Twilight Realms

Solonar's Fate

The heroes and their dverg companions spread throughout the dungeon, while Maris picked the heavy dwarven lock to Solonar’s cell. Just as an ominous mist poured from the cell, the sounds of a dwarven yell heralded a new threat.

A squad of nether elf soldiers descended the stairs into the dungeon and fired on the dwarves, felling one. Maris moved into striking position while Rogar cast a wall of solid air into the passage (stymieing the rogue’s surprise attack).

Meanwhile, Ruric released and tended to Solonar while a force of supernatural evil attacked the nearby Vidar. The fae ranger could barely make out the form of a dread vampyr, its blows were so fast and its form shrouded in shadow. Despite continued hit-and-run attacks, Vidar’s resolve held.Vampyr

The dwarves and others (unaware of Vidar’s struggle) were attacked by a second front of nether elves. But Rainer was ready. He charged up the stairs and cleaved the nearest nether elf in two with a single blow. His ferocity drove the pale evil elves back to regroup.

Rainer returned to the dungeon hearing sounds of combat below. He ran through a shadowy corridor until he was slammed by the vampyr’s powerful blow. Rainer answered in kind – and then some. Despite the undead creature’s resistant hide, two mighty chops from the Northman’s greatsword staggered the monster. Then, Ruric unleashed a searing light from above instantly charring the Vampyr’s form to a burnt husk.

Once the smoke and stench cleared, a magical visage of Aldar the White appeared on the stone wall. He expressed his pleasure that Solonar had been found and informed the heroes “a blade of light held by the purest of hearts” is nearby and essential to win the war. “Yes. The war has started.”

Meanwhile, Maris snuck to the top of the dungeon stairs and invoked her cloak’s invisibility. She snuck into a large dining hall and found a score of nether elves waiting behind upended heavy dverg tables. After coordinating her plan, she slid behind one of the leaders and dealt a lethal backstab. Rainer burst through the opposite door and closed with the foes. He was struck by several arrows but ignored the pain. His first sweeping sword arc slew three nether elf soldiers. Rogar followed with a conflagration of enormous proportion. The flames filled the room but left Maris and Rainer unscathed. Everything else was destroyed.

The heroes explored the rest of the building, obviously a dwarven barracks and training center. Upstairs they were sniped by an unseen assailant. Poisoned daggers struck several heroes but none were severely affected. The sniper slipped out an upper floor window, presumably to gather reinforcements.

At the gaming table

Halls of the Dead

The heroes entered Graganmal and found it deserted…almost. After entering the giant-sized doors, the heroes found the great hall abandoned, seemingly during mid-meal. Vidar and Ruric noted signs of toppled gargan and gouges in the stone suggesting their hobnailed boots had been drug across the stone floor.

Gargan ghostElsewhere, Maris found an unattended shrine and lifted a 20-pound silver wyvern icon from its surface. She was immediately attacked by the chieftain’s ghost and thrust against the oversized shrine. The phantom’s hideous visage terrified Vidar who fled from the room as she rumbled in gargan, “Colluders. Defilers. Thieves. You shall die as my people have.”

Torgar the Sage tried to parlay in the gargan tongue, while Maris reluctantly replaced the icon. After several tense moments, Torgar relayed a gesture of friendship and indicated that an unknown illness killed every gargan including the restless chieftain. The phantom commanded that Graganmal be left undisturbed and suggested only finding the corpses of her missing people and returning them for proper burial would allow her rest.

The party quickly followed the tracks of the missing gargan toward the tunnels leading out of Graganmal and toward Dragonforge Keep. Rockwater agreed to remain with the party to determine the fate of the gargan and scout the sacked keep of Dragonforge before reporting to Thunder Mountain. Just before leaving the gargan settlement, they briefly explored a trapped hall of giant statuary but ultimately left everything untouched.

The underground tunnels led to an enormous subterranean cavern, the Cathedral of Urza. This was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Urza, which allied dverg- and gargan-kind. The party slept restfully here.

The following day, nearing the deepest entrance to Dragonforge, the party found a chamber full of dwarven undead. The foul zombies closed from both sides. Erelas and Maris struck down some, but the combined assault of Ruric’s divine energy and Rogar’s fiery blasts neutralized the threat. Not even a single dverg warrior suffered critical wounds, the battle was over so quickly.

Pressing on, the heroes reached the doors to Dragonforge…but not without witness. Two half-dragon nether elven guardians flew from the supports slashing at Maris and Vidar. They wielded huge curved blades that threatened terrible injuries, but even these mighty guardians were no match for the combined counter-attacks of Erelas’ temple sword flurries and Maris’ piercing backstabs.

The heroes collected the draconic creatures magical blades and other valuables, before following Rockwater into the keep. He led them thru the dungeons intent on avoiding contact with more enemies. In one of the cells, the heroes found Solonar, nearly dead from neglect and starvation, suspended in the air by thick manacles. The nether elf slurred a delirious moan.

At the gaming table

Graganmal Approach

Dwarven bladeAfter the feast, the heroes had several days to recuperate and re-equip. They were also honored at a ceremony where they became knighted, in a sense, as Shieldblades. The Shieldblades are an elite group of fighters dedicated to protecting the dverg kings recognized by their broad defensive shortswords, also called shieldblades. Each hero was given the opportunity to wield a shieldblade or an equivalent monetary reward. Rogar was also given a spellbook that had been found many years ago.

The party set out into the Vukaar Mountains after the last spring storm blanketed the peaks. They traveled for several days in the cold and company of the dverg band. Rockwater and Torgar caught up on the heroes’ exploits and explained about the growing gorish threat to the dverg people.

Eventually, the troupe reached some gargan architecture at the opening of a steep canyon. Shortly after entering, a pair of cave bears emerged from side caves growling menacingly. Throwing his respect of nature on the ground, Vidar opened with a volley of devastating arrows. One bear was nearly felled before the second even reached the melee.

After the second bear was defeated, it became obvious by their barding, that these were creatures belonged to the gargan. Oops.

RemorhazThe canyon opened into a deep pit with a giant-sized ramp running downward. Maris scouted ahead and despite here near invisibility awoke the monster that had made the icy pit its home. An enormous remorrhaz burst through the ice and lashed at the rogue. Vidar, Rogar and the dverg warriors opened fire from above. Erelas and Ruric raced down the ramp to help the overwhelmed rogue.

Badly injured, the remorrhaz dove back through the snow and ice, only to be replaced by two more! The melee fighters were able to fight defensively and protect their gear from the monsters’ inferno-like carapaces, while the ranged fighters delivered incredible damage from above. Within several seconds, all three monsters were dead, sizzling in their snowy pit. Maris, Erelas, and Ruric stood, breathing heavily, before the 25-foot tall iron doors of Graganmal.

At the Gaming Table

Saviors of Whitescar

Dwarf shieldThe heroes battled forward to link with the dverg defenders, recognizing the shield of Ironhelm Rockwater among them. They slew several gorik and reached the keep just as a second larger wave of greenskins crested the ridge behind them. Ruric healed several warriors with his bursts of divine power while the others pulled the gorik siege tower into the chasm. Rockwater rallied the dverg to continue fighting as bellowing alarms echoed from deeper within the dverg home.

