HEROES OF IMPILTUR

Level 20
The Battle for Impiltur

Summary: The heroes fight to save the nation of Impiltur from the invasion of the Warlock Knights of Vaasa.
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Takes place 30th of Marpenoth (Leaffall) in the year 1479DR (The Year of the Ageless One)

Once again, the heroes find themselves inside of the astral corridor. After a quick inventory they realize that all of their usual companions are accounted for. There is no sign of their new allies from the World of Erda. Unlike their previous trips, they are moving extremely slowly through the tunnel. The air feels very thick like they are swimming through molasses (or maybe blood?). The prismatic lights that form the walls of the passage are barely swirling. The heroes can actually make out bands of individual shades of color. As they gaze into the colors they realize that they can see their past adventures from the various-hued worlds playing out. They gradually begin accelerating forward. As they do so the tinted lights start spinning and blurring together. Images of the events that took place for the heroes on the World of Erda are displayed on the walls around them. They also see the exploits of the Erda heroes on their own world. As they see the replay of both teams stepping through the portals that began their crossover journey, their momentum forward suddenly stops. They feel resistance ahead as if they have run into a wall. Behind them they feel pressure building as if they are caught in the flow of a great river that is gaining in strength as each moment passes. Suddenly they explode forward in a rush of speed and color greater than any of their previous trips through the Astral Nexus. Their senses are overcome and each and every one of the heroes momentarily blacks out. When they awaken they are dimly aware that they are still inside of the astral corridor. In a dream-like sensation the heroes see images of key events from the previous year and their war with Vaasa

The Tale of Barkus
TOB1.jpg In the winter of 1478DR, thanks to the actions of the heroes, the threats from Firefly Swamp were ended and the armies of Impiltur were able to maintain the stalemate at the Icehilt River. The Vaasan army was bottled up until the spring. When the snows did melt and the mountain passes opened again, Vaasa would finally be able to move up reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders. Impiltur was still weak from its own civil war and needed allies to help fight off the Vaasan war machine or she would surely fall. Word was sent out far and wide across the Sea of Fallen Stars pleading for assistance. Out of gratitude for the past rescue of their own city by the heroes of Impiltur, the people of New Breen were the first to answer the call by sending what men and materials they could spare. The Moon Elves brokered deals with their sympathetic cousins the sea elves of Myth Nantar. Barkus was personally dispatched with Alkorahil as his diplomatic envoy to the nation of Thesk to seek assistance from the people there. Thesk, nicknamed the Gateway to the East, is where the fabled Golden Way trade route between Faerun and Kara-Tur began. During his journey of self-discovery, Barkus had spent a lot of his time in Thesk as was friends with an important merchant there. The first thing that Barkus did after arriving in Thesk was to reach out to his old friend and mentor, Chobei to get the lay of the land. Chobei informed the heroes that while the capital city of Telflamm was in theory governed by a ruling Merchants’ Council, in actuality all decisions of importance were directed by a clandestine group of criminals knowns as the Shadowmasters. Chobei, himself an influential merchant was able to get the heroes an audience with the Council in a few days. Barkus decided to hit the streets and see what else he could find out about the Shadowmasters that could possibly aid their cause. After spreading some coin around to some shady characters he found out that the current leader of the organization was a man known as the Obsidian Owl. Apparently this man was also in poor health which was already causing some infighting amongst the group because there was no clear successor to take his place if he were to die. Barkus decides to undertake a personal mission to assassinate the Obsidian Owl knowing that if this evil man were to die that the confusion it would cause in the Shadowmasters’ leadership would free the Merchants’ Council to make up their own minds regarding giving aid to Impiltur. The Obsidian Owl lived in a sprawling, luxurious keep located inside of the city and no doubt paid for by his ill-gotten gains. It was easy enough for Barkus to find and slip aboard a cargo-wagon bound to deliver goods to the keep. Disguised as a cargo-worker he observed the guards’ patterns and when they were distracted he was able to sneak past them. Using his ninja skills he stealthily vaulted up the compound walls and then crept unnoticed into the Owl’s domicile. Calling upon his training, Barkus silently balanced himself in a precarious position high in the rafters high above the villain. He then lowered a string into position above the Obsidian Owl’s mouth and used it to drip a deadly poison into the man. Sure that the job was done he quietly made his escape. The next day Alkorahil pleaded Impiltur’s case to the Council. Knowing his history he gently reminded the merchants that their council was in in fact founded by a prince of the noble Balindre house of Impiltur. Just after his opening statements, a black-clad messenger arrived and whispered something into the council-leader’s ear. Alkorahil smiled inwardly knowing that word of the Shadowmaster leader’s death was just now reaching his merchants. With this opening and knowing that the merchants were no freed up to make their own decisions he pressed his argument home. Alkorahil concluded with a masterful speech full of both rousing passion but also laced with the logic that if Impiltur fell that the Warlock Knights would also have an avenue of attack to begin raiding all nations on the Sea of Fallen Stars including Thesk itself. The Merchant’s Council agreed and began shipping much needed supplies to their new allies in Impiltur.
The Tale of Bahardim
aboleth__2_.jpg With Impiltur and Moonsea under assault by the new expansionist policies of Vaasa, the fledgling nation of Vesperin realized that it would be next in line to be attacked. The people of Vesperin formed an alliance with Impiltur and declared war on Vaasa. Separated from Impiltur by the impassible Earthspur and Earthfast Mountains, the problem became how to quickly transfer resources to Impiltur without having to sail them around the Sea of Fallen Stars. Bahardim discovered that long ago a large tunnel beneath the mountains had existed between Clan Stonerender and Vesperin. During the time of Clan Loroth the tunnel had been collapsed. Bahardim set his people to the task of clearing the tunnel but they found something dangerous buried in the deep dark of the caves. Bahardim and the visiting Madrakkar were taking some time off from trying to decipher Bitriarch’s Journal by inspecting the progress of the construction when a distressed group of dwarves came running back down the tunnel towards them. “Chief we found somethin” a broad-shouldered miner by the name of Hilgur said. “I was right in midswing with me hammer when ol’ Balin says it looks like this here part’o the tunnel was sealed on purpose. Well you knows me. I never miss me mark when I starts swinging me hammer chief, and it was too late to stop. So it bursts through the rock and sure enou’ that was just a wall there instaed’o a bunch of debris. Then we starts seeing runes’o warning lying aboot and thinks we better come let ye take a look." The heroes investigated and confirmed the miners’ story. A short ways beyond the seal they discovered a small underground lake containing a strange aquatic creature. The hulking creature resembled a giant catfish. Bahardim recognized it once from dark legends of his clans’ past as an Aboleth; evil creatures lurking in deep underground catacombs which use their powerful psychic abilities to enslave and devour all that cross their path. This specimen was laying partially-submerged on one of the far banks of the lake and appeared to be in some sort of inactive, hibernation state. Bahardim scratched his beard and thought on the problem. The dwarves were already pressed for time to get the tunnel completed and going around the beast would take too long. Plus his people might still be in danger if the creature woke up on its own. He would have to slay it. However he recalled his long voyage over the Sea of Fallen Stars and the fear of the sailors that that he had travelled with they might encounter the floating city of Xxiphu which was supposed to be full of these creatures. Could the psychic death cries of the aboleth be heard from its brethren over that distance? If so the people of Impiltur would have krakens and even more dreadful creatures of the deep coming around looking for trouble from now til Midwinter. No. He’d have to kill the aboleth but be careful going about it. He discussed the problem with Madrakkar and they came up with a plan. The surrounding caves were full of copper and garnets that Madrakkar could use as a focus to cast a massive ritual that would slowly boil away the water in the small lake. If he did this slowly enough then this would dehydrate and weaken the aboleth without waking it. Meanwhile while under the cover of the steam created from the evaporating water, Bahardim crept around the perimeter of the cavern carving mindshell runes into the rock that were intended to block any psychic messages from leaving the area. The stout dwarf runepriest mopped his face with his beard and struggled to concentrate on creating a seamless network of runes around the aboleth. Gods it was hot! He felt like a hunk of roast in a stewpot. Finally when his work was complete he strode up to the vile beast and brained it with his legendary hammer, Golden Perfection. The aboleth let out an impossibly loud psychic scream of pain then shuddered and lay dead. Blood ran from Bahardim’s ears and nose as he stood temporarily stunned by the blast. He could hear Childa calling on his magical sending stone asking if he was alright. She had heard the aboleth’s psychic death cry. Damn the mist! That meant there had been a flaw in his hastily scrawled runes. Later the dwarves completed the tunnel to Vesperin allowing Impiltur to receive badly needed supplies from her ally. However, several ships also bound with supplies for Impiltur went missing in the Sea of Fallen Stars in the months to come and Bahardim was afraid that he knew the reason why.
The Tale of Alkorahil
TOA1.png In the spring of 1479DR the incoming resources from Impiltur’s allies were abruptly cut off by the addition of the pirate Drallor Blacktide to the ranks of the Ironfell Council. Drallor was one of the more successful pirate captains that plied his bloody trade based out of Pirate Isle on the Sea of Fallen Stars. Recognizing the opportunity for profit he placed his fleet at the command of Vaasa in exchange for a seat on the Council and a share of the bounty. The surprise raids by his pirates intercepted badly needed supplies being shipped to Impiltur. Given seed money by the Vaasans, he bribed other pirates into his service and shortly thereafter his armada of pirate ships defeated the modest navy of Impiltur and her allies. His fleet continued to raid the Impilturan naval trading lanes and set up blockades around her coastal cities. Meanwhile, Vaasa had managed to break the stalemate at the Icehilt River. Lacking the armies to meet their enemy in the open field, the forces of Impiltur were forced to fight a series of skirmishes. These served to slow the enemy down, but inexorably the Vaasan army pushed forward until the last bastions of Impiltur’s defenses were forced to retreat to Lyrabar, New Sarshel, and Gray Haven. The gateways opened by the Star Sextant offered some relief to transfer supplies to the besieged cities but there were many nights where Alkorahil saw Patono hanging his head in frustration when the stars were not in the correct alignment to open the much-needed portals. A secret trade-route had been opened between Vesperin and Impiltur but the ships travelling to Vesperin were being raided also. Taking it upon himself to find a solution, Alkorahil looks over the intelligence reports on Drallor Blacktide to see if he can find a weakness to exploit. Looking over the data, Alkorahil comes to the fantastic revelation that Drallor has never met the Vindicator of Necromancy – Gazreld Nyt. Gazreld was on assignment in the field when Drallor joined the council and never returned to Telos City before Drallor departed to rejoin his fleet. Alkorahil hatches a brilliant but daring scheme to try and impersonate Gazreld Nyt in order to convince Drallor to move his fleet. He knows that getting Drallor to withdraw entirely won’t work but maybe he can convince the pirate captain to tighten his blockades on the cities which would therefore open up the trading lanes. Sharing his plan with Smoke he gets the spymaster to get a reliable report of what the necromancer looks like. The pair is even more encouraged when they find out that the fiend keeps 3/4 of his face concealed by an iron mask. They commission an armorer to duplicate the mask. For the first time since being cursed with undeath, Alkorahil is glad of the condition as it helps him more reliably impersonate the Vindicator. Smoke uses his talent for disguise to make sure Alkorahil’s look is perfect before sneaking aboard Drallor’s flagship. Knowing the importance of selling a false identity, the spymaster spends some time aboard the ship that evening setting up some props that will aid Alkorahil’s subterfuge. Then at the appointed time at midnight he triggers the winches to haul the ship’s anchor. Meanwhile, not needing to breathe, Alkorahil has walked along the ocean bottom and is waiting on the anchor. He rises up like a wraith out of the ocean and startles the pirate crew that is frantically trying to figure out what is going on. As he nimbly steps onboard, in an ominous voice he tells them that he is the necromancer Gazreld Nyt and demands to speak to their captain. The chill in Alkorahil’s voice combined with his frightening appearance is enough to give the crew pause before attacking him outright. A few minutes later, Drallor Blacktide arrives and tells his men to keelhaul their uninvited intruder. The pirates’ courage seems to return with the command of their captain and the bluff seems like it might fail. However Alkorahil’s performance is flawless as he proclaims, “I am Gazreld Nyt – Vindicator of the Ironfell Council, student of the Witch-king Zhengyi, and any that touch me will meet the same painful death such as these.” Even as he proclaims these words he secretly cuts a rope which causes one of the sails to unfurl. Hidden in the sail are the bodies of five pirates that Smoke poisoned earlier and attached to the rigging. At the gruesome sight of their companions hanging dead, the pirates falter and Drallor concedes, “Alright. Ye convinced me of yer identity. What ye be wanting?” Alkorahil verbally spars with Drallor for a minute before coming the realization that the man really is only motivated by his own greed. Alkorahil asks Drallor to move his ships closer to port and in exchange when the cities fall he will give him his (Gazreld’s) entire share of the spoils. Drallor is suspicious of the deal at first but Alkorahil tells him that, “his only interest is in the souls of the dead. Gold is a thing for the living. Also who cares if a few ships sneak by in the trading routes and make it in to Impiltur with supplies? That just means more spoils to raid when the cities do fall. Drallor only needs to keep ships from leaving port with his blockade.” The pirate captain agrees to the deal tries to shake on it but Alkorahil looks at his hand disdainfully and Drallor quickly snatches it away. Proclaiming, “The oath is struck. No not double-cross me or you will suffer an unending death.” Alkorahil triggers a smoke bomb left on the ground by Smoke and under the cover of its darkness dives back into the water – seemingly disappearing from the ship. Thanks to Alkorahil’s plan, Drallor makes good on his promise; tightening his blockades on the cities and thus opening up the trade lanes so that critical supplies can make it through to the back-channel in Vesperin and then onward into Impiltur.
The Tale of Madrakkar
colorlessFire.gif Frustrated by defeat after defeat of the Impilturan army at the hands of the Warlock Knights as well as the inability to translate Bitriarch’s Journal for references to this “ultimate weapon”, Madrakkar decides to use his superior intellect to come up with an ultimate weapon of his own. His research leads him to learn about apocalypse spells. These living, adaptive spells are known to survive for millennia after they are first created and supposedly are capable of slaying gods and destroying entire empires. After more late nights of research, Madrakkar learns of one such apocalypse spell known as the Herald of Colorless Fire. Legends tell of a colossal war that ended with the annihilation of an empire. After a long struggle, one faction used a mighty ritual infused with divine power to rain colorless fire down on its enemies. It turned their entire civilization into a sea of ash and dust. The downpour eventually ended, but the power remained in the motes of ash and dust. After long and exhausting research, Madrakkar finally learns the name of this empire is Raurin. Once the center of the ancient Imaskar Empire, today Raurin is a wasteland of sand and dust. Madrakkar experiments to see if he can come up with the proper spells to summon a mote of colorless fire as well as devise a container capable of containing the entity. After months of painstaking preparation he uses the Start Sextant to teleport to Raurin. He asks Tsol to come along with him as the minotaur’s resistance to fire and strength will be most beneficial. Together the two brave the dangers of wastes for nearly a week before they find some gleaming salt flats which look like an ideal place to set up the summoning. With sweat pouring down his face, Madrakkar summons all of his anger towards the Warlock Knights, combined with what pieces of the apocalypse spell that he could find, and his considerable mastery of pyromancy. Amazingly the spell works and he manages to summon a herald of colorless fire. The mote looks like a swirling, fist-sized ball of clear fire. Madrakkar can sense a malign intelligence lurking within the fire and for a brief instant the flames form the shape of a skull. The flame seems like it considers attacking him but Madrakkar tells it, “You can kill me now, but come with me and I will give you the chance to burn an entire empire.” Whispering words of destruction he coaxes the herald into a sphere of angelsteel that he has constructed with spells to contain it. Tsol is holding the sphere and even through his heat resistance he feels the incredible heat emanating from the colorless fire. When the herald enters the sphere, Tsol whispers words of prayer to his god infusing the angelsteel with holy power. Then using his incredible strength the minotaur bends the sphere shut. Madrakkar then uses his incantations to seal the herald away in the sphere behind layers upon layers of powerfully constructed spells and wards. A special flaw in the network of spells allows him to cast “steel to glass” on the sphere which will render it breakable as glass. When cracked open the herald will be released. Madrakkar realizes that a single mote of colorless fire will not be powerful enough to destroy the entire Vassan Empire but it certainly will be very destructive and he waits for the most opportune time to use it against his enemies.
The Tale of Tsol
redminotaurs.jpg Tsol spends the winter adjusting to life as Chieftain over clan Reven. There is must injustice that was meted out during his uncle’s reign of terror and Tsol spends long hours with his trusted advisors trying to put things right. He is saddened to learn that out of the five original minotaur clans that formed his people, only Clan Reven and Clan Ronnoc remain. Tsol finds out that Clan Ronnoc also mockingly known as the “horn-heads” or “hard-heads” continue to make their make their home in the highlands of the mountains. Wild and unruly, Clan Ronnoc never fully submitted to peace with the other clans even during the time of Targore. During the spring Tsol makes sure that word gets out that he would like to meet with them now that he is now in charge of Clan Reven and has assembled all of Targore’s artifacts. Eventually word comes down that the horn-heads are on the move and heading towards Targore’s village. Targore instructs his people to welcome the proud warriors with the respect due to long-parted brothers. A great feast is laid out with much mead. Eventually tensions begin to ease as stories are swapped and several good-natured contests of strength are held. After initial introductions, Rollo, the leader of Clan Ronnoc remains aloof while seated in a place of honor opposite of Tsol atop a small plateau. Kriv, who happened to be visiting with Tsol so that he could try to track down some flying beasts in the mountains for his air force, is also at the festivities. Rollo speaks to one of his men and the massive minotaur named Nash throws a spear clear across the revelries which lands a few inches in front of Kriv’s feet. The chatter quickly hushes and Nash says to Kriv, “One of the revered legends of our people tells of a great chariot fight where our ancestor aided the plainsman…” Kriv finishes the sentence, “Dogun,” knowing full well the legend having experienced it firsthand while immersed in the vision at the Hall of Heroes. “It is good that you know our legend,” says Nash. “You also know that a Chieftain is only as good as the people willing to stand beside him” he says while looking pointedly at Tsol. Nash challenges Kriv to a chariot fight with blunt spears and the Dragonborn gladly accepts. A large, mountain horse and chariot are brought before Kriv and the Ranger can tell that the horse is mostly untamed and nervous. Using his natural affinity for animals, Kriv calms the animal and hitches him to the chariot. The contestants make several passes at each other and Kriv can tell that his opponent is most skilled. No stranger to spear combat himself, on the fourth pass, Kriv bats his challenger’s spear aside then jams it into the spokes of Nash’s chariot, flipping the device and sending his opponent tumbling dramatically through the air to the cheers of the crowd. Rollo then stands, grabs his axe, and menacingly starts stalking towards Tsol. Tsol does likewise. Rollo says, “I bear no evil and be unafraid. Give me the kiss of your axe of you dare!” Recognizing the ritual words, Tsol unleashes a clean and controlled strike right at Bollo’s neck knowing that his axe cannot take the blood of someone pure of heart. Bollo lowers his guard at the last second. Targore’s axe passes like a phantom blade through him and both minotaurs briefly smile at the passing of the test. At the same time they both toss their axes aside. “King of the Mountain,” says Rollo. “No weapons. No allies. Strongest wins.” The two minotaurs then hurl themselves at one another like a clap of thunder. Bollo is as strong and fierce as any opponent that Tsol has ever faced and slowly but surely he is pushed backwards to the brink of the plateau. Reaching down deep inside, Tsol summons the unrelenting resolve he has used to overcome all of the challenges his hard life has thrown at him. He flat out refuses to lose and pushes Rollo clear back to the other side of the mesa, one grinding step at a time. Tsol sees astonishment in the eyes of his worthy challenger as he throws him off the hill to the roar of the crowd. Bollo dusts himself off and climbs right back up the hill to look Tsol in the eye. Then he drops to one knee and says, “My Chieftain.” The rest of Clan Ronnoc follows suit.
The Tale of Kriv
fantasy-series-butterfly-fairy-31000.gif Kris, the caterpillar given to Kriv by Hucan the Saffron Son, continued to grow at an amazing rate. Kriv soon discovered that the creature was all but blind during the light of day. However the caterpillar hunted amazingly well at night by light differentiation. Fireflies, beetle carapaces glistening in the moonlight – anything that shed light Kris was able to hunt in the night. Kriv even played games with the caterpillar by shining the light from a bulls-eye lantern around and having Kris try to catch it. Soon the ranger had formed a strong bond with his new companion. By the summer, Kris was as long and thick as the dragonborn’s arm. Then one day Kriv arrived to see that the caterpillar had surrounded himself with a luminous-colored cocoon. A few months later the cocoon hatched and Kris emerged as a Nightmoth. Dark grey, the size of a great eagle with a six foot wide wingspan, and boasting six spear-like legs, Kris’ new form was fearsome indeed. The Nightmoth continued to still
hunt by light differentiation and bear Kriv great affection though. He hunted birds and small game by the light of the glowing celestial trees in the Gray Forest. Kriv started becoming concerned however when he soon noticed his charge becoming more aggressive and restless with each passing night. The one night Kriv observed the Nightmoth fly high above the trees and begin flying away from the forest. He ran back to his trusty Griffon, Peter and began mounting up to follow Kris. Bahardim who was visiting Gray Haven from his clan saw Kriv preparing to leave in a rush and insisted on joining him if he was planning on leaving the safety of the forest. As they tried to catch up to the Nightmoth’s trail, Kriv pondered what could have prompted his pet to leave. “I’m a ranger and no novice in the ways of birds and bees” he thought. “Why can’t I figure this out?” Then it hit him. Birds and bees. His Nightmoth was in heat and was out looking for a mate. A short ways away from the forest the heroes caught site of Kris just as he was burrowing into an opening through a cairn built atop a tall hill. “Oh no, I recognize that hill”, said Bahardim. “That’s the Hill of Tombs, resting place of the ancient men of old. They took grave robbing very seriously.” The pair landed and Kriv leapt into the hole in the cairn after his animal companion. Peter screeched in frustration as the hole was too small for him to follow. Bahardim noted that there were runes carved onto the cairn and began to attempt to translate them. Meanwhile, down below in a large burial chamber beneath the cairn, Kriv found Kris and also another Nightmoth – a female that had somehow attracted him the dragonborn ranger surmised. However, disturbing the tomb had activated its defenses and undead skeletons had begun to arise to attack the living. Kriv valiantly fought them off while simultaneously also trying to herd the alarmed Nightmoths away from the danger. "Need a little help in here!” he bellowed up to Bahardim. Bahardim had managed to translate the ancient runes and realized that some of them were a list of titles (King, Brother, Lady, etc…) while others were a list of virtues (Bravery, Hope, Strength, etc…). “Now what god did these ancient men worship” the runepriest tried to remember. “Ah. Got it. Gilgeam, Father of Victory.” He touched the appropriate runes and down below the skeletons ceased their attacks to return to their eternal slumber. “About time”, Kriv grumbled. He then used his ranger skills to coax the Nightmoths back to a state of calm and left them to their “date”. Later that year, a clutch of hundreds of caterpillars was born. The forest was unable to sustain such a large number so Kriv used the Star Sextant to relocate them to a suitable cave system deep within the underdark with plenty of food for them to hunt. Kriv visited them from time to time to bring them a few treats and watch them grow into a large colony of thriving Nightmoths, all of which adored him.
The Tale of Smoke
taleSmoke.png During the early winter of 1479DR, Smoke gets word through his network of spies and informants that a group of some of the Luminaries assigned to keeping Telos in his comatose state are taking a sabbatical to the city of Mulmaster in the nation of Moonsea. The message says that the Luminaries are reportedly there to travel to the House of the Black Lord (Bane’s temple) to renew their vows. The informant thinks that he has identified a likely candidate to try and turn away from Bane’s allegiance. Smoke takes Barkus with him as backup and uses the Start Sextant to travel to Mulmaster. They arrive at the spy’s residence only to find the man recently murdered and realize that they have walked into a trap. From outside the domicile they spot several men creeping up on them with the skill of trained assassins. Smoke recognizes the leader of these men – none other than Ang-Rantiss himself, Vindicator of Spies for the Ironfell Council. Thinking quickly, Smoke kicks away one of the legs of the kitchen table to find it hollow with a note secreted inside – one of the standard hiding places that he has trained his spies to use. Scanning the note rapidly he sees that it has all of the information that he still needs to catch up with his mark. The heroes look at each other and at the same time reach the same decision. “We need to split up.” Barkus offers to draw off the pursuit while Smoke tries to catch up to the target. Both heroes spring into action away from the residence. Barkus makes it look like he has injured his leg leaping out of the window and the assassins converge on the easier prey allowing Smoke to slip away. Barkus has to push his acrobatic and stealth skills to the limit to stay ahead of Ang-Rantiss and his men. He leads them on a high-speed chase through the docks of Mulmaster before he finally slips away from his predators. Meanwhile Smoke scans the crowd looking for the Luminary described in the message – a young man by the name of Yorin. He finally spies the man walking into the House of the Black Lord with a troubled look upon his face. Using his mastery of disguise, Smoke infiltrates the temple. He sees Yorin making his way towards the high priest’s confessional box but the man is intercepted and greeted by some other members of the clergy. Summoning all of his stealth, Smoke sneaks up to the confessional booth unnoticed and uses his thieves’ tools to pick the lock and enter. When Yorin enters the booth, Smoke plays the part of the high priest but instead of reinforcing Yorin’s beliefs, he twists the man’s doubts even further. “Why do you continue to serve a god whose tenants are dominion and control over others when you yourself must remain a slave to that god?” Poking his head out, Smoke sees the real high priest approaching and knows he must slip away. Before he does so he gives Yorin a method of getting in contact with him should the man ever want to “break the cycle of conquest and tyranny.” In the months to come, Yorin becomes one of Smoke’s agents and confirms what the heroes already suspected from their previous visit to Vaasa – that the Luminaries (who are really priests of Bane) must perform a ritual each day at sundown to keep the Primordial Telos is a comatose state so that the Warlock Knights can continue to steal his power.

