NEPA Known World

Session 22

The party emerged from the depths of Kavorquian’s basement with not only the sword and tiara but also, a hoard of items and their several prisoners. There was a brief moment of confusion as when they did surface, they were surrounded by guards wearing the livery of Threshold and Penhaligon. The stairs had led to what could be described as a pantry but the door to it was open and the soldiers were all about. They were quickly recognized by a grim Kaerin who brightened considerably at recognizing the group. Some of the guards were carrying out a bloodied body wrapped in a sheet.

Another man was with Kaerin and introduced as Baron Sherlane Halaran, Patriarch of the Church of Karameikos. Sherlane appeared to be a kindly man but clearly Thyatian and clearly a man used to the rigors of the Church or military life or both. His gray hair was cropped close and he was clean shaven. His robes appeared simple but of the finest quality and his smile made all who looked upon it trust in his goodness immediately.

More remarkable than the appearance of the Bishop was that Kaerin had two arms! He also had a much more commanding presence with it. However, he paused in giving orders to make sure the adventurers were okay and that they had been successful. He could barely contain his grin when he found out they had been.

Kaerin and the Bishop had the group’s prisoners taken into custody but excused themselves as there are many things to take care of, least of all the missing butler and the dead man who was just carted off. The group was attended to by some of Kaerin’s staff and provided with baths, food, drink, healing and best of all, rest.

That night, the adventurers feasted with the Bishop and Kaerin. Both men pressed them for information and listened intently. Sherlane took the journal from Valmont and promised to study it then return it to Kaerin. During the dinner Sherlane says, “I think I should first explain the importance of this household. Kaerin is the son – adopted, to be sure – of Kavorquian the wizard. That old man was the brother of Lord Arturus Penhaligon, who died some four years ago. It is his daughter, Lady Arteris, who is the ruler of the Estates of Penhaligon and directly responsible to Duke Stefan Karameikos himself. I am, shall we say, an old family friend.”

Sipping on too sweet honey mead, the Bishop continued. “In my duties as Baron, I believe I have heard of you but we all feared you were dead. You must be the same group who found the merchants and put a stop to the Iron Ring in my town, Threshold. For that, I am grateful and you will always have a friend in Threshold. Upon your next visit, I am sure the Merchants Guild will show their gratitude. Chief among them will be Juster Dainworth. I believe that Juster to be an honorable man; young and ambitious to be sure but definitely honorable and a big fan of yours. He has been pressing for word of your fate since he was rescued. He had said all of you had escaped some hidden Iron Ring fortress but the last time he saw you, you had run off to fight Orcs who had burned part of the town of Stallanford. He will be thrilled that you are safe.”

“As you may know, Kavorquian was a sage of sorts and interested in many things. I believe the scoundrels you apprehended were employed by Nikolai, the butler, to steal any valuable collectibles in the basement but you beat them to what was there. I hope they are not connected to the Iron Ring. There appears to be no connection to them and none of them bear that nasty tattoo of theirs. We have identified them as Mordraina of Glantri (the apparent leader); Katzani of Darokin (a Priest no less!); Gurdroten the female Dwarf; Hargrin Coogan, a former gladiator who was good enough to purchase his freedom in Thyatis; and two Traladaran brothers: Radic Bulgevvi, a former Karameikan soldier turned sellsword and Goran Bulgevvi, a local Bard. Of course you slayed Goran but his brother was very vocal about that. The lot of them will be held until a trial can be had before Lady Arteris or her designee. I do not believe they will be going anywhere for a long time if ever.”

The Bishop expressed concern over the note which the group brought with them and the last page of Kavorquian’s diary. He was unsure of who this queen could be but thought it was not good news. He pledged to find out more and send word to the adventurers. “However,” he said, “this is a night for celebration: of your safe return and of the retrieval of those items. Kaerin, are you going to tell them why you needed them so much?”

Kaerin blushed then sipped some of his wine. “The sword was to impress. Luckily the good Bishop restored my arm so I could convince someone I can use it. I can of course. That someone was Baron Kelvin who visited town today with his daughter. The tiara was for her. A gift to prove my intentions to marry her. I am pleased to say that both she and her father accepted!”

There were cheers and congratulations and quite a few more drinks. The conversation turned away eventually from the recent adventures to politics within the Church of Karameikos and the Grand Duchy itself. Sherlane was clearly worried about the growing divide between the native Traladarans and the new Thyatians. He was convinced that they needed a unified national identity and that Grand Duke Stefan was the man to deliver it but he faced resistance from both sides. The Grand Duke was described as a great man but with a flaw of being unable to understand evil. That flaw worried the Bishop more than anything else for if the Duke could not spot evil well, it might be too late by the time that he did.

Eventually, the fire burned low and the cups were emptied. The group headed off to bed. The Bishop said his goodbyes that night for he was traveling back to Threshold very early the next morning.

Two days after the Bishop left, Valmont had found something intriguing in Mordraina’s spellbook and decided to talk to her. It wasn’t the spells but a note about Glantrian noble families and some minor secrets she seemed to know. Secrets which may one day prove useful. Lace and Leif joined the merchant in his trip downtown. The day was a pleasant one and they joked lightly about their chances for new adventure and additional wealth. As they approached the area of the town jail, they noticed a commotion. Smoke was coming from the building itself and a crowd stood around it. Valmont instantly dismissed most of the crowd as mere townspeople but there was a man standing apart from the group who was clearly a mage of some sort. He nodded out of professional courtesy and strode forward to examine the jail.

A large round and still smoldering hole remained where the doors had been. Peeking quickly inside, he could see the remains of two charred guards and the twisted metal of the now wide open cell door. There was no sign of Mordraina or her group.

“Did anyone see what happened?” Valmont asked the crowd.

One scrawny teenage boy stepped forward while the rest of the crowd looked wide-eyed at the mage. They quickly dispersed. All but the mage from the crowd.

“Alright son, tell us what happened.”

“Well, I saw it all. There was a massive swirling of wind and the dust became thick and dark like a small tornado. There was a crack of lightning and out stepped a man all in black. He strode to the steps of the jail and raised his hands, chanting in some weird language. There was an explosion and a massive fireball shot from his hands and smashed open the jail doors. He laughed, kind of like, ‘Mwa-ha-ha’. Like an evil guy out of a story. He then went in but never came out.”

“Interesting,” said Lace, moving closer to the boy. “Anything more you can tell us about him?”

The boy looked nervous. “Um . . . um. Yeah. He had long black hair and a mask that covered his face. His red robes were covered . . .”

“Red robes?” questioned Leif. “You said he had black robes.”

“I did? Yeah, that would have been cool but he had yellow robes with black trim.”

Valmont glared at him. “Listen, son. We don’t have time for games. Tell it to us straight so we can find these criminals before they destroy this town.”

