Tale of Fools

Session the Sixth - Season finale
The Tale of Fools concludes...Gulthias unbound

 

During the first night, as the party rested behind their makeshift barricades, they heard the sounds of combat from higher up in the citadel complex, but on the second night of rest there were no such sounds. 

On both nights they heard sounds from further to the west along the tunnel. Periodically the strange smell of burning wafted through the tunnels. It smelled neither of flesh nor wood, nor was it pleasant like incense. None of the group had smelt anything like it, nor could they guess its cause.

Although it was hard to tell in the endless black of the Underdark Ashendarius sensed when two days had passed since their assault. Unlike the others he did not need sleep, a few hours of meditation were all the elf needed to rest himself and remain alert. His sense of time keeping in the utter black was as good as if he were in the sunlit forests of his long destroyed home.

He roused the others at dawn on the second day. All looked refreshed and ready for the trial ahead. As they set out Ashendarius cast a Light of Lunia spell which suffused his entire body with a pearly and unearthly light. It played off his fingertips and fell dripping to the floor. The elf was suffused with the power of his god. 

Stepping past their dismantled defenses the group moved swiftly through the silent complex. As they came to the chambers where they had fought two days ago most signs of their victories had been removed. There were no bodies anywhere, only splashes of blood remained to mark the fierce fighting that had taken place as the party fought their way into the citadel's heart.

"Whoever Belak is, he is fastidious in his housekeeping." Ashendarius muttered.

Balthas agreed, "I expected resistance".

"That will come", hissed Ibn Solaar. The eyes of the prickly Kettite warrior glittered in anticipation, 

"Then, let them taste the Sublime Way."  

The half-orc gave a feral grin in return. "They shall taste my axe first swordwizard! Your sublime way you can save for despoiling their headless corpses". Na-Dulak eyes lost focus in an expression signaling to his compatriots that the Na-priest had summoned his draconic totem and assumed its aura.

"Now if they strike us, my totem shall blast them with the red master's flame". 

The group made their way quickly through room after room until they found themselves once more before the doors leading into the twilight grove. Following Bathas’ suggestion the party spent a little time investigating the room adjacent to the cavern. The door was locked since the last time the party passed through but it posed no problem for Ashendarius.  Exploring this area briefly they found nothing but a soil covered floor in which grew several pale bushes and saplings. The walls were lined with shelves containing various books. Discovering nothing of value the party moved swiftly on.

The elven cleric paused to cast a spell on the party which improves their aim in ranged attacks – a real boon for Balthas and his eldritch blast. Then Ashendarius again called upon the Laughing Rogue's domain power of speed; already quick on his feet the cleric trickster now moved with inhuman speed, he forged ahead to act as a scout.

The light from the fungal growths covering the walls and roof filled the cavern-grove like a bruise. The stunted and wicked thorns severely hampered their movement. Picking their way through the undergrowth carefully they pushed deeper into the lair of their enemy. On either side and ahead the thorn trees rustled and moved. 

"We're not alone," Balthas warned, "more of the plant creatures we fought two days ago, although they seem a darker colour and of a more muscular build". 

The creatures seemed content to flee as the party pushed on, however there was clearly little chance of surprise. The cavern opened up into a vast cathedral-like void, the ruins of an ancient keep crouched against the southern rock face. Ashendarius’ elven eyes quickly made out that the keep was little more than a ruin – an open courtyard, inside which the briars did not seem to grow. 

Between gaps in the fallen walls they caught glimpses of a tall powerful bearded man dressed in the ragged greens of a forest priest – a druid, a young woman and noble looking man dressed in armor and wearing a holy symbol of Pelor. The party guessed that the latter two were the missing Hucrele girl and Sir Braford the paladin. Surrounding the trio in the gloom were several of the blighted twig creatures.

The Final Enemy Revealed 

Hulking behind them all was a massive, gnarled and ugly looking tree. Its branches were naked and its roots penetrated the earth like vicious skeletal fingers. A deep pit dug at the side of the tree indicated where the druid had been conducting his experiments, several of the roots were exposed.

The bearded priest, who the group surmised to be Belak – raised his hands and cried out "Hold your movements a moment, you know not what you do!"

"We’re here for your tree Druid", Ashendarius responded, "don’t get in our way!"

Belak scorned the elf. "Fools", he laughed, "you don’t understand what the tree is. It grew from a green and still growing applewood branch used to stake a powerful vampire to the earth here centuries ago. That vampire was Gulthias, high priest of Father Claw. You meddle in the power of unlife!"

The druid cackled. "You don’t comprehend its power, from the seeds of the Gulthias tree’s white and red apples grow the twigblights, and the tree itself can take living flesh and infuse it with new life".

Now they were a little closer the party could see two human shaped indentations in the bowl of the tree. 

It was then that they noticed that the flesh of the man and woman with Belak had been transformed into tree bark. Sharwyn and Sir Braford had become half plant half human hybrids, and as Belak ordered them forward it was clear that he controlled them utterly – their eyes were blank and vacant.

"You shall be my next subjects, come let the tree take you!" Belak cried, "You shall join my army, the army of the Outcast"!

The final battle began when Sharwyn released a magic missile at Ashendarius who took the hit without flinching. With his now enhanced eldritch powers Balthus destroyed a twigblight with single blast before moving into cover. Na-Dulak moved into position to strike on the next round. 

Ashendarius slipped quickly to the walls of the ruined keep and the pearly light suffusing him was discharged at Belak – injuring him with the Light of Lunia. Ibn Solaar moved to the walls also, seeking to enter the side of the keep and achieve flanking advantages. The vicious thorns prevented him moving into the keep immediately however. 

Belak wielded a wand to unleash his mastery of plantlife. The thorns and vegetation surrounding the party came writhing to life, tearing and grasping at the heroes. Na-Dulak and Balthas evaded its grip but the others did not. Ashendarius and Ibn Solaar – the two most dependent on frequent and fast movement for their skills were pinned in place by the Entangle spell cast by Belak. Things looked suddenly bleak as Sir Braford moved to striking range, and the twigblights closed in from all sides.

Trapped! 

Sharwyn unleashed another magic missile – this time striking Na-Dulak who shrugged off the damage like an itch. Balthas returned the compliment by slamming a powerful eldritch blast into the enemy wizard, but she withstood its blast. Sir Braford attempted a sophisticated maneuver to sunder Na-Dulak’s magical morningstar but he failed utterly. Swinging his newly acquired weapon Na-Dulak destroyed a twigblight. 

Belak unleashed another spell – a flaming sphere appeared where Balthas was standing but the wily warlock managed to sidestep the ball of fire and took no hurt. Ashendarius and Ibn Solaar struggled in vain to free themselves.

