Dungeon Delvers

Chapter 7 - Eye of the Shadow Rift

Chapter 7: Eye of the Shadow Rift

Blue Sky 30 – 31

Our Heroes delve deeper into the ruins of the Dragon Spire, confronted with constructs, traps, and a ravening undead horde before entering into the final chamber, at last finding the missing scholar and his captor. Unfortunately the scholar had been reduced to no arms and only a single leg, the other foot held high in triumph by the pale gaunt teifling screeching out his devotion to the Dead Lord Vecna. With foot in hand and a ghastly green glow from his left eye socket, the tiefling vanished before their eyes, leaving the party to face against the growing green rift and the monstrous skeletal guardians. Amidst the chaos of driving back the guardians, Roxy the scholar apprentice read aloud the scroll that Sir Hektor claimed would finally close the rift. Time was fast disappearing for the vision of the Dread Lord was fast filling the rift, the details of his torn flesh becoming clearer with every moment. As Roxy spoke prepared to read the final syllables, the Vecna devotee reappeared at her side and unleashed a barrage of spells, crowing that it would be he, Klarion Witch Chylde who would ascend to godhood as the Right Hand of his Master! Unfortunately for him there was a hidden defender (Peck) who ambushed the warlock. The party dispatched the last of the Guardians and closed in on the Rift assisted Witch Chylde, nearly at the point of his defeat. With a final curse and promise on his lips, Witch Chylde threw himself into the rift as it closed one last time.

The party retreated to the shrine with Sir Hektor while the Scholar Sentarim recovers. Upon the news that the Rift has been closed at last, he will thank them and ask for one last boon if they might – to return the blade of the Empire he bore for so long back to the Emperor who now reigned. With that, Hektor will turn and walk to the corridor, the carved figures of his family cradled gently in this arm, until about three steps from the end of the room his armor clatters to the ground, empty at last or personality and purpose. There are at least three items that show as magical from the empty shell of armor that could be retrieved. Otherwise, it is there to be disposed of. The other two armor’s stand idle at the doorway to the shrine.

The party tended to the Scholar’s wounds as best they could before returning him to his people back at Kal Eisen. Awaiting them was the greater surprise of Darl Rikkerson and his adventuring party (The Orc Kill Crew) being hailed as heroes in a recent battle against the Hobgoblin Maces of Herka. Almost as surprising was the promotion of the embittered elven scout Corwin to Wandering Knight of the Gauntlets of Justice (Corwin was equally surprised).

Questions still remained – where to go from here, and more importantly, what to do with the ruins of the Dragon Spire?

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Chapter 6 - The Tomb of Shadowfell

Bluesky 30th

Coming down the stairs, the party is confronted with a single armored warrior, bearing a sword and calling out in a strange echoing voice, “The Rift must never be opened again! State your business or die!”

And so did the Party meet Sir Hektor of Keegan. At sword point, Hektor interrogated each of the Party, finding most of them to be wanting and being particularly antagonistic towards the tiefling Vashaela. Not fully convinced of their competence or intentions, Hektor ordered them to turn back before their souls were tainted by the Rift below. The words used by Jem resonated with Hektor, and he permitted the Party to rest and recover in his sanctuary, showing them the alter to an unknown dragon god (from whom sprang Tiamat and Bahamut), overshadowing the smaller family devotion shrine of Hektor’s.

Tordek briefly explored an area he suspected a secret door lay and sure enough discovered two secret rooms and a passage to the entryway. When explored later, the first revealed an enchanted black dragon scale armor as a response to a riddle (the answer being Honor or similar) and a second door. Beyond the second door lay a large crystalline dome containing a purple haze and bier with a tall humanoid of pointed features, neither elf nor human no anything previously known. Overwhelmed by impulse, Jem and Hilda reached out to the dome, hearing in their minds a voice sounding dry an ancient, asking them “Who are you”, “What do you want”, and “Is it time?”. Within the room there was posted a warning to disturb the sleeper at your own risk. Before they could answer, Sureena broke their contact and it was decided to walk away and leave sleeping arch-mages lie.

