Campaign of the Month: February 2012

Legacy of the Realms

"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
"Sea of Swords" Part 2
Damager's Guild Story Arc

19 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The Sea of Swords


Captain Blackheart’s watery form rose from his captain’s chair.

The other ghosts, sailors who served their captain faithfully in life, continued to do so even in death.

One ghost, a semblance of its former self, came straight at Damascus and struck the cleric in the arm with its insubstantial short sword. Excruciating pain swept over the cleric.

Drowned ghost
Another watery ghost faced Wraith and shrieked. Wraith suddenly felt a nauseating wave of despair slam into him. He looked at his hands and gasped in horror. His skin seemed to be melting, or rather aging quickly before his eyes.

Abyss blocked an incoming sword thrust from the ghost which tried to flank him. He then turned and broke his blade down on the spirit’s arm. It was like cutting through smoke, but the sailor screamed as his arm withered away to nothing.

Wraith suddenly screamed and clutched at his head. He turned to see Captain Blackheart staring at him. Fighting off the intense pain surging through his head, Wraith took out a vial from his pack then gulped down its content. He immediately felt the potion’s healing effects wash over him.

Lyrica moved to face two ghosts. She cleared her throat and sang in a falsetto, a short piece from an elven aria she learned from a traveling minstrel.

Their watery form wavered in painful reaction to the bard’s song, their movement slowed by Lyrica’s aria.

Meanwhile, Salil loaded a bolt into his crossbow and fired at the nearest ghost. The bolt passed through the spirit and thunked into the ship’s hull.

The spirit turned to move towards Salil when Ronak swung his enchanted greataxe at the ghost. His weapon passed through the phantom sailor’s midsection. The ghost dissipated into a puddle of water.

Within a few more breaths, the adventurers defeated the phantom sailors leaving only Captain Blackheart to contend with.


_To be continued…


Adventurers:

Salil Bok, Ronak Tripp, Abyss, Brogan

NPCs:

Lyrica Osbourne, Damascus of Candlekeep

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"Quest for Fire"
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 28, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


Lendeth
The tangled maze of streets in the Netherese city of Lundeth was an easy place to get lost in.

All around the three travelers from the Western Sunset Vale people went about their business with seeming disinterest to the three visitors walking among them.

“I would think the locals would at least look at you Lo-kag with curiosity,” Caldreas Arannis said to the goliath barbarian. The great eladrin pyromancer walked with his magical staff in hand. He choked back a cough as a cloud of dust settled down on his companions and him from above.

Looking up, Caldreas spotted an elderly woman shaking a dusty rug outside of a second-story window. She gave the pyromancer an apologetic shrug then disappeared back inside her home.

“I thought of that too,” Lo-kag said shaking dust off of him. “Maybe they’ve seen my kind before.”

“Or they’ve seen enough strange folks that you’re no different to them,” Deb Merryfoot the halfling ranger said as he brushed off sand and dust from his cloak. “We are, after all, in Netheril. Strange to us is what’s ordinary to them.”

“Speaking of strange,” Caldreas added. “Are you sure we’re going the right way? The directions we were given by the stable master sounded confusing to me.”

“Wasn’t it?” Deb said. “Fortunately, you have my expertise to call upon. To be honest, I ignored the man’s direction soon after we left him. I can trust him with our flying mounts, but his sense of direction left a lot to be desired.”

“You did what?” Lo-kag asked. “You mean we’re lost then? Maybe we should have asked another ranger to join us. Was Rowan busy? Maybe we should have asked him.”

“Lost?” Deb said. “I don’t even know what that word means. Besides, who guided us all through Elturgard without so much as a map to rely on? And who navigated us through the streets of Berdusk while fighting off crazy Gauntlars? If I recall correctly, a certain goliath once got himself lost in Berdusk when—”

“Enough you two,” Caldreas interrupted. “We’re here.”

The three stopped in their tracks and gazed at the magnificent structure before them. Made from polished stone, the great Colosseum of Lundeth loomed majestically in the center of the city, it’s presence towering above nearby shops and homes.

“If Cain Justice saw this…” Lo-kag said.

“…He’d have one built in Bear’s Head.” Deb finished. Both looked at each other and chuckled.

“Except it would be floating a mile above the town.” Caldreas added. “Well, let’s get on with this and find Quan One-Eye.”

Once inside the colosseum, the three were guided to where Quan One-Eye was busy instructing other gladiators in a small but well-equipped training room.

“Well met,” Caldreas said as they walked up to the gladiatorial instructor.

As Rolando had described, Quan One-Eye was a powerfully built human. He stood just a few inches taller than Caldreas. He wore a simple crimson robe that opened in the front and exposed his scarred muscular chest. His face, too, bore a scar that ran from his forehead, over his missing right eye, and down to his chiseled jaw. His thick arms were covered in tattoos and scars.

Rolando mentioned that Quan was an old friend of his who fought his way up through the gladiatorial ranks, until an unlucky swipe of a sword took out his right eye. Since the unfortunate accident occurred, Quan all but gave up his career. Instead of fighting in the colosseum, he now trains Lundeth’s finest fighters. Rolando also mentioned that Quan was a highly respected man in Lundeth with many powerful friends and equally powerful enemies.

