The Age of Awakening

Adventure 15: The Full Moon Massacre

After rescuing Paelias from his tower, and burning his tower down, the party was invited to a dinner with Maxentius where he filled them in on some of the politics in Portalis lately. He mentioned that the tiefling hunters he'd hired earlier to find the missing owls were also suspected of being involved in many of the bad things around town and that implicated him as also being involved. 

The dinner was interrupted by a loud sound from upstairs in Maxentius' house, the party rushed upstairs only to find his son Lursk had been kidnapped out an open window by a dark figure running along the rooftops. Istarya, Lel, Nox, Fargrim, Oryn and Teadora all made chase through the town eventually stopping the figure outside of a warehouse. They discovered the figure was a transformed were-rat who easily surrendered the young dragonborn but seemed distraught about something. 

Eventually they discovered that the were-rat was Lester Fizzwizzle and that he'd kidnapped Lursk in a last-minute attempt to save the boy and distract his would-be kidnappers. The party quickly rushed back to Maxentius' house in time to stop a shadowy figure from killing him, only to recognize the shadowy form as Modra the dark creeper. After a short fight, Modra conjured a zone of darkness to flee but was surprised along with everyone else (including Maxentius) when Lursk pulled out a wand and blasted Modra back against a building. The dark creeper faded into the shadows and fled, leaving a trail similar to the one that was left when the merchant Samuel Tindell and his assistant Harlin were found dead in their cells.

Istarya and the party were able to follow Modra's trail to the center of town but could not determine exactly where it went. Looking for clues, and following Lester's information, the party searched Samuel's cart and found a drop box with a series of letters in it. One letter was addressed to the tiefling hunter named Parnyn, asking him to follow "the heroes" to Fallheim, to meet up with some gnolls there, and to assist Modra in any way necessary. Another of the letters outlined seemingly future plans to attack or kidnap the Sartean and Tarturian diplomats during their meetings in Portalis.

In the center of town the party met up with the diplomats during their meetings and negotiated for them to stay the night hidden in their rooms. After an uneventful night the party was allowed to sit in on the diplomatic meetings and were shocked when things escalated and the Tarturians brought in the captive Mercedes Cogwheel, who they claimed was acting as a spy for the League of Sarta. As tensions rose, a strange multi-colored glow eminated from a box below the table and the windows shattered as three genasi soldiers on hippogryphs burst into the meeting. 

During the battle it became clear that some of the Tarturian diplomats were imposters, all but one of them managed to escape. It also became clear that the genasi and hippogryphs were attempting to kidnap the diplomats, but thankfully the party stopped them.

Rewards:
550xp+710xp (1,260xp)

Loot:
1,360gp (272gp each)

 

Between Game Actions:

Just after the chaos of the fight…

Nox: Still succumbed to the rage I walk over snatch the dwarf by the throat and slam him into the wall. Leaning in close with saliva still dripping from my teeth and covered in blood, "Who are you working for?" making sure some spit splatters on to his face as I yell. Some of the Lesandrian Guards move to try and pull Nox off of the diplomat, but they are quickly informed by the assembled party of the situation and back off a little.

The Dwarf looks visibly frightened and disgusted, "I…work for Tarturia. I'm a diplomat!" Istarya steps up after putting the mysterious box under his arm. "Then why would you not keep your beard braided in the traditional fashion? Your manners also are unbecoming a diplomat, and we have evidence that suggests someone on the inside knew an attack was coming." The impostor diplomat begins to visibly shake and sweat, he stammers out a series of excuses, "I…was nervous this morning, braided me beard backwards! I was scared by the windows shattering! Everything happened so fast!" (no insight checks are needed to tell that he is not being entirely truthful) "Guards! How can you let them assault me like this?!" he cries with a hand stretched out towards the nearby Lesandrian guards going about cleaning up the room and removing the dead and injured. Nox squeezes just a little tighter and growls out, "Answer the questions or things will get quite uncomfortable for you…"

The diplomat squeals louder, three of the Lesandrian guards stop what they were doing and approach, one points at Nox, "Hey! Put him down and let us get him into a holding cell, we don't need any more blood spilled this day."

