Tales from Elrond

Hall of the Crimson Whip

949CDC03-5A41-45C8-BEFC-4DEC6A894E1A.jpegWhile Takashi and Lester wait to be rescued from the oubliette, the rest of their party formulates a plan while recuperating. Now armed with the knowledge of how the magical mirrors and undead guardians work in this place, a safe route is selected to bypass the worst of the mirrors, with the party set up to provide blocking, rearguard and support as needed for the flight out of the room. Fortunately, everything goes according to plan, Lester and Takashi are freed and the entire group makes it back to the safety of the room’s entrance.

After taking a few moments to rest, the party proceeds in search of the next challenge of the Proving. They find it to the west in a large chamber with pools of blood covering the floor, two massive bronze minotaur statues wielding scourges. On the end of the room opposite the entrance are two pedestals each contained a half of a broken sword. Seeing no dangers, but suspecting some, a plan is devised where Lester will use magic to turn himself into gaseous form so he can fly over the blood pools and pick up one of the sword halves. All is well until Lester actually touches one of the sword halves, at which point the room’s defenses are activated. The massive statues animate into twirling objects of destruction, smashing their scourges into anyone in range and pushing them toward the rear of the room. The blood is soon found to be poisonous, and all but Gibbet (with his hardy Dwarven resilience to poison) find prolonged exposure to the substances hazardous. Additionally, several Babau demons rise from the bloody depths and attack. The combination of hazards and guardians soon make for a grinding battle of attrition. The demons, with their abilities to dispel magic and their weakening gaze, are able to isolate Lester from escaping back to the safety of his comrades and soon he is laying on death’s door. Gibbet and Magnara, the party strongest warriors are severely hampered by the Babau’s combination of Heat Metal and Weakening Gaze. With their strength drained away and the discomfort of wielding their weapons and, in Magnara’s case, wearing metal armor hinders their ability to deal damage to their foes.

Eventually, through a steady grind of persistence, healing spells and luck, the party is able to destroy one of the spinning statues and slay the demons one by one, which are not replenished. Eventually, both sword halves are recovered and joined into one when held together. Exhausted, the party takes a much needed rest before proceeding to the next challenge.

Severius' Journal- Fight and Flight

I am not actually sure what is going on here in this ancient Dwarven city that is said to now be the domain of an Elven queen named Aerisi. Following our battle with Windharrow and his troupe, we continued our exploration, wary of a coming conflict as we were sure that Windharrow would warn others of our presence. We fought more Kenku (a race of bird-like humanoids) guards, some of which were accompanied by a robed individual demanding our surrender. We had no intention of doing so, especially after Allegro reported seeing a roomful of what he believed were enslaved commoners that were being forced to turn a massive crank of unknown purpose.

Our foray into this hidden domain had only given us more questions than answers and with the area on high alert from our intrusion, and our party wounded and ill-prepared to continue our explorations in a hostile environment, it was decided to return to the surface and make our rendezvous with Lord Daylon near the farm on the end of the Signing Valley.

We made it back without incident just ahead of a tempest that I have only seen the likes of once before since my time on the surface. Luckily this time we did not have to weather the storm in the open but were relieved to be provided shelter by the halfling family farm owners who Lord Daylon compensated for their hospitality.

As the storm battered the homestead, we discussed our next course of action. Allegro and Biggle were consumed by their rage of Windharrow’s existence and offered little help in what to do next. There was concern about these captives that Allegro reported, and it was brought up that these individuals would offer the very proof we needed to confront Commander Merroska with and convince those not in the Feathergale Society’s inner circle that there was evil in their ranks. A rescue attempt of these captives seemed our best option.

In the morn, we slogged through the wind and rain swept Valley back to the hidden entrance to the Dwarven city. Aszh again proved his expertise at navigating a path to the entrance, picking what was probably the least wet route available. The only incident of note on this trip was a group of ghouls that ambushed us near the river but they were quickly dealt with, with only one of their number escaping our wrath.