Rockwater commanded Ruric and Randar Stonehammer to ensure that the wounded King Whitescar was safe. The others followed. Within the cliff dwelling, they found a large throne room full of foes. The warboss of the Skullreavers, Ripskull Thuun, sat on his enormous mount, preparing to pounce on the wounded king.

GorghestRipskull was a massive gorik, wearing dark steel plate mail bristling with blade-like spikes. In his hands was a gorik guisarme, a vicious hook and blade polearm known as Skullreaver. Just as fearsome was his enormous wolf-like mount, Felnischnikor. The beast’s hairless face looked like a boiled skull, marking it a greater gorghest, a monster of legend.

Ripskull snarled at Whitescar. “You’ll die for what you did to our mates, but not before you watch me kill your offspring!” Then, the warboss cleaved his mighty blade into Whitescar’s daughter and paladin, Gormella.

Several other gorik also rode gorghest and following Ripskull’s command, pounced the party. The gorik’s skill with spears marked them as elite fighters and their gorghest mounts proved equally deadly. Randar, Vidar, Rogar and Rainer fought valiantly but received as many wounds as they gave. Three of six gorik fell but so did Rainer and Vidar.

Meanwhile, the Ruric, Erelas, and Maris charged Ripskull and Felnischnikor. Maris danced around the beast’s fangs and claws and stabbed several lethal strikes into the boss. Almost defeated, Ripskull vanished. Ruric healed King Whitescar who was immediately grappled by his gorik nemesis. Ripskull’s spiked armor pierced the king’s body. The grapple left him vulnerable however, and Ruric drove his battleaxe through the foe’s plate mail. Ripskull collapsed with the king, but Ruric’s divine touch again saved Whitescar’s life.

The remaining gorik fled and Gormella was stabilized. Ruric healed Vidar and Rainer. King Whitescar took Ripskull’s head to the front lines and the remaining gorik quickly broke. The dverg of Whitescar cheered.

After the battle, the full actions of the party became clear: they had defeated the attackers of Stonehammer Homestead, defeated the legendary crag wyrm Rockmaw, saved the elementalist Rogar, recovered the body of the King’s son, Dolgrim Whitescar, defeated the gorik siege engines, two crag trolls, and killed the feared gorik clanboss and monstrous mount. A heroes banquet was held where dverg ale and tales of their amazing feats were shared. Rich rewards and offers of lifelong kinship were solemnly sworn.

Randar also told the party that he believed he had seen Solonar and his captor heading toward Dragonforge. Similarly, Rockwater offered the party to join him in traveling to the gargan home of Graganmal, very near to Dragonforge, where he plans to rally the gargan allies to fight the other gorik wargobs that are mobilizing to attack Thunder Mountain, the dverg’s greatest hold!

At the gaming table

The Fall of Legends

The party raced through spire-filled valley as Rockmaw rapidly descended upon them.

StonemawRockmaw: a name that inspires fear in dverg and gor alike. Lairing above the Valley of Dragon’s Teeth, the stone wyrm has claimed dozens of lives and limited passage to the Midlands for centuries. Measuring over 40 feet long and capable of sundering castles, none have stood against him for long.

When the massive wyrm struck the first spires, they exploded in a lethal rain that pounded Rainer and Ruric. Everyone scattered amongst the spires quickly loosing sight of one another. Rockmaw unleashed his acidic breath weapon fully striking Rogar. The elementalist fell smoldering. Despite his many similar burns, Ruric rushed to Rogar’s aid and drug him to cover.

Rockmaw spotted another target and dove upon Vidar. The stone wyrm clamped his sword-like teeth onto the ranger’s shoulder. The wound sizzled from the acidic bite (2 Con drain – Ouch!). Rockmaw was interrupted from finishing the lonesome ranger by a fireball blast. Rockmaw sped away toward the cliff face.

Maris, sneaking from cover to cover, saw Rockmaw set upon the source of the fireball, Valarious. Rockmaw chomped upon the wizard, spraying blood across the cliff. Then, he ripped Valarious in half. With a shudder, only Maris witnessed the end of Valarious (the longest surviving character in the campaign).

The party fled to the safety of a nearby crevasse while Maris teleported to Valarious’ torso. She grabbed the corpse as Rockmaw darted toward her and teleported to rest of the party. To her dismay, her hands were now empty – Valarious’ corpse had disappeared.

The heroes regrouped and boldly decided to retaliate against the stone wyrm. After Ruric and Rogar prepared and cast their spells, Vidar began firing upon the circling wyrm. As Rockmaw dove from the sky, Erelas and Maris magically flew to intercept. Erelas’ charge was met with a devastating bite that dropped the fae instantly. Fortunately, Maris was right behind him and caught his bleeding form. She raced Erelas to Ruric for healing.

All seemed lost when Rockmaw charged Rainer in the open. With a readied swing, the barbarian sunk his massive cold iron blade into the beast. The wyrm roared and wrapped Rainer in its crushing coils. Despite being grappled, Rainer cleaved another powerful chop into the wyrm’s flank. Meanwhile Vidar peppered the stone wyrm with arrows. Nearly defeated, Rockmaw released the dangerous foe and attempted to flee into the spires. Rainer’s parting blow was again massive and Rockmaw crashed to the earth. Dead.

Maris searched for Valarious’ remains but they had vanished like a coin in the rogue’s sight. She and Erelas used Rogar’s magical flight to ascend to the Dragon’s Maw. After brief exploration, the heroes found Rockmaw’s hoard!

Once all the loot was loaded onto Rogar’s magical steeds, the wyrm-slayers pushed on toward Whitescar Clanhold.

After Vidar slew a trio of gorik sentries, the stealthy party members peered around the boulders and glimpsed the battle of Whitescar! A warband of over a hundred greenskins pounded the dveg fortress with catapults and enormous rocks flung by a pair of crag trolls. Two siege towers were nearing position to span the chasm in front of the dverg cliff-fortress.

Gorik catapultMaris snuck along the boulders and stunted alpine shrubbery and Erelas advanced in magical gorik appearance. Maris struck down one gorgier before the catapult crews even knew they were under attack. Erelas and Rainer charged in as Rogar unleashed a devastating fireball on the other greenskin crew. The gor were quickly slain as the battle on the plateau below raged on.

Erelas, seeing an opportunity to put his engineering knowledge to task, ordered the remaining catapult re-aimed at the siege towers. The first missile was a direct hit on the lead tower, crushing its wheel. The tower leaned precariously as the greenskins scurried in confusion. Vidar rained lightning arrows into several gorik from hundreds of feet away. While Erelas’ crew reloaded the catapult the gor rallied. The crag trolls pushed the hobbled tower into a covering position and then advanced on the heroes.

Meanwhile, Rogar bravely moved into casting range and unleashed a fiery wall down the center of the remaining siege tower. The gorik structure smoldered and smoked but did not burn. As the crag trolls and trailing gorik bore down on him, Rogar levitated into the sky. The trolls launched massive stones at the elementalist sending him cartwheeling through the air wheezing through crushed ribs.

Vidar launched volley after volley into the trolls as they advanced and the most wounded monster was nearly felled before it reached Rainer. Nearly. The rock-encrusted claws ripped through the barbarian’s armor and flesh spilling his entrails to the ground. Rainer fell instantly.