Braford moves in

Balthas launched another eldritch blast that severely damaged Sir Braford, and he then steps away from the flaming sphere and out of the entangling vegetation. Na-Dulak then moved swiftly to unleash a mighty attack upon Sir Braford. Already heavily injured by the warlock, the unfortunate paladin fell to the half-orc’s furious assault. Ashendarius and Ibn Solaar continued to try to free themselves without success.

Sir Braford falls 

Balthas brought another twigblight down with his eldritch blast, but meanwhile a second managed to close in and hit Ashendarius – poisoning him. Na-Dulak moved into the central courtyard to engage Belak and was bitten by the giant tree frog for his efforts. Ashendarius and Ibn Solaar remain trapped in the thrashing undergrowth.

 

Belak Engaged

Now forced to defend himself Ashendarius was distracted from his efforts to get free by attacking and injuring the twigblight that scratched him.  Balthas brought down yet another twigblight from range with his deadly accurate eldritch blast, the near helpless Ashendarius taking comfort from the fact that his spell of blessed aim is at least of some use. The twigblight attacking Ashendarius hit him again but this time took fire damage from Na-Dulak’s energy aura. Ibn Solaar remained entangled.

Both Na-Dulak and Balthas missed Belak with their attacks but Ashendarius finally destroyed the twigblight attacking him with his rapier. Reduced to attacking Na Dulak with his sickle, Belak struck the half orc doing damage. At last Ibn Solaar broke free of the entangle spell and moved into a position to threaten Sharwyn. 

Balthas next sickening blast caused severe damage to Belak, sickening him for a minute. Ibn Solaar, as the closest to the tree, saw clearly for the first time that that Belak had been digging around the roots of the tree, exposing tendrils – as if the druid has been conducting experiments. Ibn Solaar performed a Charging Minotaur maneuver which not only caused Belak significant damage but pushes him back away from the tree. Balthas launched a huge blast at the tree frog, causing massive damage, but not enough to bring it down. With a cry of frustrated joy Ashendarius finally escaped the entanglement spell and moved into the courtyard.

Ibn Solaar finally succeeded in hitting Belak but the druid remained standing. The tree frog continued its pursuit of the warlock managing a nasty bite before Balthas delivered another massive eldritch blast that blew it into tiny pieces. In swift succession Na Dulak dealt a final fatal blow to Belak who died instantly. Between them Ashendarius and Ibn Solaar flanked Sharwyn before knocking her to the ground, unconscious.

The battle was over, and all things considered the group were in good shape having taken very little in the way of injury.

The party then examined the roots of the tree. The druid had clearly been digging carefully down to the roots of the tree, exposing a grotesque tangle of deformed and blackened tendrils. One particular root alone was still green and fresh at the lower end, although part of it still remained seeking its way into the soil below. The druid had marked a spot higher up the root where it turned necrotic in appearance and some initial cuts had been made. Several spent saw blades laid nearby and a fresh one was in its frame, probably set for the final work.

While the others argued about what to do next Ibn Solaar snuck up to the tree. As the arguments raged the Kettite swordmage dropped into the hole and before they could stop him, began pulling furiously on the last root. 

"I shall honour my obligation – bring me the sword!" He cried mysteriously. 

It took surprisingly little effort to free it from the soil. The root had a sharpened end and was covered in blood. Fresh blood. A translucent mist seeped up from the ground, from the hole occupied by the root. The slow seep quickly became a rapid escape.

Before the group could react something supernatural lashed at their minds, freezing them with fear. Paralyzed and helpless something probed their thoughts, working its way into their very souls. They were powerless to stop it.

In mere seconds the mist assumed a shape as large as a man and although it has no distinct shape it is clearly some sort of creature. The mist, engulfed the corpse of the druid for several seconds and then rose above it, forming a vaguely humanoid shape. 

A confused cacophony welled up inside their heads threatening to overwhelm them before falling to a whisper. A voice formed, full of hatred.

"Releassssed from infernal damnation! Know this, mortals : you have brought upon human-kind the beginning of a new age, a new rule, my rule! And for that you will be forever cursed!"

Unconsciousness enveloped the fools, one last thought accompanying the darkness. They had freed an ancient evil. Gulthias was unbound and now no one could stop him.

 

View
Session the Fifth
Hit hard, hit fast and then...run away!

After some quick healing, we listen at the 2 doors in cavern walls and hear some movement behind the door in the east wall (north east corner).

The party moves into the northern chamber and we find the Bugbears nest on the east wall. Hanging on the wall above the nest is a variety of crude weapons. The floor of the chamber gives the impression that it has been drenched in blood.

The weapons found are:

  • 2 spears
  • 6 javelins
  • 1 long sword
  • 1 bastard sword

A quick use of the warlock's detect magic ability determines that none of these are magical.

Na-Dulak moves to the end of the chamber and peers around the corner, using his dark vision to scout out the tunnel heading to the west. He can see that the tunnel is very roughly constructed and looks as if it is hardly, if ever, used. He enters the passage and moves away to the west to check it out. He returns to report that tunnel turns to the south west and doesn't seem to change in its nature. The party block the tunnel by wedging the spears and javelins into the ground, points facing away from us, to create a crude trap. Thinking their backs are covered they move back to the main chamber and listen at both doors.

Hearing nothing at either door and finding both locked, the party decide to open the eastern door. Ashendarius manages to unlock the door at the 2nd attempt and moves away. With Ibn Solaar poised to strike any enemy that might be lurking behind it, Na-Dulak opens the door. The room that is revealed has 3 doors on each of the north and south walls.

Inevitably there are enemies lurking, 4 goblins to be precise. Na-Dulak charges into action hacking the first goblin he meets into small pieces with a single blow.

Ashendarius then moves into the room and fires his crossbow at the next goblin – piercing it, Harold like, though the eye and slaying it instantly. Ibn Solaar dances nimbly into the room, his aura of shadows flowing around him and his burning blade shining in his hand. The unfortunate goblin he had attacked drops in smoking ruin. Balthas' eldritch blast is wasted on the final goblin.

The western door on the north wall opens and yet another goblin appears through the door and takes a swing at Balthas, missing by a hairs breadth. The central door on the southern wall opens revealing 2 more goblins. One of which attacks Na-Dulak, missing wildly. Na-Dulak's next attack misses badly, and Ashendarius can do more than drop his crossbow and draw his sword. Ibn Solaar bellows like a bull and charges across the room collecting a goblin in a rushing attack – battering it unconscious. Balthas then annihilates his opponent with a well aimed blast. Three goblins remain and one attacks Balthas, one Na-Dulak and one Ibn Solaar – they all miss. Yet another goblin dies at Na-Dulak's hands before Ashendarius misses the next. Ibn Solaar kills the penultimate goblin, leaving just one brave goblin who continues to fight on until Ibn Solaar puts it out of its misery.

