Tales from Elrond

The Queen's Reign Ends

Lady Savra looked upon the two coffins holding the bodies of Lord Dunford and Lady Merroska. The air was chilly on top of the Feathergale Spire and snow floated gently to the ground. Winter had come nearly a month early to the Dessarin Valley and the cool temperatures outside would help preserve the bodies until transportation to their families in Waterdeep.

C3FD64DD-9707-4BE2-B9FB-004B1DEEBD0C.pngSavra didn’t hear Lady Allison’s approach; the warrior was unnaturally stealthy when she wanted to be. Allison seemed to appear at Savra’s side, expertly twirling the spear that she had taken from the recently deceased air cult leader of the Howling Hatred, Queen Aerisi Kalinoth.

Allison stopped her twirling to admire the spear, “One thing could be said about Aerisi, she definitely had good taste in weapons. This spear is unlike anything I’ve seen.” The silver spear set with dark sapphires sparkled in the sunlight. “It’s as light as air,” Allison continued, “and was wasted in her hands. Now, wielded by a true master, such as myself, it will be able to do what it was meant to do.” Allison finished the sentence with a lightning quick thrust that Savra could barely track. Impressive indeed.

Savra nodded to the coffins of their fallen comrades, “I think Evaline Merosska redeemed the Merosska name by standing with us against the Queen. Her uncle might have forgotten what honor and good meant but Evaline showed that she knew. Lord Dunford…I didn’t know him that well, did you?”

Allison shrugged, “Not really, an opportunist is what I heard. Took the easy way and was quick with a blade.”

Savra nodded, “He was certainly quick, we saw that, as for his reasons for joining us against Aerisi I guess we’ll never know. Regardless I’m glad he was with us.”

They stood in silence watching the snow fall on the countryside. Savra could feel the touch of Gorm’s power fading. It had given her strength to seek vengeance against Aerisi on behalf of Tellion Daylon, the citizens of Red Larch and herself. With Aerisi’s death, vengeance had been satiated and Gorm’s power with it.

“What would you do now?” Allison asked.

“I’m not sure. Perhaps it is time I returned to my family. I’ve been gone for so long and I know they’re worried. I hesitate for I fear there is still much to do here for the Society…for the Valley.”

“There are still enemies to fight, more cults at least. Aerisi was right about one thing, those earth cultists are definitely a threat. The Howling Hatred was their main opposition. With their leader dead, I’m not sure who will stop them from growing in power.”

There was suddenly a bright reflection of light below on the road leading to the Spire. Allison and Savra focused on it and could see that it’s source was one of two riders on horses. They were headed to the Spire as fast as the snow-covered road would allow.

As they got closer, Savra’s face changed to an expression of worry as she recognized the rider that was the source of the bright reflection- the golden-masked cleric of Gorm, Severius.

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The Feathergale Knights on Crusade

From the top of the Feathergale Spire, Lady Savra looked out to the west. In the distance, where the town of Red Larch stood, trails of smoke rose into the sky. Lady Savra knew the air cultists were furious following their loss of Meroska and feared the worse. The cultists’ “queen,” Aerisi Kalinoth, and her cult of Howling Hatred had made threats of retaliation against Red Larch’s citizens for their hospitality to the party of adventurers that were responsible for foiling their operations in the Valley. She had dispatched Lady Allison to scout the town and return with a report.

A dark speck became visible in the sky and as it got closer, a hippogriff with rider could be made out. There was a brief gust of wind as the hippogriff braked it wings and landed softly on the tower near the group of Feathergale Knights. Everyone gathered around as Lady Allison jumped down from the saddle to give her report.

“It’s bad,” she started. “The town has been devastated. Buildings destroyed. Dead livestock. I saw dead people as well, but there were survivors combing through the rubble and caring for each other. I’m sure it was a Devastation Orb.”

“Cowards!” Lady Savra exclaimed. “Attacking people who could barely defend themselves, only because they are too scared to lash out at those who did them actual harm.” She turned to her fellow Knights, feeling a sudden flare of power in her soul, an infusion of power that she knew at once was from the god Gorm, who’s teachings she had heard Severius share at length while recovering from her resurrection, “This is true evil and cannot stand. You know what they did to us, our Society, our friends. They lied to us. They hurt and killed us!” A golden light seemed to blaze from Savra’s eyes as she spoke. Gorm was giving her power to use for this cause. Many Knights were nodding their heads. “We will take the fight to them, to “Queen Aerisi, for us and the people of Red Larch.