Familiar with what lay ahead, we proceeded down the tunnel towards the city overlook, sending Aszh DCD15406-811F-4A68-B2E2-21BAFE6DF532.jpegto investigate the beacon-like cairn that marked the spot where we were challenged by sentries. No sentries were apparent and we were literally taken by surprised when canine-like elemental creatures emerged from the ground and attacked. These creatures focused their attacks on Enna and Allegro and the rest of us did what we could to intercept them. Their composition of earth and air allowed them to use the terrain to their advantage, and their control of the elements proved dangerous when they conjured cyclones of wind-tossed rocks to protect their forms. Our teamwork and abilities provided victory and we banished the creatures back to their native plane. I ask Gorm for his continued protection and guidance in our endeavor.

Failed Rescue Mission

572AC47C-A7AF-411E-9DC8-F9B2621071FD.jpeg Leaving behind Enna at the entrance to the gatehouse as a rearguard of sorts while the rest of the party enters the ancient Dwarven city again in an attempt to rescue some of the captives they had previously observed pushing the gigantic cranking mechanism, the party sprinted through the killzone of the gatehouse under the assumption there would be Kenku archers waiting to attack intruders. Their assumptions proved correct and several of the party, most notably Biggle and Allegro, were struck by several shafts and seriously wounded by the time they made it safely to the other side. Unfortunately for the party, the denizens were on alert after the first intrusion and had additional Kenku guards led by one of the white feathered-robed magic users that the party had fought previously when they ambushed the patrol that had responded to Windharrow’s warning. With the enemy conjuring minor elementals of air to assist in the battle, and using decent tactics, the engagement proved quite challenging for the party, especially when the gatehouse Kenku arrived as reinforcements. Fortunately, Biggle and Severius had healing magic to spare and they were able to sustain the party members till they turned the tide of battle in their favor with Dovak slaying the last of the enemy, the magic user, with a flurry of slashes like he was hewing down a tree.

Deciding to expedite their mission to free the captives before reinforcements arrive, the party heads to the room where they saw the captives turning the giant cranks. Charging into the room and taking the occupants by surprise, Aszh tells one of the disheveled captives they are here to rescue them while the rest of the party takes up positions to cover their retreat. The surprise ends up being on the party when the overseers call the “captives” to action to attack the intruders to prove their loyalty. Aszh is struck by a club wielded by the same person he was just trying to rescue. Aszh sounds the retreat and the party avoids killing any of the previous-believed prisoners taking injury as they flee the room, Aszh barring the door once they make it out.

Somewhat confused since their initial mission was a failure the party decides to further explore the city. Upon a wide causeway set with towering obelisks, the party are surprised to find an emaciated human woman bound by rope to one of the obelisks. Severius determines that the woman is suffering from weeks of starvation and upon questioning the party learns that the woman voluntarily subjected herself to this state to prove her loyalty to Yan-C-Bin and become an initiate among the worshippers.

Deciding it would be wrong to leave the woman here, despite her protests to stay, the party frees her and using magical blessings of Gorm, Severius keeps her from dying as they carry her back to the Halfling farmstead where they plan to meet Lord Daylon. Hopefully, with some care and compassion, they will be able to nurse her back to health and gain helpful information.

Hall of the Howling Pillars

B92A0C4B-F11D-48CF-8AFD-91F159C105A4.jpeg After taking another day to rest and recuperate, and leaving only three days before Meredith arrives with her Duergar forces to cleanse the Gnolls from the Well of Demons and prove Lester inept in his ability to complete the task assigned by his master Asmodeus, the party explores more of the area known as the Proving and find the rest of the magical runic circles where they will need to place the four items to free the green dragon guardian. Additionally, they find the final challenge they must complete to obtain the magical bell.

Navigating pass horrific floor to ceiling pillars made up of wailing pallid entwined humanoid figures, the party finds the bell on an altar in the room furthest from the entrance. The pillars are anything but just grotesque decorations, and attempt to hinder and harm the party by utilizing abilities ranging from lashing out at anyone that comes close to blasting out magical energy. Additionally, several Babau and Barlaga demons materialize and try to stop the party. A fierce melee ensues with the combination of the Babau’s weakening gaze and Heat Metal spells severely hindering the damage output of Magnara and Gibbet. The demons seem to be resistant to most offensive magical and battle proves challenging indeed.

