2152 Y.O.L. - Sea Season - Harmony Week – Wildday
Caz'par - the friendly ghost led the party on from the Cave of the Shattered Dragon. The way was fraught with numerous twisting, turning, branching caves and tunnels, and the party was exceedingly glad for Caz’par’s aid.
After several miles of underground travel, Caz’par halted and informed the party that he could not safely go farther. The ghost told the party that the way ahead was straight and true to Logmar’s tower, but the way was also warded.
Eucalyptus, the brave Halfling rogue, took the lead. After another half mile she spied a ring of cleverly hidden crystalline material that ringed the passage. Glarg and Sola spent some time examining the ring. It had intricate carvings along its length. The crystal appeared to be amethyst or some other deep purple gemstone. Mallan and Sola both took their turns at trying to determine a way to either deactivate or destroy the warding, but in the end Eucalyptus leapt forward to use her skullduggery skills to neutralize the threat.
As the ring flashed a piercing purple and a keening squeal filled the cavern with light and sound, Eucalyptus confidently announced that this was “completely normal” and the device had been disabled. Glarg seemed to harbor some doubts, but he led the party forward past the ring.
After another quarter mile, the party came upon a break to the left side. An underground stream rushed into a foul pool of stinking slime. Kelmor swung his dire sword towards a bipedal humanoid that appeared to be hiding in a crevice. The humanoid was about four and one half feet tall and almost as broad. It had orange colored skin and umber colored hair.
Glarg shouted across the racing stream, but the creature did not react. Sola peered across the stream, but she could not discern any additional information. The time for action had come. Glarg looped a coil of rope about his waist and leapt a mighty spring across the stream. Never one to settle for subtle, Glarg did a backflip and spin while in mid-air, landing in a splits.
After Glarg fastened the rope, the rest of the party easily made their way across the stream. Sola quickly determined that the humanoid appeared to be dead. Eucalyptus did a more thorough investigation and found that the poor creature appeared to have been expertly assassinated! [Foreshadowing!]
Mallan drew on his extensive knowledge to let the party know that this creature was a Duergar. Duergar are relatives of dwarves that live deep in the ground and are often associated with evil and vile creatures from the eternal darkness beneath.
A comprehensive search of the Duergar turned up two items of particular note. One was an oddly engraved medallion. The other was a clay ball inscribed with the runes of Mastery, Law, Earth, and Evil (True Mastery). Mallan felt like the medallion had something to do with the Far Realm and Star Pacts, but the specifics eluded him at that moment.
The party continued on down the corridor about 30 minutes and came out into a large, natural cavern. There were some unusual features in the room. There were three small pools, deep enough that they would have required the party members to swim to get across them. There were also four stalagmites. Sola’s quick eyes revealed that the tops of the stalagmites had been chopped off and flattened at about twenty feet above the floor of the cave. The whole area was lit with torches placed along the walls.
The party was not alone! Two Firebats and two half-demons were on the floor of the cavern. On the closest stalagmite, a creature peered down on the party. The creature appeared to be composed of swirling, multi-hued crystals.
Kelmor began to chuckle madly and ran from the chamber while muttering “rule them all! Yes! Rule them all!” to his sword. Kelmor’s blob bounded after Kelmor. Sterling ran after Kelmor yelling to Glarg, letting the party leader understand his intent to keep an eye on Kelmor.
Before the party could react, the creature on the stalagmite stood and uttered an arcane phrase that caused a lightning storm to engulf a large area surrounding the party. Glarg shrugged off the eldritch effects, but the rest of the party took significant damage. The bolts of power continued to play across the scene, and the party knew that to remain in area was tantamount to death. A grand melee ensued!
The party took a closer look at the two half-demons and elected to call them “Carrions.” The Carrions were dressed entirely in skin tight, black clothing. Their first action was to create large areas of mist that obscured all within.
The Firebats swooped repeatedly through the party and caused much pain. Several of the party members collapsed under the repeated assault.
Glarg wounded one of the Carrion, and the Carrion formed its own blood into a howling, black sword. The other Carrion actually savaged its own wrist to form its own foul sword. Soon the Carrion surrounded Glarg. One of the Carrion used some type of odd, necrotic energy patches on Glarg. The patches wrought dreadful damage to the party leader. Eventually Glarg collapsed under the attacks.
As the party engaged the crystalline creature, they suffered psychic backlash every time they struck him. The creature slowly retreated from the combat, calling out in telepathically that he would soon meet the party again. (The only obvious way out of the tunnel he retreated into was into Logmar’s tower. The party assumes that the crystalline creature is an ally of Logmar.)
Several of the party members fell and recovered; only Sola remained on her feet throughout the fray. In the end, the party was utterly victorious.
The party recovered several items from the encounter. Each of the half-demons had on black, two fine silk cloaks (each worth approximately 250 wheels), an amulet with several Runes on it (made of dull silver), and five vials of white powder.