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The Crossover
The World of Erda Crossover

Summary: The heroes are transported to the World of Erda and team up with the heroes of that world to stop the rogue god Middim from escaping his prison.
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Takes place Redfall 30th of the year 480 of the Fourth Age (by Erda reckoning)

Instead of finding themselves transported back to the Gray Forest, the heroes find themselves standing on a well-traveled, leaf-covered, dirt path in the middle of an unfamiliar forest. They try to contact Childa or the Moon Elves using the sending stone but there is no answer. Looking upward through the hardwood trees, sparsely populated with the multi-colored leaves of late autumn, the adventurers find a solar eclipse blotting out the noon sun. The party spots a group of figures walking towards them on the road. The figures all appear to be knights. They are dressed in fine plate armor and wear shields with matching emblems that none of the adventurers have ever seen before.
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The knights have their weapons drawn and walk towards the part with grim purpose. As the knights approach, the party overhears them having the following conversation:
Young Knight: "The destroyer looks nothing like I expected. Are we sure we are in the right place?”
Gruff Knight: “Bah! (pointing up at the sky) that’s his sign up there in the sky innit?” “We were told he can take many faces. Whoever said he can’t take more than one at a time. (spits)”
Young Knight: (pointing at the human-looking party members) "I just didn’t expect it to look so human.”
Gruff Knight: (pointing at non-human party members) "You call that human-looking?”
Knight Leader: “Silence bothers. We must have faith. Believe nothing that the trickster says and strike him down without mercy. Our world depends on it.”
With that being said, the knights attack the heroes. The knights steadfastly refuse to listen to any attempts from the party to sue for peace. When Madrakkar hits the knights with his magic this seems to rile them up even further. The leader says to his knights (pointing at Tsol who is blocking their way) “kill the bestial aspect of the trickster then kill the face that has taken the form of a heretic mage.” Smoke puts a crossbow bolt into the chest of one of the knights – a shot that he is sure should have killed him. Instead the knight keeps on fighting and the entire group yells, “All for one and one for all.” The party notices that several other knights keep on fighting after they have received what should have been mortal blows. Whenever this happens all of the fellows knights look pained though. The knight that Smoke shot, charges him with the battle cry “For Edledhas!!” Smoke counters, “You guys like to share pain, share this!” and shoots the knight in the face which causes the entire group to grimace in pain. Despite the knight’s conviction, the heroes of Impiltur are the better fighters. Finally, Alkorahil fires off a burst of flame from Dark Phoenix which catches most of knights in its blast. The shared pain combined with their previous wounds is too much for them and the entire unit falls over dead. With his last gasp the leader says, “We have failed…”

The adventurers search the bodies of the knights to see if they can find any clue about who their attackers were or where they are. In the knight’s possession they find each of them carries many newly minted gold coins. One side of the coin bears the image of a religious figure with the caption, “Exarch Alexius XI.” The other side pictures a city with several domed cathedrals and says, “Calbut”. The adventurers are all well-travelled but none of them have ever seen these types of coins before. The party takes a short rest to regain their strength and get their bearings. Several of the nature-attuned members of the party note that the forest than they are in is very old and has likely been around for a long time. Now that it is quiet they also hear the sounds of running water nearby.

Kriv and Peter do a quick aerial reconnaissance of the area and find that the running water belongs to a nearby river that cuts through the forest up ahead. On the other side are of the river are some high cliffs. Some type of building with spires and large double doors is carved into the side of the cliff. Nothing else of interest is in the area.
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The party decides to investigate the structure. As the adventurers follow the path towards the building, the ground becomes more rocky and the forest becomes more sparse until they both abruptly end at the river. On the other side, the party can see stairs cut into the stone cliff that lead up from the river to the doors. There are no signs of activity. The adventurers wade across the river and gain entrance to the building through the large double doors which are not locked. The floors and walls are covered with dust and cobwebs. The heroes do spot a set of tracks that lead up to the double-doors then turn around and head back the other way. The party moves through the short hallway to the next room and finds themselves in a large domed foyer. It appears as the party takes a look around that no one has been here for quite some time. Looking up above them they see on the ceiling of the great dome that there is an old painted mural of eleven figures standing in triumph together that seem to be tied together with a rope or banner. On the mural above and below these eleven figures are strange looking astronomical symbols.
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Ringing the room are many more murals that seem to go into greater detail about the figures painted on dome. Examining the figures painted on the second set of murals the party sees some of the following details:

  • A dark figure with a banner behind him and holding a large spear. Light is coming out from the hood and sleeves of his clothes. He appears to be battling an old woman that looks like a powerful magic user.
  • A halfling moving seemingly unobserved through a group of finely dressed people. Off to the side of the well-dressed people are some ragged looking, possibly poor people that seem to be pointing and laughing.
  • A bulky human-like armored machine with deep red eyes looking somewhat upwards. A beam of energy or possibly light seems to emanate from his chest.
  • A male dwarf with several bubbles circling around his head. There are runes inside the bubbles. Over his shoulder he is holding a large hammer.
  • A human warrior making a powerful swing attack with a large axe. In the background behind him is a shadow with claws.
  • A human dressed in fine looking polished armor, holding up a sword high in the air that seems to give off light and fire. Behind him in the mural are other similar looking warriors though their faces are obscured.
  • A human mage or sorcerer with an arcane looking aura around him wielding a powerful wand doing battle with a large fire breathing Red Dragon.

While the heroes are examining the murals, they are approached by a human woman coming from a hallway opposite of the one that they came from. The woman is dressed in flowing purple robes and a horned masquerade mask. She carries a spear with an intricate tip that seems to be composed solely of shadowy energy. Following her are human sized statues that look like the figures from the murals except that the nearly life-like statues have blank, incomplete faces on them. The woman looks enraged, shouts at the heroes, “Who has my spear. Did you take it?”, and attacks.
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The adventurers have no choice but to defend themselves from the vicious assault launched at them by the mad-woman and her minions. The statues use special attacks comparable to the figures from the murals that they are carved to represent (except for one of the statues which seems intent on doing damage to itself by ramming into a wall). The woman teleports randomly around the room and unleashes destructive fireballs of black flame at the heroes. She also conjures walls of phantom spears that impede the party’s movement and cause very real damage when touched. The insane prophet also occasionally commands one of the heroes to “Worship me” which temporarily causes that person to worship her as his goddess and try to slay the other heroes for daring to attack his idol. Madrakkar finds that the woman is emanating a field of overpowering wild magic and chaos of the like which he has never encountered or even heard of before outside of the Spellplague. All but his most powerful spells cause random effects when cast. Throughout the battle, the deranged but deadly woman says things like:
“It is MY dream. MY destiny and I want it back”
“I gave it to them. NO they tricked me”
“Is that my spear?”
“When I look at you in the right light you look like them that took it”
GIVE IT BACK TO ME”
“Fall not at the feet of false idols”
Finally Smoke succeeds in hitting the woman with a crossbow bolt directly through her heart. She looks confused for a moment and then says, “I am magic incarnate. I am nothing” and disappears in a burst of black fire.

The heroes’ victory is cut short though as almost as soon as the woman vanishes, they hear cries for help coming from a nearby secret passage down the hallway. The cries seem to strike an empathic chord with their souls – as if they too can feel the creature’s pain and fear. Rushing through the secret passageway they move down a narrow stairway into a natural cavern carved out into the rock. At the far end of the chamber the party sees a very large owl flailing about on the ground helplessly. The creature is caught and covered in a large net that pulses rhythmically with a gray energy. Around it are orc-looking creatures that are attempting to subdue the poor creature. At the far end of the chamber, one of the orc-creatures approaches a glowing, multi-colored gemstone with an ornate-looking, metallic key. Cries of pain from the owl can be heard as the net tightens around it. The orcs, if that is indeed what they are, are not like any that the adventurers have ever seen before.
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They are all female and exceptionally attractive ones at that. All orc-women that the heroes have ever seen have the dumpy physique of butcher’s wives. However these orcs have the shape of dancers and move with grace that would rival some elves. They are are all clean-looking and well-groomed. Their tusks are small and unpronounced. In addition, unlike the usual rusty, scavenged equipment that most orcs carry, these women have fine and well cared for clothes and weapons. They all wear pendants that feature both the sun and the moon; sometimes in an eclipse. The women talk to each other in a strange language that none of the adventurers can understand and attack them. During the fighting, in addition to having considerable martial skill with their weapons, the orc-women often unleash powers with a moon-like theme against the heroes such as: gravity, darkness, radiant/necrotic damage, and slumber. The orc that is carrying the key is not dressed in armor or like an assassin as the rest of her group is. She wears a gossamer, yellow gown and is a magic-using enchantress – again unheard of for an orc. During the fighting she casts a love spell on the party that causes Madrakkar and Kriv to become infatuated with her and join the orc’s cause. After a very tough battle, the heroes prevail. The orcs refuse all offers to surrender and fight fanatically to the end, forcing the heroes to slay them all.

After the battle, the net around the owl disappears. Standing near the creature the heroes can feel that it is no ordinary animal. Though wounded, there is an undeniable sense of awe and majesty about it. Released from the net it stands up and speaks to them, and its voice seems to resonate in their heads.
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“I bid peace and greetings to you mortals. I am Mimizuku the Wise and I am the Celestial Guardian of the world of Erda. Since the creation of the multiverse and before time was counted, we Celestial Guardians have watched over the worlds, quietly protecting them from the forces of evil. However, despite our attempts, an entity capable of great destruction is about to be let loose onto the universe. Five thousand years ago a powerful but relatively unknown god named Middim caused so much chaos in the multiverse that the gods of several worlds united to trap him in a gray, twilight dimension of nothingness located in between the folds of space and time. However he has apparently found a way to escape. To put Middim’s prison in terms that you mortals might understand, think of each planet’s location in space and time as the tumbler on a lock. Each planet must be in exactly the correct position before a key can be inserted into the lock and turned. In the gods wisdom, such an alignment was never supposed to be occur, yet impossibly somehow has come to pass (some nervous gestures and knowing looks were exchanged between the heroes at the mention of this). Each world has a unique Astral Nexus that we Guardians keep watch over (nods towards the glowing gemstone). You may think of an Astral Nexus as a keyhole between worlds. Already the misguided agents of Middim have attacked and imprisoned the Celestial Guardians of many other worlds. Only your timely intervention saved me and prevented his agents from unlocking this nexus. I sense that only this nexus and the nexus of your home world remain uncorrupted. Middim’s agents will soon return in force to complete their task. You must travel through this Astral Nexus to the other worlds and remove the keys that Middim’s agents have inserted there.”

After this introduction, the celestial guardian answers questions from the heroes.
How did we get here and how do we get back to our world?
“You are on the world of Erda. At this moment, the barriers between time and space are exceptionally thin. When you entered your portal, I suspect you were drawn to my world because it was the only other one remaining with an uncorrupted Astral Nexus. (Puffs up with pride) Even amidst the chaos caused by Middim’s agents, I can sense the universal powers of order trying to right the imbalance. Just as you arrived here, I sense that heroes from my own world were transported to yours and are actively defending the nexus located there. Any one of the Astral Nexuses has the power to return you to your home world, but first you must travel to the other worlds and free them from Middim’s tampering.”
But we left our world at a critical moment. How do we get back to it now?
“The barriers between time ans space are exceptionally thin right now mortal. As such, all that happens here may bleed into a single moment of time. If you are successful, you may return to your world as you left it. But first you must stop Middim from escaping his prison or the universe will surely suffer.”
What is happening on our world? Where is our Nexus?
“The chaos caused by Middim’s agents has disrupted the communication with my brethren. I can no longer communicate with your world or the Celestial Guardian on any other world. I fear they have all been captured or worse.”
What must we do on these other worlds?
“Middim’s agents have already been to these worlds and defeated the Celestial Guardian and their defenses. You must go to these worlds and remove Middim’s keys from the nexuses there.”
Who are Middim’s agents?
“They are Orucks. The world they come from is one where their race and civilization is the dominant sentient race. They are not like orcs as you call them. They are much smarter, civilized and more advanced than any orc you will ever see on this world. Sadly, these once noble but misguided creatures have come under the influence of Middim. They now serve him as he has become their one god. On their world, there were no gods. Middim came to them in some of his wondering and convinced them that he was the one they should follow.”
How many worlds with a nexus are there?
“There are ten worlds. This world, your own, the grey world of the Orucks, and seven others.”
Why not travel directly to the Orucks world and attack them directly?
“Due to the machinations of Middim’s agents, travel through the Astral Nexus is unpredictable right now. Once you enter, I cannot say at which destination you will arrive. We are running out of time mortals. You must hurry for all of the worlds’ sakes. I wish you success.”
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The heroes gather themselves and go to use the nexus.
“As you touch the multi-hued gemstone it glows even more brightly. Suddenly you are immersed in total darkness. Crippling pain shoots through your entire body and it feels like you are being stretched impossibly thin – to the point that surely you must come apart. In delirium from the agony, you wonder if this is what it feels like being born. After what seems like an eternity, the pain ends as your body snaps back to its usual shape. You find yourself floating alone in the middle of a circular tunnel composed of prismatic-colored lights. Uncontrollably, you fly forward at ever increasing speeds. The faster you go, the more the lights seem to coalesce into a single color. Finally, travelling at an insane speed, your entire world blurs into a haze of color. The sensations end and as your vision returns you find yourself standing elsewhere. But you are not alone…”

Meanwhile back on their homeworld
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The final color that each hero sees is different. They each arrive on a separate worlds to find that they are teamed up with a hero that the recognize from from the murals in Erda. Together they combine forces to try and rid the Nexus from the influence of Middim’s agents.
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Yellow World – Kriv & Oznog
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Brown World – Barkus & Thomas
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Green World – Madrakkar & Decklin
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Blue World – Bahardim & Bubbles
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Red World – Tsol & 2XL
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The heroes find themselves standing in a terrain unlike anything that they have ever experienced before. They are in a large round tunnel about 20 feet in diameter. The rough and uneven walls are composed of a substance that they can’t identify. The entire area glows with a soft, red light. The air is thin and full of moisture. While not suffocating, Tsol finds it very hard to breathe. 2XL has the war-forged equivalent, as the weird substances in the atmosphere start gumming up his internal machinery.
Before the heroes can get acquainted, they are both knocked over by a stampede of hundreds of floating, red, shield-sized discs. The discs quickly pass them by and disappear around a bend in the tunnel. The heroes notice among them a floating, white ball (it almost looks like it is a giant ball of rice) that hesitates for a moment before also floating around the corner. A few of the red discs remain in the tunnel. They float lazily along and appear to be a standard feature of the terrain.
With their hands and face on the ground the heroes notice that the tunnel feels slightly spongy. They feel a regularly reoccurring pulse coming through it. THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP.
Tsol and 2XL Introduce themselves to one another. They both realize that neither one of them is native to this strange world and that the other must be a hero mentioned by the Celestial Guardian. They both theorize that they are near or in the heart of some type of living world. The irony is not lost on the heroes as Tsol looks down at the empty niche for the Heart of the Hero in his armor and the tin-man 2XL ponders what it would be like to possess the strange component that powers organic lifeforms. They conclude that the commotion they witnessed is most likely caused by the intrusion of the Orucks and follow the tunnel where the stampede went.
Shortly thereafter they are attacked by creatures that look suspiciously like rust monsters. Alarm klaxons start going off in 2XL’s cognitive systems as he spies these creatures swarming out of small folds in the walls. Tsol, having had several axes ruined by foul creatures like these, has a pang of fear for Targore’s Axe and quickly stows away the mighty weapon.
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At the far end of the tunnel it looks like there is some type of gate composed of an irregular lattice-work of white crystal. Tsol bulls his way forward through the creatures towards the gate. Meanwhile the creatures swarm 2XL who valiantly fights them off as best he can until he too staggers to the gate and then collapses in a heap of rusted metal.
On the other side of the gate the heroes can see a large chamber. The material of the walls is different. It looks more membranous and the heroes can see blue veins running throughout. There are obvious signs of a past battle. There are black scorch marks on the walls which miraculously seem to have blood oozing out of them. Charred corpses of unidentifiable creatures litter the floor. Among the creatures, the heroes spot a creature covered with a familiar-looking net that pulses with gray energy. The heroes are unable to identify what type of creature it is. To their best guess it looks like a giant fried egg with a blobby, amorphous, white body and a single, large, yellow spot. The yellow spot (eye?) reorients itself to regard the heroes when they approach the gate. In a pained, telepathic voice the creature introduces itself as the Celestial Guardian – Amoebus the Wise and bids the heroes to hurry onward into the chamber and remove Middim’s key from the Astral Nexus.
Wheezing from the exertion in the thin air, Tsol displays an incredible feat of strength and rips off a large piece of crystal from the alien gateway. He swings this chunk of crystal at the creatures like a large club keeping them at bay. Meanwhile tapping into emergency power, 2XL reboots and rises again. He plucks a red disc from the air and uses it as a makeshift shield to defend himself from the creatures. With a powerful blow, the war-forged hero completes the destruction of the crystal gateway.
With the creatures nipping at their heels, the two heroes enter the chamber. Resting atop a 5’ high stalk made up of a black, fibrous material they see the Astral Nexus. The heroes spot the handle of a grey, metallic key protruding from the top of the nexus. Unlike the nexus that they used earlier which glowed with vibrant, prismatic colors, this nexus is only emitting a muted, gray light. The heroes notice that the light is pulsing in time with the gray energy of the Celestial Guardian’s net. They rush forward and remove the key from the nexus. Immediately they are bathed in a blinding red light. The heroes experience travel similar to the first time that they entered an Astral Nexus. This time however, their new ally is hurtling down the corridor of lights with them. At the end of this journey, the lights blend into a now familiar shade of gray color and the heroes find themselves transported elsewhere…


