Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Story So Far IV

The Story Continues…
6th day, Silvangate the 20th, 1845

It was only some hours into the afternoon when the party came to the camp of the guards from Wychton. The guards fed them while the group told of their adventure. The guards were happy to hear that the goblinoid menace that was terrorizing the road north of Wychton had been vanquished. Then while Vanen rested and Eldan, Tursan, and the guards watched they began to divide the treasure that they had acquired in the dungeon beneath the black stone structure. After some squabbling it was determined that the coins should be divided equally between all the party members and the other items should go to those who would get the most benefit from them. Anything left over would be sold and the Feywine would be returned to Garam the innkeeper of the Wyvern’s Watch (the gems and other fine items would be kept until their value could be discovered). Martijn received the finely made bastard sword and steel breastplate. Gjord took the dwarf sized scale mail and a good steel shield.

Vanen stated that he needed to return to his mistress in Berengel as soon as possible as he had already been delayed by his capture. Svarnos asked the party if they could travel to Berengel with Vanen as he wished to obtain some new spells from him. It would take some days to copy the arcane texts and they needed a suitable place to do so. So, it was decided that the party would venture north to Berengel where they could rest as they waited for Svarnos. Martijn, with his fast warhorse, would ride to Wychton accompanied by the guards. There he would bring Garam the Feywine and sell some of the left over booty from the dungeon. He would leave Wychton early the next day and meet up with the party again the on the road to Berengel. The guards broke camp and the two groups parted.

Martijn made it to Wychton about two hours later. He rewarded the guards with gold and some of them went with him to the Wyvern’s Watch. Garam was worried that Martijn was the only surviving member of the party when he saw him come in without the others. Martijn told him all was well and that he had just come to bring the stolen Feywine back to him. Garam was overjoyed and ushered Martijn to a private room behind the bar and through the kitchen. There they shared a meal and ales while Martijn recounted the story of their adventures. Garam said that he would give the party 100 gp for returning the Feywine once the elf (a long time friend and past fellow adventurer of Garam) that requested it returned. He expected him within the next two weeks. Martijn was put up in a room that night by Garam and the following morning (the 21st) he sold the left over treasure and departed Wychton.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party traveled north by foot. The day was warm if a bit overcast as they trudged up the road. After about three hours of travel they noticed a peculiar looking burly warrior standing by the side of the road. He had a wild look to him with his thick red beard and outlandish attire (for some strange reason he was wearing a mauve scarf around his neck). They approached cautiously and Gjord even readied his weapon. Eldan hailed him and the stranger identified himself as Galifynakus the barbarian. He said he was seeking adventure and excitement and was hoping to find people that were looking for the same. Galifynakus told them that he was not sure how he got to where he was. Something happened involving a lot of ale and then he found himself wandering the wilderlands and living off the land. The party, without much consideration, asked if he wanted to join them and he did. Introductions were exchanged and off they went with the stout red headed fellow in tow. Eldan had his reservations and Lono kept his distance from the new comer. The adventurers traveled till darkness fell and made camp. They kept watch but the night was uneventful with only distant wolf howls occasionally being heard from the Broken Lands to the east.

7th day, Silvangate the 21st, 1845

The following morning they made their way to Berengel. Berengel is a large sturdy fortress made from huge slabs of rock cut from the crags of the Broken Lands. A small unwalled village surrounds it. They waited for Martijn before entering the village and he arrived an hour later. Martijn told them of what occurred in Wychton and they divided the money that he made from selling their extra treasure. They hoped to return to Wychton soon to claim their reward and possibly meet the elf that Garam spoke of. Tursan was pleased to see the knight again as he was always impressed by the knight of Elnarra. In a way he seemed to take on the role of a hired henchman for the knight and his party. Perhaps it was his way of repaying them for what they had done for him.