There was a chorus of cheers and affirmations.

“We know where they are. We know where Aerisi hides. We’ll go straight to the source and put an end to this. A small strike force, so as not to draw too much attention. Who is with me? Who flies with me to the Temple of Howling Hatred?”

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Severius' Journal- Breath of the Minotaur (Day 4 Duscar 1630DR)

The bellowing roar of the Minotaurs echoed throughout the tunnels as Dovak and Tobias charged forward into the room trying to prevent the bottleneck that we had in the tunnels. I held back in the rear, as my companions engaged the enemy, asking Gorm to grant his blessing upon my friends to guide their attacks and defenses. The minotaurs were powerful, but they were reckless. They had no fear of the danger they placed themselves in to obtain a strike. While they hit hard, it was easy to bypass their defenses and inflict injuries. This lead me to initially believe this was only a momentary delay in our quest to find the blacksmith, but I soon found this was premature.

More Minotaurs converged on the site of the battle and all of us were surprised when we found these Minotaurs capable of breathing fire! Flames engulfed several of my friends, some even collapsed to the ground dying of their wounds. The tide of battle was quickly turning against us. This also signaled the arrival of the largest Minotaur I had ever seen. A massive brute of muscle wielding an battle axe. It was at this time that Tobias sounded a retreat. Priority change to recovering our fallen comrades and fighting a rearguard action to escape. 9B71284A-8603-4A87-9656-948ED208621A.jpegAszh conjured a magical column of moonlight to block the Minotaurs’ pursuit while Tobias barred their passage so the rest of us could escape. Several of the Minotaurs ran to side corridors and it was soon apparent they intended to cut off our escape. Tobias taunted the Minotaur leader from the other side of the moonbeam but quickly regretted his decision when the enraged Minotaur barreled through the moonlight ignoring the pain it caused and savagely gored him. Bloodied and battered Tobias lay motionless on the ground. Ahead of our line of retreat I heard the sounds of combat as the Minotaurs intercepted our escape.

Times were desperate and I knew that we would all be dead. We needed a miracle and I knew I could call on Gorm for his divine assistance, as I had when we fought the giants, but I had begged Gorm for assistance less than a ten-day ago, and I knew I was tempting Gorm’s ire by calling on him for direct help again so soon after having done so. The screams of my friends being near death convinced me to take the chance, I had been Gorm’s faithful servant my whole life, surely Gorm would take that into account.

I went to my knees and said the prayers. I asked for Gorm’s holy vengeance and protection to be made manifest. I beg for his intervention in a dire situation. I asked him to have pity on his most loyal servant that I was too weak to do his work using the generous gifts he had already given me.

There was an explosion of divine radiant light and I watched in awe as my prayers were answered again by a Serph- Gorm’s most holy of servitors. To be blessed twice in such a short amount of time with the appearance of such a being, I had never heard of such an occurrence happening. Tears flowed down my cheeks and all was good.

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Severius' Journal- Descending Deeper and a Notable Find (Day 4 Duscar 1630DR)

Concerned about the fate of the blacksmith Rhundorth after the failed negotiations with the earth cultists, we made haste as best we could looking for this staircase that lead to the lower levels of the earth cult’s domains. During our search, we interrupted a vile sacrificial ceremony to the cult’s foul deity…this Ogremoch. There was a desperate battle against the cultist forces in which both the sacrificial victim and Aszh were both killed, and unfortunately Gorm had only bestowed upon me enough of his blessings to bring Aszh back to the world of the living. There was…not enough of the cult’s sacrificial victim for me to work with as most of its body had been dissolved by a living blob of foulness that the cultist priest had summoned. Aszh was understandably shaken from the experience of having died and returned (I surely was when I had gone through my own experience), but he was not dissuded in our cause and we proceeded on.

We eventually found what we believed was the staircase we were looking for. A massive pillar of stone with a staircase descending even further into the depths of the earth. It had a lone guardian, an earth elemental encased in metal armor. Despite it taking us by surprise, we easily vanquished the creature, Aszh unleashing several mighty strikes infused by the raw divine power of Titania.

