EvilCoy's Scarred Lands

Humble Beginnings
A new campaign set in the Scarred Lands begins

Spring, 153 AV in Arach’s Rest, Archduchy of Lageni:

As we didn’t have sufficient numbers to run the Age of Worms campaign, we decided to start a new campaign impromptu. Ben, Shawn, and Steve quickly made up characters while I quickly put together the village of Arach’s Rest and the adventure.

The village of Arach’s Rest is a border post sitting in the foothills of the Kelder Mountains, not far from the beginnings of Irontooth Pass. Rustfang, the first fort that the Calastian and Lageni military took from the Dwarves of Burok Torn, lies up in the mountains to the East. Nearby burial mounds, forests, and foothills of the Kelder Mountains make the villagers hardy and capable of defending themselves against the occasional threat. Thanks to the common patrols of Lageni military and the occasional visit from the elite Black Dragoon’s, the village typically has little to fear from creatures or beasts in the areas where farming, logging, and mining are actively taking place. However, outside the areas where patrols are common, is wilderness and danger.

There are roughly 100 souls who live in the village proper of Arach’s Rest. Of course, there are more who live in the surrounding farm lands, cutyards, and mines that provide drivers to the village economy. Of the 100 souls, three in particular harbor thoughts of adventure: Gruff the Dwarf, Kronk the Half-Orc, and Cyndarian the human. Gruff works the stables and smithy, endentured servant to Jenna. Kronk frequents the local woods usually bringing back herbs to sell to Esmerelda the cook or one of the priests. Occasionally, he has went out with Jenna and Gruff to find materials for forging or veterinary medicine. And when there has been a burn or problem at the forge or stable (damn warhorses), Cyndarian has helped provide some healing when the village priests were not available or unwilling.

You awake to another morning in Arach’s Rest, which means hard work. The army battalion that was here yesterday is moving on towards the Irontooth Pass based on the cloud of dust rising to the east. The birds chirp in the trees, and dogs bark as they chase children running in the street, while the sounds of hammer work begins to ring out from Jenna’s forge in a steady, strong beat.

Meanwhile, you smell bread baking at the inn. The local mill is turning and water babbles in the stream providing locomotion. The doors to the two churches in town are open and acolytes are sweeping the floors and doing other devotional works.

Suddenly, the sounds of a normal morning are thrown awry. A young girl is running into the town palisade screaming and weeping hysterically as if Belsameth herself were on her heels. A crowd of townsfolk and guardsmen quickly surround the young lass including Celnin.

You recognize the girl as Gorla, a young farm girl, perhaps fourteen winters old. She and her family live several miles from town. She is weeping and near hysteria, telling anyone who will listen that her parents are dead and her younger sister and infant brother are missing.

Gorla explained “I had snuck out of the house last night to meet my boyfriend. When I returned before sunrise, I saw father’s body in the doorway along with mother; there was no light in their eyes. My 3 year old sister and infant brother were nowhere to be found. The draft horses had been slain as well. I ran here as fast as I could.” Her feet are cracked and bleeding from the exertion and the teen looks exhausted.

Celnin the sheriff turns to the crown and says “We must go investigate, but we must also make sure that the rest of the farms are safe. I will take a militia posse with me to investigate the scene, while the remaining guardsmen will ride to nearby farms to ensure they have not also been attacked. Who has skills that will aid me in this investigation?”

Most townsfolk are not overly interested in going. Kronk and Cyndarian volunteer. Gruff looks to Jenna for guidance who indicates her approval of him going based on his ability to track.

With that, the posse rides to the farm to find bloody conditions matching Gorla’s story. Investigation finds the family dog chopped up and a trail leading to and away from the farmhouse. After spitting in disgust, Gruff confirms the tracks and trail was made by goblins probably coming down from the Kelder Mountain foothills to raid and pillage. All are concerned with the health of the missing infant and child. Celnin admits that this is not the first such raid and that in each case children are disappearing. The patrol that had rode to other local farms returns and indicates that no other raids occurred last night. Celnin asks Gruff and the others to take two guardsmen and hunt down the goblin menance.

With that the group proceeds to track the goblin trail. Sometime later that evening, they are several miles from the village and near total dark sets in. The group observes a strange red flashing light from the village, which is then answered by a green light somewhere deeper in the Kelder Mountains. All mark this as strange and note it for future concern, but just over the hill they see that the goblins have made a camp.

Thoughts of ambush and planning rapidly takes place. The group sneaks down the hill and gets close to the camp seeing that the children are bound near the fire, with the plan for Cyndarian Alykayne to shield and bless the group once close. However, the goblin dog by the camp detects the group before the ambush can be fully realized and combat with the 9 goblins begins. After a back and forth battle, the group manage to kill about half the goblins. One goblin in particular thinks to take hostage the children, but Cyndarian’s crossbow bolt stops him just enough for Gruff’s great axe to behead him before he can cause harm. The guardsmen take the brunt of punishment from the goblin’s weapons, but in the end all are killed or ran off, except for one that was knocked out by a guard’s flail. The group frees the children, ties up the goblin prisoner, and force marches back to the village of Arach’s Rest. Arriving early in the morning, their bodies are exhausted and fatigued, but their spirits are buoyed by the rescue. However, a note found on one of the goblin corpses causes concern:

“We shall meet again tonight at the base of the Horn, expecting there shall be more children this time. Half-orc children are unacceptable. If you do not provide more children you shall not receive further items and you risk my wrath. I will find others to provide the children if you cannot manage this simple task. Be warned. May the blood of the Father of Monsters aid you in your task. —Kraal.”

The SpellPlague
So we accidentally freed a titan while intentionally freeing a psychotic fey lord? Of course it sounds bad if you say it like that...

Mid-Winter, Vanger 8th (The Month of Pestilence), 151 AV in Lokil:

After opening the gates to the City of Brass, the group fled from the emerging aspect of Chardun and the massed armies of the efreet sultan who burst through the gateway as soon as the bindings were destroyed. Kara teleported the group back to the Black Gate where they hurriedly went back to Scarn to emerge out of the scalding geyser on the hot, baking Sweltering Planes. Using a bit more of Kara’s magic, they teleported to the Library of Lokil, having decided it was time to seek Allustan’s wisdom at the Great Library now that debts to the Lord of Bats were paid. Paranoid regarding Chardun’s threats, the group went to the Golden Hammer Inn within the merchant-town outside of the mountain-city Lokil to rest and to make contact with refugees from Diamond Lake: Allustan and Feflin. The remainder of the 6th and 7th were spent recovering from wounds, discussions of future deeds, and toasts to friends lost. For the first time in months, you slept last night without a life debt to a psychotic fey lord hanging over your heads and there was a sense of peace and accomplishments that lulled you to sleep in the plush beds of the Golden Hammer even with promises of a god for your enslavement and destruction.

The group awoke in the morning and find breakfast, with various members making their way down from their rooms at different times in the morning based on sleep schedule and previous nights drinking. At some point it was noticed that Kara had not came down this morning.

Xaylin complains of being sick to his stomach. Zoltan diagnosis him and determines likely food poisoning from the huge feast he consumed in the Great Inferno when being the guest of the salamander ruler of Coalchester. Xaylin groans and rapidly heads to his room wishing for death rather than the severe vomiting and explosive diarrhea that Zoltan believes will be next.

The group then asks whether the innkeep has seen Kara. The elderly innkeep says “Haven’t rightly seen her this morning”. You notice that he wears nice clothing and has a small chain with a golden hammer on it about his neck. Zoltan recognizes the symbol as holy to Hedrada, the lawgiver.

Zhou Pan asks for the room number to Kara‘s room, which the innkeep provides. Knocking on her door doesn’t produce a response. Zoltan goes back to the innkeep and asks for the key. The innkeep is a little uncertain about giving up a key; he indicates that he can’t give out a key to someone just because you came in together and seem to be friendes; it isn’t policy. Zoltan talks with the innkeep a bit more and convinces him of his honest intent. The innkeep agrees to give the key if he can accompany the party.

The room looks much the same as the one you had…a bed, a small desk, a chamber pot, all of good quality and well kept. You notice that the bed appears slept on and the window and shutters are locked from the inside. No signs of a struggle are obvious. On the desk there is a folded piece of paper. Zhou Pan pockets the note and the group leave the innkeep to clean up the room while they slip off into one of their rooms for a private reading.

Kara’s note:

Dear Friends,

My master has been released and has set about restricting the access of gods to Scarn. The bindings upon the gate to the City of Brass held one of the last large piece of his essence; the release was sufficient for his power to coalesce. He has not restricted worship magic yet; likely he sees some need to maintain its function that we do not understand. The Marid and other genie folk are free as I have felt their influence and favor fall upon me. I leave you now without adversity though you may feel somehow betrayed by my intensions. I go now to see those I care for and to ensure their protection in the coming plague, even as I ready myself for the next mission from the Sire of Sorcery



The group is consternated and confused as to the note and duplicity (?) of Kara. They ponder the meaning and ramifications of this dire news and suddenly more than just Xaylin feel uneasy of stomach and aquivering of bowels.

After another hour, the time for the meeting approached. Around noon, Leon rented one of the private meeting rooms that adjoin the main, common hall of the Golden Hammer Inn. The kitchen staff brings in several large trays of food for your lunch and in a few minutes two familiar faces walk through the doorway: Allustan and Feflin. They are carrying some scrolls and note papers, looking much the part of the many scholars and scribes you have seen in your short time within Lokil. Both look a bit haggard and tired, as if they have been getting little sleep. Allustan appears to have lost further mobility in his injured leg, greatly leaning upon his staff as a cane or crutch as necessary.

Allustan said "Well met, Champions of Diamond Lake. It fills my heart with gladness to see you and in good health. What brings you to Lokil and how might I help you? "

Feflin said “Master, may we eat first. We have been so busy with research and this repast looks sumptious.”

Allustan replied “Yes, Feflin, we should nourish our bodies as well as minds. Surely our hosts will regale us with their heroic tales while we sup and then we can discuss business.”

The party tells tales of their adventures, culminating with the opening of the City of Brass whilst all fix plates and commence to eating. They do not include the news regarding Kara and her note.

Allustan congratulated the heroes on their accomplishments though he was a bit perplexed that they had opened the City of Brass in seeming defiance of the gods will. After a bit of wine to calm his nerves, he continued “Feflin and I have been reading a set of [[scrolls:scrolls-of-pheth-amon]] you found from members of the Ebon Triad. The scrolls are disturbing and speak of a powerful sorceror, by name Pheth Amon, who traveled to Kuluth Mar to seek out the Spire of Long Shadows. Read at your own leisure my friends, but beware the affect on your sanity if you read it long.”

Zhou Pan, Leon, and Zoltan reviewed the scrolls of Pheth Amon recalling their efforts in the Free City to stop the horde of spawn from taking over and ending all life in the city. An effort that included fighting side by side Amanita the Unlucky, Ildamar, and Sarina of the Shroud.

Feflin said “It is good that you and the other heroes of the Free City stopped those coffins from creating an army of those wormy spawn before they were able to destroy the whole city. I hear the Free City still hasn’t recovered…much like a town after a plague…over half the city gone in a few hours.”

Allustan said “True, true. But, now it appears that your focus must be on Alhaster, as that is where this Pheth Amon seems to have originated from. I have been in discussions with Cestarian and his apprentices, and we have found that Balakarde, my friend and a foe of the Ebon Triad and Kyuss, was last seen in Alhaster seeking the advice of a woman named Lashonna.”

Allustan continued “You see, during our research to figure out what Pheth Amon wrote about, Cestarian and I uncovered a hand-written note from Balakarde stuffed in a book about Alhaster. Cestarian and I believe that the Lashonna mentioned in the note may have been the last person to see Balakarde alive. Even though Balakarde’s meeting with her was over a decade ago, it is still likely that she remembers him. After all, my master was very formidable and intimidating. Hopefully, she knows where he went or what he did, or perhaps the fate of his notes on Kyuss and the Age of Worms.”

Allustan showed the party a note scribbled in quick fashion. He indicates it was written by Balakarde, his master and friend of Cestarian. Evidently, Balakarde was a powerful archmage and foe of the Ebon Triad and Kyuss about 10 years before your beginnings in Diamond Lake.

Balakarde’s note

Alhaster is the key.

Missing heretics never captured… Possible site of Ebon Triad foundation? Did they turn to the cult of Sethris for aid and then more recently to that of Vecna? Are new Triad leaders trained somewhere in Alhaster, and then sent out to start their own cult cells in other cities?

