Enter the Vale

The Forest and the Maze
Adventuring is a dangerous business.

Surrounded by hostile elves, the group found themselves face to face with the Fair of the Silver Hair.

Commanding their attention an apparent leader strode into the inner circle, and introduced himself as Captain Voronanion Inadalvan of the Immortalis, Wardens of the Forest followed by a standard-bearer, whom the group quickly surmised as a caster of some type.

Demanding an answer as to why the group was trespassing in lands not their own, the group quickly tried to think of what to say. Growing impatient, the Elven Captain was on the verge of ordering the groups slaughter, when Krosh finally broke the stalemate. In his usual gruff bravado, Krosh attempted to be diplomatic, but his flippant tongue only seemed to make matters worse. Not entirely sure if they should reveal themselves, Maximillion and Alexander stayed silent, content to let the group talk themselves out of the issue, all the while keeping a wary eye on their would-be captors, readied and willing, should negotiations fall to battle.

Blythe, in a quick attempt to calm the growing hostility, asked about Sylvani, her father, which put the Elven Captain back. After quick discussion with his standard-bearer, the Captain ordered a few of his men to search the skeletal remains for any artifacts they may recover, and leave the rest.

While Blythe was talking, a the group noticed that the Elves secured two more of the glowing blue shards from the bodies of the skeletons, and secure them in separate pouches; almost, as if, they were afraid to let them touch.

With some quick thinking Maud’dib, Blythe, and Krosh managed to assuage the Elven Captain and secure an escort to the Onyx Tower of Sorcery. Such an escort would be paid by the surrendering of their weapons and gear; only to be returned once they reached what the Captain called, “The Maze.” In return, the elves would provide all the protection the group would need and allowed them a much needed rest, without the worries that they would be attacked. True to their word, when a skirmish broke out some distance away, half the elves departed, only to return in short order.

Some helpful eavesdropping enlightened the group that the undead attacks seemed to be more common since the arrival of the outsiders, and that for some reason the skeletons seemed to be drawn to the unwanted group. It was also revealed during this short exchange that all was not well with the elves, and not all were pleased with the twisted way their Fallenwood had become.

An inquiry about the origins of the maze revealed that this was a secreted backdoor, of sorts, to the clearing in which rested the Tower of Sorcery. It was also revealed that the Royal line had secreted themselves into the Tower and had not been seen in quite a while, although he would not really elaborate as to how long it had been since they last seen them. It was also revealed that none had taken to the Maze, as only those of the Blood could navigate its paths successfully.

With none of the elves wanting to really mingle with the group, this band of allies, kept to themselves, keeping a wary eye on their would-be captors. Another day of marching, and the group was finally escorted to the edge of a clearing. The elves would move no further, choosing instead to hide amongst the trees.

Muad’Dib, curious, decided to approach the entrance to the cave in the dense evening fog, only to discover that the side of the mountain had been carved into a skull, with the mouth providing the opening. With the rock seemingly unnatural and magical, he returned to the group and told them what he learned. It was right before bed, that Maud’dib used the opportunity to cast a lesser restoration on Alexander, restoring his vitality and charm.

Blythe, insisting they rest and proceed with the elves recommendation they wait until morning, convinced the group to hold off. When day broke, the elves were no where to be seen, but in a neat pile right next to the group’s camp lied their weapons and gear. True to their word, the elves returned their confiscated items.

Approaching carefully, Krosh determined that the mouth of the cave was not trapped and they entered cautiously with Alexander leading the way. A hard rumbling shook the walls of the cave, almost as if the earth was angry, and it knock Maud’dib off his feet. At the first intersection, coming from both ends were small elementals.

Maud’dib quickly surmised that the elementals were guardians, trapped here with the same magic that made the dungeon walls glow. Deciding that this was exactly the same magic that illuminated the walls in the Halls of the Dwarven mines many days, before, Maud’dib guessed that his elemental abilities would be useless here.

A small battle took place, as the group easily dispatched the smaller elementals, followed by a slightly larger one, and then proceeded on. A magically blocked doorway ended the path to the right, and it was here that Blythe discovered her Open/Close spell would not work in this mysterious maze.

Opting to go left, the group discovered an empty hallway that led to another room. In this room was a large round dais etched with the shape of a triangle. Not wanting to step on the dais, Krosh, Alexander and Blythe gingerly stepped around it. Krosh, Alexander and Blythe, also took note that as they approached the raised platform that it would begin to glow in the same mysterious blue that the gem shards gave off; the closer they got, the brighter it glowed.

Blythe, wanting to see what would happen, hovered her hand just above it, and it seemed here that she could feel the magic of the gemstone pulsating in her body, as her tattoos matched pace with the pulsating of the light from the platform. Not sensing an immediate danger, Blythe placed her hand on it. A searing pain ripped through her body, and a scream tore through the halls.

As the light faded, the gem shard imbedded in Blythe’s arms fell onto the platform, no longer glowing blue, but instead a dull grey. Unbeknownst to her, but fairly obvious to both Krosh and Alexander, Blythe had aged 20 years. Almost as if the portal had sucked the life straight from her body.

It was then, that the sound of a door shifting echoed through the suddenly silent corridor. Blythe had bought their entrance to the maze with a piece of her soul. Continuing on, the group encountered a sarcophagus in a room tucked off to the right. Crumbling from age, the decorative color had fallen to the side, revealing a skeleton that also had begun to turn to dust. The only thing of note inside, was a rusted out dagger, complete with a stunningly beautiful garnet in the hilt.

Continuing to the left, ever so carefully, Krosh discovered a room with a broken urn and two everburning braziers, larger versions of the everburning torches, the group was used to seeing. With nothing of note the group continued on.

Seeing a chest, Krosh immediately went to it, to take a look. Noticing the faded inscription in a very old dialect, Krosh and Maud’dib were able to make out the name Iomedae, referencing the Goddess of Justice, Valor and Honor. Opting not to disturb an obvious tribute to the Pantheon of Gods, the group continued on to what seemed like a dead end.

On both sides of the room were two stone dragon heads, the right had a bowl underneath it, while the left’s bowl had long broken off and shattered on the floor; and a carved skull on the far end. A close inspection of the dragon heads revealed a dark stain along the snout, almost as if something thick and viscious had been rubbed into it. Blythe, wary about opening any more doors or portals, convinced young Maximillion to cut his hand and smear it on the dragon’s head. Taking a dagger from his belt, Maximillion did as requested, but nothing happened.

Maud’dib quickly surmised that this was likely a ritual spell to open the way, and like most rituals would require specific components. Realizing they encountered a rusty dagger in the Sarcophagus, Krosh dashed back to retrieve it, stopping on the way back to grab the chest of coins meant for the Goddess.

Running back, Krosh handed Maximillion the dagger, which Max used to reopen the wound and smear blood across the faces of both dragons; and placed the coins just before the skeletal stone head. The walls shook again, but this time not nearly as violent, as the wall with the carved skull crumbled.

A hissing wind echoed through the dungeon, and a sinister voice in a louder whispery wind howled, “Thank you.”