The party made its way into the small village and found an inn with a curious name – The Jaded Unicorn. It was a two-story timber structure with a connected stable. A sign above the inns main entrance depicted a surly looking unicorns head in profile. The party found some of the patrons to be a little rough around the edges but the proprietor (an bald wiry man) was friendly enough after they began to grease his palms with money. Eldan told the party that he must take his leave, as he was on a quest of his own when he was side tracked into hunting for them. He told them how he wanted to find some lore or possibly a map of the ruins of Riveon. He thought that maybe he could find such lore with the elves of Aveneth. He hoped to one-day purge Riveon of its evil and he asked if he could call upon the adventurers in the future to enlist their aid when he made the attempt. Lono was uncertain if he would be interested in such an endeavor but the rest of the party seemed keen to help Eldan. Eldan told them he would leave a message for them with Garam back in Wychton when he was ready and he left. They decided to stay at the inn a couple of days while Svarnos scribed his new spells. Svarnos paid for their accommodations as he felt it was his fault they had to stay at the inn anyway.

So Vanen and Svarnos took off to his mistress’s tower that was located a little further north of Berengel.Vanen took Svarnos to a soaring one hundred foot tall stone tower with a tapering conical peak made of some strange reddish metal. The tower was perched on the edge of the ravine that tumbles down to the river Arcas. There was a set of large oaken doors to enter the tower and before them was an imposing statue of an armored warrior holding a two handed sword. Fantastically, as they approached, the statue began to move with a sound of scraping stone. It got into a position as if was going to attack. Vanen called out announcing his name and business. The statue went back to its original vigilant pose and the oaken doors slowly opened behind it. The two wizards entered the tower and Svarnos asked Vanen if the statue was a magical golem, which he confided that it was. Inside, descending from a stair to the upper chambers was a striking elf woman with flowing black hair and wearing silken robes of blue and scarlet. Vanen bowed and Svarnos nodded to the mistress of the tower. She introduced herself as Aness and Vanen gave to her the metal scroll tube that he was to deliver. Svarnos asked about the scroll tube but the elf would reveal nothing. Vanen told Aness about Svarnos and his party and Aness listened with interest. Vanen also requested if Svarnos could use the study in the tower to scribe his spell book. Aness considered this and asked Svarnos if she could cast some spells upon him to find out his true nature and magical power. Svarnos was reluctant but he submitted, as he knew this was the only way he would be allowed in the tower. Aness was satisfied after casting her spells and gave her permission. So Svarnos spent the next couple days scribing his spells and spending his nights back at the inn with his fellows.

During this time the party also decided that they would return to the dungeon that were exploring as they remembered that they had unfinished business there. If the dairy that they found were any indication they feared that they would be facing the undead behind the black iron doors that they left behind. They thought that they may find the undead but also perhaps great treasures.

The days at the inn passed and the party was rested and healed.

4th day, Silvangate the 25th, 1845(evening)

On a night before the party left Berengel, Vanen and Aness visited the adventurers to see them off. Aness said she was impressed by the story Vanen told her about the groups’ escapades and she said that, if the party was willing, she might call upon them in the future, as she may need their assistance. The group said they would consider it and as a gift Aness gave the party a detailed map of Malavon rendered on fine parchment. The party spent some time with the two magic-users questioning Aness about what she knew of the ruins Riveon and of undead creatures. For they perceived that the elf was quite learned and that she might know something of these subjects. She gave them some information and said that she would look into the lore of Riveon. The two than said their farewells and left.

5th day, Silvangate the 26th, 1845

The party left Berengel and set out to return to the dungeon on this overcast cool day. They camped along the road at night.

6th day, Silvangate the 27th, 1845

In the evening the party found the remnants of the guards camp and knew this is where they would have to turn east into the Broken Lands. It was at this point that Martijn remembered that he would not be able to get his horse through the rough terrain. Tursan offered to take his horse to safety in Wychton and he promised that if anything happened to Martijn he would make sure that the horse was returned to the Order of the White Leopard. With this cheerful thought Tursan was given some coins and he took off for Wychton. The rest of the party turned once again into the Broken Lands.With Galifynakus’ direction sense they were able to find their way back to the black stone structure. There was no smoke rising from the rents in the roof and it seemed abandoned. They decided to rest the night before entering but first they sent Lono into the dungeon to see if anything was different. Fionnula called on Varcan’s power to cast Invisibility to Undead on him just in case. Lono descended into the dungeon but found that all was quiet in the entrance room and that the boulder blocking the door was undisturbed. He dared not go any further because even with his twilight vision he could not see into the darkness. So, the party camped within the walls of the black stone building (even though Fionnula felt uneasy) keeping watch under the leering carvings of the ghoulish creatures.

