The Age of Awakening

Adventure 13: The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge

Through the dark portal, the party found themselves in a massive and ancient ruins of a temple once dedicated to Orcus, entirely carved from polished black stone and cluttered with ornately terrifying sculptures and statues all seeming to move in the dim shadows of Istarya's magical light. An encompassing feeling of melancholy fell upon the party, as the atmosphere of the Shadowfell flowed through them, they noticed that even the brightest torches and lights only dimly illuminated the world around them. Several sets of humanoid tracks going in and out of the temple cluttered around Modra's small pair leading from the portal through the doors of the temple, and a large set of dragon tracks that stopped shortly through the portal as if the beast took flight. Outside, a grey dirt road wound through a grim countryside beneath a roiling sky of dark clouds shrouding the sun beyond.

Bare trees grasped towards the dim sky, and only a few stray crows flew about on a cool, distant breeze. Far off in the distance ahead, a large settlement could be seen with a large tower on one side and a collection of mountains spewing lava on the other. Beneath the tower a large foundry could be seen spanning the river of lava, covered in chimneys billowing smoke into the sky.

[[Image:umbraforge_image.jpg]]

As the party neared the shanty-like settlement beneath the tower, a pair of dark one scouts called out to them from the cover of the grass. Believing the party to be mercenaries, they chided them for being so far outside of the camps, but were surprised to find the party were not mercenaries at all. Warning them to not go any closer to the settlement, called Umbraforge, they threatened the party would be killed if they were seen again. Waiting for the scouts to continue on, the party ventured discreetly into the sprawling huts and make-shift buildings finding several merchant squares, mercenary training grounds, and a fenced off slave prison.

The party split up, several members searching for equipment amongst the merchants while Teodora took the the closest tavern to get a drink. Istarya found himself talking to the troll merchant, Ninyo, a noble purveyor of frost weapons. Teodora became fast friends with the minotaur Minos, sharing their joy for beer and a few laughs. Gwrtheyrn decided to visit one of the mercenary training grounds, and strong-armed a puny human into giving up some information that a dragon had been seen (possibly with a rider on its back) flying towards the volcanic mountains, called the Shadow Rift. The party quickly learned that Umbraforge and the tower were the domain of the shadar-kai arms dealer named Sarshan, and that he was not currently in Umbraforge due to a large force moving out several days ago.

Deciding to follow Klar and the dragon, the party began the long climb up the mountains towards the Shadow Rift itself, climbing around a large fissure in the path, and sneaking passed a pair of sleeping shadar-kai guards. The mountains were shaken regularly by tremors from the Shadow Rift, a seemingly unstable connection to the Elemental Chaos that was threatening to destroy the mountains and all of Umbraforge. At the top they found a cave lit by lava, with a shadar-kai portal along one wall and a precipice on the far end on top of which sat a very large, cracked egg with a familiar looking sword sticking out of it. The sword appeared to be a twin sword of the Sword of Julunggul, and the egg was clearly that of a dragon and pulsing with energy.

Below the precipice, on a ledge just above the flowing lava, lay the body of Kalseru the blue dragon seemingly dead. As the party debated a course of action, and a few failed attempts at pulling the sword out of the egg, the portal activated and to their surprise Klar and Modra came running through. Looking quite shocked, Klar claimed he was coming there to remove the sword from the egg, an action which Lel took on himself to complete. As the fiery sword was removed from the egg, its shell crumbled apart and a large red dragon flopped to the ground, its eyes slowly opening.

As it climbed to its feet and stretched, it claimed to be quite tired and ready to get some exercise, deciding to kill everyone in the room seemingly for fun. As Julunggul attacked, Klar promised he would help fight the dragon and then surrender to the party if they stopped attacking him, while Modra attempted to flee but was stopped by collapsing rocks as the cave entrance was closed by a tremor from the rift. Modra fled back through the portal, while the party and Klar fought bitterly against Julunggul while the cavern around them crumbled and slowly filled with lava.

After killing the dragon and Lel taking a claw from it as a trophy, the party fled through the only exit available, the shadar-kai portal. Finding themselves in a lush garden within the crumbling tower of Umbraforge, the party discovered several dead orc bodies with their faces painted black. Istarya identified them as members of the Black Mask Orc tribe, a once grand tribe from the north-east near Ithacarus, and discovered a letter on one of the bodies detailing plans to exchange training and orc troops for shadar-kai weapons. Around the garden were four portals, one to the Rift which the party had entered through, one overgrown and seemingly out of use, one leading to what appeared to be a small and dark room, and the other to an unrecognized but familiar location.

Branching out from the central part of the tower were several abandoned libraries and laboratories, filled with notes on biological and magical experiments being performed in the foundry using slaves and mercenaries. Exploring one of the labs, Lel found an unconcious human who had crawled up from the lower levels of the tower, who Carric and Teodora quickly recognized as the missing priest from Portalis named Piotr. Fearing orcs, shadow-goblins, and shadar-kai still running around the lower levels of the tower, the party took Piotr and fled through the familiar portal in the garden. Each member of the party found themselves floating alone in a starry expanse, a dim horizon visible in the distance and absolute silence all around.

