Bysorth

The Prisoner

The party left Winterhaven with Rond Kelfem and Doven Staul, returning home to Bysorth. After several days of travel down the rough old road, they descended out of the rugged mountains and into the hilly outskirts of Broadvale Valley. Not long into their 11th day of travel, they encountered a squad of Guardians camped off the road.

The soldiers were gathered around a small rift, which they claim had appeared not more than a week prior. A set of strange equipment was sitting boxed next to the soliders, which they explained were components to something called an astral spike, a complex explosive that created a powerful arcane surge that disrupted and closed portals.

Their squad leader seemed agitated, and after some conversation Dav learned that they had come out with another small squad of Cabalists, who had ventured into the portal the night before to set up the equipment on the other side. It was a simple operation that should have taken a half hour, but they had not returned. He had sent in two men to check on them after an hour had passed, and they had not returned either. None of the other soldiers were willing to pass through the portal to look for their comrades.

Kelton and Sephori were able to use their arcane knowledge to assemble the Astral Spike on their side of the portal, but the device needed to be activated from both sides of the rift. The party volunteered to cross through the portal and trigger the device on the other side.

Beyond the portal the party found themselves in a warm, lush, verdant, forest. The air smelled sweet, almost intoxicating, but there were no sounds of animal life nor any sort of breeze. The components of the other half of the astral spike were mostly assembled, but a key component was missing. Savik was able to locate the trail of the soldiers, leading down a deer path into the forest.

The forest was rich with delicious fruit, which Savik tried, and sweet smelling flowers, but silent and devoid of any animal life. Savik lost the trail before long, and attempts to backtrack led them nowhere, as the path they followed somehow looped back onto itself.

Their only choice was to venture deeper, and eventually they came to a lakeshore. The water was absolutely still, and in the hazy distance they could make out a small island. On the shore they found the armor and weapons of the soldiers scattered about, but no other sign of them.

Fashioning a raft, the party paddled out to the island. The island contained a beautiful walled garden surrounding a smooth stone dome, to which their appeared to be no entrance. A large marble statue stood in the garden, in the shape of a nude man of indeterminate origin. Sephori seemed enamored by the statue, so well carved it seemed almost alive, and began to molest it. Upon receiving this affection, a portal appeared in the dome and the party ventured inside.

Inside the party encountered 4 of the 5 missing men, lounging about, eating and drinking. They were pleased to have company and invited the party to relax, eat, and await their host. They weren’t interested in discussing their duty, leaving, and as to the whereabouts of the missing man they simply said he was gone because he was boring.

Before long their “host” arrived, emerging from the upper level. He looked exactly like the statue outside, a fair skinned man with long white hair. His presence was intoxicating, like a night of mirth and good drink. He said his name was Toma, and asked the group if they’d like to stay.

Resisting his lure, the party said no, they were leaving and taking the soldiers with them. Toma seemed upset and declared them all bores, and told the soliders to deal with them. A fight broke out, and 3 of the four soliders fell before Toma was slain. Upon Toma’s death, the fourth man snapped from his stupor and surrendered, explained they he had been charmed. The beast had forced the four of them to hunt, torture, and finally eat the fifth man in some sick game.

The air turned chill and then icy cold as the warm, lush place became an icy waste in the matter of minutes. The party ran across the frozen lake, the fifth soldier in tow. Upon reaching the shore the solider, near death from the cold, donned his clothes and armor and handed over the missing part to the astral spike.

The party raced back toward where they hoped the portal was, pushing through ever deepening snow and fierce winds, when a winged beast attacked from above. The howling monster chased them all the way back to the clearing where the portal lied, where it landed and attacked. Dav, Savik, and Sephori did battle with the creature while Kelton sent the surviving solider through to activate the spike on the other side. Assembling the device, the party activated it and leapt through the portal just as the device went off, exploding with a massive force and closing the rift.

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Old Debts

The party returned to Bysorth and went their separate ways, agreeing to meet later in the day at Dav’s favorite tavern, The Smiling Naga. Dav and Savik return to the military barracks, and Savik reports in. His superiors are happy to learn of the success of the mission to Winterhaven, and even more pleased to meet Rond Kelfem. Kelfem says his goodbyes and is taken to the Palace. Meanwhile, Sephori and Kelton escort Doven Staul home. At his house, he thanks them again and bid them farewell.