 

Searching the bodies reveals:

  • 128 sp

The room is flanked by 2 rows of marble columns carved with dragon motifs. There are also tables on which stand various pestles and mortars. The open door in the north wall reveals a room containing 16 straw pallets. The open door to the south reveals a room containing table, to which is strapped a dire rat suffering from wood like tumours. It appears to be dying. On a corner of the table is a crystal vial containing a clear liquid, which Balthas declares to be non magical. 

Na-Dulak takes the vial with him.

Moving to the western door on the south wall the party open it to reveal a room containing a crude mashing, straining and cask facility. The tun contains mashed potato like tubers. There are ten 2 gallon casks, all full, stood against a wall. Opening one reveals an alcoholic liquid which smells stale and musty.

The central door on the north wall opens to reveal a small repair shop or tailoring workshop.

The eastern door on the south wall reveals an empty room with a tunnel leading out of its south eastern corner. Ashendarius crosses the room and peers down the tunnel. It is unworked and he cannot tell whether it has been used recently.

The eastern door on the north wall opens to reveal a room which appears to be weapons store. There is another door in the north eastern corner. Gathering up the weapons reveals:

  • 5 small short swords
  • 30 small javelins

Balthas confirms all to be non magical.

Listening at the door in the north east corner Na-Dulak hears nothing so Ashendarius unlocks the door.

 

Opening the door reveals a small 10×10 room with another door in the eastern wall. Ashendarius suspects that this is a trap but fails to find one so he and Na-Dulak enter the room and listen at the other door. Ashendarius unlocks the door and opens it. This reveals a large cross shaped chamber.

Nodules of luminescent fungus hang from the ceiling and grow from the floor. The walls and floor are covered with carvings showing dragons raining fire down on terrified members of all the races. There are doors in the east, north and south walls. Listening at these three doors we hear nothing at the north door, a shuffling, crunching sound behind the eastern door and movement of some kind behind the south door.

The party decide to proceed in a direction where they can hear no sound – hoping to penetrate deeper into the complex before they are discovered. However when they open the northern door Na-Dulak and Ashendarius are faced by a large bugbear armed with a Morningstar; who proceeds to take a huge, but luckily inaccurate swipe, at Na-Dulak. After Balthas and Na-Dulak both miss, Ashendarius tries a risky tumbling manoeuvre to get into position to attack. Unfortunately the elf's gymnastic skills let him down and he leaves himself open to an attack of opportunity which hits, dealing 9 points of damage. Fortunately his subsequent attack is a critical one, dealing 7 points of damage.

The next attack by the bugbear severely damages Balthus – doing 6 points of damage. Ibn Solaar then fells it with a skilfully thrown trident. The room we have entered is long and thin with a 20×10 alcove in the eastern wall. There is a door in the alcove and one in the north wall. This room is again covered with dragon carvings. The party cannot discern what the carvings represent, if anything.

Searching the bugbear reveals:

  • 5 gp
  • 23 sp
  • A large pouch of soil like substance.

Listening at the two doors Ashendarius hears nothing behind the north door and movement behind the east door. He then, foolishly and without consulting Balthas, opens the northern door. Revealing yet another bugbear armed with a scythe. Fortunately it is caught flat footed and Ibn Solaar and Na-Dulak move in to attack. A crossbow bolt from Ashendarius finishes it off.

Searching body yields:

  • 11gp
  • 24sp

The party find themselves in an octagonal chamber covered in the ubiquitous fungus. Much of this fungus is scorched and there is no sign of what caused the damage. There is a door in the south west wall. There is a sequence of 1' diameter holes in the walls, from which a fiery light emanates. There are 2 in the north wall, 3 in the East wall, 2 in the west wall and 1 in the North West wall.  Approaching one of the holes Balthas realises that a lot of heat is also coming through them. Ashendarius listens at the south west door and, hearing nothing, unlocks and opens it.

This reveals a corridor running southwards.

At the end of the corridor is a chamber containing a huge carved dragon in the curve of the western wall. The empty eye sockets of the statue still give off an eerie red glow and its giant wings are hidden in shadow.  A 5' diameter red tile is inset in the floor in front of the statue; runes are carved along its inner edge.

Ashendarius searches the area behind the statue and finds nothing. Na-Dulak examines the red tile and translates the, draconic, inscription as "Let the sorcerous power illuminate my mind". Balthas detects magic on the tile and the statue and detects that both are magical, have strong auras and are a type of transmutation magic. Ashendarius idiotically decides to step into the circle of the red tile and reads the words on tile in Draconic. It proves to be a mistake as a spectral flame rolls from the stone dragon's mouth and engulfs him. Luckily, he seems to be unharmed; in fact he gains a charisma bonus.

Less luckily, at the same time an incorporeal animate shadow emerges from behind the dragon's wings and approaches Ashendarius. Fortunately it fails to touch him and Ashendarius is able to turn undead on the creature.  Balthas gives Na-Dulak his magic Morningstar to enable him to attack the creature as it flees. Sadly he misses and it is able to disappear, unharmed, into the wall behind the dragon.

Intrigued and excited by the draconic idol Na-Dulak steps into the red tiled circle and utters the words on the tiles. To his disappointment, this time nothing happens.

The party take time to search the statue of the dragon but find nothing. Ashendarius listens at the door in the North wall but hears nothing. Ashendarius then opens the door to a 20' x 20' room filled with leaning and partially fallen stone book shelves. Torn bindings, pages and scrolls litter the floor. We move back into the main room to await the return of the incorporeal being. Balthas hits it with an eldritch blast. Na-Dulak charges to the attack and strikes home with the magic Morningstar. The shadow, for such it is, strikes at Ibn Solaar but misses. The shadow then vanishes into the wall. The party moves into defensive decisions and await the next attack of their cunning adversary. It emerges from a different wall trying to catch the party unawares. This time though an eldritch blast from Balthas dispatches it.

As Ibn Solaar has used a oil of magic weapon on his bastard sword the party decides to press on to the north as quickly as possible in order that it not be wasted. Ashendarius rushes into the "library" and opens the door in its north wall. This leads to a corridor with a set of steps leading down in the north east corner.

When Na-Dulak runs to the end of the corridor he can see that the stairs lead down about 15'. At the foot of the stairs is a corridor which runs under the octagonal room, ending in a set of stairs going back up to the level we have just left. At the end of the steps the corridor turns south as far as we can see. Balthus and Na-Dulak spot a small sheaf of papers on the floor under the soil on the floor near the western wall of the corridor.

We point them out to Ibn Solaar who picks them up and reads them. They appear to be pages from a diary pertaining to an attempt to take a cutting from "the tree" – presumably the one that yields "magic apples". They read as follows.

"My plans proceed, but the pace is frustrating. I need more fruit which requires a new tree and yet the seeds produce  the twig blights and I have yet to fathom how to make Nature's course run differently here. None of my experiments have yielded any clues, but I must press on."