A feeling washed over them as if moving incredibly fast but still standing still, as if their body and soul were being pulled in opposite directions. Suddenly aware of an imposing presence from behind, they could feel a large mass close but infinitely far away, and looking over their shoulder they were stunned to see a gigantic amorphous sphere of reflective black liquid emitting a faint humming sound. Slowly their minds filled with strange and maddening whispers, a cacophony of screams and insanity, as a black streak cleaved through the center of the spherical mass.

Slowly spreading apart, like a pair of dark liquid eyelids, they revealed a something like a gigantic alien eye peering downward at them, still floating alone in the starry expanse. As the eye affixed on them, visions congealed in their minds. They saw Royal Lesandrian troops marching into the town of Portalis. They saw ships with dark sails, hulls and prows carved in ornate patterns, cutting through vicious waves on the open sea. Istarya witnessed the very passage of time coming to an aburpt end, cut short by an unseen force. The sound of a cackling man could be heard in the distance. Carric witnessed his home town, Andonental, occupied by Serathis' army as he left it but expanding in all directions turning forests into city squares and the entire bay belonging to the empire. Teodora witnessed her god Pelor's body slumped lifeless upon a rock, pinned by a spear held by the cloaked and helmed form of the god Bane, standing triumphantly atop the dead god.

Lel witnessed his mentor Merzim, hurt and curled up on a stone prison floor, and then being consumed by Vlaakith a second time. Gwrtheyrn witnessed the temple of Bahamut where he was found, including all of the priests who raised him, wreathed in flames and then the temple collapsing into a pile of rubble. Nox witnessed the largest hobgoblin tribe ever assembled as slaves to orc masters, all bowing to a large orc chieftain wearing a black suit of armor covered in spikes. McGwyver witnessed his sister Mercedes imprisoned, then on trial in a Tarturian court being sentenced and put to death.

As the visions faded, the party found themselves all together again standing just outside of Portalis, with no portal visible anywhere around them. As their eyes adjusted to the morning light, a loud thunder sounded overhead and a shadow swept over the land, created by a large Tarturian airship flying towards the center of town escorted by several smaller airborne vessels. From the opposite direction, formations of gryphons flying Sartean banners could be seen flying into Portalis. The diplomats had arrived.

Rewards:
1,150xp – Teodora, Istarya, Carric, Lel, and Gwrtheyrn
214xp Quest – Nox Arg'Belkord and McGwyver
???gp

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Adventure 12: The Ruins of Fell Keep, Part 2

Taking a short rest beneath the glowing platinum dragon fresco above, you all feel protected and strengthened by the god's spiritual presence. Down the hall, passed the rows of aged and crumbling sarcophagi, low groans rumble with a cool chill. The vines and cave flowers that have overgrown the ruins over hundreds of years is turning a putrid brown and rotting everywhere except in the old tomb in which you rest. For long years Fell Keep rested a deep slumber, but now something has ruptured in its depths and the long lost denizens of this old human bastion are stirring once more.

The old, carved altars to Bahamut frame a set of double doors at the end of the tome, above which a stone inscription written in an abandoned form of common reads, "Here Lies Sir Keegan, _ _", the last two words have been broken and are unintelligible.

Recap: The party awoke while resting in the tomb after only three hours and found themselves fully refreshed. They decided to explore the crypt behind the double doors, finding a large stone sarcophagus with a metal crown set into it. After searching the rest of the room, Carric pointed out the crown and once it was touched a deep voice filled the room.

It presented a riddle to the party: A wondrous treasure, Valued by all, sought by many. Found in both victory and defeat, Yet never at the bottom of a treasure chest. It marches before you like a herald, And lives long after you are gone. Of what do I speak?

The Phylactery of Divinity melded out of the sarcophagus, and was claimed by Teodora. Also in the room several old records were found detailing the history of the keep from hundreds of years ago and Sir Keegan as the once protector of the keep driven mad, and of a group of adventurers coming through the keep about 300 years ago, making a promise to Sir Keegan's Ghost, and ridding the keep of its taint. Passed the rune-floored halls, the party journeyed down a set of stairs to the lower level of the ruins. At the bottom they found themselves in a room with an old well at the center, and a dim light shed by large mushrooms growing all around the well.

The fungi were identified as Doomspores which give off a poisonous cloud, and the party set off to avoid them around the room. As Nox and Teodora approached the back of the room, an emaciated hobgoblin body slumped out from a hallway in the back. Shortly afterward the black, shadowy form of a Wraith raised out of the goblin's body, followed closely by three other wraiths one of which whispered madly. After dealing with the Wraiths, the party moved forward and found old living quarters inhabited by shadar-kai and Dark One laborers.

A large room further along revealed what they were working on, the construction of a shadar-kai portal to an unknown location. Talking to some of the workers, the party discovered that Modra had been taken captive by a group of shadar-kai that was hunting him, working for a mysterious and unnamed boss, and was taken further into the depths of the ruins. The workers also revealed that their boss deals in the trafficking of arms, weapons, and mercenaries to various destinations including armies of undead and elementals.