Later that night, at the tavern, Captain Kelfem does not return as he had promised. However, a pageboy from the upper city greets the party and hands them each a sealed letter. King Orren is having a ball at his palace the following evening, and has invited them to attend.

The party spends the next day cleaning up Dav and Savik, purchasing them some fine clothes. At the ball they meet up with Captain Kelfem, who is pleased to say that King Orren has agreed to send a garrison to the Keep on the Shadowfell immediately, to prevent any further cult activity that could endanger Winterhaven. He has been made acting Senator from Winterhaven until Lord Padraig sends someone else.

The party also makes acquaintance with several influential Senators who had heard of their deeds in Winterhaven, including Jorn Guldanni, Iione Aal Kuzu, and Ro Arayin. King Orren himself eventually makes his entrance and gives a short speech, thanking everyone for their continued service to Bysorth. He singles out the party, thanking them for establishing relations with Winterhaven, who he considers welcome brothers to the people of Bysorth. After some applause, he finally announces his engagement to Saruko Arayin of Nadeseil, which draws gasps and murmurs of shock and disbelief.

After his speech the ball continues, and Orren finds the party and thanks them each individually. He says he hopes to see more of them, and expects them to have a bright future in Bysorth.

A few days pass, and Doven Staul seeks out the party once again. He’s worried; he hasn’t seen his wife since returning to Bysorth. When he returned home, his home had been ransacked. He didn’t say anything to Kelton and Sephori at the time, feeling they had done enough for him, but he didn’t know where else to turn at this point.

Doven confesses that his trip to Winterhaven was not specifically to further his academic research, but rather a deal he made to pay off some old gambling debts. The men he owed money to arranged for him to seek out a specific piece of antiquity at that particular burial ground in exchange for a large payment, which would cover his debt and significant interest. When he failed to return, he suspects that his wife was abducted and is being held for ransom.

Doven described the item as a thick crystalline tube, roughly 2 feet in length and 6 inches across, with an inner diameter of 1 inch. Beyond that his “employers” said no more, other than it may hold faint magical energy.

The party investigated Doven’s home, and saw signs of multiple intruders and a struggle. They also found old pig manure, probably stuck in someone’s boots. They interviewed his neighbors, who were reluctant to talk. Eventually one old man who ran an apothecary confessed seeing 3 men break into Doven’s house 3 days prior (which was shortly after the party had dealt with the rift on the outskirts of Broadvale Valley) and take Mrs. Staul during the night. He described one man as very large, with a bald head and a tattoo of a bull on his arm.

Taking the clues they had the party ventured to the outside the walls of Bysorth and began searching around areas with pig farms. They talked to some people that knew a man who matched the description of the bald headed kidnapper; he was an occasional farmhand here. They found out he frequented the Stony Well Tavern in Bysorth’s west side.

At the Tavern, the party found the man they were looking for. Conversation did not go well and a brawl broke out. Savik spotted a halfling slipping out the back, and after knocking out the bruisers the party gave chase.

They pursued the halfling through the streets, and eventually cornered him in a dead-end alley. After a short fight the halfling surrendered. He confessed to kidnapping Myra Staul. They had delivered her to some men outside the city and they were headed to Old Lookout Point to hide her until Doven made good on his deal.

The party set out for the point, travelling a day and a half until reaching Fort Radaren, at the base of Mount Hephsas. Seeking a room for the night, they drew the attention of a group of shady looking men. The men skip town before the party is able to question them.

The following morning sephori travelled to the fort itself and attempted to convince its captain that a prisoner was being held up atop the mountain, at Old Lookout Point. Since she had no proof, the captain didn’t give much weight to her claim, reluctantly agreeing to send a patrol to investigate the following day.

The party set out by themselves instead, heading up the mountain. After several hours travel, they came across a group of dead orcs. The orcs appeared to have killed each other. Among the bodies they encounter one orc still living. Healing him enough so that he could talk and move, they interrogated him. His name was Krul’Thoon, and the dead orcs in the area were his tribe.

