Crucibal Beyond

The Journal of Teleamon Gurion III

The following excerpt was found in the Thraxx-Arkana Archives….

“The Dark is upon us. What a luckless world we are. It seems our history is comprised of long stretches of misery and despair interspersed with momentary periods of heroic glory and peace.
I pen this journal on Presipar 12th, 2440 AT, according to the Old Calendar; 296 of The Dark.
The Prince of the Undead, Orcus, may his name be forgotten in time, rules the southwestern portion of Sejanna while another Demon Prince, the Faceless Lord, Juiblex, may his name be forgotten forever, rules the Edgeriven peninsula and further northeast into the Gruul mountains. Argos, once a grand metropolis is now a parody of its former glory. Infested with zombies and wraiths, guarded by demons and other vile entities, Argos is held in proxy by his lieutenant, Drastik the Pestilent. His rule is terrible and swift to those whom he disdains.
The gods have abandoned us for centuries. Long ago, when the Sejannese Circle were active in these parts, when the great heroes Merik, Tima, Luce and Aerlin discovered the plot of Juiblex and slew his son, Aristobulus the Balor; but too late, for Aristobulus had already called up the Dark Firmament which barred access to the gods from their worshippers. That was the beginning of The Dark and it has not abated. The Sejannese Circle stole the Wand of Orcus from the Balor who had stolen it from Orcus himself, as well as the very Aegis of Zeus, a fallen god of ancient days.
But neither of these artifacts could aid our heroes as they had ultimately failed. In an inn known as ‘The Wandering Fool’, they made their last stand against the forces of darkness and were brought down by it at the very last.
Now New Crucibal has changed.
The south and west are infested by the undead armies of Orcus, the demon oozes of Juiblex and their minions.
Lor Pando holds them off in the northwest from the dwarf-hold of Silverhome (formerly Lor Susshro).
The arcanists of the world have holed up in the Vale. Beyond the Old Sentinels’ Gate they have set up a magocracy called Thraxx-Arkana ruling from the capital city of New Haven. The Isle of Evermist, ruled by the city of Oracle, was sunk into the Thalassic Sea long ago during the Second Rebuilding by Thraxx Nasrath while he yet was mortal and walked the lands of Crucibal.
The halfling shires of San Simeon were quickly conquered by Orcus’ forces and the resident populations enslaved. But it is prophesied that their god, Simon the Savior tricked The Dark into letting him pass and he put himself into a bastard sword called Justifier who will claim vengeance for the halflings one day.
The Ivrian Kingdom, or what remains of it, spends every last penny defending itself against the endless hordes of undead that threaten its southern borders.
Lor Pando became independent of Ivria less than a century ago but it helps Ivria as far as it can, for it too is under threat.
In Central Sejanna, the ancient pacts that New Iparia had with the sacred dragons of Draconis Prime have been broken. While the metallic dragons have remained faithful to New Iparia, the chromatics have allied with the Tyrus Empire to the north. Over the badlands of Draconis Prime, now called The Wyrmlands, dragon riders of New Iparia clash with Tyrus in the dusty skies.
The Radiant Forest to the south is a battleground. The radiant elves fight against the demonic and undead hordes that have already taken the western half of their forest.
Far to the east, the Blood Coast remains what it always was, a haven for cutthroats, malcontents and pirates. It has become a central location for the hiring of mercenaries in the employ of Ivria, Pandoria, the Radiant Forest, and the Deathlands of Orcus and Proteus, the lands of Juiblex.
Such is the state of affairs in Sejanna as of this writing. I pray, knowing the gods cannot hear it, for some heroes to drive away these demons and their foul undead contagion but fear the end may come before that day arrives.

Your Servant,
Teleamon Gurion III
Wizard of Warwick
Thraxx-Arkana 2440 AT 296 The Dark

Tempest's Prelude

Drip. drip. drip. Must have been another stormy night last night. My ceiling always leaks when there is a big storm. In fact I can’t remember a night when it didn’t storm in some way or another, for all of my life has been in the shadow of a storm. I can remember when I was eleven and for a brief moment there was a time when I thought I saw sun light, things people talked about from books that I couldn’t read. It was the night I was separated from my parents. I remember the night clearly: A huge storm was rolling in and when it hit the farm, so did they. Although I only got a brief look at one for a moment as lightning lit up his face, I knew I would never forget what a devil looked like. My mother yelled for me to run and run I did, I ran and ran until I started falling, it felt like I was being tossed over a waterfall. Cold and wet I landed on what could only be described as a storm cloud, dark grey and pungent with the smell of dirty water. At that very moment in the middle of a raging storm I saw it, it looked like a firefly but almost too bright to look at. A tiny light floated just before me. I lay there still and motionless hearing only the beating of my heart and falling water. Even though I was sure I was laying in the heart of the storm I had never been so warm in my life. The light never left my side, it just sat there equally as still. Finally, I mustered up the courage to reach out and touch it. Instantly exploding into a light show of mesmerizing brilliance, time came to a stop. I stood up and picked a raindrop from the air.
“Amazing, is it not?” a powerful voice announced from behind me, frightfully loud and beautiful simultaneously, like a lion, deep and crystal clear. I turned around slowly confronted once again by the light, this time in the form of a human. Unlike the devil I had seen earlier, this time the light was so bright I was prevented from seeing it.
“What kind of trick is this?” I remember thinking to myself and then came an answer…
“This is no trick!” again the thunderously loud voice spoke. “My name is Palaeluc and I need your help.”
He spent what seemed like hours explaining how I died and our two fates had crossed paths at the barrier that prevents life from leaving and gods from interfering with Sejanna. He told me how he had come to my world to seek justice for the death of his young brother Luce and how a hasty error had cost him his own life as well and at this very moment there was a chance for hope. Now both of us had been born to a new fate. He offered his life force to me and in doing so asked that I do one task:

“You must kill ……”

As Palaeluc began to speak he was cut off by a bright flash instantly followed by a tremendously loud boom. Slowly the rain began to fall again as did I and the light, who was now transforming back into a small light.
“Who had he named?” I thought. I could not make out the name spilling from his lips, nor could I hear the death warrant he delivered aloud. Fearing I might not get a chance to think on this more, I yelled out, “I ACCEPT!”

When I woke from what I thought surely was a dream I found myself lying face down in the dirt covered in foliage. Standing up I took notice of my surroundings. Instantly I knew I was standing in our farm house. I had also grown several years. I spent the next couple years trying to manage the farm but I couldn’t manage. I moved on to Desiderata where I started to find myself wanting to fight. Always confronting wrong and finding myself confronted two to one, three to one or even five to one, but every time I managed to fight my way to the top. Whenever I was in the heat of combat, this song played in my mind. It was so beautiful and moving it was like food for my soul. I moved south: Down the edge of the Wyrmlands with a desert to my left and vegetation to my right. I made the easy decision to go west toward Andrist.
Again, I would find myself in a fight I surely thought would end my life hearing the music louder now, a silent melody in my mind playing to the beat of my fist.
And true to my inner song, a band of slavers made their way over the eastern dunes. Their camels overtook me and they clapped me in irons. Five to one I could probably have escaped, but ten to one? Not likely. I didn’t put up much of a resistance. I would bide my time. The way I bided my time in the gladiator pens.
“He’s an escapee!” One of the slavers remarked as he pulled up my shirt and saw my gladiator’s brand.
“Ah! Someone will pay a pretty for his return, I think.” Another one chimed in, probably their leader. “Put him in the chain gang with the others. We’ll make our way to Terminus and make our profit there.”
And that is where I currently find myself. Walking with just enough water. Just enough food. Awaiting the perfect moment for my liberation….

Malygos Onyxian's Prelude

-8th day in New Haven
Why the Seer Council felt I should read this passage is as of now, beyond me. Near 40 years have passed since this Teleamon Gurion
wrote his plea.
Eight days have passed since arriving in New Haven to seek a revelation to the visions that plague my thoughts and dreams. Though blessings to the council for not casting me away on sight. My ebon skin and sharp pupils is generally enough to warrant exile on suspicion of demonic heritage. They seem to believe I’m actually of a draconic lineage. Perhaps then, the seers might discover information from my shamanistic tribe’s origin, or possibly our broodmother – I have little to no knowledge nor memory of it’s beginnings.