“Well met,” Quan said. “You three are obviously not from around here.” He turned to look at both Deb and Lo-kag who stood to either side of Caldreas. “I’m afraid I don’t train halflings, but perhaps I can train the goliath or even work miracles with you, although you’re going to need some muscles if you expect to survive in the arena.”

“I’m afraid you misunderstand the reason for our being here,” Caldreas said as he brought his staff down on Lo-kag’s foot which stopped the goliath in mid-chuckle. He gave Deb a stern look as well. “We were sent here by Rolando of Bear’s Head. You are a friend of his. He said you would have information regarding a magical item known as the Cloak of Flames.”

“I see,” Quan said looking around. “If you’ll follow me, it’s best we speak of such things in a more private place.”

Later, the three found themselves with Quan in a comfortable room. Rich carpets covered the floor. Bronze goblets filled with rich wine sat at a nearby wooden table along with bronze platters full of sumptuous fruits. Lit scented sticks cloaked the room in an ambrosia of exotic scents. Paintings hang on walls while marble statuettes occupied recessed niches.

After they had served themselves, Quan asked everyone to sit upon huge padded pillows scattered about the floor.

“Are you familiar with the Cloak of Flames?” Caldreas asked.

“I am,” Quan said. “It was once worn by Margretor, a mage Rolando and I adventured with in our youth.”

“I didn’t know Rolando was that skilled as a wizard,” Deb said as he took a bite out of a plump pear-like fruit. “I thought Caldreas here surpassed his skills as a wizard.”

“His skills as a wizard was not why our adventuring company hired him,” Quan continued. “We had heard that he had a knack for the arcane. Since our company was interested in finding lost magic items, we hired him to travel with us. He didn’t go into the dungeons with us but stayed with the horses and equipment. Once we returned ladened with treasure, we had him examine them for their value and magical properties.”

“So, Magretor has the cloak,” Lo-kag said. “Where can we find him?”

“You can’t,” Quan said. “He’s dead.”

“This trip was for nothing then,” Deb conceded.

“Not quite,” Quan said. “I do know where the cloak is kept safely hidden.”

Caldreas looked at the gladiator. “I know where this conversation is leading,” Caldreas said. “We can pay you what the cloak is worth.”

Quan raised his goblet to take a drink. “I have no need for more wealth,” Quan said pointing to the various art pieces that decorated the room. “However, I am need of help at the moment. Perhaps we can strike a bargain. You offer to help me, and in return I will reveal to you the location of the legendary Cloak of Flames.”

“Ah, sounds familiar,” Deb said with sarcasm. “We offer our services as skilled and famous adventurers. In return we get rewarded for our efforts. Someday, it would be nice if people simply accepted money for what we wanted.”

Caldreas ignored the halfling’s quip despite its honesty.

“What can we do to help a respected gladiator trainer such as yourself?” Caldreas asked taking a sip from his goblet.

“I need your help in getting my son back.” Quan said.

“What happened?” Deb asked.

“Three weeks ago, agents working for Oathem, a rival trainer from the House of Salax kidnapped my teenage son Kelek. Yesterday, I was visited by five goliath thugs working for Oathem. They told me that if I ever wanted to see my son alive again, I would need to poison the drinking water of several of my finest gladiators to ensure specific outcomes in the upcoming gladiatorial games.”

“Of course you can’t do that,” Lo-kag said.

“Naturally,” Quan said. “I cannot betray my warrior brothers—even to save my son.”

“Do you know where your son is being held?” Caldreas asked.

“My sources tell me he may be in a fort somewhere between Lundeth and Rasilith but that much area would be impossible to search.”

“What of the goliaths?” Deb inquired. “Did you have them followed?”

“I considered it, but feared for my son’s safety if Oathem found out I was trailing his pets. I did find out today that the goliaths are still in the city.”

“Perhaps we can help there,” Caldreas offered. “As you said earlier, we are obviously not from around here. No one would suspect that we were helping you look for your son. We will help you get your son back. In return, you’ll get us the Cloak of Flames.”

Grateful for the help offered, Quan One-Eye agreed to the terms.

Back outside, the group busied themselves by asking around for any sign of five goliaths who may be traveling together in the city. It took a few hours but eventually, they learned that the goliaths were entertaining themselves in one of the city’s numerous brothels. However, one of the goliaths was seen leaving the city to the north.

Following a lead, the three made their way to the Nut Cracker, the city’s most popular house of ill-repute.

“Really?” Caldreas asked as he stood before the brothel. “The Nut Cracker? Couldn’t they have thought of a better name for a brothel?”

“I suppose they could have called it The Bears Head In!” Deb said bursting into laughter.

“Or simply, The Bear’s Head,” Lo-kag offered also bursting into laughter.

Caldreas couldn’t help but laugh along with Lo-kag and Deb. “Alright, alright. Enough. Let’s go and get this over with.”

“That’s what she said,” Deb said with a final chuckle.

Lo-kag slapped the halfling in the back.

“What was that for?” Deb asked.

“You’re funnier than I thought possible,” Lo-kag said with a grin. “For a small one, you’re big where it counts.”

Deb couldn’t resist. “That’s what she said.”

Inside, the brothel was a gaudy mixture of mismatching furniture and colors. Peanut shells littered the floor. In the main room, several people were mingling about with drinks in hand or snacking on small nuts with the shells being casually thrown on the floor. Working women were busy entertaining their guest with offers of pleasures beyond their imagination or price range.

