Pondera

Yes...Orphans...Underwater...

Surprisingly though she had traveled many times before on boat, it was the combination of seasickness and food poisoning from a sailor’s fish that had made the gnome cleric ill and unfit for strenuous activity. Arktor also had fallen ill to the movements of the boat and the scaly dinner.

One day while enjoying the sun and the sea on the deck the unshakable (yeah right) Captain Arab burst forth from his cabin, his pet hissing cockroach barely clinging to his shoulder.

“Me grandpa’s watch chain! WHICH ONE OF YE SCURVY DOGS STOLE IT!”

The ship was on high alert. Sailors were going to and fro searching for the watch chain when Najar out of the corner of his eye noticed a person he hadn’t seen before. The new guy turned out to be a half-elf rogue who had stolen the chain, but thinking quickly he was about to pretend he found in hidden in the corner of the ship not to mention he also fooled Malbert. Najar recognized his skills and offered him a spot on the team. Varis was his name, accepted for the retirement was a boring thing.

After journeying many days on the high seas, through bracken waves the adventurers arrived at Pt. Sutchensutch on Kharl.

They asked the local sailors about the shipwreck on the mural, the sailor knew of the story. Many years ago a ship called the Wayward’s Reins was struck by a giant squid named Ted. (The squid was named by the survivor of the wreck). The squid has long been dead, but the shipwreck was still there. The sailor said if they’re going to check out the wreckage beware of the flesheating sharks and sahuagin. They slaughter and devour anything they can catch, raiding coastal settlements in the dead of night. Potions of water breathing were sold by local alchemist. If they wanted to get to the wreckage with enough gold coin they could probably hire a fishing boat to take them out there. The wreckage was about fifty miles southwest from whence it first came, from Wayward.


First thing first was that our heroes had to purchase potions of water-breathing, but Najar also wanted to obtain a scroll of water-breathing for his ritual book. At the scribe’s shop Varis using his superb skills told the keeper that they needed the scroll, because they were going to take some orphans to an orphanage and they were using an underwater route. The shopkeeper was hesitant in believing him until Donna pulled the puppy dog eyes on her. They were given the scroll for much less than market price.

Then it was off to the alchemist for those potions. The keeper of this store was a burly old man with sahuagin heads all over the shop. Najar told to old man they were going to hunt these creatures for the sealord and he immediately sold them potions at a much lower price.


They were able to find a boat that would take them to the shipwreck. The ship was a whaling vessel that hunted minke whales. The adventurers would pay for the voyage, but since they were headed down to the shipwreck the sailors mentioned if they found and killed a shark for them that would cover their expenses since they are considered a delicacy among nobles.

The shipwreck was infested with sahuagins and sharks. Malbert’s blood flowed freely as the sharks and sahuagins struck him again and again in order to draw their fire away from his friends. The enemies were eventually defeated…but alas there was no treasure clue nor a golden ivy key to be found!


After some thought and remembering that the treasure clues may not be as straight forward as they seem they decided to go to Wayward on Lanx since that’s where the ship first came from. They were able to use the boat they were on before and headed to Wayward. There was a large graveyard near the town which happened to have a grave to Ethil Moica. In it was a tattered flag and a rusty dagger with the initials D.F.


After that they went to Eagle-Eye’s commune to drop off Donna and they found about local happenings in Robur. Eagle-Eye was especially amused when Varis started to ask about potential thief targets which she nonchalantly provided.

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So many things happening...arrrrr!!!

Najar volunteered to care for the horses for a while since Arktor got stuck with that duty too often. Travelers coming from the south had reported the weather has been surprisingly good. There hadn’t been many snow showers or ice storms so the roads weren’t too bad.


The cliff roads were quiet with the occasional light wind that bit the skin of the adventurers every so often. Najar and Antionette turned their heads. A rock trickled from the rock walls above soon massive boulders fell, block the road from which they came from.

“For the Dragonmauls!!!” Dwarves in chain-mail and mauls screamed from above.

Like their counter parts from the Musty Yak they were easily dispatched without mercy. On the mafia members they found sketches of themselves and angry words from their leader Valon. Just your another average day in the life of an adventurer.


Teetum was lightly coated by a layer of fluffy white snow. Dwarves were moving about completing their errands. After traveling for a couple more miles through the town to the mouth of the small river they saw Ixen’s red painted brewery. Darvar, the dwarf that met them at the door the first time they came once again, was there to greet them.

“Ah it be ye again,” He bowed slightly, “How can I be of service?”

“Where is Ixen?” Harbinger growled, he was clutching his fist so hard his knuckles were turning white.

Darvar furrowed his brow, “He is a little tipsy at the moment just to warn ye.”

“Take me to him…”

Ixen was more than a little tipsy. He commented about Zeetryder’s changed personality and about the last question that was written in the book.

When Harbinger started questioning Ixen he sobered up immediately and acted very arrogant. He told him something along the lines of not needing to report to anyone. Ultimately he revealed that the book was now channeling a power source that appeared to be non sentient.

“Imagine this,” The tiefling wizard said to them, “a bowl of water with a pipe in the side going down a slope. There isn’t any control valve or other mechanisms of the kind. Water in the bowls with the force of gravity goes down hill. That is what the book is like, with no god to control who can use it, anyone can use it.”

Ixen went on saying he would like to see if this is a trend with relics. He was very upset when Lek told him she banished Melora’s Talon, but he knew her reasons. If he could get his hands on another relic, see if the power source if changing with that one, maybe he could trace the new power source.

He told them to keep an eye out for one. Asking questions to the book doesn’t require a steady stream of power and the book needs a small amount of down time before another question could be asked again. This is why he hadn’t been able to locate the new power source.

Ixen told them if they are headed to Valido to get the journal he’ll send word to Archmage Asha to grant them permission to use the main library. It wouldn’t make very much sense for them to go back to Ixen so they should see Lek and discuss their next move with her once they get the book. It is only a day or two journey to see her.


Winter has fallen on the great plains of Leona. A blanket of white has covered corn and wheat fields alike. Every once in a while they past white-tailed deer nibbling on twigs as theyed walk through the snow.

A loud furious roar filled the air. One of the deer they spotted turned around only to find itself seconds later in the sharp jaws of a large lizard. Several other giant lizards with sails on their backs looked at the deer dejectedly, but then spot the adventurers. Their gazes looked hungry.

They were turned into dinosaur hamburgers thirty seconds later.


The grand city hadn’t changed much from the first time the adventurers visited. The tower of the Thundrom Order stood in front of a sky of blue with a light coating of ice on the roof. Near that structure stood the queen’s castle with its more elegant spires and walls of white. As they approached the gate two guards halted them.

“If you have any arcane users in your group they are required to register with us before coming into the city. This is a decree by Queen Victoria Valido.” The guard said.

Since our brave adventurers did not have any wielders of the arcane with them they were allowed to pass through without any trouble. Straight to the Thundrom Tower they headed.

In the tower library Archmage Asha herself appeared before them. She was a regal light purple deva with white markings on her face. She owed Ixen a few favors so saw it personally to retrieve the item they wanted. The adventurers thanked her and left.


After reading the journal they discovered that Osay was actually a warlock that somehow fooled the wizards. It was odd, because warlocks were hated within Thundrom and either Osay was a very good actor or was very powerful and could hide his true power from the older wizards. They also found out he grew up in Nanenlaer and his family was killed for being associated with him.

When they got to Wingfall, Lek asked the adventurers to check out Osay’s hometown and Sein Lenn and try to find the woman mentioned in the journal named Ina and the Watery Foot store her family owned. The journal’s last entry was one year before Ixen saw the quiet lad. The old cleric wanted to know how he was able gain his power so quickly, how he was able to hide himself from the other wizards.

Saint Lek also had one more task to bestow upon them. Donna, the orphan girl the adventurers brought to the matron, had showed great athletic capabilities and since she already an animal companion she wished the adventurers to take her to a ranger called Meru better known as Eagle-eye. She lived in a commune on the border of Dorenthil and Robur. They agreed.


Lek was able to bargain with the cheap Captain Arab to allow the adventurers on the ship as mercenaries. It was a good thing he let them on the ship because a few hours out to sea pirates attacked!

They were easily massacred and now our adventurers are on their way to Kharl, a Broken Isle to first check out the clue from the mural.

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So this Ghost Poesses this Gnome...

They rested for a few days at the Interesting Mountain Inn. By the time the adventurers headed out of Nortek, travelers from the north coming into the city spoke of traveling conditions. The previous ice storm had made traveling a perilous endeavor, making cliff roads much more slippery than usual. The four days it would normally take for a caravan to travel now takes five to six days. The usual dangers of traveling were still there, bandits, rockslides, etc.


“I see something,” Najar murmured to the others, “On the cliffs.”

Antionette’s black eyes darted ledge to ledge, “I see them too.”

Snowmen with silk top hats and carrot noses bombarded the adventurers with ice filled snowballs. The monsters cold auras cause the adventurers to have ice crystals form on their skin. Eventually the snowmen melted thanks to the invoker’s fire cat. Malbert took a silk hat to wear.