7th day, Silvangate the 28th, 1845

Our bold adventurers awoke and immediately after breakfast descended into the dungeon. Galifynakus and Gjord moved the boulder away from the iron doors and Gjord slipped the black iron key into the lock. It worked, the key opened the lock and they opened the doors. They doors gave a rusty creak as they were opened and the party could see a 15’ wide flight of stone steps covered in cobwebs and dust leading downward. They could see signs that the cobwebs were disturbed sometime in the recent past as there appeared to be a couple sets of vague footprints leading down into a room below but going no further.

The party lit at torch and went down with the warriors leading the way. Below was a large roughly oval room made of the same black stone as the structure above. There were some pillars holding up the roof and some that had collapsed with time. There were also three 11/2’ to 2’ holes on the sides of the room at varying heights from the floor. A faint red orange glow emanated from them. Gjord, with his dwarven darkvision, decided to go into the room to investigate. As soon as he did the party began to hear a loud clacking sound begin to fill the room and the light from the holes began to intensify. Gjord rushed back to the group at the entrance just as four terrifying large beetles began to descend from out of the holes. The beetles were about the size of a large dog, and each had three red glowing glands showing through their shells carapace, one on either side of their head and one at the back of their abdomen. The clacking noise the party heard was their mandibles snapping and the creatures looked hungry. The adventurers formed a line by the stairs and the beetles rushed to attack. Galifynakus, Gjord, and Martijn were ready for the assault. They quickly slaughtered the ravenous beasts and none of the warriors were even scathed. After the battle the room was searched but nothing other than dust and debris was found. Gjord remembered stories of the creatures that they fought from his childhood. Dwarven miners spoke of creatures called fire beetles. They were predatory beetles that bore through the earth and sometimes attacked miners and other underground dwellers. The glowing glands in their bodies were prized for they continued to glow for some days after being extracted from the carcass. They would illuminate a 10’ area and dwarves would use them when delving into new excavations to avoid igniting flammable underground gasses. The resourceful Gjord cut the glands from the fire beetles bodies and then took one the extra backpacks and fashioned a sort of net to hold the glowing glandular orbs and still let their light through. He then hung this on an unlit torch and the party now had a heatless reliable light source. The adventurers ventured forth with the eerily reddish light guiding their way.

The 15’ wide hall continued past the oval room and the party followed it. After 30’ the hall turned left and an iron door could be seen straight ahead at the turn. The party came up to the door and they suddenly felt the temperature drop significantly to a chilly degree. They wondered about this but could find no reason for the phenomena. To the left the hall continued 15’ to an opening into a chamber. The party noticed that there was a faint light coming from the chamber and they decided to leave the door and investigate. The chamber was a large rectangular room with sets of stone benches arranged like pews and a statue of a robed and cowled figure facing a black tattered curtain that covered the opposite wall from the entrance. A pale crimson light seemed to be coming from behind the curtain. Lono was sent to investigate. He slunk along the left hand wall and approached the curtain from that side and peered behind it. What he saw was astonishing. It was a framed landscape painting as large as the wall it was mounted on. It was a forest at night during the Cycle of the Blood Moon with twisted leafless trees reaching up into the sky and a graveyard on a hill a little in the distance could be seen as well. What was so strange about the painting was how realistic it was and after a moment Lono noticed that the moon was actually emitting real light and that the trees were swaying slightly in the wind. He made his way back to the group and told them what he saw. The whole party then began to search the room but they made sure that they avoided opening the curtain. They got a closer look at the statue and they noticed that the figure had its hands held up in a peculiar manner before the hood of the cowl. The cowl itself held no head and was completely hollow. The heroes considered what this could mean but decided that they would come back later after exploring other areas.

