Campaign of the Month: February 2012

Legacy of the Realms

"Sins of the Father" Part 1
A Shadowblades Story Arc

30 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The sewers of Daggerford


Nightshade
Nightshade’s breath filled the tunnel with a cloud of acid that burned every inch of Gaerd De’Barronn’s body.

His eyes watering, he struck at the large black dragon’s exposed neck. Dark, thick blood flowed as his sword sliced deeply through thick muscles. However, he was barely able to see from the stinging effects of the dragon’s acidic breath. He therefore found it difficult to avoid the creature’s wicked claws that struck relentlessly at the cornered drow.

“After I kill you Gaerd De’Barronn,” Nightshade hissed in anger. “I will feast upon your flesh until there is nothing left to bring back from death!”

Gaerd caught his breath as pain threatened to engulf him into oblivion. Despite Nightshade suffering under his own attacks, Gaerd began to wonder if he could survive this deadly encounter with a black dragon."

**

“We’ve got to find a way to open this damned gate!” Gomorrah yelled to Carric, her voice sounding grave and urgent.

Sergeant Carric, of the Daggerford militia, was frantically looking for a means of opening the huge wooden gate that separated Gomorrah and him from Gaerd De’Barronn who was waging a deadly battle against a large black dragon. With the unguent of darkvision providing him with the ability to see in total darkness, Carric could see Gaerd and the black dragon locked in combat.

He and Gomorrah needed to get in there and help Gaerd, and soon!

“I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find any way of opening this gate!” Carric yelled back to Gomorrah. The female human fighter/rogue was also focused on looking for any way to open the gate that came down as soon as Gaerd entered the cavern on the other side. “Nightshade’s going to kill him!”

Moments earlier, both of them saw the dragon fly out of a large murky pool of sewage in the middle of the fungi-lit cavern. The dragon, easily bigger than a destrier, landed in front of a side tunnel where Gaerd had just slain the same female shadar-kai they saw earlier in the Coffer’s Secret. The dragon had roared in anger and proclaimed itself as Nightshade, daughter to the legendary black dragon, Nightwing.

Carric, like most of the people of Daggerford, knew well the history surrounding Nightwing. As the story went, Nightwing had magically transformed himself into a human cavalier who managed to gain the confidence of the then ruler of Daggerford, Duke Pwyll Greatshout, long before the Spellplague. There was much turmoil and chaos within the duke’s court as Nightwing’s poisoned words manipulated Duke Pwyll’s actions.

Fortunately, Gaerd De’Barronn and his brother, Zaachaeus—two unlikely drow heroes—arrived in Daggerford. Their actions would eventually uncover Nightwing’s evil plot as well as reveal the black dragon for what it really was. A mighty battle ensued near the river docks which ended in the death of Nightwing.

Both drows were proclaimed as heroes of Daggerford soon after.

That was over a century ago.

It seemed the great wyrm, Nightwing, had a daughter who was now looking to avenge the death of her father.

If anyone could survive a dragon attack, it would be Gaerd, Carric thought.

He had seen the drow fight since he ran into him and Gomorrah back in Golden Acres. He and three other soldiers, while on patrol, came upon Gaerd and Gomorrah fighting against a bullette, or land shark, as they were commonly called.

Against goblins and common street thugs, Carric felt that his skill with the short sword was adequate. But against the land shark…well, he may as well have been poking at the armored creature with a twig for all the good he did. However, Gaerd’s relentless attacks kept the creature at bay. At one point, the creature tried to escape only to have the drow kill it before it had the chance.

Even against the Oni which now lay dead, its body half submerged in the foul water, Gaerd had all but killed it singlehandedly.

The ogre-like creature had flown off in gaseous form after the drow had severely injured it. They then followed it to a sewer pipe with rusted bars that were easily broken.

Unfortunately, Ivan the sorcerer had to leave and recover from the injuries he sustained in the fight with the Oni and later, with a gelatinous cube.

Past the sewer pipe, the three followed a narrow tunnel that led farther into Daggerford’s sewer system. Rats and cockroaches were everywhere.

Gaerd led the way when three more shadar-kais tried to ambush them. After a short fight, the three shadar-kais lay dead. Clearly getting closer to where the shadar-kai’s hideout might be, the group pressed on.

They then came upon the cavern.

Sewage water flowed into the cavern where it gathered in a large, foul-smelling pool in the cavern’s center. Knee-high mushrooms grew in large patches near the pool’s edge.

While he and Gomorrah stayed back, Gaerd went in alone to investigate the cavern, knowing that the Oni could be hiding anywhere. Carric wasn’t sure what happened next, but he saw Gaerd leap through the air farther into the cavern. The drow landed near a patch of mushrooms which exploded in reaction to his landing. A thick cloud of gas and spores burst out of the fungi but didn’t seem to affect Gaerd in the least.

Carric and Gomorrah quickly moved to follow Gaerd but were suddenly cut off by a huge wooden gate that came crashing down in front of them. To make matters worse, a large gaseous cloud flew towards them both, flowing through the bars to solidify into the Oni. Fortunately, the Oni was missing its deadly morningstar which Gaerd had disarmed from him when they first fought.

With only its fists to fight with, the Oni desperately tried to fight off Carric and Gomorrah. Although having healed itself slightly, the Oni was clearly still wounded and had not fully recovered from its last battle.

Within several breaths, Gomorrah and Carric were able to slay the Oni.

With the Oni dead, Carric and Gomorrah turned their attention to the gate blocking their way. Both hoped that they could find a way to open it so they can help Gaerd in his battle against the black dragon, Nightshade.


To be continued in “Revenge of the Dragon”


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"Underworld"
A Shadowblades Story Arc

29 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The sewers under Daggerford


“You look none the worse for what you’ve been through Sergeant Carric,” Gomorrah said.

Sergeant Carric of the Daggerford Militia stepped into The Coffer’s Secret, a small curio shop which stood across from the Happy Cow tavern. He still wore bandages a healer and priest from the temple to Chauntea used to bind his wounds. “I’m a bit sore, but can manage.”

“Good,” Gaerd said. “Because we’re going down to the sewers.”

After climbing down the ladder from the curios shop, the group found themselves in a large sewer tunnel. Normally it would be extremely dark in the sewers. Fortunately, Gaerd had purchased several containers of unguent of darkvision from Marlon Spellson, Daggerford’s resident wizard and maker of potions. Each container contained enough unguent to provide its user with darkvision for up to an hour.

Waist high murky water, reeking of filth, filled the middle of the tunnel. There were ledges, wide enough to walk upon on either side, provided one walked carefully on its slippery surface.

In one direction the tunnel had collapsed, while the other lead deeper into the sewer system.

The group made their way cautiously along the ledges to avoid stepping into the murky water.

That’s when they noticed faint light coming from around a bend in the tunnel.

Farther down, they spotted an old man laying on the ledge, his back against the wall. He was balding in places and had a long scraggly beard, although with his face turned away from Gaerd, it was hard to completely see his features. He was dressed in an old torn shirt and his pants were patched up in places and was covered in mud. A faint flickering torch, lay on the floor next to him. The torch looked like it was ready to burn out at any second.

The sewage continued in the area where the man lay. Everyone noticed that the water near the old man didn’t seem to swirl as would be expected. It also rounded another corner and disappeared from sight.

Gaerd moved closer to the old man who continued to moan as if in pain. When he reached the water’s edge, he called pon his power of levitation. He slowly drifted towards the man on the other side of the tunnel. From where he hovered, he couldn’t see any visible wound but the man sounded hurt.

Gomorrah made her way to the opposite side. Ivan followed, while Carric remained behind.

As Gaerd floated to within a few feet of the man on the ledge, he started to notice that the man had no visible wounds on him at all!

He was about to say something, when suddenly the old man jerked his head towards the drow. An evil grin began to spread across his face.

His feature suddenly melted away as his body grew in size. The torch on the ground also began to transform, turning into a wicked-looking morningstar almost as long as Gaerd was tall.