Orange World – Alkorahil & Umbra
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The heroes’ first impression is that they are in a cavernous library. Rows upon rows of shelves stretch out in all directions as far as the eye can see. They quickly realize that the shelves do not contain books but instead contain neatly stacked drawers. The drawers give off a muted orange glow and the heroes can see various objects floating within. Upon further inspection the heroes realize that each drawer contains some species of unrecognizable alien bird. The specimens are floating in some type of fluid and are perfectly preserved. No other light source illuminates the area. The air smells musty and stale. The floor is composed of well-formed, square, metallic tiles. Nearby, there is an unknown arcane device with unreadable, glowing symbols on it. The device itself is a 3×3’ sheet of glass attached to a thin, 5’ high, metal pole. The ceiling is high and there is a square hole centered directly above the device.
Even as they take in their new surroundings, both of the veteran heroes note that they are not alone. Alkorahil instantly recognizes Umbra from the murals and statues that he encountered earlier. Remembering what was told to him by Mimizuku the Wise, he politely introduces himself and suggests that they team up to find the nexus. Umbra does not recognize Alkorahil or his holy symbol. He does recognize that Alkorahil is undead. While Alkorahil’s dead body is surely animated by necrotic energy, Umbra senses no evil emanating from him. This reminds Umbra greatly of the vampires that he recently encountered in Sarantus. Alkorahil unsuccessfully tries to reassure his opposite number not to worry because he has died and come back many times. Umbra decides that when in doubt, his best course of action is still to purge any and all undead and prepares to attack. However before battle ensues, a giant firebird manifests from Dark Phoenix over Alkorahil and a giant, shadowy image of the Raven Queen manifests over Umbra. The two avian aspects inspect each other for a moment and then deciding that the other is not a threat, peacefully recede. Umbra is still reconciling his oath to blindly destroy all undead against the multitude of signs he is seen that Alkorahil is an ally when they are both attacked.
The wizened, undead corpse of an old man wearing tattered, red robes emerges from behind one of the rows of shelves and charges the heroes. The figure has blazing, red orbs for eyes. Alkorahil recognizes this being is very similar to the Star Spawn that he fought while on an earlier adventure in Vaasa. Even as the creature advances, several more undead teleport into the area in quick flashes of orange flame. As the heroes combine forces to fight off their assailants, every few seconds more and more undead teleport into the area. These newcomers appear very similar to the first except that some are female and they are dressed in various types of decaying robes.
Eventually the heroes realize the futility of fighting what seems like a never-ending wave of undead and start looking for a place to fall back to. Umbra’s sharp eyes notice a slight separation in the tiles of the floor surrounding the alien device. He points this out to Alkorahil who deduces that with the hole in the ceiling above, the the device must operate some kind of lift. Umbra tries to read the writing on the screen and has a brief psychic flashback of pain due to the brainwashing he endured from the evil Aboleth, Xyxiannix. Umbra realizes that the writing must be in deep speech and relays this information to Alkorahil. While he cannot understand this language either, Alkorahil calmly pulls a magical Lens of Reading out of his over-stuffed pack and uses it to translate the symbols. The thinking warrior sees a series of numbers and a symbol labelled ‘Go’. Even while still fending off the undead, Alkorahil manages to analyze the numbers and deduces that they are similar to the organizational system used to catalogue the books in the great library of Oghma. The format is (General Category)(Sub-Category)(Specific Topic). He alters the input and presses the ‘Go’ symbol. The lift rises to another level of the building allowing the heroes to evade the undead swarm surrounding them.
The heroes work in concert to figure out how to navigate the lift. Every level that they pass, upwards or down is filled with endless rows of shelves exactly like the level that they left. They also notice undead roaming each level and realize if they stop on any level for too long that they will be attacked again. Umbra’s superior powers of perception allow him to analyze the contents of the drawers as the rapidly accelerating elevator moves between floors of the building. He begins to discern a pattern for the contents of the drawers of each level that the heroes pass. Birds, Insects, Fish, Rodents, etc… (many of completely alien species that the heroes do not recognize). Alkorahil uses this information to further decipher the organizational system and figure out how to operate the lift. He deduces that they are in the Biology subject area and theorizes that they need to switch to Geology to travel to the Astral Nexus on this world.
When the heroes change the general category the lift shoots upward. They arrive to find that they are at the top of an impossibly tall building. The lift connects to a metal and glass enclosure that fits over the lift perfectly. There is a hissing sound as the air is sealed in. The lift then shoots off along metal rails that connect it to similar-looking buildings. On the horizon they a gargantuan, orange sun that dominates the sky and a barren, lifeless landscape.
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Before travelling to the Geology building a flash of inspiration hits the heroes – if this is an advanced world, there might be advanced weapons available in one of the other buildings. Alkorahil moves the lift to the Engineering building and the heroes find the floor with many advanced weapons. The heroes manage to disable the locks on a few of the drawers and grab a couple of high-tech weapons before being forced to retreat from the area by the undead. Alkorahil finds an alien rifle that fires an endless stream of crystal projectiles while in extreme cold environments while Umbra nabs an advanced Thermal Shield.
While in the building the heroes are contacted telepathically by a being that introduces itself as Muffit the Wise. He informs them that he is the Celestial Guardian of this world and is thankful that the heroes finally came within his telepathic range of communication so that he can help guide them. He directs the heroes where to pick him up and they are surprised to see that he looks like a small bear-cub with large glass eyes, and a metallic muzzle. He confirms that he sensed the arrival of the Orucks but hid out from them knowing that they would draw the attention of what he calls “the Starving”. Muffit explains that the heroes are on the world of Hadar. Long ago some of the technologically advanced and highly curious scientists of this world were tricked by Middim into performing an experiment on their sun. Their tampering caused the sun to burn out rapidly. In just 5,000 years instead of 5 billion years, their sun turned into the giant, yet cold, ball of flame that the heroes see. Slowly in the changing atmosphere, all life began to die. Many people fled to other worlds. Some were unwilling or unable to leave and remained on the dying world. Many have become cursed by the baleful light of the sun and have become what the survivors call “the Starving”. Muffit does what he can to help the survivors as his penance for failing to protect his world. He tells the heroes that this collection of buildings is simply known as “The Museum” and many of the greatest artifacts of the people of Hadar were gathered and stored here for historical reference. Muffit confirms that the Nexus is located in the Geology building and warns that after tasting the life of some of the cultists of Middim, the Starving still linger there. Muffit gives the heroes the combination to the drawer containing the nexus. Wishing them luck, he asks the heroes to drop him off before they move onward to their final fight on this world.
The heroes arrive on the floor containing the astral nexus. The desiccated husks of the bodies of several Middim sun cultists lie on the floor. The Astral Nexus has been placed back in its locked drawer. The entire floor is crawling with Starving. Using his ability to move between shadows, Umbra teleports to the drawer containing the Astral Nexus before the heroes can be overrun. Entering the combination the heroes see the handle of a grey, metallic key protruding from the top of the nexus. Unlike the nexus that they used earlier which glowed with vibrant, prismatic colors, this nexus is only emitting a muted, gray light. Umbra easily removes the key from the nexus and are immediately the heroes are bathed in a blinding orange light. They experience travel similar to the first time that they entered and Astral Nexus. This time however, their new ally(?) is hurtling down the corridor of lights with them. At the end of this journey, the lights blend into a now familiar shade of gray color and the heroes find themselves transported elsewhere…


Purple World – Smoke & Alton
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The heroes arrive in a circular pit in the ground. The pit is about 10’ in diameter and 8’ deep. The earth is hard and rocky. Above them they can see the irregularly-shaped silhouette of something covering most of the opening, leaving just a small crescent of the foxhole exposed to the sky. From up above, the heroes hear frequent high pitched whistling noises followed by loud explosions. During the intervals between these noises the heroes can hear the sound of rain plinking against whatever object is covering the hole above them. Large, viscous, purple raindrops fall into their shelter. There is no light source except from occasional bursts of violet light coming through the opening that briefly illuminates their surroundings. That is OK with the heroes because both are rogues and are comfortable operating in the shadows.
As each hero acclimates to his new surroundings he realizes that he is not alone. Smoke recognizes Alton from the murals and statue that he encountered earlier. Remembering what was told to him by the Celestial Guardian he introduces himself. The heroes briefly get acquainted then focus on their task of unlocking the nexus.
They easily climb the sides of the pit and poke their heads out. The first thing that they notice is that the object covering their hole in the ground is a dragon. The beast appears to be dead. They can see that is heavily injured and is lying completely still on its back. They realize now that its blood is the source of what they thought were raindrops falling into their shelter. The dragon is unlike any that either hero has ever heard of. It has metallic scales that have an iridescent purple sheen to them (like motor oil on water) and two sets of dead eyes rolled back into its head.
Their focus however is quickly torn away from the dragon due to the fantastic sight of their surroundings. The heroes have arrived at a desolate landscape. The ground is made of barren, gray rock that is pock-marked with craters. However it is the sky that draws their attention. On the horizon they can make out the shattered remains of a plum-colored planet. Half of the planet has been blasted into floating rubble. The heroes are actually located on one of many large land masses that have broken off and drifted quite a distance away. The smaller pieces of debris from the planet are continually colliding with heroes’ planetoid – falling from the sky from their point of view. This is the source of the whistling sound that they can they can hear.
Upon further observation the heroes catalogue three different types of debris that are crashing down around them. The first is large chunks of falling matter that are made up of the same gray, rocky substance as their environment. These boulder-sized rocks crash to the ground with large thuds, gouging craters into the surface. The second types of meteors are shinier than the others with a composition that looks more metallic. These are studded with glowing-indigo crystals. When these crash land they violently explode, leaving jagged crevasses in the ground. The heroes also sometimes observe them exploding into jagged, razor-sharp shrapnel when then they collide with other objects in the air. These are the source of the violet light and loud bangs that they observed earlier. These seem familiar to Smoke somehow – perhaps as if he has seen them in a different context. The third category that they pick out is just smaller pebble and rock-sized pieces of debris made up from the other two types. These pelt the ground and generate the sound of raindrops that the heroes noticed earlier. The planet in the distance twinkles with its own indigo light. Now that they think about it the heroes don’t see a sun anywhere. In the distance about one hundred yards away they spy a large plateau. They can clearly see an armored metallic door set into the base. There are no other distinguishing features of the terrain and the heroes decide the door is where they must go.
The heroes use their superior acrobatic skills to cross the terrain while dodging falling meteors and shrapnel. The heroes notice that the metallic comets with the indigo crystals seem to be shifting their trajectory to crash much closer to their vicinity than they should be. With his knowledge of arcane lore and traps, Alton realizes that metallic objects combined with the close proximity of life-force somehow seems to be generating a magical aura that is highly attractive to these meteors. With their attention focused on evading the debris falling from the sky, the heroes fail to notice claw marks around the rim of a crater that they wander close to. They are startled when a Bulette-like creature with a thick metallic hide emerges from the crater and attacks them. The monster’s bite takes a huge chunk of meat out of Smoke’s leg. In addition, the metallic, exploding meteors are highly attracted to the beast and rain down all around its area – damaging the armored beast some but the heroes even more. Alton seeks refuge by sneaking down into the crater that the monster emerged from and finds a huge lair carved out below the surface. Meanwhile Smoke quaffs a potion of invisibility and manages to stealth away from his attacker. Unable to locate his prey and frustrated by being pelted by falling rocks, the beast returns to its lair. Alton manages to stay hidden behind some bones in a corner. Meanwhile Smoke presses on towards the door. There is a crater located right next to the metallic door. When Smoke looks down inside of it, he sees a giant purple worm writhing in pain inside of a familiar-looking net that pulses with gray energy. The creature speaks telepathically with both of the heroes telling them it is the Celestial Guardian, Gummerius the Wise. They ask him if he can help and the Guardian is briefly able to mask Alton from the monster so that he can rejoin Smoke at the door. The thieves disable the locks on the door and enter.
Behind the door they find a tunnel leading deeper inside the plateau. Hanging in the middle of the tunnel at 5’ intervals are masterfully woven tapestries. The heroes brush each aside and progress down the tunnel. According to accounts of the experience as told by both of the rogues, they absolutely did not encounter any traps whatsoever in the tunnel. The tapestries seem to tell the history of this world.

  1. Shows nine large planetoids not unlike this one but containing buildings. There are streaks of energy and explosions between them indicating war or battle.
  2. A creature that looks like a dark elf with purple skin is shown landing on a fantastical looking flying ship.
  3. The elf is shown rescuing a female alien from a pack of some alien wolf-like creatures. The female alien has purple skin like the elf but she also has horns more reminiscent of a Tiefling.
  4. The female alien is shown leading the dark elf through various dangers (nine in all). In each one the elf is shown recovering a shard of metal that is glowing violet (like the crystals in the meteors).
  5. The elf is shown wearing a glowing crown made up of the shards of metal. He is on his knees proposing to the female alien and offering her a golden, heart-shaped locket. All around them, aliens similar to the female are bowing to the couple.
  6. The elf-king is shown with bands of energy connecting him to all nine of the planetoids. The female is standing by his side and holding his hand. In the background they are all surrounded by a full planet. The planet looks like the one the heroes saw outside except that it is completely full and round.
  7. The king and queen are shown ruling from an idealized palace made up of amethyst-colored crystals. Surrounding them in court are many happy-looking people.
  8. A giant, menacing comet made up of blue fire is shown hurtling towards the purple planet. Smoke is reminded of many similar depictions of the arrival of the Spellplague in his own world’s artwork. Meanwhile the king is depicted as summoning up metal around him; armoring himself in a gigantic shell of armor. He is shown flying directly into space towards the blue comet.
  9. The comet is shown crashing into the planet causing great destruction.
  10. The queen is shown surrounded by people that are trying to console her. She is weeping and clutching her hand over her heart.
    Behind the last tapestry is a door that opens into a small room. There is a wide, plush, purple and gold carpet that forms a path leading directly from the door to figure that is entombed up ahead. On either side of the carpet there are multitudes of blooming purple lotus flowers blanketing the ground. A purple haze of mist floats through the air. As the heroes inhale the mist they start to feel very drowsy. The figure is entombed in a standing position and is surrounded by large stalagmites made of purple amethyst that reach from the floor to the ceiling. As the heroes get closer they can make out a blurry impressing of the figure through the crystal. It appears to be the queen depicted in the tapestries. The motionless figure is definitely a horned female with purple skin. She is wearing a high-backed, regal garment and there is a silver crown upon her brow.
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    They can also see that she is holding the nexus neatly folded in her still hands. The heroes can see the handle of a grey, metallic key protruding from the top of the nexus. Unlike the nexus that they used earlier which glowed with vibrant, prismatic colors, this nexus is only emitting a muted, gray light. There is a strange alien device embedded in the floor in front of the crystals. Glowing words written in elven are emblazoned in the amethyst.
    This is the end
    Hold your breath and count to ten
    Feel the earth move and then
    See my heart burst again

    With their eyelids growing heavier and their need to sleep ever more urgent, the heroes try to decipher the riddle. The heroes deduce – “this is the end” (death), “hold your breath" (don’t breathe the vapors), and “feel the earth move” (the crystal pillars will open).The heroes look to the alien device to figure out “count to ten”. It has a funnel-shaped aperture at the top. The middle of the device is flat and has a back and sides made of metal but a glass window on the front. Inside they can see protruding metal rods that divide the interior of the device into 10 evenly spaced rows and columns (DM note: think Plinko board). The bottoms of the columns are numbered 1-10 and have holes that disappear into the floor. Alton recognizes the device as some type of offering and guesses that they need to get a coin-sized, metallic object into the 10-slot on the device in order to get the crystals to retract. Even as their thoughts grow tired, both of the streetwise rogues easily deduce that the odds are about 1:1000 of getting a coin to fall into the 10-slot. Too sleepy to try and disable or trick the device, Smoke shockingly (for a Thief) dumps thousands of gold coins into the device until one of them lands in the 10-slot.
    Even as the crystals retract into the floor, both heroes have now dropped to their knees, struggling not to pass out. The plush carpet feels enticingly comfortable. Even as the crystals retract, the queen’s golden locket opens. On one side they can see her picture and on the other side they can see a picture of the elven king. The same glowing words that were on the crystal show up in glowing script on the queen’s side of the locket. As the heroes look on the words disappear but glowing words in a different handwriting appear in a slightly darker shade of purple on the king’s side of the locket. This pattern alternates back and forth as the heroes watch mesmerized.


This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
See my heart burst again


For this is the end
I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I’m stolen


When the sky falls
When it crumbles
He will stand tall
Bring it all together
At skyfall


Skyfall is where it starts
A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
They may have my number, they can take my name
But they’ll never have my heart


When the sky falls
When it crumbles
He will stand tall
Bring it all together
At skyfall

Moments away from blacking out, the heroes reach forward in a desperate grasp and remove the key from the nexus. They are immediately bathed in a blinding purple light. They experience travel similar to the first time that they entered and Astral Nexus. This time however, their new ally is hurtling down the corridor of lights with them. At the end of this journey, the lights blend into a now familiar shade of gray color and the heroes find themselves transported elsewhere…

The Temple of Middim
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Having released the locks on the nexus stones of the various worlds, each of the teams is transported though a grey vortex. All fourteen heroes from both worlds find themselves suddenly standing together in a large group on the grey-colored world of Middim. They are perched on top of a square-shaped, raised, stone platform in the center of a huge temple of some kind. The platform they are standing on is made of a lusterless, grey stone that rises some twenty-five feet above the grey, stone, temple floor below. On each of the four sides of the square platform are wide stone stairs that descend downward from the top of the platform to the temple floor. On a pedestal in the center of the platform rests the final nexus stone that has been corrupted by Middim’s agents. A now familiar-looking key protrudes from the top of the nexus. Surrounding the nexus is a barrier of incredible energy. The heroes instantly sense the power of Middim protecting the stone and realize that nothing short of breaking the god’s concentration will allow them to penetrate the barrier. The heroes ready themselves for battle.
The temple itself is brightly lit on the western side and dimly lit with a pale blue-white light on the eastern side. As a being of dual nature, Middim appears to be trapped inside portals on each end of the temple. Inside of a large portal on the bright side of the temple is the male aspect of Middim in the form of a glowing sun-god. In an equal-sized portal at the other end of the temple is the female aspect of Middim in the form of a moon-goddess. Standing guard in front of the moon aspect is a cadre of female Oruck soldiers. Standing guard in front of the sun aspect there are an equal number of male Oruck soldiers.
A loud, rhythmic chanting can be heard from coming outside the temple. Looking around, the heroes also see that on both the north and south sides of the temple there are large, wide-arched exits to the outside. Looking through the exits, the party members can see that outside there is a pale, grey sky and a barren, rocky landscape where thousands of Oruck worshipers are assembled. These worshipers see the party of adventurers inside of their temple and begin to rush forward to help defend their god.
As the worshipers being to enter from the north and south sides of the temple, Middim speaks to the heroes taunting them and threatening them with grim destruction. Middim releases light and dark spells from both portals that strike the party members standing on top of the platform. The range and power of the attacks take the adventures by surprise as they scramble to move closer to the aspects to attack. There is some quick debate among the combined group as to how to tactically proceed. They decide to split up and attack both aspects at the same time. Umbra and Alkorahil rush to the north and south archways respectively to block the entry of the worshipers from entering the temple and reinforcing the guards. After a few moments, they are able to do so giving their teammates a chance to fight Middim unhindered. While trying to close in on the two aspects of Middim, the Oruck guards in front of each portal block the heroes’ way. Having fought them before, the party has no doubt of their adversaries’ abilities or determination. The Orucks attack the enemies of their god with a fanatical determination and prove to be difficult to overcome. Meanwhile Middim continues to attack the combined adventuring party using a bizarre combination of deadly magic alternating with underhanded tricks. Many of Middim’s attacks cause blindness for the party and confusion in their attacks making them accidentally hit each other. Thomas is hit by a ray of light that causes him to uncontrollably float high into the air while Middim jokingly tells him to “lighten up.” Smoke is hit with a burst of darkfire which strips away his disguise and reveals his true face as a dark elf. Middim urges the heroes to attack the “traitor” in their midst but while they have mixed reactions, none of them turn on their ally. Throughout the combat, the images of Middim in the portals constantly flow from one godly-form to another although they remain true to their original aspects.
The battle rages on as the groups fighting both sides try to push forward. Eventually they are able to eliminate the Oruck guards and press on to the two portals where they begin to attack Middim directly. The male aspect of Middim speaks to the heroes in a loud masculine booming voice: “Fools! You cannot know warmth without also knowing cold, have sons without also having mothers, have light without also having darkness.” While at the same time, the female aspect speaks in a commanding but seductive voice: “Fools! You cannot know cold without also knowing warmth, have daughters without also having fathers, have darkness without also having light.” Both aspects of Middim become fuzzy then seem to change form as the Moon aspect changes place on the temple portals with the Sun aspect. The adventuring party is taken aback by this event as now each of the two groups finds themselves fighting the opposite aspect of Middim than they were before.
The heroes are hard-pressed by the change in tactics but it also gives them some insight into their enemy as well. In a burst of inspiration several members of the party realize that due to the inter-connectivity of the aspects, one side cannot be fazed while the other stands tall. In order to break Middim’s concentration they must deal catastrophic damage to both aspects at the same time. Coordinating efforts, the party balances their forces and then presses the attack on both the sun and moon aspects. Simultaneously striking both aspects with all of their combined might and power, the champions of two worlds achieve the near-impossible and manage to stagger a god. Seeing the energy around the nexus flicker, with a gratifying feeling of redemption Smoke acts quickly and pulls the key from the Nexus stone. In a deafening roar, both aspects of Middim cry out in one voice, “Nooo this cannot be!” Blinding prismatic light erupts from the nexus bathing the temple in its power and the heroes find themselves once again floating in the corridor of lights.
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Level 19
Return to the Glacier of the White Worm

Summary: The war goes poorly for the people of Impiltur. In an act of desperation the heroes return to the Glacier of the White Worm to retrieve a weapon so powerful that even the White Queen feared to use it.
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Takes place 30th of Marpenoth (Leaffall) in the year 1479DR (The Year of the Ageless One)

Nearly a year has passed since Tsol assumed leadership of his clan. The war has not gone well for Impiltur. Weakened by years of political corruption and the recent civil war with the demonic armies of the Fraternity of Tharos, the nation is still not powerful enough to resist invading armies of Vaasa. Faced off against overwhelming numbers and resources, only alliances formed with sympathetic neighboring countries and the fact that the enemy is fighting a two-front war has enabled Impilitur to hold out as long as it has. The heroes have pitched in where they can but even their abilities can go only so far to offset the numerical advantage of the enemy. In addition, Vaasa is led by an elite group of Warlock Knights known as the Ironfell Council. This sinister collection of villains use their own formidable abilities to work towards the domination of Impiltur. After the snows of winter melted, Vaasa was able to move up reinforcements and break through the stalemate at the Icehilt River. After breaking through, their armies razed the countryside. Lyrabar, New Sarshel, and the Gray Forest remain the last bastions of resistance in the nation and even these locations are surrounded and under siege. In addition, the enemy was able to secretly field a navy and blockade the coastal cities. The future looks grim for the nation of Impiltur.

Yet some hope remains. Childa Bennings with the help of Bahardim has finally been able to crack the code of Bitriarch’s journal. Inside the journal they find reference to a weapon so powerful that its owner feared to use it. Apparently the weapon could not be destroyed (having been made during the Age of Dreams) so Bitriarch was commissioned to come up with a way to lock the weapon away. The journal mentions that there are three wards that Bitriarch used to limit access to the weapon. The first ward is a portal on the Glacier of the White Worm which must be entered at the precise time using the Moonstaff of Skeyva. Childa now realizes that the information she and her father found in the ruins where they first found mention of Moonstaff was incomplete (the tablet they found was broken). They read the instructions as “When the moon is full, shine the light of its twin through the staff to open the portal.” They thought that the Moonstaff must be used during a full moon and that the light of the twin must mean moonlight (the light of the sun, the twin, reflected off of the moon). Thanks to the translation from the journal she now realizes that the correct instructions are, “When the moon is full of darkness, shine the light of its twin through the staff to open the portal.” She now believes that the Moonstaff must be used on the night of a new moon and that sunlight (produced through magical means) must be directed through the staff in order to open the portal. In addition, the staff must be placed in a specific niche in front of the portal. The length of the staff must be calculated according to a formula Bitriach provided using the alignment of the stars in the night sky. The problem is that Bithiarch’s formula was written before the Spellplague realigned the planets but Childa believes that she can compensate thanks to the Moon Elves considerable research in astronomy. The second ward mentioned in the journal is the White Queen herself as the portal leads directly to the ancient dragon’s lair. The party notes that since then, the White Queen has been overthrown by another ancient white dragon known as Moonshadow and that while he is said to lack her talent for strategy was able to defeat her because he was more physically powerful than her intelligence could overcome.The third ward is said to be a grand vault that Bitriarch plans on constructing in her lair but the journal ends before it goes into detail on the locking mechanism for the vault door. There is no detail on exactly what the weapon is or what it does. However with no better options, the heroes agree to go on a desperate mission to retrieve it. Fortunately the Star Sextant is able to be used to transport them past the enemy siege and directly to the glacier. In fact the Moon Elves are very excited because the planets are in what they call a “perfect alignment” which means that right now they can open a portal to nearly anywhere in the cosmos with no drain on the sextant’s power supply.