The group continued to the new doorway where they encountered another dragon head, complete with bowl; only this one did not have the blackened stains of blood upon it. Underneath it rested another chest of coins and gems; with the same inscripted dialect referencing Gozreh, a dualistic god of nature: god of the storm and sky, and goddess of the wave and surf.

Approaching the locked door on the far end, Krosh was taken a bit by surprised as a ghostly hand reached out and barely missed touching him. The wraith, seemingly the last guarding of the maze, and likely the spirit of he entombed in the sarcophagus attacked in full force.

Stepping into danger, Alexander tried with all his might to keep its attention, while Blythe and Maximillion pelted it with spells, and Krosh used his magical weapon to inflict as much damage as possible. Maud’dib realizing that his natural abilities were limited here, took a fall back approach and tried to make sense of all they had seen thus far.

The battle was long, as the specter shifted his attention from Alexander to Krosh, and back again. One well placed hit on Alexander seemed to suck the life right out of him, and forced him to stumbled backwards. Eventually, the wraith was defeated, and the group found that they had exhausted almost all their spells in the effort. Opening the newest door, and hoping they were at the end of the maze, Krosh strode out into a clearing, tiled with rock. Overhead, shone the moon, bright in the sky, the first they had seen of it, since they entered the Fallenwood; its light falling directly on the Onyx Tower of Sorcery, up ahead, with a pool of water in the middle of the clearing

Though mostly imperceptible, the group couldn’t help but notice that there was something off about the tower; almost as if it were shifting shape… almost as if it were not entirely in this realm, but instead sharing multiple.

Krosh, looking for a way in, walked a circuit, carefully around, and of course discovered that there was no door. Blythe, having had an ill experience with that last portal warily approached the pool, only to discover that the water here was murky and poisoned, as well. Maud’dib took the opportunity to cast a purify spell, which for a short time cleaned the water (just enough for the group to fill their waterskins) before it reverted back. There was no mistaking it, whatever was poisoning the forest, the source was nearby.

As Alexander approached the pool, the group noticed the water turned from its murky, swamp-like surface, to an icy-white… looking like ice, but still retaining the properties of water. Krosh opened up his pouch of blue shards, and brought one forth as well, only to have the same reaction. To his surprised when counting them out, he discovered that there were two additional shards in his pouch, likely placed their by the elves during their escort.

Not knowing what else to do, Alexander stepped into the water, and mysteriously vanished. Shrugging, Krosh handed out a shard to everyone else, before stepping into the pool of water himself, followed by Maximillion, Blythe, and Maud’dib.

On the other side of wherever it was they went. The group was able to make out the unmistakable signs of death, as a single torch burned on the wall. Through the flickering shadows there was just enough light, to reveal gore and blood on the walls. Dead animals lie on the tables nearby, dissected and stitched back together; and the entire room smelled of decay.

They had found themselves in the tower… but is that a good thing?

The Fallenwood
There's something not quite right...

The group awoke the next morning to find their newfound ally missing. On the table, stricken with a dagger was a note that read:

I cannot wait until morning to seek out my father. If he is wandering the Fallenwood alone and unarmed, I cannot risk his safety. I have gone on ahead and will join you at a later date should our paths cross again. Fare thee well.

Not sure what came over their newfound ally, the group shrugged off his disappearace, as it appeared they were heading in the same direction anyway. Using the morning to finish off their last minute tasks, Krosh Jenkins convinced Solander to manage the group’s newfound house in Trijera while they were away, while Alexander Divinicus II and Maximillion Divinicus III ventured out to grab their commissioned full plate armor and greatsword, respectively.

After settling their affairs, the group split and left the south city wall separately to avoid suspicion as they had been watched not more than a few days before. Something, nagged at Krosh, and it was only when he was leaving that he realized the figure watching him from the distance was the same Tiefling that killed their old cleric friend, zDeceased – Cedric, back in the mines. it seems the Night Parade had taken a vested interest in this hodgepodge group of would-be heroes.

Not sensing any danger, the group looked back to the slums they were leaving behind, catching a glimpse of Corporal Lance; whether or not he approved of their brief stay in the city, the group could not tell, and Krosh took the opportunity to flip him the bird. Whether or not he meant it rudely or playfully, Corporal Lance could not be sure.

A half day’s travel found the group outside Fort Myanmar along Three Camp Road.

Fort Myanmar had seen better days. The fence was in disrepair, and any defensive weapons posted along the decrepit barrier were rusted through and broken. Inside the fort there were many people moving about, all races; a jarring comparison to the xenophobia left behind in the city not too long ago. The people here were wildmen, hunters, gatherers, survivalists. A closer look revealed the balanced gait of some of seasoned warriors, as well as, drunken brawlers.

After conversing with the two gatekeepers, Cyril and Blake, the group was able to discern that the Fallenwood had long turned into a Dark Forest. Occasionally, a creature would come out of the Fallenwood, but it would quickly die (whether it was killed by the fortsmen, or of its own, no one said). The two gatesmen, did go on to say that at night spectral noises could be heard coming from within the Fallenwood.

The group made their way to the tavern within the Fort, where Krosh used some coin to purchase a round of drinks in an attempt to raise his notoriety. A few bunks were made available to travelers, as Blythe and Maud’dib chose to sit on the wall overlooking the forest throughout the evening. No spectral sounds were heard, but Maud’dib was able to discern that was the fort-folk thought as spectral were actually warped cries of the animals from within. Sensing terrible pain, Maud’dib decided to approach the Fallenwood just before daybreak.

Overcome with unbelievable dread, Maud’dib returned to Fort Myanmar, just in time to see the others geared up and ready to proceed South along Three Camp Road. Relaying, the information he was able to gleam, the group proceeded with caution to the first camp.

An uneasy feeling surrounded the air in the camp. The tents seemed unused and barely served as antiquate shelter, a rough sentiment considering the slums left behind the day before. Though closer inspection revealed that the camp was once heavily used, the torn hides and rusted and rotted pots and pans, gave lie that this road was ever anything but a forgotten relic of a time long past.

A thick fog permeated from the copse of trees just on the otherside of the camp, and visibility was difficult; making travelling the difficult terrain dangerous in, and of itself. No one had seen the Onyx Tower of Sorcery in decades; whether or not it still existed is unknown.

The scent of death grazed the group’s nostrils, as a haughty laugh cut the chilly silence.

Mistress Virella and Servant Savant had made their return. Threatening the group with death, the two quickly dissipated into mist and disappeared into the Fallenwood; leaving behind a nasty surprise. Coming forth from the ground were three undead creatures, taking the group by surprise; joined in from some of the vermin warped by the magic and poison of the Fallenwood.

A mummy attacked Alexander head on, hitting him with Mummy Rot, that left his Consitution damaged by 1, and Charisma by 4; while the rest of the group seemed to have their hands full. Maud’dib’s quick thinking entangled the other two undead, while Blythe used Burning Hands to kill two spiders that were coming after Maximillion. Alexander, recognizing the threat of the Mummy for what it was, even though he did not know what it was, focused all his attention on the creature that left his visage scarred.

Maximillion summoned three giant frogs to assist, and the group quickly gained the upper hand with battlefield control and disposed the last of their enemies. Maud’dib recognizing that they had used spells in the open, released a sentry into the air, and learned that the Fort (still within eye sight of the camp and the group) had shut tight the gate.