Erelas, Maris and Vidar slashed, stabbed and fired strike after strike into the behemoths. The suffered several grievous wounds themselves, but Ruric reinforced the warriors and healed their largest the worst (including Rainer’s). Eventually, the crag trolls fell and the heroes were victorious.

On the plateau below, the gor managed to span the chasm with the remaining siege tower and had moved ladders into position to scale the walls. With a trumpeting sound the echoed down Whitescar Chasm, a charge of dverg warriors poured from the gate to drive the greenskins back. The battle raged on.

At the gaming table

Maris’ Miraculously Magestic Magnum Opus, Chapters x through y:

The terrifyingly graceful wyrm slammed its enormous body against the rock spires, sending showers of shattered stone upon everyone. I watched in awe and horror as it belched forth a miasma of acidic slime that splashed amongst the rocks causing many severe burns, alas poor Rogar fared the worst having fallen unconscious from the pain of his massive chemical burns. I could see all my friends scrambling like frightened rats trying to find shelter from the onslaught. Vidar distracted the wyrm with a volley of electrical arrows long enough for Ruric to bravely break cover and drag the mortally wounded Rogar to relative safety. Infuriated by Vidar’s audacity, Rockmaw landed before him in a cloud of dirt. The elf despeerately tried to move away and missing his head by mere inches, Rockmaw sank his putrid fangs into Vidar’s shoulder. Hissing with delight, the wyrm was about to swallow the elf whole when an explosion of fire spattered against the mighty beasts’ hide. Its sinewy neck whipped back, locking its reptilian eyes upon its new foe. Valerious was hovering high in the air between the others and myself, waving his hands and muttering the arcane words to cast yet another spell, but he had underestimated the speed and power this wyrm boasted.

Blacksnake Skulks

The heroes departed Fungusdale with the strange, scaled rod tucked into Ruric’s pack. They continued along the dark, damp corridors for several hours until they reached an underground river and its vortex-like drain. Around the rim laid the rotted corpse of a cave bear and a happily dining yellow fungus. Valarious arced a blast of arcane fire into the chamber, which instantly eliminated any threat.

The smoldering room led to a slippery terraced cavern with a rushing underground river in an adjacent chute. Ruric, determined to define the terminal velocity of a weighted dverg, slipped on the ice-like stone and crashed into Valarious. Both tumbled downward narrowly avoiding the neighboring river. Erelas gracefully leapt over the tangle of swearing dwarf and elf. Their descent ended as it slammed into Rainer’s bulk.

Lashtongue batIn the confusion, the silent attack from the cavern’s inhabitants went unheard, until Maris screamed. Lashtongue bats ripped oozing wounds into Vidar and Maris, but they reacted quickly. A crackling bolt of electricity from Valarious fried two bats. One bat simply tumbled too close to the river before being swept away. Three expert bows shots from Vidar (only one arrow struck Maris) killed an equal number. Erelas’ cleaving curveblade and Maris’ dexterous rapier strikes defeated the remainder. The colony was eliminated.

Ruric unleashed a burst of healing energy, which immediately cured the party’s bleeding wounds.

Shortly later, the Blacksnake Caverns opening into the Dragon’s Maw, a 50-foot-tall cave-mouth where the hotspring-fed underground river spilled over a thousand-foot Vukaar Mountain cliff. The sudden change to alpine air created an enormous crystalline ice structure and the waterfall turned into icefall. The heroes, following Rimgar’s map, found a narrow dverg path leading along the face of the outer cliff.

Mountain wyvernEver wary, several people noticed another cave above their route and a serpentine head emerging from it. Suddenly two mountain wyverns burst from the cave and attacked the party. The monsters’ poison-barbed tails struck both Rainer and Vidar. Although terribly weakened, Vidar managed to launch a volley of arrows into one of the winged terrors, single-handedly dropping it from the sky. Meanwhile, the other wyvern suffered hits from Valarious’ magical missiles, Ruric’s crossbow and Maris’ shortbow. Although, not defeated, the beast dropped from the sky after its downed mate. With vengeance, Vidar sent several arrows into the fleeing creature before it disappeared in the misty snowfall.

From the cave above, the party heard a weakened cry for help. Valarious offered to climb up with his magical ring, but with typical distrust Erelas began pounding pitons into the cliff face and slowly advancing. Once inside the cave, both fae found a trapped human elementalist and a dead dverg. The human, clearly suffering, explained he was Rogar the Red of the Four Towers returning from a diplomatic mission to Thunder Mountain with his guide, Dolgrin Whitescar. When the wyverns attacked, Rogar explained, he must have struck his head and lost consciousness. When he awoke, his hands were pinned and his spell components were out of reach. Eventually Rainer and Ruric joined the meeting and removed the rock pinning Rogar. Ruric miraculously healed the nearly dead wizard. The dverg then collected Dolgrin’s body planning to return it to his kin. Rogar decided to stay with the party for now.

The party continued to descend into the valley among the dagger-like spires rising from its floor. At a switchback near the overhead icefall, the surviving wyvern returned. It chomped into Maris lifting her from the narrow ledge threatening to fling her into the abyss, but Erelas slashed the beast from throat to abdomen with an awesome blow. Maris tumbled onto the widened ledge as the beast crashed into the chasm below.

Then, a fiery explosion echoed overhead. The icefall started breaking apart! The resulting avalanche threatened to crush the heroes or sweep them from their narrow ledge, but they raced onward. Several people were struck with heavy chucks of ice but all managed to maintain their footing. Once beyond the worst of the icefall, they paused, clouds of frozen breath filling the crisp air, and realized their worst fears. Stonemaw was airborne. The crag wyrm’s sinuous form was enormous even from hundreds of feet away. Still panting, the heroes rushed for the cover of the valley’s spires.

Even Valarious ran hard with concern on his normally stoic face. Those nearby heard him utter, “This is a fight we cannot win.” Then he started spellcasting. Every member of the group was suddenly bolstered by a supernatural speed allowing them to run twice the speed of any man.

At the gaming table

Maris’ Miraculously Magestic Magnum Opus, Chapters x through y:

It has been several hours since we bid farewell to our new Myconid allies. Of course this entire time we have been plodding through dank, mildewy and slippery tunnels. My entire body and everything I own is soggy and cold. Nary a few moments ago as we made our way down a particularly treacherous ledge near this undergound river by which I sit. His Grace, Ruric, slipped and bowled into several others as he slid down the path, nearly spilling them all into the freezing water. As would be expected, this standard of dverg stealth alerted a swarm of Lashtongue Bats hidden high above in the stalactites. My whole upper torso was awash with flappng, screeching shadows. I flailed instinctively, cutting through the swarm with both my rapiers, but only a few were caught by my slender blades. Their fangs seemed to bite me from every direction and I could feel several lacerations across my face and hands bleeding freely. Then a most unexpected pain filled the back of my thigh, like something just came up and bit me, and I cried out from the intensely sharp affliction. I dropped a rapier as a crackle of lightning snaked overhead and reached my hand behind my leg to cover the wound. That is when I felt the shaft of the elven arrow that was jutting out through the new hole in my expensive armor. Pain vanished as it was replaced with rage. Just like Rainer taught me. The smell of ozone and burnt fur filled my nostrils and I could hear the few remaining bats retreat to the dark recesses of the cavern ceiling. Blood was dripping steadily from my chin and now I felt it flowing freely down the back of my leg. “Damn yer eyes!” I shrieked. The whole of the cavern began to spin and I tried to lean on my other rapier. Dizziness won the battle and I slid to floor, rapier clattering beside me, reciting every curse word, in every language I could recall. Everything was now completely dark, but I felt Ruric next to me. I could hear his whispered prayers and smell his sour breath.
I must endeavor to remember to avoid future quests and adventuring that will likely take me outside the realm of fur slippers, cashmere robes and warm crackling fireplaces… especially since there is never ever EVER any good coin in it. Ever.