“It’s an Oni!” Gaerd yelled to the others as he ducked under the creature’s powerful swing. With its morningstar, the Oni was able to reach an opponent nearly ten feet away! Gaerd returned the attack with his own, cutting a deep gash across it’s chest.

Gomorrah moved back out of the creature’s reach, while Ivan struck it with a conjured magic missile.

The Oni roared in pain and turned to face the sorcerer. It swung it’s morningstar and struck Ivan, lifting the sorcerer off the ledge sending him hurtling into the water with a loud splash.

Gomorrah moved in, easily dodging the Oni’s reach while Gaerd cut the creature across its arm.

The Oni ignored the drow’s attack and struck Gomorrah. She flew back and landed in the water hard. Gaerd looked down. He couldn’t see either Ivan nor Gomorrah. He feared they may have sunk into the murky sewage and could be drowning.

Carric, armed with only a short sword, had no way of attacking the Oni from range.

“Help the others!” Gaerd yelled to the sergeant. He turned in time to avoid being hit by the Oni’s weapon. He lunged with his sword, twisting the blade around the Oni’s wrist which held the bloodstained morningstar. With a quick twist of his blade, the morningstar flew out of the Oni’s grip. Rather than catch it, which he could have don, he let the weapon plunge into the murky water below.

Roaring in rage and anger, the Oni’s form shifted once again. This time, it became a large gaseous cloud and flew under the levitating drow and into a side tunnel.

Gaerd swung his sword as it flew past, but his blade met very little resistance as he cut through the thick cloud that was the Oni.

Img 2044
He turned towards where the Oni had flown to when his attention was suddenly drawn to a large form that began to emerge from out of the sewer.

At first it looked like Ivan and Gomorrah where both emerging out of the water, suspended it seemed in midair.

To both Carric and Gaerd, the truth became quickly apparent.

Both Ivan and Gomorrah were inside a large cube of transparent ooze! Skeletal remains also floated inside the creature. It was hard to tell whether Ivan or Gomorrah were alive or not.

Gaerd wanted to chase after the fleeing Oni but his companions needed his help.

Carric trie to help free Ivan who was within his reach. But as he reached out with his arm, the creature suddenly engulfed him as well.

Gaerd landed on the ledge near where Carric was pulled in by the creature. To his relief, he noticed that the others, although trapped inside the gelatinous cube, were still alive. He could see them moving, struggling to free themselves. He struck at it again, careful to avoid hitting any one of his companions.

Gomorrah suddenly fell out of the creature and landed on the ledge nearby having freed herself. Carric, too, managed to extricate himself from the creature as he landed next to Gaerd. Only Ivan lay trapped inside the creature.

Each then struck at the creature, killing it instantly.

They then immediately pulled Ivan out of the large ooze. They placed the unconscious sorcerer on the ledge. Gaerd then took out a healing potion and administered it to Ivan who quickly regained consciousness.

“We thought you were dead,” Carric said to Ivan who sat on the ledge. Carric was slightly hurt while Gomorrah too looked like she was barely injured in the encounter.

“I nearly was,” Ivan replied. He looked towards Gaerd. “I thank you for the healing potion, but I’m afraid my wounds are far worse than the potion could heal.”

“You’ll need to rest for a day before you can continue,” Gaerd said. He turned towards the tunnel where the Oni flew into. He saw a large chamber where the sewer flowed into. Four large stone pipes allowed the sewage to flow out of the chamber. From one pipe, they could see faint light just beyond a thick set of rusted metal bars. He turned back to face Ivan. “Go up and recover. We’ll continue on ahead without you. Catch up as soon as you are able to.”

Ivan started to protest but Gaerd cut him off. “The unguents which allows us to see in the dark will not last beyond the hour. In your condition, I’m afraid you’ll simply slow us down. And we can’t give that Oni a chance to recover.”

The injured sorcerer knew the drow was right. The others helped him up. He then carefully made his way back to the ladder that led up to the Coffer’s Secret.

He looked back at the others who were busy searching the area before moving on.

A sense of dread began to fill the sorcerer from Waterdeep. Ivan couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever see them alive again.


The battle rages on in “Sins of the Father” Part 1


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford, Ivan Moonshade

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"Welcome to Daggerford"
Shadowblades Story Arc

28 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The rain drenched the town of Daggerford, turning its walls and shop facades a darker shade of grey.

To Gomorrah, the town had always been home. Despite her infamous surname, she was accepted there. She even drew the attention of the ailing ruler of Daggerford, Duke Dresden Greatshout. With her reputation for gathering information, he had hired her to find out what she could about the Shadowblades, a ruthless group of assassins whose murderous rampage dated back even before the Spellplague struck Toril over a century ago.

Daggerford overview gimp
What she found led her to travel east and seek out Zaachaeus De’Barronn and his brother Gaerd. They both lived in and ruled the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale. But before the Spellplague, Gomorrah learned that the two drow brothers had once lived in the Daggerford area, specifically somewhere in the Misty Forest. She suspected they may have had a secret hideout or hidden keep deep in the forest.

She also found information about an abandoned temple to a long dead god somewhere in the High Moor. She learned that the two drow brothers, along with others, had fought their way through the temple. Eventually, they met and fought Jericho Entreri, leader of the Shadowblades and the bastard son of the famous assassin, Artemis. Jericho was also Gomorrah’s great-grandfather, although it was well known that he sired many children during his forays across the Realms.

Everything Gomorrah knew about Jericho was only what she heard spoken about him in dark taverns and alleyways.

With the defeat of Jericho, it was widely believed the Shadowblades had disbanded and had fled to the four winds.

Or so it was thought.

Gomorrah also learned that after defeating Jericho, Zaachaeus and Gaerd had confronted and revealed the true identity of a black dragon named Nightwing who had taken on the guise of Duke Pwyll Greatshout’s trusted advisor. In an epic battle, which took place in the streets of Daggerford, the dragon was slain near the River Gate.

Gomorrah watched as Sgt. Carric dismounted and walked over to speak to another sergeant of the militia. Together the two walked over to examine the burnt remains on a wagon. Gomorrah couldn’t tell if the body was that of a human, elf, or half-elf so badly burned as it was.

Other members of the militia stood with weapons drawn and kept the crowd at a distance from the wagon and the burned-out building.

Gomorrah looked towards Gaerd who stood motionless next a mounted militiaman. Gaerd had pulled up his cowl when they entered Daggerford to avoid people gawking at him.

Gomorrah saw a commotion just beyond the wagon.

A cloaked man was jostling his way towards the two officers. After a short discussion, the man pulled back his cowl to reveal a human man with sharp features. The man then walked up to the burnt remains on the wagon and examined it. Moments later, the man spoke with the two officers again. The officers could be head thanking him as he walked back to his horse, mounted it and rode towards the direction of the Happy Cow tavern just a street away.

Carric walked back to the other soldiers and ordered them to return to the barracks while he and the others made their way to the Happy Cow Tavern.

Inside, the tavern looked like any other throughout the Realms. A human bartender kept busy behind the bar while two half-elven barmaids with ladened trays worked the straw-covered floor, hastily moving from table to table. Another woman, a strikingly voluptuous human, danced sensuously for the patrons enjoying their eveningfeast.

Gomorrah and Carric, who was now off-duty, took a seat at a vacant table near the bar, while Gaerd sat at the bar.

The cloaked man Gaerd saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant was also sitting at the bar near him.

Gaerd turned to the bartender and pulled back his cowl. He greeted the surprised bartender.

The room fell silent.

“I see the place has not changed since I last drank here,” Gaerd announced loud enough for everyone to hear. He turned and looked across the tavern. “After my brother Zaachaeus and I helped Daggerford and its people in her time of need over a century ago, we raised a toast here in celebration.”

“You and your brother’s exploits are well known to us all,” the bartender said.

Gaerd dropped platinum coins on the bar and ordered a round of drinks for everyone who then gave the drow a rousing cheer of gratitude. He then ordered a meal for his companions and him.

While everyone drank heartily, Gomorrah walked over and sat next to a lone patron who sat near the tavern’s front door. She struck up a conversation with him, then a short time later walked back to rejoin the others including Gaerd who was enjoying a bowl of thick soup.

