make his way through the sea of Modrons ahead of us. Knowing the dragonborn had made up his mind, I charged past the modron to slam my shield into Basu and drive him back a step. He took my charge with the strength and grace of someone who has spent a lifetime fighting and training, shifting with the force of my charge he sprang backwards, unable to escape my blow but using my power to propel him even farther back. From behind him as he leapt Basu threw a net. It’s strong bands grabbed me, small barbs finding hold in the ridges of my armor holding me fast. As he landed the modron swarmed, one of the ten sided ones let loose a blast to of lightning, the bolt arced across all of us except Celence who was far enough back. The burst of lightning combined with the previous fight we were not doing well, more than one of us was bloodied, and it was all Marrek and I could do to keep our feet.

Moving back to my side Benadrix said a quick prayer to Kord and moved again ready to jump into position next to the lightning rod. To our dismay as a lightning struck the cage, an elder prisoner fell dead. Upon seeing this a rage swelled inside of me, and I broke free of the net. Pushing past the modrons I moved next to Basu knocking him back another step.

Gnask moved up beside Marrek, staunching the blood flowing from an open wound, “Hit him again Construct,” he yelled as he supported Marrek. Seeing Marrek taken care of I drove into Basu again getting him another step closer to the rod.
“Finish him 148,” Marrek yelled gaining his feet with the help of Gnask. With a final surge I shoved Basu next to the lightning rod, and Benadrix leapt next to the other one.

“Now Sides, re-aim the lightning.” Celence yelled, and from the top of the rods, the crackling electricity shot out striking both Basu and Benadrix. The force of the blast knocked both men form their feet, and blew the door to the cage open. The Modrons who were attacking us turned upon the clans people as they poured out of the cage.

Basu recovered first, springing back to the top of the cage he aimed his longbow at us. Laughing, “This fight has been everything I have hoped, I offer you a reprieve. Protect your friends, and rest here. I will move to the next room, and my beloved and I will await you there.”

Though the flow of blood had been staunched, Marrek was still weak on his feet. Looking around the room, seeing the rest of us in as bad a state and the panicked prisoners fighting to escape the modron Marrek said “We agree.”

As Gnask grumbled his disapproval, Basu calmly turned and walked through a door in the back of the room. We made quick work of the remaining modrons, remembering to keep one in better shape to have Sides download into. Pointing the Blue Mask members the right direction we sat down to rest. For perhaps the first time since we arrived in the tunnels, we were able to rest fully. The Khar were nothing if not honorable.

Moving together through the door we entered the next room, knowing the two hunters waited there. The room was smaller than the previous two, a mostly empty room with a small control room to one side. Suspended in the back, hanging unconscious was Ash. Bolts of lightning arcing to hit him, snapping his limp frame rigid. One of the Devas began to speak, but seeing Ash strung up so i charged ahead not giving them a moment to gloat. In our previous fights the hunters must have been holding back, for even though I rushed with all my speed Isha moved out of the way as if I were walking. Basu opened with a hard shot, hitting Benadrix in the shoulder of his shield arm, rendering it limp as the arrow blasted a hole through flesh and bone. Calling to Bahamet, Celence hit Isha knocking her prone and dazing the hunter. Following the blow, Celence cried to Bahamet to heal Benadrix, and the bleeding slowed and Benadrix was able to lift his shield again.

With a deep breath Benadrix blew two bursts of flame, one right after the other. The hunters were again fast, but the end of one of the last caught Basu wrapping him in flames. As he ran, flames licking from his cloak, Basu threw another net, this time trapping Benadrix in it’s thick fibers.

Enraged by seeing her love set aflame Isha cast a spell, a great burst of light erupted in the center of the room dazing all of us. When we recovered our sight only Basu was to be seen. Wasting no time I charged him again, meeting my charge Basu swung back and though he hit me hard, I tucked my shoulder under my shield and knocked him prone. As we all moved to surround Basu, Isha appeared attacking us from behind. Though he was still bound by the net Benadrix called a challenge to Isha, and she moved to him sensing him an easy kill. Moving as quickly as I could I dropped into Rain of Steel and called my own challenge to both Basu and Isha pulling them next to me. Coming from behind Marrek hit Basu hard, running his sword through Basu’s shoulder. Basu fell to the ground, and Marrek reached his arm high ready to strike the killing blow.