"I have lately diverted focus away from the tree's seeds  and toward it's internal structure, but great care is required here lest I damage it or it takes me.."

"Today brought the biggest leap in my research for months. Extracts from the tree bark have been incredibly difficult to obtain, but samples from different areas of the trunk reveal different properties and what I seek would appear to be at ground level."

"I have finally got to the root of this seemingly intractable problem – literally ! What I seek of the tree lies beneath the surface, but I must plan meticulously to protect the essence of the thing whilst extracting some of its very life source. I am now convinced that a green root can be removed reltively harmlessly and that, properly nurtured, it will grow fully. I will begin tomorrow. A second tree cannot be far from my grasp !"

At the end of the immensely long corridor is a door in the east wall. Opening the door reveals a 30×40' room with a large gap in the south wall leading to what appears to be another cavern of the Grove. Also in the room are 3 goblins. An eldritch blast from Balthas hits one of the goblins and Na-Dulak destroys one of them. The remaining goblins are destroyed in quick time but 3 twigblights appear from the cavern.

One of the twigblights hits Na-Dulak, doing little physical damage and fortunately its poison fails to take effect. Ibn Solaar rapidly destroys one of them. As Ashendarius moves into the cavern to combat the twigblights it becomes apparent that the briars tangled across the floor severely limit the ability to move freely.

An eldritch blast from Balthus removes a 2nd twigblight but four more appear in the distance. Warning the party to stand back while he prepares one of his mightiest blademagics Ibn Solaar moves far into the cavern to give himself space for his "blistering flourish". This dazzles 2 of the twigblights (not at all the mighty "solar explosion" that the arrogant swordsage had bragged of in warning his compatriots to stand clear). Na-Dulak mops up one of the dazzled blights, but he is hit by one of the others.

To add to the party's pain suddenly 4 more goblins appear from through the western door of the room, threatening Ashendarius and Balthas. They withdraw into the cavern and Na-Dulak charges the goblins. Balthas is hit by a twigblight, as is Na-Dulak by a goblin. Na-Dulak then kills a goblin and Ibn Solaar a twigblight. Na-Dulak eliminates another goblin and Ibn Solaar a goblin; suddenly the battle, which seconds ago looked dire, begins to turn in the party's favour. Rapidly the enemy is reduced to a twigblight and a goblin but the party fail miserably to make any inroads until a lucky "backfire" on the twigblight destroys it. Balthas hits the goblin with an eldritch blast but fails to bring it down but Ibn Solaar finally mops him up.

Realising that they are now too severely wounded and weakened to push their rash assault any further the party retire to the tunnel at the north of the 1st cavern they entered in order to rest and heal their wounds. They rebuild their traps either side of where they rest for 2 nights, completely healing themselves, and repreparing their daily abilities.

 

View
Session the Fourth
Goblin Apocalypse...

Enkidu Arjuna, having found his missing property announces that he is going to leave. The party persuade him to sell them his wand of cure light wounds to them for the princely sum of 60 gold pieces. This profligate expense doesn’t bother Ibn Solaar as he doesn’t have any cash anyway. The other three party members manage to round up sufficient funds to cover the cost. Before he departs Enkidu heals the wounds suffered by Ibn Solaar and Ashendarius. Na-Dulak, somewhat cruelly, stuffs the bound Calcryx into his backpack so that we can take him with us.

We then set about searching the trophy room. Calcryx has gathered everything of value into his nest; this includes :

 

  • Dragon shaped carved figurine in Jade
  • A silver goblet
  • 24 items of fine silverware
  • A scroll case covered with a dwarven inscription on the lid.

 

We collect these and verify that there is a scroll in the case. We then leave via the middle door on the north wall. We move into the corridor that moves East North East until we come to a door at the end of the corridor. We fail miserably in our attempts to open the door using brute force; annoying as we can hear muffled voices from beyond the door. Ibn Solaar attempts to draw the occupants out by yelling “FIRE, FIRE” in goblin. No one answers his call. Only at this point does Ashendarius decide that it would be a good thing to actually pick the lock. The door opens to reveal an octagonal room with a domed roof and a shaft in the centre of the floor. Sickly white vines climb the wall of the shaft. Against the North West wall sits a crudely carved throne with an iron chest acting as a foot stool. Next to the throne stands a sapling in a pot.

More importantly the room is filled with enemies.  

The goblin chief awaits us... 

A large hobgoblin stands by the throne and appears to be the leader. Also in the room are 3 other hobgoblins and 4 goblins. As we begin the combat we see the sapling pull its own roots out of its pot and move across the room. No ordinary tree this.

Na-Dulak bullrushes his way into the room and Balthus casts a swarm of spiders into the room, covering, but sadly not killing, the female goblin by the throne. She turns out to be a spell caster and her next move is to cast a spell that requires the party to make a will save. Only Na-Dulak makes his roll, the remainder immediately feel their ability to attack is reduced. A bane spell probably. Ashendarius  then makes a bold move, risking 4 attacks of opportunity to get into room. This turns out to be crazy rather than bold as he immediately takes 9 hit points of damage. He does manage to wound one of the hobgoblins though. The sapling moves in to attack Ibn Solaar.

Due to our abysmal initiative we are forced to face a number of attacks before Na-Dulak finally gets to cleave a large wound into the side of the hobgoblin leader. Using his skills in precision firing ranged weapons Balthas inflicts another serious wound on the hobgoblin leader. The spider swarm eliminates one of the goblins and again injures the female spell caster. Ashendarius uses the wand of cure light wounds on himself but fails to gain anything like its full benefit.

Na-Dulak takes further damage before Ibn-Solaar flails wildly away with another one of his weird, spectacular and ultimately useless manoeuvres. Na-Dulak misses the leader before an eldritch blast from Balthas takes out another goblin, yet another is eaten alive by Balthas' spider swarm before the spell caster retaliates. Ashendarius uses the wand to cure Na-Dulak but this leaves him vulnerable to attack. Ibn Solaar kills another goblin reducing the pressure on the rash elf. Na-Dulak then kills one of the hobgoblins and the battle begins to look more evenly poised. Another eldritch blast kills the spell caster but the swarm overruns not just the leader of the hobgoblins but Na-Dulak as well. It does little damage to either and Balthas dismisses it.

An additional goblin appears behind Balthas and seriously wounds him, whilst the leading goblin screams for reinforcements. The sapling, a Twigblight, hits Ibn Solar before Balthus destroys the goblin that had just attacked him. Ashendarius puts himself in greater danger in an attempt to kill the leader. He fails but Ibn Solaar succeeds in hitting him, finally slaying him. He then moves on to slay the last hobgoblin. Balthas kills another newly appeared goblin and is then cured of his wounds by Ashendarius before another hobgoblin appears and charges at him. Na Dulak moves to help Balthas and destroys the newly arrived hobgoblin. Balthas finally moves into the room and casts at the Twigblight, missing; as do Ibn Solaar and Ashendarius. Luckily Na Dulak comes to the rescue and destroys it with one mighty blow.