During the fight with the Firebats and the crystalline mage, Varis was mortally wounded. Several attempts were made to revive him, but in the end he heroically succumbed to his wounds in defense of the party.
The party was dumbstruck by the loss of Varis. Sola recalled that the party had been given a scroll of reincarnation with two uses by Unir, the Shaman of Daka Fal, at Altar Rock.
Sola read aloud, the magical phrases, and, as the ink disappeared from the first reading of the scroll, a thrum broke forth and Varis remains crumbled to dust and were blown away by a gust of wind, leaving only his clothing and physical possessions behind. About ten minutes later, a human who greatly resembled the deceased stumbled into the chamber claiming to be Varis.
After a few moments of questioning, the party determined that this was indeed the reincarnated form of Varis, now a human.
While the party had fought with the assassins, Firebats, and crystalline mage, several large, green skinned, large, three-legged creatures had ambled into the cavern. The critters lay between the party and the way towards the tower. Glarg was the first to approach. As Glarg approached, the lead creatures mewled in a questioning tone and stuck out its tongue. Glarg followed suit, and the creature touched its tongue to Glarg’s. After an awkward moment, the party determined that the creatures were not hostile. Eucalyptis was able to mount and ride one. Glarg and Mallan determined that these critters were not natural, clearly the work of a powerful alchemist.
The party would have spent more time trying to engage with their new friends, but Kelmor and Sterling had failed to return, and Glarg goaded the party into further action. “Time is short!” Glarg bellowed. The party raced on to the end of the tunnel.
The tunnel terminated in a rough cut shaft leading some 150’ to the sub-cellars of Logmar’s tower. A bronze set of rungs were driven into the wall of the shaft.
[Note: In Zhalindor, the common metal is bronze. Iron was first created by the dwarves and is magical. While humans and dwarves can handle iron with impunity, elves and trolls are burned by the magical metal. Many of the metals in Zhalindor can be fashioned and magically enchanted to become “runic” metals. Implements fashioned from Runic metals can hold tremendous arcane energies.]
The party emerged into an open area in the sub-cellar of Logmar’s tower. The party was confronted by a huge, green skinned creature that seemed to be a larger version of the critters that the party had found below. Further confounding the party, this huge creature had Runes emblazoned on its body including: Mastery, Law, Earth, and Evil. Hmmmmmm … the party seemed to recall seeing those Runes before … and recently too! Sola recalled that these were the Runes on the clay bowl that the party had found earlier.
Mallan volunteered to walk with the bowl up to the critter. It looked curiously at Mallan and stuck out its tongue. Mallan also noted that there were two snake-men standing in one of the side passages. When they saw Mallan, they stated, “move aside, the Master bids them to pass!” They obligingly moved aside.
Sola recalled that the party last previously encountered control of creatures through a clay bowl was the Souless outside of Balcon at Pringsley’s farm. During that encounter, Glarg had shattered the bowl to break the control.
Sola threw down the bowl, shattering it. Immediately the huge critter turned and attacked the snake-men. The party used the diversion to liberate Isabella and five dwarven prisoners.
All of the prisoners had been drugged. Isabella was fettered with Runic silver coffles marked with the Runes of Magic, Beast, and Lunar.
The party quickly retreated down the ladder back into the tunnels below the Tower. As the party descended, some entity spoke into their minds … “yesssss, you amussssse me! You have bit off more than you know. I will ssssssee you again ssssssssoon!”
As the sun set, Isabella transformed into a fiercesome wolf-person, but her fetters held. The party made its way swiftly back to Karst’s Keep.
The party made its way back to Karst’s Keep, picking up Caz'par, Kelmor, and Sterling. Kelmor spent much of his time talking to his sword and occasionally looking menacingly at the other party members who did their best to avoid Kelmor and his sword.
Lord Karst was delighted to be reunited with his daughter, but he was appalled that Isabella had apparently been intentionally infected with Lycanthropy by Logmar and his minions! Karst elected to keep the fetters on Isabella until the curse could be lifted.
All agreed that Unir, the Shaman of Daka Fal, was probably the best to consult with to determine a way of lifting the curse. Alas, Unir is several days away near Quivera. The party, Lord Karst, and Isabella agreed that the safest course was to keep the fetters on and move as quickly as possible to Fire Mountain to destroy the Box of Sorrow.
The party spoke extensively with Lord Karst about his experiences, the Slith, and the threat of Veldman. Interestingly, Isabella indicated that Logmar had dug too deep and uncovered a nest of Duergar and Gnolls. They had led Logmar to a burial crypt for Slith. Some foul enchantment allowed a long dead Slith sorcerer to possess Logmar. It explains why Logmar looks like a Slith now! Also, Isabella was adamant that the threat must be eliminated by the party taking the fight to the Gnolls and Duergar, because as long as the crypt remains open, they will continue to capture prisoners to be possessed by the ancient, evil Slith.
Isabella confirmed that Logmar's Slith Mage possessor is intent on using the magical energies released when the two demon stars, Acos and Thunston, align. Logmar's intent is to channel the power of the alignment into a great teleportation that will allow one of the Seven Slithlords to be transported to Tumeria.