Over the night as the Party told their tale, Sir Hektor revealed his. From the Keep of Runeel, he and his fellow mage knights found themselves in a magical disaster. Knights were struck down, transforming into demons and attacking their fellow knights. The nearby mage tower exploded and fell. Most terrifying of all, beneath an ancient ruin, mages were found tampering with a rift to the Shadowfell that was unleashing waves of negative energy across the land. Within the ruins, the mage knights found themselves corrupted by the Rift. The other knights barricaded them in. By the time they regained their senses, it was too late. Hektor attempted to assemble a final line of defense from the empty armor of the fallen until he finally consigned himself to stand guard even long after his flesh had failed. Unknown to him, the event was not singular, for 1200 years ago ley lines and nexuses had responded with wild surges to the efforts of the Circle of Vecna.

Upon hearing the effects of the Shadowrift were still being found across the land, Hektor insisted on equipping the Party with arms and spells to close the Rift and perhaps return his blade to the Empire he once served.

The Party ventured further, discovering the Sleeper upstairs, gelatinous shamblers, and the reanimated desiccated corpses of Sir Hektor’s family. Choking back sorrow and horror at the sight, the Party managed to return the family to rest, restoring them to their tombs with their belongings in something as close to a Kothian burial ceremony as they could manage.

According to Sir Hektor, the Party was nearly at the Rift but warned that while it was open, there would still be many unspeakable horrors free to roam.

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Chapter 5 - From Beyond the Walls of Death

Chapter 5 – From Beyond the Walls of Death
The Party investigates the damp caves behind the secret door, managing to kill all they find in the chuul nest and drive away an acidic green ooze. They stumbled upon a secret passage that led them to what appeared to be a chapel dedicated to the Great Platinum, better known as Bahamut.

The alters (adorned with exceptional dragon statuettes of silver and platinum, appraised at being worth between 600 to 1000 gp each) spoke to the many deeds and names of Bahamut, depicting his triumph over the Mother of ten thousand monsters, gifting humans with the seeming of dragons (perhaps the origin of Dragonborn), and in his resplendence. (Mostly) following the inscribed prayer to “Kneel and offer praise” warded off the animated armor guardians of the chamber. The armors appeared to belong to an archaic time, perhaps one of the Imperial Mage Knight Legions founded by the Sorcerer Emperor Dorian I. Such legions had been responsible for the pacification of the Elven Woods but later disbanded after the Vecna Event.

Beyond the chapel the Party found a grand summoning circle surrounded by incredibly lifelike stone statues of devils perched around the room, with eyes that seemed to follow you as you passed. As unsettling as that was, it still did not forewarn the Party of the lesser summoning traps in the corridors beyond. These engraved sigils of death flared, unleashing terror and spectres and proceeded to drain many of their very life essence. Attempting to retreat to stairs leading up, it was discovered that this door was indeed the same that had been barred, chained, and marked for danger on the other side. Rallying forth behind the cleric’s upheld holy symbol, Dispatching the final specter, the party sought refuge on the stairs belong (rather than retreating and risking the summoning circles a second time).

Instead, they found a armored warrior barring their way, declaring that the Rift must not be disturbed and demanding that they declare their intentions. To be continued in … The Tomb of Secrets

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Chapter 4 - That Which is Lost May Eternal Lie

Bluesky 24th … Continued

After rescuing the enslaved minions of the Tiamat Cult, the Party retreated to relative safety of the abandoned keep.

Additional information is gathered from the survivors

  • Corwin: Previously met during trek to Kal Eisen, currently a Poor Knight of the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice. He reports that his party had been in Beryl during the Cultist attack when he had been captured. He inquired if Diedrich of Baeduex had been killed, and swore loudly at the answer of “No”. He agreed to escort the remaining survivors back to the back to Beryl, and from there possibly back to Kal Eisen.
  • Valkethys Rahksanna (Roxy): Part of the archaeological expedition to Dragon Spire, student sage to Sentarim. Despite her state of exhaustion, she insists upon accompanying the Party in the rescue of her learned master. Some ingenuity is utilized with the aid of the flying broom to transport her.
  • Elder Harcourt of Beryl: With the deaths of so many, Harcourt has found himself in the unenviable position as town spokesman. He advocates the return to Beryl, stating “Such has it always been in Beryl; we struggle for our land but it is our land.” When asked about the roaming dead in the Mad Hag’s fields, he had no direct experience but knew of tales that his own grandfather told about a neighbour who had a cousin that had seen the dead roam. To the best of his knowledge, there was no attack of the walking dead during living memory but everyone knew that it had happened long ago and ever since they had made sure to cremate their dead. As none had risen to attack them since, it was only reasonable that the burning worked.