“The man I was talking to is one of my contacts in this town,” Gomorrah said. She picked up a table knife and cut a slice of sausage for herself. “He said he saw strangers enter the Coffer’s Secret, a curio shop across from where Council Member Yeris was found burnt to death at his home hours later.”

“Do you trust your contact’s information for its accuracy?” Carric asked. He glanced over to where Gomorrah’s contact was sitting, but the man was nowhere to be seen.

“I do,” Gomorrah said. “He said three cloaked people entered the shop which was suppose to be closed since its gnome proprietor is said to be traveling in the Western Heartlands.”

“We should look into this then,” Gaerd said. “The Council Member’s mysterious death, along with the strangers’ proximity to his home cannot merely be a coincidence.”

“I agree,” Carric said. “We were about to question the owner of the Coffer’s Secret after he opened his shop. However, before we could, we got word that he left Daggerford for business reasons. That was nearly three tendays ago.”

After finishing their meal, Gaerd, Carric, and Gomorrah left the tavern and walked across the street where The Coffer’s Secret stood.

Ivan who had been watching the three since he entered the Happy Cow, followed soon after but kept a safe distance.

They entered the curio shop and were greeted by four men and a woman seated behind a small table. The shop contained racks upon racks of items, mostly trinkets and common charms.

Shadar kai witch
The woman was dressed in a lavish gown of dark velvet which did little to hide the myriads of tattoos, scarifications, and piercings which decorated her body. Her dark hair was tied in loose braids, while the men had elaborately shaved heads. Like the woman, the others had pallid skin, raven-black eyes, and markings over their exposed skins.

Unlike the woman, the men were armored in chainmail and armed with two katars each, dagger-like blades commonly found in the lands of eastern Faerûn.

Gaerd recognized them as shadar-kais, fey folks whose souls were poisoned by shadow. They were also known to pay homage to Kelemvor, god of death.

“We’re closed,” the woman said in an unwelcoming tone.

“The door was not locked,” Gaerd said.

“A mistake easily corrected. Now, if you’ll leave—”

“Our business here is not over,” Gaerd said. The others walked in behind him and started to fan out. The four shadar-kai warriors all raised their greatswords in a defensive manner. “I’m sure, this will just take a moment.”

The woman began to rise from her wooden chair. She turned to the others and ordered a command. “Kill them all!”

With a thought and a flick of his wrists, Gaerd’s weapons appeared in his hands. He leaped at the two nearest shader-kais warriors. One tried to deflect his blade only to have it pushed away with Gaerd’s sword. The drow quickly followed up by bringing his blade straight up, cutting the warrior’s arm deeply.

Not wasting another breath, Gaerd spun and sliced the warrior across his chest.

Img 2033
Bloodied, the warrior attacked Gaerd who easily parried the shader-kai’s blade.

Carric moved towards another warrior and stabbed at him with his short sword. The warrior blocked the sergeant’s blade and followed up with an attack of his own, slicing through Carric’s leather armor.

To Carric’s surprise, the warrior did something unexpected. Strands of shadows flowed out of the warrior’s katar and coiled around Carric and restrained him. Unable to move, Carric could only attack or defend himself against his deadly opponent.

Gommorah faced the fourth warrior, who suddenly vanished only to reappear behind her just outside the door. She turned and saw through the warrior, who stood insubstantial but visible to the fighter-rogue.

Gomorrah swung her blade only to have it pass through the warrior. It was like slicing through thick porridge. There was a slight resistance which caused some injury to the shadar-kai.

A magic missile struck the warrior.

Gomorrah spotted the same man she saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant. She also recalled seeing him in The Happy Cow tavern. A raven was perched on his shoulder.

Moments later, the shader-kai became solid again. Furious at the new attacker’s audacity, it turned and rushed at Ivan Moonshade who barely blocked the warrior’s onslaught.

Gomorrah moved to flank the shadar-kai striking. She struck it through the back. With an agonizing scream, the warrior fell and died.

With a nod, Gomorrah thanked Ivan for helping in the fight.

By the time Ivan and Gomorrah entered the Coffer’s Secret, three shadar-kais lay dead on the shop’s floor. Carric was wounded and was busy bandaging his wounds.

Gaerd said the female shadar-kai vanished as soon as the fight started.

The group then carefully searched the shop and found a trapdoor in the shop’s storage room. After opening it, they found an iron ladder leading down into the sewers. Rather than investigate, everyone decided it would be best to let Carric recover first.

It was then that a group of town militiamen arrived at the shop. A dwarf with broad chest and square-set jaws entered the shop. Carric immediately recognized him as Sir Kindel Stronghart, the duke’s master at arms and commander of Daggerford’s militia. Carric knew full well the dwarf’s dislike for anyone who didn’t hail from Daggerford.

The dwarf’s disparaging glare towards the seated drow spoke volumes about how the master at arms was feeling at the moment.

“I heard there was a drow in Daggerford,” Sir Kindel spat. “I had to see it with my own eyes.”

“And you are…?” Gaerd asked. He shifted his boots on the small table he had propped them up on. He remained seated. He then took a small cloth he found and wiped a spot on his boot where shadar-kai blood threatened to stain it.

“His Grace’s master at arms,” Sir Kindel said with obvious disdain for Gaerd’s presence. “Your lack of respect, clearly demonstrated in how you do not rise to greet me, does not surprise me, drow. You know, I could have you thrown out of Daggerford…or worse.”

Gaerd looked at the dwarf for a few breaths but didn’t move. “I would like to see you try. And your lack of respect for someone who helped save this town speaks as much about you as well. If it weren’t for my brother and I, you wouldn’t be enjoying your auspicious position, nor would your Grace for that matter.”

From where Gaerd sat, he could see Sir Kindel turning red in anger who then turned to face Carric. “Sergeant, I want you to personally see to it that this drow never leaves your sight. I, for one, have not ruled him out as a possible suspect in the murders of the town’s Council of Guild members.”

Carric nodded.

Derval ironeater
Just then, the door opened. Another dwarf, this one much older but just as muscular entered. Gaerd immediately recognized him as Derval Ironeater, the town’s most skilled dwarven blacksmith. He recalled how he and Zaachaeus had conducted business at Derval’s shop many times during the course of their adventures in the Daggerford region.

Derval walked past Sir Kindel and took Gaerd’s hand and clasped his hands up to Gaerd’s wrist in the manner warriors greet one another. “I thought it was you I was hearin’ about all over town,” Derval said.

“It’s been some time, but it’s good to see you again old friend.” Gaerd said.

“How fares your brother?”

“He’s fine. Busy ruling the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale.”

“Good to hear he’s alive and well. And I can relate to how busy leading a town can be.”

Gaerd looked at him quizzically.

Carric stepped up next to the aged dwarven smith. “What Derval Ironeater means is that he’s the only unmasked member in the Council of Guilds, and as such openly leads the other exulted members.”

“Well, it seems my brother isn’t the only one who has risen in his station,” Geard said respectfully.

“Bah,” Derval said. “It’s not as glorious as you’d think, especially with the recent events.”

“Speaking of which,” Gaerd said. “Aren’t you worried about your own safety?”

Derval shrugged his shoulders. “If Moradin sees fit to bring me back home to his grand halls then so be it. But damn them to the Nine Hells if I’m going to be frightened into hiding under a rock like some gutless goblin.”

Sir Kindel coughed.

“Ah, Sir Kindel,” Derval said turning to face the master at arms. “I had forgotten you were there.”

Before Sir Kindel could speak, Derval cut him off. “It comforts me knowing that Gaerd here is helping solve this mystery of ours. A more brave and trustworthy drow you’ll never find in all of Toril. I expect that you’ll be giving him all the support he needs to help put a stop to these foul murders once and for all.”

“I’ve ordered Sergeant Carric to watch…er…I mean aid Gaerd in the investigation,” Sir Kindel said. “I’ve also ordered the gates closed until we find the killer or killers responsible. I’ve posted militiamen by the sewer’s river exit. No one is allowed to leave Daggerford. Archers have orders to shoot anyone trying.”