His vizier had betrayed him, taking half his clan. Krul’Thoon and his loyal tribesmen ambushed them while they attacked a group of humans travelling up the mountain with a female prisoner. He attacked while the orcs and humans battled, and the humans escaped during the commotion His small band was defeated, and what was left of his clan went north with his traitorous vizier to serve a dragon who had recently arrived in the area, taking with them the human woman they had captured.

The party and Krul’Thoon continued north when they were ambushed by the men from the tavern, the same men who had battled with the orcs the day before. Krul’Thoon, wounded, was knocked unconscious, but not before felling two of the ambushers himself. A third mage committed suicide rather than be captured, exploding in a ball of electric fire. The fourth, a tiefling man, escaped, to Savik’s chagrin.

The party came to Old Lookout Point near the end of the day. The ancient tower was out in the wide open, with no stealthy way to approach. Instead the party boldly stepped forth and demanded Myra Staul be released. Sythiss, outraged, ordered his orcs to attack.

The party fought a fierce battle with the orcs, all the while Sythiss attacking them from above with his poisoned breath. Eventually they took the top of the tower, and repairing and old ballista shot Sythiss through the wing. The dragon crashed into the tower, collapsing it, plunging them all into the caverns below.

Inside the party found Myra Staul chained and soaking in fetid water. Before they could free her Sythiss returned and attacked, defending his lair. The party was again victorious, and freed Myra Staul. Exhausted, they spent the evening inside the crumbled remains of Old Lookout Point. The next morning, a patrol of soliders arrived as promised, too late to be of any help. They did mention capturing a tiefling man the day before and locking him up in the fort. Upon returning to Fort Radaren, the prisoner had escaped.

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The Forgotten City

The party’s return to Bysorth with Myra Staul was delayed by the seasonal flooding of the Gomai. They spent the time in nearby villages enjoying the harvest festivals. After two weeks time, the crossings reopened and Myra and Doven were reunited.

At The Smiling Naga Dav and Savik overhear conversation of a discovery in the Hephsas Mine. No one seems to know for sure what it is, and the stories vary wildly. Rond Kelfem arrives later in the night, accompanied by Falemo. He introduces Falemo as an old friend from Winterhaven whom Lord Padraig had asked to assist in Bysorth.

Captain Kelfem expresses his bewilderment at the art of politics, but clearly understands the two rival factions within the Senate. He is doing his best to remain neutral in it all, but it is difficult. He has also heard the rumors about the discovery in the mines; it’s been all over the city. The Miner’s Guild is prepared to make a formal announcement. He mentions an invitation to Orem Manor, home of the Guldanni family, the following evening. He asks the party to accompany him.

The event at Orem Manor is not nearly as lavish as the palace ball, but in attendance are most all of the Senators of theWorker’s Party and many of their influential friends. Without much warning, Urud Guldanni enters the chamber with a small entourage. After the crowd quieted, his brother Jorn begins to speak.

He explains that the Guild had broken into an entirely new expanse of cavern deep in the Hephsas mine, a network of old lava tubes. Not long after their discovery, the attacks of Dwarf Lords increased drastically. Since King Orren would not commit Bysorth’s army to protecting its workers, territory, and its treasure, they had made other arrangements.

At this point Jorn welcomed Kirion Lithren and a cadre of Drow. The crowd seemed shocked, and Savik stormed out of the manor after his former mentor gave him a knowing nod. Kirion explained that he had been working tirelessly over the years to establish relations with The Zinthacor Drow, and the recent surge in Dwarven attacks on both the Drow and Bysorth suggested the time was right for an alliance. Jorn Guldanni then announced his intentions to take the matter before the Senate.