After several more days oftraveling on the icy roads, they entered the more craggy areas of the Thork mountains. The mountains here were higher than Iron mountains of Nortek. About ten miles into the mountain region among the peaks they could see dark looming structures jutting out of the rock among them were modern blocky dwarven buildings. Malbert tells his friends that Garrak used to be a necropolis for the dead.

As they approached the city, the two fur clad dwarves clutching battle axes at the gates gave them a look over and then waved them pass. Dwarves were milling about undeterred by the cold snappy weather. The alarmingly thing they noticed were specter apparitions that sort of glided past. As they journeyed in deeper they saw what looked like dwarven apparitions speaking to a pair of living dwarves.

Najar, Antionette, and Harbinger had read about the dwarven warlords that wanted to build a city there and they had to strike up a deal with the indigenous people, a number of them, that were dead. The deal was that the dead and living would live in harmony together. The ghosts were there because of tasks unfinished or they’re cursed and often they would try to obtain the help of the living to help end these curses. Some ghost however were content being as they are.

The adventurers remembered that Ixen told them that the treasure clue he gave said to search in the Bastion of the Bear in the Death Mountains. It said you needed to obtain the storm wizard’s symbol from each site to unlock the main treasure. Ixen mentioned that the symbol would be in a graveyard and the next clue that would lead you to the next site.

After asking around they discovered that there was only one graveyard close to Garrak, called Iron Bones Cemetery. It was about five miles east from the city. The grounds keeper was a fellow by the name of Torkas Belvir.


They trudged down a steadily sloping path through the mountains until they came upon a large barren valley. From a distance they could make out the heavy sturdy iron fence surrounding a sea of headstones. Just behind the opened gates was a small cozy cabin with smoking billowing out of the chimney.

They knocked on the door of the cabin, an old gruff looking dwarf with missing ring finger greeted them behind him was a large domesticated dire rat Dirt. He told them the government makes him keep a record of all the graves in the cemetery. They rarely get non-dwarves in the place so it should be easy to find their woman. He invited them in for ale. As he sets out the mugs he explained to them he had been tending to the cemetery for 25 years. Most of the time it had been very quiet, the only problem he has now and then were looters, but he’s a great shot with a crossbow. He also told them the story of how he lost his ring. Something about his ex-wife, drunkenness, and a bear trap.

After ten minutes of looking through two large tomes he old them there is only one person, non-dwarf wizard, a half-elf that is buried in the cemetery. Her name was Etil (ivy) Moica (gentle) in elven. Her grave was actually a mausoleum in the center of the cemetery. All he knew about it is that the looters that go in don’t come out. He doesn’t go in there for that very reason. He liked his life after all.


The mausoleum was an old gray structure with brown water damage on the sides. An unlock iron gate stood between them and the darkened room beyond. There were words in common scrawled above the gate reading:

Forever rest here Etil Moica,
Often the slayer of giants,
Otherwise known as Kord’s Lightning,
Lies here forever.

The tomb was dark no lighting whatsoever. The smell of mold and earth hung like a curtain in the air. When they produced a torch they saw that the walls of the tomb were covered in lichen and dark green moss.

When they entered the second floor they noticed a ghost. He wordlessly glided through a doorway. Surprisingly he was elven. He introduced himself as Talsor, a thief killed there long ago. The ghost explained that he would like to help them for he was sent into this tomb to obtain an item for the father of his love. He knew all the traps in the tomb and would leave once his task was complete. At first everyone wanted Harbinger to be the target of the possession but in the end Antoinette volunteered.

They found the tomb easily after dispatching a mummy that had been wandering the corridors of the fourth floor. Making their way back to the third floor Najar not convinced it was safe, allow his fire cat to scout ahead. There were skeletons with scimitars accompanied with a three headed skeleton and vampires.

“Death to those who take!” The Skull Lord hissed, “Death upon you!”


Talsor left them after they had taken the key off of the body of Etil Moica. After a short rest the group headed back to Nortek to warn Prince Fargrim of Robur allies, armory plans, and corruption of Oakfist’s son. Harbinger now patiently waits to travel to Teetum to confront Ixen….

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Devils...Why couldn't it be demons?

Antoinette and Zeetryder piled bodies on top of one another while Najar and Malbert selected a dwarf to interrogate. Their choice war the robe wearing spear wielding brigand who had constantly dazed the fighter. He was promptly slapped awake.

“What the hell…aw shit,” The caster groaned as he looked up at his captors.

“You’re going to tell us where the Dragonmaul hideout is,” Malbert ordered.

“This is a very nice beard,” Najar began stroking it, “I wonder how long it took you to grow it…would be a shame if it was cut unprofessionally.”

“I’ll talk I’ll talk!” The dwarf shouted, “Just don’t chop off me beard!”

The dwarf that questioned turned out to be an initiate or so he said. He explained that the hideout was in the slums quarters at the end of Etna Street. To be able to enter a member of the mafia had to place their hand upon the door and it would instantly unlock. Najar and Malbert let him go and woke up a one of the full fledged Dragonmaul members. He told them the same information as the initiate and sketched them a map of the inside. They were also merciful to him and let them go.

The adventurers quickly disposed of the remaining unconscious members and took the hands of one of them. Antoinette stopped a child on the street and handed him a letter to deliver to Lt. Rockfist and a few copper. The dwarf child nodded eagerly and sprinted off to the barracks.


Before continuing their quest they decided to get a good night’s rest. Interesting Mountain Inn was their place of choice. During the night a loud scream was heard. Najar, Antoinette, and Malbert (Arktor was with the horses again) found Zeetryder experiencing what looked to be a seizure. His coloration fluctuated, his eyes became pupil-less. Antoinette attempted to heal him to do something but his strange state wouldn’t stop. Najar touched the paladin’s hand. It was as if his very essence was leaving his body.

Two minutes later the seizure stopped and everything seemed normal. He slept on as if nothing happened. They gave him another look over and with nothing else they could do they themselves went to sleep.


In the morning Najar, Malbert, and Antionette woke up to find Zeetryder’s bed empty. They discovered him downstairs…eating his third bowl of salad.

A perky dwarven woman approached the table, “Is there anything else you would like sir?” She asked in Dwarven.

Zeetryder looked blankly at the waitress, “Could you repeat that in Common?” His speech was slow and deep.

“Hey Zeetryder,” Malbert said slowly then in Dwarven, “how are you?”

“I am fine comrade, you know I don’t speak that language,” The paladin frowned.

“What do you speak?” Antionette quirked her brows.

“Common and Elven.”

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Malbert said.

“Wait for me I need to do something in there!” The gnome followed. Najar bowed to the strange dwarf and headed into the restroom with his friends.

Moments later they emerged and started questioning Zeetryder about his past, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with him. The paladin finally caught on.

“I see it was foolish to try to deceive you,” Zeetryder sighed, “Allow me to explain.”

The dwarf went on to tell them that Zeetryder had written in Ioun’s Book and the question he asked left him an empty shell. Ioun was in need of an agent because things weren’t working the way they were supposed to. The “new” guy called himself Harbinger, he was in the past life a wilden.

Malbert growled clearly pissed off at the loss of his drinking buddy, “What makes you think you are as capable as Zeetryder?”

“I am what you would call a runepriest and though this form is weaker than my previous one I assure you I can be an essential part of your team. I will follow you with the guarantee that you’ll take me to the one called Ixen when convenient,” Harbinger stated.

They agreed.


In the morning they traveled to the slums district to Etna Street and there at the end of it was a poor looking house. The adventurers placed the severed hand on the door and with a clicked it unlocked. Inside the room was a succubus next to a warm hearth with a small table, five dwarves were gathered again around it.

“Password?” A burly dwarf asked.

“Time to die!” Malbert unsheathed his weapon.

The battle was quick. They searched the room and found a magical helm off of one of the brigands. They moved quickly through the hallways. When they came to a certain certain of the hideout a large stone wall shut behind them. They made their way through the compound. In the mess hall they found a large group of spine devils. The were dispatched with ease.


After killing more dwarves in the sleeping quarters. They stopped at the the last door a cherry wooden one. When Malbert tested the knob was locked. He then proceeded to bash the door down. Inside there was a small bed with black sheets and an ebony desk with multiple drawers and stacks of books and papers. One the papers they look like they are for a magic ritual. They checked and discovered it was locked with what appeared to be some Arcana Mechanism. Najar easily opened the drawer, perfume waif from within.

Examining the papers they noticed a few of them are from a R.G. to a N.T. They looked like love letters. Interesting enough they found other documents, there were shipping documents of Pixie Dust and Crock Tooth (narcotics and very illegal) the document was signed by a Bazgen Oakfist. There were letters detailing the exchange of one Mattie Thunderaxe for dwarven blueprints of one the armorys outside of Nortek. The last letter was from Robur, a Sultaness Barafuli, Barafuli has agreed to send more support to Valon Dragonmaul once Vanguard became officially king and not before.

At the back wall they found a secret door that lead to the library. The sound of clapping echoed throughout the room. A beautiful dwarven woman in black robes accompanied by two spined devils rose from her seat.

“Well I see father’s hired help was incompetent as I thought, not that my devils didn’t fare any better,” She smiled evilly, “I am Love Dragonmaul, I run this district. Did Rockfist send you or did one of the councilmen? No matter I’ll find out once sear you to a crisp.”