“Good to hear,” Derval said. “These precautions are unfortunate but necessary. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting to attend to in the River Shining with the other members.”

“I will personally accompany you to the tavern,” Sir Kindel said.

“Good. You can then address the Council of Guilds as to the progress you’ve been making in this investigation. As you know, many folks in town are turning suspicious eyes towards His Grace. For centuries, it’s well known the dukes of Daggerford and the Council of Guilds have always been at odds over rulership of Daggerford and its commonwealth in matters of trade. If these murders are not stopped, I’m afraid there could be an uprising against His Grace that could plunge Daggerford into a bloody civil war.”

With that said, Derval Ironeater and Sir Kindel Stronghart, along with Carric who returned to the barracks to recover, left the shop.

While the militia helped clean up the shop of bodies, Gaerd, Ivan, and Gomorrah decided to remain at the shop to make sure no one entered through the trap door they had found.

There, they would wait until the next day when Sergeant Carric returned.


The adventure continues in “Underworld”.


Heroes:

Gaerd De’barronn, Sgt. Carric of Daggerford, Ivan Moonshade

Companions & NPCs:

Gomorrah Entreri

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"A Gift Fit For a King"
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

20 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The four adventurers from Bear’s Head made their way deeper into the Shallows of the Underdark, eventually finding themselves directly beneath the town from which they came from.

“How deep are we?” Kursk asked Think, the group’s tinkerer.

“We are approximately five hundred and thirty-two feet, according to the striations on these walls,” Tink said pointing to the tunnel’s walls.

“I agree with the tinkerer,” Quinn added. “I’ve studied a thing or two about dungeoneering, and we are deep indeed. I’d say we’re right below the lake.”

“What’s that sound?” Skamus asked as he quietly walked ahead of the others. The wide tunnel led downward and turned sharply to the right. The tiefling stopped and peeked around the corner. He then raised his finger to his mouth to signal the others to be quiet, while waiving for them to come towards him.

Beyond, the tunnel opened into a vast cavern brightly lit by torches and large patches of glowing moss and fungi which seemed to cover much of the cavern’s rough walls.

The sound of chiseling and hammering can also be heard echoing throughout the cavern. Over a dozen dwarves were busy working in the cavern. Hammering or chiseling away at the walls or rocks. All seemed busy at work collecting crystals that seemed to grow in abundance in the cavern.

At the tunnel’s end, the group saw a lone dwarf dressed in leather armor. The dwarf’s skin was ashen gray, while his beard and hair were bone white and spiky. The dwarf had a warhammer slung over its shoulder as he paced back and forth.

It was clear he was guarding the tunnel.

“I have an idea.” Tink whispered as she urged the others to quietly moved back down the tunnel.


**

The duergar turned to gaze down the tunnel. With his darkvision, he noticed a small four-legged creature unfamiliar to him. It was covered in fur and wore a collar around its neck.

The duergar looked back over his shoulder at the cavern where the dwarven slaves were busy at work. Unfortunately, the nearest guard he could call upon was too far away.

Despite having been ordered to stay alert, the duergar’s curiosity got the better of him. Gripping the warhammer tightly in both hands, the duergar walked into the tunnel towards the strange animal.


To be continued…


Adventurers:

Kursk, Skamus, and Quinn

NPC:

Tink

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"Steading of the Hill Giant Chief", Part 1
Against the Giants (Sunset Mountains)

25 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Far Hills, Sunset Vale


The massive iron doors opened into the grand hall of Farsten Hammerfist, clanlord of the Hammerfist Dwarves.

His council of advisors stood nearby as the heroes were welcomed into the hall. As the heroes came to stand before Farsten Hammerfist, the council members bowed respectfully to the assembled heroes from Bear’s Head. For indeed, the dwarves of Hammerfist Hall owed much to those from the town in the Western Vale. It was not that long ago that another group of heroes from Bear’s Head fought bravely against the forces of the Winter Witch who had imprisoned the clanlord and countless other dwarves in her icy embrace, while she forced others to work in the mines.

Thanks to those brave heroes, the Winter Witch was slain and would never threaten the Sunset Mountains again.

And now, something entirely new threatens the short-lived peace in the Sunset Mountains and perhaps even those who call the Sunset Vale, home.

It seemed giants have returned to their ancestral lands in the Far Hills and the southern Sunset Mountains. To make matters worse, hill, stone, frost, and fire giants have seemingly banded together for a common cause. The Hammerfist dwarves fear that the giants may be planning to strike against the dwarves and may even launch an attack against the civilized folks of the Sunset Vale.

Farsten hammerfist

Clanlord Farsten Hammerfist has asked the heroes of Bear’s Head for help. He believes the hill giants, stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. He asked them to look for a map or some other clue that will reveal where these strongholds are located. He and his council have also wondered how the hill giants could have gained in strength and power so quickly since their recent arrival. He suspects that the hill giants may have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. He further asks the heroes to find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of their discovery.

Finally, the hill giants have captured several dwarves who were sent to scout the Far Hills and eventually meet with the Cormyrians in New Hluthvar. The dwarves had not returned at their appointed time, so the Clanlord sent a search party to locate the missing dwarves. The search party returned and reported that the dwarves had made it to the Far Hills and had obviously ran into a group of giants and their hireling—as the signs they discovered indicated. However, they did not find any of their lost kin leading them to believe that the dwarves had been captured. When they followed the trail deeper into the Far Hills, they met up with a small band of hill giants and ogres. The dwarves lost half of their group before they were forced to return to Hammerfist Hall.

Farsten offered the heroes the sum of five hundred gold coins for each dwarf brought back home safely.

The heroes then gathered their belongings and made their way down the mountain towards the Far Trail that led southwest to New Hluthvar and northeast towards Castle Aris in Cormyr.

**

A grisly sight greeted the heroes as they came upon the trail late in the afternoon.

They saw two upturned wagons in the middle of the trail. Casks and crates littered the area as well as several bodies of slain caravan guards, their bodies left to rot where they were killed. A lone horse lay dead in front of the closest wagon. Strangely, the other horses were missing.

Flies buzzed around the area and the foul smell of decomposing bodies made it hard to breathe.

Carefully, the group made their way towards the wagon. Caldreas kept to the northern side of the trail while the others stayed along the southern end. As the wizard reached the safety of a tree, he spotted something large hiding behind a tree just passed the ambushed caravan.

He pointed towards the tree and called to the others. “There’s someone behind that tree!” Caldreas warned.

Just then, two hill giants followed by eight bugbears charged down the trail from behind where the trail turned and was obscured by thick bushes and a copse of trees.

Only Caldreas understood the giant’s command who was hiding behind a tree above the trail.

Hill giant 2

“Kill them all!” it bellowed in the language of giants. “Spare no one!” It then hurled a rock at Lo-kag, but the rock fell short of its intended target. Lo-kag realized the giant’s throwing range was limited. Unfortunately, he also realized that he would have to risk getting struck by a rock if he was going to get in close and fight with his melee weapon.

Therand moved in and took cover behind a large bush. He spotted the giant who just bellowed out something that sounded like a command. He fired and struck the giant in the arm.

The giant yelled in pain as Therand’s arrow struck deep. The giant suddenly screamed again as a second arrow buried itself in the giant’s shoulder.

Therand looked at where the second shot had come from. From across the trail, he spotted Dred who had just taken his shot at the giant as well. Both looked at each other, momentarily celebrating their skills in accuracy.

A cacophonous cry of eight bugbears charging towards the adventurers from Bear’s Head suddenly tore through the air.

“Here they come!” Caldreas yelled above the din of the bugbears’ charge. The moon elf mage began to recite words of power and moved his hands in a circular fashion. Within a breath’s passing, a small pinpoint of light appeared within the mage’s moving hands. The pinpoint of light became a small floating wisp of fire which then suddenly blossomed into a roaring ball of fire that brightly illuminated the mage and the surrounding area. Uttering a final magic word, Caldreas hurled the fireball towards the charging monsters where it exploded upon reaching the precise spot the mage focused upon.