Lord Karst blanched at the news. He informed the party that a single Slith Lord could devastate the entire Kingdom of Tumeria. Glarg queried how the Slith Lords had been stopped before. Lord Karst said that the last major confrontation had occured at the end of the First Age when men had first broken from under the yoke of the Slith Lords on the northern continent, Zhalindor. (Palmalta, the southern continent, is the original home of humankind.) Lord Karst said that a noble group of adventurers had taken the Runes from the Slith Lords, and the allies of Man had sealed the seas. Lord Karst had actually spoken to one of the immortals who fought the Slith Lords; Saint Acheron was the immortal whom Lord Karst had met, but Acheron had never explained the details of what had been done. Lord Karst did know that the end of the First Age was marked when the Seven Slith Lords were imprisoned, sleeping in specially prepared barrows, where they likely remain to this day.
[Lord Karst had mentioned the Runes before. When he told his tale of working with the Tien, Hrothmir, and Carastinian, Karst mentioned that after assembling some type of uber-powerful and destructive artifact, the trio had received instructions from the gods to disassemble the artifact. The Tien and Carastinian complied, but Hrothmir (called "the Bold") ignored the gods and began to collect other Runes. Karst was rewarded for his role as protector of the Trio with immortality. While Hrothmir wanted Karst to stay on, Karst felt mocking the gods to be a bad idea and took his leave. Karst did hear of the events that followed. Hrothmir's goal was to destroy the forces of Evil and Chaos in the world. In the end, Hrothmir's machinations caused a great disruption in the planes, and the Invisible God had to personally intervene to prevent another gods' war. The Runes were scattered, and Hrothmir was supposedly cursed to wander Zhalindor in some way.]
[Eucalyptis asked Lord Karst just how old he was, and he pondered the query a long while before answering, "it is hard to reckon exactly. I was born in the city of Trogaar, the military center for the Kingdom of Lei Po, during the Second Age of Man. It was near the end of that time though. The first of the immortals I met was Hrothmir; although I do not think he was immortal at that point. He and his colleagues, the Tien (called the Wandering) and Carastinian (called the Red), were summoned to the Tower of the Rising Sun in the Yagha-Tsorv mountains. The Tower of the Rising Sun is legended to have been created before the Ages of Man. I did not enter, but after the visit to the Tower the Trio began visiting the far corners of Zhalindor to recover the Runes and arcane knowledge needed to build the Artifact. This took several lifetimes. I suspect that the Green Orb, the Rune of Magic, offered us immortality merely through our possession of it. The Trio went to audience with the king of Lei Po, but I do not easily remember his name so many millenia later. He rebuffed us, and we were loathe to unleash the power of the Artifact. So, instead, we journeyed to the Temple of Eldar and spoke with His highpriest. We were rebuffed again, but Carastinian told the priest that he had one year and a season to reconsider. No repentence was forthcoming. The Trio worked a mighty magic and Zhalindor punished the iniquities of the Kingdom of Lei Po. Great stones fell from the heavens. Fires poured from the earth. The ground shook. Winds of death blew from the lands of ice and snow. Plagues sprang up throughout the land. The devastation continued for a hundred years or more. In the end, only a waste, the Great Waste remained. We set off to speak with the King of Timeria to the south. At last we returned to Credia, the great capitol of the lands of men. After many years, pilgrims went north through Gedro pass to reclaim the lands of the north. The brave headed into the Great Waste, and the clever turned to the west to build new and better lands. After a millenia or two, the first of the kingdoms were founded, the grand state of Tumeria in Tiola Moldre, the City of Seven Towers. I was there and saw the plague of Wampheri. In those days I fought like a demon-possessed man to save King Damroth and the other six scions, but I rejected Kernan and his foul sorceries. Until at last Unmir emerged from that cursed line. He was a wise and noble man, and I followed a mortal for the first time in over three thousand years. So, fair halfling, I do not know exactly it could be four or even five millenia, or maybe more. We have great tasks ahead of us. We have a Slith Lord to thwart. We have the servants of the Old Ones to destroy or dispel, and I will aid you in destroying Veldman. Once these tasks are complete, who can say, but perhaps it is time for my reign here in the Third Age to end. Who can say? Who can say?"]
The party had learned much during their recent travels and travails, and they elected to stay on with Lord Karst and Isabella for a week to enhance their skills before the trek to Fire Mountain. Additionally, they waited one more day to get past the next full moon, feeling that this was easier than potentially having Isabella break her bonds while on the trail.
The party used the time with Lord Karst to figure out that the amulet from the room with the stalagmites was a +2 Amulet of Protection, the medallion from the Duergar is a medallion for summoning servants of the Old Ones, and the five vials of white powder are an ingested poison.
[In Zhalindor, there is a full moon each Wildday.]
The party made its way without incident to the lava tunnels beneath Fire Mountain.