She was strong, necrotic and fire danced from her fingertips, but eventually the adventurers were able to subdue her. They found tomes of interesting books among these were A Guide to Controlling You Devil by Theral Kiju: The Shadowfell by Kei Hye: Warlock Love by Fara Trill: Poisonous Plants of Blanchon by Varis Tenonhal: Disciplining Your Imp by Erevan Innma: Learn to Speak Deep Speech in One Week by Grendal Poka.


The hallway ended with a plain looking door. With no other way to go the adventurers when they went through said door a noise resembling the falling of rocks was heard. Apparently this secret entrance was into an armory shop.

“What the bloody hell did you do to my store?” An enraged dwarf roared.

“Would you like to buy this fine whiteflame armor?” Malbert held up the chainmail they obtained from the fallen warlock.

GET OUT!”

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Dwarven Mafia?!

The adventurers took their time to wander Ixen’s home. Zeetryder and Malbert drunk much ale that night. It would be a miracle if they weren’t plagued with hangovers in the morning. Antoinette retired to one of the guestrooms to pray and Arktor stayed with the horses. Najar traveled to Ixen’s study where the wizard was currently partaking in some spirits. When the deva entered the study Ixen merely ignored him and continued to pour his attention into the many tomes he kept.

After rummaging around for any interesting tomes, he called upon the divine powers of Avandra to guide him to a book. Unfortunately the goddess did not hear his pleas and he obtained a book of elven wine making. He poured through it regardless.


In the morning the adventurers were awaken by the sounds of a rooster crowing. Seconds later they heard someone shout something in Draconic and then in common shouting “Scorching Burst!” Outside the window sat the smothering remains of a rooster. Downstairs Darvar and black bearded dwarf placed upon the large dark oval table bowls of what looked like beef stew; the aroma is a little odd for beef stew though.

“Bear,” Najar nosed twitched, the meat wasn’t prepared properly.

Darvar ignored the deva’s criticisms and informed them, “Ixen has been in his study all night. Tells us he’s not to be disturbed, but he wants to see you folks before you leave.”

After breakfast then went to the tielfing’s study and knocked on the door. Ixen bid them to enter. The first thing they noticed was the now empty bottles of alcohol on his desk.

“Sometimes being drunk allows me to be creative,” Ixen sheepishly scratched his head, “Don’t worry the important thing is I’m sober now. How long that will last I do not know. What did I want to talk to you about again? Oh right…Since Perrin is on parole his authority is limited. I will inform Archmage Asha to write you a letter granting you permission to use the Thundrom’s library in Valido in the mean time act like normal goblins laying adventurers. Go find clues for that treasure clue parchment thing I gave you and right…Lek probably will want to see you if you decide to go to Noirchon. Anything else? Questions? I’ll contact you if I find anything important."

He gave them a red gem, “It’s a polyglot gem, this particular one I created will allow anyone who has it to be able to speak, read, and write Abyssal. Useful especially against the forces of Osay. This item also has another purpose, I can simply perform a ritual called view object. I’ve tuned the stone to purposefully glow every time I perform the ritual on it. I will be able to hear things from the object so when it glows say where you are. I will send a message shortly after. Good luck.”


The journey on the main trade road to Nortek was a long and cold one. The northern winds bit and chilled any uncovered flesh it was able to find. The mountain passages were narrow pathways carved into solid gray stone. Every so often they would pass a carving on the rock either to provide as warning or a simple “I was here” message.

After traveling for a few hours, they spotted a small person bundled up in warm clothing inspecting what looked to be a wheel on his covered wagon. Two Clydesdales stomped their hooves as a person, looked like a dwarf but it was hard to tell under all those furs, brought out a wagon wheel. The wool clad halfing peered through the heavy falling snow and waveed them over.

“Oi! You there! Can you help us for a moment?” The halfing asked when they came close enough, “Went over a nasty bump and crack our wheel in two. We could use a bit of help changing it!”

“Bloody jack ain’t in working condition! I’ll kill Yilt…" The dwarf continued to curse.

Out of the corner of his eyes Malbert could see another halfing skulking behind boulders on the roadsides.

“It’s a trap!” The dwarven fighter roared.

Their enemies fell upon the snowy ground. Their enemies fell down the cliffs. Their enemies fell screams of pain caught in their throats.


After another days travel they came upon the great captial of Ironfast Nortek. The grand city sat inside an enormous caver. Molten pools sat on either side of a bridge heading straight to the city’s arena. As the adventurers walked through the city they heard rumors of the sick king, and the two sons Vanguard and Fargrim. In dwarven politics if the king had more than two children it would be up to the council to decide on which was the better ruler. Unfortunately the vote was split in half on either side. This caused a lot of turmoil in the nation.

First order of business was to sell the treasure they had accumulated over their excursions. As they moved through town Antoinette paused in front of an antique shop. Loud bags accompanied by muffled voices was heard in the tiny store. A scream was followed then another crash. Zeetryder and Malbert busted through the door to find several rugged dwarves shaking down an elderly one.

Words were exchanged briefly and a brawl ensued.The battle was quickly won and the shopkeeper explained that he was Gogrin Earthminer, arts and antique collector. The men the adventurers had killed were part of a dwarven mafia called the Dragonmauls. They had moved in last year and began “asking” shops to pay an insurance fee. Gogrin was being shaken down because his fee had jumped from 15 to 30 gold pieces a month.

“Do you know where we can find these Dragonmauls?” Malbert asked the elder dwarf.

“No, but Lt. Rockfit might have some information though he hasn’t done anything about them ever since they came,” Earthminer grumbled, “He’s at the barracks a few blocks from here.”


When the adventurers confronted Lt. Rockfist about the mafia he let out frustrated sigh, “The Dragonmauls?! They’ve been causing mayhem for months. I’ve been trying to find something on those scoundrels. Most of the storekeepers are afraid and wont testify and the ones who do are considered mentally unstable. Hell I can’t touch them because some of the councilmen back them. Word on the street is the councilmen who do support them are being blackmailed.”

“Blackmailed,” Najar leaned in intrigued, “We’re interested in helping. We are not part of your force. Therefore not constrained by these rules.”

“It is said that Vanguard Orrak supports the mafia, because of the blackmail material. I can give you a few councilmen rumored to be blackmailed. Ira Thunderaxe, Donlel Oakfist, and Nola Trollbane, you’re best bet is Trollbane the other two are away from Nortek for business. You can find her mansion a little ways from here.”


They traveled to Trollbane manor. It was a large stone complex with a domed top and golden glyph inlays on the pillars. A old wispy white hair dwarf greeted them at the door and led them through the house to Lady Trollbane.

After some prodding the councilwomen reluctantly told the adventurers that she was in a affair with a common soldiers and the mafia had those letters. If returned then she would throw her support behind Fargrim. The only information she could tell them was the members of the Dragonmaul mafia frequented to a place called the Musty Yak.


The establishment was dark, the smell of smoke emanated from within. Inside groups of dwarves gathered around tables playing cards and dice. A few of them were chugging pints of ale. When the adventurers entered all eyes became fixed upon them. Unkind looks were laid upon them.

They started getting cocky asking one too many questions. The whole establishment was upon them like a pack of wolves. Wolves that were shot all too soon.

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Goldenhawk Tower

“I didn’t come here alone you know,” Tim said as they trudged back to Leafwind.

“Oh? That’s a surprise,” Malbert muttered sarcastically.

“I came with a Deva named Najar,” Time furrowed his brow, “But since the Thundrom has recalled all their members I’ve got to go back to Valido. I wonder what’s he gonna do now.”

“Was he weak like you?” The fighter scoffed.

Tim appeared to be annoyed but held his tongue, “He was a capable fellow if that’s the answer you are looking for.”

“Hm, where was he last?” Zeetryder asked.

“Last time I saw him he was at the tavern in town, the Little Minnow.”

The adventurers returned to Captain Aven, Tim confirmed the killing of the trolls . Satisfied with a job well done the captain handed them a sack of coin. He mentioned to them that his superior Field Marshal Drake was looking for a few individuals to help with something. All he knew was that it had to do with brigands. They agreed and Aven told them he’d send word to them at the tavern.

………

The Little Minnow was small and bustling with activity. Mounted on the dark walls were all sorts of fresh water fish and a few primitive looking fishing poles that looked like they were made of bone. A large fireplace complete with a dire wolf rug sat at the far end of the room.

A group of mercenaries had taken up a large portion of the tavern and were singing, clearly drunk. Near the fireplace was a young couple on a date. The woman was a pretty thing with a lanky individual with a lisp. She had tankard of ale on her side, while he had a glass of blush wine. The adventurers noticed the woman say something to him, and he timidly poked one of the men and they could barely hear him say.

“Excuse me, I don’t approve of your language.”

The drunken men taunted him a few times. One of them reached over and pours his wine over the his head. The lanky individual stood up in anger and a big burly man pushed him down. He toppled over the table. The woman rushed over to her boyfriend but was immediately grabbed by the arm by one of the drunkards.