-12th day in New Haven
The Seer Council have asked me to document and describe my visions over the past weeks – still mumbled and a bit cloudy, they are indeed becoming more vivid… This is what I have seen:
Surrounded by darkness and shadows, feelings of sorrow and despair upon me, the air filled with shrieks of pain and fear, stands a tall, twisted dead tree. The fruit of the tree are skulls and dismembered bodies, some still moaning and twitching. From far beyond the tree slowly walks a shadowed figure – chanting something I can’t understand. Stopping next to the tree, the chanting ceases. The ominous figure is garbed in tattered shrouds. Only darkness under it’s hood. From it’s waist hangs a chain with what appears to be a skull of metal at the end. He begins to speak, but I can hear only bits of what he says.
“Unhallowed are these lands… mumbled…haunted by the men…mumbled….
are ever watching…. mumbled …. cave in ty.. mumbled…. acidoph.. mumbled ….
pieces..mumbled..forge hell’s…mumbled .. might be the end. . . .”
I pray the council can make sense of this. I feel a drawing in my spirit. Not knowing where it might lead, I am compelled to follow.

-13th day in New Haven
After giving my testimonies to the Council, they have asked for samples of blood and hair to help aid them in their research and divinations. During the collection of these things one of them noticed my mark on my left arm. I was quite disturbed at his reaction of this finding. He dropped the tool in his hand, and a look of absolute fear and concern consumed his face. He began whispering to another in an unknown language.
“Have you seen this mark anywhere else before?” He asked me, as the other seer member swiftly left the room.
“I have”, I told him. “A small number of my kin have the exact birthmark as I.”
This seemed to not settle so well with the mage. Moments later the other seer returned with a robed half-elf with a large tome tethered to his hip. The half-elf flips through some pages in his book, stops and scrolls down the page with his finger and reads to himself. He looks at the mark on my arm, then back at his book and flips it around to show me.
A sketch of an iron skull, open-mouthed, with onyx inlaid eyes is shown in the book. Remarkably similar in size and shape to the mark on my arm.

-19th day in New Haven
Since their collections it’s been quiet around here. They’ve left me be most of the time, save for when they’ve brought me something to eat. I’ve felt almost like I were a prisoner. I’m guessing it was around 11 in the morning when they fetched me. I was lead into a magnificent chamber. Artful tapestries adorned the walls. Pillars, emblazoned with arcanic runes. At the center of the back wall hung a fifteen foot tall painting of a red-robed half-elf with fiery red hair. The image in the painting was in motion, the wind flowing through his hair, his chest swelling with his breath. Under the painting was a plaque cast in gold, large enough that I could read it from the other side of the room which read:
Sitting below the painting in a crescent form, was the Seer Council. One of them called for me to stand before them. I felt like I was going before a judge to hear my punishment.
“For seven days we researched your origins, Malygos Onyxian. From delving into old tomes of history, performing arcane divinations, to exploring your forgotten memories. What we found has been…. disturbing, to say the least. Yet, quite conclusive. You do indeed have the blood of dragons in your veins… black dragons. Your mother was a half-dragon, the other half, human. Her name was Rowena, she resided in Tyrus as a priest of a long forgotten god before she died. You and your kin hatched, from eggs that were placed far below the city. Through some divine means the eggs were placed in a sort of stasis untill not long ago. Though, this isn’t the most disturbing part of our findings.” The Seer tilts his head back slightly, he gains the look of concern and untrust as he takes a breath and continues. “Your father… was an elf. His name…” He closes his eyes and whispers something to himself like a quick prayer. “His name was Skylurk Fei.” I could hear the mage swallow in his obvious discomfort. “He resided in the unholy Typhon Swamp in a great temple devoted to the dark. He too was a priest of the same fallen god as your mother. Except he was the High Priest of that god. A most potent being he was. The High Priest of the god of death. You see, Skylurk was ironically, a hero to this world. He was a member of the five Heroes of New Crucibal. The painting behind us, of ‘The Maker’, Thraxx, god of the arcane, was one of his companions. All of the heroes ascended, and became deities to this world after the gods of that time were erased in time by a higher power. That birthmark on your arm is very similar to the unholy symbol representing Skylurk. But today the Darkness shrouds Crucibal, keeping his and the other gods’ influence from us. So tell us Malygos, what do you intend to do with this newly discovered geneology?”
The mages’ eyes pierce my very soul, as if looking for the answer themselves.
“I think a plan for me has already been decided”, I respond.
“It seems the seeds of the gods are germinating. We’re not sure whether to take your sudden presence as a sign of more promising days, or as a grim omen of darker times. Let us hope it isn’t the latter… One thing though is certain. Skylurk is waiting for his revenge.”

-26th day in New Haven
Malygos Onyxian of his own tribe entered the chambers of Jandria Astrakhal of the Cassandran Disciples in a second-story townhouse in New Haven near the Temple of Cassandra.
“We understand you are low on funds, Malygos.” she said, “So our chapter of the Disciples have decided to have you earn your keep while here in Thraxx-Arkana.”
“I understand, milady.” The half-elf replied.
“Up north, in the mountains, a few weeks ago, a strange race has appeared. They live on islands in the sky. At first, we thought these to be colonies of the Stratonimbus Kingdom, but we have seen no emissaries or giants in the region. We are concerned. I am sending you along with a contingent of dwimmerlaiks to the region. Enkidor the lammasu will be be at the rendezvous point near Wyvern Falls. There he can ferry you to the sky-islands. I hope your mission remains a peaceful one.”
She placed a small chest before Malygos. “Here is three-thousand gold pieces. Outfit yourself well.”
“Thank you, Lady Astrakhal. I shall return as soon as I am able with a complete report.”
Jandria smiled, “I know you will.”
As Malygos left her presence, Jandria cast the crystals that were in her hand the whole time upon a vellum sheet with diagrams drawn in silver and gold on it. She considered and studied the mess of crystals and regarded where they landed. She opened her window shutters and stared at Malygos below making his way to the outfitters.
“Your destiny awaits you… I’ve supplied the wealth, now you supply the hope, scion of death.”

Swutala Taki's Prelude

Queen Fracta looked upon her people, the Aw’Zinti, as they stared incredulously at the strange dark mountains, the still and silent lake and the oppressive forests below them. The queen then gave the telepathic summons bringing all the Aw’Zinti to the highest of the three skyrealms, Telth Tai, and there she gave her speech:
"Aw’Zinti of Iropa! We are now Aw’Zinti of New Crucibal.
I hear only a little applause. I understand why. Three centuries it took for us to traverse the unknown reaches of the Aether to be here at our appointed time. We have prepared for the coming of the Aw’Zactis, the Chosen One, who will help the people of this world remove the darkness you now see covering the skies of this land. We have passed through The Dark. We have succeeded for none can question Destiny.
“We will wait thirty days for ambassadors and emissaries. After that time we will send our own. Remember, no harm is to come to anyone here lest they think us monsters and enemies to be destroyed. Do not jeopardize our most holy mission! In the meantime, our resources on our skyrealms are nearly exhausted. We will need the water of the lake below. Send scouts on Fela’cha to bring water to us. If you meet anyone down there, be pleasant and cordial. Ask for permission of the water. When we have enough resources, then we will begin the On’kelah, the Decision Games, to determine our Aw’Zactis. May the peace and strength of the All Mother be upon us all.”