The boy gulped. “Okay. I did see him. I just have a good imagination and it would have been cool if he had been all in black and came in a tornado. Actually, he strolled from the bar across the street and stood in front for a few minutes. He wore yellow robes. He had long, kind of straggly brown hair and had that Thyatian look: tall, skinny and uppity. Everything else is true about the fire ball and never coming out.

“Hey! Get out of there!” A town guardsman yelled at the group. He quickly strode up to the party while the boy ran away.

“We are troubleshooters,” said Leif. The guard raised an eyebrow.

After a brief discussion of authority, danger and the necessary payment of taxes on gained treasure, the guard let the group return to the manor house. Valmont was a little lighter of purse. The guard reminded them that a tax collector would be by in the next few days to settle their accounts but the paperwork would take some time to process. The mage, Gandor, joined the group. As they walked back, Valmont and Lace discussed the usual terms of adventuring contract. Gandor merely nodded.

When Valmont, Lace and Leif returned to the manor, they discovered a messenger had arrived from Aralic. It had been a member of Sergeant Dmitros’s patrol. Aralic’s message stated that their house appeared to be ready for moving in and he would greatly welcome their company back in Stallanford. Having little to keep them in Penhaligon, the group bought some supplies, bid farewell to Kaerin and made the journey back to Stallanford.

More than two weeks passed while the group awaited word from Bishop Sherlane. The revelry had calmed and they settled into a routine. Nelis and Cyllan sat with Aralic most mornings, discussing religious theory. Though they worshipped different Immortals in different churches, they found they had much in common. Valmont, Teagan and Leif continued to pour over the books they had taken from the outlaws and Kavorquian. But mostly, the group ate a lot of apples. Aralic was proud of the churches orchard and found many interesting ways to fix their bounty: apple pie, apple sauce, fried apples, apple cider, apple juice, apple stew; you name it and he had an apple recipe for it.

On the 27th of Flaurmont, a carriage pulled up beside the house. The driver slowly climbed down, clearly stiff from his ride. He opened the door and first helped down a young but stout woman. He offered a hand to the man behind her but was waved off with a smile. Juster Dainworth had arrived. He was a young man as well, much thinner than his wife. He held out his arm for her and as soon as she laid her hand upon it, they strode in step to the front door. The place was very nice by Stallanford standards. His rescuers had done well in the several weeks since he had last seen them. Then again, so had he and he hoped they could make each other much richer.

While Juster was an idealist, his recent exposure to the criminal element had changed him. He wanted the Duke to declare war on the Iron Ring and whoever dared support them. Talk from those who should be in the know seemed to think that he would soon. Of course, rumors also told of powerful backers of the Ring, perhaps even the Duke’s very cousin.

Juster knocked on the door loudly. He could hear the sounds of people inside. He did not know how many of his rescuers were here or even still alive but he had been told that at least Valmont, Cyllan and the two Elves were living in this house. He was surprised when someone entirely different opened the door. It was a Thyatian woman, extremely muscled and wearing a simple tunic. But the tunic was of a striking purple and belted to her waist was a large dagger which she appeared ready to use it at a moment’s notice.

“Hello. We are here to see Cyllan and Valmont. I believe they live here . . . unless I have the wrong address.” Juster fidgeted with his jacket.

Lace looked at him then at Seledina. They appeared to be safe enough. She yelled back into the house, “Valmont! Cyllan! There’s a merchant family here to see you!” Turning to the man and woman, she extended her hand. “I’m Lace. Come in please.”

When those that knew Juster appeared (Valmont, Cyllan, Teagan and Leif), there was a great roar of celebration. They quickly did introductions and Seledina produced a bottle of two bottles of Red Dragon Crush a fine wine from Selenica. After catching up, Juster got down to business. He wanted to establish a new business with the group as partners. For a 50% share (to be split anyway they chose), Juster wanted the group to help him buy and sell horses along his “fishhook” route. He stated that war was in the air and war meant armies which meant a need for horses. He was trying to get the homesteads in central and eastern Karameikos to sell their wild and trained horses to them and then they could resell them to nobles in Karameikos, Thyatis and Darokin. He already had some interest in Selenica and had met a Traladaran named Stephen of Sukiskyn. Stephen spoke on behalf of his brother Pyotr who was the leader at Sukiskyn. They already sold horses in Kelvin and Rifillian but would welcome a partnership to sell on a broader level. The only thing necessary was to convince Pyotr. Juster and Stephen agreed some heroic businessmen would be good to persuade Pyotr and arranged for them to meet at Sukiskyn soon. The party agreed to the opportunity and that they would meet Stephen within the week. Juster had assumed they would and had booked passage on a boat out of Kelvin to a spot near Sukiskyn.

Business done, it was late into the night before Juster and Seledina left the party’s house and returned to their inn. However, they did so secure in knowing that a bright future lay ahead of them and their friends.

The group was up early and ready by the time Juster arrived again. He bid them well and promised to meet them in a few weeks back in Threshold. With a flourish, the carriage left. Through the dust of its tracks, a rider came. From the clothes and the hard ride, they knew it was Sergeant Dmitros herself. She slowed her horse to a walk and easily slid down from it.

Her face was stoic. “I have a message for you. It arrived at Aralic’s just a few moments ago and I volunteered to bring it to you.” No one asked why she had been at Aralic’s so early in the morning.

The note was sealed with the seal of the Bishop Sherlane of Threshold. Valmont opened it and read it to the group. The Bishop had information on the queen and a proposed quest.

“Ugh!” sighed Lace. Cyllan looked at her and smiled. This was quite the dilemma. On the one hand, they had made a promise to Juster. It just so happened that that promise would also most likely make them rich but it would require that they meet the ferryman in three days. Of course, Kelvin was in the exact opposite direction from where the Bishop wanted them to go.

The mystic could see the wheels turning in Valmont’s mind, measuring the balance of profit and glory. She knew it would be a long discussion so she took a seat on the steps leading to their house. After more than an hour, Lace dictated a response to Valmont (which he edited heavily) and handed back to Misha:

Dear Bishop Halaran,
We will be gathering information and supplies as we make our way by a non-direct route to address the problem. We may travel under the guise of traders of some sort to better move undetected. Do not doubt this situation is of the utmost concern to us and we will be working to resolve it as soon as we are able.

With that decided, they left Stallanford and headed on foot to Kelvin.


The journey was uneventful and took just less than three days. Kelvin was the biggest city they had visited together and it was the second largest city in all of Karameikos. Unfortunately, there was only a day before they were to board their boat. The group spent a night in the outer encampment area not wanting to attract attention as per their note to Bishop Sherlane.

