Tales from Elrond

Severius' Journal- The Miracle of Life (Day 2 Cuersaar 1630DR)

I have only a rudimentary knowledge of Dwarven religious rites, having interacted with some of their kind when they would come to Cynidicea to trade and sell goods. Fortunately Brundlethar and Dovak were on hand to provide additional insight into the proper protocols for how to set-up and enact the resurrection ceremony. I believe that our actions paid proper respect to the Dwarven deities and my hope was that the righteousness of our cause would be taken into account when determining whether or not to grant our prayer to resurrect Lady Savara. I believed that every member of our party, especially Lord Daylon, were wholly vested in our efforts, though I sensed that Dovak had some apprehension, perhaps even disdain, that we were dealing with Dwarven deities. I found this interesting and concerning, believing that it is natural to have some affinity for the gods of your race, and to see that this was not the case with Dovak hinted at something amiss. Perhaps something in his past had occurred in which Dovak felt his gods had abandoned him, or perhaps he blames them for some slight or injuctice he experienced. Whatever the case, it helps to explain his readiness to pledge himself to Gorm in order to save the lives of his comrades, there was obvious no allegiance to any of the Dwarven god.

We laid Lady Savra’s body on the small altar dedicated to the Dwarven goddess Sharindlar and I acted as the facilitator of the process, Brundlathar leading the others in the proper chants and prayers. Each of us, including Dovak, offered either a pleading request or an offering to Sharindlar to honor our request to bring Lady Savra back to the world of the living. We spoke about her courage to stand up against evil and tyranny. We spoke about her work unfinished. We spoke about her role in the upcoming confrontation against the nefarious members of the Feathergale Society. There were many heartfelt words and the altar had a small pile or coins, gems and jewelry from our coffers. The ceremony lasted for a little over an hour.

Brilliant, dazzling light briefly obscured the entirety of the room. When our eyes were finally able to adjust back to normal we saw Lady Savra gasp taking a breath…

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Severius' Journal- Cleansing the Shrine of the Tender Oath (Day 29 Quen'Pillar 1630DR)

It took us four days to make the journey from Red Larch to the Shrine of the Tender Oath. For the most part our trip through the Sumber Hills was uneventful, broken up only by an attack by a group of Gargoyles, which we easily dispatched, and a patrol of Air Cultist vulture-riders which we managed to slay all but one, he was able to escape and likely has reported our whereabouts to Merroska.

The Shrine of the Tender Oath was one of many ancient Dwarven temples dedicated to their pantheon, all of them nestled amongst cascading waterfalls flowing through the Sumber Hills and into the Dessarin River. Bruldenthar explained that this area was called the Vale of Dancing Waters, it was built by the Dwarves of Tyar-Besil and while that kingdom no longer exists, it is still an important pilgrimage site for Dwarves. It was indeed a sight to behold. The magnificent Dwarven stonework. The walls of falling water. Nothing like this existed in Cynidicea and despite feeling sad that many of my people would not be able to see such wonders of the surface world, I felt a sensation of tranquility and peace being here. Hopefully one day, my people will be free of the shackles of their self-imposed exile due to despair, drugs and misplaced fanaticism. I am thankful that Gorm has granted me the opportunity to have these experiences, and it gives me motivation to return to my homeland to do what I can to stop the extinction of my people.

The Shrine of the Tender Oath lay at the end of a narrow path carved into the side of the one of the steep hills. Its entrance was flanked by two large statues of the Dwarven deity Moradin carved from the rock of the hill they stood on. We enter the temple courtyard, which contained a massive statue of Moradin’s wife, the goddess Sharindlar, during what initially appeared to be a Dwarven wedding ceremony. We accepted the invitation to stay and watch the event only to discovery it was all a ruse and we were attacked. We later found out that a group of unscrupulous treasure hunters had slain the priests and caretakers of the temple hoping to dig from the temple’s inner sanctum into one of Tyar-Besil’s secret treasure vaults. The lone survivor of our initial battle in the courtyard fled to the upper inner sanctum and, horrified by the desecration and murder this group had done for nothing but monetary gain as their motivation, we decided that justice must be met. Allergo used majick to turn himself invisible and scouted the area where the rest the enemy lay in wait. We waited for several long minutes and were about to investigate Allegro’s status when his lifeless body was tossed into the courtyard from one of the upper level windows like discarded trash. A brash warning came from above that the rest of us would meet Allegro’s fate if we did not leave this place.