Swutala Taki mounted her Fela’cha with her kin and began the descent to the dark lake below…

Session 1 - A Foothold Gained

Mortix 1st to 12th, 333 The Dark (2477 AfterTime)

Dramatis Personae
Swutala Taki – female Aw’Zinti ranger/wizard – played by Needrik
Malygos Onyxian – male half-elf favored soul – played by Seth
Tempest – male human fighter – played by Glen

Our story begins in The Vale. Malygos Onyxian of his own tribe met with Jandria Astrakhal of the Cassandran Disciples. He was given a mission to check out the skyrealms that just appeared over the Northern Mountains just north of Wyvern Falls. He did so with the assistance of six dwimmerlaiks (mage police of Thraxx-Arkana) and a lammasu called Enkidor.
An hour or so later, Malygos found some humanoid felines taking water from Lake Wyvern. They hailed each other and learned that these cat-people are called Aw’Zinti and came from the distant world of Iropa. Their tribe had journeyed on their skyrealms for sixteen generations to finally reach New Crucibal within the past month. They have been sent by Queen Fracta, their leader, to help against the demonic and undead threat and to dispel The Dark Firmament that has kept the land dark and the people without access to their gods for the past three centuries. This they learned from Swutala Taki, a female Aw’Zinti.
Malygos contended that he, too, has a similar destiny and so they agree to journey south to the Barrier Wall south of Last Bastion in the Ivrian Kingdom where the line is drawn between the undead of Orcus and the free peoples of Sejanna.
Ambassadors and emissaries are sent between the two peoples and a treaty is currently being hammered out between the Aw’Zinti and Magocracy of Thraxx-Arkana.
A couple days later, Taki and Malygos got their steeds and made their way south beyond the Old Sentinels’ Gate through the Ivrian Kingdom.
En route, Taki heard the jingling of chains to the east. Scampering up a nearby tree, Taki saw some camels and a wagon with some eight or so people of various races in a chain-gang. They were watched over by ten humans dressed in studded leather and wearing scimitars, but in their hands were polished wooden clubs.
Taki told Malygos what he saw and they agreed to get a closer look. Getting closer, they learned that these men were Tyrusian slavers and Taki’s ire was raised.
One of the prisoners in the chain-gang was a human ex-gladiator called Tempest. All his gear was taken from him during his capture two days ago and put into the wagon. After escaping from the gladiator pens and trying to scratch a living as a farmer in Desiderata, here he was going right back to whence he came to serve as a slave. Finally, an opportune moment arrived when five of the ten guards left to scout a nearby glade. The remaining men set up camp. As they did so, Tempest punched a radiant elf near him to cause a commotion. The guards moved in to try and knock him out with their clubs, then the whole chain-gang went on the attack.
After a while it seemed as if the slaves were done for, but Tempest kept beating the guards back. Then, a miracle happened: Reinforcements?
Yes, Malygos rode up on his black warhorse in his black, hellknight, plate mail asking, “What’s going on here?”
As one of the guards turned and tried to explain the situation, Tempest punched the teeth out of him and his comrade with a lightning double strike with his fists.
The roar of a lion caused a slight hesitation in the battle as a twelve-foot tall female cat-person armed with a strange hammer-spike weapon emerged from the nearby woods and started laying into the slavers.
Malygos then snapped his fingers and created a spark on the tarpaulin covering the wagon and it caught fire. The camel ran away in a frenzy to uselessly outrun the flaming wagon.
Meanwhile, a couple of guards returned from the glade to assist the others against the slaves and the two interlopers.
A few seconds later and the battle was done. Tempest unlocked himself from his shackles and ran after the wagon since his equipment was inside it. He caught up with it and ran into another three guards from the glade. A mere six seconds later and all three were killed. Tempest saw the camel run into a pond where the fire was extinguished. He got into the wagon, found his gear and some feed, fed the feed to the camel and calmed it down enough to return to the campsite.
Tempest then introduced himself to Malygos and Taki and agreed to join them on their quest against the undead in the south. The remaining slaves scattered to their homes and took the wagon and camel.
The next day, the party came across a boar off the Royal Road and dispatched it easily enough. Taki took a great delight in its meat.
Finally making it to the walled city of Last Bastion a day later, the party quenched their parched throats at the Inn of the Idiot Sphinx. The dwarf innkeeper told them that the Barrier Wall is a day’s ride south of the city and would be glad to have any assistance against the undead that constantly threatens them. He also told them about the bounties paid from the Trading Post for certain kinds of undead.
The party stayed the night there and after breaking their fast the next Brightening, went to the Barrier Wall. They ascended the wall and talked to a lieutenant of the watch, Kirian, a human, who told them a short history of the Wall and some of the mercenary bands and soldiers that have tried to make inroads into the Lands of Orcus. The party informed him that they would like to have a go at destroying some undead, so Kirian ordered Gate #5 be opened and the party boldly walked through to the other side. The soldiers closed the huge, wooden doors behind them and locked them.
They found themselves alone in a land that seethed a palpable hatred for them. Off in the distance they saw a band of ghouls entering a ruin in a decimated village. The party followed them in and fought off half a dozen dire rats.
Rounding the corner, they encountered four ghouls which they dispatched with some effort. Trying to keep her Enlarge Person spell active for the duration, Taki moved further into the ruin and found a couple of ghasts. After the party moved in to confront them, Malygos was paralyzed and then Tempest shortly thereafter. It was do or die for Taki as she successfully destroyed the last ghast and dragged her compatriots out of the ruin for safety as she witnessed a trio of very pale undead running into the ruin from the outside.
Our heroes found a secluded area in the ruin (after the paralysis for both of them wore off) and cast defensive spells. Tempest ran around the ruin in an effort to outflank the wights that were now in the ruin.
The wights moved south and confronted Malygos and Taki while Tempest came in from behind. It was an easier battle than they expected as they eventually took out all three of the undead scum.
They then found a key on one of the ghast’s bodies, found a small chest and opened it to find 3,200 gold pieces. They also found some tindertwigs and other mundane items. Tempest and Taki cut off all the undead heads for trophy and returned to Last Bastion for bounties.
They were paid 190 gold pieces in bounties at the Trading Post. Tempest put their names on the corkboard with their ‘score’ and challenged anyone to best it for a 100gp reward. The proprietor of the Trading Post, Willem Darvin, signed on it.
The heroes were rewarded with great glory and recognition for establishing a foothold into Orcus, raising morale, just a little, in the land of The Dark.

Session 2 - A Mission Failed

12th of Mortix to 12th of Stormtime (Year 333 of The Dark)

Dramatis Personae
Needrik as Swatulu Taki, Aw’Zinti Mage Huntress
Setho as Malygos Onyxian, dragon-blooded scion of Skylurk Fei
Glen as Tempest, ex-gladiator of Tyrus
Gary as Kellan Warfang, half-orc barbarian of the Gruul