After severing the leaders head we search the bodies. This yields:

  • 39gp
  • 156sp
  • Cygnet Ring
  • Scale mail

The Iron chest catches Ashendarius with a poisoned trap that does constitution damage to him. Inside it we find

  • 231gp
  • 2 onyx gems
  • 2 phials of liquid
  • A parchment – scroll of knock

The party decides to move back to the kobold lair and hand back Calcryx to Ysdral and the kobolds. Ashendarius does a deal to gain possession of the key if we kill the leader of the goblins. When she agrees we triumphantly reveal the goblin leaders severed head. She hands over the key and tells us that Belak  controls the Twigblights.

The party returns to the secret room we have discovered in order to rest up and try to heal the wounded heroes. After 2 days the party leave the secret room to try and continue the quest.

The party return to the iron bound door and discover that the kobolds key does not fit it! The party are forced to return to the throne room where we check the remaining door and find it to be locked. The kobolds key does not fit this door either. Once Ashendarius has picked the lock we open the door to reveal a large room containing a number of goblin types. It appears the parties plan for the kobolds to clear them up for us has failed. 

The goblins have not been cleared- damn!

Ibn Solaar rapidly shuts the door and Ashendarius steps up and locks it. He also locks the other entry to the throne room. The party decide to descend into the hole in the floor by climbing down the thick vines that line its walls. We climb down 80 feet without mishap and emerge into the The Grove. Fortunately the vines grow from the floor of the cave so that we can descend all the way. The party emerge into a large cavern approximately 60’ square with a door in the north east corner, a door in the south east corner and a passage way in the north wall.

The Twilight Grove entrance 

In the cavern are 2 skeletons and 2 twigblights.Ibn Solaar moves to the attack, hitting 1 of the twigblights and destroying it. Ashendarius is hit by the remaining twigblight and is also affected by its poison. Meanwhile Na-Dulak is hit by both of the skeletons, taking minimal damage. Ibn Solaar  then  leaps to attack the remaining twigblight, his sworn shining like the sun and destroys the creature with one blow. Na-Dulak destroys one skeleton whilst Balthas destroys the other with an eldritch blast. There is no time to savour victory though as a large bugbear and 2 dire rats emerge from the tunnel in the north wall. The bugbear charges Ibn Solaar doing him serious damage who retaliates but sadly misses. Balthas launches an eldritch blast at the bugbear, doing maximum damage. The bugbear falls with a groan and the party rests to catch its second wind.

 

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Session the Third
Enter the Warmage....

Ibn Solaar and Na Dulak are healed by the skills of Ashendarius. Although given that the wounds were from the caltrops a blacksmith would have done just as well. Just as Ashendarius completes the healing process the door in south wall bursts open and a man runs into the room. He is bald, red eyed and manacled at the wrists – where the rest of the stag party are we do not know. He turns and slams the door shut,  shouting that he is Enkidu Arjuna and is being chased by goblins, having broken out of their prison.

He asks that someone removes his manacles and whilst Balthus wants to know why we should; Ashendarius steps up and, after a few attempts, succeeds in removing them. “if this guy beats him to a pulp it will serve him right” thinks Balthus. Enkidu explains that he was a traveller, part of a band attacked by goblins and taken prisoner. When we explain why we are here Enkidu is able to tell us that he has heard of the missing party we are searching for and that they were alive until the previous day. Or so the prisoner he was held with has told him. He has his backpack but no armour or weapon. He has also lost an item of equipment from his backpack – we know not what.

After questioning by Balthus he reveals he is a cleric, “war mage” to be precise. He was on a purchasing mission to buy a rare book for his monastery. It is this book that has gone missing. Other information that he has gleaned during his day in jail are that the magic apple tree is in the Enchanted or “Twilight” Garden. It also appears that Belak is a druid who tends the Twilight Garden.

Searching the room and bodies reveals:

  • 33 silver pieces
  • 2 short swords
  • 3 javelins

We hear the lock in the door click shut and after a brief discussion decide that we must move that way. Meepo is sent back to his Kobold chums. Ashendarius unlocks the door and we open it. The open space reveals an antechamber with an opening in the south west wall leading into a far larger chamber. Ashendarius attempts to move silently into the antechamber and peer into the main room. When he gets there he is able to see that there are 2 goblins in the room and, weirdly, as set of 4 badly made dummies that resemble humans and elves. These have been propped against the south wall.

Ashendarius is surprised, not to say shocked, to find the business end of a Morningstar whizzing round the end of the wall towards his face. Fortunately for him it misses him by a long distance. Balthus rushes into the room and launches a badly aimed eldritch blast at one of the goblins.

Goblins bring it ON! 

Ashendarius moves into the main chamber and fires his crossbow at the 2nd goblin. He misses. Ibn Solaar rushes into the room and invokes his burning blade and shadow blade techniques to attack the 1st goblin. The results are spectacular as he cleaves the goblin in 2. the bad new is the comes under attack from 3 of the other 4 goblins that we can now see in the north end of the room, hiding behind another crenellated wall. He is hit by just 1, lucky for him.   Na-Dulak finally comes to the party attacking the 2nd goblin at the south end of the room. He slaughters it with a single blow. Ibn Solaar hears one of the goblins at the far end of the room shout for help.

Balthus summons a swarm of rats into the space behind the wall where it goes to work on the 4 goblins stationed there. 2 of the goblins are attacked and 1 is nauseated, rendering it helpless. Ibn Solaar drops his sword and launches his trident over the wall, missing all the goblins. Not possessing any ranged weapons Na-Dulak snatches up a fallen javelin and throws it back at the goblins, hitting one of them. The swarm kill one of the goblins and wound another, also nauseating him. Magic missiles from Enkidu take out one of the remaining 2 active goblins. The swarm attack the last active goblin and he too is nauseated rendering him unable to attack us. Enkidu begins the process of healing Ibn Solaar using a charge from his wand of cure light wounds. The swarm continue to messily eat their way through the goblins and soon only one remains. For some reason Ashendarius decides that now would be the time to try and open the door on the south west wall of the room. Fortunately he fails! The swarm finally completes their clean up job and the last goblin in the room falls.

 Next round Ashendarius succeeds in unlocking the door in the south west wall. Judging from the failure of the goblins to escape the swarm the door in the north wall and in the north west wall are both also locked. Enkidu completes the healing of Na-Dulak, who then tries to open the door. Which, despite it being unlocked, he proves unable to do. Searching the room reveals a lot of broken javelins all over the floor around the “target dummies”. The goblin bodies on our side of the wall yield:

  • 10 silver pieces.