The party decided to follow Modra and come back to deal with the portal at a later time. Proceeding through a room full of traps apparently destroyed by a large reptilian creature much like a dragon, the party came to the upper portion of an ancient temple dedicated to Orcus complete with altars and chains down to a lower temple. Around the opening to below the party spotted a pile of dead bodies, some shadar-kai and dark ones and two black hounds wreathed in shadow. On one of the shadar-kai bodies a note was found, "''Modra thinks we did not notice the visitor coming from the old Temple, he attempts to secure his own profits, deal with him as necessary.''"

The bodies appeared to be burned and gnawed upon. Blood from the bodies was dripping down to the floor below, where a humanoid form could be seen lumbering through the dim light from above. The party climbed down the chains to and into a shallow pool of blood in the unlit room, finding a large statue of Orcus, a dark portal with the Sword of Julunggul floating in the center of its surface, and a skeleton slumped against an altar.

The skeleton rose to its feet, speaking in an old form of common, and threatened the party to leave before removing the skull from its neck which then burst into dark purple flames and floated into the air cackling. The party found themselves surrounded by ghouls, a Wight, the skeleton with pieces of metal and bone protruding from its body, and the flaming shadow skull in the air above. While Gwrtheyrn and Lel were being tackled and chewed on by ghouls, Istarya cleverly grabbed hold of the Sword of Julunggul and stepped through the feywild, removing the sword from the portal which caused its surface to solidify into obsidian. Using the sword's lightning powers, the party managed to eliminate the undead.

Teodora took to destroying the altars and tributes to Orcus, hoping to cleanse the place of evil. Istarya and Lel arranged for Nox to scare off the Shadar-kai workers while Istarya sabotaged the portal under construction, disguising it in the hope that they would not notice. After casting a Magic Circle vs. Shadow Creatures and Arcane Lock to protect the portal room, the party except for Nox replaced the sword and entered the dark portal into the Shadowfell.

Rewards:
937xp – Gwrtheyrn, Istarya, Lel, Teodora, and Nox
737xp – Carric * 100xp Quest – McGwyver
???gp
Phylactery of Divinity – Teodora
Bracers of Mental Might – Teodora

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Adventure 11: The Ruins of Fell Keep

Morning in Winterhaven, the party went to the keep of Lord Padraig and questioned him about hobgoblins, dragons, and the safety of the town's etherium. They then investigated the etherium tower, known as Old Valthrun's Tower, and found that everything seemed to be normal in this town with no signs of tampering with the Etherium, followed by an altercation with Rob the soldier in the tower.

The party made sure to inform the captain of the guard, Rond, of what has been happening in Fallheim and Portalis and to be on the lookout. Hearing stories of an old man outside of town who claimed to see a dragon the day before, the party went to his farm and talked with him finding out that he believed he saw a dragon flying to the north of Winterhaven towards the old keep ruins. He asked the party, if they were to go into the ruins, to make a map for him as he used to explore there as a child and would love to relive those days.

The party explored the ruins and found tracks belonging to a large creature leading down an old staircase into the ground. Following the tracks, the party entered the long abandoned and moldy ruins to find rooms filled with bodies of dead hobgoblins. Exploring around, they discovered a group of surviving hobgoblins holed up in a back room. Nox entered and tricked the goblins into marching out into Istarya's fireball and all chaos broke loose. 

The party discovered two prisoners the hobgoblins had captured after suffering heavy loses, a small gnome-like dark creeper creature named Modra and a pale skinned, dark-eyed shadar-kai with a spiked chain. Claiming to own the castle ruins, Modra agreed to lead the party deeper into the ground to find the dragon-rider they were after. After entering a series of a trapped narrow corridors, Modra and the shadar-kai fled out of fear as zombies and a gelatinous cube attacked the party. The cube was bloodied in one round, confused, and slithered off in the wrong direction while the zombies beat up on the party. Gwrtheyrn made chase of the cube and ended up running right into it, causing Lel to teleport the cube onto himself and a chillborn zombie. Yum yums! 

Exploring deeper into the ruins, the party discovered a long abandoned temple dedicated to the Platinum Dargon, Bahamut, and rested safe from the undead for the night.

Rewards:
657xp – Carric, Lel, Gwrtheyrn, Teodora, Istarya, Nox, and McGwyver
415xp – Teodora

???gp

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Adventure 10: From the Ashes

Prelude: You all get back to the eastern side of Fallheim and meet up at the tavern to talk and drink (feel free to keep that thread going, people can enter/leave the tavern whenever and talk about whatever they like in there). Meeting with Theodore briefly, he orders himself a drink but seems to be both excited and upset. At your questions about restoring Dark Etherium, he lowers his head a bit, "Not exactly, I've somehow managed to change a small amount of the Dark Etherium to an inert state. It apperas like any other non-magical crystal, but it is definitely not what we know as regular Etherium. It no longer eminates the dark, necrotic-arcane energies that it appears originate with Dark Etherium, but I am unsure if I will be able to complete the process of reversal." Outside of the tavern, hiding in one of your rooms on the upper level of the Inn, Slink the kobold strums a serenade on a very small but finely crafted lute as he chitters an old draconic song.

He offers you all his services as an alchemist, it turns out he's quite skilled in it, and can concoct select potions and mixtures if provided with raw materials or gold to account for their cost. (I will have a list soon of items that may be purchased from Slink) The Fallheim Soldiers eventually come to notify Istarya that Captain Justinian has sent for him, the hobgoblin prisoners are being taken to a cell beneath the keep and he'd like Istarya to eavesdrop on them and hopefully they can learn what they know without resorting to interrogation right away.