After the success of liberating the dilapidated temple of Grable Pando, the Ivrian Army wasted no time in shoring up and rebuilding its defenses. Now called Freehold, this redoubt will serve as another point the undead will have to conquer before it reaches the Barrier Wall.
But they’ve done this before… four times before.
But that matters not! Our heroes are not engineers, they’re adventurers! So, away to Last Bastion to rest and purchase more gear.
They return to Gate Five of the Barrier Wall the following day. Forgetting some last minute provisions… like a sword…, Tempest and Malygos visit a dwarf weaponsmith named Fenrik Coldchisel. There, they meet a fellow connoisseur of fine weaponry, Kellan, a half-orc barbarian from the Gruul Mountains who wanted to try his mercenary hand at hacking some zombies. Kellan asks the party if they are averse to going to Freehold and volunteering for a mission that General Redbridge is issuing there. The trio agrees and right before anyone can finish purchasing a greataxe…
A LANDSHARK! A bulette emerges from the ground some thirty feet away from our heroes thrashing about and consuming some of the innocent bystanders. Swatulu Taki remembers seeing these creatures on her homeworld of Iropa. She knows they are tough, perhaps a bit out of their league. But the party cares not! Attack and be damned!
Tink, tink, tink. Swords should not make that sound when hitting the enemy. You want to hear a thud. The landshark’s natural armor was thick and difficult to penetrate. After seeing what one bite did to a nearby soldier who was lending a hand, it was obvious the party didn’t want any part of it’s teeth and claws. After attracting its attention with a couple of magic spells, the bulette rushed toward our heroes chewing up a couple of them in short order (I think these were Kellan and Tempest). One of them almost died (if fate didn’t intervene). Fenrik had the bright idea of igniting alchemist’s fire and beaned the creature. Now on fire, the landshark bucked and thrashed wildly ignoring the party. It was a break they needed. The fire and the party continued their assault on the magical beast and Malygos went down after a nasty bite from the landshark. Just as the Barrier Wall guards arrived to assist, Taki, the only party member standing, launched herself into the air toward the bulette. Enlarged and enraged, she planted her hammerspike weapon deep into the skull of the creature (just as it died due to fire damage). But the guards didn’t know any better. Hail Taki! Slayer of Landsharks! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
So after getting up and dusting themselves off (Kellan’s alive!), Malygos heals the party and off they go to Freehold to see what this mission is all about.
Reaching Freehold, they see the signs of solid reconstruction. A human captain named Vorsum Skellban was in charge of the redoubt. The mission is to destroy the three bridges in Zombietown just a few miles south of Freehold. The zombies will use those bridges to attack Freehold. Some of their battle mages have done aerial recon and seen that an attack is imminent. So, Capt. Skellban gives the party three rune-charges to throw on the bridges which will immolate them when broken. There is no reward for this, but the party is free to scavenge and loot all they come across – kinda like a letter of marque and reprisal.
So, the adventurers take off for Zombietown. Now, Zombietown used to be called Eccusia back in the day and if you view the Sejanna map you can see it just south of the Barrier Wall in Orcus. It was a small town of 1,500 souls. During the 1st Undead Uprising in the first few years of The Dark Firmament, Eccusia was overrun. None survived. The remains of the town, a true ghost town, was silhouetted before the party as they made their way there on horse (or pony) back. Speaking of which, their steeds did not want to get near that town. They were too difficult to manage, so they dropped them off at a nearby glade outside Zombietown, but not before attacking a few ghouls who managed to find them en route.
Making short work of the ghouls, the party returned to their original plan: come into the town following the Proudwater river rather than the Royal Road. Do the undead really care which way you come into a town? Probably not. In any case, they destroy a few more ghasts and then, as they made their way past the town wall, a mob of ten zombies. Though flustered at first, the party soon realized that they were not as difficult as they suspected. Carving their way through the zombies, they made it to the first bridge, a ramshackle affair of helter-skelter planks and wayward nails, maybe if they just watched the zombies cross it, it might collapse on its own. And who built this thing? How many zombie carpenters have you read about? No, Jee Whiz doesn’t count.
Anyway, just before they chucked the first rune-charge, the guardian of the bridge, a dwarven spectre, emerged from the ground and threatened the party. Stymied, but not deterred, Taki gave the grenade a heave-ho and caught the bridge on fire. The spectre attacked then chased the party after they ran away. The party then split up then rendezvoused at the glade outside of town. The spectre apparently quit his chase.
“Well I’ve had enough of that.” Kellan quipped. And the party agreed. They got their horses and returned to Freehold. Now, during the spectre encounter, Malygos was touched. His life force was drained, and he needed to find a priest who could counteract such things. Unfortunately, Malygos was not so experienced as to be able to do so.
So, the hunt was on for a capable priest… within the next 24 hours!
Rumors led to a hermit who guarded a glen near the village of Prestigious near Gate Five. For a nominal fee, this druidic hermit cured Malygos of his ailment.
At this time, Taki was burning with a desire to visit her skyrealm in Thraxx-Arkana so she could report to Queen Fracta of the party’s progress and to train. So, the party takes off for the far northern realm.
Five days later, they pass the Sentinel’s Gate (which is being curiously watched by a huge gold dragon) and enter Thraxx-Arkana. The officials of the realm, upon entrance, give the arcanists of the party gold medallions. Tempest and Kellan do not receive them. Tempest is vexed. Kellan doesn’t care.
While Taki left for her skyrealm, and Malygos Onyxian was gazing at the marble bust of his hero and patron deity, Skylurk Fei at the Commons of New Haven, Tempest decided to do what he’s best at: Random bullshit. He enters the pub known as The Green Ferret and speaks to a human warmage named Garza Telemio who wants the feather of a cockatrice. Tempest says he can do that, accepts the offer (for 900 gp or a potion of similar worth) and leaves for the Archives. Upon reaching the steps of that marble and august structure, he is told by the guard that only those bearing the Gold Medallions of Magic may enter. Tempest then accosts Malygos (still slobbering over Skylurk’s bust) takes his medallion and absconds the scene. When he arrives before the same guard at the Archives, the guard is angered and calls for more guards. A trio of halberd-armed dwimmerlaiks emerge from the nearby guardhouse coming for Tempest. He takes off like a bat out of the Ninth Hell! After a chase scene that includes a rooftop nailbiter, Tempest falls into an alley (hereafter forever known as The Alley) and scares a black cat. He has apparently lost them. Tempest returns his medallion to Malygos only to discover that it has turned red as wax. Malygos shakes his head.
A couple days later, Taki finishes her training and says her farewells to her friends and family. She rendezvous with the rest of the party (for some reason Kellan cannot be found) and passes back through the Sentinels’ Gate, journeying southward to Last Bastion.
At Last Bastion the party learns of a renewed undead surge attacking Swale and Freehold. People are thinking that this might be a another uprising. But the party knows that fighting undead and demons with the Ivrian Army might not be the way to go at this point. So, they decide to follow the map they found on the Tyrusian slavers last month. Therefore, they head east toward the Badlands.
En route, they come upon a small town called Hermione just north of Gate Fourteen. Within the walled town, they find Dorcas, a sage of paleocartography and calligraphy. Our heroes hand him their map, but he can discover nothing save that the vellum on which it was scribed is not that old. With that info they leave Hermione and journey northeastward. They soon come across the dessicated remains of a horse and its rider. In his saddlebags Malygos discovers a handwritten note, written by a Farsen Gorre, explaining their quest: To find his father, Malcom Gorre, who is senile and is lost in the Badlands. Apparently, there were two riders searching for this man’s father, so one was remaining. The party continues their journey northeastward.
They enter the Badlands the next day. Desolate mesas and dusty valleys cut by millions of years of water and wind erosion revealing the multicolored strata and geologic history of the environs is what met the eyes of our heroes as they trekked across these sandy wastes.
They come across another dead horse in a valley. Swatulu noticed movement inside the belly of the horse. They pulled out their weapons and waited. Above the horse about eighty feet was a natural cave in the rock. Out of this cave came the head and neck of a brass colored dragon calling for its young. The brass wyrmling emerged from the horse and climbed its way expertly up into the cave. The dragon sensed them hovering nearby and addressed them with caution. The party sheathed their weapons and approached the dragon and parleyed.
The dragon’s name was Sedumir and she was a mature adult brass dragon. She had a few wyrmlings in her lair and is somewhat cavebound until they can care for themselves. She had a mate but he was slain by a blue dragon called Azurak last year, so she is on her own now.
And the conversation went on…
And on…
And on…
Four hours later, the party finally found a diplomatic opening and delicately said their farewells and moved on to the X on their map.
Now the Darkening was fast approaching thanks to Sedumir’s non-stop tongue by the time they made it to the map’s destination. It was sand and dunes covering what was left of, according to Malygos, a temple to Ares, an ancient god of war. Everyone knew that Ares was a dead god, consumed in the Maelstrom eons ago by the Twin Powers in the Time Before Men, so he had no power here, but the vestiges of his temple bore his still graven images half-buried in the yellow sand.
As the party split up to investigate the sprawl of ruins, Malygos and Swatulu noticed a couple of green-skinned slimy demons with a quasit holding an open scroll pointing at the ground. The quasit notices Taki and the battle is on.
The dretches were near powerless in damaging the party, and one of them failed to summon reinforcements, but the quasit was quite the annoying little pest, going invisible and striking with his venomous claws. Eventually, all the demons were slain. At that point, a sandstorm was kicking up just as the Darkening was complete. The sand near the demons gave way revealing a long forgotten entrance to the temple. The party let the horses fend for themselves for good or ill as they jumped into the pit, opened the door they found therein and hid behind it as shelter from the storm. Luckily nothing was beyond the doorway or the ancient corridor it led into. Our heroes spent the night inside waiting for morning.

