The Age of Awakening

Prequel A: Piotr's Gambit

Eight Days after the last Full Moon, something seems amiss in Portalis.

Rumors:

  • People have been going missing in and around Portalis. A hunting party has not returned from their latest excursion.
  • A town to the west has reportedly come under the wrath of a god manifest, and is being attacked.
  • The town along the eastern edge of Lesandria, Fallheim, has supposedly been overrun with monsters.
  • People have been commenting around town that the water tastes weird.
  • Very few messages have been coming in or successfully going out of Portalis, something gruesome is happening to the owl messengers.


Teodora notices Piotr, the head priest in Portalis, talking to a shady looking and scruffy individual. The individual's name is Lester Fizzwizzle, and he is being tracked by a ranger named Rex Trawkus who observes Lester exchanging items with a merchant in town, and occasionally stopping by the temple to talk to Piotr. Carric Rolen is an elven ranger from eastern lands near the bay of Andonen, and frequently stops by the temple to give praise and offerings to Melora. At the temple he has run into Piotr many times, who has vented about his frustrations in dealings with Lester. With rumors of people going missing around town lately, Teodora is frightened when it appears Piotr has gone missing as well.

Carric, Rex, and Teodora are all shocked to recieve a letter from Piotr requesting a meeting at his house to discuss recent events, and after some deliberation they decide to find out what's going on. They arrive at Piotr's house and find him happy to see them, he invites them in and begins to tell them about his troubles with the individual named Lester. Right away, Carric and Rex hear something happening outside the cottage and jump to their feet just before two men dressed in black kick down the door, and both windows are smashed in by men outside with arrows readied in their bows. A skirmish ensues, then Teodora is shocked as a dagger plunges into her from behind and she notices that Piotr is the one wielding it. Carric and Rex take down the two men with clubs that came through the door, dodging arrows fired in through the windows, and then Carric turns his attention to Piotr and Teodora. Rex noticed one archer leave the window and start running, so he leapt through the broken window and pursued the man down the road, once he got a clear shot he loaded his crossbow and loosed a bolt right into the fleeing man's back.

At the same time, Carric was shocked when Piotr jumped onto Teodora and suddenly he was looking at what looked to be two Teodora's dressed and acting exactly the same. Nonetheless, confident that he knew the real devotee of Pelor from the fake, he took aim and shot an arrow right into the forehead of the impostor, who fell to the ground and reverted to a white skinned, black dressed female figure with a scar below her neck. As the ruckus settled they could hear the footsteps of the other archer running quickly away from the house, so Carric and Teodora took flight after him as Rex decided to search the bodies and clean up the area.

The archer lost the pair near the middle of town, but they could assume a reasonable direction in which he was heading and resolved to rest for the night.

PC's: Carric Rolen, Rex Trawkus, and Teodora

Rewards:

  • 91xp each
  • 10gp & 30sp total (3gp & 10 sp each – 1gp bank)
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Prequel B: Hunting for Hunters

Part 1

Lel, Gwtheryn, Istarya, Fromo Freefinger (& Teodora gets poisoned)

Nine Days after last full moon, Teodora returns to the temple to find Gwtheyrn looking after Istarya, when the Eladrin finally comes to his senses. The three decide to catch up at the tavern, only to notice that Carric and Rex seem suspiciously absent. The group investigates Rex and Gwytheyrn's room and find the door knocked off its hinges and the room ransacked, while Carric's house seems untouched but no one answers the door.

Teodora decides to lead Istarya and Gwytheyrn in the direction out of town which her and Carric tailed the archer to the night before. An hour outside of town, along a path bordered by woods, they came to a clearing with a strange body on the ground riddled with arrows and a squirming halfling gagged and hanging from a tree. The party unties the halfling and heals the still alive body, who introduce themselves as the halfling rogue Fromo Freefinger and githyanki warlord Lel. They explain that they have been hired by the town's mayor to find out what has happened with a hunting party, but were jumped in the clearing by a band of goblins who attacked them and then left them here, seemingly to die. The group talks for a bit longer only to find themselves surrounded by a bunch of menacing looking goblins.