Deciding what to do with Alexander, as he had taken the brunt of the Mummy’s attack, the group pondered returning to the city, as Maud’dib attempted to caster Lesser Restoration on Alexander. The spell was ineffective. Krosh checking the nearby tents stumbled into an old, well worn, steel box, in the meanwhile. Skillfully unlocking the lock, the lid opened to reveal four very fragile spell scrolls. Blythe, using her Mage Hand, carefully unraveled one, as it threatened to crumple into dust, and discovered it to be a Remove Curse scroll. Realizing that this could be helpful against the Mummy’s Rot she used her arcane abilities to cast the scroll and successfully removed the Mummy’s Curse, leaving only the Disease behind. Checking the second scroll, she discovered that luckily it held a spell containing Remove Disease. Maud’dib used his knowledge of Remove Disease to get Alexander back to semi-normal, leaving only the damage from the effect behind.

Choosing to press on, the group entered the edge of the forest. Despair and lonliness engulfed all who entered (all except Maud’dib). Visibly shaken, the group discovered Krosh and Steelix flat refusing to enter. Maximillion dismissed his Eidolon, and after some encouragement, Krosh took his blade and began cutting into his arm to get his adrenaline going before, entering into the Fallenwood once more.

Maud’dib sensing the danger for what it was, but unperturbed walked up to the nearest trees and used his Treespeak to gain what answers he could. He learned that there were still elves in the Fallenwood, most notably located at the Tower of Sorcery. He also learned that the magic permeating had a source, and that the forest was crying to help. The only way to reverse the effects would be to destroy the source. And that the Fallenwood nor its inhabitants could assist with destroying the source, as they could not defy the magic.

Maud’dib relayed that information to the group and then turned into an earth elemental, disappearing into the ground. Sensing that the magic went deeper than just the surface, Maud’dib followed closely, and was the first to notice the skeletons rise from the ground.

Surrounded from all sides, the skeletons came in. Maud’dib managed to push one against the tree, causing considerable damage with a Bull Rush, while Maximillion kept another two occuipied with Spiders. Blythe took a nasty hit early on, then kept her distance. The solid fog permeating the Fallenwood, proved to be the group’s biggest problem, as many attacks missed. It looked like a stalemate was inevitable, as the battle dragged on longer than it should have. Until Krosh disengaged his foe, and took out the Horn Blower. Once he was down, the skeletons became much easier to attack, as if he was inspiring them to greater heights.

Suddenly Elves dropped from the branches of the nearby trees, and quickly took care of the remaining skeletons. Herding the group into the center of a circle, the Elves kept their weapons drawn and threatening.

Demanding to know why this group would dare trespass into the Fallenwood, Blythe attempted to answer, but her answers were not good enough. Letting it slip that the elemental was in fact a druid in shifted form; the Captain cocked his head to the side as if to ponder something, and then quickly dismissed it.

The group would explain themselves, and why they seek the Elves of the Fallenwood, or they would be cut down where they stood.

Inside the City Gates
All is not well in the belly of the beast...

Night descended upon the weary travelers, as they holed up in a two story dilapidated house with few walls, and no roof. The rest of the city had fared no better, with torn tents, and makeshift bedrolls littering the streets.

The drastic change in the Capital city struck Forge Ironmantle by surprise, as he could not believe such circumstances could change so quickly. The few days he spent in town, were fruitless, as his inquiries into the whereabouts with his father, proved to be difficult. No one would give him the information he sought.

In the refugee ward, Forge met up with an old time friend Chordun Whitehammer, a dwarven armorsmith, whom he hoped could fill him in on the most recent events that saw such a wonderful city, fall prey to corruption and despair.

In the next building over, Steelix the eidolong kept watch from the shadows, while his master, Maximillion and his new friends slept. It was during this watch, that Steelix was caught unaware by a crawling rat. Taken by surprise, the ever present Eidolon warned his Master that they were under attack; a fact confirmed later when Alexander yelped in surprise by an attack from an abnormally large spider. Shaking off the pain, and in his undergarments, Alexander woke the rest of the sleepy companions. One by one, they rose, only to discover their “abandoned” home was infested with all sorts of vermin; likely, the reason why it was abandoned when they arrived.

Using some quick thinking, the vermin began to scurry and disappear, as they quickly died at the hands of the tired group. However, it wasn’t long before the real threat emerged from the shadows.

Six Brawlers emerged, reeking of alcohol, along with two seemingly hired mercenaries, as well as what appeared to be a Town Bully in an attempt to attack the group. Forge, quickly recognized the threat for what it was, and from his vantage point, was able to fire off a volley of shots into the approaching group. Three were taken by surprise, but rather than flee, they grit their teeth together and all continued into the condemned building.

Krosh hurried towards the balcony and began firing his arrows at any he could find, but not before he climbed over the railing, and down the walls like a spider, only to fire another shot into the open window.

Using some quick wit, Max set the floor alive with grease, and called Steelix to his side, only to have it disappear, soon after. It would not do to have his casting drawing unwanted attention from the city.

From his vantage point, Krosh was able to discern a familiar face, watching off to the darkness by the gate not more than 100 feet away. Maud’dib and Forge, also caught this stranger’s interest, as he watched the battle unfold. Once he seemed to gain what he needed by watching, the stranger nodded to himself, and disappeared back behind the gate, where Maud’dib finally lost him.

With a good number of their comrades dead, the thugs lost taste for battle, but not before Alexander attempted to threaten them with his bravado. A threat that may have been more intimidating had he not been in his skivvies while issuing it. The Town Bully, quickly replied that they had been paid to take this group down, and that his employers were much more scary than anything this ragtag group of lesser races had to offer.

Little did the town bully realize, that coming up from behind him was the town guard. Upon arriving on the scene, Corporal Lance issued a cease all hostilities order, an order that was taken very seriously. At the sound of his voice, the town bully and his hired men moved to run. Some did manage to escape, but most were caught. In the attempt to flee, Alexander was able to trip up three of them, halting them in their tracks.

Corporal Lance approached the group, visibly shaken at the thought that the foreigners he had just let in not more than a few hours before, had already come into trouble… whether they were the cause of it or not, he could not be sure, and he did not care.

Citing regulation and law, Corporal Lance decreed that a fine must be met, a fine totaling no less than 900gp. Scoffing at the outrageous amount. Alexander, aided by Forge, managed to persuade Corporal Lance to take the money found from the bodies, and detainees captured as recompense. Upon searching the bodies, all were surprised to learn that they had indeed been paid well, very well. Some 300gp or so on just the ones that were captured. Someone, somewhere wanted them gone.

Corporal Lance, no longer seemed the blustering fool shaking up refugees for pocket change, but instead seemed very much like a man who was beaten by a system he had given up trying to fight. With the fight over, Forge asked Corporal Lance if he had seen Pathion. To which he replied with great disdain and insult.

Deciding it best not to press the man, Forge let him be on his way. Corporal Lance, did thank the group, in his own way, and let them know that he’d be able to keep the heat off them for a total of five days, if they lied low; after which, he could not be held responsible if they remained in the city. He did promise to let them back in, should they return at a later date.