Session 3 - An Artifact Found

13th to 20th of Stormtime (Year 333 TD)

Dramatis Personae
Needrik as Swatulu Taki, Aw’Zinti Mage Huntress
Setho as Malygos Onyxian, dragon-blooded scion of Skylurk Fei
Glen as Tempest, ex-gladiator of Tyrus

The next Brightening the sandstorm abated. The party cleaned off their things, broke their fast and ignited a sunrod to begin their exploration into the darkness of the ancient, forgotten temple of Ares.
Opening the wooden door before them, they saw a large hall layered in dust with eight columns supporting the vaulted ceiling. Sensing no danger, Tempest and Malygos entered gingerly only to trigger a pit trap beneath them. Down they plummeted thirty feet. Ouch. At this point, a couple of chokers took this opportunity to attack Taki. After Taki fended off one of the creatures, the choker began to scale down the pit to get to the others. Except, he slipped and fell into the pit near Tempest. Tempest did not hesitate to do him in. The remaining choker was slain by Taki. She then threw down a rope and got the others back up in short order.
The pit trap didn’t seem capable of resetting itself, so they crossed it at the diagonals and investigated the rest of the chamber. Tempest became restless and opened the north door. Peering inside he saw a black mass of thousands of insects on the floor, walls and ceiling moving toward him quickly. Tempest shut and braced the door with his body. The black, squirmy centipedes found their way through the many cracks and gaps in the door to totally cover him. Tempest freaked out (who wouldn’t?) Hacking and slashing against the thousands of venomous critters was not very efficient. Tempest screamed “Area attacks! Do area attacks!”
But no one had any or failed to use them. Taki took out a torch and waved it at the centipedes which seemed to be effective as they moved off of Tempest and came after Malygos. After a long period of squashing bugs, the remaining two-hundred or so scattered into various cracks and crevices in the floor and walls. Tempest was affected by their venom, reducing his Dexterity a little.
They proceeded to penetrate further into the north corridor where it intersected with another one with a long row of doors with two portcullises at the far western end. “I don’t like this.” Malygos mumbled.
“Ha ha!” Tempest maniacally screamed as he broke open the door in front of him. Beyond was a dusty room that seemed to connect to the other rooms to the west. Carefully, the party crept into the next room and they saw a rust monster scraping at the floor. Tempest lunged for it and swung his mighty greataxe only for it to clash upon the monster’s back and ‘crack!’. The head of the axe cracked and started to dull. It was broken. Just then, a choker emerged from behind the party and attacked Taki, attempting to strangle her. After a quick battle, the choker and the rust monster were slain. Taki cast a mending spell on Tempest’s greataxe removing its broken condition. Onward!
They finally got to the portcullis to the south and found the lever in the north room to open it. Inside was a small shrine devoted to Ares. A statue of the dead god was over a stone altar covered in centuries-old blood. Malygos found a secret catch which opened the face of the altar revealing a silver bowl with water inside, and in the water was some ancient gold coins. As Malygos seized them, a voice boomed from the statue: “Whom do you serve?”
“Ares!” cried the half-elf. Then two chokers ambushed the party.
A minute later, the chokers were dead. “By the Serpent, I tire of these chokers.” Swatulu Taki said. They left the shrine and explored the south area from the main hall.
Opening, the double doors to the south they are greeted by another choker. While still in combat with the creature, Tempest opens the west door beyond it. Luckily, there were no adversaries within, but some strange inscribed tiles on the floor. Warning Tempest no to do anything until the choker was killed, Taki eventually killed it with a true strike hammerspike to the head.
The tiles were inscribed in three ancient languages, one of which Taki was familiar with: Ancient Sejannese. It said: “Let those who remove these plaques be cursed unto the fourth generation”. Tempest noticed a lot of guttered tapers and candles to the south of the choker room they just left. Just a wall of wax practically. Taki gave him a torch and asked him to melt the wax and see if there is a secret passage beyond. While Tempest was slowly melting the wax, and getting bored doing it, Taki and Malygos removed the plaques and found an ancient spellbook locked with a brazen latch. None of them felt cursed.
While the Aw’Zinti was trying to decipher the Ancient Sejannese of the spellbook, Tempest successfully melted the wax down enough to see a pair of doors!
“Wonderful.” Taki replied, “Just let me peruse this tome a little longer and we’ll be off.”
“What’s in that thing?” Malygos inquired.
The Aw’Zinti looked at him with her feline eyes, “A veritable trove of spells!”
“Arcane I take it?” Malygos asked.
“Yes. They are.” she answered. “There also seems to be some notes in the back regarding an alliance with Phyrexia.”
“Who? Who’s allying with them?”
“This temple. Or rather, their inhabitants.” she replied. “But this was during the Pugnapax. We know what happened after.”
At this point Malygos foolishly revealed to Taki that he was of an evil alignment. This caused a great disruption in our game for an hour or so. We eventually, in order to save party cohesion, had to go back in time and have Malygos NOT reveal it. Hopefully, this will keep the others from considering changing their alignments to neutral in order to accept Malygos.
Back to the story…
The party went through the newly found double doors to the south and found an empty chamber with stairs going further down. Carefully navigating the stone stairs, our heroes discovered a roughly hewn underground chamber with a passage east that collapsed.It wasn’t entirely collapsed and it looked as if one could get through it as difficult terrain, but Dean misheard me and thought it was a dead end. That’s why the party went back up to the main hall.
So back to the main hall…
One passage left to try. East. Through the double doors that have already been felled by an unknown force in the past. Inside? Stairs going down to an opening. They gingerly made their way down the stairs. Then, pffft-kang! A javelin trap! An iron javelin flew out of the wall and struck Malygos. Undeterred, he moved on to the landing where two sarcophagi on either side of him lied. Opening the north one revealed a MUMMY! The undead thing grabbed for Malygos and got up out of the sarcophagus. Malygos cast his spells while Taki moved behind him cast scorching ray. Tempest burst his way in and behind the mummy, striking with his greataxe. The mummy was torn to shreds in mere moments but not before contaminating Malygos with his rot.
Malygos (though this was unknown to anyone else since he is completely covered in black plate armor) was dessicating rapidly. He was already losing his abilities. He knew enough about these horrors to know that he needed a remove curse spell and a cure disease spell cast within a minute of each other. And he had to find them soon!
The party got the hell out of the temple, gathered their steeds (they’re still there?), and traveled to see Sedumir, the brass dragon.
Sedumir was glad to see our heroes and conversed at length about a desert druid she knew who lives a day southwest of her cavern. So, the dragon took Tempest and Malygos on her back and went to see Hamfist, the druid. At a lonely oasis stood a solitary hovel. A cussing, cursing human with disheveled hair and a shirt of camel-hair came barreling out and shouted at Sedumir.
Sedumir took all this with a grain of salt. She asked if he could cure diseases.
“I can. But I can’t remove curses. There might be someone at Hermione over yonder who might be able to do that. But I need some victuals. My store is runnin’ low.” the druid said.
So Sedumir took Malygos, Tempest and Hamfist to Hermione. Hamfist went with him so they could time the spells correctly. After a few hours of searching to no avail, they entered a tavern called the Thrice-Damned Cockerel. Therein, they found an elf bard playing his lute.
“Not many people in here. Are you that good or that bad?” Malygos asked.
“I don’t start my set until nightfall. Very tactful of you to notice, however. Who are you?”
“I am Malygos Onyxian, this is Hamfist, a druid friend of mine, and you?”
“Ah. I am Cerianwyth the Fair, grey elf and rhymester. Care to hear a chord or two?”
“Yes. I think so, actually. Can you remove curses with your songs?”
“For a fee. Are you so cursed my friend?”
“Indeed. A mummy got a hold of me in the Badlands.”
“Mummy rot! Here let me help you.” Thus did Cerianwyth the Fair cleanse Malygos of his affliction with the soothing sounds of sonorous songs. Within seconds, Hamfist brought out his cactus and shook it over Malygos’ body to cure his disease.
“I am grateful to you both.” Malygos said. He gave 200gp to the bard and then went to a general outfitters to purchase blankets and food for Hamfist.
They then returned to Sedumir who took them back to the oasis.
Meanwhile, Taki was playing babysitter to Sedumir’s wyrmlings in her absence. He promised her she would do this thing since Sedumir couldn’t leave her young unlooked for. It was pretty uneventful for a while, but on the last day, a large blue dragon swooped overhead. Taki crapped her breeches. She made her way under the cave entrance and saw the long neck and horned head of the blue dragon peering into the cave from above. He must have landed on top of the mesa! Taki then quietly cast a spell to imitate a loud noise. Thinking it a trap, the blue dragon took to the skies. Taki panted heavily. That was close.
Sedumir returned shortly with Malygos and Tempest who thanked her (then Sedumir took another hour talking about what the people looked like in Hermione) and the party went back to the Ares temple, but not without Taki receiving the promise of a favor for her valiant defense of her wyrmlings.
Reaching the temple, the party left their horses (and pony) outside while they returned to the temple. They skipped past the pit trap (still open) and was about to enter the stairway to the sarcophagi when a mad, screaming monk in loose fitting, black garments landed a flying kick to Swatulu Taki and then did a flurry of blows on her. As the party converged on him, they heard an incantation beyond the stairs and a dretch demon emerged from the stairs to fight our heroes. Now, the party converged on the dretch and the monk, but an incantation brought forth a giant scorpion from the stairway.
Are you believing this? It gets worse…
“Winky Dinky!” and a giant centipede made its way to combat the party.
“I’m still casting!” and a dire rat scurried its way to fight the party.
“I’m sending my familiar!” and a quasit showed up invisibly and messed with the party.
Yes, whoever had conjured all this crap was finally finished.
The party killed the monk, slew the dretch, critically hit the giant scorpion, stomped on the giant centipede and then the conjurer himself appeared and went invisible casting grease on a spot that no one crossed. Why? Because Taki cast See Invisibility and saw the sylvan elf conjurer moving after casting his spell. Eventually, (Taki or Tempest) grappled the mage and had him hogtied. Meanwhile, Malygos killed the dire rat and the quasit which affected the conjurer greatly.
Taki in a moment of high vengeance asked him no questions and summarily decapitated the elven conjurer with her Aw’Zinti blade.
After resting a bit after that long battle, they descended the stairs, passed by the sarcophagi carefully and entered the large chamber beyond…
There, they found another altar dedicated to the war god, Ares, but instead of a statue of the god behind it, they saw a curious, black and grey machine standing two stories high and thirty feet wide. At one end was a wooden chair with leather straps and a metal cap with wires and tubes connected to the machine.
“What the hell is this?” Tempest asked.
“I don’t know, but it looks Phyrexian.” Malygos said.
“There’s a book on the altar, let’s see what that can tell us.” Taki said.
As Taki perused the tome which had a dessicated tongue nailed onto the cover, she discovered that this was a Phyrexian device given as a gift to the temple of Ares. It creates clockwork soldiers with one setting and bring life back to the living on the second setting. In order to do either, a modicum of ‘black oil’ is needed in the fuel tank.
“Holy Powers! We have a means to resurrect without a priest!” Malygos realized.
“The question is: What are we going to do with it?” Taki said. “Those demons had a map to this place. They know about it. Or at least are looking for it and have an idea where it is.”
“But they don’t know for sure. We slew them.” Tempest added.
“True words. But they could send more if the original crew doesn’t report back.” Taki replied.
“We could dismantle the machine and then rebuild it somewhere else.” Malygos surmised.
“Actually,” Swatulu remarked, “there are strange drawings in the back of this volume that seem to be schematics of this machine. But where are we going to relocate it? Sedumir’s cave? Hermione? This doesn’t make much sense.” Taki said.
“Well, Sedumir does owe you a favor…” Malygos remarked.
“Hell. You think she wants any part of this Phyrexian thing?” Taki retorted.
“She may not know anything about the Phyrexians. That was a long time ago. Even for dragons.”
“I still think it’s a bad idea.”
And so the debate continues….