The group fends off the goblins, with one of the little greenies fleeing off into the forest to the west. Early in the combat Teodora was hit by a goblin javelin and soon passed out convulsing on the dirt path. She quickly stopped moving and appeared to be dead, but was tended to by Istarya and found to be alive but very sick and in danger of dying from what appeared to be a vicious poison or disease. The group carried her body back to town, leaving her in the care of the temple and returned to Maxentius who quickly offered up a platoon of guards and a captain to assist in the recovery of anything that might help cure the priestess and hopefully rescue the hunting party. Lel decides that they will wait until morning to head out.

Rewards:

  • 143xp each
  • 20gp & 70sp total

Part 2:

Lel, Gwtheryn, Istarya, Fromo Freefinger, plus Rex Trawkus and Lumpy Lumpkin

The next morning, the platoon of guards meet up with Lel, Istarya, Gwytheyrn, and Fromo and they all head north through the woods to the clearing from the evening before. The guards and captain all seem extremely restless, and very uncomfortable outside of town limits. Lel and the guards manage to find the goblin's tracks and follow them for about an hour west of the path, where they come upon a cave that burrows down into a wooded hillside. Goblin tracks are clearly visible going in and out of the cave, so the group cautiously proceeds to a point where the cave splits to the left and the right. They decide to take the left passage, leaving one guard at the junction to watch their backs. Fromo scouts ahead and finds a large open space lit by a few torches, inside he spots a gathering of tables with various pots, vials, and containers filled with various liquids strewn across them. Behind one table he sees a scrawny looking human in dark clothing (that the party later realizes matches the description of Lester Fizzwizzle), a goblin dressed in ornate robes covered with bones and runes, and two other goblins standing guard with giant axes. Off to the right Fromo could barely make out some cages, but whatever was inside was shadowed from the torchlight.

The group charges in and engages the goblins, Lester quickly vanishes behind the table and is not seen again, while the ornately dressed goblin fills the area with a stinking cloud of putrid gas that chokes the party and provides his allies with cover. Dealing with tough adversaries, eventually the rear-guard comes down into the cave with Rex Trawkus and the gnome fighter Lumpy Lumpkin not far behind. After dispatching the goblins, the party examines the cages to find that they contain fairly large spiders which seem none to happy about being imprisoned, and appear to have been used in experiments to extract various substances from their bodies. The group takes one of the cages with a spider inside and heads back into town. The rear-guard explains that the right passage dead ended in a small cavern which contained Rex, Lumpy, and a few hunters tied up and gagged.

Back in Portalis, the temple assistants are aided by the town alchemist to synthesize an antidote that they hope will cure Teodora. Lel, Istarya, and Fromo return to Maxentius, who is very pleased with their accomplishments and happily rewards them.

Rewards:

  • 83xp each
  • 130gp (10gp per person, split with the guards), Wand of Witchfire +1, and a Potion of Healing
  • 120 gp from Maxentius for rescuing the Hunters
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Adventure 1: Problems in Portalis

Lel, Istarya, Rex, Carric, and introducing McGwyver Cogwheel

After thanking Lel for his assitance with rescuing the hunting party and finding a cure for the poisoned priestess, Maxentius says that he will have a message sent to the wizard Paelias whose tower is just outside of Portalis, he should be able to help with Lel's arcane concerns. An assistant comes in to take the message, but informs the mayor that all messages into Portalis have not been coming through and the lack of incoming messages is causing some concern amongst residents. Fromo Freefinger taps Lel on the shoulder, acting quite typically jovial but also a little nervous, he hands Lel a rolled up scroll claiming that he does not need it right now, but he may be back for it sometime in the future. As Fromo runs off, Lel returns his attention to the mayor and assistant at the end of a conversation about water shortages and a request that the temple begin providing fresh water in case of a serious emergency.

Lel and Istarya leave the mayor's office and head for the Sleazy Dog Tavern. While studying in the town library/school, Rex became acquainted with an odd dwarven fellow next to him also researching named McGwyver Cogwheel. Rex decided to leave, and after being followed and talked at by his new friend, ventured to the Sleazy Dog in an attempt to gain some peace and quiet. There the pair met up with Lel, Istarya, and Carric who were all relaxing and catching up over a couple of drinks. The night continued on as drinks were shared, until the group headed back to their comfortable beds once the bar finally kicked them out so they could close for the night.