The next morning revealed a clear and beautiful day as the group clambered onboard Kalanos’ flat bottom boat. His polemen appeared to be a ragtag lot but Kalanos himself seemed to be a good enough man. He was Traladaran and spoke in clipped Thyatian phrases. However, he smiled at Teagan, Cyllan and Lace and nodded kindly to the others. He seemed relieved that they had no horses as there would not have been room onboard. One of the polemen helped the group secure their belongings and then joined his fellows as they set out on the river. Near Kelvin, all manner of river boats surrounded them but soon enough they were out in the open river and passing through the hills that surrounded the city.

After a few hours of travel, the hills gave way to forest. It closed in first from the south and the river became both narrower and faster. The polemen (there were eight of them) seemed to relax and pushed less, only seeking to guide the boat in the center of the river.

Suddenly, the boat came to a halt with a large thud. Everyone stumbled a bit and one of the polemen almost dropped his pole. Kalanos had been listening to Valmont’s discourse on the nature of profit and the prospects for such an open land. He genuinely seemed interested to Cyllan, who had decided to try to snooze a little during the relaxing journey. With the stopping of the boat, Kalanos excused himself and headed to the front of the boat. That’s when the arrows started falling.

One of the polemen, took one to the neck and stumbled back then fell over the railing, gore spilling into the river. One even dared clink off of Leif’s armor which while not painful, was annoying enough to cause him to sneer.

Shouts from either side of the river revealed the presence of several men. Some on the south were aligned just on the edge of the woods and were the clear source of the arrows. There were also several others who were pulling up a chain from the river, behind the boat, aiming to trap the group. Still others on the south shore were beginning to dive into the river.

“Go back! Go back! We have to reverse course,” shouted Leif.

Derrek peeked above the edge of the boat, “I knew this was a bad idea. Should have gone for the queen.” he whispered to himself. He drew his sword and waited for the swimmers to reach them. He would give them a nasty surprise if they got close. He would have gone for his crossbow but figured that his staying in the shadows and ramming a sword through an invader would be more useful.

“I need my drum,” shouted Kai’ Kul to no one in particular.

Cyllan and Gandor began slinging stones and bullets at the archers on the southern shore. They struck the same one first and he fell backwards then stayed still.

Meanwhile, Valmont and Teagan began casting spells. Valmont finished his with a slight yellow glow surrounding him. He felt more protected against the raining arrows. Teagan focused his spell on a group on the shore and they slumped over as if asleep.

Kai’ Kul found his drum and began to chant and drum near the center of the boat. His eyes rolled back in his head as the spirits guided his voice and his hands. To him, everything seemed to slow down but to those farther away everyone began to move in a blur. As he continued to drum, the effect spread. Soon, anyone within ten feet of him was moving at three times their normal speed. Nelis detected the change and took advantage of it. As did Lace, moving to the edge of the boat.

Unfortunately, so did an assassin who was hidden amongst Kalanos’ men. He pushed Kalanos down and triple speed ran to Valmont, thrusting a dagger into the Glantrian’s back. The merchant dropped the pole he had picked up from a fallen poleman. It quietly slipped into the river.

Teagan saw the attack and pivoted from shooting across the river to launching a fast double volley of arrows toward the assassin. The first struck him in the head and the second would have but as the man was flying backwards, it struck him in the heart. He crumpled to the deck.

As he did, the first wave of swimmers reached the boat. Lace and Nelis were on top of them. The fighter cleaved off both hands from one invader and he slipped back into the water.

“Someone give him a hand,” smirked Leif.

As another invader pulled himself into the boat, Nelis struck him with her mace, bashing him in the head, knocking him off and into the water. Drowning finished him off.

Gandor too was active with the invaders. He quickly cast a cantrip, Firefinger, to the face of one but the flame missed by an inch. He got in the boat and brandished his dagger. Gandor quickly recovered and stuck a dagger in his chest, wiping the smile from the invader’s face. The mage pulled out the bloody knife and rolled him overboard.

Kai’Kul’s drumming and chanting changed. He closed his eyes and visualized the shore and the person he thought might be the enemy leader. He imagined him swarmed by rats, hundreds of them, squeaking, biting and clawing. As he opened his eyes, he saw that it had worked. On shore, the leader and two of his archers were crawling with vermin. The leader was yelling a retreat and soon fled into the forest.
Seeing the seven swimmers still in the water, Leif cast a mirror image spell. Instantly, there were four Leif’s. However, the swimmers had turned around and were swimming for the shore. Somehow they had heard or sensed their leader’s call. Unfortunately for them, Teagan was not the forgiving type. She and several others in the group picked them off one by one and all died before reaching the shore.

Looking around, the party saw that two of the polemen were dead. Nelis applied some healing herbs to Valmont who appeared to be the only one from the party who was injured severely. Kalanos was huddled in the boat, shaking his head in disbelief. It took some doing but Cyllan got him up and moving. While the crew got the boat over the chain in the river and started upstream again, the party examined the body of the assassin. He was non-descript except for the tattoo of manacles on left forearm . . .

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Session 21

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Session 20

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Session 19

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Session 18

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Session 17

Summary of sessions 17 – 21


Session 17

Locked in the basement and having fought both an odd unspeaking man who gave off a puff of smoke and light when destroyed as well as a metal, phasing spider beast of some type, the group was on edge. What other “lethal but dangerous” surprises awaited them here? Luckily, the area was at least well lit – magically no doubt.

The group proceeded carefully, finding nothing of real value. They again fought a phasing spider creature but destroyed it, leaving a small brass ball. New team members joined the quest, with no real idea how they got in the place. But danger came from old party members: Sindil could not resist banging on a large gong and when he did so, several shadowy creatures appeared. Their touch seemed to drain victims of strength and only with fire were the adventurers able to defeat them. Unfortunately, during the fight, Riddick runs through a different door. He finds a greenish gray slime that drips on his head and quickly dissolves him. there is little time to mourn so the party seals the door. Before moving on, Leif takes a swipe at Sindil for acting rashly but the nimble Halfling avoids the blow.


Session 18

After most of the party is paralyzed by a gas trap and in order to avoid unfortunate death or dismemberment from traps, the group decides to start checking for traps by committee: Cyllan, Derrek and Nitsua. Since Sindil is paralyzed, the group also takes to leaning him against doors and allowing him to fall into the room as potential bait for monsters. Nothing eats him or is drawn out.

The group continues to move through the basement finding a rather normal and comfortable living space. However, things become abnormal when suits of armor come to life. Proceeding through these automatons, the party ignores a message of a glossy ironbound door: "Do not enter! Guardians are hostile and very dangerous! K.”

Inside, the party is attacked by two gargoyles. The group’s weapons appear to have no effect. The adventurers appear near defeat when Valmont begins connecting with his magical dagger. Again and again, he strikes and takes down both gargoyles (Lace assists after she gets inspired by the Immortals and tries to body slam the gargoyle with her magical armor). The sword, part of their quest is here and Lace decides to use it while they are in the basement even if she has to give it back later. The group decides to stay in their current spot to rest, hoping to find the tiara the next day.