Even the unique and stunning beauty of the 1000’ tall frozen waterfall could change my bitter mood. Yes, I was now out of the oppressive darkness of the Blacksnake caverns,standing in the tall cave opening known as the Dragon’s Maw, but for what? I traded my woes for biting cold alpine winds and ice. Of course I am still soaking wet, so that just adds to the “fun”. At least Rimgar’s map was kind enough to show us a winding path to make our way down the cliff face to the base of the massive cascade of ice. Peering out from the “Maw” we quickly spied a pair of winged, dragon-like creatures who appeared to have made their nests in small caves carved into the rocky mountainside above us. Apparently they, too, were peering out of their perches and spied the lot of us as well. With an earsplitting roar the pair leapt into the air and dove towards us with lightning speed. They raced by us, whipping their poisoned tails across Rainer and Vidar. A hail of arrows, fire, and magic counterattacked the wyverns and met them as they glided around for another pass. Vidar was pale from the poison coursing his veins and looked on the verge of unconsciousness, and yet one of them was immediately riddled by the barrage of arrows spit forth by Vidar’s ensorcelled fae bow. It plummeted, lifeless, into the icy fog near the base of the waterfall. The other took a deadly pounding as well, but came racing towards us for another attack. More arrows, bolts and magical missiles assailed the wyvern who nervously broke off its attack and rolled over descending after its mate. Vidar followed it with several more direct hits from his bow, but the beast disappeared in the icy mists below.

That is when we heard the faint cries for help from the wyvern lair above. Erelas and Vidar swiftly made their way up to the cave and found the wyverns’ supper. Rainer and Ruric arrived in time to help with the rescue of Rogar, a human elementalist from Four Towers and his dverg guide. Rainer easily lifted the boulder that pinned the feeble Rogar to the cave floor. Sadly, the dverg was already beyond saving, but Ruric, in his nature, bundled up the corpse to return him to his kin.

We descended into the the icy mists and saw within the massive rocky spires that rose up from the valley below. It was another awe inspiring sight to behold. So much so that I was utterly oblivious to the vengeful return of the surviving wyvern, that is until it sank its talons into my shoulders and began to take off with me. Once more I felt the sickening fear of being in trouble way over my head, no pun intended. Thankfully, before my feet were but a few yards off the ground, I heard the striking ki of Erelas as his blade flashed out of the corner of my eye. I felt its warm blood spray my shoulders and head as it released its grip, crashed onto the trail with a gurgled grunt and rolled off the ledge, dragging its spilled entrails down the cliff face. I thought they smelled bad on the outside…

FINALLY! I can put this whole leg of our journey behind me! Only a few hours more and I will be in the relative comfort and safety of the dverg city of Whitescar. What else could possibly be worse than a pair of nasty, hungry, toxic wyvern? Well, let me elucidate you…

We were all, very nearly, knocked off our feet at the tremor that seemed to shake the entire mountain. The thundering cracks of giant shards of ice breaking away from the waterfall filled our ears. Ice, snow and rock began to tumble down upon us. A handful of paces from the base of the valley and it seemed the mountain was now going to fall on us. But wait! There’s more! Everyone began to sprint the remaining distance to get off the narrow icy trail. I took a moment to look up and see why this giant ice monolith was splintering and saw it. I had heard stories about such things, but nobody save a travelling bard had ever claimed to see one. I did not even believe such a creature existed, until now. It was the largest living thing I had ever witnessed and it filled me with a dread I have never known. Behold the living legend. Behold, Dragonmaw. I heard Valarious say, with stern fear in his voice, “This is a battle we cannot win.” I watched my comrades speed away to find cover among the rocky spires of the Valley of Dragon’s Teeth ahead. I knew in my heart we would not make it in time. I bade my friends a whispered, “Godspeed,” and found a nearby shadowy crevasse to melt into and watch whate’re fate befell them.

Holy grail20rabbit

Return to Fungusdale

The heroes descended deeper into the night gorbin cavern and found a chamber full of the black-green skinned beasties. They unleashed a barrage of small javelins which turned harmlessly off of Rainer’s chain armor, and Maris easily danced out of harm’s way. The heroes closed and rent a swath of gorbin death; the tiny creatures provided meaningless (dare I say plebeian?) resistance.

Maris descended to the next chamber holding her glowing coin aloft, it’s light muted by her shadowy cloak. She and Erelas saw more foes and the elf charged in. Maris cried a warning as a tunneltick dropped from the ceiling onto Erelas. The monster, ridden by a gorbin boss, latched its blood-sucking maw onto the solareth fae draining his lifeblood. The party closed. Maris skewered the monster. Vidar blasted it with crackling electrical arrows. The tick rider seemed momentarily out-of-control and Erelas struck with the skill of his ancient race. He drove his three-and-a-half-foot long, slender, curved blade into the monster’s serrated mouth, through its head and into the abdomen of its rider. Both rider and mount collapsed dead from the solareth fae’s deadly strike.

The remaining two gorbin attempted to flee but were taken down by Valarious’ magical bolts and Vidar’s ranged death attacks.

Maris was first to notice, among the debris pile in the chamber, a dark metal rod. It was scaled and ended in a tapered claw with pointed talons. Erelas averted his eyes when shifting to his magical sight due to the brilliance of the object. Valarious offered to study the object but was rebuffed by the suspicious Ruric who tucked the clawed icon into his pack.

The heroes continued looking for signs of the missing mycon. The caves descended to a low point at long chasm thirty feet deep. Rainer climbed down but slipped and landed hard. Ruric followed without incident until he saw two giant whiptail centipedes closing. Fearless of their poisonous bite, the spire dwarf charged and from above Vidar unleashed another series of lightning bolt attacks with his enchanted bow. The first centipede died as Maris surfed the chasm slope down to the fray. The ten-foot long whiptail lashed at Ruric, knocking him down, followed by a vicious bite. The centipedes poison, strong enough to kill a man, had no effect on the dverg. Maris, Vidar and Valarious finished the monster off before it could continue its attack on Ruric.

Ruric healed the injured (including himself) and they pressed on. The caves ascended and the heroes found the remains of the mycon they were searching for. It was suspended to the wall with several burn injuries that had obviously killed it. Ruric noted that the injury patterns showed that it had recently died, had some form of injury resistance or regeneration and was especially vulnerable to flame-based injury.