Ibn Solaar jumps over the wall to retrieve his trident; sadly for him he didn’t bother to check the floor. Luckily he manages to avoid the caltrops as he lands. He then spends a bit of time to sweep the caltrops into one corner which will enable us to search the room. This yields:

  • 17 silver pieces.

Marble columns of this room are carved with
During this quiet period Ashendarius asks Enkidu whether he can read the scroll we found earlier. It turns out that he can and uses a read magic spell and announces that what we have is a spell of lesser restoration. He can also identify that the unknown potion was also one of lesser restoration.

Enkidu tries to call out to his erstwhile fellow inmates who he believes should be on the other side of the door in the south west wall. There is no response so we decide to try and force the door open. Na-Dulak exerts his full strength and manages to force the door open against its hinges. Inside we see the cell that Enkidu was imprisoned in. In the room we see a table against the north wall, in the north west corner is a cage containing Enkidu’s fellow prisoner – Erky Timbers; a gnome. Against the south wall we can see 3 kobolds that have been manacled to the wall.  A goblin is hiding behind Erky’s cage and is holding a sword his throat. He threatens Erky unless we leave but Ashendarius counters with a “surrender or die” option; backed up by the might of Na-Dulak and Ibn Solaar who also enter the room.

Freeeee Eeeenky Timbers! 

A 2nd goblin appears, hiding behind the Kobolds, Na-Dulak ignores him and strikes down Erky’s persecutor. Ashendarius looses his crossbow at the 2nd goblin, missing, at usual. Enkidu strikes at him with his acid splash spell and kills him instantly. That concludes that combat. Erky wants to be released but Ashendarius will not let him from the cage unless he reveals all knows about Calcryx and / or the Twilight Grove before he releases him from the cage.

 He knows nothing about where Calcryx might be held but is able to reveal that Belak is an evil druid who tends the Gulthias tree. He also says that Belak wanted the 2 human’s that we search for and that the goblin’s delivered them up to him. We also hear about “the outcast”, who turns out to be Belak . We learn nothing from the Kobolds. Na-Dulak intimidates one of the Kobolds into guiding Erky out of the dungeon. We leave the other 2 kobolds manacled to the wall.

We approach the north west door. Ashendarius attempts to unlock the door and open it. This reveals a small (20ft x 20ft) room which is apparently a store room. There is another door in the west wall.  Ashendarius moves through the room to the opposite door, checking for traps as he goes. The store room is stacked up with supplies including several barrels of elf pudding and 5 pints of oil. Ashendarius unlocks the western door steps away to allow Na-Dulak to open it.

The room beyond is lit by several guttering wall sconces. The  marble columns supporting the roof are carved with entwining dragons. The room itself is 60ft by 20ft and has 10 supporting columns. There is a door on the far south wall, one on the west wall and 3 on the north wall. We all enter the room and then ………

Ibn Solaar is attacked by a goblin hiding behind one of the pillars. Unfortunately it hurts him badly. Na-Dulak is attacked by a 2nd goblin, no damage fortunately. Enkidu casts acid splash at the goblin who hit Ibn Solaar but misses. Na-Dulak strikes at the 2nd goblin and destroys it. Balthus summons a rat swarm half way down the room. Ashendarius prepares his crossbow and Ibn Solaar seeing the swarm appear stays well out of the way and prepares short bow for action. Another goblin appears and attacks Ibn Solaar, injuring him and leaving him with just 1 hit point. Enkidu performs his party piece, sacred boost, and any further healing for the next round is maximised. Na-Dulak moves across the room and attempts to rescue Ibn Solaar from his attacker. He splits him in two giving Ibn Solaar a breathing space. The remaining goblin injures Balthus but dies as a result of Na-Dulak’s aura.Enkidu heals Balthus and Ibn Solaar.  Searching the goblins we raise:

  • 12 silver pieces

Listening at all 5 doors we hear. Easternmost north door – some shuffling. Other 2 north doors – nothing. South door – nothing. West door – the burble of many goblin voices. We try the eastern most of the  north doors. It is locked and after several minutes, that seemed like hours, Ashendarius manages to pick the lock. Opening the door reveals what appears to be a “trophy room”. The walls are covered with various mounted heads of various different animals, including cows, sheep and Kobolds.  There is another door on the east wall – it appears to be closed. Na-Dulak moves into the room, no detecting traps, no nothing. Being a fool Ibn Solaar follows him. When they search further they spot a white dragon wyrmling.

 Calcryx goes down!

We assume this to be Calcryx. Ibn Solaar is hit by a blast of Calcryx’s cold breathe weapon. Balthus misses the wormling with an eldritch blast. The battle continues….until…with a final blow from Na-Dulak we knock the wormling unconscious. We rapidly tie up Calcryx and search the room. We find….

  • Enkidu’s chain mail armour
  • Enkidu’s “lost” book. A Librum of Flesh

 

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Session the Second
Never trust a smiling kobold...

We open the door and discover 4 skeletons lying on the floor. Na-Dulak volunteers to go first and check the room out; this may have been a mistake on his part as unusually for skeletons 3 of them start to move and a worrying red glow appears deep in their eye sockets. Combat ensues as the three animate skeletons stand up and begin to attack. One of them manages to move past Na-Dulak and out of the chamber.

Ashendarius attempts to turn these undead, unfortunately his god, Olidammara,  is not listening to him and he fails utterly. A brave try though. Ibn-Solaar launches his attack using his Sapphire Nightmare Blade ability and strikes a meaty blow against one of the skeletons. Unfortunately he discovers that an edged weapon is not so effective against skeletons and his bastard sword appears to do less damage than expected. Balthus launches his eldritch blast at the one skeleton that has left the room and it strikes home to good effect. Finally Na-Dulak gets to edge out of the secret chamber and he also launches an attack against the "free" skeleton. Finally it crumples to the floor; properly dead. Ibn-Solaar attacks a 2nd skeleton using a combination of his Burning and Shadow Blade techniques; most unusually they work and he causes great damage. Balthus' eldritch blast is again effective; against the 3rd of the walking dead. Na-Dulak obliterates one of the skeletons with an impressive attack, leaving just one left standing. Balthus destroys the last of the undead with yet another eldritch blast.

Ashendarius searches the room and the skeletons, it becomes apparent that 4th skeleton belonged to a cleric who was killed by the 3 undead. Balthus detects magic on the crossbow bolts, glass phial, holy symbol and scroll case. The haul amounts to :

 

  • 12sp
  • 27gp
  • 3 masterwork crossbow bolts – magic (faint, transmutation)
  • holy symbol
  • 1 potion in a glass phial – magic (faint, aura unknown)
  • 1 scroll case with a rune – magic (faint, aura unknown)

 

Ashendarius checks the scroll case for magical traps; not detecting any he carefully opens the case to reveal a vellum scroll. Balthus(2) and Ashendarius(1) split the crossbow bolts between them. Na-Dulak takes the potion and Ashendarius takes the scroll. Ibn-Solaar takes the cash.