Gargoyle


Session 19

The morning begins with a light meal and Valmont using a nifty spell to clean everyone. Their gear gleams as they continue their journey. At one point, several party members seem to go nisane, claiming an attack by flying weapons. The majority of the party sees nothing so they keep going. They run into what appears a dead in but find a secret passage through a coal tunnel. Inside, Nitsua is attacked in the dark. Leif is with him but sees no attacker. It turns out to be another of those unspeaking men. It disappears in a flash of light and smoke as Cyllan jabs it with one of her many staffs.

The group continues to use a trap checking committee. There is rarely agreement between all three members but they mostly avoid any danger due to traps. Another combat occurs with the suits of armor. While valiant Nitsua was knocked unconscious during the fight, it was not before he was able to use his devastating Whip of Death to take one of the plate-mailed horrors out. The Mystic, Cyllan, dispatched the other then used the party’s “Healing Stick” (a mystical staff that smites foes and heals friends) to bring the Troubleshooter back to life. Now, the group has peered beyond the sole door remaining in this room. A well-lit hallway stretches away in three directions . . .


Session 20

Agreeing to head in one direction, the group eventually finds a room barren except for piles of rust colored dirt, smashed wooden crates and two weird creatures. They are like giant armadillos but with the head of a bug with large antennae. Sindil gets too close and is hit by the antenna. It doesn’t hurt but the armor is almost instantly rusted and falls broken to the ground. Another character loses his gladius and Teagan loses his armor too before the adventurers figure out a plan. Nitsua takes out a tattered book while all others are trying to find non-metal weapons to attack. Stache and Sindil (who has levitated using a potion) kill the two beasts and the party takes samples of their blood, hoping to sell it or use it to rust metal.

Confronted with many directions, the group argues over which doors through which to proceed. They choose several fruitless options, saving the double doors for last. Inside they find a huge chamber with a spiral stair case leading upwards in the middle of the room. The chamber must have been luxurious once, for the carpets, furnishings, books and paintings look of high quality. But now there is a pile of shattered iron on the ground and several four people in the room. A dwarf in plate mail is inspecting her axe while a tough-looking
fighter in chain mail is dragging his blade out of the mass of iron. A dark-haired man with chain
mail and a mace is touching the shoulder of a robed, blond woman who has a dagger in a scabbard and a bone tube at hers belt, from which a scroll has been half-extracted. Two others, a large man in chainmail and a smaller but somewhat similar man in leather armor, stand back talking quietly to each other.

The groups size each other up, neither one willing to give out too much information (but Nitsua does). It seems they are all searching for something but unwilling to work together. The impasse is broken when Lace and Cyllan decide to push past the other group and search the book shelves. Cyllan finds something of interest but is right next to the man in leather. The man looks back at the brown robed woman. She nods her head. The signal is received and an all out attack begins!

In the first seconds, Lace who is right beside Cyllan, steps up and separates the leather armor wearer’s body form his head . . .

Rustmonster


Session 21

The fight is long and bloody, neither side able to gain advantage. Spells are cast and disrupted. Valmont falls, ironically bloodied by the priest of Asterius. Sindil charges on dogback but misses with his improvised lance (a staff). The dwarf tries to stay out of the fight, encouraging Teagan to do the same but to no avail. Teagan must aid her friends. Nelis rushes to Valmont’s side, casting a healing spell and the merchant is back in the fight. Almost everyone is wounded but eventually, the brown robed woman calls for a truce. The party strips them of everything but their basic clothing (even their armor is taken) and a dagger. Lace argues to take their holy symbols since they have value but Nelis argues against it and in the end those are not taken. The vanquished foes then depart through the stairway.

A secret door is found behind which are several chests. Derrek fails to remove the trap and is paralyzed by a poison needle. Sindil bears the same fate on another chest. However, the chests are full of treasures including most notably, the tiara.

The group carries the disabled friends up the stairs with their new found treasure . . .

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Session 16

A short summary:

In the last session: Having destroyed the necromantic priest, the party stops to catch their breath and count their treasure. Rikou quietly slips to the back of the room and starts to sing softly, weaving Sonora’s Slumber over his companions. One by one the party slumps over asleep but the spellsong fails to affect his biggest enemy: Lace. She launches herself over the bodies of her fallen comrades and stabs him deeply in the chest. A smile crosses his lips as he falls dead. To ensure he will not return, she cuts off his head and cuts out his heart. She burns them in the nearby fire pit.

They return to Stallanford to find the festival over. Arrangements are made to stay at The Hungry Halfling and soon Aralic arrives to hear their news. They agree that the next step is to find Kavorquian the intended recipient of the note. Perhaps he can shine light on this queen and “harvest of death.” Two patrons of the tavern join them: Riddick, a burly Traladaran warrior, and Derrek, a Thyatian “adventure specialist and troubleshooter.” Rob takes an immediate dislike to Derrek, a threat to his place within the party.

Unknown to the rest of the party, Rob breaks into Derrek’s room and steals a small article of clothing. He then attempts to break into the temple in order to frame the new rogue but is scared off by Aralic’s dog.

The next morning, the group meets again with Aralic before leaving for Penhaligan where they believe Kavorquian lives. Aralic shows them the chests that arrived for them mysteriously a few days ago. They indeed are their items from Haven. As a sign of devotion, Cyllan donates her chest to Aralic’s church. He is astounded. He is even more astounded when Valmont donates Rikou’s effects to the church including his chest.

The group travels to Penhaligan through moderate rain. At least it is not too cold but no one else seems to have taken today as a travel day. Rain is usual this time of year (the 7th of Flaurmont, fourth month of the year). The day is uneventful and after about six hours, they eventually get to the outskirts of town. They short climb up a path leading to several large houses atop a slight hill leads them to a notably fine house with some marble statues on its grounds. The iron gates have some interesting, unusual designs wrought on them which Valmont says look magical in nature.

They briefly speak with a liveried butler but eventually are told Kavorquian recently died. However, they are welcomed in by his supposed son, Kaerin. Kaerin is in his mid 20’s, over six feet tall and strongly built. He has brown hair, worn over the collar and dark brown eyes. Most notably, he is missing his right arm.

Kaerin

After baths and dinner, Kaerin begins a speech:

“I think you might be suitable people for helping me with a problem I have. I’ve only just moved in, having come from Specularum, and I’m still taking stock of the whole house. It looks wonderful – apart from the basement.”

“I haven’t told you everything of importance. That note is worrying me because it could concern important people. I can’t tell you everything, but I will promise to be wholly truthful in what I do tell you.

