Eberron Omega

Chapter 9b-1 - Ethos' Quest
Tying the pieces together like an ugly quilt.

When everyone else goes through the Sharn portal, Ethos makes for the Droaam portal (closer to Eldeen Reaches). The party decides to split the sending stones between Ethos and Dez so they can get in contact if necessary.

Ethos will return to the Gatekeepers and report what has transpired. Your superior looks grim when you break the news of the Keeper’s Key (the artifact Astrid was sent to investigate) and of Gribnak’s apparent presence. They’re equally concerned about the appearance of the Rakshasa. You find that odd, given the Gatekeepers are typically driven to combat Aberrations, but he will explain that the Lords of Dust aren’t careless. They’re an ever-present evil that soils the surface world. They preceded the Gatekeepers and have corrupted almost every civilization and nation ever to exist. Their plans are so expansive that they take decades to even move one step. That being said, the simple fact of a Rakshasa so openly working with the group can mean one of two things. Either he’s the most arrogant Rakshasa to ever walk the planet, or he’s so near to his goal that he doesn’t care for subtlety anymore.

Your superior dismisses you so he can go talk to the elders about this revelation. He says in parting that you should seek out your old friend Roc to see if he has any news on that end. He should also have some information for you on your Kamestiri suit, as he resides nearest the area it was crafted.

Your journey to Roc is a bittersweet one. You almost feel cast aside. But you’ve come to expect that from the Gatekeepers. You’re not sure if they’ll ever fully accept you. But, in any event, you carry on to Roc with a distinct purpose in mind. When you meet up with him, he’s still in the same grove watching over Hyde’s Pass. He informs you that the town is really coming about and things have returned to the peaceful normalcy that existed when Ethos lived there. On new events, he has nothing to report except that he hasn’t heard from Zed in a long time, which is odd. They communicated pretty regularly for a while, but the communication just stopped all of a sudden. His last known whereabouts were actually in the Lhazaar Principalities. He had been deployed there to recruit for the Gatekeepers. Apparently they’re softening their iron grip on enrollment and allowing an eastern sect to be established with more leniency on racial restrictions. Roc sniffs at this, then ponders for a second before saying he’s surprised they didn’t charge you with investigating it, given the proximity and your distant but strangely relative ties to Zed now. You would most likely respond by saying you just returned from Khyber and communication was nonexistent. And the information you brought back to them most likely took precedent.

In any event, Roc will carry on about old stories and familiarities and such, and it’s a welcome change to the horrors underground you just escaped. You stay the night in his grove and the next day he ushers you to the mountains to the south where after a day or so of travel, you find the entrance to some ruins that could easily be mistaken for a cave. On further inspection, you realize they’re Dhakanni ruins as they bear similar structure and markings to some of the ruins you frequented in Droaam. Delving inside you see no signs that anyone or anything aside from random critters have been in this structure in a long, long while. The structure isn’t massive. It appears to be more like a monastery with remnants of gardens and courtyards long worn away and covered with foliage. Some parts of the structure open up to the sky, but even from above, no one could tell it was anything significant. Nearing the back you find the stairs Roc described and you descended. Beneath the temple are numerous chambers, presumably the dormitory of the monastery. Nothing of note is in any of the smaller rooms. But the abbot’s chamber is your destination. Within you will find what you’re looking for. Among the old ruins of rags and texts you find parchment bearing a ritual for item transference. According to Roc, this ritual will allow you to completely extract the properties of one item and place them in another of your choosing, making it as though the new item exists just like the old one in magical enhancement. In the case of the Kamestiri set, the properties of the new item would work just as if it was the old item. Satisfied with your findings, you start to leave, when a shift in the room catches your ear. Something at the desk moved with the weight of your movement on the floor. Looking the desk over, you uncover a secret compartment hiding a switch. Pressing the switch the wall behind you begins to slide down and behind it lays a fantastically crafted longbow, beside it a quiver full with arrows whose heads are a purplish metal like the flail Tripper carries. The haft of the Bow is also made of this material. Unable to resist, you retrieve both items and make your way back to Roc.

Roc confirms the item as a Dhakanni make, and clearly the pinkish metal is Byeshk. But the item bears some greater property he cannot identify. He declares it a fortunate find and tells you to hang onto it and the scroll, and if you find the item you wish to transfer, bring it back to him and he will perform it for you.

Reporting back to the elders through spell, your superior says the Elders are deeply troubled by what you have told them. They believe that the Rakshasa intends to take Keeper’s Key for himself and use it for some evil end. What that could be, is unknown. But given his seemingly reckless behavior, it appears he might be planning to use the device to unleash one of the dark lords.

By your accounts, the location you were in, in Khyber, lies near the seal under Lhazaar. That area of Khyber is rife with Aboleths, so it makes the most sense. With the disappearance of Zed so recently also in the area, the Elders charge you to make haste to the area and find out exactly what’s going on. Most likely the epicenter of this threat is there. Before departing, you check in with Dez through the sending stone and find they’re not far away in Tripper’s Keep. Roc summons up a Griffon for you and you make quick your journey to Adamant Keep.

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Chapter 9b - A Shift in the Tide
When one door closes, others may open.

030310 Game Night Recap:

The night passed without incident, but Omega was unable to get a completely restful sleep, as their new charge tossed and turned, moaned and whimpered on the floating disk through the whole 6 hours. On finally rousing, the group was a bit drained from the experience, but decided they had rested enough to move on. They filed back through the cell chamber and up to the temple. Seeing and hearing no changes in the room, they pressed on to the other stair well leading down.

Upon opening the door… The room is a corrupted bastardization of its former self. The tiles on the floor blackened and shattered, bits of tile litter about. The walls of the main chamber look soot-covered and scorched with beads of condensation trickling down them like sweat. At second glance, they appear to be pulsing slightly, as if they were breathing. But you shake that maddening possiblity from your mind.

Screams echo at random intervals through the chamber that are abruptly cut short. A low thrum, like a Lightning Rail humming down the tracks, or the wind passing solidly by your ears while at full sail on a wind galleon, fills the entire floor. Pulsing, throbbing, compressing your skull with every pulse. It causes you no pain, but is an everpresent force that threatens to shake your very soul.

Dolgaunt Straight ahead is an opening that possibly was once a door. Now it stands a pink, fleshy portal, flailing tentacles whipping past in random succession. The room beyond is padded in the pink fleshy substance about the door. More tentacles randomly jutting out and thrashing wildly. A blue-white light ripples out of the room, spilling into the chamber before you. The two creatures in view looking inward on the room in awe and anticipation. A buzzing sound, like the couplings on a lightning rail track, follow the rippling sound. In addition to the Grimlocks (recognized by Tripper from a battle in Omega’s early days), the party can clearly see a Dolgaunt across the room. In his hands, an unconscious Dez. Grimlocks

Not having been spotted, Omega quickly set about a plan of attack. Ethos quickly and quietly checks all the rooms around them to ensure no trap is set. Secured, they set up and then blaze ahead full throttle into combat. Leading the way is Tripper as a volley of arrows from Ethos and fire from Astrid rocket over his head, paving the way.

The two Grimlocks sprint forward flailing wildly with their Greataxes. The Dolgaunt holding Dez starts to move, but is cut off by Thon’s spirit companion. It struggles with the spirit before brushing past it to find a meatier foe. Beyond the doorway, a voice in deep speech can be heard asking a “master” what to do. No audible response is heard, other than a groan amid the pulsing of arcane light.

Moments later, another Dolgaunt rounds the corner as the one once holding Dez is cut off again by Thon’s spirit companion. Strategically mastered by Omega, the foes are no match for the flurry of strikes, arrows, and spells that will ensue. Pinned to the floor and smothered in arcane death, two of them fall while the second Grimlock takes his final breath surrounded by Astrid’s fireball, Corwyn, and Thon.

The Dolgaunt who held Dez, at seeing the hopeless situation, reports back to the “master” that the situation did not seem winnable and asked for guidance again. His wincing spoke the response to press on. But not a second later, seeing his brother fall, the dolgaunt turned on the battle and exclaimed “I am sorry, my master, but the Dark Lord’s Orders take precedent over this situation.” He then rounds the corner with Tripper en tow. He scoops up Harlos who was lying on the floor and makes way.

As Tripper enters the room… Within the room, a closer inspection of the walls reveals faces, thousands of them. Random floating eyes, noses and gaping mouths writhe about, pulsing and flowing as if in some fleshy sea. Periodically the screams spurt forth only to be muffled in the wave of flesh that flows over them. Shouts of curses in languages unknown echo about the chamber. Occasionally some familiar words can come forth. An Elvish tongue spits out foul curses to its tormentor about retributions to come. A common tongue will shriek out an ear-piercing howl of “HOST SAVE ME!” or “BY THE TWELVE MOONS, HAVE MERCY!”

A bluish-white skinned creature with tentacles where his mouth should be, hangs in a sort of suspended pose, arms out wide bound by the lightning arcs pulsing from his hands. The arcs leading to 4 arcane pillars of energy at points around an arcane glyph on the floor beneath him. Behind him a gaping maw opens up to a swirling portal, powered by the effects of the creature’s incantation. Illithid

The Dolgaunt made for the portal and just as Tripper caught up to him, a massive humanoid in a dark and foreboding helmet emerges from the portal. The familiar fiend followed narrowly by his foul master, the Rakshasa known only to the party as Maleena. Maleena

Warduke Warduke hammered the Dolgaunt and followed through pushing him away from the gate. Following suit, Maleena points at him and exclaims “that will not be necessary” in response to Tripper’s issuance of a deal to get the Dolgaunt to drop Harlos and go free. The wave of mental energy that issued from Maleena was barely noticeable except for the response the Dolgaunt gave when his brain shattered then melted through his nose and he slumped coldly to the fleshy floor.

Warduke stood coldly still, like a construct. The imagery strikingly eerie as he faced Tripper, both relatively equal in size and shape, and now posture. Almost a mirror image of each other on different sides of the moral spectrum.

The Mind Flayer holding the portal open, seeing the situation lost, starts to let the ritual end and close the portal, but Maleena raises a hand toward him saying “uh uh uh, not yet” and the Mind Flayer tenses and freezes in place, sustaining the portal. Maleena then initiates dialogue with Omega.

“I would like to formally thank you on leading me where I needed to go. You may take your companions, I have no need of them. Your journey has, effectively ended, no doubt?” He looks directly at Tripper when he says it.

The party having moved into the room all begin frantically quizzing Maleena on what is beyond the portal, to which he skirts the issue by saying it’s “not of your concern,” and then changes the subject to address Corwyn as he enters the room. He reaches into his robe and pulls forth a leather bound object, tossing it to Corwyn. When Corwyn opens it, light floods the room, temporarily blinding Corwyn and Tripper. Those further away recognize it as a Sybris Dragonshard. Corwyn covers it back up and Maleena says to him, “that should help you on your quest,” to which Corwyn gives thanks.

Another of the party asks how they will leave this place, to which Maleena responds “you haven’t explored this whole complex, have you? That would be my first course of action to find the answer to that question. You’ll find the path quite clear now.”

Maleena, turns to follow Warduke back through the portal, pausing only as Thon enters the room, he turns to say “Don’t you have an appointment to keep? I’m afraid you and Corwyn now have more in common than you know.” And he passes through the portal.

As soon as Maleena is gone, the Mind Flayer regains control of himself. He drops the ritual and presses an attack to escape, but Omega handle him before he even moves 2 paces.

Having dispatched the last foe in the citadel, Omega makes way back through to the temple and cautiously works their way into the entryway. In the great hall, they can see beyond in the street hundreds of Foulspawn corpses scattered about. Their positioning appearing to have been attacking some threat coming in from the main gate. And, for all intents and purposes, it seems as though they didn’t stand very long against their foe. Scorch marks, slashes, gashes, all maner of ways do die are present, as such there’s no clue to what or who might have laid waste to the horrid creatures.

To their right and left, Omega see side doors in the chamber. Each door leading to stairs up. Moving first to the right, they encounter a locked door at the end of a hallway with a plaque next to it. The door has no apparent locking mechanism. On the plaque it reads: Only one color, but not one size, Stuck at the bottom, yet easily flies, Present in sun, but not in rain, Doing no harm, and feeling no pain.

After much deliberation, and some assistance by Dez, the solution of “A Shadow” is decided upon. When the answer is spoken to the air, a sheen ripples across the wall beside them and they hear a click in the door as though a lock came free.