Lel: "Perhaps we should take him to the temple. I interrogated Klar using a technique I was shown there. There is a ritual which will make it harder for him to lie to us."

Nox: "But breaking bones can be so much more delightful," giving the evil eye to the dwarf. I grab the dwarf's hand and crush it. "Next time the injury won't be as easily fixed by the clerics, I suggest you start answering our questions."

"AUGH!" the dwarf lets out a gutteral cry as he hangs by his arm from the hobgoblin's grasp. "I already told you! I'm a diplomat from Tarturia! What more do you people want?" At the same time the three Lesandrian guards surround Nox and the diplomat, the one who spoke before addresses Nox, "If you do not put him down and cease this assault, Goblin, we will be forced to arrest you. Be sure that we will not hesitate to cart you back to the city to stew in the Lesandrian prison; I assure you it is far worse than anything you've seen around these parts."

The dwarf continues to whine and whimper in Nox's grip. Nox: "Don't lie to me dwarf, who are you working for? As pointed out before you are an imposter in their midst."

Lel addresses the guards: "Let us handle this. Where were you while those you were sworn to protect were threatened? We will take him to the temple. You may each send a representative to observe and assist in the questioning."

Whispered to Nox, "We will find more with more information. Patience."

Istarya shakes his head and steps forth. "My friends here get a bit grouchy when impostor diplomats let Genasi attack an important delegation. If you notice there are several of these diplomats not in the proper fashion for their station," Istarya pauses to make a motion on his chin indicating a beard, "and that leads us to believe that these are the ones responsible. Though this appears to have been the only one to, umm, survive the carnage, so getting information out of him as soon as possible is vital in case there is another attack."

Squeezing a little harder on the dwarf's throat. "Today is your lucky day and a sad day for me, as you get to live for now and in one piece." releasing his grip and dropping the dwarf to the ground. Nox turns and walks away pushing the guards to the side to stand next to the rest of the group. "Lel he is yours for now. But rest assured if your methods does not work I will break him, hobgoblins have their ways as well."

The guards brush off the comments and allow you guys to peacefully take the dwarf into custody. You may take him to the town Temple or wherever you like, but both the Tarturian and Sartean diplomatic parties request a member to be present during the questioning as Lel offered. The dwarf seems happy to be out of Nox's grasp but generally quiet and downtrodden.

We will take him to the temple. Ask for their help in casting a ritual of truth or whatever that thing is I paid for before. We may also want to bring Maxentius, Lester (secretly), and Paelias in to observe and provide any insight they may have. Perhaps those sneaky tricksy elves. Whoever has the highest insight/diplomacy should probably use the actual ritual (probably Istarya). Then we can question him and know when he is lying. I will point out (outside of the prisoner's ability to hear us) that this will only work as long as he talks. If he stops talking then the ritual is useless so we must keep him talking.

List of questions to ask, please add more questions to the list, I'm purposely leaving it empty to let people add stuff:
1. What does the box do?
2. Who do you work for?
3. Who you really work for?
4. No seriously, who do oyu work for before Nox chews your dangly bits off?
5. Who are your contacts? (Nox)
6. How are you reaching your contacts? (Nox)

Father Jaelin provides you with an isolated back room to place the Impostor Diplomat in, it is actually an ancient interrogation chamber that looks as if it hasn't been widely used for well over 50 years. (think like those surgery observation rooms, but mostly stone and medieval with wooden seats) The lighting is such that a large group can observe the lower area's events without being seen by the people in that lower area.

Lel – The same as before you may purchase a scroll with the Discern Lies ritual for 300gp, it allows the user to add their religion check result (as in the d20 + religion = bonus to insight). Conversely, you may donate money to the church and Father Jaelin will perform the ritual for you at a cost of 140gp, but he uses the ritual on himself adding to his insight checks (and thus will need to be present during the interrogation). – all of this assuming someone in the party doesn't know the Discern Lies ritual, which I don't believe anyone does. Discern Lies takes 10 minutes to cast and lasts for 5 minutes (the scroll takes less time to cast I believe).