To Do:
– Lashonna (helped defeat heretics may know more about them that wasn’t printed in Rhorsk’s book)
– Rhorsk (research indicates he did not flee Alhaster after it fell – he’s probably dead but may have left some sort of legacy)
– Ebon Triad (are they still active in town? Find out if their original Death Shrine still exists)

Feflin broke in “Master, I had heard rumors that the wicked dragon Illthane had flown to Diamond Lake from the North during his attacks. Some fisherman from the Free City told me they saw the dragon flying over Devils March. Caravan traders who have frequented Alhaster or the Bandit Kingdoms to the north of Devil’s March swear that the dragon lairs somewhere within that area. He was a servant of the Ebon Triad was he not?”

Allustan patted Feflin on the back in congratulations before saying “Good thinking Feflin. Perhaps there is a connection. Excellent use of research and intuition, my apprentice.” Feflin beams at the attention and praise from his master. Allustan continued “I do recall in reading some of Balakarde’s notes trying to track down Ebon Triad activity and it often mentioned Alhaster…and in a few cases a dragon was mentioned.”

It seems we could have a dragon hunt on our hands…(rubbing hands excitedly) —Leon

The mention of a Death Shrine in conjunction with the Ebon Triad had many members of the adventuring party concerned. They asked about being able to contact Balakarde, but Allustan admitted that all of his spells and those of Cestarian had failed to locate the wizard. Allustan and Cestarian’s contacts in Alhaster, although limited, indicate that Lashonna is still present in the city.

Leon asked “What do you suggest we do Allustan?”

Allustan replied “I see a trip to Alhaster in your future, to answer you Leon. That is where the remaining leads point to…”

Zoltan said “I think finding Lashonna and asking some questions is perhaps in order, although it seems to me that if Balakarde wanted to be found by asking questions of a known associate…he would’ve been found…”

Allustan said "One of Cestarian’s apprentices was searching his library for information on Alhaster when she found the note stuffed in a book. The book where we found the note was in “History of Alhaster” and it was written by a cleric of Hedrada named Rhorsk. I seem to recall that Rhorsk’s book speaks of Ebon Triad activity in the city, but my memory is faded to the specifics."

Zoltan asked “What can you tell us of Alhaster, Allustan?”

Allustan said "Well I hear that the city is ruled by a tyrannical follower of Chardun, the self titled Prince Zeech. He evidently rules with an iron fist, so raising a commotion might get undue attention…however, I hear that he allows all faiths to enter his city and is good at encouraging trade. The city itself is capital to Redhand, one of the small Bandit Kingdoms that sit north of Devil’s March.

After more discussion, coupled with food and drink, the party and guests finished the meeting. Allustan continued to answer questions as best he could with the group with Feflin throwing in when he could. After an hour or so, the meeting was concluded with Allustan and Feflin wishing the adventurer’s luck on their journey. Allustan agreed that he could provide scrying or a teleport spell to get them to Alhaster

Early afternoon brought “shopping fever” upon the companions, particularly Leon. With thoughts toward preparing for adventures in Alhaster, the companions went outside to walk about Lokil’s trade quarter and bazaars.

Lokil is a trading city and enjoys caravans stopping there that travel from Fangsfall, Hollowfaust, Calastia, Darakeene, and Shelzar that supply its scholars and monks the products they need including foodstuffs. Those same caravans go away with the inks, books, and other items produced in Lokil as well as having the benefit of a protected place to rehydrate and restock their caravans in the brutal Ukrudan desert. The trade quarter of Lokil has a smaller bazaar than many other similar cities, but stores, shoppes, and inns with large stables dot the quarter offering their wares.

The sky is blue, the weather is clear, and as these are winter months, even the sun is not particularly harsh today. Hours pass as the adventurers walk about looking at books, weapons, and other magical items.

Suddenly, from beyond the eastern horizon’s rim, you see a pillar of azure fire with a fat crown tumbling toward the sky colossolly high and large. The ravening pillars crown was molten sapphire, and it unleashes a fiery catastophe in its wake.

Azure mushroom cloud

In seconds, the group sees a shimmering wall of disrupted air racing across the lip of the horizon being chased by a endless wall of azure flames. It is racing from the mushroom cloud outward in all directions…it is headed towards you faster than you can run. The ground quakes and a nearby building collapses. One would think it a natural disaster if not for the blue flames.

The wall of air and fire races towards Lokil at a stupefying pace. The occupants of the bazaar and the city itself recognize it will be upon the city in moments and you feel the walls will be scant protection.

Leon begins preparing a teleportation spell to get the party out of danger. Zhou Pan looks at the scared and frightened people about him in the Bazaar as he balances on the quaking earth.

Zoltan shouts over the din “We’re just going to leave your brother, again?”

Leon vehemently shouts “Dammit to hell! No.” He turns to face the impending doom.

A shrieking gust of air blows over all in the bazaar throwing carts, people and other items about. Everyone is knocked prone by the sonic cacaphony and hurricane force winds.

The adventurers lay scattered as the earth quakes and steams. Above them, the air flickers with blue fire levitating, jumping, and lashing about randomly. Where the blue flame touches someone or the environs, the victim is burned to ashes, mutated, scarred, or locked into a sapphire crystalline lattice in instants. The stone is warped or reshaped with occasional arcane sigils burned into it via the blue flame.

Striking like a cobra of magical flame, the flame lashes Zoltan burning him and paralyzing him like a giant wasps victims. Screaming aloud as the flames ravage his body in moments he is frozen inside of a giant crystalline prison. Leon turns to run into one of the intact buildings but is struck from behind, likewise burning and frozen in stasis within the azure lattice. Zhou Pan tries to dodge the flame but is also struck down

The pain increases to higher and higher levels and you feel unconsciousness rushing towards you as the blue flames burn…Zoltan, Leon, and Zhou Pan try to block out the pain but it is too much as you scream impotently while burning inside the crystal prisons. As the party mercifully feels unconsciousness or shock taking them from the pain, one clear voice and image forms in your minds telepathically reaching your shellshocked and pain-addled brains.


I have been reborn!!!

Know that many of you will not survive the wrathful purge I have laid on the land such that the cycle of life and birth on Scarn is returned to health. It is a necessary sacrifice to ensure the survival of this world. Thus, I have invoked the spell plague to change this world as I like it, and I will tax those who use my mana. In addition to restarting the great wheel of the world to spinning, this spell plague will give my followers and those of the titans a respite from the civilizations spawned from our wayward children.

Yet, I now see the wisdom of my fellow titan Denev and can feel that another war with our children could spell the end of this fragile world that I hold dear. Thus, I have invoked a restriction such that any gods who come into the Scarred Lands do so as mortal creatures.

I bequeath upon you great changes to this realm and reality by the power of my magick.

And with that the vision in your mind melts, the waves of pain overcomes you and you pass out, drifting in the abyss of darkness. Time ceases to have any relevance to you…

Mid-Summer, Hedrot 15th (The Month of Pestilence), 152 AV in Lokil:

Nearly 15 months later, the crystal surrounding Zhou Pan shatters and he emerges transformed.

Guardsmen stand at attention with spears pointing at him as he emerges…evidently some things that emerge are not friendly. Looking quickly about, he sees several other crystals with guards standing nearby in the ruins of the bazaar. Though obviously less populated than before due to the Spellplague, the city of Lokil is well on its way to rebuilding any losses and damage to structures, which were less impacted than the denizens of the Scarred Lands by the azure flames.

Zhou Pan attempts to open the crystals containing his friends but finds the lattice impenetrable. Hoping that they will survive the burning ordeal with minds intact, he busies himself with training with the monks of the Order of the Closed Book in Lokil. These monks are the guardians of the great library. A wizened old monk who is about to go on a pilgrimage in the Ukrudan desert to die (evidently a tradition amongst the Order) befriends Zhou Pan and teaches him much before leaving him his earthly positions as he goes on his “long walk”.

Zhou Pan comes to check on the crystals containing his friends every dawn and dusk. Many hundreds of such crystals exist in Lokil alone and it is said that it is the same worldwide. He finds Zoltan and Leon in the bazaar and Xaylin locked in a fetal position still in the Golden Hammer Inn.

Meanwhile, he hears rumors of terrible creatures that have been created by the azure flames, as well as existing creatures that have been mutated or warped by the Spellplague. Some regions of the Scarred Lands still have pockets of the blue flame flickering about constantly warping and morphing the landscape and creatures within…other areas have been made devoid of magick. Magick items have lost their potency in some cases, while others have been recharged or reformed more powerful than ever before.

Zhou Pan investigates the crystals and finds that the crystals contain sentient species. Most come out changed to some degree but mostly themselves; a few of the crystals open and the things coming out are aberrations, chaos spawn of the worst kind. Thus, the posted guards to protect the city.

As the months go on, you wonder if Zoltan, Xaylin or Leon will escape unscathed or be doomed. Time passes as Zhou Pan learns the kata of the monks and has time to reflect on his philosophy and previous vows and how they have (or have not) helped the world.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 1st (The Month of Protection), 153 AV in Lokil:

Eight months later, Lokil is celebrating New Year’s Victory with flowers and parades through the streets, perhaps the first festival where the people have been able to move from thoughts of survival to getting back to normal. Zhou Pan watches atop the crystal containing Zoltan as the populance enjoys themselves, brooding and meditating as he watches the citizenry sweep by his entombed companion. Suddenly, the crystal surrounding Zoltan shatters and Zhou Pan jumps clear. A winged form emerges but looks distinctly like the aasimar, Zoltan.

Zhou Pan clasped his friend and said “I know not what happened, but I’ve kept a vigil over you, and our swordbrothers during your encasement. I tried to free you but it is not possible.”

Zoltan looked about at the busy bazaar and celebratory festivities. Still, even with masks and special dress, he could see some bore the marks of being burned by the blue flame. A number of crystals containing people still sit about the open area, many with flowers or small gifts at their feet representing devotions or wishes from friends or family.

Zoltan clutches his head as many questions fill it. Suddenly, he feels a divine presence reassuring you and filling a black spot in your mind. Having been without that reassuring feeling for some long period of time while in stasis, the touch seems heightened…perhaps deeper than before.

Zoltan and Zhou Pan catch up on what has been going on and the state of Xaylin and Leon. The theory is that Mesos was reformed that fateful day nearly a year and a half ago and that he unleashed the Spellplague on the civilizations of the divine races to give more and equal footing to the children and races of the Titans. Many sentient species are locked into stasis and at least 10% of the population of the world was turned to ash or mutated into horrible abberations, the divine races have suffered a significant setback. However, true to Mesos’s pronouncement, he has went to rest and magic works much the same as it did before though the world and peoples have changed as a result of his mighty spellcraft.

Days continue to pass as the climate and pace of civilization begins to recover…nearly two years past the pillar of blue fire. Mesos continues to rest unchallenged by the gods. Civilization slowly recovers, though rumors of some smaller communities being taken over by titanspawn seem to be a more prevalent rumor. Rumors of caravan goers are of strange, abberant beasts roaming about…mutated by the spell plague and some that even live in the blighted areas where the blue fire remains to this day mutating, scarring, or burning to ashes those foolish enough to go within.

Zoltan spends the time in prayer and in contact with members of his order, in particular conversing remotely with Sir Arthur Dayne. He also has contact with Raldinian in dreams. When not in prayer, he helps Zhou Pan and the Hedradan clergy and monks rebuild and nurse the populance of Lokil back to good health.

Mid-Winter, Vanger 15th (The Month of Pestilence), 153 AV in Lokil:

Over two years total after the Spellplague and Pillar of Azure Fire, the crystal encasing Leon and Xaylin shatters. Leon immediately goes for his blades and nearly goes about killing the guards before the voices of Zoltan and Zhou Pan sway his hands. Rushing to the Golden Hammer Inn, they find Xaylin much in the state you left him, except he too is scarred and changed from the spellplague. Zoltan chuckles at the torture the halfling had to go through to endure not only the ravages of the blue fire, but also a two year long episode of the dreaded “Mudd Butt”.

While Zhou Pan helps Xaylin and Leon clean up and recover from their ordeal, Zoltan takes a moment to borrow the scroll case Xaylin carries that house copies of the Apostolic Scrolls and Pheth Amon’s letters. Sighing, he points to the scrolls as the others read the particular entry; one of the prophetic events proceeding the Age of Worms was that of a burning comet lancing down from the heavens to strike the earth in a tremendous, mushroom-shaped cloud of devastation.

Bringing the fight to Ingacka
What did he just do?