A deva, who had been meditating in a corner, rose from his seat and with the grace and swiftness his many lives had granted him and cast a series of spells causing his enemies and the stalwart dwarf fighter to see images of blood. Malbert merely shook off the after affects of this invoker’s attack briefly wondering whether he was on their side or not.

After the adventurers got rid of drunkards the beaten man introduced himself as Potsie Winifred Gale the fourth. He wanted to thank them by paying their for there stay at the inn. Small talk was exchanged between the deva invoker Najar and the others. With some convincing he decided to join them.

While they settled down a young boy walked up to them and said Field Marshal Drake would like to see them first thing in the morning in the Langley Fields. Antoinette thanked the boy and tossed a copper piece his way.

……………….

In the morning they were awakened by the sound of a rooster crowing. The smell of bacon and bread wafted up from the hearth below. Rose had set upon the table plates of bacon, duck eggs, and soft cheeses, wooden cups of milk and tankards of lightning hoof ale. She also brought out 2 wineskins for each of them one filled with drinking water and the other with hot water to put wherever was needed to stay warm.

The rain poured heavily. They traveled out of the city and came upon what people named the Langley Fields. It was a tract of farmland that hadn’t been tended to in a while. Militia recruits were bashing each other with wooden swords and doing some mediocre marching. Every now and then a recruit would lose a boot in the muck and the others would push him over and laugh at him. And not too far off looking at them with some measure of approval/disapproval was an armored man on a horse his squire next to him.

The armored man noticed their approach and got off his horse to greet them properly. They each shook his hand and down to business.

“Are you aware of a tower called Golden Hawk?" He asked them.

Najar nodded, “The desolate tower to the north.”

“Yes, it is a watchtower a standpoint against the goblin hordes. My friend Sorek Orvash is a prospector, who was sent by the local baron to the tower with a group to see if the tower could be rebuilt. They encountered brigands with faces painted like skulls accompanied by the walking undead,” Marshal Drake explained.

“Could you call your friend?” Arktor asked, “Maybe he can describe to us these brigands in greater detail.”

Drake’s young squire waded into the muck to the small house to fetch the person in question. Sorek came out tipped his hat and greeted them. He explained the men he saw in more detail.

“Sounds like some bandits fell into a Orcus cult,” Antoinette glanced at Zeetryder and Najar who nodded in agreement, “We’ll do it.”

“I would attend to this matter myself,” Drake said as he shot a look of disapproval toward the militia recruits, “but as you can see I have my work cut out for me.”

……………………….

They traveled north for a day, the rain continued to pour. It was evening when they reached the tower. The tower itself looked like the top portion of it was sheared off. Around the ruined structure were large pieces of rubble. To the east a large skeleton was buried in the ground. It looked like it may have been a hill giant at one point.

Sorek answered any questions they had. He told them the leader of the watchtower was a elven storm wizard named Valatra Goldenhawk and she was the scourge of goblin kind. The state of the tower was cause by Valatra. About 200 years ago the tower was besieged by goblins and giants and as a last recourse to slay them all she used the tower as the final weapon sending shrapnel in the armies laying them low. It was unknown whether she survived or not.

As the approached the tower Sorek noticed the campsite his men had abandoned days ago had a lit fire. The adventurers agreed that the dwarf should stay back in case things became ugly.

The watchtower’s walls still climbed to the height of 30 feet and ranged from 5 to 20 feet thick. The adventurers not being the most stealthy of folk crunched twigs and kicked rocks alerting men that were talking in the ruined structure.

They dispatched the skull face bandits with relative ease. After searching the camp they found a paint of the tower itself. Sorek explained the flag in the painting was the storm wizard’s crest, a golden hawk on a field of purple and black.

A rope ladder was tied to struts of the broken staircase that looked like it was used to go down the hole in the center of the broken watchtower. Zeetryder cautiously peeked into the dark crevice and thought he saw a face looking up from the bottom. The element of surprise was not their forte so they decided to let the ladder just drop into the room below.

When the rope ladder was dropped a voice shouted, “Hey! Stay the hell up there! We’ll let you know when its time to come down.”

And then Malbert scampered down. There was this moment of silence.

“Get him!”

Braziers had cast shadows of the warriors on the etched walls of the room. Archers had taken their places on old wooden scaffolds in order to pick off the melee fighters at a range. Armor warriors who had previously been lounging about took up defensive stances. A man in fine clothes began to analyze who was the ideal target to charm. Spiritual cats were summoned, ray of radiant energies were shot, and large axes decapitated foes.

“Yenner is going to skin the flesh off your bones and make you into one of his thralls!”

Later on a masked man who tried to sneak into the fray unnoticed was spotted by Zeetryder. He tried using poison on the stalwart dwarves and the craft gnome, but it didn’t work. After he saw some of his comrades fall in battle he hightailed it through the double doors he came from.

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Crazy Town...Literally

It was a dreary day. The past rains had made the roads a thick sloppy mess and the frigid-like winds did not make it feel the adventurers any better. Their horses traveled at a slow pace, their hoofs making sucking sounds with the mud.

It was nearing nightfall when they spotted an inn up ahead. The merchants they have met had mentioned Grassy Place. The inn was small with dark green siding and a sign with blades of grass painted upon it. A young man in a tricorn hat offered to take their horses to the stable. He whistled to another man who helped.

The inside of the inn was warm and cozy, with a large roaring fire in the tavern. It was full to the brim with merchants, farmers, and a few adventurers drinking talking enjoying not being outside.

A dark haired woman who greeted them and introduced herself as Verna, the barmaid. She asked the adventurers what they wanted to drink. Satisfied with their requests she went off. Near the fireplace the adventurers heard a man called Belim talk about the small village of Hope. He explained to farmers that had gathered around him that the town folk seemed to be acting very strangely, the animals even the cows have become feral, and there was this constant feeling of him being watched. Perhaps it was just paranoia the other people in the group said, but Belim didn’t believe it to be so.

Most of the farmers commented that he was out of his goddamn mind until an adventurer spoke up, a young human woman with leather armor and a bow on her back, spoke how the animals in the town were acting unlike anything she had ever seen before. The only reason she did not stay in investigate was because the guards weren’t making her feel all that welcome. Zeetryder and Malbert were intrigued especially about the mention of feral cattle and decided since Hope was along the way they would stop by just to check it out.

In the morning, the fog was thick and the road still very muddy. The adventurers continued to travel north. Plains gave way to shallow hills. The rain was still coming down but in mist like form. On the quiet road a sharp cry was heard towards the left in a clump of trees.

When the adventurers went to investigate the woods they saw a creature of feathers and fur. Eagle in the front part and hind quarters of a lion. It was baby griffon. When it saw them approaching it shrieked in horror struggling to fly, but cried pitifully when it tried to move its wing. Antoinette tried quieting the young creature healing it to the best of her ability. Zeetryder and Malbert tried to draw the young creature’s attention away from the gnome distracting it.

But the young animal kept of crying and every once in a while its cries would be answered by loud caws in the distance. After a few minutes two very large griffons crashed through the tree, their eyes fell upon their baby and the adventurers.

“We’re not going to hurting him…” Zeetryder waved erratically at Antoinette and the yearling.

A few tense moments later the baby griffon hovered to its parents. The adult griffons looked over at the adventurers and gave them a look a satisfaction. One of them bowed its head deeply and they both flew away.

Moments later Arktor came through the bush with reins in hand, “Hey guys, did I miss anything?” His answers consisted of groans.


In the late afternoon their destination came into view. The village was surrounded by a log wooden barrier. Two guards stood outside in leather armor and two swords on their backs. When they approached the guards began to laugh hysterically and point at the dwarves and gnome.

“What in Avandra’s name is so funny?” Zeetryder growled.

“You’re short!” The guard was now crying with laughter.

The guards though their giggles asked what the adventurers wanted in town. Satisfied with their answer they allowed them to pass. They continued to laugh even when they pass the gates.

The town was small with small neat wooden buildings most of them in their regular wooden finish, not painted. The first thing they noticed was no one was outside not a soul. However a black cat walked among the buildings.

“Good sirs do you have any bells?” A beggar from behind a building asked.

“Bells?” Antionette peered closely at the old man, “What do you need bells for?”

“She says we need bells,” The old man replied.

“Who?” Malbert gave the beggar the once over.

“The voice in my head.”

“I’m going to go get a drink…” Zeetryder sighed, “Five minutes in this place and I already can’t stand it.”

The tavern was empty except for a single barmaid and a few farmers. The barmaid, Sonya, asked in a dead flat voice what they would like to drink. Once the placed their orders she walked off.

When the barmaid left one of the farmers from the other tables walked up to them and introduced himself as Norris. He told them in a hushed voice that weird stuff had been going on. He explained that he was in town to collect a sunflower crop from his friend Issac Till, who send him word a few days ago that the crop was ready.

“The door was locked and the crops…” Norris ran his hand nervously through his hair, “They looked liked they haven’t been tended to for weeks!”

“It would be a good place to start looking for a clue,” Antoinette acknowledged.


The farm was just outside the village and sure enough the sunflowers looked as if they had been rotting for weeks. In front of the sunflower field was a small white house. Norris demonstrated to them that the door was locked indeed. Zeetryder without any warning promptly kicked down said door.