Maxentius would rather stay with his son in the guarded safety of their house, and I actually don't remember where you guys left Lester, do you? :) Did the Elves and Paelias take him? Paelias is happy to assist though he does seem to think there are more pressing matters at hand in Portalis, and the Rusva'elen (ie – "tricksy elves"?) could care less what you do with the diplomat and agree with Paelias about pressing matters. 

Nox wants to know what they think is more important then finding out who attempted to sabotage the peace meetings and abduct ambassadors? Paelias speaks in a polite but firm tone, "Perhaps the threats to this town's tower and Etherium, which puts thousands of lives at risk versus the lives of a few diplomats, as well as the concurrent threats to several other towns in the world and their Etherium? I'm afraid our elven friends here are of the same mind as I am." One of the dark-leather clad elves adds softly, "...not that we'd care about these petty wars even without the other matters."

Nox: "Im sure that the lives of those that live in the lands that have been fought over don't consider this a petty act by any means." The elven ranger who was present when Lel, Rex, and Istarya fought the vine horror in the Portalis well, and at the temple beneath Portalis afterwards, named ilsindarel speaks up, "Goblin, I believe your name was Nox? Your kind are familiar with all kinds of war in everday life for territory and leadership, while it may appear these humans war over land you should not be surprised to find that there is always greed and lust fueling their actions.

Akkadia specifically is a blasted lands, warred over by these two nations for centuries, the only humans living there are agents of the war itself, and any beasts or innocents have the Rusva'elen of Akkadian lands to watch over them."

Nox: "Maybe this area, Akkadia, deserves some more investigation to see why it's so valuable to these warring people then." Nox is really only concerned about who he really works for. maybe who his contacts are and how we can get in touch with them. Nox uses the discern lie ritual called big axe. Istarya: I'll cast the ritual, I'll just hope to get reimbursed by other party members (or cast sleep on them and take it)

The Interrogation

Istarya uses the Discern Lies ritual. Insight results will be written in <>

In the bright light of many lanterns, the dwarf sits in a solitary chair at the center of the stone floor.

What does the box do?
"It's just an ordinary wooden box, particularly thick to contain that rock and the light it produces. I had not idea what was going to happen when we opened it!" <he is mostly telling the truth>

Where did you get the rock?
"It was left for us at one of the drop locations, with instructions to bring it to the meeting, hide it, and open the top. Clearly I didn't know what was going to happen or I would have excused myself from the room!" <truth>

Who do you work for?
"I'm a diplomat from Tarturia!" <lie>

Who do you really work for?
"Tarturia, I've told you a hundred times!" <another lie!>

No seriously, who do you work for before Nox chews your dangly bits off?
"Okay! Okay, no need for the gnashing of me dangly bits! I'm part of a covert infiltration group sent by Sarta to gather information on the Tarturian plans and to find out why they've increased their patrols into Akkadia. We joined their diplomatic envoy in hopes of finding out more information, swaying the results of the meetings, and rescuing the prisoner they have captive." <not entirely the truth>

Reminder: the clothing they are wearing beneath their incorrect Tarturian garb appears to be from Sarta

That is foolish, you may be a part of some covert infiltration group but probably not Sarta. It would make no sense to wear evidence of your treachery. It also makes no sense to endanger both sets of diplomats. Who do you really work for?
DM Note: You guys, especially Teodora and Istarya, can recognize the clothing they are wearing and their mannerisms as being from Sarta because you are adventurers and much more knowledgeable than the average person. Any other person in Portalis would most likely not be able to determine a nation of origin. So them wearing it is not a dead giveaway and is not as stupid for espionage.