Over the next few days the debate in the Senate raged and the party was kept in the know from Captain Kelfem. The Eldarin and many elven Senators were outraged at the thought of a treaty with the Drow, and the unspoken threat of succession was obvious. However, the Drow were already integrating with the humans in Hephsas Mine and fortifying new positions that encroached into Dwarven territory. Also, the Miner’s Guild revealed it had sent a group into the newly discovered caverns to scout. That was almost 2 weeks prior, and they had not returned. After they had been missing for 5 days, a joint group of Drow spelunkers and humans were sent to find them. They too had not returned. King Orren himself appeared before the Senate to demand a military scouting party be sent in, but Jorn Guldanni had blocked the motion claiming that by law the Bysorth Military had no right to operate inside the mines.

Captain Kelfem has a plan, and asks Kelton to speak to his Gerald Osprey, and ask him to sponsor Kelton and his friends as a neutral party to investigate the ancient caverns that the Dwarves seemed so interested in. Kelton does so, and his father brings the motion before the Senate in their next session. No objections are voiced, and it is agreed that the party will be sent into Hephsas Mine that very night.

The party is escorted deep into the earth, past the regular mining operations and down long, winding tunnels on newly laid mining cart track. They come to a large natural cavern containing a Guild encampment, featuring a rough but sturdy reinforced wood wall cutting the chamber in half. The encampment is under attack by dwarven bear riders, some of which break through the outer defense of Drow and attack the party.

After defeating the dwarves, the miners opened a large barricade they had erected and let the party through into the old lava tube, closing it behind them. Upon their return, they need only ask and they’d be let out.

After several hours of travel the party stumbled upon a lair of ettercaps and their spider pets. The battle was short. Exploring the lair they found the remains of some humans, probably the original expedition, and signs of several humanoids passing through hastily.

Almost a day passed as they followed the trail deeper into the earth. A sudden tunnel collapse caught Dav and Kelton by surprise, and the plummeted over a hundred feet down a smooth rock chute and into a worked stone chamber. Lowering a rope, the rest of the party joined them.

They found themselves inside the remains of an ancient tower of unknown origin. Some walls were adorned with strange reliefs and alien writing. Exploring, they discovered an ancient library with a few preserved ritual tomes still intact and a strange elevator system. In the basement of the tower they found incredible, but inoperative workshops for the creation of golems, a dusty but still functional alchemy lab, and a huge, strange device full of crystals with tubes that extended up and out in all directions.

Kelton used a ritual to repair a shattered focus crystal within the device and the tower sprung to life. Back in the library, they decoded a magical panel that was locking the elevator and travelled to the upper levels. Above, the party was attacked by undead mages, spirits, and golem soldiers. Battling through the awakened guardians, the party was met by the tower’s master, a robed skeletal figure wielding a large frosty scythe.

A fierce battle waged, the master attacking with bursts of icy magic and the tower itself pummeling the heroes with magical bolts and electric shocks from the floor. Eventually the creature was defeated, and it vanished with a cry that sounded almost relieved. Searching the chamber, the discovered the sc raps of an old journal. Kelton used a ritual to decipher it. It read,

We had hoped sealing the tower and disabling the power reactor would calm the tensions, but our best intentions have wrought disaster. War has broken out within our city as it has on the surface above, but here we kill only ourselves. The fighting has raged for weeks now, and it seems neither side will be satisfied with anything less that the total destruction of their enemy. The definition of who is and is not enemy, however, is so nebulous that I fear nothing short of a self inflicted genocide awaits our once great people. The rage that once burned in my heart has died and now I feel only sadness.

Deciding to rest in a defensible room with in the tower, the party holed up for some sleep. During their rest, they could hear faint sobbing in the distance, which would occasionally turn to anguished screams. Halfway through their rest a rumble disturbed them from below. From a window they saw the large golem from the basement, now animated, leaving the tower.

After their rest the party left the tower, descending a great staircase into what appeared to be the streets of a city. Their lights cast flickering reflections off huge crystals growing from the ceiling of the massive cavern, appearing almost as starlight. After some exploration they learned that they had found a massive city built into the bottom of an enormous geode.

They made their way through the streets, following the sounds of the wailing in the distance. Along the way they passed a large walled barracks, in which Savik could make out the shapes of patrolling golems.

They progressed further, trying to avoid contact with the great patrolling golem that still walked the streets. Unfortunately, Falemo was spotted, and he attempted to communicate with it. It spoke in a strange language at first, then seemed to malfunction and began repeating the same phrase over and over, “Pi pi pi..” The golem attacked Falemo, slamming him into a house which collapsed onto him. The rest of the party fled.