Recap: Returning from the Western Tower, the party found Captain Justinian who informed them that some hobgoblin prisoners were found, that Klar had surrendered himself to them back when he was taken prisoner, and that Theodore had succeeded on reverting Dark Etherium. Gwrtheyrn heads off to investigate the hobgoblin prison that was found, sees some hobgoblin prisoners being pulled towards town, and finds a pile of magic weapons left in the building, while the rest of the party returns to the Inn. Lel and McGwyver spent time investigating the properties of Dark Etherium and a piece of Inert Etherium that Theodore had managed to convert from Dark Etherium.

Meanwhile, at the request of Captain Justinian, Istarya heads to the keep prison and eavesdrops on the four Hobgoblin prisoners that were found left behind by the army. 

At the highest point in the town of Fallheim, the Moonstone Keep sits overlooking the surrounding lands above the town's defensive walls. Beneath the keep, in a large prison cell a few down the row from where Klar was held, two hobgoblin prisoners crowd around the slumped form of an unconcious hobgoblin and whisper to each other in the goblin language. The fourth is also unconcious, but sitting upright against the wall.

Two guards stand watch, one next to the cell and the other further down the hall, standing next to Istarya who listens intently…

?: "I think they drugged him Bax, he will not wake for days…"
Bax: "Possible, but why?"
?: "To throw us off, make us think he gone sick or dying. Bet they come and offer to help him if we make friendly! They tricksy like that, humans."

Bax: "Nox and Mar both? You are paranoid, they not breathing like they poisoned."
???: "Okay, smart gobbo, what you think they do? Why put here and guard us? We been tortured plenty by bastard gobbos following that damned Dragon! All we wanted do is leave this place and find own home, stealing home from humans no seem right to us…"

Bax: "Quiet Wogg, Nox is moving…"
Wogg: "You think they just going to leave us here?"
Bax: "No." some rustling can be heard in the cell "Look…"
Wogg: "Nox! We thought they drugged you…"
Nox: "Urrrgh…my head… killing me… where…where hell are we? This not look like prison but I am still chained."

Wogg: "We in the human prison now, they came in and took all the humans away first, now they moved us here."
Bax: "Gobbos and dragonlings too."
Wogg: "Yea, from what we saw on way over here they took them prisoner too. Good thing, weakling usurper dragonlings deserve death!"

A faint scraping sound of wood against metal can be heard inside the cell
Wogg: "What we do, Nox?"
Nox: "First thing first, how is it we became unconscious, is Mar okay? Next we must figure out way to prove to humans that we are friendly to them and on their side before we even try to get them to notice us."
Bax: "Mar is out cold."

Wogg: "We were in prison cell when word spread outside that someone was assaulting the tower. Before we knew it a wave of energy flashed through the camp, and everything went black. Bax woke me afterward, all the traitors had left. Then humans came in, there was one armored dragonblooded with them, we carried you and Mar with us they led us by their spears to this Keep. It looks like all tribes left in hurry, good riddance!"

Nox: "They will not believe us unless we can help them, or prove to them our worth and our word."

The scraping sound stops ubruptly, there is a sound of wood clattering against the wall
Bax: "They won't believe us."
Nox: "Patience Bax, only a calm mind will work. We have to think like fox, not like badger. Acting like the badger will get us no where, especially without our gear, do you guys know where they put it since the traitors had it thrown in the corner? We must think, what do we have that can be of use to the humans? Or what do we know that can help them trust us? Think damn it!"

The cell goes quiet as the three goblins seem to rest and ponder their discussion, eyeing the guards wearily.

Lel & Istarya strike a deal with Nox Arg-Belkord to help them track the fleeing Hobgoblins from his tribe. Gwrtheyrn returns with Nox's equipment from the prison and gives it to him.

Lel talks to Captain Justinian about plans to keep the town safe in the future, and asks if he trusts the Serathis Heralds. Justinian does not trust them, but he fears they may have no choice. 

The party goes to Theodore's tower and learns that he has been testing Etherium, and has managed to change Dark Etherium to some sort of inert state of "Neutral" Etherium, but that he cannot change it back to the way it was. The party is given horses by the Fallheim guards and head out to the north-west, towards Winterhaven and the path that Klar took on the red dragon.

Two days later the party catches up with the hobgoblins camping a few hours to the south and west of Winterhaven, they spot more camp fires across the road in the ruins of an old, haunted abbey. Observing one of the remote camps of hobgoblins, the party spots a group of kobolds watching the goblins also. Sneaking through the camp, the kobolds seem to be trying to rob the camp but are caught and an alarm is raised amongst the goblins. The party joins the fray, taking out the hobgoblins, goblins, bugbears, and kobolds all at once.

Arriving in Winterhaven the group finds a small farming village with rudimentary defense and a small piece of etherium overhead so that they can safely rest for the remainder of the night.