An intense conflagration blasted outward. Several bugbears and one giant caught in the fireball’s blast screamed as magical fire—born from the depths of the elemental plane of fire itself—washed over all unfortunate enough to be caught in the firestorm.

When the smoke cleared, Caldreas saw that four bugbears had been killed, their charred remains were all that was left. The giant managed to survive the blast but was severely wounded in the attack.

Lo-kag, taking advantage of the giant’s condition, charged right in and buried his greataxe into its stomach. The giant looked down upon the goliath and let out a fearsome roar.

Lo-kag, too, roared a barbarian’s roar. With a powerful tug, he pulled his weapon free. He then spun and brought the greataxe to bear upon the giant’s exposed belly once more. Blood and innards burst outward as Lo-kag sliced the giant’s stomach wide open. Blood, mixed with innards, flowed out. The giant, too stupid to know he was already dead, looked at Lo-kag defiantly.

Lo-kag saw the giant’s eyes roll back into its head. It then fell back, dead before it had even struck the ground.

A nearby grunt stole the goliath barbarian’s attention momentarily away from the dead giant before him. A bugbear was coming at him, its spear leading the attack.

It never reached Lo-kag.

An arrow’s point suddenly appeared out of its forehead. The bugbear fell forward, twitched once by Lo-kag’s feet then died. Lo-kag looked past the bugbear and saw Therand, the ranger, nocking another arrow a great distance away.

Lo-kag heard a loud grunt behind him. He turned and saw the hill giant standing behind the tree above the trail raise a rock above his head. The giant took a step forward and was about to hurl the deadly missile when he faltered in his step. In his attempt to steady himself, the giant dropped the rock and bellowed what sounded to the goliath like a foul-mouthed giant’s curse.

Before the giant could recover, an arrow fired by Dred suddenly buried itself in the giant’s right eye! It roared in excruciating pain, reached up to its face and yanked the arrow out. It screamed even louder and threw the blood-soaked arrow to the ground.

A bugbear moved up to Lo-kag and tried to stab him with its spear. The goliath easily deflected the sttack while avoiding another bugbear’s spear-led charge.

Caldreas, who was watching Lo-kag fend off two bugbears by himself, raised his arm, pointed a finger at one of the humanoids, and uttered a single word.

A glowing missile materialized on the tip of the mage’s finger and flew unerringly at the unsuspecting bugbear. It struck the bugbear in the head, killing it instantly.

Lo-kag, ignoring the remaining bugbear who attempted to strike him, charged at the nearest giant. A second giant was moving towards the goliath barbarian as well. Two of ’em, against me, Lo-kag thought. I like these odds!

The nearest of the two hill giants—the one with the injured eye—brought its massive club down on Lo-kag who easily sidestepped it. Chunks of dirt and rocks blasted upward and outward from the club’s impact.

Lo-kag had just managed to clear dirt from his face when he was struck by the other giant’s club—a tree trunk with sharpened limbs and banded with metal.

The goliath was sent hurtling backwards to land on the ground, on his back, some ten feet away!

Dred, maintaining his distance from the deadly battle between giants, bugbear, and goliath, took aim and fired at the giant he struck earlier.

The giant screamed once again as Dred’s arrow struck the giant, this time near its remaining good eye.

Meanwhle, Deb the halfling ranger, had arrived to see his friends fighting a battle against hill giants and bugbears. He had volunteered to reconnoiter the lands east of the Western Sunset Vale when the others left Bear’s Head to answer the Clanlord’s summon for help. While scouting, he ran into a small band of adventurers on their way to Elturgard after having stopped by the town of Asbravn. The adventurers spoke of how Asbravn—recently dubbed “Asgraven” because of the hordes of undead that had occupied the town—had been freed by a skilled and powerful group of adventurers who called themselves Faerûn’s Fantastic Four. Deb also learned that Faerûn’s Fantastic Four had established themselves as the town’s leaders, and were helping to restore the town.

The halfling raised his bow and took two shots at a giant, hoping to help end the battle.

Caldreas finished casting another spell and directed it one of the two giants fighting Lo-kag. In the giant’s mind, an illusion of its greatest fear took form and attacked it. To all others, it looked like the giant was battling some unseen foe.

Lo-kag, still on the ground, reached into his backpack and drew out a potion of vitality and drank it. The pain in his chest, caused by broken ribs he was certain, began to fade.

He saw one of the remaining bugbears rush towards Caldreas. The mage took a few steps back and casted another spell. Caldreas sent a magic missile slamming into the bugbear’s chest, which surprisingly did not kill it. Caldreas quickly called to mind another deadly missile which struck the bugbear full force in the face and then exited out through the back of its skull.

“Nice work, Caldreas,” Therand yelled to the mage. He then aimed his bow at the remaining bugbear who stood by the fallen wagon. It seemed to be contemplating whether or not it shold run. Therand quickly put an end to all thoughts of escaping by burying an arrow into its chest. It slumped against the wagon and slid down to the ground where it died seconds later.

The ranger then ran to the wagon and looked towards where Lo-kag was busy fighting for his life against three hill giants intent on crushing him under their mighty clubs.

Deb shot one of the giants, his well-placed shot ensuring that Lo-kag would not be struck by accident instead. It screamed in pain and tried to reach behind to dislodge the arrow stuck in its back.

Lo-kag, while still on the ground, found himself surrounded by three hill giants. He hefted his greataxe and struck at a giant’s knee, which shattered on impact. The giant howled in pain then struck the goliath with its club, causing Lo-kag’s legs to almost buckle from the tremendous force of the attack.

Lo-kag was covered in his own blood and it felt like every bone and muscle in his body was on fire.

Dred ran over to where Therand stood. “Lo-kag’s not going to make it if we don’t kill those giants fast,” he said. He let loose two arrows—one after the other. One arrow struck a giant in the eye, while the second arrow struck it in the leg. The giant howled in pain as it clutched its eye. Its leg also gave way, causing the giant to fall on one knee.

Deb and Therand both shot at the giants, their arrows striking true.

The giants, although badly wounded stil had fight left in them.

Grunting in pain, one of the giants raised its club and brought it straight down at Lo-kag. The impact forced the goliath to the ground.

Darkness swept over Lo-kag as he fell to the ground.

Dred saw the barbarian drop. He quickly ran over to help his fallen comrade, careful to avoid the giants’ deadly reach.

When he reached Lo-kag, Dred touched him by the arm and called upon primal powers which then accessed the deepest reserves of strength still beating within the unconscious goliath.

Lo-kag’s body suddenly heaved as his body fought to regain consciousness.

He opened his eyes. He saw Dred kneeling over him and heard the dwarf offer words of thanks to his dwarven gods. “You won’t be dying today, friend,” Dred said.

“No,” Lo-kag gritted as he spat out blood. “But these giant will.”

Both looked up and saw the three giants standing nearby. Though severely wounded, all three were still very much alive and no less dangerous.

Suddenly, a crackling clap of thunder reverberated through the area. Both Lo-kag and Dred were forced to shield their eyes from the nearly blinding light that briefly lit the surrounding trail.

A powerful bolt of lighting, unleashed by Caldreas bore down on all three giants. Two were struck while a third was fortunate enough to miss the bolt’s deadly effects.

When it was over, one giant lay dead on ground. Smoke curled up from its still form. A second stood badly wounded with burnt marks covering most of its body.

Lo-kag quickly got up, uttered a war cry and charged at the wounded giant. His greataxe buried itself deep into the giants’s leg. The giant screamed as blood poured out of the gaping wound. It then toppled, dead, to the ground.

Dred raised his crossbow and aimed it at the remaining giant who decided to run rather than fight. His shot took the giant in the leg. The giant’s leg collapsed and he fell to the ground, howling in pain as he tried to pull the bolt from out of his leg.

Deb, seeing the the giant fall to the ground, took aim and fired two arrows at it. Both arrows found their target, killing it instantly.

**

With the battle won, the group gathered themselves together. Lo-kag did what he could to bandage his wounds while the others searched the area.