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 24th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:

Leon, Zoltan, and Zhou Pan entered the wooden door and felt the heated air and the smells of cooked food. Having traveled by sled across the icy wastes of the 5th layer of the Iron Hells, Stygia, they were chilled to the bone and nearly frostbit even with protective magicks. Having climbed the great iceberg that housed the devil-town of Tantlin and the fortress of Ingacka in its hollow interior, they made way through the icy caverns that lead to the town avoiding challenge from devils as they acted as merchants.

After receiving the cold stares of the crowd of merchants, devils, and other beings present within the Polar Opposites, the group went to the bar for drinks and rooms. Domino, beautiful half-fiend barkeep, quickly got keys and refreshments for the weary trio. As they enjoyed their repast, the group discussed in hushed tones how best to find the wayward halfling, who Leon felt sure was alive and somewhere in the plane, perhaps within Tantlin itself based on his strong link with his brother.

Meanwhile, the disguised Xaylin was indeed nearby watching his brother and his adventuring companions at the bar. After a bit of time, he eased into the shadows, went invisible, and stealthily made his way over to the companions. Edging out his dagger, he put it between his brothers legs and began tapping his armored cup.

Leon nearly sputtered out his ale as something began making a metallic sound against his private areas and a disembodied voice said “I wouldn’t move if you want to keep that”. Quickly recovering upon recognizing his brother’s voice, Leon replied “I would still have more than you, runt.” Xaylin indicated the group should head upstairs to his room so they could talk in private away from prying ears.

In short order, the group headed upstairs and met within Xaylin’s chambers to discuss what had befell them both. After a bit of time, the adventurers had relayed their respective tales, with Xaylin being sure to reinforce that Burskel was very antsy to have the promised blades of Ingacka. With that, conversations turned to how to accomplish the mission – Leon still intent on engaging Moreto and some other heavy hitters to give them a bit more punch. Xaylin mentioned Kara being a potential aid to their cause and the group agreed to check her out to see if she would be a helpful worthy to the cause. Tired from their 15 hours of travel in the bitter cold of a fast moving sled, the group decided to turn in early.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 25th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:

The group slept well overnight, though all were cold when they awoke even with the blankets and firepits of their individual rooms. Leon went down and got breakfast arranged to be delivered back to their rooms so they could meet and scheme in relative peace. Meanwhile, Zhou Pan and Zoltan observed the normal rituals associated with Landsday, being the last day of the month, the day dedicated to the Earth Mother, the titan Denev. Xaylin meanwhile wrote a note for Kara and left it with Domino to arrange a meeting for shortly afte lunch.

A quick inventory of resources lead the group to continue with the plan to try to bypass Ingacka’s forces somehow. Leon, Zhou Pan and Zoltan remembered the area where they met the Barbed Devil and his mob of mine slaves and how they had got there, feeling that they could likely use teleportation spells to get them back to those points without going back through the poisonous and hallucinogenic fumes in the mines.

Noon quickly came and a knock came upon the door. Kara entered the room bearing a few exotic looking sausages and cheeses. Leon and Zoltan sucked in a bit of breath as the beauty entered the door, her creamy white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair striking a primal nerve within them both. After eating a quick lunch, the group asked Kara of her skills and intentions. She likewise did the same after explaining that she did not serve Burskell, just merely worked as an associate mercenary now and again for the beholder. Xaylin talked about her use of ice and frost magicks, and Kara explained that she was an Albadian, a barbaric civilization living far in the north of Ghelspad where many of the women are gifted with sorcerous powers. More introductions followed as well as some of the exploits of the group and Kara was suitably impressed. She agreed to aid the group with their adventures as long as she received an equal share of treasure.

Kara informed the group that their was some unrest in the city. Some devils had recently fallen out of the hierarchy and while trying to get through the byzantine rules to figure out where they fit, meanwhile causing trouble whilst waiting. Kara mentioned that a few well placed bribes could cause these devils to act as an effective distraction by launching a few wand-based attacks at Ingacka’s fortress. Capable of going through several intermediaries, Kara felt this would be one method to further distract the forces of their target. Several of these activities were set up to occur on the morrow, so that the devil guards of Ingacka would have to fan out and hunt in multiple areas for their attackers. Meanwhile, the group would teleport into the bowels of Ingacka’s fortress and quickly move up to his court area to attack, while Kara used magicks to prevent the devil’s from escaping or teleporting to the rescue of their lord. Kara had access to scrolls with invisibility and nondetection magicks, to further obfuscate and confuse their opponents.

Kara also mentioned that rumors were running rampant after the previous attack. Several devils were openly remarking that Ingacka was weak since the whole band of interlopers were not slain. Likewise, the closely guarded secret that Ingacka had a child and its mother living in his court had gotten out further leading the local fiendish population to question whether the great warrior had developed a chink in his armor. Evidently, one high devil had already challenged Ingacka, but Ingacka had slain the challenger whose head now decorated the entrance to Tantlin.

Leon had not heard from Moreto and felt that Kara would take care of their need for more firepower. Using a sending spell, he let Feflin know that they were in Stygia and would not need his help though his willingness to join them was appreciated.

Mid-Winter, Vanger 1st (The Month of Pestilence), 151 AV in Stygia:

At the appointed time, the group witnessed a series of flares and fireball flashes towards the direction of the gatehouse of Ingacka’s fortress. Gathering together, they quickly used invisibility sphere to keep from being seen and then teleported into the dungeons of the fortress. Thankfully, the mob of minors and the Barbed devils were no where to be seen. Quickly making their way up the tunnels, the group bypassed a few guard posts until they came to a post that was going to be difficult to sneak by. Xaylin snuck into the post and back-stabbed the Orthon devil that was leading 4 legionnaire devils. The rest of the group fell upon the surprised devils, quickly taking them out.

Further in the tunnels, the group came to a torture chamber and sort of betting parlor for the devils. Several huge, iron pentagrams with great barbs, spiked chains and spiked shackles were strung up on the walls by large chains. Several Orthon devils cruelly shoved a prisoner onto the barbs and wrapped him with the spiked chains as they made wages on how long the impaled prisoner would last. Watching in horror, the group saw the prisoner expire and the pentagram began to glow with an eerie purplish haze as if the soul had been trapped within the cursed iron. Revolted at the proceedings, the adventurers fell upon the devils with righteous fury, quickly killing them and striking down the pentagrams. Zoltan and Zhou Pan did there best to deface these unholy creations using holy water, blows, and urine in equal measures.

Soon the group came to a stairway leading up. The walls were obviously enchanted and soon began to keen at the presence of uninvited guests. Hurrying upwards, the group encountered mage devils that slowed their process and called ice down upon them. The great stairway continued up and the group weathered the attacks even as they climbed. A trap followed where large stone boulders came bounding down the stairs from above and threatened to crush them since there was limited space to hide or dodge these crushing rocks. However, the group was able to escape dire injury by agility, magic, or just luck depending on the adventurer and their method of avoidance.

Eventually, the group fought to the top of the stairs where the boulders were launched from and the outer court chambers of Ingacka’s court. The battle there was bloody and vicious consisting of many legion devils, orthon devils, and some more of the mage devils encountered earlier. A large set of double doors dominated the icy chamber, and late in the fight, the doors opened revealing a long passage to another set of open double doors and a throne room where Ingacka set next to his great hydra pet. Seeing the object of their quest, the companions launched their assault with renewed vigor quickly invading the throne room and locking in combat with the devil bodyguards, hydra, and Ingacka himself. More devils continued to teleport into the throne room and outer throne room as they became alerted to the attack.


The battle went back and forth as many minions were destroyed, but Ingacka and the hydra were difficult foes. Ingacka hit a button on his throne and suddenly the double doors of the throne room closed with a bang trapping the heroes within. Rising from his throne, Ingacka set upon Leon in a flurry of blows from his fiery blades quickly sending him reeling to the floor. Likewise, the great hydra had Zhou Pan bleeding from a multitude of bites. Kara used her ice magicks mightily as Xaylin and Zoltan called upon the spiritual abilities of their deities to further reduce the bodyguard forces. Kara used a special dimensional anchor spell from a scroll to keep further devils from entering the room via teleportation and soon their was a clammer at the double doors as the devils tried to break in to help their lord.

Fire demon2

As Ingacka and his devil bodyguards continued to fight and seemingly turn the tide on the adventuring strike team, a small girl dressed in a night shirt came running out of a side passage to stand over a semi­concious Leon and scream “Don’t you hurt my daddy!”. The child’s frantic mother came running out after her. In a surreal moment, Ingacka turned his attention to the child for a moment, a moment of decision, and then through his mighty blades through one of his devil court members impaling the creature to the wall. Ingacka screamed at the companions and his hydra “Kill the devils and I shall reward you.” Not sure if this was some trick or not, the party did as instructed even as Ingacka’s great hydra tore apart another of the devil court with its twelve heads. Soon the betrayed devils inside the court area were slain even as Kara’s magicks prevented them from fleeing. Meanwhile, the devils outside the courtroom redoubled their efforts to break down the door.

Ingacka, warrior and father, took off his helmet and set it down on the floor and then took a sack out and sprinkled dust about the area where he had stood. He explained that the group was to say that he was disintegrated if asked about their heroic exploits, as was his mighty hydra. Ingacka explains that he has long been in the service of Chardun, but had never fealt the power of family or love until recently; he now acknowledges his past misdeeds and only wishes to atone by living as a father and husband. It quickly becomes apparent that Ingacka has planned to use the groups attack to his advantage as he and his wife and child desire to leave behind Stygia, devils, and evil and have the chance to be a family. Ingacka relinquishes his great blades and the Rod of the Elements to the party as well as some treasures and bids them good luck. Zhou Pan and Zoltan both wish him well and think highly of his faith and turn of thought. With that, Ingacka’s wife activates an items and they gate out

Hearing the great doors to the court room beginning to crack from the thunderous pounding put on them by the angry devil’s outside, the group gathered together. Kara dispelled her anchor and then used a scroll to teleport them to Burskel’s weapon shop. Quickly, they handed over the blades to the beholder and concluded their business with the planar arms-dealer. Afraid to wait too long on Stygia and also afraid that the beholder might see their weakened condition following battle with Ingacka, the hydra, and his devil minions, the group used another scroll to teleport them to the portal leading from Stygia to Sigil, the City of Doors.

Quickly finding their way through the streets and the press of creatures ever present on the streets, the group found their way to the Goblin’s Crown, one of their favored inns in the city. They secured rooms and ordered food to be delivered, heading up to rest, heal, and otherwise stitch up their wounds. Jadess quickly brought them steaming victuals, sandwiches, and some bottles of wine. After recovering and eating a brief repast, the group split up the loot and then went back to their rooms to rest and reflect upon the encounter; successful in recovering the rod, yet used and manipulated by Ingacka to get his desired result as well.

Recovery from Stygia and the Rod of Elements
Gambling with the Priest of Enkili...

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 21st (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in The Free City:

Leon and Zoltan enter the City of Doors with the fragments and pieces of Zhou Pan in a sack. Not having much experience with the City of Doors religious orders nor having any favor with them, the pair decided to use a spell to shift themselves back to Scarn and to the Free City. Zoltan worked the magic, but his aim was off and Leon and Zoltan found themselves plunging towards the Blossoming Sea. As they fall, Leon recognizes the coastline and profile of Gull Island and the Coral Lighthouse before hitting the water. Leon surfaces quickly. Zoltan in his heavy plate armor is less likely. He comes back to the surface, but quickly recognizes his peril as the armor begans to drag him below the surface. Seeing the distance of swim required, Zoltan sheds his armor and he and Leon begin swimming towards the distant lighthouse as the sun begins to go down.

Leon stews as he swims on their situation and the likelihood that his brother will die at the hand of the devils he just escaped. Leon and Zoltan reach the lighthouse as the setting sun paints the sky with the hazy pinks and purples of dusk.

Going inside, the famished pair quickly set about ordering some food and drinks from the innkeep, Clayson, and his pet dire ape, Pongo. Declining the rowdy and noisy taproom full of sailors and other unsavory characters, Leon and Zoltan sit out on the porch and enjoy their morsel in silence, stained with blood of compatriots and devils, and soaked to the bone. Several nearby sailors laugh a little too loudly at the condition and sad state of the pair bringing a fuming Leon to attention and quickly in their faces. A challenge ensues and the dukes come out. Leon and a sailor begin circling each other dishing out vicious punches and kicks. Leon quickly gets the better of the man, jabbing him in the face. Half dazed, the leathery sailor throws a wicked slap against Leons ear stunning him momentairly and seeing his advantage grabs the ear and rips it off flinging it into the sea. Leon shakes off the dazed feeling as the pain from his ear hits his system and he sees crimson red not only spraying from his head, but also in his target. A huge gut punch and a right cross to the jaw send the sailor to the ground and Leon proceeds to curb stomp him a few times before the sailors’ friends and Zoltan can drag him off the unconscious and helpless man. Zoltan treats Leon’s ear wound with healing magic, but the damage is done.