The adventurers step through the magical gate of the Star Sextant out into the chilling night air of the glacier. The party finds the niche in front of the portal and places the Moonstaff in it. Saying a swift prayer to his god, Alkorahil calls down the holy radiance of the sun, the light of knowledge, and shines it through crystal on the staff. The portal to Bitriarch’s vault opens and the party steps through. Instead of finding themselves in a dragon’s lair standing outside of a vault door, the adventurers find themselves somewhere else. The scene before them is one of sacrifice. A pretty-looking Frost Giant maiden is tied up to a stake on the precipice of a chasm. A grim vigil of Frost Giant warriors stands watch nearby. It is still night time and dark with no moon to light the night sky. A few well-placed torches light the area, dancing wildly off of the white snow and ice. Steep cliffs flank the chasm. Perhaps a hundred yards in the distance in the opposite direction from the chasm, a fortress is carved into the side of the mountain. The party can see many more Frost Giants manning the battlements of the fortress. As soon as the giants notice the heroes emerging from the portal they begin talking excitedly among themselves in giantish and attack. The maiden easily frees herself from the ropes tying her to the stake and begins casting elemental cold magic to attack the party. None of the party speaks giantish. Tsol drops the name Ijax but none of the giants seem to recognize it and they keep attacking. Alkorahil manages to use his telepathic powers to communicate with the largest of the Frost Giants. Apparently he is chieftain of the clan and it is his daughter that was intended to be tonight’s sacrifice. He thinks that the heroes would make suitable replacement sacrifices which is why the giants are trying to capture them. The conversation is cut short when Smoke kills the Ice Maiden by putting a crossbow bolt through her eye. This causes the chieftain to go berserk and the Frost Giants renew their attack on the party with more vigor. The heroes prevail but in the meantime the gates of the fortress have opened and a horde of more giants are running towards them – quickly covering the distance with their long strides. With the cliffs on both sides and the chasm behind them it looks like the adventurers have nowhere to escape to and will be overrun. However, Alkorahil goes into a kind of trance, moves to a snow drift piled up against one of the cliffs, and uses his flaming sword to melt/cut through the ice. Below it is a man-sized hole into the ground. Alkorahil steps into the hole and is whisked away down an ice slide leading deep into the ice of the glacier. The rest of the party follows him moments before they are attacked by the next wave of Frost Giants. Kriv’s Griffon-mount , Peter, is too large to fit down the hole so the ranger directs him to fly away to safety.
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The adventurers find themselves in a series of tunnels that wind through the ice of the glacier. The tunnels are nearly perfectly spherical and wide enough for two people to walk abreast. The floor and ground are slick and difficult to walk on. Party-members that are versed in Dungeoneering and Nature can tell that the tunnels are not natural nor were they carved out using any mining technique. Knowing the lore of the Glacier of the White Worm (making the assumption that they are still at the Glacier of the White Worm) the heroes surmise that the tunnels might have been melted through the ice by the creatures known as Remorhazes. Indeed shortly thereafter, attracted to their vibrations and heat, two of the creatures attack the party. Tsol and Alkorahil realize that the Remorhaz that they encountered on their last trip to the glacier must have been a larva because these worms are much better armored and produce much more heat. During the fight, one of the beasts succeeds in swallowing Madrakkar but he calmly casts a spell that transforms him into pure elemental fire. The heat he produces is even more spicy that the worm can handle and it coughs the mage back up.

After the heroes defeat the monsters they follow the tunnels some more. Shortly thereafter they hear the sounds of mining from up ahead. Smoke scouts out the situation and discovers that just up ahead the ice tunnels connect with tunnels carved into the rock of the mountainside. The inside of the mountainous tunnels are studded with quartz which is being mined by humanoid creatures made up of animate ice. Smoke watches these creatures for a while and notes that their actions are very monotonous – they take no breaks nor seem to talk with each other. He also observes that after they have mined a pile of quartz crystals, the ice-creatures deposit them in barrels that are connected to some type of conveyance mechanism. The mechanism continually lifts the barrels full of crystals up into a chute while at the same time empty barrels connected to the same mechanism come back down the same chute. Smoke also spies Bitriarch’s mark imprinted onto the side of the mechanical contraption confirming that the party is still somewhere on the Glacier of the White Worm. He reports this back to the rest of the party. This causes several of them to question Alkorahil about how he knew where to find the entrance to the ice tunnels. It was awfully helpful that his knowledge enabled the party to evade the Frost Giants and then take them through a quick shortcut that put them right back on track for their quest. Alkorahil admits that during the fight he was visited by a vision of Szass Tam that only he could see and hear (most likely because he is undead). Szass Tam told Alkorahil where the slide was and ordered Alkorahil to enter it. Because Alkorahil was bound by a geas to the infamous necromancer he had no choice but to obey. His oath has now been fulfilled and he is free from his debt to the wizard. The heroes are suspicious of Szass’ motivations because he seems to be helping them but they decide that they really have no choice but to continue onward. Smoke produces several Potions of Mimicry that let the party assume the appearance of the ice-creatures and they are able to move past them without incident. The adventures climb in the barrels of the conveyance mechanism and ride them up. They climb off the device into a small laboratory. Based on the notebooks in the lab they deduce that this lab must have been Bitriach’s but it was more of a back-up retreat and not his main workshop. The adventurers search for any more information regarding the weapon or the vault but find none. They do discover that Bitriarch was fond of puzzles and games to “warm up his mind.” Madrakkar also finds a curious device – a flat, square slate that is divided up into square sections with gridlines. He can tell that the device is magical but is not active and its magic is tied to the next room.

The party exits through the lone door in the room. The next room is massive, made to seem even more so by the fact there doesn’t appear to be anything in it. The walls are made of rock and the room is cut in the shape of a perfect cube. The unadorned walls extend so high that no ceiling to the room can be seen in the dim lighting. Wind can be heard whistling through the upper reaches, perhaps indicating that the room is in a hollowed out portion of one of the mountain peaks. The only item of interest that the party can see is the floor. It consists of perfectly smooth and planed grey tiles that sparkle with crystalline insets – perhaps made of the quartz that was mined in the other room. Upon entering the room, the magical slate in Madrakkar’s hand lights up. A message is dwarvish magically scrolls across the top. Mads pulls out his magical spectacles of reading and translates. Apparently the room contains mines that will explode if anyone steps on them. The device will identify when it is moved close to a mine but only display how many mines it is close too – not their exact proximity or direction. The user must deduce where the mines are using deductive reasoning. The grid on the magical device corresponds with the grid structure of the tiles in the room. Only when all mines are marked on the slate will the door on the far side of the room open (the only other exit). Madrakkar, followed by the rest of the party, begins slowly walking around the room sweeping for mines using the device. About halfway through finding all of the mines in the room, the heroes are attacked by two Mavawhan demons (escapees from the demon civil war perhaps?). Hidden somewhere in the shadows up above, the creatures fly down to dive-bomb the heroes. Alkorahil is blown onto one of the mines by an arctic blast of wind conjured by one of the demons. Explosive shards of crystal shoot straight up from the mine into Alkorahil with rocket speed. His armor protects him but while struggling to regain his composure the other demon falls upon him, raking him with its nasty claws. At first, Alkorahil feels his blood start turning into sludge and then is further alarmed when his entire forearm starts turning to ice. Summoning all of his willpower he counteracts the effects of the wicked magic while his companions slay the demons. Afterwards the rest of the mines are found and the party exits into the next room.
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The walls of the next room are made entirely of white quartz and the adventurers realize that they have made it to the famed Crystal Palace of the White Queen. This area of the glacier, that she supposedly walked in often why polymorphed into her human form, is rumored to be where she had most of her opulence and wealth upon display. Indeed, the room is filled with many masterfully crafted ice sculptures, worthy to be on display in any king’s castle. A low fog clings to the floor from the cold of the room. From somewhere underneath the sculptures a magical light shines upward onto them bringing out their brilliant colors. As the party investigates further, they see that many of the sculptures were made using different colors of water, making them even more beautiful. The adventurers note that each sculpture is signed somewhere “Lanaya Sweetwater”, the name of a famous elven sculptor that mysteriously disappeared over 300 years ago. The more streetwise of the party realize that any one of the statues could fetch a rich reward from the right art collector but the adventurers can’t think of a way to transport any of them. Finding nothing else of interest, they move on to the next room.

The next room the party enters is circular and full of mirrors of all shapes and sizes. A dome stretches overhead and is likewise crafted to reflect the images of everything below. Even the chrome floor is polished to a mirror shine. Tsol has a brief flashback of the fight at the Starlight Citadel before pressing onward. As the adventurers explore the room, they find that each mirror is magical and reflects alternate visions of whoever looks into it. One mirror shows Tsol younger versions of himself – as he looked as a baby, a child, and a young man. Another mirror allows Alkorahil to reflect on his greatest failures. Smoke is fascinated by another mirror that shows what he would look like as a female version of himself. As the party explores they find mirrors that show older versions of themselves, fatter versions, and futuristic-looking versions. They see what they would look like as a member of a different race, as a champion of nature, or surround by riches. As Tsol and Barkus pass in front of mirrors that are on opposite sides of the room from one another, there is a brief flash of light from the mirrors and then evil-looking versions of the heroes are found standing in their places. As the dark heroes spring into action to attack, the rest of the party can see the good versions of their allies trapped in the mirrors that they were standing in front of. Indeed Tsol and Barkus find themselves standing in what looks exactly like the same room of mirrors except it is empty of their allies and they can see their allies in the mirror fighting the evil versions of themselves. Then they lose sight of the battle as the mirror begins displaying images of what life was like for their doubles in this dark reflection of their world. Tsol sees visions of himself never escaping the gladiator pits of Thay, being killed then reanimated as a powerful undead mockery of himself, and forced to serve a powerful red-robed lich. Barkus sees visions where he did not resist the effects of Malrite’s ritual, trained in martial arts with the corrupted monks at the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, returned to Nall to capture the villagers, and brought them all before Malrite. Drawing upon his discipline, Barkus meditates upon the situation for a moment. Indeed he can imagine what his life would have been like had he fallen under Malrite’s influence – it is a thought that his kept him awake during many nights already. In so sympathizing with his double, he suddenly finds himself trading places and back on his own world among his allies. Trapped in his own dark realm, in typical Minotaur fashion, Tsol starts hacking away at the mirror with his axe. He strikes it several mighty blows but the magical mirror only slightly cracks under the assault. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes turn their combined abilities onto Dark Tsol and slay him. with his duplicate gone, the mirror clears up and Tsol finds that he can now step though it and return to his own world. Shortly after that the party discovers a mirror bearing Bitriarch’s mark. When they look into the mirror they can that behind them in the reflection is a giant vault door. Touching the mirror, they find themselves teleported to the outside of Birtiarch’s Vault. DM’s note: The White Queen placed only one “Mirror Darkly” trap in her hall of mirrors but directly opposite was a Mirror of Replication. Normally a Mirror of Replication can’t copy magic items but after hundreds of years with no use it copied the only thing that it could see – the Mirror Darkly.

Looking around, the adventurers find that Bitrirarch’s journal was accurate – the vault is most definitely in what would be described as an ancient white dragon’s lair. Fortunately for them, nobody appears to be home at the moment but they can see signs of recent use. The lair is in a frost-covered cave. The floor is slick with ice and dotted with stalagmites of large ice crystals. Icicles adorn the high ceiling. Masterfully crafted stairs of dwarven-make wind their way up one of the walls. Climbing them the party finds a large exit to the outside world. The cave is embedded into one of the largest peaks on the glacier. Completely unclimbable the only access appears to be by air. The exit is so cleverly constructed to blend in with the glacier that only the most keen of eyes would notice that it was there. Descending back down to the lair, the party finds the dragon’s loot and helps themselves to it. They then return their attention to opening the vault.
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The vault door is constructed of solid metal carved into solid rock. Madrakkar can detect power runes of protection on the vault and knows instantly that no spell of his will be able to penetrate it. Above the vault are two large clocks that bear Birtiarch’s mark. They are expertly constructed, still running accurately after over 300 years, and still in perfect time with one another. One of the clocks appears to me a mirror reflection of the other. In between them is an inscription in dwarvish that reads, “I run all day but never tire.” The obvious answer to the riddle being time (because of the clocks), but the heroes also figure out that perhaps it could be a reference to a river or water. The reference to water stirs Madrakkar’s memories of his studies of alchemy at the university especially of an advanced class he took called “atom-ics”. Explaining the concept to the rest of the heroes they realize that the element of water is composed of one Oxygen (O) atom and two Hydrogen (H) atoms. Excitedly the party realizes that the clocks on the wall rotate and if twisted correctly that the roman numeral one’s look like "H"’s. Madrakkar using is genius-level intellect recalls that Oxygen “the O” has 8 of what are called protons and 8 electrons- 2 on an inner ring and 6 on an outer ring. Hydrogen has 1 proton and 1 electron. The adventurers deduce that the “11” on the clocks corresponds to this concept because it has one black dot on it and one red dot on it. The party sets the dial on the inner ring of the vault to “2”, the dial on the outer ring of the vault to “6”, turns the left clock 90 degrees clockwise, and turns the right clock 90 degrees counter-clockwise (so that both clocks show “H” and that the “11’s” are pointed towards the “O”). Smoke with his expert safe-cracking abilities realizes that they are onto something because he can hear the tumblers falling into place but the vault still will not open. Realizing what it is he points out that it is not yet 11 o’clock and that the part will have to wait until the clocks read that time before the vault will open. Uncomfortable with waiting around in a dragon’s lair but unwilling to abandon their quest, the heroes settle down in a nervous vigil to wait for the vault to open.

Shortly after dawn, the heroes are wracked with a wave of dragonfear that immediately precedes the ancient dragon Moonshadow returning to his lair. Momentarily held in awe by the creature’s size and majesty, before anyone can even move, the beast unleashes a magical attack that traps Alkorahil in a block of ice. The attack spurs the rest of the party into action. Something about the dragon (other than its massive power and size) is bugging Kriv and Madrakkar. Madrakkar’s eyes widened in alarm when he suddenly realizes what it is. The shape of the fins and the curvature of the horns are off for a white dragon. Mads is sure that Moonshadow is a half-breed between a white dragon AND a black dragon. He shouts a warning to the rest of the party and his suspicious are confirmed moments later when the dragon unleashes its breath weapon. The heroes that are caught in the blast are subjected to the agonizing pain of frost burn from the cold of the attack and then feel a burning sensation again when the frost from breath weapon melts into acidic droplets. Summoning their courage, the heroes fight back. Madrakkar is able to shield has allies at least partially from the effects of the dragon’s magical cold using his Mass Resist spell. He blasts the dragon with a fireball straight to one of its claws that catches it on fire and causes Moonshadow to roar with pain. Tsol lands a series of vicious strikes that open up several large wounds in the dragon’s hide and damages the dragon’s other claw. Barkus and Smoke pitch in and the combined efforts of the heroes leaves the mighty dragon in a blinded and dazed heap on the ground. Moonshadow throws a small tantrum, thrashing about wildly in pain and anger. He says, “Curse her! Curse the voice! When I first came here her voice was my sweet lullaby. Then nothing for so long. Finally she speaks to me again and tells me why not go out tonight and enjoy the sweet meat of a tender sacrifice. Then I find my sacrifice ruined and return here to find adventurers in my lair. She tricked me! But I’ll show her! Are you afraid of the dark manlings?” With that the dragon summons his magic and cloaks himself in a sphere of absolute darkness. The attacks of the heroes falters. Caught within the sphere and blinded by the magical darkness, Tsol falls as the dragon rips into him with one powerful attack after another. Hearing the sounds of his ally being ripped to pieces, Madrakkar desperately tries to dispel the darkness but he is not able to overcome the magic of the ancient dragon. From up above the party hears a “SCREEE” as Kriv’s Griffon Peter (who bravely followed the dragon back to its lair) flies in from above and joins the fight. Emboldened by the return of his mount, Kriv bravely enters the aura of night and tries to battle the dragon or at least drive it away from Tsol but he too is slain by the dragon’s unrelenting attacks. Alkorahil finally manages to free himself from his prison of ice. Madrakkar calls out that someone must disrupt the dragon’s concentration to cause it to drop the spell or all is lost. Courageously Smoke leaves his hiding place and enters the sphere of darkness. With his drow senses he is much more able to deal with the lack of visibility than the rest of his allies. Although his fingers are numb with cold, Smoke is able to bull’s-eye Moonshadow with a shot the face from his crossbow which momentarily stuns the dragon. Moonshadow’s shield of darkness fails and the heroes renew their attacks. Shortly thereafter Barkus strikes the killing blow on the beast as it bleeds out from its multitude of wounds. The heroes inspect the bodies of Tsol and Kriv and find that they have both perished in the fighting. Peter sadly nudges his master’s hand. Suddenly Alkorahil’s sword, Dark Phoenix, begins to glow with pure radiant light. The entire party can hear its voice in their heads. “I sense that great events are unfolding that will impact the lives of many people. As the former angel of the god of life I may yet be able to the rebirth the souls of those that died so valiantly in service of those lives.” The entire group momentarily sees a large phoenix manifest standing above the bodies of the slain. Kriv and Tsol only know that it is cold, very cold where they were and then they are warm. They sit up as life returns to their bodies and their wounds heal. The light of the sword dims. Alkorahil hears the voice of Dark Phoenix in his head. In a weak and tired voice it tells him that it can never do anything like that again.

Finally at 11AM the door to Bitriarch’s Vault opens. Inside is a large device that vaguely reminds the party of the Start Sextant, due to its size, mechanical nature, and cosmic theme. Madrakkar sense right away that massive magical power running through the device. Miniature representations of the sun, the planet, and the moon can clearly be identified as part of the device’s mechanism and the adventurers note that the moon appears to be in the correct position relative to current events (new moon). The device lays inanimate and the party can see no clear way to turn it on or operate it.
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The adventurers investigate the rest of the vault and find that the only other contents are some tapestries lining the walls. The scenes woven into all but one the tapestries all seem to show a common theme – the union of the sun and the moon.
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The last tapestry while it does contain images of the sun and the moon seems to depict some central angelic figure. Other creatures in the picture seem to be connected by images of the sun and the moon and then reach out to touch the central figure. Above the figure, planets seem to swirl together in a circle of energy and below the figure several animals seem to watch the angel intently. There is a sudden thrum of energy that the heroes can feel all the way to their bones. The device starts to slowly move and then begins to pick up speed. As the device moves so too do the pictures in the tapestries – seeming to gain speed to their movements at the same rate as the device. Caught at ground zero of a powerful magical effect, all of the heroes black out from the release of magical energy. Just before they black out they think that they can hear the sound of laughter.
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The heroes are awoken by Childa’s voice coming through the sending stone asking if they are there. Apparently something miraculous has happened. Inexplicably the moon has moved in front of the sun to form a full solar eclipse. The party stands up to look around and comprehension dawns as they look at the device. Sure enough, the position of the moon on the device has moved to a position that would cause a full solar eclipse in the area. Apparently the weapon has the power to move the orbit of the moon and turn day into night! Alkorahil runs outside the vault and checks the clocks. He sees that the party has been unconscious for about an hour as it is now noon. Patono excitedly breaks into the conversation speaking to the party through the sending stone. The eclipse will allow the elves to use the Star Sextant during the day for as long as the eclipse lasts. Also because of the optimal alignment of the stars right now the elves can open a portal to anywhere that they want. They plan to take advantage of this situation to reposition their forces and launch surprise attacks on strategic enemy positions. Apparently Narijo Coalhand, Vindicator of Strategy for the Ironfell Council, realized the same thing and immediatley ordered his army to assault New Sarshel. Alkorahil reminds everyone of the vision of the future that he saw in the time lab. The battle for New Sarshel and the fate of Impiltur has begun! Patono uses the Star Sextant to open a portal to the party’s location so that they can return to Gray Forest and then be redeployed to battle. The heroes step through the familiar portal generated by the Star Sextant and arrive somewhere unexpected…

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Level 18
A Tale of Three Kingdoms

Summary: The actions of the heroes impacts the destinies of three different kingdoms
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Takes place 2nd-4th of Nightal (The Drawing Down) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

After their destruction of the Demontower, the adventurers are officially recognized as heroes by the sovereignty of Impiltur. They are knighted by the crown in a highly public ceremony and many parades and parties follow. Legend of their many deeds in service to the realm circulate throughout the good people of the kingdom. They are the ones that found and rescued the Moon Elves in the Gray Forest. I know! The Moon Elves and their Star Sextant are our closest allies now. I love the story of how they recovered the king’s sword. Forget that! I love the story of how they found king Ryu. They are king-makers! I hear they kicked Szass Tam’s ass. As a group, the party cannot move about the city without drawing much fanfare. Even when travelling individually in public, the heroes attract throngs of well-wishers unless they take care to disguise themselves. In the weeks that follow each of the adventurers deals with their new found celebrity in their own way.

  • Alkorahil with his blazing charisma should have been the most beloved hero in the history of Impiltur. However the citizens can sense and are uncomfortable with his current undead status. Most of the populace shies away from him. He hears whispers to the effect of, “Poor thing. I hear he took a curse while rescuing the king. I hope he finds a way to remove it.” A number of new followers of Oghma arrive to help support the information exchange with the Moon Elves and they too are nervous around Alkorahil. The day-to-day operations of the Oghmans are overseen by Brother Thomas and Alkorahil is often seen walking alone holding philosophical conversations with his sword.
  • Bahardim’s status as a noble Count is reaffirmed by King Ryu and his holdings are expanded (many nobles were stripped of their titles for their support of the demon-cult during the civil war). Ryu lets him know that unlike the roguish dwarves of Kara-Tur (the Korobokuru) he prefers the more hard-working dwarves of the western realms – especially Bahardim. As the only Count in the realm to know him as the gruff minister of security before he became a king, Ryu relies on Bahardim to “tell it to him straight.” Bahardim is very busy putting his clan in order and doesn’t have time for much adventuring. He is also a little worried about Childa who has become obsessed with studying Bitriarch’s journal that was found in the Demontower as she believes that it could hold the key to finding the whereabouts of her missing father.
  • Kriv is invited to a private audience with King Ryu. Ryu once again apologizes for allowing himself to be forced into a position where he had to dismiss the services of the Brotherhood of the Griffon. He thanks Kriv for his continued service to the kingdom even after his company was dismissed. Ryu also tells Kriv that he has seen how important it is to have forces in his army that can fly. Kriv is charged with assembling this “air force”, officially promoted to the rank of Admiral, and given a position and a voice on Impiltur’s war council.
  • Madrakkar is surprised to find that in addition to his throngs of new admirers he has inherited a new apprentice. A young girl about 10 years old named Waverly begins tagging along with Mads and somehow everyone knows her as his apprentice. In conversations with Waverly, he finds that she knows very little magic (just a few cantrips), but her greatest skill is: History of his Adventures. Waverly constantly asks Madrakkar to regale her with stories of his exploits and even when she has the good sense to leave him alone he sometimes still finds her telling his stories to others. She delights in correcting others on the details of the stories (“No the pit opened by the wand of wonder was 30 feet wide not 20 feet”). Mads is not even sure where his #1 fan disappears to (if she has a home or family) when not hanging around him because she keeps turning the conversation around to talk about him.
  • Smoke adopts a new secret identity that is the celebrated demon-slayer adored by the masses. When not maintaining the disguise, he still takes time to keep up with his network of spies and informants. Those in the shadow-community that are in the know tell him, “You are keeping with awfully famous company these days Smoke.” His former-patron Count Adamas has returned to the north to defend his lands from the invading Warlock Knights of Vaasa with instructions for Smoke to wait for his new assignment from the King.
  • Tsol is well-respected by the people but still not exactly approachable. He is a scary-looking, big, Minotaur Barbarian after all. Still, soldiers salute when he walks by and villagers nod respectfully at his passing.