They returned to the iron door and found it unlocked. When the door was opened the party felt a slight breeze of some fresher air come from the open door. There was a 10’ wide stairway leading downwards and they could see it then became a passage that turned right after 35’. At the turn there was another iron door. They proceeded down and found that the turn in the passage led to another stair leading down to the right. They approached the iron door and found that it was locked. Lono was about to pick the lock when the party heard a snake-like hissing sound rise up from the stair to the right. They went to explore and they found a rectangular room with four pillars supporting the ceiling and bones littering the floor. All of a sudden three shapes appeared at an entrance at the far side of the room. They were bizarre creatures that seemed to creep out of a nightmare. They were large almost man sized snakes except instead of a serpentine head there was a cruel sharp beak surrounded by four writhing tentacles. The tentacles were sharp and barbed at the tips. The monsters sensed the party and slithered menacingly towards them. Using a tactic they employed before the heroes stayed at the entrance to the room with the warriors up front. Lono loosed a sling stone striking the center creature right above the beak. The monsters then attacked and the melee began. The creatures slashed at the fighters with their vicious tentacles attacking four times for every one or two blows dealt by their opponents. They were ferocious and all the warriors were wounded by their assault. Yet, our heroes counter attack was devastating. Martijn slashed through one monsters tentacles and into its head destroying it. Gjord bashed the beak of the one he faced to a bloody pulp and it fell. Galifynakus chopped the creature he fought almost completely in two with his greatsword. After the battle the room was searched and Lono found a secret compartment on one wall. It was a small niche and inside was a 9” diameter smoky quartz disc. It seemed cut and fashioned into this plate like shape. They took this item and Svarnos said he felt that this was a key of some sort. Lono wasn’t sure how he came to that conclusion but Svarnos said he just felt that it was. The niche slowly closed by itself after the disc was removed.

The group then made their way to the opening that the creatures came through. They found a room that was almost completely caved in but with a rough-hewn passage leading into it. They could feel a fresh wind coming from this passage and Lono and Galifynakus went forward to see where the passage led. It sloped sharply upward and was full of boulders and loose stones but it was easy to navigate. After a moment they saw daylight and they emerged from the passage into the outside. They were looking down at the black stone structure from the side of a rocky hill near the Ironstorm Mountains. They had found another exit out of the dungeon and the air and sunlight were refreshing after being in the dark and dusty halls below. They returned to tell the party what they found.

The party went back to the locked iron door and they tried keys that they found and none of them would fit. Svarnos tried to wave the crystal disc in front of the lock but nothing happened. So Lono took out his trusty thieves’ tools and opened the lock with no difficulty. Inside was a 10’ by 10’ sort of closet. Inside the party found what appeared to be ceremonial items. 5 moldy black robes, 4 short candles, and two ornate daggers made of silver with hematite decorations in the handles. They took the daggers and the candles.

Gjord felt that the party may have missed something along the way and suggested that they go back and search some of the places they explored before. So, they began to search the halls that they walked through. At the corner that led to the room with the curtain, where they first felt the chill, Fionnula made a startling discovery. As she searched the wall opposite the passage to the room with the curtain her hands suddenly went through the wall as if it wasn’t there! She pulled back quickly and the she said that she had found a magic illusionary wall. Galifynakus and Gjord came up then and stuck their heads into the insubstantial wall to find out what was behind it. They were looking into a mist filled hallway and at the far end they could see a dark shadowy figure with its back to them. The figure slowly turned revealing angry red eyes and shadowy wings began to emerge from its back. The thing began to lumber towards them. They pulled back and Gjord shouted for everyone to go down the hall and prepare for battle. They did so, and waited. Nothing emerged from the wall. Fionnula stepped forward and said if it was an undead creature she should handle it. She stuck her head through the wall and saw what had terrified the two warriors. It was again at the end of the hall, and it slowly turned and approached her. It came closer and closer but she did not waver and as it was about to reach her she held forth Varcan’s Cross and invoked his name. Suddenly she noticed the shadow thing was at the end of the hall again and it began to move much in the same manner as it had before. She knew now that this was an illusion as well and she let her compatriots know it too. So, they all went through the wall of illusion and Martijn thought that the image looked very false indeed and did not know how they all fell for it.

At the end of the hall with the illusion was another iron door that was locked and Lono was unable to pick it and none of their keys or anything else would open it. They decided to go back to searching the other rooms and they left the hall with the illusions. They searched everywhere and Lono even climbed up and checked the holes from which the fire beetles had crawled. Nothing was found. The heroes felt that their only option was to return to the strange room with the curtain and the statue. Perhaps there, more secrets to this mysterious dungeon would be revealed.

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