In the mean time, many of the sailors’ friends and crew members begin to gather and it becomes apparent that the pair of adventurers may have to fight the whole lot of them. Being tired from the swimming and extremely wounded from their battles in Stygia, the pair begins backing up towards the inn. Zoltan quickly shouts inside for the owners help and in moments 750 lbs of dire ape comes out of the door beating its chest and roaring. The ship crew decides to leave before things get out of hand (Pongo is known to pull peoples arms off) as they swear and curse Zoltan and Leon for being feckless cowards.

Retreating back inside, Zoltan converses with Clayson about making it to the Free City. It seems that all the normal skiffs and row boats that go back and forth have already made their last trips. Leon, still smarting and worried about his brother, says they need to get their tonight to minimize time. Seeing the pair’s desperation and time of need, Clayson has them meet him out back the inn. There they see Pongo carry out a small rowboat from the Coral Lighthouse and set it in the water. Clayson explains that the rowboat is magic and will quickly take the pair where they want to go and then return if they tell it to do so. The pair thank Clayson for his trust and aid in their time of need.

Sitting down in the rowboat, Leon says “Free City” and the little boat shoots off at rapid speed quickly avoiding the reefs prevalent in the area. In a short time, the pair see the lights of the Free City and notice that some of the warehouses, docks, and homes that made up the port side area are still burning from the terrible attacks perpetrated days earlier.

The pair get out of the rowboat and bid it back to Gull Island. Heading towards the gates of the Free City, they are challenged and stopped from going inside until one of the watchmen recognizes the pair and vouches for them. After a brief discussion of the recovery efforts and a warning to watch out for rioters and undead remaining from the attack, the pair head off into the ruins and remains of the city. Hazy black smoke still hangs over the Western part of the city where fires still burn and carts of dead and the slain undead are seen throughout the city, as well as burned down blocks or structures tore down due to the deadly sorcery being employed by the minions of Kyuss.

Walking with purpose, the pair make it to the Cathedral of Fortunes, which though damaged appears to have came out less damaged than most of the surrounding buildings. Discussing with an acolyte they recognized from previous visits, the pair are ushered into an audience with Amanita after a short wait. Discussion of some of their exploits follows and the need for Amanita’s skills in ressurecting the brave monk from the realms of Nemorgha. Amanita sets the price and it is something that Leon and Zoltan cannot afford; Zoltan decides to wager his family heirloom sword in a wager with Amanita to entice the priest. His diplomatic entreaties work and the wager is set; however, the wager does not go in Zoltan’s favor that day. Amanita takes the sword and other payments and agrees to get the necessary herbs/components as well as make contact with Sarina of the Shroud, priestess of Nemorgha. With Sarina’s help, Amanita is confident that they can perform the ritual of resurrection and bring back Zhou Pan if he wants to return.

Tired but glad to have a path to restoring their friend, Leon and Zoltan find their way to the Crooked House, still open even after having a section burned. They quickly get some rooms in the almost vacant inn, much to the appreciation of the halfling owner Tarquin.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 22nd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Free City:

Most of the day is spent recovering and resting. Late in the day the pair goes out hunting for some armor for Zoltan.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 23rd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Free City:

In the morning hours, Leon and Zoltan go to the cathedral of Enkili. They find a weak Zhou Pan meditating in the temple as Amanita, Sarina, and acolytes of both clean up the ritual area. Seeing the pair approach, Amanita greets them and tells them what was done. Amanita takes them into the gambling hall attached to the cathedral and they sit down for a drink at a dice table. After a refreshing liquor, Amanita explains that the city and temple wants to show appreciation to the adventurers for their timely service to the Free City and to itselfs own person during the battles with the followers of Kyuss a few days ago. Thus, he/she offers them the chance to forgive their debt for bringing back the monk if they can roll a seven on the two jeweled dice in front of him. Zoltan picks up the dice and invokes Corean for aid; he rolls snake eyes. Amanita smiles in androgynous fashion and says “Perhaps fortune’s face will smile upon you in the future, but it doesn’t do so today”. Zoltan goes to hand the dice back to Amanita, but Amanita says to take them as a “token of my gratitude”.

The trio leave and bring Zhou Pan up to speed on what has happened and how he met his untimely end at the hands of the devils of Stygia. They return to the Crooked House, with barely enough funds to cover the food and bills for their stay. Leon says they can at least sell the jeweled dice, and when Zoltan opens his pouch containing the dice he instead finds diamonds, lots of diamonds. Leon and Zoltan happily offer a short prayer of thanks to Enkili as they head off to visit Maldin and Elendari’s Magical Goods and the rest of the shoppes.

Meanwhile, Zhou Pan veered off back to the Cathedral of Fortunes where he met with Amanita and bargained for Zoltan’s heirloom sword. Agreeing to fight in a future rendition of the Free City Arena Games, Amanita agreed to the arrangement and relinquished the blade.

After a bit of bargaining and dealing with the vendors, the adventurers gathered back up and made way to Fangsfall via Zoltan’s priestly magicks.

Arriving in the Corean Chapterhouse, the trio made way to the Mithril Inn for rooms. They visited a bit with other worthies at the Chapterhouse gathering a few supplies for their travels. Leon goes to Cestarian’s Tower and has a female apprentice send out a few magical messages trying to gather Feflin and Moreto to his side to aid in the fight against the devils. Feflin’s message returns but it will be a week before he can join them. Moreto’s message does not return. Leon also inquires about passage to the City of Doors, and the apprentice explains that their is a portal within the Fangsfall. Located in the basement of the Horn and Skull Tavern, the barkeep can be bribed to open the portal though he keeps it barred and chained elsewise to prevent any unwelcome visitors.

Leon gathers the diplomatic Zoltan and they set off for the Horn and Skull Tavern. The tavern is owned by a scarred dwarf who wears a sapphire encrusted eye patch. After a few drinks and a little gold to convince the dwarf, they set up plans to use the door in the morning. Returning to the Mithril Inn, the pair meet up with Zhou Pan, who had been helping the poor in the slums outside the walls of the city and spend the evening in the plush beds of the Mithril Inn gathering their strength.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 24th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:

The adventurers go to the Horn and Skull Tavern early in the morning. After beating on the doors and a bit of cursing, the tavern master is awoken and takes them down into the cellar. There they see the normal sundry items expected (kegs, foodstuffs, etc.), but back in the back they see a stout door made of fine woods, lined in silver metal, with a silver door frame. The door is barred, and has multiple chains keeping it further closed attached to stout iron rings set into the walls. The tavern master unlocks the pad locks and removes the chains, then unbars the door. Throwing it open, he bids them enter the shadowy passage revealed. They enter and find themselves in exiting the threshold of an archway in a dark alley. Heading out to a street, they see that they are a mere block away from the Grand Bazaar in the Sigil.

Leon makes contact with the tiefling Melwood for the rental of a sled team to aid in the travel from the portal to Stygia back to the city of Tantlin. After a bit of bartering, the tiefling sets them up such they will not have to spend the many days it normally takes to travel in icy wastes instead taking about 15 hours. Anxious to go, Leon sets up the time for departure very quickly, apprehensive that his brother may not be alive when he gets there.

The adventurers quickly depart the City of Doors and find themselves back into the cold, unforgiving clime of Stygia. Leon notes that he can still feel his brother’s empathic link once back in the plane and excitedly pushes the teams forward. Outrunning a few creatures intent on having the group for dinner, the sled teams prove their value as the trip to Tantlin quickly goes by. After many long hours of travel, the group approaches the giant iceberg that houses the city in its icy interior. They climb the giant iceberg whose hollow inside houses the town of Tantlin and made their way through the icy cave that lead to the town. As they travelled, they noticed a grisly head of a great devil on a spear, obviously put in the path so that all would see; a plaque below said “the fate of all who challenge mighty Ingacka”. Late in the day and tired from the bone-numbing cold, the group heads for the relative warmth of the Polar Opposites inn, where merchants and other outsiders are allowed to gather when doing business in Tantlin.

Red Alert: Free City under Attack

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 18th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:

That night while camping, the party was again beset by wraith attacks but the group managed to drive the creatures away now that they were on solid ground. Zoltan sent positive energy into the floor to try to keep the incorporeal creatures from them while they rested, which seemed to work to some degree.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 19th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in The Free City:

Due to the stress of the underground river ride and the wraith attacks, the party wakes to find the portly priest, Bartholomew, with them rather than Randolph. This sets off more worries since this may make them easier to find. Zoltan wakes up having had a dream where Raldinian is bidding them to all go to sleep so they can join him in the Dreamlands. Trusting the dream, everyone settles down and in a few moments they doze sufficiently.

Suddenly, they are on a warm sandy beach with tropical trees gently swaying in the breeze. Raldinian dressed in his finery welcomes them as a wonderful sunrise begins. Raldinian says that he received a prophetic dream that the Free City was under attack and being that he has served as an administrator for the city felt the need to go defend it. The group agrees and Raldinian takes them to a nearby Orafauna (goat priests of Erias) village where they go down a cellar and activate a portal. Walking through they find themselves in the cellar of a familiar keep, some recognize over time that this is Blackwall Keep, where they first encountered one of the spawn of Kyuss and where Raldinian first met up with the other members of the party on their adventures.

As they exited the tower, they saw bones and other remains both in and around the tower, as well as signs on the outside proclaiming it haunted. Evidently, the keep has been abandoned to the lizardmen of the marches at this time. Using the mount spell, soon the entire party was riding hard and fast towards the Free City.

Late in the day, the party was approaching the outskirts of the city and could see that the Free City was on fire in many spaces and that horrible undead spawn controlled the walls and gates of the city while they ravaged those unfortunate enough to be trapped inside. Some forces were trying to retake the east gate so the group attacked the southern gate in hopes of forcing it open and giving the remaining populance some method of escape.

The group fought long and hard but were making limited in roads at the southern gate as the spawn would hurl their deadly worms and their were servants of Kyuss atop the walls who were attacking with missles and dispelling spells. Suddenly, a great howling erupted from further south and a large number of huge wolves began charging towards the southern gates. Not knowing if friend or foe, the group disengaged from the spawn and moved aside as the wolves crashed into the ranks of the undead. Wolf changed to wolf man as Ildamar and his band of werewolf followers waded into the worm-infested zombies and began tearing them apart. Seeing that they were allies, the party joined the werewolves in the fight and rapidly broke the forces guarding the gate. Refugees began to flee out the gates as Ildamar and his band penetrated further into the city hunting spawn.

The party helped a few unfortunates to run taking out chasing spawn and then recognized that the biggest issues were if the spawn and their masters over-ran either the mages at the Order of the Copper Raven or if the spawn over-ran the priests in the Temple Quarter. Thinking that the priests might be more valuable in the fight as they continued to battle the invasion of undead, the party headed towards the Temple of Enkili, as it was central on the Street of the Gods.

When they approached the Temple of the Trickster, they found that many of the priests were outside their temples fighting off the invaders, none moreso than Amanita, Unlucky of Enkili. The Unlucky was flying about with flail in hand being attacked by vampires and other spawn. Many of the clergy of the gods met their end in the battle only to rise as undead moments later, desecrating their vows of service and faith in death. The party quickly leapt to the aid of the priests, especially Amanita, who had treated Zhou Pan of his necrotic cist in the past and brought some back from past almost-fatal injuries. After a tough fight with lightning being called down from Enkili, and Zoltan calling down the righteous wrath of Corean, the undead were destroyed and the temple of Enkili was saved from destruction. Unfortunately, much of the remainder of the city and many of the other temples were burned.

In the end, roving teams of mages, priests, and werewolves drove the forces of kyuss back to the tunnel hole that they had came out of in the middle of the city during the night surprising and overwhelming the unsuspecting forces. Unfortunately, with all that were destroyed and turned into spawn by the green worms, it was generally felt that a large portion of the population had died or were now missing and likely spawn. Nant rapidly took control of the struggling government forces and applied martial law even as forces from nearby towns began to show up to aid in the fight and cleanup effort. All told it is believed that about 25% of the structures that were in the city and about that much of the original population now remains, with much of the city being blocked off or burned. The Deep Inn survived the best of any structure in the city, and many refugees stayed around or in its rooms thinking it must be good luck or perhaps blessed in some way. The group finds a place to crash nearby and rests, even Raldinian enjoying the restful, dreamless sleep of one who has fought as hard as he can for the preservation of something good.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 20th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:

As the group rests, Raldinian again pulls them to the Dreamlands and into an audience and feast with great Orafauna of Erias, who after the fine dinner magically brings them back to Stygia to their camp. The group asks Raldinian to stay, but he declines citing the needs of Erias in dealing with the encroachment of the greenish, wormfilled seas into the Dreamlands, and his desire to return to the Free City to help Nant rebuild. The group wishes him the best and sadly watches as he and the great Orafauna departs back to the land of dreamers.