In the wreckage of the wagon, they found a silk handkerchief with the initials, “ZC”, embroidered with gold letters. Everyone but Deb recalled Kira, the innkeeper of Bear’s Head Inn, asking them to travel to New Hluthvar to find out what may have happened to her Cormyrean merchant friend Zandor Caskerhill. Caskerhill had paid a wizard to cast a spell, and delivered a message to Kira announcing his intention to visit her soon. Kira became worried when Caskerhill had not arrived at the appointed day he said he would.

Since Caskerhill’s body was nowhere to be found, the group suspected he may have been taken prisoner, like the dwarves from Hammerfist Hall.

On the giants they found a necklace of animal fangs, a carved wooden idol which resembled some unknown figure, a half empty cask of ale, and necklace of mummified fingers.

Close examination revealed that the fingers were dwarven fingers.

“I’ve found tracks,” Deb said as he kneeled at a spot near where the first giant was spotted. Everyone moved to where Deb stood and looked towards the direction the halfling was pointing. “They came from the southeast.”

“Are they the ones who attacked the caravan?” Caldreas asked.

“No,” Deb said. “Their tracks are newer than the others in the area.”

“Deb’s right,” Therand said. He was also examining the area for signs that would reveal where the missing horses, supplies, and others from the caravan went. “These three giants and the bugbears who came with them arrived recently.”

“Aye, but there’s other tracks here as well,” Dred added. The dwarven ranger from Hammerfist Hall stood up after carefully inspecting the ground a short distance away from the others. “Two groups of giants and their hirelings came through here, yet all came from the same direction.”

“Then let’s see where they came from,” Deb said. He stood and started to walk southeast, deeper into the Far Hills.


The epic adventure continues in “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief”, Part 2


The Company of the Siren’s Song:

Caldreas, Lo-kag, Therand, Deb, Dred

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"Skaug"
Damagers Guild Story Arc

23 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The pirate ship, Red Dwarf, dropped anchor within sight of the port town of Skaug.

Four days had passed since the Red Dwarf’s previous captain was slain by Abyss. Under new command, the ship and her crew set sailed for the pirate town of Skaug in the Nelanther Isles. A storm struck along the way. Despite the crew’s skillful attempt, the Red Dwarf had sustained some damage to her hull and rigging.

When they reached Skaug, Abyss and his fellow travelers learned that Skaug was a rough-and-tumble port that welcomed pirates of every stripe, and actively discouraged bounty hunters and others who threaten the flow of grog and coin. Above all, lawless Skaug was a good place to fill a ship with scurvy seadogs who value plunder over all else.

Skaug

“There is much we can learn here,” Salil said. He stood on the ship’s deck and looked out on the pirate town. Ships of varying sizes were anchored in the wide bay. The cacophony of seagulls mixed in with the sounds of ships’ crews and dockworkers reminded Salil of his days back in Baldur’s Gate.

“What do you mean?” Lyrica asked. The bard—a changeling like Salil—stood next to the rogue. She inhaled deeply the salty late-afternoon sea air.

“A place like this holds many secrets; secrets we can use to our advantage”

“If only one knows where to look for it.”

“Indeed.”

“Lyrica, Salil,” a gruff voice announced from behind them. Both turned to see Brogan approach followed by Ronak the paladin, and Damascus, cleric of Oghma. Brogan was dressed like a wealthy shield dwarf merchant. “We need to consider our next course of action.”

“Lyrica and I were just discussing that,” Salil said.

“I have an idea,” Lyrica offered. “I’m going to Skaug to see what I can find out about the Damagers Guild and their dealings here.”

“I should go with you,” Salil said. “We can find out more if there were two of us asking questions.”

“That’s a reason why I should go alone,” Lyrica countered. “Pirates tend to be suspicious of strangers and too many people asking questions or skulking about. It would be best if I were on my own.”

“That’s fine lass,” Brogan said. “We’ll tell Abyss of your plan and see you upon your return.”

“Where is Abyss anyway?” Salil asked looking around the deck. Abyss was nowhere to be found.

“He’s been busy talking to his officers ever since we arrived.” Ronak said. “We’ll tell him of our plan as soon as we can gain an audience with the captain.”

**

Nearly two hours later, a small skiff carrying Lyrica pulled up alongside the Red Dwarf. The sun was just setting, which set the sky ablaze with fiery colors.

As soon as she was onboard, the changeling bard quickly made her way to the captain’s quarters where she was told the others were waiting.

“Well met,” Abyss greeted Lyrica. “It’s good to see you back safely onboard.”

“Thank you Captain,” she replied with emphasis on the last word.

“What did you learn?” Damascus asked. He quickly took out a small book and writing implement.

“Plenty,” Lyrica said. “For one, the Damagers Guild is here in Skaug.”

Everyone looked at one another.

Lyrica went on. “A human named Lanador owns a smuggler’s warehouse at the edge of town. From what I’ve gathered, Lanador employs minotaurs as guards and is currently entertaining several members of the Damagers Guild.”

“Is he with the Guild?” Damascus asked.

“Not according to what I’ve heard,” Lyrica added. “They’re led by someone named Torch. I couldn’t find out who or what Torch is. No one seems to know much about him.”

“So we take out Lanador, Torch and any other members of the Damagers Guild we run into,” Ronak said. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Not so fast,” Lyrica warned.

“Sounds like there’s more to tell,” Brogan said casting an amusing smile at Lyrica.

The bard gave him a wink. “Indeed there is. Apparently Lanador is also awaiting the arrival of a drow wizard for whom he has gathered elf slaves to sell.”

“Drows?” Salil asked? “What are drows doing here in Skaug?”

“Maybe they’re just buying slaves,” Damascus said.

“Or there could be more involved than just purchasing slaves,” Brogan added. “This is worth looking into.”

“I agree,” Lyrica said. “We need to find out more about the drows’ involvement with Lanador and the Damagers Guild.”

“But we need to do so without scaring off the drow wizard and whomever he’s traveling with,” Damascus warned.

**

After they had carefully made their plans, everyone boarded a skiff and made their way to Skaug.

At the docks, they met a harbormaster and negotiated payments for the Cottonmouth and Red Dwarf’s dock fees. Soon after, they went to the local tavern, The Murky Grog.

The tavern’s interior resembled the inside of a ship. Patrons sat on kegs converted into make-shift chairs. Barrels tied together and topped with a large piece of round wood served as tables. Windows were cut to look like portholes while dozens of candles placed on top of old helms wheels hung from the ceiling offered dim lighting; enough to see by but also gave the tavern a shadowy demeanor.

The tavern’s master, Florus, an old half-elf with gray thinning hair worked behind the bar. He and another half-elf, a middle-aged female, were the only two people busy serving everyone.

Two locals were quietly enjoying bowls of chowder and drinking locally brewed beer. At the edge of the bar, a man sat lost in thought, his food barely touched. His clothing suggested he may have been a merchant.

Salil got up and walked over to the merchant.

“What troubles you goodman?” Salil asked as he took a seat next to the merchant. Salil noticed his eyes were red and his face wet with tears.

“My business is of no concern to you.”

“Perhaps I can be of help. My friends and I recently arrived. Like you, we are also merchants looking to sell goods here in Skaug.”

The merchant looked at Salil and back at the others who were busy talking and eating at their table. “What I am in need of are swords for hire or adventurers.” He took a long drink from his mug of beer.

“Why would you need the likes of them?” Salil asked.

“My warehouse was taken from me by thugs employed by the Damagers Guild.”

“What happened?”

“They were extorting money from me and I fell behind on my payments.”

“How much did you owe?”

“Five hundred gold; a sum I recently paid off. But they claimed the payment came too late, so they seized my warehouse.”

“Well friend, let me see what I can do. Perhaps my friends know people who can be of service to you.” Salil said. He left the depressed merchant to rejoin the others.

After telling the others of the merchant’s plight, Brogan slapped the table and yelled loud enough to be heard by all, “We don’t do business with people who can’t handle their own affairs. We’re slavers, not mercenaries!”

At that, the merchant rose from his place at the bar and left the room. “You’re all a cowardly lot, you are. To the Hells with you!”