“Stay your hand,” Isha called. “Spare him and I will wet your friend free, and we can go our separate ways. Do not and I will kill him slowly after I have killed each of you.” Unknown to Isha, Sided had moved to the control room at the start of the fight and had now gained access to free Ash. Marrek struck hard and fast, killing Basu. Isha screamed in anger and could only watch in disbelief while at the same time Ash fell free of his bonds. Overcome with rage Isha tried to rush past me to attack Marrek, but stepping in the way I stuck her down as well.

Moving to Ash we all took a needed break at the base of the stairs.


The Blue Head

After defeating the Red Hand and stopping them from releasing the Red Head of Tiamat the party traveled south to the city of Kharolis. There they discovered the Blue Mask tribe and learned of their plot to destroy Kharolis. The Blue Mask has been tricked by Tiamat into believing that the energy beam that keeps the city of Kharolis afloat is coming from the Goddess Melorra. They believe that if they destroy the ancient magic that harnesses the energy they will free Melora and she will lower the city to the ground and drive out the Khar people leaving the city for the Blue Mask and the rest of the humans.

The party has realized that in reality the energy Kharolis draws is from the Blue Head of Tiamat and it is the only thing keeping the head contained. They must discover a way to keep the Blue Mask from destroying the energy beam and freeing the Blue Head. However they also wish to free the Blue Mask and the other humans from their life of fear in the Underdark below Kharolis.

As Gnasc once said to Ash “This land must stay where it is, but that does not mean that things have to stay the way they are. “

An Update with holes

The Baron Jonn Stockmer sits in front of a roaring fire trying desperately to come to terms with the events of the last few hours. He has asked Marrek to tell him the party’s story twice now. He looks into the fire no doubt remembering his own ordeal and his hand slips to his stomach where it finds the ragged tear in his silk shirt.

Finally after a long silence he says “ Once again it seems you have saved Harken from destruction.” He turns to Benadrix “And you Paladin, I believe I owe you a debt that I fear I can never fully repay.” The Baron turns back to the fire and a look of deep sadness crosses the his face. “It would seem that now I have lost both my children.”

The Baron is lost now in his own thoughts. He stares into the fire but his gaze lies far beyond the stone hearth. Marrek leans in and places a hand on his shoulder. “What exactly happened between you and Adam sir?”

Jonn turns to Marrek as if surprised to see him there. “Adam…yes.” Jonn turns back to the fire as though in it he can see the terrible events play out. “He burst into my sitting room this morning…was it really only this morning?” The Baron drifts away again and Marrek squeezes his shoulder. “Yes…he burst in and he had a woman with him. I had never seen her before. She held a golden staff and I remember the top was fashioned to resemble the head of a dragon. She wore black robes emblazoned with a red hand. She stood in front of the door as Adam continued towards me. I tried to ask him what was going on but before I could even get the words out he had a dagger in his hands. I backed away but then he was on top of me and…” Again the Barons hand slips to his torn shirt. “I think…I think I died.” He says in a whisper. “The last thing I remember was the woman smiling at me. I was so cold and she was just…just smiling at me.”

“That woman smiles no more, Baron. Be comforted that this Red Hand cult will answer for their crimes against Harken, and the Stockmer Family,” Marrek assured the Baron in a stern, convincing tone. Having returned to Harken less than two days ago, the Warlord was unsure to the extent of the Red Hand’s remaining influence in the village. Marrek was sure, however, that now was the time for strong words to help focus the shaken noble.

“We have reason to believe that the Red Hand’s origin is within Fallcrest, and Fallcrest is where we shall take the fight to them. What is troubling is the vast web of conspiracy that has swallowed both Adam and Bethany – and almost the entire township. What further intrigues lie dormant within the streets of Harken,” Marrek pondered aloud. “In the time between our leaving, and the return of your captured citizens, where there any peculiar circumstances worth noting?”