Aszh and I rushed to Allegro’s side while the others stood vigilant for an attack. I was happy to find his body still warm, despite his throat being cut, and was hoping that there was still time to call his soul back before it was beyond my power. Luckily this was the case and Allegro heard Gorm’s call to return to the mortal world. He returned, vengeance in his eyes and we were happy to assist him with it. Still recovery from being brought to the living, and unable to speak because he was missing his doll, Allergo drew us a rough map of the layout and opposition upstairs- more Dwarves, some of which were majick-users. We quickly decided that the best course of action was to rush en masse, each half of our group taking one of the two staircases leading to the upper sanctum.

What followed was a desperate battle of melee and magic. Magical flames, blasts of frigid cold and hypnotic patterns of lights bathed the inner sanctum as our party clashed with our foes. None of us held back, Bruldenthar and Lord Daylon, just as committed as the rest of us to address this desecration of life and sanctity. I found myself in single-combat with the enemies’ leader, a dark-haired Dwarf trained in the assassination arts. Despite my best efforts at defense and Gorm’s majickal guardians pressing the attack, the Dwarf’s skill with the blade was beyond my capabilities and I succumbed to it and the poisons he coated it with. Fortunately, death did not come for me and I was revived by my companions in time to contribute my efforts against the remaining foes, the Dwarven assassin had already been vanquished and we were victorious, taking the remaining enemy survivor captive, the same female Dwarven priest that had fled from our first battle in the courtyard. Aszh tied her up while we tended to the wounded. vale_of_dancing_water.jpg

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Severius' Journal- A Conflicting Offer (Day 25 Quen'Pillar 1630DR)

After several uneventful hours of monitoring the quarry at Mellikho Stoneworks for the strange stone masked figures being reported there, we decided to head outside of town to meet with Suruki. Wary of possible treachery, Allegro split off from the rest of the group and followed out of sight.
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We found Suruki at the designated spot, standing under a small copse of trees. He was accompanied by several companions, two of which were doing a terrible job of trying to conceal themselves in the nearby bushes. As we approached Suruki, strangely I could smell the aroma of the ocean seemingly coming from the water Druid and his companions, who were attired similar to the pirates that attacked us when I first arrived at Red Larch, when Takashi and Lester were still in company. Suruki and his companions took no aggressive actions toward us, their demeanor appeared cautious but friendly. After exchanging greetings and thanking us for answering his summons, Suruki told us a wealth of information regarding a secret war taking place in the Dessarin Valley and his affiliation. His information shed light on much that my companions and I had deduced and I think that it will benefit our decisions regarding future actions.

Suruki explained that for the past year the Dessarin Valley has been a war zone for four competing elemental cults- Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Each cult is trying to gain dominance over the others for control of the Valley. The activities of the cults have caused the strange weather and environmental phenomena that have affected the Valley and have contributed to the disappearances of the Valley’s denizens. While each cult is ultimately working toward their own self-interests, they have made allies with other cults to further their goals and to strengthen their position against opposing cults; Suruki expressed that he was a member of the water cult and that they have an alliance with the earth cult, together they oppose the air and fire cults. Suruki stressed to us that each cult is made of individuals that believe in their cause, though the methods of some of their members may not be as honorable as others. He told us that in contrast to the other cults, the water cult is mainly motivated by greed. He admitted that members of his cult extort boat captains and residents that live by and ply the Dessarin River, but that some of these proceeds are indeed put to fund the protection of the waterways and surrounding areas. Suruki admitted that this was not an honorable activity, and again stressed that this type of activity was not shared by all of the water cult members, but in comparison to the activities of the other cults (who were involved in murder and kidnapping) the water cult was the least dangerous to the residents of the Valley.

Suruki explained that the war between the cults has reached a stalemate and that he has sought us out, hoping to recruit us to support his cult’s efforts. He believed, because of his experience fighting alongside us against Dryflagon and the stories he has heard of our exploits, that we would be interested in joining forces against the other cults. He explained that should an alliance be made, the water cult could provide assistance, such as monetary compensation and transportation on the Dessarin River, though the final terms of the alliance would have to be negotiated by his superior, an individual named Jolliver Grimjaw.