To be continued…


Player Characters:

Salil Bok, Ronak Tripp, Abyss, Brogan

Non-player Characters:

Lyrica Osbourne, Damascus of Candlekeep

View
"Quest for Fire" Part 2
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 28, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The sun’s oppressive heat beat down on the four travelers as they made their way across the hot Netherese desert. For nearly a day, the group had been traveling east. According to Lo-ghath, the goliath they were traveling with, it would be another day before they reached the desert fort where Oathem was holding Kelek, Quan’s son.

Vaarduun
Sudenly, from the east, the group heard an elemental roar, like that of a powerful blast of air. They saw a huge twenty-foot high, fifteen-foot-wide funnel of swirling air and sand cut a swath across the top of large dune less than a hundred feet from where they stood. Like a thing driven by an unseen force, the funnel turned north, then suddenly switched direction.

Everyone watched as the cyclone bellowed an elemental roar, then bore down towards them.

“By the gods,” Lo-ghath the goliath thug yelled above the cyclone’s deafening roar. “It’s Vaarduun!”

“Who or what is Vaarduun?” Caldreas asked out loud as he gripped his magical staff tighter in his hands.

“It’s an elder dust devil,” Lo-ghath yelled with fear in his voice. “It’s said that a powerful wizard from Rasilith summoned that elemental years ago. In a rage, it broke free of its magical bonds, slew its summoner, and fled into the desert. The stories told say that the thing has gone mad and has left a path of destruction in its wake.”

Lo-kag, the goliath barbarian raised his weapon and turned to face the oncoming dust devil. “And so have we.”

To be continued…


Adventurers:

Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

View
"Enter Valin and Talaer"
Dungeon Games Side Arc

Day 3


Valin looked at the elf seated across the room from him. Armored and armed with scimitars, the elf was beginning to wake up. Like him, the elf was seated upon the stone floor and leaned with his back to the wall.

Only fifteen feet separated the two dungeoneers.

Valin’s instincts were warning him, but his limbs were not responding fast enough.

The elf wrapped his hands around the hilt of his scimitars and slowly began to stand. Valin, his muscles fighting his will to stand, managed to do so using his warhammer as a make-shift cane.

“I have no quarrel with you,” the elf said as he brushed back his long hair to reveal a face with aquiline features. Even Valin, a dwarf who knew no love for the race of elves, noticed an air of confidence about the elf.

“And I have none with you,” Valin said.

“I’m glad we resolved that potential misunderstanding,” the elf said with a touch of sarcasm. “My name is Talaer Greydawn, a tracker in Her Majesty’s service. Do you know what or where this place is? How I got here is not clear to me. As a recall, I and another ranger were investigating a secret underground passage we found in the woods along the kingdom’s northeast border. I do not remember much more beyond that.”

“And I am Valin.” The dwarf looked around the room. Four torches in sconces lit the room brightly. Against one wall stood a statue of a white-robed bearded human man with arms outstretched in greeting. He also noted three passages leading out of the room—perhaps to the south. For some strange reason, he was finding it difficult to judge the cardinal directions and depth while in the room. He wondered if some ritual had been placed in the room that prevented him from using his natural dwarven instincts. “I’m not sure, but this place looks different from the last place I—.”

Talaer quickly put his finger to his lips to signal the dwarf to be quiet. From somewhere nearby, the elven ranger heard what sounded like someone dropping a pebble or small rock on the stone floor. He turned his head in the direction where he heard the sound come from. For several seconds, he kept still and signaled for the dwarf to do the same.

Talaer cautiously moved towards one of the passages and peered around the corner. A room, cloaked in dim light, lay beyond. He suspected someone—or something may be nearby—so he was ready for anything. Immediately, he noticed a short figure hiding in the shadows a short distance away. What appeared to be a sling was being spun in the figure’s hand.

The ranger charged into the room.

He was met by a halfling dressed in leather armor. An adventurer’s pack hung from his back while a sling was clearly visible in his hand. A dagger was also sheathed at the slinger’s waist. The halfling quickly spun his sling and let loose a bullet that zipped past Talaer striking the wall somewhere behind him.

Suddenly, two more halflings equally dressed and armed rushed into the room from a nearby exit. One of them quickly climbed down a short four-foot wall that offered a view of a large hallway beyond. The hallway was lit by a large square “well”, its water glowing a bright teal.

Two more bullets shot past Talaer.

Talaer prevented the halflings from using their slings by moving into their midst, purposely surrounding himself. As he moved past two of them, they tried to hit him with their slings using them as makeshift saps. He easily dodged the attacks while striking one just under his arm.

Halflings
Their slings useless in close quarters, the halflings dropped their slings and drew out their daggers. One stabbed at the ranger who easily sidestepped the feeble attack. Another quickly followed barely missing Talaer’s leg.

Talaer, still surprised that halflings whose kind were not commonly known to be so violent, swung his scimitar in a wide arc that sliced through leather and flesh. The halfling screamed in pain but survived the attack. Talaer then turned on his heel, spinning to strike at another halfling.

Valin meanwhile had heard the sounds of battle and rushed in after Talaer. He moved up to the nearest halfling whose chest was covered in blood and brought his warhammer down with a sickening crunch to the halfling’s head. The halfling dropped to the floor lifeless.

Another dagger thrust forced the ranger to step back. Talaer turned his own blade sideways, slapping the halfling’s arm away. He followed up with an upward slice that all but took the halfling’s arm off. The halfling fell to the floor screaming in agony. He writhed for a few seconds then died.

The ranger turned to the remaining halfling. “Put down your weapon!” he commanded.

The halfling took a careful step back.

“I’d listen to the elf,” Valin said. For added emphasis, the dwarf pointed his warhammer at the halfling whose eyes grew wide at the sight of his former companion’s blood, skull fragments, and brain matter still stuck to the dwarf’s weapon.

“You two must have the key,” the halfling half-whispered through clenched teeth. “The voice said you two would get me the key.”

“You should put that dagger away,” Talaer said. “Maybe we can help each other escape this place. What else did the voice tell you?”

“I don’t need your help!” the halfling yelled back. “I’ll find my own way out of here.”

“Suit yourself,” Talaer said with finality. He lowered his blade and waved the halfling to leave.

The halfling then turned around and quickly disappeared from view around a few corners and passageways.

“I’m sure we’ll be running into that one soon enough,” Valin pointed out.

“So where exactly are we?” Talaer asked as he began rummaging through the halfling’s accoutrements.

“I don’t know,” Valin said as he searched the other dead halfling for anything useful. He held up a sun rod he found. He then placed it in his own backpack. “I woke up in this cursed dungeon with very little memory of where I hail from. I know my name, my profession and skills, but not much else.”

“So, we’re in some dungeon—Larethian knows where—brought here against our will. For what reason?”

Valin dropped the halfling’s backpack on the floor. “That’s what we need to find out.”

“May as well search this place then.” Talaer said. He fixed his backpack and with scimitars in his hands, left the room for the hallway he saw earlier.

The hallway they stood in was fairly wide. Two wells with glowing water sat in the middle of the hallway. At the far end of the hallway, they saw the small body of the halfling encountered earlier. The halfling was lying facedown on the floor. “Told you we’d run into that halfling soon enough,” Valin remarked.

They also spotted a shimmering curtain of blue blocking the entryway into a small room. Inside the room, they saw a large golden key sitting on a pile of wooden debris. When Talaer touched the shimmering curtain with his scimitar, he felt a wave of force vibrate uncomfortably through his arm. Valin, meanwhile, tossed the body of a halfling he had dragged from the other room straight at the wall of force. The body bounced off like a rag doll.

To test the well and its glowing water, Talaer then dunked the halfling’s body in it. Nothing happened so they deemed the water safe…for the moment.

As one they both suddenly turned in the direction of a sound that was familiar to the dwarven battlemind. They heard a buzzing sound grow louder with each passing second.

“I know that sound,” Valin said as he gripped his warhammer tighter. “Ready yourself!”

Stirge   lars grant west
From the end of the hallway, the two spotted three small creatures fly into view. About the size of housecats, each had two sets of bat-like wings and four wicked claws ending in pincers. Each also had a nightmarishly long proboscis protruding out of their heads.