Moving inside they find that the room was a treasury prior to the current occupation. Some remnants of the old Dwarven stronghold remain. Most of the items in the rooms, however, are carelessly tossed inside, as though the Foulspawn just walked in and randomly threw items of their prey. Among several powerful items in the rooms, a literal fortune in Khyber shards are present, easily ready for item augmentation, once Omega returns to civilization. When moving through to the last back corner room, the group almost left it untouched except someone spotted a secret passage behind a pile of rubbish. Passing through lead to another chamber with nothing more inside than a small stone block with a circlet on top. Inspecting it brought no answers, so Asrtid removed it from the block. No sooner did she touch it, but a torrent of thoughts, visions, phrases in several different languages flood her mind. None of it discernable, even the languages she recognizes. It’s simply a flurry of thought, as though flood gates had fallen open. After a couple of painful seconds of this, the malaise settles and her mind eases and a single sharp voice rings through in her mind, “It’s about time someone was smart enough to get in here and free me! If I still had my body… Well, in any event, what’s on the menu?” Astrid does not reply, she merely muses at the idea of an intelligent being stuck inside an item. She notes a feeling from the entity of deep desire for domination, an air of egoism, and a twinge of madness. When his thoughts are leaked free – and she presumes it’s a “he” based on the voice, but it gives no other indication of its species or race- there are peculiar strains to them. Concepts and plans that seem to contradict each other come forth with equal emphasis. As though the creature thinks in conflict with itself. Or maybe it’s something more.

Astrid stores the item away for later and Omega move back out to the main hall to explore the other stairwell. At the top of the other set of stairs, there is no door. The room opens up into a large open space with a massive pool of water in the middle. It is clear that this is a community bathing pool. Several smaller rooms surround it with smaller pools inside. The pools are no deeper than 3 feet. To the left are statues that stretch from floor to ceiling carved in depictions of majestic dwarves none of the party recognize. Massive pillars decorate the back wall of the room. On the wall almost directly across from them is another plaque. They approach with caution. This one reads: What force and strength cannot get through, I with a gentle touch can do, And many in the street would stand, were I not a friend at hand.

This one stumped Omega for a bit longer than the previous one, but again, after some careful deliberation, they all agreed that the answer must be “A Key.” When the words are spoken aloud, the same sheen as before ripples across the dwarven statues as well as the floor behind them by the pool. But this time, instead of a click, the waters of the pool begin to swell and ripple and a whirlpool forms. But only seconds later it settles to reveal an aerial view of a massive city mixed among old ruins. Its port bustling with activity and behind the city a forest almost as vast as the sea on the other side. It is concluded to be Stormreach in Xen’drik. Moving about to the other pools, they uncover a view of Graywall, Droaam; Sharn, Breland; Metrol, Mournland(Cyre); and Port Verge, Lhazaar Principalities.

Deciding the next step in the journey is to get back to Fergus as quickly as possible, Tripper issues the party should go back to Sharn. All but Ethos will join. He makes way for the portal to Graywall as soon as everyone is safely through the portal to Sharn.

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Chapter 9a - Charting A Course
Cutting off the Head to Spite the Faceless

021710 Game Night Recap:

After taking a very brief rest, Omega quickly continued their search of the citadel. To altar-right of the room and left, they discovered stair wells leading down. Toward the front of the citadel, they heard beyond the double doors, chanting and rummaging to the quantity of what could be hundreds more Foulspawn. Ethos went down the altar-right stairwell, sensing something familiar. When he got to the door at the bottom, the aberrant stench was so overwhelming to his honed Gatekeeper senses, he could barely hold the bile down. Whatever was on the other side of that door was powerful. When he reported this back to the group, they decided to check out the other stairwell before continuing on.

On the other side, Corwyn accompanied Ethos this time. At the base, Ethos sensed nothing, but Corwyn felt a similar sensation to Ethos’ on the other side, only Corwyn’s was a sense of intense suffering and pain. A resonant energy, a memory locked into the very building.

Thinking this a relatively safe sector to explore and secure before moving on to the bigger threat, Omega went through the door. On the other side lay the most gruesome spectacle anyone in the party had yet witnessed. Corpses too numerous and shattered to be able to count, blood in quantities that made it impossible to tell where one pool began and the other ended. Chains, hooks, all manner of torturous devices hung from the ceilings of the prison cells that surrounded the room. As Omega shuffled in, they heard a light, low moaning rhasping from beyond a secured door to their left. They went through to find what could only be isolation chambers. Three of them were empty of anything. The moaning was coming from a cell to their right all the way down the hall.

When they entered the room, they saw a human man suspended upside-down from the ceiling by chains hooked into the exposed bones of his legs. The blood long dried, and infection was apparent. When Tripper rushed over to help pull him down, all the man could rasp out was “kill…me.” He kept chanting it over and over again. But Tripper, refusing to give up on him, insisted the party bring him along on Astrid’s Floating Disk. He healed the man as best he could, bringing him to a comfortable slumber and they moved on back into the cells.

As they emerged into the common room, they heard a scream come from the direction of the only other door. Ethos lead the way as they spilled into another hallway with 2 doors. One to the side, one to the end. Ethos guessed the scream to come from the end door and the party rushed in and burst through.

Foulspawn The first thing visible through the streams of bloody chains hanging from the ceiling was the Foulspawn Hulk to the right of the entrance. Just beyond him, next to an operating table in the center of the room was an awkward-looking creature who, upon further inspection, was wearing Onavel’s skin! On the operating table was, apparently, the source for the scream. The fresh corpse of a human lay exposed on the table, the foul creature to the right giddily picking at the ravaged innards, like some demented child playing with road kill.

On the other side of the table were two other mage-like Foulspawn. They seemed to be observing the display. Tripper burst through heading straight to the first mage-type, who sidestepped his attack and blinked Tripper into a pocket dimension, momentarily. Everyone else pulled into place, Corwyn intercepting the Hulk, Thon pulling inside the room, Ethos and Astrid taking shots at anyone visible from their positions in the hallway.

The Skintaker approached Thon and assumed his form. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize that every time they attacked the creature, Thon took damage from it. Tripper reemerged down the hallway moments later and plowed back into the room. Astrid peppered the two mages with an ice storm, but one blinked out of it before taking damage. From here, an ugly game of chase ensued as Tripper chased the mages around the room, just missing them as they teleported away. Most of the attacks these Foulspawn issued would leave Omega dazed, frustrating the party to no end. Evenutally, though, the larger threats subdued, it was only a matter of time before the two mages were dropped. Thoroughly frustrated and resources almost completely spent, Omega sealed up the door to the room, and took as calm of a rest as they could, given the location.

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Chapter 9 - The Foul Citadel
Lace your skin up tight. You wouldn't want to lose it!

020310 Game night recap:

The party awoke from their slumber in the cave, ready to face what lay beyond the mysterious door in the wall above them. They made one last pass of the chamber to see if there was anything of note. Satisfied there was not, they began to ascend the wall to the broken platform above, though Ethos again had some trouble managing the athleticism required for the task. Once up, Tripper put his hands to the wall, only to push right through the illusion, to his surprise. Peering inside, he spied a small sacrificial preparation chamber. The party filed in, filling the small space and all drew their attention to the ladder on the far wall leading up to the low ceiling where a double door hatch lay.

After a pause, several party members noted a low chanting coming from beyond the doorway. Concerned that they might soon be met with a sacrifice or worse yet that the sacrifice might be one of the stolen companions, they quickly piled on the ladder to make way, though. En route, Astrid noted the chamber looked like it hadn’t been used in quite some time, and probably wasn’t about to be, while Ethos pointed out that the doors’ hinges were very heavily rusted and they would probably have to break through. Tripper took the lead attempting to smash through the doors, but they proved more formidable than he had expected. When the first slam struck, the chanting stopped. Feeling they had lost the element of surprise, Tripper began furiously hammering away at the door until it shattered into a thousand shards and he sprung forth, with Ethos right behind him.

The portal emerged behind an altar at the back of a large columned room. Tripper noted nothing especially significant about the room, save the dried blood covering the altar, walls, and floor. Before him on the altar lay the flayed corpse of Onavel. After a brief pause, Tripper noted he was not breathing. Onavel lay sprawled out on the altar before them, his limbs hanging loosely to his sides. On further inspection, all limbs were broken at the joints, tendons severed so to disallow movement should he wake from his coma during the ghastly procedure. Luckily, thanks to Astrid’s ritual later, they now know that he did not.

Foulspawn Beyond Onavel was a lumpy, saggy creature much akin to an Orcish-elf, with blue skin that seemed almost to not fit, it sagged so. He carried a gnarled staff and was adorned with only a thin robe. He chanted a curse in Deep Speech (Tripper knows him to have said a blanket curse for the desecration of their ritual), but when Tripper revealed the Byeshk Flail, the creature’s eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open in fear and awe. Two other creatures flanking him, each with 4 arms and a wicked grin, descended on them just as Tripper was soaking it all in.

Ethos, when pulling up behind Tripper, caught sight of two other figures at the back of the long room, making way toward the altar. One was massive, the other, indiscernable, but grunting menacingly and moving fast.

The four-armed menaces’ attacks landed with futile effort on Tripper, and Ethos managed to counter his previous blunders in guile by springing from the ladder onto the altar to begin firing at his targets. Astrid came forth segmenting the room with a fire wall placed right atop the Staff-carrier. When Astrid saw the abominations in the room before her, her heart sank. These creatures bore a very strong resemblance to Elves. But a horrible misconfiguration of the beautiful race; while others looked like malformed Orcs, a feat in itself, given the source material. “These have to be Foulspawn,” she thought.

Not much is known of these creatures except what she heard in childhood stories to scare her. Only that they were the first abominations created by the Daelkyr when they invaded so long ago, is the commonly accepted canon. Ethos, too, recalls some semblance of these stories from Elven missionaries to the Eldeen Reaches during his time with the Gatekeepers. The horror before them was something they wished had remained a fairy tale, but to strike them down would do great justice to many sleepless nights in their youth.

The chamber, once a site of proud and wholesome worship, now stood before them a shameful representation of something altogether unholy. The skin that adorned the pillars filling the room like some gruesome wallpaper turned the stomach of even Tripper (who has no stomach). What kinds of creatures would do such a thing? What kinds of creatures would take such pleasure in torturing and murdering these poor victims? Aberrations. She knew the staff-carrier to be a Seer, while the four-armed foes were Manglers. The big enemy descending upon them was a Hulk and the other was a Berserker, much like a Barbarian.

The Seer teleported out of the fire wall to the other side, where he flung orbs into the fray, blindly, narrowly missing Ethos. The Hulk and Berserker charged ignorantly into and through the fire wall and Tripper and Thon positioned and began working on taking down the Manglers.

A clever dance ensued over the course of the next minute, where foes were drug back and forth through the fire wall, and Astrid painted the Hulk with her famous acid ooze. Ethos dodged orb after orb from the Seer while plugging anything he could see with arrows. Thon kept his spirit companion in the mix to draw attacks while healling his allies, and the battle slowly whittled down to just the Seer and a Mangler. The Seer made his way past the fire wall but before he could do much more, he was felled by Astrid. The remaining Mangler executed the Seer’s last action, by activating a pressure plate on the wall that brought a large toothy-trap down on the altar where Ethos was. It snapped back into place in the ceiling just as the Mangler was eliminated.

Having expended many of their resources, Omega took a short break while searching the room. They found a couple of items on the bodies and in a compartment on the altar. Unnoticed during the attack was the mosaic on the wall behind the altar. Arranged in a patchwork of collected body parts, the image could be made out of a very handsome dark-haired human-looking creature from the shoulders up, but below was a maddening mismatch of grafted appendages including tentacles and scaly hoofed legs. Daelkyr His gait was that of a champion leading a charge. Behind him were thousands of pink-skinned creatures like the ones who helped steal away Harlos, Dez, and Onavel. Also, an innumerable army of smaller creatures seeming to bear 2 faces, but nothing the current Omega had ever seen. Dolgrim There was nothing significant to note of the location of the mosaic. As Ethos surveys the mural on the wall, he thinks to himself, “Can this be one of the Daelkyr? It certainly has the feel of it. Handsome in visage, horrible to behold otherwise. Leading an army of aberrations? But the Daelkyr all were shapers of flesh. This one seems to be a stitcher, a grafter. Could he be an earlier, older Daelkyr? Could he be something else?”

Several other thoughts shoot through Ethos’ mind. “What if this particular Daelkyr can shape like the others, but chooses to do it the “primitive” way, because it’s more painful? Would this be the Daelkyr who created the Dolgaunts and Dolgrim, since that is who he’s leading? Why are these Foulspawn paying homage to him? Do we know which Daelkyr Gribnakh is trying to free?”

For Thon, the spirits will recant imagery of cruelty and abuse. A lot of them will refuse to provide assistance outside of warning, in the sense of “steer clear of these things.” He gets the sense that the reluctance isn’t to be difficult, more than it is they’re painful memories and images to relay and the spirits are unwilling to suffer that upon themselves or anyone else. The spirits who know Thon’s agenda and ability better, though, instill the feeling of urgency that he rid the world of these things

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Chapter 8 - Khyber's Welcome
It's not always about laying waste to everything you see...

012010 Game Night Recap

Khyber Cavern

I.Portal: One by one the members of Omega pass into the portal in the sewers and emerge beyond in a massive cavern. Stalagmites and Stalagtites of all sizes are spread about. The realm is vast and black with darkness save a hinted illumination akin to a starry night given off in shades of purple and deep blue radiating from crystalline materials jutting from the rocks. One can only guess that these are the infamous Khyber Dragonshards. A closer look at the shards reveals the shards pulsate and throb in subtle increments, almost as if breathing. The air is stale and cumbersome. Those so inclined would estimate their position underground much deeper than your typical dungeon or underground cavern. The refreshing comfort of fresh air hasn’t touched this place in centuries and this apparent fact is stifling.