“I am ashamed to say I noticed nothing out of sorts. Obviously my son had taken great care to do all this behind my back. I understand that he found my will and intended to inherit the Harkenwold after killing Bethany. It would seem that when that failed he decided to simply remove me and claim this region for himself or for this cult he serves.” The Baron clenches his fists and turns to the party with determination. “I will see to it that Harken is scoured of this threat. If The roots of this cult really do begin in Fallcrest then I suggest you leave immediately. You can take the King’s Road north through Harken forest. It would take an average man three days of swift travel but I have no doubt you will make it in two. I shall refill your supplies and make sure you are well fed before you leave.” The Baron turns to Celence. “Young lady I discovered this on the body of the priest you killed.” The baron hands her a small leather pouch.”I glanced inside and saw it was full of various reagents and spell components. I have no use for these, please take them.”

The Baron walks to a large armoire against the back wall and opens it’s heavy wooden doors. Inside is a dusty set of simple armor and a long sword that looks to have seen better days. He grips the sword and holding it in front of him, examines the blade. “Now…it would seem we all have work to do.”

Benadrix approaches the aged man and motions his hand over the dusty sword, lowering the blade towards the floor. “Easy now! A spry young warrior, you are not.” he chuckles. “What is it good Barron, that you intend to do with that?”

After the day’s events, the Baron’s show of fortitude inspired the veteran Lagonn. Marrek stepped swiftly to Paladin and placed halting grasp on the Dragonborn’s massive upper arm. “Harkenwold is now his fight Extaban, as it should be. Let us have faith in the barony. May Erathis bless your hunt for the remaining interlopers.” The Warlord ended as he started made is way toward the double doors of the manor.

“Aunt Nonnie awaits, as well as our preparations for the road to Fallcrest,” he smiled.

With a look of sorrow and shame Celence walks up to the Baron and says:

“Please forgive me Sir. Just prior to finding you…(Celence winced) We went into Bethany’s room and I took one of her hat pins.” Unable to look the Baron in the eyes fighting back tears, she hands the hat pin back to the Baron. “Please understand my intentions were not malicious. I am having a chest made that will be bound to me, it required personal items of mine to make it so. To honor the memory of your daughter I wanted to have the hat pin built into the chest. Since you are now with us again, I am overwhelmed with grief and it is not my place to take anything of your daughters as every piece is a part of her. I am sorry for my actions and should not have been so brazen to think that it was my right to take something of yours. Albeit a small item, with your loss it no doubt means more than that.”

After the day’s events, the Baron’s show of fortitude inspired the veteran Lagonn. Marrek stepped swiftly to Paladin and placed halting grasp on the Dragonborn’s massive upper arm. “Harkenwold is now his fight Extaban, as it should be. Let us have faith in the barony. May Erathis bless your hunt for the remaining interlopers.” The Warlord ended as he started made is way toward the double doors of the manor.

The remainder of the trip to Fallcrest is mercifully uneventful. As you leave the Harken forest you find yourselves traveling through open country dominated by gently rolling hills. The landscape is dotted with small farms and ruined stretches of what looks like an ancient wall. As you crest one of these hills you are greeted by an incredible sight. Laid out before you is Fallcrest. Coming from the small town of Harken Fallcrest is quite impressive. Looking down at the sprawling city it’s easy to imagine more than a thousand people living inside it’s walls. The city itself is divided almost in half by a steep bluff that snakes northwest to southeast across the entire town. Two rivers cut through it from north to south resulting in dramatic waterfalls where they meet the bluff.

The upper city looks to be more developed. Tight streets are crowded with multi story buildings and large manor houses. It also looks to be much older that the Lower city which looks poorer and less organized in contrast. On the eastern side of the city a massive green spire dwarfs the buildings around it. The tower sits alone on top of a hill and looks truly ancient. Your eyes follow the King’s road and you can see that the path will take you directly to Fallcrest’s southern gate, or at least what is left of it. One of the two paired towers guarding the entrance is nothing but rubble, and several large gaps remain in the town walls south of the bluffs.

After taking in the view you continue north towards the city. You arrive at the King’s Gate in the early morning. Four heavily armored Knights stand guard in front of the broken wall and signal you to stop as you approach the gate. One of them, a tall young man with blond hair and beard walks up to the party and appraises each of you before speaking.