Nearly a month after the destruction of the Demontower the heroes hear of some trouble up north. The whole of the Impilturan military aside from the city garrisons is committed to stopping the advance of the invading forces of the Warlock Knights of Vaasa. The enemy advance has been stymied at the Icehilt River but recent developments have occurred that make the commanders believe they may be in danger of getting overrun. If the enemy gets past the defenders then they will have free run to terrorize the country-side until they decide to lay siege to the cities. In the wake of the civil war with the demon-cult, Impiltur desperately needs time to recover and make alliances. The heroes are dispatched to investigate and give what aid they can to helping defend the battle-lines at the river.
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The adventurers find Count Adamas in command of the military forces as he the lord of the northern fiefdom of Impiltur. It is strange for the heroes to see him absent from his companion Count Morton who is away preparing the defenses for his own lands. However the group is surprised to see him in the company of two figures that they do know – Sevenia, the seer from Nall, and Barkus, a fellow adventurer that also had his memory erased by Malrite. Together they fill the party in on the situation. The original battle lines between the forces of Vaasa and Impiltur was naturally drawn here at the river. Vaasa tried to advance more forces to break the stalemate but their supply train was broken by a daring midnight assault using the Star Sextant to out position and surprise the enemy. Vaasa has since learned from this setback and now sets maximum fortification on their forces during the night. Vaasa again tried end the deadlock by moving forces through the Earthspur Mountains but they were turned away by Barkus and his group of hillmen guerilla fighters. Now the winter snows have set in and the mountain passes are blocked by ice until the spring thaw. Meanwhile the armies played a game of cat and mouse up and down the river as the Vaasans tried to find a way to outmaneuver their way past the blocking army. The enemy was turned away at every attempt. A few weeks ago they inexplicably settled in their current location which put the defenders adjacent to the Firefly Swamp. A day after the armies arrived at their current locations, a school of large, rainbow-colored fish came swimming down the river from the direction of the swamp. The soldiers rushed out to look at them but their commanders managed to get them back in formation just in the nick of time. The fish locked their bodies together to form a living, rainbow-bridge across the river. At the same time, almost as if they were coordinating with the fish, the Warlock Knights launched a vicious assault and tried to use the bridge to cross the river. The defenders barely managed to turn them back and do enough damage to the fish to break up their formation. A week later, a gigantic lion made of magma with a mane of fire came out of the swamp and attacked the soldiers of Impiltur. Again, at the exact same time the Warlock Knights mounted an attack. By this time Sevenia had joined the army and her mystical divination through her tarot cards had warned of the attack. Using some quick thinking, a mage in the army used an illusion of a giant mouse to lure the lava lion into the river amidst the attacking army. The assault formation was disrupted and turned aside and the lava lion got stuck in the ice-cold waters of the river and slowly turned into volcanic rock. With both dangers having come from the swamp, the 5th legion of Impiltur was dispatched to investigate. Composed of fifty of the finest rangers and outdoorsman in all of Impiltur, this legion was a natural choice for the job. It has been nearly a week a no word has been heard from the legion. Adamas and Sevenia are worried that another bizarre attack from the swamp is imminent and ask the heroes to pick up the legion’s trail and investigate. Barkus offers his assistance to the party as well.

Before embarking on their journey, Sevenia offers to divine the group’s fortune with her tarot cards. She turns over:
1) The Emperor: A figure representing power and authority. As the first card he represents the start or beginning of the chain of events
2) The Devil: Another powerful figure next to the emperor representing temptation and vice.
3) The 5 of Swords (upside down): Sevenia states the believes that this represents the fall of the 5th legion
4) Justice: As the fourth card Sevenia states that this card represents the present (all of the previous cards were in the past). The card has an image of king holding a sword in one hand and scales of balance in the other. Sevenia tells the group that king represents King Ryu and Impiltur and that the heroes are his sword sent here to balance the situation that sits on the precipice of disaster.
5) The 4 of Pentacles: Sevenia tells the band of heroes that the fifth card is where their future prophecy begins. The card has an image 4 golden discs with elaborate symbols in red painted on them. Sevenia tells the party that they represent 4 items of great worth or perhaps wealth in a multiple of 4 that will play an important role in their future.
6) The King of Swords: Sevenia tells the party that this represents a ruthless warlord or tyrant that rules by force of arms. She believes that as the heroes represent the sword of the king that they are destined to clash with the King of Swords.
7 & 8) The Sun and the Moon. Sevenia turns over the Sun card and then is astonished to see that the Moon card is stuck to it. She is stunned as she has never before miscast a fortune. With eight cards drawn she has no way of interpreting what meaning this has regarding the heroes’ future.

The band of heroes enter the swamp and prepare to track down the 5th legion, reasoning that if they find them then they may garner some clue as to what they are up against. Shortly after they enter the swamp they are forced to stop. All of their mounts are showing signs of disturbance, aggression, and madness. Kriv’s griffon Peter looks his partner in the eye and with the unspoken bond between rider and mount tells him, “I’m a danger to you if I stay here. I have to go. Sorry.” Next the adventurers uncork their ship-in-a-bottle and try flying over the swap. They make good time for a few hours and then spy a storm on the horizon. They try going around it but unnaturally shifts course to block their path. The storm looks as if is approaching hurricane-force winds and unwilling to risk flying in that type of weather the party lands the ship. Oddly when the storm does reach the party in is greatly reduced in strength and only hits them with a mild rain shower. Deducing that both of the obstacles so far were nature-based, Madrakkar summons his phantom steeds which are composed of pure magical energy. The steeds move unnaturally fast over the difficult swampy terrain without hindrance and the party makes good time tracking down the legion.

The heroes find the bodies of the legion strewn about an area of the swamp. They have obviously died in some type of battle as they have their weapons drawn and appear to have died in great agony. As the heroes move closer to investigate they are attacked. They encounter a gigantic, plant-like monster with a yellow head like a daffodil only with more teeth. The plant-monster uses a combination of animate vines, roots, and spores, to animate the dead rangers and uses them to attack the party. The monster and the corpses laden with its poisonous, caustic offshoots try to kill the heroes. The heroes deduce that most plant monsters dislike fire. Using fiery attacks and a combination of old-fashioned hack and slash they manage to kill the plant. During the fighting they notice a giant peacock on the periphery of the battlefield that seems to be watching them. They notice that when it eyes blink all of the feathery eyes in its plumage seem to blink as well. After the fighting is over and they go to investigate the peacock vanishes in a puff of blue smoke.
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Next the adventurers travel to the lizardman village that Tsol and Alkorahil remember from their previous visit to Firefly Swamp. Alkorahil reasons that perhaps whatever is happening in the swamp is threatening the lizardmen also and perhaps they know more information. The party finds the village oddly deserted. The only sign that they find of the villagers is a bunch of humanoid-sized lizard-tails. This sparks childhood memories of several of the heroes as they remember chasing lizards and having their tails come off. There are no tracks leading into or away from the village which the heroes also find is odd. Alkorahil and Tsol note that on their last visit to the swamp the forces of nature seemed to help them find and aid Ian Silvermane but on this visit the forces of nature seem arrayed against them. They decide to head across Icemelt Lake to the ruins where they last encountered Ian. Tsol is also interested in revisiting the Hall of Heroes now that his memory is returned.

The party is still riding the phantom steeds which can run across water but they decide to tie a couple of longboats from the village behind them just in case they encounter any trouble while on the lake. About 400 yards from the shore of the ruins they spot a small stretch of land with a topical palm tree growing on it. Kriv sends his eagle to fly over the palm tree to scout it out and notices that the land it is resting on doesn’t look like dirt it looks like part of a gigantic shell. The party tries to circle around the obstacle but it starts moving towards them. It looks like they might outrun the danger but then suddenly a large boulder comes skipping across the lake and takes out Madrakkar’s mount dumping him into the ice-cold water. The heroes circle back to help him as a gargantuan dragonturtle rises out of the water to attack. During the fighting several more large boulders come skipping across the lake taking out more of the adventurer’s phantom steeds. Madrakkar manages to retrieve the ship-in-the-bottle and get it airborne. The rest of the party eventually manages to climb aboard and out of the dragonturtle’s reach. Alkorahil’s keen eyesight spots two child-sized figures standing on the shoreline and it appears one is skipping stones that grow larger and faster with each hop and are turning into the boulders which are striking the party. The other figure appears to be cheering the first on with much fist-pumping and victory-dancing.
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By the time the characters arrive at the ruins the two figures are gone. The party immediately notices one of the large, stone ziggurats which is much different than the others in the ruins. It is in much better repair, painted gold, and appears to have blinking lights on it. Alkorahil and Tsol note that that building was not here the last time that they visited the ruins. As the party gets closer to the ziggurat they notice that there a bunch of cartoonish pictures adorning it including some that they recognize like the lava lion. The lights are actually hordes of fireflies that have been placed in large glass containers. Warily the party enters the building…

The heroes find the inside of the ziggurat to be even more strange than on the outside. The scene could best be described as a child’s wonderland overstuffed with all types of amusements for young boys. The floor was cluttered with model warships, animated toy soldiers, marbles, balls, life-sized robots, and stuffed animals. Around the room the party spotted a bowl full of fruit-shaped candy that was the size of real fruit, a telescope, a catapult, a giant gold coin, a coconut tree containing a small tree house, an ant-farm, a target riddled with frisbee-sized throwing stars, and a bunk bed. Stacked in one corner of the room were a pair of floating broomsticks. Amidst the chaos the adventurers also spotted the peacock from the earlier encounter laying still and inanimate. Seated in the center of the room sitting cross-legged on a bed of plush, red cushions was a small child. The child was perhaps 6-8 years old and much more dark-skinned than the typical children of Impiltur. He wore a simple golden-orange robe. Standing next to the cushions was a spindly creature perhaps 2 feet tall. The figure was dressed in flamboyant clothes including a wide-brimmed hat with a feather in it. He wore one black, velvet glove on his left hand and carried a tiny rapier in his right. “See”, he said to the child in a squeaky voice, “I told you they were going to come and try to punish you and take away your toys. I’ll get rid of them for you.” The tiny figure gestured around the room and many of the larger “toys” became animated and began attacking the heroes. Combat ensued and the party was attacked by: a steam-powered robot with a spear and an electric-charged shield, an ape with a cybernetic-brain that was shooting a nail-gun, a humanoid-elephant painted to look like a clown (including a red, rubber ball on the end of its trunk), and a catapult firing goblinoids that were wearing spiked, metal helmets and cloth “wings”. During the fight the impish creature also conjured a giant, black hand composed of inky darkness. Madrakkar assessed the magic of the giant hand hoping that he could dispel it. He found that the nature of the conjuration was unholy and not magical, then quickly deduced based on the symbology that the imp must be an agent of Bane. As the adventurers chased the imp around the room they learned that his name was Fistem. Fistem continually called the adventurers “bad people” and accused them of trying to “hurt his pal” and “break his toys”.

While the heroes battled heroically against Fistem and his army of dangerous toys, Alkorahil approached the boy sitting in the center of the room. The child watched the events unfolding with wide, curious and frightened eyes. Alkorahil pulled out a fairy puppet from his gear and offered it to the child as a gift. Using his telepathic powers, Alkorahil communicated with the child:
Alkorahil: “Bad guys don’t bring you toys do they? I want to give this nice toy to you as a gift. I like your toys. Maybe we can play with them together? I am much more fun to play with. I have other toys we could play with together. What is your name?”
Child: The child replied mentally, “I like gifts. My friend Ian gave me a gift once but it made some people mad. Why do you break my toys? Are they bad? My name is Hucan.”
Alkorahil: “Hello Hucan, nice to meet you. My name is Alkorahil. Can we be friends? Your toys are hurting my friends. That is bad. If your toys stopped hurting my friends maybe they could be friends with you too and they could play with you.”
Child: “Hi Alkorahil. I didn’t mean to hurt anybody. I know hurting people is bad. My friend Fistem said we were just having fun.”
Alkorahil: “Fistem likes to hurt people and not make friends. I am friends with you and he tried to hurt me. Fistem is also hurting my friends I brought with me to play with you. The funny looking cow-man knew Ian Silvermane too. Doesn’t the cow-man look funny? I bet you would like playing with him too.”
As Alkorahil befriended Hucan, the power that was animating the deadly toys began to fail. Springs and gears popped off some while stuffing began spilling out of others. The rest of the heroes were able to push past the dwindling animations and Tsol succeeded in landing a vicious blow against Fistem which cut him in two. As the miniscule body split apart, the heroes could see the shadow of a gigantic beast escape from within and then fade into the shadows. From somewhere unseen, the squeaky voice of Fistem morphed into a booming baritone that said, “Curse you meddling fools. I will make you pay for this.” Alkorahil asked Hucan, “Where did he go? Is he playing hide and seek? Can you tell me where he is? This might be a fun game would could play together.” But Hucan could not detect his former playmate any longer and told Alkorahil this before he too faded away.

Shortly thereafter Hucan reappeared to the heroes in the form of a translucent, mental image. Behind him in the image, seated in a semicircle of wicker chairs, were a number of adults that shared the same dark-skinned hue as the child. The figure seated in the central chair spoke to the party. “On behalf of Hucan” we would like to thank you. He went on to explain that he and those seated around him are the Wise-council of the Hucan Empire. Central to the empire is “Hucan the Saffron Son”, a child that is born once every 1,000 years who is one with the empire and has the power to control all within its borders. Earthwood, Icemelt Lake and Firefly Swamp are all encompassed within the domain of the realm but fell into ruin when the previous Saffron Son was assassinated long ago. Since then, the remnants of the empire have hidden within the depths of Earthwood, waiting for the return of the next child. Alkorahil recalled that Ian Silvermane ventured into the ruins to view an event that supposedly happened once every 1,000 years and wondered how it relates to Hucan. The elder tells him that Ian stumbled upon their sacred ceremony where the child is vested with the power to command the realm. Each wise-man on the council must present the child with a gift that is symbolic of the aspect of power that Hucan gains. When Ian stumbled upon their ceremony and was asked to give the child a gift, he gave him his famous wide-brimmed explorers hat. The hat, as a symbol of his spirit of discovery and adventure, passed those aspects onto the boy. This alarmed the wise-men because previously the Saffron Son had always intrinsically known his path, following the will of the council, but now he had been given the power to choose his own destiny. Alkorahil pointed out that Ian had been attacked because of this act which caused a sad look on the faces of Hucan and the elders. The lead councilor tells the party that Ian had been attacked by Texotl the wise-man over the domain of spirituality and the dead. He says that Texotl’s actions were regrettable but that the councilor of the dead reacted only as his nature dictated. The heroes note that there is an empty chair among the council and ask of Texotl’s current whereabouts. They are told that Texotl last reported that he had been feeling ill and even Hucan cannot detect his location. Because of Ian’s gift, the council says that Hucan’s upbringing has been especially difficult as the child now displays a large independent streak. This made him susceptible to the influence of the devil Fistem who was able to partially corrupt the child. While Hucan never intentionally hurt anyone, Fistem was able to abuse his innocence and use some of his creations to cause destruction to the forces of Impiltur. Now that the child has learned his lesson thanks to the intervention of the heroes, they are confident that the threat has been ended. Dark Phoenix tells Alkorahil that it is pleased to the see the “hatching” of a new force for good in the world. The party realizes that Hucan and Fistem represented The Emperor and The Devil from Sevenia’s prophecy. They inquire if the council has any knowledge of the 4 of Pentacles. They are informed that the building where they found Ian on their previous visit to the ruins is known as the “Hall of Heroes”. The temple contains four gemstones that hold the spirits of ancient heroes of the Hucan Empire and this may be what they are looking for.
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The party enters the “Hall of Heroes” noting some flying frogs hovering in the nearby trees. Tsol is most anxious to revisit the ziggurat as he now recognizes it as museum consecrated to the memory of his ancestor Targore and his companions who were heroes of the ancient Hucan Empire. As the adventurers near the central altar it descends into the bowels of the building and then rises again shortly thereafter bearing four heart-shaped gemstones. Red light emanates from the gems and washes over the party. They are immersed in the spirits of Targore’s companions and begin seeing fond memories of the minotaur from their perspectives. Alkorahil finds himself in a vision of Peqod the mage where Targore and other undesirables of the ancient Hucan Empire are chained before the ancient council of wise-men. He (Peqod/Alkorahil) gives an impassioned speech which convinces the council that these criminals should be given a chance to work off their debt to the Empire so that they may yet find the chance to become heroes. Barkus and Smoke find themselves in the memories of the twin tricksters Silas and Salis when they first met Targore. One of the brothers challenged the minotaur to a drinking contest. Unbeknown to him, they would switch places whenever he was distracted. Madrakkar also finds himself in the role of Peqod, this time right after the ancient heroes have slain the demon Xonox. He uses his magic to fuse one of the demon’s horns with fire magic so that Targore has an enchanted horn like his best friend, Ijax the frost giant. Tsol and Kriv find themselves lost in the memory of the plainsman Dogun’s return to his homeland for his long-delayed wedding day. They arrive to find Dogun’s betrothed in the clutches of a clan rival. Dogun challenges his rival, to a chariot battle for his woman’s freedom. The night before the battle Dogun’s horses are poisoned. Then the rival arrives to the challenge having summoned Kilrosh the Nightmare Horselord to be his steed. It looks like Dogun is going to have to forfeit when Targore offers to pull his chariot. Tsol finds himself cast in the role of his ancestor Targore as he pulls the chariot and fights off the nightmare with his bare hands while Dogun/Kriv battle the rival furiously from the chariot.

Startlingly in the midst of the visions, the link to the spirits is broken by the sound of Peter screeching a warning and desperately trying to claw his way into the building. The heroes realize that they are about to be ambushed by Texotl and his gang of macabre undead. They also discover that their minds had been merged in the shared psychic connection with the gemstones and that the hasty disconnection has swapped their minds into different bodies. The party struggles to adjust to fighting with different bodies and powers as they fend off the attack from the undead. Texotl lets them know that there is something about the “Hall of Heroes” that blocks scrying attempts which is why he could not locate Ian when he was hiding out here. That same feature is also what allows him to hide from the Saffron Son who will have no knowledge of what transpires in here. Texotl is furious that the heroes prevented him from “feasting on Ian’s soul” last time they were here which somehow would have given him a level of influence over Hucan. Texotl tells the party that he will “eat their hearts.” Kriv finds a way to open the roof of the temple and let his faithful Griffin in. Even so, the heroes are in danger of getting overpowered until their minds switch back to their correct bodies and turns the tide of the battle. In desperation, Texotl unleashes a vicious assault which knocks Kriv unconscious. Texotl is preparing to turn his evil, death magic (Kali ma, Kali ma) on Kriv but Barkus heroically pulls Kriv out of range. The rest of the party wear down Texotl and Peter delivers the killing blow that ends the necromancer.
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After the battle, Tsol now realizes that he knows the location of Targore’s village from the memories he shared with the ancient heroes. He is disappointed that Targore’s Heart of the Hero is not among the others but the spirits tell him that Targore’s heart was broken when his best friend Ijax was killed. One last message from ancient heroes advise Tsol not to return to the village alone. “Targore (and Tsol) was always strongest when he stood together with his friends.” The heroes return to Hucan’s ziggurat to rest and plan their next move. They discover the answer to the mystery of what happened to the lizardman village. Among Hucan’s toys they find all of the inhabitants shrunken down to tiny size (sans tails) and placed into a miniature “ant-farm” replica of the village. While everyone is sleeping (except for Alkorahil who is on watch – but is distracted counting the number of straws on one of the flying broomsticks) Kriv is visited by an image of Hucan. The boy leads the dragonborn admiral to a patch in the tall grass by the coconut tree. There Kriv discovers a large caterpillar that wraps itself comfortably around his hand. The Saffron Son then leads Kriv to one of the large, glass canisters containing fireflies and gestures for him to open it. As the fireflies escape their confines, the caterpillar whips out several times and uncannily catches and eats several before snuggling up to Kriv and falling asleep. Kriv decides to name his new pet Kris. Barkus decides to return to the army and report on the status of their mission. The rest of the adventurers decide to accompany Tsol to his people’s village. The stars are not in the correct alignment to be able to use the Star Sextant so instead they decide to use their flying ship in a bottle to travel there. They carefully avoid any Vaasan military outposts in the occupied country of Damara and arrive at the village without incident.

Targore’s village rests on a large tundra under the backdrop of the mountains of the great glacier. Even though it is early winter, in the village there is already snow on the ground and the wind is bitter cold. As the adventurers scout it out they find that the village looks boarded up and deserted. Tsol suddenly recalls childhood memories of caves inside of the mountain where the villagers would go to wait out the cold of winter. Then the heroes smell wood smoke and follow it to a pair of minotaurs making camp in the middle of the village. When they see Tsol the younger one of them falls to his knees in awe. The older minotaur regards Tsol with more scrutiny and points out to him that he has all of Targore’s Regalia except for the axe – which will be a problem. The minotaur, whose name is Kaz, with the aid of the younger minotaur (once he gets over his initial hero-worship) explain the situation to the party. Tsol’s uncle, Tseken Reven, is still chieftain of the clan. He possesses Targore’s axe, which gives him the right to rule the clan but nobody has seen him wield it in a long time. This has caused some dissent among the people but Tseken rules over the clan with a tyrannical hand. Any that speak out against or disobey him are butchered without mercy. Even those he suspects of disloyalty, like Kaz, often time mysteriously disappear or are given nearly fatal assignments like guarding the village during the heart of winter. Tseken has returned the clan to the old ways and forces the people to worship the demonic entity known as Baphomet. Tseken himself has absorbed so much demonic energy that he has swelled to monstrous size. He also tells the party that a Warlock Knight of Vaasa has recently taken up residence with the clan and that Tseken plans on joining their cause after the winter has passed. Kaz believes that IF the heroes can defeat Tseken then the clan will follow Tsol. The heroes recall the 6th card from Sevenia’s prophecy is the King of Swords that she said they were destined to clash with. They ask Kaz to lead them to the entrance to the village’s mountain retreat and are not expectant of a peaceful resolution with Tseken.

The heroes tear through the clan’s defenses using the expert leadership of Alkorahil. He tells the party that in this type of military campaign where loyalties are already divided you must quickly and boldly confront the enemy leader before he can marshal his less loyal subjects into putting up resistance. Alkorahil uses his skeleton key to pick the lock to the portcullis guarding the front of the retreat. Clansmen that might have blocked their progress are supplicated with promises that the true heir to Targore has returned or intimidated into standing aside. Eventually in the maze-like caverns, the heroes run into some resistance from the hardcore supporters of Tseken. These include a cleric of Baphomet, his summoned demonic Goristro, the Warlock Knight, and Tsol’s cousin – Motar Reven. After a tough fight, the adventurers defeat their opposition and make their way to the throne room.

The ground floor of the throne room is empty except for Tseken. However, the balcony that rings the room is filled to capacity as the minotaurs of the clan press forward to watch the confrontation. Tseken sits upon an enormous throne. Flanking the throne are spiked poles that display the skulls of his most recently defeated enemies. A large pile of treasure is ostentatiously on display in a corner of the room. The tale of his size is true as the minotaur is larger than some giants that the adventurers have seen. The massive minotaur rises from his throne and speaks to Tsol, “I thought about asking you to join me, but I see that you have that same silly look of a dreamer that my bother did.” Then in typical minotaur fashion, enough had been said and it was time to charge into battle. Tsol, eagerly ready for the challenge, charges straight up to the throne and strikes Tseken with a violent swing from his axe. Unphased, the gigantic minotaur shoulders his way past Tsol and charges the back rank of the adventurers. Swinging an enormous club studded with spikes he hits several members of the party and sends them flying across the room to land in a heap. This draws murmurs and groans of concern from the audience. But the heroes fight back. Kriv slows up the minotaur with his net. Alkorahil shields his allies while calling down his defensive prayers. Smoke and Madrakkar blister their foe with hyper-accurate crossbow bolts and powerful spells. Finally, yelling a primal roar that deafens his enemy, Tsol delivers the killing stroke with a powerful blow of his axe that fells the demonic despot like a chopped-down tree. He reaches down and retrieves Targore’s Bloodhunt Axe of Execution from his uncle’s corpse. He swells with pride as the culmination to the quest his father began over twenty years ago has finally been fulfilled. To the roaring approval of the crowd Tsol holds the axe high above his head and proclaims himself heir of Targore and new chieftain of the clan.