Eventually the party is able to vanquish the final demonic guardian and secure the bell, which they discover has the power to give the wielder’s allies accuracy in their attacks in exchange for inflicting pain on the wielder. Making their way back to the central chamber, the party works on a plan to face the guardian.

Severius' Journal- Saving Body and Soul

After a rash of setbacks and ill-fated forays into the ancient Dwarven city controlled by Queen Aerisi, we have finally achieved success…of a sort. I proposed the idea of splitting the party- one half consisting of Lord Daylon, Allegro, Enna and Aszh and the other consisting of myself, Dovak, Biggle and Brundalthar. Lord Daylon’s group was charged with sneaking to the base of the Feathergale Spire in the hopes of retrieving Lady Savra’s remains for possible resurrection. My group was charged with the continued care of our prisoner and the hope that she could be interrogated or otherwise convinced to provide us with information on this cult dedicated to the worship of an deity called Yan-C-Bin. There was good reason to believe that cultists and members of the Feathergale Society would be a danger to both groups, so caution and Gorm’s protection would be needed for success.

After Lord Daylon’s group departed, I went to work caring for our prisoner, a commoner from Red Larch named Selina. Her health was still in a fragile state but time was short, for we needed answers, both for Lady Savra’s sake and the sake of the remaining Delegation members. With Dovak’s assistance in providing medical care, I offered a mix of teachings from the Book of Gorm, geared at demonstrating to Selina both Gorm’s magnificence and his righteousness. She made a feeble attempt to attack my faith and the wisdom of Gorm’s word by regurgitating the shallow lessons she was likely taught by these “priests” of Yan-C-Bin. Unlike Selina, I had grew up in the temple of Gorm and my teachers were some of the best my faith had in its membership. Also, unlike Yan-C-Bin, Gorm had legitimate compassion for his followers and prospective followers, and would not force someone through the hardships that Selina had to go through to prove her faith. Did Gorm demand sacrifice? Of course, when the time was right and reason a noble one. Did Gorm demand trials of his followers? Of course, hours, sometimes days, of prayer accompanied by fasting occur but not starvation. I torn down the paper stone-colored walls of faith she tried to hide behind. I pulled back the veil of mystique and glamor this Yan-C-Bin tried to hide behind and exposed it for the fiend it was.

Granted, I was assisted in battering down Selina’s emotional and mental defenses by her physically weakened state, but that was what needed to happen to save her soul. In the end the stress was too much for her body and the life passed from her while outside the barn Biggle distracted a pair of Feathergale Knights from further explorations of the farm, his disguise and deception perfect. Selina was gone but she was not yet lost. I grabbed one of our group’s precious remaining diamonds and offered it to Gorm as I asked him to bring Selina back to the living. This was my first time ever attempting to bring the dead back to life and Gorm granted my request. Selina drew in a big breath as she came back to the world of the living and I could see in her eyes that Gorm’s followers had increased by one more. 279212EC-B48A-4398-936D-063DECD8A7C0.jpeg

Severius’ Journal- Beyond the Glittering Veil (Day 19 Quen’Pillar 1630 DR)

Our return to Red Larch was not as I expected. The quaint little town of friendly people with simple concerns of living had become a haven of despair where there was a very real fear of darkness. My party experienced this first-hand upon arrival when we witnessed several vile undead creatures, known as Shadows, chase down and take the life of one of the townspeople. With the holy power of Gorm and Titania on our side, we made short work of the foul abominations.