In one corner, the the group spotted three goliaths surrounded by six scantily-clad women. By the looks of it, the goliaths were rough-handling the women who were desperately trying to fend the brutes off. Even the other guests were starting to notice the trouble brewing in the corner.

Lo-kag turned to the others. “Let’s go ask them a few questions.”

“I can only imagine what their answers will sound like through broken teeth,” Caldreas said.


Coughing up blood, the remaining goliath found himself staring up at Lo-kag’s rage-filled face, his weapon inches from the beaten goliath’s head. The two other goliaths lay dead on the floor nearby.

“Where are the others?” Lo-kag asked in fury. “Or I swear my weapon crushing your face in will be the last thing you’ll ever see!”

Nearby, Caldreas was busy comforting the women who moments before were being accosted by the goliath thugs. Deb, his bow drawn back with an arrow ready, kept guard.

“Lo-kag,” Caldreas called. “One of the girls said the fourth one is upstairs. He’s in a room with two elven women.”

Moments later, with the goliath upstairs killed and the women and other customers safe, the three adventurers gathered around the beaten goliath seated on the main room’s floor.

“What do you want from me?” the beaten goliath asked as blood flowed from his mouth. “Do you want money? I’ve got some gold coins—”

“We dont’ want your money,” Lo-kag said. “We didn’t like the way you were treating those women. Damaged goods is no good to the rest of us.”

“You know if Oathem gets wind of you killing the others,” the goliath said. “He’ll have you hunted down and slain. Lo-tor left today to talk to Oathem. They’ll wonder why we haven’t returned.”

“Who’s this Oathem guy?” Deb asked as he stood looking eye-to-eye at the seated goliath. “And if he does send others, he’ll just end up losing more thugs. Eventually, he’ll run out of people for us to kill.”

“You saw how quickly we took care of your friends,” Caldreas added. He tapped one of the dead goliaths with the tip of his staff to emphasize his point. “I can’t imagine the others being much more of a challenge.”

“What if we came and worked for Oathem?” Deb offered. The goliath’s surprised look made the halfling ranger smile. “We can offer our services to replace the skilled thugs he lost.”

“You three are pretty good in battle,” the goliath said. “I can vouch for that.”

“I’m sure you can,” Lo-kag said.

“Oathem is always looking for more people to hire,” the goliath said. “I’m sure he’d like to have you three join us at the fort.”

“The fort?” Caldreas asked as he looked at the others in mock surprise.

“Yeah, the fort.” the goliath said. “It’s where Oathem and the others are. It’s in the desert, about two days journey from here. I can take you there if you like.”

Deb looked to his fellow adventurers with a wolfish grin. “We would like that very much.”


The story continues in “Quest for Fire” Part 2


Adventurers:

Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

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"U'Cla"
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

20 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The forest erupted in chaos.

Lo-kag, the mighty barbarian goliath, let out a roar of pain as U’Cla’s massive claw tore through armor and flesh.

Seconds before the surprised attack, the three skilled adventurers from Bear’s Head were carefully making their way through a dense part of the Reaching Wood. Deb, the halfling ranger, had earlier scouted the area and found a cave which they suspected was large enough for a dire bear to use as a den. Caldreas, the eladrin wizard, kept to the sky just above the canopy upon his winged mount.

But as Lo-kag walked past a dense overgrowth of bushes, U’Cla suddenly emerged catching the goliath by surprise.

Deb quickly launched an arrow at U’Cla. The deadly shaft buried itself deep into the dire bear’s flank but it didn’t even seem to phase the beast.

Lo-kag quickly recovered and lunged at the bear delivering a savage blow with his weapon that would have ended the life of any other creature right then.

From atop his flying mount, Caldreas too launched his own deadly spells upon U’Cla careful not to use any fire-based spells lest he accidentally start a forest fire.

U’cla took a swipe at Lo-kag and struck again. Ignoring the pain, the barbarian attacked back in kind tearing through thick fur and sinews which hardly seemed to slow the dire bear down, while at a safe distance Deb kept hitting it with his arrows. Caldreas kept up his spell-attacks, doing what he could to help end a battle the eladrin already suspected was going to take some time.

And so the battle with U’Cla did rage on for quite some time.

U cla
While the ranger and the wizard kept their distance, the goliath relentlessly pressed the attack against U’Cla. The greatest of dire bears delivered her own deadly onslaught against the goliath who like her refused to surrender to the welcoming embrace of Kelemvor, the god of death.

Soon enough, the battle was taking its toll on both sides. But just as it seemed U’Cla was about to be slain, the greatest of dire bears broke free from the battle and tore through the forest to escape.

Caldreas quickly gave chase, urging his mount to keep up with the bear. However, the thick canopy at times hid the forest floor below. At one point the eladrin spotted U’Cla run through a small clearing only to disappear back into a thick copse of trees and equally thick brambles at the clearing’s edge.

Knowing the others may have lost sight of U’Cla, Caldreas flew back to tell the others where the U’Cla went.

The group carefully made their way across the clearing with Caldreas keeping to the air.

But as they searched the area where Caldreas last saw the dire bear, they could not find U’Cla. It seemed as though she had simply melted into the forest. Signs of her passing were evident to the skilled ranger, but they still couldn’t find her.

