With the dust settling on the carcass of the dead dragon, Vanquesh the Vitriolic, and the various tribes scattered and fleeing, the group took a minute to discuss their new revelations. Alexander told the story of his past, and Maximillion concluded that both he, and his father were not of this realm, but from an alternate reality.
Pathion took the opportunity to immediately pledge her allegiance to the king and prince returned, even if they were not of this realm; and to see them restored to their rightful place on the throne.
Muad’Dib quickly took out his notebook to scribbled in it, seemingly keeping a diary of sorts of the adventures thus far.
Blythe, having found the image of her father, and instantly knowing who it was, asked Alexander if he recognized the image in the portrait; drawing a non-committal grunt in response. He did go on to say that his wife, Caercynia could be found in the Fallenwood, and that she had two siblings, Sylvani and Lycenia, and that the elves there were known as the “Fair of the Silver Hair”
After a brief discussion the group decided that all current clues pointed to the Onyx Tower of Sorcery. Taking a brief moment to lick their wounds, the group healed up using a wand of cure light wounds, and made their way out of the dwarven city using the grand doors that marked the city entrance.
Upon exiting the Dwarven Halls, the grand doors shut tightly behind them, with the face of the mountain closing down from above to hide them. To avoid being crushed the group was forced to move a small distance away. The rumbling of stone on stone; however, did not stop with the closing off of the city, but continued to spread along the floor in a violent shaking, as the earth quaked beneath their feet, knocking some down before finally settling into place.
Sand and rock shifted in various areas in front of the group, rolling in and around itself, and out of the rocky depths emerged four small figures, and two larger ones. The earth elementals, wasted no time in attacking the battered group.
Alexander and Maximillion, though healthy, seemed very drained from their exertion having travelled from their plane walking experience and the battle with the two vampires and dragon only moments before. Pathion offered to stay behind and protect them, while Krosh, Blythe, and Maud’dib distracted the newest threat.
The elementals proved dangerous as one, well placed, hit nearly knocked Maud’dib out of the fight entirely. Krosh, did what he could to draw their attention, and after seemingly overwhelmed in the beginning, the group evened the score by quickly destroying the four smaller elementals, with the largest of the group moving to intercept the fleeing trio of Alexander, Max and Pathion.
Sensing immediate danger, a high pitched mewling, transformed into a thunderous roar as the little white cat the group had been toting around, transformed into a medium sized white panther, with a black stripe running down its back. It moved between the fleeing trio and gained the attention of the large rocky beast, giving them time enough to escape from their trapped position.
Good fortune was shortlived however, as the four small elementals they dispatched were replaced by four more, giving the group pause, as it didn’t seem there would be an end to these constructs.
As the four smaller elementals moved to intercept, an elderly raspy voice called out loudly for the group to disengage and run towards the nearby river; as it quickly dispatched two of the newly formed small creatures with well placed shots.
Finding wisdom in their new found allies, Krosh, Maud’dib and Blythe followed their instructions while the cat-turned-panther continued to distract the larger creation. As a whole the elementals recognized no threat, and moved not to follow, allowing the group as a whole to move away unencumbered. Once out of range, the elementals deemed the group to be no more of a threat, and returned to the rocky depths from which they emerged.
The stranger who called out to them, was dingy and dirty, in gear that looked tattered and torn. The bow it had used was no more a walking stick with a precariously placed bow string. The raspy voice confirmed that the elementals were placed there as wards to the empty mines and would continue to return until the threats to the gates of the city were no more.
After a quick test, the stranger expressed some disappointment in Krosh’s inability to recognize his mentor, and allowed the illusion disguising her to fade, revealing Sheila Lalaneth No longer covered by the disguise, the gear now appeared well kept, and the bow was no longer a fragile walking stick, but a grand and deadly weapon. Angered by his mentor’s sudden disappearance, many years before, Krosh greeted Sheila with a fist to the face, a hit she took in stride, followed by a hug.
Taken aback by the display of affection, Sheila reluctantly returned the hug, more out of surprise, than any real animosity. Sheila then introduced her gnome companion to be the druid Cromwell, none other than the mentor and trainer of Maud’dib; both belonging to the Druidic Order, Children of the Night.