My companions and I discussed Suruki’s proposal. Both Aszh and I felt that Suruki might be holding back in his description of his cult’s nefarious activities. We put it to a vote and came at an impasse because while Allergo, Biggle and Enna did not see a problem with joining in an alliance to fight the air cult (an endeavor that we planned on doing with or without an alliance) and reaping some extra resources, Aszh, Dovak and I did not approve of working with an organization that infringed on the welfare of others for greed, even if some of that income was potentially going to a noble cause (protecting the waterways).

In the end, we told Suruki that we could not yet provide him with an answer, and that we would need some time to consider his offer. He understood and bid us farewell, telling us that he could be reached via a message to Gilheeda, a serving maid in Red larch at the Swinging Sword Inn.

Armed with more knowledge about the activities going on in the Dessarin Valley, we decided to continue with our plan of traveling to the Vale of Dancing Waters in the hopes of resurrecting Lady Savra so that we may confront the leadership of the Feathergale Society, bolstered by her presence…

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Severius' Journal- Aerial Assassination Attempt (Day 24 Quen'Pillar 1630DR)

Praise to Gorm! The despicable air cultists dared to attack one of Gorm’s faithful servants on his holiest day of the week. Of course these efforts failed, as Gorm protects those who put their trust in him and carrying out his work on Elrond.

Everyone in the group was attacked by an invisible assailant, an elemental assassin is what Aszh described it as, while we carried about our business in pairs. Dovak and I were injured the least, which made sense since we had the protection of Gorm. Biggle and Aszh survived their attack only by the timely intervention of the town guard. Allegro and Enna faired the worse. Their invisible assailant laying them both low but failing to deliver the death blow. They survived but I cannot help but to wonder what stayed their attacker’s hand. I do not believe it was incompetence. Perhaps a test? Or did something else play into what happened, something we will learn the consequences of later?

Biggle has brought to our attention that he has received a message from Suruki, one of the Druids that assisted us in our battle against Dryflagon. He has requested to meet us secretly on the outskirts of town tonight. He appears to want to share information about what has been going on and I am looking forward to hear what he has to say…B6F78863-CC94-412C-9E62-F73B8D8366E9.png

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Severius' Journal- Hostile Reception (Day 23 Quen'Pillar 1630 DR)

F1C77F5F-B3FF-4B2B-AD7C-DFF96FE296AE.jpegWe emerged from the Portal and found ourselves in the midst of a storm. The wind howled and threatened to blow us from our feet. Sheriff Hurburk and Brother Eardon shouted to us pointing at the sky where several giant vulture riders and flying humans descended from the sky toward our position. We recognized them as air cultists and prepared for their attack. Hurburk and his men stood with us, not quite understanding what was going on but knowing that we were trying to help their town by closing the gate.

The cultists wasted no time declaring us enemies for meddling in their affairs and battle commenced. Still wounded and lacking spells due to our hasty departure from Topaline, as well as having Dovak severely hampered because he was still recovering from his recent resurrection, the battle prove to be quite the challenge. I had nothing but my martial prowess and the minor blessings of Gorm, my more powerful magicks having been spent in Topaline. Luckily, we had the help of Bruldenthar, Eardon and Hurburk and his men or else I suspect we would have perished in that battle. We emerged victorious, though Brother Eardon and all of Hurburk’s deputies were killed. Sadly, I had none of Gorm’s resurrection magicks available. I hope their gods remember the noble cause they unknowingly fought for when they sacrificed their lives in our defense.

Allegro closed the Portal by touching Baron Mischaron’s Amulet of the Planes to the Travel Stone, the magical energies discharging in an explosion that nearly killed Enna and I, who were standing too close to dodge. With the undead threat to Red Larched stopped, we made our way back to town.

Upon arrival, we went to the Swinging Sword Inn, where it’s grateful proprietor, Kaylessa, was kind enough to provide us with free room and board as thanks for saving the town. She also sent word of our success to the town elders and we elected Allegro, the least injured of the party, to meet with them while the rest of us retired for the evening.