"I didn't know what was going to happen when we opened the box!" <he's telling the truth but he's also quite nervous>

Who are your contacts?
"We had hidden contacts within the Sartean diplomatic party, but there was never face-to-face meeting and they are instructed to deny our very existence…" <here be lies>

Do you have hidden contacts within the Sartean diplomatic party?
"I just told you I did! They will deny it up and down, in fact some of them probably don't even know about us at all to protect us and the other diplomats!" <true>

How are you reaching your contacts?
"We had a series of drop locations around the administrative building in Portalis…" <more lies>

Lel: We get some Pelor radiance to shine in the dwarf's face.
 
Nox: How exactly did you make connections with your contacts? and where again? I must have missed that part while I was thinking of crushing your skull.
"A series of drops are located throughout the building where the meetings were being held, and some outside around the town. I doubt anything will be in any of the drops, they may even be unmarked by now, since the meeting was attacked and they must know I've been taken captive." <some truth, some lies, seems like mostly lies or he's just very nervous at this point>

Teodora: Stepping out from the background with a slight look of shame on her face, Teodora approaches the diplomat.
"If you don't mind, sir, I have a few questions of my own. I'm rather curious as to your opinion of the countries present for this meeting. I myself hail from the greatest Sartean province of Pelos! Indeed, I live and breathe for the League. Are you, as a Tarturian, for or against peace between our two nations? And what is your opinion on the land that divides us?"

Teodora realizes that she was a bit further behind on the conversation than she thought, and speaks again. "Alright, clearly I was being more subtle than I needed to be. How dare you, sir! How dare you cast such a dark mark on the League? I am not a woman who cares to understand government, but so help me, if there is corruption afoot…"

"Perhaps you should take that up with your leaders in Sarta, and rest assured there is far more corruption spreading across these lands than any of you know!" <he REALLY believes this part, ie – true>

Nox: "Was sarta behind leading the hobgoblin nations astray as well?"
"As far as I know Sarta has little or nothing to do with you hobgoblins. What led you astray is most likely your own warring nature!" <true, or at least he believes what he's saying>

Nox: Oh I also want to find out if he was ever given a name for his contact.
He does not seem to know who specifically his contacts were within the diplomats. <true>

"are all of these drop boxes here in portalis dwarf? Cleric bring me a map or some paper and quil please. Guess what dwarve you get to display your skills, where are all of these drop box locations." Father Jaelin fetches the hobgoblin some parchment, a quill, and some ink rather hastily. The dwarf circles two locations near the center of Portalis.
"These are the only two I ever knew about or used, I swear!" <truth>

"are these all there are?"
"I know that there were more, but I don't know where they are." <he's lying, there weren't any other drops>

"are these locations correct?"
"Yes, they should be there assuming they haven't been removed by now." <true>

'''"What did you say the name of your contacts were again?"'''
"I didn't!" <true>

Fargrim: Since it seems we all have forgotten about McGwyver's sister… "what is your/your group's interest in saving the prisoner?"
"Obviously Sarta doesn't want to be responsible for the imprisonment or death of any individuals that are not directly involved in hostilities." <seems true, but he doesn't act sure of it>

"Is/was she working for Sarta?"
"To the best of my knowledge, which is not first hand because I have not been in Sarta for a long time." <true>
"They sent her to discover information relating to Akkadia, something about the diversion of the rivers…" <true>

"Is she a spy?"
"I believe that is what you would call her, but she was not working inside of Tarturia, she was working in Lesandria mostly from what I know." <true>

"What do you plan on doing with her once she is rescued?"
"I'm not privy to this kind of information, my friend, but I imagine returning her to a safe place in either Lesandria or Sarta itself."

"Fargrim, fellow dwarf, I am sorry if I decieved you but surely you are no rigid national of Tarturia yourself! Did we not gamble at Tarturian Grimlock many nights on our flight to this town? Perhaps we can continue these questions over some ale at the pub?" <some lies, then some truth, then some lies again>

Nox: Who's McGwyver?
Fargrim: He's a stunty.