In the aftermath of the battle, we met the sheriff of Red Larch, Harburk, who was accompanied by Eardon (a cleric of Lathandar) and several armed men. Harburk remembered Allergo, Dovak and myself from our earlier work slaying the necromancer of Lance Rock and asked for our assistance. Apparently a wizard from the northern city of Sircurem came to Red Larch to experiment with an ancient travel stone of unknown origin that sits just outside the town alongside the Long Road. The stone pre-dates the founding of Red Larch and is covered in a language that no one understands. The wizard, a man named Lenchros, has studied similar travel stones throughout Elrond and has managed to decipher the ancient language. Using what he had learned, he was able to use the stone to open a gateway, which he walked through and has not been heard from since.

The problem is that the gateway is still open and from it sporadic waves of Shadows have been descending on Red Larch and the surrounding countryside. No one knows how to close the gate, and the best that the residents of Red Larch can do is enact a curfew, patrol the area and have a standing guard at the gate. That was two nights ago and the results thus far have been a slow attrition of death for the townspeople as some Shadows are able to evade or overwhelm the sentries at the gate and make their way into the town or beyond. Understanding the danger of an unchecked portal that periodically spews out undead, my group immediately agreed to deal with this threat, leaving Lord Daylon, Selina and Brundalthar to find shelter and care take Lady Savra’s remains.vaka0004.jpgAllergo was the first to enter the gate (despite his displays of what could be considered cowardice or self-preservation above all others, he occasionally demonstrates that he is not afraid to step up to a challenge of the unknown) and returned to report that the gate lead to another place, a dark place with multiple moons in the sky. Bolstered by Allegro’s return, we all stepped into the portal…

There was a strange sensation, like traveling a million miles in seconds with an absence of sound. There was nothing but the feeling of extreme cold and a dark tunnel with a pinpoint of light that grew even closer. Going through the light, we emerged from a gate, similar to the one near Red Larch, with its own travel stone that stood on a hilltop overlooking a vast glass-enclosed octagonal city surrounded by a desolate wasteland. Three moons, in different states of waxing and waning, hovered in the night sky. After conferring with Enna, we believed that we had traveled through the Negative Plane of Energy (where the undead get their power) to reach this…place.

With the strange city below seeming to be the obvious place to start our investigation, we started down an established path. I am thankful that unlike my surface kin, I am blessed with darkvision, it has been beneficial numerous times since my time of the surface. Unfortunately, even with it, I was unable to detect the strange ooze-like creature that leaped from an overhanging cliff and tried to engulf me with its bulk. It was only by the blessing of Gorm that the creature just managed to miss, plopping down right next to me. My companions wasted no time coming to my aid, Aszh calling down a column of radiant moonlight to scorch the creature. The battle took on a brief moment of concern when Aszh slashed at the creature with his sword causing it to split into two separate entities. We also discovered that the creature had an acidic component to its composition and weapons that struck it became corroded and pitted. Fortunately, the combined might of the party was able to quickly dispatch the creatures and I was able to restore the damaged weapons with my Mending spell.

We continued down the path where it ended at a large chasm, a fortified gatehouse with a raised drawbridge on the other side leading into the city. Curiously, a large banner written in an archaic version of my language (which is an archaic version of the Common tongue that my companions speak) bid us “Welcome to Topaline” and asked for a toll of ten gold coin each to be tossed into the chasm. All of us had no issue with paying the toll, with the exception of Allegro, who pouted and refused to move until one of us paid his way. Most of the party was fine with leaving him behind, but I had some reservations about leaving my friend by himself in such a strange place, even though I knew that he probably possessed more gold than most of the party members. Some called me weak. Some called Allegro manipulative. I would venture both statements to be true, but I do not consider it weakness to care about the welfare of my friends, friends who have proven their worth during trying times, even if they were taking advantage of me. I know that Gorm has placed Allegro to share my path for a reason and I intend to see what that reason is, for better or for worse. Though I surely hope it is for the better.