The group decided it was best to use the five days to their fullest potential. Using all their remaining time, they helped out mainly around their immediate area, and mainly in Chordun’s blacksmith shop in an attempt to make themselves appear more welcome. Krosh took the opportunity to throw some money around, and hired many of the able bodied refugees, to help repair the house the group had found.

Using their various contacts found within the refugee ward, Krosh managed to find passage for Alexander, Max and Forge to get into the library to research some lore. Amongst the articles the group returned with was information regarding the Vampires the group had encountered in the Mines of the Dwarven Halls, as well as, information regarding the Fallenwood.

Through the lore, Alexander again had a nagging suspicion that all was not well, as the story presented as history was so very different than the reality he knew. Forge, through Chordun, and later his contact Namyr was able to learn that his father had found his way heading towards the Fallenwood. But the reports from his two friends, were conflicting in nature; the only agreement being that he did indeed venture south along Three Camp Road.

Forge, learning that the group was heading towards that general direction anyway, agreed to accompany the group, if anything to have more allies as he continued his search for his missing father. Upon learning of Alexander and Maximillion’s surname, Forge scoffed at them, for brazingly throwing out names of a royal line that had faded nearly four decades ago, two of which were before he was even born!

Not believing their tale, and having no reason to, Forge simply nodded and turned his attention to other matters. While speaking with the other members of the group, Forge learned that Krosh was a ranger of some small renown to the area, trained by the legendary Sheila Lalaneth-Jenkings, and that Maud’dib was a curious little creature with a penchant for talking to and with animals.

Blythe, unusually quiet, during this whole exchange, finally saw fit to let him know that she was seeking her father, an Elf rumored to be in the Fallenwood. It came as no small shock, when a piece of lore recovered from the library, showed the picture of the Elven Royal Family, a picture of the man she believed to be her father named amongst them. Settling in for the fourth evening, none dared stand up against them.

Leaving the Mines...
Allies returned.

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.

Free at last...?
Vampiric Menace

The dragon roared its thunderous roar, and shook the pillars of the dwarven mountain city. Debris and dust exploded into the air, as it demanded who would dare invade Mistress Virella’s sanctuary.

Insults were traded back and forth, with Pat finally getting the last barbed sting, and provoking Vanquesh the Vitriolic into attacking. And attack the mighty beast did.

Watching from another plane of existence, were two long lost allies. To them time was one; no past, no future, no present, but instead one continuous moment. In this realm, with their benefactor the white robed figure, they knew all. They knew how things would end, and they knew that they could not stay in this realm if all was to be restored. and the stars were to be returned to the skies above. Without their help, their allies would surely perish.

Reluctantly, the Alecxander and Maxmillion sacrificed their knowledge, their power, and returned to the prime plane of existence. Though to them they had been gone a few seconds, days had passed in the material realm. Blinking into the realm in a bright white flash, Maximillion jumped into action and began fighting Vanquesh, bringing with him his Eidolon. Soon after Alecxander also blinked in, drawing the beast’s attention from his allies.

The battle was fierce, but the dragon was not alone. Three orc champions, followed by Servant Savant, a vampire spawn, joined the fray. The little children giggling had returned, and these would be heroes would perish in a fitting tomb! The battle grew fierce and bloody, but Alecxander, Maximillion and Steelix the Eidolon focused their might on the great horned lizard, trusting their allies to hold their own against the newer enemies. Things became heated, but finally the overgrown lizard was brought low, letting out a blood curdling death shriek. Victory was all but assured, as the giggling and creepy laughter stopped.

Clapping permeated the darkness as a voice broke through the thick silence following the dragon’s demise. Mistress Virella admired the adventurer’s for their triumph against a juvenile black dragon. She offered to make an exchange, she would return the captured Nekel and Hazel to the group, if they agreed to leave the derelict mines and accept that the territory, formerly the Kingdom of Calagh, belonged to her and her minions while she pet the companion cat that had been with the group since the uncovered grave from the caves.

Dropping his hood in brilliant fashion, Alecxander Divinicus the Second, revealed his identity as Heir to the Throne of the Kingdom of Calagh, with Maximillion, the prince, his successor, at his side. Pat, able to clearly see Alecxander for the first time since meeting, recognized him immediately. Pat was daughter to the Captain of the Guard under Alecxander’s fathers reign, and had served in that same guard herself, before it became corrupted by the Steward currently in command. Putting herself between Mistress Virella and the rightful king, she let her pistol blaze in gunpowder and steel.

Angrily Mistress Virella declared that the line of kings was broken, and would never be restored! In retaliation she kicked out, and knocked Nekel off a ledge and into a 30 foot drop, killing him on impact. Alecxander bravely strode forward, and relied on Maximillion’s magical expertise to help neutralize this threat to the land. Accepting a few minor wounds, Mistress Virella dominated Alecxander’s mind and ordered him to “take care of the beast”. Maximillion realizing that events could spiral quickly out of control, quickly cast Glitter Dust, and blinded Mistress Virella. Alecxander then proceeded to follow the Mistress’s bidding, by petting, grooming and attempting to fee the Eidolon.

Down below Krosh, Blythe and Maud’dib in his leopard form tried with all their might to dispatch the orc champions, which proved to be more than capable in their own right. One Vampire was dangerous, two plus champions would prove to be near fatal.

Blythe was able to slip the Orc Champion pursuing her, opening up an opportunity for Maud’dib to pounce on it. Trading blows, Maud’dib took extensive wounds, and had to withdraw or risk death. Blythe meanwhile found her attempt to cover herself with the dead body of Vanquesh the Vitriolic thwarted when another of the Orc Champions blocked her path and took its own swings. Not one to run away from a battle with smelly orcs, Krosh put himself in harms way time and again to keep the humanoid monsters away from his less armored comrades.

Servant Savant, recognizing Krosh as the threat he was, dominated him, only to have Krosh break its hold soon after. Meanwhile, Alecxander and Maximillion had rendered Mistress Virella impotent. Once the orcs began dying, Servant Savant and Mistress Virella understood that there would be no victory. There were plenty of places to hide in this new territory of hers, and the two turned gaseous and disappeared into the caves.

Choosing not to follow, the group took a moment to regroup and work through the revelations they just discovered.

History told a story of the kingdom of Calagh, and a night of terror as Xak Tsaroth was destroyed by a black dragon named Narse the Maleficent. In this disaster, the kind lost both sons and his only grandchild to the dragon’s fury; a fury that was provoked by Alecxander’s brother’s greed, when he stole from Narse’s stronghold. The king died, not long after, broken and distraught. Alecxander’s wife, Caercynia, queen of the silver-haired elves of the Fallenwood had returned to her forest and closed her borders to all outsiders in her grief. her siblings Lycenia and Sylvani also returned from their travels to protect their people, fearing a vengeful dragon would continue to burn the entire land for their insolence.