Mycon cathedralThe rest of the gorbin caves were abandoned so the heroes returned to the mycon cathedral, Fungusdale. The mycons asked Ruric to present the icon to their father-leader. They passed halls of toadstools, molds and threatening fungi undisturbed. Upon reaching the colony’s core, they found a great mass of plant matter with undulating pseudopods and yellowish spore pockets. The sporothrope was disappointed by the death of its offspring but focused more on the metal, scaled icon that Ruric held. Telepathically it communicated that “a blight has invaded my mind” and “it,” meaning the icon, “comes from the hot pain room.” The sporothrope demanded, “take this hard stone from this place,” but then suddenly becomes hostile and commanded the mycons to attack! The sporothrope lobbed a spore-bomb at Rainer, which left him sputtering and confused.

Mycon 2Both Valarious and Ruric recognized some form of compulsion or magical effect upon the sporothrope. Ruric prayed to the ancestors to clear the mycon’s “mind”. Meanwhile, Maris drew her flaming coalbrand, which caused the nearby mycons to retract. Ruric severed the magical compulsion and the sporothrope immediately became neutral again. “The blight is strong. Destroy it or flee!”

Ruric, certain that the real threat existed in the next chamber urged the party onward. The natural cavern, full of metallic sheets and a semi-circular wall of fire, proved a sweltering cauldron indeed. A pair of, and then a third, fire elementals surged from the flames and attacked the party. Then Vidar and Ruric saw the outline of a drakin spellcaster amongst the flames. Rainer ignored the searing heat and charged forward. Ruric wrapped his fire-resistant cloak around himself and doused the flaming barbarian with conjured water. The spellcaster blasted Rainer with a scorching ray, while Maris, Erelas and Valarious battled the elementals.

Rainer, devoid of pain in his ferocious rage, cleaved into the red-scaled reptilian foe with his enormous blade. The drakin, severely injured, fled through the fiery wall. Rainer pursued. Ruric having summoned a field of silence also rushed through the flames to quiet the drakin’s spellcasting. Stymied and near death, the drakin thrust an obsidian orb to the cavern floor creating a blast of force and debris that pounded Rainer, Ruric, and almost flattened Vidar, who had just closed to make another bow attack. Fortunately, the spire dwarf’s supernatural silence protected the party from the worst of the attack. When the dust cleared, the drakin laid dead at Rainer’s feet.

Triumphant, the party returned to the mycon leader. He offered the party a place to safely rest, allowed them to harvest valuable fungi from his colony’s grotto, and again demanded that the party take the strange drakin icon from his colony. Both Maris and Valarious gladly complied.

At the gaming table

Maris’ Miraculously Magestic Magnum Opus, Chapters x through y:

I ducked and weaved through the pitiful shower of javelins and engaged the closest foe. While I wove a deadly tapestry of swordstrikes upon my target, I saw Rainer wade into the rest of them, roaring like a madman. He cut them down effortlessly with little need for help. I cannot help but wonder if he can be that wild and ferocious in the bedchamber. Time for daydreaming later! We hurried to yet another cavern and yet another wave of gorbin javelins. A bug rider fell from the ceiling and set upon Erelas. He was pinned by the creatures and dug its horrible mandibles into his flesh. This, apparently, did not sit well with our new elf-friend, for as I pressed my attack on the rider and Vidar’s electrical arrows crackled and snapped past me into the screeching bug, Erelas exploded in a flurry of flashing steel, finally driving his strange curved sword up through the belly of the beast and into the doomed rider. I was both impressed and nauseated at the sight. On a cautionary note, as powerful and deadly as Vidar is with his bow, I must get assurance from him that he will always miss me. The others easily cut down the remaining gorbin and that is when my eyes saw a shiny! Atop a pile of refuse near the back of the room I spied a metallic trinket. It looked like the leg and claw of a rooster, both valuable and a bit weird at the same time. Erelas winced and rubbed his eyes as he confirmed that this was, indeed, a rather potent magical item. Perfect! Now we only needed to rescue the captive myconid to redeem ourselves.

Deeper into the gorbin tunnels we went until our path was blocked by a deep trench spanned above by vines that looked somewhat traversable. The walls of the trench were sloped rather steeply but only 30-40’ deep with a few climbable vines descending them. I began examining the vines above for durability, when Rainer decided to simply climb down… and promptly fell in like a sack of wet compost. I rolled my eyes and sighed audibly when I saw Ruric had decided to follow. The dverg may very well be the avatar of a living God walking the Twilight Realms, but that does not mean he is always the sharpest sword in the armory. Luck smiled upon him, though as he made it down safely, but then luck’s smile turned to a wicked grin as the sound of hundreds of clattering claws approached and a massive, undulating centipede with a sharp, whip-like tail came racing down the trench towards him. The bellowing battle cry to Clanggedin filled the chasm as Ruric charged recklessly toward the advancing creature. Brave and noble, though he is, Ruric is not a warrior. Vidar reacted immediately, loosing several charged arrows into the head of the beast finishing off what the cleric had started. That is when the second whiplash centipede emerged from the darkness, scrambling swiftly over its deceased mate! I leapt over the side of the chasm and deftly slid down (such grace I am sure none of my fellow party members hath e’re witnessed) landing on both feet and drawing my rapier along its body, severing several of its legs. Enraged, its sinewy tail lashed forth, knocking Ruric off his feet and with incredible speed the creature skittered upon the dverg and bit deeply, injecting him wtih a foul poison as another barrage of electrified arrows and sorcerous magic rained down around us, blasting the monster to gooey bits. Luck seems to wax and wane for Ruric like the ticking of a clock, for despite being poisoned, he stood up, wiped the ichorous remains from his robes, spat on the dead insects without a blink and ordered the lot of us to get to climbing! Vidar decided to use the hanging vines to cross the pit, but soon discovered they were boobytrapped and gave way causing him to plunge unceremoniously into the chasm. While everyone made their way out, I took the opportunity to draw in this particular area on Rimgar’s map, everyone laughed at my drawing and commented that it was the most feminine looking chasm of death they had ever seen. Ugh. Men.

The tunnel on the other side almost immediately opened up and began ascending to a wide, flat area upon which we saw the horrible carnage. The abducted myconid was bound against the stone wall. It had several of its apendages cut off and thrown in a pile near it. It’s wounds were all cauterized by flame, assumably to prevent it from healing itself. It had been stabbed, cut, burned and slowly tortured to death with in the last few hours. All while we had left it to its grizzly doom. I began to weep for the poor, noble creature. I did not say a word, I only looked into the eyes of each of my comrades in turn and they knew my anguish. They knew why this mycon was now dead. We gathered the remains, looted the dead gorbin and made our return to Fungusdale. I didn’t even care about the standard pitiful palmful of coin we found. It was a long and quiet walk back.