“What’s your business in Fallcrest?”

The sprawling scene of the immense Fallcrest brought a pang to the Warlord’s heart. Marrek’s lineage had been derived from a city’s expeditionary force, but he always found comfort that his tours with The Far Hand would end behind the walls of Glarandar, his place of birth. Even though his years of nomadic frontier travel with Gnasc had been fruitful, he had always secretly longed for the the fortifying congestion of humanity and bustling thoroughfares of the great cities. Marrek allowed himself a small smile as the party began their approach to the city. Soon he would be in his element.

Upon arriving at the Southern Gate, Marrek notices instantly that something is wrong. The structural state of the gate, while discomforting, belied the true tension found in the postures of the Knight watchmen. Having once stood in these men’s sabatons, the Warlord thought best as to how to handle their call.

“What’s your business in Fallcrest?”

Marrek thought quickly. Considering the size of the city, this gate should be teeming with merchants and commoners but it is practically empty. It is not an insignificant act that a city would seal one of it’s gates. The possibility that these circumstances could be related to their adventures thus far was not lost on him. But he was certain that now was not the time to air those concerns.

“We are adventurers in search of a hot meal and a warm bed.” Marrek answered hopefully, lowering his hailing greeting. “If this gate is closed, might you point us to an open one, good sir?”

The Tall man (A Sergeant Marrek recognizes) eyes the group again and grunts. “G’on in” He says. “ No need to go to the Knight’s gate, you’ll find what yer after in Lowtown.” He rests a hand on the hilt of his sword and looks at the Gnoll. “But keep yer noses clean.” He backs away from the party and nods his head towards the ruined gate.

You shuffle past the guards and enter “Lowtown”. Little bands of people move through and around the filthy cobblestone streets. The groups meet,divide and pour on again through the winding streets. Some of the men wear rich-looking clothes and they seem to walk around inside bubbles. Groups of people approach and then break like waves against invisible stones giving these men a wide berth. Most of the men are dressed in course woolen trousers and loose fitting jerkins. A few women in long shining white gowns or robes march in small groups here and there.

A rattle and dust, a wooden cart pulls past you. It’s full of barrels that radiate the yeasty musk of beer. Behind the barrels is a pile of large bald cheese wheels. Benadrix lifts his massive head and tracks the cart as it passes by. The creamy odor full of subtle pleasures instantly making him hungry.

“I say we follow him.” The Dragonborn says as he slides a long pink tongue over his rows of sharp teeth.

Marrek watches as the cheese cart disappear into the crowd. “We have a full day of cheese hunting ahead of us,” he told the Dragonborn, “but might we first locate Teldorthan Ironhew so that we may start building a foundation for our time here?”

Aware of the affect his presence tends to have on most races, Gnasc pulls the large hood of his cloak over his head and slouches, lowering his visible height and concealing most of his face in darkness. He then pulled out the piece of cloth with the symbol of the bloody hand he had taken as a trophy from the priest-woman after she fell and smelled it again. Those people had an odd smell about them and he hoped to become as familiar with it as possible so as not to be caught off guard by them in this crowded city.

The dragonborn chuckled at the comment his friend made. “As long as THAT cheese cart is on our to do list, the order of that list, good Marrek, matters not to me.”

Dear Tenibo Veinbreaker,

My friend we have finally returned to Harken, a place that compared to the Seven Pillared Hall feels like home, though never so much as Warbronze did. We were able to guide the ten slaves back from captivity, and though exhausted from the travels the look of joy on their faces at returning to the home they never expected to see again has made the past few adventures even more rewarding.

When we left the Ordinator and the Seven Pillared Hall we gathered the villagers of Harken and began the three day walk south to their home. Exiting the labyrinth of the Seven Pillared Halls into the open air felt like there was a weight removed from my shoulders, and it made me appreciate and long for the dwarven architecture of Warbronze. For while both cities are situated miles under ground Warbronze feels as open and light as a surface town, and the Seven Pillared Hall has the oppressive weight of a mountain pushing down on you and the constant terror of the Underdark sandwiching you from below.