Eventually they came upon a crumbling manor house which seemed to be the source of the wailing. Inside, they were attacked by raging spirits along with a screaming banshee spirit. Dav fell through a trap door into a basement, where he was nearly eviscerated by ghouls. Sephori jumped in after him and saved his life while the rest of the party drove off the spirits and chased the banshee into the upper levels.

Pursuing, they did battle with the banshee and her ghostly servitors. They defeated the wretched spirit, and within the master bedroom found the following letter sealed within a scroll tube:

and now I hear stories of people disappearing from their homes in the night.

For too long our people have followed a path of destruction. We have sent our children and our friends to die time and again and none of the promised glory has been realized.

Our history has been fraught with pain and hardship; our only legacy is the well unrealized potential of each wasted soul who gave their lives for nothing. We had hoped a new path lay before us when we cast aside our old governance, but with every day that passes I fear the old ways have never really died. I have faith in (here the words were scribbled out, and above in rough script was written’ BETRAYER’), and I know she has long desired the best for our people. But the time for petty politics is over. The old war machines that nearly led our people to extinction not so long ago are once again stirring in secret.

Now, together, we must show with absolute unity that if we are fight and die, it will not be for riches, not for any self-styled King or Emperor, and not in the name of any God. If war is our destiny, we fight will for our family and fellows. We must fight only for ourselves.

Before long they could hear faint cries in the air, and saw signs of the banshee they had just defeated rematerializing. Knowing the guardian golem still walked the streets, but too weak to battle the banshee again, the party fled for the relative safety of the walled barracks. They hid within its walls for the night, out of sight of the patrolling golems. The next day they ventured inside, making short work of the golems after a good rest.

The party delved deep into the barracks dungeon, and encountered a devil with a peculiar affect, trapped within a summoning circle. The devil admitted that he had been there for almost 3000 years, having been summoned but never commanded. His summoner was slain shortly after completing the ritual and he had been trapped ever since.

The party negotiated with the devil, promising his release in exchange for answering a series of questions honestly. The devil agreed, conjured a contract, and the bargain was struck. While he had no knowledge of current events, having been stuck in this room for 3000 years, he was able to answer questions about the city and what happened.

He claimed the original inhabitants were drow, and that the city had destroyed itself in civil war. At the height of the fighting, an eruption of hellfire occurred, originating from the temple at the heart of the city. He claimed that all the inhabitants were slain save one, who managed to escape. He did not know if that survivor lived today, but reasoned it was possible given elven life spans.

The devil said the city’s raging spirits were being awakened and dragged into their old conflicts by a dark presence he could feel emerging from the center of the city. He told the party that ancient rituals were again being performed at the temple, and said they could make their way down through the dungeons of these barracks.

They party made their way into the dungeons and discovered Falemo, who had been tossed by the guardian golem into a chute that led to a cell. Together they fought their way through the mazelike dungeon, continuously harried by the angry dead.

Eventually they emerged into the lower streets of the old city, and saw a group of humans and drow engaged with the same golem that had attacked them in the streets above. They slipped by in the chaos and made their way into the wicked looking temple.

Inside they encountered a group of humans and drow performing a dark ritual. A nude drow woman, chained to a cross, was being lowered into a pool of lava. Spotting some robes nearby, the party tried to bluff their way closer to the altar. Ultimately their bluff succeded, as the leader of the ritual, a drow man who had grown twisting horns and leathery black wings, insisted Savik be brought to the altar to sacrifice.

Savik sprang to action at the last instant, escaping the altar and freeing the captive drow woman in one acrobatic action. A battle raged over spewing gouts of lava, and the party was aided by the freed prisoner against what was clearly the remains second scouting party. Eventually the cultists were defeated, and the leader of the ritual’s infernal mutations fell off and turned to dust. On his body Kelton discovered a leather-bound tome.