The end of the staircase found us truly in the bowels of the earth. I don’t think that any of my companions, with the exception of Dovak, had been this deep underground. The massive chamber we found ourselves in offered only two ways out- a single door and an unnatural cold black fog that totally blocked vision and caused sickness in those that entered it. We elected to take the path offered by the door and found ourselves in an ancient iron ore mine that had probably not seen any use since Besilmer was still a dwarven kingdom.

Shortly after entering the mine tunnel, Tobias and Dovak were attacked by the spectres of some fiendish-looking creatures that I have never seen before. Most of them were quickly banished when I invoked the power of Gorm’s name and the one that remained was quickly dealt with by the rest of my companions. As the last spectre was vanquished, a ghost of a dwarven female bearing the holy symbol of the dwarven/halfling goddess of Ulaa materialized briefly and pointed to a section of the mine that had collapsed. Upon investigation, we found the decomposed body a female dwarf that must surely have been the same person that apparition depicted. This appeared to be a cleric of Ulaa and it clutched a beautiful, golden glowing hammer of incredible craftsmanship. Dovak recognized the hammer as a mighty artifact called the “Hammer of Ulaa.” A powerful magical item said to be given by the goddess herself to her most blessed champion on Elrond. We had found another Delegation member…Thandarth Rumblerock. Ulaa_s_Hammer.jpg

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Severius' Journal- Non-negotiable (Day 4 Duscar 1630DR)

We returned to the earth cult’s holdings fully expecting them to be ready for our arrival, and indeed they were, but this time they started with an offer of negotiations. Tobias and Aszh engaged the cultists in talks while the rest of us stood back ready for any surprises. While I could not hear the exchange, there appeared to be some disagreement on the terms between Aszh and Tobias and the two of them engaged in a discussion before Aszh drew his sword on the cultists. It was quite obvious that negotiations had failed and the rest of us rushed in to assist our comrades.

The cultists appeared more interested in retreating than a fight and the leader started running off while the rest of the cultists attempted to cut off our pursuit. Aszh used his ability to Misty Step past their lines and caught the escaping cultist, pinning him down in melee while the rest of us fought the other cultists. The battle ended rather quickly but Aszh was wounded in his engagement with the leader. Worried about the fate of Rhundorth, which Aszh suspected was going to be killed, I healed some of Aszh’s wounds and we continued our search. The earth cult’s domain seemed empty, whether this was because we vanquished most of its members or because they had fled our wrath remains to be seen.

We were basically wandering without a clue on where to go and our travels took us down a long corridor that took several hours to traverse before it ended in a guard post containing armored Ogre fire cultists. We were surprised to find that the earth and fire cults had an underground connection to their domains, but it made sense that they had some type of alliance since Yarsha told us that one of the Delegation members had been given to the fire cult. Deciding there was no reason to engage in a fight with these cultists since we were looking for Rhundorth, we made some attempts are gathering information before heeding their warning and heading back to earth cult territory.

Upon our return to the earth cult territory, we found ourselves attacked by a large Dwarven statue that came to life. This statue, perhaps a golem or some kind, did not attack us when we left initially left the area and we suspect that it was some type of guardian charged with keeping intruders from entering the earth cult domains. The statue was easily dispatched by our combined efforts and we continued our wanderings in a new direction…

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Severius' Journal- Broken Alliance (Day 3 Duscar 1630DR)

The directions that Yarsha provided to Miraj’s lab were easy to follow and we elected to heed Yarsha’s advice with a blitz-style attack that would give Miraj little opportunity to respond with violence. Our plan was executed almost perfectly, with Miraj only having time to activate a magical stone construct before being slayed. The stone golem was easily dispatched by the party. In hindsight we questioned our actions. We should have taken note that Miraj seemed genuinely interested in talking when we burst into his lab. Later, after searching his room, we found his personal diary which described much of his work with the cult- both his magical elemental research (a “Mud Sorcerer” he called himself) and his dedication toward creating positive relations between the elemental cults, as well as the people of the Dessarin Valley. Most of us felt a little ashamed at what we had done. Miraj appeared to be unlike the other earth cultists we had met. He actually seemed to have good intentions and we started to question Yarsha’s motives for enlisting us in what we now believe was an assassination plot.