Eleven days after last full moon. The party awoke in the morning to an apparent crisis, as towns people were swarming about town in a panic, and a line had formed at the temple. After questioning a few people, they learned that the town's well had gone dry and that there was no longer a source of fresh water for Portalis. Most alarmed by this was Teodora, who awoke from her rest after being cured of the goblin's poison, went to the bar for an early morning drink only to find it closed due to the water shortage. For the glory of Pelor, she ventured to the well pump house right away. The rest of the party gathers around Istarya as he rambles and screams crazily about "...the well at Portalis". Eventually they decide to go and investigate the well, so they went to the eastern portion of town near the river. The well pump house stands on its own with no access to a cellar, nearby they noticed the boarded up old well which ran dry before anyone can really remember, and across from that the old mill which runs off a waterwheel powered by the adjacent river. Istarya and Carric head into the old mill and find that it has a cellar, while Rex and Lel pulled off one of the boards on the well to investigate how deep it is and see if they could spot anything within, but all they saw was a bit of strange liquid roughly 60 feet down. Eventually everyone went into the cellar of the old mill, where they found half of the room opening downward into a dark cave with a ladder down, and running water trickling over the edge.

After a short bit of time Teodora popped up from the ladder, having heard her friends come in behind her. Into the dark caverns, the path split, along the right path they found the stone column of the old well penetrating through the cave and further into the depths, as they made their way to the lower level of the well pump house, with wooden stairs going down around the pump shaft. Rex decided to take a torch and investigate the other path, finding a larger area with some tunnels carved into the far wall and a body lying on the floor. Teodora and Rex moved closer to investigate and spotted rats swarming all over the body, at which point Rex took careful aim and fired a bolt right into the swarm. Alerted by the small commotion, four giant rats crawled up from the chasm that split the two paths and began biting at the party's feet, while the swarm charged in, and out from the tunnels crawled a pair of red-shelled beetles which spewed fire onto half of the adventurers. During the fight, McGwyver was surprised by a red, leathery creature that attached itself to his neck and began painfully sucking out his blood.

After a short fight the rats and beetles were dispatched, and Carric carefully shot the Stirge off of McGwyver's very pale throat. The group rests as they investigate the body, finding it very torn up but not completely lost. Teodora performed the ritual Gentle Repose on the body, and Carric decided to take his fellow elf out of the cavern and to the temple as fast as possible. The elf had on his body an ornately decorated sword and armor of very fine craftsmanship, and a necklace with a very small fragment of etherium dangling from it, which Istarya decided to take for safe keeping or because he's a greedy bastard. The remaining members decided to press onward and head down the stairs around the well pump shaft. Further down into the cellar, they found themselves confronted with a cave off to the left covered over with massive spider webs too thick to see through, and a path to the right along a cliff edge into a huge cavern with obviously brushed aside spider webs.

The group cautiously moved along the right path, where they noticed a series of troughs supported on thin wood posts descending into the cavern below carrying running water. After a short, but tense, walk along the path they came into a larger area where they saw the other side of the thick spider webs, with some items dangling in them. After some deliberation, Istarya decided to cast Mage Hand and pull the items out of the webbing, to their surprise nothing happened, and they were pleased to see that the pair of boots hanging in the webbing were Acrobat Boots. At this point Teodora begins feeling faint again, fearing a recurrence of the poison she took a rest against the rocks and urged the rest of the party to continue on, fully confident that she could handle herself and catch up once she felt better. Opposite the spider webs the party descended down a rocky slope along the edge of the cliff and deeper into the cavern with the troughs carrying water down the same direction. At the bottom they found a corridor of carved stone that led to a clearly man-made stone room with a circular opening emitting a faint light above, and a suspicious ooze on the floor below. Carefully sneaking through the room, which looked "perfect for an ooze to call home", they deduced that they were indeed at the bottom of the old well.