Alecxander gaining a rare trait from his time spent in the other plane, was able to ascertain that this story was not in line with the actual story. In Alecxander’s memory, as he was at the battle of Passway, it was not Xak Tsaroth that was destroyed, but passway; and neither he nor Maximillion had perished, as his wife Caercynia had used forbidden magics to return him to the life of the living. Maximillion using his knowledge of the planes, acquired from his time spent on the other plane, deduced that perhaps, both stories were accurate. It seemed as if Alecxander had from an alternate reality, another plane of prime existence. Further talk, revealed Pathion to be Second Cousins to Maximillion, as she was cousins to Alecxander’s wife, Caercynia. Blythe, asserted that she was searching for her father, a male elf rumored to be one of the fair of the silver hair; one of Caercynia’s people.

One of the prophecies the group had received indicated that they were to head to the Tower of Sorcery in the Fallenwood, and a nagging feeling in Alecxander’s gut told him that the Tower was where they needed to head towards. During their time in the mines they had lost track of time, and so they needed to get their bearings, agreeing that a stop in Trijera would probably be best before continuing on to the Fallenwood and the Onyx Tower of Sorcery.

Blythe presented her drawing of her father to Alexcander in hopes that he may know if her father was part of the Fallenwood clan of elves. He did not say one way or the other.

The group desperately needed answers, as this adventure only created more questions.

Who are the three mysterious figures? They seemed benevolent and godly, but what was their agenda? Were they good or evil?

Who is this vampire that insists on destroying the dwarves in the mines? And what was the purpose of her joining the goblin, kobold, and orc races into one cohesive clan? What were her designs on the King of Calagh?

What purpose do Alecxander and Maximillion serve in this realm? Who brought them here?

Unknown to the group, in a not-so-distant land, a mother felt the death of her child. Rage swelled in her breast, and she let out a hideous roar that let acid fly. Death would come to those who destroyed Vanquesh. Death would come, indeed, and it would not be swift. It would be a thousand years of soaking in acid, it would be the most painful experience imaginable. It would be a death of legend.

Blink One, Blink Twice
Disappearing and Reappearing Allies

Collapsed on the floor lying perfectly still, with an occasional twitch was the comatose body of the summoner Maximillion. Not knowing what to do, the group decided that pressing on in their current condition was not a wise option, and decided to stay near the pillar to sort through their thoughts, and plan a course of action.

Rest did not come easily.

Upon awaking, the remaining allies were surprised to discover that Maximillion had disappeared, but in his spot, in the exact same position lied a sleeping body of Blythe, her tattoos refusing to extinguish entirely, glowing softly of her their own accord in a soft blue fuzz, mildly pulsating in rhythm with the blue shard now imbedded in her arm.

Lying near her was a crumped up piece of paper. Inspection of the paper revealed a drawing of an elven male, prominent in stature. Blythe immediately recognized the drawing to be that of her father, but how she knew that, she couldn’t be sure, as she had never actually met him. She knew, however, without a doubt, that it was surely him. Curious, as well, that she could not recall where she had been when she disappeared; memories that would be sure to recover over time, as she became re-acclimated to the scenery that she had returned to.

Missing from the group now, were Maximillion and Alexander, lost to them were Cedric, while Hazel and Nekel had both run off on their own, taking with them three other of the seemingly magical shards.

A loud roar, seemingly that of a dragon tore through the catacombs.

Choosing to press forward, the group quietly made their way through the dwarven catacombs, coming to the door that led into the what looked like a main hall of the dwarven mines. The sight was expansive, and breathtaking. Hollowed out of the mountain was a massive enclave, with a large road ramping up into what looked like the central hub of the city.

Pyramid in nature to reflect the outer mountain shell, the city rose high into the ceiling, seeming to connect eventually to the highest peaks of the mountain. From what the group could tell miles and miles of ground lay between the road they were on and the next that ran perpendicular in the exact same grade of elevation.

The oddest part about the whole thing. It was quiet. And it was dark. Blythe lit a ball of light, and the group proceeded to head up the ramp, with Maud’dib in Panther form. Entering into the main chamber, that also acted as a central hub, were a series of pillars and an alternating pattern of staircases and lifts, each one connecting a different floor level to another passage, all intersecting into the middle of the room. It seemed to go on up, forever.

It was still quiet.

Continuing on to the middle of the room, the group heard a disturbing childlike giggle cut through the silence and darkness. Soon it was joined by another, and then another. Always just out of reach, the group proceeded to follow the laughter, eventually separating themselves, which proved to be a mistake.

The laughter suddenly stopped, and hidden sconces in the pillars suddenly burst into flame in a domino pattern, revealing a score of recognizable foes: Goblins, Orcs, and Kobolds. It became very apparent that these mines no longer belonged to the Dwarves, and that perhaps, Cleaver and his masters had succeeded to a point in bringing together the three tribes of beastmen. The laughter resumed.

The battle encompassed not only the floor level, but proceeded to escalate up the next floor up, as the monstrous humanoids stayed out of range, and picked off clean shots from above. Maud’dib, still in panther form found it easily to communicate with the cat now, and was able to determine prior many interesting features. Together they coordinated a feline attack, with the cat taking out one of the goblins, all by itself.

When all seemed lost, and the battle at a stalemate, a thunderous roar ripped through the main hall and it approached quickly. All remaining beastment fled, and the laughter turned to wimpering that quickly disappeared into the dark.

As the impending doom descended onto the group, the roar turned into a deep, grumbling voice not unlike rocks grinding together in water.

“Who dares enter into my Master’s domain,” it said. “I am Vanquesh the Vitriolic, offspring of Narse the Maleficent, destroyer of Xak Tsaroth. There is no escape. Your lives are forfeit. The mistress demands it!”

Each step brought the beast that much closer, with the group unsure how to proceed.

Burial Chambers #2
And Then There Were Four.

Attempting to find a route back the way they came, the group noticed a faint fog filtering into the room. As they moved closer to the original room from where they entered, the fog thickened. Blythe, using her detect magic spells and spellcraft abilities was able to discern that the spell was a permanency of Solid Fog. Krosh trying to feel his way through the fog, was able to follow a circuitous route along the walls, but unable to locate the exit, as if the door had been resealed.

Investigating the dwindling magic coming from the sarcophagi, the group decided to open a couple of the graves. Finding nothing of note, other than remarkably well preserved mummies, the group decided that it was best to not desecrate the well kept dwarves.

Electing to explore and find a safe spot to rest, the group decided to go west, where not too far into the burial chambers they encountered a room with a peculiar feature. In the middle of this chamber was a large four-sided pillar, atop a square base lined with dwarven runes along each side. Carved along each side of the pillar itself where other sets of dwarven runes. Using her magic, yet again, Blythe was able to determine that the runes, as well as the pillar were a locking mechanism.

Before proceeding on, they decided to try and get some rest, as a good majority of their energy and abilities were spent fighting just moments before.

After their rest, Krosh noticed that four large objects had been pried from the pillar, one for each side. A quick inspection of one of the nearby rooms revealed a large round plate, roughly 12 inches in diameter, that seemed to match the holes in the pillar itself. Deciding that these plates needed to be reinserted, the group continued to search each room, leaving Maximillion and Alexander to watch the pillar with the first plate.

A few rooms over, the group discovered a quote comical argument between an orc, kobold, and goblin. A closer inspection, Krosh was able to determine that these three bore a strong resemblance to the three from the dreamscape world in which they met with the three mysterious beings.