Rewards:
761xp – Carric, Lel, Gwrtheyrn, Teodora, Istarya, McGwyver, and Nox Arg-Belkord

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Adventure 9: Invasion of the Western Tower

The next morning, the party came downstairs to the main level of the inn to find the innkeeper in a rising argument with the heralds of Serathis. The strangers seemed very upset about the exotic claw hanging on the wall, which the Innkeeper purchased from a merchant less than two months earlier, claiming that it could not be real and that it was some kind of sick joke. When pressed by the party, the heralds would rather let the discussion go than explain it. The Party met up with Klar who began to lead them up to the keep, letting them stop along the way to buy some supplies.

Leading them down through the cell block where he was held prisoner, through an old unused door at the end of the hall and down a spiral stone staircase, the party finds a series of caves beneath the keep. After several turns through the labyrinthine caves, they eventually came to an open cavern with flowing water, where they spotted a pair of bulettes netted to the ceiling with vines. As they approached, several crazed Sahuagin jumped out of the water and attacked.

After dispatching the fish-men and cutting down the bulettes, the party splits up onto the beasts and begins the awkward burrowing trip towards the Western Tower. Arriving into the sewers, the party found themselves split up and separated by barred off tunnels. Using a series of switches, fending off some rampant kobold groups, and avoiding some devious traps, the party makes their way through the sewer maze and to a set of stairs up to a storage room within the tower.

At some point in the sewers, McGwyver's latest experiment was discovered as he was birthed from the Bag of Holding wearing a pair of makeshift goggles and a seemingly normal snorkel, claiming he'd lost something and had to look for it. Capturing the last kobold, named Slink, the party bribes him with silver pieces "more valuable and shiny than gold", to run up through the storage room and distract the hobgoblins above.

Slink runs off to his task. Shortly afterward, the party ascends the staircase and finds Slink was true to his word, a game of Goblin-Durok appeared to have been abandoned at a table in the storage room. Carric and Istarya quickly snuck out the door, finding a large hall filled generously with chest-high walls and regular Hobgoblin soldiers patrolling around, with a locked door to the upstairs balcony not far away. Slink had tipped them off that the key was stored in a desk on the far end of the hall, but Istarya first attempted to hide behind some crates and pick the lock.

While Carric remained well hidden, Istarya was spotted from above and had to flee back into the storage room. As time passed, the pair of hobgoblins who had been playing cards returned to the room, causing the party to hide except for Istarya polymorphed to look like a Hobgoblin, using a Comprehend Languages ritual he was able to understand goblin but not speak it. Acting as a mute but tough Hobgoblin, Istarya managed to challenge and beat both of them at cards, earning himself some money and encouraging them to return to their posts rather than lose more money.

Afterward, Istarya patrolled out into the hall and managed to sneak his way to the desk, obtain the key, and return to the door allowing the rest of the party to sneak upstairs unseen. Up another set of stairs, the party came to the upper room of the tower, finding themselves behind a large throne with three kobolds around it, being addressed by a group of Hobgoblins holding Slink as a prisoner, and claiming that he was telling them the sword the kobolds were using didn't do what they claimed.

The head kobold, Grizbun Klurbin III, offered proof in summoning a young blue dragon named Kalseru down from the rafters. The party joined the fray, using an Arcane Springboard to leap up the stairs and get the jump on the kobolds. After a lengthy fight, the hobgoblin commander managed to kill Grizbun, steal the sword, and teleport to the throne laughing victoriously.

At that moment, his chest was pierced by a familiar bronze blade, and his body slumped to the side as Klar snatched the Sword of Julunggul. With a smile, a nod, and some quick thanks Klar touched the sword to Kalseru's snout, causing her scales to flare out and slowly ripple to red instead of blue. Finding themselves faced with a Red Dragon, the party watched as Klar jumped atop the dragon and flew through the roof and into the distance.

Looking out from the top of the tower over the ruined town of Fallheim, the Hobgoblin army could be seen retreating from the town in the direction that Klar and the dragon flew, and for the first time in months things started looking up for Fallheim.

Rewards:
740xp – Carric, Lel, Gwrtheyrn, Teodora, Istarya, and Rex
690xp – McGwyver
890gp + 30sp in Poker winnings (Istarya)

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Adventure 8: The Herald and the Sword

The sun was setting over Fallheim as the Heralds of Serathis arrived through the northern gate. Greeted in the main square by the Lord Warden and a procession of townspeople, the Heralds announced that their lord, Serathis, was on his way to Fallheim with a detachment of two hundred soldiers.

The herald's mission is to make sure the town is relatively secure, and to report back if the town is amenable to joining the Empire of Serathis and accept his protection. After talking to the Lord Warden briefly, the heralds are questioned by the party and then head to the inn to await the Lord Warden's answer. Theodore filled the party in on his plan to remove the Dark Etherium from the lower part of town, he planned to teleport it into a contained area near the wizard's tower, but he needed Istarya to set up the teleportation circle around the Dark Etherium which would take almost an hour to complete.

The party sought as much help as they could get in this task, enlisted the eager heralds to help them out and prove their good will towards the town, as well as negotiating for Klar's release from prison to assist them. The party, plus the three heralds and Klar, headed passed the barricades and towards the ruins of the old tower and cathedral upon which the Etherium used to rest. Fortifying the ruins, the party defended against waves of Gnolls, Hobgoblins, and lastly an Otyugh feasting upon the refuse around the Dark Etherium and a Vine Horror spawned from a captive Hobgoblin.