Inside the house items were strewn everywhere as if a tornado tore through it. Mud and bits of straw were tracked on the floor and led to the back door. Upstairs some drawers were opened and if looked like someone just took personal items and ran. Unable to find anymore clues they went into the field since the mud tracks led out that way.

While outside in the field another black cat crossed their path. From what they had heard from the farmer and ranger back at Grassy Place all the animals were feral. The birds were not singing though it was late afternoon and the cats they’ve seen so far were tame. Not convinced the adventurers followed the feline around for a bit only to have it stop at one of the scarecrows. Zeetryder tried to find anything different about this particular scarecrow from the other three in the field. Nothing.

“Well this was a…”

The scarecrow let out a terrifying screech. It lurched forward with clawed hands and dug into any holes it could find Zeetryder’s armor. The attack left the paladin with a cold chilling fear. These monsters learned used fear to their advantage to stun and leaving the adventurers vulnerable to attack. Eventually the scarecrows were defeated after a long drawn out battle and burned.

They returned to find Norris hiding in the house. They all decided to go back into the village since there were no more clues at the farm.


The group returned to the town only to have another beggar go up to them begging for bells. They decided the next course of action should be to locate some bells. Unfortunately even though it was only late afternoon the village was like a ghost town and none of the shops were opened. They were told by a guard (that laughed at them) that the local temple may have a few bells.

The temple was a structure resembling more of a normal house than a place of worship. Inside they found a very unfocused Pelor priestess. Her attention wandered constantly.

“Why aren’t there people outside?” Antoinette asked, “It’s broad daylight.”

“Eh…No it’s not…it’s kind of late. Morning isn’t for another six hours at least…oohh shiny!” The priest gazed off into space.

“But that’s midnight…” Antionette remarked, but seemed to be unheard by the priestess.

“Uh do you happen to have bells here?” Malbert asked.

“Oh yes!” She gave them a few silver bells, “We also have a large bell for our soon to be constructed bell tower…but the woodworkers haven’t been back for a while…” The priest skipped over to the altar and started poking a small statuette.

“I’ll be back depending on the effects these bells have I may help you with your bell tower,” Zeetryder offered.

“That would be wonderful!” The priestess grinned and then her attention once again wandered off.


They decided it would be wise to rest and visit the town at midnight. Sure enough at midnight the village was bustling with activity. Shopkeepers were opening their stores, children played in the common square, and men headed into the fields to work. Within moments of walking outside another beggar approached them asking for bells. Zeetryder grabbed him.

“Yes, I have one,” The paladin started ringing it in his other hand.

The beggar clawed and screeched, “Get it away from me!”

“Is this bell not what you wanted?” Antoinette nervously.

“Please let me go!”

Unable to find anything to help solve the mystery they released the beggar. They tried ringing the bells to other beggars to find the same result. Ordinary folk seemed to not care for the ringing of the bells.

“Snowball come back!”

A little girl darted by the group after a small black cat. When the girl caught the creature she immediately brought it the adventurers.

“Hi I’m Lily, and this is Snowball!” She smiled brightly holding the cat.

“How cute,” Antoinette petted the creature, “Why did you name him Snowball?”

“Cause he’s white silly!” Lily giggled.

The adventurers soon found out that every single cat in town was black and there was a excessive of them. What was more puzzling was that the townsfolk perceived the cats in other colors such was striped, orange, and etc.

“Daddy is scared of Snowball though,” Lily cocked her head cutely, “I don’t know why.”

“Who is your dad?” Antoinette asked.

“He’s the mayor.”


When they found they mayor he was hiding behind a desk screaming at some unknown person. The adventurers presence did nothing to calm him down.

“Mortal!”

The mayor stilled at the voice inside his head, “Yes?”

The adventurers looked at him strangely. Only the mayor could heard the voice.

“Tell them, I want a yellow perch. Then they can see me,” The female voice continued, “Okay?”

“But…”

“I SAID I WANT A YELLOW PERCH NOW TELL THEM OR I’LL TURN YOU INTO A DAISY!” The voice roared in the mayor’s head.

“Yes ma’am!”


The task was done easily. There were no surprises that lurked in the bushes nor were there strange with the forest outside of the village. They accomplished their task and headed back to the mayor fish in hand.

“Good…” The voice cooed in the mayor’s head, “Tell them to meet me in the warehouse.”

“I…” The mayor turned to the adventurers, “This fish is not satisfactory to the lady.”

“What are you doing?” Hissed the voice, “Stalling? Hoping they leave? I want to have some fun!”

“We refuse!” The gnome scowled, “She said a yellow perch. Looks like this woman cannot keep her word.”

“Hah!” The voice cackled, “Tell them…I will wait…”


“I bid you welcome!” A tall woman bid them further into her domain, “I expect you have questions.”

A short conversation and battle later the woman laid dead on the dirt floor, blood seeping from the multiple stab wounds. The fighters looked onto the body with satisfaction when clapping from behind some boxes could be heard.

“Looks like you dispatched of Kit rather easily,” A adolescent female half-elf wielding a staff grinned, “I guess you are not as incompetent as the townsfolk.”

“Who are you?” Malbert growled already drawing out his weapon.

“I am Mittens!” Roars of laughter followed, “I hate my name sometimes. Anyways I assume you have some questions.”

“What have you done to these people?” Antoinette gripped her maces until her knuckles turned white, “Why haven’t you turned the mayor?”

“How many have you killed?” Zeetryder stepped up, “What’s with all the cats? You’re an abomination…”

“So much anger in thy words,” Mittens walked to the door and casually leaned back, “Just a little mind control. I do love to have fun. Seeing fear in someone is fun too…I haven’t killed anyone.”

“Where is Issac?” Malbert glared that the half-elf, “You tried to kill us! And Kit is dead.”

“The good farmer Issac and his family left, they seem to be more in-tune with magic and sensed what was happening. The scarecrows probably wouldn’t have killed you…unless I said otherwise. Kit volunteered to fight you to prove how much she had learned from me. Obviously she failed.”

“I had enough!” Malbert charged the mage. She simply stepped to the side making him crash into a wall.

“You are making a big mistake,” Mittens chuckled.

“She’s too powerful,” Antoinette murmured to Zeetryder, “I can feel it.”

“Aww…well…if you won’t attack me I’ll just have to find another way to have fun,” Mitten conjured some dice, “How about a game of dice? If you win I’ll leave the village and if I win you leave.”

“What’s the catch?” Malbert raised a brow.

“Each die contains a soul of a villager,” The half-elf tossed a black die in the air, “When we play the die that loses is disposed of. Think of it as sacrificing the few to save the many.”

“No!” Antoinette cried, “I will not subject myself to your twisted games. How do we know you’ll keep your word?”

“I will not kill innocents,” Zeetryder sighed, “I cannot.”

“We’re leaving,” Malbert brushed past the mage.

“Awww…fine…” Mittens pouted.

When they all left Mittens sat on some boxes twirling her blond hair, “I think Hope needs more feral cows.”


They left in miserable state. Luckily the next town was not far away from them. It was a fishing village called Leafwind. They promptly found work from the job board and killed two trolls for Captain Aven. During this time they learned that Perrin Silverwind had been place in parole because of the destruction of Datshun. It was labeled a magical accident. The Thundrom Order’s power was now limited in Leona and the other countries were keeping a close eye on the orders in their own countries.

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Which Egg?

“Ak k tor,” Much flem said the turtle was needed when saying the password to the magic mouth on the wall Malbert reminded himself.

The magic mouth on the stone wall gave way to a short passageway that led to a wooden door. Being the cautious impromptu rogue Malbert gave the door the once over.

“No traps,” The gruff fighter said.

“Perhaps we should listen for noises behind the door,” Antoinette offered her own piece of advice.

They listened and strained their ears to try to pick up the smallest of sounds, but none were heard except the water dripping of the cave walls.

“It’s an ambush,” Arktor grumbled, “I knew we weren’t being quiet enough.”

“Maybe they’re asleep?” Antoinette squeaked.

“Right…and my presence will cause them to drop dead,” Zeetryder raised his weapon, “Might as well bust down this door.”

“Wait! We don’t know if they really plan to am…” The door splintered under the blunt side of his weapon. Antoinette sighed, “For Avandra’s sake!”

The Dwarves and Goliath barreled forward charging into what they would be a fray. The cleric stood back dreading the waves of Orcus cultists and necrotic energies that would surly come through that doorway. Moments passed and all that was heard was silence. She stepped out from the ruined door to find the bodies of cultists laid dead.

“Your presence is more powerful than you thought,” Arktor glanced around what seemed to be a worshiping chamber complete with giant Orcus statue and stone pews.

Malbert squatted down to take a long look at the dead bodies. They were definitely cultists judging by their black robes and symbols of Orcus around their necks. About ten bodies laid strewn about most of them adorned with blades wounds but a few bore burn marks.

“Probably the other adventurers,” Arktor said, “We should be careful.”

“Wait…” Malbert gave the large statue of Orcus a hard look, “Didn’t Odin said the stone we want is in the Orcus statue?”

“Hm,” Zeetryder peered at the statues slightly glowing blue eyes, “Which one is it?”

“Luck favors the bold as Avandra says,” Antoinette commented.