After listening in, Krosh was able to determine that the Kobold was translating for both the goblin and orc, while cursing sporadically in dwarven. Very clearly intelligent, he decided to let the group know, and they began planning an ambush. After a lengthy debate on how to act, the group decided on a particularly well-thought plan, but upon returning to the chamber which held the three monsters, the group found that the room was empty.

A couple chambers down, the group found the three, with the gobln lying in wait. The battle started off fierce, and these three seemed particularly more capable in their tactics and abilities than anything the group has faced thus far. After killing the kobold, and the orc, the goblin dropped his weapon and surrendered.

At this point, he became severely docile, answering all questions that Krosh had for him, and even offering to assist them if needed. Getting all the information he was going to, Krosh dispatched the goblin. Upon searching the bodies, Pat was able to find some nice gear and weaponry, far beyond anything they had encountered to date, and Blythe’s use of her magic also came in handy, revealing these items to be magically enhanced. The group divided up what they could based on who needed what, and set about to look for the remaining plates.

After a long, arduous search of the entire crypt, the group was able to find all four. Using a bit of logic and luck, the group placed the plates back into the pillar, which immediately began glowing with a bright white, light emanating from the runes. The pillar itself began to rotate, grinding stone upon stone, and a blue light began to pulsate from the pillar, engulfing it in what looked like magical flame. The stone crumbled from the center of the pillar, and the ground shook violently. In the center of the pillar was another blue gem shard, glowing fiercely of its own accord. Krosh went in to scoop up the blue shard, but before he could get it into his bag, it shot lightning quick to Blythe and imbedded itself into her arm.

Pain shot across her body, and her skin began to grow taut as she began to glow with a white glow of her own. The tattoos across her body pulsated in rhythm with the pillar. A crescendo of screams filled the chamber, both male and female. A loud burst filled the room in a white flash, and then suddenly it was quiet. The pillar had ceased moving, and the group could hear more rock against rock as the entrances to the chambers opened. But missing from the room were both Alexander and Blythe, while Max lay in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Burial Chambers, Re-evaluating.
New players have entered the game.

The group backtracked the Sanctuary chamber in pursuit of the missing duo of Hazel and Nekel.

On the other side of the dying bonfire, amongst the torn limbs and broken bodies of the riot that occurred after the death of Cleaver stood an unknown female Tiefling, with a sword aimed directly at a body lying at her feet. Krosh, quick to end a fight before it began, fired an arrow that sailed wide and clinked against the stone wall beside her, with a stern warning to not follow through. Unflinching, the Tiefling smiled an evilly toothy grin, stabbing downward in a quick thrust

Turning to bolt through the passage on the side, the Tiefling paused to drop something at the body’s side. Muad’Dib was quick to cast Faerie Fire, surrounding the fleeing assassin in a purple glow, as she made to escape.

Krosh Jenkins, approaching the body, recognized Cedric, the cleric they had met back at the tavern and who had become separated from the group when Krosh inadvertently tripped a trap that caused a cave in.

Cedric was almost unrecognizable in his current condition; having been beaten and bloodied a good deal.

Looking to pursue, Maud’dib dashed to try and keep up with the fleeing Tiefling. As Krosh passed by the deceased Cedric, the object dropped at his side drew his attention. Blood drained from his face, and terror gripped him momentarily. He recalled quickly the rumors and songs of a deadly band of assassins who were so aptly name the Night Parade.

Known for their prowess in assassinating their marks expertly, the group confined themselves to the shadows, making themselves known and seen only to toy with their prey before delivering a fatal blow; the only sign of their passing being the signature marks they left in their wake, elegantly crafted masquerade masks. Seemingly mundane, the masks served no purpose other than to instigate and taunt the local authorities. Rumors suggested that only those of the Parade would recognize their own work, and to carry one almost certainly invited their wrath.

Recovering, quickly, Krosh proceeded to follow the Tiefling, nearly setting off a deftly hidden trap. Able to quickly back away, Krosh was able to move back without setting off the tripwire; all the while the Tiefling rounding the corner and making good her escape.

A quick discussion between Blythe, Maud’dib and Krosh proved prudent as they grabbed one of the heavier remaining logs from the bonfire and set the trap off. Taking time to allow for the tanglefoot goo to dry, they returned to the deceased Cedric. Maud’din called upon his healing powers, but to no avail, Cedric was truly gone, and short of a wish spell, or true resurrection spell, there would be no bringing him back.

Pathion took an immediate interest in the mask, and aptly put it on, enjoying the emerald green jeweled studs that decorated the elegant craftsmanship. Searching through Cedric’s belongings, the group acquired: 2 gold pieces, 1 silver, and 4 copper. Also in his purse were 3 gems (presumably, those pilfered from Gems and Baubles, prior to the building blowing up). On his person were also 2 potions of cure light wounds; as well as a Medallion of Cayden Cailean about his neck.

Losing the trail of the Tiefling, and Hazel and Nekel, the group decides to continue on through the tunnels. On the other side of the Sanctuary Chamber is a large room with four sealed sarcophagi equally mirroring each other, one in each corner. Along the wall are crypt shelves, each one five feet wide, and 4 feet tall, lining upwards in columns of ten.

Within the room are bodies, and remains of many dwarves, some seemingly deceased of natural causes, others looking to have been ripped apart. First glance looks as if this scene hadn’t been disturbed in decades, as the bodies were remarkably well preserved, almost mummified in the areas that were not skeletal remains. It’s also worthy to note that the remains in this chamber are seemingly those of civilians, possibly women and children; all dwarvish in stature.

The door to the north is sealed shut, while the door to south broken inward in a shards of splintered wood; and the one in the west missing completely. Another deeper inspection of the room, revealed some of the bodies had been removed, or were entirely missing. Almost as if the longer you stared at it, the more the scene revealed its secrets. What remained of the door that was broken in, was a thick piece of wood, indicating that whatever entered was large, and powerfully strong.

Looking through the doors to the west and south, revealed mirror images of the design, and Krosh’s knowledge of dungeoneering confirmed what had already been suspected. They had entered into the dwarven crypts, which meant that the main city was not too far off. Blythe begins to detect a type of magic coming from the sarcophagi, but after telling the group of its weakening properties, opts to leave them alone.

Something through the western door spooks Maud’dib and his bat, Glider, enough to where the gnome casts dancing lights in the room. However, it doesn’t have a huge effect, as the rooms are very well lit, having lit torches placed in sconces towards the “ceiling” of the crypts, seemingly everburning.

Entering into the west chamber, a quick scout of the three open doors reveals another set of mirror images, and Krosh begins mapping out their progress of what he sees, so that if they need to backtrack they can. There are also bodies in this room, but not as many, and these are very clearly warriors, defenders possibly; the equipment is so sold that its not worth inspecting. Moving quietly, the group overhears faint whispering coming from the chamber to the north. A quick listen in and the group is able to determine the presence of a single goblin and kobold.

Following the conversation, with some quick translating, the group is able to ascertain that there are three bosses, presumably leaders of the respective tribes, and that they answer to the “Mistress” who keeps a pet, which terrifies the goblin beyond any sane means, but holds a sort of awe with the kobold, who refers to it as a “baby.”