Myconids II.Myconids Ahoy!: No sooner have Omega soaked in their surroundings, but their attention is drawn to their right where a scuffle is heard from a skirmish apparently already underway. Tripper recognizes 2 bipedal creatures nearby who seem to be standing guard watching the scuffle that is occurring out of sight behind the ruins of some building. He identifies the creatures as Myconid, a fungal species natural to another plane, but typically residing here. He assesses them as harmless to Omega unless in large armies. Omega decides to move around quietly to obtain a better view of what is occurring beyond the building.

Once safely behind a wall, the group gets a clearer picture of a group of Myconid surrounding a large plant-like creature with swirling tendril appendages and a massive head that seems no more than just a big mouth. The plant is recognized by Ethos as a Greenvise Vine. He also assesses it as not much of a threat to Omega and also concludes based on Tripper’s history lesson of the Myconid that the Vine is most likely an intruder on the Myconid territory that they’re trying to fend off. After a bit of debate, Omega decides to just leave the situation be what it is and try to quietly move on.

III.Following the Trail: Ethos catches a careless footprint in a nearby mushroom patch and quickly associates a trail left by the captors. Omega quietly and quickly shift from wall to wall, hiding in the shadows and evading the Myconid skirmish, moving on to a larger cavern beyond that has a shallow creek navigating its way through. Once it’s established that the creek is passable, Omega moves into the cavern and note that only a little further ahead, the cavern opens up to a more sculpted surface. On the way to look more at this, they discover 2 dead bodies in a pool. One a scholarly-looking elf and the other a rugged-looking human. Astrid decides to perform a ritual to see if she can get more information on the area from the bodies while Ethos and Thon move ahead to see what is beyond in the clearing.

IV.Dead bodies, a vision, and the citadel: Ethos and Thon move into the passage entrance to reveal a massive cavern beyond. In front of them stands a courtyard, roughly 100ft forward and 3 to 4 hundred feet wide. Scattered about the courtyard are pikes decorated with the heads of countless different races and species.

The courtyard leads up to a massive three-tiered structure that appears to have been carved from the surface of the stone, itself. Virtually impenetrable, save the large iron gate straight-ahead, since the macabre walls of the structure terminate on all sides into the landscape. All about the walls and gate are what can only be skins flayed from the creatures whose heads adorn the pikes in the courtyard. Atop each wall and surrounding any window or passage are collections of numerous and random sharp objects, forming something akin to razor-wire. Whether this is for protection or decoration is unknown. One key thing to note is that one would expect with all the gore, the area would be basted in blood, but it is actually quite clean, all things considered. As though the “decoration” was done quite intentionally and carefully. Or perhaps the corpses were drained first. It’s impossible to tell.

Foulspawn The creatures that litter the citadel are innumerable. They appear to be aberrant versions of surface creatures, the majority of which seem like Orcs whose skin has melted and now sags. Occasionally can be seen creatures like those the party currently pursues, as well as some smaller creatures who look to have two mouths. Ethos cannot tell for certain, though, being so far away.

Ethos can see that the captors trail moves in the direction of the fortress.

When Ethos and Thon return, Astrid has completed her ritual and recounts what she saw, confirming what Ethos saw in the adjoining cavern. Through the scholar’s eyes, Astrid saw the terrible creatures making short work of the guide before piling on her, killing the scholar in one fell blow. The party recover a couple of minor magical items from the corpses, but nothing else of note.

Kuo-Toa V.Kuo-Toa Scouting party: As Ethos is describing what he and Thon saw in the cavern, he gets a strange feeling they’re being watched. As he turns around, he spots eyes glistening off in the distance. 2 pair. Or so he hopes. On further inspection by the party, what is revealed are 2 green-skinned humanoids with fish-like heads carrying spears. The two don’t appear to be setting up for attack. In fact, they seem to be studying the party, sizing them up. Noting this, Tripper asks everyone to hang back while he slowly moves forward. The 2 jump into defensive postures and Tripper responds with hand gestures trying to explain that they’re looking to bring a fight to the creatures in the citadel. After a lot of confusing back and forth, the first creature, who Thon recants as a Kuo-Toa, ushers the second Kuo-toa away and he holds in defensive position in wait, to which Tripper throws up his hands and takes a knee trying to establish a peaceful presence.

Ethos catches a glimpse of silhouettes in the distance exchanging information and using the language the Illithid used earlier. The images all appear to be similar to the Kuo-toa. Moments later, the one returns along with several more and a leader (noted by Thon) bearing a staff with pincers on the end. The leader moves in front and addresses Tripper by slamming his staff on the ground 3 times and grunting, to which Tripper repeats his punchy hand gestures. After a bit of back and forth with hand gestures and grunting, the leader finally gets across that they are searching for fallen comrades.

With this information, Astrid then conjures up images of Omega assisting the Kuo-toa in exchange for the Kuo-toa assisting Omega in getting into the citadel. The leader agrees, noting with a gesture of swimming, holding his breath, and a mimicry of Tripper’s punching gesture to denote a possible encounter. All parties agree and they set about to find the fallen Kuo-toa.

Easily enough, the joined party discovers the fallen creature not too far away and the group of Kuo-toa carry him away, presumably back to camp. The leader then grunts and ushers the party back toward the citadel cavern. Just outside the cavern the creek branches off and then down into a pit where the waterfall terminates in a pool. You can see just below the surface, a faint purple light glowing, much like that of a light through a sheet, indicating an underwater cavern. The leader repeats the swim gesture, then inspects most of the party, presumably for gills. When he sees none, he indicates they will have to hold their breath for a while, then stamps his staff on the ground once and nods in a gesture of good fortune. Tripper tells the party that if things get ugly, they should move on ahead without him to air while he does his best to hold off the threat and then he jumps in. The rest of Omega follow suit.

VI.Murky Depths: Tripper, not needing to breathe, opts to make his way on the floor of the cavern. Thon finds swimming easy enough. Astrid and Ethos, however, don’t start off as strong and take a moment to get their bearing and composure underwater. A struggle Ethos will battle throughout the journey.

Visibility is limited, but much better than the surface as the light glow of the Khyber shards here reflects about giving a bit more widespread illumination than above. Omega slowly make way down the cavern, following the current and carefully examining offshoot tunnels as they pass. At one point early on, they catch a glimpse of something pass from one side tunnel to the next, but they cannot make out what it is. Moving on down, Ethos and Astrid continue to maintain their composure underwater, Ethos more than Astrid. However, it was one such shortcoming by Astrid, where she slipped in a stroke and had to flail about a bit to regain her trajectory that caused just enough disturbance in the water flow that it brought the attention of a nearby creature who revealed itself from one of the side tunnels they just passed.

Aboleth Most of the party was able to quickly recognize the creature and its smaller companions as an Aboleth. Knowing the imminent danger they all faced, not only from the creatures, but from the environment as well, Astrid quickly ushered out a spell to slow the bigger creature, but when 2 more emerged from behind him, quickly advancing, she blast the entire area with cold, freezing the water, slowing their pursuit and Omega quickly made headway with the current. A trip hastened by Tripper who released himself from the tethyr the party had made and yanked them forward, using the current to increase their momentum.

Again, however, Ethos struggled to maintain traction and began to drown in his panic. Seeing this, Tripper abandoned his guard duty and instead grabbed the remaining rope from the tether, dragging Ethos ahead with the rest of the party to where they had finally found the exit of the pass. The Aboleth did not pursue as they were tied up with Thon’s spirit companion and the multiple waves of spells Astrid had thrown to slow them down.

VII.Short Reprieve: Once surfaced, Tripper reveals to the party that the room, completely dark, is safe to enter and shed light. When Astrid casts her spell, revealed to the party is a small chamber with only enough land by the pool for a small camp. The cave is entirely closed in. On one wall stands a sheer surface of the citadel, based on their travel time presumes to be the back wall of the structure. On closer inspection, the party discovers the remains of a platform about 15 feet up and the faint outline of what possibly used to be a doorway. It is suggested that this area might used to have been some sort of sacrificial chamber or watering hole.

Feeling safe enough to do so, Omega sets up camp there for a much-needed rest before deciding how to continue.

Additional information from last game night…

On the 2 dead bodies you also find Identification papers revealing:

Rolinde Winternight An elven noble from Lhazaar.

Frymos Stone A human “muscle for hire” also from Lhazaar.

Also, Rolinde has a “new” journal in her pack. It looks to have been purchased not long before the expedition into Khyber, as the entries are few and dated only several weeks ago.

Skimming the entries, the party notes Rolinde appears to be doing some sort of research. For whom is uncertain. The purpose of the expedition underground is to find a hive where Aboleth eggs are incubating, snatch one and return with it to use if for study. The guard hired claimed to be an “expert” on Khyber and “knew the way.”

Tucked behind a sleeve on the book is a crude map whose origin is unknown. After some careful examination, the location of the bodies can finally be determined. A red circle around what can only be assumed to be a cave is not too far from that location. A distance key is not present on the map, however.

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Chapter 7.5 - End Game Begins
The awkward revival of a campaign in a new system and with different players, mostly.

Omega Company emerged from the dungeon anxious about their potential lack of transport as they were positive they had exceeded the 3hr window they left with the captain. Once outside, their fears were confirmed as no transport awaited them. They waited on the hillside for several hours to no avail. Brea, Tripper, Onavel, Corwyn, Harlos, and Dez were stranded in the middle of one of the deadliest swamps on Khorvaire, days from anything remotely resembling civilization. Not wanting to re-enter the deadly dungeon, as well as deciding they’d be better served if transport arrived if they were visible, they opted to set up camp on the hilltop above the dungeon entrance. They noted they didn’t see any signs of life nearby. It was decided it was due to the local inhabitants’ fear of the dungeon.

At daybreak the following day, the group was roused by Tripper as a massive blur in the sky edged closer to them, slowly taking shape into a familiar and welcome sight. The Zephyr. As the airship drew closer, the party could make out the figure and then the face of a smiling Finneas at the helm, blond half-elven hair blowing in the rushing breeze.

With a whistle and a shout, Finneas bade Omega to come aboard as Slink tossed a rope ladder over the side. They all boarded and made way back to [forgot settlement name]. Finneas told Omega that he had a change of heart. On his way to Zilargo for his last shipment, he got an overwhelming feeling of a call to duty. As though he should rethink his current choice of careers and strive for something bigger, which he saw in the Company’s mission. He abruptly turned the ship around and headed toward their last known location. After some minor investigating he discovered where Omega had gone and set out to find them. He offered his services to the group in whatever manner they needed to help carry out their current objective.

The group carried on with stories and such over dinner, and turned in for the night. The next morning, in the courtyard, Corwyn emerged to find Tripper alone with Brea. When asked where the others were, Tripper replied he didn’t know, they hadn’t come out yet. Alarmed at this, for it was almost mid day, the 3 went quickly to investigate. All rooms, including Finneas and Slink’s, were empty. When they asked around, no one knew why, where, how, or what had happened.

Game Night 120909

As Tripper and Corwyn began asking the passersby about their missing comrades, a young scholarly elven woman approached Tripper, inquiring about their situation. She revealed herself as a student of the Twelve and that she had come here in a roundabout way after investigating a missing artifact. She, Astrid, offered her services to aid the party if, in return, it could help her reveal more to the mystery she was trying to unravel.

While they were conversing, a large rock-scaled man of very rustic appearance approached claiming to be a former member of Sigma company who was overseeing this region. He told the group how his party fell apart and how he went back to his home village to convene with the spirits until he was called for again. Which happened to be now, as the spirits and his village elder guided him to Newthrone, Q’Barra to seek out the displaced company of Fergus’ who would happen to be there. He, Thon, began to delve into a discussion with Tripper on the nature of spirits when a large crash and screams poured from the southern apartment alleyways.

A previously unnoticed figure dashed from the shadows toward the alleys which were now congested with fleeing citizens clamoring over each other to get away. The new Omega company followed.

When the group reached the alley entry, Corwyn caught sight of what appeared to be Dez on the shoulder of a slim, greenish-skinned humanoid just as it went around a corner. But between them was a large worm-like creature with a tentacled face (revealed as an oddly formed Grick) who was feasting on what probably used to be a Newthrone citizen in the intersection before them. As well, a Nothic gazed at them in delight from the rooftop above the Grick. Nothic

Corwyn and Tripper set to work pursuing the figures carrying Dez while the cloaked figure, later to be revealed as Ethos, and Astrid volleyed attacks at the immediate threats. Thon and his totem spirit hung back to hold the line so the Grick didn’t get to the artillery.