Despite our doubts, we still understood the greater danger that the cultists posed to the Dessarin Valley and there was no guarantees that this cultist was innocent of evil; if he was indeed, as Yarsha claimed, second in line for leadership of the cult, he could not have reached such a position without at least condoning, or failing to act, on some of the cult’s foul acts. With this in mind, we decided we would confront Yarsha with our concerns.

Dovak brought Miraj’s head as proof of our deed and we returned to her chambers. Tobias attempted a ploy to buy us advantage when we chose to strike but she saw through the façade and we did what we could to capture or kill her. Her guards were dispatched easily enough but Yarsha utilized majick to merge into the stone walls and escape. Frustrated, we returned to the Sacred Stone Monastery to recover and regroup.

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Severius' Journal- Down to Earth Negotiations (Day 2 Duscar 1630DR)

We returned to the subterranean domains of the earth cult better prepared because of our experiences on the day prior. Likewise, the earth cult was ready as well and though both parties had changed their tactics, again we found ourselves crossing blades and unleashing magicks in the entrance hall. The gargoyle gate guardians, in a sneak attack, were almost successful in splitting our party to face the cult forces. It was only due to Aszh consuming his potion of giant strength to lift the portcullis were we able to join together to make a stand. Luckily, the cult’s forces were not as many as the day before (perhaps our efforts have reduced their numbers, or some were too scared of us to fight) and we dispatched them with only minor difficulty.

Free of opposition, we explored the level and found rooms that acted as living quarters and worship centers. We did encounter a small band of cultists holed up in a dining hall, which we easily vanquished, and shortly afterward met a cultist that did not immediately attack us. This cultist introduced herself as Yarsha, and she claimed to be the third in line for leadership of the cult. She expressed a recognition of our group’s power and sought to enter into a bargain with us instead of fighting.

Wary of these fanatics, we engaged in a lengthy discussion about the cult and its intentions, and Yarsha explained that the cult’s leader, who was called the Prophet, was a man named Marlos Urnayle. According to Yarsha, Marlos has sought refuge in in yet, another subterranean level that lie beneath this one to commune with their deity, a power named Ogremoch, to seek guidance on the cult’s recent setbacks. Yarsha claimed that she was interested in remedying the cult’s weakened status by entering into an alliance with us. In exchange for killing the cult’s second in command, a man named Miraj Vizann, Yarsha would use her ascension to that position to influence Marlos to stop the cult’s more nefarious activities, as well as provided us with information on the status and whereabouts of the missing Delegation members. As a show of her sincerity, she disclosed that famed blacksmith, Rhundorth, was alive and currently being forced by the earth cult to make weapons for them, she also offered that the moon elf, Teresial, was a captive of the Cult of the Eternal Flame.

Despite our scrutiny of Yarsha’s intentions, she still came off as sincere in her offer and we decided to agree. Satisfied, Yarsha told us where we could find Miraj- in his alchemy lab only a short walk from our current location.

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Severius' Journal- Into the Depths of the Earth (Day 1 Duscar 1630DR)

Committed to finding more members of the Mirabar Delgation, we acted on the only verified information that we had available, that at least two Delegation members were taken into the subterranean levels below the Sacred Stone Monastery by Earth cultists. We reached the second sub-level of the Monastery and found a bridge over a chasm guarded by Gargoyles and a stone-armored wielder of magic. This figure warned us there would be no entry and battle commenced when we pressed forward. This would be the beginning of what would be a protracted battle against the cultists within that took us deeper into the re-purposed Dwarven ruins.Burrowshark.jpg In a great entry hall we were besieged on all sides, and even from below, by Duegar and stone-armored warriors, some of which rode Bulettes as mounts. This enemy was no crazed mob, but one of tactics and cunning. They assisted each other and chose opponents based on their vulnerabilities. Enna was singled out for attack because of her destructive majick and she had to flee to safety on the opposite side of a closed portcullis to avoid death. Twice, I was forced to uselessly expend the Spirit Guardians of Gorm because the enemy forced me to break concentration. Though I believe that we were more powerful, the enemy had the weight of numbers on their side and this started to take its toll. While I am sure the battle took mere minutes, it seemed like an eternity. The magical blessings of our group were dwindling due to the enemies’ numbers and resiliency and several of my party, including myself, were knocked unconscious and had to be revived at least once during the battle.