“Kavorquian’s basement holds some of his magical items and also some treasure. I want you to find something down there for me – a sword with an unmistakable gem-set hilt and pommel. Also, there is a diamond tiara that I know is there, because Kavorquian told me about it. I want the sword and tiara – you get everything else you can find.

“The problem is, the old man fitted the basement with traps and magical guardians. Nothing meant to be lethal, but it could be dangerous, possibly very much so, because some of his guardians might be out of control now. My problem is simple.”

“I’m not in a position to go down myself and get what I want. I was just about to advertise for adventurers to help when you showed up.”

“Well? Are you interested? Before you say yes or no, though, remember that you can have everything other than the sword and tiara you find in the basement. You must promise to deliver those two items to me. I will also pay you 250 gold each for finding the two items. And I MUST have them in 48 hours.”

The young man is evasive in exactly why the items are needed or why his father, a known wizard, would have need of such a fine sword. However, the group agrees and after a good night’s rest, are escorted to the basement where they begin.

Soon after getting to the basement, things start to go awry. Stone slabs slam shut and block the stairs then Leif falls into a pit which then closes. Even odder, a simply dressed man steps out of a room at the same time. He is mute but not inactive. His arms stretch to reach anyone within twenty feet and a grand battle begins.

Inside the pit, Leif is plagued by a metallic spider the size of a large dog. It phases in and out of the walls, attacking him from behind and he is not able to hit it. Above, Cyllan pole vaults the area where the pit was, followed by Riddick. Riddick finishes his with a flying kick to the strange man. Lace makes relatively quick work of him though and Cyllan finds a lever on the wall which releases Leif. However, he does not know where the phasing spider beast went. . . .

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Summary for Session 15

From our Meetup summary:

When we last saw the adventurers, they had returned to their home world, Mystara (aka, The Known World) and picked up right where the majority had left off: in a dark dungeon/cave complex. They remembered that the floor above had been cleared of Orcs but they had been sent back to find the source of evil felt by Aralic, the Cleric they had rescued before being swept into Haven. They made a quick dash down several hallways and eventually faced a Necromantic Priest and his foul undead beasts (ghouls, zombies and skeletons). Lace, Rob and Rikou all wound up foiled by the evil Priest’s pit trap but the others battled on. Stache finally overpowered him with a bash to the head and the enemy fell unconscious to the floor. However, as the party tried to catch their breath, Lace calmly walked to Stache’s side then slit the evil Cleric’s throat. The party was thrown into an uproar but Lace defended her action by saying only, “He was evil. Evil must be destroyed.”

Petrides

Minutes later, thoughts of the enemy were forgotten as Valmont opened a treasure chest and found a hoard of items: hundreds of gold and silver pieces, a bottle of fragile glass green liquid and a gold tiara set with emeralds and rubies. He found something else of worth on a Karameikan soldier’s dead body (which had been laid upon an altar, most likely for an unholy resurrection of his flesh by the Priest): a note. The bloodstained and dirty note read:

“To the Wizard Kavorquian:
Urgent and grave news! Peril stalks the land. A force grows not far from here, commanded by one who walks in shadow with wickedness and madness. Her mind is warped; she is exploited by one of cunning and evil among her followers. I was told by the mercenary who escaped her service that this “queen” determines daily to bring a harvest of death to the land. . .”

A new mystery seems to be unraveling as the adventurers head back to Stallanford to figure out their next steps . . .

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Summary for Sessions 10-14: Beyond the green mist . . .

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Finally, the entire party was awake and ready. Cyllan and Valmont were still wondering why the caskets were empty when a familiar warm sense began to envelope them. A green mist began to fill the room from the bottom up. While Teagan was initially wary, she too could feel peace flow through her body as the mist rose. Cyllan told the party to gather together as she knew they would all soon be back in the other world; the one where they had been trying to rescue Princess Argenta.

There was a flash of bright white light then red. Something was wrong. This was not the way it had been. Another flash of white light and the group found themselves in a hallway. It was undoubtedly the same dungeon area, Valmont remembered but not exactly where they had been. There was no time to wonder about that though. They found themselves in the midst of a fight!

Around the party stood two dead Elven males and a dead Human man. The mage and monk instantly recognized the Elves but they had not encountered the man. He was dressed similarly to the two Human males attacking the party: black leather masks, blood red floor length robes covered with hundreds of eyes.

One of the robed Humans raised his mace and charged Zyass who happened to be closest. The Forestor did not hesitate and jabbed his sword in and through the robed man’s heart. Before he could realize he was dead, he swung and brained Zyass. Zyass staggered back and the robed man slid off his sword.

The party glared at the remaining robed man who didn’t seem to like the new odds. He dropped his mace and got down on his knees. Roderick stepped forward, and with his seemingly endless supply of perfectly cut lengths of rope, tied up the man.

They discovered he was a priest but they did not know his Immortal. He kept saying that Arik, the Watcher, he of a thousand eyes, was coming and that there was no way to stop it. The red glow was his warming aura and would spread throughout the lands once he returned. Roderick saw that as an open invitation for debate and promptly sat down beside him and began. Cyllan stood nearby nodding from time to time, obviously interested but trying not to be drawn into the conversation. Finally, after about ten minutes of discourse, Teagan had had enough. She struck the evil priest on top of his head with the pommel of her sword and he slumped sideways. “That settles that. Let’s move,” said the Elf.

Valmont and Roderick lifted their prisoner back to his feet and he groggily tried to keep up.

[insert more here]

After joining forces with more new characters, the party continued in their quest to find a solution to the red mist. The stories of how they arrived here were all similar. They had all been somewhere close to the Grand Duchy of Karameikos or the Thyatian Empire when they were enveloped by a strange but calming green mist. An Immortal urged them to find the root of the mist and restore the kingdom of Argenta, the Silver Princess of Haven. There was no way out of the castle and it appeared that all of the inhabitants had been turned to stone statues or replaced with foul creatures like Goblinoids and Orcs or worse. The group struggled with the meaning of a scrawled message left by a hapless victim:

Evil red eye, malefaction!
Sweet music from strings;
Priceless Blade of Destruction,
Salvation rides on dragon’s wings!

They were further confused by the discovery of several gems in an apparent bathing room. At the head of the room’s tub was a delicately sculpted tray with three small gems: one red, one blue, the other yellow. Are they a clue to the mystery? They do seem magical.

The group entered a garden of horrors, filled with bushes that shot thorny spikes. At its center was a humongous white rose bush and in the center of that was a silver dragon statue. The vines of the rose bush struck like snakes and the blood of its victims turned its petals red. Eventually, a bold move by the female barbarian, allowed the group to capture the statue and the combined actions of the team members defeated the murderous vegetation.