Dolgaunt When Corwyn and Tripper rounded the corner, they saw on the roof above, 3 tentacled abominations, 2 of which they’d seen before and knew to be Dolgaunts. The third they could only guess was the terror only spoken of in dreams, a Mind Flayer. And it was just as horrible to behold in reality. It wasted no time blasting them with its mental attacks, stunning them just long enough for him and the dolgaunts to steal away along with some of the Gith who carried the unconscious party members. Corwyn and Tripper managed to off 2 Gith and almost rescued Dez, but the Dolgaunts came back and retrieved him before they could pull Dez out of the fray.

Meanwhile, when Tripper and Corwyn rounded the corner to their scuffle, a stalky-eyed orb surfaced on the roof next to the Nothic and began slamming anything in its path with rays from its eyestalks. Astrid managed to lay an electric gate around the rooftop doing a great deal of damage and keeping those foes at bay while the others tried to stop the fleeing Gith, but the 3 intercepting foes proved too much and the party members were stolen away into the sewers beneath Newthrone. A few moments later, the Grick, Beholder, and Nothic were felled and the party quickly pursued the escaping kidnappers into the sewers below.

010610 Game Night Recap:

Kind of a disappointing night. I apologize for that and chalk it up to first-time 4E DMing learning experience.

Omega finished off the threat of the Grick, Nothic, and Beholder and, after a very brief gutting of the Beholder for lootz (coming soon), headed to the sewer entrance. But just before entering Tripper decides to get a brief acquaintance with Ethos, who satisfies Tripper’s curiosity when he mentions Gribnakh and Ethos’ tie to the Gatekeepers.

They all descend into the sewers below pursuing the captors. Once down the ladder, they end in a small room with a door to the east, which Tripper begins to head for, when Astrid and Ethos point out a secret door to the north. Guessing that is the most likely path of the aberrations, the party chooses that way.

Tripper takes the lead and opens the door, then pokes his head out the other side in the dark cooridors just to narrowly miss being smacked by a flying javelin. From the “shadows” of the dark, small scaly reptilians emerge, Kobolds. But these were no pushover Kobolds like Omega had faced before. These were Q’Barra Kobolds. They swarmed Tripper, pinning him just outside the entryway while the others had to contend to attack from behind.

Omega attempted to give quarter, to which the attacking kobolds responded in kind, but were immediately challenged by what appeared to be their leader who barked them into action again. Tripper noted the leader, along with 2 other mage-types were veiled in a sort of focused haze, their eyes a milky white.

As the battle drug agonizingly on, Omega continued to attempt a sort of peaceful end but the kobold leader kept issuing forth commands to press on. Eventually Omega was able to whittle the kobolds down when Astrid summoned an acidic ooze on the leader, silencing him interminably and melting him into the sewage beneath. One of his minions fled at the sight of this, only to meet some horrible end, as Omega heard in the squeal and crunch in the darkness beyond.

The battle didn’t last much longer after that, as the demoralized remaining few flew into a mad frenzy to avenge their fallen leader, striking with less accuracy and opening themselves to less defense.

Once finally dispatched, Omega rifled through the remains, but found nothing of particular note. During the combat, Tripper did happen to notice on the heads of the 3 who were “off” a gash similar to the one he saw on Dez, where there was no blood, but clearly some sort of incision.

Also during the battle, Astrid made everyone aware that some sort of magical device had been activated nearby. So, Omega made way in that direction. Just around the corner of a set of sewer grates lie a larger room filled with crates and such as well as a large sigil on the floor, glowing blue. Standing at the West of that sigil, apparently in guard, was a rigid gray-haired, gray-eyed dwarf in robes, seemingly unaware of their presence.

Omega approached with caution and just as they neared, the dwarf turned and asked them where they were going? Tripper responded that they were in pursuit of their fallen friends and were going through to retrieve them. The Dwarf responded that he would not allow them to pass and an exchange began that led to the Dwarf finally revealing (after much persuasion) that he was placed in charge of guarding this pathway to Khyber to ensure no one from the Dragon Between traverse to the Dragon Below and “meddle in things they do not understand.”

When Tripper finally mentioned Gribnakh’s name, the Dwarf softened his stance and eventually allowed them to pass, giving them an amulet to allow them to be able to return to the surface later from the spot the portal takes them. His only parting advice was to say that while Khyber is treacherous, not every encounter in Khyber will be perilous. There are those who reside there who might be persuaded to assist them as there are plenty of communities in Khyber who consistently do trade with those from the Dragon Between.

In their negotiations, Ethos pieces together based on the Dwarf’s knowledge base, and continual references to knowledges only Dragons should know, that this Dwarf was most likely a Dragon, himself. No more inquiry was made in this, however.

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Chapter 7 - Q'Barra
Proof that Gygax hated players!

Q'Barra

After chartering a vessel to travel to Q’Barra, Omega sets off to search for answers and to find this mysterious tomb potentially holding a great weapon to combat Gribnakh (all information in the ledger and journal from Tarus’ study). Q'Barra Murks

They arrive in Newthrone a week later and set about investigating, starting with a house Tharashk outpost. Inside they manage to hire a guide who they’re to meet at the airship dock later. Not much else in the town gives them any more insight. Omega does their best to steer clear of too much interaction as they note Inspired are rampant there and the information they possess could potentially get them unwanted attention.

When they arrive at the dock, they run into a funny-looking fellow who introduces himself to them.

First Contact with Brea

Omega learns that they can only get Airship passage as far East as Ka’ Rahashan. From there they would have to by foot through the Basura swamp to the area the tomb is supposed to be located in. They could get a guide in Ka’Rahashan, supposedly.

Ka'Rahashan Ka’Rahashan

Ka’Rahashan is relatively hospitable, considering the location. The Dragonborn village is home to a great many religious artifacts of the race and, thusly, none of the adventurers are left to wander unaccompanied. But when they entered seeking a guide, they were promptly taken to the village elder. The elder granted them a guide on the condition that they do battle in their arena first, which Tripper did. Taking on 2 of their finest warriors, Tripper proved his worth by besting them both alone. The least battered of the two set out with Omega the next day to guide them to the heart of the Basura Swamps where the fabled Tomb was said to be.

After about a week travel in the treacherous terrain, they all arrive at the site of a ruin. The guide says he will stay outside for 3 days and no longer. If they do not return in 3 days, he will assume they perished and he will go home.

082207 Game Night Recap

You guys started in the hallway. After a few minutes of inspection, Harlos realized the ceiling was trapped. He tinkered with it, and with Tripper’s help, you bypass the trap (which turns out to be a crushing rock trap that would have dealt 16d6 damage). You open the door to discover a blank wall of earth. After some debate, you deduce this isn’t the entrance to the tomb, so you venture out East combing the hillside. After a little ways, you discover a second mound of cave-in similar to the first, so you dig through to discover a tunnel:

Brilliant colors are everywhere; pigments painted on stone are undimmed by the passage of decades. The floor is a colorful mosaic, featuring a distinct, winding path of red tiles forming a 2-foot-wide, meandering trail south down the corridor. A few chips and gaps reveal that cement or plaster covers the underlying stonework of the corridor, and it mostly provides a smooth surface for the many illustrated scenes.

The images depict fields with cattle grazing, a copse with several wolves in the background , slaves—human, orc, elven, and strange human animal mixtures of pig-human, ape-human, and dog-human—going about various tasks. Certain frescoes are more focused and show rooms of some building—a library filled with many books and scrolls, a torture chamber, and a wizard’s work room. Chairs, windows, boxes, bales, doors, chests, birds, bats, spiders, and all manner of things appear on the walls.

In the mosaic on the floor, Harlos discovers a pattern. It’s something written in common runes:

ACERERAK CONGRATULATES YOU ON YOUR

POWERS OF OBSERVATION. SO MAKE OF THIS

WHATEVER YOU WISH, FOR YOU WILL BE MINE IN

THE END NO MATTER WHAT!

Go back to the tormentor or through the arch,

and the second great hall you’ll discover.

Shun green if you can, but night’s good color

is for those of great valor.

If shades of red stand for blood the wise

will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of

magical metal—you’re well along your march.

Two pits along the way will be found to lead

to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.

These keys and those are most important of all,

and beware of trembling hands and what will maul.

If you find the false you find the true

and into the columned hall you’ll come,

and there the throne that’s key and keyed.

The iron men of visage grim do more than

meets the viewer’s eye.

You’ve left and left and found my Tomb

and now your soul will die.

You first turn your attention to the path and Harlos leads the way to the first image, the one with the box.

Two jackal-headed human figures in this painting are portrayed as if holding bronze chest—which is real, and protrudes slightly into the corridor! The chest is hinged on the bottom so as to allow the lid to swing down.

Most everyone sees that the box is trapped with a poison spike, so Tripper triggers and dismantles it. The box opens, and Onavel looks inside, discovering a level, which he promptly tugs. The floor beneath him gives way, and he narrowly misses falling into a poisoned spiked pit trap, thanks to Harlos’ aid. Tripper descends into the pit to examine the contents and pulls out a pair of Goggles of night.

You move on to the next mural.

This portion of the fresco illustrates an iron door that evidently confines some sort of a horrid creature (its clawed and scaled hands grasp the bars of its small window) that can be loosed to torment prisoners.

After some inspection, Harlos finds that the wall is not what it seems, Tripper gives it a good punch, and part of the mural falls away, revealing a door. The group moves on, deciding to explore the whole hall before passing the door.

Down the hall, you all narrowly miss another pit trap, before Harlos decides to search every step for them. After a while, it is noted that there is a pattern to the traps, and it somewhat follows the red path.

At the end of the hall/path, there is a giant Green Devil face on the wall that radiates evil and magic. His mouth opens into a black void.

A fork of the red tile path leads directly to a leering devil face set in the mosaic at the corridor’s end. The devil’s mouth gapes wide and empty—in fact it is dead black, emitting no hint of light and allowing none entry.

On the left wall is an arch with 3 colored stones.

A section of the red tile path leads into a mist-filled stone archway. Three large stones are embedded in the arch. Each has a different hue—yellow on the lower left, bluish at the top of the arch, and orange on the lower right.

When Tripper gets within 5 feet of it, they begin to glow. Yellow (lower left), Blue (top), Orange (lower right). Tripper tosses a useless potion through. You hear and see nothing.

The group decides to skip this, and head back to the door, but not before exploring each pit. In one of two pits that does not contain spikes, Harlos discovers a secret passageway, but it appears to only go one way, out into the pit. Harlos rigs the pit to remain open, and the party proceeds back to the door.

Opening the door reveals a small path. The group enters the path and Tripper opens the next door. As soon as the door is opened, light from Osh’s Torch reveals, in the shadows, a large 4-armed creature.

A grotesque, winged humanoid with a horned head and stony hide lunges, its four arms each tipped with wicked rocky claws. Around the creature’s neck is a collar studded with huge, gleaming gems.

Battle ensues. Continued…

So monumental that it bears the official title of “The Battle.”

I awarded a surprise round to both parties to set the stage. There was no official “surprise” as all parties were aware of each other at the same time. In the surprise round, Onavel (who won initiative) sprinted into the shadowy area only to get clobbered (critical hit a.o.o.) by the creature with one swing, sending him flying back out of the shadow and into the illuminated hallway. Tripper and Harlos followed. Everyone else, except Osh, filed into the room. The creature slammed Tripper, to minimal damage (thanks to his DR).

In round one, Onavel regained his feet and tumbled into the creature’s range, Harlos flanked him and took a few jabs, Tripper wailed on him, and Brea attempted to flank as well, but fell victim to his a.o.o. again as Onavel did. She took massive damage and fell unconscious where she landed in the hallway. The creature cut loose on Tripper landing all 4 arms, a bite and a gore, rending Tripper for roughly 100hp. Dez began singing and successfully cast Slow on the creature, significantly crippling his ability to deal damage. Corwyn sprinted into position and took a swing, and Osh attempted to mentally grapple the creature, to no avail.

The next round, Onavel Pulled the Elder Mountain and dished out a painful blow to the creature, Harlos jabbed at him again, but the creature’s DR shrugged most of it off. Tripper wailed on him again, and Brea stablized, but didn’t wake up. The creature, highly annoyed at Onavel, but slowed by Dez, used its one attack to swat him into the wall, dealing a significant amount of damage. Dez attempted to Charm the monster, but it resisted. And then the battle came to a remarkable conclusion.

Corwyn turned to Onavel and performed a Lay on Hands to secure him, then turned to the creature. With a furious swing aimed at the creature’s head, Corwyn dismembered him in one swipe. BA is the first official critical instant kill. 2 natural 20’s and a confirm. :)

The creature slumped to the floor and bled out on the spot.

Harlos snagged the collar, and he and Tripper examined it. They found a secret compartment in it containing a small strip of parchment which Tripper deemed magical in nature. Dez cast Read Magic, and the parchment revealed:

_Look low and high for gold, to hear a tale untold. The archway at the end, and on your way you’ll wend.

A._

In the upper and left walls of this room are doors. The group proceeded through the left one first, leaving the upper one for later. Within the first door:

This small chamber is empty of scent, stain, or decor. Only the dense layer of dust reveals the uncounted years since any moved through this chamber since the present.