From there the corridor looked as if it was once well carved stone but had been shaken and torn up as if by many earthquakes. Down the twisting corridor they eventually came to large cave with two torches spiked into the ground, and a circular hole in the floor with a rope tied off into it. Down the short rope they came to a trough with running water in it, but unfortunately McGwyver was very impatient and knocked everyone loose of the rope, breaking the trough in the process. They found themselves lying face down in a pool of rising water as the broken trough rained down upon them. Panic ensued as Lel feared drowning within his heavy armor, the water levels rose and each one of them strained to find some way out of the room.

Eventually McGwyver discovered a seeming drain in the middle of the floor, unplugged it, and soon Lel, Istarya, and Rex found themselves flushed out onto a damp, mossy floor in a very large cavern. Straining to see in the faint light, they discovered themselves in the bottom room of the well pump, the shaft descending to a very large gear covered and completley entangled in vines. Off to the side the scoop belt still running and carrying dark, swampy water up to the surface, clanking as it skipped grooves with the immovable gears. Lel took to using his glaive to cut free some of the gear and discern the nature of the disruption, but all of them quickly found the ground erupting with constricting and clawing vines. As they were overcome by the vines, they could see a vaguely humanoid form made up of vines and slush form on the large gear and begin shambling towards them with claws outstretched. Istarya quickly jumped through the feywild and free of the vines, only to be attacked by the vine creature and discover two zombies clawing free of the vines and coming for the group.

Also, off on a ledge to the side, they could hear screams in elven and the distinctive sounds of people struggling. Istarya thought quickly, and using his Mage Hand spell again he thrust the small etherium necklace into the core of the vine creature. The creature erupted with bright light, for a split second a shard of dark etherium could be seen glowing from within it, and then it retreated back into the vines emitting a piercing shriek. Moments later the vine creature reformed, but the elves had finally cut themselves free and jumped to the aid of Istarya, Rex, and Lel. After a bloody struggle, Istarya found himself on the ground with Lel and Rex unconscious, and Lel still being torn and strangled by the vines. With his last ounce of strength he uttered an incantation to cast a sleep spell upon the remaining zombie and the vine creature, causing both of them to collapse into the vines.

The trio was dragged clear of the gear and vines by the shield bearing elf, along with his unconscious friend who fell while fighting off one of the zombies. After administering some healing, Lel and Rex regained consciousness to see the slumped form of the vine creature erupt in brilliant energy and burn to a crisp, followed shortly by all of the vines covering the room wilting, rotting, and collapsing to dust. With a earth shaking lurch, the well shaft ground into motion once more as all the gears clicked together, and water once more was carried up to the surface.

Rewards:
Carric, Teodora, and McGwyver – 87xp each
Lel, Istarya, and Rex – 237xp each + 100xp quest completion

Loot: Acrobat Boots (Lel)

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Adventure 2: The Caverns of Time

Lel, Rex, Istarya, Gwrtheyrn, Carric, Teodora, and McGwyver

Teodora managed to find Gwrtheyrn in town and the two ventured back into the caves, where they eventually founds themselves coming through a stone doorway and into a large cavern. At the other end of the cavern, and down a couple of levels, they see a light coming through another door carried by Istarya, with Lel and Rex behind him. Through the light of their torches across the room, each group noticed two moving forms dangling from the center of the cave, wrapped in spider webs and yelling in familiar, muffled voices. The group descended on the two forms and noticed the forms of McGwyver and Carric trapped in the webs, but also that they were not alone and that several giant spiders had taken up residence within the caverns. Working to free the pair, Teodora and Gwrtheyrn moved in from above while Rex, Lel, and Istarya moved to help from below. After fighting off two juvenile Deathjump Spiders, a pair of Venomspit Spiders, and a pair of Stirges, the party regrouped at the main landing in the cave which they noticed had a pair of large, stone doors inset into the cave wall with magical writing scrawled across them. On the floor in front of the doors, Gwrtheyrn noticed three runes in the ground, each outlined with sigils and drawings around a center sigil – the first a star, the second a featureless sphere, and the third an aged book.