Lel: Who are your contacts within the Sartean party? Give us names or this will begin to be painful. If you don't know their names, describe them to us. Don't lie, we will know…

Lel leans forward to whisper threats in the dwarf's ear but instead says "If he is in this room, blink twice".

The dwarf looks uncomfortable for a minute, yammering about not knowing or having never met them while he looks about the poorly lit upper seating area. He seems to be lying. Then he blinks twice in a subtle way towards Lel.

Lel turns away and says "We must seize his belongings"
Lel beckons a Portalis guard over, "Can you search his quarters?" Quietly to the guard "Bring the Captain of the guard here quickly…"

The guard acknowledges and briskly hurries out of the temple. Wandering about Lel spreads the information to the rest of the party while the questioning continues.

"What does Sarta stand to gain by disrupting these diplomatic missions? Why make such a strange attempt in such a public way?"
"As I said before, I did not know what was going to happen at that meeting. Something must have gone wrong, or someone betrayed us, because that was not how things were supposed to go. We were supposed to get the dipl…err, I mean the prisoner out of there safely and…umm, make it look like it was an outside job." <He's telling the truth for the first parts, then he clearly gets hesitant, thinks more about his words, and is telling more lies>

Teodora: "I still cannot believe your ease with this betrayal. Tell me, where were you born? Which community failed to instill the values that most from the League receive simply by breathing?"
"Not all Sarteans are raised under the strict and pure guidance of the church like yourself, Human. Even the Emporer himself knows what has to be done some times in efforts of war and subterfuge. I am Voral of Hilland in the province of Iounia, that is where I was born and raised. <true, except for the 'born and raised' part and he is unable to accurately speak for the Emporer>

Lel: Does the name Modra mean anything to you?
A confused look quickly flashes across the dwarf's face, and he seems to ponder something, "The name sounds familiar, but I don't remember who or where from. Is this Modra person from Sarta?" <part of this is a lie, and its not the part about the name sounding familiar>

Teodora: "What is your opinion on the region of Akkadia?" ...

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Adventure 14.4 - Paelias' Tower

Fearing that something bad had happened, Maxentius pleads with the party to investigate Paelias' tower outside of town to discover why the wizard had been missing for weeks.

With Klar along to help, Fargrim, Istarya, Lel, and Gandorph set out to the edge of town and upon approaching the tower discovered the image of a giant tree growing out of the top with roots and branches protruding out from various spots of the broken stonework. Inside the tower the party spoke with Paelias and his shy looking eladrin sister, both of whom implored them that he simply needed help clearing out his basement. Lel noticed the candles in the tower were flickering at him oddly, and that he did not remember the giant beam of fey energy extending up through the center of the tower that was now there.

In the basement a trap was sprung, the party could not escape and found themselves surrounded by growing roots and a pair of dangerous Cockatrices. The party avoided being turned to stone and burned up the roots, tossing both of the cockatrices into the disintegrating beam of energy in the center of the tower. At the top of the tower they confronted Paelias and discovered his sister to actually be a howling hag in disguise. Assaulted by a pair of displacer beasts and a pair of dryads, the party fought off the monsters and the hag while Paelias cowered in the corner. 

After clearing the room the party discovered that Paelias' spirit was trapped in the beam of energy, and as he returned he also warned that he'd been followed through from wherever he was trapped – by a Beholder. What followed was a vicious fight with the beholder that resulted in the intentional burning down of Paelias' tower and a barely dead beholder in the end. 

Paelias was forced to move his base of operations to the Mage Guild inside of Portalis.

Rewards:
1,175xp – Fargrim, Istarya, Lel, and Gandorph

Loot:
1,050gp
Medallion of Death Deferred +2
Stalwart Boots
Gloves of Eldritch Admixture (Istarya)

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Adventure 14.3 - The Broken Tower

 In an effort to finish off the Bile Spider Goblin tribe, Oryn and Fargrim set out to clear an old abandoned tower that it was rumored the remainder of the tribe had fled to after their leader was defeated. 