The party prepares to rest and Xaylin identifies that the guard schedule changes about every 12 hours. He also finds that he has severe intestinal distress after eating too much in the Dreamlands and gets little sleep over the night.

Heading to Stygia
A snowball's chance in the Iron Hells

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 10th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:

After a long rest within the inn, the party grumpily got up late in the evening and ate prior to going out into the City of Doors. Heading to the nearby Sage, Lazlo, they found the accomplished sage was busy with research for another customer. However, his wizened old wife, Orokia, was fully capable of identifying a number of magical items that the group had recovered from their recent adventures after the proper fees had been paid.

In addition, Zoltan asked about how to get to Stygia and the old lady provided that she didn’t know of a portal, but that a trader who frequently went to that level of the Iron Hells was a Tiefling by the name of Melwood, who frequently hung out at Mormmyny’s Tavern outside the grand bazaar. Leon asked about strange pets, suddenly kindling an interest in lightning mephits, and again the knowledgeable woman provided the name of a well known merchant who often frequents the grand bazaar who deals in exotic animals and creatures named Firasaern the Taer. Zoltan asked about who she recommended to find some more exotic or rare texts and the crone recommended Delighti, a Shelzari trader and rumored to be of djinn descent, a collector and seller of the written word.

With that the group did some trading with Orokia and left back to the Goblyn’s Crown to rest up a bit more.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 11th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:

After resting late in the morning, the party decided to head to the Grand Bazaar to try their luck in locating some of the merchants that Orokia had told them about and to look at the wares. Zoltan managed to find the book dealer and in deed found Delighti to have a fine selection. Choosing “Journeys to the Elemental Planes” by Ganest, he devoured the tome in minutes via a spell only to be overcome by a migraine immediately after finishing the reading and barely able to concentrate. Leon found that the traveling merchant Firasarn was indeed in the bazaar at this time being amazed at the various creatures in his cages. Pretty birds, rare plumed creatures, and multi-colored lizards were outside of his tent and inside he had a few of the more rare varieties including an earth mephit. Leon asked the merchant to find a Lightning Mephit and when he found it to leave word at the Goblyn’s Crown.

Later in the afternoon, the group went to Mormmyny’s Tavern. An active tavern full of good music, varied races and customers, the two story structure was packed with wenches, drinkers, and conspirators of all kinds. After a few inquiries, the group was directed to a 2nd floor table where a tiefling was drinking and discussing matters with a few associates. After a few minutes, the associates left and the party approached the tiefling who confirmed he was Melwood. At first Melwood was not willing to provide information on how to access Stygia sensing perhaps an infringement on his trade routes. After time, the group convinced him of their need and he agreed to provide them with where the portal was and the necessary “portal passes” to use it and the return portal in Stygia for a significant price. After the deals were brokered, he indicated that the passes would take a day to prepare and would last only for a month before wearing out (to protect his interests).

The group questioned him regarding specifics of Stygia and he provided them a description. Stygia is a great frozen sea with icebergs frozen in place like mountains; Tantlin is a city carved into one of those great icebergs as are many of the fortresses and lairs of the devils populating the unforgiving and terrible level of the Iron Hells. Melwood indicated that the bitter cold is ever present, with great blizzards frequently blowing about that can bury travellers or winds carrying icy particles that can scour flesh from bones. Inside the great icebergs the conditions are frequently slightly above freezing creating a moist, dripping environment with Ice Devils and Ice Mephits frequently going about refreezing or rebuilding areas to ensure structure is maintained. From the portal on the frozen sea to Tantlin is about two days of travel in snowy and icy conditions.

Melwood also indicated that travel to Stygia was dangerous for those of goodly alignment in that the plane was somewhat sentient and inevitably pointed the devil’s residing on it towards offending presences for their removal, much like a man who has a splinter in an area he can’t see or reach. For this reason, he recommended finding someone who could attend the group and supply an occasional spell to confuse or hide their true natures rather than begin to draw the attention of Stygia itself. When asked about who might be able to provide such a service, the tiefling points to the singer in the tavern.

After meeting with Melwood, a few of the group headed downstairs to watch the singer perform. A gifted lady singer finished her ballad to the delight of the crowd and began to head out of the tavern; catching her before she exited they managed to buy her a drink. She introduced herself as Lilliana and said she indeed knew a person with the magical skills of concealment described by Melwood and said she would drop him a note and have him meet the group at the tavern the next day.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 12th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:

The party returns to Mormmyny’s Tavern and Melwood indeed delivers the portal passes, resembling a couple of poultice bags filled with foul-smelling, ground up contents.
Waiting for a time, the party sees a man enter in chain armor and wearing a tabard with priestly symbols. Hoping this is there contact, the party is surprised to find this man is not, though he bears an uncanny resemblance to the lady singer from the previous day. He introduces himself as Bartholomew. However, he also knows of a “wizard” capable of hiding true natures and says that he will contact this personage and have the meet with the group tomorrow.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 13th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:

The party returns to Mormmyny’s Tavern again. After a bit of time in the establishment, enjoying the sights of the wenches and courtesans, and imbibing a few choice drinks, they are approached by a robed man who introduces himself as Randolph. Discussions begin and agreements are made for Randolph to provide services for a fee and share of loot gained during his services. Though hooded and partially hidden, Zhou Pan and Xaylin perceptively picked up that Randolph resembled the man from the previous day and the woman from two day’s ago, perhaps a brother and sister. After agreements are made, all part company and find their ways back to the Goblyn’s Crown with Randolph eventually showing up dressed in adventuring gear and ready for travel.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 14th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV into Stygia:

Rising early, the group makes last minute preparations, says there goodbyes to Jadess, and then heads to the portal location. Brandishing the portal passes, a gateway opens and icy winds erupt from the shimmering, magical gate. Travelling quickly through the gate, the party finds themselves coming out of a set of gigantic rib bones appearing to come from some collossal fish that have frozen together and been covered with ice and snow. The bleak icy expanse of Stygia confronts them even as the cold wind makes them shiver. Far off in the distance above the rolling snow dunes and eddies can be seen one of the great icebergs looking like a singular mountain even as a few natural stone pillars that support the ceiling of this vast cavernous underground lake rise up into the clouded vault where they are lost to site. After a few spells are used to reduce the biting cold, the group begins to slowly make their way towards the iceberg city of Tantlin.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 15th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:

Sleeping overnight in a igloo evidently left by other passers by at the mid-point, the group continues towards Tantlin. Even with protection spells, and shelter, there is some loss of feeling in extremities and concerns with frostbite. The iceberg continues to grow and grow as they get closer until eventually they stand at the foot of the great ice structure. Working their way up the rough and winding roadway carved into the ice, they eventually reach the gates of Tantlin where after a brief discussion with the gate devils are allowed entry, likely due to name dropping of the weapons merchant Burskel, who the group previously determined they should meet due to his extensive knowledge of the Rod of the Elements and its guardian, Ingakka.

Tantlin is a town within the hollowed out interior of the iceberg. Many of the abodes are just carved out of the ice with the inhabitants either not affected by the cold or just used to its embrace. Most structures are built of ice or stone, with a few being built of wood. One such establishment, the devil guards point out, caters to those who need the “warmth of their mothers teed”. It is a finely built woodent structure, painted in alternating stripes of black and white, with a sign with a yin-yang symbol above the words “Polar Opposites”.

Entering within the group finds many of the patrons are merchants or other races, with a few of the diabolic in attendance as well. Approaching the beautiful and busty bartender, the group inquires as to rooms at the establishment only to be startled when she looks at the with glowing red eyes underneath her dark, long eyelashes. After a tense moment, she smiles and begins to take their orders and make arrangements for their stay. She introduces herself as Dominoand welcomes the party to her inn, getting them some drinks and a table by the fireplace and heat stones that make the tavern much warmer than outside. As it is late in the evening, the group takes food and drinks then rapidly heads to their rooms to further shake off the cold of this infernal place and to make sure all their extremities are still there.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 16th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:

The rooms are pleasant if not a little chilly, though the sound of dripping water from outside is something that takes several of the group time to get used to. Getting up in the morning, the group assembles and casts various spells including those that will disguise their goodly natures. Continuing downstairs, they find several of the patrons they saw last night enjoying breakfast while a few seem to be sleeping off their liquor on the cold floor. Making haste, Xaylin orders a hearty breakfast for everyone and soon their is warm porridge and oven rolls being consumed.

Zoltan refreshes the memory of Leon, Xaylin, and Zhou Pan with their mission: To recover the Rod of the Elements from a powerful being known as Ingakka, an officer during the Divine War in Chardun’s armies. He lairs in Castle Ach-Mor, which is near the city of Tantlin in cold Stygia. Lazlo had provided a contact that he knows in Tantlin; an arms dealer with the name of Burskel who might be able to help if you mentioned you were acquaintances of Lazlo and Orokia.

After getting some directions, the group heads out from the inn to the potential benefactor, Burskel. Finding his place of business to be a large building constructed of stone blocks with large smoke stacks in the back for the forges, Zoltan approaches the door and feels the heat from within. Going inside the smoky interior, the group finds a spacious show room with all manner of weapon racks, cabinets, and display cases filled with weaponry of all sorts, many with a diabolic bent featuring cruel barbs, hooks, or jagged edges. As they look around, they also notice some iron statues brandishing some of the shop wares as well as large tube like holes that go up to the 2nd or 3rd floors in the rooms ceiling. A young tiefling asks them there business and after hearing they wish to speak to Burskel, shrugs and heads out the back door to the forge.

A few seconds later, a bulbous body with a central, unblinking eye, and a large maw filled with daggerlike teeth floats down into the room from one of the tubes in the ceiling. Smaller eyes sprouting from atop the creature wave about as the beholder grins in a fashion that is seems almost unnatural. In a rumbling bass, the creature speaks and introduces himself as Burskel, arms-dealer and weapon collector.

Getting over there initial shock, the party begins discussions with the creature and make sure to mention their dealings with Lazlo. Burskel remarks that he has used Lazlo to help find some interesting items and to research their history. After time, the conversation swings around to how can the party infiltrate Ingakka’s castle, which the beholder indicates would be suicide to try to attack head on. The group suddenly finds themselves in a bargaining session with the wily beholder, with him negotiating that he will help them with a secret entrance if they bring him Ingakka’s swords. This goes back and forth and at the end of the negotiation the party members sign a faustian contract with the beholder, with a forfeiture clause of their very souls should they fail to deliver the swords.

Reaching a deal, the beholder rapidly brings out a chest via telekinesis and provides maps and scrolls of teleport for their return back to his shop and then on to the portal upon completion of the mission. The secret entrance the party learns is to go beneath the frozen layer of the sea and requires a swim into the depths. There is a fissure in the iceberg where water comes in from the sea and travels down a few flow tubes in an underground stream into an underground lake. The beholder points out that their is a guard post to Ingakka’s castle at that underground lake, but it represents a lesser guarded or warded way into the castle and its underground complex.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 17th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:

The group prepares for going into the icy depths. At breakfast, instead of being joined by Randolph, the group sees the singer woman Lilliana come down the stairs. Concern starts to mount as the spells are needed and Lilliana is incapable of casting. Eventually, Lilliana goes back upstairs and hours later Randolph shows up again, ready for moving things forward. Zoltan and Leon scratch their heads at this odd turn of events and they question Randolph as to his whereabouts. Randolph it appears has a multiple personalities condition that manifests itself; usually he can control who will show up, but under stress there is the occasional changing of self.

