“Blizzard dragon!” Malbert roared, “Jade and I will take of that. Najar, Antoinette take care of the dead ones!”
They had been walking through a vast ice canyon when a roar had interrupted their musings of how the hell a place like this could fit into a dungeon. With the dead also bursting from the ground and their rogue friend that suffering from a episode of frost bite the heroes they began their assault.
The undead were dispatched easily followed by an wind elemental made of air and rock. The undead were struck down with radiant bolts of energy.
Without resting they pressed on through the next room once they had rested. They were surrounded in a walled city with burning buildings.
“So…” Jade looked to her companions, “You’re human?”
“Speak for yourself!” Malbert grumbled.
“If I didn’t know better,” Najar interjected, “I would say we are playing the part of the outsiders against the elves of Briarthorn.”
“Foulspawn!” A grand armored warrior roared waving his sword, “Briarthorn will not fall today!”
They clashed! The elven warriors charged head first into their “enemies” spells flew and steel met with steel. Each elf warrior was cut down until only the captain was left standing.
“With my mortal body I fight to the end for Briarthorn!” He swung his sword against Malbert only to be blocked by a shield and cut down by raining steel.
The burning city disappeared and on a small platform appeared the captain still in fully battle regalia.
“Well done,” The captain shrugged, “You have defeated me in battle. I supposed I should introduce myself. I am Captain Kalon Dryearlylth and what you participated in was the last battle of Briarthorn before it became a smoldering ruin.”
“What can we do to lift you of this curse you all seem be be suffering?” Najar asked.
“Heh unlike the others I didn’t choose to stay here,” The captain scoffed, “But until Briarthorn is returned to its former glory I cannot leave not until my people get their heads out of their asses and stop bickering with the non-fey. It’s all politics now. Now let’s get you folks equipped so you can fight this new evil I heard about from these Vecna cultists who keep on bugging me!”
“Before we leave,” Antoinette spoke up, “What should we know about the cleric quarter?”
“Janin is weird,” The elf captain informed them, “His quarter I hear is different from everyone’s. He has these questions or tasks you’ll probably have to pass more mental stuff than physical.”
The cleric quarter was made from marble with golden inlays. Words of the end of the war were written on the walls. Stephen mentioned that the cure was in the inner sanctum of this place. Noe one survived here though.
To enter the cleric dungeon there was a portal of sea green energy. With his knowledge of the arcane Najar knew the portal required that each person who wished to enter must reveal his or her darkest secret. The creator of the portal would know said secret. So they whispered to the portal their secrets and one by one they fell through the floor, landing onto a polished white marble floor. For a catacomb this area was very well lit but there were no torches in sight. It dawned on them that nothing in these halls had seemed to decay. The other parts of the dungeon had a couple rocks falling, chips in the walls, or mold, but these halls were pristine. As Antoinette, Najar, Jade walked through these halls there was a presence, one could only described as angelic.
There was another set of double door they entered, which led to an enormous space. The structure they had set foot upon looked like it was placed in a blue sky floating among clouds. A wide staircase led up between two white pillars which ends could not be seen through the clouds. Statues of Avatars of the gods were placed on the ground floor, the statue of Ioun was the most grand depicted.
At the top of the stairs was an elven man dressed in chain mail with staff on his tabard. On his back was a gnarled quarterstaff. A thick brown leather bound tome rested in his hands. Slowly his closed the book and started his way down the steps.
“I am Janin Orlerith, founder of Briarthorn. I know you seek the cure to the plague which greatly diminished my people’s numbers. I also know that you seek to destroy a follower of Vecna. You shall receive both the cure and help on your noble quest if you are deemed worthy.” The cleric waved his right hand and several doors appear, “Each one of you must answer a few questions or complete a task. Do not try to lie…SHE will know if you do. we seek only truth.”
After stepping through the door there was a flash of white light that temporarily blinded Malbert. He found himself in combat with a female orc warrior. He realized he was part of a patrol when they discovered a band of them had crossed over the Ironfast border. Upon seeing them his unit attacked.
As he was about to strike the final blow an orc child stepped in front of her. He’s trembling, but ready to defend as he clutches a broken spear.
“Kill them!” His superior roared as he took on his own orc.