In the depth of the night, there is heard the sound of screaming, suddenly and violently cut short.

Come the morning, wishing Corwin well on his way, the Party returns to the scene of yesterdays battle and find that one of the bodies has disappeared, that of Jehri the Red. Fearing that this is but one example of something ancient was returning. Hurriedly the remaining bodies were heaped in a funeral pyre. As the greasy smoke spread wide across the sky, the Party continued their trek to the grey mountains.

Aged stone ruins, no longer recognizable as buildings, signaled that they were drawing near. Finally they came upon a revealed bronze gate, recently exposed from beneath a massive land slide. Searching for signs of who had unearthed it yielded no clues, though Roxy described how her encampment was ambushed by the Cultists at this site some weeks ago.

Lighting torches, the Party forced their way through the bronze gate (though later investigation revealed the ornamental dragon head above the doors was found to conceal a hidden latch to unlock it). Once past the vestibule, the darkness opened up to a vast dome. The floor showed signs of massive tiles being removed and shifted about while three alcoves had signs of former statuary. (_the design was reminiscent of ancient Arkean temples _).

From the darkness came four aberrations with a single monstrous bulbous eye unleashing baleful (and necrotic) harm. Upon defeating them, the party was able to further investigate the tiles, discovering hidden draconic runes that could be arranged to spell the names of Tiamat, Bahamut, and Platinum (the honorific of Bahamut), thus unlocking a magical stair leading down below …

Exploring the lower level, the party discovered (and later eliminated) a chilling brown mold covering a ruined tapestry (possibly of Tiamat and Bahamut battling), a caved in remnant of a library (where Pek and Jem had a strange encounter with an invisible pants threat), a chained door marked with numerous warnings in ancient languages, and a scuttling homunculus (dubbed George) that responded to commands from Suryna. Commanding George to lead them to the Master, they were led to a collapsed tunnel. Despite best efforts, the materials and tools at hand did not yield success.

Then, commanding George to lead them to all the hidden doors, the tiny construct thought deeply and then dashed back to the library, disappearing into the side wall. Upon investigation, the bottom eighteen inches of the side wall proved to be an illusion. A rat transformed Hilda led Pek by leash through the darkness, finding rubble and the smell of brackish water. The side passage leading to the smell of water was adorned with an ancient warning, but before there was time to investigate further there was heard the not so distant chittering of movement, growing less distant by the moment.

Hilda fled, leading the dark blinded Pek, hearing the clattering of inhuman legs chasing after them. The dove into the secret passage, passing Tordek (who had meanwhile squeezed himself and shield through the crawlspace). Tordek saw the charging chitinous beast, about the size of a large pony but with more legs and a mouth of writhing tentacles. He managed to get his shield in front of one of the two massive claws as he scrambled back into the crawlspace, feeling the creatures fetid breath hot in his face as it scrapped and clawed through the narrow opening.

This was going to take some more thought …

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Chapter 3 - Shadows of the Dragonspire

By midday on the 24th of Bluesky the Party has made the short trek to the Spine and discovered a large excavation underway.

After brief scouting by Pek, the Party approaches, encountering minor hostility. Upon meeting the expedition leaders, Jheri (an impressive specimen of Dragonborne, unarmored but wearing a metal face mask) Thomas (robed humn, presumed mage), the response is warranted with various dangers of orc raiders and cultists known to be in the region. The sought after Sentarim is reported to be off at another site currently but is faring well. It is suggested that the matter be further discussed over a meal.

The Party remains suspicious and partakes only guardedly and proven rightfully so as the soup had been laced with a sedative. The ambush foiled, a battle is engaged with what is revealed to be cultists of Tiamat. The Party is victorious and quickly learns the truth of the matter. The diggers consist of captured people from the area including Beryl, the archaeologist’s companions, and the Gauntlet scouting party. Unfortunately many were slain by accident as the had been part of the attack, urged on while in their addled state of suggestibility by the cultists.

Valkethys Rhaksanna, one of the survivors and apprentice to Sentarim, manages to relate the truth behind what has happened so far. There is in fact a secondary site that the archaeologist Sentarim has been brought to by one of the cult leaders in an effort to unlock the secrets of the Dragon Spire and something called the Dark Rift.