Upon our arrival, we were ushered through the bizzare and alien settlement of the myconids to meet their leader. I have never seen such beautiful, yet terrifying plantlife as I saw in those caverns. I even saw some cunning traps made from the plants themselves! Thank the Gods we were considered a friend in this garden of botanical nightmares. We reached the “royal” chamber of Fungusdale and saw that their leader was a rather disgusting mass of wet, quivering plant matter and writhing tentacles. Large yellow spore sacs slowly expanded and contracted like jaundiced lungs. Now I can add hot and humid to the list of dark, cold, wet, dirty and bloodied. I could barely take a deep breath the air was so thick with heated moisture. Ruric seemed to be talking to the leader, though I STILL could not hear it speak anything. He presented the mycon body and then brought out the strange trinket I had found. The leader shuddered noticeably then and Ruric seemed to become unsettled. That is when I saw the myconids all around were closing in on us menacingly. I drew my glowing rapier and moved back to back with Rainer. The plants surrounded all of us and slowly advanced. With a burbling shudder, one of the yellow spore sacs was ejected from the leader and arced overhead landing at Rainer’s feet, erupting in a nebula of poison. I leapt away from the noxious cloud and suddenly remembered, “I have a bloody flaming shortsword!” I reached between my shoulders and pulled out the coal brand, which burst into firey life. My show of flaming magical power did cause them to hesitate. I twirled and waved my sword back and forth in a blazing display of martial prowess. My quick thinking had single handedly saved all of us, as the myconids began to retreat! Sometimes I amaze even myself.

The King Fungus Blob must have enthralled poor Ruric’s mind for now the crazed dverg announced we were off to slay the fire wizard that oppressed the helpless myconid community. Before I could argue some sense into the chaotic aire of the moment, Ruric had led the party down a sweltering tunnel lit faintly by distant firelight. As long as we were escaping this current ambush attempt, I was fine with clocking the charmed dverg back to his senses at a later time and place. It was a surprisingly short trip down the rocky corridor to the lair of the offending wizard. I deftly leapt across a pool of seething hot oil set as a trap for more plebian intruders and found myself in a small cavern which felt like standing inside a steaming, bubbling pot of Maiden Theyriel’s Crab & Potatoes. The walls were adorned with strange curtains of fire and my eye’s caught the form of a creature weaving magic through the waves of distorting heat. Monstrosities appeared from the flaming curtains, beings of pure fire, conjured by the elementalist mage and commanded to attack us! I easily danced about the slow moving fire-beasts, slashing and stabbing through them with great ease, though I could not tell if I was actually wounding the creatures. After a short bit I became bored with this game, but fortunately something worked. The elementals dissipated into the humid air with a whipered groan. I scanned about the room quickly and could see Rainer, Ruric and Vidar had plunged into a firey curtain and disappeared. I stood aghast for a moment before I heard the raging battle cries of Rainer, followed by some inhuman screeching and hissing. A tremendous thud reverberated through the stone floor upon which I stood and I nearly lost my balance as a roasting gust of wind blasted the room. I dropped to one knee trying to catch my breath in the sweltering heat and saw my lost comrades emerge from the flaming walls, bloodied and charred, but alive. They had defeated the mage, and now, we were to return to the Mushroom King. This time making sure I was in no position to be ambushed, we presented the scaled claw trinket and the torn robe of the mage to His Majesty. I can only suppose that He was mightily impressed by us since Ruric announced that we were not only free to leave in peace, but were welcome to stay and even replenish any of our needs from their stocks. Sadly, most of their edible fare seemed rather squishy, moldy, dirty and not-so-edible. More sadly was the fact that there was, ONCE AGAIN, nary a shred of good treasure to loot NOR in reward for saving the myconids. Ruric took possession of the trinket since it gave mee the creeps. I wonder why fate hath placed me in the role of “copperless do-gooder”? Perhaps I have developed an unfortunate reputation of being generous with my skills while working gratis. If so, I will need to eradicate this image quickly.

Blacksnake Caverns

Ruric provided the last rites for Stonehammer’s fallen dverg. The heroes’ victory against the gorik was hollowed by the carnage around them. The next morning, they left the spire dwarf tower and entered the Stonehammer mines with Rimgar’s map in hand.

Rimgar Stonehammer beseeched the heroes to deliver a letter to his missing son, Randar, and help the neighboring dverg community, Whitescar Clanhold. Rimgar gave the party a map through his mines and the ajoining Blacksnake Caverns. Blacksnake caverns

The trek through the mines was uneventful, although eerily empty. Ruric couldn’t help but be saddened by the absence of ringing picks and rumbling mining cartwheels. It wasn’t long, however, into the natural caverns beyond that the party found signs of trouble. Ruric identified the corpse of a night gorbin, a devious underground greenskin with skin nearer to black than green. The gorbin died of unclear causes but had a peculiar fungal growth on its exposed skin.

Black gorbinLater, in a stalactite and stalagmite filled cathedral, the night gorbin attacked! From the cover of a craftily obscured defensive position, the creatures loosed a pair of spear-like missiles at the party’s front. Rainer was struck soundly while Ruric was blasted to the ground, suffering a blow that would have killed half a dozen normal men. Maris used her incredible ring to instantly appear behind the attackers and rapidly dispatched a creature as it reloaded the missile thrower. Vidar killed the other gunner with a series of incredible bowshots that passed through an arrow slit-sized opening. Erelas rushed forward and slashed one of the gorbin while Valarious unleashed a bolt of lighting. The blinding flash of electricity surged harmlessly over the solareth fae but electrocuted the two night gorbin. As the ozone cleared, the approaching fae wizard nonchalantly commented, “the tomes read of your kind’s magical resistance. I’m glad the tales are not exaggerated.”

The sylva fae wizard paused as though listening to someone talking and then said, “there is a cry for help. It comes from the darkness,” pointing toward the night gorbin’s tunnel. Ruric and Erelas scoffed. Then the barbarian said, “I hear it too. It’s not human. The words are wrong. But it definitely wants help.” The party debated but ultimately decided that further investigation would delay their primary mission. They pressed on.

MyconA couple of hours later, the party reached another limestone cathedral. This space glowed subtly from the luminescent toadstools and patches of lichen. Then, they saw a moving fungoid creature, followed by two more. Ruric identified them as mycons, sentient but alien creatures. The leader spoke with an empathic telepathy. It explained that its people warred with the gorbin and their foes had stolen a revered icon and held one of their kind captive. The mycon asked for help saving his kin. This request reversed Ruric’s earlier decision and he urged the party to help. There was almost no dissent this time.

The heroes returned to the night gorbin caves and began the slippery descent. Maris led with her enchanted light-giving coin. She dipped into a chamber where a large, flat floor was crisscrossed with watery channels and dung-covered purple egg piles. As others started climbing or sliding down the chute above, a giant tick the size of a brown bear dropped from the ceiling and attacked the rogue. She evaded the massive mandibles and the saw-like teeth and stabbed with her fine rapier. Ruric gracelessly slid past the combat only to find a second giant tick dropping from above. Then it was clear that the monsters were being ridden by night gorbin. Both (NOT Maris -ed.) and Ruric were bitten and latched onto by the blood-sucking monsters (but neither contracted red filth). Vidar blasted the nearest night gorbin rider was a flurry of arrows while Eralas made darting strikes against the other gorbin’s mount. Ruric broke from the monster’s bite and finished it off. The remaining giant tick was quickly defeated by the party’s combined assault.

Ruric healed the party and they descended into the next chamber. A band of night gorbin loosed a salvo of small javelins while others withdrew into a chamber beyond.