Having part of the day spent on this changing situation, the group elects to spend another comfortable night in the Polar Opposites Inn and then see if they can gain entrance tomorrow.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 18h (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:

The group exits Tantlin and travels along the perimeter of the mountain-like iceberg until they locate a place where the ice had been previously broken allowing access to the icy depths. Re-breaking the ice, the group uses magicks to aid their breathing and to fight away the cold while in the depths. Swimming down and around further, they see many large fish schools that flit away from the intruders, and eventually come to a fissure in the icebergs lower levels. As they begin to figure out how to squeeze into the narrow crack, they are beset by sinister, spectral figures that attack from the walls of the iceberg with a deadly touch. Realizing after a bit of combat that fighting underwater is very difficult and definitely favoring the wraiths, the group plunges headlong into the fissure only to find themselves caught in an underground river. This method of travel is not very forgiving as they are bludgeoned by the ice and stone as the water careens through the tunnels resulting in all taking bloody wounds and damaging strikes. Zhou Pan manages to push Xaylin out of the way heroically, only to take the full brunt of one such encounter with a stalagtite resulting in his unconsciousness. Finally, the underground river dumps out into a large cavern within the iceberg mountain itself and the group again suffers from the impact at the bottom of the waterfall. Randolph just manages to tread water with the knocked out Zhou Pan and Xaylin determines that swimming is more difficult with a chicken leg.

Spying the guard post as they manage to get their wits about them, the group finds that the opposite side of the lake has a small patch of ground where they can make camp and dole out some healing. Stalagtites and Stalagmites of ice and columns of stone create enough of an interruption to make a small, discrete camp. Xaylin keeps an eye on things at the guard shack on the opposite shore, roughly 250 yards away, while Leon gets Zhou Pan back to functioning via a potion. Based on the extent of injuries and use of spells to allow travel through the water route, the group decides to make camp and attempt to hide from the distant devil soldiers standing guard across the lake.

Recovering the Orb of the Planes
Take that you undead bastard!

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 8th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:

Raldinian and Leon peacefully spend the night in the Dreamlands gaining some much needed rest. Returning to Scarn in the morn, they find the camp a shambles and still taste the choking remnants of the poisonous gas. Following a trail, they finally find their companions holed up in the undertunnels running below the great desert. Their companions, having fared poorly in the night, were tired and restless, still coughing and hacking from the near fatal exposure to the gas.

Taking a tunnel that smelled of fresher air, the group was surprised as they found themselves surrounded by tall insect warriors who seemingly stepped out of the shadows and stone of the tunnels. Carrying strange polearms and tri-blades made of crystals, the mantis warriors demanded tribute to pass the tunnels for their master. Tired and not really looking for a fight, the group payed the small toll and were allowed to pass. A bit more conversation with the terse warriors (under the helpful spell by Zoltan to understand their clacking speech) revealed that their master was Zer’n Ket, daughter to the Terror of the Desert, Gos’rn Ket, a blue dragon of great power and mystery.

The party exited the tunnels into the morning sun as it began to break over the great desert wasteland of Acerak. To the North was the the mountain range called the Cradle of the Gods, where it is rumored that the Titans first made Vangal, god of Pestilence and Destruction, their first son before birthing others. Now, those mountains are blasted and some are cast down due to the thunderous battles that occurred in the Divine War between parents and their children.

Looking over the sand dunes closer to the tunnel exit, the group saw a line of camels and nomads a few miles away making their way across the dunes. After hours of marching in the hot sun and beginning to feel nauseous and delirious from heat stroke, they finally meet up with the men where they had made camp mid-morning. These nomads were more friendly and shared bread with the strange looking fellows. The nomads normally slept the day away and travelled mostly at night and into the early morning. Known as the Ikir tribe, the headman allowed the visitors to sleep in one of the great tents of the Ikir, which Raldinian and Leon noticed had magical sigils inscribed upon its sides and magical totems hanging from its poles. Detecting for magicks, they found that the tents were indeed magical protecting their users from the dangers of the desert heat as well as providing for comfortable sleep and rest.

Sleeping the day away, the group felt much better as they awoke just as the sun was going down. The nomads rapidly took their camp down and packed their beasts. The headman of the Ikir blessed the party and then led his tribe across the moonlit dunes. Feeling better, the party made their way back to the tunnel mouth and once again entered the undertunnels.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 9th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:

After paying another payment to the mantis warriors, the party spent a bit of time retracing their steps and slowly making their way back to the Temple of the Conqueror in the ruins of Pazar. Through the double doors, they continue down the stairs and back to the mysterious black passage…concerned of repeating the previous ordeal where Zhou Pan nearly got pulled into pieces.

After much brainstorming and concern, the group decides to allow Xaylin to spider climb along the walls and lead some of the party via flying to explore the room via touch, hoping to find a portal or door that they can open. Eventually, they carefully navigate the room by not touching ceiling or floor and find a door. Xaylin feels around and finds a lock, but knows that he can’t pick it in the conditions given. However, he manages to pull out a vial of acid that he has kept for a special occasion and uses it to wreck the locking mechanism. Pushing the door open, the room with the blackness suddenly is brightly lit and there are no black tentacles on floor or ceiling. The rest of the party joins up with their companions and goes on through the door.

The next room is a long rectangular room with one end domed and ending in a half circle. Under the dome is a large statue of Chardun, the great general, though it appears to have been subject to graffiti and chipped in some places. Around the base of the statue are a number of written characters. Down the length of the chamber are eight large pillars supporting the ceiling and the sand and stone above it. Across from the place they entered is a similar hallway providing exit.

Investigating the statue, Zoltan uses his priestly magick to read the inscriptions which appear to be from a religious book known as the Diabolus:

The Great General stood before the walls of the City of Brass and the efreet sultans felt fear. They closed their gates to the conqueror and he was enraged. Taking his scepter he tore it apart and said “With this rod I bind the elements and with this orb I bind the gates of this city and all others of genie-kind. If you will not recognize a conqueror, then you shall be imprisoned.” With those words all the great cities of the elements were bound as well as all inside. ~ Book IV Chapter 6 verses 1 through 3 of the Diabolus

As the party finished taking in these words, the statue came to life and attacked by breathing a swath of fire. A War Devil and the foul Lich appeared as well and the combat ensued in earnest. The group was somewhat staggered, but managed to drive the Lich and his Devil bodyguard off after destroying the defiled statue.

Following the trail of the Lich, the group ran into a trap between a Blade Barrier and a Spray of Deadly Colors that nearly spelled their doom. Fighting through the magicks and dispelling the Devil’s work, the group managed to escape the ambush and fight through again forcing the Devil and Lich to retreat.

Chasing after the pair of villains, the group came into a smaller chamber, divided in the middle by walls and a great archway. Those that were running headlong, nearly fell into a diabolical trap of pendulum blades, just managing to throw themselves prone to avoid nearly certain death. The lich had summoned more help as two huge scorpions joined the fight along with the War Devil, seemingly restored back to full strength. Combat ensued again, but the running combat had taken its toll on the group with several being knocked down and nearing the point of unconsciousness. Meanwhile, the Lich seemed to be gaining strength by ingesting a powder of sparkling, greenish hue. A series of chain lightning bolts reaped a heavy toll on the group just as Zoltan slew the War Devil with a mighty blow. Desperate, the brothers Xaylin and Leon combine their action to run a risky gambit. Leon uses the Darkblade magicks he learned from the Forsaken Elves to appear behind the Lich and attack him with the Blade of Icosiol as Xaylin uses his Circlet of Blasting to strike the Lich with holy, searing light. The plan doesn’t work well for Leon as he ports behind the Lich only to find the super-intelligent creature waiting for him; the Lich plucks him up by his throat and Leon feels the hot, panicky fear of death as paralysis sets in. However, the Lich is suitably distracted by Leon that he is not capable of using his powerful defenses to counter the magick from the Circlet and the searing light takes a heavy toll. Released from the frightful grip of the creature, Leon strikes desperately at the skeletal creature and scores a hit on its neck bone…the greenish-black powder seems to leak out of the bone and the Lich begins keening attempting to hold back the sorcerous flow. Time stands still for a moment as all the air seems to be sucked towards the foul creature and then it explodes in a sorcerous fireball, mutating all nearby with the power of the foul warpstone.

Raldinian finds himself warped by exposure to the foul mutagen seemingly phasing into and out of reality at periods outside his control. Xaylin wakes from unconsciousness (after the fireball) to find that his legs are now those of a bird. Meanwhile, Leon finds himself no longer with his friends and companions, but in a new and strange world, where he observes a battle between two great armies of samurai fighting for their dragon masters.

After regaining health, the group gathers their own and the loot from the Lich. Quickly going upstairs, they find the defenses of the room with the golden orb have been defeated with the death of the Lich. Fearful that the Lich may return at some point…because that is what Lich’s do, the party quickly makes its way out of the complex. Risking disaster, the party manages to use the Orb of the Planes to locate Leon who is in the distant Dragonlands.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 10th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:

The group hurriedly teleported from the ruins of Pazar back to the desert oasis portal again surprising some of the nomadic peoples who were about. Raldinian managed to gain enough rest that he was able to regain his magicks and his prayers to Erias were answered allowing him to find a spell that could transport himself to Leon and bring him back. Raldinian exerts himself to find and rescue Leon returning him to the safety of the group just as he was about to be attacked by a group of Samurai calvary. Back together, the group rests for a bit in the hut of the nomads before they activate the portal in the grove of palm trees and return to Sigil, the City of Doors.

Exhausted and spent from their adventures, the group quickly returns to the Goblyn’s Crown. Jadess provides them rooms, food, and drink to take care of their needs; however, it ends in an early night as the horrors of the previous days and the remarkable comfort in the feathered beds cause the adventurers to go to sleep early.

Investigating the Ruins of Pazar
Did he say Lich?

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 7th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Acerak:

Raldinian, due to his mantras and training with the Lord of Dreams, was generally unaffected by the nightmares that assaulted others of the group. He attempted to pull Leon’s mind into the Dreamlands, but was unsuccessful. Thus, Leon awoke the next morning tired, irritable and unable to concentrate or focus on spellcrafting.

The group trys the other door to the North finding it somewhat blocked by sand, though not as much as the southern door. A series of winding passages are found mostly choked with sand. One descends into a natural cavern system and exploration begins in earnest in the cooler caves. However, the entrance seems to be almost fully blocked with sand though small holes near the top of the rock and sandy walls indicate that air and light are communicating with the chamber. Going deeper into the cave tunnels, a water collection pool is found in which some sightless fish swim languidly. Eventually, the system continues deeper until it comes to an underground crossroads of worked and natural passages. Sharp eyed Xaylin spots some gems in the ceiling in a line; Leon detects for magic and finds that when the gems are pointed towards they light up in succession and a magical voice says “This way to Nagpa’s goods.”

Following the winding tunnels towards the goods merchant, the group is curious as to his wares particularly in light of the barren desert above. Several crossroads are came to with similar gems providing directions. Eventually, the winding tunnels bring them to another crossroads, but this one has been the site of a battle and bears a large sign written in Undercommon “Due to poor trading etiquette, Gos’rn Ket and followers are no longer welcome at Nagpa’s. Trespassers will be killed.” Several insect creatures that must have been about man-sized are laying about the intersection dead from vicious slashing wounds. Zhou Pan finds a 1" blue scale, which Raldinian (due to his own draconic knowledge) indicates is from a draconic creature. With a bit of light, the party sees that further down the passage stand two huge bronze minotaur statues each bearing a large great axe.

Proceeding carefully in the shadows of the statues, the group comes into a large natural cavern with several other side passages branching off. Near the far wall, there is a great tent set out and a small fire. Nearby the tent is a section of wall that is worked stone with a solid metal door set in place. Another of the bronze statues stands nearby the tent.

Coming closer to the tent, the group is asked by a voice from the tent if they wish to trade and abide by the rules of peace and hospitality. The group agrees and approaches closer to the tent where they see a small, gray monkey-like creature with wings and mischievous eyes chained by its neck to one of the tent poles. The group gives the hissing creature a wide berth as it tries to reach them and enter the great tent.

Inside the tent is an opulent set of cushions, chests, and rugs. Seated upon a cushion at the head of the tent is a strange creature with the withered body of an elderly man and the head of a vulture. He invites them to sit and offers refreshments, evidently served by an invisible servant. He then asks them what they have to trade and when they display suitable gems and gold, he begins commanding his invisible servants to bring a variety of chests to him and he lays out different goods for the groups perusal. He lays out rare items, magical goods, and other exotica. Several members are interested in the items and inquire as to where they came from, which Nagpa matter of factly explains that some were collected, while others were the product of trade, and others still were made by Nagpa’s master. Nagpa describes his master as a skeletal lich, who before was a human wizard. The lich evidently makes items to secure alliances and aid from desert creatures who serve it and also for trading with other creatures; Nagpa handles the merchanting end. Nagpa refers to his master having his “lower sanctum” behind the door though he admits he has only been in the room a few times to receive new items and no further into the lair of his master. After a brief time and some dealing, the trading completes and the group returns to the ruins of Pazar intent on going through the great double doors, sure that the domed building will lead them down into the lich’s lair.