They quickly discovered that Istarya could activate the first symbol merely by touching it, and that it caused him excruciating pain to touch the middle sphere symbol. What they could discern of the writing with help from a Comprehend Languages ritual from Istarya indicated three entities, some sort of 'temple' beyond, and vague references to time. The group also took note that several troughs and overhangs were spilling lots of water into the cavern, and that it was gradually filling up. Arun'del Breakwater managed to restore his companion, Ilsindarel, to consciousness and discussed matters with the party. The pair quickly decided to continue their search for the individual known to the party as Lester Fizzwizzle, and headed off down a cave pathway.

Istarya took a few moments to cast a Magic Mouth spell on the magical doors. Exiting the cavern through a large cave opening opposite the magical doors and following the elves, the group quickly finds a pair of spiders in a torchlit split passageway fighting over what appeared to be a well cut piece of meat. Hesitating for a few moments, they were surprised by a group of four goblins that burst out from around the spiders brandishing sticks, ropes, and nets ensnaring the spiders. The goblins froze in fear at sight of the seven adventurers bearing down on them, offering toothy smiles of peace. Istarya quickly offered the goblins the bodies of the four spiders they'd slain earlier, an offer which the goblins gladly obliged and passed on their way peaceably after pointing the party in the supposed direction of "a way out of here".

The party then found themselves in a well carved stone room containing three torches, and what they quickly discovered as a trap laid across the room on every other tile. Venturing up a flight of stairs they came to a dead end room with a candelabra hanging from the ceiling, and eventually decided to head back down the stairs where they found themselves in a different room than they were in before. After a fight with a rather angry ochre jelly, the party discovered an amnesiac Drow crying in the corner of a room over his dead spider, Izzy. With much suspicion, Istarya threatened the Drow but Teodora's kind words and offerings of a proper burial for the spider managed to calm the Drow, who traveled with the party constantly at the end of Istarya's wand.

As they traveled they noticed that the Drow had one of his ears cut off, and that he was very polite for his kind. After navigating a series of changing rooms, and resting for what felt like 8 hours but seemed to only be 5 minutes, the party discovered that fire was the key to changing and time altering rooms. At one point they discovered a library full of unwritten books, and in a desk there a book titled, "The History of the World: The Recovery of the Chime." Lighting the correct number of torches in each room, all of the stairways lowered into hallways and the rooms could clearly be seen connecting to one another. Wandering through a series of cave corridors they eventually found themselves back in the large cavern, with water slightly higher but not filling up the room yet.

They quickly activated all three symbols using Istarya, the Book, and first attempting with Izzy's body but then succeeding with the Drow himself.

Rewards: 526xp each

Loot: none

Epilogue: Dust fills the air as the large stone doors begin to slide open, the runes and script across them filling the room with a pale glowing light. Behind the doors a large cavern opens up, the side of an epic stone structure looms up towards the ceiling of the cave with a large staircase leading up to a flat stone platform with inscriptions scrawled across its surface. For a moment, a ghostly vision of Istarya trapped in a magical circle appears atop the temple as ethereal images of Gwrthëyrn and Rex Trawkus step into view and free him from his imprisonment. The image fades to reveal a large portal swirling in the air at the top of the temple, a dark landscape visible beyond.

Some of the arcane script around the door opening glows and forms into a readable script: "Seek not those who enter here, for they are lost and often gone. Seek ye those who exit here, for they are not where they belong." The amnesiac Drow looks up at the portal for a moment and then gasps, "That looks like home!"

A second later he is surmounting the stairs, but pauses for a brief moment and flashes a jagged, toothy smile at all of you. His hand raises to his mouth, a shrill whistle sounds, and the body of Izzy the spider twitches. She crawls upright and leaps to the Drow's side, who still smiling shouts down the side of the temple, "Thank you! You've all been ever-so helpful!" A moment later he is leaping through the portal and vanishes from side with a brilliant flash of arcane energy. The portal remains, swirling with an ominous rhythm. Arun'del Breakwater, Ilsindarel, and a third Elf limping with a staff climb up to the rocky platform and stare for a moment at the open door and all of you standing around.