The group infers that the Mistress refers to the Mysterious Femaie Vampire from their dreamscape episode, but are lost as to what this “pet” might be. A well placed shot by Pathion catches the Kobold by surprised, and kills him immediately. Using his brute size to intimidate the remaining creature, the goblin becomes compliant, answering whatever questions the group asks.

The goblin is seemingly terrified by this “pet” and though he wants to tell the group what it is, he can’t seem to overcome his fear to get the words out. He then tells the group that the Mistress is uniting the bosses in an effort to carve out a home where they don’t have to live in squalor, as they’ve done in the past; but he doesn’t trust her. he also indicated that there are more like her in the main city, that she is not the only of her kind.

Historic knowledge of these Halls have shown that in the past when the Dwarves were enslaved, there was a vampiric menace behind it. Its possible that the previous adventuring party that had set the dwarves free had not finished off the vampire, and perhaps she had returned to finish the job.

The group decided that it was best to not instigate a battle with the vampires in the city and their “pet.” Krosh quickly killed the goblin, much to the chagrin of a clapping creature from the unmonitored door to the west. In their interrogation of the goblin, the creature had managed to watch most, if not all, of the scene unfold. Clearly, at one point Dwarf, the creature now in display was mutated, changed, and no longer reminiscent of any natural race of Golarion.

The creature asked the group to come quietly indicating that the mistress just wanted to talk to them. The group rebuked, and opted to run, leading headfirst into an ambush of goblins, kobolds, and a single orc. The dwarven vampire attacked head on, accepting each hit with a snarl and a laugh, flashing fang whenever possible. Using claws to attack, it rushed Krosh. Maud’dib summoned an earth elemental to help, but it proved to be ineffective; while Blythe and Pathion dealt with the humanoids from the rear.

A few failed attempts at biting Krosh caused the creature to attempt to parley again, in which it offered to allow the group to keep their weapons, but would have their hands bound. Choosing to fight until the end, the creature attacked full force. Noticing the group was hurting, and not wanting to kill them, the creature beckoned the group,

“Come, children, the Mistress is waiting… and if you decide to run, you’ll find your path blocked.”

and the remaining kobold backed off and disappeared into the south chambers.

More questions, Death of an Ally

While recapping the events of the honorable fight with Cleaver; Pathion Stardust was able to locate a hidden cache laden with supplies: 20 rations, 3 flasks of water, a quiver of arrows (20) a pouch of bullets (10). Also inside this cache of goodies were three Potions of Cure Light Wounds, and a Wand of Cure Light Wounds.

It was during this time that the group noticed the blue gem shard reacted not only to Alexander, but to the tattoos scattered across Blythe’s body, causing them to glow in a similar color. When moved away, the gem faded to grey, only to reignite when brought close to Alexander and Blythe, though the crystal did not pull to Blythe as it did to Alexander.

During a closer inspection, Pathion was also able to find a cleverly hidden switch along the wall. Carved from the rock itself the craftsmanship was very clearly dwarven, but the intricate work connecting it to whatever device it initiated was something more elven in nature. Pressing the button unleashed a power AoE spell that engulfed the rooms in a purple glow.

A quick spellcraft check and detect magic revealed spells to be Stoneskin and Arcane Lock. The bar and door behind them disappeared, and appeared solid rock, encasing the group, for all intents and purposes, inside a giant rectangular cube.

A sense of serenity came over the group, peaceful and inviting. There was no malice sensed, and this came across as a sanctuary. Some quick deductions decided that this place was meant as a last ditch effort, a last stand place, meant to separate the mining operation from the rest of the Halls.

Deciding to rest and wait out the enchantments, the group fell into a deep slumber. But it was not a peaceful sleep. Dreams of a babe sacrificed on an altar surrounded by dancing, snarling green kobolds awaited them in their slumber before the image disappeared into a fog of white haze.

When the fog cleared, three beings, unknown to the group were arguing amongst themselves; words that most of the party were able to overhear. One was dressed in all white, grizzly and aged; the other in red, alluring and sensual, and the last in all black, gaunt and haughty. The argument grew heated, but during the course of eavesdropping, the group was able to discern that they were siblings, and had, if nothing else, indirect knowledge about the blue gemshards.

Krosh asked about the dream with the baby, to which the figure in white responded that the “baby had been sacrificed.” And that the paths chosen, and the choices made had put into motion a series of events meant to invoke a prophecy.

Krosh asked about the note he found from the defeated body of Cleaver, to which the beings responded with instructions: "To go west, you must first seek out the fair of the silver hair to the east (To go left, you must go right).

The “fair of the silver hair” are known to be the mysterious elvish people of the Fallenwood; the same forest, the outskirts of which, houses the entrance to these caves that the group initially started through.

Speaking in generally vague terms the figures did impart various knowledge. The group learned that they were chosen as potentials to restore the balance of the skies. One of three groups, to date, that had been chosen for this endeavor. It was indicated that some of the first group still lived, while it was alluded that the entire band of mercenaries that made up the second group were eventually killed to the last man.

When Blythe asked who they needed to seek out, the beings informed them that they were to look for the Witch of the Onyx tower. This tower is known to reside along the Eastern edge of the Forest of the Fallenwood.

When asked about the shards the group had been acquiring, the beings became especially vague; the knowledge they did impart is that the shards made up a large gem and that gem carries the power to restore the balance.

“Slay the Errant One and restore the balance. The count must be kept. The line must be restored.”

Maud’dib during the course of this interaction, became convinced that the beings they were dealing with in this dream were Gods, likely representatives of three of the many constellations that had fallen from the evening sky.

Having had enough, the figure in black demanded a Trial, to which the figure in Red agreed, and the figure in white reluctantly acquiesced. His only caveat was that his champions would not participate, at which point Alexander and Maximillion faded from view. Though, no longer participating, they were still able to watch the scenes unfold.

Pathion and Blythe were engulfed in a black glow, their skin draining to white, becoming taut against the skin.

Maud’dib and Krosh were in turn champions of the figure in Red, their skin and clothing turning to a fire that did not burn.

Elevating to a spectator platform the figures watched, as a white fog engulfed the group and then retreated leaving behind Kobolds. Looking upwards the group noticed three large gem shards in the distance, in which Maud’dib used his knowledge of the dreamworld to try and float towards. Though he gained ground, the crystal shards seemed no closer than they had when he first begun. The party was able to dispatch the Kobolds with minimal effort.

At this time the Fog enclosed in again and began glowing a red, when it receded, left in its wake were a number of Goblins. After defeating a couple, the red fog returned, and the goblins were gone.

The figure in black, angry, brought forth a black cloud of fog, and in its wake were three large humanoids. One Goblin, One Kobold, and One Orc. Individually, they were no match, but together, the group had to dig deep and discover new found abilities within this dream world. When defeated, the Fog threatened to come forth again, but rather than a solid color, it was as if the spectrum of light was battling with itself, and the fog emanated colors of all variations.

Surprised, the beings began chanting, and it seemed almost as if they were trying to stabilize this realm. Suddenly, a being materialized, female and very seductive; her smile condescending. When she cackled, fangs flashed, and everyone knew they were seeing a vampire.