The Party decides that this must be their next destination …

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Chapter 2 - Ruins of the Past

Bluesky 15th
Having escorted the survivors of Beryl to Kal Eisen, the party stays but briefly before once more taking up the quest to track down the missing archaeologists.

Hilda reconnected with Gartok
Vashaela updated the Harpers
Tordek made inquiries at the Hall of Paragons, abuzz with activity in anticipation of the five days of Zim Dien
Seryna picked up a treatise written by the missing scholar.
Pyry continued digging up what she could on the Mad Northmen

Bluesky 20th, Summer Solstice
Little had changed in Beryl during the intervening time, but for the disturbing discovery that two of the graves had been dug up, possibly from the inside.

Pek & Company discover the Beryl rumours of Roaming Dead are true! Late night encounters with a mysterious green mist and a variety of zombie / skeleton humanoids including dragonborne, an orc, an ogre, and a human cultist of Tiamat. The cursed keep appears to have been recently renovated and abandoned by a orc mercenaries. Instead, there are two manitcores who have set up a nest. Once the many toothed monstrosities were slain, the manti-kittens are put to sleep and killed as well. The loot is meager but the mages are thrilled about acquiring monster bits!

Meanwhile Peleus goes toe to toe with hobgoblins and more. More details later.

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Chapter 1 - Occurence in a Small Town
Parties collide in the pursuit of a missing scholar

Taking place from Bluesky 2 to 14th in the 3rd year of Erik of the Iron Crown

After some drunken revelry at Handsome Jimmy’s, a truce is decided upon between the rival adventuring parties in the name of pursuing greater deeds. Not so early on the 2nd of Bluesky, the merged party heads out.

Peleus remains in Kal Eisen with his own problems to solve (more later)
while the others make their way to the outpost village of Beryl, the last reported destination of the dragonborn scholar Sentarim of Clan Valkethys.

After five days of travel along a little used road to the NW, there is the faint smell of smoke suggesting that all is not right in Beryl. Upon entering Beryl, the party encountered orc raiders. However the orcs demonstrate an unexpected degree of coordination and tactics. Despite this, only a single orc managed to escape the encounter, fleeing presumably to the lumber mill outside the village.

Further investigation revealed that these orcs were a remnant of the once infamous warband of Mokk’s Mauraders before the loss of their leader and being routed at the Battle of Blackgate Pass. A leather note found on one of the orcs suggested something far more troubling – that “Mokk had risen in the East and his banner calls on you”.

The few hovels left standing were deserted and many bodies had been piled up in the town centre. Two still had the remains of the training tabarads of previously encountered Hammer of Justice poor knights.

The sturdiest building remaining was the ancient temple of the Seven. Barred from the outside and built closer to a small fortress than a place of worship, it had managed to endure the attack. The decorative statues had been broken and defaced and layers of profane graffiti in Draconic (praising Tiamat) and Infernal (rantings of Agrik), but the had still held.

Upon discovering a secret sally port, the party entered the temple and uncovered a secret bolt hole. The air was filled with a pungent goat like smell. Below it was discovered that a dozen women and children had taken refuge in the bolt hole, defended by a lone squire, Robert de Gris. Weakened but resolved, Robert threatened the party to prove that they were indeed rescuers and not just a fiendish trick of the attackers.

Once convinced, Robert told the tale of what had befallen Beryl, at least to the best of his knowledge. A small contingent of Gauntlets had been sent this way to search for a fort that had been abandoned many centuries earlier. Beryl had been the closest settlement and had served as a base of operations for them. Then the raiders came, led by a dragon lord, abducting townsfolk and pressing them into the Seven knows what. The knights had aided the townsfolk as best they could. Robert had been ordered to defend the women and children in what was deemed the safest place – the secret bolt hole. For over a week they waited for word of the victory but none came. resources had been split so thin that hardly any could remain standing much less mount a reasonable defense so the continued to hide, Richard holding faithful to the word of his knight, Deitrich of Baeduex. So weakened were they that they had not even noticed when Effie had passed.

Now rescued, the survivors were escourted back to Kal Eisen and arrived back on the 14th of Blueskies, the eve of the grand celebration of Zim Dien .