The following day, during breakfast, Allegro briefed us on his meeting with the elders, warning us that he got the impression that the elders knew about the Air Cult, though they said nothing of the sort. We spoke about the possibility of Air Cult spies in the town, or possibly Windharrow, as well as the possibility of another attack, but in the end, due to Dovak needing to recover, and all of us tired from our ordeal in Topaline, we decided to remain in the town for a few days to recuperate and resupply while being ever-vigilant.

To pass the time, we separated to engage in activities of personal interest. With the loss of Brother Eardon, and his replacement not due for another month, I decided to take over his duties at the Allfaiths Shrine. Being the only available cleric in the area, many were in need of my services- spiritual guidance, offering prayers for those in need, performing miracles and presiding over ceremonies of import, these were only just a few of the duties I performed. In my duties, I knew I was making a difference and potentially bringing more people into Gorm’s light.

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Decision Points

With their victory in the Well of Demons, Magnara, Takashi, Lester, Gwen, Gibbet, and Valyrian finally get a moment of respite. They realize that there are still several tasks they believe of import, foremost amongst them obtaining information about the identify of Lester and Takashi’s father from the oracle known as the Witch’s Hour Sage. After a long, well-deserved rest, the party patronizes several businesses in the Seven-Pillared Hall, including Gendar’s, to resupply and sell some of their loot. There is also a discussion, that takes place without Lester’s knowledge, regarding a plan to strike back at the Duegar in the Seven-Pillared Hall without attracting the wrath of the Mages of Sarunn; Valyrian makes a discreet inquiry to Gendar about Duegar shipments to their Trading Post in the Seven-Pillared Hall and is promised potential information later.

With seeking out the location of the Witch’s Hour Sage being most-likely their next course of action, the group seeks out Surina in the hopes to patch up their relations (following their previous interaction where they refused to take aggressive action against the Duegar in the Seven-Pillared Hall) and learn the secret location of the Witch’s Hour Sage. Magnara, buys some exotic perfume from Gendar’s as a gift for Surina, hoping it will help them (him) get back into the Dragonborn warlock’s good graces.

Upon arriving at Surina’s temple to Erathis Magnara and her have a private discussion, after which Surina appears happy (likely influence by the party informing her that they plan to strike out at the Duegar, and perhaps Magnara’s gift as well). She tells the party where to find the door leading to the Witch’s Hour Sage, a six-hour trek deeper in the under dark by way of the Deep Stair halfway to the ancient Minotaur burial crypts for their nobility, known as the Houses of Silence. The door to the Witch’s Hour Sage will appear at an appointed hour in an appointed location for ten-minutes before disappearing and returning at another time to be determined by divination. Luckily for the party, the door’s next appearance will occur at midnight the following day. Bolstered by having chosen a course of direction, and happy at the prospect of acquiring information about Lester and a Takashi’s father, the group takes another day to relax, Magnara spends some time with Surina, while Gibbet treats the rest of the party to a night of hearty food and drink.

Heading out the following afternoon, Takashi leads the party (augmented by magical darkvision, his skills as a Ranger of the under dark and Surina’s map) to their destination. The trip is uneventful except for a brief skirmish against a band of Troglodytes accompanied by a Troll that the party easily dispatches.

Following a short rest to make last minute preparations, the door to the Witch’s Hour Sage appears exactly at midnight, like Surina said it would. There is unnatural quality in the air as the party steps through the archway into blackness…98B5D5AF-0565-45FF-9BCB-588668048323.jpeg

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Severius' Journal- Hope for a Future (Day 22 Quen'Pillar 1630 DR)

I write these thoughts while again recuperating in the Swan Park, this time basking in a mix of real and magical sunlight. The final battle against Baron Mischaron and his shadowy minions was a challenging affair fraught with peril. Demanding the “key” with no interest in anything but, my companions and I were immediately attacked upon our refusal to turn it over (a decision we made because we were not entirely trusting of its care to the Baron). Displaying more of his battle prowess, the Baron advanced into the Mystics’ workshop, nearly killing Aszh and Allergo with his blows before his advance was stalled by Dovak. Separate battles broke out around them as the rest of us engaged the Baron’s minions. In the end victory was ours, though it came at the cost of Dovak’s life, the Baron slaying the strong Dwarven warrior before he himself was destroyed. Having none of Gorm’s gifts left to bring him back, I wept at Dovak’s loss and tended to his body while the rest of the party checked the unexplored doorway in the temple.