Eventually the ritual was completed, Istarya along with everyone else and the Dark Etherium were all teleported back to the safe part of Fallheim. Lel teleported an Otyugh onto a bear trap which suddenly became an Otyugh trap. It was freakin' sweet. After the whole ordeal, and free of his prison cell, Klar filled the party in on his plans to get the Hobgoblin forces out of the town, by attacking the Wester Tower and taking out the Kobold chieftan in possession of a magical artifact known as the Sword of Julunggul.

Rewards:
625xp – Carric, Lel, Gwrtheyrn, McGwyver, and Rex
100xp – Istarya (quest) * +1xp – Lel (free pizza for DM)

Loot:
??? gp

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Adventure 7.5: Alles ist Klar - Part 2

After being attacked at the Inn, resting overnight, and then handling the situation at the bridge to the western edge of town, Istarya, Gwrtheyrn, Teodora, and McGwyver are met up with at the bridge by Carric, Lel, and Rex. Teodora and McGwyver head back to the Inn to heal the sick and continue their work there. While still cleaning up the mess at the bridge, another Hobgoblin assault appears at the far end, a unit of soldiers with a macetail behemoth ridden by a Hobgoblin drummer ahead of them.

The ranks of goblins were decimated by a well placed force orb from Istarya's wand, revealing the Bugbear warrior hiding amongst their ranks who then charges forward. The hobgoblins and bugbear were dispatched while Rex and Carric worked on subduing the macetail behemoth and calming it down, Rex rode on its back as it kicked the hobgoblin commander over the bridge and into the Sahuagin waiting below. Wishing to interrogate the Githyanki prisoner, Lel and Istarya meet with Lord Warden Fabin Markelhay and discuss many of the matters involving Fallheim and eventually arrange a meeting with the prisoner named Klar.

They are joined by McGwyver and quickly discover that Klar seems to be suffering from a similar affliction to the one that Lel has, but to a much worse extent, his body and face are covered in large blue glowing cracks and scars. He appears to have been mildly abused Klar informs them that the accounts of his mind controlling townspeople are exaggerated, and that he was wrongfully imprisoned. He hints to them that he has a plan for saving the town, and is convinced by Istarya and Lel that if he helps them they will arrange for him to be let out of prison.

Klar informs them that the Gnolls who live outside of Fallheim are not the same as the ones that are inside of the town now, ravaging and killing everything they can get their paws on, and that the Dark Etherium might be responsible for the change. Istarya and the others visit the Wizard's tower at the southern edge of the safe part of town and talk to Theodore. Istarya mentions that Etherium fell from the sky, which surprises everyone, but Theodore considers him to be out of his mind.

As the party came back to the center square of town, a procession of people had gathered around the north gate as three figures rode in on large, black, and exotic looking horses carrying a white banner with a strange looking beast on it. Their saddles and armor were all jet black, with intricate and ornate detailing in swirling patterns and almost runic inscriptions.

While their leader, an elf with a shaved head and curving tatoos all around his head, looked quite odd the other two appeared relatively normal looking. It was at this point that Carric noticed the beast on the banner had very similar claws to the one he had seen in the merchant Samuel Tindell's wagon back in Portalis.

Rewards:
250xp – Carric, Lel, Rex
525xp – Istarya and Gwrtheyrn
275xp – Teodora and McGwyver

Loot:
2 Healing Potions
435 gp (87gp each)

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Adventure 7: Alles ist Klar - Part 1

The party settles in to their room at the Silver Moon Inn, and the downtrodden town of Fallheim finally feels as if it has gone quiet, but faint red light still flickers through the windows from fires down the cliffs and across the river. Carric and Rex turn uneasily in their beds, unable to shake the feeling that they are still in danger. Carric, Lel, and Rex all take to a room in the Inn to rest, while the others take a room across the hall.

Only a few hours into the night Carric wakes up to sounds of someone or something on the roof above their room. Looking out the window, the elven ranger spots goblins climbing the side of the Inn attempting to hide (and failing), while Rex attempts to reach the other members of the party. In the hall outside of the room, Rex sees a group of Hobgoblins swing down through the window at the end of the hall, and others coming up the stairs at the other end of the hall. Trapped!

At the same time, Carric and Lel were attacked by a Bugbear Strangler from the roof of the Inn who then swung into the room. The three heroes managed to quickly dispatch all of the hobgoblins, goblins, and the bugbear and after noticing their friends had also had to fight off an attack, found a safe place to rest for the remainder of the night. The following morning, the three awoke to the sounds of fighting outside and quickly noticed that both the nearby bridge to the Western (Hobgoblin) part of town and the barricade to the south were seemingly under attack.

After a discussion of optimal tactics, it was decided that Istarya, Gwrtheyrn, McGwyver, and Teodora were better suited to handle the bridge and so Carric, Lel, and Rex headed south towards the barricade. The barricade to the south, along the cliff separating the lower part of Fallheim infested with Gnolls from the upper portion, had been breached and a handful of Gnolls were attacking townspeople and being fought back slowly by a few guards.