With the toll paid, a strange humanoid creature that none of us had ever seen before, lowered the drawbridge and without a word, disappeared back into the gatehouse. We proceeded in silence, alert for danger, but were greeted by nothing of note. The city laid out before us in darkness with no moonlight piercing the glass enclosure. The city appeared to be…dead. There was no signs of life. No lights on in the city, just wide avenues surrounded by darkened deserted buildings of strange architecture. Allegro’s Drift Globe was the only light visible and the rest of us relied on our darkvision to navigate. This strange city had the atmosphere of a mausoleum and it was not long before its masses of undead inhabitants converged on our position. dark-city_00222875.jpg

Battling the Guardian

With the four required artifacts of Baphoment in hand, the group strategies on how to proceed with the ritual and deal with the green dragon guardian. Magnara shares his extensive knowledge of dragon abilities and tactics learned from his years of growing up and serving in the armies of the now destroyed dragonkind kingdom of Gol’redar. With this in mind, Gwen casts protection spells on Takashi and herself to help resist the dragon’s poisonous breath weapon. 4EB4DCC4-00A6-4D60-AEA7-2F07A8015AE8.jpegPrepared for battle, the party place the artifacts in the four runic circles and with a mighty roar, the green dragon flies out of a large pit in the central chamber. Additionally, numerous traps are triggered, included a giant rolling sphere of Force energy that makes a circuit around the central chamber smashing anything in its path. After an initial blast of poisonous gas at Vaylerian, Gibbet and Takashi, which they managed to survive, the battle becomes a cat and mouse game thru the various rooms and corridors where the party are unable to attack the dragon except with ranged weapons or if the dragon lands to engage in melee, which it only does on isolated foes. Both Gwen and Lester go down during the battle, but are saved from death by healing magic. Despite being grouped up during the later stages of the battle, to protect each other and avoid the traps, the dragon doesn’t use its breath weapon again after its initial blast and is taken down by simultaneous attacks by Lester and Takashi unleashing eldritch blasts and arrows as the dragon bears down on the party.

Taking a moment to heal their wounds, the party presses forward through the now opened inner sanctum doors, traveling through a heavy gray mist before finding a set of closed double doors. With Magnara leading the way, the party finds what looks to be the final area of the Well of Demons with a ghastly ritual taking place. Several demons protect a gnoll with bat-like wings and they start to advance on the party. Roaring in rage, Gibbet charges in and engages two demonic-looking gnolls while the rest of the party rush in to engage with the other demonic foes. Magical fire pounds both sides and sword and claw clash as a fierce melee breaks out…

Severius’ Journal- Questions and Answers (Day 20 Quen’Pillar 1630 DR)

I am writing these words in the tranquil comfort of the Swan Park, a solitary respite in a city full of undead and evil. My companions and I were lucky to come to this place when we did for I fear that venturing elsewhere to continue our explorations of this dead city would have been our doom. Since our arrival in this dark strange glass-enclosed city we have been under near constant assault by the undead. Skeletons, zombies and undead of a more exotic nature have been our foes. Our last attack occurred in the city’s central plaza while I stood in stunned silence studying the trio of statues that represented this city’s pantheon. These deities were very similar in appearance to my kingdom’s deities of Gorm, Madura and Usamigaras, and after speaking with the guardian of the Swan Park library tower, a Shedu named Kinguapus, I believe they are all one in the same. Kinguapus appears to be very knowledgeable in these matters and told me that sometimes gods and goddess take on different aspects on different worlds to better appeal to the inhabiting cultures. This of course brought the understanding that I was no longer on my world.

In dire need of rest and recuperation from our previous battles, Kinguapus offered us refuge at the Park, explaining that it was the safest place in Topaline. His presence and the powerful magic left by its long deceased builders keep the undead away. Kinguapus also offered us the use of the tower library, which was the city’s main repository of written works, and the reason for his presence in such a lonely and depressing place. He shared the story of his appointment as guardian three hundred and forty-one years ago and the tragic downfall of Topaline that occurred shortly afterward by happenstance.09352D35-ADD6-42BB-9CA1-F9921CFC8464.jpegKinguapus explained that sometimes those of his kind enter contracts with civilizations to protect collections of knowledge or art and locations of magical or spiritual power. He had entered into his contract with the Mystics, the people of Topaline, only days before the city fell to the undead. Kinguapus explained that the Mystics were powerful majick users, experts in teleportation and planar travel majick. Their expertise allowed them to create a large and powerful civilization that spanned across worlds and planes, all connected by magical gates anchored to travel stones. When the proper command phrase was spoken, a gate would open and travelers utilized a majickally protected conduit through the Plane of Negative Energy to emerge out a gate anchored to the travel stone at their destination. Unfortunately over time, the majickal protections for the conduits broke down and the gates became unstable allowing undead to travel to the gate destinations. The Mystics became aware of this threat and started to take actions to address it, but for the Mystics of Topaline it was already too late. Gates to the city suffered catastrophic breaches allowing undead to flood the city. Some residents were able to escape the city but the vast majority did not and were slain only to rise as undead themselves wandering the streets and buildings of their dead city.