Session 4 - A Ransom Paid

20th of Stormtime to 10th of Powerwind (Year 333 The Dark)

Dramatis Personae:

Needrik as Swatulu Taki, Aw’Zinti Mage Huntress
Setho as Malygos Onyxian, half-elven cleric of Death and Destruction, servitor of Skylurk Fei
Gary as Kellan Warfang, half-orc barbarian of the Gruul Mountains

During the debate as to what to do with the Resurrection Machine, Tempest decided to go outside and check after the horses (a euphemism for using the toilet). Oddly enough, they did not hear from him again…
Just after Tempest left, however, a cloaker that had been lurking on the chamber’s ceiling all this time decided the time was ripe to descend upon our luckless heroes.
The cloaker floated down and enwrapped Malygos Onyxian in his black, webby skin, consuming him in bits and pieces. Swatulu Taki immediately took action and attacked the horrid abomination, injuring Malygos in the process.
The creature tried various attacks using subsonics on Taki with little to no effect. Malygos tried vainly to break free of the muscular clutches of the cloaker, while taking more damage from Taki’s attacks.
Eventually, the creature was slain and the half-elf wasted no time in healing himself and Taki from the cloaker’s rage.
It was at this opportune time that Kellan Warfang entered the chamber.
“By Gruumsh’s eye, I finally found you guys. Thanks for leaving a lot of clues as to where you went! Luckily you leave a lot of dead things in your path. I almost lost you in these badlands until a brass dragon helped me out. Told me you were here. When I saw Tempest, I knew I found you. What’s up?” the half-orc said.
“Oh nothing unusual,” Taki replied, “Just killing chokers and cloakers. And we found this…” she pointed at the Machine.
“What the hell is that thing?” Kellan said scratching his head.
“It’s a Phyrexian machine. It makes clockwork soldiers and raises the dead. If we can figure out how to work it.” Malygos said.
“We’ll let’s figure it out.” Kellan said.
So Taki helped Kellan into the ‘fuel tank’ and had him scout around in there looking for clues. All he found was a set of four intake tubes for the ‘fuel’, but no residue of the ‘black oil’.
Kellan removed himself from the machine, “Dry as dust in there. Nothing.”
“Dammit.” Taki cursed, “I was hoping we would have an idea of what this ‘black oil’ is.”
“Let’s go to Hermione, get some tools and stuff and disassemble and move this thing.” Malygos asked.
“To WHERE?” Taki screamed back, “You never answer that question! Where are we going to put this machine?”
“Well, anything is better than leaving it here.” Malygos replied.
“We have the key in our possession. No one can use it without it.” Taki said.
“So we’re just leaving it here for anyone to come across it.”
“It’s 20 feet high and 30 feet long. It ain’t going anywhere.” Taki said.
Neither did the conversation…
Swatulu Taki wanted to take this opportunity to ask Hamfist some questions about Earth Arcana and Malygos wanted to switch from Favored Soul to Cleric of Skylurk Fei’s Legacy. So the trio left the Temple of Ares and skirted around Sedumir’s lair to Hamfist’s Oasis.
En route, Taki decided that to ingratiate himself to the old desert druid, he would offer him some sustenance. So, the party ambushed a lioness in a secluded rock valley and killed it, but not after she pounced on Kellan and raked his chest up a bit. Then Taki crafted a makeshift travis and dragged the carcass to Hamfist.
The druid looked non-plussed as the party explained their gift to him.
“Well, I have to say I’m really surprised to find my lioness friend, Matuna, on a gridiron ready for eatin’.” Hamfist declared, “You folks know I’m a druid, right? I protect the plants and animals of this region? What made you think I wanted to eat a lion right now?”
“My apologies, sir. I thought you needed food.” Malygos replied sheepishly.
The druid continued, “I did. Last week! Remember we went to the city and replenished my victuals. Holy shit, I can’t believe this.”
“Well, we can bury her, I guess.” Malygos said.
“Nah.” Hamfist sighed. “We gotta eat her now. I don’t want my friend to rot in The Dark and become food for carrion. Let us take in her strength and prowess.”
After a few prayers invoked by the druid, the party roasted the lioness over a spit and had a great, though somber, feast.
“So what do you know about The Earth, my friend?” Taki asked Hamfist in between mouthfuls.
“Much. Especially this area. Why?” the druid retorted.
“I want to master the secrets of Earth. I want to feel its strength and use it against evil.”
“Hmmmmm. You mean Earth the element. I have no arcana to teach in that Truth, but a friend of mine to the southeast, a half-orc called Antor. He might be able to help ye.”
“Is he an arcanist?”
“Well, he ain’t no druid, that’s fer sure.” Hamfist chuckled. “Go by there and say hello for me next Brightening and see if he’ll take ye in.”
So, the next Brightening, Taki journeyed to a rather well-crafted stone archway carved into the rock cliff-face surrounded by rubble and the desolate foundation of an ancient fortress.
A small elemental of earth merged out of the ground in front of Taki. It spoke in Common. “What do you want?”
“I want to learn the secrets of the Earth. I am a wizard. I was sent by Hamfist. He says hello.” Taki said.
The elemental soaked itself into the rocky terrain as a half-orc in dull, brown robes and wielding a staff of petrified wood tipped with a bluish gem emerged from the archway and walked toward the wizard-huntress.
“You have my regards as does Hamfist. So that old codger sent you here, did he? What sort of race are you? An outsider no doubt.”
“I am of the Aw’Zinti, kin and enemy to the K’zinti. My people traveled long to arrive here and assist your people against the undead that plague your land. It is my mission to eradicate The Dark.” Taki recited it as if it were a mantra.
Antor was impressed. “Interesting. Come with me, Aw’Zinti. Let’s see how much you know…”
Five days later, Taki returned to Hamfist’s Oasis and met Kellan and Malygos just returning from Hermione. Their attitudes seemed more cheerful and their morale, better.
After saying their goodbyes to Hamfist and his dog, Dawg, the party made it back to the Temple of Ares and penetrated the underlevel.
The party got past the difficult terrain of the collapsed entrance to the natural cavern beneath the temple. Inside it opened up tremendously. The ceiling was twenty feet high and filled with stalactites. Suddenly, a pair of chokers emerged from the shadows and attacked our heroes.
While fighting the, by now, familiar foes, Taki got too close to a dweomersink and lost his highest level spell in memory. The dweomersink then started to glow. Then an undead shadow got involved in the fray.
All in all, the party was victorious with a few minor scrapes. But emerging from around a natural stone wall, glittering with moisture, was a huge, black, goliath beetle the size of a two-story house! Kellan moved in to close with it. So did Malygos. Taki stayed back in disbelief of the huge insect, flinging some spells at it. The beetle went after the priest and sliced him with its scissor-like pincers. Malygos spilled half his blood on the rough-hewn floor. The beetle then dropped him and went for Kellan. The half-elf cleric then escaped the fray to lick his wounds. The half-orc barbarian hacked at the chitinous thing with little to no effect, as the goliath beetle sliced into him as well. Kellan Warfang could only save himself with a little luck and a great rage. Alive only because of his rage, he hacked and hacked at the insect to no avail. The beetle then fumbled and stunned itself for a round which was the window of opportunity for the party to get the hell out of there.
As Malygos healed their grievous wounds, the party was formulating a plan to kill that goliath beetle. The clever idea of laying bear traps around the floor of the first chamber was agreed upon and the party went to Hermione to buy the town out of bear traps… 22 of them to be exact.
Returning three days later, the party carefully set and placed all of the traps in the first chamber. The next day, the party came back to see their progress, which was nothing. Not a single trap was tripped. Cautious and deflated, the party negotiated their way past the traps and the dweomersinks to the beetle’s area. No beetle. By this time, Kellan and Malygos were spider climbed and were walking around the ceiling avoiding the beetle while exploring the cavern. Taki stayed on the ground but was enlarged with bull’s strength and cat’s grace.
As they rounded the glistening wall, they saw not the beetle, but rather, a young male human bound with rope and gagged.
As Taki moved in to investigate the bound captive, Malygos and Kellan were suddenly surrounded by three small earth elementals that sought to harm them. While those two were busy, Taki saw a small man with a red cap, iron boots and a large scythe reveal himself from behind a nearby boulder.
“So, you’ve come for the ransom money. It took you long enough. A couple more days and I was going to feast on this youngling’s blood.” the redcap growled.
Taki was incensed, “I don’t have time for this shit.” and attacked the fey creature with her hammerspike weapon. Unfortunately, she missed.
The redcap retaliated with an uppercut swing of the scythe such that the feline Aw’Zinti was practically gutted. Taki fell backward on the stone floor awash in her own blood and leaking entrails. The redcap then took the opportunity to take off his cap and dip it into her blood. As he donned the cap again, his eyes glinted and he said, “Aw’Zinti…”
Kellan and Malygos slew the last elemental and as the half-orc barbarian ran from the ceiling to the wall and the floor to get to the redcap, Malygos cast spells from above. Kellan swung and missed while the redcap attacked from the shadows with a vicious strike. Kellan was sure that he could only take one more hit like that before going down.
Suddenly, Malygos screamed, “Okay, that’s enough!”
The redcap looked up at the inverted figure of the plate-clad half-elf on the twenty foot ceiling rife with stalactites. Kellan held his wounds and listened attentively.
“How much is your damn ransom?” Malygos asked.
“You mean you didn’t get my note?” the redcap replied.
“I don’t have it with me. How much is it?” Malygos asked again.
“Two-thousand gold was the price.”
“Here then.” Malygos removed a bent, gold crown from his knapsack and threw it to the floor of the cavern. “That should be sufficient.”
The redcap eyed Kellan warily as he made his way to the golden trinket. He hefted it in his small hands and appraised its worth. “Alright, then. This’ll do. Take your precious youngling and go.”
Malygos walked to the ground and with Kellan’s aid got Farsen Gorre up and walking. Malygos took the body of Farsen’s father which was dessicating nearby while Kellan took Taki’s body. The redcap promised to escort them to the cavern mouth since the goliath beetle won’t attack him. When they got to the egress, the redcap looked at all the bear-traps scattered about him and whistled, “This yer handiwork, eh?”
Malygos didn’t deign to answer the fey thing as he and his companions made their way out of the cavern, out of the temple of Ares, and back to their horses outside in the Sandy Wastes.
They then rode off to Hermione where the Gorre family were ecstatic at the return of their loved ones. They rewarded the party with a few thousand gold pieces and let them stay in their mansion until they were ready to move on. It was here that they learned that Farsen Gorre is the nephew of the mayor of Hermione, Polonius Zynne. Taki, thanks to the healing powers of Malygos Onyxian, was nursed back to health.