As they approached and began to deal with the monsters, a second group of Gnolls lead by a particularly large and mean looking one burst through the remnants of the barricade and began killing everything in sight. After a vicious battle, Carric, Lel, and Rex emerged victorious with the help of the man they had rescued the day before, who turned out to be the town's resident Wizard named Theodore.

Rewards:
666xp – Carric, Lel, Rex

Loot:
2 Healing Potions
135 gp
Ruby Gem (worth 100gp)

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Adventure 6: A Fallen Fallheim

The party rested at the Inn in Portalis. Istarya disappeared for a short time and returned without the magical stone/eye that was found beneath the Castle of Artegia.

Neuwoch – Day 14 of Avanrdil, in the year 874

In the morning, Teodora met with the new head priest Father Jaelin who seemed reluctant but happy to lend them enough horses for them to travel to the town of Fallheim. They set out to the north-east, and just outside of town spotted a small camp destroyed with humanoid corpses strewn about. Some of the corpses were humans and dwarves, exploded and diseased by goblin poisoned weapons, while the rest of the bodies were cut, torn, and clawed up goblins.

Beneath a dwarf's dead body Carric discovered some strange, unfamiliar fruit with a spikey outer shell and the strange smell of decay, along with a Bag of Holding which contained a satchel with more of the fruit. Teodora hastily decided to bite into a piece of the fruit, choking on the noxious dust and juices that spilled out of it with a disgusting smell of death. Shortly afterward the ground began to rumble, the party made a hastey retreat as Teodora washed off her tunic, and behind them noticed as a pack of Kruthiks attacked the area where the fruit had been eaten.

Carric then recognized it as the rare fruit called Kruthorn, known for growing where a large amount of Kruthiks have been slain. The hard outer shell smells of the region in which it grows, and repels the creatures, while the inner fruit exudes unique pheromones which attract Kruthiks from exceedingly long distances. The party then set out on the three day journey towards Fallheim, passing through and resting in two small towns along the way.

By the evening of Tenwoch, Day 16 of Avandril, the party was nearing the town. Carric noticed that the stars in the sky directly ahead were blotted out, and as they crested the hill they realized it was a great pillar of billowing smoke which split the sky. The town of Fallheim lay down the hill before them, split across the middle by large cliffs and cut in half by a swift flowing river which tumbled down the cliffs in great falls. The entire lower portion of the town was alight with flames amongst ruins and tattered remains of civilization, the same for the north-west portion of the upper part of the town, split from the other upper areas by the river and only connected by one bridge.

The eastern, upper part of town was not ablaze and clearly showed signs of inhabitants, but the whole town was buzzing with life…just not all meaning well. The party sneaks through the ruined walls into the lower region of Fallheim, coming upon a lone Gnoll gnawing on a bone and striking him down with arrows before he could let out a cry for help. From a hiding place behind some debris and buildings they watch as a group of gnolls gather, drag a helpless villager amidst the group and proceed in a wild frenzy of feasting to tear the villager to pieces.

As the pack of beasts is distracted, Carric attaches a pod of Kruthorn to an arrow and fires it nearby the pack of feasting gnolls, then the group scurries off towards the cliffs dividing the town. As they progress through town they spot an open field that used to be a market square, only now it is burnt and covered in rubble with crude iron cages strewn about it. The party notices a few gnolls walking about the square, and to their surprise it appears that there are living people in some of the cages. Using ghostsound, Istarya distracts the gnolls while the party hurries in and rescues the three people, two human males named Thomas and Marin, and a human woman named Lisa.

As they leave the square they notice the distracted gnolls returning, only to run off to the south at the sounds of gnolls yelping and creepy chittering. The party imagines the Kruthiks have finally joined the party. Leading the three rescued villagers up the cliffs, the party finds the upper part of town much more intact than the lower area, though still beaten up and quite messy. They find that the surviving townspeople have barricaded the passages up the cliffs and the bridge to the rest of the upper part of town.

They discover that the lower part of town east of the river is entirely over-run with gnolls, and that the part of town both upper and lower west of the river was attacked and taken by Hobgoblins, Bugbears, and Goblins. The party rushed immediately over to the bridge where they heard fighting. They saw a group of rank and file hobgoblins marching across the bridge blocking incoming arrows and stones with their shields forming a shell around the group, and a hobgoblin leader urging them forward from behind.

Istarya and Carric launched deadly projectiles and took out the front ranks, as Gwrtheyrn, Lel, and Teodora charged forward. With the front ranks demolished, it was easy to see the bugbear that had been hiding amidst their ranks, who then charged forward to engage the adventurers. As the combat progressed on the bridge, several bodies were pushed over the side and were consumed in the water by thrashing, greenscaled hands. As the dust on the bridge settled, the guards set their weapons at Lel, claiming that he was an intruder and that his kind were pure evil, accusing him of being a liar and psychically controller those around him.

Carric agreed to stay outside with Lel as the rest of the party was taken to the keep to meet with the Lord Warden, Fabin Markelhay. While outside, passing some time, Lel learned that another githyanki must have appeared in Fallheim over a month ago and had a hand in the town's downfall. Carric, while looking out across the ruined portion of the city, heard a loud screech and spotted a large, dragon-shaped form taking off from a tower on the far end of town and flying through the pillars of smoke.