“How can something that big just disappear?” Lo-kag asked Deb who was also searching nearby.

“This is her home,” the halfling said. “She knows these woods well.”

“Do you see her Caldreas?” Lo-kag yelled up to the eladrin. He didn’t care about being heard by U’Cla. He wanted her to come out from hiding and end the fight.

“No,” the eladrin yelled back. “But she couldn’t have gone far or we would have seen her.”

The three kept scouring the area but after a while it was obvious that they had indeed lost U’Cla. Despite her size, Deb was right in that the Reaching Wood was her home and she knew well enough how to hide her great bulk amidst the thick growths and trees that grew in abundance in the forest.

Disappointed in that they could not slay U’Cla, the group made their way back to the dire bear’s den and searched it. There, they took whatever they found and traveled back to Bear’s Head to heal wounds and rest.

Perhaps someday they thought, someone would eventually find and slay U’Cla.

But for now they recalled the poacher’s warning that no one alive could ever slay the mightiest of dire bears.


Adventurers:

Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

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"Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble" Part 2
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

Eleint 18, 1479, Year of the Ageless One (three days before the Autumn Equinox)



To be continued…


Adventurers:

Kursk, Skamus, and Quinn

NPC:

Tink

View
"Roadside Assistance"
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 19, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


Both rangers saw the man in polished plate mail armor standing in the middle of the road.

He was tall, had a weathered face, and was armed with sword and shield. They saw that his shield bore a yellow skull wearing a horned helm on a black field. He resembled a knight.

1
Behind the knight, a large wagon sat in the middle of the road. One of its wheels had been removed from the axle and was propped up against a nearby tree. A second figure in fine clothing stood next to the wagon, hands on hips, frustration clearly displayed by his body language. A cowl obscured the person’s face.

Nearby, two green-scaled drakes lounged in the sun. Beyond them, two horses, free from the wagon, grazed lazily at the eaves of the woods.

The knight smiled when he saw the two rangers.

“Greetings and well met, good travelers,” the knight said. “My name is Sir Tyros Halfhelm, a knight by trade. This gem cutter, Lerix, hired me to escort him on these dangerous roads. But our wagon’s wheel is damaged. We could use some help getting it back on the wagon, but I am hesitant to take my eyes off the road. I’ve heard tell that travelers have disappeared out this way in recent times. Brigands, no doubt.”

“Well met to you as well,” Therand said while looking around at the surrounding area. “How can we help?”

“I wonder if you would be good enough to offer us some assistance?” Sir Tyros said. “Perhaps one of you can help us with the wagon.”

“We would love to help,” Rowan said while still keeping his distance. “But we are Wardens of the Vale. Our job is to patrol and watch for danger and cannot directly help.”

The knight regarded Rowan with curiosity and a hint of frustration. "I have never heard of people whose task it is to “watch” but not help."

Therand moved closer to Rowan.

“I will climb up upon the ridge to the south and cover the high ground,” Therand said.

“Good. I will speak with this knight and see what he is about,” Rowan said. “But let us not forget our mission. We are to find the gnoll chief, Toryk. Any delay will cost us precious time.”

Therand nodded in agreement and made his way up to the high ground that ran parallel to the road. When he reached the area where the ground sloped upward towards a thick copse of trees, he found the ground soft and difficult to climb. Try as he might, he slipped and slid down. Covered in mud, Therand made his way back to Rowan who had walked back to a safe distance after speaking to the knight.

“The slope is soft and hard to climb,” Therand explained.

“Remain here then and watch the road,” Rowan advised. “I’ll try to find an easier way up there where we can have a vantage view of the road and these two travelers.”

“What did you learn from the knight?” Therand asked.

“He repeated what he’s already told us,” Rowan said. “He did add that they lost another in their party further down the road from where they came from. He described an ambush by brigands.”

“Yet those two managed to have escaped a deadly ambush?” Therand added with a hint of disbelief.

“Aye,” Rowan said. “My thoughts exactly.” The ranger then turned and quickly made his way towards the slope. From where Therand stood, he could see Rowan making good progress up the slippery ground. In a short time, the ranger had disappeared from sight.

I’ll be just as skilled someday,” Therand whispered to himself.

Keeping the knight in his view, Therand walked over to a large oak tree at the edge of the road.

Above the road, Rowan quietly pushed his way through thick briers.

He suddenly stopped. The scent of smoke caught his attention.

Turning away from the direction of the road, he made his way towards the source of the smell.

He emerged from between two maple trees. A camp was spread out before him. Three weathered tents were pitched around a campfire that looked like it was recently put out. He quietly moved into the camp, keeping vigilant for any signs of the camp’s inhabitants.

A man suddenly stepped out of a tent a few feet from where Rowan stood. The man was dressed in leather and held a longsword. The man’s eye grew wide in surprise when he spotted Rowan. He opened his mouth to yell—

Rowan silenced the man with a well-placed arrow shot into the man’s throat. The man fell back into the tent. Rowan spotted another man emerge from behind a tree at the other side of the camp. The man, too, wore leather but held a short bow in his hand. The man turned to flee into the woods. Rowan stopped him with arrow through his back.