Using the key the Baron sought, my companions were able to unlock this doorway and inside they found an arcane control device for the strange glass-like enclosure around the city. By transferring some of her majickal power into the device, Enna was able to change the enclosure’s setting to raise the city’s temperature and allow direct sunlight to penetrate the glass enclosure. I am sure that these drastic changes dealt a significance blow to Topaline’s undead denizens, killing any that were exposed and vulnerable to sunlight. After my companions activated this device, I saw the blue flames of the temple die and no longer felt the presence of Gorm. He had finally left this plane, perhaps in response to our victory against the Baron and delivering Topaline back into the sunlight. While I wept for Gorm’s departure from this place, I was overjoyed to find that Dovak’s life had been restored. Many blessings to Gorm for bestowing this miracle on your faithful servant! The powerful Dwarf warrior rose from his makeshift gurney, alive but still weak from his resurrection. With the mood uplifted, we all made our way out of the underground temple.

I am hoping that our efforts will forge a path for Topaline’s recovery as a livable place once again, though I do not know who would benefit other than Kingapus and Lady Nightshade (who admits to preferring the undead to the living). I fear that we have given Lady Nightshade the perfect place to hide and increase her powers in necromancy, though my companions (other than Dovak) do not share my concerns, believing that Lady Nightshade is benign in nature, seeking only solace to attend to her studies. Enna appears to be especially taken with the Waterdhavian noble, the two of them appearing to have developed a friendship of sorts. I expressed my concerns, but none of my companions would stand with me to face the necromancer. Severely weakened by our battle with the Baron, and Dovak still recovering from his resurrection, I knew I would not be able to stand against Lady Nightshade alone and dropped the subject. I hope to Gorm I will not regret my failure in the future.90098432-11E1-40AF-921E-C6ED4B0F0B9F.jpeg

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Victory in the Well of Demons

9AD6373D-55A8-4D38-9A30-042BDDA29414.jpegBattle raged in the inner sanctum of the Well of Demons as Magnara, Takashi, Valyrian, Gibbet, Lester and Gwen fought to stop the blasphemous ritual that the leader of the Blackfang Gnolls, Maldrick Scarmaker, was trying to enact. By the time the group arrived, there were only two prisoners awaiting sacrifice in the magical circle, who knows how many had already been given over to the demon lord Yeenoghu.

Beset by demonically-tainted gnolls and Demons from the Abyss, the party fought to get within melee distance of Maldrick. The gnoll warlock continued to work his corrupted magic while contributing what effort he could to assist his minions in stopping the party from interfering with the ritual. Magical fire, Eldritch energy and clouds of poison filled the chamber as the two sides clashed. Demons were banished, party members fell and were healed to continue fighting. The battle became a grind as both sides took turns gaining and losing ground.

There was a sudden change in the ebb and flow of the battle as Gibbet was able to break through the demon battle line. Immediately after decapitating a demon with his axe, he seized the opening and dashed into melee with Maldrick sinking his axe into the gnoll’s side. Gibbet was soon joined by Magnara, and then the whole party stood against the gnoll warlock. Maldrick unleashed powerful magic in a desperate attempt to fend off his foes but he was outnumbered, trapped in melee with two formidable warriors, and taking ranged fire from arrows and magic. The final prisoner was sacrificed to the ritual right before Magnara finished Maldrick with a mighty slash that bisected the Gnoll’s body. A strange and dark cloud of constantly roiling shadow filled the spot where Maldrick’s magical circle had stood. No one was quite sure what the darkness was though Lester and Gibbet suspected that it might be a portal, or the start of one to some place unpleasant, like the Abyss.

Finished with being Asmodeus’ pawns, it was decided that the strange darkness was Meredith’s problem. The party had completed Lester’s task of cleansing the Gnolls from the Well of Demons and headed back to the Seven-Pillared Hall to report their success to the Duegar.

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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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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…

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