While standing in the chamber, an arrow fired and hit Tripper. After searching, Harlos discovers the arrow slot and disables it. He also discovers a secret door. What follows are 7 more rooms similar to this one. Arrow slots and secret doors until the final secret door that has 7 studs on it. Along the way, Tripper smashes each arrow slot, destroying them.

The group falls back to explore the other door, to find a path similar to the other, but no secret doors, no arrow slots, and it dead ends in the 4th room.

The party moves into the room with the final secret door, and sets up camp for the evening with Tripper on watch.

The game will resume on the following calendar day with you all refreshed from an eventless night’s sleep.

090507 Game Night Recap

You left off in the hallway of the secret doors and arrow-slit traps. You guys rested the night and began the next day by studying the 7 pegs on the secret door in front of you.

After some careful study, Harlos not only figured out the trap, but managed to bypass it. As he opened the door, you discovered a long (about 160ft) hallway decorated with several colorful creatures holding orbs.

The floor of this long, wide hall is inlaid with tiles, and the walls and ceiling are painted with figures of animals and strange signs and glyphs. Humans and humanlike creatures hold painted spheres, each a different color from the next.

From north to south (right to left) on the wall in front of you, you see:

GOLD sphere held above head by a naga.

ORANGE sphere held waist high by a mummy.

PURPLE sphere held at feet by a minotaur

BRONZE sphere held waist high by a nymph.

GRAY sphere held at shoulder by an owlbear.

BRIGHT BLUE sphere held at feet by a sahuagin.

WHITE sphere held above head by a red slaad.

TURQUOISE sphere held at shoulder by a satyr.

SCARLET sphere held waist high by a mind flayer.

PALE GREEN sphere held at feet by a medusa.

On the opposite wall. in order:

PALE BLUE sphere held at shoulder by a werewolf.

SILVER sphere held at feet by a four-armed gargoyle. (on the door you came out of)

GREEN sphere held high above head by a half-orc.

YELLOW sphere held at shoulder by a falconheaded creature.

PINK sphere held high above head by a yuan-ti.

BLACK sphere held at feet by a hydra.

PALE VIOLET sphere held at shoulder by a kuo-toa.

RED sphere held waist high by a skeleton.

BUFF sphere held at feet by a white- bearded human wizard.

INDIGO sphere held high above head by a batwinged woman.

Harlos was quick enough to point out that there might be significance to the positioning of the orbs, since the walls appear to be segmented in 4s, and the characters are holding the orbs in 4 different positions. Though, no actual pattern could be determined.

Tripper detected magic throughout the hallway. He decided to move Orb to orb and try to better determine the magic. He moved to the Orange Orb first. After jabbing at it with a dagger, he managed to disbelieve the illusion and found a door behind it. He and Harlos studied it and Harlos found and disabled the trap on it. After opening, they discovered it to be nothing more than a trap, as a solid wall laid behind it.

Next Tripper went to the Red Skeleton and jabbed at it, finding an empty space from about waist-level, down. After a few moments, he managed to disbelieve the illusion and discovered a crawl space. Dez went inside until he came to a bend, then an apparent dead end. This entire time Brea was clueless and saw through none of the illusons.

When Harlos came to the dead end, he discovered a secret door, but no traps, so he pushed in on it. When he did, the entire crawlspace dropped 10 feet, but Harlos (already being on hands and knees) came out unscathed. Back in the main hall, 10ft in all directions from the opening caved in 10ft deep as well. Everyone managed to avoid the intentional cave in. They all dropped in and followed Harlos into the room past the secret wall.

The adjoining room was 60ft by 60ft and had this description:

The chamber is bare but for three conspicuous chests, each about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. One appears to be of gold, the second is silvery, and the third is constructed of hardy oak banded with thick bronze.

The group went to the Silver one first. Harlos found and disarmed the trap. Upon opening, they found a nasty dart trap inside that could have shred Harlos to bits. And a crystal case (appraised at 1000gp) with a ring inside, later identified to be a Ring of Levitation.

On to the Bronze Chest. Both the Bronze and Gold radiated Conjuration magic and had no mechanisms in either that looked like traps. Harlos behind and Tripper in front, they popped open the chest and a Large Bone Golem appeared. The fight was quick and relatively painless, though he proved a slightly formidable foe with his damage reduction. Without Tripper, it would have been a longer battle.

On to the Gold Chest. Same scenario. Upon opening, 12 tiny vipers sprung out. Harlos quaffed an Antitoxin immediately, and the group managed to dice all 12 within 2 rounds (I believe).

Nothing else was found in the room, so the party went back to the main hall. Nothing was in the 2 encounter chests.

The next Orb Tripper tried was the Black one with the Hydra. Same scenario as the Red one with the Skeleton. Harlos went in the crawlspace first, this time. It went on for quite a long crawl, gradually downward. Tripper followed, and the rest of the group followed a little later. After a long crawl, they came to another dead end, which obviously was not. Upon opening this secret door, the group discovered a large Chapel. Northern section text:

Chapel accoutrements fill this chamber, including great wooden pews on either side of a central mosaic path that leads toward an altar on the far side of the room, which is separated from the pews by a wooden railing. Scenes of everyday life are painted on the walls, but all the people are portrayed with rotting flesh, skeletal hands, and worm-ridden orifices. Yet depicted amidst these disturbing portraits are various symbols of readily recognized benevolent deities.

The closest 2 pews radiated magic. Harlos discovered traps in each, and bypassed them. Nothing was inside. The remaining pews contained many coins in each. Nick noted the amounts.

At the southern end of the chapel, you see this:

Behind the wooden railing is an opalescent blue altar, which is set before a tiered dais that supports a well-carved and padded wooden chair. Two large brass candelabra, each holding five white candles, stand on either side of the dais. Two large white pottery urns, each stoppered with brass, sit in each corner. A human skeleton wearing badly rusted and torn black chainmail lies dead in the southwestern portion of the room, one outstretched arm seeming to point into a mist-filled arch on the southern end of the west chapel wall.

The group decided to tackle the Dais and Altar first. Dez jumped on top of the altar and a lightning bolt shot out from it. Everyone evaded it to some degree except Tripper who took the full impact. Harlos studied it after, realizing it had automatically reset. He managed to bypass the trap only to discover another trap behind it. He quickly pulled off a rapid trap bypass on it, too, discovering it was an explosion trap that could have been very nasty. He released the traps, and the group vowed to never touch the altar again.

Nothing special was discovered about the candlebras or the chair. No one really wanted to tough the urns. The group then turned its attention to the smoky arch. After some study, they determined it wasn’t a trap, per se. Tripper tested it with the reaching arm of the corpse on the floor. After no actual results came, Dez volunteered to enter. He passed through, and a couple of sensations came over him, but he shrugged them off. As he emerged on the other side, he was in a 10×10 blank cell. Nothing at all inside. He spoke to the group, and they decided there was nothing special about it, so Dez came back through. He took a minor amount of damage on the return, but nothing other than that. No one else passed through.

Harlos gave the room a thorough once-over and discovered: Search check of the eastern wall in this area reveals a small slot with the letter ‘O’ faintly traced above it. The slot is of sufficient size to accept a coin or a flat gem. It is also just right for insertion of a magic ring.

They decided to insert the Ring of Levitation in. When they did, a secret passage revealed itself, burying the ring in the process. But on the other side was a short hall and stairs leading down. The passage lead to a sharp turn right and ended in a stuck door. After many tries by the group, Dez managed to unstuck the door only to reveal a pit on the other side, which he dexterously avoided. The scenario repeated itself 2 more times. Everyone except Tripper managed to jump over the pits. Poor Tripper fell into the first 2 and climbed out, and just didn’t even bother on the third. He just jumped in, then climbed out. After the third, the hall cornered right again into a 160ft hallway ending with a door.

Upon approaching the door, it was discovered that it radiated magic, was heavily locked, not trapped, and gleeful singing was heard on the other side. Harlos barely managed to bypass a very tough set of locks (Open Lock DC 41). Upon opening the door, the singing stopped, sounds of panic and running ensued, and a small fading light was seen about 50ft away in the darkness beyond. The group pursued, slowly. After about 30ft, the floor began to slope down, northward. Everyone but Tripper managed to scurry back to the door. Poor Tripper slipped and slid down the hall into a pit of moletn lava. Luckily as he breached the end of the hall, he snagged the ledge, so only half of him got immersed, but it burned him severely, incinerating most of his joints. He drug his burning body up after an unsuccessful first try (doing an additonal 30-something points of damage, melting the non-adamantine parts). Once he finally fully emerged onto the hall, the burning was so severe, he bottomed out, disabling on the spot. The group could only watch, horrified, as the trap had reset as soon as he fell in.

Harlos slowly moved down the hall and found the tripping mechanism for the trap, disabling it. Then the group drug Tripper’s body back down the 160ft hallway to the corner, and the group stopped there.

100307 Game Night Recap

Picking up from the corner refuge after bringing Tripper back to functionality, the group decides to head back the way it came. Passing through the closest pit, Onavel senses something strange about the south wall there. On inspecting, Harlos finds a secret door. The group moves through into a stairwell, leading down to a short hallway that turns right. However, as they start to descend the stairwell, Onavel has another strange sensation that something isn’t right with the walls again. Harlos inspects them thoroughly to uncover another secret door. Breaking the illusion, a magically sealed secret door is revealed.

Its mechanism is beyond Harlos’ skill, so Onavel begins hacking at it. After his Elder Mountain maneuver proves ineffective (compared to other doors), Tripper steps in and charges through it. The hallway beyond turns right (south), and leads to something akin to a laboratory. A thorough search of the desks, tables, and shelves in the room turns up nothing of interest except a mummified hand on one desk. Corwyn reasons it to be a graft of some sort, and Harlos packs it for later.

In the center of the room are 3 large vats of murky water. Onavel steps over to the Easternmost one and jabs his sword in and swirls it. As he does, the vat bubbles, then congeals as it grows out and over until a massive jiggly cube stands before the group. The group wastes no time in dispatching the gelatinous cube. Onavel looks again into the vat and discovers half a key. He retrieves it and moves on to the second (middle) vat. He swirls it again and discovers the other half of the key at the bottom. He reaches in to retrieve it. When he pulls his hand out, it begins to burn and itch, but is remedied after he cleanses it back in the first pool. Nothing is found in the third pool. The two halves do fit together, but need to be fused, so they are pocketed until later.

Harlos inspects the rest of the room more thoroughly, and finds yet another secret door in the southwesternmost corner. Beyond is a short hallway that turns left (south) to a descending stairwell, then turns left again into a long hallway. 20 ft into the hallway lies a 30ft long, 10 ft deep pit filled with spikes. On further inspection, it is revealed that medium creatures can maneuver the spikes safely. While the group deliberates the ins and outs of this possible trap, Dez barrels into it. When he gets just past 20ft in, his next footfall springs the trap. He leaps up and back, narrowly escaping a mass of spikes that shoot up from the floor, then retract back in. Harlos, who is standing on the back edge also narrowly avoids being spiked as the spikes shoot out just past the crest of the pit.

Harlos descends into the pit to disarm the trap. After a few moments of inspection, he discovers the pressure plating and competely disables the trap. The group passes safely through the pit. In the corridor beyond, the group sees only a dead end. Harlos inspects the walls as they go, and finds another secret door on the north wall.

On the other side of the door lies:

Rotted sofas, several thronelike chairs, small tables, braziers, vases, and dented, chipped, even broken urns lie in disarray about the chamber, as if purposely tumbled and looted. Only the tapestries, featuring weed-grown rocks and greenish scenes of undersea life, seem to have escaped such rough treatment.

Harlos moves in and yanks the Westernmost tapestry aside. As he does, it immediately transforms into a slimy substance, but falls safely ahead of him. Behind the tapestry he sees an opening at the NW corner of the room. He then moves to the NE corner where a door lies as Onavel moves in to address the other tapestry. As Onavel nears the tapestry, he emits a cone of fire from his sword and jumps back as the tapestry comes to life, just as the other, but falls safely to the floor in front of him, singed. All this time, everyone else is moving into position and Tripper is holding the door. Just before Harlos reaches the door in the back of the room, the room begins to shake violently. Everyone but Corwyn manages to stablize. Corwyn collapses and takes a small amount of damage from the fall. Harlos checks the door and finds it to be a similar trap to those found in the hallway with the murals and orbs. After 2 attempts, he disarms the trap, then immediately moves to trying to disarm the shaking room trap. After some help finding it, he eventually locates a part of the mechanism and bypasses it. The group then proceeds to watch as Onavel, who has been randomly destroying furniture as he waits impatiently, smash the chests and coffers. Several of the coffers release small vipers after smashing, which the group quickly dispenses of. Some of the coffers are empty. the rest contain either gold or sapphires. None of the chests have anything in them. Harlos did succeed in picking the locks of one chest and one coffer prior to Onavel’s rampage.