Roadside 1

Rowan quickly ran through the camp searching for any more of the armed men. When he was certain no one was left in the camp, he quickly made his back to the road to warn Therand.

Therand meanwhile scanned the area nearby. The knight and the other man working on the wagon’s wheel suspiciously kept looking at his direction. Therand also noticed that the knight kept looking towards the treeline where Therand was. He looked around and swore he saw what appeared to be someone hiding behind a small maple tree a short distance away.

Therand had an uncanny feeling that something bad was about to happen.

Above the road, Rowan moved fast. He came out of a thicket and spotted two more men trying to hide behind a large outcropping of rocks. They were both armored like the men back in camp. Each also had shortbows drawn back and trained at the road below.

The ranger moved in quick, firing arrow after arrow into each one. Both lay dead by the time Rowan reached the edge where the ground sloped downward.

Down below, Therand fired at the figure crouched behind the maple tree. His arrow struck the tree but scared the hidden figure into revealing himself. A short human man armed with a crossbow stood up and fired in Therand’s direction. The bolt zipped past his head.

Suddenly another figure—a male half elf—emerged from behind a clump of thick bushes some distance away. The figure raised his crossbow and fired at Therand. The bolt struck the ranger, nearly causing him to double over in pain.

From the direction of the wagon, Therand heard the angry chirping staccato of the scaled-drakes get louder. He looked towards the wagon. The knight, Tyros, was moving in his direction while Lerix, the cowled figure working on the wagon wheel ran towards the tree line.

Therand knew he was being flanked.

He fired again at the nearest crossbowman but his aim was too high.

Fearing he would be surrounded, Therand ran towards the wagon hoping to find better cover. All the while, he wondered where Rowan had gone. Was he dead? Did he flee back to Bear’s Head to warn the others? All these crossed his mind as another bolt buried itself into his lower back.

He managed to make it to a short tree when he suddenly spotted Lerix step out into the open from behind a bush. The man’s cowl fell back to reveal a cat-like face with reddish eyes and oily brown hair. Small black horns grew out of his forehead. Therand recognized Lerix as a tiefling, beings who can trace their ancestry back to the Nine Hells.

With a wicked grin, the tiefling raised his hand and pointed it at Therand. His hand began to glow. Suddenly, a fiery bolt materialized and hurled itself at the ranger. When the magical bolt struck him, intense white fire quickly spread throughout his body burning him painfully wherever it touched his exposed skin.

Giving up his position, Therand bolted towards the wagon. He saw the two horses tethered near the wagon. If he could reach one of them, he could try to escape on horseback. He knew Rowan was capable of taking care of himself.

A crossbow bolt zipped past him, while a second one struck his calf.

To his right, he saw armored knight run behind the wagon for cover. Behind him, the tiefling wizard sought cover behind a large boulder. He was looking up where Rowan went earlier and was shouting orders to the crossbowmen to be alert.

He looked at the nearest horse and saw something that nearly caused him to stop dead in his tracks. Unbelievably, the horse started to split in two! The entire top portion of the horse was separating itself from the lower half. Inside the fake horse, two men armored in leather were trying to take off the lower half of the horse which was held up by suspenders worn by the two.

Moments later, they were both free and had unsheathed longswords. Both looked at Therand and started to move towards him.

Therand took aim and fired at the two men. He struck one who dropped dead. The other kept moving towards him.

Just then, another magical bolt struck Therand from behind. Searing heat engulfed him sending waves of fiery pain throughout his entire body. As darkness engulfed him, Therand felt the ground rise up to greet him. Then everything went dark.

Above the road, Rowan watched as Therand was struck by the tiefling’s fiery bolt. He quickly loosed an arrow that struck the tiefling. He also saw a man armed with a longsword run up to the fallen ranger. Seconds later, the man raised his blade above the ranger’s body then drove the blade downward to make certain Therand was dead.


To be continued…


Adventurers:

Therand & Rowan

View
"The Hunt for U'Cla"
A Legacy of the Realms Side Arc

Eleint 18 – 19, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


“It’s too bad I can’t turn U’Cla into my own mount,” Lo-kag said with disappointment. “Since everyone has mounts these days, it’s time I got one too!”

Caldreas and Deb both smiled. True, since Huntrah had first arrived at Bear’s Head mounted on a terrifying wyvern he named Sting, it seemed many were seeing the value of owning a mount. Caldreas had recently purchased a hippogriff from Iriaebor, while Deb had acquired a dire wolf as a mount.

Around the three, the sounds of merrymaking; of singing and drinking grew louder. With three days remaining until the Autumn Equinox, it seemed people were busy celebrating before the onset of winter. There was much to celebrate about after all. With the Sunset Vale free of undead once again, life seemed to be returning to normal again.

Across the room, a satyr bard just finished playing an sad elven tune on his lyre. He stood up from his stool and got the crowd to join in a song of thanks to the person who invented beer. The crowd raised their mugs in salute at the song ended.

No sooner had one song ended when a table of goblins—rare goblins who chose to live among civilized people to abandon their evil ways—offered up a song of courage and foolhardiness to a particular goliath, halfling, and eladrin, whom the goblins heard where going after U’Cla, the mightiest of dire bears.

And so the night went on until the inn closed and adventurers and townsfolk alike left the Bear’s Head Inn or turned in for the night.