We move to one of the normal doors, carefully choosing the one which does not have the sound of voices coming from behind it. The door is not trapped but it is locked – no obstacle to one such as Ashendarius who rapidly picks the ageing lock. He then moves away leaving the way clear for Na-Dulak to open the door revealing a 20' wide hall with a stone doorway on the western wall. The door has a rearing dragon engraved on it with a lock visible in the dragon's open mouth.

We move to the 2nd door and Na-Dulak is able to hear Kobolds speaking draconic on the other side. We decide, probably rashly, that the best thing would be to get through them quickly, before they have the chance to prepare. Na-Dulak hurls the door open, revealing a 10' wide corridor with doors on the north, west and south walls. More importantly it also reveals Kobolds – 5 of them to be precise; 2 armed with spears and 3 with crossbows.

Na-Dulak is unfortunately injured in the first round of combat.  Ibn-Solaar steps forward to the attack, trips over his own aura and almost drops his sword. Reverting to his normal standards then! Na-Dulak goes into a rage and hurls himself at the Kobolds, missing completely. Oh well!

Ashendarius then heals Na-Dulak and Balthus summons a swarm of spiders that kill of the Kobolds immediately and lurk, waiting to eat the remainder.  The remaining Kobolds attack but prove as ineffective as the party and no damage is done. Ibn-Solaar leaps to the attack with his shadow blade technique, striking home to  deadly effect. Na-Dulak then kills another, sadly leaving us as the nearest living creatures to the deadly swarm.  The remaining Kobolds having flown Na-Dulak moves to the end of the corridor and opens the door. He is still hoping that the swarm do not follow him.

Unfortunately Ibn-Solaar is caught by the swarm and takes 4 HP in their final act.

After healing Ibn-Solaar we move check out the room we have discovered. The walls are covered by glyphs and writings in orange and green, there is a pit in the centre of the room, a large, breached cage on the south wall and bench sat in front of that. The cage is empty. A bedroll lies on the floor in front of the bench and there is a whimpering sound coming from the bedroll.

This turns out to be a lone Kobold who has been abandoned. It turns out that he is called MePo and he agrees to "take us to his leader", Yusdrayl,  as Na-Dulak phrased his request. He leads off wearing a rope around his neck as a leash. He wasn't happy with this arrangement but Na-Dulak was really quite insistent. He leads us through the door in the North West corner of the room which leads into a 20' x 20' room containing 3 more Kobolds. They enquire as to why we need to see Yusdrayl. When Nar-Dulak explains that we have come to "free the dragon" they want to know why we have come to free Calcryx. This is the Kobolds clan dragon which was "stolen" by goblins. Having been granted permission to lead to Yusdrayl, Mepo sets out down the corridor in the west wall.

We follow it to its end and enter a large, pillared, chamber. In here there are also 6 Kobolds plus Mepo plus Yusdrayl – who is a girlie – plus what appear to be 2 larger Kobolds (see below)

This turns out to be a throne room. All the pillars are carved with dragons. The throne is constructed from bits of fallen masonry stacked against an old altar. On this altar is a carving of a rearing dragon with a metal key held in its mouth. Yusdral claims that only she knows what the key is for. I'm betting its for the stone door with the dragon carved on it.

Ashendarius attempts to explain that we are searching for the "magic apple tree", yup it sounds bloody stupid, which was also stolen by the goblins. Our offer is to get back Calcryx, which turns out to be a white dragon wormling,  in return for the guidance of the Kobolds in finding the apple tree.

The deal is done and the Kobolds will guide us to the goblin nest. The goblins are supplied with magic apples by Belak, a human, which is a bit odd.

Mepo leads us off , back through the cage room, out through the north east doorway, and into a long corridor that takes us back almost to the point we started at. We pass through another small room, heading north, then through another which contains a fountain in the shape of a diving dragon in the north east corner. Judging by the tracks on the floor we are following the same route as the lost adventurers did, before they added the "lost" to "adventurer" part of their job descriptions.

We find ourselves standing in front of a door through which Meepo can smell goblins. He won't lead the way through it but Na-Dulak opens it, triggering the tolling of a bell – but for whom? This leads into a 10' x 20' corridor which is barricaded at the end by a 3' high crenellated wall. The floor of the corridor is entirely covered in caltrops.

We are not surprised to find that there are goblins manning the barricade. Ibn-Solaar, ignoring the danger from the caltrops, leaps into action and heads for the barricade. His plan, to get to the wall and then jump it. This plan turns out to be flawed. It's the "ignoring the caltrops" bit that was the flaw. He is only able to make it to the wall where he is forced to attack the goblin over the top of the wall.

Balthus is more wary and enters the corridor carefully before firing off and Eldritch blast. Which turns out as to be as much use as a chocolate fireguard against a red dragon! Two goblins attack Ibn-Solaar one causing 3 hp of damage with a javelin. Ibn-Solaar bravely hurdles the wall to take on the 3 goblins that we can see. His first blow destroys one of the goblins. Na-Dulak follows him over the wall but does not have time to strike at the goblins. Balthus' eldritch blast takes care of another goblin leaving just one remaining. A sneak attack from Ashendarius and the last goblin falls.

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Session The First
The Adventure begins ....

Ibn Solaar watched the back of the half-orc as the party stumbled through the wild undergrowth. They had been walking for half a day. Soon the guides, said, soon they would be at the entrance to the sunken fortress they sought. Ibn Solaar chafed behind the lumbering Dragon Shaman. He longed to range ahead of the party and leave behind the crumping feet of his clumsier colleagues.

"Aiya! These motherless dogs will bring every goblin within three leagues", he muttered to himself. None of the others understood his native speech.

The half-orc stopped abruptly, Ibn Solaar of course stopped immediately and silently, reflexes like a phase spider. Behind him however, Balthas, the warlock, was not so fast, stepping into the back of the sword sage. Ibn Solaar glared at the warlock. Oblivious, Balthas offered no apology but stepped back.

"Are we here?" Ashendarius enquired, his friendly grin seeming to split his face from ear to pointed ear, as he peered around the warlock.

 "Wait here, Ibn Solaar shall determine whether it is safe" the sword sage answered, sidestepping Na-Dulak to join the guides.  Balthas and the elf shared a glance, and a thought; if their arrogant new companion continues to speak of himself in the third person, they may have to kill him themselves.

The group had arrived at a precipitous ravine. The area where they had stopped showed sign of traffic – there were several old burned camp fires.  A bridge had once crossed the ravine but it had long since fallen. Na-Dulak investigated the tracks and camp fires.