Interlude: Somewhere not far away …
A hooded elf hunches over the scene of a battle, sprinking a faint powder across the remains of looted cultists. She mutters a few words under his breath and is rewarded with a faint glow.
She is joined by a burly dragonborn bearing a great sword across his shoulders.
“Villagers confirm she was here,” he grunts. “Says she’s some kind of hero. Might even raise a statue to her. Ain’t that a hoot.”
“Makes out job all the easier then. Any mention of where she went next?”
“South. Chasing some sort of cult leader.”
“Then south we go as well.”
End Interlude …

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Chapter 10: The Gates of Kal Eisen

The heroes must decide to stay and fight or to attempt to outrace their pursuers …

Pursued by an enraged hobgoblin captain and his savage goblin worg riders, the party makes a stand against what little reamins after a pair of spike growth spells rips the charge to shreds.

Finally arriving at Kal Eisen Engineering Corps Third Work Site (future home to a Wayhouse), the party encounters an enthusiastic civil engineer, an old foe (Darl Rikkerson & company), and new faces (a work band of dragonborn). Gartok delivers a heartfelt goodbye to Hilda and the others for a vision has sent him on a quest to rescue orphan bear cubs left behind.

Working their way past two days more of road construction (but otherwise uneventful), the party arrives at the Gates of Kal Eisen. After declaring their business and getting paid by Chester and the selling of loot, there is a review of the quests that call to them.

1) Seek out the missing Dragonborn Elder Zhanterim and the site of ancient power
2) The Legacy of Binwin Bronzebeard
3) Explore the Deep Roads beneath Kal Eisen.
4) Return to the Goblin Caves

And then the King sent them a summons …

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Chapter 9: Fury of the Worg Riders

From the 22nd to the 24th of Stormsfury, Kingdom of Eisengard

Synopsis
The heroes confront the remains of the Firefangs, and drive off what flees too fast to kill. Among the looted goods they discover a map detailing other possible location of evil’s footholds in Eisengard. The victory is short lived for within two days the Firefangs return with reinforcements and the worgs riders are closing fast.

Detailed
Chapter 9:
Wherein our Heroes press on, killing their enemies, driving them from their mountain lair, and hearing the parting threats of the hobgoblins.
Delivering a mighty blow with not only the slaughter of all but a handful of goblins but the death of Rictus, Cultist of Agrik, they come across a map showing that this is far more an organized assualt than earlier suspected.

Following back the trail, they gain further signs of something abominable dwelling in the region, finding a gutted black bear near the path. After some discussion, it is agreed upon that it is a matter for another time and that they needed to return to a defensible posistion before the goblins made good on their promise to return and in greater numbers.

Returning to the caravan, they managed two more days of cautious travel before they were visited by the results of the Firefang massacre. With a sudden burst of birds from the underbrush, in the far distance a horde of worg riders came approaching at speed. Driving them with fury, the clamour of drums and horns and the might of their warlord upon his chariot. Sign of dwarf markers suggest that help should be near, but will be it near enough? To be continued …

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Chapter 8: The High Road

Summary
Once more Our Heroes or on the road, potentially finding new allies within the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice and new enemies as they are ambushed by goblin worg riders. Tracking the riders back to their lair, they suspect that there might be more behind these attackers.

Details
Time Frame: Deepstorm, more specifically beginning on Kingday, the 16th Day of Stormfury

Characters
Myrtle penetient knight and cleric to Themes
Bella, Corwin, Fritz (penetient knights)
Ariel (Elf scout)
Jack Montrey (Teamster)
Morin, Ox, Hymni, Deever (disgruntled dwarf hired guards)
Knight Captain Stefan (former Champion)
Knight Sergeant Alaric (right hand to the Knight Captain)
Wandering Knight Kevin ‘Mac’ MacArghul (Skald)

16 Storms: Leave Lakeshore but within hours caught in seasonal downpour
17 Storms: Arrive at Vordergrund Castle (currently serving as a chapterhouse to the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice but mostly jsut referred to as Storm Chapterhouse)
18 Storms: Resume journey, dwarf guards have been replaced by poor knights of the order
21 Storms: Evening is shattered by a goblin ambush. Though routed, the goblins have inflicted enough harm to delay the journey by at least another day
22 Storms: The heroes leave their caravan to the protection of the poor knights while they further pursue the trail of the goblins and worgs to their foul lair.

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