Their victory was short lived, as the lava beneath them began to bubble up. Fleeing the inner temple, they were cut off by the guardian golem who was making his way toward the temple. Spotting a collapsed wall leading to a cool lava tube, the party fled the temple as falling debris blocked the path behind them.

The drow woman, named Sudixth Merrin, confirmed that those were indeed the second scouting party, of which she was a member. They had discovered the city several days prior and had become trapped inside. She said that it was quiet until just 2 days ago, when the undead began to wake. It was at that time that her brother Kagen had discovered the tome which Kelton recovered. Su said that he began to get moody, and the more he read the more it changed him. The corrupting influence spread to the rest of their party, and she too had felt it but managed to resist.

Her story was interrupted by their emergence into a large crystal cavern. The floor was wet and a large pool of warm, salty water filled one side of the cave. Several tall, symmetrical crystals were standing in various places throughout the cavern, each fitted with a strange control panel.

Before they could study them further, the guardian golem found the party. Upon entering the cavern the energies of the crystals seemed to repair its speech, and it made an inquiry of Su. Bewildered, and not understanding the thing, she simply nodded her head, which caused the golem to attack.

It unleashed a flurry of arcane firepower, and was protected by an almost impenetrable magical shield. Sephori realized the golem was drawing power from the large crystals. While Dav and Falemo did their best to hold off the golem, Savik and Su set to disabling the control panels on the large crystals so Sephori and Kelton could dispel their magic energies. The plan succeeded, and the golem was destroyed.

From the thing’s back, a large rod was ejected in a gout of acrid steam. A crystalline tube approximately 2 feet long and six inches thick, with an inner diameter of roughly an inch…

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Liberators?

The party, battered and beaten but victorious over the guardian golem, recovered its power source and began to make their way out. With Sudixth Merrin’s help, they eventually emerged from the mazelike network of lava tubes and into a great limestone cavern.

Su, recognizing the signs of Dwarven traffic, tried to lead the party the opposite direction. Dav saw through her lie easily, however, and she confessed to not wanting to venture into dwarven lands, even if it was the fastest way to the surface. Sephori and Falemo, however, insisted they attempt to speak with the dwarves; that the dwarves might have some information about The Forgotten City they could use.

Su took her leave of the party, and they ventured toward the dwarven settlement. They came upon the outskirts of a settlement, and encountered some frail, haggard looking dwarves. These dwarves immediately fled, all but one stern looking dwarven woman who insisted the party leave, as the Riders of Flame would soon be coming. She would say no more and returned to her hut.

Two bear riders rode forth and confronted the party, breaking off an attack after seeing they were outnumbered. These dwarves, dressed in shabby armor and covered in war paint, tried to intimidate the party into leaving. Sephori brandished her holy symbol and the dwarves reacted as if offended, spitting on it and casting it to the ground. When the party would not yield, the riders turned and left.

Afterward, a dwarven child was curious enough to talk to the party. Sephori offered him some food which eased the child’s fears, and he answered some of their questions. He told them that they work here, gathering food and minerals for the army. He seemed perplexed that the party was not there to kill him, as he’d always been taught that humans and elves would only kill dwarves. He also didn’t understand the holy symbols worn by the party, and simply said, “No gods. Gods tell lies.”

The sounds of more riders approaching scared the child off, and this time 4 riders attacked, lead by a dwarf carrying a battle standard and riding a trained war bear. The fight was brief, and after the lead rider was slain the remaining dwarves fled. Dav intimidated the bear and it ceased attacking, but he was unable to convince it to follow him and the bear wondered off into the darkness.

After the battle the dwarven woman emerged from the hut and brought the party inside. She offered what little food she had and thanked them for driving off the riders, at least for a time. She said her name was Bruna, and asked them to draw their names on a stone slate which she kept hidden in her hut. She told the party that the riders came regularly to her village and took their food, water, and whatever minerals they had mined, leaving them little to subsist on. The riders took this to supply their armies to fight against the humans and elves.

Bruna escorted the party through her tiny village and set them on a path to the surface. They emerged onto a bright mountainside in the middle of a snowstorm after over a week underground in the darkness. After several days, they made their way back to Bysorth.