Kinguapus also told us about the strange glass enclosure surrounding the city, explaining that it was a magical substance called Topaline (apparently the Mystics named their cities after whatever was the chief export). It is a hardy material that was used to regulate incoming sunlight and the temperature of the city. When the great catastrophe occurred, it was during the hotter summer months and the enclosure was set to the dark cycle (no sunlight and cool temperatures). Kinguapus believes that there is a device in the temple located underneath that central plaza that controls the enclosure, and if it can be found and manipulated it could allow the sunlight back into the city destroying many of the undead.

Kinguapus was also able to find us a tome on the travel gates which Enna reviewed and was able to discover a possible method of closing the gate at Red Larch. It involves obtaining a magical device called a Planar Amulet and touching this to the travel stone to discharge the teleportation magic within. Kinguapus believes that these Amulets were being developed in the temple complex as well but warned us that the main entrance has collapsed and he does not know of a way to get inside. He did relate that there is a wizard, a noblewoman from the city of Waterdeep named Lady Nightshade that lives in the city in a large garden that is warded against the undead. She visits Kinguapus occasionally to conduct research in the library and she has mentioned knowing a secret way into the temple. It is time to return to the dangers of the dead city of Topaline and seek out Lady Nightshade.

Unexpected Hospitality

The party departs with the intention of locating Lady Nightshade’s garden and making contact with the wizard. Using the city maps provided by Kinguapus, they take care to avoid the forbidding central plaza. Still, with the city so saturated with undead, there are two skirmishes with them before reaching Lady Nightshade’s garden.76A949E9-3BED-4622-B99E-82AEF48BC520.jpegThe garden is an eerie and beautiful hedge maze with various nighttime blooming flowers and exotic plants. Fortunately there are several in the group trained in navigation, and coupled with Enna’s high intellect, the party is able to navigate the maze with little trouble, arriving in a pleasant grassy courtyard with a strange haphazardly constructed single story house guarded by undead sentinels. The undead take no aggressive action as the party approaches and politely knocks on the door, to which Lady Nightshade, a young beautiful human woman of noble bearing, answers and invites them in.

The party finds that Lady Nightshade is pleased to have guests and arrangements are made to share a meal, have performances done by Biggle and Allegro, and share pleasant conversation. Lady Nightshade shares her story about how she came to live in Topaline, basically she grew tired of the political and social games of courtly life in the city of Waterdeep, and purposely sought out the “dead” city when she first learned about it because she wanted a refuge to live a new life and conduct her magical research in private; being a necromancer, Topaline was a perfect place for Lady Nightshade to practice her arcane arts. This revelation appalls Severius, and after a brief debate on the matter, Severius storms off to spend the rest of the visit outside in prayer and meditation.

Lady Nightshade proves to be quite helpful, providing the party with information on Topaline, the city’s notable inhabitants, theories on undead and confirms what Enna’s research in the Swan Lake tower library showed, that a Planar Amulet should be able to close the gate by touching it to the travel stone. Other than Kinguapus, the only other personality of note in Topaline is Baron Mishcaron, who lives in the temple below the central plaza and who is in possession of a Planar Amulet, which Lady Nightshade knows for a fact because the Baron has allowed her to study it briefly. She describes Baron Mishcaron as a charming, but sometimes brooding, man who was the leader of the Shadowmasters, Topaline’s elite security force. Lady Nightshade feels that the Baron’s drastic mood swings are a result of his feelings of failure for not being able to protect his city, being obsessed with protecting the dead city that remains and being depressed and angry about his previous way of life no longer existing.