The first half day’s travel was uneventful, Gnask taking point up front for safety and the remaining four of us helping to guard the villagers. Benadrix played with the children, and Celence walked with the women (all of them busying their hands with different tasks like mending torn clothes, or the like). Marrek guided the small party; next to him marching proudly was a young boy, Thidrek, perhaps 12. Thedrek’s face had lit up like the sun when Marrek handed him his javelin with the Lagonn family crest attached to carry.

While the miles passed at a slow pace, Gnask returned to Marrek frantically eying the woods. He warned us that something was amiss; he could sense it though he had not seen or smelled anything yet. Gnask bounded back into the woods determined to get the jump on our ambushers; as he left Marrek singled the party to close ranks. A few moments later the air around us split, like cloth cut by a dagger, and through the holes a band of Orcs stepped through, they were lightly armored and equipped to move through the woods quickly even without the help of the portals. The Orcs surrounded us, and the largest one, who had three packs of half starved dogs on leashes, stepped forward and demanded “Who has it? Give us the amulet and we will let you pass unharmed.”

Never one to be intimidated and fearing for the safety of the villagers Benadrix roared “I have the amulet and you will never possess it.” Moving away from the villagers, Benadrix made for the woods.

With a howl of rage the Beast-master Orc released his dogs and pointed where Benadrix had ran and commanded his small party to chase him. Quickly Celence dropped her wall of light and helped to shield the villagers, while pushing past the terrified men and women I moved to intercept the dogs and orcs as they took chase.

Reacting even faster than myself or Celence, Marrek jumped forward and quickly found himself nearly surrounded by our ambushers. With the dogs nipping in behind his defenses and an orc moved behind him. Bashing through the crowd of foes I cleared a path for Marrek to move into the wall of light. As Marrek cleared the swarm of dogs a raging fireball erupted in the middle of our enemies, engulfing me as well. From the edge of the woods Benadrix roared in defiance again, smoke wisping from his nostrils. The orc in front of him rose from the ground his cloak smoking from the path of Benadrix’s dragon’s breath.

Working together Benadrix and Marrek moved to finish off the orc who had moved passed me and the Beast-master who had closed in on the two, I held the dogs and remaining orcs at bay as Celence blasted them with powerful magic. The fight was brutally quick and soon the Beast-master found himself surrounded by us, blood pouring from his wounds. Benadrix grabbed him in a bone crushing hold and demanded to know who he worked for and why they wanted the amulet.

Spitting in Marrek’s face the Beast-master said “Modune will never rest until he has the trinket. He who finds seeks the amulet and Modune will find it. You have no idea of its value.” The orc twisted in Benadrix’s grasp and as he broke free I smote him down. I do not feel proud of the kill but I would not put the lives of the Harken villagers at risk for my conscious and the life of an orc. Perhaps some of your dwarven sensibilities have rubbed off on me more than I think.

Gathering the villagers we tried to rest a moment and calm their fear when again a handful of holes ripped into existence around us and more orcs stepped through. This time they were more heavily armed than the previous band, and through the woods the distant beat of a war-drum could be heard. With this came one of the largest orcs I have ever seen, his left eye a festering wound and he was armed with an axe big enough to fall the very trees around us.

Two smaller orcs with throwing axes moved forward and demanded the amulet. Again Benadrix spoke words of defiance and tried to separate himself from the villagers. The one eyed brute and two orcs moved off after Benadrix, while the two axe throwers threw their deadly blades at the nearest villagers, laughing at the ease in which they hit their targets.

I moved to protect the villagers, as did Marrek and Celence thinking that Benadrix could better defend himself than the town’s people. The Dragonborn moved into the woods, the trees and brush blocking his fight from view. Knowing that we did not have much time to spare I challenged the throwers, moving between them and the clump of villagers. The other orcs moved to surround us as we heard the one-eyed orc howl in pain. The fight was not pretty, and some of the men from Harken moved in to help protect their families. One orc was completely cut off from the pursuit of Benadrix by the town’s folk. Helping where she could Celence filled the small clearing with powerful blasts that forced our enemies back, and broke their formations.