"Goblins" he concluded, "but not so recently".

"There is a rope tied off here" declared Balthas "The other party must have used it to descend the ravine"

Na Dulak concurred. "Indeed, goblins are good climbers, they would not need the rope, it must have been the humans".

"We should tie ourselves off as we go down", suggested Balthas, "perhaps our muscled friend here can lower us to save the risk of an untimely fall?" he indicated the Dragon Shaman.

Ibn Solaar nodded. "Ibn Solaar does not need to be lowered, however I agree your plan may be prudent for the unskilled. He shall descend first of course, for he is by far the most superior swordarm among us."

Again Balthas and Ashendius shared a look, this time Na Dulak joined them.

Rejecting the offer to be lowered completely the swordsage braced himself against the cliff wall and abseiled down. Fifty feet below the fallen bridge, the rope led to a narrow ledge of broken stone. Off to one side, Ibn Solaar noticed a path meandering further down the sheer cliff into the darkness. Without a torch however he could see no further. He untied himself and called up to the others to let the next down. Na-Dulak pulled the rope up quickly and Balthas prepared to descend. Just as he stepped off the ledge and began to be lowered by the brawny half-orc, Balthas heard a cry from below.

No sooner had Ibn Solaar stepped out to look over the ledge than a fat oversized dire rat left its hole where it was lurking and made straight for him, its razor teeth thick with diseased drool. Ibn Solaar summoned to his mind the scorching iron taste of the desert heat and began his maneuver. This was what he had trained for the years in the monastery, now at last he could unleash the full force of his blademagic, the advice of his tutor and caution thrown to the wind. Now he let his pride and skill flow into the blade.

Pride however turned to dismay as his foot twisted in a hidden crevice; the blow swang wide of his mark ; the desert sun channeled through his blade dissipating uselessly.  The rat was unerring in its own attack however. As it bit into Ibn Solaar's leg, he felt the teeth sink to the bone. Worse, a second dire rat joined it.  He adopted a stance to maximise the shadow around him but, undeterred, the rats flanked him, forcing him to divide his defense less effectively.  Bite after bite sank home.

His second attack, summoning the power of the sun as it flashes across the desert horizon at dawn, was also foiled, this time his own fault as he mistimed his strike.  "Aiya! Gods curse my luck!" He cried in frustration, overwhelmed with doubt as blow after blow that followed went wild or skittered off their thick coats ineffectually.

At the cliff top Na-Dulak had his hands full as he lowered the warlock down carefully. Resisting the urge to drop the tainted one and take out the enemy he grunted as the rope played out hand over hand.

Ashendarius moved quickly to the edge of the cliff but an overhang was throwing its shadow over the combat below. He couldn't pick out a target for his bow. He tied off a rope and prepared to descend.

Meanwhile dangling just underneath the overhang Balthas the dark mage bore down upon the foe foot by foot. Blast after eldritch blast shot from his fingers to find its screeching mark as he filled with the destructive joy inherent in his ability. Below him the swordsage seemed to be losing it as anger and crumbling pride crushed him. "It's down to me to save his arrogant foreign hide", thought Balthas with grim satisfaction. He touched down on the ledge and fought off yet another rat joining its brethren.

Na-Dulak and Ashendarius began descending on two ropes from above. As the fire aura of the shaman reached the fighting duo below, the combat finally turned. The rats were engulfed in small gouts of flame as each bite hit home. By the time the climbers reached the ledge the fight was all but over. Na- Dulak was bitten before the last rat fell, but otherwise the group survived intact. 

Balthas was sheened in sweat and grinning. Covered in dozens of bites and scratches, Ibn Solaar was slick with blood and shaking with barely constrained fury.

"This is a Gods cursed place," he muttered, as Ashendarius saw to their wounds using a peculiarly gnarled wooden wand.

A brief search of the ledge revealed signs of passage, though it was unclear who had passed.  They also discovered some notes apparently dropped by Sir Braford, the missing paladin. It contained the following covering letter.

"Sir Braford,
I have secured a copy of the document that you requested. There are no accompanying research papers, I'm afraid to say, so the meaning remains unclear."

Although the signature at the bottom of the letter was illegible, the letter was clearly sent from someone at a church called St. Mara's, although there were no further details of the address. Accompanying the letter is another piece of paper on was the following text

"Behind an ancient and revered power whose undulating passage yet points heavenward will stand one who will have conflicting evil in his heart. For whilst that unique evil will protect the world from his intent it will also spread itself into the world and must therefore be defeated, but overcoming it will have great consequence, the begetting of a greater evil, his true evil, the defeat of which will require powerful heroes."

 

Puzzled but no less determined, the party passed into the gloom of the deeply shrouded ravine. The path finally led down to the top of crenellated battlement, sunken so far into the cliffside that its very top was now the base of the ravine. Although ruined, a considerable portion of the ancient citadel remained intact; its stone roofs, now covered in rubble, forming an uneven landscape of hillocks, boulders and plunging sinkholes.

 The Sunless Citadel

Atop the battlement a door gave into one of two towers that still projected above the rubble field – like broken fangs. Ashendarius stepped up to check the door and only just managed to sidestep the trapdoor in front of it, as the ground beneath his feet gave way to a pit. Freed from apparent incarceration, another of the vicious rats emerged. This time Ibn Solaar moved quickly. Without hesitation he unleashed the full power of the desert sun through his blade, incinerating the creature with a single perfectly executed swing. It hadn't had time even to squeak.

"Behold the power of the Sublime Way" he cried.

"Behold the miracle of you at last hitting something", the warlock smirked. Na-Dulak and the elf chuckled.

Inside the tower lay the body of a goblin, pinned against the far wall by a single spear. The tip of the spear was buried into the ruined masonry – the strength of the warrior who had killed it was clearly prodigious. When they pulled out the spear to search the corpse it revealed a word written on the wall behind the body – a single word written in draconic script – "Ashardalon"!

"I guess the missing humans came this way", the half -orc remarked, surprising his companions with his perspicacity.

Moving to explore the room further, Ashendarius immediately noticed the outline of a hidden door. Alerted by the elf's superior eyesight, the party braced themselves for fresh fighting.

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Sunless Citadel
This is the tale told by Rhunad

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Deep in the heart of Nightfang Spire the demon Rhunad begs for his freedom, by telling the tale of how his jailor came to return to the lost temple of Ashardalon known as Nightfang Spire.

This is the tale he tells….

...but is it the truth, or the deception of a Lord of the Abyss?

 

Cast:

  • Ibn Solaar: arrogant sword mystic who clearly trusts too much in his own power.
  • Na-Dulak: half orc dragon shaman, last of the Na-Priests
  • Balthas: warlock of dubious intent and heritage
  • Ashendarius: untrustworthy priest of the Laughing Rogue

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