They took some time to clean up then sought to meet with King Orren II. Kelton, still in possession of the strange rod and the infernal tome, stashed them somewhere in his family’s grounds. They gained immediate admittance to the King’s castle, and Orren wasted no time granting them audience.

The party told Orren everything, save their recovery of the rod from the golem and the ritual book. Orren seemed overwhelmed with the tale, and fought his initial skepticism. He confessed that there was little he could do legally right now, and the Miner’s Guild and the drow would undoubtedly be sending further expeditions into the city. He hoped the awoken undead would keep them at bay until something could be done.

In the meantime he suggested that the party tell Senator Guldanni everything they had told him, because keeping secrets would be pointless and only make an enemy of the Miner’s guild unduly. The King then turned the conversation toward the party’s encounter with the dwarves.

He confided in the party that he had secretly been in talks with the Jorga, Lord of Songs, regarding a truce between Bysorth and the Dwarf Lords. However, these talks have been sabotaged by the Miner’s Guild alliance with the Drow. He expressed empathy for the plight of the dwarven people, especially those subjugated by the Lord of Flame. Sephori told King Orren that she wished to help the dwarven people, and King Orren said he was happy to hear that, and hoped he could find some way for them to aid in the future.

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Hobgoblins

After meeting with King Orren II, the party immediately set out to meet with Senator Guldanni. Inside Orem Manor the party was directed to a waiting room, where before long Jorn arrived with a small entourage which included Kirion Lithren. Sensing Savik’s anger, Jorn asked Kirion to leave while they discussed the party’s discoveries.

Kelton Osprey relayed most of the tale, omitting the recovery of the golem’s power rod and the dark ritual book, and their conversation with the summoned devil. Jorn asked several questions afterward, and seemed intent upon eventually sending more people down to the city. He also tried to impress upon the party the value of the working relationship they enjoyed with the Drow and the impossibility of peace with the Dwarf Lords.

After their discussion ended, Jorn summoned an aide who presented each of the party with a small, black lockbox fitted with silver rivets. On their way out, Kirion tried to reach out to Savik, but Savik would have none of it. The party learned that Savik’s hate for Kirion was in part due to the death of his old lover.

On their way through the streets, the party came across a small assembly in one of the squares. A pair of missionaries were preaching and handing out tracts. Dav took one of the tracts. It depicted a drawing of mountain with the sun setting behind it, and the heading read “This world can be saved!” The group called themselves the Heralds of Celestia, and they preached to the crowd to look to themselves for strength and salvation.

Before long some members of the crowd became agitated and threw stones at the missionaries. Using magical abilities to defend themselves, they were promptly arrested by the City Watch for using magic without a license. The missionaries seemed content to go to jail, and when Sephori visited them later she found them preaching to a group of attentive vagrants, drunks, debtors and thieves.

Rond Kelfem met up with Falemo later to catch up, and told the party about the goings on in the Senate. Debate was raging about the Drow situation, with several elven and eladrin senators delivering a thinly veiled threat of breaking their alliance with Bysorth if a formal treaty was enacted. However, a small group of elves championed the cause.

After a few days Dav received a message from Sudixth Merrin, asking that the party meet her at a small village well outside Bysorth’s walls. After travelling to meet her, Su tells the party that she had not yet returned to her superiors, but instead had decided to seek out Toth Soldrin, who was the oldest Drow she could think of. After telling him about The Forgotten City, Toth insisted that she ask the party to meet with him. She provided them with a map pinpointing his home, and left them to make their own way while she returned to Bysorth.

The party made their way north into the mountains and came to a small settlement on a plateau called Flathead. They learned that the path they had intended to take to meet Toth was blocked due to a lava flow, and they’d have to find another way. Asking around town, they learned of two possible paths. The longer path was through a place called Battlefield Downs, where undead activity had been reported. The other was directly through the mountain via a network of caves, but they’d have to contend with a group of hobgoblins who’d taken residence there.

Electing to pass through the caves, the party also promised to attempt to rescue some women from Flathead who’d been abducted in an earlier goblin raid. The goblins made no secret of their lair and had marked their territory clearly as the party traveled up the mountain. They were spotted by sentries, and while one was killed by Savik’s arrow another escaped to sound the alarm.

