Tales from Elrond

Severius' Journal- A new Partnership

Some of their mannerisms were very strange indeed, but I’m sure the same could be said of my people if I looked from their perspective. I have not seen many outsiders from the world above, and have heard the many stories about the few that do discover the city and wish nothing but to plunder our ancient wealth and slay any who stand in their way, but this group seems honorable. Two of them have pledged themselves to Gorm- one wholeheartedly as a full member and the other as a lesser member. Dovak, the one that fully pledged himself to our god, will be a welcome and promising addition to our numbers. I could tell by the speech that he gave during the memorial service for his dwarf friend, Gorin, that he deeply cared for him and his promise to erect a tomb in his honor was heart wrenching.

The following day, I set off with the outsiders as a member of their group. My pledge to Gorm to assist them in their quest so that I may bring the faith of Gorm to the outside world and provide spiritual guidance to my companions new to the faith. In turn, I will learn all that I can from them about the ways of the outside world and eventually bring this knowledge back to my home. It is time that Cynidiceans stop their isolation. We must do this if we wish to survive as a people.

Tasked with finishing the work of inspection and clearing out the tombs on the burial tier of the great pyramid, I found that the outsiders had cleared out most of the listed areas on their initial forays into the burial tier. Only two battles were left to be fought on this tier in which some vermin and some ghouls were cleansed. These engagements went rather well and I was impressed with the fighting prowess of my new companions. The mixture of strange magicks and different fighting styles was intriguing to watch and in a way refreshing from the skirmishes that I am used to fighting in the city against the followers of Zargon or members of the rival factions.

After cleansing the burial tier, I led my companions to the tier below where we ran into Chief Mage Auriga and some of his acolytes. Ever the pompous bastard, he demanded a “toll” for passing through their holdings as penalty for not utilizing proper protocol to seek safe passage. Unfortunately he was right, but Dovak’s excellent negotiation skills prevented a complete fleecing of our coffers as he negotiated a toll amount much lower than what Auriga had proposed.

Our business transaction concluded, we walked through a concealed door into a bedroom. Dovak and Takashi’s trained eyes noted an imperfection in the stone that hinted at a secret door. While they inspected how to gain entry to the area beyond, Jorael examined a Usamigaras priest robe that hung on a chair. Entry was made into the secret room, which contained what initially appeared to be a lone chest. Dovak’s inspection of the chest showed that it was no chest at all, but a deadly creature that had taken the shape of a chest to ambush unsuspecting victims (this would be the first of two battles against these mimic creatures).

While the battle with the mimic raged on, Jorael finally joined us now with the white robed donned and utilizing priestly magick in the fight. Confusion reigned among the party for we knew nothing of Jorael possessing such power or having any dedication to a divine deity He did not seem himself at all. We collected some valuable treasure from the mimic’s gullet, including a fine suit of ancient Cynidicean chainmail, and followed Jorael who was making haste to the next room. This lack of concern about the valuables and hasty manner was out of character I was told by his companions.

Eventually, a few battles later, our wounded party needed to stop to rest and recuperate. While tending to our wounds and preparing our spells, we finally learned what was plaguing Jorael, or should I say Demetrius. It appears that Jorael’s manipulation of the robe lead him to becoming possessed by a cleric of Usamigaras named Demetrius. Demetrius was slain by his twin brother Darius, who is a powerful priest of Zargon. Demetrius wishes nothing more than to slay his brother and is borrowing Jorael’s body as a physical vessel to enact his vengeance. I have heard of Darius and his deeds. His death would be a victory for Gorm’s cause and for the people of Cynidicea. Our group pledges our support to Demetrius’ quest.

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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.

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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.
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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…

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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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