**

Early morning mist still clung to the ground when the three left the comfort of Bear’s Head and made their way to the Reaching Wood.

Several miles into the forest, the group encountered a band of poachers who surprised them with a volley of bolts fired from crossbows. The adventurers returned the ambush with attacks of their own which claimed the lives of every poacher save one, their leader. Unfortunately, the battle also cost Deb to lose his mount which was killed during the encounter.

When interrogated, the leader revealed himself to be a person with a bounty on his head. Kira, the innkeeper of Bear’s Head, had told the group about a man who was poaching in the Reaching Woods. The town of Bear’s Head had then placed a reward on his head.

Satisfied they had the right man, the three gathered what they could from the slain poachers and made their way back to Bear’s Head to turn the poacher over to the authorities. Along the way, they asked him what he knew of U’Cla and if he had seen signs of the dire bear which they were hunting.

“That devil of an animal killed some of my men several days ago,” the poacher said with spite in his tone. “I was lucky to escape with my life. Now you will try to kill it? Gods be with you, but you will not be able to kill it. There is no one alive who can kill that beast.”

After leaving the poacher with the guards at Bear’s Head, the three traveled back to the Reaching Wood with thoughts regarding what the poacher had said about U’Cla.


The story continues in U’Cla


Adventurers:

Lo-kag, Caldreas, and Deb

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"Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble" Part 1
Shadow of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark™ Adventures)

Eleint 18, 1479, Year of the Ageless One (three days before the Autumn Equinox)


“People have been seeing those bubbles rise out of the lake for almost a year now?” Tink asked Kira, the the half-elf innkeeper of Bear’s Head Inn. Despite only being in her 20s, Kira was respected as a matronly figure who always looked out for the well-being of everyone who stayed at the inn.

“Yes.” Kira answered. “We’ve been aware of it for some time, but since no guard or citizen had seen anything of a strange nature come out of the lake, we haven’t been overly concerned.”

“What does the Regent and the others think is causing the bubbles?”

“Hard to say for certain. Although some think it’s a fissure at the bottom of the lake, or perhaps an underwater cave of sorts—”

“—Could it be a creature?” Tink interrupted.

“We’ve considered that possibility, but as I said, no one has seen anything. You know very well how the guards keep a sharp eye out for trouble or any hint of it in Bear’s Head, so it’s not likely to be some ‘lake monster’ if that’s what your suggesting.”

“I suppose not, " Tink said in a disappointed tone. She takes another spoonful of cooked eggs from her plate then washes it down with a mug of warm milk Kira had prepared especially for her. She looked around the inn’s main room and saw three people cleaning and preparing the room for the day’s guests. Tink recognized all but one of the men—a young half-orc busy unstacking chairs and rearranging them around some nearby tables.

Lake bubbles
“Well, I’m sure you will eventually discover what is causing those bubble to rise out of the lake,” Kira said. “With your thirst for knowing what isn’t known and for building contraptions, I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of this mystery—no pun intended.”

Tink laughed. “You’re right, Kira. I will solve this mystery. But if only I can put together an expedition to venture into the Underdark Shallows.”

“You mentioned finding a means of entering the Underdark from the surface of the Western Vale.” Kira said. “Where is this entrance?”

“It’s 2.6 miles south by southeast of Five Hills,” Tink said. “It’s a sinkhole at the end of rather large ravine. It must have recently opened up too! I suspect the latest storm must have weakened the ground in that part of the ravine…”

Kira couldn’t help but notice how excited Tink was getting. She had known the young half-elf long enough to know that when Tink enters her realm—a world of exploration, of learning, and of building wondrous contraptions and items—there’s no stopping the young girl.

“…Since the ravine slopes to the north at a 23.8° angle relative to the surrounding surface, most of the rainwater must have accumulated there. Eventually all that weight of water—for you know that water weighs in at 8.345404 lbs. per gallon, and there must have been hundreds if not thousands of gallons of it—just became too heavy. I tried to take measurements of the exact amount of water that must have been there, but I figured it would have taken me 3.4 days to make the necessary measurements based on the density of the surrounding dirt, amount of precipitation, and—”.

“—Tink, get back to the part about the sinkhole please.” Kira pleaded. “I need to open the inn soon.”

“Of course,” Tink said. “Ergo, a sinkhole would naturally occur. Assuming of course, there was a sufficient pocket of space below the surface to accept that much water.”

Kira
“Naturally.” Kira said. “And you suspect this ‘pocket of space’ leads to the Shallows?”

“I do indeed!” Tink exclaimed. “As far as my maps and investigation has found so far, there are no known egresses or entrances into the Underdark in the Sunset Vale. But this proves that they do exist.”

“How deep is the sinkhole?” Kira asked.

“59 feet, 10 inches in depth.”

“Well, you better pack a long rope.” Kira said.

“I’m packed and ready,” Tink said. “Now, I just need others to join me in my expedition.”

“Did someone mention an expedition?” A voice asked from the direction of the front door.

Tink and Kira both looked at the direction of the door. They saw a tiefling enter, carrying several small burlap sacks.

“Well met, Skamus!” Kira greeted the tiefling warmly. “I see you’ve brought me your finest harvest, just as I had requested.”

“As promised,” Skamus said. “I brought you some newly harvested onions, potatoes, and leeks.”