But soon, a greater danger was revealed. A summoning of some dark force, known only as “He Who Watches” or “He of a Thousand Eyes”, was being completed by an evil priest and his minions: Orcs, other priests (in blood red robes covered with embroidered eyes) and the worst: a half woman, half wolf creature. The head priest was chanting over a glowing ruby sword, which rested on a black velvet pillow in the center of a magic circle, painted on the floor to look like a giant eye. The battle was tough and many of the heroes succumbed to the blows of the enemy and their magic (including a staff which became a snake and tried to squeeze the life from its prey). However, when all seemed lost and their normal weapons appeared useless, Teagan grabbed the silver drake statue and smahed the wolf-woman with it. The battle was won and Lace, the female barbarian, cut off the head of the half woman/half wolf (who had turned back into a normal looking but naked woman when she died) and threw it into the ceremonial fire.

Priest arik

The party stared in stunned silence at the brazier. It hissed and spit sparks as the woman’s head (no longer in the shape of a wolf) was consumed. The room began to fill with a sickly sweet smell, not unlike burnt pork, and Rob coughed to keep from gagging. He was looking over the bodies, trying to find something helpful. So far, no such luck.

Lief was going from live body to live body, binding the wounds of his fellow adventurers – he was saving the unnamed one for last. As he offered water to the stranger, he glanced over at Lace. She was glaring.

“Don’t give him anything until he explains who he is.”

“My lady, I must protest,” said the man who was clad all in black. “Let’s not forget I too was on the Elf’s side in that battle.” He spoke with a Thyatian accent but mixed with something else. He looked a bit Ochalean thought the female barbarian but his actions were not like other Ochaleans she knew. They were normally all about the group and the community and he was the opposite: selfish and secretive. She did not trust him.

“We’ll reconsider once you tell us who you are and how you got here.” Lace’s blood stained sword was pointing in the man’s general direction. Not quite attacking but definitely not friendly. The entire party (at least those conscious) stopped what they were doing and watched the exchange. It was tense.

“For the Immortals’ sake, Human, tell her your name before you bleed out. We can use another sword!” Teagan was tired of this bickering. She knew that there was danger all around them still. She could feel it in her bones.

“My name is Rikuo. My brother was Shin and it was his body that you were surrounding when I came to this forsaken place. I only know that I felt him in pain then a green mist formed around me. I was in a bedroom on the grounds of the shrine to Khoronus in the port of Julinius. I was there only because I was awaiting the arrival of my brother from Thyatis City. We were to study together with the great bard, Neng-lin Mao, and perhaps earn . . .”

Lace hung on his words. “Earn what?”

“Um. Earn . . . earn . . . earn enough to be rich. Yes, that’s what I was going to say.” Rikuo looked away from the muscled woman.

“Sounds good enough for me,” said Lief. He bent to bind the man’s wounds and treat them with healing salve.

“Enough for now,” shrugged Lace.

After Lief had done all that she could, the priest was still unconscious; not in danger of dying from these wounds but of no help in stopping any other creatures in establishing new wounds. That also left them without a healer and several others really needed magical healing quickly if they were going to get out of this mess. Lace started searching Valmont’s unconscious body, saying, “As much as he values his hide, he must have a healing draught or two. . . . Ah ha!” She withdrew a small glass vial with a green liquid inside. Removing its stopper, she gave a sniff. “Mint. It must be good for something.”

“Uh, perhaps it could be something else,” said Rob. “Like poison?”

“Well, dead from this or dead from an Orc’s blade. It’s worth a try.” Lace parted the priest’s lips and pour some in his mouth. He began to swallow and his eyes flew open. The cuts from the wolf-woman’s claws close and are healed. Lace smiles and Rob breathes a sigh of relief. The priest rises and helps heal all the others. They take a few minutes to compose themselves but with everyone conscious and relatively healed and the sword in their possession they resume their search for the drakes and gem.

After progressing down several hallways, they appear to be at a dead end but Cyllan finds a hidden door. It leads into a small room, bare except for a small table and four chairs. On the table, a wooden chest. Rikuo offers the chance to search the chest to Cyllan but then decides to open it himself when she declares it trap free. Unfortunately, she is wrong and he is pricked by a discolored wooden splinter. His hand then his arm goes numb and he begins to shiver then convulse. Uncharacteristically taking his time and with a few comments to Lace, Valmont finally reveals an anti-dote potion he picked up in town. He gives it to Rikuo just before the man in black falls unconscious. In the chest they find hundreds of gold and silver coins as well as 10 fire agate gems.

They proceed along the hallways and finally return to a set of double doors which they bypassed earlier. Entering, they see an ornate throne of silver and oak sitting atop a dais along the center of the north wall. A light ruby red mist covers the floor. On either side of the dais is a tapestry showing the changing seasons in Haven. Spring and Summer are shown on the tapestry to the left of the throne. Fall and Winter are shown on the tapestry to the right of the throne. The room is filled with statues of men, women and dwarves. The statues are arranged to resemble a typical court scene (one statue kneels in front of the throne, statues of guards flank the throne, a statue of a councilor is leaning over, as if whispering to a person on the throne, etc.). Resting in the middle of the throne is a glowing ruby the size of a large man’s fist.

Carefully, they creep towards the throne. Valmont sees two tiny figures inside, trying to get out: the Princess Argenta and a man in black plate mail. Valmont grabs the gem and there is an explosion of red light and when they can see again, each is confronted with a large red armored warrior holding red long swords. The fight is on!


The fight with the ruby warriors. Many of the adventurers are felled and appear to be near death. The ruby sword is used to attack the ruby soldiers and it appears to make them stronger. Eventually, with total defeat looming, Lace throws the ruby sword to Sindil and he smashes the gem with it. An explosion knocks everyone over and light bathes the room. A screech of evil fills the room then there is silence. All of the adventurers wearily stand, even those who had been near death (or seemingly dead in the case of Valmont).


The disaster that has befallen Haven not only ends but begins to reverse. Sick cattle recover, withered crops grow green again. The Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins and other evil creatures that invaded Haven at the call of the ruby flee. The forces besieging the Protector are scattered. Those people turned to stone become flesh. Only those individuals unfortunate enough to have died as a result of the disaster will not he restored to life. That includes smashed statues.

The Protector returns in a flash of green light and explains the ruby was a trick of Arik, Lord of Madness and Nightmares, He of a Thousand Eyes. She must attend to her enemies but will return.

The party is celebrated as heroes by Princess Argenta and her people. There are great feasts in their honor and they are awarded treasures beyond their imagining. Townspeople declare there will be children named in their honor and a week long festival of thanks is conducted. At the end of the week, many of Princess Argenta’s subjects are invited to the palace. There is a ceremony as she declares her betrothal to Ellis the Strong, the knight who arrived on the White Dragon, Ariksbane. It is discovered that he and Argenta had been long time lovers and that he has sworn his life to fighting the powers of darkness. His dragon is named Ariksbane because of its ability to search out and destroy the ruby “eyes” such as the one which led to the near disaster in Haven. All of the heroes are awarded the Silver Medal of Honor, which proclaims them as protectors of the realm.