After exchanging some magical knowledge with Enna, the party decides it is time to get going. After retrieving a silent and brooding Severius, Lady Nightshade shows them a secret trapdoor in her maze garden that leads to the subterranean temple. Bidding Lady Nightshade goodbye, with a promise to visit her when they finish their visit with the Baron, they head down into the darkness…

Severius' Journal- The Subterranean Temple of Topaline (Day 22 Quen’Pillar 1630 DR)

This place is a tomb. Empty halls leading to empty rooms. No signs of life, not even vermin are present. This city is truly a dead place. My comrades do not seem too concerned with this abomination, a city of the undead, a mockery of life. They even appear to condone the actions of a self-declared necromancer, this Lady Nightshade. A woman so twisted that she would prefer solitude living amongst these undead shades of the living instead of the real thing. Perhaps I can convince them that this cannot be allowed to stand unchecked but I believe Nightshade’s silver tongue and acts of civility in this forsaken place has moved them to sympathize with her cause. I cannot deny that she has been helpful but I do not trust her. I feel she assists us only because we are unknowingly helping her. This would not change our present course but I must be wary of her since my comrades are not.

During our explorations of the underground temple we happened upon a room containing an altar dedicated to Gorn, which I now know is my god Gorm in a varied form. Biggle’s keen touch discovered a hidden catch on the altar that caused the altar to move exposing a hidden door. It was at that moment we were attack by a group of powerful undead. I do not know what kind they were, they were similar to wraiths but possessed different means of inflicting harm. They used howls of madness and filled the air with a cacophony of babbling voices. Our minds reeled from the psychic assault. I remember losing consciousness several times during the battle, rejoining the fight when I felt the healing majick of my comrades. I think much of our survival is owed to Aszh, as he bathed his sword in holy light from his goddess Titania, his empowered strikes causing devastating damage to the undead.

We were victorious and had to rest to recuperate and heal our wounds. The hidden door lead to a room containing a elegantly carved wooden box containing a necklace of holy beads wrapped around a interesting looking key. Enna was able to determine that the necklace was a set of magical prayer beads and we kept both items, believing the key had an important purpose to be determined.A4790A80-1E32-4BCA-B4D7-B783B5FC20AD.jpegWe eventually discovered what I believe was the actual temple area of this complex. A huge octagonal room with a raised platform in the center adorned with 20’ tall statues of Topaline’s pantheon, which I knew was the same as mine. Other statues were also on the platform, but these had been destroyed and I was not sure what they depicted. In the center of the platform was a pit that rage with flames of blue fire. I could tell this place was holy, but I did not feel the reverence that I should have in such a place. It felt…tired, like someone who was trying to stay awake but knew that the oblivion of sleep would take them at any moment. It is here that we met Baron Mishcaron.

I know not what he is, certainly he can no longer be just a human man if he has lived for nearly four hundred years. He was pleasant and open to conversation but he spoke to us from the shadows or just out of sight where we could never truly see him fully. He had the presence of one who could be charming and one who was used to his authority being recognized but there was more…madness perhaps. Whatever the Baron is, he is surely no servant of Gorn (Gorm), that much he made certain when he blasphemed my god and position as his humble servant. To hear his tirade, blaming Gorm for the hubris of his civilization’s fall from grace was more than I could take. I engaged him in fiery counterpoint. I told him Gorm will present judgement.