Following Brea, who had positioned herself just outside the NW tunnel, the group moved through the path, which curved around ending in a descending stairwell facing East. The hallway beyond intersected about 50ft past the stairs. Brea moved up to the intersection and peeked around the corners. 30ft ahead was a door. the hallway to the right (south) ended in a door. The hallway to the left (north) was longer and ended in double doors. Just before stepping into the center, she spots a trap and calls on Harlos’ trap-disarming skills. He comes up and disarms the trap, but notices an unsettling cold from beneath the floor there. As well, he can hear something scratching on the wall beneath him, as though it’s trying to get up to him and can’t. He notes this to the rest of the group.

Everyone decides to move north to the double doors. Upon opening them (no traps, no locks), Harlos finds a blank wall. Onavel points out the riddle, noting False to be True, and Harlos inspects the wall further, finding a secret door. Brea also points out that these doors are the first she’s seen thus far that hinge in both directions. Harlos closes the double doors and pushes in on them rather than pulling, but they do not open in. He then opens one, shielding himself with the other, and finds the secret door to be smaller than the larger doors, and it is slightly depressed from the pressure, so he pushes in further and slides it. As he does so, the rest of the wall around it slides away and a thick gas starts to fill the chamber around him, 30 ft in both directions. Everyone else had fallen safely back to the intersection. They hear doors click and open beyond the mist, but nothing else. Tripper rushes into the mist as everyone moves into position in the hall. As Tripper finds Harlos, Harlos is stumbling through the mist back toward them. Tripper notes the mist would put anyone asleep who inhales it. Dez then dispels it, and the party moves forward into the hallway beyond. Ahead is a stairwell leading to apparently nowhere, and a set of double doors just before it on the right (east), which are open.

Onavel and Brea run to the doors, Onavel noting a secret doorway on his left (west) as he passes. Onavel spots a massive rolling elephant made entirely of stone, apparently moving in their direction. Brea holds at the entryway, but Onavel charges in to attack, but his fire cone washes harmlessly over it. Harlos, Corwyn, and Tripper move up to the doorway, as Dez covers their backs at the intersection.

The massive golem, that takes up almost the entire hallway, barrels forward, rolling over everyone in its path except Harlos and Brea, who dodge out of the way, up the stairs. Several of the group get pot shots in on it, but it doesn’t seem to do a lot of damage. All this time, Dez has run up the hallway to see what is going on. He meets the thing almost head-on and does an about-face in the other direction. the Golem follows to the double doors, but promptly returns direction without turning around. Onavel meets up with it and deals a massive amount of damage, and Tripper follows him slamming into the creature and thoroughly destroying it with a charged slam attack. Victorious, the group slides up the odd stairwell, and rests for the evening with Tripper keeping watch in front of the double doors.

101707 Game Night Recap

The following day, the group emerged from the odd stairwell to follow the path from whence the rolling construct came. Finding it nothing more than a dead end, the group backtracked to the secret door Onavel found nearby. After discovering the trigger, Harlos opened the door to reveal a narrow passageway leading north. The group followed the path to the ending which was a curving stairwell leading up to a 10ft hallway, ending with a metal door.

The group approached, and investigated.

A door forged of gleaming metallic alloy with massive reinforced hinges bars passage beyond this point. Three vertical slots mar the door’s surface at waist height. Each slot is about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long.

Harlos peered through the slots to see a massive chamber on the other side, filled with pillars. A faint orange glow shown across the room, beyond Harlos’ darkvision range. Referencing the riddle again, the group concluded this was the right path. After some deliberation, it was suggested that the slots were the right size for swords to be placed in. Immediately after doing so, the door slowly opened. Harlos investigated, but only 30 seconds after doing so, the door slammed shut flinging the swords out. Harlos narrowly missed being bludgeoned by the door in the process. It was then decided that Tripper destroy the hinges and remove the door entirely. After a few minutes of slamming, the wall gave way and the door collapsed harmlessly, if not very loudly, to the floor. The group peered into the chamber beyond.

Scores of massive columns hold up a ceiling tiled in dark stone. Across a gulf of darkness, something glitters with orange light.

Prior to entering, the group buffs against undead, assuming this is near the Lich’s chamber. The group enters the room, fanning out a bit, and immediately heads left (north) toward a door.

This small door seems to shimmer with a faint blue light. A sturdy brass ring hangs enticingly at the center of the door.

They note a throne on a dais to the right (south) and a large green devil face on the wall up and left of the door they’re heading toward. Onavel wanders off on his own during this time. Spread out, the group prepares for Tripper and Harlos to open the door. Bored, Onavel leans impatiently against a pillar and immediately levitates into the air. Dez swipes a grappling hook from his pack and flings it at Onavel, but he misses it in his flurry. As he ascends, he tries to grab another pillar. This results in him shooting up even faster. As he clears the top of the pillars, a breeze begins to push him in the direction of the devil face. As he nears Harlos, he throws his own grappling hook toward Onavel, who catches this one. Harlos secures it to Tripper, who prepares a dagger to cut the line just in case. Onavel attempts to pull himself down, but the force against him is too strong. Dez then casts a Dispel Magic on Onavel and he plummets to the floor, tumbling 5 feet past Harlos, taking minor damage. Onavel then stands, trying to regain his composure, and declares touching the pillars is a bad idea.

The group then returns to the door, which is emitting a faint blue light. Harlos flings the door open to find…nothing. The room is empty, save a little dust. So they move on to the next door. This one emits a violet light.

This small door seems to scintillate with a faint violet light. A sturdy brass ring hangs enticingly at the center of the door.

Using the same process as before, Harlos flings the door open. As he touches it, it gives off a slight green light. The chamber beyond…

This 10-foot-square chamber contains many martial war decorations, which consist of crossed swords over round shields.

Harlos inspects the doorway. Finding no traps, he steps inside. As soon as he does so, the walls around him animate and everywhere there was a shield and swords, now stands a stone figure armed with 2 swords, and they all swing at Harlos. An amazing display of dexterity ensues as Harlos dodges and deflects every single attack, then tumbles out of the room. As he clears the threshold, the constructs phase back into the walls. Rather than face the room from the inside, the group decides it’s best to just destroy the room from the outside. So Onavel and Tripper set to smashing the walls 5 ft at a time, until all the outer walls are destroyed. Confused, the constructs attempt to animate at every breach, but when no one is inside, the immediately remerge with the walls.

When all the walls are gone, the group approaches the door. The last 2 constructs come forth and the group quickly disperses of them as only they can. They open the next door and peer inside.

Water spills from a wall basin onto a sodden floor strewn with decayed bones and rotted equipment. Runes are carved in the northern wall.

Everyone hesitates to enter, but Onavel, in his brash fashion, trods inside. When nothing happens, the rest of the group enters. A search of the room reveals a bag of 743gp, a potion of Reduce Person, and a +1 flail with the name “Shatterskull” carved into the handle in Dwarven. The runes read:

“YOU WHO DARED TO VIOLATE MY TOMB MAY REMAIN

AND DIE SLOWLY OF STARVATION, OR ESCAPE TO CERTAIN DEATH.

WHATEVER YOUR CHOICE, ACERERAK THE ETERNAL

WATCHES AND SCOFFS AT YOUR PUNY EFFORTS AND ENJOYS YOUR DEATH THROES.”

The group decides there’s nothing more of interest here and moves on to the final doorway, which also emits a blue light. Following the same procedure as before, Harlos swings open the door. This time to find:

A large wooden sarcophagus rests upon a low stone table. Broken and looted chests, urns, and coffers are scattered about on the floor.

Onavel and Tripper remove the lid to uncover a mummified humanoid. Harlos’ closer inspection finds a green gem in an eye socket and a ring under his hand wraps. As Harlos tries to pry the gem out of the eye socket, the body comes alive and grabs his arm. The gem disintegrates. Tripper smashes relentlessly at the body, and Onavel takes a few swings as well. The creature is quickly dispersed and Harlos pulls his arm away with the hand still gripping him. Tripper obliges Harlos and removes the hand. Harlos takes the ring and Tripper identifies it as a Ring of Fire Resistance, Minor (resist Fire 5). With nothing more of interest in that room, the group moves on to the area with the faint orange glow.

When they get there, they discover the glow to be a gem in the middle of a pile of rubble:

Cinders, ashes, charred bones and skulls, and the crisped and blackened remains of gear, clothing, arms, and armor are strewn about a huge, glowing orange gem.

Tripper inspects it as Corwyn warns it emits an overwhelming evil. As Tripper touches the gem, it triggers in his mind that he could be granted one wish if he activates it. Rather than relaying this to the group, he simply states this item needs to be destroyed, and he stashes it in his pack for later. The group then moves on to the Throne.

A stark black dais holds an obsidian throne inlaid with silver and ivory skulls. A crown and scepter rest upon the throne. The crown is golden, while the scepter has a silver end, and one of gold.

The group approaches the throne and inspects it. Harlos grabs the scepter and declares he will attempt to touch the silver end of the scepter to the silver crown inlay. The rest of the group moves back. When he does it, the throne sinks into the floor revealing a passageway down and south. The group moves into the passageway, leaving the crown untouched.

The room beyond is a cornucopia of materials ending in two metal doors atop stairs.

The steps, wall, and ceiling of this stairwell are each apparently forged of a separate precious or semiprecious metal. A bronze key lies untended on one of the steps.

The six steps are made of onyx, pink marble, lapis, black marble, serpentine (golden), and malachite (re s p e ctively, from lowest to highest). The walls are lined with copper (untarnished and gleaming) panels set between rare woods inlaid with ivory. The ceiling is silvered iron, formed so as to reflect and multiply light. Upon the fourth step is a large, cylindrical key of bronze. The doors on the south wall are apparently made of mithral The doors set on the southern end of room 28 are 14-feet wide and 28-feet tall (and 3-feet thick).

Harlos approaches and inspects. He realizes the inlay for the keyhole in the doors is an indention that matches the size of the ends of the scepter. After much deliberation, it is decided he place the silver end of the scepter in the inlay. When he does so, he feels a sensation as though he’s being pulled away from that place. But he resists. Convinced that this is the answer to the riddle, Harlos flips the scepter and places the gold end in the depression. The doors silently swing open. The room beyond…

A silvered ceiling reflects a grand room with inlaid ivory and gold tiled walls and a polished agate tiled floor. A hulking black iron demonic sculpture rests in each corner of the chamber, each bearing a distinctive weapon. In addition, the chamber contains a gold filigreed bronze urn from which issues a thin stream of smoke, two iron chests, and a granite sarcophagus which is plainly inscribed with the name ‘ACERERAK.’

Each iron statue is 9 feet tall and is forged of black iron. The statue to the northeast stands with a saw-toothed two-handed sword raised to strike; the statue to the northwest has a huge, spike-ended mace; to the southeast the sculpture readies a wickedly spiked morning star, and the one in the southwest has a glaive. Each has a magical aura. Each has an evil aura as well and the visage of each of these iron statues is most fearsome and terrifying.

Deciding that this is an “obvious” trap, Onavel sets toward the one in the NW corner, smashing at it. It splits in two and falls over revealing a trap door beneath. He sets about the room attempting the same, but no other trap doors are found. Before exploring further, they decide to inspect the remainder of the room.

The Sarcophagus reveals nothing. It is empty. They move on to the chests. After allowing Tripper to set off the 3 traps on each chest, and break the last of 3 locks on each, they open the chest to find 10,000 gems, which Onavel estimates to be worth about 50gp each. When they later leave the dungeon, they find these to actually be only quartz flints worth nothing more than 1cp each. They had been enchanted by an illusion. Enjoy your 20,000 quartz flints, fellas! LOL!

The group then moves on to the Bronze Urn. Onavel walks up to smash it. When he does, an Efreeti appears and battle ensues. The group quickly realizes, for some unknown reason, none of their magic or magical effects work. But they still make short work of the Efreeti. Tripper steps back out of the room and finds that it is the room that is causing the loss of magic.

The group moves on to the trap door. Opening it reveals a 10ft drop to a 5ft opening that opens again into a 10ft hallway that curves around. Harlos searches the area and finds a secret door. Opening it, he sees a 10ft wide by 20ft deep room with a small depression in the middle. In the depression is a key hole. Harlos attempts to use the key they found in the mirky water vats (repaired by Dez), but a large fireball explosion erupts, destroying the key, and narrowly missing Harlos. He then has Tripper go get the key from outside the AntiMagic room. Turning that in the key hole, the room begins to shake and move and Harlos sprints back to the exit, the floor rising as he goes, allowing him to easily leave. What is revealed in the room’s stead is another room.

A pile of gems, coins, vials, scrolls, and other items lies immediately inside the door of this mithral vault, but against the rune-scribed far wall is a stone bier. On the bier is a thick layer of dust mixed with bone shards and a gem-encrusted skull.

As many of the group as can fit enter the room, and Tripper takes note of the items on the floor. He then taps the skull with his chain and it reacts by raising into the air, turning in his direction and peering into him. He feels a sensation deep within him, a hollow feeling. As though all his essence was trying to be ripped away, but his return pull is stronger, and he escapes the skull’s grasp. While this is happening, the dust in the room swirls and combines to form a ghostly figure.