As the ceremony comes to an end, unearthly beautiful music is heard and the doors to the great hall open. In walks Thendara, the Protector, flanked by what can only be described as angels. She stands before the crowd and explains what has happened: the demon Arik has been imprisoned for centuries but his worshippers had a scheme to release him here in Haven where he could eventually take over the entire world. The party has stopped him for now but they must ever be vigilant for he would be keen to exact revenge upon them. Haven will not be safe for them and they must return to their world.

Green mist began to flow from the hands of the goddess. Her smile was reassuring and that familiar warm feeling began to overtake the adventurers. They could see the faces of the Princess’ subjects; some smiling, some crying, all wishing the adventurers well. The green mist bathed the group and then there was a flash of bright light . . .

“Oh no!”

“What is it Cyllan?” Lace shook her head and looked at the Mystic. They appeared to be in some strange place. It was certainly not the realm of Princess Argenta. The familiar smell of dank dungeons made her nostrils flare.

Cyllan looked at Valmont. He too recognized their location then turned to the barbarian. “We have been here before. We have resumed our original quest. An evil lurks in this dark place and it seems we are still meant to find it.”

Looking around, they were in a room that must have been an old burial chamber. Six tombs lie in the floor but the lids had all been moved and they were devoid of contents. A large chopped up worm of some sort, lay dead and oozing in the center of the chamber. It’s head was a mass of tentacles.

All of the party was here: Cyllan, Lace, Valmont, Teagan, Leif, Rob, Sindil, Rikou and Stache. Each was dressed in their adventuring gear which was cleaned and mended beyond new. They were all healthy and smelled freshly bathed. Around each person’s neck hung a large silver medal. However, they were clearly no longer in the Palace of the Silver Princess.

Rob looked around and finally spoke: “Hey, where’s all of our loot?”

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Session 9: Into the darkness

The few party members still standing quickly turned to their fallen comrades and bound their wounds. Most were wounded but none were dead. Valmont knew that Roderick would thank Petra for that lucky circumstance. “These superstitious Karameikans trusted too much to the Immortals,” thought the Glantrian as he turned to loot the chief’s body. He found a ring of keys, a silver necklace with small gems and a few coins. The other Orcs also yielded a collection of varied coins and a gold bracelet with ivory inlays and the ceremonial dagger of the Orc spell caster. It was definitely more well-made than was normal for an Orc weapon.

Three doors led out of this room other than the one they found. All had stout wooden doors but one of them had a small barred window. Peering inside, they found the object of their quest: Aralic the Cleric from Stallanford. The priest was badly beaten and could barely stand to greet the adventurers.

“Thank the Immortals! Please hurry. There are many more Orcs and I must return to Stallanford as quickly as possible. Also, I feel as if these walls are pressing upon my very soul. It is so very dank and small within this cell.” Aralic’s voice shook with strain. It was obvious that small spaces bothered him.

Valmont unlocked the door and caught the cleric as he stumbled. “We shall leave soon, as soon as we open these two doors. Rest, good Father.” He guided Aralic to rest, propped on a wall and sitting on the floor. The priest nodded and relaxed a bit. “A little water if you have any?” Valmont handed over his wineskin then moved toward another door, where the rest of the party stood waiting. He used the keys and quickly found the right one.

This was clearly the chief’s bedchamber. Two large pallet beds, draped with furs, stood in the far corners of the room, and on a table beside each stood a bronze urn and an enamel bowl. Some tattered clothing hung on pegs, and a copper plate with scraps of food had been carelessly thrown on the floor. But what caught their eyes at once was the treasure chest that stood at the foot of one of the beds. The group fanned out and searched. They found hundreds of coins of various types, several pieces of jewelry, a vial of green liquid which smelled of roses and a leather bound book. This last piece was clearly the spell book of the Orc shaman. They gathered everything and returned to the previous chamber. One more door to open.

The smell from beyond this door was clearly of Orc and they could hear slight whimpering. Cautiously opening it, they discovered a group of Orc females and children; cowering in fear and blinking in the light of the torches. The room itself was large and contained bedding from wall to wall. Searching the room discovered nothing of value but they were unsure what to do with the occupants. They could kill them all or take them back to town or leave them here. They ultimately decided to leave them where they were and closed then locked the door.

The group gathered all its treasures including the Orc chief’s axe, helped Aralic to his feet and began to evacuate the cavern. Right before leaving the main room, however, Aralic paused. “You must promise me something.”

The group looked at him expectantly.

“You must return here and find out what lies beyond that obscured door. But we must return to Stallanford first so that you may heal and I may heal you. I must also ensure progress has been made on the festival. It will not go on without me and that would be disastrous for the town. We count on having it each year.”

Teagan looked at the priest. “What door? How did I miss a secret door?”

The party looked and surely they found the outline of a door on an unexamined wall. However, they knew that Aralic was right about needing healing. Some had just been brought back from the brink of death. They could not stand up to another fight like the one they just had. They swore to Aralic that they would return and they journeyed back to town. Thankfully, they ran into no enemies but instead an old friend.

Abu the Gnoll found them as they were leaving. He had been scouting the forest and confirmed that there were Orcs in the surrounding woods. He had been tracking them and providing cover for the adventurers, picking off Orcs who attempted to enter the caverns. He had also been avoiding the old man who had originally guided them here. He was waiting up ahead and could lead them back to Stallanford. Abu agreed to scout the woods until the party could return then the group continued their walk to the city, taking Janner with them.

Their return to Stallanford was joyous and the townspeople were extremely grateful for Aralic’s return. Many a round of drinks was given in the adventurers’ honor. They were given the best rooms for free at the Hungry Halfling and treated to a grand meal. Aralic returned to his temple but said he would send a messenger for them in the morning. He took the unconscious members of the party with him to be healed. He said that between him and the local wise woman, they should be awake by morning.

The night passed uneventfully and in the morning they were met by a young villager. He said that Aralic was awaiting them and that he was serving breakfast at the temple. They quickly went across town to the shrine. Along the way, townspeople waved and smiled. A few approached to shake their hands and personally give thanks. Children waved and giggled, some pretending to be the heroes and proudly walking down the street with stick swords and fake slings.

The Stallanford temple was small and plain but was backed by a small orchard, a garden and a tidy cemetery. It was clearly Traladaran but villagers of Thyatian and Traladaran descent came to the doors and prayed outside. It was across the street from a small shrine for the three greatest Immortals of Traladara: Halav, Petra and Zirchev. The party sat in the garden under a large apple tree and ate a simple but delicious meal. The party members who had been unconscious for the trip home looked well rested and seemed to be recovering well. Aralic was smiling yet he seemed tired. He prayed and healed the other party members before he began his tale.