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Level 17
Impilturan Demonslayers Part II: Demon Tower Demolition

Summary: The heroes use the crown to enter the Demon Tower of Tharos. After fighting their way to the top of the tower, they discover the source of the cult’s evil power – and destroy it.
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Demon Tower Demolition
Takes place 4th of Uktar (The Rotting) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

The heroes returned with the Moaning Crown of Ndulu to Impiltur. The civil war between the demon-cult and the forces of the monarchy raged on. The adventurers were saddened to learn of the dismissal of the Brotherhood of the Griffon from the ranks of the monarchy supporters. Apparently, the Brotherhood had been set up by the cult to look like they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians due to gross negligence and incompetence. Morale for the newly created Impilturan monarchy was tenuous, and Ryu was forced to dismiss their services rather than risk the loss of popular support for his campaign. Kriv agreed to stay with the party at least until the demon-cult had been destroyed. While the forces of the monarchy had achieved some success against the Fraternity of Tharos, ultimate victory could not be reached as long as the cultists could retreat back into their impregnable Demontower.
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The heroes prepared to enter the tower. Although the crown radiated pure evil, Ghryll bravely agreed to try and master it. As he placed the Moaning Crown on his head, Ghryll found out why it had that name. Cruel spikes protruded from it and dug into his skull. Ghryll pitted his will against the crown-wraiths contained within. As he won, the crown changed forms once again and this time yellowish-gold horns protruded from it to more closely match Ghryll’s radiant motif. The crown-wraiths were commanded to manifest and cloak the champions in their evil so that they could pass through the walls of the Demontower. As the rest of the party entered the tower, Tsol stubbornly refused to let his wraith merge with him. The wraith grew angry and told him that he could let himself into the tower then. In a burst of inspiration, Tsol blew his Horn of Demonfire and it opened a temporary hole in the wall (that was closing fast) which let him walk into the tower.

The party explored the first level of the Demontower. The interior of this level of the tower appeared to be that of a standard, non-magical keep or castle. On one of the walls they discovered a mural that depicted the ancient defeat of the demon Xonox by the Minotaur hero Targore and his companions. Eventually the party triggered an alarm and had to fight off wave after wave of cultists (not wizards!) and their bizarre, pet demons. The heroes managed to capture one of the cultists called Tattoo (so named because he was covered head-to-toe in tattoos of demons). In exchange foe his life and his freedom, Tattoo agreed not to commit any evil acts for a year and a day and also to tell the heroes what he knew about the tower. He went on to tell them that as the Demonstone fell into the possession of various demon-lords throughout the ages, each one of them had inscribed one of their true names into the stone. Thus, each level of the Demontower was beholden to a different demon. Because the Demontower was created from the power of the Demonstone, and the demon-names were inscribed into the stone, the names also appeared inscribed into the walls in various locations throughout the tower. To travel to a different level of the tower you had but to speak the demon’s name as it was inscribed on the Demonstone. The level of the tower that the heroes were on now once belonged to the demon Xonox. Because Xonox had been destroyed, the tower no longer held any of his power and therefore the level was used as neutral territory. The level was also used to house new or undeclared cult members like Tattoo. This also explained why Tsol’s Horn of Demonfire worked on the tower since it had been taken from the head of Xonox after he had been slain. Tattoo claimed he did not know which faction held the Demonstone or any of the other true-names of the demons. Ghryll consulted the crown-wraiths and they would not reveal any more information either. Tattoo told the party that only a skeleton crew of cultists remained in the tower (the rest were out fighting Ryu’s forces), but now that the alarm had been raised, they would surely start activating each level’s defenses. The adventurers searched the rest of the level and found the name of Adimarchus, demon-lord of madness, inscribed into one of the walls. They also discovered a secret passage and at the end of it hung a mask of a beautiful woman’s face. Madrakkar detected that placing a correct pattern of kisses on different locations of the mask (ending with the lips of course) would unseal another secret, magically-sealed chamber, behind the mask. Failure would result in a virulent poison that would almost certainly kill the kisser. The heroes deduced the correct pattern and opened the secret chamber. Inside was the inscribed-name of the demon-queen, Volisupula, Marchesa of Flensing. As the explorers reached out and touched the writing, a seductive, female voice spoke the correct enunciation of the name. The heroes chose to go this route, spoke the name, and were transported to her level of the Demontower.

The adventurers each arrived in a different chamber in Volisupula’s level. There they were presented with their darkest fantasies by female demons in the service of the Marchesa. For example, Alkorahil found himself in a hall of mirrors where a priestess presented him an image of his face restored from the decay of undeath and where each reflection was more handsome than the last. Tsol found himself in a hall of weapons where an amazon warrior told him that he could find Targore’s axe. Smoke arrived in a dimly lit bedchamber where several elven maidens pawed at his clothing and tried to undress him. Seductive demon-magic made it hard to resist the temptation. Some the characters managed to resist the spell while others fell under the demon’s influence. Eventually, either fighting a running battle or under Volisupula’s domination, all of the heroes ended meeting back up in the level’s main chamber. The chamber was an opulent, perfumed lounge, complete with plush pillows, extravagantly laid out feasts, and of course a large summoning circle. As the champions fought off the enchantment, the true forms of their seductresses were revealed. The worst of the bunch was Smoke’s temptress which turned out not to be several women as he thought in the midst of his feverish charms, but one demoness with six-arms. The Marilith and here sisters launched a vicious assault on the heroes. The champions of Impiltur managed to fight them off only after a hard won battle. Afterwards, the party tried to rest up, but was continually assailed by a host of small annoying demons that kept popping into the area and harassing them. With no choice but to move on, the adventurers searched the level for an exit. In the toilet chamber above one of the chamber-pots, the explorers discovered the inscribed-name of Juiblex, demon-lord of oozes and shapeless things and moved on to his level.
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The adventurers arrived together in a large room filled with row upon row of various colors of gelatinous cubes that were in the process of decomposing different types of matter. Throughout the level, slime ran down the sides of the walls and the air stank with noxious vapors. The party explored another room filled with enough chemicals, vials, beakers, furnaces, and vats to produce mass alchemical yields. Stacked in the corner they spied several kegs and recognized the markings on them from their adventure on the Glacier of the White Worm. The kegs contained the cult’s mindfilth weapon and the heroes surmised that this must be where it was mass-produced from. After they had wrecked the room to make sure that it could no longer be used to produce more of the vile poison, they moved on and found a lone cultist of Juiblex inside of a summoning chamber. Although there were no other cultists present, he was guarded by several demonic ooze horrors (blobs of animate, sentient filth with thousands of eyes) and plague hurlers (robed, faceless, demons). The cultist himself was dressed in a suit of armor that was a cross between chainmail and a medieval containment suit. He was in the middle of summoning a greater demon known as Morthak the Everhungry. The heroes managed to defeat his guardians and stop the ritual before the summoning could be completed. Afterwards they found a chamber that didn’t smell as bad because it had multiple clockwork-powered fans spinning to ventilate the fumes. Carved into one of the walls they found the name of the arch-demon, Azazel the betrayer – ruler of the level of the Abyss known as Outcasts’ End. Speaking the name the heroes moved onto the next level.

The heroes arrived in lavishly decorated antechamber. Through the open, ornate double doors in front of them, the party could hear the sound of several people in the middle of more demon summoning. Their path forward was already guarded by several Nalfeshnee and Hezrou demonic guardians. The arcane-gifted party members could tell that the ritual was nearing its conclusion and they desperately tried to fight their way through the demons. They succeeded and found themselves inside of cross between a demonic summoning chamber and a church. Expensive red carpet covered the floor except where the summoning circles were laid out. A vaulted ceiling soared overhead. High upon the walls were stained-glass windows depicting acts of depravity. Scattered around the room was treasure and finery stolen from the wealthy families of Impiltur by the cult. Standing behind altars inside of five different summoning circles, were five of the most senior and notorious members of the Fraternity of Tharos.

  • Count Banilt Bloodthorn: The Count had long been the main voice for the cult’s interests inside of the Grand Council. It was he that proposed the murder of the Moon Elves in order to steal their Star Sextant and had called into question Bahardim’s claim to his family title.
  • Creoughgha the Rogue Red Wizard: This Red Wizard had been part of the forces of the Zulkirs that had assaulted Szass Tam’s armies in Thay along with the Brotherhood of the Griffon. He deserted in the middle of battle when the fighting got tough.
  • Cajityb the Witch Doctor: The dark-skinned master of Voodoo had reportedly murdered over one hundred people in his home country before he was discovered and forced to flee overseas.
  • Vescha the Traitor: This former cleric of Ioun had become so intrigued by the lure of the forbidden knowledge of demon summoning that he began studying it in secret. When discovered, his ironic sentence was to be cast into the Abyss. Somehow he survived, escaped, and joined up with the Fraternity upon returning to Faerun.
  • Behroun Marhana: The head of the influential house Marhana and another former member of the Grand Council. Tavern talk had long held that magic of a sinister nature sustained the old man’s life. The wizened and little-seen man has been one of the founding members of the cult nearly eight years ago.

Lines of magical power laid out in the shape of a pentagram connected each of the villains and in the middle was none other than the partially-formed shape of the demon Ndulu. The heroes knew that disrupting the summoning this late into the ritual could have tragic consequences; possibly even letting the demon loose into the world with no restraints. However, Tsol could not control himself and he charged and killed the red wizard. This disrupted the bindings that were holding the demon into place but fortunately because the summoning was not yet complete he was only at partial strength. In a blind rage he struck out at both the heroes and cultists alike. In the ensuing chaos, the remaining cultists were killed and the party managed to inflict enough damage on Ndulu that he retreated back in the Abyss.
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The group tried to rest again but was once more hounded by irritating minor demons. The heroes searched the rest of the level and were disappointed to find that the Demonstone was not in the possession of these cult leaders nor was there any documentation on where it might be. Next to a grand, pipe-organ the party found the inscribed-name of the demonic mad scientist, Haagenti. When the heroes reached out and touched the inscription, a raspy, metallic voice spoke the correct enunciation of the name. The heroes repeated it and went on to face their next challenge.

Haagenti’s layer had no individual halls or rooms but instead was one gigantic, cylindrical chamber. The walls were made of sterile, brushed metal. The air smelled faintly of rubbing alcohol and burnt ozone. Scattered around the room were various half-finished, clock-work experiments, alchemical distillation setups, partially dissected demon corpses, shelves of books, and even a functioning ballista. The party arrived in the exact center of the room in the middle of a bizarre experiment. They were standing next to an engineering device of some type that was connected by a series of pulleys and levers to a mechanical claw suspended overhead. At their feet lay a recently deceased cultist that looked like he had committed suicide by driving a dagger into his brain. Interconnected, runic, containment areas containing all different types of demons surrounded them. Beyond the demons, floating above its own runes of suppression floated a Sphere of Annihilation. The sphere was about two feet in diameter, absolutely black, and composed of complete nothingness. On the exact polar-opposite side of the room floated a pearly-white sphere that was similar in size. This was another powerful artifact known as the Eye of Tyr. As the heroes watched, the eye fired off a white-hot ray of judgment that completely disintegrated one of the demons. Then from the other side of the room, the Sphere of Annihilation let off a wave of irresistible, gravitational attraction that pulled one of the demons out of its containment area and into the sphere – destroying the demon instantly. The heroes quickly realized that if left unchecked, the artifacts would destroy everything in the room including themselves. Also the destructive pace of the artifacts was increasing! Taking a closer look at the demons in the room, the adventurers began to realize that many of them manifested a single, primary, elemental theme. Looking further, they deduced a pattern in the containment areas – the primary elements of earth, air, fire, and water were in the middle. Towards the Sphere of Annihilation, the negative reflections of the elements (tar, vacuum, ash, and salt) were contained. Towards the Eye of Tyr, the positive reflections of the elements (gold, lightning, radiance, and bubbles) were contained. The heroes identified the gaps in the pattern where the artifacts had destroyed the demons that were representative of an element. Two of the other containment areas contained a myriad number of other demons of different types. The arcane members of the party also noticed that the overhead-claw contained powerful magical runes to stun and capture a demon. Using the levers to operate the crane, the heroes used the “replacement” demons and some of Madrakkar’s elemental magic to repopulate the holes the elemental pattern and re-stabilize the containment for the artifacts.
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With the danger averted, the party realized that the containment fields surrounding them provided perfect protection from roving demons and were finally able to take an extended rest. Afterwards, the explorers investigated the room. On one of the bookshelves they found the ancient journal of the famous, dwarven, architect, Bitriarch, and realized that it may contain the information they needed to finally locate his vault. Inscribed in one of the walls, they also found the name of the demon-lord Demogorgon. However, after solving some “demon-math” written on a chalk-board, it split open for the heroes revealing the emblazoned name of Orcus, demon-prince of the undead. The party anticipating the end of their quest was nearing as legends told that Orcus had been the original demon to possess the Demonstone. The heroes boldly repeated the demon’s marked name and entered his level of the Demontower.

Orcus’s level of the tower stank of undeath. The tiling of floor was composed entirely of various types of tombstones. The party arrived in the middle of an open area where three spotlights shone down on them from high above. Just outside the light, the champions could make out the gaunt features of an army of zombies. From somewhere out in the darkness a voice boomed, “Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, please direct your attention to the center ring for tonight’s entertainment.” With that, the heroes were attacked. They recognized their assailants as former members of the Lucky Stilt Circus, which had gone missing shortly after the war with the fraternity first started. Now, many of the performers were horrible, undead, twisted mockeries of their former selves. The servants of Orcus included the Ringleader, the Ventriloquist and his dummy, an undead Concession Vendor serving up human body parts, Clowns, the grossly obese Big Big Bertha, and Bobo the undead dancing bear. As the heroes marshaled their might against the abominations, the undead “audience” cheered on the former circus members. Somewhere in the background, organ grinder music hysterically played – up-tempo, off-key, and completely out of control. Finally the heroes prevailed against the undead circus and then dispersed the minor undead. They discovered several cultists among their number that had apparently lost control of their creations, been killed by them, and had been reanimated by the terrible undead power emanating from this level. The characters explored the rest of the level and were disappointed to find no mention of the Demonstone anywhere. Inside of a mausoleum-like room they found the name of Graz’zt, demonic master of manipulation and diplomacy. Figuring he must be the mastermind behind the formation of the fraternity, the adventurers spoke his inscribed name and moved on to his level.

The heroes arrived in room that was laid out like a giant chessboard. Alternating sections of white and black marble formed a checkered pattern on the floor. On the opposite side of the room, eight Mezzodemons occupied the pawn positions on the floor. Stone-skinned demons with stubby rings of horns atop their heads that looked vaguely like castle-crenelations inhabited the rook positions. In the knight positions stood two gangly, green-skinned demons with horse-like heads. Standing in the bishop squares were two cloaked demons, each with seven upturned blade-like arms that dimly gave the impression of them praying. Standing in the king position manipulating the pieces on a miniature chessboard was a Piscodemon. Piscodemons were known to be master strategists in demonic armies. Strangely, the square that was normally reserved for the black queen chess piece was empty. The heroes each arrived in a square corresponding to one of the major chess pieces. The pawns on their “side” were various soldier-like, clockwork automatons. In the square that was normally reserved for the white queen was a pile of rubble that might have once been a beautiful marble statue of an empress. Brother Thomas translated the Abyssal graffiti written on some of the larger remaining pieces of debris and indicated that it was, “condemning the fickleness of women”. When the party arrived, the Moaning Crown of Ndulu was ripped from Ghryll’s skull by some unseen force and was floating in the white king’s square. Below it, they could see an indistinct, ghost-like image but could not make out any details. The enemies began moving and the game of demon-chess was on. The heroes quickly discovered that moving or attacking outside of the patterns restricted by their corresponding game pieces inflicted penalties in the form of excruciatingly painful psychic feedback. They could also issue commands to their “pawns” to move or attack. Any damage inflicted on one of the “kings” was shared by the entire side. Eventually, the heroes outmaneuvered their opponent and slew him which destroyed the rest of his forces.

The moaning crown changed shaped once again and elongated into a shape that the heroes had never seen it in before – blackened with a ring of long, sharp talons of steel. A spindly, demon dressed in dark armor materialized beneath it. His face was entirely masked.
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“Yes”, it whispered. “Finally I have the secrets to control Graz’zt and all of the others. Soon I will be unstoppable.” At first, the adventurers had to strain to hear the whispering voice, as if it was barely at the edge of their range of hearing. However as the demon continued to talk, although still a whisper, next its voice sounded as if it was coming from right next to their ear and then later, as if it were cutting across their very thoughts. The demon introduced himself as Tharos the Blameless – the Whisper in the Night, He that Lives Between the Folds of the Abyss, and Abides in the Blindside. He went on to explain that, “it was I who originally corrupted the Dwarfstone and changed it into the Demonstone. It was I who had originally crafted the Crown that corrupted the Nentyarchs. It was my servant Ndulu that recovered the pieces of the crown after it was broken. Both the Fraternity and the city bear MY name. As if some second-rate amateur like Graz’zt could accomplish that.” Tharos thanked the party for returning the Crown to him and for taking it on a tour through the other demon’s levels. Now that the crown-wraiths had learned the other demon’s inscribed names and whispered them to him, Tharos would use that information to wield power over them. With that being said, Tharos produced the Demonstone and used it to raise him and the heroes to the rooftop of the tower. He then ripped open a portal to the Abyss and used his new power to summon demonic aspects of Adimarchus (a ½ pink and ½ grey demon that was shaped like a humanoid-elephant and caused intoxication and madness), Volisupula (a queen bee demon that fired poisonous stingers and attempted to drop enemies off of the tower), Juiblex (a HIV demon made up from animate, diseased blood), and Azazel (a Zovuut demon – a former angel that was corrupted by the power of the Abyss) to do his bidding. The heroes were finally able to shake off the effects of Tharos’ mesmerizing words and fight back. During the opening rounds of the battle, they endured a blistering assault by the demonic forces as they pitted all of their willpower, arcane, and holy might against the portal in order to shut it down. Kriv’s griffon, Peter, swooped down out of the skies to fight along his partner. The heroes were pushed to the edge of falling off of the tower and to the edge of their limits but bravely battled back the forces of chaos. Finally, the death blow was dealt to Tharos, splitting his face and his crown into two. As chaotic energy leaked out of the laceration in his skull, in his hand, the party noted cracks staring to form in the Demonstone. They also noted for the first time that the top of the Demontower seemed to be shaped similar to Tharos’ crown and that a fissure had formed in it as well. As Tharos’ head exploded, so did the top of the Demontower. The heroes leapt off it just ahead of the wave of energy. Kriv and Peter caught some of the party as they were falling and the rest floated safely to the ground under the power of Alkorahil’s Ring of Featherfall. As the champions landed, the frightened people of Impiltur emerged from their homes and cheered on the ruination of the Demontower. The legends had done the impossible and broken the fraternity’s base of power. With nowhere left to run and their symbol of power ruined, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the demon-cult was defeated.

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Level 16
Impilturan Demonslayers Part I: Welcome to Demon City

Summary: The heroes are tasked with their most difficult mission yet – to remove the stain of the demon- cult from the nation. They travel to the demon-infested city of Dun Tharos to retrieve the evil relic, the Moaning Crown of Ndulu.
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Welcome to Demon City
Takes place 1st-3rd of Uktar (The Rotting) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

After having his heritage explained to him and feeling that he had discharged his obligations to the Emperor, Ryu agreed to accompany the heroes back to Impiltur. In their absence, the members of the Grand Council that were still loyal to the monarchy had begun circulating rumors of the return of the king. The Greatsword of Impiltur was placed on guarded display in the Capital building of New Sarshel and each day, three individuals that wished to lay claim to the throne were invited during common assembly to draw the sword and try to unlock its power. When the heroes returned with Ryu and presented him to the assembly, members of the Fraternity of Tharos summoned a Balor, a powerful demon, to try and kill them. Ryu drew the Greatsword, and unleashing its full power as only a true heir to the Impilturan line-of-kings could, slew the Balor with one strike. He was immediately recognized as king by all those assembled and his first act was to declare all cultists and demon summoners enemies of the state with their lives and lands being forfeit.

Thus began a great civil war of Impiltur between the nobles and populace that were still loyal to the monarchy versus those that were under the cult’s influence. As forces clashed all over the countryside and the death and destruction began to pile up, the party was assembled to try and figure out how to land a critical blow against the Fraternity. The problem was that the Demontower, the main headquarters and base of operations for the cultists was within sight of the capital building and all but impregnable. The heroes were introduced to Smoke, a spy that had been working in the employ of Count Gozem Adamas, and he presented the following report:

FRATERNITY OF THAROS
The demon cult currently running wild in Impiltur is called the Fraternity of Tharos. The group takes its name from the ancient Nar capital of Dun Tharos in the Great Dale’s northern forest, Dunwood. The name also reveals the source of Impiltur’s demonic contamination, the demons loosed in that northern forest. The fraternity inducts new members by requiring them to kidnap an innocent victim (usually a child) from among Impiltur’s populace, and then slay that victim in a bloody ritual calling upon various demonic names inscribed with fire in the Demonstone. The Demonstone lies at the top of a windowless tower in New Sarshel. The tower’s exterior is a bland, unexceptional gray; its interior is filled with all manner of demonic horrors. The tower has no doors either. All attempts to pierce the towers defenses have failed. Only fraternity members that have completed the ritual are able to enter.

THE DEMONSTONE
The tower is generated by a powerful artifact known as the Demonstone. Formerly known as the Dwarfstone, the ancient artifact was once a power for the forces of good. The stone was capable of creating a tower that could only be entered by the pure of heart. A demon (most agree Orcus) tricked one of the occupants of the tower into giving him the stone. He infused a piece of his own essence into the artifact, corrupting it. Later along with the 1st Crown of Narfell (see below) the Demonstone was gifted to the 1st Nentyarch (king) of Narfell. During the early years of warfare and strife in Narfell the Demonstone passed through many different demons’ hands. Each imprinted the stone with a piece of their own essence (kind of like the Stanley Cup of Demons). The Demontower appeared in various locations throughout the fortress-city of Dun Tharos until the city was leveled by powerful magical forces in the year -176. In the Year of Visions (731) the tower was sighted again in Dun Tharos when the paladin Sarshel entered the tower and shattered the Crown of Narfell. The tower was not sighted again until about 90 years ago (1390) when it mysteriously appeared in Impiltur in the town of New Sarshel. Now only those calling upon the essence of one of the demons on the Demonstone and cloaked in the blood of the innocent can enter the tower. A recent expedition by Smoke into the long-lost tomb of Sarshel has retrieved his chronicles. In it he reveals that he was able to enter tower by being pure of heart and cloaked in the blood of the demon-prince Orcus.