Malbert quickly knocked them unconscious. When his superior was finished fighting he ordered the other members of the patrol to do away with the dwarf fighter for disobeying.
Antoinette appeared in a cozy cottage with a little girl stroking a white fluffy cat by the fireplace. There was something about the girl that seemed familiar. She slowly turned sensing someone else in the room besides herself.
“You…” She yelled, “you left us with her…how could you leave us?! Why didn’t you do anything?!”
“What are you talking about?” Antoinette asked trying to calm the little girl down.
“You left us in Hope…We are no more…what reasons did you leave…if you knew what was going to happen to us would you have stayed…I thought followers of Avandra were supposed to help free people," The little said.
“We couldn’t sacrifice those people…We couldn’t have Mittens competely destory those souls,” The gnome cleric tried to explain.
“We are all dead because you wouldn’t stay!”
Najar’s eyes glazed upwards a blue dragon grand in stature loomed over him with a look of what could only be described as bemusement.
“I am Aasterinian of exarch Avandra,” The blue dragon said, “Today I give you a choice. Whatever you choose has the greater chance of coming true.”
With a wave on her talon two stand still images appeared. One image was of fifty people of varying humanoid races, they all looked beaten, worn out, and a few look like they were on the verge of death. The other image was of a young woman, who he immediately recognized; she was in a similar state if not worse than the group. Her body shows years of abuse and some of her injuries looked very fresh.
“In the south of Robur there is a harsh tyrant who has enslaved these fifty individuals to work in a mineral mine. The conditions are brutal and the death rate is high. However in this one is someone you know I believe, a certain avenger of Avandra tortured by Sultaness Barafuli. So your choices freedom for the slaves from their master or a loved one…Which would Avandra wish you choose and could you live with such a choice knowing what might happen.”
Najar overcome with emotion took a moment before answering, “Avandra would want me to free the slaves. I follow her will and it is her teachings that have brought me on this path today. I choose the many.”
The air was filled with smoke from a large bonfire that had been burning up the remains of what looks to be balhannoths. A young soldier walked up to Jade.
“Ma’am we have located the outbreak of this plague,” The human soldier pointed to a village, “What are your orders?”
“Please we haven’t done anything wrong!” Some of the women behind the wooden walls cried.
“As you know Commander this disease is easily transmittable and cannot be cured. We cannot tell who is infected except when they turn into balhannoths,” An elderly elven wizard informed her, “The afflicted humans will feel compelled to travel and spread the disease.”
“Commander!” Another soldier ran up to the deva, “The villagers are trying to escape. We have sorcerers and wizards ready with unless fire upon them at your command. What are your orders?”
“Burn it all down,” Jade ordered immediately.
“There were not any right or wrong answers. All I cared about was that you answered questions or completed tasks the way you would normally. This is just a reminder thought I do not think the likes of you need to know that there are always two sides to a coin,” The cleric walked over, “As promised the cure to the plague is yours and my assistance.”
The cleric explained that this cure to the plague was not complete. It was enough to cure the imminent threats to the elves but the long-term effects were never reversed. This is why the elves compared to ones of the past were more fragile and their left expectancy dropped from 1000 to 400 years of age. They would have to find people to work on the cure to make it more potent.
With their task done they headed back to Sanda village to talk to Abigail.
When the adventurers returned Abigail was at the counter of the scroll shop eager to hear what they had found.
“This is oh so interesting, but I have someone here that was even more eager to hear from you. I was afraid that all of you had perished after you didn’t come back in two months.”
They noticed that Abigail bowed in respect as Lek walks through the door.
“I can explain that,” Lek said, “It wouldn’t be too farfetched theory that the time in the dungeon and the outside world do not coincide. It is not strange for places of great magical power to act this way. Abigail is part of an order called Melora’s Talons. When I said I had contacts I meant it. With Ixen and Abigail help I was able to track you down. Just wanted to check how you were faring.”
They explained what they found out so far about Osay and the cleric of Melora merely nodded then turned her attention to the child. At which the heroes explained that Stephen was/is part of Osay’s Vecna cult and that he was a warlock.
Lek summoned the devil devil that had the pact with Stephen freeing his soul.
Now on to Sein Lenn to find Ina and the name of the boat Osay had left on many years ago.