Tales from Elrond

Life and Death in the Burial Tombs of Cynidicea

Like the majority of the Cynidicean population, Severius Pollos had spent his entire life living in the once glorious underground city. After his parents were killed at a very young age by Zargon cultists, he was taken in through an act of kindness by a mid-ranking priest of the Brotherhood of Gorm (who would later become its second-ranking member) named Kanadius. Having no children of his own, Kanadius cared for Severius as if he were his own son and mentored him in the teachings of Gorm. Under Kanadius’ teaching, Severius became a strong and capable fighter and Gorm blessed him with the power to cast magic in his name. Severius was a star pupil, and fanatically loyal to the Brotherhood and their leadership. Owing his life to Kanadius and the institution that protected and cared for him, Severius’ loyalty has made him close-minded to any criticism of the Brotherhood, and its leadership, and he can see no fault with their teachings or their belief that only their faction, and no other in Cynidicea, could defeat the Cult of Zargon and return Cynidicea to its former glory.

When the five outsiders from the world above found themselves lost in the desert and sought refuge in the depths of the passageway in the exposed top of the Cynidicean pyramid, they stumbled across members of the Brotherhood. Most of the outsiders appeared to believe in the ideals of law, justice and good, and one of them, Takashi, even pledged himself to Gorm as a lesser member of the Brotherhood. The group’s dwarven cleric, Gorin, was a follower of a deity that Severius had never heard of, a goddess named Ulaa, but from what information Gorin told the Brotherhood about his goddess, she appeared to represent similar ideals to those of Gorm and Severius accepted that Gorin’s faith was honorable.

The visit from the outsiders, and their unfamiliar ways and the things they spoke about that were above ground intrigued Severius. Of course, he was dedicated to the Brotherhood of Gorm and the restoration of their city, but to see what lay above the ground and beyond the sand was something that Severius found exciting; and to be able to go forth into these new places and spread the faith of Gorm was something that Severius believed could satisfy his curiosity, as well as provide a path that might expand the following to his god and stop the slow death of his deity. Of course, Kanadius forbid Severius from leaving the city. The Brotherhood of Gorm was dwindling in numbers with each new generation as more and more Cynidiceans turned to escape in fantasy, drugs and liquor instead of rebuilding their society. Every member was valuable and would be needed in the struggles sure to come.

Despite his great respect for the wisdom of the Brotherhood’s leaders, Severius believed that Gorm would show him, and the Brotherhood, what needed to be done; the omens were present if one only took the time to look. This very belief would strengthen Severius’ resolve to leave Cynidicea for the outside when the five outsiders returned to the Brotherhood after a deadly foray into the pyramid’s burial tier. Apparently some vermin and foul undead had taken over parts of the tier and all of the group was severely wounded and two of their number, Gorin and Joreal, had been killed. Takashi pleaded the Brotherhood for aid, and as a lesser member, he was provided with healing for him and his comrades. Raising the dead was something that could not be done for mere charity and Grandmaster Kanadius sent a request to Supreme Grandmaster Efferzius for guidance.

Supreme Grandmaster Efferzius himself answered the request in person, traveling to the pyramid from the city with an entourage for protection. He spoke with Kanadius and the outsiders, and while he sympathized for the loss of their comrades, he could not bring their comrades back from the dead unless they pledged to do something to honor Gorm and his cause. With grief-filled eyes over the death of his comrades, particularly his fellow dwarf, Gorin, Dovak stepped up and pledged himself body and soul to Gorm to spread his faith and teachings to the outside. Both Kanadius and Efferzius studied Dovak with their Helms of Telepathy to see if the dwarf’s words were indeed truth and not just an opportunist attempt to say anything to bring his companions back. The Helms showed that Dovak’s convictions were true and after his acceptance as a full member of the Brotherhood, Supreme Grand Master Efferzius called the spirits of Jorael and Gorin back to the living.

The following day after rest and recuperation, the outsiders again went back into the burial tier to continue their travels to the tiers below, so they may find someone that could help them get back to their civilization. The Brotherhood had grown by two members from the outside and Efferzius and Kanadius saw this as a good omen; perhaps these two outsiders would be able to increase the following of Gorm if they were successful in leaving Cynidicea.

Alas, the burial tier, with no regular patrols to cleanse the undead, had become tainted with a considerable presence of undead- more than any of the Cynidiceans believed resided in the dark tombs and corridors. The outsiders found themselves besieged by a large group of zombies. They fought valiantly to destroy the abominations, but the zombies were quite resilient to damage and were unrelenting. Gorin met his end standing up to more than half of the group singing praise to Ulaa and smashing his foes with his Warhammer. When Gorin went down his will to live went with him. From what his comrades say, it was clear that the demons that haunted Gorin from the past had never let go, and perhaps he had finally found escape in death. Should this be true, Severius did not believe that Gorin was weak, but instead thought of the dwarf as selfless and courageous. To freely give up oneself to death when there was still work to be done must have been hard, but Severius saw the power of Gorm in even this incident. With Gorin’s passing, there was a need for a cleric in the outsiders’ group, and with two newly pledged followers of Gorm with barely an idea of what Gorm and his faith represented they would need spiritual guidance to properly worship and represent Gorm to the outside world should they be successful in leaving the city.