Dragged behind them you see a scraggly looking gaunt man bound by ropes, struggling to stay on his feet. After a moment of staring Arun'del speaks, and gestures towards the stairs opposite the temple, "We have found the one that we sought, and it appears you all have found our means of getting out of here. For that, you have our thanks!" Ilsindarel approaches behind the cleric, "Arun, we should kill this rat before he has a chance to escape and further aid our enemies…" The scraggly man, whom you all know as Lester Fizzwizzle, squirms and groans, looking between all of you for some strand of compassion.

Arun'del turns his attention back to all of you, "We have brought this one back to you, as you mentioned you had dealings with him. Our plan was to take him to the surface, to our masters, and find out what he has done and what he knows. However, my companions here are more interested in stopping any further harm from being done to our world. Since you are acquiantances of his, we shall let you decide his fate, then we will head to the surface and back to our missions, with or without him."

Rex inquires about the symbol found on the Doppleganger's scar. The Elf carrying the staff approaches Rex and introduces himself, "I am Darin, allow me to look at this symbol for a few moments." He examines the crude drawing for a couple of minutes, tracing its intricacies with his fingers in the air above the parchment. "I have seen this symbol a few times before, but I do not yet understand its full meaning. It could represent all of creation, or simply a single portion of creation that we have not discovered yet. No matter the actual depiction, I feel that this jagged spiral presents the destruction of life, and most likely has more than a few ties to the dark place whispered about in nightmares as the Abyss. That is all I know without all of my tomes at hand."

Lel approaches Arun'del and asks, "I would like to know more of your mission, who are you people and what is it you were doing under Portalis? It seems your presence coincides with a number of ill events for the city. Would you have any knowledge of this?" Arun'del and his men take the opportunity to rest their feet, and he contemplates his response carefully for a few seconds, "We call ourselves the Rusva'elen, and our mission is to protect the stability of the world, for much of civilization has forgotten their past and for many reasons this is both a blessing and a curse. We look after the cursed portion of the rest of the world's blindness, and hope that they may go about their lives without hindering our cause. Too often that is not the case." "We are always around this town, for this region is our home and the land which we have tasked ourselves to look after. It happens now that our enemy's minions gather in these lands and we are the ones who must succeed where perhaps our brethren in other lands have failed. Why our enemy's presence is felt more strongly in this region is not a question that we can answer."

Istarya interrupts, "Do you guys really think I'm stuck-up? I mean, you just met me, and we helped each other out on the big gear thing. Seems unfair." Ilsindarel lets out a small laugh, "I apologize for Arun's rude comments, he has had a few not so pleasant dealings with Eladrin in the past. We are ever grateful for your help in these caves, and gratitude is not something an Elf ever leaves behind."

Teodora asks, "Arun'del, I thank you for giving us choice in this matter. Though I would enjoy giving this man what he surely deserves right now, I believe the best course of action is to take him back to the Temple for proper questioning. I still have little clue as to his motivations, and only a slight idea of his associations. Perhaps you can aide us in answering these questions, Arun'del? It is possible that we have a common enemy…"

Arun'del nodes slowly, "Indeed if the one who guides this poor man's actions is now your enemy, it does seem we have some things in common. As for his motiviations, he claims to have nothing on his person but he reeks of lies and deciept. We first spotted him scavenging about on our descent into the lower level of the Old Mill, when he quickly fled we chased him until we became separated, lost, and trapped in those cursed vines. Now two of our men are dead, one from those damn rats and bugs, the other from the arachnids that infest this place. We only hope that their lives were not lost for nothing, and that you can gain some advantage over our common enemy through this man."

Ilsindarel interjects, "We should not dally here any longer, this place has a foul smell about it and I fear we may be inviting further danger." Arun nods in agreement and yanks on Lester's ropes, dragging the man crawling across the ground, and hands the rope off to Gwrtheyrn. "He is your prisoner now, we shall head to the surface and reconvene with our brothers, you may join us or do as you wish in these caves." They pack up their belongings and begin to head through the temple room to the staircase beyond. 