Inside the keep, the rest of the group talks with the Lord Warden and discovers that there is a warehouse of explosives in the lower part of town. Lord Warden Markelhay wants the party to retrieve the explosives so that they can blow up the bridge connecting the east and west parts of town because the hobgoblins are a continuing threat and this would force them to go through the part of town that the gnolls have over-run. Istarya seems hesitant to blow up the bridge, but agrees to secure the explosives with haste, so the party heads out to Bailey's Boom! Store. Through the barricade, down near the river, the party finds the store untouched.

Gwrtheyrn hears sounds from the next warehouse down and decides to investigate, finding four hyenas and a gnoll with a giant bow inside rooting through some old food stores. A fight breaks out as some kruthiks emerge from the ground but Carric uses the Kruthorn to scare them away. Chasing a hyena and the gnoll through the warehouse backdoor, Lel emerges from the door to the sight of a pack of huge gnolls with ravenous hyenas held on chains. He quickly shuts the door and heads back through the warehouse shouting, which causes Istarya and McGwyver to hurry up and start loading explosives onto their Tenser's Floating Disks.

As the hyenas and gnolls come around the warehouse, the party leaves a trail of blackpowder out from the explosives store and quickly lights it causing the entire building to explode as the adjacent warehouse is entirely engulfed in a kruthik sinkhole. Back in the relatively safe side of town, the party managed to secure ~750 lbs of explosives, they set up for the night in the Silver Moon Inn. As they head to their rooms, Carric notices a strange looking claw hanging as decoration on the wall, one that he cannot recognize what animal it is from but has seen a similar claw once before in his life.

Rewards:
654xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, McGwyver, and Gwrtheyrn
230xp – Teodora
150xp – Rex (quest completion)

Loot:
+1 Sylvan Leather Armor, Bag of Holding
??? gp

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Adventure 5: Return to Castle Artegia

The party left the castle and returned to Portalis early in the night, as a reward for returning several of the owls to Keeper Arvis they recieved two healing potions, and then rested for the night. In the morning, they went to the mayor's office and found Maxentius no where to be found, with head councilman Orin Brandis in the office instead. He explained that due to several mysterious murders and a bar fight at the Tavern last night, several of which lead back to the mayor, Maxentius has been temporarily suspended and should be found in his home. After some further questioning, they headed to the Mayor's house and were greeted by his son Lursk at the door. The (former) mayor seemed happy to have some time off, and not too concerned about getting his position back shortly.

He filled the party in a bit on what happened in Portalis while they were gone. The party decided next they would investigate the murder of the merchant and his servant, and so they headed to the graveyard before the bodies were buried. Finding a group of workers in the mausoleum in the city graveyard, Teodora and Istarya convinced them that they needed some time with the corpses, and Teodora proceeded to conduct an autopsy on both of the bodies. After some time, she discovered that the body of Samuel Tindell seemed mostly normal aside from the blackened knife wounds, but that the body of his servant Harlin had been dead far longer even though it exhibited the same knife wounds they did not seem to be as bad or darkened as much.

Heading back through the wilderness around Portalis, to the north-east, the party made their way back to the Castle Artegia. Passing the dragon statues and the entrance to the castle above, they made their way further along the cliff path and came to a large area that appeared to be a ravaged campsite with knocked over tents, dead bodies, and a weird wooden structure in the center. The bodies strewn about were those of humans and dwarves, many of which were bloated, rotting, and eviscerated gruesomely and emitting a foul stench.

As the party investigated the camp, they discovered goblins hiding in small holes beneath the collapsed tent and proceeded to fight a large pack of goblins along the cliffside. The cliff path descended down to a large cave opening beneath the Castle far above, inside a large series of halls looking as if they were built by giants appeared to be abandoned for ages with signs of recent ransacking. Through an old armory, the party came to a main hall decorated with a large mozaic dedicated to Bane along the far wall and large columns running the length of the hall.

Carric attempted to pry some gems out of the symbol of Bane on the wall and was shocked by a lightning trap. Discouraged, they moved down the hall to a joining room filled with hanging curtains that appeared to be an old temple. Inside the temple the party surprised a large cave troll with a group of goblins and a choker lurking along the walls. A tense fight ensued, ending with Teodora lighting the curtains on fire and tangling the troll in them and the goblins/choker eventually being dispatched. Activating the crystals on the mozaic to Bane, a doorway opened to a large chamber beyond filled with the dead bodies of goblins and trolls, at the very end stood an altar with a cloaked man standing in front of it and a glowing red sphere of stone sitting atop it, and off to the side an alcove with a coffin on a stone plinth. After a brief discussion, the cloaked figure erupted into a large mass of black shadow and tendrils, and attacked the party.

A shrieking insanity filled the party's minds, and the mass of shadow seemed to writhe and split into smaller, moving masses of tendrils when attacked. Through a combination of attacking the mass of shadows and the stone upon the altar, the party defeated the stranger. Istarya carefully picked up the stone and the party exited the Ruins beneath Castle Artegia.

Rewards:
690xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, Teodora, and Rex

Loot: +1 Lifedrinker Axe, +2 Dwarven Chain Armor, 2 healing potions (from Arvis)

450gp as reward (from Maxentius)

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