Storming the lair, the party walked into a simple trap the goblins had set. Crossbowmen ignited a slick of lamp oil in an attempt to burn and suffocate the party, but Kelton Osprey was able to teleport behind their lines and decimate their defenses with his magic. The party made short work of the initial goblin resistance and ventured deeper.

After Savik scouted ahead they elected to attack who they thought was the leader. Indeed he was; a fierce hobgoblin who worshipped Manzyron and seemed extremely pleased to finally have a worthy fight. A fierce battle took place in the makeshift temple within the cave, but after their leader fell the hobgoblins retreated. The party managed to capture one of the goblinoids, a bugbear assassin who had attempted to sneak away.

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Bewitched

After routing the goblinoids the party set about exploring their lair. The bugbear they had captured was quite cooperative, explaining that he was only working for the money and he found the pursuits of the hobgoblin mages distasteful.

They discovered the women who had been kidnapped from town. One was quite crazed, and beyond all reason. Another had been the subject of experimentation. Her leg had been amputated, animated as undead flesh, and reattached. The new limb seemed to function according to its own will. The third woman was unharmed, and offered to escort the maimed woman back to Flathead. They seemed hopeful that Tirian, the scholar studying the undead nearby, would be able to help restore the undead leg. The party didn’t have the heart to let her know Tirian was likely dead.

The bugbear prisoner indicated that the hobgoblin mages had been working for a nearby coven of witches, who had taken an old mountainside temple. He proposed that if the party wished to end the troubles plaguing the area, the witches should be dealt with. He warned of their seductive wiles and urged caution, but offered to show them the way to the temple.

After overtaking some hobgoblins that had fled to warn the coven, the party arrived at the temple shortly before sundown. Outside they saw an encampment of several women of various races, each of them decorated with numerous tattoos, piercings, scars, and other forms of self mutilation. The bugbear suggested they infiltrate from the bottom of the temple rather than storming the front gates. When the party’s stealth failed, however, the bugbear created a distraction so they could quickly get inside.

Behind the temple was a sewer grate spewing filth. They hastily made their way inside and climbed up into a large chamber with numerous piles of rotting, dismembered carcasses. Feasting on them were various large carrion feeders. The party did their best to sneak past the monsters, and did so with only a minor burning from a gelatinous cube.

They climbed out through a heavy, slotted hatch into another room filled with corpses, but these were intact. From one door they heard the sounds of fornication and from another shouting and shuffling.

After making their way down a bending corridor, they came to a door, behind which they could hear a woman ordering others to pack and carry various containers. Dav kicked down the door, hoping to surprise them, and triggered an exploding ward. A battle broke out with a death priestess and her undead minions, which the party won but not before severely taxing their resources. Knowing they’d need to recuperate before they were attacked again, they made camp in a forgotten secret chamber. Kelton Osprey sealed it with an arcane lock.

Throughout their rest they heard the sounds of creatures coming and going, but no one discovered them resting. The next morning, they found the corpse of a gnoll chained to a set of pillars. It had been killed by the witches prior to their abandoning the temple, but they were unable to determine why. Back in the lower section, the party made their way back toward the room with the grate they had crawled out of. The door was sealed with a crude trap rigged, which Savik easily disabled.

Inside the piles of corpses began to rise all around them. To gain some distance from the zombies, Falemo opened the door to the chamber from which they’d heard the fornicating earlier. Inside they discovered a vampires sleeping in the tentacled embrace of a grell. What few witches remained also awoke and attacked from the balcony above.

Kelton and Sephori did their best to keep the undead horde at bay while the rest of the party did battle with the witches and the grell. The horde was unrelenting, however. Both Falemo and Kelton were tossed by the grell into the throng of zombies, with Kelton nearly losing his life to the tearing, biting horde. A timely intervention by Sephori saved his life.

Eventually the grell was killed and the vampiress fell soon after. Dav barreled a bloated zombie off the balcony, and then with a mighty cleave struck down the remainder of the throng. Mangled but victorious, the party was left wondering if this was merely a group of women with hellish fetishes or something more…

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