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Adventure 3: The Curious Case of Lester Fizzwizzle

Carric, Istarya, Lel, Teodora, McGwyver, Gwrtheyrn, and Rex

In the temple beneath Portalis, the party finishes their discussions with the mysterious Elves. Arun'del Breakwater and his companions, having handed off Lester to Gwrtheyrn, head towards the surface after mentioning that he was rummaging around in the basement of the Old Mill when they last saw him. Lester explains that he was attempting to hide in the Old Mill, but the Elves followed him so he fled deeper into the caves. Heading back to the surface, the party notices that the well seems to be working once more, and they head back into the basement of the Old Mill. Here Lester digs through a pile of strewn about hay and pulls out a letter and a vial of purple liquid that appears to be some kind of curative potion. The party reads [[Lester's Letter]], take the potion, and decide to keep him prisoner until they can find some answers. As the party emerges back into the evening air, they notice a large congregation of people led by the Town Councilmen, coming to thank them for their brave deeds.

They meet head councilman Orin Brandis, as well as the other members of the council. After some quick introductions the party is tired and heads off to rest, making their way to the guard house and putting Lester in a jail cell for the night. In the morning the party meets with the mayor, Maxentius, and discuss their actions in rescuing the missing hunters and beneath the town fixing the well pump. Their discussions are interrupted as three well armed Tieflings burst into the room, dropping a golden feather on the mayor's desk, demanding their reward.

The mayor argues with them briefly, they contest that their job has been done as far as they care to do it, receive their payment and leave despite insults from Istarya. Outside Gwrtheyrn holds Lester prisoner while the rest of the party talks inside. Hearing that Lester met with a merchant in town to exchange gold for the letter and potion he had stashed away, the party heads to the merchant square in search of the particular dealer in question. They find the short and balding man, Samuel Tindell, in his cart set up in the square selling various seemingly useless and overpriced rarities including an intricate hourglass, some small and broken gearwork pieces, and an odd looking animal hand / claw the likes of which Carric has never seen before and could not identify.

Samuel claims he obtained the paw in a trade far to the East, at a coastal town in Ithacarus. They bribe the merchant away from his cart, having him put his helper Harlin in charge of the cart for a moment, and lead him to an alley where Istarya and the party threaten and intimidate him. He reveals that he is just a middle-man, like Lester, and that his instructions involved an area outside of town but he would always just send Harlin to do it.

The party goes back to the cart and convinces Harlin to come with him, they proceed to threaten and intimidate him as well, and he hastily draws a map for them to a location just north of Portalis. The party takes the pair to the brig and locks them up, then heads out of town in that direction. The map leads them through the woods to a clearing with some rubble and ruins in the middle of it, but as soon as they step foot near it the entire clearing collapses 20 ft. underground into a cave. The party finds themselves surrounded by a horde of chitinous, ravening monsters which they can recognize from stories as Kruthiks. After a hectic fight with the clawing, gnashing horde the party finds a stash of treasure the Kruthiks had piled nearby containing a +1 Lightning Falchion and a +1 Symbol of Hope dedicated to Pelor. Hearing more monsters from the caves beyond, the party takes one dead Kruthik body and heads back to town, with concerns that the Kruthiks may too close to the town for comfort.

Returning to the brig, they find the guards confused and both Samuel and Harlin's bodies lying dead on the floor from vicious knife wounds. There is a lingering taint of the Shadowfell in the guard house, but no other clues as to what happened or who killed them. The party then heads to the Owl Tower in town, meeting the gnome Owl Keeper Arvis, who explains that the tieflings did rescue one owl from wherever they are being held, Dora the golden owl. He agrees to let her lead them back to the place, and pleads with them to bring back as many of his owls as they can safely.

Heading north-east from town, Dora leads the party through the woods to a long corridor between tall trees where she is suddenly ambushed by two Spiretop Drakes. On the ground the party sees a dwarf hunter with a crossbow taking aim at Dora, with a guard drake at his side. Lel charges towards the dwarf while the rest of the party takes care of the Drakes attacking the owl. Shortly afterward the drakes are dead, the guard drake is dropped, but the dwarf reaches into his backpack and pulls out a small metal ball in each hand.

Tossing them into the clearing, they roll to the ground with a flurry of clicks and grinding as they transform into two mechanical Iron Defenders who charge the party. The dwarf is taken down, and on his person they find a half of a blue crystal which seems to eminate arcane energy in relation to a location.