At one point, things got so desperate for our side that Aszh called to his Fey goddess Titania for aid. As Gorm had done for me, his patron honored his request by sending her most powerful servitor which Aszh called a Sidereal Vizier. It appeared as a majestic-looking elven figure with star-speckled skin that looked like it was taken from a section of the night’s sky. Chain lightning shot from the Vizier’s fingers, decimating the ranks of the enemies and our foes quickly turned their attention to this new threat. The Vizier did much to assist us before it was called back to its home plane and the damage that it had caused was enough to significantly turn the tide of battle in our favor. We easily dispatched remaining enemies. While we were victorious, none of us thought it wise to continue deeper into the Earth cult’s base in our weakened state. We decided to recuperate in the safety of the level above before returning to continue our search.C774CD90-DF55-439F-96E8-DE35B50AD50D.jpeg

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Severius' Journal- Divine Assistance (Day 1 Duscar 1630DR)

I pen these words on the morning following a day of near catastrophe. Our party was nearly vanquished and Dovak would have been lost to the living if it was not for the blessed intervention of Gorm. I find myself both shaken, thinking back on what had transpired, and in wonder over what I saw yesterday and the freshly fallen snow that now covers the ground. I have never seen or felt snow until this moment. Aszh says that it is still too warm for it to last past noon, but in a few tendays I shall have plenty of snow, so much that I will be tired of it.

Dovak seems physically and mentally fine, ever brooding is his nature and it is difficult to tell when he is actually distressed past his regular mood. I know of no other who has been brought back from death so many times by Gorm’s will- surely Gorm sees something of worth in the Dwarf to grant his continued existence. I do sense something underneath Dovak’s stoic and dutiful mannerisms, which I believe has something to do with whatever caused him to leave his home of Thunderdelve Mountain. Perhaps in time, I will learn of what happened and be able to help him.

The giants we had fought, and almost lost our lives to, if not for Gariena’s help and the divine might of Gorm, were stronger than we had originally anticipated. Incredibly strong and with the ability to breath fire, all of us but Enna (who retreated to safety), quickly fell to their counterattack. Luckily for us, Gariena and her sprites were able to rescue us before the giants returned from their search for Enna.

We recovered in Gariena’s camp, Enna reuniting with us a short time later. Gariena explained that she was investigating the giant problem in the Desarrin Valley. She confirmed what we heard in Beliard, that giants of all types were ravaging all over the world for unknown reasons. Many people have been killed and several communities have been devastated. Seeing that the Valley was also plagued by this threat, she intends to travel to Golden Fields to petition the Druids there for aid. Tobias appears to be quite taken by our Druid rescuer and they both appear to enjoy each other’s company.

Of course we could not allow the giants who had defeated us to roam free in the Valley to continue their path of destruction, so after healing the majority of our wounds, we pursued them with the intent of having a re-match, one we were better prepared for. We easily found them feasting on the horses from the caravan they had attacked previously and we set an ambush for them.

Despite taking them by surprise, this battle was just as challenging as the last. Aszh, Enna and I had not yet recovered most of our majicks and our wounds were not wholly healed. As my companions became incapacitated one by one I knew that we needed aid and I called to Gorm for help. I have been in his service since my youth and never have I beseeched him for aid like I did then. I did not take the decision for making this plea lightly as I knew there could be consequences for calling out to Gorm as he expects his servants to be competent and resourceful with his blessings.

Suffice to say my lifetime of faith and servitude to Gorm was total and Gorm saw this and blessed me with the aid of his most powerful of servitors- a Serph. Prior to this I had never seen one, only heard stories and seen the few remaining works of art in the Temple of Gorm with its likeness, but none of these truly captured the majesty of justice incarnate. It appeared in our midst, our minds filled with calming words of righteousness. The giants felt the Serph’s just wrath and all was good.5D2A54B3-51CB-43C5-BF05-2E05BEAE5DC5.jpeg

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