Malbet took out a dagger and pried the the blue stone from the left eye just for the hell of it other eye jewel seemed unmovable. Satisfied with the job he pocketed the jewel.

They decided to explore the rest of the compound, but carefully, as carefully as two dwarves in heavy armor can. Their metal clangs resonated through the empty cavern. Malbert check a few rooms and when he went to inspect the last one he slammed into something.

“Ow!” The short man cried.

The adventurers ran into the other party Odin was talking about. The short man in leather introduced himself as Hurst, clearly the leader and rogue. He went down the line, Brick a fighter with scale armor and a shield, Henry the robed wizard, and Barney a cleric. Brick was carrying what appeared to be a large egg about the size of a small rain barrel. It was white metallic sheen with a few dark blotches. A brief exchange later and the adventurers found out that the other party were employed by Archmage Xarzith Gix, a dragonborn sorcerer, to retrieve a dragon egg that the cultists obtained recently. They had found the dragon egg in a room full of other reptilian eggs.

“So, have you come across any stones?” Malbert asked, he showed the blue one he just obtained.

“Oh this?” Barney held up a similar green stone.

“Can we have it?” Antionette asked.

“Whoa…obviously this is important to you and we found it first…we’ll let it go for a price,” Hurst smirked.

Some haggling took place and Hurst, who sported a look of triumph, handed the stone to Zeetryder. The other adventurers took there leave. Curious about the eggs they decided to look at the room themselves after retrieving the book on the first floor.

Using the markers they made with their chalk they weaved through the narrow corridors of the maze eventually finding their way back to the room with the two identical tomes. The stones were socket in place and the barriers to the books were down. Unable to tell which book was the real one Malbert and Arktor decided to each take a book off the pedestals at the same time.

“Look out!” Zeetryder roared bring his weapon out.

A sigh of relief was heard from Malbert only to turn into a yell of surprise when Arktor brought his battle axe upon the stout dwarf. The barbarians eyes had turned a milk white, pupils absent. His comrades’ words of dropping the book fell upon deaf ears. No matter what was done or said the possessed Arktor only seemed to attack the closest person. Finally Malbert was able to wrestle the book from his death grip and the Goliath returned to his old self with no recollection of what had just transpired.

They left the cursed fake book where it was dropped and headed back to the third floor where the egg room was. The room as described by the other adventurers were full of eggs. Many of the eggs looked similar to the one the other group of adventurers were carrying. Curious they headed back to Odin only to come across a barricaded door they had missed before. It looked like it was keeping something in and didn’t seem to have been touched by anyone of recent. Yet another thing they could question Odin about.

“Ah I see you are back!” The turtle seemed to smile, but it was hard to tell, “What can I assist you with my new found friends?”

“The other party had an egg with them, but we are not sure if it was the dragon egg you spoke of,” Malbert explained, “We were wondering if you could identify the real dragon egg.”

“Easily!” Odin nodded his head made ripples in the dark pool.

For the next five minutes Arktor, Malbert and Zeetryder brought down the eggs. Odin offhandedly commented that the eggs they brought were in fact drake eggs.

“By the way,” Antionette sat by the edge of the water while the men brought down eggs, “We saw a barricaded door. Do you know what’s behind it?”

“Ah…there is a wizard there. He’s been here for twenty years now and as far as I know he is an enemy of the cultists. That’s why they try to keep him in there,” The giant turtle fixed his egg Arktor brought in, “That is the dragon’s egg.”

“Maybe we should talk to this wizard…” Zeetryder offered, “Anyone who is an enemy of Orcus cultists maybe a friend.”


So they removed the wood boards that were nailed to the door and descended into what seemed like a large moist cavern. It was pitch black so Arktor brought out his ever-burning torch. The sounds of water dripping echoed throughout the cavern. Deep pools of water were scattered around.

“Did you hear that?” Arktor asked swinging his torch around.

“Bah it probably was your imagination!” Malbert scoffed trudging forward into the darkness.

“Eyes in the water!” Arktor pointed.

“Probably a small creature,” Zeetryder shrugged.

RAWR!!!”

Carrion Crawlers and Otyughs leap from the darkness their tentacles and gnashing teeth only made them seem even more monstrous. The Otyughs stench was nearly unbearable causing the warriors’ resolves to falter enabling the carrion crawlers poison stun them.

Eventually they won the battle. When the last one was slew and the corpses of these aberrant creatures laid at their feet they continued their search for the wizard. This time they were more alert.

At the end of the cavern was a simple wooden door. Curious they knocked on it and a warm voice bid them to enter. In the sparingly furnished room sat an old man with a full white beard and thinning hair upon his head.

“I often do not have visitors…” The wizards rose from his chair, “Who are you?”

They briefly introduced themselves. The wizard explained to them that he was Marques. About twenty years ago he was in the Thundrom Order. He and a Narvara Riel were engaged in a dispute and to settle it a magic duel was agreed upon. The winner would do with the loser whatever s/he liked. Marques admitted he was naive and did not take in account how much more experienced the Eladrin woman was.

“She cursed me…” Marques slumped back down on his chair, “I’ve been working on a spell to transport me out of here, but I am missing one spell component.”

“What is it? Maybe we can get it for you?” The gnome offered.

“The cultists…they have a dragon’s egg. I need its shell…You will not go unrewarded. I have some precious jewelry that I don’t need.”

They showed him the egg and which Marques immediately took. He shoved the necklace and bracelet as promised into their hands.

“It will take me a few hours, but I can finally get out of here and be rid of this curse!” He yelled triumphantly, “Perhaps I will go back to the Thundrom Order.”

“You might not want to do that…” Zeetryder interrupted his celebration, “Naivara is an archmage now.”

“Well…then I’ll go to Ironfast. I’ve always had a love for Dwarven ale,” Marques shrugged, “Before I leave, is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Those other adventurers will be back once they find out they have a drake’s egg,” Malbert said, “Could you scry where they are at the moment old man?”

“Certainly, I just have to touch one of you that has touched one of the members of this party,” Marques touched Malbert’s hand, “there we are…oh dear…it seems they are headed back.”

“They said they came on behalf of Xarzith,” Arktor recalled.

“Hmm I knew her back when I was a lad in the order. Allow me to locate her,” The wizard waved his hands over the crystal ball, “Odd…she is in Skoruhk. She seems to be busy with the war there.”

“But that is more than two week journey…so either they teleported or they lied about who they’re working for,” Antoinette narrowed her eyes.

“I can give prepare a ritual in this scroll for you,” Marques offered, “Discern lies.”

“That would be perfect.”


After performing the ritual Zeetryder was now able to tell whether the other party had lied to them or not. They intercepted them on the cultists floor. Several questions later they found out their employer was not Archmage Xarzith. Easily they defeated the other adventurers and learned that they were working for Osay. They were going to meet him at an in with the dragon egg later. Feeling merciful the party left them tied up, took their weapons, and their horses. They relayed all they learned back to Perrin who thanked and rewarded them for their efforts.

“This is a Thundrom problem,” Perrin said, “Please you should no longer concern yourselves with our welfare. I would feel terrible if something were to happen to you because of me.”

Not feeling like being cast aside so easily the adventurers went to the designated inn where Osay was said to be and waited. A group of mages arrived shortly after and marched right up to Osay’s supposed room. A shriek of horror was heard later and the mages ran out the door.

Curious to see what startled the mages so the adventurers went into the room finding a note and a map with the village Datshun crossed off. In the letter Osay said he destroyed the village as a warning for all not to get in his way.

They went back to Perrin who did scry the town and did confirm their fears. Urging Perrin to allow them to assist him, the archmage reluctantly told them that a relic of Ioun existed that could help in their cause. It was own by a tiefling wizard by the name of Exen, who ran a brewery in Ironfast. His nickname was Molotov said to be the creator of the alcoholic concoction.

The relic, Ioun’s book, could answer any question that was written into it in exchange for a piece of a person’s memory. The more important the question the more memory it would take. The adventurers agreed to try find Exen and the relic for the haling sorcerer.

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A Maze...Bah!

The dungeons was was dark and damp. The adventurers entered the north door first. It was old and rotten with age and mold. When they opened it there were two door to their left and right. They discovered that these particular rooms were administration area. Old worn books and desk with messing legs accompanied each room. They searched the bookshelves but all that was to be found were records of prisoners. During this time Antoinette wandered off from the group.

However their search turned out to be fruitful for behind a doorway in one of the offices were two books on pedestals. Each book was bound in leather no one could identify. Iminye reached out for when of them only to find her hand buffeted back. Her hand still tingled with electricity. It was then they noticed a panel to the side with four alcoves, one of which had a small fist sized yellow stone. So the quest here seemed simple enough. Find the stones to lower the barrier to the books…Right?

Knowing their gnome was capable of taking care of herself the others explored the rest of the area. There was nothing notable in the dining halls or sleeping quarters. So they backtracked and went through the eastern doorway.

Past the moth eaten tapestry they found themselves walking down a long hallway, narrow and dark. After what seemed to be an eternity of walking they arrived to what looked to be like a torture area, iron maidens and racks filled the room, some still had skeletons on them. They discovered much to their surprise that in the holding cell before the iron maidens there was a secret door that led back to the common area’s supply closest.