Session 5 - A Vault Vanquished and a Soul Redeemed

10th of Powerwind to 6th of Ulsicor (Year 333 The Dark)

Dramatis Personae
Needrik as Swatulu Taki, Aw’Zinti Earthmage Huntress
Setho as Malygos Onyxian, half-elf cleric of Skylurk Fei’s Legacy
Glen as Tempest, human ex-gladiator of Tyrus
Gary as Kellan Warfang, half-orc barbarian of the Gruul Mountains
Dave as Manus Firebeard, dwarf mercenary from the Silverhome Citadel

We last left our heroes in the small town of Hermione, where they recently rescued Farsen Gorre from the depradations of the evil fey redcap under the Temple of Ares. Having feasted well, they replenished their supplies and gear; ready for adventure.
Later that night, Farsen Gorre had a weird dream. It was the same recurring dream he had since the redcap captured him. Farsen elected to tell the party about it the following Brightening.
“Through me is the sun. Through me is the banishment of darkness. Seek me in the heart of the stone.”
The party was puzzled by this aphorism and struggled with it for some time, but, in the end, they decided to head for Gate Fifteen in the Barrier Wall and make an inroad into San Simeon.
En route, they spied Sedumir, the brass dragon, circling overhead. The dragon landed and conversed with them for just under an hour. But Taki picked up something in her speech: “An abandoned slavehold you say? In the Wyrmlands?”
“Yes.” Sedumir replied, “a dragon’s flight north of my lair. Tyrus once used it to store their slaves before moving them to their emporiums. What about it?”
“This piques my interest.” Taki said, “Perhaps we can explore it and find some clues.”
So, the party said goodbye and thanks to the dragon as they turned around and went northward toward the Wyrmlands.

Several days later, while still in the Badlands, the party neared a few tents flapping in the dry breeze. As they got closer, a female dressed in a gauzy burkah and wearing a veil emerged from a tent. “Salutations and good journeys. We are the jann. We are bound to this land. Come and refresh yourselves for you have journeyed long and the weather is hot and dry.”

Manus at this point started for the tent, “Do you have any ale?”
“We have date wine, I hope that will suffice.” she answered.
“Don’t go in there, Firebeard.” Malygos whispered.
“What’s the big deal?” the dwarf asked.
“It could be a trap.” the half-elf responded.
Taki inquired further as other jann emerged from their tents with weapons lowered, “What do you mean ‘bound’ to this land?”
The janni retorted, “We are creatures of the earth. Outsiders, you name us. We are to wander these lands until called. We are servants of the shaitan… for now.”
And Taki to her, “Well, I thank you for your hospitality, but time is of the essence and we must be moving on. The Mother’s blessing be upon you.” Taki cantered through the camp and made her way to a cliff and hid behind it and looked on after realizing that the party did not follow her lead.
Manus Firebeard went inside the tent and drank some wine, but just as he was removing his trousers for some ‘personal attention’, the party left and he scurried out to catch up.
Leaving the jann to scratch their heads….