At the gaming table

Maris’ Miraculously Magestic Magnum Opus, Chapters x though y:

It is bad enough being constantly cold and dirty while I seek my more-than-well deserved fortune and glory. Now I am put upon by this pitiful dverg to NOT ONLY find his lost son, Randar, but to do so I must venture through Stonehammer’s, likely gorbin infested, mines and the Blacksnake, definitely gorbin infested, Caverns. Add ‘dark’, ‘wet’ and ‘bloodied’ to the aforementioned constants of ‘cold’ and ‘dirty’. Why do the bards not sing of these miseries in their epic ballads? How many of our friends have we lost to the evils of these perilous lands? Well I, for one, have had just about enough of this ceaseless barrage of community service heroics for nary a palmful of coin. I refuse to step one boot into this dank underground!

A full day we have travelled through these ominously silent mines without a sign nor trace of evil-intent, aside from Valarious. When Rimgar mentioned the great black wyrm that resides in Blacksnake Caverns I was immediately overcome with emotion, my sense of loyalty and friendship towards my partymembers. Had I not already learned this powerful lesson? How could I turn my back on them again as they now venture forth to face such a dangerous and deadly creature of the cavernous dark? I needed to be there for them, in this critical path. Especially since they would undoubtably need help carrying out the treasure horde that, I have heard many a tale tell, these kinds of creatures often keep. Plus, Rimgar offered us a map to help us on our way. How I LOVE maps!

The caverns were rat tunnels compared to the dverg mine. I had trouble squeezing through some its passages, were it not for the slick wetness that permeates the stone I suspect Ruric and Rainer would have not made it thus far. We came across the rancid corpse of, what Ruric identified as, a “night gorbin” covered in a nasty mold. I suspect it is a common growth in a place so sodden and clammy as this. I kept Rimgar’s map handy, making occasional corrections and adding detail to this work of art as we plodded along. While I ruminated on whether I preferred a rakish charmer over a good map, I heard a familiar whistle snap past both my ears, and Ruric grunted that deep sounding, wet, cry of pain that only meant big trouble.

Instictively dropping to a low crouch, I saw him reel back, gasping, a ridiculously massive arrow protruding from his gut. He dropped to one knee then toppled back. Damn it. My gaze snapped next to Rainer, spitting frothy curses as he snapped off the arrow shaft stuck in his shoulder and moved to find cover in this open cavern passage. I quickly spotted the two stone bunkers that housed our ambushers further down the passage. To attempt the long dash to counterattack, across this barren stone gauntlet, would be suicide. We were as exposed and vulnerable as a naked paladin, which I actually witnessed that one night in Whitecrag. I concentrated on the figures moving behind the stone aperture of the left bunker and, with a twitch of my ringfinger, I blinked through the otherworld and instantly found myself standing behind a pair of unsuspecting gorbin attempting to reload a massive crossbow. I quickly shook off the mild dizziness and nausea from my trip and buried both my blades deep into the back of the gorbin holding the deadly ammunition. He gurgled softly, a look of terrified shock on his repulsive face, as he slid quietly to the rocky floor. The gunner’s mate turned towards me with a shriek of surprise. It fumbled for its small sword but was completely unhinged by the sudden flash of light and earsplitting thundercrack outside the bunker. Valerious, I assumed. The befuddled gorbin stood there, shaking nervously, looking around him for some unseen solution to his predicament. I stood poised for a couple breaths, yet before he could come to any decisive action, like a swift wind, Erelas came from above the bunker wall and fell upon the hapless gorbin. The cavern fell nearly silent, except for the faint sounds of dvergish prayers followed by an angelic glow that enshrouded Ruric. He stood up, pulling the arrow from his body and taking a deep breath, snapped it between his thick hands. He is the luckiest cuss I have ever laid eyes upon. I searched through the remains of the lightning scorched bunker and found nothing more than a pile of worthless gorbin gear. Not a single damnable coin. What bullette-shite.

As we began to continue forward, Valarious called our attention. He started wincing slightly like he was thinking too hard and it hurt, but then spoke about a voice he was hearing, calling for help. My hands crept to the hilts of my blades. So it was now, I thought, I would finally be putting an end to Valarious’ madness. Then Rainer blurted out that he heard it too and that it did not sound human to him, but was definitely pleading for him to travel down a side tunnel. Ruric and Erelas immeditely dismissed the talk and stated that it was a trap and that they were being lured to their doom by sinister spirits. It was then that I finally felt a small… presence, I suppose is the best word. The presence was trying to enter my thoughts much like a stranger knocking on my door. I still heard no voices, but I wasn’t about to let this stranger in. Obviously we should go investigate this, I told my friends, but they all rebuked me, even those that could hear the voice. They all thought it was a trap and voted to ignore the plea for help and move onward. Well, that cinched it. How dare this band of adventure seekers drag me into this dark, wet, cold, dirty and bloodied hole in the ground, then scarper off at the first sign of something spooky? “How dare you call yourselves adventurers!?” I admonished them, “So, what if it is a trap? What better way to go into a dangerous situation than knowing there is a trap and being all the more vigilant for it? What if someone truly needs our help? If you turn your back on them, their fate and any blood that comes of it, is on your hands!” With an uncaring huff they all turned and marched on. I stood, glaring daggers into my cowardly cockatrice group of friends. For a brief moment I entertained the thought of investigating the side tunnel on my own, but as the light of my party walked away, the deep darkness began to close in upon me and I thought better of wandering off by myself. As confident as I am in my own skill, I am in a strange and dangerous place. So, against my own desire to answer a call for help, I reluctantly trotted to catch up with my party.

It was but a few hours before we came to another wide chamber similar to the last ambush site. However, this one was lit by strangely glowing mosses and lichens giving the stalagmite and stalagtite filled chamber the unnerving shadow of a gigantic bestial maw. An oddly shaped figure shuffled into the light. Ruric signalled everyone to halt and announced this creature, a strange mansized walking mushroom, was called a Myconid and that it sought our help. I fully admit that I am no expert on the subject of giant fungus, but I could not figure out how Ruric seemed to know everything they wanted for I surely could not hear any voice speaking to him. For a fleeting moment I hoped that this creature was the one that had pleaded for our help, until Ruric explained that the myconids had been fighting the gorbin and some of their own had been taken, along with a sacred totem of some sort. My heart sank, for I knew we had abandoned a poor soul in need of our help. Ruric seemed to understand the same responsibility, but in his stoic gruffness told everyone we were heading back from whence we came and made no further comment. More hours passed as we made our way back to the small side tunnel as swiftly as the terrain allowed.