As we finished the last of the orcs around us we heard Benadrix give a yell in pain that was cut short by a cry of triumph from the One-eyed orc. Raising my shield I charged into the brush, branches whipping across my face and snagging in my armor. Crashing into the brute I bounced off of him with no effect. Behind me Marrek entered the woods shouting to Benadrix to stand and fight. At Marrek’s words Benadrix stood slowly from the ground, his strong legs still shaking. The one-eyed orc raised his axe and as he swung it down on Benadrix I was able to hit him in the back with my shield and knock his blow wide.

Led by Thidrek the villagers had surrounded the last remaining orc and were pressing the beast hard. The orc swung wildly and scored a nasty cut across Thidrek’s shoulder. Seeing this and fearing for her grandson’s life, an elder woman named Gladys attacked the orc furiously striking a blow to its neck and killing the orc. As the villagers took down the last of the orcs my friends and I slew the one-eyed brute.

Gathering our small flock closely we took a moment, more on guard this time, and bandaged the wounded. Benadrix, being fully recovered, saw to the wounds of the villagers, while Marrek saw personally to the shoulder of young Thidrek. After our short rest we began to move south again, but we had nary traveled for a quarter mile when again we were ambushed.

This time an orc clad in heavy plate armor, blackened with smoke and soot appeared and said “I am Modune, he who finds, and I want the amuet.” When we refused portals behind three of the villagers opened and thick arms clad in black leather armor grasp them. “Give me the amulet or none of these people will make it out alive.”

Around Modune many more orcs appeared, some of them strapped with bottles and gords filled with a rainbow of liquids. Seeing little else to do that would save the villagers I rushed Modune. As I was about to reach him, he slipped backward through a portal. Shouting in rage I gave those orcs around me little choice but to engage me. Swinging my sword wildly I sunk my blade deep into the ribs of one of the orcs covered in gourds, and as he fell his body exploded. The second gourd covered orc also blew himself up as I drew blood.

Casting quickly Celence summoned a blade that darted around the field of battle, this blade was able to prevent the orcs who had grasp the villagers from pulling them through the portals. The leather clad orcs who were forced through the portals by the blade were fast and agile, as we focused our attacks on them they dodged behind the startled villagers sometimes so quickly that we could not help but land a blow to the villagers. Even Celence’s magic blade was not always fast enough to not hit the town’s folk.

As I dealt with the mob of orcs blocking our way to the south, my blade swinging so wildly they could not move away from me, my friends tried to corner the two leather clad orcs and move the villagers away. Between their blades and the magic blade Benadrix and Marrek were able to drop those orcs, though not without more than a few cuts to the men and women of Harken.

While this fight was quick many of the villagers were sorely wounded, almost as may by our blades as by the orcs. Behind us to the north we could hear the sounds of the war drums growing louder and we knew that there would be no rest for us until we reached Harken. Before we could catch our breath, a portal ripped open behind Benadrix and two arms, as thick as tree truncks, grabbed him and pulled him backwards into the rift. A flash of light flew into the sealing portal, and Gnask burst from the woods. His scared frame was covered with fresh cuts and wet with blood, but he did not stop running toward the portal. With barely a moment to spare he reached through and grasp Benadrix by the shoulders, his demon ancestory lending him the strength to wrestle the Dragonborn back to our plane before the rift closed.

Stooping to offer his shoulder in support to Gladys, who had received a nasty cut across her leg, Marrek glanced north and said “My friends we do not have time to rest. Those of you who are less hurt, support your friends and families, offer them your arm for support and let us be off. If we travel through the night we may make it to Harken before those drums overtake us. Your home lies but a little way south, and on my honor I pledge to get you all there safely.” Inspired by his confadance, and the mention of home the people of Harken gathered their wounded and quickened their pace home.

While we made it to Harken without another incident we did not rest for the better part of two nights and a day. The villagers were weary and scared, and more than once Gnask’s keen senses guided us around an ambush the Modune had set for us. Upon arrival to Harken the villagers cheered and thanked us, but the celebration was short for everyone was exhausted and the prospects of seeing their families after so long quickly guided people home. My friends and I returned to Aunt Nonnies for some much needed rest.



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