The group comes through the great double doors by uttering “friend” to the two statues outside. Inside they find multiple passages, two of which require riddles to be answered before party members are nearly cooked or electrocuted. In both cases, Raldinian, Zhou Pan and Zoltan manage to come up with the solutions before dire consequences are reaped. They also find a set of stairs heading down.

The most interesting room on the level, however, is a long chamber that at the far end has a pedestal holding a golden orb. At the end of the hall, surrounding the orb, the group sees several skeletons and corpses lying about the orb. Down the passage itself, great arcs of electricity, walls of ice and fire stand between the orb and the group. Some efforts are made to explore the room, but it is found rather quickly that a wall of force prevents even attempting to run to the other end of the room. In sight of their goal, the group decides to continue down the stairs. There they run into a creature that seems to be corrupted flesh spilled upon the floors and walls. There is a brief battle and the creature is destroyed.

Going down the stairs, the group finds more traps and some guardian golems. Again, the group manages to defeat the threat and continue on. They eventually come to an empty room except for a chest, a black passage, and a great metal door set in the wall. No manner of light seems to penetrate the black passage and dark vision doesn’t seem to work. The group surmises that they are on the other side of Nagpa’s door.

Concerned with sending someone into the blackness, the group ties a rope about Zhou Pan who cautiously advances, with instructions to tug the rope if in danger and they’ll pull him out. Zhou Pan enters the blackness and after several moments is attacked by something that begins grappling him in multiple places almost as if tentacles. He screams only to understand that silence is over the room where he is at; in desperation he attempts to tug the rope twice to alert his companions but the tentacles are holding him fast and ripping into his flesh. He screams silently and concentrates his will; with supreme effort he manages to extricate his arm from the grapple and grab the rope and give it the tug needed. Instantly, Zoltan and others begin pulling him out of the tentacles and a tug of war insues with the monk taking grievous wounds. Eventually, he manages to slip out of the grasp and is launched from the blackness by the force of Zoltan’s mighty strength. The companions are surprised to see the monk bloodied and damaged with blackish ichor dripping from his wounds. Zoltan attends to the monk’s wounds, while Raldinian and Leon attempt a few dispel attempts. However, they’re not successful. Deciding to retreat back to the domed chamber and rest and prepare more spells to defeat the traps, they head back.

At the camp, they start hearing the chittering sounds of scarab swarms approaching. Deciding that it is likely easier to find a quiet place in the caverns below, the group heads down to the cavern that had the air holes and light from above. There they have a good dinner and use some stone shapes to close up one end of the passage to prevent unwanted visitors. Raldinian meditates with Leon and this does manage to pull him into the Dreamlands to rest. However, there is little rest of the rest of the group as it seems the Lich has decided to test their resolve when poisonous, green fumes begin drifting down from the ceiling into the enclosed chamber. Several are poisoned and barely make it out of the death trap; only due to Zoltan breaking through the wall they had formed are they able to escape to cleaner air. Disturbed and unable to get suitable rest, the group frustratedly awaits the return of Raldinian and Leon from the Dreamlands.

Meeting the Lord of Bats
The Return of Raldinian?

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 1st (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Shadowfell:

After visiting the Shadow Bazaar of Gloomwrought and witnessing the macabre celebrations ongoing due to the end of the year, it was decided to head to the Dark Moon Inn. That and thoughts of vampires and other creatures of the night slaking their thirst on unsuspecting or foolish adventurers. The common room has several guests even at the late hour of arrival and the gnoll barkeep, Fleaz, efficiently checked them in and issued keys to their rooms. Tired and ready for rest, the group eats some late night vittles and turns in slightly around one in the morning to awaken sometime mid-day.

The inn and tavern continues to do good business during daylight hours as it is still crowded with humans, a small contingent of Dark Ones, two Shadar-Kai, and a man-sized creature with brown fur, folds of skin under its arms, and long ears sitting near the great fireplace at the end of the hall.

The group waits for contact from the minion of the Lord of Bats. In the mean time, they see a small parade of the faithful of the gods, both priests and parishoners, march by the front windows celebrating the first day of a new year.

Late in the evening, the brown furred creature stirred from its seat near the fire and came to the bar where the group was sitting in conversation with Fleaz. The creature announced itself as Des r’Kha, a servant of the Lord of Bats. Introductions were quickly made, and Des r’Kha indicated that they could travel as early as tomorrow morning. The brave souls of the group decided to try the Bazaar again, however, they cut their visit short due to the hedonistic pleasure/pain houses near one spot in the bazaar and the unwelcome attention of a contingent of vampires interested in making playthings of Leon and Zoltan. The group rests and prepares for travelling aboard a sailing ship.

Mid-Winter, Hadrer 2nd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Shadowfell:

Early in the morning, Des r’Kha knocks on the groups doors and gets them up to face the day. They travel to the docks where the man-bat has secured the services of the ShoreSeeker, a small sailing vessel piloted by Captain Burton (a male human) and has first mate Scragg (a female half orc half sea troll), and their crew including a panda-like humanoid named Po. As soon as the group is aboard and out of the way, the crew has finished its loading of cargo and the ship begins pulling away from the docks.

The ship catches the wind and sets off on an easterly course. In a few hours, the ship approaches a set of three isles linked by great natural stone bridges. To the south, their are storm clouds tinged with the color of pale and sickly green that seem to be circling and growing larger as they are watched. The captain mentions that the storm is known as the “Worm Maelstrom”, a terrible blight on any vessel that approaches it. He indicates that for the last year there have been a growing number of storms that are seemingly permanent over an area. Investigating ships have been lost and the few, broken survivors rail madly about terrible gusts of wind and large ocean waves with millions of undulating green worms seething about in the storm-tossed seas. The most concerning aspect is that these Maelstroms have formed on multiple planes, as if they were linked.

As they watch the distant threat, the spotter in the crow’s nest sees two distant things break away from the cover of the maelstrom and began heading on a course towards the ship. Battle stations are called out as the ship is rigged for speed and the giant, greenish worm creatures with alien insectoid abominations on their backs give chase. Captain Burton and his crew prove to be competent sailors and rapidly out run the threat to the channel between the isles. The panda man, Po, stands atop the front of the ship holding a lotus flower as the ship crosses into the channel with the stone bridge overhead and with a crackling spray of electric energy, the ship slides from the Shadowfell to the Dreamlands.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 2nd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in the Dreamlands:

Even as the gray, wan sun light was fading in the Shadowfell, the Dreamlands have an idyllic, picture perfect sunset. The ship emerges in the remains of a great whale skeleton where the rib bones are joined. Sailing along, the ShoreSeeker makes good times in the quiet waters of the Dreamlands. Similar to the Shadowfell their is one blot on the Dreamlands, a smaller Worm Maelstrom. As the ship continues to sail its course, a number of isles come into view. Even more amazing are a number of ghostly flying humans to and from between the isles. Watching and occasionally herding the flying shapes from two deep into the ocean of the Dreamlands (and particularly away from the direction of the Worm Maelstrom) is a well dressed, dark skinned elf and a group of long horned antelope creatures. Zhou Pan calls down from the Crow’s nest that the elf is none other than Raldinian. Zoltan and Leon call over and Raldinian nonchalantly walks over the water and levitates up to the ship.

The group tells Raldinian of there many adventures and where they are currently headed. Raldinian tells them that Lord Carleigur of the Free City and most of his knights were killed on Belsamer 21st by a combined Dark Elf, Gorgon (with Greyhate) and Undead assault. Evidently, the purpose was to recover the Globe, though the strike obviously knew when and how to attack. The Free City is in anarchy as most seek to consolidate there power. Nant seems to be slowly taking control of the city since most of the nobles are only interested in protecting their interests at the moment and the gangs are in full and open war. Feeling like he could be the next target, Raldinian decided enough was enough and prayed for his patron deity to take him into the Dreamlands, both in spirit and body. Since that time, he has been serving with the Orafauna (talking antelope priests of Erias the Dreamlord) to guide the dreaming spirits who visit the Dreamlands and to attempt to herd those foolish spirits who try to approach the Worm Maelstrom; evidently several dreamers have been driven mad by getting in close proximity to the powerful storms. Zhou Pan and Xaylin ask if Raldinian would be able to join them and after briefly checking with the Orafauna, Raldinian agrees to sail on with them.

You continue to sail the dream seas of the Dreamlands for hours more under the bright stars of the Dreamlands. Finally, you see a mist-shrouded island ahead with ancient ruins rising above the mist. The captain efficiently takes his vessel towards the island and in a short time you are on a small lifeboat and then landing on the white beaches of the isle. Following your guide, he takes you up into the highlands of the isle. The cloying mist seems to be ever present and you frequently encounter great stone ruins and large sculptures of animals and monstrous creatures.

Near midnight, you come to the peak of the isle, a caldera of the volcano that birthed the island. Going down into the caldera, you see a lush jungle environment and in the midst is a small ziggurat temple. Climbing the temple stairs, you find that there is a gigantic fossilized bat atop the temple with mouth agape. The cavernous mouth is filled with shadows and it appears that there may be a passage within.

You enter the mouth of the great fossilized bat and are swallowed by complete darkness. As you step forward, you flinch a little as if expecting to bump your head, but instead, the very shadows grab you. Cold hands seem to pull you along a tunnel whose floor, walls, and ceiling are composed of leathery, undulating wings. With a flurry of flapping and a whiff of ammonia, the darkness releases you.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 3rd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in the Feywild:

Minutes after midnight, you stand in a vast subterranean cavern whose dimensions are lost cobwebbed corners. Behind you along a rocky wall wavers a door-shaped opening of darkness.

Piercing gold and silver light from your right makes you squint. The light pours inward from an irregular natural-looking cave mouth. Through it, you see a verdant mountain meadow whose vivid colors steal your breath with rich scents of wildflowers that bring tears to your eyes. To your left, the cave continues into a shadowy darkness.

As you walk further into the cave, the gold and silver light from the cave mouth slowly fell to purples, blues, and shadow black. Over the span of a few hundred feet, the dim illumination was transformed to a dreary radiance of hopelessness. The last glimmers of light were enough to reveal a vast castle, one whose mortar was black and whose bricks were immense blocks of void. A central spire rose above the walls, so high it brushed the vaults stalactite-toothed ceiling. Immense wings stretched out from either side of the spire, rapacious and dragon-like in their span, like hunger itself made manifest.

The ceiling churns and chitters. It is thick with roosting bats of every variety. The floor is covered with stalagmites of guano and a grove of dark purple mushroom caps, each the size of a dinner plate.

You continue through the gates of Castle Darroch and down a long entry gauntlet. Creeping, wrinkled, grey-skinned guardian homunculi scurry out of shadowy holes in the side walls, but then back away at a motion from your guide.

You reach the foyer, which is lit by countless candelabras burning with green flames. A wide, but shallow pool of dark water half flooded the space, and long, pale forms dart beneath its surface. Past the pool is a four flights of stairs, with busts of enigmatic, slender humanoids on each landing.

Finally, you come to the top of the stairs and enter the Grand Study. Paintings of surreal landscapes, sculptures of fantastic beings, and objects to strange for mortal classification are displayed behind glass. The collection must span centuries and even worlds. The nearest painting seems to be a spray of orange and yellow; a desert scape in the grip of a storm. The hint of some vast tower or statue is just visible behind the haze of blowing sand. Comfortable furniture decorates the room, as does a small bar with several bottles.

A balcony overlooks the Grand Study. A narrow stair on the wall allows access to the balcony. The high space is bare but for an iron door.

Your guide, Des’r Kha, bids you to ascend. As you reach the steel door, you see it is open a crack and yellow light flickers beyond. As you open the door, you see a great oaken table dominates the chamber. A feast of rare sumptuousness is laid out on silver platters, heaped in golden urns, and sloshed in crystal decanters. Chairs line the sides of the table, each one unique in design and workmanship, as if every piece was imported from a completely different kingdom or culture. A few are so oddly shaped that a regular person would find it difficult to sit.

A thin man, bald and pale, with narrow squinting eyes, pointed ears, and drab black clothes sits at the head of the table on a chair as grand as any throne. The man looks up from his feast and says “Ah, I have guests. It has taken me some years, but my invitations finally went out and were answered in person.” Your guide, Des’r Kha, goes to his master and stands to one side of the chair as if awaiting his next command.

Xaylin, hungry halfling that he is began drooling at the prospect of food. He asked “May we eat?” Des’r Kha rapidly says “No!”. The Lord of Bats says “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, though I wouldn’t mind a bit of company”

The Lord of Bats continues “Well, my friends, I want freedom. You see, I have been bound by a terrible enchantment and I seek freedom from it. It has taken me many favors and invitations to ones such as you, but I believe that the end of my imprisonment ends soon when you break the binding.”