I led the way down the steep, narrow passage. Groundwater seeping from countless fissures ran like a small creek down the slope, making it extremely slippery. Natural feminine grace saw me safely to a small cavern at the base of the slope. My small coin providing a dim glow of my surroundings was enough to reveal the massive insectoid drop towards me from above. I yelped a quick cry of alarm to my comrades while sidestepping the creature and driving one of blades through its chitinous thorax. It was then I looked up and saw a dark gorbin astride this giant bug like some aberrant cavalier upon his wreched steed. My friends joined the fray quickly despite Ruric slipping on the steep incline and arrived, dumped in a heap, beside me. The nasty bug latched its grotesque mandibles into poor Ruric and would not release him. Another giant bug and rider appeared and drew the attention of the rest of the party while I slashed and stabbed into the creature as Ruric turned the tide and wrestled it to the ground. The gorbin rider tried desperately to stay mounted, but died as he fell from his saddle. Quickly we moved into the next chamber beyond and were met with a volley of small poisoned javelins. These pesty gorbin were wasting my precious time!
Holy grail20rabbit

Saviors of Stonehammer

Ruric’s healing power knitted Ranier’s rent flesh as a new gob of gorik thundered down the steps above. As the heroes moved into position to battle the foes, Maris leapt from hiding and skewered the leading greenskin. The savage fought on with an incredible ferocity despite its lethal injuries. Ruric and Rainer met the wave of gorik with killing chops and slashes. The gob leader leapt from the stairs toward Maris, but crashed heavily to the ground. She struck several piercing attacks before the gorik even stood up. The foe made only one weakened swipe before it succumbed to the shadowy woman’s flurry of attacks. Meanwhile, more gorik pushed forward until a new ally was revealed.

The rearmost gorik silently turned into a fair-skinned warrior elf. The graceful solareth fae effortless slashed his long curved blade into the backs of his foes. The remaining gorik were stunned and confused by the sudden appearance of the elf. The flanking heroes cut down the remaining disorganized goriks. Once Rainer stopped frothing, the elf introduced himself as Erelas, an infiltrator of the greenskin tribes. He explained that this band of gorik are part of a larger tribe who call themselves Skullreavers, and they have joined several other large gorik tribes in fighting the dverg. The party replied with their mission to find their friend Solonar and investigate the growing threats to the region. Erelas also revealed that the wargob leader is upstairs and the dverg head of the homestead is probably still alive!

The heroes and their new elven companion moved up the stairs. Erelas resumed his gorik appearance and entered the kitchen full of greenskins. He positioned himself into a rear corner while Maris boldly approached the front door. With her blades hidden in her cloak, she said “Hi fellas. Anyone looking for a good time?” The gorik were completely stunned when Erelas cut the first one down. Maris had placed three lethal holes in the nearest foe, easily avoiding his clumsy advance. Ruric raced into the room engaging the remaining gorik.

Gorik warriorA fearsome roar echoed off the stones from down the hallway. Nearly every hero was shaken as an enormous gorik with thick bands of metal-tipped armor and a gargan-sized greataxe entered the fray. Ranier moved up to halt his advance and struck the greenskin boss with a tremendous blow from his greatsword. The gorik retaliated with an even greater blow. Vidar and Erelas moved up to help the barbarian only to suffer a massive sweeping attack that badly injured Erelas and dropped Vidar to the cold, stone floor. With a howl of rage, Rainer drove his sword into the greenskin who finally collapsed under his own massive girth.

Ruric quickly healed Vidar and the others, preventing certain death. Shortly afterward, the heroes discovered the tortured form of Rimgar Stonehammer. Ruric healed the elder fjell-dverg who recovered and became profusely grateful. Rimgar embraced his son Kelgor and praised the heroes. He confirmed the goriks’ plan for the remainder of the Skullreaver tribe to attack a larger dverg stronghold to the east, the Whitescar Clanhold. He also told the heroes his other son, Randar, an expert tracker, headed in the direction of Whitescar en route to Thunder Mountain. Stonehammer gave the heroes a generous lode of gold and dverg goods for saving him. He offered even more for finding his son and delivering a letter. Lastly, he gave the party a map of the Stonehammer mine and Blacksnake Caverns beyond. He explained this would be the most passable route to Whitescar, but he warned: “Beware the jaws of the stone drake who lives in the Dragon’s Teeth!”

At the Gaming Table

Set Piece: The Fallen Tower, Part 2

The heroes had little time to recuperate however. A squad of red-skinned drakin (as they are call themselves in their native hissing language), charged the heroes. Two of their number were felled and the rest withdrew back up the spire’s central stair. The heroes raced to pursue.

Meanwhile, Malfridr saw her opportunity to escape. She had been caged in a small round room adjoining a larger room where a drakin brute stoked a brazier’s fire. He had added a concoction that filled the room with smoke and made Malfridr’s eyelid’s heavy. She was able to resist the worst of its effects however and cleverly acted increasingly drunk. Convinced his captive was incapacitated, the drakin opened her cell and drug her near the braizer where he intended to slowly end her life with searing blades. Her captor, hearing the sounds of battle in the room beyond, turned from Malfridr and went to the door. She grasped a red-hot blade and with a Nova Kaaran battlecry she struck at her foe.

Outside, Dzurdin, Aeirik and Mulgrim battled the cornered drakin. Seeing the drakin brute and the barbarian maiden’s struggle, the heroes surged forward. In the face of the heavily armored and more powerful foe, Malfridr proudly sang an inspiring battle hymn which bolstered her new allies. Her barbarian kinsman, Dzurdin, frenzied and determined, slammed his hammer and axe upon the drakin warrior like an northern blizzard. Seeing her opportunity, Malfridr slid her glowing fae blade between the drakin’s ribs. The foe belched smoke before collapsing to the ground. Meanwhile, Aeirik and Mulgrim defeated the remaining drakin suffering only minor wounds.

Burning skeletonFollowing introductions, Malfridr refused to return to the tribe. Dzurdin was uncertain how to proceed and decided to focus on defeating the drakin menace first. The companions returned to the third floor and entered a multi-tired temple with alters dedicated to five elements. (The oddity of this was lost on the the party with no formal elementalism training. All elementalists know there are only four prime elements.) The darkened room also contained the undead remains of the tower’s original guards. Five flaming skeletons with fae blades closed and slashed and burned several heroes before they were defeated.

The party rested for a while before ascending to the upper floor of the fae tower. Mulgrim charged up the stairs and engaged an albino cave crocodile. The beast grabbed the dverg with its powerful jaws, but the stalwart dwarf would not be crushed or rolled. Dzurdin tried to dodge past to strike the beast’s master beyond, but the crocodile lashed a powerful tail at the barbarian striking him soundly. Thoroughly engaged, the pale monster was unable to slow Aeirik or Malfridr from charging the drakin shaman seated in a makeshift throne. The shaman summoned a sword of flame and danced with the melee fighters. Despite giving several burns and gashes, the flanking pair took their foe down.

Dzurdin transformed his hands into drakin-like claws and tore at the crocodile’s softer underbelly. Mulgrim freed himself and set to hammering the beast flat. It quickly fell to the combined onslaught. As Aeirik and Mal raced to help, a pair of fire monitors, having climbed the outer wall, moved defensively over the fallen shaman’s body. The party charged them both and killed them swiftly before either made a single fiery attack.

The fighting was over and no other threats loomed in the fallen tower. The shaman carried a cloak of resistance and a handful of scrolls written in a foreign language. (The party later learned some were necromantic scrolls used to create burning undead. Some months later, Malfridr met a traveling storyteller who told the Tale of Dragonfall. Afterward, she asked if he spoke draconic and showed him the notes the party found. He said, “some ancient stories are written in the tongue of the Dragon High Lords. I have picked up a bit here and there. Now let’s see. Daesth tareth nar ik taethys. Use the scrolls on the surface creatures’ corpses. Marith mir ae ranneth. Return to me and report what you find. Dar dannik ik braenith darsyth. Now begins the burning darkness. Hmm. What do you suppose that means?”


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