“I cannot thank you enough for saving my life and aiding my humble village. I fear that while I see myself as insignificant in the eyes of the great Immortals, my fellow townspeople hold me dear. Without knowing I was safe, they most likely would have cancelled the festival. The festival is the life’s blood of our town. As you can tell, nobles, clergy, merchants, farmers and others from near and far come for this event. If it is not held, the townspeople will not earn enough to buy supplies to maintain our town for the year.

“I believe that the Orcs must have awakened some ancient evil beyond that secret door. Why else would they be so organized and desperate to attack this town and really only kidnap me. They did demand that I heal their wounded but I refused saying my Immortals had not granted me spells to heal Orcs. Even after they beat me, I refused.” He shuttered thinking of his confinement in the tiny cell.

“You must return to the cave and find out what is beyond the secret door. If you do not, I fear it will escape and destroy Stallanford and the surrounding countryside.

“I know we cannot offer much. But, you will always have our gratitude. I also know that you recovered some items of value from the Orcs. None of them appear to be from the villagers and I would not ask they be returned in any case. You earned that treasure. However, there are few who could give you coin for those items. I offer to sell them to the visiting merchants who have come for the festival. They know me and will give me the best possible price.

The priest handed a small bone tube to Roderick. “We are of the same church. May the blessings inside aid you in your time of need. On the scrolls are written two copies of a curing spell. It may be cast directly from the parchment.”

“Also, I want you to have this gem. It is from my adventuring days which are many years past.” He handed a small leather bag to Valmont. “The gem inside is not worth much but it is enchanted. It shines as bright as a lantern for up to twenty feet yet gives off no heat or smoke. It never goes out so it must be stored in this bag when you don’t want light.”

The adventurers accepted the challenge and promised to get to the root of the problem. Having made final arrangements for Aralic to help sell the jewelry and keep other items safe, the party returned to the Hungry Halfling to rest until the next morning. It was decided that only Valmont, Cyllan, Teagan and Roderick would return to the caves. Leif and Azriei would remain behind to protect the town and lend Aralic a hand getting ready for the festival. Of course, since Leif was staying, so did Elanna. No one was sure if she was still charmed or had just developed real feelings for Leif. It was clear she remembered her days as part of the Iron Ring but seemed ashamed to talk about them.

At dawn, the adventurers walked quickly back to the cave and encountered no Orcs or other creatures besides birds. The cave mouth was quiet as were the halls inside. Everything and everyone was gone as if the Orcs had evacuated right after the party left. They ran into no resistance and quickly reached the Orc chieftain’s chambers. The secret door was still obvious to them. No sound came from the other side so they opened it and peered inside.

Carved stone steps led down quite some distance to the east. The air was damp and dank and the passage was unlit. Valmont held Aralic’s gem up high and Zyass had a lit torch. As they descended, they heard faint scrabblings, scurrying and a low moan in the distance. While there was no wind, they shivered in apprehension of the evil Aralic had felt!

They eventually reached the bottom of the stairs which ended in a roughly hewn cavern whose other side they could not see. The floor itself was dirt, more loosely packed then they expected. To the left, just barely visible in the dim light, they could make out an open doorway. Before venturing out onto the floor of this chamber, Cyllan checked for traps and while she did not find any, she did notice that the dirt looked almost tilled. Then, without warning, the ground beneath their feet rumbled. A ripple rolled through the dirt room like a wave then disappeared.

“It’s like the shrieking eels,” murmured Teagan. Everyone looked at her. “The shrieking eels but under the dirt like an ankheg.”

“How do we get past?” asked Roderick.

“Run!” The Elf set out quickly across the room to the left. The others paused for a beat then also ran across the dirt. Two shrieks erupted from the dirt and the ground shook again. Two rows furrowed towards the group but all were too quick. They sped to the open doorway that emerged out of the dim light and the group dove for it. They were off the loosely packed dirt and on more solid rock. There was still screeching behind them but they did not turn around.

They followed the pathway, feeling lucky to have avoided whatever that had been but nervous that they may have to face it again in order to get out of the caverns. After a twist to the right and about 10 minutes of slow walking and searching, the hallway widened into a full sized chamber.

The chamber looked like an ancient burial room. There were depressions carved into the stone floor, which had stone slabs laid atop them. Any marks or carvings that might have identified this place have been obscured with age. There were six tombs here, three each along the east, north and west walls.

A ledge ran around the room, about ten to twelve feet above the floor. Even angling their torchlight, they could not tell if anything lay up there so the Mystic and Priest decided to vault Cyllan to the ledge and then throw a torch to her (or perhaps the gem). Cyllan backed up to get a running start and Roderick crouched down with his shield at the ready. She began to run and as she stepped next to him, the unthinkable happened: he moved. She slammed in to him at full speed and sent him tumbling. She luckily executed a cartwheel out of her head over heels fall and landed in a graceful crouch. The others stifled laughs but Zyass helped the Cleric to his feet.

“What was that?” asked Zyass. “I’m sorry, I moved,” said Roderick. Zyass was turning away from the Priest and looking in the direction of the door through which they had come. “No that sound and . . . by Ilsundal’s eyes, what is that thing?!”

The group all turned to the door. Some had heard the “plop” when the creature had fallen from the ledge above but now all saw it as it sped towards them. It was a green and yellow centipede like beast, at least eight feet long. Even more distressing was the eight long tentacles that ringed and writhed about its small mouth.

Teagan, who was closest, gave a war cry, drew her sword and charged. Unfortunately, the thing was faster and several of its tentacles grabbed the Elf. She instantly went rigid, unable to move and the tentacles threw her body to the side. There was no time for sadness as it was now plowing into the center of the group. Cyllan, Roderick and Valmont all stepped back in unison and let fly with stones from their slings. Only Valmont’s did not find purchase (and he let out a mild curse under his breath).

Zyass now charged the worm and pierced its side with his sword but his blade was stuck for just a second too long. The tentacles whipped around his waist and knocked him off his feet. He too went rigid then lay still.

The remaining adventurers knew to stay away from those tentacles and jockeyed for position. All fired sling stones and again Valmont missed. However the stones from Cyllan and Roderick were true and they dispatched the vile monster. Roderick immediately rushed to check on their fallen companions. They were all alive but unable to move or speak. He and the Mystic dragged them to the side of the room, away from the doors and tried to make them comfortable while the paralysis lasted. Roderick then returned to the Mage who was trying to pry up the tomb lids.

They searched them all. There were no bodies, skeletons or treasure of any sort in the caskets! Investigating further, they discovered scratch marks on the slabs and little marks in the tombs which indicated that they had been opened recently. . . .

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