“Please bring those over to this side of the bar, if you don’t mind.” Kira said.

Skamus walked over to a counter behind the bar and gently sat the sacks down. Kira handed him several coins in return.

“So, what’s this again about an expedition?” Skamus asked as his tail reaches over to a basket of fruits. He carefully took out an apple and bit into it. “Kira, it’s been some time since I’ve gone adventuring and I’m starting to miss it.”

“Skamus, I would like to introduce you to Tink,” Kira said. “Tink is Rolando’s niece.”

“Well met Tink,” Skamus said. “I must say that I don’t recall seeing you around here—although my wife Freda and I are fairly new to this town. I know your uncle but I don’t recall having heard anyone mention he had a niece in Bear’s Head. Truth be told, I didn’t think the old mage had any relatives at all.”

“I’m not entirely surprised,” Tink said. “Uncle Rolando doesn’t talk about his personal life much. However, I haven’t been in town for some time now. I’ve been busy traveling through Iriaebor and visiting friends in several towns along the Dragonmere coast for the past few months. I arrived here just a few days ago. It’s amazing how much the town has changed in just the few months since I left.”

“There’s been quite a lot of changes here,” Kira said. “Especially since the undead troubles began a while back. Now that the undead incursion has been dealt with, hopefully life can return to normal around here—at least as normal as can be for a town with drows, a goliath, and a lich.”

Kursk, who had been cleaning and preparing the room for the day’s guests, couldn’t help but overhear the conversation. Out of money, Kursk welcomed the opportunity for adventure. Despite not wanting to interrupt, he walked up to Kira.

“Forgive me but I couldn’t help but overhear you talking about an expedition,” Kursk said.

“It’s alright Kursk,” Kira said. “Go on.”

“Maybe I can be of help,” Kursk said.

A short time later, the group now consisting of a half-elf artificer, a tiefling fighter, and a half-orc barbarian, made plans to explore the Underdark Shallows. Quinn Justice, a half-elf wizard, also joined the group after dropping by the inn and introducing himself.

As an added incentive, Kira offers the reward of 500 gold coins to each member once they’ve solved the mystery of the mysterious bubbles.

As the group prepared themselves, Tink shared that while she was resting at an abandoned farmstead the day before she had accidentally left her ritual book behind. She added that the book has several rituals, some of them healing rituals that can benefit the group. The group gathered their belongings and left Bear’s Head.

At the farmstead, the group came across a nest of stirges. Quinn was hurt in the attack, but the group prevailed and killed three of the blood-thirsty creatures.

After rummaging for some time, Kursk found Tink’s ritual book. The group then made its way to the ravine where Tink saw a sinkhole she suspected led to the Shallows.

At the sinkhole, the group took out a rope and secured it. From above, everyone spotted a tunnel extend away from the sinkhole far below.

Giantfreakingspider
Skamus was the first to descend, followed by Kursk. The damp smell of a freshly caved-in sinkhole was strong. Unable to see what lay within the tunnel, Skamus threw a sunrod into it illuminating it brightly. Seconds later, he spotted two black spiders—each almost as big as him—coming at him, their fangs dripping with poison.

“Spiders!” Skamus yelled back to the others.

Kursk, not wanting to be caught on the rope with spiders around, tried to climb down as fast as possible.

Above, Quinn prepared himself, ready to act as soon as he could see a target. Moments later, the first of two spiders scuttled into view. Keeping his focus on the spider, he let loose a mental attack on the spider. Although the wizard knew he had penetrated the animal’s mental defense, it seemed hardly phased by the attack.

The second spider crawled up the wall and onto the tunnel’s ceiling and emerged seconds later into the sinkhole. Skamus swung his halberd but struck the soft dirt wall just behind the spider. The creature moved past the tiefling towards Kursk who was still clinging to the rope. When it came with in reach, the spider tried to bite the half-orc who kicked his legs forward to avoid getting bitten. He then quickly slid down the rope.

Skamus refocused on the first spider. His halberd struck one of its many legs, cutting it completely off. A second attack struck it near the head sending a thick glob of spider ichor splashing onto the tiefling chest. Calling upon all of his might, Skamus impaled the creature, killing it instantly.

Quinn unleashed a charm spell but missed. Tink switched to a range weapon just as the spider above Kursk quickly moved towards the half-orc, hissing as it bared its fangs.

Skamus quickly turned around.

Gripping the halberd with one hand, he grabbed Kursk by the shoulder and pulled as hard as he could. As he did so, he stepped into the spot previously occupied by the half-orc just as the spider bit down. Skamus grunted as the spider’s fangs bit through his chainmail and pierced his flesh. The tiefling quickly countered, swiping his halberd in a wide arc that tore trough chitinous legs.

Somehow, the spider still kept its grip on the wall’s surface despite losing nearly half of its spindly legs.

Kursk charged at the spider, but his battle axe struck the wall just below the creature which hissed at him in anger.

Tink quickly loaded her dejada—a sling-like weapon—with a bullet and took aim at the spider below her. She spun her arm in a tight circle and let loose. The bullet zipped towards the spider and struck it. It fell to the ground dead.

“Nice shot,” Quinn said to Tink. The artificer gave him a grateful smile in return.

“Let’s get down there and join the others,” Tink said as she grabbed the rope.