A few days later, the party finally reached the desert known as the Wyrmlands. There, over a sand dune, a blue, serpentine, form revealed itself. A few of its scales sparked as it made its way over the sand. A hint of ozone hit everyone’s nostrils. Taki whispered, “A behir…”
“No one crosses these dunes without my knowledge. This is MY territory. And I am hungry. Famished!” And the foul reptile lunged toward the party displaying its rows of needle-like teeth. Kellan and Tempest gave the behir some vicious hurts, its red blood spilling onto the sand. But it dealt out its share of damage, too, as it breathed ball lightning into the group on at least two occasions. Finally, the behir was worn down and near to death. Tempest, an ex-gladiator, designed a killing thrust with his sword and about to connect when suddenly… He stopped. The point of the blade was on the scales of his gullet, ready to rip them asunder with a thrust and a mere upward yank. The behir’s eyes were cast downward, cognizant of the coup-de-grace. “You have a choice, lizard.” Tempest breathed, “Stand down or be cut down.”
“I see.” the behir gulped, “Perhaps I was a bit hasty in attacking your group.” The lizard started inching back over the dune, “You have my permission to move through my territory… of course.”
The party was astonished. Cheers came from a few.
“What the hell is this?” Manus Firebeard yanked on his beard. “Is the fight over?”
“Of course.” Malygos replied, “Didn’t you see Tempest make him—”
“Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggh!” the dwarf screamed, axe in hand, running up the sand hill toward the behir.
The behir made a desperate slash with its claws, but did no harm as Manus clove the beast with a final plunge of his now bloodied waraxe.
Silence stilled the party as they saw him remove his weapon from the dead behir.
“There.” Manus said, “Now we don’t have to worry about this bastard anymore.”
“Nice move.” Tempest said, “Now who knows who or what we’ve pissed off by killing him.”
“Maybe he has a nearby lair where he keeps his plunder.” Kellan wondered.
“I could track his sign and see.” Taki added.
And so she did. With the party following behind. Not far from where they slew the behir they discovered its lair. High up on a promontory rock jutting from out the surrounding sands, a single cavern entrance. The behir’s home.
“It looks like forty feet or so,” Kellan remarked, “How are we gonna get up there?”
“Rope or magic.” Taki said. “And today… it’s rope!” She got out her fifty feet of silk rope and climbed up the incline using her dewclaws. She then secured the rope and called for the party to ascend.
Finally, the party were assembled in the behir’s lair. It was a large, yet simple cave with no other outcroppings or passages. They found the behir’s treasure trove and found some interesting things and some coinage. Malygos picked up a wardart. “Oh boy! Who the hell is gonna use this thing?” In his wrath, Malygos hurled the dart out onto the sands below.
“Hey!” Taki cried, “What are you doing?”
“What?” Malygos replied, “It’s a meaningless, masterwork dart.”
“We could still sell it.” Taki explained, “If it’s masterwork as you say, we could fetch at least a hundred and fifty gold for it.”
“Oh…” the half-elf said, “I didn’t know. Oops.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll pick it up on the way out.” Taki mumbled.
“Guess what guys?” Tempest inquired, “We now have a place to put that machine.”
“True, it will fit easily in here.” remarked the Aw’Zinti, “But how are we going to get all the parts up that incline?”
Kellan Warfang moved closer to Taki, “Rope or magic.”
Taki chuckled, “By that time I hope it’s magic.”
The party then holed up in the lair and healed their wounds and relearned their spells.

The next day, the party descended the cliff-face (Taki was sure to grab the masterwork wardart) and made their way northeast toward the Tyrusian Slave Vault.
In the distance, the party could see a lone, leaning stone tower, not more than twenty feet tall with some figures moving about on top. As they got closer, they saw that there were two of them at the top and they were armed with crossbows. They seemed like mongrelmen or mutants of some kind as their visages were grotesque to look upon.
The crossbowmen opened fire, shooting bolts at the party as they raced to the entrance of the tower and bashed the wooden door down. Meanwhile, Taki was casting magic missiles at the mutants. Tempest broke through the door and Manus burst in slicing and hacking mutants up the stairwell while Kellan worked on the downstairs mutants.
Malygos stayed behind to bolster the fighters and heal them when needed.
Manus and Tempest killed the remaining mutants on the top of the rook and cast their bodies to the ground then quickly rejoined the party as they slew the last mutant and burst the door into the interior of the vault.
After slaying a contingent of four mutants, they went to the next chamber where the party was suddenly drenched in a cascade of water from above. Thinking it a trap at first, the party rushed out of the room. But it wasn’t oil or poison apparently. Taki and Manus surmised that it is most likely a shower chamber for the slaves they bring in from the dusty environs.
The party pressed on, fighting and slaying more mutants. They made it past another chamber that doused them with white powder. At first they thought it was flour, or perhaps an anti-invisibility trap. Malygos surmised that it was alchemical in nature and was probably a de-lousing station for the slaves. So these white powder, wet caked ghosts (seemingly) were making their way to a slave chamber where they hacked off their chains and manacles and sent them out of the tower while the party moved down the stairs to the second level.
At that point, Taki yelled “No! Get them back here. Stop them!”
“What now?” Malygos asked.
“They’ll take our horses!” Taki reasoned.
The party then took time to stop the freed slaves and have them assemble outside the tower in the shade of The Dark.
“These steeds are ours. Do not take them.” Malygos made it quite clear to them, menacing them with his black, spiked plate armor, and his fearsome, horned helm. “If you dare to acquire them, you will be dealt with in a manner far worse than these mutants can devise. Understand?!”
The slaves nodded their gratitude and their understanding. Some even kneeled.
The party then regrouped and descended the stairs to the second level where it opened into a huge chamber. Inside were a small army of mutants and a couple of strange characters. Taki’s hair stood on end and she began to rasp and wheeze.
“What the hell’s up with you?” Kellan asked.
“That cat man over there is a K’zinti. My nemesis.” Taki whispered, “He must die by my hand.”
Just then, the cat man, who was conversing with a tall, blue, alien looking creature wearing bright green attire, immediately noticed Taki and hissed while brandishing his strange-looking blade. Then vanished in a blur of motion.
Taki winced. “Damn.” she said.
A general melee ensued with the K’zinti blinking in and out of visibility striking for Taki at every opportunity. Mutants were being slain like wheat before the thresher’s flail. The alien creature, a mercane, lifted a finger and announced, “To the ship!” and disappeared.
A few moments later, while the party was trying to triangulate of the K’zinti and protect Taki, Malygos (?) was struck from behind with a falchion and a “Hassan Chop!!” A critical strike by the now reappearing mercane added another threat to the combat. Malygos was felled and the mercane once again announced “To the ship!” and vanished after taking some wounds from Tempest.
In due course, Kellan struck down the K’zinti with his waraxe as Taki advanced on him.
“I thought you K’zinti were better than this.” Taki spat.
The K’zinti looked up at Taki in spite, “I’m not the only one on this world, you dolt. I am but an agent. There will be vengeance upon my blood, and my spirit will linger long enough to see it.”
“In the name of the Serpents, get out of my sight!” and with the swing of her ancestral blade, the K’zinti was acephalous.
Meanwhile, Malygos healed himself and raced outside with Manus to see where the mercane went. They found only a large crater in the sand outside the tower. Looking around they noticed that he didn’t bother taking any slave cargo with him.
All the freed slaves were then given some provisions and dispersed to go back to their homes as best they could. They took some weapons from the dead mutants and made their way back to their respective lands.
While searching the interior of the vault, Manus Firebeard found a strange puzzle lock on the wall. Taki studied it, “It’s a number square but the numbers are in a degenerate form of K’zinti numerals.” She told Manus what the numbers were supposed to represent. Then the dwarf said “Oh.” and solved the puzzle in under a minute! Even Malygos was impressed.
The lock revealed a secret passageway going deeper into the earth.

Session 6 - A Quest Accepted and an Evil Revealed

6th of Ulsicor to 16th of Flowering (333 The Dark)

Dramatis Personae
Needrik as Swatulu Taki, female Aw’Zinti Earthmage Huntress
Setho as Malygos Onyxian, male half-elf priest of Skylurk Fei’s Legacy
Glen as Tempest, male human ex-gladiator of Tyrus
Gary as Kellan Warfang, male half-orc barbarian of the Krull Klan

  • Where our heroes leave the Tyrusian Vault and head for Thraxx-Arkana
  • The Old Cemetery where they fight some ghouls and a ghast
  • The Frontier Road where they meet with the Sunswords just breaking their camp
  • Thraxx-Arkana, where our heroes and The Sunswords stay for three weeks
  • Typhon Swamp, where Malygos Onyxian wrests Skylurk’s temple from a young, black dragon.
  • Off the road near the Gruul foothills where they encounter a bull Gorgon
  • The village of Weeping Briar, where our heroes help a young human girl named Solphi.
  • The large town of Stoneridge, where our heroes find the Sunswords and Eggmandoo, the Phyrexian Dragon

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