With a loud buzz each one flew straight for the two dungeoneers. Valin easily batted one that threatened to stab him right in the neck. Another one however clawed into his leg. He felt a sharp pain as it drove its dagger-like proboscis into his leg. “Damn these wretched mosquitoes!” the dwarf bellowed in half rage and half pain.

“They’re not mosquitoes,” Talaer corrected. "They’re commonly known as stirges, bloodthirsty beasts that can clamp onto their victims and drain their blood. We’re lucky there’s only three of them. Usually they travel in “storms” of fourteen or more."

One flew at the elf. Talaer tried to swat it with his scimitar but managed to only anger it. It’s buzzing grew louder as it weaved to the right then drove its proboscis into the elf’s arm. He let loose a cry of pain that caused the dwarf to laugh despite his injury.

“Feeling lucky now?” Valin asked sarcastically.

The dwarven Battlemind then took a deep breath and began focusing his thoughts. He cleared his mind of everything and looked at the stirge attached to his leg. As a Battlemind, he was a warrior of thought and action, able to fight any foe with the combat skill of a fighter. But it was his mind that served as his ultimate weapon and armor. With his psionic abilities, Valin could tear through an opponent’s mind channeling his pain into counterstrikes that could leave even the strongest enemy reeling.

The stirge suddenly felt a mental command that had to be followed. It pulled its proboscis out of Valin’s leg which caused the dwarf to let out a grunt of pain. It then let go of the dwarf’s leg and flew at the other stirge buzzing around him and attacked it. The other stirge however was quick and darted out of range buzzing angrily at its mate.

Talaer meanwhile felt a new surge of pain as he felt the stirge attached to his arm suck out what felt like all the blood that his body had. Grunting in pain, he wedged his scimitar between the stirge and his arm tearing the thing off of him. It nearly fell to the floor but flapped its leathery wings and came at him again.

Nearby, Valin took advantage of the two stirge fighting each other. He swung his warhammer and connected with the stirge he just mentally commanded to attack the other stirge. It crumpled to the floor, dead. The other tried to attack the dwarf and missed, unable to find an opening in the dwarf’s scaled armor. The dwarf quickly followed with his warhammer sending it hurtling against a nearby wall where it exploded on impact.

The elven ranger dodged the stirge’s attack. He quickly sliced at the creature hovering in front of his face, cleaving it in half. Blood—some of it his own—sprayed outward from the stirge and covered Talaer.

The two dungeoneers were tired but considered themselves fortunate to have survived the stirges’ attacks.

“Three was enough,” Talaer said. "I hope I never encounter a “storm” of those things."

“I’ll agree to that.” Valin said.

For the next several minutes, Talaer bandaged his wounds while Valin searched for a possible secret entrance to the room with the key. He examined the halfling’s body. As he suspected, the halfling had been attacked by the stirges judging by the number of stab wounds he saw. He took a dagger and what provisions he could from the halfling’s backpack.

Valine looked around. Despite the light from the glowing water nearby, most of the hallway was cloaked in shadowy darkness. Not wanting to waste a sun rod, Valin walked back to the room he appeared in and examined one of the torches. He found that it gave ample light but emitted no heat. Valin took it off the sconce and held on to it.

In the other room where they fought the halfling, Talaer had just finished lighting a small fire on the floor using some pieces of wood he found nearby, when he heard something scrape the floor behind him. Turning to look over his shoulder, he spotted three small scaly humanoids with hairless hides, reptilian heads, and tails. Not more than three feet in height each wore leather armor and held small wooden shields. All were armed with short swords, which at the moment were all pointing at the elf.

Kobold knight by c21 d36h58k
One of the humanoids yelled what sounded like a command and they quickly charged at the elf who recognized them as Kobolds.

The first kobold took a swing at the elf, cutting him. Talaer winced in pain, angry that he had just finished binding his wounds from the stirge encounter only to be injured by these wretched creatures. He parried an attack by a second kobold and followed it up with a deep cut to the kobold’s arm. It howled in pain but kept on fighting. It yelled something that sounded like an obscenity at the elf; spoken in Draconic Talaer didn’t doubt. He knew some basic facts about the strange humanoids, but he didn’t speak their language.

Hearing the battle from the other room, Valin entered the room to find himself facing a small creature that tried to stab him with a short sword. The blade glanced harmlessly off his scale armor. He noted two others who were deftly circling the elven ranger in the middle of the room, trying to flank Talaer on either side.

“If I should fall in battle, there are healing potions in my backpack,” Talaer said to the dwarf. “I found them in a secret compartment in the statue back in the room where we woke up.”

“Good to know!” The kobold flanking Talaer said excitedly in the Common tongue. “You hear that fellas? We have potions in case we need it.”

Both Valin and Talaer exchange surprised glances as the kobolds all squealed with delight.

“Did you know they spoke Common?” Valin asked.

“I did not,” Talaer replied.

A sharp pain tore through the elf as the kobold behind him stabbed him from behind. Ignoring it for a brief moment, Talaer stepped up to the kobold he had injured earlier and swung his scimitar straight at the humanoid’s neck.

The kobold’s body slumped to the ground just as it head rolled to a stop several feet away.

Meanwhile, Valin parried another attack. In response, he swung his warhammer in a wide arc that crushed the kobold’s head on impact.

Looking towards where the elf was fighting, Valin noted how the remaining kobold was carefully weaving in and out of the elf’s sword range. Just as it ducked under Talaer’s scimitar, it stabbed upward. Its short sword cutting into Talaer’s ribs, puncturing his lungs.

Coughing up blood, the elf crumbled to the floor.

With a yell Valin charged at the remaining kobold. It tried in vain to block the dwarf’s warhammer with its shield, but the dwarf easily knocked it to the side. Turning the warhammer back, he brought it down on the kobold’s shoulder, crushing bones as he knocked the kobold down to the ground.

Remembering what the elf had told him, Valin quickly searched the elf’s backpack.


“I thought I was dead there for a while,” Talaer said a short while later. The two had just finished searching the remains of the kobolds. Save for a few personal items, they didn’t find anything of value.

“You almost were,” Valin said. “If you didn’t tell me about the potions, my healing skills probably couldn’t have saved you. By the way, I noticed that the wall of force leading to the room with the key is gone.”

“How did you manage to disable it?”

“I didn’t. It disappeared soon after the last of those small humanoids was slain.”

“They’re known as Kobolds.”

“Well, whatever they are, it seems their death caused the wall to drop.”

“Good enough then,” Talaer said. Gathering his equipment, he and Valin walked back to the hallways where they encountered the stirges. After making sure the area was safe, they proceeded to enter the room with the key.

Inside the small room, they found two bronze statues at opposite ends of the room. Both had broken off their bases and were leaning against the wall. Strangely, one statue was that of a dwarf holding a warhammer in its hand. The other statue was that of an elf. It held a scimitar in its hand.

Valin, wary of traps, carefully removed the warhammer from the statue’s hand. After inspecting it for a several minutes, he determined that it was enchanted with the ability to siphon life from whomever it struck and heal its wielder. Talaer, after examining the scimitar he found, also found it to be similarly enchanted.

With enchanted weapons in their hands, both dungeoneers looked at the key lying on top of a pile of wooden debris.

“What do you think this key opens?” Valin asked as he picked it up.

“There’s only one way to—,” Talaer started to say.

In a blinding, brilliant flash of light both dungeoneers vanished—along with the key.


To be continued in future Dungeon Games writeups.


Dungeoneers:

Valin, Talaer

View
"Garden of Graves" Part 3
A Tomb of Horrors Story Arc

Eleint 3, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


Everyone heard the sound of a door opening somewhere nearby, but no one was certain where.


To be continued…


Adventurers:

Fredara, Jobek, Monro, Patch, Vyn, and Kallin Rourke

Companions:

Luthan Graythicket (male half-elf ranger companion, from Elturgard), Orva (female gnome arcanist companion, from the Feywild)

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"Got Silk" Part 1
Planeswalkers' Chronicles (Planescape Adventures)

The second Void of Mortis



To be continued…

Adventurers:
View

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