Entering the bottom level of the old tower, the pair found a group of goblins meeting with an orc with a tattoo of a mask covering his face. After defeating them all, Fargrim and Oryn discovered a letter in the orc's posession attempting to set up an agreement between the goblins and the Black Mask orc tribe to the north-east. 

The pair also defeated a group of skeletons and a goblin hexer on the middle level of the tower, and found a goblin underboss with a bugbear and a pair of wolves on the top level. As they defeated the underboss they pushed him off a ledge, falling to the bottom of the tower, the goblin boss opened a small flask and drank the boiling contents. Transforming into a gruesome half-goblin half-demon being, he flew back up to the top of the tower and spewed corrosive vomit over the two adventurers. However, his body seemed unstable with the mutation and after a few good attacks he exploded into a massive gory mess.

Rewards:
1,175xp – Oryn and Fargrim

Loot:
Autumn Harvest Totem +2
2x Gems (100gp each)
2x Emerald Gems (150gp each)
400gp

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Adventure 14.2 - Goblin Problems

After rescuing Rex from the ruins beneath Artegia, Oryn and McGwyver met up with Teadora at the tavern where they met a Tarturian Warden that arrived with the diplomats named Fargrim. A paladin of Kord named Gandorph also joined them as Maxentius informed the party that one of the town's safeguards, the Staff of Paelias, was stolen from the tower in the center of town. He suspected the Bile Spider Goblins around town were responsible so he asked them to investigate north of town where merchants were being attacked. The party met up with a merchant named Bertrand and agreed to protect him on his trip north to Lesandria.

Shortly outside of town a tree is blocking the path, followed by another tree falling behind the cart trapping the merchant and party in. Bursting forth from the trees were a group of oddly scared and stitched goblins and a giant mutated rage drake attempting to loot the wagon and kill anyone in their way. As the goblins were cut down, another goblin appeared at the top of the hill and released some kind of powder into the air which caused all of the goblins, dead or alive, to burst in an explosion of poison and acid. 

The party caught up with a goblin, named Zur, in the forest and intimidated him into telling them where their hideout was located. He informed them of a hidden back door that would lead them in unnoticed, so the party decided to trust him. Sneaking in through a series of caves, the party discovered that Zur had not lied as they were on top of the head of the goblin tribe, Ziguarz and his mutated goblin zombie hulk. After fighting off a slew of exploding goblins and the hulk, the party killed Ziguarz who ranted insanely that he would return one day, and retrieved the Staff of Paelias. 

Rewards:
1,133xp – Fargrim, Oryn, Gandorph, McGwyver, and Teodora

Loot:
380gp
Symbol of Life +2 (Teadora)
Elven Cloak (Ravic)

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Adventure 14.1: Finding Rex Trawkus

Back in Portalis, Gwrtheyrn was surprised to find his superior in the Cerillian Order, Inquisitor Brizbane, who requested that he get a group together to find Rex Trawkus who had gone missing in search of the mysterious symbol he found several weeks before.

Oryn, a shifter druid from the nearby mountains, joined with McGwyver, Nox, and the halfling rogue Ravic as they journeyed to the ruins beneath Castle Artegia to find Rex. Searching through the ruins they discovered a group of gnolls had come through, seemingly following Rex from Fallheim, and attempted to re-install a blue crystal in the pylon on the cliffs outside the castle. 

Inside the ruins they found more gnolls, with a trapped Rex, being attacked by a group of goblins and a troll who had come through like the goblins and trolls before. One of the gnolls utilized a blood red staff, stabbing it into the stone floor which created a summoning circle that poured forth demon after demon. McGwyver disabled the staff as the troll and gnolls fought, and the party killed the injured troll afterwards and rescued Rex. 

Rex had discovered that the strange swirling symbol was used in several places around where the elder eye stone was found.

Rewards:
1,035xp – Ravic, Oryn, McGwyver, Nox

???gp

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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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