Severius proposed his idea to Kanadius and Efferzius, to join the group of outsiders and offer his services as a healer, and spiritual leader, and also to spread the faith of Gorm to the outside world; looking for followers on the outside might be what the Brotherhood needed since membership was not appealing to the Cynidiceans. Kanadius and Efferzius discussed Severius’ idea and saw merit in it. They warned Severius about his lack of knowledge about the outside world and its ways, he must learn from his new companions as they must learn from him. The Grandmasters agreed to Severius’ plan and informed the outsiders that Severius will be joining their group, but prior to continuing past the burial tier, they must check the status of the burial tombs and cleanse them of any vermin or abominations that remain. After two tragic forays into the burial tier, the group reluctantly agrees.

Gorin's Journal (final entry)- The Lost City

By Ulaa’s hammer the sand storm was massive. Never had I seen such a tempest of power, and I hope to never see one again. The blinding wind and sand with the confounded howling wind was enough to separate us from the caravan and when it finally let up we were utterly lost with no idea where the caravan had gone or where we needed to go to find it or civilization.

We tried our best to navigate the ever shifting dunes and days later our mounts died, our food ran out and frustration set in. Thank Ulaa for blessing me with the ability to create water from the drops of what we had left or dehydration would have claimed us surely. Us meaning the five of us. My friend, the mountain ranger Takashi, a fellow dwarf from Thunderdelve Mountain named Dovak, who I do not know much about other than he was cast out of the dwarven army in disgrace, though he appears to be quite a capable fighter, and two half-elves that share an interest in alchemy, though one appears to be a mage of some sort and the other displays the talents of a rogue. Bonded by survival, we have walked and walked miles of desert looking for something to save us from our plight.

Finally my prayers were answered, at least I hope so. The winds had uncovered the topmost ruins of an ancient sand-covered city, and near the top of a massive pyramid adorned by three statues of long-forgotten gods we found a passageway inside. With nothing but death waiting for us if we continued our wanderings in the desert, this passage enticed us to explore in the hopes of changing our predicament.
The stonework was ancient but spoke of human design. A stone mason by trade, I could tell that this was expert craftsmanship, as much as could be expected of a human. Luckily all of our party, but Takashi was blessed with dark vision and we were able to navigate the pitch black passages deeper into the pyramid, which was descending downward. There were few signs of recent passage and no immediate signs of intelligent occupation. We ran into some vermin, fire beetles, stirges, and a giant lizard, and despite some disappointment in Jorael’s roguish abilities, the party as a whole worked well together in dispatching these creatures.

Finally we arrived in a section that appeared to be a barracks of sort and were happy to find it occupied by strange pale-skinned humans that pledged allegiance to an ancient almost forgotten deity called Gorm- a just god of battle and storms. They explained that the Brotherhood of Gorm was but one of four factions that strived to lead the populace of this lost city- the great ancient city of Cynidicea. Once wealthy and powerful, the city fell after its population turned to decadence following the rise of the Cult of Zargon- one of the city’s four factions, they worship Zargon- an ancient and powerful god rumored to reside in the lowest levels of the pyramid. It is said that Zargon cannot be destroyed, though many have attempted to do so in the past and after the few that claimed success, Zargon and his cult would return to bring the city back into turmoil. None of the cults get along and each believes that they have the answer to returning Cynidicea back to glory.

Something in the message of Grandmaster Kanaduis, the leader of this small band of Gorm followers, stirred the emotions of my friend, Takashi and he pledged to join the Brotherhood as a lesser member to spread the word of Gorm to the people on the outside when we hopefully leave Cynidicea. While Gorm’s influence sounds like something I would approve of, my heart and soul belong to Ulaa and I would not turn from her service, but I respect the followers of Gorm and the ideals they stand for.

With Takashi’s acceptance as a lesser member, the Brotherhood has offered us food and shelter for the night. They have told us that there are sometimes outsiders that come to the city below to trade with the Cynidiceans and that these individuals may be able to help us get back to our civilization…

The Journey Begins...

A merchant caravan is leaving the town of Rumble Bell bearing trade goods from the dwarven stronghold of Thunderdelve Mountain to Huzuz, the glorious capital city of the kingdom Zakhara. Known as the “City of Delights,” Huzuz is said to be a sight to see with its gold-topped towers and minarets, mixture of cultures and people from all over the world and a Grand Bazaar where anything, no matter how exotic, can be bought.

Laden with mined and forged riches from the dwarven mountain, the caravan hired a small army of individuals to serve as guards and support personnel to ensure their wares make it across the dangerous and harsh Desert of Desolation, which must be crossed to reach their final destination. Among those hired are five individuals with various connections to each other. To call them all companions would be inaccurate, though some of them truly are friends and others are only loosely connected by their interests or ties to their homeland. Two dwarves from Thunderdelve Mountain- Gorin, a cleric of the goddess Ulaa, and Dovak, a former warrior of the stronghold’s guard. Two half-elves, Lester and Jorael, who share an interest in alchemy, and little else. And a human mountaineer named Takashi with extraordinary proficiency with the longbow that shares company with Gorin and worships the same deity.

Assigned to the same group of wagons in the caravan, these five companions head out into the sand and windswept desert for reasons of their own, though fate will conspire to bring their destinies together…


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