THE CROWNS OF NARFELL
In -970 DR, the first Nentyarch (king) of Narfell, Thargaun Crell, constructed the great tree-lined fortress of Dun Tharos. Some attribute his rise to the acquisition of a fell artifact that came to be known as the Crown of Narfell. Although the true origin of the Crown may never be known, it is thought that Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undead, gave the headpiece to the Nentyarch as part of a dark pact. In any event, after proclaiming the empire of Narfell and donning the Crown, the Nentyarch proceeded in a bloody war to unite the various Nar realms under his rule. The empire of Narfell lasted nearly 800 years until a war with the neighboring empire of Raumathar unleashed some mighty spell of unspeakable power that leveled the entire area. In the Crown’s early days, its powers were relatively benign, extracting a dark price from the bearer only upon his death. Those who dared call upon the powers of the Crown found their souls absorbed into the Crown at death and their bodies transformed into crown-wraiths. At its height, however, the Crown of Narfell had grown powerful indeed, and its evil persuasiveness almost certainly turned the Narfelli court toward consorting with demons that ruled the hearts of a succession of Nentyarchs. In 731 Impilturan explorers awoke the long-slumbering demons beneath Dun Tharos. A powerful balor named Ndulu gathered a host of demons and marched directly toward the Demontower. Some claim the balor was guided by the hand of Orcus, while others claim Ndulu simply sought the artifacts within to claim their power for himself. Whatever the fiend’s motivation, his ambitions were halted when the paladin Sarshel entered the tower and shattered the Crown of Narfell. The destruction of the artifact somehow broke the back of the demon army, enabling the defenders of Impiltur to prevail. Although Sarshel gathered up all the physical pieces of the Crown, the crown-wraiths escaped, and with them went the darkness that had beset the artifact. High priests of Ilmater, Torm, and Tyr collaborated to reforge the physical crown into a shining beacon of justice, truth, and mercy. The 2nd Crown of Narfell now serves as the imperial crown of Impiltur. Ndulu corralled the crown-wraiths to forge a shadow crown, later known as the Moaning Crown of Ndulu. Reports indicate that the Moaning Crown of Ndulu has recently been spotted again in the ruins of Dun Tharos.

DUN THAROS
This half-buried ancient city sprawls for miles through the pines and bogs of the Dunwood. It was once the seat of a great and terrible realm of dark keeps and sinister lords. The war between the great kingdoms of Raumathar and Narfell in ages past led to the city’s magical destruction and with it the fall of the demon-haunted kingdom of Narfell. Nentyarchs of ages past raised a fortress of living trees over Dun Tharos, and created the druidic Circle of Leth to stand guard against foolish treasure seekers and insidious demon worshipers alike lest the fell powers slumbering within the city be disturbed. The tales of ancient Nar treasure hoards still resound in taverns and travelers camps across the Dale, and such tales brought the Rotting Man to Dun Tharos in the year 1373 DR. The Rotting Man drove out the Nentyarchs, and before his fall unleashed an even worse power. Now demons of every shape move through the catacombs of Dun Tharos and the forest above. Any creature that comes looking for ancient Nar treasure risks much.

CONCLUSIONS
There are only two confirmed ways to enter the Demontower. The 1st is to complete the ritual of the Fraternity of Tharos. This vile act is not recommended but is included for sake of completeness of the report. The 2nd is to obtain the blood of a demon inscribed on the Demonstone. The only confirmed demon on the stone is Orcus. Travel to his abyssal realm is possible through the Star Sextant. This option is not recommended due to the low probability of success. Best Recommendation: Retrieve the Crown of Ndulu from Dun Tharos. Research indicates that both the Demonstone and original Crown of Narfell were corrupted by the same demon. It is likely the strength of corruption on the crown will be sufficient to enter the tower. At the minimum the wraiths trapped within the crown should have additional knowledge about the secrets of the Demonstone.

The heroes decided to try and retrieve the crown from the demon-infested ruins of Dun Tharos. Smoke agreed to accompany them on the mission due to his expertise on the subject. Also joining the party was Kriv, an acquaintance of theirs from the Brotherhood of the Griffon. He had recently lost his mount and was looking for some action while the rest of the Brotherhood was out flying around fighting the demons in the skies. Alkorahil also brought along his secular associate, Brother Thomas, due to his ability to fluently translate Abyssal (the language of demons). The heroes used the Star Sextant to teleport into the trading post of Bezentil in the Great Dale and then set out from there into the Dunwood. Madrakkar summoned some flying phantom steeds for the party to speed them on their journey. In the skies over the pines and bogs of Dunwood, the party encountered a flight of rimefire griffons that were fleeing from some other danger. In a panic, the griffons attacked the heroes and the party was forced to subdue several of them before continuing on their journey.

Eventually, the adventurers arrived outside the ruins of the city of Dun Tharos. The fortress of living trees erected by the druids around the city still stood, but the decay brought about by the Rotting Man’s entry had left gaping holes in the defenses. The entire area now had a worn-down and ominous feel. The adventurers approached one of the gaps in the wall and there they could see scarecrows hung by the druids to warn off visitors and a tattered cloak hanging off of a gate that was blowing in the chill, winter wind. As they got closer the scarecrows animated and attacked and the cloak turned out to be a Cloaker Lord that also tried to kill them. The heroes defeated their attackers and had barely stepped past the wall into the ruins of the city before they were attacked by a demon patrol of Vrocks and Mezzodemons. During the fighting, one of the griffons displayed a ferocious hatred of the demons, broke free of its restraints, and flew into the battle to attack them. Kriv was able to use his training to leap onto its back and together the pair scoured the demons from the skies. An immediate bond was formed between the two and Kriv named the griffon, Peter.
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The adventurers realized the enormous scale of the demon infestation and that moving around the city to search for the crown was going to be a problem. Alkorahil used his knowledge of military history to deduce that what they needed was to establish a beachhead in a defensible position. Smoke agreed, and said that in streetwise-lingo what Alkorahil had described was a “safehouse.” The heroes had been given an ancient map of the city and looked for any landmarks that still survived that would offer them some shelter. Where the ancient temple of Chauntea was marked on the map, the party spied a gigantic rosewood tree with golden flowers – totally out of place among the rotting pines of the Dunwood. Maddrakar used his Eagle-Eye goggles to zoom in on the tree and noticed a small crevasse at the bottom suddenly open with stairs leading downward. Smoke crept forward to scout it out but was spotted by a gargantuan, antlered demon the size of a castle-tower. Smoke sprinted into the tree and down the stairs as the passage closed behind him.

The wooden stairs led below the roots of the tree and deep into the earth. There Smoke encountered the ancient gold dragon known as Heartburn. Smoke explained the heroes’ mission to dragon. Heartburn agreed to help but only if “the knight” agreed to prove his worth by using the old ways of trial by combat. Smoke bravely (stupidly?) agreed to fight the ancient dragon. As the two squared off, Heartburn then went on to explain that he was a “nail-biter” so he wouldn’t use his claws, he had a sore throat so he wouldn’t use his breath weapon, and that a had a very low pain tolerance so that he would surrender after loosing only 10% of his hit points. Smoke “defeated” Heartburn and as a reward he was given a magical “key to the city” from the dragon’s treasure horde. Prior to the corruption of Dun Tharos, the key had been given as a gift to Heartburn for saving the city. When they key was touched to a location on a city map it would instantly transport the owner to that location. Heartburn also agreed to let the heroes use his lair as a base of operations until their mission was concluded.
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Smoke’s street-smarts and knowledge of intelligence-gathering told him that the next move was to locate a “snitch” that could give the party some information about where to find the crown. The adventurers used the key to investigate an old, collapsed, dockside warehouse and encountered some Kazrith demons in the tunnels below but were unable to get any information out of them. Next they investigated the old underground section of the marketplace. They came upon an old storefront that was being used as a “tavern” by a bunch of small demons. The demons had captured an ice-troll and were serving frosty “beverages” made of its blood from its ever-regenerating, screaming body. The heroes rousted the bar and succeeded in capturing a Quasit demon that was invisibly trying to sneak out the back. After interrogating the Quasit, the party learned that the crown had long been in possession of a demon known as the Queen Abiding that resided in the old Tailor’s Guildhall. However just a short while ago, the crown had been stolen from her by a group of Tannarks ( ½ orc & ½ demons) led by the demon Eschar. The Quasit directed the group to where Eschar and his allies were holed-up on the upper stories of an old, ruined manor.

The heroes used the key to teleport into the manor. After a brief battle, the heroes defeated Eschar and his crew. Eschar was similar in form to a large, scaly ogre. He appeared to have a crown of horns protruding from his head that pulsed with a fiendish light. However, when he was slain, the Moaning Crown reverted to a more traditional, metallic shape and fell from his brow. After the battle, the group was startled when someone started slow-clapping for them. Standing on the balcony of the manor was none other than their old nemesis, the turncoat Akneth. He was accompanied by several Drow warriors and Babau demons. Akneth claimed to be working in the interests of the Queen Abiding. He condescendingly went on to explain that he too and been present when the heroes experienced their vision of a ruined Demontower in the future, knew that they would be too “weak” to kill anyone to enter the tower, and would eventually come looking for the Moaning Crown. He also stated that the Queen had let Eschar steal the crown from her because she knew that the heroes would show up and eliminate her rival for her. Too late into his villainous monologue did the heroes realize that he was using stall tactics against them (a trick that that they had seen him use several times on enemies while Akneth was allied with them). Before the adventurers could react, Akneth fired a spider-web at the crown, pulled in to him, and leapt from the balcony with it into the night. At the same time, Akneth’s allies attacked, and although the heroes defeated them, all chance of pursuing the crown was lost.

After regrouping, Smoke tried to scout out an approach into the Queen’s lair. He was constantly harried by demons wandering through the ruins and found the outside of the Guildhouse to be heavily defended by Drow snipers. The building was obviously on high alert and expected a counter-attack from the heroes. Instead of risking an outright assault, the party opted to use the key to the city to teleport into the middle of the Queen’s stronghold. Smoke teleported in alone to scout it out and was surprised to find himself trapped in a cage-match with a demon. The cage was formed from some type of silvery metal and the bars were arranged in a pattern that resembled a spider’s web. Although the cage seemed to look incredibly delicate, it resisted attempts to bend the bars and blocked magical escape (as Smoke learned to his distress when he tried to use to the key to the city to escape). Smoke managed to delay the demon long enough to pick the lock and escape the cage (leaving the demon locked in). Once outside of the cage, Smoke used the key to return to the hideout where the rest of the group was resting. The heroes were not thrilled about the prospect of teleporting into the cage with the demon but decided it was still a better option than trying to assault the Drow stronghold directly. This time, the entire party used the key to transport themselves into the Tailor’s Guildhall and once again they arrived inside the magical cage. The original members of the group were shocked to discover that the demon locked in the cage was Iyetrayoo. Knowing the consequences of killing the demon, the heroes fought a delaying action while the door to the cage was opened again. They managed to leave the demon stuck inside the cage and were left wondering how he got out of the Shadowfell and into the cage in the first place.

The adventurers stealthily made their way through the Drow headquarters. They managed to avoid some nasty traps but it looked like the building’s main defenses were focused outwards. Eventually they arrived in a room with a bunch of pipes leading into it where the tailors had mixed their dyes back in ancient times. Akneth and many of his Drow and demon friends ambushed the party here. As the demons attacked the heroes on the ground, the Drow crawled on top of the larger pipes that crisscrossed the top of the room. The Drow had another surprise waiting as they opened the spigots on some of the pipes and acid came splashing down into the room. Madrakkar cast a spell that gave the party resistance to acid and Akneth commanded his allies (in Abyssal) to “kill the mage.” Alkorahil valiantly shielded Madrakkar while the rest of the heroes battled their attackers. During the fighting, Akneth placed a special brand of darkfire onto Smoke which stripped away his disguises and revealed him to be a Drow elf. Akneth claimed that Smoke had been working with him all along but Smoke continued to aid the adventurers during the fighting. Akneth also displayed much more spider-like and demonic powers than he had when travelling with the party. Eventually the heroes won, but Akneth managed to escape by spider-climbing through a hole in the ceiling.

Shortly thereafter, the heroes made their way to the throne room of the Queen Abiding. The chamber was like something out of a tailor’s nightmare. Empty spools of thread littered the floor. Fibers made up all types of sewing material was interwoven with strands of spider-webbing and strung up everywhere. Barely visible was a giant throne in the center of the room. The Queen Abiding was herself a powerful demon in the service of Lolth, the goddess of the Drow. Her lower body was that of a large, bulbous spider and her upper body was that of a beautiful Drow. Upon her head was the Moaning Crown which had once again morphed and this time looked vaguely like a crystalline spider and its web. The Queen emanated a shroud of darkness that had the chill of the coldest winter. She, her Yochlol handmaidens, and Haures “consort” viciously attacked the heroes. Once again the champions of Impiltur prevailed and they claimed the crown after they had won the confrontation.
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Level 15
The Paths of Light and Darkness

Summary: The heroes travel to the oriental realm of Kara-tur to find the long-lost heir to the throne of Impiltur.
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Takes place 18th of Eleint (The Fading) through 17th of Marpenoth (Leaffall) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

During the latest malfunction of the Star Sextant, the Moon Elf head researcher, Patono, ran a full diagnostic test. The results included a list of all the places a gate had been opened to during the last 100 years. To his surprise, an unauthorized gate had been opened to the oriental land of Kara-Tur just prior to the Year of Blue Fire. Through some investigation and hard questioning, his security turned up some astonishing news.

Prior to the coming of the Spellplague, young King Imbrar II had been informed of the Star Sextant by his inner council. Wanting to see the device in action, he had been allowed to participate in several planar explorations with a group of Moon Elf Star Rangers. During one of those expeditions, the king had, in Patono’s words, “participated in conjugal relations” with the beautiful Star Ranger, Moenna Nónámo. Moenna later discovered she was pregnant, and apparently shamed by her condition, covertly used the Star Sextant to flee to the far side of the world. The Spellplague hit shortly thereafter. During the cataclysm, King Imbrar died valiantly while attempting to lead some of his people to safety. The disappearance of Moenna and the potential heir of Impiltur had gone undiscovered in the aftermath of the Spellplague. Until now…

The heroes were dispatched through the gateway to the same location Moenna used. They appeared in a lush, tropical jungle. After exploring for a bit, they were set upon by some man-eating white apes. After defeating the apes, the adventurers discovered a village with dwellings made of dug out pits topped by large leaves. The village was the home of a clan of Korobokuru (Oriental Dwarves). The Korobokuru were less stout than their western cousins but more hairy and unkempt. They also had particularly long arms and bowed legs. After determining that the party was friendly, the Korobokuru invited them to enjoy their hospitality. The dwarves told the adventurers of the great sage, Yoshi the Wise, who could help them with their quest. After they had consumed much sake and the Korobokuru had picked a few of their pockets, the party was led to Yoshi. They were much surprised to see that Yoshi the Wise was a large, talking celestial badger. Yoshi shared some tea and special fortune cookies with the party before he “put them on the path.” The party became disoriented, and when they returned to their senses, they were on a road just outside of a grandiose city.

The party discovered that they were outside of Imperial City, the capital city of the Kingdom of Shou Lung. In the central marketplace, the party inquired about Moenna and eventually found a very old woman who remembered her. The woman remembered as a young girl she had helped a midwife deliver a child for an elf fitting Moenna’s description. She recollected that the birthing was difficult “because of those narrow elven hips.” The elf had died in child-birth but a baby-boy had survived. He was put up for adoption with a group of monks, but the old-lady could not remember which group.

The heroes emerged back into the marketplace and were promptly challenged to give up their quest by a group introducing themselves as “The Ten Brothers.” When the party refused, an old fashioned kung-fu brawl ensued. Each of the brothers could take on the form and/or powers of an animal from the Shou Lung zodiac. They attacked the party honorably, with only with a number of brothers fighting an equal number of the heroes. Each time a brother was defeated, a new one jumped into the fighting ring. As the party battled the brothers, they noted that each bore a tattoo of the zodiac. Afterwards, they also noted that they had only defeated nine opponents. Victory was short-lived, as the imperial guard stormed in and arrested the heroes.

After explaining their mission, the party was brought before the Emperor of Shou Lung, who surprisingly greeted them with much enthusiasm. The Emperor held an audience with the adventurers in the imperial garden where his only daughter lay on a bier covered with fallen leaves of cherry blossom. As it turned out, the Emperor’s young daughter, Eiko, had recently been attacked by a clan of vampire assassins intent on turning her into one of their members. The plot had been foiled by Ryu, the Emperor’s minister of security. However the girl was bitten. The Emperor had Eiko placed in stasis until a cure could be found. Yi-hou, the Emperor’s minister of magic, had just unearthed evidence that during the Spellplague, a swath of spellfire had been released with the power to turn life to undeath and undeath to life. Far to the north, the Celestial Dragon Monk Clan still stood guard over the remnants of that flame. The Emperor had taken the party’s arrival as an omen that his plan to have Eiko taken to the spellflame was the right path. Like her, several of the party were cursed with undeath (after their encounter with Szass Tam) and needed the cure. Also, the leader of the monks was an old man known as the White Dragon “possibly in reference to his skin color.” He would be about the right age as the heir the party was looking for. The Emperor invited the characters to join the expedition he was sending to take his daughter to the monks.

The party consisted of a palanquin to bear Eiko, an honor guard of imperial soldiers, and some servants to bear the supplies. There were several persons of note on the expedition:
• Yi-hou: The minister of magic and leader of the expedition. The haughty sorceress dressed in a brightly colored silk kimono. Single-minded in her mission to carry out the emperor’s orders, she had little time for the characters except to boss them around.
• Ryu: The minister of security. A disciple of the Hooded Cobra clan, this monk was ritually bound to keep his face shrouded at all times. The grizzled veteran had guarded several generations of the imperial family. Blaming himself for Eiko’s condition, he diligently monitored her and the expedition for potential threats.
• Ginko: The minister of information. Contrary to most spy masters, this guy was very flamboyant and outgoing. He was usually dressed in red robes and armed with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. Ginko quite often hung out with the characters and acted as their travelling guide.
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Ryu

The first stop of significance was at the temple (more like a gambling hall) of the 7 spirits of luck. The party was invited to go by Ginko. Rumor had it that if you gambled well enough, the spirits themselves would appear for a high stakes game at the end of the night and grant a wish to the winner. This chance to remove their affliction was enough to tempt the undead characters into going. The temple was a large ziggurat. The lower level was occupied by every imaginable game of chance. Only those that won enough were permitted to enter the upper level for the high stakes game. Miraculously, all of the characters and Ginko did will enough to advance. This included some memorable proposition betting by Alkorahil and Tsol. Alkorahil acted as the barker and Tsol performed feats of strength. The upper level of the temple was cubical and decorated like a giant die. The characters were shooting craps and mostly losing when Ginko got caught palming dice. This angered the spirits of luck, whose avatars appeared and attacked the party. After driving off the spirits, the party was allowed to leave. Ginko apologized profusely to the heroes for cheating to try and help them win.

The next major encounter was at the province of Kirin, home of the Sisters of the Six Sighs. Waiting at the river borderline were the indistinguishable sisters, who were all clad in matching kimonos and waving identical fans. They refused to allow the undead party members into their realm until they proved their worth by removing something “ugly” from the river downstream. The heroes proceeded down the river and were attacked by Kappa – strange, troll-like creatures with bowl-shaped depressions in their heads. The depressions were filled with water. The creatures regenerated from their wounds at a remarkable rate until the characters discovered spilling the water caused them to weaken. Some of the heroes even tricked the Kappa into politely bowing, which caused them to spill their water.

“You can get farther with a kind word than you can with a sword.” – Yoshi the Wise

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After defeating the Kappa, the adventurers were admitted into Kirin. The undead party members were shown to a bath, while the live ones were offered both a bath and a massage by the lovely sisters. Shortly thereafter, the bath house was attacked by ninja assassins. Alkorahil survived the entire encounter fighting mostly solo and sans armor (and clothes).

After the fight was over, the heroes reunited with the other members of the imperial party. The imperials were also battered from fighting off the ninjas. Ryu grasped the torn robe of Ginko, anxious to know if the princess was safe. On Ginko’s arm, the party spied the same zodiac tattoo possessed by the other 10 Brothers. Seeing their reaction, Ginko morphed into a human-fox hybrid form and bounded away before the adventurers could catch him.

After more travel, the heroes finally arrived at the Monastery of the Celestial Dragon. An imposing structure built into the side of a mountain, the Monastery was dominated by a tall, rear tower carved to resemble a 2-headed dragon. The party was taken to an audience with the White Dragon. They were disappointed to see he was simply an elderly, white-bearded, oriental man. He told the story that during the Spellplague; he had witnessed spellfire spring up in the middle of a pitched battle between some samurai fighting for their lives against a band of cursed undead spirits. The undead had returned to life (the White Dragon hinted one of them may have been him), but all living things touched by the spellfire were transformed into twisted undead. The spellfire grew with each ki (life) that it touched and threatened to spread like wildfire. This so disturbed the Kara-tur deities of Life and Death, that they each dispatched their angels to contain the spellfire. Their angels, in the forms of a phoenix and a raven, each sacrificed themselves to seal away the spellfire. The spellfire was sealed at the top of the dragon tower. The White Dragon warned that breaking the seals of the avatars and feeding fuel to the spellfire could cause it to burn out of control as the gods once feared. Ryu, knowing the kind of girl Eiko had been, stated that she would never be willing to unleash such potential harm on others for her own sake. The undead heroes also reluctantly agreed that the risk was not worth curing their own condition. But Yi-hou, ever dedicated to following the exact orders of the Emperor, reminded everyone that it was an imperial command to place the girl in the spellfire. The White Dragon reluctantly agreed to obey. When the adventurers and Ryu began to resist, she unleashed a prismatic spell that blinded them all. The heroes heard the White Dragon issue a command for the guards to restrain them. When their eyesight returned, Yi-hou, the White Dragon, and the girl were gone, but they were now confronted with many dragon samurai. Suddenly, Ginko (Fox), disguised as one of the samurai, appeared and dropped a chandelier on the enemies. He explained that he had always been aware of the danger of unleashing the spellfire, but neither the Emperor nor Yi-hou would listen to him. Ginko also feared that the temptation would be too much for the undead party members, so he had tried to sabotage the mission. Ginko apologized for not trusting the party earlier and asked for their help to stop the others from releasing the spellfire. The characters agreed, and he led them through some secret passageways to the battlements of the Monastery.

There, they caught up with the imperials getting ready to enter the dragon tower. The White Dragon and a group of monks carried the girl into the tower and slammed the door shut. Yi-hou stayed behind to slow down the characters. She surprised the heroes by revealing her true form as a Couatl (flying, feathered serpent). The heroes fought a running battle against her and a seemingly unending number of dragon samurai wielding flaming swords, while the thief characters tried to unlock the door. Eventually, the heroes managed to unlock the door, enter the tower, and slam the door on their attackers. Fox scampered away again at the last second, saying he needed to go warn others in case they failed.

Ascending the tower was not a linear event. The avatars had created paths of light and darkness throughout the tower to contain the spellflame. The paths intertwined in a pattern where dimension and gravity held no meaning. In the event [played out on a Tsuro game board], undead party members created a dark path and living party members created a light path, as they attempted to corral the avatars of phoenix and raven, who had been released by the passage of the monks.