Sheila had explained to the group that while she had originally meant to contact Krosh, she trusted in his training to see him through the times. Confirming that the cat, Desdemona, was indeed magical in nature, she answered all questions the group presented to her, as best she could. After locating and recruiting Cromwell, she had set out to find their missing companions from their adventuring days many years ago. Unable to find any of them thus far, she mentioned that their stay with the group would be brief, travelling only as far as Trijera, the capital city, before going their own way.
Though intrigued by the seemingly not dead, nor undead, Alexander and Maximillion, her and Cromwell’s interest seemed fixated on Blythe’s powers, the source of which had not been seen in this realm in quite some time. (Remember most magical users were weak, at best; more charlatan and parlour tricks than actual power. Actual prowess and command of any sort had all but disappeared half a century ago.)
She had also admitted that she had been keeping an eye on the group for sometime, confirming that Desdemona, the cat, had been her eyes and ears, since she had been discovered at the Tomb of the Unknown Mage.
Putting obvious interest aside for the time being, Sheila and Cromwell decided that the group needed answers and allies. Answers could be found in Trijera, if the group was resourceful enough, while allies would be harder to find. Sheila and Cromwell tasked Krosh and Maud’dib with finding the Dwarven Heir to the Mines; Alexander and Maxmillion were tasked with uniting the Kingdom, and restoring the alliance with the elven people; while Blythe was informed that clues to her father, Sylvani, Sheila’s half-brother, would lead her into the heart of the Fallenwood.
Cromwell then proceeded to give the group some much needed gear and supplies.
Three days it took to travel the road back towards Trijera; and the group made a wide berth of Loudwater, not wanting to revisit the burned out town. No danger presented itself, as Sheila, Cromwell, and the magical beast Desdemona kept watch, allowing the battered and injured group plenty of time to rest up. As the group approached the closed city of Trijera, Cromwell and Sheila said their farewells, leaving Desdemona in the groups care.
Entrance to the city was difficult, as the guard on duty, Corporal Lance, refused to open the gates. Not just because of this group, but because city policy forbade it, reciting many times, “Nobody enters, nobody leaves.” (while noticeably jingling his purse.)
Pat, swearing under her breath to cleanse the guard, once the new king is restored, begrudgingly paid the “toll” of 35 gold pieces. Corporal Lance, satisfied at the bargain, informed the group to leave and return in an hours time; and then turned on his heel to walk away. Upon their return, they noticed the gate lifted partially, with no guards in sight; and the lanterns doused low.
Upon entering the city, the group felt uncomfortable, and realized they were being watched. An unknown man moved through the shadows, yet made no apparent attempt to conceal himself; purposely, and obviously keeping an interest as the newly arrived group made their way into the outer sector of the capital city.
Buildings here were poor excuses for shelter, many had crumbling walls, some with no roof to speak of, and all either remained unpainted, or were badly chipped. The area looked more like a refugee camp in the darkness, than any part of an actual city. Loudwater, before its demise, was better suited for living, than this immediate area. The stranger who watched them, calmly walked towards a gate in the opposite direction. The gate seemingly separated this poor section from the inner city. With, surprisingly, many mixed races here, the group quickly surmised that this outer area, had been hastily constructed to house the refugees coming in from the beleaguered villages, and that a temporary situation had unfortunately, become much more permanent.
This inside gate keeping the refuges out from the inner city, was well kept and sturdy, much more than the wall that kept the outside from the Capital. These guards wore better armor, and seemed more disciplined than the rabble the group had first encountered and bribed.
Upon approaching this gate, the stranger spoke to a guard who suddenly appeared. This guard opened the door from within, allowed the stranger to pass, then quickly shut and locked the gate; only to disappear behind it once more.
Noticing the glow from a blacksmith’s forge still fired up, Krosh inquired if he was still open for business. After a quick discussion, the group managed to unload some of the items they had procured during their time in the caves/mines. Deciding it was best to keep a low profile, and wait for morning, the group found an abandoned hovel to put up for the night while contemplating their next move.