Deciding that this place was ideal for resting (that and the fact other than the mage and undead they encountered earlier). The adventurers headed further into the torture chambers passing through previously used pits of acid and oil and more racks and iron maidens. A staircase leading down signified the end of the unpleasant areas.

Much to their dismay, Perrin Silverwind’s warning of a labyrinth came to past. The second floor was just that. The corridors were uncomfortably narrow. Thankfully Arktor had an ever burning torch, but it did little to bring them comfort. With torches one could only see so much.

Faint voices were heard in the distance. They tread quietly only to be nearly caved in by a rock slide. Rumble laid on the floor. Moments later goblins, a horde of them, were upon our adventurers. A hexer, who initiated the attack ducked into another passageway only to be squashed under the blunt side of the axe of Arktor. They dispatched the goblins with ease and left one alive.

“Me called Spork!” The goblin cried, eyes really wide.

“Have you seen a stone like this?”

Even though the small green humanoid spoke in broken Common he looked and the stone and nodded furiously. He led them through the corridors to a small square shaped room. The little guy began looking up down and all around. With a eureka moment he spun on his heel almost falling over int he process since his arms were tied and began poke his nose on some of the stones.

“I say he’s stalling,” The dwarf fighter growled and strode into the room towards the small creature.

Malbert’s body came to a halt after he slammed into an invisible wall. At the same time said invisible wall started to engulf him. He tried to break free from the gelatin substance, but it was useless. Sensing the inevitable he took a final breath in bracing himself. He did notice however before he was eaten completely that his skin started to tingle.

They fought the gelatinous cube, every time freedom was reached by the stalwart dwarf the jelly entity seemed to pull him back in. Spork continued to cower in the corner daring not to move and inch or be devoured himself. When the cube was finally showing some damage it split! Two cubes with the capabilities of one now stood in the room. Spork continued to cower.

When they finally won the battle Malbert immediately grabbed Spork by the throat and shoke him, “You knew that thing was there didn’t you!”

“No no no Spork not know!” The little thing wailed pitifully.

“Well I’ll be,” Iminye said as she picked up a fist sized glowing red stone.

When Malbert finally calmed down he demanded that Spork lead them to the second floor, which he was more than happy to oblige. On their way to the second floor they fought swarms of centipedes and spiders. During the spider attack Spork fell in battle. It was only until after the battle they discovered that the “second” floor stairwell he was leading them to only looped into another part of the maze that they already had been through.

“I hate goblins…” Zeetryder glowered.

Eventually they found a staircase actually two after fighting a tar like entity almost like the cube they had fought previously. They chose to go down the northern staircase first, which led to a dead end or what seemed to be a dead end. Malbert stepped onto what seemed to be a pressure plate and red gas started leaking through nozzles from the walls. Not wanted to suffer death the adventurers made their way back up the stairs and decided to travel down a shallow, damp, longer set of stairs.

At the end of the stairs was a huge underground lake. A small pier with a large raft was tied there. In the far distance a glimmer on a large landmass could be seen. They hit land a moment later.

“Excuse me?” A large reptilian head rose from the water, “Oh hello!”

“You’re a turtle…” Iminye cocked her brow.

“You talk…” Arktor was looking quite bewildered himself.

“Well when you’re somewhere for a hundred years or so,” The turtle continued, “You learned a thing or two.”

The turtle introduced himself as Odin and he was happy for the company. He answered questions for them, such as how to get into the cultists lair through the secret passage at the end of the lake.

“Do you know of a magic stone like this?” Zeetryder held up the red stone they had acquired.

“Ah yes! There should’ve been one in the panel on the first floor and two on the second. The fourth one should be in the statue in the cultists worshiping area!”

“But we only found this one in the maze,” Iminye said.

“Well if it wasn’t with the red one you possess then I don’t know where it could be…Anyhow I’ve had quite the busy day!” Odin chatted as he assisted them to hidden passage, “Another group of adventurers came by a couple of hours ago.”

“Adventurers?”

“Aye, but instead of a stone they were looking for a dragon’s egg the cultists obtained two weeks ago!”

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Death Priests and Kids

After the battle, Malbert found a sack of coins in the the body of one of the hulking zombies covered in bodily fluids. Cleaning one bag of coins with puddle water later all of them went into the cave. It was a cold drafty cavern with white lichen growing on the walls. The cave was lit by torchlight. In the square shaped room fours life-like statues of human soldiers carrying javelins sat in each corner. On the wall opposite of the adventurers was a statue of a beautiful Elven maiden holding a hourglass filled with black sand. Next to her was a shadows of a bird with assorted pieces clinging to the wall like magnets, but they looked movable.

The tangram was simple enough to solve. As the last piece was set into place a stone slab started to rise. Voices drifted to the ears of the party. Arktor recognized one of the speakers using Giant.

“I swear to Kord when I get out of here I will shove that rock so far up your ass…” The Giant speaker roared.

“Shut up wench!” Another voice snapped back in Common.

When the rock slab finally fully retracted a fully furnished room came into view complete with statue of Vecna in the back. A cage sat in the back where a half-orc woman and several children were imprisoned in. The black robed priest dropped his stone and stared at the intruders, his eyes wide with surprise. Finally he snapped out of his stupor.

“Destroy them!” He roared.

Arktor yelled toward the cage, “Don’t worry we’re here to help you!”

Several undead leaped up from the other corners of the room ready to carry out their master’s command. Acolytes armed with scythes joined into the fray. Battle wights in heavy plate mail armor swung their blades. Each time the weapons slashed Zeetryder’s flesh he felt as if some of his life essence had left him. Simple melee attacks would not bring down the wights so easily so they were Antoinette’s main focus. Zeetryder turned his own attention to the undead spellcasters, an enigma of Vecna. Arktor decided that the death priest was his propriety.

In the cage the half-orc woman watched as the adventurers cut their opponents one by one until the scythe wielding acolytes were left standing. Fearful of his life one of them dropped his weapon and sprinted for the cave entrance. Arktor followed closely behind until through the darkness he saw a figure reach out for the escapee’s robe. The acolyte found himself staring into the eyes of a very angry woman.

Arktor rushed back to report his finding to his comrades. He came back to find them releasing the half-orc woman who introduced herself as Ownka. She told them she was captured by the undead a few days prior. The adventurers explained they had ran into her husband earlier. Ownka was relieved that he didn’t die nor kill her rescuers.

They all walked out together, voices from outside could be heard drifting into the cavern. Antoinette recognized the voice to be speaking in Elven saying, “I’ve been very patient with you…”

Not knowing what to expect they armed themselves and stepped outside the cave. Three figures could be seen, one of them was the acolyte that was chased out the other two were in gray robes one about human height the other was about thee and half feet tall. The taller own stepped forwarded and took off her hood.

“I followed you here,” Lek revealed, “But I see you told care of things.”

“Vecna will have your souls!” The acolyte screamed.

Lek rolled her eyes, went back over, and backhanded the worm, “Shut up, I’ll deal with you in a minute.”

The smaller figure took off her hood, revealing Pip, “Do not speak to Master Nohk in that manner.”

“Anyways,” The orphanage matron continued, “We should go back to the orphanage. It’s not safe to speak out in the open like this. I’ll explain everything.”

……

After a short walk, Pip erasing the memories of guards, and tip toeing through the abbey they all gather in Lek’s very impressive library. Books lined both floors though slightly dusty.

“I spoke…” Lek began.

“Intimidated,” Pip interjected.

Lek sighed, “Fine, I intimidated Holly to tell me what happened. I think you were sent to fine me and not her. Redgar was wrong with his information, which I would normally want to happen. I am a servant of Melora. I am what you call a saint.”

Arktor nodded in approval when she spoke Melora name. The other adventurers couldn’t quite believe that a person, who spoke to a little ordinary bird was the holy person they were looking for but she seemed sincere.

“I have long retired. The last thing I need is people asking me to do miracles everyday. Now I just take care of children until my goddess needs me again,” Lek explained, “But I digress let me see the stone.”

Antoinette handed the stone over. Pip and Lek studied it with great interested. Lek whispered a few things in Elven to which Pip nodded.

“The stone is a mithril alloy with adamantite and another unidentified metal, but I do believe this is of drow creation,” Lek placed the stone on her desk, “The item is of divine nature, as you know however drow items loss potency in sunlight. What is less common knowledge is the sae could be said if the drow item is near items of divine nature. The third metal is definitely an Everdark metal used as sort of a shield or buffer to block out the items divine energy until the magic item itself can be neutralized.”

Lek eyed the party, “It will take me a few days to identify this…”

At this the party audibly groaned since Holly said the same thing. Lek smiled, “I will need help.”

She pointed to Zeetryder and Antoinette, “You two had traning in the religious arts so you’ll be of some use, the dwarf more so for his knowledge of minerals. Now someone will have to run the orphanage for me while Pip and I are in here.”

Lek grinned evilly as she looked over to the dwarf fighter and the Goliath barbarian, “You two will do it!”

……..

Malbert glared at the morning sun, “How did I get roped into this?”

A soft knock interrupted his thoughts and from behind the door was a small girl, “Hi Mista, Dwarf, will you play with me?”