“Fire has no form of its own, but clings to the burning objects. Light clings to darkness.” – Yoshi the Wise

Finally, the heroes arrived at the top of the tower, but were too late as the spellfire had already been unleashed. The White Dragon had been transformed into a specter made of spellfire and his monks had become Plaguechanged Ghouls. As the undead attacked them, the spellfire blazed unchecked. All of the party members were touched by the ever-growing spellfire but were too busy battling the undead to worry about its effects. At the last second, rather than risk the dishonor of being turned into undead, Ryu committed seppuku and stabbed himself with his sword. Meanwhile, Yi-hou had continued her pursuit of the adventurers. Just as she flew to the top of the tower, a spout of spellflame came gushing out of one of its stone dragon-heads and struck her. The party saw the Couatl plummet back down towards the ground after being hit. Ghryll fell valiantly in battle after being hit by an onslaught of adaptive blue bolts from the specter. Finally, after a grueling struggle, the heroes emerged victorious. However, the spellflame still threatened to erupt out of control, and angels of life and death no longer had sufficient power to contain it. Reaching out for an anchor, the raven of death found Ghryll’s deceased spirit, still lingering and ready to fight on. Reaching out for an anchor, the phoenix of life latched on to Alkorahil’s essence, born in the celestial energy of the astral plane. Together, using every ounce of their spirit, the combined will of the heroes and the angels managed to trap the spellflame once again. As life and death once again intertwined, Ghryll’s body was returned to life and given a parting gift of a cloak from the Raven Queen. Conversely, Alkorahil’s body was killed (again), yet somehow his spirit lived on in a body powered by undead energy. He too was presented with a gift for his sacrifice. The angel of life granted Alkorahil his own sword – Dark Phoenix.
Aftermath:

  • Tsol’s exposure to the spellflame removed his undead status
  • Madrakkar’s exposure to the spellflame removed his undead status
  • Alkorahil’s experience had left him undead
  • Andraste’s experience had tragically ended her life and no amount of magic or prayer could reunite her spirit to her body
    • Ghryll’s experience had removed his undead status and raised dead
    • Bahardim – the spellflame always has an element of unpredictability. Instead of getting changed to undead he was spellscarred.
    • The princess Eiko’s vamparitic curse was removed from exposure to the spellflame. During the battle, she spied her friend Ryu bleeding from his wound, and used the same herbs used to keep her in stasis to preserve his life.
    • Ryu – On the bleeding edge between life and death, he was unaffected by the spellfire. When the heroes went to heal him afterwards, his mask had burned away, revealing his face. Instead of the wrinkled, oriental features they were expecting, he had pale skin, round eyes, and middle-aged, half-elven features. They had found the heir.

After-aftermath: The new-born dracolich wormed her way deeper into the cool, darkness of the cave. The warm sunlight, always so precious to her, had become impossible to bear. Her mind reeled in confusion. She had obeyed every command to the letter. The others had been the ones to disobey the will of the gods, but here she lay cursed for all eternity. Yet karma had a way of coming full circle. She would have her revenge.

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Level 14
Pilgrims in an Unholy Land

Summary: With the last of the Zulkirs dead, the undead armies of Thay begin their march on the Wizard’s Reach. The heroes slip in ahead of the main assault and recover two important magic items. On the way out, they encounter the infamous necromancer, Szass Tam.
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Takes place 11th-13th of Eleint (The Fading) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

After the heroes returned from their exodus, the Moon Elves finally succeeded in repairing the Star Sextant. Right away they wanted to use the device’s transportation powers to send the party into the nation of Thay. The elves told them that they were following up on a possible lead to the location of the long-lost heir to the throne of Impiltur. In the meantime they wanted the adventurers to retrieve the Greatsword of Impiltur. The full power of this magical sword could only be unlocked by the heir and the elves thought that it would be useful for establishing his identity. The elves had tracked down the previous owner of the sword to be Samas Kul. Samas Kul had been the Zulkir of Transmutation in Thay who was legendary for his greed. In addition, the elves had also found out that the Horn of Demonfire Tsol needed for his quest of the Winding Way was also supposed to be in the wizard’s private collection of magic items. The rush was that recently Samas Kul and his fellow Zulkirs had inexplicably left their exile from the Wizard’s Reach and gone on a suicidal mission with the Brotherhood of the Griffon into Thay. None of the Zulkirs had survived and the forces of the infamous necromancer, Szass Tam, were finally mobilizing to annex their lands. The heroes only had a short while before the area was completely overrun by undead.

The party arranged for pickup in a few nights and teleported in to the Wizard’s Reach. The area was already crawling with Szass Tam’s advance guard. Most of the population looked like it had already been killed or fled. The party headed for Samas Kul’s mansion. Along the way, they dodged as many undead patrols as they could but ended up having to fight one. The magical defenses surrounding the mansion were strong and as a result it looked mostly unsoiled by the undead. The adventurers were searching for a way in when they were attacked by another patrol. This patrol included a lich who controlled an undead purple worm. The encounter turned out to be somewhat fortuitous as after the adventurers defeated their attackers they discovered the tunnels left by the worm allowed them access to the mansion’s wine cellar.

In the wine cellar they discovered the first of many wards left in place inside the mansion. The cellar door was sealed by powerful magic that the group could not hope to break. Just outside was an enchanted drinking glass and the below spirits. A riddle read:
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The heroes chose the correct answer, were transmuted into liquid, and magically transported to the next room in the manor where they re-solidified. (The correct answer is: Chai Cheer Beer. Only Lord DeWinter’s Pale Ale, Dwarf King Stout, and Chai Cheer Beer do not include fruit, cane, or honey. Chai Cheer is the only one located on the right. FYI: Yellow Rose is a callback to the blueberry wine made by the monks at the Monastery of the Yellow Rose)

In the next room the heroes found themselves magically affixed to chairs seated around a large dining table. They were in a large, extravagant banquet hall. The table magically began filling up with delicious-looking food and beverage. The party was attended by Jeeves, the unseen servant. Jeeves had a snobbish accent and the party could just make out the ghostly image of his eyes and a bow-tie. Just then, a group of undead that had somehow made it past the manor’s defenses entered the room. Jeeves stubbornly refused to let the party leave their seats. Some of the heroes politely asked to be excused and Jeeves freed them from their bonds. Others burst forth from the chair which enraged Jeeves. He attacked these “unscrupulous knaves” with their broken pieces of furniture even as they battled the undead. After the heroes defeated the undead and Jeeves they answered the riddle and were transported to the next room.

This time the adventurers found themselves inside a luxuriant theater. This room was also infested with undead. A ghostly beholder and some banshees emerged from behind the curtains on the stage an attacked the party. After they defeated the spirits the party tried to figure out the riddle on this door. There were a number of ornate theatre masks and one of the heroes had to wear the one that best fit Samas Kul’s personality. They choose the wrong mask, the face of good, and as Madrakkar put it on his personality altered to become as virtuous as the noblest paladin ever born. The heroes choose the correct mask next, the face of greed, and were transported to Samas Kul’s inner sanctum.
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Inside the sanctum they found the Greatsword of Impiltur and several other powerful items. However the Horn of Demonfire was not present. The adventurers were able to access the mansion’s control systems and pull up an invoice that indicated that the horn had been traded to the Temple of Kossuth. The mansion’s defenses were later alerted to the player’s presence and expelled them from the mansion.

The party made their way back towards the Temple of Kossuth in town square. Along the way they encountered some children in a dark alley that begged the adventurers to help their wounded mommy. The party was skeptical, but Madrakkar, spurred on by his magically induced righteousness, valiantly agreed to help. In the alley they were ambushed by the children, who turned out to be vampire halflings, and their “mommy” who turned out to be a mummy.

The Temple of Kossuth’s defenses had a wall of fire at the entrance that scorched all that tried to enter. The party burned an offering and were able to pass through the wall. Inside the temple’s safeguards were on full alert. The heroes defeated many flame based guardians before they were able to find and retrieve the Horn of Demonfire.

That night the heroes made their way to the rendezvous point for the Star Sextant and were relieved to see that the portal was open. An undead patrol was investigating the magical gateway but the heroes easily dispatched them. They were just about to step through the portal and wrap the mission up when a figure appeared in front of them. He introduced himself as Szass Tam. The party could hardly believe that this was the legendary undead terror they had heard tales of. The man looked human. His face had fine-boned, intellectual features, with dark eyes, and a wispy black beard. He wore a vermilion robe with voluminous sleeves trimmed with gold. He was gaunt and pale, but only his withered hands with a hint of rot hinted at his lichdom. Tsol and the courageously-cursed Madrakkar immediately moved to attack the despot but ghoulish arms that sprung from the ground grabbed and paralyzed them. Szass Tam reasoned that he was the rightful ruler of this land now and all that was in it belonged to him. He offered the group a proposition. In exchange for making off with loot from his lands, each person must submit to a geas, a magically binding oath, to obey one future command from him; or they could challenge him and die. Some of the party agreed to accept the vow. The rest attacked. The first thing Szass Tam did in the combat was cast a powerful Time Stop spell on the adventurers that had accepted his proposition. The remaining heroes launched a furious assault on the lich. He systematically blocked every one of their attacks while his true horrific visage was revealed. His dark magic flayed the flesh from their bones, caused their skin to boil, and ultimately took their lives. When the Time Stop spell wore off the remaining members of the group found their companions standing beside them at attention as undead. Szass Tam dismissed the party to leave. Afterwards, although the experience had left them horribly scarred, those heroes that had been transformed into undead regained some semblance of their old personalities. All attempts to remove Szass Tam’s spells failed and the group conceded they would need to find a wizard or priest equal to power to undo the magic.

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Level 13
Fallen Stars: A Visit to Vaasa

Summary: A malfunction with the Star Sextant leaves the heroes stranded in the enemy nation of Vaasa. They uncover the dark secret behind the Warlock Knight’s power and make a daring escape.
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Takes place 26th-30th of Eleasis (Highsun) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

Using the experimental homing beacon had somehow broken the Star Sextant and the party was stranded in the northern mountains of the enemy nation of Vaasa. The heroes were forced to accept that the device might not be easily reparable and that they would have to make their own way back to Impiltur. The party descended the mountains down to the frozen tundra below. On the road between two cities the heroes ambushed a caravan led by several Warlock Knights. After they defeated the escort of ogre guards and the knights, the party assumed their identities. They hoped that with the disguises on they could travel with fewer hindrances. The adventurers investigated the contents of the wagons and were surprised to learn that they contained arcane materials for the casting of a large scale ‘raise dead’ ritual. The adventurers led the caravan on to the city of Palischuk.

Upon arrival at the city the party was surprised to find that it contained a large, mobile fortress. This “Freewheeling Fortress” rested on a multitude of iron wheels. Sulfurous fumes spouted from several large smokestacks at the top of the stronghold. They party was informed by several guards that the fortress was awaiting the arrival of their caravan to get underway. They were escorted inside the great contraption. Shortly thereafter it was sealed shut and rumbled forward. The party was given accommodations equal to their assumed rank. Alkorahil, who masqueraded as a high ranking Warlock Knight Fellthane, was invited along with his entourage to attend a feast that evening with their host, Warlock Knight Vindicator, Mansard Kanaoth. The party operated during the feast like a well-practiced group of grifters. Alkorahil acted as the “Mouth” of the group. He was able to win Mansard’s trust over several other dining power brokers that competed for the commander’s favor. Madrakkar acted as the “Mastermind” and recalled several key pieces of important information that aided the party’s goals. Andraste was the “grease-man.” She covertly relayed several messages amongst the party and pulled off some important sleight-of-hand. Tsol was the “Muscle” of the group. During the feast he was placed in a pit-fight against the other diner’s champions (a War Troll and a Mindflayer). He won with a bit of panache that served as a key distraction. Draven acted as the group’s “Cat Burglar.” He broke into Mansard’s private chambers while the others were dining. Inside he found a map that indicated that the fortress was headed towards Vassa’s capital, Telos City. The map also indicated a secret entrance into the fortress-city through a series of underground caves. In a secret closet Draven also discovered a red robe and a skull-like mask. The following day the party received a knock on their door. Outside was a package that contained a number of oddly designed masks and a note instructing them to put them on. Shortly after that, poisonous yellow fumes began circulating throughout the fortress. Using the masks the adventurers were able to breathe without suffering its ill-effects. The party looked out into the hall and saw that most of the fortresses’ occupants were not as lucky as they died an agonizing death. The party decided to get off of the fortress. Occasionally through the clouds of gas they spotted red-robed figures that were wearing masks similar to their own. Tsol’s mask only covered his snout and he was blinded by the fumes. Otherwise there might have been a lot of fighting! The party stealthily made their way into the bowels of the fortress and leapt clear.
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The heroes decided to break into the fortress-city using the secret entrance that was marked on Mansard’s Map. The map indicated that near some ruins located outside the city walls there was an entrance to a series of caves that tunneled beneath the capital. That night the party arrived at the ruins and found a strange sight. Several Starpact Warlocks had summoned Star Spawn from three different stars. The magically educated heroes revealed to the group that such a gathering was unheard of. The Warlocks did not attempt to parlay with the adventurers and unleashed the Star Spawn to attack them. The heroes defeated their adversaries and later found the entrance to the caves.

The party navigated the dangerous caves. First they encountered a cavern with a giant spider’s web suspended over a bed of stalagmites. The heroes defeated the giant acid-spewing spider that had created the web and crossed the chamber to the caves beyond. Eventually the caves led to a series of mines that were worked by the evil Duergar dwarves. The condition of the mines looked like most of the occupants had left in a hurry. Only a skeleton crew remained. The party defeated a small vanguard of Duergar and made their way to where the mines ran far beneath the central castle of the city. A large, flat, metallic, disc, made of the same metal that the Warlock Knights favored, served as an elevator that ran through the center of the castle. Madrakkar used his magic to summon the floating disc down to the mining level where the party was. As the group ascended on the disc to the upper levels they noted that high above at the top of the shaft they could see the dimly illuminated, sunset sky. The disc stopped after only ascending for a short while. The party heard sounds of ritualistic chanting and decided to investigate.

The party entered a lavishly decorated office. They quickly looted several valuable items including a magical flying ship that had been miniaturized and placed inside of a bottle. At the far end of the office was a balcony where the group could hear the chanting echoing from. They crept up to the edge and witnessed a fantastic sight. The prostrate form of a gigantic humanoid was laid out several levels below. The Primordial being’s body was made up entirely of pitted, iron-ore. Several parts of the individual’s body blazed with a violet, star-like glare. After taking one look at the being the heroes were now aware of the source of the Warlock Knight’s weaponry. The chanting was coming from yellow-robed humans that surround the giant. From the level directly below, the adventurers could see three hooded figures overseeing the operation and they overheard the following conversation:

Figure 1: “Such chaos! Is this how you run your charge (sarcastic) Voice of Telos? Perhaps the Church of Bane should take more active control of your operations?”

Figure 2: “I assure you your eminence that will not be necessary. Who could have foreseen the return of the Witch-King, Zhengyi? After all, he has not been heard from for over a hundred years.”

Figure 1: “If that even was the work of the Witch-King. Hijacking a mobile-fortress and ramming through city walls was hardly his style. More likely some fool is masquerading as the Witch-King; trying to use his name to garner support.”

Figure 2: “But the Freewheeling Fortress was filled with hundreds of undead and several witnesses claimed to have spotted the With-King during the fighting. You have seen the reports indicating Castle Perilous has returned in the north. Liches are notoriously hard to keep dead after all.”

Figure 1: “Perhaps. If that idiot Mansard ever turns up I will personally flay the skin from his bones for this failure. Has order been restored?”

Figure 2: “Yes, your eminence. My Warlock Knights and their minions have destroyed all of the undead. Our slaves will have repaired the damage to the city-wall within the week. As you can see my Luminaries begin their nightly chant to keep Telos bound in slumber. All is in hand. The forces of Telos will not fail this war effort.”

Figure 1: (to figure 3) “And what of your master? Does he stand ready to deliver us the western front as promised?”

Figure 3: “My master will bring order to the forces of the west as promised. Malrite stands ready to do his part.”

Figure 1: “As does Bane”

From behind the party, Akneth spoke, “As does Lolth.” He then delivered a vicious backstab which nearly killed Tsol. Akneth also alerted the hooded figures of the party’s presence. When Figure 1 turned around the adventurers saw that he wore the vestments of a High Priest of the Church of Bane. He summoned a Banelar Naga, a powerful servant of the god Bane, to attack the party. He then departed to summon the guards. Figure 2, whom the party assumed was the Voice of Telos, summoned a Shardsoul Avatar to attack the party. The avatar was like a miniature version of Telos. The Voice then stated that he was concerned that all of the ruckus “at such a critical point in the ritual” might awaken Telos and descended to aid the Luminaries in their chant. The third figure shed his garments and was revealed to be an angelic-like creature. Wielding a sword of fire and a sword of ice he flew up to the balcony and attacked the heroes uttering the battlecry, “For Malrite.” The heroes were hard-pressed by Akneth’s betrayal and the assault of so many powerful enemies. Their spirits were lifted though, by the return of Urlog, who unexpectedly charged into the fray. Urlog revealed the reason for his long absence was that he had been spying on the Warlock Knights for the Grand Council. He had been hiding out disguised as a Duergar in the mines when he had caught on to the party’s trail. With his aid the heroes narrowly defeated their first wave of enemies. During the fight, Akneth was delivered what should have been a fatal blow. However instead of perishing, he transformed into a swarm of spiders that dispersed and crawled away.

With more guards approaching the heroes knew it was time to leave. They gathered back on the elevator and Madrakkar used his magic to override the controls. They shot upward through the castle at extreme speed, crashed through the glass window at the top of the shaft, and emerged high into the dusky sky before their momentum began to play out. Alkorahil summoned the magical flying ship from the bottle and the party fell onboard. The heroes let out a whoop of triumph as he steered the vessel away from the castle. However, their victory was short-lived as several flying enemies began their pursuit. The heroes were attacked by several Warlock Knights riding Wyverns, a Warlock Knight flying with some type of magical “jet-pack”, and a Shardsoul Dragon made from the same meteor-like substance as Telos. In the darkening sky, the party defeated the Warlock Knights but it looked as if the dragon might tear the flying ship from out from under them. In a herculean act of intimidation, Alkorahil shrugged off the beast’s “starfire” radiant breath weapon and convinced the dragon that it could not hope to win the fight. It retreated back to the castle and the heroes used the ship to return to Impiltur.
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Level 12
Targeted for Assassination

Summary: A mysterious group of Minotaur assassins from Tsol’s past has targeted the heroes for termination. Can the adventurers uncover the sect’s mysterious source of power, or will they be picked off one by one?
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Takes place 22nd-25th of Eleasis (Highsun) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)

The heroes were taking a well deserved rest when unexpectedly they were attacked! Tsol, Alkorahil, and Bahardim were relaxing in Gray Haven. Bahardim had been enjoying some nookie time with Childa and was not happy about the intrusion! Meanwhile Madrakkar and Draven were trying to find more out about the mysterious Akneth and had trailed him to an alley outside a tavern in Lyrabar. Both groups were attacked at approximately the same time by Minotaur assassins. Their assailants were like a cross between a Minotaur and a vampire. They had pale skin, white fur, red eyes, and fangs. The Minotaur that attacked Tsol was different. It was jet black, with red highlights in its fur, and had flaming hoofs. The battle-hardened heroes shook off their surprise quickly and were able to defeat their attackers.
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Akneth

Afterwards Tsol was approached by a horned frog that he recognized from the frog-jumping contest in Yurley. The toad had belonged to Cowaveras and led Tsol back to her body out in the forest. She had been killed by having her heart ripped out by the assassins. Her journal indicated she had finally tracked down Tsol’s whereabouts and was coming to join him on his quest. The party in Gray Haven met up with Deauxnavius, who had also been wounded by the assassins. He reported that several perimeter guards had been killed but the main target of the attack seemed to be centered on the party and their associates.

The heroes joined up in the city the next day to try and find out some more information about their attackers. After doing some leg-work they discovered that the assassin’s contact with the thieves’ guild was none other than their old associate, Svennie Four-fingers. The party tracked Svennie down to a guild message station where the thieves used homing pigeons to relay notes. The group intimidated Svennie into taking a walk with them outside. While the party had the thieves distracted, Madrakkar discovered an old note to the Minotaurs that contained a ritual for summoning Nightmare steeds. Svennie did not know where the assassins were based out of but he knew they were not local. After accepting a bribe from the adventurers he informed them he knew where another assassin’s guild hung out that were rivals of the Minotaurs. This other assassin’s guild, the Jade Vipers, was comprised of Yuan-ti and might have more information. After accepting another bribe he agreed to give the party directions to the Yuan-ti hideout. After some forceful persuasion he agreed to lead the lead the party to the hideout. Instead Svennie tried to lead them into an ambush by some demon cultists so that he could collect the bounty on their heads. The heroes got wise and forced Svennie to lead them to the correct location before they allowed him to scurry off. The heroes boldly entered the assassin enclave. Silhouette, the medusa leader of the clan, ordered her assassins to kill the party. After the heroes defeated some of her best hit men she agreed to answer their questions. She did not know where the Minotaurs were located either. However she did know that her rivals feasted on the hearts of their slain targets because they believed that it added the victim’s power to their own. She suggested that if the adventurers wanted to find the Minotaurs then they should follow the Minotaur’s prey.

The heroes put the clues together that the Minotaurs were summoning Nightmares and one of the assassins had somehow absorbed the powers of a Nightmare. Then they had the bright idea of having the Moon Elves summon Kilrosh the Nightmare Horselord again. The party returned to Gray Haven. Akneth was allowed to accompany them since he was also a target of the assassins.

The elves summoned Kilrosh and after his initial anger subsided, he agreed to answer the player’s questions. He informed them that the last two nights someone had indeed summoned members of his herd and that they had never returned. The ritual Madrakkar had found only worked on nights of a new moon. That night was the last night of the new moon for the lunar cycle. Kilrosh agreed to carry Tsol into the Shadowfell and if the summoning was done again he could try to follow the spell back to its source. Patono gave Tsol an experimental “homing beacon” that he had been working on for the Star Sextant. If Tsol found the assassins hideout he was supposed to activate the beacon and the Sextant would automatically lock in on his destination and open a gate. The rest of the party would then teleport to his location. Tsol mounted Kilrosh and galloped into the Shadowfell. Overhead he could see the Starlight Citadel and nervously watched the sky for signs of Iyetrayoo. They raced onward to where Kilrosh’s herd resided. Tsol could see the summoning portal, like a giant spotlight shone from the sky, questing over the landscape for a target. The Nightmares in the herd wheeled to avoid its touch. Kilrosh charged straight for the light. At the last second he pulled up and Tsol tumbled over his neck into the summoning portal.

Tsol emerged into a summoning pentagram. He had apparently interrupted some type of initiation ceremony. There was a Minotaur priestess with curved horns, several more of the Cinderhoof assassins, and a pale initiate knelling in supplication. In his eagerness to kill the prone targets Tsol almost forgot to activate the homing beacon. The rest of the party gated in and they made quick work of their enemies. Childa called Bahardim over the sending stones. Their location was somewhere in the vicinity of the Bloodstone Mines near the nation of Vaasa. Using the homing beacon had somehow broken the Star Sextant and the elves were unable to open another portal to retrieve the party.

The heroes made their way through the labyrinthine lair of the Minotaurs. They freed some captured Satyrs who informed them that the clan had so far only learned how to transfer power from other creatures with hoofs. The party fought their way through a maze of shifting force fields that was guarded by iron-skinned Minotaur assassins that had stolen their power from Gorgons. Later the party navigated a hedge maze. The labyrinth was guarded by teleporting Shardhorn Minotaurs that had despicably killed Unicorns in order to gain their abilities.
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The heroes eventually found the leader of the clan and his inner circle. The monstrous sized Minotaur leader boasted he had eaten the hearts from thousands of victims. His lieutenants were made up from members of all of the other types of Minotaurs that the party had come across. A grand battle ensued and the heroes were victorious. After the combat the group found a holy shrine that the Minotaurs had dedicated to the Armor of the Crimson Tide. This ancient artifact was missing its centerpiece, the “Heart of the Hero.” Tsol recognized the Minotaurs as clan Aortaa from his father’s journal of the Winding Way. Somehow over time the clan had come to build their entire society around the ideal of stealing hearts to gain power. The motivations behind why the Minotaurs attacked the heroes remained unclear. Their best guess was the clan had learned of Tsol’s possession of two other ancient relics from the set and wanted to steal his power or stop him from seeking the armor.

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