Quinn took the rope away from her. “I’ll go first,” he said. He then wrapped the rope around his arm and began to repel down.

A few feet into his descend, Quinn lost his footing and fell. He landed hard but was not seriously injured.

I’m glad he went first, Tink whispered to herself. She then grabbed the rope and slowly made her way down to join the others below.


The story continues in “Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble” Part 2.


Adventurers:

Kursk, Skamus, and Quinn

NPC:

Tink

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"The Garden of Graves" Part 2
Tomb of Horrors Story Arc

Eleint 2 – 3, 1479, Year of the Ageless One


The lamia is a formidable opponent.

For what seems like an eternity, the adventurers have been battling the lamia, one of deadliest creature they have ever encountered. Weapons and spells seem almost ineffective against her. Each strike of blade or spell barely hurts the powerful fey creature.

However, the adventurers are beginning to wear the lamia down. Bloodied from its wounds brought on by the adventurers’ relentless attacks, the lamia is resorting to attacks that can cause the most amount of damage to everyone.

And so the encounter is truly becoming a battle for life. A battle to test and see who truly wants to win and live, or lose and die.

**

Kallin Rourke hears someone scream for help.

He turns his attention away from the elven boat and looks towards the river. There, struggling to swim against the strong current is a small person—a female gnome by the sounds and looks of it. Despite sensing a possible trap—for he knows not to trust everything in the Feywild—Kallin runs to the river’s edge. He quickly rummages through his gear and takes out a rope. It is strong yet supple. Tiny eldritch markings are barely noticeable across its silken strands.

With an arcane word, Kallin releases one end of the rope. Like a living snake, the rope uncoils itself and snakes its way across the top of the water, straight for the struggling gnome. Within seconds, the rope has reached the gnome. It ties itself around the gnome. Kallin then begins to pull the gnome back to shore.

Scarab
Inside, the battle against the lamia has taken a turn for the worse. Outnumbered and bloodied, the lamia summons a swarm of scarabs to fight alongside her!

Jobek quaffs a potion of vitality as Fredara strikes the lamia in the arm. Not stopping, Fredara swings down on the swarm of deadly scarabs and kills dozens of them in one strike. Her momentum carries the blade back to the lamia. It screams in rage at Fredara’s onslaught.

The others, dazed by the lamia’s earlier are unable to do much to affect the deadly fey creature. Monro catches his breath and manages to ignore some of the pain he feels. Luthan, meanwhile, takes careful aim as he takes a careful step back from the swarm of scarabs. He lets loose an arrow that skewers several of the deadly bugs.

Outside, Kallin pulls the gnome to shore but keeps his distance. “Who are you?” He asks the gnome. The magical rope lets go of the gnome and winds itself back into a coil in Kallin’s hands.

The gnome gags and spits out a mouthful of water. “I am Orva,” she says. “I am with the other adventurers inside. We must hurry and warn them not to touch the door!”

Kallin runs inside. Orva quickly follows.

Within moments, the battle turns deadly.

The lamia unleashes a deadly swarm of poisonous beetles that swarms over anyone unfortunate enough to get in its way. The adventurers do their best, but in the end, Vyn succumbs to the poisonous beetles just as Patch kills the lamia. A few breaths later and the battle is over, the last of the deadly beetle squashed under Jobek’s boot.

**

The group rests for the remainder of the day. During that time, Kallin shares about his encounters in the Garden of Graves and of the death of a fellow adventurer he came across the day before. The others, in turn, share what they’ve encountered.

Orva also describes discovering a strange door in an adjoining room. A small pool of clear water rested on the door itself as if defying the very laws of gravity. She spotted a platinum key at the bottom of the _pool__, but when she tried to take it, she suddenly found herself outside, in the river, next to the obelisk. That’s when, she says, Kallin saved her from nearly being swept downriver.

Before they decided to deal with the mystery of the pool and the key, the group decides to place Vyn’s body in the Haversack hoping they can bring him back to life at a later date or at the very least, give the fallen paladin a fitting burial back in Bear’s Head.

As the group stands by the door with the pool, Kallin volunteers to retrieve the key. He plunges his hand as quickly as he can into the bottom of the pool. Almost reaching to the top of his arm, the water felt very cold. He grabs the key and pulls his arm out quickly. Suddenly, a snake formed of water shoots out and almost strikes Kallin’s arm.

The ranger leaps back as the snake loses its form and splashes to the floor.

With the key in their possession, the group decides to rest for the remainder of the day and explore the rest of the strange place after everyone was fully rested.

The hanging tapestry
The next day, they cross the rickety bridge and enter the building they saw across the river. Inside, they come across a room full of hanging tapestries. One particular tapestry stole their attention.

On it, they noticed a door. A person holding a platinum key similar to the one they found the day before stood nearby, while lightning—seemingly lashing out from the door itself—strikes another man who may have tried to open the door.

As everyone looks searches the room, Kallin spots secret doors nearby. He tells the others about his discovery.

While the others try to find means of opening the secret doors, Kallin touches the tapestry with the real key. As the key touches the tapestry, everyone hears what sounds like a door opening someplace nearby, but to the group’s surprise none of the secret doors had opened.

Everyone looks puzzled, wondering what door had they opened.


To be continued in “Garden of Graves” Part 3


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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