The group turns its attention first on the ghost and dispatches it quickly. But the skull proves to be quite resilient. Tripper manages to nick a chunk out of it with his chain, but all other attacks prove ineffective until Dez pummels it with a Shatter spell. All other magical attacks bounce right off. Then Onavel squirms his way up front just after Tripper resists another stare down by the skull. Onavel then crushes the skull into dust in a maddened assault. The group then loots the treasure of the room:

• Ninety-seven 10 gp gems and three huge gems (a 1,000 gp peridot, a 5,000 gp emerald, and a 10,000 gp black opal).

• Gems set in the demilich construct: two jewels set into the eye sockets (5,000 gp rubies) and 6 pointed (marquis cut) diamonds set as teeth in the jaw (each diamond worth 500 gp).

• Three potions of cure serious wounds, one potion of heroism, two oils of keen edge, two potions of fly and a potion of greater magic fang.

Two scrolls of command, one scroll of slow, one scroll of arcane eye, one scroll of shatter, one scroll of scorching ray, one scroll of dispel evil, one scroll of Melf ’s acid arrow, and one scroll of power word kill.

• A ring of feather falling, a lesser rod of silent metamagic, and a staff of fire.

• A cursed backbiter spear, and two –2 cursed longswords.

• A pair of goggles of lifesight (see Libris Mortis, page 78).

• A wrapped tower (see Libris Mortis, page 76).

They then inspect the bier and discover it actually holds a hidden compartment. Upon opening, Tripper pulls out an Ogre-sized Heavy Flail that radiates a strong magical aura (Aberration Augury). As he pulls it from the bier, several in the group feel a change in air pressure in the room beyond. They round the corner to find 2 doors. Opening each, they see portals. To where, they do not know. Each portal appears to lead to the same place.

The group discusses and decides not to take the leap of faith, instead returning to the dungeon’s main entrance. It has now been 4 days since entering the dungeon, and they are not sure if they have a way back home waiting on them outside. Tomb of Horrors

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Chapter 6 - Tarus
One thing about Breland I could never stomach. All the damned vampires!

Arriving back at Rina, Omega is relieved to see the Zephyr waiting for them outside of town. When they get there, they meet up with Finneas and set up transport back to Sharn with a battered Fergus en tow. Just before departing, the group is approached by a Valenar elf named Onavel who says he was sent to accompany Omega to assist in their mission. When questioned on this, it is uncovered that Hektula had lead Onavel in their direction, which bothered Omega a little and they were instantly cautious of their new companion.

After a bit of drama trying to figure out how to get Onavel’s horse aboard the Zephyr, the group set off to Sharn.

A quick stop in Wroat left Tome to handle all the administrative duties of getting Tripper’s keep legally in place and the remainder of the group went back home to Sharn. Once there, they each went their separate ways to get some much-needed rest before moving on to investigate more on Gribnakh. Once at each of their homes, they each discovered an invitation to a hunt the following night at the house of an aristocrat named Tarus, in addition to revelation of information potentially helpful to Omega.

Converging and discussing the matter, the group decides to proceed cautiously to find out what Tarus knows that can press their mission along.

A short ride north of Sharn, Omega finds the mansion off the Orien trade route. When they arrive, they are greeted by a butler/servant who says Tarus will be along shortly and the group can make themselves comfortable at the dinner table which is strangely set outside.

After a while, Tarus arrives and dinner begins. Not everyone trusts the meal to eat, but some do. It’s noted that Tarus does not eat anything. The conversation turns south relatively quickly and the group uncovers that Tarus is a vampire. They make relatively short work of him and the werewolves imprisoned in his barn and set about searching his estate.

Minor traps and creatures aside, the mansion was a relative dud, save one room with a ledger documenting goods and services to Q’Barra as well as a hunting expedition there and some information that Omega decided might actually have some significance to their mission after all.

Within the ledger, mention is made of a collection of 5 stones of Byeshk infused with powers that, when used alone, each will have some sort of effect that can weaken or otherwise give the weilder advantage over aberrations. However, when used en tandem, project a mystical harmony that counters the very nature of aberrations, bringing peace to their chaos, order to their insanity. One of the pieces is said to have been forged into a mighty Flail, locked away in a forgotten crypt in the swamps of Q’Barra.

Taking the information along with a map of Q’Barra, Omega sets off to find the first stone.

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Chapter 5 - Valenar
A Desert Oasis - Not my Wonderwall

Valenar Omega are aboard the Zephyr for several days before they see the bright, vast emptiness that is the Blade Desert, the gateway to Valenar. As arid as it may be, it is a very welcome change to the gloomy shadow of Cyre, the Mournland, that accompanied the group to their West most of the trip.

Finneas maneuvers the Zephyr just west of Taer Elladorn to a smaller nomadic settlement he says is named Rina. He sets the ship hovered just outside the village to not arouse suspicion and the group leaves. They ask if he will be back to pick them up, to which he has no actual answer. He says the deal was only to get them here and that he has other deliveries to make. But if he is able, he will try.

With no more than a hope, Omega moves on into Rina.

Rina Rina

The settlement is walled-in by 15ft spiked logs. While the wall is permanent, the buildings appear to not be, save the western structure that appears to be some sort of tavern or inn. The group moves from building to building asking questions about the ruin, coming to the same end. nothing. In the Bazaar, they make due with some supplies and take a chance with a Deck of Many Things which comes out well in the group’s favor. After some crafty thinking on wishes, the group establishes no need for money again, Tripper gets a Keep of his own in Breland near Vathirond, and the group is pretty much on easy street. After rounding up some gear, and Dez parading as King Boranel for kicks, they move on to the inn.

Gear Inside they do drum up information and a bearing on the location of an old ruin, rumored to be south of the settlement. Omega then goes to secure transport with the Camel Trader near the entry. Dez makes use of his charm and seduces the trader’s assistant into sweetening the deal. The group arranges to pick up the camels later in the day, when the desert begins to cool.

After several treacherous days passage through the Barren Wastes, Omega finally arrives at the location. From above it would appear as nothing more than a couple of buried obelisks and a slight depression or dune. Easily missed. But at ground level, it is clear that the obelisks are actually entry markers to a descending hill, presumably leading down into a ruin. Omega enters carefully.

Desert Ruins L1

In the entryway they are faced with a double door ahead, a smaller door to the right and 6 statues, 4 of which are armor and 2 that are in front of the double doors resemble rust monsters. Omega uncovers a small pool behind the smaller door and also discover a secret door to the left (east), behind which lies an ancient Dhakaani library on Drift Magic (desert spells) and something called Incarnum. Dez uses his Bardic abilities to retain as much of the information as possible in a short time.

They then move back in and cautiously approach the doors when everything closes, the Rust Monsters animate, and gas begins filling the room. Harlos disables the gas trap while the group tries to make short work of the monsters. Once done, they notice a blood trail leading from the entrance to the doors. They press on.

Just past the doors Omega is greeted by a Sphynx. They try to reason with him, but it turns out he has gone insane and pushes to fight them to the death, which they oblige. Just beyond him, they see a vast chamber at the end of which is Fergus. They move in and investigate the stage Fergus is on. Finding a cache of useless stuff behind him, they then attempt to move him after a failed attempt at reviving him by Dez. As soon as they pick him up they hear a click, and rumbling. Dez and Harlos manage to escape the trap, but everyone else succumbs to the floor cave-in that takes almost the entire room to the level below.

Sand Dragon Quickly emerging from a slumber, a small sand Dragon pops up and hisses his annoyance at the interruption. Luckily he decides to press past the group to his freedom. But Omega had bigger problems to deal with.

Crawling Apocalypse Crawling Apocalypse

The floor gave way to a room filled with a sandy floor and a nasty undead abomination Corwyn explained was a Crawling Apocalypse. After several close calls and near deaths, Omega finally manage to silence the beast for good and make their way back through the ruins to the entrance.

As they enter the front room, Corwyn immediately takes Fergus to the pool and heals him. They then hear a thundering outside and a massive demonic entity emerges. Warduke Following him is the same Rakshasa that left the party at the train wreck. He goes to explain that he and the group have the same goals, it seems, and he is interested in helping them with all he knows. The fish-man gets cocky with him and he answers with a successful Finger of Death that leaves the fish-man a pile of ash on the floor.

The Rakshasa, named Hektula, reveals Gribnakh is a target of Pazuzu, his master, for his abominatory heritage of half-demon half-illithid. It’s also revealed suspicion that Gribnakh intends to follow his beloved Vol into lichdom, and that Hektula believes Gribnakh to be in or near Lahzaar, where Vol holds residence. He leaves as cryptically as he came by saying he would assist them further when the need arises.

Omega gives chase only to find him vanished. They camp for the night in the safety of the ruin, then head back to Rina the following day.

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Chapter 4 - Thrane
HALT! In the name of the...slightly corrupted and narrow-minded law!

Thrane On their journey north, OMega discover a stowaway in their hold. A fish-man from Lhazaar who was aboard the ship when Dughan seized it. He managed to stay hidden the entire time, but made his presence known when he found Dughan to be gone. Omega allowed him to join as they needed to fill the party hole about to be made by Osh. Planning to head to Sarlona, his homeland, Osh sought to have his cyst removed as well as getting his crystal armor made. He was to part ways with OMega, and head out alone, while OMega went into Flamekeep to find Fergus.

I. Aruldusk

On docking, Osh bids his farewells, and Omega moves inland. Just as they’re about to do some shopping and mingling, the midday worship begins, and all shops close. After a brief interlude, the city opens back up and gets about its business. Some religious rabble try to start something with Omega, but they hold their tongues and move on, finding a shop to sell some items.

Once inside they strike up a conversation with a rather chatty dwarf selling rare wares. He allows the group to hock some of their lesser used items for a healthy coin, but isn’t willing to take the more mundane items like swords and armor. The group befriends him and he tells them if they ever need any information, or have any to give, he’d be a willing recipient. Unfortunately they don’t have anything at this time. But they do find out that the nearest Teleportation station is in Sigilstar, just a quick ride north, so they set out immediately.

II. Sigilstar

Once in Sigilstar the group sets about immediately to find the teleportation site, foregoing any further delays. They find it easily enough and make the proper payments to jump to Flamekeep.

Flamekeep III. Flamekeep

When Omega arrives in Flamekeep, they are not actually in the city proper. The teleport station lies in the village just outside the southern city walls. They make their way directly to the city entrance from the port station. City Entry

Flamekeep 2 From afar, Flamekeep resembles a gigantic fortress enclosed by high walls, its buildings perched atop a rocky plinth surrounded on all sides by a water-filled crevasse. Deep within this crevasse sits the city’s bustling harbor and more crowded districts. The magnificent Cathedral of the Silver Flame, its white alabaster walls agleam, surmounts the rocky plinth—a glorious beacon visible for miles in every direction. West of the Cathedral rise the slender spires of Thalingard, the ancestral home of Thrane’s kings. Unlike the Cathedral, the royal palace is sculpted from gray rock and looks somewhat glum by comparison.

Flamekeep is a city much like Rome. Tall stone structures surround you arched in many forms and fashions. The outer wall is foreboding and oppressive. But it offers a strange sense of comfort, too. It would take a massive army to lay siege to this city and succeed. Guards mill about patrolling the parapets above and the yard below. A great deal of traffic comes in and out of the city in succession. Mostly they are peasants and pilgrims. A handful of merchant carts are mixed in, but not as many as would be in Sharn. Still, this is one of the larger cities on Khorvaire, and the sense of the urbane gives you some sense of security as opposed to the dank, dreary dungeon or the vast, empty plains. As is to be expected, the mark of the Flame is everywhere. Standards fly at every post on the wall. A flag is hung on each side of the main gate. And every soldier and guard bears the mark visibly somewhere on his person.

The day is bright and sunny, only a few scattered puffs of cloud are sprinkled in the sky. The heat is high, and humidity from the waterway makes it stuffy. Aside from that, it’s a rather pleasant day. A slight breeze wafts in every few seconds, lifting the standards to attention and rustling the flags normally pressed hard against the cold, grey stone exterior wall.

Upon approaching the main gate, Omega is halted by a sentry who bears the mark of the flame on the front his vestment. He holds up his hand to stop them as they approach, but he does not look directly at them. They get the impression this is just another routine stop for him. They also notice that only a few people are stopped. Almost like random selection. But everyone with visible weapons or traveling in groups larger than 4 are stopped.

“Hail, travelers. What business do you have in the great city of Flamekeep this day,” he says in a very hum-drum and somber tone, suggesting a slight tinge of boredom. The guard continues on, as though reading a speech, basically ignoring any attempt at questions the group may have.

The guard insists that all weapons be peace-tied while in the city. He explains that should they be caught drawing their weapons, thus breaking the peace-tie, they will be fined. If they use their weapons (this includes magic), they will be jailed for one night per offense (i.e. per swing) as well as fined for drawing the weapon and charged a fine to cover the cell usage and any meals they eat while incarcerated.