“Uhhh,” The children were about to wake up and Axe had asked him to go to the kitchen, “Sorry kid I…”

The litte girl began to sniffle, Malbert sighed and place his enormous helmet on her, “You can play with that in the mean time.”

“Yay!” She sprinted down the hall and crashed into the wall and started wailing.

“For Moradin’s sake…” He trudged to the child and lift the helmet up, “Be more careful okay?”

She looked up at him in wonder and hugged him. “This is going to be a long day,” The dwarf sighed.

………..

“Tommy won’t brush his teeth!” A little boy informed Arktor, “We can’t get him out from under the bed.”

Arktor shook his head and went into the children bedroom. “Which bed?”

Tommy pointed to the one farthest from them, “That one.”

The warrior nodded and stalked over to the bed, with is huge hand he fished under the bed until he felt a head. He then proceeded to grab the child’s head and pulled him out.

The child looked at the Goliath wide eyed, “Brush your teeth,” Arktor glared and simply said.

He nodded slowly and ran to the bathroom when his feet finally touched the ground.

………

“Start with those books other there on mineral,” Lek directed and turned to Antoinette, “The books over there detail magic divine items.”

“What about me Master?” Pip asked.

“Cast spells on the stone, detail reactions of each,” Lek said back, “I’ll be looking at some scrolls for information.”

“Metalsmithers Guide to the Astral Sea by Quarion Utilthl,” Zeetryder said aloud, “Maybe something on Everdark…So tired…”

“Using Mundane Items for Vengeance by Brook Wer,” Antoinette began through the tome, “The Fork of Truth…it makes you angry…okay…Where in Pondera did she get these books?”

…….

“Uh mister barbarian?”

“Hm?” Arktor glanced at the little boy tugging at his clothes, “Susie climbed up the tree…now we don’t see her…”

He looked over at the tree in question. The massive willow tree climbed up about thirty feet and its branches hung over the wall surrounding the orphanage. Hoping for the best Arktor made his way up the tree trying his best not to fall.

On the top of the tree clung a little brown haired girl looking quite scared. Susie looked down at the ground far below her and whimpered. A rustling noise almost caused her to topple.

“Are you okay?” Arktor asked finally reaching the top relieved that she was still there.

“Nope…”

“Okay…let’s get you down…” He scooped her up with one arm and placed her on his back, “Hold on okay?”

“Okie.”

……

Malbert had dozed off in another part of the courtyard. His nap was momentarily disturbed by Donna tugging on his arm.

“Excuse me?”

“Can’t you bother Arktor?” The drowsy dwarf asked.

“He’s busy,” At that moment Arktor came charging across the courtyard with a laughing little girl on his back.

“Great…so what’s going on?”

“Billy went into the basement even though Auntie Lek said never to go in there. He said something about cool armor he saw her take down there once,” Donna explained.

“Fine I’ll go fine the little rascal,” Malbert grumbled as he walked towards the basement door.

The basement was dusty and smelled of mildew. Large white or once white sheet covered pieces of furniture and other large objects. Malbert walked through the rows and rows of antiques until he found a large suit of plate armor. He gave the once over and then peaked inside.

“Oh hi mista dwarf!” A little boy said cheerful looking up at him.

……..

“Zeetryder?” Lek called from behind a stack of books.

“What?” The paladin ground out, the old woman was really starting to get on his nerves…making him sleep deprived and all.

“Can you do to Dwila’s blacksmith and get me a few things?”

“Fine,” He said, anything to get away from her.

One trip to the blacksmith later, Lek was using the new tools that Zeetryder had acquired but they seemed like they didn’t provide the force she needed.

“Oi Zeetryder, I need you to hit this stone with your weapon.”

“Oh alright,” The paladin reluctantly took out his mordenkard.

“I’ll stand over here,” Lek inched away from the stone and went behind a bookshelf, “Swing whenever.”

He rolled his eyes and swung his weapon down. A bright light filled the room and a huge force knock the dwarf off his feet.

“Good now do it again!” Lek called from behind the bookcase.

“I hate her,” He mumbled and raised his weapon once again bringing the flat end upon the stone.

A resounding crack filled the library, but the dwarf braced himself not allowing the energy to knock him down again. When the light died down Lek left the safety of her bookcase and inspected the item. She froze…

“…I hate my life…”

…….

Lek had summoned all the adventurers into the room. She lifted up the item which was a small talon on a thin silver chain.

She explained, “I know exactly what this it. It is a God Relic called Melora’s Talon. Relics are kind of like artifacts, but there are a few differences. Relics carry much more power than an artifact and have serious after affects. I have used Melora’s Talon once, using it enables the person to have immense power channeling it makes spells a hundred times stronger, but the after affects are too dangerous. Relics are linked to a certain god. You can only use one to its full potential if you have deep ties with that god. The side affect after using the talon for a while was that Lek’s mind went into madness, I became more animal than human. It took all of my friends to knock my unconscious and place the collar on to bring me back.”

She stayed quiet for a moment, “I don’t know how this ended up near Gen. Who were you supposed to give this to?”

“Naivara Riel,” Antoinette answered.

“There is no way she can get this item. She is the worst of the Thundrom archmages! She believes that the Fey races are superior,” Lek growled.

“Well aren’t they?” Antionette asked.

At that moment several of her comrades glared at her. Lek ignored her comment, “She believes what the Eladrin king believes, that the non Fey races and the drow should be wiped out. The only reason he doesn’t do so is because he doesn’t have the power to do so.”

“If we can’t bring her the item, then how are we going to get paid?” Malbert asked, “I wasn’t attack by bandits and stinking undead to get nothing!”

“Hmm…We can use her faults against her,” Lek commented, “May I suggest we make a forgery? Reheat the metal and make a cast around say a holy symbol? I think that’ll fool her.”

A couple hours later and one forged stone later the adventurers were preparing to go on the road again.

“From what you told me there seems to be a bad seed in the Thundrom Order. I have a friend, an archmage named Perrin Silverwind. Just mention me to him and he’ll know…Tell him everything that has happened to you, but reveal nothing to Naivara. Just tell the bitch that Holly says there’s a powerful holy symbol inside,” Lek ordered.

Arktor nodded, “Of course.”

“It was nice working with all of you…good luck.”

Pip watched them as they drove off, “Master Nohk?”

“Yes?”

“This seed in the mage order sounds serious, why do trust them? Why didn’t you erase their minds?” Pip looked over at her master.

Lek sighed and leaned on the archway of the gate, “They remind me of myself and my ragtag group.”

“Do you miss the others?”

The Melora’s saint bowed her head, “Of course, but enough of that let’s attend to the children.”

…..

The day was like any other in autumn. The sky above was as blue as could be. Hours past and it seem their cloudless day would remind to be that. A hunched woman appeared in the distance walking in the same direction they were. Closer up she looked to be around sixty years old, sporting thick gray hair and rosy cheeks. A sack on her back was full and a cane clutched between wrinkled hands. When their horse caught up to her she hailed them to stop.

The old woman looked at the cart for a moment, “Where are you youngsters headed?”

“Valido,” Zeetryder said eying the grandma-like figure.

“I’m headed that way myself to my grandson Elliot’s wedding. Unfortunately my horse went missing and with this bad leg I don’t think I’ll make it on time,” The woman cocked her head, “Could I bother you for a lift? I will compensate you of course.”

“Nah, just hop on,” Malbert waved his hand.

“Thank you,can one of you help me up?”

They lent her a hand and pulled her frail figure onto the cart. She told them she was Issa Terol. While traveling she spoke about her grandson how he wasn’t that much of a man using his time to write and play music. Issa was amazed that he found a woman to marry him, but then again maybe he was feminine enough for his fiance to relate to.

Dark clouds started to roll in casting a shadow over the land . A couple seconds later it began to pour heavily. Lightning flashed in the sky spooking the horse. Issa pulled her thin cloak tighter around her, but the flimsy piece of cloth was no match for the huge water droplets. In the distance a large chateau was spotted, its windows illuminated. Desperate for warm shelter they pulled up to the house.

Malbert knocked the dark wooden door and a few seconds later a tall bald mustached man answered, “Please come in out of the rain. You can stable the horse. I am Humphrey, Lady Monique Ivy’s butler. I welcome to Ivy Chateau.”

Arktor nodded and led the poor frightened horse to the stable. The other adventurers and Issa were led to the dining hall. The dining room was beautifully decorated with golden ivy leaves that line the walls. Already seated at the table were three other people.

“Lady Ivy will be down shortly. Please be seated,” Humphrey bowed and closed the double doors.

The other people at the table introduced themselves, as Tia (the human Bahamut paladin), Javier (human cleric), and Othro (halfing rogue). They were hired by someone to go to the Wilds to find an ancient human civilization. Like them they were caught in the rain.

Five minutes later a beautiful woman with long black hair and deep green eyes walked into the dining room. She had on a simply blue evening dress with a large pink diamond necklace which Ortho eyed with great interest. She introduced herself as Lady Monique Ivy. During the course of the meal the lady spoke about herself, how her husband Vassus recently passed away, her time in Valido as an opera singer, and just any topic in general.

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