Of course, this…creature in the guise of man would not freely give us his Amulet of the Planes to help us succeed in our noble cause, but he did offer us a challenge, a duel. In single-combat, one of us would take the Baron on. If we won, the Amulet was ours. If we lost, we would have to give up equal compensation in magical items. It was decided that we would offer the Necklace of Prayer Beads and Enna’s magical dagger (the one that was taken from Dryflagon’s dead body) as our offering. Myself, Dovak and Aszh each volunteered to be the champion to represent our cause, and ultimately the group chose Aszh.vaka0002.jpg Aszh stepped onto the platform and we finally got to see the Baron clearly. A handsome man with unique ethnic features that I have not seen before. He wore a black robe and wielded a quarterstaff made of wood so dark in color it looked like it was made of night itself. Aszh charged the Baron and managed to strike him once before the Baron laid him low with only a single blow from his quarterstaff. Biggle and I rushed onto the platform to drag Aszh from it so we could administer healing. He came to, stunned by quickness of the match.

The Baron, full of arrogance, taunted us and proclaimed his superiority. He even invited another of our party to step up and challenge him because he felt “generous.” I could no longer hold back my rage. The fury of Gorm was burning inside me. I accepted the Baron’s challenge, asking Biggle for a quick song of inspiration before walking onto the platform.

I called Gorm’s guardian spirits to protect me and waited for the Baron’s Attack. He advanced like the wind, seeming to glide over the broken masonry of the statues, the spirit guardians barely able to get in attacks of their own before he struck me in the gut with his staff. I felt the wind go out of my lungs and coughed up blood. The blow was so powerful, I was only just barely able to remain standing. The spirit guardians faded away as my concentration broke. I saw that the Baron was indeed a deadly foe and I had to fight like my life depended on it, which it did. I again summoned Gorm’s spirit guardians and staggered the Baron with a blow from my Warhammer. Enraged, he swung his staff at me as the spirit guardians stabbed and slashed at him and I just managed to get my shield up in time to parry his strike. I conjured Gorm’s spiritual hammer and sent that to hammer a mighty blow into the Baron’s face and he reeled. His strike back at me not even close. I could feel Gorm’s power within me. I was confident of victory as I again stuck out against my foe but too late I realized I had overextended myself and the Baron was waiting to pounce, the end of his staff connecting with my face. I tasted a new surge of blood and saw the blackness of oblivion. I knew that I was going to die, death was taking me. I heard Enna’s voice cry out and a momentary surge of strength before I fell unconscious. ..

I later found out that Enna had saved my life by transferring some of her magical vitality to me at the last moment. I am thankful to have found a companion such as her. Prior to meeting Aszh and Enna, the only Elves I had met were the damned Drow that plague my city occasionally to kill, pillage, and take my people as slaves. It is good to know that not all Elves are twisted like them.

When I came to, the Baron was gone, as well as Enna’s magical dagger and the magical prayer beads, both surrendered per the agreement. All of us heard a lovely voice in our minds telling us that the Baron had cheated during the battle, that the fight was not a fair one. There was a strange shifting in reality and a beautiful and intimidating creature appeared before us, blocking the eastern door. This magnificent creature had the lower body of a lion and the upper body of a beautiful woman. On her back were feathered wings.8D9A7644-CE4E-498F-9C92-0AA42DCA6EAF.jpegWe stared in awe as Biggle identified the creature as a Gynosphinx. She informed us that her name was Krisna and that she was a guardian of a special place, much like Kinguapus, though her charge was the most important locale in Topaline, the Mystics’ sacred workshop, and no one knew of her existence, not even Kinguapus. Krisna informed us that Baron Mishcaron was no longer a mortal and fighting him in single combat would be as fair as a child fighting an adult. As to her charge, she told us that since I was a follower of Gorn she would offer us the opportunity to open the workshop, which has been sealed since Topaline’s fall, and release her from her obligation. All we would have to do is commit and answer a puzzle, providing the wrong answer, or no answer, would result in unspecified consequences.

We agreed to attempt the puzzle and I will admit that my head was still addled from my bout with the Baron that I do not remember what the puzzle was but I do remember that it was Allegro that formulated the answer and convinced the others he was right. Krisna smiled her approval, and confirmed that the correct answer had been given. She opened the workshop doors revealing the massive room beyond, which contained a magical forge, marble work benches and cabinets holding several magical items and raw materials. Released from her charge, she departed, but not before warning us to not allow the Baron to claim what we had obtained.


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