“Vigilantism is not tolerated in the Great City. Should you find yourself on the business end of an unfriendly blade, you would be advised to signal authorities. Guards patrol regularly throughout the city and servants of the Flame are never far away.”

Should you go hostile against an official, meaning anyone ordained by the Church as an official of the great country of Thrane, the punishment is imprisonment (including hard labor – length pending sentencing), fine, and banishment. Killing an official, regardless of the evidence to your innocence is punishable by death. Consider yourself warned.

Any length of stay longer than a month requires a visa. If, after a month has passed, you are caught without the proper paperwork, you will be exiled from the country. Return without proper papers brings a sentence of death. Consider yourself warned.

No adventuring party may set up business here. That is to say, if you’re looking to charter yourselves here, cast out that thought forthwith. Only those who follow the proper channels and join the proper organizations first, such as the Argentum, may do adventuring business in Flamekeep. That being said, many successful business ventures have come from Flamekeep through these avenues. Breaking this law brings the same punishments as extending your stay without following the proper procedures.”

The guard sent them about their way with one final word, “keep your wits about you and keep your nose clean and you will be okay. Your friend here (motions to cleric) should have told you all this before. Enjoy your stay in the Great City.”

Various members of Omega start to try and ask questions, but the guard brushes them off and attends to the next group behind them, so Omega move on into the city proper.

Within the Wall

Thrane architecture features Galifar-style towers and keeps, deep-wood long homes, and Flamic-style cathedrals and public buildings. In some places, the older-style construction has been modified to incorporate Flamic elements, while newer buildings fully embrace the Flamic style from the ground up. Flamic architecture features tall windows and open arches to let in light, and incorporates an open, soaring use of space to revere the power of the Silver Flame. From urban centers to the larger villages in the countryside, Thrane surrounds itself with religious symbols, edifices, and art that makes the entire country feel like an extended church.

The worn, stone bridge that leads to the city transforms into an elegant cobblestone street at the threshold. It is roughly 20 ft wide to the right and left as smaller roads branch off. The main path is 40ft wide, however, straight ahead it winds up a hill leading to a towering Cathedral.

The Cathedral has white alabaster walls supported by massive f lying buttresses and fitted with dozens of tall, stained glass windows set in ornate, wrought iron frames. A depiction of the flame on each and a Coatl ghosted in behind. Several pilgrims and a few officials are coming and going along the path, but it is not as busy as the main roads. Four fully-plated guards are staggered across the entry way. Anyone who attempts entry is stopped and questioned first. It is noted that some pass through without being accosted, though, it is unknown why. No “official” is stopped.

Directional road maps lend more insight to the layout of the city. To the west is the dock ward. There are found merchants and hospitality. To the east you see more residential-type buildings. These are much more high classed than the ones on the outside of the city. The social hierarchy is blatantly clear in the city.

Omega decides the best course of action is to go straight to the information source, the church. So they make way to the Cathedral right away.

The Cathedral

Upon approach, the guards halt the group. The typical business of “State your business…” ensues. They inspect their gear for peace ties. Then they hold out a tithing plate for offerings. A few coins are tethered, followed by “May the Flame bless you and keep you,” from the guards, and the guards wave Omega through.

It is noted as Omega climbed the hill, several citizens and even a couple officials are eyeballing them hard. Some point and whisper. But as they pass, they do nothing more.

The interior of the Cathedral, with its silverinlaid black marble floors and pillars, seems a perfect marriage of majesty and decadence. Deep within the Cathedral, beyond heavy doorways and well-armed warforged guards, sits the Chamber of the Flame. The Flame itself rises from a fiery pool at the center of a brilliant circular mosaic of floor tiles. In addition to housing a veritable swarm of clerics and paladins, the Cathedral is home to the offices of the cardinals and the private chambers of the Keeper of the Flame, Jaela Daran.

Most within are worshipping. It is not time for service, so the halls are relatively empty save a scant few parishioners and a few acolytes. A couple of party members attempt to hail an Acolyte or two, but they prove less than helpful, not knowing anything of worth. After a while, it’s determined that most of these people don’t know much of anything useful. they do find that the Cardinals are in session and cannot give audience and the clerics are all about town on business.

Thalingard

Omega decides to move on to inspect Thalingard for any possible leads.

A gray stone causeway connects the Cathedral to the tall spires of Thalingard.

Dez relays to the party that it is customary for the imperial ruler of Thrane to name the royal palace after himself (or herself). Thalin was the last of Thrane’s true monarchs, and thus the palace retains his name.

Thalingard has narrow spires that reach higher than any other structure in the city, including the Cathedral. Although stocked with vigilant warforged guards, it feels strangely empty and neglected. It clings to the west side of the city’s central plinth, its sheer walls and precarious balconies looming high above the rest of the city. Thalingard serves as the primary residence for Thrane’s royal regent, Diani ir’Wynarn.

Dez recants for everyone that every few months, Diani leaves the city and retreats to Silvercliff Castle farther north. The Council of Cardinals pay little heed to her coming and going unless they need her for some diplomatic function. Diani keeps Thalingard clean and ready for visiting dignitaries and important gatherings, but she considers Silvercliff Castle her “nest.”

Finding nothing of interest, they go back into the Cathedral. Once there, Tripper engages in an exchange with one of the Warforged guards. Her proceeds to assist the guard in understanding that his position hasn’t really changed. Even if he believes he is free, he is still being treated very much like a slave while in the service of the Church. After a lengthy debate on the matter, the guard eventually comes around and decides to look into options outside of Thrane.

Omega, frustrated that they cannot get anywhere in the information epicenter of Flamekeep, decide to try their luck in the western wards of the city. Commercial District

Upon entering the commercial district, you are immediately aware, if you weren’t already, that you’re in the hive of Silver Flame zealotry. A wiry-looking man stands on a crate on the street corner blaring at the top of his lungs to any who would listen about the evils Karrnath has presented and how they are not done.

Asking a passerby, Omega discovers he is a man whom folk call “Orison” is a discharged cleric of the Silver Flame named Lusef Arcarion who witnessed a few too many atrocities during the Last War. Now, he’s been reduced to a raving street preacher who anxiously warns passers-by that the war isn’t over and that “The Karrns are coming!”

Harlos notices a tattered piece of parchment nailed to a post catches your attention. It reads: “Warforged soldier for hire. Comes with adamantine body, bastard sword, and shield. Inquire at the Rusty Anchor.” So they decide to move on that lead. If, for nothing else, to hire some more muscle, but once inside the Rusty Anchor, they do not find any warforged. Thinking it a dead lead, they move on.

Buildings line the streets in divvied blocks. Roughly 10 stores make one city block. Most anything can be found along the streets, but a vast number of eateries are what consume the shops.

A handful of inns can be found throughout the district. Of note, there are three: The Virtuous Fox Bed & Breakfast, The Illuminated Path, and The Oasis Inn. Next to each Inn is a pub. These are the only pubs you will find in this district. Public drunkenness is a serious crime in Flamekeep. Excessive drinking as a whole is looked down upon. So pubs don’t survive very long in the city, if at all.

The Three Pubs are: The Cup and the Blessing, The Knight’s Club, and The Wandering Coachman Tavern.

Dez notes on Thrane cuisine in general: Utilizing thrakel spices cooked in thick sauces, Thrane cuisine tends to be heavy, filling, hot, and delicious. Thrakel-seared beef in red sauce, three-thrakel fish stew, and the traditional silvered vegetable skewers are particular favorites in Thrane and beyond. The people of Thrane also enjoy their desserts, but here they take a different tack. To counter the spicy nature of the main meal, Thrane desserts tend to be sweet and served cold. Beesh-berry sorbet on top of silverfruit pie is considered the best of many tempting desserts.

The Commercial District spills over into the Dock Ward. The group decides to entertain the Virtuous Fox as it sounded like a place “flamers” might frequent. Itching for a scrap, they head that way, into the Dock Ward Dock Ward

The smell of the sea trickles over into the commercial district as you near. You know where you are without even asking. Ships of all shapes and sizes clutter up the docs. This area is bustling and crowded. Merchant tents and booths line the streets and every manner of trading is going on. The crowded market becomes almost unbearable to maneuver at times. On the waterfront lies the market, on the cityfront, the street is lined with numerous offices, Inns, Pubs, and traders. A few fencers and financers can be found if you look hard enough.

The third building to the south is an inn named the Rusty Anchor. Several pubs you notice are: The Choral Connection, Barnacle Bill’s, The Sand Bar, and The Salty Slug. A couple of Inn’s you see are Compass Rose’s Rest and Landlocked Egen.

Omega realizes that they have attracted the interest of some very heavily armed and armored paritioners of the Silver Flame. As best as they can tell in their unsuspecting glances, they are officials of the Theocracy. They are keeping their distance, but they are most definitely following Omega, eyeing them with great concern.

Virtuous Fox Virtuous Fox

Inside the Virtuous Fox, the group discovers a Warforged sitting alone at a table. The room isn’t terribly busy. One attractive waitress is working most of the room alone. Dez proceeds to hit on her and wins a “meeting” after her shift ends. The barkeep/owner of the Pub is a ruddy dwarf. Harlos strikes up a conversation with him while Tripper engages the warforged, who turns out to be Tower, the blade for hire from the flier. Tripper and Tower share a brief conversation as Tower isn’t the sharpest tack in the box. He does discover, though, that the warforged known as Tower fought for Thrane in the dying days of the Last War, and now that the war has ended, he doesn’t quite know what to do with his time. He’s looking for direction and a way to use his martial prowess (since he doesn’t know a trade). A dwarf suggested that he draft some notices and post them around the city, and Tower has taken the suggestion to heart.

They do manage to convince him to join up with them, but no sooner does this occur, that the doors burst open and 6 guards all clad in Crimson dressings under Heavy Plate spill through.

The head of the guard, a Human female who does not introduce herself, cries out that Omega is under arrest for crimes against the state and will come peacefully to await their trial the following day. Omega hesitate, desperately wanting to destroy the guards, but instead they attempt a negotiation. Seeing it not working, they converge and decide it would be best to go along for the time being, as they don’t want to be on the entire nation’s most wanted list.

In their cell later that evening, after a lengthy discussion on escape, Omega is startled to attention by a small hole in the cell wall that grows into a cavern entrance. Emerging from it, a young girl.

Before you stands a chocolate-complected, 11 year old girl. As she draws back the hood of her graycloak, you see her dark hair is cropped short and soft, gray eyes look gently upon you. A level of wisdom and compassion lives behind those eyes that should not reside in one so young. She presents her hands, a sign of peace, and whispers…

“Well met, men. I am Jaela Daran. For those who do not know, I am the Keeper of the Flame and advisor of the council of Cardinals. I have come to give you some valuable information. I know where your friend Fergus is, and if you want to save him, you must go with me now.”

Omega, completely taken aback and off guard, stammer out a few questions to which Jaela answers:

The party asks why she doesn’t just overturn the Council’s ruling. She says she has no proof to back them. Only the word of a trusted informant. That would not be enough to turn them and it would expose the informant, doing much more harm than good.

The party asks about Fergus. She gives a scant bit of information about the corruption of the council and how she is working to expose them. They ask how they’ll escape. She tells them she has acquired an airship with an ally pilot who will take them directly to Fergus, who has been taken to a remote ruin in Valenar, in the Blade Desert.

Finally, Tripper comes forth after much silence in the exchange (very unlike Tripper), and he asks her one simple question, “Do I have a soul?”

Jaela’s face draws and she looks on Tripper with pity when she replies, “it is my belief that you do not. I am sorry, my friend, but I have had no teachings on the matter and no word from the Flame saying such, so I must hold that it is true. But take heart, this is solely my belief. What you believe is what drives you, what makes you who you are. Hold fast to your beliefs, and they will make anything possible.”

Jaela hands each party member a small vial attached to a lanyard made of very strong woven silk threads. She explains that within it is blessed salt water and a small pile of red choral at the bottom. The vial has an ivory base and a green swastika etched into the side. It will last for one week of constant taint exposure. During which time it absorbs the taint slowly decaying the choral, then blackening the water, fully turning the ivory black. At this point, the vial is useless and must be destroyed, else the next to wear it will absorb the corruption within.

The group then spills one by one through the tunnel which leads out the back of the tower, right next to a ladder. They ascend to a landing platform veiled by dense fog, where waiting for them is all their gear…but no airship. Suddenly, out of nowhere swoops in a smaller vessel with a fiery flame ring. Aboard all that can be seen is a Half-elf, and no other crew. He cries out to them to board quickly or the trip will end rather abruptly. Without much hesitation Omega ascends the rope ladder and they ship fires away from Flamekeep at lightning speed.

Zephyr Zephyr

Aboard the ship, the group discovers another occupant, a small warforged who introduces himself as Slink. he reveals the group has boarded the Zephyr, captained by one Finneas Slade, a Windright Captain of House Lyrander. Once settled in, Slink trades places with Finneas and he formally introduces himself. He gives the group an ETA on their destination and they all turn in for the night. Finneas

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