Zoltan questioned “How do we break a binding that has held one of your strength?”

The Lord of Bats responded “I have spent much of my strength trying to find the answer to that very question and to interest someone enough to follow through upon the answer. I was bound here as I am now nearly 200 years ago. I don’t understand fully why I suffered the binding, but I know those who instigated my binding and stole some of my power: A warlock named Japheth whom I had entered into a pact with similar to you, and a priest of Chardun known as Cordell. Those two entered into some compact with the god Chardun who put this curse upon me.

The Lord of Bats eats a couple of cherry tomatos popping them into his mouth and biting them as if he were biting vicariously on something or someone else. The juice runs from his mouth as he wistfully stares off into space for a moment.

Leon says “Ahem.”

The Lord of Bats returns from his momentary distraction and says “Yes, yes. I’m getting to it. I’ve spent 200 years trying to find the answer and I finally have it. You must recover the Orb of the Planes and combine it with the Rod of the Elements. Take the combined items to the center of the Great Inferno and tap the gates of the City of Brass thrice. Then, this binding will be dissolved and I will be free once again.

Zoltan asks that the Lord of Bats repeat what he said so they can be sure to understand it.

Zhou Pan asks “Where is the Rod of the Elements?”

The Lord of Bats responds “It has been hid away somewhere in the Iron Hells. I recommend you go to the City of Doors and find a sage who may be able to tell you where. I’m hopeful you may be able to find a portal from Sigil to the Rod and recover it with a lightning assault.”

Xaylin asks “How about the Orb of the Planes?”

Neifion responds "It is actually on Scarn in the great desert of Asherak. Somewhere in the ruined city of Pazar, I suspect, though I don’t know where. Perhaps a sage can bring you closer to the item than what I’ve found so far, but if you favor trial and error, the picture in my study is a depiction of the desert slowly swallowing the city of Pazar. That might be enough information to teleport with if you can get close.”

Raldinian asked “How do we combine these items?”

Des’r Kha answers in his soft spoken tone "Quite easily actually. Take this jar of sovereign glue and affix the two together.” The Lord of Bats adds “They’ll fit naturally together if you get them close enough, but use the glue so they’ll hold together”

Leon asked “So why should we do this? It seems like we’re going to be facing a lot of risk.”

Neifion says “For most of you, I have done a great favor. In effect, we have entered into a pact. All I ask is that you return the favor and close the terms of the pact. If that we’re not enough, I will reward you richly for freeing me from this binding. I tire of this feast never-ending and wish to be able to walk the Feywild once again."

Neifion continued "I suggest you find a sage or sages in Sigil, the City of Doors, to help you track down the Orb of the Planes and perhaps some detailed information on the Rod of the Elements. However, it is up to you, which you pursue. To provide you some ability to influence those sages, and as part of my faith in you and your abilities to rid me of this curse, I will provide you a taste, no pun intended, of the reward I have in store for you if you succeed.” The Lord of Bats claps his hands and the bat creature Des’r Kha pulls a strongbox from beneath his masters chair. He opens it to reveal a velvet lined interior that has a mix of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and diamonds.

The Lord of Bats smiles and says “Well, I must return to my feasting. Des’r Kha will show you out and I wish you all the best on your endeavors. What power I can spare you I will in aid, but recognize that much of my remaining power was spent in the favors I have already done for you. Go now and hunt out your prey.”

Des’r Kha led the party back down to the study where they took a look at the painting of the “Doom of Pazar.” After a few drinks and looking at the small library, the group was shown to a locked and barred portal from Darroch Castle to Sigil, the City of Doors.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 3rd (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Sigil, City of Doors:

The group comes through the portal into the City of Doors. Clueless and fascinated, the group looks for someplace to discuss privately. Initially, they decide to stop at an inn called the “The Dangerous Flower.” However, they quickly recognize that it is a planar bordello and their may be to many prying eyes and ears as well as distractions to those with less will and discipline in the group. Instead, they go to the pub called “The Maiden’s Oath” where they enjoy a private meal and sample some fine planar fare such as a T-rex steak, giant squid calamari, etc.

Their waiter takes care of their culinary desires and also proves to be a good source of information when tipped appropriately. He provides directions to where the sages of the city typically dwell, the Street of Tellerus. Heading that way, the group picks the sage Lazlo (human male) based on a review of the information and specialties he is said to have by others they ask.

The group enters the House of Lazlo and are shown to a waiting room by his wife. She makes some tea and when her husband joins them casts a spell that prevents scrying or external listening to insure “privacy for clients”. Her husband listens to the group explain what they wish to be researched; he provides a few bits of information indicating his knowledge of the subject of the Orb and Rod. He indicates that it will take 2 days to research the topic and to come back to his house late on the 5th.

Tired from there travels, the group goes to a nearby inn known as the Goblyn’s Crown where they barely make last call. The proprietess is a pretty woman by the name of Jadess, who recognizes tired travelers and quickly gets them some food and beds for the night.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 4th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Sigil, City of Doors:

The group awakens and occupies themselves at Sigil’s Grand Market where truly all manner of supplies, trinkets, pleasures, and information can be found.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 5th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Sigil, City of Doors:

Late in the evening, Lazlo delivers his findings:

  • The Orb of the Planes and Rod of the Elements are powerful items that surfaced in the Divine War though there is some support that they may have been around longer than that, perhaps as a combined item.
  • The Orb was last seen in the now extinct city of Pazar wielded by a powerful wizard known as Rhoul, one of Chardun’s officers during the Divine War. The closest portal leads to a small Oasis in the deserts of Acerak known as Nevusu.
  • The Rod was wielded by a powerful devil known as Ingacka, likewise an officer during the Divine War under Chardun’s armies. The devil lives in Stygia in Castle Ach-Mor, outside of Tantlin, the largest City of cold Stygia, which is carved into a gigantic iceberg that floats the Seas of Stygia.
  • Lazlo says he knows an arms dealer know as Burskel in Tantlin who might be able to help. He recommends mentioning that you are acquaintances of Lazlo and wife to Burskel.

The group returns to the Goblin’s Crown to rest and ponder the information gained.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 6th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Sigil, City of Doors:

The party bids goodbye to Jadess in the morning, stops at the Grand Market for some items to use as portal keys, and finds the portal in the City of Doors to the oasis of Nevusu.

_Mid-Winter, Hadrer 6th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV now in Acerak:

The group comes through an archway formed by two palm trees growing together. The sun is bright and the temperature, though early in the morning, is already climbing to an uncomfortable area. Ahead is several tents of desert dwellers and an oasis.

The locals are initially unfriendly to the weirdly dressed folk, convinced they are devil tricksters or sand devils. Zoltan uses the Tongues spell and some diplomacy to calm them and offer gifts. After some convincing, an elder speaks with them about Pazar and its general location from Nevusu, which the old man says is about 100 miles to the North deep in the desert. Raldinian, using his mental picture of Pazar from the painting in Darroch Castle, teleports the group (two trips) and while on the return trip, two sand devils rise up from the sand covered ruins to attack. One is destroyed while the other is driven off about the time that Raldinian and the rest of the group arrives.

The city of Pazar is covered by sand and only the roofs of tall buildings and large monuments rise above the scouring dunes. Xaylin searches about the foot of a statue eroded by the sands only to nearly be engulfed in a sand funnel trying to drag him down. He scampers back, but now there appears to be a hole leading into one of the buildings covered by sand. Evidently, a ceiling tile from a dome has fallen to the dusty floor beneath as sand slowly pours into the opening. Tying a rope to the statue, the group descends into the chamber.

In the large domed chamber, the group sees two large statues on either side of a double door. Two other doors to the North and South sit in smaller alcoves. Trying the south door reveals that it is blocked by sand, the group works for a while to push and clear the obstruction enough to enter. Xaylin reluctantly fits through the crack and goes about clearing sand enough such that larger members of party can fit. What is revealed is a walkway between buildings that is covered by sand completely except for the half cylinder room, which provides a tunnel for crawling. As the group crawls to see if another building might be opened, they hear a chittering sound coming closer. Suddenly, a scarab beetle swarm attacks. In close quarter, the beetles are a great concern and even though Zoltan thrashes about crushing them, there are thousands biting. Raldinian has enough of this nonsense and unleashes a ground zero fireball to disrupt the vermin and send them skittering off into the darkness. He sends another fireball down the chamber for good measure.

Hurt and tired from the swarm attack and wanting to be ready and rested for whatever may come, the group returns to the domed chamber and rests. However, Leon has severe nightmares and gets little rest during the night.

Entering a Dark Domain
Who's laughing now?

Mid-Winter, Belsamer 22nd (The Month of Darkness), 150 AV in the Shadowfell:

The group makes a final push and jogs into the dim lights of the lanterns surrounding The House of Black Lanterns. Going inside the courtyard and into the building proper revealed a well maintained inn that smelled faintly of furniture oil and polish. Behind the wooden bar stood a Dark Stalker by the name of Newton, dressed as others of his race, cleaning out glasses and pouring drinks for paying customers. Several barmaids with slave collars on made there way through the mass of customers serving clients. As the party entered, they were greeted by a red skinned man with horns who introduced himself as Yarol and welcomed them to his humble establishment.

Customers generally kept to their own tables talking in hushed tones and watching the actions of others. At the tables were Shadar-kai, Dark Ones, Shadowborn humans and dwarves, large Gnolls, as well as pale skinned humans with reddish eyes. As the lighter grey gloom that passes for sunlight in the Shadowfell passed into night, several clients came down from rooms upstairs: white of skin, but beautiful creatures of the night, vampires. One such client, dressed in rich clothing and jewelry, talked with Yarol who immediately got servants to summon the coach and team for the “baron”. Soon, several monstrous Mohrg’s toted down two coffins as they followed their dread lord, his wife, and his party of followers out to their black coach and skeletal horses.

The group got rooms for the night and had a brief supper. After seeing a couple of vampire spawn starting to pay attention to them and afraid of the entrancing eyes (and weak wills of certain party members), they decided a few drinks were enough and turned in early.

Mid-Winter, Belsamer 23rd (The Month of Darkness), 150 AV in the Shadowfell:

Departing early (as soon as the grey overcast day began), the party said their goodbyes to Yarol and headed South. Again their guide cast his spell, and travel for the day greatly increased. The travel was uneventful until late in the day when they encountered a large bank of fog. Continuing along the road they eventually came out of the fog and found themselves climbing a large hill, but Shadowstalker was not with them. They went back into the fog to search for him, but calling out was to no avail. Afraid to stay in the fog for long, they decided that he could probably take care of himself. As they looked up the hill, they saw that a massive, age-worn castle sits atop its dark summit.

As they ascended the hill, they found scattered hamlets and farms, struggling under the oppressive weight of time. Thatched roofs are green-gray with moss, and shutters and doors hang on ragged hinges.

Further up the hill, rough hewn cottages gather close together, forming a squalid borough in the castle’s looming shadow. The group entered the merchant’s quarter, where rambling shops overlooked an open marketplace of faded tents and canopies. The mutter of voices circulated beneath the tattered canvas – a banter of buyers and sellers.

The group enters into conversation with the merchant folk, but after a few sentences all the merchants look terribly concerned. Also, all the merchant folk end their sentences with “ha ha ha” no matter what the context. City guardsmen come over in a few moments and after listening to another conversation put the group under arrest for breaking the “laughing law” and ask them to “Please follow us. Ha ha ha”. A head guardsmen convinces the group to go peacefully to the castle as it would not be wise to add murder of a guardsmen to their list of crimes; the guardsmen march the group into the castle.


Mid-Winter, Belsamer 24th (The Month of Darkness), 150 AV in the Shadowfell:

The group continues on to the South and by late in the day are at the Tower, which marks the edge of territory that the city of Gloomwrought controls. A small village clusters about the Tower and the group finds a small inn where they can rest for the night.

Mid-Winter, Belsamer 25th (The Month of Darkness), 150 AV in the Shadowfell:

Travelling south the group runs into the great swamps that surround the city of Gloomwrought. Thanks to Shadowstalker’s negotiations, the group is able to get on one of the skiffs that ply the swamps hauling loads to and fro from the city. It is slow and tedious travel and the workers on the skiff are constantly on guard from the dangers of the swamp. The group arrives at slightly before midnight on this the last day of the year; they decide to go to the Shadow Bazaar. The Shadow Bazaar is boisterous and filled with the living, the undead, and the dying. Merchants of all stripes and races hawk their wares as the City of Midnight is a major port on the Ethereal Sea.


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