Rewards:
565xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, McGwyver, Gwrtheyrn, and Rex
432xp – Teodora

Loot: +1 Lightning Falchion, +1 Symbol of Hope, Cloak of Resistance +1, and +1 Bloodcut Armor, 380 gp

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Adventure 4: The Missing Owls

Carric, Istarya, Lel, Teodora, McGwyver, Gwrtheyrn, and Rex

Following the trail of the blue Crystal of Location using Istarya's arcane understanding, in combination with Carric's tracking, the party marched into the foothills towards an ancient castle resting at the top of a cliff. Along a narrow mountain path that continued on, the party found an old stone doorway set into the mountainside with an intricate statue of a dragon on each side. Up a staircase carved directly out of the mountain rock, the party found themselves inside of the ruined castle, stone walls half collapsed all around them. The first room, open to the sky, used to be a grand royal foyer with a fireplace set into the far wall.

Strewn about the floor were piles of trash and bones, as the party entered further into the foyer a ghostly specter appeared ahead of them on an outside walkway, and the piles of bone arose into walking skeletons with swords. The party fought the ghostly haunting and progressed out onto the stone walkway, where they found two of the owl's cages thrown down upon the rocky mountainside. From the other end of the foyer a ruined hallway extended where the party noticed a beautifully painted mural upon the stone wall depicting _, however the lower half of the mural had been scrawled over with blood in the images of death and torturous demons. Up a flight of stairs and through a set of double doors sat an active dining hall, with a table built for a whole family, bookshelves along the close walls and large windows along the far wall, and ghosts all dining and moving at all of the seats of the table. At the far end of the dining hall were a large set of double doors that would not open, while attempting to find a way through the party was addressed by the seemingly king ghost.

After some parlay with the long-dead lord, the party discovers that years past a mysterious stranger arrived one rainy night and was welcomed into the castle, formerly called Castle Artegia, for shelter and a warm bed. Later the stranger explored the depths of the castle as everyone inside seemed to slowly go insane and all of the castle inhabitants were brutally killed. The party promises to help avenge the family, and is allowed access through the doors.

Up a flight of exterior stairs the party finds themselves on a windswept old stone plateau in the ruins with three statues along the side. As they stepped out into the flat, wall-less room, they discovered that the statues were a source of strong wind which threatened to push them off the edge. Using teamwork and clever use of ropes, as well as McGwyver plugging up one of the statue's mouths with a cork and Istarya working magic on the others, the party makes it across the plateau and up another set of stairs towards an elaborate looking ruin at the very top of the cliff with the flicker of firelight coming from inside.

Teodora stays behind to make sure they are not attacked from behind, and also to explore the library in the dining hall and learn as much from the ghost lord as she can. The narrow stair case wrapped along a narrow cliff up to the ruins above, but the party encountered a group of dwarves with a pet scorpion and spiretop drakes to slow their progress. After a tense fight along the narrow stairs, the party advances and McGwyver acquires a mechanical Flameburst crossbow from one of the dwarven bodies.

Just outside of the ruins above, the party spots several bulky undead inside and suspects an ambush, after some discussion McGwyver tosses in a satchel of vials which exploded into a cloud of acid across the entrance to the room. Several zombies charged through the acid and corroded to pieces, while other bulky undead threw motes of necrotic filth over the acid, exploding on several members of the party while magical bolts of energy surged out from around a throne at the rear of the room. Eventually the party charged into the room and fought off a ghoul and the gnome arcanist commanding the undead, finding several of the owls abused but still alive in their cages and a large pile of mail beside the throne that had clearly been thoroughly rummaged through.

On the body of the gnome, Istarya discovered the other half of the blue crystal he'd found earlier. In the pile of mail was a letter to Rex from his wife, sent many days previously, expressing her loneliness and hoping that he would come home soon. Also in the pile was brown wrapped book sent to McGwyver which turned out to be his sister's personal journal.

Rewards:
650xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, McGwyver, Gwrtheyrn, and Rex
175xp – Teodora

Loot: +1 Flameburst Crossbow, Amulet of Protection +2, +1 Thunderburst Longbow

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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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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 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 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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