It had been known that when the Mines were first shutdown it was because a host of vampires had moved in and enslaved the Dwarven people. Could this be the same vampiric menace?

The vampire was very nonchalant, and after taunting the three beings, she left the dream world of her own accord, beseeching the “chosen ones” to seek her out, and that she would be waiting.

The last words the group heard, before they were ushered out of the dream were, “Seek ye out the Fair of the Silver Hair. The Line must be Restored. The Count must be kept.”

When waking from their dream, the rectangular sanctuary was shielded no more. The doors on either side were both open, and missing were Hazel, Nekel, along with the gem shard that Krosh had acquired from Cleaver.

On the ground in a tidy pile were three other shards, seemingly placed there deliberately.

A quick tracking by Krosh indicated that Hazel had retreated back the way they had come through. Choosing to chase her down, the group peered into the previous room, with the bonfire still going strong. It was clear of any enemies, but the remains of a mighty battle could be seen, as blood and body parts were splattered and strewn about everywhere. In the distance, they were able to make out two figures, one a tiefling, the other unknown. Upon closer inspection they saw the unknown to be Cedric the Cleric, battered and beaten; a broken shell, barey alive, and towering over him was a female tiefling they had not encountered before. She snarled at them, dropped something on Cedric’s body, and stabbed downward with her sword. He gasped one last time as life left his mangled body. Krosh knocked an arrow and fired quickly, but the arrow sailed wide and hit the wall. While Maud’dib began casting Faerie Fire…

Dwarven Mines Underbelly
New Friends, Lost Allies

The dying orc’s cry for an alarm, though noticed, didn’t quite work out the way it was intended; hearing the scuffle of battle nearby, Krosh split from the main group into a side chamber to see what the commotion was. It would seem the orc’s back up had already found trouble in a mysterious Elf who’s quick reflexes, bravado and guns were more than enough to keep the enemies at bay. Attempting to assist, Krosh was quickly overwhelmed by a few well place hits, and had to withdraw momentarily to bind his wounds and stop a ferocious bleeding that threatened to leave him dying in an unknown, nondescript piece of land; a tomb of unreknown… no one would ever know of his disappearance.

Not one to let a couple of battle wounds stop him, he was right back in the fray, running full speed to finish the orc who had stuck him good, only to come to a surprise halt, in both his run and trash talking, as he rounded the corner and found his enemy lying in a pool of his own, with bone remnants and gore plastered into the wall behind him.

Having seen the effectiveness of the androgynous elf, the remaining goblins tucked tail and ran into a side passage. Wanting to continue on, but not wanting to leave the party, Krosh decided that he and his newfound companion were better off regrouping to try and heal up some wounds.

Using the last “pilfered” potion of cure light wounds, Krosh was able to get himself well enough to continue on. In this chamber, were the group was successfully able to silence the alarm, the group took quick stock of their surroundings.

In this chamber were four large piles of rubble and rock, no doubt debris from a mining operations that once took part in this immediate area. It didn’t look to have been disturbed in what seemed like ages; as a thick layer of dust had settled, and the air was thick and stale. Off in the distance, faint drums could be heard, but its origin was unknown. Pressing on ahead with Alexander leading the way, the troupe came into another chamber, smaller, with six tables stacked of mined ore. Not quite mithral, but more than silver, this ore was likely the unfinished product that the dwarves would refine into their goods, trade, weapons and armor. This also looked to have been undisturbed, almost as if the various clans of beastmen had no use for such metals.

Slowly working their way forward the group slipped into a narrow corridor with what seemed to be furnaces of varying sizes, the spot where the ore was likely melted into ingots, in preparation for whatever the final shape the ore took before hitting markets. There was a cold feeling to this area. If this was indeed a mine, and part of what looked to be the underbelly of the Halls of the Dwarven Mines, where were the dwarves? The walls were more deliberate in their nature, and less natural. Where the walls before had been almost constructed through natural and/or magical means, these were clearly mineshafts in construction.

As they made their way through the corridor, chiseled into the rock in Dwarven was a warning.

“The mines be cursed.”

The same warning that Blythe, Alexander and Maximillion had seen in their separate travels at what would be a road leading into the “Entrance” up on the surface.

The corridor them opened up into a rather large chamber, where placed on solid rock tables were long 2 × 4 ingots. Heavy as it was, each one looked to weight roughly about 50 pounds. and each table was stacked 6 feet high. This was very clearly the refined product of the smelters from the corridor before. Taking his hand and running it along a length of one of the ingots, revealed decades of dust, and even that quick run, revealed the silvery sheen underneath. It was in this room, that the drums could clearly be heard coming from the next chamber over.

Carefully, Krosh peeked around the corner to find something that wasn’t very common. In this room was a large bonfire, and dancing around the bonfire where untold numbers of goblins, kobolds, and orcs; each race clearly keeping to its own, but no doubt enjoying a festivity of some sort. Stealthily making his way back to the others, to tell them of what he saw, the group quietly managed to move the ingots into a position that would barricade the hallway.

Krosh and Pat, the elf, then went back to look at this strange gathering. With some quick thinking, Krosh fired a couple of the Goblin made arrows into the foray, and yelled out in Goblin a version of “Viva la Revolucion” One of the arrows found its mark in the throat of an orc, and an all scale riot broke out between the three subspecies. Wanting to wait it out, one of the orcs heard the sound of gunpowder. Gathering two of its allies, they made their way through the bloodbath of what was once a party of sorts, and launched an attack. Using guerilla tactics, the group hid behind the barricade, and peppered the attackers. During a run to gather reinforcements, Pat and Krosh were able to pick off two of the runners, with a third finally making it back.

From somewhere in the chaos came a loud voice, strong, sure and well spoken that called for, “Enough.”

After some assurances that they would not be harmed, the group agreed that Krosh and Pat should attempt to parley their way through. There was much discussion as to why these surface dwellers would invade their home unprovoked. Despite an attempt of bravado and flattery by Pat that did nothing, the leader, Cleaver, by name challenged Krosh and Pat to honorable combat.

If they win, Cleaver would answer their questions and allow them to pass through the chamber unharmed, however, wading through a mine full of goblins, kobolds and orcs, after instigating a fight that resulted in deaths of many, was not the most intelligent of decisions. Fail, and they would be cut down where they stood.

Krosh and Pat accepted the challenge. The battle was fierce, surrounded by many creatures, chanting and banging sword to shield against the orange glow coming from the bonfire in the background, and both sides took many vicious hits. A well placed shot by Pat dropped Cleaver to his knees, to which he grinned cockily, calling Krosh and Pat fools.

The stunned silence, deteriorated quickly into an all out brawl when the orcs standing behind Cleaver, finished him off by beheading him, no doubt trying to assume his place as leader of the clans. A quick rummage through his headless body produced a medium size pouch, and the group was able to navigate through the chaos, taking minor hits, but it seemed as though the beastmen wanted nothing to do with the group. Making it to the other side of the chamber, the group managed to get a metal door shut and barred, preventing any would be marauder from following. The sounds of battle, the dead and the dying, could be heard from the other side.


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